DISCLAIMER: I don't own any characters herein, and I will return them (mostly) unharmed once I'm done playing. I am making no money from writing these stories. As a non-profit interpretation of the original work, this constitutes fair use under USC 17.107.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
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SPOILERS: for "Rise Up" (5.07)
Throw You To The Wind
Callie knew it was over in an instant. As she watched Erica disappear into the shadows of the parking lot, swallowed up by the darkness, her heart clenched painfully in her chest and tears threatened to spill across her cheeks. She was an idiot, and she realized it just minutes too late. Something that had been so promising was turning out to be nothing more than another false dawn, in almost the exact spot it had begun (though, if she was honest with herself, it had been set in motion long before the kiss that changed her life), and she had no one but herself to blame.
The familiar voice came from behind her, not the last person she wanted to see, but close. Turning to face Bailey, Callie tried to arrange her features into a mask of calm, something she knew Erica would have been able to do in an instant. She'd never know whether she was just a terrible actress or the pang of hurt that stabbed at her at the thought of Erica had twisted her features somehow, but she saw the exact moment that Miranda realized she had stepped right into the middle of yet another emotional trauma; the only kind of trauma that served as something other than a challenge to her fellow resident.
Deciding to give Bailey the exit she was certain the woman wanted, Callie murmured, "You might not want to be here right now."
A deep sigh later, Miranda's hand curved around Callie's bicep, the contact drawing her forward as Bailey steered them towards the bench, "Don't make me regret this, Torres." Miranda sat on the bench that held too many memories, too much hope, and Callie had to force herself to join her. "What's goin' on?"
Eyes closed against the pain that flowed through her veins, Callie whispered, "I think Erica just left me."
"Well, what the hell are you still here for? Go after her." Even with her eyes shut, Callie could see the expression on the other woman's face. She'd seen it enough times, directed at the interns, and even occasionally some of the attendings. It was Bailey's 'how much of an idiot are you?' face, and in that moment, Callie felt like the answer was close to 'completely'.
Still, she couldn't make herself move, couldn't bring herself to face the conversation that she knew would only break her heart. Erica had made a decision, and experience had shown her that, once that happened, the blonde would be impossible to sway.
"Torres, if you're still sitting here in sixty seconds, and I see a single tear from you tomorrow, I will not be responsible for what I do."
Callie was still frozen in place, lips pursed against the sob that threatened to escape her. Swallowing hard, she reined in what little composure she could, her voice pathetic in the echo of Miranda's concern. "What am I supposed to say?"
"I can't tell you that."
Silently, Callie nodded, wishing with everything she had that someone could give her the words to fix the damage she knew she had done. As much as she wanted to be able to be mad at Erica for turning a conversation about work into a conversation about them, she knew the blonde had every right to be mad at her. Not just for her defense of the hospital, and Izzie Stevens of all people, but for the betrayal Erica had seemed to take in stride, but that Callie knew had hurt the older woman more than she had let Callie see because even if Erica didn't know her, she knew Erica.
Which just made her self-loathing deepen.
Sighing heavily, Bailey tried one more time. "Torres, either you stay here and let Dr Hahn leave you, or you try and do something about it. It's up to you." Tired, and wanting to go home to her son, Bailey stood, walking a few steps away before pausing to say, "I'm not her biggest fan, but you'd be a damn fool to just let her walk away."
By the time Callie looked up from an intent study of her hands, Bailey was gone.
Once Callie's decision was made and why it took her so long, she didn't know the drive across town to Erica's apartment passed in record time. She both longed to get to the woman she may have driven away for good, and dreaded the moment she'd be standing in front of her, not knowing what to say. Every option that ran frantically through her mind seemed trite, too practiced, not genuine enough. Meaning every word she was going to say wasn't going to be enough; she had to make Erica believe she meant it, and that was an entirely different proposition.
All too soon, she was standing outside Erica's door, grateful for the doorman who had recognized her and not thought that he needed to call up and check with the blonde that she wanted this particular visitor. Callie was certain that, had someone who didn't know her as Erica's friend were on duty, she wouldn't even have made it this far. But now, she was standing so close to where she wanted needed to be, she still didn't have any words. A second later, she raised her hand to the door, her knock more sure than she felt, realizing that thinking too much was exactly what had created the rift she didn't know if she could repair.
