On Monday, Erica stood at the nurses’ station, charting and getting ready for a consult when Sandra approached her.
“Hi. They are taking mum’s MRI right now.” Erica looked around to check whether someone was near enough to listen in on them.
“I work here, okay? So I can’t be your sister right now. You need to not know me, okay?”
“I’m sorry? I know that you work here, I just wanted to say hi because you didn’t seem busy.”
“Well, you’ve said hi, so are we finished here?” Erica looked up from the chart she had been staring at to give Sandra an annoyed look.
“You know what? You suck at being an older sister. And at being a decent human being, for that matter.”
Sandra stormed off angrily and left an equally-angry Erica behind.
“Are you okay?”
“Just peachy!” Erica turned to stare at Mark, wondering how much of the conversation he had overheard. When she felt tears starting to cloud her vision, she stormed past McSteamy into the nearest on-call room. Unfortunately for Erica, Mark decided to follow her.
“I want us to get along for Callie’s sake, so I’m going to ask you again: Are you okay?”
“No, I’m not *okay*.” Erica said and let out a long breath, eying Mark suspiciously. “What did you hear?”
“Just the part about your being a bad sister and, well…” He trailed off, not wanting to repeat the rest.
“You probably agree with her, don’t you?”
“No, I don’t. You’ve been good for Callie, you’ve really helped her get over Bambi. Will it make you better to fight with me or do you want to tell me what’s wrong?” Erica sighed, uncertain whether she could trust Sloan.
“You aren’t going to tell anyone about this conversation?”
“What happens in on-call rooms stays in on-call rooms.” Mark flashed Erica one of his trademark McSteamy grins. The blonde could only roll her eyes at him, but smiled a forced small grin back at him.
“How do you keep your private and professional life separate in this hospital?”
“Here? You don’t. Are we talking about Callie or about your sister?”
Erica pondered over the question for a moment. “My sister.”
“Is she ill?”
Another pause in which Erica wondered how much she could tell him. She was already letting her guard down immensely just by talking to him. Normally, conversations between the shallow plastic surgeon and the hardcore cardio goddess were full of teasing and jokes, not once had they talked seriously. Erica mocked the manwhore endlessly, careful to keep her protective wall up around him. She was fully aware of the impact his charm had on women and this knowledge made resisting him even better. Had she not worked with him, but met him at a bar, she would have just given in to his courting and it would have suited her well that he wasn’t a relationship kind of guy either. But the fact that they were working together made it impossible for her to even consider letting him take her out on a date.
“No, she’s not. But another relative of mine is.”
“Okay. I know that you’re adopted, so you can be open with me.”
Erica stared at Mark in disbelief. “Callie told you?”
“No, Angie did. I asked her about the age difference and she told me about her mother and that you two grew up together. She said that you were a great older sister.”
“She shouldn’t have told you about the adoption, that’s none of your business.”
“What’s wrong with being adopted? At least you had a family, parents who loved you.”
“My parents never cared for me. I had nannies who knew me better than my mother.” Mark shrugged carelessly but his voice gave away the fact that he did care. Are you trying to change the topic?”
“Is it working?”
“No. Listen, I can’t help you unless you tell me what’s wrong.”
“My mother is here, she’s the one who’s ill. I just don’t want the whole hospital to gossip about me and my family.”
"I think the nurses will respect your privacy."
Erica raised her eyebrows at Mark. "I highly doubt that the nurses even know the meaning of the word privacy. Having a family member in the hospital always changes how people treat you, I experienced that with Bailey's son. Everyone treated her differently, and she's liked and respected unlike me."
"People respect you around here."
The blonde smiled a sad smile at him, disbelief evident on her features. "Yeah, sure." Both doctors knew very well that while the cardio goddess was somewhat respected by most hospital employees, most people also harbored a certain dislike towards her.
"So, what, are you going to just ignore the fact that she's at the hospital?"
"That was the plan, yes."
"You can't just ignore your own mother. Besides, things like these always come out, especially here."
