As a doctor, Derek Shephard had many responsibilities. As a doctor, he woke in the morning with the knowledge that he would, potentially, be operating on brains that day. After all, he was a neurosurgeon. So in the morning, he went into the bathroom, got ready for the day, dressed and went downstairs. Downstairs, he ate breakfast, which today was comprised of toast and leftover stew. He would pick up his phone and his car keys, walk out the door of his trailer, and got into his car.
Arriving at the hospital was as it always was. He parked in his designated spot, told a loitering nurse to get back to work, and marched through the doors. He would go to his office, don his white lab coat, and go about his business, seeing patients and making small talk. Eventually he would prepare for a surgery, and while washing his hands he would say, “It’s a beautiful day to save lives,” as he often did. By lunch, he had performed three surgeries, diagnosed two patients, and checked up on nineteen others.
As a person, Derek loved hated his ex-wife, Addison Montgomery, loved his girlfriend, Meredith Grey, and hated his ex-best friend, Mark Sloan. As a person, Derek was a bit of a romantic, loved his job, had money, lived in a trailer that sat on a very, very large piece of land; and as a person, Derek was strong-willed and resilient. He kept his head up, but if he lost a patient all of that fell, and he became angry and depressed. He knew that, as a Shephard, there were risks in his family that he could easily fall victim to, such as heroin or different types of cancer. He had four sisters and was raised by a single mom, after witnessing his father’s death, something that hurt him daily.
And as Derek, he was called ‘eye candy,’ or ‘McDreamy,’ something that secretly he enjoyed. As Derek, he supplied solutions to problems, solutions nobody had ever thought of before. As Derek he liked to cook and watch television on his days off. As Derek, he wanted to get married, and, one day, have kids. As Derek, he was a good surgeon, and as Derek, he refused to admit when he couldn’t meet the standards he had set for the surgeons and interns that he worked with.
Today was that kind of day. It was only at lunch that he registered something was wrong, but even as a doctor, he couldn’t place what it was, and simply waved it away. He sat at his desk, looking over some material on his computer, nibbling halfheartedly at a box of raisins.
He wasn’t hungry, and he threw away the half-empty box just as a knock came at the door. “Mmm,” he responded, deep in thought as he perused the material on his laptop.
“Hey, you, I haven’t seen you all day.” Meredith Grey said as she entered, shutting the door. She was one of the interns at the hospital, but in a little less than a year, she would be a full-fledged doctor. No more interning for her–she’d be in charge of her own interns.
“Yeah, sorry, I’ve been busy.” he mumbled, his eyes scanning the screen.
“What are you reading?” Meredith asked, wrapping her arms around him and kissing his neck.
He didn’t answer for a minute, then finally tapped the screen and said, “Did you know that a doctor in Sweden just did a surgery on a two-month old girl? A brain surgery, to get a tiny little tumor out of her head. The risks on that are infinite!”
“And did it work?”
“So why are you angry?”
“I’m not angry, I–ooh, I like that.”
“Step away from work for a minute,” Meredith whispered, her eyes dancing. “You have a couch, why don’t we just . . . sit for a minute.”
Derek’s heart flip-flopped. “That sounds nice,”
He was just going to kiss her when Meredith’s pager went off, and she sighed. “Bailey wants me, again.”
“Have fun,” he joked.
“Maybe it’s a surgery,” her eyes gleamed.
“Don’t sound so excited,” he laughed. “Wouldn’t you rather it be a little girl with a broken bone, as opposed to a life-threatening illness?”
“Yeah, I suppose.” Meredith sighed exaggeratedly, then gave him a brief kiss. “I’ll see you later, okay?”
“Okay,” Derek’s eyes had glazed over as he began reading the computer again.
“Are you okay?” Meredith asked suddenly. “You seem a bit . . . off.”
“Yeah, I’m fine,” he glanced up at her, confused. “Why?”
“No reason. Just . . . eat something, okay? You seem a bit off.”
“So you said,”
“Just eat something,”
“I did,” Derek said. Technically, he wasn’t lying. He had eaten a half a box of raisins, so technically, he had eaten.
“Okay. . .” Meredith sounded strange, but he wasn’t necessarily concerned with it.
“I’m fine, okay? I promise,” he said, slightly irritated. “I’ve just got a headache, okay?”
Meredith began to massage his temples, and though it slightly eased the ache in his head, it also irritated him. He gently shrugged her off, saying, “Bailey wants you, remember?”
Meredith seemed a bit put-off by this reaction, and he kissed her forehead. “I’m fine, okay?”
“Are you sure?”
