Dr. Walker, hands folded in front of her leaned forward in her chair to face them, "Are you both ready to begin?"
Shifting her gaze from the therapist, Arizona bit her lip and looked over at Callie, who was sitting in a second chair in the therapist's office. She thought it was interesting that her wife automatically moved to sit in the chair on the right, whereas she herself had always gone to sit on the chair on the left.
Brown eyes caught hers, and Callie sent her a small smile that reassured nerves that she didn't even realize she'd had. There was absolutely no reason at all to be nervous; this really couldn't do anything but help them on their already healing path they were on.
Turning her head back to Dr. Walker, she took a deep breath and nodded, "I am."
Callie cleared her throat, "Me, too."
The therapist nodded, "All right. After talking extensively with both of you in the last few months, no matter what else might be between you two, I've seen a tremendous amount of love and devotion to each other and your marriage. Which can only bring you so far, given your main problem: communication. Something I like to do when I have couples in my office is a session called laying it on the table, where both of you will speak honestly about what you want from one another. During this time, I will primarily serve as a facilitator unless it's necessary for me to step in. Does that sound like something you two might be interested in?"
What she wanted… what she wanted from Callie. All she had been thinking about was that she wanted her wife again; she hadn't once given any thought of what she had wanted from her. In a sense, she really hadn't believed she had the right to be asking for things from Callie, because she'd left their getting back together mostly on her ground.
She wanted. She wanted when felt like many things; everything from her wife. Her tongue felt thick and heavy with the words that she hadn't quite formulated yet and she found herself nodding, "I think that sounds good."
Looking at Callie, she found dark eyes flickering between both Walker and Arizona and her bottom lip trapped between her teeth, before she sat back in her chair, "I think so, too."
With that, the therapist opened her hands as if to tell them that the floor was theirs. Arizona wondered how to start; how do you just jump into making demands from someone that you just found level footing with?
"I, uh," Callie started, then cleared her throat, "I want to know that you're going to talk to me. Like, really talk to me."
Turning as much as she could in her chair to face her wife, her eyebrows drew down in confusion, "I do –" then her eyes closed as she remembered the pent up anger and resentment and whatever else had been in that maelstrom of emotions she'd tried to bottle up. And then how that bottle had blown open, which was what led to all of this in the first place.
One look at Callie's face, and she knew that was on her mind, too.
Putting her hands on her thighs, she ran them up and down lightly, "I – I never want to be back in that place that I was a few months ago, either. Keeping all of that in was…" trailing off, her eyes found the floor while she tried to search for the right way to express the way she'd felt in the aftermath. But the words escaped her, "It was horrible. And I swear, that will never happen again."
When she looked back up at Callie, she was shaking her head, "That's not… I mean, that is a part of what I meant. But it's more than just that; even before the plane, you didn't. How many times does it take until we're fighting, until we're at a breaking point, for you to tell me what's really running through your mind?"
Those dark eyes bore into hers, and it was like she was hearing every fight they'd had over in her head. Their breakup over having kids was over a year after they'd been together, and that was the first time she ever told Callie that she couldn't quite bring herself to trust her. And all of the problems she had when she'd come back from Africa, all of the doubts she'd had about Callie's commitment to only being with her… only came out when they were yelling at each other before the car crashed.
Even some smaller things, like when they'd first moved in together and she'd noticed things that Callie did that just bothered her. But she kept them in until they would get into little, sniping arguments – ones that quickly faded, but nonetheless.
Clearing her throat, she shook her head, and her voice was quieter than she intended, "I just… that's the way I am. I hold in the bad things because I'm… I should be able to just handle them." It was the way she was raised. Don't complain. Compartmentalize the bad things and shoulder as much as you can without having to burden someone else with it. That was part of being a good man in a storm – you take as much as you possibly can onto your own shoulders.
But Callie was shaking her head, "I don't want you to try to handle things without telling me. I wa – need you to tell me them. I don't need you to be the strong one in our relationship; I need you to let me be there."
