This new emotional crap was taxing. Erica professed not to like emotional girls, but Erica was all emotion. She was a walking wound. She never used to feel this much. Erica had painstakingly constructed an armor, a fortress around her heart, rendering her invincible to emotional pain. In Erica's previous life she was unattainable, bulletproof, an island. Now she was vulnerable, weeping at pop songs in her car on the way to work. She even bought all of Coldplay's cd's the week before. Who had she become? The crumbling of Erica's armor curiously coincided with the introduction of a certain orthopedic surgeon to Erica's life. Callie brazenly waltzed into Erica's heart and decimated Erica's protective shield, revealing the puddliest, lostest girl inside Erica.
Now Erica was adrift, betrayed and disappointed. Weber was not only ineffectual as a chief, which she always suspected. More horrifically, Weber allowed the cover up of the Izzie Stevens mad-thieving debacle. Erica's life was ruled by this pesky moral code and much to her disappointment, most people on the planet lacked a similar moral compass. Laughably, Erica had asked the chief for advice just weeks earlier, requesting a list on what she could improve on as a teacher. He was more worried about the weather that day. Erica now realized she didn't need him to teach her anything. She possessed an inner strength Weber, or anyone else at this godforsaken hospital, could never dream of attaining.
Was everyone full of shit? Did anyone possess any integrity? Erica trusted Callie would disapprove of Izzie's criminal actions. Erica needed her best friend right now. Moments like these are why best friends were invented. Just the sight of Callie would make it all disappear. Callie's support was Erica's one comfort in this sea of incompetence and lawlessness. They had allegedly reconciled after Callie slept with Mark two days earlier, but they hadn't slept together since, citing conflicting work schedules, but both women knew it was more than that. They were not okay.
Erica was buttoning her pants, her back to the door, too contemplative to hear Callie enter the locker room. Callie halted her steps, unconsciously holding her breathe, savoring Erica's delicious shape. Erica had dark blue jeans on that elongated her already lengthy legs. Erica's tight, red cashmere sweater didn't quite meet her low-slung jeans, exposing a couple inches of Erica's pale lower back. Callie intimately knew and worshiped the body in those clothes and sorely lamented not being allowed in those pants. She was being punished, she knew. Something was amiss in the universe when Callie wasn't allowed to rip Erica's clothes off. Callie's body ached for the body in front of her and Callie battled the reactionary magnetic pull to jump Erica. Callie exhaled and tiptoed towards Erica, ashamed of her newfound stalkerish behavior. "How you doing?" Callie plopped down on the bench, inhaling Erica's perfume. When had she become a girl who sniffed girls?
"Okay. Just tired. My mind won't shut off. I can't wrap my mind around this Stevens mess. Did you hear about that? Can you believe it? Did you have any idea she was that fucked up? She sleeps with other women's husbands AND she's a thief. Real winner, that one." Erica sat down on the bench to put her boots on.
"I know. Well, everyone knows. It's just...you know...everyone's secret, I guess." Callie stuffed her hands under her thighs to restrain them from mauling Erica. Her hands itched to paw Erica. Callie had developed a fetish for fucking a freshly showered Erica, when fucking was allowed.
Erica slowly turned her head to look at Callie. "Everyone knew? Why didn't you tell me?" Erica numbly asked, shock imploding in her chest.
"What? It never came up." Callie shrugged and shook her head in confusion.
Erica leapt off the bench and glared down at Callie. "How could you all let it go unreported?! Wait...you knew and you never told me?!"
Callie jumped up and rubbed Erica's upper arm. "Calm down. We couldn't...you don't understand...you weren't here. She loved Denny-"
Erica yanked her arm away. "What she did was wrong. It was unethical, dishonest, illegal-"
"What she did was wrong, I know, but she did it because she loved him enough-"
"Love?! Right, because you're an expert on loving someone! Thank you for the lesson in how to love, Callie. Does this lesson also include a tutorial on how to sleep with your girlfriend-no, I'm sorry-your best friend-one morning and then sleep with your other friend just hours later not once, but twice? Cause that's love, right?" Erica scoffed in disbelief that Callie was failing her yet again. Callie never failed to fail Erica lately.
Callie faltered back a couple steps, her guilt making her wilt inside. "You said it was okay."
Erica was struggling not to sob, the sob that had threatened her since Callie's Sloan confession. The sob languished in her throat, misting Erica's eyes, a warning sign of the sea of tears waiting to fall. "How could that ever be okay? You honestly think that could be okay with me? That that little bit of information wouldn't kill me inside?" Erica angrily wiped her tears away.
"Then why did you say okay?" Callie timidly asked, crossing her arms over her chest, unknowingly covering her heart. Because it was breaking for her best friend, her one true ally and the one she had stupidly betrayed.
Erica sniffled and wiped the stubborn tears, the ones she couldn't hide anymore. "What was I supposed to say? It was the only way I could keep you, even if I had to share you with Sloan. I was afraid any other reaction would have sent you running back to him, which is the last thing I wanted." Erica's shoulders were shaking with each sob now.
