Author: Chelle Storey-Daniel
Rating: This part PG
Summary: A couple of people find out about Alex/Addison. George gets to see for himself why Callie guards her past so well.
Pairings: Alex/Addison George/Callie Meredith/Derek implied
Callie held off on the nervous breakdown she felt compelled to have. She sequestered herself in the corner of Harold’s room and attempted to interact with George’s family the way she had always done, but she fell short. Thirty minutes into the visit, Louise placed her hand on Callie’s forehead to check for fever, telling her that she looked ‘flushed’. Feeling considerably more than ‘flushed’ or ‘feverish’, Callie excused herself and headed into the hallway to make a call.
"My mother is in town," she said, when her grandfather answered.
"Yes, I know," he replied.
"How do you know?"
"She called me yesterday and told me that she was visiting."
"And you didn’t feel this warranted a phone call? A warning? Smoke signals? A burning carcass in front of my door? A padded room for me? Something?"
"Why didn’t you tell me about the hearing?"
Callie closed her eyes for a second, leaning back against the wall. "I didn’t want to worry you."
"It’s my job to worry, honey. Do you need a lawyer? I can get Kenneth to-"
"I’m not on trial, pop. They just want me to tell what happened so the parole board will get the full impact."
"I know what it is. Your mother seems to think that you aren’t planning to go."
"I don’t know what I’m planning."
"Callie, I was there in the aftermath. I saw what this did to you. I’m going to support whatever decision you make, but I want you to understand that what you do at this point will haunt you for the rest of your life. If you don’t go and he gets out ... you’re going to spend you entire life wondering if you could have made a difference."
"And what if I do go and he gets out anyway? Pop, do you know what that would feel like? That would be like them telling me that my suffering isn’t important anymore. That what he did to me wasn’t horrific enough to keep him there. I haven’t forgotten what it was like on the witness stand. They made me feel dirty."
"That’s because they were in charge. This time *you* are in charge."
"I’m scared." Callie ran a hand over her face. "And my mother being here isn’t improving my mental status. She makes me want to gnaw my wrists open and take a warm bath."
"That’s not funny, princess."
"It wasn’t supposed to be."
"Listen, sweetheart, I’m at home tonight. Why don’t you come on out to the house and we can figure something out."
"Mom won’t be there, right?"
"When have you ever known your mother to purposely come to the mountains?"
"You have a point. I may crash there tonight. I could use the fresh air."
"I’ll see you in a couple of hours, honey. I love you.
Closing her phone, Callie turned to see George standing a few feet away. He had clearly been listening and she felt her face turning red and couldn’t figure out why. She was in a relationship. She was supposed to share her life with him so why did it feel like she had exposed something so private to him? "I’m gonna go to my grandpa’s to spend the night."
"Okay. Mind if I come with you?"
Biting her bottom lip, she pondered her words carefully. "You should stay with your family. I’ll call you tonight, okay?"
"I really would like to go, Callie. I’m tired of this place."
"I’m sure your mom -"
"Has her hands full dealing with Ronnie and Jerry. They won’t miss us. I promise. They’re planning on heading out to dinner soon anyway. Ronnie eats so slow they’ll probably be out half the night."
"Which is all the more reason for you to stay here. In case your dad wakes up."
"He’d want me to go with you." George moved a little closer. "Do you not want your grandfather to meet me?"
"No! Of course I want him to meet you! I just - I don’t want you to think differently of me when you see where I come from."
"You could have come from outer space and I’d still want to go home with you. Where does your grandpa live?"
"About an hour out of town."
"I love road trips!"
Alex finished eating the lunch that Addison had brought for him and studied her closely. She had barely touched her food. He had been a little late arriving because of an emergency surgery and figured she was pissed at him for making her wait. Glancing to his left, he could see that several of his coworkers were shooting speculative glances their way. He smiled and nudged her a little. "Are we taking this relationship public?"
