Author: Chelle Storey-Daniel
Rating: Insanely strong R
Summary: Making amends can be the hardest thing in the world. But sometimes the chaos is worth it.
Pairings: Alex/Addison George/Callie Mark/Izzie
Author's Note: There is a speech given in this chapter. It's a very graphic, almost vulgar retelling of a horrific crime against two children. It was hard to write so I can imagine it would be hard to read as well, but it had to be said.
"Good morning, Stevens." Mark held out a cup of hot chocolate and smiled at her. "In case I didn’t mention it yesterday, you did a great job with the facial surgery assist."
Izzie was skeptical. She didn’t mean to be, but Mark Sloan was intimate with at least eighty percent of the female hospital staff. She wasn’t aching to be added to the notches on his bedpost. There were already so many ... it probably looked like a beaver had chewed through the wood. Her face reddened when she realized the sexual connotations that could be associated with that train of thought. She took the cup reluctantly and said, "What do you want?"
"I’ve got a sexual reassignment surgery at nine. You want in?"
"Seriously!" He leaned a little closer. "And if you really treat me nice, I’ll even let you stitch."
She narrowed her eyes. "You are far too good to me!"
"I think staples make a person lazy. This is a teaching hospital, Stevens. So I’m teaching you."
"I’m sure I don’t have much need for the type of lessons you have planned."
"What is that supposed to mean?"
"I’m not being your beaver." She gasped and cupped both hands over her mouth. "Oh my god! I meant ... I’m not notching your wood. I mean ... I’m not doing you and - oh my god. Can we start over?"
Mark’s eyes widened. "Are you having dirty thoughts about me, Stevens. Because I’m trying to be professional here."
Izzie pretended to sneeze and said, "Bullshit!"
Bailey drew up short beside her. "I heard that Dr. Stevens! In case you failed to notice this is a hospital. A hospital! Watch your language and while you’re watching it I need you to cover the pit."
"Alex is on pit today!" Izzie cried. "Dr. Sloan needs me to scrub in with him."
Bailey sneered at the pair of them. "Uhmmm hmmm. Karev called in sick."
"Dr. Stevens!" Bailey snapped. "We are currently missing four people from our staff. Addison and Callie are in New York. George is still out and now Karev! You will have to cover pit."
"Damn," Izzie said. "I mean ... darn."
"Move it, Stevens." Bailey put her hands on her hips. "I’m not playing."
Bailey watched as Izzie walked off, then turned back to Mark. "Dr. Sloan, can I be perfectly frank with you?"
"I’m sure you will regardless of how I answer that."
"I think men like you are nasty. I think men like you damage the confidence in women and make them feel very, very small. So I’m gonna say this to you once. Izzie Stevens has been to Hell and back and the last thing she needs is you chasing after her skirt like she’s just one of those many women you have. She’s more than that and if you go there ... it’ll be the last time you’re able." She glared at him and when he opened his mouth to speak, she held a hand up to silence him. "I’ve said my peace. I don’t want to hear yours."
Mark watched her stalk way, his bottom jaw open. He heard someone laugh and turned in time to see Derek smirking at him. "What?" he snapped.
Derek shrugged a little. "How funny is it that Bailey isn’t even one of your conquests and she has your number?"
"Shut up!" Mark stalked away, hating the perception people had of it. And despising that it was true.
Izzie looked in on Harold O’Malley, expecting to see George. Things had been tense between them. He was still angry that she blurted out Callie’s secret and had been spending most of his time at Callie’s apartment. She missed her best friend and with Callie in New York, she figured that he would be more receptive to her. The first thing she noticed when she opened the door was that Louise was crying and George’s brothers flanked her on either side.
Hurrying forward, Izzie picked up Harold’s chart. Nothing was amiss, apart from infection, so she cleared her throat. "Mrs. O’Malley? Is everything okay?"
Louise shook her head, wiping her tears away. She attempted to speak and when she couldn’t. Jerry said, "George told you that someone was trying to kill Callie, right?"
Izzie nodded. "Yeah, I came with him to the hospital the night she was attacked."
Jerry took a deep breath. "Well, the man attacked her again this morning in New York. No one can figure out how he found her there, but her friend ... that red haired lady ... said that Callie was pretty messed up over it."
