Callie looked apologetically at the woman who sat in front of them.
"We were both afraid of coming here," she finally admitted, uttering the first words of the session.
"Why?" Dr. Dawson asked softly.
"Because last time you saw us, well, we didn't leave this room together," Callie said sadly, guiltily.
"Yes, but when was that?" she asked. She knew, but she wanted to engage the women.
"Four years ago," Callie said. She wasn't going to speak over Arizona or not let the other woman express herself, but if it made it easier for Arizona to just let Callie speak for now, Callie would grant her that.
"Four years ago is a long time. Time heals," Dr. Dawson said and Callie snorted.
"Just like that? One cliché and we're fine?" she asked.
"No, not just like that. Remember why you guys split in the first place?"
"I… wanted us both to feel free," Callie said quietly. She always felt like it was the right decision, but it didn't mean she wasn't in pain over it.
"Well I feel pretty darn free. I feel freaking liberated," Arizona said, and Callie looked at her in surprise. It was her the first thing she said since they got there.
"Also, that was last time I've seen you, Callie," the doctor said.
"What do you mean?" Callie asked in confusion.
"She means I kept coming," Arizona said quietly.
"You did?" Callie asked. The surprises just kept on coming and they were sitting in the room for less than ten minutes.
"Yeah. For a while it was to see if there was anything I could do to hmmm… change your mind, and then… it was to learn how to move forward," Arizona concluded and bowed her head.
"I'm sorry," Callie said, knowing that even though separation was the right choice for them, something within Arizona stayed committed to them even when there was no them anymore. Somehow, that knowledge made a difference.
"I'm not mad anymore, Callie. I understand. I just… I think this had left a scar," Arizona said sadly.
"On me, too," Callie said and Arizona nodded at her, knowing it to be true.
Dr. Dawson was staring back and forth between the two women. Towards the last session of their previous round years ago, their physical distance was so evident. Yet, there they were, years later, holding hands with Callie refusing to let Arizona out of her sight.
In her experience, people usually came to therapy for one of two reasons. Either one side wants out and doesn't know how to let the other know, or the two sides desperately want to make it work. They want to fight to make things work. The first time around, it seemed like they wanted out, even if they didn't realize it when they walked in. This time, however… she wasn't entirely sure yet, but she was leaning towards the second option.
"Did you guys have sex?" she asked suddenly.
"No," Callie said, not in frustration, but in honesty.
"Why not?" the doctor asked in genuine interest.
"Because that's something the old us would do," Arizona said and she and Callie smiled at each other, realizing that even though they haven't discussed it, they shared the same point of view.
"Could you elaborate on that?" the doctor asked.
"It used to be 'we love each other and none of the rest of it matters,'" Callie explained, "but it does. When we broke up we still loved each other and it wasn't enough."
"I think we loved each other this whole time and it wasn't enough," Arizona admitted quietly.
"You're right," Callie agreed. "There's more to it. We were broken, and when we only counted on our feelings to…glue us back together, so many things fell between the cracks. I don't want it to happen again. This is too important," she said and turned to look at Arizona "you are too important."
"I don't hear the voices anymore," Arizona said quietly.
"I'm sorry?" Doctor Dawson asked in confusion.
Arizona turned to look at Callie and unlinked their hands in order to use hers to express herself better.
"I don't know how to make sure things are different in the future, I just know how I feel now," Arizona said honestly, "and now, I don't hear the voices anymore."
"I'm still not sure I understand," the doctor said while Arizona kept looking at Callie who was listening to her every word attentively.
"Don't be hurt," Arizona said to Callie, "but when we used to kiss, that last year, I used to hear voices in the back of my mind. 'Do I need to pick up some milk after work tomorrow?' 'Today's weather was surprisingly nice,' 'We should try this new place downtown,'" Arizona explained and Callie nodded in understanding. "There was still a 'we' but there were voices. And now?" Arizona said and a joyful smile appeared on her face. "Now you kiss me and the world stops," she said and Callie gave her a bright smile. "At least until my brain warns me about the future and I wanna slap that little bitch and tell it to shut up."
Callie burst into laughter at Arizona's comment and Arizona looked at her, still smiling.
"Do I sound completely crazy, or do you know what I mean?" Arizona asked and in response, Callie took her hand in hers again.
"I know exactly what you mean. I don't hear the voices anymore, too," Callie said and Arizona sighed in relief.
'Definitely option number two,' the doctor thought and smiled.
"So what you two are saying, is that you've avoided going into the final step of your new found intimacy, until you had the time to process what was going on, and how to do things the right way?"
"I think that's what we were saying, yes. In way more words," Callie said and chuckled lightly.
"I remember you guys telling me that physical intimacy was your way of solving, or rather, ignoring problems, so if you ask me, you not jumping straight back to it, but preferring talking things through before, shows a change. It shows… maturing on both sides."
"Maybe," Arizona said, not entirely convinced, mostly because she still needed to process everything before she got to a verdict on the subject.
"So you think we should have sex?" Callie asked in cautious interest.
"I think it's up to you. I think you're trying to rebuild your relationship, and sex is a big part of it, a beautiful part of it. So, eventually, when you feel like you're ready, let yourself reconnect that way. Even if all you had to do is receive some validation by coming here. There is no right or wrong, as long as you don't let it be the foundation of your relationship, or your escapism. Talking and communicating is the foundation of your relationship. Escapism is hopefully not something you need. Not now, anyways."
