DISCLAIMER: Grey's Anatomy and all its characters are the property of Shonda Rhimes and ABC. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This story is complete as is. It may be continued to additional chapters, depending on the interest of both myself and the readers.
SPOILERS: What if a different Cardio-God came to SGMWH during the episode "New History" (6x09). This story contemplates a surgeon other than Teddy joining the staff.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Second Time Around
By Nora C. Parker
Chapter 1: Gloria Gaynor Got it Right
The insistent buzzing would not be ignored. Callie Torres reached for her pager, but felt relief as she realized it was quiet. "Yours," she mumbled.
The groan that came from the other side of the bed made it clear that Arizona Robbins had made the same discovery. "Nine-one-one to the NICU," she mumbled as she pulled on clothes.
Robbins was almost out the door when a "hey" coming from the bed drew her back to her girlfriend's side.
"No kiss?" Despite the coherency of the question, Callie was making minimal efforts to stay awake.
"You get to stay in bed. I'm not sure you deserve a kiss."
"If you have to stay, I'll come join you for breakfast."
Considering the offer for half a second, Arizona bent down and gave Callie a kiss that hinted at the reason to get up early for breakfast. The low laughter as she pulled away meant the message was received.
As she tried to stand, Callie grabbed the front of her shirt and pulled Arizona down for one more kiss. "If you don't have to stay, come back and we'll skip breakfast."
That promise made Arizona smile. She placed a light kiss on Callie's forehead. "I've got to go."
Getting up in the middle of the night was never easy. But Arizona found something comforting in knowing that Callie was there for her.
At the hospital, there was nothing comforting. In fact, Arizona Robbins would go so far as to say that she hated these cases. Two frightened parents. One newborn with a serious heart defect that made it difficult for his body to get enough oxygen. A child that would have a very bad prognosis without several extensive and invasive surgeries. Even with the surgeries, there were no guarantees. Through it all, all the baby would understand was the discomfort, not that the painful procedures are being done to make him better.
The fact that they had to meet in the hospital room of a woman who had just given birth drove home the depressing nature of the case to Arizona. Most of the time the new mother was sent home in a day or less with her child. Now she'd be sent home, but back to visit as often as NICU hours would allow. And that was the best-case view.
"Julia. Ron. We got our test results back for Zach." She went on, describing the heart defects that had been suspected in the few hours since Zach's birth, and verified by the tests that she had ordered.
"But for the good news, there are some procedures that are best done within his first week and we caught this early. We've got an excellent cardio-thorasic surgeon available. I'm going to consult with her and we're going to work up a solid plan for Zach."
"So you can fix him?" Ron asked, his voice quiet. The couple was tightly grasping each other's hands, seeking any amount of support that one could give the other.
"Surgeries. And we've talked about the risks of treatment." Even so, Arizona recounted the basic procedures and the seriousness of the risks as she noted a few things in the chart. "I'm going to leave you with some information, and I'll be back to discuss any questions you have."
Something in the message seemed to work for the parents, as they both seemed to relax just enough that the hand-holding was no longer a white-knuckled death grip. Arizona knew from experience that most of what she was telling to the parents would have to be repeated. All the couple really wanted to hear was that their child was well, and until they heard those words, they'd filter out a lot of the information.
Leaving the mother's room, Arizona headed to her consultation with this new head of cardio. Time to see if Erica Hahn lived up to her reputation as a surgeon.
The morning had been so busy she hadn't been able to meet with Callie. She hoped that her girlfriend wasn't too freaked out with the information about Hahn's return. Arizona knew that things had not ended well between them. She sent Callie a quick text with apologies for being unable to join her for breakfast, and with her hopes that they would at least get a chance to meet up for lunch.
"She's here, somewhere, skulking around the hospital."
"Skulking?" Mark Sloan turned his head to the side, looking at Callie Torres. "I'm not sure that's an accurate term."
The on-call room was empty except for the two surgeons. Even so, they both were lying on the same bed.
The situation still didn't sit right with Torres. "Why'd she come back, anyway?"
"Needed a job? Needed some nookie."
Now it was Callie's turn to give her friend the stink-eye. "Hopefully it's the first. If it's the second, she's not getting any from me."
"You could talk threesomes again." Then Sloan smiled. "Foursomes? At what point does it become an orgy?"
The two of them chuckled. Callie could feel herself relaxing with his easy banter in a way that she could with very few other people. She almost drifted into a nap when the sound of the door opening got her to open her eyes.
