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)
I Want To Come Over
There are no new starts. You can't get a do-over in life. Once something's been said, once something's been done, it can't be undone. Even if you try to push it away, force it down, forget it - it affects you. It's why, no matter how we try, Callie and I can't shift the tension that settles around us when we're alone. We're both professionals, we know how to mask deeper emotion with friendship, and dislike with collegial respect when inside the hospital, but outside... It feels like we're on a precipice. It's unsteadying to know that everything we've built so carefully since she told me that she's married could fall down around us and leave us bare to each other. With just one wrong - or right - move, we could shatter the wall of "just friends" that's we've erected between us.
Callie feels it too. It's the only thing that explains why, for the last few weeks, our 'alone' hang-out time has been in places that are full of people. We don't go to her place for obvious reasons, and we've tried hanging out at mine, but the something that draws us together always becomes just that little too much, and we part with nervous smiles and awkward 'no hip contact' hugs.
I still savor even that touch a little too much.
It also explains why I'm confined to pacing behind the door of my living room while Callie's alone in my bedroom, rifling through my closet. It's killing me. I made her a promise, and I'll keep it, but I want to drink in the sight of her in my bedroom. God damn my hormones, I want us to cross that line. I hate myself for it, but I want her so badly that the slightest provocation drives me insane.
A muffled affirmation.
"You done yet? I need a drink."
I step into the hallway as Callie sticks her head out my bedroom door and steals my breath. She's always unbearably beautiful, but now... there are no words. She's smiling, a twinkle in her eyes that tells me she's about to tease.
"You, Hahn, have no dancing clothes. None at all. How does that happen?"
I shrug in response. I'm not the dancing kind of girl, and Callie should really know that by now. She insists I need to go though, and, let's be honest, my protests were only for show. The idea of being crushed against Callie in the crowd, the idea of seeing her dance, the idea of seeing her all dressed up... it's ridiculously tempting, despite my wooden dance moves. I run my eyes across her as she steps into the hall, and I don't know what she's been doing in my bedroom, but I don't think I care. Not when her skin is flushed, her breath is coming a little harder than usual and her hair is ruffled where she's run her hands through it. She looks exactly the way I want her to look in my bedroom, only she has on more clothes. The tension settles around us again, and I'm sure she knows what I'm thinking while I stare at her. I think she's thinking it too, because we're not moving, and her eyes are as fixated on me as mine are on her. It's too much. It's all too much. I can't read the look in her eyes for a second, and then I can't see her eyes at all as she drops her gaze to the floor.
"I, uh... I could drink. Joe's?"
I want to suggest we stay here, to revel in the torture of resisting this tension, to see just how far the barrier can be pushed without breaking. I know she won't though, and I know I shouldn't even be thinking it, so I nod. "Joe's is good."
The tension between us has mostly disappeared by the time we settle into a booth at Joe's. Callie's lined up three shots of tequila and a gin and tonic. She's proven more than once since that first night that I only thought I could out-drink her. She tosses back two of the shots, and I watch her, nursing my glass of red wine. I can't tear my eyes away from her, however hard I try. Her hair falls around her face, carelessly perfect, and I want to run my hands through it as I tug her in to kiss me. No matter how often I remind myself that we're friends, that we can only be friends, I can't help but want more. Spending time with her is the most delicious torture. I don't know if I can keep doing this, but I can't tear myself away from her, no matter how hard I try.
"What're you thinking?" She sucks on the piece of lemon while she waits for me to formulate an answer, and I almost groan. Everything she does sparks something inside of me, and I know I should remove myself from the temptation, but more than I want her, I genuinely like her. I don't know what she sees in me that keeps her coming back, but whatever it is, I'm thankful for it.
"I like being here." It's not a lie. I was thinking about how much I like being here with her. I don't need to tell her that I was also thinking how hard it is to be this close, but still so far from what I really need.
"Me too." She tosses back the third shot, and gestures to Joe for more. "You're joining me this time, Dr. Hahn."
"No. Tequila does not agree with me." It makes me do and say stupid things, and I'm so close to doing and saying those things when I'm around her that I don't think I need to encourage myself.
"Come on, Erica. Live a little." She gives me the cheeky smirk that she's already learned can get me to do almost anything, and I shake my head. I'm determined to stand strong on this one. We've built this facade so painstakingly, and I need to keep it in place. It would be too easy to cross the line, and I'm terrified of losing her. It almost kills me that we have to be friends, but I don't know that I can be without her now that she's brought so much laughter and joy into my life. I can take the pain she also brings because her smile lights up my world. She brings color and shades of gray into a life that has been black and white for far too long.
Joe brings over the bottle of tequila, clearly knowing Callie far too well. All my colleagues spend an insane amount of time in this bar, I've discovered. He offers us both a smile, and a quick "Dr. Hahn" in greeting to me before retreating back to the bar, leaving the bottle on the table. He watches us with interest, though, and I wonder if he senses that there's more to our friendship than meets the eye.
Callie pours out two shots, nudging one towards me. "Please?"
I sigh heavily, knowing that I'm beaten. "Just one." I point my finger towards her for emphasis, and she grins happily at me.
"On three." She counts slowly and we toss back the shots. I grimace at the taste, hating the way it burns all the way down. Shaking my head in disgust at how easily I caved, I suck the lemon, savoring the relief the bitterness brings. Callie's gaze seems to burn through me as I do so, and - not for the first time - I'm wondering what she's thinking. I sip at my wine, grateful that it chases the tequila away.
"I'm not doing any more shots, Cal. I have to operate tomorrow, and a hangover won't help any."
"Lightweight." Her smile lessens the taunt, and I grin back at her. When did I stop being the ice queen? I very carefully molded myself to that image, but Callie melts it away, seemingly without trying. It's such a dangerous line that we're walking, but we tiptoe along it anyway. The safer thing to do would be to remove ourselves from the source of temptation, but never let it be said that I take the easy road. I took the hard route through college, med school and becoming a surgeon, and now I'm finding time to invest in a personal life, I'm apparently taking the hard road here, too.
"Erica?" Callie's voice is tentative, and I lift my gaze to hers. There's something flickering in her eyes that I can't place, and I nod, waiting for her to continue. "Can I ask you something?"
"I think you just did."
"Very funny. Just... can I?" She drops her gaze, fiddling with the placemat as she stares at the table as though it holds answers to questions I don't understand.
"How did you know you were..." She shakes her head, and I wonder if she's telling herself she's stupid for even broaching the topic.
"Gay? It's okay, Callie, you can say it. The world won't end." She tries to smile at me, but it ends up more like a grimace, and more than ever before, I want to know what's going on in her mind.
I want to tease her, ask her if there's a reason she's asking, if there's something she wants to tell me, but I don't. We've avoided any topic that has the potential to bring us back to the kisses we shared, a silent agreement drawn up when we decided that we would try to be friends, and for her to risk breaking that... she must really want to know.
Staring into my wine, I contemplate the answer. I must be quiet for too long, because I feel her shift in her seat, uncomfortable in the silence that's fallen across us. "You don't have to tell me."
"It's okay. I just... I've never really had this conversation before. I don't know quite how to start. I guess... I knew early, I think. I didn't know I knew, I didn't know what I was feeling, not really, but I knew I didn't look at boys the same way the other girls at school did. I never really wanted them to notice me. I just didn't care what they thought. I pretended I did, every now and then, but I was invisible to everyone but the teachers, so it didn't really matter."
Meeting Callie's gaze, I see the empathy in them. I think she knows how it felt to be invisible, for the other kids not to notice you unless they have something mean to say. It gives me the strength I need. I wasn't bullied in school, not really, it was more that no one really cared that I existed. "When I look back at things, I've had crushes on women my whole life. I idolized some female teachers to the point where I would ask for extra-credit just to spend more time with them, and I noticed things about other girls that weren't the things that everyone else was noticing, you know?" Callie nods, but stays quiet, waiting for me to continue. "It wasn't until college that I realized what was so different about me. My roommate that first semester was... beautiful. Long brown hair, amazing green eyes, legs so long it was almost unbelievable... and we bonded so quickly it was unreal."
"She was your first?"
"My first real crush. We used to talk for hours, and I spent so much time thinking about kissing her it was ridiculous. I never really had to think about it. I never doubted how I felt. It didn't feel wrong, and gay issues weren't really talked about, so I don't really think that there was anything out there telling me that I was wrong. I came home from college that Christmas and I couldn't stop thinking about her. I couldn't stop talking about her. I think my Dad knew how I felt about her, because he told me that I needed to concentrate on my studies, and if I couldn't do that, there was no point in me being at college. He told me that I wasn't there to make friends, or anything else, and I needed to stop spending so much time with Hannah. That she wasn't good for me, that I'd ruin every chance I had of becoming a surgeon if I couldn't keep my mind focused. After that... it was never the same, but I'd find myself laying awake at night, watching her sleep, thinking about how beautiful she was... and then one day, we were talking and I just couldn't help myself. She was all I could think about and I had to kiss her. It felt natural, right, but she freaked out, and soon after that she switched rooms with someone in her Psych class. I saw her a few times after that, but she always just... looked through me."
"That must have been hard."
"It was. I... I don't think I loved her, but it was the first time I'd ever wanted anything that wasn't a good grade, and I didn't really know how to deal with it. I threw myself into work and just kept to myself. I knew I wasn't interested in men at all. I never really struggled with myself. I was just... I am what I am, nothing can change that. Until I had my first girlfriend, I just tried not to think about it, I'd push it down and tell myself that I was happy with getting good grades and throwing myself into any extra-curricular stuff that would look good on my med school application. I sometimes thought that it would be easier if I could be giddy over boys the way the other girls were, but other than that..."
"You didn't worry about it." Callie sounds sad, and I meet her eyes again. She looks like she might be about to cry, and I don't know what it is about that story that would make her look so upset.
"Why? I got what I wanted. I'm here, aren't I? I made it. My Dad was right... I watched so many girls get caught up in their romantic dramas and waste their potential, and I'm glad I avoided that. And I'm proud of everything that I am. I wouldn't change it. Not really." Callie doesn't need to know everything. She doesn't need to know that after Hannah disappeared on me, I cried myself to sleep for months. She doesn't need to know that I hated myself for ruining the only friendship I ever had. She doesn't need to know that I'm terrified that she's going to do the same thing. It's unfounded, I know it is. If she was going to run, she would have done it already. Seattle Grace is a big hospital, and our specialties don't combine often. It wouldn't be hard for her to avoid me if that was what she really wanted. Knowing that doesn't change how scared I am.
As if she read my mind, she covers one of my hands with both of hers. Her voice is gentle: "I won't disappear on you." It's the closest we've come to addressing the situation between us, and it's that more than anything that causes tears to well up and a lump to form in my throat. I feel the warmth of her hands disappear, and I blink rapidly as I stare down at the table again, willing the tears away.
Seconds later, her arms encircle me and she pulls me into her body, stroking my hair as she rests her head on my shoulder. I welcome the warmth of her embrace, and I wish fervently, for perhaps the millionth time, that things were different. It feels so right to be here. It's like she should always be the person who comforts me, the person who I turn to when things get tough.
"It's okay, Erica. It's okay." She whispers soothing words into my hair as I cling to her with everything I am. I don't want to let go. I hold onto her for maybe longer than I should, but eventually I pull out of her arms, assuring her with a shaky smile that I'm fine. She doesn't go back to the other side of the table though.
"I told you tequila isn't my friend." I try to laugh it off, and I can see that she understands that I don't want sympathy right now.
"I should have listened to you, huh?"
"Let this be a lesson. I'm always right."
She laughs. "So you'd like to think."
"I know I am." This time, my smile is real. "Tell me what you have planned for tomorrow." Just like that, it's easy again. I groan in all the right places and put up just enough of a fight that I think she believes that I'm still reluctant to go dancing with her. To be honest though, I haven't looked forward to anything this much in a very long time.
The knock on my door comes at exactly eight o'clock, and I smooth my dress, checking my hair and make up once more. I know that this is just a night of fun between friends, but I want to look perfect for Callie. I found the dress in my locker this evening, with a note attached that just said, 'For tonight, because every fabulous woman needs a fabulous dancing dress.' I groaned when I saw it, but inside, I was unbelievably touched. It was wonderful to think that Callie had been thinking of me, and a part of me thrilled at the idea of her liking the thought of me in this outfit.
When I open the door, Callie is stunning in a simple black dress, and she's beaming at me as she runs her eyes across my figure appreciatively. I'm sure I look ridiculous as I glance down at the leopard-print dress she picked out for me, frowning at the sight. She notices and giggles, "You look gorgeous, Erica. Quit worrying about it."
My heart flutters in my chest at the compliment, and I tell myself sternly that she didn't mean anything by it. I take a second to enjoy the way she looks right now, her hair deliberately messy in that way that only Callie can pull off, her makeup flawless in it's subtlety, her legs long and enticing and looking longer because of the height of her heels. If I tried to pull those off, I'd fall flat on my ass in less than three seconds, but Callie seems as comfortable now as she is in Crocs and scrubs.
My mouth is dry as I look at her, but I force out the words. "You'll do, I suppose."
She slaps me on the arm playfully, and I offer her a smile that I'm sure says everything that I can't. I'm honestly joyous to be in this moment with her, to be looking forward to spending an entire night in her company with little chance of anyone from work interrupting our time together. And she is beautiful... so unbearably beautiful that I can hardly stand it.
"Come on, Hahn, let's get moving." I slip on my jacket and grab my purse, and Callie links her arm through mine as she almost drags me out the door. "Those drinks aren't gonna drink themselves, you know."
I laugh at her, amazed at how carefree I sound with her. "I'm starting to think you may have a problem."
As Callie laughs, tosses her hair and swings her hips to the beat, I can't help but dance with her. She pulls me into her, and I hate it as much as I love it. If I didn't need to be close to her, I'd be running. If I wasn't growing to love her; I'd hate her. This right here, us in this nightclub... it's proving the dichotomy of our relationship. She leans in closer and I can't stop the shiver as her breath washes over my ear. "That girl's checking you out."
I laugh as she spins me, and sure enough, there is a woman staring at me. With Callie right here though: I don't care. She's pretty, the other woman, and if I was here alone, I would probably respond to the smile that she throws me as she gestures between me, her drink and the bar. With Callie's laughter in my ears though, I shake my head, offering an apologetic smile in lieu of my attention.
"You should go for it." Callie's voice rushes over me again, and I turn back to her, laughing off the sharp pain in my chest.
"And leave you alone in this meat-market?"
"I can look after myself." She insisted on this night out, but now, I don't think she's enjoying herself. I don't know if it's because she wants me to find someone to be with so that she can stop feeling guilty about her marriage, and I won't go, or if the fact that someone else is interested in me has made her jealous. She's always given me signals that I struggle to read, but the closer we entwine our lives, the more illegible those signals become.
"I'm sure you can, Bone-Crusher, but I'm here with you. I already have all the fun I need." She gives me a dazzling smile, and the tension that had settled around us dispels - only to be replaced by the same tension that always floods the atmosphere when we're together.
It's a long time before she tears her gaze from mine, and I can't read the look in her eyes. I can never read her. What I know and what I feel have never been more different. I know we can't be together, but I feel like she wants me to step across the line of friendship. I won't do it though. Should anything happen between us, I won't be the one who initiates it. She'll have to because I'm not going to push her. I won't pressure her. I know that, even if she does want me, I shouldn't accept any advances she makes, but I don't know that I can be that strong. I can be strong enough not to push her down the road we shouldn't take, but I can't promise that I'm strong enough to resist if she wants to pull me along with her. I don't want her to lose herself in the moment and do something she'll regret. If she wants that line to be erased, she'll have to erase it. She has to make the decision. After all, the consequences that she'll have to live with are so much greater than mine.
Her hands on my hips tears me from my thoughts, and only now do I realize that I'd stopped dancing in favor of watching her. I lose myself in her too easily, and we both know it. The heat of her skin burns through the thin fabric of my dress as she gently sways my hips along with hers, and my heart is fluttering rapidly in my chest. My mouth suddenly feels dry and my palms are damp, but I can't move her hands. I want to enjoy the pretense that she's mine. I can't though, and when she finally meets my eyes again, I know she sees my struggle.
Callie threads her fingers through mine, dragging me along with her as she weaves a path through the crowd. Somehow, she captures the attention of the bartender almost immediately. I don't hear what she orders, but when she hands me the glass, I take it gratefully and let her lead me to the patio area outside. We're almost alone out here, and I know that this is dangerous. We're both flushed from the dancing, and, as predicted, we've been pressed closely together the whole night. It's driving me out of my mind, and I'm not sure that Callie's entirely unaffected. I sip at the drink she bought me, grimacing when I realize it's tequila again.
"I think you're obsessed with this stuff."
"Not obsessed. It's just, if I'm going to drink, why should I waste my time with the wimpy stuff? Tequila's a real drink."
"You mean, it gets you drunk off your ass and lowers your inhibitions?" I can't help but laugh at her.
"Don't you want my inhibitions lowered?" My eyes widen and I inhale heavily at that as the laughter dies in my throat. I can't believe she just went there. I can't believe that she's so directly referencing the tension that we've tried so hard to push away. I have no idea what to say.
I don't know where to look as she takes a step closer to me, and she's definitely too close now for this to be the comfortable 'friends' distance. She's not quite close enough for it to be breaking any rules, but it's too much. I force myself to step back, though every fiber of my being wants to step into the temptation, wants to wrap her in my arms and brand her as mine. I'm reciting Sloan in my head to try and dispel the desire that's wrapping itself around me, but it's not working very well.
It fails completely when she matches my step, keeping us just that little too close, and she trails one finger down my arm, leaving goose-bumps in her wake. I'm sure I shiver in response to her touch, and she smirks at me, "I'd say you do."
Suddenly, I don't know what game she's playing. I don't know what she wants, or why she's doing this. I'd think it was just the alcohol if it wasn't for the way we look at each other sometimes when we're working, or for the connection that sometimes has us scrambling to run away before we do things that we know we'll regret. Sometimes I think that the regret would be worth it.
I'm sure I look ridiculous as I search for words, but I'm saved from having to find something by the shrill ring of her cell phone. Our eyes lock, and then she tears her gaze from mine to her purse, reluctantly digging out her phone.
"What?" She looks annoyed, and I take the opportunity to create space between our bodies. I think we came out here to cool down, but I don't feel cool. My body burns with the desire I always feel for her, and I'm struggling to breath normally.
Placing my drink on the table, I gesture to Callie that I'll be back and she nods at me, looking irritated by whoever is on the other end of the phone. I step back into the crowded club, feeling relieved as I gain control of myself a little. I weave through the people, heading for the bathroom. When I get there, I stare at myself in the mirror, trying to breath normally. I need to regain my composure before I see Callie again. I won't give in this easily. I'm determined to be in control. I can't let her do this. I can't be the other woman. I can't be her secret.
