"Carina," Maya said, taking one of the biggest chances of her life.
The woman in question turned around, and stared back at the blonde with a hard look on her face as the memories of two weeks ago flashed through her mind."What do you want?" She asked.
Maya's hands shook as she tried to find the right words - she only had one chance. She couldn't mess this up, not again. She'd already done that once.
"I'm an idiot," she blurted out, mentally facepalming herself, but once the words left her mouth she couldn't stop. "You were right, I was abused, my dad was abusive but that is no excuse for what I did to you," she took a breath as her eyes locked in on brown.
She'd spent countless numbers of hours just staring into those eyes, she knew them like the back of her hand, the way they would shine whenever she smelt good coffee, or the way they would get ever so slightly lighter when she was happy, usually after a successful surgery, the way they would darken whenever the sexual tension in the room became all too much.
She knew Carina's eyes and it hurt her to see the way they were glassed over, the hurt being barricaded in but Maya knew - she could see the pain she had put the woman in front of her through and she had to get her back. She had to make this right, because Carina was it for her. She was her person, her other half - she just had to hope that she would be granted a second chance.
"I- just please, please take me back," she begged, her own tears beginning to fall down her face. "I love you, and I've never said that about anyone before - except my brother so it means something," she rambled, pleading with the world that she wasn't out of time, that she wasn't out of luck.
"I love you Carina," she reaffirmed, taking a cautious step forward. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry," she repeated, her voice cracking as she said it a third time, all the emotion she'd been holding back trying to break through. "Please forgive me."
This was it. The one chance she had left.
"Forgive her," a new voice said, for the first time Maya only realising there had been another person being a part of their conversation.
Carina turned and raised her eyebrows, letting out a sound of discontempt for her fellow surgeon.
"She cheated on me with her ex boyfriend!" She cried, her heart splitting in two as she looked at her ex-girlfriend, wanting nothing more than to just pull her into her arms and forget about what had happened - the other half wanting to leave Maya for good - her brain screaming at her that she deserved better.
"Then you threw it in my face, just to hurt me!" She continued - all her unspoken words finally being expressed. Since that night, since the night her heart had crumbled and the door had been shut in her face she hadn't been able to truly express how she felt but now Maya was in front of her, begging for forgiveness and pleading for another chance.
"And what am I supposed to do now? Forget that? Am I supposed to trust you?" She exclaimed, throwing her hands out.
Maya didn't know what to say, what could she say? She didn't deserve Carina and she knew that but she had to try and she would spend every day of her life trying to prove that if she had to.
"I don't know," Maya admitted, shaking her head - disappointed in herself. "I don't know. But I'm okay spending every day trying to convince you," she continued, the same determined look crossing her eyes. The same one that Carina had fallen in love with, the one that told the brunette Maya was set on her goals....but was that enough?
They both were silent, breath caught in their throats as Maya waited for Carina's answer, both just staring at one another as Carina tried to silently figure out this conflict in her mind.
"Forgive her!" Teddy interjected, breaking Carina's train of thought as she groaned. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry but if you love her forgive her."
Carina tightened her jaw as she looked back at Maya. Her bloodshot blue eyes, her haphazardly cut hair that she still had a million questions about and the exhausted and tired expression ingrained into her features.
"You broke my heart," Carina stated.
"Let me fix it, please let me fix it," Maya begged, taking another step forward, trying to take Carina's hands in her own, only for the brunette to move them away.
"The pieces don't fit anymore Maya," Carina sighed, tears rolling down her face. "You can't fix it. No matter how hard you try, the pieces will never fit the way they did before. I'm sorry, but I can't," she continued using the sleeve of her white lab coat to dry her eyes, or at least attempt to, because as quick as brushed them away they appeared again.
"Please," Maya tried again, was this really happening? Was she really losing the life of her life?
"I'm sorry," Carina replied, watching as Maya's head dropped in rejection and the slow nod of acceptance.
"Okay. I deserve it - I never deserved you and I'm sorry I couldn't be the person you should have had. I hope you can find the one Carina," Maya said, trying to ignore the searing pain ripping through her body as her heart split in two.
"Bye Maya," Carina said, knowing she was only moments away from breaking down.
Maya nodded again before turning back and walking away. She'd lost her. She'd lost the only person that ever meant anything to her and the worst part was that it was all her fault.
5 years later....
"Nineteen line up in the barn!"
The hurried steps of the firefighters echoed around the barn, each coming from different directions - some from the lobby, some from the turnout rooms and others from the overhead walkway where they clambered down the metal stairs until they each stood side by side in two symmetrical rows.
"Captain," they all greeted.
