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.
All my love, Ange, you rock. :)
Erica comes into the room as Jasper is telling me all about the plane ride. He got to watch a movie and the pilot came out and talked to him. When he sees Yellow, he pats the bed and hops up and down in anticipation for her to join us. The movement makes me cringe and I moan pitifully as a muscle spasm tears through my back. Capital punishment doesn't seem to be a deterrent for crime, but I bet forcing someone to stand in one spot for thirteen hours and work with their hands probably would be. I ache in places that I couldn't name and when I push myself up in the bed I can tell that my ankles are swollen. Crocs? Only comfortable when you *walk* in them. Erica gives Jazz a kiss on the head and asks him to go get a bottle of water from the fridge.
Happy to have something to do, he bounds off the bed which causes it to shake even more. When he leaves the room, Erica locks the door and slides the cover off me. I'm naked except for my underwear and she grins, snapping the waist band of my panties before holding out her hand. When I'm on my feet, she gently hugs me and says, "Hot bath?"
"Definitely," I tell her, my hands on her hips. "Are my parents here?"
"They went into town to pick up something for dinner."
"Dinner?" I glance at the clock, stunned to see that it's after four in the afternoon. "Holy shit. I slept like the dead. I am so sorry that I left you to deal with my family."
"I really don't mind. Your mother spent most of the day fawning over the photos from our trip. It's a good thing we had a second set of copies because she begged for most of them." She smiles at me. "You're cute with bed hair."
I move to the right a little so I can see the mirror and make a face. My hair is sticking straight up like a mohawk in the front and is flat on either side like a mullet. "Oh dear god. I need to go back to bed."
"Your mother is determined to cook fried chicken and homemade peach cobbler. Are you *sure* you want to go back to bed?"
"Ooooh. I'm not tired at all." I turn the collar down on her shirt and add, "I'm sorry that I fell asleep last night. I had such big plans."
"Baby, you can barely move." She lifts my hand, looking at my swollen wrist. Holding a heavy drill? Not fun. "I know how I feel after ten hours working with just a scalpel. I'll call Webber and ask him to phone in something to relieve the fluid and -"
"Vicodin and a muscle relaxer," I suggest.
She studies my face. "Is it really that bad?"
"The only reason I'm standing upright and have not curled into a fetal position is because I don't want to illustrate how weak I am while you're watching." I shake my head. "My threshold for pain? Nonexistent."
"And yet ... you want to have a baby."
"Epidural, for the win. Ooooh, call Addison and see if she can give me one of those today."
Erica gets a dirty twinkle in her eye. "Are you *sure* you don't want to feel anything from the waist down? Because *I* have such big plans for tonight."
Jasper knocks on the door before I can answer and I head into the bathroom as quickly as I can. Bending to turn on the water makes me want to drown. I really, truly need to take an occasional break when I operate. More than five minutes, anyway. I brush my teeth, don't even try to brush my hair before I wash it, and then settle into water hot enough to boil my flesh from my bones. It helps almost immediately and I'm pretty much pain free when Erica comes in. She stares down at me in an appreciative, lustful way that makes my inner thighs start to tremble. I glance down at my own body, trying to see it through her eyes.
I'm not as dark as Jasper, but my skin is definitely cinnamon against the stark white tub. My stomach isn't entirely flat, but it's soft and inviting. My hips are curved and flare out in decent proportion to my legs and my breasts are standing up with pride, topped with mocha colored nipples that aren't too big or too small. I actually like my breasts. I like them so much that I lift my hands and cover them, tweaking slightly so that my nipples stand up at attention for her. I watch her pink tongue slip between her lips as she watches me and I know that she's imagining closing her mouth over one, then the other. She's holding the phone so tightly that her knuckles are white and I smirk at her to make sure she knows that I know exactly what I'm doing to her.
When her gaze moves down my body, I follow it with one hand. I trail a finger over the scar on my abdomen and then skim lightly over my sex and I watch her stop breathing. She's sucking on her bottom lip now. I part my legs a little ... just a little ... and ... the phone rings.
It startles her so much that she drops it in the floor.
I chuckle as she answers it and gives my father directions to the pharmacy we use.
I don't have the heart to tell her that I am feeling *no* pain at the moment and she really didn't have to ask for any meds. When she hangs up, I say, "Where's Jasper?"
Her face is a little red and she clears her throat. "He, uh, wanted to watch a movie on Disney. Something about a dog that plays basketball."
"He'll be occupied for a while," I tell her and push myself up into a sitting position. "Could you wash my back?"
She sets the phone down on the counter with such haste that she knocks over the container we keep our toothbrushes in. I listen to her swear, trying hard not to laugh at her. I'm pretty sure that if I stuck my hand down her pants right now ... I would find that she's just as wet as I am. I haven't soaped the loofah so she does it herself, covering it with my cherry blossom soap and then working it into a lather. She doesn't move to my back, though. Instead, she takes my hand in hers and soaps it, then my arm. I should have learned never to tease the master because she washes every place *except* where I want her to touch. She soaps my throat, the valley between my breasts, my ribs and my stomach, but never once touches the painfully hard peaks that I worked into a frenzy myself. I grit my teeth when she reaches into the water, lifts my leg, and soaps my foot and leg. It takes all of my resolve not to laugh because I'm *that* ticklish. She repeats the process on the other leg and then scrubs my back until I'm groaning with pleasure.
"You missed a few spots," I tell her when she drops the loofah into the water and I fear that she's finished.
"Yes, I know." She pours body wash into her palms and rubs them together. "Those few spots deserve a hands on approach, I think."
