Author: Chelle Storey-Daniel
Pairing: Mark/Callie Callie/Hahn
Summary: What happens when a man steps up and offers you everything you've ever wanted at the same time that a woman does? What happens when you're feeling things that you've never felt before and you question everything you thought you knew about yourself. Callie takes a journey that is rocky, wonderful, terrifying, and breathtaking as she realizes that there is one heart too many in her life and that's the one that she will have to break.
Dedicated: To the readers. Thank you!
There’s something that changes inside you when the balloon that you tied around your wrist to carry your dreams in floats away. I felt it loosen last night at Erica’s house, when that woman stepped on the porch and was no longer just a voice, and then it slipped off and floated out of my reach when Mark jarred me enough with sex to make it come undone. I gave him all of me. It wasn’t as raunchy as it has been before, but what it lacked in raunch was more than made up for with positions and eagerness. It wasn’t mechanical for me. I was in it all the way and I begged him for more. I spoke his name like a chant and played guitar strings on his back with my fingernails. I wrapped my legs around him and let him slide into my body and straight into my heart. In a way ... it felt like closing a door and opening another one.
A closet door.
A living room door.
This is the life I am choosing as opposed to the life that chose me.
I want this. I want the normal, vanilla, non-controversial joy of introducing my *boyfriend*. I want the domesticity, the photos of us in frames, our clothes touching in the closet and him mapping me enough that he knows my every weakness. I want petty arguments and his dirty socks under my feet and I want this. I do. He has never really hurt me. Not really. I let him think he did so that I wouldn’t hurt him and maybe he’s pushy at times and he can bring blood with the crack of his tongue when he’s pissed of ... but he’s never really, truly pulled the rug from under me the way that other people have. I can do this. I can settle into this routine and I can be happy and I can keep him happy and I won’t have to ever say anything to him about Erica. Ever.
I wake up with him kissing my stomach and I flip him onto his back and kiss *his*. I climb on top of him and I don’t think about scars or *her* or balloons or dreams. I think about him and how he fills me. By the time we leave for work ... we’re out of condoms and I can barely close my legs without flinching. You know ... I didn’t feel anything like pain the morning after Erica and I had sex. I just felt ... sated, but as I walk into the hospital next to Mark ... I’m sore. And when he kisses me so intensely that someone whoops at the end of the hallway ... the word ‘convenient’ flashes through my mind. That’s what Erica said last night about her slut and when Mark smiles at me and I see his heart on his sleeve ... I wonder if that’s what I’ve reduced him to. Is he just convenient? Do I really love him?
Do I want to?
When he tells me to have a good day and turns my collar down with a wink ... I decide that I do love him. It’s not the tumbling, falling, freezing, heated, and bittersweet fucking MESS that I have with Erica, but it’s there. See, I didn’t set out to tame Seattle Grace’s manwhore. I thought about it the day I smiled at the nurses in challenge, but it was a thought ... not something *I* could do. Not *me*. I’m that girl in school that he would have stuffed in lockers. I’m the girl who had frizzy hair that would have begged for his spitballs and big, thick glasses that he probably would have snatched and hidden. And he’s that guy that every girl like me sat in English class watching because he was so unattainable and flawless that we secretly scrawled his name in our notebook with a heart around it. I didn’t waltz out of Joe’s with him in the hopes of something like commitment, but that’s where we’re at. We’re living together and fighting over the remote and bitching about leaving toilet seats up and who’s using all the hot water. We’re playful and our banter is sometimes so funny that we just stop talking and laugh at each other. He can make my sides ache with his goofy outlook on life and I can make him howl with laughter when he hears my cynical one. And we are good in bed. Make no mistake about that. We are GOOD IN BED.
What I should be doing ... is thanking my lucky stars that he saw me crawling after Miami and showed me how to stand up again. What I should be doing is showering him with love and devotion the same way he showered me with cold water and forced me to wake up. Everything is all about what I should be doing and I know that I should be doing it ... but I can’t. What I am doing ... is wondering why he chose me and whether I want to be chosen.
