Summary: Already she knows these things about him and it worries her less than it should. Life is just a series of moments. (Or alternatively, how to get from A to B in ten easy steps.)
Author's Notes: 3,577 words. I have no idea what's going on in the show right now, so I'm just going to say general season five spoilers to be careful. For rinslet just because. I think you'll know why when you read this, and hopefully you won't mind and maybe even like it? All mistakes are mine. These characters, however, are not.
At first Lexie can’t stand him.
He is as smooth as he is arrogant, smiles like he doesn’t have a care in the world, all calculation and indifference. He walks around the hospital like he owns the place, like he’s a force to be reckoned with and Lexie’s never taken well to people who like themselves enough for everyone.
There is attractiveness about him, sure. Mark’s smile is as beautiful as it is smug and she won’t lie, there is something there, lingering just below the surface that she finds undeniably irresistible, but it is so overshadowed by the rest of him that it doesn’t even matter.
“You’re pathetic,” he snaps and it becomes a routine of sorts – she’ll roll her eyes, shuffle her feet, mutter a decisive shut up and there will be grins, simple and wide, and the tiniest flutter somewhere deep for the smallest of seconds before she shoves it down.
Even in the beginning there were patterns.
(This is what she hates the most, you see. Even then, even before they were anything at all to each other, he saw her. He knew her.
He noticed her when no one else would even give her the time of day.)
“I think you like me,” she breathes softly with her fingers ghosting over skin and muscle. One of his thighs finds itself between her own easily and Lexie shifts closer to him on reflex.
“Oh, really?” Mark just sort of hums and she’s not looking but she knows he’s raising an eyebrow.
It’s late, possibly morning. It’s the after and she should probably be on her way, find her sweater and panties, get out before she gets pulled into too far. She should go, really, because while she did come here looking for something this was not the particular something she was looking for.
Then again, Lexie has always been fond of happy accidents.
“Mmm-hmmm,” she sounds out, and her fingers are teasing the waistband of his boxers and he grins against the skin of her neck. All of sudden the awkwardness is gone and there is this feeling somewhere deep in her belly that grows and multiplies and stays with her. “Can I ask you something?” she asks quietly after a short pause. She’s nervous, a little, as she teeters the edge between tiredness and exhaustion. As she toes the line that is already drawn between them. There’s some brief, non-committal noise that passes his lips and it sinks into her skin, becomes a part of her. “Why the hell are you still living in a hotel?”
His shoulders are shaking from laugher, his lips pressing into the skin of her neck, the spot behind her ear, the pressure soft and fleeting. He is laughing and so is she, the smile on her lips wide as the moment brands something deep inside of her.
This is where it all begins.
“Do you mind if I ask you what made you change your mind?”
Lexie’s voice is quiet as she chews on her bottom lip, fingers curling around the railing she’s using for support. She takes in the curve of his back as he presses the button for his floor and watches, in tune to his every move, as he settles right next to her before answering.
“You know,” he starts and she lets out a breath she didn’t realize she was holding in as he reaches up to rub the back of his neck. He chuckles softly, the sound filling the space between them and she smiles at the way it settles over her. “I don’t really know,” he says after a short moment and she just sort of laughs.
There’s little she knows about him and she’ll be the first to admit it, but she knows people. She knows things, and if there is one thing she does know about him it is that he is not spontaneous. Every move, every decision is thought-out in advance, each choice meticulously chosen.
Already she knows these things about him and it worries her less than it should.
“Well,” she draws out the word for a beat longer than necessary. She’s nervous and she has no idea why. She knows where this is going, that they will most probably end up in bed, and she’s okay with that. She is more than okay with that. She’s not sure what that makes her, but she also doesn’t care. “I’m glad you did,” she says, and then it’s over.
In an instant he’s kissing her, pulling her close with his hands framing her face, hard and his kiss is open-mouthed and he tastes like tequila and mint and already, already she’s falling. When he opens her mouth with his own she pushes her tongue against his and somewhere in the back of her mind she hears the thud of her back against the elevator wall, relishes the way he shoves a thigh between her own. It’s awkward, a little, the space between the railing and wall bending her back at an uncomfortable angle, but she doesn’t want to move, doesn’t want to be anywhere, do anything but kiss him.
