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. :)
A different police officer responds to the latest incident.
It’s the same drill. He walks around the car and grunts a few times as he takes photographs.
He also flirts with me. It’s open, obvious, and overdone. He comments on my hair, my smile (which I’m pretty sure hasn’t surfaced at all), and then asks me if I’m married. I politely tell him no, but assure him that I’m happily involved. Erica is the one that tells him we’re a couple and that the crime is motivated by that. When he looks at me again ... it’s an ugly, salivating kind of appraisal that makes me feel like my clothing vanished and he’s waiting for me to gyrate so he can hold out a dollar bill. I hate it. It makes me feel filthy. Some men greet the news that a woman is into another woman with a knowing smile ... and some men, like this one, strip you to the skin with his eyes so that he can picture it in his head. When he licks his lips, I go and stand with Mark who pats me on the back.
To my shock and aggravation, Erica refuses to accept Mark’s offer of a ride home. It clearly hurts his feelings and I can understand why ... because we were all doing so well and he’s trying to step up and help. We had crossed a bridge that kept bucking us off it, but now it’s like we’re back at square one and I don’t know why. The only thing missing is the name calling and I’m pretty sure the only thing that stops Erica from calling him a few choice words is the presence of the officer. When she makes it clear that Mark is not welcome, he tells me that he’s sorry about the damage and offers to let me drive his car, taking himself out of the equation entirely. I start to accept, but Erica flips her phone open and pointedly calls a cab. To say I’m infuriated is putting it mildly. I see what she’s thinking. She doesn’t have to accuse him of being the culprit outright to make it clear that she suspects it. Mark valiantly hangs around until the wrecker arrives and then he squeezes my hand, telling me to be careful. I watch him drive away and cross my arms over my chest as Erica signs the paperwork. I have to cross them to keep from shaking her.
In the cab, she sits as far away from me as possible and that’s fine with me. I know that Erica has a habit of forgetting what being tactful is all about, but it’s the first time in a long time that has unnerved me with how rude she can actually be. I’ve been on the receiving end of it a handful of times and it was enough to make me never want to go back to that. Watching her put Cristina down, snap at interns, belittle people ... it was never easy for me ... because that’s not a side of her that I see when we’re alone. It’s definitely not the part of her that I fell in love with. I’ve always dismissed it as a defense mechanism, but I refuse to excuse it now. There’s no way in Hell that Mark Sloan spray painted my car ... much less gutted a deer on our front porch. Yes, he was pissed and aggressive for a while and he probably didn’t shed a tear over my car being demolished, but I know in my soul ... with everything that I am ... that he couldn’t hurt me that way.
The cab smells like underarm and I can’t roll the window down because of the rain. I sigh and clear my throat, addressing the driver. "Sir, can you crank the air up a notch?"
"Yes, ma’am." He does as I request and smiles at me in the rearview mirror. "You don’t remember me, do you?"
I shake my head apologetically. "No, I’m sorry."
"It’s the beard," he replies, scratching his chin. "I bought you a drink at The Alibi Room."
"Must’ve been a long time ago. I haven’t been there in over a year." He’s looking at me again so I smile politely. "I said thanks, right?"
"Not really," he chuckles. "You went home with the bouncer. Not me. I wasn’t muscle bound enough for you, I guess. You must be the type of chick who digs the jock type."
"Excuse me," Erica says, her tone harsh. "Can you drive and not talk?"
I can feel my ears flaming bright red and when my phone vibrates, I scramble for it. It’s my father, letting me know that the flight was uneventful and everyone’s safe. Jasper, he says, went straight into the ocean and Buddha followed. I text back, telling him that I miss them all too much for words. I drop my Blackberry back into my purse and notice that Erica’s attention is focused solely on me. "What?"
"Was that your boyfriend?"
"It was my Dad, Erica."
"You’re such a fucking hypocrite."
"I can’t even *talk* to Helen without you raking me over the coals, but it’s fine for to let Sloan fawn all over you. Did it ever occur to you that he’s vandalizing our lives so that he can play the hero? He’s your knight in shining armor ... always coming to the rescue, isn’t he?" She narrows her eyes. "I think you like coming between him and Addison. You like that he’s torn, that he keeps putting you ahead of her."
"You have lost your mind!"
"No, you’ve lost *yours* if you think I don’t notice."
"Are you trying to pick a fight with me? Because you’re doing a great job!"
"You think you’re the only one entitled to be a fucking bitch all the time?"
"Did you just call me a bitch!?"
"I think I said fucking bitch."
Really ... nothing in the world could have shocked me more than that. She has playfully called me that word ... and maybe not so playfully when we’re going at it in bed, but she’s never said it in anger. I’ve never felt it like a slap until right now. "Don't talk to me!" I feel four years old when I say it ... hell, even before I say it, but I still blurt it out like a child.
"With pleasure," she growls, full of venom.
I try to think of ways to dismiss her attitude to no avail. I don't deserve it. Even though I am slightly hypocritical for falling apart every time I think of Helen ... she doesn't need to tell me that ... especially in front of a dirty looking cab driver like we're in an episode of 'Taxi Cab Confessions'. And not when he thinks he knows me. We should be stuck together like glue because of the latest attack, but we're not. I feel like Mark has become the wedge in my relationship the same way I'm the wedge in his. He may as well be sitting between us in the backseat because we can't reach around him. Actually, *I* could, but she's not attempting to and if she won’t meet me halfway then I’m not going to run by myself.
To say I’m stunned is putting it mildly.
I’m actually floored by her outburst.
"It makes sense and you know it!" she snaps suddenly, causing me to jump. "He has the motive."
"Mark is a lot of things, but vandal isn't one of them."
"Stop defending him!"
"Stop accusing him!"
"I'm surprised you didn't call him to rescue you in the bathroom. He could have ripped the tampon machine off the wall for you."
