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.
Disclaimer: I do not own Grey's or the characters. This is all for fun and not for profit.
Dedicated: To the readers. Thank you! Your support and comments are invaluable to me.
Life is better because of you, Ange. :)
My parents are due to arrive in fifteen minutes and Erica is outside hosing the garage door like water is suddenly the magic ju ju to take spray paint off vinyl. Ronnie and Jerry brought over a pressure washer and attacked the blood on the porch, but I swear I can still see the crimson/brown stains no matter how much bleach I can smell. We’ll need to repaint the porch, I think. And the garage doors. Although doing so will just give whoever is trying to torment us a nice fresh canvas. I’ve stopped thinking that it’s Stevens. A woman her size, even a woman who is fucking demented and slightly off kilter, couldn’t have lifted that deer. It took Ronnie and Jerry *both* to remove it and they went on and on about how heavy it was. Whoever did it also had the time and the strength to screw a large hook into the front of the porch. I tell Erica to leave the hook so we can hang a fern or something because if the asshole comes back ... I want them to see that we appreciate their endeavors.
Erica’s been busy in the kitchen all morning preparing lunch. I think she cooked a feast because she’s upset. Anyone who makes lemonade from scratch, meticulously squeezing lemon after lemon, has a whole list of things to work through. My heart is breaking for her. When Red Rover was trashed ... I felt like I had lost an old reliable buddy who loved me even on my worst days ... even when my lead foot threatened to blow the engine and I hit a few too many curbs. This is our safe haven. And it’s been branded as something ugly and wrong when it’s anything but that. It’s a beautiful *house* on the outside, with its sprawling wraparound porch and lazy swing that creaks in the corner, but inside ... it’s a home. It’s OUR home. If someone wants to call me a ‘dyke’ to my face that’s one thing ... that’s a punch in the throat waiting to happen and I punch pretty hard ... but this is just the work of a coward and I hate that a coward has wormed under her skin this way. And under mine.
I shut off the spigot and walk toward her. She finally realizes that the water is no longer spraying out when I tap her on the shoulder. She’s staring at the damage like it will suddenly reveal the culprit. I hold up a glass of lemonade and say, "My parents will be here any minute."
"I should raise the doors so they won’t have to see it." She takes a sip of the drink and holds it back out to me. Her face falls when she looks over my shoulder, though. "Shit. Too late."
I turn around and cringe. My parents have arrived in their standard issue sedan from the rental place and behind them is a flat bed truck with an Infiniti FX strapped to its back. It’s the one I said I wanted. The orange color is officially called Autumn Copper and I can tell just by looking at it that it will be loaded to the max with every feature that was available. The garish red ribbon around it clashes with the color and it’s more than slightly embarrassing that the two delivery men are gazing at the garage doors with speculative interest. I can feel their gazes move from the words to me and then to Erica and sigh. Word association isn’t fun when they’re associating you with something dirty. Who I am is not dirty in the least, but what the crude painting on the garage reduces me to is filthy. I hate it. I hear Erica swear under her breath and watch her put the water hose down. She doesn’t bother with winding it up. Instead, she goes through the house and opens the garage doors like she originally planned. The disappearance of the vandalism seems to shatter the tense moment because the workmen are out of the truck and are unfastening the chains that hold the Infiniti in place.
My parents are still in the car speaking to one another, but Jasper has gotten out and is trying in his own way to tell me that the new car is mine. This consists of pointing at the shiny vehicle and saying, "You! Lee! You! Like it?" He’s holding Buddha in his arms and the red Pomeranian is yipping with contentment, but the dog isn’t interested in trying to get to me. The furry bastard summarily ignores me in favor of looking up at Jasper with adoration.
"I like it," I tell my brother, giving him a smile that he buys at face value. He doesn’t mention the word that everyone else has seen because he doesn’t know that it’s wrong. As I watch him bend down to smell some freesias that we planted a few days ago, I wonder if stealing his ignorance to such things would be a worse punishment than leaving him be. He doesn’t grasp hate. He doesn’t grasp bigotry or narrow mindedness. He sees everyone as his friend and everyone as equal. Jasper Dillon Torres even sees himself as equal. I’m the one who’s viewing him under a microscope and finding him flawed. I don’t want to write something hateful on his house, though ... I want to open his head and *change* him. Am I right to want to do that?
When Erica comes out of the garage, Jasper forgets me entirely in favor of being able to be near her. He wraps her in a hug and pats at her hair. Buddha definitely takes offense to that and the playful yipping is replaced by a menacing growl when he recognizes Erica. I leave Jasper chatting with her and walk toward my parents. They get out of the car as the Infiniti is rolled off the truck and I smile, hoping that they can take it for more than what it is, too. "Thank you. You even got the right color, Daddy."
I call him that because it usually melts him into a million pieces, but it doesn’t work this time. Daddy is glaring at the garage like the doors are still down. "Who did that?"
"We don’t know and we don’t need to discuss that in front of our guests." I shoot a pointed look at the men from the car dealership and my Dad takes out his wallet, pressing a couple of hundreds into the driver’s hand and thanking them for adjusting their schedule. My mother is doing the silent comfort thing where she cradles my arm in hers and rubs my back with her free hand. It’s a move she does at funerals, too, because she doesn’t know quite what to say and she knows that she’ll be guilty of dying one day herself. And you can’t justify or excuse something as rude as the audacity of death. She also knows that I’m hurt and I want nothing more than to put my head in her lap and cry for a while because she’s my mother and she probably gets an umbilical tug every single time my world crashes around me. There are tears in her eyes when my dad rejoins us and holds out a set of keys to me. I wait patiently for the delivery truck to drive away and then give him a hug. "I could have bought this. I just ... I haven’t had time."