Mark kisses her until they are both breathless, until the elevator dings, an intervention of sorts, and they pull apart just as the doors slide open, gasping for air and adjusting their clothes. Her legs already feel like lead, mind already void of its crystal clarity and it is a nice adjustment she makes, standing up a bit straighter as his fingers come to rest on her back, pressure slight, but there. The blood in her head makes her ears sing and she’s reaching blindly into his front pocket for his key-card, half leaning up against the door when she finds it.
It’s a small slip of paper, crinkled, edges curling, his hasty scrawl oddly familiar as she squints in the dim light of the hallway to read it. “I will not get naked with interns,” she reads, voice filled with budding laughter. He tries to take it from her, but she steps to the side, out of reach. “What is this?”
“I’m in a program,” he murmurs quietly, avoiding eye contact, and she laughs a little without meaning to.
“A program?” She repeats, amused. “Like a twelve step program?”
“More of a one step actually,” he mutters obviously annoyed and grabs the key out of her hand hastily.
“Then should we not—“
She’s laughing when he kisses her.
There is the eventual standstill.
There is sex and more sex and even more sex following that sex and she is okay with it like that because the sex is good and he has nice hands and even the way his lips skip the curve of her jaw breathes a lovely sort of familiarity.
There is the accident. Later, somewhere down the line when they have enough distance on things she will laugh and so will he, his forehead to her shoulder, his lips on her skin. That’s later though and during it is ridiculous as it is humiliating and they fumble around for a while, trying to find their footing in this brand new world. There aren’t changes, not really. She still goes home with him, they still have dinners and coffee and hidden smiles.
Maybe, at first, she sits a little farther away on the couch though. Touches him less. Distance is easy, distance gives perspective, and Lexie isn’t used to not knowing which way is up.
“Hey,” Mark says one night. Letterman’s on in the background. There is take out on the coffee table and she’s rubbing frayed cotton between her thumb and forefinger absently. She looks over at him, smile soft. His hand reaches out, fingers slipping against her cheek. “Why are you so far away?”
When he kisses her she sighs and breathes at once, like she had somehow managed to forget how.
“Whoa,” Sadie laughs one night over the phone. She’s called to ask Lexie to Joes, and it’s funny, sort of, the way Sadie clings just a little bit more to Lexie than she does Meredith. It’s nice though, Lexie muses, to have somebody else in your corner every once in a while. “You guys are dating?” The word drops off her tongue, the bitterness seeping through the phone, even from miles away. “Like in a relationship?”
Lexie laughs too.
Mark looks at her from next to her on the bed, eyebrow raised. It’s their night off and she has just made him pause The Office (Her choice, not his, because she’s kind of in love with Jim Halpert and the way Mark laughs at all the same jokes she does). His hand brushes against her thigh and lingers there.
“Yeah,” she breathes, looking at him. He’s smiling. “I guess so.”
They go to Joe’s after the fight with Derek.
They drink too much, way too much, and have to take a cab back to the hotel. She wakes up in the morning, mouth dry and head pounding when she finds him staring at her, eyes knit closely together. His mouth twitches into a frown and there are lines creasing his forehead that she has never noticed before. She’s frowning too as she breathes out a soft what’s wrong?
“I just,” Mark starts softly and she shifts closer on impulse, feet tangling with his. She feels awful about Derek, feels awful in general. This is not what she wanted. This is not what she expected and it amazes her that he’s here, with her. That he fought for her. That he is willing to give up over twenty years of friendship for her. Her heart aches in a way she is entirely unaccustomed to. “I don’t exactly know how to do this right. I’ve never done this right.”
Reaching for him, Lexie smoothes the lines of his forehead; rests her palm against his cheek. Her lips twitch into a soft smile and knows, inherently, that he’s looking for reassurance, that this is way of saying I don’t want to fuck this up, but I think it’s kind of inevitable.
“Me neither,” she says and it’s mostly true. There have been boys rooted in her past, men who have come and gone, and before this she has never really cared enough to make sure they stuck. “We’ll figure it out though,” she continues and he smiles, finally. “I think we’re going to be just fine.”
Their kiss is slow and leisurely, with his fingers curled around her waist and her hand still against his cheek. He kisses her and the earth just sort of stands still, her heart singing in her ears and she thinks, maybe, this is the moment when she fell one-hundred-percent in love with him.
She never looks back.