It takes a little while, but I finally think that I'm okay. I can deal with this night. I just have to try and make sure that I don't let her get so close again. I don't know how to do that, but I know that I have to. Taking a deep breath, I step out of the bathroom, reminding myself that she's my friend. She's my best friend. The word runs through my mind like a mantra as I make my way back to her.
She's still on the phone, but she smiles when she sees that I'm back.
"Mark, I have to go... No... I'll see you tomorrow... You too." She stows the phone back in her purse, and steps back to me, sipping her drink. "You okay?"
"I'm fine. Do you need to go?" Part of me desperately wants her to say yes. I can tell myself that I'm in control of this when I'm not near her, but as soon as I am, I can't help but follow her, wherever she wants to take me.
"No. I'm good."
We stand in silence for a moment, just looking at each other as the familiar tension builds in the space between our bodies. I search frantically for something to say, but nothing comes to mind that I'm allowed to say. It's Callie that breaks the silence though.
"If you had three wishes, what would they be?" I don't really understand what she's asking me. I don't have an answer. Right now, the only thing I wish for is her. I think she knows that, because she nods in understanding as I search for an answer, taking my hand and leading me again. I don't know where we're going. I don't know that I care.
It's late - or early, depending how you look at it - when Callie and I tumble out of a cab in front of my apartment. We're giggling at nothing, high on alcohol and dancing and each other, the strange interlude earlier in the evening almost entirely forgotten. I'm not sure how I'm going to operate in, oh God, five hours, but I think it might have been worth it. I've never been this unprofessional in my life. I've never had more than a few glasses of wine when I know I have to work the next day, but Callie makes me do all kinds of things that I've never even imagined I would. She makes me want to push my boundaries. It's terrifying and exhilarating and I could become addicted all too easily.
"And then he walked outside and it was like bang, the air hit him and he just went flat on the floor!" She's giggling as I try to slide the key into the lock, telling me about how Mark thinks he's the big man on campus, but, give him two or three glasses of wine and he's completely incapable of standing straight. "Just, one second he was there, the next, he's laying on the ground." She smacks her hands together to imitate the sound his head made when it hit the sidewalk, and I can't help but laugh with her.
I eventually force the door open, and we stumble into my apartment. Callie kicks her shoes off as she collapses onto my couch, and I can't help but laugh at her.
"Exactly how drunk are you?"
"Drunk enough to not care that I might be drunk. Not so drunk that I couldn't happily drink more if it was offered," she smiles at me, and it's infectious.
Smiling back at her, I respond. "I'm not going to offer." I glance down at my watch. "We have to be back at the hospital in three hours, Cal. More alcohol is the last thing we need." I slump next to her on the couch, closing my eyes as I contemplate whether I'll be more effective on two hours sleep or none at all.
"You're so beautiful." It's barely a whisper and I don't think I'd have heard her if I wasn't so attuned to her. I keep my eyes closed though - opening them could be dangerous, and it's definitely safer for both of us if I pretend I didn't hear her. It's harder to ignore the hand that traces a gentle path up my bare arm, before sifting my curls through her fingers, and almost impossible to pretend that I don't feel the heat against my side as she shifts closer, almost snuggling into my body.
"Hmm?" I didn't mean to let her know that I'm paying attention, but apparently my subconscious has other ideas.
"If I kiss you, will you think it's because I'm drunk, or because I want to?" It's hesitant, quiet - but it's definitely what she says.
My eyes fly open, and I study her face, searching for something, but not knowing what. She doesn't wait for an answer though. Before I can figure out what's going on here, her lips are on mine, and it's as wonderful as I remembered it. Despite myself, I melt into the kiss, opening my mouth to her tongue. Lust flares inside of me, insistent, undeniable. I've never not wanted her, and my self-control is only so good. This pushes beyond the boundaries, as she kisses me with an almost desperate passion, our tongues dueling for dominance.
I can't help but moan at the taste of her. I hate tequila, but, mixed with her cherry lip-gloss and something that's all Callie... it's addictive. I could so easily get used to this. She turns without breaking our kiss, one leg swinging across my body, and I groan as I feel her weight settle on me. I want this. I want her. I'm not thinking about anything but that as she tangles her hands in my hair and grinds her hips against me.
Gasping for air, Callie tears her lips from mine, and I can't help but whimper at the loss of her. I'm not really sure why anymore, but I don't want a moment to think. I don't want that nagging feeling in the back of my head to manifest and tell me why we shouldn't do this. My head is foggy from the feel of her, from the perfume that surrounds me, from tasting her on my tongue, and I want this. I want to taste her everywhere. I want to worship her body with my own and show her exactly how much I feel for her. There's no fighting it at this point, I'm falling in love with her. I don't want to, but I know better than anyone that you can't help who you love. It's not something you choose.
Callie kisses me deeply again, and I'm helpless against it. I'm not really drunk, but I'm starting to be intoxicated by her. I can't think with her touching me, and I'm not sure I want to. Her hand slides round to stroke my back and she trails kisses from my mouth to my ear, sucking gently on the lobe. I can't help the moan that escapes my throat, and I feel her smile against me.
"Do you have any idea how much I want you?" Her breath washes over me, warm and moist and I shiver in response. I don't know what I should do. I know what I want, but I don't know that I should take it. I remember the pain that gathering my courage bought me the last time, and I don't want to be in that place again, but at the same time... she feels so good in my arms, this feels so right. I know it shouldn't, but it does.
Gentle, wet kisses make their way down my throat and she lathes her tongue over my hammering pulse, kissing and sucking and driving me insane. Somewhere in the back of my mind I know that this shouldn't happen, but I can't pull away from her and she doesn't seem like she's going to pull away from me any time soon. I half-heartedly push her back, succeeding only in moving her lips from my neck to my shoulder, and a moan escapes before I can stop it. Still, I have to know that I didn't take advantage. "Callie, we ca-"
"Shh, baby. Let me do this. Let me give you this."
I defy anyone in the world to turn this woman down. There's just no way. I tried, but if she wants something, I'm certain Callie Torres gets it every time. I throw my head back in supplication as she kisses a path up my throat, and recaptures my lips hungrily.
I don't really remember how we get there, but it's not long before I find myself stripped bare in my own room, my fantasies coming true as she undulates above me; her thin black panties the only thing separating me from her wetness as she thrusts down against my thigh, her fingers tracing a light, torturous path to my core. There are flashes of memory, but I'm lost in the moment, lost in the perfection of her skin against mine, her naked breasts heaving and shining with an iridescent layer of sweat in the moonlight that filters in through the window. I've spent so many hours thinking about this, imagining how she would look, how she would taste, how she would feel. My fantasies pale to nothing in the presence of the real thing. I never imagined that it would feel this good, this right.
She leans down to kiss me and I moan into her mouth as her tongue tangles with mine, the dance primal and needy. I arch into her touch as she slides two fingers through the slick heat at my core, driving into my body in a way that's all need and desperation, and dear God, I'm in trouble. Feeling her inside of me, her breasts flush against mine, her thumb confidently circling my clit... there are no words to describe it. I have never been this close this quickly with anyone, and it's all about her. She's far from the most skilled lover I've had, but what she lacks in experience with a woman, she makes up for in enthusiasm - and by being Callie - as she whispers fervently how good I feel wrapped around her; how hot and tight and wet I am. I'm certain I've never wanted anyone more.
I can't control the deep moans that escape as she thrusts inside of me. her name a plea as she curves her fingers right... there.
I've wanted this so badly, from the moment I set eyes on her, and I can't quite believe that it's her voice in my ear, her fingers bringing me pleasure, her weight pinning me down. I want to touch her so much, but I can't control my body: I've given it over entirely to her. I thought all hope was lost and now... I'd think it's a dream but she feels better against me now that in even my dirtiest fantasies.
She moans in response and I groan her name. "Callie. don't stop. Oh God, please don't stop."
She curls her fingers inside me once more and I know that I can't hold out much longer. She circles my clit with her thumb, so gently that it's almost torture, whispering "Come for me, Erica."
A little more pressure and one last thrust and I do. I come undone, losing everything but her in the wave of pleasure that explodes across my body. She smiles down at me as she slowly withdraws her fingers and leans in to kiss me. I chase her hand with my hips, longing to feel her inside me again, longing for the peace her touch gives me.
Despite the reality that's slowly seeping back into my mind, I pull her tightly against me, peppering kisses all over her face. "That was amazing."
Callie laughs at the wonder in my tone, whispering "For me too." She brings our lips back together, her moan as our tongues tangle once more one of the most erotic sounds I've ever heard. I pull away, smiling up at her as she whimpers in disappointment.
"Give me a minute and I'll show you amazing."
"I think I just showed you."
She kisses me deeply once more, willingly opening her mouth for me as I trace her bottom lip with my tongue. We lose ourselves in the embrace for a long time, breaking apart only when the need for oxygen overpowers us.
"Amazing doesn't even begin to cover it."
As I flip us over and hover above her, taking in the lust in her rich brown eyes, I'm not thinking about anything but how badly I need to touch her; how much I need to make her feel as wanted as she's made me feel tonight. Something in the back of my mind tries to remind me that we can't do this; that I'm just setting myself up for more heartbreak, but I push it down, too lost in her to pay attention to anything but how much I want her.
It's a mistake we can't take back.
I'm disoriented for a second when I wake up with a warm body pressed against my back. I'm sure I came home with Callie. It's just a moment, and then it all comes flooding back. This should be a time to bask, to enjoy the fact that, yes, Callie Torres is in my bed, and, yes, she is naked, but all I feel right now is panic. What did we do? Will she remember? Did I take advantage of her? I'm sure that giving into her wouldn't normally constitute 'taking advantage', but we had been drinking. She was much more drunk than I was. Will she see it that way?
I try to slide out of her grip, but her arm tightens around my waist and I know - I just know - she's awake.
"Stay." She mumbles the word sleepily, and suddenly I feel sick to my stomach. What if she isn't fully awake? What if she thinks I'm Mark? Does she cling to him in the mornings the same way she's clinging to me now? I try again to pull away from her. "Erica. Stay." Well, that answers that question, but it inspires a lot of others. I don't know how to do this. I never thought I'd be in this position.
"Callie. We have to go to work." She snuggles closer to me, and I can't swallow the moan that escapes as her full breasts push against me.
"Don't wanna. Sleepy." She drops a light kiss on my shoulder, and I know I could wake up like this every day. It's a kick in the guts when I realize, again, that I can't; that she's not mine to hold. It hurts like the first time every single time. I keep re-opening the wound. I keep letting her re-open the wound. I've never been this stupid in my life, but Callie makes me do things I never imagined. This is just the latest in a long line.
"I know. But who's fault is it that we had all of an hour's sleep?" I sound bitter - and I am. I'm bitter that she shows me glimpses of what I could have, and then tears it away again.
"What?!" This time I do pull away from her, almost leaping out of bed in my indignation. I spin to face her, part of my brain cataloging how amazing she looks against the cream sheets on my bed; sleepy, her hair ruffled. It's only when she hums appreciatively that I realize I'm standing in front of her, hands on hips, completely naked. "How is it my fault?"
I reach for my robe, needing something to hide behind as I feel embarrassment heating my skin. She sits up as I slip into the robe, unashamed by her nudity. And why would she be? She's so beautiful. I hate myself for responding to her in the awfulness of this morning. I wished for us to cross the line, but now we have, I want to take it back. It's going to be so much harder to watch her live her happy little married lie now I know how it feels to touch her. I feel every little thing she did to me, see everything I did to her as she watches me, a hint of amusement in her gaze. If I'd let myself think about the morning after in all my fantasies, this isn't the way I would have expected it to go.
"What?" I'm truly angry now. I can't take this. I need to get away. I don't know where I could possibly go - it's my apartment, after all - but I need to escape.
"Don't even try it, Torres!"
"It's true. I can't resist you."
"Try! We can't... I can't... This is wrong, Callie. You're married."
I watch her deflate as the truth is spoken, and I wonder, somewhere beneath the anger and confusion, just how happy she can possibly be if it's so easy for her to forget that.
Grabbing the closest clothes to me - last night's dress - I literally flee the room.
"Get dressed, Callie!" Slamming the bathroom door behind me, I slump against it.
What have we done?
Even though I know that I should probably arrive at work dressed in something other than last night's outfit, it's the only clothing I have in the bathroom. I'm not sure if Callie will still be here when I emerge, but, if she is, I need to have clothes on, so I slip into the dress before I head back to my bedroom.
Callie is still here.
Thankfully, she's clothed now too. It makes it easier to have the conversation that I know we need to have. She's sitting on the side of my bed, her head cradled in her hands, but the second I step into the room, she brings her eyes up to meet mine. I can't read the emotions that are swirling within them, but, though I look for guilt, it's not there.
"We need to talk about this."
"We got drunk. We had sex. It happens." The matter-of-fact tone gives away nothing of my thoughts. It doesn't tell her that last night was one of the best nights of my life, simply because I have never responded to another person quite the way I do to her. It doesn't tell her that this morning is killing me, and all I want to do is curl up on my bed and cry. It doesn't tell her that I'm terrified that I might be falling in love with her, that I'm in too deep, and I know that I'm the one who'll get hurt here. We'll all hurt... but ultimately, I can only lose in this scenario. I've slept with bi-curious straight girls before. I've never been this invested, but I've been their fun little experiment before they go running back to men. Sometimes I think that this is more than that for Callie, but experience tells me that she's never going to choose me over him.
I walk over to my closet, digging through it for more work-appropriate clothes. Pulling out black pants and a green sweater, I turn. Callie is standing right behind me.
"It doesn't just happen, Erica. This doesn't just happen to me."
"I seem to remember you starting it."
"Exactly!" She throws her arms up in the air, then she rips the clothing from my grasp and throws it onto my bed. I watch its trajectory to avoid looking at her. "I didn't mean for this to happen... but I'm not sorry that it did."
"Well, I am." I'm not. Even with the anger and confusion and everything else that I can't quite put a name to, I can't be sorry that I know how she feels, how she smells, how she sounds, how she tastes. I can't regret it, even though I know that I should.
I know that I will.
"Don't be like this. Please don't be like this." Her voice is shaking, and a part of me hates that I might be hurting her right now, but I force the feeling to the back of my mind. The only way I can come out of this without losing who I am is to shut down the emotion.
"Can you stop with the Dr. Hahn bullshit and be Erica?" She grabs my shoulders as we speak, and my body responds to the contact, even as I continue to avoid her gaze. "I don't know what this means, but I wanted it. Erica, please, please believe me. I can't help but want you. And I know you want me too."
I take a deep breath and let myself look at her. The over-riding emotion on her face is sadness, and I hate that I'm the one who put it there. "I do. Callie... God help me, I do. But I don't know how to do this. I can't do this. I can't have a part of you. I just... I can't."
"I think that's the first honest thing you've said to me all morning."
We don't change our clothes in the end. The story she told Mark settles that for us. Not to mention that it would be a little weird if we show up at work together and I'm dressed normally while she's in her dancing outfit. I don't know how we can even try to cover how deeply we're entwined now, but we have to try.
We're quiet in the car on the way to work. I'm not sure I should really be driving, and I really shouldn't be performing surgery today, but I've worked on less sleep before. I've done days without a break, I can deal with an hour's sleep, a slight hangover and an aching heart. I can.
I have to.
We don't speak at all until we're a block from the hospital. I break the silence, knowing that we need to at least present a 'normal' front for our colleagues. Since we agreed to be friends, we've been inseparable, and I can't deal with the questions and rumors that are bound to arise if they see the awkward silences, or we spend the day avoiding each other. At least, that's the reason I tell myself. I refuse to admit the real reason, even to myself. "Coffee?"
"Only if you're buying." She offers me a nervous but cheeky smile. I can't help but smile back.
"If that's what you want."
I find a place to park and buy her coffee from the stand near the doors of the hospital.
"So, uh, you ever gonna try sunrise yoga with me?" She's trying, I know she is. She wants to lighten the mood, prove to me that we can still be friends. With everything that's happened, we can still be friends. There's a new undertone to it now, but our friendship is real. It always has been.
"I don't think so." I smirk at her to let her know that I understand what we're doing.
"Oh, come on. It's fun. I promise you, you've never felt so relaxed."
"Contorting my body into unnatural positions? I don't think so." The fact that I could watch her flits through my mind, and though I'm outwardly laughing at the idea of me going to yoga, inside I'm wondering if it really is such a crazy idea. We step into the hospital, catching the attention of plenty of people as we walk by laughing.
"I am so not doing that."
"You so are gonna do it."
"I'm so not!"
We're interrupted by a voice I recognize all too well.
"Callie, Callie, Callie..." I leave Callie to deal with it. I do not volunteer to spend time with Yang. I can't help but hang around waiting for Callie though. I pretend to be looking at charts at the nurse's station. The truth is, despite it being a technically demanding procedure, I can do the Ross Procedure in my sleep. There's nothing unusual, no extra danger signs with this patient, so it should be a textbook surgery. I don't need to see the chart. I just want a few more minutes with Callie.
I can't hear what they're talking about, but it's only moments before Callie turns round and heads towards me with a smile plastered across her face, even as she rolls her eyes to let me know what she thinks of whatever Yang had to say. We head off down the hall doing a wonderful impression of people who didn't sleep together last night.
The mood tightens around us though, when we see Mark. Callie tenses and looks at the ground. Mark hasn't seen her, and she doesn't look at me. With a sigh, I turn away from her. I don't want to see what happens here. I don't need the images running through my mind. "I'll see you later, Cal."
I take off to my office so fast I'm almost running.
I almost manage to get all the way through rounds without seeing her again. Fortunately, my resident today isn't one of the dysfunctional group that surrounds Grey. I don't know how I almost always end up with one of them to assist me, but it's been so long since whenever it last was I didn't, that I'd actually forgotten other residents exist. I'm being drawn too far into their little drama club. I have to do something about that.
My pager bleats just as I'm asking one of the interns to present on the last case of my rounds. 911 to the ER. I leave my resident in charge, and rush down there, my heart pumping faster. This is why I love surgery. It makes me feel so alive, fills me with adrenaline. When I get to the ER, Callie is hanging around. She's not on my patient, but she's working on his brother. I flash back to last night, and to cover the shiver, I bark out "What happened?" to whoever happens to be listening. Not surprisingly, it's Yang that answers. I get away from them all only to be sucked right back in. Just what I need.
"52 year old male, attacked by a bear." A bear? Really?
"Being established, but it looks like a complete evisceration right now. We're not sure about other injuries."