She jumped a little, startled from her thoughts. Her mind was still conjuring the image of Callie’s face when she realized that Addison had summoned her mother. If looks could have killed, Addison would be fitted for a toe tag at the moment. "What?"
"You know, Montgomery, if you’re going to invite someone to lunch the least you can do is speak to them. Are you pissed at me?"
Addison shook her head. "Something’s going on with Callie and I made it a million times worse."
Relieved to be able to unload on someone, she gave him a brief synopsis. When she finished, she rested her chin against her palm and exhaled. "So, she said that she isn’t pissed at me, but I think she’s lying."
Alex stared off into space for a second, then shook his head. "Do you realize that I had a lifesize swimsuit photo of Olivia Archfield in my room growing up? Callie’s freakin’ mom taught me everything I ever needed to know about the human body. And that masturbation wouldn’t cause fur to grow in your palms or make you go blind. "
"I will send that to my ‘too much information’ file and continue this conversation as if you didn’t share that with me. What should I do about this trial thing?"
He shrugged. "You can’t do anything. This is something that Torres has to figure out on her own. If you guys push her too much and she goes just because you wanted her to then she’s not going to be a good witness. She’s going to freeze up or fall apart. If you want to help her then listen, but don’t tell her what to do. You don’t want that one on your conscience."
She regarded him, eyebrows raised. "That was actually pretty good advice."
"What can I say? I’m a real Prince Charming."
Truer words had never been spoken, she thought. Never in a million years did she ever expect to find herself falling head over heels for someone like Alex Karev. He was rude. He was crass. And he was the most unpredictable man she’d ever known. She loved it. She loved the thrill of not knowing what to expect, the endless amount of surprises he housed within his soul, and the beautiful heart that beat beneath the tough guy exterior. "Are we a couple?" she finally asked.
"A couple of what?"
She pursed her lips. "You know what I mean! I’m pretty rusty at this dating thing."
"Well, here’s a newsflash. We’ve gone past dating to full blown affair."
"Are we exclusive?"
"Unless you want me to kill someone then yes we are."
Smiling a little, she said, "You don’t strike me as the jealous type."
"You don’t strike me as the type to give me a reason to be." He slid his chair a little closer to hers. "So, I guess I should ask you out for tonight, right?"
"No." She shrugged. "We’re not dating, but if you want to come to my place to resume our sordid affair I’ll be ready and waiting."
"Or you could come to my place for dinner. I’ll even cook."
"You can cook?"
"I can do anything." He snagged her pinky with his fingers and playfully nipped it. "You can even spend the night."
"Can I bring anything?"
"Yourself. And maybe those lacy red panties I saw in your drawer this morning." He reached out and twirled a lock of her hair around his finger. "I got a thing for red."
"I’ll keep that in mind."
In front of anyone who was paying attention, he kissed her. Across the cafeteria, Mark and Derek found themselves standing side by side in the checkout. Both of their gazes were pinned on Addison and Karev. As she pulled back and heartily laughed at something Alex said, the two men glanced at one another, shock mirrored on both of their faces.
Callie didn’t have road rage, per se, but driving the winding roads into the mountains was enough to rattle her cage. Her stomach already felt like eight thousand fireants were parading back and forth, occasionally biting into her. She took a deep breath and maneuvered around a particularly nasty curve before she accelerated again. George had attempted to make conversation, but had apparently given up for the time being. The lack of chatter, while making for a very boring ride, actually allowed her to process her thoughts. Her mind was rapidly hopping from one thing to another: her mother, George’s dad, the trial, Roy Porter and memories of what he had done to her.
George glanced at her, noting the way she worriedly chewed her bottom lip. Hoping to ease the tension, he playfully said, "Are we there yet?"
"I told you it was a long drive."
"Want me to take over?"
"Am I scaring you?"
"Nope." He put a hand on her shoulder, lightly massaging it. "What are you thinking about?"
"I should have brought gum. My ears are popping. They’ll pop the entire time we’re at The Garden, too. I don’t know why Pop refuses to sell this place. It’s so impractical."
