I Can Come Home to You
Summary: Post 7x03 'Superfreak'. What if the end of Amelia's visit to Seattle had gone a little differently. Meredith and Derek.
Author's Note: I've recently been catching up on Private Practice, and whilst I liked Amelia in her brief cameo on Grey's, I've started to love her on Private Practice. And so I started wondering how the end of her visit to Seattle could have gone differently, and decided to write it. Before I started writing I intended this to be a relatively small piece, tying up a few lose ends I thought the episode had left unfinished. Then I decided to re-watch the episode before I started writing, and it threw up a whole host of ideas and links to previous storylines that I hadn't even thought of. There are a couple of things to clear up, first of all. Firstly, I realise that the Amelia and Mark storyline was crucial to plots on both grey's and Private Practice, but it never quite rang true to me, so needless to say it doesn't happen here. I'm just suggesting another possibility. Secondly, I haven't explored the miscarriage here at all. That's not to say that I feel it's unimportant or irrelevant, it's more to say that in my mind there was a conversation we didn't get to see after 7x02, and my feeling is that around the time of 7x03, Meredith and Derek might have needed a little time just to be them. And to be frank, there's a hell of a lot of other stuff they had to deal with, so this is my own ponderance on a night where the miscarriage may not have been at the forefront of their minds. I didn't want to brush over it, so I made the decision not to tackle it. So now that I've said all that, this is the result. A not-so-brief journey into the parts of 7x03 that we didn't get to see, and how it could've ended differently for Meredith, Derek and Amelia.
Leaning against the hood of his car, there was a hint of moisture and a decidedly cold breeze in the air as Derek sighed softly, eventually lifting his head from its resting place atop his sister's head. Amelia stayed still for a moment longer, and he rubbed her arm gently until she finally moved, turning watery eyes up to his. He smiled warmly, ignoring the tears in his own eyes as he pulled her close for another hug.
"I have missed you, Amy," he told her quietly, smiling again at the gentle laugh he received in response to the name only he was allowed to use.
She'd always be Amy to him, whatever she said.
"I've missed you too, big brother," she bantered softly, the sincerity in her voice unmistakable as she nudged him gently with her shoulder before falling quiet again. "Derek..." she voiced eventually, shaking her head slightly as he shifted slightly to face her.
"I'm fine," he told her, understanding instantly. "I'm okay. I'm here, I'm working. I'm okay, Amy," he repeated firmly, laughing as she pulled a face at the name.
"You promise?" she asked, the wobble in her voice clear.
"I promise," he confirmed. "I have to take it easy, but I'm okay. And I have Meredith," he added, a smile crossing his lips. Amelia smiled, considering this for a moment before nodding slowly. Even though it had been years, they still had a sibling understanding, and he knew her silence said that there would be no questions or comparisons to him and Addison, tonight.
His family were accepting Meredith's place in his life with barely a question, and it felt good.
They fell silent again as Amelia snuck her arms round his waist, and he rubbed her arm gently, giving her the time she needed. Slowly, familiar voices seeped into his awareness, and he shook his head slightly, chuckling. April's slightly whiny, panicked voice reached him first, her pitch and volume rising with every dramatic word she spoke, interrupting the low chatter around her.
"Who's... that with Dr Shepherd?" she questioned, horrified.
Amelia sat up a little straighter as she picked up on the familiar name, glancing at her brother as he laughed.
"Dude, seriously," Alex chimed in next, laughing as he aimed his words towards Meredith, "I thought we were past the point where your husband hugged other women!"
"That's his sister, ass," Meredith spoke next, and as Derek looked up in time to watch her smack Alex round the head to match the annoyance in her words she looked towards him, their eyes meeting easily. She tipped her head a little, her gaze flitting briefly to Amelia before settling back on him, concerned and questioning. He nodded slightly, gesturing with his free hand for her to join them . She nodded, before turning to her friends.
"Don't ask," he told Amelia, feeling the telltale shake of her shoulders as she started to laugh. "They're Meredith's friends. Alex is a little protective, and April..." He paused, shaking his head. "Just don't ask." Pulling a face at the thought of having to explain, he shook his head, eyes wandering towards Meredith as she gestured wildly between them and her group of friends. "Hey, what time is your flight?" he questioned eventually, turning his attention back to his sister.
"It's... actually not until after midnight," she admitted reluctantly, flashing him a sheepish grin. "I figured it was easier to let you think it was in a couple hours..."
"Will you let me buy you dinner?" he asked, feeling guilty as his sister's face lit up with the simple suggestion. Meredith had, as usual, been right. Coffee wouldn't have been too much to ask, however mad he was. It might've meant they'd spent more of the day on civil terms, in fact.
