Love Takes Time

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The emergency room was bustling with activity. Every room was full, every intern was frazzled and every resident was pushed to the limit. Callie Torres, the resident orthopedic surgeon, had already completed two minor surgeries and had at least two other patients that could require surgery as well. She wasnít usually one to grumble about her duties, she actually embraced every challenge, but the added stress of her sudden eviction from the hospital basement was heavy on her mind. A hotel was not a decent place to live and apartments in the area were notoriously pricey and hard to come by.

Of course, with her salary she could have purchased a house, but settling down and having roots was not something that she had ever experienced and she was fairly certain that the shock of it would kill her. And then there was George. Her very own idea of Prince Charming. A man she loved completely who felt absolutely nothing in return for her. Oh, he shared her bed. But he refused to share his heart. That had been fine with her, for a while. Now it was a different matter entirely.

She was chewing her bottom lip thoughtfully and scanning the newspaper for rentals in close proximity to the hospital when Miranda Bailey tapped her on the shoulder. She turned and gave a pretty good impression of a genuine smile. "Good morning, Dr. Bailey. How are you?"

The short, stern faced resident who had earned the nickname ĎNazií by her interns, glared at her. "Dr. Torres, are you aware that we are backed up, the waiting room is about to spill into the parking lot, and there are exactly four patients waiting with possible fractures while you read the funny pages?"

Callie raised an eyebrow. "Are you aware of the fact that I am not one of your interns and it is absolutely none of your business what I happen to be doing with my time?"

Baileyís hands went to her hips and she assumed her signature look of disgust, a look that could strike fear in the heart of just about anyone who received it. "Itís my business when my rooms are being held up by people who need to have bones set, wrapped, and discharged."

"Oh, Iím sorry. I wasnít aware that you were suddenly the orthopedic specialist here. By all means, help yourself to these." She held up the four charts in question. "I think youíll find that Iíve already visited each one, ordered x-rays and pain meds, and am waiting for the films to come back. Since you seem to know the status of every room, including the waiting room, Iím sure it will come as no shock to you that the radiology department is lining trauma patients up in the c-wing and trauma patients, your patients, take a little precedence over a broken foot, a broken hand, a broken leg, and a possible broken toe."

When Bailey didnít take the charts from her, Callie put them back on the counter and snapped her newspaper open again. "And my patients are not in rooms. I had them all moved into the hallway to free up space. So unless you have something constructive to say to me, the me who happens to be your peer, then why donít you go find four patients in the waiting room to fill those empty beds?"

Bailey sneered at her and stalked off, leaving two of her interns staring at Callie with equal measures of shock and admiration. Christina Yang, the first to gather her wits, punched Callie on the shoulder. "I canít believe I just witnessed Miranda Bailey, the Miranda Bailey, rendered speechless."

Callie shrugged. "Iím sure sheíll be back later to yell at me all right and proper once the initial shock wears off."

"Itís my fault," Meredith, the second intern, said. "Sheís mad because she thinks those were your panties that were lost and found."


Rolling her eyes, Callie ripped the ad from the paper and stowed it in her pocket. "Please. Sheís pissed because they werenít hers."

"Whoís pissed?" George OíMalley joined the group, looking as frazzled as any one of his fellow interns. "Because Iíve had it up to here with pissed people. Itís a madhouse today."

"Your girlfriend just told Bailey off. Like, extensively." Christina told him, still grinning as she scanned the charts. "Ooooh, neural trauma? Iím on it."

"I have to go, too." Meredith picked up a chart of her own and frowned. "Rectal bleeding? I love my job. I love my job. I love my job. I wonder how many times I have to say it before it sticks?"

"It has yet to work for me," Callie told her as she folded the newspaper and tossed it into the trash. A headache was rapidly forming and her neck was tense from the six hours she had spent peering down at someoneís spine earlier that day.

"You okay?" George asked her, watching as she ran her hand over her forehead.

"If I could just go ahead and *have* the stroke I think Iíd be fine."

"Rough day?"

"I havenít had food, a bed, or a chance to sit down in over twelve hours. Iím about to be homeless. The radiology department has lost two sets of film. And Bailey is about three more comments from a hair tugging girl fight. Iíd say that rough doesnít scratch the surface."

"Can I do anything?"

