A Simple Love Story

Chapter 17

Callie was sitting on her couch trying to read. She started out with an old AMA journal she had been meaning to check out. Finding that not distracting enough, she picked up a David Sedaris book Christina had recommended last Christmas, but she wasn't in the right mood for David Sedaris, so she moved on to her People magazine. Allie had been good all morning. She had been grumpy when Callie picked her up from Erica's at a ridiculously early hour, but she was tired enough that she had fallen directly to sleep again once they got home.

She asked when they were walking over to Erica's for breakfast and when breakfast came and went, she began to ask when Erica and Lucas were coming over. She stopped asking about an hour ago. Either she was satisfied with Callie's response or she was sick of hearing the same short answer from Callie: No, not today. They weren't going to see Lucas and Erica today.

Allie was currently playing with Lego's in the living room. They were probably Lucas's Lego's, but the kids had mixed their toys so much, it was hard to tell. Allie usually made buildings, experimenting with how high she could get a structure before it collapsed, but this morning she was trying her hand at some sort of humanoid thing that looked a little like the robotic creations Lucas usually tried to build.

Callie looked up from her magazine and toward her living room windows, trying not to think of what was going on across the street. To say Erica had been surprised when Callie showed up this morning after her shift stuttering about being tired and wanting some time to just think everything over was an understatement. Callie tried not to look at her as she stumbled through words in her attempt at an explanation, but it was hard not to see the shock and confusion in Erica's eyes. The silence was worse than any anger she might have been expecting.

Erica did not say anything as Callie rushed through her words, telling her she was just going to get Allie and go home. She thought she might have said something about calling Erica later before darting up the stairs. She packed up some of Allie's stuff hurriedly and then just picked her up, pajamas and all, and made her way down the stairs. Erica was still standing in the same spot. She had been standing in the space between the front door and the stairs leading to the second floor when Callie had come in and was rooted to the same spot, her hands still in her pockets, looking perplexed and unsure when Callie departed.

George's words had rattled Callie, but he had a point. There were things at stake. She couldn't just go into this thing with Erica blindly. There were risks with every relationship, but being ostracized because of who you were involved with was not something she had dealt with before. Friends and family were one thing, but having the State interfere with her life because of her relationship was not something she was willing to risk. David was unstable and manipulative and not above using her relationships to try and get money out of her or generally make her life hell. She couldn't risk that. Besides, she wasn't gay, so really why risk everything on something she wasn't really sure about anyway?

She knew she liked Erica, really liked her, but what if it was just the situation that was making her have all of these feelings? Maybe this pseudo family they had created was making her see the two of them as a couple. It was not about them, it was about roles. It was nice and comfortable to have someone to share things with and she and Erica seemed to be sharing everything lately.

Of course that didn't explain why she had really liked kissing her. It didn't explain her body's reaction to just being near Erica. It didn't explain the pure unadulterated desire she felt Saturday night on Erica's couch. Tossing the magazine aside, she reached for the phone. She needed to talk this out with someone.

She dialed a number by heart.

"Are you calling Aunt Erica and Lucas?" asked Allie excitedly. "Are they coming over?"

"No sweetie. I'm calling your Uncle Diego. You wanna say hi?"

That seemed to distract Allie. She jumped to her feet. "Yeah," she said as she sat next to Callie on the couch. Callie waited to hear her brother's voice.

"Hey Sis! What's up?"

"Hey, your niece wants to say hi. I'm putting her on the phone."

She handed the phone to Allie who grabbed it awkwardly with one hand, struggling with it for a bit before putting it to her ear.

"Uncle Diego?" she asked tentatively.

Callie let them chat for a minute before telling Allie to say good bye and taking the phone from her. "She misses you, you know," said Callie into the phone.

"I miss her too. You could move to D.C. then you'd be closer."

"You could move to Seattle."

It was an old joke between them.

"So what's going on?" he asked.

"I need to talk to you, but you need to keep this to yourself. I hate it when my stuff gets on the family grapevine."

"Okay," he responded.

