DISCLAIMER: All television shows, movies, books, and other copyrighted material referred to in this work, and the characters, settings, and events thereof, are the properties of their respective owners. As this work is an interpretation of the original material and not for-profit, it constitutes fair use. References to real persons, places, or events are made in a fictional context, and are not intended to be libelous, defamatory, or in any way factual.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Go all the way back to the very beginning of PP, but make it a little fuzzy so this works, ok? Nae and Addison were off and on lovers since medical school. I owe thanks to some Caddie stories with a similar idea that Callie/Addison were lovers all along when she came back from LA.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To punkee96[at]gmail.com
No, Not Like We Used To
"Addison?" Nae's shock was obvious, but she hid it well enough. "What? What are you doing here?"
I shrugged. The truth was I wasn't sure why I was here. There were a hundred reasons, but none of them were THE reason when I tried to pick just one. Maybe I was just here because Nae had always been what I needed. She was always my refuge in the storm.
"We can't keep doing this." Nae whispered looking at the desk instead of into my eyes.
The pain in my heart broke a piece of itself off and stabbed itself in the eye. I knew we couldn't keep doing this, but I came here because she was the place my heart knew. Hurting and confused I followed my instincts that lead me hereto her. I waited and her brown eyes looked up into mine. I couldn't bear to see the hurt hidden behind her façade. I took the easy way out for both of us. Boys. We had always used boys so that we never had to talk about what was going on between us.
"I want to have a baby." I couldn't bring myself to talk about Mark, or Alex. I wasn't really here because of them. It wasn't honest. I tried to tell myself that I needed to leave Seattle because Mark and I weren't going to work. Deep down I knew that wasn't true. I was the one that broke the agreement anyway. I just had to sleep with Alex. I couldn't claim that Mark held this level of importance in my life. Perhaps I could claim that Alex drew attention to what I wantedsomeone to play catch and BBQ with a kid I had always dreamed of having. However I didn't have anything with Alex.
"Um, Addison?" Nae looked at me once again trying to hide her shock. "What" I saw the question form and fall away unfinished. I looked at her uncertain. We each weighed the past and present as we regarded each other. "I can do the test today." She finished with an uneasy smile. I nodded at her as she stood and smoothed her skirt.
I left the office and wandered around. Santa Monica, the Promenade, I even went down to Venice Beach. This is a crazy town with crazy people. I just kept thinking. I thought I had done enough of that on the 18-hour drive down here, but apparently not. I sighed as I parked the car on a familiar street. The house looked the same. I took the key out of the ignition and stepped out onto the asphalt. I knew I shouldn't be here, but Naomi had always been a magnet for me. I could finally see that now. It was why we let so much distance creep between us, allowed so much time to pass by. There was too much unsaid, and yet, we couldn't keep our heads buried anymore. So we fled.
Naomi followed the sunshine and I followed the sharpness of real winters and the biting attitude of New Yorkers. She married and had Maya. I loved my job. There was nothing to say because we refused to say anything of importance. So eventually the cat got our tongues and we let each other go.
A night here or there between boyfriends...
A conference where we didn't talk, just touched...
The times between meetings got longer.
The silences as we lay spent and breathless rang in our ears.
The pleasure we sought together became more painful than what we needed refuge from.
Lies tore the heart. Omissions were still lieswe just didn't utter them aloud.
Silence made the heart's cries unheard by the one who could heal them.
The sound of my footsteps seemed loud in my ears as each one asked, 'what are you doing, what will you say, what will be different this time.' I thought Max would hear me and start barking. Then I remembered that he died after Nae's parents. Our final year of med school they made their way through Missy's breast cancer treatment only for it to come back less than a year later. She died over the Winter Break and I held her hand at the funeral. Tim was a shell from that time after and in the Spring he had a heart attack on the lawn bowling green. I sat next to her in coach with her head on my shoulder the whole way. Max was always there to take care of themhis long golden coat and wagging tail a sure source of comfort. Nae cried when we dropped him off at her brother's house. That summer Nae called me. They had found him in the garden. She cried as if she had just lost both of them again. I took the red-eye.
We drank and lay together for three days.
