Angela, 21st Century Mermaid (angelamermaid) wrote in in_the_after,
Angela, 21st Century Mermaid
angelamermaid
in_the_after

Fic: The Twenty-Four Months After

Title: The Twenty-Four Months After (Part 2/4)
Author: angelamermaid
Pairing: Cristina/Owen
Rating: Mature for adult issues - no graphic sexual content
Summary: What happens when Cristina and Owen have a baby?
Disclaimer: These characters are property of Shonda Rhimes/ABC and Grey's Anatomy. They do not belong to me. Reimbursement is not received for fictitious works.

Months One-Six


Month Seven - July

"Flu Central, how may I help you?"

Meredith laughs into the phone. "Chloe's still sick, huh?"

"Yes, and now Owen is too," Cristina sighs. "Not that he will admit it. He says he's just tired from working too much."

"Sounds like someone I know."

"Ha ha."

"How is Chloe doing?"

"She's miserable, but she's taking her fluids. She's not getting dehydrated with me around," Cristina says determinedly.

"So I guess lunch is off?"

"Yeah, sorry." Meredith hears crying in the background as Cristina sighs. "Gotta go, Dr Yang is needed."

"Okay bye. Call me if you need something."

"Bye."

Cristina disconnects the call and stuffs her cell phone into a pocket as she walks into the nursery. Chloe is lying down in her crib and crying hard. Cristina reaches in and picks her up, placing her hand on her forehead. "Poor Chloe. Still got a fever." Chloe nestles against her shoulder - and promptly fills her diaper, still crying.

"Oh gross!" Cristina wrinkles her nose. Her eyes grow wide as Chloe burps, then vomits down her back. "Oh you didn't - oh, no!" She holds Chloe away from her and looks down at the mess spilling out of the diaper. She looks down at herself and grimaces. "Okay, that was uncalled for. I'm trying to help you here, kid."

"What happened?"

Cristina turns to see Owen leaning against the doorway, dressed in a t-shirt and worn pyjama bottoms, pale and tired.

"What do you think?" she snaps. "She's got diarrhea and she puked on me. I'm going to give her a bath and see if she'll calm down."

"How can I help?" Owen yawns.

"You can barely stand," she retorts, taking Chloe over to the changing table. "Okay, just for a minute, make sure she doesn't roll off."

Owen walks over to the table and tries to soothe their howling daughter, while Cristina peels off her soiled clothing until she's standing there in her underwear. He pulls off his t-shirt and hands it to her.

"Thank you. You can go back to bed, I've got this now," she mutters, pulling on his shirt. She looks at him closely. "Did you drink anything recently? You look like hell. I left you some of that sports drink you like on your nightstand."

He makes a face. "I don't feel like drinking anything."

"Well, you make me take that crap when I'm sick, so I'm telling you, you will have some too." She quickly glances at him as she undresses Chloe. She softens her tone. "Please Owen, have something to drink. I have my hands full taking care of her and making sure she stays hydrated, I can't handle more than one patient at a time."

He nods grumpily. "Fine." He turns and shuffles back to their bedroom.

"I'll come see you after her bath!" Cristina yells at him. She sighs as Chloe starts to really scream. "Come on, babe. Let's get you cleaned up."

**

Finally, she has Chloe bathed and dressed and calmed down. She sits and rocks with her, giving her another bottle of pediatric fluids. Then she checks her temperature and puts her back into her crib, hoping she's ready for a nap.

"Give me fifteen minutes, okay?" Cristina whispers. "Fifteen minutes so I can have a shower because I stink."

She quickly goes to their bedroom, noting that Owen is lying still in the bed. She frowns as she glances at the bottle of sports drink she left him - he has barely touched it. She strips down and jumps into the shower.

She decides it's the best shower she's ever taken, minus the times that Owen has joined her. She takes longer than fifteen minutes, just happy to have some time for herself.

When she walks back into the bedroom, wrapped in a robe, she contemplates Owen's still form. "You awake?" she asks softly.

