A/N: So, here's another chapter. Much sooner than the last one came along. I really like this story, and I think I know exactly the route I would like to take. That said, thank you to all who take the time to read and review! It's greatly appreciated.
Even with having to cab herself back to her place, get ready, and make it back to the hospital, Teddy managed to beat Owen into work. When he walked up to the nurses' station to grab a patient's chart, she was standing there in her white lab coat and scrubs, flipping through a chart of her own. The nurse behind the desk seemed to be awaiting the blonde's breakdown, her eyes skeptical and her movements more hesitant than they should have been. Owen deliberately moved closer to his friend; if she needed to say something he was there. He placed the blue binder he had grabbed on the counter before him, right next to the chart Teddy was reading from. In his peripheral vision he saw that the patient she was dealing with was the same patient she had been operating on the previous evening.
There was a moment of silence between them before Owen cleared his throat softly and kept his voice just as low. "How are you?"
"I'm fine, how are you?" Her voice held an air of nonchalance that the redhead immediately identified as a wall, a cover. Who did she think she was fooling? That falsity wouldn't have fooled a child, and they both knew as much.
"Teddy. Stop for a minute. Answer my question properly. You can't lie to me. How are you, really?"
She turned her head so that she was facing him straight on. Their eyes met and Owen could see that behind the exterior she was attempting to portray, she was exhausted. Just an hour ago, he remembered, she hadn't appeared so haggard. "I… I'm not okay. I'm not fine. But I need to be here, and I'm fine enough to work. Please, don't make this a big dea-"
"It is a big deal, Teddy."
Hesitation. "I know. I know. But… please. Let me deal with this the way I need to. If I need anything, I promise, I'll let you know."
The simple fact that she promised him was enough reassurance for the trauma surgeon. She had never, in all the years of their friendship, broken a promise she had made to him, and she didn't expect her to start doing so now. Whether her husband was alive or not, they were friends. "You look tired."
Any other time, she would have had a sarcastic thank you to his remark, but she answered honestly for today. "I think I'm coming down with something. Probably just a cold."
Owen nodded, not giving her words a second thought. She was able to diagnose herself without any of his assistance – that much he wouldn't question. Having been partially reassured about her emotional state, he closed his patient's chart and turned from the nurses' station. He needed to catch up with Derek to find out anything and everything that had gone on while he wasn't at the hospital. It was one of the joys of being chief. "Try to have a good day," he told his friend before he departed completely.
"I will," he heard her say, quietly enough that he knew it wasn't meant for anyone's ears.
In a few short seconds, Owen found himself waiting for the elevator in order to head up to his office, where he had a feeling he would find Derek with a miniature basketball in hand. The lift doors opened to a nearly empty space. Cristina was the only occupant. It shouldn't have been this way, but he hesitated before joining his wife. He didn't want to have to ask her how her night had gone. He didn't want her to ask him how his night had gone, or anything about Teddy. The only thought that crossed his mind when he saw the brunette was in regarding the way that she had disregarded not only the hell that Teddy had gone through the previous day, but her love for her husband, as if it was illegitimate because of the circumstances. Did she forget that their initial meeting involved him stapling his own wound, and a ball point pen? Did she forget that their first kiss had taken place after he had pulled an icicle from her body? If their relationship, their marriage, wasn't illicit, what made her think that Teddy and Henry's had been?
He pressed the button for the floor of his destination, but didn't speak. Cristina was the first to break the awkward silence. "Hi."
"I… Teddy's working, and I can only assume that you're aware of that. Why wouldn't you make her take some time off? Her husband died yesterday; it's clear that she can't be in an operating room, and I honestly shouldn't have to put up with whatever mess she's become. You do realize that she's going to blame me for this, Owen? She's-"
Finally, the redhead turned to face his wife, his face emotionless. "Stop. Teddy is perfectly capable of doing anything that she says she can do. She, in fact, hasn't given me any reason to believe that she can't be a competent doctor at the moment. And you, obviously, won't be on her services for a little while."
"Excuse me? Why would I not be on her services?"
"I don't think that it would be appropriate, considering the situation. A current conflict of interest. She was the reason you were lied to, and you were the surgeon operating when her husband died. I don't think it's an suitable time for her to be your teacher, or for you to be her student."
"No, you were the reason I was lied to, Owen. You lied to me, not her. You could have put a stop to what was going on at any point, but you chose not to. Don't blame this on Teddy."
The elevator came to a halt at Owen's floor. He exchanged a final, unreadable look with his wife, and stepped out without another word. She didn't attempt to stop him.
