The day before
"Mal, wake up."
"Hmmm?" Mallory blinks, while Rob shakes her shoulder. They're lying in her bed in the Hunt house, and it's morning.
"This is the last time we're going to wake up together before we get married," he whispers.
She turns over and snuggles closer to him.
"Tomorrow is the day that we fully commit to each other," he continues. "We'll declare our intentions to stay together forever in front of our friends and families."
Her eyes fly open. "And I will be the most beautiful woman in the world."
"You already are." He kisses a freckled shoulder.
"Yep, you're a keeper," Mallory yawns. "Tomorrow is the day that I've dreamed of since I was twelve years old. I'm going to walk down an aisle with my parents, I'm going to be wearing a fantastic dress, and most importantly, standing at the end of the aisle will be you." She kisses him. "You're the best part of tomorrow."
"Remind me why I have to sleep at my parents' house tonight? Why I can't see you before the wedding?"
"Because it's our big day," she murmurs, poking his chest for emphasis. "It'd be ordinary if we just rolled out of bed, showered, and got dressed together. I want anticipation, I want excitement, I want you to stand there and ache for me to join you."
"We'll have thousands of ordinary days after," she promises.
They lie there for a quiet moment. Rob sighs. "I'm so glad that you didn't have any plans for Christmas. That night changed our lives."
Mallory smiles against his chest. "Yes. Lucky break."
Rob stares at the ceiling. Then he starts to consider something. "Now that I think about it, its really strange that you of all people didn't have plans on a major holiday that involves food."
He raises his head and looks at her. She grins at him. "Maybe I didn't just happen to not have plans that night."
"Hurricane …" he chuckles. "What did you do?"
Mallory smiles proudly. "I was supposed to go to Annick and Bernard's. As soon as I heard you were in Paris, I told her I wasn't feeling well and was probably contagious. Then I told my parents I was all alone, and they told your parents and your dad called you. Voila! You fell into my trap and I 'ruthlessly seduced' you."
"You minx." He pulls her close and kisses her. "You manipulative scheming little brat." He kisses her again.
"I had to take action, it was possibly my one chance with the love of my life." She giggles before kissing him back. "I do like to have things my way."
"At least I know that, before we get married." He moves his hands down her body and squeezes her ass. "You reeled me in, hook, line, and sinker."
"You're pretty persuasive yourself," Mallory murmurs. "I would never have dreamed we'd get married so soon."
He leans his forehead against hers. "Having second thoughts?"
"Not at all." She closes her eyes and sighs. "Right now, everything is perfect."
Working briskly, Meredith changes the sheets on Rob's bed in her house. She barely looks up as Derek enters the room.
"This is the last sheet I have to change," she says. "I set up a bed for Alex in the room that Jonah's staying in, he sent a message that he's going to rent a car at the airport."
Derek looks around the room, at Rob's childhood things. "Our boy is coming home one last time," he grins. "I'm glad they agreed to stay with us until they move to L.A."
"And then we'll be sharing them with Owen and Cristina when it comes to the major holidays," Meredith sighs.
"I don't care where we eat, as long as Mallory does the cooking."
She smiles and sits down on the freshly made bed. "No matter where he is, he'll always be our Robbie. The answer to our hopes and prayers when we couldn't seem to conceive. The most wonderful little boy in the world."
"He's a good man," Derek says, sitting down next to her. "Smart, kind, hopelessly head over heels in love, and finally ready to make his own mark in medicine."
His pager goes off. Derek chuckles as he pulls it out. "Speaking of medicine..."
"I thought you arranged it so that we wouldn't be on call."
"I did." Derek frowns. "Metcalf wants me to contact him regarding Mr Foley. It's just a phone call."
Emerging from the bathroom, Chloe rubs her damp hair with a towel. She smiles wistfully as she looks into Mallory's bedroom, where the bed is covered with suitcases and boxes. As she enters, she sees her sister staring at a checklist.
"You're leaving us again," Chloe sighs.
Mallory looks up and half-smiles. "I made a deal with Rob."
Chloe nods and picks up a bridal magazine. "I guess you won't need this any more."
Leafing through the articles, Chloe scoffs. "Look at this stuff. These magazines make it sound like the wedding day is the most important day you will ever have in your life."
"It's a very important day for me," Mallory points out. "But I'm not having a fancy wedding just because a magazine told me I should. I'm having one because I like the glitz and the glamour. I like making a spectacle. That's not new."
Mallory regards her sister thoughtfully. "Do you think you'll ever get married?"
"I suppose. First, I need to get through med school. That's all I'll care about for the next few years."
"Have you thought about your specialty?"
Chloe snorts. "Mom asks me that on a weekly basis. I can definitely see myself as a surgeon. But I don't know what kind. Orthopedics is interesting, because you can build limbs. I think Ophthalmology would be fascinating, how awesome would it be to give a person sight? But then with Pediatrics, you can cover a wide range of surgeries. I can't choose right now."
Mallory smiles. "Not Cardio or Trauma?"
"Maybe Trauma," Chloe shrugs. "But not Cardio. That would be asking to be compared to Mom for my whole career. And I don't think I could have the same zeal for it that she does. Maybe when I start my rotations in a couple of years, I'll find my passion."
"I hope you find your passion too. Professionally and personally."
Chuckling, Chloe puts down the magazine. "Baby steps, Mal. I've got a hot new haircut. Now I just need to learn to come out of my shell more."
"Well, I hope that when you do emerge, you discover a bright wonderful world of opportunities," Mallory smiles.
JoJo waves to her coworkers as she leaves work. As she steps out into the parking lot, a man waves to her from a parked car.
"Well well well." She grins and walks over. "Fancy meeting you here."
"Get in." Alex Karev smiles and unlocks the doors. "Your parents are running late, so I'm your ride to the rehearsal."
Chuckling, she sits down and buckles herself in. "You're looking good."
"And you're looking quite different from when I last saw you." His eyes take in her plain t-shirt, her ponytail, before he pulls away. "You've lost your tan."
"Hello, this is Seattle."
"You look ... more at peace. Happier." Alex flashes a grin. "Maybe getting kicked out of school is the best thing that will ever happen to you."
JoJo makes a face. "We don't need to talk about that."
He appraises her. "I hear you're switching gears, maybe gonna study kinesiology?"
"I think so. I'm going to work for the next year before going back to school."
"Think you'll return to Miami?"
She shakes her head. "I'm done with that place."
