DISCLAIMER: All characters, events, settings and situations mentioned in this work are sole property of their respective owners. As this work is an interpretation of the original material and not for profit, in constitutes fair use. Reference to real persons, places, or events are made in a fictional context and are not intended to be defamatory or factual in anyway.
SPOILERS: As far as this story is concerned Arizona does not exist. In fact it goes off into its own little world after s5e7.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: My special thanks to callicafan4eva for doing a great job beta reading.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To bellataggart[at]gmail.com
After All This Time
By Bella Taggart
3 Years Later...
Callie woke up with a hangover.
She had spent the better part of the evening wallowing in self-pity over the death of a 7-year-old patient that had been in her care for the past year. He was just a child; free of guilt and/or any possible wrong doing that might have warranted such a fate. It was days like these that made her doubt. Doubt her maker, doubt her profession, doubt herself. And on days like these she found solace in the bottom of a bottle. But the tequila had been unforgiving the night before, and now she had a piercing headache.
She crawled out of bed as silently as she could, so as not to disturb the sleeping figure under the covers, and went looking for her clothes on her hands and knees. One by one she gathered pieces of her discarded clothing in her arms and finally spotted her black lace panties rolled into a ball under the bed. It was too deep in and there was no way she would be able to reach it without some serious maneuvering of the furniture. Or rather, without waking up the occupant of the bed. She sat up on her knees and briefly considered her options. It wasn't worth it.
She rolled on her heels and pulled herself up to a standing position. After waiting for a moment for her vision to clear of the black spots the sudden move had brought on, she turned around and tip toed towards the door. She was almost in the clear when suddenly a throaty voice stopped her in her tracks.
"Running off Callie?"
Blowing out the breath she hadn't realized she had been holding, Callie turned around and smiled at the disheveled blonde head poking up from the heavy covers. "Hey,"
The woman looked up at her mockingly and said "Jane."
Callie took a quick step forward. "I knew that, Jane. Right, Jane Walker."
"Miller." The woman corrected amusedly.
"Right, Miller." Callie said, cursing herself.
"I see you're mixing your drinks in the day time as well." Jane said lying on her side and resting on her elbow.
"Hah." Callie laughed awkwardly, holding her clothes to her chest. At the questioning rise of a pair of eyebrows, Callie looked down at herself and whispered "I...I was gonna get dressed in the living room," She dropped her clothes onto the couch by the door, unmindful of the fact that she was now completely naked to the eye, and picked up her black bra, slowly re-arranging it and putting it on. "I didn't want to wake you."
Jane sat up, the covers falling low on her waist and revealing her own nakedness, and looked Callie up and down appreciatively. "I'm awake now." She breathed.
Callie looked up at the change of tone and the hunger lingering in Jane's eyes halted her buttoning of her shirt. Her gaze traveled across the blonde's chest and she involuntarily licked her suddenly dry lips.
Throwing away the duvet, Jane scooted to the foot of the bed, and sat on the edge just a few steps away from Callie. "Why don't you take that off and come over here?" she whispered, throatily.
Callie looked at the door and then back at Jane. "I really should get going. I'm gonna be late for my rounds." Her voice had sounded much more determined in her own head.
"I know, I know- but just, just come here" Jane said motioning with her head.
Callie took a hesitant step forward, checking her watch one more time, and shaking her head in near defeat.
"Come on, just for a minute," Jane held out her hand and spoke, her voice hoarse, seductive. "And then I'll let you go. I promise."
Callie smiled knowingly and took a few steps in surrender, finally coming to a stop in front of a sitting Jane.
Jane placed her arms around her waist and parting her own legs pulled Callie closer in between them. She rested her forehead between her breasts and started trailing her nails up and down Callie's bare thighs.
"I love that you're so comfortable in your skin." she whispered lightly, putting gentle kisses on Callie's skin over her shirt. "Many people would try to cover up" she traced her fingers up her stomach "the morning after. " Drawing little circles up her ribs, her nails danced up the sides of her breasts and down again to meet in the hallow between them. "But not you." She popped open a button and placed a kiss on the revealed flesh.
Callie inhaled slowly, watching the blonde hair move against her skin, she reached down and ran her fingers through it, scratching the other woman's scalp in the process. Jane continued her downward slope of freeing Callie of her shirt and finally had it fully open. "You stand there naked, gorgeous, looking good enough to eat" She traced her tongue across Callie's belly, drawing little circles with it and leaving a wet trail in her wake. "And you expect me to let you go without a proper goodbye." She lowered her head and dipped her tongue into her belly button, playing with it hungrily, while her hands finally stopped their teasing and firmly cupped her breasts through her lace bra.
Callie gasped as her hands tightened in Jane's hair in reflex, pulling her closer, and arched towards the other woman's touch, all the while knowing that her knees wouldn't be holding her up for much longer.
Jane, as though sensing this, lowered her hands and cupped Callie's ass, pulling her down to straddle her legs. Callie could feel desire pooling between her thighs, and from the way Jane growled at the first contact of her center against the blonde's stomach, so could Jane. "You're so hot." Jane breathed, kissing her way up to Callie's neck. Licking and sucking and biting, while her hand traveled up to grab a fistful of hair and pulled it back to reveal a greater slope of skin to devour.
Callie couldn't help but moan at the sudden move as she felt herself start an involuntary rhythm with her thighs. "Yeah, that's it beautiful," Jane whispered against her ear, licking and breathing warm air into the orifice. "I want you to ride me till you come." Her hands were back on Callie's ass, pulling her against her flesh in a rising pace.
"Oh God." Callie cried, holding onto Jane's shoulders as the taller woman took charge of her body and made it sing. "I'm gonna come." She croaked, her words escaping between moans and gasps. "I'm gonna...oh, fuck," she writhed and rocked harder and faster into the other woman.
"Let it go baby."
Jane unclasped Callie's bra in one flick of the wrist and took a newly freed breast into her mouth. "I want to feel you," she mumbled against the overflowing flesh between her lips.
"Let it go."
"Yess." Callie wheezed against the sensory overload. "Harder." she ordered from within her frenzy.
Jane moaned at the command and bit down on the nipple, making Callie scream.
"Fuuuckkk!" Callie cried as she felt her insides climb and charge higher and higher until finally they exploded in white-hot release.
She collapsed over Jane, bringing the other woman down with her to lie on the mattress. After taking a moment to catch her breath, she rolled off the woman and laid on her back, next to her. She matched the amused grin on the woman's face and caught her eyes. "I had a head-ache when I woke up." She mumbled.
"Oh?" Jane asked, her eyebrows lifting in worry.
"It's gone now." Callie whispered, smiling shyly.
Jane laughed, and held up a hand. She blew on her nails, and rubbed them on her chest in a polishing movement, smiling mischievously and looking proud.
Callie smacked Jane on her hand, giggling. Then humor left her face as her touch traveled off the other woman's fingers and came to rest on her chest. Her hand lingered first on the blonde's left breast, then after a moment of exploring, on her right. Jane took in a deep long breath and held it as Callie's fingers traveled lower. Just as her fingers were about to reach their destination, Jane covered them with her own and stilled their movement.
Callie looked up at her in confusion. But Jane simply smiled and shook her head. "Too sensitive."
Callie's eyes widened at that, comprehension starting to sink in. She pulled herself up onto her elbows. "But you didn't..."
"I did." Jane nodded. "When you did... You were so sexy, I couldn't help myself," she said, rolling on her side and resting her head on her hand.
"Wow." Callie said in awe. "You're easy."
Jane chuckled at that. "Like you didn't know that after, oh, I don't know, how many times did you get me off last night?"
Callie simply smiled and hummed in fond memory.
After a moment of lying there in silence, and looking at each other warmly through half closed lids, Callie finally motioned her head up towards the door and said "I'd better...you know."
Jane nodded in understanding. "Yep."
"I don't wanna be late."
Callie started crawling off the bed.
"Okay." Jane said pulling up to a sitting position herself.
After pulling on her black pants over her bare thighs and buckling up her belt, Callie reached for her bra for the second time that day and caught the slightly troubled look on Jane's face.
"What is it?" she asked softly.
Jane looked like she wanted to say something but shook her head instead.
"Tell me," Callie insisted, pulling on her shirt.
After a quiet moment of contemplation Jane quietly asked; "Should I believe what they say about you?"
"I don't know" Callie replied playfully, "I guess that depends on what they say about me-whoever they are."
"You know, that you are an amazing one night stand but that you shut off the moment it seems like things might get a little more serious."
The statement caught Callie off-guard and she felt herself stiffen, as the smile dropped off her face. "What are you talking about?"
"People, just, talk and you have quite the reputation of a heartbreaker, and..." Jane visibly squirmed uncomfortably on the bed and finally stood up. "Not that it's any of my business, but I think we had a great time, I mean, I did and I'd like-"
"Isn't it too early to be having such a serious conversation?" Callie interrupted, tying her hair up in a horsetail, her voice neutral of any emotion, one way or another.
"Yeah, I mean, you're right. I just meant-I want to prepare myself on what to expect." She rambled, as her face traveled from one shade of red to another. "Not that I expect anything." She quickly added at Callie's blank stare and looked away, walking to the far end of the room to stand in front of a mirror and a chair.
"I mean this is really coming out much more serious than I thought it was going to but, I just wanted to say that, IF you wanted to call me, you could." She finished looking down. Then she picked up the robe that was hanging on the back of the chair and put it on, tying its sash around herself and covering herself up from Callie's view.
In the face of the uncertainty, coming from a woman who was so confidant in bed only minutes before, Callie felt her normally firm resolve crack a little bit. She softened both her features and her tone and sighed "Hey?"
Jane turned around to face her hesitantly. Callie just smiled at her, her eyes warm, until the expression on Jane's face mirrored her own. "I'll see you around, okay?" She asked softly.
Jane took a few steps towards her and nodded in response. "Okay."
Callie took her hands in hers and pulled Jane to herself, kissing her gently on the lips. Then she picked up her bag and jacket from the couch, and walked towards the door. At the last minute, she turned around and looked over to the bed, then back at the woman standing in front of her and she winked. Jane's smile widened at Callie's once again light and playful demeanor and she raised her hand in a slight wave. Callie tipped her head up, grinned and walked out.
Lunch hour found Callie sitting in the cafeteria, stuffing her face with pizza and coffee, trying to pull back the reins of her wandering mind.
"That can't be healthy." Mark Sloan said far too loudly for her liking as he lowered his tray onto the table and pulled up a chair to sit next to her.
"It is." She said grumpily, taking another mouthful. "There is pineapple in it, that gives you fruit. Cheese is the protein, and I'm getting my carbs from the dough. Its all that my body needs, wrapped up in a slice of deliciousness." She took a sip of her coffee. "And with the hot beverage to wash it down, it's perfect."
"Hmm hmm, right, all I see is grease and caffeine." He said mockingly, lifting a forkful of green salad into his mouth.
"I need those too, if you want me to function at all today, you won't mess with my lunch." She said taking another bite.
"Rough night?" he asked slowly.
"Don't ask." She mumbled shaking her head, and wincing at the movement. Her headache had returned with a vengeance and it seemed like the painkillers she had popped into her mouth 20 minutes ago were taking a day off.
They ate in silence for a while until finally Sloan couldn't take Callie's huffing and puffing any longer.
"What's wrong?" he asked, lowering his fork to rest on his almost empty plate.
"Its nothing." Callie replied reflexively, and then met his eyes. Seeing his resolve, she quickly surrendered. "It's just, this girl I met."
"I should have known." He chuckled, picking his fork back up.
"No, it's not like that... she just said some things." Callie replied, her mind getting lost in Jane's words.
"What?" Sloan asked, cutting through her unnecessary babble and bringing a fleeting smile to her lips with his familiar directness.
"Apparently I have a reputation now." Callie said in a singsong voice.
At the rise of his eyebrows, she continued; "Yeah, similar much to the one you used to have... and it appears that, people talk."
"And nothing, I guess I didn't realize. I mean, I think I am the new McSteamy now. I don't know what I think about that."
"I'm McSteamy," Sloan stated firmly, finally finishing his food and sitting up in his chair, his height rising by a few inches as he straightened his back. "Find your own nick-name." he ordered. After a moment a smirk crossed his face, "You can be McSlutty."
"Hey!" Callie smacked him on the arm.
"That's what happens when you are a woman. I get called a stud, and you get called a slut. Aren't you gals always the ones saying that? Its an unfair world, get used to it." He said dryly.
She rolled her eyes and shook her head amusedly. "Seriously though, I guess I just didn't think about it. I mean, in a way it's kinda cool I guess, this image of 'unattainableness'." She listened to herself and questioned, "is that even a word?"
Mark waved his hand dismissively "I get what you mean" he said, looking at her expectantly, urging her to continue. Callie nodded "Right, but, it also made me sound so.." she took a deep breath, searching for a way to put it correctly and after a moment said, "so absent of feeling, you know? Like, like I was using these women."
"Cal, you go through women faster than you go through socks. If Lexie wouldn't kill me, I don't even know that I could keep up with you. Don't get me wrong, I think its great. I'm all about the girl on girl, with as much detail as you want to share. You know that, but it's been this way for a while now."
"And?" She asked seriously.
"And nothing. I'm just saying, you might wanna slow down if its starting to bother you." When she didn't say anything to contradict him, he continued. "Lets face it, this is not about what this chick thinks of you. There is only a problem here, if you agree with her."
"Right," Callie nodded after a moment. "You're right." She said, patting Mark on his back.
"Yes I am." Mark confirmed, taking a sip of his iced-tea.
"Anyway, she didn't come right out and say that. But, oh I don't know, maybe I just took it that way."
She thought about Jane, one minute panting beneath her and the next, so fragile, asking Callie to call her. "She was actually, nice. Different, but nice."
"Nice enough to see her again?" He asked, trying to keep the traces of hope out of his voice. Callie smiled at his question and shrugged. "I don't know, we'll see."
"What's her name anyway?" He asked, just as Christina flopped down next to them, with a half eaten doughnut in each hand.
"Whose name?" she asked through a mouthful of sugary goodness.
"Jane's." Callie answered.
"This chick Callie bagged last night." Sloan clarified.
"Mark!" Callie said loudly, chastising.
"What? It's true." He replied, feigning innocence.
Shaking her head, Callie repeated. "Jane Miller... You guys know her?"
"I don't think so." Sloan said, holding her eyes.
Christina shook her head as well and suddenly snapped her fingers. "Hey, when exactly is the Chief leaving?"
"He'll be out that door, as soon as his replacement is appointed." Callie said, as she grabbed Christina's left wrist, brought it close to her mouth and took a bite out of the jelly doughnut in her hand, smiling cheekily at her friend.
"Which should be any day now," Sloan added, "he gave his recommendation to the board yesterday. We should know who it is by tomorrow."
Christina picked up Callie's coffee and took a sip. "Who do you guys think is going to get it?"
"Derek." They both said at the same time, and grinned in amusement.
Callie picked up the chart sitting next to her plate, and scribbled something on it.
"What does she look like, this Jane?" Sloan asked, scratching his chin.
"Tall, blonde, blue eyes." Callie listed distractedly.
Sloan snorted at that. "Figures." he mumbled under his breath, too quietly for Callie to hear, but Christina caught it and snickered.
Callie looked up. "What?"
"Nothing... just saying that the board doesn't have to listen to the chief." Christina said. "They don't have to stick to Seattle Grace, when they're narrowing down the options."
"They wouldn't go looking anywhere else." Callie shook her head. At Christina's doubtful look, she continued. "Why should they? We've got a world-class neuro-surgeon that's been published a million times. Hell, he's even got his own method. There is no way they won't bank on that." Callie stated confidently, flipping a page of her chart, going back to her reading.
"I don't know. I heard that professionalism is going to be the deciding factor in who gets it and as professional as Derek may be, his 'favoritism' towards some people might get in his way this time." Christina said, taking another bite from her doughnut.
"No way. You think so?" Callie asked, looking up once again. Christina shrugged in response. Callie touched Sloan's arm and asked him what he thought about it.
"She might have a point." He said, cracking his fingers. "That time he saved Meredith's ass, he got an official warning." He added, as Christina nodded in agreement.
"That was ages ago." Callie replied. "They're not gonna check back that far." She added, though she sounded less sure. "And anyway, even if they do, and that's a big if, and it ends up costing him the job, which I highly doubt, there is always Bailey. If by some bad luck, he doesn't get it, Bailey definitely will." She finished, closing up the chart in her hand. "Right?" she asked Christina. When she didn't get a response, she turned to Sloan and repeated. "Right?"
"We'll see," he replied after a moment, getting up and bringing an end to the conversation. "I gotta go play with boobs. I'll see you ladies later."
Christina got up as well, "I'll walk with you." She said, and then facing Callie, she started walking backwards. "I'm right, you'll see I'm right," she said then turned around, caught up with Sloan and disappeared from view.
Callie slumped in her chair in displeasure. That was all that was missing from her life; A new chief to impress. Some pompous ass she would have to prove herself to.
If that was the case, at the very least she would have to make an effort and be polite while she learned the way he dealt with things. His way, because every surgeon had a way. She knew how Shepherd dealt with things, she knew how Miranda dealt with things. And she knew how to deal with them, her way. She really didn't feel like learning anybody else's way at the moment.
She took a deep breath and massaged her temples. Christina had to be wrong. Callie was just going to sit back, relax and wait for this headache to pass, not get worked up over unlikely scenarios. The chances were, one of her friends would get the promotion and all this worrying would prove to have been unnecessary. The chances were, Christina would be proven wrong.
There was only one problem with that; Christina Yang was never wrong.
A good nights sleep had been all that she needed. Callie had woken up feeling rested and refreshed, feeling hopeful, the way she always felt on sunny mornings of autumn days.
She had washed her hair, gotten dressed, actually cooked an egg and bacon breakfast and walked to work with a skip on her steps. After two very successful surgeries and a picnic on the gardens of the hospital with Mark, Callie felt so good that she feared her day could only go downhill from there. She was standing in the travel section of the neighborhood bookstore looking for possible destinations for Christmas when she was proven right.
Callie reached up to pick up a book on Amsterdam from a high shelf above her head. When she saw that she couldn't reach it on her toes, she found an upside down bucket used as a chair nearby, brought it over, and climbed on top. Just as her fingers grazed her book, the bucket gave way under her feet and she felt herself falling.
Trying to stop herself, she grabbed onto the closest thing she could find, which turned out to be an unstable shelf above. With the force of her touch, the shelf gave way as well, and books started raining on her head as she found herself on her ass trying to shield herself from the onslaught of volumes and volumes of destination guides. Paris hit her squarely on the shoulder and she shrieked in reflex.
When the attack of the books was over, she heard a worried voice behind her.
"Are you okay?"
The voice sounded vaguely familiar, but, too embarrassed to turn around, Callie just lifted up an arm and called out, "fine. I'm fine."
She was angry with herself more than anything. She had literally jinxed herself with her thoughts. Rubbing her shoulder she got up and started clearing up her mess. When she didn't hear the sound of a person moving away, she found herself turning around despite her initial resistance. Obviously, she was going to have to re-assure the woman that she was fine.
When she did turn around, and caught sight of the shell-shocked woman looking back at her, her eyes widened in shock, her breath hitched in her throat, and she gasped.
Callie took the two days off work after her run in with Erica. The encounter had disturbed her more than it should have after all this time, and after half a day of trying to convince herself that she was fine and trying to dodge the curious glances of her worried friends, she had given in and brilliantly come up with a fictional wedding she had to attend in New York.
Her father was spending his usual three months before New Years in the family penthouse in Manhattan. Spending time with him and getting pampered by Maria was going to be just what she needed to get back on her feet.
Maria had been with her family for longer than Callie could remember. Wherever her father went, she went with him, taking care of his every possible need, running the everyday managing of all the Torres households. She was irreplaceable and definitely a part of the family. More than 20 years spent together guaranteed that.
Ever since her mother's passing, Maria had become a sort of surrogate mother to Callie and a surrogate wife to her father (in more ways than one, she suspected), but that piece of information was neither volunteered nor asked about. The only resemblance of confirmation of that notion was buried in a fuzzy memory in her head. A memory of seeing her father one Christmas morning, through the snowy window of the winter garden, embracing Maria for a moment too long and of her brushing the hair off his forehead with her fingers, a far too familiar gesture that suggested a greater intimacy than either one ever let on.
Either way, Callie loved her to pieces. And that warm and fuzzy feeling she experienced each time she saw her was going to be essential in making her feel safe again, after seeing Erica. But with great shared affection for one another came great emotion. Callie often found her hard shell of resistance against the world's pressures cracking at one meeting of their eyes. Even in the worst of times, when on her own she could be strong as steel and not shed a tear, the moment she came face to face with Maria, she often found her lips trembling and her eyes filling up.
This time was no different. When Maria saw the unshed tears in her eyes, she gasped and pulled Callie into a fierce hug.
"Chiquita, what happened?" she asked, rubbing her back soothingly. But Callie wasn't able to tell her. She herself didn't know what exactly happened. She ran through the encounter in her head for probably the seventh time that day.
"Erica," Callie gasped at first sight of the blonde surgeon.
They looked at each other in shock for a long silent moment, and then, remembering themselves, both made a move towards each other in politeness. Erica went in for a kiss on the cheek, whereas Callie went in for a hug. Getting their signals crossed they almost found themselves locked in a lip lock. As it was, they ended up in an awkward hug/kiss combination (though the brief upper body contact could have hardly been called a hug and the brushing of their cheeks hadn't involved lips at all).
They both took a step back, as though burned from the contact, and uncomfortably stood around waiting, both for the other to say something.
"Um what-what are you doing here?" Callie asked finally, forcing herself to sound casual, and failing miserably.
"I meant Seattle."
Callie stood up straighter, trying to regain some kind of decorum.
"Right. Ahhm, work." Erica muttered, almost too quietly for Callie to hear.
"Right." Callie repeated, nodding exaggeratedly like those alarm clocks that hung on walls with stupid woodpeckers sitting on tree barks. Then she realized what she was doing and stopped moving her neck. She gave Erica a toothless smile and looked away, eyebrows knitting in self-loathing.
Another long moment of silence had Callie almost squirming.
The conversation was going nowhere. She was barely able to stand still, let alone remember any of the practiced sentences she had imagined saying to Erica in case she ever saw her again. In her daydreams, Callie had always come off looking extremely cool and elegant when the two of them met. But who had she been kidding, she wasn't cool or elegant. Their first contact in three years and the woman had seen her falling on her ass. She felt like she was in high school all over again, sitting in the back of the class, eating her hair.
And Erica wasn't saying anything to help smooth things. In fact she wasn't saying anything at all. Judging from her monosyllabic answers, Callie realized, she probably didn't even want to speak to her. Callie didn't know why she herself was making an effort at conversation, when she herself felt many different flavors of emotion passing through her stomach. Anger was definitely one of them, longing was another. Thinking that perhaps these feelings were best left buried and that perhaps it was time for her to go, she took a step to the side when Erica's voice stopped her.
"How have you been?" Erica asked softly.
"Great- good, you know, normal." Callie answered in haste, tripping over her own words. "You?"
Then, the inescapable silence took over once again. Frankly Callie was having enough of long silences being divided by small sentences.
"Congratulations." She blurted, saying the first thing that came to mind.
"Your method. I heard you have your own method now..."
"I would have called but-you know " Callie said uncomfortably, smiling sadly. Somehow finding herself exactly where she didn't want to be in the conversation.
"I know." Erica said, her tone matching her own.
"It's pretty cool actually, two people I've worked with have invented their own methods, have gone down in history." Callie said, words coming out of her mouth without conscience thought. All she knew was that she had to fill the silence somehow.
Defining Erica as someone she simply worked with had squeezed her heart, but it was probably safer than calling her anything else.
"The Shepherd Method, The Hahn Method I gotta get me one of those." Her mouth continued. "You wanna tell me the secret?"
"Well, I have tried keeping busy, since the last time I saw you." Erica said, her voice heavy with emotion, surprising Callie by mentioning the day she had walked away from her. "Work is good, keeps your mind off things " she continued, looking at Callie searchingly, her whole demeanor screaming of her need to open that subject of conversation.
Callie might not have known much about Erica anymore, but she could still tell when she wanted to talk about something, and Erica definitely wanted to talk about that day.
Perhaps she needed some kind of closure, perhaps she wanted to apologize; or maybe the opposite, maybe she wanted to push a finger into an old scar just to hurt Callie. It was possible, Erica was a stranger now anything was possible.
Callie didn't know exactly what Erica wanted to achieve, as she stood there staring at her, but she did know that she wasn't going to give it to her.
When Callie broke eye contact and looked away, her eyebrows knitting together in annoyance, Erica finally changed course. After another moment of silence and a deep breath, she took a lighter tone and said, "You know me, I'm a workaholic."
"I guess some things never change." Erica said, pretending like she hadn't tried prying open what she had almost pried open. But Callie wasn't going to let her get away with it so easily.
"Some things do." She said slowly, looking into Erica's eyes, her own eyes cold.
Something that looked like hurt flashed through Erica's face, and Callie felt herself flinch at the sight of it. But she wasn't going to feel sorry for Erica, she deserved whatever minuscule heart ache Callie's dismissal caused her.
