Title: Bailero (1/?)
Pairing: Callie / Arizona
Rating: NC17 / M / Explicit Adult Content
Summary: Dr Arizona Robbins is close to desperate; she needs a business analyst to help manage her tiny biomedical company before the bank takes everything she's ever worked for. The one person that seems capable of taking control is Callie Torres. But is Callie interested in taking control of more than just Arizona's finances?
Disclaimer: The recognisable characters portrayed in this story belong to ABC Studio & Shonda Rhimes etc. No infringement intended etc etc. No profit being made etc etc etc. You know the drill.
Author's Comments: The aim is update twice a month... but I'm making no promises, especially as I'm supposed to be doing Nanowrimo. Just so you know, this story moves like treacle on a cold winter's morning, sorry, it just worked out that way. Bear with me. Also, forgive me if I don't always respond to comments, I read them all, I promise. I do appreciate feedback and constructive criticism, especially with regards to pacing, setting and plot... or anything else that takes your fancy. Other than that please enjoy. goo
Callie Torres took a slow sip of her white wine and narrowed her eyes against the glare of the brilliant sun reflecting off the sea. She savoured the flavour of the cool, crisp, and slightly fruity tones of the alcohol and reached for a plump ripe strawberry, smiling a little as the juice dribbled down her fingers, the taste both tart and sweet on her tongue, complementing the wine. She was sitting on the deck of her sister's yacht, listening to the sound of waves gently lapping against the side of the hull. Leaning back against her lounger, Callie closed her eyes and listened to the distant sound of gulls calling out to each other, the gentle roll and sway of the vessel almost lulling her to sleep. This decadent lifestyle was ... something else, she thought to herself, her shoulders twitching slightly as she tried to make herself more comfortable. There were no distractions, no city traffic humming in the background, no one braying for her attention or a signature or anything else. The fact was that, for once, she wasn't being ferried to a meeting or taking her jet to consult with a trade secretary or a CEO , no watching the Dow or the SSE or the FTSE like a hawk. No nothing. All that was required of her was to sit back and enjoy the sun. It was peaceful here, soothing and quiet. She imagined that heaven felt like this.
This is heaven, she re-affirmed, taking another sip of he wine, shifting again.
Callie paused in her mindless mental ramblings and snapped her eyes open.
"Fuck," she murmured definitively to herself.
I am in fucking hell.
"I thought we agreed. No laptops, no iPads, no iPhones, blackberry's or any other technology..." Aria wagged her finger at her older sister, watching as the woman, supposedly on vacation, swipe through her messages.
"You know full well that I didn't agree to squat," Callie replied, not bothering to look up, having finally succumbed to her boredom and dug out her iPad. At least she could keep her mind occupied, even if she was stuck in the same place for the next 10 days. She loved her sister and she enjoyed the company of Aria and her fiance but doing nothing else but swim, eat and chat would drive her very quickly very mad.
"Sweetie, you could at least pretend to be having a good time." Aria sighed and perched herself on the lounger beside Callie.
"I know this isn't really your type of deal but you really have to slow down a little, give yourself a break..." She paused, watching as Callie's fingers sped across the keyboard, a small frown marring her beautiful brow. "Are you even listening to me, Cal?"
"Nope." Callie blithely replied, finally tossing her iPad to one side and smiling at her sister. She lay back down and looked over at Aria, grinning at her expression.
"Don't frown like that, you'll give yourself wrinkles and ruin your career in 3 easy moves."
Her grin widened as Aria stuck her tongue out at her.
"My career is not based solely on my looks," she proclaimed, her tone haughty and her nose stuck high in the air.
At Callie's snort of laughter, she turned away and arranged herself decorously on her lounger, clearly taking the higher, more mature ground. She kind of ruined the effect by flipping her sister the finger.
After a few minutes, she sighed.
"I'm not kidding, Cal. I worry about you; you've not had a break of any sort in years. You can't keep going at this pace, you'll drop dead of a heart attack before you're 40 and then I'll have to deal with Mama and Daddy on my own and if that happens, I'll really kill you."
Callie raised an eyebrow and looked over at her sister, chewing on her lip for a second while she composed a response in her head. She reached for her iPad and started playing with the apps, avoiding Aria's searching eyes.