She… could do that. She had done that, "I know that happens for some things, but there are other times that I have let you in and then they just backfire." Before Callie could question it, all she could hear in her own head was herself practically begging Callie not to run, months ago, "You… said you wouldn't leave. I want you to promise to not leave, again."
As soon as the words were out of her mouth, she made herself turn to look at her wife, whose mouth was hanging out, "I leave? You leave!"
Now Walker's voice shot out, "This isn't an argument; it's a discussion. Let's keep it that way."
Callie's eyes closed tightly before they reopened, her eyebrows drawn down, "You leave, Arizona," she repeated, this time quietly.
The last six months ran through her mind. Of Callie packing her suitcase and leaving their apartment, of her running away whenever something happened that she wasn't quite ready for, and she shook her head, "I know that you moving out and even taking time away from me when you needed it was for the best. But… in the future, I need you to not just walk away. When you feel like you need time, I – you can't just walk away," she finished quietly.
She couldn't go through another moment in time where Callie packed that suitcase and left. Not again.
The Callie's fingers laced together, then separated to rub at her forehead, "You didn't physically leave me, after the crash. But emotionally. Mentally. You did. And I need you not to just shut down to me."
So they both had their own ways of walking away, of bailing and hurting each other. And they both hurt, badly. "I don't want to," she admitted.
"I don't want to walk away, either," Callie's voice was low again, and had this husky tone that it took on when she was upset.
Looking up at her wife's face, her fingers ran over the fabric of her scrub pants before coming together, "So, no leaving. Not anymore. In any way."
Callie nodded, "Right," and as she did, her hand drifted down from the arm of the chair and fell in a way that it was like she was offering it out to her.
Her own fell between the chairs and reached for it, and their fingers laced in such a familiar way that they'd reacquainted themselves with in the last few weeks. As Callie's thumb traced a light pattern into the back of her hand, she sighed, "I want us to reconnect again." As she swallowed hard, she added on, "And I need to know that my hands don't make you think about Lauren's, anymore."
Her wife lifted their intertwined fingers holding them up between them, "I don't. I just feel you."
Three weeks later
Her breathing was already laboring in and out of her lungs, and it was all because Callie's lips were on her neck, pressing into a barely there touch on the spot on her neck, right under her ear that always made her aroused. And even though it hadn't been touched in over six months, she found that Callie still knew exactly where it was and that it still worked.
Her head fell back with a surprised groan as teeth grazed it, and her hands lifted almost of their own accord, going in the direction of her wife's chest – just barely grazing the tops of her breasts through her shirt – before they clenched tightly into fists, "Is this okay?"
"Yes," Callie breathed out against her throat, her mouth shifting, moving downwards, pressing open mouthed kisses on the column of her neck before pausing against her and letting out a low moan that Arizona was sure was a sound that only her wife could make.
They were on her bed in her apartment, after just returning from a date. For the last few weeks, they'd turned Monday and Thursday nights into date nights. And date nights had also turned into overnights, usually at her apartment. But they hadn't – her whimper broke through the room as Callie's hands slipped under the bottom of her shirt and as her wife's mouth lifted and she knew Callie was going to ask permission, she just nodded quickly, "Yes, yes, it's okay," – they hadn't had sex.
They were trying to get onto a deeper level before they reintroduced sex into their lives. Arizona was positive that if they stopped right now, tonight, she was going to explode. Callie's forehead pressed into her shoulder, her hand coming to palm Arizona through her bra just as the blonde's hand found a hard nipple.
God, she had missed this. Then, as Callie's other hand pressed under her, sliding under her butt and gripping it as her palm moved in a circle, she cried out. She'd missed this even more.
Her hands moved away from Callie's breasts, outwards, grasping at the material of her shirt and tugging, and then her wife mirrored the movement. Blue eyes latched onto the her heaving chest and she was pretty positive her mouth watered at the sight before she shook her head and looked into those dark eyes, "If – if you're not ready, we should probably stop. Because I…" wanted to devour her whole.
Callie shook her head quickly, "No, I – if you're positive that you're ready for this, then I am. Absolutely sure."
