Ok, warning, there isn't as much of the funeral as I thought there would be. This was my seventh stab at this chapter, and all the previous ones were set during the funeral and described the coffin and the sunflowers and everything, but I never got far and the one good draft I made got stuck on my computer drive at work, where I shall not be returning until September. So, sorry. I definitely don't like this chapter, although I don't know if that's just because I've read over it until I hate it. Either way, I just hope you guys like it more than I do at least.
Chapter 12: Yellow
She looked into the smeary, cracked mirror of the church bathroom and wasn't quite sure how the woman reflected could be her.
It wasn't that she truly was different, per say.
Sure, her hair was blonde but her face was the same. She still had blue-green eyes and that small scar above her right eyebrow from when she fell off her bike as a kid and scraped up her face so badly Archer had to carry her home. She was dressed in dark, demure clothing – as was befitting of a funeral – but it was still designer.
It wasn't that she was different, except she was.
She felt different.
Lonely, for the most part, which was… ridiculous, because she had Mark. One day strong, with fifty-nine to go. He was sat behind her in the back pew of the building, sat close enough that their shoulders were touching and the warmth of his body was stopping her from getting cold amidst the arctic temperatures of the church.
But hadn't it been said before, that to feel alone surrounded by people was entirely possible? All too easy, in fact?
It was not that she didn't appreciate Mark. Part of her thought that she may have reciprocated his feelings, that she may have also been in love.
However… well, right at that moment, Lexie was very obviously inconsolable. She was in the depths of misery, and she looked it. She was drowning in a suit she must have borrowed from her sister or mother, small and pitiful even with the equally sparrow-like Molly and Meredith either side of her. She was pale, trembling, and puffy-eyed, dwarfed by the huge marble alter, by the hushed crowd of the procession, and seemingly by all of the events unrolling around her. It was very obvious Lexie had never been taught to internalise her pain.
She was an entirely different kind of lonely.
Her kind of lonely was justified. She had a dead baby to whom she had to give a final goodbye.
Addison didn't have a baby, just a gaping hole she tried to cover up with a band-aid of Golden Wheat hair dye and salmon-coloured scrubs that were a new hospital policy.
Because if she looked different, she'd feel different.
Except she didn't really feel different at all. She didn't feel much, period.
And she didn't leave the funeral under the guise of needing to use the bathroom because she needed to cry. She'd stopped crying. She left the funeral because the priest was talking, and he was talking about how this was all God's plan and the baby was in a better place and it made her want to scream.
There are five stages of mourning and anger is supposed to come before depression but it seemed Addison couldn't even grieve right. At times she wasn't sure who it was she was grieving. Lexie's daughter? Addison's daughter? Addison herself?
Sukie was a very tiny baby – she couldn't have weighed more than four pounds, if that – and even the cream-coloured cotton blanket she was tightly swaddled in shrouded her, concealing most of her heart-shaped Lexie-like face. She was also dwarfed by the events unrolling around her, by the dark mahogany coffin, by the sad faces which peered into her open casket.
The reasoning behind swaddling is to manufacture feelings of warmth and safety, recreate the environment of the womb where Sukie wasn't dwarfed or alone, but happy and loved. A part of Addison strongly suspected the reasoning behind swaddling Sukie, specifically, for her funeral instead of dressing her in some elaborate Christening-type dress or something, was because Lexie didn't want her daughter to feel the same kind of alone that she did.
Addison wanted to be swaddled. Not – in a blanket, because she wasn't a baby, and that would be weird. It was like… swaddled in Mark, warm and safe deep within the embrace of his arms. Or swaddled in alcohol, her world cushioned by drunken delusion, her feelings numbed by the magical powers of vodka or scotch.
Swaddled probably wasn't the right terminology.
She wanted to put something on top of it, was probably a better way of putting things. Not drugs, like Amelia used to, nothing that would result in her attending meetings and saying, "Hi, I'm Addison, I'm an addict," but something like what swaddling did for Sukie and symbolised for Lexie, something like how she used to be able to go into surgery after a crappy day and instantly feel better.
She needed something to fill the void.
The funeral reception was a disaster from the beginning, with Lexie locking herself in her bedroom and having some kind of nervous breakdown tat made the guests worry about her being a suicide risk, and Meredith and Cristina breaking out the liquor almost straight away.
Perhaps becoming inebriated was not the best, nor most respectful, way of saying goodbye to Sukie Grey but given the interns were already far drunker than everybody else by far she found no shame in having a drink. And then another. And then another.
Mark, who ended up spilling more than a few tears during the funeral, joined her.
