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
Author's Note: I'm sorry for not updating sooner. This went through about four rewrites. (Plus I was helping a couple of other wonderful ladies on their fics)
Dedicated to: ocalliecrusader, for helping me flesh this part out and make it tolerable.
"Callie? Callie, open your eyes!" Addison shook her friend roughly, climbing across the console. She felt it the moment her patella dislocated again. She cried out in pain, shifting her leg quickly to take some of the pressure off. She could taste blood in her mouth, could feel her knee swelling again. But she stayed focused. It took a second, but she located a strong, steady pulse in Callie’s neck. She continued shaking her, slapping her lightly on the cheek. "Breathe!"
Callie coughed suddenly and groaned, reaching up to touch her face. One of the stitches had popped loose and a trickle of blood was leaking down her cheek. "Something’s on my chest," she said in a hoarse voice.
"That’s me." Addison moved closer, yelping as pain laced through her leg. She checked the cut on Callie’s face for herself, then reached into the backseat and grabbed one of the towels they had purchased. Pressing it against Callie’s cheek, she said, "Are you hurt anywhere else? Who’s the President?"
"We don’t have one." Callie took stock of herself, wiggling her toes, bending her legs. "My chest hurts like a bitch. I can’t breathe."
"Look at me. Let me see your eyes."
Callie blinked a few times and focused on Addison, who was covered in blood. "I think your nose is broken, Addy."
Reaching up, Addison felt her face and cringed. "I didn’t even notice. But now that I do? Ow."
"I need air. I can’t breathe."
Addison stopped her when she reached for the door handle. "No. Don’t move around. You were knocked out and until we find out why you need to stay still."
A siren wailed in the distance and Callie nodded, knowing that Addison was right. "What about you? Are you okay?"
"I’ll live." She glanced into the backseat, her eyes resting on the demolished box of pots and pans. "I think it’s safe to say that we’ll be attending Emeril’s cookware funeral, though."
"Damn." Callie shifted a little, unhooking her seatbelt. It fell away in her hand, the impact apparently tearing it loose. A jolt of pain raced through her arm and shoulder and she cried out, lifting her good arm to feel the area. "My shoulder is dislocated. That could have something to do with the fact that my door is now in my seat."
The ambulance arrived, its lights flashing brightly. Addison was helped out of the car by one of the paramedics who rapidly began working to free Callie from the wreckage. After ten minutes, her door still refused to open and the pain in her chest was getting worse. It took some coaxing, but Callie finally convinced the man to let her crawl over the seat. He put a neck brace on her for good measure and did most of the work himself, sliding a back brace under her. When she was lifted into the ambulance, Addison was beside her in an instant, carried by one of the medics.
"I grabbed our purses," she told Callie. "One of the officers is staying with the car until the wrecker gets here. I told him we had some valuables inside."
"God forbid a Dreamsicle gets taken hostage."
"Stop joking! This is not funny! You’re hurt."
"I’m not hurt. I’m uncomfortable. You’re the one who looks like you went a few rounds with Mike Tyson." Callie groaned a little, pulling at the neck brace. "Can I take this thing off?"
"No," the medic replied. "I’m sorry. I know it’s uncomfortable, but it’s a precaution that we have to take."
"I called George." Addison patted Callie’s leg and watched as the medic started an IV in her friend’s arm.
"You shouldn’t have!"
"He would have killed me if no one called him."
"But I’m fine!"
Chief Webber greeted the ambulance and gasped when he saw who was inside. He helped Addison down and shouted for one of the nurses to get her a wheelchair when she stumbled and almost fell. Addison started to protest, but remembered that her crutches were still at the crash site. Callie was wheeled into the hospital while a nurse pushed Addison inside behind her. To Addison’s dismay, they were put in separate rooms. She demanded a pair of crutches and hopped into Callie’s room just as Webber was ordering pain medication and issuing instructions to the nursing staff.
