Title: House Of Cards: Jack and Ace's Adventures
Authors: Lauren and Brittany
Summary: Since the arrival of their dimpling duo, Callie and Arizona's lives have been like a house of cards in a hurricane. Hectic, unpredictable, but amazingly beautiful.
Pairing: Callie/Arizona featuring Jack and Ace Torres- Robbins
Disclaimer: All television shows, movies, books and other copyrighted material referred to in this work, and the characters, settings and events thereof, are properties of their respective owners. As this work is an interpretation of the original material and not for profit, it constitutes fair use. Reference to real persons, places, or events are made in a fictional context, and are not intended to be libelous, defamatory, or in any way factual.
Author's Note: First, and foremost, I want to thank Lauren for putting up with my insane attention disorder and allowing me to write this phenomenal fic with her. Check her out as roughian on Livejournal! :) Thanks to Mags for making us such a lovely banner that you can check out in my profile! And hmm.. well, I guess that is about all so I now introduce you to the first in a series of installments about Callie and Arizona's life with their rambunctious, dimpling twins Jack and Ace. We sincerely hope you enjoy. :]
Part One- A
There is an unknown magic in the air. The sounds of the Salvation Army bells ringing on every street corner, a jolly man in a red suit in every mall calling for boys and girls alike and practically brain numbing cartoons somewhat relating to Christmas on every channel. The snow settles in from the north, quietly blanketing the town in familiar comfort and childlike wonderment. The houses are lit up an array of different colors, Nativity scenes, Frosty The Snowman's and other Christmas materialistic items. The voices of caroling neighbors drift away around the block as the sounds of sleigh bells manage to put a little extra sprinkle of magic and happiness in the souls of the people nearby.
It is quiet in Seattle, Washington today, much like all the other days of this blasting frigid winter that came far too quick and without warning. The houses are lit with holiday passion as the residents settle in by their fireplace for another long day of warmth and cookie intake. There is silence in the neighborhood; all, except, for one house in particular.
Nestled in a quaint cul-de-sac, the Torres-Robbins house stands with charming, regal beauty. The lawn is decorated with the clichés of Christmas lore. Frosty sits at one end of the lawn, while an amicable Santa Claus waves at every passing visitor, his reindeer flanking his left and right. Multi-colored lights are strung over the a-frame and porch of the house, flashing their polychromatic cheer into the crisp night. One very gorgeous Ortho-Rockstar is particularly proud of those lights, especially since she nearly pulled a Rachel-from-Friends-falling-off-the-balcony-while-stringing-Christmas-lights moment. Fortunately, the fall only resulted in a shallow cut, remedied with a Spiderman Band-Aid and a little TLC from the loves of her life. Yet, despite Callie's lights, their tree shines brightest of them all, decorated with heaps of homemade ornaments, ribbons, lights, and a beaming star at the top. Even through the foggy, snow shrouded windows, the star still boasts its light vibrantly, warmly.
The scene is like something out of a storybook, but instead of Carols or a Silent Night, there is a familiar heart-warming titter inside the house. A noise that one could possibly miss if trained to listen with their ears instead of their hearts; a lesson that Calliope Torres graciously accepted when her entire world changed that night in the bathroom at Joe's.
"Jack, where is your brother?" A very tired, and clearly frustrated Calliope asks as she twists her fingers through her disheveled raven black curls in exasperation. The young boy looks up from his dinosaur book, peering over his small rimmed glasses, batting his long eyelashes carefully before he shrugs his shoulders. When she agreed to watch the twins this afternoon, she had not expected them to be hyped up on sugar cookies and chocolate milk. Perhaps if she had known she would have revised her answer. She should have known, however, because toddlers manage to sneak and grab things without being caught; they should be secret agents or something, Callie smirks.
"Ace! Ace Christopher, you answer me right now!" Calliope demands but there is only silence and the sound of hushed giggles coming from the kitchen. Forcing a smile on her face, she heads toward the kitchen, this cannot be good, she sighs.
Seated on the counter, swinging his blue jean clad legs, Ace giggles as he stuffs another star shaped cookie into his mouth. "I'm tasting the cookies!" He announces, and gives Callie the dimpled grin she can't seem to shake in this family anymore. Regardless of where it comes from—Arizona or the twins- it has the same affect.