I step into the room, watching as Bailey, Yang and Karev work on the patient. I need to establish how I'm going to approach this. Just looking at him, I can see that his chances of getting through this are slim. We all need to be on our toes and focused, and I'm not sure that I'm ready for this today. I take a deep breath as I listen to the conversation, hoping that it will ground me in this moment.
"He just touched it, he just... put his hand out." I can't figure out how he ended up in this position. It doesn't make sense that a man of his age would be stupid enough to put himself into a situation where he could be mauled by a bear.
Karev's voice echoes the incredulity I feel as he responds, "He touched a bear?" Okay, so maybe this wasn't the patient's fault.
"A cub. And then the mother came-"
"Bet she did." I've witnessed Bailey's mother bear mode. I know she knows what she's talking about. It's been weeks since the surgery on her son, but the words she said to me afterwards still sting.
"Why would he do that?" We can't answer that question for him. It's exactly what we're all wondering. I'm sure there are neurological conditions that would cause such stupid behavior, but my main aim is to make sure that this man lives. It's not my place to wonder about the whys and wherefores. I can feel my mind slipping back to this morning, back to last night, and I have to do something. I tune out the conversation around me evaluating the patient's condition.
"Okay, get me a chest tube tray." While one of the interns in the room runs to get the tray, and Webber decides to enter the room, I check the patient's pulse and heart rate. Listening through the stethoscope, his heartbeat reminds me of mine when Callie first kissed me last night. I shake the thought away. I need to be focused. I don't know how long it will be before this man is stabilized for surgery, but I know that, at some point today, he will need me. I have to be focused. I have to be collected, and in full control of myself. This is the last time I will think of that today. It settles me, even though I know as I'm thinking it that I'm lying to myself. Callie makes me do that a lot.
"Are you going to put me under?" A broken voice brings me back to reality, and I look down at the man on the table. There's so much damage, and none of this is his fault. I wonder if I'm projecting the hope in his voice onto him, finding metaphors for my situation inside of the worst day of this man's life. That seems to happen all the time in this hospital. I have no idea how just the right traumas seem to fall upon us to shed light on our personal or professional lives. Maybe they don't. Maybe this is the way all surgeons see their work. Maybe it's where we find meaning. We might always just be reading things in, seeing what we want to see.
Whatever it is, I'm seeing myself in him as I reply, "Sir, it'll be the best thing that's happened to you all day."
I wish someone could take my pain away that easily.
After we decode the extent of the damage, we realize that there's nothing I can do for him at the moment. I have a surgery scheduled, so I'm a little relieved that I don't have to try and juggle both. If the patient - Mr Robinson - needed a cardiac surgeon, I'm sure his injuries would be more demanding than the procedure I have scheduled, and I don't think I'm ready for demanding yet today. I can't be the reason that this man dies, and if I was needed in that OR, the chances are high that I would be. This is why I don't mix business and pleasure, but I think it's well established at this point that Callie makes me break all my rules. And I'm thinking about her again. It's the last thing I need to do.
Webber, Bailey, Yang and Karev are scrubbing in when I join them in the scrub room. I may not be needed for this surgery, but there are still enough signs that worry me that I want to keep a close eye on how he's progressing. I want to know that I'm as prepared for anything that goes wrong with Mr Robinson as I possibly can be. If I have to think on my feet today, I could so easily miss something. I'm tired, I'm angry, I'm confused, and most of all, I feel a pain in my chest that makes me think that maybe I'm going to need my expertise today.
I speak directly to Webber, looking through the window into the OR as the nurses finish prepping for surgery. "I have a Ross Procedure, but I want to keep a close eye on his chest tube outputs and blood pressure. What's the game plan?"
"He's a set up for overwhelming sepsis, so we're going to deal with the life-threatening blood loss and get out of there. We can't touch him until he's stable."
Once again, I'm drawing parallels in my mind. I don't know what Callie wants, but she's married, and until she's out of that situation - if she ever is - I shouldn't touch her. It's not often that I have to tell myself to leave something alone more than once, but I have no idea how many times today I've already told myself to stop thinking about her and what we did. I have a feeling that it's going to continue.
"I'm in OR four, can you make sure I'm getting hourly updates?" On the surface, I'm perfectly composed, but underneath, my emotions are completely out of control. I can't believe what an idiot I'm being. Maybe I have more in common with this man's brother than with him.
"I'd be more than happy to update you on his condition." Yang's too enthusiastic. I'm sure she's jumping at the chance to 'impress' me, but I don't think she's really realized that her best chance of doing that is to just do her job without kissing my ass every damn second.
"Fine." I leave with no further preamble, but I can still hear Karev before the door closes behind me completely.
"You don't get points for sucking up to an attending, Yang."
It's the smartest thing I've ever heard him say.
My Ross Procedure is a little unusual as it's for an adult woman, but, for once, the slight abnormality makes the surgery easier. I'm harvesting the pulmonary valve when Yang brings me the first update on my patient. It's delicate work; possibly the most delicate part of the procedure. If I don't get this part right, the whole surgery will collapse around us. I glance up as she speaks, but quickly turn back to focusing on making meticulous, small snips with the scissors, trying to free the valve without injuring the underlying arteries.
She rattles off the patient's chest tube output and the medication that he's needed for his blood pressure, but I hear nothing that causes me any concern. I'm a little harsher than I probably should be in response, but I'm pissed today. More angry than I really should be, and it's not fair of me to take it out on Yang, but I do it anyway. I don't really understand why. "Alright. I'll look forward to another scintillating report in an hour."
She leaves just as quickly as she arrived, and I easily forget that she was ever here as I lose myself in the familiar routine of scalpel and scissors, patching and stitching. By the time she brings me the second update, I'm as sure as I can be that this surgery will go smoothly. I'm separating the coronary arteries from the aortic wall when she races into the room.
I know what's going on here. They've all been running around the hospital for the last two weeks in a competition that they think we don't know about. I'm sure Yang is winning. She - like me - wouldn't accept anything less. I finish making sure that there's enough surrounding tissue free that I can easily sew in the graft and glance up at my annoying shadow.
"Mr Robinson is doing better. We were able to DC the Levophed, and he's intermittently awake and lucid. His chest tube has put out a hundred CCs since I last saw you, and I'll be back in a hour with another update." She rattles it all off so quickly that I can't resist the temptation to call her out on it.
"Is somebody chasing you, Dr Yang?"
"Excuse me?" They really think we don't know what's going on. It's amazing. Some of the other attendings - most noticeably Sloan and Shepherd, actually have money riding on who wins their 'secret' competition. I'm certain Yang is the frontrunner. As much as she annoys me, she's a capable surgeon. She may even become great if she spends less time chasing cardio.
"What are you racing around for?"
"Uh, no reason."
"No reason?" The incredulity is clear in my voice. "Not because you're running towards the finish line of this surgical contest?" The shock is clear on Yang's face that I know about it. Unfortunately for her, I also know what the prize is, and it will do neither of us any good for her to win it. She'll end up with an even less rounded surgical background than she already has, and I might end up killing her.
"Oh, that. Yes."
"Are you winning?"
"Yes, once I finish my sutures on Mr. Robinson." I don't know if what I'm about to do is going to make any difference, knowing as I do that her fellow residents can be horrifically incompetent.
"Oh, that's too bad. I was going to let you watch me put Mrs. Witowsky's new valve in. But if a contest is more important than a cardiac surgery, so be it." I'm playing on her desperation to become me, and I'm sure that there are people who would disagree with my actions, but I don't care. It's one part taking out my frustrations on an innocent bystander, and two parts what I feel I have to do so that Yang can one day fulfill the potential we all know she has. A great surgeon has to know more than just the one organ. She knows cardio, but other specialties? She has no idea. If she wins Bailey's ridiculous prize, she'll spend the next three months following me around like a puppy, and I know it will negatively impact her education.
"I'd be happy to watch, Dr. Hahn." Even as she accepts, I know she's hating me a little, but sometimes in this job, you have to just accept that. She thinks I'm harsh now, but one day, she'll thank me. The day that she's in a surgery and something unexpected happens that doesn't directly affect the cardio system, but she has to deal with it anyway? She'll thank me for ensuring that she got the rounded education
that she's here to have. Once again, I'm doing the job the Chief should be doing.
Between surgeries, Callie catches me in the hall. I'm not sure how to face her right now. I've been trying to push her - and last night - out of my mind all day, but it's been a struggle, and as soon as I see her with nothing immediate to run away and attend to, it all floods back.
"Erica!" She sounds happy to see me, and I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. It might not be fair, but none of this is fair. It's a disaster. I can't be with her, but I know things I shouldn't - not least the way it feels to wake up in her arms.
"Dr. Torres." I see the uncertainty on her face at the greeting. I've rarely called her that since the morning in the elevator. The morning when all this seemed so complicated - and yet, complicated hadn't even reared its ugly little head. I long for the days when I had no idea if she could ever reciprocate my attraction.
"Can I have a moment?" I have to give her points for persistence. Anyone else would have taken one look at my body language, heard my tone of voice, and ran away. Not Callie. Maybe because she's seen what's underneath the doctor mask, or maybe it's because she knows I can't resist her. Maybe it's both. Whatever it is, she gently touches my wrist, guiding me into the nearest room. Fortunately, it's a conference room, and not an on-call room. I still don't really look at her.
"Are we okay?" I don't know what to make of her tone. I don't know how to answer. I want us to be okay more than I can stand, but I don't honestly know if we are. "Erica?"
I can't form words, so I just nod, still not looking at her properly. She's so pretty it hurts, and I have to focus on anything but that right now. I don't know if I cherish or regret making love to her, but I do know that I'm becoming too reliant on her. I'm too invested, and I'm going to get my heart broken. The best thing I could do would be to break all contact with her, but I can't. It's something I wouldn't have hesitated to do in the past, but there's a connection here that it's impossible to ignore.
She studies me for a moment. "Clearly we're not. Talk to me."
I close my eyes, letting out a shuddering breath.
"Erica, please look at me." She sounds small, her voice beginning to break, and I know she hates this as much as I do. I don't know if I can talk to her right now, but I know I can't stand to hear her like this. I open my eyes, finally looking at her, and clench my fists to stop myself from reaching out to brush a stray lock of hair from her face.
"I don't know what I'm doing." I say it so quietly that I don't think she can possibly have heard me, but clearly she does because she steps into my space and wraps me in a loose hug. I breath her in, hating how right it feels to be in her arms. I don't know if last night was a one-time thing for her, or if she wants to do it again, but I think both would kill me. I'm heading straight into a broken heart, and even as I can see it coming, I'm powerless against it. I can't take the steps I need to in order to avoid it. If I continue to be her friend, it will hurt me, but if I don't, it will hurt her. And I can't do that.
"Shh." Her hand strokes my back in a gesture that I'm sure is supposed to be soothing, but it sets my nerve endings on fire. I hate this. "It's okay. I don't know either."
I laugh wryly. "We're idiots."
"I won't argue with you. It's real, isn't it? Whatever this is." I don't have anything to say, but I feel uncomfortable, even as I know that being in her arms is the most comfortable place I've ever been. I've never had to deal with this before. Sure, I've wanted people I can't have, but never like this. I extricate myself from her embrace, taking a step back from her. I need to think clearly, and I can't do that when she's touching me. I'm not sure I can ever do that when she's the subject of my thoughts.
"Callie... I don't know what this is, but you're married."
"I know." Regret is clear in her tone. I don't know what she's regretting though. Is it sleeping with me... or is it her marriage? There's clearly something not quite right about their relationship, but I have no idea what it is.
"We shouldn't do this."
"We're going to though, aren't we?" I don't know what I want the answer to be.
"I don't know. I don't wanna hurt anyone, Erica."
"I don't think you can avoid that." I want to tell her to leave Mark. I want to tell her to leave me alone. I want to tell her all kinds of things, but nothing comes out.
"You're already hurting, aren't you?" I knew she was insightful. I didn't know how much she could see though. I didn't know that she knew how entangled I've let us become. I don't answer her. though. I don't need to. It's written all over my face.
"I don't know what I'm supposed to do here. Tell me what I'm supposed to do." I don't think I can have her halfway. I don't think I can watch her live with him, while she loves with me. My morals have never given the fight this easily in my life though. I'm starting to believe that I need her. When I don't speak to her or see her for longer than a few hours, it feels wrong. I don't understand it, and I hate myself for even considering what I'm considering.
"I don't think I can, Callie. It's your decision to make." If she chooses him, it might kill me. I've never fallen like this before. I'm not ready to call it love yet, but it's close. Too close.
"Will you have dinner with me tonight? Just... as a friend? I need to figure this out." The nerves are clear in her voice, and it takes me a moment to decide that I can give her time. I can let her sort through her feelings. I don't have to decide anything right now. With the joy of making love to her still so fresh in my mind, I can't be objective. I can't beg her to leave him, and I can't take myself out of the equation. Whatever we're going to do about this connection between us, it doesn't have to be decided now. Maybe it shouldn't be.
Forcing a shaky smile, I nod at her. "Where?"
"My place? Mark's working late, and we probably don't need an audience." I know why she's not suggesting we go to mine, and even though the last thing I want to do is spend time in the place that she calls home with Sloan, I can respect that. My apartment has already been proven as somewhere we can't control ourselves. It was getting close even before last night. And she's right that we don't need an audience. Maybe the fact that Mark could come home at any second will stop us from doing anything stupid. We've already shown that we can't.
She lets out a deep breath, smiling weakly at me. "Okay."
Dinner is awkward, the air heavy with all the things we can't say. It's not until we move to the living room that we loosen up.
"So, where is Sloan tonight?" I don't know why I'm bringing him up, and I can't keep the disdain from my voice.
She ignores the tone though. "Surgery. What else?" She laughs just a little. We both know how that one goes. She sits on the couch and motions for me to sit too, but I choose the couch on the other side of the coffee table. I don't want to get too close to her. I can't read her gaze as she sips her wine, but she doesn't protest, so I know that she knows what I'm doing.
We talked about work over dinner, so I don't want to try and bring it up again now, and I don't know what to talk about with her anymore. I don't know what's safe. She doesn't quite seem to have the same problem though.
"Hey, you remember when we got to work this morning? And Yang wanted to talk to me. I think she wants to be hanging out with you."
"Never gonna happen, right?" She giggles. Of course she knows it won't.
"In her dreams, maybe."
"She wants me to 'put in a good word for her.' You know, since she let me live with her. Let... she couldn't afford rent on her own."
"You never did tell me how that happened. You living with Yang. I still can't see it."
"It was nothing, really. She just needed someone to help her with rent, and I needed a place to stay that wasn't the hospital basement-"
"The basement?" I know my disbelief is obvious. She lived in the basement? She's an heiress, that's the last place I could ever imagine her living.
"Yeah. The basement."
"Traumas. I was there all the time. I saw the best traumas. If they needed a resident, I could basically choose my cases. It was awesome."
"And the Chief let you live there?"
Callie glances down at the table, and I can't help but admire her as she tries - and fails - to look sheepish. There's a flush on her cheeks that I know can't just be because she chose to live in a dingy hospital basement, though. She's so beautiful. I shut the thought down before it goes any further. Right now, I can't afford to be thinking about that. I need to let her decide what she wants, and if I think about that, I'll start thinking about other things, and my self-control is only so good when it comes to Callie Torres.
"Let is a strong word."
"He didn't know?" Laughter threatens to escape me. How did I end up working at Seattle Grace? I really should have seen how crazy this hospital is when I was just a visitor.
"Not until he caught me dancing down there."
"Oh that must have been priceless."
"It wasn't so bad. Might have been less awkward if I hadn't been half-naked." Now, the look on my face must be priceless. A vision of Callie swaying her hips in nothing but her underwear pops into my head, and I almost groan aloud at the pure sensuality of it, but I force it down. I know it's something I'll come back to later, but she laughs as-she looks at me and continues. "It could have been worse! It was just boy-shorts and a top. It was kind of awkward though. More awkward when George came in and I was sitting on the bed with Webber drinking coffee. He just - the Chief, not George - told me that I couldn't live in the hospital. He had a point. So... Yang."
I can't help but laugh. "I would have gone anywhere but!"
"Yeah, but... you're classy. You never would have been living in the basement anyway."
"I don't know. You have a point about the traumas."
We freeze, even though we're doing nothing wrong, at the sound of a key in the door. Apparently, Sloan's surgery didn't run as long as Callie thought it would. We look everywhere but at each other as the door opens and closes and Sloan yells "Cal?"
"In here." Her voice is a little shaky, and I wonder if she's as scared as I am that he'll just have to look at us to see what we've done... what we might continue to do. Sloan strides into the living room, throwing his jacket onto a table in the corner of the room, smiling as he sees Callie. It's the same way I smile when I see her, and it cuts me to the core. I hate that we've ended up here.
Callie stands and I'm terrified that I'm going to have to watch her kiss him. She doesn't though, turning her head so that his lips land on her cheek. "You're home."
"Yeah." He looks puzzled until he looks past her and sees that I'm here. "Hahn."
"Sloan." We both tilt our heads in an awkward greeting, and I'm insanely jealous of Callie as she extricates herself from the awkwardness.
"You want wine, Mark?"
"Sure, baby, that'd be great."
Mark eyes me across the room as I turn to watch her go, lust flaring inside my body despite the awful moment as I watch her hips sway.
"You watch her the same way I do."
I turn back to him reluctantly, knowing that I can't defend myself. There's no defense for what I'm helping Callie do to him. I have no excuses. I didn't know about them the first night I kissed her, but everything that's happened since... I've been an eager participant in her betrayal. I can tell myself I'm doing nothing wrong as much as I like, but I am. I'm as guilty as she is.
He seems to read my silence as embarrassment. "I get it. She blows us both away. If it helps, I don't think she's noticed." He's being so damn nice to me. I miss the venomous banter. I feel comfortable with that, but this? This I have no clue what to do with. I want to hate him for everything he has that I don't, but I can't. I can't even look at him. The reality of what Callie and I are doing is sinking in, and I don't like how it makes me feel about her - or me. We both made this decision and, as much as I'd like it to be otherwise, Mark is the innocent party here. I'm the one who's most likely to end up broken and alone by this, but Mark is the one being wronged.
"Erica." His voice is so gentle and I want to rage at him for thinking that I'm weak, but the truth is - I am. When it comes to his wife - God, it hurts even to think it - I'm the weakest person in the world. I feel him sit down beside me, but I don't look up. I'm afraid that he'll be able to read everything we've done in my eyes, and I'm not ready for this. I don't want us to have to face this mess because, when we do, I'll lose Callie, and I don't know what I'll do without her.
"Erica, look at me." His hand on my arm burns me through my clothes, but not in the good way that the touch of the woman we both love burns. His touch is scorching me with all the truths I'm too scared to face.
