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. And to queenemiwee and iwishiwashahn for helping me get through this chapter. You saved me. :)
All my love, Ange, you rock. :)
When Jasper was seven and I was seventeen, he offered to be my date for the prom. No one asked me. No one ever asked me anything in school except to move or to not exist. I was too tall to blend in, too ethnic to be a wallflower, and too smart to stay below their radar. I was used to gum in my hair or spit balls landing in my lunch tray. It was common to have a foot dart out in front of me as I walked to my desk and even more common to be the butt of their jokes. The weeks leading up to prom brought out the worst in people. I waited until the last possible second to buy my one lone ticket because I knew that everyone would find out that it would just be me going. And I'd have hell to pay for it. I didn't want to go at all, but my mother, who incidentally was the prom queen, the homecoming queen, and head cheerleader, acted like I had just committed a triple homicide when I told her I didn't plan on attending. She had me measured that same day and went through bolts of fabric until she found the perfect prom material.
It was blue.
At least it wasn't pink.
Jasper told me that I was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen and gave me a kiss. He had chocolate on his lips and my mother scolded him for ruining my makeup, but I didn't mind. I let my mother believe that I plans with a group of friends and climbed into the vacant limousine by myself. I let the chauffeur drive a few miles down the road while I ripped up my prom ticket and let it fly out the window in pieces. The driver made a big circle and let me out a few blocks from my house after thirty minutes. The fact that I gave him two hundred bucks sent him on his way with no questions asked and I took off my shoes and ran for home. I had to go the back way, creeping over sand dunes, and when I could see Jasper's bedroom window ... I turned on the walkie talkie he had given me.
I spent my prom night with Jasper.
He brought me jeans and a t-shirt in his backpack and we headed down the beach to a traveling circus. We fed peanuts to elephants. We drove the bumper cars and ate funnel cakes until our bellies ached. When the carnival shut down at midnight, we strolled up and down the shopping district and he told me that even without my dress ... I was so pretty that he was proud to be my 'date'. He helped me put my prom dress back on when we were within sight of our house and he scaled the side of it with the agility of a mountain climber. I went in the back door and my parents were waiting up for me, both of them questioning me at once.
I told them that I had met a guy ... the greatest guy in the world ... and we had danced until my feet ached.
When I went upstairs, Jazz was waiting to help me pull all the clips and pins from my hair and he brushed through it. We snuggled under the cover together and watched movies until dawn. It was, hands down, the best night of my high school life. I had the kind of prom night that I still look back on fondly. I didn't miss out on anything by not going. Because Jasper's laughter when he cornered me in the bumper cars and his sticky hand in mine as we ran from ride to ride ... that's something that can never be taken away from me.
When Jasper was nine and I was nineteen, he wrote a story about his hero for school. I was away at college and Mom sent me his report in my biweekly care package. I had it framed and spent the night reading the scraggly, sprawling cursive handwriting he was attempting to master. He wrote that his big sister was smart, pretty, and good to him. He said that I always listened, I always played with him, and called him a lot at bedtime to say good night. He ended it by saying that I was his best friend and he wanted to grow up to be just like me.
Although he didn't know it ... I wrote a paper about him, too.
After his injury.
Because I wanted to get into an advanced class and his case was so familiar to me.
I didn't call him my brother in it, though. I referred to him as Patient A.
I should not have written about his head.
I should have written about his heart.
Waiting rooms should be renamed something more sinister. Because waiting implies that there's something worth waiting for and when you're waiting to hear whether or not you still have a brother ... it's torture. Erica and I saw a Medieval Torture Museum in Italy and as I gaze at the silent phone, the dragging clock, and sit in a chair so stiff that I can barely move, I know that this is a torture that exceeds the cruelty of anything the museum showcased. When Derek left the room and my prayers became nothing but a silent plea that only I had to endure, my mother took up the cause. She called Joel and told him that something must have gone wrong and asked him to call the 'prayer chain' at the church.
Right now in Miami, there are people begging God the same way I did.
Erica is sitting so close to me that every ragged breath she takes seems to radiate from me or maybe through me. I can't tell if I'm breathing at all. I'm back in that foggy, half aware place that I keep cleaned out for occasions like this. A bomb could go off in front of me and I probably wouldn't feel the burn, hear the explosion, or see the light. I feel like a part of me has already died, already been buried, and now I'm just waiting for the dirt to settle and trap me forever. My brother could be dead right now. They could be shocking him. They could be doing CPR. Or they could be calling it.
I glance at the clock and note the time.
Is Jasper dead?
It's nearly six in the afternoon.
Will he be alive at six thirty?
How about seven?
Or did he die just after five when Derek ran from the room?
Who will write up his toe tag?
It should say Jazz ... not Jasper.
I'm aware of red hair swimming in my periphery and when Addison speaks it sounds like she's at the end of a long tunnel. I hear her asking me if I need anything. Why would she ask that? Can she go and get Jazz and bring him to me? No, she can't. So she needs to not ask me if I *need* anything when she obviously can't give me what I need. My ears are ringing now, drowning out everything and I close my eyes, conjuring the image of Jasper covered in ice cream.
At least he got to eat something good before he ... died.
Is he dead?
I have to know.
When I get to my feet and take a step forward it feels like I'm walking sideways. The room feels like it has been built on a slight incline. My father's voice breaks through the storm in my head, but I don't pay any attention. I walk into the hallway and a part of me registers that it's bustling with activity. It's enough of a recognition to piss me off. How dare the nurses and doctors in this place bustle back and forth, rubbing in the fact that they're *alive* and *fine*. Time should stop occasionally and let you catch your breath ... especially when it's been moving at a crawl to begin with.