He lies there, still as a rock. She walks over and looks at his face. He's far too pale for her liking. She steps back and hits him with a pillow.

He sits up, blinking and confused. "What? What's wrong?"

"You need to drink something," she says firmly, reaching for the bottle. "I'm going to the medicine cabinet and getting you the same damn pills that you make me take and you will take them. Or I'm calling for an ambulance full of husky guys to give you an IV."

Fifteen minutes later, he's drunk enough to satisfy her. She checks his temperature with Chloe's ear thermometer. He's too weak to protest.

She gently shoves him until he lies down, and pulls the blankets over him. "This is the first time I've ever seen you sick," she murmurs. "You are a worse patient than me. I'm going to keep a better eye on you."

He coughs. "I can handle myself."

"No you can't," she replies firmly. "I left you alone too long and you got dehydrated. That won't happen again."

"How's Chloe?"

"Cleaned up and asleep."

"That's good." He pauses. "Did I do something to scare you? Why did you hit me with a pillow?"

"You looked like shit, that's what scared me. Now I'm going to go downstairs and make you something to eat. What do you want?"

"My mom's chicken soup," he says with a small smile.

"We have canned soup."

He grimaces.

"Owen, I can do many things, but I can't teach myself how to cook like your mother in a short amount of time." She gently rubs his temples. "Soup or a sandwich?"

"Toast with jam please," he says. "And Mom always gave me ginger ale when I was sick..."

"Toast and jam with ginger ale coming up," she promises, climbing off of the bed.

**

He gets grumpy when she takes away his plate and tries to tuck him in.

"I'm not a baby," he mutters, burrowing under the blankets.

"Sure," she chuckles, laying her hand against his forehead. "Come on, it must be a nice change, me waiting on you. Enjoy it while it lasts."

"You are busy with Chloe," he yawns. "Sorry to be a pain."

Chloe's voice crackles in the baby monitor as she starts to cry.

"Speaking of Chloe..."

"You get some rest," Cristina says firmly. "While Dr Yang goes to her other patient."

"Yes ma'am!"

**

Later that night, Cristina walks into their bedroom, carrying Chloe.

Owen blinks at her from the bed and sits up. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing," she assures him. "Her fever is going down and she's feeling sociable. I thought I'd bring her in so you could see her."

"Good." He looks at her. "How are you doing?"

"I am tired, but I've had worse days at the hospital." She sits down on the bed with Chloe on her lap. She's brought a few of Chloe's favourite toys, and gives them to her.

Owen arranges the pillows so he can sit up more comfortably. He finds himself watching Cristina, noticing how her eyes never leave Chloe. She bends her head over her maternally, occasionally running a finger through Chloe's black curls, or placing her hand against her forehead. Their little girl plays contentedly, secure in the safety of her mother's lap. If she drops a toy, Cristina patiently picks it up and gives it back to her.

"I knew you'd be a good mother," Owen says softly.


Month Eight - August

"Happy Anniversary Owen."

"Happy Anniversary babe." They clink beer bottles as a toast.

Cristina looks at Owen and smiles. They're eating outside in their back yard, seated in the shade. Chloe is lying on a blanket at their feet, with some of her cherished toys, already fed.

He winks at her before cutting into his steak. She smiles again - their friends had insisted they "should" have a big party for their first anniversary. The word "should" made Cristina bristle. Owen was more than happy to agree to having a private barbecue and using vacation time for a weekend together instead. "We have everything we need," he shrugged.

She looks down at the blanket - and her eyes widen. "Look!" she whispers to Owen.

He looks down at the empty blanket - and at Chloe, slowly crawling away. He chuckles, putting down his utensils so he can reach down and scoop her up off of the grass.

"Look who's mobile," he smiles, placing her back on the blanket.

"Finally!"

He laughs. "I told you, tall babies are sometimes slower to crawl."

They watch as she rolls over and gets ready to crawl again.

