It was a nice day. Relatively quiet and she managed to successfully avoid her ex-wife all morning, just like she's been doing for the majority of the last year and a half. She was in a good mood and she had a feeling that whatever it was that Jackson wanted to discuss with her, was sure to put a damper on her mood. She couldn't have been more right.
"What is it Jackson?"
"Hmm… I have a 4 months old baby with a Muenke syndrome coming in today," he said, still seeming anxious.
"Oh, wow, you're gonna operate on him?"
"Yes, and, hmmm… Derek and I are assisting. You see? His family, they, hmm, they're flying in the craniofacial surgeon that they've worked with to run the surgery."
"Oh?" Arizona said, still not sure what it had to do with her. And then, just like that, she was sure what it had to do with her. "Oh." She said.
"So what you are saying it…"
"That Doctor Lauren Boswell should be here in about an hour. I wanted to give you a heads up."
"Couldn't you have given me a heads up like a week ago?"
"Well, Derek and I took a vote and thought maybe it wasn't the best idea."
"How very kind of you."
"Would it have made a difference?" he asked softly.
"Probably not. I'd feel just as emotionally unprepared as I'm feeling now," she admitted.
"I'm really sorry," he said and squeezed her arm. Then, he left.
'Great,' she thought, 'now there's another person I'm gonna have to try and avoid.'
She had no idea what to feel, or what to think, and as she turned around to go towards the attendings' lounge, she found Callie standing right in front of her, with her mouth open in shock, and hurt extremely evident in her eyes. She heard the whole thing, Arizona realized.
"Callie," she tried, but the other woman practically flew out of there before Arizona had a chance to say anything else.
"I will not encounter Lauren Boswell today, I will not encounter Lauren Boswell today, I will not encounter Lauren Boswell today," Arizona repeated like a mantra. She was laying with her hand covering her eyes, on a bed in a dark on call room, hoping that if she'll repeat the words long enough (and also keep hiding in the room for the rest of the day) she will willed them true.
For the past two hours she considered looking for Callie, but what would she even say? She could see the hurt in Callie's eyes, and it mattered to her, and she hated that it mattered to her. Eighteen months and two relationships later, and it still mattered to her. Loving Callie or not, she didn't want to see her hurt. So she wanted to tell her something, anything, but she felt like it was one of these moments in which talking might just make everything worse.
The door opened, and for a moment she thought it was Callie, that Callie wanted to talk, too.
"Arizona!" an excited, sadly familiar voice said.
"You have got to be kidding me!" Arizona said, keeping her hand on her eyes, thinking that fate was a bitch.
"I've been looking all over for you," Lauren said.
"Well, that was a waste of your time because I was hiding from you." The only thing worse than encountering Lauren Boswell today, was to encountering Lauren Boswell today, alone, in an on call room, when the rest of the gossipy hospital, and her ex-wife, were only one thin wall away. Nope. That will not do.
"Why?" Lauren asked. "Rumors are you aren't married anymore, and haven't been for quite some time."
Arizona groaned. She got up, passed by Lauren without saying a word, straight out of the room and into the hallway. She was walking fast, but Lauren caught up to her.
"What was that all about?" the other woman asked.
"Seriously? Leave me alone, doctor Boswell."
"Hmm… I think the time we spent together means you can call me Lauren, you know."
"I don't want to," Arizona said sternly, still walking, trying to shake the other woman off. It didn't work.
"Hey, hey, Arizona! Can you just, stop for a second and look at me?"
"I can't look at you," Arizona said.
"Why not?" Lauren asked and made Arizona stop dead in her place and finally turn to her.
"Are you really asking me this?" Arizona asked bitterly.
"I don't understand. Are you mad at me?"
"Of course I am!"
"You know why!" Arizona yelled and then lowered her voice. "You know why." She repeated quietly.
"Come on, be fair. I wasn't trying to hurt you. And I didn't make you do anything you didn't want to do," Lauren countered.
"And what makes you think I'm not mad at myself, too?"
Lauren wasn't sure what to say, so she just stared at Arizona.
"Arizona, I really liked you back then. I still like you, please don't think…"
"Stop. Just stop it." Arizona cut her off. "Maybe you didn't make me do anything I didn't want to do. But that was the only second in which I wanted to do it. I spend every other second afterwards regretting it. Not to mention, you have no idea in what state I was when you met me. Whether you meant to or not, you took advantage of me. And yes, I let you. Congratulations, we both suck." Arizona concluded and turned around.