Someone puts their hand on my shoulder, trying to restrain me, but I have my eye on the elevator that will take me to the intensive care unit and I have to go there. Maybe I can help. When I reach for the button on the lift, Erica's hand pushes mine away. I know it's her hand because of the watch on her wrist and no matter how I try to let it, the memory of that night in Italy will not come. Nothing will come.
Where was I going?
"Callie, you can't go up there," Addison says gently, standing next to Erica. They're standing in front of me, guarding me or maybe they're guarding my heart. "He's in good hands and you'll just be in the way."
"She's right," Erica tells me in a voice that sounds like I'm a four year old. I need to be spoken to like I'm a child, I guess. "Do you want to go get some fresh air? Let's go outside."
There's no waiting for an answer. She takes my hand and pulls me along beside her. Addison falls in step with us, looping her arm through mine. I stare down at the floor. It's yellow.
Follow the yellow brick road.
Jazz ... Jazz may never hear that song again.
"Wait." I hear myself say it and they stop pulling.
I point at the bathroom and I'm free. Hands fall away from me and I go inside the unisex restroom that's never as clean as it should be. There's only one toilet inside. I shut the door behind me before anyone can follow and lean against it. If I'm going to fall apart I'd rather be alone when it happens. I make it to the sink and splash cold water on my face, then cup my hand and take a few sips. It's lukewarm and tastes bitter. Life tastes bitter. Life *is* bitter.
And really, I don't know why I do it because I need to be coherent when we get the news.
I need to be completely sane and inside my head, but I can't be.
Not when escaping is so damn easy.
I have my purse and the bottle of pain pills is inside it. Addison prescribed one every four to six hours.
I take three.
Because I don't know if I'll survive four to six more hours.
If Derek tells me that my brother has died ... I will die before I can hit the ground and I want to be numb for the fall.
"Callie?" Erica wiggles the doorknob behind me and I turn the water on again to let her know that I'm still here. I'm still breathing. I'm still alive when I don't really have a right to be ... and then I turn it off and reach for the door.
Whatever is coming ... I'll be medicated enough around the edges to not feel it like a knife in the gut.
"Are you okay?" Addison reaches out and takes my purse, putting it over her own shoulder. She can't lift the weight of the world, though, and it has settled on my spine hard enough to bend it. My shoulders are slumped when Erica puts her arm around them and leads me outdoors.
The sky is overcast.
It's going to rain.
Maybe it will wash us all away.
I'm still awake when Derek comes back in.
I don't want to be awake.
I don't want to be waiting or bending under the crippling assault of memories that I can't really pick from my hazy head. It's all a jumbled mess. Flashes of Jasper move in and out of my mind like a slide show. And he's out of focus in every one. Could I really be forgetting him that fast?
Chief Webber is with Derek.
So is Dr. Bailey.
All we're missing is the chaplain.
Did anyone think to read him his last rites?
I almost laugh at the absurdity of this pomp and circumstance.
"Mr. and Mrs. Torres." Derek doesn't have to tell them to take a seat this time. They didn't have the power to get up. They're slumped together, probably remembering what Jasper's first cries sounded like when Mom finally had him. Hours. She spent hours in labor. "I'm sorry that I've kept you waiting. I wanted to make sure that -"
"Is he dead?" Mom's voice sounds like it's coming from an old victrola. It's scratchy and distant, like speaking any clearer would change the answer to the question. "Is my baby dead, Dr. Shepherd?"
Derek has taken off his scrub cap. How dare he comb his hair before rushing back with the news. I watch him run his hands through that hair now, making it stand up, making it crooked. "No, he's not, but I'm afraid that I don't have very good news."
Dr. Bailey is looking at me.
Stop looking at me.
I must have said that out loud because every eye turns toward me and Miranda looks down at her feet.
Clearing his throat, Derek says, "Jasper has suffered a hemorrhagic stroke. There is bleeding into his brain tissue which caused a hematoma. The good news is that we caught it immediately and have started utilizing blood thinners to try to prevent any clotting or another stroke. The ... the bad news is that this occurred in an area of the brain that controls his motor functions. The best case scenario is that we were fast enough to minimize any long term side effects. However ... there is a strong possibility that he will have lost the use of his limbs and possibly his speech as well."
My father breaks first.
His hands go to his head and he leans forward, resting his elbows on his knees as he sobs.
I don't watch my mother do the same, but I can hear her.
Addison moves forward when I don't and I can hear her trying to soothe my family.
Erica tries to do that for me, but I don't let her. I can't let her. She *told* me that Jasper didn't need the surgery and I had to win the fight. I had to push and push and *win*. I didn't listen. I never listen. The world is black and white for me and it's always got to be MY way.
Jazz ... oh my god ... Jazz.
He's been sacrificed in my battle of wills.
"You can see him now," Chief Webber offers and he's looking at me. He's expecting me to keep a stiff upper lip because I'm a doctor and I'm damn capable of keeping my cool. I feel like screaming at him.
"I want to see him," Mom sobs, clinging to Addison as she gets to her feet.
I'm shuffled along with the small crowd and then we're in the hallway. Someone has their hand on the small of my back now, insistently pushing me onward, forward and I only want to go backwards. I want to go back in time and change it all. I want to take Jasper skating instead of out in the boat. I want to NEVER suggest surgery to my parents because just look at what I did. The elevator dings and the doors slide open in front of me and when I close my eyes now ... I can see nine year old Jasper in the bumper cars and THAT is how I want to see him for the rest of my life. I don't want to see a broken man with tubes and wires and ... legs that may never work again.
I whirl so fast that the entire hospital seems to spin like a top and I make a mad dash for the doors. I've never run faster or for a better reason. The hounds of hell are literally at my feet and if I can make them come after me then they'll leave Jasper alone. I nearly knock over a woman carrying a kid, but I don't stop. I go. I just ... go.
