Author: Chelle Storey-Daniel
Rating: This part PG with implied NC17
Summary: Making amends can be the hardest thing in the world. But sometimes the chaos is worth it.
Pairings: Alex/Addison George/Callie Meredith/Derek implied
The horse George was riding had a soft, gentle gait and the saddle was comfortable. He followed Callie, watching as she maneuvered Apollo upward through a rocky gorge. Both horses were sure footed and content to do all the work. Several of the views thus far had been incredible, but when he commented, Callie told him that he hadn’t seen *anything* yet. He was excited by the prospect. He glanced at her straight back, watching the way she rode the saddle so easily, her body rising slightly with the horse’s tempo. George mimicked her movements and felt instant relief on his lower back which has started to sting. He had never been an avid rider and would probably pay dearly later on.
Callie drew Apollo to a stop and waited for George to pull up alongside her. "It gets a little rough right here so hang on tight, okay?"
George held onto the saddle horn and nodded. "Define worse."
"Stay low? Are there tree branches?"
"Not really," Callie smiled at him. "But it’s almost straight up the side of the mountain. Put your body as low to her neck as you can and hang on for dear life. She knows the way, but if you upset her balance you’re going to fall backwards, she’ll land on top of you, and it will be a very long wait for the rescue squad to fly up here and get you."
"Oh god," he whispered, shaking his head. "Did I mention that I’m not very good at this horse thing?"
"You’ll be fine." Callie clicked her tongue and Apollo dug his hooves in, beginning the climb. "Let’s go."
"Stay low," he repeated, his heart rate increasing a little. Siren followed without much coaxing on his part and he stayed so low that his cheek rubbed against her neck repeatedly. The path they were now on was barely three feet wide and one side dropped off to the most jagged cliffs he had ever seen. He quickly moved his face to the other side of the horse, where the only view was the rocky side of the mountain. If he had extended his arm, he could have touched it. It was a bumpy ride and when the horse changed her angle, hopping upward a little, he closed his eyes. If going up was this bad he could only imagine what coming back down would be like. One wrong move and both the horse and rider would fly over the edge.
He opened his eyes when Siren’s body leveled out. Sitting back up in the saddle, he glanced around him, stunned at what he was seeing. The flat top of the mountain was grassy. Except for several rock benches and a small shack a few yards to the left, there was nothing but the breathtaking view. In the distance, Seattle rose up and he felt like he was on top of the world as he stared down at it.
"It’s worth the ride, right?" Callie had left Apollo to graze in the distance and stood next to George, scratching Siren’s nose.
He nodded. "It’s gorgeous."
She waited for him to clumsily dismount, hiding the smile when his foot got stuck in the stirrup, and he almost fell. She grabbed his elbow and steadied him, then quickly said, "You want something to drink?"
George felt a little odd to be on his own legs and stretched. "Did you pack something?"
She pointed at the shack. "It’s stocked."
"Of course it is. You guys don’t do much roughing it up here."
"What do you know about roughing it?" She took his hand in hers as they walked across the field.
"My dad used to take us camping. Real camping. *Manly* camping. No electricity, running water, or toilets."
"I’m sure you loved it."
"I’m sure I hated it," he replied. "But if my dad pulls through this I’m going ask him to go again."
"*When* he pulls through you could bring him here."
George shook his head. "Harold O’Malley has never and would never ride a horse."
"Which is why you could bring him in a truck. There’s a side road that comes up here. We’ll go back home that way."
He stopped walking and glared at her. "Then why on earth did you bring me up a pig trail that could have killed us both?"
She shrugged, grinning a little. "Because I wanted to see what you were made of."
"Oh yeah? How’d I do?"
"You get an A for effort. An A for being a good sport. And an A+ for being so damn cute." She kissed him. "Admit it. You had fun."
"It was *okay*." He pulled her in for another kiss. "Actually, any minute that I can spend with you is more than okay. I love you."
