Disclaimer: I own none of it. And I'm leaving my job on Friday, so I'll probably own even less then.
Spoilers: up to and including 7x14, although I don't think anything is specifically mentioned. In my mind, that's where it's set, though.
A/N: so, I don't know if it was just me who was actually expecting some proper Valentine's Day action in the latest episode after the promising promos, but I was sorely disappointed. Hence, I decided to write my own version. We know there's a cheesy romantic hidden in Derek, and personally I like to believe that the Meredith who's grown over the last few seasons might just be hiding someone similar. I realise that it's already the 16th, and whilst I never actually intended to post the story on Valentine's Day itself (for reasons I hope will become clear), I did have every intention of posting it on the 15th, until real life intervened. For being a day late on my own schedule I apologise, and I give you my interpretation of Valentine's Day, in Meredith and Derek's own style. It is cheesy, it is probably a little clichéd, and I'll be the first to confess that it doesn't exactly possess a plot. But it's a Valentine's Day story. If you were really expecting anything else than a big fat dose of romance, you might not want to read on.
Meredith Grey had spent February fourteenth with many men.
She had enjoyed breakfast with Jackson and Alex, shared a somewhat tricky case with Mark Sloan where a man had had a rather unfortunate incident with a pair of handcuffs and scrubbed in with the Chief, losing count along the way of the number of doctors, nurses and lab techs she'd spoken to.
But there was one tall, perfect haired neurosurgeon with a smile to die for who had remained frustratingly absent for the entire day.
To the extent that it was now eleven forty-five, and unless she found him between her locker room and her car, the only time they would've spent together for the entire day would be about four and a half hours spent fast asleep in bed with his arm slung across her waist, broken by the summoning call of his pager.
Running a hand through her hair before straightening her fringe quickly, she hoisted her bag onto her shoulder and made her way through the hospital and down into the lobby, still minus a husband. Something that was made worse by the fact that, with a slick of lip gloss over her lips, a top which shimmered delicately in the light and cost her more than she was willing to admit and an engagement ring which adorned the ring finger of her left hand rather than the delicate silver chain hanging empty around her neck, it appeared that she had made an effort for the day she had spent the rest of her adult life mocking, only to spend the entire day without the person that she supposed the effort had really been for.
"Derek left about half an hour ago, if that's who you're searching for."
Miranda Bailey's lightly humorous tones cut through her thoughts, and she spun on her heels (new, purchased with her husband in mind and eligible to be added to the list of efforts made, if she was honest) to face her mentor.
"He was quite careful to leave without you noticing, if that's any help," she added with a smirk, demonstrating that uncanny ability to read Meredith like a book.
Particularly when it came to Derek Shepherd.
"Thank you, Dr Bailey," she answered eventually, taking stock for a moment before fishing her car keys out of her bag and racking her brains to figure out whether she had a pair of shoes in her car suitable to drive in. As she turned to leave, her mentor's voice rang out again with a warmth she rarely heard.
"You look nice, Grey," Miranda told her slowly, nodding slightly as she signed a final chart with a flourish before making a sweeping gesture towards the younger doctor. "He's a lucky man." Just for a moment, understanding passed between the two. And suddenly, she was speaking again. "I'd be lying if I said I'd approved of your relationship, but the way that you've made it work over the past year has really surprised me."
"Thank you," Meredith told her gratefully, her voice soft as she fiddled with the keychain she held. "It means a lot." And it really did. Her relationship with Derek sometimes felt like it was a constant battle, and one that she felt like she was finally starting to win. Silence descended over the pair once again, and as quickly as it came the moment had passed. "I should go and find my husband," she concluded eventually, nodding decisively. "I... hope you have a good night, Dr Bailey," she added, turning to walk away.
"Don't be nosy, Dr Grey!" Miranda's voice rang out from behind her, and Meredith couldn't help the grin that spread across her face as she headed for her car, even as the hands on her watch slipped to eleven fifty five.
Unlocking her front door at twelve twenty, resigned to the fact that it was now undoubtedly February fifteenth and she was officially, unavoidably late, she was unsure what she would find as she dropped her bag and keys by the door, tossing her coat expertly onto the rack as she straightened her top.
Derek's car was parked neatly in the driveway, which was notably otherwise empty. April and Lexie she knew were on nights, but she had worked her entire shift with Alex and Jackson and had been prepared all along to plan her evening around the two single men sprawled in front of some sporting event with beer. Judging by the silence that met her, she had prepared all wrong.
