A/N: I'm really liking the romantic tension between Addison and Jake, so far. So I figured I'd use Valentine's Day as an excuse to write a story for them. I hope you like it, and thanks for reading! Happy Valentine's Day! :)


Ghosts of Valentine's Day Past

She hadn't planned on spending Valentine's Day with him. It just sort of happened. She had initially planned to spend the romantic holiday alone, at home with a bottle of cabernet and some expensive dark chocolate. But people plan, and God laughs – at least that's what Bizzy used to say. So, she really shouldn't have been too surprised when Jake Reilly walked into her office, the day before Valentine's Day, and shot her plans to hell.

She was sitting at her desk, doing paperwork, when it happened.

"Hey, Addison," he smiled, poking his head into her office. "You busy?"

She looked up from the papers in front of her. "Not particularly," she answered. "Just going over some patient files. Come on in."

"Thanks," he smiled, as he walked towards her desk.

"So, what's up?" she asked. "Can I help you with something?"

Jake grinned. "Actually, you can. What are you doing tomorrow night?"

"Tomorrow night, as in Valentine's Day?" Addison clarified.

"Yes, tomorrow night, as in Valentine's Day," Jake smirked.

Addison raised an eyebrow. "Are you asking me out on Valentine's Day?" she teased, a hint of flirtation in her voice.

Jake shook his head. "No. I'm asking you to spend Valentine's Day with me. I'm not asking you out."

"What's the difference?" Addison asked.

"If I were asking you out, I'd pull out all the stops. I'd cook you dinner, there'd be romance, we'd probably end up sleeping together. But I'm not doing that. I'm asking you to spend Valentine's Day with me. That means we're ordering pizza, hanging out, and probably not sleeping together. But I'm open to persuasion."

Addison rolled her eyes. "So you want to spend an unromantic Valentine's Day with me?" she clarified.

Jake nodded.

"Why?"

Jake shrugged. "Because we're friends. I don't have any plans. You don't have any-"

"What makes you think I don't have plans?" Addison interrupted. "I could have plans."

"Do you?" Jake challenged.

Addison nodded. "I do."

"With someone?" Jake asked.

"Well, no, but-"

"Ha. No plans," Jake cut in. "Come on, Addison," he pleaded. "If we don't do something, this will be my first Valentine's Day alone in years."

"Oh, you poor, poor man," Addison mocked.

"So are you coming?" Jake asked hopefully.

Addison sighed. "Fine," she conceded, against her better judgment. "When and where?"

"Tomorrow night…my house…8 pm," Jake smiled.

"Okay," Addison nodded, reaching for her planner.

"Penciling me in, huh?" Jake teased.

Addison shook her head. "No," she said, tossing the planner into the trashcan by her desk.

"What was that all about?" Jake laughed. "Why'd you throw out your planner?"

Addison gave him a dry smile. "Because planning is clearly useless."

xxxxx

She arrived at his house at 8:05. Arriving earlier than eight would have seemed desperate, but showing up too much later would have been rude. At 8:05, she was fashionably late. She'd never been to his house before, but she'd always wondered what it looked like. She decided instantly that she liked his taste in decorating – manly, but still stylish. Chocolate colored leather sofas with maroon throw pillows, and big windows made the living room elegant, yet inviting. She walked over to the mantle, and looked at the pictures displayed there. Several were of young girl with long brown hair and bright blue eyes.

"That's Chloe," Jake said, answering her unspoken question. He handed her a glass of red wine. "She's my daughter."

Addison's eyes widened in surprise; "I, uh, I…I didn't know," she stammered. "I didn't know you had a daughter."

Jake nodded. "She's my stepdaughter, actually. But I was always more of a father to her than her biological one was, and I couldn't love her more if we were biologically related, so the labels stepfather and stepdaughter never really fit for us."

Addison nodded, swallowing the lump that had suddenly formed in her throat. "So, you and Chloe are still close? You know, even though you and her mom split up?"

Jake shifted uncomfortably. "Lily…that's Chloe's mom...she and I didn't split up. Lily died…eight years ago."

"I'm so sorry," Addison apologized, fighting the tears that were building in her eyes. There was still so much she didn't know about him.

"Thanks," Jake said quietly. "Anyway," he brightened, "ever since Lily died, Chloe and I have spent Valentine's Day together."

