Title: In the Woods
Characters: Mark Sloan, Derek Shepherd, Sam Sloan
Word Count: 7,191
Summary: Mark and Derek take three-year-old Sam Sloan camping and spend some quality time together.
This started out as one thing and turned into a completely different thing. I am not used to writing Derek when he is not an ass so that is new to me. I have no idea if I did a good job. This story really did just turn into a story about Mark and Sam doing some bonding and it is broken into two entries because LJ said that the post was too large.
And I am absolutely in love with my new Mark/Derek icon.
“I’m sorry. What now?” Mark asks, looking from his computer screen to Derek who is sitting in one of the chairs situated in front of his desk in his office, smiling to himself as he sips at a Starbucks cup of coffee. “Did you just say what I think you said?”
Derek continues to smile and nods his head. “Yep.”
“So you’ve lost your mind,” Mark states, his eyes going back to his computer, clicking through some files he needed for his consult with a patient in a half hour.
“Because I think we should go camping?” Derek laughs. “I think Sam would love it.”
Mark shakes his head. “I hate the outdoors,” he reminds him and Derek rolls his eyes. “And the last thing I need is Sam running wild in the woods, rolling around in poison ivy and getting eaten alive by bugs.”
“He’s a three-year-old boy, Mark. He’s supposed to go camping.”
“That’s a rather sexist remark,” Mark smirks. “So Ally and Ellie aren’t invited? Or even your own daughter?”
“I was thinking it could be a boys’ thing. Meredith and Lexie and the girls can do whatever they want this weekend,” Derek says with a dismissive wave of his hand. He then leans forward in the chair, resting his arms on his knees, the cup of coffee being held between both hands. “Come on, Mark. It’ll be great. What do you think?”
“What do I think?” Lexie asks that night as Mark grabs a stack of plates to set the table and she can’t help but start laughing. “Mark, have you even ever gone camping before?”
“A couple of times with Derek,” Mark answers with a shrug and then adds, “I hated every single second of it.”
She laughs. “So why would you even consider it now if you hate it so much? Maybe Derek can take just Sam,” Lexie suggests. “Ally!” She calls out. “It’s your turn to set the table!”
Mark frowns. “I don’t want Derek taking my son. If Sam wants to go camping then I’ll deal with it and take him.”
Ellie enters the kitchen and Lexie takes the clear plastic cup with orange goldfish painted on it that is her favorite cup to use for dinner every night and after Lexie fills it with milk, Ellie carefully carries it over to the table. Ally comes in and without argument, she begins laying out the plates that Mark has taken down for her and then distributes the forks and knives.
“You take Ally to football games. You take Ellie to the flower conservatory. Maybe this can be the thing you do with Sam. Just the two of you,” Lexie says, handing him the pan of lemon chicken breasts she has just pulled from the oven. “How bad can it possibly be?”
“Mommy, look!” Sam suddenly exclaims, leaping into the room and then posing as if he is a superhero with his feet spread apart and his fists on his hips. He then grins widely. “I dressed myself!”
Lexie smiles, trying her best not to start laughing. “That’s great, Sammy. But… what’s wrong with what I dressed you in this morning?”
Mark frowns, looking at what Sam is wearing, which isn’t much of anything. He is wearing his green alligator hooded towel with the hood shaped like an alligator’s head flipped up over his head. He has paired that with the New York Yankees baseball jersey Mark bought him for his third birthday that is so large, it almost hangs down to his ankles and on his feet, he has pulled on black and white Puma sneakers though the laces are untied because he doesn’t know how to tie them yet.
“I like dressing myself,” Sam states matter-of-factly.
Mark puts the pan of chicken on the table and Lexie hands Sam the large salad bowl for him to take to the table, which he does so slowly and carefully, wrapping both of his arms around it and holding it against his chest.
“Here, Ellie,” he says, reaching into the bowl and plucking out one of the chopped mushrooms, dropping it onto Ellie’s plate, knowing how much she loves mushrooms.
“Ew!” Ally wrinkles her nose. “Mommy, Sam just put his hands in the salad! When was the last time you washed your hands?”