Somehow, it was to no surprise that she once more found herself in a bathroom, except this one was a lot more familiar than the last – she remembered the last time she was here, Izzie banging on the door as her and Mark's shower stretched past the forty-five minute mark – and Mark's lips were trailing a little sloppily but very pleasurably along her clavicle, which seemed incongruously funny now that she was drunk and her back was pressed against a bathroom wall that was thankfully nowhere near as grimy as the one at the church.
Numb the pain, numb the sad, feel good, put something on top of it…. This was exactly what she wanted. Wasn't this exactly what she wanted?
Wait, she was forgetting something. What was she forgetting? Her purse, did she leave her purse at the church? Was this wall right against that of Lexie's bedroom, or something? It was…
Not having sex for sixty days sounded like a much better prospect when you weren't drunk, and you weren't in need of something to put on top of it, and your hands weren't beginning to unbuckle Mark's pants of their own accord.
But it wasn't like she could really break the pact now – she was genuinely a little curious if Mark would be able to make it – so with a sigh of disappointment, she shoved Mark away.
He looked more than a bit confused.
"I can't put you on top of me," Addison tried to explain to him, although her words slurred a little.
"Well, I don't have to be on top if that's what you mean," he started to say with a grin, hands already beginning to slip back around her body, but she whined in annoyance and stepped away.
"No, no, the sixty day pact," she said. "We can't break it on what's basically day one just 'cause we gotta, um… numb the bad, or… numb the sad? Anyway, no, no sex."
"But technically, if it's not sex…."
She shook her head. "Nuh-uh."
"Oh." He appeared disappointed. She understood. So was she.
Mark climbed into the bath. Fell, really, because he started to climb in but then slipped.
"What're you doing?" she asked.
"You- wanted to numb the sad," he fumbled, trying to explain. "And, uh, at the hospital, I crawled into your hospital bed and I hugged you and it sort of numbed the pain, made stuff feel okay for a while, but we don't have a hospital bed so this is the closest we'll get to that. Climb in," he encouraged her, "and then I'll hug you, and it'll be okay and the pain will be numbed for a while."
It sounded like the most ridiculous thing she'd ever heard, except it was oddly sweet, and it felt like it almost made sense, so she did climb in (which was a lot harder than expected, given she was terribly coordinated at the moment and was also wearing a dress) and it was worth it because when his arms wrapped around her and she rested her head against his chest so she could hear the soft labdub of his heartbeat, it felr way better than just putting something on top of it.
It felt not-empty. Whole. When she was with him, she didn't feel blonde, or different. Just okay. Happy.
The average period of mourning for the parent of a bereaved child is two years.
Well, it'd been two weeks and Lexie wanted to die. Whether she'd make two years was arguable, and whether she'd get over Sukie's death within two years was something she'd consider downright impossible.
She spent the funeral doing everything she could to not-cry. Because if she started crying, she'd break down completely and that was all wrong for this funeral, the only opportunity she'd ever have to show people her daughter, how pretty and all-out completely amazing she was, and the last opportunity Sukie would have to be so close to life.
But once she got home all pretence had melted away and it was all she could do to lock herself in her room before she felt the white-hot burn of painful sadness and hurled a high-heeled pump she borrowed off Molly at the wall so hard the plaster cracked.
Then she slid to the floor, hugged herself because there was nobody else who would, and sobbed loudly and openly because it wasn't like anybody who heard would care.
Molly and Eric took Laura to the funeral. They were going to leave her home but the babysitter quit at the least minute and they couldn't find a replacement, Molly explained.
Laura was a pretty baby. She didn't look much like Sukie, but they had the same nose, Lexie was certain of it. And the same chin. She spent the funeral mewling softly into Eric's chest, like some kind of kitten, and for the most part sleeping, completely unaware of the playmate she'd never get to meet.
If Sukie hadn't died, Lexie had a sneaking suspicion she wouldn't have been like Laura. Karmic retribution probably would have made her one of those colicky, screaming babies who hardly ever slept.
What Lexie would give for that kind of baby. What she would give to be able to hold a warm, wriggling body in her arms at night, instead of staring at a blank ceiling all alone in a dark room full of silence.
Soft tufts of dark hair. Twenty-three thin, delicate eye-lashes. A small, snub nose. Rosebud lips. Two ears, two hands, two feet. Tiny half-moon slivers of nail atop each matchstick finger and each small toe.
Susannah Elise Grey.
She would give anything.
She'd have died, if it meant Sukie could have lived.
Because this, this wasn't living.
