The dim hallways lent an eerie feeling to the large area that was the surgical floor at Seattle Grace. Dr. Callie Torres was walking down the hall, the sound of her boots hitting the hard floor clashed with the beeps and whirs that rang throughout the space. Her eyes shifted upward toward the large analog clock on the wall as she turned a corner, noting that she had three more hours until the end of her shift. Hopefully no emergencies would come in. She could never be sure that an orthopedic surgeon would not be needed in Seattle even at 3am. Anything requiring surgery that came in now would most undoubtedly mean she would get home late, which would also mean less time spent with her six-year- old daughter Allie.
She headed purposely to the resident's lounge smiling when she saw two other residents already there. Alex Karev was eating his lunch or dinner at the table. Callie wasn't sure what meal it was technically since it was the middle of the night. Christina Yang lounged on the battered brown couch that lay at the far end of the room away from the table and microwave. Callie could hear the incessant thumping of bass that leaked out from Karev's ear buds. She sat down with a smile, wondering when or if he would notice her presence. Karev was a loner like her, having never actually established a real connection with any of the residents in his class. She knew he was harboring a huge crush on Izzie Stephens, but he seemed content to do absolutely nothing about it. He bickered and bantered with the others, but he had no friends among them and seemed to not want any.
He looked up, acknowledged her with his eyes and returned to his microwave dinner. Callie picked up the newspaper that had been left on the table, taking a few moments to read headlines before beginning to fill in the blank spaces on the unfinished crossword puzzle.
The other resident in the room, Christina Yang, was reading a medical journal, her small thin body casually draped over the couch. Callie thought about how little Christina had changed. For awhile there she was unrecognizable, walking the halls in a zombie like state as if nothing mattered, nothing could touch her, not caring about her career, surgeries, anyone or anything. She seemed much better these days as if her failed relationship with the previous head of the cardio-thoracic department was behind her now. She was back to normal or as normal as Christina could get. She was back to the highly competitive, bad-ass, obsessive about surgery Christina. It really scared Callie to see Christina in that dark and twisty place, as Yang's best buddy, Meredith Grey had called it. Christina hadn't cried or shouted or even attempted to break anything after having been left at the altar. She had been silent when it first happened, walking the halls like a drone not caring if she performed surgeries or not. She had gone as far as spending entire shifts charting during that time. It was eerie and disturbed Callie who liked the honest, obnoxious and confident Yang when she first met her. Callie had offered Christina a place to stay after her fiasco of a relationship with Preston Burke crashed and burned, so they became sort of friends. She only stayed with Callie for a few months. Christina was not a loner, but she definitely needed her own space. Even the relatively chaos free Torres household that consisted of Callie and Allie had been too much for her after awhile.
It was a disaster from the beginning, Yang and Burke, and that it had indeed imploded did not come as a surprise to Callie. Sadly, she wasn't that surprised that Preston Burke abandoned Seattle Grace after only two years either. The rumor mill had been busy spewing stories about Burke for the entire two years he was there. The most persistent rumor being that his real purpose for coming to Seattle Grace had nothing to do with improving the cardio-thoracic department and everything to do with the Chief of Surgery position. The cardio-thoracic department was Seattle Grace's only weak spot, lagging behind other hospitals' cardio-thoracic programs and in no position to break into the national rankings. Ultimately it affected the entire program's national ranking and as a result the hospital's teaching program was barely remaining in the top twenty.
Preston Burke had been hired to change that. He had a stellar reputation and the hope was that he would attract interesting patients and talented residents that could help build it up. But apparently Burke never really wanted the task. No, he wanted the Chief of Surgery position instead and when the current Chief of Surgery, Richard Webber, withdrew his resignation, Burke left as well, effectively abandoning the program and his department. He left the hospital, told Christina he couldn't marry her and just disappeared. Christina had taken the defection well or so everyone thought until Burke re- emerged a few weeks later, writing a scathing article about teaching programs that singled out Seattle Grace as a cesspool of inappropriate behavior, especially among its residents. The article caused a stir for awhile, but everyone knew Burke had been bitter and his allegations unsubstantiated. The article died a quick death and things returned to normal, except that Christina started to act like a zombie. But things seemed to have settled down now. Christina was back to her old self, they still had a shitty cardio-thoracic department and life went on.
Karev finished his meal, depositing the tray in the trash. He removed his headphones and asked the women, "Do you think anything will come in?"