"I wanted to have it ready by last night for your party, but they couldn’t install the upgraded stereo until this morning." He kisses the side of my head and says, "Are you okay?"
"Not really." I rub the key fob with my thumb, leaning my head against his shoulder. "We were sleeping when it happened. Something hit the side of the house and we both woke up. They didn’t just write that ... they gutted a deer on the front porch."
My mother hisses beside me and I don’t have to look at her to know that she’s got her hand pressed against her chest in Valdosta, Georgia indignation. If she had a handkerchief, it would be clutched in her hand and she would probably fan herself with it after a second for dramatic effect. She doesn’t mean to dramatize, but she wouldn’t be Lori Ann if she didn’t give her best impression of a wilting damsel waiting for Rhett Butler to sweep her off to the fainting sofa. I’m immune to it. So is my father because he doesn’t even look at her. When it doesn’t get the desired reaction, Mom marches around us and puts her hands on her hips. "This is too secluded out here. Do you have an alarm system on the house? You need security cameras like we have in Miami. You know that any Tom, Dick, or Harry could just pull their boat right up onto our private beach and ransack our house! It’s the same out here in the ... wilderness."
"We’re in a *subdivision*," I point out. "George’s mother is three houses down."
Mom looks all around the wooded front yard, craning her neck in exaggeration. "Well, I don’t see another house and ... check it out," she doesn’t make a sound, "I don’t hear anyone nearby, either! So, you have two women in the woods and someone is trespassing with the intent to damage your property. This is the perfect set up for every ‘Friday the 13th’ movie ever made. What you need is a gun."
"Lori Anne," my father begins.
"A machine gun," Mom makes a hand like a pistol. "Shoot. Shovel. And shut up."
My mother is a staunch Republican and lifetime member of the NRA. She gave me a rifle when I was six. My father hid the bullets and then took the gun out of the top of his closet when it was time to put the one she gave Jasper in its place. I don’t know what he did with my rifle after that, but I never shot it. And when I told my mother that I was registering as a Democrat, she wore black for two weeks and threatened me within an inch of my life if I voted for Clinton. I put a Clinton bumper sticker on my car just to freak her out and she sat behind it with a bucket of soapy water and a razor blade until she peeled it off. It didn’t matter that she took most of the paint with it. I retaliated by enlisting Jasper’s help and we wallpapered her bathroom with Clinton bumper stickers. She contemplated drowning us in the ocean, but she videotaped the carnage and sent it to all of her little Republican friends and I know they laughed about it when they barricaded themselves in the bathroom to peel it all off. It took them two days and the sheetrock had to be replaced. My mother got a nice renovation out of it and a tub big enough to swim in and I got a high five from eight year old Jasper as we folded bumper stickers and put them in all the pockets of the clothing in her closet.
I glance toward my brother and watch him kneel down to run his fingers delicately over several daisies while Erica attempts to salvage her ankles from Buddha. The red demon lunges, feints to the left, then attacks her flip flop, nearly tripping her. Jasper saves her by scooping the mongrel up again and gently stroking his head. Buddha acts like he’s royalty in Jazz’s arms, panting with contentment, his pink tongue exposed. The fucking dog looks like its smiling and I realize after a few seconds that he’s showing his teeth at Erica. Some things never change.
But some things CAN change.
I want the real Jasper back. I want the Jasper who would have seen that word and lost his temper. I want the fighter that he was, the scrappy little boy who beat up a classmate for calling a girl ‘fatty’. This placid, docile shell of a man isn’t him. I want to know how he would vote. Would he follow our mother’s lead or our father’s? Would he register as an independent and buck the system? Hell ... would he want to be a politician himself? Is not seeing all the rancid and dirty laundry of the world better than seeing it and having to fold it again and again?
"The cameras are a good idea," Dad says suddenly. "I’ll make some calls."
When my Dad makes calls ... things happen. Santos Torres is *known*. If he wants cameras installed on Erica’s property, bars on the windows, and an electric fence erected with a barbed wire top ... it will be done before lunch is over. "You can’t do that," I say, "this is Erica’s place and -"
"It’s our place, Callie," Erica says, joining us. She threads her pinky around mine and adds, "What can’t he do?"
Dad doesn’t wait for me to reply. "We were talking about cameras. I really think we should have a few installed and it wouldn’t hurt to put a gate up at the driveway. We could put a tall fence around this front area, through the woods so it wouldn’t be an eyesore and connect it with the privacy fence out back. It could be landscaped in nicely. Do you have a security system?"
"Yes," Erica replies, nodding her head. "And I actually thought about the fence already. We need to do something."
"No, we don’t!" I snap. "If we start rearranging everything then whoever is doing this wins. We’re having to make concessions and change things and that’s what they want. They want to make it hard on us so we change."
"No, we’re making it hard on them," Erica says, taking my hand outright now. "Baby, someone came to our house and stood on our porch to hang that deer. I’m not willing to let them get that close again, okay? I mean ... it terrifies me to think of what could have happened if you had worked late at the hospital and came home while it was happening. Or if you were here alone and opened the door thinking it was me. I’m not willing to risk ... you."
