AN: I know Meredith, Cristina, and Callie aren't the best of friends with Lexie. But for the purposes of this story, we're stretching it a little. Lexie doesn't have many friends; I don't really care to write Graziella, you know?
Standard disclaimers apply and, despite due diligence, the inevitable mistakes are my fault.
If I Should Fall Behind
Chapter One: Brilliant Disguise
We stood at the alter, the gypsy swore our future was right
"This," her breathing was still ragged, her throat raw so the words didn't have the force they deserved, "This is pathetic. Pathetic and…and ridiculous and trite." She stared intently at the women in front of her. Lips pressed together, her brows knitted in an expression of carefully contained misery. "And cruel," she finished in a whisper. "Mainly just cruel."
She'd even sprung for the veil. Her reflection mocked her and, unable to stand the sight of herself in a room nearly choking with mirrors, she ripped the headpiece off her head. Her scalp tingled with all the pins she'd dislodged.
But maybe, baby, the gypsy lied
Meredith stood in a corner, one arm wrapped around her slim waist, the other bent at the elbow as she gnawed on her fingernail. Cristina was sitting on a small stool, her back to the vanity. Izzie was pacing, her dress reflecting light with every step.
The double doors of the hotel burst open and Callie came in, her breathing heavy. "What is go—" She gave a slight jerk of her head, moving the fringe of her forehead. With her vision clear, she finally saw the scene before her.
Meredith pushed herself off the far wall to reach the other woman. She handed over a scrap of paper and Lexie turned away while Callie read.
"Maybe," Izzie began after Callie had finished, "Maybe it's a mistake."
Cristina shook her head, the elegant line of her neck exposed. "He's gone," she said, her voice uncharacteristically subdued.
Lexie turned to her, taking in the oyster sheen of her bridesmaid dress. Then she faced Meredith, the same color gleaming back at her. She closed her eyes and swayed.
Callie rushed to her first, helping her against the couch cushions, her dress billowing out to surround her. The thick material kept the other women at a distance, even as they sat next to her. For the moment, then, she was safe from the comfort and the reassuring pats.
"How?" she croaked. "How?"
"Rat bastard," Callie offered first.
"Spineless son of a bitch," Meredith added.
"Selfish asshole," Izzie muttered. She avoided Callie's eyes.
Only Cristina was quiet. So it was her Lexie looked at first when she finally opened her eyes. "How?" she asked again.
"Cruelty," was the answer.
I want to know if it's you I don't trust
Some time later, Lexie stood up, her posture firm, her balance unwavering. "Someone has to tell them all," she said.
Meredith cleared her throat. "Derek already did."
Lexie nodded slowly, an image of a checkmark filled her mind. That was one less thing to attend to. Her life had been full of lists lately. There had been the DJ, the caterer, the flowers, the minister…so many checks. But eventually they'd all been taken care of and all that was left was to live happily ever after.
Her chest tightened and she rode the wave of pain that seized her. She told herself to breathe through it so it'd eventually subsided. The realization that there would be more was one she tucked away.
They were all looking at her. Meredith, Cristina, Callie, Izzie. They were all waiting on tenterhooks; ready to give her whatever she needed the moment she asked for it. They were all, she realized, hoping to feel like they were helping, like they were useful. She didn't have the heart or the energy to tell them they were superfluous; all the formally dressed women in the world couldn't take away the fact she was a bride without a groom.
"I need a drink," she said finally.
Meredith nodded, bounding off her seat to head for the door. "I'll find the bartender."
Lexie shook her head. "No." Her throat was dry. "I need to get out of here."
It was Callie's turn to help. "Okay. Let's just get you changed and then we can—" She was cut off by laughter and Lexie soon realized the sound was coming from her.
"My clothes—my clothes are in George's car," she managed, her body lurching forward with her broken laughter. She let herself fall back against the cushions, her giggles catching. "He's taken everything," she said. The laughter died in her throat, leaving a lump the size of her worthless bouquet in its wake.
Cristina moved closer, her slim hands covering hers. It was such a random expression of concern, Lexie jerked away. Then she looked down at their hands folded together and realized Cristina was trying to ease her grip on her veil. She hadn't released the tulle since she'd pulled it off her head and her knuckles were white.
She pulled away from Cristina with a slight shake of her head. The other woman backed off immediately, nodding her understanding.
Meredith must have left because at some point she returned with a bottle of scotch. Izzie poured the amber liquid into five glasses. After they were all passed around, Lexie slapped the fanning dress down and looked at the other women.
It wasn't something she thought about a lot, but her erstwhile fiancé had gotten around for playing the underdog. She looked at Meredith, her perpetually sad eyes and willowy frame. At Callie, strong-willed and gorgeous. Finally, her eyes rested on Isobel—a model with legs taller than her entire body. Not to mention hair that could glow in the dark.
Christ, two of her bridesmaids had slept with her runaway groom. Some would say she'd been asking for this, if she'd gone ahead with it knowing what she knew.
"He's a douchebag, Lexie," Callie said, swirling the contents of her glass.
