Author's Note: Since the Mama Rubenstein two-parter was such a success, I thought I would bring her back. This will follow the previously set-up storyline from those two chapters; so, if you haven't read them, I recommend that you do. And as such, it is a bit AU (started well before "Elevator Love Letter," so no sleeping issues). Anyways, hope you guys enjoy this latest installment! (And as always, please leave some feedback!)
Important Notice: This will be the final installment in this series because I feel like it's getting too long. So, from now on, I will release stories individually rather than chapters. Hope you enjoyed the series!
Mama Rubenstein Returns
Owen was carrying in the last box of his things when Cristina stopped him in his tracks. She had a look of terror on her face as she clutched her cell phone tightly in her fist, knuckles stark white. Owen instantly dropped the box on the floor and placed his hands on either side of her, worried.
"Cristina, what's wrong?" Owen asked, concern emanating from his tone. "Who was on the phone?"
"My mother… She's coming to visit," Cristina whispered, as if saying it softly would make it untrue. She remembered the last time she'd visited and nearly destroyed her budding relationship with Owen.
Owen watched the array of emotions dance across Cristina's face as she bit her lip in deep concentration. He looked at her with amusement, relieved that it was nothing serious. He had thought that Mrs. Rubenstein – or, Helen, as he remembered her insisting – was one very interesting woman. Although he didn't appreciate the fact that she had brought another man to the dinner, he couldn't really blame her since she had had no idea that he was coming – or that he even existed. In a weird way, he liked Helen Rubenstein. It was probably because he could see where a lot of Cristina's spunk came from, minus the meddling and the inability to keep secrets.
"We have to break up," Cristina finally said, interrupting Owen's thoughts and jerking him back to reality.
"What?" Owen asked, confused. He had apparently missed something. Here he was, just about to move in with her, and she suddenly wanted to break up? Yes, he was definitely missing something.
"We have to break up," Cristina repeated, as if it made perfect sense. Before Owen could question her or protest, she went on. "Not really break up, but at least pretend to break up. In fact, you're going to take out all your stuff. We can't let my mother see that you're moving in. That's just asking for trouble."
Owen was still not following her logic, and his puzzled facial expression said as much. Cristina gave him a look of exasperation as he stood there, unmoving. "Well? Come on. We have to load your stuff back into the truck."
Owen stared at her as if she were insane. The woman had some serious mommy issues: highly stressful surgeries didn't even faze her, but the mere mention of her mother coming in town sent her into a frenzy.
Having decided that she was no longer capable of thinking rationally, Owen soothingly ran his hands up and down her arms and talked to her in the tone that one would use to calm a frightened animal. "Cristina, I'm not breaking up with you – pretend or otherwise. And I'm not going to reload all my stuff in the truck. Plus, where would I go? The landlord has already rented out my apartment, remember?" When Cristina looked like she was about to say something, he quickly continued. "I am not going to book a hotel room just so you don't have to tell your mother that we've moved in together or that we're still dating."
They'd been together for over six months now – a bit soon for moving in for most couples. But with them, it had seemed like the natural next step – which was why Cristina had immediately asked Owen to move in with her after Callie had gone to live with Arizona. She reasoned that they spent most of their time at her place anyways – her apartment being so close to the hospital and all – so it wasn't much of a transition. In fact, Owen had pretty much moved in with her a while ago, having left more and more of his belongings in her apartment whenever he stayed over.
"Ugh," Cristina finally groaned, resigned to the fact that Owen wouldn't budge on the matter. "Fine, we need to pick her up from the airport in four hours."
"What?" Owen asked, not believing he'd heard right.
"Yeah, my mother's not huge on giving warnings either. I think she knows that I'd try to get out of seeing her. Ugh, I can't believe we have to spend our weekend off with my mother. I swear she has ESP or something." Cristina let out a huge sigh and plopped onto the futon that Owen had brought over from his apartment, her arm coming up to cover her eyes in frustration.
"Uh," Owen replied, "I don't think it'd be appropriate to pick up your mother in my truck."
"Your mother doesn't seem like the truck type to me."
"Fine, we'll stop by Meredith's first and get her car," Cristina groaned, arm coming down briefly to look at him. "I just hope it's big enough for all of my mother's crap," she muttered to herself, resuming her posture of resignation.