"I'm sorry to interrupt your morning, I know how busy you were all with your chores," she gave a pointed glare to some members of the team as they looked down guiltily while some covered their laughs with coughs.
"Sorry Cap," Travis and Vic apologised, knowing they had been trying to play trash basketball for the past half an hour in the beanery.
"But, that isn't why I called you here."
"Herrera?" Warren questioned seeing the almost giddy grin on their Captain's face.
"You can come on out now!" Andy yelled, the rest of nineteen looking around very confused.
"Did I hear you lot are still slacking off?" A familiar voice sounded through the barn.
"Bishop!" They all yelled, running towards the blonde who entered the room. They all gathered her in a group hug, Vic and Andy being in the very middle, almost crushing their former captain and best friend.
"Okay - okay I would like to breathe if possible," Maya laughed as everyone slowly detangled themselves from her, but forming a close semi-circle.
"What are you doing back?" Vic asked, a wide smile on her face.
Five years ago after the breakup Maya had needed to get out, she couldn't bare to see Carina's face, the faces of her friends knowing her actions had hurt them just as much as the brunette, she couldn't bare to be in the same space as her - so in typical Maya fashion she ran. To the other side of the country, all the way to New York. A new Captain's position had opened up and she'd taken it. She needed to escape her past and she'd worked on herself, she'd gone to therapy to talk about the abuse she had endured while under her father's household and she'd tried to become the best version of herself. If she didn't owe it to herself she at least owed it to Carina. Deep down there had always been the thought in her head about whether she'd ever get to see the woman she loved again. Because she was still in love with her, she always would be.
She'd had a few occasional relationships in New York, she dated an artist for a while, a bartender and an actor but none had lasted longer than three months because none of them were Carina. How could anyone ever match up to perfect? She'd focused on her new job, in her new city, in her new apartment - she was determined to make some much needed changes in her life and over time she'd found that to be true. She was able to cope with her emotions more, was able to express them in healthy ways without bottling them up and pushing them down. She felt like a whole new person, or more of a grown person at that. She hadn't changed, she was still Maya Bishop - the ever competitive, determined, olympian but she was also Maya Bishop who had learnt to slow down, to breathe, to sometimes stop and look around and she was happy. Well, she thought she was. Until a new job opportunity was brought to her attention back in Seattle. Home. It was only then she realised how much she missed, she missed her friends, she missed Joe's, she missed her running trails, although Central Park did have its perks, she missed Carina.
Three weeks later she had sold her New York apartment, bought a new one back in Seattle and had accepted her job offer. She'd phoned Andy and told her the news, but with strict instructions to keep it a secret as she wanted to surprise the rest of their friends.
"So...come on Bishop!" Travis nudged her. "What are you doing back - a social visit or...?"
"Meet your new Battalion Chief," Maya grinned, getting a collective gasp and a set of cheers from everyone.
'What?! That's amazing!" Miller smiled, bringing in the short blonde for a hug.
"Thank you. So, once again I'm the boss of all you again," she teased.
The team all let out a playful grin before laughing and smiling. "We've missed you around here Bishop," Warren said.
"I've missed you guys too. I know it's late and I should have done this ages ago but I'm sorry for just leaving you all," she apologised. "I couldn't be here anymore and-"
"You're good Maya," Andy said, squeezing her shoulder. "We all understood your reasons and truthfully as much as we all missed you I think you needed to get out of here. Take on a new chapter in your life, get some new experiences - you look good too."
"You look easy," Vic said, rolling her body.
"Breezy," Travis added with a smirk, copying his best friend's actions.
"Hm okay thanks," Maya laughed, giving the pair a light shove. "Now, I just wanted to stop by and say hey to everyone - drinks after shift? On me?" She proposed.
"Hell yeah!" Everyone agreed with a cheer, high-fiving each other.
"Now, I'm pretty sure I heard your Captain talk about chores," she said, raising her eyebrows, Andy stood beside her with the same expression.
"On it Chief and Captain," everyone said. "Bye Maya, see you later," they all added, giving her a round of hugs.
Once everyone had left the barn Andy turned to look at her best friend, "It's good to have you back Bishop," She smiled.
"It's good to be back," Maya said, pulling the woman in for a hug.
Just as they finished their hug the alarms began to blare.
"See you later!" Andy called out, rushing towards the engines as did the rest of 19. God Maya had missed them all.
Later that night....
"Bishop!!" Everyone cheered as she entered through the doors of Joe's bar.
Giving a wave to them all she quickly embraced the man behind the counter. "Missed you Bishop!" He laughed.
"Missed you too Joe," she smiled.
