Hope Is The Thing With Feathers
Disclaimer: I don't own Grey's Anatomy or every other character connected to the series. They belong to Shonda Rhymes and her fellow writers, I'm just borrowing them. No copyright infringment.
Okay, I did it. I did my own hiatus story. I'm always publishing towards the finish line, but I hope it will be worth it.
There's no song in this one, just the chapter number. It's a first too, because not even the title is from a song but it's the first line of an Emily Dickinson's poem.
I hope you will like my take on this, enjoy!
"Boise Memorial Hospital, secretary of the Chief of Surgery speaking"
The friendly voice on the other end of the phone didn't make Owen Hunt feel any less nervous about the call he was making.
"Yes, this is Dr. Hunt speaking"
"Dr. Sheenan will talk to you in a moment"
Hunt started fidgeting with the pen in his hands, replaying the moment he had fired Teddy in his head all the while being incredibly concerned for the well-being of his wife and the other five surgeons with her.
Something didn't feel quite right.
"Dr. Hunt, finally" a slightly irritated voice picked up "Your surgeons never showed up today, did something happen?"
"What?" Owen was shocked for a moment, his throat dried up as he processed the words.
"You said you'd fly out a team for the conjoined twins but nobody came. The newborns were ready and now I have a very upset family to deal with."
"I sent the team out Dr. Sheenan" his voice was grave, low and the other Chief caught up with his concern immediately. "Let me call you back"
Owen snapped the phone shut, then started pacing in the room, clutching at his phone.
He called both his head of Plastics and Neurosurgery but both their cellphones went to voicemail, just like the ones of Arizona Robbins and the rest of the team.
He didn't like this one bit.
He called then the team at SeaTac, the ones that had checked up the plane, and they confirmed the departure of the jet.
But, they never made it to Boise Airport.
His blood froze in his veins, his hands were shaking and he had no idea how to go from there. It just couldn't be happening.
Richard lowered his champagne glass filled with sparkling water and stared at his group of students. They were about to go out in the world and make a name out of themselves after his hospital had raised them.
Karev well, he felt a special connection with him, just because he had seen him from the beginning, scolded him from his very first day and guided him to make the right choices, but even the other two, acquired from Mercy West, had became a pretty nice asset to Grace.
He couldn't toast to the future without Yang and Meredith there though. The first was a force of nature, she had been through a lot and came out stronger and softer all at the same time; the other was like the daughter he never allowed himself to have, another reason why he had trouble to refer to her as Dr. Grey.
"Dr. Webber, should we start eating?" Kepner inquired, the gaze of the other two men wondering too about the same thing as the night stretched and the people around them neared dessert.
Before he could answer, his phone rang and he frowned at the ID: Hunt.
"This is Dr. Webber" he said confidently.
"I...The plane never landed" the man blurted and Richard's face fell.
"What?" he asked again, wishing he had heard wrong.
"Boise Memorial called to tell me that nobody arrived there, I called the airport and the plane never landed" Hunt said with a edge of panic in his voice "I don't...My wife is on that plane, Richard"
Webber knew that in that state of mind, he couldn't be helpful for the hospital. He remembered when a bomb had detonated inside Grace and it wasn't an easy situation to deal with.
"We'll deal with this together" he said, closing his eyes to gather his thoughts "I'll be right there" because he had a promise to keep to Ellis and two of his very first batch of students were on that plane.
He clicked the phone shut and the former residents sitting with him seemed almost relieved. He had to crash their joy immediately.
"Is it something surgical?" Alex piped up, like the perfect surgery-hungry intern he had been seven years prior.
"The plane with Yang and Grey never made it to Boise" he said simply, the screeching of his chair as he moved back seemed to echo in the buzzing restaurant.
Kepner's eyes glazed over and her breath caught in her throat, Avery's wide-eyed stare to him seemed disbelieved and Karev's jaw clenched, then he swallowed and mumbled "I should have been on that plane" before he stood up next to Richard.
"I'm going back in to help Hunt, this dinner is rescheduled" Richard said simply, but the other three followed him.
It was rare to see a group of residents -or interns- bond so fondly with each other. Usually it was just a competition, who was weaker fell and who could fight off more people, hunt more surgeries, became the Gunther. This batch of people was different. That's why they were destined to greatness.
If they made it out alive from all the troubles they could get themselves into.
