Title: In Each Tear Shed for You

Word Count: 1,026

It's even worse at night when you can't feel him against you. You keep washing the pillows with bleach because the mixture of shampoo, conditioner and something else he puts on his hair is persistent and intense. It intoxicates everything, the blankets, towels, the soft cotton wool of your pajama pants.

It is funny, you think. It is unfair that he has left and yet you are forced to deal with this. The quiet remnants of what once your love was. It is ironic that you are the victim and the one being punished by the constant reminder of what these last months have been.

The nights are long and painful, the warmth of his body has been taken away from you and replaced by a dull coldness where the imprinted shape of his body on the mattress is.

Cristina is worried, you don't eat, you have become thinner, the bags under your eyes are worryingly black and deep, they carry the weight of the tears shed for him.

She tells you you can move on, you can get out of this, and for a moment you smile and pretend to be bold and make promises, set goals. Maybe you can fill his void.

But the nights are long and your confidence has always run short.

* * *

You think about dying your hair red. Red is cool, it is trendy. Maybe buy some salmon scrubs. Paint your nails black. Wear short skirts, high heels.

They hold hands in public and he decides to sit in the table just next to yours, beaming at her jokes. George shows up next to you and starts talking about how fucked up his day is being and Derek's smile dissolves in the background while you pretend to follow your friend's story. George says something funny and you laugh a little too hard, just before stealing a glance towards Derek's direction, as if trying to make a point.

You can play his game too.

* * *

You have reached your edge.

You can try to convince yourself things are going great, but it's worthless, because you still feel miserable. You make an oath to not deceive yourself, not trick him anymore. You are not going to do this for him, you are going to tell him how you feel because you owe it to yourself.

You want to stress that he needs to choose. That it's not fair he talks to you casually as if you were a mere co-worker, a companion you drink lattes in coffee breaks with when he still kisses her goodbye in the hallways. It's absolutely unbearable.

You have this great speech prepared, you want to sound sensible and level-headed, a will that crumbles the moment he looks at you back.

You are not afraid of the consequences but your hand still shakes when you grab his forearm.

Pick me, you think.

You slide your palm through his wrist and his skin is surprisingly warm and soft.

Choose me, you think.

You smile and remember the feel of those neatly trimmed nails running across your body.

Love me, you think.

The little wrinkles on his fingers.

The wedding ring.

Wait.

No, you can't do this. You won't degrade yourself, you won't plead. He didn't tell you he was married, he kept you in the dark. He has not apologized. You stop the hold you had on him and fly away, leaving him stunned and ecstatic.

This will surely hurt tonight but for now you are better off alone.

* * *

The heart-wrenching pain lulls itself into a soft ache. You like to think that all these weeks have helped you gain perspective. It's still difficult to swallow the situation, but you know you did the right thing.

You are about to watch a film on television when someone knocks on your door.

He looks defeated, his hair is disheveled, his clothes are sodden and there's a vulnerability in his eyes that you has never seen in him.

He doesn't bother to say hello, give a proper beginning to the conversation because he has never been good at small talk and there's no use in beating around the bush when you both know why he is here.

"I need you." He blurts, so genuinely your heart starts running faster.

You feel bad for even thinking things like these but there's a certain pleasure in seeing him like this. After all the crappy days you have had since he said goodbye, it's almost comforting to see that he's been experiencing similar feelings. You want to tell him 'so do I' but you are determined to make things harder for him.

"Go back home, Derek."

"Please, Mer-"

"Go back home." You hope he is insistent enough to ignore your orders.

"I broke up with her. I want you."

You both take a deep breath.

"I love you."

It takes those three words to dismantle the facade you've built this months, only eight letters to touch reality. It'll take more though until you surrender to the dull warmth that's already being placed in your stomach.

"You can't do this." You sigh, wiping the tears from your cheeks. "You can't leave and mend things with an 'I love you'. It's not fair for me."

I love you too, you think.

"It's too late."

Maybe.

"Come with me, Meredith."

His eyes are pleading, he takes a step forward and brushes your face with his fingers, leans his head so it's touching your temple. His breath on your neck is warm and distracting.

"Leave me alone." You close your eyes and sink to this feeling.

"Come with me."

He leans back and looks into your irises. The expression on his face is a mixture of regret for all the stupid things he has done and hope for all that could be waiting for him if you are true to yourself.

"Please?"

You know what you want.

"Say yes."

Your upper lip trembles.

He holds your chin up.

"Come on, Meredith."

You open your mouth.

He waits.