She watched from the corner as several vials of Callie’s blood were taken and a portable x-ray machine was wheeled in. Chief Webber escorted her into the hallway while the x-rays were being taken and asked so many questions that Addison’s brain felt fried long before it was over. Leading her across the hall to her empty room again, he tried to give her pain medicine, which she refused. He confirmed that her nose was indeed broken. He set her dislocated patella without warning her first, which caused her to swear. Loudly. She consented to an x-ray of her own and waited impatiently to be allowed back in Callie’s room.
Alex arrived while one of the nurses was wrapping her leg in a fresh bandage. He practically knocked the nurse out of the way as he hurried forward, gently pulling Addison into his arms. "Jesus, Addison! Are you okay?"
"Yeah," she replied, sounding like she had a head cold. Her nose was stuffed up, but had thankfully stopped bleeding. "My nose is not okay, though."
He pulled back, studying her face. She had two black eyes and her nose was twice its normal size. "It still pretty," he told her. "You took the airbag straight on, huh?"
"Yeah." She explained what happened, hating the way she sounded so congested. She had just finished the tale when one of the techs from radiology arrived to wheel her down to x-ray. It was futile to argue the merits of not having the tests done. She wanted to stay close to Callie, but when Alex threatened to carry her if she didn’t take the wheelchair, she quickly complied.
Alex followed her into the hallway, kissing her lightly on the cheek, and told her he’d be waiting.
George rushed through the ambulance entrance a moment later with Meredith and Izzie hot on his heels. George tried to open the door, but Webber, who was about to go back into Callie’s room, held him at bay. "O’Malley, you’ll have to wait. They’re running some tests."
"How is she?" he asked, trying to crane his neck enough to see what was happening. "How bad is it?"
"They’re running an EKG right now. I’m waiting on her x-rays." The Chief squeezed his arm reassuringly. "She’s hurt, but she’s not critical."
George leaned back against the wall as the Chief went into Callie’s room, rubbing his head. "I hate this."
"Calm down," Alex told him. "She’s in good hands."
"Where’s Addison? Is she okay?" Meredith asked, putting her arm around George.
"Broken nose, couple of black eyes. She’s not feeling too great," Alex replied. "They’ve got her down in radiology."
"So, you and Addison?" Izzie asked, trying to appear nonchalant.
Alex glanced at her. "So?"
"I’m just saying ... that’s a little shocking."
"Why is it shocking, Izzie? Because you think she’s too good for me?"
"What?" Izzie shook her head. "No. I - I just never saw that coming. I mean, I shouldn’t really be shocked because well, you have no problem making out with people that you work with and she slept with *Mark*, but -"
"Stop," Alex snapped. "Before you piss me off."
"All I’m saying is having casual sex with your coworkers can lead to complications."
"It is *not* casual sex. We’re together."
"As in a couple, Izzie."
"A couple of what?" she asked innocently, pretending not to understand.
"Knock it off. I'm serious."
"People, this is a hospital!" George shouted. "Shut up! Just shut the hell up!"
Izzie and Alex both turned and looked at George, shocked at his outburst. They watched as he ran his hands through his hair, making it stand up on end. "George-" Izzie began.
Meredith shook her head at Izzie, holding up a hand to silence her. She reached out and gently touched him on the arm, but George moved away. He took several steps, then slid down the wall, sitting on the floor. Izzie tried to go to him, but Alex caught her arm and pulled her down the hallway, leaving him with Meredith, who was dark and twisty enough to understand.
"George, it’s okay," Meredith whispered, squatting down next to him.
"Do you know what I did when Addison called? I ran all over the house looking for my hospital ID." He tapped his chest where he had pinned the badge. "My girlfriend was hurt in a car wreck and I wasted ten minutes trying to find my stupid hospital ID! Meredith, why the hell did I need it?"
"To hide behind," she replied. "If you wear that badge then you’re Dr. George O’Malley who can fix everything. If you don’t, then you’re just George. And you have to worry and hurt and feel hopeless."
"I feel hopeless. And helpless. I should be in there with her."