"I called Boise Memorial and told them that they won't be arriving anytime soon, called the cops and the airport. They're tracking down the last time the plane appeared on a radar, it might take a while"
Hunt spoke to a room full of his attendings, in the front row sat Miranda Bailey and Ben, their hands clasped tightly as they scarily looked at the speaker. Next to them Callie Torres was shell-shocked, her eyes staring to a blank point behind Bailey's head. Nelson sat at the end of the table, wondering what on earth Derek Shepherd had done wrong to get hit by a bullet and lost on a plane in less than a three year span. On their feet behind the attendings, the three residents, still dressed up for a party, listened carefully to every word coming out of the Chief's mouth wishing they could have had the duck instead.
It was surreal, like everything still had to sink in and nothing seemed to be in the right place anymore.
"Police are doing their job. The airports are doing their job. We should go back to ours" Hunt concluded, fighting a lump in his throat.
"I want to help find them" Bailey spoke up, standing on her feet.
"And what, go out with a jeep in the woods to look for the burned bodies or wish on a shooting star? It's cold and dark and they're probably dead by now. Oh God" Callie's breath caught in her throat and they all turned to her, eyes wide.
Hunt felt the same, but he couldn't show it. He couldn't break. He had to be strong for this people and this hospital. He couldn't break.
"My baby won't have a father and a mother anymore. Oh God!" she sobbed freely then, before standing up and pointing an accusing finger at Alex "You had to be on that plane, Karev, you!"
"I wish I was" was the man's answer when she crumbled back on the seat, one of his hands going comfortingly on her shoulder, squeezing it.
"Life indeed changes in an instant" Avery commented in a low voice, receiving the glare of the other two residents while the room slipped in a mournful silence.
Hoot hoot, hoot hoot
"Oh God what's that sound?" a scared Arizona mumbled, before a coughing fit.
Hoot hoot, hoot hoot
"An animal or something" Cristina replied tiredly
"Owl" Derek mumbled, groaning a little as he tried to sit up
"There could be bears out there or wolves or..."
"No" Cristina replied firmly "We can't think like that okay? We're gonna keep it together and stay calm. Owen sent help, I know."
Arizona opened her mouth to reply, but she was cut off by Mark, groaning something.
"What is it?"
"Tired" he said in a small voice
"You have to stay conscious Mark" she added a small plea in her voice
"Sloan stay up!" Cristina ordered making Meredith jump next to her "You gotta be kidding me Mer" she spat
"Let's just make turns, Cristina. I'm so damn tired" her voice was low as she rubber her eyes, the dried blood on her hands scrubbing away
"If you fall asleep I swear to God..." Cristina whispered angrily "Mer, on the back of your head there's a huge gash and I can bet my ass you have a concussion. Just stay awake!"
"Mere" Derek mumbled, his good hand reaching out for her but just going to rest a little above her leg wound, making her moan in pain "Sorry"
"Here" she groaned, grabbing his hand and squeezing it tightly, wishing she could have just gone back. "We shouldn't have left Zola all alone" she mumbled, her eyes glazing over.
"Thank God you didn't bring her with you" Cristina replied
"Yeah" Derek sighed, but then groaned again.
"Guys" Jimmy, the pilot, intruded in their conversation, his voice feeble, but tinted with hope "Chopper" he said again, a small smile stretching on his lips.
They quieted for a moment, before they could stretch matching grins as Cristina echoed "Chopper" and they noticed a beam descend upon the trees.
Cristina jumped up and down, trying to find an area free from all kinds of leaves and branches; when finally the beam lit up her square feet of space, she just smiled.
The rest of it was a blur.
Paramedics came in and dragged away Mark first, rolling him up on the helicopter and leaving straight away, before another one could arrive. Arizona and the pilot were next, their helicopter pointing north, back home. Firefighters and other workers began clearing up the field, trying to recover Lexie's body.
Meredith refused to leave her side.
"She's my sister!" she shouted when a paramedic threatened to drag her away, her tears falling freely from her cheeks.
"I'm gonna stay with her" Cristina replied "Go with Derek, I'm good"
"Cristina, let's just go together, okay?"
"We can fit" the paramedic said simply when he noticed that the ladies wouldn't budge and Derek nodded in agreement. He didn't felt like leaving Lexie either.
Barely ten minutes later Lexie's battered body was being carried to the last helicopter and they were all climbing in, finally going home.
Meredith cried silently all the way back to Seattle, leaning against Derek's good shoulder while she squeezed Cristina's hand, her eyes fixed on Lexie's lifeless body in front of them, their silence filled with the flapping of the helicopter.
An endless rhythm, soothing, noisy, rough on the ears, something to let them know that they were still alive.