Erica seemed lost in thought for a moment, then her face turned into a look of determination. "Well, until it comes out, I won't have to worry about it, right. Erm ... Thanks, I guess." Erica pushed herself off the wall she had been leaning against and crossed the room, her hand already on the door knob when Mark spoke up. "Don't you think it will hurt you mother to be ignored by her own daughter who works at the same hospital she is getting treatment at?"
"Well, she will have to live with it." Erica left the room and walked to the nurses’ station, straightening her scrubs out as she went. She grabbed the chart she had been working on and left to see a patient, all the while being watched by Mark who stood at the door of the on-call room. When she was out of sight, McSteamy let out a long breath and ran his hand through his hair, wondering how badly this would end.
After her first two surgeries, Callie decided to check on Marie. Erica had told her on the phone yesterday that her mother had agreed to go to the hospital and have her tumor checked out by Derek and that she just couldn't be there for it. The cardio goddess needed to keep her private and professional life separate and Callie could hear the desperation in her lover's voice, so she hadn't argued with Erica. Erica had, however, not forbidden Callie to check on Marie, so she found out in which room Marie was staying and paid her a short visit. She had been there hardly five minutes when Meredith came in with the test results.
"Well, I guess I should go. Good luck." Callie squeezed Marie's hand and got up from the bed to walk outside, Sandra walking past her into the room.
Derek saw her exit the room and asked "Are we going to wait for Dr. Hahn?" Callie furrowed her brows and looked at him in confusion.
"Why, did the patient mention something about Erica?" Derek mirrored Callie's facial expression. "No, she didn't. I'm sorry, am I missing something here? I thought the patient was Dr. Hahn's mother, I- ... they look very much alike." Callie sighed and realized that she wasn't the only one who could immediately see their resemblance.
"Erica isn't coming. And I think she would appreciate it if you could keep your observation to yourself. She wants to protect her mother's privacy and you know how the nurses are." 'Bending the truth, just a bit'. Derek nodded commiserative and patted Callie's shoulder, a move that made Callie almost grin at his attempt at consolation.
"I understand. Maybe you can tell her that it looks good, I think she would be a great patient for us."
"I will. Thank you."
"You're welcome. I guess I'll talk to the patient now, see if I can convince her to have the surgery."
“Richard.” I knocked on the open door, stepping into the office after the Chief beckoned me over. I closed the door behind myself because I wanted some privacy for the request I would ask Richard for.
“What can I do for you, Erica?”
“I know I just took two days off last week, but I wanted to ask if it were possible to get two or three more days off this and next week?
“Of course, is everything alright with you?”
“Yes, but something came up with my family and I would just really appreciate it. Yang can handle my pre and post op patients and I’d just have to move two surgeries so far if I take Friday, Monday and Tuesday off.”
“Okay, just tell Bailey. I noticed the progress that Yang has made in the last days. Who knew she would be doing procedures on her own that fast?” ‘One way to put it.’ Richard smiled at me, this was his way of telling me that he had noticed my ‘improved’ teaching skills.
“It seems she has what it takes. She definitely has the determination it takes. Thank you for letting me take time off again, Richard.” I nodded at the Chief, giving him a small smile as I stood up and started walking towards the door.
“Wait, Erica. I hate to ask this, but… erm, do you … do I need you to fill out a new date-and-tell sheet?”
I swirled around, my eyes open wide in shock before I can help myself. ‘This can’t be. We were so careful, he can’t already know about me and Callie!’
“Gossip travels fast in this place and while I normally don’t believe everything I hear, I know how long Mark has been after you.”
“Sloan? You’ve got to be kidding me!” I huffed and let out a chuckle. “What makes you think that Sloan and I are *dating*? That’s ridiculous!”
“Is it? People saw you exit and on-call room with him close behind. I’ve heard it from two sides, so there’s got to be some truth to this.”
I let out a laugh, relieve washing through my body.
“Did you really think that *I*, of all people, had sex with Mark Sloan in an on-call room? We were just talking about something, that’s all. We weren’t even in there for more than five minutes.”