Instead, as she made her way into the living room, heels echoing through the house, she was greeted with an entirely different sight sprawled over the couch. With one leg bent, foot resting on the floor and an arm flung over his eyes, accompanied by rumpled clothing that was slightly untucked and gloriously messy hair that called out to be touched, her husband, blissfully unaware of her presence and sleeping peacefully made quite possibly the most adorable sight she'd seen all day.
And she wasn't one to even think the word adorable, as a general rule.
This was the first year she had allowed him to convince her to lift her ban on any celebration of the day in question, and she smiled fondly as she remembered his and Owen's almost military attempts to get their respective wife and girlfriend to celebrate the year previous.
A bottle of her favourite merlot stood breathing on the coffee table, alongside two glasses and a small, boxed present wrapped with the precision skill that could only be attributed to a surgeon.
She had worried that he would go overboard and she would be greeted by an abundance of candles, rose petals and endless presents ranging from the edible to the fluffy, stuffed variety from the man with a secret reputation for a love of cheese, but it seemed that in a simple, understated gesture, even if he had fallen asleep in the process, her husband had read her perfectly, yet again.
Walking over, she leant over the back of the couch to run her fingers lightly through his hair, applying a gentle pressure to his scalp as she watched him stir. Having the sense to move clear of the arm flung across his face, she eased her fingers against his scalp almost rhythmically and found herself smiling warmly as he blinked, stared at her for a moment and grinned, pushing himself up.
"You could at least have stayed up long enough to witness the fact that you've turned me into a hopeless, romantic sap," she teased, laughing softly as he caught her hand, guiding her round before giving a sharp tug so that she fell into his lap and straight into a passionate, if somewhat sleepy embrace.
Hooking both arms loosely around his neck, she felt her cheeks flushing slightly as he leant back a little to study her with a gaze she was used to experiencing through a cloud of desire.
"Romantic sap?" he questioned eventually, his voice thick with sleep and utterly endearing. "Works for you," he concluded, pulling her hands down into her lap and smiling warmly as he noticed the ring.
"See?" she muttered, letting him tangle his fingers easily with hers. "And I couldn't even say happy Valentine's Day to my husband if I wanted to, because it's not," she complained, shaking her head sharply as she felt the ever-familiar rambling starting and heard him stifling a laugh. Lifting her hand, he studied the watch on her arm for a second and laughed some more.
"I thought you were only doing this to humour me," he pointed out eventually, gesturing around with a grin on his face that told her he was loving every minute. "The Valentine's thing, I mean."
"Maybe I was wrong," she muttered, a smile easily concealing the grumpiness of her voice. "It's still cheesy. And sappy. It's just that I am too," she added, wrinkling her nose in disgust. "See? You've ruined me." He was laughing fully now, leaning over to kiss her soundly.
"Well you look beautiful," he told her, shifting her easily onto the couch as he leant over to pour the wine. "That colour really suits you. I had an idea anyway, if you want to hear it?" he continued, complimenting her as it were the most natural thing in the world and weaving it effortlessly into conversation because that was just how well he knew her. Turning to offer her a glass, he smiled as she settled comfortably against the pillows.
"If I hear it, do I get my present?" she teased, taking her glass and clinking it lightly against his before taking a slow sip.
"Who said it was a present for you?" he shot back, grinning as he leant his side against the back of the couch, watching her.
"Firstly, you wouldn't dare buy my sister a Valentine's gift... secondly, unless there's something pretty serious you're not telling me it won't be for Jackson or Alex, and let's not even go into all the reasons why it better not be a gift for April," she countered, poking his leg with her shoe.
Leaning forward, he swiped the present off the coffee table, dropping it into her waiting hand with a grin as she swung her legs over his lap.
"It's a gift for you," he told her sweetly, a smile crossing his lips that he reserved just for her.
"Thank you," she murmured softly, "even though I told you no presents," she added, the smile on her lips betraying the apparent sincerity of her words.
"You told me no Valentine's presents," he told her, cutting her off with two fingers against her lips before she could even speak. "Which all forms part of my idea, if you would zip it for more than thirty seconds," he laughed. "But as you pointed out, it's almost past the point where we could cheat and call it Valentine's Day anyway, so I thought maybe we could do an... un-Valentine's." He paused, shaking his head and chuckling, "which sounded much more romantic in my head..."
"What do you mean," she asked with a smile, her eyes sparkling in a way that told him she already liked the idea.
"Well I was thinking February fifteenth wouldn't be anywhere near as hard to swap shifts on... and that way, we could make our own traditions," he added, smiling as she caught his arm, pulling herself closer to him and standing her wine down.
