Author's Note: So I've been trying very hard not to write this fic since the season finale aired in May. I knew that I didn't want to do the whole fluff thing, this time, and that I wanted to stay true to the plot, but damn, did this plot make it hard to stay true to. So I didn't want to write it. I wanted to pretend it had never happened. But then, you know, this popped out. I've been AWOL for over a year now, and from GA fic since, what, 2010? Maybe closer to 2009? This year has been crazy busy, but excuses suck, so, I'm just sorry. But I hope you guys enjoy this little snippet-angsty, I apologize-and I'll try my best to get back to properly writing soon.
He lays in a hospital bed and wishes he could die.
The helicopter had dropped them off here, back in Seattle, the day prior and he had been appropriately unconscious at the time, so he couldn't protest the universe trying to save his life. "Straight into surgery," Altman had said when he woke up, and she put one hand on his, pressed gently for a second, and was gone.
No one had visited him, post-surgery. Who would? Derek and Meredith had each other to worry about, with broken hands and bad shoulders or whatever. Callie was probably freaking out over Arizona, probably going between checking in on her surgery and checking in on Sophia. Hunt had enough to worry about. He'd probably forgotten to call Julia. And Lexie…
If he was feeling generous (he is not), he could say that Altman had visited him, he supposes. She is his doctor, so it could hardly be called a "visit," but she'd swung by to check his vitals, told him she was leaving. "One last surgery," she'd said, and her eyes had been so full of pity that he hadn't said a word. What was there to say?
"I'm sorry," Callie finally says when she remembers to come visit him. Her eyes have the same wild, hysterical look they did after the shooting, and he thinks about grabbing her hand but that seems to take him too much effort so he drops the idea.
He's not entirely sure what she's sorry about. Not visiting? Or his loss? He doesn't want to talk about that. It's been two days since he last spoke so he clears his throat, murmurs sleepily, "Arizona?" And then: "Sophia?"
"Arizona is going to be okay. She just got out of surgery. And Sophia is with Bailey and Ben for the weekend." She pulls up a chair, sits next to him and gently strokes his hair. If he closes his eyes, it's like it's not Callie stroking his hair at all. He keeps them open. "How are you feeling?"
He very carefully doesn't respond. She's not looking for a real answer, anyway.
It takes her a long time to think of something to say, after that. Callie knows very little of personal death. She isn't Cristina or Derek, with their dead dads, or Arizona, with her dead brother and soon-to-be-dead best friend, or Meredith and her dead mother, or Hunt and Altman and their myriad of dead friends. George hadn't been her husband for a long time before he'd died, and even then, there was sorrow but there was still the anger so her sadness came and went quickly. When she can't think of anything good to say, all she decides upon is, "I'm sorry about Lexie."
Ah.He nods, doesn't cry. He is happy in silence, in his own thoughts and his own world, but she is not, so when another creeps up, he sighs and says, "Go see your wife, Torres."
Julia is finally called somewhere around Day Three. He suspects that Derek had specifically requested that she not be called, out of some sort of respect and uncertainty about Mark's feelings for her. When she does come in, however, she is livid.
"I am your girlfriend!" she says, after she glances at his chart and does a quick check of her own. "This whole damn hospital knows that-gossip here is like high school all over again-and they can't even remember to call me!" It's her turn to pull up a chair, and she brings it as close as possible to his bed, puts a hand against his face like she suddenly remembers how close to death he was. Her voice softens to a whisper. "How are you feeling?"
He grunts out a small, "Shitty."
She laughs then, a worried, stifled laugh that come out almost like a sob. She's searching for something to say, but all she comes up with is, "I'm surprised it's not all over the news yet."
"Press doesn't know." Then: "Hunt's good for something."
She nods. They sit in silence for a while, her hand against his cheek, until finally she offers, her voice almost like a whisper, "Chief Hunt also, um, told me that… You guys lost one out in the field."
"It wasn't Derek, was it? Or—No, it can't have been Arizona or Callie, right?"
He has been very careful not to talk about this with his visitors in the last few days, with Derek after his surgery or with Meredith after hers, or even with Hunt, when he came in with a trail of police officers looking for a full report. So all he says is, "No. None of them."
She nods, detects his unwillingness to talk about it, and they sit in silence for a while. It's apparently his modus operandi. After a few minutes, she leaves the room with a kiss to his forehead, and when she comes back, she settles into the same position, her hand against his face. Her giggles break the silence, but her eyes- He stops looking at them.
"She hit me in the boob with a softball once." And then: "I didn't want to like her, but I did anyway."
He's pretty sure that Julia is the only person left who thinks of him first, not after their spouses or their best friends or their kids. He is, at best, third on everyone else's—even Derek and Callie, his best friends, have spouses and kids to think of before he even crosses their minds. So he doesn't want to screw this up, this feeling of being someone's number one for what will surely be the last time. So he gives her the weakest imitation of a chuckle he can offer, because at least she's trying. But he still doesn't want to talk.