If Mark knew me, not Dr. Hahn or Erica-Callie's-friend, he would know that my silence should tell him everything. I don't show embarrassment - I get angry. This is more than that. What he's seeing right now is Erica Hahn being eaten up by guilt. I want Callie to walk back in and rescue us both from this nightmare. I don't know what to say. I don't know what to do. I know he'll drop the issue the moment she reappears, so I stay silent, praying to any and all deities that will listen that Callie will save me. She doesn't and Mark isn't just going to let this drop, so I slowly lift my eyes to his, steeling myself and holding his gaze as long as I can.
He continues to address me the way I imagine he'd speak to a child when he thinks that a tantrum is on its way. It's probably a wiser move than it appears on the surface. His tone would inspire rage in any other circumstances, but I get it. This situation is ridiculous.
"Look, I know this is... awkward and I'm probably the last person- well, second to last." He flashes me that annoyingly perfect smile and glances towards the kitchen. "I've been there. I mean, I know what it's like to be in love with someone you can't have. I know it hurts more than anything else in the world... and I understand. I know that it's terrible to watch them be with someone that's not you. And I... that's why I think Callie doesn't know. Because she loves you. She does. I might not understand it, but she loves you and... I'm here if you want to talk about it. Even if the it in question is my wife."
It shouldn't anger me, but it does. He's so confident about his place in Callie's life and he has no right to be. I can't help but scoff at him.
"Why would I want to talk to you. What do you know? "
"More than you think." For a second, I'm irrationally terrified that they're in this together,; that this is some kind of plot to break me; that they've been laughing at me all along. He sees something in my eyes because he raises both hands as if in surrender. It takes a second, but I look down at the floor again, replaying the sincerity in Callie's eyes when we're alone together. I reassures me that - whatever this is - it's not deliberately cruel.
I glance back up at Mark again to see that he's lowered his gaze too. He takes a deep breath as he leans his elbows on his knees and rests his chin in his palm. With neither of us looking at the other, he decides to keep talking.
"You probably know that Derek - Dr. Shepherd - is my best friend. I think you called us 'Pretty and Prettier' once. I'd better have been
I try to force a laugh, but he seems to know that I can't really do the verbal sparring right now. Since I started working at Seattle Grace, we've been at each others' throats - and I do enjoy the back and forth, much as I hate to admit it - but I'm seeing a different side to him now. I'm seeing the side that Callie must see... I don't like it.
"Anyway. Before Seattle, we both worked in New York."
Is it wrong to wish he'd never left?
"You're not the gossip type, so I don't think you know the rest... It's spoken about sometimes, you know, the Meredith and Derek drama."
I don't understand where he's going with this, but I'm riveted by the melancholy regret that's clear in his tone, and curious about how it relates to the situation he thinks we're currently in, so I stay silent. I'm almost certain I don't even roll my eyes at the reference to the craziness that is the Head of Neuro's relationship with a resident.
I don't miss the irony that my relationship with Callie could easily eclipse that little situation for drama if it became public knowledge.
"Me and Derek, we grew up together. I spent more nights at his place as a kid than I did at my own. We went to college and Med School together. When we were in Med School, Derek met Addison. He told me the day he met her that he was going to marry her."
I've only ever heard Callie mention Addison once, but I know she was the best friend before me. I went home that night wondering if the reason Addison had left was because Callie broke her heart. It's the only thing that I can imagine would tear me from her side. But then, Callie breaks my heart every day and I haven't run yet, so maybe they really were just friends. Or maybe I'm just a fool. I actually get the feeling that Callie avoids talking about Addison as much as possible. I don't know that Mark will shed any light on that, but he's clearly trying to tell me something that he feels is important; something that's supposed to shed light on my situation, and maybe it will. Even though he only has some of the puzzle pieces, his insight could help me. I'm caught between guilt and sorrow, and my heart is beating erratically. I'm so focused on my curious reaction that I barely notice that Mark has gone silent as he stares into the distance.
"Derek's feelings... his claim on Addie... it didn't stop me sleeping with her, it didn't stop me falling in love with her, but in the end... she went running back to him. She was married to him, and she wasn't going to break that commitment." And now I know... now I know what he wants me to understand from this. It makes me angry.
"I think you'd have needed to be in love with Derek to understand, Sloan."
Now Callie saves me from this, when it's already too late. It's typical of my luck recently. She walks back in, and both of us turn to watch her as she walks across the room. It would be laughable if it wasn't so damn sad. She's got a glass and the bottle, and I can't imagine why it took her so long to get them. She reaches us and hands the glass to Sloan, pouring the wine for him before turning to me.
"You want more?" Her voice is shaking, and I drain the last of the wine from the glass, placing it on the coffee table and standing up.
"No, thank you. I think I'd better be going."
"Oh, don't let me chase you away. I'm sure whatever you girls were talking about was scintillating." It's amazing how quickly the compassion drains from his tone as soon as we're not alone. We have an image to protect, the two of us. We match wits verbally for a reason neither of us really understood until recently. He doesn't want Callie to know what we were talking about, and I'm not sure who's benefit that's for. It could be any or all of us. Something tells me that he doesn't feel as secure about their marriage as he should. And I suppose, really, he shouldn't if I think about it. I don't think that thought made sense even to me.
"Sorry, Sloan. Much as I'd like to stay and kick your ass at a round of 'who has the quickest comebacks?' I really do need to go home." Turning to Callie, who's still standing and looking vaguely amused, I let the sharpness fall out of my words. "Thanks for dinner, Cal."
"I'll walk you out."
We leave the room in silence, and it continues as I retrieve my jacket from the stand near the door. She comes all the way to the elevators with me, the uncomfortable silence accompanying us.
As we wait for the elevator to arrive, she shifts her stance a little before speaking. "I'm sorry."
"No, it's not. You shouldn't have to see that. I really thought he was going to be later."
"I know. It's okay. Really." Once again, I find myself unable to look at her. The elevator doors open, and I start to step into them, but Callie grabs my wrist, turning me to face her and wrapping her arms around me.
"You are amazing. And I am so, so sorry."
"Me too, Cal. We'll... figure it out. Somehow."
"Yeah." She kisses me lightly on the cheek, and I smile despite myself. She lets go of me, and I step into the elevator, but our hands stay in contact until the space between us is too large, and we both let them drop to our sides.
I could swear that there are tears in her eyes as the doors close. I know there are tears in mine.
Callie drags me to sunrise yoga. I woke up from a dream about her this morning to find the real her banging on the door of my apartment. I resisted for about 30 seconds, but, ultimately, I can't turn down the chance to spend time with her. As I predicted, I spend the entire class watching her and looking like an idiot.
I don't think the two are connected.
It's torture trying not to look her in the showers after the yoga class, but I do try. I have to let her figure this out on her own, and if I watched the water coursing over her skin, well, could anyone blame me if that's too much to resist?
Despite the sexual frustration, I am feeling shockingly relaxed as we step out of the elevators together onto the surgical floor. "I just had no idea that sunrise yoga would be so intense."
"Told ya." I love seeing her smile. I want to see her smile all the time. It's like a drug.
The antidote is Yang.
"Dr Hahn. I have the 3D ultrasound and the fetal MRIs for today's patient." I share a long-suffering look with Callie. I know she understands at least some of my aversion to Yang, but we've never really talked about it. Even though Callie doesn't know the exact reasons, I know she's frustrated at the interruption too. We were expecting to have a few more minutes together before we have to part for the day. It's getting harder and harder to do. I don't think it would be such a problem if I could have all her free time, but the way things are? Every second is stolen and precious. "Have you decided who's gonna scrub in? Because I diagnosed the mother when she came into the clinic, so-"
"Films." Yang fumbles them before handing them to me. I know that she doesn't know exactly what she did wrong. She probably saw me smiling with Callie and figured that she'd catch me before anything could piss me off, but she intruded on Callie time, and I hate when anyone does that. I think that Angelina Jolie could intrude on my Callie time and I'd want to cut her heart out with a steak-knife.
As I stride down the hall, I'm sure that Callie is probably suffering through a complaint or fifty about me, so I'm surprised at the hand on my shoulder. No one else but her would dare touch me.
"Slow down, Erica." It is Callie.
I open my office door and I'm not sure what's going on when Callie steps in behind me, closing it behind us. I know there's a question on my face, but glancing at the intensity of her gaze, I know what's going on. It's been a few days since our dinner at her place, and we've been on our best behavior for the most part, but the tension has been building higher, harder and faster than it has in the past. We've not taken it past playful flirting and occasional touches, but apparently yoga had the same effect on her as it did on me. After an hour of watching just how flexible Callie is, I'm so turned on I can barely stand it. I was hoping to have a while alone in my office to try and calm down before I have to actually start working, but something tells me that what she has in mind is going to be much more fun. I'm not thinking about anything other than how much I want her, even though that annoying nagging voice in the back of my head is trying to make itself heard.
She smirks at me, her beautiful eyes flashing with mischief, and I don't want to be anywhere but here, right now. I step back as Callie stalks towards me, not really knowing why. She reaches out to me, tugging me into her body with the lapels of my jacket. She leans in towards me, her lips barely apart from my own as she whispers, "So, Dr. Hahn. Wanna give me a check up?"
I swallow hard, sliding my hands around to the small of her back. She feels amazing against me. I've been trying to convince myself that my memory was playing tricks on me, but she really does feel as good in my arms as I remembered. Better, in fact, without the alcohol coursing through my system. I feel my heart pounding out of control as she smooths my jacket and tangles her fingers in my hair, pulling me into a deep kiss. She traces my lower lip with her tongue, and I open my mouth to her exploration, a moan escaping the moment that our tongues touch. She walks us backwards, lips still connected in the frantic kiss, until I feel the soft leather of my desk chair against the back of my knees. I'm a little surprised she passed the desk, but as I collapse into the chair and she climbs above me, her knees either side of my thighs, I can understand why she did. It's amazing to feel her weight against me, and I don't think my desk would be quite as effective a place for her to do this. Our bodies are pressed together, and I can't move backwards because of the chair. I don't want to though.
She's kissing me hungrily, all teeth and tongue, need and desperation, and I kiss her back with equal intensity, losing myself in her scent, her taste, the way she fits against me as though we were made to do this. I caress her ass, swallowing her moan and pulling her impossibly closer, needing more of her. I nip at her lip gently, immediately soothing the pain with my tongue, and she surges closer, our breasts colliding and tearing a moan from deep within me.
"Oh, God. Erica! Erica, please." The lust in her voice causes a flood of arousal, and I don't know where to start. I want to make her feel about me the way I do about her. I want to claim her as my own, to know that no one has touched her quite the way I do. I need her with a certainty I've never felt before. Tugging at her leather jacket, I forget that we're in the hospital and I absolutely should not be doing this, under any circumstances. Callie shrugs her arms out of the sleeves, leaving her in a tight black shirt that leaves nothing to the imagination. I stare at her for a moment, licking my lips involuntarily as my eyes peruse the swell of her breasts under the shirt.
"This needs to come off." Gliding my hands down her torso and up under the shirt, I smile at her as she lifts her arms... and she almost falls off the chair. She giggles at me, flushing with embarrassment as I steady her above my body. "Maybe this isn't the best place to be doing this." My voice is deep, and it intensifies the arousal I can see in her eyes. I don't want to stop, but the position is beyond awkward, so I coax her from my lap. When she stands, I join her, discarding my jacket on the floor next to hers and backing her towards my desk.
I cup her ass with both hands, squeezing gently before moving my hands a little lower and lifting her to sit on the edge of my desk. I watch through hooded eyes as she takes off her own shirt before reaching towards me and unbuttoning mine. I don't know where to look. Her breasts are calling to me, clad in black satin that I want to tear from her skin, but she's pinned my arms by sliding my shirt halfway down them. She pulls me into her body, and our lips meet frantically, swallowing each others' moan as our heated skin comes into direct contact. She tangles her fingers in my hair once more, and I free my own arms from my shirt, letting my hands skim across her gorgeous curves until they reach the clasp of her bra, where years of practice comes in handy and I unfasten it in one smooth movement, letting it fall to the floor between us. I step back, eager to look at her, to see what I'm capable of inspiring in her.
There's a slight flush on her chest, and her dark nipples are beckoning me. Her chest is heaving as she tries to keep her breathing steady, and I want nothing more than to make it impossible for her to do that. Kissing a line across her jaw, I bite lightly on her earlobe, loving the way her body bucks closer, and a slight hiss escapes her lips. "Erica..."
I love knowing that she knows who I am, that she's entirely in this moment with me and not lost inside her own head as I drop my lips to her neck and trace a light path with my tongue. She's begging me to touch her, begging me for more, but I want to take my time worshipping her body. Our night together was rushed and a little blurry, and I want to remember every second of it this time. I want to remember every gasp, every whimper, every touch and taste. There's no possible reason for this other than the palpable tension and desire that's always around us, and I love knowing that she wants me because she wants me, not partially because she's drunk.
Sliding my hands up her stomach, feeling the warmth of her skin, tasting the slightly salty sheen that's appearing across her chest, weighing her breasts in my hands... it's all perfection, it's all the same and so much more than being with any woman from my past. She's not quiet as I roll her nipples between my fingers, and I have to kiss her to muffle the moans. Still, I want to taste her. I want to know her very essence, I want to claim her with my lips and tongue.
Dropping to my knees, I look up at her, reveling in the pleasure that's written clear across her face. She visibly struggles to open her eyes, and when she manages it, the depth of emotion would be terrifying if I wasn't painfully aware that it's reflected in my own. Her eyes are inky pools of desire, and I want to see them like this every day. I already love coming to work, but if my mornings started out like this every day? Well, I certainly wouldn't complain that it leaves me a little less time to prepare for rounds.
Sitting in the conference room a little later, I'm only half-thinking about work. The rest of my mind is busy replaying the sounds that Callie made, and the look of awe and passion on her face whenever I glanced up from between her thighs. I'm curious to meet Addison Montgomery, not only because she's here to assist with a surgery that I've never experienced before, and I love the opportunity to rise to new challenges - and of course to outdo Burke, who I know has never worked anything this rare and complicated - but also because of who she is to Callie, and to Sloan. The potential for insight here is unending, and as excited as I am about this surgery, I'm more eager to learn more about Callie.
She's pretty when she enters the room, but she brings with her the last person I want to see in the midst of my post-coital, guiltless bliss. I avert my eyes from Sloan as he stands in the corner of the room, afraid that if I look at him, he'll see the triumph in my gaze. I know now, without a doubt, that Callie wants me even when she's sober, but I can't let him see that. I think Callie will eventually choose me, but I don't want to push it any harder than I have to. I can't scare her away and back into his arms. As guilty as I feel all of a sudden, I need her. And I'm starting to believe that she needs me too. I have to let her make her own decision, but I think she's happier in her stolen moments with me that she is with him.
Addison holds out her hand and offers me a movie-star smile. What is with the doctors who work in this hospital? Even the visiting surgeons are insanely attractive. This woman would draw me to her under any other circumstances. There's just something about her. But, now, I can't see past my feelings for Callie. "Dr. Hahn?"
"Nice to meet you. Callie raves about you." She doesn't, really, but I do get the impression that they're close, and Addison Montgomery could potentially help me to understand what's going on here.
"She's not exactly quiet about you." We exchange grins once more, before the rest of today's surgical team joins us in the room. We arrange ourselves at the table, Mark at one end, the Chief standing as though to oversee us, Yang and Karev in place near the doors, and Bailey and Addison seem to be comfortable to move around the room at will. Addison studies the chart I memorized last night as our residents present.
"Ectopia cordis. The baby's heart is growing outside of its body in utero." Yang's doing a good job of pretending she's not completely excited by this procedure, but I'm not fooled. This is a once-in-a-lifetime surgery. The chances of anything like this falling into our laps again is almost zero, and it's the reason that Yang is my choice of resident, even though, normally, I avoid her like the plague. I'm not going to let her miss out on something this big, as annoying as she is to me. I know she's as eager for Cardio as I was, and, whilst she needs a more rounded education, she's the only resident that I know will appreciate the unique nature of this case as much as I do. I'm not going to let her forget her place, but I can't keep her away from the OR in this situation. She might think I'm mean, she might think that I don't like her, or that I'm not teaching her, but none of these things are really true.
Even though I know I shouldn't, I zone out of the conversation. I'm following it, but not participating,
and if someone asked me a question, I'm not entirely sure I'd be able to answer. It's that weird state between aware and day-dreaming. There are so many things that could go drastically wrong where this procedure is concerned, but this is what I live for. The rush of adrenaline, the knowledge that I'm the only person that could pull this off, that everything relies on my knowledge, my skills, my talent and experience... there are so few feelings in the world that are like this. The only thing that's even come close in recent years is touching Callie, and I have to stop thinking like that. Her husband is in the room, we're talking about life-threatening birth-defects and complicated, demanding surgeries, and I'm remembering the feel of her hands on my breasts. I have to right my priorities, and fast.
Addison follows Richard over to the monitor beside me, and I know, despite the fact that I'm not really listening, that he's showing her the potential diaphragmatic hernia.
"You and I have a got a lot of work to do on this little guy." Essentially, it is down to the two of us. Everyone else in this room will assist, but Addison and I are the ones who need to be at the top of our game today. Which means I have to stop thinking about Callie. I know that the endorphins that flood my body from our morning activities will wear off soon, and if I don't stop thinking about her, I'll be stuck in the less happy thoughts of the two of us. The thoughts that make it clear that I'm not okay with this. I'm not okay with her being married. I'm not okay with being her fun little fling, I'm not okay with only being able to touch her and show her how much I care about her when she decides it's okay. I'm not okay with following along every time because I don't know when or where or even if the next opportunity will exist. If I let myself get lost in that thought... I don't know that I can do my job. And that scares me more than anything else ever has.
"You up for it?" Addison's voice breaks through my thoughts, and I give her the expected response - even as I know it could be a lie.
"Something about the guy makes me just wanna punch him out." After our meeting with the parents-to-be, I'm feeling much like Karev about the father. I don't voice it, but there was something so irritating about that man's inability to see how bad things really are. Maybe it's just because Alex Karev and I are both pessimists, and we don't know how to deal with bright and shiny people. Maybe it's just the fact that neither of us are exactly the biggest fan of people in general. Whatever it is, I definitely find myself silently agreeing with the often-rash young doctor with whom Dr. Montgomery seems to have a connection.
"And yet you didn't, for which I am grateful, Karev." Addison sends him on his way with a smile, leaving the two of us alone but for my shadow. I sigh audibly as I turn to face Addison, and, no doubt looking for the same connection that Dr. Montgomery has with Karev, Yang leans in a little closer.
