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The Kepner Method

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Callie and Meredith run into each other while grabbing lunch in the hospital cafeteria. Meredith watches in silence as Callie gets double portions of everything.

“Where’s Arizona?” Meredith asks, finally breaking the easy silence that had been in since they had picked up trays.

“She’s on her way down, that’s why I’m getting so much food, Grey. Did you think all of this was for me?”

“Well… I don’t know, I thought maybe you were eating for two. That you and Arizona finally decided to give Sofia a sibling.” Meredith said, then added, in a leading voice, “Zola loves being a big sister.”

“No. No babies coming,” Callie said. “Where is your other half?”

“She had to go pick up a heart. So, I’m solo for lunch today.” Meredith replies.

Callie chuckles, “I meant your husband.”

“Oh. Surgery.” Meredith said, “Plus, he’s been having lunch with Owen lately. Helping him avoid Cristina’s set-ups.”

“Well, you can join us. Arizona won’t mind.”

They choose a table close to the door, something Callie has been unconsciously doing to save her wife some extra steps, not that she needs to, Arizona is very physically fit, but every bit of energy she conserves, is some she can draw on later when she needs it.

Callie and Meredith continue to make small talk, mostly about Zola, Bailey, and Sofia.

“We’ve started the process for second-parent adoption for Arizona and Sofia, it’s a little tricky here in Washington, but our lawyer is certain it’ll go through, no issues.”

“Adoption is not an easy process, for sure, if you want I can talk to the lawyer we used with Zola, he’s very well connected.”

“Maybe. If we run into any problems.”

Arizona walks up and plops into the chair next to Callie, she takes a carrot off of her plate and bites the end off.

“Kepner is afraid of me,” Arizona said, pointing her carrot at Callie. “She makes an excuse to leave the area whenever I’m near. I thought Anya said she wouldn’t remember me going all Fight Club on her face?”

Callie grins. “Well, it was pretty unforgettable,” she said, as she grabs the arm that Arizona was pointing at her and rubs her hand over her it. “Kinda sexy.” Leaning in and giving her wife a peck on the cheek.

“This is where Cristina would say ‘gross’ and end this before it got out of hand, right?” Meredith said.

Callie pulls back and just smiles at Meredith.

“I’m serious, though. We need to do something about this,” Arizona whines. “I can’t have Kepner slinking away every time I come into the room. We have to work together. Callie, you should talk to her.”

“Me? Why me?”

“Because you are my wife and it won’t be weird if you talk about me with her. It’ll be suspicious if Yang or Grey do it.”

“Plus, Cristina doesn’t care.” Meredith adds.

“See Callie, come on. You have to do it.”

“She is retaking her boards in a few weeks, you could use the Torres Method on her, like you did with me.” Meredith said.

“You know. I feel vaguely uncomfortable every time someone uses that expression.” Arizona grumbles. “Can’t you just say ‘study buddy’.”

“You guys know I don’t need to help her right? She proved that last month when she was possessed,” Callie said. “Anya told us Hubris just made her take risks and have a confidence she didn’t normally have. All those surgeries she did were with her skill. Eventually, she would have bitten-off more than she could chew, but she actually handled herself well. She did ortho, general, trauma… she even did a complicated esophageal achalasia on an 11 year old.”

“Right. I know. Offer anyway,” Arizona said. “I’m your wife and I want this. So… do it.”

Callie makes a face as if to decline, so Arizona puts on her pout, “Come on, Callie, I feel guilty about socking her... You should definitely help her prep for boards. Please? For me?”

Callie sighs, “Ok. I’ll be Kepner’s study buddy.”

“Huh. Now, that sounds inappropriate.” Arizona protests.

***

A couple days later Callie finds herself getting up at the butt-crack of dawn to mentor April Kepner. As she walks up to the coffee shop, she sees April is already inside waiting for her. With a heavy sigh, she pushed through the door and into shop.

April immediately sees her, jumps up, and waves, “Dr. Torres! Over here! I got us a table.”

Callie gives her a little wave and heads to the counter to order her coffee. Finally joining April at the table, she winces as April immediately starts to talk.

“Thank you so much for doing this for me Dr. Torres. Your study technique is legendary! I need this so much. I’ll never be able to pass that test…”

“Kepner, I’m going to need you to speak differently…”

“My voice giving you a headache again? Oh! Are you pregnant?”

