Derek was hurrying on his way to the bar where he knew Meredith was going to be. He knew he was tempting fate by going, but to be honest he just couldn't resist her. She could say 'jump' and he'd reply 'how high?'. He was really falling for this girl without even really knowing her. But he wanted to now more than anything.
He had dated before, he'd had girlfriends and one night stands, but he was looking for something. He wanted a love like his parents, he wanted to love someone the way he knew his dad loved his mum and vice versa. His whole life he had been conditioned by his dad on how to treat the love of your life and until now Derek had never met anyone who stirred up the feelings that Meredith did for him.
Unlike Meredith he did believe in romance and soul mates. He had seen it first hand with his parents, even the three of his married sisters had indicated that true love was real. He had never actively looked though, he truly believed if something was meant to be it would be and now here was Meredith who had just stumbled into his life. Now that is not to be confused with just waiting for something to happen. He knew that he would have to work to get what he wanted, heck his career had taught him that, but when the green eyed beauty had come along he had felt a new surge of motivation, if only their potential relationship wouldn't cause such drama.
He spotted Meredith first, as if had been drawn to her being. She was sat with the same group she was before except this time there was a brighter blonde and Alex wasn't there. He let his eyes travel up and down her body as she sat there, lingering on the more womanly features that she possessed.
"Derek! Derek! Over here!" Lexie shouted out, claiming his attention.
He made his way over and sat down next to Meredith who happened tp have a seat free next to her.
"Scotch Derek?" Mark asked as soon as he sat down.
"Derek this is my girlfriend Arizona," Callie said.
Derek shook hands with the blonde woman, who seemed to be slightly in awe of him, but not for the usual reason women were when they saw him.
"I am such a huge fan of yours. I went to your restaurant in New York when I was last there for a conference and WOW you are a genius, you planned the menu all by yourself?" Arizona gushed out.
Derek chuckled, " yeah I did, I'm a control freak so I have to have final say over everything that goes on in anything I own."
"Don't worry we are all surgeons so ALL control freaks here. You should see us when we used to compete with each other for surgeries right Mer?" Cristina said.
Meredith who was just imagining Derek being controlling over something that wasn't a restaurant snapped out of her gaze and looked at Cristina who was smiling smugly at her as if she knew where Meredith's thoughts had been.
"Us, competitive, surgeries," Cristina said, still smug.
"Oh right yeah, we were a handful that's for sure."
"Oh, really what did you use to do?" Derek asked out of genuine curiosity.
" We had a competition on who could get most points over a two week period," Meredith smiled as she reminisced, " I won," she finished with a smirk.
"Only because you practically forced a guy to have a brain tumour," Cristina retorted not at all pleased.
"I did not," she threw a look to Derek who did look confused, " this guy had a complete personality change according to his family, so I took him for tests and he had a tumour pressing on his left frontal lobe."
"Wow," Derek said mesmerized by how amazing this woman was, " what happened?"
" Well he was the inspiration for my trial, curing a particular type of an inoperable tumour which I won't bore you with the details, but he Ummm," she looked away from the blue eyes that were holding her gaze and instead looked down into her drink, "he died in surgery."
The rest of the table had focused their attention on Meredith and Derek's interaction and were eagerly watching for Derek's reaction to Meredith's confession.
Derek lowered his voice and it was filled with comfort and reassuring tones, "I know you did everything you could, bad things happen sometimes and you learn from them. I know you're talented and I've only seen you make cakes so I can't even begin to imagine how amazing you are in the OR," he said genuinely, not breaking eye contact the entire time.
Meredith smiled at his words and decided to change the topic to a lighter conversation.
"Thank you," she started quietly, " now how many restaurants do you have? It should be impressive if you can cause Arizona Robbins to become starstruck," she teased.
Derek laughed, "well I have a restaurant of fine dining restaurants which are currently in 10 different cities in America, then I have bakeries all over, which I've set up as a franchise so people from all over can open bakeries without having the worry of being a sole trader and all the risks that that brings…"
The two continued chatting again oblivious to their audience, even Cristina had been impressed with his reassurance to her best friend. They say in awe of the newly forming couple before their eyes, none of them considering the downsides except Mark and Lexie.
