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she breathes again

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This cannot be happening. The timing could not be more right and wrong at the same time. Just my luck, Jo thought while staring at the results in her hand. She was pregnant. 11 weeks, to be exact. She was almost done with the first trimester, how could she not notice she was pregnant? She’s a doctor, for God’s sake! 

Her thoughts then wander to how Alex would know immediately. He told her once that pregnant ladies have a smell, that he’s just that observant, and then proceeded to tell her about how he knew April was pregnant again with Jackson’s baby, with Arizona the only one knowing about it and before everyone else knew about it. 

Alex, oh Alex. Jo’s eyes start to fill with tears with thoughts about her husband. Yes, he is still her husband and yes, she will sign the divorce papers. She has to let him go, she knows that. But a part of her is still hoping that maybe, later, tomorrow, or next week, he’ll burst through those doors and tell her that he should’ve talked to her first, and they would’ve worked it out. She probably would have left her fellowship and moved to Kansas with him. She would have loved those kids of his like they were her own. But he didn’t give her that choice, instead, he chose for her, and broke his promise and vow in the process. 

Jo knows Alex loves her. With everything they had been through, they both knew how much they loved each other. Jo just wishes this wasn’t how their story would go. But she will give birth to this child. She will raise this baby and she will tell Alex she’s pregnant. No matter how hurt and mad she is, she knows Alex has the right to know. But not now. Now, she has to go and make the future of medicine possible.

Jo puts the results inside her bag and throws on her white lab coat, her finger tracing the name embroidered on the left side of her chest. She sighs before walking off to the lab and gets started with Dr. Bailey.

-

“Okay, Dr. Ka-, I mean Dr. Jo is going to take over for me while I go and deal with whatever the hell my doctors are up to now.” Bailey says as she steps back once she sees Jo walk in the room and they gown and glove her.

“We got this, Dr. Bailey.” Maggie says behind her mask, briefly looking up to look at Bailey then at Jo, who nods in agreement. Bailey nods back at them and walks out as Maggie starts a conversation with Jo.

“So, I heard you’re going on a vacation this weekend.” Maggie says, glancing up at Jo who was in front of her. Jo glances up at Maggie before returning her eyes back to the patient open on the table.

“It’s not so much a vacation, it’s kind of like a conference-slash-reunion.” Jo says. Well, technically, she’s not lying. There is a conference-slash-reunion happening at Harvard in Boston. She’s just not attending, she’s using it as an excuse to go to Kansas to finally tell Alex she’s having his baby. She’s been sitting on it for weeks, thinking everything over. He’s happy, she knows that and she doesn’t want to ruin that but she knows Alex, he could come back to Seattle a few years from now and see this kid that’s his and knows he missed years from another one of his kids’ lives. And that will inevitably hurt him. And she’s signed the divorce papers, she just has to mail them in but she’s planning on giving them to Alex, so that he would be the one to make this decision. She’s giving him a choice.

“Oh? You’re going to Boston then, huh?” Maggie slowly makes the connection that Kansas, where Alex and his family currently resides in, and Boston are fairly close. 

“Yeah, my old professors and classmates are pushing me to go now that I sort of have a name and a career.” Which is true, and not a lie, she’s just ignoring their emails, texts, and calls.

“Oh.” The surgery continues on without a problem and another conversation. As Jo and Maggie are scrubbing out, Jo sees Maggie open her mouth to start another small conversation from the corner of her eye, and hurriedly walks out the scrub room to avoid small talk.

“Oh, Jo, how was the surgery?” Bailey says, as Jo approaches the nurse’s station, the nurse handing her her tablet.

“It went smoothly, Dr. Bailey, vitals are stable, everything is fine.” Bailey nods at her as she checks in her tablet for the patient’s chart. 

“What time are you off, again?” Jo hands her tablet back to the nurse and checks her watch. 

“In a few minutes, actually.” Jo says and she takes out her phone to check her flight schedule. Bailey looks at Jo then back at the tablet before speaking again. 

