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(A very, very late) Secret Santa for waltzmatildah!!

Title: Out of the ruins and into the light
Rating: PG
Pairing: Alex/Meredith with a little Derek/Addison (because it’s me. What do you expect?)
Summary: A sort of AU version of Season 2 told through the friendship of Alex and Meredith
Disclaimer: All television shows, movies, books, and other copyrighted material referred to in this work, and the characters, settings, and events thereof, are the properties of their respective owners. As this work is an interpretation of the original material and not for-profit, it constitutes fair use.
Author’s note: I’m so sorry this took so long, bb! I’ve never written Alex/Mer before (except as drabbles) so it was a bit challenging. I hope it’s somewhat okay!



“And I don't even know what kind of things I said, my mouth kept moving and my mind went dead, So I'm picking up the pieces, now where to begin? The hardest part of ending is starting again...”
~ “Waiting for the End,” Linkin Park



He drops down beside her and signals for a beer and a refill of her shot glass. He can smell the tequila on her breath from a foot away, but he sees something in her eyes, and it concerns him. Mostly for the fact that she isn’t concerned.

“So you’re sleeping with Shepherd,” he says.

“What?” Her eyes widen and she turns to stare at him, but she knows he knows and she can’t hide it.

“Is that really smart?”

She shrugs. “Probably not.”

“But you’re going to do it anyway.”

“I am.” She nods. “Going to do it anyway.”

She smiles at him. “Are you going to ask Izzie out?”

He smirks, rolls his eyes. “Why would I do that?”

She laughs. She knows. “I don’t know, Alex, why would you do that?”


______________



It becomes a pattern, a habit almost. When they’re not working, when she’s not with Derek, he knows where to find her. She doesn’t tell him much, but what she does say tells him everything.

She’s falling hard, even though she’s scared to death. She doesn’t do marriage or babies or white picket fences but he knows she’s picturing them anyway, and it’s terrifying to her.

It’s terrifying to him that he cares that she’s terrified. It’s terrifying to him that he even knows she’s terrified. He’s supposed to be the smart ass, the one who doesn’t care. And he tells himself he doesn’t.

Until the day her dreams are crushed in a blaze of fiery hair and 5-inch heels.

He knows where to find her, and she doesn’t disappoint.

“He’s an ass,” he greets her.

He signals for Joe and drops down beside her on a bar stool. She’s staring straight ahead, an empty shot glass and a half-filled bottle of tequila in reach.

“He’s married,” she moans. “He has a wife. A wife! A very beautiful wife. A very beautiful wife he didn’t tell me about.”

She refills her glass and throws back a shot. “My life sucks.”

“Like I said,” Alex says when she falls silent, taking a swig from his own beer. “He’s an ass.”

Meredith contemplates this for a second.

“You’re right,” she finally says. “He is an ass. A huge ass. A very huge ass.”

She takes another swig from the tequila bottle but pauses on her way to put it down.

“What?” he finally asks when she doesn’t move.

“If he’s such as ass, why do I feel this way? Shouldn’t I never want to see him again? Shouldn’t I never even want to hear his name? Shouldn’t I feel ashamed for even thinking we might have a chance?”

She puts down her glass. “We don’t, do we? Have a chance?”

Alex doesn’t answer. But he does pick up the tequila and hand it to her.


______________



She’s almost drunk by the time he arrives, having spent the better part of the day stuck in the pit.

She turns to look at him as he takes a seat beside her, then instantly turns back to her drink.

He studies her for a second.

“What did you do?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, What did you do?”

“I didn’t do anything.”

“Yes, you did.”

She sighs heavily, then slumps back on to her seat.

“I told him.”

“Told him?” He’s confused.

“I told him,” she repeats.

Realization dawns, but he doesn’t show it.

“Yeah, and?”

She downs a shot of tequila that has been sitting in front of her. “And it was the most humiliating experience of my life. Ever. And that’s saying a lot because I’ve been known to humiliate myself a time or two. Or three or four. But this … this takes the cake.”

Alex doesn’t interrupt, just nods. She continues.

“I could have just told him I love him. You know, something simple, something casual, something ordinary. Something a normal person would do. But no … no, I didn’t do that. Not at all. What did I do? I asked him to choose me, to pick me, to love me.”

He raises an eyebrow and she nods. “Yup. That’s what I said. Exactly. That’s what I asked. That’s it. Right there. That’s me.”

“Dude,” he says. “That sucks.”

“That it does.”

He doesn’t have to ask her what Derek said in return. He already knows the answer.


______________



He sometimes feels like he’s watching a horror movie disguised as a romantic comedy and it makes him want to hurt somebody. Well, not just somebody — a certain somebody.

He sees the looks he gives her, the smiles, and it makes his blood boil. She deserves better than him. In fact, they both do, but the worse part is he knows it’s heading for disaster and there’s nothing he can do to stop it.

She tells him all about it, or rather, she tells him little bits and lets him piece it together for himself. He knows about the dog and the walks in the park and the moments in the elevator. He knows why she starts dating the vet even if she doesn’t seem to.

And he knows that it’s not his place to say anything, so he doesn’t. He just listens, because that’s what he does.

So when she asks him one night if she’s making a mistake, he merely shrugs.

“It’s your life,” he says.

“Yup. It is,” she nods at this. “But I feel like I’m making a mistake. Am I making a mistake?”

“I dunno. Are you making a mistake?”

“It feels like I am.” She pauses and concentrates on her drink for a few moments. “I try to stay away from him. I should stay away from him. He, me, not a good combo. But, yet, we are. A good combo. Or I think we could be. I don’t know.”

She sighs. He shrugs.

“You gotta do what feels right.”

“He’s married.”

