No Matter of Chance
Disclaimer: As usual, I don't own anything. I'm just playing around with these "If/Then" alternative versions of characters that I adore. They are owned by Shondaland, ABC, and probably a lot of other really rich folks.
A/N: Well, it's finally time to put this story to bed. I started it almost a year ago as a diversion from Thin Line and it sort of took on a life of its own. I'm glad so many of you have enjoyed this and sorry I won't be giving some of you your wish of this continuing. It's run its course and it's time to focus on other projects. It's been a lot of fun to get to do a Calzona first time, that's for sure. And now for the requisite hokey ending.
I've enjoyed all your comments. It's the only payment we writers get and I know we all work long and hard on these stories that you love so much. A little one line of thanks means so much to us and gets us enthused to write more.
Anyway, thank you all so much for taking this journey with me…and now for a peek into their future.
"You're gorgeous, mom," Allegra said as she pulled at her own dress.
"Oh this old thing?" Callie said with a laugh as she looked down at the ivory wedding gown she had just finished putting on.
"I think the only thing older than that dress is me," Carlos said as he walked over to give his daughter a kiss on her cheek.
Callie had found the dress in a small boutique and was surprised to find out it had been used. Vintage, the saleswoman had said. Arizona had laughed when she had heard about the dress and called it a "mid-century antique", but Callie had just fallen in love with it. There was something about it that reminded her of her mother's wedding dress that she had always loved in the old picture that sat in her parents' living room. The veil that she had made to match the one her mother had worn just finished the illusion that she could have been getting married back in the sixties. Well, except for the fact that this wedding was to a woman, and thanks to the state of Washington being rather progressive, a legal one at that. That would have been unheard of back in her parents' day. "You're both just classics," Callie said as she gave her father a hug.
Just then Owen knocked on the door and poked his head into the room. "So, Mark says that Arizona is ready. You ready to make an honest woman of her?"
Callie took a deep breath, finally feeling the nervous butterflies hit her stomach. But beyond that, there was the excitement of finally getting to marry the love of her life. It had taken them three years to get to this day, but now that they were here, she just couldn't wait another minute. "Yes, yes, I'm ready. Let's get this show on the road."
Owen smiled and then gave her a nod. "Okay, see you up at the altar."
Callie looked around the room, happy to have her family all there to take part in this special day. Her mother was already seated in the chapel. Her father was going to walk her down the aisle while her kids would be acting as flower girl and ring bearers. And even her ex-husband was going to stand by her as her best man. It was perhaps a little unconventional, but that seemed par for the course for her and Arizona. And she didn't care as long as they got to stand up in front of their family and friends and proclaim their love and devotion to one another. She hadn't quite understood the meaning of marriage her first go around, but this time, knowing that she had found the one person she was meant to be with until death did them part, she was overwhelmed by the power of it all.
Carlos took her by the arm and patted her hand. "I'm so happy for you, mija. I think you've finally found the one."
"I know I have," she said with a bright smile.
The small group made it out into the hallway and then over to the entrance to the chapel that she would pass through momentarily. She knew Arizona was getting set at the other door partially around the oval chapel. One of the reasons they had chosen this location was the fact that they could each enter at the same time, each walking toward the altar with her father on her arm. The thought of finally seeing Arizona in her gown made Callie's heart race. She peeked into the chapel, seeing everyone seated in the pews. Owen and Mark each stood to the side of the altar, waiting to perform their duties as best men to the couple. "Wish the music would start," she said, bouncing nervously in her heels.
"Any second now," Carlos whispered into her ear.
As if he had a direct connection to the string quartet that was to play during the ceremony, the quiet music starting to float through the chapel. The crowd became quiet at the cue and a few turned in their seats to look at the entrances in the rear of the chapel. Smiles from family and friends reached back to Callie and filled her with such gratitude that they were all there to share this day with them.
"Do we go in yet?" Ethan asked as he fidgeted with the collar of his shirt.
"Just a few seconds. You each have your ring, right?" Carlos asked even though they all knew the rings were actually tied onto the small pillows they were carrying so that they wouldn't be lost.
Max rolled his eyes comically. "Yes, Abuelo."
Just then the tone of the music changed and Callie smiled down at her sons. "Okay, that's your cue. Don't forget, nice and slow like we practiced."
The boys both nodded and then turned toward the chapel. Max pushed at his brother once before starting to walk into the chapel. Ethan had to rush to catch up, but luckily he didn't try to retaliate for the shove. They walked a little quicker than Callie would have liked, but still she couldn't blame them. Kindergartners were not exactly known for their patience.
