Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. (Shonda Rimes, Shondaland, ABC, et al.) The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.

S3 finale spoilers and spoilers for episode 4x01.

Dedicated to Bee, my muse.

Healthy Ways to Cope
by lostlikealice

So Cristina bought a red velvet cake. So what? It's cake. By merit of having a vagina, she's allowed to do this kind of thing every once in a while, just like by merit of having a penis men are allowed to be selfish bastards without being labeled as cold and cutthroat for their entire lives. That's not the point, though. The point is that the cake is a completely, normal healthy thing, even if she's going to eat the whole thing by herself.

Because that's the plan.

That's why Cristina's sitting at the lunch table with a fork, a knife, and the red velvet cake in a box. She's made an impressive dent in the cake already, and it's not healthy, but damn, it feels good. And that's really the best part, because if it didn't feel good, she'd feel like Izzie, and Izzie's ability to eat a week's worth of food under stress and somehow manage to metabolize it all into thin air is both annoying and a little unnerving.

Dr. Grey, her intern Dr. Grey, is walking towards her table. (This will never stop being weird.) She'd even prefer to see the intern with the obnoxious face who keeps looking at her ass over Grey these days, because she's doing that stupid thing that girls do for their best friends, where you hate everyone they hate. For some reason, Meredith doesn't like Lexie, and Cristina doesn't completely get it, but Grey's obnoxious anyway.

Hoping to somehow deter the intern and get back to the fun part all at the same time, Cristina stabs her fork into the cake. She victoriously pulls away a strip of cake like a lion from a National Geographic video might tear away a strip of antelope flesh, eating it with just as much satisfaction. It's almost enough that she can completely ignore Grey, but not entirely.

"Looks good," Grey the intern says, peering into the box.

Cristina closes the box abruptly and looks up at her. "What are you doing here?"

"I'm... eating lunch?" Grey's eyebrows knit together.

"I'm eating my lunch. This is the one time I don't have to babysit you. Where are the other – don't answer, I don't care. I'm busy."

Grey seems to struggle between her natural talents of curiosity and sucking up, but gives in. "Are you actually going to eat that by yourself?"

"Okay. See, you're ruining my cake-eating experience," Cristina says. She lifts the box cover and jabs the fork into the cake again. "There are lots of interns. Sit and eat with some of them. You're not going to sit with me and you're definitely not getting any cake, especially not by sucking up."

"I'm not sucking up, Dr. Yang," Grey dares to say, even dares to sound offended.

Cristina considers that. "Is there something wrong with sucking up?" she asks. "Because I think there's room for sucking up, or at least making your resident happy so they don't put you on scut. Do you like being on scut, Dr. Grey?"

Grey looks puzzled. "No."

Cristina gives an obviously false smile. "Then suck up and make me happy by eating your lunch somewhere else."

Grey looks slightly hurt, and stands, but before she finally leaves she says, "Tell Meredith I said hi."

"She won't care," Cristina calls after her.

"Brutal," Sloan comments, from where he sits one table over. He's sitting alone, too. How pathetic is that?

"Yeah, I'm sure your interns learn so much from the 'fetching lunch and coffee' teaching philosophy."

"I hate interns."

Cristina doesn't want to agree with McSteamy on this one. "Shut up," she advises, and tears into the cake again.

And just when she thinks the conversation is over, he speaks up. "You're not actually going to eat that whole thing by yourself, are you?"

She turns to him. "I'm sorry, did you just miss the 'I want to eat my cake in silence' part of the whole conversation you were eavesdropping on?"

"Fine," he says. He's got that McSteamy face on, the one where it looks like he's imagining you naked. Cristina holds strong, though it's reminding her just how long it's been that she hasn't had sex – she hasn't seen Burke for nineteen days and wow, she's not thinking about it.

She stabs the cake again. "Great."

Shepherd sets his lunch down at her table and sits down with his usual air of grandeur, like she's supposed to be happy about his arrival or something. "Most people sit at the same table when they're having a conversation, you know," he says.

"I'm not most people," Cristina and Sloan say in near unison, and Cristina adds, flippantly awkward, "Wow, that didn't happen."

"But it did," Sloan says, and he is smirking. She can feel the smirk.

