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The parking deck was pitch black as Callie, still exhausted from a night of tossing and turning in her hotel bed, attempted to find her vehicle. She had been pacing back and forth for at least ten minutes, pressing the alarm button on her key fob in the hopes that her car would obligingly honk at her. “Damn it,” she yelled, into the silence.
Addison Shepherd emerged from the elevator and drew up short. “Dr. Torres! What are you doing here?”
“Playing hide and seek with my car and apparently I’m it,” she sighed. “You know, you’d think with what they charge for rooms at this place they could replace the light bulbs down here occasionally.”
“I’ll add that to the laundry list of complaints that I’m going to send to the corporate office.”
“Dude, Paris Hilton is the heir to this dynasty. Do you really think they care?” Callie smiled at her.
Addison shook her head, returning the grin. “If I was in a better mood I’m sure I could say something about Paris Hilton and light bulbs, but I’m too tired.”
“Right there with you.” Callie held up her key fob, angrily smashing the button. “And I’m going to be late for work at this rate. And who wants to walk in the rain? Not me!”
“Ride in with me. I’ll help you punish your car later.”
“Thanks! I appreciate it.”
“I could use the company.”
“So what *are* you doing here exactly?”
“George O’Malley sucks.”
“As do his closest friends.”
“Tell me about it.”
“It’s only ten blocks to Seattle Grace. I’d need at least thirty miles to even scratch the surface.”
“So, you kicked Torres out of your house?” Christina asked George, who was flipping through charts at the nurse’s station. “That was pretty low.”
“I didn’t kick her out!” George snapped. “I just suggested that maybe it was too soon to live together. She agreed! Mutual decision! And how did you know?”
“Half the hospital heard you two screaming at each other.”
“There was no screaming.”
“I was in the half that heard it.”
George looked perplexed. “So what if I did?”
“I didn’t kick *you* out when you needed a place to stay.”
“No, you made Burke do it. Remember? The naked?” he asked. “And I wasn’t in your personal bubble.”
“Personal bubble? You made *waffles*! In my kitchen! My bubble ceased to exist!” Christina picked up a chart of her own. “Callie is your girlfriend! If your girlfriend is suddenly homeless then you help her get back on her feet.”
“She stayed a week!”
“A week? Seriously? It can take weeks, notice the plural there, to find an apartment in this town. This is *Seattle*. It’s crowded. When I let my apartment go it was rented out within the hour.”
“And I’ve never officially said that she’s my girlfriend.”
“You’ve just been sleeping with her for -”
“Weeks. That’s just it. Weeks! People don’t live together after a few weeks.”
“Is she seeing other people?”
“But she’s not your girlfriend?”
Callie, who had heard enough of the conversation to feel equal measures of pain and anger, reached around both of them to get a chart of her own. She said, “No. She’s not his girlfriend. She’s not even seeing him anymore. So he’s free to do what he wants.”
Christina exchanged an ‘oh my god’ look with George and quickly hurried off to check the surgical board. George moved closer to Callie, aware that there were several gossiping nurses nearby and he had been gossiped about enough. He spoke to her in a low voice. “Don’t say that. I want to keep seeing you, I just think that we need-”
“To break up.” She scribbled a few notes on the chart and turned to look at him. “It’s okay. I *can* use my words.”
“Callie!” His voice rose in exasperation and he noticed that he was the recipient of several aggravated glances. “All I was trying to say to you yesterday is that we need to slow down. Not stop. Slow down.”
“George, if I were beating you in the head with a stick and it hurt really bad ... would you want me to stop or slow down?”
“Because that’s what being with you feels like. It feels like being bludgeoned to death. And if we ‘slow down’,” she used air quotes. “that just means it’s going to take longer for you to finish me off. So if it’s all the same to you, I’d rather just stop. Come to a screeching halt and walk away with what little bit of pride I still have.”
George was still attempting to process her words. “Being with me is like being bludgeoned to death? Okay, you win. You officially hurt me just now more than Meredith Grey ever did. Congrats. I didn’t think that could be done.”
“Don’t you get it? You hurt me in exactly the same way Meredith hurt you. I wanted to be with you as much as you wanted to be with her and you pushed and pushed and pushed until you finally won. The only difference here is that we weren’t friends first. And we won’t be friends now.” She slammed the chart closed and tucked it under her arm. “I never wanted to hurt you. Never. You’re George O’Malley. The first guy I have ever loved in my entire life. And this thing that I’m feeling? This is the first broken heart I’ve ever had. So, we’re even.”
“Please, Callie-” He tried to grab her arm, but she sailed past him, entering a patient’s room. “Damn it!”
Meredith, who had overheard most of the conversation, patted him on the shoulder and held out her cup of coffee. “Need caffeine?”
“No, Hurricane Callie just gave me a nice wake up call.” He slumped against the counter. “She broke up with me.”
“It appears so.”
“*She* broke up with *me*. The same ‘she’ who claims to love me.”
“George, I’m saying this to you in the nicest way I can. You haven’t really been very lovable where she’s concerned. You don’t say it back and you take it for granted that she’s going to be there only when you want her to be.”
“Are you *trying* to kick me when I’m down?”
“No. But I think you should try to understand what this has been like for her.”
“Since when are you Callie’s best friend?”
“Since she rescued my panties off the surgical board and saved me from being skinned alive by Bailey.”
George groaned. “Those were yours?”
Meredith shrugged innocently. “Maybe you should talk to her.”
“She won’t talk to me. You don’t know her! She can give the silent treatment better than anyone I’ve ever known.”
“Then maybe you shouldn’t *say* anything. Write a letter.”
“No, then she calls me a toddler. ‘Use your words’ she tells me.” He crossed his arms. “You know what? I’m actually relieved that it’s over. I don’t care at all.”
“Great. You’ve grown from toddler to ‘sullen teenager’. I’m so proud of the strides you’ve made toward adulthood.”
George stalked away from her, gripping the chart in his hand far too tight.
No matter how old you got, some things never changed. The hospital courtyard at lunchtime was exactly like high school. Cliques sat together discussing other cliques, but instead of the cheerleaders against the gothic kids ... you had the nurses against radiology or the interns against the residents. Callie normally didn’t mind the courtyard, but as she carried her tray through the sea of scrubs, she noticed George sitting with his usual crowd. She had been heading for the table nearest the wall, which was right next to his. Instead, she turned and started to make her way back toward the only other empty table. Sadly, it had been snatched up by four orderlies who glared at her. Admittedly, she had been rude to two of them earlier, but damn, she’d had one hell of a day.
Sighing with resignation she turned away and held her head up high as she sat down less than five feet from George, amusing herself with her Blackberry. Dining alone was not quite as embarrassing as airing her private business in front of everyone a few hours earlier, but it ran a close second. She was attempting to appear immersed in something on the tiny screen when Addison Shepherd slipped into the seat next to her and smiled. “You. Me. Joe’s. Drinks. Ten.”
“Channeling your inner cave girl?”
“Something like that. I’ve been working with Karev all day. I can actually feel my brain cells dying.”
Karev spoke up from the next table. “I’m sitting right here!”
Callie and Addison both ignored him, never skipping a beat in their conversation. Callie said, “I’m not being the designated driver.”
“You can’t because you lost your car. And you’re getting drunk with me. We’re splitting a bottle of ... something”
“I’m in. And we’re splitting a bottle of Hennessy. A very large, potent bottle of Hennessy.”
“You know, we should split an apartment. You’re at the hotel. I’m at the hotel. And what we’re paying every night there could more than cover the rent.” Addison took a bite of her tuna salad and grinned. “As an added bonus, it may have a garage with working lights.”
“There’s a novel concept,” Callie replied, trying not to appear completely shocked that Addison Shepherd would even consider rooming with her. “I know one thing, I’m getting a nice, springy, pillowtop mattress. I think I’m bruised from that damn lumpy bed. Totally worse than the sofa bed my grandparents think I enjoy during the holidays. I’m going to need a chiropractor after tonight.”
“I’ve had maintenance in my room three times to fix the toilet. I’m so ready to be out of there.”
“Did you know that Chief Webber is in the room next to me?”
“Get out!” Addison said. “You know, I caught him removing his ‘bed’ from his couch the other day.”
“I can top that! He caught *me* dancing in the basement of the hospital. In my underwear.”
Addison’s laughter rang out. “Why were you dancing in your underwear?”
“Because it was hot.”
“Why were you *dancing*?”
“What the hell else is there to do in the basement of a hospital?”
“You’re weird. I like that.”