Sam stands on his tip-toes and slides the bowl onto the table before licking both of his hands with the flat plane of his tongue and then, laughing, he runs around the table to try and touch Ally. Before he can though, and before Ally can push him, which is what she is about to do, Mark wraps an arm around his middle, easily lifting the boy up, unable to keep from smiling when Sam laughs.
After everyone’s hands are washed and Lexie and Mark have loaded the kids’ plates with chicken, potatoes, green beans, and salad, the Sloans finally settle into dinner. Ally is talking excitedly about her best friend, Brandon, who is turning ten that weekend and Lexie is going to take Ally shopping that Friday after school so she can get him the best birthday present ever for Saturday. Since this is his first birthday since his parents have gotten a divorce, Brandon’s mother is making sure that it is an event that lasts all day Saturday and most of Sunday.
“Mark?” Lexie says and he lifts his head to look at her from the other end of the table as he gets up to get Ellie and Sam refills of their glasses of milk. “What are you doing this weekend?” She asks him with a smile.
Mark stares at her for a moment and then he sighs heavily, grabbing the gallon of two-percent milk from the refrigerator. “That depends on Sam,” he finally answers.
Sam immediately perks up from trying to sneak Dodger, who sat in front of him underneath the table, some of his green beans. “Me?”
Mark nods, sitting back down in his chair and taking Ellie and Sam’s empty cups, he fills them with milk again. “Your Uncle Derek invited us to go camping with him-”
“Yay!” Sam exclaims loudly before Mark can say anything further. “Camping!”
Lexie laughs and smiles at Mark. “Looks like someone is going camping this weekend.”
“Daddy, can Dodger come?” Sam asks. “I want Dodger to come camping too!”
“I’ll ask your Uncle Derek,” Mark says but then frowns. “Why would I ask Derek? Yes. Dodger can come, too.”
“Yay!” Sam exclaims again, pumping his fists into the air triumphantly.
“And since Ally is going to be spending most of her weekend with Brandon, that means that you and me get to spend our weekend together,” Lexie says to Ellie with a smile. “And we can do anything you want.”
Ellie stabs each one of her green beans individually with her fork to eat them but she pauses to gives Lexie a small smile.
“Daddy?” Sam asks, the broad grin still stretched across his face. “Are we going to sleep in tents?”
“Knowing your Uncle Derek, probably,” Mark grumbles, still not at all pleased with the idea of spending his weekend outside in the middle of the woods somewhere.
He prefers the comforts of home – running water, indoor toilets, a heated house in the middle of November, and a warm, preferably naked, Lexie sleeping next to him. But when he looks at how happy just the mere mention of camping makes Sam, Mark knows that he’ll deal with the outdoors for a couple of days.
Lexie stands behind Sam in the L.L. Bean store, bending over him as she zips up the dark navy blue goose down waterproof hooded coat she is having him try on. She then stands up straight and looks at his reflection in the mirror in front of them.
“How does that feel? Do you like it?” She asks, kneeling down next to him, feeling to make sure that it isn’t fitting him too snugly.
Sam nods eagerly. “I like it.”
Lexie turns him around so he is facing her and she slips the coat’s hood up to see how that fits him. She had been excited for the impending camping trip because she sees how eager Sam is for it and Lexie thinks this is such a great way for Mark and Sam to spend some father/son bonding time together. Not that they aren’t close. Mark has incredibly close bonds with all of their children but rarely is it jus the two Sloan boys doing something together and despite his grumblings, Lexie has a feeling that Mark is looking forward to this boys-only weekend.
Still though, Lexie feels that she should smack Derek Shepherd, a supposed brilliant brain surgeon, for suggesting an outdoor camping trip during the last weekend of November. She really doesn’t want her three-year-old son freezing to death outside so that late Friday morning, after Ally and Ellie are both at school, Lexie takes Sam to get some essentials that he is going to need to stay warm and dry that weekend: a goose down heavy coat, a heavy sleeping bag since his G.I. Joe sleeping bag is not nearly thick enough, some long underwear, and waterproof hiking boots. She has called Mark to see if he needs anything and except for a sleeping bag for him, he says he should be fine though he continued to complain for the next three minutes on how horrible this weekend is going to be no matter what she buys for them.
