Addison Montgomery was perplexed. She had been excited about her one day trip to Seattle Grace, had weirdly relished the opportunity to return to the quirky hospital where her marriage had come to a final harrowing end. Oddly, that had not ruined Seattle for her. She had been comfortable at Seattle Grace. Los Angeles was good and she was enjoying her time there, but she still felt out of place, as if everything was not clicking for her yet. But everything seemed so different at Seattle Grace. She came back at the request of the Chief of Surgery. He had yet to find a replacement for her. She didn't think he had been looking very hard, holding out hope that he could convince her to return. She was sure that was part of the reason he had asked her to come. The other reason of course was to actually perform a surgery. It was a good plan she had to admit, to bring her back, and remind her that she had genuinely liked being here. She knew it would be difficult to avoid getting caught up in this place again, which is why she had limited her trip to one day. He had one day to do the impossible: convince her to come back.
For the most part, she was happy to be back and had spent her free time observing her old colleagues, their comings and goings, their dramas and interactions. She had expected to ease back into the familiarity of the hospital easily. Instead she found herself more and more confused as the day progressed. Leaving Seattle Grace had been tough, but she knew she had made the right decision in leaving. There was nothing for her here anymore. She had failed to win back her husband, Sloan was never really an option, and frankly there was no one there worth staying for. She regretted having to leave Callie, but had felt the need to move on, to move forward and leave her past behind. Seattle Grace had been her last ditch effort to get some of her past back, but the endeavor just caused too much heartache - for herself, Derek and even Meredith who she had tried to hate, but found much to her annoyance she could not.
Callie had been the brightest spot of Addison's time at Grace. The fifth year resident was unlike any of the other residents. She was mature, seasoned by the struggles she had experienced as a single mom, but had not lost her youthful charm. She was still fun and funny. She was brilliant without being snobby about it and she was a great person to talk to. But even Callie had changed on her. Not in a bad way. In fact in a very good way, but she had definitely changed.
Callie seemed more relaxed and carefree than when Addison had seen here last. When Addison first met Callie, the resident seemed to feed off of stress. It had amazed her how much Callie went out of her way to create more stress for herself, but Addison figured that she probably craved it. She hired a not entirely reliable nanny for Allie, which caused her worry over childcare. She had opted to be a surgeon which by anyone's standards was a tougher and more competitive area than general medicine.
She was enrolled in one of the tougher programs which again, did not make Callie's life any easier. No, Callie seemed to like to make her life just a little more complicated than it needed to be. But now she seemed to have eased into her role as one of the top residents at the hospital. She had seen Bailey and Callie battle it out for that top spot back and forth and in the end, amazingly, they both won as Webber finally recognized that they had different strengths, both of which were an asset to the program. Bailey was a manager at heart and he needed to utilize her in that capacity. Callie was a surgeon through and through. She could be developed into a leader and manager, but she was a surgeon first and she was a great teacher. She didn't know what Webber's plans were for Callie, but he had some. She had seen the gleam in his eyes when she asked if he knew whether Callie would apply for an attending position when her residency finished.
But the most perplexing development was her friendship with Erica Hahn. Callie had been all bubbly excitement that Addison meet her new friend and Erica did not disappoint. Erica was as impressive in person as she was on paper. She was nice too, which had surprised her, since Erica's reputation for being not nice had reached beyond the walls of Presbyterian. She had watched the two of them together and wondered if Erica was the source of Callie's good mood and more relaxed demeanor.
She turned onto Callie's street eager to begin her night. Seeing Allie would be good for her and Callie had mentioned that Erica would probably be joining them for dinner, so she would get to see more of their interactions.
She was bombarded as soon as the door opened. Allie jumped into her arms instantly for a long hug.
"Oh my God, you look so big. You've grown so much." She hugged her tightly before walking with her into the living room. "I've missed you so much. There's no one in L.A. to draw me pictures."
"I can draw you pictures while you're here. Me and Lucas can draw. We can draw houses and some animals."
She turned to Callie who gave her a quick kiss on the cheek.
"Hey, dinner will be about 45 minutes," said Callie her hand going automatically to the head of the small child that had attached himself to her and was looking up at Addison.
"Lucas, this is my friend Addison. You can call her Addison or Dr. Montgomery." His head swiveled up at Callie and then back to Addison.
"Do not call me Dr. Montgomery. I get that all day," said Addison.
"What does Allie call you?" he asked backing into Callie's legs and almost between them.
Addison looked at Allie. "Allie calls me Addy, so you can call me Addy too."
"Addison, this is Lucas, Erica's son," Callie finished the introductions.
"Hello Lucas. Is it okay if I call you Lucas?"