Rain is thundering down so hard that there are puddles on the sidewalk as I race the wind. One block. Two blocks. Three blocks. Then ten. I thunder past the diner that Mark and I used to eat at. I ignore the horn that blares when I don't wait for a crosswalk and I keep going until my lungs are aching and my heart is furiously pounding in an attempt to fly as fast as I am. Just when I'm ready to quit, when I'm ready to give up and let go and fall to the ground, I hear the heavy pounding of footsteps behind me. Two strong arms grab hold of me and my attacker and I both fall. They take the brunt of it as we roll end over end down a grassy slope and finally land in a puddle of water so cold that I cry out in shock.
Before I can voice my protest, Mark Sloan is in my face shaking me so hard that I bite my lip accidentally. "YOU NEARLY GOT HIT BY A CAR! TWICE!"
Did I really? Hmm, I didn't notice. I certainly wouldn't have dodged that if I had.
There's two of him bobbing in and out of focus as he shakes me again. "CALLIE! ARE YOU OKAY!?"
In the distance I can hear a car squeal to a stop. "Do you see them?"
"We're here!" Mark calls out, still grasping me a little too tightly. "What the hell is wrong with you? Are you trying to get yourself killed?"
I think the answer could be yes.
But I don't tell him that.
And he doesn't seem to expect me to because he lifts me and carries me back up the slope.
I don't remember anything at all after that.
"Has she woken up at all?"
"Should we call her parents?"
"They're on their way back here. Yang said they spent the night in the waiting room, taking turns going back to sit with Jasper."
"We should wake her up and make her eat something."
"She's exhausted. Let her sleep."
"Erica, she's got to face this."
"Leave her alone, Mark."
"She is going to do this as long as you let her," Mark snaps. "When she came back from Miami after her father's surgery she curled up on the couch and didn't move for *days*. She wouldn't eat, wouldn't speak, wouldn't budge. I had to FORCE her."
"What do you suggest we do?" Erica demands. "Her *brother* had a stroke. He could *die*. Thank God she CAN sleep because -"
"Stop it. Both of you," Addison says, then her face appears in front of me and she smiles. "Hey, you. Good morning."
I blink a few times and sit up. Someone took my shoes off and dressed me in a long gown, but I have no clue who that was. I must have slept like the dead because my left arm is numb from lying on it and my shoulder is throbbing incessantly. A look at the window confirms that it's a new day and I stare at the light, dumbfounded. What kind of God would dare let the sun shine on a day like today? This is the first day of Jasper's new life as a vegetable. If he even lives at all.
Here comes the pain again.
"Baby?" Erica sits down next to me, cupping my chin and forcing me to look at her. She gives me a worried smile and says, "Jasper did great all night. He's holding strong and Derek slept on a cot in his room just to make sure he's right there if anything changes."
Her eyes really are the bluest I've ever seen. I want to return the smile or fall into her arms or *something*, but nothing happens. I wait for my body to move toward her because that's always my first instinct, but instead it moves away. I push myself to my feet, ignoring Addison and Mark as I head into the bathroom and shut the door. They're talking about me. I hear my name even though I turn the water on in the sink. I don't brush my teeth or take a comb to my rain matted hair, though. Instead, I open the medicine cabinet and pick up the strong pain pills that Erica was given after her fine needle aspiration.
It's not wrong to want to sleep.
It's really not.
No one can expect me to stay awake and stay alert when *I* did this to Jazz.
It's my fault.
The little boy that Jasper never grew up from trusted me with his life and I destroyed it.
I take three pills and wash them down with a mouthful of water, then return the pills safely back to their spot. I'm fascinated by the orderly way the pill bottles are lined up on the shelf. Erica's are on the bottom, mine are on the top. Our community property, pills we both use, are on the middle shelf. I open the box of Benadryl and take two of those, sipping another handful of water.
There *is* a rational part of my brain that keeps bellowing how stupid I am in this moment, but I quiet it down with no problem.
All I hear is Jasper telling me that he wasn't scared, that Derek was going to fix his head, and that Mama said his hair would grow back.
I actually pick up a razor and contemplate cutting my own hair off as punishment for this sick, sick thing I've done to Jazz, but Erica knocks on the door and I put it down.
I don't look at myself in the mirror.
I don't feel like seeing someone I consider a murderer.
"You need to eat, Mija. Wake up, honey, please?"
"What's wrong with her?"
"Calliope! Come on, baby!"
"Santos, something is wrong with her."
"She's just taking it hard, Lori Anne. You know how she is."
"Does she have a fever?"
A warm hand lights on my head and I don't make a sound. "No, she doesn't."
"Erica said for us to wake her up."
Dad shakes me as he repeats my name again. This is the most coherent I've been in ... how long? Where is Erica? Has Jasper died? It's a chore to keep myself limp and an even bigger obstacle not to cry when I hear my mother break down. I feel her hands on my face (I know they're hers because she smells like roses) and then I feel her rest her head on my stomach. Part of me wants to stroke her hair and assure her that I'll be okay just as soon as the drugs wear off ... another part of me wants them to go away so that I can take something else.
I'm not addicted to drugs ... I'm addicted to the oblivion.
I want to stay in this dream place.
It's when I'm asleep ... or even in this halfway place ... that I can see Jasper emerging from the fogginess in my head and giving me his glorious, gorgeous smile. If I open my eyes now ... I may never see it again. So, I stay completely still, forcing myself to breathe in and out as my mother cries and my father pats my hand a little harder, trying to wake me. I fall asleep listening to them talk about the swelling in Jasper's brain. The blood thinners are apparently working and Shepherd is 'cautiously optimistic'.
