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Hour One

 

Meredith Grey walked out from the X-ray room where she’d just had a somewhat informative conversation. Or rather Andrew DeLuca had had one with her. He talked, she mostly listened, informative non the less. It is a strange feeling, that of knowing someone has an interest in you. It’s one thing to suspect there might be an interest, but knowing for certain there is, that’s a feeling you can’t really describe.

If the interest is not returned the feeling might go more towards uncomfortable and/or getting a little high on yourself, they like me, I must be special. If, you are of the kind of person with a good self confident. If you’re not, you might believe they are having a go at you, trying to make a fool out of you. When the feeling is reciprocated, the feelings mentioned above, might still apply. But there might also be a lot of thinking to be done.

Meredith Greys is neither of high on her self, nor does she have a low self esteem. Her confidence is just where it is supposed to be. She is aware. She is accomplished  in her work, she is a mother of three, she considers herself a good friend and a fair boss. And though, having turned forty a few months ago, Meredith feels her looks haven’t declined, in fact, she feels more comfortable in her own skin than she did ten years ago, but maybe that’s something that comes with ageing..?

Meredith has been in love before, she married the love of her life. Like all couples they’d had their issues to work through, but they were happy together. After Derek died, Meredith haven’t felt the need to seek out new relations, she has felt completely content leading the life she is now, single mother and successful at work, she doesn’t need more.

She thought for a while she maybe could build something with Nathan Riggs, they were at the same place when it came to love. The connection they’d shared, based of them both still grieving the loss of previous partner. Maybe the grief they still bore, is why she didn’t feel hurt or jealous when Owen's sister, and Riggs fiancee Megan, came back to life. Riggs got what both he and Meredith most wanted. Their love of their life back. She was genuinely happy for him.

There was that doctor, sometime after Riggs, Nick Marsh. Even though she likes to pretend otherwise, there was an attraction. Though mostly intellectual. Even so, Meredith would never go there, he was her patient. She might have thrown ethics out the window before, but she would never date a patient. That’s all he ever would be, her patient.

This thing with deLuca and Linc, this triangle. It’s something she hasn’t experienced in a long time, since high school, she thought. Is this what this is? Highschool? Everyone crushing on Meredith week? Thinking about, sometimes it seems like even Helm has a crush on Meredith.. you’re being stupid Meredith, Helm is a sweet girl, she’s just eager to learn.

Funny how many thoughts you can have just walking 30 feet.. Meredith smiled to herself, pushing the button for the elevator. You amaze me, Dr Grey. His voice echoed through her mind. The doors opened and she stepped in. Behind her, she heard running footsteps. She spun around.

”NO!" She trew her hand out for the doors not to close behind them. I will think about what you've said..

”What? I’m going to the OR.” DeLuca smiled.

”You’re following me." Meredith accused. When I'm able to think.

”I’m going to your OR. I’m on the case.” You’re looking at me like I’m a child. She stared at him, knowing full well she can’t kick him off the case he has been on for weeks, just because he professed his interest in her, and that she might just may return said interest.

”Okey.” He said, while he stepped into the elevator. ”I will stand over here. And I will be silent. And I won’t look at you.” Meredith gave the doors a look that said fine, but I am not pleased, and pushed the button for the OR floor.

Meredith stood with her back to DeLuca, facing the closed doors, while the elevator slowly moved upwards. She could feel his eyes in the back of her neck. So much for not looking, Meredith halfsmirked, knowing he atleast couldn’t see her face.

”I can feel y..” She started to say, when the elevator suddenly stopped . The unexpectency of the stop almost made Meredith fall to the floor. Before DeLuca could catch her, she regained her balance. The elevator went dark, except for the emergency lights on the railing.

Meredith tried pushing the button, ”we’re stuck."

DeLuca reached in front of her, to test the button. Nothing.

Merediths eyes darted between the walls, the roof, the floor and then back at the walls. Her breath became shorter, more shallow. She couldn’t focus here eyes, they just darted back and forth without control. I can’t see, I can’t breathe, I am falling but I feel like I’m drowning, I can’t breathe. It’s dark, I can’t see, what’s happening, I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe. What’s going on, where am I, why is it so dark, I know I know why, but I can’t remember. I’m know I’m on land but I am drowning, I can’t get any air.

Mer..” I can’t breathe, I feel like I’m dying, I’m drowning.

”Mered..” A voice.. Derek? Derek, is that you? Did I die? Did I drown? Where is the air, where is up?

”Meredith" Derek? That voice, Derek, it’s not your voice. Who?

Meredith" who? I can feel someone’s hands on my arms, on my face, concerned hands

Meredith, you’re hyperventilating, focu..” Andrew, Andrew is talking to me, his voice, I’m haven’t drowned, he’s saying something, what..?

”Focus on my voice, Meredith, try to slow your breath” breathe, breathe, I’m alive, I can’t control my breath.

”Focus on me, focus on my breathing, Meredith. Breathe in with me.. slowly.. breathe out.”

”A.. an.. dew.. wha..” I can’t talk, I can’t move, why can’t I move, Andrew? I can hear you, I can’t talk.

Meredith, you are having a panic attack, you are hyperventilating, you have cramps through out your body, because you don’t get enough oxygen.” Cramps, that’s why I can’t talk, my mouth, my face has cramps.

”focus" focus. ”focus, on my voice” focus, voice, your soft voice. ”bring your mind back to me, Meredith. Focus on me, follow my breath, in.. Out.. In.. Out.. ” In.. Out..In..Out.. Focus.. Light, eyes, Andrews eyes, Andrews brown eyes. Warmth.

There you are” He smiles, I look into his eyes, they help me focus, focus on my breathing.