"Next round is one the house," he offered, getting a grateful nod from the blonde.
Maya slid her way into the booth, the same place as she'd always had - as if she'd never left.
"Hey everyone," she smiled, pulling Vic in for a sideways hug, taking the beer they'd already got for her and taking a sip. "Sorry I'm a bit late - I'm still unpacking."
"No worries - we're just glad you could make it," Miller smiled, knocking his beer neck against Maya's before raising it and taking a sip himself.
"Me too," Maya agreed, looking round at her team. "So, what have I missed?" She asked.
An hour later...
"So you destroyed the oven with the jaws of life?" Maya laughed as Travis told the story.
"I paid good money for that turkey!" He protested.
"Then Jack slipped over on the water sprinklers and knocked the potatoes all over the floor," Warren added, only making everyone laugh harder, including Jack who had to laugh at the memory.
"For some reason this story doesn't even surprise me," Maya smiled.
"Hm - it was certainly an interesting story to tell the old chief why we needed an increase in our budget for the year," Andy said looking slightly unamused.
"Oh I can imagine," Maya smirked, having dealt with her fair share of incidents which she'd had to report to then Battalion Chief Andrews. "Who wants another drink?" She asked, seeing the large collection of beers in the centre of the table. Almost everyone put up their hand to which Maya excused herself and went up to the bar top to order.
"Hey!" Andy said, taking a seat next to the blonde.
"Hey," Maya smiled - "Another drink order?" She questioned, not sure why the woman had followed her.
"No, all good. I wanted to ask you about something - or rather someone."
Maya sighed and slowly nodded. "What about her?"
"What do you plan on doing now you are back? You can't avoid her forever."
"No but I can try. I messed her life up once, don't want to do it again," Maya said, knowing deep down that wasn't true, well it was, but there was a part of her that had taken the job back in Seattle for Carina. With the hope she would get to see the brunette again and maybe try again.
"You should talk to her," Andy advised.
"How is she?" Maya asked.
"She's good. We don't see her much anymore, but the first few weeks after you left...were tough. We had a call for a pregnant woman in a car accident, we took her to Grey Sloan and Carina met us there. Her eyes were red and she looked exhausted, and not just the usual end of shift tired but haven't slept in weeks kind of tired. We went to go and check up on the mother and baby a few days later and I saw Carina in the halls."
"You spoke to her?"
"Yeah - she asked about you," Andy revealed. "I told her you'd moved to New York and she tried not to show anything but I can tell how much it hurt her. I saw a tear roll down her cheek and then she excused herself and ran into a supply closet."
Maya swallowed and nodded, she'd managed to hurt the woman even when she'd been all the way across the country.
"You should talk to her Maya," Andy repeated. "It's been five years, a lot has changed - you never know what that could mean for you both unless you talk to her." Andy patted the blonde on the back, just as Joe returned with the collection of beers.
Maya gave a small smile in appreciation - before picking up her beer and circling it around on the bar. What Andy had said was correct, she couldn't just walk around Seattle and hope she never bumped into Carina, or any of her friends for that matter - it was impossible. But speaking to Carina also felt like an impossible task - what would she say? What would she do? She didn't know.
With an irritated sigh she pushed herself up off the bartop and took the tray of beers back over to the table.
Two weeks later...
Maya had settled back into her routine - having set up the majority of her apartment and buying most of the bigger pieces of furniture: bed, sofa, dining table, tv as well as a plethora of other things and decorating a few different rooms as well.
She had a two bedroom apartment, an open plan living space with a nice view of the park from her bedroom and a view of downtown from the living room. It was light and airy and fresh. A fresh start.
She'd started her new job a week ago, and she loved it. Being back in the action, being back home - New York was nice, it was great even, but it wasn't home. This was where she belonged, at 19. She was thankful that Andy had been more than welcome to have her in the upstairs office, and had actually said she'd be offended if she'd decided to operate out of any other station. It was a lot of paperwork, but it didn't bother her too much - she thrived under schedules, budgets and organisation - it was her forte if you will. She enjoyed getting to have meal times back with her team, getting to overview the rest of the stations across her district and being the youngest battalion chief in the history of Seattle fire was a nice feeling too.
She was currently standing in a coffee shop waiting for her order to be called out, black shorts and a red cut off shirt - already finding her feet with her running trails again. Enjoying the familiarity it brought her body, breathing in the fresh air of the forests and the rocky paths she would do on a weekend. She felt this sense of elation running through her body, an unexplainable sense of happiness - she walked with a spring in her step and her smile a little brighter.
