Erica looked over the chart that had been missing for the last thirty minutes. She paid no attention to the intern trotting beside her and his incessant apologies. She barked out orders, hoped he got them right, shoved the chart back in his hands and turned to go to her office.
"Page me if anyone needs me, but somebody better be dying before you call me," she shouted after him.
She walked into her office locking the door behind her and then just stopped. She stood in the dark cracking her knuckles anxiously, not knowing what she should do next. Saturday she and Callie had made love. Sunday morning Callie had run from her. All day Sunday Erica felt lost. She tried convincing herself that everything was not crumbling around her, that Callie was processing things in her own way, that there was still a chance, if Callie would just talk to her. Even after it was clear Callie didn't want to talk, it hadn't been real yet that is was all over. Her mind had known, had tried to formulate a plan for moving forward, but her heart still felt the tug of Callie. Now after what she had just witnessed...she was so wrong about everything.
She didn't know how long she stood in the middle of her office in the dark, but eventually she heard knocking. Her body jerked at the sound and she just managed to stop herself from answering automatically. She came back to where she was and what she had just seen and remained still and silent, confident that she didn't want to deal with whatever or whoever was on the other side of that door.
"Erica, it's me. Can you let me in?"
Of course, Callie. No, I don't think so. I think you've cut me enough.
The voice was getting louder, but the banging stopped. Still Erica stood unmoving, just breathing and clenching her fists. She had been so utterly wrong about everything. She wanted to go home, but that thought made her feel like crying, because home was Lucas and Allie and Callie's stuff in her dresser. Still she stood, as motionless as a statue, a lonely tear rolling down her cheek was the only sign that there was something alive in the still body. Finally she heard no more banging and no one calling her name. She went to her couch, sat heavily with her head in her hands and let it all out. Two days of fear, disappointment, confusion, and anger converged. For one long moment she cried silent tears.
An eternity later, she was taking stock. She had a headache, no tissue, and her face was a mess of tears and snot and hurt. She got up. She had to get herself together. Despite the threat she made to the intern, she knew at some point she would be paged and she needed to not be a mess. Wiping her face as best she could with her scrub shirt, she went to the door and opened it. She saw the bathroom across the way bathed in harsh light and hurriedly made her way to it. She closed the door, splashed her face with cold water again and again and then dried her face. She still looked a mess, but maybe she would get lucky and not be paged for another hour. By then she might not look like she had been sitting in a dark room crying.
She opened the bathroom door and darted back across the hall into her dark office, closing and locking the door softly. She kept the light off contemplating what to do next as she stood, hand still on the doorknob. She had work to do on the surgical floor, but she couldn't go down there. She put her hand in the pocket of her jacket, felt for the stethoscope she kept there and tried to remind herself that she was a doctor. She was in a hospital. This is where she worked. She cursed herself. This is exactly why you keep your professional life separate from your private life.
She took a deep breath and straightened, maybe she could stay here for awhile.
"That wasn't what you think it was," a voice said from the dark.
Erica jumped and turned toward the sound. She recognized the voice and knew her hard won stability was about to be wrecked. She said nothing at first. She leaned against the door and focused her gaze on where the couch should be. Eventually she saw the rough outline of a body, Callie's body.
"I don't know how you got in here, but I'd like you to leave," she managed to get out.
"I didn't sleep with him."
"No, I'm sure you weren't sleeping," responded Erica.
"I didn't have sex with him," Callie clarified.
"Really, what are you hets calling it these days?"
"Name calling doesn't help."
"Neither does running away."
Neither woman said anything for a few minutes.
"Cal..." Erica cleared her throat. It was unbelievable how much it hurt to say her name. "Look, let's forget Saturday, okay. I have no claim to you. I understand that. You're allowed to have whatever adult relationships you want. Let's just chalk it up to curiosity and forget about it."
"I don't want to forget it. I can't stop thinking about it."
Erica expelled a strangled laugh.
"You seem to be distracting yourself with other thoughts quite nicely."
"I was... I was trying to get a question answered. I did get a question answered."
Erica laughed again. "Good for you, Callie. Is that supposed to make me feel better?" she asked. Her voice was getting shakier by the minute.
"I don't know," responded Callie sounding lost. "But I know I hurt you yesterday and today and I want to fix that."