"Ace Christopher Robbins-Torres. What did I tell you today when we made those cookies?" She's trying her best to keep a straight face, but Ace is uncontrollably giggling, no doubt fueled by the incredible amount of sugar he's just consumed.
"You said that we were gonna make cookies for Santa!" He throws his hands up in the air, sending a shower of crumbs over the counter and onto the floor. It is then Callie notices his hair is dusted with the same.
How cookies are in his hair are beyond her.
"And what, else, did I say?" She stands with her hands on her hips, biting the inside of her cheek to keep from laughing at the sight as Ace holds his side with laughter.
"That…" He can't seem to get his words out. "That Mama doesn't want us eating too many, so we don't get the sillies."
"Ace!" Callie's tone is a little more severe than she anticipated, and his smile fades. He sets the soggy, half-eaten cookie down on the counter. He drops his head. If he's inherited anything from his mama, it's the authority-induced tears. It only takes one sharp tone before he's sniffling a little.
"I'm sorry, Mommy. They…" He wipes his nose on his sleeve. "Are just yummy." Callie breaks a little, and comes forward, pulling a paper towel from the roll and dampening it in the sink. She wipes at the crumbs off of Ace's face, and brushes them out of his hair, shaking her head very softly. It is impossible to stay mad at these boys. He wraps his arms around her neck after dutifully sitting through his clean up. She sighs and kisses the top of his platinum blond head, listening to him sniffle against her shoulder. Tired and frustrated, she mentally chastises herself for going off on him and pulls away, holding his small hands within her own.
"I'm sorry I yelled, but those cookies are for Santa, and Mama. She's been working at the hospital all day, and I bet they will make her happy. What do you think?" She smiles at him, and he smiles in return, soothed by her regulated tone of voice.
Ace nods sheepishly. Callie can tell he's just sleepy, now. Since he and his brother managed to giggle through their afternoon naps, they are only running on fumes,and sugar cookies. Crankiness is sure to follow with both of the toddlers. "I think Mama will like those." He agrees, blinking watery blues at his Mommy.
Sliding him off of the counter, Callie shifts him to her right hip. He's getting too heavy to carry, but she feels bad for getting cranky with him and walks him into the living room to check on his twin brother, who still sits absorbed in his dinosaur book. Jack has somehow managed to turn the tables and assume the role of innocent angel. After whacking Ace with a Tonka Truck, and receiving a lengthy time-out, he put on his pajamas (backwards, which Callie had to fix without laughing) and spent the rest of the evening engrossed in his book, occasionally asking for more juice in his sippy cup, or quietly slipping off to the bathroom. When she enters the room, he gives her a million watt grin, before burying his bespectacled face back into the book.
Callie climbs the stairs with Ace still on her hip and takes him to the bedroom he shares with his brother, nearly fainting at the sight of disarray. She settles him on his feet and plucks off his soggy thermal and cookie-smeared jeans, changing him into a clean pair of holiday pajamas, printed with serene polar bears and blue snowflakes. Ace is rubbing his face sleepily before he trudges down the stairs, and Callie looks at the clock. In exactly forty minutes, the boys will be asleep and she will be downstairs with a glass of wine and a medical journal. The thought sends a flutter of excitement through her stomach as she hastily deposits toys and books to the shelves and toy box. By doing this, the brunette hopes to spare some of Arizona's type-A-induced angst.
Regardless, she can't wait for her wife to come home, especially when she hears that telling shriek.
"Jackson David…what did I tell you about hitting?" She calls out of the room with a huff, storming down the stairs, walking in on the tussling toddlers on the floor of the living room. Jack's glasses are disregarded onto the floor and he has a fistful of Ace's blonde hair, but the other toddler won't relent, keeping the dinosaur book just out of sight. The sippy cup has spilled juice all over the carpeting, which Callie winces at upon seeing, she isn't exactly how many more Apple juice spills their carpet can sustain. In a tumbling fit of twists the boys are precariously close to jostling the tree loose from its stand, which would be the third time it's fallen this holiday season. Callie acts quickly and scoops the boys up in either arm, sitting on the couch in the middle of the squabbling boys to separate them. They reach across her, each trying to get their point across in near slaps and shoves.
