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.

By DianeB


Part 9

Entering her hotel room, Erica went first to the television, tuning it to a music station playing light jazz and then to the small coffeemaker on the desk, where she started it brewing its one-cup serving. Then she went to stand by the window, gazing out again at the waterfront and the bright blue sky accented with brushstrokes of clouds. No air moved on Federal Hill; the big flag lay limp against its pole. People still strolled hand-in-hand along the brick promenade by the water.

Hugging herself, Erica inhaled the scent of bad coffee and exhaled it slowly out, trying to organize her thoughts. She turned from the window and dug in her pants pocket for the paper she'd doodled on. "Call Callie" stared up accusingly, reminding her of the awful way she had spoken to Callie during those last minutes in front of the hospital. But even now, the memory of how hurt she'd been by Callie's attitude and allegiance surfaced anew, evoking a shudder that had nothing to do with the room's temperature. It was a harsh disparity, one she was at a loss to reconcile. Even if she did call Callie, what could she say after all this time that could possibly serve as anything close to closure? It seemed ludicrous to try, easier to just put it behind her, but even as the thought formed, Veronica's words echoed through her mind:

…it sounds to me like she was pretty significant in your life. She outed you, fergodssake! That's not nothing, you know. If you're not going back to Seattle, she probably deserves a phone call…

Erica glanced at her watch, figuring the time difference, and thought Callie was probably working now, so she could leave a message. Then, if Callie wanted to talk, Callie would call her back.

She snorted derisively. Coward's way out. Again. Erica knew she should wait for a time when Callie would answer, but, unfortunately, now that she had it in her head, the notion to call would not turn her loose. Pulling out her cell phone and pressing the number still on speed dial, she began to compose in her head the message she would leave on Callie's voicemail. Callie, this is Erica. I know we…I…left things in a bad way, and I've waited too long to call. I shouldn't've walked away from you like that, and I wanted to apologize for my—


Erica stopped breathing. Callie was answering live. She was on the line, and Erica, unprepared, felt her stomach tighten up. "Callie?" She dropped heavily onto the bed.

A beat of hesitation, then, "Erica." Not a question.

"Callie." Perhaps they would play this game forever, but then Callie added more words.

"I really didn't expect to hear from you. Ever."

Erica heard the bitterness, which Erica figured she deserved. Before she lost her nerve and the sense that Callie would even stay on the line, Erica pushed on. "I'm sorry, Callie. It was wrong of me to walk away from you, but I was so mad and it hurt so much I couldn't think straight. I had every intention of talking to you the next day, when I had cooled down a little. But when the next day came, I was still angry. I knew most of the anger was directed more at the hospital and Richard than at you, but it was all so convoluted that I just fell back on an old tactic to protect myself: I let the hurt fuel the anger, and let the anger give me strength to storm righteously away from it all, even when I knew it was the exact wrong thing to do. I treated you terribly, I know, and there's no reason for you to even talk to me. But will you? Talk to me?"

Callie didn't hesitate this time. "Of course I'll talk to you. You called, and that counts for something. I-I suppose…I suppose I'm sorry, too."

Callie's apology, albeit back-handed, was something Erica never expected to hear, and she struggled to keep the relief from her voice, fearing it would sound to Callie like getting an apology out of her was the only reason Erica had called. "I appreciate that. All of that." Erica tried desperately to think of something to say that would give their conversation a place to go, but her mind was stunningly blank. Callie did it by asking a simple question.

"So…where are you?"

"Baltimore, Cal. Johns Hopkins. In fact, I just got a job today with the Heart & Vascular Institute."

"Johns Hopkins, huh? That makes perfect sense. Congratulations."

Much of the bitterness had faded from Callie's voice, and this gave Erica some hope that their tattered friendship could be restored. Releasing an uneven breath, she said, "Thanks. Callie, I'm sorry. I really am. I never gave you a chance to explain yourself. I acted just like the chrome-plated bitch I was reputed to be. I'm surprised I didn't hear Yang cheering from here when she learned I was gone."

Callie actually chuckled at that. "Yeah, well, she kinda did. Then the Chief hired this very weird cardio doc with Asperger's, but she didn't last long, and he's still looking for someone." Callie sighed and spoke with the wisdom only the passage of time could afford. "It's okay, you know. I mean, it wasn't pretty, we both said things we shouldn't have, but we both survived, didn't we?"

"I guess. More or less."

"Don't say that. It hurt for a while, but we did survive. I've been thinking about it. Maybe it was meant to happen the way it did. You know, to give us perspective for the next time."

"Next time?"

"Yeah. I-I met someone. A woman." A small breath of silence, and then, "Izzie has cancer."

The hotel room tilted sideways, but the doctor in Erica quickly asserted itself and the room righted. "Oh, no, Cal. Tell me."

