The sound of the vacuum cleaner wakes Cristina up. She yawns as she slowly makes her way downstairs. Her younger daughter is vacuuming the living room, with an almost maniacal fervor.
"What are you doing?" Cristina stares.
"Vacuuming," Mallory replies impatiently.
"You? Cleaning? Are you nesting already?" Cristina smirks. "You just found out you were pregnant yesterday."
"With twins!" Frustrated, Mallory turns off the machine and picks up the printout of her ultrasound. "Look at this! Me! Twins! Why?!" She flops down on the couch.
"Apparently you didn't stock up on condoms."
Furious, Mallory points a finger at her. "Not now, Mom."
"Where is everyone?"
"They went for a run. Apparently I was at category 3 while making breakfast and they felt the need to escape."
"Ah." Cristina sits down next to her daughter. "Why are you here? Why aren't you at the malls snapping up bargains?"
Mallory's eyes bug out. "There's no point in buying clothes for me now because I'm going to gain weight. It's too early to buy maternity clothes. It's too early to buy baby things when I don't know if I'm having boys or girls or one of each."
"Must you go by pink or blue?" Cristina sighs. "I thought I brought you up better than that."
"Don't start with me!" Mallory shrieks. "Even if I did want to buy pink or blue stuff we need to save money. Rob and I stayed up late talking about it. I'll have to quit my job because we can't afford day care for twins. Twins. While he's going to be busy as an intern, I'm going to be dealing with twins!"
"Green and yellow are nice colors," her mother says. "That's what I used."
"They'd better be cute," Mallory grumbles, looking at the ultrasound again. "They'd better sleep through the night right away and figure out potty training when they're like a year old."
Her mother chuckles. "It's like you've never met a baby before." Her expression softens. "Of course they'll be cute. I'll be watching for signs of precocious genius, but I'll think they're adorable."
"I can't believe this is happening," the young woman sighs. "Twins. Twins! Me! Having twins!"
"Nobody is ever really ready," Cristina muses. "I'm a double doctor and was astonished at what I didn't know about pregnancy and babies."
"Pregnancy was both harder and ... nicer ... than what I expected."
Cristina stood in the master bedroom of the new house, and looked at her reflection in a full-length mirror. Her hands moved to her swollen belly. The baby was resting, for once.
She looked tired. Somehow, she'd thought second trimesters were supposed to be the fun months, comparatively speaking. Not for her. After a relatively quiet, first trimester, she now had heartburn and gas, among other unpleasant symptoms.
Her fingers slowly traced circles on her stomach. As unpleasant as pregnancy could be ... she also found it empowering. It had been her idea to conceive this child and it had been a struggle to do so. It felt triumphant, to be growing an entire human being.
And the science of pregnancy was fascinating. She devoured medical journals and stayed up late reading stories on the Internet and peppered her OB/GYN with constant questions. She was determined to know as much as she could about her body and the life kindling within.
A smile caressed her lips. There was more to the pregnancy than just the biological part. She was getting to know her baby, through its movements. It pleased her that the baby always seemed the most active when she was standing in an OR.
She stepped back and peered around the moving boxes, to look at Owen, sleeping in their bed. He'd done all of the work of packing, so she was letting him rest.
Her hands went to her stomach again. Somehow, it gave her a rush to know that their DNA had joined together to create a new life. She hoped it would have red hair.
"Aw." Mallory grins and twirls a lock of red hair around her finger. "Rob says he wants us to keep having babies until we have a redhead. So not happening."
"When men can sprout a uterus, they can have all the babies they want."
"I do want the twins," her daughter says softly. "I just also want to know how we're going to make this work."
"Do you want to talk money now? You know that we won't let you starve or go homeless."
"No." Mallory leans her head against her mother's shoulder. "Tell me a story," she requests. "Tell me how the double doctor didn't know how to be a mom."
"C'mon Chloe, stop crying." Cristina held her baby close, as she paced back and forth in the nursery. "You're dry. You're fed. You're exhausted but you won't go to sleep because you won't stop crying. If you would just stop crying, you'd go to sleep and feel so much better."
Chloe continued to howl and Cristina continued to pace, speaking aloud. "I tried the vacuum cleaner but that didn't help so it can't be colic. You don't have a fever. You tugged on your ears and I checked them and they're clean, no sign of infection. Your throat looks good, your lungs are clear and your bowels are moving. Physically, there is nothing wrong with you that a good night's sleep won't fix."
