Title: Heart Bug - Chapter One
Rating: PG-13 for now, will jump to R/NC-17 later
Summary: Erica has moved on to a new life and new set of adventures in Washington DC. There are new friends, students and women and an old mentor.
Disclaimer: I do not own Grey's Anatomy, nor any of the characters in it. Everything in this story is fictional and I am not making a profit from this.
A/N: Ok, so as much as I'm glad that Callie and Arizona are not splitting up, I'm a Callica, and specifically an Erica, fan at heart. So I was in the mood to fiddle with an Erica piece for a while. First two parts are up, more will be coming shortly. I'm taking total liberty with all the medicine and mostly everything else here, haha. Hopefully, enjoy.
"Ok, I'm all finished here, Dr. Dylan, would you like to close for me?"
"Yes, of course Dr. Hahn," replied Dr. Sydney Dylan quickly. The fourth year resident quickly and confidently asked for the appropriate instruments from the scrub nurse, not forgetting to throw a quick smile her way.
"I could assist in closing, Dr. Hahn!" Dr. Jacob Dillinger jumped in eagerly. Also a fourth year, Jacob shot a wide eyed look at Erica Hahn, hoping his puppy dog face might persuade her.
"It only takes one over eager resident to close here, doctors," Erica replied firmly, already on her way out of the OR. She took a breath and surveyed her team of doctors in the room, from attendings to interns. She was satisfied with the level of skill in the room. "You'll get the next one, Dillinger."
Sydney couldn't help sticking her tongue out at Jake, realizing too late her friend and top competitor couldn't appreciate it from under her mask. She made sure to add a "ha ha" as she focused on the stitches under her needle.
"Whatever Dylan, the next case is mine. And it'll be something better than this. Maybe a transplant . . . or a super trauma . . . or a –"
"You're morbid, you know that, right?" Sydney cut in.
"No, just ambitious. That's why I'm going to be a cardio god here one day," Jake said in what would sound like a pompous voice to anyone who didn't know the all too sweet cardio resident.
"Well, I guess it's really unfortunate for you then that Hahn likes me better. And she's going to teach me all her cardio secrets. And then I'll leave you in the cardio dust. Maybe you should just switch into derm now. Save yourself some work."
"Pshhh, it's just because you're a girl. And Hahn likes - "
Erica, who had been watching and listening through the activated intercom this entire time decided to cut off her residents before they got into trouble.
"Hey you two," she interjected in her gravely, authoritative tone, "I can still hear you, you know. And at this rate, I'm not going to teach either one of you anything." She turned off the intercom, having finished scrubbing out, and actually laughed to herself. She watched the two residents stiffen up and mouth 'I'm sorries' through the window. As she walked out of the scrub room into the hallways of Georgetown University Hospital, she allowed herself to reflect on her situation here.
Erica never thought there would be a time when she would be happy to have not one, but two, eager cardio residents on her service on a regular basis. But two things made this situation different than her time teaching at Seattle Grace. First of all, Sydney Dylan and Jake Dillinger were somehow less annoying than Cristina Yang, even though they were just as driven. Erica suspected it had something to do with the fact that they were a pair; the two had been best friends since they began their internships together and most of their competitive spirit was channeled in between each other. Erica found herself able to be amused at their drive and spirited personalities since they were not harping on her, but rather on each other. The pair was also able to separate personal relationship from their professional endeavors, although Erica had noticed that Sydney was a smidge better than Jake at this.
"And here are the rest of my charts for the day, signed and delivered," Hahn said as she handed the stack over to Jennifer, a young cardio nurse, in reception.
"Thanks Dr. Hahn. You done for the day?" Jennifer asked, more than a note of intrigue lingering in her voice. Erica had come to accept that Jackie was indeed flirting with her. At first, she had been reluctant to believe it, only accepting that the younger woman had it bad for her after a decent amount of persuasion by her friend, Dr. Kate Robinson, an attending in general surgery.
