Callie walked into the resident's lounge looking around for a place to sit. She sighed at how crowded the place seemed and headed towards Yang who was lounging with a chart on the couch, taking up two seats. Callie was not used to being here during peak hours. On most days she had the afternoon and overnight shifts, a result of her desire to spend as much time as she could with Allie when she was younger. But Webber mysteriously pulled her into the more regular daytime shifts. She hadn't asked for it and knew she should be happy about it. Allie was in school full time now and was gone for most of the day, so she only needed to worry about daycare for the afternoon if she was working days. Allie loved having her most evenings and nights. But right now working days had its downside. It also meant less time spent with Erica.
Two weeks had passed since the whole Sloan fiasco and Erica's declaration that she needed space from Callie. They still had dinners together, which was a plus because she thought Erica was actually warming up to her a little during those dinners. They hadn't wanted to disturb the kids' routines dramatically so they kept up that ritual, but Lucas and Erica left straight after dinner. The overnights stopped since she was no longer working the night shift. That meant the end of naps in the morning in Erica's bed and sadly it was the end of breakfast together for the four of them.
It was like day and night the transition from being kind of together to not being together. Callie had held on to Erica that fateful night as long as Erica let her, which turned out to be about four in the morning. At four they finally parted, her to Allie's room and Allie's extra bed and Erica to her own room. Callie hoped the change wouldn't be abrupt, that the boundaries Erica wanted wouldn't take her completely out of Callie's life. It hadn't, but it still sucked. When she thought about it now, she laughed at her own naivety. Nothing but having Erica completely and fully would make it not suck.
Still the separation felt abrupt, even if she still got to see Erica. It felt harsh to not be able to touch her whenever she wanted, to not see her every morning and to have to wait until nighttime to spend any time with her. Add to that the fact that Erica's walls seemed to go up fast and high around Callie and the result was complete and utter suckiness. Erica was normal with the kids, but with Callie it was short one or two word answers and definitely no smiles. But Callie had reason to be encouraged. The frequent dinners seemed to be warming things between her and Erica. Erica almost smiled at her yesterday.
Erica said she needed space and Callie was trying to give it to her. She didn't disturb Erica at work unless it was work related. She respected Erica's boundaries that dinner was the only meal they would share, but she didn't want Erica to pull away from her completely and she was scared that it might happen before she could do something about it. She needed to prevent that which is why she was looking for a place to sit and think about what she was going to do. She shoved Christina's legs to the side and sat next to her. Christina moved to a sitting position without a word, her focus still on her chart.
"I'm getting an article out of this guy," she said to Callie.
"What?" Callie answered confused. She wasn't really listening.
"An article, I said I could get an article out of this guy."
"Yeah, that's great."
"It's not just great. It's awesome. I got to scrub in on this guy's procedure and actually do something. Gretchen showed up late, so Hahn let me do most of it."
Callie had been hearing more and more stories like that about Gretchen since she started day shifts.
"What's up with Gretchen? Isn't that weird behavior?" asked Callie.
"Whatever, she can continue it if I get to scrub in."
Suddenly a shadow loomed overhead.
"Hello Yang, Torres," Gretchen nodded in their direction.
Callie and Christina looked up. Gretchen was standing over them a can of coke in her hand.
"Sorry I was late, but it finally gave you a chance, huh Yang?"
"You better watch yourself. Hahn was pissed."
Gretchen dismissed Yang's warning. "Nah, that's all bravado. She loves me. She has to do that for your benefit."
"Then someone should give her an Emmy because it sure felt like she was pissed," answered Yang.
Callie could not contain her displeasure. "That's not how Dr. Hahn operates. If she's pissed at you, she lets you know. If she was acting pissed, then she was pissed."
Gretchen made a face at her. "Well you would know right, Torres? I believe she's stopped talking to you altogether."
Callie stood up from the couch and got right in Gretchen's face.
"You don't know anything about us, so I suggest you keep your smarmy little comments to yourself."
Gretchen smiled but stepped back. "Struck a nerve, didn't I? Don't worry Torres. I don't really care. It was bound to happen. Hahn's not really your type is she? Missing some vital equipment, well for you anyway."