"I want to talk about this some more," Lauren said but Arizona ignored her and was about to start walking again.
"Will you at least come watch the surgery?" Lauren asked before Arizona had the chance to leave.
Arizona turned around to look at Lauren again. She wanted to be as clear as possible.
"I will absolutely not come watch the surgery," she said.
"Come on, Arizona, a neonatal and a pediatric surgeon? It's a four months old baby! You have to come! You're gonna really like this surgery!" Lauren said, trying to lighten the mood.
"Maybe. But I don't like the girl who does the surgery," Arizona said, turned around, and finally started walking again, just in time to see Callie down the hall, staring at them. When she met Arizona's eyes she made a beeline into the closest room.
"How many more times is this gonna happen today?" Arizona hissed and decided to follow the brunette this time, ignoring Lauren, who was still calling her name.
She followed Callie into the room and shut the door behind her, finding the other woman pacing, fuming. Also sniffling. When she noticed Arizona her eyes were raging fire and it made Arizona wince.
"So that escalated quickly, ah?" she said bitterly.
"I mean, this morning, when I saw you talking to Avery, I thought to myself 'she wouldn't, would she?' but it's been two hours. Two hours, Arizona!"
"We were just talking, Callie." They might have not been together for a year and a half, but Arizona knew her ex-wife well enough to know she had to wait it out. She's going to have to let Callie get it all out, before the other woman would be ready to listen.
"Just talking? With that woman? Now it's talking, but then what? Ah? You guys will see each other? And and and get married? And this… woman will be around my child?!"
Arizona sighed, and put both her hands on the other woman's shoulders to stop her rumbling and get her attention. It was the first time she touched her since the last time they slept together. It was the most words they've said to one another since then as well.
"Callio… Callie, stop," she said, and after a few deep breaths Callie finally looked at her. "I am promising you right now… I will never be with this woman again." She was trying to convey as much sincerity as she could. Her eyes weren't as expressive as Callie's, so she always had to try harder to let the other woman know she absolutely meant what she was saying.
"Really?" Callie asked and Arizona could see the genuine hurt in those oh so expressive eyes.
"Really. This woman reminds me of the worst thing I've ever done, of my biggest regret. Even if it weren't for my will to not hurt you, she and I could never work. Anything we could've been would be born out of something I wish never happened. I can't even look at her without feeling self loathing," Arizona concluded, hoping beyond hope Callie would believe her.
Callie sighed and sniffled. "Okay," she finally said.
"I will never do that to you. Do you believe me?" Arizona asked, letting herself be vulnerable, too.
Callie hesitated for a moment before saying "Of course I do, Arizona."
Arizona sighed in relief, but then she realized that even though the timing wasn't ideal, there was something she had to add.
"But Callie, there will be other people. There already were."
"I know, Arizona. Just not… this one."
"Never this one."
"You don't need to thank me for that."
"I do. You don't owe me anything," Callie said honestly.
"That's simply not true, Callie. I owe you respect, at the least," Arizona said and Callie nodded in sad understanding.
"It could've been worse, I could've been with her on that case," Callie said.
"I'm sorry," Arizona said in pain, and she really meant it.
"I forgave you for this a long time ago. You don't need to apologize to me about this ever again, or to yourself," Callie said sincerely.
Arizona nodded, and Callie got up, sniffled one more time, gave Arizona a half hearted smile, and exited the room. And it's a good thing she did, too, because the situation was becoming too suffocating for both of them.
"Why did I agree to do this?" Arizona asked as she was vomiting into the basin. Callie was holding her hair, and rubbing her back gently.
"Agreed to do this? It was practically an ultimatum!" she countered.
"You should have stopped me!"
"I was selfish, I wanted a baby," Callie said and shrugged.
"You are taking advantage of my uterus," Arizona said, hurling again.
"You weren't like this the first time you were pregnant. Not this bad I mean."
"Thanks for pointing that out," Arizona said bitterly.
"Tea?" Callie asked softly, still rubbing Arizona's back, trying to give her as much comfort as possible.
"Yes, please," the blonde said and Callie started to get up. "Wait, later. Stay with me," she asked and Callie gladly agreed.
