Author's note: Set right during the episode "Wishin and Hopin'"
Disclaimer: Characters & places belong to Shonda Rimes. No profit or infringement intended.
"I'm over him."
Addison's words, tinged with a sense of relief, came out in a rush. The small humiliation of sitting alone at a table for four in a bar crowded with people evaporated as Callie slid into the chair opposite her. "I've been waiting to say that all day--" Addison glanced over her shoulder towards the counter where she could see Meredith talking to Cristina, her hands animatedly accenting the conversation. She wondered what they were discussing and with some satisfaction, realized she was old gossip. Still, Cristina's expression gave nothing away, and Addison couldn't quite push away her curiosity, or even worse, her desire to go up to them and join them. She shook her head and focused her attention back on Callie, who looked somewhat perplexed.
"So you're over him. Totally, completely?" Callie said, her voice slightly breathless as if she'd run the entire distance between the hospital and the bar.
"Totally, completely, seriously." Addison said the last word with a hint of sarcasm. Sometimes, she really hated the cadence of the interns' secret language.
"I'll drink to that." Callie held up her beer. "To getting over Alex."
"Alex?" Addison lifted her head. "I was talking about Derek."
"Oh. Derek." Callie inhaled sharply. "Now that, *that* I wasn't expecting."
"Yeah." Addison twisted her hands together. She sometimes wondered about the ring she had flung over the ferry's rails, whether it had nestled deep into the sediment beneath the waters, or if it had been swept away by the currents, journeying south with the Orca whales. She liked the idea of her rings drifting further away, somewhere warm, somewhere familial, rather than remaining entrenched beneath the slate gray waters of the Puget Sound. There were times when she missed the solid feeling of the wedding band and engagement ring on her finger, the tangible reminder she belonged to someone. Not for the first time, she thought it might be time to pack up and go back to New York, where at least she could live in the townhouse and not a hotel room, luxurious as it was, that was starting to feel and smell a little stale.
"Are you okay?" Callie asked softly.
"Other than breathing in toxic fumes scant weeks or months -- do you lose track of time too? -- after my husband left me for the forests and mountains of the great Northwest and then he fell hair over heels for an intern after a one night stand? Yeah, other than that, I'm doing fine." Addison's lip curled. She wasn't particularly fond of herself when she slipped into what she called Mode Bitterness, but every now and then, she felt entitled to throw herself a pity party, complete with balloons and streamers -- especially on a day when she'd nearly collapsed in an OR and her ex-husband, the man she'd been married to for 11 years, hasn't even noticed. It occurred to her that she didn't need to be so hard on Derek. After all, they were divorced, and he was involved with someone else and she, well, was in lust with an intern.
"There's always Mark." Callie's lips turned up in a devilish smile.
"Yes, there is." Addison pressed her lips together. Mark had noticed, Mark had grabbed her as she'd fallen; nothing like firm, definitive action to remind her of the pattern established over the past few years: Derek MIA, Mark to the rescue. "And it's the Meredith's fault he's still here." This last bit was petty and Addison knew it, but she didn't care.
"No, it's his ambition's fault that he's still here. You said earlier his womanizing history in New York meant he'd run out of professional options there, so why not stick around Seattle, suck up to the Chief, and try his luck here instead? Mark is many things, but stupid he's not, and he's always got his sights on the next best thing. So yes, maybe it's Meredith's fault for letting the cat out of the bag in the first place, but in the second place, it's Mark who made the decision to stay. And I can almost guarantee you that an opportunity for chief isn't his only reason for sticking around a city he so obviously hate." Callie cupped her hands around her beer bottle before shooting a quizzical look at Addison. "I thought you were okay with Mark being here, with Derek moving on with Meredith."
"I'm good at hiding things." Addison tapped her fingers on the worn table top restlessly. "Or maybe they just bother me at times like this when you realize that as many accomplishments as you might have, there's something missing and you can't be quite happy. It's like I'm living this life that ought to really be somewhere else, spent with someone else. I can't quite escape that feeling, no matter how much I try. So yes, ninety-five percent of the time, I've moved on and I realize for the first time in my life, I have this incredible freedom to be myself, but the other five percent, I'm playing it close."
"That's one way of putting it." Callie settled back in her chair, her left hand resting on the table, the tiny diamond on her ring catching and reflecting back a faint glimmer of light. George, Addison thought, had chosen well, sentimentality taking precedence over the cultural expectations of a diamond. A diamond, after all, was in theory a promise carved in stone. When the relationship disintegrated, a rock was simply a rock, no matter how pretty or how large or how expensive.
"But you have secrets too," Addison said. "For instance, running off to Vegas, getting married, coming up for air eight days later--"
"It happens." Callie shrugged casually, her tone sounding no different than if she'd run to the drug store to pick up a couple of rolls of toilet paper.
Addison arched an eyebrow. "In movies, yes, but in real life, not so much."
"You are happy for me, aren't you?" Callie leaned forward, her body tense. "You said earlier you were."
"I am, definitely. But as in all relationships, when it happens this quickly, a little part of me can't help but wonder whether you're running towards something or away. It makes a difference, Callie, and I just want to know which one it is."
"Towards. Definitely." There was a pause as Callie glanced back at the bar. Izzie had now joined Meredith and Cristina. To Addison's eye, Izzie didn't look happy, but she'd never been particularly close to Izzie, despite her offer months ago to help her. Izzie, Addison realized, was intensely loyal and not at all forgiving. To Izzie, Addison would forever be the woman who had so briefly come between Meredith and Derek. So while it pained Addison to watch that talent slip away, she also accepted that it would take time before she and Izzie could truly enjoy a cordial relationship beyond simple professional courtesies. "It wasn't a shot gun wedding, by the way. In case you were wondering."