The rest of the day was pretty much the same–a surgery here and there, a couple patients to check on, a patient or two being wheeled in through the emergency room. His headache increasingly grew worse, and by the time he went home he had swallowed half a dozen painkillers. He fell asleep around dawn, walking into the hospital at eight-thirty am.He performed two surgeries, spoke to one patient and had a meeting with Chief Weber. By then, his headache was like driving knives, spearing into his skull with immense force.
“Dr. Shephard, are you listening to me?” Chief Weber asked, his voice slightly aggravated.
“Yes, Chief, of course.” Derek said, squeezing his eyes shut in hopes the pain would lessen.
“What is the matter with you?” Chief Weber demanded.
“I have a surgery in half an hour,” Derek mumbled. “Are we almost done here?”
The meeting progressed, and though Chief seemed suspicious, he didn’t raise any other questions, and Derek was out of the office in a matter of minutes. He had hardly closed the office door when his stomach sloshed uncomfortably, and he ran down the hall to the bathroom. He had barely shut this door, too, before turning and vomiting into the toilet. He waited a few minutes, positive he would be sick again, but he wasn’t, and flushing the toilet he stood up to try and compose himself.
He knew performing the upcoming surgery was a bad call. It was a serious risk, but there wasn’t another neurosurgeon that could perform it at the present time, and nobody knew he was ill. ****, he couldn’t be ill–he was a doctor, and he never got sick. It was just the lack of sleep, and probably the stew he had eaten for breakfast. Sure, that was it, he had eaten too quickly, and he was stressed out, and tired, and–
He groaned and clutched the toilet, sinking to his knees as he vomited.
The sweat had prickled at his forehead uncomfortably the entire surgery. He thought for sure his hands would shake, and he held off twice before proceeding, but finally it was over, and the patient was going to recover just fine. Just fine. . .
He hurried out of the OR, took off the scrubs, washed off his hands, and headed down the hall. The light was brighter than he remembered, and it drove knives into his skull with tremendous force, stronger than back in the chief’s office. He heard people following him from the room, but he couldn’t be bothered with that right now. He had to get out–he was going to be sick–he had to go home–he was dizzy–he had to–he had to–
“Derek?” Meredith’s voice stopped him, and he turned. “Derek, are you okay? Why the rush?”
“I’m fine,” he lied, swallowing the acidic taste that was rising into his mouth. “What are you doing?”
“I was watching the surgery,” Meredith started to say, and then she paused. “You don’t look too hot. Actually . . . you look warm. Are you okay?”
“I said I’m fine,” he lied again, and she reached a hand out to feel his head.
“You’re burning up,” she gasped. “How bad is it?”
“How bad is what?” he started to ask, but he stopped and vomited all over the floor.
Meredith was quiet, and Christina Yang came out of the operating room. She briefly surveyed the scene and muttered, “Oh, gross. This is why I do surgeries. You can’t puke in surgeries. Get yourself a room, Shephard. Nasty. . .”
Derek watched her walk away as he tried to catch his breath, and glancing at Meredith he dashed into the bathroom. When Meredith came in, he was at the sink, afraid to even breathe.
“You know you shouldn’t have been working today,” she said matter-of-factly.
“It’s just . . . I’m alright.” he mumbled.
“No you’re not.”
“I’m–oh great. . .” he broke off, leaning over the toilet as he retched, and he heard Meredith wince behind him even though he hadn’t vomited. He felt her hands on his back.
“Just breathe, okay? You’ll be alright,” Meredith said gently.
“I can’t breathe,” Derek choked out.
Meredith rubbed his back, a feeling that was oddly soothing to him. “Don’t try and talk, Derek. I’ll bring you home, alright?”
“Can’t . . . home . . . work. . .”
“No, no more work for you.” Meredith said sternly. “I’m bringing you home.”
“Grey, is that you I hear in there?” Dr. Bailey’s harsh voice called in. “Why, in the ****, are you in the men’s bathroom?”
Derek answered this for her by retching, and the door opened.
“Grey, you’re scheduled for a surgery with O’Malley,” Bailey said sharply. “Go. I’ll deal with Shephard.”
“It’s fine, Mer, I’m fine.” Derek said weakly. “I’ve just . . . migraine . . . I’m. . .”
“Are you sure?” Meredith asked suspiciously, but after a little cajoling, she left.
Dr. Bailey watched as Derek stood up and crossed to the sinks. “You really just have a migraine?”
“I’m fine, Dr. Bailey.” he said firmly.
“Fine. Sleep it off.”
She left, giving him a wary look, and he went back to his office. Stretching out on the couch, he put an arm over his eyes, blocking out the light that came from the window, and started to doze off. When he woke up, he would be fine. When he woke up, he would perform surgeries, save lives.