note: Written for Guessworks_ for the Five
Things meme. Set throughout season 2, with mild speculative spoilers for
Disclaimer: Not mine, but you knew that already, didn't you? Because things would be very different otherwise for our girl, Addison.
She glances up from her drink. She's only on her second beer, something native to Seattle -- she's already forgotten the name -- but she's been here for hours. The wooden chair has made a permanent imprint on her ass. Addison wonders how she got to this point, that she's willing to surrender control of the next big move in her life to someone else, even if that someone else is her husband.
"Hi," she says with surprise and she hopes she doesn't sound too grateful. "I didn't think you were coming." She nods at the empty chair in front of her. The Emerald City Bar is nearly cleared out, and for that, Addison is thankful. It'll be easier to take Derek's decision without witnesses, especially those interns who seem to blame her for messing up their friend's life. Addison wants to make it clear to them that it's Derek who lied, but in a five to one fight, the odds are against her.
Derek drops the manila folder on the table. She makes no move to pick it up and he doesn't sit.
"Okay," Addison says. She takes a deep breath. "Thanks." She's already made tentative arrangements to leave Seattle on Friday. Richard's asking her to stay, has made her a lucrative and prestigious offer, but she's not sure any amount of money and resources will be enough to stick around and watch Derek stare slack-jawed after the doe-eyed intern. No, it's better to summon up what's left of her dignity and head back to New York City where she knows Mark is waiting for her.
"I didn't sign them," Derek says flatly.
Addison blinks. "What?" When she last confronted him at the hospital, asking if he was going to sign, he gave her that blank look, told her he'd tell her later, and she assumed the answer was going to be 'yes' and that he was protecting her from embarrassment by not telling her at the hospital. Now she realizes it's the exact opposite: he doesn't want Meredith to know he's not signing the papers.
"You heard me."
Addison takes a swig of her beer. After a moment she says, "Why don't you sit down?"
"I'm not sure I want to," he says.
"You didn't sign the papers, but you're not willing to have a drink with me?"
"I'm needed back at the hospital," he says.
"I don't know what else to say."
Addison sighs and reaches for the envelope. She pulls the papers out. Derek's watching her carefully. She looks back at him. "I don't understand," she says.
He shrugs. "Because I didn't stay and listen to you before," he says. "I'm sorry about that." His smile is brief and cool.
"That's no reason to stay married," Addison says.
"It's not a reason to get divorced," Derek says. "I don't know what the right thing to do here is, Addie, but I'm determined to try. Maybe I walked out too quickly when I caught you with Mark, maybe I'll never get over that, but I'd like to think you and I, we can salvage something." He leans forward, takes her by surprise by kissing her on the cheek. "There's a lot I don't know right now, except that I miss you, miss what we once shared, and I don't want to take the chance that we might be missing out on something really great." He straightens up as his pager goes off. "I didn't sign the papers." And with that, he turns and walks out of the bar.
2. If her life was a Hollywood movie, Addison Shepherd would not be sitting at the edge of a wooden porch, hunched over against the wind, trying to remember where she'd left her backbone, dignity and pride. If her life was a Hollywood movie, Derek would drive up, and he'd explain it had all been a misunderstanding ("No, I really didn't mean to stand you up for dinner and a movie, but a helicopter crashed on the hospital and I couldn't get out because all of the doors were blocked or were on fire..."). After the apologetic excuse (which could be confirmed by a quick check of KIRO or KING), they'd go into the trailer, preferably hand in hand, or maybe arms around each other. They'd probably be kissing, which would make it hard to walk and so there'd probably be a stumble or two on the way to the bed. He'd ease her out of her dress, she'd unbutton his shirt. They wouldn't even turn on the lights, because by now, after eleven years of marriage, they don't need to see what they know by heart.
But her life isn't a Hollywood movie, so instead Addison is sitting on the edge of a wooden porch, hunched against the wind, wondering why she gave up a brownstone in New York City for an Airstream trailer that reminds her of a 50s diner. More than once she's thought about dressing up in a poodle skirt, putting her hair in pigtails, and strapping on roller skates, but then decides against it, because the old Derek would have been amused and aroused, but this Derek would take one look at her and go trout fishing instead. When she hears footsteps behind her, she doesn't turn around. Derek's lost the right to her immediate attention, she decides.
"Come inside," he says.
"You can think inside."
"No. I can't." She doesn't bother finishing the sentence, but one look at his face and she knows he knows. Damn, Addison thinks grumpily, why can't life be like Hollywood?
He holds out his hand to her. "Come inside," he says. "I've made cocoa."
"Cocoa," she says flatly. "Is that what they're calling apologies these days?"
Derek's silent for a moment and then he says, "I've also made s'mores."
"Cocoa and s'mores."
"I can't think around you," Addison says, staring at his still outstretched hand. "I don't know what to do."
