Fandom: Grey's Anatomy
Characters/Pairings: Meredith, Izzie, Cristina, Alex, George | Alex/George, various other ship allusions.
Word Count: 4,419
Author's Note: For the Gex-fest at georgealex. This works mostly as an ensemble piece between the fab-five, but the endgame heavily involves a slash ship. It's genre is very confused (not unlike the three women in this fic)
Summary: Mid-S4 AU. When George accidentally mentions he's been secretly dating someone for the past six months, Meredith, Cristina and Izzie go on a wild goose chase to find out who it is.
Meredith corners Izzie shortly before lunch, outside of the elevator on the third floor.
“Okay, so there’s no good way to ask this but I’m going to ask it anyways.” Izzie stares at her strangely for the half a second that they’re standing in the hallway before Meredith does something overdramatic and pulls her by the arm into the nearest empty room.
It’s a closet. It’s always a closet.
“Are you sleeping with George again?”
Izzie huffs a sigh, an ‘I’m tired of being accused’ type sigh, because she slept with a married man, she was the other woman in the same way Meredith once was, and she knows from experience that people look at you differently after that. Her hand is on the doorknob but she makes no move to turn it. Yet. “No. Why?”
“George is seeing someone.”
“And you automatically thought that person would be me?”
“I was hoping it would be,” Meredith answers, too honestly. And in a way that’s far too easy to misinterpret. It wasn’t that she meant she thought George and Izzie were meant to be – not that she was even sure she believed in that sort of thing – it was that Izzie was her first and only lead.
Izzie looks significantly more irritated with that answer. “Why?”
“Because now that I know for sure I don’t know it’s going to bug me all day and I can’t ask him because I was sort of eavesdropping on him talking to a patient that wasn’t mine.” After a beat, she adds, “And it’s probably none of my business.”
“Sorry to disappoint.” Izzie’s hand turns around the doorknob, and Meredith knows she’s annoyed and that it was a touchy subject even before they broke up, so she’s about to apologize when the doorknob suddenly snaps back into place as Izzie lets go. She stands there in thought for a moment before that expression turns to one of confusion and mild annoyance. “Wait a minute, George is dating someone and we don’t know who it is?”
It’s clicked for her. Nothing goes on in this hospital that they don’t hear about. Except, of course, the things they want to know. It’s what makes this so damn interesting.
“How do we not know?”
Meredith shrugs. “That’s what I’m saying.”
Izzie glances at her briefly, then at the door, then back at Meredith. “It’s not you is it?”
“No.” She can not say that emphatically enough. She can’t even think about that night. Besides, with the way George was talking, the mystery relationship had been going on for awhile, quite possibly long enough that she was still having repetitive break up sex with Derek. Not that she can hide behind that, she realizes right before she almost uses it as her defense, because that isn’t something Izzie knows.
Cristina knows (on purpose). Alex knows (by accident). Izzie doesn’t.
“Definitely not me.”
“We should find out.”
“We seriously should.”
“We’re just looking out for him,” Izzie says, with a shrug, and Meredith understands that this is where they rationalize the ensuing investigating that’s about to occur. They’re not nosy, they’re not bored because there’s a lack of drama going on in their own lives (they totally are); they’re looking out for his best interests. Being good friends even.
Yeah, that’s it.
“Because we care.”
The investigative work has to take a backseat after that however. After all, they do have jobs, very important jobs that involve saving lives and are completely separate from the trivial pursuit that is finding out who George is sleeping with.
She’s off at eight and she runs into Izzie on the way to the locker room at two minutes past.
“Do you know anything?”
“I know that it’s not anyone working in the cafeteria,” Izzie points out, somehow brightly.
Meredith takes that in, trying to figure out if it’s a joke or if Izzie’s actually going to attempt to clear everyone that George has even hoped to come in contact with in this hospital. That would be a very, very long list. “Did we think it was someone who worked in the cafeteria?”
Izzie shrugs. “There’s a redhead who works at the coffee stand -- the one in the cafeteria, not the one in the lobby -- and she’s cute in that I-just-graduated-from-high-school kind of naïve way. Anyways she makes eyes at him sometimes, and I figured it’s not like he hasn’t slept with a redhead before.”
They cross the threshold of the locker room and Meredith keeps her mouth shut until she can take stock of whether or not they have an audience. Cristina’s within plain sight, undoing the laces on her shoes on the slim wooden bench that runs down the center of the row of lockers. There’s a guy whose name she can’t remember slinging his bag over his shoulder, ready to leave momentarily. No problems, she figures, and picks back up where they left off. “He slept with a redhead once.”