"I'd really like that," she told him quietly. They both looked up as they heard footsteps approaching and Derek stood, squeezing Amelia's arm before leaning over to kiss his wife's cheek.
"Hi," she breathed, twisting to smile at Amelia as Derek's hand fell to rest on her hip. "You two... made up?" she questioned hesitantly, resting her own hand on her husband's arm as her attention flitted back to him.
"I'm impossible to stay mad at, what can I say?" Amelia spoke up, laughing. "Are you joining us?" she asked, not oblivious to the silent conversation her brother was having with his new wife.
"Amy has a few hours before her flight, we were going to grab some food," he informed Meredith, smiling. "Join us?"
"Sure," Meredith agreed easily. "Food would be really good, actually," she added quickly, her hand falling against her stomach in an attempt to stop it rumbling, before pressing her bag and coat into her husband's arms. "Definitely better than the liquid dinner I was headed for. Just give me a minute?" she asked, walking back to her roommates, hovering awkwardly just within earshot.
"I like her, Derek," Amelia spoke up, bumping her hip against his to knock him out of his trance as she laughed, calling his name again. "Derek! I've never seen you like this," she added, laughing as he turned to her with a grin.
"I like her too," he laughed, turning to unlock his car and toss his wife's belongings onto the passenger seat.
"Just as well, considering she's your wife and all," Amelia laughed, reaching instinctively to fight him off as he moved to tickle her. As the older brother, he'd soon picked up on his only younger sister's ticklish tendencies, and it was more instinct than anything else. "Cut it out," Amelia protested, pushing him away as the both laughed. Derek relented eventually, pulling the back door open for his sister, just in time to hear Meredith instruct Jackson and Alex to be nice to April before turning on her heel and marching back over to them.
"You might have just saved me," she laughed, kissing his cheek quickly as he held the passenger door open for her to slide in. Amelia laughed, jumping into the backseat as Derek walked round to the driver's seat.
"Saved you from what?" he questioned as he settled in, leaning over to press a proper kiss to her lips. She smiled softly in response, as Amelia settled back in her seat, intent on watching the interaction before her.
"Oh, April's a virgin," she told him seriously, managing a mere matter of seconds before her laughter erupted, joined quickly by Derek's. "She's in for more than a night of teasing with those two," she giggled, throwing a hand in the direction of her already departed friends.
"Wait, the whiny one?" Amelia questioned, receiving a nod from Meredith. "Somehow, that doesn't surprise me," she commented dryly, only causing Meredith and Derek to laugh harder. Eventually they settled, Meredith reaching up to wipe the tears from her eyes as she fastened her belt. Derek put the car into reverse and backed out of his space, still chuckling.
"How did you come across that particular piece of information?" he questioned, keeping his eyes focused firmly on the road in front of him.
"Oh, we had a patient. Twenty seven year old virgin who'd asphyxiated a condom," Meredith responded, met this time with Amelia's laughter first.
"That was your bronchial obstruction?" she asked, shaking her head. "Man, Seattle sounds like fun. Maybe I should move here."
"She'd tried to put the condom on a banana with her mouth at a bachelorette party," Meredith laughed, "and swallowed it, but couldn't bring herself to tell her fiancé. Which obviously made Alex want to share his first time," she added, more for Derek's benefit, "and it went around. April made something up about the beach at sunset," she giggled.
"Ouch," Derek and Amelia spoke almost together, both wincing at the implications, causing Meredith to laugh harder as both looked vaguely disgusted the second they realised they were thinking the same thing as their sibling.
"Cristina pointed out the same thing," she laughed, shaking her head. "I guess it's kinda sweet," she offered half-heartedly, her face betraying any sincerity in her words. "And at least means she probably had no intent in actually seducing her Chief," she added, smirking triumphantly as Derek spluttered slightly.
"Webber?" Amelia asked incredulously, only causing Meredith to laugh again as she got the wrong end of the stick.
"No, your brother," she replied, twisting almost sideward in her seat to look at the brunette in the backseat. "When he was Chief, last year."
"I was going to say!" Amelia exclaimed, her laughter slowing as she considered the prospect of her brother and the whiny brunette she had just experienced. "...still creepy, but less so than if it had been Webber. Although Derek, if you'd introduced her to me as your wife, we would not be sitting in the same car."
"She never stood a chance," Derek cut in smoothly, attracting Meredith's attention instantly as she turned to smile warmly at him.