Meredith sat down next to him. "My parents took me to Hawaii when I was really young. I don’t remember much about it, just what I’ve seen in pictures, but I do remember that my dad almost drowned. They fished him out of the water and took him to the ER. My mom started barking out orders the second they wheeled him in and she was in the way, telling them how to do their job, telling them that she was a doctor. My dad didn’t care that she was a doctor. He just wanted her there. Sometimes, you have to take the badge off, George. Sometimes you have let the other doctors do the job and just be there."
Taking a deep breath, he nodded. "I have a new appreciation for the people who wait so patiently while we work on their loved ones."
"Sometimes the hardest waits are worth it." Meredith took his hand and squeezed it. "You really love her, don’t you?"
"I really do."
"I’m glad. You deserve someone like Callie. She’s crazy about you. And - for what it’s worth, when she told me about sleeping with *someone* ... she was so guilty and so devastated by it that she said she wanted to tell you. I think she wanted me to help her figure out how and I couldn’t."
"It’s okay," he told her. "I’ve moved on. Besides, you with the breasts ... you make mistakes."
"Ahh, you remember the Meredith-speak."
"Then remember this, George. Callie’s a fighter. I know that first hand." She smiled at him. "She’s not gonna go out like this."
"It’s been too long. I need to see her." George pushed himself to his feet.
The chief opened the door, almost bumping into George who was reaching for it. "O’Malley, you can go in now."
Suddenly, the task seemed daunting. George held the door handle, watching as Webber walked down the hallway. Never in his life had George been more afraid of what was waiting for him on the other side. Would she be conscious? Bloody? Would she be crying? In pain? Could he help her, hold her?
"George! Go!" Meredith pushed him and he stumbled into the room. He breathed a sigh of relief when he saw that Callie was sitting up in the bed. She had an oxygen line up her nose and a sling on her left arm. Her cheek was swollen and she was sporting an impressive shiner, but she was *alive*. He stopped beside the bed, afraid to touch her, afraid not to touch her, and promptly burst into tears.
Her eyes widened and she reached for him. "George, is your dad-"
The sound of her voice was all the motivation he needed to reach out to her. Resting his forehead against hers, he sniffled a little. "Dad’s fine. I just didn’t know what I’d find when I opened that door."
"You found a big mess."
"I found hope." He pulled her against him, hard, and she cried out. Concerned, he let her go, quickly drying his eyes. "What is it?"
She laid a hand over her heart. "My chest."
"Let me see," he told her, unsnapping the arm of her hospital gown. He cringed when he saw the circular bruise that marred the silky skin of her chest. "You hit the steering wheel."
"Yeah." She glanced down at the mark and shook her head. "My airbag didn’t work."
George frowned as he fastened the gown back in place. "Your car is only, what, a year old? That doesn’t make any sense."
"Yeah. I'll be writing Ford."
"Your voice is really raspy."
"It feels like I’m suffocating," she told him. "It hurts to breathe."
"Well, you better not stop." He smiled at her, tilting her chin so he could see the cut on her cheek. "You gave me a heart attack."
"I’m sorry. I told Addison not to call you."
"What?" His voice rose and he felt instant guilt when she closed her eyes, brow furrowed. "Why would you say that?"
"Because I’m fine."
"Okay, we need to establish something. If you’re hurt, even just a little, I want to be there. If I’m hurt, even just a little, I want *you* there."
Chief Webber knocked lightly on the door, then came into the room. He laid her chart on the table at the foot of the bed and said, "Have you changed your mind about that pain medicine?"
"I want a clear head." Callie replied. "How bad is it?"
"Dr. O’Malley?" The Chief nodded at the door.
"He can stay," Callie said. "I feel like I’m not breathing enough."
"That’s because your left lung is partially collapsed. It should reinflate on its own, but there is inflammation present. I’ve ordered a breathing treatment for you and that should help clear it up." Chief Webber moved around the side of the bed, looking down at her. "Your EKG was abnormal. It showed ventricular dysrhythmia. You have a myocardial contusion. A bruised heart."
"It’ll clear up on its own, too?" George asked.
"It should. I’ve called Dr. Burke to come in and take a look for himself, but I think it will be fine."
"Oh thank God," George said, squeezing her hand. His legs threatened to buckle from the relief he felt, so he leaned against the bed.
