Disclaimer: Mer, Mark and Grey's Anatomy are not mine. Still just as depressing as always. However, I get to play with them so I guess that's a good thing.
A/N: This chapter is just a bit of silliness. There's no major plot points or revelations. It's kinda just to get back in the swing of things…and because I wanted to be silly. This chapter might be better off as a side story or drabble but Leo insisted on having the spotlight and I let him get away with it. Just this once though. Enjoy it!
"Why are you carrying a plant?" Ellie asked her in a bland tone as soon as she walked into the intern locker room. It was Meredith's first day back after her surgery and Ellie was slightly concerned about the other woman. They hadn't done more than speak on the phone in days and even those conversations had been brief.
Meredith gently set Leo on the bench and turned to open her locker and pull out a pair of scrubs. "Because he's dying," she said in the same bland tone Ellie had used. There was a part of her that just had to do something a little crazy. Besides Ellie would know that she was only joking…right? "So I thought I'd bring him in, run a few tests, see if there's a cancer to be removed or something." She shrugged out of her light jacket and hung it up, wiping the amused smile from her mouth before turning to face her friend with a fake look of anxiousness.
Ellie stared at her for a long moment, lips pursed and eyes slightly squinted, before she grinned and knelt down beside the bench to regard the plant with concern. "How long has he been feeling off?" Her tone was now the brisk doctorly one she used with her patients.
"A few weeks," Meredith answered with a delighted grin, Ellie was going to play along. "He rallied for a little while this past week but now he's feeling poorly again." She pulled her scrub top on over her long sleeved tee and shimmied out of her jeans. She was a little concerned about her plant even though she knew the best cure for him was to go live with Mark.
Ellie ran a gentle finger down one of the leaves and nodded to herself. "How has his temperature been? High, low? Is it fluctuating or steady?" She slanted a glance over to Meredith.
Meredith frowned thoughtfully as she pulled on her scrub pants. "I'm not sure, actually," she said slowly. "He's been sitting in the sun for the past week or so. But then he always sits in the sun. It just seems more apparent this week," she waved the thought away with another, fiercer, frown. "But we were visiting a friend that lives near the sea this past week when he perked up. Now that we're back in the city he seems to have gotten sick very quickly." She knelt down beside Ellie and stared at Leo. "His name's Leo, by the way."
"Good to meet you, Leo," Ellie addressed the plant on the bench seriously. "And don't worry too much. We'll get you fixed right up." She patted the side of the pot.
Meredith nodded encouragingly and rubbed one leaf between her fingers. They stared forlornly at the drooping plant for a moment and then heard the soft swish of the door to their locker room opening. "Pre-rounds in five guys…" Noel's voice rang out and then abruptly stopped. "What are you doing?" He asked curiously.
Ellie turned her head a bit to look at him over her shoulder. A smile briefly flitted on her lips before she let out a loud sob. "Mer's friend is dyyying," she wailed.
Noel took a step back at the noise and then he frowned. "I'm sorry?" He half asked. "Do you need to go back to Seattle or is your friend here?"
Meredith buried her face in her hands in order to hide her grin. "He's here," her voice was just muffled enough to disguise the mirth. "We have to save him!"
Noel took a few steps towards them and caught sight of the plant on the bench. He shook his head. "Your friend?" He asked his voice dripping sympathy. He needed no encouragement to play along with their craziness. This was going to be amusing.
Ellie wiped at her eyes, to remove tears that hadn't actually appeared, and nodded. "He's dying, Noel," she whispered in a voice filled with misery. She reached out and grabbed one of his hands to draw him closer. "What are we going to do?"
Noel kneeled down at Ellie's side with a frown of concentration and concern pulling at his lips. He reached out a single finger and stroked down a leaf. "We'll take him to Nurse Claudia and get him admitted immediately," he announced suddenly in a confident tone. "We can get her to help us run some tests and then we'll get him fixed up good as new."
Meredith hefted herself to her feet with a sigh of relief. "Good idea, Noel. Come on, Leo," she addressed the plant. "Let's go see Nurse Claudia."
