Title: Tummy Ache
Author: A. Windsor
Disclaimer: All television shows, movies, books, and other copyrighted material referred to in this work, and the characters, settings, and events thereof, are the properties of their respective owners. My one and a half years of law school could allow me to legalese this a little more, but it also tells me it’s pretty useless. So please don’t sue; it’s not mine, I’m just playing!
Summary: Arizona stays home with a sick Caroline. [March 2025]
Author’s Note: As referenced in Sick Day. Written as promised to the wonderful brckbybrck, sorry it took so long, but I certainly hope it helped make everything a little brighter. There's also a little shout out to my fantastic girlfriend. :D Beta’d by the lovely [weirdy, reindeer-panda] roughian.
“Momma, I puked.”
They’re some of the worst words a parent can hear, especially to wake from a dead sleep. She shakes herself awake and meets the wide, teary eyes of Caroline Grace.
“Oh, baby girl.”
“I think-” The girl hiccups against her tears. “I might again.”
That sends her maternal instincts into overdrive, and she sprints for the bathroom, grabbing Caroline on her way. They make it to the toilet in time, Arizona tossing the seat up and gathering Caroline’s shoulder length hair in her one hand. Her other hand rubs the six-year-old’s back soothingly while she empties what’s left of her dinner.
The tile’s a little hard on her knees, so she brings the towel down for them both to kneel on. After a minute, Caroline rocks back on her heels and looks pitifully up at her mother.
“Hey, baby girl. All done?”
Caroline shrugs, and Arizona notices the lasagna staining her princess Tiana nightgown.
“Oh baby. We’ll stay here just in case. Did you throw up in your bed?”
Caroline nods and says softly: “Yes, I’m sorry.”
“That’s okay! Cari, that’s not your fault. Can I have your stinky shirt?”
Cari weakly lifts her arms to assent. For a girl who insists on doing everything for herself, that’s as big a sign of sickness as the puking and the fever that makes her skin burning to the touch. Arizona strips off her pjs and tosses them towards the door just as Callie pokes her head in.
“Everything okay?” Callie asks, blearily.
“Clean up in Thing Three’s room.”
“Oh. Oh no. Care Bear. ¿Te sientes mal, mi amor?” [Do you feel yucky, love?]]
Caroline just nods, curling her shivering form, clad only in her Mario underwear, into her mother’s lap as Arizona sinks all the way down to sit on the towel under them.
“We’re gonna sit here for a while.”
“Okay. I’ll go throw everything in the wash. Do you need anything?”
“New pjs and some medicine.”
“No,” Caroline moans pitifully. “No medicine.”
“Not the yucky cough stuff, honey, I promise,” Arizona soothes. “Oh, and maybe a couple of hair ties?”
“Sure! Of course.”
“What time is it?” Arizona asks, exhausted.
“But of course,” Arizona grins wryly.
Callie chuckles a little and blows them a kiss. “Do you want me to take over?”
Arizona shakes her head.
“No, we should quarantine as much as possible. I’ll call in tomorrow. I think it’s my turn, anyway.”
“Okay. Sit tight, amores. I’ll be right back.”
“How’s your tummy feel, Caroline?”
The girl pouts.
“Okay, well, can I fix your hair so it won’t get yucky?”
Arizona hums Disney tunes while winding Cari’s silky straight hair into a tight, neat french braid. She holds the end of the braid while they wait for Callie to bring something to tie it off with. She kisses the back of her daughter’s sweaty neck and hums a little Mario Brothers in her ear, getting the first grin of the night.
That grin is quickly followed by another round of barfing. Arizona holds fast to the end of the braid and whispers soothingly as the pattern repeats itself.
Caroline finally falls asleep around five AM. Arizona’s butt was asleep long before that.
Arizona somehow manages to get herself off the ground, Cari in her arms. She carries her baby girl up the stairs and collapses onto the twin bed beside her. Her thoughtful wife has made the bed with fresh sheets and a puke bowl. In order to limit Callie’s exposure to the bug, Arizona curls herself around Caroline’s small frame and lets exhaustion overtake her.
