A/N: So I just discovered this series two weeks ago with the Season 1 marathon and I am now totally obsessed. I ran out and bought the DVD set the day it came out so I could finish catching up. But so far, Season 2 has been a little... underwhelming. This is a post-ep for "Old Ghosts" because I really thought Callie and Jim needed to talk after all the drama in that episode.
Disclaimer: Nothing here belongs to me. Sadly.
Patching Things Up
Callie fidgeted awkwardly as she waited for Jim to answer the door.
It was late. She'd just gotten off work after a crazy shift and she needed to get home so Ray could catch the last bus back to his place. But she and Jim had barely talked lately and, after all the drama of the day, she really needed to see him and make sure he was okay. That they were okay. The fact that she was waiting for him to answer the door at all was a sign of how strange things had gotten between them. He always left it unlocked when he was home and she usually walked right in. She just wasn't sure where they stood now and she hated it.
The sound of the lock turning brought her out of her thoughts and she looked up in time to see Jim's outline through the frosted glass right before it swung open.
He frowned at her in confusion. "Callie? You knocked."
She ducked her head, feeling stupid. "You locked the door," she pointed out, although she'd just realized that.
"Oh. Right, sorry. There was a lot of, um..."
He waved his arm vaguely, fumbling to explain without giving any details that might worry her, and she decided to just interrupt and save him the trouble.
"I saw Sam at the hospital. I know what happened."
"Right." It was his turn to duck his head sheepishly.
"Can I come in?" she finally asked to interrupt the awkward silence.
Jim started. "Yeah, of course. Sorry."
He stepped back to let her in and shut the door behind her. She raised an eyebrow when he locked it again and glanced through the glass at the empty street before turning back to her.
"You know, I always thought it was a little weird you were so lax about security."
He shrugged. "Yeah, well, having a serial killer wandering around your house will change that in a hurry."
Her eyes widened. "Was he in the house?"
"No, just the backyard. Not that that makes me feel any better."
She nodded. It didn't make her feel any better either. It terrified her to think that it could have been Jim who came into the ER tonight. He'd been here to save Sam, but what if he'd been alone? Who would have saved him if the killer had decided to go after him instead?
She changed the subject to distract herself from that train of thought. "So the guy I treated earlier for the dog bite, that wasn't him?"
Jim shook his head and guided her toward the kitchen. "No. But Haynes is being investigated for another murder, so that doesn't mean you weren't in danger."
She had trouble wrapping her mind around that. They'd each had a close encounter with two different killers in one day? This kind of thing had never happened to her before she met Jim. Spying an open beer bottle on the kitchen counter, she grabbed it reflexively and downed a mouthful to soothe her frayed nerves.
"How's Sam?" Jim's tone and expression were carefully neutral, but she could read his concern in the crossed arms and stiff set of his shoulders.
"She's fine," Callie assured him. "They checked her over at the hospital and there's some bruising, but nothing serious. She's already been discharged."
She tried to gauge his relief at the news. She'd heard through the hospital grapevine about his frantic search for her earlier and she'd felt his relief when he finally found her, safe and oblivious to the danger. She knew how much Jim cared about her. But she still didn't really know the story between him and this ex-partner/girlfriend of his and that made her nervous.
His shoulders relaxed a little, arms falling to his sides, but he didn't give away much else. "Good. That's… good."
Callie studied him as he moved closer and stole back his beer, lost in thought, and she suddenly realized why she'd been worried about him all day. The playfulness, the humor, that cocky smirk that usually made her want to hit him or kiss him depending on the situation- they were all gone. Even now, after solving the case that had haunted him for years, he was quiet and withdrawn. She wondered why. Was it the case, the reappearance of his ex, or the tension between the two of them?
He'd changed out of the button-down shirt and cargoes from earlier into a t-shirt and shorts. When he took a sip and lowered the beer back to the counter, her gaze caught on an ugly red welt on the inside of his forearm.
"Jim, what happened?" she demanded, grabbing his wrist to hold him still for a better look. "That looks like… Is that a dog bite?" She stared at him, knowing it wasn't a coincidence he shared the same wound as the killer she'd treated that afternoon.
He avoided meeting her eyes and tried to take his arm back, but she kept it in a firm grip.
"It's fine. Didn't even break the skin. And I just got a tetanus shot, remember?" he deflected, flashing a disarming grin.
Her eyes narrowed. "You're even worse with animals than you are with people, aren't you?"
"Hey, that's not fair!" he protested. "Dogs love me! Usually. It was Haynes that pissed this one off."
She shot him a disbelieving look and shook her head.
"Sit down and let me take a look at it. Where's your first aid kit?"
"It's fine, Cal," he started to object, but she silenced him with a glare. "In the bathroom cabinet," he finally conceded, dropping onto a stool and taking another sip of his beer.
She had the kit open in front of her a minute later as she examined his arm more closely.