I can see my mother’s expression out of the corner of my eye. She’s regarding Erica like she’s suddenly become the Virgin Mary made flesh again. I see her full lips part in adoration, watch her hand creep toward her throat (because that’s where it goes when she’s verklempt) and I know that Erica just went up about ten points in her book. Possibly more for calling me ‘baby’. For the first time, I think maybe my mother *gets* that we’re just as normal as anyone else. We love the exact same way hetero couples love ... only we get nice graffiti and dead animals for our romantic endeavors ... and straight people get power ballads and romantic comedies. When Erica squeezes my hand, I’m pulled from my thoughts and say, "I just think it’ll give whoever’s doing it some kind of perverse pleasure to know that we had to spend a ton of money to feel safe. That’s what they want."
"I’d go bankrupt to keep you safe. Now, moving along ... I really like your new car. It suits you." Erica points at the Infiniti and I know that the decision has been made. There will be no discussing the security measures or making a Pro/Con list. This is how it will be. Our home will become Fort Knox. No ... Fort Bliss. My father, however, will be the one to pay for it. He’ll put his foot down and hire the best people he can ... if they have experience in the Secret Service, that will be a plus. It will be a waste of time to argue so I unlock my birthday present and pull the ribbon free from its hood.
Being given a brand new car by your parents when you’re well into your thirties is slightly uncomfortable. What can I say? I don’t like big gifts. I like small gestures. If my dad had accompanied me to the car dealership to finagle the price I would have been just as happy. I like one flower on my pillow more than a dozen at work and enjoy a note signed with love more than a song dedicated to me. For my dad’s benefit, I comment about every aspect of the car and even kick Red Rover’s memory by saying that there’s no comparison between the two ... even though the plush leather in the Infiniti is nowhere near as comfortable as the worn leather that my Range Rover had. When I park the car in the garage, Erica leaves the doors open and I know that she does it on purpose. We all know it’s there. You don’t have to see cancer once you’ve been told you have it. The reminder is in everything else around you. It hangs like a black cloud and the chemotherapy for the garage door will be paint ... but whether or not it stays in remission is entirely up to the person doing this to us. We’re at their mercy ... no matter how hard it is for them to get to us. They’re already in our blood.
Erica’s lunch is well received once we convince Jazz to let Buddha go outside in the back yard to play. The food is amazing. I don’t know where Erica found recipes for Cuban food that is so authentic, but she pulls it off flawlessly. By the time we eat bread pudding my father is telling her that she could rival his own mother’s abilities in the kitchen. That’s a huge complement since my grandmother’s cooking is something I remember very fondly. It’s during dessert that I realize I haven’t mentioned Jasper’s surgery. I glance across the table at him, watching him meticulously pull raisins from his pudding and stuff them into his mouth. One of his cheeks has ballooned out and he drools a little, leaving it hanging as he digs for more. My mother follows my line of vision and dabs at his mouth with her napkin, telling him to chew his food. He grins at her and complies and she turns her attention to me. "Calliope?"
Oh Jeez. When my mother says my name that way I’ve either done something or she’s doing her ‘I’m a mother and I have sixth sense’ thing where she accuses me of something before I can do it. And it’s usually something that I’ve been contemplating. "Yeah, Mom?"
"Your father was laboring under the illusion that you wanted to speak to me about the advances that have been made in this Fellman-Caputo technique. Is that true?"
I glance at my dad and see the smile playing at the corner of his lips. So much for him not going there again. "Yeah," I say.
Mom leans forward a little, resting her elbows on the table. It’s a relaxed, comfortable pose for her. It’s the same thing that a crocodile does under water when it’s waiting for a sweet, docile gazelle to put its innocent little lips down to the water. The second I get too close, I’ll lose my head. So, I don’t say anything. I wait. She waits, too, watching me with calm intensity. "And?" she finally prompts.
I’m exhausted. Everything that I’ve researched and read about the Fellman-Caputo has gone straight through a window in my brain and the only thing I can consider at all is that my brother could die. He could become a statistic. My eyes are on him, picturing him in a coffin, when Erica covers my hand with hers and speaks in my place. Her voice is strong when she says, "Callie has spent weeks going over data and information about the surgery and she’s right. They have made amazing advancements. As with any surgery there are risks and complications, but the process itself is not as invasive or as dangerous as it previously was. More often than not the patient sees significant change and in several instances a near perfect recovery has been recorded. Combine that with the fact that Derek Shepherd is possibly the best neurosurgeon on the planet and you’ll see that Jasper would be in good hands and Seattle Grace is an outstanding hospital." Pausing, Erica takes a deep breath. "Callie’s a doctor and because of that she knows that the potential for recovery is there. We’re trained to recover. We’re trained to heal. But she’s also his sister and it’s that love for him that makes the risk worth it. Knowing what she knows, she still thinks that Jasper ... the Jasper she remembers ... would want to be more than what he is now."
When I asked her to support me ... I didn’t know that she would go so above and beyond that request. She has said everything I wanted to say so succinctly and so beautifully that I’m tempted to kiss her, to cry, and to profess how much I love her to everyone present ... like they can’t already see it. I think a blind person would still see it. I can’t help but smile at her, but she doesn’t look at me.
"More," Jasper demands. He holds up his bowl, however. He wants more pudding. Not more out of life ... only ... he would if he could tell us.
My mother gives him another spoonful of dessert and sets it front of him. He roots through it in search of raisins and noisily licks his fingers, smacking his lips in appreciation. I watch my mother dab at his mouth with her napkin again. I choose my words carefully before I speak. "You know what I think of sometimes when I look at him?" I ask no one particular. "I think of innocent people who are sent to prison and twenty years go by and suddenly they’re cleared with new evidence. They’re released and they get out of jail and go home. Jasper’s been in prison for fifteen years and there’s new evidence that could clear him, too." I meet my mother’s eyes. "You won’t live forever, Mom. He’s gonna go and live with Joel when you die and Joel will sign for him to have this surgery. Now, you can let Jazz serve fifteen years and let him out or you can make him wait another twenty. The difference is ... if it works now ... then you get to see him come back. If you make us wait until you’re dead ... you don’t."
