UPDATE: More ideas keep popping into my head and I know that I cannot stop writing these so no worries.
Ally stands patiently at Lexie’s vanity as Lexie brushes and pleats her hair into two braided pigtails, looking at the framed photographs Lexie has lined there in front of the mirror. One of Mark and Lexie taken on their wedding day, another of Mark and Lexie with all three children taken on Ally’s seventh birthday and then a black and white photograph of Susan Grey. Ally stares at that picture the longest, leaning in closer as she studies it closely.
“What was grandma like, mommy?” Ally asks, looking at Lexie through the mirror reflection as Lexie takes a moment, pausing in braiding Ally’s hair to look at the photograph as well.
A ghost of a smile passes across Lexie’s lips. “She was very kind. One of the nicest, gentlest women I have ever known. She would have loved you so much,” she says quietly. “She would have baked cookies and told you stories and taken you to the park.” Her words catch in her throat and she looks away, tears stinging her eyes.
“Do you miss her?” Ally asks quietly.
Lexie nods, taking another moment to collect herself, before looking back into the mirror and into Ally’s stormy grey eyes. She manages a watery smile. “Every day.”
Ally turns her head slightly so she can look at her. “Are you going to die?” She whispers, her own eyes beginning to brim with tears.
Lexie gives her another smile before shaking her head and wrapping her in her arms, hugging her tightly. “Not right now. I promise, Ally.”
Mark knows Lexie is not pleased and it doesn’t take eight years of marriage to make that obvious to him. Lexie has never been that skilled at hiding her emotions so Mark is able to pick up on her mood very easily. She stands in the kitchen, filling Ellie’s sip-a-cup with apple juice, the girl standing next to her, waiting quietly and patiently, and Mark stands in the doorway, his arms crossed over his chest, watching her as Lexie deftly avoids meeting his eyes.
“We don’t have to go out tonight if you really don’t want to leave the kids with her,” Mark informs her.
“Of course we’re going out. It’s date night and we have tickets,” Lexie sighs. “Is she really our only option tonight?”
“Everyone else is busy tonight. I even tried O’Malley so you know I tried everyone, Lex,” he tells her, coming to stand behind her, slipping his arms around her waist.
She sighs again and he kisses the base of her throat. “Does she have any experience with children? Because not only do we have Sam but we have Ellie-”
“If Ellie isn’t comfortable with her then we definitely won’t go,” Mark jumps in and both Mark and Lexie turn their heads to look down at Ellie, who smiles shyly up at them.
Lexie screws the cap onto her cup and hands it to her, bending down to kiss her head and smooth back her hair still slightly damp from the bath Lexie had given her earlier that evening. And then taking her hand in hers, Lexie goes into the living room where Ally is sitting on the couch, watching an episode of Life After People on the History Channel as Sam plays on the floor with his plastic Tonka cars and trucks, driving them up and down Charlie’s back, the dog lying on the floor, not seeming to be bothered at all with being included in playtime, while Megan stands at the fireplace, looking at their collection of family photographs crowded on the mantel.
“Alright, kids. Your mom and me got to get going,” Mark says and it seems in less than a second, Ally has run over to him, hugging him and Sam toddles after her, colliding with one of Mark’s legs and hugging it.
“Megan, are you sure you can handle all of this?” Lexie asks, trying to keep the doubt out of her tone as she kneels down on the floor to hug Ellie. “I made a list and left it in the kitchen and I wrote down mine and Mark’s cell phone numbers and I also have the numbers for Sadie Harris and Owen Hunt. If you have any problems with any of the kids, and cannot get a hold of us, they will be able to help with anything.”
“Don’t worry, Mrs. Sloan,” Megan smiles. “We are going to be just fine. Where are you two off tonight?”
“Doesn’t my mommy look pretty?” Ally beams at her and Megan nods.
“She really does,” Megan agrees.
“I’m taking Lexie to the Seattle Opera tonight,” Mark says, bending down and swooping Sam up into his arms. “She’s always wanted to go to the opera.”
“Madame Butterfly, right, mommy?” Ally says.
Lexie smiles at her, hugging her tightly. “That’s right, baby. Ellie, would you like to meet Megan?” She asks, looking at Ellie who is hiding behind her legs.
Putting Sam back onto his feet, Mark goes to Megan, lowering his voice. “She isn’t comfortable with strangers so don’t be offended if she doesn’t like you.”
Megan gives him a smile and nods. “You already told me all of this, Dr. Sloan.”
“We just… Lex and me haven’t left her with a complete stranger since we found out about her autism and we just get nervous-”
“I understand, Dr. Sloan. Hopefully, she likes me though so you can take your wife to the opera tonight,” Megan says, continuing to smile at him and she rests a hand on his arm.
