Author: Chelle Storey-Daniel
Rating: This part PG
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
George and Callie sat side by side in the waiting room. His brothers were both milking the vending machine for the last of the chocolate while his mother stared at the blank television as if it showed the most compelling film she had ever seen. His father’s surgery had been scheduled for seven a.m. and it was rapidly approaching the three hour mark since they had begun. He wanted to pace, to run up and down the stairwells, maybe even to scream his worry from the rooftops.
Instead, he took Callie’s hand in his and felt instantly better.
Until he looked at her.
Her eyes were red and swollen and her cheeks were still splotchy from the previous night. They had returned to her hotel and, at her request, he had opened the letter and read it to her. The hearing was a little over a week away. With trembling hands, she had taken the letter and read it for herself and then she had fallen apart. She had cried so much and so hard that she had made herself sick. George had held her hair in the bathroom then helped her into the bathtub where he slowly, methodically tried to bathe her pain away. It hadn’t really worked.
She had slept fitfully, tossing and turning and crying out through most of the night. George had clung to her, soothing her, massaging her back when the sobs started again. As worried as he was about his father, he was even more concerned for her. She had barely spoken four words all day and the bottle of water he had bought her sat unopened in the chair beside her. Ronnie walked up and held out a bag of chocolate donuts. "Callie?" he said. "You skipped breakfast."
She took the bag from him, mumbling a soft ‘thank you’ and laid it next to the water. Ronnie glanced at George, who shook his head. When Ronnie walked away, George put his arm around her and kissed her temple. "I love you."
Callie leaned her head against his shoulder. She felt guilty. George was spending too much time taking care of her. He needed to concentrate on himself, his family. As much as she wanted to be strong for him, to stand on her own two feet, she couldn’t. She was too shaken. Seeing Marlie Jones, beaten and stabbed and raped to death, had given her a boost of determination, but the reality of the hearing slapped her in the face. She had nine days to prepare herself to stare the Devil in the face. Only nine days.
"George?" she said softly.
"I’m sorry. I should be the one helping you right now. Not the other way around."
"Helping you helps me." He laced their fingers and pulled her hand up, kissing it. "You really should eat a little something."
Callie closed her eyes, concentrating on the feel of his arm around her, the feel of his thumb tracing circles on her hand. Her chest and back ached from the hysterics she had fallen into the previous night. Seeing the words on paper, having it all spelled out to her, was even worse than Jake telling her about it in person. It made it real. It made it tangible. It made her sick.
She had called Jake from the hospital after viewing Marlie’s body and left a message with his secretary. It was official. She was going to the hearing. It had made so much sense then and she had used the anger she felt to stand tall. Now she wanted to find the nearest closet and hide. Inside, she felt like that thirteen year old girl who had been tied up in the dark, dreading the sound of footsteps and what would inevitably come when the door opened. For four days she had been a hostage, but for years she had been broken.
Dr. Bailey walked into the room, looking serious. George eased away from Callie and stood, trying to read Bailey’s expression. "How is he?" he finally asked.
Miranda waited for the others to join them, then she broke into a broad, happy grin. "We got it all. The cancer was contained and had not spread to any of the other organs. Mr. O’Malley will still need chemotherapy and regular checks for abnormal cells, but right now, he’s okay."
Callie felt a weight lift from around her heart, but the weight on her shoulders was just as heavy as always. She smiled, joining in the group hug. A second later, Izzie came in, happily hugging George and bragging that she had been allowed to scrub in. She confirmed what Dr. Bailey had said, that the surgery was a success. Callie tensed a little when Izzie hugged her, but for George’s benefit she tried to appear at ease with it.
Everyone waited on pins and needles for Mr. O’Malley to return to his room. When he was finally wheeled in, George explained the tubes and equipment that were attached to him and Callie reassured Louise that it was normal. A stark silence descended over the room, punctuated by Harold’s breathing and the steady beeping of the heart monitor. After an hour, Ronnie and Jerry couldn’t stand it and left to stretch their legs. Callie sat on the window ledge, feeling like an intruder as George spoke softly to his mother, who had begun to cry. She longed to help, but her hands were tied.
When Ronnie and Jerry finally made it back, Louise had calmed down and accepted one of the many snack cakes they had procured from the vending machine.
Callie began to feel a little stir crazy after a while and when Addison opened the door and poked her head inside, she practically ran from the room.
