Author: Chelle Storey-Daniel
Pairing: Mark/Callie Callie/Hahn Mark/Addison
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!
Ange, I'm still wearing lipstick and still dying, but you make me forget all that. :) :)
Reason number 234758 that it’s great to be a doctor:
Thirty nine hour shifts.
I didn’t exactly volunteer for it or necessarily feel like being on my feet for eighteen of those thirty nine hours with just two thirty minute breaks, but I’m not going to complain either. Summertime in Washington State brings out the crazies. It brings them out en masse. I don’t know if it’s the hit or miss sunshine that breaks through the clouds or the magnificent views to see while hiking that draws them from the woodwork, but their stupidity is my gain. You probably think it’s mean to call someone who has fallen off the face of a rock while climbing stupid ... but there are *ropes* for a reason and he neglected to use them. He didn’t use any safety gear at all because half a case of beer made him ten feet tall and bulletproof. He wasn’t feeling very bulletproof as we prepped him for surgery and I don’t know if my right hand will ever grip properly again after using a drill for around ten hours, however, it was a refreshing change of pace to concentrate on work and nothing else. I'll mourn the loss of my hand if Erica never uses hers again ... on me ... because I don't think it will ever be the same again.
I slept three of the thirty nine hours before being called back to the ER for ‘Rolling Thunder’. That’s what we call back to back ambulances that roll in so fast that it’s like the Indy 500 at the doors. Again, I need to mention that summer’s greatest yielding of fruit ... is fools. I treat an Einstein who jumped off the roof into a three foot kiddie pool to impress his five year old son. Yeah, let’s hope the apple fell very far from that tree. A woman comes in who decided to pick berries on the side of a ravine, got spooked by a lizard and broke her leg in the ensuring hilarity. And my personal favorite is the guy who put a canine shock collar around his neck and climbed a tree to ‘howl’ at the moon. I can’t wait for his toxicology to come back. Seriously. The sheer volume of idiocy is enough to make me fear for humanity. He opened his mouth in a wolf cry that turned into a scream of shock and pain because he had the collar on the highest setting, and every branch of that tree seemed to break something else in him. I thought it was bad to nearly die from an ulcer. No, it’s worse to say you got a liver laceration from being dumb as hell. Howl at the moon on firm ground and if you’re into pain buy a set of nipple clamps, dude.
I don’t say that.
But I’m thinking it.
What I’m actively not thinking about ... is Erica.
She’s been swamped, too. Heatstrokes and heart attacks seem to monopolize the board. I know she consulted with the woman who saw the lizard because she had numbness in her left arm, but she didn’t do it while I was around. I haven’t called, texted, or done anything where she’s concerned. I haven’t been to her house, either. I’m not going to apologize that she doesn’t trust me. That’s her own inner demon to spank and I’m not going to do it for her. I’m not going to do anything. Relationships are hard and I don’t have have to apologize for not getting it right all the time. I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t have a lot of experience to pull from with men and I have zero experience to pull from with women and she knew that. It’s not my fault if I don’t know which hoops I’m supposed to jump through and when I’m supposed to sit and when I’m supposed to fetch like a good dog. Erica had a very long relationship with Rachel so of course she knows how to do everything.
Okay, that was the pep talk I gave myself as I walked to my car at ten minutes past eleven at night. As soon as I sit down in the seat and drive to the Archfield ... I know I’m lying to myself. It *is* my fault. I knew that me living at the Archfield would hurt Erica. I knew that me living with Addison at the Archfield would absolutely destroy her. I knew that I was shooting myself in the foot when I agreed to stay there with Addy but what I didn’t know was that it would hurt so much to be left there by Erica. We have entirely too much passion in our relationship. If she had not mauled me under the table at the restaurant I would have had a clear head and *not* invited her to my room.
If my brain would just *stop* making excuses for me being as stupid as the rest of the world ... I’d drive to Erica’s house and try to make amends. Again.
Living with her at her house can’t possibly be as hard as living without her.
When I get to the room that I’m sharing with Addison, I notice that there is a sock on the door. This time it’s been tied around the doorknob and I get the point.
I don’t care that Addison is sleeping with Mark. Not really. He called her the night that he stormed out and I heard her crying in the bathroom when she talked to him. He deserves someone with passion and I really think she feels that for him. At least ... I hope she does. Because he’s a good guy and I don’t think you ever get over your first love. She was definitely his. Even at the height of our relationship, when he thought I was possibly feeling something for him, too, his ears would perk at the mention of her name. I couldn’t be jealous and he didn’t seem concerned if I noticed. And he’s moving on. He’s moving on and I’m standing still.
I decide to spend a little quality time with Jack Daniels. The door opens suddenly, before I’m three feet away. I cringe, expecting the worst ... and that’s exactly what I get.
Alex Karev is yanking his shirt over his head and when he sees me, he snaps, "Bitch is crazy."
Addison appears in the doorway and starts to slam it, but she sees me and her blue eyes register shock, then something like fear. I don’t watch Karev walk away ... I watch her. Finally, she steps aside and lets me in. My eyes go to her bed which is made, but rumpled to high hell. She sits down on it, but doesn’t say anything. When I entered the hotel, I was so exhausted that I think I dozed in the elevator, but now? Now I’m wide awake and totally freaking out. I lean against the wall, trying to figure out how the stupid that is blazing through Seattle got to her. "What are you doing?" I finally demand.
