Category: Hurt/Comfort; fluff, light-angst; MAJOR CHARACTER DEATH referenced
Disclaimers: I make no profit from this little venture. All the bad-assery that is Grey's Anatomy and its characters belongs to Shondaland and ABC.
Spoilers: This is bound to be one of MANY post-"Flight," fics to be posted during the hiatus. If you don't want to be spoiled for the finale, come back later when you do ;)
A/N: So what started out as a speculation fic, is now a series of one-shots based on the finale and Arizona's recovery after the team's rescue. This first installment is vastly different than the original posting. I have altered events to coincide with those of the finale. Currently, I have four one-shots planned and they will be in chronological order. However, that could change if the muse strikes. ;) The time frame will be indicated at the beginning of each story. Thank you to everyone who reviewed, favorited, and story alerted the first version. I hope you enjoy this new version, and the other one-shots to come. Special thanks to julie_hacking and 55angel55 for the fabulous beta!
The song lyrics are taken from the awesome Nobody Said it Would be Easy, by Cloud Cult.
Thank you for reading!
When it all comes crashing down
Try to understand your meanings
No one said it would be easy
This living, it ain't easy
Seattle Grace Mercy West Hospital
72 hours after the crash
Miranda Bailey walked up to the stark hospital room in surgical recovery and knocked quietly on the door. Cradling a babbling Sofia her arms, she pushed the door open to reveal an inert, ashen Arizona Robbins lying in her hospital bed still heavily sedated from the anesthesia. Bailey eyed her from foot to head, zeroing in on Arizona's open fracture. Arizona's wound was clean, partially stitched and was being irrigated. The metal plate affixed to the rod in Arizona's rejoined femur looked as though it was thoroughly supporting the leg.
Bailey noticed that Arizona's normally golden and illustrious blonde hair hung limply around her face, surrounding the scabs and bruises already well on their way to healing. A chest tube sneaked its way out of the neck of her hospital gown, draining the blood and fluid from her lungs. Bailey was pleased to note that the tube was currently free of liquid.
Sitting next to Arizona in a chair pulled as closely to the bed as possible, Callie Torres sat in her navy blue scrubs, bright surgical cap still covering her head. Her attire conveyed without a doubt, the hours of surgery she'd recently endured mending the broken bones of her broken wife. Callie sat rigid and motionless. Her eyes were closed and her head was bent slightly toward the bed. Both of Callie's hands gripped Arizona's arm as it lay by her side.
At the sound of Bailey entering the room, Callie opened her eyes, and seemed to leave the meditative state she had been in. Her eyes were red-rimmed the dark smudges beneath them belying her exhaustion and pain. When she caught sight of her cooing daughter her face cracked into a slow smile as Bailey crossed the room to greet her.
"Hey." Bailey said in a quiet tone, as to not disturb the patient.
"Hi." Callie whispered, standing up and meeting them half way. Sofia instantly started flapping her arms when she saw her Mami. She reached for Callie, her baby smile showing off two new bottom teeth.
"Hi baby girl," Callie replied, taking her daughter in her arms, nuzzling her, and kissing her cheek. "I missed you, sweetheart." She shifted Sofia to her hip and looked down at Bailey.
Callie thought Bailey looked like she felt -drained and heart-broken. Bailey's face revealed evidence of tears, stress, and the weight of one too many burdens from one too many tragedies.
"How did you get Mark to part with her?" Callie asked.
"That son-of-a-Sloan fell asleep with her playing in his lap. She was gumming his IV cord when I walked in to get her."
At Callie's wide-eyed look of alarm Bailey held up a hand. "Don't worry, I just stepped out for a minute and I caught her in time. She was still buckled to the bed rails. What do you take me for, a baby endangerer? That child's been through enough traumas without addin' an accidental overdose or a nose-dive-off-a-hospital-bed to her list."
Callie smiled. "How's Mark?"
"Other than a pain in my ass? Fine. His latest CTs look good."
At Callie's look of relief, Bailey lifted up an envelope in her other hand. "Thought you'd like to see this, too."
Bailey held up the copy of Arizona's latest chest x-ray to the adjacent light. Callie studied it briefly before emotion took over her face. "All clear." She took a moment to absorb that and smiled radiantly. "She's clear."