It had been over six months since they'd had sex and her body was positively screaming for Callie. And it was an even better feeling that it had been before everything had happened between them. Because she didn't have these little doubts running through her head, and her eyes fell to the sheets between them for a second, "I… before, a part of me kept thinking that you were staying with me out of obligation, because I wasn't – whole. And even when you told me that I was still beautiful… I felt like you were saying it because you had to."
Callie shifted, and brought her hand up to Arizona's cheek, making her look back up, "Arizona, you have never been anything but whole and beautiful to me."
The best thing was, Arizona believed her now, "I know. And I know that I'm so, so sure that I want to do this tonight. Maybe even more than once."
She just saw the flash of Callie's smile as her lips descended and crashed back down to Arizona's, mouths opening simultaneously, and she thought she could die happy as long as she had Callie's taste in her mouth, as their hips rocked against each other's, hands tracing over skin.
She shivered as Callie's fingers ran lightly over her skin at her waist, right above her pants, and she pulled back, disconnecting their mouths, panting, "Not slow. Not this time. Next time. Is that –"
Callie groaned, "Yes," and Arizona didn't know how it happened so fast, but both of their pants were gone in seconds, as was her prosthetic.
And her wife's hand massaged against her leg after she took it off, and the feeling made her fall onto her back on the sheets. Her first reaction wasn't to flinch away, and that was just… the best feeling. Then Callie's hand moved to cup her center, and her eyes rolled back – no, that was the best feeling.
Six months. Six months, she thought as those talented fingers slid through her wetness. This was not going to take long, at all. As her heart pounded in her chest, she panted, "You, up here," because her fingers were itching to feel her wife the way she was feeling her.
Callie was above her again, her hand still between Arizona's legs. As she brought her mouth back to Arizona's neck, she managed to slip her own hand between them, and into her wife. Their rhythm was frantic, backed by hips and thighs as thumbs rubbed at clits in fast circles, and when she felt like she was going to fall over the edge, she brought her hand up and fisted in dark hair, making those full lips stop working magic on her neck and to look at her.
Brown eyes were nearly black and she could feel Callie's breath shudder over her face, and all it took was for her to moan out, "Arizona," before her orgasm hit her, toes curling as, "Calliope!" fell from her lips.
Callie fell into her own release moments later, then her body melted down on top of hers. As she felt her wife's heart beat against her own chest, she heard her murmur, "Calliope?"
A smile spread across her own lips, as she stroked her hands down her back, "Yes. Calliope."
Arizona closed her eyes, then reopened them quickly, "I want to be married, again. I want… our marriage. Really, married."
Callie's relieved sigh reached her ears, "Yes."
Two days later
"I thought you said you wanted to be married again?" Callie asked, her hands on her hips, eyebrow arched.
Running her hand through her hair, her eyes focused on her wedding ring on the kitchen table. Only minutes ago had they both thrown out the divorce papers together, at the same time. And then Arizona had taken the wedding ring that she'd put on her wife's finger almost three years ago, and slid it back on.
But now she balked at the idea of hers, "I do! And I want to wear a ring to symbolize it, but… maybe not that ring." As her heart pounded, all she could think about was that night, and that look on Callie's face, "That ring is just… it's a constant reminder of that night. You don't know how you looked when you saw it pinned to the top, but I do."
Callie was quiet for a few moments, "Maybe I don't know what I looked like, Arizona, but I know what I felt like."
Her eyebrows drew down, "And you still want me to wear it? It just has those… bad memories."
But Callie refused, "Arizona, no. These rings have been with us through the bad things and that's the point! I'm going to put on this ring and I want you to wear that ring because these are the rings we wore when we got married. Our marriage is… these rings are through the good and the bad times. We went through a bad time. But we also worked through it." She reached toward the table and picked the ring up in her fingers, slowly rolling it, "We've been through a lot. And we just don't get to come out of it shiny and new. Neither do our rings." Her hand reached down to toy with Arizona's fingers, but she didn't slide the ring on. Instead, she slowly lowered her hand, "But if you don't want this ring, then I'm not going to force you; we can go find new ones. For both of us."
