Fandom: Grey's Anatomy
Characters/Pairings: Alex | Alex/Izzie, Alex/Lexie.
Word Count: 2,152
Author's Note: This is not for the light of heart. I started it last night and finished it this afternoon and I guess this says a lot about my state of mind. Posted before the new ep, so please disregard everything that happens there.
Summary: They say you never really know a person -- until you divorce them.
There are papers mixed in with the medical bills, a pile he keeps just out of sight in hopes that the rest of that saying will follow.
(out of mind, he can hear her finish, rough exhale and a smile he hasn’t seen in months; there’s bile in the back of his throat)
It never does.
Izzie comes back.
She comes back and leans against his doorway in a sweater that's too big and too bulky and too bland, and talks to him about the traffic on I-5 with a laugh and a dramatic roll of her eyes interspersed somewhere in her description.
He’s throwing laundry into drawers, tossing aside a sock that isn’t his (Meredith’s, and he’s back here now you know, back where the strays go when someone once again decides that they’re too much trouble to keep around, to put up with). Silently, he’s wondering why he didn’t lock the damn door.
“…and you’re not listening are you? Alex? Hello?”
The first bitter thing to come to mind is also the first thing to slip out. “So you can say hello, you just can’t say goodbye? Nice to know.”
When he passes by her in the doorway, she flinches, and he thinks it’s nice to know that he can cut just as deep as she did and has and probably will again. Her footsteps do not follow his down the stairs.
This is month six.
“This is,” there was a sniffle, pitiful, and he’d told her she should stop drinking and go home an hour ago, “this is like regression or something, right?”
Meredith eyed them from across the room like she could still talk one or both of them out of this, while Lexie was already talking in eventualities and he was stone cold sober.
“Dammit,” she said, to nothing but her hands and her glass, and he shifted the glass from her hands, settling it down on the table. Her fingers curled around one of his hands, her eyes downcast, and when he stood he pulled her along with him.
Lexie didn’t ask him where they’re going and he could hear Meredith sigh from the living room even as his feet hit the stairs.
“It’s regression,” she mumbled, against his skin, minutes later, up in his bedroom with both their shirts off and his fingers working the catch of her bra. There were tear tracks along her cheeks an hour ago, when he told her to go; they might be back, or her cheeks might just be still damp.
He didn’t ask.
Instead, his fingers skimmed the waistband of her jeans and his mouth was warm on her breast and she gave a little sigh as she added “yeah, that’s it”, finishing up her solitary conversation more than she was egging him on.
She didn’t say a single word after that, not even when she came against his fingers. There was nothing but a throaty gasp that was soon eaten up by a vortex of silence.
Here are the things Izzie doesn’t know:
Round two of him and Lexie did not end as a one night stand. It didn’t end. It just ebbed and flowed.
He counted the days since she left the first time.
Meredith forced him to move back in, shortly after Christmas, by removing his stuff from the trailer and relocating it in his old bedroom. Neither of them ever said a word. Derek choked on his coffee in the morning.
Derek did the same damn thing when Lexie moved back in.
He stopped counting and wrote her off two months ago – something like self-preservation.
That was the same day he slept with Lexie in the first place.
“You know what?”
Their ability to be civil with each other got lost somewhere.
A dish clatters in the kitchen; someone’s listening in.
She’s angled her body towards him, leaning against the wall.
(she does that, a lot, leans and holds, and if they weren’t so concerned with treating each other like yesterday’s garbage he would be concerned and she would be far more vulnerable)
“Yeah.” It doesn’t faze him, if that’s what she was going for, the element of surprise. “And who knows what you were doing in Chehalis.”
“Shut up,” she orders.
“Fuck you,” he says and tosses the remote at the couch because he can’t throw it at the damn wall in the house that isn’t his.
“Good to know a tiger really doesn’t change its stripes.”
“Are you done being a cliché now? Enough with this scorned woman act, like you’re some fucking saint.”
“I didn’t cheat.”
”No, you just left.”
He leaves her in the living room and packs a bag upstairs.
Two days later, he has the locks changed on the trailer and moves back in.
She’s gone the day after.
Briefly, somewhere in between her standing in his bedroom talking to him like nothing ever changed and hurling insults at each other in the living room, they tried.
There was lunch, a café near the hospital, on a day where the rain wasn’t coming down in sheets.
She mocked the patient that had gotten passed onto him by Cristina, who had far more important things to do, and he thought that this was something like the courtship period – awkward dates and all the small talk that comes along with them – that they never really did. They just got together and broke up until she almost died, and then they decided they’d get married for a change.
Alex stabs at his food but manages to keep the frustration out of his expression for the most part.
“You know, I missed you,” she sort of blurts, long after he’s lost the thread of conversation. So maybe there was some preamble.
It effectively stops him in his metaphorical tracks. “I missed you too.”
The words don’t feel strong enough to convey what he felt after she left. They don’t tell her about all the nights spent in the hospital because he had nothing left, because he had built his entire world around her. They don’t tell her how he’s written off all future relationships, committed himself to nothing but relationships built on things like convenience and familiarity, because he can’t go through getting attached like this if it’s all just going to go away.