"I should be there with her," Louise sobbed. "I kept encouraging her to go and testify. This is my fault."
"No, mom," Ronnie told her. "It’s not your fault. Callie’s headstrong. She would have gone no matter what you said."
Izzie’s tuned out their conversation. She didn’t have to wonder how the man found Callie. She had given him the information over the phone. Her eyes filled with tears and she kneeled down beside Mrs. O’Malley. "Where’s George?"
"I made him go to her." Louise wiped her eyes with a fresh tissue. "He left this morning with that other doctor ... Alex? They’re flying out there to bring her home."
Izzie nodded and slowly got to her feet. In a daze, she walked into the hallway. Her stomach lurched when she realized what she had done, what she had caused. She made it ten feet before she threw up. She vomited on her shoes, splashing the wall. Strong hands gripped her, holding her upright even as she tried to double over.
"Dr. Stevens," Mark said, lifting her up over the mess on the floor. "Not to state the obvious, but you’re sick."
"I - I didn’t mean to."
"Don’t worry about it. The orderlies have been standing around flirting with the nurses all day. They need something to clean up." He carried her to the nearest empty room and deposited her on the bed. Within seconds, he had handed her a wet cloth and a basin in case she puked again. He took her blood pressure and frowned, feeling her pulse. "Your heart is racing."
"I almost got her killed."
"Callie. I don’t like her, but I don’t want her dead!" Izzie burst into tears. "And George is going to kill me when he finds out!"
There were some things that were insanely attractive on a woman. Confidence. Overt sexuality. Flirting themselves silly. Mark didn’t find the sobbing mess thing attractive in the least. Women who were basket cases never really did much for him. They were too needy, clingy. They were usually not very good in bed because they were too distracted. Yet, here was Izzie Stevens, her blond hair tied in a messy knot on her head, vomit covering her legs and feet, snot clogging her nose ... and all he wanted to do was hug her. So he did. "It’s okay, Stevens."
Izzie welcomed the arms around her and leaned against him. It felt like an eternity since she felt safe, protected. Warm. She had been freezing inside since Denny died. She hugged him back, hanging on tight. He smelled amazing and despite the stubble on his cheek, he was soft. She felt his breath against her ear and her toes curled in her sneakers. He held her for a while, rubbing her back, and when he eased away from her, she said, "Thanks."
He took the cloth from her and wiped her hair back, then surprised himself by planting a kiss on her forehead. "Have dinner with me tonight?"
"Please? Anything you want." He cupped her cheek. "No beavers or wood. No expectations. Just dinner."
"Why? Why would you -"
"Because you don’t like me. And I want you to change the reasons why."
"You would have to become a completely different person, Sloan."
He tilted her head, gazing into her eyes. "Maybe you could help me."
"Why would I want to?"
"Maybe I could become someone you could care about ... maybe even like a little?"
"I don’t have a magic wand."
"Your eyes are pretty magic. So is your smile." He touched the tip of her nose. "Not your breath, though."
"I’m sick! And do women actually respond when you say crap like that?"
"None that I give a damn about."
Izzie snorted. "So you give a damn about me now?"
"I’ll decide that after dinner."
"I didn’t say I was going."
"You didn’t say you weren’t. I’m an eternal optimist. And I’ll pick you up at eight."
He walked out of the room, his head held high, and Izzie stared after him --- intrigued. And wary.
After she cleaned herself up, she would have to call George and tell him what she had done.
Prisons in the United States can be intimidating places for visitors. Most of what has been depicted in movies is fairly accurate. They’re over crowded, understaffed, and the inmates go completely insane when a woman appears. It was no exception when Callie and Addison arrived for the hearing. The yard, which was fenced and topped with barbed wire, was crawling with inmates. They weren’t close enough to touch the women, but their words carried loud and clear. The catcalls began the moment Callie stepped out of the cab and continued as Addison followed her toward the front door.