“Okay, good.” He nodded, but stared at me as if there was something else on his mind. “You just looked like a deer caught in the headlights, so I have to assume that you are seeing someone.”
I rolled my eyes and forced a smile on my lips, crossing my fingers that he wouldn’t see right through my lie. “No, I’m not. Besides, I know how to keep my private and professional live separate, you should know that by now.”
“Erica. It’s hospital policy, the hospital needs to protect itself from lawsuits.”
“Well, I’m not going to sue anyone and I can assure you that she won’t either, so-” I put my hand over my mouth as I tried to shove back the words that had just left said mouth, but it was too late. My eyes were wide as I stared at Richard, willing myself to say something, anything, but my mind was blank. There was nothing I could have said that would erase what Richard had just heard.
“She? Oh god.” The Chief shook his head and looked at me in disbelief. “You’re not sleeping with Yang, are you?”
“No!” I was so upset and angry at his suggestion that I protested strongly.
“You’ve been letting her scrub in all the time all of a sudden, I just want to make sure I don’t have another Burke situation on my hands.”
“Yang is my student. You told me I needed to teach her.” I accused, trying hard to keep my calm. “I don’t even like her.”
“Good. She already went through enough because she couldn’t keep her hands off her mentors.” Richard sighed, obviously torn between hospital policy and the trust he had in me. “It’s just a sheet of paper, Erica, and I can promise you that no one will ever get to see it.”
“Well, I’m still not going to fill out the form. You don’t have any proof and I can always just deny it. And if this hospital can’t respect my private life, I’m sure Mercy West will have no problem with that. And, Richard … if any of this leaves your office, I WILL go back to Mercy West!” It took all of my strength to appear calm and full of myself, but as soon as the words were out I turned and bolted out of the door, quickly walking down the hallway and into the staircase. I leaned against the door and let out a long, shaky breath. “Fuck!”
I knew that I had to calm myself down and I really didn’t want anyone to see me in the state I was in right now. I felt my hands trembling and shook them hard, willing them to stop shaking. I walked down the stairs, past two doors until I reached the last floor and entered the basement. Looking around, I saw that the hallways were empty, the calm settling my nerves slightly. I fished out my phone and paged Callie with a 911, directing her to where I was standing. Sighing, I leaned against the wall and took deep breaths, trying but failing miserably to stop the thoughts that were running through my mind.
‘Great, just great. So I teach Yang like *he* told me to and this is his thanks? He accuses me of sleeping with her? Just great. Calm down. Let’s just hope that he’ll let the topic slide, he knows that he has nothing in his hands. I’m too good to be fired over something like this and he knows that. He might know that I was bluffing, but I’m sure Mercy West would take me back with open arms. No, he wouldn’t risk losing me over a date-and-tell form, I’m a cardio goddess for god’s sake!’
I heard someone approach my hiding place and turned my head in time to see Callie storm through the door, looking around frantically. She spotted me and closed the distance between us with four fast steps, touching my shoulders and waist immediately.
“What happened, are you okay, are you hurt?” Callie panted, obviously she had just ran down the stairs.
“I’m not hurt. I just- … I think I might have lost my job and outed us all in once.” I closed my eyes, not wanting to see the expression on Callie’s face. Callie, in the meantime, tried to catch her breath, still panting hard. “What happened?”
“Richard thought I sleep with Sloan and asked me to fill out a date-and-tell sheet and I refused, but he wouldn’t back down so I said something like ‘I’m not going to sue and she isn’t going to either.’ That’s when he conveniently assumed that I am sleeping with Yang, which is even more ridiculous!” I let out a laugh that I really didn’t feel and looked at Callie who was eyeing me intently. “So I told him that I’m not sleeping with Yang and that I would go back to Mercy West if he tried to make me fill out a form.”
