Disclaimer: I do not own Grey's Anatomy.
Author's Note: This is a surprise little sequel is one I hadn't been planning on. I should be working on my own pilot, but this idea just wouldn't leave me alone. More angst and all that jazz. Please, do enjoy
Summary: Four months later, Arizona Robbins is forced to return to Seattle Grace Mercy West Hospital. Sequel to "The Five Letter Word"
The Four Letter Word-
Four months later and Callie Torres still wasn't used to her short hair.
Though it was now distinctly longer then what the original alteration had been, it still came as a shock every time she looked at herself in the mirror. She hadn't realized how heavy her locks had been, but her head felt horribly lighter. Showers were the worst of it, when a lather-rinse-repeat would result in her grabbing at nothing but air; expecting her black locks to be longer than they were.
It was, she supposed, the consequences of making radical, impulsive changes; living with the results.
Callie puffed a stray piece of hair out of her face as she tried to focus on the chart before her, scribbling as she felt a body sidle up next to hers.
"Joe's tonight?" Mark asked, as he casually leaned against the desk; his arms crossed, his face smiling.
"No," Callie replied without hesitation, not looking up from her chart.
"Come on," Mark pressed on. "It'll be fun. You can even use it as an excuse to call that brunette, I won't mind at all, what was her name again?"
"Her name," Callie said, clicking her pen and snapping the chart closed. "Was I'm not going."
"I haven't worked on my cartilage in months," Callie pressed on. "It's time I got back at it."
"It's time you got back at something," Mark muttered.
Callie shook her head and handed the chart back to the nurse who was doing her best not to eavesdrop. "I have to go," she said, pushing away from the desk and walking down the hall.
"Callie!" Mark's voice echoed after her. She just waved him off.
Callie quickened her footsteps, heading towards the lobby; she needed to get out, she needed air.
She wasn't being antisocial, she told herself. She had gone out with Mark and their friends plenty in the past months. She was just…tired of being social.
She pushed open the door to the stairwell, needing to keep moving. She couldn't stand still long enough if she tried.
Besides, she reasoned with herself, she really did need to continue with her cartilage research.
She reached the ground floor and pushed her way out of the stairwell; turning towards the lobby and the front entrance of the hospital. Callie tucked her hands into her lab coat pockets, turning a corner she could see her destination in sight. Her eyes wavered from the door, taking in the occupants of the front waiting room.
And Calliope Torres stopped dead in her tracks.
Her eyes widened as they focused across the room. The Chief sat in a chair, Callie could clearly see his face as he bent forward; talking to a head of blonde hair Callie would forever recognize.
But, her brain tried to reason with her eyes, it just wasn't possible. And yet…
Arizona sat in a lobby chair, her back to Callie, her head bent. Even from this distance Callie could tell the Chief was speaking to her in a calm, soothing tone. And yet Arizona's body presented the façade of a young child being scolded for sticking her hand in the cookie jar.
Callie felt her heart rate quicken. Arizona was here. Arizona was in Seattle. Back at the hospital. Arizona was supposed to be in Africa. Africa.
The Chief reached out, placing a hand on Arizona's shoulder and she nodded. Slowly the two stood together; the Chief's hand moving to the blonde's back as he guided her to turn.
And then Callie felt her heart stop.
Their eyes met across the room and horror filled Arizona's eyes; her face covered in bruises and scratches. Arizona quickly averted her gaze and Callie felt her own move, down. Down to the strap across Arizona's shoulder. Down to the sling that was holding her right arm to her chest. Down to her casted right hand. Down to the purple, blue, misshapen fingers that sat limply in the sling.
And Callie was certain she would never be able to breathe again.
Callie, Mark, Derek, and Owen looked at the x-rays.
Behind them stood Karev, Lexie, Meredith, Cristina, Bailey, and the Chief.
Mark, Derek, and Owen were talking quietly amongst themselves while the others watched on and Callie…Callie couldn't move.
She stood, rooted to the floor, her eyes unable to look away from the two sets of x-rays. One set that had flown halfway around the world; the other mere minutes old. The newer ones were stabilized versions of the originals, of the horrible reality of the originals, and even they were nauseating to look at.
Damaged nerves, torn muscles and tendons, crushed bones. All of it resided in Arizona's right hand. Her right hand.