"I know," Erica whispered weakly, sounding resigned, and Callie felt her sudden anger drizzling away.
She hated that when it came to Erica, her emotions ran wild in all directions, changing course without a moment's notice, like living in a constant state of over heightened PMS.
She was about to say something to soften her previous words when Erica abruptly spoke. "Well, I'd better go."
"Oh Okay," Callie said quietly, feeling better that she hadn't said anything after all.
Then, after another moment, Erica was turning and walking away. Just like that. As quickly as she walked back into her life, she walked out of it, again. And once again she hadn't even granted Callie a proper goodbye. Just left her hanging there, unable to move for long painful minutes.
The whole thing had gone horribly wrong and had been utterly unsatisfying. And to make matters worse, Erica had looked good; perfectly put together, perfectly dressed, and perfectly quaffed. Just perfect. The only difference Callie could see had been her hair. It was longer now, and more golden; shinier even. Life wasn't fair; she was supposed to look ugly. Out of shape and unkempt and even sporting a hunchback perhaps.
"What are you feeling mija? Tell me," Maria said and Callie was pulled out of her thoughts and back into the older woman's arms.
She considered how to answer that. Yes, she felt frustrated, and yes, somewhere deep inside something hurt, but words to pinpoint her exact feelings were absent in her vocabulary. So she simply shook her head in the woman's embrace, her mouth muffled against her shoulder, and mumbled, her voice breaking even in the single word.
After two days of R & R, and pounds and pounds of Maria's magical wet chocolate cake, she was back in town and ready to move on once again. Though if her reaction to seeing Erica for less then 3 minutes was any indication, she obviously hadn't exactly moved on the first time around.
She wasn't going to think about that. Tomorrow, she was going to go to work and break some bones, and she was going to be fine, even if it killed her.
But tonight she was going to go out and clear her head, the only way she knew how.
She left her house wearing a pair of jeans, a low cut white wife beater and a black leather jacket. She was probably going to get cold but at least she looked good.
There was a group of people standing around, smoking by the entrance of the bar. One of them, an attractive strawberry blonde with a petite face watched her as she came closer. On her way in, Callie brushed close by her on purpose, with a whispered "Excuse me." dropping from her lips. The woman smiled at her in response and took a step back, giving her the way.
This was going to be too easy.
After a few drinks she spotted the same woman once again, standing across the bar, straight in her eyesight. She kept on taking turns talking with her friends, drinking, laughing, and looking at Callie.
Each time Callie looked back, she looked away, turning this into a game of catch. Callie was good at games but she was even better at breaking the rules so instead of averting her eyes, she kept on staring and caught the woman's eyes in hers the next time she looked Callie's way. Having been caught at her own game, the woman blushed and smiled shyly at her. That was all the motivation Callie needed.
As the song changed into a salsa, Callie downed her third shot and made her way towards the strawberry blonde. The woman straightened in her chair, watching her each step of the way.
Callie stood in front of her, took the pink drink out of her hand, placed it on the surface behind, leaned close to her ear and whispered, "Let's dance."
The woman nodded and stood up, trailing Callie as she took her hand and lead the way to the dance floor.
The floor was filled with sweaty bodies; Man dancing with women, men dancing with men, women dancing with women, there were all kinds of pairings moving to the beat. They made their way into the middle and joined in. As the beat picked up, the smaller woman's face took on a doubtful expression. "I don't know how to dance to this." She said embarrassedly.
The woman raised herself up on her toes, bringing herself close into Callie and spoke right into her ear. "I don't know the steps."
"It'll be okay, just follow my lead." She said, taking her into her arms.
The woman smiled up at her and relaxed a little bit in her arms. Pretty soon they were having a great time. Turning and spinning and laughing along with every step. Callie was a good dancer. It was in her blood, her father had always said so.
After a few more songs, as they became more comfortable with each other, they started getting bolder and bolder, moving all over the floor. During a more risqué move, which involved a twist and a dip, the woman lost her footing and was almost falling when Callie pulled her up into her arms, and held her tightly against her chest.
"I've got you." She whispered, enjoying the proximity of their bodies. After that, even though the music picked up, they remained close, just moving slowly while their hands explored each other. Finally Callie put her hands through the woman's back pockets and rested them there.
"Do you wanna go somewhere and talk?" She asked, licking her lips.
The woman nodded. "Can we go smoke?"
They stood outside by the entrance, just the two of them, as the woman pulled out a pack of cigarettes from her jacket.
"You want one?"
Callie shook her head and stood there watching the woman light up, finally getting the chance to properly study her, under the bright street light. Her strawberry blonde hair was cut short and brushed to the side, her blue eyes were framed by dark black makeup. She was wearing a beaded tank top under her jacket and black leather pants on top of giant heeled boots. As it was she was nearly a head shorter than her and Callie wondered how big of a height difference there would be between them if she were to take off those boots. She wasn't exactly her type, Callie decided, but she was attractive and she would do for tonight.
"So," the woman said, breathing out a grey cloud of smoke. "What do you wanna talk about?"
Callie took a step forward into the other woman's space. "I lied," she whispered, taking the dangling cigarette out of the woman's lips and bringing the tip to her own. She inhaled once and threw the cigarette away with one flick of her fingers. Bringing her hand up, she cupped the woman's face and caressed her lips with her thumb. "I don't wanna talk." She breathed and, seeing the reflected want in the woman's eyes, bowed her head and took her lips in her own.
She tasted of cigarettes and alcohol, a combination that always reminded Callie of uncomplicated sex. Soon the kiss grew hungry, and their hands started roaming. They were already grinding into each other, when the door opened and a few drunken patrons walked out, looking at them and chuckling amongst themselves.
"Come with me," Callie ordered hoarsely, taking the woman's hand and leading them to the dark ally behind the building of the bar. She pushed the woman into the wall, kissing her lips greedily and then along her neck as the woman welcomed Callie's thigh between her parted legs. The woman instinctively started a rocking motion against Callie, moaning and gasping, as Callie cupped her breasts and started kneading them earnestly.
When Callie's fingers came down to the button of the woman's trousers, she halted her hand and looked deeply into the woman's half closed eyes. "Let me." She whispered huskily. The woman, breathless now, could only nod and gasp. "Yes."
Then Callie was unzipping her pants and slipping her fingers into the woman's center. Rubbing back and forth, as the woman held onto her shoulders, cried out in strangled release and buckled against her fingers only moments later.
Callie pulled out of her gently after a long moment and held her in her arms, giving her the time to recover.
"Wow" the woman gasped, catching her breath, "That was something."
Callie simply smiled at her and, brushing the woman's hair off her face with her fingers, gently asked, "You okay?"
"Better than Okay." The woman replied, smirking. "Give me a minute and I'm gonna get to you." She said taking hold of Callie's hand.
Callie brought the woman's hand to her lips. "I'm good, I'm great" she assured, taking a step back, not leaving any room for negotiation.
"Seriously" She confirmed, smiling. Tonight she was in control and she wanted to enjoy that more than she wanted to enjoy an orgasm. "Thanks for this. I had a great time."
"I think I should be thanking you." the woman replied, matching Callie's smile.
"Come on" Callie chuckled, "I'll walk you inside."
The woman smirked and shook her head disbelievingly. Then she pushed up off the wall, straightened her clothes and came to stand next to her.
"Do you think your friends are still in there?" Callie asked as they started walking.
"What do you mean by still, they are just getting started."
They came to a stop in front of the bar.
"I can drop you off somewhere else if you want." Callie offered, halting her hand on the doors handle.
"Nah, I'll go in, thanks." She replied, taking a step forward.
Callie pulled open the door, leaned in and kissed the woman on her cheek. "I'll see you around then."
The woman nodded, and rested her back on the open door, as Callie started walking away.
"Hey!" The woman called behind her back.
She stopped and turned around.
"I don't even know your name," the woman yelled.
"Callie." She yelled back.
"Nice to meet you Jessica."
The next morning, found Callie waking up and taking a long hot shower. Too long a shower, she realized looking at her watch, that made her late despite her having woken up 15 minutes early.
She stepped out of her house and in less than a minute walked into the lobby of the hospital, living across the street from work had its advantages. The view inside quickly halted her steps.
The hall was filled with hundreds of people; Doctors, nurses, health care professionals, even people from the cleaning crew were standing close together, looking up at the chief, who was standing on the stairs, making a speech of some kind.
" some new, some old, each and every one of you have touched my life for the better "
She hadn't realized that the chief's goodbye speech was going to be today. Cursing herself, she looked around, trying to spot some friends but the task seemed nearly impossible. All she could see were the indistinguishable backs of a bunch of tightly huddled heads.
" For more than 35 years, Seattle Grace Hospital has been my home "
She took a step to the right, and then two to the left, trying to squish her way into the crowd, without pulling too much attention onto herself.
" the time has come that I leave this sacred place and go be with my family "
She spotted Christina by the gift store and started moving towards her.
"we have seen greatness even in the worst of times, greatness has walked these halls "
When she came to a stop next to her, Christina gasped in surprise, her eyes widening in what seemed like worry, and moved close to her. "Callie, where have you been?" She whispered quickly. "I tried to call you a million times." She looked around nervously. "Left you like ten messages."
"My phone was switched off. I told you I was going to my parents, wrote you an email before I left, didn't you get it?" she asked quietly, covering her mouth with her hand not to be seen talking. "You are not going to believe who I saw the other day" she said under her breath, looking up at the chief who kept on speaking.
" I thank you for all that you have given me." He was saying, his eyes misty.
"Callie, listen to me, I have to tell you something." Christina rushed, but Callie kept on talking. "Guess. Just guess."
"Callie" Christina tried once again. But Callie wasn't listening, "You'll never guess."
"Most of you know her through her many publications, through her invaluable contributions to her field. Some of you have met her and some have even had the chance to work with her "
"Cal!" Christina cried a little too loudly and a few heads turned towards them in annoyance. Finally feeling self conscious, Callie took a step to the side and whispered, "Sshh, we'll talk later."
" she is the most principled surgeon I know and we are lucky to have her. I am sure that you will welcome her in the manner that she deserves "
Christina took hold of her arm and tried to reclaim her attention. "Callie, listen! You need to listen to me." She hissed but Callie wasn't listening to her anymore, she was listening to the chief. Her brows knitted in concentration, she moved forward to hear better and spotted a patch of blonde hair partially hidden by a column.
" I leave you in good hands. It is with great pleasure that I introduce, the recipient of countless awards, the creator of the acclaimed Hahn Method, a world-class cardiothoracic surgeon and"
Callie gasped, and as understanding started sinking in, felt the blood draining from her face. She could feel her hands grow cold as well and for a fleeting second wondered where all her blood was going. Perhaps it was leaving her body through her toes, along with her capability of speech, movement and rational thought. She just stood there, her eyes following the woman's movements on their own accord. Trembling she felt her knees go weak as the tall, blonde, blue eyed woman took the stage next to the chief, who announced loudly;
"Your next chief of surgery, Dr. Erica Hahn."
Erica took the stand and shook Richard's hand.
"Thank you Richard."
After he moved away, leaving her alone in the center of everyone's attention, she turned towards the crowd, took a deep breath and standing still, slowly looked around. There was absolute silence in the room, the gatherers waiting expectantly to hear what the new chief of surgery had to say. This was after all the first time most of them were meeting Erica Hahn, and this initial meet would be where they formed their first opinions of her. As though she knew this, she stood still, almost allowing people to fully take her in, as she took them in, in return.
She was wearing a burgundy shirt under her white doctors' coat. Her hair was tied back in a ponytail. Single diamond studs adorned each ear. Her subtle makeup brought color to her cheeks and accentuated her strong eyes, without being overwhelming by any stretch of the word. She looked classy; she looked sharp.
She looked around making eye contact with curious eyes, and after what seemed like an entirely too long moment of silence Erica started speaking.
"I'll make this short. When I left here 3 years ago, Seattle Grace ranked as the 12th teaching hospital in the nation. Today, I see that many things have changed in my absence," she said. Callie felt her breath hitch as Erica's eyes came to rest on hers. After a moment she continued, "You have moved forward in your quest to better yourselves and as a result have bettered the lives of others. I know that you have worked very hard, and it has paid off."
She spoke briskly, clearly and confidently. Her words were to the point as expected. She wasn't going to waste anyone's time today, especially not hers.
"Today, Seattle Grace has a respectable ranking of being the 5th best teaching hospital in the nation. You have been re-instated to a number 1 trauma center which means that you are able to treat thousands of more lives now than you would have been able to 3 years ago.
Richard is right, you have achieved greatness." She looked back at Richard and smiled at him in salute.
"Even though we might have had our differences in the past, we have always shared a common goal: our commitment to making Seattle Grace the best teaching hospital in the nation, and our commitment to providing the best possible patient care. This will never change and I promise you that everything I do from this day forward will be to serve that purpose.
I thank you Richard for all that you have given this hospital. Through your guidance this hospital has, as they say, swam and swam and come to the last lap."
She paused once again allowing the crowd to applaud in appreciation of the retiring chief. Richard tipped his head in acknowledgement, looking proud. When they stopped, she turned once again towards the crowd.
"But there is more to do. There is always more to do.
Medicine is a profession that requires. You are required to use your knowledge, I will ask you to build on it. You are required to search; I will ask you to find. You are required to be strong; I will ask you to be stern.
You are required to work hard; I will ask you to work harder. You are required to be your best, know this; I will ask you for more.
If you cannot deliver, you do not belong here.
But I believe that you can. And that you will. That is why I came back.
We will be all that, and more and I promise you, together we will swim this last lap and claim our rightful place on the top of that list, but more importantly, we will change the face of medicine. Thank you."
The crowd started clapping, hesitantly at first, no one missing the not so subtle warning in her words, than more freely, joyously as the rest of her words registered. She was going to lead them to victory. Soon the combined sound of clapping snowballed into one of a fiercely turning propeller's.
Richard got up and shook Erica's hand once again, Derek was also there, nodding along and congratulating her. The energy vibrating in the room could be felt all the way in the back where Callie stood. People applauded and they didn't seem to be slowing down any time soon. Finally, Erica held up a hand and silenced the crowd once again.
"We are in the business of making miracles happen, miracles take work. So let's get to it, shall we?"
It was pretty cliché, but it served its purpose and people started moving with a glow across their faces.
"What the fuck just happened?" Callie gasped, as the crowd started breaking up.
"I tried to tell you." Christina said shaking her head in worry. "Are you okay?"
"I need to sit down."
"Come on, let's get some air." She led her by the arm towards the exit. They passed through the revolving doors and came to a stop in front of Erica's bench.
Great, Callie was already back to referring to places according to their association with Erica. It had taken her over a year to stop doing that. A year until Erica's locker was no longer her locker, until the table they always had lunch together was no longer her table. A year until this damn bench where she had first kissed Erica was no longer Erica's bench.
She was back for less than 30 minutes and already she was reclaiming her spots in Callie's mind. This was not good. Callie shook her head in frustration.
"Sit down" Christina ordered.
Callie flopped down next to her, her mouth open, her eyes still wide in disbelief.
"Are you okay?"
"Who fucking does that?" she mumbled, still shaking her head. "I saw her a few days ago, but she never said "
"That's what I was telling you. She told me she was here for work but not this, nothing like this."
"That's why you left for New York."
Christina's words were more a statement than a question. Callie nodded all the same. Turning to look at Christina directly in the eyes, she asked, "I mean, what the fuck is she doing here?"
"I don't know."
"Of all the places in the country fuck, fuck, fuck" Callie repeated as a mantra under her breath, her hand tapping an out of control beat on the bench, until Christina reached over and held her wrist, stilling her. "This is why you should never switch off your phone." She said, after a moment, trying to lighten the mood.
"Humph now I know."
Callie lifted the corners of her mouth into a pitiful smile, and squeezed her friend's hand in thanks.
They sat in silence for a minute or so, Christina allowing her to regroup, until finally Callie stood up and started pacing. "Seriously though, what is she doing here?"
Christina shrugged, shaking her head "It's crazy, you're right."
"When did you find out?"
"Yesterday. Bailey told Derek, Derek told Mark, and he told me. I...I called you."
"I know, I know why do you think she's back? There must have been other job offers, she could have gone anywhere."
Christina stood up to stand next to her. "You can talk to her and find out."
"I'm not speaking to her!" Callie cried, shaking her head vehemently. "Forget it, as far as I'm concerned we don't ever have to talk again."
"Well, you're gonna have to talk at some point."
"Yes, for work, but other than that, there is no reason we have to speak." She started walking back towards the building, with Christina on her tail. After only a few steps she stopped and faced her friend, her brows knitted in frustration. "I did that once and see where that got me."
She was speaking fast, her voice barely controlled in a whisper, her hands up in the air emphasizing her points.
"I was polite, friendly even and she couldn't tell me she was gonna be my boss? She obviously didn't think I was important enough to tell. She obviously doesn't think we have anything left to talk about. And you know what? I agree with her. We don't have anything to talk about. We can just go ahead and be colleagues. She can direct her little hospital; I will break my bones, and we will be fine. I'll be fine. In fact, I'm already fine. I mean, let's not exaggerate the situation here. This is someone I thought I cared about for about 2 minutes a long, long time ago; this is not the end of the world. So, screw her. Right? Screw her. I'm fine. I'm great."
She finished, crossing her arms in front of her, breathing heavily through her nose. Her chin locked as she looked up and down the exterior of the hospital building.
After a moment, Christina flatly asked. "Feel better?"
Callie looked back at her friend and smiled, relaxing her muscles. She opened her mouth and took in a deep breath.
"Ready to go back in?"
"Sure," she nodded as they started walking back.
After the 30 feet it took them to pass the doors and enter the building, they walked across the lobby and came to stop in front of the elevators. Christina pressed the up button and they waited silently.
The lobby was back to its normal state now, with the 2 security guards back behind their desk and the few faces lingering in the gift shop. Callie and Christina were the last ones of the crowd that had gathered, the rest were already seemingly back at work.
When, after long minutes, the elevator finally beeped and opened its doors, only 2 other people joined them in the cabin. A general surgeon named Charles and a woman that worked in administration, whose name Callie couldn't remember.
"Hey Torres," He greeted as he and his companion walked in to stand behind her in the cabin.
Callie and Christina stood in the front, both looking up at the numbers as they moved up on the panel above the doors, pretending to give the other two a false sense of privacy, as they spoke amongst themselves.
They were talking about Erica, how she was an excellent surgeon, and how he would give an arm to see her in action. Callie took a deep breath at that, rolling her eyes.
People were going to have to be on their toes from now on cause Dr. Hahn didn't seem like the tolerant kind, the woman said, and something else under her breath, which Callie couldn't hear, but which made him chuckle in response.
Callie realized she would have to get used to this. People would likely be talking about her ex for days to come, at the very least. She would have to get used to a lot of things she wasn't going to like, she suspected.
After the others left and they were alone and only a few floors away from Callie's destination, Christina tipped her head towards Callie and whispered.
"You don't believe that"
"The two minute thing, about Erica."
Callie let out a long breath, looked down at her feet and back up, straight ahead as the doors opened. She walked out and right before they closed back, she turned back towards her friend in the cabin and smiling sadly, whispered.
"Give me time"
Callie took the steps two at a time, holding her bag up over her head in an effort to keep dry, and came to a stop in the entrance of Mark's apartment building. She rang the bell, balanced her bag in her arms and took out the wine bottle she had stashed in there.
"Who is it?"
Mark's scratchy voice came over the intercom.
"Who do you think it is? Let me in, I'm cold."
When after a moment the door didn't open, and Callie could still hear static coming from the intercom, she realized that Mark was making her wait on purpose and listening on the other end.
"Funny Sloan." She grumbled, and rolling her eyes added in a softer tone, "Let me in, please."
And the door clicked open.
She readied herself and started walking up the stairs. By the time she got to the fourth floor, she was anything but cold, and she was complaining to herself.
Mark was waiting for her by the open door.
"You have got to move. Seriously, who doesn't have an elevator any more? I don't know how you manage it." She walked up to him, trying to catch her breath and kissed his cheek.
"So you keep telling me." Mark said dryly, holding the door open and letting Callie pass. He took the wine she was holding out and thanked her softly, following her into the living room.
"Babe, Callie is here!" He shouted towards the kitchen.
"You don't have to scream, I'm right here" Lexie said softly, having suddenly appeared in the corridor.
"Oh sorry, Callie is here" he said, much softer this time. She walked across the room towards Callie, "I see that." She said, brushing her fingers down Mark's back as she passed him and came to stop in front of Callie, "Hey pretty lady, I'm glad you could make it." She took Callie's jacket and gave both her cheeks a kiss.
"Me too. Thanks for the invite."
"Like you need an invite." Lexie chastised.
Spotting the bottle in Mark's hand, she shook her head. "Callie, you really didn't have to."
"I know, I know, I wanted to."
"Okay, thank you, now sit, relax. I'm just gonna finish up in the kitchen and the food will be ready in about five minutes." She said walking back towards the kitchen.
"Do you need any help?" Callie asked in politeness.
"Nah, it's all done...Mark, sweaty, have you asked Callie what she wanted to drink?"
"I was just about to." He replied, pecking her on the lips as she walked by him. "So what's it gonna be Cal? Should I just pop this open or do you want something stronger?"
"Wine's fine." She said flopping down on the leather couch.
Dinner went smoothly, as smoothly as it could have under the circumstances.
Her mood, obviously feeling like having a whole-day workout; climbing high one minute and then dropping low the next, jumping through hoops and at times even hanging on single handedly, had left her exhausted by the evening. And regardless of her wish to pretend like all was right in her world, her short, clipped answers in the face of her friends' attempts at conversation gave her away.
As it happened, opening the second bottle was a cure for that. Pretty soon she couldn't stop talking, her tongue loosening at last, slurred every which way. And despite all her efforts to the contrary, conversation kept on coming back to Erica. By her hand, at that.
"And since when can she teach? Just because she is a top-notch surgeon doesn't mean she can teach. This is a teaching hospital for Christ's sake. Do we all not remember how she used to treat Christina?" she whined, taking a large sip of her wine.
"Yang did suffer a bit in her hands. That is true." Sloan conceded, sounding fuzzy himself.
"A bit? More like a lot. She used to beg me just to get her some OR time with her."
They were sitting by, or rather half lying on, the dinner table, having cleared it of the dishes hours before. Callie and Sloan were already drunk as a skunk; Lexie was at least trying to maintain a level of sobriety.
"And I suffered in Yang's hands, that just makes you want to be better."
"You say that now Lex, but who was the dumb ass operating on her friends so that she could learn?"
"That was my wife, my one and only" Sloan mumbled, pulling Lexie into his arms. "Baby, you were so young and innocent, remember?"
Lexie shook her head in amusement, letting him kiss her neck. "I remember and fine, you have a point there but "
"No buts," Callie interrupted, "She is the devil. She is very dangerous Lexie, you must be careful. She will get under your skin," She was swaying on the table, moving her hands demonstratively.
"She'll say she doesn't like people and you'll say you don't like people either and you'll bond over your dislike for people together and even though you really don't like people, you'll like her and before you know it you'll think she's awesome and cool and funny and smart, so damn smart and even though you might not realize it at first, pretty soon you'll think that she's the most beautiful thing you've ever seen and "
"Was there a point, Cal?" Sloan asked dryly.
"Right, sorry where was I?" she asked, pouring herself another glass.
"She was beautiful." Lexie reminded.
"She was, wasn't she?" Callie asked dreamily, resting her chin on the bottle.
"No, you were saying that she would be the most beautiful thing-"
"Right, right. Yes, and um, you'll think that everything is great, but than right when you're not expecting it, she'll strike. And she'll hurt you and, and umm she's the devil, I'm telling you. Lucifer incarnate. In fact I'm gonna call her Lucy from now on, short for Lucifer."
"I think I'm gonna cut you off." Lexie said, taking the bottle away from Callie.
"No seriously, it fits perfectly; we should all call her Lucy. Chief Lucy. Lucyhief."
Sloan was chuckling, "I'm game."
"Nice." Lexie added, taking a sip of her wine, rolling her eyes.
"And why is she coming back to Seattle? Wasn't she some rock star in New York?" Sloan asked.
"Mark!" Lexie groaned disapprovingly.
"Exactly, that's what I said, Seattle is mine."
"I admit I don't know her like you guys do but she might not be that bad you guys. I spoke to her today and she was actually kind of nice."
"Lexie!" Callie exclaimed, exasperated.
"Bitch. She's a bitch, sorry."
"You wanted to see me?" Callie poked her head in through the crack of Erica's office door.
After 2 days of playing hide and seek within the hospital halls, Callie was no longer allowed to delay her inevitable face off with Erica, when as the chief of surgery, she called her in to a meeting. She had been holding private meetings with most of the surgeons one at a time, and it seemed, despite all her wishing to the contrary, her time had come.
"Come on in Callie."
She was sitting behind Richard's old desk, looking like she already owned her environment. Callie felt a pang of anger flair at that as she walked further into the room.
Erica was already making major changes in the hospital, starting by bringing in 3 of her various colleagues from across the nation with her, and even though no one could argue that they were great technical additions to the hospital, people were starting to get worried about loosing their jobs. After all, everyone agreed that cuts would have to be made in order to afford those new additions.
"Please sit down."
She sat down as she was told and waited.
"Thanks for coming."