“And when are you coming back?” Bailey’s been suspicious of Jo for a few days now, but everyone’s been wary of opening up any topic that could relate to her ex-husband. She doesn’t know exactly what’s going on with Jo, but she doesn’t wanna open the topic unless she’s sure of what is actually happening.

“In a few days, maybe 7 days tops.” Jo and Bailey start walking down the hall towards the attendings’ lounge.

Bailey hesitates to ask her more questions but pushes against it and asks her instead, “Where are you going again? Boston, right?” Jo narrows her eyes, but doesn’t turn her head to look at Bailey and instead answers her question as they continue to walk to the attendings’ lounge.

“Yes, I’m attending a conference and a reunion at Harvard.” They go into the lounge and Jo starts to fix her things and change her clothes as Bailey plops down on the couch after grabbing an apple from the table.

“Okay, well, if you’re going to extend your stay there, just give me a call or an email.” As soon as Bailey says that, Meredith and Link walk into the lounge.

“Mer, Link, can you please tell Dr. Bailey that I am fine, that I don’t need a vacation,” Meredith and Link look at each other with confused eyes and look at Bailey who is already looking back at the two of them with enlarged eyes, discreetly pointing to Jo while her back is turned to her. “And that I am only going to Boston because some people won’t freaking stop messaging and calling me.” Bailey puts on a smile and drops her hand when Jo turns back around to look at her.

There’s a moment of silence that envelops the room before Jo turns back to narrow her eyes at the two standing in front of her and Bailey. If it’s even possible, Jo narrows her eyes at the two more and they speak up.

“She’s fine, perfect really.”

“She’s absolutely okay, a-okay.”

Meredith and Link say simultaneously with excessive hand movements and Bailey opens her mouth and closes it back as she stares at the two in disdain, and they just shrug their shoulders at her.

“See? I’m fine. Yes, my husband left me, and yes, I am mad, but like he knew and said, I understand why he did what he did. I am going to Boston tomorrow morning to attend the conference at Harvard, and I am going to attend a reunion a day after that, and then I am coming back here, where my work is. Goodnight.” She finishes packing her things and walks out the lounge. She sighs and stops as she turns the corner of the hallway. She blinks away the tears that are threatening to pour out of her eyes, and walks inside the elevator.

Jo's in Kansas. Baldwin City in Kansas. She's in the same vicinity of where Alex is. Alex who now was a family here. In Kansas.

She's in a small diner in Kansas, close to Shawnee Memorial where Alex said he was going to apply and is probably now the head of Peds. She's having lunch but is currently experiencing braxton hicks, or at least that's what she thinks they are.

She waves a waitress over and asks for the bill. She can't bring herself to finish her lunch because of the pain and just wants to go back to her hotel room to lie down.

Jo pays the bill and leaves a tip on the table. She stands up from her seat but immediately holds on to the table in front of her as a fairly strong braxton hicks hits her. She tightens her hold on the edge of the table and breathes deeply waiting for it to pass but it only seems to strengthen.

She stands there and moves to sit back down but is met with a more powerful braxton hicks and loses her balance, causing her to fall down and a few people come to her aid.

“Ma’am, are you alright?” The waitress is the first to address her. She vaguely hears someone saying ‘Call 911!’ She groans and tries to speak but nothing comes out.

“Oh my gosh, I think she’s bleeding!” The woman standing behind the waitress says and the people surrounding her follow the woman’s gaze. Jo manages to find the waitress’ hand and grips it tightly. 

“I’m pregnant.” Jo manages to let out. “And I think I’m losing my baby.”

The last thing Jo sees is the look of realization that falls upon the waitress’ face and the last thing she feels is the waitress giving her hand a firm squeeze before she falls unconscious.

-

“Doctor, do you know who the on-call for OB today is? We have an incoming rig with a pregnant woman and they say she might be having a miscarriage.” The blonde doctor lifts her head up from her position behind the nurse’s station. 