"How long is she staying?"
"Just this weekend. But trust me. My mother will have enough suitcases to last a month."
Having met Helen, Owen didn't have any trouble believing her. "Come on," he said, walking over to stand in front of Cristina, "we've got some time to kill."
Cristina's interest was piqued and sat up. With an eyebrow raised suggestively, she asked, "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"
"If by that you mean unpacking my stuff, then yes."
"Seriously?" Cristina replied. "You'd rather unpack boxes than get a piece of this?" To emphasize her point, Cristina struck a seductive pose, playing with her hair and running her tongue across her lips.
Owen cleared his throat as desire hit him instantly. He was tempted – very tempted – to take her up on her offer, but he resisted. Purposely adverting his gaze and conjuring up the dependably libido-killing thought of his grandmother, he answered, "Uh, no. I just think we should save the celebration of my moving in until after I've actually moved in." Plus, Owen had the feeling that Helen would be able to tell exactly what they'd been up to. Mothers could just sense that sort of thing.
"Ugh," Cristina groaned again. "Fine. But you better make it up to me," she said as she reluctantly got up from the couch and leaned down to grab a box. "I'm talking about mind-blowing sex that's so good that I'll forget my mother's here."
"Don't worry," Owen whispered in her ear as he came up behind her, nuzzling her neck. An involuntary shiver went down her spine. "I fully intend to inaugurate our apartment."
Three and a half hours, twelve boxes, and one quick stop at Meredith's later, Owen and Cristina drove towards the airport in Meredith's station wagon. Owen noted that it still wasn't the vehicle of choice for picking up Helen Rubenstein, but at least it had a proper backseat.
Cristina sat beside him, fidgeting in the passenger seat as they drew closer to the airport. Owen could hear her muttering "oh crap" over and over again to herself. He had honestly never seen someone so afraid of seeing their mother, especially since she seemed to be completely fine with his mom.
As they entered the pick-up zone of the domestic arrivals area, Owen scanned the handful of people waiting.
"Do you see her?" Owen asked, figuring that Cristina would be better at recognizing her mother.
"Uh… Right there… Next to those two guys pushing her luggage. Crap, I hope everything will fit."
Owen followed Cristina's finger, and his gaze fell upon two clearly exhausted airport attendants and the familiar figure of Helen Rubenstein chatting away on her phone, oblivious to the looks of exasperation that were being directed at her. He pulled up to an empty space along the curb next to them.
"Mom," Cristina said, lowering the window enough to poke her hand out and catch her mother's attention.
Owen heard a muted "I'll call you later, dear" before Helen approached the car with the two airport employees in tow. Both Cristina and Owen got out of the car – Cristina to do the daughterly thing of hugging her mother and Owen to start getting Helen's pile of stuff into the car.
"Owen, what a nice surprise," Helen said. "I see that you haven't been frightened away," she remarked with a smile, referring to their last conversation they'd had. Indeed, she truly was a bit surprised that Cristina had managed to hang onto such a charming man. She loved her daughter, but she knew that charm was amongst Cristina's repertoire of qualities.
"No, ma'am, I haven't," Owen replied with a genial smile.
Cristina simply rolled her eyes and went to the closest luggage cart. Grasping the handle of a smaller bag, she let out a surprised "ooph" of exertion when she could barely budge it.
"Holy crap, what's in this thing?" she asked.
Helen tsked at her. "Cristina, language." She gave the men an apologetic look, as though to excuse her daughter's crassness. "Just a few trinkets I picked up on my last trip to Europe."
"What did you do? Buy out the entire store?" Cristina asked incredulously as Owen relieved her of the bag. "Why did you bring it here?"
"I thought your apartment and wardrobe could use some improvements. Which is why I also bought you some lovely outfits as well," she said, gesturing to the other suitcases that were currently being loaded into the car by Owen.
Cristina doubted that her mother's idea of "lovely" matched hers. "Seriously, you didn't have to do that." Though what she really wanted to say was, "Don't do that."