"Boys!" She says tersely causing the pair to retreat to frowning, arms crossed over the fronts of their Christmas 'jammies.
"He started it!" Says Jack, climbing off the couch to pull his glasses back onto his face. He scowls at his identical twin, magnified through thick lenses.
"Nu-uh! I only wanted to see your book!" Ace defends, sniffling back tears. There's a raised welt forming on his neck, and Callie knows that Jack, aka Mike Tyson, probably bit him. After all, like their Mama, neither of these boys knew quite how to fight fair.
"I wasn't done reading it yet!" Jack snaps and starts crying again, rubbing his nose and eyes against Callie's arm.
"Okay, listen, shhh, hijos, porfavor." Callie feels like she's at her wits' end, and any moment she will join the duo of sobbing toddlers. "How about a story? Would you like that, mis angelos?"
Angelos is a white lie right now, but Callie needs to soothe them.
They both nod, simultaneously, which still sort of startles Callie. The pair are so in sync sometimes it's scary.
She pulls the fleece blanket off of the back of the couch and pulls it over them, pulling her boys close, who sigh tiredly. Jack's thumb goes into his mouth, and Callie is honestly too tired to fight him from his habit tonight. Ace pinches the fleece between his fingers and rubs his nose with it, mirroring the actions with his own blanket upstairs. This is all wonderful signs for Callie, because it means the boys are surrendering to their tiredness.
"This is about a Christmas mouse named…" Callie thinks for a moment, "Pepito." The boys giggle a little at her intonation. "Pepito lived in Santa's workshop, making a little burrow in the wall where he made himself a little house with a tiny bed, a tiny kitchen, and a tiny bath tub. Pepito loved his house at Santa's work shop. It always smelled like Christmas cookies, and during the day he heard the elves making all the toys for the good boys and girls. Occasionally he would eat crumbs that the elves dropped from their cookies and get a few sips of cider and egg nog."
"He drinks egg nog? Gross!" Jack giggles
"Yeah, double gross!" Ace pipes in, yawning.
"Pepito loves egg nog so much that one day he sees a whole big pitcher of it on the windowsill, and he can't wait any longer so he rushes out of his house to the egg nog. But, he forgets the elves are working and scares them so very much! One of the elves named Arizona runs on top of a table and shouts for Santa because she's so scared!" The boys laugh at this.
"Just like mama! Remember the mouse?" They chatter to their mommy, giggling still.
"Yep! Just like your mama! Boy that was funny, huh?" She shares a smile with the toddlers whose eyes are slowly managing to close; they only nod at her with similar matching grins.
"Does Uncle Mark come get the mouse and take it to the mouse farm?" Jack asks, taking his thumb out of his mouth.
"Just wait, niños," Callie soothes, grinning to the boys. "Santa rushes over, hearing all the yelling, and sees Arizona on the table, and then the mouse trying to get to the egg nog. And he goes, 'ho, ho, ho! Hello there mister mouse!' But the mouse is so scared that he tries to hide, afraid Santa's going to make him go outside and live with the reindeer. But, Pepito loves his warm little house in the wall. So he puts his little hands together and he says, 'Santa, santa, please don't let me go outside! I just love the egg nog, I am so sorry that I scared your elf!' But Santa laughs and says, 'that's okay! How about I let you stay here at the North Pole and be our official egg nog tester, and you can stay in the wall and live here with us.' The mouse looks up at Santa with a big smile, and says 'of course!' And to this day, Pepito lives in the wall, testing all the egg nog at the North Pole!"
Ace and Jack are not bothered by how cheesy Callie thinks this story is, and nuzzle against her appreciatively. She manages to pick both sleepy boys up, and walks them up the stairs, putting Jack in his bed on the left and Ace in his own on the right. She kisses both of their heads, gives Jack his stuffed puppy, and makes sure Ace has the fleece blanket up against his face. Within seconds their soft, even breathing fills the room and Callie feels a proud victorious streak brewing in her chest. She fought hard today, and won. After turning on their spaceship nightlight, Callie whispers, "Te amo, mis angelos." Before closing the door to their bedroom, hoisting her arms up in successful victory.
