Another possible outcome...
The fish tank sat beside her, just like it had before. The fish swam idly around in the clear water as if they had no worries in the world; a total contradiction to the people who sat on the couch by the tank. It was a tranquility Meredith had never experienced, but had always wanted to.
A throat cleared, pulling her attention away from the fish and the water and the distant wonderment of tranquility.
"Meredith," the voice was authoritative, but kind. Understanding. Patient. Familiar.
She sighed and met the eyes of the woman she owed so much too. "I'm back," she said simply.
Dr. Wyatt raised an eyebrow. "I see that. What's brought you to me today?"
A dry laugh escaped her lips before she could help it. "Same as before."
"Can you be a little more specific?"
"I'm not sleeping. I can't sleep."
"For different reasons than before?" It wasn't really a question. There were few secrets within the walls of Seattle Grace. And there were no secrets left between Meredith and her newly reinstated therapist.
Her eyes welled as she nodded. "Every time I fall asleep I..." she trailed off as her voice cracked. Tears fell from her eyes. "I don't know how to get rid of the nightmares. Leaning into the fear worked last time. But now...now the only fear is losing someone else. And I don't know how to lean into that."
"It's a different type of fear now."
Wyatt sighed and sat back as she surveyed Meredith. "How are you feeling?"
"Horrible. Exhausted. Terrified."
"Good?" She scoffed. How could all of those possibly be good?
"Yes. Meredith, do you realize how far you've come? Last time you came to me, it was three sessions before you said two words."
"This is different."
"But it's related. You're allowing yourself to feel things. You feel horrible and you're scared and you're admitting to it all. That's something you've accomplished."
Meredith sniffed and sat back in her chair, her arms wrapping around her waist as she breathed. "Then why won't the dreams go away?"
"Tell me about the dreams." It was Wyatt's way. Few answers. Lots of questions. "Are they the same as before?"
"Sometimes. Derek gets in the accident and dies. Over and over and over; the same freaking scenario," she practically spat, her throat aching with the sudden urge to cry. "And all I'm left with is feeling broken and lost and feeling like I wasted time."
"Do you feel like you wasted time?"
She rolled her eyes. "Isn't it kind of obvious?"
"Not really. You took the time to work on yourself, and when you were ready, you allowed yourself to tell Derek how you felt."
"You're not wasting time now, Meredith. And that's what counts. If the worst were to happen tomorrow, and Derek was to die, you would know you were together and happy today."
Tears welled in her eyes at the thought. "I can't lose him too," she whispered. After everyone she had lost in the past two years, Derek was the big one. He was the one she really couldn't live without.
"There's no reason to say you're going to."
"But the dreams..."
"Are your fears; not a key to the future."
"But they seem so real."
"What are the other dreams about?"
She swallowed hard. "In one George is running from the bus, but it keeps getting closer and closer, no matter how fast he runs." She sniffed, wiping her hand across her face despite the fact that she hadn't let a single tear escape yet. "Why is it always a freaking bus? George got hit by one. In my dream, Derek's accident was caused by one. Why?"
"It was a bus when you first started having the dream last year?"
"I would have to say that it's just coincidence."
"I hate coincidence."
Dr. Wyatt smiled. "I guess I would too if I were in your position. Now, what about the other dreams?"
A single tear slid down her cheek, followed closely by a second, third. Fourth. "It's about Izzy."
Wyatt nodded. "Tell me."
"I'm in the hospital, but it's empty..." Just like it was when I died. "And Izzy is there. And she crashes, over and over and over. And I can't save her." Just like Bonnie. "I try everything." Tears were now streaming down her face and she did nothing to stop them. "And she keeps telling me to go back, while I still have a chance, but she won't come with me."
"Do you think this place signifies death to you?"
"I don't know." Yes.
"Do you think Izzy is in this place now?"
"Maybe." I hope not.
Wyatt sighed and leaned forward, her voice softening. "Meredith, do you think Izzy is suffering now?"
A sob escaped through her throat. "If she's in that place she is."
"But Izzy was suffering when she was alive. Don't you think that maybe she's in a better place?"