Blushing profusely, Callie opened the door of the prison and let Addison enter ahead of her. Jake Simmons, the same man who had prosecuted the case years before, greeted her immediately. She told him about Mack Porter, but he wasn’t surprised. Jake had already been contacted by police in Seattle and had helped the police investigate Molly’s death a little further, looking for a possible link. Mack Porter’s name had been bandied about frequently, but because no one could locate him, he had not been questioned.
"I was notified by the police this morning that Mack is still being questioned," Jake said. "He will be formally charged with attempted murder."
"What about Molly? Do you - do you think she did kill herself or was Mack involved?" Addison asked the question that Callie was dying to know.
"All the evidence would suggest that she did commit suicide. She changed her will, donated a vast majority of her money to charity, and left this for you, Callie." Jake pulled an envelope out of his jacket pocket. "I think that there is a key of some kind in it. I haven’t opened it and her specific instructions were for you to open it after the hearing. I don’t know what it could be."
Callie accepted the envelope. She could feel the key under her thumb and her heart broke a little, thinking that Molly had placed it there. Before she - before she died. She had spoken to Molly a few times over the years and had learned that Molly was a writer. Because she had lost both hands, she relied on a voice prompted typing program, and she had sent Callie quite a few short stories. Her talent had been undeniable and she had made a comfortable living for herself doing freelance work for several popular publications.
Addison put her hand on Callie’s shoulder, watching as her friend stared down at the envelope. "Want me to hang on to it for you?"
"No, thank you. Consider it those notes you wanted me to make." Callie folded it, but kept it firmly in her hand. She looked at Jake and said, "It’s time. Right?"
"We have a few minutes. I want to prepare you." Jake led the two women to a bench that sat against the wall. He waited for them to sit down, then pulled one of the stiff backed chairs across from the bench a little closer. "Roy Porter has not aged well. He looks like an old man now and he has taken a liking to tattoos. He also claims to have ‘found God’ in jail and will likely speak about that at length. A pastor from a local church has been communicating with him and will be testifying in a ‘character witness’ capacity. You have the option of remaining in there to hear it all or you can wait out here until they’re ready for you."
"I - I don’t want to hear anyone talk about how great he is."
"Okay," Jake replied, making a small note on a piece of a paper. "Miss Montgomery, you will be allowed to accompany her inside the room, but you will not be able to stand up with her. You’ll have to keep your seat and you aren’t allowed to speak."
"I understand," Addison replied. "Will he speak to her?"
Callie, who had been studying the envelope again, glanced up quickly. "He won’t, will he?"
"He’s not supposed to," Jake said. "But he may have an outburst of some kind. We can’t predict how he will handle your testimony. He could become irate."
Callie gave him a small nod. "How long will it take for them to be ready for me?"
"It could be minutes. It could be an hour." Jake studied her. "It’s very important that you speak slowly and articulate what you need to say in a calm manner. If you need to you cry, you cry, but don’t call him names, don’t attack him, don’t threaten him. The worst thing you can do is to cause the panel to feel sorry for him."
Addison shook her head furiously. "That’s unbelievable! She should stay calm? She should accept the fact that she was attacked, but refrain from verbally attacking him? What the hell is wrong with you people?"
"Addy." Callie reached over and took her hand. "I love you for your temper and for your need to be pissed on my behalf, but it’s okay. I got this same speech at the trial. It was better then because Jake gave me a donut to calm me down."
Jake dug into his pocket and handed her a peppermint. "It’s not glazed, but it’s good."
Grinning, she accepted it. "You still keep hard candy in your pocket."
"I have to. I have to keep something in my mouth during trials to prevent me from screaming at someone." He patted her leg and stood, putting the chair back against the wall. He watched her for a second, then kneeled down beside her. "You wanna know something?"
"I don’t have to worry about you in there. You’ve got this."
"Thank you." She smiled at him, shocked that she could considering how much she wanted to cry. "Uhm, is there a time limit on how long I speak?"
"You speak until you’re done."
The wait was less than twenty minutes, but it felt like days. After weeks of being friends, Callie and Addison both understood the need for silence. They sat side by side, waiting. Callie opened her mouth a couple of times to inquire about Addison’s leg, but the words refused to come. Likewise, Addison wanted to ask Callie if she was ready, if she was okay, but the words that passed, unspoken, between them were loud and clear. They could rely on each other and Callie was grateful that it was Addison who sat so close that their legs touched. She drew strength from it.
