DISCLAIMER: Watch out, this is femslash (lite). Don't read it if you're not into this sort of thing. I own nothing of Grey's Anatomy. I'm only having fun with the characters I'm fast becoming obsessed with.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This was written before I learned of Brooke Smith's canning from Grey's, and now that I know, it has become (what will probably be) my last hurrah to Hahn/Torres. Weep! Thanks to my Mighty Editor Goddess, Brenda S., and to Jules68. This is my eighth Grey's Anatomy story. Written in early November, 2008.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
To See Clearly
"I have to go." Looking pained and uneasy, Callie turned and left the room.
Erica waited until she heard the outer door snick closed before allowing the hot tears to fall. She could not remember if she had ever cried like this; that is, tears of profound joy coupled with those of abysmal sadness. It was a bittersweet, terrible mix that made her stomach tighten and her hands shake.
Dragging herself from sheets that held Callie's scent, Erica hung her legs over the edge of the mattress, and with her shaking hands on either side of her bare thighs, openly wept great heaving sobs that left her throat raw and her legs soaking wet.
Her brilliant mind went blank with the intensity of the lamentation. Long after the tears had ceased and her stomach stopped clenching, she could not think past the effort of breathing, rocking back and forth on the edge of the bed until her lower back ached and her lungs were begging for full inflation.
Finally, finally, there was no energy left to move or make a sound. Sitting forward in complete silence, staring at the carpet and her tear-stained feet, Erica felt her mind begin a plodding journey back to itself. Into this unnatural stillness came punishing recollections of the past few weeks
Talking Callie off the ledge of her panic about the therapeutic hypothermia treatment for Phillip Loomis.
Feeling uncharacteristically delighted when Callie admitted that even though she didn't like kissing girls, she liked kissing Erica.
Overhearing Callie in the break room, sticking up for her when Sloan wouldn't let up on his devilment. It had even sounded like Callie threw something at him.
Delighting again in being able to invoke Callie's musical laughter when she made a crack about being jealous of Sloan because he'd seen Callie naked.
Touching Callie's back at the sink while she was helping Callie move into her new apartment. Ever-so-casually asking her to dinner.
Watching Callie's ass as she moved fluidly down the hospital corridor. Enduring the embarrassment of being caught out by Bailey, covering what she knew was a huge grin with a brusque "What?" But she knew she wasn't fooling anyone, least of all Miranda Bailey.
Seeing Callie in that beautiful burgundy dress at dinner. Quieting Callie's inane babbling about rules and embassies, safe words, and going "below the Mason-Dixon Line of her pants" by offering Callie her own glass of wine and suggesting they take it slow, maybe only first base.
Going all gooey inside when Callie suggested "maybe second base, too."
Making love that first time, right after they'd finished congratulating themselves on how mature they were being by taking it slow. That night had been true bliss. Callie's hands on her had been so natural, so knowing, it was hard to believe Callie had been worried about "going south."
Asking Callie the next day if she wanted to go for coffee. Touching her again on her lower back. Trying to hide her hurt when Callie made it clear she did not like the touching or the sex with a girl.
Remembering the unbelievable thirty minutes in the doctor's lounge that very same day when Callie had stormed in and demanded that Erica "take off her pants" so they could "try it again." And to think, she almost hadn't
And now, here she was, bereft of the one thing she had dared surrender to Callie: her sturdy, unbreakable heart, now shattered in the harsh light of day and the double-edged knowledge that she was truly, fully, amazingly homosexual, and Callie was not, nor could Callie seem to see anything beyond those facts.
It was all entirely too much for Erica, forcing a mirthless chuckle from her sore throat. Never in her life had she felt this way; never had she allowed herself to, not for any reason. Eyes burning, she blinked, inhaled deeply, and stood, her knees and back popping like an old woman's, and began to tread slowly toward the bathroom.
In the shower, her anger returned. It was as hot as the water, and more than that, it was familiar and oddly comforting, something she could use as a weapon to defend the heart she had painstakingly put back together on her trip from the bedroom to the bath.
Erica's day at the hospital started at the bottom and went downhill from there. Using her anger as a shield as well as a weapon, she kept everyone on their toes and at arm's length, hissing and spitting at every opportunity. It was working out splendidly until Bailey forced her to be on a surgical team that could no more save a ten-year-old girl with a tumor than it could breathe in space.
At the preliminary meeting, Erica refused to suggest anything positive, and they could barely agree on a way to start, let alone a way to finish. Her and Bailey's arguments spilled over loudly into the OR, until Webber couldn't take it anymore and ordered them during surgery to get over themselves and talk to one another. Thankfully, once they had done that, it worked out very well for the child.
It didn't work out as well for Erica. Bailey tore her a new one after surgery, telling her in no uncertain terms that she had been nothing but a pain in the ass the entire time and didn't deserve any of the credit for saving the kid. Erica knew Miranda was right, but couldn't risk letting down her guard for even the moment it would take to apologize. The wall she had built around her heart was high enough now to protect her from pain, but one little jostle of kindness would destroy it, and she couldn't afford that.
She had not seen Callie all day, and was writing up notes in the doctor's lounge trying to decide whether that was a good thing or a bad one, when the very object of her wondering came barreling through the door.
At the sound of Callie's voice, Erica could feel her heart wall begin to wobble, and steeled herself against further deconstruction by trying to avoid looking at Callie, which wasn't easy. What, what could Callie possibly say that would make things better? In defense of her heart, Erica raised her shield, this time disguised as spitefulness.
"You want to apologize to someone, apologize to Bailey. Thanks to you, I made her life a living hell today." She was thankful her voice did not crack as it had that morning.
