Today was the day she had been looking forward to for twenty years. Today was the day that she was going to walk across that hallowed mahogany stage and she would become a doctor. In just a few hours, she was going to be Dr. Calliope Iphigenia Torres.
The teasing that she had endured in high school for her geekiness and love of science classes, the nights she had stayed in studying instead of going out and partying with her freshmen year undergrad roommate, and the sleepless, painful hours she had spent slaving over textbooks and late night study sessions… it all paid off this afternoon, when she would walk across the stage at her commencement ceremony and receive that degree.
Ever since she and Aria had been playing in their mother's rose gardens, when she was seven and her little sister was six. They were in the center of the extremely well kept garden, in which a large circular terrace contained built in marble benches, each one several feet away from the next. Felix, being the oldest at eight years old and the only boy in their trio, challenged them to be able to jump from one bench to the next.
He had attempted, and failed. Then Callie herself tried, and failed. And then Aria, a full head shorter than both of the older kids, had stood a far distance back on one bench, eyeing the other one, before she ran in an all-out sprint, ending on a leap. Callie and Felix had watched in amazement as the little pixie of a girl seemed to fly through the air, legs flailing as if they were still running.
Only to fall short of the desired bench by inches, her landing disastrous, with one kicking foot catching on the edge of the bench, the other twisting painfully beneath her. All of the sudden, Aria was screaming and blood was pooling on the ground. Felix ran for their mother, and Callie stayed with her.
While they all waited for an ambulance, Lucia had taken the youngest girl in her arms, turning her so that she was lying on her back and Felix had held her hand. And Callie… she had stood, absolutely transfixed as her little sister's bone was visible. The way her leg had twisted under her broke her leg in two places and the bone was sticking out.
She couldn't stop staring. She and her mother had ridden in the ambulance and the entire way, she watched carefully the EMT's hands as they worked to help her sister. Throughout her sister's many doctors' appointments over the next few months, she went to every single one of them. Without understanding a word what the doctor was saying, without understanding what the x-rays meant, she was transfixed.
That was it for her. She might not have been able to fully grasp what all of the technical medical things meant, but she knew that the bones her sister had broken were what made her able to walk correctly. Bones held humans together, they let them walk and talk and – and do everything. And when they broke, doctors touched them and fixed them.
Today was the day that she was going to be a doctor. She – she was going to be able to touch and fix bones – people.
Today was also the day that marked the last day that she and Arizona could hide behind any sort of excuses to not think about the reality that was going to be on them in just over a month. And during that month, Callie was going to have to make herself several trips to and from Baltimore.
The reality was that she was going to be living four hundred miles away while the woman she loved would be living here. The reality was that their relationship had been strained when Arizona had started her residency, while they had both lived in the same city. The reality sucked.
So there were twin peaks inside of her, one that was long standing and tall and powerful, that rushed through her veins. She was so proud of herself and happy and relieved that this day was here and that all of the hard work she had put in was worth it. Everything she had done over the years, was worth it.
But then there was that feeling that laced in with the pride and the happiness and excitement. That feeling of the reality of the relationship she had painstakingly built in the last two years with Arizona, completely changing.
As music pumped through the bedroom, and she stared at herself in the mirror, she shook her head. The last two months had been spent with both of them living in a purposeful ignorance of the impending fate life had delivered to them: what was the point in constantly talking about it, bringing it up when nothing they did or said was going to change the basic fact that there was no way around Callie leaving?
Her residency was at Johns Hopkins. It was at a world renowned hospital and she couldn't deny that there was, in that tower of happiness and pride inside of her – she had gotten into one of the best medical residency programs there was. It was a good thing.
But whenever she got excited about it, actually excited, she remembered that the mornings where she woke up with her face buried in soft blonde waves and a talented, deft hand cupping her boob were gone. That going to bed after feeling her girlfriend inside of her and herself inside of her girlfriend, were over. That those bright, cerulean eyes that positively lit up when she had a story to tell or when she would quietly whisper I love you, sincerity laced into her tone, weren't going to be looking at her every day.
And then she felt gutted.
Sighing, she shook her head at herself in the mirror and reached her hands up to muss her hair a bit, preparing the curls she'd put into the dark locks for the graduation cap that would be donning them soon.
Suddenly, the music she'd been playing, the powerful love ballads by Latino singers of the years before her birth that her mom had played while she'd been growing up, cut off. Jumping, she turned around, her mouth falling open at the sight of Arizona leaning against the doorway, her arms crossed, wearing a white sundress and a smile.
Her stomach flipped as a grin broke out over her own face – then dimmed a little, because she realized there weren't going to be times like this soon. Because they wouldn't be living together.
