Christmas Closets: Secret Santa fic for a_windsor at LJ
Summary: a_windsor provided an AWESOME prompt and I tried to hit most of the high points. I really hope I did this story justice. Canon up to the episode with Mama O'Malley.
Prompt: "I'd love to see Arizona interact more with Mama O'Malley, and maybe get Sofia in on the action, too. Some post-O'Malley meeting talks between Arizona and Callie, where they discuss mothers (Callie's, Arizona's, George's), dead ex-husbands, and/or how open they are about their marriage would also be greatly appreciated."
A/N: I know, I'm late! a_windsor graciously forgave me and then I was still later than I promised. Terrible. My mother's lack of internet over the holidays is mostly to blame, but I'll admit obsessive tweaking caused the latest delay. a_windsor writes babyfic so perfectly, I didn't want to crack under the pressure! I'm hoping the fluff will help justify the delay.
Merry, merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
"You paged, Doctor Torres?"
Callie rolled her eyes at the intern she was chatting with and turned towards the sound of her name. "Seriously?" She asked her wife.
Arizona, exhausted at the end of a brutal overnight shift, smiled innocently. "What?"
"Three weeks, Arizona. Time's up."
"Nope," the blonde clucked unsympathetically. "I checked the lesbian spouses' handbook. Rule 22 handles proper introductions to deceased ex-husbands' mothers. I get another week of punishment."
Callie waved off the intern and shook her head at her wife. "That's in the handbook, huh?"
"Yep. A full month. Plus, I'm allowed to tack on another two weeks if you call me your girlfriend to the mailman again."
"That was an accident!" Callie moaned, not for the first time. "You were my girlfriend a lot longer than you've been my wife! Besides, Mick knows we're married."
"Uh huh," Arizona scoffed but her eyes were bright with humor. "Getting claustrophobic in your closet, Callie?"
"Oh, shut up. I didn't hear any complaints about closets when you were up against the supply shelf last week." She made sure her voice carried to the nurses' station. It would probably embarrass her wife but…
Closet my ass.
Turning to walk towards the station, and the chart she needed, she was rewarded when Arizona hissed, "Calliope!"
Callie anticipated Arizona's retaliation, expecting a hard poke to her ribs or maybe a firm pinch at her side. The not-so-surprise attack may still have succeeded—Heelies are remarkably quick—but her would-be assailant let out an anxious squeak for help.
Turning in time, barely, to catch her wife before she barreled them both to the ground, Callie steadied the surgeon with familiar ease and frowned down at her shoes. "You have hands insured for several million dollars, Arizona."
"So?" She huffed, smacking Callie's supportive arms away. Retaliation prevails.
"So, Lloyd's probably doesn't cover Heely accidents."
"I never fall," Arizona defended but she also scowled at her shiny new HX2's. They were a Christmas gift from the Pediatric nurses and she loved each one of the pink and purple sparkles. Still, she whined, "Two wheels should be easier than one! These stupid shoes don't stop when they are supposed to."
"Yes," Callie nodded solemnly. "It's clearly the shoes' fault."
"It is," Arizona seconded, crossing her arms over her chest and daring Callie to disagree.
"You love me."
"I must," the Latina agreed, smiling at Nurse Janeway who passed over her patient's chart. "So much I'll forgive you for the closet crack."
"And I'll forgive you for," Arizona lowered her voice to a whisper, "the supply shelf announcement."
"Deal." Flipping open her chart, Callie continued, "I paged to see if you could consult on a case. Twelve year old with an ugly football injury. Displaced rib fractures, mainly. I can handle the bones but I looked at these x-rays and I'm worried about internal damage. It'd be nice to have a peds expert in the room, in case."
"Good thing you know one." Arizona sidled close to Callie, unconsciously holding on to her lab coat, and lifted the pictures to the light. "Hmm," she mused. "You're talking about here?" She pointed to the film.
"Yeah. I won't know till I'm inside if that's a small tear."
"It could be," Arizona considered. "When are you going in?"