I could inhale the comforting smell of lilacs for the rest of my life. It's purely Erica, purely heaven, purely bliss. It's the softest, most sensual smell I've ever encountered and I breathe so deeply that my lungs burn. I can feel her body pressed intimately against mine, her hand sliding against my hip, and I stretch when she kisses the back of my neck. I lift my arm and cradle her head when she whispers that she loves me and turn just enough to catch her lips with mine. All the tension drains from my body when I roll over and cradle her face. She's so beautiful, so soft, so real.
She tells me she loves me again and trails something soft over my leg. I look down at the sunflower as it skims my belly and when I smile at her, I realize that we're outside. We're back in the sunflower field in Italy and the sun is rising high, bathing us both in stark light that showcases our polar skin tones; ivory and cinnamon. I watch her pull the sunflower over my skin and realize that she's wearing her fancy red dress and I'm wearing my yellow one and now ... now we're holding hands as we stand on top of Seattle Grace and she's watching me intently, telling me something that I know is important because of the crease in her brow.
'Did you say something?' I ask, but she continues to move her lips and there is no sound.
'I can't hear you. Erica, speak up.' I shake my head in earnest when she points at the hospital, then at me. 'I can't-'
"CALLIE! WAKE UP!"
"WHAT!?" I shout, causing the hands on my shoulders to tighten. My eyes open and the image of Erica in her red dress is replaced by the real deal. She's shaking me furiously and while the crease is evident in her brow, she's wearing something black now. I sit up and shove her hands off me. "Leave me -"
"How much did you take!?"
"I am so sorry. Lori Anne, I'm sorry." Addison's voice comes from the left and I rub my eyes, looking at the shadows in the room. I think my parents are there and I can see Mark with his arm around Addison. He's saying something to her. Something that I can't hear. "Santos, I didn't know that she would - I'm sorry!"
Addison is sorry. She's sorry for ... what?
Oh my God ...
I know what it means.
Jasper is really, truly ... gone.
And I have numbed myself too much to feel the pain.
I deserve to feel the pain.
Instead, I feel Erica shake me again. I want it to stop. I try in vain to burrow back under the cover and kick the weight of her off the bed. It doesn't work. Someone actually says something about calling 911 and I hear myself saying no ... I hear myself saying that I don't want to go to the hospital because that's where Jasper is. It's so strange, this falling in and out of being. I come and I go and going is so much easier.
It's like being inside a cloud.
"Hey! Einstein!" Erica's voice is so harsh that she cannot possibly be talking to me, but I can see her face just a few inches from mine and I really don't think I'm dreaming anymore. I blink a few times and attempt to focus on her, but she's hazy around the edges. "Callie! Oh, no you don't!"
I must have been trying to lie down because she grips my wrists so hard that it I cry out from the pain as she yanks me up again. We're evenly matched. Even with me half out of my head ... she holds her own as she tries to restrain me. Back and forth it goes. Finally, she tries to shake me again and I smack at her hands. She says my name pleadingly, begging me, and I respond by calling her a bitch ... so she slaps me. Hard. Right on the cheek.
There's chaos all around us now and my mother is sobbing and Mark is yelling and Dad is telling everyone to be quiet. I tune it all out and can only stare at Erica in shock.
I am completely awake.
I'm not even sleepy anymore.
Stunned, I cup my face.
That really, truly hurt.
"What are you *doing*?" she yells, holding up a pill bottle in her left hand as she glares at me. "Two days! Two days and you've gone through almost thirty pills! How many did you take at once!?"
"You hit me." I announce the obvious, rubbing my stinging cheek. Nothing in this world could have been more sobering than that. Nothing. Erica Hahn has ... hit ... me and in doing so ... she has grand slammed my world off it's axis. Possibly forever.
"Did it get your attention?" There's not a hint of apology. There's not regret on her face. "Or do I need to do it again?"
I must still be dreaming. There is no way in HELL ...
"Erica -" Mark begins.
"Shut up, Sloan!" Erica cuts him off, never taking her eyes off mine. Her jaw is set, lifted slightly like she dares me to say something ... to *do* something. "I checked the medicine cabinet, Callie. Some of my pills are missing. Did you mix them with yours?"
It's funny how you can run the gamut of emotion without even breaking a sweat. I've gone from shocked, to hurt, to embarrassed that she chose to do this in front of everyone ... to absolutely furious. I'm mad as hell that she has charged through the wall that I so carefully constructed with my medicinal blur. "Yeah, I did! What are you going to do about it!?"
"Get up," she snarls the words, tugging at the cover, but I hold it firm. We struggle for what has to be less than two seconds, but it's long enough to leave me breathless. When I win the tug of war, she latches onto my left hand and twists my rings off. Both of them. My engagement ring and my eternity band slide free before I can stop her and my mouth drops open.
When you take back the promise of forever ... it's almost impossible to ever offer it again.
She really can't be doing this to me.
I only thought that feeling her hand crack against my face was shocking. This? This is the death I keep thinking of chasing down. "Erica -"
"Shut up!" I watch her slide OUR FUTURE over her index finger. They only fit part of the way. My life ... only fits her part of the way. "You have two choices," she tells me. "You can get off your ass and go flush *every* pill in that bathroom down the toilet and wear these rings again ... or you can get off your ass and pack your shit because I will *not* go down this road with you."
Words are so elusive that it feels like I've never been taught to speak at all. "But -"
"THERE IS NO BUT, CALLIE!" she yells. "You KNOW that I watched my parents do this! How dare YOU!?"
"I - I didn't -"
"WHAT IS IT GOING TO BE, TORRES!? ME?" She throws a pill bottle into my lap and I can hear the few that remain roll around. "OR THAT!?"
The bottle feels like it weighs fourteen tons. This is what Addison is apologizing for ... prescribing so many pills so easily, for trusting that I would use it as directed. For believing that I needed it at all. I stare at my name on the label and it makes me sick at my stomach to even think about swallowing down another. What have I done? I may as well have stuffed every single one of the Vicodin into Erica's mouth and forced *her* to swallow. I've killed her by doing this to her ... to us. I can't look at her when I say, "You."