"And if he dies?" Mom counters, tilting her head ever so slightly.
"It would destroy me," I confess. "But so does this."
To prove my point, Jasper pulls his pudding into his lap and laughs, slapping the sticky sweetness on his leg and making it splash a little. The bread topping sticks to his hand and he holds it up, licking. Erica takes his hand and wipes it clean with his napkin and he looks sad that the mess is gone. I watch my mother gaze at him as Erica cleans his face and I know that the gears are turning in her head. Because of that, I strike while the iron is hot. "I have a ton of information about it, Mom. And Derek actually has some video of the procedure if you want to see it. And ... well ... Derek needs an answer fast to meet the deadline for the clinical trial."
"How fast?" Dad asks.
"Days," I reply.
He nods at me and looks at Erica. "Would you mind three very tidy houseguests for a few days, Erica? I’m not comfortable with the idea of you two staying alone until we get the area secured a little better and it will give Lori Anne and Callie the opportunity to discuss Jasper’s options."
"You’re always welcome here," Erica tells him. "We’d love to have you stay."
And just like that ... my happy family of two becomes five.
When my parents leave to pick up their luggage from the Archfield and take Jasper to the park, I walk onto the front porch and sit down in the swing. I try to imagine a fence blending in with the sprawling freedom of the front yard. Erica told me a while back that the reason she bought this house was because of the view from the back deck and the serenity of the front yard. Right now, you can stare out at trees and flowers and the unblemished beauty of something natural. Once a metal fence goes into place ... all bets are off. Once security cameras dot the trees and brutalize the peaceful tranquility ... it will change. We’re going to be living in a cage like there’s something wrong with us ... like the fact that we won’t conform to what’s ‘normal’ and dared to be deviate means that we can’t be free at all. We have to suffer. We have to lock ourselves up.
Erica walks onto the porch and I can’t help but notice the way her eyes move over the steps, where the deer bled out. It’s a disgusting reminder of the way we bled for each other when we weren’t together. Every day without her was a fresh wound, another pint of blood lost and I know that it was the same for her. She’s told me how she suffered in the aftermath of Miami and I know that we have matching battle scars. When she joins me on the swing, I lean into her open arms and rest my head against hers. "You know what?" she asks softly. "We probably have an hour, possibly two, before they come back. I can think of about a thousand things we *could* do, but only one thing I’d *like* to do."
I grin and forget about the fact that I haven’t slept since two a.m. or that I still don’t know if Jasper will have the surgery. I let my hand rest on her thigh and turn my head a little, rubbing her neck with the tip of my nose. No matter how often I inhale the sweet, lilac scent of her ... it’s never enough. I never get tired of it. When I’m at my wit’s end all it takes is a look from her to give me perspective. If I’m close to falling apart she can touch me and mend every seam in me to hold me together. No matter how tired I am ... I wouldn’t turn down an opportunity to pleasure her ... or have her pleasure me. I kiss the pulse in her neck and say, "I’m guessing it doesn’t involve clothing."
"Clothing is definitely optional." She pushes herself to her feet and holds out her hand. "Come on."
I happily follow her to our bedroom and then draw up short when I see the bed. There’s a large piece of my birthday cake and two glasses of wine resting on a tray near the foot of it. I hear her shut the door behind me and turn to watch her because she’s always the most interesting thing no matter where we are. She toes her shoes off and walks to the radio in the corner, flipping it on. The shorts she has on are modest in every way imaginable, but the way she wears them makes my mouth dry. I don’t waste a second pulling my shirt over my head and tossing it into the floor and when my pants rapidly follow, she chuckles a little. Her smile fades when my bra skims over my arms and falls into a heap in the floor and I push my burgundy panties over my thighs. Now she’s looking at me hungrily and I enjoy the fact that I have the upper hand for a split second because she’s going to grab it back and I know that.
She seizes the upper hand by turning the volume up slightly. "Didn’t you ask for a lap dance?"
I nod at her and she taps the bench at the foot of the bed with her hand. I sit down, grinning with anticipation and she doesn’t disappoint. Erica Hahn is living proof that when you’re sexy ... you’re sexy. You can wear an outfit made out of garbage bags and if you work that outfit enough ... it will be breathtaking. She starts with her shirt, which is a nondescript looking peach button down with short sleeves. It’s not tight, it’s not sheer, it’s not *anything* but normal. However, her long fingers on the button has me thinking that the color is perfect, that the fabric is glorious, and the cut ... is great for coming off easily. She’s wearing a tight camisole under the shirt. It’s sheer enough that I can see the outline of her nipples and I can see that they’ve hardened. I’m sure mine have as well. I glance a little lower when her fingers move to the button of her shorts and I say a silent prayer that I’ll catch a glimpse of blue as she swings her hips and lowers the zipper.
I. Am. Not. Disappointed.
Blue panties, for the win.
I don’t know what music is playing because the only thing I can hear is the steady rush of blood to my head. And when it pumps away from my head ... it’s going straight to my groin and setting my nerve endings on fire. Everything is throbbing, everything is pulsing, everything is *waiting* to be touched and I have to clutch the edges of the bench to keep from tackling her and throwing her onto the bed. Whatever song is playing stops, but she doesn’t. She reaches up and runs her fingers through her hair. My own hands become fists at my sides as I watch her pale locks cascade down around her shoulders again. I know the texture of her hair and I can’t take it anymore. I start to get to my feet, but she shakes her head and rests her foot on the bench beside me, bending her knee a little. I lean down and kiss it, letting my fingertips skim over her calf. "You’re not allowed to touch during a lap dance, Callie."