"We're going to need a bigger blanket," Cristina notes.

"And to babyproof everything she can reach now," Owen adds. "Guess it's a good thing we didn't have plans this weekend." He looks thoughtful.

"You're already making a shopping list in your head," she says dryly.

"I've been stocking up on supplies the last couple of months," he confesses. "I should only have to go to the hardware store once."

"They should give you your own parking spot, you're there so much."

"They should." They laugh.

Cristina reaches down and grabs Chloe, as she crawls past her. "You're getting to be a big girl," she groans, placing her back on the blanket. "We must be feeding you right."

Cristina reaches into her pocket and pulls out her phone. "Crawl for Mommy," she instructs Chloe. "Auntie Meredith will want to see this."

Owen bursts out laughing, earning a glare.

"What?" Cristina demands.

"You called yourself 'Mommy'," he grins. "Are you going to scrapbook Chloe's first crawl?"

She sticks her tongue out at him, before snapping a photograph of Chloe crawling away.

"I am documenting our child's newest achievement," she says curtly. "My colleague in maternity will want to be informed of this newest development."

He snorts. "Okay, 'Mommy'."

"Oh don't do that. That's twisted." She finishes sending her message and puts her phone back in her pocket, as Owen picks up Chloe and puts her back on the blanket.

He smiles and lifts up a napkin on their picnic table. She raises her eyebrows to see a wrapped gift.

"Got you something," he smiles, handing it to her.

She shakes her head, smiling as she unwraps it. She bites her lips when she sees the photo frame, with a professional portrait of Chloe in it.

"When did you do this?" she smiles, running her fingers over the photo.

"Oh, I found time," Owen grins, watching her reaction. "See, the traditional first anniversary gift is paper, and the photo is printed on paper."

She rolls her eyes in amusement. "Thank you for this lovely and traditional gift." She leans over the table and kisses him.

"I got you something too," she says, reaching into Chloe's diaper bag. She pulls out an envelope and hands it to him. He opens it, and raises his eyebrows at the brochure.

"A cruise," he says. "You booked us for a cruise?"

"Uh huh," she smiles. "You said you wanted a family vacation next year. I booked us for February. We'll cruise the Bahamas and get lots of sun and just relax."

He smiles. "Thank you."

She purses her lips. "What - you hate cruises?"

"I'm sure I'll enjoy this one," Owen says hastily. "It's just - I prefer roughing it. But I think I can handle a week in the sun with my two favourite ladies."

"Well, camping as a family is never going to happen. But I'll pack some extra tiny bikinis for you."

"I don't look good in bikinis," he smirks.

"Smart ass." They grin at each other.


Month Nine - September

"Cristina, Meredith and Lexie are here," Owen announces. In the bathroom mirror, she can see his reflection raise his eyebrows at her outfit.

"What?" She puts the finishing touches on her make-up.

"Nothing," he smiles, coming up from behind her and hugging her. "You are looking exceptionally hot."

"Thank you." She grins as he slides his hands down to her butt. "You're going to make me late."

"So?"

"We're not having a quickie with people downstairs."

"We could be quiet. And Chloe's in her crib," he whispers in her ear.

"I don't like being quiet."

"So?"

She turns and kisses him. "Stop it! Now get out of my way, I haven't been drunk dancing since I got pregnant and I am going to make up for it."

"Have fun," he grins. "I'm just concerned that you won't enjoy yourself-"

"-I will-"

"-with hordes of horny young men begging you for your number. You won't be able to move on the dance floor. Maybe you should change." He winks.

"Ha!" She gives him another quick kiss, then sashays out the bathroom door, swinging her hips in her short dress.

**

Meredith and Cristina stumble off the dance floor, madly giggling as they collapse at their table.

"That blonde was definitely checking you out," Cristina slurs. "He couldn't take his eyes off of your rack."

"Thank you, pregnancies," Meredith grins, looking down. "Having babies has made us hotter than ever."

Lexie rolls her eyes and has another sip of her ginger ale.

