If/Then

"April?"

She's in a bar, another bar, since Meredith now hates her and Alex now wants nothing more to do with her. She's drinking bourbon because it's strong, she's ignoring the barkeep because he's friendly and she really doesn't care who's calling her name.

"April." He sits down next to her anyway, waving his hand in front of her face like she might be in a trance. "Jackson Avery, remember me? Did our internship together, used to be friends? You dropped me like a hot potato when you realised Meredith Webber likes to oooh and ahhh as much as you do?"

"Go away, Jackson."

"It's a free country."

"And there are plenty of free seats." Her eyes sweep down the row of unoccupied barstools, then lift up to accuse him. "This pity party has no room for plus ones."

"And now I'm going to stay just to annoy you." He orders scotch, three fingers, probably because it's strong. "I had a junkie die on me today. Cute, apart from the dreads. Smart, apart from the drugs."

"That's too bad."

"It is."

"Too bad I don't care, I mean."

"That gets me right here." His hand slaps over his heart like it's stopped and he's about to start compressions. "You're usually a lot perkier than this. What the Hell happened to you?"

"I had sex with Alex Karev," she tells him, since everyone's going to find out soon enough. "I ruined my relationship with Meredith and my relationship with Jesus in one fell swoop, two birds with one stone." Finishing up, she drains her glass and reaches for her wallet.

"It's on me."

"Why?"

They did use to be friends, good friends. Her hands used to shake a lot, but he never made fun of her. His grandfather is Harper Avery, but that never meant anything to her. He hasn't changed that much – green eyes, sharp features, shoulders for miles – and she hasn't changed too much – her brown hair is red, but for all her tough talk, her lower lip is still wobbling like she might cry. She doesn't ever value what she has, she gets that now, only what she can achieve in the future.

"Do you want to come home with me?"

Because it's dark and she's thoughtless and beautiful, lower lip still wobbling.

"Yes."

Because it's late and he's still a good guy, even after all this time.

They drive to an apartment with hardwood floors and all the lights turned off. He's tired and she's numb, but taking each other's clothes off is a world away from Ellis Grey's empire, and touching each other is one in the eye for all the things they've lost along the way. She runs her hand over the six individual bumps of his stomach with her eyes closed and doesn't shy away when he hooks his thumb into the waistband of her jeans and pulls her in. Why she's wearing jeans tonight, she has no idea, but he's willing to get down on his knees to peel them off, so there's no point dwelling on it.

They reach through each other to the past, taking back their specialties and their lovers and their absorption into the Seattle Grace conglomerate. They reach through to a timeline where they wore orange-coloured scrubs that little bit longer, where they stayed friends that long time longer, maybe even long enough to fall in love. This isn't love, but it's safe, and it's easier because it's dark and it's late, and when their mouths finally crash into each other after stopping everywhere else on their bodies, they find the person they're halfway inside of really isn't who they thought they were.

She asks him not to turn on the light when it's over.

"I felt something," he says.

"Me too."

"Let's not do this again."

"Okay."

Because if they dig deep enough, they might just fall in love anyway, and the desire for other things – plastic surgery, trauma surgery, blue scrubs, other conversations in other bedrooms – might just destroy them.

Fin.