"So that's why you said, yesterday, that you haven't spent a Valentine's Day by yourself in years," Addison said softly. "You've spent it with your daughter."

Jake nodded. "For the past eight years. Lame?" he asked hesitantly.

Addison shook her head. "No. Not at all. Not even close."

"Good," Jake smiled. "I would have made you leave if you had said yes."

Addison chuckled. "So where's Chloe this year? Why aren't you spending Valentine's Day together?"

"She's in college," Jake explained. "Out of state. That kind of makes a father-daughter Valentine's Day difficult."

Addison smiled. "I guess it does."

"I sent her flowers, though," Jake said. "She'll probably hate me for it…you know, because the guy that she actually likes will probably think she has some boyfriend living in California...and she'll have to explain that it's just her dad."

"I'm sure she'll love you for it," Addison reassured him, gently placing a hand on his bicep.

"Thanks," Jake smiled. "So, uh, now you know how I've spent my Valentine's Days for almost a decade. I think it's only fair that you tell me how you spent yours."

"Not as nobly as you," Addison chuckled.

"Funny," Jake smirked. "But stop deflecting."

"You really want to know about my past love life?" Addison asked warily, as they sat down on the couch together.

"Well, not the intimate details," Jake admitted. "But, yeah, I do."

"Okay," Addison shrugged. "Well, I spent the majority of my Valentine's Days with my ex-husband Derek…Amelia's brother. And Valentine's Day with Derek…well, I guess the only way to describe it…was like a fairytale. Think of every Valentine's Day cliché you can imagine – that was us. But not in a nauseating type of way. I don't know, to an outsider looking in, it might have been a little nauseating – but it worked for us."

"Sounds nice," Jake smiled.

Addison nodded. "It was," she admitted. "But fairytales are just that…fairytales. In real life, cheating happens, and interns happen, and more cheating happens. After I cheated on Derek with his best friend, he moved to Seattle and met an intern...Meredith I went out there after him, and we tried to make things work, but he ended up cheating on me with Meredith. Anyway, Derek and Meredith are married now, and they're happy, I guess. But, regardless, Derek will always be my 'fairytale' Valentine." Addison looked at Jake warily. "More?" she asked.

"Yeah."

"Okay," she sighed. "Then there was Mark – Derek's best friend. We never actually spent a Valentine's Day together. Labels and titles weren't really our thing, so I guess it kind of makes sense that we never celebrated a Valentine's Day together. I guess Mark would have to be my 'almost' Valentine…my almost so many things, actually. I probably didn't have to tell you about Mark, did I?" Addison reflected. "You know, since he and I never actually spent a Valentine's Day together."

Jake laughed. "I don't know," he admitted. "Mark sounds like he was a pretty important guy in your life."

"He was," Addison nodded. "He is," she amended quickly. "He's my 'it's a quarter after one, I'm all alone and I need you now' guy. Even after all these years."

"Excuse me?" Jake asked in confusion.

"Lyrics from a Lady Antebellum song," Addison explained. "Don't you have a college-age daughter? Shouldn't you be up on your music?"

"Oh, I've heard the song before," Jake laughed. "It's one of Chloe's favorites. It's just, it's not every day you hear a double board certified surgeon reference Lady Antebellum."

Addison rolled her eyes. "Make fun of me if you want…the lyrics still fit."

"Okay," Jake conceded. "So, who did you celebrate Valentine's Day with when you were in Seattle?"

Addison felt her cheeks grow warm. "This is kind of embarrassing," she admitted.

"Excellent," Jake grinned.

"I spent my Valentine's Day in Seattle lusting over my intern."

"Really?" Jake asked.

"Really," Addison affirmed.

"Was it a revenge thing? You know, your ex-husband had an intern, so you wanted one too?"

Addison shook her head. "It wasn't. His name was Alex Karev. He got me a lawsuit and had the nerve to taunt me, so I stuck him on my service, and pretty much did everything in my power to make his life miserable."

"Wow, Seattle Addison kind of sounded like a badass."

"She was."

"So what happened?" Jake asked. "With Alex, I mean."