"New traditions like a good bottle of wine and lots of dirty sex?" she asked slowly, her eyes warm and open as she watched his reaction. He nodded, feeling his body react instinctively as she straddled his hips. "I think that's an excellent idea," she concluded after little more than a moment's thought, leaning down to kiss him deeply. He laughed, snaking both arms around her waist and smiling as she sank into the hug, letting her head rest against his shoulder. "I love you," she told him quietly. She seldom spoke the words, but when she did they were laced with meaning.
"I love you too, sweetheart," he murmured against her ear, smiling as he felt her arms snake around his waist in response.
"Even if you have turned me into a romantic sap who likes your cheesy nicknames, and your presents," she countered, making no move to retreat from the warmth of his arms. He laughed, fingers trailing lightly down her spine until she shivered and sat back, curling delicately into his side. "What did you do with everyone, anyway?" she asked lightly, letting her head drop carefully against his shoulder as his fingers curled warmly around her arm.
"Ahh," he laughed, shaking his head slightly. "Don't worry about that. It was worth their while."
"I'm not complaining," she reassured him quickly, unable to quite wipe the smile from her face as he caught her left hand, tangling their fingers together again. "I was just curious, that's all."
They weren't big on holding hands, if she was honest. She was always instantly soothed by the slight pressure of his fingers against her back, but rarely found her fingers linked through his.
Somehow, it felt strangely intimate.
"The ring looks good," he told her eventually, smiling as a blush crept over her cheeks once again. "It's okay to like it, you know," he added, watching as she lifted their hands to study the ring once again.
She smiled, slowly, and drew her eyes up to meet his, sparkling with affection that she wasn't even attempting to hide.
She loved her husband. And considering that she'd already turned into a romantic sap, what was a little extra affection?
"Have you... ever thought about adding a wedding band?" he asked eventually, squeezing her fingers gently as he waited for her to respond. Slowly she nodded, eyes dipped for a moment until she turned a remarkably open gaze onto him.
"I think I might like it," she conceded quietly, her nose wrinkling slightly as she realised what she was saying. "Not because I want everyone to know we're married, but because I want us to know we're married... not that we don't know that we're married, but..." she stopped, his fingers against her lips again. "Right, rambling," she muttered, kissing his fingers lightly. "Anyway, I seem to remember you promising when you were lying in that hospital bed that you'd marry me properly, so the ball's actually in your court, Dr Shepherd," she finished proudly, the teasing tone returning to her voice as she grasped the upper hand once more.
Somehow, they got it just right. The balance between sincerity and silliness, underpinned all the while by a deep affection that showed no signs of fading.
"I got a little distracted by the fast driving, huh?" he agreed quietly, his expression apologetic as she nodded slowly in appreciation. "Maybe we can talk about it properly, sometime?" he asked, her left hand still held loosely in his.
"Are you asking me to marry you again?" she asked, her voice lightly teasing as she focused far more serious eyes on him. "...Derek?" she prompted when he didn't answer, reaching up to touch his cheek.
"I didn't ask a question the first time," he pointed out, leaning into her fingers slightly. "And you're already my wife, so no, I'm not asking you to marry me again."
"Another thing we didn't do by the book," she murmured softly, leaning in for a kiss before flashing him an incredibly gentle smile. "I do think about it," she told him quietly, shaking her head slightly, "the ring, I mean. But if it's something we're serious about, I... think I need time to actually think about it?"
"I'm serious about it," he told her quietly, brushing the backs of his fingers against her cheek. "Take all the time you need." He grinned suddenly, turning the full force of his undeniably McDreamy charm on in a matter of seconds as she found herself smiling fully in response, leaning easily into the warmth of his lips for a kiss as she laughed softly. "That the kind of cheese you were expecting on Valentine's Day?" he asked, laughing with her as he grabbed her round the waist easily, pulling her tightly into his arms.
"I thought it was...un-Valentine's Day," she murmured, pressing her lips to his once again.
"With the wine and dirty sex?" He laughed, fingers toying lazily with the hem of her top.
"With the wine and dirty sex," she agreed, moving to straddle his hips as his fingers skimmed the bare skin at the small of his back, arching slightly into him despite herself. "And presents," she added, catching sight of the box that sat unobtrusively sparkling delicately in the low light of the room.
She wasn't materialistic in the slightest, and would probably have gone as far as saying that she didn't really like presents. But there was always a time to start making an exception, and a gift from her husband was surely the place to start.
He smiled, almost reading her mind as he picked the present up , turning it slowly in his hands before resting it in her outstretched hands once again.
"Un-Valentine's Day it is, then."