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the seven stages of intoxication

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Meredith checks her alarm clock: 5:25am. She groans and falls back into her pillows. She shuts her eyes, willing herself to go back to sleep. She feels the previous night coming back in flashes and she sighs.

She realizes won’t be able to get any sleep so she mindlessly heads downstairs. She stumbles into the kitchen by force of habit. Instantly, she remembers. She tries to force her mind to not think, not about the bomb, or Addison, or how she felt against Meredith on the same fucking table she is staring at.

She needs something to do, fuck. She marches off to the storage cupboard and returns with an array of cleaning supplies. She starts with the living room, eventually making her way to the hall and then the kitchen. She vigorously scrubs and wipes and dusts and try to avoid it all she might, all she can think about is last night’s startling realization.

She feels a pulse between her legs as she scrubs the stupid fucking table Addison had her splayed across. She tells herself that she is just touch-deprived, but deep inside she knows that it’s fucking Addison who is the reason behind it.

She wants Addison. She wants to kiss her again and she wants her to finish what they started. It still blows her mind how absolutely oblivious she has been to her own desire, and how she has no fucking idea what do now.

She finally takes a step back from the table and takes a look around at her handiwork: quite a good job for someone who almost died and realized she liked her ex-boyfriend’s estranged wife all in the past twenty-four hours. She suddenly feels exhausted, so she drops the cleaning supplies back to their shelves and heads back up to her room.

On a normal day, she’d be off to the trailer to walk Doc with Addison. Today, she just lies in bed and quietly laughs at the absurdity of everything.

She wakes up again with a knock at her door and Izzie’s head popping in to call her for breakfast, if she wants any. Meredith just wants to go back to sleep, but she doesn’t want to worry her friends any more so she drags herself out of bed. She throws on her robe and avoids looking at the pair of jeans glaring at her from her chair.

She cautiously enters the kitchen. Cristina’s already there, and Meredith feels a rush of relief. She assures her friends of her well-being and inhales everything Izzie puts in front of her. She hadn’t even realized how hungry she was. She hears Izzie mention how clean everything looks but she’s too busy chewing to comment.

****

Cristina follows her up to her room when she is done with breakfast. As soon as she shuts the door behind her, Meredith flops onto her bed with an oof. Cristina sits down next to her.

"What’s going on?" Cristina asks, looking a little worried, "And don’t say it was the bomb because you’ve got your McDreamy-ruined-everything look going on again.”

Oh, Cristina, Meredith thinks, He is the least of my problems right now. . She didn’t realize she was being so obvious. She feels a swell of affection in her chest for Cristina, and how well she knows her. Meredith knows she can trust her with anything, and while she does love her other friends, Izzie has a big mouth, George is already confused enough and Alex would just keep picturing her and Addison having sex, so no, only Cristina can know for now.

"It's not him," Meredith snorts, "It's nothing related to him in the least."

"Oh, thank God," Cristina groans. "I was ready to smack some sense into you now."

Meredith chuckles, "It's worse."

Cristina's relief visibly fades. It would look funny if the whole situation weren't so unfunny.

"Not worse, well, depends on how you look at it. I don't think it's bad because it was so... so consuming, and so... It's just unlike anything I've ever experienced and trust me, I've experienced a lot," Meredith laughs nervously and she knows she's rambling now but it's so ridiculous and saying it aloud will make it real.

"Mer," Cristina looks at her solemnly, "Just say it."

Meredith slowly rises till she is leaning back on her elbows.

"Addison kissed me-”

What?

“Uh, and we almost had sex, but George came down so she had to go-”

“Back the fuck up,” Cristina reels, “You almost had sex with Dr. Montgomery-Shepherd?”

“Don’t call her that.”

“What? It’s her name.”

“Just call her Addison.”

“Fine, whatever. You almost had sex with Addison? When? Where? What was George- you know what? Nevermind that.”

“She showed up after you left-“

“Stalker! How did she know where-” Cristina interrupts.

“She came to collect something for Doc before- Not the point!” Meredith rolls her eyes.

“Yeah, sorry, go on.”

“So she showed up last night,” Meredith continues, “I don’t know, we were sitting in the kitchen and the next thing I know I’m kissing her.”

You kissed her?”

