A/N Just something that won't leave me alone
Jackson Avery could hardly believe that in just a few short hours he would be heading to Tulane to start a new job and a new life. After everything that had happened on the day of that plane crash Tulane had graciously offered to hold his job for a few months which Jackson had been greatful for. It was hard to think of leaving Seattle after the plane crash that had robbed his ex-girlfriend of life.
Privately Jackson was worried about his mentor. Mark Sloan was a mess even three months later. Jackson had mainly stayed to help him out, if anyone knew that was the real reason, they would question it because they doubted that Mark was close to any other man aside from Derek. Mark had no one. Callie was busy with Arizona's extensive recovery and caring for a one year old. Derek was trying to pull Meredith out of the tequila glass and remind her that she still had Zola who needed her mom.
Mark wasn't sure how he was going to do this. How was he going to say goodbye to Jackson Avery? The guy had pulled him out of a funk so many times over the past three months. He was a good guy and Mark didn't want to think about what would happen once he left. Of course Mark had Sofia. She was the one bright spot in his life right now. Yes he knew that Lexie wouldn't want him to do this to himself but he couldn't get himself out of it. Jackson was the only one who could and he was leaving.
"Hey, how are you doing?" Callie's voice came into the room. As much as Mark loved this woman who happened to be his best friend, he was annoyed at her intrusion.
"How is it even possible that he's not even gone yet and I miss him?" Mark asked. That alone was enough to confirm Callie's suspicions. She had suspected for awhile that Mark was attracted to Jackson but she had yet to have any actual proof. Mark's words were proof enough for her. She doubted he had even really acknowledged his feelings for the younger man.
"Have you ever considered the possibility that you may have feelings for him?" Callie asked gently. She knew that he had loved Lexie and had been wracked with grief when she had died. She also knew that Lexie wouldn't want him to mope around. She wouldn't want him to shut him off from the possibility of future love.
"You're out of your mind Callie." Mark told her flatly. He was not gay. He wasn't. If he was gay he would have known it long ago.
"Am I? Am I really Mark? Don't you think I dealt with the same thing when I realized I was attracted to Erica?" Callie demanded. Mark had been the one to push her in Erica's direction four years ago. Sure that hadn't turned out well, but at least that had led her to Arizona who was Callie's equal in every way.
"I'm not…I'm not interested in Jackson Avery." Mark told her without looking her in the eye. He wouldn't admit it but maybe she had a point, There was no other reason why he was dreading watching Jackson Avery leave him…no leave the hospital.
"Say that when you are looking me in the eye." Callie told him. She was not fooled one bit by him. She knew how he felt about Jackson. Probably because she had been in his exact place four years ago. Mark froze, knowing that he could not lie to Callie. Callie was his best friend and the mother of his child. She always knew when he was lying even when he tried to fool her.
"I can't." Mark whispered. Facing this was even harder in the wake of it being just three months after losing Lexie. He kept losing everyone who he loved. Maybe that was why he was in denial about his feelings for Jackson.
"You are attracted to him." Callie confirmed. She could tell that Mark was confused and scared and lost. Callie remembered those feelings all too well and she sympathized with him.
"I…I don't know." Mark admitted.
"Does the idea of watching him head off to Tulane make you ill?" Callie asked. She knew the answer to this question would tell her exactly how strong Mark's feelings for Jackson were.
"Yes. I can't watch him go. I picture it and I want to vomit." Mark admitted. His voice was growing softer and softer with each confession. He was afraid the next question Callie would ask him would be about how long he had had feelings for Jackson Avery.
"You have to tell him. Mark you can't let him go to Tulane without knowing that you are attracted to him." Callie told him.
"No I'm not going to complicate his life. He stayed here to help me and I will not hold him back anymore." Mark told her. He was firm on this. Jackson had been a wonderful person to him over the past three months, even putting his own life on hold and Mark would not let him do that anymore.
"You aren't just attracted to him are you Mark? You're in love with him." Callie realized suddenly. It had hit her like a freight train as she listened to him talk about he wouldn't let Jackson sacrifice his life.
"No…No…No." Mark kept repeating the word "no " but Callie suspected that he was trying to talk himself out of loving Jackson.
"Mark its me. You can be honest with me. I'm not going to judge you. I fell in love with a woman after decades of dating and sleeping with men." Callie pointed out.
"I can't…" Mark murmured. He wasn't even sure what he was trying to say. He just knew that he couldn't ask Jackson to stay here. Not for him.
"I know." Callie told him as she laid a hand on his shoulder. She needed to go speak to Jackson. She needed to know if there was any interest on his part or if Mark was about to be left alone and desolate again.
