Disclaimer: I do not own the characters in this story, nor do I own any rights to the television show "Grey's Anatomy". They were created by Shonda Rhimes and belong to her and the ABC network. No copyright infringement intended!

I love you

It was long moments before either of them noticed they had just been staring at each other without doing anything.

A simple exchange between. It had them mesmerized.

I love you.

Those three words. She had never thought she'd say them again.

After George, she had never dared it again. Hadn't felt it either.

Not with Erica... not yet.

Not with Mark either.

Sure, he was her best friend, her anchor when she needed it, when times were rough. He was, no doubt, a good time in bed. But she would not go as far as to say she loved him – as more than a friend.

With Arizona... she had felt it early on, but had been afraid that voicing her feelings for the woman out loud would blow up in her face. Just like it had that one time with George. The avoidance she had earned in return for uttering those little words would always be painfully remembered.

Over the months she had become more assured about their relationship and about Arizona's feelings for her. The blonde had showed her more than once that she held a special place in her heart. But until tonight neither of them had actually said those three words.

Of course she had envisioned a different scenario for this actually happening. One that didn't involve a surprise birthday party abruptly ending in tears and despair for Arizona upon having lost one of her longest and dearest patients.

She had settings of a deserted beach or a lone spot on the hills surrounding Seattle in mind. Or one simply involving a bed, a couple of candles and a nice amount of lingerie.

Okay, so she was dressed in just that right this moment, having bought it yesterday as a special treat for Arizona. She had wanted to give her a special present to unpack later tonight when all the guests would be on their way home. But given the circumstances she could understand if Arizona wasn't up for unpacking anything.

She reached for Arizona's hand and tugged on it gently, prompting her to come sit with her. The blonde complied and took a seat on the couch a waiting Callie's body had had chosen as its temporary sleeping-place.

She remembered the sight that had met her upon entering the apartment minutes before. Her sleeping beauty dressed in something that would blow the mind of anyone with proper eyesight had almost made her forget this sad and horrible day.

The fight in the O.R. to save Wallace' life. The fight with Callie about not being there for her when she needed it for once.

Suddenly it had all become irrelevant. Suddenly them and their love had been all that counted.

Callie looked at her girlfriend; she took in the faint smile. It didn't reach her eyes yet. "You know... I never got a chance to say this, but... Happy Birthday," she squeezed Arizona's hand and elicited the first true smile since the blonde got here. She knew that today wouldn't help to make Arizona like birthdays, but still she had to get that out. "And I'm sorry I sprang this party on you. I should have known better," she cringed. "I mean, you told me that you don't..."

"It's okay," Arizona quickly assured her, not wanting to make Callie feel bad for throwing her a surprise party. After all, it had been a very sweet gesture. And by now she knew Callie well enough to know that the brunette not always followed your subtle instructions to not do a certain thing. "I'm not mad. It just wasn't right today."

Callie nodded her understanding and sighed in relief as Arizona leaned in to kiss her softly, both reassuring her and thanking her.

When the kiss ended, she took a moment to look at Callie. For the first time really taking in the pink glittery hat topping that perfect curly black hair. She recalled the other woman mentioning 'hats and gifts and donuts' and her eyes went to the lovingly decorated coffee table where she found the sugary treat in the midst of several still neatly wrapped presents. "You brought me donuts?" she asked, her eyes lighting up at the sentiment.

Callie ducked her head sheepishly under her bright and shiny hat. "Yeah. After... after you told me about Wallace… and ran off… I had to go out and get them. I know they're your comfort food". Arizona liked to eat them when she was in pain, Arizona liked to bring them when someone else was suffering. She remembered having gained three pounds after George's death because Arizona had put her on a donut diet to make her feel better.

She had hated her for it... and loved her at the same time.

"Thank you," the blonde smiled again and got Callie to join in.

Callie went to reach for the plate to offer them to Arizona but at the last moment went for a pillar candle she had lit for her girlfriend's birthday earlier. "Here. Blow it out. Make a wish. And then maybe we can see about getting some sugar into you".

Arizona looked at the candle Callie held in front of her expectantly but shook her head. "I'll make a wish, but... can we leave it on? For Wallace?"

The brunette put the candle back down with a sympathetic smile and was a little surprised when she felt Arizona lean her head against her chest, snuggling in. She put a comforting arm around her shoulder and drew her in, taking a moment to say a little silent prayer for the boy whose birthday had been fated to become his death-day.

They sat there for a long while. Callie watching the candle burn down slowly. Arizona listening to Callie's steady and calming heartbeat.

And Arizona made a wish that night. A wish that no matter what argument they'd have in the future, that they'd always find their way back into each other's arms. This moment right here showed her that she needed this and that she didn't want to be without it anymore.

The blonde hugged her tighter and Callie put a soft comforting kiss on top of her hair. She knew she was severely underdressed in just her sexy underwear, even more since she had Arizona still dressed in her coat snuggled against her.

But for now neither of them planned on doing anything about it.