"I am done. And looking forward to a hot bath, some greasy take out, and my day off tomorrow."
"Greasy food, Erica? And you're supposed to be a cardio god?" Jennifer retorted, shaking her head in a mocking gesture of reproach.
"Just one of the benefits eating oatmeal and brussel sprouts for the last twenty years has afforded me, Jen." Erica smirked, nodding her head and leaving to find the attendings lounge.
She continued her inner monologue of reflection, and thought about the other reason she was able to teach Dylan and Dillinger, whom most in the hospital lovingly referred to as the Double D's, effectively, and even enjoy it once and a while. And that was simply her new situation here at Georgetown. If she was being totally honest with herself, it was more her change in perspective since leaving Seattle and settling here in Washington DC. She was comfortable for the first time in a good number of years, and although her tribulations in Seattle had driven her here, it was also because of them that she had reached this new stage of her life.
Erica was not afraid of surgery. She was not afraid of challenges in the OR, nor standing up to colleagues and superiors. She didn't balk at hard work or at cozying right up to the boundaries of the cardiothoracic field. She did however become tentative at the idea of personal relationships. She didn't enter into close relationships often, but if and when she did, she expected loyalty, her personality and its imperfections demanded it. It's not that she didn't do well with betrayal, it was that Erica Hahn didn't do betrayal at all. And perhaps that was a dramatic way to look at what Callie had done to her, but it ended up in the same feelings anyway. So in her mind she had no choice but to leave.
Upon taking the position as head of cardio at Georgetown and settling back into a mid-Atlantic home for the second time in her life, Erica realized she had two options. Coming from this personal tragedy, she could let it destroy her or she could start over. For the first time in her life, she was sure of what she wanted in the people around her, sure of what she wanted in someone to date. And she had figured that getting her heart destroyed after coming out to her best friend was probably the worst of what life could throw at her for now. And so she went in to this new job, this new stage of her life, expecting nothing, but at the same time, knowing it could only get better from here.
Erica made it to her locker and stripped off her scrubs and pulled on some jeans and a t-shirt. She was now head of cardiothoracics at a respected hospital, had good working relationships with her fellow attendings as well as her residents, and even had a couple doctors she would consider good friends within the hospital. She liked Washington DC, considering it to be Baltimore for adults. She was slowly rebounding from the drama of Seattle Grace, and while life was still hard at times and she couldn't say things were perfect, she was content and there were more than a few moments where she actually felt pretty happy. She even laughed quietly to herself as she realized she had spent just over nine months not having to worry about carrying an umbrella out of the hospital each night.
"Ok, I knew you were crazy Erica, but laughing to yourself just makes me think your old ass is suffering from dementia," a voice said, as the door to the attendings lounge opened and closed.
Erica turned around to see Dr. Kate Robinson, the first person who had reached out to her in DC and the person whom she considered her best friend here. Kate was small and loud, quick-witted and almost as stubborn as Erica. She was mildly famous around the hospital for a fairly dirty mouth and her marriage to Josh Swift, a ridiculously attractive male nurse who was a mere 25 years old. Normally, Erica would have been off put by someone like Kate, but Kate wouldn't take no in regards to their friendship, and eventually Erica had become grateful for that.
"Can it, Kate. Having flings with boys half your age doesn't make you any younger. If I'm in the market to go crazy, you won't be far behind me," Erica replied, smiling the whole time.
"Ha. My fling is not a fling. It is a marriage, a happy one at that. And maybe if you found yourself a hot little number, you'd have someone to laugh with, instead of giggling at god knows what alone in here."
"I don't need a 'hot little number' Kate. I need a hot bath and a glass of wine," she said, rubbing the back of her neck.
"Hmm, is that why Jennifer was mumbling on about hot baths and greasy food just now?"
"Oy, probably," Erica sighed, "I really don't know how to be any more direct with her – it's getting a little embarrassing at this point."