She walks back downstairs and feels a familiar hand on her own, belonging to another sleepy looking blonde who pulls her into her arms and presses her very cold lips against her own. Callie nearly melts into those arms, feeling like they have medicinal purposes, and sighing audibly as she rests her head against Arizona's shoulder.
"Pepito, huh?" Arizona whispers, tucking a lock of hair behind Callie's ear.
"Pepito put the kids to sleep, so I don't even want to hear it, you." Callie replies, shivering at the warm touches from her wife. The teasing grin is curling upon Arizona's face, she knows that it will most likely get her into trouble later but she is too tired to fight it.
"Yeah, but you could have named him John or Jacob…" Her voice trails off and Callie draws her brow together, squinting her eyes as a defiant smile plays upon her lips.
"Or Jingleheimer Schmidt?" smirks Callie and Arizona laughs that beautiful, melody of a laugh that reminds Callie why life is worth living in the first place.
"Yeah, I was thinking something kinda like that," Arizona winks, stealing another kiss from Callie's lips before she collapses onto their sofa, smiling as she picks up the sippy cup, tracing the shape of the green dinosaur from Toy Story whose name manages to fail her now.
"How were they today?" Arizona intrigues, her blue eyes flickering to Callie who shuffles around the living room, picking up the toys that the boys carelessly dropped once they lost interest in them. Callie allows a raspy laugh to fall from her lips as she drops the cars and dinosaurs into their appropriate bin.
"What can I say, Arizona? Your kids are…" She laughs, brushing her hair away from her face as she sits down on the sofa beside of her loving wife, her legs drawn up under her, "your kids are angelos."
"My kids? Oh no. They are never my kids unless something happens. What happened? What's broken?" Arizona asks in an almost frantic melt down. Her eyes scan the room for any evidence of anything being shattered and super glued back together because apparently, superglue is Callie's answer for everything. Callie laughs, mostly because it is true, intertwining her fingers around Arizona's as she softly brushes her cheek.
"Nothing is broken. Relax. It was just an exhausting day. Everything was going good… perhaps too good until.." Callie is ready to launch into her story, prepared to not skip any details (because if she had to suffer through their twins hyper, sugar crazed behavior so did Arizona), when the sound of shuffling little feet catch them both off guard.
"Mama! You're home!" Ace's raspy voice calls out to his Mama, dragging his fuzzy blue ragged blanket behind him. Arizona's face lights up with her infamous thousand watt smile upon seeing her son in his holiday pajamas, the sleepy look on his face and his bed head hair of messy blond curls.
"Hey, baby," Arizona whispers calmly and Ace forces a sleepy smile, trotting his way from the stairwell and up into Arizona's lap. He rests his head on her chest, covering himself in his blanket as he takes a lock of her hair between his fingers, gently playing with it as he soothes himself.
"Did you have a fun day at work?" Ace mumbles and Arizona wrinkles her brow in confusion, her eyes meeting Callie's as she mouths the word 'work?' to her. She certainly had not been at Seattle Grace all day, in fact, after the day she had, she would have much rather been there instead. Fighting through the crowds of clueless husbands, grumbling grannies and crazed middle aged women, Arizona successfully managed to buy the boys the perfect presents that are now put away in the hallway closet far out of their reach. Callie only shrugs at her wife's confusion before the blond returns her attention to the tired toddler in her lap.
"Yeah, I did. But I missed you and your brother though," Arizona replies, ticking his sides while the boy laughs in a squeal, a sound that warms Callie's heart.
"We missed you too. Mommy gave us lots and lots of cookies!" Ace exclaims, beaming a bright grin and Arizona laughs at her son.
"Oh, she did, did she? Well, at least tell me that you and your brother were good for your Mommy," Arizona intrigues and the boy's face falls with a quaint little frown, his bottom lip pudging out as he rubs his eyes with the back of his fist.
"Jack bit me," Ace whines.
