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
A/N: Not a lot of romance here. The story is now progressing toward the finale so it's picking up the pace a little.
At noon the following day, Chief Webber and Doctor Bailey both walked into Callie’s room. Callie, who had been groggily picking at what George affectionately dubbed ‘mystery mush’, smiled a little and said, "I can see why our patients beg us to let them leave. Do we actually have a cook on staff here?"
Bailey wrinkled her nose a little as she glanced at the food. "So that’s what’s been stinking up the entire floor."
Callie took is as a sign that she could stop pretending to eat and put the lid back on the tray. Doctor Bailey glanced at George and said, "Your mother has been looking for you. I told her that I’d send you over to your father’s room as soon as I found you."
"You’re found, O’Malley. Go." Bailey pointed at the door.
George glanced back and forth between Callie and Bailey and shook his head. "Why?"
"Because I told you to," Bailey replied.
"Is something wrong?"
Chief Webber sighed a little. "We need to speak to Callie alone and since it’s a professional matter you really don’t need to hear it."
"Tell your mother thank you for the flowers. And that I’m sorry I slept through her visit." Callie smiled at him.
George finally left the room after pointedly glaring at both of his bosses. Taking a deep breath, Callie sat up a little straighter. If they were firing her, which they probably were, she couldn’t really pretend to be surprised. Her work had definitely not been up to par lately. She had been distractedl. Actually, she had been a complete basket case, but that was not something she needed to point out to anyone with a pair of working eyes.
Chief Webber waited for the door to close and handed her a manila folder. "I thought this would interest you."
Callie frowned when she saw the name written on the tab. Ulysses Parkinson. Flipping it open, she scanned down the lab results and gasped. "He had enough Ambien in his blood to -"
"Stop his heart on the operating table." Chief Webber leaned closer, flipping a couple of pages. He pointed at another column. "He also had cancer in his brain. He was diagnosed about a month before he fell and fractured his hip. No one knew except for one of his lady friends at the retirement facility where he lived. She said that he became very depressed and told the doctors on staff at the facility that he couldn’t sleep. He was prescribed Ambien because of that, but apparently he had been stockpiling them for at least three weeks to get that kind of dosage. And three hours before his operation, he became a do not resuscitate."
"I’m sorry." Callie felt her throat tighten. "I - I should have run more tests."
"What tests?" Webber asked. "If there was a magic test out there that pointed out all the potential suicide victims then we’d save everyone with a death wish. You couldn’t have known this. So stop beating yourself up over it."
"Wait. You’re not firing me?"
Bailey put her hands on her hips, glaring at Callie. "What would he fire you for? You didn’t do anything any differently than anyone else would have. You’re not responsible for this."
"He was her first loss," Webber said. "I still remember mine. Michael Fisher, age four, went through the windshield of his mother’s car when she crashed into a guardrail. He had so many internal injuries that his stomach looked like he was one of those kids who suffer from starvation. We gave him so many bags of blood during surgery that I lost count and he flatlined for an hour before I was willing to call it. I carry a picture of him in my wallet to this day." He took his wallet from his back pocket and flipped it open. A yellowed photo, dog eared and faded, showed a cherubic blond child. "The first one is the hardest, but it never really gets easier. Every soul we lose clings to us, stains us, but we go on."
Callie slowly nodded and closed the file. She had seen enough. "He asked me for jello before the surgery and I didn’t let him have it."
"Because he was NPO," Bailey replied. "Nothing by mouth."
"And that reminds me." Chief Webber took the file from Callie and put it under his arm. "Did you eat breakfast this morning?"
Callie shook her head. "I slept through it."
Dr. Bailey nodded at her. "With that much Versed I’m surprised you’re awake now."
Webber, who had read all about the panic attack in Callie’s file, lifted the lid to her lunch and glanced down at it. "And you didn’t eat any lunch."
"Oh, c’mon, Chief. Like you would eat that!" Callie shook her head. "I’ll eat dinner. At home. Right? You’re letting me go today?"
Webber studied her closely. "The episode you had this morning? Is that rare or does it happen frequently?"
Callie bit her bottom lip, studying her hands which were clenched in her lap. "I used to have them when I was a kid. When I was fourteen I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and night terrors. They wanted to prescribe valium and a lot of experimental stuff, but my grandfather didn’t want me on medication. Eventually they stopped happening that often."
