Title: Rewriting The Ending
Rating: M (overall rating) – minor curse language, sexual references
Storyline: AU Fic: By chance, Arizona Robbins and Calliope Torres meet at an airport; how much will a brief intersect of their lives influence their future?
AN: Thanks everyone for following Burdened and sticking with it through to the final part. :-) I've had this idea for a while now and have been working on the chapter plan, which I now have pretty sorted so I thought I would post the first chapter and see what you think. It is AU…just in case you missed that in the summary…definitely AU.
"People travel to faraway places to watch, in fascination, the kind of people they ignore at home.
Dagobert D. Runes
It had been an absolute battle to get to the wide opening of the Emirates Lounge of LAX. Or rather, their partner lounge by Korean Air, and all she wanted now was to slip through the doors, pour herself a glass of white wine and sit down. A chair, a bed, a lounge, she wasn't fussy; she just wanted to be off her tired and sore feet. Not that it mattered what she wanted, as the immaculately dressed young man behind the counter turned her business class ticket over and over in his hands. His face deadpanned as he peered over and ran his eyes up and down her body. It was barely perceptible, but his eyebrows raised slightly before neutralising, judging her unworthy by the faded yoga pants and slightly stretched capped sleeve t-shirt she was wearing. And her matted blond hair was probably not helping her cause, nor the Merrells that her feet were slipped into. "I'm sorry Ma'am, but all Business Class Boarding Passes must be stamped for Lounge entry." Arizona swallowed heavily and sighed, casting her stare to the Los Angeles skyline print on the wall. "Unless you have your Skywards Membership Card, I'm not able to grant you access without a stamp."
"Right, ah, Jeremy is it?" she asked, squinting at the name badge pinned to his left chest.
"Yes Ma'am, it's Jeremy, however I cannot allow you access on this boarding card."
"Yes, Jeremy, you have made your policy very clear. However, let me just tell you a little bit about how I've come to be standing here, in front of your delightful tone. Not one, but two cancelled connecting flights on a code share ticket which was followed by being caught in the middle of an absolute string of expletives between screamed by another passenger, grossly intoxicated by the way. And, to cap it all off, one of your employees, used me as a protective shield and I earned a very significant bruise to my shoulder when I body blocked a laptop bag being thrown at her. Add to that, about thirty-eight hours of being awake, it taking me three security checks and two hours to actually get to stand in front of this lounge and I now have five hours to wait until a very long flight to Dubai which will still not be my final destination."
Although he gave a fleeting look of disbelief, to his credit, Jeremy mostly maintained an air of quiet confidence and the resolve of a security guard. "I understand that you have had a difficult day, however I am still not able to approve your entry."
"You have my original ticket, you have my boarding pass and I'm sure there is record of my upgrade in the system; I strongly suggest you work your magic, Sir; before I make my third consecutive complaint." And under her breath, the distinct murmur of the term asshole was carefully disguised as he shuffled a few papers on the desk.
"Perhaps I can be of some help." They both turned their heads at the sudden interruption to their exchange, clearly unaware that there was another passenger waiting patiently. "Your name?" she asked softly, deep brown eyes sparkling as she smiled widely, tucking thick dark hair behind her ear.
"Ah, Arizona, Arizona Robbins," she stuttered in response, mouth slightly ajar as her body shrunk into itself.
She earned a nod and a wink before the woman pressed herself over the counter, ample breasts being exposed by the plunging neckline that she wore, a thick gold chain and pendant dropping into the hollowed space within her cleavage. "My card Jeremy, Skywards Gold and my Boarding Pass. Now, Ms Robbins will be joining me as one of my permitted guests while you go about sorting out this unnecessary debacle. It sounds as if Ms Robbins has been through enough today and I would appreciate you contacting John, my Emirates Consultant who will ensure that she is adequately compensated."
Awkwardly coughing and with a slight blush to his cheeks, Jeremy handed the card back and glanced at his computer screen, briefly reading a number of alerts that identified the woman as a VIP. "Of course Mrs Torres, go ahead, I will find you inside and advise you of the outcome. I apologise for the inconvenience."
Eyes falling and hands nervously reaching down to her hips, she smoothed the skirt over her thighs and toyed briefly with the silk belt tied just over the right of her pelvis. "It's Ms, thank you, but Callie is fine."
Handbag over her shoulder and taking the handle of her Louis Vuitton cabin bag, she nodded to Arizona to follow. Arizona complied, slightly stunned as she wordlessly trailed behind, laptop bag across her chest and faded Mont daypack over her shoulders. "Thank you," she murmured eventually as Callie came to still in a quiet corner, two excessive lounge chairs with a low white coffee table between them.