They don’t fight like normal people. They don’t really fight at all. Early on there were subjects they learned to approach with absolute grace and caution (It’s her father for Lexie, Addison for him) and they pick and choose their battles with painstaking carefulness, following the handbook passed down unconsciously from Meredith and Derek, the one that proclaims, boldly, what not to do in certain situations.
There is this one time, though.
It’s after Izzie – tensions are still running high for just about everyone, her father has fallen off the wagon again and all Mark says is have you ever thought about getting him some help? with a hand on her forearm. She snaps and yells and says things she doesn’t mean. She takes things personally, it’s who she is, and this is her father and she’s been down this road one too many times before. There had been the tiniest amount of hope lingering somewhere deep and she’d thought, maybe, her father had both feet firmly planted on the wagon this time.
The inevitable let down was devastating and she screams a half-hearted just go, OK? I don’t need your help and he does and leaves and she takes her father back to the house and tosses out alcohol he’ll just replace in the morning. When she returns to the hotel, tired and battle worn, Mark isn’t there and she spends the rest of the night chewing on the side of her thumbnail, her feet curled up beneath her – she misses him so much it hurts.
Lexie waits and keeps waiting and is half-asleep when the door clicks open and shuts quietly. When her eyes slide open he’s there, standing near the edge of the couch. It’s late, maybe four in the morning and her mouth parts to say something, mumble a simple I’m sorry that wouldn’t convey how deeply sorry she truly is, but his voice stops her.
“I love you,” he just sort of says, voice quiet, and she forgets how to breathe for a moment, the silence between them pounding in the base of her skull. “I love you,” he says again, that corner of his mouth curling upwards just slightly and he sounds amazed, sort of, at his words. “I am totally and completely in love with you and I’m sorry that I pushed, because it isn’t my place, but I see what this does to you –”
“I love you too,” Lexie breathes, finally, cutting him off and her hands are on him in an instant, pulling him towards her.
“Yeah?” Mark asks like it was ever even a question, eyelashes skirting against his cheeks as he angles his head towards her.
“Yes,” she murmurs, his forehead slipping against hers. Mark grins against her teeth.
“I think we should move.”
It’s her idea initially. Derek and Meredith have moved towards acceptance, and it’s nice, this repertoire they have all developed among each other, but it is still somewhat awkward and this morning her forehead met Derek’s bare chest as she came out of the bathroom for the third time this week. It’s about three times too many.
“Or I should move,” she sighs, avoiding eye contact. They’re in the cafeteria – it’s a late lunch and she pushes the lettuce on her plate around with a plastic fork and tries not to read too much into his silence. “I mean, they’re getting married soon and the house isn’t that big –“
“Okay?” There are people shuffling around them, eyeing them with a subtle mix of both curiosity and judgment and she scoots closer to him without thinking. “Okay as in okay I should move or as in okay, okay?”
Mark’s lips curl. “As in okay, let’s move.”
A week or two later they look at apartments. Nothing too fancy, nothing too big, and he stands in the center of a two bedroom in downtown Seattle and they’re arguing lightly about whether or not it’s the one. He stands there, shoulders squared and rubs his jaw with the back of his hand and looks towards her knowingly. It’s what she loves the most about him, she thinks. The way he is who he is no questions asked in any moment, in any space.
“Can we have a moment?” he asks, voice silky smooth, confident as he grins towards the realtor. Lexie holds her laughter over the way the woman falls all over herself at Mark’s mere presence until she is out of sight, her shoulders shaking when he turns to her. “You don’t like it?”
She sobers and softens, head shifting to the side slightly. “No,” she begins, eyeing the fireplace and large bay window off to the right. “No, I love it. I think it’s great. It’s just,” she pauses and eyes him for a short moment, “You seem more of a penthouse guy –”
There is a grin, effortless almost, and her heart does that thing where it beats inside her throat. “I am a penthouse guy, but you aren’t a penthouse girl,” he takes a step closer to her, fingers tangling in her hair for a long moment. “I just want to be with you. I don’t really care about the where.”
Lexie’s lips sweep against his. He sighs something soft into her mouth.
It’s contentment, she muses.
“I’m not that guy.”
They’re dancing at Meredith and Derek’s wedding, a year or two in the future because Meredith’s always been a little slow about these sorts of things and her and Derek have never moved at the same pace as everyone else. Lexie’s arms are wrapped around Mark’s neck, his fingers splayed at her hips. Her cheek rests on his chest, somewhere near her heart and she can hear it, sounds out the thump, thump, thump inside her head. It’s comforting.