"When my grandpa sued my parents for full custody of me, his lawyers instructed him to buy a house to at least give the illusion that he was settled. He couldn’t find anything that he liked, so he had ‘Calliope’s Garden’ built for me."
"What’s it like?"
"Exactly how you’d picture a design from an old man who has too much money and too much appreciation for Greek mythology. My mom named me Calliope for him, because that’s his favorite muse, and he couldn’t convince my grandmother to call my mother that."
"You haven’t mentioned your grandmother."
"She died before I was born." She made a steep turn onto another road, this one gravel, and pulled over. "We’ll have to go into four wheel drive from here."
George watched as she hit a couple of buttons. "How did you get back and forth to school from up here?"
"If the road washed out I took the four wheeler to the bus stop, straight down the side of the mountain. Any other time I drove my truck. The school is just over that rise." She pointed to the right. "It’s about thirty minutes from the house."
"So we *are* almost there."
She nodded at him. "Almost."
"Does your grandfather live alone?"
"Nah. Chloe lives with him. My old nanny. They think I’m too stupid to realize that they only sleep apart when I’m here. Chloe pretends to use the Autumn room, but I was prowling in there a few years ago and none of her clothes were in the closet. They were in my grandpa’s closet. If it makes them happy to let me believe that she lives there for shits and giggles then I’ll keep on playing dumb."
George gripped the car handle when the road grew bumpier. "Jesus," he muttered. "Now my ears are popping."
Callie gunned the engine a little, sending gravel flying as she turned sharply to the left and began climbing a road that appeared to go straight up. The drop off on one side still got her stomach every time she looked down, even after years of traveling it. "If my grandfather doesn’t sell this place and wills it to me one day ... the first thing I’m doing is paving some damn roads."
George wanted to agree, but he was too busy concentrating on keeping his lunch down. The twists and turns, coupled with the altitude, were rapidly making him carsick. He was about to suggest that they stop and stretch their legs when the road leveled out a little and before them stood the most ornate gates he had ever seen. They were gothic, topped with spears, and the iron spelled out ‘Calliope’s Garden’ in big, looping letters. He watched as Callie rolled her window down and typed a code into the keypad and the gates swung open.
The driveway was bordered on either side by the same kind of iron fencing on the front gate. Several of the balusters had butterfly designs and easily stood twelve feet tall. As he glanced into the open fields that lay beyond the fence, he saw several horses peacefully munching on the plentiful grass. The moment the horses noticed the car, however, they trotted to the fence. Callie pulled the car to a stop and grinned at him. "Want to meet my first love?"
"Sure," he replied, actually grateful for the chance to walk off some of the nausea.
Callie entered the fence at a spot that George never would have suspected could open. A stunning black horse, quite possibly the largest that he’d ever seen, loped to where Callie stood and nuzzled her cheek. He could hear her speaking to the animal in a low voice and smiled. "He’s beautiful."
"This is Apollo." Clicking her tongue, she beckoned the horse forward and watched as George scratched his nose. Apollo gave a contented whinny, lowering his head. She patted him on the neck and said, "I’ve had him since he was a colt. Do you ride?"
"I haven’t in a very long time."
"Maybe we can head out to the cliffs to watch the sun set in a few hours."
"I’d like that."
Callie spoke to the horse again and he trotted off, tail happily swishing. Taking a deep breath, she smiled. "Fresh, clean, mountain air."
"My lungs don’t know what to make of it." George took her hand. "Thanks for bringing me along."
"Don’t thank me yet, George. You’re the only person I’ve ever brought here so I don’t know what to expect. I mean, I know that Pop is going to love you and Chloe will fawn all over both of us, but I don’t know what you’ll think of me afterwards."
"I’m going to think how much I love you. You can show me anything, tell me anything, and that’s not going to change."
Callie stroked one of the other horses who had cautiously approached. "I guess we should go."