"I'm warning you. Stop now," answered Callie fists clenched.
Christina stood between them. "Alright cut it out. This is a hospital. Gretchen you can have the couch. Come on, Torres."
Gretchen shrugged her shoulders and sat. "See ya," she said to the retreating figures. "Oh and Torres," she called out loudly. "You might want to keep your evening free. Erica will probably need a babysitter tonight. We're having dinner together."
Callie's face blanched. Erica hadn't mentioned babysitting for Lucas, so she hoped Gretchen was lying. She had promised space, but dating?
"Torres, let's go. Just forget about her."
Callie followed Christina out, trying desperately not to panic.
"I swear to god Christina, one of these days I'm gonna deck her."
"Relax, Torres. She's just obnoxious. Besides I have a feeling she's not going to be here much longer. I think Hahn's just about done giving her passes."
"I don't know why she's given her even one. She certainly doesn't let anyone else make mistakes without calling them on it."
Christina looked at her. "What's going on with you two anyway? And do you know why Bambi's suddenly become Hahn's new whipping boy?"
"George? Really? No idea."
They made their way to the cafeteria and entered. Callie went to place her coffee order at the coffee stand that had been set up not too long ago. Christina was looking at her expectantly.
"And? You and Hahn? What's going on there?"
Callie frowned. "We kind of broke up."
"WHAT? Were you even together? I know you kissed, but you said you weren't together-together yet. Was it the Sloan thing?"
"For exactly one day. We were together for one day," she sighed as she looked at the clerk and placed her order purposely ignoring Christina's question about the Sloan fiasco. She looked at Christina who was standing there looking dumbfounded. "Christina? What do you want?"
"Oh right, let me just pick my jaw up off the floor here." She turned to the clerk. "Just regular coffee, black," she said to him before turning her attention back to Callie. "Explain."
They picked up their orders and made their way to an empty table.
"I thought you didn't speak girl?" teased Callie.
"This is about the pool. Someone won and I need to figure out who."
Callie gave her a serious look and pointed a finger at her.
"First the pool is so not over. Second I'm not helping you with that. When Erica finds out she'll start cutting hearts out. Seriously and neither you nor little miss Erica loves me are going to be immune to her wrath."
"What do you mean it's not over? You guys broke up. That means you had to be together even if it was just for a day. What day was it? Was it the day you kissed?"
"We're going to get back together, I just need some time."
"Yeah but you were together for a day, right?"
Callie glared at her. "I'm not telling you which day," she said.
"Fine, then get back together soon. I still have a shot at this."
Callie glared at her. "Okay Yang, for you. I'll get her back for you," she said sarcastically.
Yang smiled, a rare occasion really, before taking a sip from her cup. Callie wrapped her hands around hers and frowned.
"Do you think Erica likes her?"
"Who?" asked Yang.
"Gretchen," said Callie.
"Well, Gretchen's been getting a lot of attention from Erica lately, but I don't think its good attention. No, I don't think she likes-likes her and I don't think she's been to happy with her work since she got here. If they're spending any time together it's so Hahn can yell at her some more. Maybe Hahn's having dinner with her to fire her all Jerry McGuire style."
"Yeah, that would be good," said Callie feeling a little better. She didn't need to be worrying about Gretchen on top of everything else.
It was weird to be on the same schedule as Erica but not be doing everything together. More than once this week they were pulling into their respective driveways at almost the same moment. It was even weirder to leave at the same time to drop off their kids at school, but that had only happened once. After that she and Allie always walked out to an empty driveway across the street. Inevitably though, Erica's car would be the first one lined up at the school with Lucas and Erica waiting for the doors to open.
Today though she was late, the result of an emergency surgery late in her shift. She hadn't heard anything from Erica about babysitting tonight, so she assumed Gretchen was just off her rocker about having dinner with Erica. It didn't stop the twisting and wrenching in her stomach. Erica not asking her didn't mean she wasn't going to dinner with Gretchen. In fact, it would make sense for her not to ask Callie, given the situation. Erica didn't have to ask her to sit Lucas. She was perfectly capable of getting another babysitter.
