According to Arizona's watch, the storm has been raging for well over twelve hours now, nine of those with the power out. Seven of the nine have had her bagging babies by hand while reassuring terrified parents that everything is absolutely fine. Factoring in that she started her shift nearly a full day ago, and she's been on her feet for almost twenty-one hours.
Keeping it together for the sake of the families is utterly exhausting. It's almost four in the morning and she's leaning every last ounce of weight into the incubator housing the Johnson's baby boy, flexing her dominant hand every second, hoping like hell that she doesn't look as horrible as she feels. Alex keeps shooting her weird looks that she's pretty sure are supposed to be concerning, but if she takes her eyes away from her charge, then she's afraid of her hand cramping up.
"You will not believe the day I've had so far," Callie announces as she enters the room, and Arizona jumps at the sudden voice over her shoulder
She manages to smile, responding with a soft, "Hey, Callie," while keeping her eyes forward.
One one-thousand, two one-thousand...
Callie tilts her head as she takes in the parents on active duty; the rational order of her wife's department remains undisturbed despite the miniature hurricane raging outside. It's impressive. Then she studies Arizona herself and sees that not everything is flowing as smoothly as it appears.
"I'm fine, just tired," Arizona lies, knowing the expression Callie is shooting her well. Even as the words leave her mouth, she can't help but grimace and shift in place, desperate to ease some of the pressure throbbing away in her leg.
"No, you're not fine," Callie begins, though she stops short as the parents two incubators down shoot them an almost feral look. Holding things together in a time of crisis is Arizona's specialty, and it's easy to see how she's let that take priority in this particular situation. Especially when the room is chock full of panic-prone individuals that want to nothing more than to protect their offspring.
"Let me help," she says instead, lowering her voice and taking a step closer. She rests her hand over top of Arizona's and waits for the inevitable argument, only this time it doesn't come. Arizona slips her fingers away and lets Callie take over without protest.
"Damn it," Arizona curses, moving to the side without easing her grip on the machine. A bead of sweat trickles down her forehead and she wipes it away with the back of her hand. "We're gonna need more people soon."
"I think we've got everything under control," Callie replies in the most reassuring of voices, for any eavesdropping listeners as well as her wife. "You should go lie down, Dr. Robbins."
Arizona huffs. She looks annoyed, tired and bitchy, all of which wear well on her if Callie does say so herself.
She bites back a grin. "Karev, tell your boss that we've got everything covered."
Alex looks up from the baby to their left. "We've got it. You're useless if you pass out on us, anyway."
If she wasn't busy helping an infant breathe with her bare hands, Callie would have throttled him. She, more than anyone, knows how sensitive Arizona can be about her situation. Arizona hates that she can't do the things she used to without great difficulty, and Karev doesn't need to be rubbing it in her face. But those two have a different kind of relationship and nothing he says seems to strike the same chord it would have if Callie had uttered the words herself.
Arizona does feels guilty about leaving, however, and she scans the room for any signs of distress. "My page died an hour ago. Maybe I should wait until we-"
The lights flicker on before she can complete the sentence and sighs of relief echo around the room. Arizona looks just about ready to faint - a full-scale disaster has been averted thanks to a very big stroke of luck.
"See?" Callie says as she hooks the ventilator back up to the Johnson baby. "The generators are fixed. You should come with me."
"I need to make sure everything is back online first," Arizona argues, shifting her full weight onto the prosthetic. She nearly bites off her tongue in an effort not to cry out.
Callie is beside her in an instant, both hands bracing her hips from behind, giving her someone to lean into. "Alex can get this. Right Alex?"
"We'll be okay," he agrees, his tone much softer than before. "Wilson and I have got this. Go with Torres."
It's not in Arizona's nature to abandon her post, but if she doesn't sit down in the next five minutes, she'll either throw up or pass out. Probably both; neither of which a premature baby needs to see. It takes a moment before she finally agrees and releases the incubator entirely. With some effort, she peels off the pink scrub cover and discards it.
Callie keeps a firm hold on Arizona's hips, letting her settle her weight back and giving her a moment to gather herself. "I've got a fresh pager battery Karev, so if you need her, page me."
He nods solemnly and watches Torres lead Arizona from the room.
Every single step that Arizona takes is excruciating. She musters up the willpower of a muskox to keep it from showing, at least until they're outside of the NICU. Callie wraps an arm firmly around her waist, letting her set the pace while she fights the urge to physically scoop Arizona up and carry her the rest of the way.
"Almost there," Callie whispers in her ear, willing the last thirty paces to go faster. Every whimper out of her wife is like a kick to the chest and she's extremely relieved when they finally reach the door.
Once inside, it's all Arizona can do not to collapse in the middle of the floor. She makes it to the bed but even sitting on her ass hurts like hell. Her fingers loop through the bars of the upper bunk just to keep herself upright and tears of frustration well up behind her eyes.
Callie's heart sits in her throat as she kneels down and works open the drawstring on Arizona's pants. There is no fight left to protest being 'babied'; it's clear that she's used every last ounce of it keeping things together when the lights went out. It breaks Callie's heart to see Arizona in this much pain.