"I love you, too," she replied, wrapping her arms around him. She let her head rest on his shoulder and then smiled when Apollo gently nudged her with his head. "Someone’s either jealous or ready for a sugar cube."
Together, they walked into the shack. On the outside it was rustic and quaint. The inside could be described much the same, but it was definitely comfortable. There was a bear rug in front of the fireplace and two recliners on either side. There were mounted deer heads, fishing rods, rifles and a ton of leather bound books. He glanced at the pictures on the wall, then moved closer to get a better look. Callie was in a majority of them, riding horses, dressed in full equestrian gear right up to the little helmet on her head.
Callie pulled two long necked beer bottles from the refrigerator and opened them, handing him one. "My grandfather loves to take pictures of me riding. That’s Apollo’s father, Zeus, in most of these."
"You were in competitions?"
"Yep." She pointed at the other side of the room where a trophy case was laden with ribbons and trophies. "Pop used to keep all this in the main house, but I convinced him to move it out here. I hated having strangers looking at everything. It should be family, you know?"
"You should be proud of your accomplishments." He zeroed in on a photo of her standing next to a memorial cross and frowned when he saw the name. "So what happened to Zeus?"
"Old age." She held up a small bag of sugar cubes. "Wanna make a couple of friends for life?"
They walked back into the yard and both horses cantered from the distance, trying to arrive first for the treat. George pulled a cube from the bag and held it up between two fingers. Callie quickly took it from him and opened his hand, laying the cube in his palm. "You’ll draw back a nub if you try to hold it like that."
"They’ll bite me?"
"For sugar? They’d trample you to death."
Apollo arrived first and quickly took the sugar. George held out a cube to Siren, who was lifting her feet and stomping in anticipation. When the cubes had been doled out evenly, George stuffed the empty bag in his pocket and was almost knocked off his feet when both horses nuzzled his face, his neck.
"Told you. Friends for life." Callie caught Apollo’s reigns and pulled him away from George, slapping him lightly on his flank. He loped off and Siren followed, both their tails swishing with contentment. "Ready for that sunset I promised you?"
He held out his hand and they walked together to the bench that faced west. Sitting next to one another, they watched as the sun’s brilliant yellow rays begin to bleed into oranges and pinks. The sky was awash with color, covering the mountain with a fiery canopy that slowly receded over them inch by inch. The city in the distance was bathed in shadow as the sun began to sink into the horizon, seemingly swallowed up by the earth. When dusk descended on the mountain top, the temperature changed almost immediately, but neither Callie nor George moved from their spot.
"And she sleeps," Callie finally said, her voice a whisper.
"I have never seen anything like that before in my life," George replied softly, realizing that he had been holding his breath. "Thank you for bringing me here. Not just here, but to meet your family and for letting me share your secrets. It means a lot."
"It does mean a lot. I’ve never been the kind of person who needed someone else, you know? I was perfectly content to be alone, to see and do things by myself. I never expected to feel this way." She turned to face him. "It scares me. How my world stops when you look at me. I want to tell you everything, share everything, and let you see everything. And it scares the crap out of me because I don’t know what will happen at the end of the day."
"This will happen." He took her hand in his. "At the end of the day the sun will go down and I’ll be right beside you just like I am right now. I want you like I’ve never wanted anyone before. I want all of you. I want to know all of you. And nothing will change that."
In the distance, the horses whinnied, rearing, and Callie frowned, tilting her head to one side. A steady thumping grew progressively louder and she stood, moving to the edge of the cliff. A black helicopter rose in front of her, blowing her hair straight up, sending plumes of dust billowing around her. She covered her face, staggering back from the edge and George caught her. As the helicopter rose higher, flying directly across the mountain top, she saw the inscription on the side and groaned. "Are you sure about that?"
"Sure about what?" he called over the receding sound of the helicopter.
"That nothing will change."
"My father’s here."