Alex grins, keeping his eyes on the road. "There was a big scandal on campus this summer."
"Uh huh." He smirks. "This Biology professor eloped with one of his students in June. She's pregnant. The Dean did the math and he's facing disciplinary action for having inappropriate relations with one of his students."
JoJo's blood turns cold. "Which professor?"
"Um, what is his name ... Ford … Fortunato?"
"Forzani?" Her voice is tense.
"Right." Alex looks at her quizzically, noticing how pale she is. "You know him?"
"He's married now? And having a baby?"
"Yeah." Alex looks at her again and is taken aback at her stricken expression. He quickly comes to a realization. "Did you ... with him?"
Her head spinning, JoJo turns away and looks out the window.
"Jo ..." Alex touches her hand .
"We're here," she says, curtly. "Actually, you just drove by the church."
"Crap." He looks at her again. "We'll talk later."
Inside the church, Mallory is staring at Derek. "You what?"
He holds up his phone in defense. "I have to go in and consult."
"Can't you have the scans sent to you?"
Derek sighs. "I need to examine the patient myself to offer my best diagnosis. I'm just going to consult, I promise you. Do you really need me for the rehearsal?"
She arches an eyebrow. "I guess not."
"The minister is here and ready to start." Chloe reminds her sister. "We can't keep her waiting."
Mallory nods. "Okay. Let's do this."
As she exits the church after the rehearsal, JoJo spies Alex sitting in his rental car, checking something on his phone. He looks up and beckons to her. She turns to her mother. "Can I get a ride with you?"
"I think Alex wants to speak to you," Meredith notes.
"Give me a minute." She walks over to his car as he rolls down a window. "What?"
"I think we should talk," he tells her. "Get in."
"I have to go to the Hunts. It's a rehearsal supper. For everyone in the wedding party." She studiously avoids looking at him.
"Jo …" He waits until she glances at him. "Haven't I always kept your misdeeds quiet from your folks? I think you need to talk to someone."
"There's nothing to talk about," she snaps, and turns around, walking towards her mother.
Cristina is contemplative as she looks around the crowded dining room table, as everyone digs into dessert. Diego and Chloe are debating the merits of a movie. At the other end, Rob and Mallory are feeding each other bites of cake, while JoJo is subdued and focused on her plate. Owen is telling a hospital story to Annick, while Jonah is telling Meredith about Paris and his girlfriend.
"Hello in there!" Meredith waves at her, during a lull in conversation. "Where are you?"
"I was looking at my kids," Cristina says. "Wondering how I ended up with three of them when I never wanted any at all."
Her children all turn and look at her in surprise, as conversations die down.
"Seriously, how did this happen?" Cristina gestures towards her family as Owen smiles knowingly.
"Go back to the not wanting kids ..." Chloe requests.
Smoothing her hair, Cristina chuckles. "All I wanted in life was to be Wonder Woman, ruler of my own planet, or a surgeon. Kids were never a part of that."
"Never?" Diego asks, puzzled.
"Never. Until one day everything changed." Cristina takes a sip of wine as she chooses her words. "It's Rob's fault."
Her future son-in-law is taken aback. "What did I do?"
"You were cute," she accuses, pointing at him. "We were at your house, you were, oh, eight or ten months old? You were sitting on Owen's lap and he was tickling you and you were laughing. I looked at the two of you and all of a sudden I wanted to have Owen's baby. It was crazy."
Mallory takes Rob's hand and smiles.
"He was a very adorable toddler," Meredith laughs.
"I thought it over," Cristina recalls. "These feelings were very new. I started to get all warm and fuzzy when I saw Robbie and I hated that. I hated that my uterus was throbbing and I hated that I had this new longing inside of me that I couldn't control. At the same time, I was establishing my career. At least Owen and I had worked things out, we were living together by then, quite blissfully."
Her husband smiles at her, blue eyes warm with memories. JoJo watches her curiously.
"I told myself that I wanted to give him a child, because I was still unwilling to admit that I wanted one for myself," she muses aloud. "It was like I could just have the baby and hand it over to him to take care of. I didn't even tell him when I stopped taking the pill, I wanted to surprise him. It was only after he found out that I could admit that I was ready to take this leap of faith for both of us."
She looks at her children. Chloe is listening raptly, her eyes warm and amused. Mallory is gazing at Rob, squeezing his hand. Diego's head is tilted, as he processes what he's just heard.
"We applied ourselves to the task at hand, and I finally conceived. We decided to make it legal and got married within a month. People took bets on which of us would back out first, but it never happened." She winks at Owen.
"And when our Chloe was born, motherhood didn't come naturally," Cristina admits. "Fortunately, she has always been low-maintenance. A bit stubborn, but Chloe has an old soul and could handle having me as her mother."
Her firstborn daughter grins bashfully and looks down.
"I am Cristina Yang," she declares. "I don't back down from a challenge. So I worked at being a good mom because our daughter deserved the best."
Chloe looks up at her then, with a tender expression. "You succeeded."
"And it's a good thing we had the low-maintenance one first, because the next one has truly earned the name 'Hurricane'," Cristina continues, gesturing to Mallory. "Our little spitfire was so eager to be born, she came two months early and turned everything upside down."
Saucily, Mallory waves at her mother.
"It was a lot of work, juggling two kids while coming into my own as a Cardio Goddess, but we as a family made it happen." Cristina nods towards Owen, who raises his glass to her.
She turns to Diego. "We thought we were done. Then this young man was placed in Owen's arms one Christmas Eve. The odds were against him. He was at great risk of dying a slow death in the foster care system. But there was something very special about him. He was so special that we decided that we could make room for one more. So after I closed the holes in his heart, we brought him home to keep him for ourselves."
Her son's brilliant smile lights up the room.
Cristina clears her throat and looks at Rob. "So yes, it's your fault." She smiles. "Thank you."
"Thank you for being cute!" Mallory laughs, before kissing him.
"Just imagine how cute our kids are going to be," he says.
"But not anytime soon, right?" Cristina smirks. "I'm still too young to be a grandmother."
Chloe props her head on a hand and looks at her. "I would never have guessed you didn't want to be a mother."
"Well, if you'd turned out dumb, I might've regretted it," Cristina jokes. She notices that JoJo is looking at her rather curiously. "But I don't regret any of it. Having children made me a better surgeon, instead of diminishing my career."
"You rule the field of cardio-thoracic surgery," Meredith points out.
