Another man might have expected his unemployed wife to do all of the housework. Owen Hunt knew better. He continued to do it himself.
Another man might have thrown out a wife who got drunk and danced with strange men. Owen Hunt knew better. He slung her over his shoulder and took her home. He sat with her and held her hair while she vomited, then laid down with her until she fell asleep.
Another man might have asked why she was standing in front of the fridge. He might have asked why her fingers traced the outline of the photo she'd placed there. A photo taken on a fishing trip with another man the day before. Owen Hunt didn't interrupt her reverie. He quietly stepped around her to get a glass of water.
He filleted and grilled the trout expertly, then served it for supper. She complimented his cooking, a small gesture that pleased him. She had noticed something. That was a good thing.
She stretched out on the couch while he washed the dishes and cleaned the kitchen. After he was done, he walked over to her. She was lying there, staring into space.
Owen suppressed a sigh. He knew what not to do – don't push her, don't command her, don't manipulate her.
He wished he knew what he could do.
His presence interrupted her thought processes. Cristina looked up at Owen. He was just standing there, watching her.
Another man would have been yelling at her to get up off of the couch. Another man would have left her in the bar. Another man would have been dragging her to psychiatrists and therapists and demanding that she take some sort of pill to just get over herself already.
She could name several other men who would have left a long time ago.
She kept her eyes on the man who stayed.
Owen loved her and she knew it, she felt it. It wasn't just that he told her (he did), he showed it. Even after recent events. He came home every night to make sure she got some sleep, he worked hard on the firehouse to make it a home, he spent hours rubbing her back or her feet, doing everything he could to help her feel safe. She didn't have to ask him for anything, he just gave.
And Owen was still standing there. Still watching over her. She wondered if he knew that she still loved him, amidst all the internal chaos.
Cristina extended a hand to him. "Pull me up," she whispered.
He obliged, helping her stand up and surrounding her with his arms. She leaned against his chest, smelling him.
"I love you," she murmured. She felt him exhale in her hair, as his body relaxed. Cristina closed her eyes, feeling a small pang of guilt.
"I want to be a good wife to you," she said softly. "But I don't know how."
He started to stroke her hair. "Just be yourself," he replied. "That's what I want. I … want you to find your way back to yourself."
Her small hands grasped his arms. "You're a very good husband," she remarked. "Thank you for staying."
He pressed his lips to her forehead. "You stayed through worse, Cristina."
Another man might have been offended by that remark. But no other person understood the mechanics of their relationship. Owen chuckled and squeezed her, as she smiled. Then she lifted her head and gave him a quick kiss.
"You're going to be okay," Owen assured her.
"And you know that how?"
"Because you showed me the way once."
"Hmm." She pressed her lips together and looked up at him. In a detached manner, she noticed that his blue eyes were calm, but not as … happy as in better days. And it was her problems that were stealing the light from his eyes. His eyes that were searching her face, her lips, her eyes, her curly locks …
"Could you wash my hair?" Cristina blurted out.
Owen grinned as his eyes turned brilliant. "I'd love to."
She smiled and let him lead her to the bathroom, hand in hand, reflecting how lucky she was to have this man by her side, a man unlike any other man she had known. The one man, in the end, that she wanted to stay.