"I know I didn't have to, but you're so busy at the hospital. If it weren't for me, you'd probably only wear jeans and that awful leather jacket of yours." Helen gave a pointed look at Cristina's signature jacket that she was currently wearing. Cristina looked down, not seeing why her mother had such issues with it. "Or worse – scrubs. Really, Cristina, you look like you belong to a motorcycle gang."
Having become immune to her mother's penchant for exaggerations, Cristina ignored her mother's comments about the way she dressed. "So, which hotel are you staying at?"
Owen, having finally gotten everything into the car with the other men's help, came to stand by Cristina's side. He had left just enough room in the backseat for one person – Cristina – to fit in. Everything was stacked on top of each other so that Owen would only have a sliver of visibility in his rearview mirror when he drove.
"No hotel," Helen answered matter-of-factly, "I'm staying with you."
"What?" Cristina and Owen both asked at the same.
"I'm staying with you," Helen repeated. "Didn't I tell you over the phone? I swear I said it. Your roommate did move out after all. And why else would I have brought you stuff for your apartment? I don't trust you to decorate your place yourself. Knowing you, you'd just shove everything I bought you in the back of your closet." Cristina remained speechless, feeling signs of her earlier panic attack coming on again. "Well? Shall we go back to your apartment?" Helen continued. "It's been an exhausting day, and I need my beauty sleep." She gave Owen a wink.
Owen automatically opened the passenger door for her and helped Helen in. When he went to do the same for Cristina, he whispered into her ear, "I think now would be a good time to tell your mom that you have a new roommate."
Cristina nodded silently as she got in the car. Owen quickly got into the driver's seat and started heading back towards Cristina's apartment.
"Uh, mom," Cristina began, "about my apartment…"
"Yes, what about it?"
"Don't you think you'd be more comfortable in a hotel? I don't have any real food. And I'm so close to the hospital that you won't be able to sleep with the sound of the sirens."
"Cristina, why are you so against me staying with you? You're going to make Owen think that you don't want me here."
I don't, Cristina thought to herself. But instead, she said, "It's not that. I just think that you would like it better in some fancy hotel." She caught Owen's eyes in the rearview mirror, glaring at him to say something to persuade her mother to stay somewhere else for the weekend. It was only two days – but that was two days too many.
Owen remained silent, preferring that Cristina tell her mother the truth. Even though he wasn't exactly looking forward to having to sleep on the pull-out bed, he didn't want to condone Cristina's lying by omission either. Plus, he wanted Helen to know that things between him and her daughter were serious – that he was planning on sticking around for as long as Cristina wanted him.
Realizing that she wouldn't get any help from Owen, she shot him an annoyed look. With a huge sigh of resignation, she quickly said, "Owenmovedinwithme."
"Don't mumble, Cristina," her mother responded.
"I said, 'Owen … moved in with me," she repeated, letting the last few words trail off into a mere whisper.
Helen still couldn't understand what Cristina had said. She turned in her seat to look at Cristina. "What did you say about Owen?"
Taking pity on Cristina and satisfied with her attempts – albeit rather pathetic attempts at that – to tell her mother the truth, Owen chimed in. "I've moved in with your daughter, ma'am."
Helen quickly turned back to look at him, a delighted smile at her lips. First step: moving in together. Next step: a wedding. And oh how Helen yearned to plan a wedding – a wedding where Cristina actually walked down the aisle and got married.
"You're a brave man," Helen remarked.
"I did warn you that she is a very messy girl."
Owen laughed while Cristina sulked in the backseat. "She's gotten better. I think Torres – sorry, Callie – rubbed off on her."
Helen scoffed, not trusting Owen's judgment. "Well, I'll have to see for myself." Then, in a turnabout of emotion, she played with the string of pearls around her neck and asked sweetly, "You don't mind, do you, Owen?"
"Not at all," Owen said with a smile. Unfortunately, this meant that he'd have to postpone the fulfillment of the promise he'd given Cristina earlier.
Cristina gave the back of his seat a slight kick in a juvenile response to his brownnosing. Helen didn't notice.
"Wonderful. Now excuse me, I have to let Saul know that I got here safe and sound," Helen replied, getting out her PalmPilot and texting furiously. And tell my friends that Cristina's good-looking army surgeon has moved in.