“Why do people keep asking me if I’m pregnant?” Callie ponders. “But, no- not your voice this time, your attitude. You need to speak differently about yourself. You are never going to get anywhere if you keep downing yourself.”

“O….Kay? I’m sorry?”

“Kepner, that’s exactly what I’m talking about, don’t apologize. The constant apologies make you sound weak.”

“Alright, then. Fine,” April tries to think of something to say that isn’t an apology.

Callie stops her by holding up her hand. “We aren’t here to study, anyway,” Callie reveals.

“We aren’t?”

“No, we aren’t. You don’t need it, you’ve got this. That burst of confidence you had last month? You were doing amazing things. You don’t need to study. Trust me. You know the medicine.”

“If we aren’t here to study, then why are you here?”

“Arizona made me,” Callie sighs. “She thinks you are afraid of her and she wants me to fix it.” She picks at the napkin a bit. Then, realizing how what she said could be seen as rude she said, “Not that having coffee with you is a hardship, I like you Kepner, but’s early, way too damn early in the morning.”

“Can I be honest with you Dr. Torres?” At Callie’s nod, she continues, “I am kind of afraid of Dr. Robbins,” April admits. “Remember last month when I, apparently, fell… hit my face… received a mild concussion… and experienced some memory loss?”

Callie swallows guiltily, “Um, yeah… that was weird, right?”

“Yes it was, but… I keep having this feeling, like…. Like, Dr. Robbins punched me. I know it’s strange, but she had that hand injury, and it… it just seemed like a bit too much of a coincidence.”

“Oh, no… that hand injury was me. I did that to her.” Callie thinks a second, then added, “Not, like, domestic abuse or anything…”

“Oh… OH!” April exclaims. She lowers her voice and asks “You mean like a sex injury?”

“What?” Callie looks horrified, “No. Like I slammed-her-hand-in-the-car-door injury.” She gives their practiced excuse for Arizona’s injury.

They are interrupted by the server bringing Callie’s warmed pumpkin scone. She takes it and immediately bites into it, moaning with pleasure.

“God, I love pumpkin scones,” Callie said. “Do you like pumpkin scones, Kepner?”

“Umm, I guess? I’ve never tried one, but I do enjoy other pumpkin flavored confectionaries.”

“Confectionaries?” Callie raises an eyebrow and chuckles. “Really?”

“It’s a thing…” April defends.

“It’s not a thing that people actually say. Well, people that aren’t total dorks.”

“I’m sor…” April starts to apologize, but stops herself. “I say it- I’m people… and I’m not a dork.”

“Good for you Kepner… that’s what I’m talking about,” Callie praises. “You stood up to me!”

April smiles as a tiny bit of confidence crept in.

“Anyway… you should definitely try a pumpkin scone sometime….” Callie pauses, thinking, an idea forming in her head, “You know who doesn’t like them?” April shakes her head ‘no’. “My wife. Dr. Robbins. Arizona.”

“Yes… I’m familiar with her…,” a perplexed April responds. “We were just talking about her.”

“Do you know why she doesn’t like them, April?”

“Um, no?”

“Because she’s never tried them. Someone shouldn’t say they don’t like something without trying it first, am I right?”

“I guess…”

“But, if you gave her a pumpkin scone…”

“I’m really confused right now, Dr. Torres. Why would I give Dr. Robbins a scone?”

“Call me ‘Callie’,” she said.

“Ok, Callie,” April smiles. “But… I’m still confused.”

“I have a plan. A plan to build your confidence,” Callie grins mischievously. “You are going to do something brave today. No… some-things brave. Starting with convincing my wife to try a pumpkin scone.”

***

April Kepner strides into the pediatric ward, displaying a sureness she didn’t quite feel. She has a bag from the coffee shop containing a warm pumpkin scone. Her eyes are scanning the area, looking for Arizona.

Alex is sitting at the nurse’s station spinning around in the chair, avoiding doing charts. April sighs and rolls her eyes at him. Supposing she needs to be more like him, not afraid to do, or say, anything, she picks up a pencil and wings it at his head, it narrowly misses, but it does get his attention.

“Hey!” Alex exclaims. “What was that for?”

“I needed your attention. I’m looking for Dr. Robbins, is she around?”