”Slow and steady, you are alright, I’m here with you, I will help you through this."  In.. Out..Slow..In.. Out.. His hands are massaging mine, I try to bend my fingers, but they won’t listen. In.. out.. I’m sitting on the floor, when did I sit down? In.. Out.. His hands have moved, their holding my head, I didn’t realise my head was so heavy, it feels nice, not holding my head up by myself.. in.. out..

Now you starting to relax, that’s good. You’re coming back now. You need to try and talk, I know it’s difficult now, but it will ease the cramp in your face” Talk..

”..an..dew..” In.. Out.. Talk.. ”Th..than..k.. you..” My tongue won’t follow command ”I… I… ca can..t.. ta..”

”I know, Meredith, it’s the cramp, but you need to try, the movements will help ease the cramps. Here, start with your hands, press you fingers towards mine" deluca put his hand against Meredith, palm against palm, fingers against smaller fingers. I feel calmer.. almost relaxed.. I feel weightless..  I feel heavy.. In.. Out.. DeLuca pressed her fingers backwards, until it was almost uncomfortable, then he relaxed and let her do the same to him, back and forth. ”Say my name, Meredith, repeat my name until the cramps let go" In.. Press.. Out.. Relax..

And.. ew..” In.. Press.. Out.. Relax ” Andr..ew..” In.. Press..Out.. Relax..”.. Andrew… Andrew.. Andrew.. ” It feels so strange, saying his name, over and over again..

”Andrew, I’m sorry..”

”For what" he looked confused.

”For this” she said gesturing towards her self.

”Hey..” His voice is so soft ”Hey.. Listen, this is nothing to be sorry about. This is a completely normal reaction. There’s nothing to say sorry about, okey.”

Meredith nodded, feeling like a lump of clay, relaxed, but yet so very unrelaxed. Body feeling sore. Tense. She sighed, glad to get proper air back in her lungs, clenched her fists, unclench them, still stiff from the cramp, but under her control now.

“It’s been awhile..” Meredith leaned her head against the wall.

“This has happened before?” DeLuca looked at her with concerned eyes.

She nodded. “Years ago, after the plane crash"

DeLuca had heard about the plane crash, rumours, nurses talking in the hallways. The crash had killed Lexi Grey, Meredith sister, and Dr Sloan. Dr Robbins had lost her leg, Meredith’s husband had almost lost the usage of his hands. They said the group had been lost in the woods for almost a week.

“I could never imagine how that must have been..” Meredith looked at him. “People talk..”

“Usually I can control myself through the panic attacks. Usually I’m alone when this has happened, so I kind of have to try to regain control myself. I think you being here made it worse..”

“I’m so sorry Meredith” DeLuca slumped down opposite to Meredith, allowing her some space.

“You also made it better, Andrew” Meredith smile slightly. “How did you know how to help me?”

“My cousin” DeLuca said, somewhat relieved. “My cousin lived with me and my mom when we were in high school, she grew up in a broken home, a lot of heavy baggage. She used to get them pretty often. She’s one of the strongest people I know.”

They sat quiet opposite to each other for long while, Meredith breathing deeply, her eyes closed, DeLuca watching her.

 

 

Chapter Text

Hour two

 

Deluca was the one to eventually break the silence.

“How are you feeling?”

“Better… “

“Good."

Silence.

How long have we been here...? How long will we be in here…? Why are we stuck here, what happened...? Why am I stuck here with Deluca? He was not supposed to be here now. I need to think. Think about what he said. I can’t think when he is sitting right opposite to me, in this tiny space, I need space, this is the opposite to what I need. I need t...

“You were about to say something before, what was that?” DeLuca broke her train of thoughts.

Huh...? “Huh...?”

“Before. Just before the elevator stopped, you said ‘I can feel...’”

Oh, that... Meredith smiled slightly. “I was going to say: I can feel your eyes in my neck. So much for not looking at me. I could feel your eyes burning in the back of my neck.” She started laughing, uncontrollably laughing. Oh god, I can’t stop. It was that type of tension release kind of laugh, not because something was funny but rather because of what else can you do in a situation like this.

“Are you alright, Meredith?” DeLuca chuckled, not really knowing why. Something about Meredith laughing, hearing the sound, made him joyful.

“Yeah." Meredith wheezed through the laughs. “This situation, you, me, this elevator, it’s a bit too much. You know, the elevators at this hospital have seen more drama than an episode of ‘the days of our lives'"

“Really, didn’t think you were a daytime soap opera fan"

“I’m not" laughing starting subside a bit. “Everything happens in these elevators” Derek proposed in here. “Wouldn't surprise me if someone even has had sex in here. Hell, there’s even been a surgery in here" George.

“Really” DeLuca raised an eyebrow.

“Yeah, way back, when I was an intern. A cop had been shot in the chest. Alex and another intern, George, got stuck in the elevator with the patient, when he went into cardiac arrest. Through a tiny gap in the door, George got help from an attending to perform open heart surgery.”

“Wow! That’s... wow!”

Meredith got to her feet.

“We need to get out of here, do you have your phone, we can call for help”

“I don’t have it with me, I left it in my locker before going to see you.”

Damn it.

“I left mine too, didn’t think I would need it before Cece’s surgery.”

“So, what do we do, seems the power is out completely, must be the storm... Oh god!! Cece...! what if she is stuck in another elevator?” Deluca stood up, his calm demeanour was replaced with worry for Cece’s sake. He has grown so much the last few weeks. Or was he grown before, I never thought about it, I never notice... He has a care for patients I haven’t seen in my residents in a long while. He is brave, he is honest.

“I’m sure she’s fine, Andrew, Cece was supposed to been taken up for prep an hour before we got stuck here. Both she and the donor will be fine, the rest of the hospital is on the backup generators.”

“Are you sure they are working, the elevator isn’t going anywhere?”

“They’re not supposed to, during an outage, the generators won’t work forever, so to save the power for the most critical equipment, the powers aren’t diverted to the elevators.” Meredith explained.