"Good answer, but I knew that," she muttered confidently, before turning back to Amelia. "So, you're in LA at the moment, right?" she asked. Amelia nodded, and Meredith pulled a hint of a face before continuing. "Okay, so before we get to dinner you might as well tell me how much ground I have to make up after whatever Addison's told you," she stated, a hint of seriousness behind her laughter. Amelia blinked, a couple of times, before shaking her head and laughing.
"I like you already," she shot back, repeating her earlier words to her brother. "And Addison hasn't told me anything, actually. Nancy told me you were a slutty intern a couple years back, but she seems to have changed her mind now and mom, Kathleen and Livi seem to love you. So no ground to make up at all," she reassured, watching as Derek reached out to rest a hand on Meredith's arm, and they shared a smile once again as both their minds drifted back to Derek's hospital stay, when they had been joined by Carolyn, Nancy and his other two sisters, Kathleen and Olivia.
Derek unsurprisingly remembered very little of their visit, but from what Meredith had told him, she'd coped marvellously on her own with a situation she had openly admitted to dreading. They'd made tentative plans to fly out to New York for Thanksgiving or Christmas that year, and despite having met his mom already, she had readily admitted her terror.
He hadn't been unaware that her friends had dubbed Nancy McBitch, by any means, and much as he had tried to convince her otherwise, he hadn't made a lot of headway in convincing her that it wasn't a precedent for how meeting his other sisters was going to go.
Family wasn't her thing. And yet on waking one morning in his hospital bed a little over forty eight hours after the shooting to find himself surrounded by his family and his wife, he had been so grateful to see them that he hadn't managed to give it a second thought for close to a week, when Meredith finally lost her cool and he'd ordered his family out of the room, and his wife onto his bed. Realising in a flash that it had been her who had called his family, who had sat and talked with them while he slept, all the while dealing with the fact that her husband had been shot right in front of her.
Her freak out had intensified tenfold in the time it took him to convince her that if she was careful, it was okay to join him on the bed, and by the time she finally lay by his side she had been a mess of tears and shaking limbs from the combined effect of his family and the fact that her husband had almost died and she was scared to touch him, and he had simply stroked her hair until she calmed and fell into a restless sleep at his side.
"That's good," Meredith was saying to Amelia as he pulled himself out of his memories, her body twisted back towards his sister again. "That she didn't say anything, I mean. And I'm not an intern anymore, so hopefully that makes that description obsolete."
"That was never an accurate definition," Derek cut in, his eyes narrowing slightly. Meredith rolled her eyes, twisting in her seat to placate him with a hand on his shoulder.
"Let's move on," she suggested with a smile, settling back in her seat. "Where are you taking us, anyway?"
"The little Italian place we tried the other week, I thought," he told her, flashing Amelia a quick smile in the rearview mirror.
"Italian," she groaned contentedly from the backseat, "my favourite."
"Meredith's too," Derek answered with a smirk. "And I think I should warn you, she has a bottomless stomach so she'll be able to put away more than even you can manage," he told her, earning himself a smack from Meredith as she twisted angrily in her seat.
"Ignore your brother!" she protested, angry even as she laughed
"It's okay, Mer," he chuckled, "she's almost as bad as you. You should have seen her at Thanksgiving when we were younger."
"Hit him for me again?" Amelia asked, grinning conspiratorially at her new sister-in-law as she turned to hit her husband a second time.
"Maybe I should've kept arguing with you," he grumbled toward the back seat, dropping one hand from the steering wheel to wield off his wife's continuing attacks, "and I know not to anger you with the tiny, ineffectual fists," he turned to Meredith, flashing her what he hoped was a winning smile.
"Jackass," Meredith muttered sweetly, affection lacing the insult as she settled back in her seat again, remembering the time she'd apologised for calling him the exact same thing, twice. He spluttered a couple of times, before shaking his head and turning his attention back to the road, effectively ignoring the two women in his car.
"Meredith, seriously," Amelia spoke up eventually, "I think we're going to get along just fine. Anyone who can shut him up like that is way up in my books," she laughed, as Meredith twisted to smile gratefully at her.
She'd told Derek on more than one occasion that her family issues had only been easy to get over because his family had made it so easy for her. There was, it seemed, nothing like a tragedy to bring people together.
"Hey, how was Cristina today?" she asked eventually, turning back to look at her husband. "I couldn't find her before I left." Derek sighed, shaking his head slightly and glancing sternly into the mirror at his sister.
"Cristina is Meredith's best friend," he told his sister warningly, waiting until she nodded before continuing. "She... didn't do great," he acknowledged eventually, in answer to Meredith's question. "She stayed in the OR, but she froze when things got complicated." Meredith sighed, slumping slightly in her seat.
"You didn't see her before you left?" she asked eventually, hopeful.
