Who knew this heart could break this hard
Or a love like ours could fall apart
Without so much as a warning
I thought that I was what you wanted
Well I guess you found what you were looking for
I guess my heart ain't worth it anymore
'm a wreck, I'm a mess
And I ain't got nothing left
And so I hope you're happy now
- I hope you're happy now, Carly Pearce & Lee Brice
It was a joke. It had to be a fucking joke. Though even she had the admit that it was one of the cruelest jokes of her entire life. She couldn’t believe it - A fucking letter . All their history, from over eager intern and attending, to finally being friends, being roommates, to becoming something a lot more profound , to starting a somewhat rocky, up and down relationship, to finally becoming husband and wife and all the trials and tribulations that came with that.
The only explanation Jo was getting from Alex ghosting her was in the form of a fucking letter? Wasn’t she worth more than that to him? Wasn’t she worth more than being treated like scum on the bottom of a fucking shoe?
“Jo,” Link’s voice pulled her out of her reverie.
Jo angrily swiped the tears away and turned her face away from Link. She hadn’t wanted him to stick around while she read the letter; but he had anyway. A part of her hated him for it; but a part of her appreciated his presence nonetheless.
She threw the papers down and pushed back from the table. She swiftly stood up and put her lab coat back on. Jo closed her eyes, practiced her breathing and shoved all her thoughts and feelings about Alex and his damn letter away.
As she turned to face Link, she opened her eyes. “I’m fine.”
Link raised his eyebrow in response. He didn’t say anything; but Jo knew that he didn’t believe her. He knew her too damn well.
Jo reached over, grabbed the papers, scrunched them up and shoved them in the pocket of her white coat. She couldn’t afford to be distracted by them now. She also didn’t want to accidentally leave them somewhere, have someone find them and ask her about them.
She didn’t want to talk about her damn feelings.
Jo made to shove past him. “I have a surgery that I need to get to.”
Link held out his arm and moved to step in front of her. She was thankful that he never grabbed her whenever she walked away. “Jo…”
All it took was the way he said her name for tears to start welling in her eyes and she had to take another breath. She steeled herself. “Link I really do have a surgery. I don’t have the time.”
“Just, please don’t hide in your head,” he pleaded, blue eyes so full of concern she almost hated that she was being so stubborn. “I just - I know you’re strong but I don’t want you falling back into that state again.”
He didn’t mention it specially but they both knew what he was talking about. Her depression state. Jo had fought like her to get through that, well fought everyone who tried to help her at first; but in the end, she had fought it and she won the first battle. She was still fighting the war, she was fighting it every damn day.
She’d be fighting it every day for the rest of her life.
Jo placed a hand on his upper arm. “We’ll talk later, okay.”
Over a week later, Jo was standing in the middle of the loft, staring down at the envelope and papers in her head. She numb, frozen. She couldn’t believe it. Alex said he’d signed them but a small and pathetic part of didn’t actually believe it. She couldn't. After everything they’ve been through, everything they’ve overcome, this couldn’t be how they ended.
This couldn’t be the end of her and Alex’s journey.
It wasn’t until she felt a comforting hand on her arm that she was pulled out of her trance. She closed her eyes and shook her head, before turning towards Levi.
His head was titled and he was staring at her with so much concern that it broke her already fragile exterior. The papers slipped from her grasp and she started crying. Everything that she had been holding in for the past few weeks, everything she’d shied away from, pushed so far down inside she thought it was gone. Everything she didn’t want to deal with calm tumbling out.
She felt Levi’s arms wrap around her and drag her to the couch. She let herself fall into the cushions, staring ahead at the wall, not really noticing what was happening. A blanket was being wrapped around her shoulders and a comforting hand rested on her knee.
“Jo?” Levi said, tentatively, softly as if she was a dear he didn’t want to startle.
She just stared at the wall through her tears. She didn’t want to speak, she just wanted everything to stop.
“Just breathe, Jo, just breathe.”
Jo closed her eyes, trying to concentrate on her breaths. Slowly she breathed in through her nose, holding it for a few seconds before releasing it through her mouth. Jo repeated the process a few more times, following Levi’s words of encouragement.
Eventually the sobs stopped, the hiccups went away and the tears stopped falling. She swiped the remaining tears off her face, angrily. Almost as if she was mad at herself for crying. Pissed at the fact that she let a man have this much control over her.
She was pissed that a man had this much effect on her. She made a promise to herself that she wouldn’t allow that to happen again, yet here she was. Losing herself.
“Do you want to talk?” Levi started hesitantly. “Or we can just order pizza and watch some trashy movies with hot men.”