You're incredible.

“So, what do we do?”

Get out of my head.

“I don’t know, scream for help?”

“Could try. HEY!! ANYBODY THERE!” DeLuca banged on the door.

“HELP! WE’RE STUCK HERE! ANYONE!”

“HELLO! SOMEONE, ANYONE!”

No use. “No use, Andrew, they can’t hear us"

Meredith slid down in the floor again, DeLuca followed, sitting down next to her.

“Perfect ending to a perfect week.” Meredith said sarcastically.  

“Do you want to talk?”

Yes. “No.”

Silence again ...

“I see something green.”

“What?” Meredith furrowed her brows.

“A game me and my cousin used to play on long car rides, I say: I see something whatever, and you guess. I see something green."

“Andrew, there’s nothing green in here"

“Yes, there is" That grin of his…

Meredith looked unamused around. “The ground floor button.”

“Yes, your turn.”

“Andrew, this is stupid"

“Yes, it is, but who know how long well be stuck here, and you don’t want to talk, so there isn’t much else to make the time go faster.”

He’s got a point.

“Fine... I see something...” Meredith looked around trying to find something. “Brown...” and warm.

“Oh, come on, you need to make it a little bit harder than that, the walls"

yes” no. Your eyes.

I think the last person who looked at me like that was Derek. I see how you look at me, Andrew, like I am the sun you orbit around.

“I see something...”

“I’m not sorry either" Meredith suddenly said, not really prepared for the words herself.

“Sorry?”

Meredith took a deep breath, regretting the words she hadn’t meant to confess.” I’m not sorry you kissed me at the wedding either.”

Deluca sat silent, just watched her.

“I felt like I was drowning, before. I couldn’t breathe, this week, too much has happened. My VIP in Los Angeles, Cece, family issues... Linc, you... I just wanted you to know...”

“I’m sorry Meredith, maybe I shouldn’t have told you now.”

“You didn’t know, I’m glad you did. But there is a lot to think about.” It’s not just me, I can’t just throw myself out there, it’s my kids too. I appreciate how you were with Flor the other week, but are you prepared for a woman with three children. I'm your attending, you dated Maggie, you are about 10 years younger than me. I do know Maggie doesn't care, I was there, I won’t lie, hearing it pleased me. But there are issues to consider.

“Meredith, where did you go?” Andrew interrupted her thoughts.

“Thoughts...”

But Dr. Grey, if you don’t fight, if you don’t try. if you don’t do your part, and you don’t squeeze all the light and live and joy out if this one life you been given...

“Have talked anything to Dr bello?” Meredith asked to get Cece’s words out of her head.

“No, not since she left for Switzerland. We thought it better to just make a clean break.” Deluca said, a sflicker of pain went by his eyes at the memory of Sams departure.

“Heartbreak is hard enough, no point in prolonging the pain...”

Deluca nodded. “I know, it’s what you said that day at the wedding. There will be heartbreak, and there will be love again.”

Well that’s a shame, you like him?

I’m his teacher.

You don’t want to kiss him again?

“How do you know Maggie doesn’t care?” Meredith asked, suddenly curious.

“I asked her. After she, in the words of Dr Shepherd, Maggie tried to shove me down her throat.” Deluca chuckled at the slightly uncomfortable memory in the O.R. with Dr Hunt.

“Heh... Amelia has a way with her words"

“Anyway, Maggie said our history is ancient, practically non-existent.”

 I do... I do want to kiss him again. There are so many reasons why. There is an equal amount of reasons why not.

“Stop looking at me like that.” Meredith accused.

“Like what?” chuckles, always with the smile.

“Like you see everything in my mind, look at the wall.” She pointed to the wall across, where she resolutely stared herself.

That smile again. You know fully well you get under my skin.

Okay.”

“Okay.”

Silence.

”Sono umane situazioni 
Quei momenti fra di noi”~ deluca quietly hummed. ”I distacchi e i ritorni. Da capirci niente poi 
Già come vedi 
Sto pensando a te

oh yeah, s~”

“Really, Deluca, Ramazzotti?” Meredith interrupted.

“What’s wrong with Ramazzotti? And what happened to ‘Andrew’?” Deluca said with mocked hurt, still with a smile on his face.

“’Andrew’ flew out the window when you started to serenade me with cheesy Italian love song you don’t think I can’t understand”

“There’s no windows in here.” Deluca shot back. “And I know you don’t understand Italian.” Don’t look smug Deluca.

“I was a big fan on Tina Turner back then.” Meredith said with mock confidence. “where you even born when that song came out”

“as a matter of fact, I was.” He answered, with the biggest smile he could muster. “I was 4.”

4! That song came out in ’93. That would make him...

“Christ, Deluca... You are 11 years younger than me...”

“So…?”

“So, that doesn’t bother you? That I am forty, that I was 15 when you were 4 years old?”

He looked at her, then just stated a simple:

 “No.”

Chapter Text

Hour three

 

“Does it bother you?” DeLuca asked. He didn’t seem hurt by the possibility that it might bother her. He appeared more curious.

Does that bother me? An age gap of eleven years... I don’t know. I feel like it should bother me, but I am not sure if it actually does. Is it that others might be bothered by an older woman and a younger man. I don’t care what people think of me, they can think whatever the like of me. But in general, society has these ‘rules’ just about everything. A relationship with a woman being the older one, is more looked down on than vice verses. A relationship with Deluca would be stigmatized by most. Is it the fact that society want me be bothered by the age difference, that make me feel like I should be? I have never really thought about this before. Derek was twelve years older than me. I never had a second thought about that. Neither what I actually thought about it, nor what anyone else would have thought. Our relationship was natural for us, and for people around, no one had a second thought about it. Because that is what is seen as normal?

“I don’t thi...”