Oh god. Her soapy hands move over my breasts, sliding and gliding and teasing, causing me to gasp. She rolls, kneads, and tweaks until my back is arching and I'm squirming enough to splash her. When she slides her fingers between my legs ... I stop moving entirely. She keeps her eyes on mine as she 'washes' me ... if you can call it that. She knows exactly what she's doing and my body is more than willing to respond to every caress, every stroke, every movement. I get off so fast that it takes my breath and it definitely takes hers because I sit up and pull her into the tub with me.
"Calliope Torres! I just bought these pants!"
I silence her with a kiss as I fumble with the buttons of her new slacks. When I finally get them down over her hips I urge her to stand up and I yank them down over her feet, which are thankfully bare. Her shirt comes off next, then her bra and when she's lying naked on top of me ... I'm finally satisfied. But she's not. She dunks my head under the water, trying to repay me and I retaliate by slipping two fingers into her. She pulls me back up and kisses me, hungrily, deeply. Her legs move to either side of mine and she sits up, bracing her hands on the sides of the tub as she rises and falls on my fingers. I enjoy the show, watching her breasts bounce and her hips undulate. Her hair is down, spilling over her shoulders and I can smell her shampoo every time she surges against me. This is *exactly* how we made love for the first time in my bed in Miami and it takes me back, it takes me forward, it takes me upside down and inside out.
I sit up to capture one of her nipples, but she doesn't let me. She grabs my head, kissing me again and I moan as her tongue moves against mine. Shifting my hand a little, I press my thumb against her clit and massage in a circle. She increases her momentum, nearly frenzied when she releases my face and tosses her head back. I seize the opportunity and latch onto her breast, sucking and nipping at her until she cries out my name. Her nails bite into my back when she comes and I can feel her inner walls grasping and shivering. She buries her face in the crook of my neck and wraps her arms around me. I do the same, clinging to her.
You really can catch forever, you know, you can hold it and smell it and let it carry you away.
We eventually come down and she shifts a little wrapping her legs around me and reaching for the shampoo. She soaps my hair, scrubbing with her nails and making my skin dot with cold chills. She kisses me when my hair is piled on top of my head in a bubbly mess and gets to her feet. "Where are you going?" I ask, reaching up to rub her backside. "I wasn't finished."
She steps out of the tub and blots at her skin with a towel. "Look at what you did to me. I'm soaked -"
"Yeah, I felt that."
"Callie!" Pointing her finger at me she attempts to look stern, but fails beautifully. A smile breaks across her face and she says, "You should be ashamed. Your parents will be back here anytime and your brother -"
I jump suddenly and grab my side, hissing. Out of the corner of my eye, I watch the towel fall from her hands and then she's within arms reach, asking me if I'm okay.
She shouldn't have fallen for it.
When I tug her into the tub this time ... her head goes under and she comes up sputtering.
"Oops," I say as sweetly as I can. "These damn muscle spasms are -"
"I'm going to KILL you!" Erica pushes her hair out of her face. Her eyes meet mine, then move over my chest. "You know ... after you get me off again."
She doesn't kill me.
To thank her for sparing my life ... I get her off *twice*.
I'm not nearly as sore as I was. Did you know that orgasms release natural pain relievers in your body? I think I read it somewhere and I'm living proof that it's true. I dress in a comfortable pair of cotton pants and a matching shirt before pulling a comb through my hair. Erica is standing at the sink in a towel and I guess she realizes that I'm about to give into the temptation to pull it off because she shakes her head and gestures toward the door, making me leave. I'm forced to dry my hair in our bedroom and I can hear that she's doing the same in the bathroom. I slather my lips with gloss and line my eyes to try to mask some of the exhaustion that's still evident on my face. I finally fluff my hair, making sure the curls I inherited from my dad are hanging just so and then I slip a pair of socks on so that my mother won't see how swollen my ankles are.
Erica comes out as I'm sliding earrings in and she looks me over head to toe. She's wearing her robe since she had no clothing in the bathroom and I watch it fall open as she opens the underwear drawer and rifles inside. She picks blue panties. I fucking KNEW she was going to. This is a new kind of torment for me. I'm mesmerized when she slides them on and step forward to tug them right back off, but the security system beeps to alert us that my parents have arrived. She shoots me a playful look and turns so that I get the full effect of the thong. My mouth goes dry and I can barely stand it. I throw a pair of yoga pants at her and hit her in the head with one of my shirts, watching her dress. It's *awful* to watch someone who was meant to be naked put clothes on. It's painful. Now I need a morphine drip.
My mom is coming in the front door when I step into the living room. She brightens when she sees me and I do a double take. She's lost weight. She's lost a LOT of weight. Her hair is not teased into a crazy hive, either. It's tamed down into a cute bob and she puts the grocery bags in her hands down in the foyer so she can hug me. "You look incredible," I tell her. "God, you're gorgeous!"
"Your daddy talked me into trying the elliptical machine. And I like it." She cups my face, stroking it with her thumb. "You just keep gettin' prettier, angel. How do you feel? Erica told us about that surgery yesterday. I'm proud of you."
I give her a kiss on the forehead. There's something about mothers ... even when your relationship is volatile at times ... their voice, their love ... it makes you feel like a kid again. "I'm okay. Sore. Tired."
"OH!" She lets me go and bends down, holding out a pharmacy bag. "Addison to the rescue. She phoned in a couple of prescriptions for you, honey. Are you having muscle spasms?"
"I am." I accept the bag and glance at the labels. Addison is apparently trying to apologize for knocking me out ... by knocking me out again. I have to smile. Erica will kick her ass when she finds out that she's given me such strong stuff. It's overkill. I technically could have survived with a Tylenol, but who am I to pass up total relaxation?