Mark gives her a look and steps away, going to Lexie, who is watching him, having seen the brief touch Megan gave him, but he only glances briefly at her before gently picking Ellie up in his arms, her hands clutching her cup and when he brings her closer to Megan, Ellie turns her head and buries it in his neck.
“It’s okay, Ellie bean. This is Megan. You remember Megan, don’t you?” Mark asks, his voice soft and soothing, his hand rubbing her back. “Megan works in daddy’s office, remember?”
“Hi, Ellie,” Megan smiles kindly.
Ellie slowly turns her head, still keeping it pressed to Mark’s neck, and looks at Megan cautiously. Mark looks at Lexie, who comes up next to him.
“At least she isn’t screaming,” he observes and Lexie nods, giving Ellie a warm smile and a kiss on the cheek, though she hates to admit that she wished Ellie wasn’t reacting so well to Megan of all people.
The opera may be in Italian and she doesn’t understand a word of it but just seeing it being performed and hearing it sung, Lexie feels herself starting to cry. She isn’t even sure why but it is just so beautiful. And she is so intently watching the performance that she doesn’t even realize Mark reaches over and is holding her hand until the last curtain falls and the lights begin to turn up, everyone beginning to rise from their seats.
Turning her head, she sees that Mark is looking at her and she blushes with embarrassment, wiping at her wet cheeks. She then leans forward and kisses him.
“Thank you for bringing me,” she says. “Was this absolute torture for you?”
He smirks with a shake of his head. “Not when I knew you were loving it so much.”
She smiles at that and cupping his cheeks in her hands again, she pulls him in for another kiss.
They return home to everything in one piece and all of the children tucked away in bed. Megan had made them macaroni and cheese for dinner and had watched movies with them before taking them upstairs at eight o'clock to change into their pajamas and get to sleep. There hadn’t been any major catastrophes or conflicts and Lexie has to admit that Megan had done a good job with the kids for the night. She just hopes that she never has to use her as a babysitter again.
Ellie’s favorite movie becomes The Secret Garden after one of the movie stations on television shows it. She watches it with the utmost fascination, never looking away from the screen, sometimes, not even seeming to blink. Lexie finds it on DVD for her and Ellie sometimes wants to watch it twice a day, touching the television as she sees the flowers and plants bloom on screen.
Her favorite thing to color is plant life and every picture she creates, Lexie tapes it onto the wall of her bedroom for her until the wall next to Ellie’s bed is almost covered completely in art of different colored and sized trees and flowers. It is a burst of green and bright colors when walking into the little girl’s room and Lexie is ecstatic that Ellie has found something that truly interests her because in most of the books she read, most autistic children seem to rarely show an interest in anything.
The gardenia that Mark has bought her is still alive and in a small pot set on the sill of her window. Ellie waters it from a small water bucket they have bought her every day and sometimes, Mark or Lexie will just stand in the doorway to her bedroom, watching her as Ellie watches her flower, as if she can actually see it grow, and both wonder what she is thinking.
“Okay. Now I want you three to be absolutely honest with me,” Sadie says, placing the plate down in the center of the table with what looks to be a charred piece of meat on it surrounded by darkened carrots that she has burned as well. “I want to get this right before I cook it for Jeremy.”
Owen, Mark and Lexie all stare at it, none making the first move to cut a piece. Lexie manages a smile, looking up at a clearly nervous Sadie.
“It looks delicious, Sadie,” Lexie says reassuringly but still doesn’t make a move to try any of it. Looking at the meat, she isn’t even sure if she can cut her knife through it without breaking the blade.
“Uh, Sadie, what is this exactly?” Owen asks, leaning in, taking a closer look at it.
“It’s a roast,” she frowns.
Mark can’t help but smirk. “You’ve definitely roasted it,” he comments and Lexie swiftly kicks him in the shin underneath the table.
Ally finds some of Lexie’s old cds in the bookcase in the living room and suddenly, Michael Jackson is blaring through the house. Mark would tell her to turn it down since he is sitting at the dining room, trying to get some much-needed work done, but instead, he watches with a small smile on his lips as Ally begins dancing to The Way You Make Me Feel around the living room soon joined by Sam who bounces up and down and laughs as Ally picks him up, swinging him around in circles.
Ellie watches from next to the couch but Ally only allows it for so long before she grabs her hand and tugs her into the dancing. Ally does her best to imitate the moonwalk with Ellie trying to imitate her, a small breathless laugh leaving her lips.
Lexie goes to see her father on a Sunday. She wants to clean the house and make him some dinners that she can store in the freezer for him but when she arrives, he is drunk and mean and says things to her that leave her shaking and crying. She is too upset to drive but she does anyway.
Through the rain that is falling and her tears, she realizes that the car in front of her has stopped suddenly but she can’t hit the breaks fast enough and she crashes into their rear end, banging her head against the steering wheel, causing her to blackout.
Owen can’t move for a second when Lexie is brought into the E.R., shocked and surprised and hoping that he really isn’t seeing one of his best friends on a gurney in front of him, but then he orders an intern to call Mark and then begins to quickly, yet thoroughly, look her over, making sure she has no broken bones or internal damage, double-checking and then checking again that the extent of her injuries doesn’t surpass the bruise and cut on her forehead.
Mark runs into the E.R. ten minutes after getting the phone call even though they live almost twenty away from the hospital and the instant he sees Lexie, all color drains from his face and his knees almost buckle and even after Owen reassures him that Lexie is going to be just fine, Mark makes him tell him that over and over again.
He doesn’t leave her side or let go of her hand for the two hours it takes for her to finally stir. And when she slowly blinks her eyes open, squinting slightly at the harsh lights above her, Mark takes what feels like to be his first breath since he got there. She smiles up at him, lifting the hand he isn’t grasping to his cheek and he turns his lips, kissing the inside palm of it, before bending down, kissing her hard, nearly bordering on desperate, on the lips.
She slides her hand down from his cheek to rest on his chest and she can feel just how fast his heart is beating.
Mark never tells Lexie what he does but he goes to Thatcher’s house and the instant the man opens the door, Mark punches him squarely in the face, breaking his nose and knocking the drunk, pathetic man onto the floor. Mark doesn’t have a shred of sympathy for him though and without a word, he turns and goes back to his car.
The next time Ally asks about her grandparents, Mark won’t lie to her. She truly doesn’t have any.
“You would do anything for Lexie,” Derek muses quietly as they walk through the woods near Derek’s house, Mark keeping a close eye on Ally who is scampering ahead of them. “I used to feel that way about Meredith.”
Mark shoves his hands deeper in his jacket pockets. “Don’t give up on either of you just yet, Derek. You have a baby coming.”
Derek smirks, shaking his head. “She actually said that maybe after the baby is born, we can give it to you and Lexie to raise.”
Mark looks at him but he doesn’t know what to say because honestly, what can a person possibly say to that?
It is late – so late, it technically is morning – and Lexie is sitting on their bed wearing nothing but one of his tee-shirts. Her hair is completely mused from his fingers running through it and gripping it and her neck has red, angry scratches on it that his beard on her skin has left behind. She is chewing on a pen thoughtfully as she scans the questions of the application in her hand.
The best private school for autism children in Seattle is Explorer Academy, which also just happens to have a three-year waiting list. Ellie is turning three in November and classes at the school start when the child is four or five. Lexie doesn’t want their daughter to fall behind with learning and socializing but any other school isn’t an option either. Lexie wants the best.
The principal of the school just happens to be a recent breast-implant patient of Mark’s and in appreciation of his perfect work, she gets them an application and sets up an interview for the Sloan family, smiling and telling them with a wink that she might be able to pull a few strings.
Mark comes out of the bathroom from taking his shower, a cloud of steam following him, the towel barely hanging on around his hips and Lexie gives him a brief smile before leaning back against the headboard, maneuvering her feet underneath a sleeping Charlie in an effort to keep them warm. The tee-shirt rides up her thighs and Mark can see clear as day that she isn’t wearing any panties underneath.
The towel falls easily in a heap on the floor and he crawls onto the bed, his hand skimming up her shin to her knee.
“You just took a shower and you’re looking to get sweaty again,” she tells him with an amused tone, her eyes still on the application.
He smirks, doesn’t answer, and he listens as her breathing hitches slightly in her throat as he lays down next to her on his side, one hand gliding up the inside of her thigh as his lips kiss the outside of it.
“Mark, the application-”
“Is filled out,” he finishes, his finger now beginning to trace the lips of her sex, feeling as it already grows wet with her arousal for him. “You’re on your fourth time checking it, Lex. It’s fine. It’s great. Ellie is getting into that school.”
Lexie opens her mouth to argue with him, to tell him that she just needs to check it one more time before they mail it tomorrow, but then two of Mark’s fingers are inside of her and suddenly, all coherent thoughts flee her mind in a soft gasp and breathless whisper of his name.
Megan smiles, standing up from behind her desk and holding a Starbucks cup with his bone-dry cappuccino – just the way he likes it – out for him to take the instant he enters the office in the morning. He grunts his thanks, taking it from her, and then goes into his office to change into his dark blue scrubs and get himself ready for the long, exhausting day that is ahead of him.
He has just unbuttoned his shirt, about to take it off, when Megan enters and for a moment, she freezes, her eyes fixated on the bare chiseled chest and stomach presented to her. She nearly licks her lips at the sight of him. Dr. Sloan truly is the most handsome man she has ever seen and she feels bad for him because he has a wife and three children and she wonders when the last time was that he had some actual fun because a man who looks like him should definitely be having fun.
“Are you happy, Dr. Sloan?” She asks and Mark blinks at her, not expecting that sort of question this early in the morning, or really, ever considering that she is his receptionist and as long as she is getting a steady paycheck without problems, why does she care if he’s happy or not?
The truth is, of course he’s happy. He has absolutely no reason not to be. Everything he has ever wanted – even though he hadn’t known that all of this was what he actually wanted – he’s got now. He knows women. He knows what Megan is up to. And if she thinks that he’s going to give up everything for her, she’s got another thing coming.
If she thinks that she can hold a candle to Lexie, it almost makes him want to laugh at how wrong she is. Lexie is… Lexie. There is no woman in the world that can possibly compete with her. Ten years earlier, if Megan was his receptionist, he would have already fucked her six ways from Sunday by now. But that is the old Mark. The Mark before Lexie. The Mark he could barely stand to look at in the mirror.
“A man like you should be happy,” Megan continues. “I can make you happy.”
He smirks at that, grabbing his dark blue scrub shirt from the hook on the wall and pulls it on. “Can you now?” He asks.
“You’re everything a girl needs, Dr. Sloan. You have three beautiful children and you’re a wonderful father. I’ve heard you in here, with your wife, so I know just how good you are at fucking a woman.” As she speaks, she continues walking towards him, steadily closing the distance between them. “You’re a brilliant surgeon and you have so much money, I bet sometimes even you don’t know how much you have. You’re perfect, Dr. Sloan. And you deserve to have the perfect girl.”
Again, he smirks, crossing his arms over his chest. “And you think you’re the perfect girl?” He asks.
“For you, I am,” she nods.
He shakes his head. “You obviously have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Don’t I?” She tilts her head up, looking at him, one of her hands sliding up his arm, ignoring how he tenses at her touch. “Maybe then, Dr. Sloan, you can teach me how to be the perfect woman for you.”
An atomic bomb sets off in the office but only Mark can hear it. He stares at Megan in front of him but she is the wrong woman. She is wearing too-short of a skirt and a button down shirt instead of jeans and a purple sweater. Her hair is too light styled with hairspray. It isn’t a dark brown and it doesn’t look like the soft locks Mark’s fingers always itch to comb through. Her eyes are too blue. Not large or brown and doe-like. Her skin is tan, not pale, and her breasts are too large for Mark’s taste.
Megan is everything Mark never wants in a woman and she is something he hasn’t wanted for nine years now – every since Lexie Grey came into his hotel room and asked him to teach her. That night, Lexie ruined him for any woman that could possibly – but never would – come after her.
Mark shakes his head, taking her hand and pushing it from his arm slowly. “Megan?”
“Yes, Dr. Sloan?” She asks, sounding breathless.
“You can clean out your desk. I’m gonna have to let you go,” he tells her coldly.
Megan stares at him and then her eyes widen. “What?”
He holds up his left hand, showing her his wedding ring. “Do you see this?”
“Do you?” She snaps back. “I’ve seen the way you look at me, Dr. Sloan.”
He can’t help it. He starts laughing. “The way I look at you?” He repeats. “How do I look at you?”
“Like you want me,” Megan answers with a shrug of her shoulders. “You want me, Dr. Sloan, and you need to admit that.”
“I want my wife and no offense, Megan, but you are nothing like her. She’s ten times the woman you will ever be,” he says. “You could only dream of turning me on and making me as hard as she can. You have a body but you have no idea how to use it. You think it’s about tight shirts and short skirts but you have no idea how to be sexy. I don’t need you to be the perfect girl because I already got her.”
Megan opens her mouth to speak but no words come out.
“Now pack your shit up and get the fuck out.”
Lexie has fallen asleep on the couch and after tucking the kids in, Mark goes back downstairs and crawls onto the couch to join her, putting his body between hers and the couch, hugging her back to his chest and wrapping his arms tightly around her. She shifts slightly in his arms, molding her body more comfortably to his and she rests her cheek on his bicep, sighing contently. Mark presses his nose to the back of her head, inhaling the comforting citrus scent of her shampoo, and he closes his eyes, the hum of the television and her steady breathing guiding him into sleep.