Work Header

Falling Apart, Barely Breathing

Chapter Text


Chapter 11: Break On Through, Part One



“Never have I everrrrrr-”  The ‘pregnant man’ begins, and the Interns grin widely before looking expectantly at a certain redhead Attending. 


“Dude, sweet! I love this game!” says Alex Karev.


“I’ll play, I’m so going to beat you though, Alex,” says George O’Malley.


“I’m going to beat all of you” Alex replies with a gruff.


“IN YOUR DREAMS, EVIL SPAWN”  Huffs Cristina in annoyance.


“Ooh, does Alex have all kinds of secret pain” Izzie teases.


“Well I’ve never played this game without any tequila before but I guess we can’t let’s all go to the bar right now, can we” Meredith nods.


“Come on Doctor Boss” The ‘pregnant man’ begs at Addison with puppy dog eyes. The results of my labs are going to take hours to come in, this way you keep me in a good mood and keep me company, and let’s be real if this is cancer then we know I’m dying. 


My partner died in an accident a few years back and I’ve been alone ever since. This is my dying wish for my doctors to play a little game with me. Can you do that?” he pleads.


“I’d like to reassure you that we’re doing everything we can to make sure you’re not ACTUALLY dying,” Addison says with a raise of her eyebrows. 



Addison’s first thought is that if he makes HER play TOO that she might reveal something that is a little too incriminating for her students to respect her ever again.


But the interns are looking at her with a look of concern, rather than just pure amusement. 


And silently, Addison realizes that they might be right. That this might be one of this man’s last good days if it IS cancer, and she doesn’t want to take that away from him.


She also thinks to herself this could both be a way to find out a whole lot more about her headfuck breakfast club that is Bailey’s group of Interns. Who she’s trying to win over.


“Alright just for a little while” Addison finally acquiesced. But not because you’re dying, but because I’m being supportive and compassionate. As your Doctor” she says with a smile.

And the look of pure joy and whimsy on all the interns faces when she says “yes”, just might make it all worth it already. 


“You’re the COOLEST, Doctor Montgomery” Meredith gushes to her with a genuine smile.


And Addison can’t help but bite the corner of her lips and blush just the teeniest bit at the compliment. 



No one notices this though-


(except for Cristina, who seems to always have her eyes firmly locked to Addison’s face whenever she talks to Meredith). 


(except for Meredith herself, who is inordinately pleased that she’s managed to give Doctor Montgomery a flash of happiness).


And the game begins to go on when the ‘pregnant man-patient- begins to raise all of his ten fingers in the air and ask them his first question.


“Never have I ever” he begins again, motioning for the others to show all their hands as well. “Never have I ever kissed a girl” he smirks lightly, mostly at Izzie, as he explains to them all that he’s queerer than a three-dollar-bill.


He guessed correctly about Izzie, because Izzie sheepishly puts down her thumb in annoyance. “Ugh, it was just a few dozen drunk makeouts at a frat party” she explained to the room. 


“Dude , that’s awesome ” Alex Karev doesn’t even seem to mind when he has to put his thumb down too. 


George looks up at Izzie then shifts uncomfortably, as he puts down his thumb too, clearly enjoying the thought. 


Cristina and Meredith both laugh with each other and say “College” in relevance to their phone conversation just the previous night as they put their thumbs down.


And even as Cristina is laughing, she can’t help but smirk at Addison, who is biting her lip even harder trying not to picture Meredith “in College” as sweeping images of lusty, naughty makeout sessions are flooding her imagination right now and flustering her more. 



Once they are both done laughing, everyone in the room now - especially Meredith and Cristina - are looking at Addison expectantly but none of her fingers budge at all.


“What?” she asks them honestly. She wasn’t actually lying, she had not ever kissed a woman before. Ever. 


“Wait where did YOU go to college? Were you the only woman THERE???” blurts out Izzie.


“I went to Yale for my undergrad, Columbia for med school” Addison answers simply. 


“And what kind of parties did you not get invited to then?” Cristina taunts her. 


“Hey, I was FUN! It’s just that I was never in a sorority. I was really serious about studies, and Derek, Mark, Sam and Naomi were all really close friends at the time and so we mostly just partied together at one of our apartments” Addison explained.


“So you and Naomi never…” Meredith trails off but her question is heavily implied. 