Izzie put the finishing touches on the baked chicken and checked the clock. It was almost time for dinner and she could hear Meredith and Derek giggling like idiots as they set the table. It hurt her heart to think that Denny would have been released from the hospital by now. He could have been sitting at the counter, watching her cook, maybe even helping her. She had cooked for him once before. Nothing fancy, but he had complimented her as if she had presented him with a seven course meal. Of course, he was on a steady diet of hospital food at the time, but she smiled when she remembered the way he had rubbed his belly after he had eaten his fill.
Missing Denny never got any easier. When she heard a heart monitor flatline at work, it was Denny. When she heard someone gasping for air, it was Denny. When she passed the room he had died in and glanced inside, no matter who lay in the bed, it was Denny. He was everywhere all the time. She was grateful that he was with her, but the sadness that accompanied those memories was a lonely companion. She worked. She smiled. She even found herself laughing more and more lately, but alone in bed at night, every night, she hugged the sweater she had given him and cried.
"It smells amazing," Meredith said as she came into the kitchen. "Can I help?"
Izzie checked the clock again. "Can you call George? I expected them to be here by now."
Meredith picked up the phone, but shook her head a minute later. "Voice mail."
While she stirred the macaroni, Izzie listened to the message that Meredith left and sighed. Her thoughts went to Callie, who had been so visibly shaken by her mother’s appearance at the hospital that Izzie had genuinely felt sorry for her. She didn’t care very much for Callie, she never had, but having mother issues of her own had caused her to feel uncharacteristically protective of the other woman. She added the cheese to the macaroni and sighed. "You know," she said, "I used to watch Olivia Archfield on Spencer’s Pass when I was a kid and I wanted her to be my mother."
Meredith leaned on the counter, stealing one of the dinner rolls. "I loved that show."
"She’s a bitch, though. Totally ruined my mental image." Izzie moved the rolls, lest Meredith decide to ruin her dinner. "Did you see Callie’s face? She was devastated."
Chewing thoughtfully, Meredith nodded. "I felt so bad for her."
"And she was *crying* in the bathroom. Enough to turn like, red." Izzie wrinkled her nose. "It was actually kinda pitiful."
Meredith grinned. "My, my. If I didn’t know any better I’d think that maybe you were willing to give her a chance."
Izzie stopped mixing the macaroni. "I’m not saying I want to braid her hair. I’m saying that maybe her extreme weirdness is suddenly a little more understandable."
"And George loves her. Weirdness and all." Meredith finished off her roll. "As much as it pains me to admit this ... Addison was right, earlier. Callie isn’t that bad. Yeah, she naked peed and yeah, she probably would have broken every bone in my body if you hadn’t stopped her when you did, but she also tries. You know?"
"I’m willing to stop hating her. I’m not going to love her, but I’ll tolerate her. For George." Izzie poured the mac and cheese into a serving dish and glanced at the clock again. "And speaking of Addison ... did you know that she’s apparently dating Alex?"
Meredith’s eyes widened. "What?"
"Yeah. Mark Sloane told me he saw them making out in the cafeteria."
"That’s who she brought lunch for?"
"Apparently dislocating someone’s knee is considered foreplay by *some* people." Izzie took the chicken out of the oven and set it on top of the stove. "Not that I care. Alex burned his bridge with me a long time ago, but he just kissed me a couple weeks ago."
"I told him that I wasn’t ready to go there and apparently he’s decided that he’s not ready to wait."
"Do you want him to?"
"No!" Izzie crossed her arms over her chest. "Why would I want to be with someone who acts like Sloan’s mini-me? First of all, he wants to go into plastics which sets women back about a million years every single time someone gets a fake tit and second, he’s a slut ... just like Sloan. I’m not going to be with someone who spends their life making women look more and more like Barbie dolls."
"Okay, I’ve seen the Bethany Whisper photo spread. No offense, but *you* looked like a very sexy, very naughty Barbie doll. Bedroom Barbie. Thigh High Barbie."
"Shut up," Izzie replied, grinning a little.
"Are you going to say anything to Alex?"
"Like what? Congrats on screwing Addison Montgomery? Does she know you had syphilis?"
"You’re very bitter."