"As soon as possible. I checked the board; you're free till end of shift. Karev can handle rounds, right?"
Arizona nodded. "He can. I was going to make him anyway. Rounds build character."
"God knows he needs it."
"True." Arizona lifted the x-rays to the light once more. "Crap."
Arizona shrugged sheepishly and passed Callie the film. "I sort of have plans."
"Plans?" Callie squinted, something she did when she was thinking. "Plans to do what?"
"The daycare is caroling in Peds this afternoon. Mark and I were going to try to catch them. I haven't seen her yet today."
Remembering, Callie shook her head. Even if she did love that Arizona and Mark were moving past their jealousies, that didn't mean Arizona had to know how it softened her. "Mija'll probably sleep through the whole thing," she pointed out helpfully. "And she can't sing."
Arizona's answering gasp was offended. "Calliope! You've heard her ho, ho, ho!"
Callie couldn't help herself. She leaned forward to press a smacking kiss against Arizona's lips. "You're right. Our daughter is a musical genius. Not a normal infant with a mildly creepy giggle."
"Exactly. And watch—Mark's schedule will be completely free and he'll be there in the front row. Probably wearing that stupid Santa hat that always makes Sofia laugh. She will do something adorably awesome and we'll miss it. Plastics suck."
Ok. Not entirely past the jealousy yet.
Because agreement was always the safest course, Callie nodded and moved to walk with Arizona towards the locker rooms. "They do. At least tonight you can tell Sof all about the little boy who got new bones for Christmas."
"Whatever," Arizona mumbled. She tossed her new shoes into her locker with an uncharacteristically careless thump.
Midway through tugging off her own sweater to change into scrubs, Callie realized her wife was moving precariously close to a full-blown pout. She shifted on the bench and pressed her front against Arizona's back, wrapping bare arms around her middle. She dropped her chin on Arizona's shoulder and held her quietly until the blonde sighed.
"I'm being ridiculous. I know."
"You're sweet," Callie countered.
"And silly." She smiled when she felt Callie's kiss below her ear. "I hate missing things."
"So do I."
Arizona turned in Callie's arms and kissed her soundly. "I know. You should have had an ugly baby. I think this would be easier if she weren't so cute."
Callie wisely didn't mention their daughter's favorable genes. Instead, she kissed Arizona again, letting the moment rise to the border of inappropriate until she felt Arizona's nails lightly scoring her sides.
By the time her wife pulled back, Arizona was thoroughly and satisfyingly distracted. Glancing down at Callie's simple red bra, she smirked. "You should probably put on some clothes."
"I guess there really is a first time for everything," Callie snickered but she slipped into her scrub top. She tugged Arizona from the bench and ignored the smack against her backside. "It's going to take me about half an hour to do pre-op. I don't need you there for the first cut. Why don't you go give baby girl a pep talk before her big debut?"
Arizona's eyes lit up instantly. "You're sure?"
"I'm sure," Callie answered but Arizona was already halfway to the door. Laughing, Callie called out to her back, "Give her a kiss from Mami."
Callie had finished the first cut to Jonah Davis' abdomen before Arizona stepped into the OR.
Finishing up the tie on her scrub cap, the blonde asked, "Everything ok?"
"Good so far," Callie answered. She glanced over once to smile at her wife before turning back to her work. "No tears yet but I'm missing about a centimeter of bone. I'll need your help with that."
"Too much flesh to search through?" Arizona teased.
Unoffended, Callie nodded, "Yep."
Arizona shivered slightly when Callie flipped on the bone saw. Something about Dr. Torres wielding that particular tool turned Arizona on every time. But she dampened her arousal quickly as she peered inside the boy's purpling chest. "This happened playing football?"
"Yeah," Callie agreed, looking at Arizona again briefly. Shared horror. "Quarterback. Side to side helmet hits got under the pads."
"Kids are scary."
"Says the pediatrician."
"Says the mom," Arizona countered, keeping Callie's gaze for another moment before taking the spreader Callie's scrub nurse held.
Continuing her work, Callie asked, "How was mi mija?"