Shaking those thoughts out of her head, she drank in the sight of her girlfriend, who looked really fucking fantastic, "What are you doing here?"
Her eyes darted to the clock of their own accord, just to make sure that her mind wasn't playing tricks on her, and it really was still an hour before she had to be at graduation. Arizona's shift had been scheduled until later this afternoon, right after the commencement ceremony was supposed to end, actually.
The blonde crossed her arms over her chest, her mouth falling open playfully, "Calliope, did you really think I was going to miss your graduation? I pulled some strings and got some things switched around."
Pure delight slid through her and she crossed the room to lace her fingers with Arizona's, pulling her up for a hard, fast kiss, because whenever she thought about the upcoming residency that was bearing down on them, it made her desperate for Arizona's touch and taste. And then she pulled back, running her eyes down her girlfriend's body, the dress fabric and cut making her look… kind of like a goddess, "You look amazing. This was definitely pre-planned," she said slowly, giving the blonde a suspicious look.
Arizona lifted her eyebrows in that way that made her look adorably guilty and innocent at the same time, "First of all, I look amazing?" Blue eyes ran down her body, making her shiver as they darkened just a little bit, "And second of all, of course it was pre-planned; my shift was changed two weeks ago. My awesomely brilliant girlfriend is graduating today!"
Callie narrowed her eyes as the blonde's white teeth dug into her full bottom lip and her hands started to shake just for a second before Arizona pulled back and disconnected them, "What's going on?"
Her girlfriend's mouth opened and closed once, then twice, and her eyes were darting around the room, avoiding looking at Callie, before her shoulders, the creamy skin of them revealed by the filmy, soft straps of her dress, slumped just a little bit, "I was going to – this was all going to be a surprise!"
Lowering her eyebrows in confusion, she shook her head, "You coming to my graduation is a surprise. I'm glad I was spoiled by seeing you early." Because really, every moment they could spend together in the last month was a moment both of them had been taking full advantage of.
But Arizona shook her head, "No, not just… the beginning of the surprise was going to be me at your graduation, but there was more. There is more. But I don't want it to wait, because – we need to talk. We can't keep not talking about it."
Here it was, she thought, her heart sinking down into her stomach, and the combination of the two made her feel like she was going to be sick. They had so steadfastly avoided talking about what they were going to do, "Can't we at least not talk about it for one more night? Just this one more night," she said, and she couldn't help the begging tone her voice took on.
She wanted one more night where she didn't feel like she was going to have to be separated from her girlfriend for reasons out of their control. A night where she could just be happy about graduating from medical school and where they could go out and have dinner with her dad, and her sister's family, and Arizona's parents. A night where she could come home and touch her girlfriend's body like they had all of the time in the world to lounge in their bed and have slow, torturous orgasms.
But a blonde head shook, and those penetrating blue eyes looked at her like she was kidding herself, "We've already not talked about it for too long. Two months of not talking, is too long, especially when it comes to this. To us."
Arizona reached her hands out to land on Callie's hips, her thumbs automatically stroking circles into the soft fabric of the Latina's dress and walking her backwards until she hit the bed, and Callie's knees gave in, and she fell ungracefully into her butt while Arizona stood in front of her, hands on her hips.
And as she stood there, Callie felt an unbelievably strong feeling of uncertainty come over her. She knew how much her girlfriend loved her, was in love with her. It was in every look, every touch, every word she sent her way. But neither of their feelings was called into question right now. It wasn't about love.
"Sometimes love just isn't enough, is it?" she asked, her breath catching in her throat, the words choking her.
They made Arizona stop dead in her pacing tracks and stare at her, face paling, "Well. That is the opposite point I was going to make. For some people, love isn't enough, but for us… I feel like it is. It has to be."
Her words made Callie's heart beat faster, her stomach flutter, but she shut her eyes, "Arizona, you don't even believe in long distance relationships. You've told me several times before… and this isn't just long distance, its long distance while both of us work at least eighty hour weeks at demanding jobs. It was going to be tough enough for us with me doing my residency here, but now that that's not going to happen..." she trailed off, because she just couldn't finish her thoughts.
She had thought that her attempt at breaking up with Arizona last summer had been the hardest thing she was going to have to do, and she didn't think it was possible for her to have fallen even more in love with Arizona than she was then. But somehow, in the last nine months, that was proven false, because she felt like there was something more that she could fall in love with every day.