"Yes - Sir. I will be holding a meeting for all the captains within the next few days. Yes I sent an email out on Thursday so barring no emergencies I should have full attendance. Okay-sir," Maya said, taking her order and mouthing a small thank you.
She turned her back to push the door open with her shoulder, hanging up the phone all at the same time not realising there was someone there was someone coming in at the same time.
"Oh shit!" Maya cried, realising she'd knocked into someone. A small grunt of pain coming from the other woman.
"Carina..." Maya managed to say, seeing the woman she'd fallen in love with standing right in front of her.
"What are you doing here?" They both asked, both chuckling as they awkwardly stood in the middle of the doorway.
"You're back," Carina continued, still unable to believe the blonde haired woman was here.
"I'm back," Maya confirmed.
"On a social visit or-"
"For good. I got a job here, battalion chief," Maya explained.
"Congratulations," Carina smiled.
"Thank you," Maya said quietly.
A small silence fell over the pair, neither having expected to see one another at this exact moment.
"Can I buy you a coffee?" Maya blurted out, before she'd even had the chance to process the words in her brain.
"Uhm-" Carina looked a bit conflicted. Here she was standing in front of her ex-girlfriend who had cheated on her, then moved to New York without telling her and now they were standing face to face five years later and the funny thing was she still got butterflies in her stomach. She was still encapsulated by those bright blues, still drawn in by that charming smile, still craving to feel her body pressed up against her own.
"Please," Maya tried, "It's the least I can do for knocking into you."
"Okay," Carina agreed, both of them letting out wide, but nervous smiles.
Maya and Carina both walked up to the counter.
"One macchiato with a slice of lemon cake please," Maya ordered, the order falling off her lips like no time had ever passed.
"You remembered?" Carina stated, trying to hide the blush that she felt rising to her cheeks....after all these years she still remembered.
"Of course," Maya said, a soft smile gracing her lips. "I think I bought it for you about a million times so it's quite hard to forget," She joked, easing the tension between the two.
"Grazie," Carina smiled, dipping her head as she crossed her feet.
"You uhm, you look good," Maya risked, taking a sip of her own coffee - hoping she wasn't overstepping.
"Thanks Maya, you do too. You kept the shorter hair," Carina replied, looking at the shorter blonde ponytail compared to when they first started dating.
Subconsciously Maya's hand went to her head as she smoothed down some stray wispy ends that had come loose during her run, "Yeah. Once I got it cut properly I didn't mind it as much, easier to wash and put up."
"It looks nice," Carina complemented. This turn it was Maya's turn to blush.
Carina's order was called out and the brunette went to collect it, both walking towards the exit.
"Thank you for the coffee and cake," Carina smiled.
"You're welcome, as I said - it was the least I could do."
"So, I'll probably be seeing you around then, Battalion Chief," Carina winked, making Maya laugh.
"Probably," Maya smiled.
Carina went to turn away before all of Andy's words threw themselves to the front of Maya's brain.
"Carina! Wait!" She called, reaching for the brunette's wrist.
Carina quickly turned around, a confused look on her face but also a hopeful one.
"What are you doing tomorrow night?"
"Tomorrow?" Carina questioned, wondering what Maya was asking.
"Could I maybe see you, we can just go for a walk or something - catch up maybe?" Maya's heart was beating faster than it ever had before, holding her breath she waited for the brunette's response. She could sense the conflict running across her features so she continued.
"All I ask is that I can see you later - please," Maya begged, she couldn't let this opportunity go again.
"I finish shift at six," Carina replied. "I'll meet you outside Enzo's at seven?"
"I'll see you at Enzo's at seven," Maya confirmed, remembering the evening they'd spent their first date at the same Italian restaurant. "Thank you Carina," she added, wanting the brunette to know how much this meant to her, Carina didn't owe anything to her either, this was just out of the pure goodness of the Italian's heart.
"See you tomorrow Maya," Carina smiled, before turning away once again and walking down the street, Maya just watching as she left. She finally let out a deep sigh as the past ten minutes all just replayed in her head.
She couldn't believe she'd seen her again. She was just as beautiful as she had been five years ago, somehow even more so. Her long, chestnut wavy hair had tinges of blonde running through it and it had grown a few inches, her face was more defined - everything was so mesmerising. She had felt the same magnetic pull the second she'd seen her, like no time had passed since that time that they'd been together, everything about Carina excited her.
Her immaculate sense of style, black ripped jeans, black turtleneck which made sense given the fall weather, and a black denim jacket that was draped across her shoulders, casual yet stunning. It was something Maya had noticed very early on in their relationship, which was how Carina had this innate ability to put together any outfit no matter what she had in front of her, and every time it looked like she could walk down a runway.