The question was like magic. Arizona brightened instantly. "She's good. You dressed her in the elf onesie and the candy cane tights!"
"I did. "
"She's pretty freakin' sweet."
"It's her last day in daycare before Christmas," Callie said, looking casually over her shoulder towards a machine that beeped. "Seemed like the thing to do."
"It was perfect. I can't believe I'm about to have five days off. Five whole days." Unlike Callie, Arizona's Christmas holiday conveniently coincided with the end of a 4 day shift, with overnights. The result was nearly a full week off. It would be another three days (Christmas Eve and Christmas) before Callie could join the pajama party Arizona and Sofia had planned.
"Don't be. It means I'm the one who has to finish up the last minute Christmas shopping. Do you know how many people will be in the mall?"
"I told you to order everything online."
"That's cheating," Arizona insisted, as usual. "And it takes all the fun out of Christmas."
"Then don't complain if Macy's refuses to let you wear your snowflake pajama pants in the store."
"Santa is watching, you know, and I don't think he likes your tone. Besides," she continued over Callie and the anesthesiologist's laugh, "I don't need to go to Macy's."
"Actually," Callie drew out the word, wincing at the intern who leaned over to suction.
Arizona narrowed her eyes. "Here we go."
"I've been meaning to talk to you about that."
"Well. I'm here. You're here. We're both in the same place. That doesn't happen often lately. Spill."
Callie kept her eyes trained on the body below her. Arizona wouldn't have noticed her nerves except for the way she nibbled on her bottom lip.
"Calliope," Arizona urged when the Latina remained silent, unconcerned about the audience. It wouldn't be anything they hadn't heard before, she was sure. And maybe there was a small part of her that appreciated these kinds of public affirmations of their relationship still. She wasn't without her own insecurities.
"I know we talked about doing dinner on Christmas Eve. Something simple at the house, just the two of us with Sofia. Before all the hoopla on Christmas Day and Mark, Bailey, Tuck and the rest."
"You said 'hoopla,'" Arizona pointed out. Calliope always made fun of her for that word. "But continue?"
"I was hoping… more like I was wondering. How would you feel about inviting Mama—ah, Loui—shit. Mrs.O'MalleyfordinneronChristmasEve?"
"You want to invite Louise O'Malley on Christmas Eve?" Between Callie's stuttering and rambling, Arizona needed the clarification. "And that means I have to go to Macy's?"
"There's a perfume they sell that she likes. Used to like," Callie muttered. She peeked up at her wife between her lashes. Seeing no irritation on her face, Callie cleared her throat and tried again. "I called her last week. To check on her and…you know. Say hi. Or whatever. Anyway. She's going to be by herself on Christmas Eve. She said Ronny and Jerry'll be by on Christmas but they can't make it early. I remembered that George loved Christmas Eve. He used to talk about how they'd go to mass in the afternoon and have a nice dinner that night. I think—well. It was one of the few days with his family that he really liked. And now… I hate that she'll be alone, Arizona."
Arizona's eyes softened. It might not be how she envisioned spending her first Christmas Eve with her little family but she adored this woman's heart. Before she could respond, however, Callie hurried on.
"She's dying to meet Sofia. And you! Of course, you, too," Callie assured her quickly, a little embarrassed.
"She wants to meet Dr. Robbins, huh?" Arizona teased to lighten the moment.
"Stop," Callie groaned. "She wants to meet you. I want you to meet her. I thought, if you didn't mind, we could do all of that on Christmas Eve?"
"I—" Arizona began but a series of loud beeps interrupted her.
"Dammit. That's his heart."
"You think the bone fragment moved?" Callie asked, already starting manual CPR.
"Most likely," Arizona agreed. "Scoot over."
They didn't get to talk again until the surgery was complete. Luckily Arizona was able to locate and remove the missing fragment and Jonah would be back playing football by next season.
They were washing up in the locker room, Arizona changing to go home, before Callie brought up the idea again. "So. Christmas Eve."
Arizona turned to her wife, grateful after all that they no longer had an audience. She snagged one of Callie's hands and answered, "Calliope. Invite her. I think that would be wonderful."