“Why can’t I kiss her?” Meredith asks incredulously.

“Nothing, of course you can. But McDreamy-“

“Stop calling him that!”

“Sorry, Derek- She’s his wife! You hate her! She stole your life and what-not and now-“ Cristina exclaims. It’s almost comical seeing her express more emotions in less than five minutes than she would in months.

“I don’t hate her, Cristina. We’re friends. We talk, we laugh, we- we have a fucking dog together!” Meredith sighs, reaching over to grab Cristina’s hand, “I think I like her. I don’t know, I feel like I have for months but we were friends. And it’s crazy because she was so into it and she’s married. And to think I was sulking after a man two days ago. Her husband.

Meredith chuckles hopelessly at the latest, absolutely ridiculous predicament life has thrown her into. Cristina nods sympathetically, until she cracks a smile too.

“Was it good, though?” Cristina asks, a mischievous smirk forming on her lips.

“Yes,” Meredith immediately replies, taking a deep breath. “It felt… right. I wanted to do it.”

It feels scary to admit it aloud. It's scary and freeing and fucking real in the cold light of day, outside of suffocatingly hot showers and warm blankets.

“It just didn’t occur until she literally had me half-naked in my own kitchen.”

“Where we just ate?” Cristina groans.

“Don’t worry, I’ve already been on a cleaning spree. No traces of adultery to be found in this house.”

Cristina’s face is unreadable for about five seconds before she bursts into laughter. Meredith joins her, until they are both lying back on their backs and struggling to breathe.

"This is fucking General Hospital, but gay," Cristina chokes, wipes a tear off her eye as her breathing slowly returns to normal.

"My life is a soap opera. Ellis would be so proud." Meredith retorts, still softly wheezing.

Cristina laughs again and grabs Meredith's hand. Her eyes soften like they do when she's about to give one her Cristina-Yang-can-be-a-softie-but-don't-expect-it-again speeches.

"In all seriousness though, Mer, I’m here for you. I'm glad you told me."

Meredith simply smiles in return.

"But seriously? Addison?"

Meredith groans, pushing her head into her palms. She peeks up, sees Cristina's amused expression, and hides her face again.

****

Meredith returns to work two days later. She feels like everyone is staring at her, like they know what she almost did with Addison. She knows that it’s impossible for anyone to know and it’s just curious eyes checking to see how well Meredith has pieced herself back together, but she decides to keep her head down anyways.

She is ready to fully delve back into work and it’s just her fucking luck that Dr. Bailey’s welcome back gift for her is an entire day with Addison. Had it been any other day, Meredith would’ve jumped at the opportunity. Instead, she feels her heart thump as she takes the charts from Bailey because she has no idea how to face Addison yet, not when she hasn’t shown up to walk Doc, not when Addison hasn’t said a word either.

Meredith reluctantly gets on the elevator. She’s certain she is going to leave fingertip-shaped indentations on the files by the time she reaches the OB/GYN wing if she doesn't stop clutching them so tightly.

She tells herself to calm down, she has been in the whole awkward meeting after a one night stand situation way too many times, she knows how to handle this. But those are usually just badly timed morning afters and those are with boys. She can handle boys any day. Addison is a woman and Meredith has no clue how it all works with girls. Fuck, she has no clue how it works with someone you actually like. And Addison also happens to be her ex-boyfriend's wife which is a completely uncomplicated situation that Meredith stubbornly tells herself doesn't exist.

The elevator tings and she steps out. Her stomach tingles with nervousness again and really, it's stupid to be this anxious because Addison was quite the eager partner so whatever that night was, it was clearly not one-sided. Addison is probably just as worried, although Meredith has a slight suspicion that her mastery of the art of denial would really be helping her right now.

Addison is talking to the patient and doesn't notice when Meredith quietly slips into the room. She actually wants to disappear into the walls but it’s just her luck that she remains painfully, solidly human.

Meredith notices the slight slump of Addison’s shoulders, the forced cheer with which she is discussing options with the young mother in her care.

“Morning, Dr. Grey,” she finally looks up and nods, a dull smile etched across her face, “Please begin.”