I watch him walk around the corner. He’s typing something on his Blackberry and I smile when mine vibrates.
‘It’s a little late for Sunrise Waffles, but I’m asking you for tomorrow. You in?’
I chuckle and text back, ‘Depends. You plan on letting me get any sleep because we’re both off and I don’t want to see sunrise anything.’
‘Cancel waffles. How about a full body massage?’
‘How about sleep?’
‘You need it. You talked in your sleep all night. Is that a girl thing? I don’t talk about Derek. Do I?’
I nearly drop the phone out of my hands and do a weird hand flapping dance to get it back under control. I do drop my purse and scramble to grab everything. I feel all eyes on me and I look back down the hall where he vanished. He’s peering around the corner at me and when he catches me looking he pretends that he’s engrossed in the fire alarm. He pretends that he didn’t see me flake out. His face is actually a little red and I wonder what he’s thinking about dating a klutz. I try to laugh it off and have eye sex with him.
He doesn’t really help me out with that. He just ... looks at me.
I’m pretty good at guessing what his looks mean, but this one is not one I’ve seen before. It’s ... uncomfortable.
My smile fades and I feel a hot poker race up my spine. I lift my head a little higher and I know that she’s standing right behind me. If I ever find a field of lilac bushes ... I will rent a bulldozer and not stop until its all mulch. Fuck lilac. I can feel her just a few inches behind me and I swear that her fingers brush against the back of my shirt. Those fingers touched someone else. That’s what I’m thinking and I don’t have a right to think it at all because my *everything* touched someone else, but I can’t let it go. God, rage explodes in me. It’s like pure, undiluted furor and I turn my head just a little to let her know that I heard her before I walk away.
And fuck her.
"Callie!" she says it louder now, and I can hear the passion there, but I keep right on walking.
This is me ... moving forward and not looking back like my mother said.
"You okay?" Mark meets me halfway, obviously seeing the anger on my face.
"I changed my mind about waffles. Think the cafeteria has any?"
I see him look down the hallway again and I know he’s looking at Erica. "What’s going on?"
I shrug. "They don’t call her Atila the Hahn for nothing. She’s a bitch. She pissed me off."
"Since when does Erica Hahn cry?"
That stops me. My sneakers squeak on the floor as I draw up short. I have to do it. I have to look at her. As soon as I do ... I wish that I hadn’t. She’s standing there with her hair pulled back and her rumpled clothes looking like a hot mess ... and she is definitely crying. She’s also staring at me like I am her entire reason for being alive and her lips part as she mouths the word ‘please’. It’s the same silent way she said she loved me and it almost doubles me over.
Mark is still gazing at her when I grab his sleeve and pull him into the cafeteria.
I don’t eat.
Neither does he.
We both push our food around on our plates and he keeps clearing his throat like his big, huge heart has moved from his sleeve to rest there.
I don’t watch him choke on it.
I look away.
Mark doesn’t kiss me after breakfast. It’s the perfect chance to do the male posturing thing and strut from the cafeteria with a swagger that screams ‘I got laid more than you last night’, but he doesn’t. He puts his hands in his pockets and tells me he’s running late and needs to get his scrubs on. As tempted as I am to ask if he needs some help ... I don’t. If there had never been an Erica and there had never been a Miami and I had never felt her touch ... I would ask. Not only would I ask ... I’d be the woman he deserves. All my life ... I wanted someone to love me enough that they told me every day, that they showed me without even saying it, and they wanted me. Mark is all I could ask for and I feel like I’ve tainted us by smearing him with the broken watercolors that I’ve been bleeding.
I owe him the truth.
I need to tell him why I hold back a lot more than I should and that me not giving all of myself is not about trusting him ... it’s about him trusting me.
And I don’t really have superpowers.