"Don't go bug Jackson Callie. Please…just don't." Mark told her. He knew exactly what she was thinking and he really didn't want her to go fishing for information.
"Someone has to. You deserve to be happy and if Jackson can give you that happy ending that three months ago you were sure you'd never get, then damn it he has to know." Callie insisted firmly.
Mark didn't want to think about it. If Jackson was just going to reject him, he didn't want to know. Instead of trying to put up an argument, Mark just sighed. He knew that Callie would get her way. That woman was tenacious and boy did that drive Mark absolutely insane. Callie didn't know when to just leave things alone. Callie was surprised that Mark didn't try to put up any more roadblocks to her plans. He looked defeated. She wasn't sure if it was because of her or because he had confessed what Callie had long suspected.
She left Mark and went in search of Jackson. She didn't know what was going to come of this but she did know that Jackson had to know. He had to know before he got in any car or any plane to head off to his new life.
She didn't know Jackson as well as she knew Mark so she wasn't sure if she was going to be breaking bad news to Mark in a little while. She prayed she wouldn't be. Her best friend and Sofia's father had had so much crap thrown at him lately. He needed something good to happen. He needed a happy ending and Callie hoped and prayed that he would be getting just that with Jackson Avery.
She found Jackson sitting in one of the on call rooms. He looked a mess and Callie wasn't sure why. She knew that look on Jackson's face. His expression was tortured. Like leaving here was torture for him. Callie hoped that the reason for the tortured expression was Jackson's reluctance to leave a certain mentor of his. Maybe that would give her the opening that Callie needed.
"Hi Avery." Callie greeted him as she closed the on call room door behind her. She didn't want their conversation to be interrupted. So she made sure that the door was locked.
"What do you want Torres?" Jackson asked rudely. He instantly felt bad for being rude. It wasn't her fault that he was heading off to Tulane when his heart wasn't truly in it anymore.
"Sorry." Jackson added quickly. Callie Torres was not really a friend of his but he had the utmost respect for her and for the work that she did.
"When does the car arrive to take you to the airport?" Callie asked after waving off his apology. She knew how stressful making big changes like this could be on a person.
"An hour." Jackson mumbled. He had already said goodbye to everyone except for one person. The goodbyes with April had been hard and awkward. With Lexie gone, April was able to have a spot at Seattle Grace-Mercy West to finish her residency and hopefully pass the boards the next time around.
Jackson hadn't been able to make himself say goodbye to Mark. It was hard to even think about saying goodbye to his mentor. Jackson was sure it wasn't supposed to be this hard. Mark was a friend. A good friend who had helped Jackson out immensely when Jackson had needed it. Why then did the idea of leaving Mark make him want to call up Tulane and rescind his acceptance of the position that they had offered him?
Surely it couldn't be because of Mark? Mark was a friend and a good one at that but Jackson wouldn't feel like this if they were just friends. Jackson had been dealing with these conflicting feelings for weeks but now that the day was here, the uncertainty was too much for him. He couldn't look at Mark before he left. If he did he knew he wouldn't be able to leave him. Finally last night as he lay in bed he had been able to whisper the three words that he had been so terrified to voice before. I love him.
"You are having second thoughts, aren't you?" Callie asked. She could tell by the look on his face that his heart wasn't in it. It may have been at one time but it definitely wasn't now.
"Yes. There's someone here that I don't think I can leave." Jackson admitted, his voice at a low whisper. He was so relieved that he was able to say it. The reason he didn't want that job at Tulane anymore was because he was in love with Mark. The idea of leaving Mark caused a knot to form in his stomach.
"April?" Callie guessed. God she was hoping that she was wrong. She had nothing against April but she didn't want Mark to be brokenhearted again. He had gone through so much. Particularly in the last five years. Callie knew that he wanted to be the only one that someone thought about. Callie also knew that he really deserved to have that. She was surprised that Jackson confessed so easily. Callie hoped that this would make her job that much easier.
"God no. Not April." Jackson told her. He wasn't sure if he wanted to tell Callie. Callie was Mark's best friend and if Callie knew then that would mean that she would probably tell Mark. Then Mark would laugh at him. Jackson couldn't go through that.
"Who Jackson?" Calie prodded.
"I can't… I just can't." Jackson told Callie apologetically.
"You can tell me anything. I won't breathe a word of it unless you tell me that I can." Callie encouraged him gently. She could tell that he really wanted to let it out but something was stopping him.