"Yeah, hot twenty-somethings wanting your ass are always embarrassing. Just do what I did and make it official. Makes it less scandalous."
"Only marginally. And no. It's not her age. It's her personality, her lack of experience, her . . . when I do date someone again, I want it to be someone of substance. Someone who is stable, and sane and knows what they want out of life."
"Sorry E, I'm taken," Kate just barely stuck her finger in her mouth, pouting with sexy bedroom eyes, her short blonde bob bouncing up and down a little.
Erica just pursed her lips and shook her head. "What were you doing in the cardio wing anyway?"
"Looking for you hot stuff. Wanted to make sure we were still on for dinner tomorrow night."
"Yeah, my brother is opening a new restaurant in Dupont Circle . . . The gayborhood . . . You're my gay friend . . . It just makes sense. You forgot, didn't you?" Kate genuinely looked hurt.
Erica quickly assuaged her fears, "No, it just slipped my mind. I was thinking about my trip up to Baltimore tomorrow. Although, I'm still a little uncomfortable being your token gay friend. I mean, I haven't even managed a successful gay relationship yet," Erica laughed, despite herself.
"First, Erica, you will. You're hot, you're smart, and you have an ass to die for," Kate said deadpan serious as she placed her hand on Erica's shoulder. "Secondly, are you still nervous about tomorrow?"
"I'm just not sure what he could want. My old mentor calls after ten years and asks me to come see him and he won't say why. I know I'm just over thinking, but I can't help it. I hope nothing's wrong," Erica contemplated.
"It's probably nothing," Kate agreed, "Or he's dying and wants you to inherit his fortune and cardio legacy."
"Thanks," Erica said sarcastically. She added, "But seriously, if he tries to leave me a cat or something in his will, what do I do?"
Kate laughed out loud as the two surgeons began to walk out of the hospital together. "You be thankful he doesn't have any children!"
They were both laughing now as they stepped out into the cool Washington DC spring. Erica smiled, relishing one of those moments where she knew contentment bordered on happiness.
"Ok lady, I'll give you a call on my way back from Baltimore tomorrow and then I'll come be your date for the night."
"Sounds good, night Erica."
The sun was just beginning to fade as Erica drove her new Audi convertible the short distance to her house in the Woodly Park neighborhood of the city. She had bought the car shortly after moving east as a present to herself, a standing congratulations for simply surviving Seattle and its drama. Kate made many references to the car as a mid-life crisis purchase as well as a substitute girlfriend, but Erica dismissed them all whenever she got the chance to speed around the beltway. Which was actually rarely, considering the horrendous traffic in DC.
Tonight, she was grateful for her short commute, a peaceful ride really through the neighborhood streets of DC. She was getting to know the businesses around her home, as well as the parks, the running routes, and the people. As she pulled into her small driveway, she actually saw her two neighbors to her right out on their front porch. Craig and David had lived in their house for seven years and made sure that Erica knew they were thankful for her moving in, since it meant the stuffy Republican couple that lived there previously had moved out. Erica really did some contemplating about karma and fate when she realized she had bought a home next to a gay couple, but in the end had rationally chalked it up to mathematical coincidence.
She got out of her car and waved to the two young men, "Evening guys," she called over.
"Hi Erica, how are you?" David asked politely.
"Oh hanging in there, you know."
"Any big plans for the weekend? It's supposed to be gorgeous."
"Just a quick trip up to Baltimore tomorrow morning and then a restaurant opening with a friend tomorrow night."
"Ooh, anywhere good? We just keep going to the same old places around here," Craig lamented offhandedly.
"It's my friend's brother's new place. Somewhere in Dupont, I think," Erica replied.
"Hmm, well tell us if it's good, we might have to check it out. We do tend to spend enough time down there," David said.
"Well, we used to, when we used to go out. Now we just sit around here like old, boring men," Craig added.
"Well, some of us have grown up jobs that start early in the morning," David said firmly.