She studied him for a few seconds. He had stolen her heart while she wasnít looking and she had struggled with the fact that he didnít care for her on the same level. "I used to think you could do anything."

He frowned. "Whatís thatís supposed to mean?"

"Oh, I think you know." She snatched her files off the counter and stalked away.

"What did I do?" George asked no one in particular.

*~*~*~

Much to Callieís surprise, none of the patients that Bailey had commented on needed surgery. Within the hour the broken bones, with the exception of the toe (which couldnít really be helped), had been set and the patients had hobbled off with an assortment of crutches and slings. Making her way to the atrium to see if there was any food to be found, she settled on a bottle of water and a large apple, then found a seat at one of the round tables nearest the wall. She dug three Tylenol from her pocket and washed them down, hoping that it worked on the tension headache before any more bone patients came into the ER.

"Tell me thatís not your lunch," Alex Karev said as he slid into the seat across from her.

"It was. But I suddenly lost my appetite," she retorted, pillowing her head on her arms. She could be in deep, blissful sleep in mere moments. It would be so easy.

"Aww, are you starting to like me?"

"You. Talking. Deathwish," she replied, not bothering to look at him.

"If all residents are as bitter as you and Bailey, Iím not sure I ever want to be one."

"You left bitter about three exits back, Karev. Now shut up."

She was spared his response by the arrival of Meredith and George, who approached her with extreme caution as he slipped into the seat beside her. He moved his tray aside and laid his head down inches from hers. "Want to talk about it?" he asked.

"No."

He brushed her bangs to the side and smiled at her in a way that always melted her heart. "Iím a good listener."

"Most people who arenít good speakers are really good listeners."

His smile faded. "Was that an insult?"

"Iím not having this conversation right now, George."

"What conversation?"

"This one." She stood, tossing her apple at Karev. "An apple a day keeps the doctor away. So begone, evil one."

"Sheís not a happy camper. OíMalley, maybe youíre not doing something right." Karev bit into the apple, giving George a knowing smile.

George left his tray and followed in her wake. "Callie!"

She was waiting for the elevator when he caught up with her. She turned on her heel and moved into the stairwell instead, knowing he would follow, but hoping that he wouldnít. He grabbed her arm when she was halfway up the steps and pulled her around to face him. "What exactly is it that you need to say to me?"

She shook her head, knowing that the confrontation was inevitable, but hating that it was taking place in the stairwell when she was too exhausted to think clearly. "It can wait."

"I canít! Say it!"

"George-"

"I mean it, Callie. Tell me whatís wrong."

"Us! This thing that weíre doing. Or not doing. Whatever it is! I hate it!" She took a deep breath, hoping it would ease the pain in her heart, while she pondered her words. She exhaled and said, "Iíve never needed anyone in my entire life. Iíve never needed friends, but I go out of my way to be nice to yours. Iíve never needed attention, but the second I have yours itís like the world stops spinning for me. And Iíve never loved anyone as much as I love you, but you donít feel the same way. And I thought that would be okay for me because Iíve never been loved and I figured it wouldnít bother me since I donít really know what Iím missing. But it does bother me. Now that I know what it feels like to love someone, I want someone to feel that way about me."

"Callie," George began, trying to pull her into his arms.

"No!" She resisted, yanking her arm free. "Iím not doing this anymore. I canít. It hurts me too much to have a part of you, but not all of you."

"I told you to give me some time. I love being with you. I do. I just - I need to -"

"Stop," she said softly. "God, this is so hard."

"What is?"

"Iíve never broken up with anyone before."

"Donít start now." He cupped her face, leaning into her. "I want you. I want to be with you."

She let him kiss her, wondering if he could taste the salt of her tears the same way she had for several nights in a row. She hugged him, warring with the conflicting advice that her brain and her heart were giving her. She was ready to take it all back when her pager went off. She pulled away, checking the number. "I have to go."

"Wait." George was still leaning against her, his hand still against her cheek. "Please just give me some time. The last woman that I said ĎI love youí to ripped out my heart."

"Iím not Meredith."

"I know. I know youíre not, but Iím a little gun shy."

A million replies flitted through her mind, but before she could settle on one, her name was called over the PA system, directing her to the emergency room. Stat. "I have to go."