Chief Webber cleared his throat and said, "That’s not all."
George’s eyes widened and he braced himself. "Chief?"
"Have you changed your diet recently?" The chief asked Callie.
"Not really," she replied.
"Yes, she has," George interjected. "She eats like a bird."
"What have you had to eat today?" Webber crossed his arms over his chest, studying her hard.
Callie shook her head. "I didn’t."
"And yesterday?" he prodded.
"I don’t remember."
George tried to discern the expression on the Chief’s face, but it was impossible. "Why?" he asked.
The Chief opened the chart and scanned the contents. "The test results came back full of curiosities. The hemoglobin is below normal. The electrolytes are all over the place. Low potassium. Do I need to go on? Do I need to mention the dehydration or the protein levels? Because I pulled your last physical, Dr. Torres. You’ve lost twenty seven pounds in four weeks. That’s roughly seven pounds a week and that’s not healthy."
"I know," Callie replied.
"Then why are you doing it?" he fired back.
"I'll tell you what." Closing the file, Chief Webber put his hand on his hip. "I’ve got a potassium drip ordered. If you’ve never had one before then you’re going to be amazed at how much it hurts going in. You’re never going to want one again. That means that whatever stress you currently have will not cause starvation and dehydration in the future. And just so we’re clear, you’ll be submitting to weekly blood tests here to monitor this situation."
George had to fight to hide his grin when he saw the look of defeat on Callie’s face. Pop hadn’t gotten through to her, Chloe hadn’t gotten through to her, and George had failed in every attempt. But Chief Webber had definitely taken control of the situation and Callie’s hands were tied.
The chief saw George’s struggle and waited until Callie looked away, then he winked at him. "Dr. Torres, do you have any questions?"
"How’s Addison?" Callie asked, clearly annoyed.
"You can ask her yourself. She threatened to hit me with her crutch if I didn’t hurry and let her in." Webber smiled at her. "Are you sure I can’t get that medicine? Believe me, you’re gonna be thankful for it when that potassium starts to drip."
"I’ll have a hard time navigating the Archfield if I’m high," she replied. "You know it’s like a maze."
"You won’t have to worry about that tonight. You’re stuck here for observation." Webber shrugged. "So, pick your poison."
"Oh, man!" Callie groused. Resolved to the fact that she wasn’t going anywhere, she sighed. Her chest protested, her lung reminded her that it was still unhappy, and she gave in. "Morphine makes me itch."
"Dilaudid it is." Making a few notes in the chart, the chief patted her on the arm and smiled. "I’ll let the others know that they can come in."
Addison was the first to enter. She looked as bad as Callie felt. Her nose had been set and bandaged and her eyes were close to being swollen shut. Alex pushed the wheelchair and brought her to the side of Callie’s bed. "You’re not dead." Addison told her. "I’d kick your ass if you were."
"Damn." Callie wrinkled her nose. "I think I’m actually glad that my airbag didn’t work. You look like hell."
Meredith and Izzie came in, both looking slightly uncomfortable. They both smiled a little at Callie, but neither said a word. Respiratory Therapy arrived and hooked up a breathing treatment for Callie, who was left shaken and jittery from the medication she had breathed in. The relief was almost instant, however. It still hurt to breathe, but at least she *could*. She listened as Addison recounted the details of the accident, smiling a little when she mentioned their destroyed pots and pans and the argument they had had over which set to get. Addison was a good friend, her best friend.
Two officers suddenly stepped into the room, followed by a man in a suit. Callie was relieved, she had been dreading the arrival of the potassium drip. She had heard plenty of horror stories about it even without the Chief’s efforts at scaring her senseless. The man in the suit stepped forward and nodded at Callie. "Ms. Torres, I’m Detective Peden. We need to ask you a few questions."
"Okay," Callie replied.
"I’m just going to go ahead and say this." Detective Peden took a small notepad from his jacket pocket and flipped it open. "Multiple eyewitnesses have indicated to us that this appeared to be an orchestrated incident."
"Orchestrated?" Callie and Addison asked together.