"How is he?" Addison asked, taking Callie’s hand in hers.
"Good. Bailey said they got it all."
"That’s wonderful!" She beamed. "I know this is a bad time, but the landlord called from the apartment. They want us to come over to inspect the carpet and stuff and sign the lease. Before three o’clock."
"Oh, thank god!" Callie exhaled in relief. "Is it wrong that I’m sorta glad?"
"That I have a good reason to leave? Don’t get me wrong, I love being with George and his family, but if they ask me if I want food one more time I may need a padded room. They mean well, they do and I love them for it, but it’s driving me crazy."
"They’re projecting. It’s common for people who are worried about a loved one to fixate on what they perceive to be another loved ones problems."
"The only problem I currently have is that half the vending machine is in that room and they keep coaxing me to eat it."
"Well ... maybe you should eat something."
"Stop it!" Callie checked her watch and frowned. "We need to go shopping, too. I want to be moved in before I fly out for the hearing."
"I got time off for that, by the way."
Callie’s eyes widened. "You what?"
"I’m going with you. I haven’t been back to the east coast in a while and it could be fun. We’ll stay in the brownstone and eat too much takeout and watch a ton of chick flicks."
"Addison, you don’t have to do that."
"Look me in the eye and tell me you wouldn’t be there for me."
With a sigh, Callie shook her head. "Fine. You win."
"Let me go grab my purse and let George know what’s up."
"I’ll be here."
Callie left strict instructions for George to call her if there was any change and apologized for having to rush out. Less than fifteen minutes later, she parked her car in one of the two spots assigned to their apartment number. The parking deck was enormous and Addison walked to the low concrete wall, staring at the view.
"Look at this," she said, pointing at something in the distance.
Callie joined her, smiling a little. "A perfect view of Seattle Grace. As if we don’t look at it enough all day."
Chuckling, Addison followed her into the lobby and nodded her approval. It was beautiful. The carpet was colorful, with swirls and circles that matched the artwork on the walls. There were several large fireplaces that had cozy furniture placed around it and one entire corner contained rows and rows of bookcases stocked with books and magazines. "It reminds me of the hotel," she finally said.
"Just the lobby. Wait until you see the place, Addy. It’s so beautiful."
They had all the paperwork signed, the security deposit and rent paid, and were heading up to their apartment within the hour. Callie led the way down the hallway, which was covered in the same pretty carpet, then stopped in front of a beige door with brass numbers on it. "Eighteen oh two. This is us."
Addison glanced around, bewildered. "There are only two apartments to a floor?"
"Yeah, that way you don’t have anyone right next to you. You’re separated by the hallway and the other three sides are the outside walls of the building. It makes for better privacy."
"Wow." Addison’s eyes widened when Callie opened the door.
"I told you it was impressive." Callie stepped aside so Addison could enter, recalling her own reaction to the place.
The front door opened up to a small foyer with a built in hall tree and bench. The beige tile in the foyer ended into the shiniest, most beautiful hardwood Addison had ever seen. She was tempted to lean down and touch it, but figured she would have plenty of time to do just that when her leg healed. A fireplace with gas logs sat on one wall and the mantle was intricately carved with flowers. The living room was huge and echoed when Addison said, "We’re going to have to buy a lot of stuff."
"Yep." Callie watched her friend closely. "What do you think?"
"I think I love it!" Addison replied, smiling ear to ear. "And I’ve only seen one room!"
They explored the kitchen next. Addison squealed the island that sat in the middle of the room and the wrought iron pot holder than hung directly over it. She opened the gourmet oven, ran her hand over the range and checked out the microwave, all of which was stainless steel. The countertops were granite, flecked with blues and greens and mauves. The breakfast nook had sliding glass doors that opened onto a large balcony, complete with a built in grill and amazing views of Mount Rainier.
They talked about their plans for the dining room, which had a large window seat and plenty of room for a huge table and then explored the bedrooms, which were identical. Both bedrooms were master suites with their own private bathrooms. Both the garden tubs had whirlpools and both rooms had walk in closets that were large enough to be used as a sitting room. A small patio was attached to the two bedrooms as well, enabling you to go from one room to the other easily from the deck.
In the kitchen, Callie pulled out her pen and began the list of what they would need to purchase. "We should try to get as much of this done this afternoon as we can."
"Well, most of the stores are open until nine or ten. I’m game if you are."