Lexie chugged hers, desperate to feel her limbs again. When had it gotten so damn cold?
The pearls woven in Izzie's golden hair glinted as she shook her head. "I can't believe he would do this. This isn't George."
Callie snorted. "So he can cheat, but he can't jilt?"
Izzie raised her eyes to the ceiling and remained quiet. Lifting the glass to her lips she drank deeply.
Lexie poured herself another drink, her hands shook and more liquid sloshed over the glass than into it. She snorted. "At least he married you."
Callie swallowed, shifting in her chair. "Well, the Elvis impersonator locked the doors."
A smile crept onto her bloodless lips. "Standoff. I got a classy wedding and you got a husband."
Callie shook her head. "You also got a nicer ring."
Izzie nodded. "You can actually see it." Then, as if regretting her words, she looked over at Callie. The dark-haired woman, however, didn't react; her attention was on Lexie. Izzie's posture relaxed.
Meredith sighed. "Where is he going?"
Lexie shrugged. Cristina answered, "The letter didn't say."
"What about his mom?"
Callie shook her head. "She's gone, too."
Cristina smiled grimly. "Good." She turned to Lexie. "The last thing you need is a mother right now."
She'd meant a mother in the same vein as Mama Burke or her own mother. Two seconds too late, she thought about Susan Grey. Lexie's face crumpled. "Damn," Cristina muttered.
Izzie stretched arm around Lexie's bare shoulders. Her skin was cool to the touch.
'Cause I damn sure don't trust myself
Half a bottle later, Lexie stood up, taking her glass with her. She tipped her head back and emptied its contents down her throat. Her dress rustling around her, she walked to the vanity and wiped her mouth on the back of her hand. A streak of crimson stained her skin.
"He wasn't even that good in bed."
Silence permeated the room. Then Izzie gave a one-shouldered shrug. "She's got a point."
Callie glared at her. "You ruined my marriage for bad sex?"
Izzie glared back. "You're gay!"
Meredith rolled her eyes. "Not the point, guys." They turned their attention back on Lexie, who was massaging her hair out of its intricate twist.
Callie sighed. "He wasn't that great."
Izzie turned to her. "Did he do that pecking thing?" As if to demonstrate, she jerked her neck forward and back.
Callie stared at her before picking up her drink.
Meredith came forward, her arms crossed under her breasts. "Lexie," she started, "Let's get you home."
Lexie laughed. "Where the hell am I going to go?"
"You can stay with me and Derek."
Cristina stood then. "I really don't think she's going to want to shack up with the happy couple."
Meredith looked confused. "I—"
Callie nodded her agreement. "Together people suck."
Meredith divided a look between Callie and Cristina. "I'm just trying to—"
Cristina interrupted, "Trying to what? Understand? You can't."
"And you can?" Meredith shot back. The words were out before she could stop them. Then the room got quiet again.
Izzie's brown eyes widened. "George pulled a Burke," she said, somewhat in awe.
Cristina let out a low laugh. "He always was Burke's guy."
"Oh, God," Lexie moaned, pressing a hand to her forehead. "I have to go to work and see all those people."
Cristina shook her head. There were ways to survive this and there were ways that were sure to equate defeat. "Don't even go there."
Callie gave Lexie's upper arm a slight squeeze. "They'll get over it when something else happens."
"What is going to trump this?" Lexie asked of them.
Callie shrugged. "Huge trauma?"
Izzie offered, "Someone having an affair." When Callie looked at her once more, she added, "Oh, enough already!"
Meredith thought about it for a moment. "Ex-wives coming back."
Cristina snapped her fingers. "Illegitimate pregnancies."
Lexie turned her head in a half circle to look at each uncomfortable woman in the room. "Is one of you willing to get knocked up in the next two days?"
One by one, they all looked away. She sighed. "That's what I thought." After another drink, she was feeling less sick and more detached.
No-nonsense as ever, Cristina got to the point. "If they got over Burke, they'll get over this."
Lexie turned to her. "At least Burke showed up!"
Cristina's brow rose. "What's worse: a guy running or a guy taking one look at you and heading for the hills?"
No one answered.
Then Lexie looked up, her upper chest lifting above her white dress as she exhaled. "I need to get out of here."
Meredith said it when no one else would. "Joe's?"
Izzie gave her a quelling look. "Jesus, Meredith, she's not you. Getting drunk and sexing up some inappropriate guy isn't going to help."
Lexie shook her head, her hair a loose cloud now. "No, Joe's is perfect." Hitching up the layers of her wasted dress, she led the way out through the double doors. Bridal paraphernalia was still strewn around the room, each piece of frippery telling a story of how hectic her day had been. Getting ready had been a painstaking process. Perfection had been her goal and perfection wasn't easily achieved.
No, she thought, her lips twisting up in a smile that was all self-deprecation, it wasn't easy at all.
AN: "Brilliant Disguise" is performed and written by Bruce Springsteen.
Also, I don't hate George. I used to love him. But the George now isn't the George I loved in S1, 2, and 3. He's kind of a ghost and one I can mold to do something not so George-ish.
Please Review! =)