"Have dinner with me tonight?"

"George, I have to go."

"Say yes."

"Fine." Her pager sounded again and she moved away, taking the stairs two at a time.

*~*~*~

"What do we have?" she asked Bailey as she suited up for the trauma case that was inbound.

"Abigail Fisher, ten years old. Fell from a treehouse in her backyard. The paramedics said that her leg appears broken and she suffered a pretty good blow to the head. Sheís being lifeflighted in."

"Is it an open fracture?"

"They said it appeared broken, Torres. Iím sure if the bone was sticking out her leg they would have said itís broken for sure."

"You know what? Iíve had just about as much of your mouth as I can stand in a day!"

Bailey opened her mouth to reply, but the ambulatory entrance burst into action as the little girl was wheeled through the doors. She was screeching, attempting to pull the stabilizing collar from her neck. The medical staff sprang into action and within minutes, the childís pants had been cut and Callie was able to get a good look at the leg in question. The bone had not erupted through the skin, but the horrendous angle of the limb accompanied by the clammy feel of the flesh was a certain indicator that surgery would be inevitable.

She spoke soothingly to the girl, brushing her hair away from her face as the EMTís gave a complete rundown of her vitals. "My leg hurts!" Abigail cried, still tugging the collar. "I want my mom!"

"How far out are her parents?" Bailey asked.

"Her fatherís on his way. Heís about an hour and a half out," the paramedic replied. "Possibly two."

"Howís your head?" Bailey asked her, shining a light into her eyes. "Can you follow my finger?"

Callie was relieved when she saw that the child was able to follow Baileyís finger left and right and up and down. "Squeeze my hand," she said, picking up Abigailís tiny hand in her own. She was rewarded with a strong grip and she smiled. "Good girl. How about the other one?"

She conferred with Bailey briefly, reaching an agreement on which pain medication was in order, then Bailey rushed away for another trauma case, telling Christina to take her place. Callie stepped into the hallway when the x-ray machine was wheeled in and watched from the doorway as every conceivable angle of the broken leg was shot. Callie glanced at Christina, who was also waiting beyond the reach of the x-rayís harmful radiation. "She should get a CT scan while I wait for the films. I want to make sure her head is okay."

"Iím on it." Christina walked across the room to the nursesí station to make the call to radiology.

When the x-rays were finished, Callie entered the room again. "Abigail, my name is Callie and Iím going to take care of your leg. I promise. Itís just going to take a little while longer."

"My name is Abbey," she replied, still tugging at the neck brace. "I want to take this off."

"We canít take that off until we make sure that everything is okay. Iím sorry, Abbey, I know itís uncomfortable."

Abbey sniffled, drawing the sleeve of her shirt across her nose. "Iím scared."

"Donít be. Iím going to take good care of you."

"Can you hold my hand again?"

"Absolutely." Callie took her hand, gently rubbing it with her thumb. "Weíre going to wheel you down the hallway and theyíre going to take pictures of your head. They use a machine called a cat scan and itíll give us a really nice view of whatís happening in there." She lightly tapped her head. "If everything is okay, Iíll take the brace off."

Christina entered the room again. "Theyíre ready for her."

"Go with me, Callie?" Abbey said, beginning to cry again.

"Okay." Callie held her hand tight as they wheeled her toward radiology. The tests didnít take long and Callie stood just behind the technicians, watching as each image was displayed on the computer screens. She swore softly under her breath and said, "Page Dr. Shepard."

It took a few minutes to get Abbey back to her room and once inside, Callie decided to have another look at her leg. She gently poked and prodded, trying to feel the break and work up a game plan. As she moved toward the little girlís thigh, she noticed a smearing of blood. Using the scissors, she cut the pants completely away and gasped. There was blood staining Abbeyís panties and both thighs.

She exchanged looks with Christina, who was back in the room to check vitals. Bailey returned as well, opening her mouth to speak, then quickly closing it when she saw what the other two doctorís had seen. "Christina, go make the call."

"What call?" Abbey asked.

"We need to talk to another doctor." Callie gave up the perusal of her leg and pulled the cover over her. Child Protective Services would have to be notified. "Are you in pain right now?"

"Yes, but itís not as bad as before."

