Author's Notes: Here's the story about the story – this is an AU (alternative universe), future fic about Burke and Cristina. I'm not saying this is how it should be or anything. I don't want bitches going, "BUT OMG, Cristina and Owen are so much better!1!" I adore Cristina and Owen. But I also loved Burke and Cristina when they were together. So, I made this.
I'm in this. I'm in this for the long haul. I'm in this to finish the race.
"Dr. Yang is our head cardiothoracic attending."
Three years after first hearing those words, she usually never got the same pang of achievement running through her veins as she did the in the first few months after getting the job. On occasion, she did feel a slight surge of achievement upon hearing them, especially if she had recently thought about her long road to this point; but, most of the time, hearing that introduction was just life as usual.
Cristina Yang was the Head of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Seattle Grace Hospital.
She hadn't thought about all the years it took her to get there as a whole since the day she had been called into the Chief's office and told that she was getting the job, that nobody else could be thought of, inside or outside the hospital, that would do better than her. The day she had expected a long speech about the grave responsibility of the job, the requirements, the endless expectations, but had only been told that there wasn't a doctor in the hospital who didn't know how long and hard she had been working for this, that there was nothing that could be said about the job that Cristina hadn't already thought about thousands of times. The day when she wandered off to a secluded stairwell and sat for three hours, processing not only what had just happened, but also everything else from the first time she stepped foot into that hospital.
The day when they had one of the their biggest celebrations at Joe's in ages, which also resulted in one of her worst hangovers in ages.
It was also her last hangover since. For the past three years, she had worked almost as much as she had as an intern. Her never-changing essence of her fierce determination, her all-empowering will, made her feel as though she had to stop at nothing to prove herself, and even though her skills were top-notch, she was terrified, even slightly paranoid, of something inexplicably going wrong, which resulted in her reading every cardio journal she could find, over-scheduling herself with surgeries. Though basically everyone in her life caught this over-immersion in her work right at the start and urged her to slow down, she did only slightly, and had been traveling consistently on the line between just enough and too much ever since.
Her friends left it at that. They knew it was just the Cristina way.
Ten minutes prior, a cretin who had once been her intern (number two) told Cristina that the Chief had asked to see her.
"Bailey...? What's this about?"
"You know I don't ask many things of you. You are a brilliant heart surgeon, I let you do your thing, and... it's all good. But, you see, there is something I need you to do now. You are probably not going to want to do it. You'll probably say no to me several times. But, you WILL do this for me. You will do this because I am asking you to, you will do this because you were once my intern, and did a lot of things I asked you not to do, and didn't do the things I asked you to do. Which, in retrospect, is fine, because that is what interns do. But now it's time to make up for your time as a smart-ass intern. You will do this, you understand?"
In one short speech, Cristina had been transformed back into an intern again, getting a lecture from Bailey after someone had done something stupid and she got dragged in for the blame, occasionally after she herself had done something stupid, and she just couldn't admit it.
There was something slightly different though. Despite the definiteness of Bailey's words, despite the fact that she was basically demanding that Cristina do this, there was a strong undertone of slight desperateness, like Bailey really was asking her to do this.
"Um... ok. What is this thing that you want me to do?"
Bailey paused, still staring at Cristina. She had worked so hard on her speech to her, making it so Cristina could not and would not say no, she hadn't decided exactly how she was going to tell Cristina what it was.
Cristina stared back at Bailey, confused look on her face. Very rarely had she seen Bailey stumbling, at a loss for words, like this, since she became Chief.
"Just.. ok. Just come with me," Bailey said as she raced to the door of her office.
Cristina, bewildered but still functioning, followed.
Bailey sped down the hall, to the patient's rooms. Cristina stayed as close behind her as she could. Bailey started to slow down as she approached a certain room, a resident and her interns already inside, the resident picking an intern to present.
The blinds were partly open. A deformity case, where the cardiac system was compromised, maybe? Cristina looked through the blinds as she got closer to the room.
"Alright, Jones, present the patient."
What she saw stopped her in her tracks, made her stomach drop, and shocked her more than any deformity case ever could.
The intern began. "Preston-"
His name tumbled out of her mouth as her world flipped, yet again.
tbc, within the next day or two