DISCLAIMER: I don't own any characters herein, and I will return them (mostly) unharmed once I'm done playing. I am making no money from writing these stories. As a non-profit interpretation of the original work, this constitutes fair use under USC 17.107.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To rachel.mercer[at]hotmail.com
SPOILERS: through "Rise Up" (5.07)

Between The Shores
By hnsnrachel


The sand slides through her hands as she sits in the moonlight. Cold and smooth, it escapes between her clenched fingers and drifts away the way she wishes the memories and disappointments of Seattle would scatter. The wind that whips her blonde curls around her face creates a curtain from behind which she feels safe to murmur, "She never cared the way I wanted her to."

She doesn't expect an answer as she turns her head away from the wind and dips it down, shrouding her face completely. There's a long pause, but her companion finally responds with a placation that raises the blonde's ire. "I don't know that that's true."

Erica's posture doesn't change as she slides long fingers back into the ground beneath her, clasping another handful of the miniscule stone. She holds it out in front of her again; almost mesmerized by the way it swirls in the wind, even protected as they are by the ramp of the lifeguard shack that hides them from prying eyes. "Her actions prove it." The blonde's voice is tight, strained by the anger she's trying desperately to hold back. This isn't a new conversation, and she's tired of it, tired of not saying what she wishes she could say.

"Her actions prove she was scared, Erica." Addison is more insistent now, trying to show Erica that there could be more than one reason for their friend's behavior. "Don't her apologies since mean something?"

The blonde turns her face once more, this time into the wind, the brisk sea air driving it away from her, a stream of gold behind her as the salt settles on her lips, reminding her of the tears she'd shed before leaving Seattle. The single word that leaves her mouth is almost lost beneath the crash of the Pacific against land, but the redhead hears her perfectly, maybe because she's expecting it. "No."

"Why not?"

"Once is a mistake."

"It can be a mistake more than once. Can you honestly say you've always learned your lessons the first time?"

"Yes. And Callie…" Erica looks down at the sand again, watching as the wind threatens to hurtle it into the air around them. Looking back at her friend, her features still, settled, her mind obviously made up, the blonde continues. "Callie was a mistake."

"So, that's it?"

"That's it."

"You can shut her out of your heart just like that? That's cold, Erica."

Catching her friend's eyes, Erica's face deviates slightly, the stoic expression folding in on itself just a little, revealing a crack in her exterior that the blonde would never want anyone to see. Before any words can come, Erica scrambles out from beneath the hut, her hair and jacket streaming behind her in the wind as she stalks down the beach, making walking across the sand look easy. As Addison follows her, she has a little more trouble finding her footing, and she calls after the other woman, wishing she'd stop. She doesn't; Erica's figure diminishing quickly as the darkness seems to wrap around her.

The redhead glances around her, contemplating something, then shucks off her shoes, finding more purchase with her bare feet as she races down the beach. She comes to a sudden stop just minutes, later as she finds Erica silhouetted by the moonlight, her still posture belying the emotions that rage beneath the surface. She's nothing but a dark figure against the silver-blue sand, a shadow in the moonlight that swathes the beach. Breathing a heavy sigh, the other woman takes two steps forward, hoping her silence will entice the blonde to speak.

It does, but she doesn't hear the words she's so desperately hoping to. "Go away."

"You know I can't do that."

"Leave. Me. Alone." Though she can't see Erica's face, the tone betrays the fact that she's speaking the words through clenched teeth, the anger seeping across the space between them. "Go call Callie, report back, whatever the fuck you're doing. Just leave me alone. I don't want to talk about her anymore."

"Has being alone helped you yet?"

There's a pregnant pause, and the answer is clear, though Erica would never admit it. "It's better than talking about her. "

"Is it really?" Before the blonde can answer, Addison continues, cutting off the venomous words that she's sure Erica wants to aim in her direction. "Or does it just hurt less?"

"Isn't it the same thing? I'm over it, Addison. It happened." It's bitter, but something breaks in the words, an indication that, while Erica is trying to pretend she wants to be alone, it's actually the last thing in this world that she longs for. "And I want something else now." The last is a whisper that Addison doesn't hear.