"You may not have a magic lasso or run around in a leotard," Owen grins. "But you're a wonderful woman."
"And a terrific surgeon." Diego grins as he pats his chest. "Thanks for the heart."
"You did the cooking, so let us clean up," Rob tells Mallory and Annick after supper. "Go relax."
"I'm going to check on Bernard's flight," Annick tells Mallory, pulling out her phone.
"Okay." Mallory wanders into the living room, where JoJo is seated alone, lost in thought. "Hey, how are you?"
JoJo glances up, smiling brightly. "I'm good. That was a great dinner."
"You all right?"
"I'm fine!" JoJo stands up. "Hey, uh, Lexie messaged me, a bunch of people from Seattle Grace are meeting at Joe's. I'm - going to go over there with our moms and Chloe."
"Okay." Mallory hugs her briefly. "See you at the church tomorrow."
As soon as she enters the bar, JoJo heads straight for the ladies' room, and walks over to the mirror. She looks at her reflection for a long minute, contemplating the person she's become.
Slowly, she reaches behind and releases her blonde hair from the ponytail, letting it cascade down past her shoulders. She tugs the hem of her t-shirt out of her jeans and ties a knot in it, exposing her midriff. Digging through her bag, she pulls out her make-up and starts lining her eyes.
A few minutes later, JoJo emerges from the room and saunters towards the bar. She feels the familiar rush of knowing that heads are turning and she could have anyone that she wants.
As the other women laugh at their table, Meredith frowns, watching JoJo flirt outrageously with the four different men gathered around her.
"She's … having a good time," Cristina cautiously observes.
"Uh huh." Meredith sighs. "And soon she'll be sitting around depressed again."
"All of the Grey women go crazy at one point," Lexie says. "She'd be abnormal if she didn't make bad choices." She glances across the bar at Alex, wondering how long he's been watching JoJo.
Chloe joins them at their small table. "Hey."
"Hey." Meredith takes in a deep breath. "Chloe, do you know what's going on with JoJo tonight?"
Chloe's eyes flicker over to the scene by the bar. "I don't know. But I'm not surprised, I knew that she couldn't stay on the straight and narrow for long."
"Chloe!" Meredith looks exasperated. "So she's being human. I ... I really wish you'd tell me what you know."
"You should be having fun," Callie tells Chloe. "Go dance with cute guys and don't worry about anyone."
Chloe rolls her eyes. "Have you noticed that all of the cute guys are standing around JoJo? Typical."
"I see some cute ones over by the pool tables," Callie tells the young woman. "Come on, let's go play. Smile, put on a show, and they'll start buying you drinks."
It's so easy to gather men around her, that JoJo finds herself disenchanted and drinking to take away her boredom. Unsteadily, she makes her escape to the ladies' room and relieves herself. When she exits the stall, Sofia is washing her hands in the small sink.
"Having a good time?" Sofia smiles, drying her hands. "I noticed you aren't lacking for company."
JoJo shrugs. "The guys? They're … a nice diversion."
JoJo tucks a lock of hair behind her ear. "Were you coming onto me? After the party?"
The other woman chuckles. "I was testing the waters. Seeing you tonight, I'd say you're not so tired of men."
"But …" JoJo sighs, feeling unaccustomedly shy. "Maybe … I … think I might be interested in exploring those waters. Men are boring. You're … not." She takes a tentative step forwards.
Sofia stands in front of her. "Too late. I was willing to give you a guided tour of Lady Land, but not now. I'm interested in people who know what they want." With that, she leaves the bathroom.
Sighing, JoJo moves to the sink and starts washing her hands. She looks up at the mirror. "Stupid, stupid, stupid," she mutters at her reflection. "Can't you do anything right?"
Mentally cursing herself, JoJo leaves the washroom and walks back to the bar. She pauses when she sees the guys are now hanging around the pool tables, some of them chatting with Chloe.
JoJo stands and observes the scene. She admits to herself that a few months ago, she would have done anything to steal the men back. But now … the thrill of the game has left her. She notices how Chloe is laughing with ease, joking with two of the men, and finds herself happy for the other woman.
Alex appears out of nowhere and hands her a glass. "I thought you could use some water."
She glances at him as she takes the drink. "Thanks."
He nods and moves closer. "About that professor ..."
"Big scandal, yes." She smiles brightly. "Do you think he'll be fired?"
"No, he's got tenure, but he's taking an unpaid sabbatical next term." Alex watches her carefully. "I'm sure the Dean would be interested to know if Forzani had inappropriate relations with more than one student."
"Didn't you break up with her?"
"Yeah, but we still go out for a drink or two." He coughs. "What happened, Jo?"
"What does it matter?" She sips some water before putting the glass down. "That's the past."
"Okay. Back alley. Now." Alex grabs her arm and marches her towards the back of the bar and out into the night air. Panicked, she changes tactics.
"This is inappropriate." JoJo smirks before placing her hands on his shoulders. She leans close and whispers, "I know my mom threatened to cut your balls off if you ever touched me."
"Was it the Forzani guy or another one?" Alex tries to remove her hands. "Jo, what did he do?"
She kisses him, pressing her supple body against his. For a moment, Alex is caught up in a sudden wave of heat, before he pulls back and gently takes her face in his hands. "No. We're not doing this."
"You want me," she purrs, rubbing against him and sliding her hands to his belt. "I know you do. Don't fight it."
"What man wouldn't want you?" Alex growls, pushing her hands away. "But not like this."
JoJo's face contorts with anger and she steps back. "Why the hell not?"
"Because unlike most men, I give a shit about you," he tells her. "Yes, you're hot and you know it. But you're better than this, Jo. You deserve more."
Surprised, JoJo can only stare at him.
He touches her face again, not recognizing himself in his actions. "Don't you know that you have something within you that makes you special? That's why I'm not going to help you screw your problems away."
She scowls. "Screw you." Angrily, she turns and walks back towards the building. Meredith opens the door and blocks her way.
"Do you mind?" Frustrated and on the verge of tears, JoJo tries to move past her mother.
Meredith folds her arms, watching Alex like a hawk. "What's going on?"
"Nothing!" JoJo protests. "Get out of my way."
"Something happened to you in Miami," Meredith notes. "Was it Alex?"
He shakes his head vigorously. "Not me. I looked out for her like you asked me to. As much as she would let me."
"It wasn't him," JoJo quietly affirms, wrapping her arms around herself and looking down.
