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. If I did, this would happen on ABC. :)
Dedicated: To the readers. Thank you! Your comments are much appreciated. :)
All my love, Ange, you rock. :)
I have waited for news a million times. When Jazz was injured, I waited from my hospital bed for the final diagnosis and when it came, I sank into myself and didn't speak for several hours. Even before that, I applied for early acceptance at every school I could think of and would sit beside the every day mailbox awaiting judgment. I even waited for George to decide, once and for all, if he wanted me ... and I’m really not the kind of person to put my life and its direction in someone else’s hands. I know what waiting is though. I’ve never been particularly fond of the necessity for it, however.
The ten feet it takes for Addison to get to us with the news is life or death. Literally. What she says could change everything ... for the worst. Malignant is such a gross, disgusting word. I've said it a few times, telling a patient that it's bone cancer giving them pain and not arthritis. The news can be met either way. Some people fall apart and cry ... other people greet the devastation with a resolved tilt of their chin, determined to be stronger than the disease. I lift my chin now, but I take a small step back as if that extra foot of space will be enough to brace me for whatever onslaught is coming. Like that twelve inches of space can give me a second longer of not knowing ... because not knowing hasn’t killed me yet. I want to prolong it ... like a sadist.
Knowing ... could kill us both.
Addison's face is a mask as she puts her phone away and I want to shake her, throttle her. She can't be a doctor right now. She has to laugh or cry so that I can laugh or cry. I'm holding my breath when Erica takes my hand and hers is cold and clammy against mine. It feels like the dead fish that used to wash ashore in Miami. Joel would chase me with them, sliding the cold, dead length against my spine as I tried to get away. I don't run from Erica. I don't try to find the nearest hiding place and cower from what COULD be because what is ... is US. We're in this thing together and if I have to die a million times along the way ... it's worth it. We’re worth it.
When Addison gets her phone stowed away she looks up at us and smiles. It's that careless, crooked, sweet and good way that makes the breath in my lungs swoop out in a rush. "It's benign," she says, rubbing Erica on the arm. "Everything’s just fine."
Erica takes the news by running a hand over her face. It requires Addison repeating the results again for either one of us to truly react. When you dodge a bullet, endorphins kick in. Your adrenaline goes haywire and epinephrine sends your heart rate into overdrive. I feel like I just leaped out of the way of a speeding train ... pulling Erica with me at the last possible second. The icy hand of death was RIGHT THERE ... and now it’s gone. I tighten my grip on her and tug her toward me ... I think it's my arms around her that finally lets the truth sink in. "It's benign," I whisper against her hair.
That's a beautiful word. Simply beautiful. It may be the most glorious word in the English language.
In that moment, I understand just how scared Erica has been. I feel like her entire weight is on my shoulder when she sags against me and when she sobs ... my eyes meet Addison's and she reaches down, plucking my bag from my hand. I watch her walk behind a pillar, the kind where serial killers lurk to watch for their next victim and I think maybe I've gone a little crazy because the mental image of Mark walking past her and meeting his fate makes me smile. She'd beat him to death with my box of candy, I think. Or at the very least make him wish she had.
I'm weightless as I cling to Erica and when I think of the fact that she's OKAY, that we're OKAY, and that the scariest aspects of our future are my mother and a homophobic vandal ... I love life. Hers. Mine. Ours. I start to laugh the same way she did in the car earlier. It takes me less than ten seconds to realize that my laughter is choked with sobs. I suddenly understand what my mother means when she says that someone doesn't know whether to shit or go blind. That's me. I don't know what to do with myself. Breaking out of chains never felt so good. This is the acquittal that you wait a lifetime for and even though it’s only been a few days since I started carrying worry around like a second skin ... the relief feels like a million years in the making.
"It's okay, Yellow." I rub her back, kiss her neck. "Now I can yell at you for trying to hide this from me at first."
"Don't," she replies, clutching me so tight it hurts. "I’m all right. I - I’m okay."
There’s childlike wonder in her voice. "Yeah."
"Oh ... God," she whispers. "I didn't want to be sick -"
"But mostly ... I didn't want to leave you. I - I’m sure I promised you forever and I'd never break a promise to you." She lifts her head from my shoulder and looks me in the eye. "I love you."
"I love you, too."
She cries again and I cry with her ... thinking that tears have never felt so damn good in my life.
"What the hell happened now?!"
I turn and look at Mark, who is standing a few feet behind us. He's carrying a bouquet of red roses and apparently his voice carries because Addison peers around the pillar and narrows her eyes. Before I can reply, she stalks forward and says, "What are you doing here? I’m pretty sure no one here wants to see you."
He holds the flowers out toward her, but he's still looking at me. "Why are you crying? Shit, Callie, your arm is bleeding. I told you to keep it covered!"
"Huh?" I ask, dumbly glancing at my shorts.
"Damn it," Erica says, looking down at my shoulder, which she rested her head against. "I did it."
Addison takes the flowers that he has thrust so haphazardly in her direction and Mark lifts my arm, eyeing the blisters that are weeping right along with me. "I've got a first aid kit in the car," he tells me. He glances at Erica's tear stained face again then does a double take on Addison. "Holy hell. What happened to your hair?"
I watch her hand go to her hair and then there's a flurry of rose petals as she swings. She beats him about the head and shoulders with the flowers, making the buds fall off and scatter around our feet. I can’t even count how many licks she gets in, but it’s quite a few. It’s enough. Mark raises his hands over his head, howling his outrage, but the damage is done. He looks like he's gone twelve rounds with a rabid cat by the time she's done with him. All that remains of the roses are twelve thorny stems when she throws them at him and stalks off. I’ve never heard anyone call anybody the names that she shouts over her shoulder and the venom dripping from her is enough to stun me ... and that takes a lot. It’s brutal. And he’s paying for the assault dearly. His face is as crimson as the blood that leaks from his various scrapes.
With his hair standing on end, Mark looks at me with abject horror. "What did I say?"
"Seriously?" I ask. "You don’t know what you did?"