"Oh of course, not a problem; the kid is a waste of space." Leaving her wheeled case in the middle of the walkway, Callie slumped down on the chair and raked her fingers through her styled hair. "He told my ah," she hesitated momentarily, before shaking her head and pressing a smile to her lips. "My sister, he told my sister she wasn't appropriately dressed. Something about exposed toes or something equally ridiculous, I mean she was wearing Jimmy Choos."
Arizona politely laughed, and a quick rake of her memory hinted at some fancy heels that she would never be caught wearing; or never skilled enough to walk in, perhaps. "Well, thank you again. I am just desperate for a shower and some food, and to finally sit in something more comfortable than a plastic airport chair."
"Yeah, sounds like you've had an absolute shit of a day," Callie emphasised and the surprised expression on Arizona's pale face didn't go unnoticed. She gave the characteristically practised smile another go and Arizona laughed again, more genuine this time and her cheeks exposed two deep and mesmerising dimples. "So leave whatever you don't need here, and I'll have a wine waiting for you after your shower. Red or white?"
"Umm, yeah okay, sure. As long as you don't mind my company."
"Not at all, long haul flights, always nice to have someone sane to have a conversation with."
"I could be a serial killer," Arizona prompted, and one of her dimples creased as she turned just the corner of her mouth.
"Ah, a serial killer that can't manage a power hungry but very juvenile desk boy?"
"Fair call, thanks. I would love a white wine."
"Blend, you know, what kind of white is your drink of choice?"
Arizona blushed slightly. "I don't mind, a sauv blanc if they have it, but at this stage I would take whatever was offered."
"Go, shower," Callie instructed as she gave the smallest of waves to a staff member. Arizona dropped her laptop to the chair opposite her and wandered off, suddenly grateful for the clean clothes, hairbrush and travel sized perfume she had stuffed down the bottom of her backpack. She couldn't wait to stand for at least ten minutes under steaming hot water and if she ever successfully arrived in Belgium, she was never stepping foot on another plane again.
Walking back towards Callie, Arizona had an uninterrupted view for almost thirty seconds as she manoeuvred past tables and stepped over the occasional briefcase. Callie had clearly relaxed, heels discarded and bare feet now on the edge of the coffee table, elbow on the side of the lounge as she nibbled at a small piece of herb bread. Her dark hair was long, past her shoulders and half way down her back, cut with a fringe that brushed across her forehead and styled towards her temple. And she had the most incredible figure that Arizona had seen, beautiful curves and a strong posture, delicately smooth dark skin.
"Hi," Callie acknowledged when Arizona returned, placing her backpack on the floor and sliding slowly into the soft seat opposite. "You look a little more refreshed."
Again, Arizona couldn't help but feel her cheeks warm and she nodded. "I never expect to use the emergency change of clothes, but I just discovered a good reason for packing them and more."
"I'm not beyond doing a bit of airport shopping just so I can change, I must admit."
"True, always an option."
"Well, you look good," Callie confirmed, somewhat an understatement as she caught a peek of white skin as Arizona repositioned her fitted, long sleeve shirt over the waist of her jeans. "And so ready for a wine."
"Absolutely, exactly what I need after today." She took a long sip and dropped a few macadamia nuts into her mouth before settling back. "So, I'm sorry I didn't introduce myself properly. I'm Arizona, and completely indebted for you saving me from young Jeremy."
Callie grinned and held up a boarding pass, handing it to Arizona. "I know, Ms Arizona Danielle Robbins," she said, laughing lightly and grateful when Arizona joined her. "Always a good way to find out someone's full name, just look at their boarding pass or passport."
"And it's only fair to share then," Arizona bantered easily, relaxing as she leant forward, lifting herself slightly off the chair to successfully grasp Callie's passport sitting on the table. "Oh, it's not Callie," she declared and Callie audibly groaned. "Calliope…that's gorgeous. I like it."
"Yeah yeah, unless you're my father yelling at me, it's not really used."
"Well, you should. It's unusual, nice."
"On a different note," Callie murmured, quickly changing the subject, "you're sorted with the rest of your trip, a little upgrade to first class."
Arizona's eyes widened in surprise and Callie, not for the first time, absorbed the amazing blue that stared back at her. "Really?"
"The downside is that you're stuck next to me until Heathrow, but you can always block yourself off, these flights have the dividers in them."
"You organised this?"
"I called in a favour, no big deal. My family have a pretty hefty account with Emirates; they wouldn't like to upset me."
"So for the second time today, I owe you a thank you."
"Really, not a drama at all."
"I haven't even left the States and this has already been a crazy trip. Stuck in Dallas forever, and then having to come to LA when I was meant to be flying directly and then the crazy prick that threw the bag. It's just surreal; and I started the trip in cattle class and have ended up in first, nothing like a silver lining."