"Not... right before," he answered, regretting his choice of words instantly as she turned piercing eyes on him. "Mer," he sighed, ever conscious of his sister's presence in the backseat.
"No, Derek," she demanded quietly, knowing him far too well as usual. "What aren't you saying?"
"She told me she could barely remember the operation," he admitted eventually, flipping his indicator on as they neared the restaurant. "So... I made her show me on a body in the morgue," he finished reluctantly, pulling into a space and dropping his head back against the seat as he killed the engine.
"Derek," Meredith breathed, her fingers snaking out to cover his where they still rested on the steering wheel, shaking slightly.
"I'm fine," he told her firmly, emotions flashing in his eyes as he risked a glance in her direction. She squeezed his fingers gently, nodding slowly in a silent gesture that she would drop it, until later at least.
"Wait a minute," Amelia spoke up eventually, when it appeared no more would be said. "When you said she saved your life..."
"Cristina performed the surgery," Meredith confirmed quietly, watching Derek take a couple of deep breaths. "We were looking for our head of cardio," she continued, shaking her head slightly to try and push back the flood of memories, "but we couldn't find her. Cristina's our best cardio resident though," she added, running her fingers gently up Derek's arm. "So she... yeah."
"You were there?" Amelia asked, closing her eyes for a second as Meredith nodded, realising the similarity of their situations. "I didn't know," she offered quietly, taking a deep breath. "I'm sorry."
"Shall we go in?" Meredith asked eventually, suddenly wanting nothing more than to stop the conversation altogether. She squeezed Derek's hand once more as felt him tense again, waiting a while before reaching down to undo her seatbelt. After a short pause he moved too, and as the three exited the car, Amelia stood back slightly to watch as Meredith rounded the vehicle, barley hesitating before snaking her arms tightly round the waist of her husband. Derek responded instantly, holding on tight as she stretched up to press her lips beneath his ear. Amelia caught their whispered I love you's as they pulled away, and just offered them a smile as they started towards the door.
They knew they were lucky to still have one another. There wasn't a doubt in Amelia's mind that neither needed reminding about that.
Entering the restaurant and finding it relatively quiet they were shown quickly to a table, and once they'd settled and ordered drinks, Amelia turned to the couple seated opposite her and grinned, a plan forming in her mind to lighten the mood of the evening.
"So," she started, grinning. "How did you two meet?" Meredith spluttered slightly as the question came out of the blue, her hand going to her mouth as Derek groaned, burying his face in his hands. Amelia just smirked, settling comfortably into her seat. "Hit a nerve?" she asked sweetly.
"Amy," Derek sighed, pushing a glass of water across the table to Meredith as she dropped her forehead against his shoulder.
"Spill," she grinned, leaning forward on her elbow. "I thought it was an interesting story because mom and the girls couldn't tell me, but now I know it is!"
"Really not that interesting," Meredith cut in, her cheeks flushed as she drained the glass of water in one go. Derek laughed, rubbing her back gently as she coughed.
"We met the night before we both started work at Grace," he explained, knowing his sister was nothing if not persistent, but shaking his head as Meredith tried to speak. "Mer, she doesn't need to hear your explanation, trust me." He paused, ducking easily as she swiped a hand at him before turning back to Amelia. "Let's just say we didn't know we were working together until the next day."
"One night stand?" Amelia grinned. "Smooth." Meredith groaned, pushing Derek away as he moved to slip an arm around her shoulders.
"There was a reason your family weren't supposed to know that bit, remember," she muttered, shooting a glare in his direction as she continued. "I don't remember any point in that conversation where I said sure, feel free to tell them that we were a drunken one night stand that ended with lots of dirty– " her last words were muffled by Derek's hand clapping over her mouth, cutting off her ramble before she could reveal anything regarding their sex life as she glared at him indignantly.
"I won't tell," Amelia spoke up with a grin, laughing at her brother's actions. "I promise. I'll just... hold it over them," she added joyfully. "That I know and they don't, I mean." Meredith smiled gratefully, before something changed in her eyes and her smile turned into a fully fledged grin.
"So in revenge, I don't need to tell you that his nickname at the hospital is McDreamy?"
Derek groaned gratefully as his head hit the pillows, tugging the covers up as he felt his muscles start to release the tension of the day.
Once they'd finished what had been a surprisingly pleasant dinner, albeit interspersed with Amelia's constant, embarrassing stream of questions and Meredith's desire to get back at him for revealing how they'd met, they had driven his sister straight to the airport, with Meredith opting to remain in the car while he walked Amelia to her check-in, giving them some privacy to say goodbye.
