Chapter Seventeen

She couldn't stop straightening the lilies up. She needed them to look perfect as they rested against the stone. She knelt back and frowned. They still weren't perfect. She leant forward to move them again. She laughed to herself as she realised she had been doing this very action since she arrived. She touched them again before settling back on her heels.

"Hi," she whispered to the air. She closed her eyes and felt the cool breeze against her cheeks. "It's been one hell of a year."

She couldn't help but remember that a year ago today, a twelve year old boy died, changing the course of her life forever. A twelve year old boy was shot and in his hand he clutched onto a story his little brother had created for him. She blinked away her tears.

She couldn't help but see his smiling face as he ran after a soccer ball or his protective streak as he pulled his smaller brother close or his pride when he was praised. She will always wonder who the man Toni never became would have been.

She knelt forward and touched the lilies again.

A year and everything had changed so much.

She could remember the vacancy of brown eyes as they went from nothing to vast emptiness. She remembered the shouts after the shot, the police firing once more, the small boy dropping to the floor, his last breath as he closed his eyes. She didn't want to know the man Jacob would have been.

It had been a year and she never thought she would be here. Kneeling in this spot, fussing over these lilies.

She could remember the anger in dark brown eyes at the loss of a brother and the loss of a mother. She could remember the joy in his voice when he wiggled his toes after all hope was lost. The laughter as he started walking, the scraped knee after he started playing soccer again, the scared face on his first day of school, the elation of his first report card, the delight at his first real birthday party. She knew she was going to meet the man Paco will become.

She touched the stone carefully, allowing her fingers trace the carved letterings.

She could remember the blue eyes. The blue eyes she loved; once filled with anger, hurt at what she had done. Once filled with forgiveness, hope at what could be. Always filled with love. She remembered the pale hands embrace her dark hands, pushing her away before pulling her back in the end. She remembered the softness of the voice that talked about the future they were to have. She remembered the shot. The loud shot and the silence as the smaller woman looked to her chest, touching it. She remembered the blood seep from the wound, slowly trickle its way down her torso, darkening the navy scrubs. She remembered the blue eyes fill with pain and surprise. She remembered the blonde hair fall over the pale face as she slid to the floor. She remembered calling out her name, running to her, cradling her, begging her to wake up. She remembered being pulled back by Mark, held in place, as she watched the other doctors take her love away. She remembered screaming, crying as she watched shaking heads.

It had been a year since everything changed.

She scolded herself for touching the lilies again. She pushed back her dark tresses behind her ear.

She felt herself become trapped in memories of bathroom kisses, cheating husbands, silly arguments, confusion, anger, happiness, fear and hope. She surrounded herself with the tracks of her life, seeing how everything fell into place for her to get to this exact place. She knew if George had never cheated on her, she would never have considered being with another woman. If Erica had never left her, she would never have been upset. If she hadn't been upset, she would never have been in Joe's that night. If she hadn't been there, she would never have had the first kiss of thousands with Arizona. If she hadn't left Arizona, she would never have met Paco. If she had never gone to Bolivia, she would never have known what love really is. She would never have known that love was the little things, the big things and the things in between. That love was comfortable and discomforting. That love would hurt and that love would heal. That love was a culmination of emotions which never needed to be explained. If she had never left, she would never have appreciated what love actually was. She would never have realised that love wasn't planning and talking, but was just being. She would never have realised that love was Arizona.

She touched the lettering on the stone again and watched as the sun came from beyond the clouds, illuminating the marble. She touched her fingers to her lips, kissing them softly before returning them to the stone.

"Thank you," she whispered. "Thank you for love."

She stood up and returned to the pavement where she saw Paco balancing carefully along the wall, placing one foot in front of another as he tried to move faster.

"Paco, get off that wall. You will break something."

Paco jumped off and grinned at her. She couldn't help but grin back as she ruffled his hair.

"Home," he asked and she nodded and watched as he raced to the car.

She felt arms slip around her waist and a soft kiss beside her ear.

"You okay?"

Callie nodded and leaned into the touch, "Just saying thank you… if he had never cheated, I would never have met you."

The brunette turned to face the blonde and saw love sparkle in the blue eyes.

The blonde smiled, "You're thanking your dead ex-husband for cheating on you?"

Callie smiled, "Yes"

Arizona laughed and leaned upwards and kissed her softly before pulling back. Callie traced the scar that peered through the top of her shirt. Arizona closed her eyes at the touch and held Callie close as she felt the brunette kiss is tenderly. She looked into the dark eyes, "You really do love scars on a woman, don't you?"

Callie laughed, "I love that scar. It's sexy… no, it means you're alive and here and with me."

"Also, means I match with Paco," Arizona stated.

Callie grinned before looking for the small boy. She saw him behind the steering wheel and looked at Arizona who frowned.

"That kid is going to be driving before you know it," the blonde stated, almost concerned.

"Hopefully not with your driving skills," Callie joked and laughed at the punch she received. She grabbed the smaller woman into a hug, kissing her again. "Home?"

Arizona nodded, "Home."

The two held hands as they walked towards the car.

"I love you," Arizona whispered tenderly.

Callie stopped, her feet scuffled the small pebbles as she turned to the blonde, "You do?"

Arizona smiled gently, "I do."

Callie smiled, stepping closer to her, "I love you too."