"This is an interactive lap dance," I tell her, leaning forward to rub my lips over her turgid nipple. I let my tongue dance against the silk of her camisole and close my eyes when she moans my name. Any time she says it ... it reaches my ears like a melody ... but when she curls the words from her gut in pleasure it’s like a suppliant plea. It’s something I can’t deny. I let my fingertips skim over the lacy top of her blue panties and slide under her camisole, barely whispering against her skin. I lift it high enough to free her breasts completely and trace her areola with my tongue, flicking lightly against her nipple. Her hands tangle in my hair and pull my head back, giving her access to my throat which she takes full advantage of. I’m grateful that the bench is covered with a thick cushion because when she straddles me I pull her roughly against me, grinding upward. She tugs her camisole over her head and tosses it, then attacks my mouth with hers, letting her tongue dance over my lips before I open and swirl mine against hers. It’s my turn to moan. She tastes sweet and enticing. She’s obviously been experimenting with the frosting already.
Breast to breast, I smooth my hands over her back and then down to cup her backside. I squeeze gently and the feel of her flesh under the blue lace is enough to get me off right then and there, but I don’t let it. What I do is trace the hem of her panties at the back of her thigh all the way around to the front, where I gently ease the fabric aside and feel her wetness. She’s obviously enjoying her little dance as much as I am because my fingers easily part her flesh and slip up into her. The grip she has on my shoulders tightens significantly as she pushes herself up a little and then grinds down against my hand. She rolls her hips in a circle and I look down, watching her undulate against me. Her movements are slow and easy and I move my hand in the opposite direction she’s circling, cupping her mons so that her clit can rub against my thumb for friction. She leans down and kisses me again, her tongue mimicking the spiral of her hips.
I can tell by her breathing that she’s close. I love being able to kiss her when she comes. I love being face to face with her so that I can feel the breath of relief when the waves crash and her body lets go. It’s not the same when my face is buried between her legs. I do enjoy the way her legs tighten on my ears and nearly going bald when she grasps at my hair, but nothing compares to my mouth being on hers when she cries out. She does that now and I let her breathe, content to kiss her ear so I can hear her pant against mine. I can feel the spasms between her legs, feel the shaking in her limbs and I don’t have a single doubt in my mind that we’re going to die old and happy together. We’ll have to. Because I can’t live without her.
I protest and try to hang onto her when she gets to her feet. My attempts at holding onto her are futile however and she picks the tray up off the bed, moving it to the end table. I watch her dip her finger into the icing and taste it, then she grins at me and says, "Lie down."
"I was *doing* something."
"I’m *going* to do something, too.
"Me?" I ask, although I know the answer.
She humors me. "Only if you get your ass on this bed right now."
I get to my feet and do a pretty good impression of someone being forced to the guillotine. She chuckles, lets me get two feet from her, and then encourages me to move a little faster by shoving me onto the bed. I’m laughing when she covers my body with hers and smiles down at me, her hand on my cheek. "How did my lap dance become *my* time, Cal?"
I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anyone with bluer eyes. Or prettier skin. And the impish grin she gives me while she waits for me to answer makes me tremble. "You drive me a little bit crazy, Yellow. In case you didn’t notice."
Kissing her is easily my favorite pastime. I love her soft, supple lips and the way she sucks at mine. I love the way hers will puff up and look slightly bruised after a particularly energetic round of making out and the taste of her is always sweet, even after her morning jolt of bitter caffeine. I want to protest when she moves a little lower, concentrating her efforts on my breasts. As much as I love her touching any part of me ... it’s kissing her that makes me happiest. I let her move to my belly, enjoying the slow glide of her hair over my flesh, but stop her before she can move between my legs. "Use your fingers," I tell her, shocking myself when I hear how husky my voice is.
She raises a brow, but complies. The moment her fingers move against me ... nothing in the world matters except the two of us and what we have. I let her kneel between my legs until I can’t stand it and then I tug at her, pulling her down on top of me. I hook one leg behind hers and lift my hips up to meet her hand. She’s kissing me when she pulls my right leg over her shoulder and picks up the pace. It’s hard, a little rough, and exactly what I wanted. I’m close to getting off without any further stimulation, but her thumb finds my clit and bears down, massaging with just the right pressure and I explode. I have gotten off many, many times with her, but this is something different. I can’t put my finger on it, but having her mouth on mine, her chest against mine, and being able to cling to her when I come is a heady combination. I’ll have to make sure she knows that I like this position very, very much. Possibly even more than sixty-nine and that’s saying something.
When my eyelids finally flutter open she’s gazing down at me. "Stop watching my orgasm face, Erica."
"I can’t." She kisses my chin, then my nose. "You liked that."
I see something flash across her face, but she slowly moves her hand from between my legs before I can ask what she’s thinking. And all I can concentrate on is how bereft I feel when gets to her feet. I push myself up on my elbows and watch her pick up a towel, wiping her hand on it. I’m confused when she holds it out to me, but that confusion doesn’t last. She turns her back to me and I see the scratch marks on her pale skin where I drew blood without even realizing it. I leap to my feet and press the towel against her abraded flesh. "Oh my God! I am *so* sorry."
She glances at me over her shoulder, smirking a little. "I can take it."
