The day that Addison Adrianne Forbes Montgomery married Derek Christopher Shepherd, her Timer was supposed to stop. The Soulmate Timer was something that everyone was born with. It counted down the exact time you were destined to marry your soulmate to the very second. In the thousands of years since people had first taken notice, it had never been wrong. The marriage of two soulmates was a bonding ritual as well, celebrated in every culture, with many variations.
When Addison looked at her Timer before beginning her wedding preparations, it read 0Y-0D-6H-29M-45S. As she began down the aisle with Derek at her side, their vows complete, she couldn’t help but look at her Timer. She felt her smile begin to fall before she schooled her features. What should have read all zeros, now read 17Y-31D-9H-40M-58S. She felt her stomach drop. When had it changed, and more importantly why?
She waited until she was in the honeymoon suite with Derek before breaking down. He was initially confused at her outburst before he began to console her, revealing that his Timer had changed as well. 12Y-20D-2H-30M-25S. And it didn’t make sense.
When Derek had lost a bet to Mark and was forced to dye his hair hot pink, she’d gotten hot pink highlights in her hair. When he’d gone away for a medical conference, she’d been able to feel his intrigue. Those were the most telling of signs. She was able to feel his emotions and vice versa. They’d dreamed of each other growing up. She knew his eyes, piercing and warm, as much as he knew hers.
So, then what had happened? Did their wires get crossed somehow? Was it actually possible that they weren’t each other’s soulmates? Or had their Timers simply broken?
“What do we do, Derek?” She asked softly. They were laying on their marriage bed, staring off into space, but he met her gaze when she spoke, “We shouldn’t be married. We’re not,” she felt another onslaught of tears, and her voice wobbled as she continued, “We’re not soulmates.”
“I don’t know,” he answered.
“We should get it annulled,” she suggested, “Try to find our real soulmates.”
“No,” his voice was stronger now, full of conviction, “No, my mom might understand, but your parents would see it as the biggest disgrace.”
She swallowed roughly. He was right. The Captain and Bizzy would never understand how their daughter had somehow married someone other than her soulmate.
“So what do we do?” Her voice sounded hollow.
“We make this work,” he looked down at his Timer in disgust, “We’re Addison and Derek. We can do anything. We’ll be okay.”
And for 11 years, Addison believed him.
When she caught Derek cheating with his new scrub nurse Rose, she didn’t bother pretending to be shocked. She knew that he’d been cheating for a couple years now. When he’d gotten platinum blonde highlights in his hair shortly before their tenth wedding anniversary, she knew, even if he did try to hide it. When he became inconsolable on the night of their eleventh anniversary, she knew it wasn’t his emotions he was feeling. He always tried to make the day special for her, even though it was the day they began living a lie. Even if they weren’t soulmates, she did love him.
So, no, finding him in their New York brownstone, in the throes of passion with Rose - friendly, nice, had been a scrub nurse at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital since they’d been in residency -
she knew. There was a certain feeling she got when she looked at them. Not jealousy. No, she couldn’t be jealous over a man that was never hers to begin with. But it was a feeling nonetheless. She was witnessing a connection - the bond that only soulmates could have. It became so abundantly clear that she turned away. For 11 years, she’d hidden the fact that she and Derek weren’t soulmates. They went to every one of his family gatherings, played the happy couple, and she was done. Done with the lies, with the hiding.
She left the signed divorce papers on the kitchen table. She’d already prepared a small duffle bag of clothes, and she grabbed it as she headed out the door. She hailed a cab and headed off to the airport.
It wasn’t until she was on the plane, the beginnings of a rainstorm falling steadily against the windows, that she finally let her tears fall. She mourned the loss of a husband that wasn’t her soulmate, the last 11 years that she’d spent in a loveless marriage when she could’ve been searching for her soulmate.
As the plane took off, she wondered if her soulmate could feel her pain, or if she even had one anymore. It had been so long since she’d felt any other emotions beside her own, and her hair hadn’t changed in years. Knowing her luck, her soulmate would be dead in a ditch somewhere. Maybe she didn’t deserve one after all.
When Meredith Grey first met Sadie Harris, she found herself smitten. For as long as she could remember, she’d been dreaming about the other woman’s enticing emerald eyes; they became thick as thieves, Death and Die, and she’d never been happier. She’d look at her Timer every day since meeting Sadie. After getting out of college, she’d decided to wait a year before med school, much to her mother’s annoyance. But she had Sadie, and it didn’t matter what her mother said. Backpacking through Europe with the woman she loved was enough.
Still, her Timer was a constant reminder that something was wrong. She wanted to marry Sadie now, so why didn’t it match up? 13Y-25D-5M-3H-24S. Why would she have to wait to marry her soulmate?
