The waiting room is almost empty. Stunned and silent, Cristina sits and stares at her small, blood-spattered hands. The nurses had tried to wash them but she fought back.
A hospital volunteer was assigned to sit with her, since she is only nine years old. He gave up trying to make small talk 30 minutes ago. He's reading a magazine. She sits next to him, stony-faced.
"Cristina!" She looks up to see her mother rushing towards her, Saul close behind. Helen gathers her up in her arms, smelling of perfume and cigarette smoke.
"My poor darling," Helen croons, cradling her face in her hands. "We left the reception as soon as we heard the news, from the police. I'm so sorry you had to wait here by yourself. We drove back to LA as fast as possible. I'm so sorry about your father."
"We're so sorry," Saul adds.
Cristina buries her face against her mother's stomach. She decides that she will not permit herself to cry. She decides that she will not say a word.
Cristina curls up in the bottom bunk of the on call room, smiling. "I like the back of your neck". She lies her head down on the pillow, still warm from Owen's body heat. She grins, remembering how she found him - sleeping bare-chested. That was a nice sight, and she wants more. Much more. Like what she saw after she got him out of the shower. Only without him passing out. Not until she's done with him.
Maybe tonight, she thinks to herself. Maybe tonight we'll just stop this slow dance and go for it.
She closes her eyes. His words continue to play in her head and she rubs the back of her neck. Shaking her head, she sits up. There's no way I can sleep with this much sex on the brain.
She wakes up early in the morning, as the sun's rays move into their hotel room. Cristina stumbles out of the bed and closes the curtains. She turns and looks at the bed, where Owen is sprawled under a sheet, wearing nothing but a shiny new wedding band.
She grins and slides under the sheet to curl up against Owen, reveling in the sensation of his bare skin against hers. The child in her womb flutters slightly, as his arm goes around her.
"Morning, you," he mumbles against her ear. His hand slides down to caress her stomach. "Morning, McBaby."
She rolls over, opening her mouth to whisper a greeting. He claims it hungrily, stopping her words with his tongue.
For the fifth time that morning, Cristina creeps into the nursery. She looks into the crib, at the sleeping infant within. Chloe is lying there peacefully, her small mouth twitching. Cristina gently touches Chloe's little hands, then steps back. She has so much to do, now that she's finally off bed rest and at home. But the only place she wants to be is here.
As the principal talks, Owen keeps looking at Cristina, who is strangely quiet. She's hardly shy when it comes to their daughters' education.
"Dr Hunt?" Chloe's teacher looks at him expectantly.
"Ah, yes," he says. "We agree with what you've said - I think Chloe can handle skipping a grade. Cristina?"
She merely nods with a pleased smile.
"Then it's settled," the principal says. "We'll get her room changed tomorrow morning."
"Thank you," Owen says, standing up. They shake hands and leave.
Owen stares at Cristina while they wait for the elevator.
"Why are you so quiet?" Owen asks. "You didn't say a word!"
She turns to him with a bright, flashing smile.
"You're bursting with so much pride that you can't speak?" Owen chuckles.
She nods vigorously.
He smirks. "You're happy that other people see that our daughter is a genius?"
She beams and holds up her hand.
"Gotcha," he laughs, high-fiving her.
Cristina frowns at her person, as Meredith beckons her towards a curtained off area in the clinic. A police officer is seated outside the curtains, typing on a tablet.
Cristina steps through the curtains - and stares at her younger daughter, whose arms are bandaged. She feels the curtains close behind her.
"I'm sorry," Mallory sobs, sitting up on the bed. "My friends made me do it."
Cristina continues to stare at her.
"We - we went trespassing and there were these guard dogs and we thought we could outrun them only I couldn't and I started coughing with my asthma and they bit me," Mallory wails, continuing to cry.
Many words flash through Cristina's brain. She's seventeen. She's an idiot. She's seventeen years old. I'm going to kill her friends.
"Say something, Mom," Mallory coughs, watching her nervously.
Cristina looks at her youngest daughter. At her runny nose, her frightened brown eyes, her tangled red hair. At the little cuts and scrapes on her hands and face. Cristina notes that Mallory's asthma is not under control, she's wheezing and she can't stop coughing. She turns off her pager and walks over to Mallory, pulling her into her arms.
Cristina sits in the waiting room, stunned and silent, surrounded by friends and family.
"He'll be okay," Mallory says, laying her head against her mother's shoulder. "It's a good thing he was near the hospital when it happened, right?"
Cristina nods, almost imperceptibly.
"The first three hours following a stroke are crucial," Meredith says in her professional voice. "Derek was waiting for him when they brought him in. They found the clot right away. He got started on the heparin as soon as possible."
Cristina looks down at her small hands, in her lap. She can't look at anyone - their tears make her want to cry, and she mustn't. She feels she must remain strong. As if somehow Owen can feel her strength, use her strength. Crying would make her weak, and he needs her to be strong.
Her eyes move to the small, red-haired toddler at her feet, innocently playing with a train. Darren Shepherd looks up and sees her watching him. "Gammie," he smiles, lifting up his arms. Cristina reaches down and picks him up. He nestles against her chest. She runs her fingers through his wavy red hair.
Mallory checks her phone. "Chloe got a flight. She's on her way to the airport now."
"There's still no word from Diego," Rob says, looking at his own phone. "I'll keep trying. Eventually he'll be in an area with cell phone service."
"It hasn't been that long," Mallory says, watching her mother hold her son. "By the time he gets out of the jungle, Dad will be fine."
They all look up, as Derek approaches, pulling off his scrub cap. Cristina tries not to look at his blood-splattered shoes, telling herself the blood must have come from another patient.
"It went well," Derek tells her. "The blood thinner is taking effect and he's already looking better. Come with me."
Cristina stands up and hands Darren to Rob, then briskly follows Derek through the corridors, to where her husband is lying in a bed, paler than she's ever seen him. Mallory gasps behind her.
Cristina goes straight to Owen, stroking his face with her hands. He opens his eyes and looks directly at her. Professionally, she notes that both of his pupils focus on her. His hands shakily reach for hers.
She leans her forehead against his, as tears start to stream down her face.
"You can't leave me now," Cristina whispers hoarsely. "Not yet. We're not done."