"You deal with them pretty fine all own your own now, Aria. Should I drop dead, as you eloquently put it, anytime soon, it'll hardly make any difference to current proceedings."
"Okay, but there's always the understanding that this ... thing ... this feud ... or whatever that you all have got going on, will at some point come to an end..."
"Aria, there's no feud going on, they both told me that I was going to hell. Not really much I can say to that." Callie's response was casual but Aria knew her sister and knew the indifferent answer hid a wealth of pain.
"Callie they're our parents, they're stuck in their ways, they're old..."
Callie sat up straight, trying to quell the anger that started to course through her at her sister's words.
"Aria, do not start making excuses for them. They are both educated and supposedly enlightened. I know it was hard for them, it was a shock, I get it, but they turned away from me first. They said that I had no place in the family. They took away their love and now I just don't care..."
"Calliope." Aria's voice was full of sadness.
Callie shook her head, her face determined.
"Aria, I love that you've brought me here and I love that we're spending time together but you and I both know that we can only last in each other's company for about 10 days before we start to go bat shit at each other, I really don't want to start early by arguing over Mama and Daddy. OK? I love you. I still love them in some shape, I guess, but they threw me away and I've no reason to go back."
Aria sighed but knew her sister enough to leave well alone.
After a minute or two she looked over at Callie, who was, once again playing with her iPad.
"Seriously, can't you leave work alone for a day?"
"No, not really. And you're one to talk. You've just come off one set and you've got 2 weeks of promo work before heading off to ... where is it? Munich ...? for your next film. You're as much of a workaholic as I am, Aria." Callie finished her email as she spoke and decided to take a quick look at the share prices in Europe.
Aria opened her mouth to refute Callie's claims but closed it again, recognising the truth. Damn. She hated it when Callie won an argument. The sound of bare feet slapping noisily up the steps from the galley below brought a smile to her face as her winning riposte revealed itself in the form of her fiancé.
"But, at least I have a personal life, someone special to come home to." She smiled sweetly up at Juan as he handed a chilled bottle of water.
"I just spoke to one of my pals, they say The Grand Inquisitor has you and Sophia Varagas on the front cover. They're claiming that you two are long lost twins. How cool is that?" He finished excitedly and plunked down next to Callie, offering her a bottle as well.
Callie grinned at his comment straight off the back of Aria's reminder that she had no one in her life.
"This guy ... really?" She pulled a comic face and then laughed out loud as Aria leaned forward and cuffed Juan about the head.
"Hey, what did I do?" he complained looking between the two women. It wasn't unusual for him to be the goat in the middle of their various arguments and but he had learnt the hard way never to get involved. If they were having a serious fight, he simply helped keep them from tearing the hell out of each other and if it was a light-hearted one, like now, he grinned and played along. He had proposed to the famous actress 6 months previous and, though he would never tell her this, had been more worried about how Callie would receive him, should Aria say yes than if she had turned him down. Aria was beautiful, fiery and tempestuous. She had a wicked tongue and was a little spoilt. He knew this and adored her anyway; she brought colour and excitement to his life and he offered a deep abiding love and a sense of calm that had been missing from hers. They complemented each other wonderfully. But through his law firm that had handled some work for Aria, he had found out that Callie Rodrigo Torres had a reputation for being implacable, hard and uncompromising and he had been worried that she would think he wasn't good enough for her baby sister. He was pretty sure that Callie had arranged for someone to discreetly look into his affairs but that hadn't bothered him; he had no skeletons in his closet and ran a honest legal consultancy firm. Though to start she had been a little reserved, Callie had always been charming and now, he felt like they were family.
"Notwithstanding the fact that my future husband is a star-struck airhead, c'mon, Callie surely you must want someone in your life. It's been years since Europa ..."
"I thought your ex was called Erica?" Juan shifted over to his wife's lounger and stretched out.
Callie gave Aria a sarcastic smile. "She was. Aria is displaying her wit."
"She had a mouth the size of Europe on her. Had an opinion about everything, could do everything and was never wrong." Aria explained to Juan with just a dash of venom.
"She and Aria never really got along." Callie leaned towards Juan and spoke in a conspiratorial whisper as if Aria wasn't present.
