Finding our Way…
Rating: T bordering on M (for later chapters)
Timeline: Early season 4. But I'm mixing things up as I please. Addison went to LA…but came back.
Disclaimer: I own a car and a laptop. That's all I have. So if you wanne sue me – you can sue me for that.
AN: Hi. I'm back. A quick tip for all of you who are not sure if you should read this: the summary of this story is my first Greys Anatomy story "Theory vs. Reality". If you want to know how this story will develop then read it. If you don't want to know then don't. Because this is basically the story of how it all began. I hope you enjoy.
Chapter 1: Satan returns
July 31st. Seattle. SGH Cafeteria
Alex slammed the tray with his lunch on the table and, with a heavy sigh, plopped down on one of the empty chairs.
"Jeez. What's up with evil spawn?" Christina asked, addressing everyone at the table but not Alex himself.
"He misses his crazy patient," Meredith replied.
"He's not getting in on surgeries," George explained.
"He misses the babies and the gynie squad," Izzie teased – only half joking.
With another deep sigh Alex looked up from his lunch and addressed his fellow residents. "First. Her name is Ava. And no. I don't miss her. Second. I'm not scrubbing in on any surgeries because Sloan likes to torture me. And third. I do not miss the gynie squad. But I miss getting to scrub in. Which I got to do on gynie. But since Montgomery is gone I don't get to do that either." He finished and picked up his sandwich again.
"Well, Dr. Montgomery will be back tomorrow. Maybe Bailey puts you on her service again if you piss her off enough." George said chuckling. But Alex didn't get the joke. All he heard was that Addison, well Dr. Montgomery, would be back. He swallowed, cleared his throat and asked casually, "How do you know Dr. Montgomery is coming back? I thought she was gone for good?"
"Callie picked her up from the airport this morning," George explained.
"And I saw her name on the OR board for tomorrow," Izzie added.
"Well, okay then." Alex said, got up from the table and tried to make a calm, unhurried exit.
"I guess he really misses the gynie squad!" Christina commented and grabbed Alex' pudding from his abandoned tray.
Mark Sloan spotted Alex at the nurses station reading a chart. Which he was clearly not supposed to do, since getting coffee, fetching dry cleaning and running errands for Mark Sloan definitely didn't warrant him reading charts. Mark was pissed off. Not only did this Karev guy sleep with his Addison – and therefore ending the 60 day bet and his last shot at a relationship with her – but he was also responsible for Addison's decision to leave Seattle. Granted, it was just a short vacation – but still. It was his new mission in life to make Alex Karev's life hell.
"And just what do you think you're doing Karev?" Mark snarled and grabbed the chart from Alex' grasp. "Oh. What do we have here? Can't seem to stay away from the squishy and pink?" Mark asked after seeing that Alex was studying the chart of Addison's pregnant patient.
"Well for a change I wanted to do something medical," Alex replied, noticing Chief Webber who stood behind Sloan.
"You do what I say Karev," Mark growled. "So get me a bone dry cappuccino, pick up my suits from the dry cleaning and on your way back stop by the sandwich shop and get me a pastrami sandwich. Low on the mayo. Then you can organize my picture archive for the speech I have to give at the plastic surgeons conference next month. When you're done come find me. I'm sure I can think of other things you can do for me." Mark said with a fake smile. He didn't notice the chief until he spoke up behind him.
"Is this your idea of teaching Dr. Sloan?" Webber asked and took the chart from Mark. He glanced at it and handed it back to Alex. "Dr. Karev, I believe your services are better used on this case. I'm sure you can go and get your own coffee Dr. Sloan."
Two Yes Sir's could be heard. One from a pissed off plastic surgeon and one from a smug looking resident. Alex hurried off with the chart in hand to do some research for the surgery tomorrow, leaving Sloan and Webber at the nurses station.