“We’ll get this one,” Lexie nods, unzipping the coat and taking it off of him before helping him put back on his black Northface one. “I think we have everything… you have plenty of gloves and hats at home you can wear-”
“My lamb hat!” Sam exclaims excitedly and Lexie laughs slightly, nodding her head.
“And I talked with your Aunt Meredith and she says Uncle Derek already has everything else you need for this weekend so I think we are all set,” Lexie says. She picks him up and puts him back into the front seat in the cart. “Are you excited about tomorrow?”
Sam nods. “Yep! Just me and daddy.”
“Do you promise that you’ll be good for your daddy and Uncle Derek?” Lexie asks, pushing the shopping cart through the store towards the checkout lanes. “The woods can be dangerous and I need you to promise that you will listen to what they say.”
“I promise,” he nods again but he only seems to be half-listening and his eyes widen as they pass a table of stuffed animals. And because Lexie openly admits that she tends to spoil all of her children, she takes three stuffed animals – one black bear and one brown, and a brown moose. She holds them up and Sam grins. “That one,” he says and she hands him the black bear before dumping the other two in the cart. “Mommy?” Sam asks as they stand in line at the one checkout lane that’s open.
“Is daddy excited?”
Lexie smiles at him and brushes strands of dark hair from his forehead. “Your dad is very excited,” she says and she isn’t even lying because Mark does want to spend the weekend with Sam. He just isn’t excited about doing it outdoors.
But that’s the thing about Mark Sloan that only a few people have even caught a glimpse of. He’s never had a family of his own – not even when the Shepherds somewhat adopted him sometime during his childhood because then, and now, he thinks they only did it because they pitied Derek’s best friend – but now that he is older and he and Lexie have carved this life out for themselves and they have their own family now, Mark will do anything for them.
It is just a few minutes after nine o’clock in the morning and Derek is already there. Mark answers the door, tired and yet managing a sharp glare, but Derek merely grins and tells him that they need to get to the camping ground and set everything up. He is now in the driveway, taking Sam’s carseat from the backseat of the Sloan SUV and putting it into the back of his own. Ally and Ellie, still in their pajamas, have already given Mark hugs goodbye and Mark pretends to be wounded when Ally acts as if she is going to be missing Dodger more.
Sam is dressed warmly in blue jeans and a black fleece hooded sweatshirt with his long underwear underneath. Lexie has already put on his heavy coat and his lamb hat and double-checks to make sure that his gloves are in fact in his pockets where he says they are.
Lexie then wraps her fingers around the front lapels of Mark’s black Northface coat and pulls him down, her lips curled in a smile as she kisses him. “Have fun,” she says and Mark gives her a hard look that makes her laugh and his fingers dig into her hips as he pulls her flush against him. “And please bring my baby boy home in one piece.”
Mark smirks. “I swear that I’ll be fine,” he cracks and she laughs softly, rolling her eyes, before giving him another kiss.
“Oh!” She suddenly exclaims. “I forgot something.” With that, she turns and hurries back into the house just as Ally steps out on the front porch again.
“Here, daddy,” she says, handing him a Kodak disposable camera. “If you see Bigfoot, can you take his picture?”
“Of course,” he nods, taking the camera. “How about mysterious footprints too?”
“Definitely,” she grins and he scoops her up into his arms.
“So, Bonnie, are you and Clyde going to behave yourselves this weekend?” He asks and she laughs like she always does when someone refers to her and Brandon as Bonnie and Clyde though she doesn’t still completely understand the nickname.
“Nope,” she informs him matter-of-factly.
“Well, just don’t get caught or arrested,” he tells her dryly and then returns her back to her feet before slipping the camera into his pocket. “If I run into Bigfoot, do you want him to pose or to just be natural?”
Ally shrugs. “Whatever he feels more comfortable doing.”
“Here,” Lexie says, rushing back onto the porch, slightly breathless. She hands him a tall thermos. “Coffee for you and Derek.” She then hands him a small Ghostbusters thermos. “And hot chocolate for Sam.”
“Let’s go, Mark!” Derek calls from the driveway. “We got a lot to do today!”
“I’m going to kill him,” Mark mumbles and Lexie laughs, following him down from the front porch and to the driveway.
She drops down in front of Sam, leveling her eyes with his. “Be good, okay? Listen to your daddy and Uncle Derek and be sure that you stay warm. I love you.”