"I don’t know."
"Did you sleep with him? ADDISON!"
"MARK DOESN’T WANT ME!"
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?" I repeat, throwing my purse on the bed. "ALEX KAREV!?!"
"MIND YOUR OWN DAMN BUSINESS!"
"I CAN NOT BELIEVE THAT YOU ARE FUCKING KAREV!"
"YOU CANNOT HAVE AN OPINION, CALLIE! YOU ARE FUCKING ERICA HAHN!"
My bottom jaw drops open. "The major difference here ... is that I’m in love with her. You’ve been waxing poetic about how much you still love Mark so what are you doing?"
"None of your business!"
"Mark is my business, Addison. I care what happens and -"
"Yeah ... bullshit. You really have a great way of showing how much you ‘care’."
"He was good friend to me!"
"And you buried a knife in his back so don’t judge me! You are the one who fucked him up! Not me!"
"NOW IT’S MY TURN TO CALL BULLSHIT! DO YOU KNOW THAT HE STILL HAS A FUCKING YANKEE’S ONESIE! DO YOU KNOW THAT HE MEMORIZED THE DUE DATE OF THE BABY THAT YOU ABORTED AND WENT AND PUT A DAMN FLOWER IN THE BAY WHEN IT ROLLED AROUND!?"
"THAT IS LOW! THAT IS BEYOND LOW!"
"SO ARE YOU!"
I can say this for Addison Forbes Montgomery ... when she slaps your face ... you feel it all the way to your gut.
It sounds like a whip cracking and when it connects and my head rocks back a little.
She puts both hands over her mouth and shakes her head in shock.
She slaps the piss out of *me* and she’s the one in shock. "Oh my god. Callie, I am so -"
I grab my purse off the bed because I will not let her see me cry. I absolutely, positively will not let her see me shed one tear and it’s already rolling down my cheek so leaving is my best option. She tempts face by grabbing my arm because I am very, very motivated to slap her back. "Don’t."
"I didn’t sleep with Alex. I couldn’t." She tightens her grip on my arm. "I’m sorry. I don’t know what’s wrong with me."
I look at her. She stares at the tear on my cheek. I’ll let her have that one, but only that one. "I’m sorry, too. I’ll come back tomorrow for my things."
"No! Don’t leave! Callie, I am *so* sorry. I just -"
"You're not. Sorry. You’re not sorry that you called me a conniving bitch because that’s what you think I am. You’re didn’t come to Miami to ask me if I was okay ... you came so that you could see for yourself that I was out of the picture. And you didn’t ask me to stay here with you because you wanted me to ... you think of me as the enemy and you wanted to keep your enemy close."
"That’s not true." She doesn’t have much conviction in her voice.
This is me hitting the nail on the head and piercing the heart of our problem. "Yeah, it is. It would be easier if you could hate me. Isn’t that what you said?"
"Please don’t go."
I don’t reply. I don’t do anything except leave.
Addison calls my phone before I make it to the lobby, but I ignore it. At the front desk, someone calls my name and I turn, nodding at the girl behind the counter. She gives me a stuffed Fed-Ex envelope and I recognize Joel’s handwriting on the front. I called him to ask for Jasper’s medical records and scans. He took them from my father’s study and copied them all, then overnighted them after I lied and said that I needed to write a research paper about brain damage. My brother is gullible. Or maybe this is his way of making amends for thinking I’m a pervert. Either way, I’m not going to look at gift horse in the mouth. I take the packet and drive to The Emerald City Bar to look over it. And to drink. For what it’s worth, being slapped in the face will wake your ass up, even if you’ve only had three hours of sleep in nearly two full days.
It’s after midnight when I sit down at a corner table and open the envelope. Last call will be at two so that gives me plenty of time to sort through the paperwork and get it in order. Joe comes up and asks me what I’ll have and I think big ... four shots of Jack and a gin and tonic. He whistles and heads behind the bar. I begin the painful process of reliving my brother’s nightmare. The copies are decent, but some of the papers were clearly wrinkled when they were fed into the copier. I begin sorting by date and put the disc containing the head scans into my purse for safe keeping. By the time I work the bulk of the information into a cohesive time frame, it’s nearing one thirty. I’ve downed three shots and start to feel it in my stomach when a shadow falls across the table.
I glance up and see that Erica is there, looking slightly windblown and a little damp from the rain that was threatening to fall when I parked. She doesn’t say a thing, she just leans over and tilts my chin, looking at the mark on my face. Her mouth becomes a pencil thin line and I see a vision in my head of her tugging Addison bald. "She called you?" I ask.
"She called me," Erica confirms, rubbing her thumb over my cheek. I lean into it and she pulls back. "Which is more than I can say for you."
"Hey, you know my number, too, Yellow."