"Don't know," answered Christina. "It's pretty late or early depending on your point of view. Highly doubt it though."
Christina was clearly bored. She was crazy about medicine and especially surgery and didn't like going too long without cutting someone up. It was like a drug for her. She even got twitchy if she went too long without performing a surgery, almost as if she was going through withdrawal.
"Well listen," Karev's voice broke into Callie's thoughts. "I'm gonna go do some charting."
"Right. Don't worry you'll get paged if anything comes in," said Callie her focus still on filling in the final blanks in the crossword.
She knew Karev just wanted to go somewhere private, listen to his music or maybe even sleep. Third shift was a bitch. Karev left the room, earbuds back securely on his ears.
Callie turned to Christina, "Any attendings here tonight?"
"Are you kidding me? Of course not. You know the drill - page them if you need them. Hey you're off tomorrow night, right?"
"Well a friend of mine is performing at Rumors. You still owe me a dinner, so I thought if you wanted, I could collect on that dinner and then we could go and check out the show. You in?"
Callie's eyes shifted as she considered it. "Maybe. No offense Christina, but why do you want me along? Meredith dump you or something? We don't exactly run in the same crowd. I'm usually more into running around with six-year old's to soccer games."
"Callie you need to get out more. I thought it would be fun and besides, I need to talk to you about some work stuff outside of this place, stuff that I can't talk to Meredith about. Come on, Torres, you owe me. You can bail on me if going to Rumors is a bit much for you. I know women your age need your beauty rest."
Christina smiled at her.
Callie gave her a look that was equal parts outrage and defiance. "I'm game, I'll just have to make a call to Nell." She stopped. "Wait a minute, Rumors is a gay bar right? Christina, is that what you want to tell me?"
"No!" shouted Christina. "I need to talk to about some work related stuff. My friend just happens to be performing there. She's gay, not me, but if it makes you uncomfortable, I understand, although with your checkered past - you know resident with a fatherless child and all - I didn't think I'd find anything that made you uncomfortable."
"You won't and no it doesn't. I just thought maybe there was something else not work related that you needed to tell me. Let me check with Nell and see if she can take Allie tomorrow night."
"What is it you want to talk to me about anyway?" she asked putting down the crossword.
"I'm thinking of trying to transfer. This hospital was one of my choices because Burke was here, but he's not here anymore and no offense but the cardiothoracic program here sucks. That's going to be my specialty and I need to learn from someone kick ass. Burke left and there is no one kick ass here."
"Where would you go and how likely is that?"
"Well, I would love to go to Presbyterian General in Bentley. That department kicks our ass. It was my second choice originally. They have a kick ass cardio program. The rest of their surgical programs suck, so they don't rank as high, but their cardio department makes up for it - for me anyway. The lottery being what it is Meredith and I ended up here. I thought it was great when Burke was here, but now, I'd like to see if I could go to Bentley."
"It's something I'm thinking about," said Christina turning back to her article.
"Okay, well I'll let you know tomorrow. If Nell can't stay with Allie, just come over and we can talk and have dinner at my house anyway. If she can, I'll go out to Rumors with you."
Callie went back to the puzzle contemplating what Christina had told her. She would miss her if she left. Bentley was only an hour away, but with their schedules, she knew they would never see each other. It made her sad. She didn't have a lot of friends at Seattle Grace. There weren't a lot of women in Ortho and trying to raise a child alone while doing a highly intense and competitive residency left little time for socializing. Christina had been an easy friend to make precisely because she made absolutely no demands. Callie looked at the clock again; two and half hours to go until she could go home and see Allie off to school.
The bar was a bar and Callie silently cursed herself for agreeing to this. She'd had enough of stuffy, dingy, dark and smoky during her days as a bartender trying to get through undergrad without having to ask her father for spending money, but she had agreed to go and she suspected that perhaps Christina needed her there as a buffer. Despite her bravado and the fact that she was going to see her friend, Callie suspected that Christina needed someone with her, someone who was not interested in her in that way.
Callie made her way to the front of the bar with some pushing and elbowing. To say that the bar was crowded was a serious understatement. You'd think this was the only lesbian bar in Seattle. She ordered four beers in anticipation. She doubted Christina would be able to find them a table and she didn't want to make another trip through the mayhem, so she got extra.
She put some bills on the bar, expertly grabbed her beers by their necks, holding them over her head as she plowed her way out of the mayhem, eyes peeled for Christina. She saw skinny arms waving frantically and made her way to them. It was a tiny table, but it was a table. She set the bottles down and sat on a rickety chair.