"I'm not kidding, Cal, you really need to get out there. Get your groove back on," she flashed the smile that millions of adoring fans paid $18 a pop to see at the movies. "I know a few lesbians, I could make some calls ..."
Callie's indulgent smile turned into a look of horror at her sister's offer.
"Oh no. Thanks, hon, truly. But absolutely not. There is no way in hell I'm going out with a star, a starlet or any other kind of constellation. Y'all in the movies business are nuts."
"Calliope." Aria might have been teasing but she was worried about her sister. The last few years had been rough on her.
Callie picked up her iPad again, averting her eyes and hoping to avoid a discussion that she didn't know how to have.
"What are you going to do when you leave here, Callie?" Juan asked the question for Aria.
"Going back to work, of course. What else would I do?"
"Yes but where? Are you going back to New York? You've been on the road for nearly 2 years, aren't you getting tired of this project?" Aria pipped up.
"The problem with society today is that it seems almost everyone wants to live in the world of reality TV." Callie said, apropos of nothing. She put her phone down and flopped back on the lounger, enjoying the warm Mediterranean sun of the Almalfi coast.
"Sometimes, even sensible, hardworking people really only want their 5 minutes of fame. You'd think that when someone comes into their lives and says hey, I've got almost unlimited resources and all my expertise is at your disposal for 3 months to help get your business off the ground, that they'd take it seriously." She blew air out her lungs in exasperation, thinking back on the last 18 months. "But no, I had to deal with them asking when the camera crew was showing up or looking out for the secret filming." She shook her head, half in disbelief, half in amusement. "I had this one guy in Alaska, he had a really sound idea but needed to get his ducks in a row. He re-mortgaged his house and his business to raise cash so he could get an entertainment lawyer flown out from LA for a day to sit with me and work out the film and TV rights." She shook her head at the gasps of shock from her companions. "I know, right? I couldn't believe it either. This twit jeopardised his family home, his life simply because he was convinced that he was going to be a big TV star."
"Oh my god, what did you do?" Aria was aghast and agog.
Callie flashed her a look and it made her shiver for a second. It reminded her that Callie had worked on the NYSE for years and had built her fortune single-handedly, even before the rift with their parents.
"You don't want to know." Her voice was cold. But for only a second, within a blink of an eye, her expression changed and flashing an equally stunning smile she said, "What really killed it for me was when he asked if I knew The Situation. There really was no going back from that."
After the laughter had died down Callie sensed that Aria still had some probing to do. She toyed with the idea of going below deck for a nap before dinner or taking a quick swim, anything to forestall her determined sister.
"Juan, do me favour darling, go get some fresh strawberries, these ones are a little warm."
Juan raised an eyebrow at the request but had grown to understand Aria pretty well and realised that she wanted some privacy with her sister.
Callie realised the same thing and swore to herself at being beaten to the punch.
"So Sophia Varagas and you on the cover of The Grand Inquisitor, huh? It's only a matter of time before she starts auditioning for some of your roles."
She knew it was a bit of a low blow but she really didn't want to have this conversation, whatever it was, with her sister.
"Sophia Varagas is a beautiful and talented actress, we adore each other and there are plenty of roles for the pair of us." Aria trotted out her patented, gracious response to tabloid press queries about the supposed rivalry between her and the Colombian actress. She then leaned forward and pinched Callie hard on her thigh.
"Serves you right. That crack about Sophia was really mean, Callie, you know how I feel about her."
"I would have been more sorry if hadn't just left me black and blue," Callie complained, rubbing her thigh.
"Whatever, just listen to me. Just for a minute. Without arguing or interrupting," she added as Callie opened her mouth.
"I'm not trying to upset you, okay? I just want to know when you're going to stop, Callie. When are you going to stop running away?" Aria voice was gentle and full of the love and concern she had for her big sister.
Callie licked her lips, feeling her heart start to race. This conversation made her uncomfortable. She had no qualms about lying, not to anyone but she knew Aria could pretty much see right through her.
"I'm not running away from anyone, I'm just a little bored with the day to day. This 2 year thing is just a new challenge, that's all."
"Maybe you're not running away from anyone, but you're sure as hell not standing still for anyone either. How can you meet anyone or form any kind of normal relationship when you won't stay in one place for more than 5 minutes? You're so scared of committing to anything that you've refused to let yourself just be..."
