"Are you sure you're up to this?" Owen asks, as he gets settled on the couch. His left leg is propped up and encased in a cast, a souvenir of a ski trip gone wrong.
"You think I can't handle a Thanksgiving dinner?" Cristina scoffs. "Just tell me what needs to be done, and I'll do it."
"For the record, my mom did offer to prepare the dinner," he points out with a grin. "If this all goes horribly wrong, do not say that you were forced to do this."
"Thanks for the vote of confidence," she grumbles, swatting him with a throw pillow. "Your girlfriend can follow directions, you know. I don't want your mom thinking I'm useless in a kitchen."
"But you've never done anything as ambitious as Thanksgiving," he points out. "You really don't have to do this, Cristina. Let someone else take over."
"I do have to do this," she says, hands on hips. "I am Cristina Yang and I do not back down from a challenge. Now, do you have everything you need? What do you want me to start with?"
"I've got beer and the remote control. Start by stuffing the turkey."
"Okay!" Cristina goes into the kitchen area and opens the fridge. She pulls out the turkey and dumps it on the counter. Then she digs around in the cupboards until she finds a roasting pan. She puts the turkey in the pan, then pauses. She goes into the bedroom and calls Meredith for help.
"What do I stuff the turkey with?"
Meredith laughs. "You're kidding."
"What does your mother stuff the turkey with?"
"We have brisket for Thanksgiving."
"Look up something on the Internet, okay? I'm about to scrub in."
"Fine!" Cristina pulls out her laptop and starts looking up recipes, seeking something that would impress Owen and his mother. She gets distracted by a couple of YouTube videos.
"Cristina!" Owen calls for her.
"The turkey isn't going to stuff itself."
She makes a face and carries her laptop out to the kitchen. "I'm on it, don't worry!"
She picks out a simple recipe, and starts preparing the stuffing. She tears up bits of bread and adds the spices that she can easily find, making a few substitutes for the ones she can't. Then she stuffs the turkey.
"Okay, the turkey is stuffed!" Cristina calls out. "Now what?"
"Put it in the oven!"
She puts it in. "What temperature should the oven be at?"
Owen pauses before asking. "You haven't turned it on yet?"
She walks into the living room. "No. What temperature?"
"350 degrees," he snorts, pulling out his phone.
"Thank you!" She stomps back into the kitchen, annoyed.
She's not surprised when Kathy Hunt shows up half an hour later, with a pie. Much, much earlier than expected.
"Owen called you, didn't he?" Cristina asks, rolling her eyes.
"Yes," she smiles. "I'm your Thanksgiving mentor."
"Hi Mom!" Owen calls out, as they walk into the living room. Cristina mock-glares at him.
"Take this into the kitchen please," Kathy says, handing her the pie. "I'll swat him for you."
Kathy comes into the kitchen a short while later. Cristina goes over what she's done so far.
"I'll baste the turkey," Kathy offers. "Where do you keep your baster?"
"We have a baster?"
Kathy smiles patiently. "I'll find it."
Cristina sighs. "Should I just admit defeat now and leave you alone in the kitchen?"
"You'll do no such thing. I can show you how to baste."
"I bet you never had these problems with Beth," Cristina complains, leaning against a counter.
Mrs Hunt looks at her curiously. "What about Beth?"
Cristina shrugs. "Well, she did appear to be the domestic type. I bet she cooked your Thanksgiving supper and gave you hand-knit Christmas presents too."
The older woman surprises her by snorting. "Yes, she is rather domestic."
Cristina raises an eyebrow.
"Don't get me wrong," Mrs Hunt continues, "Beth is a very nice girl. The worst I can say about her is that she is vanilla. I don't like how Owen broke up with her, but between you and me, I was relieved. She wasn't right for him. He needs a woman with spice and fire in her eyes. Like you."
"Oh." Cristina relaxes slightly. She's pleased to finally be getting along with someone's mother. "Thank you. And I know a thing or two about engagements gone bad."