I slumped forward slightly, staring at my shoes as if they were the most interesting pair of shoes I’d ever seen. I knew that Callie’s name hadn’t been mentioned in my conversation with the Chief, so if Callie wanted to get out of this mess she could still easily do it. I wouldn’t blame her, had I been able to think before I spoke I wouldn’t have gotten into this mess. “He has no clue that it’s you, so I would understand if you wanted to break things off for a while, letting it cool down, you know.” I muttered, still staring at my shoes. It physically hurt me to say what I thought was needed to be said, even if the pain in my chest almost made me cry out. I didn’t want Callie to break up with me, but I wasn’t sure how I would have reacted if the roles had been reversed. The least I could do was give her a choice and see how she felt.
“I’m in this. No breaking up needed. I don’t care whether the Chief knows about us, I know for a fact that while he always hears all the rumors, he would never take part in the rumor mill actively. So if you want to tell him it’s me you’re seeing, I’m fine with that. I can go with you, tell him that you’re not sleeping with Cristina. Jesus!” Callie let out a chuckle that surprised me and I looked at her in wonder. “How in the world did he come up with the idea that you are seeing Cristina? You don’t even like her!”
“That’s what I said too!” I laughed as well, as always being infected by Callie’s good temper. Even when I was angry, Callie was able to make me feel better instantly. Her smile seemed to radiate directly into my body and fill the pit of my stomach with a warmth I hadn’t felt in a long time.
“God, what do I do now Callie? I was still fairly respectful towards him, but I can’t imagine facing him after what I said to him. I mean, I threatened to quit my job over a stupid date-and-tell form! Damn Sloan, if he could keep his pants on for longer than five minutes I wouldn’t even have to think about such a form!” Callie pulled me off the wall and embraced me, drawing circles over my back to sooth me the same way I always did for her. I smiled into her hair at the gesture and was astonished at how easily Callie made me open up and let her see my vulnerable side.
“How did he come up with the idea that you are seeing Mark?”
I let out a sigh and decided to go with the truth, not having any energy left for making up a story.
“Sloan and I talked today, in an on-call room, and someone saw us leave it shortly after one another, so naturally, this person’s mind went to the gutter immediately.”
Callie chuckled again, not surprised by what this person had come up with. “People at this hospital think about sex way too much. But that’s just Mark’s reputation, he lusted after you for so long that most people in this hospital lost loads of money to Nurse Tylor. Like, a hundred bucks and more!”
I pulled back to look at Callie in surprise. “Why did they lose money? What does that have to do with anything?”
“People were betting on the time it would take Mark to get into your pants and Tylor was the only one who said that it would never happen. I should have put some money on you too, but I thought it was a bit insulting that people would bet on something like that. Besides, I knew you well enough already to know that Mark didn’t stand a chance, so it would have felt like cheating.”
“Great. The people working in this hospital are just so nice and respecting towards privacy. Unbelievable.”
I shook my head and leaned into her embrace again, relishing how warm and soft her body felt against mine. The smell of her hair infiltrated my nose and I inhaled deeply, trying to store her distinct *Callie* smell into my brain.
“Erica? Listen, the Chief is smart enough to not fire you over something small like this. I bet in a few weeks you’ll be laughing about your disagreement. Let’s just fill out the form and go back to our lives.” Callie spoke softly, as if she was trying to get me to think logically, which was hard when it came to her and our relationship.
“No! I don’t want to!” I knew that I was being stubborn and unreasonable, but I wasn’t ready for anyone to know about us yet. Richard was my superior and even though we got along most of the time, we weren’t even close to being friends. To think of him as anything more than my boss irritated me immensely, as I never blurred the lines between work and play. Ever.
Only, now I had. The minute I started going out dancing with Callie the line started to blur and it only got worse the more my feelings for her evolved. I had been living in this bubble of denial and now I was paying the price. I wasn’t even sure if I had really believed that we would be able to have a relationship at home and simply be colleagues at work or if I had just enjoyed my feelings so much that I completely shut out reality. Whatever my mistake had been, I wasn’t going to be able to turn back time or take back what I had said to Richard and now I would have to find a way to undo the mistake. My slip was a minor setback, but I wouldn’t put my reputation at risk over a stupid hospital policy.
