February 18th, 2009

Between Us

Callie paced the empty attendings' breakroom and compulsively checked the time on her cellphone yet again:  1:15pm.  She and Erica were to meet in the attendings' breakroom on the fourth floor at 12:30.  The two women craved privacy and no one used this room, tucked away in a dusty corner of the hospital, most doctors forgetting it even existed.  Erica and Callie often hid here earlier in their friendship, venting over a quick cup of coffee, safe in their own little world.  Even as friends, they yearned to be alone, coveting their intimacy.

Callie assumed Erica must be stuck in surgery, trusting that Erica wouldn't intentionally keep Callie waiting, but the wait unbalanced Callie.  Callie texted Erica "Where R U?"  and layed the phone on the table, obsessively watching for the phone's tiny screen to glow blue, indicating a response. 

Callie skeptically eyed her salad.  She had trekked down to the cafeteria and bought two salads, hers with extra grated cheese.  If she was going to eat lame salad, it could at least taste good.  She wanted to impress Erica with her culinary choice, knowing that Erica, being overly conscious of heart disease, always tried to eat healthy.  Erica even justified her preference for red wine by citing research claiming red wine was heart healthy.  Callie, now slouching in her chair, entertained herself with salacious flashbacks of unabashedly staring at Erica drinking wine.  How Erica's slim, elegant fingers languidly traced the rim of her wine glass between sips, and the sexy blush of Erica's chest (and sometimes cleavage) when she drank alcohol.  Callie unconsciously grinned lasciviously, visions of Erica's chest (and sometimes cleavage) spinning around her filthy mind.   

To complete their romantic lunch date, Callie bought two red roses from the hospital gift shop.  Unable to locate a vase anywhere in the vast hospital, Callie, frustrated, grudgingly settled for the biggest and least ugly water bottle she could find and situated her makeshift bouquet in the center of the faded gray formica table.  On each plastic orange lunch tray, Callie folded a paper napkin into a triangle on which she painstakingly placed the silverware next to the salad.  In her idleness and unease, Callie buffed and shined the fork and knife on her scrub top. 

Callie's empty stomach grumbled ferociously and she quickly clutched her abdomen.  Even her stomach was upset by Erica's tardiness.  Callie's appetite, beast that it was, demanded food.  Callie popped a crouton into her mouth and crunched loudly.

Callie jumped slightly at the sound of the door swishing open.  Erica charged in, her blonde curls blown back, and a worried look on her flushed face.  Erica sighed heavily, "Callie, I'm so sorry!  I got stuck in this valve replacement and..." She finally noticed the romantic lunch Callie had prepared.  "Oh my God, look at this..." Erica quietly marveled, at a loss. 

Callie shot up from her chair, stumbling a bit, and fidgeting with her hands."Uh...yeah!  Salad, right?  Your favorite!"  Callie beamed and pulled Erica's chair out for her, gesturing for Erica to sit.

Erica slowly walked to the table, stunned by Callie's obvious efforts at wooing her.  Erica felt foolish, just assuming they would grab a quick, prepackaged sandwich together.  Erica attempted a joke to disguise how flustered she was,  "But Cal, you don't eat salad."  Callie chivalrously helped push Erica's chair closer to the small round table and then took her own seat, scooting closer to Erica.  "Wow...I can't believe you did this.  I'm so sorry I kept you waiting.  Why didn't you eat?  I feel so bad..." Erica rambled, overwhelmed with guilt.

"Erica, it's fine.  I wanted to wait for you," Callie calmed Erica, gazing into her watery blue eyes.  Yeah, the wait was worth it, Callie realized.  "Alright, I confess.  I did eat a crouton.  My stomach was growling."

"Ah, yes.  The beast," Erica giggled and surveyed Callie's gorgeous face.  "You're too cute," Erica cooed in her smoky, sexy tone, reserved only for Callie, while covertly placing her hand on Callie's knee under the table. 

"Shut up.  You are," Callie purred and leaned in, Erica's delicious mouth her destination.  Erica quickly scanned the room, made sure the door was closed, and met Callie halfway in a sweet, unhurried kiss.  Callie opened her mouth, attempting to deepen the kiss, causing Erica to pull away instantly.  Erica sat back properly in her chair and pulled her hair behind her ears, a nervous habit. 

"What's wrong?"  Callie inquired, confused, her body still angled toward Erica. 

Erica fidgeted with her silverware and couldn't help but employ her authoritative tone, a front she could hide behind when faced with uncertainty.  "Not now...we can't...later, okay?"  Erica nervously cleared her throat, unable to look at Callie. 

Crestfallen and embarrassed, Callie resettled herself in her own chair and looked down at her salad, the salad she didn't even want. "Sure.  Right," Callie mumbled.  She nodded quickly, ashamed. 

Erica's stern front was immediately dismantled by Callie's undeniable heartbreak.  Without hesitating, Erica swiftly replaced her hand on Callie's leg under the table, a little bit higher on her thigh this time, and stretched her neck to catch Callie's eyes.  "Hey, Callie?  I'm sorry.  I really want to kiss you. Believe me.  It's just...anyone could walk in, you know?"  Erica gently explained herself, desperately needing Callie to understand that it wasn't about her or a rejection in any way.  