"I'm serious, Diego. Do not share this with anyone, especially Dad. I don't need that right now."

"Right, cause we're on speaking terms now? Come on Callie. Cut the drama and just talk."

"I met someone." She paused, waiting for his reaction.

"Okay"

She waited for more.

"Callie? You still there?"

"Yeah, I was just... Don't you have anything else to say?"

"What do you want me to say? It's great? I don't know if it's great. The last time you told me you met someone it was that creep George and that wasn't so great, so you'll have to give me more than I met someone."

She sighed. "Okay...It's a...I mean she's a girl."

"You met a girl? I don't understand..."

Callie counted to 15 before she heard him again. "Oh...um...You met someone as in you met a girl."

"Yeah"

"Do you mean you met a new friend or do you mean I met someone as in a romantic someone and it's a girl?"

"The second thing."

"Really? Must be some girl. Wow! Okay, cool!"

"Cool? That's all you have to say?"

"Hey, I said she must be some girl."

"That's it?"

"Callie, seriously, I'm not sure what you want from me."

"Yeah, I'm not sure myself. Hold on a sec Diego. Allie?" she said raising her voice.

Allie was heading for the stairs with her Lego creations.

"I'm getting more Legos," Allie responded.

"Okay, sweetie," said Callie as she watched her climb the stairs.

Callie returned to Diego and his lack of a response. She had forgotten how difficult it was to have conversations like this with boys.

"You aren't freaked out?" she asked.

"Why would I be freaked out? I like girls too. Is she hot?"

"Yes"

"Wicked cool."

"Shut up."

"Okay, so what's this hot chick like? Hold up...is her name Erica?"

"How did you..."

"Your kid was just talking to me about Aunt Erica this and Lucas that. I was wondering who they were. So who is this Lucas person?"

"He's Erica's son. He's seven. They live across the street. We share a nanny."

"Naughty," he said.

She rolled her eyes.

"I'm not gay," she blurted out wanting to get the conversation back to what she needed to talk to him about.

"Um...doesn't the whole liking a girl thing make you a little gay?"

"No."

"Callie I think liking girls when you're a girl makes you kinda gay."

"I don't like girls. I just like one girl."

"Okay," he said slowly. "So you like this one girl. What about her? Does she just like one girl or is she gay?"

"She's gay. We work together at the hospital. She lives across the street, we share a nanny and it seems a couple of kids."

"What the...run that by me again."

She told him all about it, how they spent all their free time together, how it was easy and comfortable and just nice, how happy Erica made her.

"We spend a lot of time together. We help each other out with everything and have just kind of been making this kind of life together that's…nice." Her voice went soft.

"So, what's the problem exactly?"

"I told you, I'm not gay!"

"We're going in circles here, Cal. Either you want to be involved with her or not. Which is it?"

"I don't know. Yesterday I would have said yes, but..."

"So what's different about today?"

"Today... Well let's see there is the whole, I'm not gay thing."

"Wasn't that true yesterday too?"

"Yes, but yesterday I was distracted by the hot sex."

"Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! TMI, big sister, TMI. You had sex?"

"Yeah, really good hot sex."

"La, La, La La. I'm not listening!"

"You asked," she countered.

"My bad. So what's with the obsession with being gay or not being gay?"

"Well it pretty much freaks me out because… what kind of a future can I possibly hope to have with someone of the same sex when I'm not gay? It's bound to end, right?"

"Callie," he said softly, but with a hint of disbelief in his voice as if he was questioning her reasoning.

"Then there's the whole, what if David finds out and sues me for custody again. Up until now I haven't really given him anything he could use against me, but if I do this, he could come after Allie."

Diego laughed. "You're kidding right? The guy is a drug dealer! They never nailed him on the drug charges, but that's just a matter of time. He has convictions on his record for other things. He's been in and out of rehabs, which frankly I've been trying to get those idiots in Boston to investigate. I think he uses the places to make connections and sell more drugs. Plus, you live in Washington Callie! No judge is going to take Allie away from you because you're involved with a woman, unless she's nuts or something. She's not, right?"