Callie smiled. “Which is a good thing if we’re going to be roomies.”
“A very good thing.” Addison took another bite of her salad, then began to shake her drink, hitting the bottom of the can against her open palm. “So, we apartment hunt?”
“We apartment hunt.” Callie picked up the newspaper that Addison had on her tray. “My only requirement is a huge kitchen. I love to cook.”
“Good, because I love to eat.” Nodding her head, Addy flipped the cap on the can. The contents spewed all over the place, spraying George and Alex, but drenching Callie and Addison. “Oh goddammit!” Addison cried. “I thought it was chocolate milk!”
Callie’s mouth was partially open from the shock of it. She took one look at Addison who was trying to wrestle napkins from the container and burst out laughing. “I’m weird?”
“Shut up. We’re a perfect match. You can dance around in your underwear after I spill stuff all over you.”
Callie laughed harder than she had ever laughed in her life. She was almost screaming with it. Finally, for the first time, she had met a bigger spaz than she was. And the spaz in question wanted to be her friend.
“So, that was all kinds of weird.” Meredith said to George as they watched Callie and Addison dumping the contents of their lunch trays.
“Yeah. When did they become friends?”
“My guess, from eavesdropping on the entire conversation, was last night when you kicked her out,” Christina said, finishing off the last of her hot dog. “I’m just saying.”
“I did not kick her out!” George snapped. “And did you see how she didn’t even speak to me? I told you! Queen of the silent treatment.”
Alex shrugged. “Well, it makes sense. They’ve both been kicked to the curb. And they’re both too hot for their own good.”
George stared at him. “You think Callie is hot?”
“Dude, do I have eyes? She’s hot. She’s like the strong, hot teacher in school who intimidated the hell out of you, but you would have volunteered to stay after to help her just to keep looking at her.” Alex nodded. “Torres is a prime piece of -”
“Don’t even say it.” George shook his head.
“I’d hit it.” Karev shrugged. “I wonder how I can score an invite to their apartment?”
“You’re a pig.” Christina stood, heading toward the trash can.
“Oink rhymes with boink, baby. I’m the king of both.” Alex took a bite of his hot dog and wiggled his eyebrows at Meredith, who wrinkled her nose at him. “What?”
George sighed. “I’m supposed to scrub in with Chief Webber in an hour.”
“Something good?” Meredith asked.
“Appendectomy.” George shrugged.
“Oooh, Dr. 007 is back in the saddle.” Alex shook his head.
“Heart in the elevator guy. Remember?” George pushed his tray away, the half eaten contents spilling a little. "That was ME."
Alex narrowed his eyes. “You may be the heart in the elevator guy, but at least *I* have a heart.”
George said nothing. He simply stared after Callie, who never once looked his way.
Joe raised his eyebrow when Callie and Addison parked themselves at the bar and asked for a full bottle of Hennessy and two shot glasses. He had seen both of them put back a considerable share of alcohol on more than one occasion, but a full bottle split between them would likely leave them comatose. He filled their shot glasses, but put the bottle back behind the bar. “Let’s just start off with small doses, okay?”
Addison pulled a hundred dollar bill from her purse and laid it on the counter. “We’re calling a cab. We’re staying at the same hotel. And both of our lives suck enough to warrant every last drop of that liquor.”
Joe took a deep breath, sighed, and put the bottle in front of them. “You guys stay where I can see you. I mean it. Stay right here.”
“Aye aye, captain.” Callie saluted him, picked up her shot, and looked at Addison. “A toast?”
“To saving lives even if we can’t save ourselves.” Addison picked up her shot as well, clinked it to Callie’s and kicked it back. It burned all the way down and she gasped. “Holy hell!” she sputtered, grabbing her neck.
“That’s the good stuff.” Smiling, Callie topped their glasses off again. “I miss the burn.”
Addison was still trying not to choke. “That didn’t faze you!”
“I’m good with bones and Hennessy. Both make me happy.” She picked up her glass and smiled. “My turn. Here’s to starting over no matter how much it hurts.”
“I’ll drink to that.” Giving the glass a look of pure disgust, Addison downed it and coughed. “I’m going to need throat surgery.”
“It’ll be numb soon. Everything will.”
Addison sat her glass on the bar and picked up a pretzel. “So, what’s your story, Dr. Torres?”
“Please call me Callie.” Cracking a peanut, Callie shrugged. “And there isn’t much to tell.”
“Where are you from?”
“New York City,” Callie replied.
“Oh my god! I worked in New York for years!”
“I know. I was at Manhattan General. You were at Bellevue, right?”
“What a small world.” Addison ate another pretzel. “Do you miss Manhattan?”
“Nope. Do you?”
Addison shook her head. “I thought I would and I did at first, but Seattle has its perks.”
“The rain. The gloom. The dark skies. Matches my mood perfectly.”
Grinning, Addison filled their glasses for the third time. “To Seattle.”
“Seattle.” Callie downed the shot and removed her jacket. The Hennessy was working and her entire body was heated. Beside her, Addison did the same, laying her jacket over the back of her chair.
The door opened and a gaily laughing Meredith came in, followed closely by George, Izzie, and Christina. Alex pulled up the rear, pausing to hold the door open for one of the nurses who was leaving the bar. Addison practically growled. “He’s an ass.”
Callie glanced at George and nodded. “That he is.”
“I mean, he’s a womanizing slut. But he attempts to be all chivalrous.”
Chuckling, Callie shook her head. “I was talking about George.”
“He’s an ass, too.” Watching as the small group took a table a few feet away, Addy rolled her eyes and filled their glasses for the fourth time. “To being outsiders.”
Callie didn’t lift her glass on that one. Addison leaned closer to her. “Do you really want to fit in with that little clique? Worship Queen Meredith and pretend that we don’t notice that she’s a husband stealing ‘ho?”
“I’ve always been an outsider. How about we drink to finding another outsider to stand on the outside with?”
The fourth shot burned a little and Callie shuddered. “I think I’m starting to get a buzz.”
Addison held out the fifth shot and smiled. “I think I’m starting to black out.”
Joe stopped in front of them, starting at the rapidly diminishing contents of the bottle. He leaned against the bar, studying the two women. “Haven’t you ladies learned that some things are meant to be savored slowly?”
“He’s right.” Callie pulled two fifties from her purse and handed it to him. “Bring us both two shots of rum. The Hen needs to last.”
“Mixing alcohol is bad.” Joe held his palms up, not taking the cash.
“We’re either gonna do it here or somewhere else, Joey,” Callie told him, pushing the money closer. “Captain Morgan.”
Joe turned away grabbing the bottle from the wide array of choices neatly lining the back wall. He placed four shot glasses in front of them and filled each one with liberal amounts. “Pour yourself one, Joe,” Addison said, her voice notably slurred.
With a smile, Joe complied and poured himself a shot. Callie lifted her glass high in the air and said, “To the best legal drug in the world.”
Addison laughed and downed the shot. It shocked her that it didn’t burn in the least. Wordlessly, she picked up the second shot and smiled, her eyes glassy. “And this one, Callie, is for you. My new roommate. My new friend.”
“To friends. Finally.” With a wink, Callie clinked her glass and threw her head back. She promptly fell backwards, off the stool and landed in a heap on the floor. Somehow she had managed to down the shot while she was on her way down and she lay in the floor, laughing.
Addison was doubled over, howling with glee. Joe rushed around the bar, helping Callie to her feet even as he shook his head at George, who had jumped up and rushed toward Dr. Torres. It took three tries to get back on the stool, but she finally made it back and, still laughing, shoved Addison on the shoulder. “Friends don’t let friends fall while drunk.”
“No, but they do give you another drink.”
“I have to pee,” Callie announced, drawing the back of her hand over her mouth.
“Me too.” Addison stared toward the restroom, narrowing her eyes in an attempt to focus. “There are two doors. When did you remodel, Joe?”
“Oh, good lord.” Joe motioned for Bryan, the muscle bound tattooed bouncer, to join them and instructed him to escort the ladies to the restroom.
Bryan had trouble maneuvering the two stumbling, staggering ladies across the room, but enjoyed every second of it.
“Someone needs to do something.” Christina watched as Addison attempted to eat a pretzel and missed her mouth for the fourth time. “They’re going to get alcohol poisoning. I’ve had it. This is what it looks like.”
Meredith held her hands up. “Well, it can’t be me. Addison hates me. I think she’d try to kill me if I got too close.”
Izzie, her chin resting in the palm of her hand, said, “What exactly did you do to Callie, George?”