As the conversation spread to include more of the tables occupants, no one noticed the familiar face to walk in the bar with her husband. Liz sat down at the table as her husband went to get drinks, she took in her surroundings as she waited.
"You know you're brothers are here right?" Steve said as he set the drinks down.
"What? " Liz said as she strained her neck to look for the two boys she'd grown up with without actually standing up. " oh no he isn't, she said as her eyes landed on Derek and mark sat at a table with a group of people, one of which was certainly Meredith, who just happened to be the one sat right next to Derek. Just at that moment Derek chose to laugh loudly throwing his head back at something someone (probably Meredith) had said.
"He looks happy," Steve said.
"Mmmm he does but he can't be, not with her," she replied standing up. "I'm going to stop this before it gets too far."
"Lizzie let him be, don't you like seeing him happy, its been a while since I've seen him like this, let him have this," Steve implored not knowing the true reasons behind his wife motives.
"She's a competitor," Liz stated simply before turning on her heel.
Steve sighed, he should know not to correct a Shepherd woman, he felt bad for Derek who had to live with 5 of them growing up. He watched the whole event unfold.
"Derek, Mark hi! Oh, and hi Meredith," Liz said to the table addressing the ones she knew. " You must be Lexie, I'm Lizzie, Derek and Marks favorite sister."
Meredith had frozen not knowing the connection, but feeling ridiculously stupid for not recognizing the similarities the two shared. She smiled tentatively at Liz, not knowing what her reaction would be, it wasn't like it was a rule that she couldn't have a drink with a judge, was it?
Derek sighed inwardly but greeted his sister regardless, hoping she wasn't going to make a scene or worse make him leave Meredith now when he was finally starting to learn more about her.
"Derek, a word about tomorrow please, I don't wanna bore everyone here with production details," Liz said subtly smiling round at everyone.
Derek was relieved that she hadn't made a big deal in front of his new friends. He didn't have many true friends, but these people he had met in the last few days had made him feel welcome and valued, not to mention the fact that they were also of importance to Meredith. He stood up and gave Meredith a reassuring look.
When they were back with Liz's husband Liz got straight to the point.
"WHAT are you doing? Do you know you're being stupid, what if one of the other contestants saw you here and thought you were showing favouritism to Meredith? How would that go down for either of you?"
" Well for one Elizabeth every single one of the contestants can see Meredith is a natural and deserves to be in the competition which is more than I can say for some of them. Like seriously cinnamon and ginger? Thank god he's gone," Derek said, with a smile towards his brother in law to try to reduce the tension he could feel radiating off his sister. The couple didn't need to know the real reason he was glad Finn was gone, regardless the dog walker really could not bake.
"Don't do that Derek, don't downplay that what you're doing isn't wrong." Liz snapped.
"Is in the rulebook? I'm having a drink with my brother and his friends, one of which just happens to be a competitor in the show I'm judging," Derek retorted.
"Derek you could be removed off the show and so could Meredith," pleaded his sister.
"Fine by me," Derek muttered not missing the hurt look that passed by his sisters face. "I didn't mean it like that Lizzie." He looked to Steve for help but received none.
"Derek this is the biggest production I've been asked to do and probably will ever be, you said you'd do it you can't ditch it now," Liz's tone was quieter now.
"What do you want from me Lizzie? you're not going to be penalized for anything I do just because we're related, so what is it you're expecting of me? I'm not allowed to see Meredith until either the show ends or she gets kicked out? Is that what you want?" Derek said exasperated. The very thought of not being able to see the neurosurgeon causing him distress.
Liz looked nervous as she took a breath before saying, "well to be honest Derek it's not going to look good if you start dating even after the show, because when it gets aired people will notice the connection between the two of you…" Liz trailed off.
Derek looked at his sister in disbelief. Steve could see the tension coming from the two siblings.
"Liz, I don't think telling Derek who he can and cannot date is going to be beneficial for either of you, because lets face it you do not have any right to do that," he gave a pointed look at his wife but continued, " but Derek you know what this project means for your sister so maybe that should be taken into consideration." Steve attempted to pacify both of the two raven-haired people sat with him.