She pulled onto her street and started scanning the driveways looking for Erica's house, her landmark, the one that made her slow down the car and reluctantly turn left onto her own driveway. She did it every night. Tonight would suck because even if Erica had not gone out with Gretchen, Callie had missed dinner anyway. It was the only time she got to see and spend any decent time with Erica. She thought they would be awkward at first, but it had been easy to not talk to each other so much. The kids did most of the talking those first few days and they found that they could have a relatively normal dinner if they kind of let the kids set the conversational pace. It had been a good way to start.
After a few days it was easier to talk to each other again. Erica was indeed warming up to her. She no longer spoke in clipped short phrases that lacked the warmth she had come to associate with Erica. She had even smiled at Callie last night. Callie had no plan yet, but she was gaining confidence with every dinner that she would figure something out, she would figure out a way to convince Erica to take a chance, that her and Allie were worth it.
She saw the black SUV right where it should be and became excited. Gretchen was a liar. Callie had missed dinner, but Allie was over there. Callie was fairly confident that Erica would take both Lucas and Allie across the street. Besides, if she knew Nell, Nell would not want to stay the extra hours. These days she was all about her new boyfriend and not the extra money she earned with extra hours. She was about to turn left, thought better of it and decided she would park in Erica's driveway instead. She maneuvered the car to the right and hit the brakes hard when her headlights illuminated a car already parked in her space.
She backed out onto the street quickly and resigned herself to making the left turn she made every night. She parked in her driveway and got out leaving her bag in the car. She looked at her house and smiled. It was completely dark. She made her way across the street eyeing the car parked neatly next to Erica's. It wasn't Danielle's blue Honda. She wondered what kind of car Sam owned and if Sam and Danielle were over. She passed the windows of the somewhat darkened car and peered inside, a look of disgust on her face at what she saw. The car was littered with the remains of about a thousand fast food dinners, both front and back seat. There was no way Danielle would go anywhere in this car, she thought, eliminating them from the list of possible suspects. She saw a jacket that looked familiar draped across the front seat covering more discarded fast food containers. She looked closer noting familiar lettering on the jacket. She couldn't read it from where she was standing, but was fairly certain it was a Seattle Grace Hospital lab coat. So someone from the hospital was here?
She hurried to the door and took out the key to Erica's house, the one she had not given back. Erica had not asked for it and Callie, not wanting to give up, had not mentioned it. She stopped, thinking over her decision. She promised Erica space. How would it look if she just barged in and invaded Erica's privacy? Still, something could be wrong. Figuring the key was out already, she put it in the lock and turned. She walked in to the sound of silent tapping and looked around hurriedly. Gretchen was lying rather comfortably on Erica's couch, a laptop on her stomach. Erica was reading something while she walked the edges of the living room. She looked up surprised as Callie walked in.
"Callie?" she asked a little confused.
Callie tried to ignore the rolling in her stomach. She also ignored Gretchen and her very relaxed and too familiar demeanor.
"Hey, sorry I'm late. Thanks for taking Allie."
She hadn't actually seen Allie. She just assumed from her dark house that Nell was no longer there and that Allie was here. She had been confident of that as she walked in, but looking around at the very clean living room, in a very quiet house made her question her assumptions. Erica alleviated her fears.
"Their upstairs," she said smiling at Callie.
Callie smiled back, but her eyes turned to Gretchen who was on the couch, looking up at her with a twisted smile. Erica followed Callie's gaze until it landed on Gretchen as well and frowned.
"Hey get your shoes off my couch," she said harshly.
She turned back to Callie who was feeling more and more relieved by the minute.
"Gretchen wanted my help on an article. I'm just reviewing it for her. Allie's upstairs. She's… She's had her bath and is kind of in pjs. They're upstairs picking a story," said Erica a little awkwardly. Erica seemed nervous, but Callie was beaming.
Way to go Allie.
"I'll just go and check on her and let you finish," said Callie, but she wasn't moving.
It was almost like old times. Allie was upstairs effectively getting ready for bed, something she had not done in this house in close to two weeks. There was no way she was taking Allie back home. She just needed to get rid of Gretchen.