"Thatís the pain medicine. You let me know if it gets worse." Swallowing back the bile in her throat, Callie wet a cloth and used it to clean most of the dirt from Abbeyís face.

"Youíre really pretty." Abbey smiled up at her. "I like your hair. And I like that youíre nice."

"I like that youíre such a good patient. After the day Iíve had itís very, very fun," she replied with a smile, then casually asked, "What were you doing when you fell out of the treehouse?"

The little girl chewed her bottom lip, staring up at Callie with big, bright eyes. "I want to tell you."

"You can," Callie reassured her.

"My dad was-" she trailed off, casting a fearful eye toward Bailey. "Who is she?"

"Iím Dr. Bailey, Abigail."

"My name is Abbey."

"Dr. Bailey is here to make sure youíre okay. We both are." Callie smiled. "What were you doing with your dad?"

Abbey began to cry again. "Nothing."

"I canít help you unless you tell me."

"Iím scared."

"You donít have to be, sweetheart." Callie leaned down, brushing an errant strand of hair from Abbeyís cheek. "Iím right here and I promise that nothing will happen if you tell me."

"You wonít leave me?"

"No."

"He said I canít tell."

"Well, heís not here."

Abbey nodded and took a deep breath. "Daddy was playing his secret game. But it hurt this time."

"Where did it hurt?" She watched with apprehension as the little girl placed her hand over her private area. "Does he play the secret game alot?"

Abbey nodded. "But he never really hurt me before. I fell because I was trying to run from him."

Bailey moved closer to the bed. "What is the secret game, Abbey?"

"He said I was never supposed to tell. Thatís why he called it our secret game."

"Please?" Callie leaned closer, squeezing her hand.

Abbey told.

Callie was glad that she had neglected to eat lunch.

*~*~*~*~*~

Thirty minutes after the cat scan, Derrick Shephard, the attending neurosurgeon, arrived. He was wearing a jogging outfit and looked windblown and exhausted. "Sorry, I was at the gym. What do we have?"

Bailey explained everything, watching from the doorway as Callie continued to talk to the little girl. "Sheís taken to Dr. Torres. We both heard what she had to say, though."

"God, thatís sick." Derrick shook his head as he stared at the sweet, dark haired girl who lay in the bed. "Iíll review the CT before I go in. You should probably call Addison in on this as well."

"I did. Sheís on her way." Bailey walked back into the room, watching as Christina made several notes on the chart.

"My mom sings to me when I get hurt. Can you sing to me, Callie?" Abbey asked, ignoring the presence of the other two doctors. "Please?"

"What do you want to hear?"

"Do you know anything from Disney?"

"I know everything from Disney. Whatís your favorite movie?"

"Mulan. I like that one. The one she sings about her reflection."

"I like that one, too." Callie took a deep breath and began to sing the song, unaware that a small crowd, which included George, had gathered in the hallway to listen to her. When she finished, she smiled at Abbey. "How was that?"

"You sing better than my mom and Mulan. Can you sing another one?"

"Dr. Torres, the x-rays are finally here." One of the radiologists held them out to her. "Iím sorry it took so long. Our equipment went down for a while."

"Thatís okay." Callie took the packet containing the film and smiled at Abbey. "Iíll sing you another one in just a few minutes. I need to go take a look at these."

"Youíll be back?"

"I will." She walked into the hallway, momentarily stunned when several of her co-workers burst into applause. It took a second to realize that they had heard the song. She forced herself to smile and offer thanks, then quickly attached the first of the films to the light board.

"You can really sing." George moved to stand beside her. "I mean, really sing. People who sing like that usually have cds or something. Did you take lessons?"

"She was raped," Callie blurted out, ignoring his praise. "Sheís ten years old and she was raped by her father."

"What?" George stared at her, stunned. "Are you sure?"

She replaced the films with a different angle and nodded. "Iím positive."

He studied her for a few seconds, watching as she attached the last of the x-rays. "Youíre shaking."

"Sheís just a little kid, George. Itís bad enough when it happens to an adult, but sheís just a - a baby." She shut the light off on the x-ray panel and shook her head. "Iím going to have to operate on her leg. Itís bad."

"Let someone else do it. Youíve already been here too long."