But like any good super hero, I hide behind a false identity and creep around a lot in the dark. Literally and figuratively. I pass most of the morning lurking in the basement where I used to live. Some of the lights are out and there are corners so black that anyone could be there and I wouldn’t see them. I surf the net on my phone, I try to nap on a pile of body bags but that’s too Emo even for me and I’m in Emo hell, and then I pace. When I lived here ... I didn’t fear the corners. I’d curl under the cover and fall asleep the second my head hit the pillow and I’d bounce back up and be the first doctor on the scene when a page came through. I went through the motions of life and when I lived in this basement ... I hated it. I felt sorry for myself but it was for very different reasons. I hated being alone here and now I've come here to BE alone.
I finally sit down where my bed used to be and lean my head against the wall. Right now? I miss this place. If I could step back in time and not get caught living here ... I’d still be here. I’d still be that recluse in the dungeon who hid away like a dirty, anti-social secret. I’d still be the first doctor on the scene and eat, sleep, and breathe medicine instead of this foul air I’ve been exhaling. I wouldn’t give a crap what people thought about me or worry about whether I had any friends because I had video games and seclusion and that was okay. I’d be happy. I’d still *be*.
Where did I go? Am I even here anymore?
When I was six years old ... I had a Supergirl costume and when my mother forced me to go with her to the grocery store one day ... I wore it under my clothes. I crept away from her while she was engrossed in the produce aisle and ran outside to the phone booth, where I ripped my dress off to expose the S on my leotard. I came roaring out of that phone booth with my arms held out in front of me like I was going to take off any second and ... I didn’t. It hurt my feelings so I climbed on top of a dumpster behind the grocery store to see if getting a little air under my cape could help me, but all I wound up getting was stitches in my head, a busted knee, and a rude awakening courtesy of my father’s spanking hand. That hurt my feelings a little worse than anything else, but he only left me crying in my room for ten minutes before he came back and cried with me.
I learned as a kid that you can’t fly ... I learned as an adult that you can ... I flew with Erica. I’m not talking about in an airplane. I’m talking about flying off the dumpster of my life and soaring into the air until I was windblown, exhilarated, and strong enough to lift the world in my hands and give it to her. If she had asked me to ... I could have bottled the ocean ... as long as it meant that I could dangle from her lips a little longer. I handled our morning after all wrong. Instead of running away and doubting what she made me feel ... I should have woken up in her arms because that was my only chance. My mother woke us up the second time so I don’t know what it would have been like to watch her wake up and smile at me.
Maybe it’s better to not know.
I sit against the wall until my tailbone protests and then I pace some more.
I get another text message.
‘Where are you?’
I don’t answer.
And when I hear my name on the intercom system ... I know it’s at HER request so I ignore it.
What I can’t ignore is a 911 page to the ER and I can’t ignore the man who fell off a ladder and broke his leg.
What I CAN do ... is not see George in him when he starts to scream in pain.
I see a brown haired woman with a pale blue robe and I make her scream again.
"You have to stop avoiding me."
I don’t reply.
"Come on, Callie! I didn’t do anything wrong and you know that. You *know* that!"
My iPod buds are in my ears, but the music isn't loud enough to drown Erica out. I turn the page of the magazine in front of me. Despite the fact that she once assured me she kept her private life private ... she acts like an angry girlfriend when she snatches up the magazine and lightly pops me over the head with it. It's not hard, but it is enough to make my ear pieces fall out and piss me off. I see Cristina's mouth drop open across the cafeteria and I count to ten. Where the hell is Mark?
"Just ... talk to me. Give me ten minutes."
"No." She taps the magazine against her palm like it’s a billybat and she’s an officer on duty. "If I have to smack some reason into you ... I will."
I angrily shove my iPod into my pocket and get to my feet. "Hit me with that one more time, Hahn, and I'm shoving it up your ass."
She does it.
So help me God she actually whacks me on the head like I'm a puppy who just pissed in her shoe.