"And some of us are artists, being led around by pure inspiration and not clocks!" Craig illustrated his point with his hands, leading Erica to wonder just how many gay men were this stereotypical. She laughed and shook her head just a little.
"I'll definitely be in touch guys, have a good night," she waved and made for her stairs.
"Night Erica," they managed to say in unison.
Erica walked inside her newly renovated row house, kicking off her shoes, hanging up her coat, and throwing her keys in the basket by the door. She immediately walked into her kitchen, popped the cork on an already open bottle of Cabernet and poured herself a glass. She sat down on her living room couch and clicked on the tv to the evening news. She sipped for a few minutes, letting her mind go blank, letting the surgeries and sick patients and paperwork stress drain from her mind and body. After finding some success with Dr. Wyatt in Seattle, Erica had decided to continue seeing a counselor in DC. She was still a surgeon, instinctively drawn toward being proactive, and thus therapy was a logical addition to her life. Her new therapist had suggested the mind drain technique for relaxing, and tonight after realizing she had no idea what the local news anchor had been saying for the past five minutes, grudgingly relented that it wasn't a bad technique.
With her mind clear now, her thoughts wandered back to her meeting with Dr. Max Greenfield, the cardiologist who had taught her most of what she knew back as a resident. The cardio surgeon who had taken Erica under his care, both professionally and personally at the beginning of her career. Erica still remembered the years in his OR vividly. In those days, her intelligence and skills were already burgeoning but her sense of confidence was hardly developed yet.
Her father had died when Erica was only three and her mother had worked non-stop to be able to provide for Erica and her younger brother, Aaron. Erica worked hard through high school and college, focusing on schoolwork above anything else. She did have friends, even a few close ones over the years and had dated different boys throughout her time at school. She thought back to Matt Hensen, whom she had dated throughout medical school and into her first couple years of residency. They had worked well as a couple because they were so personally driven. They respected each other's need to study hard and progress professionally and were good enough at the couple thing to attend functions and share a bed together. It had ended with a fizzle rather than a bang when the pair simply realized there was not spark enough to turn their comfortable relationship into anything more permanent, like marriage. Neither had been too upset to see it end.
But without a doubt, Erica's relationship with Dr. Greenfield had been the most meaningful and intense she had experienced to that point in her life. He recognized what she had yet to even see in herself back then, and instantly began to teach her, both inside and outside of the OR. He refined her skills with a scalpel, and taught her to be proud and confident of her abilities. She remembered a dinner with Max after she had taken her first attending position at Seattle Presbyterian.
"The new position is great, Max. The chief is wonderful, the other attendings have been supportive, but . . . I think I overheard some residents commenting about my ego," Erica said, shrugging her shoulders, "I blame you."
"Haha," Max chuckled, "I've created a monster. Albeit a wonderfully brilliant, talented monster. And I'll take that in cardio any day."
Erica knew that without Dr. Greenfield, she would still be a talented surgeon, but no where near the cardio god that she had become already in her career. She owed a lot to him, and so when he called her after finding out she was back on the East coast, she could hardly refuse to go visit him up at Johns Hopkins, where she had studied years ago. She was concerned, however, that he refused to disclose the details of their visit.
"Can't an old surgeon just invite his favorite student out to lunch to catch up, Erica?" Dr. Greenfield asked innocently.
"Well, of course Max. And you know I'm always up for a chance to stay in touch. It's just that I've been in DC for nearly nine months now, and you're only calling me now. You taught me all your sneaky tricks, don't think that you can pull them on me now," Erica replied.
"Well, then you're just going to have to humor me and come up to Baltimore this weekend."
"Alright, I'll come," Erica paused, "But it better not be bad news, I've already had a hell of a year."
Erica had finished her wine and decided that the news was depressing anyway. She turned off the tv and headed into her bedroom, really more excited than she should have been about being able to sleep in on her day off tomorrow.