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This Ain't Goodbye {1/5}
addison {falling slowly}
sloanlovesred
Fandom: GA x PP
Rating: PG-13 (vary by chapter)
Pairings: Addison/Jake, Addison/Mark, Mark/Julia
Summary: She was the first woman he ever loved, and he was the only ma she could never have. No matter where and who they build their new lives with, Mark and Addison's paths continue to cross throughout the years until there's nothing left to say except goodbye.




“You’ve got mail,” She tells him in her sweet voice. Precariously leaning over the back of the couch she dangles the envelope in front of his face.

“I always have mail,” He grumbles from his comfortable position on the couch not taking his eyes from the Giants game playing on the TV screen. He may live with her in Seattle but his fidelity for New York hasn’t wavered no matter how much time has passed since he left. She's commented on this before but he mutely takes her harmless teasing in stride.

There’s a lot about his former life she would never understand. No matter how much distance and time is placed between his past self and the Mark Sloan she adores, the events that transpired in the buzzing city are too complex for her to handle. She’s a simple girl with a giving heart. He likes to think he’s better because of her. At least that’s what he tells himself in order to hold off the guilt for thinking about another pretty redhead from time to time.

He senses her distress when she remains rooted on the spot, light green eyes studying him. “Just...” Mark turns his face upward and jerks his head in the direction of the bin on the kitchen counter they reserved for incoming messages. “…put it over there, I’ll get to it after the game.”

This seems to appease her because she grins at him and kisses the side of his face, “Ok. I’m going to lay down for a bit.”

His ears perk up at the insinuation in her tone and he grins broadly, “To sleep?”

Her pale lips twist to the side of her face and Julia tells him coyly, “At least give me until the game ends before you join me.”

Mark chuckles in amusement by her attempt to refine him. He pulls her face towards his and plants a meaningful kiss against her lips. She giggles until her nose scrunching up.

Julia tiredly moves down the hall of his apartment to the bedroom they now share.

“I’ll come for you around dinner time,” He calls out to her.

“Sounds perfect,” She returns brightly before slipping behind a closed door.

~*~*~*~*

“Addison?” He calls out uncertainly.

“In the study,” She returns plainly from the room to his immediate right. Her gaze doesn’t waver from the computer screen, brow intensely furrowed and lips slanting downward in concentration.

“I come bearing gifts,” He announces a bag of Chinese food rustling as he lifts it for her to see.

This instantly strikes her interest, her large blue eyes dancing with hunger and a sly smirk crossing her lips. She pulls the red-framed glasses off the bridge of her nose before gliding from behind the desk and meeting him in the foyer of their beach house.

Wrapping her arms around his neck she leans forward to steal a much-needed kiss. He grins at her crookedly when she pulls away and stares up at him with that dazzling glint in her eye. “Have I told you how much I love you lately?” She muses with a half smirk.    

“Yes,” He inclines his head, “but I have a feeling you’re about to tell me you love me now just because I brought you Chinese food.”

She giggles and rolls her eyes at him. They release their hold on each other and move towards the kitchen to replace the cardboard boxes with dinner plates and cutlery, a habit he found to be very odd.

There was something about her association with Chinese food he didn’t understand. She would eat Indian or Mexican straight from the plastic containers, and rarely placed a slice of pizza on her pristinely white plates. But her orange chicken and brown rice had to be arranged in a somewhat elegant manner that didn’t seem to fit the concept of how a normal individual eats takeout.

He dishes out a generous portion size for her before doing the same for himself. Addison sticks her fork into a piece of chicken and shoves the huge chunk in her mouth. She groans in pure pleasure at the taste causing Jake to chuckle amusingly at her.

“Good?”

“Fantastic,” She corrects with a mouthful of food.

They dig into their meal and find they are too busy satisfying their hunger for real conversation. Then Jake tells her in between bites, “So I had an interesting conversation with your brother today?”

Her face falls a bit, “Oh God. What did he tell you? Was he rude to you? I’m sorry he can be such an ass sometimes. Especially to all the good guys I-”

“Addison,” He interjects softly. It’s his way of telling her she’s rambling on nervously and jumping to conclusions before he can tell her what really happened.

She lowers her gaze, “Sorry.” Swallowing she glances up again, “What did you two talk about?”

“As I was saying, he called me today and wants to meet the…” He pauses to collect the exact wording, “…son of a bitch who’s bound to break his little sister’s heart.”

Addison brings a hand to cover half her face, “Oh God.”

Jake merely smiles across the table at her, “Relax. He’s just protective of you.”

“Yeah, more than he should be.” She grumbles half-heartedly, shooting him a sympathetic smile.

Jake takes her hand, his thumb caressing the band on her finger, “Well that’s something he and I already have in common.”