Arizona flipped her hand over to grasp her fingers at Callie's, "No, wait." Her other hand reached down to take her wife's so that she could look at the ring, too. It might have been the catalyst to revealing her infidelity, but it was also… their wedding vows. And in their family photos with Sofia. Their marriage was a journey, and she lifted her hand up, offering it to her wife, "I want it."
Just as Callie slid it on, her eyes focused on the necklace that she'd clasped behind the brunette's neck right before they'd gotten on the discussion of rings, and she was wearing her own. This was a good thing.
And when the ring came to settle in it's place on her finger, it didn't feel like an entrapment, the way it sometimes had after the crash. It felt… good.
As Callie's hand tightened around hers, she said, "But I also want… some changes."
Arizona's mind started to scramble, searching for what Callie might mean by those changes, "Like what?"
"I just think that it's time that we move forward, in some areas," she said, taking a deep breath before she started to explain.
Four months later
Sweating, exhausted, and muscles a little sore, Arizona fell next to Callie onto the couch, letting her head fall onto her shoulder as a pretend cry escaped through her lips, "If I never see another moving box again in my life, I will die happy."
Callie groaned as she lifted her arm, then dropped it around the blonde's shoulders, "Luckily, I don't foresee us having to move again aaanytime in the near future."
They were surrounded by boxes, most of them having been opened and partially unpacked, but the only room they had completely prepared was Sofia's. Their daughter, after all of the excitement of moving day – moving to her new bigger room with her new walls that were painted, much to Callie's chagrin, pink – had played with exactly one toy in her new room before falling asleep.
And then they had spent the rest of the night going through boxes. But it was very ambitious of them to believe they could get done as much as they wanted to get done. They'd started house hunting months ago, and as luck would have it, they found this one in the beginning of their search.
The previous owners were anxious to move to the east coast where their son lived with their new grandchild, so the process had gone extremely smoothly. It was a two story, with bigger bedrooms for them and Sofia, with a third bedroom as well. The downstairs was spacious with archways between the living room, dining room, and kitchen.
This had been part of "the dream" – buy a big house. But then… the breakup had happened, and then Africa had happened, and then the car accident, and then the plane crash. But Callie had been absolutely correct: they'd outgrown their apartment. Individually and together, and it was also time to move on and away from Mark's old place, too.
And now Sof had a yard to run around in, and they'd already bought a swing set that was going to be delivered next week. This was their home, the house that they'd bought together to begin the new chapter of their life.
Now they sat in their chairs, looking at one another with small grins on their faces, and Arizona felt so… light. Because it seemed that what they wanted were the same things. They wanted things that they could do together.
Then Callie gently squeezed her hand and looked just past Arizona's shoulder before she said, "I think… in order to do any of this, that I need to know that you are truly over me making the call to cut off your leg."
As she nodded, words left her mouth before she had even really processed them, "And I need to know that you won't use Lauren against me."
They stared at each other for a few seconds and Arizona could feel her heart hammering in her chest. She hadn't fully meant to say the words, but they were true. She knew Callie forgave her for sleeping with Lauren; she knew that there was no way those words would have left her wife's mouth if she didn't mean them. But just because she wanted to be back with Callie and they were both making these strides now didn't mean that she thought they weren't bound to have fights in the future.
Just like she knew that when they fought, their tensions ran high and they could both say things that they sometimes didn't mean. But she couldn't have her infidelity thrown back in her face; she didn't think she could handle it.
It was Callie who spoke first, only breaking their eye contact for just a second as she closed her eyes the way she did when she was searching for words, "I won't use your infidelity against you. I don't… want to bring it up ever."
Her eyes snapped to Callie's dark ones, holding, "I… that's something I need you to promise. I need us to move on from that."
"Just like I need you to promise you'll never bring up your leg. You said you've forgiven it; gotten over it," she said, her voice quiet but her fingers still holding on, which made Arizona glad, "I can promise to leave behind your infidelity if you can promise me this."
She found herself nodding, "Yes." Because she had forgiven Callie and she didn't look at her leg and hate herself or her life or anyone else, now. "So, those two topics are just off limits."