"Because you stole my book!" Jack defends himself from the bottom stair, his puppy clutched tightly in his arms. Callie rolls her eyes with a sigh, falling back on the sofa. When she had left, both boys were sound asleep, what went wrong?
"Because you wouldn't share!" Ace whines, raising up in his Mama's lap, frowning at his brother who makes a similar scowl from under his dark rimmed glasses.
"Maybe if you had used your manners like Mama always says…"
"Jackson David! Ace Christopher! You both stop it right now!" Arizona scolds and the sudden tone of authority in their Mama's voice startles both of the boys who come to a startling silence with their bickering. Instead, Jack wanders his way across the room, shares a tender smile with Callie before he claims residence in her lap.
"Mama, are you mad?" Jack's tiny voice mumbles in an almost hushed whisper. Looking over at her son, Arizona can not help but think of how innocent he looks sitting there in Calliope's lap, his puppy drawn tightly to his chest. His frames are settled upon his button nose crookedly, confirming to her that he had put them on by himself and a flush of warmth runs through her. At nearly four years old, it strikes her by surprise at how fiercely independent her children are; but, after all, she smiles, they are not just her children, most of their wonderful characteristics come from the woman who is coddling Jackson.
"No, I'm not mad," Arizona sighs and Callie rolls her eyes. Push over "But we don't fight in this family. Do you understand me, boys?" She shares her glaze between Jack and Ace who both sleepily nod their heads. Ace contemplates his mother's statement, wrinkling his tiny golden brow in confusion.
"But you fight with Uncle Mark all the time," Ace points out matter of factly and Arizona groans, which only inflicts a smile on Callie's face and a stifled laughter in her throat. Now, she knows what it is like to have a know-it-all turn her words against her like she has managed to during so many pivotal moments of her life.
"That's different. Uncle Mark and I fight because… because.." She is struggling and Callie notices.
"Your Mama and Uncle Mark fight because they both love me and they love you two and they are jealous when the other one gets to spend more time with us. We are awesome and they want to keep us all to their selves," Callie swoops in valiantly with an all knowing smile on her face. Jack draws his thumb from his mouth, slobber dripping from the tiny digit and onto his pajamas as he lets out a breath slowly.
"But Mama always says to share!" Jack exclaims in an almost wail. Mission failed, Callie sighs. Arizona laughs quietly, placing her hand on Jack's knee, massaging it carefully as she sends in a wink in his direction before flopping Ace's platinum curls between her fingers.
"Exactly. Share. Which means, Jack, the next time that your brother wants to look at your dinosaur book, you're not going to bite him but you are going to scoot over and let him climb up in the sofa with you and tell him the stories about the dinosaurs instead of fighting over it. And Ace? If your brother wants his space and wants to look at the book, wait until he is finished, okay? There are plenty of other toys to play with to pass the time until he is finished, okay? No hitting or biting or kicking or else the time out monster is going to make you come sit with him. Does every one understand?," Arizona explains and the boys' eyes, although drooping, widen at the sound of the time out monster and nod their head vigorously, both remembering all too well how not fun the time out monster is.
"Alright, it's time for bed. To bed, I said!" Callie instructs but the boys shake their heads simultaneously in perfect sync with one another.
"Nu-uh! We are big boys now, we want to stay up like you and Mama!" Ace exclaims, rubbing his eyes with the back of his fist as he rubs his rugged blanket under his nose. Even though he made her life hell today, Callie can not help but think how precious he is now, fighting his exhaustion and his sugar crash just to spend a few more seconds with his Mama.
"Yeah, big boys!" yawns Jack. Arizona smiles at him as her eyes meet Callie's who whispers 'help' just soft enough to miss the boys ears. She nods in understanding as she runs her fingers through Ace's blond curls and tickles Jack's foot that is now propped up in her lap. The boy smiles at her, pulling his foot back as he runs his fingers over his dog's ears, his eyes drooping with exhaustion.
"You want to know a secret?" Arizona smiles and the boys nod their head, their eyes fixated upon her face as they listen intently, taking in every moment with their Mama, "if you guys go to sleep, when you wake up, it will only be two days until Santa comes! It will only be two days until you wake up and there will be a whole big bunch of presents under the tree for you! And maybe when Santa comes he will bring… Pepito with him and maybe, just maybe, if you are really good, he will let you pet him!"