"I only needed one, thank you very much. Although I can think of a few places to shove the whole machine right about now."
"I’d like to see you try."
"I’d have to pull your head out first."
"Ooooh," she says. "Aren’t you just clever?"
I can feel my blood pressure steadily rising and it’s never a good thing to be in my vicinity when that happens. "We should talk about this at home!"
"Let’s not talk at all."
"I think I suggested that already! Thanks for catching up, Erica!"
She doesn't have a ready comeback. I catch the cab driver looking at me and say, "Can you turn the radio on?"
"No," Erica tells him. "I don't want to hear any racket."
"Then stop running your mouth!" I growl viciously. "That's plenty of racket if you ask me."
"YOU SAW HIM STANDING THERE, CALLIE! HOW CAN YOU ACT LIKE HE’S NOT THE PRIME SUSPECT!?"
"HELEN WAS AT THE HOSPITAL TODAY, TOO! WHO’S TO SAY SHE DIDN’T DO IT!?"
She opens her mouth to say something ... then seems to consider my words. She looks thoughtful, then shakes her head. "No, she wouldn’t do that."
"Neither would Mark! Mark, Erica! The same Mark that you want me to invite to house sit! The same Mark who came to our house when YOU called him to check my burns. You know he wouldn’t do it."
"No, I don’t know that."
"Oh my! The infallible Erica Hahn just admitted she doesn’t know something! Stop the presses!"
"Go to HELL!"
I guess the honeymoon phase is over. We've argued, but now it's going someplace new and awful. To prevent it from escalating any further, I take full advantage of the red light and climb out of the car.
She doesn't call my name.
After walking seven blocks in the rain I make the startling discovery that I left my purse in the cab. That pretty much means that I am penniless, without a phone, and sadly at the mercy of the storm. That’s a horrible word ... mercy. Humans are always at someone or something’s mercy. We’re always being convicted and then straining towards clemency to absolve us of our alleged transgressions, begging for mercy. Merciful surgeons to heal and correct, merciful laws to do away with the unjust, and mercy for our souls when it’s time to draw our last breath. Mercy. I’m not feeling one ounce of mercy for Erica right now. I’m mad as hell.
And I still don’t know what the hell happened.
How did we go from talking about splitting a Big Mac to screaming at each other?
Halfway down the ninth block ... I stop walking.
Whoever vandalized Erica’s car has gotten what they wanted. The stress of the whole fucking thing has manifested itself in anger. At each other.
God, I hate losing.
I look and feel like a drowned rat by the time I make it the two miles to Mark’s apartment building. It’s the only place I can think to go and I try to look pleasant so the door man will let me in without a fuss. He remembers my name and does just that, ushering me into the warm, dry building like he’s opening the Holy Gates. I get a couple of dirty looks from riders on the elevator as I drip all over the floor and I’m in a little bit of a daze when I knock on Mark’s door. He answers immediately, making me feel like he’s expecting someone. His eyes move over me and he shakes his head, chuckling. "You’re a mess."
"No shit, Sherlock. Can I come in?"
"I just bought a new rug. You’ll fuck it up."
He steps aside, making a sweeping gesture. I bypass him with a scowl and go straight for the hallway, where the towels are kept. I pluck two from the neatly folded stack and head for the bathroom. He hasn’t followed me and I hurry for the shower ... which, truthfully ... could possibly be something I miss about his place. It has a rainfall effect, back massagers, and more bells and whistles than any shower I’ve ever been in before. It’s amazing. I stand under the hot water and when I emerge, I wrap myself in a towel and stalk to the laundry room, where I throw my clothing in the dryer. He’s still in the living room when I stalk into his bedroom and dig a pair of his sweats and a t-shirt from his bureau. I slip it on and dry my hair, then help myself to a beer in his refrigerator before I flop down on the sofa and glance at the television.
Mark is watching porn.
He’s openly, utterly, and absolutely watching porn.
And he’s fucking riveted, like watching a woman bounce up and down on top of her mate while her big, silicone breasts don’t move is the most natural thing in the world. I’m sure he watches it for the story line only. I reach over and take the remote from him, pausing it. He keeps looking at the screen, at the open mouthed woman with slightly lopsided nipples, and I clear my throat. "Erica thinks you vandalized her car. And mine. And our house."
"I know. She made that painfully clear." He looks at me, his eyes moving over his clothing on me. "Just help yourself to my shit, Callie."
"I did. Thanks." I drain half the bottle, still watching him. "Tell me you didn’t do it. Tell me that I’m right. Tell me that you haven’t forgotten that we were friends, great friends, and you wouldn’t do that to *me*. Because I need to hear you say it."
He keeps his eyes on mine. "I would never ... under any circumstances ... do that to you. Or to Erica. It wasn’t me."
"Tell *me* that you already knew that."
"Why the hell do you think I’m here ... and walking in the rain? Erica is pissed at me for defending you."
"I’m sorry," he tells me and it sounds genuine. "I guess I gave her plenty of reasons to believe I’d do it."
I finish off the beer and get up to retrieve another one. I bring one back for him as well and he hasn’t started the movie again. He simply gazes at the screen. He thanks me when I hand him the bottle and sit down on the sofa again. "How’s your hand?"
"Fine." He grimaces when he opens the bottle, however. "This girl in the movie ... she wants me to fix her breasts."
"Someone needs to," I reply, glancing back at the lopsided actress. "She’s a hot mess."
"I could probably teach her what a real orgasm is, too."
I wrinkle my nose. "Better use a body condom. She’s kinda skank."
He grins at me. "I said I could. I didn’t say I would."