"So there was a him?" Meredith steps forward and gently places a finger under JoJo's chin, tilting her head up. Her daughter begins to cry. "Oh, Johanna."
Arizona and Cristina sit and watch Chloe play pool with one of the residents.
"I feel like I'm watching her take her first steps again," Cristina observes. "I have really hot daughters, did you know that?"
"That is one seriously great haircut on Chloe," Arizona muses. "Did she say which salon she went to?"
"I can ask." Cristina frowns, watching another resident approach her daughter. "No. No! Jenkins is not allowed anywhere near my girl. He's not good enough for her."
"He's married! And very interested in Cardio. I bet he just wants to scrub in with you."
"I suppose." Cristina sighs. "This is why she'll never work at Seattle Grace. She doesn't want to work in the same hospital as her parents, and I don't want people using her to get to us."
"That's why Sofia is an intern at UCLA." Arizona sighs, watching her daughter across the bar. "Kids grow up too fast."
Sitting behind the wheel in his rental car, parked on the street, Alex watches JoJo in the rearview mirror. She is sitting in the backseat, finishing her confession. Meredith, seated next to her, hands her a napkin.
"Thank you," JoJo mutters to her mother, wiping her eyes.
"I'm going to kill him," Meredith says. "He took advantage of you."
"Think about what I said earlier," Alex adds. "If you talk with the Dean, she might be able to do more to keep that guy out of the school."
"What does it matter?" JoJo protests. She glances at her mother. "Sorry I'm such a screw-up."
Meredith strokes JoJo's hair. "Honey, I'm not mad at you. I wish you would've told me sooner."
Crying, JoJo leans against her mother. "I didn't want you to know how dumb I am."
"You're not dumb."
"Yes I am," she sobs. "I'm the one who can't do anything right, the one that nobody wants when they get to see the real me. The only thing I have going for me is I'm hot, and I'm going to get old and lose my looks and die alone. I'm worthless."
Alex shifts uncomfortably. "That's not true." Her eyes meet his in the mirror for a brief moment.
Meredith clears her throat uncomfortably. "Alex ..."
He takes the hint. "I'll go for a walk so you can talk privately." He leaps out of the car.
"You're my wonderful girl," Meredith croons softly. "Have I … told you about my miscarriages?"
Meredith swallows. "One was after Rob and before you. We learned that she was a girl one week before … I was scared to try again, but my heart told me I had to. When I found out that you were a girl, I was terrified and at the same time, I ached to hold you safe in my arms. When you were born, your father and I were so happy and grateful. We have always loved you, and we always will."
Hot tears spill out as JoJo closes her eyes.
"You made our family complete. Rob maybe wasn't so thrilled before you were born, but that changed when he first saw you. It was so cute how he took on the role of big brother. He's been worried about you, we all have."
Sniffling, JoJo wipes her eyes. "Please don't tell him or Dad."
"I won't, although I think they'd be more understanding than you think. We're all imperfect and we've all made huge mistakes." Meredith gathers her courage. "I've had my rough patches, my crazy moments. I gave up on life a few times. It took therapy to help me decide what I really wanted, and want to savor life."
JoJo opens her eyes. "You want me to see a shrink?"
"It could help to talk with someone," her mother says, calmly. "Someone who can help you see your own worth. Think about it."
They both look up as Alex opens the driver's door and leans in. "I brought someone to talk with Jo."
The passenger door opens, and Chloe sticks her head in. She frowns when she sees JoJo. "What's wrong?"
Meredith's phone rings. "It's Derek!" She jumps out, and Chloe takes her place in the back seat. Alex closes the driver's door, leaving them alone.
Concerned, Chloe looks at JoJo. "What happened?"
Crying again, JoJo says, "He got another girl pregnant. He married her."
"Who?" Chloe's eyes go wide. "Oh. Oh!"
Chloe purses her lips and tries to think of the right thing to say. "Does ... your mom know?"
JoJo nods. "She was wonderful."
"Good." Chloe looks down, wishing for guidance. "When ... how did you find out?"
"Alex. He told me when he picked me up after work."
"Okay." Chloe pauses. "So is that why you were drinking and flirting earlier?"
"Uh huh. I thought it would make me feel better," JoJo confesses. "It didn't work."
"It's not that I want to be married to him now," the blonde woman blurts out, trying to express herself. "But …"
"You're wondering why her and not you?" Chloe guesses.
The black-haired woman looks at her. "I'm sorry that professor hurt you. No matter all the crap between us now, I don't like seeing you in so much pain."
Head down, JoJo sniffles.
"You know ..." Chloe licks her lips. "I've had a lot of doubts about you. About whether or not you could really change. I've been seeing a newer JoJo lately … she's been a good friend to my sister, she's been very helpful, she's been a lot less judgemental about other people … I think I could like this new JoJo."
"Thank you," JoJo whispers, before glancing up. They look at each other for a long moment. "When you go to Harvard ... I'd like to know how you're doing. I want us to stay in touch."
"We can do that."
The blonde woman wipes her nose. "You should go back in now, you were having a lot of fun."
"Uh huh." JoJo smiles a little. "Go back to flirting with cute boys. I think I should go home now."
Outside, Meredith finishes her call and turns to Alex. "Derek has gone into surgery after all. Mallory is going to freak out."
She looks at the occupants of the car. "I guess you didn't know that they've been fighting this summer. I'm surprised you got Chloe to come outside."
"I knew they haven't been getting along," Alex smirks. "I just pretended I didn't."
Rob and Owen enter the Hunt house. "Everything is in the car," Rob tells Mallory, who is curled up on the couch next to Annick. "You're really sure I can't spend the night with you?"
She grins as she rises. "I'm sure." Grabbing his shoulders, she raises her mouth to his.
Owen sighs and checks his watch. He looks meaningfully at Diego, who is reading in a chair.
"Oh come on," the teen protests. "I'm too old for a bedtime."
"We all have a big day tomorrow. And maybe your sister wants some privacy," Owen chuckles, moving towards the stairs.
Rob and Mallory smile at each other. "I don't want to leave," he says.
"I want anticipation," Mallory reminds him, before kissing him again. "The next time you see me, I want you to think, 'Wow, I'm marrying her!'"
"I already think that," he confesses. "I can't believe I'm marrying Hurricane Mallory, destroyer of birthday parties."
"You're not going to run away to Costa Rica, are you? You know I'll track you down if you do."
"You don't scare me. But your mom does."