As weird as it was, her thoughts turned to her mother. Granted, Olivia was horrific, but sometimes Callie wished that she could live up to her mother’s expectations and be considered worthy of her love. Callie figured it would have been easier to know her mother was dead. Instead, she was dead to her mother and there was no harder way to miss someone than knowing they were there, but they didn’t want you in their life. It was at times like this though, times when she would have welcomed a mother’s touch, that she felt the lowest. She made a mental note to call Louise after it was over and ask her if she’d have lunch with her in a few days. Louise wasn’t her mother ... but she was as close to one as Callie could hope for.
The door to the room where the hearing would take place opened suddenly and Addison jumped so hard that her crutch fell. "I keep doing that!" she cried. "I’m sorry."
Callie slowly got to her feet. Jake nodded at her and she took a deep breath. Bending down, she grabbed Addison’s crutch and handed it to her, helping her to her feet. When Addison was upright, Callie hugged her. "Thank you, Addy" she said softly. "For everything."
Addison’s eyes swam with tears and she nodded. "Go get ‘em."
Jake motioned for Callie to stop just outside the door. He smiled a little and said, "The pastor never showed up. We don’t know why, but he’s not here. That’s a good thing."
Callie barely registered his words. As she stepped into the room, several pairs of eyes fell on her, but she focused on the American flag that was hanging on the wall as she approached the podium. She folded her hands on the cool, mahogany wood, still clutching the envelope. There were four people sitting at a long table, facing her and she let her gaze fall on each of them for a moment. Jake moved to sit at a table to her right and without having to look, she knew that Roy Porter was a few feet from her on the left. She could almost smell him ... the same repulsive odor of sweat and anger that had clung to him for days in the small shed behind his house.
She wanted to speak. She wanted to say something, anything, but she couldn’t.
Not until she faced down the devil.
She turned her head slightly, letting her eyes fall of Roy. Despite his shocking white hair and tattooed face, she would have recognized him anywhere. He was looking at her with interest, his gaze traveling the length of her body. It was sickening and when his eyes finally found hers, she glared at him until *he* looked away.
Round one had gone to her.
She was empowered, but when she turned and faced the panel again, her palms began to sweat and her tongue was glued to the roof of her mouth.
Then something clattered behind her and she heard Addison whispering her apologies and Callie had to smile. Addison and her damn crutch had reminded her that she wasn’t alone.
Callie took a deep breath. When she spoke, her voice was strong and unwavering. "I’m not here to talk to you about what Roy Porter did to me. The fact that I’m standing here at all should be enough to confirm that my prior testimony was the truth, but if it’s not, I’ll say it again. This man kidnapped, terrorized, and raped me repeatedly for four days. I was a thirteen year old child at the time and he destroyed everything innocent in my world.
"I don’t want to talk to you about that, however. I want to talk to you about a girl who couldn’t be here today. A girl whose voice is far from silenced even though she can no longer speak. I want to talk to you about a girl who never had a mother because her mother died during childbirth and despite that, this girl had the instinctive and protective nature to mother *me*. Even though she was a year younger than me and even though she had never had that influence ... on the day that her father attacked me, she tried to save me. And it cost her her life.
"I know what it felt like for Roy Porter to plow into me again and again and again, tearing my body and ripping my insides apart, but I can’t begin to fathom what this girl, what Molly Porter, felt when he did it to her. Roy was my vocal coach, but he was her *father*. She loved him. He was her best friend. He was her ‘show and tell’ ... she always asked him to sing for her class on show and tell days. When she looked at him, her big, blue eyes were filled with love and adoration. He could do no wrong.
"If I try really hard, I can remember her eyes that way. I can remember her eyes when she smiled at him, laughed at him, and watched him coach me. But if I conjure her face in my mind, the way that I’m doing right now, the first image I get is her eyes filled with terror. He raped me, but he mutilated her with every violent thrust of his hips. She couldn’t look at him, she looked at me while it happened to her and that’s the image I have to this day. A little girl being demolished by the man that she loved and trusted above anyone else.
