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the seven stages of intoxication

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Meredith is thinking about steaks and wine and sex when it happens.

"Meredith, I'm so sorry."

"Huh?" she turns to face Derek, confused. Sorry about what?

She follows his gaze to see it fixed on a woman with fiery red hair who seems to be walking towards them. She looks back at Derek to see a strange mixture of annoyance and fear on his face. What is happening?

The woman reaches them and she exchanges a few words with a clearly pissed Derek, completely ignoring Meredith's presence. Meredith listens in growing confusion about Derek not picking up the phone and the woman flying in to see him. She realizes how awkwardly she's been staring when the woman turns from Derek and faces Meredith. She smiles and extends her hand.

"Hi, I'm Addison Shepherd."

"Shepherd?" Meredith stutters, taking the woman's (ridiculously soft) hand, her confusion multiplying by the second. A fleeting thought passes her mind but it's so terrible and Derek would never...

"And you must be the woman who's been screwing my husband."

Meredith's brain short-circuits: the extended, perfectly manicured hand still in her own, the nonchalant tone, and the entirely, achingly familiar last name.

Husband. Husband.

The woman, Derek's wife, her brain helpfully supplies, just stares at her with an amused, almost pitiful expression and Meredith's face burns.

She says it with such conviction that She looks helplessly at Derek but he is suddenly enamored by the waiting area seats so she just has to stand there praying that a hole will suck her into the floor, or a car will smash into the glass windows and hit her.

She has never felt more embarrassed. She wants to scream at Derek and just ask him why . Why can't something just go right in her life without something shitty to go with it? It's fucking humiliating. Sure, Meredith is no prude; she has had her fair share of unfortunate relationships and awkward breakups. But being on the brink of falling in love with a wonderful man and his estranged, supermodel-looking wife suddenly walking up to her and introducing herself has never been a scenario she could have imagined in her wildest dreams.

"Uh..." Meredith begins. Her brain hurts. She doesn't even know what to say. Apologize? Scream? She just wants to fucking cry.

"Meredith, I am so sorry," she hears Derek say as he brushes his hand against Meredith's elbow. She bristles and pulls back. She's still staring at his wife.

"You didn't know?" the woman chortles, her green eyes piercing into Meredith's. She then looks at Derek with the same amused expression. "Didn't know you had it in you."

Meredith's head keeps spinning. She needs to leave before she can humiliate herself further by passing out or throwing up all over Addison's undoubtedly designer shoes.

Addison. Saying her name makes it even more real. Meredith feels sick.

"Uh, I'm so sorry," she manages to let out. (To Addison, only to her. Derek can just... ugh!) "I should leave."

She hears Derek say her name again but she pays no heed as she dashes out the hospital building as decently possible, shame and anger (oh, the anger) bubbling in her chest, her eyes stinging with unshed tears. Derek can go to fucking hell. Addison can go to hell too, really, for ruining a perfectly normal night and making Meredith now deal with an array of emotions she wasn't prepared for. Her mind fixates on the woman and her burning red hair and her sharp eyes and she feels another wave of guilt and anger and so many other feelings she can't identify. Feelings are exhausting.

She ends up at Joe's (big surprise!) and tries whining to Cristina over drinks but then Cristina turns out be pregnant with Burke's baby and in a crisis of her own so Meredith shuts up about her love life and let's Cristina talk instead. Or not talk and just sit in comforting silence and drink.

She's hungover the next morning but she tells herself that Chief Webber is certainly not going to sympathize if he sees insufficient work hours from her, and she reluctantly gets dressed and forces herself to go to work.

Derek tries to approach her but she tells him to leave. Her feelings for him cannot disappear overnight and frankly speaking, she's not entirely sure she wants them to. But she also can't stand to see him knowing he lied about having a wife. She avoids him for the rest of the day.

She spends the next couple of days moping around before Cristina slaps her out of her pity party and restores some semblance of sense. McDreamy is a lying cheat. (And for fuck's sake, stop calling him McDreamy.)

The entire hospital probably knows what happened. Meredith feels the nasty looks people throw her way. Or pitiful ones, although those are few. She and Derek weren’t exactly a secret, but seriously, people have no subtlety or respect for privacy in this place.

****

It's over a chocolate chip cupcake George brought her that Meredith officially hears about it.

A resident is telling her friend about the new Chief of OB/Gyn. Her name is Dr. Montgomery-Shepherd and she's a neonatal surgeon and she's fucking awesome, apparently. Double board certified! Oh, and she's Dr. Shepherd's wife!

Meredith's stomach churns. Of course, Derek Shepherd's wife couldn't be just out of a Vogue cover, she also had to be a brilliant surgeon who saves little babies. Yeah, fuck her.

Chapter Text

“Grey, Dr. Montgomery-Shepherd requested you today.” Dr. Bailey’s voice rings aloud in the surrounding hospital bustle.

Fucking great. Wait, requested? Meredith knew she’d have to face her sooner or later because of rotations but why would Addison ask to see her?

Meredith feels all the interns' eyes on her. She pretends to not realize their glaring interest (or judgement) as Dr. Bailey hands her the patient charts. Meredith quickly grasps them and hurries away. All she can think of is how uncomfortable this is going to be and she’s completely certain Addison will take out some of her pent up anger by making Meredith do some nasty procedure.

She is going down a hallway to the elevator when she sees Addison talking to Dr. Burke. Great, Derek is there too. Mini husband-wife-mistress reunion it is then.

"I was just checking to see if Doctor Burke secured the-"

"The intern you requested." Meredith finishes for Addison as she approaches the three doctors.

They all look at her; Burke with an amused expression, Derek with a startled one (Fuck him, honestly.) but it's Addison's challenging eyes and the amused curve of her mouth that Meredith is actually interested in. She stands tall and meets Addison's gaze. Yeah, she's the hospital whore and all but Meredith still has some pride left in her. Addison doesn't intimidate her. (Yes, she does.) She doesn't.

