A/N: This long journey is at a close. I hope you all forgive me for the length of time it took me to post this. I appreciate all the feedback and love, you guys are all amazing! This summer and semester has been stressful at best, so thank you for your patience.
This chapter is dedicated to my Luxury girls, specifically Nemo, Fabi, Alexa, and Nikki. 3 love you guys
"What the hell, Callie!" Arizona snapped. Her voice was escalating and she didn't care. "You said you would be home!" It had been four weeks and Callie had been assuring them for as long that she would be home. Today was the day of her supposed return home.
"Arizona, I can't help what my orders are or when I get them."
"And what are we supposed to do?" Mark walked through the front door at this. Arizona was stalking through the living room. He looked up and saw Sofia sitting on the stairs, silent and crying. Arizona saw Mark and walked towards him.
"Who?" he mouthed. He was concerned.
"Callie," she mouthed back. Her brow furrowed. "Calliope, what am I supposed to tell your daughter? Your daughter who is over the moon that you're going to be home from her birthday. Your daughter, who has been dancing around crazy happy that you're going to be here."
Arizona's back was to Sofia, she didn't know the little girl was on the steps. Mark's eyes flew back and forth between them.
"Am I just supposed to be like "oh, sorry, Mamá's not coming anymore? It'll break her heart!" Arizona snapped. Mark's eyes flew to the stairs as pounding feet met Arizona's ears. She spun, catching Sofia's retreating form before flinching as a door slammed. "Great. Callie – no. Shut up! Let us know when you land, if you ever do."
Mark stared at Arizona, stunned. He knew how protective of Sofia she was, but this was Callie. It had been years since he'd heard Arizona talk to Callie like that. And he knew she would regret it after she calmed down and took care of Sofia. He pried the phone from her hand before she could hang up. Pushing her in the direction of Sofia, he practically yelled into the phone, "Callie. Callie, don't hang up. Callie. I know, I know. She does. She's worried about Sofia."
"Because I'm not? Because I don't hate this?" Callie snapped.
"Callie! I know. What happened?" Mark watched Arizona run up the stairs after their daughter.
"I don't know. I got my evaluation today. I have to stay at least another month. It's complete crap. I'm fine, but the doctors here don't agree and you don't just argue with the military and up and leave. It doesn't happen. I want nothing more than to be there with them. I want to kiss my wife. I want to hug my kid. Does she not know that?"
"She's scared, Cal. She almost lost you twice."
Callie was silent. Mark could hear the anger simmering over her end.
"She almost lost Sofia once. Her family keeps narrowly avoiding death while she sits in the gallery. She hasn't been able to do anything to save anyone. And the anxiety of it has been driving her mad. She's been thinking for a month that it was all over, that maybe her family was finally safe and she wouldn't have to worry anymore. And now she's being strung out again. She's like an addict who is going through withdrawal. Over and over again. And she's about to snap," Mark said softly.
"I'm scared, too."
"I know, Cal. But she's going to snap and she can't because of Sofia. Sofia has been getting picked on by kids at school about her ethnicity and Arizona doesn't really know how to handle it. She's needed you for months and she hasn't had you. So she's had an upset Sofia, who she's really thinking about putting in a private school next year. She's had it rough at work; Karev has been on her ass. She needs you, Cal. I'm not a substitute for you."
"I'm trying, Mark. I can't tell her the truth. I'll be home as soon as I can but they won't release me until I fully recover. I thought I'd be there by now," Callie paused. Mark was still watching the stairs, waiting for Arizona to come back down. "Mark?"
"Yeah," he said.
"Can you help me when I come home?"
"Sof?" Arizona knocked on the door softly. She heard the heartbreaking sniffles and pushed the door open. Sofia was holding Cherokee's neck, her face buried in the dog's scruff. Her anger subsided and Arizona took a few steps into the room, shutting the door behind her. Cherokee looked at her, but didn't move, standing solid for Sofia. Arizona couldn't have dreamed up a better dog. "Sof?"
"Yeah?" the little girl's voice was muffled in the dog's fur.
"You heard me and Mamá on the phone, huh?"
She saw a bob of her head.
"Can we talk about it?" Arizona sat on the other side of Cherokee and ran her hand down the dog's back.
"Mamá isn't coming back is she?" Tears began anew and Sofia buried her head back into Cherokee's neck.
Arizona sighed. "She is, baby. Just not today. Not right now."
"You were yelling," Sofia said.
Arizona bit her lip. She hated fighting with Callie in general, especially not in front of her daughter. "I was frustrated." It was time for an admonition. "I'm scared."
Sofia's head shot up. "Why Mommy?"
Cherokee moved away and Sofia came over and sat in Arizona's lap. "Well, do you remember the stories we told you about when you were a baby?"