~*~*~*~*

He stares at the white 5 x 8” white paper accented by a wine colored bow. A diamond with two stenciled hearts linked together inside is printed across the top and below all the décor her name loops the entire width of the invitation. A multitude of thoughts swim through his mind, words and emotions he still can’t completely understand consume him.

It doesn’t matter her name is being used in conjunction with another man’s. All that matters is she sent it to him. This fact unsettles him more than it probably should given he’s with someone else. He wonders if her sending it stirred something similar in her. He wonders if this other man, Jake Riley (he rereads the name that is unrecognizable), knows who he is to her. He wonders if she truly loves this Jake guy. And he wonders if she’s finally found the happiness he could never offer her despite his best intentions. He wonders if…     

“So I just dropped Sofia off at daycare.”

His head snaps up. He notices Callie now standing in his office. He see’s her mouth moving and pretends to listen. But the only thing that runs through his mind is a certain redhead with sun kissed skin and blue green eyes that are deeper shades of indigo when she’s in distress, which is why he pretends they are perpetually green.

She doesn’t fly away from his thoughts until Callie’s waving a hand in front of his vacant eyes, “Hello? Mark?”

He jumps, shaking his head in order to focus. “Sorry, what about Sofia?”

Callie reiterates firmly, “Would you mind taking her until Saturday? Arizona and I kind of have crazy schedules and with her parents coming into town we need some time to clean and stuff.”

Mark nods and answers abruptly, “Of course. That’s fine.”

“Are you ok?” She lifts a brow, concern pervading her tone.

“Yeah,” He answers too quickly for it to be believable.    

“Right,” Callie slowly nods with an air of disbelief. She watches his gaze drops back onto the white sheet paper tightly held between his fingers. “What is that?”

His eye meets hers and he replies with another question, “Have you talked to Addison recently?”

Her expression changes and her lips purse into a tight line as she approaches the question cautiously, “Uh we exchanged kid photos a couple of weeks ago through e-mail, but I would hardly call that talking.”

“So you didn’t know she was getting married?” He flashes the card for her to see.

Callie blinks, “To Jake?” Her guess is confirmed when she reads the fancy invitation. She tosses on his desk, “No I didn’t know that.”

A sort of tense silence descends upon them. Neither one of them really knows what to say about this newfound information they’ve uncovered. She fully knows Mark and Addison and everything else in between them. But she hardly approves of whatever this invitation implies. Mark means more to her now than Addison ever could due to Sofia.

And he can easily piece this together based on her disapproving look and defensive stance. But he’s still consumed by dreams of red hair and stilettos clicking against the hospital floor. He needs advice and it seems she’s one of the few people who is qualified to give it. Still he hesitates from uttering the one question he needs an answer to.

Callie clears her throat, “Are you…are you going to go?”

He frowns up at her and shrugs, “I don’t know. You think it might be weird?”

“I think it’d be weirder if you didn’t go.”

Mark knits his brow together even more confused.

She sighs with a weary smile as if the subject of Addison and Mark has been brought up so many times before there’s really no way to put things politely. “Look Mark, you know what will happen if you don’t go. You’ll both wonder why and think about it until you find some obscure meaning behind it all. Then one of you will call the other and…someone will get hurt. You won’t mean for it to happen, but it will.” She shifts her weight, “But if you go and you see how happy she is with Jake. And she sees how happy you are with Julia…maybe you’ll get the closure you both need. Maybe this is your chance to finally say goodbye.”

~*~*~*~*   

The months leading up until the wedding are more stressful than she remembers from the first time around. But luckily for her, Jake is more enthusiastic about selecting the reception hall, the cake (white with raspberry filling), music (classic rock band), and food (Italian cuisine) than Derek ever could have been. They find themselves bickering more over conflicting styles and tastes than his lack of involvement in the planning. But she keeps reminding herself that this is why she loves him. He’s always there supporting her when most men would simply run for the hills. She trusts he will never lose interest in her or stop caring for her by the little reminders he litters on their bathroom mirror when he’s forced to leave without her hearing a proper goodbye. Or how he always picks up the phone when she calls and directly returns any missed ones. He runs out in the middle of the night when she was craving rocky road ice cream for no apparent reason. And on occasion when she’s feeling particularly low, he’ll hold her when she needs to cry. His attentiveness to her is something new, something that she’s still adjusting to because like most people…Addison hates change.

She liked the independence of her old life, the one that consisted of her going to bed whenever she pleased or eating the last slice of cheesecake. The life where she only answered to a man if sex was included in the exchange. She could self-destruct and no one would notice because she’d put on a smile, some flashy designer clothes, and be a damn good professional the next day. It was odd to imagine living any other way before Jake Riley swept her off her feet. Constant disappointment and melancholy nights on the living room couch were replaced with sweet declarations of love and strong arms holding her close as two bodies fused into one. And it most certainly wasn’t easy. They fought just as fiercely as they fell for one another. He argued she was bossy and childish when things didn’t go exactly her way. She complained about his stubborn streak and need to fix everything for her.