"I've made cocoa and s'mores," he says. "Think about that and there isn't anything to do."
"I'm still mad at you."
"I know," Derek says. He crouches down next to her. "I've made cocoa and s'mores. It's not a three course gourmet dinner, but I have a tablecloth, I have candles, and milk that's only a couple of days old to wash it all down with. It's cold out here and I'd really like you to come inside with me."
It occurs to Addison that she's the heroine of this particular love story and that she's not quite ready for the closing credits. She takes his hand.
3. "Let me get this straight," Addison says. She's sitting up in bed, her knees pulled up to her chest as she watches Derek wrap a towel around his waist. It's a view –- even while upset –- she never tires of. "You tell me you're in love with her, this girl whom you've only known for what, two months -- what exactly does that translate to? Dog months? -- and you'd prefer to be with her on Christmas than with me, your wife of 135 months."
"The therapist said we should be honest with each other."
"Two months, Derek, two months!" Addison is suddenly aware of how loudly her voice echoes in the trailer. Back in their New York City brownstone, the rooms were bigger, the ceilings higher, and the acoustics weren't quite so hard and shrill on the ear drums. That was, of course, before they gave up arguing as their favorite 'together' activity.
"I'm being honest, Addison."
"Two months in Seattle with a girl you picked up in a bar when you were both drunk... how does that translate into a great, wild passionate love affair for the ages?"
Derek stares at her wearily. "Addison--"
Addison shakes her head and puts her hand to her face. "You know what, forget it," she says. "I'm done."
"Thank you," Derek says. "It's Christmas morning, and honestly, if there's one thing I want--"
"Don't say it, because if you say it--"
"Fine," he says in that passive-aggressive whiny voice that she's grown to hate. "I won't say it."
She lets out her breath in a short, sharp exhale. She wonders if she was this paranoid before she boarded American Flight 313 from New York's La Guardia Airport to Seattle-Tacoma. In retrospect, those eight hours in First Class, speculating about Derek's girlfriend, were downright leisurely compared to being here in Seattle, *still* married to Derek, but forced to watch him be in love with someone else. Addison decides this is the worst Christmas ever.
"I'm going for a walk," she says.
"Don't forget your coat."
She scowls at him, and stumbles out of bed. She pulls on her jeans and then a turtleneck and sweater. As she steps out, she casts one last look at Derek. He's getting out the frying pan, and she blanches. There's a Starbucks not too far away, and if there is a Santa Claus, it'll be open. She's halfway down the drive when Derek comes jogging after her.
"You forgot your gloves," he says. He hands them to her.
"I wouldn't want you to get frostbite."
"I'm from New York. I'm tough. I'm not going to get frostbite," Addison says. "At least not on my hands."
Derek bows his head and does this shuffle thing with his feet. She once found that terribly charming and cute, but now she simply wishes he'd shuffle back to the trailer so she can find some coffee. It's Christmas morning and she doesn't want to spend the day with someone who doesn't want to spend it with her.
"I found a tree," Derek says suddenly.
Addison blinks. "What?"
"A tree. I found one."
"I thought you said there wasn't enough room in the trailer for a tree."
"Who said we'd have a tree in the trailer?" he points to the edge of the clearing. "That tree right there. What do you think?"
She follows his gaze. The tree in question is about five feet tall, hale and hearty, and nearly symmetrical all around. Slowly, she nods.
"I like it," she says.
"I know it's late, but I was planning on decorating it this morning."
"When did you decide this?"
"A couple days ago. I meant to say something because I was hoping you'd help me." Derek's not looking at her, which means he's lying and Derek's always been a terrible liar. He shoves his hands in his pocket.
"Decorate the tree?"
"Yes. As you said, we love Christmas." He tips his head back towards the trailer. "If you promise not to yell anymore today, I will make you breakfast, including fresh coffee and excluding the trout, and then we'll decorate the tree."
"Do you -- we -- even have decorations?" Addison asks. She thinks about all the boxes of lights and tinsel in storage back in New York City.
He shrugs. "We can make our own. Popcorn strings, things like that."
Addison wonders if he's confused her with Martha Stewart, but then reminds herself that he really doesn't know her at all anymore. But she nods slowly. He's making an effort. "Okay," she says. "I promise. No more yelling."
Derek smiles, and she realizes then just how much she misses the way he looks when he's happy. More importantly, she realizes he's smiling because of her. Impulsively, she leans over and kisses his cheek.
"Merry Christmas, Derek."
4. "So tell me."
Addison jerks awake and rolls on her back. Derek has propped himself up on one arm and is staring down at her. He looks intense and she hates when he looks intense. It usually means there's yelling in her future and even though she's pretty good at yelling back, at three in the morning sleep is really what she's after.
"Tell you what?" she says.
"You wanted to talk about Mark. So go for it."
