Cristina bursts into Owen's office, where he's quietly sitting, looking at a piece of paper.
"What the hell happened today?" Cristina demands. "I just got out of surgery and heard you froze during an operation and Derek tried to get you fired?"
"Something like that," Owen says softly. "You're going to want to sit down for this."
Cristina pulls up a chair, watching him carefully.
"I got triggered right before surgery," Owen says. "I didn't realize it - something about the way one of the interns dumped a tray of instruments. And then I froze during an appendectomy. I forgot where I was."
She sighs. "That hasn't happened in years."
He nods. "I wasn't operating at the time, the patient was safe. But one of the hospital board members happened to be in the galley, touring with Derek. Bailey realized what had happened and got my attention, but it was too late."
"This is not fair-"
Owen holds up a hand. "So an hour ago, I got called into a conference room with Derek, HR, a hospital lawyer and whatever board members they could round up."
"They offered me an early retirement package." Owen holds up the letter in his hand. "It's very generous."
"It's crap," she says. "We'll call our lawyer and fight this."
"What?" She looks at him closely. "They can't do this to you, Owen. You've kept the Trauma department going for decades. You deserve better."
He looks down at his hands. "I thought they were going to fire me. I was prepared to fight it. Even though I knew I could have botched the operation. But when they offered me a way out - it was a - relief."
She tilts her head.
"I thought to myself, 'no more looking at dead people'." Owen looks up at her, quickly. "And that felt like a gift. It was – surprising."
"Owen...." She exhales softly.
"I think I've had enough of death," he continues quietly. "I've seen enough people die in front of me."
She looks at him carefully. At the white streaks in his hair and beard, the many fine lines around his eyes and mouth. His blue eyes regard her calmly. She realizes that he's already made his decision, and is at peace with it.
"May I?" Cristina asks, gesturing to the letter. He hands it to her. She reads it quickly.
"This is generous," she whistles. "I'd say they regard your time with the hospital very highly. I bet Derek had something to do with this."
He smiles gently.
"It's not like we'd ever hurt for money, but this is indeed a very fine offer," Cristina says. "Although I hope you don't think that I'm going to take early retirement with you."
Owen laughs. "Hell, no. You're not ready to put down the scalpel yet."
"Smart man." She stands and moves behind him, rubbing his temples. "Yes, you've seen enough death. More than your fair share. You're ready to leave Seattle Grace."
"So you're okay with this?"
"If you're happy I'm happy." Her hands move to massage his shoulders. "What will you do next?"
"Maybe I'll buy a motorcycle," he laughs. "I don't know. I'll think of something. I'll have more time for the vet centre. And the grandchildren we'll have soon."
"They will be spoiled," she smiles. "Our kids are going to hate you."
"No they won't, they're spoiled too."
He sighs and gestures to his office. "It will be strange not coming in here every day. But I think it's time to move on."