Ellie and Noel followed her with morose faces as she gently picked up the plant and headed for the door. It swung open before they reached it and Michael rushed in, still in his street clothes. "Whoa," he yelled and wheeled back a step. "What's going on?"
"Out of the way," Noel bellowed in his face and hid a smirk. Michael was late. Was he burning out already? "Emergency patient coming through," he gently pushed Michael to the side and followed the girls from the room. "We're headed for Nurse Claudia if you'd like to come along." He threw over his shoulder.
Michael glanced around them quickly. "What patient?" He called after them a little desperate. "Where?"
Meredith held Leo up so that Michael could see him as the door swung shut again.
"Was that a plant?" Michael asked himself in the ringing silence of the now empty locker room. "Are they truly calling that plant an emergency patient?" He shook his head in disbelief. His eyes caught on the clock and widened in alarm. "They're just trying to make me late!" He rushed for his locker ignoring the fact that he'd been late even before the strange incident with Meredith and that plant.
MS/MG MS/MG MS/MG
Claudia looked up even before she heard the sound of their feet on the tiles. She knew something was off. Something interesting was about to happen. She tilted her head to the side and listened with something more than her ears. JC was laughing.
Oh it wasn't anything that could actually be heard. It was more a feeling, a sense. The air seemed lighter. The walls seemed to shimmer just a bit if one knew what to look for. Sudden smiles would appear on the faces of the employees. Just little things that most wouldn't notice. But Claudia knew. She could see it. She could feel it.
Then she heard their footsteps. Somehow they were magnified to her. She knew they were still two corridors away but she could hear them coming. They were the epicenter of JC's amusement.
"Nurse Claudia?" Meredith Grey's voice said from the side in hesitant tones. Still Claudia could hear a bit of mirth clinging to it. As if the girl had told a joke or seen something funny only a few moments earlier and it was still in her mind.
"Interns," Claudia responded to the three in front of her. "And where are your cohorts this morning?"
Meredith stopped and frowned for a moment. She turned to Ellie and Noel for the answer she didn't have.
"Josie and Eric are off today," Ellie replied promptly. "And Michael…he's on his way. Got stopped by a patient or something."
Claudia read the lie in her eyes but nodded and refocused on Meredith. "Did you need something, Grey?" She asked in an even tone. She could feel the waves of amusement flowing off of all three of the interns.
Meredith gently set Leo on the counter in front of Claudia. "He's dying," she said in a mournful tone. "Can you help us fix him?"
Claudia leaned forward and studied the plant for a long moment struggling to hide her own amusement at the silly game these interns were playing. "An astragalus, correct?" She asked as she stroked a finger down one of the leaves.
Meredith bit her lip. "I'm not sure," she finally admitted. "I bought him to brighten up my apartment. I thought he was pretty." She shrugged. "But his flowers closed and he's been droopy for weeks. I'm not sure what to do for him."
Claudia considered her for a moment and then smiled brightly. "Let's get him admitted and see if we can't help the little guy."
Meredith grinned back at her. "Thank you, Nurse Claudia."
Claudia merely nodded and pulled out some forms. "You'll need to fill these out," she instructed and moved to hand them to Meredith before pulling them back and fixing the younger woman with a stern stare. "You are next of kin, correct?"
Meredith nodded eagerly. "I'm all he has," she declared.
Claudia handed her the papers. "Here you go. Go with Dr. Allenton today for rounds and bring those back when you're finished. I'll keep an eye on…what's his name?"
"His name's Leo," Meredith told her. "Are you sure you don't mind watching him for me?"
Claudia shook her head. "I doubt he'll be even a quarter of the trouble the Crawley kids can be," she said and pulled Leo across the counter to rest beside her elbow. "Go on, we'll be fine."
"Where are we today?" Michael asked as he rushed up behind them. "Sorry I'm late, Nurse Claudia. Had car trouble."
Claudia simply speared him with a harsh look and then returned to her files. "Go," she barked and pointed down the corridor to the tall man glaring at the four interns.