"When the mouse was in the house the first time, you wouldn't let us go near him," Jack grumbles, squeezing the dog in his arms, smothering his face in the plush, barely peering over his dark rimmed glasses. Wrinkling her brow, Arizona nods her head in understanding, a slight shudder erupting over her body at the mere mentioning of the mouse fiasco that left her scarred for the next few months.
"Well this… this is a magic mouse!" Arizona replies and Ace's little eyes light up with excitement.
"Really?" Ace exclaims, his blue eyes sparkling with innocence and wonderment. Arizona smiles, placing her thumb on his nose and he huffs, a familiar big grin appearing on her face and it melts her at how much he is like the restless Latina on the sofa beside of her.
"Oh yeah! Totally! He's like.. Super Pepito!" Arizona beams a bright grin, nodding her head. Ace gasps in excitement, jumping down from her lap as he tosses his blanket over his shoulders, forming a temporary cape as he holds his hand out for Jack.
"Come on, Jack! Lets hurry! Pepito is coming! Pepito is coming!" Ace exclaims, jumping up and down. Jack smiles at his brother, climbing down carefully from Callie's lap, tucking his puppy under his left arm before he places his tiny hand within Ace's. Callie sighs happily as she watches them, the two boys who were practically ready to murder one another over some half priced dinosaur book, come together in innocence and love. Ace and Jack slowly shuffle toward the stairs before Ace stops, turning around, his blue eyes finding Arizona's.
"Mama, we missed you today. Will you come and tuck us in?" pouts Ace.
"Yeah, please?" Jack mumbles, rubbing his eyes under his glasses. Arizona smiles as she pats Callie's thigh lovingly before she slowly stands, her joints popping at the sudden movement and she winces only slightly. She hates the winter and now she remembers why.
"Of course I will. Come on Thing One and Thing Two," Arizona smiles patting their tiny behinds as they tumble up the stairs in front of her, each mumbling their good nights to Callie whom they have managed to forget all about now. Laughing at their sons, Arizona smiles as she turns to Callie who is now standing, exhaustion written upon her face. She would force a smile, she sighs, if she wasn't so tired.
"I was really hoping that you would tuck me in bed," Callie sighs, brushing a curl away from Arizona's face. The blond smiles, taking her hand as she kisses her knuckles softly, listening as her wife sucks in a sharp breath. She knows that she is getting tired which is making her irrationally clingy and on any other night, nothing would be cuter, except tonight Arizona is exhausted.
"Later. I'll get the boys, but I need you to go to my car," Arizona begins but Callie interrupts.
"Arizona, it's freezing out there!" whines Callie and Arizona rolls her eyes. One of the boys call out for her, she can not make out which one and she sighs in frustration. There is only one of her and three bodies all demanding attention and all she wants to do is sleep.
"I need you to go out there and get the g-i-f-t-s so I can w-r-a-p them. Okay? Can you just.. can you do that for me? Please?" Arizona begs, placing a kiss upon her cheek before she begins to climb the stairs, pretending like she can not hear the Spanish curses that fall from Callie's tender lips. She's angry with her, she knows this, but it isn't the first time and she knows that it probably won't be the last. She turns the corner to the boys room, opening the door to find Jack in his bed and Ace in his own, both covered with the massive blankets that she demanded be put on their beds the second it reached the second week of December. They are both nearly asleep but they have been waiting for her and it makes her smile.
"Two days till Super Pepito, right, Mama?" yawns Ace, pulling his blanket up and gently rubbing his button nose with it as his blue eyes begin to flutter close. Arizona smiles at him, nodding her head softly before she turns her attention to Jack. Snuggled down deep in his blankets, Jack is clutching tightly to his puppy that his Abuelo bought for him on his second birthday, his glasses resting comfortably on the nightstand that separates the boys' bed. With a hum in her throat, she runs her fingers through Jack's curls, tucking his blanket around his body, then turning and doing the same for Ace.