Her eyes flickered to the clock. "Daddy is working the graveyard shift and can't come home. Auntie Meredith is busy with her own kids, I can't call her at 4 friggin' o'clock in the morning. I can't call anyone. I'm Cristina Yang, I'm a brilliant doctor, and I don't know how to make you stop crying."
"I actually felt sorry for Chloe sometimes," Cristina admits. "She had me as a mother. Here was this innocent little baby, who had a newbie taking care of her."
"When Daddy gets home, he'll know what to do. He's a good father, you hit the jackpot with him. You're such a daddy's girl. I'm not jealous, I'm really not. You know which of us is the good parent."
"Drama queen much?" Mallory grins.
"I was exhausted." Cristina smirks. "But you can't deny that both of you are daddy's girls."
"Totally. So what was wrong with Chloe?"
Tired of pacing around the nursery, Cristina left the room and walked downstairs. "I can't find anything wrong with you with the instruments I have." Her shoulders sagged. "Should I take you into the hospital? Do you need an x-ray? An ultrasound?"
Fear crept into her veins, as she started to imagine all of the things that could be wrong with Chloe. Twisted intestines. A brain tumor. Some horrible disease that hadn't been discovered yet and therefore had no cure. "I'm tired, I'm frustrated, my mind is going to a very dark and twisted place."
Chloe tugged at an ear again. "I'm going to check your ears and throat one more time." Cristina carried her upstairs and placed Chloe on her changing table. She put on plastic gloves, angled the reading lamp and tried to get Chloe to keep her head still.
"Your throat still looks good." Cristina looked at her baby's open mouth and frowned. She saw that Chloe's lower gums were swollen in the front. She tentatively probed the inflamed area, causing Chloe to screech.
"You're teething!" Relieved, she grinned from ear-to-ear. "Oh Chloe, that's easy. I've been preparing for this – I know what to do!"
"Teething!" Mallory snorts. "Harper Avery award winner Dr Cristina Yang was thwarted by teething!"
"I kept looking at her throat, not her gums."
Two hours later, Owen found them curled up in their bed. Chloe was snuggled against Cristina, sleeping. Cristina blinked her eyes as she woke up. "Hey."
"Hey." He sat down on the bed and picked up a soggy waffle. "What's this?"
"Our girl is sprouting teeth," she yawned. "I didn't know where the teething rings are, so I gave her a frozen waffle to gnaw on. It made her very, very happy."
He chuckled. "I think I know where I stored the rings, I'll put some in the fridge."
"I didn't think she'd teethe so early," Cristina murmured, lightly touching Chloe's hair. "She's exceptional."
"And she's lucky to have a resourceful mother," Owen smiled.
"Did you tell Dad that you freaked out over teething?"
Cristina laughs. "No."
"What if the twins are born early? Were you worried about me? Being a preemie?"
"Definitely. There was so much that could go wrong and there were complications. Your lungs weren't fully developed. You had stage two retinopathy of prematurity, but fortunately you didn't get so bad as to need surgery. After your feeding tube, we had to work with an occupational therapist to get you to take a bottle and breastfeed."
"You're a feisty one, aren't you?" Cristina smiled, settling into her chair as Mallory nursed. This redhaired daughter of hers was demanding and stubborn and difficult, just like her. "That's good. Nothing will ever stop you from getting what you want. And I'll be right behind you. I'll get you the best education possible, and if necessary, I'll help you hide the bodies of your enemies. You're my girl."
"Aw." Mallory smiles. "You would help me hide bodies."
"How did Chloe react when I was born?"
"Well, she didn't quite understand at first. It was hard for her when I had to stay in the hospital after your birth, but we had friends and family who brought her in for lots of visits. While you were in the NICU, she got to spend some weekends with the Shepherds and they kept her busy. When you finally came home, she'd seen you many times and was used to the idea of you."
"Tell me another story. Tell me about me and Chloe."
Cristina held baby Mallory, as she looked in the fridge and spoke to Chloe. "Daddy left us some mac and cheese, do you want that for supper?"
"No." The toddler tugged on her leg. "When Daddy coming back?"
"Tomorrow." Cristina smiled down at her. "We'll go to the airport tomorrow night and pick him up after his conference. He's bringing us presents."
Mallory burped and then spit up milk, soaking her outfit. She began to whimper.
"Oh, Mal." Cristina grabbed a dishcloth and mopped up the mess. "I'm going to pop you into a bath. We don't want Daddy to come home and find a stinky baby."
"Bath?" Chloe looked hopeful. "I wanna bath."