"You think the car accident triggered it?"
"Not entirely," Callie replied honestly. "I have to attend a parole hearing in a few days. I have to stand up and relive the past so that the man who tormented me for four days will stay behind bars. That triggered it. The fact that my car accident wasn’t just an accident ... someone deliberately tried to kill me. That triggered it."
"Have you considered taking anything for the anxiety?" Bailey sat down on the edge of the bed. "Because a little Xanax never hurt anyone who was under as much stress as you are."
"Absolutely not. I won’t rely on medications to get me through this. I mean - this morning was bad and you had to sedate me, but if I rely on something like that then that’s just one more concession I have to make to the man who did this to me. I want a clear head because that’s my only weapon."
"I’m writing you a prescription for a small dose. Just a few pills. Just in case."
There was a soft knock on the door and Webber opened it. Detective Peden stepped inside, smiling apologetically for interrupting. He pulled a pad from his pocket and said, "I’m going to cut to the chase. The guy who did this to you? He was wearing a pink cast on his arm. Does that ring any bells for any of you?"
Callie pondered his question for a second. She had never given anyone a pink cast as far as she could recall. "No."
"Yes," Chief Webber replied at the same time. He glanced down at Callie and said, "You remember the guy who hit you the other day when you tried to set his arm? I took care of it so you could make it to your surgery."
"Right." Callie instinctively touched her cheek.
"Well, I put a pink cast on his arm because of what he did to you." Webber narrowed his eyes. "I’ll pull the file. What day was that?"
"The same day Ulysses died," Callie replied.
"Did you recognize the man, Ms. Torres?" Detective Peden asked, stepping aside for Chief Webber to leave the room.
Callie conjured the guy’s face in her mind and shook her head. "No."
"This could be the lead we're looking for." Peden jotted a few notes on his pad and thanked her. As an afterthought, he turned and said, "I allowed Ms. Montgomery access to the contents of your vehicle. She assured me that you would want her to take your valuables home and, well, she’s very persuasive."
"Yes, she is." Callie grinned at him. "And it’s okay. She owns half of what’s in there. Over half if you count the fake plants."
The detective made small talk for a few more minutes, then stepped into the hallway to wait for Chief Webber. Dr. Bailey checked Callie’s IV, scanned her chart, and said, "We’re going to let you go home, but-"
"Yay!" Callie said.
"BUT." Bailey shot her a look. "Bedrest as much as possible for the next five days. On the sixth day, you come here for a complete check up and labwork and we’ll play it by ear after that."
"Bedrest?" Callie lay back against the pillows and sighed. "Damn it."
"You have injuries to your heart and lung. Did you expect me to tell you to go run a marathon?"
"Then don’t whine because as a mother ... I’ve grown immune to it."
"And don’t pout either or I’ll recommend that you spend another night."
"I am not *pouting*!"
"What are you doing with your arms crossed and your lip poked out."
"Uh huh." Bailey made a few notes in the chart and closed it. "I have talked to you as your doctor and now I’m talking to you as a friend."
Callie looked up at her. "Okay."
"I see a lot of me in you. You’re independent. You’re successful. You’re strong and self sufficient. You’re no nonsense and you like to do things your own way."
"So, I’m telling you that it’s okay to ask for and receive a little help. We’re all in this big ocean together. Some of us have life jackets and some of us tread water. Every single day. You and me? We tread water to show that we’re stronger and more determined and that we can do anything. We act like we got something to prove to the world. But it’s okay to ask someone to lend you their life jacket, to let someone else tread for a while." She reached out and took Callie’s hand in hers. "O’Malley’s a good swimmer, Callie. So is Addison. So am I. When you get tired of treading water, tell us. Because you’re not in this alone."
"That was sort of beautiful."
"I’ll deny ever saying it."
"I figured as much."
Seattle was impressive from any vantage point, but nothing ranked higher than seeing it from the eighteenth floor of a luxury apartment building as far as Addison was concerned. She leaned against the balcony railing and tilted her face as a breeze ruffled her hair. It wasn’t raining for once and she was glad. The furniture had arrived, unscathed and *dry*, earlier in the day. She had directed the delivery men on where to leave everything and they had been generous enough to uncrate and set it all up. Together, Alex and Addison had made the beds and Addison had put almost everything away. Or, she had crept around watching Alex do it and listening to him grumble that she should get off her feet.