"Speak up when you talk to me!" Erica snaps.
I don't think anyone in the room is breathing ... especially me. "I pick you."
When she pulls the cover back this time ... I don't fight with her. Someone has dressed me in sweats and a tank top or maybe it was me, I don't know. I don't remember anything. Except that I love her and I don't know what I'm doing anymore. My legs are shaky when I stand and she's there beside me, but she holds me at arm's length when I try to hug her. She doesn't want my comfort or my apologies ... I've gone too far. She points at the bathroom and I know that every eye is on me when I follow her. Everything has been haphazardly scattered on the counter. Midol, Benadryl, a bottle of Nyquil ... everything. My eyes meet hers in the mirror and she raises a brow, challenging me.
What can you do when the ultimatum that you're pretty sure scares you more than anything ever could ... has been thrown down at your feet? What I do ... is pick up the medication that is prescribed to her, the pills that *I* took, and twist the lid off. I dump them into the toilet and add mine to the mix. Muscle relaxers, allergy meds, anything and everything that *could* give me a buzz or a crutch to lean on mixes together and it's another rainbow ... just like the Tums that I vomited while I was so sick. I may not be puking my guts up now, but I'm purging my system all the same. When everything has been dumped in and capsules are slowly breaking open in the water ... I break open, too.
"I'm sorry," I sob, wrapping my arms around myself. "I don't know what I -"
I hit the handle and watch the colors vanish and I circle the drain with it, watching, falling. There really is such a thing as rock bottom. What I've done ... is selfishly took care of my own pain at the expense of Erica's. Instead of letting her pull me through this nightmare with Jasper, I shoved her into one of her own ... where I phased her out the same way her parents did. I didn't let her help carry my burdens ... I saddled her with new ones.
I failed her.
Every time we're happy, every time we're content and settled, I ruin it and give her reasons to doubt me. I don't blame her for taking my rings. I don't blame her for being ready to throw in the towel. Why should she trust me when I've made her recognize every one of her fears in me?
I know that being left behind terrifies her and I've done it more than once.
And I tried to use drugs, another of her fears, to escape from the reality of my life when the reality is ... as long as *she* is beside me ... there's nothing I can't face.
I turn to tell her what I've realized and I know that we have an audience, I know that everyone is watching, but I already look like a fool so I don't care. I start to kneel down because I'm prepared to beg, but she catches me and pulls me into her arms, saying, "Don't you *ever* do this again. Ever."
"I won't." I hold her so close that it aches. All of me. I hurt inside and out. "I didn't - I wasn't -"
"Shhhh." She shifts just a little, leaning back so she can look at me. Her palm slowly moves over my cheek, then she kisses it. "I'm sorry I hit you. I - I had to get your attention and - you know that I would *never* hit you in anger ... don't you?"
I nod at her. "I know. And I - Erica, I am so sorry that I-"
"Don't." She glances at the doorway, where my mother is watching us like a hawk. "Do you want to take a shower?"
"I want my rings back." I hold my right hand out, palm up, but she shakes her head. "But-"
"I took them off you ... and I'll put them back on."
"When?" I don't care that I'm pathetic. I start to sob again and I can feel my nose running. I know that it's red and swollen and my eyes are the same way, but I can't help it. "You said -"
"When the shit that you put into your system is out of it ... we'll talk. I'm not doing this until you're sober."
"Doing what?" I hear the bathroom door click shut and someone, probably my father, has given us much needed privacy. "Are you breaking up with me?"
"Don't you think I should?"
"NO!" I hang onto her, not letting her move away. "I fucked up! Okay? I get it! I fucked up and -"
"Stop it!" She grips my face and I watch her glare at me with the same look of contempt she usually reserves for Yang. "You don't 'get it', Callie. You're eyes are so fucking glassy right now that you probably don't even know where you are!"
"I'm at home with you. I'm where I'm supposed to be."
"Take a cold shower, put on something clean, and be downstairs in thirty minutes so that you can eat the dinner your mother cooked." She pushes me away and turns on her heel, but I grab her arm. Erica brushes me off like I'm a mosquito, wrinkling her nose with disdain. "Do not touch me when you're like this!"
"I'm *fine*. I'm *sober*."
"No, you're not. You want to know how I know?" She tilts her head just a little. "Because you haven't asked about Jasper at all. If you were not stoned out of your fucking head ... then he would be the first and *only* thing on your mind right now."
She throws a towel at me and it hits me in the face.
By the time I lower it ... she's gone.
I take a cold shower.
It chills me to the bone, but I still take my time. At least if I'm concentrating on the cold I can't concentrate on how badly I fucked up. Or all the things I don't know about Jasper. When I finally scrub my skin clean and wash my hair twice, I step from the shower and wrap myself in Erica's robe. It doesn't give me what I need. I can be warmed at all. Even though the wonderful scent of her clings to every fiber ... the absence of my rings make me feel like I've been packed in ice.
When you come to the realization that YOU alone have screwed up everything and everyone in your life ... it feels like being stranded on an iceberg. I've devastated myself. I go through the motions of brushing my teeth and pulling a comb through my hair and then I get dressed. I put on thick, flannel pajamas because my teeth are chattering and my hands are shaking too much to search for anything else in the drawers. I sit down on the bench at the foot of the bed and tug on a pair of socks and the realization that I've slept through two days ... TWO DAYS ... of what could be Jasper's last makes my stomach seize up in knots and start to ache.
I don't even know how he is.