Callie instinctually raised her hand to touch Erica and Erica flinched, causing Callie's hand to halt midair. "Erica, you're not sharing me-"
"Yes, I am. You can't even support me against Izzie Stevens, who you hate. Wow, you must really hate me. You pick your enemy's side over mine." Erica turned to her locker, pretending to be occupied by her already folded scrubs. She just couldn't look at Callie anymore.
Callie neared Erica and talked to Erica's crying profile, everything in her needing to comfort her best friend. Callie didn't know how to fix what she had foolishly broken, Erica. "I'm not taking sides or picking anyone-"
Erica slammed her locker and finally looked at Callie. "You'll pick anyone over me. The thing is, I picked you. Only you. A long time ago. You're never going to pick me." Erica's voice now had a distant, hopeless tone that was jarring compared to her normally smoky, confident tones. The voice that normally peeled Callie's clothes off her body, now chipped away at Callie's heart.
"I said I wanted to be with you!" Callie insisted, her voice shrilling with panic.
"I know what you said, but you're never going to want me the way I want you." Erica shrugged, resigned to the seemingly inevitable demise of their never-started-love story. Erica bent down and picked up her purse and coat off the bench.
Callie reached to grasp Erica's elbow, begging Erica to look her in the eye. "I do! I want you. I want this."
Erica straightened her spine and finally met Callie's gaze. "I don't believe you. Listen to me. I need you to leave me alone. I need you to stay away from me. I can't...this is just...just please stay away from me."
"Wait! What?! Stay away from you!? For how long?" Callie was thunderstruck by a new brand of panic.
"I don't know. Just stay away from me." Erica closed her locker and shuffled out of the locker room, her shoulders slumped, defeat echoing her every step.
Callie watched Erica walk out the door before crumbling on the bench, unable to even cry, her heart leaving with Erica.
Cutting someone out of your life is difficult, especially when that person transmogrifies into a ghost and takes up residence in your own head. Callie needed to ghostbust her head of a tall, blonde ghost. Since her banishment from Erica's life, Callie had become a ghost of herself, merely wafting through her life.
Callie leaned back against the elevator wall, clutching her clipboard and binders to her chest. She hadn't talked to Erica since Erica asked her to leave her alone three days earlier. Callie subsisted on catching glimpses of Erica's curls whizzing around hallway corners or merely staring at Erica's name written on the surgical board. She even rubbed the letters of Erica's name, just to feel close to her, until Bailey scolded her for smearing Hahn's name.
The elevator door pinged open, revealing Callie's ghost. Erica automatically stepped into the elevator until she realized Callie was the elevator's only occupant. Callie and Erica could only stare at each other, wordless. Erica paused in between the elevator doors, before sighing and deciding to enter the enclosed space with Callie, the door sealing shut behind her. Erica offered Callie a small smile and stood a polite two feet away from her former best friend. Both women fearfully stared up at the glowing floor numbers above their heads. Elevator music was designed for uncomfortable moments like this.
Callie dared a glance at Erica out of the corner of her eye. Erica was still pretending to concentrate on the neon numbers. Callie adored how Erica's yellow curls fell away from her upturned face, the sweetest face on the planet. Callie flashbacked to Erica lying underneath Callie in bed, Erica's glistening, post-orgasm face smiling up at Callie, her curls falling around her face, an unearthly halo. How could Callie let that girl go?
"I miss you." Callie heard herself say, her voice hollow and solemn, funereal almost. Her voice echoed in the cavernous elevator, Callie's tones trying to cross the deep chasm to the other woman, the girl of her heart. "The truth is. I miss you so."
Erica concentrated even harder on the neon numbers above her, her steely gaze wavering with the threat of tears. A bubble burst in Erica's chest, and her chin fell to her chest, her yellow curls a convenient curtain she could hide behind. "Callie..." Erica whispered, almost inaudible.
Callie turned to face Erica. Her hand twitched to brush Erica's hair away but she knew that was not allowed. Erica wasn't hers to touch anymore. Callie clutched her binders harder to her chest and stared at the broken girl hiding behind her hair. "Can we please talk? I hate this. I need to see you. Please just...can we please just talk? I should not have let you-"
Erica cleared her throat and interrupted Callie. "I don't think that's a good idea." Erica sounded detached, but her stormy-clouded eyes contradicted her cold tones.
The elevator abruptly halted and the doors hissed open. Erica didn't care what floor it was, she had to escape Callie. Erica barely waited for the doors to open fully before she raced out of the elevator, her head down, her hands stuffed deep into her pockets.
Later that night, Callie's Range Rover fish-tailed and skidded to a violent, screeching stop in Erica's driveway. Callie leapt out of the car, slammed the door, and sprinted up the porch stairs to Erica's front door. Callie pounded on the door and maniacly rang the bell of the darkened, sleeping house. She paused, standing on her tiptoes, to anxiously peer into the window of the door, waiting for a light to turn on, any sign of Erica.
Callie pounded harder, her fist starting to hurt, her index finger aching from pushing the tiny doorbell.