"Mamá and I got in an accident," Sofia nodded. She played with Arizona's fingers, spinning the silver wedding band around her finger.
"That's right. And I almost lost both of you. You almost died as a baby. Mamá almost died because she got really hurt," Arizona took a breath. "And I couldn't do anything about it. I had to sit there and watch my two beautiful girls struggle to stay alive. And now Mamá is far away, and I can't help her. I just want to make sure Mamá is safe and that you are safe."
"But you yelled at her?" Sofia looked up.
"I was just scared that I was going to lose her, baby. That I am going to lose her," Arizona felt the tears welling in her eyes as she stared down at her daughter. "Just like I don't want anything to happen to you, I don't want anything to happen to your Mamá."
Sofia leaned into Arizona's chest and they rocked back and forth together. "Did she cry?"
"When you yelled at her? It made me cry." Sofia said her words softly, carefully.
Arizona kissed the top of Sofia's head. "Yeah, I think she did. She was yelling too."
"Oh. Is Daddy talking to her?"
Arizona stopped and looked up at the dog, as if Cherokee knew the answer. "I'm not sure. Do you want to go find out?"
Sofia wiped an arm across her eyes. "Yes."
The hospital was surprisingly quiet and for that much she was grateful. Arizona had managed yet another wild birthday party on her own. Sofia was six, and Arizona was exhausted. No one told her that kids involved raucous birthday parties. She'd always been so mellow as a child, whereas Sofia had that Latina fire that made her want to go to the loudest place a six year old could want to go, Chucky Cheese. Between the place itself and the twenty kids Sofia had invited along, Arizona figured her headache would last well into Sofia's next birthday. Karev walked up to her cautiously and held out a cup of coffee. "Truce?"
She looked at him tiredly, they had been fighting every day for the past month and a half it felt like. "Truce," she took the coffee gratefully. "I'm sorry I've been a bitch lately."
"I haven't made it any easier on you," he admitted. "I'm sorry about Torres."
"Thanks," she sighed. Just the aroma was perking her up a bit. "I just really wish we knew when she was coming back."
"Yeah, I can understand that. Yang is about to drive us crazy," he chuckled. "But I have a question, about this case. This kid, something just isn't adding up."
Arizona smiled before looking at the file. She and Karev usually worked so well together, and this was a nice change of pace from the hostility that had been permeating her peds unit lately. It also helped get her mind off of her headache. She had loved every minute of Sofia's birthday, but that kid could get loud and bossy. And the water works before the party had started hadn't helped Arizona's mood either. Mark had been called into emergency surgery and she had been forced to take all twenty one kids by herself. Luckily, Lexie had showed up an hour into it and taken some of the brunt off of Arizona's shoulders. But she was still exhausted.
"Karev!" Mark called. Arizona groaned and hoped that he wouldn't start another fight.
"I need to borrow Dr. Robbins."
"Mark, I'm working. What's up?" Arizona asked. She let the exhaustion seep into her tone so that he knew not to mess with her right now.
"Dr. Karev. I need you to take Dr. Robbins' cases for the next," he looked at his watch, "for the rest of the day."
"Mark," Arizona protested.
He winked. "Dr. Robbins' has had a terrible week. And yesterday she catered to twenty-one screaming six year olds, by herself."
"Mark," Arizona warned.
"Go with him, Robbins," Alex said. "You need a break."
Arizona growled at both of them before stalking down the hall to her office to change out of her scrubs. Mark called after her that he would meet her in the lobby in ten minutes and she better be there or she'd be in big trouble. It was like he was talking to Sofia or something. She tugged her top over her head and pulled the cream top she'd worn in that morning on. Jeans replaced her dark blue scrub pants. She pulled on the college sweatshirt she'd left in there for cases like this and headed down to meet Mark in the lobby. Having no idea where he was taking her, she didn't really care how she was dressed.
He was in jeans and one of those pull-overs he always wore. She had to smile to herself, never in a million years had she thought that she would be able to tell you the type of clothing that Mark Sloan wore. But six years with a daughter together and a year of relying on hum while Callie was away, and she could probably buy him an entire wardrobe better than Lexie could. She wasn't shy or nervous anymore around him, another thing she was grateful for. Trying hard to smile, she walked up to where he was saying goodbye to his girlfriend and took his outstretched arm after he kissed Lexie goodbye. "Ready to go?"
"I have no idea where we are going, but sure," Arizona said, walking beside him. He'd learned to shorten his stride so that her shorter legs could keep up with his longer ones. Walking together to and from work had been a normal occurrence for them, but since Arizona had moved they hadn't really had a chance to talk about anything and she felt like she'd been estranged from her husband.
"You'll like it. It's this little deli I found the other day when I was out with Sofia. Tucked away, nice and quiet," he smiled down at her.