“Morning, Momma,” Caroline yawns in her face.
Arizona blinks and yawns back. She finds the Batman alarm clock on the nightstand. Nine-thirty in the morning. Crap.
“Good morning, baby,” Arizona says softly, kissing the girl’s brow. “How are you feeling?”
“Yucky. ¿Por qué estás en mi cama?” [Why are you in my bed?]
“Because you’re sick.”
There’s a note under the alarm clock, and Arizona grabs it as Caroline yanks her green blankie from under her mother’s shoulder.
Called in sick for both of you. Pedialyte in the fridge, saltines on the counter. I love you both. Feel better, Care Bear.
Arizona smiles a bit, bringing Caroline close. Her wife is very sweet.
“Do you think you’re gonna puke again?”
“Maybe,” Caroline moans.
Her heart breaks. Cari has giant dark circles around bleary eyes. Her skin, usually a pretty light olive like Callie’s, is pale and drawn.
“Okay. Let’s go downstairs then. See if we can get something in your belly. And have a movie day?”
“What if I throw up?”
Arizona grins softly and kisses her forehead.
“We’ll bring the puke bowl.”
It’s a day full of Disney and naps, with the occasional break as Caroline’s stomach rebels against the pedialyte and saltines. Arizona fights the urge to take her to the hospital and put an IV in her. She’s retaining some things, and plenty of non-surgeons’ kids go less than twelve hour of puking without an IV and survive.
By three, though, Caroline goes a whole hour and a half without throwing up, with a whole pedialyte and a dozen crackers in her belly. She’s looking a bit perkier, and Arizona begins to believe that they have turned the corner. She still watches her daughter’s liquid and food intake like a hawk, overjoyed when she asks for another couple saltines at three-fifteen.
“What?! You have no nines? Are you sure?” Arizona asks over dramatically.
Caroline giggles. It’s a beautiful sound.
“No, ma’am. No nines,” Caroline laughs.
“Oh, fine,” Arizona growls.
She sadly does not fish her wish as she eyes her daughter over her cards.
“Your turn, Thing Three.”
“Tengo un nombre. Ya sabes.” [I have a name. You know that.]
“No hablo español,” Arizona counters. [I don’t speak Spanish.]
“Ay, qué mentirosa.” [What a liar.]
“Just go, Caroline,” Arizona laughs.
The game grows in fake intensity until Arizona inches out a victory. She doesn’t gloat; for one, Callie says it’s a bad habit to teach the children. She also subdues her victory dance because Cari’s eyelids are drooping again. While her cheeks are rosier and her fever dramatically reduced, Caroline’s body is still fighting the virus.
As they clean up the cards, the newly six-year-old grabs her green blankie up and drops herself onto Arizona’s lap. Her hair is still in the braid from last night, though severely mussed, with a halo of fly-aways framing her sweet face. She snuggles her small body against her mother, nestled in the perfect seat made by Arizona’s cross-legged position.
From her spot in her Momma-cave, Caroline cranes her neck and says:
“What about the sick boys and girls at the hospital? Who’s taking care of them if you’re taking care of me?”
Arizona smiles widely.
“Don’t wanna hog you.”
Arizona melts and squeezes Caroline super tight until she squirms. Remembering that squeezing the “might puke at any moment” girl is probably a poor course of action, she retreats.
“Caroline Grace,” she says seriously. “You can always hog me. Especially when you’re sick.”
“But you love the sick girls and boys.”
“I love you more. I love you most.”
“More than Asa and Lena and Teo?”
“Well, that’s a tie,” Arizona laughs. “You four are the most important boys and girls in the world to me.”
“Now, how about we try to put a little toast in your body? Do you think you can handle that?”
“Well, let’s try.”
“I don’t wanna puke again.”
“I know, we’ll go slow.”
She moves to stand, gently pushing the girl to get up. Instead, Caroline loops her arms around Arizona’s neck, holding tight. Arizona obliges her: Caroline usually hates being carried, so if she wants it now, she must really need it.