Erica looked at Callie expecting her to say something in return, when she didn't she cleared her throat and looking down at her table, continued.
"Um I wanted to talk to you, as you know I've been meeting with all the attendings, and some changes are going to be happening in the near future that's going to have a real impact on the way we do things around-"
"Are you going to fire me?"
Erica's head shot up, her eyes going wide as they met Callie.
"What? No! Why would you ask that?"
Callie crossed her arms in front of her," Well, you've brought in Dr. Bradley, Phillips and Connor. Obviously, people see that budget cuts are inevitable and I'm one of those people."
Callie nodded, her face straight and cold.
"This, despite the fact that no one has been fired yet." Erica said slowly.
"Yet." She repeated, as though Erica was making her point for her.
Erica looked at her for a long moment, studying her, "And you thought, that I would fire you?
Callie could tell that she was offended. Though why, she couldn't understand. What was she supposed to think or expect from Erica. Erica who wouldn't have even told her she was back, had she not bumped into her accidentally.
"Why not? They are right, aren't they? There will have to be budget cuts?"
Erica straightened in her chair as her jaw went rigid for a moment and than settled back to its relaxed state.
After a moment, she nodded. "Yes there have been additions to the staff, and yes there will be budget cuts Not that it's anyone's business but at the moment those cuts are being made in spending, mostly in advertising I would rather have more good doctors and fewer commercials than the other way around."
She leaned back on her seat, looking at Callie, her annoyance clearly visible in her narrowed eyes. Then she took a deep breath and the traces of the feeling vanished once again from her face. "For your information, if I do decide to fire someone, their incompetence will be the deciding factor not the hospital's budgetary needs."
When Callie remained silent, she grunted, shaking her head, "I guess it was silly of me to think that people would have a little more faith..."
"Oh, don't even"
"You don't seriously expect me to-"
"What? Expect you to what?"
"Nothing. Forget it."
"Tell me what you were going to say Callie." She insisted.
But Callie wouldn't. She swallowed, locking her chin in place. Looking at Erica as neutrally as she could manage, she waited. They weren't going to argue, or debate. Hell, they weren't even supposed to be speaking, she reminded herself.
Erica knitted her eyebrows, looked down and then back up again.
"Listen Callie, I think we need to talk I know that my coming here, this way, was a surprise-"
"Is that what that was?" she shot back, before she was able to stop herself.
"I I know that it might be difficult or at the very least umm awkward to have me here "
Callie's stomach churned as she listened. Erica was clearly getting ready to give her a list of excuses. She didn't want to hear it. Any of it.
"I am sorry that you-"
Callie held up a hand and stopped her, standing up and scrunching up her face.
Erica looked up at her questioningly, confusedly.
"Erica, you're probably right, we probably should talk."
Erica nodded, but Callie held up a finger, indicating that she wasn't finished. "But I don't want to, and I am not going to."
"No-I think, we can have a respectable, professional working relationship but it's obvious that we are not really good at the personal stuff." She shook her head in irritation. "So from now on if you could be Dr. Hahn and I could be Dr. Torres, we could get along much better. I think so, don't you think? I do."
Erica was the one to remain silent this time. Looking at her, her lips drawn into a thin line.
Callie walked backwards towards the door as she continued speaking. "So, if there is something you want to tell me about work, tell me, if not, let's not do this. Let's just just let me go back to work. Okay?"
Some color had drained off Erica's face. It had to be the held back anger, but there was nothing Callie could do about that. She had told her what she needed to tell her and how Erica dealt with that was not her problem.
Erica cleared her throat, blinked once and very calmly said, "All right, go back to work, Dr. Torres."
"What do we have?" Christina asked, walking outside to join Callie in the cold, as she waited for the ambulance to arrive.
"Twenty-six year old female with multiple stab wounds to the chest, should be here any minute." Callie replied, shifting from foot to foot in an effort to keep warm.
Callie chuckled, "You're bad."
"Like you weren't thinking the same thing."
It was a cold day, even for November and it didn't seem to be warming up despite the time approaching two o'clock in the afternoon. The warmest hour of the day my ass, she thought as she breathed warm air into her palms.
"Owen is going to Geneva tonight, you wanna come over?" Christina asked, turning her back to Callie, so that she could tie the yellow plastic overall onto her.
"The Pan-American trauma congress."
"Oh, right weren't you supposed to go with him to that?"
"Changed my mind."
"You changed your mind?" Callie asked incredulously, shivering as she literally felt the cold seep into her bones.
"Why on earth would you change your mind? It's Switzerland, land of chocolate and skiing and banks."
"Banks, Cal, really?"
"You know what I mean, I thought you guys were planning a romantic getaway afterwards, weren't you the one asking me about hotels in St. Moritz?
Christina shrugged, looking around, as she tucked her hands in her armpits. "What's taking so long? I thought they were supposed to be here any minute."
Callie moved closer to her friend. "Did you have a fight?"
"Oh my god, you did. Have I been so out of it that I missed a major fight? What happened, is it the army thing? No-is it because you work too much? "
"We didn't have a fight."
"Did he cheat on you?" She suddenly covered her mouth with her palm, "Oh my God, did you cheat on him?"
"What? NOo! We didn't have a fight you crazy woman! There's a surgery, just a surgery I don't want to miss." She said, shaking her head, rolling her eyes. "Did I cheat on him-Oy vey."
"A coronary artery bypass graft on a twelve month old baby."
"Are you gonna repeat everything I say in a question?"
"I will if I want to and that's never been done before, has it?"
"Nope, and when am I gonna get a chance to see something like that, it's too big, and he understands I can't miss it"
Callie understood it too. There was no way Christina would be missing such a major surgery. Hell, she wouldn't even have missed something half as important.
"Well, why didn't you just say so?"
"I don't know, I just " she trailed off, looking unsure, like she wanted to say something but couldn't.
There could only be one reason for that Callie realized after a moment of contemplation.
"It's Hahn's surgery." Callie stated, as though answering a question in her own mind.
Christina nodded guiltily. "It is."
Callie felt her stomach tense at the face of her friend's reluctance. She didn't want to be that person people skirted around an issue for.
"Christina, you can talk about her, I don't mind."
"I know, it's just you've been so silent the whole week, you haven't even mentioned her name and I didn't want to rub it in your face "
"I haven't talked about her cause there is nothing to talk about." Callie rushed in reflex, than looked down when she realized that her words sounded more defensive than she intended.
Christina gave her a doubtful look.
"And and just saying her name pisses me off. It does."
She was furious with Erica, she couldn't help it. Erica, true to her word, had not spoken to her about anything other than work since their confrontation. In fact they had barely spoken at all. And when they did, the few spattered words could barely pass for conversation. Brief directives, concise confirmations all delivered with out most respect and politeness, were more like it.
After just a week, Callie was already sick of being so damn polite and respectful all the damn time. She couldn't help it, the more Erica followed Callie's instructions and acted like they were nothing but distant and yet amiable colleagues, the more Callie wanted to rip her own arm and strangle Erica with it. In fact, she often found herself silently willing Erica to say something out of place, something inappropriate, anything that would allow Callie to wipe off that polite smile she wore every time their eyes met.
But she wouldn't, and time was passing, a fact that only heightened her aggression instead of lessening it, as it promised. Still she believed that given enough time her aggression would wear itself off, and she'd be free of this general feeling of un-satisfaction. She had to be.
"It's a subject best left unspoken." She finished, rubbing her palms against each other.
"It'll pass on its own."
She didn't know who she was trying to convince, Christina or herself.
Christina looked at her sideways, and took a deep breath.
"If I was into psych, I'd tell you that it's not healthy to keep it all in, and that you're bound to explode at some point, you know that right?"
Callie nodded, "I guess it's a good thing you're not into psych then."
"Anyway, this is my issue and I'll deal with it; you don't have to worry about it and you definitely don't have to censure yourself for my benefit I don't expect you to stay away from her just because I do. She is a great surgeon and if she's doing that surgery, you should definitely be there, hell, I wanna be there."
"I think that she might even let me participate." Christina said after a moment, her voice filled with awe.
"I think so, I spoke to her, asked her if I could be in the OR and she said, get this, she said that she was gonna ask me the same thing."
Callie snorted at that, her eyebrows lifting in surprise.
"I know and that's not all. I was like, 'Me?' and she was like, 'Only two percent of heart surgeons specialize in pediatric cardiology Dr. Yang, and I hear that you want to be one of them. Or was I misinformed?' Can you believe that?"
"Wow well, she always was one to do her homework."
"She seems different, Cal. More approachable."
"Maybe it's you who's different." Callie said, linking her arm with Christina's, trying to borrow her body heat.
"Also, it probably helps that you're not trying to climb up her ass anymore."
They started chuckling then, and afterwards laughing out loud as they recognized the absurdity of the situation.
Callie was having mixed emotions about the whole thing but Christina looked so excited, she couldn't let herself bring her down just because her stomach burned every time she thought about her ex.
Having Erica back was good for this hospital, that much was clear, she just wasn't sure if it was good for her.
"Cal, if she can pull it off, it'll be amazing. I mean, we'll be the talk of the country. Forget our ranking, our prestige will be-"
Her words were interrupted by the loud shrill of the approaching sirens, and within seconds they were standing in front of a parked, red and white ambulance.
"Here we go." Callie mumbled, as they lunged forward towards the opening doors of the vehicle.
Callie was sitting in the locker room, pulling on her boots, a task that was taking her minutes instead of seconds.
It had been a long day. As though accompanying her bad mood, each passing hour had brought with it all kinds of impossible cases. She had saved two, lost one and the other, she wasn't sure about. If he made it till the morning, she'd take it.
The heart stab wound, had been the most wearing one of the day for sure. Erica had scrubbed in alongside her, taking the lead. She had cracked open the woman's chest, localized the bleeding, cleaned and sutured the ruptured muscle.
One minute there were arms everywhere rushing back and forth, passing clamps and pads and forceps, frantically trying to keep her going, and the next there was the shrill steady squeal of the monitor as she flat lined.
After all else failed, and they exhausted their chances with pushing various cc's of various medications into her iv line, all that was left was for Erica to massage the heart manually in an effort to pump it back to life.
And all Callie could do, along with every one else in the room, was to watch her in frozen silence.
There she was, elbow deep in a woman's chest, holding her heart in her hands, squeezing and releasing-squeezing and releasing the ripped muscle with her palms.
Callie could not pull her eyes away, even after minutes passed and others started looking away in resignation.
Finally, she watched Erica's shoulders sag and her hands slow down. But instead of acceptance all she could feel was a monstrous surge of rage in herself, an uncontrollable urgency that rushed her forward. Then, before she could think twice about it, she was pushing Erica out of the way and replacing her hands with her own.
"Dr. Torres-" Erica started, sounding surprised as she pulled back.
"There is nothing you can do."
"No!" she repeated, forcefully. Looking down at the woman's body, she rhythmically compressed and ordered under her breath, "Come on-come on "
"It's been 6 minutes." Erica said in explanation. Like that should mean something. It didn't mean anything. People came back all the time. And this woman, this young innocent woman was going to come back. She had a whole future ahead of her.
"We've done all that we can."
"Come on-come on "
"You're wasting your time."
"I'm bringing her back!"
"You can give up Erica, I'm not going to!" She shouted over her shoulder, meeting her eyes, daring her to say something back.
Nobody said anything after that.
There was silence as she worked, as hard as she had ever worked, willing the heart to start pumping on its own, praying for a flutter, a beat, anything.
But nothing came.
After some unaccountable time, after her own breathing was rushing in and out of her body and sweat was clouding her vision, she felt a hand on her shoulder and looked up. It was Christina.
"Cal it's been 22 minutes."
Had it really been that long? It couldn't be. She looked around the room and they were the only ones left. Her, still pumping the woman's heart, Christina by her side and Erica, by the door, watching her silently and intently.
She felt tired all of a sudden, bone tired. The adrenalin that had kept her going had pushed out of her system in one quick punch and left exhaustion on its wake.
Her arms ached, as she slowed them down to a stop and finally pulled them back.
"Call it Doctor." Erica said quietly.
Callie looked up blankly, met her eyes for a long moment, and then she took a step away from the body. It wasn't a woman anymore, it was just a body.
Rubbing the sweat out of her eyes with her upper arm, she looked up at the wall behind Erica, swallowed and opened her mouth, "Time of death 14:53."
That had been hours ago. Now she was sitting on the bench in front of her locker, trying to get the hollow feeling out of her system with the awarding thought that at least the day had come to an end.
She jumped, as a pair of arms encircled her waist and a torso pressed into her back.
"Miss me lover?" a sultry voice whispered into her ear.
She spun around to look into a pair of blue-green eyes.
"Sade! You're back!" she shrieked, throwing her arms around Sadie.
"I'm baaack." Sadie hugged her back, pecking her on the lips.
When she pulled back Callie gave her a great big smile and reaching forward ruffled her hair. "What did you do to your hair?"
"Cut it, dyed it, you like it?"
"I'll take that as a yes." Sadie said, patting down her hair.
Callie snorted, "Yes, yes. When did you get in?"
"This morning, looked for you but you were in surgery."
"Yeah, back to backs today." She whispered, flashing back to the OR for a fleeting second, and then smiling extra-widely to cover it up.
Sadie arched her eyebrows all the same. "You look knackered."
"Seriously, who died?"
She swallowed and shook her head, "Long day How was your flight?"
"Are you diverting?"
"Alright; then long and boring."
She bumped their shoulders together, "How was England? Tell me."
"Wet and boring" Sadie quipped. Callie tipped her head in amusement, raising an eyebrow. "No seriously, all I remember at the moment are a few snogs, a few surgeries, one where I got to kind of fly solo, and a lot of rain. It was good experience but I'm glad to be back."
"Me too. One whole month is too long girl. You'll have to tell me all about it in detail later."
"I will." Sadie assured, getting up to open her locker, and started changing her clothes. "Anything interesting happen while I was gone?"
"You don't wanna know."
"I hear we have a new commander in chief."
"That, we do." Callie mumbled, looking down.
"This, Erica Hahn, is not the bird you were dating before me, is it?" Sadie asked, halting her hands and looking at Callie.
Right after Erica had left three years ago, Sadie had entered the picture. Callie had been moping around, feeling sorry for herself, not noticing anything around her other than work, when suddenly she noticed Sadie. In retrospect, it was impossible not to with her gorgeous figure and irresistible accent and her shameless flirting. She remembered well how each time Sadie touched a lock of her hair or smiled a little widely how she used to turn into a blubbering idiot. Loosing the ability to complete full sentences as the blood in her brain relocated to more southern regions every time Sadie came close to touching distance.
Looking back now, Callie was pretty sure that, even if they hadn't gotten stuck on the roof and almost turned into popsicles, even if they hadn't clung to each other in an effort to keep warm, Sadie would have made the first move some other way. "I can warm you up," she had said, opening her arms to welcome Callie into them. "And I mean that for more than just now." Callie had swallowed audibly, feeling like a fish out of water and after a moment walked into her arms.
What had started that night as a few, no strings attached, rolls in the hay had quickly transformed into something else. They made better friends than lovers, both decided not long after, and although their physical relationship had quickly come to an end their flirting had not.
Callie loved that their friendship was fun-easy-uncomplicated. They had a great time together all the while knowing that they cared a great deal about each other. She really couldn't ask for anything more.
She looked back at her sheepishly, not answering.
"Oh God, it is your first, your deflowerer, the one that led you out through the gateway of the straight and narrow and into the magical land of lady lovin' "
"That's the one." She said chuckling at the adjectives Sadie was throwing her way.
"What is she doing here?"
Callie shrugged. "Damned if I know."
After a moment Sadie humfhed and continued dressing.
"She probably wants to get back in your knickers." She said in a sing song voice.
"You wanna bet?"
"You think everybody wants to get in my 'knickers'"
"That's because they do."
Callie smiled, feeling a sudden sense of hope at the possibility. A rush of energy flew through her system. Then she realized her involuntary reaction and felt even worse than before. What was she doing, hoping? Hoping for what? Her body was betraying her. There was nothing to hope for.
"You all right?" Sadie asked, with a note of worry in her voice.
Callie knew that beneath Sadie's tough girl routine was a sensitive, good person. She had seen that right from the beginning. She didn't want to upset her, but she couldn't bring herself to lie either. So she simply looked up at her with a sad smile on her face.
Sadie sat down next to her, and threw an arm around her shoulder.
"Fancy a shag to make you feel better?"
Sadie asked it so seriously, and as such a matter of fact that Callie couldn't stop the laughter that suddenly burst out of her, "Ha-ha, no thanks."
Laughter was good; it lightened her heart and made her feel a little bit more like her normal self. Looking at the smiling face of Sadie, Callie realized, she needed that now more than ever.
"Hey, can't blame a girl for trying."
"I missed you."
Callie was sitting in front of her TV, buried under a heavy quilt on her gigantic couch in her sweatpants with her socks pulled high on top of them. With her huge mug of tea balanced on the bent knees she had pulled close to her chest, she flipped through the channels, in search of anything that could at least be considered watch-able. She wasn't looking for great television, not even good television; just something that didn't completely suck would be nice. Just something that didn't have something to do with thanksgiving would do.
But no-anything and everything on seemed to be just about that. From cheesy old movies to news about poultry sales to tips on how to throw a fabulous thanksgiving dinner; it seemed media was making sure that people remembered, prepared for and celebrated the most gluttonous of the holidays.
Thanksgiving was supposed to be about giving thanks, but when she looked at her life as it stood, she couldn't think of one thing to be thankful for. Other than the fact that Maria and her father were coming to Seattle to celebrate the holiday with her. And the fact that she had a roof over her head, made a good living, had a lot of money in the bank, her health, and a number of friends she considered family. Ok, so she had plenty to be thankful for. They just seemed to be hugely overshadowed by the suddenly obvious absence of love in her life.
An absence she had been blissfully ignorant about until a certain someone came back into her life that is.
"Just pick one already!" groaned Sloan, from his couch, throwing a piece of popcorn her way and getting her right on the forehead.
"Whaat?" She wined, "There's nothing on."
"I don't care, stop zapping, my head's starting to spin."
"Here," she threw the remote over, "you pick one."
He was lounging on the beige sofa to her left. His head cushioned by one arm of the couch, and his feet resting on the other, he barely fit, despite the supposed 3 person capacity of the couch. The red basket of popcorn balanced on his stomach, he tried to snatch the remote out of the air, but miscalculated and spilled fistfuls of popcorn all over himself.
"Nice." He grumbled, tidying up.
"So how many people are gonna be at Meredith and Derek's tomorrow night?"
"Well, Meredith and Derek obviously, Christina is coming alone since Hunt's not here. Sadie, she'll probably bring someone; there's another couple I don't know, which makes it," he counted with his fingers, "seven, and then just Lexie and I, I think, unless there are some last minute additions It'll be an even twelve if you guys come."
"We won't," Callie replied, shaking her head with certainty. "but I'll stop by after I drop them off."
"You should. Lexie's making some tart-thing. She bought some cook book."
"Aww, so cute." She smiled, amused.
He rolled his eyes and said "I know; she's ridiculous." But his voice lacked spite, and his eyes held a glint of pride.
"Is she feeling better by the way?"
"What? Yeah, great. She's-She's fine"
He looked thoughtful for a moment and then, suddenly turned towards her. "Hey, Cal?"
"Next month today is Lexie's birthday."
"We're having a party." He added.
"Oh great, that'll be fun."
"So you're coming."
That was an odd question to ask.
"Of course I'm coming. Why wouldn't I come?"
"No reason, it's an important birthday and I just want to make sure that you'll be there."
"How old is she gonna be?"
"Twenty-seven is important? It's not even a round number."
"It is. It is. It's three years away from thirty and..and...two years since we've been married and ahh-just be there will you!"
"O-kay." She said slowly, with raised eyebrows.
One thing about Sloan was that he wasn't good at hiding things, especially not from her- they were too close for that. And each time he tried, he looked, well, constipated. And he was obviously trying to hold something back here, but Callie figured she'd cut him some slack. When he wanted to tell her, he would.
"I'll be there." She assured.
"Where am I being by the way?"
"I'll let you know." He said, and turned his attention back to the television.
After flipping through the channels for a few minutes, he put the remote down and sighed,
"Let's put on a DVD."
Callie shook her head, rolled her eyes and smiling knowingly nodded.
She was pulled out of sleep by the insistent ringing of her cell phone. Cracking an eye open, she spotted the device on the coffee table next to her, reached over and picked it
up. A glance at the phone's screen let her know who it was.
"Hey Sade" she said sleepily and rubbing her neck, rotated her head. Falling asleep on the couch had not been the best idea.
"What are you doing?"
Callie looked up at the television with one open eye; the movie was long over, instead the screen showed the title menu of the DVD and kept on playing and replaying the theme music over and over again. She looked over at a completely out Sloan trying to find the remote, but feeling too lazy to move, quickly gave up on the notion of retrieving it.
"Nothing; watching the Horse Whisperer."
"That's nice, let's go out."
Resting her head on the back of the couch, she put a hand over her eyes, trying to block the bright lights. "I'm in my pajamas."
"Get dressed and I'll come pick you up."
"Ooh," Callie groaned, stretching, "aren't you Jetlagged yet?"
"Not yet, I think I might have skipped it this time."
"Or you'll be crashing by Friday."
"Or that. But at the moment I'm good to go, and looking forward to burning some energy with my favorite girl."
"I don't think so Sadie."
"Come on, it's Girl4Girl night at the catwalk tonight. You've got to come it'll be good for you, we'll go out, meet new people, have some fun."
"Not in the mood, really."
"You haven't been in the mood for days now Are you getting sick or something?"
"Maybe." She yawned, "I just feel a little off."
"That's not good. You should-"
The soaring exhaust-like sound of Sloan's snoring interrupted her.
"What is that?" Sadie asked, her voice high.
"Mark's here, Lexie's shift is running late and he fell asleep."
"My God woman, that doesn't sound human. He's like an orchestra all on his own. "
"I know." She picked up a cushion and pressed it against her free ear, trying to muffle the noise. "Poor Lexie, right?"
"You should put a sock in his mouth, I'm serious."
"Mark." Callie called out trying to wake him. "Marrkk!" Nothing.
"I swear, if I dropped a bomb in the room, he'd sleep through it."
"You know I read this article that says, statistically speaking, six women out of ten say that their husbands snore."
"Yep. Isn't it a huge number? Let's say I get married one day, I mean the chances are- I might just have to kill him. Can you imagine, 'hrrrrra, khroarrr', this alone is reason enough to swear off men altogether."
Callie chuckled, "Women don't snore?"
"Hmm hmm, half though. The ratio of man to woman is about two to one."
"Hmm so you're not coming out?"
"You should take a couple of Echinaforce."
"It works wonders, I'm telling you. Take two before bed and you'll feel as good as new tomorrow."
"Yes doctor." Callie said, mockingly.
"You'll thank me tomorrow."
"And you'll come out with me tomorrow."
"Can't girl, my dad's coming."
"Boo-you're no fun."
"Excuses, excuses." Sadie snorted.
"Fiiine." She said, sounding like she was sulking.
Callie couldn't have that, so she made her voice go all sing-song and said, "I think you're weally pwetty."
"Hah." Sadie chuckled.
"And vewy smart."
"And sooo hot, extwemely talented. Gift of God to humanity-"
"Yeah, yeah call me if you change your mind about tonight."
Callie hung up and stood up.
She patted him on the shoulder, but he kept on sleeping peacefully. She made a move to take the remote out of his hand but just as she was pulling it out, his hand tightened around it and he mumbled almost incoherently, "I'm watching."
Callie straightened amusedly, "Oh yeah? What are you watching?"
He cracked open an eye, "Huh?"
"What are you watching?" she repeated motioning towards the TV.
He sat up and looked around blankly, trying to get his bearing. "What time is it?" He asked looking at his watch.
"It's time to go home, I'm going to bed."
He nodded and stood up a little too quickly.
"Come on." She linked her arm in his to steady him and led him towards the antré. "I called your name like five times, trying to wake you up, didn't you hear me?"
"Yeah, how do you hear your pager normally?"
"My pager vibrates, and I keep it in my pocket, that wakes me up."
"Figures." She smiled, shaking her head.
He opened the door and kissed her on the forehead, "Thanks, beautiful."
She patted his shoulder as he walked out. "Say hi to Lexie," she said and then shouted after him, "Drive carefully."
He turned around, and saluted. "Will do."
Callie woke up early, and spent her day running errands. After tidying up the house, picking up her dry-cleaning and flowers from the florist and finally buying groceries, mostly fruits and vegetables- an effort to Convince Maria of her healthy eating habits- she was almost done with her to do list for the day before her dad and Maria arrived.
The caterer had delivered the food for dinner earlier in the morning and all she had to do was take it out of the fridge and heat it up in the last minute. She would set the table, after taking a quick shower. And then she would transfer the cold starters out of their aluminum cups and into more appropriate serving dishes.
All things considered, she was doing a good job of scheduling her day. A quick glance at her watch let her know that she had about 3 hours before she had to be in the airport.
Plenty of time to get ready.
The quick shower turned into a long bath, and when she got out her fingers and toes had turned all wrinkly and prune-ish. She quickly pulled on a pair of grey sweatpants, and an old favorite green UPEN sweatshirt. Putting a towel over her shoulders, she left her hair down to let it dry on its own and going over to the dining room, picked up the guest table set from the buffet.