"Because it's the middle of the night, Derek," she says, exasperated. "What is it with you? When I want to talk, you don't want to, and when you do want to talk, it's always right before I'm walking into surgery or in the middle of the night."
"I'm trying to even the playing field," he says. "You're easier to talk to when you're distracted."
"Please," she says. She winces and blinks as he turns on the light. "What the hell did you do that for?"
"I hate being in the dark."
Addison groans and puts her hand over her eyes. "This can't wait until the morning?"
"I can't sleep." There's a note of desperation in Derek's voice that catches Addison's attention. She turns her head to look at him. "You wanted to talk, so let's talk."
And because it's three in the morning and she's feeling a little spiteful about being awakened, Addison says the first thing that comes to her mind. "I guess Meredith knows about your temper now."
“That's not fair." Derek flops on his back. "I've been less angry since coming to Seattle."
"I don't agree with that. You don't yell anymore, but I don't think you're less angry." Addison's wide-awake now. She reaches for her Blackberry, notes that she has no appointments before 10 am. "Your burners are set on low, Derek. I'm just waiting for you to boil over."
"I'm not going to boil over."
"You punched Mark in the face. If that's not boiling over, I don't know what is."
"I'm not going to apologize for that," Derek says.
"I didn't ask you to." Addison pauses for a moment. "But did you punch him because of me or because you saw him talking to Meredith?"
Derek shifts and the mattress sags beneath his movement. Addison reminds herself that one of these days, she's going to talk to Derek about getting a new bed, preferably something that doesn't feel like a sleeping bag on top of plywood. That, she thinks, is a conversation for another day. She's noticed that this newly minted wood-chopping, trout-fishing version of Derek can handle only one complicated relationship question at a time.
"When I found you guys together," Derek says finally, "I couldn't react. It was as if I was in slow-motion, that what I was seeing was really happening to someone else. I didn't know what to do, so I left." There's another pause, and Addison resists the urge to wrap her fingers through Derek's. "I meant to come back. I just thought I'd go, cool off, and come back and we'd talk. But once I was in the car, I couldn't see how I could return to that life we'd made. I didn't see how we could fix our marriage."
"You thought it was easier to start over."
"Pretend as if I didn't exist?"
"Yes." Another pause. "It hurt less if New York, you, Mark, if all of that just didn't exist." He gives an awkward laugh that she finds oddly charming. "It was a hell of a long road trip with just my thoughts as company." He glances at her. "I miss you, Addison. I have, for a long time, but I didn't know how to put us back together or whether it was even possible."
Addison bites her lip. "You said you wanted to try. When you didn't sign the divorce papers--"
"I know what I said and I did mean it--"
"Nothing's changed. I still mean it. I just need time."
"Okay," she says, even though she's wondering just how much more time she needs to give him. She's tired of that word, tired of giving in to it.
"I'm sorry about what I said about not forgiving you," Derek says, surprising her.
Addison reaches out, lays her hand lightly on his chest. He doesn't pull away and for that, she's relieved. "I know why you said it," she says. "It still took me by surprise but I needed to hear it, though I won't pretend it didn't hurt." She pauses. "But I'm more sorry, so sorry, that I hurt you."
"Yeah," Derek says heavily. "I know." He turns out the light. "We'll get through this too." He rolls towards her, and wraps his arm around her, pulling her closer, his lips pressed to the back of her neck.
5. "I'm sorry," Derek says. He picks up the pen and signs his name right below hers. Addison presses her lips into a straight line. Don't cry, she thinks, not now, not ever. She's glad the lawyers are out in the hall, letting them do this final step on their own.
"We tried," Addison says. She doesn't say what she's been thinking for the last few weeks: that they should have gotten divorced back when she first came to Seattle. But she doesn't want to turn the end of their marriage into a funeral and it's just easier to perpetuate the myth that they even had a fighting chance. In retrospect, these last few months of their marriage was very much just an extension of the last couple of years when she felt like she was the only one in the marriage. But it's not the time to bludgeon Derek over the head with that now, no matter how much she wants to.
"Yes, we did," Derek says. He puts the pen down and it rolls down the table and then drops over the edge. Addison reaches for her purse.
"Well," she says brightly, "I guess we're done here."
"Yeah." Derek's expression is pensive. Then he reaches across the table and grasps her hand. His grip is surprisingly firm. "Of all days," he says, "I should be honest at least today."
Addison says nothing, just watches him.
"I'm sorry," he says. "I'm sorry for not upholding my part of the bargain. I'm sorry for saying I could give up Meredith when I couldn't. I'm sorry for lying to you about seeing Meredith, I'm sorry about sleeping with her at the prom while you were in the other room, and mostly, I'm sorry I told you I was trying when I wasn't."
Addison nods slowly. "Okay," she says. "Good bye, Derek." She doesn't look back when she walks out of the room. She has a spa appointment to keep.
~ the end
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