They had parted with emotional promises to keep in touch more, and as he'd walked out of the departure doors, he'd found himself with a smile on his face at the reunion with the sister he had considered all but lost.
Meredith had been asleep when he returned, cheek pressed against the window, and although she'd awoken briefly when he started the engine and leant over for a kiss, she'd taken a long look in his eyes and decided not to question the moments she'd missed, instead choosing to doze for the majority of the journey home and leave him to make sense of his jumbled thoughts.
Upon opening the front door, they'd been greeted by the altogether too loud arguing of their roommates, presumably considering the argument Meredith had earlier predicted. She had simply rolled her eyes, touched his back and gestured to the stairs, forgoing shedding any outer clothing in favour of a quick, unannounced exit to the upper floor. Closing their bedroom door, she had leant against it and laughed, kicking off her shoes and shrugging off her jacket before following him into the bathroom.
Which had led to his current situation, sprawled comfortably in bed as she lingered in the bathroom, still trying to make sense of the thoughts flying through his head before she joined him. As his wife of well over a year, she was no longer afraid to ask questions, even when they were tough, so he had an idea of how the rest of their evening would pan out.
She had proven herself time and time again over the past few months, and he allowed a smile to cross his lips as he thought once again that it really was the main reason they'd stepped out on the other side of the traumas they had suffered with a stronger relationship than they had had before.
True to his expectations, she walked out of their en suite a few minutes later, clad only in her faded Dartmouth tee over the black lacy panties he'd watched her pull on that morning without even attempting to conceal his smirk. Feeling the same smirk cross his face now, he settled a little more comfortably against his pillows, watching his wife cross the room and start to search for a clean pair of pyjama pants.
"Stop looking at me like that," she told him eventually, and he could hear the smile in her words even though she made no move to turn and face him.
"You could just come to bed as you are," he suggested, laughing as she turned to throw a sweater at him. Tossing it back, he held a hand out. "Who needs pants, really?" he queried, holding a hand up as a pre-emptive shield to any further items of clothing she intended on throwing. Smiling gently, he changed tactics. "Come to bed, Mer," he urged, confident in the knowledge that he had a smile she couldn't resist, and one he definitely wasn't against using to his advantage every so often. She sighed and made a show of turning to close the drawer, before catching his outstretched hand and crawling into bed, dressed just as she was.
"I know what you're doing," she grumbled, leaning up for a kiss before settling, her head resting carefully against his shoulder. Whilst he was well on the road to recovery and more than capable of a full-time working week, there were certain positions in bed with his wife that still caused him some level of discomfort, particularly when they were both accustomed to her sleeping on his left-hand side. It had been hard on both of them, and she'd found herself climbing over him to settle on his right hand side more than once, if either of them craved the feeling of him spooned up behind her.
Alternatively they found themselves sleeping side by side, shoulders pressed together as they had been when Cristina had intruded that morning. Whilst nowhere near as satisfying, if either of them awoke during the night it was a comfort to feel the warmth of the connection. They'd perfected the position in the early days of his return from the hospital, often leaving their fingers linked as they settled for the night.
There was a heightened connection between them that they hadn't quite shook off yet, even though it had briefly diminished during his stint of fast, reckless driving. And if that meant inventing new ways of sleeping, then that was what they would do.
"So, Amy really likes you," he told her eventually, breaking the silence as he pressed a kiss against her hair. He felt her smile against his shoulder, and she tipped her head back to look at him.
"I hope so," she offered quietly, reaching up for another kiss.
"She told me," he countered, smiling as her eyes lit up slightly. "In the parking lot and in the airport," he added, snaking his fingers under her shirt and letting them rest lightly against the small of her back. She stretched slightly, settling into his touch with a contented sigh. "So that's every member of my family on your side," he added, chuckling.
"Most of whom I met and won over without you," she countered smoothly, "and Amelia liked me even while you weren't talking to her, so you actually get to take credit for very little of that. I'll give you some credit for your mom, maybe, but even Nancy I won over for the second time on my own," she continued, laughing as he cut her off with a kiss.
"Shut up," he told her affectionately, and she reached up to kiss him again as they both allowed their minds to wander.
She had walked in at the tail end of his understandably feeble attempts to threaten Nancy halfway through the second week of his family's visit and had caught his sister's gaze and laughed ,before leaning down to kiss her husband and telling him that they'd actually called a truce the prior week and there was no need for him to demand that Nancy be nice to his wife.
By the time his family made their way back to New York, although she'd warmed to Carolyn the most, closely followed by Olivia and Kathleen, she and Nancy had what she hoped was the beginning of a friendship.
