A/N: OK, so I'm sorry that this has taken me so long to write, but that's kind of par for the course with me. Also, I really want to thank those of you who reviewed the last chapter, you're all great!
He was wracked with guilt. He still couldn't believe that he had done that to her. He was a fool, and he knew it. She had been the best thing that had happened to him in a very long time, but he hadn't told her about Addison, and he couldn't forgive himself for that, let alone ask her to do so too. He had had a decision to make and, though he knew in his heart what, and who, he wanted, he told himself that he didn't deserve to have her, so he made himself settle for second best, leaving him heartbroken. But he felt that it was his own fault, and now this was his punishment, life with Addison, his wife who had cheated on him with his best friend.
Things weren't the same anymore. How could they be? She had cheated and in response he had packed up his life in New York City and moved out to Seattle to live out in a trailer in the middle of nowhere. He had moved on, fallen in love, not that he had either planned or expected to do so. It had just happened, not that he regretted it in the slightest. No, the one regret that he had was that he had let her go; whilst he was with her he had been happier than he had been in the previous eleven years with Addison put together. And now he was back at square one, stuck living and working with Addison in the confines of his cramped trailer and the hospital, knowing that his heart was no longer in it and that he would readily give it all up, if only he could have just one more night with Meredith, to be able to hug her, kiss her, make love to her, hold her in his arms as they both slept, all night.
He missed her. It was as plain and simple as that. Sure he had seen her around the hospital over the last few weeks, and he was incredibly concerned about her. She had always been thin, he knew that, but her clothes were now hanging off of her, and her face always looked ghostly pale, and those circles under her eyes, which seemed to grow by the day. She looked a wreck, and the worst part was that he knew that he was to blame, which was a bitter pill to swallow.
The truth was though, that he wasn't much better off himself. He wasn't eating or sleeping enough either, not that Addison had noticed any of that, yet when it came to him being anywhere near Meredith she was like an eagle-eyed hawk. It was both unnerving and incredibly annoying. She had wanted to live as his wife again, and yet she didn't to be the slightest bit interested in his physical or emotional well-being, her jealousy was her biggest priority, which in a marriage was wrong. Sure he loved Meredith, and he knew that Addison was suspicious of the feelings that he continued to have for her, but had he ever given her any reason not to trust him? If anyone couldn't be trusted it was her, since she was the one who had cheated on him. They had been separated when he was seeing Meredith.
He felt completely smothered. Everywhere he turned she was there, at home, at work. His trailer felt suffocating; he was the kind of guy who liked his own space, which was the whole reason for his liking that particular location, but he was constantly having to put up with Addison's never-ending complaints about the trailer and, funnily enough, its location. Was that woman never satisfied? As far as he was concerned, he considered her lucky that he didn't feel able to just flush their marriage down the toilet without at least giving it another try, particularly because her nagging attitude was something he could do without, when he had made the sacrifice and cut out a very important part of his life to make her happy. And still she wasn't.
No sleep again tonight. This, he decided, was pathetic. He was a Neurosurgeon for God's sake, how could he go digging around in someone's brain on zero sleep? Well, alright, after only one night without sleep he was pretty much ok, that was part of being a surgeon, but after that...mistakes were more likely, and that was dangerous. He wouldn't have been surprised if any of his colleagues had noticed the differences in him, he certainly had.
Addison was curled up beside him in bed, and as he glanced over at her he was struck by the realisation that for such an "independent woman" she sure was clingy when she didn't have a reputation to uphold. Completely the opposite of Meredith, who loved a hug and to snuggle up together, but she didn't pretend that she didn't need anybody, the fact that she had such close friends was a testimony to that. And there he went again. Comparing the two of them, though it was futile because the victor would always be the same, and would never be the woman lying beside him in his bed.
Disengaging himself from Addison's embrace, he stood quietly and headed for the overly small bathroom to dress and prepare himself for the day. He left the trailer shortly after, not bothering to leave a note for his wife; it wasn't all that difficult to work out where he would have gone after all, so what was the point? He wasn't exactly thinking straight, but he knew that he had to get out of there, so he started the commute to the hospital early, ensuring that he stood out on the deck once on the ferry in an attempt to blow away some of the cobwebs from his mind.
However, when he reached the hospital not long afterwards, he still felt exactly the same; heavy heart, sleep deprivation, lack of appetite...the list went on. But he had made his bed, so he had to lie in it. Finding himself to now be upstairs in his office, though without any recollection of how he'd actually come to be there, he quickly changed into his scrubs and left the room, being extra careful to lock the door behind him. He quickly checked the OR board as he walked by, before heading off to check on his patients.
A little while later found him stood at the nearest Nurses' Station to his wing waiting for the intern he had assigned to him for the day. He hoped more than anything that it would be her, yet he didn't really expect it, since Dr Bailey had been pretty protective of her since they broke up. Funnily enough, he was actually quite grateful for that, that someone was looking out for her interests at work; she didn't only have her friends.
It was as he was thinking this that he heard a shout raised from down the corridor. He didn't hesitate for a second. He ran in the direction of the raised voices, only to discover what could only be described as his worst nightmare because laying sprawled out on the floor in front of him, was the love of his life. He froze, going into a complete daze, unaware of everything around him but her. Suddenly he snapped back into action, throwing himself down onto the floor beside her, checking her pulse and breathing.
"Meredith," He called, "Meredith can you hear me?"
There was no reply.
If I only could,
Make a deal with God,
Get him to swap our places.
He had been joined by more people now, they were gathering around her, pushing him backwards until he was no longer touching her hand. Sitting back, but not losing sight of her, he found that his hands were shaking and he felt tears spring to his eyes. This was Meredith, the woman that he loved more than anybody in the world and she was laying there looking completely helpless, and he was powerless to help her, much as though he wanted to.
He became aware of a presence beside him and an arm around his shoulders, and when he looked around he saw Miranda Bailey knelt on the floor with him,
"Come on Dr Shepherd, get up," She said gently, but he couldn't find the willpower or physical strength.
"Dr Shepherd, Derek, we're trying to help her now. As soon as possible we're going to take her up for an MRI and then we'll take it from there. We're going to help her, but we need for you to stay calm for her, she needs you to be strong now."
He nodded and attempted to stand, but the feelings of helplessness and powerlessness still remained. He knew that he would give anything to be in her place; she didn't deserve that, he on the other hand...
Come on, baby, come on, come on, darling,
Let me steal this moment from you now.
If I only could,
Make a deal with God,
And get him to swap our places.
He allowed himself to be led away by Bailey as his fellow surgeons worked on Meredith. This had only confirmed what he had pretty much known for weeks, that he couldn't imagine life without her, and if she pulled through this, he needed for her to know that.
He knew what he had to do...
And if I only could,
Make a deal with God,
And I'd get him to swap our places,
Be running up that road,
Be running up that hill,
With no problems.
The song used in this chapter is "Running Up That Hill" by Placebo, and neither this song nor Grey's Anatomy belongs to me.