In less than half an hour she was done and she had to admit that her living room really did look lovely with the table all made up. The burgundy tablecloth with its subtle embroidery looked chic and elegant under the layers of patterned porcelain. The contrast of the intricately detailed burgundy dinner plate in between the silver accented bigger white china and the smaller white salad plate would have made her mother proud. The newly polished silver flatware to both sides of the plates shone crisply and the pair of crystal glasses-one for the red wine, the other for water- transparently towering over the individual settings made for a perfect balance. And not to forget the mirror center piece, quite possibly her favorite, which had taken a little longer then anticipated but looked well worth the effort with its reflection through the silver tea-lights and the red and white rose petals.
It looked festive, stylish, and beautiful. Although a part of her knew that a three place setting didn't really do the long mahogany table justice. Perhaps one day she would be able to host a thanksgiving dinner for a larger family, one of her own making even. She hoped so.
Until then though, she decided, she would start throwing dinner parties for her friends.
She was pouring the salad out of its plastic container and into the crystal bowl on the kitchen counter when her home phone started ringing. She picked it up on its third ring and stuck it between her shoulder and her chin, her hands continuing with their task.
Her brows knitted in confusion. It was her father, and they should have been in the air by now. Hell, she was supposed to pick them up in less then an hour.
"Dad, don't tell me that your flight is delayed."
"No. We are in Seattle."
"What? What are you talking about? "
"We took an earlier flight. Maria wanted to surprise you." He said calmly.
"Oh my God I can't believe you guys. Why didn't you tell me?"
"Mija, we're in the hospital. At Seattle Grace."
"Daddy, I told you I wasn't working today, just come to the house-you should have told me you were coming earlier, I would have picked you-,
"Callie-no-we're in the hospital. It's Maria. There's been an accident."
That was the last thing she heard before she was out of the door, and running.
Callie stormed in through the ER, frantically looking around. Her wet hair felt like ice-chips across her face, her wet clothes were sticking to her body, her feet were bare within her sneakers, and it hadn't even crossed her mind to put on a rain coat as she sprinted across the street, in the stormy rain and the cold winter air.
Eyes searching for her father, she crossed the room in three long strides and barked down into the nurses' desk.
"Where is she?"
"Dr. Torres?" The nurse looked dumbly at her, obviously not having a clue as to what she was talking about.
Callie was soaking from head to toe, her cheeks were numb, and she was breathing heavily. Somewhere in this hospital was a woman, as close to a mother, as she had ever had, who was in who knew what condition. She didn't have time for this.
"Sanchez. Maria Sanchez." She growled. "Where is she?"
The nurse, startled into action, perhaps by the urgency of her tone or by her shocking appearance, quickly checked her records. "She should be in OR two ma'am." She said, after too long a moment.
"Two." Callie repeated and ran down the hallway. She could feel the curious glances of her colleagues on her, as she almost collided with her father in front of the operating room.
"Calliope, Calliope." He called, taking hold of her arms.
"Dad, what happened?"
"There was a car, she was just crossing the street and than, he hit her Callie." He sounded as though he was on auto-pilot, his voice unnaturally monotone as he recounted what had happened. "An SUV. She was- she was unconscious and bleeding. I don't think she was breathing. I called 911."
"Ok, Dad. I want you to wait here. I'm gonna go inside, just wait here Dad."
She had never seen her father look so lost.
"It's gonna be all right. I promise."
It had to be all right, Callie could not lose another person. She would not lose Maria today. Not like this.
"I promise-just wait." She said and pushed the doors open.
The scene she walked in on would stay with her for a very long time to come.
Maria was covered in tubes, intubated, looking small and broken under the bright florescent lights of the room, with an army of doctors working on her. Her face was drained of color, other than the angry looking cuts and bruises across it, and her shirt was cut open, baring parts of her normally modest self to a room full of strangers.
She wouldn't have liked that, had she been awake.
Then again, she would have fainted had she seen herself lying there with her abdomen sliced open, and a number of gloved fingers painted red with her blood as they worked on her now visible internal organs.
No, she wouldn't have liked that at all.
Bailey and Erica were barking orders over her seemingly lifeless body, leading the group. Callie stood frozen as words like "internal bleeding" and "hemorrhaging" and "collapsed lung" floated over her head. Derek kept on saying that he had to relieve the pressure.
None of it made any sense to her, she felt oddly numb, when suddenly her eyes caught sight of Maria's bare toes. One of her socks had fallen off, or been removed leaving her left foot uncovered. For some reason, out of all the injuries, this was the most shocking.
Maria's slim frame had never been one that could tolerate cold. The simplest breeze usually had her reaching for a jumper. Callie remembered many scorching summer days when while everyone stood under sprinklers and jumped into pools in an effort to cool down Maria walked around with a sweater over her shoulders.
Someone had to cover her foot up. It was freezing. Callie, herself was shivering, Maria would surely catch her death if she stayed like this.
Callie involuntarily gasped in horror at the thought and took a step forward, her wet sneakers squeaking on the floor.
Erica looked up, her eyebrows rising in surprise.
"I she " She began but words refused to come out.
Erica quickly looked her up and down, and confusedly asked, "What do you need Doctor?"
Erica's voice was coming from so far away, lost under the beeps and clicks, of various machines.
Callie knew she had to start moving, she knew she had to take charge, but despite all her intentions she couldn't move. Instead she heard herself whisper, "Toes."
"Excuse me?" Erica repeated, not hearing her at all.
She had barely heard herself.
"Her toes," She said, louder this time.
Erica looked down at Maria and back up at Callie, not understanding.
"Whatever it is, it'll have to wait." Erica said after a moment. "We're trying to save a life here, if you haven't noticed."
"I need suction." Bailey ordered.
"Pressure is dropping" Derek said.
"Maria." Callie gasped, her voice sounding raspy to her own ears.
"What was that?" Erica asked sharply.
"That's my Maria."
She had told Erica about Maria, one of those many nights they had spent together, before they got to be something more than friends, all those years ago. On one of those nights of talking about their fears, and wants and losses and triumphs, she had told her about her mom and her dad and Maria.
About that time Maria had baked-actually baked from scratch- a birthday cake just for Callie. Of course Callie had had birthday cakes before-all kinds of extravagant, giant, layered cakes specially decorated according to her interests at the time, specially prepared and delivered by pastry chefs that appeared in television shows- but never a simple chocolate cake baked at home for her by someone that loved her.
It had caught her by surprise, being at age-twelve- where she couldn't yet understand what was missing from her life before she found it, but also old enough to appreciate it when she recognized something as such.
It had been such a simple thing to do, simple and ordinary and oh so very extraordinary.
Maria had filled a gap.
She had told Erica that, Erica who filled a different kind of gap in Callie altogether. And Erica had held her hand, and smiled softly, with understanding eyes.
She had to remember that. Now, holding her fate once again in her hands, her happiness lying open and broken on a cold table in front of her, she had to know what she was holding.
Erica looked down once again, a flash of what looked like understanding crossing her face.
She looked up, met Callie's eyes and reassuringly said, "All right," and then, in a tone that left no room for debate, as though she was foreseeing the argument her words were going to flare up, she added, calmly, coolly, solidly, "now please wait outside."
That woke her up.
Erica was ordering her out of the room.
"What-no." She said incredulously, moving fully into the room at last.
"What are you doing Torres?" Derek interrupted, looking up at her through wide eyes.
"I'm helping." She said, taking a step forward.
"No, you're not." Erica ordered, sharply.
"The hell I'm not." Callie walked further up to the table.
Erica looked up at Miranda, "Bailey?"
"I've got it."
Then Erica stepped away from Maria and intentionally blocked Callie's path.
"Get out of the way." Callie shouted, apprehensively knowing somewhere in the back of her mind that she was about to cross some irreversible line with Erica.
But when Erica shook her head and unrelentingly said "No." She found herself walking-no jumping- right across it in one giant leap.
"Get the fuck out of my way Erica!" she barked.
"You need to back away now." Erica said, clenching her teeth.
People were looking, and with each passing second Callie felt more and more desperate.
"No, no! You can't stop me, damn it."
She felt her blood boiling. Erica's face was only inches away from her own, and their shoulders were almost touching. Throwing knives into each other, through their eyes, they stared, unwavering, neither one of them backing down. For a moment, she wondered if she could physically push Erica out of her way.
Perhaps the thought was visible to the outside world because the next moment, Derek was calling her, his voice cautioning, "Torres,"
She looked up at him; he met her eyes and slowly shook his head, warning.
"No," Callie cried, "she thinks she can just come in here and and-No, no. I have to, I have to-"
"Chief." Miranda called, covering Maria with the sheet. "She's stable. Now's the time to move her."
Erica looked up at her vitals and nodded.
"Call them and tell them we're coming up. I'll meet you there." Erica ordered and turned back, gave Callie one final disdainful look and walked out.
"What are you thinking Torres?" Derek asked as he passed her by, pushing Maria's bed out of the room. "Look at yourself! Dripping rain water and mud all over the OR; you want her to get an infection?" He shook his head. "You're not even wearing scrubs."
Scrubs. That made sense. She had to put on scrubs.
She could hear the muffled voices coming from outside. By the sounds of it, Erica had just arrived.
"Callie is in there" Bailey was saying.
"Oh, you can't be serious."
"I told her-"
"Go ahead, Dr. Bailey, I'll be there in a minute."
Then the door was thrown open and a mighty pissed off looking Erica walked in.
Maria was holding stable and Callie felt a little more in control now.
"Look, Erica I-" She started softly but Erica didn't allow her to continue.
"Shut up and get out of those clothes."
"Stop talking Callie, I am serious." Erica barked, pointing a strained finger at her and than banging her hand on the wall, startling Callie with the sheer sound of the loud bang.
She took a deep breath and let it out, in an effort to calm herself and continued speaking, sounding deadly, in barely controlled anger.
"Despite whatever your feelings may be towards me, I am your boss, whether you like it or not, and I have the final say in surgeries. I'm not asking you, I am telling you, you are not scrubbing in."
Callie could feel her stomach burning, the angry words dying to get out and yet whatever she was going to say was halted by the lethal look in Erica's eyes. Erica took a step forward and Callie felt herself move back in reflex.
"All you're doing right now is wasting time. Time Maria can't afford. So you have two options; you can get out of those surgical scrubs and go be with your family, or we can have security escort you out of here. Either way, you're not getting into that OR today. I promise you that..."
Erica gave Callie a final stare and turned towards the sink, reaching down to turn on the water and starting the process of disinfecting her hands.
"I-" she started but was once again immediately cut off by Erica, who did not even turn around to face her. "Use your head Callie, I mean it."
Callie could see that this was one battle she would not be able to win. She remembered a similar situation with Bailey when her son was brought in. Hell Erica had not even allowed her to stay in the room to hold the kid's hand, let alone scrub in.
A part of her knew that she was right, but that did not stop her from hating Erica at that moment.
"You'd better save her." Callie warned and walked out.
It had been hours; hours of sitting in silent agony, trying to look strong for her father. Hours of waiting to hear any news, her breath catching in her throat each and every time someone walked down the hallway towards her; hours of trying to catch a word in the hushed voices of nurses, of trying to decipher what a doctor's raised eyebrow or tilt of his head might mean in regards to Maria.
She hated it; every single minute of it.
She was the doctor; she was the one who was supposed to deliver news on a patient, not the other way around.
The few times that a scrub nurse did come to give her an update, she felt like her heart was going to beat right out of her chest.
Waiting rooms were no place for a doctor.
Her dad hadn't said more than a few words to her this whole time. He simply sat by the far corner of the room, his head held low, as though he was waiting for the guillotine to drop at any moment; silent, and already mourning, despite all her efforts to assure him that everything would be fine.
True, it might have worked better, had she believed that herself. She didn't, and yet, she couldn't not believe it either. Stuck somewhere between dread and hope, she sat alone in the very seat that started the waiting room, having long given up on the notion of trying to engage her father in conversation, and kept watch of the corridor.
Working through things by talking was definitely not a trait she had inherited from him. He was more the solitary; throw it all inside kind of person. Though he didn't know it, this was something he shared with Erica.
Erica, whose strings of control had been wound so tight she looked liked she could spring at any moment. Callie had never seen her look quite so serious or angry before. Then again, she had never faced off with Dr. Erica Hahn the chief of surgery before. So goddamn principled, she was; everything-so damn black and white.
It must be an easier life, Callie thought, seeing everything so clearly, definitely, with the conviction of right and wrong. Dr. Hahn was unaffected by uncertainties and immune to hesitation that came with living to those of ordinary flesh and blood.
The Erica she knew had always been strong too, but she had also been soft and warm. The rest of the hospital might not have agreed with her, but to her, she had been. Callie remembered her softness, like she remembered the feel of her breast against her cheek. Like she remembered the feel of her tongue in her mouth, wet and slippery; like she remembered the scent of her peach shampoo, the same one she had inhaled only hours before, standing shoulder to shoulder, staring into her eyes, fighting the urge to push her out of her way.
So cold, she had been, ordering her out, stubborn and unbending. And yet, to her great dismay, Callie realized, so hot too.
That she should realize the fact that she still desperately, indisputably wanted Erica, in the height of her hurt and anger, at a time when she felt sick with worry, made her believe once more in the cruel sense of humor of the divine deity above.
She snorted, shaking her head. And then, took her head in her palms and closed her eyes.
This was not the time to be dissing God; she took in a deep breath and decided, this was the time to pray.
She tried remembering prayers she had learned as a little girl. The ones her mother had taught her. But found that she couldn't. The holy words had slipped out of her mind in time, inconspicuously and quietly. She didn't recall a single whole prayer.
She shook her head again, and making up her mind, bowed her head and covered her eyes once more. Any god that was worth praying to would understand her words no matter what form or language they came in. Talking would have to do.
"Dear God" she started internally, "Please, save her "
She had been at it a while, when she heard quick footsteps coming closer. She looked up nervously. It was Christina.
"I was in surgery, I just heard. Are you ok?"
Callie shrugged, helplessly. "They won't let me in."
"What can I do?"
"Go. Just go inside, help them."
Christina nodded, and rushed off, leaving Callie to do the only thing she was allowed to do; watch.
When she took the seat next to her father, he didn't even notice her.
"Dad?" She asked.
There wasn't a reply. He just kept on staring out the window, his mind far away. She put her hand on his arm, "Daddy?"
"Hmm?" He looked up, startled. "Is there news?"
"No. Christina just got here; she's gone in to help. She's really good dad. One of the best I know. She'll-it'll be ok."
Her father looked back at her blankly, which made her all the more convinced that she had to persuade him into believing that everything would really be all right. He had heart problems. Ten years ago he had had a heart attack. Things looked fine now- thanks to Maria's insistence of a healthy diet-but any kid on the street could tell you that stress was not a good thing for the heart. So she kept talking.
"And Dr. Bailey is in there, she's a great pediatrician."
At her father's raised eyebrows, she quickly added, "She has an extensive background in general surgery, so you don't have to worry. And Dr. Shephard is in there. He's the guy that has the method, remember, for treating malignant gliomas? The one that was in the medical journal, you sent me?"
"Hmm". He nodded.
"She's in good hands; great hands. Erica is- Dr. Hahn is leading them, and she's- she's very good She's actually the best surgeon I know." As she said it, she realized, despite whatever else, that fact was absolutely true. "And she's the chief of surgery She's got very good hands. Steady, and confidant and excellent technique" Her words were coming out without effort now, in a stream of consciousness. Staring into space, she continued speaking and for the first time that day really believed what she was saying. "Maria's gonna be just fine. Erica will do everything that's humanly possible to save her. She knows how important Maria is She won't let anything happen to her. I know it. I'm sure of it."
When she finished, she noticed that her father was looking at her curiously with an expression of awe across his face.
"What?" She asked after a moment, smiling.
He shook his head, dismissing the question. Pulled her towards him and kissed the top of her head. She rested her head on his shoulder, like she used to do when she was a little girl and literally felt it become a little easier to breath.
They stayed that way a while, both lost in their own thoughts. Then very quietly her father whispered, "Calliope?"
"Maria and I "
He was silent for a long moment, and then, very gently, he confessed, "I love her."
She looked up at him and met his sad eyes knowingly, she smiled and nodded, "I know."
He looked surprised for a moment, and then chuckled, like he should have known that she would know. She nodded again smiling genuinely, and he shrugged as in silent explanation of why he hadn't told her before. Then, she squeezed his arm and settled back against his shoulder. He rested his chin back on her forehead, and sighed like he had been holding that breath in forever.
Not long after that Sadie and Sloan arrived, and then Lexie, and eventually Meredith as well.
Her friends had come in to keep her company, give her support. There were already too many hands in the OR as it was, but at least they were able to take turns in keeping her and her father updated.
They sat with her, throughout the whole miserable night, bringing her coffee or food to her father, holding her hand or providing a shoulder to lean on and then, when the news that there were complication came their way, assuring and re-assuring her that everything would be fine. And despite her insistence on saying things like "You should go home." and "There's nothing you can do." and "It's Thanksgiving." nobody left, they simply stayed and carried her through.
Sloan did scrub in, in the final stages, when the time for closing the incisions were at hand, he went in and made sure that Maria came out with the smallest scar possible.
Maria's surgery had started at 5 pm. And after almost 9 hours of intensive work, at 1.45 a.m. it ended.
Christina came out first, and the first thing out of her mouth was what Callie was desperately hoping to hear "She's ok."
The rest were details about how the surgery had gone, about repairing the lung, and stopping the bleeding. About the complication- how they had closed her up to see that she had started hemorrhaging again and so they had to open her up a second time- and so on and so forth.
But those were not important. The most important thing now was that she was ok. She would have to rest and it would take her a few weeks to get back to normal, but barring post op. complications, she'd be fine.
She'd be fine.
Callie felt her eyes fill in relief as she got up to hug her father. His face mirrored hers.
After a long moment, she pulled back and put her arms around Christina. "Thank you, thank you."
Christina held her, "It's ok, she's ok." She whispered, against her ear while the others patted her back and made triumphant comments. Each in their own way, were letting out a breath of relief.
Sloan came out and called her over, "She's in the recovery room, if you wanna see her Cal."
And then she was standing over Maria, silent tears running down her cheeks, as she looked at her bruised face. The surgery was a success, her vitals were steady, she was going to be fine.
So what if she had to repeat that a few times, to believe it.
She had stood vigil by Maria's bed until morning; sitting, standing, pacing along the room, watching everything from Maria's breathing, her fever, her fluctuating pulse and blood pressure-rising as she went through a patch of pain and falling again when she fell back asleep- to the color of the liquid that filled her urine bag.
Callie had stood guard against any malady that might steal Maria away.
And Maria, coming into and out of consciousness, moaning in pain or discomfort in irregular intervals, dripping tears of sweat one minute and shaking in chills the next, had made it till morning.
It had been one of the longest nights of Callie's life. But morning had come and with it had brought light and hope. Some color had returned to Maria's face and more importantly her vitals had settled into a stable steady line for the last three hours and counting.
At 8.30, only five hours after she had finally been able to convince her father to go home and get some sleep, he returned.
"Good morning," He whispered, tiptoeing into the room.
She left her post by the window and walking up to him, kissed his cheeks. "Hey, Dad."
"How is she?"
"Good. She's doing well."
"How did she pass the night?" he asked, settling into the chair next to the bed.
Callie looked at her father's worried face and smiled as reassuringly as possible. "Fine. She was fine."
There was no reason to tell him that she had been scared a few times.
"Santos?" Maria croaked, opening an eye.
"Maria, you're awake." He sighed, taking hold of her hand.
She licked her cracked lips. And then, looking at his face, her eyes went wide and she croaked, "You haven't shaved."
Callie had realized that her father looked tired but she hadn't pinpointed what exactly made him look so different. Once Maria said it, it was all Callie could see. Santos Torres not shaving was an unheard of occurrence. Even in his mother's funeral he had shaved first thing in the morning. This was definitely a sign of how much he was actually affected by Maria's accident.
"Oh." He gasped, as though he was noticing it for the first time.
"I'm fine." Maria said gently.
Callie was the one to break the long silence that followed after.
"You will be."
The first time Erica came to check on Maria collided with the only break Callie had allowed herself all day. When Callie came back at 4.00 in the afternoon, fifteen minutes after she had left, her father told her that she had just missed Dr. Hahn. She felt a sting of disappointment at the timing, having looked forward to seeing her the whole day.
As time passed and her worry lessened, she felt worse and worse about how she'd handled the situation. It hadn't been professional to say the least. Erica's look of anger kept on flashing in her mind, leaving an unrest-ful feeling in the pit of her stomach. And she strongly suspected that rest would not be coming her way until she was able to clear the air with her.
The next morning, as she was dozing off on the couch by Maria's bed, such a chance presented itself when Erica walked into the room.
Callie automatically straightened in her seat and was just about to get up to greet her when her father beat her to it.
"Morning, Doctor." He said, standing up from his now usual seat by the bedside.
"How's everything?" Erica asked, addressing Maria who'd just opened her eyes.
"Fine." She said sleepily.
"How did you sleep? Okay?" she asked picking up her chart and flipping through the pages.
"I have some pain in my stomach."
"Aha" Erica said hanging the folder back by the foot of the bed. She walked up to Maria, "Can you show me where it hurts?"
Maria pointed towards her lower belly. When Erica pressed two fingers around the area, she gasped in pain. She moved her fingers and pressed again. "Here as well?"
"Yeah, it comes and goes. But-ooh, right there."
"Right." Erica nodded. "Let me just check your incision."
She rolled back the blanket, and very softly lifted the bandage. "Great, very good." She said re-closing the pads. She covered her with her blanket once again.
"What's causing the pain in your lower abdominal region is " at Maria's worried look, she smiled and started again. "Basically, you have gas."
"Yes, it's common after surgeries. I'm going to prescribe something for it, it should pass relatively quickly, don't worry."
"Other than that, any complaints?"
"No. That's it. You're all taking very good care of me and my Callie is not leaving my side."
Erica followed Maria's gaze and came eye to eye with Callie for the first time since she had entered the room, nodding quickly, she averted her eyes and looking back down at Maria, gave a strained smile. "That's good."
"Shouldn't she go back to work though? I'm sure there are other patients that need her as well. She won't listen to me; maybe you could tell her that I'm fine."
Callie got up to stand by the foot of the bed, and squeezed the toes of Maria's socked foot that were peaking out of the covers.
"Ria, I know you're fine. Haven't I been saying that? I just want to be here. How often do I get a chance to see you?"
"Yes, well, if Dr. Hahn thinks it's all right."
"Of course." Erica tipped her head, "You don't have to worry Ms. Sanchez; they'll page Dr. Torres if there's an emergency."
"See? I told you."
After a moment of silence Erica cleared her throat.
"All right, you're doing very nicely, everything looks as it should. Just try to rest and your body will do the healing for you. Sleeping is not a bad idea."
"Well that's good, cause that's all I seem to be doing."
"Thank you." Maria croaked from the bed.
"Thank you, Doctor." Callie's father moved up to shake her hand.
"She's doing great, don't worry." She said, reassuringly.
"When do you think we can go home?"
Erica smiled at his impatience, understandingly.
"Let's just see how she is in a few days, shall we?"
He nodded. "Of course."
Erica turned back towards Maria.
"I'll see you later." She said and walked out.
Callie followed her out and called after her.
Erica halted her steps and slowly turned towards her.
"Thanks, I mean, I wanted to thank you for taking care of her."
Erica nodded. They hadn't spoken since before the surgery.
"Just doing my job." She said in a clipped voice.
"I know that, I know, but thanks anyway. I she's family and you did what you did and you saved her. So, thank you."
She really meant it, if nothing else, that had to be obvious.
After a moment Erica replied with a single nod of her head.
Erica turned to walk away when Callie's voice stopped her once again.
"What is it Dr. Torres?" She asked, still sounding hard and cold.
"About before "
"What about it?"
Erica wasn't expecting that. The sudden change in her guarded face left no doubt in Callie's mind; she was expecting a fight, not an apology.
"You want to talk about this now?" She asked incredulously after a moment.
"I do." Callie nodded, hesitantly.
Erica took a deep breath and looked away.
"I know that I was wrong." Callie interjected quickly before Erica got a chance to get lost in why she was so angry with her.
Erica met her eyes and blinked once.
"You can't intervene in a surgery, the way you did, no matter who it is."
"You endangered her, the way you acted, you're a doctor and you should know this."
Callie nodded, bowing her head, guilt filling her once again. She was right, of course she was right. If Erica had not stopped her, she could have seriously hurt Maria, despite all her good intentions; she had been in no condition to operate.
"You can't try to stop me from doing what I know to be right. I'm the chief of surgery,"
"I have earned that title. And just because you don't like me or because you don't want me around does not change the fact that I'm your boss."
"That's not true."
"That I don't want you around."
Erica shook her head, and blew out a long frustrated breath.
"The way you spoke-"
Another long silence passed, while Erica contemplated how to respond. Then having made up her mind, she sighed and softly-clearly delivered her verdict.
"This will be the only time I allow something like this Callie, because of the extraordinary circumstances. Because it was your family and you were so worried that you weren't yourself."