"I gave her flowers! What the fuck was I thinking? Clearly that was an invitation to be a crazy bitch!"
"You insulted her!" I snap. "Honestly! Mark, you don’t ask a woman what happened to her hair."
"And you don’t preface that question with ‘holy hell’, either," Erica advices. "That’s just rude."
"I was rude?" Genuinely shocked, he plucks a rose petal out of his hair. "Damn."
Erica's blue eyes are huge and dry as she appraises him. "This?" she tells no one in particular. "Is why I'm gay. Straight drama is insane."
I reach out and pat him on the arm. "What you should have said ... is that you liked her hair. And you should have looked at her when you gave her the flowers so she knew you meant it."
"You were BLEEDING. I stop blood flow first and then ... try to romance people," he growls. "And I'm not sure if I like her hair. It's ... red."
"It's supposed to be!" I tell him. "She's Addison."
"Well, I was used to it the other way. Why the hell do women change everything right when you get used to them?!" He rubs his cheek and hisses, then looks down at his arms, where the zig zag patterns are seeping blood. "Look at this mess. At least her hair matches her damn temper now!"
"You really need to work on your people skills," Erica tells him, sniffling as she rubs the tears off her face. "What a day."
He looks like he wants to shove the rose stems up her ass for a split second, but then he takes in the mascara on her cheeks and the flaring in his nostrils evaporates as quickly as it came on. "What were the two of you ... upset about ... when I walked up?"
"I don't have cancer," she tells him. "I’m okay."
He throws his hands in the air. "Women! Give one flowers and she kicks your ass. Give another good news and she cries. I need a dog or something. A *male* dog. Something big and ..."
"Manly?" I offer. "I don’t think the Archfield would approve, but if *you* chose to man up and get your girl ... no one would complain. Well, except maybe the neighbors."
He makes a face at me and points at my shoulder. "You want my first aid kit?"
"You need it more than me," I reply. "Besides, my mother keeps one in her suitcase. I’m fine."
"Good luck with that," he tells me, bending down and gathering the stems, which he throws into the trash. When he gets to his feet again, he says, "What would happen if I went to her room and asked her to help me out with antibiotic cream?"
Erica shakes her head. "Dude, that’s asking for it. She may throw you out the window."
"And the Neosporin may go up your ass first," I add.
"Hmm, I see your point."
The clicking of high heels alerts me that someone is approaching, but it’s Mark’s reaction that tells me who it is before I turn to look. Addison has come back and judging by his face, he’s not happy to see her. When I glance behind me, I can see why he’s hesitant. She’s carrying a big bottle of rubbing alcohol. I watch her screw the lid off and toss it aside and Mark has the audacity to run behind me. Erica shoves him away and we dart behind a BMW when Addison slashes the air with the bottle, sending a spray dead onto the arms that Mark has lifted in surrender. He hops up and down, trying in vain to shake the antiseptic off his wounds, but he only succeeds in rubbing it in. I had a similar encounter with a hot pepper once ... and rubbed my eyes after nearly choking to death. It wasn’t pretty. My reaction was the same as Mark’s now. If there isn’t rain in the forecast ... the rain dance he does right now will surely cause a downpour.
He lunges for the bottle of alcohol and she lets another stream fly. "YOU ARE AN ASSHOLE, SLOAN!"
"Addison, stop!" he yells, swerving like a linebacker to keep her from wetting him again. "You’re fucking insane! Do you hear me!? You went to California and drank the Kool-Aid. I told you -"
"STOP TALKING!" she cries. "I got my hair done for *you*! I thought it would remind you of old times!"
"I don’t remember it ever being so ... loud." He hums a tune. It’s a boisterous carnival ditty and I gasp, bracing for carnage. "Send in the clown cars!"
"Ooooh! I’m gonna kill you!" Another good dousing sees him putting a Mercedes between them. She stalks forward, looking every bit the She-devil. The overhead lights make her hair look like a blazing halo around her head. It’s bouncy and I begrudgingly admit to myself that Helen styled it beautifully. The cunt. It’ll look great for the mug shot anyway. "I don’t know what I ever saw in you!" Addy yells at Mark. "You’ve got the emotional maturity of a seventeen year old boy and you’re not *that* great in bed anyway!"
"Yeah, right," he laughs. "That’s why you’re begging for it, huh?"
The bottle bounces off his head and she yanks her heel off, shaking it at him. "I don’t have to beg. I was merely offering ... to see if you’ve learned anything since I’ve been gone. You know, like where the clitoris is, fumble fingers."
"Well, if you’d prune the hedges maybe the fucker wouldn’t be hidden in the jungle. Step into this century, Addison, buy a razor! Get a wax!" he shouts. "Or leave it and show it to your hairdresser so that she can get a little closer to the natural color instead of ultraviolet!"
She throws her shoe like a pitcher during the world series .. hiking one leg out and up toward her chest. I don’t think Manolo Blahnik ever intended his shoes to be used as missiles, but they apparently work well as one. Mark clutches his throat, where the sharp, pointy tip hit him and leans over, wheezing. I start to rush forward, but Erica clutches me around the waist and shakes her head. "Wait."
"MARK!" Addison stumbles around the front of the car that is separating her from her target, one shoe on, one shoe off. She clutches at his broad shoulders, trying to pull him upright. "Are you okay?"
I gasp when he grabs her, lifting her over his shoulder. He slaps her twice, hard, on the ass as her head dangles near his backside and it’s like watching some weird mating dance on The Discovery Channel. I can almost hear some British guy saying, ‘After the bloodletting struggle for dominance, the male homosapien lifts his mate over his shoulder and retires with her to his twenty five hundred dollar per week man-cave, where he hopefully finds the her clitoris and lives to see another day’.
"PUT ME DOWN!" Addison screeches like a banshee, cutting through my mental documentary.
I cringe when I hear her slap him on the back and he retaliates in kind, swatting her a third and fourth time. On the fifth blow, his hand lingers on her backside and I can tell that he’s molding the shape of her with his oversized palm. As far as foreplay goes ... it’s brutally enticing. She stops fighting and hangs like a rag doll over his shoulder as he steps over her shoe and the alcohol bottle. As soon as she catches sight of her pricey high hell, however, she demands that he retrieve it. It’s almost laughable ... since she’s not really in a position to demand anything, but her voice is full of venom when she pounds on his shoulder. "Get it!"