"It's not that and besides I committed myself to George," Callie said, a tad defensively. "You remember how well that turned out, right?"
"Of course I remember. I know he and Europa hurt you badly but Cal, not everyone is going to rip your heart out."
"How do you know that? How can you possibly tell who will take your heart, carve it out of your chest and stomp all over it? Tell me?" Callie burst out, the hurt flashing monetarily in her dark eyes.
"Oh honey. I don't know, but you'll never find out if you don't quit running."
Aria looked at her older sister and sighed, Callie wore an expression that could barely remember seeing on her face. She looked vulnerable and it broke Aria's heart.
"You have to stand still, somewhere. Anywhere. Just stay and be who you are."
Callie pursed her lips but said nothing.
She gave Aria a pointed look.
"What?" Aria fidgeted slightly under the glare.
"I know you're not done so... just get it over with, ask me whatever it is you want to ask me...?"
"Have you been in touch with Bill Cosby recently?" Aria rushed the words out quickly, almost tripping over herself in her haste to get the words out.
Callie blinked. She hadn't been expecting that.
"No ... why ... what ...? No, Aria I haven't needed her in years ... What the hell, Aria?" Callie didn't know whether to be pissed or not.
"You're my sister and I love you, you just seemed a little tense ..." Aria shrugged. "I don't mean to make you feel bad, sweetie, I ... I just want you to be happy."
"Oh darling... I'm ... I'm ... " Callie paused for a moment then elected to be truthful. "I'm not unhappy. Honestly, I'm not."
The sisters shared a smile and understood all the things that weren't being said.
Dr Arizona Robbins clasped her hands together and placed them on her lap under the mahogany desk. It meant that their violent tremble wasn't witnessed by the enthusiastic young man who was perched on the edge of his seat across from her.
"I'm sorry, Graham, I'm not sure I quite understand. Run it by me again, would you?" She could hear her voice, over the crashing roar of blood pounding through her; it sounded remarkably calm, a little stilted perhaps but it didn't betray her emotions. That was good. Not that he would notice. Graham launched into his explanation again, almost tripping over his words in his excitement but she tuned him out, belying her need for clarification. Arizona tilted her head slightly and stared at her business manager. Graham Alexander was knowledgable and ambitious, which was why she hired him. He had a background in biomedics and he showed initiative, something she thought would be an asset.
"I know, this is a bit of a surprise for you but I went out on a limb and gave Benjamin Grant a call. I was up at Trinity College with his son ... it just too good an opportunity to pass up, especially seeing as he's only in town for a few days." He pushed his hand through his slightly long blonde hair and flashed a grin at her.
"I drew up an information pack and some ideas and we had a brief meeting, I could tell how impressed he was with our set up... with what you've done, Arizona." Graham finally drew breath and leaned back in his chair, Arizona looked slightly stunned, though it was sometimes hard to tell with her; invariably polite and friendly, she was also incredible reserved. After nearly two years of working with her, he often couldn't tell what was going on behind her crystal blue gaze. Like right now, she should be jumping up and down in excitement at the prospect of potential investment from one of the worlds biggest pharmaceutical companies instead she was peering at him with a gaze that was beginning to feel quite cold. Perhaps he hadn't made himself clear.
"Benjamin Grant wants to meet you, Arizona. I'm sure he's looking to invest ..."
"You gave someone outside of this of this company an information pack?" Arizona interrupted him, her voice still calm, measured. " What was in this information pack?"
"It was just standard stuff, you know ... AGM fodder, that kind of bumph." Graham smiled gently at her, she could be a little skittish about sharing information but he knew that this was an exception she'd definitely get on board with.
Arizona was suddenly glad that she had skipped breakfast. It was a dead cert that, had she anything in her stomach other than coffee, she would have hurled chunks across her nicely polished mahogany desk. As it was she swallowed down a deep breath, hoping against hope that her worst fears weren't about to be realised. She held herself very, very still and gripped her hands even tighter together.
"Benjamin Grant wants to meet me and possibly invest in us based on AGM fodder, really?" She pressed for a more accurate version of events.