He shrugs again. He wants to tell her to stay far, far away, but it’s not his place, so instead he takes a swig of beer and replies. “He sure doesn’t act like it.”


______________



When the fall comes, he isn’t around to catch her. Not that he should have been. That has never been his job. But he always thought he would at least have been around to notice.

But it’s a bad day, a weird day, for everyone. And he’s worrying about Izzie and he doesn’t know what to do. Izzie won’t stop crying and Denny is dead and Izzie’s career might be ruined, and Burke has been shot, and it’s just one thing after another.

He needs a break, he needs an escape.

So he grabs a bottle of tequila, because beer sometimes isn’t strong enough, and escapes outside.

He hadn’t noticed she was missing, but there she is, chugging down her own half-empty bottle of liquid band-aid.

They sit in silence for awhile. He has a feeling, just by looking at her, that there is something more than Izzie and Burke that is wrong, but it’s never been his place to ask. She’ll talk when she’s ready.

An hour later she is.

She puts the tequila down and stares out into the darkness.

“It’s over. It’s all over. So over,” she says.

He doesn’t have to ask what she’s talking about.

She turns to look at him.

“I kissed him tonight.”

He nods. “Good for you.”

“Not really.” She takes another swig before continuing. “We were dancing, and he wouldn’t stop looking at me. I was with Finn, he was with her, but he wouldn’t stop. Looking. He just kept looking.

“So I followed him. He left the dance floor and I followed him. And he kissed me. We kissed. And there was fumbling and tongue … ”

“And I don’t need to know this.”

“And then there was nothing.”

“Huh?” He stares at her. He did not expect that.

“He stopped it. Said it was over. That we can’t do that. Can’t be that way. It’s just … over. All over.”

Alex doesn’t look at her but it’s coming together in his mind.

“He’s staying with her,” he finally says. It isn’t a question.

He can’t see her sad smile in the dark but he knows it’s there.

“She’s pregnant,” she says. “Addison’s pregnant.”


______________



There are many points in the next few months where he’s not sure she’s going to make it. It’s worse than the first time they broke up, even if it shouldn’t be. The others don’t really get it, but he does. He knows how it feels when all sense of hope is finally gone and there is nothing left. Reality sucks. It hurts to get slapped in the face by it, even when you knew it was coming.

There’s not much he can say, so he usually doesn’t say anything. He just sits there, hangs out, complains about how much more of a bitch the She-Shepherd is now that there are all these extra hormones. Sometimes she laughs at that, but then he sees her sometimes, stopping to watch them and he knows the pain is still raw.

Like now. He’s sitting with her up at the bar, but she’s only watching them, in a booth in the corner.

Derek’s actually acting like a husband these days, though Alex still notices the moments his eyes search the crowd for Meredith. Those are the moments Alex wishes he had never given up wrestling.

He watches Mer’s face as she watches Addison place a protective hand over her stomach. Addison is four months along now and it’s finally starting to become obvious.

Alex nudges Meredith’s shoulder and tries to joke. “They really shouldn’t let pregnant women in a bar anyway.”

Meredith turns to him and tries to smile, but it fails long before it ever fully forms. “Yeah …” she says softly and sighs.

He doesn’t know where the question comes from, but it’s out there before he can stop it. “Do you wish that was you?” he asks her.

“What?” she looks up in surprise. “No. No way. Not that. I wouldn’t want …” She gestures to Addison. “that.”

“You just want him.”

“No,” she says automatically, then again. “No. … Maybe … No. Not him.”

“Just the idea of him,” Alex says for her and she nods.

“Yeah,” she finally says. “Just the idea of him.”


______________



Because the universe seems to have a way of making sure the lives of Meredith, Derek, Addison and now Alex are forever entangled, Addison goes into labor four weeks early in the middle of the night while she, Alex and Meredith are working on an emergency case and a horrible thunderstorm is raging outside.

And because Derek has been at the trailer packing up the rest of their stuff to move into the house he and Addison had bought together a month earlier and the weather outside is in no way conducive to safe driving, Richard feels the need to insist that Alex and Meredith stay with Addison until Derek can get there.

And although that in itself would completely make for a horribly awkward couple hours, it is made even worse by the fact that the redheaded neonatal surgeon seems to have forgotten everything she knows about childbirth. She’s panicking and freaking out and in tears because Derek isn’t there, and the only thing they can do is hold her hand and try to keep her calm.

Alex and Meredith both breathe a sigh of relief when Derek finally shows up and they make to slip out of the room as quietly as possible, but before they can exit, they both turn around to look. Derek is sitting beside his wife, holding her hands in his, staring into her eyes, comforting her with his words, and for the first time, Alex sees it, and he knows Meredith does too.

It’s the scene of a couple in love.


______________



They sit in silence on the couch in the darkened living room, each sipping on a glass of tequila, lost in their own thoughts. She’s mourning the end of something that has been over for a long time and he’s wondering how he started caring so much about how other people feel.

“I want that,” she finally says into the silence.

He’s Alex so he smirks. “A baby?” he says.

“No.” She doesn’t even try to match his tone. “The way he makes her feel. Safe. And loved. That’s what I want. Someone to make me feel safe and loved.”

He doesn’t say anything. He’s not really sure what to say to that.

He feels her move closer to him on the couch, and he wonders why he suddenly feels almost anxious.

“But then I realized I do have that,” she says quietly. He feels her turn to look at him and he looks up to meet her eyes.

They’re barely an inch apart now. He can see everything in her eyes, and he doesn’t know what to say. They are the two most messed up people he knows. He’s not sure how they would ever work.

But then her lips are on his, and his hands are around her, pulling her into him, and he stops wondering.

Safe and loved. Maybe that’s all they need.
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