“Tossed her out on her ass,” Alex said, his eyes fixed on Callie, whose head had been resting on the bar for five full minutes. “Dude, I think Torres passed out.”
George put his beer bottle down and stood. He had seen enough. “I’m going in.”
Karev stood as well. “I’ve got your back.”
While Alex attempted to strike up a conversation with Addison, George sat down next to Callie and put his hand on her shoulder. When she didn’t respond, he pushed her hair out of the way and leaned closer. “Callie? Are you okay?”
As if her head weighed a hundred pounds, she eventually raised it enough to look at him. “You don’t get to ask me if I’m okay. You did this to me.”
“I’m sorry,” he said softly. He pushed the shot glass back toward Joe and shook his head. Joe gave him a slight nod and put both glasses behind the bar, then slowly moved the almost empty bottle. George shifted his hand a little, settling it on the back of her neck. “I’m very sorry, Callie.”
“Get away from her,” Addison slurred, shooing his hand away. “Did you ask Meredith and Izzie if you could come over here? They keep you on a short leash.”
George looked past her, at Alex, imploring him to distract the red head again. Alex complied, looking frazzled by the task. Callie had lowered her head back down and George moved a little closer, speaking softly against her ear. “Come home with me? You don’t need to be alone.”
“I’m alone even when I’m with you, George.” She turned her head a little so she could look at him, oblivious to the tears that coursed down her cheeks. “You have no idea what it’s like to love you. It hurts. It hurts so much.”
Staring into her out of focus eyes was unnerving, but he persisted. “I know. I hurt you, but I didn’t mean to.”
She lifted her head again, reaching for her glass. “Where’s my drink?”
“You’ve had enough.” He took her hand.
“I have had enough. More than enough.” Her voice raised and she jerked away from him, sliding off the stool. “I’m not doing this anymore! Go back over there and sit with your precious family and leave me alone.”
Addison hopped off her stool as well, grabbing her coat, then Callie’s. She looked at George, her face full of rage and opened her mouth to speak. Nothing would come out.
So she stuck her tongue out at him.
And flipped Meredith a bird.
The first thing Addison noted when she woke up was that her tongue was glued to the roof of her mouth. She grimaced and finally worked it loose. The second thing she noticed was that she was lying in the floor of her hotel room, halfway between the bathroom and the bed, and she wasn’t exactly sure what she was doing there. Slowly pushing herself upright, she glanced at the clock on the end table and groaned. She was officially late for work and to make matters worse, her head was
screaming in pain with every movement she made.
Yes, it was going to be one hell of a day. Literally.
She had showered and changed into a ratty, but comfortable sweat suit when a knock sounded at her door. She gave up trying to put makeup on because her hands weren’t steady (and her head hurt too much to be decorated anyway) and pulled the door open. Callie stood on the other side, wearing a pair of jeans, a long sleeved T-Shirt that said, "Bitch, please", and her hair had been hastily secured in a ponytail. She looked exactly the way Addison felt and Addy smiled at her. "Come in."
"I’m visiting you as a corpse. I’m pretty sure I died." Pulling out one of the chairs, Callie fell back into it. "As an added bonus, we’re late for work. And the coffee machine in the lobby is broken."
"I don’t have any patients today anyway." Addison slumped in the seat across from her. "What was I going in for again?"
"We’re supposed to be giving pep talks to the little interns. Remember? All the residents and attendings are spending the day talking about our first year as interns and telling everyone what a great job they’re doing." Callie sighed and massaged her forehead. "Not one of Webber’s greatest ideas by a long shot."
"You and I should not be called upon for morale boosting of any kind." Addison sat across from her and shook her head. "I feel like I got hit by a big truck. A truck laden with alcohol."
"Not one of your greatest ideas either, huh?"
"No, I’m glad I did it. I’m pretty sure, unless I dreamed it, that I gave Meredith Grey a one fingered salute."
"And I’m pretty sure that I let George see me cry which is the most humiliating thing I can imagine."
"Don’t worry about it. He’s an idiot."
"Yeah." Although she nodded her head in agreement, Callie’s tone was anything but convincing. "That he is."
Addison studied her for a second, unsure of what to say. "On the plus side, I got a call earlier about an apartment on Riverside. That’s just six blocks from the hospital and it’s in a new building. We can see it this afternoon."
"Ooh, I’ve seen that building. It’s nice."
"Things are looking up."
"You know, when people say things like that the bottom usually falls out."
"Let it. We’re not technically on duty." Addison stood and grabbed her purse. "Well, we may as well get this over with."
Callie begrudgingly rose as well and she dreaded the inevitable story that she would be telling in a few short hours.
A small crowd had come together in one of the biggest auditoriums at Seattle Grace. It was a room often used for Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and the area was used for the Christmas party each year. Easily big enough to accommodate up to one hundred seats, there was also a stage on one end. Sitting upon the stage were Chief Webber, the attendings, and the residents. There was also a big screen just to the right of the podium that could be used for Power Point presentations to accompany the speeches that were being made. At the moment, there was a lull in activity and the people in the audience were using the time for idle chatter.
"But you made sure that they got home safely, right?" Meredith asked Alex, who was fidgeting in his chair.
"For the last time, yes. I took Torres to her room and waited until she had flopped on the bed and then I took Shepherd down the hall and left her in her room." Alex sighed and closed his eyes. "How much more of this crap is there?"
Christina was studying the agenda for the day and checked her watch. "Five more hours. You know what? We’re interns. We should be out there learning instead of listening to this crap."
"I enjoyed what Derek had to say." Meredith glanced up at the stage, where Derek was involved in a serious discussion with Chief Webber.
"Of course you did." George glanced down at his own agenda. "Callie is supposed to speak after Dr. Montgomery-Shepherd."
"Who was supposed to go on five minutes ago. They’re alcohol poisoned. I’m telling you." Christina glanced at her watch again and brought the subject back around to the current problem at hand. "I don’t get the reasoning behind this assembly. I mean, most of us know exactly what branch of surgery we want to go into. We don’t need to hear from everyone why *they* chose a certain field."
"I don’t know," George told her, his thumb absently tracing Callie’s name on the paper. "I think it’s nice that they’re taking time to do this. I mean, hearing Dr. Shepherd talk about his father’s brain tumor and how that impacted his goals was pretty intense."
"And that’s all I’m saying," Meredith said. "And Dr. Bailey’s speech was pretty incredible. Who knew that she had overcome so many obstacles in her life to get here."
"Poverty isn’t fun," Alex said, his eyes still closed. He had his hands behind his head and had stretched out, but as always, he was listening closely to the conversation around him. "I hope that one day she is able to help at the free clinic like she wants."
When no one responded, he opened his eyes and glanced around him, noting the looks that the others were giving him. "What? I can, on occasion, say something nice. Granted, it’s painful, but it can be done."
Christina rolled her eyes and glanced at Meredith. "So, have you picked a man yet?"
Meredith smiled, her eyes meeting Derek’s as he nodded at her. "No," she replied. "But I think I’m close."
There was a flurry of activity on the left side of the stage and Addison appeared, looking harassed and out of sorts. Callie followed in her wake, pulling her white medical jacket over her street clothes. Even if there had not been witnesses to the level of their intoxication the previous night it was plain to see that both ladies were hung over and were in no mood to be there. Callie slid into the seat next to Addison and crossed her arms over her chest, scowling at the crowd.
Chief Webber stood and headed toward the microphone. "Well, as you can see, even our beloved attendings and our residents are often times late." He turned and nodded at the women. "Dr. Montgomery-Shepherd, I believe the floor is yours."
Addison glanced at Callie, who gave her an animated thumbs up before slumping back into her seat. With a look that could only be likened to biting into a sour pickle, Addison stood behind the microphone and took a deep breath. "My name is Dr. Addison Montgomery," she began, purposely leaving off Shepherd. "And I’m in the OB/GYN program here at Seattle Grace. The main reason I chose that field was because I lost my mother to cervical cancer when I was nine years old. When I was nineteen, my sister gave birth to a stillborn baby and I decided that I wanted to make a difference."
Somehow she managed to fill her hour with talk about the importance of women’s health and how difficult it had been for her to survive her first year as an intern. She rounded out her speech by telling the interns that it was a pleasure working with them and managed a smile as she thanked everyone for their time. The applause she received cut through her head like a saw and she moaned as she slumped down next to Callie.
"Great job," Callie deadpanned. "That moved me so much I could just shit."
"Bite me," Addison told her, but smiled.
Chief Webber went back to the podium and glanced out over the crowd. "I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Torres recount her experience as an intern last year. The two of us went to a local high school for career day and she was actually the inspiration I had for doing this. I think her story is important and triumphant and we could all learn something from what she has to say." He turned and looked at Callie. "You ready?"
Callie nodded, took a deep breath, and made her way toward the podium. Chief Webber was waiting for her. He covered the mic and said, "Are you okay? You sure you can do this?"
"Yes and yes." She nodded and he patted her on the arm and returned to his seat.
She swallowed hard and turned to address the crowd, looking everywhere but at George and his friends. "Well, he certainly didn’t put any pressure on me or anything." The comment drew the expected chuckle from the audience and she used the time to collect her thoughts. "When I graduated college I had no clue what I wanted to do or where I wanted to do it. New York City was the only home I had ever known and while I had gone as far away as I could to school, it just seemed right to go back there and try to make a difference. It didn’t hurt that my boyfriend was there, either."
The crowd laughed again. She gripped the podium a little tighter. "Even though I know Manhattan like the back of my hand, I somehow got lost the morning that my internship began. I showed up fifteen minutes late and naturally my resident decided that screaming at me in front of all the other interns would teach me a valuable lesson. As you can see, it didn’t. I’m never on time for anything. Actually, now that I think about it, that could be why.
"Anyway, my resident gave me the worst job she could find and I remember looking at the clock at one point. It was seven forty five in the morning and I had been there about half an hour and I wanted to quit. I wanted to quit more than I had ever wanted anything in my life. I went into the bathroom and I called my boyfriend and I told him that waitressing wasn’t really that bad of a job and I was pretty good at it. He told me to get over it and get back out there. His exact words were ‘You have to go where you’re needed.’
"I did. I was basically put on candy striper duty and escorted two patients who had been discharged to their car. I was on the third discharge of the morning, standing under the awning in the parking lot, waiting for the woman’s husband to bring the car around when it happened. A plane flew right over the hospital and it was so low that the ground shook beneath my feet. I looked up in time to see it bank to the left and right before my eyes it slammed into the side of the World Trade Center. Yeah, my first day as an intern was September 11, 2001. At Manhattan General. And I had just witnessed the first strike in a terrorist attack."
The audience gasped. She ran a hand over her face as if she were trying to erase the image, then gripped the podium again. When she spoke again, it was like a movie playing in her head as she relived it. "It was eight forty six in the morning. I had been a ‘doctor’ for an hour and eight blocks from me hundreds of people were wounded, dying, and I didn’t have a clue what I could do to help. The woman that I had escorted out of the building jumped out of the wheelchair and into her husband’s car, screaming at the top of her lungs, and I just stood there, staring up at that fiery building trying to process what I had just seen. I stood there for what felt like forever. I didn’t know if I should run into the hospital or away from it. Two of the other interns came out, they had been shooed out of the ER, which was bracing for the unthinkable so I stood there with them.
"My cellphone went off a few minutes later. It was my mom. She was at work and wanted to make sure I was aware of what was happening. She told me that she could see everything from where she was and that she was certain a sight seeing helicopter had hit the tower. I assured her that it wasn’t. I remember that she laughed at me when I told her that it was a commercial airliner. She actually laughed."
She exhaled and I noticed that her breathing was shaky. Her heart was pounding in her chest and she closed her eyes for a second. When she spoke again, her voice was full of emotion and cracked over the words. "When the second tower was hit at two minutes after nine, I lost the connection with my mother. It was direct hit on the floor where she was working as an investment banker. I didn’t know that at the time, but I knew it in my gut. I watched it.
"I turned my phone off. I turned it off and made a decision." You could have heard a pin drop in the room. Everyone was staring at the stage, at Callie, with shock. "The first of the victims began to arrive and I walked back into the emergency room, took a look around me, and I became a doctor. I became the doctor that my mother had worked so hard for me to be. I don’t know if it was shock or grief that woke up what was in me, but everything I had learned at school came rushing back in that instant and I jumped in and worked relentlessly to save the people who were pouring in.
"Not long after the second tower was hit our emergency room was filled to capacity. Every doctor was busy, every intern was puking or pitching in, and my resident turned and looked at me and told me to go outside and oversee the makeshift infirmary that was being set up in our parking lot. I don’t know what she saw in me that made her give that task to me, but I did as she asked and I sent true emergencies through the doors and did what I could to help the people who weren’t critical, but were scared to death.
"I watched the towers fall from the parking lot, knowing that my mother was there. The debris reached us and there was a billowing cloud of dust that choked you for so long that you didn’t think it would ever clear. Somehow I got through the next thirty hours in a fog. I had seen third degree burns, amputations, cuts that were deep enough to expose vital organs, people who were missing most of their faces, brain injuries, premature babies, heart attacks, and just about any other traumatic injury that can be done to the human body.
"When my shift ended I realized that, unlike most interns, I hadn’t gotten sleepy, I hadn’t eaten, I hadn’t had more than a few sips of water, and I didn’t want to go home. Ever." She brushed a tear from under her eye and paused, trying to pull herself together. "We had gotten word that most of the local firemen were trapped in the buildings when they collapsed. My boyfriend, Brent, had been a fireman for seven years. It was supposed to be his off day, but I knew him. He would go where he was needed. I went to the roof of the hospital and stared out at the vacant skyline and the smoke that was still drifting upward from the piles of metal and concrete and I turned my phone back on. There were no messages. He would have called me if he was okay.
"Eventually I did go home and like the rest of the country I sat in front of the television and hoped that someone, anyone, would tell me something about my mom or about Brent. It was a relief to go back to work and on my first day back I made a decision. I was going into orthopedic surgery. Most surgical interns have a fascination with what a human can endure and still survive. Me? I wasn’t fascinated anymore. I had seen it all. People rarely die from broken bones and in thirty hours I had seen enough death to last me an eternity. I chose what most people consider a light field, but I didn’t care. I wanted my patients to wake up and thank me for a new ankle or a new hip or a new rotater cuff. I didn’t want to lose another soul.
"People often ask me why I left New York and it’s pretty simple. The skyline wasn’t the only thing that had changed. I lost my family. I was an only child who was raised by a single mom and it wasn’t my home anymore. I finished my internship there and then moved as far away as I could possibly go and still be on the same continent. I try not to look back, but sometimes it’s hard. See, when something like that happens and you’re thrown into something so extreme, you tend to move through your life at ‘warp speed’." Her eyes found George’s and held. "I move through life so fast and I say and do things that most people find shocking, but I know what it’s like to live with not saying the important things and never getting the chance to. I didn’t tell my mother goodbye. I didn’t tell Brent that I loved him.
"What I did do was make it my goal to listen to my patients and tell them the truth. I’m not sorry that I had such a horrific experience because it made me who I am today. And today I am grateful that I’m standing here, able to tell you that each and every one of you has made a difference at Seattle Grace and wherever your medical career takes you, you’re going to save lives and change lives. I’m proud to work with all of you. Thank you."
She stood at the podium for a second, long enough to realize that she had received a standing ovation. She nodded in thanks and turned away, walking off the stage and out into the corridor where she let the tears finally fall.
"Oh my god," Meredith said, standing next to George as she watched Callie leave the room. "Can you imagine being right there at ground zero on 9/11? That explains so much about her."
"Yeah," George nodded, stunned by what he had just heard. He pushed past Christina and Alex and jogged out of the room. He saw Callie duck into the women’s room and cursed under his breath. After ten minutes, he pushed the door open and said, "Callie?"
She was at the sink, washing her face and glanced at him as he entered. "You are aware that this is *still* the ladies room, O’Malley?"
"Yes, ma’am," he replied, but didn’t stop walking. He stopped in front of her, studying her face, then hugged her.
"What are you doing?" Callie snapped, stiffening. "Get off me."
He held firm and said, "I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said those things to you about moving at warp speed and I shouldn’t have made a big deal about you staying with me. I - I was just scared of the way I feel about you."
"No. It’s my turn to talk. You told me to use my words and here they are." He moved back a little so he could look her in the eyes. "I want to be with you. I knew it the second you moved out. I didn’t want to need you or to fall for you or to want you as much as I do, but I do, Callie. I do. I know that I keep messing things up, but I want to fix it. Let me? Just give me one more chance."
Her heart, which had been pounding so hard in her ears that it was deafening, seemed to calm in her chest. His words were like a balm over her soul, soothing the past that she had dredged up, and promising everything she could have wanted. Her initial reaction was to fling herself into his arms and hold on tight, but the impulse was curbed when Alex poked his head in the bathroom and said, "George, you better come out here."