"Hippies. Annoying, huh?" Not nearly as annoying as you are, Yang. Not even close, in fact. It's not what I say, but I may as well have.
"Go away." Yang does as she's told, and I immediately feel less chained.
"Hey. How great is she?" The frown turns into a smile immediately when Callie appears from behind me to stand at my side, her hand trailing lightly across my waist before she lets it drop to her side, our eyes trading secrets before she turns to face Addison. I look at her for just a split-second longer than I should, and when I turn to Addison too, she's looking at me as though she's trying to figure something out. I can't be that easy to read, surely?
"She's great." I put a little extra enthusiasm into my voice, both trying to leave a positive impression on the only person that I think Callie might talk to about us, and hide the worry that Addison has already figured us out.
"Did I tell you?" I can't help but smile at the joy in Callie's tone. I don't think I've seen her quite like this before, and I love it. I love seeing her smile so widely, and I so badly want to see that smile every day.
"You told me."
"Did she tell you?" This time the question is directed at Addison, and I wonder if the redhead has any idea what Callie is talking about, because I don't. The only thing I can think of that I would have to tell Addison, I don't think Callie wants me to share.
"Tell me what?" It's relieving that Addison has no idea either.
"Does she know you were fired?" The first rule of playing your cards close to your chest? Distraction.
"You were fired?"Huh, seems like I was right about one thing: Callie isn't quite as close to Addison as she likes to act. I don't know what it is, but I get the impression that there might be a history there that Callie is more aware of than her 'best friend' is. I don't think there was a relationship of any kind, but, either Callie had a crush, or Addison plays a bigger part in all of this than just being Mark's ex.
"From Chief Resident-"
"Which, as it turns out..." I turn to Callie with a smile, although I'm still watching Addison watch us from the corner of my eye.
"Is the best thing that could have happened, really." Callie and I laugh comfortably together, and Addison watches on with a look that I can't quite figure out, her voice quiet as she speaks.
"No kidding." The way Addison is watching us is starting to make me feel uncomfortable, and I know I have to get out of here - and I know that Callie was looking for me for our morning coffee that has become not so much a routine as a lifeline in long days and nights of fighting against ourselves.
"Are you headed?"
"Yeah." I love this about Callie and I: sometimes we don't really have to speak to know what the other means.
"Alright, I'll walk with you."
"Okay." Callie offers Addison a smile, and then the two of us are perfectly in sync as we walk down the hall. I can't repress the shiver that runs through my body when she rests her hand between my shoulder blades. It's ridiculous, the way my body reacts to her presence.
"You know, you really are bad at the paperwork part," I tease her, giggling along with her. That's another thing that's ridiculous. I don't giggle - except, with Callie, I do.
"When have you ever seen my paperwork?"
"Never you mind, I-" I'm cut off as Callie glances quickly around us before pulling me into a supply closet and crushing her lips against mine. I open my mouth to protest, but she takes the opportunity to deepen the kiss, and my attempt at words turns into a moan as her tongue strokes lightly against mine.
"Callie... we're at work."
"We were at work this morning too." She smirks at me, raising her eyebrows, and I can feel myself flush as I flash back to the fun I had this morning driving her completely out of her mind. "Thought I should return the favor." She kisses me again, and five minutes later, I'm up against, the door, Callie pinning me with her body as her hand strokes me through the thin material of my scrub pants. I'm trying desperately to stay quiet, but it's difficult when she's touching me exactly how I need to be touched.
Her free hand slides under my scrub top, lightly stroking my stomach as she moves towards my breasts, and I thrust my chest towards her, needing more of everything. When she tears our lips apart in search of air, my breathing sounds harsh and much too loud in the small room. "Callie... please."
"You feel so good." Her voice is husky, and I can't help but groan in response, pressing closer to her in search of relief. My entire body feels like it's burning, and I want to be engulfed in the flames. If it means Callie touching me, if it means Callie kissing me... I want to burn.
"I want you so much." It's a struggle to get the words out; as it is, they're interspersed with longing moans as Callie teases me and drops kisses across every inch of my neck.
"I'll catch you."
"What?" It's almost impossible to get the word out. I'm drowning in her, and I can't concentrate on anything but her hand against my need.
"Let go, Erica. I'll catch you." She bites down on my shoulder, her fingers finally slipping inside my pants, her thumb rolling against me, and that's all it takes. She swallows my moan with a kiss, and I pant against her, my knees shaking, her body against mine the only thing that keeps me from falling. I need it, her body against me. I want to fall, and maybe I already have, but the way things are? There's no way she can catch me.
It stings even more to realize that in the immediate aftermath of release than it has at any other time. I don't think I can do this much longer.
For what must be the first time, Callie doesn't notice me as she carries her tray to the table where Addison sits. Yang intercepts her as she waves at the redhead with a smile almost as wide as the ones she saves for me.
"You're friends with her." I know immediately what Yang's talking about, but Callie seems totally lost.
"What? What are you talking about?" I watch her eyes flicker towards Addison, and I wonder if Callie is really as lost as she seems, or if she doesn't want Addison to catch on to what's really between us. I think Addison might already know, though, if the way she's been studying me is any indication.
"Hahn." Yang's as abrupt as ever. We really can be scarily alike. "She's completely unfair; she refuses to teach me! I got in at Mass Gen, I got in at Johns Hopkins," I didn't know that. "I could have gotten in anywhere, and she won't teach me!"
I glance at Addison, noticing that she's as riveted by the conversation as I am. Yang will probably pay dearly for trying to use my connection with Callie to her advantage, but when Callie speaks, I always listen, so I don't have the chance to think up an appropriate punishment right now.
"Alright, look. Erica... she's a really good listener. She's... she comes off harsh at first, but she's got a really good heart, so just tell her how you feel." I'm amazed by the way Callie sees right through me, but she can't honestly think that the way I am with her is the way I am with everyone. Or the way I've been with anyone before. In fact, I know she doesn't, so I don't know what she means by telling Yang to talk to me. The thing is, if Yang chose the right time and place for once, I would listen. I would tell her what she needs to do to get me to bat in her corner. She won't though.
Callie steps around the younger woman, sliding gracefully onto the bench opposite the woman I've heard so much and yet so little about since I told Callie she was coming up to help out with today's procedure. Yang spins around, hands on hips.
"Tell her how I feel? Well, I don't speak girl." That's another thing in a long list that Cristina and I have in common. I never spoke girl until Callie came along and made those things so easy.
As Yang walks away, Callie watches her go. Addison watches Callie. I watch both of them, longing to know what Addison is thinking - and unable to tear my gaze from the woman I love for too long. Callie turns back to her friend, pulling a face before turning to her lunch. "Sorry about that."
Addison doesn't reply. She just stares at Callie, a knowing look on her face. It takes a second, but Callie notices, casting a wary gaze towards the other woman. "What? Why are you looking at me like that?"
"Callie..." Addison draws her name out almost teasingly, and I know what's coming.
"Mmm hmm?" So does Callie, I think.
"Are you speaking the... Vagina Monologues now?" I watch my girl frown as if she doesn't know what Addison's talking about, when the truth is, all three of us do. Callie and I are getting dangerously careless about the truth that underlines our friendship. Today's little interlude in the supply closet proved that. I wait with baited breath for denials: a declaration of Callie's love for Mark, or her love of dirty, dirty sex, with dirty, dirty men - anything that will dissuade Addison's line of questioning. Instead, she tries to buy time. Clearly, Addison is very observant, and Callie is a terrible liar.
"I think- Erica, I mean, she seems great. I really do like her actually. I do." I think Addison's pretty great too. "Are you?" I could almost kiss her for asking. Someone needs to bring home to Callie what's really going on, because, when it comes down to it, I think Callie wants me more than she wants Mark.
"That's- that's- that's insane is what it is." I know I'm not the only one of the three of us who doesn't believe a word she's saying.
"Callie... it's okay. Just... do you love her?"
I watch panic flutter across Callie's face as she searches for a way out of the conversation. I see her accept that she can't get out of it. I see her brace herself. It's a long time before she speaks, Addison's hand on hers providing the catalyst. "I don't know. I could."
My heart is beating double time and I know that I've never felt so much hope swell in my chest before.
"And Mark?" It's the question I've been asking myself for weeks. Does Callie love Mark? In all her excuses and explanations, she's never once said 'I can't do this, because I love him.'
"I love him, Addie. I'm just..." My heart is sinking again. "I'm just not in love with him. Maybe I never was."
I watch Callie look up and lock eyes with Addison, see her searching for answers from her friend.
"Then you have a decision to make. Before Mark figures it out for himself. If you want to be with Erica, you need to make the break now, because everyone will hurt more if you don't. But, if you're going to stay with Mark, then you need to be with him all the way. No more Erica thoughts, no more Erica moments, no more Erica touches, or kisses or whatever else you two have done. Are you willing to give that up to save your marriage?" I don't know how Callie feels about that last option, but just the idea of losing her is killing me. And she's not even mine.
Callie stares into the distance. I don't know if she's confused, or if she knows what she has to do. I don't know which of us she's deciding to break.
"Callie?" There's no response. "Choose with your heart."
Callie's clearly panicking when I next see her. The happy dance that my heart is doing dies out a little when I see how much she's been shaken by Addison's words, but I greet her with all the professional enthusiasm I normally do in the halls of the hospital. I'm due in surgery in less than an hour, and I need to not worry about this right now. "Torres."
"Hey! Uh, do me a... do me a... do me a favor and put Yang on your surgery." That's definitely panic. Sometimes I hate always being right. I don't even bother trying to ask her what's wrong. I know she won't tell me.
Instead, I offer her a smile, and an answer that's just a shade too eager. "Only if you buy drinks at Joe's tonight." I don't bother to tell her that Yang was already going to be the resident on my surgery. I've let Yang hang on that one all day, but she was always going to be the one who would scrub in. I just enjoy making her squirm. In a completely different way to how I like to make Callie squirm. And dammit, I have to stop thinking about that!
"Done!" It works out well for me, as we walk in opposite ways down the hall. I do exactly what I was already planning to do, and I get to spend time with Callie after I'm finished. I'm almost certain she'll invite Addison along, if only as a buffer between the two of us, and what she's finally admitted - possibly even for the first time in her own mind. Despite my thoughts of not doing this earlier today, I know I've got it so bad. With the promise of more time with her tonight, and maybe an opportunity to talk to Addison and get some answers for the myriad of questions I have about Callie and Sloan, I can push it all away long enough to get through this surgery. It's ground-breaking. Even with the distractions that could get in the way, it doesn't take much effort for me to keep focused on it.
It always amazes me just how many of our colleagues can be found at Joe's at any given moment. Little groups of doctors and nurses spring up everywhere you look as soon as the sun goes down. The advantage this bar has over the other hole-in-the-wall places around here is that it's less than a block from the hospital. When a day has been particularly stressful, there's a huge advantage to that. No cars needed, no worrying about leaving cars in the parking lot of a bar somewhere downtown... just a five minute walk and a good glass of wine. It's what I'm indulging in as Addison nurses a whiskey sour and Callie downs shot after shot of tequila. I'm feeling pretty pleased with myself, and I suspect Addison is too - we were successful today, and a newborn baby has a heart that's beating in his chest thanks to the two of us - but Callie is obviously still freaking out.
I wish I could say that I don't know what has her so worked up tonight, but at least it's loosened her up enough that Addison and I don't have to struggle for conversation while Callie sits in an awkward silence, all of us knowing what's going on between Callie and I, and none of us knowing how much the others know. I smile along with them as they tease each other, and Addison shares stories of California, and that's enough for now. Just being in Callie's presence makes me happy.
"I am. I am very, very funny." Addison offers Callie a smile, and I turn to look at the Latina beside me, longing to place my hand on her arm or to push her hair out of her face, but knowing that I can't.
"You won't believe what she- believe what she-" Callie's stammering as I notice that she wasn't lying when she told me that she used to eat her hair. Well, maybe fibbing about the used to part of the equation. A strand of silky black hair is stuck to her lips, and I know I couldn't stop myself from brushing it away, however hard I try, so I don't bother trying.
"Wait, wait, wait. Hang on, hang on, hang on. You've got a hair that is caught... caught in your lip-gloss. "The look Addison gives Callie as I lean over and brush my fingertips across Callie's lips to free the hair is calculated, and knowing. She knows she called it right about us, and she knows that Callie wants me as much as I want her. I can see it in her eyes. All three of us know it, but we'll continue to pretend we don't, I'm sure. Nothing quite like an awkward evening with your... something and her best friend to relax after a long, taxing day. "Sorry, you were saying?"
"I don't know, I'm just very funny."
"Funny." I echo her, suddenly not sure what to talk about. It hasn't been a problem for the three of us so far tonight, with Callie and Addison teasing each other about the many stupid things they've done, and me laughing happily at them. There's something amazing about watching the person you love be truly happy. And Callie was, until I touched her lips, happy and relaxed and lost in the moment; content to be with her friend, and, well, however she categorizes me. I think it's a little more than just friend, but I don't know for sure. I don't know anything really, and it's more frustrating than I ever imagined it could be. But then, I never saw myself as the woman who would let herself get into this situation, either. She did say she could love me, earlier today. I have to hold onto that.
"Yes, it turns out I am." I think Addison is feeling the tension around us just as much as I am, because she tries for flippant and comes off more tense. Callie downs yet another shot.
"Any of you ladies wanna dance?" There's just a second of uncomfortable silence amongst the three of us, and I'd be relieved for the distraction if it came in any other form than Mark Sloan. Even Yang would have been a better option. Suddenly, he's standing beside our table, eyeing all of us briefly, before his gaze settles on Callie, making it clear to all of us that she's really the one he was asking.
"For the thousandth time, the answer is no, Mark." Addison sounds as annoyed by Mark as I am. I wonder if that's a hangover from when they were together, or if it's something new, and possibly faked for everyone else's' benefit. Is it wrong of me to hope that she's still interested in him, but she tries to hide it? It would make my life so much easier if he left Callie for Addison - and I don't think it would really hurt Callie, which is the only reason I can wish it. As much as this situation is hurting me, and as much as it would kill me to be without her, if I thought that this was hurting her, I couldn't let it happen.
"Beat it, Sloan." The disdain is clear in my voice too, as I turn away, not wanting to look at him for any longer than I have to. It's true what they say - guilt's a bitch.
"I'll dance with you." I should have seen this coming. Callie downs another shot, what is that, four? Five? We've been here less than an hour, and she's drunk off her ass. Addison must have shaken her more than I thought she did. I watch her hips sway as she follows Sloan across the room, not missing his triumphant smirk in my direction. He doesn't even really know what game is being played here, but in his game, he's winning easily.
I try not to watch as Sloan pulls Callie closer, and she sways effortlessly with the music. She's so beautiful when she's dancing. It's unbelievable. I'm struggling to keep my attention at the table, but, fortunately for once, Yang brings my attention back to what's happening around me before I can make my feelings for Callie all too obvious.
"Hi." Addison seems a little confused as to what Yang wants, but I know she doesn't need to worry - it's me she wants something from. After the junior resident's conversation with Callie this afternoon, Addison should too, but apparently, other things have stuck in Addison's mind.
"Dr Hahn?" I can't help but roll my eyes as I look at her.
"Yang." Nothing. "Yang?" I know my tone is irritated, but, really, what does she expect? She thinks that outside the hospital, in my down time, is the right time to talk to me about hospital issues? I thought I was socially challenged, but I'm a social butterfly compared to this woman.
"Okay, is it... is it 'cause I'm Asian? Is that your problem? You don't like Asian people?"
"Why won't you teach me?" The petulance is showing, and it's not something I appreciate. I think about how to phrase my response for just a second, but I know what it is that annoys me most.
"You're not without skill. You're not without talent. So... stop seeking my approval. I am not gonna tell you what a good little girl you are. It's not my job. And, frankly, it doesn't make you any better at yours." Burke may have told her how brilliant she is all the time, but it's just not what I'm going to do. Making her feel like she needs to prove herself will make her work harder - and I really want to be able to say that I had a hand in training her. As annoying as she can be - and if she cuts out the approval-seeking, the annoyance level will fall - she will make a fantastic heart surgeon in the future. If she lets herself get a general surgery education as well, she may one day be my main rival for the Harper Avery. It'll be nice for it to be someone other than Burke, but I also want to be able to say that I helped in that journey.
Yang leaves, in another huff, no doubt, and I turn back to my drink, using every ounce of resolve I have to resist the urge to watch Callie's hips move.
"Geez. Little hard on her, don't you think?" I love that Addison isn't afraid of me. She doesn't defer, she doesn't submit, she's not afraid to call me out on my shit.
"I think she reminds me of me." We both let that sit for a moment. It's true enough, and I don't need Addison Montgomery to know every one of my secrets. She already knows the biggest one, just because she knows Callie so well. I sip on my wine, watching as Callie's hips weave a seductive pattern for someone who's not me. I'm not sure that it matters that it's Mark. I think I'd be just as jealous if it was anyone that's not me.
"She's pretty, huh?" Addison
"She's beautiful." It's wistful even to my ears, and the look on Addison's face tells me she knows it too. I know she knows there's something between us, but I don't really know how much Callie has ended up telling her. I watch Callie dance with Mark, my heart clenching painfully as she attempts to show the whole bar just how into men she is. I know she's wondering who else sees the truth behind our carefully built facade. If Addison can see it from just one day in our company, how many others suspect?
I watch the woman I love dance with Mark, and it kills something inside of me. Worse is to come though. Callie throws an apologetic glance over her shoulder as he leads her from the dance floor. I know what's going to happen. I know I won't sleep tonight thinking about it. Not that I've been sleeping so well recently anyway, imagining what she might be doing with him, but imagining, and knowing are two completely different things, I'm discovering. And I know this time.
I should have known that this was the risk once other people started to see the truth; that, even if it eventually draws her back to me, makes her completely mine... it could put a wedge between us. It's all 'fun' when no one knows, and it wouldn't be the first time that a woman has been interested in me because being with me isn't really cheating... but I thought Callie was different. Her words and actions are different. The way she touches me is different. Everything about her is nothing like anything I've ever experienced before. She knows she's cheating on him, or at least, I thought she did, and that, I thought, was going to make all the difference. It meant that her feelings for me ran deeper than
curiosity, experimentation, and lust. I thought it meant she truly cared for me too.
Maybe I need to reevaluate.
Addison shakes me from my thoughts. I hadn't even realized that she was still here, I was so lost in introspection, but she's looking at me, concern written across her face. "Exactly how in love with her are you?"
"Hey, no judgment here. Callie is... pretty amazing. And whatever you two have... or haven't... done... it's not really my business. I just worry about her. I never thought she should marry Mark."