Callie felt sick.
She had often wondered what it would feel like to see Arizona Robbins again. She had never imagined it would feel like this. She had imagined yelling and screaming and tears and anger and sorrow. But she hadn't imagined this. And she was beginning to wish it was anything but the dull ache.
"They stabilized a lot of the damage," Owen said, her voice floating above the silence of the room. "But we're going to have to operate soon to stand a chance."
"But," Karev said, stepping to the front of the group hovering by the door. "You're going to be able to fix it, right? She's going to be able to operate again…"
Everyone looked to the four attendings as silence responded to Karev's question.
"Doctor Torres," Derek finally spoke, turning to Callie who had yet to speak a word. "Any thoughts?"
Callie felt their eyes turn to her as she continued to stare at the x-rays. "It's going to hurt," she stated simply, grabbing the x-rays and pushing through the crowd at the door.
What the hell else had they expected her to say?
Arizona Robbins sat in a jeep.
A small hand clutched in her own, a young head resting in her lap; the boy in her arms winced as they hit a bump in the road and he cried out. She shushed him quietly, smoothing her free hand over his head. "We're almost there," she whispered, "And then we'll make it all better. I promise."
She knew he couldn't understand her, but despite their language barrier, the large brown eyes that stared at her relaxed.
This. This was why she had given up her life in Seattle. This was why she was doing what she was.
She and her group of doctors had been called to a nearby village where a young boy was showing signs of appendicitis. A young boy who would never have been given the opportunity to be seen by a surgeon. A young boy who would have fallen victim to a deadly appendix had she not been there.
This. This was it. And she knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that she had made the right decision.
Arizona smiled sadly as they hit another dip in the road as her mind traveled four months in the past, when doubt had clouded the every nerve of her being.
A tear-filled eighteen hour flight, a phone call she knew had been a mistake, a number of emails she had started to write but hadn't dared to begin. Her first month in Malawi had Arizona wondering if giving up being with Callie was worth it; there had once been a time when she knew that nothing had been worth giving up Callie. She had lived through that, they both had, and they had recovered.
By now here they were again. Only this time there was no easy reconciliation. There was three years and an ocean between them. Arizona had never been one to choose her career over personal relationships. She had promised herself she would never be that person, but she hadn't been able to pass this opportunity. As she had told Callie…it was her duty.
But the doubt had quickly faded. The more work she did the more Arizona knew she had made the right decision. She was changing lives, for the better. She was bringing happiness to families who wouldn't normally see it. And she was happy in return. And if Callie couldn't be happy for that…
Well, Arizona told herself time and time again,, she had made the right decision.
And yet…when the opportunity arrived to send emails, though few and far between, Arizona's mouse always hovered over her ex-girlfriends name.
Another dip in the road brought Arizona back to the present as another small cry filled her ears. The blonde craned her neck over the side of the jeep; she could see the top of their medical center appearing over the horizon.
"Almost there," she promised to the small form in her arms. "Almost there."
Arizona closed her eyes, centering herself before they arrived; mentally preparing for the surgery she was about to perform.
And then it happened.
The jeep hit another hole, or a rock, or a small animal for all Arizona knew, but it didn't matter. It didn't matter how it happened. It just mattered that it did.
The jeep veered off course and tipped. The little boy screamed and Arizona wrapped her body around his. All of the vehicles inhabitants were dumped to the ground.. Arizona felt her right shoulder dislocate as she hit the dirt and she held tighter to the boy with her left hand.
It all happened so fast.
They were the first roll from the vehicle; Arizona landed on her back with a thud. She looked to the boy in her arm. He didn't seem too bad, despite his teas. She looked to her right; her right arm stretched out limply from her body. Her eyes widened as the jeep finally fell to its side and the remaining supplies in it spewed forth.
Arizona barely had time to register what was happening before a heavy, dirty, metal medicine cabinet tumbled forward landing on her hand with a resounding thump.
She felt pain shoot through her hand and up her arm; consuming her entire body until it was a dull ache in her head and she screamed.
She screamed. Arizona Robbins screamed harder than she ever had in her entire life.