"Right." Callie agreed, nodding.
"The only time." Erica repeated almost to herself.
Callie swallowed once and weakly said, "It won't happen again."
"Alright." Erica nodded sadly, and motioned Callie towards the room. "Go ahead."
Callie smiled tightly, turned around and walked into the room.
The air was cleared, though she didn't know if she felt better or worse.
Five days after Maria's surgery, they were allowed to leave the hospital. Though Maria insisted on going to the Archfield as planned, Callie wouldn't hear of it. Not after almost losing her. She wasn't going to take any chances; as long as they were staying in Seattle, they would be staying in her home, where she could keep watch of her progress. This was not the reason she gave Maria of course. With her she simply used emotional blackmail.
About how little time they got to spend together, and didn't she want to see Callie as much as she could, or was there something more important she wanted to do cause Callie didn't want to stand in her way if there was It was getting a little old, that one, but it always worked, so Callie figured she might as well use it until it didn't.
In response, Maria pursed her lips and met her father's eyes helplessly. Callie kept her smile hidden while her father attempted to make a comment about there not being enough rooms for the two of them.
To which Callie said, to Maria's great shock, "No problem, you two lovebirds can stay together."
Maria gasped and turned to look at Callie's father with wide, questioning eyes.
He closed his mouth which had fallen open, gave Callie a stern look and turned towards Maria apologetically. "It was time Amore."
"Santos." Was the only thing Maria was able to say after that.
"Don't give him a hard time Ria, he was sick with worry when he confessed his undying love for you."
"You didn't!" Maria gasped, covering her mouth with her palm, looking at him like she was in a dream. All the while her eyes glowed with something that looked a lot like happiness.
Callie's father nodded, smiling. "I did."
Then he got up, sat on the arm of her chair, took her hand in his and brought it to his lips. Maria was too shocked to say anything. She just sat there, her eyes filling with unshed tears as they stared into each other's eyes, emotion flowing through the air into each other.
Callie had to look away, feeling like she was witnessing too private a moment. She wasn't used to seeing this much love so openly on these faces. They had really kept it hidden much better than Callie had given them credit for. She had suspected that they were involved, that they loved each other in their own way but this was something else. This was real and raw and after all these years still so alive. She felt a sudden lump in her throat. After giving them another moment, she cleared her throat and announced, "Excellent. So, it's settled, you'll stay with me."
At first it had been strange seeing them together, as in together. And that first morning she had opened her door to see them coming out of their bedroom-their bedroom-had been kind of weird for all of them, she suspected. But it wasn't bad. It was just new. And she had made sure that they knew she was ok with it. They had looked at her unable to say anything, frozen in place. She had taken a step towards them and cheerily asked "Coffee?" and that was that. Things had settled to a routine after that and before she knew it a week had passed.
And then, they were gone.
All in all they had spent almost two weeks together. It had been years since she had spent so much time with her family in one time. And despite the circumstances she found that she had missed it; having people to come home to, to talk to, and to eat with. Having love around; it had been nice.
And now she was back at work, full time. She wasn't complaining though, as much as she enjoyed spending time with her family, she had missed the adrenalin of her job. Part time just wasn't enough. That's because I love my job, she reminded herself. And she kept on reminding herself of that fact as she finished up bandaging the wrist of a teenage boy who had fallen off his bike, trying to impress his friends with his "signature move." That's what he had called it. Callie couldn't believe the nerve of these kids nowadays. The least he could have done was to wear some protective gear when jumping from the roof of one car to the next with his little BMX bike.
Seriously, where were his parents? He could have been badly hurt. She caught her line of thinking and chuckled humorlessly She sounded like her mother. Perhaps she was getting older.
She was sitting by the reception area of the clinic, filling out the necessary forms for the idiot on wheels, when she heard the distressed voice of the woman standing in the exam room across from her. She looked up, curious.
"I'm sorry, she doesn't like doctors." The woman apologized, standing next to her young daughter who was sitting on the bed, hiding behind her.
By the looks of it Carev was having a hard time examining a little girl.
Callie smirked, shaking her head. Though Carev had turned out to have a special understanding of babies, the same could not be said of children.
After a few more tries, Callie decided to take pity on him and go help. The woman looked frustrated, the girl looked like she was about to cry and Carev looked panicked, about to flee the scene, even.
She stood up and just as she was leaving her chair behind the desk, she saw Erica walk in to the exam room. Callie felt her heart beat speed up, looking around making sure that no-one had noticed her breath hitching in her throat, she settled back down and started watching her as discreetly as possible.
"I'll take over here Carev, go next door and see if you can help Doctor Simmons." Erica ordered as she reached over for the file in his hand.
"Yes ma'am," he said, making a hasty retreat, looking relieved. "Thank you, ma'am."
Enough with the ma'am already Callie thought, rolling her eyes.
"Hello, I'm Doctor Hahn. What seems to be the problem?"
"Yes, well, my daughter has these headaches... but she's a little " she turned down towards her little girl, trying to untangle her from her back "baby, if you'll just sit up, let the nice doctor look at you and we can go. I promise."
The girl just hung on more tightly to her, shaking her head. Straightening up, the mother blew out an exasperated breath, looked at Erica apologetically and than once again down at her daughter.
"Oh I see." Said Erica, and after a moment added, "anyway I can't examine her."
The mother's head quickly spun back to Erica's. "Why-why not?" She asked hesitantly.
"I couldn't examine her even if she wanted me to. I'm sorry, I just can't." Erica said very seriously.
Callie's eyes opened as wide as the mother's. What was going on here? She had never seen Erica refuse an examination before.
"Not before I do my ritual." Erica added, after a long moment.
"Ritual. Yes." Erica said, reaching into her pocket. "You see, before I do anything today, I have to do this. So, if you don't mind."
The mother looked as puzzled as Callie felt, but Erica simply smiled at her reassuringly.
"It's a habit of mine, you understand, to start the day with some magic."
"M-magic?" the mother asked.
Callie could see the kid release her death grip on her mother's leg, a little bit.
Erica nodded, "Yes. Some call it a magic trick, but I assure you there is no trick. It's simply a matter of a coin" she held up a quarter, "like this one, disappearing into thin air."
"Yes You must have heard of it Nurse Rachel?"
The chubby, pink-faced nurse jerked towards her in hearing her name.
"My magical ritual of the disappearing coin?"
"Riiight." The woman said slowly, stretching the word, sounding unsure.
The child was still covering behind her mother. Erica shook her head dismissively at the nurse and tried for a new alliance.
"How about you Mrs. Potter, have you heard of the magical disappearing coin?"
The mother looked too stunned to move.
Before she could say anything Callie found herself stepping into the room.
"Excuse me? Did I hear correctly, Dr. Hahn, are you going to make the coin disappear?"
The kid's head poked out from behind her mother's torso for the first time, interest finally painting her eyes.
Erica seemed startled to find Callie there for a moment, than quickly recovered.
"Why yes. You heard correctly."
"Ooh, how exciting. I'd heard that some people are able to do that but I have never actually seen it done before, do you mind if I watch?"
"But of course, please have a seat." She said, adapting a foreign accent, and earning a giggle from both the mother and Callie in return. The little girl was a tougher crowd.
Erica held the coin in her right hand, holding it between her thumb and index finger.
"Now, please watch carefully. This coin will soon disappear from my hand and then re-appear on the most special person in the room. Here we go."
Looking like she was concentrating an awful lot, she brought her left hand to the right and took the coin into the closed palm of her left hand. Then holding out her fist she whispered. "Now for the most important part. For this to work, everyone has to blow on my fist and say 'abrah cadabra.' Can you do that?"
Callie went first, blowing and repeating the magical words. Then the mother, who had by this point caught onto the game, and finally-though a little reluctantly-the little girl.
Than Erica herself blew on her fist and said the words. When she opened her fist, the coin was nowhere to be seen. Surprised gasps filled the room. The little girl's eyes were now fully open, shining with interest, watching her every move.
Erica made as though she was feeling the energy around the room through her hands, first moving in front of Callie, than the mother than finally the little girl. She slowly reached towards the girl's ear, gently pulled on the lobe and than brought her hand back in front of her, where everyone could see it. This time between her fingers was the quarter that had disappeared.
Everyone clapped excitedly. "How did you do that?" The girl squeaked, too awed to remain silent.
Erica wiggled her eyebrows. "Magic."
After that the check-up went much more smoothly.
Callie watched as Erica took care of the girl. She had never seen Erica around children before, and somewhere deep inside she felt a frozen part of her melt at the scene. She was so good with the kid, so playful. It was beautiful really, and annoying at the same time. If she kept on finding new things she liked about Erica how was she supposed to be neutral about her? Because that was the point, wasn't it? To be neutral; absent of animosity or longing so that they could be colleagues and then perhaps one day, friends. Yes that was the point, and yet she couldn't help but wish that this moment, where she was inadvertently allowed behind the usual front Erica put up, could stretch out and hold them there for as long as possible.
"Julie, do you know how to read?" Erica asked, turning towards the girl.
Julie was as talkative as all little girls who discovered they had an attentive audience, now.
"I can read and write."
Erica opened her eyes wide, impressed. "Really? You must be very smart."
The girl nodded once again, looking proud. "I can count to 100." She said intent on listing all her accomplishments.
"Oh, wow, 100 is a big number. Can you, let's say, count to ten for me?"
She smiled like she had been waiting just for that and counted to ten in one long breath.
"Excellent." Erica praised and clapped. "You deserve a lollipop for that for sure." She looked back to the mother and asked "Can she have one before lunch?"
The mother nodded, smiling through grateful eyes.
Julie was beaming as she reached for her prize.
"What do we say?" the mother asked.
"Thank you" a tiny voice replied.
"You're welcome...now, let's see what else you can do, ahm" Erica pretended to be thinking. "Oh I know, although this is quite difficult "
"What?" Julie asked excitedly, eager to prove that she could, whatever it was.
"You see this finger?" she said holding up her pointing finger in front of Julie's eyes. "Now I'm going to move it around, like this, but you have to follow it with your eyes, and you can't turn your head around, just your eyes."
Julie did as she was told.
"That was easy." Julie said.
"Oh was it? Then let's find something harder." She said and carried on testing the child. After a short while they were done. Erica put down the leaflet she had been holding up and came to sit next to the girl on the bed.
"That was a lot of fun, Thank you." She said looking down at the kid.
Julie smiled up at her in delight.
"You know Julie, when I was little, I couldn't see leaves."
Callie had been standing on the other side of the bed, letting her mind wander, when Erica's word snapped her to attention. She felt herself straighten up and stopped herself just as soon as she had started moving; trying to avoid pulling any attention onto herself as Erica kept talking.
"When I went to a forest and looked up at trees all I saw were big green blobs. Can you believe that?" she asked in a sing song voice.
Callie couldn't believe what she was hearing. She thought back to the time she had first heard this story. How different it had sounded through Erica's tears; how profound a moment it had been. How utterly she had screwed it up. And now she was hearing it again, like she had heard it a million times in her head for months after Erica had left.
And yet, not like that at all.
Julie shook her head. "Why?"
"Because I needed glasses. But I didn't know I needed glasses. Than one day, after having headaches just like you, I went to a clinic just like this one, and a nice doctor in a white coat just like this told me that I couldn't see very well. That's why I had the headaches, she said and that's why I had to wear glasses, so that I wouldn't have head aches any more."
"And, and did you wear the glasses?"
"Yes I did."
"And then what happened?"
"And then, I could see leaves, and flowers and many other things that I didn't know existed."
"But you don't wear them now." Julie said.
"I don't any more, I had surgery..."
Callie briefly wondered if that was supposed to be some kind of a dig meant for her; if that meant that Erica was straight as an arrow now. Who knew? Anything could happen in the twilight zone, because that's where Callie had to be. What else could explain this out-of-this-world moment?
"But for many years I wore beautiful glasses. And I looked so cool, you should have seen it Julie."
"Big, thick ones like Grandma's?"
"No, small, colorful ones. There were many colors to choose from then; there are even more now-red, yellow, and pink glasses-Now you can have anything you want."
"And I won't have headaches if I have glasses too?"
"Exactly. You are a very smart little girl. Are you sure you're five? You must be at least seven."
Julie smiled shyly and when Erica reached to tickle the bottom of her feet, she giggled and laughed out loud. Both her mother and Erica joined in on her laughter. Callie stood there, watching, still in shock, trying to snap herself out of it.
"All right, here is what we will do. I have a very special friend, Doctor Johnson" Erica explained.
"Like the shampoo?"
Erica met Callie's eyes, her own eyebrows mirroring Callie's raised ones in surprise, and chuckled. The kid really did have a quick connective mind.
"Right, like the shampoo. He is going to come here and take you guys inside, where you're going to play a few more games. Okay? And then afterwards, you and your mom can go to the shop and pick any pair of glasses that you want, " She bent down to whisper the rest to her ear, though it was more a stage whisper at best. "and just between you and me, I have it on good authority that if you are a good girl, you can get another lollipop out of this deal, if you know what I mean."
Julie's eyes opened in excitement and she nodded eagerly.
Erica winked at her conspiringly and stood up.
"Thank you. Thank you so much Doctor." The mother came to shake her hand.
"My pleasure. You have a very bright kid right there."
"Dr. Johnson will be right in." She said, taking a few steps towards the curtain and holding it open she turned back to Callie, "Dr. Torres shall we?"
Callie blinked once. "Right." She quickly crossed the room, smiling to the girl and the mother on her way out.
"Say bye to the nice doctors Jules." The mother instructed.
Julie waved. "Bye to the nice doctors."
"Bye." Erica smiled, and followed Callie out.
They came to a stop by the nurses' station. Looking at each other and looking away, back and forth a few times between quick strained smiles, both stood around awkwardly, silently. It seemed now that they were alone; they had forgotten how to speak again.
In truth, despite wanting to prolong being near Erica, Callie couldn't think of anything to say to her. She was still trying to process hearing the leaves story. Could Erica have forgotten telling her about it? It didn't seem possible. Not when Callie remembered every word, every tear, every moment of that awful morning. Awful, because she had left her in that bed, weeping. And for what, so that Sloan could ease her panic? God, she had been so stupid. How many times she had relived that morning in her head. Doing things differently each time. Getting into bed with her, kissing away her tears, making love to her until neither one could even remember ever being upset. She had done it all, anything that would have stopped Erica from leaving. Of course reality was a different matter.
"You were " she mumbled, before she could think better of it.
"Hmm?" Erica looked up to meet her eyes.
Callie cleared her throat, smiled and tried again. "You were really good in there."
"Oh, thanks Thanks for coming in when you did."
She took a deep breath, "So it was just glasses she needed, after all." Callie squeaked, her throat tightening as she said it, her heartbeat tripling up and worst of all, her cheeks burning.
Erica looked at her for a long moment, her face indecipherable. Giving no clue as to what she was thinking; a long moment that kept on stretching and stretching, until finally she sighed and nodded once.
Callie's hands had gone clammy. She blinked once and swallowed. Another moment passed in trying silence and then, words left unsaid weighing heavily on her, she cleared her throat and aimed for lighter grounds.
"I didn't know that you knew magic tricks."
"It's not a trick. It's a ritual." Erica said, dead on.
"Ha right." Callie laughed and then smiled, too spontaneously for it to be strained.
And to her great surprise, Erica's eyes widened and before she could help it, she smiled too. Just a little bit. With just the tiniest curve of her lips and just the shine in her eyes, she smiled and Callie felt herself warm up. Like a ray of sun had just fallen on her.
Before she had the time to feel bad about feeling good because of Erica, some intern interrupted them.
"Dr. Connor needs you in the pit."
"Right Dr. Torres." she said, nodding once to Callie, as she started walking away.
"Dr. Hahn." Callie nodded as well, watching her leave.
Things were nowhere near great, she was still going through a range of uncontrollable emotions each time she saw her. But looking back at the little kid, sucking on her lollipop, Callie thought, at least they had reached some kind of truce for today.
For now, it was enough...
It was a start
The next two weeks passed very quickly for Callie. Work had built up during her absence and it seemed, since her return to full time, all she did was either operate, or fill out paperwork.
She didn't really have the time to think about Erica; if not thinking about her actually meant thinking about her all the time. She was still conflicted about her but at least somewhere along the way seeing Erica had stopped being painful. Gone were the uncomfortable, awkward encounters. Now each time they met, always for official business of course, they were actually friendly. Not overtly but friendly all the same. And sometimes they even spoke about things other than work. One time they had spoken about the weather and once about sunrise yoga, which was significant in itself, because Erica had said, "You still do that?" and that was the first time she had made a reference to their past.
If she was being honest with herself, Callie looked forward to those rare moments they spent together. In fact she often found herself walking up and down the hallways- inconspicuously, always maintaining a sense of purpose in her strait- subtly looking around for a familiar face. Her one consolation was that the walks had become a sort of a daily workout for her, and since she had no time to actually go to a gym, it all actually worked out quite well.
She felt like a student with a crush on the principal most of the time. It was forbidden, but it sure motivated her to work harder, faster and longer. She had always liked coming to work but now it was as though she couldn't wait to get there. Couldn't wait to find more challenging cases and get to work. Erica's presence was almost fueling her to be the best surgeon she could be.
Was it all a subconscious effort to impress her? Maybe or maybe just being around Erica was making everything in her life come to life. Like everything she wanted to achieve and be were coming into focus in big bright colors.
It was new and exciting that was for sure. And it had been a long time since she had felt genuine excitement about anything, or since she had met someone that could trigger a heartbeat with the mere thought or sight of them. Callie had grown accustomed to thinking of herself incapable of such feeling and just being able to experience that had Callie simply feeling good about herself. No matter what happened between them, at the very least, she knew that she owed Erica for that.
She was sitting in the lobby of the hospital waiting for her friends for the last fifteen minutes, when finally Lexie and Sloan walked out of the elevator.
"About time." She said, getting up to greet them.
"Sorry we're late. Mark was just being a little chicken."
"Hey." Mark grumbled, putting on his leather jacket.
"Cluck, cluck, cluck."
"What's going on?" Callie asked, amused.
"Dr. Sloany here is afraid of needles." Lexie teased, pulling on a green wool hat.
"Yes, you are."
"No, he's not." Callie supported.
"Oh please, he almost fainted, Betty was going to get his blood and you should have seen him, before she could come two steps in, he had turned completely white. Like egg-white."
"Ooh." Callie said, scrunching up her face and nodding once as understanding set in. Then she was shaking her head, "I've given him shots before, and it's not the needle."
"Thank you! I'm not afraid of a needle Lex."
"Baby, it's okay. You don't have to be tough. I love you just as you are."
"It's not the damn needle."
"It really isn't Lexie. I thought you knew this." Callie said, patting Sloan's back.
"What? What don't I know?"
"You can't make fun of me, it's a serious thing." Sloan pouted.
"I won't, I promise."
"It's the blood." Callie said gravely, trying to stop herself from smiling.
"It's the s-s-sucking of the blood through and out of my vein," Sloan interjected, making a slurping noise through the words and looking sick in the process. "S-sucking...out...my blood "
A long moment passed in silence, both Mark and Callie waiting for Lexie's reaction. And then Lexie, who was always so gentle and understanding, was busting out laughing. "Are you kidding?"
Her reaction was so funny that Callie couldn't stop herself either.
"Nice, very nice. Both of you." Sloan crossed his arms and looked away.
"I'm sorry. It's just, 'the s-s-sucking'?" Lexie asked, snorting through her laughter. Building up on each other, Callie and Lexie continued until they were bumping into and holding onto each other to remain standing and tears were running down their cheeks.
"Very mature is Sadie coming or what?"
"Here! Right here," Sadie's voice interrupted, as she joined them in the lobby. "Sorry, I was in Hahn's surgery. It ran a little late." She said, taking in the scene in front of her. "What did I miss?"
"Nothing." Sloan snarled, leaving no room for argument.
"O-kay." Sadie said, looking at Callie, with raised eyebrows.
"Later," Callie silently mouthed, trying to stop her chuckling.
The 'ding' of the elevator had them all turning around to see Erica walking up to them. She was wearing her beige overcoat, and carrying a Luis Vuitton briefcase in her hand. Callie instantly sobered up and straightening, ran a hand through her hair.
"Chief?" Sadie was the first to address her.
She acknowledged Lexie with a tip of her head and turned towards Mark and Callie, "Dr. Sloan, Dr. Torres." Her voice was the softest when she said her name and Callie felt herself smile in response.
"Hey." She said, her voice soft as well. "What's up?"
"I just wanted to let you know that I rescheduled Mr. Gibson's surgery to 12:30 pm tomorrow, instead of 8.00 a.m."
"How come?" Sloan asked.
"I want to give his body a few more hours to settle after today's ordeal. I was just with him and I think we should let him regain a little strength before we open him up again. Just to be safe."
"Yeah. Okay." Callie agreed. "That's a good idea."
"Sloan?" Erica asked.
"That's fine." He agreed.
"Alright. That's all I had to say, so I won't keep you. Have a good night."
"You too." Callie replied but before Erica could move away, Sadie cut in, "Hey Chief?"
"We're actually just going over to Joe's to have a drink." She said coming to stand next to Callie, and draping an arm over her shoulder, "You're welcome to join us if you'd like. Right guys?"
Erica's eyes followed Sadie's arm for a moment and quickly left it to settle on the group, expressionlessly.
After a quick moment of stunned silence Lexie answered for the group. "Of course. You should come, it'll be fun."
Erica looked around quickly and settled on Callie's eyes searchingly, "I um "
Callie shrugged and smiled shyly, letting her know that it was up to her.
"Come on." Sadie encouraged.
Erica looked up at Sadie and sighed. "I can't I'm sorry. I actually have a date" she cleared her throat, "with a number of dusty boxes. I haven't had a chance to unpack since I've been back, but thank you for the invite."
"Rain-check?" she asked, but her eyes were looking into Callie's.
Callie nodded once, and Erica gave her an almost invisible smile, but Callie saw it.
"Definitely." Sadie assured.
The group mumbled a jumbled "Goodnight." And then Erica was gone and Callie was turning to Sadie and rolling her eyes, "Smooth."
"Hey, it's all for you babe."
"Are we going or what?" Sloan asked, sounding bored.
"Let's," Callie agreed, linking her arm with Sadie's. "Let's have a drink."
They started walking out and then out of nowhere Lexie was doing the sucking-slurping sound again with her mouth, "s-sucking" which had Callie laughing again and Sloan storming up ahead of them. "That's it. You're sleeping on the couch tonight missy."
"Baby, I'm sorry." Lexie begged, running after him, though she was still chuckling. "I looove you!"
"That was such a rush."
Callie and Erica walked out of the OR together, riding the usual high that came after a particularly complex surgery. Everything had gone according to plan and, fingers crossed, Mr. Gibson would soon be walking out of this hospital. That was saying a lot for a patient who had been paralyzed for the better part of two years.
"Seriously, I'm getting addicted to these high intensity surgeries. Ever since you've been back it's like one after the other."
"Is that a good thing?"
"Are you kidding, it's a great thing. I'm having so much fun."
"Well I'm glad you're enjoying yourself, I don't know about everybody else but..." Erica trailed off, dropping her file onto the nurses' desk and giving Callie a look that said that she wasn't so sure.
"What are you talking about? Everyone I know is having a blast. Everybody is The whole hospital is buzzing with this energy. Everyday it's like, 'what's it gonna be next?' Just the other day Christina and I were talking about how much the hospital has already changed in such a short time." At Erica's raised eyebrows she added, "In a good way."
Erica smiled modestly, though it looked strained as though she knew something Callie didn't, and flipped a page, in an obvious effort to change the subject.
"No seriously Erica, I mean yes we are working harder than ever and yes the pressure of excellence is sometimes a little heavy on the shoulders, but it's also pushing people to be better. And the cases you've lined up are so interesting that I doubt anyone is complaining."
Erica smiled once again, this time more relaxed. "I'll take your word for it."
"You should. I'm telling you I'm having a great time and Christina is like orgasmic."
As soon as she said it, and saw Erica's eyes widen, she regretted her choice of words. This was not something you said to a mere colleague, though the more time they spent together the more she needed to remind herself of that fact. If she were honest, stopping from falling back to the way they used to be around each other-easy and uncensored- was proving to be almost impossible.
Cursing herself internally she felt her cheeks warm. Thankfully Erica simply laughed it off and continued as though she hadn't said anything out of the ordinary.
"Ha. That's because you and her are hardcore. Not everyone is like you Callie."
"Did someone say something to you?"
Erica shook her head. "No. I'm just saying that there are bound to be some people who don't like it or who can simply not handle it."
"And at least this way we find out who's really cut out for this job and who's not. A person can be really nice but that doesn't mean that he or she belongs here. "
"Right." Callie was growing more confused by the minute. At first it had seemed like Erica was in need of a little reassurance about running the hospital but now it felt like they were talking about something more specific. "Did something happen?"
Erica looked at her contemplatively for a long moment and then shook her head. "No. It's nothing; forget about it."
"Are you sure?"
"It's really nothing, just some administrative stuff on my mind." Smiling calmingly, she reached over and squeezed Callie's shoulder, "Don't worry about it."