Erica comes down the stairs with a laundry basket and smiles innocently at my mother, then at me as she opens the door to the basement. I hear her gasp and turn in time to see her drop the basket. "Jasper!" she cries. "What in the -"
My brother walks into the living room from the basement and I'm sure he's looking guilty underneath the mess that covers him head to toe. Apparently he has found the gigantic tub of Neapolitan ice cream that we keep in the large freezer chest in the laundry room. Buddha is lapping at the rivulets of white, pink, and brown that are running down his legs, then the dog notices Erica and bites her on the foot. Jazz hides his hands behind his back like that's the only guilty part of him. It looks like he put his entire head in the bucket and when Buddha bites Erica again he leans down and picks up his dog. "Bad, Booty! You no bite! No mo i cream!"
"JAZZY!"" Mom cries, scandalized. "What have you done!?"
He looks like she just asked the dumbest question ever. "I eated." My dad opens the door behind Mom and Jasper cuts his eyes over at him. "Uh oh!"
"Uh oh is right, Jasper!" I tell him. "That was very bad!"
"I not bad!" He shakes his head emphatically, making melted ice cream pelt Erica. "I hongry. Gotta eat!"
"Where were you!?" Mom demands, looking at me. "Callie!? Why weren't you watching him?!"
"I had to take a bath," I reply. "I'm *sore*. I had to *soak*."
"Of course you did and I was born yesterday!" Mom turns her angry eyes on Erica, looking her up and down. "Why have you changed clothes, Erica? Did you need a bath, too?"
Erica looks like a deer in headlights. "I need to go ... do ... laundry."
"I help warsh!" Jasper bellows. "Dirty! I dirty!"
He licks his fingers as Erica moves around him and descends into the basement. I catch him before he can follow her. "Oh no you don't! Come on, buddy. I'll give you a bath."
"You obviously can't even bathe *yourself* without help!" Mom growls. She scoops up the bags she put down in order to hug me and huffs past me into the kitchen. "Leaving him unattended to do who knows what. Shame on you! Shame!"
I look at my father, feeling helpless and busted and incredibly embarrassed. "Hey, Dad."
He pulls me into his free arm and gives me a kiss. "Hi, sweetheart. It's good to see you. I missed you so much."
"Stop coddling her!" Mom shouts from the kitchen. "She's just as perverted as you are."
"Eww! My ears!" I step away from him and reach out, offering to take one of the bags. He gasps and cradles my hand in his, his thumb moving over my engagement ring and band. I know it makes me look like I'm already married, but I don't have the heart to just wear the diamond. The eternity band means so much to me ... and Erica wears hers. "Yes, Daddy, that's an invitation for you to give me away."
"I know," he tells me, smiling. "Erica actually called me before you left for Italy and did it the proper way. Your mother, however, has no clue."
"Erica called you?" I don't know why that touches me so much, but it does. The more I get to know Erica Hahn the more she surprises me. She's such a freakin' traditionalist. I can just imagine her fumbling for the words, trying to convey what she wanted from my Dad. "Well, I asked her first so ... I win."
"You didn't!" Dad laughs now, pulling me into his arms. "Well, that certainly explains why this trip to Italy wound up costing so damn much. Did you get her a ring as nice as this one?"
"I got her a Rolex."
"Oh ... for heaven's sake! I thought you were the romantic type, Calliope!" he chastises. "A *watch*!?"
"Why is everyone so scandalized by that!? I asked her for *time*. As in *forever*." I growl. "SHE liked it!"
"Yes, she did," Erica says, closing the basement door. She's smiling when she joins us and proudly holds out her wrist so that my dad can see the watch. He cradles her arm the same way he did my hand, then kisses her on the forehead. Erica grins at him and says, "And don't worry, Santos, she's got the romance thing down pat."
"Well, let me be the first to welcome you to the family and I'll warn you yet again that Latin lovers never, ever give back the hearts that they take." He winks at her. "I'm happy for you both."
"Why are you happy?" Mom asks, stalking back into the room with Jasper on her heels. She has washed his face and hands, but he'll definitely need a bath. His longer hair is standing on end and I'm pretty sure he has chocolate in his ear. "Well?"
I can't say anything. I just ... can't. Because if Mom is rude about it, if she hurts Erica's feelings ... I'll have to ask her to leave. And I really don't want her to go anywhere because I'm so damn *glad* she's here. Erica is apparently suffering the same dilemma I am because she stares down at the floor like it's the most interesting thing she's ever seen. Fuck it. I'm not going to let Erica be intimidated or *ashamed* or worried about it. I clear my throat and say, "Erica and I are getting married."
"Wh- what?" Mom's eyebrows vanish behind her neatly trimmed bangs. Her gaze darts to Erica, then at my father, then back to me. "My ... goodness. I -"
"Lori Ann." My dad has a way of saying her name in a way that expresses everything she better *not* say. "Why don't you ask to see Callie's ring?"
I watch Mom swallow whatever is on the tip of her tongue and then she smiles. Because I know her, I know that it's the fake pageant smile that doesn't mean jack shit. She motions for my hand and gasps when she sees the diamond there. "This is beautiful! Erica, you certainly chose a lovely cut."
"Thank you," Erica tells her and I hear her let out the breath she was holding. "I spent weeks trying to figure out whether it should be round or square or ... I don't know anything about jewelry."
"Ooooooooh!" Jazz leans down low, looking at my ring. "YELLOW! I LIKE YELLOW!"
"I like Yellow, too." I grin at Erica when I say it and I know that she knows I'm talking about so much more than the color.
"This - uh - congratulations." Mom kisses me, then hugs Erica. "I - well ... I should give Jasper a bath because -"
"I'll do it," Dad says. "You go ahead and start dinner. Jazz is apparently hungry."
"Let me show you where the towels are," Erica tells him.