Trying and failing at  a half-hearted smile, Callie shook her head, wanting to end the conversation. "It's okay." 

Erica knew it wasn't okay.  Callie wasn't good at deceit.  It was one of the things Erica admired about her, loved actually.  While everyone else in the world brazenly lied to your face and dared you to believe them, Callie was incapable of being anything but true and honest, even if it did take some prodding to get it out of her at times.

"I've been thinking about you all morning," Erica shyly confessed, now both her hands squeezed Callie's thigh. "I'm so sorry I'm late."

Callie's hurt melted and she covered Erica's hands with her own, entwining their fingers.  Their eyes locked.  "I can't stop thinking about you either," Callie whispered, briefly looking down at their interwoven hands and their dangerous location on Callie's mid-thigh.  One of Erica's thumbs was tenderly rubbing Callie's inner thigh.  Unconscoiusly, Erica shifted forward, degree by degree, captivated by the exquisite shape of Callie's pouty mouth.  Under Callie's spell, Erica was physically drawn to her, powerless. 

Callie put the brakes on this time, untangling one hand and gently blocking Erica's upper chest, effectively halting her descent on Callie's mouth.  "Erica, anyone could walk in.  Later, okay?'  she teased, brown eyes mischeiviously aflame, playfully imitating Erica's rebuke of just moments earlier. 

Erica's eyes widened, her shoulders slumped disappointed,  and she reluctantly settled back into her plastic chair.  A bashful blush tinted Erica's normally pale cheeks as she picked up her fork and carelessly stabbed at her salad.  Callie unfolded her napkin on her lap before seeking Erica's eyes again.  Both women  smiled instantly, realizing how goofy and clumsy they were with each other.  If love was a dance, they were relearning the steps.

While they casually ate lunch, they chatted about their day and traded gossip, which reminded Erica, "Oh!  Mark Sloan pissed me off earlier!  Jackass. "  Erica murderously stabbed her  fork into a crouton and savagely devoured it. 

"What now?  What did he do?"  Callie chuckled.

"We were in that meeting Richard held earlier and Sloan said something about me and you and our steamy late night gab sessions?  As usual, he as no idea what he's talking about!"  Erica scoffed, almost snorting. Oddly cute, Callie noted.  Erica expected Callie to laugh in agreement, like always.  She glanced over at Callie whose eyes were suspiciously glued to some romaine lettuce, guilt unmistakably written all over her face.

Erica stilled her fork in mid-air.  "Callie...?"

Callie sheepishly pushed a crouton through a mound of dressing.  "What?"  she mumbled, almost inaudibly.

Erica slammed down her fork.  "What have you told him?"  Erica demanded, crossing her arms over her chest.

"Who?"  Callie played dumb, stalling, finally daring to look at Erica. She almost flinched at Erica's trademark pissed-off face and blue eyes focused on Callie with laser beam intensity. "Oh!  Mark?"

Erica hissed slowly, "Torres..." 

"Okay!  Promise you won't get mad?" 

"Too late.  I'm already mad." Erica's anger made her sarcastic. 

"Are you really-"  Callie panicked, grabbing Erica's knee.

"Cal, just tell me!"  Erica insisted, her voice getting louder.  Erica didn't like her voice when it sounded like that, when she didn't feel in control of her own voice.

"Alright!" Callie took a deep breathe.  "I kinda told him about...last night..."

"What?  What did you tell him?"  Erica impatiently urged Callie to continue.  She needed to know exactly how much that snake Mark Sloan knew.

"That we went out for pizza...and talked...and sorta made out in your car for an hour,"Callie came clean, wincing with every word, anticipating the inevitable volcanic eruption from Erica. 

"What?!!?"  Erica's hands covered her mouth in disbelief. 

"Erica, it's fine.  He already knew."  Callie tried to calm Erica, rubbing Erica's shoulder. 

"He already knows?  Knows what? What else does he know?"  Erica's nightmare coming into focus, this was impossibly worse than Erica ever imagined.

"About us...that we kissed.  Well, he saw that part-" Callie stopped herself from giggling, not wanting to increase Erica's already sizable anger. 

"He saw!?!  Oh my God..." Erica put her head in her hands, her elbows on the table, suddenly dizzy. 

"Erica, calm down. It's fine.  He's my friend.  He's not gonna tell anyone if that's what you're worried about."  Callie lovingly massaged Erica's back with one hand and squeezed Erica's knee with her other hand. 

"If he says a word, I swear to you, Callie..."  Erica threatened, still looking down at the table, unable to look at Callie just yet.

"Shhh, he won't.  I'm sorry.  I was just excited about us and I had to tell someone.  You're usually my person, the one I run to with stuff.  But I can't tell you about you.  I can't tell you about this amazing girl I'm really into because, hello, it's you.  I mean, I can tell you how amazing you are, but that might get weird." Callie smiled up at Erica, charming Erica until the tiniest smile finally cracked on Erica's lips.  "I'm sorry, Erica.  Please don't be mad." 