Bailey nodded and gestured to Arizona. "How's the rest of her doin'?" Callie pivoted back toward her wife. She quietly steeled herself and quickly shifted into orthopedic surgeon mode. Callie knew she couldn't break down about Arizona's injuries, not yet, and not in front of Sofia.
"The surgery went well." Callie said. "Her left femur was fractured in two places, but I was able to place the rod without any difficulty. Her left patella was shattered, and there was a small fracture to her iliac crest on that side, but I was able to stabilize it. There is evidence of…." Callie hesitated and cleared her throat, "…of nerve damage around her S1 and S2 vertebrae. It doesn't look permanent, but I won't know the extent until I can get the head of Neuro at Seattle Pres to take a look at her scans." Bailey nodded.
Callie paused in her recitation, as emotion bloomed heavy in her chest.
Bailey added for her, "And now that we know the pulmonary laceration is contained, she's out of the woods. Literally."
Callie nodded, not trusting herself to speak. After a moment, she continued her summation. "She will need a few more surgeries to repair the patella, and she'll probably need an entire knee replacement down the road but…" Callie let out a shuddered breath, and brushed her hand across Sofia's head seeking comfort in the silky strands. "…but she's gonna be fine." She shifted her gaze from Bailey to Sofia, "Yes she is, your Mama is gonna be just fine."
Bailey sighed and looked toward Sofia, "That's right and I thought a little Sofia therapy could be just the trick to help her Mama wake up. Isn't that right, pretty girl?" she said, pinching her cheek lightly as Sofia giggled at her. "So," Bailey said setting down the pack 'n' play and the diaper bag she'd lugged in next to Callie's chair, "I'll leave you ladies to it."
Bailey gave Callie a small smile before walking over to look down at Arizona. Bailey checked the chest tube and and winked back at Callie. "Still clear," she said.
"Damn fine work, Dr. Bailey." Callie said.
"You're damn right, Dr Torres." Bailey said. She turned attention back to Arizona. She smoothed down one of the adhesives covering the stitches on Arizona's forehead, and brushed her hand across the top of her head. "Wake up soon, Robbins. Your family needs you."
Bailey turned to leave giving Callie's arm a light squeeze before she headed toward the door.
"Where are you off to now?" Callie asked.
Bailey paused. "I'm gonna go check on Derek. I hear he's driving the nurses nuts while Meredith is passed out in the Attendings Lounge."
Callie thought of her Boards protégé, wondering how in the world Grey was making it through right now. "How did anyone manage to get her to sleep?"
"Yang tagged her with a syringe of diazepam." Bailey smirked.
"Well, under the circumstances, I guess forced sedation isn't the worst thing that's happened to her in the last 72 hours." Callie said with austerity.
"Yeah, thought we'd let that one slide." Bailey said. "I'll check in with the three of you later." she said, as she turned to go.
"Bailey." Callie said, stopping Bailey in her tracks.
"Thank you." The weight of Callie's tone hit Bailey square in the chest.
Bailey gave her a significant nod, "Yeah well, if you two would stop putting yourselves through windshields and crashing yourselves in planes, you wouldn't have to thank me."
Callie laughed. As Bailey walked out the door, Callie could just hear her mumble, "If I were either of you I would just walk everywhere from now on. Nothing wrong with the two feet God gave you…"
Callie grinned before turning her attention back to the loves of her life.
She and Sofia sat in the chair facing Arizona again and simply watched her. Sofia got excited being so close to her Mama and slapped her hands excitedly on Arizona's arm. "Ma..mama..ma..maa," she babbled and blew bubbles at Arizona.
Callie smiled, and rested the side of her head against her daughter's. "Yeah, that's right. It's Mama. She's asleep right now, but she'll be so happy to see you when she wakes up." Tears pooled in Callie's eyes straight from her heart as she looked from her wife to her daughter. She slowly rocked Sofia back and forth more to comfort herself than her child. "What do you think, baby?" Callie asked Sofia. "Should we read Mama a story?" Sofia looked up at her Mami and flashed her own super magic smile. "I'll take that as a yes," Callie whispered and kissed her daughter's head.
She stood up with Sofia and went to the diaper bag. Inside were the many books Arizona insisted were always packed along with the ever-present wipes, snacks, and diapers. Callie scanned through the selections, which mostly consisted of fun stories starring strong little girls saving the day. When Callie came across the worn copy of Hansel and Gretel among the newer titles, her heart clutched in her chest. It had been Arizona's favorite book when she was a child. Arizona had told Callie that the Colonel would often read it to her and Tim. After a good reading Tim and Arizona, along with Nick, would try to reenact it in their backyard. Arizona insisted that Nick be the witch, because he always teased her, and of course that made him the bad guy. Arizona and Tim would be Gretel and Hansel respectively. Callie smiled, pulled the book out, and made her way back over to the chair with Sofia.
Settling Sofia in her lap, Callie opened the delicate pages and began. "Once upon a time a very poor woodcutter lived in a tiny cottage in the forest with his two children, Hansel and Gretel. His second wife often ill-treated the children and was forever nagging the woodcutter. 'There is not enough food in the house for us all. There are too many mouths to feed! We must get rid of the two brats,'" Callie frowned and glanced up at her sedated wife.
"Arizona, this version better not be evil." she remarked, before starting the story again. "The step mother kept trying to persuade her husband to abandon his children in the forest.'" Callie paused, "Seriously?" Her voice hitched, and she shook her head blowing a raspberry at Sofia. "I guess I should've paid more attention at story time," she mumbled before she continued.
"The stepmother told her husband, 'Take the children miles from home, so far that they can never find their way back!' What? Okay, that's enough." Callie said, closing the book. She cocked her head at Arizona, and pointed her left index finger at her. "Remind me when you wake up, that you and I are going to have a serious conversation about proper fairytales for our daughter." She emphasized the latter with a purse of her lips and slight head tilt from side to side, before she realized her equally sassy partner couldn't rebut. Callie let out a sad, deflated sigh, and focused again on Sofia.
"Anyway, skipping ahead to the bread crumbs…" Sofia clapped her hands together as Callie decided to set the book aside and finish the story with her own flourish. In Callie's version, instead of burning the witch in the oven, Hansel and Gretel got her to change her ways. Instead of kicking his wife out the husband convinced the mean stepmother to get counseling. In the happiest of endings of course, Hansel and Gretel made it back safe and sound following the bread crumb trail all the way. The End.
When she was done with the story she cuddled a sleepy Sofia close, her eyes fixed on Arizona. "That's what your Mama and Daddy and the other brave doctors did too, mi'ja," Callie murmured absently to her daughter. "They left just enough breadcrumbs so we could find them and bring them home. And everyone made it back." Callie sighed deeply and swallowed hard against the lump in her throat. "Everyone except for your Aunt Lexie, baby. She wasn't so lucky." Callie let the tears flow a little, but staunched the wave of emotion that threatened to overwhelm her. "Someday I'll tell you all about her and how amazing she was."
Glimpsing down at Sofia, she noticed her daughter had fallen asleep. "But right now, how about I put you to bed, huh?" Callie wiped her tears and moved Sofia to her shoulder so she could maneuver a bit with both hands. She unfolded the pack 'n play, set it up next to the foot of Arizona's bed and gently laid Sofia down. As she was tucking a blanket around her sleeping baby, a stir in the hospital bed alerted Callie's senses.
Looking up she saw Arizona's brow knit briefly and her mouth twitch.
"Arizona?" She whispered and walked to her bedside and clutched her hand. "Arizona." She waited a beat more, and watched as Arizona's head moved toward her voice. Callie brushed Arizona's hair off her forehead, and stroked her fingers up and down Arizona's cheek, encouraging her.
Arizona continued to rouse, and Callie tracked her every movement with her eyes. "That's it, baby. C'mon. Let me see those gorgeous blue eyes."
At that, Arizona slowly raised her lids and blinked a few times, before she opened them halfway.
"There we go, c'mon!" Callie said, excitement coloring her voice, and taking over her face.
The corners of Arizona's mouth quirked, her eyes were unfocused as they moved to lock on the face of her love. She continued to widen her eyes and blink away the anesthesia until she finally held her eyelids completely open and gazed directly at Callie.
"Hi." Arizona croaked.
"Hi." Callie said, laughing and crying. "Welcome back."
Arizona beamed at Callie for a beat, until a shutter came slowly down over her face. "Wha…where…" She said trying to move.
"No, honey, stay still. You need to stay still." Callie urged.
Arizona looked down at herself and tried to move her arms. Callie gripped Arizona's hand, "No, Arizona, please."
Arizona gripped back and hung on tight. "Callie, what…where am I?" She whispered her voice dry. "Is it really you?" Fear graced her features and made Callie's heart drop to her stomach.
"Yes, it's me. You're okay. You're okay. I promise," Callie chanted, remembering what the psychologist told them to say to the crash survivors when they came out of their respective surgeries. With her other hand, Callie cupped Arizona's cheek. "You're at our hospital and…you've…you've been through a lot, and I'll tell you everything, I promise, but first you need to know, you're safe, you're okay, and I'm right here."
Arizona looked at Callie with alarm, and took stock of her own body. Her breathing started to quicken, as she noticed she was hooked up to multiple IV's and covered in bandages. Luckily, her leg was still out of the range of her vision. The pain, though dulled by the medication, also started to gradually register for Arizona.
"Callie…" She said again, a little more desperately.
"It's alright, Arizona," Callie soothed. "You're okay. I'll explain. Just hold on. Trust me?" Arizona nodded and Callie reached over to the medicine tray standing next to one of Arizona's IV poles and grabbed the cup of ice chips there.
"Want some?" Callie gestured, and Arizona nodded vigorously.
Arizona lifted her head a bit and winced. Callie quickly fed her the little sponge soaked with water and a few chips.
"Yum." Arizona said her voice a little less hoarse. "But, ow." She rested her head back down on her pillow, and hissed through her teeth. "I feel… like hell."
Callie looked at her in compassion and set the cup down. "I would say so. You've…" Callie swallowed against the bile and lump forming in her throat, "You've been through hell. You all have."
Arizona's face became somber as recollections started to dawn on her face. "We were on a plane." She said, and paused. Callie nodded.
"And it...the plane...it…it" Arizona stuttered, eyes glued to Callie's, "It…it crashed."
"Yes." Callie confirmed.
"We never made it Boise…" Arizona continued.
"No." Callie said.
"We were stuck in the woods… and…no one came for us…" Arizona mumbled. "…then there was a helicopter and…"
"We found you." Callie answered. "We found you, and you all made it back to the hospital." Callie said not ready to confess everything yet, not sure exactly what Arizona already knew. "What do you remember?" Callie decided to ask instead.
Arizona's eyes glazed over as more of the memories came back to her. "Smoke." Arizona answered. "There was so much smoke and blood. And so much screaming, Calliope…." Arizona's voice trailed off and then she started to ramble. "Cristina couldn't find her shoe, and Jerry couldn't feel his legs, and…my bone, Calliope, I could see my bone and all I could think about was you." Arizona smiled.
Callie listened to Arizona, keeping her own emotions at bay willing Arizona to continue.
"Meredith and Yang…" Arizona said on a shaky breath, "They couldn't…they couldn't find Derek…but then they did and his hand was…it was…"
"His hand is okay, Arizona. Derek is okay, they are all okay." Callie answered.
"Mark?" Arizona asked panic lacing her tone "Mark!" Arizona said again louder. "What about Mark?"
"Shhh baby, he's fine." Callie continued. "The guy is like a cockroach, remember? It will take more than a plane crash to get him."
Arizona quirked a little smile at that, and then her face crumpled in pain and emotion. "Lexie…." She whispered. "Callie…Lexie…she's…she's gone."
Callie nodded her head and bit her lip against the onslaught of emotion she felt welling up in her body.
Arizona continued. "Mark he….told her… he told her he…. ahhhh." Arizona moaned, closing her eyes. She winced as a wave of pain washed through her body. "Ow. I hurt all over." She breathed out a heavy sigh. "God. My leg, Callie. It's hurt so much," she sobbed as tears started to sting her eyes.
Callie blinked back her own tears. "That's a good thing, Arizona. That it hurts, I mean. It's good."
Arizona studied her wife's face with concern and clutched at her chest. "My chest…Callie…it hurts too…I can't… breathe…I…it hurts."
Callie bit her lip again, and took Arizona's hand into both of hers. Callie pushed the button on the morphine drip to give Arizona some relief, watching as the pain subsided and Arizona's face visibly relaxed.
After a few moments, Arizona's breathing evened out and she looked at Callie with slow blink of the heavily medicated. "That's better. That's much, much better. Thank you." Arizona lifted her head to assess more of her body, and caught sight of the open fracture in her leg.
"Ooh! That's pretty." She winced and laid her head back down. Her glassy eyes became intensely serious as she focused on Callie. "What's my condition?" she asked.
Callie hesitated, but Arizona stared at her with imploring eyes. "Tell me. Please, Calliope," she said, "I don't remember how we got out of there, and I hardly remember anything after the crash. Please. Tell me."
Callie took a deep breath. "When the rescue team found you all, you were unconscious. Cristina and Meredith were weak, but able to brief them about everyone's condition. You, Mark, and Derek were transported out first. You… you stopped breathing in the helicopter but they revived you." Callie faltered but steadied herself.
Arizona gave her a quizzical look, Callie answered. "You suffered an acute pulmonary laceration caused by a broken rib you probably didn't even know you had."
"Ah. That would explain the blood." Arizona murmured absently.
"What blood?" Callie asked.
"In my mouth, on my chin, everywhere… I thought it was just from my facial lacerations. Apparently not." Arizona laughed. "Some doctor, huh?"
"Arizona you were in shock. You all were. It's amazing you even managed to splint your leg."
"It is, huh. I did that myself you know," Arizona said with a grin. "I'm bad ass."
Callie smiled and blinked away tears. "Yeah. You're pretty bad ass."
Arizona became serious again and looked straight into Callie's eyes. "How bad is my leg?" she asked, steadying her own breath, preparing herself.
When Callie didn't give her an answer right away, Arizona repeated herself with more emphasis, "Calliope, how bad is my leg? Just give it to me straight, please."
"Bad." Callie finally said. She took a deep breath and continued, "Your left femur was fractured, and your left patella was crushed. You have some skin lacerations and deep muscle contusions in your right leg that are pretty gnarly to look at, but not serious." Callie swallowed before continued. "I was able to fix most of the bone fractures in your leg except for your left knee. For that, I'll have to go in again."
It was then that Arizona seemed to take in Callie's appearance in conjunction with her words. "Wait, you did my surgery?" Arizona inquired. "They let you?"
"Yes." Callie answered. "When you all arrived, it was all hands on deck. Everyone probably worked on you at some point. Once Bailey stabilized the hemothorax, your leg became top priority. Besides, do you seriously think I would let anyone else touch those beautiful bones of yours? Not a chance." Callie added to lighten the mood a bit.
Arizona smiled lazily, the morphine making her appear more sleepy and peaceful by the minute. "Well, I'm gonna be just fine then." She murmured. "I have the best Ortho God in the world working on me." Arizona grinned and blinked slowly.
"I don't know about the world," Callie replied smiling, "but maybe the West Coast." Callie winked and let a sexy smirk play over her face, allowing their easy flirtatious banter to soothe her for a brief moment. "With some work, and some major PT, you should be able to make a full recovery."
"'Course imma gonna make a full recov'ry…" Arizona said her words slurring more as exhaustion and the medication took over.
"Yes, you are." Callie grinned. "But right now you need to get some more rest."
"Mm'kay." Arizona said already drifting off to sleep. "Oh…wait!" she said suddenly, her eyes popping open. "You'll be here when I wake up?"
"You bet. And look who else is here." Callie moved to the side so Arizona could see the foot of the bed and the pack 'n play where Arizona could just make out the black unruly hair of their daughter.
Emotion overtook Arizona's face, as she registered Sofia's presence. "Oh… oh my baby…" She said thickly, tears gathering in the corners of her eyes, as her eyes blinked open and closed sluggishly.
"Shh… It's okay." Callie said, stroking Arizona's tears away with her thumb. "She'll be here when you wake up. We both will. We're not going anywhere."
Arizona's eyes popped open one more time at Callie's last statement. "You won't leave." She mumbled.
"No." Callie said, her heart shattering. "I'm staying right here."
"Good." Arizona said, before she closed her eyes again. Callie brushed her lips against Arizona's briefly. "Sleep well, baby," she whispered against her mouth before she pulled back. "I love you."
"I luh you, toooo." Arizona said, before she was out completely.
RIP Little Grey
A/N:The version of Hansel and Gretel used in this chapter is archived at ivyjoy[dot]com.