"I wasn't wondering."
There was another pause as Callie downed the last of her drink and signaled to the waitress for another one. In the silence, the door to the bar opened and Derek walked in. He didn't look in Addison and Callie's direction at all, but instead made a beeline straight for the counter, managing to wedge himself in between Cristina and Meredith. Meredith smiled, kissed him, and then intertwined his fingers with hers. Addison inhaled sharply, trying to bite back her dismay at Derek's lack of acknowledgement. Once again, she had that strange feel of orbiting, an oval trajectory that was growing more elongated by the day, the chances of intersection growing increasingly slim. She glanced at Callie and realized that this was what they had in common: a nebulous connection to a group of interns and doctors at Seattle Grace Hospital, knowing that they were tolerated, not liked.
Callie spoke first, her voice low and husky. "You ran away from Mark, didn't you?"
Addison rubbed her chin roughly and then, slowly, she nodded. "Mark and I, we wouldn't have lasted more than a couple of years at best. He likes women and I knew that, so I went with the safe choice. That would be Derek." Addison finished off the remainder of her drink. "And I have second guessed over the years, but in the end, maybe it's meant to be this way, that I'm not supposed to be with either of them, but with someone else entirely."
"Mark loves *you*."
"Not as much as he likes other women." Addison offered a sad smile.
"You really should give him a second chance. As you pointed out this morning, it's no good lusting after the help."
"I'm over *him* too." The words came out with unexpected bravado and for a moment, Addison nearly believed in what she was saying.
"Really?" Callie asked incredulously. "And all this business about 'someone else entirely'?"
"It was a kiss, Callie, just a kiss." Addison shifted in her seat, doing her utmost to appear completely casual. "Sometimes a kiss is just a kiss."
"Relationships have been built on less. Like not talking, for instance."
Addison reached for her purse. "It's not like I have any right going around giving anyone advice about anything that doesn't involve medicine. My ex-husband is sitting right over there with his girlfriend and the man whom my ex-husband left me over just walked in and I can guarantee you he's thinking about me naked." Addison shook her head as she fumbled for her pager, checked for messages, and then replaced the devices. "It's more than I can deal with, Callie." It was a stark admission of vulnerability that Addison hadn't expected to make. She looked across the table, expecting pity, but saw none. Addison let out of her breath in relief. "So," she said, deciding to go for a change in subject, preferably one happier in tone. "So I guess now that you're married, you're finally moving out of the hotel into something more permanent."
"I just assumed--"
"Things are weird on that front," Callie said quickly.
Addison didn't miss the narrow-eyed glance Callie shot in Izzie's direction. It didn't take a board-certified OB-GYN neonatal surgeon with fellowships in maternal-fetal medicine and medical genetics to see a potential conflict brewing. Addison placed her hand sympathetically on Callie's forearm.
"You think we'll ever stop being the elephants in the room?" Addison asked.
"I hope so," Callie said. "For George's sake, at least. I don't want him to have to choose between us and for a long time he didn't. He has now, but those interns, those girls, they mean a lot to him. They've known each other a lot longer than George and I've known each other. It's a lot to compete against, Addison. He and Izzie, they're close. I'm his wife, but they're best friends."
"He chose you. *You* are his best friend now."
"Maybe." Callie pressed her lips together pensively and the uncertainty in her voice worried Addison.
"Do you want to talk about it?" Addison asked. "As you know, I've very recently been to the souvenir shop and bought the 'been there, done that' t-shirt. I'm an expert when it comes to a threesome marriage, having played both the wounded and wounder roles."
"Hmm, we'll see. He stuck up for me this evening and that was nice. I appreciated it, so right now, I can't complain. Life is good." Callie smiled. "So you're really over Derek?"
"Can't be in love with someone who doesn't want to love you back. Derek hasn't, you know, not for a long time. At some point, he decided I wasn't what he wanted, but instead of talking to me about it, he just shut me up and out." Addison ran her fingers lightly over the spot where her wedding ring used to be. "Maybe he felt threatened by my success, maybe he never loved me, maybe he realized he was my second choice, but all that doesn't matter now, does it?"
Callie leaned forward, her dark eyes twinkling mischievously. "Mark's looking at you. You should look back."
"I don't want to be dragged under again. He's Mark."
"Yeah." Callie put a twenty on the table. "That should cover me." She looked seriously at Addison. "You should think about him. Not because he's Mark, but because he is, and while being alone is an option, it's not necessarily your only one." Callie stood up. "I need to find out where I'm sleeping tonight."
Addison watched Callie leave, noting the gentle sway of hip, the confident tilt of head. Her walk was strong, not just the act of putting one foot in front of the other to get from here to there. Callie was walking to someone. That's what it looked like to belong to someone. Addison put her hand on her purse, her fingers stroking the leather pensively. She didn't look up when Mark approached her. He laid his hand lightly on the table, his pinky grazing her thumb.
"Can I buy you a drink?" he said a low, husky voice.
She considered. Her fingers were now twisted in the strap of her purse. It would be so easy to get up and leave, go back to her hotel room that was slowly starting to feel like a home in a surreal and crazy way. She thought about the concierge who knew her by name, the maid who nodded good morning to her every day when they passed in the corridors, and the fact she had to sit at the table alone for a full 20 minutes before Callie showed up. Addison lifted her head and flashed a smile at Mark.
"I wish you would," she said quietly.
~ the end
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