Disclaimer - Grey's Anatomy belong to someone else, but Owen Hunt seems to have taken up temporary residence in my head (which is a bit worrying)
A/N - This is my first ever Grey's Anatomy story, written simply because Owen and Cristina are an amazing couple. It hasn't really turned out the way I expected...
Cristina sat curled in the chair, her arms wrapped tightly around her, her eyes closed but only too awake.
She had a shift in four hours. She should be sleeping.
But she wasn't.
She sat quietly, her hair flat against her head, twenty minutes of styling ruined by stepping into the shower, knowing that on the bathroom floor her beautiful cashmere jumper lay in a matted, puddled heap. No doubt it would be four sizes smaller by the time it had dried.
She should be angry. Dismissive.
But she wasn't.
She could hear his steady breathing only a few feet away where he lay sprawled on her bed and she seriously considered blocking her ears so she couldn't hear him but she knew it would be useless, every cell in her body was acutely aware of his presence. Probably had been from the first moment and repeat exposure seemed only to make it worse.
Closing her eyes just meant that she couldn't see the blur of red hair against the pale pillow and she wasn't tempted to gently touch a face that had finally lost its fine lines of tension in sleep. But it didn't mean she couldn't see him; in her mind's eye a kaleidoscope of images assailed her.
That first bizarre, overwhelming meeting. His obvious brilliance. His utter assurance. His palpable confidence in his duty and where he was going.
He called it before. For her, the him of the before was summed in one single word: so? A brief word transformed into a confident rebuttal of any doubts and simple, direct challenge to every possible barrier.
She had never seen the Chief so nonplussed when as he blinked and then paused while processing the one word dismissal of his astonished query about the improvised tracheotomy. So? Those intense blue eyes had flicked up and met hers for a moment and she had the weirdest sensation of reading his mind. The outcome is what matters, not the method. The patient is alive and now at a hospital for treatment - it's over to you now, what I did is irrelevant.
And she had to admit that it wasn't a coincidence that she was looking at his uniform-clad ass when she'd summed up her assessment initial assessment of this unfamiliar but apparently brilliant doctor - hot.
Then there were the staples. She'd maintained a professional distance while swabbing the vicious gash with iodine, but when she'd turned back to find him stapling the wound together, the leg unanaesthetised, she'd been astonished and said so.
So? Was the reply, blue eyes challenging, telling her I can handle it, no sense wasting time. Then he'd asked for her help and she knew it wasn't a detached smile they shared as she sat down to finish the job. It wasn't that she liked hurting him or that he welcomed the pain, but there was something compelling about his stoical winces and expressive eyes. It was probably a good thing that Callie had come in when she had.
It might only have put off what she now recognised had already been inevitable but at least she was the patient not the doctor when it had happened.
So? He'd asked then, searching her face for an invitation to continue their passionate kiss. The spark is there. We don't have to know one and other to know that. Life is too short; live it.
And then he turned and walked out the door and Christina knew that things had changed. She had changed.
She kept the whole surreal 24 hours to herself. Allowed the memory of succumbing to an instant and intense connection to slowly loosen the choking ties of her non-wedding and everything that surrounded it. But hadn't expected to see him again.
Then she did. And then began the after.
Those blue eyes still laid her bare. Still provoked her. Still made her want... things...
But they were haunted now. The absolute assurance gone.
He still had it when he operated. He made trauma fascinating. Immediate. Vital.
And there were moments when he smiled or talked to her and she saw before.
She remembered the vent - not just the brain-melting kiss or the fierce joy in his face, but the fact that he had known that she was hurting and that he had been there for her. No-one else had.
She remembered him telling her to go with her gut, as he had when he'd chosen her. Simple. Direct. Like before.
But she also remembered being near him and feeling the tension he barely kept bottled away as an almost physical thing.
And she remembered his wildly swinging arm in the alley. His conflict as he told her that he didn't need her, while every fibre of his being told her how much he did.
He'd called her beautiful and looked at her, his eyes trying to tell her all the things he could no longer articulate.
And she would never forget him as he stood in her shower. Drunk and fully clothed. And he let her into his darkness.
Some part of her brain wondered how he held it together as well as he did each day, but mostly she didn't think. She just stepped out of her shoes and into the shower and the darkness. Offering her touch. Offering her silence. No empty words. No hollow attempts to understand.
Contact and acceptance - and, maybe, hope.
She remembered her words from before: 'I don't even know you.'
Tonight had proven how much that was true. And how little it mattered.
'So?' She whispered to herself. I see the damage. It's not that I want to fix him. I want him. I want us. In the after.