Jackson wasn't sure if telling her would be a good idea but he trusted her and he knew that she could keep a secret. He needed to tell someone…anyone how he felt. His voice was barely a whisper when he finally uttered a name.
Callie had been hoping to hear Mark's name pass Jackson's lips. Even so she was still surprised that it had happened. Jackson could barely look at her and Callie was trying to figure out what to say. She knew that she couldn't be the one to tell Jackson how Mark felt about him. She wanted Jackson to hear it from Mark.
"You need to tell him." Callie insisted.
"I can't. He doesn't feel the same way and I'll be damned if I make a fool of myself." Jackson told Callie.
"Are you in love with him?" Callie asked. She needed to know how serious Jackson's feelings for Mark were.
"Yes." Again Jackson's voice was barely a whisper. The very idea of telling Mark scared him. He didn't want to be rejected by the older man who was definitely not gay.
"Then you need to tell him before you go to Tulane." Callie insisted again.
"I can't… Mark is not gay. He's quite the opposite actually." Jackson pointed out. Callie was already shaking her head. Okay so the confession part hadn't been hard but trying to get Jackson to tell Mark was ridiculously hard.
"What's the worst that could happen?" Callie asked.
Jackson raised an eyebrow at her. He couldn't believe she was asking him this. The worst thing that could happen would be Mark rejecting him. Jackson wasn't sure he could deal with that.
"He could reject me." Jackson pointed out.
"And then you won't spend the rest of your life wondering. You'll have the answer." Callie pointed out. Jackson knew that she was probably right but the idea of actually telling Mark, made his stomach do flip-flops. He didn't want to get rejected by Mark. Maybe if he got rejected he would be able to go to Tulane without feeling like he was leaving unfinished business in Seattle.
"Okay." Jackson whispered. He hated to admit it but Callie was right.
Meanwhile Mark was still in the conference room where Callie had left him. He was bracing himself for bad news. He had drawn the blinds and hoped that Callie would return soon. Good or bad he had to know how Jackson felt about him. He had only truly loved two people in his life. Lexie and Jackson. He had already lost Lexie and the possibility of losing Jackson too made him sick.
He heard a doorknob turn and he turned around just in time to see Jackson come through the door wearing a nervous smile. Callie had offered to come into the room first but Jackson had insisted that this was something he had to do on his own. Mark looked at him and instantly he knew. He knew that Jackson was feeling the same things that he was feeling. Yes he was scared shitless, but he was also hopeful. God he hoped that Jackson and he could make this work.
"Tell me to call Tulane right now and rescind my acceptance and I will. Tell me you want me to stay here with you." Jackson said softly as he made his way over to where Mark was standing. He reached for Mark's hand and he smiled when Mark immediately accepted it.
"I can't ask you to turn down an opportunity like that." Mark told him as he looked at their hands with a small smile crossing his lips. His throat was dry as he envisioned Jackson leaving him. He was trying to do the noble thing here. He was trying to give Jackson an out just in case Jackson was only pitying him.
"You didn't ask. I offered." Jackson pointed out. Jackson would do anything for Mark. If Mark told Jackson that he could find a job at Tulane so they could both go, Jackson would have agreed and they both would be making the big move. Jackson knew that Mark wouldn't go with him though. He had Sofia and no way would Jackson make Mark choose between him and Sofia because Jackson knew that he would lose.
"Call them. Call them and rescind your acceptance." Mark told him quietly. If Jackson was willing to give up such an amazing opportunity to be with Mark, Mark wasn't going to try and talk him out of it. After all he didn't want to have to watch the man he loved leave Seattle.
"You want me here." Jackson murmured with a small smile.
"I want you here. With me." Mark confirmed. He could hardly believe that Jackson would be staying in Seattle with him.
Jackson could hardly believe that Mark felt the same way as he did. A huge weight instantly lifted off of Jackson's shoulders. He would be staying here in Seattle with the man that he loved. He was greatful that Callie had insisted he tell Mark. He didn't want to think about what could have happened if he had gone to Tulane and never knew that Mark felt the same.
"I love you." Jackson admitted softly. Being able to say that felt so good to him. He had struggled so hard with realizing that he was in love with another man.
"I love you too." Mark admitted. He had to smile at the irony of it all. They had both dated Lexie and now that she was dead, they had realized they were in love with one another. That was truly crazy.
"How long?" Jackson asked curiously.
"I don't know. I only know that I tried to deny it for so long…too long." Mark admitted. He was ashamed that he had tried to deny it for so long. Being gay wasn't a bad thing.