So help me God I actually think it’s *cute* and I *want* to smile at her, but I can’t. I don’t.
I can only take so much self loathing in my life. Seriously. Just let me hate her, Lord, if it’s so wrong ... just let me hate her.
I glare at her. I don’t speak to her. I leave her holding my magazine and head for the door, but she follows me. Gripping my arm, she pulls me around near Cristina’s table and I brace myself for her to hit me again, but she doesn’t. She waits for me to look at her and when I do, she’s not smiling either. "Talk to me," she says. "Just ... say something."
"I said what I had to say last night."
"You didn’t say *anything* last night, but you wanted to. Tell me now."
"Damn it, Torres!" She rakes her hand through her hair and I think she’s forgotten that it’s pulled back because she makes little horns stands out everywhere. It matches the slightly demented look on her face and before I can say anything to insult her ... she starts to cry again. It’s not loud. It’s like Jasper ... silent pain that falls like buckets down her flushed cheeks and it speaks volumes about what she’s dying to say. And we’re in the middle of a crowd so she can’t voice it. Jasper is in the middle of a vast nothing ... so he doesn’t bother.
I could tell her what I wanted to say. She could tell me that the other woman was convenient again and I could let it matter enough to forgive her. I could break up with Mark. She could break her rule about on call room sex and I could dive off the dumpster with her and fly so high that gravity is just a word and not a reality. But I can’t. The difference between can’t and can is sometimes all the effort it takes to change the world and we still don’t do it. If I change my world now ... when I’m starting to settle into it ... I may never fit anywhere again.
She’s hoping. She knows why I was there, but she wants confirmation because that means that she’s not clinging to the promise of nothing.
I glance down at her neck. What I want to see is her pulse. I rested my lips against that pulse once to prove that she was real.
And there’s a hickey there now. Small, possibly accidental, possibly she doesn’t even know it exists. Possibly.
I suddenly don’t think she’s cute anymore. I think she’s hideous and I think that her eyes are too big and her mouth is too small and her hair pulled back makes her ears look big and possibly deformed.
I can feel my own face flush with color and that rush of blood to my head makes me cut her deep. "Perhaps you’d like to take a shower and look professional *before* you get to work tomorrow." I look her over from head to toe. "Because you stink. Like the *convenient* whore you slept with."
My magazine flies from her hand and hits me in the chest and when she walks past me ... she shoulder checks me hard enough to nearly knock me down. I feel like a house of cards that finally caved in on itself. It's almost a relief.
I turn to watch her walk away and see Mark standing right behind me. When he motions for me to follow him ... I already feel what’s coming. If the anvils about my identity crisis haven’t knocked him down with the truth yet ... I’ll have to. He stalks. I trudge. He nods at several co-workers. I don’t make eye contact. He looks mad as hell. I feel mad as hell.
He goes into the same on call room that he tried to seduce me in yesterday. Was it really only yesterday that I had the bravery to go to her ... and then the bravery to go to him? That feels like a lifetime ago. He sits down on the bed, then slides back and pulls his legs up, where he props his elbows on his knees. I stand at the door with one hand on the knob as if I can flee from whatever he wants to say to me just like I’ve been fleeing from everything else in my life. He rests one hand on his chin and I know that I’ve kept distance between us ... I know that I have kept one foot of truth between us ... but right now it feels like a vast desert and he’s dying for water. He’s dying for me to give him something and I want to close that distance more than I ever have.
I’m a coward who simply says, "What is it?"
The seconds tick past on the big, ugly, school room clock on the wall. I hear them. I hear his breathing and taste my anger and fear. I stare at him so long that the edges around him blur and I’m the one in the desert and he’s the one that may have been a mirage all along. When he speaks ... the room has been silent for so long that I jump ... even though his voice is soft. "What happened in Miami? What *really* happened in Miami?"
The irony of it is ... I’ve *been* him.