"And when I hear her in my head ... I don’t hear her laughing anymore. I hear her crying. I hear her teeth chattering from the cold. I hear her wailing for her father, even though he had used her and cast her aside in the dirt of that shack ... his semen drying on her legs. I hear her telling me that she had peed on herself, but it wasn’t urine, it was blood. I didn’t know why she was bleeding. I didn’t know why I was bleeding, but I can still hear her asking me if I hurt as much she did. If it hurt to close my legs.
"Roy hosed us down with cold water every few hours for four days. He never spoke to us, never listened to us cry and beg him not to hurt us again. She asked him why he was doing that to her, to us, every time he came into the shed and he looked right through her. He eventually gagged her, but I could still hear her. I closed my eyes, turned away, but I still heard everything ... even his laughter when she would almost throw up from what he was doing to her. And I can hear her begging him to stop what he would do to me. Again and again and again.
"Imagine that. Imagine being a child, locked in a cold, terrifying place, and the person who you believe in more than anything in the world is the reason for it. Imagine your own father doing that to you. Now imagine that salvation finally comes, you’re saved, you’re being rushed to the hospital and for the first time in four days you can have something to drink, something to eat, but they don’t let you because you’re immediately rushed into surgery.
"When you wake up, you want to believe that it was all a nightmare, that the aches and pains aren’t real. You reach for a glass of water and you don’t have any hands. I could hear her screaming all the way down the hall in my room when she realized that her hands were gone. Roy took my childhood from me, but I healed. Molly lost both of her hands because he had tied her so tightly. He knew. She told him that it hurt. By the third day her hands were black and had started to stink as the flesh died, but he didn’t care. The parts of her that he was interested in destroying were alive and well. I wear my scars on the inside. But she wore hers on her sleeve the way some people wear their hearts. She had a constant, daily reminder of what happened to her. He crippled her body and broke her soul.
"And she could have given up. She could have become a statistic ... a drug addict, lived off the government, but she didn’t. I didn’t see her again until the trial and we weren’t allowed to talk to each other because it would have ‘tainted’ our testimony. When she saw me in the hallway, she proudly waved her arm at me, her chin held high, but her eyes ... they were not the same. There was no spark anymore. Just like me ... the last pieces of our childhood remained on the dirty, bloody floor of that shed.
"We both graduated high school with honors. We both went to college and earned degrees. She wrote. Despite her lack of hands .. she wrote the most amazing things I’ve ever read. She wrote about the human spirit and the wonderful things that people are capable of. We kept in touch off and on. But talking to each other was just a reminder of what had happened and it was hard to speak about the weather or stories or school with that hanging all over us. Like I said, we had been childhood friends before it happened, but afterwards, we became reminders of all that was lost. And it hurt to conjure that image every time we heard each other speak.
"I’m here to tell you why you shouldn’t give this man early release. Why he should remain firmly behind bars and apparently what he did to us isn’t enough to solidify that on its own." Callie clutched the envelope a little tighter, feeling the key inside. "Molly Porter, the strongest person I ever knew, the girl in my story, killed herself when she found out that there was going to be a parole hearing. Molly killed herself because the prospect of facing her father again, of having to convince you all for a second time that our lives are more important than his, of having to talk about it again ... was too much. And it’s wrong to make people stand here and plead for you to uphold justice when the monster who did it gets to sit there and hold court.
"Roy Porter went to prison for kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault, and child abuse, but he’s guilty of murder just as sure as I stand here before you. He killed her. He killed her by wounding her heart so much that it took over fifteen years for it to finally kill her. Her blood is on his hands and if *that* is not enough reason for you to keep him here then shame on you. A man’s worth should be measured by his actions. And Roy Porter’s actions should forfeit his right to freedom for the rest of his life. He took hers. He wrecked mine. And if you let him go and he does it to someone else ... remember my words here today and think of a little girl with blond hair and blue eyes who couldn’t be here, but who is talking just as loud as if she were standing here. A little girl who took the witness stand once already and was told to point her finger at the man who had hurt her, but she didn’t have a finger to point. She pointed what was left and her words put him behind bars. And that is where he should stay."