"Meredith’s mom was just brought in and she’s freakin’ out."
George looked back at Callie, who was watching him closely, and said, "I have to go. But I want to talk to you about-"
"Go," she replied, cutting him off. "And ... my answer is no."
"You asked me to let you fix it. You would have to give me more than five minutes of your time to fix it and since I’m not now, nor will I ever be, worthy of more than that to you ... my answer is no. This was your chance, George." She took a deep breath. "And you have to go. So do I."
"Wait." He caught her arm as she moved past him.
She yanked free from his grip. "I’m done waiting! All you do is keep me waiting! But never Meredith. Never Izzie. I know when I don’t stand a chance! I know when to give up. Goodbye, George."
She brushed past Alex, who had witnessed the entire exchange. Alex glanced at George and shook his head. "Whew. I thought she was going to punch you."
"It probably would have hurt less." He took a second to gather his wits. "What’s wrong with Meredith’s mom?"
"She fell. They think she has a broken hip, but she’s talking out of her head, saying stuff to Chief Webber that makes even *me* blush."
George resigned himself to the fact that his love life was in code red and would remain that way terminally, then went into the hallway, where Meredith was pacing back and forth wringing her hands. He put his arm around her and led her away from the chaos that was surrounding Ellis Gray and more specifically, the insanely naughty things she was saying to the Chief. At the vending machine, he bought them both a cup of coffee and stood off to the side as Derek emerged from Ellis’s room and walked toward Meredith. "How bad is it?" she asked, her eyes red and swollen.
"Dr. Torres is staying to go over the x-rays and we’re giving your mom some sedatives and pain killers. It should calm her down."
"Don’t you mean quiet her tongue?" Meredith sniffled. "Oh god. I’ve become my mother. She had an affair with Chief Webber and I had a prom night affair with you. And this? This humiliation and everyone finding out about it? This is my punishment."
"I don’t think that’s true." Derek hugged her. "And I don’t really care if everyone finds out about us. What we had wasn’t an affair to me. I love you and I was a fool to let you get away for a second."
"Yeah, you really were." She leaned her head against his shoulder. "The entire hospital now knows that my mother was in love with the Chief. They’re going to think I’m here because of that or that I’m just-"
"Everyone in this hospital knows that you deserve to be here and that you’re one hell of a doctor, Meredith." Derek smiled down at her. "You’re one hell of a woman. And your mother is going to be fine."
Callie walked down the hallway toward them, carrying Ellis’s chart. She pointedly ignored George and cleared her throat, waiting for the couple to break apart. To Meredith, she said, "Your mother didn’t break any bones, but she did dislocate her hip. I can put her under general anesthesia to do the reduction, but I’ll need you to sign the consent form."
She held the form and chart out to Meredith, who took it and said. "Aren’t you off today?"
"I was. But the other ortho is in surgery already." Callie watched as she scribbled her name on the form. "Do you have any questions?"
"Will you use the Allis Technique or the Stimson Maneuver?" asked Meredith, referring to the two most common types of treatment for dislocation of the hip.
"Because of the way the joint has slipped I believe that the Stimson Maneuver will be our best bet. Your mother will need to stay in the hospital for about two weeks on strict bed rest and we’ll have skeletal traction in place to keep the leg at the proper angle for precise healing." Callie accepted the chart and permission slip back and nodded at her. "It should only take a few minutes once we get everything going and I’ll be back out to talk to you."
"Thank you, Callie." Meredith reached out and squeezed her hand. "I’m glad you’re here."
"You’ll need an intern." George fell in step beside Callie, who was in full doctor mode, as she walked back toward the patient’s room. "I’d love to-"
"You’re right." She paused, staring at Alex. "I know it will devastate you to hop off gynie brigade, Karev, but I need you to scrub in."
"I’m not on duty for three more hours." He shrugged. "But George is willing to help."
"Christina?" Callie asked, glancing at the dark haired girl. "You up for it?"
"Oh, if it will save me from the rest of the speeches, I’m all over it." Christina rubbed her hands together in anticipation. "I’m in."
"Callie!" Addison called, jogging down the corridor. "I’ve been looking for you all over the hospital! Are you okay?"
"No, but that’s not new to me. I’d think something was very wrong if I *was* okay."
"Right there with you. Listen, are you ready to see the apartment?"
"Oh, damn it!" Callie cried. "It’ll be about an hour or so. Medicine calls."
"Crap!" Addy replied. "I didn’t want to go alone. The landlord was a little creepy on the phone."
"Today is your lucky day, doctor." Alex extended his arm toward her. "I am more than happy to resume my rather short lived career as male escort to your drunken or, in this case, hungover female physique."
Callie grinned at Addison. "That’s ‘desperation calling’ in case you were wondering."
"I’m answering that call." Addy looped her arm through Alex’s and said to Callie, "Meet me for dinner at the Archer when you’re done and I’ll tell you all about it."
"I’ll be there with bells on."
"Now there’s a nice visual." Alex wiggled his eyebrows at her and led Addison down the hall.
"So, what do you want me to do?" Christina asked, practically bouncing on the balls of her feet.
"I want you to go find me the biggest cup of black coffee you can get your hands on and then meet me back here to review the x-rays." She watched as the eager intern turned on her heel and headed toward the cafeteria, then put Ellis Grey’s chart back outside her room.
"Thanks for doing this," George said, following her back to the light panel, where she had left the x-ray images. "It means a lot to Meredith and to me."
"Self centered, much? I’m not doing this for you or for Meredith. I’m doing it for that woman in there who happens to be in pain. I’m doing it because it’s my job. And just so we’re clear, nothing I do from this point on is in any way, shape, or form meant to impress you. I’m over trying."
"Everything you do impresses me. I’m impressed."
"Stop!" She flipped the lights on and studied the films again, the bright light causing deep pain to shoot through her head. "I take back what I said. You and words? Not so much. I don’t want to hear anymore. I’m this close to ramming a scalpel in my ear to drown you out!"
"Who’s being the toddler now?"
"George, I’m going to say this as gently as I can. I didn’t go into orthopedics just because people rarely die although it was a huge part. I went into it because I get to break bones. Legally. If you keep speaking to me then I’m going to miss dinner with Addison because I’ll be here setting every one of the bones that I break of yours. So, listen to that little voice of self preservation inside you and go away."
"Fine. I’ll go. But I *will* be back."
"Thanks for the warning."
"What do you think?" Addy asked Alex as she walked from the living room of the empty apartment to the kitchen. "It’s nice, right?"
"Not for what they’re asking." Alex opened a closet and peered inside. "You should try my building. It’s four blocks over and the rooms are about three times this size and it’s hundreds less. Plus it’s a gated community which is important for women who live alone."
"Careful, Karev, you keep talking like that and you’ll have to resign as president of the male chauvinistic pig society."
"You wound me," he replied, laying a hand over his heart. "I was only ever treasurer of the male chauvinistic pig society and I’ll have you know that I was forced to resign when you decided that I was your personal vagina intern."
"You will never get personal with my vagina."
He smiled at her, cocking his head to one side. "The lady doth protest too much."
She simply stared at him. Finally, she said, "Like you know Shakespeare."
"I hate to ruin your very narrow minded perception of me, but yes, I do know Shakespeare. And contrary to what you or anyone else thinks I also know how to treat women."
"It’s the plural of women that do you in, Karev. Ever think about picking one and remaining committed?"
"Right now I’m thinking pot, kettle, black."
She narrowed her eyes. "This isn’t about me. It’s about you."
"Really?" He slowly moved across the room and she backed away from him. When her back was against the wall, he braced his arms on either side of her head. "Who should I pick? Anyone in particular? Anyone begging for it?"
She licked her lips, watching as his tongue danced out as well, mirroring her movements. When he ducked his head and kissed her she pulled him closer, even though her mind was screaming at her to push him away. The things he did with his mouth caused her toes to curl in her sneakers and when he threaded his fingers through her hair, tugging her head back and deepening the kiss, she actually moaned.
Someone knocked at the door and she jumped, her eyes popping open as the moment was broken. She shoved him away and yanked the door open, staring at the rotund, cigar puffing landlord on the other side. "So, do you want it?" he asked her. "Because I have someone else scheduled to view it in twenty minutes."
"No," Alex replied when she simply stood there, looking like a deer frozen in headlights. "But thank you for your time."
He took her hand and pulled her along behind him, smiling when she didn’t wrench free of his grasp. Once they were back inside her car, she sat behind the wheel, staring at the concrete wall of the parking deck in front of them. He cleared his throat and smiled, "It’s okay, many a woman has been left speechless when I turned on the charm like that."