I have my face buried in my hands and I'm losing a battle with tears when the door creaks open. I look up fast, feeling guilty for indulging in my own pain when I've caused so much. My mother is carrying a cup of tea and she hands it to me, sitting next to me on the bench. I have to blink a few times through my tears to recognize her. I think I had forgotten that she had lost so much weight. She seems smaller without the beehive in her hair. I sip the peppermint concoction she has put together as she rubs my back and says, "I'm mad as hell at that - that *woman* for hitting you. So is Mark. Your father and Addison, however, are on *her* side."
"You KNOW she only did it to get my attention."
"Has she hit you before?"
"She's lucky I didn't rip her hair out." Mom rubs my cheek, sighing. "Jasper would-"
"Is he -" I can't bring myself to even suggest it out loud. "How is he?"
"He's hanging in there, baby." Mom leans her head against my shoulder. "Derek is planning to take him off the medication that's keeping him under so we can test his legs. Right now, he's responding to having his reflexes messed with so that's a good sign. At least that's what everyone keeps telling us."
"Is the bleeding -"
"It's cleared up. They'll probably keep him on blood thinners for a while, though. Just to play it safe."
"I'm sorry I did this." My hands shake so badly that Mom takes the tea from me, setting it in the floor. "I'm sorry I did this to him ... and to me. I just wasn't thinking."
"You were right when you said that we had to take this chance to help him, Callie," Mom says, taking my hand. "This surgery was the right thing to do. I couldn't live with myself if I didn't *try* to give him back what he lost in the ocean that day. Our hearts were in the right place with this."
"I feel so damn guilty," I confess.
"Don't feel guilty for Jasper. Feel guilty that you upset your father so badly that he was in tears. Feel guilty that Mark and Addison quarreled so badly that your daddy has left to drive her home."
"He stormed out of here after he argued with Erica about hitting you." Mom picks up my tea and hands it to me again. "What did she mean about her parents?"
I glance at her, wondering if she'll judge Erica even more harshly for who her parents were. "She was adopted by her aunt and uncle and they were drug addicts. Alcoholics, too. She was basically neglected and forced to live in ... one hell hole after another. They spent their food money on getting high and didn't give a rat's ass about her."
"And you went to Nebraska to visit these people?"
"We went to visit their grave, Mami. They died together after a cigarette caught their trailer on fire. I asked her to let me take her back there so she could put her past behind her." My voice breaks now and I start to cry again. "And now I've done the same thing to her that they did."
Mom pulls my head to her shoulder now. It's so far down that it strains my neck and I find myself missing the days that we were eye level. It's hard to be comforted by someone so much shorter than you. She rubs my wet hair and squeezes my hand. "She has no family?"
"She has me," I reply, sniffling. "I don't know how to fix this."
"Apologize." Mom rests her cheek on the top of my head. "She's downstairs warming up dinner for you. Why don't you go talk to her while I call Joel."
When Mom gives me a kiss on the forehead I close my eyes and let it work like a saving grace. It takes effort to get to my feet and go downstairs, but I do it. I find Erica sitting at the island in the kitchen flipping through paperwork. She looks up when she senses that I'm standing there and she has her glasses on again, perched low on her nose. Her blue eyes peer at me over the top of them, raking me from head to toe before she settles on my eyes. I try not to blink so that she can see that the only glassiness that remains in my eyes are unshed tears of bone crushing fear. She should tell me to leave. I wouldn't blame her if she did.
Maybe I should volunteer to leave.
Would she be relieved?
"You need to drink some water," Erica tells me before she turns back to her papers. "Your dinner is in the microwave."
I'm pretty sure that's her way of dismissing me, but I don't move. I can't move. "What are you doing?"
"Research. Webber wants me to try out a new imager that will let me see a heart differently."
"Do you want some help?"
"No." Erica pushes her glasses back up on her nose without glancing my way at all. "Are you going to eat or do you plan on going back to bed?"
I'm saved from answering by my mother's arrival. She smiles at me, scowls at Erica, and says, "Honey, your father's almost here to pick me up. We're staying at the Archfield to be closer to Jasper. Do you - would you like to come with us?"
Erica's giving me her full attention now. I watch her take her glasses off and set them aside and she turns a little on the stool to make it painfully obvious that she's waiting for my answer. I clear my throat and say, "Why would I go with you? I live here."
Mom touches my arm and then the alarm chimes to indicate that the gate is opening out front. My eyes are still on Erica's and she's not blinking. My mother heads back into the living room to let my father in so I seize the moment and say, "Do you want me to leave, Erica?"
"Do you want to leave?" she asks.
"No. I don't."
She shrugs her shoulders and goes back to her paperwork. A horn blows in front of the house and I make a face, going into the living room where my mother is gathering her purse. "Is that Dad? Why isn't he coming in?"
Shoving her leather bag over her shoulder, Mom takes my hand. "He doesn't want to talk to you tonight."
"What?" I start for the door, intent on going outside to speak with my father, but Mom catches my hand. "Mom, he's -"
"Let it be, honey." She pulls me into a hug, dropping a kiss on my cheek. "What you did ... well ... it's the last thing your daddy needed at the moment. He's not handling this thing with Jasper very well and he needed you. We both did ... to explain things, to help us understand the hospital jargon. You let him down and he doesn't want to talk to you until he's had a little more time to get over it."
"He can't just ignore me!" I cry.
"Isn't that what you've been doing the past couple of days? Ignoring everyone and everything?" Mom shakes her head. "If you need me then you call me and I'll be right here. I promise."
She leaves, glancing back at me before she shuts the door. I flop down on the sofa to keep from watching her leave. I can see the headlights of the rental car flash through the windows as my father turns it around and then there's nothing but silence. It's amazing what silence can do to you. I feel like I've been dropped in the middle of nowhere and I can't *hear* anything except my own desperation. I want to scream, I want to smash the crystal bowl on the coffee table, I want to do something, anything to shatter this hopeless quiet.