"What are you going to do about Addison?" I relax comfortably against the sofa. It’s odd that I’m more comfortable in this apartment NOW than I ever was when I lived here. The only times I ever sank into the leather sofa and settled in were the nights that Mark worked and Erica stopped by to visit. It was during those times ... that I had a home. And it was only because she was there. I want to call her. I want to apologize ... even though I’m not entirely sure what I did to piss her off. I need to hear her voice all the same ... because I’m terrified that whatever it is that I don’t know I’m guilty of ... will be too much for us to move past.
"I asked her to stop by for dinner."
It takes me a second to be pulled back into the conversation. My mind is firmly elsewhere. "You’re cooking?"
"I’m dialing. Places deliver."
"Did she say yes?"
"She hasn’t replied to the text yet."
"YOU TEXTED HER FOR DINNER!?"
"What? It’s a valid form of communication!"
"It is NOT. Not when it matters. Call her."
"Because I’m trying to prove something here."
"That you’re a heartless asshole!?"
"No. That she wants me. That she wants me even when she’s pissed as hell at me."
"I know." He peels the label on his beer and belches. It’s loud. "‘Scuse me."
He turns the DVD player off and we watch the news, drinking our beers in silence until the dryer goes off. My clothes are still damp, but not unbearable when I pull them back on. I neatly fold the clothing of his that I borrowed and leave them on the washer, then head back into the living room. "Does the offer still stand to let me borrow your car?"
"You’ve been drinking. I’ll give you cab fare, but you’re not driving my car."
"And saying ‘shit’ won’t change my mind." He takes out his wallet and holds up some cash. When I reach for it, he pulls it out of my reach and says, "Are you going home?"
"That is the question, isn’t it?"
"Was it that bad?"
"Yeah," I admit. "To me, it was. She’s never been so pissed at me."
His cell rings and he glances down at the number, a frown creasing his face. "Speak of the devil." He doesn’t answer, he simply holds it out to me.
Her name is ‘Attila the Hahn’ in his phone and I roll my eyes before I answer it. "Hello?"
I hear her breath on the other end of the line. I don’t know whether she’s inhaling or exhaling, but I can hear the aggravation there. "I should have known."
"You obviously did know. You called, didn’t you?"
"I really hoped that he would answer and tell me that he hadn’t seen you."
"I’m sorry that you found me. I’m sorry that I’m not still wandering around in the storm."
"You’re the one who jumped out of the car like an idiot."
"If you’re going to insult me ... I’m hanging up."
"Are you spending the night with him or what?"
"Yeah, Erica. That’s the plan. You’re onto me. I’m so busted."
She snorts. "It wouldn’t shock me."
"Can we stop this? Please?"
"Where at you?"
"I’m at Mark’s place. Are you going to come and get me?"
"No. I don’t think so."
My voice cracks when I speak again. "Why are you doing this? Why?"
"You want to know why?" she growls. "I’ll tell you why! I’m tired of living a fucking double standard with you! You pitch a tantrum every single time Helen enters the picture and I have to reassure you, stroke your ego, and act like I’m guilty of something when I’m not. You don’t have a fucking thing to be threatened about with her. She’s a woman ... just like you. But me and Sloan?! We’re as different as night and day. I can’t compete with a man, Callie, and you keep making me feel like I need to!"
"I have never-"
"Yes ... you have! You fucking have and you don’t want to see it!"
I can tell that she’s crying now. I hear it and I cannot stand it. I wish she was in front of me so I could chase it away. "Erica-"
"I hate what you do to me," she says. "And I hate that I let you."
I hate that I don’t have a single fucking clue what’s going on in her head right now. I hate that she’s making absolutely no sense. This entire argument has come out of left field and I don’t know what to do with it. Except maybe prescribe some Xanax.
"Are you going to say something?" she asks.
"I don’t know what to say. I don’t know where this is coming from."
"My heart, Callie! You used to pay attention to it!"
She hangs up on me and I slump back on the couch, my head in my hands. "Fuck."
Mark leans forward and pats me on the arm. "Straight drama really isn’t so bad after all, huh?"
I’m still sitting there when the sun goes down.
Addison never shows up for Mark.
Erica never shows up for me.
I eventually lie down on the sofa, but I’m still wide awake when the sun comes up.
Riding to work in the passenger side of Mark’s car ... I finally cry.
He sits with me in the parking deck, saying nothing, until I can walk into the hospital. I go in with my head down.
And that’s how it will stay for most of the day.
Jasper didn’t speak to me for a week one time.
It was the beginning of the last ‘normal’ summer ... not long before the accident that would silence him without his permission. I had been home from college for less than two hours and my mother utilized every second of it to rake me over the coals for flooding the laundry room with my dirty clothes. Everything I brought home went straight to the laundry room, prompting Joel, Dad, and Jasper to make several trips back and forth between the cab and the washing machine. Infuriated, Mom yelled that she wasn’t doing it for me and that I needed to learn to be an adult. I got pissed and went to my room, slamming the door, and stayed there until dinner. The smell of bleach almost knocked me down when I met Jasper in the hallway. His clothing was doused with it and his blue shirt looked tye died in places. I knew what he was doing immediately.
My mostly black and Emo laundry.
I shoved him out of the way and went running to the laundry room where my fears were confirmed. Three loads of clothing had already been ruined and bleach burned my nostrils as I rushed forward to shut off the washing machine, which was bubbling with soap. I slid down on the wet tile, effectively discoloring my black shorts and shirt and when I came up, I was screaming every profanity under the sun. My mother came running and thought I had done it, but I made it very clear that Jasper, who was cowering in the corner, was the responsible ‘brat’.