Meredith’s heart hurts at Addison’s impersonal tone, at her blatant refusal to return any of the smiles Meredith gives her. She thinks of how Addison had shut her out all those months ago and Meredith will be damned if she lets that happen again. She decides to rip the band-aid right off by talking to Addison as soon as they are done in here.

They’ve barely stepped out of the patient’s room when Addison’s pager goes off. Meredith doesn’t get a chance to speak before they are rushing down to the E.R. The E.R. is swarming with patients from a massive crash as they manage their way through to a severely injured pregnant mother. Meredith breathlessly watches the exact moment Addison snaps into action, her usual fire surging back into her as she begins giving out directions.

Meredith hears Addison reading the patients stats and ordering an O.R. as Meredith intubates the patient.

“Grey, you're scrubbing in," Addison says, her hand brushing Meredith’s shoulder in the lightest of touches. Meredith is certain it was unconsciously done because Addison has already left the room to speak to a nurse when Meredith registers the touch. She isn’t sure if she’s pleased that Addison is still casually touching her or pissed that she isn’t as much of a wreck as Meredith is.

Meredith nods. (She is way more pleased than she is pissed.)

****

It's an intense surgery and Meredith feels the adrenaline coursing through her in the best way. Addison proudly announces the birth of a baby boy as she quickly passes him to be cleaned up. She then asks Meredith to close as she steps back from the operating table.

Meredith feels another rush of adrenaline as she takes over and begins carefully placing sutures under Addison's observant gaze. She feels a surge of pride up her spine when she hears Addison's approving hum.

“Well done, Dr. Grey,” Addison says as Meredith steps back. Her eyes crinkle and Meredith can tell that she’s smiling.

Meredith feels herself blush and she is grateful for the mask hiding it. She nods in return, a smile automatically forming on her lips.

They end up heading straight back to rounds after surgery and Meredith hardly has a moment to breathe between reading patient charts and answering Addison’s questions.

****

There is finally a twenty-five minute gap in their schedules where neither of them are needed anywhere. She reconsiders if it’s even worth making a big deal about. Then she counts to three and pages Addison outside an on-call room.

It takes few minutes before she sees Addison waving her pager as she walks towards Meredith. Meredith opens the on-call room door, beckoning her to enter. A look of nervousness flashes on Addison’s face but it’s gone before Meredith can think on it.

“We should talk,” Meredith begins, locking the door and turning to face Addison.

“About what?” Addison’s reply is too fast, like she has already planned how to avoid this entire conversation.

Meredith suppresses the urge to roll her eyes, “You know perfectly well what.”

“I don’t know what you want me to say,” she replies, refusing to meet Meredith’s eyes.

“Why’d you kiss me?” Meredith decides to get directly to the point.

Addison tucks a lock of her hair behind her ear and clears her throat. Meredith notes the slight blush creeping up her neck.

“I'm sorry, Meredith, I really am,” she says, looking at Meredith apologetically, “You were vulnerable and I took advantage.”

What?

“Addison, you didn’t take any advantage,” Meredith instantly responds, “I was the one who kissed you.”

“Yes, but you weren’t thinking straight -”

“Clearly,” Meredith retorts cheekily.

Addison rolls her eyes but her lips twitch. (Fuck, she’s wearing the burgundy lipstick again.) At least, the ice is somewhat broken when she looks at Meredith again.

“And,” she continues, “You were hurt, tired, and I had no right to just show up like that and make your day worse.”

“Addison, I can assure you that in no way did that make my day worse,” Meredith smiles mischievously.

Addison flushes a pretty pink that makes Meredith's stomach flutter. She steps closer, enough that she is in Addison’s personal space yet far enough that they don’t touch.

“Why’d you do it, Addison?” Meredith echoes her question, “Kiss me back?”

“I don’t know. You could’ve died, Meredith! I don’t think anyone realizes just how close-” she exasperatedly reaches forward and cups Meredith’s face in her palms, “I had to- I needed you to know.”

“Know what?” Meredith asks, heart pounding in her chest.

Addison steps closer. She presses her forehead against Meredith's, her thumbs brush over Meredith's cheekbones and she is so close Meredith can feel their breaths mingle. Meredith feels her chest constrict at the sheer intimacy of it.

"Meredith, I'm sorry," Addison whispers again. No, no.

