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[ there are no rules ]
by kHo

It´s been a week since Meredith almost drowned and Derek can finally breathe again. She´s tired and she´s spent about eighty percent of her time sleeping since getting out of the hospital but she´s her, and she´s okay now, and he´s spent every waking moment watching her breathe and never getting tired of it.

Tonight is girl´s night, though. Cristina and Izzie and Meredith and ice cream and cookies and probably some alcohol and Derek´s not allowed within fifty feet of her. Izzie threatened to bean him with her rolling pin if he did and he´s seen her wield that thing. He´s not risking it.

Mark is in his office going over a post-op and Derek looks at the diplomas sitting on the desk, hanging on the wall. Doesn´t matter what walls or desks they decorate, they´ll always remind him of Mark. Mark throwing popcorn at his head because Derek studied too much. Mark coming in drunk with a girl on both arms saying 'come on Derek, this is college, college is for fucking.' Mark rolling out of bed with a hangover so bad he can´t even walk straight and yet still acing the tests.

Just about anything, everything really, that Derek has that matters to him at all has at least five memories of Mark attached to it. Meredith used to be the only thing where that wasn´t true, but Mark spent six hours sitting next to him in the floor of a hallway waiting to hear if she was dead or alive and now that´s not true anymore.

He doesn´t know he´s going to do it until it´s already out of his mouth, Mark staring at him like maybe he´s gone insane. And hell, maybe he has. This has been one hell of a week afterall.

“A drink,’ Mark says, arching an eyebrow at him. “You want me to go get a drink with you.’

And just like that, Derek knows. He does. He really, really does. “Yeah.’

Mark just looks at him, leaning back against the doorway. “Me. With you.’

Derek laughs and he´s felt like he´s been walking on air for the past week because Meredith´s alive and everything is alright with the world and the look on Mark´s face is so priceless he wants to take a picture and frame it above his bed. “Yeah, Mark. Me, you, beer. Now.’

Mark´s mouth opens on another repetition of the same damn thing and Derek bursts out laughing and grabs his arm, pulling him along behind him and wondering how many beers it´s gonna take for Mark to get that this is real.

Apparently, it takes three.

“Okay. Rules,’ Mark says, downing the rest of his beer. “If we´re doing this, you have to tell me what the rules are.’

Derek shakes his head as he nurses his second beer. “There are no rules here, Mark.’

“No, there are rules,’ Mark says, pointing a finger at him. “You have to make rules, because I´ve been living here for half a year now waiting for the day to come that you´d ask me to have a beer with you and I´m not gonna fuck it up because I didn´t know one of the rules was don´t burp while eating.’

“Okay, well rule number one is that burping is absolutely allowed while eating. We´re men.’

Mark rolls his eyes. “Derek--’

Derek raises his eyebrows. “Okay then, fine. Rule number one. Don´t fuck my wife.’

Mark´s eyes widen and Derek laughs so hard he almost falls out of his chair. It´s entirely possible he really has gone insane.

“Sorry, sorry. Look, there aren´t any rules,’ Derek says, taking a deep breath and looking at him. “Just. Don´t fuck me over again, okay? Otherwise, we´re playing it by ear.’

Mark stares at him, studying him so hard Derek can feel it on his skin. “I just… there has to be a way I can make it up to you. There has to be something I can do to--’

Derek laughs. “I say jump and you say how high?’

Mark looks him right in the eye like he hasn´t since it happened and he nods. “Off the top of the hospital. It´s pretty tall, Derek. Is that high enough?’

“Tell you what,’ Derek says, leaning back in his chair. “How about you go out and you find someone you love and you marry her. And I´ll be your best man, and I´ll stand by your side when you marry her, and I´ll sing really badly and really off-tune at your wedding reception. And then, when you´re busy at the hospital working your ass off and your wife is feeling lonely and unappreciated I´ll come over and get drunk with her and fuck her in your bed on your favorite sheets.’ He raises an eyebrow, tilting his head. “I think that´ll be about even. We´ll be square then.’

Mark nods, not meeting Derek´s eyes anymore. “Right. So there´s nothing then.’

“There´s no even here, Mark,’ Derek says. “You don´t get to make it up to me. You don´t get to apologize a thousand and one times and have it disappear.’

Mark looks at the ceiling and shrugs his shoulders. “You´re the only family I´ve got, Derek. I miss you.’

“So do I,’ Derek says, and it´s the first time he´s said it. It´s the first time he´s said it out loud to anyone but himself.

Mark looks at him then and he looks so shocked that Derek almost laughs. “You do.’

Derek closes his eyes. “Mark. You were my brother. I love you. That doesn´t go away just because I also kind of hate you.’

Mark blinks and then looks away. “Kind of.’

“Yeah,’ Derek says. “Kind of.’

“But not all the way. Not want to see me dead hate. Not want me to jump off of the Empire State Building hate.’

Derek laughs. “Well the Empire State Building is in a whole other state, so that would be an awful lot of work just for kind of, wouldn´t it?’

Mark´s looking at him in this way that twists his chest up inside, this look of utter devastation, and Derek´s only seen Mark cry maybe four times in their thirty years of knowing each other and it almost looks like this might be number five. “Derek.’

“I don´t know, okay,’ Derek says, feeling sober, that dumb elation that´s had him walking on air and laughing at things that aren´t funny at all finally starting to even out. “I don´t know. I just. You were there for me. With Meredith, you were there for me.’

Mark looks away and gestures for the bartender to give him another beer. “You don´t owe me anything for that,’ he says quietly, not looking at him. “I didn´t do that to get you to forgive me. Meredith was… and you were… I didn´t do it for that.’

“I know,’ Derek says, staring at the side of his face. It´s amazing that you can actually miss someone´s profile. The forehead, the nose, the way his jaw clenches. He knows Mark´s face so well he can read his mind just by the way his profile looks. “It meant a lot.’

“So, what,’ Mark says, finally looking back at him, beer untouched in front of him. His fingers are wrapped tightly around it, knuckles white. “All is forgiven? It´s bygones?’

“Of course not,’ Derek says, leaning back in his chair. “All is not forgiven. I´ll probably never fully forgive you. The trust issues are piled up so high I can´t even see the top.’

Mark nods. “Yeah.’

“That doesn´t mean we can´t have a beer though,’ he says, popping a handful of peanuts in his mouth. “I don´t know where we go from here, but… I want to try.’

“I can do that,’ Mark says, looking down at the table.

“I mean, you know what I looked like with braces,’ Derek says, grinning again. “I can´t have you running around out there with that knowledge unchecked.’

Mark smiles for the first time that night and finally meets his eyes. “It was pretty atrocious.’

Derek nods. “I remember. There´s a reason I wasn´t there on picture day in seventh grade.’

Mark bites the corner of his lip and his grin widens. “Metal mouth.’

“Don´t start with me,’ Derek says, pointing at him. “I know stories about you too, ya know. Way more bribing material on my end then on yours.’

Mark holds up his hands. “No arguments from me there.’

Derek nods and leans forward, holding his beer out. “So no rules. We build from here.’

Mark clinks his beer against his and holds his gaze. “Deal.’

Derek grins and settles back down, quirking an eyebrow at him. “So. Callie Torres, huh?’

Mark scrubs a hand over his face. “Man, this hospital is the biggest rumor mill I´ve ever set foot in.’

“She´s married now, ya know,’ Derek says, smirking. “And you better watch out for George. I have it on good authority that he might be small but he´s a scrapper.’

“Oh my god, Derek,’ Mark says, that familiar condescending tone washing over Derek like an old warm blanket. “A scrapper? Who are you?’

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