She glared at him and shook her head. Leaving him behind, she entered the room again and was relieved to find that Dr. Shepherd had removed the collar from Abbeyís neck. "What did you think of the scan?" she asked.

"You were right to have me paged. There is a little swelling in the brain, but I donít think Iíll need to operate to relieve the pressure. You, on the other hand, will definitely be operating. Whoís the attending today?"

"Chief Webber." Callie smiled down at Abbey. "See? I told you that weíd get that thing off."

"Youíre gonna operate on me?" Abbey asked her, her eyes wide. "You can do that?"

"I sure can."

"Can I be a doctor too?" asked the little girl.

"Do you like science?" Derrick asked with a grin.

"I love science and math the best."

"Then you can be a doctor."


Abbey studied Derrick, then Callie. "I want to be a doctor who fixes broken bones. Like Callie."

"Thatís called an orthopedic surgeon," Derrick told her. To Callie, he added, "Iíll have the OR prepped and page Chief Webber."

"Thanks." She watched him leave and turned back to Abbey. "Is the pain pretty bad or is the medicine still working?"

"Iíve been hurt worse."

Callie shook her head at Christina, who was busily prepping a temporary splint. "Iím not going to mess with her leg until sheís anesthesized."

"But shouldnít you stabilize it?"

"Itíll hold."

"The OR is ready, doctor. A surgery cancelled a while ago and it was set up for that," Olivia, one of the nurses, said from the doorway. "And Chief Webber is ready when you are."

"Ready to roll, Abbey?" Callie asked.

"Ready," she replied.

Christina unlocked the wheels on her side and they rolled down the hallway. "What about Dr. Montgomery-Shepherd? I thought you wanted her to check the, uhm, other."

"Yang, quite a few things need to take place while sheís anesthesized. Okay?"

"Yes, Dr. Torres."

"What does that word mean?" Abbey asked.

Callie smiled down at her and explained. A few minutes later, she was standing between Christina and Chief Webber at the sinks, scrubbing in. She kept her eyes on the little girl just beyond the glass, unaware that Webber had his eyes on her. "How many hours have you worked, Callie?"

"Iím working on sixteen, sir." She glanced at up at the clock on the wall. "Or seventeen. Seventeen. I think."

"I can do this if youíre tired."

"Iím fine, Chief. I want to do this."

"OíMalley is a little concerned about you." Webber turned off his faucet. "Does he have a reason to be?"

"No, sir."

He nodded and backed through the door, holding his hands up and away from his body. Callie shook her head, her ears ringing from the blood rushing up into them. "I hope youíre not attached to George OíMalley, Christina, because Iím killing him just as soon as there are no witnesses."

The surgery was taking place in the operating room that had a viewing deck. Callie glanced up, shocked to see so many people sitting in the seats. The mending of bones seldom if ever drew a crowd and her eyes narrowed when she saw George sitting next to Meredith, who seemed to be enjoying an animated conversation with Derrick, who was seated on the opposite side.

"Callie?" Abbey called.

"Iím here."

"Just making sure. You donít look the same with that thing on your head and your face all covered up. When Iím a doctor, will I have to wear that?"

"Are you trying to say I donít look pretty?"

Abbey laughed. "I donít know. I canít see you. But you were pretty before. Beautiful, even."

"Why, thank you. You ready?" Callie glanced up at the anesthesiologist, who nodded that he was ready when she was.

"Can you sing that song to me again. Until ... until Iím ann- anesth- uhm, asleep?"

Deciding that she would worry about the Chiefís opinion of her singing and whether or not it crossed a line later, she sang the song softly, bending close to Abbeyís ear as the medication was administered. She was barely through the second sentence when the little girl was under. She stood and took a deep breath, then twisted her head, popping her neck on either side. "Has Addison arrived yet?"

"No. She called and said that she was stuck in traffic. There was a horrific car accident on the freeway." Webber nodded at the supplies on the table. "We should do the rape kit first."

"Iíll do it!" Christine blurted out. "Iíve never done it before."

"Which is why Iíll do this one. If Addison were here to guide you it would be different." Callie shook her head. "Iím sorry. But itís important to the police that everything goes by the book."

"I understand," replied Christina.

Callie did the vaginal exam. The silence in the OR was deafening and as she took a swab, one of her tears slid from under her safety glasses. Chief Webber reached forward, touching her hand. "Step away. Get control of yourself, Dr. Torres."