Without asking, she takes the gin and tonic and the remaining shot from my table and returns it to the bar, saying something to Joe, who nods at her. It annoys and touches me in equal measures. She *cares* about me drinking myself into a stupor whether she’s pissed at me or not. When she comes back, she sets the three empty glasses aside and picks up the paperwork, carefully stacking it. She doesn’t ask me what it is, but I see her eyes move over the patient name. Holding out her hand, she motions for the files that I’m still working on. I want to protest, I want to say that I’ve got it, but I don’t. I simply hold it out and she puts those in her purse. She returns the sorted files to the envelope and stows that under her arm. "Come on."
"Where are we -"
"Are you going to sleep in your car? You’re damn sure not driving."
"I was going to go back to the hospital and sleep in the on call room."
"You’re off tomorrow."
"And if Richard smells this shit on your breath again ... you’re going to have hell to pay."
"I’m off tomorrow."
She leans down, her face just a few inches from mine. "You can either come the easy way or I can drag you. What’s it gonna be?"
"Dragging me could be kinda hot."
"Not the way I’d do it."
"Damn." I get to my feet and stagger a little. Alcohol on an empty stomach may not have been the brightest idea I’ve had. I start toward the bar to pay my tab, but she takes my hand and pulls me along behind her. "But -"
"We’ll pay it next time."
"What’s the rush?"
"I’m tired. I’m not very happy right now and I’ve got surgery at nine thirty. Get in the car." She opens the passenger door and points inside. Something in her face stops me from uttering the slightest sound of protest. She slams the door and opens the back one, throwing her purse inside. When she gets in, she glances my way and says, "Put your seatbelt on."
"Yes, Mom." I comply, but she doesn’t start the engine. I glance at her. She’s got both hands on the wheel, but she’s glaring straight at me. It’s the kind of look that makes you want to spill your guts over every past mistake you’ve ever made. I should have called her ‘dad’. He has that look in spades. "Sorry."
"I watched my parents turn up a bottle every single time something went wrong," she tells me. "Please don’t make me watch that with you. You’re better than this."
I nod at her. She looks at me a little longer before she turns the key and drives onto the main road. This isn’t really what I expected when I finally saw her again. I was prepared for yelling, crying, possibly throwing things ... but not this. It’s disconcerting and makes me feel like the rug is about to be yanked from under me. I don’t say anything for ten minutes. I know it’s ten minutes because I watch the time tick past on the radio and every one of those minutes mark sixty seconds that I waste by not saying what I should be saying. I finally take the plunge. "Why are you being so nice to me?"
She stops at a red light, staring up at it. "When I tell you that I love you ... I mean it. I don’t say it to hear myself talk."
"You think I do?!"
"Do not say another word." She waits a beat to see if I will comply. I surprise myself by zipping my lips. "You have every right to be guarded with me, Callie. I can’t hold it against you that you want to take the long way home to me because the fact that you won’t rush means that you care. It means that you’ve learned a few lessons and you’re taking them seriously."
The light turns and she eases through it. I can tell that her hands are gripping the wheel like a vise. "What I can hold against you is that you won’t commit to me better than this. Even when you’re mad at me, even when I’m mad at you ... we cannot leave each other hanging for *two* days without a word. That’s not healthy and that’s not commitment."
"You didn’t call me either."
"I shouldn’t have to. You’re the one who needs to apologize."
"I should apologize for you not trusting me?"
Another five minutes and two red lights go by before we turn onto the tree lined street that she lives on. We ease down the winding driveway and she opens the garage. When she parks and turns off the engine ... we both sit there in silence. I see her turn her head toward me out of the corner of my eye and look at her. Her eyes are bright and clear in the overhead lights in the garage, but there’s also a spark of anger there. "You should apologize for not trusting *me*," she says. "because I’ve never given you a reason not to. I supported your decision to date Mark even though it killed me. After your surgery, even though I knew what it felt like to touch you, I supported you when you wanted to live with Mark. It cut me a little inside every time I would come and visit you and see how domesticated and perfect your little apartment was and I wanted to be him, but I still came so you would know that I wasn’t going anywhere. If I could only be your friend, then I was going to be the best god damn friend you’d ever had. So why in the hell couldn’t you tell me that you were living with Addison? After everything else you’ve put me through ... hearing that ... would have been a piece of cake.
"But you didn’t tell me because you don’t trust me. And it’s apparently very easy for you to accuse me of not trusting you even though I trusted you enough to get through your straight girl freak out in Miami and believe in what you felt for me enough to start this thing with you." She opens the car door and snatches the keys from the ignition. She’s not looking at me now. She’s staring down at her hands. "Maybe I should give up. Maybe I should let you go your way and I can go mine. Then -"
"Don’t say that." My heart wedges into my throat and I choke on it. "I’m sorry. I know that you keep -"
"You know what ... I’m not doing this right now."
"If you’re going to break up with me then do it! Right now!"
"I HAVE SURGERY IN A FEW HOURS AND I AM TIRED!"
She gets out of the car without another word.
When you get everything in the world that you ever wanted ... when you find the person that you can picture getting old with ... when you fall so far into love that you don’t want to climb back out even when it’s hard ... the prospect of losing that can hit you like a sledgehammer.
It does hit you like a sledgehammer. You know, if Thor was wielding it like an angry fist and kept pummeling you with it.
It hits me so hard that I can’t move at all. I don’t even try.