"I see some things never change."
"Erica." Mark's greeting was so typically Mark.
As if she'd never left, Callie thought. Never walked into the night and cut off all communication. Still, Callie had been telling herself since she first heard the news that she had to be the bigger woman. "Hi," she managed.
"Callie, I was wondering if we could talk. If Sloan can spare you, that is."
While the last part wasn't spoken with the condescension that Erica could sometimes apply, the words still grated on Callie. One more person acting as if she'd never left. "Is this for a patient?"
To Callie, Hahn sounded almost unsure. Unsure was unlike Erica. The woman's hardline stances had made Torres feel like nothing more than once. But the fact that she now sounded unsure strengthened Callie's resolve for the action that she knew she had to take. "Then no, we can't."
Feeling good about standing up for herself but feeling her anxiety rising regardless, Callie climbed over Sloan and left the room without another word.
As Arizona wheeled up to the nurse's station to discuss Zach's surgery, she had no trouble guessing who was Erica Hahn. The disapproving look regarding the heelys was something she saw less frequently among her colleagues, but with some the look never went away. Arizona figured Hahn would probably fit into that latter category.
"Hi," she stuck out her hand, ignoring the disapproval still apparent on the other woman's face. "Arizona Robbins. We're scheduled to discuss Zach Tolliver. Newborn with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome."
"Right." Erica followed Arizona towards the conference room, still appearing skeptical that the woman before her was actually a surgeon.
"We've caught it early enough that we should be able to start with a Norwood procedure." Entering the conference room, Arizona passed over Zach's information before taking a seat. "Given his size and your reputation for vascular work, I'd prefer if you could take the lead on the actual procedure."
Now all Arizona could do was wait to see if Hahn agreed with her assessment, or if the other woman had any thoughts to offer.
Overall, the session proved tougher than Arizona was expecting. Not that Hahn wasn't good. On the contrary, Hahn was excellent at thinking through all of their options. She wasn't what Arizona would consider an optimistic person or even a positive person, but she was most definitely confident in her abilities.
At the end of the conference, with the plan confirmed, Arizona went off in search of Callie. The day had started way too early, and she hoped to grab a little time with her girlfriend
"No way." Cristina Yang stared at Meredith Grey, seated across from her at the cafeteria table. "Where'd you hear that?"
"The Chief told Derek. I don't think I was supposed to hear." Meredith looked almost apologetic.
"I think this is great news." Cristina's mind worked through the ramifications. As she did, her eyes settled on her roommate, Callie Torres, who had entered the cafeteria with Dr. Arizona Robbins. "Well, it might be great news. I'm not sure."
The quick change confused Meredith. "I thought you wanted a cardio god."
"I do. But, it's Hahn. She has history. With me. With other people."
"Well, for some reason, she's back. At least temporarily."
"As long as she doesn't hate me. Or kill my roommate."
Meredith gave a confused look.
"I don't want to pay all the rent."
Across the room, Callie and Arizona set their lunch trays down next to each other on the cafeteria table.
"I looked for you for breakfast," Callie said as she poked at her entree. "Actually," she leaned closer to Arizona, "I was hoping to see you before breakfast."
The smile that Arizona gave in response made Callie giggle, which in turn got Arizona to join in the laughter.
"Are we going to talk sex?" Mark took a seat across from Arizona. "Or you two can talk sex and I'll just listen appreciatively."
The response was a wadded napkin tossed by Arizona and a "suck it, Mark" from Callie.
Undeterred, Mark continued with "then maybe we can talk about the Chief's affair."
"There is nothing to talk about, Mark, only gossip." Callie shot her friend a stern look.
"What gossip?" All heads turned to see Erica Hahn seating herself at the table.
In response, Mark and Callie just looked at each other.
"So the gossip is..." Mark continued, only to break off suddenly with an "ow!" He looked to Torres. "Did you just kick me?"
"No, that was me." Unrepentant, Arizona gave him a grin. She turned to Hahn. "So, how's your first day back."
Erica's gaze fixed on Callie. "It's been interesting."
The table fell back to a tense silence, broken by Owen Hunt putting his tray down.
"So, Hunt," Mark started again. "Did you hear about the Chief?"
Uncomfortable with the scrutiny from the end of the table, Callie picked up her tray. "I've got a consult." She turned and hurried from the room.