"It did break the skin," she corrected reproachfully. "Just the top layer. You've got a few light scratches. Let me clean it because I'm betting you never did and I don't want it to get infected. Other than that, just take some Advil for the pain until the bruising goes down."
"Yes, Dr. Cargill," he quipped and she rolled her eyes but didn't respond.
Silence reigned for a few minutes as she efficiently opened the bag of cotton swabs and a bottle of rubbing alcohol and went to work. At the first touch of alcohol on his exposed flesh, his fist clenched but he didn't make a sound.
"Hold still, you big baby," she chided softly, but her thumb caressed his wrist soothingly even as she said it.
Callie was hyper aware of his intense gaze on her and the fact that they were alone and this was the most physical contact they'd shared since Ray's release. That was the problem, really. They'd barely talked or seen each other since Ray got out of prison. And while she knew it was the right thing to do for Jeff and for Ray, it was making her crazy.
"Jim, about earlier at the station..." she began hesitantly, keeping her gaze focused on his warm, reddened skin.
He straightened. "Yeah, I know. I'm sorry about that-"
"No," she interrupted. "That's not what I-"
Glancing up without thinking, her gaze caught on his and the words died in her throat. She took a breath, forcing herself not to look away this time, and started again.
"I wanted to say that I'm sorry. You didn't owe me any explanations about Sam. We had like five minutes together before Ray got out and everything got complicated. It's not like we had a chance to compare histories or anything. It's just... Things have been so weird between us, and then this person from your past shows up and she obviously meant a lot to you, and it made me freak out a little bit." She realized she was rambling and tried to rein it in. "I guess I'm just wondering if you're having doubts."
His hand twisted in her grasp and then his fingers closed around her own, warm and comforting. "I'm not."
"Are you sure?" she wondered, searching his face for the truth. "I wouldn't blame you if you were. This definitely can't be fun for you. Waiting around for me to figure out the mess that's my life."
"I'm sure, Callie."
He met her gaze steadily, as confident and sure of himself as ever, and the anxious knot in her chest finally eased.
Then he faltered and dropped his gaze to their entwined hands.
"I guess I wondered if you were having second thoughts. Now that Ray's out and he's over at the house all the time. I know Jeff's crazy about him and you guys are a family. I'd understand if you decided you wanted to hold onto that."
"No," she stated firmly, squeezing his hand. "Look, I care about Ray and I probably always will. Yes, because he's Jeff's dad and because he really is a good guy and he's trying to get his life together. But I haven't been in love with him for a long time and three months isn't going to change that. I know what I want, Jim. I want to finish medical school and I want a schedule where I get more than ten minutes to myself in a day and I want Jeff to have both of his parents in his life. And I want you."
Jim brightened instantly, looking like himself for the first time all day.
She grinned. "Yeah."
They sat there, smiling at each other, until Jim glanced down at his arm.
"So, are you done?"
"Oh!" She looked at her handiwork critically, the wound clean and slathered in antibiotic ointment, and decided she was. "Yeah, it's fine. Just try to keep it clean."
He looked at her mischievously. "You're not gonna kiss it and make it better?"
Callie smirked and then laughed in spite of herself. "You know, there's no scientific evidence that that works."
Jim shrugged, his blue eyes twinkling. "Can't hurt."
She shook her head, smiling. "I'm not going to kiss your greasy arm, Jim."
"It wasn't greasy before you did whatever-"
She cut off his complaint by pressing her lips to his, feeling them curve into a smile. He pulled her around the counter and she wrapped her arms around his neck, losing herself in the kiss she'd been craving all day.
"Hmm, what do you know? All better," he grinned when they broke for air.
She giggled. "How about that?"
He leaned in to kiss her again and she sighed happily, running her fingers through his hair. She felt all better too.
"Can you stay?" he asked gently a moment later.
Callie's eyes slid shut at the unwelcome reminder that she had other places to be and other things to do. As usual, her obligations and responsibilities were pulling her away from what she wanted most.
"No," she admitted, stepping away from him reluctantly. "I actually need to get home so Ray can catch the last bus and I have to get through a chapter of reading before I go to bed. I just wanted to make sure you were okay."
Jim nodded, trying to hide his disappointment. "I'm okay," he confirmed.
She offered him an apologetic smile which did nothing to make either of them feel better. Turning back to her impromptu workstation, she quickly repacked the first aid kit for him and then grabbed her purse.
The silence on the walk back to the front door was less tense than before but still a little awkward. Callie turned to say goodbye and blinked in surprise to find Jim standing closer than she'd expected. Backing her against the wall, he kissed her again and she let herself have one more stolen moment.
When they finally pulled apart, he smiled softly. "Goodnight."
She stared up at him, the words I love you springing to her lips, but she choked them down. It wasn't fair to lay that on him now, when she still had so many things to work out.
"Goodnight," she echoed instead.
She slipped through the door and felt him watching protectively from the doorway as she walked to her car and slid behind the wheel. Even if she couldn't vocalize it yet, the warmth of the emotion stayed with Callie long after Jim's house had disappeared from her rearview.