“That we know of,” Izzie replies, taking her street clothes out of the locker as Meredith opens her own.
“Okay. Except Callie isn’t a redhead and neither are we.” The door closes, the unnamed guy departing. “I’m pretty sure he’s not hair color discriminatory.”
Out of the corner of her eye, she catches Cristina giving them a half-confused, half-disturbed look. “Whose sex life are we debating?”
“George’s,” Meredith offers up. Izzie shoots her a look. “What, like I wasn’t going to tell her?”
“But just her, right? We’re not sending out memos or anything?”
“Why are we debating George’s sex life?”
“When would we have time to send out memos if we haven’t had time all day to even have this conversation?”
“I’m just asking,” Izzie says, with a grin.
“Seriously, why are we debating George’s sex life?” Meredith and Izzie exchange a look, trying to answer the question of who gets to explain what. Cristina jumps to a conclusion in a hurry. “Oh god, tell me one of you didn’t sleep with him again?”
Their answer is a resounding “no”, accompanied by a repeat of the same glare Izzie sent Meredith’s way this morning.
“What? It’s not like that question is entirely unwarranted.”
“Are you sleeping with him?” Izzie asks, leaning over Meredith and towards Cristina, possibly trying for intimidating, which isn’t exactly a tactic that works on Cristina.
“Who is Yang sleeping with?”
Meredith stiffens at the decidedly male voice that pipes up behind her. She hadn’t even heard the door open, much less close. She silently counts her blessings that it wasn’t George who walked in at that inopportune moment and turns carefully. “None of your business Alex.”
Alex doesn’t back off. Not that he ever does. “I’m not the one talking loud enough that the entire locker room could hear you. Also, my locker’s here so you’ll have to whisper around me.”
“There was no one else in the locker room a minute ago.”
“Buy him a bell,” Cristina throws out, tossing her scrub top and searching for her shirt in her locker. It says a lot about co-ed locker rooms that Alex’s eyes don’t even glance in her general direction except to glare.
“Fine.” Meredith moves her body in his personal space, directly in front of his locker, and asks, “Can you keep your mouth shut?”
This question is more for show, for Izzie and Cristina’s benefit. She knows full well that Alex keeps her secrets. He’s an asshole but not about the important things like confidences. “Depends on what’s in it for me.”
“Figured.” He reaches over her head, easily, to get to his stuff. “Now who is Yang sleeping with?”
“I’m not sleeping with anyone.”
“The question’s really more about who George is sleeping with.”
Alex rolls his eyes. “Why are you discussing O’Malley’s sex life?”
Izzie jumps in for this one. “Apparently Meredith overheard him telling some patient of his about whatever super secret relationship he’s in and not telling us about.”
“Why was he telling a patient?”
It’s Meredith’s turn to shrug. “I don’t know; it’s not like I can go up and ask him.”
“Technically you could,” Cristina points out, mostly because that’s probably exactly what she would do.
Alex shakes his head. “Even I know that won’t get you anywhere.”
“Probably not,” Meredith seconds. “Plus then we seem nosy.”
“Oh, as opposed to just asking everyone else who he’s sleeping with?”
“We’re not asking everyone. We asked you. And told Alex.” Meredith frowns, realizing the misstep she made and quickly correcting it. “Alex, you don’t know who he’s sleeping with do you?”
“Way too busy with my own sex life,” he replies. “Also, I don’t gossip about things like that seeing as I actually have a penis.”
“Wait,” Izzie pauses, hearing only the first part of the sentence apparently. “Who are you sleeping with?”
Alex laughs something wicked. “Wouldn’t you like to know.”
Izzie hits him in the arm with her shirt. Cristina makes an annoyed sound and starts digging through her purse, producing a bottle of aspirin shortly thereafter. Meredith uses the momentary lapse of silence to think over the possibilities.
Then, “Are we sure he’s not sleeping with Olivia again?”
“I think she’s sleeping with that lab tech, Rob or whatever,” Izzie offers up.
Meredith closes her locker door and rests her head against the cold metal for a moment. “There should really be a chart.”
They wind up at Joe’s.
George is at a booth with some intern friends of his and Lexie, occupied enough that he doesn’t appear to see them come in. They sit up at the bar, the three of them secluded except for various interruptions from Alex who’s spent half the time there in the chair to the left of them, next to Meredith, and half the time off somewhere else. Meredith really hasn’t been keeping track of his whereabouts.