"You ready, mija?" Callie asked her daughter.
Allegra's smile was broad. "Let's go make her my mom," Allegra said as she turned, almost nonchalantly taking off down the aisle.
"She's a piece of work," Carlos said with a light chuckle. "So like you were at that age."
"I guess that's the grandparents' revenge, huh? But I wouldn't have it any other way." Callie took a deep breath as Allegra made it to the front of the chapel and moved off to the side to sit with her grandmother. This was really it. She was going to marry Arizona and make official what they had grown to know in the last few years—that they had formed a family that would last a lifetime.
Just then the music changed again. They had voted against the traditional wedding march and instead opted for a classical piece that they had fallen in love with when they had gone to hear the quartet they were hiring in concert. "Shall we?" Carlos asked as he looked over at his daughter.
"Yes," Callie replied, her voice tight with emotion.
They started to pass through the door just as everyone rose to their feet. While it was special to have all of her friends and family standing to watch her go down the aisle, it was also frustrating, because now her view of Arizona was obscured. She caught a flash of white and a hint of blonde hair now and again out of the corner of her eye even through the throngs of people in the pews. She was glad for those glimpses, not only for the knowledge that her fiancé was approaching the altar, but in order to try to time their arrivals to coincide.
Then they passed the final row of seats and suddenly Arizona was there on the arm of her father. She was breathtaking in her simple white gown. There were no frills or even embellishments, but the simple off-the-shoulder design accentuated her figure and actually drew attention to the beaming smile on her gorgeous face. Her smile was bright, showing off her perfect dimples and her blue eyes sparkled as they met Callie's. I get to marry this woman. She could hardly believe it.
They reached the altar and their fathers handed them off to each other. When her hand took Arizona's, their fingers instantly intertwining in a familiar way, Callie felt such a jolt of electricity it caused her to jump. Arizona nodded at her knowingly and whispered, "You're stunning."
"Me? Look at you. Perfection," Callie whispered back.
Reverend Smythe cleared her throat, causing both women to break eye contact and look toward their officiant. The minister smiled to each of them before raising her head to address those gathered for the wedding. "Good afternoon everyone and on behalf of our brides, I'd like to thank you all for being here with us today to celebrate the wedding of two amazing women to one another."
Callie listened as the minister spoke briefly about the importance of marriage and sharing this important commitment with family and friends. Throughout the short remarks, she kept glancing over at Arizona, unable to keep her eyes off her soon-to-be wife for more than a few seconds. She was just so beautiful and Callie could barely believe she got to finally make their relationship official and total. She wasn't sure she could be more happy than she was at that moment.
"So, our brides have written their own vows. Callie, please."
Callie took a deep breath as she turned toward Arizona, taking both of her hands in her own. Public speaking was never something she enjoyed, in fact it often made her sweaty and panicked. But instead of thinking about all those people gathered there, she instead focused on those blue eyes of her life's love. She fell into them, feeling the love and warmth that shone from them, fill her with strength and support. "Arizona, when I think back now to how our relationship began, I have to laugh. I don't think either of us would say we were anything more than professional with each other. And by professional, I mean we pretty much couldn't stand one another."
Arizona and everyone gathered there laughed. Arizona smiled at her, her eyes twinkling with amusement as she gave just the smallest of nods. "You could say that," she replied.
Callie laughed quietly and looked down to their joined hands for a moment to gather herself before looking back up into the bluest eyes she had ever seen. "But then that all changed. It wasn't easy for either of us to admit our feelings, I know. And boy were you stubborn about giving in to those feelings, but finally we began what has been the most amazing few years of my life. I've found the one person I know I'm supposed to love for the rest of my life. I've found a partner who is there for me and my children, in the good times and the bad. And I've really learned what love is all about. You've taught me that and so much more and I couldn't be happier that today we get to truly commit our lives to one another."
"So," she continued with a deep breath, "today I want to commit my life to you. I want to promise you that I will be with you through all of life's ups and downs. I will laugh with you and cry with you. I will support you and I'm sure I will fight with you on occasion. But I will always respect you and rely on you from this moment until our last breath together. And I promise you that I will let you know you are loved as often as I can, because you deserve nothing less. So, today I pledge my life to you and to us, to growing old together, until death do us part."
There was a small pause as she took a deep breath of relief that she had gotten it out just as she had hoped and then she nodded to Arizona so she would know it was her turn. With tears in her eyes, Arizona nodded back. She cleared her throat slightly and then laughed so quietly only Callie could have heard. "That was beautiful," Arizona whispered.