George helped her secure the gate and climbed back in the car. "So, Apollo is your first love, huh? I don’t know how to compete with that."
Callie grinned at him as she shifted the car into drive. "Trust me. He’s the one who should be worried."
The driveway was fairly smooth and except for one very hard turn to the right, it was relatively straight. Within minutes, George’s jaw dropped as the full impact of Calliope’s Garden stretched before him. He had seen mansions in his lifetime. On television. In magazines. Nothing he had witnessed could compare to the magical beauty of the home before him, however. The house itself was a hybrid of a castle and a Greek revival.
The siding was mostly stone and there were unbelievably large white columns that ran the length of the front of the house. There were three stories and each of those stories had a deep porch that stretched out to the large rotund pillars. As they drew closer, George realized that the porches all wrapped around the house and there were towering columns around either side, and possibly along the back as well. The gabled roof rose upward to at least two rounded turrets that he could make out and both of those had colorful flags flying from the spears on top.
Callie pulled the car to a stop in the rounded driveway and swallowed hard. George was gazing out the window, wide eyed and speechless. She’d had the same reaction when her grandfather had picked her up at the airport and brought her home. Initially, she had been frightened of the house, saying that it looked like a haunted fairy tale. The gargoyles that stood watch over the porch had invaded her nightmares on more than one occasion. She tried to picture it through George’s eyes now, leaning forward to see what had his attention. One of the gargoyles was turning toward them and she chuckled a little. "There are cameras in them. Motion detected. They start filming whenever someone arrives."
George nodded slowly, turning his attention to the columns. They were not smooth and as he squinted a little, he could see that human silhouettes and vines had been carved all the way to the top of each one, easily forty feet into the air. He briefly wondered how they were kept so clean, how dirt didn’t build in the crevices, but he didn’t ask. After visiting the Archfield Hotel, the wealth of the industry was apparent, but he had never seen anything so rich, so unbelievable in his life. "This place is amazing," he said, noting the intricate designs on the roof of the porches.
Callie let go of the breath she had been holding. She had expected him to say that Calliope’s Garden was ‘garish’ or ‘tacky’. It was hard to imagine anyone finding the overt sexuality depicted in the columns or the vulgar scale of the house anything other than crude. She shut off the engine and reached across the console, taking his hand. "Just remember that this isn’t who I am, okay?"
George kissed her hand, his eyes on hers. "You’ve met my family. I’m nothing like them. There are things about my parents house that will mortify me when you go there. My mother has a collection of dolls that are absolutely ridiculous. They take up every surface in the house and most of the floor. You can’t even walk three feet without seeing some frilly, evil looking porcelain face with those freaky eyes that follow you everywhere. And my dad has decided to offset that by collecting NASCAR stuff. It’s bad."
She smiled at him, grateful that he was trying. "You ready to go in?"
Callie had not packed anything. She had everything she needed and then some at The Garden. She opened the back hatch so George could get his bag and led him up the stairs. The gargoyle turned and followed their progress and she stuck her tongue out at it, knowing that her grandfather would get a chuckle out of it if he viewed it later. The door was unlocked and she pushed it open, stepping aside so George could follow.
The floors were hardwood, polished to perfection. Different stains and woods had been used to create Greek symbols and designs. The foyer opened to a marble staircase that spilled from the upstairs like a welcome mat, easily twenty feet at the base, it narrowed on a second landing and split into two matching sets of stairs that led to different sides of the house. There were statues where newels would have been placed and George paused next to one, marveling at the lifelike quality of the naked bosom.
Callie led him around the staircase toward the back of the house and could hear George gasp when they stepped down into the living room. There were floor to ceiling windows that spanned all three stories and you could see Seattle in the distance, even the space needle. On either side of the living room there were observation decks complete with high powered telescopes. The floor was covered in chocolate colored wood and an enormous rock fireplace had been erected right in the middle of the room. This drew George’s attention and he walked over, running his hand along the stones. The structure was round, but stood on four stone legs and was open all the way around. Dark brown leather furniture formed a circle around the fire pit, which was large enough to roast a huge cow in. He glanced up, following the chimney.