With an excited, almost giddy smile at the thought that she would get to see Carina again tomorrow she began her walk home - maybe returning home was the best decision she could have ever made.
"I saw her!" Maya cried down the phone as soon as she got home.
"Who?" Andy asked, in the middle of cleaning her home.
"Carina!" Maya said as if it was obvious.
"What?! What do you mean? How? When?" Her best friend rambled off, sitting down deciding this was way more important than reorganising the coffee table decorations.
"At the coffee shop - I was on the phone to the Chief talking about the meeting next week-"
"The meeting I sent you an email about!" Maya exclaimed. "Check your emails Herrera!"
"Okay - I will. Sorry - anyway back to Carina!"
"Oh yeah - so I had just hung up the phone and pushed the door open but had my back to the door when I knocked into someone, I went to apologise and there she was," Maya sighed with a dreamy smile on her face, falling down onto the sofa.
"Like a romantic comedy movie," she laughed.
"Pretty much," Maya chuckled. "God I missed her so much, Andy. Just seeing her there....I felt my heart beat twice as fast, my head was all over the place."
"So what happened after?"
"Well I offered to buy her a coffee to apologise for knocking into her, and then we made some small talk - I told her about my new job and she looked happy."
"That's good," Andy smiled through the phone, so happy for her best friend. She could sense there was something else too. "Then what?"
"I asked her if I could see her tomorrow - just to talk, catch up."
"She said yes I am presuming?"
"She looked slightly hesitant but she agreed."
"Finally! I've always said you two are perfect for each other and now, this is the first step to you two realising you are soulmates!" Andy cried happily.
"Okay calm down - I haven't seen the woman in five years - who knows what's happened, she could be seeing someone else. Oh god - what if she's dating someone else?!" Maya suddenly realised, sitting up on the sofa.
"Just take it slow bishop - I don't think she is, but I don't know too much about the hospital gossip these days. But just go and talk, explain things," Andy advised.
"Okay - yeah that's a good plan. Thanks Andy. I've missed this."
"Me too Maya. Me too - now I am expecting full details after everything!"
"Got it," Maya laughed. "Talk to you later - and check your damn emails!" She cried before hanging up the phone.
She was seeing Carina tomorrow, after all these years she would get to spend some time with the woman she had both loved and consequently hurt. She just hoped this time she could show her that she had changed, grown, that she wanted to try again.
The next day....
Andy: Good luck! Don't fuck it up!
Maya chuckled seeing the message from her best friend. She was currently standing outside Enzo's waiting on Carina. She had arrived ten minutes early, in typical Maya fashion she still liked to be punctual. It had allowed her some time to breathe, time to think, she'd checked her watch constantly the minutes feeling like hours as she paced up and down the small stretch of street banging her phone against her hand to ease her nerves.
As she completed what felt like the umpteenth lap of the sidewalk when she turned around she saw her. In all her beauty there she was - hair tossed to the side, a black leather jacket on, covering a stone, beige coloured t-shirt and some light blue jeans, some white trainers on too match - she looked stunning, which wasn't to Maya's surprise.
"Hey," Maya breathed with a smile. "You look really nice," she complimented, not wanting to go too far, having the same boundaries she gave herself back at the coffee shop.
"You do too," Carina returned, her eyes roaming over the tight black jeans, nicely sculpting Maya's defined muscles, the white t-shirt and the white and almost burnt orange coloured plaid jacket. Given Maya had been in the cold city of New York she'd managed to acquire even more winterish clothes, which she didn't think was possible after living in Seattle her whole life, but apparently it was.
"Thanks," Maya replied, rocking back on her shoes as she stuffed her hands in her pockets. "You want to walk?"
Carina nodded and they fell into a walk side by side.
"How was your shift?" Maya asked, wanting to try and start on some safe ground before they moved onto the heavier, inevitable topics they would end up on.
"Busy," Carina laughed. "Everyone's New Years and Christmas decisions are being born," she joked, making Maya join in her laughter.
"Nine," Carina revealed.
"Nine!" Maya cried, not believing it.
"Sì, as I said - busy day."
"Sounds like it."
"Speaking of busy days - how is your new job?"
"Good - busy too. Lots of paperwork and having to go back over what the last guy left. Going over regulations, district rules, station budgets - it's a lot but I'm enjoying it. Once I get my system into full use everything should go a lot smoother," Maya explained.
"Well I know how much you liked to be organised so I'm sure it will all work itself out."
"Thanks," Maya smiled. "How's Andrew?"
"Good - he's a lot better. Taking his meds and everything, he's been good for a while now," Carina smiled, Maya instantly sensing the relief radiating off the woman.
