Well, this is it guys. The final chapter.
I'm just going to say it now, this is my favorite chapter. I wasn't sure how I would feel about ending it and was a little worried about how it would go. But I'm honestly very pleased with the final result and I really hope you all are too!
I want to thank each and every reader who has stuck with me throughout this entire fic. I know updates became few and far between when school got crazy for me, but your reviews meant everything and kept me writing :)
I'm very excited to start the sequel. Not sure when it's going to happen, but I know I would like to write one. If you know you'd like to read it and want to be notified when it gets published, put me on your author alerts or go to my MerDer fanfic blog (www -dot- merderfanfiction -dot- tumblr -dot- com) and I'll keep you posted or you can ask :)
Their last day in New York was spent in a lot better spirits than the night before.
The girls had seemed to have taken to Meredith better than Derek could have hoped. He never doubted that they would eventually love her as much as he did; he just didn't expect it to happen this quickly.
Meredith herself had surprised him even more. He had been fully prepared to not leave her side today, ready to jump in the moment one of his sisters made a stupid remark or upset her in any way. Except when his oldest sister grabbed her hand after breakfast, hauled her to a patio chair, and demanded to hear all about her new sister, Meredith simply smiled and chatted away like they were old friends
So there he was, sitting on the back deck watching as the girls all talked animatedly together and fawned over the new baby now growing in his wife.
He smiled as he watched Meredith relax against her chair and move her hand to lightly caress her stomach. He had noticed her doing that a lot over the past couple weeks and it never failed to make his heart swell with pride.
"So, do you want a boy or a girl?" Liz demanded, taking a sip of her iced tea.
"Oh, uhmm," Meredith stumbled, looking to Derek for help. "I don't care either way. I just want it to be healthy."
"Oh, pssssh. That's what you're supposed to say," Kathleen dismissed with a nonchalant wave of her hand. "But really. You have to have some sort of preference."
"No, really," Meredith giggled. "I never expected to be able to get pregnant after we tried for so long with no success. I'm honestly just happy the baby exists."
"Okay, fine, I'll give you that. Answer this then. What do you think you're having?"
Derek sat up straighter in his chair and waited for her answer. Out of the fourteen children between the three of his sisters, they had all been correct in guessing the genders of their babies before the ultrasound except for three of them. As far as he was concerned, mother's intuition seemed to be fairly accurate.
"I, uhmm, hadn't really thought of it," Meredith stammered, looking slightly uncomfortable for the first time that day.
He knew that was a lie.
In the beginning, they were both a little apprehensive about getting attached to the pregnancy after the initial shock of finding out wore off. But as each week went by and every doctor's appointment looked more and more promising, he couldn't help but start to picture their future with this baby. Sometimes, in his daydreams, they had a girl who looked just like her mother and played dress up with Zola in their playroom. She'd side with her sister all the time and beg her Daddy to have tea parties with and her stuffed animals. Other times, it was a boy. A perfect combination of his parents and loved to fish on the weekends with his Daddy. He'd tease his sister but would still be protective of her despite the fact that Zola would be older. After all, the age difference never stopped Derek when any of his sisters brought a new boyfriend home.
Meredith had been trying even harder than he had to distance herself, but he'd caught her on more than one occasion online looking up cribs and nursery decorating themes (for both girls and boys).
"Of course you have! We all have. Don't you just have that feeling one way or another?"
"Leave the poor girl alone," Carolyn scolded, coming out from the kitchen to refill everyone's glasses. "Sometimes you know and sometimes you don't. I knew Kathleen, Nancy, and Amelia were all going to be girls, but for Liz and Derek, I just couldn't get a feeling either way so don't feel bad, dear. You'll probably have a better idea once you're further along."
Carolyn finished pouring more drinks and took the seat next to Meredith before giving her a motherly pat on the arm. Meredith gave her mother-in-law a grateful look and waited for someone to change the subject.
Derek continued to stare at his wife as he tried to figure out if she really didn't have an inkling about the gender of their baby or if she was just getting overwhelmed from all the attention and felt too flustered to answer. Either seemed like a valid possibility.
"Let's just hope she doesn't pop out another mini Derek. I don't think this family could handle two of them," Nancy joked, trying to get a rise out of her brother.
It worked and Derek scowled at her in protest. "I'll have you know I was a very cute baby. Mom and Dad had to have me to make up for having you and all the disappointment that followed."
"Well excuse me, Mr. Big Shot. Then how do you explain Amelia?" Nancy shot back.
"Amy was an accident," Derek smirked into his glass.
He wasn't surprised when a throw pillow was immediately launched in the direction of his head. "Take it back, you dork!"
"Really, Amy, they had four kids already and I was five when you were born. You really don't think you might have been a surprise?"
"Children, hush," Carolyn intervened. "All of you are grown adults and respected doctors. Is there a reason you all insist on acting like seven year olds when you're all together? All of you were planned. All of you were loved. Stop bickering."
A chorus of mumbled "Yes, mom" and various other agreements came as a response and Meredith giggled quietly at the scene. All of her children were well over thirty, but she could still silence them all with a stern look.
"Derek was a very cute baby, Meredith," Carolyn started, turning to her one well behaved child. "Would you like to see pictures?"
Derek noticed how her eyes immediately lit up at the suggestion and she eagerly nodded her head. "I would love to," Meredith smiled and got up to follow Carolyn back into the house.
Kathleen, Liz, and Nancy all rose as well, trailing after the other two women.
"Show her the bathtub pictures!"
"Those are the cutest! I'm curious, Meredith, does he still have a bubble butt?"
"Show her the album with the pictures from when he took off all his clothes and painted himself with finger paint!"