High above his head, he could see two walkways that ran the length of the living room. They connected the two wings of the house. It reminded him of the Archfield Hotel’s open design. You could stand on the balcony of the third story here and call down into the living room the same way you could from the fortieth floor of the hotel. "This is absolutely unreal," he said softly. "Who designed it?"
"Pop," she replied.
"What, honey?" Philip Archfield asked, emerging from a hallway. "Did you call me?"
Callie dashed across the room, flinging herself into the older man’s arms. He held onto her, kissing the top of her head. He was several inches taller and the top of her head nestled perfectly under his chin. "I missed you," she finally said.
"I missed you, too, pumpkin." Pop noticed George then and stepped away from Callie. "You must be George O’Malley."
George shook his hand. "It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Archfield."
"Please," he replied, gripping George’s hand with both of his. "Anyone who has the balls to call my daughter an overbearing devil bitch from hell has earned the right to call me Pop."
Callie chuckled a little when George blushed all the way to his roots. "You called her that?"
"Sorry," George replied sheepishly. "She upset you."
Pop prided himself on being a good judge of character and the boy’s protectiveness of his beloved granddaughter was all the reassurance he needed to trust him. "You kids must be tired after that trip out of the city." To George, he added, "I know how she drives. Did she take your stomach on the way up?"
"Just a little." With an apologetic shrug, George grinned at her.
"Hey! I am a great driver!" Callie protested. "It’s not my fault that we have to live in the middle of B.F.E."
"Don’t think I don’t know what that means." Pop shook his finger at her. "Chloe is in the kitchen trying to act like she’s cooking for our so called President. Why don’t you introduce her to the Silver Tongued Stallion here and show him around the house. I need to make a few phone calls and then we can sit down and enjoy dinner."
Callie led the way to the kitchen and wrapped her arms around a beautiful African-American woman who immediately began to fret over Callie’s weight loss. The two women chattered back and forth for a few minutes and then Chloe noticed George, who had hung back a little. "This is George?" she asked Callie, who nodded. "Come here, child! Let me see your eyes."
He crossed the room and found himself scrutinized for a full minute before the woman finally put her hands on her hips and said, "He’ll do. He’s got fire inside, but won’t burn you."
When George arched one brow, Callie smiled at him. "Chloe thinks that the eyes are the windows to the soul and she thinks that she can look deep enough to see if you’re good or bad."
The woman picked up a towel and swatted Callie on the behind with it. "I don’t *think* anything! I know! It ain’t failed me yet! I called your mama for a snake when she was still a suckling baby."
"What are you cooking?" Callie asked, reaching for one of the lids.
Chloe swatted her again. "It’s a surprise. Now get out of my kitchen before you ruin it!"
Callie kissed her on the cheek and nodded for George to follow her. They retrieved his bag from the living room and headed upstairs on an elevator. They emerged on the third floor and George whistled a little. To their right were the floor to ceiling windows. Another observation area, this one very intimate, dead ended into the glass. The area was equipped with comfortable looking furnishings and a large map of Seattle that took up one wall. He leaned over the railing, staring down into the living room.
His curiosity and awe were inspiring. Callie led him toward her suite of rooms, telling him a little about certain features on the house. Outside her bedroom door, she took a deep breath. "You are about to enter paradise. Everything a person could ever want is just behind these doors."
George couldn’t imagine feeling more impressed than he already did, but he braced himself. The second she flipped the light on, he realized that she was absolutely right. Vintage video games and pinball machines lined the walls of the extremely large front sitting room. A lifesize replica of the Batmobile appeared to have crashed through the wall and when he walked closer to it, he realized that it had been signed by Adam West. "Oh my god! Is that-"
"One of the original cars from the show? Yep."
His wide eyes locked on hers. "Holy shit!"