She doesn't need to show him anything, but she wants to give me time alone with Mom. I follow my mother into the kitchen and start unpacking the groceries. All of my favorite foods are inside and my mouth starts watering just thinking about the crunchy fried chicken and flaky cobbler that I'll be smelling soon. I don't say anything as I take the colander from the cabinet and put it in the sink, then I take down a couple of pans from the rack that my mother couldn't reach on her best day. "You really need to teach me how to fry chicken like you, Mom. I know you've tried in the past, but I'm ready to learn now and -"
"How are you planning to marry her?" she asks and I don't have to look at her to know that she's crying. "It's not even legal. And it won't make a difference, honey. It won't be recognized or acknowledged."
"We'll know. We'll acknowledge it." I put a frying pan on the stove and pick up the vegetable oil. "We have the same right as anyone else to stand up in front of our friends and family and -"
"You didn't even see fit to stand up in front of friends and family when you *eloped* with a perfect stranger!"
"Well, I'm going to rectify that now. I want everyone there. I want Dad to walk me down the aisle and I want you to help me with my hair and my dress and ... I want you to plan a big, stuffy reception and hire a band that I'll hate. I want to stress about the menu and figure out what Addison and Cristina need to wear to completely humiliate them both and -"
"And then it's over and you have nothing to show for it."
"I'll have the rest of my life to show for it. And that's better than any law or piece of paper."
"This is what you want? For the rest of your life?"
"Yeah, Mom. And even then ... it's not long enough. If I live to be a hundred ... it still won't be long enough. This isn't a phase. It's not some experimental thing that I'm going to grow out of. It's me." I reach out and take her hand. It's so much smaller than mine and there are age spots on the back of it. "I know that you have this picture in your head of what you wanted for me, but if you could just *see* us ... it would more than make up for what you think I'm missing out on. She *loves* me. And I love her in a way that I never knew I could love another human being."
"Oh, baby, I just worry and -"
"You don't have to worry," I tell her, keeping my voice as gentle as I can.
"Well, I do," she snaps, turning away from me. "What kind of mother would I be if I didn't worry?"
I watch her fill the frying pan with oil and snatch up a bowl, sifting flour into it. She seasons it with pepper, salt, and garlic powder. "Mom, do you ever wonder what our lives would have been like if your parents had accepted Dad? Christmases would have been different. Our birthdays would have been different. I don't want Erica to be my *only* family the way Dad had to become yours. I want her to be a part of *ours*."
Mom picks up a spoon, but she doesn't begin mixing the breading. Instead, she stares at something just past me and I turn to see that Erica has walked into the kitchen. I have to wonder how much she overheard because her face is a little red and she looks nervous. It's only a few seconds of silence, but I feel it stretch out so far that I have time to contemplate faking a muscle spasm or *something* in order to shatter it. "Erica?" Mom finally says, holding out the spoon. "I've tried to teach my hopeless daughter how to fry chicken and I've given up hope. How would you like to learn? Someone in the Torres' family should carry my torch."
"I - I'd love to." Erica sounds as amazed as I feel. I watch with wide eyed wonder as she joins Mom at the island and learns all the secrets of fried chicken that is so good it will curl your toes.
Part of me wants to believe that this is the real thing. Mom has FINALLY accepted us.
But I've been devastated in the past by believing in her.
So, I'm guarded, but I'm also happy enough to join in ... even though it's a lost cause on my part.
When I walk into the hospital the following day for Jasper's pre-op exam, I feel like I'm floating on top of the world. Not only did Erica and I get around to mind blowing make up sex the previous night, my mother has not said or done anything remotely hurtful to either of us. Jasper is also in a good mood, despite the fact that we have been withholding food or water from him since he woke up. There are a few blood tests he'll be undergoing that require an empty belly. He keeps randomly announcing that he wants juice, but I keep explaining why he can't have any. He seems excited about seeing Derek and when he spots him on the breezeway, he calls up a greeting from the lobby. Derek waves down at us, laughing at Jasper's enthusiasm and meets us in the elevator.
The things that happen next are so fast ... that I can barely breathe.
Derek tells us that he had a surgery cancel and he's willing to put a rush on the blood tests and paperwork in order to perform surgery on Jasper *today*. I think maybe I convinced myself that we'd have a few more days, possibly even a week or so, before the surgery could actually be performed. If I had known it would have been possible for today ... I would have done more with Jasper last night than watch television. I would have taken a walk with him and pointed out the stars or maybe ... maybe I would have gone to the video place and rented 'Wizard of Oz'. I didn't do *anything* with him that mattered. And I didn't ask God for any special favors when I kneeled down next to the bed with Jazz and led him in prayer. I didn't do ANYTHING that I could have ... if I had known.
I don't even know how the decision is made because I don't remember what I said when my Dad asked for my opinion, but whatever it was ... it must have been something positive. Because my parents agree to go through with it *today*. We're taken to a private room where Erica takes Jasper's blood because he doesn't seem to want Meredith Grey to do it. He actually pushes Meredith away very gently and tells her 'no, thank you'. Erica coaxes him until he lets her stick him and when she asks if it hurt, he tells her yes and not to ever do it again.
I stand on the outside, literally feeling like I'm floating in and out of consciousness as I watch him. He likes the skid proof socks that he's given and thinks the gown is intriguing with its shoulder snaps. He's so easily amused and blessedly clueless about what's coming. It's not like it was with Emma. We had to lie to her so that she wouldn't be scared. And my mother keeps telling Jasper the truth, that he's going to have surgery, and he doesn't know how to be scared. I don't even know if he understands what surgery is. Or that he could go away and never come back. He's just happy to be. He sits quietly on the bed gazing at the curtains, the television, and intently rubs the skid proof bottom of his sock.
Mom announces that she needs coffee and my dad escorts her to the cafeteria. Erica sits down in the ugly mauve chair against the wall and I take a seat beside Jazz, facing him. He grins at me and unsnaps his gown, giggling when I snap it back. He stops laughing when I don't join him and touches my chin. "Wrong, Lee?"