The blonde walked forward, pressing her finger against Callie's lips, effectively stopping her from speaking any more words that could possibly come out, "That's enough. So, I never particularly believed that long distance relationships could work. But after Joanne, I never believed that I was going to find someone who made me feel so completely whole. I never thought that I would fall in love so deeply that I couldn't even imagine my life without another person. I didn't believe those things, until I met you, Calliope. Long distance… sucks. It sucks, but I want to find a way to do it, for you. For us."
She felt herself nodding along with her girlfriend's words but her heart was just beating too fast for her to say anything. And then Arizona hitched up her dress just a bit, revealing more of the smooth skin of her thighs as she pushed herself onto Callie's lap. Her hands came up to Arizona's waist, steadying her, as her girlfriend continued.
"And honestly… yeah, we aren't going to be able to see each other that often for the next year, but I'm not kidding when I tell you that if you go to Hopkins and find that you love it so much you don't want to leave, I am going to transfer there. Or if you want to come back, then you transfer somewhere here. How would breaking up solve any of our problems?" those deep blue eyes probed hers, searching for answers, as Arizona's weight settled on top of her thighs and her legs folded completely on either side of her.
Unable to control her actions, she leaned forward just a little bit and brushed her lips over Arizona's. The touch was barely a whisper over soft lips, but she didn't pull away to tell her, "I don't think it would. Because I wouldn't date anyone else, and either way, I think it's just going to be miserable. But if we break up… I just don't think it would do anything. At least if we stay together then we can just find ways to make it work, right?"
Pale hands lightly played with the dark curls that fell to her mid-back and Arizona nodded with a small smile on her face, "So, this is part of what I was going to tell you as a surprise. But, well, I want you to be happy about Hopkins. At least, as happy as you can be, which I understand might not be that much because I have the same terrible, sick feeling in my own stomach that you probably do. I hate knowing that in a month, I'm not going to be able to come back from work and walk in on you singing power ballads in Spanish in our bedroom. But you need to focus on the good things, too. And there will be good things."
Arizona slid one of her hands down, interlocking their fingers and lifting them up, skimming her lips over Callie's fingertips, "These fingers, are going to hold a scalpel in them. You're going to do surgeries and you're going to get new experiences, and I know from my own experience that Hopkins is awesome. There are going to be some nights where you will get home from your shift and you'll be so tired, you won't even be thinking clearly enough to register that I'm not in bed with you."
Her tone was cheery and convincing, but Callie knew that neither one of them believed that particular statement. But she let it go, because she knew Arizona was just trying to make both of them feel better.
"And… okay, don't tell anyone in either of our families that I told you this, because we've all been planning it for over a month, but I don't want to wait to tell you," Arizona started, hedging around the topic, and scrunching up her nose just a bit before shaking it and getting that mischievous glint in her eyes, leaning her head in so that her mouth was right next to Callie's ear, "Your dad and I found an apartment for you. It's nice – you're going to like it – and it's right down the street from the hospital. Aria and I picked out furniture – don't worry, she chose the colors. And my parents have been helping put it all together."
Callie could feel her mouth falling open in shock, and she pulled back just a little bit, "What?"
Her girlfriend sent her the cutest smile as she nodded, "We all know it's going to be hard, for both of us. But at least I'll be here in our apartment. So… we were going to surprise you and show you all of the pictures of everything tonight at dinner, but I wanted to tell you first. And I want you to know that you are less than an hour away from my parents, so it's not like you won't have anyone down there. My mom is already planning on coming to visit you at least once a week; in fact, you'll probably get sick of her –"
Arizona started to ramble in the way that only she could do, and Callie slid her hands from their hold on her waist, up to slide into her hair, then bringing her down and cutting off her talking by connecting their lips. This time, she parted the blonde's lips with her tongue and it wasn't feather light. She moaned at the taste of her, and she just really loved her so much…
Her girlfriend was the one to pull back, and Callie could feel both of her hands fisted against her back, as she panted a little bit, "Calliope, we need to stop. Because my hands wants to dive into your perfectly curled hair and ruin it, and whenever we talk about you leaving – whenever I think about it, really – I want to have you, and I can't take you right now because you are graduating soon and we just don't have time."
She felt a laugh come out of her, and she knew that the husky tone of it was what caused the blonde to get visible goose bumps on her skin, "I love you. And, so, we'll do a year apart. One of us will have to transfer – there's no question about it – but we can do it."
The blonde nodded quickly, her wavy hair bouncing with the movement as she slowly slid back and touched her feet back onto the floor, standing up and offering her hands down to take Callie's, "We can. We've done so much in the last two years, Calliope. We can do anything. What is a year when I want to be with you forever?"