"What?" Cristina asks. "You'll have a great rack too, soon. You'll get out of bed and 'pop!' New tits."

"To pregnancy boobs," Meredith toasts, holding up her drink. Lexie smiles and holds up her glass. Cristina slops her vodka tonic, joining in.

"Of course, with great tits comes great responsibility," Cristina paraphrases. "Be prepared to have a baby hanging off of you all the time."

"You'll learn to eat and shower one-handed," Meredith chimes in. "You'll develop great back and shoulder muscles."

Lexie smiles and pats her slightly swollen stomach. "I can't wait."

Cristina looks at her and sighs. "I miss being pregnant."

"Really? Says the woman who almost got divorced while on bed rest?" Meredith asks.

"I don't miss that," Cristina laughs. "I grew a person! That's hardcore. I miss being that hardcore."

They exchange glances and smiles.

"Why are we out getting drunk while our babies are at home?" Meredith asks.

"We are more than wives and mothers and awesome surgeons," Cristina says. "We are smokin' hot women. Come on, let's go back on the dance floor."

**

Lexie sits in her car and sighs as Cristina fumbles with the keys at her front door. Owen comes to the rescue by opening it from inside. He waves his thanks at Lexie.

"Have fun?" He chuckles as Cristina kicks off her heels and almost knocks herself over, in their foyer.

"I did!"

Owen steadies Cristina as she walks towards the stairs.

"How was Miss Chloe tonight?" Cristina slurs as he helps her up the stairs.

"Good. She's on the verge of saying her first word. I can feel it."

"It's going to be 'ma-ma'".

"Followed closely by 'scalpel'."

"Ha!" She gets to the top of the stairs, then leans against a wall. She smirks at Owen. "There were a lot of cute young boys at the club tonight."

"Really?" He grins, placing both hands against the wall, framing her head, slowly trapping her body with his. "How young?"

"Too young." She arches her back, rubbing herself against him. "I felt like a MILF."

Owen smiles. "But you are a mother I'd –"

"Don't call me that," she warns. She kisses him, sliding her tongue into his mouth. "MILFs are old," she says when they come up for air.

"You feel young to me," he murmurs, sliding his hands down her back, to her ass.

"Good answer."


Month Ten - October

The phone rings in the middle of the night.

"This had better be serious," Cristina mutters. Owen rolls over and grabs the receiver.

"Hello?" he mumbles. He listens for a few seconds, then suddenly sits upright.

"I'm here," he says into the receiver. Cristina watches him curiously as he turns on a light.

"Okay." Owen looks sideways at her before asking, "which hospital?"

Cristina sits up and mouths "what's happening?" to Owen.

"Okay, keep us updated when you get there. Did you want to talk with Cristina?" Owen listens. "Okay. Call us as soon as you have news. Take care." Owen hangs up the phone and turns to her.

"That was Saul," he says quietly, taking her hands. "Helen - your mother may have had a stroke."

**

"Brainstem stroke," Mrs Hunt repeats, holding a sleeping Chloe, as Owen throws clothes into a suitcase in the master bedroom.

"That's what her doctors think. She's barely responsive. Which is better than unresponsive, which is what she was four hours ago."

"What - do they - will she - ?" His mother struggles to find the words.

"She may come out of it with some motor function. She may not make it at all. Could be pseudocoma - Locked In Syndrome."

"Which -"

"- which means she may be totally paralyzed, and maybe only able to blink."

"Oh dear."

"I know. It's too soon to know just yet." They both turn and look through the open door to the hallway, where Cristina is pacing back and forth, barking instructions into her cell phone.

"Thanks again for coming over," Owen says. "I wish we could take Chloe with us, but she's hasn't gotten over her cold yet."

His mother nods, and strokes Chloe's hair. "I'll take good care of her, I promise. You need to focus on Helen. Keep me updated."