Addison's smirk breaks into a slight smile at Derek's exasperated huff as he walks away. Meredith had almost forgotten he was there. Progress, she tells herself. Addison turns around (her hair is curled again and it's such a pretty shade of red? Meredith hates her.) and starts walking towards the elevator. Meredith follows.

The elevator is packed but Addison doesn't seem to mind as she stands next to Meredith, their shoulders occasionally brushing. She is wearing the salmon pink scrubs that Meredith secretly finds so pretty. It feels like forever before the elevator chimes and they step off. Meredith feels everyone staring at them as they walk to the first patient's room. Or just her, most likely. Everyone just feels sorry for Addison, who seems utterly unbothered. (Seriously, Meredith needs to ask her for lessons in staying calm. That might not go very calmly, though. Hah.)

Meredith breathes in before entering the room, her charts in hand, ready to combat any attack Addison makes her way. Instead, it’s the patient who attacks her instead. Meredith prepares herself for Addison to side with the woman but instead Addison ends up bluntly defending Meredith and recognizing her innocence (Holy fuck, it was Addison who cheated?) and Meredith just cannot hate a woman who is good and who made a mistake and is trying her best to fix it, as much as said fixing hurts her own self in turn. It feels strange to think of Addison as anything beyond the one-dimensional wrecker of Meredith’s perfect romance but it’s really hard to hold onto the hurt her arrival caused when she’s the only person treating Meredith decently.

The rest of the day goes surprisingly well. Cristina and Izzie look constantly prepared to talk shit about Addison should Meredith want to, but she just feels conflicted and guilty about the whole situation.

She’s on Addison’s service the next day too. Dr. Bailey (bless her) is the only person who could care less but Meredith still gets strange glances from everyone else. She wants to scream at them to mind their own fucking business but she just hurries off to OB/Gyn instead.

“Dr. Grey,” Addison nods, smiling politely, as Meredith walks into the patient’s room.

“Morning, Dr. Shep- Mon- Montgomery-Shepherd,” Meredith stutters.

Great, now Addison thinks she stole her husband and she’s dumb. She feels herself turning red when Addison looks at her with a slightly amused expression. She clears her throat and begins presenting. Meredith knows she isn’t incompetent. She’s actually very competent and a quick learner and so besides the initial name disaster, working with Addison is very easy, pleasant almost. Addison turns out to be a very good teacher. (She's good at everything. It's not fair and Meredith hates it.) She's patient and constantly quizzes Meredith on techniques and facts and genuinely seems to care about Meredith learning as much as possible.

It isn't as surprising when Meredith really thinks about it because Addison is one of the best surgeons in the country and she's classy as hell and she doesn't let anything affect that. Not even someone sleeping with her husband, apparently. Yesterday feels like a haze and she keeps thinking about Addison’s confession and Derek’s innocence but it leaves a bad taste in her mouth nonetheless. Meredith was lied to no matter who slept with whom first.

It starts off with glances, whatever this mutual understanding of sorts is. Their entire dynamic so far has been awkwardly exchanged glances and pleasantries (Addison probably, no, definitely hates her but she's too well-bred and too professional to ever let it show). She catches Addison looking at her and she gives a small smile because what the fuck else can she do? Addison cautiously starts returning her smiles the third time Meredith gives her one. It’s stunning, she’s stunning. Meredith tries her best to hate her back, but Addison is kind and smart and treats Meredith better than Meredith ever would her husband's mistress, so she just feels guilty the entire week she’s on Addison’s service.

****

“Grey, you’re with Doctor Shepherd,” Bailey announces.

Meredith feels all the interns staring at her yet again. This too was bound to happen. She tries to appear nonchalant as she takes the charts from Bailey and starts walking up the stairs, carefully stepping because tripping in front of the entire hospital is just what she needs right now. Her stomach churns. She doesn’t want to face Derek, not so soon.

She glances at the file in her hand only to realize that it’s the other Dr. Shepherd she’s supposed to report to. Meredith feels an instant pang of relief as she changes her route to head towards the OB/Gyn wing. She chalks the relief to plain nervousness and anger towards Derek and ignores why she’d rather spend the day with his wife instead. Sure, Addison is kinder and infinitely more humble about her own genius but shouldn’t Meredith want to not have to interact with her? It confuses her already sleep-deprived intern brain so she decides to go through the case file instead.

Meredith finds Addison in the NICU. She’s sitting on a rocking chair with a tiny blue bundle in her arms, gently rocking as she whispers to him. Meredith feels like she’s intruding on such a gentle moment, but before she can back out into the hall Addison looks up and motions at her to come inside. She holds the baby up as Meredith quietly approaches them.

“Good morning, Dr. Grey! How are you today?” she whispers, holding the infant’s tiny wrist and gently waving his hand at Meredith.

Meredith chuckles. She feels her heart squeeze as she watches Addison resume mumbling to the baby. She just stands there with the charts and she does not realize what a dopey smile she’s sporting until Addison looks up again and asks her something.

Meredith shakes out of the undeniably adorable little scene she was so immersed in. “I’m sorry?”

“Who are we starting with today?” Addison asks.

Oh. Meredith fumbles a little as she opens the file in her hand and begins reading. Addison hums softly as she continues rocking the baby.

Addison finally puts the little boy back in his incubator and takes off the pink disposable gown. She accidentally messes the back of her perfectly (seriously, how does she have the fucking time?) coiled hair and Meredith feels a ridiculous urge to pat it back into place. Instead, she curls her fists and almost laughs at the silly thought.

“Uh, ready to go?” Meredith asks, “Your slightly older patients need you now.”

Addison flashes a grin and Meredith feels a flutter in her stomach. Why is Addison perpetually in a good mood? Ridiculous.

“They’re not half as interesting as these little ones,” Addison amusedly sighs.