"I'm very proud of you," he continued eventually, kissing her again. She laughed, rolling her eyes acceptingly before pulling him down for yet another kiss.
"Derek," she murmured eventually, her voice taking on a breathy quality that he found particularly endearing, as it usually accompanied the knowledge that he'd just kissed her senseless. "Do you... want to talk about what happened today?"
Unfortunately, that also meant it was a tone he could rarely resist, serious or playful. Which was something he suspected she used to her advantage. She reached up, running her fingers through his hair as she waited for him to talk. He knew it was a technique she had learnt from him, and he took a moment to collect his thoughts.
"We can deal with your sister first," she offered gently, scratching her fingers lightly against his scalp, "or we can start with the whole Cristina thing," she continued. "It's really only two things, think of it that way."
"I was angry with her," he sighed, shaking his head slightly. "Amy, I mean," he added quickly, picking up on the confusion on her face. "I was angry, or at least... I thought I was. I was angry for the things she did, the crap she pulled." Meredith felt his breathing change as he faltered slightly, and she reached for his fingers. "For almost killing herself," he finished quietly, as she dropped her forehead against his shoulder.
"It's different," he told her instantly, the force of emotion behind his words surprising her as he picked up on the exact train of thought she had been fighting off. "She overdosed, Mer. Overdosed. You got knocked into the water." It was a conversation they'd had early one morning, as they attempted to regain the joy they once felt watching the sun rise over the ferryboats. He had moved in, and their relationship was progressing well. The stories she had shared of her time in Europe during Sadie's visit had in all their innocence set them on a path of talking. Sharing. The events of that day had been playing heavily on both their minds as he stopped the car at their favourite point overlooking the Sound, and although it had been him who broached the subject on that occasion, she had contributed surprisingly freely. Tears had been shed, words had been shouted and stories had been shared. They knew what had happened, and they had dealt with it, so she simply nodded and took a breath, the only change being the slight intensification of her fingers against his as she gave him the time he needed to push the unbidden images from his mind.
"Amelia, Derek," she prompted gently, reaching up to press her lips to his cheek as she felt him shake slightly. "We're talking about Amelia."
"I was angry," he repeated eventually, as they both ignored the accompanying shake in his voice. "Until I had a conversation with Cristina, and I realised that... Amy went through the same thing that I did, only she was five." He scoffed, anger clear in the tensing of his body. Fighting the similar reaction in her own body, she simply squeezed his fingers tightly. "Five, Meredith, and she had to watch..." he trailed off, his words faltering as she failed to hide the shudder that shook her body as the memories of her own, all too similar five-year-old experience took over. He cursed under his breath, his voice breaking properly this time.
"It's okay," she managed, pressing the back of her hand to her mouth as she struggled to push away the urge to run for the bathroom. She was meant to be comforting him. "It's okay, I..." she was cut off by his fingers against hers. Drawing her hand away from her mouth and replacing it with the gentle, reassuring stroke of his fingers against her lips.
"Breathe," he commanded quietly. Again, it was a conversation they'd only had once. She'd dealt with the surgical aftermath of an attempted suicide, and he'd found her curled in a small ball on the floor of his office, her body shaking with the force of her tears.
She'd made him promise never to mention it again once she'd finally found the strength to tell him the horrifying details, and as he felt her breathing start to return to normal, he felt horrible for even making her think of it.
If he didn't want his sister to know pain existed, the desire to take away all the pain Meredith had experienced was hitting him tenfold.
"I didn't think, Mer," he breathed, his fingers sliding into her hair as she used what he recognised as her practised technique to control her breathing. "I'm sorry."
"It's okay," she repeated bravely, her voice hoarse and shaky. Slowly, her eyes opened, and she reached up to wipe away the tears that had strayed. "Tell me what happened next," she urged quietly, laying her head back against his shoulder. He nodded slowly, pressing his lips to her hair again as he gave her a few moments of silence. When she was ready, he felt her fingers squeeze his gently.
"She'd told me in the OR that she didn't remember what happened that night," he told her quietly, his hold on her tightening. "So I waited out by the car, and... I talked her through it."
"Do you want to tell me?" she asked, the braveness in her voice almost leaving him speechless, even though it was tinged with unshed tears. It was a conversation they had tackled in some depth, although both were aware that it wasn't finished and she was well aware that the stuff he had talked to Amelia about might be the very moments he hadn't been able to bring himself to recount to her.
"I think that's enough for tonight," he told her quietly, managing a smile as she nodded slowly.
"Thank you," she breathed shakily, unable to hide the relief in her voice. Squeezing her shoulder gently, he nodded, pressing a kiss against her hair as they fell into a comfortable silence. Her hand settled against his stomach, instinctively mimicking the movement of his fingers against her shoulder.