I gasp. "You liked *that*! Freak!"
"It’s means I’ve still got it."
"There’s no threat of you *losing* it." She still has her panties on and I take a moment to admire her backside before I kiss her neck. "Did you have something specific in mind with the cake?"
"Use your imagination."
And it’s a mad dash to get dressed when we play a little too long and hear Jasper laughing in the front yard. We pull our clothes on over the worst of the icing and I grimace when my shirt sticks to my belly. Erica and I freshen up as best we can in the bathroom, tripping over Ruma and Feo, who dart under our feet into the living room. By the time we get to the door, my mother has a knowing look on her face and my father pretends to believe me when I say we dozed off. We’ve kept our new pets in the master bathroom because my mother has never been fond of cats and when she sees the hairless wonders she looks repulsed. It’s Jasper’s reaction that takes us all off guard, though. He happily darts into the room, showing Erica a Troll doll with green hair.
He draws up short when Feo meows.
I bend down and pick the cat up, scratching him behind the ear. "Look, Jazz. Cat."
My brother’s mouth opens in a perfect circle and he screams. He is absolutely petrified of the black cat I’m holding and when Erica bends down and picks up Ruma, who regards Jasper with his deep blue eyes, my brother loses his mind. He screams again, runs a hand over his own shorn head and points. "Bad! No! BAD! NO CAT!"
"It’s okay, Buddy," I tell him, holding Feo a little closer to me because the noise is agitating him. "He’s nice. Good kitty."
"UGLY!" Jasper bellows. "UGLY UGLY UGLY!"
It’s the first time in fifteen years ... that my brother has ever judged anything as ugly that I can remember.
Feo meows again and his long, sinewy tail swings like a pendulum. Jazz reaches one shaking finger out and touches that soft velvety tail, then screams again and blows out the front door like a madman. I glance at Erica, "He doesn’t like our babies."
"Honey, if those are your babies," my mom says, "get sterilized now."
"They’re cute," I tell her, rubbing Ruma under the chin. He purrs and rubs his head against my palm. "Very cute."
"Eye exams really are thorough nowadays," my dad tells me, regarding the cats with abhorrence. "Did you pay full price for these bald things or did you get a discount?"
"I hope she didn’t pay anything for them at all," Mom says. "They look like Science projects that went back. I’m surprised the entire house isn’t glowing with radiation or something."
"Leave them alone!" I tell my parents. "You’ll give them a complex."
The next few days should be interesting.
The night starts off with a bang when Buddha sees the cats through the sliding glass door and tries to barrel through it until my Dad finally gets him and puts him in the room Jasper will be using.
The dog barks for over an hour.
The cats hiss outside the door until Erica shuts them in our room.
And Jasper flat refuses to come back around the ‘ugly’ until he gets up close and personal with a few mosquitoes. Then and only then does he come inside. His eyes dart left to right, though, as he tells my mother that he wants to sleep now. I help her give him a bath and get him settled into bed with Buddha ever loyal at his side. I can tell that the cats have agitated him and I watch him run the fingers of one hand over the dog and his free hand over his own hair. "Jazz, do you like your hair?"
"No hair!" he snaps, his voice angrier than I can ever remember hearing. "Jazz no hair!"
"You want hair?"
"Want hair!" he cries, tugging at Buddha’s hair gently. "Booty has it."
The dog moves a little closer, snuggling down beside his face. Jasper rests his cheek against the fur ball and I glance at my mother. "I think he wants you to not cut his hair anymore."
"Well, I’ll be." She runs her hand over his buzz cut. "I’ll let it alone and see what happens."
Even small victories are good things.
Addison is so upset about the deer the following morning that her face turns even redder than her hair. I meet her in the cafeteria for coffee and Mark joins us when he sees the state she’s in. I listen to her sputter the tale and try not to cringe until the intense scrutiny he places me under a moment later. "They gutted a deer?" he says, clearly stunned. "At your house?"
I’m a little stunned that he’s choosing to sit near me and actually interact civilly, since I kinda thought the party was a fluke, but I roll with it. "They did. Whoever they may be."
Mark frowns and I squirm a little, uncomfortable with the topic, with talking to him, with *life*. "Jesus Christ, Callie."
"I see your ‘Jesus Christ’ and raise you a ‘Holy Mary Mother of God’." I reply, glancing out at the sea of scrubs around me. Knowing that someone wants to go out of their way to hurt you is more than just a little scary. I’ve caught myself looking twice at anyone I suspect is looking at me. I’ve been doing a mental inventory all morning, trying to add names and faces to my tiny suspect list ... which technically still only has Izzie Stevens on it. As far fetched as it is to suspect her at this point ... I still think it would hurt less to have someone who openly hates me be the culprit instead of thinking that it could be the coffee cart guy who went out of his way to ask about my weekend like he wanted to hear ALL the dirt. "The police are investigating."
Mark shakes his head. "What if the two of you had arrived home while it was happening? I mean, this person obviously had a knife. They could have killed you to keep you quiet and -"
"Oh my GOD!" Addison slaps him on the arm like the mere suggestion that I could have been gutted alongside the deer is a capitol offense. "Don’t say that!"
"It’s the truth!" He tells her. "Anything could’ve happened. Someone who would trespass isn’t someone who cares too much about laws."
"He’s right," I tell her. "My parents are having security enhancements installed as we speak. I was pissed about the cameras and fence at first, but I had a very vivid nightmare last night about the entire thing so the taller the fence ... the better."
"Aww, Callie." Addy puts her hand on mine, patting it reassuringly. "Can I do anything?"