“HELLO! Anyone in there?” Someone was banging on the elevator doors from the outside, noise coming from the top off the doors.

Meredith leaped to her feet. “YES!! We're in here”

“How many are you? Do you have any patients in critical condition with you?” The voice from the outside asked.

 “No, we're just two. Dr DeLuca and Dr Grey.”

“We are prioritising the elevators with patients first. You will have to stay in there for some time more.” The voice said.

Deluca took the two steps from the back wall to the door, standing slightly behind Meredith. A bit closer than he really would ha needed to. Subconsciously, Meredith turned her head, just a quarter of an inch, taking in his scent.

“Dr Grey really needs to get out, there’s an important surgery.” Deluca said somewhat frustrated.

“I’m sorry, unless the patient is lying open on the table, there is nothing I can do. We have protocols to follow in these situations and we need to get the patient out first.”

“Could you do us a favour? Can you find out if Cece Colvin made it to the OR? Then it is urgent” DeLuca asked.

“I will send someone to find out.” With that the voice disappeared.

 Meredith folded her arms in front of her chest and pinched the bridge of her nose. So close...

“DAMN IT!” Meredith threw her hand in a punch towards the doors, the metal clanged in the quiet air. “Damn it...” Meredith said in a whisper, this time to the sudden, self-inflicted pain in her hand.

I know you have option. Pick me, choose me, love me...

Quiet head.

Deluca put a hand on her shoulder and turned her around. They were standing close, almost to close, for the second time today. His hand slowly travelled south on her arm towards her hand. He took her hand, examined it for a second. The punch hadn’t left any marks on her knuckles.

“Hey... It’s going to be fine, they’ll find Cece in the OR, and then they will come and get us out.” Deluca put his other hand on her neck, thumbs resting on her cheeks. Unforcedly forced her face up to look at him, so he could look at her. Kiss me again. No, don’t kiss me again. Kiss me. Don’t. I need to think. Think about this. If you kiss me, I don’t know what will happen. It has been such a long time. Kiss me. I don’t want things to go too quickly.

Meredith eyes darted back and forth between the both of DeLuca’s, occasionally darting down to his lips only to quickly return to his eyes. Slowly, DeLuca closed the distance between them. Without her own will, Meredith mirrored DeLuca, looking up at him. She felt herself moving closer to him, unable to stop, slightly parting her lips. Deluca smiled at her, closing the last distance, giving Meredith a soft kiss on her forehead. Meredith closed her eyes, the disappointment stung in her chest, while gratitude sang in her head. I think you know, that I wanted it, and that I didn’t.

“Thank you, Andrew.”

“So, we’re back to ‘Andrew’ now, huh?” DeLuca chuckled softly, hands still on her neck.

“Just this once.” She smiled back. “I need some distance between us...” Meredith looked down, away from his eyes, hoping she wouldn’t ruin the moment they’d just shared. “And since I can’t get a physical distance in here, your name will have to act as it. I hope you understand.”

“I do.” His eyes looked at her with a warm glow of affection, and just before he let his hands go from her face, he allowed his left thumb stroke her cheek.

“Grey!” Baileys voice came from the outside.

“Bailey, what’s going on” Meredith almost hopped out of DeLucas grasp. Bailey, I need to get out of here.

“The storm took down a couple of powerlines outside the hospital. It will take some time to get them up, they can’t get them back up while the winds still are going.” Bailey explained.

“Is Cece and the donor in the O.R.?”

“Grey, they never made it up there. I was with the donor, when we got stuck, we got out an hour ago. We were lucky, the elevator hadn’t moved far from our floor before we got stuck. We got off on the same floor we got on. Same with Cece, she’s back on her ward. The donor is back on life support. We can’t move them to an O.R until we get the power back.”

“We’re not a priority to get out.” It wasn’t a question, DeLuca just state the fact.

“I’m sorry, no. There are more patients to get out, some are more complicated, between floors. They’re struggling to move the elevators enough up to a floor to get them out safely.” Bailey said.

“Alright... Thanks Bailey, keep me posted on any changes...” Meredith sounded tired.

“oh, and Grey, Cece wanted me to tell you ‘there is nothing wrong with that one.’ Whatever she means with that, she wouldn’t say. Maybe it makes sense to you?” With that, Bailey walked of leaving Meredith and DeLuca alone.

It does, and I know...

“What did she mean?” DeLuca asked.

“Nothing... sit down, might as well get comfortable, looks like we'll be here for a while more.” Meredith slid down on the floor again.

I know there is nothing wrong with him, there is nothing wrong with Linc either. The differences between the two of them... Linc, the pretty boy, not really on the list. Chopped his hair off to make a kid feel better about losing their hair... Andrew, sweet Andrew, his eyes smile every time he looks at me, even if his lips don’t. He was so sweet with Flor. He stepped out of a big surgery for her, just because she had a crush and was to embarrassed about him seeing inside her belly. Linc doesn’t seem the type for more than a few hook ups, Andrew there could be more, I’ve felt our connection. I know he was right when he said there is something there, between us. I don’t know what I want, do I want something casually, or do I want something more... I don’t want to hurt Andrew, he just recovered from his last heartbreak. 

 

Chapter Text

Hour four

Meredith was lying on the floor, hands on her sternum, knees bent, staring at ceiling. She wasn’t completely unaware of DeLuca eyes on her.

I thought I would live with Derek for the rest of my life. When Derek died I thought I would live alone for the rest of my life. I thought I never would want to love someone else. I might have been in love with Riggs. But not completely. A connection in loss. We wouldn’t have worked in the long run, even if we wanted it. I think the grief would have caught up with us. Derek has been gone for five years now, maybe it’s time to move on. Have love again, have a real, genuine love. Built on sincere affection and positive ground. I don’t know Andrew very well, but I know him more than I know Linc. I know Andrew is a true-blue person, I do feel like I could trust him with anything.