"I am going to kill that woman," Cristina panted as she heaved a Louis Vuitton carry-on bag up the stairs.
Helen, being her typical self, was sitting idly on the couch as Owen and Cristina brought up her stuff. Helen Rubenstein of Beverly Hills did not carry her own luggage.
"Cristina," Owen admonished, slightly out of breath himself as he lifted two sizeable suitcases.
"What? First, she comes here unannounced. Second, we are going to have to share the couch because I refuse to sleep in the same bed with her. Third, I'm going to have to put up with a bunch of crap I don't need. And last but definitely not least, I'm not getting laid tonight." Cristina nearly screamed the last part in frustration, causing Owen to glance around to make sure that no one was listening.
"She's your mother, Cristina."
"Well, I don't do mothers."
"You seemed to get along just fine with my mom."
"Your mom's different. She's sane. And she doesn't meddle or gossip to her friends about her daughter's new boyfriend. You know that's what she's doing right now, right?"
Owen chuckled. He wouldn't put it past Helen to do so – she certainly seemed the type. And she seemed to like him, so it could only be a good thing.
As they reached the front of the apartment door, Owen's pager went off. Depositing the suitcases inside the door, he glanced at the screen. "I've got to go. The hospital needs me."
"Leaving so soon?" Helen asked, hearing him.
"Sorry, it's an emergency. I need to get back to the ER. I'll be back as soon as I can to help you settle in."
Cristina was silently pleading with him to not leave her alone with her mother; but Owen just simply pecked her on the lips, gave Helen a polite nod, and headed out the door.
Cristina glared at her boyfriend's retreating back for a moment before pasting on a less hostile expression – she couldn't quite manage a smile – on her face.
"Well, I'll leave you to your nap," Cristina said as she turned to face her mother.
"I thought you said you needed your beauty sleep?"
"Don't feel tired anymore."
"What? Owen leaving miraculously rejuvenated you?"
"Sarcasm doesn't suit you, Cristina." Helen raised an eyebrow, giving her daughter a look that was all too familiar.
"You don't suit me," Cristina muttered under her breath.
"Well, don't just stand there, Cristina. Help me unpack all this stuff. It is for your apartment after all," Helen said breezily as she went around the rooms to explore the space with the eyes of an amateur interior decorator.
"I'm just going to have to take it down after you leave," Cristina grumbled to herself as she obeyed her mother's orders. "I'm going to kill her. I'm really going to kill her," she ranted under her breath and she bent down to unzip the bulging suitcases. "I seriously need to stop talking to myself. I'm starting to sound like I'm a crazy person."
"What's taking you so long?" Helen asked, coming out of the bedroom, where she'd snuck a peek into Owen's things. He was certainly a very neat man. She liked that. In fact, she was pretty sure that Owen had tidied up some of Cristina's things as well. There was no way that all of Cristina's clothes had miraculously hung themselves inside the closet or folded themselves into the drawers.
"How did the airport let you bring all this onto the plane?" Cristina asked, once again hit with the ridiculous amount of stuff her mother had brought with her. "I thought they had weight limits."
Cristina's mother gave a careless wave of her hand. "Oh, they do. I paid those silly little fines. I'm sure Saul won't mind. I just had to bring these to you for your apartment." Helen meandered her way towards an already-opened suitcase. "Look here," she said, lifting out a fragile item that was completely wrapped in paper. She gently removed the outer covering to reveal a miniature replica of the famous statue of Venus de Milo.
"Isn't it gorgeous?" Helen said, almost reverently.
"Uh, it's a woman with no arms. Why do I need some naked woman with no arms in my apartment? This apartment has already seen plenty of naked women with arms."
Helen chose to ignore the latter comment and glared at her culturally unrefined daughter who had no appreciation for art. "It adds character, and your guests will see that you have good taste when you entertain them."
"I don't entertain."
Helen shook her head. As she had many times before, she wondered just how her daughter had turned out to be so different than her.
For the next several hours, Helen kept her word and proceeded to give Cristina's apartment a total makeover – the kind that one washed off the moment they got home, except the damage her mother had done to her apartment wouldn't go away with a splash of water. Resigned to the fact that her mother was on a warpath that couldn't be stopped, Cristina blocked out her mother's voice and concentrated on unpacking the various items from her mother's suitcases. As she completed the menial task, she brainstormed all the ways she'd torture Owen when he got back – served him right for leaving her here alone.