"You can punch him again, right?" Cristina asks McDreamy. "Do it for Meredith. If I'm not happy, Meredith's not happy, and if Meredith's not happy, you don't get your happy McSex and she starts knitting or drinking tequila."

"Your logic is irrefutable, but no," Shepherd says, clearly amused. "Besides, you two are hitting it off."

"Go to hell," she suggests.

"Is that red velvet cake?"

"Can I just make it clear that I want to be left alone right now, with my cake? Thanks."

"You're not really going to eat that all by yourself," Shepherd says, nonplussed.

She swallows and glares. "What does it look like I'm doing?"

Meredith sits down next to her, immediately chiding "Cristina," at the first peek of what's in the box.

Cristina waves it off. "I've heard it from everyone else, don't bother."

"Hi," Shepherd says to Meredith, wearing that flirty grin he always gives her, and Meredith returns a "Hi," in her deadpan coy tone, and Cristina glances sideways at Sloan to see him wearing a similar expression of ugh. They can't even keep from flirting when they're broken up.

"Look at that," Shepherd is saying. "They're exchanging looks."

"I am not exchanging looks with anyone. I'm eating cake," Cristina informs the world at large.

"I don't sleep with kids," Sloan says.

"I don't sleep with plastic surgeons," Cristina retorts.

Sloan eyes her. "I could have gone into cardiothoracics."

Cristina shakes her head. "You don't sleep with kids? Haven't you screwed half the nurses in this hospital?"

"Nurses are different," Sloan says.


"Well, they're not interns."

"Neither am I."

"Are you actually arguing why he should sleep with you?" Meredith asks thickly, swallowing a bite of salad.

"They've got it bad," Shepherd says.

"I'm just eating cake," Cristina says again. "I'm eating cake and trying to get some peace." She raises her barely-grown back eyebrows as Sloan stands up and moves to sit at the table. "I didn't say you could sit here."

"I'm an attending," Sloan says. "I sit where I want."

"Sure. Anywhere but here," Cristina says.

"Oh, just let him stay here." Meredith grins at Sloan.

"If he shuts up," Cristina concludes.

"You never answered my question," Sloan says. "Are you actually going to try to eat that whole thing?"

"It's a little self-indulgent," Shepherd agrees, then -- "Ow!" He jerks up in his seat in pain, and Meredith is giving him a sharp look.

"Sorry, McPervy, but you're the last person I'll hear preaching to me about self-indulgence," Cristina retorts, wanting to defend herself. "A near affair on the former mistress is overkill, don't you think?" She turns to Meredith. "By the way, Lexie says hi."

Meredith rams her fork into a crouton. "Okay," she says, impressively civil.

"Okay," Shepherd says, in his best cheerful let's-change-the-subject tone. "Why red velvet?"

Cristina shakes her head. "There has to be something more interesting going on in this hospital except my cake," she says. "There's always something weird going on here."

Meredith perks up. "Oh! Oh, I have one." She waves her salad fork then pokes it in the general direction of Cristina. "Izzie saved a deer."

Cristina pauses to absorb that, but it makes very little sense -- so, common fare, she figures. "Wait. What?" Meredith nods. "Like, medically?"

"Medically. IVs, paddles, the whole shebang," Meredith says with a handwave.

"Why? It's just going to get shot two days later," Cristina says.

"Has anyone ever told you that your optimism is inspiring, Dr. Yang?" Shepherd says, smiling.

"Eat. Everyone just... eat," Cristina orders, evening out the cake with a careful slice.

Izzie winces as she passes by the table. "Red velvet," she says. "Sorry, Cristina."

"I'm fine," Cristina says immediately.

"What?" Shepherd asks, puzzled.

"Never mind," Meredith says. "Never mind it, Derek."

"You don't get to boss me around anymore," Derek informs her.

"It was her wedding cake," Sloan says, sounding more like he's guessing than it's definite, and this is too much for her. Cristina closes the box, picks it up, and leaves as abruptly as she can, marching past all of the new little interns and half-rate surgeons and Burke is nowhere to be seen. Burke is gone. And she has a box with a red velvet cake inside of it, and part of her cares or wishes it could care or had cared because maybe then she wouldn't feel so alone.

There are no fairytale endings or happily ever afters. She always knew that. Those stories have always been stupid.

She closes the door of the on-call room, locks it, eats her damn cake and does not cry.