It had been a reflex, a simple gesture meant to reassure, but it was also the first time Erica had touched her in three years. Feeling her strong, steady, and yet gentle grip on her shoulder had Callie's heart beat rushing. It seemed like every part of her body's awareness was directly focused on that one specific part where they were touching.
Like everything else was suddenly, unexpectedly blurry and the only clear thing was Erica's fingers on her shoulder. Her eyes had traveled down to take in the scene before she had the sense to feign disinterest. And then she was looking up into Erica's eyes.
But Erica wasn't looking at her. She was looking at her hand; her mouth open, her eyes helpless, like her hand wasn't a part of herself that she could control or pull back. Not for a long moment, not before her thumb very distinctly brushed over Callie's arm at least twice. Not before their eyes found each other and held painfully for the length of a breath.
Then Erica was pulling back and looking away. She cleared her throat and, crossing her arms in front of her, tucked her hand tightly under her arm, as though she was trapping the limb from fear of having it move again.
She looked so vulnerable that Callie found herself reaching over before she could stop herself. "Hey," she put her hand on Erica's locked arms. When Erica finally looked up to meet her eyes, she smiled and watched in amazement as Erica's lips slowly but surely curled up into a smile as well. Erica's arms loosened and she straightened up a little, looking more like herself.
After a long moment, Erica tipped her head, "I should get going; I have a consult."
"Later I was um, I was " she said, leaning onto the nurses desk, trying to look relaxed. "I was thinking of going to Joe's after my shift and um, I was wondering, maybe you "
"Callie?" The voice that interrupted Erica belonged to someone Callie knew, of that she was sure, and as she turned around to see who it was, all she could think about was how much the timing of this sucked.
"Jane? What-what are you doing here?"
"I had to see you, even if it was for just one more time."
"Huh?" Callie croaked, seeing no trace of humor on Jane's face.
"I want us to be together, I haven't slept since the day you left."
Callie was shocked into silence, and somewhere in the background she heard footsteps moving away but she couldn't look away from Jane who was looking desperate and on the verge of tears.
Only, after a long moment of tense silence, instead of crying Jane was bursting out laughing.
"Kidding. Ha ha, kidding that was such a 'Six Feet Under' moment."
"You know, the old HBO show, with Claire No? Right. Um I was kidding, I'm sorry I couldn't help myself, you looked so freaked there for a moment."
Callie let out a strangled, one-syllable laugh. "I, I wasn't freaked." She said, trying to regain her breathing; her stomach slowly letting go of her feet and climbing back to its original place from where it had fallen.
"Yeah, okay." Jane smiled, still chuckling. "That actually teaches me not to joke around, it's a defense mechanism, I'm sorry. I was nervous about coming here,"
"Anyway, I was doing my winter cleaning and I found something that belonged to you under my bed."
"And it did give me an excuse to see you, so I brought it over." She opened her bag and took out a little package that was gift-wrapped.
At Callie's raised eyebrows, she smiled and shrugged. "I didn't want it to look awkward, my giving you a pair of lace panties at your work."
"Thank you." Callie smiled, finally more amused than horrified.
"I would have called, but I didn't have your number, and I just remembered that you worked here Also, I do have to pick up my dry-cleaning from the laundry mat up the street so I was in the area."
"Thanks. You really didn't have to."
"Don't mention it." She said, waving a hand in dismissal. After a moment of silence, she gave Callie a strained smile, looking like she was starting to feel a little out of place now that she had delivered her package and there was nothing left to say.
"How have you been?" Callie asked, trying to make the moment a little less awkward for Jane.
"Oh, good. Great, same old same old, you know."
Callie raised her eyebrows again, grinning.
"Actually you don't know. But you know, good."
"How about you?"
Callie took in a deep breath, "I've been okay."
Callie smiled, "I've been " she thought about it for a minute and nodded, "Okay. Yeah, that's the right word."
"You look different."
"Well, I'm in my work clothes, so maybe that's it."
"Nah, that's not it."
"Hmm." She said, wondering how exactly she looked different. Had the last month, possibly the strangest month of her life left its mark on her face? Almost losing Maria, that had to have affected her in some subconscious way. Yes. And having Erica back in her life had changed her that was for sure. Probably in more ways than she even realized. She was having much less sex for one thing, or rather no sex at all. How long had it been since she had gotten any? Weeks, her mind supplied in astonishment. This was the longest she had gone without sex in a long, long time. But that couldn't be visible to the outside world, could it?
She smiled politely and shrugged.
Jane tipped her head and pulled her bag onto her shoulder. "Anyway gotta pick up my shirts before they close, so...."
"Yeah, okay." Callie nodded.
Jane took one step back and paused, "I'd say that my offer still stands, but something tells me that my chances are even lower now."
"What makes you say that?"
"Instinct Am I wrong?"
She was impressively perceptive. Callie couldn't deny that. And she was forthright and honest. All qualities Callie respected in a person.
Callie sighed and took a step closer to her, "Jane I really like you, I do. And I would love to get to know you better,"
"But," She said softly, with all the sincerity in the world, "can I do that as your friend?"
Jane chuckled once, shaking her head and smiling knowingly. And then shrugging, she nodded and let out a long breath. "Sure. Why not "
"Don't be sorry, friends are good."
"Yes. I'm sure."
"Great." She said, meaning it. Jane was interesting. She had thought that the first time she had met her and as long as Jane accepted where Callie stood, she would welcome the opportunity to get to know her.
"So, friend," Jane said, checking her watch, "you wanna get a cup of coffee?"
"What about the laundry mat?"
"It can wait."
Callie checked her watch as well and then looked back to where Erica had been standing. And even though she knew that she had left right after Jane had showed up, seeing the spot empty stung somewhere deep inside of her.
She has a consult, she reminded herself. That meant that Callie had two options.
She could either have a cup of coffee with this cool new person who gift-wrapped her underwear for her, or she could sit and stew, and over-analyze what Erica had been about to ask her, what that meant, and what she would have said.
She looked up at a hopeful Jane and smiled. She had time for coffee.
"Let's do it."
"Come on, I know a place."
They started walking towards the elevators side by side. After a moment, Jane turned towards her and playfully asked, "When you say friends, you don't mean friends with benefits do you?"
Callie was laughing and shaking her head when she walked into the elevator.
"I have to introduce you to a friend of mine. You guys are going to love each other."
Callie tried to see Erica that night, after her coffee with Jane, and when she couldn't; she tried the next morning too. But, all her efforts of trying to locate her proved to be fruitless.
After spending the next two days trying to find a suddenly invisible Erica, Callie's mood had plummeted, and whatever fleeting glee she had felt at the notion of reaching a non-hostile common ground with her had disappeared.
The few times she had caught glimpses of her had been of her quickly retreating back and in all honesty, as much as she appreciated the view, Callie was growing tired of the angle.
She had to be avoiding her; there could be no other explanation.
She walked up to the nurses' station and slumped next to Christina, "Hey."
Christina gave her a sideway glance, raised a single eyebrow, and went back to her scribbling. "You look happy."
"Hmm," She picked up her next case file, and started flipping through it. "Have you seen Hahn?"
"She was in my surgery this morning." Christina replied absentmindedly.
"What?" Callie felt her blood rushing, "Why didn't you tell me?"
"You should have called and told me!"
"And once again with the 'huh'?"
"I've been looking for her." Callie grumbled.
"You wanted me to call you to say that she was scrubbing in on my bypass?"
"Yes. I mean no "
"What's going on Cal?" she said finally, closing her folder and turning fully to her.
"It's nothing, I'm sorry. It's just I've been looking for her for like two days and it's driving me a little crazy."
"I see that." Christina said, nodding.
"She's avoiding me on purpose."
"You don't know that."
"Where is she then?" She asked, sure that she was right.
"Has something happened? Like between you guys?"
"No," she said firmly, "That's not it. We were just getting on speaking terms, you know and well we were speaking and, let's just say there was a misunderstanding."
"What kind of misunderstanding?"
"It's not important; I just have to see her."
"See who?" Sloan interrupted, suddenly appearing beside them.
"Erica." Callie clarified, "Have you seen her?"
"She was just here, like ten minutes ago."
"Great." Callie mumbled, "Everyone's seen her except me She is sooo avoiding me."
"If she is, you're lucky because she's got something stuck up her ass today." Sloan said, "I mean it, whatever it is that you need, wait till tomorrow."
"That's actually true." Christina agreed, "She was pretty cold this morning, like she had one of the interns in tears kind of cold."
"Really?" Callie asked tentatively, feeling oddly better at the idea that she might be feeling as crappy as herself.
Christina nodded, "Yep Anyway, I gotta run but we'll talk later?"
"What's up Ms. Torres?" Sloan asked, playfully after Christina left.
"Humph. What's up with you?"
"I know something that's gonna cheer you up."
"Oh?" she asked, doubtingly.
"Yes ma'am." Sloan nodded, looking like a kid with a gift hidden behind his back.
"What is it?"
"You remember my friend Thomas from M.D. News?"
"He wants to write an article on you for their next issue."
"Me?" She asked in surprise.
"Well, on female orthopedic surgeons really. How rare you guys are, etc."
"He wants you to be the star baby." He bumped her shoulder with his. "Gonna call you this week, I gave him your number."
"Ooh. Me like, thanks Mark."
"You're welcome Feeling better?"
She chuckled, "A little."
"Good," he smiled. "What's wrong with you anyway? Other than your weekly 'Erica drama'?"
She sighed, "Other than that, I'm good."
"Figures." He said, "I thought things were looking up."
"They were-they are. I don't know. I don't know what to think." She shrugged, leaning onto the station.
"Don't think. You're thinking too much, that's your problem."
"Yeah. Just get a room and do it already."
"Who said anything about doing it?"
"Oh please, who are you kidding?"
Callie couldn't reply to that. Instead she hushed him and tried to concentrate on her file. Before she could read more than two sentences however, Sloan nudged her with an elbow.
"There she goes now."
"Lucy," said Sloan, motioning behind her.
She quickly turned around to see Erica walking down the hall to the other side of the building. But no, she wouldn't be getting away this time, not if Callie could help it.
"Don't call her that." She said and rushed after her.
"Erica! Erica, hey."
Erica slowed to a stop after quite a few steps and half-committedly turned towards her.
"I've been looking all over for you." Callie said, sounding breathless.
"Why is that?"
She sounded cool and distant; her front fully in place. Callie felt herself tense at her tone.
"Um, I wanted to talk to you."
Everything in her body language was telling Callie to back off, but ignoring the signals Callie pushed forward. They needed to talk.
"Do you have time for a cup of coffee or something?"
"I don't; I'm sorry." She said sounding anything but sorry.
"Oh." Callie fidgeted, "How about later?"
"What is this concerning?"
"What do you mean?" she asked, feeling unsure and hesitant.
"Is it regarding a patient, or hospital business of any kind?"
"Um." Callie felt herself begin to sweat, "Not exactly."
"Then I'm afraid it's gonna have to wait."
"What if I make an appointment?" Callie joked, trying to lighten up the mood. Though, upon seeing Erica's blank stare she quickly regretted it. It was safe to say that Erica's sense of humor was far far away.
"Feel free to check in with my secretary for an opening." Erica said after a moment, "though I doubt she'll be able to tell you differently."
"Your secretary?" Callie asked, disbelievingly.
"Yes." She said and as though that was the perfect end to their conversation, turned to walk away.
"Erica!" Callie cried, shocked by her ridiculously fake demeanor.
Erica stopped and very slowly turned her head, "Was there something else Dr. Torres?" she asked as though talking with her was leaving a bad taste in her mouth. She sounded so condescending and above it all that Callie felt a burst of anger ignite in the pit of her stomach. Who was she to dismiss her? Who did she think she was?
Her shock promptly replaced with fury, she took a step back and, looking her up and down, slowly shook her head.
"No." she spit out, "Apparently not."
It was one in the morning and Callie's shift had just ended.
She walked into the on-call room and closed the door behind her. Later she would look back on this moment and realize that had she locked the door or even simply turned on the light in the room, she might have avoided what came next. But then she didn't know this and she did not do those things.
Instead, she walked into the far end of the room and took out her clothes from her bag. Then, she pushed off her sneakers with her toes, pulled off the navy scrubs she was wearing and threw them over the bars by the foot of the bed. As she did this, her wrist hit the corner of the bar and her bracelet came free, falling onto the floor.
She had just knelt down to pick it up when the door suddenly opened to let someone in. Though she wasn't one to mind being almost naked in front of others, she still didn't wish to be so in front of just anyone, so she did the first thing that came to mind. She held still, her crouched body already hidden to view behind the bunk bed, and waited.
Footsteps came closer and then the bed made a creaking noise, letting her know that the new occupant of the room had just sat down on it. Callie slowly stole a glance and felt her breath catch in her throat.
Erica, of all people, was sitting on the bottom half of the bunk bed right in front of her. She leaned forward, resting her head in her hands and sighed. She looked exhausted, drained.
Callie knew that she was prying on a private moment but she couldn't pull her eyes away. Seeing Erica unguarded and vulnerable had always been addictive to Callie and this time was no different.
Almost a minute passed in silence. This was going to be more awkward than flashing a stranger Callie realized with each passing second but unfortunately it could not be avoided. Sooner or later she was going to have to get up and the longer she waited, the more awkward it was going to be when Erica noticed her. With that in mind, she tried to reach for her jeans, hoping to at least get them on before making her presence known to Erica, a task she failed miserably when her belt buckle rattled loudly in the move.
Erica jumped off the bed in alarm and turned on the lights.
"Is someone there?"
"Erica." Callie croaked, poking her head out, looking as apologetic as she could manage.
"Jesus Callie! You scared me half to death."
"What are you doing there?"
"Oh god, I didn't realize," she gasped, catching glimpses of naked flesh, when Callie finally inched forward and came out of her hiding.
"I'm sorry, I'll go " Erica said, looking around the room in reflex and then shaking her head self-beratingly and closing her eyes. She scrunched up her face trying not to see anything and hurried towards the door.
"No, wait!" Callie cried, halting Erica's steps. "I'm alone!"
Erica paused by the door, head hanging low. The way she blew out her breath confirmed that Callie had been right in her suspicion. Erica had thought that there was someone else in there with her.
After a long moment of silence, Erica lifted her head up and turned back to face her.
"I was just changing, I-I thought you'd left," Callie mumbled, picking up her jeans, feeling extremely self-conscious under Erica's un-breaking gaze.
"No, I was " Erica cleared her throat, looking straight at her, "no."
"I'll be out of here in two minutes and you can have the room,"
Erica nodded, "Hot date?" she asked, through tight lips, anger flashing momentarily across her face.
Callie halted her fingers on the buttons of her jeans. "It's one in the morning,"
"Right." Erica looked away, her brows knitted, her face flushed.
She looked like she was fighting an internal battle, like she couldn't decide if she wanted to be nice or mean to Callie; like she couldn't decide if she wanted to look at or away from Callie.
They had to talk about the other day, about Jane. They had to talk about a lot of things, Callie remembered. She pulled on her shirt and, before buttoning it, took a step forward. "Erica?"
Erica looked up, hearing her name and then down again, her eyes slowly roaming all over Callie's form, from her bare feet to her legs, from her hands hanging freely on her sides to her barely concealed belly. And finally from her black bra that left absolutely nothing to the imagination to her eyes, her eyes traveled. She swallowed once and squeaked, "Yes?" and took a step back in reflex. Her back hit the door and she looked trapped for a moment, and then looking like she wasn't sure if she had spoken out loud before, repeated, sounding hoarse, "Yes?"
Callie didn't know what made her do it, when there was already so much tension in the room, when she was already feeling hot and bothered just by having Erica look at her, but she took another step forward to stand right in front of her. Feeling her pulse ring in her ears and breathing heavily, she gasped, "You okay?"
Erica nodded slowly, her mouth falling open. Her eyes falling on Callie's lips, as Callie's fell on hers. They were standing very close, too close; Callie realized when she felt Erica's warm breath on her face.
"Long long day I " Erica trailed off, licking her lips. Her face looking as helpless as it had looked when she had touched her shoulder. More.
Then out of nowhere Callie had a name for what she was seeing on Erica's face. She had seen it there before, be it a long time ago, and recognized it for what it was; desire. She licked her own dry lips at the realization, looking deeply into half dilated-blue eyes and drowning in them.
She tried to hold still but felt herself come closer inch by inch, like she was being pulled in by invisible strings.
"Don't," Erica gasped, looking more powerless by the second.
"What?" Callie breathed, feeling drunk with her smell-peaches- her eyes narrowing on their own, getting lost in Erica and trying for words, "What shouldn't I " she trailed off, resting her forehead against Erica's, her lips a breath away from hers, breathing her in.
"I can't "Erica whimpered, closing her eyes, shaking her head, looking like she was in pain, "stop." And then suddenly, she was kissing Callie. Callie's shirt balled up in her fists, Erica was pulling her in and kissing her, in hunger, in starvation; licking, sucking, biting. A strangled noise broke free in the back of someone's throat. Both were too far gone to care who.
Then, as though the battle inside Erica had suddenly come to an end, she was grasping Callie's arms to reverse their positions so that now Callie was trapped against the door.
The kisses were wet, sloppy, and dominating and they were getting more and more heated as other body parts started getting involved.
Callie went with it at first, clinging to the feeling of ecstasy, of being able to touch Erica again, to taste her but then somewhere in the back of her head she heard the tiny voice that said this was wrong and tried to calm down. A notion that was becoming impossible with each passing second. "Erica," she whispered, pulling back. Erica leaned forward and recaptured her lips, resting her weight on Callie as Callie's back settled firmly on the door. Swallowing her words, she lodged her knee between Callie's thighs. Callie couldn't help the moan that escaped her throat, as their thighs intertwined.
"Yess," Erica hissed, sucking and licking her throat, one of her hands on Callie's ass, the other on her breast, kneading urgently.
It was too quick, too rough, too much.
"Wait," She gasped trying to get her attention, pulling back, trying to look into her eyes. But the more Callie pulled back, the more Erica came forward and their eyes did not meet.
Callie could feel her body becoming boneless under Erica's attentions, but her mind wasn't playing along.
"Err...we have to stop" Callie groaned as Erica, looking famished and predatory, started a decent down her body with her lips.
"Erica," she breathed.
When Erica, mindless, fell onto her knees and cupped Callie's breasts with both of her hands, Callie threw her head back in reflex and gasped, "Oh God."
She couldn't think, she could hardly breathe. She was two seconds away from losing control, but then Erica kissed her belly and unbuckled her belt and freed the buttons of her pants and pulled on her panties with her teeth and Callie remembered.
This was Erica about to go down on her. They had barely done that when they were together. This wasn't some one night stand, some quickie in the on-call room. This was Erica for Christ's sake.
Before she could get any further, Callie forcefully pushed on Erica's shoulders and moved out of her reach.
"WHAT?" Erica cried, falling back on her ass, looking up with wide, dilated eyes. She was rubbing her bottom, where it had made rough contact with the floor.
"No. Not like this, not with you." Callie gasped, trembling, covering her eyes with her palm, trying to get her breathing under control.
"Why not me? The way I heard it, you fuck every woman that crosses your path." Erica snapped, standing up, breathing heavily, her face flushed with unstated arousal and annoyance.
Callie felt her stomach drop. She took a deep breath, trying to steady her pulse.
"Don't be mean Erica."
"I'm not being mean. Seriously, I'm curious; I want to know why you can screw all of them but not me."
Callie turned away from her, walking into the room, trying to put some distance between them.
"I mean, you're the talk of the corridors. Your date and tell list reads like a book. Is there actually anyone left in the hospital you haven't slept with?"
"Stop it," Callie begged. She couldn't believe what was happening; she couldn't believe what she was hearing. And the worse part was that Erica looked like her words were hurting her more than they were hurting Callie, and yet she wouldn't stop speaking.
"Tell me," Erica insisted, following her, her voice rising with each word.
Callie shook her head, feeling trapped, not wanting to speak when she couldn't control herself. Erica grabbed hold of her arm and shouted, "Tell me damn it, why them and not me?"
"Because you could break me!" Callie cried finally, her eyes wild, throwing daggers. "You've done it before."
Erica let go of her arm, taking a step back involuntarily. Breathing heavily, watching her through wide eyes.
After a moment of studying her, her face went sour and she barked out, "Hah!" A single, harsh syllable of laughter.
"You think that's funny?"
"What did I ever do to you?
"You left!" Callie shot out. Erica bowed her head.
"One disagreement, one issue at work and you were gone. Just like that."
Erica looked up sharply, her eyes darkening in an instant.
"One argument with the chief, over Stevens of all people, and you left."
"Don't be stupid Callie; I didn't leave because of Stevens. I left the hospital because of that. Not you."
"What are you saying Erica, that you didn't want me?"
Erica laughed out loud then. Shaking her head, looking like this was the funniest thing in the world, her laughter sounding loud and maniacal as it echoed through the walls of the on-call room.
"That's just it," She said still chuckling. "It's the opposite." She took a deep breath and suddenly her whole demeanor changed; sobered, looking small and fragile, she breathed, "You didn't want me."
She turned her back to Callie, took a few steps towards the door and stopped, looking down at the floor.
"You slept with Sloan. After we made love, and I told you that you changed my life, you went and slept with Sloan." She looked over her shoulder to meet Callie's eyes- her own eyes filling with unshed tears- and smiled sadly, "Twice...I know you may not have been ready, or you were scared or whatever But I was there; I was all the way there for you. And you Callie, you didn't break me, you shattered me."
She took the final step and reached the door. Right before she opened it and walked out, she whispered, without looking back;
"And the sad joke is, after all this time, you still can."
You didn't break me, you shattered me.
Long after Erica left, Callie-frozen into place in the suddenly gloomy on call room, staring at the bleak white door that had shut on her face with a force that had shaken her deep down- could still hear the words echo in her head.
And later when she was home and she got out of the shower and wiped the mist off the mirror to see her own miserable reflection, and she traced her lips with her fingers- her mind getting lost in where they had touched before- she could still hear her.
She fell asleep with it and woke up with it.
And when she walked through the corridors of the hospital and later, after much circling, when she found herself standing in front of Erica's office she could still hear it.
Callie had to talk with Erica. Leaving things as they had it was painful. Literally, physically painful. She didn't think that a single free breath had entered her body since the night before.
The only sliver of hope she had, the only thing that pushed her forward was that Erica had said, "you still can." That had to mean that Erica still cared. Cared enough to hurt. And if Callie still had the power to hurt Erica then she had to believe that she might have the power to mend her as well. She could mend her, and herself. She could mend 'them' and maybe become an 'us' again. If Erica gave her half a chance, if only
Callie took a deep breath and, saying a silent prayer, knocked on the door.
There was no answer.
She tried again, "Erica?" Cracking the door open, she poked her head into the room to see it empty.
Her heart falling, she closed the door and leaned against it. Sighing, she checked her watch; it was 7.00 am. Perhaps coming to her door first thing in the morning hadn't been the best idea. Who knew when Erica would be arriving.
Still, she couldn't bring herself to walk away. Five minutes turned into ten and ten into twenty before she could convince herself to move. And when she did push off the wall and made her way to the bridge, she was distracted enough not to notice her surroundings for a few steps. But then she heard a startled intake of breath and looked up. Straight into Erica's eyes.
By the looks of it, Erica had just arrived in the hospital. She was wearing her beige coat still, her leather bag was hanging over her shoulder. A briefcase in one hand and a coffee in the other, she looked down for a moment and started walking towards her.
Callie took a few steps forwards as well and they stopped in front of each other.
"Hi." She croaked.
"Hi." Erica said, sounding soft and sad at the same time, the tone piercing at Callie's heart.
"I was I was looking for you." Callie said, motioning towards Erica's office.
"Can we " she checked her watch, she was already late for an appointment and at this rate she was going to be late for a surgery as well. She didn't have enough time to say all the things she wanted to say. But still she had to say some of them. "Can we talk?"
Erica nodded. "Sure." She bent down resting the briefcase on the floor. "Of course."
So they were going to this here, in the middle of the bridge. Great. Callie gave her a strained smile. "Great", she whispered. "Ahm.. I About last night-"
Erica straightened and cut her off with a hand. "Callie. Before you say anything, I want you to know that I'm very sorry about last night."
Callie looked up and blinked, "You are?"
"Yes, very much so. I don't know what came over me, I just I want you to know that whatever it was, it's gone now."
"It is?" Callie asked weakly.
"Yes, so you don't have to worry." Erica assured.
"Worry." Callie repeated, feeling her stomach drop, taking her resolve down with it. This wasn't the conversation she'd thought they were going to have.
"It won't happen again," Erica promised, unknowingly sucking the wind out of Callie's sails even more.
"Oh," Callie croaked, nodding. "Right."
"So," Erica smiled politely, nervously. "Are we okay?"
Callie knew it was her turn to say something, but she found that she couldn't say a thing. Her mouth wasn't cooperating with her mind, or rather her mind hadn't caught up with Erica's line of thought enough to give her mouth the necessary signal for speech. So she just stood there, her eyes wide, gently moving her head up and down-though not enough for it to be counted as nodding.
Erica continued speaking through her silence.
"I know that we were making progress, before this whole thing and I really would like us to be friends again."
"Friends " Callie repeated, feeling the blood drain from her face.
"Let's just forget about last night, okay? Can we do that?"