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"Grey," the tall gray-haired Dr. Allenton barked out suddenly as they stalked down the corridors back to the nurse's desk after rounds. "Symptoms?"
"Sir?" Meredith asked in confusion. Which case did he want a list of symptoms for? And why was he asking now, when they were already finished and ready to receive their assignments for the day.
Dr. Allenton glanced at her over his shoulder his brown eyes exasperated at her slowness in understanding. "Your friend. What are his symptoms?"
Meredith grinned. "Leo's listless and…quiet, I guess. He doesn't seem to be blooming anymore and just feels…depressed. I haven't noticed any change in temperature. He's not complaining of sickness or achiness but…well, he's never been much of a talker. He's usually very stoic too, so he might just be hiding how he's really feeling in regards to pain."
"It's a flipping plant!" Michael suddenly spluttered. "I can't believe you people are actually wasting time on a flipping plant!"
Dr. Allenton stopped suddenly and turned to glare daggers at the intern. Michael's mouth closed with a snap at the look of murder in the older man's eyes. Dr. Allenton continued to glare for a moment longer before he turned back to Meredith and his features softened. "It could be nothing," he commented. "Truly I don't believe anything is seriously wrong with him. Astragalus are very social, you see. It could be nothing more than that he's lonely."
Meredith frowned in thought. "They like to be around people then?" She asked and then sighed to herself. "So sending him home with Mar-Dr. Sloan wouldn't fix him."
Dr. Allenton smirked. He had five hundred on next month in the betting pool about those two. "No, I don't think so. Not unless Dr. Sloan has roommates or other plants around for Leo to converse with."
Meredith sighed again. "He doesn't," she said sadly. "I'll have to come up with another solution then."
"You could always leave him here," Noel commented. "Plenty of people and I'm sure the nursing staff would be happy to take care of him while you're not here."
Meredith blinked at him. "Maybe," she finally said slowly. "I have to talk to Nurse Claudia first. She may have discovered that he has some disease and that there's nothing we can do for him."
"Don't be so pessimistic," Ellie chided as the group started off towards the nurse's desk again. "He'll be just fine. Promise."
Meredith nodded and looped her arm through Ellie's. "You're right," she conceded. "I'm going to hope for the best."
"It's a plant," Michael said repressively. "You can just buy another one if this one dies you know."
Meredith and Ellie gasped in unison and glared at him. "You're a complete jerk," Ellie hissed.
Michael glared back. "For God's sake," he muttered. "It's a flipping plant!"
Noel clapped a hand on his back and grinned maliciously. "Watch it, Phillips. They're going to be out for your blood soon and they'll get every other female here to join them. Then every male who wants to continue breathing and working in a comfortable environment will help."
Michael shook his head in bemusement but knew enough about women to keep his mouth shut the rest of the way. He still couldn't understand what they were all getting so worked up about though. Or why everyone seemed to be humoring them with such eagerness. It was just a flipping plant!
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Meredith gasped and grinned when she caught sight of Leo sitting on the counter at the nurse's desk. "Leo," she breathed out as she approached. "You look so much better already!"
Claudia grinned back at her. "He started perking up just a little while ago. I think…well, astragalus are very social plants, you see. I think he was lonely and the activity and…fawning of the nurses and patients helped him out."
Meredith sighed heavily. "Looks like you were right, Dr. Allenton," she nodded to the man. She bit her bottom lip and turned her gaze back to Claudia. "I—"
"Yes," Claudia answered before she could ask the question floating on the tip of her tongue. "He'll fit right in and you'll be able to talk to him all the time. Probably more now than when he lived at your apartment."
Meredith grinned. "Thanks, Nurse Claudia. I'm sure he'll be very happy here," then she frowned. "But…I can take him home on my days off if you like," she offered. "I wouldn't want him to inconvenience you."
Claudia leveled a long look at her and then nodded. "If you wish," she intoned. "However, if you'd like to leave him here at any time just do so. No one will question it and he might even prefer it."
"All right," Meredith agreed.
Claudia nodded and passed out the days assignments to the four interns.