"You can have a bath too, after supper." Rocking Mallory, Cristina sighed. "What do you want to eat?"
Cristina looked at her and then the baby. "Do … you want to take a bath with Mallory? Before supper?"
Chloe jumped up and down, excited. "I wanna bath!"
"Okay!" Cristina led Chloe upstairs into the family bathroom. She placed Mallory down on the bathmat and started running the water. Mallory gurgled and reached up towards Chloe.
"Look, Mallory knows who you are," Cristina said. "She likes you."
"She likes me?" Chloe moved closer and let Mallory grab her hands.
"Yes, she does. She's old enough to recognize people and she likes seeing us. See how she's smiling at you?"
Chloe dimpled. "Nice baby."
"Bubbles?" Chloe looked hopefully at the tub. "Pwease?"
"Sure!" Cristina poured some bubble liquid into the water, then turned and helped Chloe get naked. Carefully, she helped her into the tub.
"Your turn." Cristina undressed Mallory, then very gently, placed her in the tub too. "Look at you, having your first big girl bath. With your sister."
The redhaired girl giggled as she tried to grab the bubbles with her tiny hands.
Cristina pulled up a small stool to sit on, and kept a protective hand on Mallory's back. Chloe moved closer to her sister, laughing. Happy, Mallory reached for Chloe's face. Chloe smiled and let her sister pat her cheeks.
"She's using her hands to get to know you better," Cristina observed. She smiled, watching Mallory examine the bubbles. Her preemie baby was thriving, and doing so well.
Laughing, Mallory flung up her arms, and started to tip backwards. Cristina held onto her until she was sure her daughter could sit up by herself again.
Chloe scooped up a handful of bubbles and placed them on the top of Mallory's head. "She's a pwincess." She looked up at Cristina. "I wanna watch Brave after my bath."
"How about tomorrow night before we go get Daddy?"
"Okay." Smiling, Chloe leaned forward and gently kissed Mallory's forehead. Biting her lip, Cristina drank in the scene. She knew that in the future, there would be fighting and discord. But right now, her two daughters were at peace with each other.
"Cute!" Mallory grins. "Diego told me that Papa Bear has picked out a potential suitor for Chloe. I saw 'the boy next door' yesterday. He's yummy."
"Isn't he? Now we just need to get Chloe to meet him."
"I hope it works out. Because you and I both know that she has an exceptional talent for dating the wrong guys. Clearly, she needs help."
Her mother chuckles. "You'd think she could've found one nice guy at Harvard. But no, she finds the assholes, everytime."
They look up as the front door opens, and their family spills in, laughing.
"Hey grouch." Diego waves at Mallory. "What's the storm warning?"
"I'm fine," his sister grins. "Mom's been preparing me for motherhood by telling me what a horrible mother she was."
"Did I say horrible?" Cristina protests. "I said I was a newbie."
"We were both new to the jobs," Owen grins, before bending over and kissing his wife. "Did you have breakfast yet?"
"Nope. You can make me some."
"As you wish."
Rob flops down across from Mallory. "Your dad made me run."
"I see you lived."
Chloe sits down across from Cristina and Mallory. "Do I want to know what stories she's been telling?"
"Nothing that embarrasses you – yet," Cristina teases. "I'm preparing Mallory to be less than perfect as a parent."
Cristina bounded up the steps of Seattle's finest private school, while Chloe followed, more slowly. "Okay, pose in front of the door." Cristina pointed to where she wanted Chloe to stand, as she pulled out her camera. Meekly, Chloe obeyed, tugging at the collar of her new uniform shirt. "Say 'surgery'!"
Chloe briefly smiled for the camera. "I wish Daddy and Mallory were here."
"Dad got called into surgery and Mallory would just get in the way," Cristina said. "Today is your day, your first day of kindergarten. I've been looking forward to this for years!" Briskly, she stood up and opened the door. "Come on!" She marched through it as Chloe struggled to keep up. They went to Chloe's classroom.
"Here we are!" Cristina smiled proudly. "We've picked out the best school with the best teacher. Chloe, you are on your way!" She glanced at her older daughter … and was startled to see her looking miserable.
"What's wrong?" Cristina crouched by her and placed a hand on her forehead. "You're not sick, are you? How does your stomach feel?"
Tears pooled in Chloe's brown eyes. "What if nobody likes me?"
Speechless, Cristina stared at her.
"Why can't I go to JoJo's school?" Chloe whimpered. "Why do I have to go to this one?"
Cristina reached out and touched her face, stumbling for words. "Because this is the best school, that's why."