"I'm not religious."
"You don't have to be religious to believe that your friend is no longer in pain."
"It's not fair," Meredith found herself practically yelling; anger and grief and frustration from the past nine days welling inside her. "She didn't deserve to die. She fought so hard. And Alex needs her. He's...it's like he's not there anymore. Why did this have to happen?"
"Death is an unfortunate part of life."
She scoffed. "No offence, but that has to be the stupidest thing you've ever said to me."
Wyatt cracked a smile. "Meredith, it's okay to be sad. It's okay to be angry. And it's okay to be scared."
"I'm all of those things," she admitted. "But why can't I sleep?"
"Is it that you can't sleep, or that you don't want to?"
Meredith started at the questions. She was far beyond exhausted. She wanted to sleep; she needed to sleep. But with the sleep came the nightmares. And she couldn't handle the nightmares anymore. "Both, I guess."
"Do you try to avoid sleep?"
She sniffed. "If I sleep, I have the nightmares."
She nodded. She had spent most of the past eleven days in the hospital, at George's bedside, willing him to wake up. On the odd occasion she found herself at home, she would wake up to Derek shaking her, his eyes concerned as he explained she had been shouting or crying in her sleep. The nightmares had peaked around the six day mark, after they had nearly lost George in his fourth surgery. Since then she would lay down, convincing herself to sleep, only to jolt upright as soon as she began to slip into unconsciousness.
"Have you tried sleeping pills?"
Meredith shook her head. "I want to be awake if something happens."
"But you need to take care of yourself, Meredith. If you continue this way you're just going to get sick."
"I'll be fine."
"Where have I heard that word before?"
Meredith scoffed. "Just –please- don't do this right now. I don't need a well meaning speech about eating well and sleeping enough. I need you to tell me how to stop having the nightmares. I need you to give me some psych tricks or whatever to make them stop."
"Meredith, these nightmares have been brought about because you have experienced a great loss. There are no shortcuts here. You need to face your feelings. And that will take some time, so it's important you take care of yourself."
Tears welled in her eyes, but she refused to let them fall. "I am facing my feelings. I have to face my freaking feelings all the time! Every time I go home to check on Alex. Every moment I spend sitting with George. Every time I see his mom sit by his bed and cry. Every time-" Her voice cracked and tears streamed down her cheeks. She covered her face with her hands as she cried. "I just...I can't..."
"Meredith," Wyatt said quietly.
"It's not fair!" She cried. "It's not..."
"It's okay to be angry, Meredith. It's okay to be sad."
"Why do these things keep happening? Why does the universe hate me?"
"The universe doesn't hate you, but I will concede that you've had some bad luck."
Her sobs transformed into miserable laughter; loud and painful and bubbling up from inside with a strength that she couldn't begin to counter. It wasn't funny, but it was. Things had gotten so bad in her life that her shrink was acknowledging it without any pushing. "I need it to stop."
"You need what to stop?"
"The pain. The dreams. The waiting. Why won't he just wake up? We've done everything we can! And we're there for him; every day we're there. Waiting. And his mom...and his brothers..." The breath rushed out of her lungs and she was silent as she struggled to breathe for a long moment. "I need him to wake up. He already missed... He missed..."
"He missed what?"
With a deep, shuddery breath, Meredith shook her head and whispered, "Izzy's funeral."
They had wanted to wait, but had been forced to concede to the fact that George wasn't going to wake up any time soon. Izzy's funeral had been dark and silent and angsty. You couldn't celebrate a life that had ended so quickly; was so unfinished. Meredith had stood beside Derek, clutching to his hand, praying to whoever would listen that she wouldn't be attending George's funeral the week after.
Wyatt took a breath and offered Meredith a sympathetic look. "I am sorry for your loss, Meredith."
She nodded as she blinked back further tears. "We can't lose George, too. We can't. He has to wake up. His mom...and his brothers... He's the only one of us that has a real family. They need him. We need him."
"He's a part of your family."
"Are you feeling like you've already lost him, Meredith?"