"Oh yeah, I heard you mention the person throwing a laptop bag at you…what the hell?"
"I know," Arizona exclaimed, losing some of the tiredness she had been feeling earlier and emulating Callie's positioning on the lounge. "This drunk guy was clearly unimpressed at having had his flight cancelled or diverted, I don't know, he wasn't even at the right airline counter. But the check in girl freaked out and pushed the security alarm, but then came out from behind the desk and kind of subtly moved behind me. I wasn't even involved! And then he saw security running through the airport towards him and he just threw his bag, well I assume it was his, which cracked me in the shoulder. He was bundled off in an ambulance, probably been using as well, he was pretty off his face."
"I'm always amazed by some of the crap that people do, I mean, who expects to get on a flight like that?" Callie rhetorically asked, shaking her head. "How's the shoulder then?"
"Ack, has a massive bruise," Arizona responded, fingertips dancing over her clavicle and under her arm. She lifted the corner of her shirt and peered inside, wincing. "Yeah, a nice shade of purple already."
"Show me," Callie demanded rising from her seat, perhaps a little too forcibly as Arizona's fingers stilled. "You didn't need an x-ray or anything?"
"Oh, it's just a bruise. Nothing broken or too sore," she elaborated, but conceded in pulling her shirt further to the side and cocking her head opposite.
"Ouch," Callie exclaimed, "that's pretty bruised. You deserved more than a bloody upgrade for wearing that."
Arizona shrugged. "Makes a good story I suppose, presuming I actually make it to Belgium. Anyway, how about you, where are you off to or where have you started?"
"Hold that thought," Callie murmured, "we need a top up while I'm standing." She strode over to the bar and returned with two fresh glasses, adding another quick trip and placing two plates of various canapés in between them. "I had one of these smoked salmon pastries before, divine." Arizona happily took one and nodded her approval, offering soft murmurs of satisfaction. "I haven't come far today, just drove from Vegas. I caught up with a friend there for a few days 'cause I'm headed to Scotland for a while. Not really sure when I'll be back."
"Really?" Arizona asked, licking her lips and sitting herself up a little straighter. "That's a long way to go for an indefinite amount of time. What's over there?"
Callie hesitated to answer, breathing deeply and using what Arizona guessed, was a calm expression that had been perfected over years. When she was probably feeling anything but calm. "Just a family property over there, so I'm having a bit of a break and checking up on things. We haven't had anyone actually oversee it for a year or so, when the tenants moved out, so I thought I may as well do some relaxing and getting back to nature."
"It's meant to be beautiful in Scotland; I haven't seen a lot, just spent some time in Edinburgh when I was younger. Or rather, I drank my way around Edinburgh, like most of my time in the UK and Europe."
"It really is, I've spend a couple of summers there and it's just stunning."
"Not so summery at the moment, though."
"No, I think freakin' freezing is what you're looking for. Though Brussels won't be any better!"
"I know, no idea what I'm thinking actually. I'm not a huge one for the cold."
"So what sends you over there?"
Arizona sighed heavily, though she smiled. "My Editor, I've missed a crapload of deadlines and if I don't finish this book I'm going to have to pay back my advance and lose my contract. We're calling it a sabbatical and if he hears that I'm recapturing my backpacking youth, I'm in trouble."
"A book? You're an Author?"
"Well," Arizona muttered, eyes cast briefly to the ceiling, "if that's what you call writing one book and then failing to produce another…then I guess so."
Callie laughed but nodded eagerly, and her fingers seemed to subconsciously examine a mini quiche. "I can't see why that would possibly not count, and what better place to focus on your next one than in a European city."
"You sound like my Editor, a little cheer squad. I'm actually heading to Bruges, a bit quieter and cheaper too. My budget isn't quite first class."
"And what's the plan, how long will it take?"
Arizona scoffed, dramatically dropping her head back. "Honestly, I have no idea. I've said six months but I'm not sure…I'm not convinced it will ever get written." There was a hint of sadness that edged into Arizona's voice and she stretched her neck out, repositioning herself yet again. She focussed on reaching over the table, lingering her hand. "Was that good?" she asked quietly, nodding towards the small piece of quiche remaining in Callie's fingers.
"Yeah, good. It has bacon though, so if you're not a vegetarian…"
The dimples returned. "Definitely not, and bacon, everything is good with bacon."
"Thank God for that, I might have had to get you kicked out if you were one of those vege types. My father always said, never trust a vegetarian…mind you, he also said that wearing a hat when driving saved him the hassle of using the sun visor, so his logic could be questioned."
"Well, that could make sense, to some people I suppose. I'm not sure putting a sun visor down is a huge inconvenience, but, ah, men aren't great at multi-tasking, so I've heard."