"She's one of the top cardio-thoracic surgeons in the world, so that would be a big no. But what about Allie? I'm not sure how Allie would feel about all of this. She loves Erica and Lucas, but she doesn't understand adult relationships yet. I mean how will this affect her? Ugh! I hate this!"

"Frankly, I don't see the problem, sis."

"I just handed you a list of problems!"

"No, you just listed all the reasons why you don't want to be involved with her, which to me says that you don't really want to be with her. When I like someone, really like them, it's hard for me to come up with reasons why we can't be together. In fact, I end up ignoring all the reasons we shouldn't be together. You did the same thing with George, remember?"

"But...I...we kissed and we, you know and…. I liked it."

"Well, maybe you're just desperate. Have you been dating?"

"What's that got to do with anything?"

"I don't know, maybe you're just… I don't know, she's there and gay and you like her and maybe she's just convenient."

"She is not just convenient."

"Are you sure? Think about it. You spend all this time with someone who you like - forget the romantic part for a second - it sounds like you like her as a person. You guys spend all this time together and she's gay and hot and available. Maybe you're just channeling some energy her way because she's the person you spend so much time with and she's receptive. Like I said, you didn't call me to tell me I met this person and these are all the reasons I want to be with her. You called and gave me a list of reasons you couldn't be with her. Maybe that should tell you something."

Callie was silent. She was hearing him, but she wasn't listening or rather she didn't want to listen. He wasn't saying what she wanted to hear. She didn't want to hear that what she was feeling for Erica was merely desperation. Erica wasn't just convenient; she could never be just convenient. It didn't feel like that. Mark had been convenient. She knew what that felt like.

"Callie?"

"Yeah I'm here."

"I'm sorry sis. I get the feeling that's not what you wanted to hear, but for what it's worth, it's not fair to her for you to pursue this because it's convenient or easy. If you're her friend, don't lead her on if you're not ready to be in a relationship with her. You should figure out what you really want before you decide to move forward with this."

"I know. Don't worry I've put the brakes on it. Thanks. I'll um talk to you later."

"You okay?"

"No, but I'll figure it out."

"Cal...look, I don't know anything about her or what kind of relationship the two of you have. Maybe I'm wrong about all of this."

I think I might be in love with her.

"It wouldn't be the first time," she said trying to sound playful and push away the one thought that was complicating everything, but kept popping into her head. She wasn't successful.

"Just forget everything I said..." he said trying to backtrack.

"No, I heard you." She got up to look out the window seeing movement across the street. Erica was out there with her bicycle. Callie stood watching her as she talked.

"You're right Diego. I have to figure this out before I or we get involved in anything. It's not just me and her. We have to think about Allie and Lucas too."

Callie watched Erica toss her bike in the back of her new SUV almost carelessly. She had recently purchased it trading in her Mercedes for what she had called a more Mom friendly vehicle.

"I'll talk to you later, okay?"

"Seriously sis, don't listen to anything I've said. What do I know? I mean if you like her, you should go for it. You have kind of taken some pretty big steps in that direction already."

Erica disappeared momentarily but returned with a smaller bike Callie recognized as Lucas's. She tossed that in the back with a little more care.

I love her, but it's complicated.

"Don't worry about it, Diego. You've given me something to think about."

"Cal?"

"I'll be fine, Diego. Thanks."

She hung up still watching the scene outside. Allie had gone up to her room, which was good because she would have pitched a fit seeing Lucas and Erica with their bikes. Lucas was out on the driveway now, holding his jacket, a backpack on his small little shoulders. He was walking to the edge of the driveway, so close to the street that Callie almost sprinted for the door wanting to stop him. But he turned around before he got there, apparently Erica had been watching him too. He ran back to Erica jumping up and down in front of her and pointing across the street. Erica knelt down removing the backpack and putting his jacket on. Her lips were moving and given what she had just seen, Callie guessed Erica was doing her best to explain why Allie would not be coming wherever they were going. She would have been attempting to make the same explanations to Allie had she been here.