"We believe it was deliberate, ma’am. Er ... ma’ams. Er... ladies." Detective Peden scratched the side of his head, making his neatly trimmed gray hair stick up. "The SUV that hit you had been sitting at the red light for a few minutes, seemingly stalled. We had received multiple complaints about it blocking the intersection. However, a black car went through the red light moments before you did and quickly pulled to the side of the road. The SUV darted forward as you approached and struck your car. The driver exited the SUV immediately and ran to the car that had pulled over, fleeing the scene.
"I have done a cursory investigation of your vehicle, Ms. Torres. Your airbag has been tampered with and I’m going to assume that you had no idea your seatbelt had been cut and was barely held together." He waited a moment for her answer. She shook her head and he continued. "Is there any reason that someone would want you dead? Do you have any enemies?"
Callie felt like the room was spinning around her. The idea that someone could have made an attempt on her life was so far fetched that she half expected someone to shout ‘Smile! You’re on Candid Camera’. She finally took a deep, painful breath, and shook her head.
"Yes, she does." Izzie took a step forward. "She’s supposed to be testifying at a parole hearing against the man who raped her. He could have something to do with it, right?"
Callie stared at the blonde woman, unable to believe her ears. She was *stunned* that Izzie knew the intimate details of her life and since Addison would never have mentioned it to her ... that left George. She glanced at her boyfriend, who was looking down at his hands. Callie figured that her diagnosis of a bruised heart was both literal and figurative. George had betrayed her, told her secrets.
"Ma’am?" Detective Peden took another step forward. "This is very important. Can you tell me about this man? We need to explore every avenue."
Callie swallowed hard, then nodded. "I’d like to do it in private."
"Can you all excuse us?" Detective Peden turned and addressed the others.
Meredith and Izzie quickly left the room and Alex started to wheel Addison out. "I’m staying," the redhead said, locking the wheels of the chair.
"That’s fine," Callie told her. When George made no move to leave, she glanced at him. "I want you to go, George."
"What?" He reached for her hand, but she pulled it away. "Cal-"
"Go talk to Izzie. I’m sure she’s just dying to know what we talked about *privately* a while ago."
"Sir," Detective Peden said. "We really need to proceed here."
"Come on, man." Alex held the door open, waiting for George.
"I’ll be back," George said to Callie. "I’m not going anywhere."
George glared at Izzie when he stepped into the hall. She seemed aware of what she had done and quickly looked at the floor. Meredith glanced back and forth, from one to the other, and said, "Okay, what the hell did I miss? What parole hearing? Callie was raped?"
"It’s private," Izzie said softly.
"Not anymore," George snapped.
"I was only trying to help."
"I told you not to tell anyone, Izzie!"
Alex rolled his eyes and said, "I already knew. Addison told me."
"Great. Now everyone knows."
"I don’t!" Meredith crossed her arms over her chest. "We’re all friends here! If Callie’s in trouble I’d like to know why. I’d like to help her."
"You can’t," George and Alex said in unison, then frowned at one another.
"Let’s go get coffee," Izzie said to Meredith.
George watched as they walked off together. "Izzie’s gonna tell her everything."
"Well, yeah. That’s what chicks do. They are genetically incapable of keeping secrets." Alex chuckled a little. "Not that I’m implying that you’re a chick, O’Malley."
"Torres is gonna kick your ass when she’s able."
"Again, I say shut up."
"She looks pretty good," Alex said. "I mean, for someone who hit the steering wheel. Damn, I can’t believe how mangled Addy’s face is. I’ll be surprised if she can even open her eyes tomorrow."
"Did it hurt her leg again?"
"Yep," Alex nodded. "There are no fractures or anything, but her patella popped again. We’re going to need to go early tomorrow and get their things from the car. Addison is really worried about all the stuff they bought for their place."
"We will," George assured him. "One of us needs to be there to their furniture delivery, too. Callie had mentioned it earlier."
"So, tell the truth, O’Malley. Did you freak out when Addison called you?"
"Oh my god," George replied, his eyes wide as he stared at Alex. "I thought my heart would stop."
