Thank you so much for all of the encouraging and kind words you gave me for the last set of vignettes in regards to the Ellie storyline. I was terrified to posting it and almost chickened out, cutting it entirely from the story, but I am happy now that I did it. And I am happy that so many continue to read and love these. I cannot begin to express how grateful I am for people to read and enjoy my stories and seeing people leave comments to let me know what they think, it makes my entire day. I hope everyone enjoys this next set as much.
Mark sits on the couch in the living room, leaning forward, typing out an email on his laptop set up on the coffee table in front of him but his eyes keep drifting to Ellie, who is sitting on the floor in front of the television – the kids’ favorite place to play – and is stacking her building blocks, separating them into colors first and building them upwards that way. She is quiet, not even chatting to herself like Ally used to do at that age when she was playing. Mark reminds himself that Ellie isn’t Ally though.
Ellie picks up a green block and stares at it for a long minute before setting it aside and picks up a yellow one instead. She meets Mark’s eyes and she holds it out to him. He takes it and she smiles at him. He smiles faintly in return though he has no idea what she wants him to do. It has been a week since their visit to Dr. Kramer and his diagnosis of Ellie’s autism and it has taken that long for Mark to realize that he is absolutely lost when it comes to his own daughter.
She reaches into the bucket and pulls out another yellow brick, handing it to Mark. He takes it but still doesn’t know what he has to do. She puts her hands on the floor and pushes herself up, going to him. Standing in front of him, she takes the two yellow bricks from him and snaps them together.
“Sun,” she says, holding the bricks in both hands.
He nods. “Yellow like the sun.”
“Yellow,” she repeats and he nods again with a smile. She then turns and picks a blue block up from the floor and holds it up.
“Blue,” he says.
“Blue,” she repeats. “Blue.” Her eyes rove around the room and points to the dog collar around Charlie’s neck as he chews on a rawhide bone on the floor. “Blue.”
Mark smiles. “That’s right, Ellie,” he says and she smiles happily at him. He leans forward and kisses her forehead. An idea pops into his head and he smiles a bit wider. “Do you want to go somewhere?”
Her smile disappears and she crinkles her eyebrows together. “Ally?”
“No. Just you and me,” he clarifies. She stares at him for another moment and then nods her head slowly. “Let’s get your shoes and coat on.”
He gets up from the couch, his email completely forgotten now, and he scoops Ellie up into his arms. After getting her shoes on her feet and buttoning her green raincoat, he puts on his own shoes and his black jacket before grabbing his cell phone, wallet and car keys. Picking Ellie back up, holding her easily with one arm, he walks down the hallway into the kitchen where Lexie is, sitting in a chair at the table, Sam in her arms, sucking on his bottle.
“Hey, Lex?” He says and she lifts her head, seeing him and Ellie and she smiles. “I just thought of something and I’m gonna take Ellie somewhere. We’ll be back in time for dinner.”
Lexie continues to smile and nods her head. “Have fun.”
Ellie sits in her car seat, Mark constantly checking on her in the rearview mirror as he drives. He hopes she likes this. He wants her to like this. She seems to like bright colors and this seems like the perfect place for her. He hates though that he feels like an idiot when it comes to his own daughter. Ally is easy. They have a close bond and after six years, Mark always knows what to do with her.
Being with Ellie is like flying blind though. He doesn’t know her. He doesn’t know what she likes or doesn’t like. He doesn’t know what makes her happy or sad. His daughter is a stranger to him and he hates it because she is his daughter. His flesh and blood.
He blames himself. Ally and him always do things together while Ellie has latched onto Lexie since she is the parent who is always around her. And Mark read in one of the books that autistic children need structure and stability and the truth is, Lexie is there every single day with her while Mark is off at work.
He wants to change that though. Starting right now, he wants to spend more time with her and let her know that she has him too.
The Volunteer Park Conservatory is split into “the Five Houses of the Conservatory”, each set to a fixed temperature and humidity climate and home to thousands of flowers and plants. Mark has never been there before but he is hoping that this works. Ellie has an infectious smile and he desperately wants her to smile again. He wants to be the cause of her smile.
He carries her with one arm and when they enter the first room full of fully-bloomed flowers of every color, Mark can actually hear her gasp loudly and looking at her, he sees that her mouth has fallen open, her lips forming in a near-perfectly shaped “o” and she smacks her hands together.
Mark grins and Ellie turns her head, staring at him with wide eyes. “Do you like it?”
She then gives him the biggest smile he has ever seen on her face and nods her head eagerly before wrapping her small arms around his neck and hugging him tightly. Mark sighs with relief and closing his eyes, hugs her tightly, rubbing a hand on her back.
“Come on, Ellie. Let’s go look at some colors,” he says, carrying her further into the hot and humid conservatory room.
Sadie opens the door to her apartment wearing a pair of men’s basketball shorts that hangs down past her knees and a tight-fitting white tank top. Her blonde hair is pulled up in a sloppy bun at the nape of her neck and she has pillow marks on one side of her face. The instant she sees Owen though standing in the hallway, she smiles brightly and all remnants of sleep leaves her eyes.
Jeremy is in the bedroom, asleep – both he and Sadie having worked 18-hour shifts at the hospital that day – and Sadie closes the door so they don’t wake him before making a quick detour into the kitchen and then finally sitting down on the couch next to Owen, handing him a bottle of beer and then takes a sip from her own.
“You okay?” She finally asks as he sits there silently.
Her question though makes him smirk.
“I think I am the furthest from okay that you can get,” he responds before taking another greedy chug of beer.
“Just so you know, as your best friend, it is my obligation to tell you that you made the right choice. If you weren’t happy with her, you didn’t really have much of a choice except to get out of it,” Sadie informs him.
“I thought as my best friend, it was your duty to always tell me the truth.”
Sadie sighs. “I think you know the truth already. You don’t need me to say it.”
He nods. “Yeah… I don’t need you to say it,” he agrees quietly. He notices the book about autism on her coffee table. “You, too, huh? I borrowed a couple from Mark.”
“I borrowed that one from Lexie,” Sadie says with a faint smile and then looks at Owen again. “Everything is going to be alright, Owen.”
“Yeah. Ellie has a good support system.”
“No… well, yes, she does but I was talking about you,” Sadie says, reaching out, squeezing his shoulder. “And you have a good support system too.”
Lexie finds a support group that meets at a community center every Tuesday night called Parents of Autistic Children, or P.A.C., and she tries to get Mark to come with her. He refuses though, telling her that he doesn’t need someone else to tell him how he should or should not feel when it comes to their daughter, and personally, it’s no one else’s business, so Lexie goes without him.
She attended an AA meeting with her father once – during his very brief period of sobriety – and the room reminds her of that. There are chairs lined up in rows and a podium at the front of the room with a table lined with coffee and slightly stale donuts in the back. There are over thirty parents there and they all immediately know that she is new there the instant she walks through the door. They are all warm and welcoming towards her which relaxes her immensely because despite what she might have told Mark, she is nervous about being there and she wishes that he is there with her.
She sits in the back row, just wanting to listen her first night, and she realizes as she listens just how worse things could be with Ellie. Her eyes fill with tears as one mother talks of her four-year-old son and how he screams anytime she tries to touch him. Ellie is an affectionate child towards her and Mark and Lexie knows now how grateful she should be for that. She is painfully shy around others, ignoring mostly everyone except for Sadie and Owen, giving them at least smiles when they are around, but Lexie will gladly take that behavior over some of what the other parents are talking of with their children.
Someone suddenly sits down in the empty chair next to her and turning her head, she sees Mark now sitting next to her, unzipping his jacket. He looks at her and she smiles at him before leaning towards him and slipping her arms around his shoulders, hugging him tightly. He kisses her head and she gives him another smile.
“Thank you for coming,” she whispers and he nods, gripping her hand tightly in his.
Ally’s first grade class has a “Take Your Child To Work” day so Ally gets to spend the day with Mark, who actually has to go to Seattle Grace to operate on a patient with Derek. She sits in the gallery with Sadie, watching with silent fascination as she presses her nose against the glass and watches her daddy operate below.
“My daddy’s awesome, isn’t he, Aunt Sadie?” Ally asks with a toothy grin.
“Eh,” Sadie shrugs, biting back her own smile. “He’s alright.”
After the surgery is complete, Ally waits with Sadie out in the hallway and the instant Mark scrubs out, Ally runs to him and he swoops her up into his arms, smiling as she immediately begins chattering about the surgery and how much blood there was and how he had cut into that man’s throat and how awesome he is, which makes his chest swell a little because he’s still Mark Sloan and someone, including his six-year-old daughter, telling him that he’s awesome is something that he likes to hear.
“Brandon was bragging because his daddy’s a cop so he gets to ride all day around in a cop car but my daddy cuts into throats so I win!” Ally exclaims and Mark laughs. “But Brandon’s mad at me anyway because yesterday there was a spider and he screamed like a little girl and I was the one who picked it up and took it outside when he told me to kill it.”
Mark lets out a bout of loud laughter at that and Ally giggles, reaching up and taking the dark blue scrub cap from off his head, dropping it onto her own head.
“What do we do now?” She asks.
“First, we go to the cafeteria and eat something because I’m hungry. Are you hungry?” He asks and she nods. “And then we’re going to check in on the patient.”
“You have a cool job,” she informs him.
“Do you want to be a doctor?”
She makes a face and shakes her head. “No. I want to go to the Amazon.”
“What’s in the Amazon?” He frowns.
“Piranhas,” she answers.
As they walk down the hallway towards the bank of elevators to take them downstairs to the cafeteria, Mark notices several nurses and interns eyeing them curiously before turning to whisper to one another. He sighs heavily. He really does not miss working here and is thankful that he only occasionally has to come back.
“You wouldn’t believe it but there are piranhas here in Seattle, too, Ally.”
“Mark,” Lexie gasps, her fingers gripping his hair as he licks her once, twice and then covers her entirely with his mouth, her gasp of protest turning into a moan. And instead of trying to push him away, now she holds him closely to her, not wanting him to stop what he is doing. “Oh, god Mark,” she moans, her fingers tightening, her heels digging into the bed.
His hands grip her hips and his shoulders press against the back of her thighs as he buries his face between her legs, sucking, nibbling and licking, tasting every inch of her that he could, listening to her soft cries of pleasure, feeling his own erection get painfully hard.
He doesn’t want to stop tasting her though. He has gone too long without doing this and he doesn’t want to pull away until he has had his fill of her. Lexie is the best tasting thing he has ever had the pleasure of indulging in and he can’t see himself stopping anytime soon.
“So sweet,” he murmurs before slowly pushing his tongue past her sweet, puffy folds and entering her completely, making her cry out softly, her nails digging almost painfully into his scalp as her back bows off the bed.
“Mark!” She gasps breathlessly, twisting her hips, but he pins her down onto the bed, diving in again, not letting up, torturing her deliciously, relentlessly with his tongue and mouth.
In her opinion, there is no other better way to wake up.
Sam learns how to crawl at six-months old and Lexie quickly learns that she can’t turn away from him for even a second or else he will scurry away before she even realizes it. She “lost” him for nearly ten minutes, she searching the house in a panic until she found him sitting underneath the dining room table with a large smile on his face as if they are playing a game.
“I am far too young for a heart attack, Sammy,” she tells him and he giggles, grabbing a lock of her hair with his chubby fingers, tugging on it.
In the living room, Ellie is standing at the coffee table, coloring on a piece of white construction paper, moving the green crayon back and forth in a thick line, her eyes fixated on what she is doing. She looks almost hypnotized as her hand moves back and forth, back and forth, over and over again, the crayon wearing down to a thick, dull point.
Lexie kisses Sam’s head and puts him down in his playpen though she is waiting for him to figure out how to break out of it and she then crouches down next to Ellie, resting a hand on her back.
The girl doesn’t look up, her hand still moving, her eyes still staring down at it.
“Ellie,” Lexie says again, reaching out, slowly pulling the crayon from her hand and she watches as Ellie continues moving her hand back and forth across the paper as if she doesn’t realize that she is no longer holding the crayon. “Ellie!”
Ellie snaps her head up and turns to look at Lexie, her eyebrows furrowed with confusion and her mouth turned downwards in a frown. She then sees the crayon in Lexie’s hand and she looks at it for a moment before looking at the piece of paper in front of her. She reaches out and takes another piece of construction paper from the stack and taking a blue crayon from the box, she begins working on another line.
Lexie feels her stomach clench and tears sting the corner of her eyes but she quickly controls herself. She closes her eyes and kisses Ellie’s temple. “I love you so much, Ellie,” she whispers.
Mark buys a playground set for the kids and he, Owen and Derek spend a Saturday in the backyard putting it together. Mark feels he doesn’t need the instructions because they’re all surgeons and how hard can it be putting a playground set together but Derek retrieves them, knowing better.
Nearly four hours later, they are only half-way done and when Mark goes into the kitchen to retrieve more beer and some bottles of water for them to drink. Lexie is standing at the counter, with Ally standing on a stool next to her, cleaning lettuce in the sink for Ally’s rabbit, Bartholomew, who is in Ally’s arms, to eat.
Mark kisses Ally’s head and then gives Lexie a hard kiss on the mouth, making her laugh slightly against his lips.
“You know, Mark, you can hire people to put the playground together,” Lexie smiles.
He takes a bottle of water from the refrigerator and twisting the cap off, he takes a greedy chug. “No,” he says, shaking his head. “I’m their dad, Lex, and I have to put it together.”
Lexie laughs. “Well, just please be careful. Me and the kids would be very upset if you died putting that set together.”
“Don’t worry. I’m having Derek do the really laborious stuff, Mr. I built my own house,” he smirks and then gives her another kiss. “He’s such a showoff.”
It takes nearly three more hours and a couple cases of beer but the playground set is finally complete but before Ally and Ellie can try it out, the three men insist on testing it out for themselves. Just to be safe.
“So, what did you think?” Lexie asks as they leave the movie theater.
Mark gives her a look that lets her know exactly what he thinks and she bites down on her lower lip, smiling, slipping her hand in his.
“It wasn’t that bad,” she says. “It was sweet.”
He cringes. “That’s it. You’re not allowed to pick what we do on date nights anymore. Christ, Lex. You realize that I am never getting those two hours of my life back, right?” He shudders and she laughs, squeezing his hand. “You so owe me sex for this.”
Lexie laughs again. “Now why doesn’t that surprise me?”
He grins, putting his arm around her shoulders, and she slipping hers around his waist. “You know me, Lexie. I’m incredibly easy.”
Her soft laughter echoes throughout the clear night as they walk across the parking lot towards their car to return home.