“Yeah, she’s in her office, but be careful… she’s in a mood.”

April stops and visibly gulps, “What do you mean a ‘mood’?”

“I mean, she’s being bitchy. Needs-to-get-laid, bitchy. Or maybe she’s taking-Carrie-to-the-prom, bitchy.”

“I…” April face contorts with confusion, “I have no idea what that means.”

“You know, that time of the month where she’s being a bitch because her vagin…”

“Alex!”

“Whatever. I’m just saying, be careful… she’s in a mood.”

“Great.” April’s voice cracks a bit with fear.

“What’s in the bag, can I have some”

“No!” Callie bursts through the double doors, which she been hiding behind, “That’s for Arizona, Karev,” pointing at Alex, then turning to April, “Kepner, you know what you have to do. Put on your Big Girl Pants and get in there.”

“Right. Fake it till you make it.” April squares her shoulders and heads down the hall toward Dr. Robbins office.
“You’re not going to go with her?”

“No, this is a private matter between my wife and Dr. Kepner.” Callie looks around to make sure no one else is in earshot, “Besides, you’re right… Arizona is in a mood today.”

***

“Fake it till you make it. Fake it till you make it,” April is chanting under breath as she arrives at the door marked Arizona Robbins, MD - Chief of Pediatric Surgery. She takes a deep breath, and knocks on the door.

“It’s open!”

April pokes her head into the office and plasters on a fake confident smile. “Dr. Robbins… Um, Hi.”

“Dr. Kepner. Can I help you with something?”

“Um, you can, actually.” April stutters a bit, just looking at Dr. Robbins makes her head throb a bit, but she pushes through. “I, uh… wanted to thank you for suggesting Dr. Torres be my ‘study buddy’- teaching me The Torres Method, she’s very skilled.” Arizona’s face remains unreadable but an irrational jealous storm is brewing inside. She knows Kepner is being sincere but ever since her realization of the inadvertent naughtiness of that phrase, she can’t unhear the innuendo. It’s dripping from everything that April is saying. “Her experience is invaluable, and she wouldn’t have shared that with me if you hadn’t asked her to. It was a really eye-opening experience for me, practically life-changing. She’s so confident and take charge, exactly how I like…”

“Stop! You need to just… get to the point already. Please.”

“Oh, yes… my point,” April swallows, trying to get her fake confidence back. “My point is… I want to thank you. And I brought you something to eat. Dr. Torres said you probably skipped breakfast…”

Arizona calms a little, “She’s right, I did skip breakfast. It’s making me kind of grumpy actually. Thank you, April. Really, that’s very kind of you.”

April hands the bag to Arizona, “It’s a pumpkin scone.”

Arizona pauses mid reach, “Pumpkin?”

“Yes,” April continues, “I’m so glad you are hungry, I was worried I got you this for nothing. It’s just… I really appreciate that you and Dr. Torres are taking the time help me. Plus, it’s also an apology for acting weird around you lately. So, please… eat.”

Arizona is the one that swallows hard now, but being the person she is, and not wanting to offend April, she takes the bag with the pumpkin scone, sitting it aside on her desk. “Thank you April, I’ll eat this in a little while.”

“No. Now,” April blurts. “I really want to see you enjoy it.” She locks eyes with Arizona sending a silent challenge.

Arizona stares back. She knows Callie put her up to this, but not wanting to offend April, she grabs the bag, pulls the scone out, and takes a giant bite.

“Thank you, Dr. Robbins. I’ll see myself out,” with that, April turns and leaves. This time, a real confident smile on her face.

***

Having left April in Arizona’s office, Callie goes off in search of a partner-in-crime. Someone to help her with the next phase of her plan…or help her come up with the next phase of her plan.

She sees Bailey at the surgical board making a few changes to schedule. When she puts down the marker and starts to walk off Callie sees her chance and pounces.

“Bailey!” She yells. “Bailey, Bailey, Bailey. I have a proposition for you.”

“Nope. I’m busy Torres. Whatever it is, I’m not interested.”

“Come on. It’s for a good cause. I need you to help with April.”

“Lord. What has she got herself into now?” Bailey shakes her head, “Did she concuss herself again?”

“No, no,” Callie said. “I’m trying to help her build her confidence before her boards next week. Come on, Bailey, please. You have to help me.”