Meredith just smiles in agreement. Suddenly, she does not want to see kind, human Addison who defends Meredith. She wants Satan or devil incarnate or something of that sort Addison, because she is so much easier to handle. Human Addison who has entire conversations with the newborns she saves is another story. Why couldn’t she have been some stuck-up bitch who Meredith could easily treat like shit? Fuck, ugh.

****

Meredith ends up on Addison's service more days than not. She doesn't think Addison specifically requests her because who in their right mind wants to spend an entire day with their husband's (ex) mistress? She almost asks but Dr. Bailey’s glare before she has even opened her mouth shuts her right up. It doesn’t matter though because by her third week with her Meredith has picked up on Addison's little quirks and habits and they work well together in the OR and Addison, out of all people, does not once treat her like a slut who slept with a married man. Meredith could cry at the irony of it all.

Addison is funny too, as if she's not already an entire fucking catch. She randomly says things that make Meredith snort and they exchange knowing glances like they're friends. It's weird and pleasant and Meredith ignores the tingle in her stomach when Addison smirks at Meredith's retorts. Addison brings her coffee whenever Meredith has a long shift and sometimes Addison asks about her day and Meredith can tell that she's not just trying to make small talk. And so they start talking beyond just little jokes and medicine. Meredith tells her about her broken coffee machine and complains about George and Izzie and Addison laughs and sympathizes and tells her about Naomi and Sam and Mark and her own residency days.

Addison religiously avoids any stories that have Derek in them and the one time his name slips out, she quickly diverts the story back to Archer and it hits Meredith that they are friends now. Derek Shepherd's adulterous wife and his mistress are friends now, unexpected as it is, and Meredith kind of wishes she could just extract Derek from the entire equation.

She wishes she could be Addison's friend just because they like spending time together and not because Addison was thrust into this love triangle thing and had to play nice with Meredith (Probably just to not piss Derek off. It pisses Meredith off how everything seems to be about Derek lately and how she can't let go of him too.)

Maybe she and Addison could go to Joe's and do shots and talk shit about work and life and no, stop, this is weird and they're just unlikely friends who work together and that is it.

Meredith needs to stop getting attached to people three seconds after getting to know them. Addison is nice to her, but Addison is nice to everyone. (But Addison doesn't make jokes with everyone, though? She doesn't tell the other interns about Naomi and Sam and Mark. She’s nice to them, sure, but she doesn’t talk to them like she does with Meredith.)

God, her fucking head hurts. Derek can fuck off. Meredith can be friends with his wife or ex-wife or whoever the fuck she wants.

Chapter Text

Ellis made her promise, swear upon her life, all but sign an NDA that Meredith will let no one ever know about her illness. Meredith keeps her word and it's fucking lonely and she hates lying to the Chief but she knows Ellis and her pride.

It's all going perfectly until Ellis Grey shows up at Seattle Grace, screaming bloody murder as the staff hold her down. It's surreal watching two parts of her life that she had so successfully separated in her mind suddenly intertwined.

It's painful and so fucking scary to see her mother so drastically unsure of her surroundings and Meredith does all she can to stay away from her room. She throws herself into work and pretends she doesn't notice the pitiful looks people pass her.

Addison is too decent to even mention the entire ordeal in the lobby. Meredith is grateful for the normalcy. They do rounds as usual, and then she scrubs in on two CDH repairs. Meredith notices Addison put her wedding ring on when they've scrubbed out. It feels like a punch to the gut.

Addison gets her a coffee and Meredith could hug her. She just thanks her instead. They sit in comfortable silence on a gurney outside OR 1 as Meredith slowly sips her drink and Addison softly taps on the file cover in her lap.

She is on Addison's service again when Ellis is finally discharged. Addison gets her a coffee again and this time Meredith hugs her. She feels Addison stiffen for a moment, but then she relaxes and tightens her grip around Meredith's waist. Meredith closes her eyes. She doesn't know how long they stand there like that until Addison's pager goes off and they both step away. Meredith is close behind her as they rush to the ER.

****

Meredith tries not to lean against the elevator wall and pictures the piping hot cup of coffee she'll have in her hands soon. She really needs to sleep more. She's contemplating a revised sleeping schedule when Addison rushes into the elevator, followed closely by Derek. Good fucking morning, alright.

Meredith is suddenly awake. The awkwardness crackling in the air might be to blame. Addison gives her a smile far too bright for how early it is but Meredith returns it anyway. Derek looks at her too, with sad blue eyes that still make Meredith's stomach flop. She curses herself as she breaks eye contact to stare at the floor number display instead.

It's pretty fucking obvious she can't go back to Derek. Not with Addison being her friend and not with Derek himself following Addison around like a puppy. If he'd just keep his helpless expressions to himself, Meredith thinks she might actually stop thinking about him altogether. She avoids looking at them both when the elevator dings and walks right out.

She mopes around most of the day. She thinks of Derek looking at her like that, of Addison's perfume engulfing her when she held Meredith outside the OR, how Meredith will never be anyone's first choice, how Derek will never come back to her and tell her that going to Addison was the biggest mistake of his life and that it's Meredith whom he wants and it's Meredith whom he loves and how she won't be alone anymore, but then Cristina's fallopian tube fucking explodes and suddenly Meredith doesn't give a shit about who ends up with who as long as Cristina is okay.

She rushes into the OR but Addison doesn't let her scrub in. She wants to scream and beg to let her stay with Cristina but Addison gives her a look that warrants no arguments and a firm but reassuring "I've got this, Meredith." and she has no choice but to sit outside and wait.

It feels like days before Dr. Bailey informs her that Cristina is okay and that she's in a room now. Meredith could collapse with relief alone. She almost takes off to see Cristina but she realizes she needs to see someone else before.