"You didn't break my arm, Callie. You broke my... It can't be fixed, okay. It happened, you didn't like it, had to find satisfaction elsewhere, end of story. It happens."
"Erica stop. It wasn't like that."
"Yes, it was Callie. Not for me, but it was like that for you. It's okay to say it. I've already seen the evidence of it. It can't get worse than that, can it? I should have known better."
She crossed over to her desk. She was exhausted. "Don't worry, I'll get over it."
"What if I don't want you to get over it?"
"Callie, please stop. Please stop talking or acting like this thing with us means something. You're straight. I get it. Go, be with Mark. We'll just… We'll just start separating our lives."
Callie said nothing for a few seconds. Suddenly her trembling voice uttered, "I was confused, okay? I've never done this before and I was scared. This…this thing with us, it scares me how strong it is."
"It scares me too. In fact, it's one big nightmare."
And suddenly she didn't want to hash this out with Callie. She made her way to the door, opened it and left. She was going home. She was almost at the end of her shift anyway. They could page her for anything else. Decision made she headed for the locker rooms. She would need to tell Bailey and Gretchen, but after that, she was gone from this hell hole.
Callie sat on the couch letting the tears fall again, knowing that the best thing that had ever happened to her had just walked out, and knowing she might not be able to fix this. She felt stupid and completely inept. The question she had been struggling with so intently was trivial and insignificant and she had let it become everything. She no longer cared what all of this meant about her. She just knew this thing with Erica felt right. She wanted Erica, plain and simple.
You can't fix this.
That's what Erica had told her. She didn't want to believe it, couldn't believe it, not if she wanted to set her life back on track, set it back on the path it had been on.
A soft knock set her heart pounding again, hoping Erica had come back. After all this was her office.
"Erica?" she spoke softly.
"Huh?" she heard and then saw a tiny thin body push the door open and step into the doorway. "Dr. Hahn?" the body called out.
"Christina?" asked Callie getting up from the couch and hitting the light. They both winced at the fluorescent brightness that pierced their eyes.
"Hey Torres, I was looking for Dr. Hahn. Consult on one of Shepherd's patients. Where's Erica?" she asked.
Callie laughed nervously. "I wish I knew."
Christina's eyes scanned Erica's office, now bathed in light, curiously for a moment before settling on Callie.
"Hey, what's going on? You okay?"
"No," said Callie trying to will the shakiness out of her voice.
"You and Hahn get into a fight or something?"
Callie sat back down. "Something like that. I screwed up." She looked up suddenly. "It's your fault! You told me to try both and then I went and tried to do that and now Erica might never talk to me."
"What? What are you talking about?"
"You told me to try both!"
"Oh my God! What did you do?"
"I tried to find out if I was gay, by trying to sleep with Mark."
"That makes no damn sense! Callie, I didn't mean like literally. I mean you have slept with men before, so you didn't really need to try it out."
"Yeah well, I didn't sleep with him. I got my question answered pretty quickly or part of it at least. I don't know if I'm gay and I don't care. I don't want to be with Mark or anyone else unless their name is Erica Hahn."
"That could be a common name."
"Well now that you've figured it out, you and Hahn can get together and I can still win the pool."
"She saw us, me and Mark." Callie winced not wanting to think of that moment, the door opening, those blue eyes glancing her way. Her stomach clenched. "Oh God, how am I going to fix this?"
"I don't know, but for what its worth, I'm sorry, Callie. I didn't mean it like that. I meant try it out with a girl and see which you liked better, you know like maybe the woman you've been following around like a puppy dog for the last few months."
Now that Callie thought about it that made perfect sense. "Fuck me," she said. She put her head in her hands. "What the hell is wrong with me?"
"Gay panic," said Christina calmly.
"Gay panic. You're attracted to a girl. It's never happened before, hence the panic. You think it means you might be gay and boom panic. Happens all the time."
Callie glared at her. "What do you mean it happens all the time? Why the fuck didn't you inform me of gay panic when I talked to you about this before?"
"Oh come on! You barely told me what was going on. You still haven't. Besides, I just thought of it now anyway. Listen, I gotta go find Hahn. Are you going to be okay?"
"Yeah, I just gotta...figure out how to fix this."