Callie looked at Roy Porter again. He didn’t look at her and she was infuriated to see the tears rolling down his cheeks. "You sit there and cry like you’re sorry for what you did, Roy, but I know better. You’d do it again if you could. I don’t think we were your first victims. I feel it in my gut that you had done it before because the way you made us suffer ... that wasn’t new to you. That came with the skill and ease of plenty of practice. But we *are* your last victims. I am as sure of that as I am that you’re going to rot in here. And when I leave this room ... you think of that. You think of me stepping out into the sunlight and returning to my life, a life that you didn’t ruin after all. And you think of Molly. You think of what you did to her and you listen to her beg the same way I listen every single day ... and *then* you’ll have a reason to cry."
She turned and nodded at the panel, meeting each one of them in the eye. "Thank you for your time."
The two men and two women who sat at the table nodded at her, but didn’t speak.
Callie turned to walk out and broke into a smile so big it hurt. The only thing she needed right then had arrived.
George was sitting next to Addison and while his face was streaked with tears, he was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. He got to his feet slowly and she walked into his outstretched arms, closing her eyes, breathing him in.
Getting to that moment had been the longest and most painful journey Callie had ever taken, but the friends she made along the way made it worth it. He clung to her and Addison rose beside him, leaning her head against Callie’s. Regardless of the outcome, Callie was content that she had done the best she could.
She had conquered what had been the biggest obstacle she had ever faced. At times, she had crawled and relied on others to pull her back to her feet, but in the end, she had done it on her own. Courageously. She didn’t need to wait to hear what the panel decided. As far as she was concerned ... it was over.
Callie pulled away from George and nodded at the door, which opened suddenly. A uniformed police officer entered the room and took his hat off. "I’m sorry to interrupt, ladies and gentlemen," he said, calmly. "We received a very interesting confession from Mack Porter this morning implicating Roy Porter in the abduction, rape, and murder of at least ten women here in the city and two in Chicago."
Roy leapt to his feet suddenly, upending the table. He was immediately subdued by two guards and began to scream profanity at the top of his lungs. Then, he spat out, "They deserved it! They had it coming. They deserved to die! Filthy whores to the last! Every last one of them had it coming and so did my good for nothing daughter and that half breed bitch RIGHT THERE!"
Jake, who had moved to stand beside Callie said, "And that’s as good as a confession."
The atmosphere at the dinner table was light hearted, despite the stressful events that had led them there. One empty bottle of champagne had already been taken away and a second was on the way. Alex sat close to Addison, his arm resting casually on the back of her chair. George sat across from him, one hand on Callie’s leg as she recounted the massive beating that Addison had given Mack Porter. Addison held her arm up, making a muscle. "Apparently the crutches have been good for my upper arms because I *so* kicked his ass."
"Just one more thing that you should thank me for," Alex said. He grabbed his stomach when she playfully punched him and pulled her closer for a kiss. "I tell you, Montgomery, walking into that closet and knocking you off your feet is by far and away the best thing I’ve ever done."
"It was okay." Addison shrugged. "I think the best thing you do is something that we can’t discuss at the dinner table."
"By all means, baby, brag about me."
"Oh, I could. All day and all night."
"I’m going to barf," Callie said in a sing song voice. "Cut it out before I'm driven to violence."
"What are you going to do? Break my arm like you broke Mack Porter’s?" Addison told her. "She didn’t even bat an eyelash."
"My super powers were acting up again!" Callie replied. "And excuse me, but he *was* trying to kill me."
"You broke his arm?" Alex looked impressed. "Seriously?"
"Like a twig."
"You scare me," George told her. "I love it."
Callie kissed him. Never in her life would she have believed that she would have a best friend, a fiancé, a beautiful place to call home, and so much joy in her career. She was elated. She felt wonderful. She had called Pop and Chloe and let them know what happened and she had shocked herself when she started to dial her mother’s number. It wasn’t the first time that she had picked up the phone to call Olivia when something big happened in her life. She was, after all, still a girl and sometimes a girl needed her mother ... no matter how messed up that mother happened to be.
The waiter dropped off the fresh bottle of wine and filled their glasses again. Callie pushed aside the thoughts of her mother and lifted her glass. "To us. Because we survived."