"Why doesn't she like being called Amy?" she asked eventually, tipping her head up slightly to reveal eyes that were now dry, if slightly red.
"It's what we called her, when she was little," he told her quietly. She nodded, reaching up for a kiss as she accepted his answer for what it was.
"I'm really glad you made up," she offered, smiling softly as he kissed her again. Settling comfortably, she allowed herself to close her eyes. They'd dealt with half of the required conversation, and as she felt him relax a little against her, she figured there was nothing wrong with a brief interlude.
"The arguing seems to have stopped," he commented eventually, as if reading her thoughts. She laughed softly, snaking her arm further around him.
"Good," she murmured, smiling as his arms closed around her in response.
"Are you okay there?" he asked softly, feeling her smile against his shoulder. She nodded, pressing her lips against the thin material covering his skin.
"Perfect," she mumbled. "Just... perfect." And so they lay in companionable silence, lost in their own thoughts until Meredith shuddered slightly, finding herself a little too close to thoughts she couldn't deal with again that night. Shaking her head slightly, she shifted away a little to look up at her husband. "So do you think Amelia will stay in LA?" she asked quietly, hoping he would pick up on her need to change the subject.
As usual, he did.
"I hope so," he offered, smiling. "It seems to suit her, and she and Addison... they always got on well, plus Addie knows the signs to watch out for. I think it'd be good for her. Oh, and apparently," he continued, laughing to himself. "Addison is dating Sam," he continued, giving her a moment to place the name and laughing as she raised an eyebrow.
"Sam as in... the asthma guy? Wasn't he married to the other..." she trailed off, searching for the name.
"Naomi, who is Addison's best friend, and yes. That Sam," he confirmed, and she laughed at her husband's well-denied propensity for gossip.
"If you described her love life to someone, they wouldn't believe you," she muttered, laughing as she snuggled back into his side, secretly pleased when he laughed too that they were at a point where they could joke about the ex-wife without it being an issue.
"You're right there," he laughed, shaking his head.
"Well, I... hope they're happy," she offered eventually, at somewhat of a loss for what else to say. She didn't harbour any bad feelings towards the neonatal surgeon any longer, and would go as far as to say that she actually sort of liked her on a professional basis, but that didn't mean that she had any real interest in her love life. Derek nodded his agreement, his lips falling to her forehead as they fell silent again.
It stretched out for a longer period this time, and whilst she was undeniably comfortable wrapped in the warm strength of her husband's arms, Meredith sighed, taking a deep breath. It was clear that she was going to have to be the strong one that night.
"Will you tell me about what happened with Cristina?" she asked eventually, moving a little to stretch her body before settling against him once more, as if to ready herself for the conversation. He sighed and nodded slowly, wrapping his palm around her shoulder. "You said she froze in surgery?" she questioned after a long pause.
"She stood by the wall for most of the procedure," he told her, before proceeding to run her through a brief outline of the case. Her interest in neuro cases took over, and she asked a few questions as they went along, causing him to stop and sigh. "You've contributed more in five minutes than she did day," he told her quietly. "She wouldn't... I tried to get her to take an interest, to answer my questions, but it's almost like she wasn't there. Amy thought she was stupid," he scoffed, shaking his head. "Asked how she even got through her internship." Meredith nodded quietly, wringing her fingers together anxiously.
"Thank you for trying," she offered eventually, the worry clear in her voice.
"She saved my life," he told her simply. "I told the Chief..." he sighed. "That if she went, I went. I want her to be okay just as much as you and Owen," he finished, leaving her without a single doubt as to the sincerity of his words.
"Derek," Meredith breathed, shaking her head slightly.
"She's family," he offered, shaking his head as he repeated his words to Cristina. "Even if I might not have chosen her, she's family." She nodded slowly, recognising the sentiment in his words as one she often reminded herself of. When it became clear that he wasn't going to voice any further information, she chose her question carefully and continued.
"So, the conversation you had with Cristina that led to you talking to Amy... Amelia," she corrected, shaking her head, "did that also lead to you taking Cristina to the morgue?" He nodded slowly, his movements stiff, unnatural and breaking her heart. "Derek," she prompted gently. "Can you tell me about it?"
"Cristina said she couldn't remember the procedure," he told her quietly. "Just like Amy told me she couldn't remember..." he sighed, shaking his head slightly as his thoughts got jumbled. "They needed to remember, and Cristina... surgery is what she does, so I thought that maybe..."