"I told you ... my dad likes to bring me things from movie sets, right? Well this car was left on some production lot and he had it flown here. Check this out," she said, leading him to the back of the room. "Star Wars stuff!"
George gasped, unable to believe what he was seeing. He reached out, ready to pick up a light saber, but drew his hand back quickly. "That’s really from the movie isn’t it?"
Callie lightly punched him on the shoulder. "Yes, dork! And you have to pick it up to see Steven Spielberg’s signature!"
"To Callie. May the force be with you," he read, surprised at how light it was. Next he let his fingers trail over a Stormtrooper costume, then knelt in front of an R2D2 and jumped a little when it lit up. Callie handed him a remote control and he fiddled with it for several minutes, watching as the little round robot moved back and forth. Setting the remote aside, he moaned when he saw the vintage comic books that rested behind a glass panel. "I feel like I have died and gone to heaven."
Callie was tinkering with one of the muppets from ‘Labyrinth’ and smiled at him. "Geek heaven."
"You get that you’re like the perfect woman, right? I mean, you could have frills and lace and doilies all over the place and instead you have this. This is better than Disneyland."
"You’re the only guy in the world that could possibly appreciate it." She opened another door and motioned for him to follow her. "This is the game room."
"The other room had a ton of games."
"Not like this." She flipped on a light and smiled. The room was painted black and all four walls had large, plasma televisions. Each television was hooked up its own gaming system and two plush swiveling chairs sat in the middle. "Nintendo, Atari, Playstation, Xbox," she rambled off, pointing at each wall as she said it. "The games are behind the televisions."
"This is absolutely surreal."
She opened another door. "And this is my bedroom."
He was unsure of what to expect when he stepped inside, but nothing could have prepared him for it. The round room had a Moroccan theme, right up to the different colored silks that lined the ceiling like a puffy cloud. Vibrant oranges, yellows, and reds accented every inch of the room and the large, round bed seemed to float in the middle. The walls had been lined in the same silk fabric as the ceiling and George reached out, feeling the texture. "Did your grandfather decorate it?"
"Nope. That was all me. It was originally built to look like a fairy tale princess room. We’re in one of the turrets and he thought it added nostalgia or whatever. This entire suite looked like a cotton candy machine blew up in it. The first thing I did was change it. Yellow, pink, and green? Not so much."
George stared up at the chandelier and shook his head. "It’s like something you’d see at a resort somewhere."
"Which is exactly how I feel when I come home."
There were three doors in the bedroom. One led to the largest closet George had ever seen and it was loaded down with Callie’s clothing. She showed him her prom dress (which she made herself) and smiled when he called her Imelda Marcos because of all the shoes. Next, she showed him the bathroom, which had the same theme as the bedroom and boasted a large round tub that had steps leading up to it. The third door led out onto the porch that stretched around three sides of the house, but not the back. The back of the house was solid glass and there was nothing to impede the incredible views it afforded.
Sitting side by side in a cushioned swing, George took her hand. "Thank you for bringing me here."
"Thank you for coming." Callie leaned her head against his shoulder. "When I was a kid, I used to sit in this very spot and dream about the guy that I’d bring home one day."
"How do I measure up to your dreams?"
"You’re better than a dream." She kissed his neck. "You’re real."
A loud, piercing whistled sounded and George covered his ears. Callie sighed and said, "Dinnertime."
He waited for the noise to subside and shook his head. "What the hell? Do you guys try to summon the neighbors."
Callie stood, leaning against the railing. "We summon *them*."
George joined her, staring out at the rolling hills. A few people were emerging from the stable and a couple of men rode up on horses. "Who are they?"
"The technical term would be the staff, but even though we’re not related, they’re family."
Someone shouted, "Hey, Miss Callie! Welcome home!" and she threw her hand up, waving at the small group. "Come on."
"Should I changed clothes?" He glanced down at his dress slacks and fumbled with his shirt, making sure it was smoothly tucked in.
"Hell, no! This house may look fancy, but we’re definitely *not*."