"You know, malheur in French means misfortune" Cristina piped up, breaking the monotone sound. "We landed right in the middle of Malheur National Forest"
At first they were quiet, then Derek chuckled, silently, repressing it, but he was soon joined by Meredith, before they would fall silent again.
There was no need to comment on that, nothing they had to say seemed good enough.
"Lexie would have brought that up for the rest of our lives" Meredith sighed and it was Cristina's turn to squeeze Meredith's hand. "She was a great little sister" she mused, before the noisy hum of the rotor could fill their silence once again.
The travel back to Seattle Grace was quick or at least it seemed so, time had a relative connotation at that point.
There was a flock of doctors fussing over the various stretchers down on the helicopter's bay, paramedics were quick to disembark the victims and leave to give the opportunity to the other choppers to land as well.
They were welcomed by Miranda Bailey and Richard Webber, both wide-eyed and shocked.
"Lexie Grey, thirty-three, DOA" the paramedic spoke up when they joined her and Meredith could bet there were tears in Bailey's eyes.
"Cristina Yang, thirty-five, dislocated shoulder" Cristina spoke before the paramedic could as she hopped down the helicopter "Meredith and Derek are here too, she needs a CT, MRI and stitches, he needs Torres as soon as possible."
Cristina was forced down on a wheelchair and led in a trauma room, she got x-rays done, which confirmed the dislocation, she received the necessary pain meds and a bunch of stitches, before she could be allowed to roam the halls freely.
Owen burst into her trauma room like a fury while she was signing her discharge papers, his hard eyes softening when they noticed how small Cristina looked on that exam table, her unruly hair sticking everywhere, her slim body trapped in a flimsy gown. He felt almost sick and overwhelmed with memories.
"Owen" she whispered, relief seeping through her as soon as she noticed him at the door, dressed up and in a lab coat, his gaze a little lost.
"How are you?" he asked with a knot in his throat.
"Alive, good" she said curtly, her eyes softening.
"That's..." he began, but he was unable to go on. He just moved forward and crushed her body in a tight hug, his tears threatening to spill. He held her close, his nose buried in her hair as her arm pulled him against her just as tightly.
"Ouch" Cristina mumbled "Shoulder is dislocated"
"Sorry" he whispered back a little embarrassed, shifting his arm but keeping her still in his hold.
"It's okay" she mumbled, burying herself even deeper in the embrace.
She finally felt safe.
Mark was welcomed on the roof of Seattle Grace by a full team of Cardio, Altman included, and Callie Torres almost in hysterics.
"Don't you dare dying!" she admonished him, squeezing his hand before moving back to meet Arizona who was arriving in the other helicopter.
The following moments were a mixture of flashbacks and memories he wished he could simply forget, alternated to blank, dark spaces when he knew he was passed out.
He could hear Teddy talking, but he couldn't focus enough to understand, the pain was unbearable and he just wanted some quiet.
"They reduced a cardiac tamponade in the field?" Altman said surprised
"Grey" he spluttered weakly, for once understanding the question "Yang helped her" he breathed out "Derek coordinated it all"
"Badass" Teddy mumbled a small smile stretching on her features.
"Lexie is dead" Mark replied out loud what his brain was trying to process since the moment her eyes closed in front of him. He felt a sense of dread envelop him, his chest tightened and his tears spilled over, unwanted but so relieving, even if the twist in his heart wouldn't leave him.
"I heard. I'm sorry" Teddy replied kindly, a little catch in her voice; he knew it wasn't something of circumstance when she said it, she meant every single syllable, because she knew loss and yet he knew too. He might not have known exactly the dynamics of her relationship with Henry, but she understood perfectly how it felt like to lose a partner and not being able to do anything to help.
He wish he didn't.
"You'll be okay. I'll make sure you'll be okay" Teddy said calmly, squeezing his shoulder, hiding her own grief because Mark's, right in this moment, seemed to swallow him whole.
Arizona was grateful for the pain medications.
The shock had long worn off and the pain in her leg was excruciating. The fact that she could see her bone with her naked eye wasn't good too.
"I might never walk again" Jimmy said as he laid in front of her on the chopper, his spine finally stabilized as it should have been done hours ago.
"It makes two of us. And our best neurosurgeon has his wrist kept together by a safety pin" she shook her head "You know, you just spent the scariest moment of your life with three of the top surgeons in the country" she laughed hollowly, the sadness dripping from every chuckle.
"And I still might never walk again"
The conversation stopped abruptly when the pilot announced that they were landing. They barely had the time to land on concrete before Callie appeared in front of her and Arizona felt relief seep through every bone in her, even the exposed ones.