I sit in the car and cry until I can’t cry anymore and then I go into the house and sit on the sofa.
I fall asleep sitting upright with my head down and wake up with her easing me onto my back. I’m so exhausted that I’m only vaguely aware of her taking off my shoes and covering me with a blanket, but I know that she kisses me on the forehead. I know that her hand smoothes over my hair when she does it and she kisses longer than a friend would. I can’t fight off the chains of sleep, though, and they pull back into a dreamless slumber that makes me not hear the garage door open again or realize that she has left for work. When I finally do wake up, it’s because of my cell phone and I’m shocked to see that I’ve missed several calls and texts. They’re all from Addison. In varying degrees of hysteria, she has left me numerous apologies that range from truly emotional begging to angry finger pointing ... to pleas to ignore the last message because she wasn’t thinking and she didn’t mean it. In every voice mail, she’s crying and I can barely understand her. I still listen to all ten of them and try to decipher what she’s saying. Most of the texts are so long that they were chopped into two or three separate ones.
The gist of it ... is that I’m her only real friend in Seattle and she loves me.
I went through most of my life not being anyone’s friend and now I’m the only one that *two* women have. I feel that this could explain why I’m not very good at it.
I’m shocked to see that it’s approaching noon. As I shake off the last shackles of semi-consciousness, I debate what I should do. I’m one of those anal people who will make a Pro and Con list in my head and keep a running tally of it to help me with big decisions. On the one hand, I could wait at Erica’s place for her to come home. I could cook dinner and we could eat it on the deck where there’s enough open space for our problems to fly free. On the other hand, I could wait at Erica’s place for her to come home, cook dinner, and then have her tell me it’s over which would obliterate me. I can just imagine what it would feel like to stand on the front porch and wait for a cab knowing that she’s inside.
So, my options are to leave in a cab with my dignity intact or ... leave with none. I go into the kitchen to get a bottle of water and draw up short. There’s a note on the island and a box of ... Pop Tarts sitting next to it. Erica takes food very seriously. She looks at labels, counts up sodium and carbs and preservatives with the same kind of passion that I don’t ... so for her to even *buy* a box of jumbo sized Pop Tarts in assorted flavors confirms in my head that she is not only dumping me ... she’s hoping I kill myself with food while she does it. I pick up the note anyway.
I should be home at 5:00.
Please hang around. We need to talk .
That is not happening.
If she’s got something to say to me she can damn well say it now as opposed to later.
Her phone goes straight to voice mail when I try to call, but I don’t leave a message. I call a cab, grab my purse, and lock up her house while I wait on the porch. The sun is shining, which feels like God thumbing his nose at me. If any day should be hazy and overcast, it’s today. If any day should be rainy, this is a good one because if it ends the way I imagine, I need to sit in the rain and pray that it washes me away, too. My cab eventually arrives and I climb in the backseat, asking the driver to take me to Seattle Grace. On the drive, that damn Leona Lewis song comes on the radio and I ask for it to be turned off. I see the driver glance back at me, but I don’t comment beyond that and he complies with my request.
I’m not having a straight girl freak out now.
I’m also not having a gay girl freak out.
I’m having a very real human freak out that ... complete with rib thumping heart beats, paranoia, and the urge to open my purse and breathe into it because breathing sunshine is breaking me.
My nerves are definitely on edge when I get to the hospital. My first stop is the attending’s lounge on a whim, to see if she’s there. Naturally, she’s not, so I go to the most obvious place and check the surgical board. She’s been in the OR for two hours and it’s booked for four. I head into the gallery to watch and I’m shocked to see that Cristina is sitting on the front row instead of working on the case. Webber said that Hahn *had* to teach her, but the look on Cristina’s face when she glances at me tells me that Erica isn’t making many, if any, concessions. Cardio usually draws in a standing room only crowd, but there’s only two other people watching. One is Lexie Gray and the other is George. He gives me a small grin and moves his feet so that I can walk past him. I sit down next to Cristina, who is at the far end, and say, "Why aren’t you helping out?"
"Apparently," Cristina says, "My Beverly Hills blood prevents me from being a good heart surgeon. I need to move into a trailer and let it traumatize me and bring it up all the time so that I can a little respect."
"What do you mean?"
"*I* was on the board to help Hahn. Me. And then Stevens appears and starts babbling about how she has nothing to do and asks if she can help us out." Cristina narrows her eyes as she looks down into the OR. "Cardio is *mine*, but Stevens started talking to the patient and sympathizing with her because it was so hard to get her out of her trailer and she *understands* because she grew up in one. Then your *girlfriend* started rhapsodizing about *hers* so hilarity ensued while they all swapped horror stories and I just stood there. Stevens scrubbed in and Hahn told me that I could *observe* from the floor or the gallery and she’d happily answer any questions that I have."
I keep my eye on the OR. Izzie is standing shoulder to shoulder with Erica and whatever they’re talking about has them both laughing as they work together.
The most disturbing aspect is that Erica’s polka dotted scrub cap is back. She’s not using the one I gave her.
That’s a sign.
That has to be a sign.