Finally she watched Erica buckle Lucas in, get in the driver's side and pull out of the driveway. Her heart felt heavy. The conversation with Diego had turned her stomach. She needed to figure this thing out. If nothing else, she needed to give Erica some sort of explanation as to what had happened between Saturday night and Sunday morning.


The drop off that night was very, very awkward. Callie started to worry early in the evening that Erica was pissed enough at her that she wouldn't come back from Bentley in time to take Allie. Somewhere in her day, she had decided that she was being overly dramatic. She should have just spoken to Erica this morning and explained things. Erica would have understood and they could have had their normal Sunday. Instead she chickened out, given Erica some lame excuse and run away.

She had resolved to call Erica, invite her and Lucas for dinner and talk this thing out, but before she could get up the courage to dial the number, the hospital called and asked her to come in. By the time her shaky hands punched the familiar numbers to Erica's cell she knew a dinner invitation would sound lame since it would appear to Erica that she had an ulterior motive. Being called in for an extra overnight shift had ruined everything.

The conversation with Erica was difficult. She knew Erica wanted to talk about what had happened, but Callie didn't want to do it on the phone, so she deflected. And then Erica began apologizing and Callie wanted to cry. She didn't want to hear an apology, didn't want to hear Erica express regret for something they both wanted yesterday. But her worse fear was that Erica would tell her they needed to pull back entirely, that they needed to end the friendship. She didn't want to hear that, not yet, not ever, so she hurriedly asked Erica if she could take Allie tonight, effectively ending any discussion of what happened this morning.

She made a quick dinner for her and Allie who had been unusually quiet the whole day. They both seemed to move through the day in silence. By the time they finished their dinner, Erica's car finally appeared in the driveway across the street and it was time to walk over. Allie seemed surprised she was going to get to go over, and suddenly she was noisy again running around grabbing things she wanted to bring over and wondering out loud what Erica and Lucas had done all day. She packed a ridiculous amount of things in her small backpack, including the Lego sculptures she had worked on throughout the day. Callie gathered her own things and together they left the house and made their way across the street.


She knocked instead of using her key half afraid Erica would demand she give the key back if she used it. She stood nervously waiting longer than usual for the door to be opened, which had her wondering if Erica would actually answer the door at all. She didn't. It was Lucas who opened the door jumping into her arms as soon as he saw her and kissing her before squirming out of her arms again, pulling Allie with him, and dragging her somewhere upstairs. Erica was nowhere to be seen.

Callie walked in unsure of what kind of reception she was going to get. She closed the door behind her, set Allie's backpack down and listened. Except for the movement upstairs, the house seemed quiet. She walked past the living room and dining room and into the kitchen. No Erica. She walked to the study, stopping to make sure the bathroom was empty as well. No Erica.

There was no other place for her to hide, so she went to the stairs and looked up. Obviously Erica did not want to see her, but Callie needed to make sure she was here. Suddenly Erica was there at the top of the stairs looking down, but not directly at Callie.

"You're going to be late if you don't get going," said Erica.

Her hands were in her pockets. She looked the same as she had that morning when Callie left her, minus the perplexed look which had been replaced with a more guarded one.

"I just wanted to make sure you were here," said Callie. She cursed herself as soon as she heard the words play in her head.

"Right, because I'm in the habit of leaving Lucas here alone," said Erica before turning and walking away.

"Erica, I didn't mean..." but the rest of the words she intended to say died before she could get the complete sentence out.

She was staring at the empty place where Erica had been, wanting to go after her. She couldn't. She had to get to work and even if she could follow her, she really didn't know what she would say once she was face to face with her; so she forced herself to step away and walked out the door.


Erica went to check on the kids, hoping Callie would take the hint and leave. They were playing happily and even though they had school tomorrow, since they hadn't seen each other all day, she resolved to let them stay up just a little past their bedtime. They were in Lucas's room playing with Lego's.

"Hey guys? You get an hour and then bedtime, okay?"

"Okay Mom," said Lucas not looking up from his Lego's.