They’re still one of the few things that he says to her and means.
For her part, Lexie doesn’t care.
Not that he asked. Not that he ever does. But she volunteers.
“I understand how it is.” This was during an ebb portion. “You just…you shouldn’t feel bad about this. Like you have to say anything or apologize to me. I mean she’s your wife and I…well I sort of know how it is.”
He thinks she might be talking about Mark right there, the tentative little dance they keep doing around each other since they broke up the first time. It’s slow and even and nothing at all like the rocky mess that is him and Izzie.
But he lies anyways. “Yeah, thanks.”
The divorce papers mix in with her unpaid bills on the table in the trailer, and still he has no forwarding address.
Someone says therapy, someone says marriage counseling, and he laughs because this would take years to sort through.
He’s not even sure he was ever cut out for this marriage thing in the first place.
He’s not sure he was ever cut out to be anyone’s anything.
Alex doesn’t know what to call the sex they had two nights after she came back. He just knows it certainly wasn’t make-up sex.
Her hip collides with the dresser at an odd angle and she bites down on his lower lip harder than absolutely necessary. His fingers tangle in her hair, grown out almost to her shoulders and curling at the ends now; she’s overeager with his shirt, yanks it off at a break when they’ve separated for air and reassessment of the situation, and when she tosses it to the side it catches on something on the nightstand, judging by the sound of the fall.
On the bed he drives into her hard, and she scratches up his skin and whispers something angry and unintelligible in his ear, breathy gasps in rhythm with his thrusts and the slight buck of her hips.
It’s anything but gentle, it’s anything but nice, and perhaps they should’ve just given up altogether right then.
“You should get a lawyer.”
“How nice of you to call.”
“You should get a lawyer,” she repeats, straight over him.
“I don’t have your damn address.”
The only response he gets is a dial tone.
He stashes that folder full of medical bills in the passenger’s seat and drives three hours to Chehalis one Saturday morning, at the ass crack of dawn. The idea here is to shove them off on Robbie, the one person most likely to know where Izzie is.
She started this, she’s the one who filed, and that makes this no longer his problem.
By eleven, after one large cup of coffee and aspirin from the local drugstore, he knocks on the door to the trailer and masks his emotions with indifference.
Izzie answers the door, so this is something like two birds with one stone.
“You forgot these,” he thrusts the folder forward; it’s telling that she doesn’t even need to look to know that the narrowing of her eyes could be considered called for in some circles.
“This is where my mother lives.”
“Yeah, I figured she’d know where you were.” He sets his jaw. “Guess I was right.”
In the end, he hires a lawyer that he can’t afford any more than he could afford the medical bills but he can’t handle it and he just wants this to be over.
“Do you want to talk about this?”
Alex is walking them toward the bed, his hands on her waist and along the slight curve of her hips, and Lexie still hasn’t figured out that he doesn’t want to talk about this, them, or the elephant in the room.
He’s done Izzie the courtesy of packing up the rest of her stuff from this house, him and Meredith and a bottle of tequila, and it sits in suitcases and bags against the far wall. Lexie stares at it like she knows and his fingers under her chin tilt her head up so that he can kiss her, hard and passionate, a distracting effort.
Still, where he a simple ‘no’ could’ve sufficed, he finally gives into her prying on his own terms. Against her navel, his hands traveling lower and pulling at her jeans, he says, “It’s never really gotten me anywhere.”
Maybe he thinks he hears “neither has this” on an exhale as he breathes against her inner thigh but he’s pretty good at imagining things these days, just as good as he is at ignoring them.
The divorce is quick, even if it isn’t painless.
For all the arguments and bitter words outside of it, there just isn’t that much to discuss. They hadn’t been married long, there were no kids, there was no house or major property to divide.
On the day it’s finalized, he listens to her breath on the other end of the phone for a straight minute after he picked it up.
“I really did think we were doing the right thing.”
She isn’t talking about the divorce. He ignores the way his chest tightens, forgets to think about the way he can hear the tears in her voice.
“And I really did miss you.”
His head is in his hands when he says, “I would’ve done anything to…”
It feels too much like goodbye; in a way it is.
He hears she’s better from Meredith, months later. No more treatment and she smiles bright at the same time as she lays a hand on his arm. She never once said sorry; he’s never been more thankful for her or that.
He hears she’s worse from Cristina, years later. The connection is shitty and her voice keeps going in and out like she’s in a tunnel.
In the background, through all that static, he can hear Meredith. They’ve both been gone for a day and a half without a word.
(it came back, and he knows if her voice is this tight then it must be bad)
“Why are you the one telling me this?”
“Because sometimes it’s easier to kill the messenger,” Cristina tells him matter-of-factly, and someone’s phone drops the call before he can.
After that he doesn’t hear anything else about her.
After that, he decides that he had the right idea all those years: it’s better not to ask.