Max wasn't here, but Nae lived in the old houseso full of memories. Love lingered here and I could feel it as I stepped up onto the front step to ring the doorbell. I was tired of silence and shifting topics of conversation.
"Addison." Nae stepped to the side to let me in. Her tone this time told me that she was hurting.
We finished a bottle of wine and then just sat talking. There was no move to end the conversation or make it go anywhere. I was so surprised that Maya was a teenager. We sat close looking at the photo albums. Our arms touching felt so right. She caught me looking at her more than once. Nae blushed and it was beautiful.
"Why do you want a baby now, Addison?" She asked quietly. The air shifted around us and I wasn't sure where this hurt was coming from.
"I just. I need a change. My life is too fast. Things come and go. I want to make a life for myself." I hated that articulation always seemed to fail me at key moments.
Nae closed the photo album and rubbed a slow circle on the cover of it. She set it down on the floor and shifted so she could face me. "You can't just do that, Addison."
I shook my head as I tried to puzzle out what she meant. "I can't do what?"
Nae stood up, "You don't get to just do whatever you want and think that you get everything, Addison." Her glare was fiery, but she looked away quickly. I scooted to the edge of the couch concerned. "You chose a career. You went to be a big shot in New York. You can't have everything you want."
I stood but hesitated. Was I welcome to approach her or should I keep my distance? "You have it all, Nae. You had the family first and the career second." I stepped a little closer to her, but not too close. "Your clinic is wonderful. Everyone there is top notch." I waved my hand up in confusion.
The silence was never something I could stand. It's probably why I always pushed people to argue. If I shouted at them, then they would argue back and the awful silence was gone. I had never shouted at Nae. We were comfort to each other, not storm. I waited for Nae to break the silence.
"Sam walked out." The quiet of her words made the impact that much greater.
I stepped forward and grabbed her hand. "Nae. I'm so sorry." Her hand shifted in mine until our fingers were intertwined like we used to do. She began to cry and I pulled her to me.
"A year ago last week." She mumbled into my neck. "And you showed up today."
I laughed. I really couldn't help it. It was just sous. Yes, 'us' was the right word. It felt good in my mind to think of Nae and I as an 'us.'
My eyes closed as her soft lips caressed my neck. I let Nae's hand go and stepped back. This was always how it was with us: a crisis, a kiss, and then sex, but never any talking. I realized that we had drifted apart because we never talkednever put any importance on our connection. "Nae." I started to protest.
"Addison." Her voice was so soft and her eyes so shiny with unshed tears. "Please." It was only one word and my heart leapt into my throat. "Like we used to."
For many long moments we looked at each other, the desire reflected back in each of our eyes. 'We can talk in the morning.' I thought, 'or the next day.' I wanted to talk to Nae, my life was at a point where I needed to really examine things instead of keep doing this. 'There's time.' I convinced myself. 'Nae has never hurt me.'
I nodded and she took my hand once again leading me to her bedroom.
Santa Monica bustled with activity. Early morning traffic slowed around mid-morning as it yielded to a brief lull before lunch when everyone tried to be everywhere at once on their hour. I thought about going to the Getty but as thinky as I felt, I didn't know if I felt up to the museum. There would be so many things there drawing on so many parts of my past, present, and cloudy future. I wasn't sure what kind of storm I was in, but I knew that I needed to batten down the hatches of my heart just in case. Going back to Seattle made my head hurtfacing Mark and knowing I broke the 60 days even if he didn't know; watching Alex avoid me like the little boy hurting inside that he was. Not knowing what else to do or where to go next also gave me waves of nausea. I didn't want to go back to New York. I closed that door. It didn't need to be opened again.
I slipped off my Manolos and rolled up my linen pants. I hadn't exactly planned on going to the beach, but just as I was drawn to LA and Nae, I was drawn out to the water's edge. The sun had burned off the marine layer and I could see Catalina Island on the horizon. At least I told myself I could see Catalina. I sat where the sand was still mostly dry with my feet in the darker wet sand. My heart beat in time with the cresting and crashing of the waves onto the shore. I closed my eyes and the sparkles of the sun on the water dazzled the backs of my eyelids. Hugging my knees I leaned forward stretching my back under the warmth of the sun's rays.