**

She runs on pure adrenaline, ever since she got the news. She watches herself go through the motions clinically. She quickly starts calling in favours from afar, arranging for consultations, while Owen handles the details of babysitting and getting them on the plane to Los Angeles. She only slows down to kiss Chloe goodbye before heading to the airport.

She only turns off her cell phone when they board the plane and only because Owen insists she do so.. She makes it through the safety instructions and take-off. She refuses to get a headset for the TV. She stares out the window at the clouds. Owen watches her carefully.

She realizes that for the first time ever, her mother won't be waiting at the airport for her. That is when Cristina breaks.

**

Her mother is conscious in a paralyzed body. So far, all she can do is blink. They work out a system of blinks for "yes" and "no".

Cristina patiently explains everything to Helen's constant stream of friends.

"Once the swelling goes down, we'll be better able to asses the extent of the damage," she explains, debriefing some visitors outside of the ICU. "She can hear everything we say. Don't talk about her in her presence as if she can't hear you. She's paralyzed, not deaf. She has full sensation. She likes it when people hold her hand. She can barely move her eyes, and only vertically, so move where she can see you when you enter the room and greet her. If you see her mouth move, it's an involuntary reflex right before she coughs. The coughing is also involuntary."

Derek flies to Los Angeles. Cristina scours over the MRIs and the test results with him, looking for the tiniest slivers of hope. She knows she is being a pain but she doesn't care. She knows the odds but she fights against them anyways.

She talks with Saul. They spend a lot of time together at Helen's bedside. He looks to her for guidance. Owen brings them food and makes all of the phone calls that they can't handle.

She sits there and she holds her mother's hand. It's strange, how her mother's hand no longer reacts to her touch. She chatters on about Chloe and how fast she is growing and all of the things that she is learning, even though doing so makes her miss Chloe more and more.

She thinks she's never hated the sound of a ventilator more.

**

Owen smiles only when he talks with Chloe on the phone. He relays messages to and from their friends. He has long talks with Saul when they are able to get Cristina to go sleep in a quiet room.

**

Meredith listens to her cry long-distance.

"Everything is in the past," Cristina says. "All the times that I wasn't good enough. None of that matters right now."

She pauses.

"I'm sure I'll be annoyed with her all over again in the future. But not now."

**

The tests have all been run, Helen has not been improving, there is nothing more to discover. It is as they feared. Locked In Syndrome.

"So that's it?" Saul asks quietly, as they sit in the conference room.

Cristina is silent, staring at the table. The doctors on Helen's case wait patiently. Derek looks pensive.

"Very few people can recover from Locked In Syndrome," Owen explains gently. "Those that do, are much younger and their strokes aren't as severe."

"So she either spends the rest of her life in a nursing home or -"

"- or, if she chooses, if you agree, she can be taken off of life support. She can be given morphine to make her comfortable. This is a decision you and Cristina must make with her."

Saul glances at Cristina, who is still staring at the table.

"What would you tell me if she wasn't your mother-in-law?" Saul asks Owen.

"She requires round-the-clock care from now on. As you know, she is conscious, she can hear us, but she can barely breathe on her own, and will have to spend the rest of her life on a ventilator. Her body can't even regulate its own body temperature. It was a devastating stroke." He pauses to carefully consider his words. "She was an active woman. If she wants to be removed from life support, then I would tell you that it is for the best. And she must be part of the decision. This is not a decision you have to make alone."

Saul glances at his stepdaughter again. "Cristina?"

She shakes her head. She's mute in the face of the facts.

One of the doctors clears her throat. "We need to know if we should schedule surgery to proceed with a permanent feeding tube and a tracheotomy."

Owen shakes his head at her. "Give us some time."

**

"Where are we going?" Cristina protests as Owen urges her to join him in an elevator after the meeting.

"Someplace good," he says, taking her hand.

She raises her eyebrows when he takes them down to the basement. He leads her through a labyrinth of hallways in the strange hospital. He didn't...

He smiles as he shows her into a boiler room.

"You found a vent," she sighs, shaking her head in amusement.