“You are looking at me.” She said towards the ceiling.

“I enjoy looking at true beauty.”

“Cheesy.” Deluca laughed lightly about that. It’s all I’ve been able to think about. It’s all I’ve been able to think about. DeLuca’s words echoed between her own in her mind. She didn’t know which words were hers, and which was his.

“There isn’t much else to look at in here, and I want to memorize all of the lines of you face while I have a chance to do so uninterrupted.” He said innocently.

We can keep going through all the reasons of why not.

 “There’s a whole notice board with stuff you could look at” she partly smirked at him.

Deluca got up “Well... Helm is looking for a new roommate... Dr Carlson is looking for subjects for a new arthritis study... Oh, impractical jokers have show in Seattle next week, wonder if there still are tickets left...”

“Impractical what?” Meredith turned her to look at him, eyebrows furrowed.

“Jokers, a gang of comedians pulling pranks on each other and stranger, hilarious."

“Oh, like candid camera?”

“Candid what?” DeLuca mirrored the quizzical look Meredith had just a moment ago. She laughed. “I love hearing you laugh.” He said. Meredith when back looking at the ceiling, trying hard not to smile.

“Hmm Dr Mead is subletting a studio apartment... To an affordable price, maybe I could finally get off the couch surfing.” Deluca ripped the paper of the board and put it in his pocket. He laid down next to Meredith.

“So, what is so interesting in the ceiling, you’ve staring at it for half an hour now.” He asked, looking at her.

I’m sorry, I should Never have kissed you like that. I am not sorry I kissed you.

“I’m counting dots...” She purposely didn’t look at him. With him lying next to her, shoulder to shoulder, they would be to close if she turned her head.

“How many?

“4378.”

“Really?” He raised an eyebrow.

 Linc is the safe choice of the two. Safe in the way that I don’t have any real feelings for him. There is an attraction, yes, but no real affection. With Andrew there is more, and that scares me.

“No, I have no idea”

Deluca smiled at that. He turned his head away from Meredith, looking at the ceiling. They lay there, silently, staring at the ceiling, seemingly deep in thoughts.

I respect you so much. It’s fine. I’m flattered. You have no idea what you awoke when you kissed me, Andrew. I had no idea. It was sloppy, tasted of beer, it was so unexpected I didn’t have a chance to react, other than to push you away. Funny how one tiny moment can change the feelings you have for someone. Before that drunken kiss, you were just another resident, someone who would come and go, just like all the others. After that moment, “dreams...” dreams that wakes me in the middle of the night, dreams that escalates to something I don’t know how to deal with. You awakened something in me, something that have been dormant for a long while. I’m just not sure what that is, is it the want to have someone to share my life with again? I don’t know…

During her trail of thoughts, she wasn’t aware she’d said one word out loud. She was pulled out of her mind by Deluca’s “What?”

“’What’ what?” Meredith only turned her eyes to look at DeLuca, there was a glimmer in his eyes she didn’t quite understand. Then she realised, her face grew cold, she’d let something slip, again. Why can’t I control my mouth today? Meredith was hoping it was dark enough for DeLuca not to notice. Maybe he didn’t see ... But unlike Meredith, who was facing the ceiling refusing to look at him, Deluca was lying with his head turned looking straight at her. He was only a couple of inches away, and he had noticed. Noticed the slight change of colour in her face, the way she closed her eyes for a moment, the way her jaw clenched.

“You said ‘Dreams’.

“No, I didn’t!” she replied slightly too quickly. Denial, always an option that works out, what are you thinking, Meredith?

“Yes, you did” Now he really was going to take notice to her reactions, the microscopic reactions she isn’t even aware she’s having. “Are you having dreams, Meredith?”

“NO!”, she said a little too loud, jaw very much clenched.

At that moment DeLuca realised, and he smiled, a genuine joyful smile. Not at her expense, not at her evident embarrassment, but because now he knew, knew for sure. He had gotten under her skin, he was in her subconscious.

“You have had dreams about me.” He said it so warmly, so gently, Meredith felt like she was about to take a bone from a puppy if she tried to lie.

Denial, denial, resignation.

 “Yes.” She sighed. “The first few nights after you kissed me at the wedding...”

Meredith was quiet for a while, so long Deluca almost thought she wasn’t going to say anything more about it.

Chapter Text

 

Hour five

“It was quick. Messy. Your lips tasted of beer. It was unexpected. Definitely unexpected. I really wasn’t trying to seduce you,” Meredith said somewhat tiredly, like someone who had given up hiding. “But it stuck with me. You stuck with me. It’s not the first time I’ve been kissed since Derek, it’s not the first time there has been attraction, or desire. But it has never stuck with me this way, like it has now. I don’t know what this is.” She made a gesture with her hand, indicating the undefined between them.

DeLuca didn’t answer. She wasn’t looking for him to give her answers. He understood, this was something she needed to figure out herself.

“So, yes, I have had dreams about you. Dreams that wake me up in the middle of the night. One kiss that changed everything I thought I wanted, I thought I needed...”

Confession, honesty. It was brave. Not all doctors are brave enough to tell that kind of truth... her previous words echoed through her mind, then his while I’m feeling brave. I’m not sorry…

Her last words hung in the quiet air. They could both feel it, where they were, lying on floor. Meredith didn’t explain what the change actually was. If she was honest, she wasn’t really sure she knew herself. It’s just that feeling, when you can’t put your finger on the issue, but something is changing.

“You never answered me before,” DeLuca said after a moment of silence.

“I never answered you on what?”

“If you really understand the lyrics of Cose della vita.” His aim was to lighten the air a bit.

“How much honesty do you want from me today, DeLuca?” she asked,  smiling but only partly joking.

“All of the honesty, thank you,” he said as if he was ordering food at the cafeteria. “Also, you never said if our age gap would bother you.”