"I don't know anyone here," Chloe sobbed. "I don't like this school."
" … But you liked it when we were here last week … you liked meeting your teacher …"
Chloe shook her head. "I want to go to JoJo's school!"
Shocked, Cristina looked at her daughter as if seeing her for the first time. "Don't you want the best …?" Mentally, she began to chide herself. In her determination to provide a superior education for her daughter, she'd forgotten that she was dealing with a five year old. With wants and needs separate from her own.
"I'm sorry … this school is … they teach in an interactive way to make learning fun! You get to be in smaller classes … so it will be easier to spend time with your classmates and your teacher … you like to learn ..." Cristina gently wiped the tears off of Chloe's face. "We think this school will match your style of learning best..."
Chloe nodded, still looking miserable.
"Hey …" Cristina pointed to a little boy sitting at a table. "There's someone by himself. Maybe we could go over, maybe he'd like it if you talked with him?"
Chloe sniffled and shrugged. She allowed Cristina to guide her over to the table and make introductions with the other student, whose name was Ahmed. Cristina stepped out into the hall to allow the children to talk. She quickly pulled out her phone and called Meredith.
"Mer, I have a parental emergency. Chloe is upset that she's not going to JoJo's school."
"JoJo is crying because she isn't going to Chloe's school." The two women laughed.
"You know what the answer is," Meredith said. "Transfer Chloe to our school."
"Oh hell no. This school is much better then yours."
"It's too far away! We'd be spending forever in traffic."
Cristina smirked. "Be honest. They wouldn't accept JoJo as a student, right?"
Meredith gasped. "Cristina!" Sounds of wailing could be heard in the background. "Look, I have to go. Call me later."
"Okay." Cristina put her phone away and stepped back into the classroom. She sighed at Chloe's unhappy expression.
"Rough start?" The kindergarten teacher approached Cristina. "The first day can be really hard."
"Chloe's favorite color is pink," Cristina said in a rush. "She loves the beach and puppies and model trains. She likes to draw but what she really loves is building things, or taking things apart to see how they work. She prefers everything to be in its place, she helps her father clean up and her room is always tidy. She pretends she can't stand her little sister but she loves her."
The teacher smiled patiently.
"She's very special," Cristina informed her. "She's upset because her best friend is going to another school, which isn't as good as this one. She can be shy and sometimes needs a little coaxing, but when she's doing something she loves, she lights up and can't stop talking about it."
"I'll take very good care of her."
Cristina nodded. "I told her she might not want to boast about how well she can read."
"Dr Yang, everyone in this class can already -" Seeing Cristina's expression change, the teacher stood straighter. "I'll make sure she doesn't ostracize herself with her advanced skills."
"Thank you." Cristina walked over to the table, where Chloe was already giggling with her new friend. "Chloe, I cleared my schedule for today, I could stick around if you like ..."
"No, I'll be fine. I'm playing with Ahmed." Chloe turned her attention back to her classmate.
"Are you sure?" She crouched down next to the small table. "It's really not a problem."
"Mom!" Chloe pouted. "I'm not a baby."
Cristina grinned. "I know. You're my big girl. Can I get a hug before I go?"
Smiling, Chloe briefly flung her small arms around her mother's neck. "Bye Mommy."
"I'll pick you up in a few hours." Reluctantly, she stood and walked to the door of the classroom. Cristina allowed herself one last proud glance at her daughter, before leaving.
"Ahmed!" Chloe grins. "He was my best friend in that school. Mom was so proud of me for defying gender stereotypes."
"And thus Chloe was on the road to academic glory," Cristina beams. "And this spring – she'll graduate from Harvard Medical School. Summa cum laude."
"And then her internship – not that she'll tell anybody where she's applied or what she thinks her specialty will be." Owen hands Cristina a mug of coffee and places a plate in front of her.
Chloe rolls her eyes. "Because I don't want you two working your networks and pulling strings to get me preferential treatment."
"We're just curious," her father protests, settling down beside Cristina. "And once you start working, you'll want every advantage you have to rise above your fellow interns."
"Well maybe if you two will lay off, maybe my Christmas present to you will be telling you what I think my specialty will be," Chloe smirks. She stands up and heads for the stairs. "Time for my shower."
"Tell me another story," Mallory requests of Cristina. "What was it like when you decided to adopt Diego?"
"Quite a few people thought we were crazy..."
Alex Karev found Cristina in the NICU, sitting with a small baby who was sucking his thumb vigorously.