“You don’t think it’s Lexie do you?” Izzie asks, after a few glances towards George’s table. Lexie and him are sitting next to each other, squished three to a side with Lexie in the middle and Ryan on the other side of her. She seems to be leaning more George’s way but everyone’s shoulders are touching. And even that doesn’t mean that much she thinks, considering all of the times her and Izzie were in the same bed with him and didn’t sleep with him (even if they both eventually did) and all the times she’s been in Alex’s personal space (she certainly hasn’t slept with him).
“Maybe,” Meredith decides, her hand around her glass, turning it but not yet raising it to her lips again.
“Talk about it while she’s nearby,” Cristina tells her, the only one of them who hasn’t been looking surreptitiously over her shoulder at the two of them. She’s got that calm indifference thing going; it’s a good defense but Meredith’s pretty sure she’s just as curious as her and Izzie are, just hiding it better. “If she is, she’ll turn beet red or start rambling a lot. No poker face.”
“That just sounds mean,” Izzie says, and Meredith sort of feels bad that it’s Izzie defending her sister, not Meredith. She isn’t to a place where she automatically thinks of Lexie in those terms quite yet; it’s all too new.
“I’m all for the straight-forward method; you two are the ones who want to beat around the bush.” She finishes her own drink, letting the glass sit idle and empty in front of her. Alex slides into the seat next to Meredith again, and she nods his way. “They should just ask him right?”
Alex laughs at the glare he receives from Izzie, daring him to go against her. “I’m still sober enough to know not to take sides. Or I would be if I cared enough to bother.”
“He really doesn’t talk to you? Like at all?”
“Yeah. We have a weekly heart-to-heart and once we made each other friendship bracelets.”
“You were the one George asked about the syphilis,” Izzie points out.
Alex deflects easily. “Probably because I have a dick.”
“As you keep pointing out tonight,” the other blonde says, with a sickly sweet smile. “Are you having inadequacy issues?”
Joe – having by now noticed Alex flagging him down for a refill -- hands him his glass with a nod that Alex matches, right before he takes off again, not bothering to acknowledge Izzie’s accusation. Not that anyone expected him to.
“Where the hell is he off to?”
“Who cares,” Cristina replies, watching the bartender refill her own glass with measured disinterest.
“Joe,” Meredith leans forward, knowing full well that of anyone – outside of the nurse’s station, of course – Joe hears the most gossip. Someone had to have said something. And if George is talking to some random patient about his love life then the chances of him talking to Joe about it, or at least in Joe’s very near vicinity, are pretty good. Who knows what he’s seen. “You don’t happen to know if George is seeing someone?”
His expression is a cross between amused and mildly concerned. “This is what you three have been talking about all night?”
“Not all night,” Izzie says, pointless denial.
“So do you?” His face doesn’t change but Meredith’s gut instinct is that his hesitation means he might; so she pushes. “We just want to know – “
Izzie finishes for her, “Because we care.”
He dries a few glasses, lining them up behind the bar for later use, as he says, “Sorry guys, if he is I haven’t heard anything. Not that I’m really supposed to tell you even if I do.”
“But you would if you had.”
“It’s possible,” he replies, with a teasing sort of smile.
They’re still nowhere.
In the morning they talk in whispers in the busy locker room, overrun by a mix of interns and residents. Luckily for them, George isn’t part of that traffic.
“It’s not Lexie,” Cristina says, several notches below a volume that Meredith can be reasonably expected to hear.
“It’s not Lexie,” Izzie repeats, at a lower but closer volume, then turns her attention back to Cristina. “How do you know?”
“Because I saw her fawning over him when I was coming in and he couldn’t have been any more oblivious.” She shoves her street clothes into her locker, a messy ball of fabric that Cristina doesn’t seem all that concerned about. “She might want to sleep with him, but he barely knows she’s there.”
Meredith frowns, another name crossed off the non-existent list. Not that she’d really wanted it to be Lexie sleeping with George. She might not feel like it yet, but Lexie’s still her sister, and the idea of her sleeping with George when Meredith’s already been there, albeit very, very briefly, feels a bit weird.
As if she’s on the exact same train of thought, Cristina asks, “What exactly is it that everyone sees in him anyways? Both of you, Torres, Olivia, apparently Lexie, plus whoever this mystery woman is – what the hell does everyone see in him? His track record is worse than Alex’s.”
“I think Alex would beg to differ,” she responds, which is not the actual point of this conversation but instead a wonderful distraction.