“Oh, she just went on her lunch break. She’s the only OB on-call so she asked me to cover for her.”

“But you’re a surgical oncologist.” The intern trails off, not wanting to offend his superior, but the doctor just chuckles.

“I studied under one of the best OB doctors when I was an intern, and here in my residency, I know enough.” Izzie says as she begins to stand up to walk to where the gown and gloves are and puts them on before she proceeds to the ambulance bay outside. 

A few moments later, the ambulance came into the ambulance bay and once they opened the door, the paramedic started to spew off the patient’s state. Izzie checks the patient herself and they wheel her into the hospital.

“On my count, one, two, three.” They lift the patient and transfer her onto a bed. As they start to connect her to machines and stick IVs in her, they hear her groan and Izzie quickly goes beside her.

“Hey, hi. I’m Dr. Stevens, can you tell me your name?” The woman opens her mouth to say something but nothing comes out. Instead, tears start to fall down her cheeks and her hand finds Izzie’s, Izzie responding to her by squeezing her hand.

“Can you try to say your name?” Izzie says softly.

“J-Jo.” She croaks. 

“Okay, Jo, do you know where you are?” 

“My b-baby.” Jo grabs Dr. Stevens’ arm, “Save m-my baby.” She managed to let those words out before her eyes rolled to the back of her head and her heart monitor started went still.

“Code blue! Starting compressions.” Izzie started compressions on the woman's chest, the nurses bringing the crash cart over.

"Come on, Jo. You can't die on me. Charge to 150. Clear!"

Izzie looks at the heart monitor connected to Jo, the line taunting her.

"Charge to 200. Clear." 

"No change."

"Charge to 250. Clear."

"Still nothing. Dr. Stevens-"

"Shut up! Charge to 300, clear."

-

Pain.

The first thing they feel.

A bright light. 

The first thing they see.

Jo groans, her hand unconsciously and instinctively going to her stomach. No bump. Her other hand then goes to her stomach and feels no bump. Her heart starts to race, the result showing on the monitor, alarming the nurses and doctors.

"Jo! Jo, you have to calm down." Izzie runs in the room to find her patient trying to sit up and crying.

"Jo, you can't get up, you just had an operation." Izzie and some nurses try to get her to lie back in her bed but she fights and gets a hold of Izzie's arm.

"My baby, what happened to my baby?" She didn't stutter, and that somehow surprises Izzie.

"Okay, I will tell you what happened to you both but I need you to lie back down and try to calm down." Izzie says with a firm but soft voice, gently pushing Jo down on her bed.

"Was it placental abruption? I think I heard them say I was bleeding before I blacked out. I lost the baby, right? I'm only at sixteen weeks, I've been having braxton hicks since this morning. It's normal to feel them this early, but they just got so bad at the diner." Jo says, making Izzie wonder if she was studying or practicing medicine.

"Are you a doctor, Jo?" Izzie asks.

"I am. Dr. Jo Ka-Wilson, Dr. Jo Wilson. I'm sorry, what's your name again?" Jo says as she holds her hand out.

"I'm Dr. Izzie Stevens." Izzie continues to explain what has happened to her. "There was a tear in the placenta, which is what caused the bleeding. The bleeding wouldn’t stop so we rushed you into surgery. I'm very sorry, you-"

"You did everything you could, but there was too much damage. You took out my baby and you closed me back up. Were there any other complications?" Jo asks, professionally, despite the lone tear that rolled down her cheek that she didn't bother to wipe.

"No, there weren't any complications. I'm really sorry." Izzie says, trying to empathize with her patient.

"It's fine. How soon can you advise me to leave?" 

"Well, I would want you to stay for a few more days but-" Jo cuts her off, her voice coming out almost robotically.

"Can I leave the day after tomorrow? That's when my flight back home is scheduled." Izzie stares at Jo, seemingly thinking it over.