Meredith anxiously waits outside the scrub room. It takes a couple minutes before Addison steps out of there and Meredith simply throws herself at her. Addison startles for a moment, just like last time (Meredith's briefly wonders if Addison is so deprived of physical affection that even a simple hug takes a few moments to register.) Addison then softens in Meredith's arms and pulls her closer and every thought just vanishes from Meredith's mind.

"Thank you, thank you, thank you," Meredith whispers.

"Just doing my job, Grey," Addison replies, rubbing Meredith's back, "She'll be fine."

Meredith nods as she steps away, realizing that she's probably suffocating the poor woman who just saved her best friend's life.

"Take the day off. Go be with her," Addison says firmly. Then she smiles softly, "Doctor's orders."

Meredith feels another burst of relief and so, so much appreciation and gratitude for Addison. She would willingly have her heart broken a million times over again if it meant Addison would be here to save Cristina. She wants to hug her again but she's already crossed that boundary twice, so she resorts to a firm nod and an almost teary "Thank you, Ad- Dr. Montgomery."

She feels Addison's eyes on her as she rushes down the hall to get to Cristina's room.

****

Meredith sees Addison with Derek one morning. (It fucking stings.) She smiles at him with so much love that Meredith's stomach churns. She ignores it. She is hit with the reminder that Addison isn't here to become Meredith's friend. She's here to take her husband back. It hurts in so many ways because Meredith apparently kind of still likes Derek but more because Addison is kind of her friend now and she doesn't want to lose that.

It doesn't matter that on the days Meredith is on another attending's service she still ends up looking for Addison, even if it's just a glimpse of her across a hall or in an OR. Sometimes Addison looks up to the gallery and she meets Meredith's eyes and then Meredith meets her outside when she's done and they talk about the surgery and Meredith makes an inappropriate joke to make Addison laugh and she does.

Meredith likes Addison's laugh, how her bright green eyes crinkle and shine with mirth and how her usually stern mouth turns upwards into a grin and it's so, so obvious who Derek will choose that it takes Meredith's breath away.

She watches Addison slip on her wedding ring after they've scrubbed out. She doesn't realize that she has been staring until Addison's voice pulls her back to reality.

"Grey, you okay?" Addison looks at her with so much concern, Meredith hates her for a moment.

"Yeah, don't worry." Meredith grins, hoping Addison will believe her.

Addison nods, but she doesn't look entirely convinced.

They walk down to the cafeteria together and Meredith can smell the jasmine of Addison's shampoo and she realizes that maybe she is still in love with Derek and Addison is absolutely perfect and Meredith hates being second best and for once, for once in her life, she just wants to be the first choice.

She excuses herself and leaves a confused Addison behind as she rushes off to find Derek. She doesn't want to be alone. She doesn't want to be alone and unloved. He has to choose her. She cannot be like Ellis. She finds him in Radiology. He looks surprised to see her. She swallows her pride and begs Derek to love her.

He chooses Addison. He gives Meredith the sort of sigh adults give a child throwing a tantrum and tells her that Addison is his wife. He goes home with her and comes to work with her. She is the one who carries his name. He won't leave her. Of course, he won't. What the fuck was she thinking? He won't leave Addison, not for fucking Meredith. It still hurts all the same.

Meredith goes home and drowns herself in tequila and cries and cries, but a small part of her doesn't even blame him. Addison is funny and pretty and she has great hair and maybe someday she'll give him babies who’ll have super duper great hair. She hopes the babies take on Addison's though, because she has the perfect shade of red and Meredith likes it when she lets them loose. God, she needs more tequila.

Fuck McDreamy and his perfect wife and her perfect red hair.

Chapter Text

Meredith is hungover the next day at work and avoids both Derek and Addison like the plague. She is going to collect scans when she sees a flash of red hair across the hall and her stupid brain suddenly recalls thinking about the same hair at last night's pity party. Meredith's stomach hurts and she turns back to take a different route to the lab. She hands over the scans to her attending and then more hands are needed in the pit for an incoming trauma and she thankfully doesn't get another moment to think about anything besides gnarly wounds.

It’s only a few more days until her plans of reclusiveness are ended. She gathers with the other interns to receive her assignment for the day but all she can focus on is Addison laughing with a nurse behind Dr. Bailey. She looks… vibrant, happier. Meredith feels her chest burn.

"Grey, you're with Dr. Montgomery."

Addison turns around from the nurse she was talking to and mumbles something in Dr. Bailey's ear. She nods and announces, "Karev, you're with Dr. Montgomery. Grey, you're with Dr. Burke."

Meredith wonders if Derek told Addison about her falling to his feet for his love. Because if so, Addison is giving her the most blatant fuck you of all time. Like Derek rejecting her wasn't enough humiliation, now Addison openly wants nothing to do with her. Fucking perfect.

Meredith sighs and collects the charts from Dr. Bailey. She looks at Addison but suddenly there's something awfully intriguing about the pen in her hand and the woman refuses to even look up, let alone meet Meredith's eyes. It angers Meredith and she wants to drop the charts and grab Addison’s shoulders and shake. Instead, she walks away.

Meredith glances in Addison's direction before she gets on the elevator and there she is, laughing at something undoubtedly dumb Alex said. Meredith feels a surge of rage that she can't explain so she just steps in the elevator and closes her eyes till she hears the familiar ding.

The rest of the day passes by rather dull. Burke is brilliant but kind of pompous. Then again, she's dealt with Derek Shepherd pompous, so Preston Burke pompous is a piece of cake to handle.

She scrubs in a surgery Cristina would kill for and tells her all about it over lunch. She goes home to see find the comforting smell of vanilla cupcakes floating throughout the house. She says hi to Izzie, grabs a couple cupcakes, goes up to her room and eats them over a medical journal.

She reads without absorbing a single word because her stupid brain refuses to stop thinking about Addison and Derek in their little trailer in the woods. She shuts the journal and lies down, pressing a pillow over her head and tries to count to ten and back. She fails.