This departure left Arizona torn. She was saddened by her girlfriend's obvious discomfort. But also hungry since this was the first chance she'd gotten to eat. But she knew that Callie would be out there, somewhere, hiding; she needed to come first. "I'll see you folks later." And, slightly less hastily, Arizona went on a search.
After a side trip to the coffee cart, Arizona was able to track Callie down. The ortho surgeon was sitting on a couch in a lounge, ignoring the journal that sat in her lap.
"You okay?" Callie rewarded her with a smile as Arizona handed over a cup of coffee, fixed her girlfriend's favorite way.
"I had to work on a trauma earlier and that pushed one of my surgeries to later this afternoon. Not sure yet how it's going to go until I get in there, so I might be here late."
"That's not what I'm talking about." Arizona took a seat next to Callie.
"It's just...I don't know. I'm probably supposed to be feeling things, but I'm really just annoyed at her arrogance in leaving, and then coming back, demanding to talk."
"She probably needs closure." Arizona tucked a bit of her girlfriend's raven hair behind her ear, glad for the opportunity to steal a touch. "You need closure."
"That's just it. I don't. I'm closed."
While Arizona was trying to not be skeptical at this pronouncement, skepticism must have been written on her face.
"Look," Callie took hold of one of Arizona's hands. "I think closure would have been great if she'd been in contact a day after, or a week, or maybe a month after she left. But she just left. And she left me without any way to communicate. And you know, I got over it."
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah. I really am. After she left I went into my whole celibate phase. Not my happiest time," the two shared a smile, "but you saw me at Joe's. I was a mess. I needed to deal with myself, with my getting into bad relationships just to be in a relationship."
Perhaps realizing how that might sound, or maybe picking up on Arizona's increased breath rate, Callie brushed her hand across her forehead. "Wait, I don't mean...I mean before. You know?"
"Before some hot Peds surgeon ambushed me with a kiss in a bar bathroom."
The two shared a smile at that memory.
"Then we took things slow. And that worked. It's been great. Our relationship, it's right, it's good. I'm happy." A quick squeeze of Arizona's hand was the means to reinforce her point. "I love you. I just see us going forward. I don't feel this need to step backwards."
"As long as you're sure. But don't feel like you have to do anything or not do anything on my account."
"That's just it. This, us, how I feel about us, this is for me." The smile on Callie's face could have lit the room. "Gloria Gaynor had it right."
"You know, I will survive. She felt like dropping in and expected me to be free, but I'm saving all my loving for someone who's loving me." With that, Callie leaned over and gave Arizona a kiss on the cheek. "All my loving."
Entering Callie's apartment, Arizona hoped that her girlfriend's prediction about her surgery would prove inaccurate. Given the fact that Callie was not home, though, meant that she was still tied up, either in the OR or pulled into a trauma.
The apartment wasn't empty, though. Cristina Yang was in.
"I brought Thai food, if you want some dinner."
"Thai's great." Cristina gave a genuine smile as she walked to the kitchen to check out what was in the various bags.
Early in the relationship, Arizona had felt guilty at spending so much time here at Callie's apartment rather than at her own. But she couldn't deny the convenience. And if Cristina minded, she had yet to say anything. Then again, between her take-out and Callie's cooking, each did her best to keep Yang bribed with food. Besides, it wasn't like Yang wasn't in a similar situation with Owen staying over much of the time.
"Owen covering the ER?"
"Yeah. He wanted to stay around the pit. I guess there's a couple cases that needed his attention. Where's Torres?"
"Surgery, I think."
That merited a quick nod from Cristina as she dug out some plates before helping herself. "Do you know if she talked to Hahn?" Immediately after asking the question, Yang looked up at Arizona. "That's not a bad thing to ask, is it?"
"No. No, it's not bad. And no, as far as I know, they haven't spoken."
"Just wondering. She's not too freaked out or anything, is she."
"Callie? She's fine." At least, that's what Callie had led her to believe. "By the way, Yang, ever see a Norwood?"
"No. What? No." Cristina became more animated, as happened any time a new surgical procedure was discussed.
"I'm doing one tomorrow morning with Hahn. Why don't you join my service tomorrow."
"Well, yeah, are you sure?"
"I can't promise any scalpel time." Arizona wanted to be sure Cristina had the appropriate expectations. "But yes, I'm sure."
"Wow. Okay. Thanks."