"I figured we needed one," he grins, stepping onto the grille. "Come here, you."

She rolls her eyes and joins him. He takes her hands and kisses her.

A breeze shoots up. She opens her mouth to say something sarcastic - and crumples. Owen catches her, and sits down with her, cradling her as she begins to sob.

**

That night, Cristina and Saul sit with Helen.

"I asked her," he says quietly. "As many different ways as I could think of. She gave me the same answer every time. She does not want to continue like this. It is as we expected."

Cristina closes her eyes and strokes her mother's hand. She had gotten the same answer from Helen earlier.

"She's proud of you," Saul continues. "She's proud of your career, of you and Chloe. She has said she couldn't have picked a better son-in-law than Owen. Every new picture she'd get, she'd print out and show them to her friends. 'See my daughter. See my grand-daughter. See my family,' she'd tell perfect strangers. She is so proud."

**

Meredith gasps when they see Owen waiting for them at LAX, tired and thinner. He smiles quietly as Robbie shouts, "Uncle Owen!", running up to him and grabbing his legs.

Chloe throws her little arms around his neck as she tries to leap from Mrs Hunt's arms, happy to see him after a week apart.

"You look terrible," his mother tells him, with a slight smile. Meredith leans in and hugs him, holding Johanna.

Owen kisses Chloe on her cheeks, then turns to the adults. "They removed Helen from life support two hours ago. Cristina and Saul are with her. She's comfortable."

**

"Thank you for coming," Cristina says quietly, letting Meredith hug her at Helen's bedside.

"And I'm so happy to see you!" She smiles as Chloe gets handed to her. She hugs her close, smelling her hair. "I missed you," she says frankly. "And when did you get so big?"

Kathy moves over to where Helen can see her, and speaks to her quietly. Helen is breathing raggedly.

Cristina holds up Chloe so Helen can see her. Chloe looks curiously at the woman in the bed, and the rabbi standing beside her, then turns and grabs Cristina's face.

"Ow," Cristina laughs quietly. "She missed me."

"Did you see how Helen's eyes widened when she saw Chloe?" Saul gestures towards Helen.

Cristina hands Chloe to Owen. "You're stronger, hold up our big big girl again so Mom can see her face."

Owen obliges. They stand there, as Helen breathes on, staring at her family.

**

They're sitting in the Quiet Room when Owen finally enters. "She's gone," he says simply, sitting down on the couch where his mother is rocking Chloe. Meredith stands up and leaves the room, going to her person. Kathy passes Chloe over to Owen.

"Thanks for coming out here," Owen says quietly. "We all appreciate it."

Derek nods sadly, then looks at his children, sleeping on another couch. "We're family, don't you know that by now?'

Owen nods. "Yes, yes I do."

"But Robbie can still date Chloe?"

Owen chuckles weakly. "When she's 30." Chloe grabs his beard. "Okay, 29."

**

"Welcome to sitting shiva," Cristina says, settling down next to Owen, on the living room floor of Saul and Helen's townhouse. He smiles softly at her, cradling a sleeping Chloe in his arms.

"Rabbi Rudin explained everything to me," he says, gesturing to his sock feet. "Let me know if I forget something or do something wrong."

"You know that I'm not Orthodox, you can't offend me."

"I don't want to offend Saul, or any of their friends," he says, nodding to the crowded kitchen. "She was well-loved."

"Yes." She leans against him, and looks at Chloe. "Owen, why is she wearing pink?"

He smiles sheepishly. "Some of your mother's friends said she couldn't wear anything new, so they got that dress from somewhere. See, it has a black bow on it for the - the-"

"The keriah."

"They brought five different outfits and she grabbed the pink one," he says. "I think we have to face facts, Cristina. Our daughter - likes to wear pink."

Cristina closes her eyes. "I was afraid of that."

They sit in silence, watching the people moving around the townhouse.

"I miss surgery," Cristina says.

