February 13th, 2009

I Know You

Erica was finishing up a mountain of paperwork after a neverending, pain-in-the-ass day.  After work, Erica habitually, naturally sought Callie.  Her best friend and only ally on this planet, Callie was Erica's failsafe cure to a shit day.  Callie's neon-lit smile never failed to flip a switch in Erica, reminding Erica that the world could never be entirely bad with a "Callie" in it.

These best friends, however, hadn't spoken in two weeks since the infamous kiss, the inevitable kiss after their mutual lingering looks and lustful stares over Concrete Boy.  An epic kiss, months in the making.  A kiss Erica had been tempted to initiate a zillion times but always failed to summon the requisite courage.  Erica reasoned that there was never an ideal time to strategically launch a surprise kissing assault on your BFF's perfectly pouty mouth.  Callie did find the courage to make the leap to Kissingland and thus "queered" their friendship immeasurably.  Neither woman knew how to handle the next part though, the kissing fallout, causing both to opt for avoidance. 

Tonight, Callie was jubilant because her successful experimental surgery saved a man's life.  She pushed the boundaries, as Erica coached her.  With Erica's guidance, Callie centered herself and found she already knew all she needed to know.  She was getting in her own way, until Erica intervened and gently coaxed Callie out of her panic.  Now Callie strutted through the hospital atrium.  When feeling victorious in the past, she and Erica would split a bottle of wine and congratulate the respective genius of the day on their awesomeness.  One of the women would cast herself as the hero and narrate the day's dramatic events, the other woman applauding the hero's expertise and infinite wisdom.  They were each other's biggest cheerleader.  Neither had previously known what it was like to have someone in your corner, unconditionally.  Callie wanted nothing more than to return to those times with Erica, to sprint to Erica tonight and celebrate her triumphant day.  It didn't count if Callie couldn't tell Erica about it.  Nothing was real until Erica knew. 

Callie, sadly resigned to go home alone yet again, half-heartedly scanned the atrium for Erica.  Maybe she stuck around after her shift, Callie hoped.  The last two weeks, Erica was a ghost to Callie.  Callie would spy Erica quickly turning a corner, her blonde curls swishing, or sense Erica's white coat retreating down a hallway.  Callie was curious about Erica's new haircut.  Callie's brain raced, When did that happen?  Of course, it's none of my business what she does with her hair.  It's HER hair.  But why did she cut it?  Is it because of the kiss?  Does she not want me to recognize her and kiss her again?  What...cause I'm like addicted to kissing her?  Like I can't control myself around her?  That's ridiculous-wait!  What am I thinking?  Shut up, Callie.  Shit!  Maybe she wants to look cute for some girl!  Who?  Who is the skank? I will throw down!  No, wait.  That's crazy!  I'm not, like, gay...so...?  What's wrong with me?  She does look sexy with those curls...great, here we go again!  Callie self-consciously laughed at her rambling, homosexual-leaning thoughts.  Obsessive thoughts haunted Callie these past weeks, the longest weeks of her life.  She had no life without Erica.  Time away from Erica was just that, time.  It didn't constitute as living. Callie was just killing time.

Callie suddenly spotted blonde hair and Erica's trench coat at the nurses' station.  Her heart cartwheeled.  Without thinking, Callie beelined for Erica.  She startled Erica, who had not seen Callie approach and was disarmed at the idea of a Callie confrontation.  Yet, her heart immediately swelled at the nearness of Callie. 

"I don't like to experiment.  But then you showed up and...it was a success!!" Callie proudly announced, beaming. 

Erica's blue eyes widened, coherent thoughts escaping her.  What experiment is she referring to?  The kiss?  She kissed me as an experiment?  Like kissing-on-a-trial-basis?  So she didn't mean to kiss me "like that"?  Wait--what experiment is she referring to?  Are we just going to act like it never happened?  Erica's heart capsized and sank, her private fears made manifest.  Erica deduced that the kiss didn't mean anything to Callie.  It meant everything only to Erica.  Erica desperately tried to recover and hide her disappointment.  "Oh. Oh!" Erica played along briefly, only to retreat to the safety of her paperwork, unable to look Callie in the eye and potentially, dangerously reveal any kind of emotion. 

Callie picked up on Erica's distress.  As the best friend, it was Callie's job to decode the emotions on Erica's face, a face she logged hours looking at and missed so dearly the past weeks.  Callie sighed, needing to unload all she ached to say to Erica since the kiss.  "I've never kissed a girl before.  I don't even know if I like kissing girls.  I DON'T like kissing girls.  I only like kissing one girl.  You," Callie confessed shyly. 

Erica's face lit up.  "You're the only woman I've ever kissed," Erica blurted out. 

Callie giggled with relief that they were finally talking about the kiss, "So you're freaking out too?"