Laughing, she gently pushes him towards the door. "You'd better go. Sleep well. It's our big day tomorrow." She leans in close and whispers, "We need to rest up for the honeymoon sex."
Chuckling, he opens the door. "Are you going to do that thing where you stand on your head?"
"Absolutely. So that means I need to go to bed and conserve my strength. Good night, Robbie Shepherd."
"Good night, Hurricane." He kisses her one last time, before leaving.
The Wedding Day
The smell of coffee makes Cristina's eyes fly open. She looks at the steaming mug on her nightstand and grins. Rolling over, she faces Owen, as he slides back into bed with her. "Good morning."
"Morning." He kisses her. "Today's the day! One of our cubs is leaving us."
Cristina touches his face. "How's Papa Bear?"
"Papa Bear is good," Owen yawns, moving closer. "I liked your speech last night. 'Bout having the kids."
"Well I worked hard on it," Cristina jokes. She closes her eyes and leans her head on his shoulder. "Do you ever wonder what our lives would have been like without children?"
"Never," he mumbles, his free hand sneaking under her shirt.
"Nice way to change the subject." She stretches lazily, as his fingers circle her navel, and he moves in to kiss her neck.
Mallory opens the door and enters the room, wildly pointing at the phone in her hand. "JoJo just texted me that Derek is performing surgery. It's raining. Do something!"
Cristina sighs heavily as Owen hastily withdraws his hand. "Mal, the wedding is in six hours. Relax."
"Relax?" She shrieks. "We can't get married if Derek isn't there. You need to do something about that. Get him out of the OR!"
"Do you have to have one of your Hurricane moments now?" Cristina complains. "We just woke up. Go take a shower and calm the hell down."
Mallory's eyes bug out. "How can you just lie there? Don't you realize what this means to me?"
"Sit down." Owen pats the bed next to him. She obeys him, still clutching her phone. "Now breathe in, deep. Breeeeeathe." She glares at him.
He sits up and sighs. "Do you think that Derek wants to miss his son's wedding? Is that what you really believe?"
Mallory shakes her head. "No."
"We can call the hospital for an update, but I don't know what else we can do."
"What if the tumor is more invasive than expected? What about subdural hemotomas? What if he doesn't know which nerves to cut?"
Chuckling, Cristina sits up. "Are you sure you don't want to be a doctor?"
"Stop making fun of me!" Their daughter leaps to her feet and starts to pace. Owen and Cristina look at each other in exasperation.
"Today is a really big day and things are going wrong and I need some support!" Mallory complains. Owen grabs her arm and pulls her close. She leans against him.
"Not everything is going wrong," he says, stroking her hair. "We have plenty of time to get ready, and while that's happening, Derek will finish his surgery, and the sun will come out so you can have your outdoors reception. Meanwhile, Rob is at his house preparing to marry you. And! Chloe and JoJo are still talking to each other."
"Do you think they're going to start fighting again?" Mallory wails, her voice rising in pitch. "Why would you say that?"
"I was pointing out the positives," Owen sighs. "Mallory, none of these things are catastrophes."
"But stop it." He hugs her tighter. "How did it feel it get engaged to Rob?"
She smiles a little. "Like it was meant to be."
"Remember that, and you'll be fine. Today, and for the rest of your life."
"And you're our daughter," Cristina adds. "We didn't raise any wimps or idiots. We've seen you grow and mature a lot in the last few months, and we have faith that everything is going to be okay."
"It's our wedding day," she notes. "I want everything to be perfect."
"Life isn't perfect." Owen smiles at her. "You can't control the surgery, or the weather, so why don't you make breakfast? Go into the kitchen and whip up some culinary magic. I bet once you get some butter in your hands, you'll relax."
Her face lights up. "I can have complete control over breakfast! I'll make everybody's favorites, and I'll keep myself too busy to worry about Derek's surgery, which he had better finish as soon as possible. Without killing the patient. And it had better stop raining soon."
"You grew up in Seattle, you should know you can't influence the weather."
"I'm Hurricane Mallory, I get what I want." She chuckles. "Crisis over. Thank you."
"Good, now get out," Cristina tells her. "We were about to have some nookie."
"Why would you tell me that?" Mallory shrieks as she jumps to her feet. "I'm glad I'm staying with the Shepherds next!"
Lexie yawns as she enters Meredith's kitchen. "Good morning."
"Good morning!" Her sister starts pouring a cup of coffee for her.
Blearily, Lexie looks around. "Where is everyone?"
"Derek is in surgery, Alex is meeting someone for breakfast, and the kids are playing racquetball at the club." Meredith puts the cup in front of Lexie.
Meredith chuckles. "Rob needed to get out of the house and relax. Jeanne-Marie has never played so they decided to teach her."
Lexie makes a face. "I don't like her. And I'm not being an over-protective mommy."
"You are too."
"Fine, whatever." Lexie looks at her sister. "How are you holding up today?"
Meredith smiles. "I'm good. My baby boy is all grown-up now, I'm so proud of him."
"You should be." Lexie takes a sip. "It's so nice and peaceful here. I bet Owen and Cristina can't say the same."
The Hunt house is in chaos. Owen wanders into his bedroom, adjusting his tie. He steps around Mallory, who is crouched on the floor, digging through Cristina's jewelry case and swearing in French. She looks up at him in dismay.
"Where is the handkerchief that I picked out for you?"
"That's what I'm trying to find," he sighs.
"Well, find it. And could you trim your beard again?"
Diego enters the room, all dressed. He stands in front of Mallory for appraisal. She looks at him from head to toe. "Those aren't the shoes I told you to wear. I put them in the closet by the front door." He sighs and leaves the room.
Owen frowns. "Don't you think you're being a little-"
"It's my wedding day!" Mallory snaps. She holds up her phone. "Stupid Derek is still in his stupid surgery!"
"Okay, that's it," Owen grumbles. "I'm going outside for fresh air." He hastily goes downstairs and out the front door. The rain has stopped and the sun shines down on him. Closing his eyes, he breathes in, deeply.
Owen opens his eyes and looks at the neighboring property. "Hi Paul."
"I won't ask how the wedding is going," his neighbor chuckles, slowly walking over. "I've been in your shoes."
"Stay outside until the bride is ready, and don't wrinkle your suit." The older man smiles. "Which of your girls is getting married?"
"The chef or the med student?"
Owen smiles. "The chef. Chloe is the future doctor."