"No. Well, maybe a little, but only of the married part. It's not... I mean, I know why she did it, but I still think it was stupid."
"Why did she marry him?" Every indication I've had leads me to believe that she doesn't really love him, at least, not as much as she should - and then she put it into words today. I don't think I've ever had an emotional rollercoaster of a day quite like this one. I've been as high as I can remember being... but, right now, I feel like I've been shoved into the gutter.
"I don't know if it's really my story to tell. I don't know everything."
"Trust me. You know more than I do. "
"I saw you. At lunch? You know she doesn't love him."
"I do." There's no point in denying it. Addison must know that I've been running that particular part of their conversation through my mind all day.
"How much has she told you?"
"They're married. I saw her wedding picture and... her eyes are sad somehow. She's not happy. Maybe she never was."
"We don't talk about Sloan."
Addison stares into the distance for a second, sipping her wine thoughtfully as she mulls that over. "No. I don't suppose you do."
There's still no judgment in her tone, but I feel defensive anyway. I don't quite do my favored 'attack is the first line of defense' thing, but it's almost there. "I didn't know! When I kissed her the first time.. I didn't know about them!"
"You kissed her?" There's honest surprise in Addison's voice. "Huh. I really thought that would have been her." She continues, answering the question I want to ask. "She's never wanted to be with him. I warned them both, but they didn't listen."
"He's always had a thing for her though. When she broke up with George, he went after her straight away. I don't really know what happened. I didn't know Callie then, and things were strained between me and Mark... but they were sleeping together when we became friends."
I didn't need to hear that. I'd almost forgotten in the hope of figuring out more about Callie, but now the almost certain knowledge of what they're doing roars back to the surface of my mind. I visibly cringe at the thought.
"Sorry." Addison looks truly apologetic, and I know she realizes what I'm thinking.
"It's not. None of this is okay. It doesn't have to be like this. It shouldn't be like this. God... I still can't believe she married him."
"Addison... it's okay. Just... please... tell me why."
"She got pregnant, and-"
"She what?!" I yell it, but I don't notice the looks that are surely directed our way, I don't notice our surroundings at all, they're lost behind the white noise that fills my head. They have a child? How did I not know this? How could she not tell me this? I can't be the person who rips a family apart. I... when it was just a loveless marriage, it was different. It was still wrong, but it was different. Now... it has to be over. There's no other option. I feel tears stinging my eyes, but I don't really notice that I'm hyperventilating until I feel Addison's hand stroking my back and hear her voice softly telling me to breath. It's a struggle, but I calm down enough that everyone's attention wanes from me. I know I can't stay here though.
Without really thinking, I stand up from the table, leaving Joe's on legs that feel like they could collapse at any second. I ignore Addison as she calls after me, and I'm halfway across the parking lot before I notice that I don't have my jacket or my bag. The hospital is less than a block away though, and I can't face going back to the bar, so I keep walking, wrapping my arms around my body against the cold. I'm determined not to cry. It doesn't matter what I want anymore. Callie is a mother as well as a wife, and, even if she sees it as less than a responsibility, I don't. I know what it's like to grow up with a parent who's never around, and I won't help another child live that way.
I don't notice that Addison has followed me until I feel her hand on my shoulder. Apparently Callie isn't the only one who thinks nothing of casually touching me. I spin around, not sure what I'm expecting. The only thing I can see on her face though is concern. She hands me my jacket, and I try to offer a smile, but I'm sure I'm unsuccessful.
"Can I finish the story?" I don't think I want to know. I don't think I need to know.
"Does it matter? If there's a kid involved-"
"I know. Can we talk about this inside somewhere?"
I don't want to go back to Joe's and we're about equidistant between there and the hospital. "My office?" Addison nods and we walk together in silence. I'm trying to figure out what Addison is trying to tell me, but I can't make sense of it. She married him because she got pregnant, but there's no child? I'm sure when Addison explains it, there'll be a simple answer, but I can't for the life of me figure out what it could be.
Even with the uncertainty in my head and heart, the hospital soothes me a little. It always has. There's a simplicity in the familiar hallways that never change whatever hospital you happen to be in; an underlying order that can't be completely destroyed, even in this den of iniquity. You can't be overdramatic in a hospital - if someone says it's a matter of life and death, it probably is. Despite the unpredictable nature, there's a routine that can't be ignored.
We stop for coffee before I lead Addison to the room where so much of my Callie drama has played out. A month ago, she told me she was married in this office. This morning, I made her scream my name on top of the desk in the center of the room, tonight, I'm about to find out the answers to the questions that have plagued me - but I'm not sure I want to know anymore. I sink into the chair that Callie pinned me in this morning, and the images that flash across my brain torture me. This is all so fucked up. All of it. Waving my hand towards the chair on the other side of the desk, I watch as Addison settles herself opposite me, the other woman looking much calmer and composed than I'm sure I do.
We sit in silence for a moment, both of us staring into our coffee cups. As wonderful as caffeine is though, it's not going to give me any answers. "Tell me."
"Erica, are you okay?"
"No." There's no point in lying. She knows as well as I do that it's a long, long way from where I am to okay. "Please... just... tell me?"
"I don't think she wanted it. She, um, she couldn't get an abortion, but she was going to put it up for adoption. She wants kids one day... but she wasn't ready, and she didn't want them with Mark. But... he found out about it, and he begged her."
"I think some of it was my fault. The day she found out she was pregnant, she tried to talk to me, but... it was the day I would have been having Mark's baby, if I hadn't had an abortion because I wanted to stay with my husband. Who left me anyway. I wasn't listening to her, and I... I didn't know, but I changed her mind. She couldn't put Mark through that again. Even though she wasn't going to do the same thing to him, she couldn't take his child away from him again. She has a good heart, Erica. If she's doing this with you, she's doing it because she cares, not just for some kind of thrill. "
Maybe in this hospital, you can be overdramatic. God forbid that just one of us wouldn't have a totally inappropriate relationship with a fellow doctor.
"She wanted to love him. She was carrying his baby. I think maybe she thought she could grow to love him. After all, he's everything that she ever thought she'd want. He's kind, he's gorgeous, he has a good job-" I screw up my face in disgust, and, despite the somber moment, Addison laughs a little. "It's what most women want, Erica. She's always been afraid of what not having that means."
"Are you saying-"
"I don't know. Maybe. That's a question for her though, don't you think?"
"Then why did she marry him?"
"She was having his baby Erica. He wanted to do it right, and... he'd fallen in love with her. He flew down to Miami to ask her parents' permission before he asked her, and when she said yes... he was the happiest I'd ever seen him. She wanted to do it quietly, just him and her and a couple of witnesses, but Mark wanted a big production. When she found out her parents knew, they agreed to have a small ceremony, just family in Miami. It was never really what she wanted, but she didn't know why. She wanted to make them happy, but I think she made herself miserable."
"Oh, Callie..." It's barely a whisper, but I hurt so much for her. I hurt so much for us. Things could be so different, so easily. "How did they keep it quiet? In this hospital?"
"It was all very quick. And Callie never got to tell everyone she was pregnant. Just before the three month mark... she miscarried. It devastated them both. I think Callie stopped trying to love him then, the reason to try was gone, but she couldn't hurt him anymore. She lost his baby. And I'd killed his baby. She wanted him to still have something."
I don't know what to say to that. My heart is breaking for Callie in this moment. I don't really want children, but I can't even imagine how much pain losing your child must be. Especially when you signed your life away for it. And Mark... he's not exactly my favorite person, but I guess he really is a good guy. He's not the sleeps-around, arrogant, cock-sure asshole the rumor mill made him out to be, and my pain isn't all for Callie.
Why can't things ever be simple?
"Erica? I know I can't tell you what to do, but... please don't let her hurt Mark more than she has to."
"How can you possibly know that he's the one who'll get hurt? "
"I know her. And the way she looks at you... I know her."
Can this much anger and sadness and hope really co-exist?
My day started badly and only got worse. The sick feeling in my stomach reminded me that Callie left me with her friend last night without protest, and the soreness of my eyes reminded me of the tears I cried over that and Addison's revelation once I was alone. I don't even know how I managed to drive home, I could see so little through the tears. I've never been a crier, but Callie seems to reduce me to tears without even trying.
I've been hearing Preston's name whispered in the halls as I pass by, and, once I get to my office, I discover why. Preston fucking Burke beat me - undeservedly - again. It's like being back in Med School again, only so much worse because I thought this was over. The Harper Avery should have been mine this year - I know it, and I know he knows it too. I'm forever in his shadow, and this hospital doesn't help. I don't know why I decided to take this job sometimes. Yes, Head of Cardio at the number two teaching hospital in the nation is prestigious, and will get me to Hopkins that much faster - but it can't be worth the sideways comments about Burke. And I'm on the verge of throwing everything away for a woman. The woman who, if I'm honest, played a bigger part in my coming here than I'd like to admit.
I remembered her from the second of my ill-fated surgeries as a visitor; her doe eyes and stunning features making an impression. even as she tried desperately to keep a part of George O'Malley's attention. I shouldn't have noticed her at all, but, though she wasn't the biggest reason, I did remember her when the Seattle Grace board made their offer. Prestige? Check. Upwardly mobile? Check. Generous compensation? Check. Nice 'scenery'? Definite check. If I'd known that she'd become like a drug - dangerous, addictive and needed - I would have stayed at Pres another few years. Now though, I'm in too deep and can no longer deny that I'm in love with her. And that hurts more than losing the Harper Avery. It was all supposed to be so simple. Find out if she was interested, and if she was, pursue her until I could call her mine. It wasn't supposed to be like this.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
I stare at the announcement on the cover of JAMA for a long time, but it takes up less than half my thoughts. Apparently, the most pressing thing on my mind is the conversation I had at this desk last night. Callie and Mark. Mark and Callie. It's all such a mess. Much as I hate to admit it, I understand their relationship so much better now. I know why, despite the fact that she's obviously not happy, Callie has stayed with him. More than I hate admitting that I kind of get it though, I hate that it makes me love her more. I knew she has a good heart, but this good? I didn't know that. I see what she doesn't though: even without whatever this thing she and I have is, they'll both end up miserable. He might not know it yet - though his veiled warning suggests he does, at least on some level - but Callie doesn't love him. She doesn't love him.
The biggest problem with this new comprehension though is that I can't see her ever leaving him. If she doesn't love him, but she's stayed with him because she doesn't want him to lose everything... as much as I'd like to fool myself, nothing has changed.
It's the sound of interns gathering outside my office that shakes me from my thoughts and reminds me that it's time for rounds. It's obvious as soon as I join the young doctors and call them to order that Yang has heard the news. She's sullen, but I expect that today's surgical patient will enthuse her. I watch her from the corner of my eye as we make our way round the Post-Op and other Pre-Op patients, totally understanding her lack of enthusiasm. Rumor has it that she performed most of his surgeries for months before he left, including the cardiac auto transplantation that I'm convinced is the main reason that he even got the Harper Avery. It's only when I see Callie walking out of an on-call room, Sloan close behind her, that Yang's silence begins to irritate me.
Turning to the woman who hangs around me so much begging for OR time that she's almost become my shadow, I snap at her. "Yang, am I boring you?" I know my annoyance isn't her fault, but I can't stop myself from taking it out on her. "Because, if you'd rather spend the day in the morgue, I have about fifty cadaver hearts that need to be harvested for my research." Turning back to the interns and Alex Karev - who all actually seem interested, - I continue, "So, Keira Marshalls' protocols?"
"I would love to go to the morgue." Well, that's the last thing I was expecting, but I'm actually impressed. "Thank you." With no more palaver, Yang leaves. I never thought I'd see the day that she wasn't jumping all over herself to impress me, but apparently, this is it. I watch her go, wondering if she's deliberately removing herself from a situation where she could put a patient in danger because she's distracted - and wishing that I could do the same.
I'm loud enough that I know Yang can hear me when I say to the others, "Let Yang be an example to all of you. There's no shame in grunt work." And next year, I'll get the Harper Avery for sure. I have Burke's invaluable assistant now, and though I won't lean on her like he did, the very fact that he doesn't have her means that I'll be the easy winner. I hope. I feel oddly proud of her as I lead them towards Keira Marshall's room. "Now, let's meet our Mom in a plastic bubble."
It's immediately apparent that Keira's struggling with her situation when we enter the room, and I completely understand where she's coming from. We've both been betrayed by our own bodies and trapped in situations that there's no easy way out of, but at least I do have the solution for her torment. It still pains me to see her tears as I lead my students towards the quarantined area, despite the donor heart I was informed of less than an hour ago.
"Get me out of here, Lucas. I need to get out of here. Get them to let me out of here." It looks like the woman is having a breakdown, and I really can't blame her. I'd go crazy without human contact for months, and I'm not really a people person. I can't imagine the pain that being separated from your lover and children would be. I can't imagine how much it would hurt to be able to look at your family but not touch them. I've never been so relieved that my parents don't live in Seattle, because if I could see them, I'd want nothing more than to talk to them, and that can't happen. And in my situation with Callie? It would be easier if I didn't know what she feels like against my skin, but now that I do know... not being able to touch her would be worse than torture.
"Honey, calm down." Lucas, Keira's husband, is fraught. He's as broken as she is, I think. He's suffering this too. The difference is that he can get some relief, even if it's only to step outside and see the sun, feel the rain, smell the breeze. I'm calmed by the walls of the hospital, and energized by the OR, but I know I'm unusual in that. Most other doctors don't have the primal affinity to the hospital that I do, and I know that some people - maybe most people - hate to be here. We see people at their worst, often on the worst days of their lives. Maybe it's twisted to like being here as much as I do, but it's here that I'm most in my element, it's in surgery that I become something more than the uncomfortable, awkward, lonely woman that I am in every other aspect of my life. Even when I'm with Callie, the woman I love, I'm really alone.
I'm jealous of my patient. If only someone could mend my heart with the skill that I will mend hers. Gathering the professional facade, I stride across the room with a confidence that I only ever feel in these situations, as Keira notices me and turns her desperation for answers, for freedom, onto me.
"You said I'd have a heart in three weeks, and it's been eight! It has been eight weeks without touching another human being, and I just wanna..."She's sobbing so hard that I can't barely understand her, and I feel for her. I feel for her, but I have to try and calm her. This is sending her pulse and blood pressure through the roof, and if she doesn't have normal results in the final pre-op tests, I won't be able to do anything to help her today. And I need to help someone.
"Keira, listen to me."
"No!"Maybe I'm not Keira Marshall in this situation. Maybe Callie is. She's trapped by circumstance, by a body that quite literally betrayed her - twice - and maybe I'm the only one who can help her. Maybe I'm the only one who can save her.
"Keira, you need to listen to me." I keep my voice calm and even, knowing that working myself up - the way I'm sure Karev would - won't help right now. Keira Marshall needs to be able to hear me when I tell her that she can get out of here - the plastic bubble, anyway - today. She needs to be able to listen to the instructions I have for her. She needs to do everything that we need to get through in order to perform this transplant successfully, and to be able to tell her that, the tears and histrionics have got to stop - even if, deep down, I want to join her in the desperate tears.
"I want to leave! I wanna hug my kids, and I wanna kiss my husband, and I- God, I'm going crazy in here!" I know I can't really touch her, and this may not help much, but I step forward, sliding my hand into the glove that allows Keira Marshall some contact with the world, even if it is through layers of protective rubber. She doesn't seem to notice, too lost in her disconsolate pacing, working herself up into an even worse state than she was in before.
"Keira. Come here, Keira, take my hand." I keep my voice steady and forceful, not letting anyone see just how much the despair affects me. She's not feeling cooperative though, and I'm really starting to worry about her heart rate. If she doesn't calm down soon, too many complications could arise, and if I have to break the isolation barrier, she can't have surgery today. And I think I might need her to get this heart almost as much as she does.
"No" She shakes her head. It's frustrating. There's not much more I can do.
"Keira, take my hand." I lean into the glove a little more, trying for as much reach as possible. She needs something to ground her. Finally, with a deep gulp of air from her oxygen mask, my patient clings to my hand. I squeeze tightly, waiting for her to meet my eyes. Her breathing is evening out, even with this facade of human contact, and I'm amazed by how much reaching out to touch someone soothes the tempest that rages in my own body. It's an incredible thing. I think I'm starting to accept that no person can make it through life alone.
I offer a small smile, and pour all the comfort I can into my grip on her hand. "You are going to leave here soon." She looks at me like she doesn't believe me. I'm not sure I would. I have said that before. "That is what I came to tell you. We have a heart for you." I watch as a smile spreads across her face, and I can feel it echoing on my own. "We have a heart."
Like I said... I can fix her troubles.
Just a few minutes after leaving Mrs. Marshall's room, my blood is boiling as I stare at the announcement on the notice board. Preston fucking Burke. I still can't believe it. I swear, he does it on purpose. Reading what won him the Harper Avery just makes me angrier. This past year, I've done at least twice the research, my name has appeared in JAMA six times as opposed to Burke's four, and I actually performed all of the surgeries credited to me... what more do these people want from me? Am I supposed to grow a penis?
As I turn away and catch sight of Callie at the nurse's station, I realize that that might actually help in other areas of my life, too. For a brief second, I think about just walking away, but I can't do that. I can't let her think that I'm not willing to fight for her, especially now that I've heard her say that she could love me. As much as she's killing me, as confused as I am about whether she will ever stand up for what she wants, even if that means hurting Sloan... I have to let her know that I'm not giving up this easily. I don't know, but it might be part of the reason she's suddenly all over her husband. They've never been like this before, and the combination of Mark laying down the gauntlet, Callie giving in - again - and Addison's words makes me realize that I'm not going to get what I want and need by being passive. Mark knows it as well as I do: we're fighting each other for the chance to love Callie. He might think he has the advantage... but I'm less and less certain that he does.
"It's because I don't have a penis, isn't it?" I know how she'll take it. I want her to hear it as a commentary on us. Maybe that is even what I'm really talking about. In two steps, I'm standing across from her, trying to ignore the fluttering in my chest as she looks up from the chart she was reading and meets my gaze. Her eyes shift across my face, and, despite her uncomfortable demeanor, I see the same feelings in them as I did in my office yesterday morning. She's getting worse and worse at hiding what she feels for me. It's how we even got into this web of deception, anger and confusion. Today's, not the entire thing. That's a much more complicated story.
"Um..." I watch as she looks past me, and I wish I could read her mind. I wish I could know what she's thinking right now. I let her panic for a moment before I put her out of her misery, continuing on with what I want to believe was my intended meaning. I know though, that any chance to confirm the way she feels, to get inside her head... I know I'll always jump to take them. This didn't really give me any answers. Last night showed me that she's not exactly comfortable around me at the moment. I just wish she'd talk to me about it. I didn't go into this with the intention of any of this happening, and it's a lie if I say that all I ever wanted from her was friendship, but she did become my friend, and the loss of that... it might hurt more than watching her sneak out of that on-call room this morning did.