He nodded, but still did not move from between Callie's legs.
"She's nice," said Allie pushing against Addison. Addison got the non-verbal clue and set her down. "What do you want us to draw, Addy?" she asked going over to stand next to Lucas who finally emerged from Callie's legs.
"Whatever you guys want. Houses, animals, something beautiful I can look at it in Los Angeles."
"Let's draw a cat, Lucas."
"Okay," he said as they both made their way to the living room and the little table that was already covered in paper and crayons.
"That'll keep them busy for awhile. Erica should be home in a bit," said Callie leading the way to the kitchen.
Addison raised an eyebrow. There it was again, that reference to home as if it was something they shared.
"Where is Erica's house?" she asked.
"Just across the street," answered Callie. "It is the most amazing thing that could have happened to us to have them living across the street. Childcare has become one hundred percent more manageable and convenient. Erica is probably the only doctor that actually schedules her work and for the most part can stick to it. She has pretty regular hours, except when she gets paged, which thankfully has only happened twice while she's had the kids."
"So what, do you share a nanny, babysitting duties?"
"Yeah," said Callie absently stirring pots. "Nell takes care of both kids, usually here, when we're at work, but I no longer have to pay for overnight care, which was killing me. Erica is home most nights, so the kids just stay with her. Allie has her own room at Erica's and everything, so it's not awkward."
The kids? Not Allie stays with her, but the kids stay with her? Addison was becoming more intrigued by the minute.
"Really?" she asked.
"Yeah, Erica drops them off at school every morning. We usually just have breakfast over there. It's the only meal Erica can handle. I pick them up from school if I'm available. Nell does it when we're both at the hospital. I take care of dinner if I'm home. If not, Erica takes care of it, although I usually make sure there are leftovers, otherwise they'd eat chicken nuggets or Chinese take-out for dinner every night."
"That is quite the arrangement. So what happens when you're both available at night? Where do the kids sleep then?"
Callie made a face. "They just sleep at their own houses. What kind of question is that?"
"Sorry it just seems that the four of you spend an awful lot of time together at each other's houses."
"Well yeah, but it works. They're never that far away from home and they aren't with strangers."
"No, I think it's great, it's just an interesting arrangement. I've never seen anything like it." She paused. "What about dating? Does one of you agree to watch the kids for hot dates?"
Callie laughed. "Who has the time?" There was another pause in the conversation.
"It hasn't come up, actually. I'm sure we'll deal with it when it does. So what did you think of her? Pretty awesome, right?"
"Yes, she is very nice, completely competent, and very professional. A little on the harsh side in her dealings with people, but she was friendly to me."
"She seems harsh on the outside, but once you get to know her, she's a very loving person."
"Yes, she's warm and funny and just cool. Didn't you like her?" Callie sounded worried.
"Yes, I did, I did. She certainly handles that little boys club better than anyone I've seen."
"Oh yeah," said Callie turning her attention back to their dinner.
"Lucas is a cute kid," said Addison. She found the wine glasses and the wine and poured herself a glass.
"Are you kidding? He's adorable. He's so funny and really smart. I think he must get that from Erica's side of the family."
"How do they get along? Allie and Lucas I mean."
"God, like brother and sister. They fight sometimes but 5 minutes later they're crying for each other again. He looks out for her at school. She told me he shoved some kid who was bothering her."
"Aw that's cute. But maybe he, you know, likes her, not like a sister." Addison was testing a theory.
Callie made a face. "They're six and seven. I don't think so. Besides, she told me that he told that kid he shoved to stay away from his sister."
Callie was putzing around the kitchen, seeming distracted, so Addison tried another line of questioning, one she had been very curious about as the hours passed at Seattle Grace and she saw more and more of Callie and Erica's exchanges.
"How about you and Erica. You ever fight?"
Callie frowned at her. "No, not really. I have to remind her that she shouldn't let the kids create so much chaos every now and again, but other than that, no. You should see her house. She just lets them go nuts. Her only rule is that they are responsible for their stuff. She won't help them find anything. And she's serious. Lucas pitched a fit a few weeks ago because he lost his baseball cap. Whined about it for days. He finally found it under the couch. He's being a lot more careful since, so I guess there's something to the method. But it would drive me nuts for them to act like that here. They could do whatever they want in their rooms, but out here they have to pick up. I think that's why they like it better over there."
"Does Lucas have a room here too?"
"Kind of, this place isn't big as Erica's so the study kind of doubles as his room when he's here. That's where you'll be sleeping, by the way."
Callie continued to talk meandering from topic to topic, mostly about the hospital, occasionally she was sidelined by stories of Lucas and Allie. Erica seemed to be the only constant. She got mentioned in every story in some capacity.