"Ah. How long do you have until Chloe gets married and you have to go through this again?"
Owen shakes his head, amused. "While I want her to be happy, I hope Chloe will wait a few years. This wedding has been far more costly and complicated than I expected."
"They always are," Paul winks. "I had to establish some guidelines for my daughters – I would only pay for their first weddings."
"I'll remember that."
"Now I can just relax and enjoy the weddings of my grandchildren without having to pay for any of them." His eyes light up and he pulls out his phone. "Have I ever shown you pictures of the grandkids?"
"Where's Dad?" Chloe enters the living room, still dressed in her bathrobe. "We found his handkerchief."
Diego looks out the front window. "He's on the steps, talking with Mr Farber."
"Our new neighbor. You know, the Farbers who bought the Goldman house last month?"
"Oh yeah, I met them once." She shrugs. "Between my job and this wedding stuff, I've been busy."
"What do you mean, 'this wedding stuff'?" Mallory protests, coming downstairs. "And get dressed, we have to go to the salon now."
Diego takes the handkerchief from Chloe. "I'll give this to Dad, you go upstairs."
"I will gladly make my escape," Chloe teases her sister, before going back upstairs.
Meredith checks her phone and frowns. She looks up at Rob and Alex, gathered in her bedroom. "Derek hasn't messaged me yet."
"Nobody tell Mallory," Rob groans, as he looks in a mirror and adjusts his tie. "I don't have time to pacify her while I finish getting ready, she's called five times already."
"Dude, you're going to be pacifying her the rest of your life." Alex smirks. "Now is your chance to back out and escape that fate."
"Alex!" Meredith lightly smacks the back of his head, before helping her son with his tie.
Alex hears someone enter the room. He turns around and his mouth goes dry, as JoJo stands in the doorway. Her blonde hair has been pulled back into a chignon. She's wearing a black velvet halter-style gown. The rich and dark fabric sets off her pale skin and blue eyes.
"Hi," she smiles quietly.
Rob looks up and grins. "Wow. You clean up nicely, little sister."
"Thanks. You're looking handsome yourself." She gives her mother a brief hug. "I love what you're wearing."
Meredith looks down at her lavender silk outfit. "I feel dowdy next to you. Go stand over there."
"Got your speech ready?" Rob asks.
JoJo smiles and nods. "I do. You can count on me."
"I know." He leans forward and kisses her cheek. "Thanks for being my Best Woman."
"Thanks for being my Best Brother ."
Rob chuckles as his phone rings. "Excuse me, I have to calm a hurricane." He leaves the room.
JoJo turns and looks at Alex and Meredith. "Okay," she starts awkwardly. "Thanks for last night."
"Are you going to be okay?" Meredith asks.
"Yes," her daughter assures her. "I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off of me. Today is Rob and Mallory's day, I promise I can keep my drama out of it."
JoJo glances at Alex, who is openly staring at her. "Sorry I kissed you last night."
"You kissed Alex?" Meredith quickly recovers her composure. "You were drunk!"
"Ha ha." Alex stands up and faces JoJo. "If you want to unload more drama, you come looking for me, okay?"
"Okay." JoJo grins at him, eyes sparkling.
Meredith's phone chimes. "Text from Dad!" She quickly reads the message. "They think they're close to finishing soon. We're to bring his suit to the church so he can get dressed there." She looks up. "I'll get his outfit together. JoJo, go into our bathroom and pack up a shaving kit in case he needs it. Alex, don't kiss my daughter."
In the beauty salon, Mallory anxiously reads a message while the stylist works on her hair. "Derek is almost out of surgery." She exhales and looks up at Chloe and Annick. "Okay, I'm calmer now."
"Um," Chloe says, looking at her own phone. "Diego just texted me - they drove by an accident and Mom and Dad are doing triage on the side of the road while they wait for the ambulance." She and Annick share an apprehensive glance.
"No!" Mallory throws up her hands in despair and the stylist sighs. "This sucks!"
"You mean this sucks for the poor accident victims?" Chloe asks drily.
Her sister inhales and opens her mouth … then quietly exhales. "Yes. That is what I meant." She smiles apologetically. "You're going to be a great doctor."
Annick sympathetically pats Mallory's shoulder. "We have plenty of time. And it stopped raining an hour ago."
"We'll be done here soon," Chloe adds. "We'll go to the hotel, get into our gowns, and have our pictures taken. The photographer isn't running late. By the time we're done, everyone else will be at the church. So relax."
"And not think about how Dad will probably get blood on his suit so we can't have him in the pictures?" Mallory sighs. "I can't relax." She looks at Annick. "How are you? Feeling woozy?"
"Would you stop asking that?" Her bridesmaid laughs. "Haven't you been micro-managing my meals since I landed? My diabetes will not interrupt your day. My insulin pump is fine."
Chloe's phone beeps and she reads the next message. "Good news, the ambulance is there." She reads another message. "And … they're going back to the house. Mom needs to change, someone puked on her. They're going to be late to the photo session."
"Those poor accident victims," Mallory says through gritted teeth.
Standing in front of the church, Meredith smiles as she looks at her phone. "Derek has just left the hospital and swears that he will be here very soon."
"I'll text Mallory," Rob says, pulling out his phone.
"And here come the Hunts." Alex points to a truck pulling into the parking lot. Diego jumps out and bounds up the steps, as the truck pulls away.
"Hey," he grins. "I'm ready for usher duty." He bumps fists with Jonah and JoJo.
They all turn at the sound of sirens.
"Another accident?" Diego sighs.
Lights flashing and sirens blaring, a police car comes flying down the street, and pulls up in front of the church. Laughing, Derek gets out and waves his thanks to the driver. "Hey!" He runs up the steps. "Told you I would be here soon."
"You just had to make a big entrance," Meredith laughs, tugging her husband's arm. "Come on, we need to get you all spiffed up."
In a room at the hotel, Mallory paces while Chloe examines her hair in a mirror.
"Do not touch your hair!" The bride points at her sister. "It's perfect!"
Chloe frowns at her. "Seriously, Bridezilla? I was wondering if I should get streaks or highlights."
"Streaks," Mallory says, without missing a beat. "I have some thoughts on colors you could try."
"Of course you do."
Chuckling, Mallory puts her arms around Chloe. "I'm so glad that you're here," she tells her maid of honor. "I would've been heartbroken without you by my side."
"Let's not talk about that," her sister smiles. "Today is a happy day."