The mangled pots and pans were resting on the round table they had purchased for the kitchen nook. Addison kept them out to give Callie a good laugh. After the hell they had been through trying to decide which ones to get, Addison couldn’t wait to point out that the smaller box on the set *she* had wanted would probably have fit on the other side of the car.
Checking her watch, Addison returned to the living room and smiled. Everything looked perfect. The leather furniture had been the right decision. It worked well with the wood flooring and the oversized square coffee table was the perfect fit. She sat down on the sofa and rearranged the fresh flowers that she had picked up that morning.
She smiled when Alex came in and handed her a bottle of water. "Thanks."
"This place is really impressive." He sat down next to her.
Addison glanced around, taking in the plasma television, the entertainment center that had cost as much as an overnight stay in ICU, and shook her head. "It’s missing something."
He gave her a dirty look. "I have unpacked *everything*."
"I need one of those Alex originals to hang behind the sofa. A very big, very colorful Alex original oil painting."
"What did you have in mind?"
Alex glanced at the wall behind them, taking in the dimensions. "I can do that."
"Do you have to work tomorrow?" she asked.
"I was just wondering. Do you - uh - want to spend the night here?"
He smiled at her. "Absolutely."
She reached out, cupping his face in her palm. "Alex, last night was-"
The sounds of the front door being opened cut her off. As excited as she was for Callie to see everything, she had to admit that her friend didn’t have the best timing. She got to her feet, pushing herself up on her crutches, and peered into the foyer. Callie was moving very slowly, one hand on her chest, but at least she was walking. Addison held her arms open and gave her a hug. George came in behind her, carrying a suitcase and a bag of prescriptions. He gave a low whistle when he stepped into the living room.
"Wow," he said, his eyes wide. "This is beautiful."
"Callie has good taste," Addison replied, squeezing his arm. She turned her attention back to Callie and said, "Anything you don’t like we can move it. I just - they had to put it somewhere."
"No!" Callie shook her head. "It’s perfect."
"How’s your chest?" Alex asked her, noting the way her hand still rested against over her heart.
"It’s okay," Callie told him as she sat down on the sofa. "You’re never going to believe what Detective Peden found out."
"What?" Addison sat on the loveseat, watching her closely.
George took a seat beside her and listened while Callie explained about the man with the pink cast. The group spent the next thirty minutes discussing all the possibilities and working out safety precautions for the apartment. Three undercover police officers were taking turns pretending to do electrical work in the hallway and would remain active twenty four hours a day. The apartment security had been advised to closely monitor the surveillance cameras for a man with a cast on his arm. A pink cast that would definitely stand out like a sore thumb.
"So, we’re safe," Callie said with a sigh. "I don’t know how long it’ll take them to find the guy."
"I can’t believe he was brazen enough to come into the hospital and attack you," Alex said. "He’s clearly not playing with a full deck."
"And you don’t know him?" Addison asked for the third time. "You’re sure?"
"I’m positive. I’ve never seen him before," Callie replied. "I wonder how he really broke his arm. He claimed to be a bouncer or something, but now I don’t know."
"We’ll have time to figure it out." George took her hand in his. "But for now you need to go to bed."
"Bailey made me swear that I would enforce the whole bedrest thing."
"Bailey’s not here."
"Dude." Alex shook his head. "She has eyes everywhere. She knows when we lie to her."
"You do need to rest," Addison replied. "C’mon. I’ll help you."
George carried Callie’s suitcase to her bedroom and blinked at the scope of it. There were two wingback chairs sitting in front of the big windows and a table rested between them. The pillows matched the comforter on the four poster bed, which was higher than any bed George had ever seen. It was so high that there were steps on either side. He smiled a little, noting the stuffed bear that rested on one of the pillows.
Callie smiled when he picked it up. "Turn it over and look at the name."
"Georgie," he grinned at her. "I let my mom and dad call me that, but I gotta draw a line, Cal."
"And that’s what I’ve been saying," Addison told him. She held out her hand for the prescription bag and whistled when she saw the various bottles inside. "You are going to sleep like a baby, girlfriend"
Callie nodded and sat down on one of the chairs. "I should go ahead and take the pain pills."