I don't know how long I sit there, but eventually I hear Erica push the stool back and the refrigerator door opens. A bottle of water appears in front of my face a second later and I take it, but don't open it.
"You're welcome," she says drily. "Are you going to drink it or look at it?"
"Are you going to forgive me at some point?"
"You've been up a couple of hours, Callie. You usually make me jump through hoops for *days* when I piss you off."
"You're stronger than me."
"No. I'm not. What you're feeling right now ... like the silence is going to eat you alive ... that's exactly how I feel when you refuse to talk to me." She slumps down on the couch beside me. "What you've done ... this hurt me more than I have ever been hurt in my life. You could have killed yourself and once again ... I'd lose the person I love, but this time ... it would be YOUR fault and YOUR doing and I'd spend the rest of my life trying to figure out how I failed YOU."
"You have never failed me."
"Then why -"
"I failed MYSELF!" I shout. "I'm the one who put Jasper on the fucking boat that day. I'm the one who MADE him go out when he didn't want to! I'm the one who told Joel to look behind us at Hope because it was so funny that she couldn't ski, but kept trying. It's *MY* fault! I did this to him! I should have died that day! They were so busy trying to stop the bleeding on me that no one jumped in for him fast enough! I should have died! If I had died then they would have left me alone and got him out of the water! It's MY FAULT! And now he could die and I did this, too!"
"Oh god, baby, you didn't -"
"I DID!" I'm crying now. I'm as close to being hysterical as I have ever been and now would be a great time for her to slap me again because I am going over the edge as fast as I can go. "And then I left him, Erica. I left him in the hospital and I went on with my life like I didn't take his! I went back to school and I forgot all about him! You're not the only one who didn't go back home! For TWO YEARS I refused to go back. I couldn't see him. It took hearing him eventually say my name on the phone to make me remember that he existed at ALL because I convinced myself that he died that day!"
"Listen to me -"
"I'm sorry!! I'm sorry that it hurts so much I'd rather sleep through it! He loved me and I - I took his life." I try to get to my feet because nothing would make me happier than running back to bed and hiding under the cover, but she won't let me. "Erica -"
"Stop." She pulls me back down beside her and wraps her arms around me. "This is why you fought so hard for this surgery. You wanted to give him back what you think *you* took from him."
"Callie, accidents happen and that's all it was that day in the water. It was a horrible, devastating accident that you have *no* blame for. And it's okay that you went back to school when it was over and it's *fine* that you didn't go back home for a while." Her hand brushes my hair back so she can see the side of my face. "You did not die that day and you're supposed to keep living, even when it hurts so much that you don't want to. You HAVE to keep living. Look at me."
Lifting my head is physically painful, but I do it. She rubs my cheeks with both of her palms now and says, "When Rachel died ... I checked out for a while, too. I made it through her funeral and then I turned off the phones and stayed drunk for a week. It took me a week to realize that Rachel would want me to be happy and keep going. That's what Jazz wants for you, too. He's happy when you are and if he does die, which I don't think he will, then you have to live enough for the both of you. That's what I'm doing with you, Cal. I'm living so much that Rachel would be *proud* of me. Make Jazz proud of you, baby."
"What if he never comes back? What if he dies and -"
"It will be devastating *if* he dies. You will cry and mourn and never, ever forget him, but you don't get to give up. Because there are people who need you, who love you, and they'll be standing in line to pick you up every single time you fall." Her face clouds a little and tears fill her eyes. "You are stronger than this and it's high time you stop punishing yourself for something that happened fifteen years ago. Do you hear me?"
"I don't know *how*," I tell her, choking on the words. "Help me. Please?"
"Okay ... tomorrow you're going to go to the hospital and see your brother because he's probably going to wake up and look for you."
"No, I don't want -"
"You're going. You're not running out on him again because you'd regret it. And you're not going to hide behind a pain pill to do it. You will be there when they wake him up and if he can't walk again or if he can't speak ... you're going to make him feel like it's okay." She pulls me closer when I start to cry a little harder. "I'll be there with you. Whatever you can't handle ... I'll handle it for you."
"Well, I get pretty high off you all the time. I'm pretty sure I can do the same for you."
I give her a watery smile and she returns it. "I really am sorry, Erica. I didn't even think about your parents when I -"
"I'm gonna let you have this one because you earned it." She leans forward and gives me a soft, sweet kiss. "But this is the *only* time I'll forgive you for abusing yourself like this. Are we clear?"
"Yeah. We're clear."
"I need you, Callie. I really need you more than you will ever know."
"I know. Believe me ... I know." I pull her against me, hugging her close. "Because I need you just as much."
"Will you please eat something now?"
I slide my hands over her back, then around her waist where I lift her shirt just enough to feel the soft skin of her belly. "Make me forget. Please, Erica. Just ... make me forget."
Her blue eyes are like prisms of light when she bites her bottom lip. I take her lack of response as a yes and tug her shirt up a little. I don't yank it off her. Instead, I move off the couch and kneel down, kissing every inch of her that I've exposed. I trace her ribs with my tongue, then do the same for her belly button. I take my time, losing myself in the taste, the texture, and the familiar, comforting scent of her that always drives me crazy. My hands mold around her waist, then slide behind her where I unfasten her bra. I feel her shift a little and glance up in time to see her pull her shirt over her head. Before she can slip her bra over her arms I do it for her, trailing my fingertips in its wake.
Her hands crash into my hair when I take one of her nipples into my mouth and one of her legs slide over my ass, pulling me a little closer. I'm already between her legs, but I yank her to the edge of the couch so her center can press against my waist as I attack her breasts again. "Slow down," she whispers, pulling my face up to hers.