"I think a part of me knew since before my boards but I was too afraid to admit it. Last night was the first time I actually said those words." Jackson confessed.
"Are you sure you want this, want us? I don't want you to do this if you aren't all in." Mark spoke softly, his slate colored eyes never leaving Jackson's intense blue eyes. He was still afraid that this was all a dream and he was going to wake up any minute lying in his bed, alone.
"I'm all in. This is what I want. I want you and me together for as long as you'll have me." Jackson reassured him as he reached for Mark's other hand. He wanted to kiss the older doctor but there was no way that Jackson was bold enough to do that. He would let Mark take the lead on this one. Smiling, Mark took Jackson's other hand. It felt so different holding a man's hand. Good different. Amazing different. Mark was having a hard time believing that he was actually holding Jackson Avery's hand. Never in a million years would he have expected this to happen.
"I'll have you forever Jackson Avery." Mark told him quietly. Mark had never kissed a guy before but he wanted to kiss Jackson right now. He wanted to feel the younger man's lips on his. He didn't want to rush things though. If they were going to last things had to be different.
"Dammit Mark. Kiss me." Jackson finally told him after several minutes of comfortable silence between them. He was growing impatient. He was hoping that Mark wasn't having second thoughts about him…or them. Not now. Not after he had poured out his heart to the older doctor. Mark chuckled at the younger man's impatience. Yes Mark wanted this to work, but unfortunately right now, he wanted to forget his initial vow and kiss Jackson Avery senseless.
"Impatient are we?" Teased Mark with a smirk crossing his lips. Jackson wasn't sure he could wait much longer. Mark's teasing was only making him look sexier to Jackson.
"Mark, I want this. So do you. So why the hell are you not kissing me?" Jackson demanded. He was trying not to sound like a desperate, needy person but Mark was teasing him and it was driving him crazy. Mark knew that his initial vow to wait on the kissing part was going to be broken. Without even thinking about it, he leaned in and kissed Jackson.
Jackson couldn't ever remember a kiss being this intense. Feeling Mark's lips against his was enough to make him woozy. When Mark finally pulled away, they were both breathless. Jackson wanted to go in for another one but he knew that they could get into real trouble, here in this conference room.
"I…I should make that call." Jackson finally murmured breathlessly.
"Yes you should. After that call I fully intend to kiss you again and again." Mark informed Jackson with a smile.
While Jackson was making that phone call, Mark was never far from his body. He kept at least one hand on Jackson's body during the entire conversation that involved someone who was pretty damn angry at Jackson for doing this so last minute. When Jackson hung up the phone, he sighed a heavy sigh.
"Well I'm pretty sure I ruined any chance of ever being able to go to Tulane again." Jackson told Mark with a slight frown on his face. He knew he had made the right decision but he did wish he hadn't left Tulane in the lurch like that.
"You won't need Tulane." Mark told him with a quick kiss to his lips. Jackson smiled at the ease in which Mark kissed him. He had been afraid that things would be awkward at first. They had shifted so quickly from friends to…well a couple. Jackson was reluctant to put a label on things because they had just gotten together.
"So, um how exactly are going to do this…us?" Jackson asked. He didn't want to make a big deal about it but he also didn't want people whispering behind their backs.
"Well I was planning on walking out of this room holding your hand for everyone to see. Unless you have an objection to that?" Mark told Jackson. Mark figured there was no reason to sneak around. Yes it would be a surprise but they were two consenting adults who had fallen in love with each other.
"No…I mean if that's how you think we should do it, then let's do it." Jackson told him. He was definitely hesitant. He didn't have that confidence that Mark had.
"If you don't want people to know…" Mark trailed off knowing that Jackson would know exactly what he was trying to say.
"No,I don't care if the world knows." Jackson assured Mark.
"Good." Mark said with a smile. There was no way he would have been able to hide his feelings for Jackson anymore. It was different when he didn't know if Jackson felt the same. Now that they were going to give this thing between them a shot, Mark saw no reason to hide how they felt about each other.
Mark took Jackson's hand again and gently pulled him towards the door. Mark was done hiding. He knew there would be people who didn't approve. They knew there would be people who would question Mark's intentions especially so soon after losing Lexie but it didn't matter. All that mattered was that Jackson Avery loved him and wanted to be with him.
Jackson was still anxious, but he was proud of Mark for being so ready and willing to going on out there and slap people in the face with this new and unexpected relationship. Taking a deep breath, Jackson and Mark stepped out of the conference room. Mark's left hand holding Jackson's right hand. They were ready to deal with whatever life threw at them. They knew that together they could deal with anything life threw at them.