Thank you to those who are showing an interest in this sequel to Things We Want for Ourselves. I know it is slow going but I am enjoying myself writing it. My best friend got married in January and I was the maid of honor and the wedding day felt like one of the longest days of my life. That is where I got the inspiration for this particular story. Also, a huge thank you to one of my friends, Meg, who sent me that icon of Ally a.k.a. Little Sloan. I have been staring at it since you sent it!
Leaving Ally with Sadie, and making sure that there were no more champagne bottles to aid with Sadie’s intoxication, Lexie left, hurrying down the silent carpeted hallway back towards the church, hoping that Mark had arrived already. She needed him. Actually, she needed both Mark and Owen and Lexie really hoped that Mark had convinced Owen somehow to come today.
She wondered if she was the worst maid of honor in the history of their existence. The bride was getting drunk, not even able to say out loud that she loved the groom, Mark and Owen were missing, and on top of all of that, Lexie was feeling nauseous both from the morning sickness and at the thought of having to tell Mark that she was pregnant again.
Why had there ever been a time when she had thought she loved weddings?
None of the guests had arrived yet and except for a few remaining workers from the florist’s, putting some last minute touches on the floral arrangements, the church was now empty. Lexie flipped open the cell phone she was clutching in her hand and pressed in speed dial number one, Mark’s number, heading now towards the side doors she and Ally had come through that led out to the parking lot.
“Hey, babe,” Mark answered casually as if Sadie wasn’t falling apart at the seams and his and Owen’s presence weren’t required at the church.
“Where are you right now? At this very second?” She asked without any sort of greeting. “I need you and Owen here at the church.”
“I am…” he paused for a second. “Here. I just parked.”
Lexie slapped her phone shut and hurried her steps, pushing through the doors and rushing out into the parking lot. She saw his Porsche immediately but she came to a sudden halt from approaching it further when the passenger door was shoved open and Owen stumbled out, his suit wrinkled and disheveled, his hair uncombed and his shoes untied. Lexie knew the instant she saw him that he was drunk or close to it.
“Mark Sloan, please tell me that he is not drunk,” Lexie said, watching as Owen leaned against the hood of the car for support.
Mark glanced at him and then smirked at her. “Okay. He’s not drunk.”
“Mark!” She exclaimed.
“What? He was like that when I got there,” he shrugged. “What was I supposed to do? I haven’t let him drink anything else if that helps.”
Lexie sighed. “Sadie’s getting drunk, too.”
Mark couldn’t help but laugh at that, grabbing Owen’s arm, pulling him from off of the car. “Have I mentioned today how happy I am that we skipped all of this when we got married? Where’s Ally?”
“With Sadie,” Lexie said, going up to Owen, assessing his appearance, wondering where she could even start to make him look somewhat presentable. “She needs all of us right now so we are going to go in there and act like she needs us to act.”
“And how does she need us to act?” Mark asked, reaching out, grabbing Owen’s shoulder as he saw him beginning to sway slightly.
Lexie glanced at Mark before busying herself with straightening Owen’s tie and dark blue suit jacket. “She might be having doubts about this wedding.”
Owen suddenly looked incredibly sober, his eyes snapping open from the blurry slits they had previously been in. “What? She’s having doubts?”
“No thanks to you,” Lexie said. “It’s her wedding day, Owen. The happiest day of her life and she’s in there, getting drunk, not even able to say whether or not she loves Alex and saying how me, you and Mark are the three most important people in her life. It’s depressing. It’s her wedding day!” Lexie took a deep breath. “Do you know how happy I was on my wedding day?”
“Yours and Mark’s relationship is completely different to the relationship Sadie has with Alex,” Owen said, a mixture of annoyance and anger rolling into his eyes. “I saw him at Joe’s-”
“You told Sadie what you saw, Owen,” Lexie interrupted, growing impatient. “And she made her decision in regards to it. Now, listen to me. Both of you.” She looked at Mark and then at Owen. “Sadie is getting married today and whatever she wants, we are going to do it no matter what we think of the groom or this entire fiasco waiting to happen-”
“Daddy!” Ally exclaimed suddenly, bursting from the doors and running across the parking lot towards him, no longer wearing her shoes and her teddy bear in one hand.
“Oof,” Mark grunted though he easily hoisted her into her arms. “What are you doing out here? And where are your shoes?”
“You came back!” She said happily, a wide smile across her face.
Mark frowned however. “Of course I came back. Why wouldn’t I?”
“I don’t like when you go away,” Ally said before hugging him, her small arms wrapping as tightly as she could around his neck.
Lexie and Mark looked at one another at their daughter’s words but Lexie looked away first, not wanting to hear their three-year-old say that let alone even be in a situation where those words were warranted. Mark was back now and that was all that mattered. Hopefully, he would stay and they could continue being a family. And Ally would never have to split her time between their house and an Archfield room again. They were a family – for better or worse.
“What are you doing out here, babygirl?” Lexie asked.