Erica smiled, averting her eyes, embarrassed at her awkwardness of the past couple weeks. Erica realized at that moment how silly they had been, especially herself.  Erica Hahn didn't do fear.  They were better than this.  Erica admitted, "Lot of therapy time." 

"Yeah, I should look into that.  Therapy," Callie sighed.

"No.  You're fine," Erica softly reassured her, giving Callie a discreet smile. 

A moment of comfortable silence passed, each taking the other woman in. After virtually no contact, it was such a relief to finally look each other in the eye again.  Their eyes locked, each woman mirroring the other's growing smile. 

Finally, Callie broke the spell.  "Earlier today, with my surgery?  How did you know that I knew...?"  Callie shrugged, at a loss. 

"I know you.  I knew you knew it.  You're an excellent doctor, Cal.  You just forget sometimes,"  Erica lovingly chided her friend.

"Well...thank you, " Callie said, meeting Erica's bluest eyes, genuinely grateful for the unfailing good friend Erica always was. 

Now that they were allowed to openly look, they couldn't help but blatantly stare at each other, making up for lost time.  They were giddy just to be in each other's presence.  Christmas morning giddy.

This time, Erica quit the silence, suddenly emboldened by Callie's flirtatious smile.  "So do you routinely jump your best friends or is it just me?" Erica inquired cheekily.

"Jump?!" Callie squeeled, feigning shock.

"You attacked me-"

"What are you-?!!" Callie laughed loudly.

"You sexually assaulted me when I was innocently looking for my keys," Erica accused in a mock serious tone, her Erica Hahn tone.

"Now, wait, Erica-" Callie tried to match Erica's psuedo-serious tone.

"You waited until my defenses were down.  I was conveniently vulnerable and weak after a long day and that crap with Yang-"

Callie interrupted, "Okay, now wait a minute!  I did not attack you." Callie paused, replaying the kiss in her head. "Alright, yeah.  I did kind of attack you," Callie acknowledged.

"Kind of?"

"Alright! I sorta...jumped on your head.  Just a little bit," Callie coyly admitted, and not a little bit proudly.

The women laughed, the brand of laughter that shakes your shoulders and seizes your breathe. This, here, them, laughing with their bestest friend, was right.  Where they belonged in that moment in time.  And any moment they chose in the future. 

Their combined giggling eventually quieted and neither woman knew what to say.  The kiss was out in the open and acknowledged.  Yes, they had kissed.  And neither regretted it.

Callie affectionately studied Erica and before she knew it, she could hear her own voice say, "God, I've missed you, " with a large degree of sadness, regretful of the time they had recently wasted not being together.  Time they'd never get back.

Erica smiled solemly, briefly, nodding at Callie's confession.  Erica uncomfortably shifted her weight against the nurses' station, stalling, before summoning the courage to find Callie's eyes again.  "I really missed you," Erica whispered, meaning every word and even more, what didn't need to be said, the beyond words part of how much she truly needed Callie in her life.

Callie nodded, moved by the look in Erica's eyes.  Erica's eyes radiated love, causing Callie's heart to skip.  Callie could feel herself getting choked up, her emotions on high alert.  But she didn't want to cry tonight.  Tonight was about winning her best friend back. 

Callie shook her head to rid herself of any sad thoughts and instantly brightened into her famous blazing smile.  "Hey!  You hungry?  Let me buy you dinner!  For all your help today.  You save my ass, I owe you pizza.  It's only fair, " Callie pleaded in a sing-song melody. 

Erica laughed, "Ummm..." pretending to debate Callie's offer, but knowing she could never deny Callie anything. "Ahhh...yeah.  Pizza sounds perfect." 

They turned away from the nurses' station and headed towards the doors.  Their shoulders bumped each other, not accidentally.  Their hands almost connecting, each hand magnetized to the other's hand, twitching in sweet anticipation of contact. 

Frustrated, Callie couldn't take it anymore.  Callie stopped abruptly and grabbed Erica's elbow.  "Erica?"  Callie impatiently whined.

"Yeah?" Erica asked, suddenly concerned.

"Can I hold your hand?"  Callie nervously requested, biting her lip.

Erica's face exploded into a radiant smile.  She looked down briefly and took a step closer to Callie, invading Callie's space.  Erica leaned in even closer to Callie's face, "I was going to ask you the same thing," Erica whispered sexily, her voice impossibly low. If sex had a sound, it was Erica's voice. 

The women smiled at their shared dorkiness.  Dorks made in heaven.  Then Callie straightened her spine, readjusted her purse strap, and confidently took possession of Erica's soft hand.  Callie defiantly lifted her chin and marched towards the exit, leading her girl to their promised pizza dinner. 

Erica squeezed Callie's hand extra-tight and happily knew she would always follow Callie wherever she decided to take her. 
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