The flash of relief that washes through Meredith’s eyes is not lost on Cristina who is watching Meredith look at Addison as she starts to answer. This only makes Cristina smirk even wider.


And as Addison looks at them all, but mostly to Meredith (just because she’s the one who asked her that question, right…) she just says ‘no me and Naomi were never like that. We were both in relationships almost as soon as we met. We were happy back then, in the relationships, I mean… Addison trails off in a sigh of nostalgia. 

And she immediately regrets saying this because the brief look of pain that overtakes Meredith when she said she used to be happy while dating Derek makes her hurt more. 


But she misinterprets the meaning of that pain because when Meredith finally answers, she says to HER, “I’m sorry, Addison, again. I’m sorry.” and looks down.  


Addison thought that she was going to be upset about hearing about her and Derek’s good past but clearly she has been preoccupied in blaming herself for Addison’s divorce.


“Hey- Hey look at me Meredith” Addison says to her as Addison automatically places a hand on Meredith’s shoulder to soothe her. 


“Derek and I were over long before Seattle and long before you” Addison speaks softly. “We were over before I ever cheated on him with Mark. He was never home, I felt unwanted and I was looking for his attention in all the wrong ways. We were never going to work out anyhow”.


“You really don’t think it was all because of me?” Meredith looks up at her, a tear running all down her face. 

“Oh, no Meredith. It wasn’t all because of you. I was angry at Derek when I showed up and he had a girlfriend. But I wasn’t mad at YOU. You really didn’t know. He never told you - that’s on him” she says as she moves her hand to Meredith’s cheek to brush away all of her tears.


“Thank you Addison” Meredith says, using her first name for the first time since the night at the bar that she doesn’t remember. 


“I needed to hear that. I needed to know that. From you” Meredith looks up tenderly. 


“I’m sorry you never learned that sooner” Addison says, looking into Meredith’s eyes,


As Cristina sighs a sigh of exasperation because of the irony of the fact that Addison has probably told her that at least twice already while she was drunk,


And Addison shoots Cristina a harsh glare over Meredith’s shoulder, as she says “come here, girl” to Meredith as she pulls her in for a tight hug.


Meredith sobs a bit, but not as much as she had at the bar (because she is SOBER right now, of course, and she hadn’t JUST been abandoned by her McDreamy). 


And Addison holds her tight to her chest until she finally sinks in and nestles her head onto Addison’s shoulder, and Addison rubs aimless circles on her back and on her arms to help calm Meredith down. 



“It’s going to be okay, Addison,” Meredith says to her softly. “I thought that was supposed to be my line in this situation” Meredith only laughs as Addison does too. And they hold on tightly. 


Thank you , Addison” Meredith finally says to her, as she pulls away from her embrace and moves to sit back on her own chair again. 


And there’s a certain WEIGHT to her declaration of gratitude. A certain weight that has Addison flashing back to Meredith saying “Thank You” to her in the bathroom at Joe’s, off of Addison’s compliment but meaning to say it for all of Addison’s company. 


And as Addison shifts over to sit back into her own chair fully again, she has a brief sense of loss that the warm contact with the blonde intern had brought her. 


And she’s wondering, idly, if she’ll ever have a genuine reason to hug Meredith Grey again.


And Addison can tell now that she’s a million miles away because she snaps herself out of it before Meredith has the chance to read all of her cards right off of her face. 


And she sighs and Meredith smiles contentedly, as if the weight of the world had been lifted right off of her shoulders.


And Cristina is smiling at Addison now, while she also takes Meredith’s hand into her own to offer her some support. She’s smiling at Addison without the traces of a telltale smirk.


As if she were trying to send a telepathic message to her, as if Cristina is trying to tell Addison a silent “Thank-You” too, a “Thank-You” for helping out my friend again. For taking care of her. For telling her it’s not her fault. For telling her it’s going to be okay. For taking some of her pain away”...



And Addison chances one last look up at Meredith, who is tracing circles around Cristina’s hand with her thumb as she looks back up at Addison again. And says with a sudden force of determination. 


“No offense, Addison” she begins without stopping. “But your soon to be ex-husband is sort of an ass” Meredith finishes boldly. 


And there could be no more perfect statement that would bring Addison tumbling into tears from her fit of laughter that followed as she tries to squeeze out 


“None taken, Meredith, because he so IS!”. 