"Me, too. I can’t even imagine what it would have felt like if Callie had been the one to call and tell me that Addison was hurt. It helped that I got to talk to her, you know?" Alex exhaled. "We’re whipped, aren’t we?"
"And we’re not even complaining."
Alex leaned back against the wall. "So, has Callie mentioned if this Porter guy has any family? Anyone who’d want to keep her quiet?"
"Just a daughter. Molly, I think. She was attacked when Callie was and she apparently killed herself when she got the letter about the hearing."
"Hmm." Alex cocked his head to one side. "What if Molly didn’t kill herself? What if whoever did this to Callie got to her first."
They exchanged looks and practically knocked each other down as they rushed back into Callie’s room. Both officers turned, startled, and reached for their guns. They relaxed when they saw who it was and George began to rapidly speak, explaining what he and Alex suspected. Alex interrupted halfway through, not happy with George’s stuttering.
Chief Peden waited patiently for the two men to bumble their way through their suspicions. When they finally reached the conclusion, the man cleared his throat. "Brilliant deduction, Watson. Er, Watsons. We just covered that.
"I’ll be in touch, Dr. Torres. Officers Simmon and Tanner will both be spending the night here for security reasons." He glanced at Addison. "Dr. Montgomery, until we get some answers it may be wise for you to stay with friends."
"She’ll be with me," Alex replied, resting a hand on her shoulder.
A nurse came in, carrying a shot, and to Callie’s horror, the potassium. The officers excused themselves, stating that they would be outside the door. George watched as the pain medication was injected into Callie’s IV and knew that he needed to talk fast, before the shot knocked her out. Catching Alex’s eye, he nodded at the door. Alex took the hint and wheeled Addison out.
George waited for the nurse to attach the new drop and leave, then said, "Are you all right?"
She glared at him. "Am I all right? Gee, let me think about that. My boss thinks I’m anorexic. Someone is trying to kill me. I have guards outside my door! I have a drip in my arm that feels like acid going in. And you? You should just take out a front page ad with the story of my life since you want everyone to know about it."
"I’m sorry. I just - I was defending you because Izzie said something about you that I didn’t like so I told her that your life wasn’t as perfect as she thought. It just came out, Callie."
"This is my life. This is actually my life. This!" She leaned back against the bed, hating the pain in her chest, hating the dizziness from the narcotics. She had zero tolerance for medication of any kind. Even over the counter stuff would send her for a loop. "I can’t even pretend to be surprised anymore."
"What is that supposed to mean?"
"I must have been really horrible in a previous life, because someone up there truly hates me."
"Will you stop that? I don’t want to fight. I just want to be with you."
"George, I want to be with you, too. I do, but Izzie is just as much a part of this relationship as you are."
"She’s my best friend. I tell her things. I talk to her. It’s not fair for you to say that to me. You talk to Addison." He had attempted to control his temper for as long as possible, but her words got to him. Knowing that it was an uncalled for hit below the belt, he blurted, "You left me today to go with Addison. You left me when I needed you to be with me and I didn’t say a thing."
Callie’s eyes widened. "I had to-"
"You could have postponed the lease signing. Or you could have gone and signed it and then come back to me, but you didn’t. You went *shopping*. Anything could have happened to my dad. Anything. And I’m not mad. I’m not. I just want you to understand that you’re just as guilty of what you’re accusing me of. It’s part of being a good friend."
"There’s a huge freakin’ difference, George! Addison likes you! I don’t have to defend you to her! She’s happy that I’m happy and that’s all the reason she needs to accept you. *That* is part of being a good friend!"
George looked away. She had a valid point. Izzie, despite her big heart and gentle demeanor, had never given Callie a chance. And he shouldn’t have to defend Callie to Izzie.
"I’m sorry I left today," Callie said, shattering the uncomfortable silence. "I just - I didn’t want to intrude on your family. They needed your undivided attention and I thought it would okay."