"But I do want to talk about it," Mallory insists, squeezing her. "I want you to know that I really appreciate everything you've done. From arranging the bachelorette party to listening to me whine about everything to rising above your problems with JoJo to be here. You've always been a role model on being awesome. I don't think I tell you enough how much I love you or how I couldn't have asked for a better sister."
"I couldn't have asked for a better sister either." Chloe affectionately touches Mallory's face. "You're a total brat and I love you and I wouldn't change a thing about you."
"Don't make me cry, I don't have time to redo my make-up." Mallory grins. "Hey, when you get married, you should let me arrange everything so I can pay you back for what you've done."
Chloe laughs. "Sure. Your first job is to find the groom."
"Okay. Bride check." Chloe steps back and turns Mallory towards the mirror. "You're gorgeous, Mal. You look like you stepped out of a magazine."
"I know." Daintily, Mallory touches the filmy lace attached to her red curls, which are cascading down her back. "I love that Grandma Hunt saved her veil for her children and grandchildren. It's perfect."
"And it's your 'something old'," Chloe notes.
"Yes! The dress is 'something new', Mom's earrings are 'something borrowed', and the garter is 'something blue'." She sighs in satisfaction. "I'm ready."
"And so are we." They turn to see their parents entering the room, accompanied by Annick and the tiny flower girl and the photographer.
"Wow," Owen smiles. "Look at my beautiful girls."
"Thank you," Mallory smiles sweetly. She looks at Cristina. "Mom? Are you okay?"
Everyone glances at Cristina, who is staring at Mallory in shock.
"Cristina?" Owen asks.
Mallory peers at Cristina's glassy eyes. "Are you … crying?"
Cristina vigorously shakes her head in denial as Owen places his hands on her shoulders. Their daughters share a smile.
"Hold still," Owen says softly, pulling out his handkerchief. He wipes away the tears spilling down Cristina's cheeks.
"I thought Dad was going to be the first one who cracked," Chloe fake-whispers to Annick.
"Aw Mom." Mallory steps forward and hugs her mother, who holds her tight.
"My little spitfire." Pulling herself together, Cristina steps back and looks at Mallory. Her strapless dress is chiffon with an empire waist. A light pink bow of chantilly lace accents the drapery of the skirt. "This dress is worth every Euro spent on it."
Then she turns to Chloe, wearing a lilac halter gown. "And look at you. You're gorgeous."
"Thanks Mom." Chloe hugs her. "You're beautiful. Love your dress."
"What, this old thing?" Cristina gestures to her burgundy gown. "Now let's get our pictures taken so we can marry off the Hurricane!"
In the vestibule, Diego turns to greet the next guests. In front of him is a teenaged girl, dressed in all black. Her waist-length deadlocks have been dyed a deep pink and her nose is pierced. She looks at him, from head to toe, and smiles.
He grins. "Bride or groom?"
The girl turns to the primly dressed woman behind her, who is waving at someone. "Mom, bride or groom?"
"Oh!" The woman is startled. "Well, I don't know, we could sit on either side ..."
Rolling her eyes, the girl turns back to Diego. "Which do you recommend?"
He chuckles. "I'm biased, my sister is the bride."
"You're Diego!" The woman steps forward and shakes his hand. "I worked at Seattle Grace when you were brought in. I scrubbed in on the surgery to repair your heart! You don't remember me, I'm Dr April Kepner. And this is my daughter, Jessica."
"My friends call me Jazz," the girl tells Diego, taking his arm. "Show us to the bride's side."
Rob paces back and forth, in the small waiting room, while his family watches with amusement.
"She's going to show up," JoJo smirks. "I've got the rings, safe and secure. Relax."
"I know, I know." He stops and sighs. "I'm … it's hitting me … we're making a really big commitment to each other."
Derek chuckles. "You can't back out. Owen has spent a lot of money on today and I'd have to reimburse him."
"I'm going through with it," his son assures him. "But … what if things get really bad, what if we have an argument we can't settle?"
"You'll find a way," Meredith says. "Your father and I fight and disagree all of the time and we're still together."
Rob looks down for a moment, before sitting beside his parents. "How … how did you two ever get through the Alzheimer's trial tampering?"
"Well …" Derek gathers his thoughts. "I was very, very angry."
"And I was wrong to think my actions wouldn't affect the trial," Meredith admits. "That made things more difficult … I was in denial about the consequences of my actions. Suddenly I found myself without a job or a husband. And … I was pregnant with Rob."
"So you stayed together because of me?" Rob blinks.
"Not just because of you," Derek informs him. "Although you were part of it. After all of our fertility struggles, I couldn't walk out on a pregnant wife. And while I was very angry with Meredith, I had made a huge commitment to stay with her forever, on our Post-It note. Because we both wanted to honor our vows, we worked things out."
"So … stay true to your commitment to Mallory, and you'll be able to handle what comes your way," Meredith smiles.
"Rob's ready to go," Diego walks into the room where his parents are waiting. "Where's Mallory?"
"They're coming in through the back," Cristina says. She calls out. "Mal, hurry up! It's show time!"
"Coming!" Mallory enters. Chloe and Annick help her arrange her dress behind her.
Diego's face lights up. "Wow. You look amazing."
"Aw." She motions for him to come closer. He grins and walks over. She pulls him in for a quick hug, then kisses his cheek. "Aren't you a sweetheart?"
"Stop it," he blushes. "You didn't get lipstick on me, did you?"
She giggles as she examines his face. "Oops, I did." Annick hands her a tissue and she wipes his face. "All better."
"Here's your bouquet." Chloe hands her an arrangement of pink, yellow, and white gerberas.
Mallory nods and squares her shoulders. "I'm ready!"
Rob nervously adjusts his cufflinks as he waits at the altar, with JoJo and Jonah lined up beside him.
"She'll be here soon," his sister grins. "Relax."
"I can't handle the anticipation," he smiles ruefully. "I need to see her."
They look up as Diego sits down next to his grandmother and signals the minister.
"You won't have to wait much longer," JoJo whispers.
A guitarist begins to quietly strum, and the doors at the back of the church slowly open. Shyly, the flower girl enters, followed by Annick. JoJo smiles to see Chloe walk down the aisle, tall and confident.
Appearing last, Mallory steps into the church, between her parents.
"Wow." Rob says, softly. "I'm marrying her."