"I publish more I do double the research. I deserve this more than Burke. It's a big men's club and it's not fair." Relief washes over her face, and I have to hope that, maybe, she's just not ready to talk about this yet. I have to hope that, once she's finished convincing every member of the hospital staff that she's straight as an arrow with noisy, dirty man-sex all over the building, she'll come to me. I have to hold to that. I may not have pushed us into this situation - with the exception of our first, perfect, mind-blowing kisses, Callie has led this dance - but I have to live with it the same way she does. And she's slowly making her way towards me. Or, at least, she was. I didn't bring us here... but I don't think I'm ready to give up now, no matter how much clinging to the hope of us is killing me.
"Huh. I didn't even realize you were being considered." A small smile crosses her lips, and even like this, even with the nervous tension thickening around us, she takes my breath away. I try to force the easy conversation that flows between us about as often as we struggle with the way we feel, but I can already see that it's probably a lost cause. When I look at her - really look at her - this time, I think I see guilt. It's not been there since the night of our first kiss, and I let myself hope, for just a second, that it's guilt over what she's doing to me. Over turning to Sloan. I offer her a slightly crooked smile.
"I wasn't going to mention it until I won." My smile is wider now, and I can see the corners of her mouth starting to turn up. She can't resist how good we are together any more than I can. "And then I was going to be all nonchalant like awards don't matter to me. Now Burke's gone and ruined my whole act." I can hear the self-mocking, confident tone that it's so easy to take with her sneaking back into my voice, and I'm relieved. I've missed it. It's one of the many things that I only let myself do with her. "You wanna meet me at Joe's tonight? We can trash talk him."
Maybe it's pushing a little too fast, but the smile that spread across her face and the laughter in her eyes as I spoke gives me the will to try, and I know I'll hate myself if I don't. I want to spend time with her, I've pretty much resigned myself to that fact at this point. I crave her company like nothing ever before, and I'm completely crazy about her. I know I am. I'll take whatever time I can get.
"Oh, I can't. I have this other thing." She stammers through the sentence, and I know what she's telling me. I can feel the knowledge piercing my body as surely as I would feel it if she just took a scalpel and cut me open. Mark. Addison was wrong. She's choosing him. I shake my head, pushing my lip together tightly, not wanting to ask, but needing to know. I need to know if this is over, if she's calling a halt, if she's asking me to give up. Before I get the chance to figure out what to say though, the very man that I almost wish I was walks up behind her, leaning towards her, speaking to her in a low tone that I'm sure gets him pretty much everything he wants from any woman he uses it on. It sickens me.
"Hey. Can you talk to the nurses for me? What's wrong with a little harmless flirting? Tell them I'm a good guy."
"I don't think you are a good guy." I scowl at him, knowing that I shouldn't really respond, but wanting to tell him that sexual innuendo isn't really good guy behavior, and, unlike the three of us, the nurses don't know that he's married and just entertaining himself. If he was married to anyone but Callie, I'd suspect that he's not just flirting with them... but who would be crazy enough to screw around on Callie Torres? Who would feel that she's anything less than everything they need?
"Callie thinks I'm a good guy. She thinks I'm a very good guy." Mark slaps Callie on the ass, and he may as well have just struck me. It hurts the same way, maybe worse. He lets his hand rest against her, and it's torture. I can't rip my eyes away from his as he smiles, a little triumph entering into his gaze. He's so certain that he's going to win, and I want to talk; I want to tell him exactly why he shouldn't be so certain of his place. I want to tell him that Addison is sure she'll choose me, that I've driven her insane with desire on the edge of my desk, that I've explored every inch of her with my tongue, and I know I've made her feel more than she ever has before. I narrow my eyes at him, shifting my stance and biting the inside of my lip to stop the words from spilling into the spaces between us.
"Um" Callie's uncomfortable laughter lets me know that she sees exactly what she's doing to me. She doesn't shift away from Mark's touch, and she makes no attempt to actually talk to me; to tell me what she's feeling, or to make plans to do that later. Mark smirks at me over her shoulder, and I know that someone's going to get hurt here if I don't leave now.
I didn't miss this before: it just wasn't there. Since our conversation, Mark has been laying claim on Callie every chance he gets. The difference now is - since Addison's visit - she's been letting him. I don't understand it. Addison didn't bring any new truths - to Callie anyway. All she did was see what we really are; what we truly have.
I can't watch her simper to him anymore. She doesn't love him. I heard her say it. And, if my mind isn't playing tricks on me, I heard her say that she could love me. I don't understand this at all. I wish that Callie would just talk to me, but it's probably too much to ask. With one last scathing look, I leave them both there.
I loiter in my office for a long time, pretending to do paperwork once more, but in reality, I'm just staring into space and trying to figure out what's going on here. Callie was fine before Addison came, and I was just confused and hopeful. Now though, I know things that maybe I shouldn't, and Callie's running away from me like I'm the annoying boy in Kindergarten who thinks that chasing girls with spiders hides that he likes them. I thought it would be simple. It was supposed to be simple. Even after I found out she was married, it was supposed to be easier than this. It should be a case of "who do you love?" Instead, it's "who are you willing to hurt?" Because she's hurting me, and if Addison is right, making herself happy will hurt him. She's not been willing to hurt him in the past. Is it any different now? It doesn't look like it.
I thought that Addison's visit was a blessing, I thought that I'd get the answers I needed that would make this okay. I was sure that Addison would give her the push she needed to see that she has to take her own happiness into account, and she'd be happier with me than she is with him. Everything I predicted came true... but at a price that I'm not sure I'm ready to pay. I don't know if I'll ever be able to pay it.
If Callie's going to break someone's heart, it's looking more and more likely that it's going to be mine.
I fooled myself into thinking that I was something more than just her dirty little secret, her mistress, her fun on the side. I let myself believe Addison when she told me that Callie cares more about me than she does about Mark. I let myself fall into this stupid little lie, and I forgot to protect my heart. My job is to protect and to fix hearts... and I forgot to build the walls around my own. At least, when it comes to Callie, I forgot to keep the walls up. She hammered through them like they were never there, and maybe for her they weren't. Maybe I saw her and I let myself be blinded by her beauty. I became the shallow idiot that I've scorned my entire life, the woman who lets someone walk all over her because they're just so damn beautiful she can't resist. I've never thought of myself as shallow, and I convinced myself that I was in love with someone who isn't the woman I thought she was. I'm a fool.
She's not going to leave him. I'm certain of that. The question is, am I willing to wait for her to get over her freak-out and then be the person she turns to when Mark doesn't want her? Or when she doesn't want him? Stupidly... I don't know the answer anymore.
"One hundred point four." Nurse Tyler pulls the thermometer from Karev's mouth and I watch the man's face fall. He knows what's coming.
"Sorry, Karev." He's barely two degrees too warm, and because of that he can't cut. I know how much that has to suck.
"Oh come on, I'm fine."
"Immune system protocols. I am not putting Mrs. Marshall at risk. Page Yang, she's scrubbing in. You go get Mrs. Marshall's family. you're on babysitting duty the rest of the day." I do feel bad for him. He's one of the few junior residents in this hospital that I don't actively dislike, and the only one of Yang's little gang that I can stand. As far as I've seen, he's not a kiss-ass, and his private life stays mostly outside the hospital doors. Which, currently, makes him more of a professional than I am. He's done nothing wrong today, and I really think I'd prefer to have him in the OR than Yang, but I have to minimize Mrs. Marshall's risk of infection and complications. She's not in a plastic bubble because I thought it would be funny to put her there.
Once I'm done destroying Karev's hopes of a surgery , I head back to Mrs. Marshall's room, just wanting to let her know how everything is proceeding, and checking that she doesn't have any last minute questions. We've gone over all of this several times, and she's just eager to get out from behind the isolation barrier that she's been trapped behind for eight weeks. I would be too, so I shake her husband's hand, telling him that I'll send an intern to keep him updated, and tell Keira Marshall that I'll see her in the OR.
Yang is already in the loading bay when I step outside. I don't know why, but I feel compelled to talk to her. Maybe it's because I know she understands at least some of what I'm feeling today, and I need to get some of it off my chest. The professional part is the part that I can share with people, and, maybe, now that Burke has betrayed her as a surgeon, she won't feel the need to praise him at every second. I don't look at her as I speak, but the silence is deafening. The silence in which I've spent most of my day is driving me insane. I've never had a problem with keeping my own company before, but I've learned recently that life is so much easier when you have someone to share it with, and, today, I miss that. If Addison was still here, I could go to her, but she went back to LA this morning, and, though she left me her number and told me that I should call her anytime... I don't feel comfortable enough to do that.
"Donor heart's on it's way." Nothing, not even an indication that she heard me, let alone any showing of enthusiasm that she gets to scrub in on a Cardio procedure. I guess she really wasn't using him to further her career. More fool her. She should have taken Preston for all the advancement he could bring to her future as a surgeon, because Preston Burke doesn't know anything but playing people to get what he wants. He never has.
"Can't imagine how you must feel about Burke's award. You actually helped him with all that research, he didn't even mention you in the article." Still nothing. I thought that that, at least, would provoke a reaction of some sort.
"Well, I guess it's no surprise, his arrogance is legendary." I lived with it in med school, with his getting better grades than I did simply by virtue of the fact that he's male. Female surgeons have to be twice as good as their male counterparts to be thought of as anywhere near as accomplished. That's no different in Med School. I still can't let it go. I know I deserved to graduate ahead of him. I know it.
Glancing over at Yang, I realize she still hasn't even looked at me. It's admirable, in some ways, the way she won't denigrate him, but it's frustrating too. I hoped that this would give us something to solidify our working relationship upon - and that I'd get a chance to really rant. Guess not. "Thought we finally had some common ground. Good for you, refusing to trash him. Rising above. That's very impressive. I am going to follow your example, Yang." I pause for just a second, unable to believe the words I'm about to say.
"Congratulations, Preston. I wish you well."
I don't see Callie again for what seems like forever. She doesn't show for our regular coffee and bitch session, she's nowhere to be seen at lunch. I don't bother looking for her. This is a big hospital, and if she doesn't want to see me, there are too many places she can hide. I'm not going to chase her. It's even more clear now that this has to be her decision. Maybe she already decided.
I can't even admit to myself that the real reason I don't look for her is that I'm terrified of walking in on her with Sloan. However, no one's ever been able to call me a coward before, and I'm not going to start giving them reasons now, so when she walks into the scrub room while I'm prepping for surgery, and I turn from the sink just in time to see her attempting to leave, I stand up and face whatever the Hell is going on here.
"You can run, but you can't hide." It's a little caustic, but the way I see it, I deserve this. I deserve to lose my composure. She's continually pushed us forwards, she's encouraged my heart to become entangled with hers, and now she's trying to run away because, suddenly, it's all too real? No. No way. I'm not going to make this that easy for her. It might be a game to her, a little light entertainment in her otherwise sad life, but my heart is in this.
Damn it, my heart is in this.
"No, I, uh, wasn't... I was just..." I watch as she shifts uncomfortably in place before turning to face me. She's trying and failing to look casual as she starts to walk back towards me, and the way that her eyes are darting around the room so that they don't settle on me... it's unbelievably painful. What the Hell is going on in her head?
Callie turns on the faucet, running her hands under the water. It's almost unbearably sexy. I can't look at her hands, because I know what they feel like on my skin, inside of me, and I can't let myself get distracted by the lust I always feel around her. I need to get this off my chest, and I can't do it while I'm looking at her. Still, I risk a slight glance to my right as I venture, "So, are we on for tonight, or what?"
I'm certain that she's going to say no, but I don't know where else to start. I've never been good at the relationship talk. I haven't had many relationships that have lasted until the point where we need to talk about who we are, where we're going, if the two of us see a long term future in this. I've never had a relationship talk where I care as much as I do with Callie... and I've certainly never had the relationship talk from this position. How do you figure out if there's a future in a relationship where one of you is married? Unhappily married, but married all the same. How do you talk about the fact that, since someone pointed out to her that she needs to decide, she's been avoiding you, and you're terrified that she's already made her choice? That it's the wrong choice, and not just for you, but for everyone.
Her voice interrupts my thoughts, and I can't help but focus completely on her. I'm pathetic. The way I feel about her... it's pathetic. I should be ashamed. "Um, I dunno, I mean, I told you. I have this other thing."
That cuts deep. I don't know if she's saying that she's choosing him, or if there's some other code that I'm not getting, but it hurts. Even when things between us were more than uncertain, even when I didn't know how it feels to have her skin against mine, when I didn't know how the very essence of her tastes, she never ran away; she never avoided me. I don't know how to deal with this. I thought that knowing how she sounds at the height of pleasure would be worth whatever pain watching her with Mark would cause... I was wrong. I'm not big enough to face this. All my strength is worthless when it comes to this woman.
I look away from her, staring at the wall above the sinks as I try to figure out what to say. Directly addressing the situation here feels like too much; feels like it could make her run. I can try to talk around it, but I don't know how to do the coded conversations. I say what I mean, and I mean what I say in every other element of my life, but everything's different with Callie. She makes me stumble, she makes me break my own rules, she makes me someone other than who I always believed I was. If I can't talk in code, and I can't speak the truth, I don't know what my options are. Half-truths? It seems like it might be the only way.
"I don't, uh, make friends easily." That's another thing I don't do. I don't stumble over my words. I have to push forwards, though, because this avoidance hurts too much. "I'm awkward, and I'm bad at small talk, and I generally don't like people, but I made friends with you." The emphasis I place on the word friends probably isn't needed. We both know what I mean. "But, you have this other thing, and... I've never-"
"I'm mad at you. I know I shouldn't be, I know he's your husband, and there are... things... that happen that I don't have to understand, that there are obligations that I don't like, but I'm mad at you. Addison came to visit, and, instead of telling me that you're freaking out because she knows about us... instead of letting us work this out together... you disappear. With your thing." Stepping away from the sink, I clench my jaw.
I can't let her see me cry again. Callie already knows that she has too much power over me. I don't need to give her more evidence of that. I make it to the door before I finish my thought. "I don't make friends easily."
I leave her behind me in the room, and I have no idea whether she ever even looked at me properly. She was running away from me. She's been running away from me all day, and I can't stand it. Is this worth it? Technically, I should have walked into the OR instead of into the halls, and I know that I'm going to have to scrub in again now, but that's okay. Scrubbing in is easy. It's a methodical routine, and it's the literal barrier between the OR and the outside world. It washes away everything in me that's Erica, and leaves me with nothing but Dr. Hahn, and I need that now. Once Callie leaves the room, I'll go back and wash this all away, if only for a little while.
Maybe an hour later, it doesn't matter that I didn't walk into the OR. Keira Marshall went into respiratory distress, and it was either break the isolation barrier - or watch her die. I wasn't here, but Karev did what he knew he had to, and, by all accounts, he did it well. I didn't have praise for him when I discovered what had happened, not really, but I did offer him a slight nod to acknowledge that, despite immune system protocols, and hospital protocols that probably mean he should have waited for me to respond to the 911 page, he did the right thing. Our patient may not be getting a new heart today... but at least she's alive.
She's going to have to stay isolated until a second donor heart can be located, but she's alive.
As I break the news to her, Keira breaks down, and, if I'm honest, I want to do the same. Callie has broken me as easily as Karev broke the isolation barrier this afternoon. The difference is, no good has come of Callie breaking me, and, though Keira Marshall can't see it right now, Karev's disregard for rules and protocol saved her life. Someone needs to save me, but there's no test to prove my heart is breaking. There's no fix; easy or hard. No one can transplant a heart that doesn't love Callie into my chest. I'm dying as surely as Mrs. Marshall is. It's just that no one can save me.
"Okay. I've been avoiding you." Callie's voice startles me as I'm lining up my next dart. I turn to her, trying to keep my face unreadable, trying not to let the emotion overwhelm me. I don't want to get ahead of myself, but if she's willing to talk about this... maybe there's still a chance that we can make something work.
When did I become this woman? I don't think I recognize myself anymore, but if it means that I get to hold Callie, I don't think I want or need to recognize myself. I'm not going to make this any easier for her though. If she's uncomfortable now, it's just a small taste of how I've been feeling all day. Or, ever since we started this thing between us.
I raise my eyebrow, waiting for her to speak. I couldn't start this conversation even if I wanted to. I don't know what's going on in her head, although, I'll add that to the list of things that I wish were different. If I could figure her out, this would all be so much simpler. I could see if Addison is right, if she will eventually give herself to me completely; if I'm right, if Callie really does care for me more than she does Mark.
"It's just... when Addison was here... Addie, she said... she knows, Erica."
"I know." I told her this earlier. Was she listening to me at all?
"Right. Of course you do. I left you alone with her." She mutters a "stupid" under her breath, and I almost want to laugh at her. Almost is the operative word though.
"You did? I didn't notice." I watch the sarcasm in my tone register, and a faint pained look flits across her face. She's hurt? Does she not remember that I had to watch her sway out of here with him last night? Doesn't she know that I tormented myself thinking about them together? I know she doesn't know how much more knowledge I acquired last night, but she does know that I care about her much more than I should - and that watching her play dutiful wife to Sloan kills me.
I might understand more now, but it doesn't mean that I have to like it.
"Erica..." The insecurity in her voice makes me want to wrap her up in my arms until she feels strong again, and I hate how intense my feelings are for her. I hate how invested I am. "I'm sorry."
"There's a lot of that going around." Most of all, I hate that I can't stay mad at her. I was... just seconds ago, I was angry as Hell, but now... I want to kiss her. Despite the fact that the words weren't supposed to be forgiving, that's the way they come out, a soft lilt to them that suggests that I'm sorry too.
It's all okay again when she smiles at me. "You don't have anything to be sorry for."
How do I reply to that? I do. If I hadn't kissed her, we probably wouldn't be here now. Things wouldn't be so complicated. If I wasn't falling in love with her, we could just be fooling around, and she wouldn't have to feel so guilty. If I hadn't pushed Addison to tell me Callie's secrets last night, I wouldn't know things that the woman in question clearly isn't ready for me to know. She can't be the only one who's sorry. She's not the only one who should take the blame. I don't say any of that though. What I say is:
"I'm saying it's okay, Cal."
"It's not okay." There's a soft look in her eyes that I don't think I've ever seen before. Whatever it means, it's beautiful. It makes my heart skip a beat. I can't explain why, but I want to see that look again. "I... you didn't do anything wrong. Whatever else you could be... you're still my best friend. You deserve better."