"Hey." He waved. "I have some free time before I go back to Florida. Meredith said you have news you wanted to share?"
"Hey." Cristina smiled at the baby in her arms. "I want you to meet Diego. He was abandoned under the Safe Haven law. HIV+. And until yesterday, he was one of my patients. He's recovered from surgery to repair ventricular septal defects."
"You want me to examine him?"
She shook her head. "Owen and I filed applications this morning ... to foster and adopt him."
Surprised, Alex sat down. "Wow."
"I know." She shrugged happily. "He's a charmer."
He looked at the brown-skinned boy with dark eyes and hair. "He's cute. But ... three kids? You?"
Cristina smiled quietly. "We decided we could make room for one more."
"Three kids?" Alex grinned. "You?!"
"Shut up." She looked up at him. "When are you going to produce some evil spawn?"
He looked away briefly. "That's not in my cards."
"Well, children aren't for everyone," Cristina acknowledged. "But they're also not the worst thing in the world."
"But ... you? Three kids?"
"My girls are exceptional. It's a privilege to be raising two future superwomen." Cristina grinned. "And we think this little guy has a lot of potential too. Maybe we also want to help him beat the odds and grow up to also be exceptional."
She smiled at Diego. "Maybe we thought our family was complete, until we really seriously considered adopting him and then we realized that he belongs with us and it would be impossible not to bring him home."
Alex smirked and held out his arms. "Let me hold him."
She gently transferred Diego into Alex's arms.
"Hey kid." He grinned at the boy, who looked up at him curiously. "You're a lucky fellow. That lady there can be really mean, but she's a good mom. She's going to yell at you but she's also going to push you to do your best and you're going to grow up awesome."
Cristina smiled wistfully, as she watched Alex. She wondered if he had any idea of what a good father he would be.
"Why hasn't Alex had any kids?" Rob says. "He's great with them."
"Alex ... had to assume a lot of responsibility at a young age," Cristina carefully replies. "I think he just likes to be unfettered."
"That's too bad." Rob nudges Mallory's knee. "Hey, next time one of us talks to JoJo, we should ask her how Alex is doing. They keep in touch, right?"
"Right." Mallory sits up straighter and looks away.
Cristina raises an eyebrow but says nothing, not with Rob in the room. "You know, Mallory had ... lots of feelings about Diego after we brought him home."
Mallory's eyes narrowed as she took in the scene in the living room. Grandma Hunt was bouncing Diego on her knee, trying to get him to stop crying. Her father picked up scattered toys, while her mother stood by, holding a freshly warmed bottle.
"Can someone help me with my homework?" She yelled over Diego's cries.
"In a minute," Cristina muttered, never taking her eyes off of Diego.
"I want help now!"
"I'm sorry, but we're busy," Owen frowned. "You can wait. Five minutes."
She stamped a tiny foot. "Send him back!"
Her parents exchanged a glance, accustomed to her constantly changing feelings about her new little brother.
"You liked him this morning when he smiled at you," Owen reminded her.
"I don't like him now," she grumbled. "I never want to see him again."
"What do you want us to do?" Cristina asked her. "Do you want us to call the social worker and tell her to come get him?"
"Tell her to come get him now!" She stamped her feet again.
"Are you really sure that's what you want?" Owen looked amused.
"Yes," she said firmly. "I'm neglected!"
Her parents chuckled, which just infuriated her further. "I want him gone!"
"Okay." Impulsively, Cristina pulled out her phone and dialled Meredith. "Hello Social Services? Yes, this is Cristina Yang. We don't want Diego any more. Can you come get him?"
"What the hell are you talking about?" Meredith asked.
"You can come get him tonight? That's excellent. See you soon." Cristina smiled and ended the call. "Okay, we'll pack up his stuff. Owen, go upstairs and tell Chloe to come say goodbye."
"What?" Mallory blinked. "He's really leaving?"
"That's what you want, Hurricane." Cristina patted her head.
The room went silent. Diego stopped crying and looked around. Confused, Mallory looked at her father, who was putting on a good show of looking sad.
"I had so many dreams of watching Diego grow up," he sighed heavily. "But you want him gone, so he's going to go away."
"Do you think he could stay with me?" Grandma Hunt asked quietly. "He's such a sweet little boy. I don't want to say 'goodbye' to him."
"Sorry, Mom." Owen shook his head. "Mallory never wants to see him again. He'll have to go back to foster care."
"But …" Mallory sat down, looking very confused. Owen ruffled her hair before going upstairs.