"Yeah?" Callie expelled the word on a rush of breath.
"Yes," Arizona nodded firmly. "Of course. Why were you nervous about asking?"
"We said Christmas Eve would be the three of us and…" Callie tugged on one of Arizona's curls, watching it bounce back into place. Their daughter liked to do the same thing. "I'm not sure, honestly." She shrugged and squeezed Arizona's hand. "Ex mother-in-law. Not exactly Merry Christmas company."
"I will be spending Christmas morning with your former friend-with-benefits. With whom we share a child."
Callie cringed and closed her eyes. "Exactly my point, Arizona. It seems, I don't know, unfair to ask you to bring another part of my past into our lives."
"No, honey, you misunderstand me. That wasn't a complaint. Only…I'm used to it. And George was long before me." She fingered the ring on Callie's finger, the ring she insisted they both wear. "You're mine. I know that. Your past doesn't change that."
Callie barked out a humorless laugh as she pulled the blonde into a hard hug. "Thank you. I sort of hate that you are 'used to it' but thank you. You know, if at some point you wanted to bring home some old med school girlfriend, I'd—"
Arizona leaned back and lifted an eyebrow at her wife. "You'd what, exactly?"
"Yeah, you're right," Callie laughed again, "I'd hate her. Never do that."
"Didn't say a word."
Callie yanked her forward by her hips. "You don't say a word pretty loudly," she muttered before bending down to bite Arizona's lip.
They were still giggling through the kiss when Mark walked in.
"Yo, Robbins," he called. They didn't pull apart immediately and Mark was so accustomed to their now-open affection that he barely noticed. Not even a tug of his old awareness.
Arizona remembered why Mark was there and turned in Callie's arms, keeping their hands linked. "Did you do it?"
Mark smiled smugly and waved his phone in the air. "Got the whole thing," he nodded.
"What thing?" Callie asked before smacking her forehead with her palm. "Wait. You taped the caroling?"
"I told him to," Arizona said, leaving her wife's arms to stand by Mark. "They gave her a bell to ring, Calliope! Let's see it."
"You two are crazy," Callie laughed, but she moved to Mark's opposite side to watch.
Mark grinned and hit play. "The bell didn't make it. Apparently she couldn't keep it out of her mouth. But you are going to love this, Blondie."
The girls appropriately ohhed and ahhed over Sofia as she sat in a stroller and stared, wide-eyed, at the commotion surrounding her.
"She's being so good," Arizona exclaimed.
"Wait," Mark insisted, turning up the volume.
As if on cue, Sofia finally opened her mouth. Leaning close to the phone, and with the volume turned up all the way, her moms could hear her babble, "Mamamamamamamama."
Over and over again she repeated the phrase, "Mamama." They had certainly heard the noise before. 'Ma' was Sofia's favorite syllable. In truth, it was her only syllable, besides the bizarre Santa-esque belly laugh. But it delighted them nonetheless.
"Aw," she sighed, leaning against Mark. "She's singing for her Mama."
"Listen," Mark instructed as he turned closer to Arizona and rewound the video. "She's almost in tune."
Three days later, Arizona was slipping into a pair of flats when Callie hurried into the bedroom.
"Sorry," she muttered, surging towards the bathroom. "Sorry."
Arizona waited until she heard the shower running to follow her wife. She shook her head at the trail of clothes leading to the tub and bent down to toss them in the hamper. "What happened?" She asked, aware the question sounded accusing.
"Car accident," Callie answered. "I'm sorry," she said again.
"Was Dr. Rollins late?"
Callie sighed and poked her head out the curtain. "No, Arizona. He was there. You know how it goes."
She did. That didn't seem to matter. "It's Christmas Eve, Calliope. And your day off. And your guest. You said you'd only be thirty minutes."
"I know," Callie ducked back under the spray but didn't complain about Arizona pulling the curtain back a few inches. "It was bad, baby. Three cars, six injured. I couldn't leave."
Arizona's shoulders sagged. "Any kids?" She relented.