Callie spun around, her head swiveling, crazy coloring her eyes, evaluating her surroundings. Rocks? She could throw rocks up at Erica's window? She might break the window. She had abnormally strong arms. She'd break a window and Erica would really ask her to stay away. A boom box? Did Callie have a boom box in her car? She could crank out some Peter Gabriel and hold the boom box above her head, Say Anything-style! No! No, boom box! A tree? She'd climb a tree and crawl into Erica's bedroom? No trees led to her window and people get arrested for stunts like that.
Callie was pacing the porch, strategizing her bordering-on-illegal schemes to get to Erica, when she heard the front door creak open and a triangle of golden light illuminated the porch. Callie whipped around and spotted a sleepy Erica leaning against the door frame. Erica wore her red flannel pajama pants, an old t-shirt Callie happily recognized as her own, and Erica's favorite gray hoodie, the one Callie always threatened to steal because it smelled like Erica.
"Oh, good! You're awake!" Callie yelled exuberantly, her voice echoing in the still night.
"I am now. Some lunatic was pounding on my door. Do you own a watch? See that moon? That means it's nighttime. It's after three." Erica crossed her arms over her chest and rested her head on the door frame.
Callie's heart swelled watching her love yawn in the doorway, the hallway light behind Erica illuminating her hair and skin, stealing Callie's breathe away. Callie wanted to remember Erica like this always, half- asleep and about to be swept off her feet. Callie approached Erica. "I know! I know. I had to see you. I can't stay away from you. I can't do that anymore. I tried it and I hate it. I gotta tell you what a state I'm in. Look at me. I miss you."
Erica sighed and reached her arm out to start closing the door. "Callie, it's late. You should go."
Callie threw her body in the doorway, startling a drowsy Erica. "No! No. I'm not going anywhere. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry I slept with Sloan. Twice and after you saw leaves. I'm sorry I didn't tell you Izzie's a thief. I keep screwing up. I was just scared. I was so scared that I started looking for excuses for this not to work, for us not to work. I didn't...I didn't want to fall in love with you, but I did. I'm in love with you. I'm so in love with you it terrifies me. I may not see leaves yet, but all I see is you. I've never fallen like this for anyone. I was so overwhelmed by you, by what you meant to me, that I missed the good part. I totally missed the fact that I fell in love with my best friend! What could be more perfect than that? I'm in love with my best friend. I miss my best friend. I am lost without you. I'm so, so sorry that I hurt you. I will do whatever I have to do to make it up to you. I refuse to stay away from you. It's killing me." Callie pleaded, huge, round tears raining down Callie's face.
Erica hugged herself tighter, to keep herself from scooping up the weeping girl in front of her. "It's killing me too," Erica quietly admitted, tears choking her up, her voice cracking.
"Then please forgive me." Callie angled her head, catching Erica's wet eyes. Callie tentatively reached her hand out to tug on Erica's t-shirt.
Erica brushed Callie's hand away. "Cal-"
Callie swiftly caught Erica's hand and clasped it between both of her own hands. Callie knelt down in front of Erica, squeezing Erica's hand. "Please. I want you. Only you. You said you picked me before. Well, this is me picking you. It's always been you. Always." Callie lavished Erica's knuckles with kisses. "I love you. I love you. I love you," Callie groveled between worshipful, reverential kisses.
Erica chuckled and shook her head at Callie's overly-romantic behavior. Probably because it was working.
"Are you over me?" Callie stared up at Erica and crawled closer to Erica, her face nuzzling Erica's stomach. Callie wrapped her arms around Erica's legs. "Please don't be over me."
Erica looked down at Callie and cradled Callie's upturned, worried face. "I'm never going to be over you."
"You're not?" Callie squeezed Erica's legs tighter.
Erica brushed the hair off Callie's face and smiled. She didn't want to smile, but she couldn't help it. "Never."
Callie stood up and snuck her arms around Erica's waist, under her hoodie. Erica gripped Callie's upper arms, keeping Callie at a safe distance. "Please give me another chance. I love you. I'm not scared anymore. I'm only scared that I passed you by. I love you." Callie pulled Erica in tighter to her chest.
Erica's will collapsed at those tiny words, the words she had always dreamed of hearing finally falling from Callie's mouth. Erica wrapped her arms around Callie's neck and purred into Callie's mouth. "I love you."
"Then please forgive me." Callie tilted her head and lightly kissed Erica's bottom lip.
"Okay." Erica licked Callie's upper lip.
Callie yanked her head back. "No, don't say 'okay' again. 'Okay' is not good enough. Say that you forgive me and just fall in love with me again."
Erica brushed the back of her fingers against Callie's cheek. "I never fell out of love with you. And I forgive you."
"Can I come in and start making it up to you?" Callie snuggled Erica closer and snuck her hands under the back of Erica's thin t-shirt, massaging the small of Erica's back. Callie tilted her head to stamp Erica's mouth with the perfect kiss, a kiss that would give them another chance. A sign of all the kisses to come.
Erica kissed her back and unlocked their lips only to whisper, "Come on in."