Mallory glows as she floats down the aisle. She doesn't see the admiring glances, she doesn't hear the appreciative murmurs. Her attention is on Rob, who is grinning boyishly. She barely notices as her parents guide her to stand in front of her groom.
Owen smiles and kisses her cheek. Cristina squeezes her arm. "Good luck, Hurricane," she whispers playfully. Mallory smiles sweetly at her parents, before turning her attention to Rob.
Thunderstruck, he looks at his bride. Draped in pure white, Mallory is lit from within by her joy. Silently, he thanks the heavens for placing her in his life, destined to be his soulmate and his partner in life.
"Hi Robbie," she grins.
"Hi," he whispers, his eyes warm. "Ready for our next adventure?"
As the minister begins to speak, Derek takes Meredith's hand. He smiles softly at his two children, standing together, supporting each other.
"We are gathered here today ..."
Composed, Cristina watches the ceremony. She notes how Rob can't take his eyes off of Mallory and mentally approves. Stealing a glance at Owen, she smiles softly to see how proud her husband is. She lightly touches his leg and he looks at her, his blue eyes blazing with joy.
Mallory takes Rob's hands and begins to speak. "On a very special New Year's Eve, you kissed my cheek. From that moment on, you became the man of my dreams. When we spent Christmas together, I was worried that you wouldn't live up to the image I'd built up of you. Instead, you showed yourself to be a much kinder, and loving, man than I could ever have dreamed of. All of my girlish dreams came true when you revealed yourself to be my soulmate. You showed me what it's truly like to love and be loved, and you accept me the way I am. I pledge to you that I will always try to be deserving of you. I will honor you and feed you and be by your side for the rest of our days."
Maintaining eye contact, he speaks sincerely. "A few months ago, I was adrift in the world, not thinking more than a few days ahead. It seems like I was searching for a part of my life that I didn't know was missing. When we reunited in Paris, you went from a little girl to the woman I am meant to be with, you were what was missing and the person I needed to anchor myself. Now, my life has purpose. Together, we'll face life's challenges and conquer them."
The minister gives the young couple a moment, before beckoning their parents to the altar. In front of them are two pillar candles with a large unity candle in the middle.
"Now, the parents will light a candle, to represent their families," the minister explains, as Owen and Derek each pick up a candle. "The candles represent the love and wisdom passed on from parent to child, and it recognizes that Rob and Mallory are entering into their sacred union as individuals." Cristina and Meredith share a quick smile before they light the candles held by their husbands.
"These candles represent their lives in this moment. They will remain lit, to symbolize that their individual identities will not be extinguished, as they unite in marriage."
As Mallory receives the lit candle from her parents, she is touched by the tears in their eyes. Rob feels surrounded by love as his parents give him their candles, and their unspoken blessings. Then the bride and groom turn around to face each other, with the unity candle beside them. Their free hands reach out and clasp each other's.
"Now they will light the unity candle to symbolize their union. May the brilliance of this light illuminate their journey together in a lasting and loving marriage."
Holding tight to each other, the bride and groom light the unity candle together. Their parents take the lit candles representing their families, and place them on the altar.
As their parents return to their seats, Chloe and JoJo share a smile, filled with goodwill. In the audience, Diego awkwardly pats his grandmother's hand, as she weeps with joy.
Rob squeezes Mallory's hands and begins to speak.
"I, Rob, take you, Mallory Helena Sun-Hi Hunt, to be my wedded wife, knowing in my heart that you will be my constant friend, my faithful partner in life, and my one true love.
"On this special day, I affirm to you in the presence of God and all those in attendance my sacred promise to stay by your side as your loving husband in sickness and in health, in joy and in sorrow, as well as through the good times and the bad.
"I further promise to love you without reservation, honor and respect you, provide for your needs as best I can, protect you from harm, comfort you in times of distress, grow with you in mind and spirit, always be open and honest with you, and cherish you for as long as we both shall live."
Derek and Meredith share a special smile, and squeeze each others hands.
Mallory takes a deep breath and smiles at him.
"I, Mallory, take you, Robert Grayson Shepherd, to be my wedded husband. I know that you shall be my constant friend, my faithful partner in life, and my one true love.
"On this special day, I affirm to you in the presence of our friends and family my promise to stay by your side as your wife in sickness and in health, in joy and in sorrow, as well as through the good times and the bad.
"I further promise to love you without reservation, comfort you in times of distress, encourage you to achieve all of your goals, laugh with you and cry with you, grow with you in mind and spirit, always be open and honest with you, and cherish you for as long as we both shall live."
Owen looks down at his hands, entwined with Cristina's. He touches the rings adorning her left hand, remembering when he placed them there. Her fingers seek out his wedding ring, and caress it gently.
Smiling benevolently, the minister holds up two rings. "These rings mark the beginning of a long journey filled with love and laughter, tears and celebration, surprises, wonder, in a lifelong covenant. May these rings glow with the warmth and love which flow through the wearers today. "
His eyes very tender, Rob speaks again. "Mallory, I give you this ring as a symbol of my love and faithfulness to you, and the giving that will last the rest of my life." He feels lightheaded as he places the ring onto her finger, next to the sparkling diamond he'd given her in Paris. Her face lights up with joy.
Her eyes moist, Mallory speaks slowly. "Rob, I give you this ring as a symbol of my love and faithfulness to you, and the giving that will last the rest of my life." Gently, she slides it onto his finger.
The minister places her hands over Rob and Mallory's. "Together they are here; so, too may they continue, each in step with the other, faithful all the way. Through life's long pilgrimage unto the journey's end. If paths are rough and winds grow cold, may they draw closer, hand in hand."
"I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss your bride."
Rob grins and eagerly kisses Mallory. She flings her arms around his neck and pulls him close for a scorching kiss. The audience erupts in laughter and applause.
Amused, Owen whispers to Cristina, "That's the Hunt blood in her. And the Yang blood."
"She's our girl," Cristina laughs, as they stand.
"We did it!" Mallory grins at Rob, her arms still encircling his neck.
"Finally!" He grins before kissing her again. They turn and look at all of the people in the church, their friends and family, all standing and cheering and smiling. "Wow, look at everyone."
"We're blessed," she says, taking his hands. "We're surrounded by love."
He kisses her left hand, his lips brushing her rings. "Yes, we are."
"What a great way to start a marriage." She waves at Meredith and Derek. "Now we really are one family."
"And a happy one."
Author's note – real life got in the way of this being published earlier – so sorry for the delay! Please stick around for the reception, which is the final chapter!