He didn’t join us for dinner and my mother forced me to apologize to him, but he wouldn’t listen. He turned his back to me and flopped down on his bed, where he pulled the pillow over his head. For five long, silent days ... he didn’t speak to me at all. Not when I tried to give him ice cream. Not when I offered to drive him to the skate park. Not even when I bought him a new skateboard and asked him to teach me to skate. He didn’t talk at all until I sat down and watched a movie with him that made me cry. When he saw that I was upset, he left his spot on his favorite bean bag chair and sat on the sofa beside me, his head on my shoulder. Always ... Jasper smelled like home and freedom and it never felt like I was where I belonged until his familiar scent enveloped me. He always smelled like sea air and adventure ... like he’d been someplace in his imagination that was so real that it clung to him afterward. He apologized to *me* for being a brat ... even though he was anything but.
And I apologized to him for saying it ... and assured him it wasn’t true.
He looked up at me and said, "I hate it when you’re mad at me."
"You were mad at *me*," I corrected, ruffling his brown hair out of his eyes.
"There’s a difference in mad and sad. Even if it rhymes," he told me. "I was sad. You can’t think I’m a brat, Callie. That means that you don’t love me no more."
"Then you could never be a brat because I’m always going to love you more than anyone in the world."
"Even Dad." I grinned at him. "What? You don’t love me more than everybody else?"
He looked very solemn, his freckled face growing still and somber when he nodded. "I love you more than God. And that’s a whole lot because the whole Bible says we gotta love him most of all."
I remember how heavily that weighed on me. Jasper’s ten year old heart was mine and I had been careless with it. He loved me more than anyone deserved to be loved and I had let my temper squander it away. We sat on the couch for the entire day and some people would call that wasted time, but I didn’t think so at all. I was twenty years old and the best conversation I had all year took place right there ... listening to little boy half my age talk about love. And how much he felt it for me.
After he was injured and started to come back a little at a time ... I figured out that love was the medicine that brought him back. Even if it didn’t heal him all the way ... it was his strong, loving heart that kept pushing him to do what the doctors said was impossible. He came back to us as much as he could. But he was changed.
As I operate on an eight year old girl who fell out her tree house, I listen to the determination of her heart beat. The monitor is steady, strong, and decided. She’s going to live. She’s going to walk again, even though her leg was almost a total loss. I know that my heart is doing the same thing. It’s determined to keep beating even though I feel like there’s a knife stuck straight through it. Staying at Mark’s house was a bad idea. I should have gone home. I should have begged, pleaded, and cried until Erica tugged that knife out and threw it away. A simple smile from her would have stitched it just fine.
This fight, the past few hours ... it was an accident, too. And it has undoubtedly changed us both.
I’m scrubbing out of surgery when the door opens and Addison fastens her narrowed eyes on me. Her red hair is tucked under her plain blue scrub cap and she says, "You spent the night with Mark?"
"I spent the night on his sofa."
Her mouth falls open and she comes into the small scrub room, hands on her hips. "Why?"
"Because Erica is pissed at me."
"Then come to *my* place! Or, you know, go home and talk about it!"
I lean against the sink, massaging my forehead. "He waited for you to show up until ten thirty and then went to bed."
"I’m on my PERIOD, Addison, and in case you failed to notice ... I’m not interested in Mark."
"Yeah, I must’ve missed that memo."
"Not you, too!"
"What am I supposed to think!?"
"That we’re *friends*!"
"Whatever you say, Cal."
She storms out of the room, leaving me alone. The steady drip dripping of the leaky sink feels like a serrated blade against my brain and I leave before it kills me. Lunchtime finds me contemplating leaving the campus for something greasy and full of trans fat, then I remember that Erica has my car and therefore ... my keys. And she has my purse, which means that I have to rely on Cristina’s generosity for lunch since I gave Mark his cab fare back. I follow Yang to a table in the corner, picking at the sandwich she bought me. When Erica and Addison come in ... and sit together ... I give up trying to digest and throw my mostly untouched food away.
I paid out the house to become a doctor so that I’d never graduate high school with scalpels.
I pass all the subjects except Life ... which I fail at spectacularly. I suck at it.
I don’t see Erica again until after five that afternoon. My first day back at work was met with three surgeries and one combative man with fractures who called me every name in the book while I wrestled his bone back into place so I’m exhausted. She closes the chart she’s working on when she spots me at the end of the hall and starts to walk away, but stops and turns back toward me, looking expectant. Standing there, she waits for me to close the distance between us and I oblige her like a well trained monkey. It’s a ridiculous fault of mine ... to tuck my tail between my legs and go crawling back toward the source of my pain. I do it now because I’m drawn ... because the pleasure outweighs the pain on any day of the week. Even this one ... which has sucked enough to break me.
"Hi," she says heavily, her voice as distant as her eyes.
"Hi." I clench my hands into fists to keep from tucking a strand of her hair behind her ear. It’s a lock that always curls, always disobeys the power of the flat iron in favor of doing its own thing. And I’m always incapable of leaving it alone. "How was your first day back?"
"Is that a trick question?" she asks. "I lost a patient which nearly killed me, but I’d say it falls just this side of losing you ... which will. Kill me. Eventually."
My heart, the one with the knife still in it, lurches into my throat. "So that’s it? We’re done? Just like that?"
"You spent the night with Mark Sloan!"
"No ... I spent all night waiting for you to come and get me."
"There’s a difference?"
"Yeah, Erica, there is. I didn’t sleep at all. I stayed on the couch and every single time I heard someone in the hallway I held my breath ... hoping it was you."
"You spent the night with *Sloan*," she repeats it not as an accusation, but with hurt and sadness. "I cannot believe you did that. Especially after we fought about him."
"I cannot believe we had that fight at all." I shake my head, glancing around the thankfully deserted hallway. "I’m blind sided here. This came out of nowhere and I don’t understand it."
"Think really hard. I’m sure it’ll come to you."
"I’m drawing a blank."
"Are you? You don’t get why I’d be a little bit confused? Let’s start with sex. The other day ... you pulled me on top of you and asked me to use my hands on you. You bucked up against me like you were searching for something ... more ... than my hands, Callie. I couldn’t help but wonder who you were thinking about ... who you were trying to make me become."
