Disclaimer: I own nothing. Surprise surprise.
A/N: so I watched the documentary episode and I have to confess that, on the whole, I enjoyed it. It was a clever insight into a side to the characters we wouldn't otherwise have gotten to see. Having said that, however, I would've liked to see some of the off-camera reaction. Namely, Meredith and Derek. What would've happened at the end of the day, once the cameras were gone? They're definitely not getting enough screen time this season, and whilst I can believe the fact that their relationship is fine, post-shooting, I think there would definitely have been some repercussions. Something had to change, and in this story I'm taking it as a change for the positive. So this is my interpretation of what happened once the cameras stopped rolling. As such, spoilers up to and including 7.06. I had intended to get this up before episode seven aired, but unfortunately real life intruded. That said, enjoy and all thoughts are greatly received.
The sight that greeted Meredith as she wearily pushed open the door to Joe's was one that couldn't fail to bring a smile to her lips as she shrugged off her coat, hooking it easily over her husband's on the coat rack. Joe's was lively for a weekday, aided no doubt by the small army of cameras constantly panning the room. Joe himself stood behind the bar boasting a grin a mile wide as he proudly surveyed the happy chaos before him, acknowledging her with a friendly wave. After all, it wouldn't be a documentary on Seattle Grace if it wasn't at least partly set in Joe's, she thought wryly.
But it wasn't any of that resulting in the tired smile crossing her lips. Amidst all the chaos and invariably the main focus of the camera crews sat a table of surgeons, laughing and clinking glasses as they congratulated themselves on their rock star worthy surgery. And among them, looking the picture of happiness, was her husband.
She still got a kick out of calling him that. She'd never thought they would be that couple, the husband and wife.
Her ears were finely tuned to pick out his voice in a crowd, and she'd focused in on his laughter almost instantly, watching as his head tipped back with laughter while Mark glared at Callie, wounded. Derek straightened up after a second, picking up his glass and toasting Callie for whatever insult she'd just thrown Mark's way before tipping his head once more, draining what was left in his glass and slamming the glass down with satisfaction and more laughter.
Running a hand roughly through her hair and fighting to keep the smile on her face, she began to push her way through the crowds, shaking away the part of her that, secretly, wished the cameras weren't there at all. Circling the table, she came to a halt behind her husband and rested a hand on his arm at the same second he turned to her, a new warmth flooding his gaze as his arm automatically wound around her waist.
"Hi," he breathed happily, leaning in for a kiss without a care in the world for the cameras zooming in on them. He tasted of scotch and Derek, and she smiled, nudging her nose affectionately against his for a second before pulling away.
"Hey," she murmured, reaching for his other hand beneath the table. He tangled his fingers easily through hers, squeezing gently. "I heard about the surgery," she added with her smile still in place, "sounded pretty awesome."
"It was," he laughed again, tipping his head to his left, "largely down to Callie," he acknowledged graciously, rolling his eyes as Mark started to argue the fact. "Did you not see it?" he queried, his attention instantly refocused on her. She shook her head, taking a moment to collect her thoughts before attempting to explain. "Mer?" he asked softly, squeezing her hand again. "Meredith," he breathed eventually, concern seeping into his eyes as he felt her react to the memories of the afternoon. "Let's get you a drink," he suggested, pushing his stool back and guiding her easily through the crowd around the bar, effectively shielding them from the cameras for a few minutes. "Breathe," he murmured against her ear softly, before leaning across the bar to request their drinks from Joe as he tightened his arm around her waist, easily providing the privacy she hadn't even told him she craved.
Somehow, when it mattered, they were now the couple who knew what the other was thinking, without any words being necessary.
"I..." she shook her head, thoughts spinning as she dropped her forehead to rest against his shoulder. He slid a warm hand slowly up her spine, rubbing her neck gently before tangling his fingers through the loose strands of her hair. "Sorry," she whispered, taking a couple of deep, shuddering breaths.
"Don't apologise," he told her immediately, breathing in the lavender scent of her hair. "Do you want to go home?" she shook her head instantly, taking a deep breath before stepping back a little.
"You should celebrate your awesome surgery," she told him quietly, nudging his shoulder very gently with hers, "you know you're kind of rock stars at Grace," she added, smiling very softly. "Everyone's talking."
She was proud. She was his wife. They were that couple, who could be proud and show it.
