Cristina comes home in the middle of the night, curiously noting Owen's truck parked in front of her building.
He's asleep on the couch, covered in one of Callie's blankets, his sock-clad feet sticking out. She smiles softly and moves to touch his face – then steps back, flashing back to flailing limbs and being knocked across a corridor.
She goes to the other end of the couch and shakes one of his feet, stepping back immediately. He wakes up, limbs jerking, wary. He sits up and his face relaxes when he sees her standing a safe distance away.
"Hi," she says softly.
"Hi," he mumbles, checking his watch. "Sorry I missed your surgery, I was out in the woods –"
"Bailey explained," she shrugs, sitting next to him on the couch.
"I cleared my schedule so I could watch it," he says apologetically, taking her hand. "How did it go?"
"I rocked it."
"I'm really sorry I missed it," he apologizes again, hanging his head. She clinically notes his anxiety over disappointing her. She needs to tell him what she's really worried about.
"Izzie has cancer."
He turns his face towards her and simply listens while she gives him the details. When she finishes, he squeezes her hand. "You're a good friend."
"Come on," she says, standing up and pulling him up. "I'm exhausted. We're going to bed."
"I don't think that's such a good idea," he says, shaking his head.
She grabs fistfuls of his shirt and pulls him close. "I need you," she whispers fiercely. "We've slept in each other's arms in the on call room and you did not hurt me. I need you to get into bed with me tonight and be there with me. I need that from you tonight."
He looks anxious, but nods and lets her pull him into her bedroom. They quickly strip down to t-shirts and underwear, then climb under the covers. She snuggles against him as he wraps his arms around her. She briefly savours the feel of their bare legs against each other as she closes her eyes. His body is warm and comforting against hers, and she falls asleep quickly.
They need to spend time apart. She gets that. Owen needs space to get treatment for his PTSD. She needs to not be around him for a while. Not after what happened. That incident is tucked away into a compartment. Right now her focus is Izzie and her friends.
But it's hard. They work in the same hospital. His presence calls out to her. Cristina just knows when he's around. She sees his yearning in the brief glances he permits himself. She has so many questions that never make it to her lips.
She has a particularly bad day. Izzie has developed pneumonia after her latest round of chemo. Bailey sends her down to Trauma on what is supposed to be a day off for Owen. But he shows up anyways, haunted and closed off. They work together as colleagues and nothing but.
She is assigned a cardio case. Bright, lively, 8 year old girl. Despite herself, Cristina gets too involved. And the girl dies of an aortic dissection on the table.
He's waiting for her by an on call room. God, here comes the saviour complex. "I'm sorry you lost your patient –" he starts.
She grabs him by his scrub top and drags him into the room, locking the door behind her.
"I can't do this," he says gently. "We can't be alone together like this."
"Thirty minutes," she snaps. "I need you for thirty minutes. Then we can go back to separate lives."
His forehead furrows. "What –"
She lunges at him, pulling his head down to mash her lips against his. He tries to pull away but she won't let him. He can't bring himself to try to push her away. Sighing, he kisses her back. She backs him up against a wall, one hand firmly behind his neck, the other snaking up under his scrub top. His hands tentatively touch her waist, then pull back. Their lips and tongues and teeth tangle. Her free hand explores his chest, deliberately brushing up against a nipple. He moans and tries to twist away. She won't let him. They're breathing heavily and the room feels hot and closed in.
Her hand drops to his waistband, and this time he does pull away, twisting and wrenching himself from her grasp while curling his hands against his chest. He starts to shake and a sob escapes her lips. She leans against him, gasping for air as she starts to shake too, briefly staggering as the tears come. His arms go around her and she clings to him. They hold onto each other, both crying and shaking, for what feels like hours.
Gradually, they calm down. He quietly produces a tissue from his lab coat and passes it to her. She nods her thanks and leaves the room.
He's having a good day. She watches him from a distance, laughing with Mark over something by the nurses' station. Owen looks well-rested. She wishes she could just leave him alone, let him have this happy moment. But she needs him too much.
She draws in a deep breath, squares her shoulders, and approaches them. Mark smiles sadly at her and walks away. Owen cautiously watches her.
She looks him in the eyes. "I understand if you have to say no. Will you come to the funeral with me?"
His face grows tense. But he nods. "Yes."
Derek calls them both in to assist on an emergency surgery. And they rock it. Hard. Quick thinking, nimble fingers, great teamwork. Cristina glows as they walk into the scrub room, reliving the highlights from the surgery. They laugh together as they wash their arms and hands. Unthinking, they carry the conversation down the hall and into the elevator.
Owen grows quiet as they find themselves alone.
"Why don't you come to Joe's tonight?" she says quietly.
"Are you sure?"