“Way to avoid the issue.”
“This isn’t about us,” Izzie says, tying her hair back. “This is about George and the girlfriend he didn’t tell anyone about. And why wouldn’t he tell us about her anyways?”
“Maybe he thought you two would be jealous.”
“Maybe he was embarrassed.”
Meredith leans back against her now-closed locker, adding her guess, “Maybe it just didn’t come up.”
“It just didn’t come up?” Cristina balks. “Seriously?”
“I know there are things you three should be doing instead of standing there gossiping.”
Three pairs of eyes flick to the door at that last, finding Bailey in the doorway, hands on hips. At some point in their conversation the locker room had emptied out significantly, leaving a few late stragglers and them. Problem was they were already in their scrubs and ready, unlike said stragglers. They had no reason to be there.
“You have jobs to do, you have interns to teach, now go,” Bailey orders, louder than previously, and Meredith sighs but is the first of the three to head out the door. She doesn’t need to look to know that Bailey is regarding her, all of them actually, with slight annoyance – but the kind that’s for their own good. Supposedly.
When they’re far enough down the hall, and Bailey has disappeared in the opposite direction, Izzie says, in a hiss of a whisper, “You don’t think it’s her right?”
Meredith’s reply is anything but whispered. “A million times no.”
At lunch, George is there and not with his intern friends, who are nowhere to be found. This is the sort of change that would normally be looked upon with favor but instead now is just unfortunate.
Meredith doesn’t quite know how to act around him when all she wants to do is ask, and from the looks of it she’s not the only one. Izzie’s fiddling with her food and Cristina’s studying him and Alex isn’t there to do whatever he would do, which is probably nothing because he didn’t seem to care all that much. Or he’d ask.
She’s equal parts happy and sad that he isn’t there.
The initiative for conversation starting falls on her, somehow, in his absence. She can’t think of a single thing to ask and she hasn’t spoken to him in a day and a half.
“So how’s the new apartment?”
George pushes food around on his plate. “It’s fine. Good.”
“That’s good.” She catches Cristina’s eye from across the table. “And living with Lexie’s okay.”
“Yeah. She’s – I think she’s decorating.” He doesn’t seem too terribly interested in the topic of Lexie, which basically confirms what Cristina said earlier; she’s nothing more than a friend turned into a roommate.
Meredith fakes a smile. “That’s good.”
Meredith nudges Cristina on the way out of the cafeteria and says, “he knows.”
“Why are you so interested in this anyways?”
She’s been throwing theories at Alex, the way she tends to do with just about anything – taking advantage of her own personal sounding board – and she thinks he might have finally hit his limit. “I don’t know. We just are.”
“And yet you won’t ask him.” He keeps pace with her, though he acts as if he really would rather not and instead just speed ahead down the hall.
“He knows we know,” she divulges; Alex looks at her funny. “He was acting weird during lunch, talking in mono-syllabic sentences and not actually looking at anyone. He knows. And if he hasn’t said anything it means he doesn’t want to say anything.”
“So you’re just going to keep interrogating people until you find the right one?”
“I don’t like the word interrogation.”
She whirls on him, stopping in the middle of the empty hallway and grabbing his wrist in order to force him to do the same. “Why are so against this anyway? You and George aren’t even friends.”
Alex doesn’t miss a beat. “I wouldn’t care if I didn’t have to hear about it all the time.” She waits for more of an answer; she waits for something and she doesn’t even know what it is. All she gets is “what?”
“Nothing,” she says, on a sigh.
She gets off work before either Cristina or Izzie does, so she doesn’t see them at the bar.
Joe’s got her drink almost as soon as she sits down, the bar just starting to fill up, and she smiles her ‘thank you’ but doesn’t say anything. She’s lost in thought and tired from work, in a way that had just started to catch up with her.
“Long day?” he asks, when she still hasn’t said anything to him and his eyes have been on her for more than a few seconds.
Somewhere in that quick span of time, she decides to get to the point with at least someone today. “You know don’t you? You know and you don’t want to tell.”
He’s moving bottles around, giving her only half his attention. “Know what?”
“About George. You wouldn’t tell us last night. But you know.”
For a while there’s nothing but the sound of bottles clinking against each other, boxes, things moving around and she’s almost given up on him when he rests his hands on the bar and looks straight at her. “I know that you’re looking in the wrong direction.”
“What do you mean wrong direction?”
He sighs. “I’m not telling you anymore.”
“But – “
“Think about it,” he says, before rushing off to get some guy at the opposite end of the bar a drink.