In order to live, you needed to have a purpose.
And her purpose had just been buried beneath six feet of fresh dirt.
They hadn't been talking much, if at all.
They had, however, been in the bathroom for a while. Long enough that they'd sobered up somewhat and the sky outside had become a little darker.
It had just been the sound of the tap dripping and the two of them breathing and some of what must have been the reception downstairs, and it'd all felt oddly serene.
"I would have called her Ella," Addison declared, breaking the silence in a way that felt sudden.
"The baby. I would have called her Ella. It would have definitely been short for something, although I don't know what – Elena, Elizabeth, Melissa? – but I would have called her Ella. It's always been Ella for a girl, in my head."
She couldn't be sure because she couldn't see him, but she thought his confused face must have softened upon hearing her explanation.
"What about for a boy?" he asked.
"Well, you said it's always been Ella for a girl, in your head. Did you have a name for if it was a boy?"
She said the name proudly, smiling. "Carson."
He nodded slowly. "I like it," he told her. "They're good names."
There was another beat of the quiet which had been filling the bathroom and then he said, "I liked Elle."
"What do you mean?"
"When I… when I thought you were pregnant. I thought, if it was a girl, I'd have liked the name Elle. It's pretty."
"It's a nice name. How'd you come up with it?"
"It's, uh, what the Mr. and Mrs. Shepherd we're going to call Amelia before she was born. Ellen, but Elle for short. After Mr. Shepherd's mother. I just… always thought it was a pretty name."
"What do you think she would have been like?" Addison wondered.
"Who, Mr. Shepherd's mom?"
"No, Mark, the baby."
"A mini-you," he decided. "She'd have red hair, of course, and big blue eyes, and she'd be totally stubborn which would be annoying but we'd both secretly like it a lot. And you'd have made sure she was the most best-dressed baby ever, and maybe she would be a surgeon like Mommy and Daddy or maybe she'd want to be something different, a teacher or a lawyer or an artist, but it wouldn't matter because she'd still be the best thing that ever happened to us."
She let loose a mixture of a sob and a laugh. With a few minute exceptions, that was pretty much the opposite of all the things she'd thought Ella might have been, but that didn't matter. He'd thought about this. He cared.
She missed their baby.
She really missed their baby.
Ianuaria – she really does have a thing for hair dye and angst. Although I do think she suits being a redhead best. I wasn't originally planning the Mark-Meredith/Sam-Addison flip to the scene but then I was thinking Maddison and it let to me thinking about one-sided Addisam thwarted by Mark and…. Yeah. Lexie will be fine eventually, I think. Though of course she'll probably never completely get over this. Thank you!
Irony-FLD – thanks! I mean, the sixty days definitely won't be the same as they were on the show. I've sort of planned the ending for it although it's not definite or complete yet? Oh, but stuff shall happen, and it will be Stuff with a capital S. Or, at least I think it will. It's okay to feel sad for Mark, at this point it's definitely understandable, but I promise he'll be happy eventually.
Kae – sorry! The review you left about how much you loved the Maddison baby actually nearly drove me to do something a little less drastic which wouldn't have resulted in no Ella, but ultimately I don't think that could have really worked. Anyway, part of me doesn't think Ella was ever really meant to be.
Patsy – yep, sixty days! I was so disappointed when that didn't work out during the show, especially as ultimately Addison sleeping with Alex wasn't even anything except a random occurrence in the plot, so two possible relationships went to waste. I mean, I included a lot less of the funeral than I thought I would, so I probably don't expect you to cry although I'll be pleasantly surprised if you do. Happy fourth even though that was like last month now that I reply! Thanks.
Winter machine – Sam is a very smug person, although his personality seemed to changed radically between seasons 1 / 2 and the later seasons when he was 'in love' with Addison. Thank you! I don't think this was ever really what I pictured when I first came up with this fic, but I'm starting to like it quite a bit.
Guest – gracias!
Hushedgreylily – I didn't like Sam after he changed after he began his relationship with Addison, so I can definitely say that him being punched by Mark made me pretty happy too. Hopefully, future parallels shall be successful. Thank you for reviewing!
Kae (again, sorry) – yeah, I liked the ending too. I thought it could pass as Maddison but still not be OOC. To be honest, I do think the whole point of Ella here was bringing Maddison closer together. And yay, sixty day pact! I could never end it like ok TV, because that was one of my least favourite moments of Grey's. Thanks!
Ianuaria – okay, okay, I'm updating! And you're to thank for it, really, because I hadn't realised this chapter was ready but un-published until I read your review. Thank you!