“I’m not Derek,” he continues, voice quiet and she tilts her head back to glance at him.
“What are you talking about?” She asks. She’s smiling, of course, and his fingers tighten on her hip. Instinctively she moves closer, folding into him as much as possible. They have these patterns and he likes to touch her, likes to have contact. He told her once, with a smile against her breast, that it’s enough just to hold her hand. She’d laughed and he had frowned and pouted a bit, but mostly she felt the same.
“I’m never going to build you a house. I am never going to be good with the declarations,” he pauses for a moment, head bowing towards hers and he’s looking right at her when he continues, “I can’t be that guy for you,” and he looks sad when he says this, mouth pressed into a thin line. He looks sad and her heart breaks, just a little, and a hand untangles from around his neck and skims the soft skin of his cheek. He shaved today, for the wedding, and she misses the scratchiness of his scruff against the palm of her hand.
Lexie grins through his uncertainty, takes stock in the way his fingers press into her hipbone.
“I don’t need that guy,” she starts, lips centimeters away from his. “I don’t even want that guy.”
He breathes and sighs and kisses her.
Lexie reaches down for his hand to find his already there waiting.
They stand next to each other in the bathroom, Lexie brushing her teeth, Mark shaving (or not shaving as the case may be – after, he never looks any different so she really isn’t sure what to call it) sneaking glances out of the corner of their eyes, small smiles twisting at their mouths.
After, she spits out her mouthwash and places her toothbrush next to his and notices that he’s looking at her. Really looking at her like she’s a patient he can’t diagnose, somebody he doesn’t know how to internally fix and she’s seen it before, knows what it means. He’s leaning, hip against the sink and she frowns, lips curling downwards.
Mark smiles softly and her heart skips a beat because some things never lose their effect. The man is beautiful when he smiles. “Nothing… I just…” he trails off and steps towards her, just an inch. He opens his mouth. Closes it. Opens it again and she sighs something tired because they’re already late. Her interns are waiting for her, he has surgery in less than an hour and a half and she’s still in her shorts and his shirt, the edges of Columbia fading into the wrinkles.
“Are you alright?” she asks, half-laughing, and crosses her arms over her chest blindly. He’s making her nervous, just a little, even if she’d never admit it.
There’s a pause that stretches on for a hefty length of time before he says easily, without any further preamble, “Let’s get married,” the words just falling off his tongue, and it’s more of a statement than a question and her lips part, jaw falling open slightly.
“I have a ring,” he jerks his thumb over his shoulder and takes another step towards her so he’s invading her space completely. “I’ve had a ring for a while now, but I’ve been waiting for the right moment, trying to figure out how to ask you, but the problem with us is that it’s always the right moment…” he trials off and his hands reach up, skimming her jaw, her cheeks, and her mouth is still slightly open and she must look completely flabbergasted because his mouth presses into a thin line and he just sort of takes a second to breathe before kissing her, just once, just a brush of his lips against hers. “I love you,” he says, voice thick with emotion, thick with certainty. “I want to marry you. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I want you to have my children and grow old with you,” he grins, but it’s stretched too thin. He’s nervous, his hands on her face tightening. She thinks, in that moment, she falls in love with him all over again. “Marry me?”
“Yes,” Lexie just sort of says, not even thinking, because, she’ll deduce later on, it really doesn’t require much thought at all. All these years and it’s just another step forward, the easiest decision she’s ever made and there’s a moment that lasts an eternity where they just stare at one another, breathing, being.
The TV hums out the weather report in the background – Sunny with a slight change of rain, they say.
His grin is wide against her lips when she kisses him.
Author's Notes: I like to pay credit where credit is due and this spawned from a conversation that Rinslet and I had concerning all these moments Mark and Lexie seem to have that we never get to see. We were talking about the possibilities for these two, the prospect of apartment hunting, and we had this vision of the two of them in our heads, arguing and being cutesy and the penthouse line is most definitely hers, not mine. I just borrowed it for a while. I love chatting M/L with you, bb, and I can't wait until I'm back and we can maybe chat when the show actually airs? Hope you liked this.
*back to my regularly scheduled hiatus*