"We’re cool." Alex grinned. "We’re like ... the Fab Four."
"The Beatles? No no no. We’re like the A-Team," Addison replied, clicking her class to Callie’s. "My favorite show in the eighties."
"Oh my god!" Callie cried. "What is it with you and the time warp you’ve been in for the last few days?"
"I feel like I’m reliving my teenage years! Okay?"
"There were no girls on the A-Team! If we have to be some eighties crap then you and me? We’re totally Laverne and Shirley if for no other reason than the rat thing last night. Alex and George are totally Bo and Luke from the Dukes of Hazzard. And the four of us together? Probably The Super Friends." Callie rolled her eyes. "We are *not* the A-Team."
"How are we Bo and Luke?" George asked, laughing.
"Because Bailey is absolutely Boss Hogg. She tries to keep you in line and you guys just ignore her," Callie replied. "One day she’s gonna bust a nut on all of you."
"She’s more like Mrs. Garrett from The Facts of Life," George said.
"Dude, there were no *guys* on *that* show." Alex finished off his dinner and added, "If Bailey is like *anyone* it’s G.I. Jane."
"That wasn’t the eighties. And it wasn’t a television show," George told him. "And she *is* like Mrs. Garrett. She’s tough as hell, but she loves us like we were her children."
"She loves *you*. The rest of us are just chopped liver."
"Well, she has good taste." George shrugged innocently.
"I think we’re more like Dynasty." Addison sipped her wine, leaning her head against Alex’s. "Our sordid love lives and entanglements are the stuff that prime time soap operas are made of."
"I’m over the soap opera." Callie shook her head. "Now I want smooth sailing."
"I can help with that," George said, squeezing her thigh. When she yelped, he pulled away and stared at her. "Are you hurt?"
Callie massaged the massive boot shaped bruise on her leg, frowning at the memory. "Mack Porter gave as good as he got."
"Let me see," George reached for the hem of her dress and started to push it up.
She caught his hand, gasping. "Oh my god! We’re in a five star restaurant! You so can not do that here."
"I’ll refrain from asking what he was doing and commend you for having the presence of mind to stop him, Calliope."
Callie turned in her seat and gazed up at her mother. Olivia Archfield stood beside the table, one hand on her hip, the other clutching a large purse. Callie blinked several times, then said, "What are you doing here?"
"I always eat here when I’m in town."`
"Why are you in town?"
"Where else would I be?"
"What do you mean?"
"Oh for goodness sake. Play dumb, Calliope." Olivia waved her hand. "I couldn't come to the prison. That would have been ill-bred of me and would have required me signing autographs for felons. It would have been splashed all over the news that I had visited and my PR team would have been forced to come up with something profound that I would pay them dearly for. So, I knew that this was your favorite place and here I am."
"Again I’m forced to ask why."
"How did you do today?"
Callie sighed, painfully aware that her dinner guests had not moved a muscle. It was awkward. Even to her it was awkward and it was her own mother. "Do you want me to say that I screwed up? Would that make you go away happy?"
Olivia brushed her hair back, her gaze on Callie. "I know you didn’t screw up. As much as it pains me to admit it ... you don’t know how. And it’s a shock to me that you have the ability to succeed at everything you set your mind to because you didn’t get that from me. And you certainly didn’t get it from Miguel."
"I got that from *me*, mother. Because Pop taught me how to believe in myself enough to make up for the fact that you never did."
"My therapist said it was important for me to come here today. I didn’t expect you to welcome me with open arms or to be happy to see me, but I’m here." Olivia shifted from one foot to the other. "I became a mother when I was very young and I didn’t know what I was doing. I made mistakes. I treated you poorly and I made you suffer. I can admit that now."
"Does your therapist want me to say it’s okay?"
"No, but I do."
Callie watched as her mother’s chin began to tremble. "I’m not doing this. I’m not doing this here or in front of my friends or ... at all. You - you can’t show up here after what happened the other day at Pop’s and expect me to just ... be grateful or whatever. My entire life --- you have been a constant disappointment to me and that’s not okay."
"I want to be a part of your life now, Calliope."
"Why? Why now? Because you know that Pop left me everything in his will? Because you know that I’m perfectly fine without you?"