She left the door open and walked downstairs fairly certain now that Callie had left. She sat at her computer and logged onto the hospital server, working on files and articles and trying to distract herself from the disaster with Callie. It was slow going. The distractions were not complicated enough to thwart her mind's desire to think and obsess about what had happened. Finally, a little before the hour she logged off and went upstairs.

It was hard getting them to bed. They hadn't wanted to go and fought her every step of the way. Finally she relented and let them both sleep in Lucas's room. He still had bunk beds, a suggestion Danielle had made when she was trying to get custody; bunk beds seemed to please social workers.

She was now on the couch drinking coffee with no distractions. She hated to think about it, felt like she didn't have enough information, but she needed to figure out how she was going to act. This was not your normal "break-up". It probably wasn't even a break-up. A few kisses, some heated make-out sessions, and quick amateur sex on the couch over two days (or was it just one) did not make for a romantic relationship, but nevertheless they had crossed a line that Callie obviously wanted to take back, and so Erica needed to figure out how she was going to act now.

Unfortunately, instead of thinking about how she should act, her mind kept coming back to the question that had plagued her all day: What the hell happened? She thought Callie was okay with everything. She thought everything that had happened was mutual. Sure she was a little out of control in the bedroom that first night when her thinking was foggy, but she stopped as soon as Callie asked her to slow down. Callie had asked her not to stop on the couch.

Come on Hahn, you know exactly what happened. She tried it, satisfied her curiosity, and decided she didn't like it. That or she's freaked about you telling her you love her.

She wanted to hang on to that second one. If it was that, there was still hope, but part of her was afraid that it was more than that, that Callie's fears weren't just about how fast Erica was moving by telling her she loved her. She was afraid Callie had indeed not liked it and was having second thoughts about the whole girl on girl thing. And that meant something totally different. She felt a headache coming on.

Great.

She closed her eyes and thought about seeing Callie that morning. She had been such an idiot, waiting for her by the door like some expectant obsessive lover. She was standing there, hands in her pockets, wanting to kiss her and looking for that smile Callie had been giving her the day before, that smile that said everything was okay, that Callie was exactly where she wanted to be. She didn't get the smile.

She got the shifting eyes and the stuttering mouth instead. She got the uncomfortable Callie and that made her heart drop into her stomach. She heard the words, "I just need time" and tried to put a positive spin on them. Of course you need time. Your life has just changed. This is big. She had meant to say the words out loud, but her throat hurt. It felt blocked somehow and the words did not get out. She heard the next words about getting Allie and going home and tried desperately to put a positive spin on that. She couldn't and so she was left standing there as Callie practically ran up the stairs.

She stood there thinking she should move, but she was frozen in place, hands still in her pockets. She finally let out a breath. She had to think of something to say, but her mind went blank as soon as she saw Callie at the top of the stairs again, a very sleepy child in her arms. She watched Callie descend the steps and felt her body shaking. She clenched her fists in her pockets to quell the tremors and watched Callie walk out of her house without uttering a word.

She stood there for a full ten minutes after Callie left not thinking, just trying to breath. Finally she unclenched her fists, removed her hands from her pockets and returned to the couch. She thought about walking across the street wanting desperately to know what was happening, but Callie had made it clear she needed time and obviously space. Okay, Erica could give her that for now.

She's just freaking out. It doesn't mean she regrets it. It's not over yet. She just needs time.

She tried to keep those words playing over and over in her head all day to ward off the panic that was starting to build.

The rest of the day passed in a big blur. She felt empty. She went through the motions. She explained to Lucas that Allie and her Mommy wanted to spend some alone time together, but that made him sad because why would they not include him? She answered as best she could, telling him that it was an opportunity for the two of them to have some alone time too. He hadn't bought it and so she focused her attentions not on explanations he would not accept, but on distractions. She played Lego's with him and wrestled with him and finally suggested a bike ride.