"Erica…" She steps forward, palms raised a little as though to display that she means no harm. Erica's tense stance doesn't change, and the sigh that escapes her is similar to a mother who's been run off her feet all day by brats who still won't calm down. It's harried, resigned, nothing that the redhead is hoping to inspire. "I'm not reporting anything to Callie. Believe it or not, I like you. I like you a lot, actually, and I don't blame you at all. I think Callie did the stupidest thing she ever did when she chased you away and there's a lot of competition for that particular honor." Erica laughs, low and bitter but still refuses to really meet the eyes that are trying to lock on her own. "I believe her when she says she regrets it. I believe that, if she could do it over again, she'd change everything… and I believe that you think you can't let the way she hurt you go. I just want you to be sure that you're ready to let go. And if you are… you need to let go. If you don't want to be with her, if you don't want to try and see if you can make things work… you need to let go."

"So she can move on?"

"No. Callie needs some alone time. If you want to let go, you really have to let go. Not for Callie. For you."

Erica tries not to tear up at the realization that someone really does care about her in all of this. All she's been hearing is that she was wrong to leave, and she really couldn't see any other alternative. How could she stay at a hospital that operated like Seattle Grace? How could she further her career? She didn't leave the hospital because of Callie, though. She left the hospital because she had to. She left Seattle because of Callie. "This really isn't about fixing things for Callie?"

"Callie's big enough to make the mess. If she really wanted it fixed, she should be big enough to try herself. This is about you. I want you to be okay."

"I know you mean well, but I am okay. Everyone seems to think I'm going to have a breakdown. This is just who I am. I don't feel my emotions where everyone can see them, Addison."

"Then how did I call you and Callie as a couple before you were a couple?"

"Over-developed gaydar?"

"Your heart is more on your sleeve than you think it is."

"Then why are you asking me about Callie? If my hearts on my sleeve, you should know she doesn't matter."

"You're fooling yourself. She matters. She will always matter. You have to make peace with that."

"Why won't you listen to me? Callie isn't a part of my life anymore. It sucked for a while, it did, but I'm over it, I'm done. What more can I say? How do I prove it to you?"

"You don't need to prove it to me. Prove it to yourself."

"I'm very, very clear on who I want, Addison. And it's not Callie. It hasn't been Callie for a long time."

Addison's eyes widen as she realizes that Erica honestly hasn't been mooning over Callie. Almost imperceptibly, her breathing speeds up as blue eyes fix on her, categorizing her face. Feeling breathless, light-headed, more from fear than anything else, she whispers, "Who is it?"

The blonde studies her a little longer, taking in the rapid rise and fall of her chest, the flush that's stained the redhead's cheeks. She's not sure, but she thinks she knows what Addison fears, and it's not what Callie or Sloan or even Shepherd – who should know her better than anyone else – would think. She thinks she knows what Addison's fishing has really been about, and it's not Callie. Making a decision, Erica reaches out to brush hair away from her companion's face, before cupping her cheek and looking deep into her eyes. Her suspicions are validated as Addison freezes, her breathing stopped by anticipation, not fear. Taking a small step closer, Erica smiles just slightly, leaning in towards the other woman, feeling Addison move into her touch. "Guess," is a warm whisper of a breath across Addison's lips before Erica closes the gap between them, the kiss gentle.

As Erica's tongue sweeps across Addison's lips, begging for entrance, Addison thinks, giddily, not about Callie at all. And then she loses all thought but how good it feels to finally be kissing Erica, wondering why she hasn't been doing it since the first time they met. She wraps her arms around the blonde, pulling their bodies closer together, lost in the sensation. Eventually though, the need for oxygen forces them to part, and they stare deeply into each other's eyes, seeking and giving reassurance. Smiling wickedly, Erica whispers, "Any ideas, Dr. Montgomery?"

Addison returns the smile, watching as Erica's eyes darken slightly as she tightens her arms around the blonde's body and tugs them closer. Guiding them into another kiss, Addison whispers against the blonde's lips, "I'll get back to you."

The End

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