The minister then prompted, "Arizona?"
"Right." Arizona stood up straighter and blinked a few times to obviously keep the tears from falling, but one escaped down her left cheek regardless. "See, you've made me cry," she said louder this time, so that those gathered with them could have heard. "Anyway," she continued, her voice catching on the emotion that choked at her throat. "Callie, I never thought I'd find love and certainly not with a straight married girl."
Callie joined everyone in the light laughter that the comment brought up. "Not so straight," she mouthed to Arizona in a repeat of the joke they had often shared over the years.
"Right, not so straight," Arizona said aloud, but just loud enough for those at the altar to hear. "But then you came into my life and I fought it and fought it. I just wanted us to be friends, but you wouldn't settle and I've never been happier to be wrong. You've taught me what real love is. You've taught me what family is. You even taught me how to be a mother when that was something I would have sworn to you I would never be. And best yet, you made me want that and so much more. You gave me dreams I never knew I had and you've fulfilled each of them in turn. Things aren't always perfect, but each day I get to spend with you and your children couldn't be better."
Callie felt her heart swell at the words Arizona was offering her. They were so heartfelt and perfect, so exactly how they had come to appreciate each other, that tears sprang instantly to her eyes. She smiled through those tears at the love of her life and offered the smallest of nods to her, showing her support and agreement with every word and sentiment.
"So, today I stand before you and before our family and friends. I stand before your children, too, and maybe most importantly. I stand here to promise you that I will always love you, more today than yesterday. And more tomorrow than I do today. It seems like every time I think I can't love you any more, I do." She gave Callie a smile as a red tinge came to her cheeks.
"Me, too," Callie said so quietly only Arizona would have been able to hear.
"I know," she replied just as quietly. Then she raised her voice again so it would fill the chapel. "I want to swear to you that I will take care of you when you need it and I will let you take care of me, which as everyone who knows me would say, is not something I would allow just anyone to do."
There was a small rumble of laughter from Arizona's side of the chapel.
"I will be there for you and your children, every moment, through the good times and the bad. I will honor you and respect you and cherish every moment we have together. I will always do my best to put us before myself, to do my best to help you raise these three amazing kids. Your smile lights up my life, Calliope, it fills my heart with such joy and hope for the future, and I will do everything I can to give you reason to smile as often as possible. And when you can't, I will be there to give you strong arms to hold you and a steady shoulder to cry on. Because today, we become one. Your sorrow becomes my sorrow and your joy my joy. And I couldn't be happier or prouder to be able to call you my wife every day, for the rest of my life."
Tears were now tumbling down both of their faces and Callie couldn't help but chuckle quietly at how emotional they both were. It was so unlike them, but then again that was the power of moments like this, when the future was so bright and full of hope, and their life was showered in their love and the love of their friends and family.
"Do you have the rings?" the minister asked, forcing Callie's mind back to the present as they both looked to her.
"We have them," Max said as he and his brother walked up and showed the small pillows each had carried in, their rings tied with light blue satin ribbon on each.
Both women reached down and gave each twin a kiss on the cheek before liberating the rings from their pillows. They then turned back to the minister as they had practiced.
"Callie, please place the ring on Arizona's hand and repeat after me."
Callie listened as the minister spoke the words of the more formal part of the ceremony, repeating when she paused. "I give you this ring with love and joy. Just as a ring has no end, so is my love for you eternal. I choose you to be my wife this day and every day of our lives." She slid the ring on Arizona's finger.
Arizona then repeated the same words and slid the ring onto Callie's left hand.
"Now," the minister said with a bright smile, "with the power invested in me by the state of Washington, I hereby pronounce you wife and wife. Please seal this joyous union with a kiss."
Callie smiled wide as the realization hit her that she was married to the love of her life. She laughed as the excitement and joy filled her so fully it had to just bubble out. She reached up and placed her hands on either side of Arizona's face just as her wife did the same and leaned in to kiss her deeply. For that one perfect moment, it was just her and Arizona alone in the world. And then the applause entered her consciousness and she remembered where they were. She pulled back from the kiss, still smiling so much that her face was starting to hurt, and took Arizona's hand in her own.
Arizona then motioned with her free hand for the three children to come up and stand in front of them, so that all five of them were looking out over everyone who was celebrating with them.
The minister's voice came from behind them. "I present to you the Robbins-Torres family."
Callie leaned her head toward Arizona. "You're my wife," she said, loud enough for her to hear over the applause that still continued.