She turned her head to look at him. He was looking up at the ceiling as they both had been for some time now. He was close, closer than she had realised.

Dunk... Dunk...  Dunk... Heart is beating hard... I shouldn’t...

“DeLuca...” He turned to look at her, noses just an inch apart. “Don’t read too much into this...” His eyes turned to a quizzical look, trying to figure out what she meant.

Meredith slightly turned her head, stretched her neck an inch and closed the little distance that was between them. Lips against lips. Hers, soft. His, a bit rugged from the beard, but still gentle. For a moment they were both just testing out the feeling of each other’s lips against their own, both relishing in the feeling of lips against lips, savouring each other’s tastes. Lips moving slowly in a hesitant dance. Testing the limit of what would be allowed. This doesn’t feel wrong.

Moving in Pari passu, equally hesitant, equally forceful. DeLuca was the one to move a step forward, raising his upper body on his forearm, moving his head to be above Meredith’s, getting the advantage of kissing her deeper. Teeth gently nibbling at her lips. Tongue testing the border between his lips and hers. She wouldn’t completely let him in.

This feels too right. I’ve got to stop this... She didn’t want to stop this just yet. Just a little bit more... DeLuca put his free hand on her cheek, not to force her to continue, but not to let her stop just yet. This has got to stop now, I can't let this continue, this was not what I was expecting. If I don’t stop this now, I’m not sure how long I can stay in control. I really want to let go... And for a moment she did. Meredith placed her hands on his neck, just below his ears, pulling him closer to her, letting him completely in. Tongues dancing, tasting, feeling the sensation of being so very close. This is crazy, what am I doing... I want more...

A tiny, almost inaudible moan escaped her lips. DeLuca felt it more that heard it. It made him smile against her lips. A tiny victory against the enigma that is Meredith Grey. DeLuca put his arm around her shoulder and spun her around, so she laid halfway on top of him. Her right leg landed almost between his, letting her be in control of how far this would go. He just wanted to relish in the feeling of having her body flush against his, enjoy every second, making sure to save every sensation in a special box in his mind marked ‘Meredith Grey’. I never want to stop. I had forgotten this feeling, of having a man so close against my own body.

DeLuca’s hands slowly traveled down the sides of her body. He let them stop for a moment by her hips. He moved his hands up to her lower back, just slightly letting his little fingers slip underneath the hem of her scrub shirt – carefully, not to go too quickly to scare her out of the moment, but desperately wanting to touch skin. Oh God... This has to stop. Now.

Meredith raised her head, looking at him. Eyes dazed, lips parted and somewhat swollen from its performances. She moved her body slightly, making DeLuca’s hands move her shirt further up. Without thinking, DeLuca put his hands back where they were, onto the now exposed skin. Oh God... A jolt went through her body, mind foggy with something new, something old, something she had not felt in a very long time. She bent her head down, ready to continue what she had started moments earlier, not really expecting this result.

Then the elevator made a hop.

The elevator moved only a few inches, but it was enough to get reality to fall back on them. Meredith was the first to move, sitting up, suddenly feeling very sober. That almost went too far...

“That was...” Deluca put a hand on his forehead, trying to calm his breath, still lying on the floor.

“Yeah...” Meredith breathed. “DeLuca...  erh... Please, don’t...”

“I know,” he said softly. “Don’t read too much into it.” From where he was lying he reached up and brushed a strand of hair from her eyes and tucked it behind her ear. “You’re not ready.”

 

“Dr Grey,” the man from earlier called from the outside. “How are you doing in there? We’re trying to get you out. Unfortunately, the rotation is stuck, making moving the elevator manually very difficult. It will take some time, but we are working on it.”

“Okay.” Meredith felt exhausted. She leaned her head against the wall. She closed her eyes, remembering the sensations she just had. That was unbelievable. That was not what I had expected. I... so close, I just had to see... to know... I wanted to know more than a drunken kiss. But what do I do now? I’m no closer to figuring out what I want... or am I? It feels like what I want, and what I want are two very different things. It’s the same sentence but the two wants are two very different things. Maybe...

“DeLuca...” she hesitated.

“Yeah...?”

She looked at him, looking back at her.

“What do you want from me?” She emphasised ‘you’.

The warmth in his eyes calmed her somewhat.

“Anything you’re willing to give,” he said it as if it were the most evident thing in the world.

“But what does that mean?”

DeLuca sat up next to her. “It means exactly that. Anything you are willing to give,” he said softly.

Anything?

“if you can only give something casual, I’ll settle for that. If you can give a whole relationship, I’ll settle for that. And...”

“And if I can’t give either of those...?”

“I’ll settle for that too.” He said it like he meant it, and he did. “I just hope that in any case, you can give me friendship. I want to know you, Meredith. Everything that makes you who you are. The good and the bad.”

Meredith didn’t say anything, she just took his hand and squeezed it gently. She didn’t let it go.

The elevator moved again, jumped down a few inches. A few inches more until we get out. Both a relief and not at the same time... I could stay here with him for a long time... but I think that could be dangerous...

“You shouldn't have to settle... You deserve a woman who is deserving of you.”

“I think you are. You are worth waiting for, Meredith.”

I’m not sure I am. I am dark and moody. I have so much behind me, that I still carry on my shoulders.

“Linc would be the safer choice...” Meredith said, still holding DeLuca’s hand.

“Why do you think that?” DeLuca asked. He didn’t seem hurt by the statement, but rather like that was a challenge he could take on and he just needed all the information before going forward with said challenge.

Meredith looked him in the eyes with genuine honesty. “Because I could never fall in love with him.”