"When we get back, I'll play favourites and try to get you something complicated and ten hours long."

"Oh, I do love you."


Month Eleven - November

Cristina's sleeping in again, on a rare Saturday when they are both free. Owen takes care of the household, as always. He takes care of Chloe, feeding her breakfast and giving her a bath and reading with her.

She's babbling baby talk as they lie on the couch. And the word spills out. "Da-da," she says firmly, pulling on his beard.

"What did you say?" Owen grins.

"Da-da," she repeats. Then she babbles some words that he can't understand.

"Let's go tell Mommy," he says, scooping her up. He carries her to the master bedroom. Cristina's sitting up in bed, reading from a medical journal.

"Hey babe," he says, sitting down on the bed. "She spoke. She called me Da-da."

Cristina looks at him quickly. "She's just talking baby talk." She turns her attention back to the book.

Owen reaches over and closes the book. She frowns at him. "Do you mind?"

"Yes, I mind," he says, putting Chloe down on the bed. "She called me Da-da, twice. This is important, Cristina."

She closes her eyes and leans her head back. "Fine, she spoke. Congratulations."

He sits next to her, and takes her hand, stroking it. "I'm worried about you," he says quietly. "You're not as – engaged – in our lives as I'd like you to be. All you do is work and research and sleep."

She says nothing. He thinks back to his therapy with Dr Wyatt, searching for the right thing to say.

"I'm worried you're slipping away from me," he confesses. "Of course you've changed, I know what grief is like –"

"I'm fine."

"No, you're not." They sit there in silence. Chloe crawls onto his lap.

"I'm starting to feel like a single father," he says quietly. Cristina's eyes open wide and she turns to stare at him, pulling her hand away from his.

"How can you say that?" Cristina sputters. "I feed her, I take care of her!"

"But you don't sit with her, you don't read with her, you don't just spend time with her anymore. You don't spend time with us." He looks at her firmly, refusing to back down. "You're hiding in bed with a medical journal. Have you thought about speaking with someone about this?"

"I don't need to," she snaps.

"You need to do something," he shoots back. "You're burying yourself in work –"

"- I lost time having a baby, remember?"

"- you chose to have a baby, remember?"

They glare at each other.

He breaks eye contact first. "This is better than ignoring me," he says with a slight smile.

"Get out!" Cristina yells.

"Fine," he nods. He moves Chloe off of his lap, stands up and leaves the room.

Cristina stares at the open door, blood boiling. She looks at Chloe, who is sitting on the bed, watching her, wide-eyed.

"I don't know what he's talking about," Cristina murmurs, picking up Chloe and holding her.

"Da-da," Chloe says.

Cristina rolls her eyes, and starts stroking Chloe's hair. "Look at your hair, it's getting long. You're due for a hair cut, aren't you?"

Cristina bites her lower lip and fumes. "I'm going to prove Daddy wrong," she tells Chloe.

**

Half an hour later, she comes downstairs, fully dressed, carrying Chloe. He's left a note. Gone for a run.

She nods. "Good." He always feels better after a run.

She leaves him a note. Took Chloe out. Be back later.

**

They return a few hours later. He's napping on the couch.

She stands there and watches him, holding Chloe in her arms. She notices for the first time that Owen has a few white hairs in his beard.

She bites her lower lip and remembers how slowly he started to talk with her about his trauma, about the choking. How it hurt him to do so, but he did it anyways, because he wanted to be with her that much.

"Da-da," Chloe says, reaching for him.

Cristina laughs. Owen slowly wakes up, looking up at her cautiously.

"Move over," she chuckles. He sits up, blinking. She sits down beside him, lets Chloe crawl into his arms.

"We went to the hairdresser's," Cristina says.

"I see that." He fingers Chloe's curls. "Looks good. You look good."

Cristina leans against him. "You might be right about me working too much. A little."

"It's okay." He pulls her close. "I'm not expecting you to 'snap out of it', you know."

"I know." She squeezes his leg. "You, more than anyone, know."