Just as her imagination turned towards thoughts of possible dismemberment, Cristina heard the jingle of keys at the door. Immediately dropping what was in her hand – a ceramic plate that really had no business being in her apartment – she rushed to open the door.
"Save me," Cristina begged, causing Owen to laugh. Owen retrieved his keys from the lock and leaned in to kiss her frown away. All plans of dismemberment flew from her mind, and Cristina even managed a hum of pleasure.
"Oh, Owen, you're back. Wonderful. What do you think?" Helen asked, gesturing towards the room as though she were Vanna White revealing the next letter.
"Uh…it looks fantastic, ma'am." Though internally, Owen was rather horrified over the huge upheaval of the apartment that had become his home. The place looked more like a showroom or a miniature art museum than a habitable space. Owen was afraid to even put his bag down for fear of ruining the aesthetic. No wonder Cristina had looked like she was about to blow a fuse when he first got home.
Oblivious to Owen's hesitation and outright lie, Helen beamed at him. "It sure is, isn't it?" she replied, proving that one does only really see – or hear – what they want to hear.
Cristina feigned sticking a finger down her throat, purposely hiding the motion from her mother's line of sight. Owen stifled a snort, quickly recovering to inquire, "Is there anything you need me to help you with?"
"Hmm…" Helen responded, looking around the room with a critical eye. "No, I think we're done."
"Finally," Cristina muttered under her breath.
Catching a glimpse of the clock, Helen let out a surprised gasp. "Oh, it's so late already. Time does seem to fly when you're having fun. I better call Saul and head off to bed. All this decorating has tired me out."
Owen kept a restraining hand on Cristina to keep her from making some comment to the effect of, "Decorating has tired you out? All you did was point fingers as things." He read her so well.
Helen bade them goodnight and headed towards Cristina's bedroom, where a nice comfy bed laid waiting.
"One day, Owen, I'm going to stab that woman with a scalpel," Cristina finally said when Helen was out of earshot.
"Uh huh… So, you ready for bed?" Owen asked, wrapping his arm around Cristina's waist and garnering a chuckle out of Cristina.
"Ready when you are," Cristina said huskily, letting her hand drift down his chest and towards more exciting parts.
"Cristina…wait. Your mother is in the next room. I am not making love to you when your mother can just walk out any second."
"Ugh, seriously? I'm a grown woman. I have sex. I love sex. I want sex. Right now."
Owen placed a finger on her bowed lips and snuck a glance towards the bedroom door. He could feel his cheeks flush in embarrassment. Cristina's lips curved under his fingers and her tongue darted out and licked his finger just for fun – and to rile him up.
Owen quickly drew his hand back. Yes, the woman was truly the devil in disguise, tempting him in every which way. "Soon, Cristina. I promise. And I keep my promises."
The sex-hungry woman finally gave in with a lamenting groan. "Ugh, fine. Let's go to bed…and cuddle." She emphasized the last word with disgust, though in all honesty, she had reached a point where she couldn't sleep without his arms wrapped around her.
Thankfully, Cristina had had the foresight to leave out a pile of Owen's clothing so that she wouldn't have to go into the bedroom where her mother was now snoring like a hibernating bear.
While Owen went about converting the futon into a bed and shaking out the comforters, Cristina got out of her street clothes – taking her time in one last attempt to change Owen's mind about the sex thing but to no avail since the man had smartly decided to avert his gaze – and slipped into one of Owen's T-shirts. Although fitted on Owen's muscular frame, the shirt nearly engulfed Cristina's significantly smaller one, coming down to mid-thigh. She quickly ducked under the covers to escape the chill. It also allowed her to have the chance to ogle Owen as he stripped down to his boxer briefs before he snuggled up next to her in bed. He fluffed his pillow and adjusted his body to the foreign feel of the sofa bed. In all the times that he had slept over, he had never once slept on the couch.
With their legs entwined and Cristina's body firmly anchored against Owen's, the two lovebirds drifted off to sleep after an exhausting day.