Erica went home with a very weary heart. She left later than she wanted, having been called in to do a consult for Shepherd, but now she was heading home. She had to stop at Callie's to pick up Lucas. She didn't want to go inside, didn't want to deal with telling Nell that no she would not be taking Allie with her, that Callie would be coming home shortly. Lucas would whine. He wouldn't understand. Isn't this what she had wanted to avoid, why she had told Callie that the teasing had to stop ages ago?
Still a part of her had been relieved to hear Callie's words.
I didn't sleep with him.
They were a balm to her aching heart. She loved Callie, had opened herself up to her and made herself more vulnerable than she had ever done in any relationship and she was now paying the price, because it was slowly destroying her. She knew that physically she was healthy and whole. There was nothing medically wrong with her heart. She moved through her life the last two days as if everything was fine, as if her heart wasn't breaking, because physically it wasn't. She breathed in and out, took care of Lucas and Allie, the house, her patients, all of it without once swerving, without even the slightest sway of indifference or doubt. And yet emotionally she was not healthy and she was not whole. Her heart was damaged and in pieces and although it was an organ she usually knew how to fix, she could not fix this.
The ache started the moment Callie walked out of her house on Sunday morning with a sleepy confused little girl in her arms. Erica went through the motions of the day, despite Callie's absence, despite Lucas's questions and the break in their routine. She walked through it all pushing aside the ache, but it grew as the day progressed. How could it not when the reality of the situation was so painful? That ache seemed to double in size seeing Callie at the bottom of her steps on Sunday night. It tripled as soon as she walked into the hospital.
At the hospital it infected her lungs until breathing hurt and she had to periodically stop and wait until her body's need for breath overpowered the pain, and air once again moved in and out of her lungs normally. The pain grew until it reached her head giving her a monster headache that no amount of aspirin was able to tackle. Finally, it invaded her muscles which ached with the tension. She had pushed the pain aside on Sunday and taken care of her son. She pushed it away again today to take care of her patients, trying not to think of Callie and explanations that were not forthcoming.
Today she expected some explanation from Callie for the odd behavior even if no apologies were coming, but as the day progressed with no word, no gesture from Callie, it became harder to push away the pain. And then she walked into that on-call room to see Mark and Callie in a state of semi-dress. She had looked away immediately not wanting that image to burn itself into her memory, knowing even then how futile the gesture was.
The shock got her through her interactions with the intern and her stubborn pride and sheer will had allowed her to make it to her office before completely breaking down. And then, she still wasn't sure how, Callie was there providing explanations Erica did not want to hear. She had wanted explanations to Callie's behavior earlier, but after what she had seen in the on-call room, she no longer needed them.
Then anger finally made an appearance. It climbed to the surface like a tidal wave and allowed her to get through Callie's attempts at an explanation. Anger got her through the end of her shift and the final consult for Shepherd, but now she was spent.
She parked the car in her driveway and made her way across the street. She had a key, but didn't really want to use it; it wouldn't be appropriate anymore. Instead, she knocked. Nell answered with her coat already on.
"Hello Dr. Hahn. Did you lose your keys? I'm sorry I have to bail so quickly, but I have a date tonight. Kids were given a snack and they claim they've finished their homework. See you tomorrow."
She was gone before Erica could get in a breath.
Erica walked in, her eyes stinging a little and her heart threatening to thump out of her chest at how familiar this house was and how she would no longer be spending time here.
"Mom!" shouted Lucas jumping into her arms. She lifted him up and hugged him to her fiercely, closing her eyes tight.
"Mom," he squirmed, "I gotta show you my drawing. Allie says it's cool and looks just like a real bat."
He wiggled out of her grasp and ran for the dining room where they usually did their homework. Allie was standing there arms outstretched waiting for her hug. Erica lifted her in much the same fashion as Lucas and hugged her even more fiercely, knowing the hugs would be limited from here on out. Allie didn't squirm as much as Lucas. She leaned back in Erica's arms and started talking as Erica walked into the living room.
"I did a bird, but it wasn't as good. But I did a cat too and a house and those were good."
"I'm sure they were great princess. You want to show me?" Allie nodded her head and Erica set her down. She couldn't be here. She knew that.
"Hey guys, grab your stuff, grab your pictures and homework, we're going across the street, okay?"
"Okay Mom. I'll bring my picture."
"You too Allie, bring your picture."
"Okay," said Allie. "I have to get my sweater from upstairs cause I want to wear it tomorrow. Wait for me okay?"
