A/N: I apologize for the serious delay in posting and this being a short chapter. I'm surprised I tidied this up when finals week is starting. After this week I'll have a little more time to write and hopefully make some progress. This is without a beta so all mistakes are mine. The lyrics before the start of this chapter are owned by Leslie Feist and are from her song "Let it Die" from the album of the same name. It was this song that kind of spurred me on to writing this chapter. Oh, and irishgirl686, ya nag. ;)
The saddest part of a broken heart
Isn't the ending so much as the start.
The cab ride home had been dreadful. There was no sense of calm to be found as Meredith saw her home looming in the distance. She had hoped the silence would have offered her a little reprieve, but she thought wrong. The young doctor looked down at her hands, clutched tightly together, knuckles white with strain. Meredith let out a ragged breath as she felt the cab come to a stop and offered up her payment and silently slipped from the back.
It was like her body was paralyzed with fear and she found that taking a single step forward was more difficult than expected. Her keys dug into the palm of her hand with how tightly she gripped them. It was as if the pain was all she could feel, otherwise, it would all feel numb. Meredith noticed Derek's car parked neatly in the drive but further inspection of the house showed no visible light from within. Perhaps she had caught a break and would enter to find the house empty, giving her more time to order her thoughts before she spoke with Derek.
Letting out a breath she hadn't realized she was holding, her body swiftly moved to the porch and before she knew it was inside and squinting in the darkened foyer. Meredith barely registered the faint clinking of her keys as they made contact with the table and walked into the kitchen, flipping on a small light as she tossed her bag unceremoniously atop the counter. The house was quiet. Eerily so, and Meredith strained her ears to listen for any sign that Derek was there. She knew her actions were reflecting that of a coward, but she didn't care. After hearing nothing, Meredith slouched down onto one of the bar stools and leaned heavily against the island counter. A hand was instantly tangled in her hair as she figured the ordeal with Derek wasn't in her immediate future. She felt some of the tension leave her body before a throat clearing behind her made his presence known.
A sharp intake of breath let the man know she was not expecting his presence. Meredith's body was rigid the moment the noise registered in her mind. Her thoughts were racing a mile a minute with what to do and how to act. She couldn't read into just a clearing of Derek's throat to tell how this conversation was going to go. Steeling herself for the inevitable, Meredith slowly spun her body around on the stool to face the hurt and angry eyes of Derek Shepherd.
"Tell me what's going on, Meredith," Derek said, crossing his arms across his chest and leaning against the doorframe. His tone of voice gave away nothing. The resident took in his defensive stance and realized this entire conversation could deteriorate rapidly if there was a single misstep on her part.
"There's nothing going on," Meredith blurted out, her mouth obviously disconnected from her mind's thought of avoiding any missteps. She grimaced at the spark she saw rage within his eyes and prepared for the onslaught.
"Bullshit," he deadpanned, but his jaw was set firmly and Meredith could see the twitch and his anger boiling just beneath the surface. This conversation was a spark away from blowing the proverbial powder keg and Meredith felt helpless knowing she would be the one supplying the flame that would cause this situation to erupt right before her eyes.
"Derek," Meredith choked out, unable to meet his gaze. This is harder than I imagined it would be, she thought. She knew destroying the man before her would hurt, but she hadn't realized how much until presented with the reality of it. She heard him sigh from his position and it made her resilience crumble down around her. I can't do this, I can't lie to him just to save us both the hurt it's going to cause, she thought.
"I can't do this anymore," she whispered, bringing her hand up and covering her mouth, finally raising her eyes to meet Derek's own. It was like the wind had been taken out of his sails and he just stood there with his eyes wide with what she had just uttered. She sat there and waited for what felt like hours for his reaction to her statement. The air around them was thick with tension and hardly anything had been revealed beyond that singular sentence Meredith had uttered.
"Can't do what anymore?" Derek exclaimed, his voice rising, showing his irritation. "What is it, Meredith? Just talk to me, please," he all but begged, his voice hitching with emotion. Meredith watched him step toward her but she quickly moved from her seated position and put the island counter between them. The look on his face further intensified the aching feeling coursing through her body.