The air was sucked out of her chest, but she recovered quickly, shaking her head. "It's going to be different for him. He...he probably won't be a surgeon again." The injuries to his arm were too great. "And he'll have a long recovery." There weren't many parts of him that wouldn't need to heal. "But we're going to be there for him. He'll have his mom, and his brothers, and us."
"No. He's going to be okay. We're going to fight for him."
Wyatt sighed. "Have you considered the worst?"
"What are you talking about?" Meredith shot back, knowing the answer.
"Meredith, you're a doctor. It's wonderful how much you care for your friends. But you know George may not make it."
A fresh set of tears welled in her eyes. "He will," she insisted.
"I hope so. But let's think for a moment about what it will be like if he doesn't make it."
"I don't want to."
"Has he been conscious at all, since the accident?" Wyatt asked, ignoring Meredith's argument.
"Not since the day after...and that was only a bit. I'm not really sure he was aware."
"So, he's not scared. He's not in pain. That's good."
Meredith sniffed. "I guess."
"And," Wyatt continued carefully, "If he were to pass away, he would do so without being scared and without being in pain."
"But the pain is worth it," Meredith argued. "I know he's going to be in pain when he wakes up, and his life will suck for a while, but he'll be alive."
A hint of a smile appeared on the therapists face. "If I didn't think you'd get mad at me, I'd mention how far you've come. The Meredith that first came to me would never have said what you just said."
A sob escaped her mouth, and Meredith buried her face in her hands, mumbling.
"What was that?"
"I almost threw it all away!" She exclaimed, sitting back up. "I gave up. I freaking gave up in the water. And now all I want is for George to not give up."
"The important thing to remember, Meredith, is that you didn't throw it all away. You fought when you needed to. And you came to me for help when you realized you couldn't do it on your own. You came back from worse than most people ever get to experience."
"I can just remember how easy it was in that second; to give up," she admitted in a whisper, shutting her eyes tight as if attempting to expel the memory from her being. It too was haunting her.
"You're dwelling on the wrong things, Meredith. You may have given up for a second, but you fought after that, and you never stopped. And you're here now, still fighting." She paused. "George is fighting too."
"What if it's not enough?" She whispered.
"Then George will no longer be in pain, and you will have lost a friend."
"Another friend," Meredith muttered. "They were my first family; Izzy and George. I let them move in right after we started here as interns. We stuck by each other, no matter what. They were always there for me, and that..." She trailed off with a sniff, "That was new for me."
"You have more people who are here for you now," Wyatt reminded.
She nodded. "I have Derek and Cristina, and Alex. Lexie. Mark, even. But they don't replace Izzy and George."
"Of course they don't."
"I miss Izzy so much," she found herself whispering. "She was so enthusiastic all the time. It was annoying, but it was also...really nice. She never let things get her down. I feel like I need some of that right now; we all do. She would know what to say; what to do. She'd be able to make things better."
"You all loved her, so she's here, Meredith."
"And George is so helpful and supportive. He could always make me feel better."
"Then he wouldn't want you beating yourself up right now."
"How many days has it been since you've let yourself sleep?"
"Not that many." She'd lost count.
"Meredith, one is too much. You need sleep every day."
"I'm a surgeon. I'm used to sleeping less."
"You're also under an enormous amount of stress right now. You need sleep."
"I can't," she murmured, her shoulders shrugging downwards in defeat. I can't wake up crying again. I can't go through losing one of them again."
Wyatt took a breath. "Meredith, I'm going to write you a prescription for some sleeping pills. I want you to consider taking them; even just one time. You're not letting yourself sleep because you're scared. A sleeping pill will help you sleep, and chemically induced sleep-"
"Tends to have fewer dreams."
"Exactly. You need to learn that sleeping is okay again." She quickly scrawled the tip of a pen across her prescription pad and handed it to Meredith.
Meredith took the small piece of paper between her fingers. "So, let me get this straight; I come to you for psychological tricks to stop the dreams and you give me a prescription... That doesn't make you sound like a very good shrink."
Dr. Wyatt smiled. "Get some sleep, Meredith. And come and see me in a couple days. Let yourself sleep. And let the people around you be there for you."