"No and that’s the worst part. Whoever’s doing this has the upper hand." I sip my coffee and sigh. "Obsessing over it is going to kill me so I have to stop."
"Not obsessing enough can get you killed," Mark tells me. "You need to be careful. The car thing ... that could be chalked up to a prank. This thing that happened at your *house* ... that’s something else altogether. That’s your HOUSE. You and Erica ... you just need to be careful, Callie, because people are a little bit crazy. Okay?"
I nod at him, smiling more for myself than him.
He’s accepted it.
In his own Sloan way, he’s come to terms with my decision and can acknowledge that *my* house is Erica’s house. He can be genuinely concerned about me and want the best for me. Having Bambi gutted on the porch is almost worth it for this moment right here. THIS is my friend Mark and it’s nice to see him again. "I really dread being out there alone."
"Talk to Richard," advises Addy. "Tell him what’s going on and make sure you and Erica keep the same schedule for a while."
That’s not a bad idea, I decide. Paranoia is not generally something that I experience ... well, unless you count how paranoid I was that my husband was cheating and look how right that turned out to be. I don’t want to have to make any more concessions or ask for special treatment at work because someone is an asshole, but I don’t see a lot of other options. I take out my Blackberry and send Richard an email, requesting a few minutes later in the day. My pager goes off just as I press send and when I hear the echoes of several others around me I know that there’s a trauma inbound. The adrenalin rush more than makes up for keeping my nose pressed to the books for so long in medical school.
I wind up in a twelve hour surgery that forces me to skip lunch in favor of salvaging what I can of a four car pileup. I flit in and out of operating rooms as I mend bones. I don’t scrub in with Erica, but she winds up working with Mark which tempts me to grill Cristina about how it went, but I don’t go there. If Erica wants to tell me about her surgery with Mark she is more than welcome to bend my ear. I’m searching for her so that we can head home when she texts that she’s in the parking lot. That’s the last place she needs to be alone and I tell her so. We drove my Infiniti because no one recognizes it and parked it on the top level where Webber has a bulls eye view of it (something I touched on in my meeting with him). She’s leaning against the back bumper when I step out of the elevator and I have to grin at her. She’s got my iPod in her ears and she’s trying to make sense of the music there. I take it out of her hand and chuckle when I see that she’s listening to an audio book of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. She’s twenty minutes into it and I shake my head, plucking a bud from her ear. I kiss her cheek and say, "Will you please just read the first book, Yellow?"
"They’re children’s books," she replies, resting her hands on my hips. "You’re the only person I know who would have Showtunes, Gospel, Marilyn Manson, and Harry Potter on their iPod."
"It’s called being eclectic. If you would break out of your adult contemporary shell, you would appreciate that."
"I happen to like being a contemporary adult." She gives me a kiss, then pulls me back for another. "How was your day?"
"I’m *starving*," I reply. "And my mother cooked so prepare to help me degrease the kitchen."
"After the day I’ve had," she tells me, "I’m more than ready to clog my arteries."
"What happened?" I ask. She’s still leaning against the back bumper and it makes her a little shorter than me, which is new. "Spill it."
"Well, I had a really rough surgery that required a lot of movement and I was clawed by a wildcat so operating was a painful exercise of will."
"Ha ha. Very funny."
She grins at me, that crooked one where she doesn’t show her teeth. "Plus, I’m pretty sure we can rule O’Malley out as the father of Steven’s spawn. Lexie decided to announce during surgery that Stevens couldn’t assist Savoy because she had morning sickness and Savoy dropped his scalpel. Then he dropped his second scalpel and had to take a break. Something tells me he’s a little bit worried."
"*Savoy* and Stevens? That’s like ... Beavis and Butthead procreating. Eww." I make a face. "That’s like ... Children of the Corn meets Village of the Damned."
"Stevens dropping trou should make all penises in the vicinity look like a pushed in elevator button."
I shudder, trying to erase the image of the two Blonde barracudas of Seattle Grace going at it. "That truly is making the two backed beast, huh?"
She nods. "Let’s go home."
"And deal with my parents who YOU allowed to move in with us."
I have to admit that driving the new car is not that bad in the least. It turns on a dime and the ride is so much smoother than Red Rover could produce even after a tire rotation and balance. Erica is fascinated with the stereo and navigation systems, which she assures me is much more user friendly than the one in her Lexus. When we went out of town to the spa months ago, her GPS kept us lost and thoroughly entertained for an entire day. She programs our home address into mine now as I head in that direction and what I find waiting for us at the driveway is enough to make me lose my appetite. Several trees have been cut down and a tall, imposing white fence is doing anything but blending in with the landscaping. Black would have blended. Dark green would have blended, too, but white looks like we’re trying and failing to live a white picket fence life and that makes my stomach ache. I pull into the driveway and see that a small unit has been installed with a keypad and camera, but the front gate has not been secured so there’s no need to stop. I hate it. I despise it. I want to scream at the top of my lungs that it’s insanity to live in fear, but I don’t. I head to the garage and realize right away that the doors have not been repainted ... they’ve been *replaced*. The style is different and it’s not ugly by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s new. It’s different. And I don’t appreciate my father changing *anything* that Erica established before me.
The last thing I would ever want is to for my presence to upset her life.
I don’t look at her. I can tell that she’s taking in our new surroundings as well as she can in the waning light of day. I park right in front of the house since I can’t open the garage door and shut the engine off. "I hate this," I finally tell her. "It’s not right and -"
"It’s not going to be that bad. Look on the bright side ... at least we can sit in the house and screen our visitors. It’ll be like having caller ID with pictures." She pushes a strand of hair off my cheek, tucking it behind my ear. "Callie?"