Callie smiled to the ceiling. "No. Twenty year old skidded out, caused the whole thing. Two in their sixties and a woman, thirty-two, with two broken legs and a shattered pelvis. I couldn'tleave," she insisted again.
"Ok." Arizona nodded once. "Get dressed. Louise'll be here soon."
Callie frowned as she watched her wife walk away and sped through her shower. She was still dripping when she walked into the living room looking for her wife.
"You need to get dressed, Calliope. You're getting water all over the floor."
Callie snagged her wife's wrist before the blonde bent to drop a dishtowel over the water. "You need to tell me what's wrong. You're never bitchy about work."
Arizona yanked unsuccessfully at her wrist. "I didn't realize I was being bitchy," she said. Her voice was coated with ice.
"Arizona," Callie murmured, stepping close and cupping a hand over the blonde's cheek. "Talk to me."
Arizona turned her face into Callie's palm and inhaled. She smelled like soap and Calliope. Giving in, Arizona said, "Sofia was fussy all day. She's running a low grade fever and probably teething but that doesn't make it easier to listen to her cry."
"No, it doesn't," Callie agreed, pulling Arizona close to hold her despite the wet towel. "Where is she now?"
"Napping. Finally. Her afternoon nap wasn't much of a success."
"Ok. Good." Tipping back Arizona's head with a finger beneath her chin, Callie asked, "What else?"
Arizona closed her eyes. "I'm nervous," she admitted.
"Oh," Callie frowned. "Oh," she said again, dumbly. How had she missed this?
Arizona moved to escape her hold. "Yes. Oh."
"No, honey, wait," Callie pulled her back in. "I thought… Why didn't you say anything? I thought you were ok with this."
"I'm fine," Arizona threw up her hands. "I mean, I'm not fine. But we've been so busy, when should I have said anything? When could I?"
She pressed on when Callie only nodded. "I was going to bring it up today but…"
"But I got stuck at work."
"Yes," Arizona agreed. "And now you have to get ready or she'll be here and you'll be naked. Probably not the best way to introduce your ex mother-in-law to your new lesbian wife."
"Ok. Come with me," Callie guided her towards the bedroom. "Sit," she pointed at the bed. "And talk," she ordered. "I'll dress."
"Ugh." Arizona moaned, shoving her hair back with a frustrated jerk.
"Talk," Callie repeated.
"Stop telling me to talk!"
Callie turned with a pair of jeans in her hand and said softly, "Arizona."
"Fine," Arizona sighed. She watched Callie through the dressing mirror for a few minutes before she began. "I know I said that you didn't have to—that I didn't care what you told Louise about me. I meant it. Mean it, I guess. But now she's coming to our home, Calliope. Our home. Am I supposed to act like your friend?"
"Honey—" Callie began but Arizona waved her off.
"I mean, I get it. I don't…I don't want to repeat what happened with your mom. That would completely ruin Christmas," she mused, almost to herself. "But I won't sit in my own home with my wife and my daughter and pretend to be…to be Dr. Robbins," she concluded with a half smile.
Fully dressed, Callie decided to forgo the blow dryer in favor of talking to her wife. Stepping over to the bed, she straddled the blonde's lap and cupped both hands around her face. Her kiss was long and wet and sweet.
She didn't pull back until she felt Arizona soften beneath her. When she did, she kept her hands around the blonde's face and held her gaze. "I told you Louise is fine with this. With us."
"Your mom said that, too, for a little while. It was a lie."
"Louise is not my mother," Callie declared, swiping her thumb along Arizona's bottom lip and pressing it closed as she tried to talk. "And even if she is, even if she changes her mind or is…" Callie trailed off and shook her head. "I don't know. Uncomfortable. It won't matter."
She nudged Arizona's chin because the blonde's eyes drifted closed again. "It won't matter," she repeated. "You are my wife. You and Sofia, you're my family. That's the proudest thing I've ever said in my life. I'm sorry, so sorry, that I made you doubt that. Even for a second."