Addison meanwhile was working out an idea. She had an inkling of what was going on here. All the references to home she heard from Callie, which seemed to mean either Callie's house or Erica's. It was no longer Allie this, or Allie that, it was the kids. The familiarity, the casual touching that Addison had noticed. Callie didn't do that with anyone else, including Addison. She had seen the looks they gave each other, the way Callie's eyes lit up when she talked about Erica.
The idea first occurred to her as she saw them walk away from her this morning at the hospital. She had been talking to Erica, enjoying her talk with her when Callie had walked up. She was flashing a smile that Addison wasn't sure she'd seen before. She bumped Erica playfully, their eyes lingering a little, and their bodies leaning into each other as they shared some inside joke. Despite being very glad to see Addison, Callie did not hesitate to join Erica when Erica invited her to wherever she was going. And finally Callie's arm hooking itself to Erica's shoulder as they walked down the hall still laughing caused Addison to ponder the nature of their relationship.
Now she had an idea of what was going on. She was happy for Callie. It was a little surprising. Callie had not shown inclinations like that before, at least none that Addison knew about, but they seemed happy. She poured another glass of wine and was about to comment on the relationship when she heard a commotion coming from the living room.
"Don't climb over the furniture," yelled Callie as she walked to the wide doorway which offered a good view of the open room that served as the living room and dining room. Addison turned in time to see Lucas take the shortest route to the door by climbing over the couch.
"Sorry Aunt Cal," he said landing on the other side. The door opened seconds before he could reach it.
"You're going to have to be faster than that to beat me to the door kiddo."
"I was so close," he said jumping into Erica's arms.
Addison got up, wanting a front row seat to this little scene. She wanted to see exactly how this interesting family greeted each other. She watched Lucas get tossed in the air and kissed. She saw Erica turn him upside down and dump him playfully on the couch before swooping up Allie and repeating her actions. Both kids were on the couch laughing by the time Callie greeted Erica with a light peck on the cheek.
"Hey Addison beat you."
"Great," she said looking around and finding Addison observing them, wine glass in hand.
Addison lifted the glass in greeting and saw Erica wave. Then they were talking in soft whispers. She could tell there was nothing wrong. Erica's face was not worried or concerned, just a little serious. Callie seemed surprised by whatever Erica said to her. Erica must have realized it because she reached for Callie, rubbing her arm to ease whatever worry had cropped up. Callie stepped closer to her, lowering her voice even further and now she did look concerned. A few more words were exchanged and Callie was smiling. Erica returned the smile before starting to remove her jacket. If Addison wasn't mistaken this could prove to be an interesting night.
Erica waved at Addison before turning to Callie.
"Listen, you probably want to have a night on your own with Addison. I'll just grab Lucas. I'll take Allie too if you want to have a girlfriend's night or something. I can even pick her up later if the three of you want to have dinner first instead."
Callie frowned. "No. I um...I thought we'd all have dinner. Do you not want to stay?"
Erica took a breath. "Don't be silly," she said rubbing Callie's arm. "Of course I do, but I'll understand if you just want to spend some time with Addison."
Callie stepped closer causing the hand rubbing her arm to settle on her waist instead.
"I do, but that doesn't mean I want you to leave. Can't I have you both?" she said smiling. Erica smiled right back.
"I guess you can," she answered starting to remove her jacket.
Callie helped her by tossing it on top of the kids still lying on the couch, limbs and bodies every which way having a discussion about whether worms turned into snakes. She started walking back to the kitchen.
"Allie, Lucas, wash your hands. It's almost dinner time," she said as she passed them. Lucas's head popped up.
"But I washed them when I went to the bathroom," he whined.
"Did you not hear her?" said Erica lifting him off the couch by both hands. "Up. Go. Bathroom. Hands."
Allie took off shouting "race you!"
Lucas went running after shouting "cheater, cheater," as he went.
Erica shook her head and walked toward the kitchen. Addison was still watching her.
"Do you want a couple of kids? I can sell them cheap," she asked playfully.
"Yes, I would gladly take those two off your hands. They're adorable," said Addison.
They both walked into the kitchen, Erica heading automatically for the sink to wash her own hands.
"You'll change your mind when we make you clean up the bathroom when they're done."
Addison could hear the sound of running water mixed with yells and laughter in the distance. "Maybe," she said taking another sip of her drink.
She watched and listened, raising an eyebrow when Callie hooked her fingers into Erica's pants and pulled her closer.
"Taste this," she said holding a large spoon up to Erica's mouth. Their eyes met and did that lingering thing again before Erica tasted.
"Wow! That's fantastic Callie."
"Thank you," said Callie batting her eyes.