“I’m sorry Torres, you know I would, but I’ve got a surgery in 20 minutes.”

“Shoot.”

“I’ve got to go, but if you still need my help later, I might be available.” At that Bailey takes her leave.

Callie sighs, pulls out her phone to check her email. She sees a missed call from Arizona and cringes, knowing she’s in trouble for the scone. She turns to leave and runs right into Richard Webber- who was standing directly behind her.

“Oh my god. Dr. Webber, you almost gave me a heart-attack.”

“What’s this I hear about you helping Kepner with her boards?”

“Oh, um… I’ve been trying to build her confidence, you know? She knows the medicine, she has worked her butt off, but now she just needs a confidence boost and she’ll blow those testers away.”

“I’m in.”

“Oh. That would be great. Great.”

“What did you have in mind?”

“So far I’ve come up with: Do something that will make her more confident… I’m not really good at coming up with plans.”

“Don’t you worry about that, I’m a master – you can be my apprentice,” Richard said. He holds up his finger as if he had a sudden idea. “Ah ha! We are about to become Mr. and Mrs. Julio Plantain again.”

“I don’t know, Richard,” Callie said. “That was fun, but I’m not sure how that will help April…”

“Call me Julio, sweetheart,” Richard interrupted. He puts his arm around Callie’s shoulder and leads her off down the corridor.

***

Later that afternoon April is finishing up with a patient in the pit. She’s been feeling pretty good since her encounter with Dr. Robbins. It gave her a little rush to be assertive.

“Dr. Kepner, we need to talk,” Dr. Hunt said as he came into the pit. He didn’t look happy.

“Ok, here… or,” April started, but Owen just kept talking.

“I just got a very peculiar message from a patient you treated about a month ago,” Said Owen. “Julio Plantain? Do you remember him?”

“No. I… uh, don’t remember anyone by that name?”

“Well, he and his wife are coming in this afternoon and want a meeting with us. What happened? What did you do?”

“I… have no idea. Did you pull up his chart?”

“I looked, but I’m not finding anyone by that name.”

“Ok, maybe the patient wasn’t him? Maybe it was his wife or… or child?”

“His wife was sounding pretty upset in the background, I’m not exactly sure what she was saying- it was in Spanish, but she didn’t sound happy.”

Owen is frantically scrolling through names and cases on his tablet, looking for anyone who could have been April’s patient. “No one with the name Plantain has ever been at this hospital.”

“Look at pediatric cases I worked on last month.”

“What about pediatric cases?” Arizona asks, as her and Alex walk up to Owen and April.

“I got a call from a patient that wants to come in and talk about care received here last month and they asked specifically for April to be there, but we aren’t sure who the patient was.”

“Did they sound mad?” Arizona ask.

“They didn’t exactly sound happy, but it was a voicemail, I didn’t get to speak to them directly.”

“Kepner screwed-up again, and we are what? Surprised by this?” scoffed Alex.

“Alright, you listen here Alex. I may not remember every patient I had last month, but I not only had double the surgeries you had, I also had a better success rate. So stick that in your pipe and smoke it.” April defends herself.

“Ok, ok, everyone calm down,” Arizona said. “Let’s take this somewhere a little more private.”

“Good idea,” Owen sighs.

April, Arizona and Owen step into an empty part of the hallway. Alex leaves to take care of the patient that he and Dr. Robbins were originally paged to the pit for.

“You should get Callie, for when they arrive, my Spanish is limited, at best.” Owen said.

“Well, you’ll have to call her… she’s been avoiding me.” Arizona crosses her arms and looks a little peeved.

“Ok,” Owen said, a bit perplexed. “I’ll do that. Do you think we should call the rest of the board, too?”

“Why not, it’s not like we ever practice medicine around here anymore.” Arizona replies

“Alright then, I’ll call an emergency board meeting… conference room – one hour. That should give us plenty of time to discuss the possibilities before the Plantains arrive. Be there.” Owen points to Arizona and April and strides off, furiously typing on his tablet.

April turns and looks at Arizona, “Dr. Robbins, did you enjoy your pumpkin scone?"

Arizona narrows her eyes at Kepner, contemplating for a moment, then with a sigh, she said, “Yes. I did, actually, but if you tell Callie… the Plantains will be the least of your worries.”