It takes a while for Meredith to end up in his room, but sometime after the sixth day of him laying in a hospital bed, placating Julia with chuckles and small flirtations, she does. He's not really sure why. They don't talk much, not since the whole Dirty Mistresses thing.
So she just kind of stands in his doorway and doesn't talk for a while. He doesn't know what to do with that. Everyone else is supposed to do to the talking. And no one is supposed to be as comfortable as he is with the silence.
He breaks, though. "Why are you here, Meredith?"
She has this solemn, uncertain look on her face, like maybe she's been planning to come for a while. She doesn't say that, though; instead, she just says, "Derek wanted someone to check up on you."
"Julia's been giving him full reports."
"Yeah. They're discharging you tomorrow." He knows, of course. He's not in any literal pain anymore. He can talk. He could walk, if he wanted to, but he doesn't. After a moment's hesitation, she adds: "Should they be discharging you into Psych?"
That gets him awake. "What?"
"Are you, you know, suicidal? You can tell me, you know. I've—well, almost been there."
He doesn't want to talk about that, so he just says: "I'm not going to off myself, Grey." And then: "Why are you really here?"
Meredith shuffles her feet a bit, moves a little more into the room. She spends a lot of time checking out her hands and feet before she finally responds. "You, uh. You're the only one who knew her properly. I mean, you and George and maybe Jackson or April, but— You."
He still doesn't want to talk about Lexie. He doesn't ever want to talk about Lexie. "Yeah."
In a manner that makes him blink back tears, it's so like Lexie, Meredith babbles on. "I didn't want to know her, and then I did, and I have people and my own home-made family but she was the only real family I had, so. Um. I didn't get to know her like she deserved, and I should have. And I wasn't there when she died. And I should have been. She should have had family there."
He wants to say, "She did," so badly it makes his chest ache, but while it's so close to the truth it's not, so he just shakes his head. "She told me to tell you that you were a good sister."
Meredith's face screws up then, not like she's going to cry but like she's trying not to, and she lets out a sharp breath from her nose before turning on her heel and walking out. He suspects that she's been instructed not to upset him.
It's the last thing he says, anyway, until they discharge him.
Julia comes to pick him up with a bright smile on her face and he feels the same thing for her that he did before the plane crash: almost-love. Like with Addison, in the months leading up to their affair, or with Lexie, when she walked into his apartment and demanded that he teach her. If none of this had happened, he could have seen forever with Julia, but he can't really see forever with anyone anymore.
"Callie and Arizona had this huge thing planned for when you came home," she says on the drive over, "but they found the cerebral hemorrhage in Arizona so she's back in for surgery today. But, on the plus side, we get to watch Sophia for the night, and you can rest and have a nice long bath, or something."
He nods complacently. What else is there to say? He misses the silence of the hospital.
She waits until he's in the apartment and laying on the couch, smiling at Sophia crawling across his chest, before saying something. And she just kind of blurts it out: "I thought about just dropping you off here and leaving and coming back when you're better." When he doesn't say anything, she powers on: "I'm bad with trauma. I'm an eye doctor; we don't see a lot of deaths. And I don't know what to say to you, because what can the girlfriend say to the man who just lost a woman he probably still loves?" She hiccups out a laugh. "Not much. It's awkward. But I spoke to someone today—a therapist—who gave me some tips, if you want to talk about it, or his number, if you want to talk to him about it."
He's silent for a long time, and he's almost sick of his own ongoing silence, so he finally says something of significance. "My girlfriend aborted my baby eight years ago." Julia cocks her head to the side and listens. "So I paint this picture in my head of what my life is going to look like, and it disappears. And then I finally got the kid, and she runs off and puts her kid up for adoption, which was the right thing to do, but I lost them both in one afternoon. And then I actually do get the kid, and she's mine, but I'm one parent of three and I'm not anybody's first, anymore. Not the first person anybody goes to." He sighs, a long, drawn out breath that makes Sophia giggle. "I'm sick of losing things."
I have everything I always wanted.
Derek and Meredith and Zola swing by the apartment uninvited one evening. Zola claps her hands and giggles at his beard and runs her hands along it. He smiles at her, but gives the other two visitors wary eyes.
"Just so we're clear, Meredith made me do this," Derek says by way of greeting, and then announces, "We think that you and Julia—"
"—should break up," Meredith interrupts. "Clearly you're still in love with Lexie, and it's not fair to Julia."
He sits up a little bit, leans his back against the couch. "She can leave if she wants to." He doesn't say that she's kind enough to stay with him while he mourns another woman.
Derek opens his mouth to reply, but Meredith interrupts him again. "She can, but she doesn't strike me as the type willing to dump a guy after he gets in a plane crash and almost dies. So you have to let her go."
"Can't," he groans, as he lifts Zola up off the floor and onto his lap. He tickles her feet, and she swings her arms back, elated, as she bursts out into giggles.
He shrugs. "She's the only one left who needs me."
