: After All This Time...
: Bella Taggart
: 3 Years have passed since the day Erica Hahn walked out of Callie Torres's life. When professional life brings them back together, they must figure out how and if they fit into each other's lives, after all this time…
What to expect
: Angst, passion and most of all, love.
: Callie/Erica eventually...
: NC-17 just to be safe
: Through s5e7 (Rise Up)
: Only with the permission of the author
: My special thanks to xxselenexx for doing a great job beta reading.
Please :) You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
: All characters, events, settings and situations mentioned in this work are sole property of their respective owners. As this work is an interpretation of the original material and not for profit, in constitutes fair use. Reference to real persons, places, or events are made in a fictional context and are not intended to be defamatory or factual in anyway.
After All This Time...
By Bella Taggart
A good nights sleep had been all that she needed. Callie had woken up feeling rested and refreshed, feeling hopeful, the way she always felt on sunny mornings of autumn days.
She had washed her hair, gotten dressed, actually cooked an egg and bacon breakfast and walked to work with a skip on her steps. After two very successful surgeries and a picnic on the gardens of the hospital with Mark, Callie felt so good that she feared her day could only go downhill from there. She was standing in the travel section of the neighborhood bookstore looking for possible destinations for Christmas when she was proven right.
Callie reached up to pick up a book on Amsterdam from a high shelf above her head. When she saw that she couldn't reach it on her toes, she found an upside down bucket used as a chair nearby, brought it over, and climbed on top. Just as her fingers grazed her book, the bucket gave way under her feet and she felt herself falling.
Trying to stop herself, she grabbed onto the closest thing she could find, which turned out to be an unstable shelf above. With the force of her touch, the shelf gave way as well, and books started raining on her head as she found herself on her ass trying to shield herself from the onslaught of volumes and volumes of destination guides. Paris hit her squarely on the shoulder and she shrieked in reflex.
When the attack of the books was over, she heard a worried voice behind her.
"Are you okay?"
The voice sounded vaguely familiar, but, too embarrassed to turn around, Callie just lifted up an arm and called out, "fine. I'm fine."
She was angry with herself more than anything. She had literally jinxed herself with her thoughts. Rubbing her shoulder she got up and started clearing up her mess. When she didn't hear the sound of a person moving away, she found herself turning around despite her initial resistance. Obviously, she was going to have to re-assure the woman that she was fine.
When she did turn around, and caught sight of the shell-shocked woman looking back at her, her eyes widened in shock, her breath hitched in her throat, and she gasped.
* * * *
Callie took the two days off work after her run in with Erica. The encounter had disturbed her more than it should have after all this time, and after half a day of trying to convince herself that she was fine and trying to dodge the curious glances of her worried friends, she had given in and brilliantly come up with a fictional wedding she had to attend in New York.
Her father was spending his usual three months before New Years in the family penthouse in Manhattan. Spending time with him and getting pampered by Maria was going to be just what she needed to get back on her feet.
Maria had been with her family for longer than Callie could remember. Wherever her father went, she went with him, taking care of his every possible need, running the everyday managing of all the Torres households. She was irreplaceable and definitely a part of the family. More than 20 years spent together guaranteed that.
Ever since her mother's passing, Maria had become a sort of surrogate mother to Callie and a surrogate wife to her father (in more ways than one, she suspected), but that piece of information was neither volunteered nor asked about. The only resemblance of confirmation of that notion was buried in a fuzzy memory in her head. A memory of seeing her father one Christmas morning, through the snowy window of the winter garden, embracing Maria for a moment too long and of her brushing the hair off his forehead with her fingers, a far too familiar gesture that suggested a greater intimacy than either one ever let on.
Either way, Callie loved her to pieces. And that warm and fuzzy feeling she experienced each time she saw her was going to be essential in making her feel safe again, after seeing Erica. But with great shared affection for one another came great emotion. Callie often found her hard shell of resistance against the world's pressures cracking at one meeting of their eyes. Even in the worst of times, when on her own she could be strong as steel and not shed a tear, the moment she came face to face with Maria, she often found her lips trembling and her eyes filling up.
This time was no different. When Maria saw the unshed tears in her eyes, she gasped and pulled Callie into a fierce hug.
"Chiquita, what happened?" she asked, rubbing her back soothingly. But Callie wasn't able to tell her. She herself didn't know what exactly happened. She ran through the encounter in her head for probably the seventh time that day.
"Erica," Callie gasped at first sight of the blonde surgeon.
They looked at each other in shock for a long silent moment, and then, remembering themselves, both made a move towards each other in politeness. Erica went in for a kiss on the cheek, whereas Callie went in for a hug. Getting their signals crossed they almost found themselves locked in a lip lock. As it was, they ended up in an awkward hug/kiss combination (though the brief upper body contact could have hardly been called a hug and the brushing of their cheeks hadn't involved lips at all).
They both took a step back, as though burned from the contact, and uncomfortably stood around waiting, both for the other to say something.
"Um…what-what are you doing here?" Callie asked finally, forcing herself to sound casual, and failing miserably.
"I meant Seattle."