She nodded. "Thank-you, Dr. Wyatt."
Meredith only meant to fill her prescription at the hospital pharmacy as a back up plan. But something in her made her skip the coffee cart on the way back to the ICU. She may be against sleeping pills on principle, but Wyatt had suggested them, and the therapist had never steered her wrong yet.
With the pills in her pocket, Meredith rode the elevators up to the Surgical ICU, and stumbled down the all too familiar path to George's room. He had had five surgeries to date, with at least one more scheduled. His arm was in horrible shape, his skull cap was still open for his brain, and they had no idea what kind of brain damage he had suffered.
Mrs. O'Malley was seated by George's side, her hand clutching tightly to his. Her other two sons were asleep on the couch across the small room, leaning against each other. They had barely left George's side.
"Louise, do you need anything?" Meredith asked, stepping into the room. "Coffee?"
Louise turned her head towards her son's supportive friend with a sad smile. "Your husband was just here. He brought supplies," she explained, motioning towards the tray of coffees on the table by the couch.
Louise sniffed. "You've all been so good to us. We're so grateful."
Meredith forced herself to smile. "George is family, so you're family. It's what we do. How's he doing?"
"Better, I think. I've been talking to him, and I think...I think he can maybe hear me. He moved his hand. A bit. It could have been a twitch, but I...I hope it wasn't just a twitch."
"Me too," she said honestly, staring at George's empty face. He was so pale and so...expressionless. His chest rose and feel slowly. It had been three days since his last surgery, and he was breathing okay on his own, so he was off the vent. But as much as she had hated seeing him with a tube down his throat, she didn't feel any better looking at him now, not when she knew his normally bright eyes were dark and empty behind his eyelids. God, she missed her friend.
"Oh, Derek said to tell you he would be in his office when you came back."
As much as she wanted to mirror Louise's position on George's other side, the sudden urge to see her husband was too strong. He had gone home the night before, and had been pulled into surgery that morning before she got a chance to see him. She missed him.
She needed him.
"I should go...to his office," she offered to Louise. "He was going to bring me fresh clothes." She hadn't been home since the day of Izzy's funeral.
The urge to see Derek grew as she got closer to his office. She started walking faster as she neared the elevators, punched anxiously at the buttons, and was practically shaking when she finally reached for his door handle.
When she stepped into the small room, she finally felt like she could breathe. Derek looked up from his desk with a tired smile. And it was only the two of them. In a room that didn't remind her of anything other than him.
"You brought Louise coffee," she found herself saying. "That's really nice."
Derek nodded. "You don't have to take care of them alone."
She nodded. And then nodded again. And then tears she didn't know she still had were streaming down her cheeks. Her legs suddenly felt like rubber, bending under her. It was all she could do to stumble towards Derek's desk.
He caught her and guided her down onto his lap, wrapping his strong arms around her. "Oh, Meredith..."
"I don't want him to die," she cried into his shoulder. "He's...George! He's not supposed to die. And Izzy wasn't supposed to die! It's not fair. It's not fair! It's not..."
"I know," Derek murmured into her hair, rubbing his hand up and down her back as he offered all the comfort he could.
"I'm trying really hard to stay positive, because that's what Izzy would want," she continued. "But it's not fair! Everybody leaves or dies or-"
"Not everybody," he interjected. "I'm here and I'm not going anywhere."
"Please don't die," she cried. "I can't...I can't...I can't lose you, Derek. You're...I can't lose you."
"Hey," he said sharply, forcing her head up so he could meet her eyes. His hands swept across her forehead and outward, pulling the hair away from her face. "I am not going anywhere," he said slowly, enunciating every word. And then he cocked his head to the side with a hint of a smile. "You're stuck with me, okay? Forever."
She sniffed and nodded. "Okay."
"Forever," he repeated. "No running and no leaving."
"Forever," she whispered, closing her eyes and leaning her forehead against his. "I'm sorry I'm such a mess."
He kissed her, softly. "You're my mess."
The comment brought a smile to her lips. "I love you."
"I love you too."