"Thank God, thank God, thank God!" Callie mumbled, squeezing her in a hug, before assessing in a glance all her injuries. She frowned and Arizona knew well why.
"My femur is exposed" she said simply and when she uncovered her leg Callie cringed, tears filling her eyes.
"It will be okay, it's gonna be okay, I promise"
"I'm alive" she repeated, before coughing up blood again, "I'm alive" she repeated and for a second it seemed all that mattered.
Finally inside the walls of Seattle Grace, Arizona let herself succumb to the medications and drifted off into a deep sleep.
"I need x-rays and somebody please check for internal bleeding!" Callie shouted and immediately Webber and Karev joined her, proceeding with all the tests and the check up lists she was just too involved to perform by herself.
Callie just held her wife's hand through all this, wishing that her life could have stayed the same happy bubble a little while more.
Meredith and Derek were helped out of the helicopter by a paramedic then they just relied on each other to help Derek climb on the first available stretcher. He limply collapsed on top of it, his eyes closing "I'm gonna pass out" he said slowly, only for Meredith to hear.
"We're almost done, hang on Derek" she pleaded with him, squeezing his good hand during the whole flight.
"I love you" he said simply as soon as they disembarked, smiling as brightly as he could but it still looked closer to a grimace "Even if I'll lose my hand, I love you"
He didn't hear her answer as he disappeared inside the hospital, his thoughts furry as Avery and Kepner fussed over him.
So many people in this hospital had seen him weak, he didn't even bother to hide it anymore, he just went with the flow, his thoughts stuck on Lexie and all the memories they had shared together, to shift then quickly to Meredith and how further this whole thing could break her. Zola was last, but not least in his mind, because if they hadn't been found sooner, she probably would have been an orphan again and this wasn't really an option. He might be an one-handed Dad from now on, but he was going to fight with tooth and nail to be her Dad for a whole lot longer. She deserved that and Meredith deserved a real family.
"Dr. Shepherd there's a pin in your arm!" Kepner almost shrieked, making him cringe, his slight headache thumping in his head at the loud noise.
"It keeps it together, they didn't have stitches in the woods" Avery commented with a duh face as he sedated the limb to try and clean up the wound.
April set up the x-rays and he tried to focus back on something else, something happy, to keep his mind off the fact that his career might be over when he got out of the OR. There were tears in his eyes but before he could crumble, he needed answers.
"Dr. Shepherd" the well-known voice of his subordinate, his 'shadow' as they had dubbed him, reached his ear. It was calm and collected but there was a hint of something unusual in it. Like he was actually sorry.
"Dr. Nelson" he managed to mumble
The doctor sat on a stool and stared at Derek's hand, then did the preliminary exams and sighed; much for Derek's relief it sounded like a good sigh.
"Nerves seem intact, but I need a clearer visualization, I'll come back when you are in surgery" Nelson explained plainly, but with a hint of relief as well.
"Good, good" he mumbled, still a little incoherently, his thoughts fuzzy "Meredith" he managed to babble "I need to get to Meredith"
"She's been taken care of" Nelson said "I checked on her head wound right before coming here, she has a light concussion, nothing to worry about. Dr. Bailey is checking for other injuries, then she'll schedule more tests"
"I have to be there" he almost pleaded
"You can't move, Dr. Shepherd" April stated
"I know" he spat, his jaw clenching
"We could move you there as we wait for your test results and the OR needs to clear up for Torres to get in" Avery sighed, noticing how much more relieved Derek looked after this proposal.
"We'll go then" Nelson agreed and the two other doctors nodded as they wheeled him away.
Derek just wanted to be with his wife.
"I love you too" Meredith replied "We'll figure something out in either way" she sighed as Derek was brought away, then she stood in the middle of the ordeal on the helicopter bay, trying to make sense of things while the helicopters flew away and the paramedics scrambled around her in confusion. For a split second, she felt like she was back on the ferry dock during the accident and she didn't like the vibe of it one bit.
"Grey!" she heard Bailey call out for her, before she could help her on a wheelchair and bring her to a private room right away. Apparently, being married to a top neurosurgeon and working in the hospital had its perks when you were a patient, because his subordinate was already in the room to diagnose her a slight concussion.
Everything was fuzzy and distant for other reasons though, her mind volleying from Derek to Lexie, then Zola and Cristina, wishing and hoping they were all going to be fine, wherever they were, even Lexie.