The sound of her hand on wood rang loud in the hall, and she held her breath, listening for the familiar sounds of footsteps on the other side of the door. In all the times she had been here, she'd never felt so uncertain, never not even been sure if Erica would open the door to her, never known that her presence was less than welcome. Her heart pounded, feeling like it was somewhere in her throat, as the moments ticked by and silence still reigned from inside the apartment.
She knocked again.
Finally, she heard the echo of feet on hardwood, but it only intensified the fluttering in her stomach, the sticky nerves Callie could feel rising on her palms. Frantically, she brushed her hands on her jeans, her mind in overdrive as the door swung open, Erica's voice dying in the space between them as she realized who was standing there. "This had better be... good."
Callie read the intent in steely blue eyes as Erica's arm twitched, and she flung out a hand to stop the door from slamming in her face, pushing back on it slightly as she implored, "Erica, please." She tried to pour everything she was feeling into her gaze as Erica's eyes met her own; her fear, her sorrow, her guilt, her love... but it didn't seem to soften the blonde's stance, strong arms crossing over Erica's chest as an angry stare bored into her.
" What do you want?" Callie knew that tone, but it had never been directed at her before. Not in the heated exchange outside the hospital earlier in the evening, not even when she had confessed to Erica that she had slept with Mark in all her panic over Erica's revelatory tears.
"I'm sorry." She knew it wouldn't be enough even as she said the words, but it was all she had, all she knew. She meant it with everything in her, and she had to fight back the tears that threatened to rise, knowing that Erica would only see them as false piety after everything that had passed between them. "God... Erica, I am so sorry."
"What are you apologizing for?" Ice dripped from Erica's question, the hard shell that Callie knew she used as protection firmly in place, though the red that marred the older woman's cheeks betrayed the reason it had taken her so long to open the door.
"Everything. I didn't mean to hurt you."
" Funny how you did anyway." Scorn settled across Erica's face, a defense she'd perfected through many years of crushing disappointments. She didn't think there had been any more shattering than Callie's willful mistreatment of the heart she'd entrusted to the younger woman, so she sought to reinforce the wall that had been hastily erected in her rush home. "Is there anything you mean anymore?"
The blow landed, and Callie winced at the blade that it felt like the blonde had twisted in her gut, searching desperately for any words that may make her mistakes right, make the woman she was only now realizing she could love may in fact already love - give them another chance. Her mind was blank, I'm sorry flashing through it like disco lights, and she gave in to impetuous desire, knowing it may be too late, that this instinct was the one she should always have been following. With a confidence she didn't feel, Callie stepped forward into Erica's personal space, forcing the door a little wider as she whispered, "This," her hand sinking into silky locks as she claimed Erica's lips in a fiery kiss.
Erica was still beneath her, the other woman's body like stone as Callie's tongue flickered across the determined set of her lips, begging for entrance, begging for forgiveness. Callie whimpered as Erica's resolve seemed to fail her, the soft warmth of the blonde's tongue meeting her own. Callie could have sworn she could taste the bitter disappointment she had given the other woman in her mouth as she tried to use the almost painfully soft play of their lips to show Erica how much she longed for a way to turn back the clock and do things right this time.
They kissed for a long moment, until Erica's stance hardened once more and the blonde ripped her lips away, both women gasping for air as they drew apart. Callie was reluctant to move any further than she had to, afraid to open her eyes in case anger still painted Erica's face, but soon found she had no choice on the first, as one of Erica's hands reached out to push firmly against her chest, insistent but without malice. When, finally, the brunette had no choice but to face the silence that had settled in the chasm between them, she opened her eyes to find that resignation poured from blue eyes into her own, the emotion somehow worse than the anger that had been there before. An angry Erica, she could deal with; the intensity of the other woman's rage may have never been focused on her before, but she'd been the only person at Seattle Grace that Erica had ever let talk her out of a rampage... though the ground had felt uneven before, Callie had thought it was still a road she could travel. But this... this tore her breath from her lungs, ripped her heart from her chest. Erica Hahn never gave up.
Only, this time, it seemed that she had.