Addison pulled out another bottle and frowned. "Xanax?"
"Long story." Callie shrugged and immediately grimaced, rubbing her chest. "George, can you grab a bottle of water?"
"Yeah." He quickly headed out to search for the kitchen.
"Tell me the long story," Addison sat down next to her.
With a resigned sigh, Callie told about the night terror and the panic attack. When she finished, George was back with the water and she happily downed a Darvocet. "You know, I keep telling myself that this will all be over soon, but it’s been fifteen years and it’s still not going away."
"They’re going to find this guy." George brushed her hair back, resting his hand on her head. "They will."
Callie nodded, but Addison and George both saw that she didn’t believe it.
"She’s sleeping. Finally." George sat down at the dining room table. He shook his head when Alex offered him the pizza box. "You know that patient she lost? Ulysses Parkinson? The old man?"
Addison arched her eyebrow. "The one you accused her of killing?"
"Yes. Please kick me while I’m down. I enjoy it so," George grumbled. "He apparently killed himself. Took enough Ambien to commit suicide not long before the surgery."
"Why would you blame Torres for-" Alex began.
"Because I was mad at her," George replied. "Because I say things that I don’t mean when I’m pissed."
"How’d she take that?" Addison picked an olive off her pizza and dropped it onto Alex’s plate.
"Well, she’s happy that it wasn’t a mistake on her part, but she’s upset that she didn’t realize that he was depressed or whatever."
"Did he present signs of depression?" Alex asked, picking the pineapple off his pizza and dropping it onto Addison’s plate.
"No. He presented signs of being a perverted old man who was ready for his surgery." George watched the comfortable exchange of food between the couple. He wrinkled his nose when Alex leaned forward and kissed a piece of pepperoni off Addison’s cheek. "Okay, gross."
"Jealous, O’Malley?" Alex smiled at him.
"No. I’m shocked. When the hell did this happen?" He pointed back and forth between the two.
"When he dislocated my knee."
"That’s the weirdest thing I’ve ever heard," George replied. "He wounds you and you date him for it?"
"I’ve got skills, dude."
"He’s got skills, dude," Addison agreed, pulling Alex in for another kiss. "Very, very impressive skills."
"I need a delete button for my brain. And a bucket for the projectile vomit." George rested his head in his palms. "I hate this."
"George?" Addy laid her hand on his arm.
"Callie won’t eat."
"She’s lost twenty seven pounds in a matter of weeks. They had to give her potassium. Her blood sugar was off, her electrolytes, everything was abnormal."
Addison gasped. "Twenty seven pounds! I - I didn’t even notice!"
"You don’t really notice it when you see people everyday." Alex wiped his mouth and leaned his elbows against the table. "You think it’s stress?"
"Of course it’s stress," Addison said. "She’s been under more than her fair share."
George looked at her. "Chief Webber gave me some paperwork about anorexia."
"Callie does not have anorexia!" protested Addison. "She’s just going through things that none of us can understand because we’ve never been there. So get that out of your head, George. The last thing she needs is for you to think that of her!"
"All I’m saying is that she’s starving herself. She was dehydrated, she barely touched the water that I brought her earlier, and she’s not even trying. She didn’t eat breakfast or lunch and when I tried to buy her dinner earlier she got pissed at me. I mean, she basically told me that if I all I was going to do was try to force feed her then I should stay the hell away from her."
"This is something that she has to work out on her own."
"Give her time," Alex suggested. "Let her get her head right."
"This is more than just Roy Porter. She’s been starving herself for weeks." George ran a hand over his face.
"It’s my fault," George said. "The way I treated her before, I mean. All she wanted to do was love me and I couldn’t let her. I couldn’t say it back. I couldn’t let her in, you know?"
Addison had heard all about it straight from Callie. "She’s not holding it against you."
"I’m holding it against myself." George rubbed his eyes, the exhaustion he felt catching up with him. "I have to go back to the hospital. The priest from our church is going to stop by and say a few words for my dad and mom asked me to be there."
"It’s okay." Addison reached out and squeezed his hand. "I’ll take care of Callie."
"I’ll be back tonight. If she - if she wakes up tell her that, okay?"