“Well, you could, and you’re a doctor so I guess you know what you’re doing.” Izzie reluctantly agreed to the grieving mother, she doesn’t want to put more stress on her and since she’s a doctor, she knows what happened to her and the complications that could happen.

“Okay then, I’m leaving the morning after tomorrow.” Jo nods at her and lies back down the bed to get more comfortable. She lays there and stares at the ceiling, her tears silently falling. Izzie stays for a few moments, pondering on what she should say. She chooses not to say anything at all and quietly leaves the room.

-

Izzie sighs as she opens the door to her house, the sight of Alex watching TV and drinking a beer on the couch, and she plops down next to him after planting a kiss on his cheek.

"Hey, how was your last day off with the kids?" Izzie asks, settling in beside Alex as he throws his arm around her.

"Great, we had fun." Izzie doesn't say anything about how his voice is slightly cold. She's noticed this about him. Whenever the kids are around, he lights up like a Christmas tree, but once it's just them, he dims. 

When he first came here, he never said anything about his life after Izzie. Instead, he told her all about what was happening with Meredith, Cristina, the hospital, but rarely anything about himself. Izzie wants to push, she really does but she knows he'll push back. And she can't risk the kids seeing them fighting. So she doesn't push at all.

 "What about you? Any cool cases come in?" Izzie sighs as she is reminded of her patient.

"No, not really." Izzie sighs and looks at him. "I discharged a patient of mine today, though. She came in like, two days ago. Lost her baby. She's a doctor like us, too, and when she woke up after the surgery, I started telling her about what happened and she immediately knew what had happened to her baby, and it was like," Izzie pauses, her throat closing up. "The life inside of her, figuratively and literally, was just, gone." 

Alex looks at her, "I'm sorry about that." Was all he said before he took his phone from the coffee table and opened it.

Izzie almost didn't see it. Or maybe she was hallucinating it, but when he opened his phone, the first thing that it showed was a picture of a woman that looked an awful lot like the patient she just discharged today. She shrugged it off and went into the kitchen to prepare herself dinner.

-

Three days later, Jo is back to work in Seattle. Like nothing happened. To Meredith and the others, nothing did happen to Jo. But Jo, she was slowly losing everything she ever wanted in life. Her husband, then her baby. What’s next, her career and family in Seattle?

Jo sighs and smiles at the nurse who takes the tablet from her hands to put it back in its place. She stands in front of the OR board and checks her surgeries. While she’s standing, Bailey and Meredith see her and stand beside her.

“So! How was the reunion?” Bailey says, uncharacteristically enthusiastic. Jo looks startled at Bailey’s unusually high voice and looks at Bailey with her head tilted to the side while Meredith sighs and puts a hand on her head, seemingly embarrassed and slightly disappointed at Bailey.

“It was fine. Uneventful, really. Thank God, I came back here early.” Bailey starts to think of another question to ask her but Jo beats her to it.

"Well, I'm gonna go. I have surgery in an hour and I want to get some rest before I go in. See you, doctors." Jo says and she walks down the hall to the elevators, waving to Meredith and Bailey before the elevator doors close.

-

A year has passed. A year has passed since Jo lost her baby. A baby that was supposed to be safe and protected in her womb. But she lost it. Just like how her husband was in a marriage that was supposed to be safe and protected and she lost him, too. 

Jo lays in her bed at the loft. Her 16-week scan facing down on Alex' side of the bed. She's under the covers and facing his side of the bed. 

She's fine. Really, she is. Or at least she was. She hasn't left her bed in two days. She plans to get out tomorrow, if she'll even be alive to get out of bed tomorrow.

She vaguely hears the sound of the door to the loft opening, then Levi's voice.

"She hasn't left her bed in days. Not to shower, or eat, or even drink water. I don't even think she's moved. But what I'm really concerned about is that." Levi points to the bed, on the space that Jo isn't occupying. Meredith and Link look at each other with wide eyes, both not knowing what to do.