"How did you manage a table?" she shouted as she handed a beer to Christina.
"I told you I got an invite. This was reserved for us. The nice bouncer lady told me."
Callie looked at her skeptically. "Okay, whatever," she said turning to look at the throngs of women. She had been to gay bars before, but had never seen one quite so crowded. Christina was gulping down her beer, eyes nervously shifting from woman to woman. Callie laughed. Her suspicions now confirmed. She had been invited to tag along with Christina because Christina was nervous about coming here alone, no matter how cool she said she was with her friend's lesbian status.
"Nervous?" she teased.
"Um...no. No way. Not nervous," answered Christina quickly. "So what's the name of your friend's band?" asked Callie.
"Um...I don't really know. I didn't even know she was in a band. Actually I'm not sure she's really in the band. She just said she was playing here."
"She's your good friend and you don't even know the name of the band? We are sitting at some special tiny, reserved table and you don't know if she's even in the band?"
Christina rolled her eyes. "Can it Torres. I haven't spoken to her in like a year or so. We've exchanged a few emails and voice mails, but we never connected live. Anyway, she said she wanted to talk. She said nothing about the band, just that she was going to be playing here. I was curious and you needed a night out."
"Yeah, thanks for that," said Callie sarcastically. "No chance of scoring for me here."
"Whatever, Ms. Mom. At least it's something. You don't even come out to Joe's anymore. I know the thing with George ended badly, but you need to get back out there, Callie."
"No I don't," she answered Christina. "I only need me and my daughter. That's it."
Callie was looking toward the tiny stage where a few people were milling about fiddling with instruments.
"Callie," Christina started, "your only companion can't be a six year old girl. For one thing, she'll grow up."
Callie ignored her, still watching the growing number of people on the stage. They were dressed in black and in the dark dingy space it was hard to make out anything but shapes. Except for the tall blond whose white shirt and blonde hair stood out like a beacon. She had been hanging back, but as the number of people on stage increased the blonde seemed to become fidgety. The chaos amplified as the number of people and instruments on stage rose. People were bumping into each other until the blonde came to the forefront. She started directing people here and there, sometimes physically moving individuals until the space looked less crowded and more ordered. Callie smiled. You had to love that take charge attitude. She vaguely heard Christina going on about the surgeries she had performed today.
Right at this very moment the subject bored Callie. She continued watching the intriguing blonde commanding the stage, finding the process kind of fascinating. She liked surgery, loved it actually. She was after all a surgeon, but with her crazy hospital schedule and raising a small child, sometimes she didn't want to think about surgery when she was not in the hospital, so she changed the subject.
"How'd you and your friend meet? And what's her name by the way?"
"Erica Hahn. You know, the Erica Hahn, cardiothoracic genius presently residing at and running the Cardio department at Presbyterian General in Bentley. You know the department that kicks our cardiothoracic department's ass on a regular basis?"
"Where you want to transfer to? That's not my field, but I think I've heard the name before."
"Yeah, you have. Dr. Webber is always bitching about the huge mistake he made in not hiring her when she applied for an attending position."
"Where did you two meet and how is someone like that your friend?" asked Callie.
"She was a lecturer when I was at Berkley. She was doing her residency there and would come lecture the pre-med and med school students. You would like her. She's wicked smart and loved making med students cry. She probably still does. She would come in and give a lecture and then put everyone through these drills where she would just fire question after question at you. She would practically cut you in half if she found you lacking."
"She ever cut you?" asked Callie trying to concentrate on Christina, but finding her gaze returning to the stage periodically.
"Hell yeah! It was like a badge of honor to get cut down by her. It was cool as hell."
"How did you become friends? She sounds like a real pill."
"The usual. I just squirmed and ingratiated myself until she talked to me. She was kick ass, so I had to get to know her. She said I was annoying, but I didn't care. She eventually talked to me. She has never stopped telling me how annoying I am though and how she only talks to me because she has no choice, but here I am." She raised her beer in mock salute.
"That is not a friendship," stated Callie.
"Whatever. She gave me advice when I was applying to med schools and helped me rank residency programs to the best advantage. She's the reason Meredith and I both ended up at Seattle Grace. Doesn't that make her a friend?"
"Do you have normal friendships?" asked Callie.
"Well, yeah, you and Meredith."