Callie awoke with a start, disoriented. It took her several seconds to wrap her head around the fact that she was at the apartment, that she was home. The sun was beginning to set and she watched the fading light filter through the blinds. Her chest ached, her lung felt like it was on fire, and all the tension she felt had balled itself up in the pit of her stomach. She pulled her legs up a little, curling into a tighter ball and tried to go back to sleep. It was easier when she slept.
Her cellphone trilled a moment later and she groaned, gingerly easing off the bed. She checked the number and sat down in the chair. "Hey, pop."
"Pierre says you haven’t been at the hotel. What’s going on?"
Callie took a deep breath and gasped in pain, rubbing her chest. "I had a little accident."
"I’m okay, but I spent the night in the hospital."
She explained the incident and the evidence that would suggest that it was an attempt on her life. There was silence on the other end and she glanced down at the display on her phone to make sure they were still connected. "Pop?"
"Someone should have called us."
"I’m sorry. It was just a crazy night and I’ve been asleep most of the day."
"Is George helping you?"
"More than you realize." She smiled a little, glancing down at her ring. "He asked me to marry him."
"Thank you for giving him Grandma’s ring."
"I like George, but he’s going to have a hard time fitting into a tux with two broken legs. How could he not call and let us know?"
"He was a basket case. It’s not his fault."
"I’m hiring guards."
"I’m being serious, Calliope."
She cringed at the use of her full name. Only her mother did that to her. "The police are taking care of it."
"I don’t care. I want people in your apartment and driving you back and forth to any appointments you have at all times."
"So is death," he replied. "Are you completely moved into the new apartment?"
"No. I still have to pick up the rest of my stuff. So does Addison. Speaking of, I’m going to have them adjust her balance to zero at the hotel."
"That’s fine, kitten."
"Why don’t you bring Chloe and come to dinner this weekend. I want you to meet Addison and see the place."
"I was planning on coming down today."
"Don’t. I’m fine. I just need rest."
"Are you sure, honey?"
"Okay," he sighed. "I love you, Callie."
"I love you too, Pop. Bye."
Callie snapped her phone shut and walked into the bathroom, where she splashed water on her face and studied her reflection. She hated what she saw in the mirror. It was like a stranger gazed back at her. Her hair hung limply around her face, still matted with blood. Her eyes were vacant, rimmed with dark circles. She checked the linen closet and pulled out a couple of towels and a rag.
When she turned, Addison was standing in the doorway and Callie shrieked, throwing the towels at her. Addison laughed, catching one of them. "Sorry I scared you."
"God, do you have your crutches on stealth mode or what?"
"I’m getting better on them."
Callie retrieved the towel that had dropped on the floor and picked up the rag, groaning in pain the entire time. "Not for nothing ... I’m over the whole bruised heart thing."
"Like a bitch." Callie put a bar of soap in the shower and set a bottle of shampoo on the ledge. "Did you unpack everything?"
"Alex did, but I supervised."
"I’m sure he loved that." Callie grinned at her.
"He never grumbled once." Addison closed the lid on the toilet and sat down. Callie gave her a look and Addison shrugged. "I’m not leaving you alone. Not even for the shower."
"Oh for heaven’s sake!"
"I’ll turn my head, but I’m staying."
Resigned to the fact that she was not getting any privacy, Callie sighed and adjusted the water temperature. It’s not like she was ashamed of her body. She had no problem shedding her clothes in front of anyone, but she wouldn’t have minded being alone for a while. There was thinking that needed to be done and she couldn’t think and make small talk at the same time. "You guys did a great job getting everything ready."
"We still have to get the rest of our stuff from the hotel."
"Oh yeah," Callie glanced at her as she took her socks off. "I took care of your bill at the Archfield."
"You what? Callie! That was thousands of dollars! I ate at Cloud Nine almost every day." Addison shook her head. "You shouldn’t have paid-"
"Cool your jets, slick, I didn’t pay it. I just made it disappear. Part owner, remember?"
Addison stared at her. "You didn’t have to do that."
"You didn’t have to stick by me the way you did yesterday. That’s what friends are for or whatever other cheesy eighties song fits here."
"I kinda love you. You know?"
Callie grinned at her. "I kinda love you, too."