"Is there anything else I can do?" Callie asked in concern, "do you want Sofia's rainbow mermaid drawing?" Callie kept that drawing ever since her malpractice lawsuit, and once she and Arizona were on friendly terms again, they passed it back and forth whenever one of them had a bad day. Sofia was old enough for it to start embarrassing her, but it didn't stop the proud mothers and it was currently attached to their fridge.
"Mmm… thank you, but I like to sit on the floor some more, it's cold and nice, and I want company. I'm gonna look at it once I get up for the tea I was promised."
"As you wish," Callie said with a soft smile and sat down. Arizona put her arm on the basin and leaned her head on it, while Callie was leaning with her back against the closed door. When they were both around for Arizona's morning sickness, Callie hurried after her to comfort her, and shut the door. They didn't want to scare Sofia.
"Hey, Arizona? Can I ask you something?" Callie said, breaking the comfortable silence.
"Of course, Calliope."
"So this girl asked me out, I just wanted to double check with you if that's okay?" Callie said, trying to sound as casual as possible.
"Why wouldn't it be?" Arizona asked. After all, it was never a problem before.
"Exactly," Arizona said and smiled at the other woman.
"Wait," Arizona said as realization hit her, she raised her head, "what if you two want to… you know?"
"Woah, we're not even close to be there yet," Callie said.
"Yes but hypothetically. Are we actually bringing people over?" Arizona asked, not sure herself what the etiquette was.
"It's your house Arizona. I'm not gonna bring people to your house. I can always use Mark's place. If I even need to," Callie said with nothing but respect.
"It's your house too," Arizona responded immediately.
"Look, I know my name is technically still on the title, but…"
"No, Callie, I mean… for the duration of your stay here, it's only fair… what I'm trying to say is - I want you to feel like it's your house too. I want you to feel at home," Arizona said softly.
"Okay," Callie said, a wide smile appearing on her face. She was spending every night with her little girl, she was enjoying her best friend's company, and there was another child joining their lives soon. Why wouldn't she feel at home?
"God why would someone even want to get involved in this mess?" Arizona asked suddenly, referring to their living arrangement and general situation.
"Hmm…Because we are ridiculously hot?" Callie stated the obvious.
"That's a very valid point."
"You sure you're okay with this?" Callie checked again.
"I am. Do you believe me?"
"You're not supposed to hesitate, Callie! That's against the rules! The only time you ever hesitated…"
"I know! I know!" Callie cut her off, "I'm Sorry! Yes, I believe you, of course I believe you!"
"Good. I think I'm ready for my tea and rainbow mermaid now," Arizona said.
Callie stood up and gave Arizona a hand.
"One herbal tea and one rainbow mermaid coming right up!"
Arizona was standing in the hallway, looking at Callie through the conference room's window. It's been a few hours since they had their Lauren talk.
She finally decided to walk in.
"I'd like to suggest a rule" Arizona said as she walked into the room.
"What?" Callie asked in confusion.
Arizona couldn't stop thinking about their talk from earlier. Seeing Callie so distraught, so vulnerable, made her realize she wasn't the only one who was still hurting. Not by a long shot. She also realized that it was bound to happen again. That things from their past would hurt them in their present. Because even though they broke up, they never really talked things through. They sort of just… dissolved. And that conversation earlier, it was a little breakthrough.
Count your blessings, she thought.
"In light of recent events," she started, determined to do her entire pitch uninterrupted, "and considering that maybe at some point we can be more than just… acquaintances… well, let's make a pact right now, that if one of us asks the other if she believes her, the other one has to say yes. She can't hesitate before saying so. She has to say it straight away. Okay?"
"So if I ask you if you believe me, it's my way of swearing to you that I'm telling the truth. You need to know that I truly mean it, and vice versa. And you, in return, have to believe me, no questions asked, no buts. That's how we'll always know."
Callie looked at her for a long moment in contemplation, letting the idea sink in. Maybe getting to the same conclusions Arizona did, maybe even willing to dream they will be friends again, some day.
"So if we do this," she finally started, "it's so we have no doubts?"
"And so that we know that it has to be the absolute truth, and we can trust that, and count on that," Arizona concluded.
"Okay, then," Callie said and Arizona allowed herself to smile around Callie for the first time in more than a year.
"Deal?" she asked, but didn't move, or offered her hand for a shake. She just stood there, as did Callie.
"Deal," Callie said and allowed herself a small smile as well.
"Awesome!" Arizona said, and made Callie smile grew to a big, genuine one.
Then, Arizona turned around, and left the room without another word.