 

Chapter Text

Hour six

It took another fifteen minutes for the elevator to move far enough down to the next floor, for them to be able to squeeze out. Fifteen moderately awkward minutes. Awkward for Meredith. She’d been brutally honest. Said she’d rather choose Linc over DeLuca, simply because there wouldn’t be any love there. It had been fifteen very quiet minutes. Meredith had been deep in thought, as had DeLuca. He didn’t feel awkwardness, but he did feel the tension that hung over Meredith, over the last things that had been said. But he wasn’t going to give up now, he had just been thrown a bone. Meredith had said indirectly she could fall in love with him, that she could never fall for Linc. He knew she just had to realise that love was worth choosing.

Meredith knew she had been giving DeLuca all kinds off mixed signals, her words saying one thing and her actions saying something very different. Andrew doesn’t seem confused, though, by my behaviour. He just seems to accept it, just patiently waiting for me to make my mind up. It is true what I said before, the safest choice is to choose Linc? Without love, it wouldn’t risk becoming complicated.

As soon as the doors had been open enough for them to get out, Meredith had made a beeline for the staircase. She was gone before DeLuca managed to get out. I’m never taking the elevator again. She almost ran through the darkened corridors towards the attendings’ lounge, knowing she would be free from DeLuca in there. He’s a resident, and the residents have their own lounge . There would be no reason for him to be there now. Not that she really wanted to be free from him, she just needed him not to be within three feet of her for a minute.

Meredith walked over to the counter in the attendings’ lounge. There was still some coffee left in the pot. It was cold, but Meredith poured it into a cup anyway. Cold coffee is better than no coffee. She took a sip, and immediately regretted the decision. The cold bitterness swirled around her mouth before she swallowed. The taste of DeLuca, that had been stuck on her taste buds since the kiss half an hour ago, disappeared with the coffee. Meredith regretted the decision for coffee for a second time.

Where did I put my phone…?

She looked around for a second. There it was, by the window. She walked over and picked it up. Not much battery left, though she had left it plugged in. But with no power for the last five hours, the battery had drained more than it had charged. Seven messages and three missed calls. She ignored them as she went to sit on the couch, coffee still in her hand. She pressed the icon for the net browser, and typed, ‘cose della vita English’. She found several suggestions, but they all had, more or less, the same message.

“Heard you got it on with DeLuca,” a voice said above her head. Meredith looked, shocked, up at Linc.

“What!?” How did he ... Did Deluca say something? No, he would never…

“I said, heard you got stuck with DeLuca.” He doesn’t know . Meredith mentally sighed of relief.  “In the elevator, I mean. Thought you didn’t take elevators, only stairs,” he joked.

 “Yeah, that was the last time,” she said, turning her phone off.

 “How do you feel, still up for drinks? Our shift is technically over, and there isn’t much we can do at the hospital while the power is still out.”

“I can’t…” Meredith said absently, her mind turned back to previous events. Soft lips, tickle of a beard. “As soon as the power comes back I have a surgery.” I need to talk to Cece. “I have to go.” Meredith leaped to her feet, barley hearing Linc call “Maybe later then” behind her.

Meredith walked the short distance to Cece’s ward. Cece was lying on the bed, holding the oxygen mask over her mouth. She smiled when she saw Meredith standing in the doorway. “Dr. Grey. You finally got out.”

Meredith walked into the room, pulling up a chair by the bed and sat down. In a very unprofessional-Dr-Grey-manner she let her head fall down on the bed with a ‘thunk’. “Why would you make me do this? I was good, I was happy, it was uncomplicated.”

Cece took another breath in the mask.

“Meredith. I’ll call you Meredith, now. I think the situation calls for informalities  now.” She put her hand on Meredith’s head. “You know I really have nothing to do with this, This would be complicated with or without me. He kissed you before you even met me, remember.” Cece knew, even without Meredith saying, what this was about. After all, Cece knew who her doctor had been stuck with.

 A muffled “Yes” came from the mattress.

 “What I can do is try and help you sort this mess out a bit, okay?”

 A muffled ‘Okay” came from the mattress.

 “So. I saw you said yes to drinks with Dr. Lincoln earlier. I also saw a determination in Dr. DeLuca at that moment. What happened between then and now?”

 Meredith lifted her head, suddenly feeling very tired. “DeLuca followed me to the X-ray room. He wanted to apologise for being so honest with you, about the risks of your surgery. He didn’t do anything wrong. It was brave of him. Not many doctors are that brave with their patients. And…” She hesitated.

 “.. And he decided to be more brave. Good boy,” Cece praised DeLuca.

 Meredith continued to explain the last six hours: DeLuca following her to the elevator, the two of them being stuck in there for five hours, the kissing. Cece gave a nod, a comment here and there, a laugh and a couple of “good girl”s about the kissing. And Meredith disappearing without a word from both DeLuca and Linc.

 She threw her head on the mattress again. “I just don’t know what to do… Tell me what to do.”

 “I can’t tell you what to do, I can only nudge you in a direction towards finding love. Who you eventually choose, only you can decide. But not by using your head, You need to use your heart.”

 “I told him the safest choice was to choose Dr. Lincoln…” There was a sadness to Meredith’s voice.

 "But that’s not your desire, though, is it?”

 Meredith looked up at Cece, her eyes answering for her, but her mouth still needing to say the words out loud

 “I’m in love with him.”

 There was a knock in the door. DeLuca stood in the doorway. Meredith looked horrified at Cece. She returned the look with one saying, ‘He hasn’t heard anything’.

 “Dr. Grey, hey. I just wanted to see how Cece was doing.”

 “It’s alright. I should go prepare for when the power comes back on. Cece, we’re going in as soon as we have electricity.” Meredith stood up and turned to walk out. In the doorway, she turned to look at DeLuca. He was talking quietly to Cece, checking her IV.

“I’m sorry, DeLuca... that I ran off so quickly before. I…”

 “I know, Dr. Grey.” His eyes had the same warmth to them as they had had for the last six hours. “I know.” I don’t deserve him.

