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Down This Road
They're bad for each other. She knows that. Truthfully, they both know that, but it's a never-ending loop, the mythical ouroboros, the snake devouring its own tail. They can't keep this up if they want to survive, but neither can they stop, for the same reason. She doesn't even know how they fell into this, but one thing is undeniable; they argue so much they have it down to a simple script, a pattern that neither can break free from.
Cristina starts it. She always starts it. "Can I scrub in with you?" It's been 42 hours since Erica heard the question, so she knew it had to be coming soon. As ever, she was hoping that Cristina would have given her some respite, just this once, but she knew that was probably too much to ask.
Without even looking up from the chart of the patient whose surgery she was preparing for, the blonde replied, "Karev's on my service."
"Karev doesn't care about Cardio. Not like I do." The tone was petulant, and Erica sighed heavily, wishing that, just this once, the younger woman would accept that she wasn't all-powerful. Erica herself had had to accept that fact a long time ago. Why couldn't Cristina?
"Take it up with Bailey."
Her head snapped up from the paperwork in front of her, blue eyes frosty as they glared at the resident. "Yang. Talk. To. Bailey. And I've told you before, inside the walls of this hospital, I'm your boss, not your girlfriend. Call me Erica again and I'll make sure you don't see the inside of any OR for a month."
"Two months, and that's the end of it." She turned away from the other woman, refusing to engage on the subject any longer. Erica felt the glare burning into the side of her head, but she ignored it. Eventually, Cristina would realize that Erica wasn't about to change her mind.
Eventually, Cristina snapped, "Why don't you just give me a list of places I'm allowed to be your girlfriend?"
Without lifting her head, Erica replied, "I just did."
Cristina's response was just to walk away, probably on her way to bitch about how unfair the blonde was with Grey. As if it would make any difference.
Erica waited for the footsteps to fade before she raised one hand to rub her forehead in frustration. If only that were the end of it.
The next time the blonde saw the younger woman, she was conspiring with Meredith Grey in a corner of the cafeteria. Glancing over to the table where the two residents were curiously alone, Erica sighed heavily, a breathy "That can't be good," falling from her lips. She knew the conspiring happened, of course she did, but she was certain that the two friends had never flaunted it in front of her like this. Not unless she was normally so singularly focused on surgery that she'd missed it in the past.
The clattering of the chair beside her sliding back from the table pulled her concentration from Cristina and Grey, and Erica sighed again as Mark Sloan flopped into it. "What can't be good?"
"Was I talking to you?" Erica glared at him, her eyes narrow, her lips fixed in a tight line. Sloan was almost certain to make this day more stressful than Cristina was already making it, and he was absolutely the last person that the blonde wanted to see.
"Weren't talking to anyone, far as I can see. You losing it, Hahn?" Mark smirked before biting into his apple, and Erica turned her head resolutely away from him. Maybe if she just tried to ignore his existence.
It didn't work.
""I've been hearing rumors." The man's voice was sing-songy, and Erica could have hit him for it.
"Really?" She drawled the word, her indifference dripping from it. "Why do you think I care?"
"Well " he extended the word, pulled it long for dramatic effect, and Erica tilted her head slightly, her eyebrows raised in a challenge. "I heard it from Derek, who heard it from Grey, who heard it from-"
"Yang?" A sardonic chuckle fell from the blonde's lips. "Don't you think she'd say anything if it might force her way into my OR?"
"I don't think what I'm hearing has anything to do with the OR."
"Then why are you talking to me about it? We're not friends, Sloan, we're colleagues. I don't come here to gossip." Erica stood up, taking her tray with her as she turned away from the table.
Mark made one last desperate attempt to verify his suspicions, "So you're not screwing her?"
Despite how shaken that phrase made her feel, Erica glanced back at him over her shoulder, her glare steady. "I don't know about you, but I have work to do. If you insist on behaving like a teenage girl, find someone else to do it with." The tone was sardonic, her voice steady despite the worry that rolled in her mind. Though it was unlikely that anyone would ever believe it, the rumor was the last thing she needed making the rounds of the Seattle Grace gossip machine. Especially since it was true.
At least this added a different spin to the argument that she knew Cristina would continue whenever the chance next arose. The cycle had been getting very boring.
She didn't know how it had happened. She'd headed straight to her office from the cafeteria, stopping briefly to pick up some paperwork, check the OR board and send Karev to run some final pre-op tests on their patient. None of that had taken any more than 10 minutes, and Cristina had been deep in conversation when she'd left. Yet, when she opened her office door, there the younger woman was, devoid of her scrub top and sitting on the edge of the blonde's desk. As tempting as the expanse of skin was, as perky as the black lace bra made Cristina's breasts, Erica's groan was not frustration of the kind Cristina was hoping to elicit. "Yang. Put your clothes back on."