Beside the sonogram are pills. Pills she desperately wants to take but she can't bring herself to move. And beside the pills is a knife. It's not the big kind of knife, but sharp enough to cut you in the slightest mistake. She's not suicidal, she never was. She doesn't remember when or how she got the knife and pills. All she can think of is the life she lost.

She was married and happy. Then she wasn't married and happy. But then she was pregnant and happy. But that got taken from her, too. Now, she's just 'was'. She's not floating or surviving in life. She's just existing. 

"Jo." Meredith calls out to her, her hand slowly inching towards the knife in Jo's hand. Jo sees her trying to get close to the knife and closes her hand around it.

"I tried that, but every time I got close, she closed her hand around it and every time, I got closer, she tightened her hand around it. So I stopped trying." Levi says, concerned. It would have been fine if Jo was holding the knife normally. But she wasn't. The edge of the knife is where her hand was, and if she tightened her hand around it, even just a little bit, it would cut into her skin.

"Okay. Okay. I won't take the knife. We won't take the knife." Meredith was close to crying. This was worse when she had found out the truth about her birth parents. Much worse. "But can I sit here? I'll just be here, I won't touch any of that."

Jo doesn't move and her hand doesn't move, either, so Meredith takes that as an 'okay' and moves to sit down by Jo's legs. Link goes to the other side of the bed and sits down behind Jo while Levi chooses to sit on the couch.

"We're here for you, Jo. We're right here." Link tries to touch her shoulder but Jo flinches away from him. So they stay there in that position for what seems like hours. Meredith already texted Maggie and Link already texted Amelia that they'll be a while. For how long? Nobody knew. But they knew that they needed to stay with Jo.

After what seemed like two hours to Jo, her hand moved to the sonogram in front of her. She traces the edges before she picks it up and Link and Meredith have to hold in their gasp of surprise when they see what it is. They don't speak, they don't ask her questions. Jo traces the outline of her baby as her eyes begin to well up and she begs herself not to let them fall.

“I was gonna have a baby.” She starts, and Meredith places her hand on her leg and she flinches, but doesn’t kick her hand away and continues. “Boy, I was gonna have a baby boy.” Her eyes move to where Meredith is sitting and sees her with tears in her eyes, her heart breaking for the girl that has become one of her now closest friends.

“I didn’t know that I was gonna have a boy, up until the night before my flight to Kansas.” Link furrows his eyebrows in confusion and Meredith’s face displays the same amount of confusion. “Exactly a year ago, you guys thought I went to Boston, when really I went to Kansas and I met Izzie, who is perfect, by the way.” Jo chuckles as Meredith, Link, and Levi, who stood up from the couch and joined them on the bed once he heard Jo speak, share looks of surprise and utter concern.

“I never went to Boston, it was just the perfect excuse. There really was a conference and reunion happening there, and they really were pestering me to go. But I went to Kansas. I was going to finally tell Alex about our baby because he had to know. I wanted him to be the first to know so I never told anyone here.” Jo looks at the three of them and they nod in understanding and that pushes her to continue.

“And I was experiencing braxton hicks. Before, during, and after my flight. I thought they were just that, braxton hicks. I went to eat lunch in a small diner near the hospital Alex said he was gonna apply in. I didn’t finish my lunch because I was in so much pain, tried to get out of there and back to my hotel, but I collapsed in the diner so they called an ambulance. They brought me to his hospital but he wasn’t there. Izzie was. I didn’t know who she was when I first got there, but I do know that she was the doctor who did my surgery. When I woke up, she told me what happened and that’s when I knew who she was. I mean, how many Izzie Stevens are there in Baldwin, Kansas, right?” Jo laughs dryly. There was silence after that. They sat in that silence as the three tried to process the information they were just given.

“I was gonna name the baby Athena Michaela if it was a girl, but then I found out it was a boy.” Jo returns her eyes back to the sonogram in her hand, while her other hand, which had the knife, slowly closed around it. Her hand slowly tightening her grip on the knife, breaking skin and making blood flow out.