Sighing, I leaned back, my arms still on Callie’s waist. “I will just ignore the stupid form. I made myself perfectly clear and he can’t really do anything about it, can he?” I took a deep breath and smiled at her, once again amazed at how beautiful the woman in my arms was. I could drink in her beauty ever second of every day and I would still not have enough. “Thank you. For- … you know, for coming here. Talking to me.” I leaned in and kissed her softly, slowly letting my tongue trace over her bottom lip and felt her sigh against me.
After Erica’s panicked page to the basement, we went back to work, then both got off at six and returned to her house. While I ordered takeout, Erica called her mother and invited her over. We ate in silence as I was still thinking about her refusal to be honest about our relationship. I had always had a good relationship with the Chief and it hurt me to think that I was lying to him. Even though I wouldn’t admit it out loud, it also hurt to hear Erica refuse to be open about our relationship the way she did. As if our secret had to be kept secret at all cost. I knew that we had just started dating, but I wanted to come out eventually. I had already told my friends about us and even Cristina knew, so being open at the hospital was just a matter of time for me. Apparently, Erica thought differently, but I was afraid to approach the topic. When Erica had confessed what had happened, she hadn’t even looked me in the eye, as if she had been afraid of my reaction. I knew that I was in this for the long-term, but I wondered whether Erica knew that as well.
“I love you.” I blurted, realizing that this was not the most romantic way to put my feelings into words. While we had said those words days early, we weren’t throwing them around like some couples liked to do. This was actually only the second time I told Erica about my feelings, or at least the second time I spoke them out loud. My feelings for her were clear every time I stared into her blue orbs in wonder or traced my tongue across her soft skin.
“I love you too.” Erica looked at me puzzled, clearly wondering where that had just come from.
“I know that we just started dating, but we are going to come out eventually, right? I mean we’re not going to hide this forever, are we?”
Erica sighed and shifted in her seat, looking down at her plate. The fact that she wouldn’t look me in the eyes spoke louder than any words she could have said.
“Erica, look at me. We can’t hide forever, I mean what if we move in together. Are we going to pretend that we are just roommates?”
“I … I-” Erica sighed and looked up at me, finally meeting my eyes. “I don’t know, Callie. I haven’t figured that out yet. I mean, we told our friends, right, shouldn’t that be enough? I’m not saying that nobody can know about us, but at work…” She paused and looked down at her plate. I waited and as I thought of something to say, she spoke again. “There’s so much to consider, I mean everyone is going to assume that I’m, you know, a lesbian and that I hate men or something like that. We’re doctors, our reputation is important to us. I know you don’t care what other people think about you and I love that about you, but I don’t have that luxury. I want people to talk about my work, the procedures I perform, not the fact that I’m in love with a woman. Besides, we have to work when we’re at the hospital anyways, so I don’t really see that much difference between acting like friends and acting like a couple. We both agreed that we wouldn’t meet in on-call rooms or something like that, so…”
I felt the tears well up in my eyes as I stared at my food, willing them not to spill over. I had thought that for once, I would be the top priority for someone else, and again I was put second to something that I couldn’t fight. Going in, I had known that Erica’s work was important to her. Hell, I could understand that surgery was everything to her, just as it was for me. But I would have been ready to put her first, even before my beloved surgeries. I sniffled, still trying to hide that the tears were now streaming down my face.
“I’m sorry.” Erica said softly, so softly in fact that I nearly hadn’t heard it. Just as I was about to reply, the door bell rang and Erica sighed. She got up and didn’t leave immediately, but stopped to kiss me on the head. As she welcomed her family I tried to compose myself and wiped the tears away with my sleeve, hoping that my eyes weren’t red already.
A/N: *Sigh*. I’m not happy with this chapter. I want to wrap the story up before my classes at university start again (in two weeks). I won’t be able to finish the story before the season premiere on Thursday, but I figured since we won’t have that much Callica anyways, it doesn’t really matter. Comments would be highly appreciated. Should Erica fill out the form? Are they going to find a solution for this? Is Erica’s mum going to die? Hm, so many questions, so much to ponder.