"No," he snaps. "Leave it."
"PUT ME DOWN! NOW!" She strains upward, pulling his hair and he swats her for a sixth time, causing her to vocalize her outrage so colorfully that I wish I had a notepad to jot down a few key phrases.
When she yanks his hair again, he shoves her further over his shoulder, pretending to drop her onto her head.
Her scream is blood curdling.
And it summons the real She-devil.
My mother comes running around the corner, her short, chubby legs and Sketcher covered feet propelling her forward with far more speed than I’ve ever given her credit for. Her pepper spray is armed and at the ready, but instead of spraying Mark in the face with it, she sinks her foot into his groin and for a split second, I actually think that Addison is going to crack her head open because it looks like he’s dropping her. Mark wheezes and falls to his knees, keeping a firm grip on Addison and gently setting her on her feet as he leans forward, his forehead against the asphalt. He truly is sputtering for air now and Erica and I race forward together. My mother, who apparently didn’t realize that she was attacking someone she *knows* covers her mouth with both hands, looking stunned.
"MOM, WHAT THE HELL!?" I yell, dropping down beside him.
"I thought he was a rapist! There was a news story just now about ... oh my goodness ... oh my goodness," Mom babbles, her face scarlet. "Oh, Mark, honey ... are you okay?"
"Kill me. Now," Mark rasps. "Testicle ... retrieval ... surgery..."
Being wrong has never been okay with Lori Anne Torres. Instead of apologizing for possibly sterilizing him, she puts her hands on her ample hips and stomps her foot. "Well, for Heaven’s sake, Mark! No wonder my daughter left you if this is how you treat women! Apologize to Addison right now! Look at the state of her! You’re lucky it was me that saw it and not Santos because they’d be zipping you in a body bag if he had seen you manhandling her! Calliope, did he ever hit you?"
"No, Mom," I say and it’s entirely possible that I’m more humiliated than she is. My family needs to be committed. We’re a three ring circus act. "I cannot believe you did that."
"Well, what did you expect me to do!?" she demands. "I didn’t pay a thousand dollars for self defense lessons just to sit idly while a woman gets attacked."
"Self defense!" Mark mumbles. "Self, Lori Anne. That means YOU ... not other people."
"Women stick together!" She points a finger at him. "Ass!"
"I love you," Addison tells her, hugging her. "Can I have your autograph?"
I roll my eyes when they embrace and tug on Mark’s arm. "Can you get up?"
"I’m thinking never again. It’ll be flaccid until the day I die," he deadpans. "Thanks for the memories, Cal. They’ll have to do me."
"I’m sorry," I tell him. "Uh ... maybe you should ... put some ice on it?"
Erica helps me get him to his feet and he glares at me, then my mother, then at Addison. "Women!"
When he stalks away with what’s left of his pride, which I’m sure is just as tattered as his arms (and balls), I retrieve my bag and watch Addison do the same with her shoe. My mother is pretending to be perfectly fine with wielding the foot of doom against a friend, but I can tell that she’s shaken herself up just as much as she’s shaken Mark. To take the attention off herself, she looks at me defiantly and says, "What are you doing here?"
"I wanted to stop and see Jazz," I reply. "And ... Dad."
"Oh, I see how it is. You don’t have a mother anymore? Just because I have a different opinion?"
I put my hands on *my* ample hips, matching her pose. "Since when does a different opinion mean that you get to call me a whore?"
She takes a deep breath. "I apologize for that."
"Do you also apologize for calling me perverted and disgusting?"
"Your *actions* are." She continues talking before I can correct her. "To me ... it is perverted and disgusting. It’s not only morally wrong, it’s unnatural."
"So is dyeing your hair, but you still do that!"
Ever the diplomat, my mother puts a fake smile on her face, directing it at Addison. "Speaking of hair, honey, yours is quite lovely."
"Uh ... thanks?" Addison smoothes her rumpled shirt down, adding, "I’m gonna go ... to my room ... and ... plot Mark’s demise. Erica, I’m happy that everything turned out okay." Leaning forward, she kisses my cheek and says, "Call me."
I watch her leave and I envy her the fact that Mark Sloan is her biggest problem. I’ve decided that my mother’s scorn and derision is just as heavy as the cancer scare. It weighs on a different part of my heart, but it hurts just as much. I’m not really used to having Mom hate my life. When I married George, she disliked being excluded more than she disliked my new last name. She was just as bad as Sydney Heron at times ... going out of her way to call me Callie O’Malley while she cackled at her own joke like no one else had thought of it. The divorce was also something she despised and she let me know it, too. It took me giving up the goods on George’s affair with Izzie to make her come around all the way and then I had to talk her out of killing him. I think if cooler heads had not prevailed ... she would have channeled the most notorious of serial killers and spread the pieces of George all over the United States.
I don’t know how to tell her that she is hurting me more than he ever did.
Erica reaches down and takes my hand. She doesn’t just take it, she threads her fingers through mine and says, "What room are you guys in, Lori Anne? Callie brought Jasper some candy."
Mom regards her for the first time since we’ve been here. "What did Addison mean? What turned out okay?"
"I don’t have cancer." Erica says the words with authority, she says them with a vengeance. "Disappointed?"
"What!?" Scandalized at the suggestion, Mom stuns me by bursting into tears. "I’d never ... how could you think ... for Heaven’s sake, Erica! I wouldn’t have picked you for my daughter, but *she* did. I don’t want to see her hurt."
"Oh, it’s fine for Erica to hurt, but not me?" I thrust the bag of candy into my mother’s arms and say, "Tell Dad to bring Jasper by to see me before you fly back home. Erica, let’s go."
"Wait! Callie, I didn’t say that! I didn’t *mean* that!" Mom cries, tears still falling. "Honey, please!"