And once Meredith had joined in, the rest of the room felt comfortable following in their footsteps and laughing all along with them. 


And if the moment could not have gotten at all more perfect than it already had been, 


Derek, with the epitome of bad (or good, depending on who you were in this situation) timing, 


Decides to open the door right then and there to walk into a room full of doctors plus their patient all laughing hysterically at his own expense, unbeknownst to him. 



“They’re laughing at all the fake baby names we’re making up for my belly”


It’s the ‘pregnant-man-patient” who ends up saving all of their asses from total destruction.


“Oh, that IS funny” Derek says, flashing his trademark McDreamy smile along with a giggle. 


“What’s winning so far?” he asks genuinely, wanting to be a part of the jokes as well.


“Well we were thinking maybe McBaby,” Alex says without missing a beat. 

“Or maybe McBiggie, because look at that thing it’s just got to be HUGE” George follows along.


“I think I might call it McBigMac” the patient guffaws. “Who knows maybe it’s all my incessant eating that’s just given me this big belly” he laughs as he pats his stomach, making a joke at his own expense. 


And it makes all of them appreciate him so, so much more, as the patient who adds to their lives in a meaningful way. 


“McJesus” Izzie exclaims to them. “Look, we know it’s like a miraculous virgin birth,” Izzies says. And the full context of why this is so funny is lost on Derek who had not been there when the patient had admitted he had never, ever, kissed a woman in his life. But still, Derek laughs along anyhow. 



“How about McMedicalMystery?” Cristina says enthusiastically. 


“That’s like way too many names it’s like, WAY too long” Meredith exclaims to her, eyes crinkling as she admonishes Cristina in a joking manner. 


And Addison cannot help but flashback to the time that Meredith had drunkenly said the same thing to her . And how she’d just about had a fit when she told the girl that her name used to be “Doctor Addison Adrienne Forbes Montgomery-Shepherd”. 


But neither Meredith has the memory at the surface to share that moment with her again, nor had she actually told Cristina that particular tidbit of information, so Addison was in the clear for anyone finding out after her smiling at the way Meredith said that.


But Addison was also feeling just a bit lonely that she was missing out here on a chance to have had a pretty funny inside joke, to share along with just Meredith.


And speaking of Meredith, her contribution after studying the patient again is “McTeacher” she says with a dignified smile. “Because no matter what happens today, whether it’s really a baby or not, I learned more from this case than any others so far,” she says thoughtfully.


And the indirect compliment takes a long time to register in Addison’s mind, but once it finally does, she likes to think to herself that Meredith was implicitly calling HER the McTeacher. And that she’s the last one of Bailey’s interns to have finally, finally realized how unimportant it was to them to keep hating her. 


“You know if we get this thing out of me, I’m going to call it my McMiracle after you miracle workers” the patient adds into their joking again. But this time he’s genuine about all of his sentiment. And it reminds them how far they still have to go before they break on through to their solution.



“What do you think, Addie?” Derek calls her by her nickname, snapping her out of her reverie and to that Addison shoots Derek a very mean look as she glares at him. 


“I think it should be McMistake if it is a girl, and McBastard, if it’s a boy” Addison, shoots at him a little harsher than he would have liked. “I’m saying this because it’s clearly been causing our patient some serious pain right now,” Addison says to him with a frown. 

She’s making a reference to the interns right now, about how she knows that they call Derek McBastard behind his back and she’s basically insulting her soon to be ex-husband right in front of them. 


And it’s not the most professional thing she’s ever said, a far cry from it. But it shuts him up quick, and she thinks that the interns have earned it, that she’s earned it, and that he had it coming for him for bursting into the door and trying to be all McDreamy when he is calling her by a nickname she’s now only reserved for her best friends and he’s STILL staring at Meredith.


And Meredith is avoiding his gaze because she’s not really interested in his moves all right now, after what Addison said about his part in their breakup, and so she’s refusing to give Derek the satisfaction of laughing while looking at him at his joke. 


And the sight of that sort of makes Addison grin again, and soften at her edges from where she was mad before. And when Meredith finally does look up, it’s not at Derek but at Addison. And slowly but surely she’s starting to see why a man like Derek might fly across the country to try his best to get over from someone like Addison. 



Because from up close and personal, Addison-No-Longer-Shepherd, is really, really hard not to like.