She doesn't, though.
He winds up in a therapist's office a week later. This is not his first foray into therapy—this might actually be his seventh therapist—so he has long since come to the conclusion that answering questions is the best way to get out of there quickly.
"What are you feeling, Mark?" Dr. Jacobson asks.
The doctor laughs at that, nods his head. "Fair enough. Fine, alright, we'll go with some tough questions. Why are you sad?"
"Because I was in a plane crash. Because someone I know died. Because I had a major heart issue and almost died out in the forest." There are some stupid therapists, but he strongly suspects that this one is the stupidest.
The man writes something down in his notebook, nods again. "Who died?"
He has been outrageously successful at not talking about Lexie, and he does not want to start now. "Doctor Alexandra Grey," is all he says, because nothing is more impersonal than that.
"Lexie, is what my notes say here."
"Did you know her well?"
He shrugs. He thinks about saying, "She was a coworker," but calling her 'Alexandra' had felt disrespectful enough and god, his heart hurt. So he nods.
He walks out a half hour later and does not come back.
It takes a long time, but he winds up pounding on Arizona and Callie's door at 3:00 in the morning the Tuesday before his is supposed to return to work. A bleary-eyed Arizona opens the door with a yawn.
He has been awake all night, not thinking about his therapist and not thinking about his friends and not thinking about Julia, just as he has done for weeks now. He can't sleep, because when he closes his eyes the plane goes down and he watches the love of his life die over and over again.
Callie comes storming around the corner, hair mussed, and although she looks angry at first her face softens when she sees who it is. "What's up?" she and Arizona say in unison and it would be outrageously weird if it wasn't them.
They let him in, and Arizona puts on the coffee as Callie sits him down on the couch. Her eyes keep twitching back to his beard. He suspects that she is making caveman comparisons.
Finally, the words just kind of burst out of him. "What are you supposed to do if the person you're meant to be with isn't around anymore?" It comes out as something of a roar. Callie, who doesn't know death, looks taken aback; Arizona walks back from the kitchen and sits down next to him, in an almost delicate manner. She puts a hand on his shoulder and forces him to look at her.
"You're supposed to keep going," she says, in that soft voice of hers.
"But Lexie and I were meant to be."
"Maybe," Callie pipes up from his other side.
He balls his hands into fists, and tries very hard not to cry. "We wasted a lot of time, pretending to not love each other. All the time we had left."
"You did." Arizona's voice is calm, and despite whatever has happened with them, he's glad that she's around because, while she doesn't stop the anger, she does keep it from getting out of control.
"But I've always loved her, and I'm always going to, and what the hell am I supposed to do with that? She was supposed to be the person who checked up on me first. She was supposed to the mother of my children. She was supposed to be... Something. What the hell am I supposed to do now?"
Arizona came back into the mix. "You're supposed to be a surgeon. And a dad to Sophia. And you're supposed to move on."
He doesn't say it, just looks at his hands while the tears roll down, but he thinks, How does he move on from someone with no role in his life? She wasn't his girlfriend. She wasn't even really his friend.
It just makes him cry harder.
When he finally winds up back at the hospital as a surgeon again, Avery pats him on the back in sympathy. "She loved you," he says. "A lot." The jealousy is gone.
He nods his thank you and slaps Avery on the back. "I hear you're with Kepner, now. Congrats on getting laid again." When Avery doesn't react, he adds, "Hopefully that'll help with the stick in your ass."
He, on the other hand, is very purposefully not getting laid. He hasn't called Julia back since his encounter with Meredith and Derek, hasn't gone to the bar, hasn't flirted with nurses or the new interns. Hasn't.
Avery laughs awkwardly and eventually increases his pace so he doesn't have to walk with him anymore. That's okay. He goes to find Derek in the Attendings' Lounge and sits.
Derek is sitting at the desk but he shuts off the computer and stands. "Welcome ba-" he gets out, before he is interrupted.
"I'm gonna be okay," he says. "She made me better." Then: "I'm gonna be better." He will not be the first person anyone goes to, but. He might move on, might get the chance to be.
Derek looks at him, cocks his head to the side and gives him the smallest smile. "We've all grieving, you know. Zola comes home and asks for Aunt Lexie. Meredith still can't clean out her room. I miss my most promising resident, and my favourite of all my little sisters." He shrugs. "But we move on. We adapt. We learn. And… we grieve." And then, like Derek is telling him a secret, he leans toward him. "You're not as alone as you think you are."
He's missed this. Non-silence. Talking. And hearing someone call her "Lexie" doesn't make him want to punch a wall. He walks over to the fridge, pulls out a bottle of whiskey and pours both himself and Derek a glass. "Here's hoping that there's an afterlife," he says, clinking his glass with Derek's. Maybe not the love of his life, but maybe the love of their death. Or something romantic like that.
"The great Elevator in the Sky," Derek adds.
And then: "To Lexie."
They both drink.
Mark Sloan does not wish he could die, but he does wish she hadn't.