Author: Chelle Storey-Daniel
Rating: R - implied
Summary: Callie and Mark just work as friends, but something happens to make them admit that being friends isn't nearly as good as being lovers.
A/N: If you've followed my fics, you know all about my friend Rebe who had cancer. She was in remission for months. And it's back. So, she asked me for a Mallie fic with an ending that SHE wants. Rebe, you will get this happily ever after. I have nothing but faith.
Her eyes are so brown they look black, but when she laughs he sees flecks of gold in them. That's what her laugh is worth, he decides. It never comes often anymore but when it does, he joins in and waits for that wonderful explosion of golden mirth to twinkle in her eyes. She belly laughs when he tells her about the latest vain woman he is operating on and he exaggerates the story so much that it doesn't resemble the truth just to keep her going. Because when Callie laughs, Mark feels like a miracle worker and that's a pretty good thing for someone who never knew miracles existed. And she needs to laugh because most days her eyes are puffy from crying and he’s tempted to get on George O’Malley’s case just a little bit harder than he usually does. Putting him on puke duty for three solid months had done little to help Callie out. He makes a mental note to see if shit duty has any greater effect.
Today, he tells her about the first boob job her ever performed. "They hung to her knees. I am not lying."
"How old was she?" Callie queries.
He thinks about his answer, ponders how to make it funnier. "He was in his thirties."
"I want it noted that I did not perform his sex change or do his breast enhancement. My tit job would not have popped."
"His tits popped?"
"He wanted to be a woman, but he couldn't give up boxing. Where do you think his opponent aimed? Those things looked like saddle bags."
"You're making that up!"
"I do not lie about tits or sports."
And there it is. The punch to his shoulder, the peal of laughter, the way she grips his arm as she puts a hand to her chest. Those are the moments that Mark Sloan looks forward to the most.
He is starting to think that she was the only woman he wanted to need. She was fitting that bill quite nicely.
Her hair is so black that it looks almost blue in the harsh lights of the hallway. She’s been experimenting with it and apparently coerced Cristina into trying something new with hers as well. Yang’s hair suffered hideously pale highlights that wash out her complexion and give her the unmistakable air of a stripper with five inch roots who suddenly forgot how to dance. Callie, on the other hand, got her curls in hand and alternates between wearing it up, down, braided, and bone straight. Mark likes it that way, straight and simple. It’s almost like a starry night as the lights bounce off it. Her appearance changes to a sunny day when she smiles at him and gives him a cup of coffee. It’s just the way he likes it and he notices that the lip gloss she is wearing it a new shade.
For the rest of the day, he wonders how it tastes.
That night, he meets her at the Emerald City Bar where he opens a tab and easily chats with her about his day. Up until now ... no one has ever asked him about his day. Not really. Not in the way that she does when she holds his eyes and really listens to him tell her that losing a patient that afternoon cut him bone deep. Her hand goes to his arm and it’s warm and reassuring. He stares down at her long, soft fingers. Those same fingers break bones and mend them, operate with precision and skill, and stroked him persistently in the car on the way back to her hotel room the one and only night they had sex. Three times. It feels like a lifetime has passed since that one night and he sips his beer under the guise of still being overcome with grief so that she will leave her hand there. When she moves it away, he gooses her in the ribs just to earn a slap on the arm because she makes the same exasperated face every time she does it ... and the freckles on her nose seem to undulate when she scrunches up her features and glares at him.
They go on that way for months.
He teases her.
She teases him.
It seems to work out perfectly because after a while, Cristina moves in with Meredith and Callie takes her room. Mark takes the couch and he lies awake staring at the ceiling most nights because he can smell her so strongly against the cushions. He finds himself wondering if she brought any men home to that couch. It makes for many sleepless nights and very cranky days. She does all the things that a *wife* would do. She cooks with gusto, introducing him to Cuban food which he doesn’t like, but doesn’t hurt her feelings about it. She nags him about leaving his underwear on the bathroom floor, but she still throws them in with her laundry ... though he’s positive she turned his white socks pink on purpose. She crawls his ass about not folding his blankets, tells him that he needs to not leave stubble in the bathroom sink when he shaves, and curses him self righteously when he leaves the toilet seat up and she falls into it after a night of drinks on him at Joe’s.