No. No, no, no. She cannot barge into Meredith's life and wake her up to all these stunning, life-changing realizations and then push her away. No, she isn't going to push her away. Not again.

“No, you’re not doing this,” Meredith says, “You’re not blocking me out again, Addison.”

“Trust me, you don't want this," Addison begins, her voice taking on a pleading edge that makes Meredith ache.

"No, you can't come to my house and kiss me and then pretend nothing happened!" she exclaims, not caring if Addison hears the desperation in her voice as she reaches up to hold Addison's wrists.

They stand there for a moment, or an hour, or years perhaps, foreheads touching, Addison's palms warm against Meredith's cheeks, her own fingers cool against Addison's steadily rising pulse point. Meredith closes her eyes.

"Yes, I can," Addison suddenly hisses, "I can pretend it was nothing, and if you know what's good for you you'll be doing the same."

Meredith's eyes snap open at the sudden shift in Addison's tone. She feels a pulse of anger that immediately simmers down when she sees Addison's eyes brimming with tears. She lets go of her left wrist to brush them aside but Addison snatches away her other wrist too and pushes past Meredith to the door.

Meredith spins around to see Addison struggling with the lock in her haste to get out. She tells herself that she is not this fucking desperate but it's out just as she hears the soft click of the door unlocking.

"I touched myself," she breathes, "after you left."

Addison's hand freezes at the door handle. Meredith takes in the way her shoulders straighten and her neck tenses. She doesn't turn around.

Meredith slowly inches towards her. She feels electricity pulsing in the air, one wrong move and they both get burnt alive. She carefully stops right behind Addison and presses her palms against the door, encapsulating Addison's body with her own.

"I went up to my room. I wanted to take a shower but I was so wet.”

"Meredith-" Addison breathes. Meredith looks down to see her knuckles nearly white with the strength of her grip on the handle. Meredith lets her left hand fall down to cover Addison's as she begins softly prying her fingers off it.

"I went to the bathroom, I looked at myself and all I could see was you. All I wanted was your hands back on me," Meredith says, her fingers now intertwined with Addison's.

Addison lets out a soft sigh and presses her forehead against the door.

“Meredith, this isn’t about this,” Addison mumbles.

She means sex, Meredith knows. Then what the fuck is it about? Sex seems to be the easiest option, if Meredith is honest. She wishes it were just about sex.

Addison turns around and Meredith takes in the deep red flush staining her neck and the hazy look in her eyes.

She runs a finger over Meredith's lower lip. Meredith parts her lips and softly brushes her tongue against the tip. She feels Addison's sharp gasp reverberate through her as she takes it in and softly sucks on it.

“Meredith, we can't,” Addison breathes, her tone desperate yet she doesn’t pull her finger out, doesn’t step away.

Meredith can tell that she wants this just as badly. She releases Addison’s finger with a soft pop but reaches up to grasp her hand before she can step away. Addison’s breath hitches as Meredith begins kissing her palm.

“Why not?” she whispers, turning Addison’s hand in hers to kiss her knuckles.

“Because it isn't right," Addison breathes.

Oh, Meredith forgot for a moment that Addison is married. She almost chuckles in pain at the thought. Then again, Addison keeps forgetting she’s married too so maybe it doesn’t fucking matter.

"It feels pretty right," Meredith leans in to press a soft kiss against Addison’s neck.

Addison suddenly pulls her towards the bed. She takes a seat at the edge and tugs Meredith down next to her. Meredith feels a spark in her belly as she leans forward to kiss Addison’s mouth, only for her to duck her face aside. It feels like a slap to the face, snapping her out of her haze of desire. She leans in again but Addison holds her cheek to keep her in place.

“Don’t you want me?” Meredith hears herself whisper. She resents the sheer neediness of her tone, the way her hands begin to shake and the stupid fucking tears she just can’t manage to blink away.

“Meredith, I do,” Addison’s breath hitches as she drops to her knees in front of her, “God, you don’t even know- ”

Her grip tightens on Meredith’s hands as she rubs them between hers to calm her down. Meredith hates that it works.

“Meredith,” Addison tugs at their joined hands until Meredith meets her eyes, “I care about you. Very much.”