"You could never intrude. You are my family, Callie." He brushed her hair off her face, leaning against the edge of the bed. The ring in his pocket dug into his leg, a painful reminder of what he stood to lose. He retrieved it, trying to control the sudden bout of nervousness that was threatening to consume him. "And you didn’t need to stay today. I just - one minute away from you feels like too much. You know?"
George sat down beside her, lifting her hand in his. "Are you high?"
"Not nearly enough. And remind me never, ever to prescribe potassium to *anyone*. I need to talk Webber into diluting it into the saline solution," she replied, meeting his gaze.
"I’ll make sure he does."
She smiled a little. "You really think of me as family?"
"Yeah." His heart had begun to pound so hard in his chest that he imagined she could hear it. He squeezed her hand, drawing strength from her, and said, "I’ve been meaning to ask you something. It’s - well, it’s big and I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out the best way to do it and I think I know now."
"What are you-"
"Shhh." He leaned forward and softly kissed her. "You are the kindest person I’ve ever known. You forgave me for all the things that I said and did to you. You stood by me, you held my hand, you made me laugh, Callie, when I thought I never would again. You understand me. You accept me. And you make me feel like the luckiest man alive when you tell me that you love me. So, yes, I consider you family. But I want to make it official."
He took his hand from hers and lifted the small bag, letting the ring drop into his palm. He turned it upright and said, "Will you marry me?"
Callie’s brain was not too fuzzy from the meds to register his words. She gasped as she stared down at the unbelievably beautiful ring he was holding. Tears blurred her vision and she looked up, meeting his gaze. He was staring at her with such open adoration that it took her breath. "George-"
"I - I was going to do it the right way. Ask you over dinner or at the top of the Space Needle. Maybe in a singing telegram or - or something." He bit his bottom lip, worried. "I was going to get on my knees, but this bed is so high and - well, here we are. This - this is the best I could do. It felt right. It feels right, right?"
She swallowed hard, speechless.
"Marry me?" He held his breath until he felt light headed, until he couldn’t stand it another second. "For the love of God, Callie, answer me!"
She blinked several times and it dawned on her that while her mind was screaming ‘absolutely’, her mouth had yet to follow suit. "Yes."
"Yes!" George shouted, punching the air. He grabbed her, hugging her as gently as his elation would allow. He kissed her, kissed her lips, her forehead, her nose. "I love you, Callie. Oh my god! You said yes!"
She laughed at him when he hopped off the edge of the bed and did a weird little dance around the room. He looked like PeeWee Herman and she was tempted to start humming ‘Tequila’ for him.
George realized that he was still holding the ring and stopped celebrating. He walked around the bed and gently eased her hand from the end of the sling, then slipped it on her ring finger. "Perfect fit," he said, leaning down to seal the deal with a kiss. "We’re a perfect fit, Cal."
"You’re high." He studied her eyes.
"But you still said yes so you can’t take it back tomorrow when you wake up and your left hand is so heavy that you can barely lift it because of the size of this rock." He traced his thumb over the large diamond.
"It belonged to your grandmother."
"Pop gave it to me. After he asked me what my intentions were and I told him. I asked his blessing, Callie. I did. And he said that your grandmother wanted you to have this more than anything in the world." He caught one of her tears with his thumb. "But if you want me to buy you a ring of your own, something you pick out, I will."
"No." She pulled her gaze away from the ring and looked at him, her chin trembling. "It’s perfect. Oh, George, I’ve wanted to know my grandmother my entire life. I would sit at her grave and talk to her and ask her for a miracle."
"What did you ask for, baby?"
"You." She began to cry in earnest. "I asked her for you. Someone who could love me for me and who would ask Pop if they could marry me one day. I have to believe that this is her way of telling me that she listened."
Unashamed, he cried with her. He sat facing her and she leaned forward, resting her cheek on his shoulder. He massaged her back for a while and smiled when she went limp against him and her breathing evened out. As gently as he could, he laid her back against the pillows, adjusting the sling on her arm, pulling the cover up over her. With her hair fanned out against the stark, white sheets, he could easily imagine her in a wedding dress. She would be a beautiful bride. His bride.
He would have to convince her that long engagements were horrible.
The wait would kill him otherwise.