She obediently followed all of Bailey's instructions when her former resident spoke to her softly and Nelson left them alone. She slowly stripped out of her clothes, left them in a pile on the floor and wore a gown, trying to ignore the blood, the marks and the cuts on her skin, just doing what she had been asked, pushing through, moving forward.
She was alive, that was a triumph.
"Okay, Nelson wants me to take you up for a CT and an MRI later, just for precaution, he's busy with your husband at the moment"
"How's Derek?" her voice was barely a scared whisper.
"It seems like there's no nerve damage, but we have to wait for Torres' surgery"
Meredith nodded, sniffing, before she could contain herself "Why are you here?" she said in a scared voice "I mean, people are in worse shape than I am and..."
"You are still my intern Grey." Bailey stated, stitching up the gash on Meredith's leg "Yang might be already in the OR cutting people open with a dislocated shoulder, so I have you" she smirked and Meredith had to smile a little at that, the tension eased away, at least for a moment.
Their conversation was interrupted by a gurney being wheeled in with Derek on top of it.
"Derek" Meredith sighed relieved, squeezing his good hand as he passed by. He rewarded her with a smile.
"I'll be in surgery soon and I wanted to spend time with you" he said, still managing a small grin as they stared at one another from the opposite ends of the room.
"You're not going to die" she stated strongly "Remember, worst break up ever"
"I know," he smiled at her, glad that she could still make light of the situation "I just want to spend time with you"
They stared into each other's eyes for what felt like eons, letting the situation and the surroundings settle in and disappear, before Bailey could push Meredith's back gently on the gurney.
"I need to check for internal bleeding"
Meredith didn't protest but she was immediately distracted by April, standing there with Jackson, a strange look on their faces. "How's Zola?" she blurted out as Bailey prepared the ultrasound machine.
"She's the cutest baby in the world" April said simply, managing a smile which made Meredith relax a little.
"Can you bring her down later?"
"Yeah, no problem"
Meredith settled back staring at the ceiling as the rest of the people shuffled out, leaving her, Derek and Bailey alone in the quiet room.
Derek's breaths were comforting, just in the same way they comforted her after the shooting. Breaths meant that he was alive and she was alive and they still had their family together.
Almost all their family.
There were things to take care of on Lexie's behalf, people to call, stuff to do...
"Has anybody contacted Thatcher?" she mumbled and Bailey stopped her exam mid-stomach, looking up with sad eyes.
"I believe Dr. Hunt is doing it."
Bailey's eyes swept through her almost like a veil and they enveloped her in calm. She had some kind of power when she practiced medicine, Miranda Bailey.
"If you see him, you have to tell him that Thatcher has to wait for Mark to feel a little better at least. He'd want to be there for..." the last word got stuck in her throat.
If she said out loud 'funeral' it would all became so real and she didn't need any more real for the day. She was done. All her energy was drained. She couldn't take anything bad anymore.
Bailey looked at her again, stopping her ministration to squeeze her hand, then glanced at Derek who nodded, their understanding long practiced.
Meredith let out a shallow sigh, locking her eyes with Derek, drawing the comfort he always brought her and she knew it was hard for him to be at arm's length in such situations. He wanted to be there and he usually was, but she needed him to heal before they could hold each other properly again.
His eyes shifted from hers for a moment and she didn't like one bit the frown that appeared on his face.
"What is it?" he asked to Bailey, struggling to sit up even straighter. Something was wrong with her.
When Meredith turned to Bailey though, the attending was smiling, an unusual sight, but one that was much needed, even though the other two occupants of the room were both still puzzled.
"Looks like something good is gonna come out of this day, after all" Bailey replied cryptically, before holding the ultrasound wand still and turning the monitor towards Meredith and Derek.
And the room filled with the most unexpected whoosh whoosh whoosh.
So, now you can decide. Do you want more? Are you bored to tears that *everybody* is writing about the plane crash? Do you want me to finish "I Missed You For 29 Years" first? [I know you do, it will be done, don't worry]
There's Chapter 1 written up above the page, but this whole thing started out as a one shot and it can be a nice stand-alone. It's up to you, but believe me, I have a lot planned for Meredith and Derek. I know, this was more of an ensemble exacution, but the rest of my story will be focussing on Meredith and Derek. I won't forget about Mark or Arizona, Lexie or even Cristina and Bailey's storylines, they will simply be mentioned along the way.
I don't want to spoil you a lot of things, but you can decide if you want me to update chapter 2 or to leave this as a one shot. Feel free to bash my hopes and dreams!
Here's the whole poem from which I borrowed the title, just so you can read it.
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune-without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.