Erica closed her eyes. Lucas was gathering his and Allie's school stuff for the next day. Allie was fully expecting to be spending the night at her house. Erica didn't have the heart to tell her that her mom would probably just bring her back here in an hour.
She made them dinner, not as healthy as Callie would have made, but chicken nuggets and carrots with some brown rice left over from the Chinese take-out on Saturday night would have to do. They shared their drawings with her, talked about their day, asked when Callie would be home, and told her about their desire to see a real bat and a zebra and monkeys so they could draw them. Allie's teacher was an art nut and was forever telling the kids to go out and find things to draw. Lucas had been fascinated with the idea and both he and Allie were now in an intense drawing phase. She was listening to them, knowing they were working up to asking for something. They did it very well, trying to talk around what they wanted to ask as subtly as they could, but she knew Lucas would crack and blurt it all out.
After some hints, Lucas could not contain himself and asked if they could all go to the zoo. She knew it had been coming, felt the lump forming in her throat as Allie droned on and on about animals and where one could find lots of animals. But they would not be going to the zoo together.
She set her fork down. She had eaten the brown rice, but the carrots and chicken nuggets were limp and cold on her plate, untouched. She glanced at the clock. She was surprised Callie hadn't picked up Allie yet. She knew Callie had been asked to stay to help with the Bentley trauma, but those cases were diverted, so she assumed Callie would just go home. She was probably with Mark.
"You'll have to ask your Mom about the zoo, Allie," she said. "Now homework. Where is everyone's homework?"
Both kids slid off their chairs.
"Race you," she heard Lucas say and they were off running toward their backpacks.
Ten minutes later, homework had been checked. Lucas was playing with Lego's creating yet another robotic monster. Allie was looking through books, probably thinking ahead to her bedtime story. She liked to take her time in choosing her story every night. Lucas liked the same story read to him for a few months. Right now it was a story about a girl on a bicycle who tries to take a short cut and ends up on a crazy adventure.
She rubbed her temples. Her headache had returned at full strength. She knew part of it was stress at the likely confrontation with Callie, part of it was worry about what was happening and how the kids would react. This whole thing was already affecting them. Lucas hadn't understood why they did not have breakfast like they usually did yesterday. He would have a lot more questions in the days ahead.
She got up setting their homework neatly in their folders. She still needed to clean up the dinner dishes. She walked over to the table to start the process when she heard the turning of a lock. She tensed watching the kids scramble to the door. Callie entered and immediately dropped her bag as Allie ran toward her at full speed. It was hard on Callie these long shifts. She knew Callie felt like she missed days of Allie's life when her shifts went over.
"Mommy," squealed Allie putting her tiny arms around Callie's neck as Callie kissed her. Lucas was right behind her jumping up and down and also screaming "Mommy."
Erica almost dropped the plates.
Shit, shit, shit!
This was not good. This was not like him calling her Mom. She would need to explain things to him. She tried to leave the thought that she had been wishing so hard for what he had just vocalized outside of her mind. It was not a possibility. She stood there watching the three of them, plates hanging somewhat loosely from her hand.
"Hey sweeties," she heard Callie say.
Either she had not heard Lucas or was choosing not to deal with it.
"You two look more beautiful now then you did yesterday. What's up with that?"
Lucas giggled. "We're the same, just different clothes," he declared.
"I don't know," Callie humored him. "Are you sure?"
"Yes!" from both Allie and Lucas and they delved into a conversation about how different their clothes were from yesterday.
Callie was smiling at them as she made her way to the living room.
"So we have an hour before bedtime. Why don't you guys pick something to watch before you go to bed?" she asked.
"Okay," they said simultaneously darting for the DVD cases spread out in front of the television. "We'll do baths in the morning. Get into your jammies first and then pick a movie while I talk to your other Mom over there."
So she had heard Lucas.
They set off at a run tumbling up the stairs arguing about movie choices.
Erica was still standing, dirty dishes in her hands, trying to decipher Callie's exchange with Lucas and Allie. Callie watched the kids race up the stairs before making her way to Erica. Erica saw her and turned, heading into the kitchen. She threw the scraps in the garbage and put the dishes in the dishwasher. Callie followed her into the kitchen a few moments later with more dirty dishes from their dinner.
