Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters, events, places, etc. from Grey's Anatomy. Though I wouldn't mind owning Alex or McDreamy, I don't.

Moving On

Chapter 1: Bar Talk

"You're in love with her, aren't you?"

At the sound of the familiar voice asking a question he'd rather not hear, Alex Karev looked up from his beer to face the culprit. "Go away," he mumbled, more to the beer than to his fellow intern, hoping she'd just leave. No such luck. But then again, he knew she wouldn't, and maybe he was glad she didn't. No, probably not.

Meredith Grey threw her tote under the bar and climbed onto a worn brown leather bar stool. Alex glared at her, but she just looked at him straight in the eye. At that moment, Joe the bartender spotted Meredith. "Hey, Mer! The usual?" He didn't say anything, but truthfully, Joe was glad someone had come to talk to Alex, to take care of him. Someone not him, because Alex needed a real friend. A friend besides the massive amounts of beer and hard liquor he'd alternately been imbibing. Not taking her blue-grey eyes off of the depressed man beside her, she nodded.

Meredith tried again. She leaned in, whispered in his ear, "Alex…"

The gentleness got him, and he acquiesced, nodding then groaning as he lay his head on the bar. She didn't say anything, just stroked his back as he stayed there, knowing he'd talk if he felt like it. And if he didn't, that was ok too. But he needed to know someone was there, someone cared. Everybody deserved that. Even guys who had royally screwed up, or more correctly, screwed a nurse in the on-call room. If she wasn't there for him, nobody else would be. George? Ha. Definitely not Christina, and Izzie was obviously out of the picture. So that left her, which she was more than fine with. Truth be told, she liked Alex, cared about him as a friend more than she let on. So here she was, on a Wednesday night after a horribly long shift, consoling him.

After a few minutes he lifted his head up and started talking. He stared morosely into his beer as he did so, but that didn't matter to Meredith. What mattered was that he was talking. "All my life, I've never had trouble getting the girl I wanted. Even the ones I didn't want, for that matter. None of them were really a challenge. Maybe that's why I never really committed to any of them. But Izzie, Izzie was different. I knew that from early on and I guess that's why I tormented her. Did the stupid Bethany Whisperer thing, called her Dr. Model. For once, I was scared and unsure- unknown territory. Then I finally get her friendship, can start admitting to myself that I wanted more. But I just kept screwing up. Time after time after time. DAMN IT! The date, then Olivia, then every single thing I did just—ugh. I probably deserved this whole thing." With that declaration he drained the last of his beer and stared off into the distance.

Meredith rested her slender hand on his wrist, then leaned in. "No, Alex, no you didn't deserve to be treated like this. Yeah, sure, you screwed-up, but who doesn't? And that includes Izzie. We all saw the way you looked at her, the way you felt. Besides, the expression on her face after you kissed her here that one night, that was enough for you to not deserve this. This time, Alex, she screwed up, not you. " This last part she said fiercely, with utmost certainty.

Alex looked up, looked at her, shocked a little by the ferocity in her tone, but glad, too. Glad that someone believed he hadn't gone off the deep end. Since these days he wasn't all too sure of that. "Thanks…"

She nodded, knowing what he was going through. Knowing the pain of loving someone who walked away. Who chose to walk away.

"Hey Grey,"

"Yeah?"

"You're pretty cool. But don't tell anyone I said that. And thanks."

"You're welcome, Alex. Your secret's safe with me," she said with a smile. He nudged her with his elbow, then for the first time that, or really in a while, fully smiled. "He is cute," she thought to herself, briefly, then shaking it off.

"What are you shaking your head at? Trying to tell yourself you don't really think I'm hot? 'Cause if you wanna go hook-up, well, you know I'm game, babe," returning to his typical bad boy, jackass, smug self.

"Shut up. Seriously, you're crazy Alex. I am so not sleeping with you."

"I had to try you know."

"Yeah, I do. I'm glad you did. You wouldn't be you if you weren't talking about sex. Or making bad innuendos. Or being obnoxious. Or…"

"Thanks, Grey, I get the point."

"I bet you wish I got yours, huh?" she asked slyly, deciding to beat him at his own game for once. Coming over to refill Meredith's beer, Joe laughed as he overheard her comment.

"Nice, Meredith. I totally approve."

Alex simply shook his head, threw some bills on the bar, and stood up. "Lovely as this has been, I'm outta here. Off to think of some brilliant, masterful way to seduce my fellow intern." With that pronouncement, he gently kissed Meredith's cheek and whispered in, "Thanks, Mer. I appreciate it more than I can say. Really, I do." "See you at the hospital." And with that, Alex Karev left the bar, leaving Joe and Meredith, and well, half the hospital staff.

Joe nodded his approval. "Good job, Meredith. I think you really helped him. For a while I thought nobody was going to give a damn. But you did, good for you. And thank you- that mopey, forelorn Alex was starting to get old. Not that I don't feel bad for the guy, but I kinda missed the cocky guy who was, well, cocky."

"You're welcome, Joe," was all she said as she stood up to leave. She smiled, grabbed her bag, said good night, and went home to sleep before another trying day at Seattle Grace.