I flash to the really amazing sex we had while my parents were at the Archfield collecting their things to stay with us. I asked her to use her fingers and she pulled my leg over her shoulder, doing just that. Her body was heavy against mine, her hips undulated hungrily against my own, pushing her fingers deeper into me, and I got off so hard it was scary for a split second. It was dirty, hard, and perfect ... but not for the reasons she thinks. "You want to know what I was thinking? I was thinking that I love being face to face with you. I love kissing you when you make love to me. I love being able to look at you when I come. And if I bucked up against you ... as you so eloquently put it ... it’s because my body reacts to you. All I think about ... is you. I’m so sorry that I lose what little bit of control I have when you touch me."
The angry mask on her face cracks a little. I know that she’s replaying the sex in her head the same way I just did. "Oh," she finally mumbles. "I - I thought - I assumed that you wanted ... that you needed ..."
"A penis? This is where I remind you that you keep offering to open my toy box and I keep saying no. If either one of us needs something more ... I’d say the evidence points to you. You’re the one who won’t leave it alone."
A couple of nurses walk past us and she looks away, watching them round the corner before she speaks again. "I don’t. Need anything else. I’ve told you that."
"And I’ve told you that, too."
"But you *did*. Before me." She pulls the chart around, crossing her arms over it against her chest. She holds it like a shield, like the pink plastic cover strengthens the armor that already radiates from her. "I don’t want to scratch another bi-curious itch. I just ... I can’t. Helen -"
"Why are you bringing her up!?"
"I was a little bit rattled when she showed up here with her boyfriend! Okay? I never knew he existed or that he was serving in Iraq while she was with me. Some women ... they pretend, they experiment. They tell you that they’re gay because it’s not ‘really cheating’ on their boyfriends," she makes air quotes around the words. "And then they make a mad dash for the next man who walks in the room. And your box of toys, your past, all the men before me ... it scares me. I can’t *compete* with that."
It’s the same thing she said the previous night. "No ... they can’t compete with *you*."
Her eyes fill with tears and she takes a step toward me. It feels like absolution is at hand, like she’s going to chase away the fear and uncertainty with a kiss and I’m ready for it, I need it. My pager goes off though and I wrench it from its holder, swearing when I see the message. "Trauma. I gotta go. Look ... I’m sorry."
I stand there for a little longer, waiting for her to say something ... hoping that she’ll be merciful and either put me out of my misery or give me hope ... but she turns and walks away, still hugging the chart against her chest.
Mercy is such an ugly fucking word.
I find my purse in my locker when I get ready to go home ... wherever that is.
I check every compartment in it for a note, but there’s nothing there. There’s nothing on my phone either and I sit down on the bench as the weight of it hits me. Erica and I are in serious trouble and I’m still so baffled, so floored and stunned by the turn of events that I can’t take it. Was it really just the day before yesterday that we celebrated the news of her test results? Just yesterday that she danced across the parking lot singing about loving me? How could that be the same person of last night and today? How could something so good ... turn so bad? Have I really been making her feel less than enough for me?
I get dressed and head down into the lobby. My keys were in the front pocket of my purse and I have no idea where she parked the Infiniti. I’m not in any hurry to find it, either, because the gas tank may be full ... but I have no idea which direction to point it in. I could crash on Cristina’s sofa tonight ... or stay in an on call room at the hospital ... or sleep in the car.
As the elevator slides to a stop on the ground floor, I make up my mind to go home. Letting the distance between us keep growing won’t do either one of us any good and I need Erica. Even if she’s going to be pissed at me or tell me to leave ... at least I tried.
I see her sitting in the waiting room with a magazine in her lap, but she’s not looking at it. She’s watching the elevator and when I step out ... she gets to her feet. I don’t know if I’m supposed to wait and see if she comes to me or if I should go and see if she follows. I feel like I’m an explorer in a new land, in uncharted territory, and nobody even gave me a fucking courtesy compass. I don’t have to decide what to do because a stretcher is wheeled in front of me which makes me stop and by the time the coast is clear, she’s standing in front of me and says, "Are you ready?"
"Are you coming home or not?"
"I - I guess that’s up to you."
"Let’s go," she says. She moves her purse from her left arm to her right, putting it between us. Her hand rests on the strap, making it clear that she’s not interested in holding my hand. Because she knows where the car is, I walk a few inches behind her, letting her lead. When we get there ... she goes to the passenger side and waits for me to unlock it. I oblige and walk around the vehicle, making sure that there’s no glass or nails under the tires. She’s watching me when I climb behind the steering wheel and I’m so nervous anticipating what she might say that I drop the keys into the floorboard. She puts her hand on my arm before I can retrieve them. "Cal?"
"We have to talk."
"I know that."
"I’m sorry. I know - I shouldn’t have ... and it doesn’t matter, but ... yesterday was the anniversary of my parent’s death. And when I woke up yesterday ... I told myself that it wasn’t going to bother me, but it did. All day long ... it bothered me and then the car was fucked up and Mark was there and ... I’m sorry."
Well, that’s the last thing I expected to hear and while it doesn’t pull the knife out ... it at least explains why it’s there. "I’m -"
She cuts me off. "Tomorrow is the day they were buried ... the day I chose not to go to the funeral. We didn’t have any other family so no one was there and ... and they hated to be alone. My mom ... she couldn’t stand silence. I - told myself I’d go home this year and take flowers, but I didn’t. Callie ... I’m sorry that I pushed you away ... I’m sorry that I made it about everything other than me ... because that’s what it is. I wanted to be alone last night so I ... made you leave. But ... but I can’t be alone tonight so ... please ... please come home. Please forgive me."