Addison turned her head as Callie pulled her shirt off. She heard Callie’s intake of breath and glanced back at her, getting to her feet. The bruises on her chest were horrific and it was easy to see why Callie was moving in slow motion. She hobbled to where her friend was wrestling with her bra and unfastened it for her.
"Thanks," Callie said. "You really don’t have to stay."
Returning to the toilet, Addison resolutely sat down, crossing her arms over her chest. She turned her head and waited for Callie to slip into the shower before she spoke again. "How’d you get that scar on your back? It looks like a burn."
"It was." Callie slowly soaped her arms, inhaling the sweet aroma of the floral soap. "My dad got pissed at me once while he was pretty high. I made the mistake of running and so he threw an oil lamp at me that had been burning most of the day. Thankfully, it hit my back and not my face or something. That would have sucked."
Addison could just make out Callie’s silhouette behind the frosted glass. The dark haired woman continued to bathe and it upset Addison to think that she could tell her something so horrific in such a flippant manner. When Callie had discussed her past, she had never really mentioned physical abuse. Addison had suspected it, but had not wanted to pursue it. "Did he do it often?"
"Get high? Oh, every day for a long time."
Callie stepped under the spray of water, wetting her hair. She didn’t know how to answer, what to say. She soaped her hair and rinsed it, then applied the conditioner. "Not a lot," she finally replied. "Just enough to remind me not to mess up."
Tears blurred Addison’s vision and she rubbed her eyes. It took her a second to realize that Alex and Callie had a lot in common. They had both been abused and they both hid that abuse behind a thick, tough exterior. They both had layers. They both had hearts that were kind enough to seek a profession where they could help people when the biggest people in their lives had hurt them. She was lost in thought when Callie shut the water off and stepped out of the shower, wrapped in a large white towel.
Callie shivered a little, glancing at Addison. "Are you okay?"
Addison pushed herself up on her crutches and said, "I bought you a gown."
"Why would you buy me a gown?"
"Because we couldn’t get into your room at the Archfield and you don’t really have any clothing here."
"Good reason. But George and I made a pit stop before we came here."
"Humor me anyway." Addison retrieved it from the bedroom and smiled when Callie laughed at it and quickly slipped it on. "I remembered that you like comic books."
"Superman is oh so much more than a comic book, Addison. He’s a franchise. Movies, merchandise, and the reason that women across the country had a sexual revolution. Dude. Christopher Reeves in *tights*. That’s all I’m sayin’." Callie hugged her. "Well, that and thank you."
Addison clung to her a little longer than was needed. "I’m glad you’re okay."
"I’m glad you’re okay, too." Callie stepped back, only to be hugged once again. "Okay, what’s going on?"
"There’s pizza in the kitchen." Addison finally moved away, careful not to let her friend see the tears in her eyes. The last thing she wanted was for Callie to think she felt sorry for her. "I’ll be in there warming it up when you’re done."
"I’m not hungry," Callie replied automatically, picking up her brush. "I’ll probably be working the tangles out of my hair the rest of the night."
"Sit down." Pointing at the toilet, Addison took the brush from her. "You don’t need to be pulling with your arms when your chest is like that."
"Sit! And you can thank me by helping me finish the pizza. It doesn’t have calories if you share it."
"I really think that greasy pizza would kill me if I attempted to go there."
"Then I’ll cook soup."
"I’m not hungry," Callie repeated, clearly agitated. "And I’m really kinda tired of the food police that all of you have formed."
Addison started to offer a smart ass reply, but she bit her tongue. "I’m not in the food police. I’m your friend. And because I’m your friend you are going to sit down, shut up, and let me brush your hair. And *then* you’re going to eat whatever I concoct and you’ll tell me it’s great even if it’s not."
Callie rolled her eyes and straddled the toilet, resting her forearms on the back of it. It was a relief to not move around at all. Her chest did hurt, every time she breathed, every time she moved. It wasn’t horrific, but it wasn’t pleasant either. Given the options though, she would gladly suffer the pain if it meant that no one else would try to force feed her. She closed her eyes when Addison began to gently comb through her hair. "That feels good."
"You have enough hair for like ... twelve people."
"It’s thick. I wish I had thick hair."
"I wish I had straight, fine hair."
"Women. We can never be satisfied with what we have."
"Hmmm. Where’s Alex?"
"Napping on the sofa." Addison frowned. "Don’t think I didn’t catch that. I happen to be very satisfied with Alex."