"And then there's Sofia," Arizona said suddenly.
"Sofia?" Doctor Dawson asked in confusion.
"Yeah," Callie added, "we didn't want her to see us… you know, do stuff. I mean… we sat her down months ago for a whole hour just to explain to her how us living under the same roof doesn't mean mommy and mama are getting back together, and now this?"
"Well, we'll get to Sofia later. I'm not saying we don't need to talk about her, because we do, but let's start with you two, first."
"We are mothers. Our first concern will always be Sofia," Callie said and Arizona nodded in agreement. "Can this hurt her? Should we not do this?"
"Anything can hurt her," the doctor said. "Anything can hurt anyone. If you guys try to get back together, and it doesn't work, and she feels it, then yes, she'll be hurt, just like she was hurt when you broke up before. But if you manage to work through it, she gets a united family back. She gets two parents in a loving, committed relationship. You can set a great example for her. You'll show her that adults can be wrong too, and get hurt too, but they can also overcome. So yes, there's always something to lose, but there's also something to gain, something huge in this case."
"Okay," Arizona said, again trying to process everything.
"Let me ask you a question," Doctor Dawson said. "Do you want to be together? For you? The first thing you need to ask yourself is what you want for yourself. I know Sofia is your first priority, but you shouldn't decide whether to be together or apart based on her. Like I said, there's always something to gain, and always something to lose. What matters, is how you do what you decide to do. So, what do you want?" she finally asked and Arizona looked at Callie in anticipation.
"I want to be with you," Callie said to Arizona without missing a beat, without even considering it. "If I'm only thinking about what I want, then I want to be with you. If I'm honest, I know now that you broke me for the rest of the world," she chuckled. "I don't think I'll be good for anyone else. Because I wouldn't want to be. I want to be with you, but only if you want to be with me. Otherwise, the whole 'letting you be free' thing is kind of pointless," Callie concluded and searched Arizona's eyes.
"Are you sure, Callie?" Arizona asked, knowing how much was at stake.
"Arizona, I'm sure. Do I think we need to wait a while longer before we tell Sofia? Yes. I don't want her to get any… I don't know, ricochets from a fallout. But I want us to do whatever we can to make this work."
"No one is making us do it, Callie," Arizona said. "I know there's a baby involved, and it might make things confusing, but…"
"Arizona, I'm not confused. I want to be with you. You said you feel liberated."
"I do feel liberated, but it doesn't mean I'm not scared," Arizona said.
"Then just think, in all honesty, what do you want? I can't make this decision for you. I don't want to. You don't need to be with me in order to be a mother, or a world renowned surgeon, or anything. Even if we're not together, I'm still gonna be here for you. So, like you said, no one is making us do it. It's just up to us, and what we want. I want you. What do you want? And you don't have to answer that right now. I'm laying it out. I'm not trying to pressure you to make a decision," Callie said softly, knowing that in the past Arizona didn't always have the chance she deserved, the chance to process things.
"No, Callie, I know what I want. I mean, this session is so confusing, and gives me so many things to think about, but the one thing that is clear to me is that I want to be with you, too, I want this to work," Arizona said and Callie smiled widely and leaned in to peck her lips.
"So what now?" Callie asked after their moment was over. "How do we not mess this up?"
"We keep working on things, here with me, and alone at home. Keep talking to one another, about silly things, about important things. Mostly, important things. Don't let anything get swept under the rug, but, if something gets too intense, pause, and bring it in for the next session. One great tool you guys have is the 'believe me' pact. Arizona told me about it years ago. I think it's wonderful. Use it, for as long as you need, even If it's for the rest of your lives, and make sure you never abuse it."
"Isn't it a bad sign that we just started whatever it is and we're already in therapy?" Callie asked.
"No," the doctor said, "it means that you are committed, and responsible, and don't want to make the same mistakes. And look, Callie, last time you didn't even want to come here and this time you were the one who gave me the call. You see? Things changed. You two are different."
"Too different to be together?" Arizona asked in concern.
"Different enough to be together again," Callie said with certainty. "There's something I want to say, here, so we have a witness."
"O-kay?" Arizona said in concern.
"Don't worry, Arizona. It's not bad. I'm sorry for the dramatic build up. This is just for full disclosure. I want you to know that love you, and I respect you. I know myself. I can lose myself in the heat of an argument, or in a feeling, and lose perspective, or do something without realizing how it affects the people I care about. I need you to not worry about hurting my feelings when I do something that hurts and frustrates you, and tell me. I need you to fight me when things happen, not a year later. I need you to know that you're my equal, that you always have a say. I need you to be my mirror, and, I need you to promise this to me. And if you want, I'll promise this to you, too," Callie concluded, and finally took a breath, searching Arizona's face to see her reaction.
"I promise," Arizona said, without elaborating.
"Good," Callie said and sighed in relief, "I promise too."
Arizona nodded, and smiled. She leaned in to kiss Callie, but Callie could still see a little bit of hesitation in her eyes. She vowed to herself that she was going to do everything in her power in order to rid Arizona of her doubts.