DISCLAIMER: Watch out, this is femslash (lite). Don't read it if you're not into this sort of thing. I own nothing of Grey's Anatomy. I'm only having fun with the characters I'm fast becoming obsessed with.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is a story about Erica Hahn finding another "pair of glasses" after the events of the S5 episode, "Rise Up." This chapter was written in late February, 2009. Thanks to Jules68 for her honest and objective opinions. See Chapter 1 for original Author's Notes and Disclaimer. "Odd accents" and overuse of the word "hon" are strictly Baltimorean.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
"Here's to great new jobs, attentive office assistants, and talking to exes!" Veronica held her wineglass high. Erica raised hers to meet it, and their glasses clinked together. No messy crabs tonight. Tonight it was a tiny, dimly-lit restaurant in Little Italy, with homemade antipasti, ravioli, cannoli, and other rich foods ending in "i." "I'm glad you called Callie, but I gotta confess I still want to slap her."
Erica, getting used to Veronica's "in-your-face" manner, said, "I'll give you that, but sooner or later, you're going to have to let it go. Callie and I had a brief but fulfilling talk, and I came to learn a few things." Erica had decided she would keep the information about Izzie's cancer for another time, since all Veronica knew was that she and Callie had had a "big disagreement about hospital business."
"You know," Erica continued, "this is going to sound crazy, but if I had stayed, I think it might have been worse between us, messier and more painful. The passage of time made things less volatile, which does make a certain amount of sense. Callie suggested that everything worked out the way it did for a reason, and I think maybe I agree. She told me she met someone. A woman."
Veronica dropped her wrist, her wineglass dangling precariously from her fingers, disbelief evident on her face. "Okay, some of that sounds like bullshit, but if you're okay with it, then so am I. But I'll tell ya, I'd've never figured Callie for queer, not from the things you told me, and, hell, maybe she still isn't. You didn't get into that with her, did you?
"No. Didn't seem necessary."
"So she met herself another girl, did she? Did you tell her you met another girl, too?"
Considering the amount of teasing she'd had to endure in the short time she'd known Veronica, it perched in Erica's mind to answer in the negative, but then she dismissed it as being too evil. "Of course."
"Oh really?" Veronica winked, wineglass still dangling. "Who'd ya meet?"
Realizing she should have gone with her original impulse, Erica went with it now. "Some redheaded wench who tried to pick me up in a bar."
Veronica scoffed, setting her glass on the table with a muffled thump. "Tried to?"
Erica felt her face go warm and was glad for the restaurant's low lighting. Matching wits with Veronica Taylor wasn't going to be easy, but Erica knew she'd get it with enough practice.
"But enough about me, Doc, let's talk about you and Johns Hopkins Medicine. Hired you on the spot, did they? Well, I guess you weren't lying when you said you were a top-notch cardiothoracic surgeon."
Practice was one thing, but refusing a gift was just plain silly. "I believe the phrase I used was first-rate," Erica said, pointing her fork at Veronica for emphasis, "so please get it right next time." She speared her last ravioli.
"Yes, ma'am, first-rate Doctor Hahn. But for real? I knew you'd get the job because I Googled you last night when I got home."
So much for wits-matching; Erica's fork rattled to her plate. "You what!?"
"Oh, don't get your panties in a wad. I Googled you, and it appears you're quite something in the field of cardiothoracic surgery. I'm very impressed. No wonder the suits at Hopkins didn't hesitate. They're lucky to have you. And who'm I kidding? I'm lucky to have you! Salute!" Veronica raised her glass and they clinked again, this time nearly cracking the rims. "Oops!" Veronica said, stealing a guilty look around, "no sense letting our joy destroy the expensive stemwear. Drink up, hon! First-rate surgeon or not, we've got places to be."
Erica took another small sip, put the glass down, and looked into Veronica's sparkling green eyes. "Listen, about that "
"Oh no you don't! No backing out. We discussed this, remember? C'mon, there's totally nothing to be afraid of. They're just a bunch of women, is all."
Erica lowered her eyes, transferred her linen napkin from her lap to the table, and began fiddling with its hemmed edge. "No, they're just a bunch of lesbian women, which is not is all to me, okay?"
Veronica yielded the point. "Okay. I get that you're nervous, but I can't believe a big old first-rate surgeon like you would want to cancel on me. Really, like I told you, we need your no-nonsense attitude. We do. We tend to get going on other things, forget why we're there, and it ends up taking forever. So you have to come with me, if for no other reason than to keep us on-task."
Erica huffed and rolled her eyes, picking up her wine again and swirling the remaining liquid around in the bottom of the glass. "Yeah, like they're going to listen to someone they just met telling them what to do."
Veronica gave her a "what-are-you nuts?" look. "You're joking, right? With your stunning good looks and that Suzanne Pleshette voice of yours? Hell, they'll be falling all over themselves to listen to you." Veronica laughed and downed the last of her wine. "C'mon, let's get moving! We can get cannoli to go."
Never having worked for a non-profit organization, Erica had nothing to compare the experience to. Labeling, sorting, and bundling postcards in accordance with a set of regulations complicated enough to confound Einstein, Erica found herself caught up in the sheer effort of it and never had time to be nervous about the women surrounding her.