"A trauma surgeon popped my shoulder back in and operated as best he could," Arizona said and Callie hated how emotionless the blonde's voice sounded, her bright blue eyes missed their usual spark. Her hospital gown was a sharp contrast to dark blue scrubs.
It was wrong. It was all wrong.
"There's plenty of good hospitals closer to Malawi that could have helped you," Mark said. "Why did you come back to Seattle?" He asked and Callie wanted to kick him.
Arizona sighed. "I'm a surgeon, Mark, I know what's happened to my hand. If I want to operate again I need the best and you all." Arizona paused as her gaze traveled over Mark, Derek, and Owen before finally coming to rest on Callie. "You're the best," she finished quietly.
Derek sighed quietly and looked to Owen. The red head stepped forward. "Arizona we don't know if…the damage…" Owen looked uncomfortably to the other doctors. Callie averted her gaze to the tiled floor.
"You can say it," Arizona pushed quietly, her eyes hardening.
"We don't know that you'll be able to regain full use," Derek said quietly.
Callie felt her jaw harden.
"But I promise we'll do the best we can to make sure that you do," the man added and Owen nodded. "We'll schedule the first surgery as soon as possible and we'll go from there."
"It's going to be a long road, Doctor Robbins," Owen said. And Arizona nodded.
Derek and Owen looked to Mark and Callie; she refused to look back.
"We'll go clear our schedules and let you now."
Derek and Owen quietly left the room. Mark looked to Callie but she kept her gaze planted firmly on the floor. Mark sighed and stepped to Arizona.
"I promise you we'll fix this, Arizona," he said quietly and Callie could practically feel Arizona's sad smile.
"You shouldn't make a promise you can't keep, Mark."
"I'm not," he said simply before he slowly backed out of the room.
Callie wanted to move. She willed her feet to carry her from the room. She too needed to clear her schedule. But she couldn't move. She couldn't even think. She couldn't even feel. She didn't know what to feel.
Suddenly a sniffle filled the air.
Callie's eyes snapped up to see Arizona sitting in the hospital bed; looking like a small child surrounded by nasty machines, as she tried not to cry. And suddenly, Callie could only think of one thing to do. Instinct took hold and she took a tentative step forward.
"Arizona," she whispered quietly and the blonde jumped, looking to Callie; surprise filling her blank eyes. "Mark's right, we'll fix this. Please…please don't cry."
There was once a time that Callie would have jumped forward and gathered the crying blonde into her arms. But now…the distance of an ocean still seemed to settle in her heart.
"That's not," Arizona hiccupped, and she wiped at her eyes. "That's not why I'm crying."
Callie waited, an eyebrow raised, knowing she shouldn't press. It wasn't her place anymore.
"I just," Arizona sighed and batted her eyes, looking to the ceiling. "I tried so hard to be happy again. I was happy again. And I tried not to think of you but I did and it was finally beginning to hurt less and less. But now I'm back here and you're here and I don't know what to do or think or say or act. My arm hurts, my hand hurts, everything hurts and…and…and…" Arizona sniffled again and the dam finally broke, her tears falling fast and hard. "And you cut your hair!"
Callie's hand flew to her hair as Arizona's blubbering broke into deep, heavy sobs. And the radical change of her decision hit Callie again.
Right, her hair was shorter. She had forgotten.
Arizona choked on a sob and Callie could no longer stand still.
She moved forward, to the edge of the bed, and pulled Arizona into her arms. She felt the blonde stiffen and Callie was certain that had she full use of both arms she would have pushed her away. But after a few seconds, she felt Arizona relax and her cries doubled.
Callie reached between their bodies, grabbing a hold of Arizona's left hand. She guided the hand up and around her own neck. She grabbed a chunk of her hair and threaded the blonde's fingers through it; making sure Arizona had a tight hold on her.
She was here.
They stayed like that, for how long Callie didn't know. But they stayed. Swaying slightly to the rhythm of their own breathing.
Callie wondered where they would go from here. But it was no use. It was far too uncertain to even fathom.
There would be surgeries and pain and physical therapy. And through it all they would be near one another again. They would go through it all together, even if they didn't want to, because, as Callie had learned so long ago, their lives were forever entwined.
It was all uncertain and wondering was no use.
But, with Arizona in her arms, her sobs fading to quiet sniffles, Callie Torres felt at home.
If only for a moment.