"And you're my wife," Arizona said back with a squeeze of her hand.
My wife. Callie couldn't be happier.
Arizona looked over at her wife—she was still getting used to that idea even after their three-year relationship and almost one-year engagement—and laughed with a small shake of her head.
"What?" Callie asked as she put her fork down and took Arizona in with a mixture of amusement and concern. "Do I have food on my face?" She looked down. "In my cleavage?"
"No," Arizona said with an even brighter smile now as she reached over to take Callie's hand in her own. "I was just thinking about what you said during the ceremony. About how we used to not like one another very much."
"Well we didn't. You always seemed like such a sour puss in our staff meetings. I used to wonder how you didn't scare all your patients."
"And I thought you were just a spoiled rich girl. Those Jimmy Choos you would wear just screamed spoiled and vapid."
"Vapid? Really? Can a cardio god be vapid?"
Arizona leaned a bit closer. "I hate to tell you, but it's a possibility. I'm just glad I was wrong."
Just then the clinking of silverware on crystal started to ring out. Arizona rolled her eyes as it grew louder until everyone was watching them as they called for another kiss. "It's such a sacrifice to kiss you."
"Oh, I know," Callie replied as she closed the distance. They kept the kiss tender yet chaste as applause now replaced the previous clinking. When they separated, Callie smiled, her brown eyes twinkling. "I'm so in love with you."
"Likewise. So, so likewise," Arizona replied before giving her another peck on the corner of her mouth.
A throat cleared on the other side of the table, causing them both to look. Ellis Grey was standing there with the most genuine smile Arizona thought she'd ever seen on her boss. "I wanted to offer my congratulations and also pass on the best wishes from the board. And, um," she stammered before looking down, an uncharacteristic show of doubt coming to her face. Finally she looked back up and fixed her gaze on Arizona. "Dr. Robbins," she started and then smiled slightly. "Arizona, I just wanted to let you know that the agreement we had when you first came to work for us, well, consider it null and void."
"Oh," Arizona replied, completely surprised by the Chief's statement. It was, in a way, an overdue admission of being wrong, which was not exactly something Ellis Grey often did. And really it wasn't necessary as far as Arizona and Callie were concerned. Over the previous three years they had become much more open about their relationship at work. It hadn't truly been intentional but had developed organically as they expanded their social circle among their colleagues. Just a few weeks ago, in fact, those same colleagues turned friends had thrown them a bridal shower that almost every surgeon and nurse they knew—and even a few they didn't—seemed to attend. Still it was a nice, if incredibly late, gesture from the Chief. "Thank you," Arizona finally said with a sweet smile.
"Yes, well," Ellis stammered before giving a small nod and then quickly leaving.
"Did she just admit she was wrong?" Callie asked, an incredulous look on her face.
"Not entirely, but that's probably as close as she'll get, so let's just take it as such. Besides, it's not like there's anyone at work who doesn't know. Roger, the night janitor, even congratulated me last week."
"I can top that," Callie added with a twinkle in her eyes. "Father Downin was in to give last rites to a patient last week and even he offered his congratulations. Completely informally, of course. But the Pope would have excommunicated him on the spot if he'd been there. I was floored."
"Now that is progress."
They went back to finishing their dinner, kissing during the frequent prompts from their guests, and speaking with friends and family who stopped by to offer their best wishes. After dinner, the music started and they were waiting for the announcement of their first dance when Arizona saw Owen talk to the kids off to the side of the dance floor. Then all four of them went over and climbed onto the small stage in front of the band. "What are they up to?" Arizona asked as she saw Owen pick up the microphone and look at it like he wasn't sure if it was on.
"No clue," Callie answered as she leaned toward Arizona and took her hand. There was something in her tone of voice that made Arizona think she might not be telling the whole truth, but before she could call her wife on it, Owen was tapping the mic.
"Good evening, everyone. As one of the best men, I'll be sharing emcee duties for tonight's festivities. But before we get to the toasts and the cake and the inevitable drunken dancing, our children, Allegra, Ethan and Max, would like to say a few words." He handed the mic to Allegra and gave her a small nod before stepping aside.
As the young girl brought the mic to her mouth there was some feedback that made her jump. She then tried it again, slower this time, and tentatively said, "Hi everyone." She smiled when she got a round of greetings from the guests. "My brothers and I wanted to say something before it gets too late. It's almost their bedtime so we'll have to leave just after the cake is cut I think." She sounded less than thrilled about that.