“Jo, Jo, you’re hurting yourself, please don’t.” Link stumbles over his words, his throat closing and the tears finally falling. Jo closes her eyes, her hand and her whole body numb to pain.

“Atticus Michael.” She whispers as she opens her eyes and turns back to look at Link, her tears falling silently down her cheeks. “I was going to name him Atticus Michael, after the two most important men in my life.” Her voice cracks and her hold on the knife tightens more. 

“Jo, please. Give me the knife, please.” Meredith pleads, moving closer to Jo, as Link holds Jo’s arm.

“I was married, I was a married woman. And then, I wasn’t.” Jo continues to whisper, looking at the sonogram in hand. 

“I was a mother. And then I wasn’t.” Link moves into the bed more and pulls Jo to his chest. That’s when she breaks. 

Heart-wrenching sobs and gasps for air echo in the small house she once shared with the great love of her life. She lets go of the knife and Meredith motions for Levi to get supplies for her cuts as she takes the knife and places it on the cabinet beside the bed. Meredith tends to Jo’s cuts while she sobs on Link’s chest, with Link trying his best to comfort her. Jo grips his arm like she was holding on for her life, sobs racking her whole body and resonating in the breaking hearts of everyone in the room.

Once Meredith finishes up Jo’s cuts, she takes Jo’s head in her hands. “I can’t-, I can’t b-breathe, Mer. I can’t-” Jo fails to finish her words as she gasps for air and holds onto one of Meredith’s arms. “I know, I know. You feel like you can’t breathe, I get it. And you’re gonna feel like that for a while, I’m not gonna lie to you. It might be days, weeks, but you are going to breathe again. And Alex? He wouldn’t want you doing this to yourself.” Meredith says, staring into Jo’s eyes.

“He was coming back to you. He was, but then he got in a car accident. But he was coming back to you. He loves you that much, he loves you so much, it would break his heart to see you like this. And your baby? It would break his heart to see you like this, too. You know, when I think of Derek, I imagine him looking down on me and the kids with our baby in his arms, and he’s telling them stories of us and everything we went through. I’d like to think that’s what Alex is doing right now, too.” Jo continues to sob and Meredith puts Jo’s head on her chest, caressing her hair like she would her child, while Link rubs Jo’s back and tries to get himself together.

“You cry. You just cry, and we’ll stay here.” Meredith says softly in Jo’s ear.

-

Three years later…

“Mama Jo! Mama Jo!” The two kids ran towards Jo who was holding a little girl by the entrance. Jo bends down, places the little girl on the floor and holds her hand, and opens her arms to the twins while her little girl jumps in excitement at the two familiar kids.

“Hi babies!” She exclaims as they embrace her in a hug, the blonde mother trailing behind them with a bittersweet smile on her face.

“Eli! Ali!” The little girl beside Jo squeals and this catches Alexis and Eli’s attention.

“Hi Emmy!” The twins fawn over the little girl while Emmy soaks up all the attention she’s getting. Izzie and Jo hug and chat while the kids make themselves busy.

“How was your trip?” Jo asks her.

“Great, but it would’ve been better if you and miss Emmy were there, right?” Izzie says as she brushes her fingers on Emery’s cheek. Izzie takes Eli’s hand while Eli takes Alexis’ and Alexis holds Emery’s hand, and they start walking.

“I wish you were there, Mama Jo! We went on these cool rides and everything, we even won some games and prizes!” 

“Really? Alright, Emmy and I will go with you next time, okay?” 

“Okay! Oh, I see daddy’s tree!” Eli and Alexis take Emery’s hands and they all run off to the tree with the tire swing. “Be careful!” Jo and Izzie call out.

“They will never stop giving us heart attacks, won’t they?” Jo jokes as Izzie wraps her hand around Jo’s arm and they laugh together.