Izzie’s mouth dropped open. "Mark Sloan said that same thing to me earlier."
"Well, in this case I have to agree, but it’s understandable. You’ve been through a lot. Not just with Denny, but with Alex. Alex hurt you."
"I am not bitter!" Izzie pulled her lips back, exposing her teeth. "See? I’m so happy that I’m growing smile lines as we speak."
Derek came into the kitchen holding a piece of paper in his hand. "Did you guys see this?"
Meredith accepted the note and read it. "Looks like it’s just us tonight. George said that something came up."
"Now I’m bitter." Her temper was hard to check, but somehow Izzie managed to hold her tongue and not say the first thing that came to her mind. Her first instinct had been to suggest that Callie was keeping him away out of spite. Izzie took a deep, calming breath and handed Meredith the basket of bread. "And I’m over it. That just leaves more for us."
Addison was curled against Alex’s side, listening to his soft, even breathing. His bed was comfortable, covered in blue linens, and her head was pillowed on his arm. He had thoroughly sated her body in every imaginable way. It amazed her how well he had come to know her erogenous zones in such a short span of time and he was able to hit every single one of them. She shifted slightly at the memory and he pulled her closer, mumbling her name.
When he didn’t wake up, she almost breathed a sigh of relief, then felt guilty. She enjoyed being with Alex. She loved getting to know him, touching him, laughing with him. He was smart, fun, and incredible in bed.
But he had said the dreaded ‘f’ word. No, not that one. That one she could have dealt with. He said the only one that was worse.
She wanted to bolt from the bed and run out into the night, but he would catch her. Even if her leg hadn’t been injured, he would have caught her ... because part of her wanted him to. Another part of her, however, wanted her to end it now, before she fell completely under whatever spell he was casting on her. She craved him, thoughts of him consumed her, and it wasn’t something she was prepared for.
She rested her hand on his chest, feeling his heart beat and it was enough to break her own. She rubbed down his stomach, praying that she could find the words to say what she knew she must. If she didn’t end it now ...
"Are you trying to seduce me again?" Alex asked, stilling her hand as it tickled over the hairs beneath his navel.
Addison pulled away and sat up, holding the sheet over her chest. "No."
He sat up behind her, kissing her shoulder, then her back. "You need something?"
You, she thought. I need you. Instead of saying that, she shook her head. "No."
"Is your leg hurting?"
"Okay, this is deja vu. Didn’t we just have this conversation at dinner?"
"We had a lot of conversation at dinner." She eased to the edge of the bed and swung her legs over, grimacing at the pain that sliced through her. She hated that she couldn’t flee. She hated that she would have to struggle into her clothing and wait for him to bring her crutches.
Alex watched her fumbling with her panties and stood, moving around the bed. He kneeled at her feet, taking the underwear from her hand. "Wanna tell me how I’ve managed to piss you off?"
"I’m not pissed." She held out her hand. "Give me those."
He tossed them over his shoulder, further across the room and shook his head. "What the hell is wrong with you?"
She avoided his gaze for as long as she could, but he finally gripped her chin, forcing her to look at him. "Alex, please. I - I just need to go home."
"Okay." He didn’t move, didn’t offer to let her rise. "Just as soon as you tell me why."
A tear slipped from her eye and she angrily brushed it away. "I don’t think we should keep seeing each other," she blurted, then put her hand over her mouth. "I’m sorry."
His only reaction to her words was a distinct tightening in his jaw. For several long seconds, he kept his eyes on her face. Wordlessly, he finally stood and retrieved her panties then grabbed the rest of her clothing, dropping it on the bed next to her. She watched as he stalked out of the room. When he returned a moment later, carrying her crutches, she had not moved an inch, had not even begun to dress. He propped the crutches against the end table and kicked her shoes, hard, toward her.
"I’ll go to the other room so you don’t have to ‘keep seeing me’."
"Wait." She felt completely exposed and pulled one of the pillows into her lap, hiding her nudity. "I want to explain."