No one spoke as she moved away from the table, taking several deep breaths in an attempt to push her emotions aside. She swallowed hard and when she exhaled, her breath was ragged. It felt like her heart had shattered into a million tiny pieces and each one was trying to journey down into her gut.

"Separate the little girl from the medical procedure, Callie. Distance yourself. You can cry later," Webber told her. "Every minute that you spend grieving for her is a minute longer that she is under anesthesia. Pull it together."

Drawing on every bit of training and strength that she had, she returned to the operating table and completed the rape kit. She heard the chief commend her on a job well done, but she didnít acknowledge him. The doctor inside of her had taken over and as she turned her attention to the broken leg, her only focus was on the task at hand.

She was clamping open the incision when the door opened and a man wearing scrubs asked, "Is this Abigail Fisher?"

"Yes, it is," Callie replied, glancing up from what she was doing.

What happened next was such a shock that it took her a second to realize that the man was holding a gun, screaming at everyone. "You too!" he shouted at Callie. "Take off your mask."

She did as she was told and realized that everyone else in the room had already done so. The man pointed at the chief and the anesthesiologist and said, "Both of you men leave the room. Now. NOW! And you, too!" he pointed the gun at Christina, who was standing next to the chief. Then at the nurse who was standing next to Abbeyís head watching the monitors. "You go on as well." The nurse and the anesthesiologist did as they were told. Christina and the chief held their ground.

"Go on, Yang. Get out," Webber said, holding his hands up as he had been instructed. When Christina finally left the room, he added, "Sir, you donít want to do this."

"Donít tell me what I want to do! Get out of here or youíre a dead man!"

"I will not leave this room," the chief replied. "This is my staff and my patient."

The man cocked the gun, taking dead aim at Richardís head. "Youíre leaving. Alive or dead."

Callieís heart was pounding a rapid stacatto in her chest. She said, "Chief Webber, I think you should do what he says."

"You better listen to her."

Richard turned, risking fate by squeezing Callieís hand. She nodded at him and watched as he walked away. The man moved to the door, holding it closed. "How do I lock this door."

Callie thought fast. "You canít."

"Bullshit!" he screamed. "What is this keypad for?"

"Itís for emergencies. If there is ever a lockdown at the hospital and medical staff is trapped in the operating rooms, they can use their employee code to override the system," she lied, all the while cursing herself for not locking the door. No one ever locked the doors!

"Youíre lying." He glanced at Frances and said, "Put your code in! Now!"

The older woman didnít wait to be told twice. She raced across the room, entering her code. The lights flashed from green to red and Callie cringed inwardly. They were locked in.

"Help me move something in front of the door," the man said.

Callie glanced up at the viewing station. The faces of the people who had been watching the surgery mirrored what had to be the dumbfounded and stunned look on her own face. Her eyes met and held Georgeís and she drew strength from him before she turned her attention back to the gunman. She watched as a table was placed in front of the door. It wouldnít hold anyone out, and the door had locked, but if it calmed the man at all she would let him cling to false hope.

"What did she tell you?" he shouted, as Frances hurried back to Callieís side. "What did the little bitch say happened to her?"

Callie realized in that moment who the man was ... Abbeyís father. "She said she was playing in her treehouse when she slipped and fell."

"Whatís all this?" He waved his gun hand at the table that held the remnants of the rape kit.

"Itís standard procedure. I had to check the fracture for possible splintering and those are the tools we use to do so." It amazed her that her voice could sound so calm, so even as the lies rolled off her tongue like honey.

"Do you think I was born yesterday?" the man yelled. "I work in a hospital! I know what that is!"

"What do you do at the hospital?" Callie asked.

"Iím the janitor."

"Pardon me for being rude, but janitors donít have a damn clue. If we were in the laundry room you may actually know whatís going on around you, but youíre in *my* operating room and if youíll excuse me, I have a broken bone to set."

"Donít touch my daughter!" He pointed the gun at Callie. "You put one hand on her and Iíll kill you."

"Let me tell you something," she fired back at him. "Iím not your daughter. Iím not your wife. Maybe you scare *them*, but you donít scare *me*."

"You better be afraid, bitch! I have a gun!"