“Little Sloan got away from me,” Sadie said, appearing just as suddenly as Ally had, still wearing only her white slip except now she had slipped on a pair of flip-flops and was holding a freshly popped bottle of champagne.
“Stop calling her that,” Mark grumbled. “And you do realize that you're standing out in a parking lot dressed like that?”
“Gee, thank you, Mark for being so informative,” Sadie said with a roll of her eyes.
“Are you ready to get into your dress now, Sadie?” Lexie asked, forcing a smile, wishing she knew what to do.
She didn’t want to come right out and tell Sadie that if she was this miserable on her wedding day then perhaps canceling it would be the best move. Somehow, suggesting to the bride three hours before the ceremony that maybe she shouldn’t be getting married that day seemed somehow just… wrong. Lexie was the maid of honor. She was supposed to support Sadie with all of her decisions and if Sadie wanted to get married then that was what Lexie was going to make sure happened.
“No,” Sadie shook her head. “I am definitely not ready to get into my dress.” She looked at Owen and his disheveled appearance. “What the hell happened to you?”
“My alarm clock didn’t go off and I rushed to get ready,” Owen answered.
“Daddy, I was watching Wall-E and I want you to come watch it with me,” Ally said, her fingers playing with his tie.
“I will definitely watch it with you but first, the adults have some things we need to discuss,” he said, bouncing her slightly in his arms and she giggled joyfully, making him grin. “Just be quiet for a few more minutes, okay?”
She nodded her head obediently and then hugging her teddy bear to her chest, she rested her head on Mark’s shoulder, behaving herself.
“This is what I want to do,” Sadie said, allowing Lexie to take the champagne bottle from her hands after taking one more long chug, a drop messily rolling down her chin. “I want the four… five of us,” she gave Ally a wink who giggled at her. “To get out of here for a little bit.”
“Now?” Lexie asked. “But… the wedding…”
Sadie waved it off. “We still have more than enough time to get out of here for a little bit and I need to get out of here.”
“Where do you want to go?” Lexie gave Owen a disapproving look when he took the champagne bottle from her hand and took a swig from it. In the years she had known him, she had never seen him like this.
Sadie looked back towards the church before exhaling a deep sigh and holding out her hand, Owen handed her back the bottle of champagne. “Anywhere but here,” she answered before knocking her head back and taking a greedy gulp, the bubbly alcohol pouring down her throat.
“Is that Derek?” Sadie asked, both she and Lexie leaning forward in their seats as Lexie pulled her car up into the driveway of hers and Mark’s house, looking through the windshield at the figure standing on the front porch.
Lexie sighed softly. “Great,” she murmured to herself.
“I thought he was on vacation,” Sadie said as Lexie carefully parked the car next to Mark’s Porsche, making sure not to hit Owen who had opened the passenger door and was getting himself out of the car.
“He was in New York, helping Mrs. Shepherd after her hip surgery,” Lexie said, watching as Mark bounded up the steps and the two old friends embraced one another in a quick hug.
Lexie got out and opened the back door, unbuckling Ally from her car seat and giving her a kiss on the cheek before setting the toddler down on her feet. She was still wearing her white flower girl dress but her shoes were still off, she walking in her white tights.
“Ally, be sure your daddy lets Charlie out!” Lexie called after her as Ally instantly began running towards the house, cutting across the front yard to get to Mark and to greet Derek, who Lexie was silently grateful that Ally never referred to as “uncle”.
Lexie knew that despite all of the things the two men did to one another, Mark and Derek would always forgive one another regardless. They had been friends for too long and it was almost as if they weren’t sure how not to be. They went through spurts of time when they fought and then didn’t talk to one another until one day, they decided that they had been angry long enough and just like that, they were back to being friends again.
It drove Lexie crazy and it exhausted her, sometimes forgetting if the two grown men and surgeons were speaking to one another or not. And it angered her when they still insisted on trying to settle their differences by throwing punches. They were too old to be doing that and Lexie had lost count of how many lectures she had given Mark as he sat in an examination room while she cleaned his cuts for him.
Mark had made mistakes throughout his life but he always tried to make things right. It may have taken years but he had changed from who he used to be. At the hospital, he was still demanding and cocky and he could be downright cruel to the fresh batch of interns that had just started at the hospital but he was also a husband and a father now and there was a tenderness to him that only Lexie and Ally and occasionally Owen and Sadie witnessed.
Derek sometimes seemed to have complete difficultly though understanding that or even accepting it. To Derek, Mark would always be the cold manwhore who had slept with his ex-wife. And some of the things he said to Mark were said with the intent purpose of trying to hurt and wound Mark as deeply as possible.
Lexie was weary of Derek in their lives. She understood how important his friendship to Mark was to have but most of the time, it just seemed as if it drained him more than anything.
When Lexie had kicked Mark out of the house two months earlier, after he had come home and said things to her that still made her want to cry if she thought about it for too long, his initial anger had been brought upon by something Derek had said to him and after finding that out for herself, Lexie became furious herself.