She mutters a “seriously” that she knows he can’t hear and has her drink all the way to her lips before she gets what she thinks he’s trying to say.
The wrong direction. The wrong team.
They’re looking for a woman – except they shouldn’t be.
“You don’t know who he’s sleeping with do you?”
“Way too busy with my own sex life.”
“Who are you sleeping with?”
“Wouldn’t you like to know.”
“Why are so against this anyway? You and George aren’t even friends.”
“I wouldn’t care if I didn’t have to hear about it all the time.”
All she can see is Alex as he walked away from her down the hall earlier, the way his shoulders tensed and his pace was a little off, a little too fast, a little too eager.
He’d played it off well but she’s got him now.
(There are some missing pieces here, of course:
Alex, walking out of the locker room, catching George in the hallway and, without so much as touching him, saying, “Might want to try not bragging to patients about your sex life when your co-workers are in eavesdropping distance.”
George’s eyes are wide. “What are you talking about?”
The people that made up the ‘they’ in that sentence were never questioned.
At Joe’s, with George and Lexie and Ryan crammed into one side of the booth, and Meredith, Cristina, and Izzie up at the bar. Alex splitting his time.
“What are you doing up there?” George asks, low whisper, attempting to corner Alex in the bathroom. It’s empty.
“Getting mocked, currently.” Alex rolls his eyes. “What do you think I’m doing? Steering them in the wrong direction since you’re too much of a coward to say anything.”
“You don’t have a problem with them finding out about,” he lowers his voice so that he’s barely audible, “us.”
“No,” he said, and meant it.
“They know you know.”
“Don’t look at me like it’s my fault. I wasn’t the one bragging about it.”
The girls never had a chance; they were one step ahead of them at all times.)
To her credit, telling Cristina and Izzie isn’t the first thing she does. It will be the second and third, in that precise order, but the first is her fist rapping against Alex’s bedroom door.
She opens it, once she hears the noncommittal grunt that comes from the other side, leaning against the doorway with a casual “hey.”
“I’m just heading out,” he says, and it takes her a few moments longer than it should to realize he’s putting away his laundry.
Meredith wrings her hands and takes a deep breath and lets the words spill out of her mouth while he isn’t looking at her. “I know.”
The wall above his bed is as good a place as any to look at. She thinks about just how long it’s been since this house was painted, thinks it’s surprising that it’s still in such good shape, thinks that she would like to change the color of her bedroom next time, and maybe the bedroom. Domestic stuff like that, like painting and like how she needs to do laundry later.
His eyes still burn a hole in her.
“You know?” Alex asks, a question, testing the waters to see if she knows what he thinks she knows before he has to show his hand. This way he could pretend he thought it was something else if he turned out to be wrong.
He isn’t. “I know.”
There are a lot of things in Alex’s expression, for the two seconds that Meredith lets her gaze shift to him: relief, exhaustion, a tinge of amusement. Never embarrassment. She’d like to say that she’s glad that she can’t locate that particular emotion but that would be too much, that would be crossing some imagined line. “He tell you?”
“Did you tell them?”
“I don’t care.”
It’s unspoken permission; there will be no gag orders on this one. “Okay.”
“At least he’ll stop freaking out about it.”
“He shouldn’t have to.”
Alex laughs but it isn’t nice and it isn’t very amused. “That’s what I said.”
She shrugs and she can find his eyes easier now, stepping inside the room finally. “People just aren’t used to you being right.”
When she folds him into a hug, pure instinct, he doesn’t resist and that’s a nice change of pace. Just as abruptly, she pulls back, stepping away from him and saying, “You said you were leaving?”
“Okay.” She knows where he’s going just by his tone. “Make sure you say – “
“Yeah, I will.”
She leaves before things become awkward, waits until he’s gone to call Cristina, to figure out where Izzie is. Meredith tells them without the gossiping tone they’d all overused for the past few days and in the morning the locker room is filled with chatter about some rare surgery that Cristina saw on the board for the day.
A moratorium on the topic is called, for the moment.
(At lunch days later, the table of five is in comfortable silence before Alex goes and ruins (or, as they would later say, fixes) it.
“Told you I wasn’t kidding about my sex life.”
Izzie is nervously quiet, George’s face is a faint pink, Cristina looks like she’s trying not to laugh.
And Meredith only says, “No one ever doubted your sex life, Patient Zero of the Seattle Grace syphilis outbreak.”
The whole table laughs.
They will be fine.)