"Was it hard?" she asked quietly, when he faltered. The redness in his eyes when she finally looked up at him gave her all the answer she needed. His body shuddered once, twice, and she knelt, the covers falling away from her body as she moved to hug him, as tight as she could.
"It was horrible," he whispered eventually, tears stinging against his eyelids as he clung onto her. He shuddered again and she flattened her palm against his spine, moving up and down in smooth, practised strokes as she offered all the comfort she could. "I knew what the procedure was. I knew what she must have done, but watching her cut, and the... noise, it..." he shook his head, a sob breaking through as he struggled to get his words in the right order. She whispered his name softly, burying her nose against his neck as he cried, tangling her fingers tightly through his hair.
She had sat through half of the surgery on the scrub room floor, playing it through in her head and that had been mortifying enough. For the rest, she had refused to leave her spot, stationed at his head running her fingers through his hair. Just as she was now.
What happened in the middle she wasn't letting herself consider, even as the tears streaked down her cheeks. For now, as she relived the terrifying surgical moments Cristina must have talked him through, it was enough that she had watched, too. There were no words of comfort that she could offer, because no one had been able to comfort her.
She had watched as he flat lined. Twice, or so she thought. And no one had been able to comfort her.
When he eventually found the strength to look up she moved, shaking the memories away and wiping the tears from his cheeks, only for him to replace them with a fresh batch as he realised that she was crying too. That she was reliving it right along with him.
"I'm so proud of you for doing that," she whispered quietly, her words fierce despite the hoarseness of the tears in her voice, "whether it helped her or not, you... you're amazing, Derek," she whispered.
"I can't get it out of my head," he admitted, tears flooding his eyes again as she rested her forehead against his. "Now that I know the mechanics, I can't..."
"It goes away," she told him quietly. "Not immediately, and not completely, but it gets better."
"Has it for you?" he asked quietly, swiping the tears from his eyes again. She smiled, leaning to press her lips against his.
"It's getting there," she told him quietly. "I promise." He nodded slowly before pressing his lips to hers again, the kiss searing as it warmed both of them. "We don't have to talk about it anymore, tonight," she whispered, interrupted by the pressure of his lips on hers more than once, yet rewarded by the tangible release of tension in his body. "I love you, Derek," she whispered, dropping her forehead against his again. "I love you so much."
"I love you too," he whispered, his voice breaking slightly as his fingers brushed her cheek seconds before his lips crashed against hers again. She moaned softly, losing herself easily in the power of his kiss. It made her feel alive like nothing she'd ever experienced before.
It was what they both needed.
He moved first, dropping his forehead against hers as they both struggled to catch their breath. She offered him a gentle smile, rubbing her fingers against the shoulder they had settled on. His eyes filled with tears once again and she felt her heart breaking as she tightened her arms around his shoulders once again, hugging him tightly despite their awkward position.
"Meredith, I need to hold you," he whispered hoarsely. Desperately. "I just need to hold you, properly. Please." She nodded instantly, steadying her hands on either side of him as she climbed over, settling on his right side, hesitating only when she had to decide whether to face towards or away from him. He settled it for her, and his hand rested on her hip as he rolled tiredly towards her, settling on his right side. "Stay there," he whispered, his lips inches from hers. Smiling slowly, she pulled the covers up over them before snaking an arm under his so it rested across his hip, tucking her face into the warmth of his neck.
"Here?" she whispered softly, unable to stop another smile crossing her lips as he nodded quietly. "Just relax, Derek," she told him quietly. "It's just you and me."
"You said it was getting there," he spoke eventually, the roughness of his voice betraying the sheer exhaustion she could feel in his body as he returned to their earlier conversation. "What do you do when it won't go away?"
"I think about the happy times," she told him instantly. "You've given me a lot of good memories, Derek, sometimes you just have to take a moment to look back at those."
"What if that doesn't work?" he asked quietly.
"If that doesn't work, I think about the fact that we're going to have a house soon, and all the good memories that are still to come," she offered quietly, biting her lip at the thought pattern she hadn't yet revealed to him.
"You think about that?" he asked quietly, pulling away a little. She smiled warmly, nodding slowly as the smile she had been waiting for finally crossed his lips.
"All the time," she told him quietly, kissing him gently.
"Does that work the rest of the time?" he asked eventually, hesitance clear in his voice.
"If it doesn't," she paused, considering her answer for a long moment. "If all that doesn't work, Derek, I can come home to you," she finished simply. And that was the end of her loop. Because when she was in his arms, nothing really seemed so scary anymore. Even the thought of almost losing him.
"I can come home to you," he repeated quietly, and she kissed him slowly, like they had all the time in the world. Because now, they did.
"And it'll be okay. I promise."