She'd gotten used to his Cheshire cat grin but she still wasn't completely comfortable with it. "You're up to something."
"I'm offended, Robbins," he acted as though she had shot through his pride. They climbed into his sporty Audi and he pulled out of the parking lot smoothly. "Your daughter is excited that school is over."
"Your daughter," Arizona shot back, "is slowly realizing that summer means three months in hospital day care."
"Aww, she loves it there. That kid loves being in the hospital," Mark said. "She's like Meredith when she was little."
"Oh God, please don't say that," Arizona said. "I do not want my child turning out to be like Meredith Grey."
"Mer isn't a bad person," Mark said, eyes on the road as they came to a stop at a light. "She's just…different. I don't know how to explain her."
"I'm well aware, and I don't want Sofia turning out like that. I want our daughter to be stable, not dark and twisty."
"Arizona, I don't think Sof could be dark and twisty with you as her mother," Mark said.
Arizona smiled softly and turned to look out the window. She remembered before Sofia was born, the argument that she and Mark had gotten into when he'd told her that she was nothing. The many fights that Callie had been forced to step into because of the way Mark treated her and her role as Sofia's mother. It had been hell for her then. No one saw how much she loved Sofia, they just threw her past words back into her face without realizing that people change. "There was a time when you didn't think I should be her mother at all."
"And now look where we are," Mark said. He didn't like to dwell on the terrible things that he had said to Arizona in the past. They drove in silence for the rest of the trip, only a few more minutes, until Mark pulled into an open parking lot just off of the street. It looked safe enough here. Parts of the city still scared Arizona, she would readily admit. There were times when she didn't feel safe with Sofia, unless Callie or Mark was there with her. But that could also just be her fear of anything happening to her daughter.
She got out and shut the door, waiting for directions from Mark as to which way they were going to be traveling. He nodded to their right and they quickly crossed the parking lot and street in the brisk air. It was mid-June, but for some reason the temperature had dropped low today and everyone who was out walking around had on a jacket or sweatshirt. Mark pulled out his phone and Arizona walked him send off a quick text. When he looked up he shrugged, "Avery. Boy has more questions than I know what to do with."
"Sounds like Karev," she laughed. "Sometimes I forget that they aren't residents anymore."
They laughed and she let her eyes wander over the brick buildings briefly before noting the turn up ahead. Someone walked out from around the corner and she glanced over them, noting the military fatigues and a pang of guilt and loneliness shot through her heart. She hadn't talked to Callie since that day they fought. She'd told Callie to shut up; she couldn't believe she had talked to her that way. Arizona hadn't noticed Mark stop a few steps back. The soldier had stopped before her, and Arizona took a harder look. It was a woman and Arizona felt her breath catch briefly before she realized that she was too skinny. She tried to shake away visions of Callie but the soldier turned to look at her, pulling off her fatigue hat to reveal cropped black hair that had grown out since the last time she'd seen it. The smile that had previously been on her face faded as she stared in awe.
Mark came up behind her, "I told you, you wanted this." He put a hand at the small of her back and pushed her forward.
Callie looked nervous and Arizona couldn't blame her. She walked forwards, not believing the fact that Callie was standing directly in front of her. This was nothing like when she had come home for Christmas. This was different. Entirely, and Arizona wanted nothing more than to wrap Callie up in her arms and say I'm sorry over and over again.
But Callie spoke first, "I landed."
Laughing in spite of herself, Arizona pulled Callie into her arms. Callie hugged her wife. Arizona closed her eyes and deeply breathed in the smell that was purely Callie, the smell that had been haunting her ever since they moved into the new house. She pressed her lips to Callie's neck and then pulled back far enough to capture Callie's lips. Callie kissed her back, fiercely. "What happened to you?"
"I told you we got caught," Callie said, but she looked away. "Arizona, I couldn't come back because I was too weak. They wouldn't let me out of the hospital. We were stuck in the desert for days after an ambush. I'm sorry."
Guilt and shame lit up Arizona's nerves and she pulled Callie back into her. "You just didn't want me to worry. You knew I would freak out. Don't be sorry, I'm the one who is sorry."
They were both crying. Arizona reached up to wipe Callie's tears away as Callie went to do the same for her. Instead, they clasped their hands together and smiled through the tears.
"I've regretted the way I talked to you every day since it happened. I'm so sorry, Callie. I was so scared I was going to lose you."
"Not even gunfire and the desert could make you lose me, Arizona," Callie whispered into her ear. "I love you far too much to make you go through that pain."
"I can't believe you're home. It's been like you're haunting me, all this time. Like if I turned around you would be there. I got so used to you not being there, Calliope. But it's never felt like home," Arizona cried into Callie's shoulder. "I'm not home if I'm not with you. I've been so lost without you."
Callie held Arizona close as she sobbed. "I'm here now. You're home now."