Cristina nudges me on the leg and points toward the other end of the room. I glance that way and see that George and Lexie have their heads together and are talking and giggling like school kids. "Meredith told me that Izzie is taking their new ... thing ... really hard."
There’s a *thing* between George and Lexie? I’d pretty much call that karma for Stevens.
I reach past Cristina and turn on the speaker so we can hear the exchange in the OR.
Erica is laughing just as hard as she does with me. "You have got to be kidding me," she says.
"Nope," Izzie replies. "It taught me everything I needed to know about cooking."
"You like to cook, too?"
I see Izzie’s head bob up and down. "Oh my god, I love to cook! Bake, specifically. You know, before I donated money for the Denny Duquette Memorial Clinic, I thought about opening up a bed and breakfast somewhere and just cooking for people. It makes me happy. It’s healthier than takeout."
I see Erica turn to look at her and I can tell that she’s smiling under her mask because her eyes crinkle at the edges. "That would be amazing."
My ears eventually clog with rage and I stop listening to the incessant chatter of recipes and the merits of sage. Erica hands the reins to Izzie and leans over her shoulder to watch her work. It shouldn’t affect me in the least, but so help me ... it does. I have no idea what they’re doing to the heart, but I know exactly what they’re doing to mine. There are scenarios in life where you can’t stop yourself from acting on impulse and this ... this is one of those for me. I get to my feet and press the microphone, "Erica?"
She turns and looks up at me and waves. "Hey! What are you -"
"I was just wondering if the patient was hooked up to an LVAD at the moment."
Erica nods up at me. "Yes, she is, but it’s only a temporary -"
"You deserve a big gold star for bravery. Or possibly the gold in stupid."
"Excuse me!?" she snaps and I see her back straighten the same way mine did when Addison slapped me.
"You operated on Denny Duquette, remember? He threw a clot and died after his heart transplant."
"This isn’t a transplant. Do you have something to say about my technique?" she asks, her voice tight.
"No," I reply. "I have something to say about the people you let operate with you. Denny Duquette wasn’t sick enough to move up the transplant list so the person currently holding the sharp things down there ... she cut his LVAD wire and-"
"CALLIE!" George gets to his feet, but I ignore him.
"Stevens cut his LVAD wire," I repeat. "to make him sicker. The Hippocratic oath means nothing to her and it’s either very brave or very stupid for you to give her a chance ... I just haven’t decided which yet."
I turn the speaker off so that I can’t hear her reply.
George rushes out of the room, followed by Lexie.
"You can move back in with me. Anytime."
When I was twelve, Jasper broke my Walkman. He was only two and he shadowed me so much that he would run into my back if I stopped walking without warning. That was the first time that I learned how much better it is to control your temper. He stood there in his shorts with his bare toes curled up because pieces of my Walkman were all over the place in the floor ... and I pushed him down. I think it hurt his feelings more than it hurt his diaper clad butt because I was yelling when I pushed and still yelling when he fell, but I didn’t help him up. I called him a ‘brat’ and grabbed up the pieces to go and show my Dad. Jazz didn’t tell that I pushed him down. He was crying so hard that he couldn’t say anything except ‘I sorry’. It wasn’t enough for me. I called him a ‘fucking brat’ and my mother spanked my fucking ass until I was crying, too. Jazz came and hugged me when it was over and I saw the bruise on the back of his thigh where he had fallen on part of the Walkman. I let him sleep with me that night because I felt so bad and he snuggled against me and told me it was ‘kay now’.
The second time I learned about controlling my temper was when I was seventeen. Joel had just turned twenty one and my parents, because they were idiots I think, decided to leave him in charge of the house while they took a couple’s cruise to the Bahamas. My brother may be a preacher now, but he was definitely NOT then. He had the party to end all parties and didn’t say a single thing when his college buddies started asking me all sorts of perverted questions. I took Jazz upstairs and we played Nintendo until the racket died down and then we snuck out for pizza and ice cream. I drove my Dad’s car and put a nice long scratch down the side because I wasn’t used to driving it. When my parents got home ... there was no sign of a party, but my Dad saw the damage to his car and demanded answers. Naturally, Joel blamed me which wasn’t incorrect, but I fired back about the party and how I had to drive Daddy’s car because mine was blocked. Joel opened his mouth and called me a ‘lying bitch’ and I went across the dining room table at him so fast that I scattered food, shattered plates, and knocked him backward in his chair. I think I ripped out a majority of his hair and I know that the reason my hand was sore for two weeks was because I broke his nose, but that didn’t matter.
It took the crack of my father’s belt on Joel’s backside to make him stop choking me (a very low point) and after Joel stormed out in humiliation because he was, after all, twenty one ... my Dad told me to go wait for him in his study. I was convinced that I was going to be humiliated as well, but he didn’t hit me. He told me that he was disappointed, which sucked, and that my temper needed a new outlet. He gave me a shovel and told me to go dig a hole in the sand that was big enough for my anger. I told him I’d still be digging when I was thirty and he told me to get started. I dug for two days and when my hands were split open from the blisters and I my shoulders had matching ones from the sun ... I stopped digging. I wasn’t very mad anymore. He had watched me off and on for those two days and when I drove the shovel into the sand and left it there ... he walked onto the beach and looked inside the hole.