"Lie. You no lie Jazz."
I reach out and take his large hand in mine. A few days before the boat crashed, he put his ten year old palm against mine and told me that he wished he was my big brother. He wanted to be older than me so he could take care of me. Those were his exact words. He said that Joel wasn't a good big brother and he could do it better. As I stare at his face, I know that he has grown past me in leaps and bounds. Yes, he's taller and his shoulders are broad and strong, but his heart is so much bigger and *older* than mine could ever be. Sometimes I think my heart only beats because his does and if, god forbid, he dies today ... I'll have to break every promise I made to Erica about forever because I'll HAVE to go with him. He doesn't like being alone.
"They're going to cut your hair off," I tell him, brushing his bangs off his forehead.
He reaches up and touches his hair. "Grow back. Mama said. You said grow back."
"And it'll hurt, Jasper."
He points at his IV. "Like that?"
I hear the chair shift behind me and then Erica's touching my shoulder. "Don't scare him, Callie."
"He has a right to know."
"I not scared." Jasper grins the patented, happy go lucky grin that makes me want to hug him and never let go. "Gonna fix my head."
"That's right, Jazz," Erica tells him, her voice soothing. "You're going to be just fine."
"And I not cry, too. So don't you." He reaches out and touches my cheek. I didn't even realize I was crying. I let him pull me into his arms and close my eyes as he rubs my back. You'd think that *I* was going into surgery and he was telling me to be brave. "Hey, Dyson!"
I hear Addison greet my brother and move out of the way so she can hug him. Mark is standing behind her and Jasper cries, "Ass!" gleefully. Everyone laughs except me. Jazz doesn't know why everyone is doting on him or why Addison and Erica keep shooting each other worried looks every time I don't answer something they ask me right away. I can't. This is what I do. I run. And if I can physically run ... I sprint to the nearest corner of my mind and shut down. I did it on Cristina's couch after Miami. I did it in the Archfield when George said he cheated. I did it again after Mark and I broke up. And I'm doing it now ... even if I don't want to.
I feel like I'm sleepwalking as one hour becomes two, then three. Finally ... the results are back and Derek says that he's ready when we are. No one says goodbye to Jazz. He doesn't like goodbye and when I kiss him, his brown eyes are full of wonder and expectation. He's going *somewhere* new, somewhere with Meredith and Derek and Chief Webber, who announced that he would be scrubbing in as well. And then Bailey comes out of nowhere, telling me that she's going to go and 'supervise', but I don't chuckle the way Erica does or smile the way my mother does.
When they open his head ... the blood that falls ... that's on MY hands.
The scars are on *me*.
And if he wakes up wrong ... I will never be right.
If he goes to sleep forever ... I'll have to sleep, too.
We all walk into the hallway to watch them wheel him away. I hear him chattering about the overhead lights and then his head pops up over the back of the stretcher. They're taking him away, but he's watching us leave. He raises his hand and waves, then blows a kiss and I swear to God ... when the elevator doors close behind him ... my heart is stuck between them. I feel like the life is being sucked out of me.
My mother starts to cry first and I can hear Dad comforting her. He's saying all the things you say to someone who may or may not be losing a loved one. Listening to him doesn't comfort *me*. I'm a doctor. I know that one millimeter too deep with the saw will kill Jasper. I know that the scalpel slipping over his eye will blind him. I know that the anesthesiologist isn't perfect and he could easily over medicate Jazz. I know that waking up is never a guarantee and putting something foreign into anyone's body could backfire the instant it touches. I know ... because I learned it. I know ... because I've lived it. I know ... because I've walked down the hallway into the room that Mark is leading us to now ... to tell a family like mine that their loved one didn't make it.
As I sit down beside Erica and she puts her arm around me, I realize that I never truly apologized to Jasper for pushing him down the time he broke my Walk Man. He was just a baby, still in diapers, and I bruised his leg. I also broke his heart. And I should have apologized before he was ten years old, before he got hurt, while he still remembered it. I should have made more time for him that summer, too. Because me being away at college was hard on him. It was always hard on him and he kept a calendar in his room counting down the days until I'd be home again. I should have made sure he knew that I counted them, too. And I couldn't wait to be home with him any time I could be.
Jasper didn't want to go out on the boat that day. He begged me to take him to the skate park and I refused. Sitting on the concrete watching him skate back and forth just didn't sound as appealing as working on my tan while the wind whipped through my hair. I can remember how little he looked sitting on the leather seat with his scabby knees pulled up to his chin and his arms wrapped around his legs. He had on his elbow pads because he was convinced that I was going to take him skating as soon as we got back home and I let him believe that to get him to go. I put my arms around him before I went to the front of the boat to sunbathe and we looked at dolphins over the rail.
His fingernails were dirty when he reached out like he could touch them.
I remember telling him that he was a dirty little man. I was only playing with him, but when I stretched out on my towel and glanced his way ... he was studying his hands in earnest. Everything I said to him was something important because I was more than his big sister. I was his friend. And he was my biggest fan.
I don't think he ever knew that I was his, too. That I still am.
I kept his photos all over my dorm room and his old skate board, the one he outgrew, sat on top of my desk. I'd spin the wheels when studying became too tedious and it would make the same sound it made when he pushed it along the asphalt, making it sing. He always begged to go to school with me, but he was really there all along. All the time.
And he's here now, sitting in this room, staining us all.
"Callie?" Erica puts her head against mine. "Baby, he's going to be just fine."
I nod, but I don't say anything. I don't even breathe too loud because if I give an inch ... I'm going to break into a million pieces and never stop crying. I also pick a spot on the wall to stare at because if I look at my parents - I'll fall right over the edge. The door opens after a while and Addison slides into the seat beside me, holding out a can of soda. I shake my head and Erica takes it, opening it. Nudging me, Erica offers it to me but I don't take it.