Inviting Cristina seemed safer this time, with the surgery on an infant. Cristina Yang might make a terrible Peds surgeon in general, but Arizona knew that the resident would benefit from being a part of this team.
After contemplating her meal for a minute, Cristina returned to their earlier subject, "they weren't anything like you, you know?"
"Callie and Erica. They weren't, I mean, I lived with Callie and I didn't know there was anything going on. Whatever it was. People didn't really hear about it until after."
Even with that attempt at reassurance, people did hear about "it." Arizona had heard about their relationship before she'd decided to introduce herself to Callie. Despite an anomalous retreat to the bathroom at Joe's, Callie never was one to hide, well, anything. Hahn seemed like the opposite. In any case, Arizona trusted Callie, and what Callie was telling her. She just hoped Callie was being honest with herself.
"How long are you planning to hide from me?"
When she'd entered the locker room it was empty. Hopes of making a clean getaway were clearly dashed, which Callie reflected as her face fell to a frown. She'd almost made a clean exit. "For as long as it takes for you to stop stalking me."
She could feel the heat from Erica's body behind her.
"There was a time when you wanted me stalking you."
"Yup. And there was a time when you stalked away into a parking lot without so much as a good-bye." Callie slumped onto the bench. "What do you want, Erica?" She still had not turned to face the other woman.
"I'm sorry." The words were so quiet they were almost a whisper.
"Okay, Apology accepted." Callie stood again and turned, only to find her way blocked by Erica.
"I didn't handle things well. I know that. I've always relied on rules to give me security. You," Erica let herself smile. "You were way outside those rules."
"I have to go."
"I need you, Callie. I love you."
The fingers closing loosely around her wrist was unexpected. But the contact let Callie realize that she no longer felt any special sensations from Erica's touch. At one time this would have been contact that she was craving. Now, it was just one more annoyance keeping her in this room. "Let go."
Erica's lips were on hers in an instant. The intrusion, the kiss. It was all too intimate, too presumptive, too much. Callie pushed the other woman back. "No. No. You don't get to do that." Her voice was low, cold.
"Everything okay in here?"
"Fine." Callie looked over at Owen Hunt who was standing in the doorway, and seemed quite confused at the scene in front of him.
Erica dropped her hold on Callie's wrist. Callie pushed past her, past Owen Hunt, and left without another word.
Finally home, Callie smiled as she found Arizona already in bed. As if all was indeed right with the world.
"There's leftover Thai in the fridge."
"Not hungry." Callie quickly changed out of her street clothes and pulled on a night gown. "Too tired to eat." She crawled under the covers, and rolled onto her side, facing Arizona.
"Yeah?" Compelled by the drawn look on her girlfriend's face, apparent even in the dim light, Arizona reached out and stroked Callie's cheek. "You sure you're okay."
"Okay." Arizona chewed on her bottom lip, somehow feeling nervous about that pronouncement. "So, you don't want to talk?"
Callie rolled onto her back. "Erica kissed me."
"What?" The response probably came out sharper than she intended, as Arizona saw Callie turn quickly to face her again.
"I was trying to leave, and she came in the locker room and," Callie reached out and took hold of Arizona's hand. "She kissed me, told me she loved me."
"So what'd you do?"
"I told her I wasn't interested and left."
"And you're sure you're okay."
"Me? I'm great." Callie brushed her lips across Arizona's knuckles. "Now, I'm wonderful."
"You are, are you?"
"I am. And maybe I'm a little less exhausted."
"As long as you are." Drawing herself closer to Arizona, Callie's next kiss was full on her partner's lips. "Maybe I can give you a hint of what you missed this morning."
"Hmmm." Arizona drew Callie into an embrace. "I think this is something I need to know."
In the apartment's other bedroom, Owen had returned and was preparing to join Cristina in her bed.
"I'm not falling into the trap of saying that." He gave his girlfriend a smile. "But I had no reason to stay."
He watched her for a moment as she leafed through a journal. "Mind if I ask a question?"
"What's up between Torres and Hahn?"
"Huh?" That question got Cristina's attention. "Nothing, I don't think. Why?"
"I walked in on them kissing."
"Here?" Because she knew Arizona was sleeping here and that would be really beyond strange.
"No, over at the hospital."
"Really?" The situation maybe didn't sound quite as positive as Arizona had made things seem between she and her girlfriend. Not to mention, Cristina hoped that if something was happening, whatever was happening, that it wouldn't interfere with tomorrow morning's surgery.
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