“So you’re just going to leave me?” Meredith chuckles mirthlessly. She hates how bitter she sounds, how utterly desperate.

There is nothing to leave when nothing ever existed. There is nothing to fucking leave when one emotionally charged kiss was all there ever was, when eleven years of marriage are waiting on the other side. There is no comparison when the choice is so simple.

She can do this. She knows how to do this, she knows how to fuck and forget. It's what she always does. It's what Addison wants, and she’d give Addison anything.

“Meredith, I’m right here,” Addison releases Meredith’s hands to brush away the hair falling around her face. Meredith stops herself from leaning into her touch.

“It won’t be the same,” Meredith sighs.

“We’ll still be friends! Nothing has to change, please,” Addison’s fingers stop their combing to grasp Meredith’s face instead, gently tilting it to face hers.

Meredith can see the swirls of blue and green in Addison’s eyes this up close. She can also see the red-rimmed edges and the smudged mascara and the pleading, tired look.

It makes sense. It makes all the fucking sense in the world to nip this in the bud before it can grow into something neither of them can control anymore.

She slowly nods. She is blowing this out of proportion and if Addison is too polite to call it a fucking mistake then Meredith should just stop too. People leave her, she is used to it by now.Fuck, her own father didn’t want her. It’s not Addison’s fault that Meredith has attachment issues, that she runs hot and cold and remains starved for love. It’s not Addison’s fault either that Meredith had a sexuality crisis at twenty-seven because of one fucking kiss.

"I don't want to lose you, please, Meredith,” Addison looks up at her and Meredith takes in the open desperation of her tone.

She wants to laugh out loud, wants to tell Addison that she can do any fucking thing in the world and she still won’t lose Meredith. Instead, she just nods.

Eventually it will stop hurting. It always does. She will stop feeling this all-consuming wave of affection and lust and dare she say, love. Eventually, Addison will go back to New York and she’ll just be one more person who left. Meredith tells herself once again that she is being overdramatic, that her ex’s formerly estranged wife who kissed her senseless after she almost died telling her that they shouldn’t be more than just friends is the most sensible thing that has happened all week.

However, it doesn’t change the fact that Addison can never be just her friend now, not when Meredith knows the scent of her neck and the taste of her lips. Addison can never be another face in a litany of people Meredith knew and forgot, and Meredith, with every part of her being, does not want Addison to be another person who walks away.

“So we’re going to walk out of here and pretend you didn’t lose your shit seeing me in danger and we never kissed and I never fucked myself thinking of you-,” she pauses simply to enjoy Addison’s sharp intake of breath before continuing, “And you’re just my attending who I share a dog with?”

Addison gulps and her eyes are slightly rimmed red as she nods slowly.

Meredith holds out her hand to Addison. She grabs it and hoists herself up. Meredith lets her hand linger in Addison’s before pulling away. She reaches up to wipe the bled out mascara around Addison’s eyes and combs her hair into something presentable.

“I’m sorry, I-” Addison says softly as she fixes Meredith’s hair.

“Stop apologizing,” Meredith interrupts her, “I was the one who started it. I’m sorry."

She hardly fucking sorry for any of it besides the clear discomfort Addison is in.

“No, you-” Addison begins again.

“Addison, it’s fine,” Meredith stops her again, “We’re good.”

Addison nods, looking unconvinced but Meredith is tired and just want to go home, She internally groans thinking about the hours upon hours she still has left, hours and hours she will spend being the same person she was before the bomb, who was numb to her own feelings and believed she was in love with a man who didn’t give her the time of day.

She unlocks the door and steps out, Addison closely behind her. She worries for a moment that someone might notice, but then she remembers that no one knows or even cares at this point. No one would suspect a thing because Addison is married and Meredith is a boy-crazy whore and they’re just friends. She hates the sound of the fucking word by now.

She knows it was the sensible thing to do, that Addison was right as she follows her for post-op rounds. She stifles the flutter in her belly when Addison turns around to look at her. She stares at the folder in her hand instead of the way Addison’s hair curls down her back. She absorbs only the medicine Addison teaches and ignores the curve of her mouth and sparkle in her eye.

It's never going to be the same again, she tells herself as she explains a patient's charts to Addison. She'll be half in love and half in lust and Addison will always be completely fucking fine.