"You haven't had anything to drink all day," she tells me. "I think the cafeteria has something decent today. You want to go get something to eat?"
I shake my head once again. It feels so heavy that it takes everything in me to do so.
She tucks my hair behind my ear, straightening my earring and tracing my lobe. "How about dessert? I'm sure they have something sinfully chocolate and full of calories. I'll even buy it and pretend that I don't mind."
I wish I could tell her thank you. I wish I could say anything.
When I still don't reply, she rubs my arm. "If you'll humor me with some water ... I'll order pizza for the next month."
"She's right, Cal. Just ... drink something," Addison says. "Please?"
Instead of replying, I get up and walk to the window. I want to tell her that Jasper was thirsty, too. He asked for juice and we told him no again and again. He went into surgery hungry and thirsty. Feeling like he felt is a small price to pay really. As I watch it start to rain, I tell God that I'll gladly fast until Jasper can eat if he'll spare him and let him come back. I don't even care if he comes back *cured*. I just want him back. I'll take him and his half life over no life at all. I shouldn't have pushed to change him. What I should have done ... is thanked my lucky stars that we still had him.
Everyone is talking around me, but it's just noise.
I hear Erica telling someone to leave me alone and I'm grateful.
I'm so damn grateful that she knows me the way she does.
I stand at the window so long that my hip, the one that was injured so badly in the boating accident, starts to throb. I take that as a sign that they're cutting into Jasper's head now. I ache in the spot where I was hurt because it's all connected ... him, me, his head, my hip. They've had enough time to open him up. They've cut off the hair he was so proud of and are undoubtedly peeling back his face and I really hate that I went to medical school at all because I envy the oblivion that my parents have.
The door creaks when it opens and it cuts through my thoughts, but not enough to matter. Nothing matter until something tugs at my shirt, much lower than anyone should tug. I glance down and see a brown doe eye staring up at me. Emma lifts her arms and waits patiently for me to pick her up. It's quiet in the room now and I look to the left, where Mr. Foster is looking apologetic. "I'm sorry to intrude, Dr. Torres," he tells me. "I know that you have a family member in surgery, but she was walking in the hallway earlier and saw you come in here. She said she'll go back to her room after she visits you."
Emma tugs at me again, stepping on my foot to get her point across. I squat down in front of her and she points at what's left of her sad braid. I guess she wouldn't let anyone take it out. She has no problem with me taking it out, though. I pull the elastic band off the tip and it comes easily, since it was barely hanging on. Mom has Jasper's bag and I take out the brush he always uses to comb his doll's hair and pull it through Emma's. Her hair is baby fine, but wavy. I turn her around so that I can braid her hair properly and she doesn't move a muscle as I do it. I make it a little tighter than the last one and carefully secure it, patting her on the back to let her know I'm finished. She touches the braid with her tiny hand and turns to look at me, nodding.
I give her a smile and pull down a little of the gauze on her face to check the bruising. "Does it hurt?" I ask.
She shakes her head, then touches my face. Looking down, she takes the brush from my hand and gently pulls it through the ends of my hair. I stay as still as possible as she twists a small lock into a knot that I'm sure I'll have fun trying to repair later. It's her way of giving me a 'braid'. When she holds it up for me to see it, I do my best to look impressed. "That's very good."
When she hugs me, I can remember being sixteen and Jasper being her size. I can remember the way he smelled after a shower when his sturdy little legs pounded down the hallway so he could give me a hug and kiss goodnight. I can remember picking him up after he fell off his bike and him wrapping his legs around me. I would give anything for to have that again. I pick Emma up now, because she lifts her arms again and when she puts her legs around my waist and I hug her ... she *is* Jasper. She's exactly what I need to pull me firmly back to the present. She holds onto my neck tight enough to choke me, then leans back and points at my parents, who are both watching me closely. "That's my mom and dad," I tell her.
She turns and looks at her own father, then at mine, as if she's trying to figure out how family trees work. My dad waves at her and my mother is smiling that pageant smile that would win her a crown any day of the week and Emma pushes against me, clearly demanding to be put down. She walks cautiously around the row of seats, never taking her eye off my parents. My mother's cheeks are still wet from her worry over Jasper and Emma picks up the Kleenex in the chair and holds it out to her. "Thank you," my mother says, rubbing the little girl's hand as she takes the box.
Emma's good eye moves over her face and she rubs my mother on the leg, then takes the heart shaped sticker off her shirt and puts it on my mother's. My mom starts to cry again and Mr. Foster takes a step forward to retrieve his daughter, but I shake my head at him. Emma has taken Mom's purse and moved it out of her lap and has climbed into it, making herself at home. She sits perfectly still, letting my mother hug her.
When Jasper first started to walk again and eventually went back to school ... his classmates were relentless in their taunts. He would come home yelling the same ugly words they called at him and my mother explained to him that he was different, he was one of God's special children.
Special children come in all shapes and sizes. They can have broken faces, broken minds, or cancer that robs them of their vitality, but every special child has a gift.
Emma Foster's gift is to soothe.
She lets her presence do what she can't do with words.
She invites you to hold onto her when you feel like your world is in a tailspin.
Mr. Foster seems at ease with this aspect of his daughter's character. He moves into the corner of the room and picks up a magazine, sitting quietly in one of the chairs. He seems to understand that my family can use a little dose of special since our most special member is absent.
When I sit beside Erica now, I take her hand.
And I take the bottle of water that Addison offers, taking a sip.
I swear ... even with her non-working jaw and inability to do so ... Emma Foster smiles as me.
I see it in her eye.
I feel it in my heart.