"It turned out he was great at neonatal. And he ended up being a pretty good guy too. He made me feel noticed during the point in my life when I felt the most alone…the most invisible. I know it probably sounds crazy, but I could have seen myself settling down with him…having a family with him. He acts tough, but I think, deep down, he's a barbeque and catch type of guy."

"So what happened?"

"He couldn't see himself settling down with me," Addison said simply. "So nothing happened. I guess Alex was my 'what if' Valentine."

"Your 'what if' Valentine," Jake grinned. "I like that. So after you left Seattle, you came here, and started dating Sam?"

"Well, first I dated Pete," Addison said, scanning Jake's face for any change in expression. She smiled slightly when he seemed unfazed.

"I thought I heard something about that," Jake nodded.

"Yeah, we dated for a while, after Violet left him. I helped him with Lucas. It was nice…really nice."

"So how did you guys spend Valentine's Day?"

"Stupidly," Addison sighed. "Things with Pete were really great for a while but, by the time Valentine's Day rolled around, he realized that he was still in love with Violet, and I was pining over Sam so, uh, Pete and I obviously broke up. And then I dated Sam and, well, you know how that turned out."

"I do," Jake nodded.

"Why did you want to know all this anyway?" Addison chuckled. "Most guys would never ask something like this. I wouldn't share this type of thing with most guys."

Jake smiled. "I know that most people think that Valentine's Day is just a cheesy, Hallmark holiday…but, to me, it's important. The people I've spent Valentine's Day with in the past are important people in my life. They helped make me who I am. I guess I just wanted to know more about who you are and the people who helped make you that way."

"Ah, the ghosts of Valentine's Day past," Addison chuckled.

"The ghosts of Valentine's Day past," Jake agreed.

"So what does that make you?" Addison teased. "My ghost of Valentine's Day present?"

Jake chuckled. "What does that make me?" he challenged.

"Let's see," Addison began thoughtfully. "That makes you a guy that I met at a supermarket…over pineapples. A guy, who I barely knew, but felt comfortable enough to drop everything and go to Fiji with."

"You never went," Jake cut in.

"But I thought about it," Addison insisted. "That's gotta count for something. Anyway, that makes you my coworker…my doctor…someone that I felt comfortable sharing things that I couldn't share with my boyfriend of over a year. Someone that I've felt comfortable sharing things that I couldn't share with anyone else. You know, it's actually kind of funny, since I met you, you've kind of been the most important person in my life."

Jake smiled. "Come on, Addison," he insisted. "You haven't known me very long. I think that last one's a bit of an exaggeration."

Addison shook her head. "Well, maybe not more important than Amelia," she conceded. "But Amelia's family. But, I don't know, you've helped me through some tough times. Sometimes it feels like you're the only person on my side. And I know it's not just because you're my doctor, and you have to be supportive, it's…I don't know, I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm really glad you asked me to spend Valentine's Day with you."

"I'm really glad you said yes," Jake said, smiling softly.

Addison met Jake's eyes and smiled, hesitating just a moment before leaning in and kissing him softly on the lips. He responded, but it wasn't a heated, passionate kiss – it was intimate and caring…it was just right.

"What was that for?" he asked, when they broke apart.

Addison smiled. "For being one of the most important people in my life, right now," she said softly.

"Well, I'll gladly drop down a spot next Valentine's Day," he smiled.

Addison looked at him quizzically. "Why? Do you think you're going to become a ghost of Valentine's Day past? Do you think I'll be dating someone else next year?"

Jake shrugged. "I don't know," he admitted. "I just meant that I'll be happy to drop down a spot when you get your baby."

Addison felt tears prick her eyes. "I, uh, I," she choked out, overcome by emotion.

"Addison, it's gonna happen for you," Jake said softly.

"You think so?" Addison asked hesitantly. "By next Valentine's Day? You really think so?"

"I know so," Jake smiled, taking her hand and rubbing it reassuringly.

"Thank you," Addison whispered before leaning in and kissing him again. "Thank you so much."

She closed the remaining space between them on the couch, and leaned into his chest; and he wrapped his arms around her, pulling her in closer. And even though Addison no longer believed in making plans, in that moment, she could see herself waking up next to Jake every morning; she could picture herself reading medical journals in bed with him before falling asleep in his arms at night; she could see them going to ballet recitals or little league games or parent-teacher conferences together. She could see him as the man of her Valentine's Day future.