"That was hilarious!"
"I would like her to not want to leave me after this trip, so if you could refrain from anything too incriminating it would be greatly appreciated," Derek hollered after the retreating mob of women.
He turned back to the deck and noticed Amelia had remained curled up on her chair. "You didn't want to help them humiliate me?"
"Nah," Amy shrugged. "I've seen all the Derek pictures. And it's not as much fun when I know I'm not going to be able to scare the girl off," she teased.
"Nope," Derek chuckled. "She's sticking around."
A silence fell between them and his wife's urging words from the night before popped into Derek's head. They had to leave early in the morning to go back to Seattle and his mother was probably going to be the only one willing to get up early enough to see them off. This would probably be the only opportunity they'd get to talk alone.
"I know you think I've been avoiding you," Derek began, deciding to just jump into it. "And maybe I have been. But that's not your fault. I just honestly don't know what to say to you."
"Well no one's forcing you to talk to your sister, Derek," Amelia said angrily.
"That's not what I meant," he back tracked, realizing how that must have sounded. "I want to talk to you, Amy. I want to help you. But I have no idea how. I see you in so much pain and I'm just at a loss for how to make it go away. You asked me last week, how I would feel if it were Meredith and I have no fucking clue. Because the thought of losing Meredith forever like that makes me physically sick. I honestly don't know how I would remember to keep breathing in and out if anything ever happened to her. So it kills me to know that you're having to deal with that type of pain and I can't do anything to fix it."
"I'm not asking you to fix me."
"I know you're not. But I'm your big brother. It's my job."
"It's not though. You can't fix me. The only thing that could fix me would be waking up and having the last couple months just be some cruel nightmare. But Ryan is dead. The only thing that can fix me is time. I just need to know that my brother is still going to love and forgive me when everything is said and done."
"I will," he promised. "And I do. The only reason I get angry is because you worry me. I told you before, you're loud and fearless and it scares the crap out of me."
"I'm not so loud and fearless anymore," Amy mumble bitterly.
"You are," he disagreed. "You're still you. Under all that…dark and twistiness…you're still the same amazing, strong woman you've always been. You'll find her again."
"Dark and twistiness?" Amy questioned with slight amusement.
"Yeah," Derek chuckled in response. "Something I learned from Meredith."
"She's good for you."
"She is. We're good for each other."
The two sat in serious silence for a moment before Derek spoke again. "I'm not going to hold any of this against you. I know I did the last time you used but we don't need to talk about that again. I just want you to know that you're always welcome to call or visit if you ever need to. I want you to."
"Thank you, Derek." Her eyes were beginning to moisten, but she refused to let them fall. She was tired of crying. "I have something for you."
She got up from her chair and moved to sit at the end of the long lounge chair her brother was occupying. From her jean pocket she pulled out a large watch Derek would have recognized anywhere.
"What are you doing with Dad's watch?"
"Mom let me have it. For some reason I had thought she had given it to you, but I saw it here while I was home from college and asked if she minded if I took it to keep."
Derek was at a loss for words as he gazed upon the watch he hadn't seen in years.
"I gave it to Ryan after he proposed, but you know how that all ended," she sniffed. "I don't want it anymore. It had nice memories of Dad but now all I think about when I see it is having to take it off Ryan's wrist before they took away his body."
Derek's initial instinct was to demand to know why a stranger was given his father's watch, but the rational part of his brain stepped in and reminded him that it wasn't important anymore. Instead he wordlessly took the watch from his sister's hand and rand his thumb along the worn leather of the wristband.
"He loved it because Mom gave it to him. I'm sure he'd want you to have it anyway."
"Thank you, Amy."
Without another word he wrapped a strong arm around his baby sister and gave her a light kiss on the top of her head. The two sat like that, silently mourning their losses until they were eventually called for dinner.
"Derek Christopher, I expect you to call me once you've landed so I know you both got home safely."
"And I want pictures of Zola. I need to put her up there with all my other grandbabies."
"And you have to call me with updates about the baby. I want to hear everything."
"Okay, Mom, we're going to miss our flight," Derek whined.
"Hush, Derek, you have three hours before the plane leaves and the airport is not that far away."
Carolyn released her son from a big hug and quickly turned to embrace Meredith as well.
"Will you make sure he actually does what I've asked?"
Meredith laughed at both the request and Derek's disgruntled expression.
"I will," she agreed, returning the hug.
"You call me any time. Don't worry about the time difference. I've had five of my own and been there through every one of my daughters' pregnancies and I'd be happy to help you in any way I can."
"Thank you, Carolyn. I really appreciate it."
"We have an ultrasound scheduled soon after we get back," Derek added. "We'll send a copy of that along with pictures of Zo."
"Good." Carolyn stepped forward to give them each another hug and a kiss on the cheek. "Now get going or you'll miss your flight," she winked at Derek.
The couple walked out to their awaiting rental car and climbed in.
"Are you sad we have to leave?" Meredith asked once they were on the road in route to the airport.
"A little," Derek admitted. "But I'm excited to get back home." A wide smile crept across his face. "We get to pick up Zola tomorrow."
Meredith was sporting a matching smile at the thought of being with her daughter again. "We do. I can't believe this is all really happening."
"I can't either," he agreed. They stopped for a red light and Derek reached over the center console to weave his fingers through hers. "But I can honestly say I can't wait to start this next part of our lives. There's no one I'd rather be sharing it with."
Everything about being a mother still scared her. When she thought about it, there were still some things that kept her up at night, fretting over hypothetical sceneries. But the love shining back at her through her husband's eyes was all she needed to reassure her.
Together, they would be okay.
Thank you for reading :)