They argue over the remote control. They fight over the Sunday comics. He enjoys explaining why steaming hot showers, in which she fogs up not just the bathroom but the kitchen, are really bad for her skin. She retaliates by telling him that his twelve year old Adidas sneakers not only stink ... but they don’t have enough support and he’ll wear his knees out when he jogs because of it. As an added bonus ... she makes it very clear that she won’t operate on him when the time comes.
She likes to toss cold water over the shower rail when he’s bathing and when he does it back to her seven months after they move in together ... she doesn’t respond the way he did. Instead of howling like a knife was jabbed up her ass ... she sobs. It’s a hoarse, broken sound that he hasn’t heard since her divorce was finalized and he had tracked her down to the basement of the hospital and climbed over boxes of charts until he found her in the corner.
"Ihavealumpinmybreast!" she cries and he can’t decide if he purposely heard it jumbled that way or if he simply forced himself not to hear it well at all.
"I have a lump in my breast."
He doesn’t worry about overstepping hidden roommate boundaries or invading her personal space. He pushes the curtain back and stares at her. One arm is over her head and her free hand is placed on the side of her breast. Her eyes are wild when she turns so that he can feel it as well. His fingers curl into a fist as he struggles with whether to be her doctor ... or her friend. Because his heart decided long ago that he was never truly *either*. He’s staring at the woman he’s in love with and the bombshell she just dropped is theirs to share.
"Mark! Feel it!"
It takes everything in him to lift his hand, but he does it. She covers his own with hers and presses and there it is. A small, round *something* that could be nothing, but right then ... it feels like everything. He snaps to his senses when he feels that she has used all the hot water and nothing but cold is splashing against her flesh. He reaches past her and turns off the faucet and he knows that he needs to say the comforting thing, but he grabs a towel and bundles her in it instead. He feels her shivering harder than she probably does and he feels chilled to the bone on her behalf. When she steps over the edge of the tub she stumbles and he grabs her. She’s on her feet steadily, but he doesn’t let her go. He rubs a thumb over her cheek and pulls her against his chest, burying his face in her wet hair.
"It’s okay," he assures her. What he wants to do is wrap her in her coat, break the sound barrier getting to the hospital, and see whatever *it* is on a mammogram, but what he does is lead her to the bedroom where he pulls back the cover. She has stopped crying and is staring at the bed as if it’s a coffin. He can almost hear her thoughts. Wordlessly, he does the only thing he knows to do. Pulling the towel off and drying her body is a small thing to do to make her comfortable. Hair, he thinks, has never been his thing and he simply rubs the towel against it. It was the wrong thing to do, he decides, when he sees the tangled mess he has left. He offers to brush it, thinking it can’t be that hard, but she shakes her head and crawls under the cover.
"My grandmother died of breast cancer."
The admission sounds to Mark like an invitation. He doesn’t ask. He crawls into the bed next to her and pulls her against his chest. She is frozen, he decides.
And wonders what it will take to thaw her.
The doctor in him won’t let him tell her it’s probably benign because he’s not that optimistic and he knows what the odds are. What he says is the only truth he knows at that moment. "I’m here. I’m not going anywhere. No matter what."
Her gratitude is his undoing. He pulls her over to face him and gazes into her eyes. There’s no gold there now, only that hollow, blackened look that had haunted her for weeks after her marriage ended. "Callie, I -"
"It would suck so bad to have cancer and die when I’m finally happy."
"You’re not dying." He forces himself to smile for her benefit and hopes all the while that it looks more convincing than it feels. "You’re going to be just fine."
"What if I’m not?"
"We’re not going to think like that."