They fell silent for several minutes, Derek running his hands up and down her back, trying to soothe her. Meredith closed her eyes and rested her head against his shoulder, feeling like she could breathe for the first time in a long time.
"I'm here," Derek eventually whispered, breaking the silence. "You're not alone in this. You're not ever alone."
"Thank-you." Meredith sniffed. "Did you check on Alex?" He hadn't left the house since Izzy's funeral; simply alternated between his room and Izzy's.
"He was asleep."
"That's...good...I guess. Is that good?" She lifted her head, meeting his eyes.
Derek shrugged. "Everyone deals with loss differently. He's not hurting himself; I think that's all that matters right now."
She nodded, tears welling in her eyes. "I...I feel like I should be doing more for him. If it were me..." This time she shook her head. "God, if it were me I don't know what I would do."
He hugged her tighter and pressed his lips against her forehead. "You don't have to think about that, Meredith. I'm not going anywhere."
"Those are what the dreams are about," she whispered. "Some of them anyway..."
He cocked his head. "You dream about losing me?"
She sucked in a ragged breath and nodded.
Derek sighed and tenderly brushed a few strands of hair out of her eyes. "Oh, Mer..."
"They started after we got back together. I'd get a call and rush to the hospital, just in time to see them give up on you..." She shook her head, trying to shake lose the visions of his broken, bloody body on the gurney.
At a loss for what to say to make her feel better, Derek kissed her, long and slow.
"I went back to see Dr. Wyatt today," she admitted when he pulled away. They had never delved too deep into what had been discussed in the therapy sessions, but Derek knew she had gone. "I mean...she helped last time...obviously."
"Did it help?" He asked softly.
She laughed bitterly before she could stop herself. "You know; I don't get it. I went last time, because I couldn't sleep. And it turned into weeks of silence and stalking Wyatt into the bathroom and then months of therapy and work and...whatever."
"You stalked her into the bathroom?" He asked, before reading her face and shaking her head. "Never mind. That's a story for another day."
Meredith couldn't help but smile at his expression. "Definitely a story for another day." She paused. "But I will tell you one day."
"So what happened this time?"
She huffed and dug her hand into her pocket, pulling out her prescription bottle and waving it in front of his eyes. "She gave me freaking sleeping pills. Seriously! Last year I couldn't sleep and I end up spending weeks in therapy. Today I go because I can't sleep and she gives me drugs."
He took the bottle from her fingers and read the label. "Are you going to take them?"
"I don't know. I'm trying to decide whether she's lost her touch or this is actually a good idea."
"And maybe it's some shrink trick thing. Maybe this is a test...only I'm not sure if she wants me to take them or not."
Derek hugged her close. "Meredith, you're exhausted. I think you're over thinking things now. If she gave you the drugs, she wants you to use them. You need to sleep."
"Maybe I'll try them tonight..."
He made a face.
"Maybe you should try them now?"
She shook her head without thinking. "No. I need to be awake. Something might happen."
"No." She stood up, wrapping her arms around her middle and shaking her head. "I can be drugged and asleep if something happens. I need to be there."
He remained seated, regarding her carefully. "You're still going to be thinking the same thing tonight."
"Then I'll wait and take them later."
"This is not your decision, Derek."
He held up a hand and spoke softly, "I know. But it's been days since you've slept. That's not good for you."
"I've heard that before."
"That's not fair."
"I'm only saying this because I care, Meredith. You're exhausted."
"I..." She started, but trailed off as she realized she didn't have an argument.
"You're going to crash soon, Meredith. You could get sick. How are you going to be able to be here if something happens if you're so exhausted that you're sick?"
Tears welled in her eyes as she realized how right he was. "I can't have the dream again," she whispered, dropping her gaze to the floor.
Derek was on his feet in a heartbeat, rushing to hold her. "It's going to be okay. We're going to get through this, Meredith."
"I'm so tired," she breathed into his chest.
"Then sleep," he whispered. "We can go home. I'll be there to wake you up if you start to have the nightmare."
"I can't go home, Derek. I can't be in that house if George is here like this and Izzy is...gone."
"Then we'll stay here. I don't have anything on the board today."