It came to her just like that, what she had to do. She wanted Erica. She wanted to be with her like they had been before. Addison was right. They skipped the romance and just started making this family, but that didn't mean the romance wasn't there. In fact, she knew it had been there the whole time. They had just pushed it into the background, a task made easier by the very real problems and tasks of raising children that they were facing together. She needed to bring the romance back to the foreground and incorporate it into what they already had.
With that in mind and forgetting all of Erica's talk about needing space, she stepped toward her like she had so many times, placed her hands on Erica's waist and kissed her cheek. It was a natural greeting that she had given countless times. She lingered a little as an acknowledgement that while the kiss was friendly and chaste, it meant more. She moved her hands to Erica's stomach, a place she gravitated toward even from the beginning and pushed herself off a little. Erica allowed her actions. Callie wasn't sure if that was due to shock or something else. She chose not to dwell on it and was grateful that Erica had allowed it. With a final look at Gretchen, she headed for the stairs.
"Be right back," she shouted at the both of them
Erica was dumbfounded. She was standing there with Gretchen's article loosely grasped in her hand watching Callie casually take her stairs. She was shocked by Callie's presence; shocked to see her here earlier than she expected and shocked that she just let herself in.
Gretchen had showed up about thirty minutes ago pleading and begging Erica to review the article she was submitting. The deadline was tonight, so she needed it reviewed tonight. It irritated her like so many things about Gretchen were irritating her. Erica yelled at her, told her that this behavior was unacceptable and unprofessional and then made her wait while she finished getting the kids to bed. She expected Callie to be late, past the kids bed time late, so she told Allie to get ready for bed fully intending her to spend the night, hoping that would be okay with Callie, that she would not show up and pull Allie out of her bed like she had a couple of weeks ago.
She thought she wouldn't, but with Callie one never really knew. She hadn't expected Callie to run away from her after they made love. She hadn't expected Callie to run to Mark the next day. She hadn't expected Callie to kiss her in front of the kids, so really how was she supposed to know what behavior Callie would exhibit?
She glanced at Gretchen who was looking at her perplexed and then returned her attention to the papers in her hand, pacing up and down and trying hard to concentrate on the words on the page. The article was badly written, which meant it was a good distraction. Medical journal articles were not difficult to write and she had seen other articles by Gretchen so she was surprised that this one was so bad. The introduction was unclear, her conclusions sounded vague and just looking at the data included in the article made her cringe, because it didn't make sense.
"You're not really planning on turning this in tonight, are you?" she asked handing the pages back to Gretchen who sat up and placed her laptop on the coffee table.
"Why wouldn't I?" Gretchen asked clearly annoyed.
"Because it will be rejected. The writing is shoddy and a little unclear. You can probably fix that tonight or the editors will do it for you but the data doesn't make sense. You need to recheck your numbers. They don't seem right. They're off. Any idiot can tell that."
"They're right. I've triple checked."
"Then check again," said Erica.
Erica didn't believe her. If her recent work was any indication Gretchen liked taking shortcuts. She had been doing that a lot lately. Erica had already spoken to her about her subpar performance, told her that if she didn't see improvement, she would send her back to Presbyterian. She had spoken to Webber today about sending her back and asked to have Yang on her service permanently. He was resistant, told her he would think about it. He knew Yang was talented, so she thought there was a chance she could get Yang. If she did, Thomas was going back. If she didn't she would consider giving her another chance. She had also mentioned Callie in her talk with Webber asking whether he planned to take her on as an attending once her residency was over, but he refused any further discussion of Callie. She left his office frustrated. She was musing over all of this when she heard Gretchen again.
"What's up with her?"
"Who?" asked Erica looking at her.
Gretchen looked toward the stairs and shifted her eyes up. "Her. She acts like she owns this place, just waltzing in here. You should take her key."
"Her daughter is here. She can waltz in here anytime," said Erica coldly.
"Listen Erica, can you point out what data I need to recheck?"
Erica reluctantly walked around the couch to sit next to Gretchen. She wanted Gretchen gone. She wanted time to think about how Callie was acting and how she should respond before Callie came downstairs. She took the papers roughly from Gretchen's hands and started looking through them again. She reached for the pen lying on the coffee table and found her hand ensnared by Gretchen.