"I'm sad," Grandma Hunt continued, holding him close. "I thought he'd be such a good little brother to you when he got older, but I guess we'll never see him again."
"Say goodbye to him," Cristina nudged Mallory. "Nobody will want to adopt him, so try and give him some nice memories."
Her daughter stared at her, wide-eyed. "But ... but ..."
Chloe came flying down the stairs, followed by Owen. She ran over to her grandmother and flung herself over Diego. "Goodbye little brother!"
Cristina shared a secret smile with her husband, while Chloe continued her charade. "I'm so sad that you're going to leave us! I'll miss you forever!"
"But ..." Mallory stared at her sister.
Cristina crouched down by her. "Mallory, we can't keep doing this. It's very exhausting taking care of him while you try to decide if you hate him or not."
"I don't hate him," Mallory said, seriously. "Are you really going to send him back?"
"Do you really want us to?"
"No." The little girl's eyes filled with tears. "I want him to stay."
"Are you sure?" Cristina rubbed her shoulder. "Really sure?"
Mallory nodded as her face crumpled up and she began to cry.
Owen squatted down and hugged Mallory. "We love you, you know. I'm sorry this has been hard for you while we're making adjustments and trying to take care of him."
"Call the social worker!" Mallory sobbed. "Before she takes Diego away!"
Cristina stood up and turned around, hiding her grin. She dialled Meredith again. "Hello! This is Cristina Yang. We've changed our minds and are going to keep Diego forever and ever."
"Well that's a relief," her friend laughed. "I want to hear all about it at lunch tomorrow."
"Don't you dare try and take him!" Cristina growled. "We won't let you!" She disconnected the call.
"She's not going to come?" Mallory looked anxious.
"No, she's not. We're going to keep him." Cristina smiled.
"Ha ha," Rob chortles. "You thought they were going to take him away!"
"Shut up," Mallory smiles at him. "I was six years old."
She glances at her brother, who is grinning from ear-to-ear. "Oh stop."
"You like me," Diego teases. "You really really like me."
Smirking, she leans forward and ruffles his hair, deliberately messing it up as much as she can.
"Stop that!" He jumps up and away from her, his hands immediately smoothing his hair.
"Behave or I'll make you go shopping with me again," Mallory winks.
"Dad, can I use your shower?" Diego sighs.
"Go ahead." Owen rubs Cristina's shoulders. "Maybe having three kids was a little crazy, but they're good kids."
Miserable, Cristina huddled under the blankets and coughed. She heard the sounds of children entering her bedroom.
"Mom?" Chloe sounded worried. "We brought you breakfast in bed."
"Dad said it would be good for you!" Mallory added.
"Happy Mother's Day!" Diego patted her through the blankets.
"Don't come near me," Cristina croaked. "Save yourselves."
"We've got masks on," Mallory giggled. "Come on, you need to eat."
Sighing, Cristina stuck her head out. Her three children were standing by the bed, wearing face masks and gloves. Chloe held up a tray.
"We've got fresh-squeezed orange juice and toast and ginger ale," Mallory informed her. "And if you want anything else, just ask."
Diego handed her a pink card. "We made this for you," the six year old solemnly informed her.
"Aw." She took the card from him. "It says 'Happy Mother's Day' and 'Get Well'. Thank you."
Chloe carefully placed the tray on her lap. "Drink your juice, I squeezed it just for you."
Cristina smiled feebly, as Owen appeared in the doorway, without a mask. "How're you doing?"
"I'm going to die," she informed him morosely. "Keep your distance."
Grinning, he sauntered over, then sat down beside her and kissed her. The children made faces at each other.
"Are you crazy?" Cristina wiped her nose. "You want the plague?"
"We're a team," Owen smiled. "If you're going down, I'm going down with you. You have delicious germs."
"Ew." Mallory looked disgusted.
Cristina coughed. "Chloe's only 14, she's too young to take care of her orphaned siblings."
"Yeah," Chloe said. "I'd just ship them off to boarding school."
Owen's blue eyes twinkled. "I never get sick. I know how to eat healthy, unlike some people."
"Well, don't whine when we both have pneumonia."
Mallory grins. "Tell Rob what happened next."
Owen groaned and pulled the blankets over his head. "Let me sleep."
"We brought you food," Chloe called out. She held up a tray as he poked his head out.
Cristina and Owen coughed and sat up. "Thank you."
Wearing a mask, Chloe entered the room and placed the tray on his lap. She was followed by a masked Mallory, who gave Cristina a tray. Diego stood in the doorway and waved at them.