He kisses her forehead.

"Did you hear her say 'Da-da'?" Owen asks.

"Yes, fine, she said it!" They laugh together.

"What do you say we go out to supper?" Cristina asks.

"Sounds good."


Month Twelve - December

"Cristina, wake up". She feels a heavy hand on her shoulder, shaking her.

"Wha?" She lifts her head and stares at Owen, standing over her and holding a sleepy Chloe. "What's the emergency?"

"No emergency, it's Christmas morning!" He grins down at her.

"You are way too cheerful," she mutters, rubbing her eyes. She looks at the clock. "Why are you waking me at 6 for non-surgical reasons?"

"It's a Hunt family tradition," he says. "Up at 6 for presents!"

She glares at him. "You're a sick, sick man, Owen Hunt."

He nods with a smile.

She sighs. "Why have I never heard of this tradition until today?"

"We didn't have a kid before. Come on, I've got the coffee started downstairs."

Cristina looks at Chloe, yawning in her father's arms. She looks again at Owen, unnaturally happy for such an early hour.

"You could have warned me about this tradition," she grumbles, sitting up. "What other surprises do you have for me?"

"Well, after presents, we go into the woods and shoot the Christmas turkey," he says with a straight face.

"The Hunts' Christmas hunt?"

"Ha! Good one."

**

Despite herself, Cristina enjoys Christmas morning. It's rare that she sees Owen so boyish, sitting with Chloe and enthusiastically helping her open gifts. There's no trace of the haunted man who came back from Iraq, or the quicksilver trauma surgeon who rules the Pit with a heady mixture of impulsiveness and protocols. She sees a relaxed and happy father, sitting on the floor in a t-shirt and sweatpants, arms around his little girl.

"Here's another one for Chloe." Owen hands her a package. Cristina presses her lips together, reading her mother's handwriting on the tag. Saul had sent a box full of presents that had been bought and wrapped in the summer, all for Helen's first grandchild.

Sighing, she opens the present. She holds up a red velvet dress. Owen watches her reaction.

"This is lovely," she says. "And it's not pink."

Owen smiles and briefly touches her hand. "I, um, have a mushy idea," he says.

"Go on."

"What do you think about inviting Saul to join us on the cruise in February?"

Cristina looks down at the dress in her lap. His big hands take hers.

"I think that would be nice," she says.

**

By the time they get to bed that night, they're both tired.

"Remember last Christmas?" Owen murmurs, gathering her in his arms. "Waiting for McBaby to arrive?"

"Ugh," Cristina moans. "I was huge and bloated. Why did you have to remind me?"

"I don't remember that you looked anything other than beautiful, Cristina."

"Liar."

"I remember cranky." They both laugh.

Cristina crawls on top of Owen. "I liked seeing you so happy today," she whispers, stroking his face. "This was a good Christmas."

"I'm glad you enjoyed it." He reaches up and threads his hands through her hair, sliding his tongue against hers.

A wail comes through the baby monitor. They both turn and look at it.

"She sounds scared," Cristina says.

They both jump off the bed and run into Chloe's room. She's standing up in her crib, sobbing and wide-eyed.

"Did you have a bad dream?" Cristina picks up Chloe and cuddles her. "Poor baby."

Chloe clings to her and continues to sob.

"It's okay, Chloe," Owen says, stroking her hair.

Owen and Cristina exchange a look.

"We could bring her back to bed with us until she calms down?" Cristina suggests.

He nods sleepily.

"We'll have the S-E-X later," she promises him with a smile, as they walk back to their room.

"She can spell now?"

"Not yet. Maybe next week."

They laugh and settle into bed, with Chloe between them. Cristina speaks with her calmly until she stops crying, while Owen rubs her back.

Once Chloe falls asleep, curled up against her, Cristina looks up at Owen. He's fallen asleep too, hand still protectively placed on Chloe's back.

"You're a fine pair," she whispers, before turning off the light.
Tags: fanfiction
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