"I'm glad, for you and him."
There were so many questions circling around Maya's mind, was Carina in a relationship? Did she have another chance? Could they ever have another shot at a relationship or where they forever bound to be a disaster?
"I'm single," Carina suddenly said, breaking Maya out of her mental spiral.
"Sorry?" Maya said, not quite sure she had heard the brunette correctly.
"I could tell you wanted to ask, you still do this thing when you want to ask something but aren't sure if you should. Your eyebrow furrows, but only slightly and you bite the corner of your lip. So to answer your question, yes I am single."
Maya nodded, hope coursing through her veins - did that mean something? Even if Carina had figured out what Maya had wanted to ask there was no reason for her to acknowledge it - but she had.
"I started therapy." Maya blurted out.
"You did?" Carina asked, her shock rather evident by the expression on her face.
Maya hummed in agreement. "I was just as shocked as you were but after...everything," she said, avoiding the subject directly as best as she could. "I know I needed help. I needed advice and support and it wasn't something I could just ignore anymore. So after my first week in the city I found someone, Dr Diane Lewis. She was really nice, helped me realise a lot of things I never quite understood, behaviours that I used to excuse and bad habits I'd picked up over the years. I learnt a lot, about myself, about my relationships with others," Maya said, proud of her achievements in her growth journey - but also wanting Carina to know she wasn't the same person that had broken her heart and done one of the worst things she'd ever done. She'd changed - she just hoped Carina could see that.
"I'm proud of you Maya," Carina smiled, giving her wrist a small squeeze, that same electric buzz erupting all over Maya's skin. "I know how hard things were for you back then, I'm glad you realised you are worth more than what you believed. That's all I ever wanted for you."
"Thank you," Maya said with a shy smile.
"I will admit I didn't expect it."
"Understandable," Maya agreed.
"But I'm more than happy to be proved wrong occasionally," She joked, making Maya laugh.
"You say that but I know you hate being proved wrong. I guess it helps you are usually right."
Carina chuckled, knowing Maya was in fact correct in her statement, on both accounts too.
They looked around at the sudden rise in noise level and saw they walked to a collection of food trucks. Benches and fairy lights hanging from the ceiling, musicians playing various songs and a few stalls selling different homemade goods; food, jewellery, decor and such.
"Hungry?" Maya asked, nodding her heat in the direction of the food trucks.
The smells of all different cuisines filling their noses making their stomachs rumble.
"I guess I have an answer," Maya joked, getting a small hit in the shoulder from the brunette. "What do you fancy?"
They both looked around and considered their options: tacos, pizza, burgers, sushi, grilled cheese, bbq chicken - there were an endless number of options.
Once they'd done a look over they both turned to one another.
"Pizza." They both said before laughing - it would always be pizza. The blonde having an ungodly addiction to the stuff after being introduced to true authentic Italian pizza by the brunette and having spent time in the city had only heightened that addiction, and seeing as the truck was from one of the best Italian restaurants in the Seattle, they knew it wouldn't be a food crime to eat from there.
They made their way to the front, thankful the lines weren't too busy.
"What can I get for you two ladies?" The man asked with a kind smile.
"Can we have one boscaiola and one quattro formaggi please?" Carina asked.
"You remembered?" Maya laughed.
"How could I forget?" Carina chuckled, remembering them saying the exact same words the day before.
"$12.60," the man said, Carina handing over a twenty dollar bill before Maya could even protest.
"You paid for my coffee," Carina justified, Maya nodding knowing she would never win the argument. "Keep the change," she added, the man smiling in thanks.
Less than a minute later two large slices of pizza were placed in front of them. "Thank you," they both said before wordlessly making their way to an open bench, sitting either side.
"I still don't know how you can eat those," Maya commented, taking a bite of her own pizza, the fairy lights making Maya's eyes shine impossibly brighter.
"Mushrooms?" Carina chuckled as she swallowed a mouthful.
"They are just so ew," Maya said, visibly shuddering as she looked at them.
"I could say the same about you and kale," Carina quipped back with a playful smile.
"Touché," Maya conceded. "So, tell me. What have you been up to?"
"Well I am now head of OB," Carina revealed.
"What?! Carina, that's amazing!" Maya smiled, reaching to hold her hand and give it a squeeze in congratulations, before releasing what she'd done and pulling it away. "When- when did that happen?"
"Around two years ago. Our old head of OB-"
"Maya!" Carina chastised, while stifling a laugh.
"What?!" Maya cried. "She was awful to you and you would complain about her all the time. She made you do a load of night shifts plus you told me all about that study you did and how she wouldn't let you have the records. So, I won't apologise for hating her."