He had no idea if it was good to get even more on Sloan's bad side. But at least he had scored a surgery for tomorrow. It was a routine surgery but at least he got to scrub in. With Addison. Or Dr. Montgomery. It would be the first time he saw her again after his stupid "you're not my girlfriend" line. He wasn't sure if he was the reason she left Seattle so suddenly, but he was sure that he at least was a factor in that decision.
Of course there were a lot of other factors. Shepherd and Sloan were the first and most prominent that came to mind. Ex-husband Shepherd and Ex-Affaire-or-Whatever Sloan. She came here to Seattle to win her husband back and after that it was one punch after the other. Lies, deceit, broken promises, broken heart, finally divorce and still an endless struggle. Every day. Each and every day. But she still showed up in the morning. Looking exceptionally beautiful. Treating her patients with kindness, her interns and residents with respect and her fellow attendings – even the two ex-morons – with professionalism and also respect.
The most people working in the hospital gossiped about her, sure. But everybody was in awe about her talent, her kindness and professionalism. And of course about the fact that although terrible things happened to her – or in some conversations "were caused by her" – she didn't seem heartbroken, which reinforced the fact that they called her Satan.
But these people never looked closer. These people were content with the superficial. The strong exterior. The tough-as-nails-chick attitude. Nobody wanted to look closer. Nobody wanted to see the hurt and broken look that crossed her face – although briefly – when she saw McDreamy and Grey kissing when she passed them. Nobody cared to see how sad she looked most of the time. And nobody seemed to see how truly lonely she looked, walking the hallways and floors of Seattle Grace.
But he saw it. He spent almost everyday working with her. And he saw it. He saw how exhausted she looked. Saw how she braced herself and forced a smile on her face upon entering a patients room, which turned into a genuine smile once she interacted with the patients. He saw the pained expression on her face when she had to interact with Shepherd, Sloan or in general anti-Addison people. He could also see the bright smiles when a little patient of hers pulled through – against all odds. And he could see her content face, when she sat in the rocking chair in the NICU, observing the babies after a long day.
He saw all that. And he meant it when he said that he would notice if she went missing. Because he did. He wished he would've handled the situation better. He wished he would have talked to her after they kissed and not yelled at her in a supply closet. He wished he would've told her that he was scared and afraid to hurt her instead of blurting out that she wasn't his girlfriend. He wished he would've followed her that night and told her to give him time to figure it all out.
He wished he'd done a lot of things. But he didn't. So now he had two options how to handle things. He could prepare for the surgery, ignore her and what happened and move on with things. Or he could prepare for the surgery, apologize to her and explain why he acted the way he did. He preferred the second one. But he was still Alex Karev. So he would play it by ear and hope he wouldn't screw it up again and end up hurting her – again.
"I can't believe you actually came back," Callie said around a mouthful of pizza.
"Great. And here I thought you of all people would be glad to have me back," Addison replied with mock sarcasm.
"I am glad you're back," Callie reassured her quickly, "but can you seriously tell me that the offer your friend made you to join her practice – her practice in sunny LA no less – wasn't absolutely tempting. I mean you could get away from all this shit here in Seattle. No more McDreamy, McSteamy or Sexy-Intern drama." Callie explained and refilled their wine glasses.
"I know. The offer was really tempting. But I'm Addison Forbes Montgomery. I don't run away from problems, responsibilities aaand the chance to become chief of surgery and put all those morons in their place and show them what a real woman is!" Addison answered with a big grin and raised her glass for a toast.
"You go girl," Callie exclaimed and also raised her glass. "But what are you gonna do about the men trouble?"
"As far as I'm concerned there is no men trouble," Addison answered and reached for another slice of pizza. "I am divorced. Derek is bright and shiny with his twelve year old. Mark is a manwhore and is screwing his way around the hospital. The bet was stupid and desperate and is officially over. And Alex was a horny accident that shouldn't have happened. So yeah, no men trouble. I'm gonna focus on my work. I'm gonna become chief of surgery. And I'm gonna handle the whole situation with as much dignity and honour as I possibly can." Addison finished with conviction.