Arizona shot a look at Callie who was beaming with pride. Obviously Allegra had not inherited her mother's fear of public speaking. Arizona leaned over to her wife and whispered, "You know something."
Without taking her eyes off her kids, she smiled. "Maybe."
Arizona's attention was drawn back to the kids then as Allegra continued. "Max, Ethan and I want to say we are so happy for both of you," she said, now addressing Callie and Arizona directly. "Mommy and Arizona are always so happy and that makes us happy."
Ethan stuck his head in to speak into the mic. "And Arizona is a lot of fun."
Everyone laughed, but Arizona simply smiled up at the trio brightly. She was now feeling a little of the pride she had seen on Callie's face earlier. It hadn't always been easy, but over the years she had grown to love Callie's kids deeply, and she was reasonably sure the feeling was mutual. It even seemed strange now that she had ever thought she wouldn't want children. She couldn't imagine not having them in her life.
Allegra pulled the mic away from her brother and rolled her eyes at the interruption. "As I was saying, we wanted to say that we are excited you are officially part of our family, Arizona. And we wanted to ask you a question."
She was taken aback by that a little, but recovered quickly. "Of course," she called up to them loud enough for everyone to hear.
Callie squeezed her hand as Owen took the mic from Allegra. It was so quiet in the banquet hall then that Arizona could swear she heard her heart start to pound. The three kids all faced her and Allegra quietly said something to her brothers before she counted with her fingers. On three they all shouted at the top of their lungs, "Can we call you Mama?"
Arizona gasped. She was completely surprised by the request. "Did you know about this?" she whispered to Callie as she watched everyone look at her expectantly.
"Of course. They asked me if it was okay."
Arizona's heart really started to pound as tears stung her eyes. It was like the whole world stopped for a moment as she just looked at the kids. These were kids that she loved desperately and who wanted her to be their other mother, both in deed and in name. It was touching and daunting and downright terrifying all at once. She jumped when she felt Callie poke her leg, realizing that she was leaving the kids hanging without an answer. "Yes. Yes, of course you can," she said as she got to her feet and moved around the table. The kids ran to meet her as she knelt to get on their level and pull them all into a big group hug. "Thank you," she whispered to them when they were in her arms.
As their guests applauded, Callie came over to join the hug. "One big happy family," she whispered into Arizona's ear before kissing her cheek.
"I love all of you," Arizona said as the tears of joy fell down her cheeks. She then laughed as she hastily wiped at them. "Good thing I wore waterproof mascara today."
"You're beautiful, Mama," Allegra said, smiling brightly.
"Thanks kiddo. You guys are just so amazing. I'm so lucky."
"Let's get everyone back to the table so the boys can get on with the festivities," Callie suggested.
The brides corralled the kids back into their seats at the head table. Mark and Owen began a quick banter to get everyone's attention and then offered a number of humorous stories along with a few heartfelt toasts. Each of their fathers then got up and recounted stories of their little girls, both as kids and adults, showing how truly proud they were of their daughters. Callie and Arizona even got in on the speeches by offering their own along with toasts to their families and friends. The cake was cut and both ended up wearing plenty as they playfully pushed the fondant-covered white cake into each other's mouth.
And then Mark took the mic from Owen, proclaiming himself DJ for the dancing portion of the night. He started by calling Callie and Arizona up for their first dance as wives. They moved into each other's arms, so close that each had her chin resting on the other's shoulder just as the music started. They had asked the kids to help them choose the music and they had found the perfect song for their first dance. The familiar tones of Elton John's "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" had them swaying back and forth to the slow beat, taking in the words of the song. There certainly was more than enough love there that evening to be felt by all.
Part way through, just as the first chorus finished, Arizona pulled back and looked into her wife's deep brown eyes. "Thank you."
"For everything. For not being afraid to love a woman. For not taking no for an answer. For rescuing me and loving me."
"Seems to me that last one goes both ways. So, thank you, too," Callie said with a bright smile, tears wetting her chocolate eyes.
"You know what we're missing?" Arizona asked as her eyes drifted over to where the kids stood. They would be leaving after this dance, but for now they stood with their father, all three dancing along way too energetically for the music.
Callie must have seen where she was looking. "Our kids," she answered.
"Our kids," Arizona repeated, savoring the fact the she truly felt like they were hers. Somehow she had not only found the love of her life, but the family she never knew she even wanted, but now so desperately needed.
Callie motioned for the kids to come over and the five of them formed a small circle so they could all dance together. Callie smiled across at Arizona. "Better?"
Arizona shook her head. "No, it's perfect."