waltzmatildah: (greys: alex and meredith wrath)
[personal profile] waltzmatildah
Title: As A Side Effect From This...
Fandom: Grey's Anatomy
Characters/Pairings: Alex and Meredith (mentions of past Alex/Izzie)
Word Count: 1600
Rating: PG
Summary: Arizona devises a cruel and unusual punishment for Alex. Meredith comes to his rescue.
Author's Note: Secret Santa fic for [livejournal.com profile] poisoned_candyy who wanted Meredith/+Alex with baking, midnight and snow. Trust me when I say this is as angst free as I get! Title and cut text from As Long As I Am Here, Prime Circle. Also, MANY thanks to [livejournal.com profile] rorylie. She is absolutely the only reason this exists!



He can remember exactly how it started.

A chocolate spattered recipe with one corner missing and the ingredients spelled out in a gently sloping cursive that is familiar enough to send his insides on a slow spin.

The end though... the end is a little more difficult to determine.



*



It's well after midnight when Meredith finds him, slumped to seated on the kitchen floor. His resolve somewhere beneath the soles of his shoes. He can see the stricken confusion as it charts a course across the planes of her ready grin. She hides her initial panic well.

He tries not to think about why she's so practiced in the art these days.

There is a bottle of beer clenched in his left fist, his right still clings desperately to the notion that success is never too far out of reach.

"What's going on?"

"What's it look like?" A non-answer. He is equally well practiced in the art of escape and evade.

"It looks like a cupcake factory threw up all over my kitchen, that's what it looks like..."

"Ha. Well, whatdaya know..."

"Alex. Seriously."

He's not sure how long he's been sitting where he is right now. Just long enough to lose all feeling in his right foot. The sensation of numbness is oddly comforting and he wonders how long he'd have to sit there for the rest of him to catch up.

Figures he could manage all night if he has to.



*



"She didn't put down what type of flour to use." As though the fragment of words holds some kind of answer that she could piece together into a semblance of understanding.

"What?" Exactly. What.

He drains the beer. Winces at the warmth it's developed and contemplates reaching for another. Contemplates asking her to pass him one...

Chickens out on both counts.

"Izzie. She just wrote 'flour' and when I looked in the cupboard I found 'all purpose', 'wholewheat' and 'semolina'. She didn't say which flour to use and I almost called her to ask and then I remembered why that would be a really, really dumb-ass move and now I have a bowl full of eggs and I'm pretty sure I spilled the milk and I still don't know which flour I'm supposed to use."

He thinks it's more words joined together into a mouthful than he's managed to string for quite some time. The frown that Meredith's forehead deepens into says something similar...

"You're baking?"

And he thinks she's missed the point entirely.



*



"You're baking." Less of a question this time, more a bewildered statement of fact, but the point remains well and truly missed.

"It was Arizona's idea..." He shrugs, manages a level of nonchalance that he can see only serves to further fuel her disbelief.

"Okay. So, you were baking, which was Arizona's idea, and now you're drunk and morose because Izzie didn't specify which type of flour you're meant to use to make... what the hell are you making, anyway?"

"Nothing. Nothing now..."

Petulance. Second nature. She sighs and the sound hangs between them.

"Fine. You're not baking. But you were baking and now you're not and somehow it's Izzie's fault that my kitchen looks like a set straight outta some b-grade Desert Storm production."

"I was baking cookies. For the kids. Arizona told them I'd... you know, for Christmas..."

"Arizona told them what? Does that woman know you at all?"

"Oh, yeah. She knows me. I'm pretty sure that's why she volunteered me for cookie duty. Her version of cruel and unusual punishment."

"What did you do this time?"

He shrugs because, really? It could have been one of a number of things and he didn't bother to ask for specifics at the time.



*



"So, what are you planning on telling the kids tomorrow when you turn up without cookies? That you got into a booze filled pity party for one and ...."

"Wasn't planning on telling them anything. That's what bakeries are for. Or grocery stores."

"You'd take store bought cookies and pass them off as your own?"

He slides his brows into a disparaging frown. "Don't even bother to pretend like you wouldn't do exactly the same thing."