Nae still made little happy breathing sounds in her sleep. This morning I woke to the unusual warmth of sharing a bed with someone. I turned slightly and, with eyes still closed, Nae wrapped herself around me. When I kissed her on the nose she wriggled and hummed. I breathed deep inhaling the closeness of being in bed with her again. I realized it was a feeling, a scent, an experience that I had missedone that I had always truly enjoyed, but never had reached out and held onto with both hands.
For the first time I realized that we had made love.
Or I realized that I had made love.
I wondered if Nae had just sought out the comfort of an old friend in the only language that we knew how to speak together. Tears filled my eyes and I let my fingertips gently touch her face. I wanted to soak in every moment of quiet tenderness that I could. I felt like I had to fill my bucket up.
It was the weirdest thing to literally watch the storm roll in: first my doubts about Nae, then worry that I cared too much this time, and finally a certainty that while Nae had never hurt me before she might this time. As each of those waves crashed over me I realized that the worst part was that Nae wouldn't be there to comfort menot when she was the source of the pain.
The alarm went off and Nae reached out to hit snooze but turned it off. I started to protest, "Shushhhhhh. Five more minutes." Nae pulled me close and kissed me. I couldn't believe we had kissed for five minutes, but when Nae pulled away it had been more like 15 minutes. Nae looked into my eyes and I couldn't read the emotions swirling there. She followed my gaze and gasped when she saw the clock. Her arms still wrapped around me, she turned once more and kissed me on the lips. It was chaste. It felt like goodbye.
She slipped into the shower, then into some clothes and slid downstairs. I lay on my back staring at her ceiling, naked, and trying to shift the kaleidoscope of my life to an image I could understand and enjoy. At length I jumped into her shower, used her products, and tried to slip into who I was yesterday before I arrived here.
Sitting on the beach hugging myself I couldn't help but replay how beautiful I found Nae this morning, or how wonderful I felt in her arms, or how much I wanted to take her on a date. The waves crashed over and over on the shore and the chatter of seagulls and tourists churned it all up until it felt like a never-ending series of questions.
The first of which was of course, "Nae, how did you feel this morning? I mean about me, about "
Frustrated that the questions wouldn't stop and I couldn't answer them on my own, I stood. Absently I made my way to the car again. The clinic was only blocks away but I had no desire to walk there. Nor did I want to leave my car on Santa Monica Blvd. The surfer boy at the desk said that Nae was available so I walked in. I had decided on asking her to dinner instead of giving her the third degree in the middle of her office. "Hey, Nae. I was wondering " I paused as I tried to think of the best way to ask my best friend from med school on a date. I wondered if she was my best friend now or if too many years had gone by for us to be that bright and shiny.
Nae looked up from her paperwork. Her game face was unmistakable and I stopped bothering to find the words. "I'm sorry, Addison." It was that same quiet voice I had to use in the waiting room of a hospital when I greeted the loved ones of a patient that didn't make it.
My heart fluttered and I wondered if this was what it felt like to have your heart stop. We had never talked about what we do, except in the very beginning when we decided it was a good way to take care of each other, but in no way meant we had to change our 'normal' lives. My jaw dropped in disbelief, but I quickly picked it up. I simply could not believe that the first words said about us would be 'I'm sorry.' My fingers gripped around the doorframe to hold me up. I blinked my eyes as if I could reset the channel. "Um." I stepped halfway into her office fighting the urge to simultaneously step forward and shake her shoulders and also to run like hell as far as I could for as long as I could.
Her hand turned slightly and she held up a piece of paper from the file in front of her. "I know you wanted to have a baby, but it's just not possible."
I wheezed once physically caving forward. The wrinkles around her eyes softened to comfort me and I couldn't handle it. I wanted her comfort to mean so much more this time. I couldn't stand it if it was just more of the same. That hurt even more than what she told me. I stepped back and back into the hallway. Nae stood and stepped around her desk. "Addison." She called out to me. Another step back and Dell was suddenly behind me. I turned shocked and staring into his own wide open eyes and concerned face. "Addison." I heard her calling my name, but it was too much. Everything was happening all at once and suddenly there was so much more distance between us than I could have imagined. The pain was everywhere and nowhere. It was a phantom of my imagination, but it was also crushingly real.