The smell of cinnamon toast and bacon wafted into Cristina's semi-conscious state. "Mmm…" She could almost taste it. It reminded her of when Callie used to make breakfast for the four of them. But now that Callie was gone, Owen had apparently taken over kitchen duty – which was just fine with her. It sure beat eating cold cereal every morning.
"Is that bacon for you or Cristina?" Cristina heard her mother say.
"Hmmm…" Cristina could tell that she was trying her hardest not to say something.
"Here's your grapefruit," Owen interjected before Helen could make some insulting remark about her daughter's diet. "Please excuse me. I'd better wake up your daughter before her breakfast gets cold."
Cristina could hear Owen's bare feet pad across the floor towards her. Within seconds, she felt her body lurch towards one side as his weight caused the springs to squeak.
Owen brushed aside Cristina's hair and kissed her on the forehead. Then, he leaned close to her ear and whispered, "Stop pretending to be asleep and eat your breakfast. Your mother is catching an earlier flight. Apparently, Saul has to go to New York for a conference and your mother just has to do some shopping there."
Thank you, Saul, Cristina thought to herself. Finally opening her eyes, she saw that Owen had put on a Harvard T-shirt and a pair of jeans. She stretched out her arms and let out a big yawn before getting up. Shooting her mother a garbled greeting, she headed through her bedroom to brush her teeth and get a change of clothes. Five minutes later, she came out in a similar outfit as Owen's – except she had on a blue Cal shirt instead of a maroon Harvard one – and sat down on one of the stools and joined the other two for breakfast.
"I'm sorry that I couldn't stay longer," Helen said as they were driving her back to the airport, though all parties were far from being disappointed at having this visit cut short – and they all knew it.
"It's okay, Helen. You can come visit us anytime," Owen replied.
Cristina glared at him from the back seat. Her mother was certainly not welcome to visit them anytime. At least, not by Cristina. If Owen wanted her mother to come visit, then he could see her all by himself.
"Thank you, Owen." Cristina knew that the only reason her mother didn't turn around to give Cristina a pointed look for not saying the same was because her mother was easily carsick. Thank goodness for small favors.
Soon, Owen pulled their vehicle towards the curb near the domestic departure area. Now that the number of suitcases was down to two, Owen was able to help Helen by himself. Cristina was given the job of watching the car as Owen helped her mother place the luggage on a cart and wheel it towards the door – a job that suited her just fine.
Having moved to the passenger seat, Cristina could see that Owen and Helen had stopped near the entrance and were talking. She didn't have any idea what the two of them could be talking about. And as long as it didn't involve scheduling another visit, she really didn't care. Knowing Owen, he was probably humoring her mother out of politeness. Always the gentleman.
However, her curiosity was piqued when Helen suddenly let out a short shriek and hugged Owen. Crap, Cristina thought, Owen probably just invited my mother to Thanksgiving dinner with his mother.
What followed was even more confusing. Cristina's brows furrowed as she heard her mother speaking in a shrill voice. Either she was saying, "Of course, you have my best" or "Of course, you're a blessing." Neither made sense. Straining to hear Owen's response as to get some clue as to what they were talking about, Cristina finally gave up and sat back in her seat when all she heard was Owen chuckling. She'd just ask him when he got back. It wasn't long before Owen bent down to hug Helen again and headed back towards the car with a wide grin on his face.
"What was that all about?" Cristina asked as Owen opened his door and got back in the car.
"What was what about?" As if he didn't know.
"That." Cristina gestured towards where he and her mother had been standing only moments ago.
"Oh. Helen's just excited that she'll be meeting my mother soon."
"Ugh. I knew it."
The hand that was buckling the seatbelt paused midway. "Knew what?"
"I just knew that you invited my mother to Thanksgiving dinner at Sarah's."
Owen breathed an inaudible sigh of relief. She didn't know. "Uh, yeah. Sorry. But we're going to have a family Thanksgiving dinner. One big happy family."
"Crap," Cristina moaned, resigning herself to having to see her mother again. Once a year was enough. In fact, it was often more than enough.
Owen smiled. If he played his cards right, by Thanksgiving, they really would be one big happy family.