"Hmmm.” She grins and nods her head in reluctant defeat. “True. Point taken. But you've gone to so much..." She pauses then, fights to come up with the correct word, "effort?" Eyebrows raised. Like she doesn't really believe he's made much of an effort at all. "Let's finish them together..."

"But the flour. I don't-"

"Alex. Seriously? You're a surgeon. You mean you honestly can't figure out what type of flour to use in cookies?"

He blinks up at her dumbly. Doesn't quite see the parallel between the two scenarios.



*



She sighs again and reaches a hand down to haul him to his feet. He rolls his eyes in response but lets her thread her fingers around his wrist nonetheless.

"Fine. But if we're doing this I'm gonna need more beer... Or tequila. Tequila would work."

"Honestly? Is there any other way?" She pulls her hand free of his and reaches into a cupboard at waist height. Roots around behind pots that have never seen the light of day and retrieves a bottle of liquor hidden there. Holds it triumphantly above her head. All statue of liberty like.

"Ha. And you pretend like you're not still dark and twisty."

She shrugs, hair tumbles around shoulders that shift just enough to convey her point.

“I figure it's only a matter of time before I fall of that wagon. It always pays to be prepared.”

He snorts then, indulges in an image of her as a girl scout and can't quite seem to reconcile the picture with what he knows about her. She cuffs him lightly on the shoulder. No doubt reads his mind with startling accuracy.

“Head in the game, boy. We have cookies to bake. Though, seriously? Arizona must really, hate you.”



*



In the end they bake coconut cookies because the cocoa required for chocolate ones is four months past expired.

The oven timer ticks away steadily as a heady haze of tequila and flour dust fills the feet and inches of space between them; a softly falling snow. He lifts liquor-numbed fingers to the hair that covers her right eye. Tucks the strands back behind her ear with a suggestive smirk.

“Want me to say thank you?”

She laughs. Tilts her head back by degrees as the hair he'd just repositioned falls back into place across her face.

“Only if your version of thank you involves washing dishes and feeding me left over cookie dough.”

“Not quite what I had in mind...” he concedes, eyes front and centre once more.

“No. I didn't think it was.”



*



The air stills to silent after that. The echo of ghosts weaving between them the only shuffling sound.

She tilts the emptying tequila bottle in his direction. Collides the heavy glass with the neck of his beer, “Merry Christmas, Alex.”

He slides his eyes towards her, brows raised at the sentiment. Blood run to cold at the hidden weight of her words.

“You know, there was a moment there... when, well... I'm sure you know when.” He lowers his gaze hastily to the tile beneath his left knee but offers her a curt nod of affirmation all the same.

“It's just, this Christmas. I know it's not what we were hoping for this time last year but...”

There is always a but.

“... I just, well... it could have been so much worse so, Merry Christmas, Alex.”

She nudges her shoulder into his with an aching sense of familiarity that grinds at his back teeth before the moment is shattered by the shrill screech of the timer bursting to life. He lets out a breath he didn't know he'd been holding, hides it amid the scurry of activity to open the oven door.



*



She's half way up the stairs and with her back to him when he calls out. She stops then, twists just enough that he can see the half mast falls of her eyelids.

“Merry Christmas to you, too, Mere.”

She grins. Wide, wild. Trots back down the handful of steps separating them and hurls herself around him in an uncomfortable attempt at something resembling a hug.

“Wow. That was weird,” she concedes, stepping back hastily with a lopsided grin. “But you get the message, right?”

He offers her a sly smirk, uses another default fall-back to deflect the awkward intimacy.

“Yeah, Mere. Loud and clear...”



*



He takes pleasure in Arizona's startled look of surprise when he arrives at the paeds. unit with a tupperware container full of cookies.

Feigns hurt at her suggestion that he bought out a bakery on his way to work. Huffs that he would never do such a thing and that he's appalled she thinks so little of him. Offers a wink in the direction of the miniature patient to his left and sinks his teeth into his own sugary creation.

Tells expansive tales of beating eggs and measuring out milk and fails completely to mention the existential meltdown he only narrowly managed to avoid.

“Merry Christmas, everyone...”
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