The fresh air, if you could call it that, burned down my throat. I looked up and down the street, but headed for my car. I got on Highway 1 going south and managed to hit every green light until the sun set on the horizon behind me.
How come the sunsets were the prettiest when you were in a state? The phone kept ringing at various intervals, but I kept devouring the little white lines between the lanes of the road on my way back. Safe inside my hotel room I finally answered the phone. "Okay. I'm back. What, Nae?"
Stunned that I finally answered the phone Nae was speechless. I heard her mouth open and close a couple of times on the other end of the line. "Addison, please, can I talk to you in person? I, uh, I'm, I'm sorry about today, but I don't want to just say I'm sorry again. Please. Addison."
Doctor, friend, or lover: I had no way to know what Nae was coming to see me as. All I knew was that Nae was on her way over. I don't think I could have handled the domesticity that her house brought. Maybe that was why I was thinking all those things after our night together? I spent a lot of time at her parents' house (now her house) when we were really close and maybe that sort of rubbed off on the night? Yeah, right, I'll keep telling myself that.
I let her in on the third knock. The door hung open allowing her to step inside and I closed it after her. We stood facing each other suddenly out of words. I hoped it was dawning on her that there was more between us than the fertility test she gave me the results to. "I'm sorry that I worried you, this afternoon." My toe tapped along the line where the tile met the carpet and I followed its line with my eyes.
Air left Nae's lungs but I still refused to look her in the eye. I felt so open and out of sorts that even with her in the room I was reluctant to meet this issue head on. Nae flung her purse with a thud and then I heard her footsteps coming back to me on the carpet. Her hand crossed my line of vision and then settled on my hip. I could feel her heat close to me and I closed my eyes. She began rubbing up and down my side moving the shirt so she could touch my skin. Her other hand joined it on the other side as she stepped even closer to me. I focused on filling my lungs, but now it was Nae scented air. Her lips caressed my ear, "You are a beautiful woman." Her hands slid forward so that they brushed my breasts on each upswing. "Gorgeous," she said kissing my neck. "Amazing," her tongue teased my ear lobe. "A beautiful woman," Nae repeated as her hands firmly cupped my breasts and her lips brushed against mine. She kissed my top lip, then my bottom lip, but she did not linger. Her fingers teased the hardened peaks of my nipples through the lace.
"Nae" I tried to protest, to slow the rising tide between us. I wanted to be sure that we would survive this flood together. My answer was her lips firmly on mine, her tongue licking into my mouth as I gasped into her. Her arms wrapped around me engulfing me in a circle of desire that felt like an answer to my unspoken question.
Hungrily I pressed forward kissing her, guiding her, undressing her. No tears tonight, no discussion either, but I couldn't help but feel like Nae had come for me, that she devoured me with just as ravenous an appetite. The luxury of this bed was not like the home coming of her bed, however we slipped and slithered all over it making it our own. In the morning we showered together. It was quiet as if we did not want to break the bubble. I began to plan ahead, to think of breakfast, and later conversation. Her pager stole those hopes from me.
"Come to the clinic later." Her words placed with a kiss on my cheek did not speak any of the words I wanted to hear. I nodded dumbly, or numbly, I wasn't sure which. The door clicked shut after her and I wondered if I wanted to go by the clinic, or just leave. I stood there until it occurred to me that I didn't want to go back, but I didn't know where else to go. Frustrated I turned from the door and called for room service. I was in no mood to eat with the fake socialites downstairs and put on my happy face.
"Dell, don't forget to call the Swanson's for tomorrow. I'll need more gloves before my afternoon appointment. And Dell, please make a" Nae turned to follow Dell's gaze over her shoulder and lost her train of thought completely. My gaze fell from her eyes to her open mouth and I swallowed hard unsure of why I was here. "Addison." Nae whispered. Cooper walked by on the way to the elevator tossing a greeting over his shoulder as he went. Brought back to the present moment from wherever she had gone to, Nae squared her shoulders and turned to Dell. "My next appointment is in three hours. I do not want to be disturbed unless it's an emergency."