They both took a vulgar amount of cash from the bank, agreeing to split the costs down the middle, then they hit the nearest strip mall. Callie’s troubles were pretty much pushed to the back of her mind as she selected her bedroom suite, a gorgeous maple ensemble with a four poster king sized bed. Addison chose a sleigh bed in light oak that had a tall armoire and bench with it. She also chose a large fake palm tree that caused Callie to groan with distaste and hurry into the living room displays.
Callie wrinkled her nose a while later when Addison pointed at an orange, retro sofa with green pillows. "Addison," Callie finally said. "I never liked the Brady Bunch and this looks like theirs. Only worse."
"But it’s Todd Oldham," Addison sighed, but Callie shook her head. "Fine, but you also hated the flowered one, too."
"Do I look like I’m into shabby chic? Do I look like someone who would have a pink sofa?"
"Well, no. But it wasn’t all pink. It was pink and green and yellow."
Callie dry heaved. "What’s wrong with leather? Leather is durable, it smells good, and you can dress it up with all the flowered pillows that your little heart desires and I won’t say a word."
"I did like the brown one. The one with the claw feet."
"So we’re done here?"
"You know, for someone with so much money you sure do hate to shop."
"How do you think I keep all my money?" Callie moved a chair to one side so Addison could pass easily with her crutches.
"Well, I love to shop," Addison smiled as she walked toward the register. "And we have miles to go before we sleep."
After parting with enough money to feed a small colony, they headed to the nearest Linen’s n Things. They stocked up on towels, cookware, and everything imaginable to make their house a home. When the final purchase was made at the end of the day, Addison leaned against the car seat and closed her eyes. "You know what?"
"What?" Callie asked as she navigated through the traffic.
"I think we should have had a housewarming party."
"Because we have so many friends who would throw us one. Or attend."
"Well, there is that." Addison chuckled a little. "You know what else?"
"I think it’s going to be great living with you. I mean, I haven’t had a roommate since college and then I jumped straight into living with Derek, but I remember how fun it was."
Callie smiled at her. "I think it’s going to be great, too. I’m a little worried about some of your more .... odd tastes, but I’m still excited. Freaked out, but excited."
"Hey! Just because you don’t see the reason to put fake plants all over the house doesn’t mean I have odd taste."
"Fake plants, vases, angel figurines and ... wait for it ... Dreamsicles. A world of odd."
"You’re one to talk. Did you or did you not buy a hundred dollar teddy bear just because its name was ‘Georgie’?"
"Okay, you’re officially annoying me."
"I’m officially enjoying it, too." Addison leaned forward and turned the radio on, scanning channels. A popular top forty song began to play. She happily sang along with it, not caring that Callie would probably rag her about it later.
It took her a second to realize that Callie was singing with her. And Callie could *sing*. Callie could sing better than the woman on the radio. Addison practically held her breath while she listened. She had never heard anyone hit all the right notes so effortlessly. If there was such a thing as perfect pitch, Callie definitely had it. "Oh my god," she murmured, turning off the radio. "Sing something else. Just you."
"What? No way."
"Please!? You have an incredible voice."
Callie glanced over at her, then back out at the darkening sky. She had been so comfortable with Addison that she hadn’t thought twice about joining her in song. She had meant it to be playful. No one had heard her sing since Roy Porter. No one. She usually hummed along with the radio, even when she was alone. "I don’t want to."
"Oh come on! Callie! You just did it! And it was incredible."
She had such a tight grip on the steering wheel that her fingers ached. Her pulse felt like it was vibrating in her wrists and her ears began to ring. "I can’t."
"Yes, you can." Addison reached across the console and squeezed her shoulder. "You told me the other day that Roy Porter stole your voice. He didn’t, Callie. Your voice is beautiful and guess what? You need to reclaim it for yourself before you go talk to that parole board in a few days."
"I can’t believe it’s happening so soon."
"That just means it will come and go faster. You won’t have to dwell on it for months beforehand."
"You really are glass half full, aren’t you?" Callie smiled a little.
"I really am." Addison turned the radio back on and stopped at a Bette Midler song. "Time heals a lot of stuff. See? I can even listen to this song, a song that played at my wedding, without feeling anything!"
Callie turned the volume up and said, "Let me hear it, Addy!"
Addison sang, horribly off key.
Callie sang as well, the words flying from her throat like a thousand tiny daggers, releasing some of the pain she’d held onto for so long.