"That is so not normal. So why did she ask you to come? Is it going to be a problem, me being here?" Callie asked, intrigued.
She glanced back at the stage where the blonde had donned a very cool looking guitar. Christina followed her gaze this time, eyes widening.
"Holy crap! That's Erica."
Callie blinked. "That's your friend, the famous Dr. Erica Hahn?"
"Hell yeah! Oh my God, I had no idea!"
"What?" asked Callie feeling a moment, small really, but a moment of excitement nonetheless that she would get to meet the blonde she had been watching tonight.
"Just that...well...damn that girl can work a scalpel and a guitar? I want to be her."
Callie laughed. "Can she really play?" she asked Christina raising her voice to be heard above the din of the crowd.
"Don't know," answered Christina tilting her beer slightly towards Erica and pausing. "Never heard her."
Christina leaned closer as the band started warming up.
"I think she's up there in the genius pool, so I can only imagine that yes she can probably play too. I doubt she would get up on stage to make a fool of herself."
Christina's speech was interrupted by the loud blare of music that accompanied a petite blonde with short hair onto the stage.
"Good evening my fellow bar-hoppers. Thanks for coming out. I assure you that I am NOT and I mean NOT here to waste time, so let's get to it. We have a number of acts tonight, but let's start by welcoming back one of our favorites back my popular demand, please welcome onto the stage Water Under the Bridge."
Wild applause erupted in the small enclosed space. Christina and Callie looked at each other with surprised looks.
"I guess they've been here before," Christina said to Callie smiling as she focused on the stage and the lights illuminating the band.
Even through the smoke Callie could distinguish Christina's friend, her long lanky form, gliding on the stage with strong confidence. Christina turned her head and caught Callie's reaction. Callie's mouth was slightly open, her eyes wide, and even in the dark space, her face appeared flush. Christina frowned. If she didn't know better she would think Callie might be smitten. But she did know better and so put the thought firmly out of her mind.
Callie was mesmerized. Her eyes were riveted on one very tall, very sexy doctor, playing rock star for a night, strumming an electric guitar with everything she had. Somehow the lights and the smoke and the guitar were affecting Callie in unexpected ways. Even from a distance she could see the power and the um…sexuality that was fairly oozing off of the guitar player. Wow was her only coherent thought. She shook her head slightly willing herself to focus her thoughts more clearly, more to her liking and away from the tall blonde haired woman casually strumming a guitar, eyes intensely focused on the task at hand. Dr. Hahn looked up from the guitar and made eye contact with a few patrons briefly, gracing them with a shy smile. For a moment Callie wished that one of those smiles was directed at her and then laughed at the thought. Get a grip Callie.
Thirty minutes later, Callie was in the ladies room jostling with a horde of women for space in front of the mirror over the sinks. She called up the part of her personality that allowed her to survive four years as a bartender at one of the roughest bars on campus, as well as a tough residency in an area dominated by men and let the crowd behind her disappear and fade into the background. With fierce glances and set shoulders she staked out her personal space and concentrated on the face looking back at her in the mirror. She was flushed, from the heat she guessed and probably too much beer. That was it. It wasn't sexy Erica Hahn that was making her feel all flustered. It was the situation.
She had excused herself immediately after Erica and the band left the stage. There were still a few more acts to get through, but Callie needed to regroup before Erica joined them at the table as she most assuredly would. After all, Christina was her guest, a friend; she had been especially invited. Of course Erica would come say hello and Callie had to mentally, and from the looks of it, physically pull herself together. She pondered her reaction to the excellent performance she had just experienced trying to find reasons that had nothing to do with the guitar player for the increased beating of her heart, and the barely discernable pink flush that had taken up permanent residence on her dark face.
She recognized the sensual feeling that was permeating her entire body during the performance, but explained it away quickly. Just haven't had any in awhile that's all and she's tall. I've always liked them tall. Of course that wouldn't explain George, but she didn't like to think about that colossal mistake. Besides when she said she liked them tall, she usually meant of the male variety with accessories that Erica could not possess. Alright Callie, pull it together here, it's just attraction, it happens. So she's a girl. She's a really hot girl. You can appreciate a really hot girl. Get over it. It doesn't mean a thing.
With that final thought she turned away from the mirror reasoning that it was dark and no one would notice if she looked completely turned on. She found her way back to the table to find Erica Hahn, all nearly six sexy feet of her plopped down in Callie's seat speaking animatedly to Christina.