Jo let out a laugh, she laughed and laughed, almost hysterically for a few minutes before coming back to herself.
Leave it to Levi .
“Yeah, let’s do that,” she said, her voice scratchy from the crying and the laughing.
Levi nodded and stood up to grab his phone. She watched him as he walked across the floor, coming to a stop at the papers she dropped. He reached over and picked them up, leaving them on the end table without a second glance at them.
Jo appreciated him not mentioning it, willing to ignore the situation as much as she wanted to. She was glad that he wasn’t forcing her to talk about it, and was instead giving her a distraction.
She was starting to actually like the fact that she offered half the space to Levi. It was so much better than having to deal with this shit alone - even if she was technically not opening up to him. .
Jo sat at a table in the back of the little dive bar she found on pure chance because she needed an escape, a hideout. She was well away from everyone else, drowning her sorrows with Vodka, knowing it wasn’t the best decision she could be making. But it was the best she had and honestly, she didn’t really care anymore.
She wanted the distraction, she wanted the escape from the shit going on in her life, she didn’t want to feel pain anymore.
Honestly, feeling numb was a lot better than feeling pain.
She closed her eyes and took a shoot, feeling the burn as the liquid slid down her throat. A part of her wanted to kick herself for being so stupid, for allowing herself to open up, to start to believe that love could be real - to believe that she could be loved.
Brick by brick Alex had torn down all the walls she built up. He had knocked through all her defensives, wormed his way under her skin, into her heart. He made her believe in love again. He made her believe that men weren’t just going to use her, abuse her.
Jo had been running her entire life, never really having a place in the world. Never really feeling like she actually fit in. But she had finally found a home. It wasn’t just a place, it was a person, friends, a damn good job, the idea of a future .
And Alex shit on everything.
Leaving town, claiming to be going to see his mother. Avoiding her texts, her calls, her voicemails.
Then Link had given her that letter. A shitty fucking letter.
Jo scoffed. She still couldn’t believe that Alex had ended things in a fucking letter. She had given him eight years of her life and the other thing he could spare was a written half assed explanation?
You shouldn’t have come here.
She knew it was kind of pathetic, probably more than a little stalkerish. A half drunk, midnight action had led her to purchasing a plane ticket. The next thing she knew, she was on a fucking plane to Kansas.
The return address was on the letter .
She kept telling herself that, while she was driving to the airport, while she was going through security, when she was boarding the plane, unboarding the plane. She kept repeating it to herself like a mantra through her entire journey to this middle of nowhere town.
She didn’t even tell anyone where she was going or what she was doing. She just requested a few days off and Tom didn’t even question it. Everyone knew what happened, they all just assumed she needed time.
The time off was actually just that. Time away from the hospital, where she could just hide under the covers for two days, away from the watchful eyes of every doctor, nurse and intern in the hospital. Jo was getting tired of being gawked at like she was some animal at a zoo. She was done with the pitiful stares, the whispers, the concerned gazes as if she was a fragile piece of art that was going to break down.
She had just wanted a break from the hospital. She never imagined she’d end up in Kansas.
Yet, here she was, probably making one of the dumbest decisions of her entire life. Though it seemed as if she was always making stupid choices when it came to Alex.
Jo instantly regretted it the second she pulled up in front of the small farmhouse, not because she was afraid of getting caught; but because of the sight she saw when she stopped. She felt her breathe leave her and her chest tightening. It was like a punch to the gut.
She saw two kids, a boy and a girl, running around the small front yard, laughing and yelling. What hit her the most was the scene on the porch, Alex and Izzie were sitting on a swing, watching the kids. Their kids.
Jo had driven away as soon as Alex’s gaze fell on her rental car.
She had stopped at the first bar she came to.
She pulled out her phone and opened her contacts, his name was always the first one. Jo took a deep breath before taking the plunge.
She paced back and forth at the edge of the long drive, she really shouldn’t have done this. Her nerves were at an all time high. She was close to saying fuck it all, get into her car and drive the airport. She had a few hours left before her flight back to Seattle; but she didn’t mind just hiding out in the airport for those hours. It would probably be less nerve wracking than this.
Just as she was about to get back in the car, she heard footsteps. She almost didn’t want to turn and meet his gaze. But she steeled herself and forced her head to turn.
He looked exactly the same as the last time she saw him. She knew it would be ridiculous if he had a drastic change; but even still, she wondered. Jo was shocked he even responded to her text; she wasn't expecting him to. She was expecting him to keep ghosting her and continue acting like she never existed.
Yet, here he was. Standing at the end of the gravel driveway with those eyes.
Keep it together, Wilson .