When our mouths meet ... she sets a new pace. Her tongue slowly undulates against mine, making our racing hearts the only swiftly moving current between us. She doesn't break the kiss as she unbuttons my flannel pajamas and I didn't bother with a bra. She lets it fall over my arms and wraps her other leg around me and when she lifts her hips just a little, I can feel her heat against my stomach. Still kneeling in front of the couch, I'm at the perfect level to take full advantage of her chest, but she has other things in mind. "Stand up."
I oblige her and she peels my pants down, taking my panties with them. Now she's in a prime position and she doesn't squander the opportunity. With her face almost even with my sex, she slides a finger against me and leans down just a little to kiss the scar on my leg. I feel her tongue move over it and then against the crease of my leg where she follows it to downward until her tongue replaces her finger, open mouth kissing the slit that is currently aching beyond words.
I watch her every move, parting my legs just a little to give her more access, but she doesn't keep going. Instead, she rises to her feet and unbuttons her own pants. I watch her lower them and kick them aside before I reach for her. Standing face to face and chest to chest she kisses me again and our arms tangle and we cling to one another. When she slips her hands over the globes of my ass, kneading and stroking, I whisper her name and she responds by whispering that she loves me.
That's all I needed to hear.
The only thing that matters in this moment is how well we fit together.
I fall under her spell and I don't even realize that she's maneuvered us into the kitchen until I feel the table against my backside and she urges me onto it. I sit down on the edge and my legs wind around her as she kisses me, then moves to my neck. Taking her time, she skims down my body and the lower she goes ... the lower I go until I'm finally lying on my back and she's sucking at the flesh over my pelvic bone.
She's better than any drug that could erase my pain.
I can't think at all when she rubs her tongue over the place where I most want it. She circles my clit, nipping, sucking, bathing and rubbing. I grip the edge of the table and push up against her face and the new angle gives her just enough of what she needs to insert one finger, then two into my starving flesh. She finds a rhythm and pumps her hand, curling her fingers up against my g-spot. I can feel the ends of her curly hair brushing against the insides of my thighs and the front of it has fallen against my lower belly where is feels like a feather against me. My senses come undone and I've never felt more alive than I do when she reels me in with her tongue and I come harder than I think I ever have.
When she kisses her way back up my body ... I rise with her and by the time she kisses my mouth ... I'm moderately under control. I can feel her hands on my lower back and I don't object when she invites me off the table. But I refuse to wait for whatever destination she has in mind. It takes no coaxing on my part because when I kneel in the floor and pull her leg over my shoulder she doesn't object for a second. As a matter of fact, she brushes her fingers through the top of my hair and grips it, tugging my face back and forth over her as she rides it. She's wet, she's trembling, and she's actually *begging* for me to open my mouth.
I smile and do just that.
I don't have to do much work though. She does it for me, making great use of my chin and tongue ... even my teeth.
When she gets off, she leans back against the wall and I enjoy the view. She looks wanton with her hair mussed and her nipples standing up in tumescent peaks. I draw the back of my hand over my face because let's face it ... she was wet and ready for me ... and use her hips for balance as I get to my feet. She rubs her nose against mine and then hugs me. Using her foot, she pulls out one of the chairs at the table that she just devoured me on and points at it. "You're eating dinner."
"I just did."
She smacks my backside and retrieves the bottle of water we left in the living room. I drain half of it while she heats the food in the microwave again. It's very, very erotic to watch someone cook while their naked ... even if the cooking is really only nuking something. When she takes out the plate and brings it to me ... I make a mental note to ban all clothing in our house. She sits next to me, hands me a fork and I take it, digging into the casserole thing my mother concocted.
Erica rests her chin in her palm while I eat and I have the sinking suspicion that she's about to say something big.
My fears are confirmed when she clears her throat.
I put the fork down and give her my full attention. "What?"
"A lot happened while you were in your drug induced coma."
"Izzie Stevens had a miscarriage."
"Oh my god!"
"That's why I was called in today. That's why I had to leave you. Not that you noticed. You slept through it."
I ignore the barb. "What happened to her?"
"Car accident. Her airbag didn't work properly and she hit the steering wheel. I had to go in and see how badly her heart was damaged."
"Is she -"
"She's okay. Collapsed lung, bruised heart, and a few broken ribs." Erica takes my bottle of water and sips it. "Addison was working on her for a couple of hours. She - well - she had to perform a full hysterectomy."
"Yeah." Erica nods. "And that's not all."
"Alex Karev was with her and ... he didn't make it."
"Karev is dead?" I'm shell shocked. I'm in utter disbelief.
Erica nods. "I was there when Sloan called it. Did you know that Addison slept with Karev?"
"Yeah, I did."
"Mark didn't. He was stunned by Addison's reaction and then we came here and he found out what she had prescribed you and ... well, he basically told her that it was over between them."
It's amazing what can happen in the blink of an eye.
The revolving door of life goes around and around until death reaches in and pulls someone out.
Izzie Stevens has lost her friend. She has lost her baby. She has lost her ability to give life.
No matter what happens with Jasper tomorrow when they wake him up ... I can still wrap my arms around him. I can still feel his breath against my neck and see his eyes light up.
Jazz hasn't gone away.
And I'll fight hard enough for him to keep him in that revolving door with me.
We'll keep spinning ... around and around and around ... because death passed him by this time for a reason.
So, there you go. Jazz didn't die, but Alex did. So did Izzie's baby. And now Izzie has been broken. I warned you all that there was a storyline twist for her and there it is.
And I know this chapter was pretty disjointed but it was intentional because Callie was out of her MIND for most of it.
Next chapter ... Jasper wakes up and we'll find out if he'll walk again. Can he speak? Can he see? Can he hear? And what will happen when they turn the transmitter on for the first time?
Big things are coming.
Oh yes, they are.
*hides now in fear*