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Grey's Anatomy fic: Last One Standing (1/1)

September 19th, 2014 (03:11 pm)
dorky

feeling: dorky

Title: Last One Standing

Disclaimer: I do not own Grey’s Anatomy.

A/N: Set at some point in the future post S10 but is not based on any spoilers or particular speculation. Background Jo/Alex and mentions of Meredith/Derek. No beta, so mistakes are mine.

Summary: It's just that Meredith likes to think she doesn't have to worry about Alex.



-o-

George gets hit by a bus. Izzie gets cancer and just leaves. Cristina takes a job in Switzerland.

"It's just you and me," Meredith tells Alex with a wry smile as she climbs into the chopper.

Alex grunts as he clambers in behind her. It’s a delicate rescue involving a kid down by the lake. Their window of opportunity is small, due to the storm system moving through, but someone has to go. If the kid is going to survive, someone has to go. "Who'd have thought, right?"

Meredith clucks her tongue and shakes her head as she buckles herself in. "Just you and me."

This isn't what she envisioned when she first started here, not by a long shot.

She knows there are worse things.

-o-

The Chief always said there would only be two left standing. When Cristina leaves, Meredith finds some comfort in that. It's not that she doesn't miss Cristina's innate understanding of her mind and soul. It's not that she doesn't miss Izzie's bold compassion or George's surprising strength. It's just that she likes to think she doesn't have to worry about Alex.

He's got Cristina's spot on the board. He's back at his old job. He's grumpy and snarky and inappropriate. He's Alex.

It was always going to be the two of them.

-o-

(Fate, though, it's a bitch. Especially if you're a Grey.)

-o-

"No," Meredith seethes, trying to keep herself breathing over the pounding of her heart. "You don't get to do this. You don't."

Alex, as probably should have been expected, doesn't listen. Alex never listens, at least not the right way. He's the kind of guy who learns things the hard way, and then has to learn it and learn it again until you just want to give up on him. Things never are easy for Alex, and he is sure to make them worse no matter how much he pretends to take the easy way out.

He's had so many opportunities to walk away. Hell, he has walked away. He's been wooed by Hopkins, had a break in the private sector. Alex has always had options.

She just never expected--

She just never accepted--

She just never.

She presses harder, faster, refusing to let herself cry. "You don't get to leave," she says. "After all the chances I've given you? After all the things I've forgiven you for? After everything?"

Alex doesn't listen.

Alex can't listen.

Not when he's lying cold and blue beneath her, soaked to the bone after they pulled him out lake -- dead.

-o-

George gets hit by a bus. Izzie gets cancer and just leaves. Cristina takes a job in Switzerland.

A year later, she and Alex go out on a rescue to help a kid trapped in boat wreckage. Lightning strikes, and something ignites. When Meredith's vision clears, she's still curled over the patient and Alex...

Well, George gets hit by a bus. Izzie gets cancer and just leaves. Cristina takes a job in Switzerland.

And Alex Karev drowns in a lake.

-o-

(Meredith was always going to be the last one standing. She was the first one there; she'd be the last one there. She grew up in the halls; she half expects to die there. It's a part of her, and she's a part of it, which is why she couldn't go with Derek to Washington. Which is why she's stayed, despite everything that's happened.

Meredith was always going to be the last one standing.

She hates herself for it sometimes.)

-o-

"You stay with me, Alex," she orders, straddling his chest as the gurney is taken off the chopper. She got a pulse back in the field while they waited for a second rescue flight, but nothing stable, and he'd crashed again in the air. He's intubated, and she's pushing meds, but he's not responding.

"How long?" Bailey demands as she comes up to pace alongside them. Hunt's there, and so is Avery.

"Five minutes," Meredith says, continuing her rhythm. "We had a pulse en route, but--"

They push the gurney inside the elevator, and Avery is already taking over the ambu bag from the medic. Hunt is checking Alex's vitals, and Bailey's face is pinched. "They said there was lightning."

"Yeah, I got a small shock, but Alex was closer," Meredith says, sweating heavily now. She's panting, and her arms are sore. "He was thrown into the water."

The elevator is moving, and Hunt pulls back Alex's eyelids. Bailey looks at him, and Owen just shakes his head.

"We'll need to page cardio," Meredith says. "And get Derek--"

"They're all there," Avery assures her. "Everyone's there."

Meredith looks at Alex, and continues to press on his exposed chest.

Not everyone, she tells herself. Not everyone.

-o-

In the ER, it's a rush. The doctors descend, and between the consults, Meredith is swept to the side. Her arms hang limply as Hunt tries the paddles.

Alex's body convulses and goes still.

Derek is assessing his neural status. Cardio is listening to his chest. Avery keeps with the oxygen, and Hunt takes over the CPR. They're all fighting to keep Alex with them. They're all doing everything they can.

On the gurney, Alex doesn't respond.

He's a bastard like that. He's a selfish son of a bitch, and Meredith should have just kept on hating him. It would have been easier.

Bailey presses the paddles to his chest again.

It's too late now.

And it's just not enough.

-o-

("It's just you and me," she says, like it's the punchline of a joke.

"It's just you and me," she says, like it's an accusation he can't escape.

"It's just you and me," she begs, like it's the only hope she has left.)

-o-

Meredith has a husband she loves. Sure, that's not been easy, but after a year of long distance, Derek is back and things are better. They're committed, and they're making it work, and she's never been more in love.