"NO!" I whirl on my heel and glare at her. "Erica and I got *great* news today and you’re not going to ruin it. You’re not. And preaching at me, telling me that you don’t approve of my life ... the only thing that’s going to change is your place in it! I love you. I love you with all my heart, but I don’t want to see you again until you can accept me. And Erica is part of me. For good!"
"Okay ... okay, calm down." Mom adjusts the bag on her hip and reaches for me. "Your shoulder is bleeding."
"Yeah, well it’s my heart that’s hemorrhaging. You’ve broken it. I hope you’re happy."
"I’m not." She takes a step forward and holds her hand out, palm up. It’s the same way she used to gesture to me when I was a little kid and she wanted me to take her hand before crossing the street. When I don’t make a move to accept the offer, Erica lifts my left hand and puts it in my mother’s. I don’t think Mom has noticed my ring until right now. She rubs her thumb over it, then sets the bag on the ground and takes Erica’s left hand. She seems to be lost in thought for a moment as she studies our bands and I’m almost afraid of what she’ll say. "These are beautiful."
"Thank you," Erica tells her and I watch her long fingers clench around my mother’s like she’s a lifeline and not someone hell bent on destroying us. "If you give me a chance ... I can prove that I’m the right person for her. Just ... give me a chance, Lori Anne. Please? I know I’m not who you wanted to see her with, but I can guarantee you that I’m going to take care of her. I love her just as much as you do."
Even though this is not new to me ... I still feel it all over. It’s like stepping into a warm bath after being out in the freezing rain all day. When she says it ... *I* believe her and my mother would be a fool not to do the same. I’m firmly convinced that soul mates exist and I’ve found mine finally. Tangled up in love is the best possible way to be snared and I grin at her, despite the severity of the situation. She meets my eyes and smiles back at me, baring her teeth, baring her heart. "I love you, too," I tell her, leaning my head against hers. "So much."
My mother squeezes my hand and says, "Why don’t you deliver Jasper’s candy to him yourself? He was asking about the two of you earlier."
"Okay," I reply, still gazing at Erica. I’m sure I look like a lovesick puppy, but I don’t care.
She pushes my hair back and kisses my forehead, then turns her attention back to Mom, who is still holding our hands. "By the way, I approve of your self defense classes. Your aim was incredible. I’ve been tempted to do the same thing to him quite a few times."
"What *was* he doing to her?" Mom asks, letting our hands go. "She was furious."
"That was foreplay." I shrug my shoulders.
Mom is bending to retrieve the bag, but stops, looking up at me. "It’s Seattle. It has to be Seattle. I told you that the West Coast was full of freaks and crazies. If that was foreplay, I’d hate to see actual ... copulation."
"No one calls it that."
"Hell, I guess not. That’s far too nice a word for whatever ... that ... was."
Erica hugs me as we wait for the elevator.
As much as I’d rather be making love with her to celebrate the test results ... we need to make this step with my mother.
Jasper is so excited to see us that he wets his pants.
Buddha nearly tears Erica’s pinky toe off and my Dad models the shirt that I bought him with such a ridiculous amount of posturing that I nearly pee *my* pants.
My mother stands on the outside ... looking in.
I pray that she sees what I’ve seen all along.
There really is no one better for me than Erica Hahn.
By the time we get home, we’re both so eager to celebrate our benign good fortune that we’re barely parked in the garage before my hands are under her shirt. She simply lets her car seat fall back and we make really, really great use of my Infiniti. After a lengthy make out session, we go inside, eat far too much ice cream, and then submerge ourselves in the hot tub. It’s not dark out yet, but neither of us care. I move over her in the water, locking my legs around her waist as she slides her hands over my ass. I automatically grind forward, into her. It’s so bizarre that I can get so much ... out of so little.
I tug her earlobe with my teeth and smile down at her. "Life is good."
"Life is very, very good," she agrees, easing one hand around me. Her eyes stay on my face as two of her fingers seek and earn entrance. The water isn’t hot by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s engulfing me ... she’s engulfing me. I boil with lust every single time she touches me this way. "So are you."
I capture her mouth with mine and seal everything that doesn’t need to be said with a kiss.
We’re still in the water two hours later and I break her record of orgasms.
Giving is still just as much fun as receiving with her.
"OH MY GOD, YOU’RE BACK!"
I brace myself when Lexie launches herself at me. She’s doing rounds with Cristina and I let her hug me, laughing because Yang acts like she wants to vomit at the public display of affection. When Lexie steps away ... Cristina pokes me in the arm and that’s as close to a hug as she’ll give me, but it’s just as warm. It only takes five minutes for Lexie’s mile a minute update on everything I’ve missed (which really isn’t anything) to grate on my nerves and I breathe a sigh of relief when Cristina tells her to go fetch labs. I accompany my ex-roommate to the lounge where we both pour steaming cups of coffee and enjoy it on the breezeway, watching our co-workers mill around below us.
"So, Stevens is pregnant." Cristina watches me closely for a reaction and she’s disappointed when I’m not surprised. "Mini Grey already told you, huh? There’s a bedpan with her name on it."
"She did spill the beans."
"You will never, ever believe who the father is."
Scalding hot coffee up the nose is never, ever pleasant. I see a star burst of color as it singes my nasal cavity and choke on it. "WHAT!?"
"Yep." She makes a face, watching me try to recuperate with as much dignity as I can muster. "It will have nice, good looking genes, but so many fucked up chemicals in the brain that it won’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of being normal."
"There’s nothing holy about those two." She sighs. "So, Burke is apparently coming back to visit."
"Holy shit!" I repeat, not just for Cristina, but for Erica, who won’t enjoy seeing Preston again. Oh, how I hope we’re out the country by then.
"There’s nothing holy about that either. I plan on kicking his ass just as hard as Addison kicked Mark’s this morning."
"This morning?" I ask, thinking about the beat down the previous day. Addison called me not long after Erica and I returned home from visiting my parents to tell me that she was ignoring all of Mark’s calls. And apparently the calls were numerous. He interrupted our fifteen minute talk no less than five times."They’re still at it?"