"Well, of course, I did have to show a bit of ankle, something to whet his appetite but nothing too ..."
"What did you give him?" Arizona's tone finally caught his attention where her stillness had not. He flushed at the clear censure in her question.
"I promise you, Arizona, it's fine. I know him, I was at uni with his son and besides, this is exactly what you want ..."
"What did you give him?" Arizona repeated her question, her voice low but very clear and very cold. Graham clocked that he might not be getting employee of the year award just yet.
He opened his mouth and was surprised to find that words wouldn't come out. There was something about how his boss held herself so very still that made all 6" 2 of him more than a little scared for his safety. She actually looked like she wanted to hurt him. Badly. There was something in her eyes.
Graham swallowed and calmed himself down, he could handle this, she was just a slightly over-strung scientist. They were all prima donna's when you came down to it, no different from any other diva. He leaned forward again and took the reins.
"Arizona, you need to calm down and listen to me. I've brought you exactly what you needed; a serious investor. Someone who understands your work and sees the potential. That's what you ask me for and that exactly what I delivered." He nodded firmly, confidently.
"What I asked you to do was draw up a list of companies were developing similar biotechnology. What I didn't ask you to do was take 5 years of my work and hand over to a competitor on a silver platter." Her tone, still mild, was at odds with the harshness of her words. Graham flushed again, this time in anger.
"Don't be melodramatic, I simply took a small sample for demonstration purposes. He'll have its basic uses verified by his labs in Geneva and then we meet to discuss terms."
Arizona felt her heart sink at his words. It was actually worse than she imagined.
"You actually gave him a sample? You gave it to him?" She could barely hold it together and shook her head in disbelief, standing and striding rapidly across her office, trying to release the tension that was coiling throughout her body.
"Explain to me what's to stop him replicating the formula and simply producing it on his own? He could patent it and call it something new and I spend the next 15 years in litigation trying to get my invention back."
Graham sighed. This again. He was actually slightly relieved.
"Arizona, we can trust Ben Grant, he's nothing like Peggy..."
Arizona spun around to face him, her eyes flashing like streaks of blue lightening, her face flushed with colour. Graham felt the apprehension come back. It was a little irrational, he knew. She wasn't violent, at least he didn't think she was. He'd never even heard her raise her voice, but there was a strange air of menace about her right now that he couldn't ignore. Arizona stared at him for half a second and then went back to her seat.
"Well, Graham, I wish I could say that it's been a pleasure but your actions leave me both astounded at your stupidity and furious at your disloyalty. You're fired, you'll get a month's pay. Get your things and be out of office by noon. Leave your fob and keys to the lab with Martha." Her voice was quiet, dispassionate, she barely glanced in his direction, flipping open her laptop.
Graham wasn't quite expecting that. His mouth opened and closed a few times as he once again struggled to find words.
"If you're about to tell me that I can't fire you for this, I'm sorry but yes I can. On your way out you can ask Martha for a copy of your contract. There's a very clear section on confidentiality, which you have just broken every which way from here to eternity. Be thankful that, right now, I don't have the time to sue you for breach of contract." Arizona finally looked up at the bemused Graham and felt the fight and anger drain out of her. She almost wanted to weep but wouldn't let him see that.
"You've probably just set me back a few months, Graham but someone has to clean up your mess, so I really would like you to leave now." Her words were calm and steady but she wondered if he could hear the bravado as well.
Graham thought briefly about trying to argue his point but looking into the clear eyes, he could see, faintly lurking in the background, in the cold blue depths, her desire to wrap her hands around his throat and choke him slowly to death. He left quietly.
Arizona stood up quickly and then sat back down. She looked at her hands only mildly surprised that they weren't shaking. She expected to feel sick to her stomach at what had happened, at what might be yet another nail in her coffin but she didn't. She leaned back in her chair and pinched the bridge of her nose, squeezing her eyes shut. There was a faint throb behind her eyes, heralding an impending headache. The door to her office burst open, as she knew it soon would and the bustling whirlwind that was her office manager practically fell in.
"Do you want to tell me why Mr Goodlooking is packing up his office? He asked me for a copy of his contract and I thought he was going to cry. What did you do, Arizona?"