In the Archfield, I waited on the bed for George to come home and for him to tell me what I already knew. I waited for him to confirm that the lingering glances between him and Stevens were not in my head and that I wasn’t being gas lighted by my own paranoia and insecurity. I waited for him to confirm it ... but he didn’t have to. I thought that George blurted it too easily that night. I thought that the admission came from his lips like a warrior cry, but now I know better. Now I know that his heart was pounding and he was terrified of the words and of my reaction and of *me*. Because I’m terrified to say it, but I dig deep because I owe him that much. I owe him the world. "I slept with Erica."
The hand on his chin doesn’t move and I’ve only thought that I was swallowed by the quiet before. Now ... I’m buried in it and it’s a quicksand that pulls me under.
I was silent, too. When George confessed. I sat through an entire night with my back begging me to lie down and I didn’t say anything except ‘I forgive you’. If Mark says that to me ... I’ll know he doesn’t mean it.
But in my defense ... "We were broken up at the time, Mark."
"Is this what you do?" he asks quietly. "You break up with someone, sleep with someone else immediately, and then go back to the person you broke up with? Because I’m seeing a pattern."
"What do you -"
"You broke up with O’Malley and picked me up the first night I met you. You spent the next morning telling me that you didn’t have a boyfriend. Then ... you married him." He’s still so deadly damn still that it’s unnerving. "Then you broke up with me, slept with *her* ... god ... *her*..., and then you came back to me and I was thisclose to proposing. So ... there’s a pattern. See it yet?"
"Which part are you sorry for? Hmm? Don’t answer that." He lowers his hand and I can see the steely iron of his jaw. "Fuck off."
"Don’t say my name. Don’t ever say my name because it sounds like nails on a chalkboard coming from you. All this time ... since Miami ... I’ve been walking the straight and narrow for you ... and ...hell... you’re not even fucking straight!"
"Get the fuck out and go back to *my* apartment and get your shit and leave."
I start to open the door and I can barely see because my eyes are swimming enough to drown.
I look back at him, but I can’t make him out in the sea of colors. I can tell that he hasn’t moved.
"I did sleep with that nurse and her *one* breast was better than anything you have."
You know what the truly and fantastically pathetic thing is ... I didn’t believe him when he said he didn’t cheat. And now I don’t believe him when he said he did.
I don’t believe much of anything except that the Archfield is going to be seeing me that night.
And that’s exactly what happens.
I pack my clothes into garbage bags and leave them in my car when I get the hotel room. The bellhops know me by name and they offer to carry my ‘luggage’. I tell them no.
The Archfield doesn’t need a reminder that trash is in their midst.
I tell Webber I have the flu. I drain the wet bar in my room and the second the maid restocks it ... I drain it again.
Thinking with a drunken brain is just as hard as thinking with a clear one. You don’t find answers in the bottom of a bottle, no matter how much you nurse at it like it can show you the world. The third day of my self imposed exile finds me answering the door to Cristina and I haven’t slept any of the hours I’ve been here. I was expecting another bottle of rum from the bar, but she’s standing there holding nothing and I let her in because for Cristina Yang to visit anyone in their time of crisis is akin to the Virgin Mary appearing in Playboy. What? I’m hung over. Analogies only make sense when you’re not hung over.
She pushes empty bottles off the chair and sits down at the table. There are no food wrappers there, just enough empty alcohol to make her shake her head. "What are you doing?"
"I’m on a slow boat to China. What are you doing?"
Putting her elbows on the table, she sighs. "I’ve been calling you."
"Are you okay?"
"What do you think?"
"Mark is telling everyone that you broke up with him because he cheated on you and he’s saying he cheated on you because you’re a psychotic bitch. He’s acting like he’s not sorry. Is that really what happened?"
"Did Erica happen?"
I nod. I can’t ask about her because I can’t possibly sink any lower and just the thought of her has my stomach aching from crawling around on it. Through glass.