Callie looked up into Erica's eyes, not knowing what to say. Trying to decipher the meaning of her words. Erica often put a front on, saying things she might not necessarily mean out of one reason or another. And for the life of her, Callie was praying that this was one of those times. She looked into her eyes long and hard, searching for something-anything- that would let her know that this was one of those times. Because surely she couldn't mean what she was saying. She couldn't really want to be just her friend. She couldn't want to forget the night before; The touch of their lips, the scent of their skin, the fit of their bodies against each other. She couldn't want to forget those things, could she?
Before she could find an answer to her own question or answer Erica's, the vibration of her beeper pulled her out of the debts of Erica's eyes. This was the second time it was beeping, there had to be some kind of an emergency. She pulled it out of her scrub pants and read the screen. It really was an emergency. Holding up the gadget, she shrugged and shaking her head-frustrated- met Erica's eyes. "I'm sorry, I have to go."
"You did good work in there, Torres." Derek Shephard praised, untying her back, helping her take off the yellow plastic overall.
"Thanks, you too." She said, helping him in return.
Throwing the plastic gloves into the trash, she leaned forward and started the process of washing up. Her eyes kept on wandering back over to the patient lying on the operating table, on the other side of the window. Meredith was putting the final touches on him.
It was incredible really-Him being alive.
After five hours of standing over the man, her hands deep in his body, fearing that at any moment his heart was going to give up, she couldn't help but feel awed by his resilience.
The chances of him making it through the surgery had been at the very most abysmal and yet here he was alive and closed up and looking like he was going to make a full recovery.
If that wasn't proof that impossible cases could be made possible, she didn't know what was.
Drying her hands, she sighed and with her new breath felt herself fill with a new sense of resolve. If a guy could drive his car under a truck, get dragged for hundreds of meters, crunched in a steel accordion- breaking most of his bones- and still survive then she could survive whatever Erica threw her way. Callie decided then and there, she wasn't going to give up without a fight. No matter whom she had to fight, Erica or herself.
She pulled off her lucky cap, put it in her pocket and walked out of the O.R.
Taking her steps two at a time, she rushed through the corridors. Spotting Lexie by a nurse's station, she quickly made her way towards her. "Hey Lex,"
"Hey, pretty lady."
"Have you seen Hahn?"
"Kay, thanks," she said, turning to move away.
"Mark was looking for you."
"I think he wants to talk to you about my party."
"Hah," Callie chuckled, "isn't that supposed to be a surprise?"
Lexie wiggled her eyebrows mischievously. Callie patted her shoulder, shaking her head. "I'll see you later." she said and walked on.
Her search of the cafeteria proved to be fruitless. Erica wasn't in her office.
Neither was she in the lobby. And as far as Callie knew, she wasn't scrubbing in on any surgeries either. Callie felt her frustration grow by the minute and then just as she was about to give up, she spotted her in the clinic talking to Christina.
She took a deep breath, reminded herself to be cool and started to move forward. She walked up to the pair and cleared her throat.
"Excuse me." She said, "Hey," she acknowledged Christina with a nod and turned towards Erica. "Dr. Hahn, can I talk to you for a minute?"
"What is it?" she asked, professionally.
"Privately." Callie urged.
"I'm in the middle of something Dr. Torres."
"I know, I'm sorry, but it'll just be a minute You don't mind Christina, do you?"
"No, go ahead." Christina said, taking a step back.
"Excuuuse me?" Erica exclaimed incredulously.
"Thank you." Callie smiled at Christina, and taking a hold of Erica's arm, moved her towards the stairs.
"What are you doing?" Erica asked, trying to keep up with Callie's steps.
Callie pushed through the door that let them out to the stairs and let go of her arm. The door shut behind them, leaving them alone on the wide steps.
"Have you lost your mind?" Erica cried, trying to regain her composure.
"Possibly." Callie said under her breath, and took a deep breath. "We need to talk."
"What? What is so important?"
"You asked me a question, and I want to give you an answer. And I couldn't wait any longer."
"No. My answer is no."
"What are you talking about?" Erica asked, clearly not following.
Callie swallowed, and blew out a frustrated breath. "This morning," she clarified.
Erica looked like she had just been slapped. "Oh," she croaked.
"You asked me if we could forget about last night, if we could be friends and my answer is no."
Erica looked at her for a long moment, and than her anger at being handled visibly drained out of her face to be replaced with an expression of hurt. And then, she looked down in defeat, her brows knitting together, her lips thinning into a white line.
"We can't be friends." Callie declared, firmly. "Not after last night."
Erica, her eyes fixed on a spot on the floor, fidgeted, her voice taking a broken quality, "Callie " she began, and then stopped, seemingly at a loss for words.
"Look at me," Callie ordered softly. Erica didn't comply, keeping her head hanging low, her eyes hidden from view.
Callie took a step forward and reached out to gently touch Erica's chin, "Please..." she whispered. Erica looked surprised, more than anything, by her touch- by her tone. And finally raised her eyes to meet Callie's, confusion clearly written all over her face.
"The way you taste, the way you feel in my hands when I touch you, the way I feel when you touch me These aren't things I can forget, Erica." Callie breathed leaning close enough to breath her in. "I don't want to forget. I don't want to be your friend."
"What do you want from me Callie?" Erica gasped, sounding desperate.
"Everything." Callie breathed, closing the final distance between them and resting her forehead against Erica's. Putting her hands on her arms. They both sighed at the contact. Standing still for a long silent moment. "But I'll take a date for starters."
Callie pulled back to look into her eyes, "Go out with me. Tonight. Food, drinks whatever you want. Just so long as we can be together and we can talk."
Erica stared at her with wide eyes. Questioningly, confusedly. Looking like she was trying to figure out if Callie was serious or not.
Callie looked back, unblinking. Confidently, unwaveringly. She had never been so serious in her life.
After a long moment, Erica's eyes softened a little bit and she lowered her face shyly, "I can't tonight. There's a conference "
"Tomorrow then." Callie jumped in quickly, feeling her heart start summersaults in her chest. Be cool, be cool.
Erica looked up again, and let her lips curl up into a tiny smile at Callie's enthusiasm. And then, just like that, the most amazing thing happened; she nodded. "Okay."
Callie felt herself smiling, "Okay?" she asked, making sure that she heard her right.
"Okay." Erica repeated, blushing.
"Okay. Good." Callie said, feeling light and charged with a sudden burst of energy. "Great. Excellent."
Erica smiled back, full-fledgedly now.
Callie's face mirrored hers all the way. "So we'll talk. Make arrangements?" she asked shyly.
"Uhm hum." Erica confirmed.
"Okay, good." She took a step back. "Ah I'll see you later then?"
Callie smiled again, feeling like a kid. She looked at the door and then, before she could stop herself, leaned forward and kissed Erica on the cheek. And, of all things she said, "Thank you."
As the words left her mouth, she heard them and cringed inwardly. Thank you? So un-cool.
But Erica gasped in surprise and laughed. She actually laughed, which was worth all the embarrassment thank you caused.
She stood there for a while just watching Erica's smile, taking it all in, this sense of cautious beginning. Awed by the incredibility of feeling shy again, after all that they had been through, after all they had put each other through.
Feeling great about having taken a chance and even better about Erica not leaving her hanging, Callie took a step back. "Okay, bye" she said after another stolen moment, moved towards the door and waved on her way out. Actually waved. She was turning into an adolescent. There was nothing she could do about it.
Oh hell, who cared She had a date with Erica freaking Hahn.
"When was the last time you went on a date?" Christina asked, reclining on Callie's bed, watching her change into yet another outfit.
"An actual date?" Callie held up two shirts, one black and one navy, with a questioning look in her eyes.
Christina pointed to the black one, and popped a piece of popcorn into her mouth.
"A long time ago."
She buttoned up the black shirt, pulling her hair free, and looked at the mirror. She was wearing dark navy jeans and a satin black shirt that left a good amount of cleavage to the view. "What do you think?"
"It's okay...let's see the other one."
"The shirt or the jeans?"
"I don't even know where to take her," Callie complained, changing her shirt. "I guess we could go to Mario's."
"Italian is good. It's a safe bet."
"Yeah, but, is it boring?"
"Not really, it's a nice place."
"It is right?"
"How about this?" She asked, standing in front of Christina. The navy shirt fit well with her figure, but was relatively more conservative.
"It's nice," Christina nodded, "colors look really good on you."
"You think?" she fidgeted in front of the mirror, "Maybe I should try the black pants with it again."
Callie walked into the closet and shouted back "What about Paper Moon?"
"Really trying to impress her aren't you?"
Callie poked her head out, "Why? Is it too fancy?"
Christina just stared back at her. Callie rolled her eyes, "Fine, it's too fancy." she went back into the closet. "Then you come up with something."
This date was too important to screw up. She flipped through her hangers looking for the right fit. The right clothes, the right restaurant, every little detail counted. And for one time in her life Callie wanted everything to be perfect. Not just good, not just great, but perfect. How the date itself actually went would be up to Erica and her of course, this she knew. But still, she figured, preparing for it couldn't hurt.
"Just take her someplace you like."
"No seriously," Christina carried on, "What's your favorite restaurant? If you take her somewhere you like, you'll be comfortable and so will she."
That made sense. She poked her head out once again, "There actually is a little Thai place that I kinda love. Very small, like ten tables at the most, but very cute and cozy, and great food. They make this pad-Thai that just melts in your mouth,"
"Sounds great..." Christina salted her popcorn and started shaking the bucket, "I went to a place just like that the other week with Owen."
"Yeah, right off of Main Street; you take a left from the gas station."
"Girl, that's the place I'm talking about. With the thingy hanging from the ceiling."
"Yesss." Callie chuckled, "I can't believe you know it. Nobody knows this place; it's so hidden from the street. But once you go in..."
"It's like a gem of a place."
"It so is," Callie nodded with a smile, returning to her search inside the closet.
"And it's romantic, with the little lights on the walls. Not too fancy, not too casual. Just go there."
"Yeah, for sure."
"Okay," she said, feeling happy with that choice, "I think I will."
"You know, you're not bad at this," Callie said, poking her head out once again, while trying to get into a pair of pants.
Christina looked up at her suspiciously, "Oh?"
"Yeah, I think you have a future here. Giving dating advice to singles everywhere, what to wear - where to go,"
"Ha ha." Christina said dryly.
"We can open up a place, Dr. Yang's Love House, and you can make a lot of money."
"Creative," Christina mumbled, shaking her head.
"You don't even have to quit your day job," Callie continued, getting really into it now. "Dr. Christina Yang, fixing hearts during the day and broken hearts at night."
"Aha," Christina replied sarcastically, amused against her better judgment. "You're wasting your talents Cal, I had no idea you had such an imagination."
"Admit it, it sounds kinda catchy."
"Are you about done in there?"
"Yes, yes I am," Callie chuckled, "and I think I found what I'm wearing."
"Let's see it then."
"Ok, I'm coming out."
"She says from the closet," Christina mumbled.
"Funny." Callie walked back into the room. "Who's the creative one now?"
She was wearing black pants, a burgundy satin shirt, and her signature leather jacket. Her high heeled boots added a few inches to her height and her hair was left hanging over her shoulders. She reached over to the table and picked up a pair of hoop earrings, put them on, and turned towards Christina, "So, what do you think?"
Christina smiled and nodding her head appreciatively, "You look nice."
Callie opened her eyes wide, "Just nice?"
"Great, spectacular, breath-taking."
Callie smirked, "Better."
Callie walked into the Thai restaurant ten minutes early. She took off her knee length black jacket and quickly checked her reflection in the mirror at the entrance. Her green satin dress-a last minute impulse she had decided to heed- fit her body nicely. Her hair was tied up in an elegant ponytail and she had on a pair of dangling diamond earrings in her ears. She had spent an extra five minutes with her eyeliner and mascara and as a result her eyes looked bigger and darker than ever. The light brushes of color were evenly distributed between her cheeks accentuating her cheek bones and giving her a healthy glow. And her lips, wearing a layer of rich, light catching lip-gloss, shone proudly. After a quick glance at her cleavage she took a deep breath. Everything was where it should be, she looked ok, she looked good; she could do this.
She walked up to the maitre'de, an older Asian woman, who smiled at her welcomingly. "Good evening," the woman said in an even and jovial tone.
"Hello," Callie replied, smiling back. "I have a reservation for Torres, for two at eight o'clock."
Meeting at the restaurant had been Erica's idea. Callie had called her in the afternoon to finalize their plans. "Where can I pick you up?" she had said, and Erica had suggested that they meet at the restaurant instead of Callie coming to her home or even just meeting in the lobby of the hospital. Though Erica hadn't said it, Callie guessed that Erica didn't want to start the gossip mills in the work place when there was barely anything between them to gossip about.
Perhaps she had a point. Callie wanted to believe that Erica's caution wasn't a negative indication of anything. And so even though Callie didn't give a damn about what people said; even though she would have liked to have seen where Erica lived, she hadn't pushed. Because she sensed that she had to walk a very thin line between pushing and not pushing Erica, this time around; if she wanted to keep her in the game. Not that this thing between them was a game. Callie chuckled humorlessly; no, Callie knew that this couldn't be further than a game if it tried.
The woman looked down at her list and checked off a name. "Yes, I have you right here, if you'll follow me."
"Sure," Callie said, trailing the woman's steps, "has my friend arrived yet, or?"
"No, you're the first one dear."
"Right," Callie said, sitting down at the appointed table, "thank you."
"Have a nice evening."
It was good that she was early, she could settle, relax, and watch Erica as she walked towards their table instead of the other way around. She looked at her watch, 7:56 pm.
In a few minutes Erica would arrive and their second first date would officially begin. Callie hoped that the air between them wouldn't be too awkward. In fact she'd make sure that it wasn't. If all else failed she'd talk about the weather, no erase that, she would talk about work. Work was a comfortable enough topic to talk about, safe and relevant. Or she could talk about her life these past three years, though what was there to say, really.
At some point, she figured, she might have to talk about her feelings; that Erica would expect her to talk about her feelings, but that was better left for later. One had to warm up to conversation before baring one's soul, didn't she? Yes, as late as possible in fact. Perhaps she could even leave it for another day. That would be good, she thought, though highly unlikely to happen. Erica wouldn't let her get away with that. Not that she was trying to get away with anything, but it was scary, that was for sure. What if Erica didn't like what she had to say, or what if she said something she didn't mean by mistake and lost the one and only chance Erica had obviously given her? Because that much was obvious; Erica wouldn't be giving her any more chances if she screwed this one up.
She shook her head from side to side in reflex. No she wouldn't think about that, she couldn't think about that. She would see how things went and she would take it easy and everything would be fine.
Perhaps she could talk about movies and books and such. Those were safe enough, though the last time she had read something un-related to work was she couldn't even remember when that was. In her free time she often went to bookstores and picked up a few novels that she thought she'd like but she never seemed to have the time to actually read them. A holiday would be the perfect time to read and she honestly believed that she would at least get to a few of those books on her to-read shelf at home, then. Whenever 'then' might be.
Maybe she could go away for Christmas after all. Though how good of an idea was it to leave town when things were just starting up between her and Erica, if that's what was happening. Not very, her mind offered. Then again, if things did start up, and things went great then maybe they could go somewhere together. Like to Paris or Rome or something like that. Was that rushing things? Probably; she shouldn't be doing that either, she knew. She had to sit back, relax, and not think about the future or the past, she had to concentrate on the now. Wasn't that what her yoga teacher was always telling her? And going away to Europe together after just one date would definitely be considered rushing things. Maybe they could go to Martha's Vineyard instead.
"Would you like to drink something while you wait?"
She let out a startled gasp as she looked up at the waiter that had suddenly appeared by her side.
"Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to "
"It's okay," Callie cut him off, "my fault really, my mind was off somewhere"
He smiled at her understandingly. "No problem, so, can I get you anything?"
"Um," she checked her watch, and her eyes widened in surprise, "just water, please."
"Sure, I'll be right back."
It was almost ten past eight. That was unusual, especially for someone as punctual as Erica; although these things happened to everyone at some point or another. You intended to get somewhere right on time, and despite all your good intentions sometimes things came up that were simply unavoidable. Being a doctor, Callie knew that better than anyone. A last minute patient, traffic jam, hell, a bad hair day was enough to make Callie late to most things. So what if Erica was a little late.
"Here you go." The waiter placed the glass of water next to her plate.
"Let me know if you need anything else."
She took a sip of her cold water and then reached down into her bag to retrieve her cell phone. There were no text messages on the screen, but just to make sure she dialed her mailbox and listened for new messages. There weren't any. Good, she told herself; that meant that Erica would be here at any minute. She was probably lost and trying to find the place. Callie cursed her own stupidity for not taking Erica to a place that she knew, or at the very least for not giving good enough directions. It was probably her fault that Erica was now going around in circles trying to find the hidden restaurant.
She took another sip, then another and finally finished the whole glass. She had said 'the gas station off of Main Street," hadn't she. Cause there was another gas station down by Taylor Street, and Callie hadn't specified that it was the 'Shell' gas station. Maybe she should call and clarify. On second thought, by the time she called her, Erica would probably walk through the door. And either way it was too late now, by this time Erica would have already gone to the other gas station, looked across, figured out that she was in the wrong place and would be on her way back here. All Callie had to do was wait, and when Erica arrived she'd apologize for giving crappy directions. The poor woman was obviously lost.
Ten minutes later, Callie wasn't so sure of that anymore. This was beyond unusual now, and even if Erica was lost, by now, she would have called Callie to let her know. Callie tried not to think of possible disaster scenarios but as the minutes ticked on by; she found that harder and harder to do. What if Erica had fallen and broken something. What if she had gotten into a car accident? What if she was hurt or injured someplace, and here Callie was waiting for her to show up; only Erica wouldn't be showing up, because she was in a hospital bed somewhere. Argghh, Callie had to stop watching crappy television.
She tried calling Erica's cell phone and was forwarded to her voicemail. "Hey Erica, it's 8:20 at the moment, and I'm in the restaurant. Um, I'm worried about you, please call me when you get this. I'll be waiting," she said into the phone, and just before hanging up, added, "It's Callie by the way."
By 8:27 pm Callie had already called the hospital and learned that Erica had left at seven as she had said she would, and hadn't been heard from since. Callie held up an arm and called the waiter over.
"Excuse me, can you tell me, what time do you have? I think my watch might be going a little out of whack."
"It's exactly 8:30 pm ma'am." The waiter provided.
"Right, right, thanks." That wasn't what she wanted to hear, "Um, may I have a glass of wine, please."
"Of course; red or white?"
"Would you like to see the list?"
"Just bring me whichever you think is best."
"All right, I'll be-"
"Right back, yes."
By 8:45 pm, Callie had downed three glasses of wine and had resigned to the fact that Erica wasn't coming. At least that fact was clear; although the reasons were not. Maybe Callie had pushed too far when she had said that she wanted everything from Erica. Maybe Callie had cornered Erica on the stairwell and Erica had had no choice but to say yes at that moment; then later had thought better of it and hadn't known how to tell Callie. Maybe she had taken one more look at Callie's date and tell list and decided that she didn't want such a slut after all. Whatever the reason was, Erica was not coming and Callie felt the pain of that realization deep in her bones.
She had never known Erica to be cruel. But as she physically felt the sting in her heart, as she felt the dark, hollow, emptiness fill her deep down, she realized, that's exactly what Erica had been tonight; cruel.
Callie had been stupid to think, to hope but then again she had never claimed to be otherwise, in the matters of the heart.
Callie arrived home around 10.00 o'clock. Despite knowing that Erica wouldn't be coming after so long, she hadn't been able to get herself to leave the restaurant earlier. As if to suit her mood, it had started raining. She took off her dress, turned on the shower and got in. She let the water wash away her tears and stood under the hot spray until her skin wrinkled.
She pulled on a pair of grey socks and a long t-shirt to sleep in. It had holes in it, it was so old and worn, but it was comfortable and Callie needed all the comfort she could get for the night.
For a while she contemplated calling some one. Getting together with a friend, having a few drinks and bitching about Erica was an idea, but one that was quickly put away. It was too soon. She wasn't angry yet-though that would come later she knew- she was just sad. Tonight was the night for self-pity. She would let herself have this one night and tomorrow she would get angry. And then she would go out and screw her brains out.
She sighed, feeling tired and drained. So that notion didn't hold her interest as much as it once did. Fine, she wouldn't pick up a stranger then. There were lots of people interested in her, lots of people who would love to be in a relationship with her.
Jane was the first name that popped into her head. Even though she had practically closed that door, she was pretty sure that she could get it opened again. Jane was nice. Jane was good in bed. Jane showed up when she said she would.
So what if it was settling. Lots of people settled for less than their dreams. And they lived, if not happily, then contently ever after. Maybe content was enough. Maybe happily ever afters were only reserved for fairytales.
She upped the speed of the blow-dryer and threw her head down, letting the hot air reach the back of her neck. A shake of her head had her hair moving from side to side, the movement mirroring her thoughts. No, she couldn't do that. It wouldn't be fair to her. If she knew that Callie was just settling for her, she wouldn't want her. Jane deserved better and somewhere in the back of her mind Callie knew that so did she.
She was pretty much screwed then. She squeezed her eyes, fighting the tears that were filling again. She couldn't be with Erica but she couldn't be with anyone other than Erica either.
Hair dry, drier put away, she sat on her bed and waited. Restless, she stayed there for a long time, just thinking. A look to her right revealed her phone staring back at her from her bedside table.
She felt her stomach tense, her breath catch. She couldn't, no, she wouldn't. She absolutely wouldn't. But then again, what did she have to lose at this point?
She picked up the phone and dialed Erica's cell phone.
Straight to voicemail.
"Argghh." She growled into the phone and hung up. Now Erica would know that she had called her more than once. Could she be a bigger loser?
Frustrated, she switched her phone off and threw it across the room. It bounced on the couch, flipped once in the air and landed on the very edge of the leather cushion. She wouldn't pick it up again. A hit to the switch by her side left the room dark. She slumped back on the bed, punched her pillow in an effort to get comfortable, and turned onto her side. "Stupid." She mumbled and closed her eyes.
She couldn't have been asleep for more than two minutes when she was pulled to the surface by the shrill ring of her doorbell. She jumped up in alarm, blinking a number of times, trying to get her bearings. She stood unmoving, shocked into stillness. The bell rang again. Her heart in her mouth she was startled into movement. She pulled on her bathrobe and reaching down, picked up her baseball bat from under the bed. Better safe than sorry, she thought, gripping the handle tightly as she rushed into the living room. A glance at the clock on the wall let her know that it was almost midnight. She cleared her throat, and trying her best to sound intimidating barked out, "Who is it?"
"It's me Erica."
Callie lowered the bat, took in a long breath in an effort to calm herself.
Running a hand through her hair Callie finally opened the door.
She didn't know what to say, so she didn't say anything. She couldn't even meet Erica's eyes, so she just stood there, looking at the floor, waiting to hear whatever it was Erica had come to say.
"I am so sorry." Erica croaked, taking a step forward.
The shake of her voice more than the words, had Callie looking up. She gasped at what she saw.
Erica was standing in front of her, soaked from head to toe. Her hair-orange mad hair- was plastered all over her face, dripping rainwater down her cheeks. Her makeup had run down her face, her mascara leaving dark tracks from her eyes to her chin. Her coat and the blue dress under it were completely sticking to her body, and one of her heels was twisted tightly within her white knuckled grip. She looked miserable and almost frozen.
"What happened to you?" Callie cried, her voice rising in concern.
"Can I can I come in?" Erica shivered.
"Come in, come in." Callie grabbed a hold of Erica's arm and pulled her inside. "My God, you're freezing." She ran her hands up and down Erica's arms trying to warm her up.
"I'm ok, I'm ok now." Erica croaked, shaking.
"Take this off," Callie ordered, taking hold of her coat. The coat was very heavy, weighed down by the water that clung to the fabric. "What happened to you?"
"I, uhm," Erica looked up and noticing Callie's puffy eyes, reached up to touch her cheek with a frozen finger "Have you been crying?"
"I was sleeping." Callie rubbed her eyebrow, hiding her eyes.
"I'm " Erica sneezed, "Sorry."
"You're ice cold."
"I I walked, my car and the rain, and it broke down and I "
"Sshh. You'll tell me later. Come on, let's get you into the shower."
"I," Erica trembled, trying to continue but then she looked down at herself and nodded, "yeah, okay."
Callie led her into her bathroom and taking a new set of towels from the cupboard, gave them to Erica. "Here, there's shampoo and conditioner and a few bottles of shower gels over here." She motioned towards the metal shelves hanging on the wall of the shower, "everything's pretty much where it used to be."
"Thank you." Erica wheezed, bending down to take off her single shoe.
"I'll be right inside, if you need anything." Callie offered, backing out of the bathroom.
"Can you unzip my back?"
Callie blinked once, "Huh?"
Erica turned around.
"Oh, right, of course."
She put one hand between Erica's neck and shoulder-feeling the goose bumps under her fingers- and pulled down the zipper all the way down to the small of Erica's back, with the other.
Erica caught the dress before it could completely fall off her. "Thank you."
"Sure," Callie croaked, slowly moving back. "I'll put some clothes for you on the bed."
Erica nodded gratefully. Callie smiled softly and closed the door.
She took a moment, shaking her head disbelievingly, resting her back against the door. And then, she went to work.