"You didn't." Arizona dropped her forehead against Callie's. "At the time, you didn't. I thought it was funny, then. But not in my home," she demanded again.
Callie leaned back to look Arizona in the eyes. "You keep saying that. Arizona, do you think I'm different—we're different—outside of this house?"
Arizona blinked rapidly, staving off the tears that burned behind her eyes at the simple question. They weren't warranted but that never seemed to matter.
Callie knew her wife well and she saw the tears coat her eyes, causing the blue to shine brightly. "Oh, baby," she sighed.
Arizona shook her head and rolled her eyes backwards, forcing the tears back again.
"It's fine, Calliope."
"No, it's not," Callie returned forcefully. She cleared her throat and considered her words because these were important. "Nothing about you embarrasses me, shames me. Nothing. Not at work, not at the grocery store, not in front of Mick the mailman, not in front of my own mother. In our darkest, darkest moments, Arizona, I was never anything but awed by you. I'm so proud that you love me."
Arizona buried her hands in Callie's hair and pulled the Latina into her kiss. Mumbling, "I do love you," she didn't pull away from the embrace but spoke the words against Callie's lips. Clinging still, she whispered, "It's Christmas Eve."
Callie smiled and kissed her again. "It is," she agreed as she leaned back. "Our baby's first. You get to play Santa Claus tonight."
Callie knew exactly how excited Arizona was about that.
"Did you see Sofia and I made cookies?" Arizona smiled. Her first super magic smile of the night.
"You and Sofia, huh? I'm sure she was big a help."
"She was. She was totally into it, even though she was feeling sick and annoyed about it."
"Mmmhmm." They both glanced towards the hallway when the doorbell rang. Shifting Arizona's hair back from her shoulders and watching it slip through her fingers Callie asked, "You ready for this?"
"I am. Sorry about the freak out."
"You're entitled," Callie admitted honestly, moving through the house to answer the door. "But I'm pretty sure it was my turn to be crazy."
"Put it on my tab," Arizona suggested.
She reached for the door, but Callie tugged her back and linked their fingers purposefully together. She lifted their joined hands to her lips and kissed Arizona's knuckles once before whispering, "Now we're ready."
Dinner was pleasant, but deliberately casual; a lot of small talk, but all of it friendly and comfortable. They were settling in the living room for after dinner drinks before they heard from Sofia.
Callie perked immediately at the sound of the baby's cries. "Looks like the star of the show is ready to make her big entrance."
Arizona stopped mid-stride to the kitchen, empty wine glasses in hand, and glanced towards the nursery. "Do you want me—"
"No," Callie shook her head and rose off the couch. "Let me. You're refilling the wine. Besides," she smiled at Louise, "I haven't seen her much today. I'm going to sneak in a few snuggles before you steal her away."
"Good idea," Louise laughed.
"She'll probably need to be changed," Callie called over her shoulder. "I'll only be a minute."
"Well." Arizona looked at Louise and smiled. She waved the empty wine glasses. "If you don't mind me leaving you alone for a minute, I'll go get that wine."
"Go," Louise shooed her. "That wine's too good not to have a second glass."
Arizona grinned. "Yes ma'am."
Callie still wasn't back when Arizona returned to living room a minute later. Louise had left her spot on the couch and now stood near the bookshelves, staring at the picture in her hand.
Arizona approached her quietly and passed her the wine without comment. The picture Louise held was of George's original intern class, plus Callie peeking up from behind Karev.
Louise ran her finger across George's face, smiling into the camera with an arm slung around Meredith's waist, before placing the picture back on the shelf. "She has a picture of him," Louise's voice trembled. "After…everything, she keeps a picture of him in her home."
"She loved him." It was said without judgment or hesitation. Without jealousy.
Louise nodded and smiled gratefully at Arizona. "She did," Louise agreed, before turning back to the shelves and pointing to another picture. "But not like she loves you."
The picture she pointed to now was of Callie and Arizona. It was taken the night of their wedding but they were both in pajamas, Sofia in Callie's arms and cuddled between them. Mark took it when they snuck over to his place after the wedding, desperate for some Sofia time. Neither noticed that he snapped the shot; they only had eyes for their family.