Callie smiled. "You guys are the odd couple."
"Oh, and you and O’Malley are the poster children for perfection?"
"Don’t I know it." Addison squeezed some of the excess water from the ends of Callie’s hair, blotting it with the towel. "George said that Chief Webber gave him some information about anorexia."
"I’m just giving you a heads up in case you want to ... oh, I dunno ... start eating and stop giving them a reason to believe that you’re sick."
They lapsed into an uncomfortable silence for a couple of minutes. Addison worked several impressive tangles out of Callie’s hair and Callie did her best not to flinch. Flinching hurt. Existing hurt. Being ... hurt. Callie was usually very good at stepping outside the stress and into a ‘happy place’. She had done it for years. Lately, however, the lights had been turned off in that enchanted place and Callie was forced to live very much in the moment. And currently, it wasn’t a great place to be.
Callie chewed her lip thoughtfully. There were things that needed to be said and she should technically say them to George, but Addison would do. Having George freak out on her again was the last thing she wanted. He had been furious that she declined his offer of dinner. "My lawyer is going to be dropping by some paperwork tonight or tomorrow. I - I made changes to my will and stuff. I have a small key on my keychain that opens a safe in the main office of the Archfield. Insurance papers, funeral arrangements, everything is in order. So, when - if - something happens to me keep that in mind."
It upset her so much that Addison dropped the brush. She didn’t bother picking it up. "Why would you - Callie! Nothing’s going to happen to you."
"I’m just saying I’m prepared," Callie replied. "That’s all."
"Prepared? Or hopeful?"
Addison retrieved the brush and laid it on the counter, then she touched Callie on the shoulder. "Look at me."
Callie turned, giving her friend her full attention. "It’s not a big deal, Addy. I just needed to let someone know and you’re here."
"I know that things are bad for you right now. I know that. I know that you’re scared and-"
"I am not scared."
"You are. And it’s okay to be afraid, Callie. You’re human. You had this horrible, twisted thing happen to you and now someone may be trying to kill you. So I can understand why you’d want to be prepared, or even think about giving in, but you’re going to be fine."
"You don’t know that."
"You don’t know that either! But you know what? Unless you start eating, start taking care of yourself and believe that you can do this, then you’re not gonna have to worry about someone killing you because you’re killing yourself."
"What is it with you people and *food*!?"
"What is with you not eating?"
"For the last time ... I’m not hungry."
"Your body needs it!"
"My body is used to it!"
"What is that supposed to mean?"
"I don’t eat because that’s the only thing in my life right now that I have control over."
Addison cocked her head to one side. "You’re going to have to explain that a little better. Because from where I’m standing ... it looks like you’re a fucking quitter."
"God." Callie’s eyes widened a little. "Looks like you have a temper to match your red hair."
"And it looks like that scar on your back may have affected your backbone! Because you don’t have one!" As soon as she said it, Addison was sorry. She saw the hurt on Callie’s face, heard her gasp, and knew that she had gone too far. "I - I didn’t really-"
"I - I don’t have a backbone?"
"That’s not what I -"
Callie stood, glaring at Addison. "That’s not what you meant to say? Because I have a backbone, Addison. It’s just bent out of shape from carrying the weight of the world on it."
Addison brushed a tear off her cheek and shook her head. "I know. I’m sorry. It just - it feels like you’re giving in. Giving up. You know? You’re talking to me about wills and funeral arrangements and refusing to eat. And -"
"You want me to explain it better? Why I’m not eating?" Callie began to cry and she hated herself for it. Her chest felt like it would shatter, her lung felt torn, but she spit the words out anyway. No one knew ... she had never even told Pop. "When I was a kid my dad used food as a way to punish or reward me. If I did good at the audition I could have whatever I wanted. If I did bad then I didn’t get anything. For days.
"My entire life, Addison, I’ve used food to reward myself for a job well done. I ace my college exam? I eat a whole pizza. I get the internship I wanted? I celebrate with Ben and Jerry. I get the guy I’m in love with? I eat an entire cake. But when I make mistakes on my job? When I sleep with Mark Sloan? When I break George’s heart and he hates me? When Molly kills herself because *I* wasn’t a very good friend to her? I don’t deserve to eat anything. Because if I don’t eat then I’m punishing myself enough to make up for all of that. My dad didn’t just give me the scar on my back ... he gave me *that*."