But these are miniscule to the disputes she’s faced in former relationships. There isn’t any indifference thrown her way, no deceit to cause her to doubt, and no broken promises made in the early stages without really thinking ahead to a potential future. He knows what she wants out of life and he respects it. In fact he’s gone through painstaking attempts to make it happen. They are on the verge of having almost everything they wanted. For her it was a family in exchange for a lifetime of happiness for both of them. And he had been a father of sorts before and found it to be rewarding. She could see the thrill of having something to call partially his and hers written all over her face.   

So it was no surprise that she wanted to reciprocate by donning another white dress and veil and professing her love for him in front of all their friends. She never intended to marry again; the first time around had been difficult enough. But Jake was a good man. He wasn't a good man like Derek, who felt obligated to marry his girlfriend of six years instead of tell her the looming doubt at the back of his mind. He wasn't the good man Sam had claimed to be because he didn’t make grandiose promises of an idealistic future. If anything he allowed his actions to showcase his feelings for her over his words.

However there was another significant man in her life she simply struggled to use as a point of comparison. Was Jake more of a decent man than him? Only time would tell if he measured up to the one man who was good enough of a challenge for her to love. The one who was good enough to go forty-six days without sex just for a chance to maybe one day call her his girl. The one who could still forgive the unforgivable hurt she had put him through time and time again.

These feelings of doubt lingered as plans for the wedding progressed. She never confided in anyone, not even Amelia, how she truly felt for fear that the truth would come out or misunderstandings would result in a postponement. She couldn’t afford for that to happen at this stage in her life. She wanted a family, and this was her best chance of achieving those dreams. So she played the role of dutiful, adoring fiancée and was so convincing that she even caught herself smiling or laughing without having to force it. He loved her more than his first wife and she did love him more than her first husband. But it wasn’t her past with Derek she was constantly comparing every other man to.

The morning finally arrives and everything runs as smoothly as possible on such a chaotic day full of hurrying to simply wait for the next cue. Charlotte’s nearly finished with her makeup, and Amelia’s spraying back loose curls until they completely stiffen. Violet’s roaming the church for Lucas whom Pete lost sight of for a moment. And then somewhere in between that fiasco and Amelia trying to figure out the best way to lay the veil amongst her let down curls, Cooper comes in saying something’s wrong with the flowers and both women hurry out to fix it so everything is perfect for the big day.

She doesn’t mind the alone time. In fact, when she was marrying Derek the chaos of his sisters and mother, her mother, and Naomi and Sav forced her into a state of nervous tears. Everyone was asked to clear the room immediately except for Naomi, Sav, and Nancy whom Addison affectionately referred to as the triad of honorable maidens. The three ladies gently reassured her she loved Derek and he really loved her. They made promises they really knew nothing about but at the time they said everything she had needed to hear to walk down the aisle.

Today she’s grateful to be alone. She waits for nearly ten minutes and then soon realizes no one has returned with news concerning the floral issue. Nerves start to take hold of her as she looks to the cathedral length veil the bridal saleswoman insisted would accentuate the simple elegance of her off the shoulder beaded lace dress. It would be too difficult to pin it to her head without getting tangled up in it. But as time ticks onward and fears of abandonment take hold of her, she realizes she doesn’t have any other option really.

Addison shakes out the fabric watching it billow out in an attempt to drape the entirety of the veil over several chairs in her changing room. Once she achieves success with this, she digs the comb at the back of her head, deciding it’s too low. She tries to fixate higher and then pull the top layer of the netting that will cover her face over her head but the comb slips out. She cringes when she feels wisps escaping from the concrete hold the hairspray was supposed to achieve. After struggling with the feat for several minutes she hears a familiar sound of laughter coming from the doorway.

“Need some help?”

Her heart stops at his words. Addison whirls around, “Mark. W-what are you doing here?”

He grins at her crookedly, still marveling at her lack of control in his presence. “You invited me, remember?” The teasing in his voice causes her to laugh, eyes peer down at the ground, and habitually reach up to tuck back a stand of hair that’s already pulled back in her half up, half down style.

“I do remember.” Her emerald eyes flit back up to meet his as she smirks, “I just—I didn’t think you’d come.”

“And pass up a free meal?” Mark pushes from his place off the wall and casually closes the door behind him. He feigns seriousness, “I had to come for that.”

Another soft peal of laughter escapes her. He grins broader, knowing he’s caused her some relief.

“So, do you need some help?” He gestures towards the veil that is now tangled like a strand of DNA.