****

The next morning is dull, and so are the day and night. Derek glances at her again, his eyes sad, and she wants to go to him and just... what? What is she going to say to him? Throw away her barely existent dignity in front of him once again? Tell him to leave Addison? Kind, smart, perfect Addison? It's pathetic, how much she has let her happiness depend on a boy.

"Mer, honestly?" Cristina’s sigh interrupts her thoughts.

"What?" Meredith returns, knowing full well what's about to come.

"This!" she exclaims, waving her arms around. "This whole puppy-eyed thing every time you see Derek!"

"I don't-" Meredith begins with indignation. She doesn't want Derek, she just... she doesn't even know what she wants.

"Yes, you do," Cristina cuts her off. Then her eyes soften," I know it sucks. I know he chose her over you, but he has made his choice. You have to move on, Mer. It's over."

Meredith bursts into tears. She hasn’t cried since the night Derek picked Addison and a fucking dam explodes again, every pent up emotion spilling out. Cristina rubs her back and Meredith leans onto her shoulder. They sit on a gurney and Meredith sobs.

Eventually, she tires herself out and Cristina gets her tissues. Meredith is fixing herself when her pager goes off. Fucking fantastic. It's Addison.

Cristina takes a look at it and rolls her eyes. She volunteers to go instead. Meredith knows she doesn't deserve Cristina but she is so grateful to have her anyways. Meredith ties up her hair, pats away the wrinkles in her scrubs and heads off to the ER.

She has just sent a patient for an MRI scan when Cristina marches over to her.

“She was in a fucking mood, alright,” Cristina scoffs.

“Who was?”

“Dr. Shepherd, who else?” she replies.

Meredith snorts. She feels strange hearing Addison referred to as Dr. Shepherd because she has slowly become just Addison in her mind; Addison who cracks up at her bad jokes, who knows what it’s like to have shitty parents, whose hugs are the warmest Meredith has ever felt.

She misses her. She misses her so much and it's confusing and messes with her head but she decides to forget about the Shepherds and focus on her career and her friends and be happy on her own.

It works for a week or so, until Bailey puts her on Addison's service (and Addison doesn’t try to escape) and three seconds of being in her presence has Meredith back to wanting to be friends again. It's awkward at first (Meredith hadn't noticed as yet how endearingly awkward Addison, with all her natural air of confidence, can be) but the world class surgeon in Addison jumps out and she starts acting like nothing ever happened, like Meredith did not actively try to steal Addison’s husband, like Addison did not ignore her for days. Meredith is glad for it anyway. A part of her is still disappointed because they aren't really talking and Addison isn't laughing at her attempts at humor the way she used to. She hates Derek in that moment.

She knows that she should just accept the fact that everything is different now and move on. More days pass and soon seeing Derek around doesn't hurt as much as Addison's lack of attention towards her. She can feel the friendship she and Addison had forged dwindling into pleasantries again because Addison is awkward and Meredith's heart hurts even though she knows Derek chose the right woman. It also hurts how he has not only taken Meredith's trust and love but he has also taken Addison away from her.

Meredith knows it's stupid because it's not like they were best friends but now Addison treats her like any other intern, like they didn't spend weeks sharing stories (Meredith told Addison all about her mother, for fuck's sake), like all that ever connected them was Derek and now that he has made his decision, Meredith doesn't mean shit. She sees Addison throw her head back in laughter after he whispers something in her ear and Meredith wants to smash her head into a wall or maybe smash his because she wants to be the one who whispers things to Addison that make her shake with laughter and she wants her arms around Addison's waist.

Derek can't take her away from Meredith, it's not fair. He can't break her heart and then take away her friend too. She won't let him. She decides right then that she's going to request Dr. Bailey to put her on Addison's service again and this time Meredith will fix things, actually make Addison talk to her beyond pleasantries. She can hear Cristina's voice in her head questioning the dignity in asking your ex-boyfriend's wife whom he cheated on with you to be your friend again, but Meredith guesses her dignity went down the drain when she practically begged Derek for his love and was rejected so she might as well try to salvage this friendship.

****

She and Izzie adopt a dog together. Doc is the sweetest little thing and she likes to joke about how he's the only man for her (except it is probably not a joke anymore considering her love life.)

As it turns out, Doc, like every other man in her life, is trouble. She brushes off George’s and Izzie's complaints at first, but soon Meredith realizes that she needs to change his living arrangements, even if he's the most adorable being she has ever known. She thinks of a solution and before she knows it, her big, brilliant surgeon brain has her knocking at the Shepherds' trailer, Doc in tow.

Meredith is bent down, fussing over Doc's collar when Addison opens the door, looking visibly confused. She's wearing sweatpants and a Yale sweatshirt, with her hair pulled up in a bun, and she looks so utterly soft that Meredith's heart aches.

“Meredith! What are you doing here?” Addison looks so confused, it’s almost comical.

“I know you don’t want to see me but can we talk? It’s kinda urgent.” Meredith asks, patting Doc to keep him calm. Sure, it’s no medical emergency but it is urgent when your dog pees on your bed and terrifies the life out of your roommates (and maybe marching here directly will finally make Addison see her again.)

“I do want to- are you okay? Are you hurt?” Addison instantly frets.

“I’m okay!” Meredith quickly reassures her. She ignores the flutter Addison’s sigh of relief gives her.

“Well, come on in.” Addison motions towards her to step inside.

Meredith ties Doc’s leash outside the trailer and enters. This is the first time she’s been inside, she realizes.

“Coffee?” Addison asks.

Meredith nods. Addison pours and holds out a mug for her. Meredith reaches out to grab it. Her fingers brush Addison’s and she feels her pull back instantly. Meredith feels strangely hurt.

“What’s going on?” Addison inquires as soon as they’ve both settled across each other.

She takes a sip of her coffee and looks at Meredith with a soft smile. Meredith almost wants to tell her what’s really going on, wants to ask her why the fuck they don’t talk anymore, why Addison would have Alex on her service and not Meredith. Instead, she takes a deep breath and decides to stick to the plan.