I don't understand what's going on here, and I need to, for my sanity. I thought that knowing why she married him would help things make sense. I thought that, if I could just understand why her smile doesn't reach her eyes in her wedding photo... I could figure this thing out.
It's just made everything a hundred times more complicated.
It doesn't help that Callie doesn't know that I know. And she said could. I don't know if that's good or bad.
I have no idea what to do.
Jason Duvall is one of the many patients that I've been treating for years. We've been waiting for a heart for a long time now, and I didn't trust my colleagues at Presbyterian to do as good a job with his complicated condition as I would when I left. I made sure that he transferred over to Seattle Grace along with a few other patients, and today, finally, we have a heart for him.
In twelve hours, he'll be whole again. I wish I could say the same for myself.
I'm slightly dazed and a little confused when I first arrive at the hospital, even though I should be pumped and focused and ready to give Jason his life back. Sipping from the coffee I stopped to get on the way in, I replay last night in my mind as I walk towards the locker rooms, just trying to make sense of it all. Callie and I were awkward last night, completely uncomfortable and unsure how to deal with each other. We never really talked about any of the things that we really need to, and I don't think that we really made any eye contact after leaving the dart board. Everything became this strange dance that I don't know any of the steps of. That is, until we left Joe's.
I'm not sure that against my car door was the best place for us to make out, but that's what we did for at least half an hour before I managed to drag myself away.
And if I insisted on driving her to her own car and we kissed for another ten minutes, our hands all over each other, before I remembered this surgery today and forced her to go home... well, how much further into Hell can I be headed anyway?
"So, Doc, how's this gonna go?"
Jason Duvall flashes his cheeky grin at me, and I can't help but smile in return. I offer his wife, Catherine, and their two young children a smile too, and turn back to Jason. "Dr. Yang and Dr. Grey are going to take you down for the final pre-op tests, then, when the heart gets here; we're up."
"This is really going to happen today?" I nod slightly, not missing the slight shake in Catherine's voice.
"The heart is on it's way, so, barring any complications, this is really happening today."
I send Yang and Grey to run Jason's last tests, watching carefully as two nurses help transfer him into a wheelchair, and the five of them leave the room.
I turn back to his wife, realizing that she looks small and exhausted. I know the feeling well.
"He's going to be okay?"
I wish I could promise that, but the best I can do is offer some reassurance. "There are risks with any surgery, but he's in good hands. If his pre-op tests come back clear," I pause for a moment, choosing my words carefully, "he's strong enough to handle the recovery. Are you okay?"
"I'll be better once this is all over."
I know that feeling, too.
After finishing the rest of my rounds, I head back to my office to go over Jason's chart one more time before surgery. When I get there, though, someone is sitting at my desk. Or, to be completely accurate, a very tempting Latina is sitting on my desk.
I close the door behind me, and she meets my questioning gaze with a teasing smirk. I swallow hard, my throat suddenly feeling dry, but the seductress routine is ruined when she tries to slide gracefully to her feet, but stumbles forward when her feet hit the ground. I catch her before she falls, and she clings to me as we steady ourselves, her face nuzzling my neck.
"Hi, Cal," I murmur, affection clear in my tone. I don't like how easy I am to read when Callie's involved, but I don't think there's anything I can do about it, so I may as well embrace it. I'm half-expecting her to let go of me, but her arms tighten and her lips brush my throat.
"Hey." I feel her smile against me, and I can't help the grin that spreads across my face. I'm glad she can't see it, because I know I look like an idiot. It's amazing how right it feels to touch her; how we fit together like two pieces of a whole. If my touch makes her feel half as much as hers does me, she's pretty damn content right now.
Long fingers gently sweep my hair behind my shoulder, and a shiver runs down my spine as they brush against my skin. Soft, barely-there kisses warm my throat, and I tilt my head, sliding my hands up and down her back as I pull her almost imperceptibly closer with each touch of her mouth. So slowly that it's almost painful, she worships my neck with lips and tongue, and I shudder in her arms as she tightens our embrace. My breath is coming in deep, ragged pants when she finally takes pity on me and brings our lips together in a searing kiss. I immediately part my lips and she takes the unspoken invitation without hesitation, letting our tongues stroke as I try to pull her even closer. I think I could live inside of her, and it would still never be close enough.
My plans for the day didn't include this, but I'm not complaining. Callie breaks the kiss, gasping for air, and I open my mouth to speak, but before any sound can escape me, our lips crash back together, and her tongue strokes against mine. I can't keep my hands still; trying to map her curves with my palms, desperate to memorize the feel of her against me. Between kisses, she murmurs "Oh my God" over and over again.
I can't say I disagree.
When we eventually do mange to put some space between our heated bodies, I glance down at the watch on my wrist and I'm stunned to see that forty five minutes have passed. I'm not sure I've spent this long just making out since high school, but it doesn't surprise me that I can do it with Callie. Callie brings back that uncontrollable rush of hormones I haven't felt since I was a teenager. With just a brush of her hand, I'm on fire. I just want to touch her all the time.
The beautiful woman whose hips my hands are still resting on is blushing slightly when our eyes meet again, and I can't help but lean forwards to let my lips play gently against hers. It's slow and tender and doesn't escalate, and I think this might even be better than the frantic passion that flows between us so easily. There's something so intimate and affirming about kissing this way.
I pull away with a slight whimper and she smiles at me, "I know, baby."
I believe her.
"I was just going to ask if you wanted to grab some coffee," she continues, a bashful look in her eyes.
"Is that a yes?"
"I'd go anywhere with you, Cal." The words slip out before I really notice, and I wasn't planning to say them, but I can't regret it as she lifts one hand and cups my cheek, her thumb running across my skin reverently. We just look at each other for a long time, and I can feel the blood pumping through every inch of my body.
Callie leans in, her hand tracing down my neck and arm before she laces out fingers and brings our lips together in a feather-light touch.
"Come on. You have surgery in an hour."
I don't know why, but the fact that she knows my schedule makes my heart sing.
We're laughing easily as we leave the cafeteria together, our steps in perfect time as Callie teases me about needing to be in control "all the damn time."
"I do not need to be in control all the time. Just... most of it."
"Whatever, Hahn. When was the last time you let someone else take control?" Until Callie, the answer is never, but if Callie thinks I'm steering us now, she's woefully mistaken. I'm barely keeping my head above water. I'm not in control at all, and if I'm supposed to be guiding us, then it's no wonder that we're careening out of control. Is that something I can tell her, or is this one of those times where embellishment would really be the better option?
I'm saved from having to come up with the answer when she takes my silence as acquiescence. She smirks at me as we reach the nurses' station, leaning in closer and whispering, "I think the take-charge attitude's all kinds of hot, Dr. Hahn." She punctuates her whisper with a quick brush of her tongue against my ear, and I smile back at her, even as I flush and try not to look around self-consciously.
I can't tear my eyes from her as she walks away, her hips swinging a little more than is necessary. My suspicion that she's trying to drive me insane is confirmed when she turns the corner, only to lean back around it and wink at me before disappearing from view completely.
Nope. Not in control at all.
Jason's pre-op tests were fine, perfect, even, so after a few more minutes reassuring Catherine that I will do everything in my power to bring her husband back to her whole and healthy, I corral Yang from whatever silly emotional rodeo she's helping the older Grey deal with. She looks unbelievably relieved when she sees me coming, and I don't even want to try and speculate as to what the Shepherd-Grey drama is this week.
In the brief moment that I have to wait for Yang, I glance around for Callie, hoping to see her one more time before I head into surgery. It may be the stupidest thing I've ever done. I want a rush of the same endorphins she gave me earlier... I don't get it.
What I get is the image of her leaning against the open door of an on-call room, smiling up at Mark as he leans slightly over her and tries to tempt her inside. He leans in to kiss her, and she lets him, her hands moving to rest on his waist... the exact same way mine rested on hers just an hour ago.
I feel nauseous, but I try to cover the painful tightness in my chest and the queasy feeling as I turn away. I don't need to watch her if she gives in.
Barking "Yang," I stalk towards the OR. This surgery had better go well, because personally, my life is a nightmare.
I can fool myself as much as I want, but, between Callie and I, nothing's changed.
I try not to pay any attention to who is, and isn't watching me operate. Callie told me she'd be here, but it doesn't matter if she is or not. I don't need her eyes on me to do my job, I do my job regardless of feeling. I don't have some superstitious idea that if she's not here, my patient will die. I'm too pragmatic and have too much experience to believe that. I'd like her to be there for one reason; if she's focused on me, she didn't cave in to Mark's urgings of "alone time" in the on-call room. Scrubbing in, opening him up... I'm semi-tempted to look up, but I don't want to know it if she's not there. I've adjusted to surgery with Callie intruding on some part of my mind, but I haven't adjusted to thinking about what she could be doing when she's not actually with me. It's ridiculous, I know I have no claim on her.
I tell myself that that's the last time I'll think about Callie, and I'm successful. I lose myself in the familiar but exhilarating routines of surgery, knowing my place better in an OR than I ever have outside of it. I'm not shy or reserved, but this is a place that feels like home to me. Since the first time I walked into an operating room, I've felt like this is where I belong. This is where everything that feels foreign to me disappears.
We're over halfway through the surgery when something makes me look up into the gallery. I immediately wish I hadn't.
Callie is watching; her eyes fixed unwaveringly on me... as Sloan whispers in her ear, one arm wrapped around her as his free hand traces patterns across her thighs. She's not responding, but every time I'm reminded of the truth behind the lie that all three of us are living, it drives me crazy.
From that moment on, I'm distracted. I can't concentrate on what I'm supposed to be doing because I'm too busy glancing up to see if she's still there. I'm not sure what I actually want to see each time that I look up to the gallery, hoping with equal measure that she's still watching me like I'm the most interesting person in the world, and that she's not so that I can stop looking up and checking if she's still there. It's why my attention isn't entirely there when I press down just a little too forcefully with the scalpel - and it's only Cristina's gasp that stops me from slicing straight through the artery. As it is, I've nicked it, and I barely even notice what Yang was gasping for until the blood starts gushing from the incision.
I stare down in shock, unable to believe that I just did something so stupid, and then I look back up to the gallery, where Callie has shaken Mark off and is on her feet, concern written clear across her face as I search my brain for the concentration to fix this. A part of my brain notes that, from the corner of my eye, I can see Yang glancing urgently between me and the patient, as though she's unsure what to do.
My brain is busy telling my hands what to do, but my body doesn't respond. I'm stunned into inaction at the sheer stupidity of what I've done. Jason is one of the few patients that I've ever let myself become attached to, and the fact that emotional involvement is never a good thing for a surgeon has been brought home to me in the cruelest possible way. My emotional involvement might be Callie Torres, but it's caused me to not only make the stupid error, but to freeze instead of correcting it. The OR is a flurry of action with no end product, everyone stopping short with me frozen because, here, my authority is absolute. My scalpel is poised, but I can't move.
I can't move.
Time seems to click past with alarming speed, and still I can't move.
Normally, I'd be able to deal with this. Things go wrong in surgery all the time. They may not normally be my fault, but things go wrong all the time. There's nothing I don't know how to deal with in surgery, except, apparently, my own stupidity. It feels like a long time that I stand there stricken, but maybe it's not. What I do know is that it's Yang who shakes me back to reality, her terse "Scalpel" pulling me from my own thoughts.
All I can do is move my hands out of the way as Yang steps in. I watch her for a second, noting somewhere in the back of my mind that her technique and command in surgery is impressive, especially for someone who's just barely earned her resident wings. Watching her start to fix the damage that I caused focuses me, and it's not long before the momentary panic subsides and I'm back in control. Stepping forwards, I catch Yang's eye and nod slightly. She steps back, and I start to function again, remembering everything that normally comes so naturally to me, and starting to feel like I'm back in my element again.
I lock my anger down, but I know it's going to reappear the moment I make sure that my elementary mistake doesn't cost my patient his life.
I rip my gloves off in disgust with myself as I stalk from the OR, throwing a terse "Close him up, Yang" over my shoulder. Apparently my wannabe is more useful in surgery than I am today, so I don't see why I should stick around at the stage where there's not really anything that can go wrong. I'm livid with myself.
And with Callie.
I let her under my skin, and I really should have removed myself from temptation when she was still someone I could love. When there was still a chance that she wouldn't hurt me.
It's beyond ridiculous that some of our most vital conversations have taken place in the scrub room, but that's where I am when Callie barges through the door. I can't look at her. She's ripping me to pieces with every second that I'm trying to figure out how to deal with what is so clearly there between us while she stays married to the Neanderthal of a husband, with every moment that she panders to his whims, with every time that I have to try and read her mind so I can have the slightest clue as to what's happening inside her head.
"Leave me alone." I've never meant those words more than I do now. Never.
"I don't understand." She honestly looks confused, and that's the most galling thing about this moment. I don't know how she doesn't see what she's doing to me. She doesn't really see me. She'll never really see me.
"I nearly lost a patient. I nearly killed him."
"Erica..." She looks like she wants to touch me, her hand moves towards me, but as I meet her gaze, she lets it drop to her side. "We all make mistakes-"
I see red.
"No, Callie! This is because of you. That man nearly died because of you." I know it's irrational and that all I really want is for her to wrap me in her arms and make everything okay, but I'm slowly starting to understand that that will never happen. At least. not really.
"I was nowhere near him!" She yells back at me and I think we're having our first fight. I'm suddenly devastated that it's not as a couple. However much I try to fool myself, the simple fact is that we aren't a couple. And I don't think we ever will be.
"But you're all over me." I expected to shout it, but it comes out as a whisper. I know she heard me though because the expression on her beautiful face changes. As much as I want to hate her right now, I can't. I'm in love with her and it kills me that she doesn't feel the same. I feel myself tearing up and I fight the tears. It's the truth, she's everywhere. I can't stop thinking about her, and because of that, Yang of all people had to step in and save my patient's life because seeing Callie near Mark breaks me.
I don't think I can do this anymore. I don't know what I'll do without her, but I'm realizing more and more every second that I don't actually have her, and this is slowly destroying me. I can't do my job properly, and without my work, I don't know who I am. I love her, and I think that, if she felt the same, I'd give it all up for her in a second , but I won't give up the one thing that's always sustained me for something that won't. This...this affair won't. I need her all the way or not at all.
"Erica..." Callie reaches towards me, and, for the first time ever... I step away. I see confusion and pain in her gaze. It almost breaks me, but then I remember the sympathy in Yang's eyes after the surgery I almost fucked up completely. I remember the trusting, scared faces of Jason Duvall's wife and children. I remember watching Callie kiss Sloan.
"I can't do this."
"This." I gesture between us. "Us. I can't... I just... I can't." I have to leave. I can't be here. I can't even find the words to tell her that we're over. I don't want us to be. I have to get out of here before I can't, because watching the truth wash over her face is killing me. This is killing me. I leave her to figure it out on her own, almost running from the room.
I don't know where I'm going, but eventually I find myself on the roof. It's becoming a pattern. I don't know how long I stand here before I feel someone standing behind me, and I'm reluctant to turn around, sure that it's Callie. I don't want to see her. I don't want to talk to her. Right now, I don't even want to know that she exists.
Eventually, though, the eyes on my back grow annoying, and I turn slowly to face her, knowing that my exhaustion and devastation is written all over my face, but not caring. I couldn't hide it, even if I wanted to, and I don't want to. I need her to see what she's doing to me. I need her to understand why I can't be her secret anymore. I can't be the mistress. If I'm with her, I need to be with her. I don't need it to be out loud, but I do need it to be exclusive. Just me and Callie. And she's never going to be willing to give me that.
The woman standing behind me isn't Callie, though.
Bailey stares at me, hands on hips. She might be an incredibly short person, but when she looks at people like this, it's intimidating enough that even I sometimes have the urge to run away. Whatever she wants from me now though, I can't give her. I've failed as a surgeon today, and I've been failing as a woman ever since Callie waltzed into my life. I'm not in the mood for a fight, and Bailey really doesn't like me, so I'm sure that's the only thing that's coming. Bailey keeps staring at me as I look down at the floor, showing her how defeated I am by today.
"Torres is sulking in the locker room and you're looking like you're about to jump. Someone needs to tell me what's going on."
I turn back to the railing, hoping that she'll go away. I should know better. I don't notice that she hasn't gone anywhere until she steps up beside me while I'm staring across the parking lot, not sure if I can even explain what's happening to myself.
"I like Torres, but she's nothing but a fool sometimes." Does she know? I try not to let anything show in my face, and I definitely don't turn to face her, but... does she know?
"What does that have to do with me?"
"You tell me."
"With all due respect, Bailey, I don't think this is any of your business." I'm running my fingers along cold metal as I talk, knowing full well that Miranda Bailey is not going to back down if she thinks there's something that needs to be said.
"Maybe not, but someone's gotta say something. The two of you... it's written all over you when you look at each other."
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"You and I both know that's a lie."
"Fine. Hypothetically... you and Torres have a little something going on. I don't know what it is, heck, maybe you don't even know what it is, but it's there." I'm pretty certain that this woman knows every detail of every conversation anyone has here. She's not interested in gossip either, but she sees everything. And I've always known that Callie and I are doing a really bad job of hiding our something. Our ex-something. There's no point in lying.
"Hypothetically... I know what it is. It's over."
"You don't believe that."
"I shouldn't have made you leave the OR." Deflection is one of my core responses when something hits too close to home. I know it, and that's why I'm so good at it.
"You don't believe that either. Do you love her?" But Bailey, apparently, sees through it like I'm clear as glass. Maybe I am, all of a sudden. Maybe Callie's made it so that everything I thought about myself is untrue.
I can't not answer. "I don't want to."
"Does she know that?"
"That I don't want to?"
"That you love her. People can't read minds. Especially not yours." The way I feel about Callie is apparently written all over my face. How could she not see it? Addison did. Bailey clearly does. I'm sure Callie isn't blind, and if they can see it, so can she. She's the only one that I want to be able to see it, so if she doesn't, she's a fool.
I shut down the hope before it has a chance to take root in my chest.
"She's with Sloan." I turn away again, this time heading towards the entrance to the hospital.
"Dr. Hahn?... Before you walk away from her, you make sure that's the right thing to do." It stops me in my tracks, and I turn back to her, realizing that the general surgeon doesn't know everything. She doesn't know that, to keep my sanity, walking away is the only thing I can do. Even that might be a lost cause at this point.
"You sure about that?"
I don't answer. I'm sure my face gives it away.
"There's not a doctor in this hospital who hasn't screwed up in surgery because of something in their personal life. Maybe that's not the way it should be, but... it's the way it is. Even you are only human. And no one died, which, for this hospital... let's just say it's a miracle." With that, Bailey walks past me and I turn on the spot to watch her stride purposely across the roof.
Something has to distract me from my thoughts.
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