"Can we stay here?"
He chuckled. "Did I not just say that?"
She released a laughing breath, leaning back far enough to meet his eyes. "No; I mean here. In your office." She motioned towards the couch across the small room.
"If you want."
"I like it here," she admitted. "It's quiet. Safe."
He pressed his lips against her forehead and then her lips, before releasing her. "Are you going to take a pill?"
"I guess. It may help keep me from having the dream," she mumbled as she reached for the pills.
Derek passed her the bottle of water that was sitting on his desk.
She made a face. "How old is this?"
He chuckled. "I brought it in with me this morning."
"Okay," she took the bottle and quickly swallowed the pill.
Derek followed her to the couch, and as soon as she lay down, he draped a throw blanket over her, and lay down between Meredith and the back of the couch.
"What are you doing?"
"Spooning my wife."
She giggled. "When you said you'd be here, I thought you meant you'd be doing paperwork or something."
"I'll lay with you until you fall asleep."
He pressed his lips against the back of her head. "That's my job now."
"You're good at it."
"That's because I love you."
"I love you too."
"Sleep," he whispered. "Stop worrying and sleep. I'll be here the whole time."
"Okay," she murmured, trusting his words. She closed her eyes.
When Meredith opened her eyes again, she felt like her chest was lighter then it had been in weeks. She inhaled deeply and stretched her legs. Derek was no longer behind her, but it only took two blinks for her to catch sight of his brilliant blue eyes across the small room. "Hey," she croaked, before coughing to clear her throat. "How long was I out?"
She started and lurched into a sitting position. "What? Crap. That's too long. George. I have to-"
"George is fine. Still breathing on his own. Stats are improving. Cristina's been bringing me updates."
"Did you go to check yourself?"
He shook his head.
He offered her a smile and cocked his head. "Because I promised you I wouldn't leave."
"Oh," was all she could managed to say, her heart tugging in her chest. "You really stayed here all day?"
"Of course." He made his way over to the couch and sat beside her. "I promised you I would be here, so I was here."
She pecked his lips. "Thanks. The sleep really helped. I feel...better."
"Good. You started to mumble once, like you were dreaming."
He nodded. "I tried to wake you up by rubbing your back." He smirked. "You swatted at me, rolled over and went back to sleep."
For the first time in almost two weeks, Meredith actually laughed. "I was really, really tired."
Derek pressed a kiss to the side of her head. "Do you want to go and see George?"
They walked hand in hand to the elevators and down to the ICU floor. The scene in George's room was the opposite of the morning, with George's mom on the couch and his brother's flanking his bed.
"How's he doing?"
Louise offered her a smile. "Good. I think he squeezed my hand again."
"That's really good," Meredith replied, holding onto the faith that it wasn't just a reflex. "I'm sorry I wasn't here all day..."
"Cristina told us you were sleeping. That's good, Meredith. You can only go burning the candle at both ends for a short period of time before you run out of wax. And Georgie would never want you to be hurting yourself like that."
Meredith nodded. "Have you been away at all today?" She asked, and then shook her head at Louise's expression. "What did you just tell me? Why don't the three of you go down to the cafeteria for something to eat? We'll stay with George."
"Okay." Louise stood and motioned for her two conscious son's to follow her example. She kissed George on the forehead. "Georgie, your brothers and I are getting some dinner. We'll be back soon."
When they were gone, Meredith collapsed onto the chair on George's left, while Derek sat on his right.
"Hey, George," Meredith said quietly, reaching for his hand. "So, Derek says Alex is doing better. He was sleeping today, so that's good. And your mom and your brothers are doing okay. We're taking care of them." She paused and swallowed hard. "We really miss you, George. We need you."
Pressure compressed her hand lightly, and it was an entire second before Meredith realized George's hand was squeezing hers.
"Oh my God, he squeezed my hand." She stood up. "George? George, can you hear me?" There was no reaction in George's expression. She sent a disappointed look to Derek, who returned it.
"What's going on?"
Meredith turned towards Cristina and shook her head. "He squeezed my hand."
Cristina shrugged as she dragged a chair up beside Meredith's. "Probably just a reflex."