“It’s uh- just a question I wanted to ask. A proposal,” she begins.

"Honestly, Meredith, at least ask a girl out to dinner first." Addison smirks, and Meredith's brain short-circuits because of course Addison would make jokes like that while sitting in her own husband's trailer. She kind of doesn't give a shit like that.

"Can't really ask anything if the girl likes to pretend you're invisible." Meredith hears herself respond. It sounds bitter and desperate and where the fuck did that even come from? Addison sighs, putting her mug down.

Meredith notices the instant change in atmosphere and she regrets saying anything. Well, not regret, because Addison really ought to hear how she feels but they were just starting to have a normal, possibly pleasant time after so long and now Meredith has made it uncomfortable.

“I’m sorry. Seriously, what is it?” Addison asks, picking up her mug and taking a small sip.

Meredith again stifles the urge to bring up the weeks of explanations Addison owes her (Does she, though?) and instead she tells her the entire story of Doc and her friends and her idea that really doesn’t sound very intelligent when she says it aloud.

"So," Addison finally says, "You want me to adopt your dog? And he'll be yours too? We'll be co-owning a dog?"

Great, Meredith feels completely ridiculous now. Coming to Addison of all people to ask if she would adopt her dog? What if Derek had opened the door? What was she thinking?

"Uh, yeah, basically. I mean, unless you don't want to, of course, that's alright. I was just thinking-"

"I'll do it. I mean, he can stay here. Der- Yes, he can stay," Addison says.

Meredith sighs with relief. Her coffee isn’t hot anymore when she finally sips it but it doesn’t matter because Addison is smiling at her like before again and talking about a dog she had as a child and in this moment, everything is okay again.

****

Meredith often drops by the trailer to see him and if Addison just happens to be home every time she stops by then that is just a coincidence. One morning, Meredith shows up at the trailer to pick up Doc just as Addison is leaving to go on a run with him, so she proposes Meredith join her. It quickly turns into a routine, taking Doc out on walks together.

Meredith counts them. The first walk is in comfortable silence, with leaves crunching under their feet and birds chirping around them. On the second walk Addison apologizes for having been distant and Meredith tells her that it’s okay, they’re okay. Addison’s eyes shine. She keeps gushing to Meredith about Doc on the third walk, and Meredith tells all his terrorizing tales in return. By the fourth walk they are talking about everything under the sun again and Meredith feels like she could burst from how much she had missed it.

Meredith has lost count but it’s a Sunday morning when they decide to sit and watch the sunrise. Addison pulls Doc into her lap even though he is far too big now. She settles next to Addison and Doc shuffles until he is resting between them. Meredith lazily scratches behind his ears as they watch the horizon. She feels Addison’s fingers unconsciously brush against hers as she pets Doc. She pauses instantly and Meredith expects Addison to snatch her hand away like last time but she looks at Meredith instead and lets her hand stay. Meredith stills too. Addison’s eyes look tired, but she still looks pretty. She always looks so pretty. The early morning sunlight illuminates her face and Meredith feels breathless in a way she cannot explain.

Doc gently grumbles between them and Meredith looks away. She refuses to think of Addison’s bare ring finger or how her hair glows in the light or how fucking green her eyes are. She looks back at the steadily lightening sky. She feels safe, alive as she inhales the crisp morning air. She closes her eyes and feels the warmth of Addison’s hand on hers.

Chapter Text

“You’re a natural, Meredith,” Addison hums as she unknots her scrub cap, “You’ll shine in whichever specialty you end up choosing.”

Meredith flushes and mutters a thank you at the unexpected compliment. She had expressed her anxiety a few days earlier at not having a singular interest yet and Addison had reassured her that she had a lot of time to experiment and discover herself. Meredith is pleasantly surprised that Addison had remembered the conversation.

She washes her hands and glances over to see Addison drying hers. She isn’t wearing her rings again. She hasn’t been for a while now and Meredith is dying with curiosity at this point, but like fuck is she ever going to ask. It doesn’t matter. She has Addison again; to talk to, to walk Doc with, to tell crappy jokes, to learn from, and that is more than enough. Her marriage is none of Meredith’s business.

“I’ve got another one of these tomorrow, should you be interested,” Addison mentions as they exit out into the hall.

She stops and turns to look at Meredith, arms crossed, head tilted, with a mischievous smile on her face that could make Meredith do anything.

“If you’ll have me,” Meredith grins, fisting her suddenly clammy palms at her sides.

“I most certainly will, Dr. Grey,” Addison grins.

****

Meredith wakes up with a ridiculously strong feeling that she is going to die today. She refuses to get out of bed until Izzie calls Cristina who, because of course she won't, refuses to coddle her and drags her ass to work.

She is in the (unusually quiet) OR when a woman comes screaming in and then there's a fucking bomb in a patient's body and Meredith doesn't think twice before her hand is entering his chest and grabbing it and then she's frozen. She’s fucking frozen in place while her mind goes a mile a minute thinking about every decision she has ever made that has led to her holding a bomb in a man's chest and she literally cannot move or everyone blows up and she really, really should think sometimes before she makes decisions.

But she's a doctor and she saves lives and this is just that, so she ignores her panicked surroundings and focuses all her senses on the wet feeling of the metal in her hand and on staying still.

She is slowly walking next to the gurney down the OR floor when she sees Addison. Her scrub cap is still on and her eyes are red-rimmed and Meredith's chest squeezes because something made Addison cry. Their eyes meet and Meredith sees fear and anger flash all over Addison's face and oh, she's worried about her. George stands next to Addison, awkwardly patting her shoulder and Meredith attempts a grin to let her know that she is okay but it only seems to make Addison angrier. Her eyes become shiny again before she turns around and marches off, leaving a confused George behind.

Meredith wants to go after her but she is kind of occupied at the moment and now she has one more reason why she needs to absolutely survive transporting this man to the OR. They finally reach the damn room and Meredith feels like she can breathe again when she manages to safely extract her hand and step away.

She exits the OR, intent on washing her hands raw and going to see Addison. She glances back and sees Dylan holding the extracted bomb when there's a deafening sound, and dust, so much dust in her eyes and her mouth and everything goes black.

****

She wakes up in an ER bed with Cristina and Izzie hovering above her. They help prop her up and check her vitals and then they take her to the intern lounge and help her wash off the dust and the blood. She feels numb. Cristina says something about the water temperature and all Meredith can do is stare at nothing and just let her two best friends in the whole world fret over her.

Her skin feels raw and her scrubs are soaked through by the time she steps out of the shower. She changes back into her own clothes and she feels like a different person in them. The Meredith of this morning feels so far away. She wishes she had just fought Cristina off and stayed home, because now there's this new Meredith who just got of a bomb explosion alive and who is so exhausted that she could drop dead from just that. (She probably should tone down the death jokes for a while.)

Her friends don't leave her side and Meredith nods her wellbeing to everyone who approaches her on the way to the parking lot. The drive home is quiet. Izzie tries to start a conversation but she probably senses that Meredith just wants to be alone with her thoughts so she turns on the radio instead. Some unfamiliar song fills the silence as Meredith gazes out the window at the Seattle night sky.

Her thoughts drift to Addison and her teary, angry eyes. She should probably call and tell her that she's okay but she doesn't know where her phone is. She'll just tell her tomorrow. They reach home and she promises Cristina, Izzie and George that she's fine and that she'll call them if she needs anything. Izzie and George head up to their rooms and Cristina reluctantly agrees to goes home.

Meredith drags herself to the kitchen and slumps down on a chair. The doorbell rings. She almost ignores it but it rings again so she groans and gets up, calling out that she’s coming. There's a fleeting thought in her mind that it's her mother and she's okay and somehow knows that Meredith isn't so she came to see her. She takes a only a second to indulge before snapping back to reality because no amount of wishing will ever fix Ellis and no amount of wishing will take Meredith back to this morning and never go to work in the first place.

She opens the door and oh fuck, Addison is standing in front of her. Meredith feels a surge of worry, guilt, happiness, reliefand it makes her head spin. (And here she thought she was emotionally burnt out for the day.)

She grabs Addison’s wrist and tugs her inside. Meredith suddenly wants water so she beckons her to the kitchen. She takes a seat at the table, patting the chair next to her. Addison walks up to it almost reluctantly and sits down. She watches Meredith sip her water. Her face is unreadable when she meets Meredith's gaze. Meredith puts down her glass and faces her.

Suddenly, Addison’s eyes are filling up with tears and her face crumples.

"You almost died today," she chokes out.

Meredith's breath catches. She notices her smudged eyeliner and fuck she has already cried before she came over. Addison brings her hand up and strokes Meredith's cheek. Her hand brushes over the cut and she's so, so gentle Meredith wants to cry. She tries to mumble something instead of wordlessly staring at Addison but then she's tucking Meredith's hair behind her ears and her eyes are still shiny and Meredith just closes her eyes and lets Addison touch her.

It feels intimate, nothing like when Cristina hugged her or when Izzie brushed her hair. It's... sensual, Meredith realizes. And strangely comforting.

She opens her eyes. Addison is still looking at her but now her eyes are wider and Meredith always knew they were gorgeous but this close up she can now see an intricate blend of blue and green that she could willingly get lost in. Addison's eyes flicker to Meredith's mouth and it's only for a second but Meredith catches her.

She is wearing the pretty burgundy lipstick again and God, all Meredith wants to kiss it off her lips. Oh, fuck. Oh, fucking fuck. She wants to kiss Addison. Addison.. Her friend. Oh, and who also happens to be fixing her marriage with the man Meredith was in love with. Addison, who is probably the worst choice to want to kiss.

But Addison is here right now and she's so soft with her touches in a way no man has ever been and she's so fucking pretty and she cried because she thought Meredith was in danger and no, Addison is not a bad choice. She could never be a bad choice because all she is is kind and thoughtful and funny and Meredith feels a hurricane of butterflies in her stomach just thinking about Addison’s lips meeting hers, and so she does just that.

She leans into the space between them and she brushes her mouth against Addison's and it's electric. She pulls back and opens her eyes to see confusion etched across Addison's face and oh crap, she just ruined everything and Addison is going to walk out of here and she'll be left alone once again-

Addison grabs her face and pulls Meredith back in, pressing her lips against her and gently coaxing her mouth open. Meredith complies and Addison slips her tongue inside and Holy Mother of... Addison is unlawfully good with her mouth. It really isn't fair how she can do literally everything but in this case, Meredith feels like quite the lucky one.

Addison's kisses grow desperate as she pulls Meredith up with her. Meredith props herself up on the kitchen table and then Addison is between her legs, her hands softly running up and down Meredith's bruised back. The only thing not gentle are the kisses she's giving her and Meredith basks in the sweeping of tongue and clashing of teeth and if the bomb didn't kill her, Addison's lips pecking and nipping at her jaw and throat definitely will.

Meredith moans as Addison bites just above her collarbone and then licks it to soothe the skin and Meredith hopes she leaves a mark because she wants to remember this. Of course, she will remember this regardless, forever, but the physical reminder that Addison Montgomery had her splayed across her kitchen table and ravaged her with kisses is something Meredith wants with her as long as she can.

Addison's hands find Meredith's and she intertwines their fingers. Meredith's hips buck against Addison because she desperately wants some contact and Addison is the biggest tease in the world and just won't touch her where Meredith needs her most. Her hands flutter at the hem of Meredith's shirt and at Meredith's enthusiastic nod of consent, she pushes it up and her lips brush against Meredith's stomach.

Addison's mouth is so soft and her kisses are gentle again because her stomach is bruised in places and Meredith feels a lump in her throat. She swallows it back to focus on the almost ticklish sensation and runs her fingers through the red hair splayed across her stomach.

She wants Addison so badly. It's overwhelming, the level of need she feels. Meredith has always been enthusiastic about sex, but right now she could just about explode from the anticipation. (Again, tone down her use of metaphors.) She's panting as Addison's fingers brush over her breasts as she places soft kisses all over Meredith's belly and God, she wishes Addison would just tear the whole thing off.

Meredith wants to watch her but it feels so nice, so comforting to just lay back and feel. The kisses and the brushing suddenly stop and Meredith opens her eyes to look up at Addison waiting, her fingers ghosting over the button of Meredith's jeans. Meredith gives a desperate nod of consent and she watches Addison unbutton her jeans and tug them off of her legs.

She really wishes she had worn panties sexier than her current white cotton ones but then she sees Addison's eyes grow darker as she runs them over her bare legs and it's okay because Addison is gripping Meredith's thighs and pushing her legs apart and settling between them. She starts kissing and nipping at the inside of her thighs and all Meredith can do it grip the edges of the table and pray nobody hears her moaning Addison's name.

She stops again, fuck no, and looks up with her fingers brushing the edge of Meredith's panties and yes, fuck yes. Addison Montgomery is going to eat Meredith Grey out on a kitchen table in a house she shares with two other friends, hours after she almost blew up to shreds and yes, this is officially the craziest day of Meredith's entire life.

She whispers a frantic yes and Addison is instantly hooking her fingers into the waistband, her eyes locked into Meredith's, and Meredith is lifting her hips so Addison can pull it off, oh fuck, fuck, fuck-

A loud crash pierces through the air and Addison freezes. George's apologies can be heard; something about a coat rack and getting water. Addison is a much faster thinker apparently, because she pulls Meredith up and picks up her jeans from the floor. Damn it, George. Damn. It.

They can hear George still struggling with whatever fell in the hall when Addison bends down and places a soft kiss on Meredith's mouth, tugging at her bottom lip.

"Tell him you came down for water. I'll see you later, good night."

And with that she slips out the kitchen and Meredith hears the front door close just as George makes his way into the kitchen. She realizes she's half naked and holding her jeans when George gawks and blushes before looking away. She mumbles something about water and slips out of the kitchen while George stands glued to the spot.

****

Meredith enters her bedroom, throws the wretched pair of jeans across a chair and goes to the bathroom. She leans against the sink and stares in the mirror. Her hair is ruffled and her chest is flushed and she can feel Addison’s perfume faintly lingering on her. She runs a finger over the marks Addison’s lipstick left on her body. Her throat feels dry.

She ignores the wetness between her thighs as she sheds off her clothes and steps into the shower. The hot water soothes her back, her shoulders and she sighs. She lathers her hair and scrubs herself up and lets the water wash it all away. Part of her regrets that she won’t smell like Addison anymore. Addison. Meredith feels a sudden pulse of heat between her legs.

She closes her eyes and pictures Addison’s fingers tugging at her hair. She wants to feel Addison’s hands all over her, to have her fingers buried inside Meredith, her husky voice in her ears.

Meredith leans against the cool tiles as she slips a hand between her thighs. She thinks of Addison’s mouth on her breasts, imagines it’s her hand fucking her. She thinks of the taste of her lips, the way she had licked and bit and kissed her way down Meredith’s body, how she was on her knees between Meredith’s legs, so close to where Meredith was ready to beg her to touch and lick and fuck and-

Meredith gasps and opens her eyes as her body shudders and clenches around her fingers. She feels a rush of warmth, then a sudden, creeping coldness.

It’s almost utilitarian, how she pulls out, washes herself and steps out just as the steam begins to feel suffocating. She wraps a towel around herself and walks out of the bathroom. The adrenaline rush is gone by the time she slips on a T-shirt and underwear and collapses under the covers.

The magnitude of what just happened finally hits her. She almost had sex with Addison and then fucked herself thinking about it and she still can’t stop thinking about it, about her. She could have died today and there are so many things she has never even known. Sure, she has kissed girls after a tequila shot too many and she has quite the sex life but fuck, if she has ever felt the electricity Addison’s touch sent through her body, the desperation to feel her, to be consumed by her.

She thinks of wistfully staring at Addison with Derek and it hits her that it’s her that she wants. It’s Addison, with her sparkling eyes and charming smile and soft hugs, with her astonishing kindness, her tongue-in-cheek humor and her gentleness that Meredith has wanted all along.

It’s a disarming realization, one that squeezes Meredith’s chest and leaves her breathless. She turns to her side and curls in on herself. Fuck, months upon months of banter and early morning walks and coffee and understanding glances, months of what Meredith had so dumbly told herself was wanting a friend (when she had Cristina and Izzie already) has all led to this explosion of repressed desire.

She thinks of the first time she hugged Addison outside the OR, how her body had fit so perfectly against Meredith’s, how she was warm and soft and smelled of jasmine and Meredith just couldn’t let go. She thinks of Addison’s hair blowing in the early morning breeze and how Meredith always wants to brush it back, how she always wishes Addison would hold her hand again for no fucking reason.

She turns again till she’s flat on her back and stares at the ceiling. Her eyelids begin to feel heavy. God, she’s a fucking idiot. She needs to see Addison and… what will she even say? Hey, you almost fucked me on my kitchen table and it made me realize how badly I’ve wanted you all along so would you be interested in having sex? Also, I think I love you. (What?) Meredith doesn’t love Addison, no, that’s too deep and Meredith is already too confused to even think more about it. She should ask Cristina, she fuzzily thinks before she drifts off.

She dreams of red hair tangled with blonde, of soft sighs and fervent kisses.

She wakes up the next morning with an ache in her chest.

Chapter Text

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.