He's standing there, his back to me. He pretends that he's not waiting for me, acts like he can't hear my footsteps as I approach. As I reach out a hand to touch his arm, he turns his head towards me.
"I knew you'd come back to me," he smiles, eyes kind. "I knew you couldn't stay away, Cristina."
"I'm sorry," I whisper. I grab his hand. "I'm so sorry that we had to be apart, that I couldn't handle it."
"It's okay," he whispers, gathering me in his arms. I lean against him.
"I can do it now," I tell him. "I can be with you the way that you want me to be."
"Everything's going to be different now," he says into my ear. "I guarantee it."
"Okay." I close my eyes.
His hands suddenly go around my throat and squeeze. My eyes fly open and my arms flail, as I try to dislodge his grasp.
"Did you really think it would be so easy?" His brown eyes are full of anger as he shoves me down, hands still wrapped around my throat. "Did you really think that I would take you back?"
My lungs are burning as he snarls something at me, his words lost in a strange wind. Everything goes black.
There's a light flashing on and off. Cristina sits up in bed, her hands going to her throat.
She looks up and sees Owen in the doorway of her room, turning the light on and off. His face is grim.
"I'm awake," she gasps. He nods and leaves the light on.
"I heard you having the nightmare from the living room," he says, leaning against the doorjamb. "I didn't want to get close to you to wake you up. I didn't want – to scare you. Make things worse."
"Burke," she blurts out, her hands rubbing her throat.
"Burke?" He looks confused.
"It was Burke in the dream." Cristina clarifies, speaking slowly as her mind churns. "It was his eyes, brown eyes, full of fire. He was the one choking me."
Owen looks down at the floor, as his body sags.
"Please sit with me, Owen" she says quietly, putting her hands in her lap. "Just until I can go back to sleep, okay?"
He looks up quickly at her and nods. He sits on the bed and props himself up against the headboard, by her side.
"Were you sleeping or doing push-ups?" Cristina asks. "Did I wake you up?"
"I was lying on the couch after the push-ups," Owen sighs.
Cristina nods and takes a deep breath. "The day of the wedding," she says, "Mama Burke presented me with a diamond choker. Five generations of Burke women wore it on their wedding day, and I was to wear it next."
"Is this part of the dream?" Owen asks.
"No," she snorts. "Real life. In real life, I put on a very beautiful and a very tight choker, so I could become a Burke."
Owen nods, watching her carefully.
"And by the end of the day, Meredith was cutting me out of a very beautiful and very tight wedding gown, so I could be free and breathe," Cristina sighs.
Owen tentatively takes her hand. She squeezes his.
She licks her lips. "In the dream, I was submitting to him again. I was willing to do whatever it took to keep him. And he choked the life out of me."
"The submissive part is what scares me the most," Cristina says quietly. "More than the choking."
"I meant what I said," Owen says. "I'm going back to see Dr Wyatt."
"I believe you."
"I – just," he sighs. "I don't want you to have choking nightmares because you're scared of me."
"Not everything shitty in my life has been about you," she tells him. "Okay, that came out wrong. You're good for some things. A lot of things."
He looks down at their joined hands.
"Owen - about Dr Wyatt – I'll go with you if you need me to. Just tell me when."
"I'm sorry. I know you weren't fond of the sessions."
"What's important is that you're on her couch," she replies. "And I'll go because we matter. We are a team. And I'm the one who brought up me going again so I am not being submissive, got it? It's my idea."
"Got it," Owen says. "Thank you."
They sit quietly.
"I suppose you're thinking I should let Wyatt have a crack at the submissive dream stuff while we're on the couch," she quips.
"No," he says carefully. "It's up to you how you want to handle that. I have enough issues without trying to fix yours. But if you want to talk about it, I'll listen."
"Good answer." She squeezes his hand. Then she frowns. "You don't think Dr Wyatt is going to say we have to stop having sex, do you?"
Owen looks at her in surprise. "That's what you're thinking about?"
"Thirty-nine days," she shoots back. "Thirty-nine days passed between me saying "yes" and you making a start. I don't want to wait another thirty-nine days."
"I'll make a fresh start," he says. "If we have to stop, it won't be for thirty-nine days."
"Thank you." She leans her head against his shoulder. Then yawns.
"You think you can go back to sleep now?" Owen asks. "Do you want anything? Water?"
"I just want to sleep, thanks." She releases his hand and slides back down under the covers. He gets off the bed.
"Good night, Owen," she yawns, as he turns off the light.
"Good night, Cristina." He goes back to the living room.