Callie stood up straighter, trying to regain some kind of decorum.
"Right. Ahhm, work." Erica muttered, almost too quietly for Callie to hear.
"Right." Callie repeated, nodding exaggeratedly like those alarm clocks that hung on walls with stupid woodpeckers sitting on tree barks. Then she realized what she was doing and stopped moving her neck. She gave Erica a toothless smile and looked away, eyebrows knitting in self-loathing.
Another long moment of silence had Callie almost squirming.
The conversation was going nowhere. She was barely able to stand still, let alone remember any of the practiced sentences she had imagined saying to Erica in case she ever saw her again. In her daydreams, Callie had always come off looking extremely cool and elegant when the two of them met. But who had she been kidding, she wasn't cool or elegant. Their first contact in three years and the woman had seen her falling on her ass. She felt like she was in high school all over again, sitting in the back of the class, eating her hair.
And Erica wasn't saying anything to help smooth things. In fact she wasn't saying anything at all. Judging from her monosyllabic answers, Callie realized, she probably didn't even want to speak to her. Callie didn't know why she herself was making an effort at conversation, when she herself felt many different flavors of emotion passing through her stomach. Anger was definitely one of them, longing was another. Thinking that perhaps these feelings were best left buried and that perhaps it was time for her to go, she took a step to the side when Erica's voice stopped her.
"How have you been?" Erica asked softly.
"Great- good, you know, normal." Callie answered in haste, tripping over her own words. "You?"
Then, the inescapable silence took over once again. Frankly Callie was having enough of long silences being divided by small sentences.
"Congratulations." She blurted, saying the first thing that came to mind.
"Your method. I heard you have your own method now..."
"I would have called but-you know…" Callie said uncomfortably, smiling sadly. Somehow finding herself exactly where she didn't want to be in the conversation.
"I know." Erica said, her tone matching her own.
"It's pretty cool actually, two people I've worked with have invented their own methods, have gone down in history." Callie said, words coming out of her mouth without conscience thought. All she knew was that she had to fill the silence somehow.
Defining Erica as someone she simply worked with had squeezed her heart, but it was probably safer than calling her anything else.
"The Shepherd Method, The Hahn Method …I gotta get me one of those." Her mouth continued. "You wanna tell me the secret?"
"Well, I have tried keeping busy, since the last time I saw you." Erica said, her voice heavy with emotion, surprising Callie by mentioning the day she had walked away from her. "Work is good, keeps your mind off things…" she continued, looking at Callie searchingly, her whole demeanor screaming of her need to open that subject of conversation.
Callie might not have known much about Erica anymore, but she could still tell when she wanted to talk about something, and Erica definitely wanted to talk about that day.
Perhaps she needed some kind of closure, perhaps she wanted to apologize; or maybe the opposite, maybe she wanted to push a finger into an old scar just to hurt Callie. It was possible, Erica was a stranger now - anything was possible.
Callie didn't know exactly what Erica wanted to achieve, as she stood there staring at her, but she did know that she wasn't going to give it to her.
When Callie broke eye contact and looked away, her eyebrows knitting together in annoyance, Erica finally changed course. After another moment of silence and a deep breath, she took a lighter tone and said, "You know me, I'm a workaholic."
"I guess some things never change." Erica said, pretending like she hadn't tried prying open what she had almost pried open. But Callie wasn't going to let her get away with it so easily.
"Some things do." She said slowly, looking into Erica's eyes, her own eyes cold.
Something that looked like hurt flashed through Erica's face, and Callie felt herself flinch at the sight of it. But she wasn't going to feel sorry for Erica, she deserved whatever minuscule heart ache Callie's dismissal caused her.
"I know," Erica whispered weakly, sounding resigned, and Callie felt her sudden anger drizzling away.
She hated that when it came to Erica, her emotions ran wild in all directions, changing course without a moment's notice, like living in a constant state of over heightened PMS.
She was about to say something to soften her previous words when Erica abruptly spoke. "Well, I'd better go."
"Oh…Okay," Callie said quietly, feeling better that she hadn't said anything after all.
Then, after another moment, Erica was turning and walking away. Just like that. As quickly as she walked back into her life, she walked out of it, again. And once again she hadn't even granted Callie a proper goodbye. Just left her hanging there, unable to move for long painful minutes.
The whole thing had gone horribly wrong and had been utterly unsatisfying. And to make matters worse, Erica had looked good; perfectly put together, perfectly dressed, and perfectly quaffed. Just perfect. The only difference Callie could see had been her hair. It was longer now, and more golden; shinier even. Life wasn't fair; she was supposed to look ugly. Out of shape and unkempt and even sporting a hunchback perhaps.
"What are you feeling mija
? Tell me," Maria said and Callie was pulled out of her thoughts and back into the older woman's arms.
She considered how to answer that. Yes, she felt frustrated, and yes, somewhere deep inside something hurt, but words to pinpoint her exact feelings were absent in her vocabulary. So she simply shook her head in the woman's embrace, her mouth muffled against her shoulder, and mumbled, her voice breaking even in the single word.
* * * * * * *