"Well you know, if the title fits..." he chuckled, leaning in for another kiss. "So... when I saw you before the surgery, you were okay with the camera crews," he offered perceptively, remembering the smile that had crossed her lips fairly early in the day as she recounted her own experiences with the film calls, between stolen kisses in an empty on call room. "What changed?" he asked softly.
"They..." she shook her head, waving a hand wildly and almost knocking the drinks Joe stood down. Derek apologised quickly, shaking his head slightly at the friendly bartender before turning his attention back to Meredith, catching the offending hand before she could do any real damage. "Had me and Cristina do this... interview," she sighed, continuing as if there had been no interruption. "Derek, she's not okay, and I don't know how to help her," she confessed quietly, her eyes shining with unshed tears as she spoke the words she'd been struggling with for months. "She..."
"Tell me later," he told her quietly, reading her struggles instantly. He wasn't her husband for nothing. He knew from experience that she talked better in the dark, wrapped securely in his arms. They had gone from the couple who didn't know how to communicate to a couple who found it remarkably easy to talk, all under the cover of darkness. Not in a crowded, noisy bar, full of camera crews and their friends. And if darkness was what it took for them to be that couple, he was more than willing to sacrifice the occasional hours sleep. "Do you want a hug?" he asked eventually, only to be rewarded with an instant, if slightly tearful smile.
"Yeah," she whispered, her voice taking on that sweet tone she reserved solely for him as he wrapped his arms tightly around her. With heels, she was close enough to his height that she could simply relax into his arms without the worry of stretching on her tiptoes, and he rubbed his palm in long, swooping circles over her back until he felt her muscles start to ease. She stepped back a little, pressing her lips to his for a long moment. "Let's go celebrate the fact that you're a rock star," she instructed eventually, her fingers settling against his bicep and squeezing gently. He laughed, releasing his hold on her and picking up their drinks.
"I'm starting to like this new nickname," he told her seriously, before flashing her a grin. She laughed, melting his heart a little.
"Keep being so nice and we might celebrate it properly," she added, laughing softly as he groaned slightly, the sudden tension in his body betraying his true reaction.
"You're a tease, Meredith Grey."
"That's it with the cameras, right?" she asked quietly a couple of hours later, a slight breathlessness lingering in her voice as they lay in the darkness, naked save for the sheets covering them. Meredith was lying on her stomach on his left, her head resting on his shoulder with her body partially covering his. The fact that she was lying on his left side escaped neither of them, and it felt good. More intimate than any other position, even though it reminded them of what they'd almost lost. Her fingers traced light patterns on his chest, while he tangled his own fingers in the golden waves of her hair.
"For now," he confirmed, easing his fingers gently against her scalp. "They'll want to do... follow-up interviews at some point I guess, but tomorrow will be camera free."
"Good," she answered quietly, stretching up a little to press her lips against his quickly. He smiled, stretching out a little as she settled back into her previous position. If it was even possible, post-shooting their relationship was even more physical. After months where they had struggled to find a pain-free way to touch or hug, they found it hard to be around one another without touching in some way.
They weren't the couple that held hands at any given opportunity. He'd always preferred a hand on her back or an arm around her shoulders, particularly when they were in public. In fact, he could probably count with his fingers the number of times they'd held hands in public. Yet when they'd left Joe's earlier that evening, he had caught her fingers after helping her on with her coat, and she had held on until he opened the passenger door for her.
And it had felt nice. For him as much as her.
She'd kept her promise, once they'd reached the privacy of their bedroom, to properly celebrate his rock star status, although it hadn't been their usual brand of celebration after a particularly noteworthy surgery. That was normally hard and fast, full of groans and screams and writhing, leaving them capable of nothing close to coherent conversation afterwards, let alone movement. Incredible, in other words. Like it always was with them.
But this time had been a different kind of incredible. Slower, more intense. They'd taken their time, savoured the moment. Barely needed words.
And he knew that that had been for her as much as him. Just another manifestation of how their relationship had definitely changed for the better.
"Meredith," he breathed softly, brushing her hair to the side to rub the back of her neck gently. "Mer?" he asked softly, smiling when she turned her gaze up to him even though her eyes were wide and full of nothing resembling sleep, despite the lateness of the hour. "Hey," he offered quietly, watching the emotions flash across her face. She was easier to read than before if that was possible, too. "Do you want to tell me now, about what happened today?"
"I don't know," she answered, shifting onto her back restlessly and allowing him a small smile when he rolled with her, resting on his side. After too long sleeping in the same bed without being able to hold her properly, he was loathsome to remain too far away from her, and he knew she didn't mind.