They stared at one another for a long time, neither wanting to break the silence. For Callie, there was a tenuous string of hope still holding her together, and she feared that speaking would make it snap. For Erica... as much as Callie had hurt her, as much as she knew any dreams she had coveted of a future with the younger woman had disappeared without even a puff of smoke... she didn't know what the path ahead held, and that was something she found untenable. She always had a plan. So this moment, this heartbreaking moment that hung between them, well, it was better than what would come once it went away, once Callie became nothing but a memory. And for all the other woman had destroyed the bonds that had once felt so secure, love didn't just fall away in an instant, and Callie had given her something more valuable than she thought the younger woman would ever know.
Each woman studied the other, the damp eyes that seemed ready to spill tears at any second, the less than secure set of lips against the sobs that wanted to rip from them as they both realized nothing could turn them away from the directions they had set, divergent paths from the moment Erica had walked away... from the moment Callie had given her no choice but to walk away.
Finally though, Erica knew she had to let go, knew there was nothing but more pain waiting for them if they drew this moment out any longer. She opened her mouth to speak, only to find that Callie cut her off.
"Please don't do this." The sorrow was clear in Callie's tone, something fragile about her voice that Erica had never heard before, and despite her best efforts against it, Erica's heart ached for the woman she knew she loved, as stupid as she had told herself she was for falling too hard, and too fast into something she had never been able to control.
Erica's hand still rested on Callie's chest, and she laid it flat, feeling the rhythm of the younger woman's breathing, imagining she could feel the pounding of her heart, wishing for both of them that she could wash the pain away, make it so that things could be different between them. But she couldn't, and the knowledge crashed down around her as she murmured, "Callie, I have to go."
Callie clutched at the hand resting above her heart, holding Erica in place, sure that anything more than the scant contact between them would be unwelcome, but not wanting to lose what they still had, still clinging to the strand of hope that frayed ever more with each second that passed. "Please don't. Please don't leave me."
Tears sliding across cheeks that were already sore from bouts of crying that Erica had tried to push away with angry swipes of her hands over sensitive skin, the blonde relaxed the stern set of her arm, allowing Callie to take a step forward as she raised her other hand to thread one final time through the curtain of ebony silk she'd always remember, the sensation more intense with the knowledge that it was the last time she'd feel Callie's hair shifting through her fingers. "I wish I had a choice."
Suddenly vehement, Callie desperately pulled Erica closer, as though she could change the blonde's mind with the sheer force of her will. "You have a choice! Stay with me."
The cracks that already ran through Erica's heart widened, but she knew that Callie was trading false hope, that the damage was too much to repair, that there was no more trust inside her for the woman who had once been so much. Still, she let Callie draw her closer, slipped her arm up to loop around the younger woman's neck, sank into a soft kiss, salty with both their tears.
Pulling away, Erica dropped her hand from Callie's hair, brushing away a tear from caramel skin that was replaced immediately with another. "I love you, Callie. You should know that. But it's not enough."
Callie's cry was plaintive, even twisted through the sobs that pulled at Erica's heart, "Why not?"
Breaking like crystal, a thousand pieces spilling across Callie's feet, Erica pulled back from their last embrace, willing herself to stay strong though she knew she was shaking, knowing that to stay would only prolong the inevitable, she stepped back across the threshold she hadn't even realized she'd crossed, the door digging into her palm as she held tightly to the edge, hoping it would ground her. She felt colder now than she had before, bereft of the soft warmth of Callie's body. "You don't know what you want." She watched as Callie tried to process a response, continuing, "I'm not sure you ever will."
As Callie's mouth worked around silent words, silent rebuttals that she couldn't formulate, Erica couldn't resist one final touch, one more moment to file away and keep forever. Barely thinking, she brought her free hand up to her mouth, pressing a soft kiss to it before brushing her fingertips against the unbearable softness of Callie's lips. "Goodbye, Callie."
Summoning the last of her strength, she stepped back, swinging the door closed, savoring the torture of a last look at the woman who'd changed her world before the tears came in earnest and she sank to the floor, cradling her knees with her arms as she buried her head against them.
To no one, she whispered "I'm sorry", not knowing if the words were aimed at Callie, or herself.
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