Cristina doesn’t look shocked. She doesn’t look anything except vague which is what she always does when she rolls newfound knowledge around her head like a ball. I give her time to process it. Hell, we could be here a while because I can’t even process it. She finally scratches her cheek and says, "What are you going to do about it? Because this," she gestures around the room. "isn’t working."
I feel it not working. I know that it’s not working. She doesn’t have to state the obvious. "How did you find me?"
"Uh ... I called the front desk and asked for your room number."
"Oh ... right."
"Actually ... Erica called the front desk. Then told me where you were. And here I am."
"Let me guess ... she said that you could scrub in if you come check on me? Or possibly come and poison me?"
"No. I came because I saw your little downward spiral last time so get your shit together, check out, and come back to my place. I know the couch isn’t much but it beats being alone and I have better cable channels."
"I have porn."
"I have a porn DVDs."
I didn’t bring any clothes in. I’m still in my scrubs from two days ago. She insists on driving. I don’t know if she took a cab here or if she was dropped off or if she walked the six miles from the hospital. Either way ... she drives and I think it’s less about the alcohol I consumed and more about the fact that she knows I’m too scattered to work a steering wheel. Not that I’d drink and drive ... hell, who am I kidding. Every time I’ve driven anywhere for months I’ve been drunk on lies.
I need to learn to be the passenger and not the driver because I misplaced the road map of my life. I had what I *thought* I wanted with Mark and then pissed it into the wind. I had what I *thought* I wanted with Erica and fear it too much to detour onto her street. I need a new driver right now. I’ll be Miss Daisy.
We only take two of my several bags into her apartment. It’s not because I think that Mark will come take me back home or Erica will sweep me to her place. It’s because I don’t have the will to do anything except sit on the couch. I still don’t shower. I still don’t comb my hair or brush my teeth and Cristina doesn’t tell me I should. Hell, there’s enough penicillin growing in the pizza box on the coffee table to mask any smell from me and her laundry is all over the place. It’s almost gratifying to be filthy. I’ve wallowed in the mud for a while now ... I should look like it.
I don’t start to cry until Cristina sits next to me. Her leg brushes mine and I remember that I have ill fitting skin and bruises on the inside and scars on the outside. Just that simple second of accidental contact breaks the well open and I let it wash over me. Reality can be a bitch.
I’ve turned Mark into a liar who would rather claim to be a cheater than a man who shared with a woman. He’d rather have people look at him with scorn and label him a manwhore, even though he worked his ass off to shake the label, than admit that I cheated on him with Erica. His pride is bruised. If I had cheated with a man ... at least he’d know how to compete. But he can’t.
I’ve turned Erica into someone who begs and cries. I punished her for doing the exact same thing I did with Mark. I pushed her away, loved her a little but not enough and then held it against her for following my lead. I gave her hope and dashed it. I let her in and pushed her out. And her pride is bruised, too. I chose him over her. I chose to be *his* and then expected her to stay *mine*. But she can’t.
And I can’t keep up with myself because I’m not just lost ... I’m turned around, upside down, inside out, and bleeding tears.
Cristina lets me lean on her shoulder. She doesn’t hug me. That’s off limits with Yang. She doesn’t do affection and she stays as detached as she possibly can.
But when she doesn’t complain about me soaking her shirt ... I know that she was holding me as tight as she could.
I breathe and stop resenting that I have to.
The nurses have a field day with me. On my first day back at work ... one of them puts a piece of printer paper in my locker that looks like an ad, but it’s not. It’s something they came up with and it says that when you keep getting cheated on ... the problem is yours and not your partners. There’s an eight hundred number. 1-800-You-Suck. I crumple it and drop it into the trash on my way out. They all look my way to see if I will react and I walk past them. Someone says ‘Loser’ in that valley girl, Paris Hilton wannabe, stuck up and stupid kind of way that makes my skin crawl.
I’m fifteen. I’m fifteen and there are spitballs flying and gum in my hair and the teacher is looking at me like she wishes she could help, but she was THAT girl, too, and they all like her now.