"Still? You mean today wasn’t their first round? I knew some of his wounds looked less than fresh. Damn. I miss everything."
"They were in the parking lot when I came in. She was chasing him around her car and he *laughed* at her, but I think her purse must have been really heavy when it connected because he didn’t laugh again. It sounded like there was lead in it."
She nods at me. "So, I didn’t think that you and Hahn were on the schedule yet."
"We’re not. We decided to come in for the M&M so we could let Richard know that we’re ready to come back whenever he wants us. We’re going to Italy in a few weeks. I need to cut something before then or I’ll go crazy."
"I heard about the biopsy. And the results. I drank a beer last night for Hahn ... to celebrate." She takes a step closer. "And then I celebrated with that cute new X-ray technician."
"The guy with the curls?" I ask and when she nods, I slap her on the arm. "Go, Yang! He’s pretty cute."
"And hung like a horse. Seriously. It hurt so good."
Smiling, she lifts my hand and checks my watch. "And I have an on call room appointment to go there again before the M&M. See you there."
I watch her go and sip my coffee, leaning against the breezeway railing. Mark spots me and waves, taking the stairs two at a time to join me. I can tell by his determined stride that he has something on his mind so I brace myself for his wrath. He looks like hell. I can tell that he hasn’t slept because he wore the same expression while I was practically comatose on Cristina’s sofa in deep, mental depression and then again after my surgery. I can’t believe I ever underestimated him and dismissed him as nothing more than eye candy and an easy lay. He takes my cup and drains the bitter liquid inside, grimacing as he does so.
"What’s wrong, Sloan? Spill it."
"I think I pissed her off too much this time."
"What did you do?"
"That’s just it ... I don’t know. She won’t talk to me and I tried to play it off this morning ... I tried to joke with her, but she won’t *talk* to me. Not one word. And she was crying in the stairwell a while ago." He crumples the cup and squeezes it in his hands, which are still so scratched that he looks like a great candidate for a skin graft ... you know, if you took the skin from his ass and nothing that’s exposed. I never knew that the thorns on a rose stem could do so much damage. He’s lucky he still has both eyes. "What do I do, Cal?"
I’m stunned that he’s asking me for advice ... the me that trampled his insides as much as Addison trampled his outsides ... but I’m also elated. "What do you want to do? Think about that before you answer."
He does. I can practically see the gears rotating in his head as he mulls his response. He turns to face me before he replies and I nervously bite my lip because he could easily tell me to fuck off, but he doesn’t. "I want to love her again. I did before. I really did ... after Derek left. Hell, even before he left ... when I wasn’t supposed to. I loved her, but she’s Addison. She left me in New York after she aborted my kid and I still chased after her, hoping she would forgive *me* for not being him as much as I forgave her for not wanting to have a family with me. I even chased her to California, but she never knew that. You didn’t even know that. It was right before your marriage ended. I flew down there and I watched her for an entire day ... trying to figure out if there was any part of her that still loved me. I let her go that day. I gave up.
"And now she’s back and she claims that she wants me. If she had told me this months ago ... it would be fine, but now it’s not. I changed. You came and went and if I couldn’t be who you needed ... then how am I supposed to be who she needs?" His eyes are sad when they lock on mine. "I’m afraid of hurting her the same way you hurt me. I never knew what that felt like until you and I don’t want to do that to her, but I’m still so god damned pissed at ... everyone ... I ... I don’t know what to do and hurting her comes easy."
"Don’t dwell on the fact that she left, Mark, because she came back. She came back for YOU and that matters. And you’re not pissed at her ... you’re not even pissed at me ... you’re pissed at yourself because you can’t NOT care. You didn’t change as much as you think you did ... you simply let your guard down with me and everyone saw your tender underbelly." I reach out and take his hand, relieved when he doesn’t pull back. "Let your guard down again. Anyone with eyes knows that you love her ... except her. Show her. Hold her hand in the hallway ... buy her ONE flower ... put a note in her locker ... and don’t waste any more time."
He nods at me, then smiles. "I cannot believe I’m actively seeking relationship advice from the baby lesbian at the root of my emotional trauma."
"Yeah, well, I can’t believe I’m so full of wisdom. I used to be a cynic, you know?"
"Do I ever." He nudges me with her shoulder. "I’ve missed you. A little."
"Liar. You’ve missed the hell out of me and I know it."
The megawatt smile, the one that should be patented as ‘McSteamy’ falls into place. Even amidst the road map of scratches on his face ... it’s beautiful. "Yeah, you’re onto me. I’ll see you at the M&M."
I watch him walk away. There are moments in life where you want to break out into song.
This is one of those times.
But I refrain.
I hear Erica's familiar laugh and it makes me smile. She hasn't really stopped laughing since we got the news and that suits me just fine. I love that she's in love with her life and that I can be a part of it. Moving to the other side of the breezeway, I easily pick her out of the crowd of people. I could watch her all day, I think. One hand moves through her hair, flipping it back almost girlishly and I chuckle because it's like she has decided to relive her childhood. She’s hugging a stuffed bear to her chest with one arm as she gestures with the other.
I'm tempted to text her and point out that her ass looks really nice from this angle, but I freeze when the person she's chatting with steps into view. Helen looks even more stunning today. Her long hair is falling to her waist with big curls and the skirt she's wearing would be indecent even by Miami's standards. I watch the woman rest her hand on Erica's shoulder and I can picture them in my head so clearly ... doing unmentionable things to one another, that I'd scald my hand if I was still holding my coffee cup. Erica laughs at something Helen says and I watch the group of guys standing near them do the same thing. Alex, George, and several interns are loitering to get an eye full and Helen seems to know that she's being admired because she keeps touching her hair, adjusting her skirt. I'd choke her with it if I could.
I leave the breezeway for the shelter of the bathroom, where I hide the way I did in high school ... when the pretty girls always won.
I think maybe Helen is *my* cancer.
"Are you okay?" Erica asks, giving me a quick hug as I sink into the seat next to her. "You look like you feel bad."