“Oh Amelia was…” She begins to protest. Then her eyes land on the wall clock when she sighs dejectedly when only ten minutes separate her from becoming Mrs. Montgomery-Riley. “Well I guess she’s busy…so what the hell? If you don’t mind.” She shrugs handing him the comb and moving to untangle the twisted veil that trails behind it.

“So you and Jake,” He comments lightly, making it difficult for her to decipher what he means by this exactly.

He helps her untangle the mess that is her veil and then replies with an anxious smile, “Yeah.”

“Does he make you happy?” Mark asks without any sense of subtly.

She stops for a moment and then looks up at him with sincerity, “He does.”

He nods, grateful to know she’ll at least be smiling more. They finish untangling the fabric in silence carefully not allowing their hands to touch. She turns back to the mirror and explains to him where she wants it pinned on her head.

Mark digs the comb in deep enough for her to wince, him to apologize, and her to tell him she doesn’t want it falling out until after the ceremony. She then starts handing him the pins, commenting on whether or not they fastened correctly.

The question he’s wondered about for a while finally resurfaces in their conversation, “Is he a good guy?”

She hesitates, her brow lifting and eyes widening at him in the mirror. Mark doesn’t allow himself to stare for more than a few seconds before focusing his attention to her hair. She then is able to answer, “I think so, yes.”

Mark then asks in quieter tones, “And he loves you as much as you love him?” He places another pin in her veil and stops to stare at her reflection again.

“Probably even more,” She admits with cheeks blushing fiercely after the words slip out.

He lifts a brow, “But you do love him right?”

She chews on the inside of her cheek and dips her eyes forward, “I do. It’s just…hard.” She finds his gaze again while explaining, “It’s hard going through all of this again. Knowing it can end badly.”

“It’s not hard if it’s the right person,” He informs her knowingly under his intense guise.

“What about you and Lexie? You two aren’t together anymore?” It’s her discrete way of diverting attention from her feelings for Jake onto solving the Julia mystery that’s plagued her ever since she saw her name scrawled in Mark’s uneven handwriting on his return card. She longed to know what this new woman meant to him.

Mark replies flatly, “No, that ship has sailed.”

“And uh…Julia?” She probes innocently.

“Yes?” He challenges, not explaining anymore than he has to.

“What’s she like?”

He stares at her reflection in the mirror for a moment or so. A pair of reflected emerald orbs stare back at him, creating chills at the back of his neck. “She’s beautiful,” He mutters while looking at her, “and she has a good heart. And she adores Sofia.”

Addison lowers her eyes and nods silently at his description. She doesn’t think it was smart for her to ask about this new woman.

“She’s not too bad in bed either,” He can’t help but chide.

Addison snorts at this and he smiles half-heartedly because for an instant he thought he’d hurt her.

“She sounds like the right person for you,” Is all she can manage to say.

“I don’t know about that,” He argues softly. His warm breath seeps through the thin fabric of her veil onto her bare neck, “But she’s probably close enough.”

Addison turns her face until it aligns with his, “Then don’t screw it up.”

“I won’t if you won’t,” He leans forward until his forehead rests against hers. Their lips are a mere centimeters apart as their noses press together.

“Mark, please don’t,” She squeezes her eyes tightly shut, afraid that if she sees the kiss coming she’ll have something to be guilty of.

Her heart races with anticipation as she feels his hot breath hits her bottom lip quicker as space slowly closes between them. His mouth tilts downward until his mouth just barely graces hers. It’s over so quickly she doesn’t even have time to reciprocate or classify it as a kiss. Instead of fusing his mouth against hers it finds her forehead in a chaste manner.

She breathes out a sigh. Feelings of relief, disappointment and guilt crash over her unevenly when he pulls away and they are nothing more than friends at this moment forward.

“Goodbye, Addie.” He tells her with melancholy look in his pale green eyes.

As he walks away she doesn’t have to wonder anymore about what it means to be a good or decent man. He’s the dark horse no one expected to rise to the top. But it’s clear he’s made his choice and now she has to make hers.

She strides out into the garden and looks down the long aisle at the man who’s beaming in her direction. Amelia takes her by the arm and leads her down the straight path she’s chosen. A rock or something catches under her left heel, causing her to momentarily lose her balance but between Amelia and a strong hand that reaches out for her she doesn’t fall. Her eyes wander up to whom the hand belongs to and she sees a teary eyed redhead on the other side of him.

Mark inclines his head at her and smiles despite his clenched jaw that suggests he’s holding back more emotions for her than she’ll ever know. He releases her and Amelia is leading her onward, there’s no more time for her to look back.

While she takes her vows in front of God and all of her close friends, they both come to realize as far as they’re concerned, goodbye doesn’t mean forever.


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