"Fine - I hated her too," Carina bashfully admitted, making Maya grin. "Anyways, when she left Dr Bailey asked me and I accepted. We've been doing really well as a department making efforts to help continue improving prevention. We have the lowest mortality rate in the entire state, second in the country and are already transforming the neonatal unit to be more in tune with the most recent and advanced technology."
"Wow - you certainly have been busy," Maya said, impressed but not surprised by the brunette's achievements and changes to the hospital. "I always knew you'd get there though," She smiled.
"Yeah?" Carina asked, unable to hide the blush.
Maya hummed as she finished off her pizza slice. "How could I not? You're the smartest person I know."
"Thanks Maya," Carina replied softly.
"Anything else? Kinda hard to top that?" Maya asked.
"No not really - oh I moved."
"Yeah? How come?"
"I just felt like a change, I did it at the same time as I got my new job, an indulgent gift I guess. What I forgot to realise is how stressful moving is," she said, shaking her head.
"Ah I can imagine," Maya laughed.
"You were always the more organised one - I just went with the flow of things. That day though I needed to be organised, let's just say I slept on a lone mattress on the ground for the first few nights because I didn't realise my new bed frame wasn't getting delivered until the end of the week," Carina admitted, only making Maya laugh more.
"I'm not even going to ask how you managed to mess that up," Maya said, dying down from her laughter.
"Please don't," Carina chuckled, those long, uncomfortable nights all coming back to her.
"Want to keep walking?" Maya asked, seeing as they'd both finished.
"Sure," Carina agreed.
They both stood up, cleared away their rubbish and then continued on the walk, deciding to take a trip past the bay - knowing there was a beautiful view of the sea and the harbour as well as the park behind them.
"Do you remember the time you made me go on a run with you down here?"
"Longest run of my life, I've never heard someone complain as much." Carina theatrically gasped in offence.
"I wasn't that bad!"
"You were!" Maya countered with an amused scoff. "You wanted to give up after five minutes."
"Because it was boring!"
"No it's not!"
"Yes it is! Plus I had other means of cardio in mind when you suggested it."
"Like what?" Maya laughed. Carina just gave Maya a look and then the blonde understood. "I see," she chuckled to herself. "I will admit that would have been a nice alternative."
"Do you still run everyday?"
"No," Maya answered, shocking Carina. "One of the many things I learned in therapy. Sometimes it's okay to take a break, to rest and to sleep. If I don't run one morning, sometimes even two mornings in a row - nothing bad will happen," Maya said, recalling what Dr Lewis had told her.
"Wow," Carina replied.
"I know right," Maya smiled, playfully nudging the brunette with her shoulder. "Who'd have thought therapy would actually help?" She joked.
"I really am proud of you Maya. I know I said it before but seeing how much you've grown, the habits you've got yourself out of, the changes you've made to better your life. I'm proud," Carina smiled.
"Thank you," Maya returned. "Want to go lay down a bit? Look at the stars?" She suggested, that having always been one of the brunette's favourite activities.
"Do you even have to ask?" Carina laughed, going to join Maya as they laid down on the grass, thankful it hadn't rained in a few days and was therefore dry. The adrenaline of finally being near one another again after all this time and still having the butterflies flying in her stomach was enough to keep her warm from the gentle breeze coming in from the sea.
As they laid there and stared out into the endless skies above they couldn't help the thoughts that swirled through their heads.
Carina still couldn't believe Maya was back - it had taken her so long to get used to the fact she would never see the blonde again. Would never catch a fleeting glimpse of her in the ambulance bay, never see her in Joe's bar again, never see her walking around the streets or out on one of her runs - but now she was here.
She was back and it had all happened so fast and now they were lying underneath the stars together as if no time had ever passed. Was that a sign of hope? Or a sign that sometimes people were meant to show us that we deserved more? Was Maya the one? Despite everything they'd been through - was she the one?
Maya didn't know what to think. The woman she was still in love with was inches away from her. They'd had a good night, a great night even - as if nothing had happened and they were just Maya and Carina again. Two people just hopelessly in love. But Maya couldn't ignore the past, she would be foolish to do so. She knew Carina was one, she just had to hope she wasn't too late. That the decisions she'd made in life, the choices to move to New York, to mature to get new experiences to get the help she needed - she just hoped that the one thing she'd wanted out of all this was still a reality.
She knew she would always be Carina's, she was the love of her life and she would never find anyone like her - the one question left to answer was....could Carina ever be hers again?