"They did an interview with you and Cristina," he started softly, reaching up to brush her newly cut fringe off her face gently. She smiled faintly, catching his fingers lightly. "Is that why they asked me how close the two of you are?"
"Probably," she nodded, rubbing her fingers against his. "I don't know, Derek," she continued eventually. "April told me the other week that I didn't talk about Cristina because I was worried that she might never come back from this..."
"Do you think she's right?" he asked softly, squeezing her fingers gently. She shook her head instantly, but his ears caught her whispered affirmation. "Oh, Meredith," he breathed softly.
"I don't know," she repeated. "She's... she's Cristina. It's so... unbelievable it's almost funny, you know? That she should be the one who might..." she shook her head sharply. "They asked her how the shooting had changed her," she continued quietly as he nodded, remembering his own answer to the very same question. "And she was talking about how people try to say she was heroic." She paused and he dipped his head, pressing his lips lightly to her collarbone. "To me she is, Derek," she continued eventually, her voice wavering slightly. "I just... she wouldn't let me say it," she finished, her voice almost hopeless.
"Mer, she's got a lot of people looking out for her. You, me, Owen, Teddy, Miranda...we're all doing everything we can, but there comes a point," he sighed, looking up to find her eyes tightly closed. "There comes a point where it has to come down to her."
"I just... want my best friend back," she whispered quietly, and as the tears she had been fighting back spilled over her closed eyelids, he reached up, brushing them away with the pad of his thumb as he tried to find something to say, something to do that would take her pain away.
Meredith wasn't a crier. But when she did, it had to go at her pace.
"I know, sweetheart," he murmured eventually, caressing her cheek gently. She looked up, her watery eyes warming instantly with that expression he knew she reserved solely for him.
"I like it when you call me that," she told him very quietly, closing her eyes as he brushed a few more tears away. They weren't the couple who used pet names either, but somehow they'd snuck in, unbidden. And he'd been as surprised as her to find out that she actually quite liked them.
"I know," he repeated, smiling warmly as he moved, drawing the covers closer as he enclosed her in his arms. She moved easily, laying her head against his chest again. Contrary to what might have formerly been the truth and might still be popular belief, when she did cry she didn't want to be alone, didn't want to run. Actually, she wanted to be held.
She'd just been too scared to admit it. Hadn't experienced it enough to know that she wanted it.
It was his aim to make sure that was just what she got, every time she needed it.
"She needs you to be there for her," he told her eventually, his voice soft as his lips hovered close to her ear. "She knows you will be, even though she'll never acknowledge it," he added with a soft laugh. "But she has a decision to make that you can't help her with, and she needs to know that you'll be there for her whether she finds a way back to being a surgeon or not. I think she will," he added, meeting her gaze for a moment, "but this bit's down to her."
"So I can't..." she sighed, shaking her head slightly as he tightened his arms around her.
"You keep doing what you're doing," he told her. "Being a good friend. Because you are, Meredith."
"Really?" she asked softly, her lips curling into a smile as he nodded.
"Really," he confirmed. "So you keep doing that, and then you come home to me," he continued, his gaze focused on her as her smile widened slowly, "where you're an excellent wife, without even trying." She reached up, her nose brushing his as she pressed her lips gently to his.
"Thank you," she whispered. Her voice, slightly hoarse with the after-effects of her tears, was effortlessly endearing to him.
"So can we go back to the fact that I'm a rock star now?" he teased, grinning as he was rewarded with her gentle laughter.
"So that's what this was about?" she responded lightly, stretching carefully against his body as they settled. "Fake sympathy to boost your ego?"
"Of course," he laughed, fingers tangling loosely into her hair to ease the muscles at the nape of her neck. She sighed contentedly, her lips pressing lightly against his chest. The joke was familiar, well-used to ensure they fell asleep with a smile.
"I love you," she breathed eventually, tipping her head back instinctively to receive the kiss he dropped on her lips.
"I love you too," he told her softly, kissing her again. "Tomorrow will be better," he added softly, "I promise."
"I know," she whispered, her voice thick with sleep as she relaxed enough to let the exhaustion take over.
And somehow without even realising, they were that couple, the husband and wife who held hands and used pet names, who communicated and hugged and even showed affection in public, but reserved the important stuff for the safety of their bed and the cover of darkness. For the solitude, where it was just the two of them.
And he was absolutely okay with that.