Sometimes she thought that Arizona could actually make her heart melt, and she locked their fingers together, letting herself be pulled up to stand as her girlfriend dropped one of her hands to reach out for the box that was on the dresser that contained her cap and gown, "I guess if we're thinking in terms of a lifetime, it's not that long."
They started out of the apartment, locking it as they went, and Arizona looked at her solemnly, "It's absolutely not long at all. We've already been together for longer than that. Sometimes, I feel like I've blinked and our entire relationship has gone by just like that. So, let's just try to think that that's how this next year will be, all right?"
They continued on their way to the commencement ceremony and before they separated for her to go inside, she made them stop, lifting her free hand to touch Arizona's face lightly, her thumb coming to lightly press against her chin, "I love you. So much. And I love how you can think on the bright side even when I'm having trouble."
The blonde sent her a grin, "Well, it's not easy being cheerful, Calliope. And besides, I have thought of three simple things for us to utilize in the next year to keep us going: phone calls, skype, and visits."
Stooping just slightly to press a soft kiss to her lips, she whispered, "I'm sure we'll make do."
Arizona lifted her hands to adjust her cap, just so, "You look beautiful, Calliope. You're going to rock graduation. Hopkins won't know what hit them. I love you."
"I love you, too," she responded, then, trying to quell the butterflies in her stomach, she turned and went to sit in her given spot. Where her life was going to change, so soon.
In the beginning of the ceremony, the dean of medicine stood to face the crowd, "Would all those graduating today from Harvard Medical School please rise for a reciting of the Physician's Oath?" Her stomach clenched tightly in anticipation, excitement, a thrill rushing through her as she stood, silently mouthing the words along with the dean, "I solemnly pledge myself to consecrate my life to the service of humanity; I will give to my teachers the respect and gratitude which is their due; I will practice my profession with conscience and dignity; The health of my patients will be my number one consideration; I will respect the secrets that are confided in me, even after my patient has died; I will maintain by all the means in my power, the honor and the noble traditions of the medical profession; My colleagues will be my brothers and sisters; I will not permit considerations of religion, nationality, race, gender, politics, socioeconomic standing, or sexual orientation to intervene between my duty and my patient; I will maintain the utmost respect for human life; even under threat, I will not use my medical knowledge contrary to the laws of humanity; I make these promises solemnly, freely and upon my honor."
The power of saying those words rushed through her, and as the procession of names started to be called, she twisted her hands together in her lap, biting her lip. This was it. This was the day she was waiting for her whole life.
Turning in her seat and looking up into the crowd, she sought out a pair of blue eyes that she knew would be watching her. As she met them, Arizona sent her a bright, dimpled smile and mouthed, "I love you!"
So maybe she didn't imagine herself moving to Baltimore for her residency, but in the beginning of med school, she didn't imagine herself in love with a woman, so in love that she would do anything for her. Sometimes things didn't go as planned, but maybe that made them all the better.
And within the next year, she found that Arizona's three steps to keeping their relationship alive worked. Phone calls, skyping, and in-person visits would, indeed, make them go very far in continuing their relationship despite the four hundred mile difference between them
Callie laid in bed, waiting for Arizona to answer her phone. It was the night after her first shift of residency and the two of them agreed that, in order to make the distance easier to manage, they shouldn't skype for at least the entire week.
But she'd only been gone for three days so far, and she was already in withdrawal from not seeing Arizona's face. Eyelids drooping, she kept them open so she could look at the picture of her girlfriend she had set up on her bedside table as the blonde picked up the phone, "Calliope! I didn't think you were going to have enough energy to call tonight."
She sighed sleepily into the receiver, taking in one last look at the blue eyes and dimples smiling back at her from the picture frame, and keeping the image in her mind, "I needed to hear you." They hadn't spoken since Arizona had called her in the morning of the beginning of her shift, which was nearly two days ago.
"I needed to hear you, too," Arizona admitted in a whisper, which told Callie that she was at the hospital and not in a private place, "How was your first shift?"
She thought back to the five care pileup that had taken place a few streets over from the hospital. On her very first shift, she had seen a woman come in with her carpal bones completely revealed. She had touched bones on her very first day, and the memory made her smile, "It was good. The only bad thing is that I missed you."
She heard Arizona move in the background, and a door swung closed behind her, the blonde not whispering anymore, "I missed you, too. But I just keep telling myself that missing you is good, because the longer it goes without me seeing you, the quicker our visit is going to come. Right?"
Yawning widely, her eyes watering even as they were closed, she felt any tension that was in her body relax away at hearing Arizona's voice, "Right."
The blonde's low chuckle in her ear made her snuggle in closer to the phone, "Calliope, you are falling sleep on the phone."