"Once again, you go girl. Show'em what you got aaand what they've missed." Callie commented and once again topped their glasses.
August 1st. Nurses Station
Addison entered the hospital. Slightly hung over from her pizza and wine – which turned into vodka martini's – night with Callie. She knew she had a slow day. Some routine c-sections, some paperwork, some consults. Nothing major. She planned to go in, do her work and go back to her hotel room to soak in a nice bath and then slip into bed to catch up on much needed sleep. That was her plan. But as soon as she neared the nurses station to pick up her charts and order some interns around she knew her planning was in vain.
"Good morning Dr. Montgomery," Alex greeted her, chart in hand.
"Good morning Dr. Karev," Addison greeted back politely. "I thought I would have an intern on this case seeing as it is a routine c-section."
"Chief Webber gave the case to me. I'd be happy to assist you Dr. Montgomery," Alex answered hoping not to sound too eager.
"Well in that case Dr. Karev, prep the patient and meet me in the OR," Addison replied walking away, a little taken aback by his suppressed enthusiasm.
"Dr. Montgomery?" Alex called after her.
"Yes Dr. Karev?" Addison asked, turning back to Alex.
"If you wouldn't mind and if you have a minute I would like to talk to you," Alex answered hastily. "In private," he added nervously.
"I wouldn't know what we have to talk about in private," Addison replied and turned to walk towards her office.
Alex returned the chart to the nurse and followed Addison. He hadn't planned on what he wanted to tell her, but he needed some form of….he didn't know….closure?, forgiveness?….anything but the silent, professional treatment.
"Dr. Montgomery?" Alex tried again, knocking on her office door and entering at the same time.
"Like I said Dr. Karev. We do not have anything to discuss. Now would you go prep the patient while I check my e-mails and we meet in the OR in an hour," Addison said in exasperation, sitting down behind her desk and booting up her computer.
Even though Alex picked up on her annoyed and exasperated tone he still entered her office and closed the door – seeming more confident than he actually felt.
"Dr. Montgomery," Alex tried once again.
"Dr. Karev….," Addison started to protest but was interrupted by Alex.
"Addison!" He said, interrupting her in a much louder voice than he intended to. "I realise you don't need and you don't want to talk to me. But I need to talk to you," Alex said without taking a breath. Addison didn't interrupt so he took a breath and continued. "I want and I need and I should apologize to you. I treated you like crap and I shouldn't have and I want to apologize for that. I was overwhelmed, I was scared and I was a coward. I am truly sorry if I hurt you. But you don't want me. You shouldn't want me and I should not want you. So can we just put everything behind us and start over again? We're different and we're similar in a weird kinda way and I don't want you to hate me and I want to work with you. Yeah, yeah, yeah, squishy and pink, ha ha, okay you got me. But I can't work with you if you hate me and like I said I don't want you to hate me and again I'm so sorry but…..god," Alex rambled on until he couldn't hear it himself anymore.
"Breath Karev!" Addison ordered him with a slight smile. "It's okay. I should apologize too. It was as much my fault as it was yours. So stop the rambling and go do your job. We're good." She said and send a reassuring smile his way.
"Okay. Good. We're good then," Alex answered awkwardly. He opened the door and smiled one last time at her before he turned to leave. This didn't go as he had hoped. He was angry at himself for not telling her how he really felt – but in the end it might all turn out for the better. But he couldn't leave it like that, so he turned around again before closing the door.
"I noticed you went missing. I noticed!" He said, looking at Addison expectantly.
"I didn't go missing Alex. I was on vacation," Addison replied, not noticing that she called him by his firstname and not noticing that her heart somersaulted at hearing his confession.