Addison reached for her, but Callie pushed her hand away. "I’m going to bed."
"Callie, wait." Addison followed her into the bedroom, feeling very much like the asshole of the month. "I understand, okay? About the food. In college I fell head over heels in love with a guy who only dated skinny women. I had glasses, stringy hair, and I wore a size twelve. So, I started to binge and purge and eventually I stopped eating, too. I got the guy ... Derek married me, but when he found out that I was ... that I had an eating disorder ... he helped me. And I want to help you."
"I don’t have an eating disorder!"
"You have *something*!"
"Addison, that's enough. Just leave me alone!"
Callie’s hands shook when she opened her pill bottle. They sprayed over the bed and into the floor and she swore with spectacular creativity. Dropping to her knees, she began to collect them and she cried harder with every one that she picked up. "I should be the happiest person on the face of the planet right now. George asked me to marry him. I didn’t kill Uly. I have an apartment with the best friend I’ve ever had and the only thing that I want to do is dive off the fucking balcony and take a dirt nap!"
"Don’t say that."
"Why not? It’s how I feel!"
"Addison?" Alex, who had been woken up from his nap, walked into the room and handed her a pager. "Call the hospital."
"It said 911." He nodded at the door, his eyes conveying that she needed to leave the room. He waited until she was gone and walked around the bed, kneeling down beside Callie. He helped her find the rest of the pills and took the bottle from her. "Dr. Torres, can I-"
"Callie." He smiled at her. "I overheard most of what you two were saying."
"Hey, you were raising the roof." He reached past her, grabbed a couple of tissues from the table and handed them to her. "She means well. Addison. But unless you’ve been abused, you can’t really understand it."
She wiped her eyes and studied him. "Speaking from experience?"
"Yeah" he replied. "I’ve been there. My old man liked to get drunk and get a good work out by using me as a punching bag. Put me in the hospital, mangled my face."
"Don't be. Stop being sorry for things that you can't control." Alex took her hand in his, patting it gently. "You can’t control everything. And if you think that not eating gives you some kind of control then you’re wrong. It means that what your dad did to you is still with you. You have to let it go."
"How?" Her tears started again and she ignored them, balling the tissue in her fist. "How do I do that?"
"I have tried."
"Try harder!" Alex tilted her chin so he could look at her. "Starvation wasn’t some life lesson that he taught you. It was abuse. And you’re abusing yourself now in his place."
Callie blotted the tears on her face. "I keep thinking I deserve it ... I must have done something horrible enough to have all these things happening to me at once."
"Shit happens." Alex shrugged a little. "And it sucks."
"Then why bother trying?"
"Because you meet people along the way who make it worth it, who love you, who accept you. That’s why you try. For them."
Addison leaned her head against the door jamb. There hadn’t been a number on her pager. She hadn’t made a phone call. She had eavesdropped, plain and simple, and she was glad she had done so. Alex was a continuous surprise to her and she hoped that his words impacted Callie in the same way that they impacted her. She saw George at the end of the hallway and trudged toward him.
"How is she?" he asked as he took off his jacket.
"We had a fight."
"Not a bad one, but enough of one."
"I warned you."
"Did you know that her dad used to starve her?"
George’s eyes widened. "No!"
Addison quickly explained what Callie had divulged to her and her warped belief that she was punishing herself for being ‘bad’. George sat down on the sofa, his head in his hands, and listened carefully. Addison sat next to him, her voice low. When she finished with the story, she leaned back against the cushions and closed her eyes. "I know we want to help her, but we have to back off. All we can do is be there. Listen. Talk when she needs to talk, but we can’t force her to eat or save her. She has to save herself."
"I’ll save her."
"You can’t, George." Addison put her hand on his shoulder. "These are demons that only she can see so she’s the only one who can fight them off."
"I hate her parents. I absolutely, positively despise both of them for what they’ve done to her."
"Me, too. How could two fucked up jackasses have such a wonderful kid?"
"Because they let her grandfather take over." George pushed himself to his feet. "And now her grandfather is letting me take over. I swear to god that I’ll keep her safe."
"You can save her from whoever wants to hurt her, but you can’t save her from herself."