Resting back again, Arizona yawned, rubbing at the bridge of her nose. She turned her wrist and checked her watch, working hard to mentally calculate the time they had until boarding. "Still three hours," she offered, nose screwing up.
"Why don't you sleep a little? I won't let you sleep through boarding."
"Sorry, I'm not great company after all. It's been a long day, or two days."
Jumping up quickly, Callie padded barefooted to an adjacent chair, gripping a cushion by the corner. The pendant around her neck bounced against her chest as she bent over and the silk top that she wore rode slightly up her back, exposing a muscular lumbar. Arizona allowed herself to cock her head slightly, indulging a prolonged stare; it had been a long time since she had permitted herself an unfiltered fantasy. And this woman was perfect stimuli for her imagination, beautiful, robust and with lips that she could devour in seconds. She had a wry smile on her face when Callie was suddenly standing over her, perplexed. "Here, put this under your head; you're dazing out. Get some shut eye."
"Ah, thanks, yeah, thanks." Taking a final sip of a half finished glass of wine, Arizona pushed it back towards the centre of the coffee table and smiled as she took the grey coloured cushion off Callie. "Make sure you wake me. And I'll apologise in advance if I start snoring, just throw something at me."
"I promise I'll be gentler than that, " Callie said, grinning as she withdrew her iPad out of her handbag and opened the cover. By the time she checked her emails and glanced over, Arizona was sleeping soundly, mouth slightly ajar and face relaxed. Her hands were tucked up under her chin and knees drawn towards her chest; she looked calmer, peaceful almost as she slowly breathed in and out. Callie watched her quietly, hands stilled over the sides of her iPad; she could see the edges of a tattoo on the inside of Arizona's wrist, a slightly faded blue colour though she couldn't quite make out what it was. The same wrist had a handmade bracelet around it, black and red braided thread with some small patterned beads; it was dull and clearly worn and combined with the fraying jeans, it was clear that Arizona lived a very different life to Callie. Her clothes had no visible label and despite a clear lip gloss, her face was make up free.
Callie, in comparison had black eyeliner carefully applied and the mascara brush had grazed her eyelashes twice. A deep blush highlighted her cheek bones and an illuminating powder had been the final touch to multiple layers of various foundations and powders. Her lips wore a frequently applied bright red lipstick. Playing her role in living up to the family name, the expectations that had been placed on her, whether she liked it or not, as she carried their reputation on her shoulders. There was something very appealing, in the way Arizona was casually dressed and the lived in look she carried. She appeared genuine and real, authentic; nothing about her screamed façade, though Callie suspected that everything about her own presentation yelled false pretences. Maybe one day she could buy an old backpack and disappear; leave the Chanel behind and don a pair of yoga pants. Maybe she could meditate in Indonesia or attend a Hindu retreat in the crowds of India, maybe she could write a novel too, lazing around an apartment in Bruges.
Not for the first time in her life, Callie found herself envious of the freedom other people were afforded. Arizona had the luxury of making independent decisions, booking economy class tickets and blending into the hordes, going wherever and whenever. She was suddenly insanely jealous of the stranger in front of her, snoozing her way through a stopover as fate had entered her into a first class lounge. She hadn't planned it, hadn't even expected it yet she was just going along, no idea of what was next bar a loose plan to end up in Belgium with her backpack and laptop. How freeing it must be.
Callie, on the other hand, had a driver picking her up when she arrived in Edinburgh, and at a minimum, it would be a Bentley, leather interior and champagne in a chiller. The property had been staffed for a month, pending her arrival and the kitchen would be brimming, grass trimmed and horses groomed. Three boxes of belongings would be awaiting her arrival, just a range of necessities she had shipped a few weeks ago. Still, after she left Arizona in Heathrow Airport, no one would call her by her first name or joke with her about vegetarianism. Everyone would be walking on eggshells, doing whatever they could to keep her happy and content, just one bad word from Callie and their jobs could be lost or company contracts cancelled. But Arizona didn't know about all of that, and presumably wouldn't care. She didn't need to be liked by Callie, she was just someone whom she crossed paths with for twenty four hours, nothing more and nothing less.
Slowly, Callie smiled. Her wide brown eyes creased at the edges and she gave a silent laugh as Arizona released the softest of tiny snores. How incredible it must be, for Arizona to be able trust a stranger enough, to fall asleep in her presence. All of her belongings on the floor and her boarding pass on the table.
Maybe, this was the push Callie was looking for; this blond haired vision of mystery in front of her. She had a day to figure out how to be someone new, someone less like the person she was raised to be.
And more like the hauntingly stunning woman that had literally fell across her path.
AN: No offense intended to any airline...:-)