15 minutes later Erica walked, or rather (be it less than before) limped into the kitchen, wearing the sweatpants and the t-shirt Callie had left for her. She was even wearing the sweatshirt despite the warmth of the house. A head towel was securely wrapped around her hair, Callie- not for the first time- wondered about the orange locks that were peeking from it, though she opted to smile gently, instead of saying anything about it.
"Better?" She asked, holding out a mug.
Erica took it from her hand without questioning. "Much," she nodded, "I feel human again, thank you." She looked down at her cup and raised her eyebrows, "Soup?"
"Instant. I figured you hadn't eaten dinner. I can make you something else if you want."
"No, this is good, it's great, thank you."
Pouring herself a cup of coffee, she took Erica by the arm and helped her into the living room. "Come on, you'd better sit down."
They sat down onto the three-person couch, next to one another, both sipping their drinks in silence. Now that they were in each other's presence Callie found that she didn't know what to say. She had questions but she didn't know where to start. By the looks of it Erica didn't either, though after a while she was the first one to speak.
"Yang's not home, I take it."
"She moved out."
"Yep." Callie nodded, "Living with Owen now."
"Oh, right." Erica nodded back.
They kept nodding for a while, and giving each other toothless smiles when they made eye contact.
"When did she move out?"
"Well, about 2 years ago, I think."
"A while then."
Callie took a sip of her coffee, feeling the liquid warm its way down her throat. She watched Erica as she looked across the room, taking in the pictures spattered along the bookshelves. There were a few of Callie in various acts of sportsmanship; Skiing down a black slope in Val d'Isere, scuba diving with Sadie in the San Juan Islands-both looking into the camera under water giving the classic thumbs up pose. There was one of her in her cap and gown with her father and Maria, and one of her mother kissing her forehead when she was just a little girl. And a few others too, of Christina and Mark. One especially nice group photo that was taken in Mark and Lexie's wedding, all of them glowing in their tuxedos and dresses. Callie smiled, remembering that night. It had been one hell of a party.
"Do you like it?"
Callie looked back at Erica, "What?"
Amused by the line of conversation, Callie shrugged and tipped her head. "Sure, it's okay."
Erica smiled, as though realizing the absurdity of her question and distractedly bent down to rub her ankle.
"You want me to take a look at that?" Callie asked, noticing the grimace that passed over Erica's face.
Erica looked up and hesitated for a moment.
"Let me see." Callie ordered, patting her lap. "This is what I do you know," Callie teased.
"Okay," Erica smiled tentatively, lifting up her leg "Doctor."
Callie gently inspected the foot on her lap, peeling off the sock and touching the slightly swollen ankle. When her fingers touched bare skin, Erica sucked in a breath in reflex. When Callie looked up, Erica simply muttered, "Cold."
"Sorry," Callie lowered her mouth to her hands and in turn to the foot within them and gently blew warm breath onto them. "Better?"
Erica opened her mouth to say something than closed it, swallowed and nodded silently.
"How did you manage this?" Callie asked, hiding her grin.
"I think I strained it, my car broke down and I was walking here and my stupid shoe broke a few miles back "
"A few miles?" Callie asked incredulously.
"Yeah," Erica shrugged, shaking her head in a 'don't even ask' kind of way. Something about the way she pursed her lips made Callie think that the heel had been the least of her problems.
"I must have stepped on it wrong, I " she trailed off wincing when Callie prodded a particularly sensitive part.
Erica shook her head dismissively. "You must be wondering what happened tonight."
"Well, yeah." Callie tried to keep her voice neutral, "I wouldn't mind hearing about it."
"Okay. Let's see...I left the hospital at 7 as planned, and then this nurse had told me about this hairdresser that was supposed to be incredible and I had brought my clothes with me to work, I was already dressed, so I thought 'I have a little time, why not?' you know, I wanted to look nice for you."
Callie smiled at that, Erica smiled shyly as well and continued, "Anyway, I got there and this idiot washed my hair and I should have known something was wrong right then cause it burned while he was washing it but hey, he said it was a special product and that my hair was going to glow and be softer than ever and whatever. Blah blah blah, my hair came out green Callie. Like, seaweed green."
"Yeah, well that was just the beginning. And then he did this conditioner thing that was supposed to counter the effects of the first thing and it just it didn't work, it just came out worse, as you can see. And then there was this 70 year old man who was having his hair cut who basically collapsed and I had to do CPR."
"Are you serious?"
"Yeah, heart attack. Can you believe it? And then the ambulance didn't get there for 45 minutes because of the rain. And when it did I had to send him to Mercy cause it was closer. By this time it was already 10 and I got into my car and started driving back, but of course this day being today, my car broke down half way through. So I basically left my car on the side of the road and walked here."
"Yeah. Long story short, that's what happened."
"When it rains "
"Couldn't you find a cab?"
"No cab, no bus. Nothing. And nobody stopped in the rain, it was just ridiculous."
"Why didn't you call a cab from your cell?"
"Didn't I tell you? My battery was dead. That's why I left you the message on your home line, for some reason it was the only number I could remember."
Erica's self berating smile dropped off her face. "You're kidding, right?"
Callie slowly shook her head. "I didn't get a message."
"But I left one. Not even one, two."
" I can't believe this." Callie got up from her seat and walked across the living room, to the answering machine hiding under piles of magazine and papers on the counter. "I haven't used this thing in ages, nobody calls me from my home. I didn't even think to check it." Moving aside the junk, revealed the blinking machine. Feeling like a total shmuck, she looked back at an expectantly watching Erica and nodded. "I'm such an idiot."
She pressed a button and the electronic voice announced, "You have two new messages. Message 1. Friday 7.25 p.m" Then came Erica's voice, " Hi Callie, this is Erica. I'm just calling you to let you know that I'm gonna be running a little late, let's say about a half an hour, just to be safe. Sorry about this and I hope to see you soon."
"That one I left, when I thought I was still going to be able to make dinner." Erica said, looking amusedly at Callie. As the machine announced the second message, she added "this one I left when I realized I couldn't."
"Hey Callie, it's me again, I can't talk now but I can't make it tonight. I'll tell you all about it when I see you. Don't worry, everything is fine. I'll call you as soon as I can, or I'll come over. I don't know, anyway don't go to the restaurant. I'm really sorry about this, I'll make it up to you."
Callie sheepishly looked at Erica, "Oops."
"You went to the restaurant." It was more a statement than a question.
Callie nodded, "I did."
"How long did you wait?"
"Not long "
Erica looked skeptical, "How long is not long?"
"I don't know, just an hour or two."
"Oh God." Erica frowned.
"No, it's okay." Callie sat back down next to her, "I assumed that something had come up, I knew that you weren't standing me up."
"I wasn't. I I'm so sorry. I wanted to be there, I wanted this date to be perfect "
"Hey, these things happen."
"But they weren't supposed to." Erica shifted uncomfortably, shaking her head. "I mean, shouldn't it be easier? Maybe the universe is trying to tell us something. Maybe it's a sign that we're not supposed to be together. I mean, I don't know."
Something about the way Erica spoke made Callie think that she wasn't just speaking about tonight. Callie felt herself tense at the notion. Her stomach dropped and she swallowed before asking, "Do you really believe that?"
Erica looked at her for a long moment, her expression not giving anything away. After what seemed like forever, her eyes softened and she finally whispered, "No, I don't."
Callie blew out the breath she had been holding, "I don't either."
They shared a tentative smile as Callie reached over and gently took Erica's hand in hers.
"Maybe it means that, we are willing to do anything. Despite the difficulties, despite missed dates and misunderstandings, that we still want to give us a chance after all this time means that we are meant to be together. Maybe that's what it means."
Erica's eyes were filling with emotion. She squeezed Callie's hand, "Maybe."
Callie interlaced their fingers, "Come to bed with me Erica."
Erica swallowed nervously, "You- uhm, you think that's a good idea?"
"To sleep," Callie jumped in, feeling her cheeks burn. "No funny business. I mean, not that I don't want to, I want to, I really want to, but you're exhausted and in all honesty, so am I and I'd just like to hold you and sleep."
Erica looked at Callie for a long moment, her lips curled up, her eyes smiling.
"What?" Callie asked, after a moment.
Callie chuckled, "Is that a yes?"
"That's a yes."
They walked into the bedroom hand in hand.
Callie pulled back the covers and taking off her sweatpants slipped into bed in her sleep shirt. Erica sat down next to her.
"Still cold?" Callie asked.
Erica nodded, "hmm, though the sweatshirt might be a bit much."
"Here," Callie sat up, taking hold of the bottom of the sweatshirt, "Arms up."
Erica chuckled and let Callie help her remove the clothing. "Thanks."
"I live to serve."
When she lied back this time Erica lied back with her. Instinctively they both turned to their sides -Callie spooning Erica- and settled into each other as though they had been sleeping together for decades.
Callie's arm wrapped securely around Erica's waist and Erica's hand came to rest on top of Callie's.
After lying there in silence for a while Callie heard a sniffle come from Erica.
"You want some advil?" Callie asked, moving to rise but Erica held onto her and shook her head.
"You really should take something, if your nose is running already Erica," Callie automatically went into doctor mode. There was no point in trying to look invincible. Erica had walked under the rain for close to two hours after all. If it had been Callie, she would have already taken two doses by now.
"You're not okay, you're sniffling." She brought her fingers to Erica's face, "Do you have a fever?" Her fingers came away wet. She felt herself tense as she realized that her sniffling wasn't of the flu. She lifted herself up onto her elbow,
"Hey, are you crying?"
"You are. What? What is it?"
"Tell me," Callie begged softly.
Erica shook her head in Callie's embrace, trying to hide her tears.
Callie felt dread fill her heart, "Is it me? Is it this?"
"No!" Erica sharply turned back to look into Callie's eyes. "No, you're great. This is great."
Erica shrugged, wiping her cheeks.
"Tell me," Callie kissed Erica's neck, "please."
After a long moment of silence Erica finally gave in and muttered, "My hair."
"I know I should be above it and all but " she sniffled, "I look like carrot top."
Callie trying to hold back her laughter, pressed her lips to Erica's shoulder. "No, no you don't." She said, reassuringly.
"I do. Look at this, it's orange, and look at the roots, the roots are green."
"Ha." Erica chuckled,, "Yes, gorgeous."
"Look at me," Callie touched her chin, making Erica raise her eyes to meet her own. She cupped Erica's face and wiped away the last of her tears. And then she let her eyes travel from Erica's big blue eyes -more defined now after shedding tears- to her strong-be it red- nose, to her rosy cheeks, to the dimples, to the full lips that were slightly open and felt herself melt by the truth of her words. She breathed, "You are beautiful."
Looking up to meet dilated, wanting eyes were her undoing. No longer able to deny her need, she lowered her self to taste the lips she had been longing to claim.
The kiss was slow and tender, their lips rediscovering each other, re-connecting without the struggle of dominance or the rush of leading somewhere more urgent. Though Callie's heart was pounding all the same.
It might have ended that way, all innocent and gentle, but then Erica's hand reached up to run through Callie's hair, and her fingers took a hold of Callie's head pulling her closer and her lips opened to welcome Callie's tongue into her mouth and suddenly they were very much so lost in a place where everything was urgent.
A moan escaped Callie as Erica rolled onto her back and their breasts rubbed against each other. Leaning over Erica, tasting her neck, licking and sucking, listening to the sounds Erica was making, the moans and groans as Callie ran her hands along her body, along her chest to finally cup her left breast, the feeling of touching and kneading and teasing the nipple that was straining against the cotton of Erica's t-shirt was enough to have Callie throbbing.
Erica was clinging onto Callie with all her might, her hands running along her back, pulling Callie closer and closer. Her legs opened on their own and in her haste to get closer to her, Callie filled the gap with one of her thighs. She hissed as Erica's thigh settled against her, and hers settled against Erica in return, putting her weight now almost completely on Erica. Feeling every curve and contour of her body rise beneath hers, was driving Callie so far to the edge that she didn't think she could return from it without falling off.
And yet, she made herself stop for a moment, before completely losing control, stilling the gentle rocking that had just begun between them. Erica made a sound of protest, but Callie needed more confirmation than that. Trying to catch her breath, she looked up, "Are you tired?"
Erica looked at her uncomprehendingly for a moment. "What?"
"Cause I'm losing my mind here and if you're tired, we don't have to do this, but you have to tell me now cause if we go any further I don't think I can stop till I have you."
"My God Callie," Erica panted, "Come here."
Rising up to re-claim Callie's lips she took a hold of Callie's nightshirt and in one swift motion pulled it off her. "I want you. I want you to have me." She breathed against skin.
"Oh, thank God."
Callie groaned as Erica's teeth grazed along her neck. As Erica's hands came up to cup her now naked breasts. As Erica bent down to take a nipple into her mouth, as she sucked and nipped. Her eyes rolling back in her head, Callie could feel herself getting wetter and wetter by the second. She wanted to reach down and touch Erica's wetness, feel it on her fingers, taste it on her tongue.
But there were too many clothes still covering Erica.
She couldn't strip her quickly enough. Even as she was pushing the t-shirt up with one hand, helping Erica get it over her head, she was slipping her other through the waist band of the sweatpants, into the pool of heat within Erica's panties.
That first contact tore a moan from both of them. And many more afterwards when Erica fell back onto the bed in surrender, opening her now naked legs in invitation. As Callie settled herself firmly in between them, as she licked her way down Erica's body all the way down to her center. As she took her in her mouth and as she licked and licked, making Erica squirm and thrust, all the while her fingers reached deep within her, first one then two and finally stretching her wide with three. And later right before she went off, when Erica reached down and pulled Callie up to her, to fit their mounds together, as they rubbed and rubbed and pushed and pushed till there was no place left to go, until both were left gasping and grunting and screaming out obscenities like "Yesss" and "Fuck" and "God" into one another. Until they were both falling off the edge into oblivion together, safe in each other's arms.
Callie woke to sunlight tickling her eyes. She buried her nose deeper into the neck of the warm body in her arms and inhaled. "Hmm," Erica. There was no smell quite like her. She could easily get addicted to it. Who was she kidding? She was already addicted.
They had spent the whole night touching and tasting each other between bouts of involuntary sleep that claimed them every once in a while. After such a long time spent apart, their eagerness to be close again could not be held back by such inconsequential things as a need to rest and they often found themselves awake after only a few minutes of sleep with a renewed level of energy. All of which was spent trying to re-discover each and every part of the other's body. They had finally fallen asleep, all tangled up in each other- sated for the time being- as the morning light had started making its way into the room.
A glance at the bedside clock revealed it to be almost noon. Callie snuggled closer, tightening her hold and sighed. The world could stop turning for all she cared. She was exactly where she wanted to be with the one person she wanted to be with. And though the sunlight threatened to lift the spell they had been under in the veil of the night, Callie decided she would not let anything ruin this. The morning after was not going to be awkward. Nothing was going to get between them. Not insecurities, nor baggage from a past life. Not even unspoken words were going to hold them back this time. This time she would hold onto the woman that made her heart beat and her soul rest. She was a late bloomer but she was no fool. "I wont let you go again," she breathed into Erica's hair.
"Keeping me hostage, are you?" A sleepy voice croaked.
"Hey," Callie grinned, "you're awake."
Erica nodded, smiling lazily.
Callie lifted herself up onto an elbow and bent her head. Bringing her lips to Erica's bare shoulder, she placed a kiss there, and then another on her neck and then another behind her ear. "Good morning."
"Hmm." Erica sighed happily, "What time is it?"
"We should get up." She said, though she made no move to get out of bed.
"Na ah. We should just stay in bed, all day."
Erica chuckled, rolling over to look at Callie. They lay there, side by side, facing each other without saying anything. Just looking at each other, savoring the moment.
"Why did you come back?" Callie asked after a long time, taking Erica's hand in hers to play with her fingers. "To Seattle I mean."
Erica didn't say anything for a minute, obviously startled by the question. Callie was startled by it as well. She hadn't meant to ask that. Or rather she hadn't meant to ask it just then. But now that the words were out, she realized, she wanted to hear the answer.
Erica tilted her head to the side and looked teasingly into Callie's eyes. "Why do you think?"
"Come on," Callie smacked her arm, "I'm serious, tell me."
"So am I," Erica looked deeply into Callie's eyes, her tone less teasing and more quiet. "Why do you think?"
"I don't know. The job? The prestige?"
Eyebrows raised up, "Is that really what you think?"
"I don't know. I hope that it isn't. I hope that there was something or someone else in your mind when you decided to move back here, but I don't want to presume anything."
Inching closer to her on the pillow, Erica breathed, "You know why I came back."
"I do." Callie smiled tentatively and whispered, "Me."
"But I was horrible. I I pushed you away, I was scared but that's no excuse, I pushed and pushed and then you left and I let you go." Callie closed her eyes, shaking her head, "I let you go I did so many things wrong back then, dealt with things horribly I know, but that was my biggest mistake. I've never forgiven myself for that."
"Don't take all the blame. I was the one that left." Erica said, brushing her thumb over Callie's hand. "Walking away that night in the parking lot, that was my biggest mistake."
Erica nodded. "That's why I came back."
"I'm so glad you did."
"Hey, if we hadn't gone through all of that, maybe we wouldn't be together now." She paused, "I mean, we are right? Together?"
"Yes." Callie brought Erica's fingers to her lips. "God yes."
Erica smiled sadly, shrugging. "I guess it's going to take a while for these old fears to go away. A part of me still finds it hard to believe that you really want me."
Callie didn't say anything for a minute. But then, she had an idea. One that might be just crazy enough to work. It must have shown on her face because in the next moment Erica was looking at her curiously and asking, "What?"
"Move in with me."
"Move in with me."
"Callie!" Erica sat up, "Be serious."
"I am serious."
"You're sweet but, you're not serious."
"Yes, I am." Callie sat up as well, the sheet falling to her lap, leaving her nakedness open to view.
"I think it's time for breakfast. Do you have eggs?" Erica stood up, pulling on her underwear and sweat pants in one move.
"Where's the t-shirt I was wearing?"
"Give me one reason."
"It's a bad idea." Erica lifted the bedcover from the floor "It was right here."
"One good reason."
"I'll give you ten."
"What are you doing?" Callie asked, watching Erica pick up spattered pieces of clothing from the floor. "Where are you going?"
"I'm going to make some coffee."
"I'm trying to tell you something important."
"I'm not moving in with you. We're not going to u-haul after the first date like, like some-"
"I'm dead serious Erica."
"We haven't even had a first date. Last night doesn't count."
"I admit it wasn't the date I had planned but I'd say it turned out okay." She wiggled her eyebrows suggestively, looking down at her nakedness.
Erica tried to keep a straight face but Callie could see that she was smiling.
"We're a little proud of ourselves, aren't we?" She asked, putting a hand on her waist.
"Yes, we are." Callie confirmed, grinning widely.
Erica chuckled, shaking her head in amusement. One knee on the bed had her closing the distance between them. Cupping Callie's face, she leaned in and softly kissed her. " As well you should be." She breathed, bringing up the other hand to gently caress one breast. "Last night was wonderful."
Callie shivered at the contact, "Only last night?"
"And this morning." She said indulging her, and then in her most seductive voice she added, "But can we please stop talking?" She let her lips trail down to Callie's neck, making her whimper. "Let's just drop this subject."
That woke Callie up from the hynoptic state she was falling into.
"No!" She said firmly, pulling back. "And that wasn't fair, trying to distract me like that."
Erica blew out a breath and stood back up.
Callie straightened, "I know this looks like a big step,"
"Looks like?" Erica continued her search for her shirt. Bending down on the floor, to look under the couch.
"Okay, it is. It is a big step, but there is no reason to wait, don't you see?"
"No Cal, not really."
"That's fear talking."
"Can't we talk about this some other time?"
Callie frowned, not understanding why Erica would want to run away from this topic so fiercely.
Erica's voice was soft when she said, "Hey, don't be like that."
"I," Callie shook her head, "I just don't get why you're so against it."
"That's not it." Erica ran a hand through her hair, sighing. "I mean really, why do we have to rush? We are both adults, we both have our own places. We can sleep together whenever we want." She looked around the room, "It's too soon. We're starting something new here, and what's the point in rushing into something that that- well quite honestly something you might change your mind about tomorrow."
"I, no-" Callie tried to interfere but Erica didn't let her.
"You're feeling high from last night still. So am I. It was great, better than great but you're not thinking clearly right now." Crossing her arms in front of her, she walked over to the window and looked outside." And to put an offer like that on the table, which you might very well pull back once your head clears is kind of insensitive. I- I just think that we should wait and see how things go and be really sure of-"
"I love you!"
That made her stop. Her back to Callie, she stood there, not moving.
"Did you hear me?" Callie repeated, rising onto her knees. "I said, I love you."
Erica slowly turned around, her eyes wide, her mouth half open.
"I do." Callie said, "I was scared to say it before. I knew it back then, and I know it now. And I don't want to waste another minute You're the one. I know that sounds corny but it's true." Callie swallowed, feeling her heart beat against her chest. "I feel it, and I want you to know it, and if you find that hard to believe, it doesn't matter cause I'll spend the rest of my life convincing you of it."
Erica simply stood there, looking at Callie for what seemed like forever. Callie who was starting to feel weak as the silence stretched and stretched. So much for her newly found courage.
She swallowed once, wetting her dry lips.
At least it was the truth, Callie re-assured herself. Wasn't the truth meant to set you free?
More like free falling, she thought, as she sat back down onto the bed.
Erica, who at some point during the silence had shut her eyes, opened them to reveal tears filling them. She took two quick steps and climbed onto the bed. A lone tear trailed down her face and wet Callie's cheek as she claimed her lips in a long, passionate kiss.
When they broke apart, only four words came out of her mouth.
"I love you too."
It was the four that mattered.
And then they were making love again.
Afterwards, when they were both spent and lying in each others arms, both happy and peaceful and full of hope for the future they would be building together, Erica, in the edge of slumber, closed her eyes and sighed,
"I'm still not moving in with you after one date."
Callie-feeling like she had finally come home- chuckled and kissed her brow, "We'll see."
One year and seven months later.
Erica had the baby in her arms. The baby was supposed to fall asleep, the movement of Erica walking up and down the living room, rocking the infant from side to side was supposed to lull her into a dreamy state but the child simply cooed in play, refusing to even show signs of tiredness. Instead, she pulled on Erica's hair, trying to bring it to her mouth, as she tried to bring anything she could get her hands on into her mouth.
Callie watched Erica as she tried to pull her head out of the child's reach, and thought not for the first time that she looked beautiful.
"She's so good with her."
She glanced back at Lexie, and smiled, "She is."
"Are you guys thinking of having one soon?"
Callie smiled again, as Erica made funny faces at the baby. Seemingly having given up on the notion of putting her to sleep, looking resigned to the fact that more play time was needed. She was such an easy pushover, when it came to babies. Callie sighed, melting all the more as both laughed.
"I'll take that as a yes." Lexie grinned.
"I can't believe that they are already one years old. Seems like yesterday that you were announcing you were pregnant at your party."
"I know. Where did all the time go?"
"They are growing so fast too. I must have seen her what, a week ago and her whole face has changed."
"She looks more like me now, don't you think?" Lexie beamed proudly.
"The shape of the head, definitely. And the lips. Though Mark swears she is his photocopy."
"She does have his eyes. They both do. It's a good thing, he has gorgeous eyes."
"He does." Callie agreed, "She is beautiful Lex," she turned back to look at the couch where Mark was changing the diapers of his baby boy and Christina was supervising from afar. "and so is he."
Lexie nodded, knocking on wood.
"Who is it?" Sadie appeared next to them,
"Ha ha." Callie answered dryly.
"Lexie, dear," Sadie kissed both of Lexie's cheeks, "I gotta get going. The little lady has an early morning and I want to see her before she falls asleep."
"Nice." Callie shook her head, amusedly.
"Thank you for inviting me."
"Thank you for coming." Lexie walked her to the door. "Say hi to Jane for me."
Christina bumped her shoulder to Callie's, tipped her head towards Erica, who had the baby up above her head, making her fly. "Wasn't she supposed to put her to sleep?"
"Supposed to." Callie mumbled, taking the final sip of her beer. "We should get going too."
"We'll drop you guys off."
Callie nodded, moving in behind Erica. "Hey," she kissed her neck, "Ready to go home?"
"Sure." Erica nodded, "let me just "
"Here, let me take her." Lexie walked in.
"Here you go." Erica handed her the baby, after kissing her brow one last time. "Sorry, I couldn't get her to sleep."
"You did great." Lexie praised, taking the baby inside, "tired her out, she'll fall asleep in no time now. Won't you Ella bella? Won't you?"
"I hope so."
Callie gently tugged Erica to herself, bringing her arms to encircle her waist. Taking advantage of the empty room, she closed the distance between them so that she could feel the length of Erica's body against hers. Erica returned the embrace, smiling. "Hello." She breathed.
"I'm so lucky." Callie sighed, looking into Erica's eyes, slipping her hands into the back pockets of Erica's jeans.
Erica's breath hitched and she got the look in her eye, the one reserved for Callie, the one that promised of things to come. She leaned in and dropped a gentle kiss on Callie's lips. " Come on," she said, "Let's go home."
Callie smiled, as she did so often now.
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