I watch her fall apart and I want to hug her, I want to pull her against me, but she keeps talking so I don’t move. I barely breathe because it’s so hard to understand her through her tears. "God, Cal, do you know what I thought? I really thought that if I had cancer ... it would be their way of punishing me. I thought the timing of it ... the fact that I’d probably get the results right around this time ... was their way of getting back at me. Or God’s way. Or something. I was prepared for it because I deserved it. I didn’t go back. I hated them for leaving me the way they did and it wasn’t even their fault." She doesn’t look at me when she grasps my hand. "It’s not you, baby. I know that you don’t want to be with Mark. I know that nothing happened. It’s me. And ... I’m so fucking sorry."
Pulling my hand from her grasp, I open the car door. She calls my name like a plea when I step out, but I don’t look back. Instead, I walk around to the passenger side and open her door. She practically leaps from the car and into my arms when I reach for her and I cling to her for dear life, rubbing her back as she sobs against my shoulder. It’s the same way she cried when she got the results back, but this time I cry with her because she’s shattered and the pieces of her have cut me. There’s no joy, no elation or the feeling that we won something because we both shredded our dignity by lashing out as hard as we did. Those shreds are gone forever and we’ll forgive each other, but never forget just how ugly it got. We had the kind of fight that bursts the comfortable bubble you carefully blow ... the one that’s shaped like a heart and everyone can see that you’re infallibly in love. We took it to an extreme that I thought we could never visit.
"It’s okay," I whisper, holding her a little tighter. "I’m sorry, too. For everything. I should have come home, Yellow."
"I should have come and got you."
"You’ve got me now." I ease back a little, drying her face. Her lips are still trembling when I press mine against them and I feel my own respond in kind.
She’s the one who deepens it, tilting her head and opening her mouth. She’s tangy, salty from her sorrow, but her tongue is sweet against mine. She’s always sweet. And like always ... I melt into her. I fall head over feet in love with her all over again ... no matter how much she hurts me. And when she presses her palms against my cheeks and her eyes search mine ... I believe her promise that it won’t happen again. And I mean it when I make the same assurance, when I guarantee her that hell will freeze over before I spend another night away from her.
We drive home in silence, but she clutches my hand hard enough to say a million things.
At home, I pour us both a glass of wine and try hard to put something decent together for dinner. She watches me from the island and finally takes pity on me, salvaging the baked chicken before I turn it into charcoal.
Despite our reconciliation, neither one of us smile or laugh that night. Not even Ruma and Feo can lift our spirits by trying repeatedly to invite themselves to dinner by leaping on the table. They finally give up after I yell at them for the millionth time. They each shoot us a dirty look as they stalk from the room with their heads and tails held high. I could make a million jokes about it, but I don’t say a word. She doesn’t either.
Erica is trembling when she climbs into bed beside me later on. The fact that she’s wearing pajamas that I’ve never seen before sends me the message that she’s not in the mood for me to try to apologize the right way ... so I simply cling to her and she lets me.
I don’t sleep much that night either.
The following morning, we get dressed in the same god forsaken silence that we ate dinner in. I don’t have to yell at the cats for anything, however, because they’re ignoring us. I’m mentally exhausted when we finally climb into the car for the ride to work, I turn the radio on some annoying morning show just to break the monotony. She suggests coffee and when I park at Starbucks, she takes my hand in hers and says, "I’m sorry."
"I don’t want to hear that you’re sorry. I want to hear that we’re going to get through this. That we’re going to be okay. That you ... that you didn’t mean anything you said, Erica, because you fucking killed me."
"We are going to get through this. We’re fine and I didn’t mean anything I said."
"It doesn’t count if I make you say it."
Confusion mars her features. "Then stop telling me what to say."
"Then say the right thing."
She lifts my hand and kisses it. "I’ll buy you one of those disgusting frappucinos if you’ll accept my apology."
"You’d have to also buy me a muffin and agree to McDonald’s for dinner. Any time I want it. With no complaints. Ever."
With what can only be described as physical pain on her part, she nods. "Whatever you say."
"Whatever I say? Anything?"
Her eyes narrow. "Within reason."
"No, I think we’re going to go with *anything* I say." I tilt my head to one side. "We’re coming back from Italy a few days early and you’re going to show me where you grew up. You’re going to show me where you went to school, which playgrounds you liked, and then we’re taking flowers to your parent’s grave so that we can say goodbye to them together. Understand?"
The only sound in the car is the sound of her swallowing. "I didn’t have playgrounds growing up, Cal."
In that moment ... I completely and totally forgive her for everything. Reaching out, I take her hand in mine and say, "Then we’ll make our own, Yellow."
She squeezes my hand and nods. "Yeah, we will."
And there’s mercy in *that*.
Not sleeping for over forty eight hours will make you feel, look, and act like a zombie. Karev snaps his fingers in front of my face twice before lunch to ask me about a patient’s medication and I realize that what I’ve ordered for my charge could have been a fatal cocktail. I quickly scratch it out, changing the formula entirely, and head to the on call room for a nap. I open the door of my favorite one, which is pretty secluded and on the fourth floor, only to be yelled at by George, who quickly apologizes, but tells me that he’s been on call for over thirty hours and nothing short of death should disturb him. I apologize and leave him there, opting for the third floor on call room that is far more noisy, but has a more comfortable bed. I’m asleep before my head hits the pillow and when I wake up, the sun is going down.
I grapple for my pager and check the time, gasping when I see that I slept through two traumas and a code. My pager, as it turns out, has been silenced and I know for a fact that I checked it before I dozed. I sit up fast enough to bump my head on the bunk bed and groan. A face appears over the side and I groan again when I see Savoy looking at me. "Well hello there, Sleepy Beauty. I was wondering if you had died down there."
"It’s a free country. As you well know. People like you come here for a free ride all the time, don’t you?"