"Do you really want to go to prison for the rest of your life?"

"Iím already going to prison for life! What do I have to lose?" He moved closer to the operating table, staring down at the prone form of his daughter. "I didnít mean to do that to her. Iím sick. I need help."

"No," Callie snapped. "You need to swallow the barrel of that gun and pull the trigger. Point up and not backwards so itís sure to penetrate what little brain you do have."

The man shoved the operating table hard, toward Callie. She held her ground, putting her hand on Abbeyís stomach and glancing at the monitors. She was relieved to see that there was no change in her vital signs. "I said donít put your hands on her," he bellowed, raising the gun to her face.

"And I told you that Iím going to finish what I started. So you either shoot me or shut your mouth." She glared at him, her back straight, her face set like stone. When he lowered the gun to his side, she nodded at the wall. "Put a mask on. Youíve spread enough filth in here to last a lifetime."

He snatched a mask from the wall and edged closer to the table, watching as Callie set about reconstructing the broken bone and inserted a pin with Francesí, albeit shaky, help. Once the surgery was complete, she took her time suturing the incision, then stepped back, aware that the viewing deck was crawling with police officers. "You have a decision to make, Mr. Fisher."

"Wake her up."

"Why?"

"I want to know what she told you."

"I already told you what she said to me."

"I want her to tell me."

"Your daughter just underwent a fairly complex surgery. She doesnít need any stress."

"I said wake her up!" He raised the gun again.

And the unthinkable happened.


Frances lunged at him, grabbing his arm and the gun discharged once, twice, three times. Callie was aware of the pain that radiated through her shoulder like a branding iron, aware of the fact that the man had knocked Frances away, took aim at her, and shot her at point blank range in the head. She could feel the scream building up inside her, but she couldnít find the power to release it. She glanced down at herself, saw the scarlet stain that was forming on her shirt, and looked up again. The man was taking aim at her. She grabbed the scalpel and threw it, cringing as hot pain seared through her arm at the sudden movement.

It struck him in the throat. He dropped the gun and backed away, gargling on his own blood as he attempted to pull the scalpel from his neck. Callie moved quick, rushing around the table and grabbing the gun from the floor. Her pain was forgotten as the man reached for her, gripping a handful of her hair as she started to rise. She saw that the scalpel was still in his throat and his eyes were wild.

She put the gun against his chest, over his heart, and fired. Blood splattered the walls behind him and he let her go.

She was still firing after he hit the ground.


Even though the chamber was, at last, empty.

"Callie!"

She heard someone shouting her name and snapped back to the present. Chief Webber was standing a few feet away, surrounded by police officers. He had come through the washroom, not the main door. "Give me the gun, Callie."

Glancing down at her hand, she was actually shocked to see that she was, indeed, clutching the gun. She handed it to him and then realized that the ringing in her ears was Abbeyís monitor. She turned and the scene that greeted her forced the scream that had been building during the last few hours to finally burst from her. The little girl had been shot in the head.

And the heart monitor confirmed that the shot had been accurate.

"No!" She moved toward the table, but Chief Webber grabbed her around the waist and sank with her to the floor.

"Sheís gone, Callie. Sheís gone."

"No, please! Please! Let me go!"

"You were shot. We need to see how bad it is."

She struggled, but the chief had an iron grip. Derrick appeared before her. He quickly cut away the left side of her shirt and surveyed the wound for himself. The chief moved her forward just a little, still hanging onto her. "Itís a clean shot. Exit wound in the back. Too high to have hit any internal organs."

Callie watched as the police surrounded Abbey and flinched, not from pain, but from how sad the little nude girl looked lying on the cold table with her naked form exposed for everyone to see. "Dr. Shepherd, please? Cover her up. Let her have a little bit of dignity."

He nodded and moved to the table, listening for the sounds of a heartbeat. When he heard none, he pronounced her dead, covered her tiny body, then repeated the process with Nurse Frances. "Iíll get a wheelchair."

"No. I can walk." With the aid of both Derrick and the Chief, she got to her feet. "Just give me a second with her."

"Maíam, this is a crime scene," one of the officers said.

"Everyone saw what happened! It wonít hurt if I see her for a second!"

"Go ahead, maíam," another officer replied, moving aside to clear the way.

