All That We Let In
may not see it when it's sticking to your skin
But we're better off for all that we let in"
It was a thing, the drinks. Callie went for coffee in the hospital cafeteria. Addison went for alcohol at Joe's. When Miranda joined in, it was with one of them, or the other, or both. It didn't matter. This having friends business was new to her. She had been so focused on her career, then on her child, then on her child and her career. Friends never really seemed to factor in. But the drinks, that had been Tucker's idea. It was their new arrangement, the hour's grace.
"Balance is good for you," he told her.
She didn't answer, but he could read it in her eyes: she felt like she was being a bad mother if she spent a single non-working minute with anyone but Little Tuck.
"They go for drinks?" he asked her one night. He had brought Tuck in to pick her up at the hospital, and saw the other two leave together.
She nodded. "Yeah. They go for drinks."
"Go with them. You'll come home happier."
"But you…but Tuck…"
"We aren't girls, baby. You need girls."
"Hey. I'm not saying we don't want you home. Course we do. Just saying that if you ever want an hour's grace, you take it. Little Tuck and me can hold down the fort that much longer. Go out with your girls, get in your R&R time. It's good for you, so it's good for us. You know?"
She did know. And she loved him to bits, because he knew too. She kept it confined to the quick breaks at work, or the hour afterward, the grace period of Tuck's suggestion. It wasn't too much time to take away from her men, but it was just enough to unwind a little and yes, have some girl time. When had she started needing that? Maybe it really was possible to be a surgeon and have a life too?
But as she got entangled with the two of them, she started wondering if maybe too much of a personal life could be a bad thing. Not that she wasn't starting to love the unexpected gift of the relationship which was blossoming between them. But the drama! Although she heard more griping about O'Malley than she cared to, at least Callie had a sense of humour about the whole thing. Addison, however, was a different story.
"I mean, I'm an ortho girl through and through," Callie said one day, over coffee. "So this head shrink stuff is coming from a place of the completely amateur. But this thing with Addison…"
"The drinks at Joe's? The McNights with McSteamy? The hotel room full of gaping lonely?"
"All of which you do, or did have in common," she pointed out.
"Fair enough. But I didn't wander through any of it with deadened eyes, looking like somebody kicked my puppy, either. Miranda, did it ever occur to you that this might not be just 'going through a difficult time?' Did it ever occur to you that this might be actual, diagnosable depression here?"
"So, what, you want me to talk to her? We do talk. And she tells me to leave it be, tells me that's she's fine, tells me to relax and come have some drinks with her."
"And that doesn't strike you as just the teeniest bit dysfunctional?"
"Look, you have interns. They get assigned to her. Can't you send one of them in to do a little recon or something, find out if this is just me being paranoid?"
"My interns don't spy."
"Look, Miranda, she needs us, okay? Derek walks by her in the hallway and doesn't even look her in the eye. When she collapsed after toxic girl, he didn't even look back to see if she was okay. We're the only friends she has in Seattle."
She sighed. "You have a preference for any particular intern?"
O'Malley was staring at her with that puppy dog in the headlights hangdog face. "What do you mean, how was she?"
"You just spent the last four hours in surgery with the woman, O'Malley. So, how did she seem?"
"She seemed fine."
"Did she talk much? Crack any jokes? Crack any smiles?"
"We were performing a delicate procedure on a high-risk pregnant woman, Dr. Bailey. It was pretty serious in there."
She fidgeted a little, sending that she wasn't handling this in the most elegant way. She gave herself a minute to think of something to say. But the best she could come up with was a curt "Right. Of course it was."
She reported the conversation to Callie at once, and all her friend could do was shake her head. "Honestly. I give you one task…"
"I was trying to be discreet."
"That was your first mistake. He's a boy, he doesn't get 'discreet.' And you are a hard-ass, so apparently, you don't get it either. I'll handle this."
She roved her eyes across the cafeteria, spotted George. Then she put her two index fingers between her lips and let loose with a loud whistle. Heads spun in her direction. She caught George's eye and snapped her fingers. He traded puzzled glances with Stevens, then left her at their table and came over.
"Hey, George. Look, here's the thing. Bailey's putting you with Addison again. We want you to keep an eye on her."
He frowned. "I don't…"
"Yeah. Look, I don't want to get into a whole big whatever. She has stuff going on, and some of it, you know about. Some of it, you don't. Some of it, Bailey and me don't, either. We just want to know if we're in 'going through a thing' territory, or something more."
An internal struggle played out on his face and was resolved. He sighed. "Anything in particular you want me to watch for?"
"Just report back to us after your shift. Tell us how it went."
"I'm not sure I feel right about this."
"You don't have to be sure. George…it's important. I wouldn't ask if it wasn't important."
She was cleaning up charts at the admit desk when George checked in with her again. "We lost our patient," he told her.
"High risk from this morning?"
"The very same."
She shoved the papers aside, all ears. "And?"
"And she seemed okay. I mean, sad, you know? Serious. But no big, like, meltdown or anything. Said she was going to her office to finish up her notes."
"But?" she prompted.
"Well…look, maybe this is nothing. Maybe it's just reaching a little because I know you're looking for something. But…it almost felt like she was a little too okay, you know?"
She did know. But she needed to hear him explain it to her. "How so, O'Malley?"
"Like…you could see how tense she was. Her hands were all clenchy, and I think she was grinding her teeth. And the nurses were all hey, are you okay, and she was totally pretending she was. Even I could see through the act. But she didn't need to be pretending, you know? If she was upset…I mean, tough surgery, young patient, it would have been normal to be. A lot of the nurses were wiping away tears. But Dr. Montgomery…"
Maybe she preferred to hold it in until she was alone with it. To not show that vulnerable side in front of patients, interns, nurses. That made sense, but it didn't feel right to her. Or maybe Addison really had been having her meltdown after all? Maybe she had been having it right there, in front of them, but she had been doing it inside, where nobody would see the pain and nobody would try to comfort her. Because if nobody tries to comfort you, you get to keep on feeling bad? And there isn't any reason not to keep wallowing?
Screw that. Callie was right after all. Their friend needed help.