After Emma falls asleep and her father takes her back to her room, Addison is paged. She gives me a quick hug before she hurries out of the room and Cristina appears out of nowhere, taking her place. Yang's posture is horrible and I can see that my mother has it on the tip of her tongue to tell her to sit up straight. Slumped down with her arms crossed and her legs wide, Cristina says, "You should have told them that you wanted *me* in there with your brother. I am the best, you know?"
"Yang!" Erica snaps, sitting forward in her seat to glare at the younger woman. "If you keep trying to get into every surgery, I'm blackballing you from mine! I mean it!"
"You take so much time off that I'm blackballed anyway!" Cristina tells her. "I haven't seen anything good in *weeks*."
"You little liar!" I accuse. "You helped me with Emma!"
"Holding clamps is not the same as holding a *heart*." Yang has perfected the art of pouting. She's got her arms crossed tightly over her chest and looks miserable. "This sucks. All I've had today was a kid with strep throat and a sprained ankle. Why couldn't it have been a *broken* ankle?"
I roll my eyes. "Stop pretending that you like ortho! For God's sake ... just give him your phone number."
"What!?" Cristina sits up fast, back ramrod straight. "I would - why would you - that's ridiculous."
Erica leans forward again. "You have a thing for Cole?"
"I do not!"
"It was a question, *Yang*, not an accusation," Erica tells her, glancing a me and then back at Cristina. "I think you should go for it. The two of you ... you and Cole ... that would be ..."
"Cute?" I offer.
Erica frowns. "Well, not. Not really. Two repulsive people can't do 'cute', but it would be -"
"Convenient?" Yang asks. "Get him out of the picture so he can stop flirting with Callie?"
Erica's eyes narrow. "Why don't you go find something to do before I go flip through the charts and find something for you?"
"You're not the boss of me!" Yang says. "You're OFF today. You can't pull rank."
I look at my mother, who is watching the exchange with a smile on her face. She clears her throat and says, "You should stay, Cristina. We need to discuss your duties as Callie's bridesmaid and -"
Yang makes a sound between a cough and a sputter. On my other side, Erica sounds like a cat that just had it's tail stepped on. "NO WAY!" they both say as one, followed by, "You are not being a bridesmaid, Yang!" and "I'm not being a bridesmaid, Callie!" and "You're damn right you're not!" which Cristina takes offense to so she growls, "I CAN IF I WANT TO!"
Caught in the middle, I can only sit completely still as they lean forward and glare at each other. "Forget it!" Erica snaps. "I will happily look at any face except *yours* on my wedding day!"
Yang's bottom jaw drops open and her nostrils flare dramatically. "Like I want to see you outside of work at *all*!"
"Then it's settled!" Erica's voice rises a little. "Your invitation can get lost in the mail!"
"IT WILL NOT!" Yang's voice rises a little higher. "I'm Callie's fri - er - coworker. I can be there if she wants!"
"Callie!" They both say my name with equal measures of venom.
I take a deep breath, trying to appear as conflicted as I possibly can. "Erica, Cristina was a very good fr - uhm - coworker to me and I'd like her to be there. In the wedding party."
"Great!" Erica says, throwing her hands up. "We'll have horrible wedding pictures. Just look at her badge!"
Cristina looks down at her badge before I can, lifting it in her hand. "There is nothing wrong with my picture! And since all eyes will be focused on The Bride of Frankenstein, you shouldn't worry."
"You just insulted Callie!" Erica points a finger at her, but I grab it with my own. She looks at me intently, then at Cristina. "Fine! Be a bridesmaid, but if you trip or do anything else ..."
"Be a bridesmaid?" Cristina suddenly looks like her puppy died. "Wait ... I thought we were arguing about me *going* to the wedding. You know ... as a guest."
"It'll be fine," I tell her, patting her leg. "I was thinking baby pink dresses with matching ribbons in your hair."
"You're trying to humiliate me!" Yang accuses. "You didn't even ask me!"
"You didn't ask me either and I had to rearrange my whole afternoon, which included surgery, so that you could suck the life out of me at a bridal shop!" I cross my arms over my chest. "That was horrible!"
"It was not horrible! You laughed at me until you peed! *You* said so!"
"And I also kept the evil mothers at bay with my wicked lying abilities so you owe me!"
"Oh, screw this!" She jumps to her feet, making her sneakers squeak on the floor. "You wouldn't do baby blue and *I* don't do pink. Or ribbons. Or -- fluffy. I mean it! I - I'm going to the clinic. I'll take a sore throat over this any day of the week."
"Bye," Erica tells her on the way out.
"You are *horrible*!" I tell her when Yang slams out of the room. "What was that!?"
"That's *Yang*." Erica waves a hand. "And I got her to do what you wanted, didn't I?"
"You are so *bad*!"
"Yeah, I know." She shrugs, then turns in her seat a little. "You were kidding about the pink, right?"
I keep my face impassive. "It's fitting, right? Two women. Pink."
"Oh, dear God ..."
When I smile at my mother, she's watching us with a newfound interest.
It's almost like she's finally seeing us.
The passage of time is consistent. Just like I told Erica when I proposed, there are sixty seconds in every minute and sixty minutes in every hour, but the way it passes is never, ever consistent. When it's the last day of school, you watch the second hand and it feels like it never moves. But on a timed test day at school, it feels like the hands have been sped up and every time you glance at the clock you gasp. Waiting for news about Jasper feels like the last day of school. Every time I glance at Erica's watch it's only five minutes since the last time and I'm tempted to take it off her wrist to make sure it's still ticking. Joel calls after the five hour mark and I listen to my mother explain that no news is good news.
That's not always true.
The surgery could have come to a stand still because Jasper died and all of my coworkers could be drawing sticks to see who has to come and tell us. Or there could be a problem with the equipment and everything's been halted until something new can be brought in. Or ... I have to stop thinking about it. Because maybe Derek is just being as thorough as he possibly can be and I should put my faith in that.