Sure, there were times that made her think that Sadie wasn’t her soulmate. When she was sad, Sadie was no different, but maybe she just knew how to hide her emotions better. When she’d been showing Sadie old photos from high school, from when she’d dyed her hair hot pink to piss off her mom, Sadie revealed some of her photos from the same time; she’d be lying if she said she wasn’t disappointed. There was no hint of pink at all. Still, she looked at her Timer, wondering why it was faulty. She believed Sadie was her soulmate, despite all the odds against them. Her Timer was wrong. The other indicators were wrong, damn it!
Europe had been fun, amazing, life-changing. It had been everything she’d wanted it to be. She’d even found herself attending a medical conference while she was there, and it had renewed her love of medicine. She’d been so excited to go back to the hotel to tell Sadie what she’d learned. And that was when everything had come crashing down.
She’d never felt more hurt or betrayed in her life than when she’d found Sadie in bed with someone else. There was a whirl of emotions within her, all trying to burst out, and she wasn’t surprised when anger was the first. She was quick to anger, like her mother, but she knew how to keep it in check. She’d quietly packed her belongings, left Sadie a note, booked a flight back to the States, and left. It was probably a really shitty thing to leave her with the bill, but her anger didn’t come without consequences.
She cried the entire plane ride home. She couldn’t help it. She didn’t bother trying to stop it. She couldn’t. Her first love, who she thought was her soulmate, had hurt her beyond words. But she resolved to move past it. She would be better than Sadie Harris, and she would find her soulmate. She glared at her Timer with determination.
By the following week, she was starting at Dartmouth’s School of Medicine.
The Emerald City Bar was buzzing when Addison stepped inside. She wasn’t expecting the cool Seattle air, and the warm bar was a welcomed relief. Seattle Grace Hospital was across the street, and her meeting with Richard had gone well. She was surprised when he’d called her. She’d been in L.A. for a few months, working with Sam and Naomi, and it had been going well. But something had been missing, and she wasn’t sure what it was. She had her suspicions but no confirmation. When Richard called her with a job offer, she’d talked with Sam and Naomi first. She didn’t want to leave them hanging, after all, not when they’d offered her a job after Derek, a place to stay. Her friends could see how miserable she was, and they pushed her to take the job. She called Richard back a few minutes later and agreed. The next afternoon, she’d boarded a flight to Seattle.
She was surprised when Richard first handed her a folder with her divorce papers. It seemed that Derek had sent them to Richard’s hospital, knowing that he’d get them to her. Richard had apologized by not outright telling her, but she’d waved off his apology. His job offer was legitimate, however, and she was beyond grateful for the opportunity. They’d chatted for a bit after she’d finished with her paperwork and photo for her I.D.
Richard Webber had always been a better father than The Captain ever could’ve been, and he understood her heartbreak. He revealed his own Timer, how it flickered between all zeros and a random mix of dates and times.
He explained how he’d managed to have two soulmates, but it wasn’t until he married the first, his wife Adele, that he’d discovered his second, someone that he’d refused to name. He hadn’t been able to leave Adele, but he did admit to finding his second soulmate, how he’d loved her too.
“You cherish your soulmate, Addie,” he’d told her before he had to rush off for surgery, “You find them, and you love them, and you never let them go.”
She’d pondered over his words. If her soulmate did exist - and the numbers on her Timer assured her they did - then she had to find them.
The bar had a nice atmosphere about it, and she felt herself relaxing immediately. A bar right across from a hospital probably meant there were a lot of doctors and nurses that frequented it. She didn’t know if that was good or bad.
Still, she made her way towards the bar. There was a cute blonde at the bar, and she settled into the seat beside her. She mentally cursed herself. She couldn’t fall for anyone. She was waiting for her soulmate, and she doubted that it was a woman. Well, okay, so maybe there was a 50/50 chance. After all, a guy wouldn’t normally dye his hair hot pink. Still, her parents had always told her that her soulmate had to be a man, and she’d believed them. But now, she wasn’t sure. There were couples that were soulmates that weren’t straight. Hell, she didn’t think she was straight, not that she could ever tell her parents that. They’d probably disown her.
She was pulled from her thoughts when the bartender set a shot of tequila in front of the woman and then turned to her. She ordered a whiskey - neat, double - and then turned to the woman.
“You sure you can handle that?” She asked, glancing at the tequila, “You may regret it in the morning.”
“I always regret it in the morning,” The woman turned towards her. Bright blue eyes met her emerald, and she felt her breath leave her as her eyes went wide in shock. She knew those eyes. Knew them like the back of her hand. It seemed the blonde was just as breathless as she stared at her, her drink forgotten.
She recovered quickly, “Always, huh?”
“Mhmm,” Remembering her drink, the woman downed her shot and ordered another.
“I’m Addison Montgomery,” she held out her hand, “Newly divorced as of this morning.” She figured she’d get that out there just in case Derek randomly showed up one day.
The blonde took her hand, and shook it, smiling softly, “Meredith Grey, single for the last six years.”