Meredith also has two children, and she's crazy about them. She loves the way Zola makes pictures at school, and that she wants to be a doctor when she grows up. She can't get enough of watching Bailey climb every surface in the house, even when it scares her senseless.

And she has a job she never wants to give up. It's the only place she wants to be.

This is the perfect life.

She doesn't need Alex Karev.

There’s no part of her life that can’t exist without Alex Karev.

But she really, really wants him.

-o-

In the waiting room, Jo is in shock. "So, it was the lightning? He was struck by lightning?"

"I don't know," Meredith tries to explain again. "The lightning caused the explosion, but there were no obvious burn marks."

"And he drowned?" she asks, sounding a little desperate. Her voice wavers, and her eyes are wet. "How did he drown?"

"Well, the lightning--"

Her breath catches, and Jo shakes her head. "Was it the lightning or the drowning? Which is it? You have to tell me which it is!"

Jo's on the verge of losing it, and Meredith knows what that's like. She knows what it's like to stand in the operating room, asking a man to shoot you. That's desperation; that's shock; that's when there's nothing left.

She takes a measured breath. "I don't know," she answers as honestly as she can. "It doesn't matter, though. What matters is Alex. What matters is that he lives. What matters is that he gets through this."

Jo looks distraught. Meredith reaches out and takes her hand, giving it a squeeze.

"We'll get him through this," she promises.

-o-

(Later, Meredith will cry in Derek's arms. She'll lock herself in the bathroom and turn the shower on hot and cry and cry and cry. She'll call Cristina, and leave the line open and cry some more. Meredith will fall apart in her own time, in her own way.

And then she'll get up and come back to work.

Just like she always does.)

-o-

They get Alex back, but his vitals are all over the map most of the night. Cardio manages the condition with medication, and Derek checks him hourly for any signs of progress.

"He needs time," Derek says.

Time, though, is not particularly on Meredith's side.

-o-

When she finally gets to see him, he looks worse than before. The ventilator is taped down, and he's pale with shadows under his eyes. He looks sick, and his hand is pallid when she takes it in her own.

"Alex," she says. "You can't do this."

The heart monitor beeps, but his vitals are still bad. There's no sign of brain activity at all.

"It's just you and me, Alex," she tells him. "It's just you--"

Her voice breaks, and she stops herself on a sob.

"--and me," she concludes.

-o-

(Meredith has lost a lot of people in a lot of horrible ways. Her mother wasted away from brilliance to nothing, and one of her best friends was crushed so badly by a bus that he was actually unrecognizable. She saw Derek get shot in cold blood right in front of her, and she watched her sister die without being able to do a damn thing about it. People die around her.

It's not like it's that unusual.

She's not naive enough to think any state of mind can change this.

But damn it all if she's not going to try.)

-o-

Jo cries a lot. People visit sporadically, in pairs and in groups. Avery is sorry; Bailey is angry. Kepner fumbles over her worry, and Derek offers vague platitudes about his prognosis. Callie and Arizona hold hands when they leave the room, brushing a kiss together as a silent prayer of thanks that it’s not them this time.

It’s just a matter of time, however, when the concern wanes. Life, it seems, has to go on.

Meredith sits by Alex's side and clings to that hope.

Life has to go on.

-o-

It doesn't happen overnight. It doesn't happen quickly at all. But his vitals stabilize, and he starts showing signs of brain activity. When he wakes up two weeks later, it's a state of reduced consciousness, but it's progress.

Meredith still shows up every day and talks to him like nothing's changed.

In her mind, nothing has.

It's still her and Alex.

Until the very end.

-o-

(Seattle Grace Mercy Death, that's what Alex called it.

Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital, that's what they call it now.

When Meredith thinks about it, a memorial to two dead people really isn't all that much better.

Alex's version was at least honest.)

-o-

Physical therapy isn't easy. Alex doesn't take to it well. He alienates people quickly and goes through therapists faster than Meredith can keep up with. Jo struggles with being the supportive girlfriend, but Meredith never wavers.

"You can yell, and you can swear, but I'm not leaving," she threatens.

Alex glares at her, still fumbling to work a spoon. "I hate you."

"Good," Meredith taunts. "Hate me until you get it right."

And Alex does.

-o-

It's not easy, but it gets better.

Alex gets better. Three months later, he's back at home and readying to return. His moods have evened out, and Jo's picked up some slack. When he goes back to work, there's a party where everyone smiles warmly like they knew all along.

They didn't.

But Meredith did.

-o-

("I always thought it'd be me and Cristina."

She's never told Alex that she's not sorry it's him.)

-o-

"Hey," Alex says, one day when they're alone in the elevator. "I never said thank you."

She looks at him quizzically. "For what?"

"Saving my life," he says with a shrug.

She huffs. "A lot of people saved your life."

"No," Alex says, looking at her now. "That's not what I mean."

She takes a breath and lets it out, because she knew what he meant the first time. She knew what he meant before he said anything at all. "It's just you and me," she tells him.

"Yeah," he says, smiling a little. "Who'd have thought, right?"

Meredith clucks her tongue and shakes her head as the doors open. "Just you and me."

This isn't what she envisioned when she first started here, not by a long shot.

She knows there are worse things.

-o-

George gets hit by a bus. Izzie gets cancer and just leaves. Cristina takes a job in Switzerland.

Meredith and Alex, though, they stay. Not because they have nowhere to go.

But because they don't want to leave.