"Bad dreams, bad dreams go away, good dreams, good dreams here to stay. Bad dreams, bad dreams go away. Good dreams, good dreams here to stay," Arizona sighs with a yawn, waving her hands between the boys bed. She stops, listening to their evened breathing, debating if they are asleep when a tiny voice calls out to her.
"You have to do it three times for it to work," mumbles Jack and she laughs briefly.
"Right. Bad dreams, bad dreams go away, good dreams good dreams here to stay. Bad dreams, bad dreams go away. Good dreams, good dreams here to stay. Goodnight boys. I love you," Arizona smiles at both of them and they both let out a yawn.
"Night, Mama!" They say in unison.
"Goodnight, Ace. I love you," Jack yawns.
"Goodnight, Jack. I love you," Ace mumbles. Standing in the doorway, she watches them, her heart swelling with love as their nightlight cascades shadows upon their beautiful faces. She listens for a moment before their even breathing fills the room, along with Ace's gentle snoring and she breathes out a sigh of relief. Finally, she smiles.
She hears the door to their bedroom click shut, and the muffled sounds of Calliope cursing—again. She's lucky the boys are fast asleep. Otherwise, that potty mouth of hers would land her in time out. Following the sounds, Arizona opens the door.
"You must want to stay up all night with our sugar hungry angelos, Calliope. Be quiet, please. The boys finally crashed." She whispers urgently.
Callie stands in her leather jacket, snow melting in her hair. She looks down at the sea of gifts surrounding her and then up at Arizona.
"Did you go crazy in there? These are all so ridiculously heavy that I can't even…"
"Calliope," Arizona pinches the bridge of her nose.
"Arizona," Callie answers, shrugging out of her jacket and t-shirt, rifling through their pajama drawer for a top to wear. When she selects the long sleeved thermal, she tugs it on, then drops her pants and slips into her yoga pants. Arizona pulls the Tupperware of wrapping paper out from underneath their bed. She made the mistake last year of having the same wrapping paper for all of the gifts, and Jack precociously wondered why Santa and mama had the same paper. But not this year. She bought extra and stowed it, most of it still in the wrapper.
While she unfolds one of the fresh rolls and readies the scissors, she lifts the biggest box up onto the bed, watching it indent the bed with its heft. The giant box belongs to Jack's animated brontosaurus toy, that's the size of a Saint Bernard puppy. He walks, talks, and spouts off facts about dinosaurs if the button on his toe is pushed. Jack told Arizona that he'd never ask for another thing in the world if Santa brought it for him. Well, that, and the other twelve things on his list.
Callie clicks through the television channels with an audible sigh, as Arizona tapes the ends of the wrapping paper together. Calliope is huffing, burying herself under the blankets of their bed, sliding on her reading glasses and grabbing her magazine. She sighs again. It's hard to take Callie seriously when she looks so adorable in those glasses and is trying to desperately to get the attention focused on her.
Arizona trims excess off of the paper, finagling the ends into two perfect triangles and taping them down in place. This box is the heaviest one she had, and she nearly needed a forklift just to get it out of the toy store. Luckily one of the sales' guys took pity on her and helped her team-lift it to the back of her Jeep. She slaps a label on the box and writes Jack's name, signing it Santa. With her left hand of course. The boys know her handwriting, especially now that she's helping them learn their letters.
"Can't you just come to bed? I'll wrap the gifts in the morning!" Callie says as she slaps down her magazine.
"Calliope," Arizona sighs, "I want the boys to be surprised… and you know… your wrapping…is…"
"What's wrong with my wrapping?" Callie chuckles in disgust. "Not up to par?"
"No, no. It's just…they know it. They know your wrapping because.. you always um, you know, you forget a little. Or, you, well… you…use too much paper…" Arizona knows she sounds nit-picky, but she actually likes wrapping these gifts. And the more they look completely normal, the less the boys have to wonder about the loopholes Santa and his work shop. They're too smart for their own good. Callie flops backwards with a grunt of displeasure. She flings her reading glasses onto the bedside table.