Liz and Derek were sat staring at one another, one full of anger, the other with a stubborn look on her face.
"Steve is right Lizzie, you can't tell me what to do and it is none of your business, so stay out of my life. I'm doing this for you and I'm not going to ruin it for you, I do not want this brought up again," Derek finished with an icy tone. He was fed up of the controlling nature of his sisters, he had only recently realized when he had opened his own restaurant of how much a say they had had on the decisions in his life, and he had let them get away with it. They were his family and he loved them, but enough was enough and acting like she could control who he fell in love with was the final straw. Derek stood up and walked away from his two family members toward Meredith.
Meredith had been worried when Derek left to go talk to his sister, even though the talk was supposedly about production plans, she knew the real subject of the talk.
"So do we think McSister is chewing off his balls for talking with a girl?" Cristina asked the group.
Mark just sighed, but decided not to go over and help his brother, he knew the sisters were domineering particularly with Derek, especially in the last 5 years that they had become fatherless. Mark knew it was only a matter of time before he snapped, he knew Derek better than anyone and once he had set his mind to something he would go after it, that's why Mark had tried giving a different angle to think of when he himself had confronted his brother about his crush.
Meredith was chewing her lip, stressing that Liz would tell Derek not to go anywhere near her anymore, which made her heart sink in her chest. She told Cristina to swap seats with her so she could watch the interaction, which her person did without question, already on the same page.
Whilst the doctors moved on to talk about surgery and annoying interns, Meredith and Mark were watching the interaction going on at the other table. Both were watching the same thing and both were worried, Meredith could see the anger and frustration in Derek, just in the way he was sitting, like he was receiving bad news. Her heart sunk further, and she began to realize her attachment to Derek already with just the thought of not being able to see him.
Eventually, Derek stood up and made his way back to the table, Mark dropped his gaze but Meredith locked eyes with Derek and smiled. She was met with a mirrored smile that didn't quite reach his eyes, he looked troubled and all she wanted to do was comfort him.
He sat down at the table and joined in the conversation. Slowly the occupants began to leave one by one, at some point his sister left as well, until it was just Meredith and Derek left. Who had received pointed looks from Mark but Lexie had ushered him away realizing that the two needed to talk.
There was a silence as they finished there drinks, neither knowing where to start.
"Do you wanna go somewhere?" Meredith quickly asked.
Derek slowly smiled and nodded his head and allowed himself to be led out by Meredith.
"I've only had one drink so I'll be okay to drive, there's somewhere I wanna show you," Meredith explained.
They got into her Jeep wordlessly, the silence not awkward because both were thinking hard about what they needed to say. Meredith drove them to a cliff top which overlooked The Sound which was currently under a blanket of stars and showed only a few lights out in the water. The one night ferry moving slowly in the distance.
"Seattle has ferryboats," Derek stated randomly.
"Seattle is surrounded by water on three sides," Meredith laughed shaking her head. "Come on, there's a perfect spot a bit further closer to the edge."
They got out the car and walked side by side to the bench which stood alone on the grassy bank. Meredith sat and Derek followed her lead, sitting closely to her so their upper bodies were touching.
They both laughed. Derek let her talk first.
"Derek, I Ummm I don't really know what I'm saying, but what I do want to say to you is that I have not stopped thinking about you ever since joe's bar. The first time that is. I don't know what it means because I have a lot on my mind at the moment and you were not something I had ever factored into the picture but you are, in the picture that is. And um well what I'm trying to say to you is I don't want to cause any problems for you or for your career or your family or whatever, but I like you being in the picture even if you're not fully in focus yet, but I'd like you to be. If that makes sense?"
"Did you know you are very cute when you ramble?" Derek commented moving even closer to her.
"Shut up, this is not something I do like ever, so I'm trying here," Meredith laughed whilst going to smack him. But Derek caught her hand and took it in his. She looked down at where they were connected and smiled widely at him.
"Meredith, I like you too, there is something about you which is enchanting to me, it's like you're a breath of fresh air," Derek said knowing how cheesy he was being.
Meredith giggled, producing the reaction Derek wanted, "Derek that was cheesy."