"So where did Callie go?" Izzie asked, holding out her soda.
George took it and drank deeply before he handed it back. "Callie and Dr. Montgomery are getting a place together. They had to sign the papers."
"She left you for an *apartment*? Right when your dad came out of surgery? That’s pretty low."
"It’s fine," George snapped, then crossed his arms over his chest.
"You don’t sound like it’s fine."
"I’m just tired of you always seeing the worst in her."
Izzie gasped. "I do not!"
"You would be so surprised if you would take the time to get to know her. She’s incredible, Izzie. She’s funny and kind. She’s got the biggest heart and that’s amazing considering the life she’s had."
"Oh yeah. Growing up filthy rich, with a celebrity for your mother must have been horrible. I mean, yeah, Olivia Archfield is a massive bitch, but I bet Callie never had to ask for anything. She had the silver spoon since birth."
"Unbelievable." George shook his head. "You would think that."
"What the hell else am I supposed to think?"
"I’m your best friend. I never said one word to you about you falling in love with a patient. I helped you when you cut his LVAD wire and I congratulated you when he asked you to marry him. I laid on the bathroom floor with you when you were hurting and I tried to help you in any way that I could. And not once have you made a real effort with Callie. What are you supposed to think? Whatever you want since you don’t even try!"
"I invited you both to dinner so don’t you dare say that! I came into the bathroom when she was crying and I genuinely felt like -"
"You invited us to dinner because you wanted to grill her about her mother. You suddenly wanted to know her because of who her mother is!"
"George!" Izzie shot to her feet, furious. "That’s bullshit! Addison yelled at me before Olivia Archfield ever came to the cafeteria. She made me see that you guys are happy and that maybe I haven’t been very fair."
"That’s an understatement. You decided to hate her from the moment I started seeing her."
"I just didn’t think she was your type. She’s too forceful, too crass. I just felt like you guys were the odd couple."
"Well, we’re not."
"Good! I’m glad you’re happy. I really am. And I’m willing to try, George. I’m really going to make an effort." She sat back down beside him. "So, tell me about the life that she’s had."
"You want me to get to know her and understand who she is so tell me!"
He shifted a little in the seat so he could look her in the eyes. "You swear to God that you won’t repeat this? To anyone?"
Her eyes widened, but she nodded her head. "Yeah, sure."
Taking a deep breath, he told her everything. He told her about the affair that Olivia Archfield had with Miguel Torres. He told her about the rape. And then he attempted to describe Callie’s house on the mountain, but barely did it justice. Izzie remained perfectly quiet, but she shifted uncomfortably during the worst of the details. When he finished the tale, he fished into his pocket and pulled out the ring.
Izzie’s jaw dropped open as she fingered the heart shape stone. "Oh my god."
"Is it bad that it was her grandmother’s ring?"
"No. That makes it sentimental. And it’s amazing that Pop gave it to you. He must really, really trust you to give you something like that." Izzie handed it back to him. "Callie’s gonna love it."
He stared down at it, smiling a little. "I have to come up with the perfect way to ask her."
Denny’s proposal flitted through her mind and she laid a hand over her heart, hoping to still the ache. "Just ask her, George. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Just ask her."
He slipped the ring back into the small blue satchel and slid it back his pocket. "I hope she says yes."
"She will." The smile she gave him was actually genuine. "Congratulations, by the way."
George pulled her into his arms and hugged her. Tight. He wanted to believe more than anything that Izzie would give Callie a fair chance, but history caused him to have doubts. He loved them both. Izzie was the best friend he’d ever had. She had stood up for him, been there for him, made him laugh when he didn’t think he ever could again. But Callie had his heart, body, and soul. She was his other half and he never felt whole unless she was nearby. Hearing her laugh, watching her smile, holding her close ... those things made him happier than anything in the world.
"Thank you," he finally said, letting her go.
Izzie chewed her bottom lip for a second, then said, "I’m really sorry for what happened to Callie and what she has to deal with at the hearing. If you need anything just let me know. And I won’t say anything to anyone. You can trust me."
"I know." He squeezed her hand, grinning at her. "Thank you."
George’s cell phone rang and he smiled when Callie’s name appeared. "Hang on," he said to Izzie. "Hey," he said into the receiver.
"Hey! How’s your dad?"
"They’re going to keep him under for a few days because of the breathing tube, but his vitals are strong. How’s the apartment?"
