I cried like a baby when Meredith cried. Story title is from the lyrics of "Off I Go" by Greg Laswell, the song they played in the Season 5 finale as Izzie and George died.


She didn't notice him at first.

He startled her, first reaching into George's cubby and pulling out his books, placing them in the cardboard box, then turning back for the remaining contents.

"What are you doing?" Her voice sounded foreign, unnatural to her own ears.

The janitor shrugged off her question as if her concern was unnecessary, as if throwing away a dead friend's belongings meant nothing. "We need the space," he replied, his casual tone implying that she was overreacting.

She watched him fold George's lab jacket, laying it on top of the books in the box, barely able to contain her horror. She wanted to stop him. She wanted to tell him No. Who, exactly, did he think he was, taking another person's belongings and tossing them in a box - as if they meant nothing?

She stood there, frozen to that spot, even after the janitor left.

He was right. She hated that he was right. George was gone, and he was never coming back. He was never coming back.

It hit her like a punch to the chest, taking her breath away and making her sway slightly. George was dead.

She waited until the few lingering residents had gone, and then she gingerly took a seat on the bench in front of his locker. Her eyes searched every shelf, every corner, every nook, every cranny, as though it might give her the answers she wanted, the answers she needed. Why? Why George?

George, who had selflessly thrown himself in front of a bus to save a perfect stranger.

George, who used to look at her like she was a goddess, worshiping her with his puppy dog eyes.

George, whose heart she had broken the night she made love to him and cried.

George, who was a dear friend and a wonderful surgeon.

George - her George, their George - who was now buried six feet under in a cemetery, cold and dead.

George is dead.

She couldn't hold the tears at bay any longer. They pressed at the corners of her eyes, vehemently demanding to be let loose, and she could do nothing but comply. She did her best to stifle the sobs, afraid to let go, afraid to be heard, afraid to allow her heart to fully feel the loss of this wonderful man.

George is dead.

Her mind played those words over and over in her head like a broken record. She hadn't cried for George, until now. It was as if she had blocked herself from feeling; feeling was too much - feeling hurt. This hurt. This hurt dreadfully, like a strong, angry fist reaching deep into her chest and choking her, cutting off her air supply.

George is dead.

Remembering him hurt. She remembered his goofy grin, the way his shaggy brown hair would brush against his eyebrows when he let it grow too long, making her wish she had a pair of scissors. She remembered the way he concentrated in surgery, the way he focused on each and every patient as if they were the center of his world at that exact moment. She remembered the hurt in his eyes when he saw a friend hurting, the way his empathy would eat him up, the way he would look into your eyes as if he could see everything - as if he felt everything.

George is dead.

The way he stammered when he was nervous. The way he laughed. The way he kissed. The way he smiled. The way he lived, the way he loved... Memories crashed down on her in torrents now, making her skin crawl and her stomach turn.

"Meredith?"

Derek's voice caught her off guard. She cracked. The tears came faster; the sobs were harder. He settled next to her, wrapping his arms around her, as she struggled in vain to regain composure, wiping her nose, pressing her hand to her forehead. At last, she gave in, leaning against him and bracing herself with a trembling hand on his arm. Her body shook from the sobs, but she couldn't stop herself now.

George is dead.

He's never coming back.

Her heart shattered as she sat, helplessly, sobbing into Derek's shoulder. She was no longer strong; she was selfish. She was selfishly mourning the loss of a dear friend, a cherished companion who could never be replaced. Who knew if heaven or hell existed, or if there was any hope at all? He was gone, and he was never coming back. The ripping pain in her chest spread to the rest of her body, snaking its way down her limbs, taking over her entire being.

Derek said nothing, but he held her close, gently running his fingers through her hair.

He let her cry, and she let him hold her.