She turned her head very slowly toward him, her eyes narrowed. "Are you going to tell me how to get to your apartment or what?"
He told her.
They arrived less than ten minutes later and he gave her the code for the gate. He pointed out an open house and two vacant apartments, expecting her to pull in next to them. Instead, she asked, "Where’s *yours*?"
They were kissing again before the door even closed all the way. He pushed her back against the wall and kicked it shut behind them, then unzipped the jacket of her jogging suit, shoving it over her shoulders. Stepping back, he hooked his fingers under the tight black tank top that she wore underneath and slowly inched it upward, revealing her milky white skin one delicious inch at a time. She wasn’t wearing a bra and he grinned at her as her breasts were freed from the confines of the shirt. Lowering his head, he captured one of her rosy nipples in his mouth as he pushed the shirt up over her arms.
She tilted her head back and he kissed a path up her neck, stopping at her ear lobe where he gently nipped her flesh and whispered, "You’re beautiful."
"I’m already seduced, Karev." She yanked his shirt apart, sending a spray of buttons flying across the room and smoothed the palm of her hand over the contours of his chest. "So shut up."
He felt her run her foot up the side of his leg and caught her behind the knee, drawing her leg up over his hip. He pressed against her, letting her feel that he was very much in the seduced category as well, then hungrily devoured her mouth. Without another word, he lifted her, urging her legs around his waist as he made his way to his bedroom and let her drop backwards on the bed. He made quick work of her shoes and socks then jerked her pants over her hips, pausing only to bite her pelvic bone as he eased his fingertips under the lacy strings of her panties and slid them down.
"Look at that," he said, a smile tugging the corners of his lips as he let his thumb dance over the ‘landing strip’ of curl between her legs. "You really are a red head."
"I’m the original firecrotch," she told him and gasped when he lowered his mouth to her center. Within minutes, her back was arched, her hands were gripping the cover of his unmade bed, and she was crying out her release.
He stood, enjoying the view as she rode out the waves of her pleasure. He toed off his shoes and discarded what was left of his shirt, then unbuttoned his pants and kicked them across the room. Grabbing a condom from the nightstand, he quickly put it on, and joined her on the bed, kissing every inch of her as he slowly climbed her body. When they were eye to eye, he said, "Look at me."
She complied, her gaze resting on his. He entered her then, slowly, tenderly, and she felt her body, the same body that was so thoroughly sated just moments before, reawaken with white hot need. She hooked her heels behind his legs and pushed her hips up against his. He took the hint and pulled back, slamming roughly into her several times. It shocked her how well he seemed to fit, how well he knew her body, and when her second orgasm hit, she yelled his name.
Hearing his name rolling off her tongue in a husky, hoarse cry threw him over the edge. With her hair fisted in his hands, he came, stiffening over her before collapsing fully on top of her. He could feel her heart pounding against his, feel her heavy breaths against the crook of his neck, and he smiled, dropping a lazy kiss on her shoulder.
"Oh my god," she whispered. "You actually do know how to treat women."
"Are you rethinking your earlier statement?"
"I’m available to be your personal vagina intern any and every time you need me."
She smiled. "I’m not my husband. I don’t sleep with interns."
He lifted his head and grinned down at her. "Sleeping isn’t exactly what I had in mind, so you’re good. Very, very good now that I think about it."
She pushed him off her and he slipped to one side, watching as she stood. "Don’t fall for me Karev. That’s one complication that I don’t need."
He watched her walk, naked, into the bathroom. "It’s a little too late for that," he mumbled softly, listening to the sounds of running water.
She finished washing up and emerged. "Your apartment really is nice. The bathroom is bigger than Derek’s entire trailer. How exactly do you afford this?"
"My grandfather died and left me some money. I think he meant it as an apology for the fact that his bastard son had tormented me for years." Alex shrugged. "Paid off my medical loan and will keep me out of the homeless shelter until I can start a practice of my own."
"Some other time." He slipped from the bed as well and went into the bathroom to discard the condom. When he emerged he found her dressed and sitting on the edge of the bed. "So, what happens now?" he asked in a soft voice.
"I don’t know."
"I have an idea."
"I’m suddenly scared."
He sat down next to her and playfully nudged her with his shoulder. "How about I give you the grand tour of the apartment complex and you pick up a couple of brochures to show Dr. Torres and then you say yes when I ask you if you want to have dinner with me tomorrow."
"You’re asking me to dinner?"
"You’re the one who told me to pick one woman and remain committed."
"I didn’t say to pick me!"
"But you’re oh so ripe for the picking."
"I have baggage! Tons and tons of excess baggage."
"I was a bellboy for years. I know how to handle baggage."
"That’s a start."
"Okay, but that’s *all*."
"Right. But I pick the dessert."
"You called me Alex when you came."
"I hate you," she said, but she smiled.
Addison was already seated at the Archer Restaurant when Callie, who had showered again at the hospital and had given up trying to fix her hair, pulled out a chair and flopped down. The two women exchanged equally pathetic looks and both picked up their menus. "On the plus side," Callie said, not bothering with a greeting as she scanned the dinner choices. "This day actually does have to end. It has no choice."
"How did your surgery go?"
"Meredith’s mother dislocated her hip. I fixed it. Non invasive."
"And I broke up with George. Seriously broke up with him. Like, so seriously that I threatened bodily harm."
"I slept with Alex," Addy blurted, then clapped her hand over her mouth.
Callie had been sipping water. She choked and gasped, grabbing her nose as the cold water painfully shot through it and she positively howled with glee. Her laughter drew several glances in their direction, but she didn’t even try to contain it. Wheezing for air, she said, "You win! I can’t top that!"
"Oh god." Addison closed the menu and cradled her head in her hands. "I slept with Mark the other day, now Alex. I’m a bona fide man eating whore."
"Dude!" Looking equally impressed and scandalized, Callie dabbed at her nose with a napkin. "I’ve seen both men. If you’re going to be a man eating whore then those two are the filet mignon of choices. Hmm, filet mignon. That sounds good."
"How can you even think about eating after I told you that? Does it not turn your stomach as much as it turns mine?"
"If it turned your stomach then why are you still smiling?"
"Shut up." Addison grinned. "He asked me to dinner tomorrow night."
"And you said yes, even though it repulses you, right?"
Addy made a face at her. The waiter appeared and took their orders which were identical and asked if they would like to see the wine menu. Both women were emphatic about definitely *not* seeing anything to do with alcohol and waited for him to leave before speaking again. Sipping her own water, Addison said, "So you broke up with O’Malley?"
"Mind if I ask why?"
"Because he has his nose rammed so far up Meredith Grey’s ass that I can’t get close enough to him to matter. When he does step away from her he goes right to Izzie. It’s weird."
"They are all freakishly bonded. I mean, I occasionally talk to the interns I worked with in my first year, but hell, I never wanted to live with them *and* work with them *and* have sex with them." Addison crossed her arms. "He’s trying to be Jack Tripper. You know? From Three’s Company."
"He’s definitely spastic enough to be Jack Tripper."
"You love him, though."
"I love him, though." Resigning herself to the fact that her heart was right back out on her sleeve, Callie added, "How can I not? He’s sweet and thoughtful and adorable and so funny. God, he’s so funny. And he lets me beat him at video games and he will passionately argue that Spiderman could take Superman in a fight and he is as excited about the Transformers movie as I am."
"Oh god, do you have a big comic book collection that you’re going to insist be prominently displayed at our apartment?"
"No. I gave my comic books to George. That’s love, man. Some of them were old."
Addison laughed at her. "Sounds to me like breaking up with him wasn’t what you wanted to do."
"It’s what I had to do." She shrugged. "Because staying with him hurts too much and I’m done with hurting."
Picking up her glass, Addison smiled. "To not hurting."
Callie clinked her glass to Addy’s and nodded. "To not hurting." She took a sip and said, "So, does Alex have reason to walk around the hospital acting like he’s Casanova?"
It was Addy’s turn to choke.
And that pretty much answered Callie’s question.
Callie and Addison took separate cars the next day due in large part to Callie’s desire to arrive early and check on Meredith’s mother. The hotel still could not brew a decent cup of coffee, so she arrived bleary eyed at the hospital and made a beeline for the vending area where a watered down cup of joe could be had for a dollar. She had spent the entire night tossing and turning and trying to convince herself that she didn’t care that George was a thing of the past. It was a fight she lost and she was sure that the dark circles around her red, puffy eyes was a dead giveaway. She was working on her second cup when Meredith tapped her on the shoulder and said, "Hey, Callie. You’re here early."