"It's just been such a long day. The boys got into everything, and fought, and ate all those cookies. I was looking forward to a night with you after. It's like you forget that I need some TLC too, some days. I just wanted you, on top of me, with your hands, and your mouth…" Arizona is biting her lip, trying to keep from exploding and waking the boys.
"My day wasn't exactly sunshine, you know. I've been shopping since nine this morning. I ate all three meals at the mall today. I had to drive to the toy store forty five miles away because they had one last DinoBuddy, and I knew that if Jack didn't get it, he'd be very jealous of Ace's DozerRobot, and there'd be a fight. So I get to the toy store, and I literally wrestle it from another woman's hands. I did that, Calliope. At a child's toy store. The woman called me a monster. A Monster! And you know what? I didn't care. I got the toy. I laughed in her face. I laughed like a sociopath. And I had to go to two of those specialty toy stores because those blocks that Jack and Ace want are not regular ticket items. And so, you know what, Calliope…I wanted to come home, wrap gifts, and pass out. I'm tired. I have to be at work at ten and I don't get to leave until midnight, and it's almost Christmas. And snowing. You know how that goes for Pediatrics. Sledding accidents!" Callie hates these tirades. She can never win, because Arizona has this uncanny knack for knowing just how to shut down an argument.
"I just miss you, is all. Okay? I miss you. And you come home and make a fuss over the kids, and it's like you forget that I'm here. Please, Arizona? This is me begging. I promise to make you forget about your long day. I jus- " But Callie doesn't get the chance to finish, mostly because of the adhesive bow Arizona has put on her mouth.
"I'm stopping you now before you say something silly, and I get upset, and you get upset, and I end up on the couch and the kids ask twelve thousand questions about why we're not in bed together." Arizona defends, trying so hard not to laugh at the look on Callie's face. "Just let me do this." The Latina looks scandalized and pries the sticky bow from her mouth, shaking her head. She rolls over with her magazine, sliding her glasses back onto her face, muttering to herself in Spanish.
"That's really not something you should be calling the mother of your children, Calliope," Arizona reminds, upon hearing a few choice words leave the Latina's mouth.
"No, you don't get to talk to me," Callie replies, holding her hand up.
Arizona continues wrapping presents, fighting the deep ache of fatigue that's crawling over her. She watches Callie slapping pages of the magazine out of the corner of her eye and dutifully wraps the remainder of the presents, switching up the paper now and then, and ornamenting them with bows and festive ribbons. Callie's snoring after twenty more minutes, her glasses pushed off her face in a look that reminds her of Jack, who is her clone in tiny human form.
She sighs and drags the gifts to the closet, one by one, realizing that the boys are going to have an extremely wonderful Christmas. Her back is going to hurt in the morning from how heavy all of this is. Callie has strewn clothes all over the bedroom, which Arizona balls up and tosses into the hamper. She pulls on a tank top and a pair of shorts before gently removing those glasses and the magazine from the pillow, smiling softly at her wife. Even through the squabbles, the woman still takes her breath away. After brushing her teeth, she checks the boys one more time, listening to their soft, even breathing. Finally, she is able to slide into bed, wrapping her arms around Callie from behind and pressing her lips against her neck. Callie stirs and mumbles something unintelligible.
Arizona's fingers breech the bottom of her shirt, slipping up her very warm body, grazing her breasts, and falling back down to her lower back, pulling her in. She sucks softly at the lobe, nipping at it with her teeth. A groan leaves Callie's mouth as her lower half grinds into Arizona's hips.
She's waking up—quickly.
"Arizona," Callie mumbles her name like a plea.
"I'm sorry about earlier, I really am, I'm tired. And you're right… I just should wanna come home and touch you. What's wrong with me?" She whispers in the woman's ear, licking the shell of it.
"Mmm," Callie's breath hitches in her throat when she feels Arizona's hands over her backside, dipping underneath the waistband of her pants. "I can't stay mad at y-you."
Who was the pushover now?
Arizona smiles wolfishly and disappears under the covers.
She's resolved to make sure Callie really isn't mad at her. And she'll reinforce that, multiple times tonight. All thoughts of going to bed early and getting enough sleep are out the window when she feels Callie's hand tangle in her curls along with that telling gasp of: