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Falling Apart, Barely Breathing

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Chapter 3: Something to Talk About



“Just so you know ladies it’s the last call so if you want anything more to drink then ask me now, and after three-thirty, we close the bar so you’d best be calling yourself a cab by then so you’re not stuck outside in the rain,” Joe says softly as he’s sympathetic to both women’s plight.


“Do you want another?” Addison offers to Meredith. “I think I owe you one” She answers her own question and Addison motions for Joe for one last refill for both Meredith and herself. 


“You know this has been kind of nice” Meredith admits to Addison in her drunk and weary state. “You’re really not as bad as I wish you were” she sighs and Addison smiles softly at that and doesn’t press her to tell anything more about that.


“You’re not too terrible yourself” Addison sighs to herself. “Normally I don’t do my drinking with interns but normally I don't drink myself under the table either,” she says. 


“You’re getting a divorce,” Meredith says emphatically. “You’re allowed to drink yourself under the table for days if you want to,” she offers.


“I don’t think I want to drink myself under the table for days” Addison answers Meredith sympathetically. 



“The first time I was drunk for an entire two weeks the first time my mother didn’t remember me” Meredith sighs. 


“I’m sorry,” says Addison simply.


“Doctor Ellis Grey was not an easy woman,” says Meredith. “She was tough on everybody. Wanted them to only be ordinary so she could be extraordinary’ she says, or at least that’s the way it felt to me, being her daughter and all” Meredith concludes.


“My mother was not an easy woman either” Addison replies as she realizes she hasn’t really told many people that ever. “Bizzy Forbes,” Addison begins and Meredith is trying to wrap her head around whether or not she’s heard that name but she can’t place it right now. “She had the highest standards for our family as well. She would never let us cry in front of other people and she would never want us to cry outside of our rooms” she sighed. “And I guess I’ve picked up on that habit,” Addison says with a humph.


“Well I guess somehow we do have something to talk about,” says Meredith weakly.


“I guess we do,” says Addison, sounding sort of surprised at herself.


Meredith takes another gulp of her tequila now, not bothering to nurse the drink in tiny sips as Addison had been.


“Thank you for letting me know that I'm not a total washout for wasting all my time here staring at nothing as my name changes from Doctor Addison Adrianne Forbes Montgomery-Shepherd to Doctor Addison Adrianne Forbes Montgomery-Nothing” Addison sighs.


“Jesus, Addison! If I had a name that was that long I swear I’d be jumping for joy if I were losing the one at the end of it” Meredith exclaims before she can think better of saying something as absurd as what she just did say.


“Well you see my parents they wanted to hyphenate but then they never added the hyphen and the Adrienne part is only my middle name and most people don’t ever say that one out loud anyways and the Shepherd part was for Derek because we wanted to be all grown up and cool when we married and the Addison part is just for my first name” she explains. 


And Meredith swears she starts laughing alongside Addison because if that’s not the longest explanation she’s ever heard for an even longer name then she’s not sure she’ll be able to keep breathing if she hears about Addison’s drunken explanation about a deeper meaning of the “Forbes” and the “Montgomery” parts.


The laughing vibrates deep into their chests now and if there had been a ten-tonne stack of bricks that had hit them over the head earlier at least now it might feel like at least a few of them had been lifted up and away. 


As the laughter drifted off at its natural end, some of the sadness returned to their faces but not every once of it. 


Addison notices that the frown that had been working its way in Meredith’s forehead has been lessened. Meredith notices that the weary look in Addison’s eyes is no longer as worried as before.


When the frown returns in its full form Addison asks her right away, “Meredith what’s wrong” she says in the way a concerned friend might ask her.


“My friends are all going to ask if he came back to me the moment I walked through my front door” Meredith answers. “Unless they’ve gotten some super cool surgery which I think that they have not because neither of us has been paged then they’re going to be back at my house watching surgical tapes of my mother while waiting for me to come home and to tell them my McDreamy is my McDreamy again and I just -” Meredith’s voice breaks. 


“I just can't, ” Meredith concludes and Addison can tell that she really truly means it. 


“Hmm, I guess if it were me and I had to walk into a party at my own place right now either at the Hamptons or at the Brownstone then I guess I wouldn't be super thrilled about that one either” Addison offers.


“I just wish all the McDreamy talk and the Derek talk would just all wash away” Meredith sighs.”How did you let it all wash away?” Meredith says wistfully.


“I mean here you had my McDreamy and you walked in here all McHot - all leggy and fabulous and annoyingly kind and painfully smart and you’re really not easy to hate, you know! You save  babies. You saved my best friend. Hell, You’re even helping me, here; listening to all of my stupid McProblems with all the stupid McBoys and their stupid boy penises and I know you've got a lot going on right now - But I have to warn you that I’m very well aware that I’m a vapid narcissist when I’m drunk” Meredith rants.


“We’re over, Meredith” Addison confirms because apparently she has to again and she gestures to her blank ring finger so Meredith knows that she’s referring to herself and Derek.


“Yeah yeah you’re over and yada yada yada but here I am having to be comforted by you when I’m the one who so stupidly thought that this beautiful man could be in love with me and then that McBastard was McMarried and now I think I’m going to McVomit” Meredith yelps because that last one was not a euphemism at all.



“Ok, ok, ok” Addison rushes as she guides Meredith by a hand wrapped around her shoulders to the bathroom where she holds her hair as Meredith gets sick as Addison wraps her hair into a ponytail to keep it away from her face as rubs soothing circles around her back. 


“Ughhh,” Meredith says as she collapses on the bottom of the floor and she leans against the stall of the dirty bar bathroom with her eyes squeezed shut and a tear running down her face. 


“I hate this day,” Meredith says.


“I hate this day too,” Addison says.


And Addison props herself against the bar bathroom stall door and she keeps on rubbing the younger woman’s back as she wraps her arm around her bony shoulders.


“I’m lonely, I'm really fucking lonely,” Meredith says and it rips a tear all through Addison’s chest.


“I’m really fucking lonely, too,” Addison also says as she sighs and it makes Meredith want to soothe her worried look.


They sit there for a moment and they both independently consider becoming like, friends or “whatever” but then they think more of it and so they don’t say anything more. 


Wordlessly, Meredith picks herself off of her place on the floor and she begins to rinse out her mouth and wash her hands at the sink.


She’s looking into the mirror now and trying her damndest to make herself look like Meredith and Addison looks at Meredith in the mirror from where she’s now standing between the stall doors.



“You look okay, Grey” Addison offers and she can see how Meredith is smiling just a little bit back at her through the mirror. Meredith mulls these words over as she smoothes out her lipstick again. “Thanks” Meredith replies in a way that Addison knows she’s not just talking about the compliment, she’s talking about the evening and the hair holding and all of it.


“You look not too bad yourself Montgomery, for what it’s worth” Meredith offers back. She’s not so sure why she just called her ‘Montgomery’ but calling her “Doctor Addison Adrienne Forbes Montgomery-Nothing” right now just seemed like way too much of a chore and she wasn’t exactly on a first-name basis with her at all either. She wants somehow to call her simply “Addison” as her life depends on it but she knows that that’s not really on the table right now.


Addison takes it though without a deeper meaning to the use of her own last name at all. And now she’s just muttering a muted “Thanks” while she’s looking down at her shoes and sighing. 


Addison Adrienne Forbes Montgomery -  hiding behind the bad lighting inside of Joe’s bar bathroom and behind her shiny veneer of being almighty and formidable while she’s blushing a bit internally at Meredith Grey’s compliment - and she just can’t for the life of her figure out why... Yet.