 When she turned to walk off, she heard Cece saying quietly to DeLuca “Don’t worry, sweetness. She’ll come around.”

 

Chapter Text

Hour seven

She’ll come around. Why is he so understanding? The way I act, I know this isn’t fair. The things I’ve said to him. And still he smiles at me. He doesn’t call me out, he doesn’t push me.

Meredith made her way out of the hospital. Air. Nice, clean air was what she needed. The winds had decreased over the last hour. There was a quietness outside, the calm after the storm. That expression doesn’t come from nothing. She sat down on one of the benches. Not even a breeze... Why may I not go out and climb the trees? Trees have fingers that may steel the eyes from thee… Why may I not go play in the barn? The barn hand may take you and drown you in the tarn… If I let this thing with Andrew continue, will I drown? Will I drown him? I want to love again, I want to let myself love again, to give someone else all that I have. What am I so afraid of? I told Cece I was in love with Andrew. It’s true, what she said the first day she came in to the hospital. She’s like a priest. I didn’t walk into her room to tell her that. I didn’t even know that going in. I knew I could fall. I didn’t know I already had.

Someone sat down next to her. It was Linc.

“You don’t want to date me,” e said. No anger, no hurt in his voice, not even disappointment.

She hesitated “…No…”

“That’s fine.” He smiled at her. “But you really should tell him.”

“...who... how…”

“I’m not blind, Meredith. I’ve seen it for some time now. I’ve seen how he looks at you, how you look at him. It was especially clear that evening by the elevator.” He chuckled. “But I was hoping I might have a shot, and I didn’t want it to be too easy for DeLuca.”

Meredith didn’t know what to say to that. How obvious has this thing been? Has everyone seen it but me? Have I really been that oblivious?

“I see how torn you are now, and I’m not saying I have something to do with that. But either way, I am stepping back.”

Meredith looked at him, a little bit astounded. This was a side of Linc she hadn’t expected.

“It would be too complicated…” she started.

“Why?” he asked. “Being in love is never complicated. It’s everything else around that’s complicated. If you have a genuine connection, and feelings for each other, there is nothing complicated about that. Tell him, Meredith, and let it unfold on its own.”

“I’ve been dancing on my own for such a long time. I don’t know if I know how to be two again…”

“You don’t need to know how.”

“And what if I ruin him? I’m not happy and bubbly, I’m dark and cloudy. I have so much behind me…”

“You can’t let your past dictate what you do with your future. And you can’t ruin someone who won’t let themselves be ruined. DeLuca is a strong guy. He can handle you.”

“I…” Meredith was interrupted by the lights flickering a few times. She looked up to see the hospital becoming lit again.

Linc grinned at her. “You think that was a sign? Maybe you’re not as dark and cloudy as you think.” He winked at her.

Meredith’s phone pinged. It was a message from Bailey. “I have a surgery.” Meredith stood up. “Thanks, Linc.”

 

Walking back into the hospital, Meredith lost herself in her thoughts, her mind replaying the conversation with Linc over and over again. He might have a point. Am I overthinking this? What happens if I just let go, let go of the control I’ve been in? Not really thinking about it, her legs had brought her to the residents’ lounge. She hadn’t really planned on walking there. But the residents’ lounge was where she suddenly found herself.

Only a couple of window lamps were lit in the room. She saw DeLuca by his locker, looking at his phone, the light illuminating his face. She knocked lightly on the open door. He looked up. He smiled.

“We’re going in?” he asked.

“Yeah, they’ve taken Cece up for prep.”

DeLuca put his phone back in his locker and closed the door.

“DeLuca... Andrew... uhm...” she started, hesitantly. He looked at her encouragingly.

“The moments we share, are human situations… The breakups and returns we went through were inconceivable. As you can see, I'm thinking of you... Yes, for some time now.”

He rocognised the the words, though slightly different, as the song he sang in the elevator almost seven hours ago. He knew what she wanted to say, he knew his life just changed. He grinned at her. “You Googled that, didn’t you?”

“Yeah, I did.” She laughed lightly. “I don’t know Italian. And I’m not bothered by you being younger than me.” Her voice turned to a more serious tone. “But are you ready for a woman with three kids? And, dating your boss isn’t easy. Believe me, I’ve done that. I almost lost everything because of it. It’s a balance of keeping work and private life separately. Are you sure you can handle all of this?”

DeLuca hadn’t moved from where he stood by the lockers. He contemplated what she’d just said for a moment.

“Was it worth it?” he asked.

“Yes. It was.”

DeLuca took the four strides over to where she was by the door. In one swift movement, he took her face with both hands, just like he had done that day at the wedding, and he kissed her. He kissed her with all the feelings he had for her, wanting to tell her with his lips that he was ready for everything. The good and the bad. He knew this wasn’t going to be an easy relationship. There were going to be problems and issues working and dating his boss. But Meredith was worth it. She was worth everything.

This time, Meredith didn’t resist. She didn’t push him away. She welcomed him. She pulled him closer to her, feeling all the worries she’d had for some time now wash away. She too knew, this will take work. But finally, making the decision to take the leap, it made it all feel somewhat easier. Making the decision, it felt like everything just fell into place. Everything was just as it should be. This is where I belong. These are the arms I belong in.

DeLuca didn’t want to let her go. But he knew they had somewhere to be soon. He pulled away, looking at her, searching her eyes for any kind of doubt. When he didn’t find any, he smiled.

“I guess I’ll have to tell Cece she’s fired.” Meredith smiled.

“I don’t think she’ll be too heartbroken by that.”

Meredith leaned up, giving him another kiss, a small one, just as a confirmation that this was what she wanted.

“Now, Dr. DeLuca. Are you ready to go and save a life?” she said, back to professionalism.

He beamed at her. “Always, Dr. Grey.”