She was already in that place between consciousness and sleep, and she didn't deny it, "I know, but I want to hear you. Just… stay with me til I fall asleep, okay?"
Arizona's smile was evident through her voice and Callie knew that if they were together, she would be stroking her fingers through her hair, "Okay, baby."
Their first skype sex session was unscheduled, and it happened almost two months in. Phone sex was something they had both become intimately familiar with, but there was something strange about having sex via watching each other via webcam.
At least, that's what Arizona kept saying, but Callie, at this point, was desperate, "Arizona, sweetie, just lower your camera." She intended for her words to be coaxing, but they were much more demanding and pleading.
They were both already naked in their respective beds, and Callie could see the way her girlfriend's chest was heaving as her breathing was heavy. She already had one hand between her own legs, stroking over her own clit lightly. It wouldn't take her long to finish herself off; since she had had to start getting herself off more often than not, it never took long, especially when Arizona's voice was in her ear, whispering dirty words to her.
And she knew it was going to be even better seeing her, even if it was only via webcam. A whimper came out of the back of her throat as Arizona lowered her laptop to rest on her lower stomach so Callie had a perfect view of her breasts. It didn't take much longer than that for her girlfriend to start getting more into it, especially when she realized that this was going to be mutually beneficial for her, as Callie lowered her own laptop to rest between her legs.
It was discovered that while they would both much rather have themselves and each other come while at the hands and tongue of her girlfriend, the next best thing was to be able to physically see it happening. She always knew that Arizona was just about to fall over the edge and into her release when the tip of her pink tongue would peek out the side of her mouth, and her fingers would roll at and pinch her nipple, and then her fingers stopped thrusting and stayed buried deep inside of herself.
They became masters of coming together and literally learned every visual and auditory sign of the other person right before she was caught in the throes of orgasm.
Then there was the last time Arizona came to visit Callie. Because of both of their hectic schedules, they managed to see each other in person, on average, once every month. Sometimes once every month and a half. It wasn't ideal or perfect – nothing about their situation was – but it made both of them take advantage of every second of every two or three day span they had with each other.
This last visit came in April. Callie had Arizona pinned to the door of her bedroom, the blonde's legs wrapped around her waist while her pants hung off of one ankle, and she had her hands locked above her head, pressed against the doorframe, fingers locked together tightly as her hand pumped in and out of slick heat. It barely took Arizona a minute to claw her free hand at Callie's back, her center tightening around her, her voice strangled as she cried out, "Calliope!"
Heart pounding, she let Arizona's legs fall to the ground, as she breathed just as hard as the blonde. Eventually, as her girlfriend nuzzled her nose into the skin of her neck, she inhaled deeply, "God, the clothes you send me don't do you justice."
They were back on that routine they'd been on in the beginning of their relationship where Callie would give Arizona her pajamas, the Calliope smelling pajamas, and Arizona would give her the old ones, that smelled like her. Once a week, they would mail them back and forth, and neither one of them gave a damn if it was strange; it made them feel closer at night and had helped them get through the last ten months.
She let out a low laugh, then pressed her lips against her girlfriend's neck, "I'm going to apologize in advance for getting a little… overzealous." The several love bites she'd given on that neck were already starting to form.
But Arizona simply shrugged, "Did it look like I was complaining?"
"Hmm," she thought of the pleasured groans and squeals she'd just elicited from the blonde, "Nope."
Arizona had been about to respond when a realization had hit her, "Oh my god! Oh my god! I can't believe… well, I can believe I forgot, because as soon as I came in here, you had me up against the door and your fingers and you mouth… but I have something for you."
She wiggled out of Callie's grasp, and bent down to retrieve the pants she had just kicked off, fishing around in her pockets, and pulling out a folded envelope. With the biggest smile she'd been wearing in quite some time, she presented the envelope to her girlfriend, "For you, Calliope. I had to beg to get the privilege to give it to you in person."
Feeling excitement rush through her, she'd torn open the letter and skimmed her eyes over it. A smile took over her own face as Arizona threw her arms around her neck, pressing her lips against Callie's earlobe and whispering, "Welcome back to Boston, baby."
Her acceptance letter from Mass Gen, coming a year later than expected. But she thought her year at Hopkins had been good to her. Then she looked into those sparkling blue eyes, "I think it's going to be great to be back."
Please let me know what you think! Thank you so much to everyone who has made this journey with me; writing and completing this story has brought me a lot of ups and downs, and I can't even tell you how much I appreciate you all sticking with it for 49 chapters! I have the sequel (The Best Laid Plans: Expect the Unexpected) planned to start anytime within a few weeks, definitely before the next month goes by. So, if you're interested in it, keep an eye out!