I enjoy breathing into a bag in the linen closet while I contemplate how important my career is to me because I know how to break bones and I can rage through the nurses lounge like a wild fire. I extinguish that spark before it explodes by scrubbing in on a surgery with Bailey. I’m there because it’s a decent place to hide and not because I can really help that much. I do what any first year intern could do and then I sit in the bathroom stall until my shift ends. I know that Mark is there because I heard him being paged, but I don’t see him. And Erica spends the day doing a heart transplant so I don’t see her either.
What I do see ... is a bottle of sleeping pills that night. They were prescribed to Preston Burke by Derek Shepherd. They’re on top of the refrigerator and the date is just two weeks after Denny Duquette died. Burke had been shot and I doubt that made for much rest, and the pills aren’t expired. So ... I take one and sleep that night so deeply and so sufficiently that I feel like playing music the next day in the OR. I scrub in with a dancing ‘Let’s Rock’ and my scrub nurse murmurs ‘Let’s Roll’ and I crank up the sound, remember why I’m there, and try to do my job.
I don’t do it very well.
The patient codes at the halfway point and it’s because I clipped an artery, couldn’t stop the bleeding, and then couldn’t call it either because I was too shocked that I had actually done something *that* ridiculous. Webber has to go with me to tell the family that little Johnny won’t just *not* play football again ... he won’t come home again. There are threats that fall just shy of my head on a stake and the promise of a multi-million dollar lawsuit that could be a knee jerk thing, but it sounds convincing as all hell. The family demands answers that I can’t provide and Webber gently reminds them that Seattle Grace is a teaching hospital like that even fucking matters. That’s a slap in their face.
Erica taught ME and I still bled her dry, too.
It’s hospital policy after such an error to submit to a drug screen.
I can’t prove that Ambien was prescribed to me.
Yeah ... getting suspended for two weeks pending investigation is like the icing on my fucking cake. No joy.
I sit on Cristina’s sofa again and wait for the walls to close in or just stop playing with me and implode. I wait for something and get nothing. I watch day turn to night twice and then my cell phone rings. It’s Jasper. I can hear my mother coaxing him and listen to him prattle about his dolphin ‘burfday’ cake. Go Shawty. He tells me he is having a horse at his party and teacups and Superman. He tells me that he will swim with dolphins (daw-funs) and play and dance and can I please come because he misses me. Then my mom is on the phone and she’s telling me that it’s the following weekend and I tell her I’ll be there soon.
I need home.
I may not like it there and I may resent the money ... but it’s way more familiar than this prison cell.
I pack that night and call the airport, then I drive there and park in the exact same spot that Erica parked us in when we left for Miami. I sit there for twenty minute before I can stop crying and actually get my luggage and go in. When you push people too far ... you can’t pull them back and as I sit in that parking deck and listen to the cars go in and out and feel the vibrations of planes coming and going ... I know what it is to be completely and utterly alone. All those people ... they have someplace to be. They’re either going to someone or coming back from from someone and I hate them all for it. I pushed. I never pulled.
I finally crawl out of the car and put on my trusty dark glasses while I go to baggage claim and stand in line. We’re all sheep. All of us. We do what we’re told and we follow rules and we walk orderly (don’t run) and if we’re lucky ... we don’t regret it. I regret following rules. I don’t think I believe in God’s rules anymore and I mankind’s rules can kiss my ass. I hand my suitcase to the woman behind the counter and tap down on the impulse to scream ‘fire’ into the crowd and watch them all run ... like sheep ... then head toward my terminal. I buy a book that I won’t read and sit in a chair against the wall and wait.
My eyes are closed when I hear him and I don’t really believe that he’s there at all until he touches my knee.
Mark Sloan is at the airport, too, and I raise my head when I that he’s in the chair next to me. I fight the urge to ask him if I’m having a dream.
"Cristina told me you were leaving. Is your dad okay?"