I shrug away when she tries to feel my forehead and pull away. "I'm fine."
"Are you sick?"
"You could say that."
Before she can reply, Addison flops down beside me and holds out a bag of Swedish Fish. "Want one?"
"No, thanks." I lean back as she offers Erica the candy and Erica accepts, casting me a sidelong look of worry.
"I did not miss this while I was in California. Hours of being told how much we suck." Addy chews on her candy and sighs. "I'm over dating, by the way. I mail ordered a purple pulsater last night. Give me pointers, oh toy goddess."
"Point and click," I reply. "And utilize the foot boards at the Archfield."
"Footboards?" She bites the head off a fish, clearly trying to visualize. "Come again?"
"Precisely," I tell her. "Use the footboard to ... uhm ... hold it in. You'll come again and again."
When she still looks vacant, I illustrate with my hands, showing her a pair of legs dangling over the footboard of the bed. Her imagination finally gets it ... finally gets the art that goes with making out with yourself by using the bed to make it a little better and her mouth forms an 'o'. "I see."
On the other side of me, Erica is watching me closely and I squirm uncomfortably, checking my watch. I'm saved from explaining my bad mood by the arrival of Mark. He plops down beside Addison and she gets up, moving to the other side of Erica. Like musical chairs, Mark takes the spot she vacated and mumbles, "What's your advice *now*?"
"Hang in there."
He yanks his phone out and rapidly texts. A moment later, Addison's phone vibrates and when she texts him back, I'm sure she's furious because she's gripping and pounding her phone hard enough to make the back fall off. It's my phone that responds when she finishes her tirade and I reluctantly take it from my pocket. It's Addison, naturally.
'Tell that scratched up piece of shit beside you to stop bothering me before I have him arrested for harassment. I'm moving on. He can kiss my ass.'
I nudge Mark with my elbow and hand him my phone. He reads it and I have to wrestle it from him when he draws back like he wants to throw it at her. I snatch it from him and stow it back in my pocket, but it doesn't stay long. Mark furiously types me a message and I shoot him a withering look as I retrieve it.
'Tell the Jungle Girl that I'll be happy to give the next guy a map through her rain forest. Poor schmuck will need it.'
I shake my head no at him, but Addison reaches across Erica and snatches my phone. I can tell she's read it because she blurts out, "Fucking asshole!"
Several heads turn our way and I’m grateful that the meeting starts because it’s not going to be pretty otherwise.
As a rule, M&M’s are not as fun as the candy. Morbidity and Mortality conferences are just as gloomy as the name implies because you listen to your peers discussing their mistakes, and sometimes you discuss your own, and it’s a stark reminder that we’re all just human. No matter how much we feel like super heroes when we pull a dying kid out of cement or trace the maze of a gunshot wound and stitch the damage, we make mistakes. People die on our watch. Something that presents as a common cold can chase a heartbeat down and bludgeon it to death before we know what happened. This is the reality of medicine. It’s only medicine ... and it can’t fight the Grim Reaper when he’s persistent as hell. I try to pay attention, but I find myself reliving the morning with Erica before we left. She slept late so I cooked chocolate chip pancakes.
There’s something to be said for licking syrup off someone’s stomach to wake them up.
She certainly didn’t mind.
And the fact that neither or us ate much (fuck, I can’t cook! okay!?) is evidenced by the conversation our stomachs have, both rumbling in response to the other. Karev, who is sitting in front of me with half the vending machine in his lap, doesn’t even turn around. He simply hands two bags of chips back to us and we take it. He snaps his fingers after I tear into my Sour Cream & Onion and I roll my eyes, pressing a ten dollar bill into his palm. The doctors who are brave enough to smuggle food in make a killing in resale. Sometimes it reminds me of a prison yard. I listen as much as I can to Webber discuss several errors that were made in a patient who was life-flighted in from Mount Rainier. Apparently the biggest problem is the fact that several residents did not answer their page immediately. When his eyes fall on the Five Fab Fools in front of me ... I feel excessively sorry for Bailey. She practically shrinks lower into her seat when he asks Meredith to explain the delay in response.
"Uh," Grey begins, nervously glancing to her left at Izzie. I should have known. "It was quite a day."
"I didn’t ask you to tell me what kind of day it was, Dr. Grey. I’ve already proven that it was ‘quite a day’. I’m asking you to tell me why, after four pages, the only people to meet the helicopter were two nurses and three techs." When she looks away, Richard says, "Dr. Karev?"
"I don’t remember. I - I got there after she was in the trauma bay. I called it after close to an hour."
"I see. Dr. Yang, your memory is incredible What was the hold up?"
Someone clears his throat behind Richard and I groan when I see Savoy’s hand in the air. He doesn’t wait for permission to speak, however, and says, "I should think that it’s obvious that Bailey’s interns have now become Bailey’s residents and no one holds them accountable. Especially her. These alleged doctors of hers will-"
"Alleged doctors?" Karev leans forward in his seat to scowl at Savoy. "This was my case and the last time I checked ... I earned my degree at the same place you did."
"Did they school you on answering your pager?" Savoy challenges. "Because I'm pretty sure that the five of you, Bailey's Blundering Babies, have caused more deaths than any other band of misfits in this hospital."
Alex makes a move toward him, but Mark stands up and intercepts before he can connect. I catch Savoy's eye and shake my head in disgust. He glares at me, and says, "What, freak?"
"I seem to recall you causing a death yourself. Tobey Elmhurst. Ring a bell? You were so busy trying to feel me up in the supply closet that you let him bleed to death. Didn't you get a six week vacation for that?"
Several people laugh and his snake eyes dart around the room. "That was -"
"Different? You ignored several pages that night, Savoy. I was there. I remember telling you something was wrong."