His eyes widened at her tone and he nodded, "Y-y-y-yea-uh-yes."
"This practice has just about everything, Addison." She reached toward me but did not touch. Nae seemed to want to guide me. I followed still foolishly hoping for answers if only the conversation could begin. We walked past Sam's office. I could see him smiling at a patient as they talked over his oak desk. Nae pointed him out though she didn't need to. "You know Sam is an incredible internist." A few more steps and she pointed out the conference room, and then we rounded on the other offices. "Violet covers psychology, Cooper covers pediatrics, and Pete specializes in healing that's not covered by the rest of us."
I came to a stop forcing Nae to as well, "I know all of this already, Nae." Exasperation was beginning to creep into my voice. My brain was as tired as my heart which made my body ache. "Your office is over there and you're a fertility specialist." I pretended to think with my finger on my lip tapping and then sarcastically I added, "I think you even have a break room and some exam rooms over there." I put my hand on my hip as I adjusted my stance. The pointy toe of my Louboutin's aimed accusingly at her.
"Ladies." Pete stepped out of his office with an appreciative smile. His eyes went up and down the both of us taking in the tension, intensity, and body language as we stepped apart. "Interrupting something?" His eyes twinkled and although I agreed with him, I wanted to throttle him.
"Just showing Addison around." Nae smiled a tight smile that screamed, 'get going,' and he did.
Nae waited until he turned the corner then grabbed my hand for the first time today. The heat of her palm raced up my body to my brain setting off my hopes all over again. Inwardly I groaned even as my feet followed her blindly. Her office was exactly where I said it was, of course, since I had been there before. I was pulled into her office, which was not a bad thing. Her body brushing against mine as she shut the door caused mini-explosions in my mind all over again. "The practice does not have an OB/GYN."
Nae's eyes looked desperate as they bored into mine. I found her face stormy, but unreadable and I hated it. We were standing too close for business, yet her words were not personal. Was there more under the surface or not? Hadn't we been scratching for a couple of days now? Were we both just unable to cross the bridge that time and silence had built between us? "The practice?" I finally said letting the hurt and larger questions taint my voice with sadness.
"I don't." Nae started and stopped herself. "I don't know how to talk to you, Addison." I stepped away from her, but she was quick. My hand was captured between both of hers. She held my hand with hers to keep it still, but trailed her other fingertips up and down the back of my hand. "I want to talk to you, Addison. I do. I just. I don't know how right now."
I sighed. Her hand felt amazing touching mine, and we were approaching conversation about what had always been between us, but if this was any indication, then this was going to be very difficult.
"You want change in your life. You told me big changes needed to happen. The practice really does need an OB/GYN. Maybe " She trailed off and let her fingers entwine with mine as she closed the gap between us. "Maybe with proximity, we'll learn how to talk to each other. It can't all be kisses. Please, Addison." Nae's rose colored lips brushed gently at the corner of my mouth pleading for me to consider it, to consider her, LA, and the practice.
I closed my eyes and turned kissing her on the cheek and then holding my cheek against hers to pause the inevitable kissing. We had no problem with the kissing, apparently we were meant to kiss, but the talking was always ellsive as a result. "I'll have to think about it, Nae." I turned then and captured her lips with mine. This kiss was slow, gentle. It was as if we were trying to start over just like our words needed to. Back at the beginning, only lips, only mouths. A place to start from, a promise made, hopes renewed and possibilities hinted atall in a simple kiss that lead to another kiss and another. Yet we only kissed and then at length we held each other. "I'm going to need a good realtor."
We pulled away each sniffing back little tears that had snuck up behind our eyes. Looking at each other fresh and new was amazing and I felt that we would be able to find a common language since we already had a common ground. We giggled nervously at each other and Nae went around to her desk pulling out a card from an indexed box. "Think about it then, Addison. Please." Nae approached me again sliding the card into my hand and holding my cheek in her warm palm. I let her pull me to her for once not fighting the magnetism between us.
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