In fact, it appeared as though many of the women were, indeed, falling all over themselves to listen to her. It occurred to Erica that if they had been men, their behavior would have been off-color, rude, and Erica would have dismissed them out of hand. But these women were nothing like that. They were polite, friendly and funny, and in their company Erica felt flattered and, well, sexy. One glance across the room to Veronica confirmed the redhead knew exactly how she was feeling. Erica smiled and raised a postcard at being caught out.
"One drink, I swear. Then I'll take you back to your hotel, I promise. And you know I keep my promises. C'mon, Doc, don't make me beg. I like you to beg, not me."
The group had finished assembling the mailing in record time, and to celebrate they were heading to the bar, encouraging Erica and Veronica to come along. Accompanying Veronica to the GLBT Community Center to help with a mailing was one thing. Accompanying her to a lesbian bar was something else entirely. "What if someone, uh, hits on me?"
"I'd be worried if someone didn't, Doc. But listen, it's Tuesday night, definitely not a big girls' night out, so don't worry. I bet it'll only be the bunch of us plus maybe a few of the regulars. Okay, the regulars might scare you, but they're harmless, trust me. Just stick with us, which I don't think's gonna be a problem, and you'll be fine. One beer and we're gone."
"I'm not crazy about beer, Ronnie."
"Boy, aren't you the queen of hair-splitting tonight? Wine, then. I'm buying. How can you refuse?" Veronica batted her eyes.
Under such persuasive conditions, Erica's resistance broke.
The bar, named Pineapples for the owner's favorite fruit, was relatively small, but still large enough to house a postage-stamp-sized wooden dance floor with a DJ next to it, fully visible in a small glass booth. To Erica's eyes, the DJ was terribly young and terribly thin, dressed entirely in black, right down to her nails and lips, but she was playing music from a couple of decades back. Judging by the overall age of the patrons, Erica included, the playlist was very much appreciated.
The volume, just this side of eardrum-shredding, ruined any hope of normal conversation. Feeling isolated by the sound, Erica jumped when she felt Veronica's lips at her ear. "So, Doc, it's a little loud, but otherwise not too bad, right? Empty, just like I said, except for us and the old butches at the bar, and like I said, they're harmless. Friendly, even."
Erica leaned back so her lips were alongside Veronica's ear, "No, it's not too bad. Just don't leave me, okay?" They continued to play the lean-and-yell game.
"What if you leave me?"
"No chance of that."
"You want that wine now?"
"That'd be great."
In the interim, the music changed to something slow from the eighties that Erica vaguely recognized, and was thankfully being played at a few less decibels. Women began to couple up, heading to the miniature dance floor. Erica looked around for Veronica, suddenly fearful, and was thankful to see her approaching.
"Doc," she said, handing Erica the glass and snickering, "you look like a deer in the headlights. Relax already!"
Erica took a small sip, watching the women dancing, grateful for something to do. So focused on trying to appear comfortable, like she came to lesbian bars every night, Erica nearly dropped the glass when she felt Veronica's warm breath at her ear again, even though the music's volume didn't require it of her. "Shall we dance?" Without waiting for an answer, Veronica removed the glass from Erica's hand and walked her the two steps to the dance floor. Turning Erica into her arms, Veronica settled against her like she'd been doing it all her life. "There now, isn't this nice?"
Erica had to agree it was nice. "Yes, but who leads?"
"Neither of us, silly. Just move with the music, okay? Er, wait." Veronica leaned back, one eyebrow raised in mock concern. "Unless this is your way of telling me you have no sense of rhythm?"
"Oh, don't worry," Erica said, "I've got rhythm." To prove it, she began sliding her hips against Veronica in perfect time with the music, laughing when Veronica started humming the famous Cole Porter tune, singing lyrics only enough to change "I got my man" to "I got my girl," and finishing with "Who could ask for anything more?"
Secure and comfortable in Veronica's arms, and feeling happier in her own skin than she could ever remember feeling, Erica braved another test of her lesbianism. Slowly and deliberately, she ran the tip of her tongue lightly along the inside edge of Veronica's ear, intensely surprised when this produced not only a moan from Veronica, but a tingle of arousal in herself.
Veronica drew back and studied Erica intently, her emerald eyes black in the bar's darkness.
Erica couldn't stand the dark stare for very long. "What? Do I have spinach between my teeth?"
Veronica ignored Erica's question. Her voice in the lower register, she asked, "Remember what I said about the lesbians falling into bed a little too quickly, starting a relationship in the middle instead of the beginning?"
Erica smiled, instantly getting the new signal, feeling the tingle kick up a notch. "I do remember you saying that, yes."
Veronica brought Erica tightly against her, one hand tracing patterns on Erica's back. They continued to sway to the music. "Okay," Veronica breathed over Erica's shoulder. "And how I said sometimes it doesn't work out, but sometimes it does?"
"I remember that, too." Recalling how one-sided their lovemaking had been the night before, and emboldened by the passion and potential of the moment, Erica insinuated her thigh between Veronica's legs, at first shocked and then pleased when Veronica returned pressure. The tingle bloomed into wetness that Erica knew was soaking the (thankfully absorbent cotton) crotch of her panties.
Blatantly riding Erica's thigh, right there in front of God and everybody, Veronica nuzzled Erica's neck and whispered, "May I ask you a very important question?
"A-And the questions so far have been unimportant?" This wits-matching thing, Erica thought, her arousal beginning to affect her coherency, isn't not so
"How do you feel about Wedgewood?"
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