They settled under the silence as they watched the stars, occasionally allowing for their eyes to wander and focus on the planes flying above, their lights flickering green and red as they moved across the black canvas, each painting their own destiny in delicate strokes.
Maya took a breath before she turned her head to stare at Carina, just admiring her side profile and watching her eyes as they sparkled under the gleam of the moon. This was it...she said to herself. She'd held back these words all night and she had to say them. She had to tell Carina how she felt, even if it meant losing her all over again - she was worth the risk.
"I missed you, and I know it was my fault. I know that. I know that it's not fair of me to say that I miss you, but I do. I don't know we will ever get this kind of time together again so I wanted to tell you," Maya said, needing to tell Carina how she felt, how she still felt.
"I missed you too," Carina admitted, her head turning from the sky to face Maya's blue eyes - even after five years they still managed to encapsulate her. Some things never change.
"You did?" Maya asked surprised, she wouldn't have been shocked if Carina hadn't - after everything she'd done she would have deserved it.
"All the time. It was the small things. The old random notes I would find in my apartment, picking up your favourite cereal in the grocery store, seeing the engines speed past down the street, missing the surprise visits and good morning texts, the way you were always warm no matter what and the after shift cuddles. I hated you, but I loved you and I missed you."
Maya didn't know how to answer, so she stayed silent, her eyes not leaving the chestnut brown that were still staring back at her.
"You hurt me more than anyone had ever hurt me, because you were so unexpected. I never thought I would come to Seattle and find love, I came to look after my brother and I think that's what hurt me most - the fact that you came into my life and turned it around, gave me hope for a future, gave me hope to find a person I could call home...and you were the one..."
"The one that ruined it," Maya finished, swallowing her tears.
"You were it for me Maya."
"Do you ever think we could have another chance?" Maya asked bravely. It was the one question she'd been wanting to ask the minute Carina had told her no all those years ago.
Carina took a deep breath - this exact question had run more circles in her mind than she would ever be able to count. She'd imagined this moment; Maya returning, asking her to start again, asking to rebuild what they had....but now it was here. She couldn't find an answer. Did she? Did she think they could ever have another chance? Another chance at loving one another? Another chance and finding their forever home? Their forever person?
The growing silence between them made Maya nervous - she knew she shouldn't have asked, she stepped too far....until a hand clutched her own, the same hand that she'd held so many times, the same hand Maya had wanted to put a ring on, the same hand Maya used to spin the brunette around while they'd danced in the rain...
"I don't think I have it in me to have my heart broken twice Maya," Carina whispered, her eyes glassing over.
Maya bit her lip and nodded, excepting that this was it. She'd truly lost the only woman she had ever loved.
"Don't break my heart again Maya," Carina continued. "Please don't." With a small sniffle Carina brought Maya's hand and placed it above her heart as the blonde moved closer to the body she had missed so much.
With them now side by side, the familiar spark began to reignite as if it had never truly been blown away, it had just been gently glowing, waiting for the breeze to finally pick it up again.
Carina's head rested on Maya's shoulder as they both looked up at the stars, Maya's hand still resting on the brunette's chest, her heart beating beneath her.
"I never stopped loving you," Maya said, keeping her eyes up. "I won't break your heart," she promised. "Because doing so the first time was the biggest mistake of my life. I won't let you down again."
"I never stopped loving you either," Carina admitted, slowly turning her head to face the blonde who did the same. "I love you Maya Bishop, always have, always will."
"I love you too Carina DeLuca," Maya whispered, her hand moving to gently stroke the brunette's cheek. "You're the one."
As they slowly inched closer together their lips met in a kiss that could only ever be described as magical. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder and it was true. The distance, the heartbreak, the tears, the revelations, the growth, the promises - it had all been worth it because in this very moment they knew. They knew they were meant for each other. Their bodies fit together like a puzzle, a perfect match of push and pull, a perfect balance.
Their lips moved softly over one another, a perfectly memorised dance that they knew off the back of their hands. Carina's hands fell to Maya's waist as the blonde moved both of her hands to hold her jaw as they continued reuniting in a way they only knew how. It was soft and passionate, loving yet full of desire, a kiss culminated by years of yearning and regret.
As they slowly pulled apart their hands remained in their places, never wanting to let go of one another again, Maya placed a gentle kiss on the brunette's forehead before pulling her in to lay her head on her chest again as her arms wrapped around her body.
No words were spoken, but they knew.
It would take time, and a lot of conversations, and a lot of handwork, but they knew they had found the one.
Sometimes love took a while, sometimes it threw us a curveball every once in a while, made us work a little bit harder for it, made us take the long way round, made us take a few detours but it would always work itself out in the end.
Sometimes all you have to do is ask.