Dr. Walker tapped her fingers lightly on the desk, which somehow still drew both of their attention, "All right," apparently it was her time to step in, "What I'm noticing here is that most of what you two both want is the same. You both want to move forward in your relationship, as partners on equal ground again. Would you say this is accurate?"
Arizona dug her fingers into her thighs once more, taking in a deep breath before relaxing and moving her hands up to the arm rests on either side of her, "Yes. For me, that's what I want."
Hearing Callie shift in her chair, blue eyes turned to face her, just in time to see her nod. Her wife's voice was low as she agreed, "Me too. I want to be a family again."
Six months later
Arizona was exhausted. As she shut and locked the front door behind her, she stopped at the hallway closet and took off her jacket then put her bag on the low shelves they'd had installed there.
Instead of turning to go upstairs, where she assumed Callie would be, because it was hours after Sofia's bedtime and she liked to watch movies late at night in their bed, she went to the kitchen to find leftovers that her wife had made for dinner. Today had just been a long day at the hospital. Such a long, long day. And she was starving and her leg was a little sore – maybe she'd ask Callie for a massage, she thought idly, as she flicked on the light to the kitchen.
Then jumped back, hand over her heart as she saw Callie already sitting at the counter, "Calliope! What – god, you gave me a heart attack."
Callie's low laugh floated up to her ears, "I'm sorry. I was waiting for you." She pushed a glass of wine across the counter in Arizona's direction.
As she started walking over to take it, she asked, "Well? How was it? How was Sof's big day?"
That morning, before her shift had started at the hospital, she and Callie and brought their daughter for her first day in preschool. It was a private school, which they'd both agreed on, as Callie had gone to private schools her whole life and Arizona had gone to schools on military posts.
She had found Callie's nerves in dropping their daughter off adorable, and she'd smiled at her over Sofia's head as she little girl pulled them along excitedly into the building, mouthing, "Don't worry."
They'd discussed this weeks in advance, when her wife had first shared her nerves over dropping Sofia off. Arizona had tried to remind Callie that they dropped Sofia off in daycare every day; this really wasn't that different. But then Callie had paced back and forth in their bedroom and told her that when Sofia was in daycare in the hospital, they could go see her whenever they wanted, any time of day.
This school was closer to their house than to the hospital – even so, it was less than a twenty minute drive either way – and Arizona had tried to assure her of that. And that no matter what happened, if something did happen to Sofia at the school, they would call them.
Her assurances didn't work, and Callie was still adorably nervous.
Then, as they'd helped Sofia put her oversized backpack and raincoat into the cubby with her name on it and talked to the teacher, Arizona also felt a little resistant to leave. She might have been a few minutes late for her shift by the time she and Callie had managed to pull themselves and each other away.
Callie gave her a huge smile, "I picked her up right on time and she didn't even want to come home; she had the best day."
With a small frown, she took a sip of wine, "I'm mad that I missed it." After another sip, she put the glass down, "I wanted to hear all of her stories! I might just go peek in on her real quick," but before she could start to leave the kitchen, Callie got off the stool she was sitting on, and tan arms wrapped around her waist.
Then she turned them to face the direction of the fridge, and Callie whispered into her ear, "This is what Sof did today."
And Arizona's heart melted. She of course had received drawings from many, many children over the years. The thank-you drawings and cards all held a special place in her heart. But her daughter's drawings were just that much more special.
Stuck with alphabet magnets low on the refrigerator was a piece of white paper, with large, extremely messy handwriting that read MY FAMLEE across the top. There were three stick figures, easily recognizable despite their daughter's age, as Callie was drawn with her dark hair and brown eyes, and so was Sofia. And in between her stick figure daughter and wife, was the blonde stick figure with blue eyes and dots that served as dimples on her cheeks, holding both of their hands.
They were a real, whole, healed family. Finally.
Please let me know what you thought! This was the last chapter of Fractured, and I'm so, so glad that so many people enjoyed the story. After the finale, I needed to write something healing for myself and I'm grateful for how many people went on this journey with me!