"It’s Jasper’s birthday," I reply like I haven’t taken a knife to both of our throats and have a right to speak at all. "Going home."
"Are you okay?"
He shakes his head. "Not really. No."
"Me either. Not really."
"Are you coming back?"
The thought of not coming back has crossed my mind a lot. Not just NOT coming back from Miami ... but not coming back at all. As in ... not waking up. Shut up. You’d have a death wish too if you had to walk barefoot on razor blades that *you* put down. He notices that I don’t answer and I see the muscles in his neck move when he swallows. I still don’t say anything. Apparently I still can’t be honest with him and say that I want to die and can he maybe put me in the shower again until I want to live. Because he will. He’s here again and that’s something.
There’s a movement to the left and I look that way. Erica standing a few feet away. ERICA HAHN IS STANDING A FEW FEET AWAY. Now I KNOW that I’m having a dream and it’s really a nightmare and the rabbit from Donnie Darko will probably show up, too. Mark follows my gaze and swears under his breath. "Is she going with you?"
Erica does that neck roll thing that tells me she’s as tense as I am and then she walks up to us like she’s not the River of Denial that I couldn’t swim across to get to him. "Sloan," she says by way of greeting.
"Cunt," he replies.
I put my head in my hands.
Can I please just wake up?
She ignores him and says, "Callie, I’m sorry about what happened with your patient. I - I told Richard that I gave you Ambien samples so if he asks you -"
"Don’t lie for her," Mark snaps. "Just because you’re a fucking dy-"
"I swear to God, Sloan," she growls. "I will make you a eunuch if you say what I think you’re going to say."
"What ... you don’t know you’re gay?" Mark challenges.
"What ... you don’t know you’re a dickhead?" chirps Erica sweetly. She looks at me and says, "Is he going with you?"
"What are you doing here?" They both ask each other at once. What follows is a litany of ‘fuck you, it’s none of your business’ and ‘kiss my ass’ and ‘get the fuck out of her’ and ‘you need to die’ and ‘fuck off before you die’ and an assortment of threats, taunts, and pre-school posturing.
"I’m not doing this." I push myself to my feet and pick up my purse.
Mark stands up beside me and here we are. We’re not the sweet trinity that Jasper, Erica, and I made on the beach. We’re an unholy trinity and none of us really want to be here because the air is freezing and the stench is clinging and it’s different degrees of personal hell for each of us. It doesn’t really matter to me that they came. It doesn’t really matter to me that the second I walk away he could strangle her or she could castrate him or ... they could go to the airport hotel and fuck each other until I’m just a footnote in history. The drama of it, the angst of it, the grand gesture of swallowing their bruised pride and being here just because I may not be here again doesn’t affect me.
You remember how I mentioned that there were two roads before me? I told you that one is dangerous to the point of risking my heart again and one is safe because that person looks at me and I know they would never, ever hurt me.
I bet you thought Mark was the dangerous one and Erica was a safe one.
Well, guess what?
The dangerous one is the one that I’ve been on since the beginning --- where three cars weave in and out of each other and clip bumpers until we keep spinning out and hitting walls. We’re three cars with no headlights, no destination, radios that play cheesy love songs and windows that don’t roll down to let in fresh air. We speed too fast, we go too slow, we tailgate and angrily blare the horn, but we don’t get anywhere. It’s a circle. A vicious, ugly, and pothole filled circle that we can’t get off of.
The safe one? That’s my baby brother and he’s in Miami waiting for me to come celebrate another year of his life and I know that if I let him hold my heart for just a minute ... he will clumsily repair it.
So, I pick the safe one.
I pick Jasper.
I walk right between Mark and Erica and my shoulders brush each of them.
I smell her lilacs and his Armani.
I feel them both looking down at me because they both have inches on me.
I hear them both say my name.
And I see one road ... one path ... one light at the end of the tunnel.
I’m going home.
The story really starts now.
Eee! This chapter brutalized me. I still don't know if it was emotional enough. I tried. :(