Author's Note - this is my first ever fanfic and I'd be so grateful for any reviews. I have an outline of a plot in the long run, so please bear with me even if it starts off a little slow.
A Better Woman
Before I had left Seattle, I set myself the task of settling down as quickly as possible, which I now realised was utterly impossible. I had only been here a few weeks and after the initial excitement of moving halfway across the world diminished, the anxiety had settled in. I was due to start work soon and that thought had given me fresh bouts of dread each time I remembered.
It was hard to believe I had been tricked into moving here; hardly any of Mark's crazy plans materialised, and this idea was definitely one of the worst - what had possessed me to agree to this ludicrous proposal?
Yes, I was angry at the time. Mark knew that and he used it to his advantage. My mother and father had hardly been the most accepting of parents but it was so foolish of me to introduce my then girlfriend to them. Being raised a strict Catholic, it was like opening a can of worms. I was, in my mother's eyes, "a woman below par" and my father was so disgusted that he couldn't bring himself to say a single word.
Before I knew it, I was cut off both financially and familially; there were no more invites to Easter, or Thanksgiving or Christmas and so I spent most of those holidays feeling sorry for myself and hanging out with Mark.
After he had accepted a job as the new head of a hospital over in England, he convinced me to go with him, ensuring that I too would have a job waiting for me there. I had just gotten off the phone to my cousin, who had called on behalf of my parents asking me to stop sending holiday cards and gifts to them for they were not appreciated and in my fit of rage, I had accepted Mark's idea. I wasn't thinking straight and by the time I had realised what I had agreed to, Mark had already started making arrangements for me.
Once that was all settled, I thought it a good thing to be leaving the States; I could leave all that emotional baggage behind me and start afresh, I could prove to my parents that I was a successful independent woman and that I didn't need anyone who considered me "below par". Eventually, I began to share Mark's excitement for what was ahead. Of course, it was difficult to say goodbye to the place that I had called home. Seattle had been good to me and the memory of leaving my medical family still causes my throat to catch.
Although Mark did make a hash on the job front, I have to give him some credit. True to his word, there was a post for me here as the new ortho surgeon in this teeny weeny hospital. I couldn't help but think that my skills could be put to better use some place else, in a much larger hospital. Mark on the other hand, found out that he was not going to be the head of the hospital as he originally thought. In fact, he was now a member of the burns unit - his plastics expertise could be put to good use for patient recovery. Even though he had been upset by the news, he would survive - he was a big boy.
Secretly though, I was somewhat grateful that he had been "downgraded" (his words not mine) - I could not stand the thought him marching around the hospital acting all 'holier than thou'; sometimes Mark needed taking down a notch or two.
Our house was a lot bigger than our apartment back in Seattle - it was two storied with a garage and a garden. It had only taken us a few days to unpack our belongings. The house was half empty though, we were so used to the limited spacing back home that we never realised just how little we owned. We spent the rest of our free time getting to know our new neighbourhood picking out a new couch and furniture to fill up the space in our new place.
The area was pretty quiet. We were in living in a nice community in the suburbs of a small-ish city. People were surprised to hear our American accents but they were friendly and very welcoming, if not a little nosey. I've lost count how many times we had to explain that we were not tourists the first few weeks living there.
The days passed slowly and one evening as we sat down to dinner in our newly furnished dining room, conversation turned to a previously undiscussed about topic.
"How are you finding it here?" Mark always had a habit of talking with his mouth full and spraying me with bits of pasta, I gave him a look of disgust.
"Mark, learn your manners. We're in England now, not America."
Mark reached for a napkin and lazily wiped his mouth. He gestured for an answer to his question.
"Well, the people are nice." I said, diplomatically.
"Don't give me that crap Calliope Torres, I know you better than that."
I scowled at him - he knew how much I hate being called Calliope. He blinked back at me, totally unaffected by my obvious displeasure.
"It's just so... quiet," Mark nodded in agreement, "it's just so different here. I miss the skyscrapers, the noise, and the garbage Mark... I miss the garbage."
He frowned and rightly so, it was such a strange thing to miss.
"The trash?" There was a worried tone in his voice, did he think I was mad?
"Yes, the trash. It's so clean here."
With that, Mark let out a snort and started to splutter everywhere. The sight of his face turning like a tomato and coughing violently sent me into a fit of laughter. Having successfully cleared his airway obstruction, he looked at me with his eyebrows furrowed.
"So, whilst I choked to death, you were going to just sit and laugh at me?"
I could barely say a word, my cheeks were hurting from smiling and ribs shaking from the laughter. I nodded as I gasped for air.
"Hey, you better be a better doctor tomorrow," Mark said, as he waggled his fork at me, "you don't want to kill somebody by standing aside laughing at them whilst they die on the table."
The sudden turn in the conversation caused the smile to be wiped off my face. Tomorrow was the first day of work and fear had obviously flashed across my face because Mark reached across the dining table to put his hand on my shoulder.
"Callie... it's not the first day of school you know, no one's going to pick on you."
I tilted my head to the side and gave him my infamous 'seriously?" look.
"Ok ok, I was just trying to make you feel better. Listen, we're going to be new together, just man up because it's going to be fine."
The rest of our meal was taken in silence.
I had great difficulty getting to sleep that night. The wind and rain were lashing against my window - it's true you know, the weather in England is crap. All that was on my mind was the dreaded first day tomorrow.
According to Mark, all I needed to do was "man up", whatever that meant. Was I being irrational?
It's going to be fine, I told myself, you're Callie Torres, you're going to be great. I rolled over, closed my eyes and drifted off to sleep.