An hour ago, I took one of the pills Addison prescribed and since I haven't eaten ... it's gone straight to my head. I know, I should be ashamed because I didn't really need it, but the pain in my heart suggested otherwise. No one saw me do it, but I'm pretty sure that Erica suspects something when I put my head in her lap and close my eyes. She pulls her fingers through my hair and gets tangled up in the knot that Emma put in it. I fall asleep as she's tenderly working it out and when I wake up, my ears feel like they've been stuffed with cotton. It's a horrible feeling and tug my earlobes when I sit up, trying to figure out what woke me up.
I don't have to wonder long.
Derek is standing in the doorway with the chart in his hand and I hold my breath, finally remembering where I am and what he's here for. The fact that he shuts the door behind him makes me feel claustrophobic. I only shut that door when I have horrible news for a family and I always hear it click behind me with the same reverberation of a gunshot piercing a silent night. The news that I deliver when that door is closed ... is the same ... it's a gunshot wound through the heart and I have to walk away and leave them to bleed out alone because I'm a doctor, but I can't repair *everything*.
Shepherd doesn't look at me.
He doesn't look at Erica either and it's because we know. It's because we can see it in his face and he'd rather say it to my parents than confess that he failed to his peers.
"Dr. Shepherd," my dad is on his feet and there's an anxiousness is his voice that I've never heard him use before. This? This is like being a play and forgetting your lines.
"Mr. and Mrs. Torres," Derek says, gesturing at the chairs they vacated. They're on their feet. I'm unable to make it to mine. "Why don't you sit down?"
Erica snakes her arm around my waist and takes my hand in hers. I'm still leaning toward her and I let her pull me so that I'm against her, so that she's holding me up at all. I'm grateful for it. I'm so damn grateful to have her there that I want to convey that with my eyes since my voice won't work at all, but I can't look away from Derek. I've never figured out what women see in him. Yes, he's got perfect hair and being the head of neuro gives him a sexy, powerful air, but I never understood the McDreamy quality. When he turns his face towards me and smiles, though, I absolutely, beyond of a shadow of a doubt, love the man.
He is absolutely the McDreamiest man who ever McDreamed.
"He's okay," I say and it's not a question.
Derek nods his head, which is still covered with his ferry boat cap. "He came through the surgery just fine and I really feel like I was able to get the transmitters far enough into the damaged area to maximize the stimulation when we start that. I don't want to rush because there will be swelling and the risk of exacerbating it outweighs the benefits of beginning immediately. We'll monitor the swelling for a few days and make sure that he's immobile -"
"Why - why does he need to be immobile?" Mom asks. "He can't walk around? He can't -"
"I'm going to use medication to keep him sedated until the swelling is manageable," Derek tells her, putting his hand on her shoulder. "It's common after an invasive brain surgery to keep the patient completely motionless. The less work the brain has to do while it heals, the better."
"It's safe," I tell her. "He'll just be asleep for a while."
Dad rubs her back, speaking to Derek from behind her. "I've read everything about this procedure. I've researched it and tried to understand it, but what I could never find is what we should expect when you do start stimulating his brain with the transmitters. Realistically, what will happen inside his head when you do that?"
"Realistically," Derek says, "Jasper will complain of a headache. It will feel like a migraine and he may cry, he may shout, he may demand that we stop. He may have mood swings that he has never experienced before because the pulses that will shock the damaged areas of his brain will cause chemicals to release incorrectly for a while. He could feel happy when he should be sad or cry when he means to laugh, but we can control those chemicals with medication when and *if* it happens. There's no guarantee that he will show *any* adverse signs or respond to the stimuli at all. Every case is different and that's why this procedure is still being performed on a trial basis. There's just not enough data to support anything as concrete. He may or may not have a reaction like anything we've documented in the past."
"You said before," Mom says, "that the first few stimulations will be as dangerous as the operation. So he's not out of the woods yet, is he?"
Derek doesn't respond right away and I know exactly what he's doing. He's picking and choosing the smallest words from the jumble of medical terminology in that he carries around in his own head. When he does speak, his voice is so soft that I have to strain to hear it. "Everything about this procedure is dangerous, Mrs. Torres. I would say that we have walked him over halfway through the process, though. This next leg of the journey is his and how he responds to the rest of the treatment is ... anyone's guess. It is dangerous and I will be definitely be holding my breath when I turn the machines on for the first time because I don't know what will happen, but I can assure you that whether he's in or out of the woods ... I'm going to be beside him every step of the way."
"Thank you, Dr. Shepherd." My mother reaches out and hugs him and he smiles. When you're a doctor, you savor every moments like that because they don't happen nearly enough. When Emma's mother hugged me, I floated down the hallway on air.
I open my mouth to ask him if we can Jazz yet when his pager goes off.
Derek pulls it from his clip, glances down at it, and his smile vanishes in a flash.
When he turns and rushes from the room ... Erica catches me around the waist and that's when I realize that I was trying to chase him.
I know ... in my gut ... I know that something has gone very, very wrong.
And when I hit my knees now ... Erica goes down with me, anchoring me as I start to pray with all that I am.
God ... please.
I just wanted to quickly apologize for the cliffhanger. I've got most of the next chapter written so it won't be that long. I'm shooting for an update by Friday, but I can't promise. I'll definitely do my best. :)
If you are reading this ... please accept my heartfelt thank you for coming along for the ride this far. I look forward to sharing the rest of this story with you and embarking on the next one. Your support, your comments, and your presence in this journey has been amazing for me. Thank you. I truly mean that. =)
By the way, for the people who wanted Erica in glasses:
Ange made a few. :) I liked them all. :)