“I love you, too,” Sam says and then wraps his arms around Lexie’s neck as she hugs him tightly.
She kisses the side of his head and then smoothes a hand over the back of his head before kissing him again. She takes a deep breath, standing up. She then looks at Derek. “Please take care of my boys this weekend.”
“Don’t worry, Lexie. Sam and Dodger will be safe with me,” he cracks a grin and Mark narrows his eyes at him. “You ready to go, Sam?”
Sam nods and then with help from Mark, he climbs up into the back of Derek’s SUV and plops himself down in his carseat, Mark handing Derek the thermoses so he can buckle the boy in. Dodger doesn’t have to be told and hops into the back as well, Sam giggling as the dog licks his face.
Mark sighs and going to Lexie again, his hands frame her face and he kisses her one more time.
“I will be very upset if anything happens to you,” she informs him and he can’t help but grin.
“That’s always nice to hear,” he admits and then gives her another kiss.
“You both are ridiculous,” Derek rolls his eyes. “You’ll be back tomorrow afternoon.”
“He better be, Derek Shepherd,” Lexie says as Mark kisses her temple and then finally walks around the SUV to get in on the front passenger side.
“Bye, mommy!” Sam says through the closed window, waving to Lexie as Derek pulls out of the driveway, Lexie smiling and waving back.
Mark puts the thermoses in the cup holders and then rolls down one of the back window down a couple of inches so Dodger can stick his snout out. Looking back at Sam to make sure he is alright, Mark then looks at Derek.
“So where the hell are you taking us this weekend?” He asks. “I thought we would just be camping out in your woods.”
“Where’s the fun in that?” Derek smiles. “I haven’t gone camping in a long time. We need to do this the right way.”
“I hate your way,” Mark informs him, sounding very much like one of his children in the middle of one of their pouts.
“We’re going to Lake Wenatchee in Leavenworth,” Derek answers, which is about two hours east of Seattle. “It’s going to be fun this weekend. Hardly anyone will be there this time of the year.”
Mark snorts, taking the thermos of coffee and spinning open the top, he takes a sip. “Yeah, because we’re the only ones idiotic enough to go camping in November.”
“There will be other idiots around. Just not many,” Derek shrugs, relaxing back in his seat, his right elbow resting on the middle console and his left hand loosely holding onto the steering wheel. “What about you, Sam? Are you going to have fun this weekend?” He asks.
“Yep!” Sam exclaims happily. “Are we going to see a bear? Ally says that if we see a bear, we have to take a picture.”
“Yeah,” Mark smirks. “That’ll be the first thing I do when I see a bear. Take its picture.”
Derek gives his own smirk and then sits up slightly, glancing at Sam in the rearview mirror. “I don’t think there will be too many animals out this time of year, Sam. I think a lot of them are probably already sleeping for the winter.”
“Daddy?” Sam says, swinging his legs back and forth as they hang out of his seat. “Did you bring the cd?”
“Cd?” Derek asks curiously and Mark smirks, unzipping his coat and reaching into the inside pocket, pulling out a thin plastic cd case with a burned disc inside.
“When they were staying with Sadie a couple weekends ago, they fell in love with hers and Jeremy’s music collection,” Mark answers as he slips the disc into the car’s cd player. “So Jeremy made this for them. It’s been playing nonstop in our house.”
Instantly, ABC by the Jackson 5 begins blaring and Sam laughs, clapping his hands. He then begins singing along though he doesn’t know any of the words except “ABC” and “123” and sways himself back and forth in his carseat.
“I haven’t asked yet,” Mark says and then pauses to take another sip from the thermos of coffee. “How the hell did you get a whole weekend off from the hospital for this little excursion?”
“I’m the Chief. I can do whatever I want,” Derek shrugs but the look Mark gives him lets him know that he isn’t believed. He sighs. “I have my pager. And the only way I felt somewhat comfortable leaving was by having Bailey in charge. How are you able to leave Lexie for a whole twenty-four hours?” He mocks.
Mark smirks. “Reunion sex is some of the best there is,” he replies and Derek rolls his eyes.
“Has it ever occurred to you that you and Lexie have too much sex?” He asks.