She shook her head, no, no that sounded wrong. She knew she wasn’t keeping Karev; but she didn’t want to go back to Wilson. Although that was a hurdle for another day.
“This was a mistake,” she spoke and she cringed at the sound of her voice, the desperation, the defeat. When had she become so weak?
She closed her eyes and willed the coming tears away. She would not cry in front of him, he didn’t deserve the right to see her so vulnerable. Not anymore.
When she opened her eyes again, she was stone.
“A letter? A fucking letter? That’s how we end?” Jo started and soon the words wouldn’t stop coming. “You broke down my walls Alex. You made me believe again, you made me fall in love with everything about you; the way you cared about others, about your patients, me. You were always there when I needed a friend, you’ve always been there for me. We’ve been through so much and the only thing I get is a letter and divorce papers?
“You once told me the only place you were going was home with me. Yet, you ended up leaving me, ghosting me, and treating me like trash. You don’t even have the balls to face me, to tell me the truth? You just want to throw me away like garbage? Treat me just like every other man ever has?”
She held up a hand when he tried to talk, she wasn’t done.
“I deserve better than everything you’ve put me through.” Jo took a deep breath and then continued. “I hope you finally got what you wanted and I hope you’re happy now. I just wished that I was enough.”
She moved her hand towards her left ring finger, she slipped off her wedding set. Jo gripped it in her hand before tossing them in the dirt at Alex’s feet. “Give them to Izzie if you want to, I don’t care...I’ll sign the papers first thing when I get back home and file them. You’ll be done with me soon enough.”
“I never asked for this, Jo.”
She gave a sad, bitter smile. “Yeah, me neither. I thought I had finally found a guy who wasn’t a piece of shit.”
She walked around to the driver’s side of her car. “Your kids are cute, by the way. Treat them well. At least be the man you claim to want to be and give them the childhood we never had.”
Jo slipped into her car and sped off, leaving Alex and their history in the dirt.
The following Monday was just as mundane as any other day at Grey-Sloan. She started off her morning the same she always did; coffee at home while she got ready, shoving some toast down her mouth as she was out the door.
The only difference that Monday was signing her divorce papers and sending them to an attorney.
Everything else was still exactly the same. There were still concerned looks and whispers; but it seemed as if Jo was no longer the center of attention. Some other circle sideshow had taken the reins.
The rest of the hospital was too busy worrying about Doctor Webber to pay her any mind anyway. She was almost grateful - as fucked up as that sounded.
“Are you okay?” Link asked, setting down his tray and taking a seat next to her.
Jo sighed, a chip halfway to her mouth. She dropped her hand and turned to look at him. She scrunched her nose and bit her lip. “Please don’t judge me.”
Link held up his hand in a mock salute. “Scout’s honor.”
Jo rolled her eyes. “You’re lucky you were actually a scout.”
“I mean it, this is a no judgement zone,” he gestured around their table.
“What would you say if I told you that I went to Kansas,” she closed an eye and leaned back, waiting on his response.
Link was dumbfounded as he looked at her. “Kansas? As in Alex’s Kansas?”
“He doesn’t own the state, Link. But yeah, I saw Alex.”
“And you’re not going to flip out? You’re not going to lose it. You’re fine?”
Jo nodded. “I’m fine. Like really fine, better than I thought I would be afterwards… I wasn’t even planning on going. I was on a plane before I even fully registered what I was doing. But seeing him, talking to him - or more like, ripping him a new one. I think it was exactly what I needed. The closure I wouldn’t have gotten if I hadn’t.”
“Did he say anything?”
“I barely let him get a word out before I threw my rings at him, made a snide comment about giving them to Izzie and driving off.”
Link responded with a laugh.
Jo punched him in the shoulder. “It’s not funny.”
He raised his holding, holding his thumb and index finger half an inch apart. “You’ve got to admit, it’s a little funny… I mean, who would have thought you’d be the woman to fly to another state just to yell at her ex.”
“I don’t regret it… I thought I would; seeing him in his new life - with Izzie and their kids. But I don’t.”
Link looked at her while she spoke, not pushing, just giving her the time and space she needed. “I meant what I said. I’ll rise so high that I’ll make him a fool for ever having left me… I’m going to own my career, I’m going to work my ass off and I’m going to make something out of my life. I’m going to be successful in work and in life - without him.”
Link reached over and grasped her wrist. “I’m so glad to see you so strong and content, after everything .”
He didn’t have to say anything else for Jo to know he meant Paul and her past, not only Alex. She smiled - for the first time in a long time, she was finally being given a chance to figure out who she was.
Not Brooke Sadler.
Not Josephine Karev.
No, she was finally going to be able to figure who Josephine was.