"Is that how much anger you have?" he had asked.
"You want to tell me why?"
"Are you sure?"
"Then fill it back up."
Let me just tell you that if I had known I’d be filling it back up ... I would have stopped after two shovel fulls instead of digging a freaking mote across the backyard. It only took me a day to get it covered back in and that was because Jasper came out and helped me. He kneeled down in the sand on his bony knees and pushed and pushed as much as he could with his bare hands. "Callie, why did you dig up the yard? Did you lose something?"
I said, "I guess I lost my head."
Jasper stopped pushing. "Heads don’t come off."
"They do when you’re mad."
"Don’t get mad. I like your head." He went back to helping me and I went back to shoveling.
From that day on ... I would dig something, literally or figuratively, before I’d truly let myself go. I fell a few times. Shoving Meredith Grey into the lockers because I wanted to kick her ass and trying to beat up a man who had belittled his fiancé into killing herself with diet and exercise were definite low points, but I usually filter myself pretty well. My mouth will still write checks that my ass has a hard time cashing, but I usually think before I do something ... so dumb ... as to announce to Erica Hahn in front of everyone in the OR ... that Izzie Stevens basically killed Denny Duquette.
George finally told me the truth about that fateful LVAD cutting day on our honeymoon in Vegas. He tried to make up for everything he had shut me out of by singing like a bird after we had sex as husband and wife. I finally had to tell him to be quiet because I was exhausted and freaked out by what my parents would do to me when they found out I had eloped, but he kept right on singing. I think I know more about the intern family now than he does because Cristina is a drunk talker.
If I had good sense ... I would have told Erica about Stevens early on ... or not at all.
I walk out of the gallery before Stevens or Erica finish up the patient and I meet Webber on the steps coming up. "You," he snaps. "wait right here. Do not MOVE."
At least I know where George was going when he flew out of the room. He is, after all, the Chief’s intern. I broke a major trust by blabbing about Stevens. After he told me ... he pleaded with me never to tell anyone at the hospital what really transpired, but we all had our theories. We pretty much knew, but his confession could go a long way if it was ever revisited.
Like it now has been.
I can’t hear what the Chief is saying, but I can hear his voice rumbling in the galley and echoing in the OR through the stairwell.
When the door opens again, he crosses his arms over his chest and says, "My office. Now."
If he has a belt ... I’d prefer him to use that on me than say whatever he is inevitably going to say.
"Sit!" he growls when we’re inside. I comply so fast that I hit my tail bone on the arm of the chair and have to grit my teeth against the pain. "Talk."
"I’m just trying to judge for myself if you’re sane before I yell at you."
"No, sir. I’m not."
"What exactly is the problem?"
When I was standing on the beach with my father and he asked me what I was angry at ... I should have told him that I was angry at me. I should have told him that I wasn’t happy with who I was or how people perceived me, or with anything in my life. Over the years ... I’ve wished a thousand times to relive that moment and say everything that I was feeling at the time. Richard Webber reminds me so much of my Dad sometimes that it’s scary. "I’m involved with Erica."
"I gathered as much from watching her act like a crazed lunatic while you were stuck in the elevator and if that wasn’t enough to make me suspect it then the fact that she kissed you certainly was. Correct me if I’m wrong, but have you not also been kissing her?"
"Yes, I have."
"Then how is the fact that you’re involved with Erica a problem?"
He’s giving me the same look that my Dad can give me to make me *invent* answers. I don’t have to here, though. "I’m scared of her. I’m scared of what I feel for her. In case you haven’t noticed ... in the past year I got a divorce, moved in with Mark, fooled around with Erica, moved out of Mark’s place and ... well, now she wants a commitment. She wants me to move in with her."
"And you don’t want that?"
"No, I do."
He puts his head in his hands. "At the risk of sounding redundant ... what exactly is the problem?"
"How, pray tell, did all of this motivate you to announce that Dr. Stevens cut Denny Duquette’s LVAD wire?"
"We already established that I’m not quite sane."
"I’m not amused."
"You have quite a few issues."
"No, sir. I have subscriptions."
He actually smiles a little. "To what, exactly?"
He laughs now and shakes his head. Before he can speak, his door is shoved open and there’s only one person I know who would be brave enough to just barge in without knocking. I know it’s her. I can sense Erica Hahn from all the way across the country, okay? I felt her the entire time I was in Miami for Jasper’s birthday. I stiffen and close my eyes when she slams the door. "Was that true?" she demands. "Callie?"
Richard clears his throat. "I dealt with Dr. Stevens accordingly, Erica."
"No, I don’t think you did. If she cut a patient’s LVAD wire, which by the way caused *my* patient to die two days later because he actually *was* in desperate need, then she should not be practicing medicine." She flops down in the chair beside mine and I glance at her out of the corner of my eye. Yanking her scrub cap off, she leans forward and glares at Richard. "Is it true?"
"I don’t make it a habit of discussing my personnel with anyone other than the Board of Directors."
"If Jameson McCormick on the Board knew about this he would have the teaching accreditation yanked from this hospital so fast that we’d all be out of job."
"Which is why we won’t be mentioning it."