"Some things are not meant to be," Kathy smiles. "I liked the spa certificate that you and Owen gave me for my birthday, much better than something knitted. Am I right in guessing that you picked it out?"
Cristina smirks and nods.
Mrs Hunt pulls open a drawer. "Now, let's get working on supper."
Two hours later, Cristina comes out and flops down beside Owen, opening a bottle of beer.
"Thanks," he smiles, reaching for the bottle. "I ran out."
She pointedly drinks from the bottle, then holds it out of his reach.
"How's it going in there?" Owen chuckles.
"Good," she says, propping up her feet on the coffee table. "I'm learning lots."
"I'm sorry if you're mad I called her," Owen says. "You looked like you needed guidance. I know you Googled stuffing."
"You just don't want to starve."
"Yeah." They laugh.
"You sounded like you were having fun in there," he says, putting his arm around her shoulders.
"I like your mother," she murmurs, before taking another drink.
"And she likes you. As do I."
"You're not too bad yourself, sometimes." She turns her head for a kiss. "But you could have a little more faith in my ability to prepare a meal."
Owen smiles and is reaching into his pocket, when a timer goes off in the kitchen.
"Gotta go!" Cristina says, springing up.
"This - is interesting," Owen says, after swallowing a bite of dressing.
Cristina rolls her eyes.
"No, seriously," he smiles. "It's not the kind of stuffing Mom makes, but I like it."
"You'll have to share the recipe with me," his mother says. "I'll make it for Christmas."
"I'm not sure I can replicate it," Cristina confesses, before taking a bite for herself. "You're right, it doesn't suck."
"Maybe you can show me how to make brisket?" Kathy suggests.
"Sure, I'll get my mother to email the recipe," Cristina wisecracks.
Owen grins and eats some more stuffing.
Kathy tries to make Cristina go keep Owen company after supper, but she insists on helping with the dishes in her own home. She's enjoying Kathy's company today, after her culinary workshop. Once everything is cleaned up, Mrs Hunt leaves, thanking them for a good evening. Cristina calls Meredith and fills her in on her first attempt at preparing a Thanksgiving dinner.
Owen smiles and turns off the TV as Cristina joins him on the couch again, having finished her call.
"You don't have to turn off football for me," she says. "Or are the Seahawks losing that badly?"
"They're winning," he says.
"You can turn it back on, I don't mind."
He smiles and takes her left hand with his right. "Later."
"I'm glad your mom came over. We did have fun today."
She looks at him. He's struggling for words.
"Do you need your painkillers?"
"No," he chuckles, looking down at their joined hands. "I, uh, had an ulterior motive in getting my mom to come over so early."
He smiles at her, pulling a small velvet box out of his jeans. "So she could bring this."
"Oh." She gulps. She waits for the cold fingers of fear.
He opens the box and shows her a ring with delicate scrollwork etched on it.
"This was my grandmother's ring, and it was her grandmother's ring before," he continues, taking the ring out of the box. "I don't know a lot about rings, but I think it's beautiful. Like you."
She smiles and leans her head against his shoulder. She is not feeling fear. She is remembering just why she loves this man so much.
"I was going to do a whole big proposal thing but then I broke my leg, and decided to just do it as soon as possible."
"So you were just pretending to think I couldn't do Thanksgiving dinner?" Cristina asks.
He laughs. "I'm going to say 'yes' to that."
"Will you marry me, Cristina?"
"Yes." She extends her ring finger and he slides the ring on, then kisses her hand.
"It's a perfect fit," she says.
"Just like us." They sit there quietly, taking in the moment and grinning at each other.
"Do you want to call Meredith or your mother?" Owen asks.
"Your mother," Cristina says. "She gets the first call."
"Okay," he grins, pulling out his phone again.
She smiles as she takes it from him. "I'm going to prepare Christmas dinner this year, just so you know."
"And it will be delicious."
"I had a great teacher," she says. "I'm thankful she came over today, for many reasons." She takes a moment to admire the ring, then calls her new friend.