“What’s the story there?” She took a sip of the whiskey as it was placed in front of her.
“I don’t have a story,” Meredith began, “I’m just a girl in a bar.”
She could feel a bought nervousness overtake her, and she realized it wasn’t her own. It felt exhilarating. Meredith took the second shot.
“I’ll start then. I married who I thought was my soulmate, but we found out shortly after our marriage that our Timers hadn't stopped. We stayed married because he didn’t want me to deal with my parents’ disappointment.”
“So what happened?”
She smiled sadly, “He found his soulmate. We were married for 11 unhappy years, living a lie. So we got divorced.”
“It’s okay,” she replied, “I start my new job at the hospital across the street tomorrow morning.”
Meredith looked surprised, “You’re a doctor?”
“Mhmm. Double-board certified in neonatal and OB-GYN.”
The blonde’s cheeks went red, “I start my internship there tomorrow.”
“Ah, so a future doctor in the making?” She teased, “So what is your story, Meredith?”
“I thought that the woman I was dating was my soulmate, but she wasn’t. I found her in bed with someone else, and I just left. So, six years, I’ve been single ever since I started med school.”
She gently stroked her hand, “I’m sorry that happened. At least I know the woman my ex-husband slept with was his soulmate.”
“We’re quite the pair, aren’t we, Addison?” Meredith asked quietly.
She smiled, “I would say so,” She drained the rest of her drink, “Did you want to get out of here?”
Meredith laughed softly, “You’re my boss.”
“Not until tomorrow,” she replied, “Tomorrow I will be professional. But tonight I want to kiss you.” She could feel Meredith’s nervousness again, “I won’t do anything that you’re not comfortable with. I have a feeling that this time my Timer won’t lead me astray.”
“How are you so sure?”
“Let me see yours,” she requested.
Meredith looked a bit skeptical but held out her arm. They placed their Timers beside each other’s, and together they watched as the seconds ticked by. 6Y-10D-5H-3M-10S.
Meredith sucked in a breath, looking up at her, wide-eyed, “Oh.”
She smiled softly. She thought as much, “Tomorrow we’re nothing except an Attending and intern. So how about tonight we just be soulmates?”
Meredith looked away from her Timer and back at her, “And after tomorrow?”
“We can be whatever you want, Meredith.”
“And if I want a relationship?”
“The choice is yours,” she interlaced their fingers, “We’ll have to let the Chief know, but it’ll be fine. I promise.”
Meredith placed some money on the counter and turned back to her, “Let’s see how tonight goes first. Is that okay?”
“Of course it is,” She placed her own money on the counter and they walked towards the exit, “I do have to know one thing.”
“What the hell made you decide to dye your hair hot pink?”
Meredith laughed, and the sound made her stomach flutter, “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”
Was this what it was like? Having an actual soulmate. The air was chilly around them, but she couldn’t feel it over the heat washing through her.
She reached out and gently cupped the blonde’s cheek, making Meredith still beneath her touch.
“I think I’d believe anything you’d say.”
Meredith hummed, and it was only the mummer of her name that had her leaning forward and kissing her softly. Meredith leaned into her as she kissed back, and she felt the blonde’s fingers digging into her hips. She ran her tongue along her bottom lip, and Meredith opened her mouth as she pressed in closer to her. She felt her desire increase tenfold as she guided her carefully against the wall behind them.
Blind lust was starting to take over her senses, and she had to fight the intense desire she had to rip off the blonde’s clothes. She pulled away from their intense make-out session, and Meredith let out a low whine.
“Addison,” her voice was a whimper, and their eyes met again. She felt her desire running rampant, and she wanted - no, needed - tame it.
“Hotel?” she suggested.
With a shake of her head, Meredith answered, “I have a house. Fifteen-minute drive.”
“I’ll drive,” She pulled her towards the parking lot, “We’ll get your car in the morning. Is that okay?”
“Yes,” Meredith answered.
The drive to Meredith’s house wasn’t too bad, and she made it easily with Meredith giving directions. She’d parked the car out front, and they hadn’t even made it into the house, barely on the front porch, before Meredith had jumped her, pressing her back against the door as she kissed her.
Her thoughts felt heavy as they kissed, and she pulled away long enough to ask Meredith to unlock the door. Once inside, Meredith locked the door again, and they removed their coats and shoes.
When they’d first met, she’d never had this connection with Derek. This need for touch, as if she’d been starved her entire life. The need to kiss, as if she couldn’t get enough of her. The feral desire to make love, as though every other base need was muted.
“Room’s upstairs,” Meredith held out her hand, and she took it, allowing the blonde to lead her.
“Still think you’re gonna regret everything in the morning?” she asked as they entered Meredith’s bedroom.
Meredith laughed, “I don’t think so.”
She reached for the blonde, smirking softly, “Good.”