Callie did not respond to this, instead saying, "I slept with Sloan," as if it would explain everything.
This shard of information was something Erica could have lived without ever knowing. Her shield switched abruptly to anger, the comeback forming easily on her lips. "If that's your idea of an apology, you seriously"
Callie cut her off, taking a step closer, and now Erica could see she was quaking. "Shut up! You were you were crying, and and seeing leaves, and I wasn't. Okay? I-I may never see leaves. Or maybe I will see leaves, but I will also see flowers. I might be a whole forest girl, I don't know yet, but I do know that I want to be with you and to do that I have to at least tell you the truth, and the truth is, I slept with Mark Sloan today."
It had all come out in Callie's usual run-on rush, and much of it didn't make sense, but that part about wanting to be with her and wanting to tell her the truth made abundant sense.
It was, of course, unfortunate that the truth included Callie sleeping with Mark Sloan, but at least Callie was not waiting until everyone else on staff knew but her. Callie said she'd slept with Mark Sloan today and it was still today, so that was a plus Erica figured she ought to go with. "Okay."
Christ. Perhaps this honesty business was for the birds. Still, it was painfully evident that Callie was coming clean and that it meant something. Wait. What had Callie said to her that evening a million years ago, when she'd kissed her in front of the hospital? It's better to be honest. This matters. Okay, then. "Okay."
Callie sighed heavily, clearly relieved to have gotten this far, but Erica was not ready to let her off the hook. "Listen, I bared my soul to you this morning, confessed my big awakening, and you walked out on me. And now you say you've slept with Mark practically right under my nose, but that you want to be with me. Forgive me for asking, Callie, but what the hell?"
Callie was busy nodding her head and pulling up a chair next to Erica. "Right, right, you're right to ask me that. But listen. Here's the thing. I-I slept with Mark the first time because I was I was, uh, testing a theory. Okay, this isn't going to come out right, but hear me out, please?"
What other choice did she have? At the risk of sounding like a broken recording, Erica repeated, "Okay."
"The sex you and I had was awesome. I mean, it was fantastic, but I didn't have a revelation like you had. I'm not I don't think " Another heavy sigh. "I'm not gay."
The gay thing was clearly bothering Callie, but Erica wasn't sure if she should address it. She was not quite at home yet with the idea that she was gay, though she already knew even if she and Callie didn't stay together, she would never again seek out a man for sexual company. So instead, Erica leaned toward Callie, cocked her head, and asked a safer question. "I agree that sex with you is fantastic, but this has to do with your sleeping with Sloan how?"
"I just wanted to have regular old missionary-style sex with him. No dirty talk, no fancy moves, no nothing but sex. And we did. And it was fine. And it didn't help."
This explanation really wasn't clearing things up, but Erica figured Callie would get to it in her own time, so rather than insert another unnecessary "Okay," she waited for Callie to fill the silence, which she soon did.
"I had sex with Mark the second time because I wanted it to be different than the sex I had with you. I wanted it to be so different that I would be able to tell the difference and be able to know I was gay, kinda the way you did this morning. But Mark, he said the only real difference was he knew I'd slept with you but you didn't know I'd slept with him, and that counted as cheating, and Erica .Erica, I don't want to cheat on you. I can't say I'm gay, but I do know I want to be with you, and love, well, love is love, right?"
Erica had been following this admission right up until Callie said the word love, and then she derailed, feeling the wall around her heart fall apart and having a weird sense that the room had just gotten brighter. "Love, Callie? Did you say love?"
Callie tilted her head and offered a tiny smile, reaching her hand out to gently caress Erica's cheek. "Yeah, I said love."
Erica took the hand from her cheek and kissed the warm fingers, looking straight into Callie's shining dark eyes. "You're right, Doctor Torres, love is love, and as long as we're being honest, let me just say it again, I am gay or at least I know with almost one hundred percent certainty that I'm never having sex with a man again. So I guess if you don't mind loving a woman who, as of this morning, calls herself a lover of women, then I'd say we're good to go."
Callie snickered, and Erica marveled at how she could make it sound so sexy. "Oh, we're good to go, all right, Doctor Hahn. Wanna come home with me?"
Now Erica leaned back and patted the stack of papers on the desk, facing a rotten truth. Her extra time with Tori Begler's miracle surgery had left her with a mountain of backlogged paperwork. "I cannot think of anything nicer, but I've got at least three hours' work to do yet. Can I meet you there? I'll bring the wine."
"That sounds great." And now Callie hesitated, shifting her eyes away from Erica's and then quickly back. "But, uh, if I see Mark on my way out, I'm going to ask him to Joe's for a drink, okay? I know you think it's ridiculous, but he helped me today, he really did."
Ridiculous, indeed. Erica bit her tongue against the nasty remark she wanted to make, remembering just in time about the honesty. Callie had never claimed that Mark was not her friend; in fact, she had always claimed just the opposite, and Erica was smart enough to know if she didn't start right now trusting this woman, there would never be any trust. Their trust issues, especially when it came to Mark Sloan, were far from resolved, but this could at least be a hopeful beginning. "As long as you promise not to do him on the bar."
Their easy laughter was a balm to Erica's frayed heart. What Callie added was a balm to her soul.
"I promise not to 'do' anyone but you as long as you'll have me."
Knowing she was crying again, but this time for profound joy alone, Erica stood and reached for Callie, and Callie came straight into her arms without hesitation.
Papers fluttered silently to the floor.
You have come it is well
How I longed for you!
And once more you add fire
To the fire of love in my heart!
--Sappho, 612 B.C.
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