"Perfect! I can’t wait for you to see it," Callie replied. "They’re delivering our furniture and stuff tomorrow so I have to be there pretty early. You wanna come with me for a while? Then we can go back to the hospital when they leave."
"Sure, I’d love to."
"Where are you?"
"I’m still here with Dad. I’m going to be heading home soon, though. You want to come over?"
Callie hesitated for a second before answering. "Uh, I can’t. I have to pack. You’re more than welcome to come to the hotel, though."
George was aching for his own place, hoping for his own bed. He weighed his words carefully.
When George didn’t answer right away, Callie quickly added, "Maybe you should go ahead and stay home tonight. I’ll be up late getting everything ready for the move and you need to rest. I’ll stop by the hospital tomorrow before I go meet the delivery crew."
"Are you sure?"
"I love you. I’ll call you later tonight, okay."
"That’s fine. I love you, too."
"George and Callie sittin’ in a tree." Izzie put her arm around George’s shoulder when he hung up. She couldn’t help but feel happy for him. As much as it hurt to share him, to know that he had found with Callie what she had lost with Denny, she knew she had to let him go. She had to support him, be a good person. "There are leftovers at home. Baked chicken, home made bread, and potato salad."
"And muffins. Duh!" Izzie squeezed him a little. "You’re so in love."
"I keep thinking that I must have done something right. She loves me, Izzie. Me! And I love her so much it’s scary."
"I’m gonna puke."
"I don’t like gristle."
Addison called Alex from Callie’s car, telling him that he was officially hired for moving in day. He protested at first, then relented when she informed him that watching men work up a sweat made her very, very horny. They flirted for a few minutes and she was so good at it that she convinced him to swing by the UPS Store and pick up a few boxes. When she flipped her phone shut, grinning from ear to ear, Callie poked her finger in her throat and pretended to vomit.
"Stop that!" Addison told her. "Georgie! Oh Georgie! My loins ache for you! I love you so much it hurts! Oh, Sweet Georgie!"
"Just for the record .... I have never and will never called him ‘Georgie’."
"In the throes of passion, I bet you scream it."
"Don’t picture me in the throes of passion. I love you, but not that much."
Addison smiled at her. "I love you, too, Cal."
"Is it going to be okay with you if George spends the night sometimes?"
"Of course!" she replied. "Just so long as you don’t start screaming ‘Georgie’ at four in the morning."
"Is it okay with you if Alex stays sometimes?"
"Of course. Just so long as you don’t start screaming ‘Al’ at four in the morning."
"Al? That sounds like an old man and he is anything but an old man." Addison traced her bottom lip with her finger, conjuring the image of him braced against the wall with his back to her. "I really like him, Callie."
"I mean, he’s nothing like what I thought he would be. He *paints*. He *cooks*. He’s the best lover I’ve ever had and he’s so considerate of my needs." She ran a hand through her red hair. "We almost broke up the other night."
"That has to be a record. Why?"
"He said forever. Like, in reference to us. And it freaked me out. I mean, it’s soon right? It’s too soon to even think about long term."
"Dude, I told George I loved him after like, four dates."
Callie nodded. "You know, Addison, in our profession we see firsthand how short life can be. How one instant can steal the dream, can steal forever. If you think that Alex is worth hanging onto then hang on with both hands. If you both aim for forever then it could really happen."
"It’s too soon."
"Later isn’t a guarantee. Seize every moment like it’s your last."
"You’re so wise, Yoda."
"Smart, I am. Learn much from me, you will."
They were still joking as Callie drove through the intersection. A large SUV ran the red light and plowed into the driver’s side of Callie’s car, just behind her door. The impact was hard enough to spin the car into oncoming traffic, where it was hit again, this time in the rear end. When they finally came to a stop, the front of the car was resting on a fire hydrant that was shooting water into the air, Addison let out the breath she had been holding. The airbag had opened, slamming against her and the seatbelt had dug into her chest, but she felt okay.
Callie was *not* okay. Her airbag had not deployed. She was slumped over the steering wheel and Addison quickly unfastened her belt and pushed herself up on her injured knee. It hurt, it hurt bad, but she eased Callie back, checking her pulse. Someone yanked the passenger door open and Addison shouted, "Call 911! Now!" She grabbed Callie’s wrist, trying to locate her heartbeat. "Don’t you do this to me, Callie! Don’t you dare! Do you hear me!? Breathe, god dammit! Breathe!"