The repetition was wearing on her. They had to find a new pattern. If they were going to keep having to have this discussion, they had to find a new way to do it.
"I thought maybe a little pick-me-up before you go to surgery?" The ulterior motive was so obvious Erica could scream. She'd caught on the very first time this stunt had been pulled, so she wasn't about to give in now. She didn't know why Cristina continually thought it would work where it hadn't before. She'd never thought the resident to be an eternal optimist.
"No. You thought maybe you could distract me and get me to change my mind. How many times do I have to tell you that it's not going to work?" Ignoring the hooded gaze Cristina shot at her as she moved closer, Erica slid into her chair, dropping the papers on her desk and picking up a pen.
Cristina slid off the edge of the desk and turned to face the older woman, her arms crossed over her chest in annoyance. "Burke would have done it."
"Since when has invoking Burke got you anywhere in this argument?" Erica didn't even bother to look up.
"Since it made him a better teacher than you." Appealing to Erica's rivalry with the man who'd unfairly beaten her to every accolade in her career, the man who's shadow she was living in at Seattle Grace, may have seemed like a solid hand the first time Cristina had played it, but the blonde had no idea how the younger woman continued to stick with it. It was depressing to think that maybe the resident had reached the limits of her creativity with the first all-out assault on Erica's resolve and they were stuck like this now.
"To you. Not to the others. I don't play favorites, Yang." The boredom of the argument rang through in Erica's voice.
"But I'm never on your service."
Erica debated with herself for a second. Keep going in the same old tired circles, invoking Bailey, the schedule, the fact that Cristina had clocked so many hours in Cardio at the expense of the others that the Chief Resident was probably making up for that now that Burke and his clear and obvious preference for Cristina as his right hand were gone from the hospital, or take them in a new direction? It didn't take much thought. "Maybe if you stopped telling Grey every little thing about us, no one would suspect anything and Bailey would have no reason to keep you from my service." She knew that argument wouldn't hold up for too long, given how much time Grey herself spent working with Shepherd, but at least it was something different. If they had to keep playing the 'why can't I be in an OR with you' game, she would at least change the playing field a little.
"Meredith hasn't told anyone anything."
"Really? Then why did Mark Sloan ask me if I was screwing you 20 minutes ago?" This time, the blonde did look up, her eyes steely, storm clouds gathering behind the icy gaze.
Yang struggled for words, her mouth opening to protest and then snapping closed, thrown off-balance by both the change in the landscape and Erica's tone.
The blonde answered her own question. "I'd guess, Grey told Shepherd, who told Sloan, who's busy telling everyone in this hospital if he can get any of them to believe him."
"You can't ask me not to talk to my person!"
"True. But I can ask you not to keep on making it worse by behaving like a scorned girlfriend every time I won't push someone else out of the way so you can get your hands on a heart!"
"How am I making it worse? It's not like I ever get anywhere!" The younger woman's voice was raised, and Erica was starting to worry that anyone passing by in the hall may be able to hear them.
She stood, crossing to Cristina's side, just inches of space between them in the hopes that the conversation could stay as quiet as possible if the distance between their bodies were lessened. "Then why keep trying? You know I'm not going to give in."
"You know why." The ploy had worked, Cristina's voice quieter.
"And you know why you're making it worse. I don't let anyone else behave this way. I don't let anyone else even attempt to demand things from me. I'm not the ice queen they all make me out to be, but I'm not about to be bowed by you. It's my job to make sure that you all learn. Like it or not, Cristina, you have more Cardio hours than anyone else, because Burke let you specialize when you were an intern. I can't do that."
"Why not?" Was it really possible that Cristina didn't understand this?
"Because a hospital isn't a playground, and I don't let my private life affect me when I'm inside it. Sorry, Cristina, but until Bailey puts you on my service, I can't do anything."
"You won't do anything."
"Fine. I won't. Now put your shirt back on." Erica stepped away, glancing up at the clock. "I have to go see a patient. Get it together, and deal with the fact that you can't dictate to me or Bailey, or any other attending." To soften her words, Erica did something she never did while working. She moved closer again, dropping a soft kiss on the younger woman's lips, drawing away before Cristina could think that seduction may yet stand a chance of working. "I have a patient to get to. I'll see you later."
The blonde left her office, glad that she could escape to the OR now, glad that Cristina would have to wait until later to continue the argument, to try and convince Erica that she should do something about the paucity of Cardio hours the younger woman was getting. She was almost sure that they weren't done yet, but she hoped she was wrong.
If not, they'd just keep going round in the same old circles. One day they had to learn that it wasn't getting them anywhere, surely?
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