"Richard, she falsified medical records and -"
"Stop." He gets to his feet and opens the filing cabinet next to me. He rifles through it and pulls out a file, which he takes back to his seat and flips through when his glasses are in place. "Calliope Torres, MD. As I look through this paperwork I see plenty of glowing letters of recommendation and several comment sheets that are excessively generous from patients. What I do not see, however, is anything about Ambien or alcohol while on the job." He takes his glasses off and looks at Erica. "Assuming that you are Chief one day, Dr. Hahn, you can run your ship any way you see fit. As for me, I have no problem giving my staff the benefit of the doubt. Stevens was punished, the hospital was investigated, and I was never able to get a real confession of any wrongdoing nor was I able to locate a severed LVAD wire. Dr. Torres was just telling me that she assumed that the gossip surrounding the incident was true, but she did not hear or see anything firsthand. Is that correct, Dr. Torres?"
He moves his thumb over my file. Cristina can’t blackmail worth a damn compared to this master. "Yes, sir."
"Now then," he says, getting to his feet. I watch him put my file away and close the cabinet, locking it. "You two are not to come out of here until whatever issues, or *subscriptions* you have, have been cancelled. Got it?"
Erica watches him leave. "Subscriptions?"
"Don’t ask." I lean back in my chair, stretching my legs out in front of me to get comfortable for the long haul. "Just say it."
"I’m not waiting until five o’clock for you to break up with me. I’m just ... not. Say it’s over so I can go."
She gets to her feet and walks to the window, looking outside. The sun is still shining to spite me. "Is that what you want, Cal?"
"Does it matter?"
"Do you know? What you want?"
"I want you. I always have."
She adjusts the blinds, letting the light bathe her. I wonder if it’s because she’s as cold inside as I am. "What you said about Stevens is true, isn’t it?"
She nods. "Why didn’t you tell me before now?"
"Because you weren’t flirting with her until now. And why aren't you wearing the cap I gave you?"
She smiles out the window, but I see it. I absolutely see it and it makes me so mad that I can’t stand it. I look away, concentrating on the artwork over the Chief’s desk. Erica returns to her seat and says, "I saw you when you came into the gallery."
"I was trying to get under your skin."
"What were you doing when you were bonding with her over trailer park love?"
"I was getting under Cristina’s skin. Look at me." She waits for me to make eye contact before she adds, "I should break up with you. Trying my patience seems to be your favorite pastime and you don’t know what you want. You make me feel like crap when you come and go from my life and you take me for granted and you don’t listen to me about your health ... but I wouldn’t change you. And that’s what I’ve been trying to do. I’ve been trying to make you change your living arrangements, the way you eat ... everything. I’ve been acting like your mother ... you were right last night."
She never ever does the things that I expect. Never. She always surprises me. I don't know if this is how real love is supposed to be. All I know is that she stops herself, when she *is* pissed, from latching onto my jugular with her words. My father used to say that love was patient and kind when my mother would piss him off. He told me once that he needed to get those words tattooed to his chest to remind him to be careful with her. She could test the patience of a saint. I could too ... and yet ... Erica Hahn doesn't let me walk over her, but she doesn't expect to walk over me either. There's a level of respect her that is humbling. Our worst fights ... she can turn on a dime and not be Hurricane Hahn or Attila the Hahn. She's nothing like she is professionally. This is really her. This is the person that I brought out with my heart ... and I don't value her enough.
"I’ve been acting like a child. You were right about that, too." I reach over and take her hand. She doesn’t pull away , but I still hang on tight. "Before you came in here ... I told Richard that you scare me. I thought that I was in love with George, I really did, but I wasn’t. He never made me feel the way you do and it’s terrifying because if I didn’t love him ... then how could he hurt me so much ... and what will you do to me?"
"I won’t do anything to you." She covers my hand with both of hers. "Callie, it’s not fair to me to let anyone in your past affect us. I’m not George. I’m not Mark ... thank God. Don’t use them as any kind of standard to judge us by ... because you can’t. And you can’t spend your life worrying ‘what if’ because ‘what can’ will be gone before you know it. Don’t be scared of me, baby. Be scared of everything but me."
"Why aren't you wearing your beach cap?"
"Because I left at home. I don't leave it in my locker because it means too much to me."
I give her a smile and she returns it. "Erica, if I tell you that I’m ready to move in with you ... are you going to think it’s because I’m homeless or are you going to think I really want to?"
"You’re not homeless."
"Well, no. Cristina pretty much idolizes me after my big announcement in the gallery so I could go back there, but ... I don’t want to."
Her eyes move over my face. "Do you want to stay in my guestroom ... or do you want to live in my bedroom?"
"I want to live. I only do that with you."
I watch her eyes fill with tears and lean toward her. She happily meets me halfway. As far as kisses go ... I’d rank it a ten.
As far as interruptions go ... I’d rank Webber’s a four.
He come in, grabs his glasses, and rushes back out without looking at us.