"I brought you your cold medicine," Mallory informed her parents. "Grandma Hunt said that if you don't take it, we can tickle you into submission."
"I'll take it," Cristina grumbled. She swallowed the pills and grimaced.
Owen blinked at his children, slowly. "Aren't you supposed to be in school?"
"It's seven o'clock in the evening." Chloe's eyes sparkled above her mask. "You really are sick."
"And you said you don't get sick," Mallory teased.
Diego leaned against the doorframe, looking very concerned. "Do you have the bionic plague?"
Cristina coughed before laughing, while Owen just looked miserable.
"No," he told their son sombrely. "But I've got a man cold. It's almost as bad as the bubonic plague."
"Oh here we go." His wife rolled her eyes. "There's no such thing as a man cold. You're just a bigger baby than I am."
"You haven't taken your pills yet," Chloe told him, handing him the bottle. "Here."
"I don't want to take them," he muttered. "They don't help. Just leave me here to die in peace."
"Diego, put on your mask," Chloe instructed, as she lifted up Owen's tray.
"Wait, where are you going?" Owen feebly lifted an arm, while Diego donned a mask and gloves. "Why did you take the tray?"
"You take the pills or we let Diego tickle you." Mallory reminded him. "What's it going to be?"
Owen looked at his son, who was eagerly watching him. He sighed. "I don't want to take the pills."
"Cowabunga!" Diego ran and leaped onto him. His small fingers reached under Owen's armpits and he began to tickle him, as everyone else laughed.
"I give, I give!" Owen weakly waved his arms in submission. "Give me something to wash them down with."
Mallory smirked as she handed him a glass of orange juice. His three children watched closely as Owen swallowed the pills.
"Can I have the tray back?" Owen tilted his head and stuck out his lower lip. "Have pity on me, I have a man cold."
Cristina raises an eyebrow at Rob, who is grinning widely. "What?"
"My kids are going to have cool grandparents," he smiles. "I never thought of it until now. Hell, I never imagined that Uncle Owen and Aunt Cristina were going to be my in-laws."
"You really didn't know the Hurricane had a crush on you?" Cristina asks.
"Nope. At that age, I was much too cool to notice a girl so much younger than me."
"And that was a good thing," Owen smiles. "You wouldn't have wanted to deal with me before she was 18."
"She did try to get Rob's attention once ..." Cristina elbows Mallory.
Cristina sighed, as she neared the campground. She reminded herself that her marriage was a partnership, and if her husband wanted her to join them on the rare Father's Day weekend with good weather, she should indulge him. He'd been a good sport about her performing surgery first, she could reward him with her presence.
Derek's new trailer gleamed in the sun as she pulled into the campsite. She saw Robbie sitting outside, doing something with the very latest in tablet technology. He barely looked up when she called out in greeting.
"I hear you've decided on John Hopkins," she said, pulling her bag out of the trunk. "Good choice."
"Thanks," he said, eyes on the device.
Cristina turned towards the battered tent that Owen refused to replace. She raised her eyebrows as Mallory crawled out of it. Her 14 year old daughter was wearing a very skimpy bikini top with brief denim shorts.
"She was what?" Owen frowns.
"Mom!" Mallory blushed. "I didn't hear you drive in."
"In the tent now," Cristina hissed, moving towards her. To her relief, Robbie didn't look up, as she hustled Mallory out of his view and into the tent.
"What?" Pretending to be casual, Mallory crossed her arms in front of herself. "What's wrong?"
"Who saw you wearing that?" Cristina pointed to the bits of string and fabric barely covering her daughter. "Where did you get that?"
"Nobody saw it," Mallory answered defensively. "I bought it with my babysitting money. It's really hot out here and I thought-"
"You thought you'd parade yourself in front of Robbie," Cristina hissed. "Not. Happening."
"Mom!" He daughter continued to play dumb. "He's a family friend, I didn't think-"
"Cut the crap." Cristina leaned forward until she was in Mallory's face. "I've seen the way you look at him. You like him. Not as a family friend, you 'like him' like him. But he's too old for you so you need to cover up around him. And Uncle Derek-"
"And every man, especially your father!" Cristina pointed to the bikini top again. "I hope you kept the receipt because you are too young to be wearing that!"
Mallory stared at her. "You're kidding."
"There is nothing funny about this at all." Cristina stepped back and gathered her thoughts. "Look ... Robbie just turned 18. He's interested in girls his own age. And, there are laws against an 18 year old dating a 14 year old."
Her daughter's face fell.