“My sweet Caroline,” she murmurs, kissing the girl’s ear. Caroline rubs her face against Arizona’s sternum, getting comfy.
After the toast goes in and stays in for twenty minutes or so, Arizona treats Caroline to a bath in the master bathroom to wash off the fever grime.
She smiles at the way Cari seems to relax as Arizona massages shampoo into her scalp.
Just like her madre.
Arizona laughs and kisses Caroline’s tilted up forehead, sputtering the shampoo from her lips. Caroline gives a sleepy snort.
“Well, I like to kiss you. I’m sorry. Eyes shut.”
Caroline laughs as Arizona begins to slowly pour warm water over her hair. She yawns and then coughs a little as the water trickles into her mouth.
Arizona grins at her and wipes away the suds from her ear.
“Now some conditioner.”
“Fine,” Cari surrenders.
They go through the motions. Arizona makes the rubber ducks talk to each other, and Caroline rolls her eyes.
She snatches the ducks away and finds a third. She places them on the edge of the bathtub.
“This is Jeff. This is his mommy duck. This is his daddy duck.”
Arizona raises her eyebrows.
“Not all duckies have two mommies,” Caroline scolds.
“Yes, of course,” Arizona laughs, holding her hands up in surrender. “Tell me more about Jeff.”
“He likes to ride his bike. He’s very good, but his mom and dad still make him wear a helmet. Even though he’s been riding without training wheels since he was three.”
“Ah, I see,” Arizona says knowingly, crossing her arms over her chest. “They sound like good parents.”
Caroline shrugs, and Arizona flicks a little water in her face.
“Jeff is an only child.”
“Oh is he now?” Arizona grins. “Does he like that?”
“Does Jeff go to school?”
“‘Cause he has to.”
“Does he like school?”
“Oh, I see. Where’s Jeff from?”
Arizona coughs out a laugh, which makes Caroline giggle back, making Jeff do a silly dance. Just a month or so ago, Callie and the kids were obsessed with the BCS bowls and college football, taking up the banner of the University of Oregon Ducks when their beloved Huskies got nowhere close to the post-season.
“Well of course. Aren’t all Ducks?”
“Mhmm,” Caroline smiles sleepily.
“Okay, pretty lady, let’s get you out before you turn into a raisin. I refuse to have a raisin for a daughter.”
“Raisins are yummy.”
“Exactly. I’d eat you.”
Caroline giggles and scrambles over the edge of the tub into Arizona’s waiting arms, which are already prepared with a white fluffy towel.
Arizona dries Caroline off, and the girl gets into new pjs while they wait for the rest of the family to get home for dinner. Caroline sits on the edge of the drained tub, bare feet slapping against the still damp wall. Arizona parts and combs her hair, then does it up into two immaculate braids, the water wicking away from the French braids and onto her fingers.
“It’s gonna be curly when I wake up,” Caroline laughs, running her hands over the finished product. “Thanks, Momma.”
“You’re very welcome.” She glances at the larger face on her watch and notes the time. “Mulan before everyone gets home?”
Caroline is asleep before any of the fun parts of Mulan, and Arizona is right behind her.
That’s how Callie finds them. They’re even sleeping through Things One, Two, and Four’s boisterous entrance. She bars the other three from the playroom and grabs a blanket to cover her sleeping beauties.
Arizona is on her back, tangled blonde curls laid out behind her head. When she’s on sick duty, she barely even brushes her teeth, too zeroed in on their baby in need. Caroline sleeps face down on top of her, hand falling over the side of the soft leather couch, feet tucked safely between her momma’s knees. Her tummy must be feeling better: Arizona loves their children more than life itself, but she would never open herself up to that much puke.
Callie spreads the blanket over them and kisses each on the forehead. Caroline’s is delightfully cool to the touch, which makes Callie smile. As does what a fantastic mom Arizona is. She’ll have to reward Arizona for that tonight.
If she’s not puking.
- Current Location:Boston, MA