Owen looks up from his computer, smiling to see Cristina standing with Mallory in the doorway of his small office.
"This is a nice surprise," he says, as she puts down Mallory's car seat. "What brings you by?"
"Just finalizing the details of me coming back to work next month." She straps Mallory in.
"Come here, you." He tugs Cristina onto his lap. "I've been thinking. About this not having a third child thing."
She raises an eyebrow. "Oh? My mind is made up."
"Hear me out," he asks her. "I always saw myself with a lot of kids, you know. It's a hard fantasy to let go of."
"I'm listening." She leans her head against his chest.
"But I never saw myself becoming a father as late in life as I did."
"You're not old," she assures him.
"Not yet. But I will be. And I'm already tired, with two kids." He takes in a deep breath. "Maybe I can let go of the number of kids I wanted to have. Maybe some day we'll want to adopt. Maybe I can spare you the stress of another pregnancy. Maybe I can do my part to make sure we don't have another surprise baby, as lovely as Mallory is."
"What, make sure I'm on birth control? Believe me, I've got that covered."
"I was thinking something more permanent than that," he says. "Something I could get done."
"You mean - a vasectomy? The snip-snip?" She lifts her head to look at him.
"I spoke with a urologist this morning. It's something to think about. You could go off birth control for life."
She tilts her head. "I think - I like the idea. You'd do that for me?"
"That's kind of hot, you wanting to take responsibility like that," she muses. "You're getting lucky tonight."
He chuckles. "Well, let's think about it. Okay?"
"Okay." She kisses him. "How many kids did you see yourself with?"
"Oh hell no."
"Wake up Cristina, it's Christmas."
"Leave me alone." Cristina pulls the blankets over her head. She feels a weight moving next to her head.
"Mommy wake up!" A small hand grabs her hair.
"I'm awake!" She pulls back the blankets and mock-glares at Chloe, sitting next to her.
"Hi," Chloe says, pleased with herself. Her brown eyes are dancing with excitement.
Cristina arches an eyebrow at Owen, standing beside the bed, laughing while he holds a squirming Mallory.
"When are we going to stop this tradition?" She yawns, stretching. "When can I sleep in again on Christmas morning?"
"When the girls are teenagers and too cool to open presents with their parents."
"I can." He grins at her, sitting down with Mallory. "I think she's hungry – do you want to feed her first?"
"Hand her over." Mallory latches on quickly and starts suckling. She looks up at Cristina with grateful brown eyes and kicks her feet. Chloe smiles, and strokes her sister's wild red hair as she nurses.
"My baby," Chloe says proudly.
Cristina chuckles, then looks at all of them, piled onto one bed in their pyjamas. Chloe has pigtails and is wearing her favourite pink pyjamas, that she will outgrow soon. Owen is rumpled and a little bleary-eyed and totally sexy. Cristina sighs, looking down at the little spitfire sucking away. A part of her is sad that she'll have to wean Mallory soon. But she can't be a Cardio Goddess and drip breast milk at the same time.
"Tell me I'm hardcore," she says.
"You are hardcore, Cristina Yang," Owen says, moving so he can sit next to her, pulling Chloe onto his lap. "You hold hearts and you heal them and you are the hottest Cardio Goddess I know. We have two bad ass kids thanks to you."
"Indeed." They laugh.
She looks at him, as he sits there, his eyes far away. "What's on your mind, Owen?"
"I was thinking of one of my lowest moments," he says, his eyes focusing on hers.
"Oh?" Cristina reaches out and takes his hand.
"When you said you were afraid to fall asleep in my arms," he whispers. "And I knew then that I couldn't continue any more without help. And I knew you weren't going to be with me any more."
"It was temporary," she reminds him. "This is permanent."
"This is good," he smiles. "And just think. There's more to come. We've got potty training and Brownies and homework in the future."
"And we're going to have two teenage girls with pimples and braces and boyfriends and hormones at the same time," Cristina sighs.
"No boyfriends." Owen grins. "Not until they've finished their residencies."
"Have you met any teenage girls?" Cristina laughs. "I hate to tell you, but Robbie Shepherd is going to be a McHottie, with those blue eyes and that black hair."
"Don't go there," Owen groans.
"So what's next?"
"We're going to open Christmas presents," Owen smiles. "And then we'll see."
Author's note: Thank you very much for the encouragement as I've been posting this story. I started writing this in August (and finished revising it an hour ago) and I'm glad that it has been so well-received this far. And yes, I'm already writing more follow-ups. :-)