“How are you doing these days?” Izzie asks Jo in a soft tone and she shrugs at Izzie. “Some days are bad and some are good. Emmy’s making me more good days, though.” Jo giggles.

After Alex died in a car accident three years ago, after he made the decision to come back to Jo, Izzie reached out to Jo, not knowing she was the patient she had a year ago. Apparently, Alex told stories to the twins about a princess named Jo, so when Jo met the kids, she was welcomed with open arms, and they explained who she really was. A year later, they asked their mother if they could call Jo their mama, and that made their family bond more prominent. 

Izzie met someone a year after Alex passed, and Jo supported her all throughout her relationship, and they only introduced Tom, Izzie’s boyfriend, to the kids a year into their relationship and he was great with the kids. Jo tried to date other men, but she just couldn’t bring herself to open her heart up to anyone, so she stopped trying and her heart opened up to a little girl instead. Jo treated Emery when she was brought into the hospital because she was being abused by her parents. They put her into the system and Jo was already fixing the papers so she could adopt Emery. She is officially and legally the mother of Emery Michaela Karev as of eight months ago. She herself also kept Alex’ last name. 

“So where’s Tommy? I thought he went on the trip with you guys.” Jo asks as they sit down in front of Alex’ and Ace’s tombstones.

“Oh, he’s picking his parents up from the airport because..” Izzie trails off and holds her left hand up to show Jo the sparkling rock on her ring finger. Jo gasps and pulls Izzie’s hand closer to her face. “Oh my God! Congratulations!” Jo laughs and pulls Izzie in for a hug. They talk amongst each other for a while when the three kids go and sit beside them.

“Hi daddy! Happy birthday! We’re all here, just like you wished for.” Alexis says to the tombstone in front of her. Izzie and Jo share a look before asking her.

“What do you mean, ‘just like he wished for’, Ali?” Jo asks Alexis after pulling her and Eli onto her lap.

“He told me, last night, in my dream. That he wants all together for his birthday. And he also said that since it’s Sunday, we have to go to Auntie Mer’s house to have waffles with everybody.” Alexis explains, oblivious to the tears forming in Jo’s eyes. “Oh, Ace also said to save some waffles for him.” That makes Izzie’s and Jo’s head turn to look at each other, confusion in their eyes.

“Ace?” Izzie asks her daughter, who nods at her.

“Yeah, daddy told me Ace is our baby angel brother up in heaven. Him and Daddy are always together. His real name is Addicus-” This makes Jo’s tears fall and she hurriedly wipes them so that the kids don’t see her crying.

"Atticus Michael."

"Yes! That's his name, Mama Jo."

“Yeah, we’ll have waffles at Auntie Mer’s later with everybody.” Jo kisses the top of Alexis’ and Eli’s heads as Izzie reaches out and takes Jo’s hand in hers, giving her a warm smile.

They spend the next hour there by the tree, texting Meredith and the others about what the kids want, and the kids playing on the swing. 

“Okay, guys, let’s go to Auntie Mer’s!” Izzie says while standing up and the twins cheer.

“You guys go ahead, I just wanna stay here for a few more minutes.” Jo says, with Emery still in her lap, while they sit in front of the tombstones. Izzie nods her head at her and takes the twins to the car. Jo watches them until they drive off. Her and Emery sit in the quiet for a moment before Emery speaks up. “Mommy?”

“Yeah, baby?” Jo looks at the little girl in her lap.

“Is he my daddy, too?” Emery asks as he points to the tombstone. Jo smiles at her before saying, “Yes. He’s your daddy, too, baby. And if he were here, he would love you like I love you.”

“But not as much as you love me?” 

“No, baby. Probably more than I love you, because that’s the kind of daddy he is.” Jo wraps her arms around Emery and Emery does the same.

“Hi, daddy. I love you, too.” Emery says as she leans towards the tombstone and puts her hand on it.

“I love you so much, Alex Karev.” Jo puts her hand on top of Emery’s.

And there, she breathes again.