Arizona looked up at Martha Stewart and wondered if she was going to have a fight on her hands. Even though Martha thought that Graham was little more than an overgrown school boy and had little patience for his vanity and posturing, she knew as well as Arizona did that they needed someone to run the business side of things. Letting him go right now might be a death knell for them.
"I had to let him go, Martha. It wasn't working out." Arizona instinctively came out with the lie. She didn't want to let Martha know how bad things were.
"Nonsense. Tell me what really happened?" Martha folded her arms across her thin, narrow chest and actually tapped a foot. With her wiry grey hair and her glasses perched on the end of her nose, the tall, thin woman always reminded Arizona of an intellectual stork and an involuntary smile came to her face for all of half a second. She toyed with trying to brush off the question again.
"You need to get back to classes in half an hour, Arizona and I don't have all day. We both know that Mr Fancypants was well below the bar for what we needed but he was useful in his own way and he was all we could afford. After all that's happened here, it not working out really isn't an option for us. What did he do?" Martha unfolded her arms and pointed a bony finger at Arizona as her employer and friend opened her mouth to speak.
"And don't even think about lying to me, young lady."
Arizona sighed and ran both her hands through her hair, ruffling the long dark blond strands. The incongruously named woman had been with her ever since she took up her tenure at Oxford, first as her secretary and stayed with her as her PA when she left the world of academia and forayed into the cut throat depths of private industry. Martha knew her, inside and out. She had invested as much of her time and effort into this company as Arizona had, she stuck with her through thick and thin and even deferred her retirement just to support Arizona. The blonde tried to force a smile to her face realising, at Martha's frown, that her attempt at looking half way composed must have fallen pretty far short of the mark. Arizona loved and trusted Martha, the woman deserved the truth.
"Graham just told me about his meeting with Benjamin Grant."
At Maratha's raised eyebrow, Arizona elaborated. "Benjamin Grant is the CEO of a major pharmaceutical conglomerate. Graham thought he could persuade him to come on board as an investor." Arizona spoke quietly, watching Martha's face.
The woman squinted for a second, taking the words in as a frown slowly formed adding to the wrinkles on her forehead.
"I didn't book any meetings for Graham with ... with anyone, let alone a Chief Exec. Why didn't you tell me about this? And shouldn't you have been at this meeting?" Martha sounded a little aggrieved, she fully expected to be kept informed about everything that went on.
"That would be because I didn't know about it, Martha, he didn't tell me about it until just now." Arizona watched as the woman's shoulders drooped as the realisation sank in.
"Why.. why would he go behind your back? Why would he do something ... that stupid?"
"I don't know ... to impress me or curry favour with Grant? Who the hell knows?"
"Well, its done now. Mr Alexander will be out of your hair soon and I'll start searching for a replacement. We'll manage, Arizona, we'll beat this. We did before and we will again." Martha nodded firmly, all business. She could see that Arizona, for all her calm, was close to breaking point. She didn't need yet another spanner in the works after all that had happened nearly 4 years ago. It had taken so much time and effort to get back to an even keel and the very last thing they needed was another rotten apple.
"He gave them a sample of the compound, Martha. They have a sample." Arizona added quietly.
"What?" Martha's voice was very faint.
She drew in a short harsh breath and held it for a second before walking towards the desk and very carefully sitting down in the chair recently vacated by Graham. After a moment or two she spoke again, her voice almost back to full strength.
"I'll get in touch with a reputable law firm, get them to draft a letter to this Benjamin Grant and his company to state our IP and patent rights, threaten legal action et cetera. I'm not sure we can actually afford to sue Mr Alexander right now but I'll discuss it with whomever I commission. We can start proceedings now and but hold off until cash flow improves." Martha went straight into battle mode. She knew the drill.
Arizona watched as Martha used a finger to push her glasses up her nose and could see that the older woman was trembling. A rush of guilt and sorrow and protectiveness surged within her at the woman's obvious distress.
"Martha, you're absolutely right; we've weathered worse storms than this and come out on the other side. It'll be fine. It'll be fine. A month or two and we'll be right back on track." She said the words brightly, sitting up straight in her chair and injecting optimism into her voice and smile to her face, her dimples appearing. Martha offered a dour grimace of a smile in return.
Neither woman believed Arizona's words.