Arizona didn't try to hide her smile at the memory.
Louise noticed and grinned. "And not like you love her."
"I do," Arizona concurred. "I do love her."
"I know. I can tell. You're beautiful. Both of you."
Arizona resisted the urge to hunch her shoulders. She straightened them instead and accepted the compliment. "Thank you, ma'am."
"Ma'am," Louise repeated and moved back to her seat. "So polite!"
Now Arizona's shoulders lifted unbidden. "Ah. Thank you," she said again. "But please, don't say that around Callie. She likes to make fun of my manners."
Louise's laugh reverberated around the living room. "Oh," she breathlessly announced, a hand to her chest, "I bet my Georgie loved you."
"I…I didn't know him that well, actually," Arizona admitted. "I wish I did."
"He would have loved you," Louise declared. "I think he would have loved this," she added. Her gesture encompassed their entire home. "He may not have always done the right thing by Callie, but my Georgie was a good man. A family man. I hope you know he never meant to hurt her. Even though I know he did."
Arizona walked behind the couch and plucked another picture off the sofa table. She settled beside the woman, closer than she'd been all night, and handed the photo to Louise. Keeping her voice quiet, she said, "That's Timothy. Tim. My brother." She sucked in a quick breath and glanced at the picture. Tim, at twenty-two. Fresh from the academy and spit and polish in his Marine dress blues.
"I may not have known George well," Arizona continued when she could. "But believe me when I say, I know the kind of man who chooses to serve his country. I know, exactly, the kind of man who chooses to step in front when someone else is in danger. You don't ever have to defend your son to me."
Louise's sob was swift and gut wrenching. Waving her hand in the air fiercely, she apologized even as tears slipped down her cheeks. Arizona felt her own tears singe behind her eyes for the second time that night, this time in united sympathy.
"I'm sorry," Louise mumbled again. "It's the holidays. I miss him so much around the holidays."
"Don't apologize," Arizona insisted.
Attempting to gather herself, Louise gestured with the picture. "He's gone?" She asked. Her voice still shuddered. "Your brother, he's gone?"
"He-He is. Almost five years," Arizona replied. She leaned over the couch to put the picture back where it belonged. "Christmas is still tough for me, too."
Callie chose that moment to return, a sleepy Sofia curled on her chest and blinking owlishly against the bright lights of the living room. Taking one glance at the red, tear-streaked faces of both women, Callie paused mid-step. "Um. Everything ok here?" She asked tentatively, searching Arizona's face for a clue.
"Everything's fine," Arizona announced firmly. She rose from the couch and walked towards Callie. "Is she still running a fever? Let me check." Arizona ran the back of her palm against Sofia's cheek and lowered her voice to a whisper. "It's fine. She misses George."
"Oh," Callie nodded, still not completely convinced but choosing to trust Arizona. They would talk about it later. "Ok."
Arizona raised her voice to coo at her daughter. "And you are fine, too, baby girl. No more icky fever."
"Mamamama," Sofia mumbled pitifully, gazing up at the sound of her Mama's voice. Arizona nuzzled her face against the baby's neck and breathed in her scent. That never failed to clear her head.
Grateful the girls had given her time to regain her composure, Louise piped up from the sofa. "Stop hogging that beautiful baby and bring her here."
Callie sat down beside her and Louise once again pressed a hand against her chest. "Callie! She is precious. Perfect."
"She is perfect," Callie laughed.
"Not today, she wasn't," Arizona sighed, even as she smiled at her daughter.
"Oh, stop," Louise shushed her. "She's a little bundle of perfect and you know it. Will she let me hold her?" She asked. Her hands itched to grab for the baby.
"Generally," Callie nodded, passing Sofia over. The baby whimpered at the move but settled down when her Mami stayed close. Staring at Louise, Sofia grabbed at her necklace and tugged. She beamed a one-tooth smile when no one pulled the chain out of her chubby fist. Louise had made a friend for life.