“I was just about to leave,” Derek was saying. “I came over to tell you that mom’s doing a lot better now but then I remembered the wedding… Hi, Lexie,” he smiled with a polite incline of his head towards her and Lexie gave him a tight smile.
“Hi, Derek,” she said, reaching between the two men to unlock the front door. “I’m glad to hear about your mom.”
“She’s already talking about her next trip out here so she can see you both and Ally.”
Mark smirked, shaking his head slightly. “She just had surgery on her hip. Doesn’t she know she's supposed to take it easy for a while?”
Lexie unlocked the front door and pushing it open, Charlie immediately ran out to greet everyone and Mark grabbed his collar, trying to keep him down.
Derek lifted an eyebrow upon both seeing Owen’s disheveled appearance and Sadie wearing only her slip and flip-flops. “Aren’t you marrying Alex today?”
“Supposedly,” Sadie shrugged before going into the house, hoping to help herself to some of Mark’s scotch that he kept in the cabinet in the kitchen next to the refrigerator.
As Lexie fixed something for all of them to eat, Sadie sat at the breakfast counter on one of the stools, drinking water since Lexie refused to let her have anymore alcohol, Owen had gone upstairs to borrow one of Mark’s razors so he could shave and Mark had taken Charlie out in the backyard so the dog could relieve himself. Ally had made herself comfortable on the floor of the living room, jabbering to herself as she played with her Fisher Price dollhouse, and Derek listened, smiling to himself as she talked to her doll figures and her teddy bear.
The fire mantel in the living room was crowded with framed family photographs and Derek slowly looked at all of them. He noticed that he was in only one of them – an old photo of a younger Derek, Mark, Addison, Sam and Naomi from their med school days. The other photos were of Mark and Lexie, of Ally, of Mark, Lexie, Owen and Sadie at various holiday get-togethers, of Lexie's sister, Molly and her family in Connecticut, a picture of the two Grey cousins, Laura and Ally together.
There was also a black and white ultrasound photo from when Lexie had been pregnant with Ally and also a signed Babe Ruth baseball card that Lexie had gotten for Mark on one of his birthdays.
Derek looked at the life Mark had and he felt a twist of jealousy in his gut as he continued staring at the photographs – zeroing in on two in particular.
One was of Mark, Lexie and Ally taken the year before on her second birthday. Ally was wearing a pointy party hat and she was sitting on Lexie's lap as Mark had his arms wrapped around both of them, all three of them smiling happily for the camera, bright jubilation in their eyes.
The other was of Mark and Owen, sitting in two of the chairs that were out back on the deck, sunglasses over their eyes, beers in their hands and smiles on their faces.
For the past three years, even before Ally was born, though they remained friends, Derek had been feeling as if he was the outside looking in when it came to Mark’s life. Mark had gotten married, had become a father and was recently named one of the top five plastic surgeons in the entire country. Ever part of his life was flourishing.
And Derek was happy for him. He didn’t want people to think that he wasn’t because he really was. Derek just wished that he was a part of it. Mark and Lexie, along with Owen Hunt and Sadie Harris of all people, had formed a tight family together and it seemed almost impossible to infiltrate. Not even Alex, Sadie’s fiancé, soon to be husband, or Cristina, who’s relationship with Owen was moving even slower than Derek and Meredith’s, were part of the foursome.
“Here, Derek,” Mark said, entering the living room, carrying two bottles of beer, Charlie trotting after him, the dog veering over to sniff at Ally’s toys scattered on the floor.
“Thanks,” Derek smiled, tearing his attention away from the photographs to take the beer and twist the bottle cap off. “Every time I come, there seems to be even more pictures than the last time,” he commented, gesturing towards the fireplace mantel.
Mark smirked. “I think Lex has permanently damaged my retinas from all of the pictures she is constantly taking. You can sit down, you know.”
“I know. I just like looking at them,” Derek said, his eyes drifting back to the still frames chronicling the life that had now become Mark’s life, and Mark shrugged, grabbing the television remote before sitting down on the couch.
“Daddy?” Ally said, turning her head, pausing in the middle of playing with her dollhouse. “Am I still going to be the flower girl today?”
“You are going to have to ask your Aunt Sadie that one, Ally,” Mark answered, turning on the television and immediately flipping the station to ESPN.
“I want to be a flower girl,” she frowned.
Mark smiled at her but when he looked at Derek, it turned into a smirk. He only ever really truly smiled for Lexie and Ally. “Well, start bugging Derek about it. Maybe if he and Meredith ever get married, they’ll ask you to be their flower girl.”
“I got the ring from my mom again,” Derek said, sitting down on one end of the loveseat, his eyes watching as Ally played instead of watching the first inning of the Milwaukee Brewers vs. the Chicago White Sox game that had just started.
“Well, good luck. Again,” Mark said. “Do you think she’s ready this time?”
Derek smiled, still watching, as Ally giggled to herself as she began placing her plastic doll figures on Charlie’s back as he laid on the floor next to her. “I hope so.”