"People like me?"
He simply smiles at me.
I pick up my shoes and tug them on. When I start to stand, however, he clears his throat and hops off the top bunk in front of me. He’s so close that he brushes against me, causing me to stumble back to avoid being hit. He closes the distance between us, gazing down at my chest. My scrub shirt has twisted a little, revealing too much skin and I tug at it. "Get out of the way, Savoy."
"I have a few things to say to you about the M&M."
"Oh yeah? Put it in a Hallmark card and then slide it up your ass."
The back of my legs hit the bed, but I don’t sit down. I hold my ground and he moves toe to toe with me. He’s so close that I can count the pores on his nose. "What the fuck are you doing?"
"Well, for a while I was watching you sleep. Then I spent a little longer listening to you talk, but you didn’t say anything interesting."
I start to move around him, to reach for the door, but he stops me. "Get out of my way!"
"What’s your rush?" He gives me a coy smile and reaches up to touch my hair, but I bat his hand away before he can. "Aw, come on. You used to like it."
"That is what I’m suggesting. You need a man, Torres. A real man."
He reaches up again and I see bandages on his fingers. He’s left handed and three of his fingers and his thumb are wrapped in gauze and tape. I can see that the fleshy part of his hand is also cut and it looks pretty deep. It’s the kind of wound we see in knife fights, when someone’s hand slips on the handle and slides over the blade. He’s sees me looking and drops his arm, putting his hand behind his back. I’ve seen enough, however. The abacus in my head adds two and two together and I gasp. "You - did you cut Erica’s tires!? Did you!?"
His entire demeanor changes and he leans close to me, like he’s sharing a secret that no one else can over hear ... even though we’re alone. "What if I did?"
His words lick against my skin like the forks on a snake’s tongue. I shove him away and for a second, I’m too flabbergasted to speak at all. I finally locate my voice and say, "You did!"
"You’re cut!" I tell him, gesturing at his hand.
"It’s a *hunting* accident," he replies. When he speaks again ... I feel like I’ve been splashed with ice water. "Funny thing about deer ... they have really, really thick skin. You have to really work to clean them out."
It’s all the confirmation I need and the newfound knowledge makes me lunge for the door. He catches me around the waist and tries to hang onto me, but I sink my elbow into his gut and he lets out a loud ‘oooomph’. I feel his hands on the back of my shirt and put on a burst of speed, but it’s too late. He gets a grip and yanks, nearly making me miss the doorknob, but not quite. "I want to talk to you!" he growls. "Come back here!"
I pull the door open as he rips my shirt. The sound of fabric tearing causes several people to look our way as I tumble into the hallway. I land on my knees as my scrub shirt gives way and every eye falls on him, looking scandalized. Of all the people present ... the last one I expect to do anything actually rushes forward. Izzie Stevens pulls me to my feet and says, "Are you okay?"
Before I can reply, however, Erica (who I hadn’t noticed at all) rushes past me and plants her foot in Savoy’s crotch. It lands with a sickening, ball crushing, pop and I cover my mouth with both hands with he screams and falls forward. I grab her before she can do any further damage and she turns, trying to assess whether or not I’ve been damaged in any way. I feel Izzie’s hands on my back, holding the two flaps of my shirt closed and glance at her. There are tears soaking her face when her eyes meet mine. "Call the police, Callie. Enough is enough."
"You - you f-fucking bitch," Savoy says, still rolling around the floor. "You burn me and you’ll get burned!"
Erica shoves Izzie away from me and takes off her white jacket, draping it over my shoulders. "Did he hurt you?"
"No." I glare down at Savoy, who is trying to untie his scrub pants in what I assume is an effort to see if Erica unmanned him. "He couldn’t ... even if he tried."
For the record, Miranda Bailey may be a bigger badass than Erica Hahn. She uses the power of her steely death gaze to make the crowd in the hallway disappear when Savoy’s hand goes into his pants and he gropes himself, screaming that he needs help. I look away and watch as people hightail it out of dodge. Izzie stays behind and Bailey holds out her cell phone, telling her to call the police. Izzie is so conflicted by this that her beautiful face contorts and she bursts into ugly, harsh sobs as she opens Miranda’s out of date phone and makes the call. Hospital security arrives at the same time Addison does and she takes one look at me, one look at Savoy, and attempts to channel my mother and kick him, but Bailey stops her. Mort, the head of security, shuts Savoy into the on call room and leans against the closed door while we wait for the police.
I tell Erica and Addison what transpired and Addison glares at the door like she can melt it with the power of her mind. "He’s right ... you don’t have any proof."
"He confessed," Erica tells her.
"That’s hearsay." I shake my head, pulling her coat a little tighter around me and the smell of lilacs settles my nerves so much it’s like a tranquilizer. "It’s his word against mine."
"And mine." Izzie is still lingering, still holding Miranda’s phone. I watch her shift back and forth uncomfortably and hold my breath, waiting for the confession. "I was ... with him ... when he messed up your car. When ... we ... messed up your car. I broke your window, but he - he did the rest. I was mad about the fight you and I had and he offered to drive me home ... and your car was there. I didn’t help him put the deer up on your porch. though. I swear to God, I didn’t. He told me about it. He - he had gone hunting with his brothers and he said that they ... they were bored and ... they thought it was funny. Messing with gay people, I mean."
"Did you?" I ask. "Did you get another good laugh at my expense?"
"No," she replies. "I didn’t. I told him to leave you alone."
I snort. "Yeah, right. I’m sure you did."
"If you weren’t pregnant," Addison tells her, "I’d give you a hysterectomy with my bare hands right now, Stevens."