"This-," Meredith said, her hands motioning between the two of them. "Us, Derek. We're fooling ourselves," she explained, not really giving him the information that mattered the most. It would come out sooner than later, so she was biding her time before she put the final nail in the coffin of their relationship. "I'm sorry, Derek, but we're over," she added, looking down at the island counter to avoid his hurt gaze.
"Don't do this, Mer," Derek pleaded, not understanding what had changed to bring them to this point. "We can make this work, you know that. I love you," he started, but Meredith's quick response cut off anything further from him.
"I'm sorry, Derek, but that's not enough," the resident began; feeling her stomach begin to churn at finally revealing what she had kept from him for all these years. She held up her hand to quiet him from saying anything, his mouth hanging open from being warned not to speak. "Just let me get this out before you say anything, alright?" Meredith asked, seeing the small nod of agreement from Derek before taking a deep breath and exhaling. "I want you to know that this isn't easy for me, Derek," she started, steeling herself for the fallout that was inevitable once she uttered the words she had felt for so long but only acknowledged recently.
"I tried so hard to love you; to return the love you had for me, but I just couldn't. You deserve everything, and I can't give that to you. It's not that I don't love you, because I do, but I'm not in love with you," Meredith stressed, trying to ease Derek into her revelations one at a time. The young doctor knew this was one of the hardest aspects to their conversation and was hoping he would be hung up on this to fully acknowledge her feelings toward Addison when she divulged them. She cleared her throat and took a shuddering breath. This was it.
"It's just," she hesitated, pinching the bridge of her nose and briefly closing her eyes before meeting his saddened gaze again. "As much as I love you, Derek, it's never going to work," Meredith rambled on, not able to bring herself to dish that devastating blow to Derek. No, she would spare him this pain and let him walk away under the pretense that their relationship was a loveless one. It was as simple as that. Her mind was too messed up to take that road and she knew it. There was no point in fucking something up before it had a chance to begin.
"That's all you have to say to me?" He asked, his eyes no longer filled with rage, but rather lacking anything except the pain he was obviously feeling. "I don't even know who you are right now. It's like I'm not looking at the same woman I've been in love with since that first time I saw you," he trailed off, hands falling limply at his side.
"Derek-," Meredith started but soon found the words she was about to utter to be pointless. She could not take away the pain she had singlehandedly caused Derek in this single moment, nor did she have the right.
"Don't," he stated firmly, the emotions swirling through his expressive eyes. No matter how much Meredith hadn't wanted to hurt him, that's exactly what she had done. Head hung low with regret; Meredith didn't even notice Derek's quick retreat from the kitchen. The only sign of his departure was the door slamming and his thundering footsteps down the front steps of the house.
Derek's reaction was unexpected. Meredith had figured he would have questioned her further, wondering how she had fallen out of love with him so suddenly. She certainly wasn't going to look a gift horse in the mouth.
"Fuck," Meredith breathed out, her head sinking into her hands at the thought that just entered her mind. The scenarios running through her head certainly weren't helping. Meredith knew Derek would likely be unable to remain professional, especially if she was assigned to be his resident. This news would be spread like wildfire within the hospital walls and it wouldn't take long before the whole building was abuzz about anything the nursing staff caught wind of.
"I'm so screwed," she finished, accepting that for the foreseeable future, life at Seattle Grace was going to be a challenge.
Despite the wide range of conflicting emotions and thoughts full about the gossiping nursing staff, what resonated the most for Meredith was the sense of overwhelming exhaustion setting in. She knew that not divulging the real reason behind their sudden split was the right choice. Had she confessed her feelings to Derek, the friendship she hoped to eventually repair could easily have been lost. Meredith hoped that they could reconcile at some point, but realistically she knew this would be a tough hurdle for Derek to overcome. But even through all these thoughts, Meredith knew having this discussion with Derek was for the best.
It was with the weight lifted off of her shoulders that Meredith made a sluggish journey up the stairs and into her bedroom. Clothing was removed without regard to where it landed before she was in only her undergarments as she crawled beneath the covers and succumbed to the overwhelming need to sleep.
Meredith's last thought before sleep consumed her was of the woman who had plagued her thoughts for years and that regardless of the outcome, she was going to know what it felt to be alive again.