Erica carefully lifted Callie's hand off her knee and rubbed Callie's knuckles with her thumbs.  Erica sighed loudly, unable to be anything but crazy about this girl, this beautiful girl whose perfect mouth was millimeters from her own.  "It's fine.  Just...how 'bout we keep this...between us?  For now?"  Erica suggested, vulnerability seeping through her every pore.  

Callie studied Erica's pretty mouth before answering.   She liked the sound of "us" falling from that pretty mouth.  "Of course.  This is just between us.  Just us."

Their eyes danced together.  "You promise?"  Erica pleaded, biting her lip and holding her breathe. 

"I promise,"  Callie pledged breathlessly, dipping her head to kiss Erica's lips.  Unable to resist, Erica instead slipped her tongue in Callie's warm mouth.  Now their tongues danced.  

Unexpectedly,  the door swooshed open and Mark Sloan slipped into the room, serpentine in nature.  The women immediately broke apart, but not before Mark conveniently caught them connected at the mouth. 

"Oh, I'm sorry.  I forgot to knock," Mark feigned deep regret.  "Am I interrupting?" Mark clumsily plopped down next to Erica at the table and boldly hauled his chair closer to the blonde, purposely, rudely invading her space.  Erica flinched.  She resented that Mark always enjoyed torturing her with his presence, but Erica hated him even more for what he just interrupted.  He possessed a special knack for bad timing.  Her hate infinite, now Erica was further infuriated that Mark had inside knowledge of her and Callie.  Her nemesis now had more ammunition to use against her, causing Erica's blood to boil and bubble in her veins. 

Both women were uncomfortably silent and stared down at their half-eaten salads, two sullen teenagers caught making out.  Finally Erica, who could not abide Mark defeating her, resurrected her resiliant pride. "No, Mark.  As always, your timing is perfect," Erica deadpanned, the underlying message screaming, Fuck you, you fucking douchebag!

Callie loudly slurped her Cherry Coke, gnawed the straw, and witnessed her almost-girlfriend and friend duel with challenging stares. 

"What?  Were you going to feel her up?"  Mark snickered, obnoxiously biting his apple.  Callie winced and cursed his staggering stupidity. 

"And that's my cue. " Erica glanced at Callie briefly before lifting her tray off the table. 

Callie quickly grasped Erica's wrist, keeping Erica in her chair.  "Wait!  Um...I'll see you later?  I'll wait for you?" 

Erica nodded as she stood from the table.  "I'll text you, okay?"   

"Where are we going tonight?"  Mark joked, a shit-eating grin on his chiselled face.  

"We'd invite you, Mark, but then you might show up."  Erica smirked as she turned to leave.

"Funny, Hahn.  Oh!  And nice haircut by the way.  Let me guess.  Are you trying to impress some girl?"  Mark pointed at Callie. 

Erica, quaking with molten lava hate, confidently held Mark's steely gaze.  She defied his challenges to engage in some juvenile war of words.  While sometimes entertaining, she was above all that pissing contest crap she was forced to partake in with male attendings.  Erica privately scorned Mark before switching her eyes affectionatly to Callie.  "I'll see you later, Cal.  Thanks for lunch."  Erica offered Callie one last smile before calmly sliding out the door. 

Callie watched the empty space Erica had just occupied, as if she were still standing there. 

Mark shook his head and laughed raucously at Callie's pathetically lovesick face.  "Awww, Callie..." He almost felt sorry for her. 

Callie snapped back to reality, confused as to why Mark was laughing.  "What?"  

"Wipe the drool off your chin," Mark chided, somewhat coldly.  He'd never seen Callie like this, this far gone over anyone.  He wasn't jealous of either woman, he just couldn't grasp falling for anyone like this.

"Shut up," Callie scoffed, embarrassed, but still self-consciously wiped her chin, just in case. 

Mark eagerly leaned his elbows on the table, ready to gossip.  "So, is she a good kisser?  She's good, right?"  Mark wiggled his eyebrows.  He always had a feeling about Hahn, something inexplicable and enigmatic, yet wildly sexy.  It killed Mark that he would never conquer Erica, so he had to live vicariously through Callie.  If Callie was going to get in Erica's pants, he could at least hear every dirty detail.

"Nope.  Can't.  The me-and-you-talking-about-me-and-Erica is over,"  Callie proudly announced, gathering up her lunch tray and soda.

"What?!"  Mark pounded his fist on the table.  "Don't do this to me, Callie.  You tell me!" Mark pointed his apple at Callie, trying to intimidate her, as much as a man can with a piece of fruit.

"I can't!  I promised Erica," Callie bragged as she stood up from the table.  "It's between us.  Me and her and we're keeping it that way."  Callie defined smitten. 

"I think I just threw up a little in my mouth.  Thank you for that," Mark pouted like a petulant, bratty child denied a shiny new toy.

Callie shrugged helplessly, "Sorry, Mark." 

"Can I at least meet you guys later?"  Mark pleaded, desperation in his voice. 

"Sorry.  It's just us," Callie sincerely apologized and gave Mark a small wave before striding out the door.
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