"The only thing *wrong* was you, carpet mun-"
Mark is already on his feet. I don’t know whether it’s the slur Savoy is trying to use or the pent up testosterone coursing through Mark’s body from having his ass handed to him by Addison that does it ... but he throws the right hook to end all right hooks and Savoy hits the ground. Mark knocks him out cold and I’m still too stunned by the entire thing to move, even when most of our colleagues spring into action around us. Erica moves past me, helping Derek stabilize Savoy’s head while someone else runs for a C-collar and stretcher. I watch Mark shake his hand and my brain switches on ... I grab it and prod the bones, checking for a fracture. It’s already swelling like there’s no tomorrow and I glance at Addison, "Could you get an ice pack?"
"For him?" She points at Mark. "Absolutely not. Let the idiot hurt."
"I was defending honor!" Mark growls, trying to yank his hand away from me. "Chicks are supposed to like that, Addison! You should be humping my leg right now!"
"You were defending *her* honor," Addison snaps, trying to hit him on the arm, but I stop her. "When you defend *mine* ... then I’ll hump your leg."
"Your honor is in one piece," I tell her and she puts her hands on her hips, glaring at me. It prompts me to look at Mark and add, "Nevertheless, you shouldn’t have done that. Webber is going to - here he comes. Heads up."
As I listen to the Chief demand that Mark report to his office after his hand is X-rayed, I’m all too aware that I’m standing between Mark and Addison. Literally and figuratively. I messed with his head so much that he can’t rush into anything with her and she knows it. She’s still trying to be friends with me while she watches him come to terms with whatever it is he wants from me now. He was looking at *me* when he gave her the roses. He was more concerned with the barely there blood on my shoulder than with her new hair. And now ... now he’s put his ass on the line to knock out the guy who insulted me. If I were walking around in Addison’s shoes ... I’d hate me. I’m stunned that she doesn’t feel the same way about me as I feel about Stevens ... or Helen for that matter. I feel a little nervous when I look at her and say, "Why don’t you take him to X-ray? I’ll come and read the films when -"
"Why don’t YOU take him to X-ray," she suggests. "He’s your *defender*, isn’t he? Ass!"
She leaves the M&M without a backward glance and I hear him sigh beside me.
We watch Savoy being loaded onto a stretcher ... listening as he mumbles something about the Tooth Fairy ... before heading for radiology.
Mark has no broken bones.
But I think maybe he’s finally broken himself and the fact that he looks expectantly at the door every couple of seconds tells me that he wants a certain flaming redhead with a temper like Satan himself to put him back together.
It’s only fitting that my period comes on with a vengeance after Mark lets me put an ace bandage on his hand. I do it more for show than anything else, thinking that Chief Webber may go lighter on him in the presence of a bandage. I’ve had cramps all morning, which I attributed to Helen’s display of Super Model in front of Erica, but that’s not the case. I finally recognize it for what it is and hurry into the bathroom, where my suspicions are confirmed. I don’t have any cash on me for the tampon machine, naturally, and the thought of walking to my locker with a wad of toilet paper between my thighs is so Freshman year that I can’t bring myself to do it. Not to mention the fact that the crotch of my white pants look like I’ve slaughtered something there. I sit patiently on the toilet and wait for someone to come in because this ... this is where every woman is your friend. You can bond in the bathroom over saving the day with a fresh roll of toilet tissue any day of the week. You can carry on whole conversations about the standard of cleanliness in a restroom with a complete stranger while you await your turn at catching E. Coli on the dirty commode. And you can ask any random woman who walks in for a tampon and if she has it ... she will probably hand it over. It’s one of those things that women do ... we share the curse and the cure with a knowing looking of sympathy.
After five minutes of surfing the net on my Blackberry, I realize that I could *call* someone.
I’m pissed at Erica for the whole Helen thing. Addison is pissed at me and Mark really doesn’t need to push his luck delivering girl products to the bathroom ... even though he’s done it before.
I’m about to call Cristina when the door opens. Someone walks along the row of stalls and pauses in front of my closed door. "Callie?"
"Erica," I reply. She’s wearing the shoes that she bought months ago because I told her they were cute on her. She hates them. I’m sure she does. I watch her wiggle her toes uncomfortably in them under the door.
She taps her foot for a second. "Do you want to know how Savoy is?"
"Is he dead?"
"Then I don’t care."
"You really shouldn’t have gotten involved in that whole exchange. It had nothing to do with you."
"He was fucking with Bailey."
"Bailey is a big girl ... she can take care of herself."
She rolls her left ankle around like it’s hurting her. "Are you going to tell me what’s wrong with you?"
I don’t exactly want to tell her that seeing Helen anywhere in her vicinity can get my blood pressure going at an alarming rate because it shouldn’t. It shouldn’t bother me at all because Erica loves me. I should be glad that she’s the kind of person who can remain friendly with her ex because *I* remain relatively friendly with mine, but it doesn’t make it any easier. I also don’t want to tell her that I’m bloated, crampy, ill, and having a hormonal mood swing because all that would be too easy and explain so much. I sometimes think my purpose in life is to complicate my existence as much as I possibly can. "No."
"Are you upset that your parents flew home today?"
"Will you please come out here?"
"Okay, fine ... I’ll play along. Why can’t you?"
I hear the door open and the steady tapping of heels on the tile. Addison says, "Is she in here?"
"Yep," Erica replies, moving to one side.
Addison’s four inch heels join Erica’s outside the door. "Callie?"
"Is Mark okay?"
"Why don’t you go ask him?"
"Because Richard is still yelling at him," Addison replies. "I’m sorry I snapped earlier. I just ... want to kill him with my bare hands and you were standing there so ... I’m sorry."
"Nothing says I’m sorry like a tampon," I tell her.
"Oh! Did you get your period?" she asks.
"No, Addison, I want to play with it!"
"Ooooh, I had forgotten how you do not handle PMS well." Addison’s heels click and I hear the machine in the corner dispense its bounty. She holds it under the door a second later and I accept it. "If you really, really want to help me out, Addy, you could raid my locker for clean pants."
"Still the same one?" she asks. "Lucky thirteen?"
"I’ll be right back."
When she leaves, Erica clears her throat. "Is there a reason why you didn’t ask me to help you out?"
"I’m pissed at you," I finally confess. Telling the person you love that you’re mad as hell through a bathroom door while you try to staunch the flow of blood with a cardboard applicator is just as uncomfortable as it sounds. She doesn’t reply for a long time. "Erica?"