She stepped past Frances, careful not to slide in the blood that was spreading out all around the womanís body. With trembling hands, she pulled back the sheet that Derrick had placed over her. As carefully as she would with a living child, Callie removed the breathing tube and pulled the tape from over her eyes. If anyone protested, she didnít hear. Smoothing the matted hair away from her face, Callie leaned down and whispered, "Iím sorry, Abbey."

Laying her head down next to the disfigured head of Abigail Fisher, Callie Torres cried harder than she had ever cried in her life. She was vaguely aware that someone gave her an injection and eased her into a wheelchair a moment after that. And then she was being wheeled down the hallway and George was hugging her, ignoring Baileyís shouts about getting his Ďfool headí out of the way.

*~*~*~*~

She awoke in time to see the sun rising through the open shade of her hospital room. Once the darkness had been chased away she realized that several people had fallen asleep in chairs, in the floor, and in Christinaís case, on the window ledge that housed the air conditioning unit. She moved to sit up, then groaned. George, who had been sleeping in a chair next to the bed, woke with a start and leaned forward, easing her back down against the mattress.

"Shhhh, itís okay," he whispered, moving to sit next to her on the bed.

"Itís not okay," Callie said softly. "She was me."

"What?"

"Except I was eight when it happened to me. And my father? He killed himself in jail before the trial."

"Oh my god."

"My mom had died four months before it happened. He started to drink and one night he couldnít stop himself. I - I almost died. I crawled out into the hallway of our apartment complex after he passed out. I couldnít even walk." She began to cry, her voice breaking over the words. Words that she had never spoken to anyone except the doctor who had cared for her and the police, but words that would not be stopped now that they were taking flight. "The neighbor was taking her dog out and she found me. I - I had to have a blood transfusion because it was so bad and the doctor who took care of me ... she stayed with me the entire time. She never left me once. She - she sang to me and she held my hand and she was the reason I became a doctor.

"And thatís the reason that I donít know how to fit into your family. The one you have with your friends. Iíve never had a family. I grew up in a group home and I could never make friends because the kids would come and go so fast that you barely knew their names. But not me. I stayed. No one wants a kid who is so messed up."

"I want you."

"I didnít save her. Iím not a real doctor at all."

Pulling her into his arms, George glanced at Meredith, then at Christina, who were both awake and listening. Izzie, too, had braved venturing into the hospital, confronting her own demons, because George had called and said he needed her. And he could see the anguish written on her face. No one spoke and Callie didnít seem to notice that there was an audience. And not a dry eye in the room.

"Iím so sorry," he said, wiping his own eyes before he pulled back to look at her. He was a little shocked to see Christina standing next to the bed. He watched as she sat down next to Callie and hugged her.

"Youíre an incredible doctor," Christina said in a low voice. "In spite of what was happening in that room, you finished the surgery and you were willing to die to do it. You held it together. You stood up to him. I donít know many people who could have done that and I donít know any doctors who WOULD do that."

George nodded, taking her hand in his. "Iíve never been more proud of anyone in my life, Callie." He smiled a little. "But Iím going to yell at you really bad about this bravery thing as soon as you feel better."

She squeezed his hand and took a deep breath. Christina slipped off the bed and motioned for Meredith and Izzie to follow her out of the room. The other two women followed, but not before they both told Callie what a great job she had done. Alone in the room, George moved to sit on the bed next to her. "I should have said it," he told her.

"What?"

"I should have told you I love you."

"You donít have to say that."

"Watching you almost die was a wake up call." He cradled her cheek in his palm. "It made my world stop. You make my world stop every time you look at me. I love you, Callie. I swear to God, I love you more than anything."

A tear slipped down her cheek and he kissed it away. "I love you, too," she finally whispered.

"So, weíre not breaking up?"

"Not today," she said, the phantom whisper of a smile tugging at her lips. "But the next time you tell Chief Webber that youíre *concerned* ... Iím breaking your *bones*."

"Youíll fix them if you do." He kissed her forehead then, leaning his cheek against hers.

Sleep claimed her. She wasnít aware that the others had come back into the room or that her Ďfamilyí sat silently, processing what they had heard her confess, and coming to terms with the fact that some scars, no matter how old they are, have to be dissected before they can ever truly heal.

The End