"Try and lift up," she coaxes, watching the woman bite down on her lip as she strains to raise her hips. The scrub pants disappear and Callie goes for the straps on the prosthetic, knowing it has to come off before the swelling gets so bad that Arizona can't wear it again for a week.
Arizona still hates this part of their relationship on some level; she wishes that Callie never had to set eyes on her residual limb. She's getting used to it, but her internal reaction is always the same - revulsion. Right now she's just too far gone to care about anything other than getting this hunk of metal away from her body by any means necessary.
"Oh, honey," Callie murmurs as the angry inflammation becomes visible. The urge to touch, to soothe, takes a backseat because she knows it will only make things worse. So she sets the prosthetic on the floor instead and focuses on undoing the remaining hardware.
Once Arizona is free, she eases herself down on the mattress, everything from her foot to her shoulders screaming in relief. She presses her palms into her eyes before sliding them down to cover the rest of her face, taking a moment to regain her thoughts.
Needing to do something useful, Callie stands up. "I'll be right back," she says softly, hovering beside the bed until she sees a nod of confirmation. Working quickly but quietly, she sets the prosthetic against the far wall and leaves the room.
Arizona uses the time to focus on her breathing, suppressing the anger she can still feel bubbling beneath the surface. Things like this can't happen. She's supposed to be the one in charge, the one who thinks about backup batteries in advance of a super storm. She's supposed to be the one responsible for the lives of those fourteen infants, and instead she can barely even move. She is not allowed to feel crippled by exhaustion just because she's been on her feet for twenty-four hours. So has everyone else in that room. Unfortunately, having one leg complicates matters when it comes to basic human functions like standing or moving.
She hates something that doesn't even exist anymore - for not being there in the first place - and it makes her wonder how screwed up that is on a scale of one to infinity.
When Callie comes back, she finds Arizona in the same position, hands over her face, lying motionless in the centre of the bed. Only once the door is closed and locked behind her does she kick off her shoes and allow herself to sit on the edge of the bunk.
"I brought ice packs," she whispers, sweeping her eyes across Arizona's still form as she finally lowers her hands. "Do you want me to...?"
Arizona nods wordlessly and watches Callie break the inner tubing, mixing the chemicals around the plastic pouches and waiting for them to cool down. She grimaces when Callie lifts her stump and sets one underneath it, the temperature change causing a jolt in her swollen nerves. The second pack is placed gently over top of her thigh and the cooling sensation brings just the tiniest hint of relief. Arizona closes her eyes and releases a sigh.
The silence is what worries Callie the most. Arizona hasn't said two words since they left the NICU and the look on her face is troubling.
"Are you okay?" she asks weakly, wishing she didn't feel so helpless.
Arizona forces her eyes open and musters up a brave smile. "I'm okay," she replies, truthfully this time. "Just...rough day." That makes her laugh because they've all had a rough day.
Suddenly Callie feels like the bus crash was a walk in the park compared to what must have been happening in the NICU. "You did good," she murmurs, reaching out to trace her partner's face with her fingertips. "Not many people could keep such a level head in the face of disaster."
"We would've been eaten alive in there," Arizona muses, allowing her eyelids to droop as she revels in the calming sensation. Callie's hand caresses her forehead, trails down to her temple and finally cradles her cheek in its palm. It's the first time all day Arizona has felt even remotely relaxed.
The quiet is interspersed with an occasional rumble from beyond the outer walls. Arizona visibly shivers when she can feel the vibrations.
"I hate thunderstorms."
"Really?" Callie lifts an eyebrow and frowns. "I thought you loved lightning. You used to watch it all the time out our window."
"It rained in the woods." Arizona says it quietly, without inflection. She swallows the lump in her throat and stares blankly at the bunk above them.
Callie's veins run ice cold and she doesn't have the faintest fucking clue what to say. Arizona doesn't talk about The Woods. None of them ever do.
Arizona doesn't expect a response; there really isn't one, anyway. She just hates thunderstorms.
"I set up a pair of beds for us in the lounge," Callie says after a minute of heavy silence permeates the room. "I think technically they wanted us all to stick together, but we should spend the night here instead. I can let the others know where we are."
Arizona nods wordlessly. She is not about to strip off her leg and be half naked in a room full of her peers. Besides, getting downstairs would be impossible for her now. Getting home tomorrow when she can barely touch her prosthetic is going to be enough of a challenge.
"The daycare's open twenty-four hours. I was keeping her there until things got settled."
"Bring her down?" Arizona suggests. She licks her lips and turns her cheek into Callie's palm. "She shouldn't be alone right now."
Finally, something Callie can do for them both. "Okay." She leans over and presses her lips to the crown of Arizona's forehead. "I'll grab a wheelchair too, just in case. Promise I won't be long."
As she moves to get up, she feels pressure around her wrist.
Arizona tugs her back down and curls her fingers around the back of her neck. "Thank you."
Callie smiles and dips her nose for an affectionate nuzzle. "Always."