"I didn't think about that little detail," Mallory smiles sheepishly.
"If he had seen you wearing this ... he would've done the right thing and looked away," Cristina continued, trying to keep her voice calm. "You are the daughter of his parents' best friends and he knows that it isn't right for him to be messing with someone as young as you. He'd avoid you. Is that what you want?"
Mallory looked down. "He's going away to college. I just ... wanted him to notice me."
"You're too young for him right now." Cristina put her fingers under Mallory's chin, and forced her daughter to look at her. "You're a very pretty girl and you're going to be a beautiful woman. You should be trying to date boys your age."
"I only want him." The young girl's eyes filled with tears. "I love him, Mom. He's perfect, and he's going away to college and I'm not going to see him all the time then and I want him to remember me and -"
"You're definitely memorable," Rob grins. "I wouldn't have forgotten that."
"You have to wait until you're 18," her mother soothed. "He'd remember you for the wrong reasons if you tried to flirt with him.."
"Put this on." Cristina picked up a t-shirt and handed it to her. "Mallory ... how do you think Papa Bear would react if he saw you wearing that?"
"He'd get over it," Mallory shrugged.
"I would not," Owen insists.
"He would not!" Cristina scowled. "You think that just because you have your father twisted around your pinky finger that you can get away with anything. When it comes to your safety, your dad won't back down and he wouldn't 'get over it'. You think he's annoying now with how protective he is? If he knew you want to get Robbie to notice you, he'd see to it that you never saw Robbie again."
Stunned and a little sulky, Mallory looked away.
"True that," Owen grins. "You would never have been allowed to go to Paris on my dime, either."
"And so I gave her a speech about how no woman ever deserves to be attacked, no matter what she's wearing, but creeps don't think like that." Cristina sighs. "I saved her from herself."
"And I returned the bikini and Mom started going through my room to check for any more inappropriate items of clothing," Mallory protests.
"Wow." Rob shakes his head. "I really had no idea. I would've avoided Mallory had Cristina not caught her."
His wife pouts, so he places a hand on her leg. "You're cute, but even as a horny 18 year old, I would've known you were off-limits. Papa Bear taught me how to shoot a gun, you know. That means he knows how to use one."
Owen chuckles. "My plan worked."
"I promise you that no 14 year old of mine will wear a teeny bikini," Mallory grins at Rob, touching her stomach.
"Okay, time to start lunch." Owen stands up and stretches. "Hurricane, do you want to cook and yell at everyone, or stay here and rest?"
"Ha ha." Mallory smiles. "I'll stay here."
"I'm going to call my parents." Rob kisses her before leaving the room with Owen.
"You feeling okay?" Cristina peers at Mallory. "You're letting someone else cook again?"
Sighing, Mallory leans against her again. "I still can't believe I'm having twins."
The young woman looks up at her mother. "Are you disappointed in me?"
Startled, Cristina stares. "No. Why would you ever say that?"
"Because earlier, I said that I'm going to quit my job to stay home with the babies rather than stick them in some expensive daycare. I'm putting my career on hold until they go to school."
"Mallory ..." Cristina takes her hand. "Staying home with kids is a job. It's going to be very, very hard with twins, especially when Rob will be an intern. But I know that you can do it. You always get what you want."
Her daughter smiles a little. "Thanks."
"And you can go back to work at a later time, and reach your full potential as a Culinary Goddess then."
"It's not just about the money," Mallory admits. "In my master plan, I was going to get pregnant when we could afford for me to stay home. So I already know that I don't want to put them in a daycare at all."
"Then don't!" Cristina pauses. "Are you mad that I didn't stay home with you?"
"Ha!" Mallory grins. "Mom, being a Cardio Goddess is so much a part of you. You would've been miserable. I don't know how you did it, to be honest. Having a brilliant career and three brilliant kids."
"I'm Wonder Woman," Cristina smirks. "Seriously, I did try. I wanted to be at every ballet recital and soccer game and martial arts competition. But-"
"But you save lives and you pioneer new surgical techniques because that is who you are." Her daughter smiles. "You're a good mother."
"And you'll be a great mom. You're going to be a fun mother. The other moms will hate you because you'll throw the best parties and their kids will want to hang out at your house because you'll have the best snacks."
"Aw." Mallory smirks. "Look at us. We're getting mushy."
"I could tell you about the surgery that's going to win me a second Harper Avery award?"
Author's notes – thanks to lovemesomeowen for the bad ass beta reading. And thank you to milee for the prompt of "Chloe's first day of school".