***

The conference table in the boardroom is already covered with platters of various pastries, as it always seems to be. Callie starts to wonder who actually supplies the pastries, and how they know when an emergency meeting has been called. It’s like magic… She is brought out of her contemplation as her wife walks into the room, looking a bit irritated with her. Callie pulls out a chair for her to sit and when she does, Callie goes to the opposite side of the table and sits next to April, just in case Arizona is really, really pissed. The blonde gives her and exasperated look, to which Callie just shrugs and turns her attention to Owen.

April is a nervous wreck, all the uncertainty is causing her to fidget in her seat. Callie leans over and whispers in her ear, “fake it till you make, remember?”

April nods and sends her a grateful smile, causing Arizona’s eyes to narrow once again. She’s tired of everyone wanting her wife’s services- the Torres Method should be hers and hers alone.

Derek breaks the silence, “What is this about? I have a very important appointment in a couple hours, and I can’t miss it.”

“Hair appointments don’t count as ‘important’ Shepherd,” an irritated Cristina said.

“Do you know how hard it is to get an appointment with Chaz? He’s already booking for 2014, Cristina. I can’t let just any chump cut this hair.”

“It is breathtakingly stunning hair.” Arizona teases.

“I could cut your hair.” Cristina said.

“NO! Don’t,” Callie exclaims. “Do not let Cristina near you with scissors, trust me. A scalpel? Any day. Scissors? Never again.”

“Yeah, I still can’t believe you let me do that.”

“As fascinating as this all is, why are we here?” Meredith finally asks.

“And why is Kepner here?”

“Yeah, April, what’s going on?” Jackson asks.

“We have a patient complaint, they are coming here in about an hour, and we wanted to be prepared,” Owen answers for April.

“This is humiliating,” April whines.

“Please. This hospital has gone from being Seattle Grace Mercy Death to Grey Sloan Hospital of Humiliation. No one is immune April.

 

Just… tell us what you did.” Cristina said.

“That’s just it, I don’t remember this patient… and we have no record of them. This is crazy.”

“April’s right, we can find no indication that this Julio Plantain has ever been patient here.” Owen said.

Meredith said, “Ok, well. We just cover all our bases right? Let’s go over each case, one by one. See if we can find anything she’s done wrong or questionable?”

“Sounds like a plan.” Owen

For the next hour they go over each of April’s cases. They grill her over and over on every aspect of each patient she treated for a two week period last month. Yang getting especially feisty at times. But ultimately, her outcomes were all good, her patient care impeccable, and not a single misstep could be found. They find absolutely nothing out of the ordinary, or of any cause for concern.
Arizona keeps sneaking glances at her wife, who is trying to look nonchalant, but is failing miserably. Callie can’t keep the grin of utter delight off of her face. She checks her watch, picks up her phone and sends a text. Callie looks around to see if anyone noticed, as she slides her phone back into her pocket. She locks eyes with her wife, who raises her eyebrows in question. Callie just gives her a smile and a wink in response.

Owen’s tablet beeps a warning, he reads the message, looks around the room and said, “They’re here.” Just as a knock sounds on the door. Owen gets up to open the door, and Callie slips out of her chair and goes to the door also. When Owen opens the door, he’s met with the smiling face of Richard Webber.

“Dr. Webber?” Owen questions, “We are expecting a patient…”

“Oh, that’s me,” Richard responds. “I’m Mr. Julio Plantain and this is my wife…” he reaches over, grabs Callie’s hand, and pulls her close, “Calliope Plantain.” She slides her arm into the crook of his elbow, lays her head on his shoulder and smiles. Across the room, Arizona’s eye’s once again narrow.

“Richard, I don’t understand what’s going on here,” Jackson said. “Is this some sort of game? To have us torment April?”

“If it was, it was brilliant, a really great game. I thought tormenting April was fun. Right Mere?” Cristina said.

“Wait, I missed a hair appointment for this?” Derek interrupts before Meredith could respond.

“Calliope Torres, tell us what is going on right now.” Arizona questioned.

“Oh my god! Dr. Webber, Dr. Torres- you guys are great! Thank you so much for this. I… get it! I... I feel amazing.” April exclaims and she jumps up and pulls Callie into a giant hug.