“No such thing,” Mark instantly says with a shake of his head. He then smirks again. “And don’t be jealous of me just because you aren’t getting from your Grey.”
Derek reserved a camping spot right next to the lake surrounded by pine trees and he was right. There doesn’t seem to be anyone else around them. The instant Sam is out of his carseat, he and Dodger scamper towards the water with Mark calling out to him to be careful as he and Derek go around to the back of the SUV to begin unloading. It is almost noon but the sun still has not broken through the thick grey overcast sky and Mark prays that the rain holds off until tomorrow afternoon when they are all home again. One thing to make an outdoor weekend miserable is rain.
“Jesus, Shep,” Mark says when he sees that the back of the SUV is loaded to the brim with equipment and other camping accessories. “What the hell is all of this?”
“Things we need,” Derek says, grabbing the red Coleman tent first.
“You packed a hammock,” Mark informs him, doubt in his tone. “Why,” he lowers his tone so Sam can’t overhear. “The fuck do we need a hammock? We’re only going to be here today, tonight and tomorrow morning. You aren’t moving out here, are you? I’m not loading all of this shit back up tomorrow morning.”
“Are you going to be bitching the entire weekend?” Derek asks.
“Just help me with the tent,” Derek sighs.
The tent is sixteen feet long and seven feet wide, more than enough room for two adults, one toddler and one dog, and seems to have an infinite amount of steps in the directions.
“You’re in charge of the stakes,” Derek informs Mark, tossing him one of the bags but Mark looks blankly at him and he sighs again. “Come on, Mark. We used to set tents up all of the time.”
“No. You used to, remember? I was usually already too drunk by this time to help.”
“Fine. I’ll set up the tent. You and Sam go get some wood for the fire.”
Mark grins. “That I can do,” he says, dropping the bag onto the ground. “Come on, Sammy! We’re going for a little hike!”
Sam immediately runs from the shore of the lake towards him and he grins as Mark swoops him up into his arms. Mark notices that his hands are already dirty and his cheeks flushed. He makes sure that the fleece lamb hat is securely down on his head and then putting him on his feet, Mark crouches down in front of him and pulling his gloves from Sam’s pockets, he puts them on his hands for him.
“You warm enough?” He asks, checking to see that the zipper was pulled up all of the way and then he buttoned the extra buttons. “If you’re cold, you have to let me know. Your mom packed an extra scarf for you and we can always double up on socks and long underwear.”
“I’m warm,” Sam grins.
“Alright,” Mark says, standing up and Sam immediately reaches up and holds onto one of his hands. “Come on, Sammy. We have to go get some wood for the fire.”
“Cool!” He exclaims excitedly and Mark can’t help but smile.
The boy is so happy and that, as corny as it sounds, makes Mark happy. Lexie’s right. He and Ally go to Seahawks games together while he takes Ellie to the conservatory at least once a month. And even though Mark and Sam have a close relationship, the truth is, they don’t really spend a lot of one-on-one time together without one of his sisters around.
“Come on, Dodger!” Sam calls out as they begin walking away from the camp clearing for the woods that surround them, his voice echoing throughout the quiet air.
“Hey, Mark!” Derek yells after them with a grin. “Don’t get lost!”
“You just worry about the tent, boy scout!” Mark yells back. “I’m gonna get you so much firewood, you won’t know what to do with it!”
Even now, at fifty years old, everything between them is still a competition.
“Daddy?” Sam asks, carrying a few sticks in his arms.
“Yeah?” Mark stoops down to add a stick to the much larger pile in his own arms.
“Can I be a chef?”
“You can be anything you want to be.”
“Can I be a T-Rex?”
“Definitely,” he nods with sincere solemnity and Sam grins.
“Can we come camping again?”
“You having fun?”
“Yep!” Somehow, his grin manages to grow wider. “Are we best friends?”
“Of course we are.”
“Mommy says you’re her best friend,” Sam tells him.
“And your mommy is mine.”
That makes the boy frown. “You can have two?”
“You can have as many friends as you want. Just make sure they’re good friends.”
“Okay,” Sam says with a nod as if he understands perfectly. “Daddy? I’m hungry.”
Mark glances at the watch on his wrist. “Yeah. It’s almost one-thirty. Definitely lunchtime. And I think we have enough wood here for a while.”