It was risky suggesting an activity that Allie would usually be invited to. She tried her lame explanation again and then attempted to distract him by suggesting a trip to Bentley and Aunts Danielle and Sam, who helped entertain him for the rest of the day. It was a good trip. She managed to thwart Danielle's questions for awhile, not sure she was ready to talk about what had happened, but when Lucas went down for his nap, there was no ignoring her. So she sat across from Danielle and Sam nervously flipping her phone over and over in her hand.

She'd been holding the phone for most of the day, hoping that Callie would call and explain things to her. She had promised to call, but the phone remained silent. She told them everything that had happened from the conversation before Cement boy to Callie's hurried departure that morning. Danielle and Sam were sympathetic even if they were as perplexed as she was about Callie's behavior.

Her phone rang as she was asking them what she should do. She looked at it surprised that it started ringing just as she had resigned herself to not receiving the call she had been waiting for all day. She didn't answer right away. On the third ring, Sam spoke.

"I think you're supposed to open it up to answer."

Erica frowned, got up from her seat and walked to the kitchen, flipping it open as she walked.

"Hello," she said hoping she sounded normal and not like the quivering mess she had been feeling like all day.

"Hey, it's me."

"Hey," she said waiting for Callie to start. Silence.

"Callie? Is everything okay?" she asked intentionally softening her tone. She heard Callie sigh into the phone.

"Yeah, everything's fine."

Erica closed her eyes, not liking this conversation already. Apparently Callie didn't want to talk about what was going on with her.

"You didn't seem fine this morning," said Erica trying again.

There was another round of silence. It was clear that Callie was not fine. Something about last night or yesterday had not been fine. Erica felt her heart shaking deep in her chest cavity as she spoke again.

"Callie, I'm sorry. Whatever I did, I'm sorry. I'm sorry I pushed…" she started to say, but she never got to finish.

"I got called in to work tonight and I was wondering if you could take Allie. I know you're out and I'll understand if you can't or don't want to."

Okay, so Callie didn't want to talk. She just needed a favor. They were still friends and Erica loved Allie, so of course she wouldn't deny her. She sighed.

"Of course I'll take Allie, but I'm an hour away."

"Oh, well it's not right away. I got called in to do the overnight, something about being short staffed. Are you in Bentley?"

"Yes."

This time Erica felt the silence between them. She broke it.

"Okay," she said knowing she was not getting any answers tonight and might never get answers. "I'll be home by eight."

She waited a few seconds, willing Callie to say something more, but there was only silence, so she closed her phone loudly, stared out the window of Sam and Danielle's kitchen, and told herself not to cry.

After everything that had happened she couldn't believe Callie only called to ask for a favor. It was as if Saturday had never happened. Callie was acting like nothing had changed, like they hadn't shared something special and intimate just yesterday. Maybe they hadn't. Maybe she was the only one that felt the special and intimate parts of Saturday. Maybe they only existed in Erica's head.

One thing was clear though, there would be no talking. She understood that now. She would need to figure out how Callie and her were going to interact from here on out. She hoped she could find her way to being friends with Callie again, but she knew it wouldn't be easy and she knew she would need distance. And unfortunately distance from Callie was almost impossible.

They stayed at Sam and Danielle's as long as they could, but finally they had to return. Callie was going to bring Allie to her house to spend the night. At least that's what she thought. There was still a possibility that Callie would change her mind. Maybe she would engage Nell's services overnight again, but in case she didn't, she wanted to be there. Allie deserved that.

To her surprise she had heard the doorbell at 8 o'clock exactly and being the coward that she was, with the image of her idiotic self this morning just standing there hands in her pockets still burning a hole in her head, she sent Lucas to answer the door, determined not to see Callie. What was the point?

But she heard Callie wandering around downstairs and so she put on her Dr. Hahn mask or she tried to and went to the top of the stairs to see what Callie wanted. Apparently she just wanted to make sure she wasn't leaving her child with a seven-year old babysitter.

She dreaded what the morning would bring. She was no closer to figuring out how to act, but she wasn't going to figure it out tonight anyway, so she threw out the coffee and wandered back upstairs.



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