“Alright Kepner, both you and Webber need to keep your hands where I can see them. Preferably off of my wife. And someone explain what is going on.” Arizona

“You know how you wanted me to use the Torres Method on April?” Callie said, as Arizona closes her eyes and takes a calming breath. “Well, she didn’t need me to be her ‘study buddy’, but she did need a self-confidence boost. So Richard and I decided the best way to prepare her for her boards, was to put her through the wringer. Have her evaluate and defend actual cases. Prove to her, with her own patients, that she is a fantastic doctor and this upcoming test is just a formality.” Callie turns and looks at April, who has tears in her eyes. “You are a wonderful doctor, who I would trust my family with anytime. You’re going to kill it. Wait… let’s not say ‘kill’, you’re going to slam dunk it, umm… blow them away… I really suck at metaphors. What do you guys think?

“I definitely think you suck at metaphors.” Cristina deadpans.

“You’ll knock it out of the park,” Owen said.

“You are going to…” Derek said, looking at his phone, “Oh, I’ve got to run, Chaz was able to hold my appointment. You’ll….sail right through it, April.” And out the door he went.

“You’ll nail it, Apes.” Jackson said with a wistful smile.

“You’re going to pass with flying colors, rainbow colors.” Arizona added.

“April, they won’t know what hit them,” Meredith said.

“Especially if it’s Robbins doing the hitting,” Cristina said.

Everyone stops their congratulating of April and looks at Cristina. She looks up from the phone that she’d been fiddling with, “What? What’d I say?”

“What Cristina is saying, is that you are going to ace it, April”

“Hole in one...”

“You’ll breeze through it…”

“Yep, just go in there and grab the bull by the…”

“Ok, everyone, I get it. You can stop now.”

***

That night in bed, Arizona puts her book down and looks at her wife. “You did a good thing today, Calliope. Well, one bad thing and one good thing, but the good thing far outweighed the bad thing, so I’m going to let the bad thing slide this time.”

“I’m not even going to pretend to understand that…”

“I’m saying, what you did for April was amazing and I’m very proud of you…”

“I feel a ‘but’ coming…”

“But… don’t ever impose your pumpkin flavored confectionaries on me again,” Arizona insists. This causes Callie to burst into laughter.

“Dork.”

Callie turns out the lights and they snuggle down for sleep and she reaches for her wife to cuddle. Arizona happily complies, relaxing with a sigh, settling in as the little spoon.

“Calliope?”

“Hmm?”

“In the interest of honesty, and our new leaf as communicating spouses, I have to tell you something.”

“Ok.” Callie said as she lifts her head and rests it on her hand, elbow on the bed. “What’s bothering you, sweetheart?”

“I… I was kind of jealous today. With all the Torres Method talk, and ‘study buddy’ stuff with April, and Webber calling you his wife.... and touching you. I know I have no reason to be, I trust you completely, but it’s just how I felt… feel, and I wanted you to know.” Arizona finishes a bit timidly.

“I love you and you have nothing to worry about, but I hear your concerns and in the future I’ll try to be less touchy-feely with my fake husbands and I’ll ease up on the naughty study innuendo. The Torres Method is official retired.”

“Oh, it had better not be!” They both giggle and share a kiss.

“Can I tell you something?” Callie said after pulling away from the kiss.

“Anything.”

“Twice this week, two separate people, asked me if I was pregnant. And… and I was kind of disappointed to tell them no. Either that, or I was pissed they implied I was fat. I’m having a bit of trouble deciphering the two emotions.”

“Calliope, you are not fat and you know it. So, if you are disappointed… if you are feeling like this, you need to own it. Right?”

“You’re right. I haven’t really thought about us having another baby, because Sofia is enough and she’s perfect, and with everything that has happened… But their assumptions definitely stirred a… longing? For, maybe, a second perfect something?”

“I don’t know that I’m ready, right now, but I’m open to the possibility. I… I could see us with another perfect little squishy face, if you want… and, and if you don’t, then I’m ok with that too. Just, not this instant, we have other things we need to think about first, like buying a house, and the fact that we work on a Hellmouth… me with an infant and a prosthetic, I’m sure I’d be fine, but… it’s something I need to process. Ok? Does that help?”

“You’re amazing,” Callie said, “and whatever we decide, I love you very much.”

The End