We laugh the way we always do. Our eyes on each other like no one else in the world could possibly get the joke ... or the joy we bring to one another. I think maybe the rest of the world can't get it. I still don't get it. I wasn't even looking for love when she came into my life. I didn't expect it or think I needed it. I was jaded, cynical, and biased about anything that involved the heart, but she opened my eyes. This is what people are supposed to have with one another. Whether it's a boyfriend, girlfriend, a husband, wife, or ... partner. Everyone is supposed to feel the way that I do with her. I mean, shit ... every fucking song on the radio is suddenly about me in some way and the stupid chick flicks that she loves mean a hell of a lot more to me than they ever did before.
I'm understanding love.
I'm bleeding love.
Fucking Leona Lewis!
I wonder if her whole CD is on iTunes.
Erica gets off work early and drives me to the Archfield to get my things. I make her promise that she won’t hit Addison, pull her hair, kick, bite or scratch. In short, I tell her to keep her hands to herself because if anyone deserved to be slapped ... it was me. What I said to Addison about the baby she aborted was low. It was lower than low and it crossed a line, yet *she* apologized to *me*. I don’t tell Erica about the baby, but the conviction in my voice when I tell her that I would have hit someone who said it to me seems to make her stop channeling Rocky and the image of her pounding frozen slabs of beef in a meat locker finally flits out of my mind. I kiss her in the elevator the way I did the night before, but we stop when the door opens and an elderly woman looks scandalized enough to pee in her pants. She sniffs like she smells something dirty and I’m tempted to ask her if she still gets laid, but I refrain.
My mood has done a complete about face. If I’m being honest I will have to admit that it’s not just Erica ... I also have a small granule of satisfaction due to the fact that Izzie Stevens left work in tears the same way I did many, many times because of her. I tried to look like I felt really guilty for it because George was glaring at me, but I’m not that great of an actress. Really, I’m not. Freakin’ Meryl Streep, who I really like ... she could play me in a movie and still not erase the little bit of smug I have on my face after something so gratifying as that. It’s nice.
In the hallway outside the room I was sharing with Addison, I look at Erica and say, "Do not hurt her feelings. I did that already and she has been apologetic as hell."
"Can I just threaten her once?"
"Fiiiiine, but if she hits you again ... ever ... the gloves are off."
I unlock the door and step inside.
I notice two things at once.
All the clothing that I had flung left and right in an attempt to find something decent to wear to dinner has been folded neatly and stacked on my bed.
Her side of the room has been stripped bare. All the shoes, purses, and Coach luggage ... it’s gone.
"Addy!" I head across the room and check the bathroom. Never has one person used as much counter space as Addison Forbes Montgomery ... and the only thing there now is my hairspray, toothbrush, and deodorant. "Fuck!"
I pull my phone from the bottom of my purse and realize that I silenced it earlier in the day.
There are two texts.
One is another heartfelt apology.
The second is one line. "Going to California."
I press her speed dial number and it goes straight to voice mail. "Addison, don’t leave," I say. "Please don’t leave. I’m sorry about everything, too, and I - I need you here. Call me back."
I sit on the bed and wait for fifteen minutes. I also send about a text a minute to her.
No reply comes.
Erica sits down next to me when I start to cry, but it doesn’t help.
When your best friend becomes your lover it's a blessing and a curse. You can't really go to your best friend anymore to complain that your girlfriend is making you crazy. An invisible line goes up and while you don't acknowledge it and you pretend that everything is exactly the same ... it's really not. You still need someone who can listen to you rant about love, sex, and mind numbing shit that only matters to a platonic friend. There are levels of friendship between women that men can't infiltrate and lovers can't touch. Addison may not be my best friend and Naomi is hers, but we have something. We have a bond that started when a pregnant woman broke her arm in the shower and lost her baby after that. We cried together that day, we laughed together after that, I gave her advice, she gave me advice ... and in the friendship tier ... she's not the 'best' ... she's the greatest.
There are four people in my small circle of friends who I would lay my life down for tomorrow.
Erica is the most remarkable woman I've ever know and if there is a God ... I hope he lets me go before her because I can't imagine a life without her for a second. I love her more than I ever dreamed I could love anyone. I'm in love with her.
Cristina has truly been good to me. Snappy, but good. I understand her quirks and she deals with my qualms. I love her and I think in her own little Yang way ... she loves me, too. We get it. We know what it is to be a cynic trapped in a world of hope where we believe that we can save lives.
Mark has picked me up and taught me how to walk again when I was crawling through despair. He made me remember that I was beautiful after George took that from me. I love him as a person, as a man, as a friend that I want back in my life so much I can't stand it.
And Addison Montgomery is the first female friend I have ever had. The very first. She's the only woman I know who understands 'lines of deliciousness' and thinks that bathroom humor may be the funniest component of any movie. She's kind and generous and flawed and she's like me in a lot of ways, but as different as she can be. And I would happily go to jail for her again with absolutely no complaints if I could make her understand what she means to me.
We all come into the world alone.
If we're lucky ... when we go out ... we have a circle of people who will mourn, reminisce, and keep our memory alive. They'll remember the times we touched their lives instead of the times we hurt them.
I'm beginning to wonder if I can touch anyone.
Or if I'm destined to hurt so hard that I'll carry the pain of it for the rest of my life ... whether they forgive me for it or not.
Dude, that's the last heavy chapter! The next one is GOING TO BE FUN IF IT KILLS ME!
Be gentle, but please comment. I love it. :)