He smiled and then said seriously "I want to be with you Meredith, I want to take you out on dates and I want to take you home and do things to you that will make you scream for me," Meredith bit her lip at the sudden heat that had filled his eyes, "I want you more than I've ever wanted anything, you amaze me and I've barely known you a week, I want more time with you, just you, so I can get to know you and you can get to know me, and more than anything I don't want this baking competition to get in-between any of that," Derek finished.
"But you're career, won't it be compromised?" Meredith said with a worried tone that made Derek feel a twang in his heart at the realization she really did care about him.
"This competition really has no effect on me or my career at all, I'm only doing it as a favour to my sister, I have no interest in being in the public eye, I just want to cook and bake for people and have them enjoy it," he said sincerely.
"Oh," Meredith was confused, her reason for not being with this gorgeous man was a moot point, he had just solved her problems in one answer.
"But, that being said, if it were to get out, then that could ruin your chances at winning, and I won't do that to you, you deserve a fair shot at this."
Meredith was silent, before she burst out laughing, confusing Derek further.
"Derek I don't care about winning the bake-off."
"Derek listen, I needed a change of scenery to get some new ideas for work, I don't need the money and I certainly don't want to be stopped in the street or known to my patients as the 'best baker in America'."
"But… I… I don't understand."
"Look, don't worry about me, I like baking and I'm good at it, but I'm a surgeon I chose to be a surgeon, this is a side project to help me with another side project," Meredith tried to convince him.
"But Meredith, you have a gift, I can tell that and we are only one week in, think of how much you can develop your skills in the 9 weeks coming," Derek said still not believing that someone with this much raw talent would just ignore it as if it were being able to tie a shoe.
"Ahahaha thanks but really it just isn't that important to me so I don't mind if I leave next week if it means we get to be together."
Derek wasn't sure whether to be flattered or insulted. That she was willing to give up her chances to win the competition for him or that she thought that his industry wasn't important enough for her.
"So what I do…" He tried to straighten it in his mind what she was trying to say. " my field that I work on isn't as important as surgery?"
Meredith looked at him in shock, seeing her mistake. She yanked her hand away from him and he winced at the loss of contact with her, but turned to face him completely so she could look into his eyes.
"No Derek, god No," she started with, "I'm sorry I didn't mean it to come off that way, I have never thought that what I do is more important than what someone else does, let alone that someone else being you. Derek, I love baking its one of my favourite things to do, what I meant was that I don't need validation for it, without trying to sound like a complete ass I know I'm good, sure I could learn more but I'm perfectly content with being able to make amazing cakes for my family and that's it," she stammered out hoping she hadn't just ruined her chances.
Derek smiled at her confession, "I think you should stay in the contest as long as you can, because you are so talented Mer," he cupped her cheek and she unconsciously leant into it, "because you Meredith Grey are extraordinary and you can achieve anything you want to, whether its a baking contest or curing inoperable tumours."
Meredith felt her eyes prick with tears at his kind words, and before she knew it she was leaning in closer him. He reciprocated her movements. Both paused right before their lips touched staring into one another eyes trying to memorize this moment. They moved closer so their lips met and shut their eyes to enjoy the sensation. Derek moved his hand to cradle the back of her head pulling her against him, he used his other arm to take her waist so their bodies were pressing together. He ran his tongue over her lips, asking for entrance, which she happily granted. Their kiss was slow and sensual, both just enjoying and savoring the moment. Meredith moved her hands up into his hair, something she'd been dying to do since they'd met. At the gesture Derek pulled her onto of him so she was straddling his lap, he ran his hands up and down her back trying to bring her even closer. Their mouths met over and over again, neither stopping because they never wanted it to end.
When it came to the point where they needed oxygen, they rested their foreheads together eyes closed panting at the act they had just finished.
"So what does this mean?" Meredith finally asked. Unsure of the protocol, she looked so unsure and worried Derek just moved her so she was sat next to him pressed up against his side, he put his arm around her and kissed her forehead. She closed her eyes as she rested her head on his shoulder, feeling perfectly content in that moment, ignoring everything else.
"I don't know Meredith, I don't know," Derek murmured, looking out into the distance he never wanted to move from this spot ever again. He would be quite content with Meredith in his arms forever.