"Tomorrow ... I could find out that I -"
"And if that happens then everything changes. I’m going to get sick and -- I should say this now instead of later. Because all of the sudden time seems to matter more than it ever did." The way she looks at him makes him want to never let her go. She takes a deep breath and continues and he hangs on every word, hoping that it’s everything he’s dreamed of hearing. "You really have helped me. And I’ve never had a better friend. You’re my *best* friend and I could never thank you enough for being there when no one else was. I mean it when I say that you saved me. These past few months were better than anything I’ve ever had."
She trails off and looks at something just over his shoulder. He waits patiently for her to continue and when she doesn’t, he cups her cheek. It just makes sense to say what’s on his mind at that moment. It makes the kind of sense that flips his heart and makes him tremble slightly. "While I was saving you, Callie, I was also falling in love."
He is stunned senseless, but he smiles at her. "You know and you’ve let me live like a monk all this time?"
"I didn’t expect you to be domesticated."
His smile fades and he swallows hard, torn between being hurt and being amused. "What did you expect?"
"You to get bored."
"And what do you expect now?"
If she notices that he’s holding his breath, she doesn’t comment. All she says is, "For you to kiss me."
And just like that ... he knows that there has to be at least one more miracle in the world.
He makes love to her slowly and while she sleeps afterwards, he prays.
The following afternoon, he sits beside her in the Chief’s office when she’s told that she should probably lay off chocolate and cola because the breast fibroid that kept Mark up all night is benign. And common. And not a cause for concern. Her mammogram is clean and Webber gives her a prescription for an oral contraceptive that can help reduce the size of it and keep any more from occurring. Callie simply sits there until Mark pulls her to her feet. He thanks their boss and doesn’t bother keeping the bounce out of his step.
For months, people have openly speculated about whether or not they were a couple. Mark has fielded questions. Callie has fielded scorn from the nurses. And they’ve both ignored the playful ragging from their friends.
When he puts his arms around her waist and holds her off the floor so that she’s eye level, he doesn’t care that there is an audience. Neither does she. He kisses her like there’s no tomorrow because for a while it felt like there might not be. She responds the way he’s been dreaming about forever. She tangles her fingers in his hair and the kiss they share erases any questions their coworkers may have.
He can’t decide if her skin is caramel or bronze. Either way, he feels the need to stroke every inch of it that he can get to any time he’s near her. He bought her sweet smelling lotion for her birthday a few months ago, but he got the real present when she slathered herself with it and came out of the bathroom wearing only the skin that keeps him so mesmerized. It sometimes takes everything in him to keep from leaping up on the tables in the cafeteria and hopping up and down like Tom Cruise on Oprah. He refrains because she would kill him and not think twice about it. He watches her flip through the messages on her phone and slides a hand over her thigh. She meets his eyes over the phone and says, "You left the toilet seat up again."
"I know. I laughed so hard when I heard the splash. It’s a good thing you have such long legs, baby, because you would have been stuck there if you were short."
"But really, the highlight was when you called me every name in the book and threatened to not have any more of my kids."
"Your son’s teacher just emailed me. Apparently the highlight of his day was reaching under her skirt to see if she hid his toy car, which she confiscated, in her Underoos."
"That’s my boy."
He always swells with pride when his son does anything, whether it’s good or bad. He’s the spitting image of his father except for the eyes. They’re Callie’s eyes and they are just as expressive and *golden* when he laughs as hers are. And when the little boy cries ... Mark is always reminded of the night he was conceived five years prior, when Callie found the lump and looked at him with tears streaming down her face.
She jokes that they found a cyst and got a baby.
He knows that they found a cyst and got forever.
Just like he does every day, he thinks of a new story to entertain her through their lunch. She knows that he’s lying about the midget who needed a penis enlargement and she tells him not to quit his day job when he gets to the punch line, but like she does every single day ... she punches his shoulder, grips his arm, and puts a hand on her chest while she laughs. That hand has a gold band on it and a diamond that glitters brightly, but not nearly as much as her eyes.
Those are still the moments that Mark Sloan looks forward to the most.
Domestication is definitely not a bad thing.