And thus began the conversation that would start Callie and Erica on the road back to the friendship that had once defined them. Callie told Erica about how the staff had come to learn Izzie's diagnosis and how the cancer was connected to Izzie's strange behavior. It may have also played a role in Izzie's actions three years ago on behalf of Denny, but that wasn't as easy to determine.

"Jesus, Callie. And now of course I really feel like a bitch about what I threatened to do. Great, just great."

"No, Erica, no. Don't do that to yourself. You didn't know. None of us knew, except George suspected, and he tried to tell us something was really wrong with Iz, but none of us listened. And besides, your patient was your priority; you were only trying to do the right thing for him. I totally get that now. And you didn't report Izzie to UNOS, did you?"


"And your patient, what was his name? How's he?"

"Michael, Michael Norris. He's still at Mercy West, waiting for another heart. But I left him in good hands, and it's only a matter of time till he gets his transplant."

"There, then, you see? It's all good."

"Uh huh. Define good."

"Listen, Izzie resisted treatment at first, driving Cristina crazy because Cristina was the only one Izzie told about the cancer – don't ask me why she picked Cristina – but once Yang spilled the beans, Izzie was actually relieved that everyone knew, and now she's ready to fight. The cancer's spread to her brain, and Derek's going to operate, but, God, don't get me started on him, just be glad he's doing it." Callie paused a beat. "Um…you heard me, before, when I said I met someone?"

Erica hesitated, wondering if she should tell Callie she'd also met someone. She must've been silent for too long, because Callie piped up. "Erica, you still there?"

"Yes, I'm still here. You met someone. A woman." Again the words left her lips before her brain even engaged the possibility. "I met someone, too."

Callie snickered softly. "We're a pair, then, aren't we? You first. What's her name and where'd you meet her? Er, assuming it's a her."

"Yes, it's a her. Her name's Veronica Taylor, and I met her in the airport bar in St. Louis. I think she picked me up."

Callie started laughing that full, throaty laughter that had first attracted Erica to her. "Okay, I'da paid money to see that. Veronica, huh? You don't hear that name much anymore."

"She goes by Ronnie, and she lives here in Baltimore. She's wild, and I've never met anyone like her. She's got dark red hair and green eyes and, well, she's a lesbian, and let's just say the word closet is not in her vocabulary. What about you? What's her name and where did you meet her?"

"Arizona Robbins, and she's a pediatric surgeon here. And she's a lesbian, too. She's, um, blonde and blue-eyed and she kissed me in the ladies' room at Joe's, and please don't say you detect a pattern." Erica chuckled as Callie went on to explain about how it had taken her making a fool of herself in front of Arizona several times before she figured out she didn't need to try so hard. Arizona had, in fact, asked her out to dinner – in an elevator, no less, and yes, Callie admitted, maybe there was a pattern. Callie said she'd accepted, but their schedules had yet to coincide enough to provide opportunity to actually go.

"Arizona? Wow, you don't hear that name much at all. I'm happy for you, Callie. I hope dinner goes well. Just promise me you won't start talking about 'safe words' or going south of any 'lines,' okay?" Callie snorted in amusement, and as she did, Erica came full circle. "You know, Callie, maybe you're right."

"I am? No, I am. About what?"

Erica snickered. "That maybe what happened between us was meant to give us perspective for the next time. I mean, we're both having 'next times' and it's different. Better."

"Yeah, I guess. But when you put it like that, it sounds too easy, doesn't it? Like maybe we didn't suffer enough before being granted 'next times.'"

"Maybe. But that's what happened, right?"

"Well, yes, I—oh, whoa! My pager just went off. I've gotta go."

Erica understood. "Go. But promise to keep in touch, will you?"

"Only if you'll do the same."

"I promise." Veronica's voice sounded in her head – she was pretty significant in your life – and Erica spoke quickly, afraid Callie would hang up before she could say what had suddenly become very important for her to say. "Callie, I'll never forget what you did for me."

"What was that? Piss you off?"

Erica smiled into the phone, but was not deterred. "No. As Ronnie put it, you 'outed' me. She said it was 'not nothing,' and she was right. I'm glad you answered, Callie, glad I didn't have to leave a message that you might not have returned. You understand?"

"Yeah, I do…"

Callie's heartfelt sigh strengthened Erica's hope that maybe they could, indeed, be friends again. "Good. I know you gotta go. Keep me posted about Izzie, would you?"

"I will. I'll talk to you again soon, I promise. And hey…just so you know, I'm glad I answered, too." Another sigh. "Bye."

"Bye." The connection closed, but Erica sat for a full minute with the phone to her ear, wondering how it was that a person could feel so wonderful and so terrible all at the same time. She was a doctor, she should know. But she wasn't fooling anyone, least of all herself. She did know. Matters of the heart never gave anyone an even break.

She finally closed the phone, only to have it ring again in her hand. She knew it would be Veronica. Smiling, Erica re-opened the phone, inhaling deeply the scent of coffee that didn't smell so bad anymore.

Part 10

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