Callie nodded. "I have a VIP patient. Your mother was a legend at my school. How is she this morning?"
"You want me to back off the narcotics?"
"No. I want her to be comfortable." Meredith sighed. "You think she’s comfortable?"
"I’m sure she is."
Meredith studied the dark haired woman for a second, noting that she had been crying, then said, "I know it’s none of my business, but George misses you."
"Did he tell you that?"
"He doesn’t tell me anything."
"It’s not really his fault. I mean, to understand George you have to know about his family and about the long, very long, list of women who have broken his heart. The last one was me. And I did a pretty bang up job of devastating him."
"Well, he paid it forward. Trust me. He did a pretty bang up job of devastating me."
"Wanna talk about it?"
Callie sipped her coffee, weighing her options. Finally, she said, "He doesn’t love me. I’m the rebound girl. I’m the girl who picked up his pieces for him, the pieces you left, and put him back together. But he still doesn’t need me or love me or really want me around him as was witnessed by a vast number of this hospital staff when he kicked me out on my ass."
"He’s scared, Callie. He’s scared of how he feels for you and how much you can hurt him if he does let his guard down."
"He doesn’t have to worry about it anymore."
"He wants you. I know he does."
"He wants you more. You and Izzie and your little ‘Three’s Company’ montage." She shrugged. "Four’s a crowd."
"I have a little problem with the fact that you’re upset with him for taking such good care of Izzie. Her *fiancé* died. He died after she ran through hell to save him and George is her best friend. Surely you can respect him for making time for her."
"I’d respect him more if he could invite me to help take care of her. I was there when Denny died, too. I even came to your house and cooked for Izzie. I was trying to fit in!" She sighed and tossed her empty cup into the trash. "I know better than to try. I don’t fit in. I was that girl in high school that had wads of gum stuck in her hair every day. And you and Izzie? You were the girls who did it."
"Callie," Meredith said softly, putting her hand on her arm. "I never-"
"Remember when I peed in your bathroom and you and Izzie acted like I was a big, dirty cockroach?" Callie raised an eyebrow when Meredith didn’t reply. "Well, I do."
"We were shocked!"
"If someone answering the call of nature shocks you then you’re in the wrong field," she replied. "And I didn’t know that you guys were home. I was already mortified by the fact that you saw me naked. I figured I may as well finish what I came to do."
Before Meredith could form a response, Ellis Grey’s call button went off and Callie walked into the room. Meredith followed behind her and watched as Callie smoothed the older woman’s hair out of her face and spoke softly to her, explaining why she was in traction. Ellis would forget within minutes and have to be told again, but it didn’t deter Dr. Torres from giving her patient a full explanation and small, comforting words.
Addison was looking at the flier from Alex’s apartment building when George sat down across from her. With a sigh, she lowered the leaflet, and crossed her arms, meeting his gaze across the break room table. She regarded him for a few seconds before she said, "I already asked Christina to scrub in on the c-section."
"I want to talk to you about Callie."
"I don’t talk about my friends."
"Even the ones that you’ve had for like five minutes?"
"I want to be with her." George was amazed at the conviction in his own voice and his brow furrowed. As if realizing for the first time that his words were true, he laid a hand over his heart and said it again. "I want to be with Callie Torres. Just her. I - I think - I think I’m in love with her."
Addison watched the emotions play across his face and understood that he was shocked by his admission. "You think? Matters of the heart are usually cut and dried, O’Malley. You either do or you don’t. You can’t sorta love someone."
He nodded. "Then I love her."
"Why?" She leaned forward, resting her elbows on the table as she watched him.
"Why do you love her?"
George smiled a little as he considered his words. "Because she’s funny. She makes me laugh and she doesn’t let me take myself too seriously. And she gave me comic books. Plus? She beats me at video games and thinks it cute that I can’t even come close to beating her. She thinks I let her win, but I don’t. I know I’m going to lose, but I play anyway because she gets this little twitch in her cheek when she’s plays and it’s - it’s actually adorable." He cradled his head in his hands. "I’ve been a fool."
"Yep." Addison sighed. "You really have, but I don’t think you can help it. You’re a man and when men come to Seattle they take leave of their senses for some reason."
"What should I do?"
Addy held her hands up. "O’Malley, I am in relationship hell. I literally don't know if I'm coming or going or sane at the moment. I am the *last* person who should ever give love advice."
"But she’s talked to you, right? Please help me. Please, Dr. Montgomery."
"Look," she replied. "I know she loves you, but I know you hurt her. Really, really bad. I know that she feels like she’s the least important person in your life and that she can’t compete with Meredith and Izzie. You can tell her that you love her, but I think actions are louder than words sometimes. You want my advice? Ask her on a date. Turn off your phone and listen to her. Let her be the center of your world for just a second and see what happens. Maybe you’ll be pleasantly surprised."
Christina poked her head in the door and said, "Dr. Montgomery-Shepherd, the OR is ready."
Addison cringed at the use of her dual last names, but said nothing.
Chief Webber was frazzled. He had been heading out of the hospital for a very important meeting when his pager went off. His niece was being brought in by ambulance and the information that he had gotten from the paramedics wasn’t promising. Her cancer had spread faster than anyone could have anticipated and he doubted whether she would survive another six months. With a sigh, he took off his suit jacket and replaced it with his white medical coat and stethoscope. As he was heading down the corridor toward the ambulance bay, he noticed Dr. Torres staring at the surgical board with her hands on her hips.
"Dr. Torres, I thought you had a surgery at ten."
"I thought I did, too, but the patient cancelled."
"And you have nothing else to do?"
Callie straightened up, expecting to be reprimanded for loitering in the hallway. "Uh-"
"Because if you’re free for a while I’d like for you to take my place at the high school. They’re having their career fair today and I was supposed to host the medical panel. You're young, you're an excellent speaker, and I think you'll do a great job."
"Thank you." She brightened instantly, no longer looking like she had been caught with her hand in the cookie jar. "Consider it done."
"I don't have to convince you?"
"No. My therapist says that I should confront my fears and high school was my own personal hell. I'm going to confront it head on."
"You scare me," He said with a grin. "It’s the high school over on Clover and Meadow. The new one."
"I know exactly where it’s at. Do you need me to give them a message for you?"
"I’ll call and let them know that you’re coming. I've already sent the literature to the school."
"I'm on it."
"Thank you, Dr. Torres."
He watched as she retreated down the hallway and studied the surgical board for himself. It pained him not to see Preston Burke’s name as the attending physician on any of the cases and he made a mental note to speak with Derek about Burke’s progress. He contented himself to review the cases that were presented on the board to keep his mind occupied.
He was checking his watch for the fifth time when Addison tapped him on the shoulder. "I’m here," she said, rubbing her hands together. "What do we have?"
And accepted the hug she gave him as the ambulance siren wailed in the distance.
Alex turned his head from side to side, attempting to work out the painful kink in his neck. Glancing around him, he leaned closer to George, who was rummaging through the supplies on a cart and said, "Dude, can I tell you something?"
"I’m almost ninety-nine percent sure that I don’t want to hear it." George found the catheter he was looking for and glanced at Karev, who looked more peculiar than usual. "Okay, what is it?"
"I had sex with Dr. Shepherd."
O’Malley dropped the Foley and stared at him, his mouth agape. "Seriously?"
"Seriously." Alex massaged the back of his neck. "I can’t stop thinking about it. I mean, you know that I’m all about casual sex, but this was ... well, different."
"How could you do that? Meredith is going to kill you." George stared at him, then cocked his head to one side. "Hmmm. I knew that Derek was too pretty to be straight. The hair. The smile. But you? I -"
"What!?" Finally realizing what George was thinking, Alex punched him on the arm. "It was Addison, you idiot!"
"Oh!" George massaged his arm, then his eyes widened. "OHHH! Dude, that’s - that’s ... I don’t know what that is."
"Me, either. That’s the problem."
"What's the problem?"
"I asked her to dinner. Tonight."
"You don’t have dinner, Alex. You have sex. You have sex and if the girl is lucky you drive her home afterwards." George lowered his voice and whispered. "You’re a man-whore."
"I know! And the fact that I want to take her to dinner seriously jeopardizes my standing." Alex leaned back against the cart that George had been rummaging on. "I like her. I don’t want to like her, but there it is."
"What are you going to do?"