Still, Sam bends down and picks up another stick. “Daddy?”
“Yeah?” Mark says, putting a hand on the back of Sam’s head, slowly beginning to guide them back in the direction of their camp. He glances over his shoulder to make sure that Dodger sticks with them, the dog walking behind them, his nose permanently attached to the ground.
“Why do you kiss mommy?”
“Because I love mommy.”
“I love mommy.”
“But that’s different.”
“Because…” Mark searches for the words and then he sighs. “It’s different because mommy and me are grown ups and we’re married.”
“Okay,” Sam says again in that tone that he uses when he wants to understand but really doesn’t. “Girls have cooties, daddy.”
Mark smirks at that. “The dangerous ones do.”
“I was thinking we can make S’mores after dinner tonight,” Derek says once they get the fire going and they sit down in their folded chairs, both he and Mark drinking bottles of beer and Sam drinking from an apple juice box, standing next to Mark as he stares at the fire crackling and popping.
“We should actually probably do that before dinner or else, someone is never getting to sleep tonight,” Mark suggests.
Derek smirks and nods. “We can have S’mores for dinner and hot dogs for dessert.”
“Daddy? Can I have the camera?” Sam asks, already holding his hand out for it.
Mark reaches into his coat pocket and hands it to him. “You still warm enough?”
Sam nods and then, with the straw of his juice box in his mouth, he puts the camera to his eye and randomly takes a picture of half of Derek’s head and the tree behind him, the flash momentarily blinding Derek.
“I hate to admit this out loud, but this is actually kind of nice,” Mark says after taking a swig from his beer, watching as Sam points the camera towards the lake, taking another picture.
“I don’t know why you think camping is such a big deal,” Derek responds.
“I lived in New York most of my life. I still am getting used to nature,” he smirks and Derek rolls his eyes. Mark sits up, leaning forward, his arms resting on his knees and the bottle held with both hands. His eyes are sharp as he watches Sam wander closer to the water, snapping pictures of random trees and a couple of the fire and Mark and Derek sitting by it. “So do you want to tell me the real reason why you suggested this camping trip?” Mark asks, his eye still watching Sam.
Derek is quiet for a moment, staring into the fire, sipping at his beer. He then sighs heavily. “I guess I just like to torture myself,” he finally answers and Mark looks at him, frowning, his brows furrowed. Derek shakes his head slightly. “You have a good life, Mark.”
“You do too, you know.”
Derek shrugs. “I guess. I have Amy… and I’m Chief at the hospital…”
“And you have Meredith,” Mark provides for him.
Again, Derek shrugs. “I guess.” He takes a sip of beer. “Meredith and I have a lot problems between us.”
Mark can’t help but smirk. “Well, that’s not new. Sam!” He suddenly barks. “Not too close to the water!”
Sam gives him an innocent smile and takes a few steps back from the lake, snapping a picture of the smooth, flat rocks the water rushes over each time the small current moves up the small sandy shore.
“What’s going on with you and Meredith?” Mark asks, leaning back in his chair again as Sam moves closer to them once again and further away from the water.
“The usual, I guess,” Derek sighs. “I want another kid. She doesn’t.”
“Listen to Meredith.”
“What?” Derek frowns, not having expected Mark to say that.
Mark sighs. “Do you remember after Amy was born and you two were working all of the time and kept dumping her off on Lexie to watch during the day?” Derek nods. “You and Meredith are career people. You always have been. You may have thought you wanted a kid but really, neither of you were ready for it.”
Derek can’t help but snort. “And what? You were so ready for it? What would have happened if Lexie hadn’t miscarried the first time?”
Mark feels himself tense slightly but he isn’t going to be bated. This is what he and Derek always do. One of them gets in a pissy mood and tries to drag the other one in. Mark is not going to ruin Sam’s first camping trip because him and Derek get into a fight – whether it be verbal or physical.
Derek seems to read his mind and he deflates, sighing heavily. “Sorry about that. I just…” he doesn’t finish the sentence and Mark shrugs. “I miss hanging out with you.”
Mark nods without pause. “I know. I miss it, too. But we’re here now and I know what you need.” Mark stands up. “Hey, Sammy. You want a S’more?”
And Sam almost trips over his own feet as he sprints back over.