Miranda carefully puts herself between us and Izzie. By the time the Chief arrives, answering the summons from Miranda, Izzie is sitting quietly behind the nurse’s station. Bailey starts to enlighten him, but the police show up and we go into the conference room, where I make the statement myself. Erica leaves for a few minutes, to retrieve the two earlier police reports from her briefcase, but then she’s beside me again and for a second, I can forget that anything happened between us. I don’t think about the pink elephant in our relationship at all. I think about how her hand feels on mine under the table. It feels so good that I lift it so that there’s no mistaking it for anyone in the room and rest it on the table. She gives me a smile and tightens her grip and once again ... it’s us against the world.
And we’re winning.
The blinds are open so I watch Izzie go with the officer from the day before and her eyes lock on mine as she’s led from the hospital. A moment later, another officer escorts Savoy past the window. He’s in handcuffs and when he sees us, he yells that we’re fucking dykes and that we should go to hell. I see a foot dart out in the hallway, tripping him. The officer pretends to be engrossed in his notepad, pretends that he didn’t see it, and then Savoy’s being wrenched to his feet and his nose is pouring blood. I hear the bastard beg for medical attention and Webber tells the officer to take him to Mercy West. I can still hear Savoy screaming his displeasure and threatening a lawsuit when the elevator doors slide closed on his tirade.
When Mark steps into the conference room and points down at his shoe, I have to grin. He shrugs innocently and says, "He fell over me. I don’t know how that happened. I heard his nose break when he hit the floor, though. I guess the added pressure on his back was a bitch."
"Added pressure?" Addison asks.
Mark holds up both hands and shoves, then puts a finger over his lips and says, "Shhh."
Erica laughs beside me ... and it feels like the first time I’ve heard it in years. "Thank you," she tells him.
He comes in and sits down beside Addison as I sign my name on the official statement. The officer leaves us finally and Webber walks him out. With Addison and Mark on one side of the table and me and Erica on the other side ... I shoot Bailey a look and she puts her hands on her hips, pointing at us. "Something is going on with you fools and I know it! So, Mort’s going to stand outside the door until you four idiots figure out what’s wrong. And you better do it or I’ll bust a nut. Oh ... yes I will."
She leaves us there and true to her word, she puts Mort in front of the door.
Mark clears his throat and says, "I’d just like to point out that I’m the only one in this room with a nut to bust so ... let’s resolve this thing."
"I’ll go first." Erica rests her free hand under her chin, propping it up with her elbow. "Mark, I owe you an apology for accusing you of being the vandal. I knew better."
"I accept your apology and would like to tell you that I’m also very sorry for lying to you about the relationship between Callie and Addison a while back. They were never lovers and I never got to watch. Unless you count my fantasies ... which just the other night -"
Addison slaps him, hard, on the back of the head and growls, "I’m not sorry for *that*."
"Ow, Addison! I thought people went to California to get their gentle hippy on. You came back all abusive and shit."
"Someone needs to take care of you with a firm hand!"
He arches a brow. "There’s a particular part of me that enjoys a firm hand."
"Oh, you want me to slap your cock and balls the way I want to slap your face?"
Mark flips her a bird and looks at me. "You and me are fine, Callie. Me and Erica are fine. Addison may never be fine ... does anyone else want to say something?"
"I do." Addison pulls her shoulders back addresses me. "Something happened between me and you the night we worked on Jamie Carr and her baby. Now, I’ve heard of friendships starting in stressful situations before ... but I never realized what kind of bond you take from that. I knew I loved you, Callie, when you put your hand on my shoulder and you were crying ... not for the baby ... but for me. Because it was so hard on me. You’ve gotten me through hard times, ugly days, and made me laugh when I didn’t think I could. Those are the kinds of friends you forgive and those are the kind of friends that you don’t mind stepping in to try the guy you cast aside on for size. I have to stop being mad at you for being what I was unwilling to be for Mark. It’s my fault that he was even in a place to fall in love with you and I can’t hold it against you. Because I should thank you for taking such good care of him." Her eyes move toward Mark. "And I’d also like to say that when he’s ready, when he wants to move on ... with someone ... I’m here. And I want to meet the guy that loved you as much as I do because I think I’d like that guy and could take care of HIM for a while."
And just like that ... they need a room.
My jaw drops open when they meet each other across the arm of the chair in a flurry of tongues, teeth and hands in inappropriate places. They don’t even notice when Erica and I excuse ourselves and creep out of the conference room, leaving them to their own devices.
"Are you okay?" Erica asks as we climb the stairwell to the roof.
We step into the warm, golden glow of the sunset and she takes my hand as we walk toward the rail. "All this time ... it’s been Savoy. I even scrubbed in with him a few days ago and he’s the ... asshole ... who’s been tormenting us. I just ... I’m shocked."
I shake my head. "I’m not. People are a constant source of disappointment."
She nudges me with her shoulder. "Are you talking about me?"
"No," I reply honestly. "You could never disappoint me."
"I think I did."
"There’s a huge difference between disappointing someone and pissing them off. You pissed me off."
"Well, you got me back."
She catches a lock of my hair that the wind is trying to twist and pushes it behind my ear. "I was pretty pissed, too."
"You’re not now?"
"No, Erica. I’m not."
"I’m not either."
When she kisses me ... I know she’s telling the truth. I can feel it in the way she touches me, the way she caresses my face like she’s cradling something invaluable. I smile when she pulls away and say, "It sucks that I’m on my period because I could think of a thousand better things to be doing."
"I got mine, too." She makes a face, wrinkling her nose. "We’re doomed to have PMS together. Maybe one of us should get a time share for a few days a month because if *this* go around is any indication -"
I swat her on the hip. "You ... are stuck with me. Even if we’re BOTH hormonal."
"We may kill each other," she advises with a warning lilt to her voice. "I’m just sayin’."
"What a way to go."
So, please leave feedback and let me know you're still reading. I'm recovering from surgery and I'm sure it'll make me happy. :) :)