bar room ghosts
grey's anatomy - post time warp. spoilers for all of season 6. lexie/mark. one-shot/drabble/ficlet.


Her cheek's pressed against the cool wood of the bar as he walks in, looking as hellish as she feels, with stubble lining his face, a sure sign that he's a far stretch fromokay. Vanity is one of his many flaws, she knows, so for him to stumble into Joe's looking like he'd just been in an accident leaves her feeling rather uneasy and anxious.

She finds herself lifting her head off the counter top, legs squirming uncomfortably in her seat, because it's Tuesday night, and only the lonely are out. Save for the couple sitting near the jukebox and the old man at the table behind her, Joe's been her only company all night.

Mark looks thrown off by her presence, but he doesn't turn around. Instead he shocks her by sitting down next to her, eyeing her gin and tonic curiously. He orders a scotch on the rocks and she tries to figure out what she's supposed to do next.

He chuckles lightly as Joe slides his drink over to him, his eyes turning to Lexie. "So you were right about Sloane."

Lexie's mouth parts several times before any words actually come out. "I was...what was I right about?"

Mark sips half of his drink and smirks. "She didn't care about having a dad. She just needed a place to crash. Money."

Lexie freezes, eyes wide. "I never...Mark, I never said...."

"You didn't have to," he remarks. "I could tell what you thought of her. You had a bad feeling about her and you were right."

Lexie swallows, fingers running across the rim of her collins glass. "I didn't want to be right," she admits sadly. "I'm sorry if I..."

"Don't be," he insists bitterly, turning his attention away from her.

There's a choice now, she realizes, a choice between walking away and leaving him to his own devices and staying and seeing this through. If she stays, he could hate her in the morning. She might say the wrong words, might do something to anger him, may make a total fool of herself.

She also realizes that she has nothing left to lose, so she slides her empty glass onto the bar ledge, eyes seeking approval from Mark. (She's always doing this, looking for acceptance and she hates this about herself.)

Mark polishes off his drink and sets his empty glass next to Lexie's. There's a significance in his action.

"When did she leave?" she asks slowly, afraid of triggering him.

He doesn't look at her. "Two weeks ago."

She nods. "So that's why you haven't been at work. I asked Callie, but she– I should have come by. I thought about it. I even made it to your door once..." She laughs nervously, turning away from him. "The point is, I should have come by. Or at least called. I should have done something."

Mark sighs. "You're under no obligation to do anything, Little Grey."

She winces at the nickname, accepting the now full glass back from Joe. She brings it to her lips slowly, sipping the bitter liquid with ease. "I know," she tells him. "I still should have done something."

He remains silent, honing his attention in on his drink instead of her.

Nails digging into the underside of the bar, she spins her body towards him, hands falling lightly into her lap. She commands his attention, her eyes pleading with him to hear her out.

"I don't know what happened," she begins. "I don't know what Sloane said or what she did to you, but I do know that you were a good dad to her. I know because I had a good dad growing up. I know because I saw the way you looked at her, the way you put her first in your life without ever hesitating for even a second. I know that she's missing out on getting to know an amazing person. And even if you never see her again, at least you'll know you did everything in your power to try to be the best dad you could to her. And I know she knows that too."

He takes a moment, staring down blankly at his hands and Lexie doesn't think, she just does, her hands covering his in an instant, causing his eyes to flicker up to hers.

He doesn't smile. "Yeah?" he asks, as if mocking her, though he doesn't pull away. "Then why'd she leave? If I was such a great dad, why run away? Even if she wasn't ready...it's not like she had anywhere else to go. Why would she just leave?"

Lexie bites down on her lip pensively. "You don't make it easy for people," she begins, her voice barely over a whisper. She slides her hands back, setting them down on her own thighs, head tilted downward so as not to look him in the eye. "You...you have this idea of people and who you think they should be, and sometimes it's just not who they are. You try so hard to be the person you think they need and you start making all of these plans and you just assume everyone's on the same page as you. But sometimes they're not. I know it comes from a good place, a really good place, but it's hard to watch everything get decided for you, even if it's everything you've ever wanted." She glances up at him warily. "It just has a tendency to make you feel like you don't matter."

Her eyes are fixated on his daringly as she finishes, and she's wondering if it's not too late to pull the words back into her mouth. She's not just speaking for Sloane anymore, and she's revealed more of herself than she's meant to. She swore not to do this to him, not tonight. But it happened and the words came out, and now she's left to deal with the consequences.

"So you think I pushed her away?" he asks after a beat.

Lexie blinks back her surprise. She's no longer certain who they're talking about. Nothing's coming out the way it should be. "No," she says honestly. "I think you wanted her to be more than she was ready to be. I think it was easier for her to leave than to disappoint you, because you're the kind of person no one ever wants to disappoint."

It's as if the air thickens around them and inhaling becomes a struggle of monumental proportions. She turns her head away, hiding beneath a layer of blonde hair, her fingers wrapping around her glass in an effort to stop them from trembling. It feels like eternity but eventually he turns back too, downing the rest of his scotch, and slamming the empty glass onto the bar.

She doesn't see him stand up, but somehow she can tell he's getting ready to leave. She's biting the inside of her cheek to keep from crying, praying he leaves quickly, because she's not sure how much longer she can keep this act up. She's not okay and everything is far from fine and none of it seems fair or even remotely bearable.

She nearly jumps as he turns her chin with his index finger, his thumb grazing her jaw line softly, eyes bearing deeply into hers. She's not sure how to respond or if she should even say anything at all, so she sits silently, her eyes not bothering to hide her fear.

"You weren't a disappointment," he tells her slowly, and just like that he vanishes, like a ghost, with only an empty rocks glass as proof that he was ever there at all.

She leaves without finishing her drink, skin still burning from his touch.


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