"Helen was here earlier. Is that what this is about?"
"Oh my god! You get a gold star *and* a cookie."
"Okay, first of all, your attitude pretty much sucks and I don’t appreciate it. Second, I’m going to remind you YET AGAIN that I don’t say a single thing to you for talking to Mark."
"You don’t have anything to worry about with Mark! I left him for *you*."
"I left Helen for *you*."
"I thought you weren’t *with* her."
"This conversation is getting really, really old." I hear her stalk across the floor and I think she’s leaving me alone, then she comes back. "You don’t have anything to worry about either, just for the record. And she was here because her *boyfriend* is passing a kidney stone. They were on their way to breakfast when he got sick and Seattle Grace was closest."
"Oh," she mimics. "Happy now?"
"As happy as anyone who is stuck on the toilet can possibly be."
The minutes tick by painfully slow. I’m tempted to call Addison when the door finally opens and she apologizes breathlessly, telling us that she was waylaid by Mark, who has a two week unpaid vacation. She holds a pair of jeans over the stall door and I get dressed, listening to her prattle about Savoy, who blew out of the hospital like a madman when he heard that Mark hadn’t been fired. Her pager sounds as I’m slipping my shoes on and I emerge in time to see her leave. Erica holds up a small bag and I put my dirty pants in it, then wash my hands. She leans against the sink, watching me out of the corner of her eye. "You really don’t suffer your period well."
"Yeah, well, I have to pack five days of suffering into three. It’s an even trade."
She grins at me. "Even though you do not deserve it ... I will happily buy you chocolate ice cream if you give me a kiss."
I toss the paper towel into the trash and raise a brow. "Where do you want me to kiss you?"
"You are bad." Leaning forward, she cups my face and gazes into my eyes for a few seconds before she kisses me. "But you will definitely be kissing me all over when we get home to make up for this little ... exchange."
We head back through the hospital, hand in hand. Our co-workers no longer notice and the few patients who do never say anything. It’s become a non issue and the exact opposite of everything I mentally prepared myself for. At the beginning of our relationship, I was terrified of what would happen if I was too comfortable with her, too ready to hang onto her in public view, but now it’s second nature. I’m not even doing it to make a statement or to challenge anyone ... I do it because I don’t know how to be around her and *not* touch her. I do it because I’m proud of us and what we share ... even when I’m jealous or she’s jealous or we’ve just had a semi-fight. I do it ... because I went for months imagining what it would be like, groping nothing but a memory and nothing but a dream, and now I’ve got it.
Webber spots us as we’re about to board the elevator and rides it down to the lobby with us. To my surprise, he doesn’t mention what transpired with Mark and Savoy. Instead, he gives us a schedule for the next three weeks and I see that plenty of thirty hour shifts in my future as we head up to our Italian getaway. Erica’s schedule matches mine and it shouldn’t have to because she’s an attending and can pretty much set her own hours, but Richard gets it ... he gets that someone vandalized our house while we were sleeping inside it and he’d rather adjust her schedule than leave one of us home alone. He tells us he’ll see us the following day and we cross the lobby together.
"I’m really glad you got two cats, baby," she says, stowing both of our schedules in her purse. "At least they can keep each other company while we work ourselves to death."
"The cats!" I cry, drawing to a halt. "What are we going to do with them while we’re in Italy?"
"I’ve taken care of it."
"We can’t board them! Ruma hates being in a crate. And Feo gets separation anxiety when he can’t see him. They’ll separate them. I know they will."
"Addison agreed to house sit. She’s gonna stay at our place."
"Alone?! She can’t be out there alone when -"
"You’re going to ask Mark to house sit." Erica pats me on the arm. "They’ll both show up and we’ll pretend to be shocked and stunned and then you’ll tell Mark that Addison shouldn’t stay there alone and I’ll tell Addison that I’m not comfortable leaving Mark in charge of our cats because he’s an idiot and ... they’ll stay together. You and I never had this conversation."
"That ... that’s diabolical."
"Yes, I know." She puts her arm around me. "We’ll stock the kitchen with plenty of alcohol and lots of romantic foods. They’ll be together by the time we get back."
"Or, you know, everything will be destroyed."
"Well, I asked her before I saw her violent streak."
It’s raining and the smell of it is wonderful in the parking deck. It masks the exhaust fumes beautifully, smelling crisp and clean. I pull her toward the low concrete wall and we watch the downpour for a while. She’s the only other person I know who can enjoy nature’s beauty as much as a summer blockbuster. I used to love watching storms in Miami, even though my mother would frantically pull me back in the house the second lightning streaked across the horizon. According to Mom, she was hit in the ass by a bolt of lightning as a teenager while she stretched out on her stomach in front of a wood burning heater. My father likes to tell her that a piece of wood flew out and struck her and that lightning wouldn’t dare encroach upon her derriere, but she insists that it did and because of that ... she’s terrified by it. I have to grin when I think of her flying home in the rain. I’m sure my father is as scratched as Mark is.
"I’m starving," Erica finally says, tugging on my hand. "We haven’t split a Big Mac in a while."
"Damn ... first Pop Tarts and now Big Macs." I put my hand over my heart in shock. "Are you coming down with something?"
"‘I’ve got a bad case of loving you’", she sings, doing a crazy little dance that nearly makes me pee my pants. This is what every relationship should be like. After you weather the storm ... you stop to enjoy the rain because you know it’s going to make you grow even more.
We head toward her car, which won the morning coin toss on which vehicle to take, and I know that something is wrong when I see Mark standing beside it.
He hears us approaching and turns around, looking miserable. "Callie -"
He takes a step back and I see that both tires on the passenger side have been flattened. The mirror is also hanging by a thread. It’s not as bad as Red Rover, but it’s bad enough.
And Erica is looking at him like *he* is the guilty party.
I'm having surgery on Friday. I'll try to update once more before that. Prayers, vibes, and thoughts are more than welcome. :) And comments on fic make my life, seriously. :)