"I want to be a part of your life because I’m not perfectly fine without you." Olivia shook her head. "I never taught you any lessons, Calliope, but looking at you, looking at your life, I think that you could teach me a few. I’m lonely. I have no one at all. No one at home, no one to call and talk to, no one to love me."
"I can’t compensate for your shortcomings."
"I don’t want you to. I just - I want to call you sometimes and really talk to you. I want to get to know you and -- and your young man."
"He has a name! George!"
"George. I want to get to know George and help you plan your wedding."
"How did you know that we’re engaged?"
"Daddy told me. He’s so proud of you. I have a trophy case full of awards and he’s never talked about me the way he does you." Olivia took a step forward, lightly touching Callie’s hair. "When your father and I left Calliope’s Garden the other day I looked down and my heart was gone. The things I said to you - the way I left it ... it’s been killing me. I know you don’t believe me and you think I have an ulterior motive for saying this, but I do love you. And you turned out just fine."
Callie attempted to swallow the lump in her throat, but it wouldn’t budge. When Olivia leaned down and kissed her on the head, the first motherly thing that she had ever done, Callie closed her eyes and felt a tear drop down her cheek. Part of her, the part that had always longed for her mother’s affection, wanted to cling to the woman, hold on for dear life and let her mother kiss away the pain of the day. She had been wounded too many times to let her guard down completely, however.
Olivia pulled back a little, cupping Callie’s face. She wiped the tear from her daughter’s cheek and leaned down, kissing the fading cut on her cheek. "You’re beautiful. You take my breath away."
Callie glanced down at her hands when her mother stood and addressed the other people at the table. "I’m sorry for intruding on your dinner. It’s on me. Have a safe trip home."
Callie stared after her mother, painfully aware that her friends were watching her. Olivia had stopped to sign an autograph for a young girl and Callie slowly got to her feet as Olivia glanced back at her, nodding her head slightly. Forgiveness was a lesson that George had taught her. After Callie had slept with Mark Sloane ... he somehow found it in himself to let her back into his life. And after the events of the day ... she knew what she had to do. "I’ll be right back," she told George.
Callie caught her mother on the sidewalk. Olivia was heading toward a white limo. "Hey!"
"Yes?" Olivia turned on her heel. She looked positively shocked to see that it was Callie who had called after her and not a fan. She took her sunglasses off, her face hopeful. "Callie, are you-"
"You’ve never really called me Callie before," she said.
"You’re a wonderful actress. You - you could almost make me believe anything."
"I don’t know if you’re being genuine right now, but I want to believe it. I guess a part of me has to believe it because I’ve always wanted to hear it. I’m not saying that I forgive you because I’m not going to lie to you." Callie shrugged. "But you - you can call me sometimes and I’ll call you."
"Really?" Olivia smiled at her. "Because that’s all I want."
"We do have a few things in common. I know what it’s like to feel alone, mom."
"You’ve never really called me mom before. I like the sound of that." Olivia took a step toward her. "I didn’t just come here because of my therapist. I received a package from Molly Porter. She had written a story. It was our story, Callie, and she left it unfinished. It made me realize that my life is unfinished without you in it."
"Can I read it?"
"Yes." Olivia nodded, taking another step closer. "We can write the ending right now if you wanted to."
"What do you mean?"
"All the best stories end with swelling music and a hug." Stopping in front of her, Olivia opened her arms. "I should have held you closer to me when you were a child. Is it too late to start now?"
Callie shook her head and stepped into her mother’s embrace. She returned it, hanging on tight. A little girl walked past. A little girl with blond hair and blue eyes and she smiled at Callie. For the briefest moment, she could have sworn it was Molly and she gasped.
Olivia stepped back. "Are you okay?"
"I spoke on Molly’s behalf today. I said the things that she would have wanted said and I made it about her." Callie took Olivia’s hand in hers. "Please be telling the truth because if you are --- then maybe Molly heard me and she sent you here because she knew that I needed you. I need you. I need my mom."
Olivia burst into tears and nodded at her, hugging her again. "I won’t disappoint you. You’ll see. Whatever it takes to keep you in my life is what I’ll do."
"You’re off to a good start."