"You don't have to do that," said Erica sounding a bit harsh.
Callie said nothing. She handed over the dishes and left the kitchen. Erica cursed herself silently. She didn't want anger to be the only thing left between them. Callie returned with the rest of the dirty dishes from the dining room table. She handed them to Erica and waited for Erica to set the dishwasher. Erica was trying to ignore her. She didn't want to be nasty, not here in her house with the kids just upstairs, but she didn't feel up to dealing with Callie right now either. She felt Callie behind her, but remained silent as she set the cycle to start. Callie was still behind her as the machine came to life and Erica found that she could not turn around.
Erica," said Callie. "Turn around."
Erica said nothing and continued facing the dishwasher, her back to Callie. Callie put her hands on Erica's waist.
"Turn around," she repeated.
Erica shook her head.
"Please," said Callie.
"Callie, please don't," answered Erica in a voice so soft it was almost lost in the drone of the machine in front of her.
"Turn. Around," said Callie putting a little more force into the words.
Erica let out a breath and turned abruptly. She started to speak, she wanted to say something to make Callie back off, but instead she found strong hands cupping her face and felt soft lips moving on hers. She wanted to pull away, she really did. She told herself she would, as soon as she...
All thoughts vanished as Callie opened her mouth and wrapped her arms around Erica's neck. Erica was going to spontaneously combust. Every part of her body in contact with Callie tingled with sparks. She wrapped her arms around Callie pulling her closer, wanting to ignite all the tingly places. She banished all thoughts and just enjoyed the kiss. She didn't know what was happening or why and didn't care. For this moment in time, she only cared that Callie was in her arms, kissing her and responding to her kisses.
Erica thought she heard noises in the distance. She must be losing it. Kissing Callie had finally put her over the edge because she swore she was hearing what sounded like a stampede in her house. The giggling that followed however dispelled the notion of horses. Abruptly she tried to break away knowing that Callie was weird about the kids seeing them, but Callie's grip on her tightened.
"Are we gonna watch something or are you guys just gonna kiss all night?" asked Lucas.
For a moment, she actually considered telling him that kissing all night seemed like a good option. Allie must have found Lucas's comment hilarious because she was laughing hysterically. Callie was pulling away from her slowly. They stopped kissing, but Callie's arms were still around Erica's neck.
She focused on Erica's eyes as she whispered, "I don't want him. I want you." She let go of Erica and turned to Lucas and Allie.
"Alright, you two, let's go see what you've picked."
"Mommy, Mommy, Mom said, I mean Aunt Erica said that we could go to the zoo," said Allie as she skipped into the living room attached to her mother's hand. Apparently now that Lucas had tried it with no objections, Allie was game.
"She did? Well we'll need to talk about that."
"Yeah that's what she said too. Can we go?" Allie begged.
"We'll talk about it."
Erica could hear the three of them talking in the living room. She didn't know what to make of the kiss or Callie's comment. An hour ago she had been contemplating change, how her and Lucas's life would change without Callie and Allie. Her life had just changed again, but not in the way she had anticipated that afternoon. Callie kissed her in front of the kids. Callie wanted her. She was not taking Allie away tonight. She ran her hands through her hair. Everything had changed again and she didn't know exactly how that had happened or what she should do.
She watched Lucas and Allie get settled on the floor still talking like they were on speed and then turned to Callie who was sitting on the couch seemingly participating in the inane chatter from the floor. She looked at Erica as she entered and patted the spot next to her.
Erica wondered where they should go from here. What had really happened with Sloan? Erica wanted to believe that Callie hadn't slept with him, but something had happened. Erica had seen something. Callie had said something about "trying" with Mark, hadn't she? What was she trying exactly? And why did she feel the need to try anything with Mark? They kissed in front of the kids. What did that mean? The kids would have expectations. Actually, she didn't know if their expectations would be any different than they were now, which seemed to consist of the four them spending as much time together as possible.
Resolving to save her questions for later, she moved towards the couch and sat, wondering once again what she was supposed to do. Unless she was reading the signs wrong again, Callie seemed to want to move forward. The problem was that Erica wasn't sure she could anymore. Despite the kiss in the kitchen, despite Callie's declaration that she had not slept with Mark, Erica wasn't sure she wanted to pursue Callie any longer. She wasn't sure her heart could take it.