They were cute together. She was just about to ask how long they'd been together when she felt a rush of air on her legs. Two small people barreled through the kitchen. Lucas slammed into Callie's legs while Allie crashed into Erica.
"I won," they both shouted.
"Hey, guys, no running in the kitchen," said Erica, who Addison was sure was trying to sound stern, but it was devoid of all the cold harshness she had seen Erica unload on interns, residents, and attendings alike at the hospital.
"Sorry," grumbled Lucas and Allie.
"Come on, Addison's going to help you set the table," she said getting out dishes.
"Oh okay, I can do that," said Addison surprised but putting down her drink and taking the dishes from Erica. She walked out with two kids dragging their feet behind her.
Erica looked at Callie stirring the marinara sauce she had made. She crossed her arms at her chest and once again wished things were different. They had stopped the outright teasing, but the distance thing had never really stuck and Erica found that while she hadn't seen Callie in that sexy nightgown since the slumber party, the new closeness they seemed to be establishing was making her crazier than the wild fantasies of kissing Callie up against a wall. Being like this with Callie was not really good for her. It made her want things. Like this very moment she wanted to walk up to Callie from behind, wrap her arms around that beautiful body and put her lips on Callie's neck. She wanted Callie to lean back into her exposing her neck and reach up to bring Erica's head closer.
She felt a pair of hands on her stomach, pulling her out of her fantasy. Callie had always done that, settling her hands on Erica's midsection, holding her in place.
"You okay?" she heard Callie say.
"Yeah," she answered bringing a hand to her temple and rubbing. "Sorry, I think I just wandered for a bit."
"Well wherever you went, it must have been intense," said Callie seeking Erica's eyes.
Callie liked doing that a lot too and try as she might, once those eyes found hers, Erica was held transfixed, cemented where she stood, unable to turn away. It was getting harder to hide the sexual energy that was dancing just inside Erica's eyes, hard to hide her physical reaction to Callie and Callie's closeness. Part of her didn't want to hide it, longed to just let loose the passion she felt, but she held back. They had talked about this. It had been decided. They were friends, nothing more. If there was even a remote chance, Callie would have acted on it already. After all, she knew Erica was attracted to her. Erica had told her that. No, Callie was only a friend.
But today, right now, Callie was in her space, touching her, looking at her with those deep feeling brown eyes and Erica was staring back trying to think of something to say; something that would make Callie back off, remove herself and her hands and eyes and put them elsewhere. It had to be something light, something funny, something that would make her back off, but not recoil. Erica could not stand the idea of Callie recoiling from her.
"Probably just tired, sorry."
That did not achieve the desired result. Instead Callie moved closer and put a hand to Erica's forehead. Erica closed her eyes involuntarily.
"Maybe you're getting sick," said Callie.
"I never get sick," she said cursing herself for enjoying Callie's touch, the movement, the closeness all of it, no matter how innocent it was, she enjoyed it like Marianne enjoyed Shakespeare's sonnets being read by Willoughby.
"No fever," said Callie removing her hand, but not herself.
Erica opened her eyes. This close it was hard to not focus on Callie's lips. Erica licked her own lips and knew she was in trouble the moment her eyes flicked upwards from those lips to Callie's eyes. She knew Callie had been watching her, knew she had revealed too much in those few seconds. She expected Callie to push her away or at the very least step back, be disappointed that Erica could not seem to control her most base reactions. But Callie just stared right back, almost daring her to act, to move forward, to lean her head just a little closer. And it was working because somehow they were closer and Erica was looking for signs of panic, disgust, fear, anything that would halt her forward motion. She was afraid to swallow, afraid this was one of her fantasies again, but the breath she felt on her face was not her own. Unbelievably they continued moving at a snail's pace toward each other.
"Addy says we need more forks," said Allie bouncing into the kitchen.
That did it. They separated like pins in a bowling alley. Callie turned to her daughter almost spinning on the spot.
"What do you need?" she asked clearing her throat.
"Forks for big people," answered Allie.
Erica walked out of the kitchen and headed for the bathroom. She smiled weakly at Addison who gave her a questioning look.
"Headache," she offered by way of explanation.
She entered the bathroom, closed the door quickly behind her and leaned against it. After a few seconds, she walked over to the sink and splashed her face with cold water wanting to drive back the flush in her face. She had almost kissed Callie. She leaned back against the door. She had lied about the headache, but felt one developing, the pain inching its way to the forefront. She had to face Callie in a few minutes and that certainly would accelerate the pain. She went to the medicine cabinet and pulled out Advil. She would try to head it off, at least dull the pain for awhile. She popped two pills and swallowed. She needed to go back out there and she did not want to. She took a few deep breaths, tried to get her face under control and walked out.