"It could be worse."
"Our cats could actually have mange and not really be hairless. And we could catch it."
"This is why I love you, Erica. You can always put life into perspective."
We go inside to find that my mother has definitely been busy in the kitchen. She’s cooked everything under the sun and I eat heartily despite the nagging ball of apprehension that the winds of change have blown in. When I help my mother tuck Jasper in and kiss him on the head, she looks at me across his still form. We’re both kneeling next to the bed because we both helped him pray and I brace myself for whatever it is she wants to say to me. She doesn’t disappoint.
"I spoke with Dr. Shepherd today," Mom tells me. "We’re taking Jasper to the hospital tomorrow for a check up and to discuss the procedure a little further."
My eyes widen and I nod at her. "That’s good."
"I don’t always trust medicine." Her hand rests on Jasper’s leg as she gazes down at his face. "I’ve spend the past fifteen years asking God to help him and God *has* helped him, Callie. Doctors said that he would never walk again. They said that he would not talk, he would not feel, he would not *heal*. I had faith and look what God has done. Jasper may not be the Jasper we remember, but he worked his ass off to get to where he is. I’m proud of him. If this is all that he can ever be ... I’m proud of him."
"I know that, Mom."
"I trust you." Her eyes find mine again. "If you think that this surgery can help him then I’m going to have an open mind and I’m going to listen to everything that Dr. Shepherd has to say to me. But I want you to understand that this is my *baby* we’re talking about and I’m not making any guarantees."
"That’s good enough for me."
She holds her hand out and I rest mine in hers. A second later, Jasper’s hand covers both of ours. He quickly closes his eyes when he catches me looking at him and I tickle his side. "You’re supposed to be asleep, buddy."
"You talk!" he tells me. "Loud!"
I goose him again and he giggles. "I love you, Jazz."
"Love you, Lee. Shhh! Quiet!" he points his finger at me, smile fading. "Sleep now."
"Okay, okay," I tell him, patting his chest. Buddha sticks his nose out from under the cover and licks my hand, then rests his head on Jasper’s shoulder. I watch my brother turn onto his side and cradle the dog loosely in his arms. He’s no longer chasing dolphins before bedtime. Buddha is his dolphin, his friend, and the comfort he needs to lie in the dark. I wonder if Erica knows how much she’s impacted the two most important men in my life. She gave my father a second lease and my brother something to keep him safe at night. I need to make certain that she knows how much I appreciate all she has done for us.
My mother is still kneeling beside him when I leave the room.
It’s a relief to know that someone else holds the answers now. I can stop debating with myself about whether Jasper should or should not have the operation.
It’s out of my hands.
I can smell Erica’s soap when I go into our bedroom and don’t hesitate when it comes to joining her in the shower. She drops her shampoo when she sees me and I retrieve it, but don’t give it back to her. I pour some into my hands and soap her hair myself. She wraps her arms around my waist as I scrub her scalp, scratching with my nails in the way I know she likes. She pulls me under the water with her as she rinses and I’m shocked to feel that she’s shaking a little. "You okay?"
"I have a headache," she replies.
"Can I do anything?"
She rubs her hand over my cheek, then down the column of my throat. "What you’re doing right now ... keep doing that."
"What am I doing?"
"You’re here. That’s all I’ll ever need." She hugs me, clinging a little tighter than she usually does. "I don’t know what I’d do if you ever left me."
"Whoa, hey." It takes a little work, but I finally ease her away from me so I can see her. It shocks me when I realize that she’s crying and my heart slams against my ribcage like it wants to flee my body to be closer to hers. "Something’s wrong. What is it?"
She opens her mouth, then closes it and shakes her head. "Stress. It’s just ... stress. This thing with the deer and Jasper’s surgery. I’m a little stressed."
I don’t believe her for one second.
But I also refrain from pushing her because she looks like she could shatter at any moment. I bathe fast ... while she leans against the wall watching me.
She curls into my arms as soon as we’re in the bed and I massage her back. She trembles against me and I say, "Erica, you know that I’m not going anywhere, right? I’m here for good. Nothing will ever change that. Hell, whoever put that deer out there could hang the entire animal kingdom and I wouldn’t care. We’re in this together. All the way."
"You don’t sound convinced."
"I’m just tired, baby.
"Is that all it is? You promise?"
She doesn’t promise.
I am still awake when she relaxes against me and goes to sleep.
The day that Jasper was injured ... I had a sinking feeling that something bad was going to happen. I chalked it up to me being sad about going back to school and leaving him behind. When we boarded the boat and set sail into the horizon, I kept my eyes on the shore until it faded. I shielded my eyes and watched land recede and wondered if I would ever see it again. I *knew* that something was going to happen. My gut was in knots and when I stretched out on my stomach to work on my tan ... I was really praying.
And it’s that feeling, that same sense of foreboding, that keeps my eyes open all night tonight.
I don’t sleep at all.
I head into work bleary eyed and out of sorts. After I set two bones and work on a consult with Mark, he gently nudges me toward an on call room and tells me to sleep. It’s Mark who shuts out the light and Mark who flips it back on an hour later. He shakes me awake and says, "You need to go to the clinic."
"Why? What’s wrong?"
"It’s Erica. She’s with Addison in room three."
"What happened?" I sit up fast and he holds my shoes out for me. "Mark?"
I’ve never run faster in my life.
So, yeah, I told you guys that Erica would have her own crisis. Here it comes.
Things are really gonna heat up now.