"I could eat her up," Louise said. "I could just eat her right up."
"Crack baby," Callie agreed.
"Sorry," Callie apologized to Louise. "Arizona hates that. But she's addicting!"
"She is." Feeling the baby quiver in her arms, Louise pointed to the bag she had brought in the house. "Arizona, would you mind grabbing that for me?"
Arizona passed the bag over and Louise drew out a package, wrapped in festive Christmas paper. "I hope you don't mind. I brought her a gift. Callie, would you open it?"
"Of course." Callie tore into the paper. Her breath hitched as she pulled out the baby blanket.
"Wow," Arizona murmured. "It's gorgeous." She reached over and ran a hand down the scalloped edge. "And so soft."
"You made her a blanket," Callie whispered.
"I-I wasn't sure of your colors," Louise said. "My grandmother used to say that every child should sleep under a rainbow. So I made her a rainbow."
The blanket was indeed a rainbow, but made of soft, almost shiny, pastels. It was Callie's turn to blink away tears.
"Wait," Arizona broke the silence, still fingering the blanket. "You made this? Like made it, made it?"
"I like to knit."
"I still have the booties." Callie's voice remained low and she leaned to drape the blanket across Sofia.
Louise's answering smile was tinged with sadness. "I had a little more time on my hands this time."
"Clearly," Arizona announced. "This must have taken you forever."
"It's beautiful, Louise." Callie laid a hand over Louise's, both atop her child.
"Oh!" Louise sighed. "Your mothers must smother this little girl. I know I would."
Arizona and Callie shared a glance. Trying to help her wife, Arizona said, "My mother does. We have to send pictures home weekly."
"I bet she passes them around to all of her friends when you do. And your mother, Calliope, all the way in Miami. How does she stand it?"
"Pretty well, actually."
Louise caught the bitterness, even before she heard Arizona's moan of distress. Shooting a stern glance in Callie's direction, Louise announced, "She's a damn fool, then."
Arizona burst into giggles, while Callie's eyes widened in surprise.
"I mean it, Callie. I know you said she was having trouble with…with the two of you. I was raised in the same church as her, and still go every Sunday. I know the kinds of things she's thinking. But Lord knows the Catholic Church has been wrong before. And they will be again, so who are we to sit in judgment? Besides, any woman who can turn her back on a grandbaby as precious as this is a damn fool. That's all there is to it."
On impulse, Callie wrapped her arms around Louise in a tight, swaying hug, scaring Sofia who was drifting back to sleep. "I love you, Mama O'Malley."
"I love you, too, Callie. A fool," she whispered again before leaning back to soothe the startled baby. "We all want grandchildren."
From her seat across the couch, Arizona offered, "You can take Sofia."
"Excuse me?" Louise asked at the same time Callie said, "Did you just give away our child?"
"Only sort of," Arizona assured her wife. "I meant as a grandchild. You can have Sofia."
"I…" Louise looked helplessly at Callie, who only shrugged. "I don't know what to say to that."
"Between the two of us and Mark, Sof's overwhelmed with parents but she's actually a little light in the grandparent department. My parents and Callie's dad live far away and Mark's parents aren't in the picture at all. You live right here in town. It's win/win."
Callie stared at her wife but Louise burst into laughter.
"You can't—Arizona! You can't offer Sofia up to the nearest grandmother!"
"Yes," Louise parroted, "why not?"
Arizona pointed at Louise. "Louise has already fallen in love, Calliope."
"So. There. Welcome to the family, Grandmama O'Malley." Arizona beamed as though dubbing Louise into royalty. "When can you babysit?"
Through Louise's delighted laughter, Callie kept her eyes locked on her wife's. She stood and tugged Arizona to stand with her. Keenly aware of their audience, Callie wrapped her arms around the blonde completely and kissed her squarely on the lips. "No more closets," she whispered before kissing Arizona again. "I am so in love with you."
Callie kept her arms wrapped around her wife's waist and listened while the grandfather clock struck midnight. Turning towards Louise and her daughter, she smiled, "Merry Christmas, Grandmama."