"I got it," said Gretchen quietly as she squeezed Erica's hand.
Erica took her hand back and turned it over palm side up. "Well? Hand it over," she said impatiently.
Gretchen handed her the pen and Erica commenced looking through the papers again, quickly circling all the places where the data looked off.
"Look this whole section here doesn't make sense. It's like you took data from two different patients."
Gretchen moved closer leaning into Erica under the guise of looking at the areas Erica was pointing to.
Oh, what the hell?
Okay, she'd had enough of Gretchen's touchy feely behavior. She had tried to ignore it, not wanting her to feel completely alienated. She knew hospital politics and she knew the other residents were resentful of Gretchen's appearance in their midst, but Gretchen was not getting Erica's not so subtle hints. She had warned her off in the resident's lounge the time Gretchen placed her hand on Erica's back; she thought she had been pretty clear by the gruff way she addressed Gretchen after the hand squeezing just now. This was too much.
"Yeah," said Gretchen in a breathy voice.
"If you don't move to the other side of the couch, I'm going to toss you over there."
"Hey," said a voice from behind them.
"Hey," said Erica standing up quickly.
Callie's eyes were dancing just a little and she seemed to be holding back a smirk. Erica turned to Gretchen.
"Look, I've pointed out all the sections I think are wrong. I would check the data again before you submit."
She handed the papers back.
"Okay, what about the rest of it? I mean, I thought the introduction was okay, but the conclusion…"
"Gretchen it's late. I told you already you should have given this to me weeks ago. I'm sorry your deadline is midnight, but I've given you all the help I'm going to give you tonight. We are not at the hospital. This is my home and I'm not working tonight. I think it's time you left."
Gretchen closed her laptop. "But if we can just..."
"Did you not hear her?" asked Callie standing close to Erica.
"Alright, I can see you're tired," Gretchen said, ignoring Callie. She packed up her laptop. "Come on Torres, I think Erica needs her rest."
Callie took off her jacket in response and went to hang it up in the closet. "I think she asked you to go," she said.
Erica was looking at the two of them trying to fill in the gaps she thought were missing. She knew that Gretchen wasn't exactly Callie's favorite person, but this active dislike between the two of them was new to her. They were in different departments and even though they were both fifth year residents, their specialties didn't really bring them in contact with each other a lot, so she wasn't quite sure where the dislike originated. She thought back briefly to that conversation ages ago where Callie expressed dislike at the suggestive way Gretchen talked about her, but Erica thought that was just a part of the flirty game they had been playing.
Gretchen had always been socially inappropriate, but at Presbyterian she had also been a hard working and brilliant resident. Erica had heard passing conversations about Gretchen's sexual conquests at Presbyterian, but it never really seemed to affect her work which was all Erica cared about. She knew Gretchen was acting a little differently since she arrived at Seattle Grace, but Erica had never been into delving into people's personal lives, so she hadn't really asked. She was too distracted with Callie to notice Gretchen. She noticed the unwanted advance on the couch, but she thought she had dealt with that pretty well. Gretchen had moved. It was making her head hurt. All of this personal crap was making her head hurt.
"I think she meant both of us," said Gretchen. She had her laptop in her hand and was staring at Callie with a look of pure dislike that was making Erica angry.
"Hey," she said getting Gretchen's attention. She walked up to her. "I didn't ask Callie to leave."
"But if you're tired…I mean why does she get to stay?" asked Gretchen sounding like a child whining about how unfair a parent was being.
"Because she's Callie. Goodbye Gretchen. Close the door on your way out."
She turned and walked into the kitchen intent on making coffee.
Both Callie and Gretchen watched Erica disappear.
"I'll show you out," said Callie turning to Gretchen with a wide smile. Gretchen miraculously put on a happy face again.
"Thanks, Torres," she gathered her papers and walked toward the door.
"Don't do anything I would do, oh wait a minute that's right, you wouldn't. You're not gay."
Callie resisted the urge to slam the door, but she did not resist the urge to lock it forcefully turning every lock and bolt and finally putting on the flimsy little retro chain the door had. She took a deep breath and turned to the kitchen.
Alright Torres, walk tall and don't take no for an answer.