"I thought about having sex with someone else to prove that I’m okay, but I can’t. And Nurse Morgan actually invited me to eat in her car at lunch." Alex shook his head. "I turned her down. The last time we ate in her car there was no food involved."
George blushed and attempted to shake the image from his head. "So, you like her?"
"Tell her." George picked up the catheter and stood, taking a deep breath. "Because if you don’t tell her then you’ll feel like a complete ass when she moves on."
"You should know that from experience."
George narrowed his eyes. "Maybe you should let her do all the talking. Ass."
The bell was ringing when Callie walked up the front steps of Liberty High School. She joined the throng of students, ignoring the butterflies that danced in her stomach, as she followed the signs to the office. No matter how new the building was, it smelled like every other school she had ever been in and it threw her back fifteen years as she listened to the chatter and lockers being slammed. She had not exaggerated when she told Meredith and even Finn that she was *that* girl. Every school had one of *those* girls who was tormented endlessly by every social group in existence and Calliope Torres with her braces, glasses, and blue ribbon every year at the Science fair easily wore the ‘kick me’ sign on her back.
It was a tedious process, but she was eventually led to the cafeteria, where the medical seminar was taking place. Principal Griffin had already informed her that the majority of kids had signed up for her discussion and she was excited, very excited to have to the chance to speak about something she was so passionate about. And to leave the hospital. She had been on pins and needles most of the day, trying to avoid running into George. Breakups were horrible. Especially when you were as inexperienced at them as Callie was. She received a hearty round of applause as she took the makeshift stage.
She began by outlining what it would take for each student to be accepted to medical school and what they could expect at the university. She spent a while talking about some of her favorite patients and explaining that even though schooling had been hard, it was well worth it to see people heal and return to their normal lives. When she smiled at the crowd and asked if anyone had questions, at least fifty hands shot into the air. Feeling like she could easily drag the meeting out long enough to technically be off work for the day, she grinned from ear to ear.
"Okay, Blue Shirt." She pointed at a blond haired boy in the front row. "Ask away."
"What’s the hardest part of being a doctor?"
"Physically it’s the lack of sleep. You can be on call for thirty straight hours. Mentally it would be losing patients. It never gets any easier no matter how many times it’s happens and no matter what you’re taught in school ... it’s hard to remove yourself from it." She nodded at him, then pointed at a pretty girl who was waving her hand back and forth. "Go ahead."
"Has anyone ever yelled at you when you tell them that their loved one has died?"
"It’s happened to me a few times. When someone is grieving, they do and say things that will hurt your feelings, but it’s the pain talking. You just kinda learn what you should say to a family and if it does become tense and they get angry then you do your best to help them."
A boy with thick glasses asked the next question. "Do you think the money that you spent on your education is worth what it cost?"
"It’s insanely costly to become a doctor. But you can’t put a price tag on the knowledge that I now possess. A human life is priceless and I’m more than compensated every time someone is discharged from the hospital alive and well."
The next question came from a football player who was proudly wearing his jersey. "What kind of money do surgeons make?"
"Not as much as professional football players," Callie replied with a smile. "But if you can establish yourself in an area of the country where your field of medicine is in demand, you can earn a very decent living. For instance, I came to Seattle because of the hockey and honestly ... because the weather is wet and gross and more people fall and break bones in the rain."
The crowd laughed a little and as Callie was pointing to another young man for the next question, someone set off fireworks near the main entrance. Startled, she gasped, laid a hand over her chest and started to jokingly comment on how festive the crowd was.
The first of the screams were agonizing to hear and she stared at the back of the room, where three boys carrying what appeared to be military rifles shouted at one another and then opened fire on the students again. Horror struck, Callie screamed for people to take cover and hit the floor, her hands over her head. Within seconds, the room reeked of blood and gun smoke and the terrorized screams were the only thing louder than the rapid staccato of the bullets finding their target.
When the shots ceased to ring out, Callie dared to raise her head. She saw the boys filing out of the room and jumped to her feet. "Help me bar the doors!" she cried, charging for the back of the room. "Someone call 911!"
Several students followed behind her and together, they bolted the doors. Outside in the hallway the guns were blasting again and screams were being silenced. She turned, surveying the scene in front of her and her mind flashed back to September 11, when hell had been unleashed in New York. Taking a deep breath, she went to the victim nearest her and felt for a pulse. The girl was dead and the fact that there was massive trauma to her head confirmed that she had no hope. She motioned at one of the boys. "Take off your shirt and put it over her face. Now."
The boy complied as Callie was moving to the next person. He was gargling on his own blood and she swallowed hard. To the shirtless boy, she said, "I need you to put your hand right here and put as much pressure on him as you can. Don't let him move and don't let up on the pressure."
Two more children lay dead just behind the final row of tables and she made sure they were properly covered with shirts as well before moving to the next. A good twenty minutes passed and with the help of the unscathed students, most of the wounds had been taken care of as best as she could manage. One girl had been shot in the mouth and most of her teeth were missing. Callie gave her a wad of napkins and told her to bite down hard and to remain on the floor. Four more bodies were discovered by the time she heard sirens wailing in the distance.
The gunshots were random now, not rapid and constant.
And every time a shot rang out the survivors in the lunchroom felt a little bit of hope dying, too.
Meredith and Christina were transfixed in front of the television. They had both been sent to help Ramona Fletcher meander up and down the hallway after her exploratory surgery. Upon their arrival, however, they were shushed into silence when Mrs. Fletcher pointed at the ‘late breaking news’ that she was fixated on. The live footage showed several police cars, a swat unit, and two helicopters that had landed in the football field of Liberty High and were ready to transport the victims. Reports from inside the school confirmed that there were multiple injuries.
"Oh my god." Christina ran a hand through her hair and held it away from her face. "What the hell?"
The page for all doctors to report to the emergency room was not unexpected. Both interns forgot about Ramona Fletcher and literally raced down the stairs. It was a flurry of activity as every doctor was suited up in trauma gear and orders were being barked out left and right by Chief Webber and the attendings.
The television at the nurse’s station held everyone’s attention. Chief Webber cut through the silence by clearing his throat. "I need you all to listen to me please?" When all eyes were on him, he took a deep breath and said, "One of our own is inside that school. Dr. Torres was speaking at the career fair."
"Oh my god," Meredith put a hand over her mouth and looked at George, who had suddenly turned a sickly shade of gray.
Addison, who was standing next to him, reached down and took George’s hand in hers, squeezing it a little as she asked, "Has anyone heard from her?"
Webber shook his head. "I’ve called her cell phone to no avail."
"What do we do?" Alex asked.
"Be doctors." Bailey told him. "We’re going to have to be doctors first and worried coworkers second. Got me?"
"Shhhhh!" Olivia waved at everyone and turned the volume up. "Listen!"
"We’re told that several prominent people from the community were at the school for the yearly career day convention. Police tell us that they are currently on the phone with a surgeon from Seattle Grace Hospital who is locked in the cafeteria with roughly two hundred and fifty students." The reporter touched her earpiece and frowned. "The doctor’s name is Calliope Torres and she has just confirmed that there are at least eight fatalities. This is horrible, folks. If you’re just joining us-"
"She’s alive." George slid down the wall, still clinging to Addison’s hand and forcing her down next to him. "She’s okay."
Bailey squatted down next to him. "Pull it together, O’Malley. You can freak out on your own time. This is *my* time."
"They’re shooting at police officers!" Olivia cried, gesturing wildly at the television.
One of the windows at the school had been raised and every so often, a boy would stick his head just over the sill and fire toward the assembled police cars. The camera panned back, giving a wide angle of the school and then focused on a side door that had opened suddenly and several kids rushed from the building, most with their wounded classmates supported between them. They were met by paramedics and officers and were quickly ushered into idling school busses that were out of the range of fire.
"That’s our cue. They’ll be bringing those kids here." The Chief took a deep breath and nodded at his crew. "Stay focused. Stay resolved."
George remained on the floor for a second longer, taking deep breaths. Addison stood and tugged on his hand. He glanced up at her. "I can’t do this."
"She’d kick your ass if you didn’t. Remember what she said? Go where you're needed. You're needed right here!"
Alex nudged George with the toe of his shoe. "Dude, you’re the heart in the elevator guy. Get off your ass and prove to everyone why you’re a legend around here."
George stood on shaking legs and accepted the surgical cap that Meredith was holding out to him. The minutes seemed to take hours, but finally the children arrived. The ambulance bay opened up as the school bus rolled to a stop and then everyone was moving fast, rushing around him as the first of the victims were brought into the ER.
Broken Butteflies II: The Explosive Finale