"You don’t know what you want!" he shouted. "You’re going to tell me that it’s not me, that it’s you. You’re going to tell me that I’m a great guy and that you’ve had a good time and *I* don’t *want* to hear it."
She bit her bottom lip. That was exactly what she had planned to tell him. "Okay! I won’t say that."
"Do you *want* to tell me what I did wrong?"
"You didn’t do anything wrong. And that’s the problem. You’re like the perfect man and you say the perfect things and everything is just too damn perfect, Alex." She brushed away the wetness on her cheeks. "It’s going to be a perfect mess if we don’t stop it now."
"Great! I had to fall for the only woman alive who bitches because things are too good!"
"Don’t fall for me!"
"It’s a little too late to tell me that, Addison! What the hell is wrong with you?"
"What the hell is wrong with YOU?" she shouted, leaping from the bed. She cringed and quickly took the weight off her leg, swearing at the pain. "You said ‘forever’! You can’t say forever on the third date and you can’t -"
"Maybe I knew it was forever the first time I saw you! The first time I heard you speak! The first time I smelled your perfume and your hand brushed mine in surgery! Did you think of that?!" He paced the length of the room and stalked back toward her. "This isn’t our third date! Whatever is happening between us has been happening for months and I never believed for one second that I could have a chance with you so I didn’t pursue it! But damn it, Addison, I’m pursuing it now! I want to be with you! And you’re too mule headed and stubborn to admit that you *want* the same thing!"
Her mouth opened, a perfect ‘o’. "I am neither stubborn nor mule headed, Karev! How dare you say that!?"
"How dare you!? You come here, you eat dinner with me, you have sex with me several times and then you spring this on me? What am I supposed to say!? What should I say right now? What? WHAT?" He turned away from her. Her tousled hair made him want to drive his hands through it. He pressed his palms against the wall, leaning his head against the cool surface. "Did you take the hotel cab here? Or did you drive?"
She stared at the hard lines of his naked body, the swell of his backside, the muscular curve of his thighs. With his arms extended, he looked like he was waiting for someone to whip him across the back. Maybe he felt that way. She certainly did. The realization that she wanted him, wanted a relationship with him, hit her hard in the gut and pushed the air from her lungs. She wanted him. She wanted him in the forever kind of way. Her chin trembled and she reached for her crutches. She didn’t know what would happen if she did it, but she knew that she would die if she didn’t touch him. She quietly walked across the floor and leaned her head against his shoulder. "Is it too late to take it back?"
He turned suddenly and knocked the crutches out of her hands. When she gasped and stumbled, he gripped her upper arms and spun them. Her back hit the cool wall and her eyes widened. He glowered down at her, breathing hard. "I am not your toy, Addison. I don’t play games. I don’t jump through hoops or engage in little mind trips. You’re either in or you’re out. And that’s it."
"I’m in," she whispered. "I’m terrified, but I’m in."
Relief washed through him and he felt the lump in his throat get even bigger. He reached up, pushing her hair behind her ear. The feel of her instantly calmed him."You scared the hell out of me so we’re even."
"I don’t want to want you this way. So help me God, Alex, if you hurt me-"
He lowered his head, capturing her mouth with his. He lifted her easily, his strong arms around her waist. She wrapped her good leg around him and he lifted the bad one, cupping her behind the thigh. When he pushed up into her, she was more than ready and threw her head back, keening his name. He kissed her neck, nipped at her ear, and picked up the pace, angling her so he could go deeper.
Addison couldn’t tear her eyes from his. She saw the hurt that still lingered, the tension of his jaw. She wanted more than anything to reassure him, to hold onto him and never let go. "Alex," she whispered, pulling his forehead against hers. "There’s so much I want to say to you."
"You stayed. You don’t have to say anything else." He stopped moving and kissed her, pulling her away from the wall. He carried her, still wrapped around him, to the bed and laid her back against the cool comforter.
Words truly were unnecessary. Their bodies and their needs were all the confirmation they needed.
What they had was right.