"What? You know I'm right."
"Can't you try and believe a little bit?"
"I'm a doctor."
Cristina waved a hand. "Fine, maybe he meant to squeeze you hand."
"I saw his mom and brothers on their way downstairs."
"We sent them to get something to eat," Derek supplied.
"Good." Cristina nodded. She checked on George far more than anyone knew, but tried to avoid times when George's family was there and awake, uncomfortable with their emotions. "They seem to be doing okay."
"Louise is amazing. I can't believe how strong she's been all this time."
Cristina nodded, but didn't sat anything.
Derek sent her a supportive smile.
George squeezed her hand.
Meredith was up again in a shot, leaning over her injured friend. "George? Are you squeezing my hand on purpose?"
Cristina huffed. "Mer, it's not like he can answer that."
"George?" She called again, ignoring Cristina. "Can you hear me? If you can hear me, squeeze my hand again."
At first, there was nothing, but right before she was about to sit back down, he squeezed her hand. "He did it," she muttered, and suddenly all three of them were on their feet. "George, can you do it again?" He did.
"Oh my God," she found herself mumbling. "Someone get his mom! I...I sent her away. She needs to be here for this."
"I'll go," Derek said quickly, taking off for the cafeteria.
"George?" Meredith called. "Can you hear me?"
He squeezed her hand.
"Can you open your eyes?"
He groaned softly and his eye lids fluttered but didn't open.
"You're doing awesome, George. Don't give up," she encouraged, tears streaming down her cheeks.
His eye lids open half-way for a good second, before falling shut once again. He squeezed her hand.
"That was great, George. Rest for a minute and then try again." She glanced to her side, only to find he best friend with tears in her eyes as well.
"Derek said he was waking up?" Bailey called as she rushed into the room.
Meredith nodded. "He went to get George's mom. He's been squeezing my hand. And he opened his eyes." She turned back to George. "Can you open your eyes again?"
He moaned, but did as she requested. He opened his eyes and blinked twice before they fell shut again.
"Good job, George. Keep fighting."
This time his eyes opened and stayed open. She hovered over him and he was able to make eye contact with her. "Hi," she practically breathed. "God, George, you're awake."
He opened his mouth, as if trying to communicate something.
It was her turn to squeeze his hand. "You are going to be fine, George. We all love you, and you are going to get through this."
His lips curled upwards into a tiny smile.
Meredith smiled back. "Thank-you for waking up."
And then his mother and brothers were rushing into the room, vying for close positions. Meredith gave them the space they needed and turned to find her husband right in front of her. She threw her arms around his neck and cried into his chest. "He's awake. He's awake."
Derek hugged her back just as tight. "Bet you're glad you got some sleep now."
She laughed as she pulled away and pulled an almost crying Cristina into a tight hug. And then she even hugged Bailey. And Louise and Roni and Jerry, before falling back into Derek's arms.
George was finally awake.
Very quickly the effort of being awake took its toll on George, and he fell back to sleep. Two hours later he awoke again, and managed to say a few words, putting most everyone into tears once more.
It was close to midnight when Alex appeared.
Meredith did a double take when she spotted him in the doorway. She was off the couch from her spot between Derek and Cristina in an instance.
"Uh, Cristina called me," was his only words at first.
"I'm glad you're here," she offered, pulling him into a tight hug. "You even shaved."
Alex sucked in a breath and offered her a sad smile. "I've wallowed long enough." He paused for a long time before continuing. "She would have wanted me here. She wouldn't have wanted me at home like I was. I have a responsibility to her, to make sure George gets through this, to make sure he doesn't stop fighting. That's what she would have wanted."
Meredith couldn't stop the tears streaming down her cheeks if she tried. "Good. And we're here for you, to make sure you never stop fighting, just like Izzy would have wanted."
He took a deep breath before meeting her eyes and nodding. "No giving up. It's what Iz would have wanted. She'd kick my ass if I wasn't here."
"And we'll kick your ass for her if you ever give up," Cristina offered, appearing beside them. She cracked a small smile. "Just like Izzy would have wanted."