"I still missed you," Alex confessed, surprised at his statement and at the fact that he really meant it. "Friends?" Alex asked hopeful, because he just decided something for himself. Did he want to be with her? Yes. Did he think he would be good for her? No. Did he want to protect her, spent time with her and be part of her life? Absolutely.
"Friends? Seriously?" Addison asked incredulously.
"Yes. Friends? We could do this, right?" Alex asked, mentally slapping himself. He didn't want to be "friends" with her. But he couldn't be what she wanted him to be either. So "friends" would have to do. He could do friends. He had to. They had to.
"Yeah. I guess we could," Addison confirmed. She did not want to be his friend. But he didn't want anything else apparently. So friends would have to do. She could do friends. She had to. They had to.
"Cool. Then I see you in the OR in 45 minutes. And as friends, we could go for a beer at Joe's afterwards, right?" Alex asked, pushing his luck.
"Yeah. See you in the OR. And as friends we sure can have a beer afterwards," Addison replied with a much bigger smile than appropriate.
"Cool," Alex said once again and left to prep the patient. He didn't know what he had gotten himself into, but he was determined to do it right this time. If she wanted to be friends then that's what he would be.
"Cool," Addison agreed and dismissed Alex. She didn't know what she had gotten herself into, but she was determined to do it right this time. If he wanted to be friends then that's what she would be.
"To a successful surgery, you being back and us being friends!" Alex said, raising his beer and toasting with Addison's Martini.
"You know, being friends does not necessarily require you buying the drinks," Addison said after toasting with Alex with her second Martini of the night – paid by Alex.
"Good to know," Alex replied and waved Joe over. "From now on Addison is paying for the drinks," he told Joe with a smirk in Addisons' direction.
"I meant that we all pay for our own drinks. That's what friends do," Addison explained, but made no move to wave over Joe and correct it.
"You are an attending. You make more money. As a friend you should pay the drinks," Alex retorted.
"Maybe we should stop using the phrase "as friends" and just drink and change the topic," Addison supplied.
"Okay. Let's change the topic," Alex agreed with a grin. This "friends" thing was going better than he thought. "You should think about getting your own place," Alex changed the topic.
"My own place?" Addison asked ordering new drinks with a wave of her hand.
"Yeah. You can't live in a hotel permanently. First it's too expensive. Secondly you'd want a place of your own. For your stuff….your shoes." Alex explained, adding the last part with a smirk.
"You're right. I should. I should get a nice place that I can call home. And not stay at a hotel that brings back so many bad memories. Even though it was good…." Addison agreed with a chuckle before she was interrupted by Alex.
"Okay. As a friend, and I'm only saying this for emphasis, I do not, you hear me, DO NOT, want to hear about you and Sloan." Alex said in disgust.
"Fine. So that's off limits. What I wanted to say was, that I am planning on getting my own place. I just didn't have the time. But I don't plan on living at the Archfield any longer. I'll start looking for a good broker this week," Addison explained and added an "No, I'm serious" after Alex has raised his eyebrows in disbelief.
"Okay. I believe you. If you need any help deciding on a place and then moving your stuff, lemme know. I'll help!" Alex offered finishing his drink.
"Thanks. I'll let you know," Addison replied finishing her drink aswell.
"We should go. We have an early surgery tomorrow," Alex suggested, seeing their empty glasses.
"Yeah. Let's," Addison agreed and got off the chair and reached for her coat. Alex refrained from helping her put the coat on. He refrained from opening the door at Joe's. He refrained from opening her car door after walking her to her car. And most of all he refrained from pulling Addison into his arms and kissing her senseless after she said goodnight. Because that's what friends do.
He did not know that Addison wanted all of that. Him helping her in her coat. Him opening the door for her. Him kissing her senseless at her car. Him…..No. They were just friends. And that's what friends do.
AN: So there it is. The Prequel to Theroy vs. Reality. It's gonna be a few chapters till we get to the moving in, cooking lessons and the rest - summarized in T vs. R. But we'll get there eventually. Only if you want to of course...