"Yes." She tentatively reaches out and touches his arm. "I miss you."
"I miss you too."
He shows up at Joe's and they play darts for a while, with Bailey and Callie. Neither of them drink very much, as if they don't dare get drunk and let ugly truths out.
They find themselves at a small table in a corner. And the truth comes out, but it's not ugly. He talks about his treatment openly. He answers all of her questions, and she answers his. There is a light in his blue eyes that she sees for the first time. Before she knows it, they're holding hands.
She insists that he walk her home. At her stoop, they pause, nervous and unsure. Finally she speaks.
"If you're going to be around in 40 years, I need you in my life now."
She turns and walks up the steps. He follows her.
She opens her apartment door and stares at Owen. "Did you buy out a supermarket?"
"No," he laughs, carrying in bags of groceries. "What are you doing out of bed?"
"Letting you in." She flops down on the couch, dressed in a ratty t-shirt and sweatpants. "I asked you to pick me up some orange juice and cough syrup, not supplies for a week."
"You and Callie are sick, and I know what the state of your kitchen is." He's dumped the bags on the counter and gone to the hallway for more.
"Seriously, you didn't have to get that much food. We don't have appetites."
"But I do," he says, bringing in the last bags of groceries and a duffel bag.
"What is that?"
"Oh, I brought some clothes over. I'm going to stay here for a few days and nurse you two back to health."
"You are not."
"We don't need you here."
"You do," he declares confidently, putting away the groceries. "You must have dated some real jerks before me."
"A few," she agrees. "But what makes you say that?"
"Because you have no idea of what it feels like to let someone take care of you, or how to let someone take care of you."
"I don't need anyone to take care of me," she mutters, before going into a coughing fit.
"You do this week," he says amiably. "But that's okay. Once I'm done with you, you'll see what I mean."
"I don't want to put you out," she sighs, reaching for a tissue. "I did not ask you to do this."
"You live right across the street from the hospital, so think of it as shortening my commute time," he suggests.
Callie stumbles out of her bedroom, dressed in pyjamas. She smiles to see Owen busy in the kitchen. "The Army to the rescue!"
He laughs. "What do you ladies want for lunch? I make a mean chicken soup."
"We can heat a can of soup for ourselves," Cristina coughs.
Owen makes a wounded face. "I make it from scratch. If you two are going to get healthy, you don't need that processed crap."
"I'll take homemade soup," Callie smiles. She joins Cristina on the couch. "Can we keep him?"
"You can have him," Cristina scowls. "He's decided to become our roommate until we get better."
Cristina sighs and shakes her head. Callie nudges her. "What?"
"What is wrong with you?" Callie whispers. "You've got a hot boyfriend in the kitchen, who can cook, who's willing to drop everything to take care of you, and you're acting like he's got the plague. We're the ones with the plague."
Cristina sighs. "I – I don't know."
"Well knock off the attitude before you scare him away. I want homemade soup."
Cristina manages to chuckle before going into another coughing fit.
"Want some cough syrup?" Owen calls out.
Callie moans and grabs her stomach. "Be right back." She staggers off to the bathroom while Owen brings Cristina her cough syrup and a spoon.
He sits next to her. "I'm planning on sleeping on the couch, you know," he says quietly.
Surprised, she says nothing and swallows her medicine. "This tastes horrible," she mutters. "And I wasn't worried about where you'd sleep."
"What is it then?"
She gestures at his bag and at the kitchen. "I didn't expect you to just swoop in and take over and move in."
"I'm not moving in," he says gently. "I'm staying here on a temporary basis and then I'm going back to my place. I'm still seeing Dr Wyatt regularly and I don't want to move in at this time. And as much as Callie is my friend too, I think three is a crowd long-term."
"Oh." Cristina looks down at the spoon in her hand. "Well, do you think you'll want to live together eventually?"
"Yes, but I don't know when. When it feels right, I guess." Suddenly he snaps his fingers and turns to her. "You think I'm like that guy. That I'm going to decide for the two of us when we'll live together. That's why you're being so cranky, isn't it?"
She purses her lips. "You might be right about that." He grins. "Oh, don't look so smug."
"Ha!" He laughs. "Well, Cristina Yang, all I'm going to do is sleep on the couch and cook for my girlfriend and my friend, and I'm probably going to do your laundry too, because your bedroom is a mess. Do you think you can handle that for a few days?"
She smiles. "I give up. Be our saviour and pamper us. But you don't have to sleep on the couch."
"I do. But it's mostly because I don't want to catch the plague, to be honest." He laughs and gets up, avoiding the tissue she throws at him. "Now I need to get busy in the kitchen."
"Hey Owen?" She lightly touches his leg.
"Thank you." She hands him the spoon and the cough syrup and winks at him.
"You're welcome." He winks back.