There hadn't been anything too eventful happen while Owen was at home, which he was relieved to learn. Derek had had a long night, though; the neurosurgeon hadn't even gotten the chance to lie down. Owen told him to go home, rest, and come back tomorrow. He didn't have any surgeries scheduled for the day, anyway. Derek had inquired about Teddy, but Owen hadn't offered much. She was holding up, he told his colleague. She was going to be fine.
For a short while he had actually believed himself, but when lunch came around he found the blonde alone in the locker room, in a puddle at the foot of her locker with her head in her hands and her knees pulled up to her chest. It was only as he took a seat on the bench in front of the woman that he heard her soft whimpering. He wasn't sure if she was aware of his presence, so he stretched his leg out until the toe of his shoe was just barely touching her runner. The fact that she still didn't look up told him that she was not only aware of his presence, but that she knew exactly who her companion was. "Do you want to talk?" he asked her in a whisper.
Teddy shook her head to tell him that she didn't. His next question was, "Do you want me to bring you home?" Again, her answer was negative. Owen decided that he would try one last time. "Do you want me to leave?"
Finally her green eyes, red and swollen from crying, came up to meet with his icy blue orbs. Her intention had been to tell him that he should get back to work, and not worry about her. She, of course, would be fine. She just had something in her eye. She wasn't crying because the love of her life was dead, gone, forever. No, of course not. But when she saw the sincerity and warmth in his eyes, she realized that she needed him to stay. The thought made her stomach turn with disgust. She didn't want to need companionship. She didn't want to need friendship. And she especially did not want to need Owen to stay with her like she was a helpless child. She could see that he was patiently awaiting her answer, ready to do whatever was asked of him. "Don't leave," she finally pleaded.
The woman felt her heart sink straight down to her stomach as the redhead stood and headed for the door. She had been sure that he was at her disposal in that moment, and that he wasn't going to leave her to her own mind. It was a second before she realized that the door to the locker room had not opened, but that the lock had been switched to trap them inside alone. He wasn't leaving. She heard a locker open on the other side of the aisle she was leaning against, and then close with a soft bang. In his pressed shirt and blue tie, Owen moved back around to where she was with a water bottle and Kleenex in hand. He handed her both items before taking a seat next to her on the floor. Teddy took a generous drink of the cold liquid and gratefully wiped the streams of salty tears from her cheeks. She felt Owen's large hand dip between their bodies and remove her pager from her scrub pants before turning it off and handing it back to her.
No words were exchanged between them for a long time. Teddy couldn't be sure how long exactly, but if she had to take a guess she would have said it was more than an hour. Owen had long before turned off his own pager. Only twice had someone tried to get into the locker room, but neither of them had moved to allow them entrance. The entire situation reminded Teddy of their time back in the army. So many times, after a long day or a particularly difficult surgery, they had sat just like this. Talking wasn't important. Movement was irrelevant. The entire world seemed to disappear. This attachment and understanding had been the one thing about their time together that she had missed the most. When she moved from his side once again, the world might come crashing and shattering, but while they were there… everything could be alright. Everything was alright.
She allowed the comfortable silence to continue for a few more moments before she lifted her head from his shoulder. "You should get back to work. Someone's probably looking for you, Chief of Surgery and all. I… thank you, again. I'm alright, though."
"You're not alright. And that's fine. I might be worried if you were alright." The hint of a smile pulled at the corners of Owen's mouth as he pushed off of the lockers behind them and moved to his feet, stretching in the process. Offering Teddy a hand, he helped her to her own feet after she accepted the help.
"I know. I just… I have to be alright. I have to make it through today and tomorrow and the next, because there's no going back, right? I can't not be okay." She ran a hand through her long blonde locks, taking a seat on the bench but her eyes remained on Owen.
The large man was busy turning his pager back on as he spoke. "You don't have to be alright, you know. You can take some time, Teddy. You can just be for a little while, and then you can try to be okay. You don't have to be some sort of superhero." When he looked up he realized that she was looking at him as if he were trying for something impossible. He wasn't, or at least he hadn't thought that he was. "What?" he asked, slightly defensively. It wasn't an actual defensiveness, though; it was a more of a playful inquiry.
"I'm pregnant, Owen. I do need to be okay."
"You're… are you sure?" He moved to the bench, throwing a leg over so that he could straddle it as he sat.
Teddy turned toward him. "I was sick when I got home this morning, and I'm late, too. I took a pregnancy test. It came out positive. Then I took a second and a third. What are the chances of three tests giving a false positive? False negative, maybe, but not a false positive. I'm pregnant. And I have to do this alone."
"No. No, no, no. Don't think like that. You don't have to do this alone. I'll… I can be Uncle Owen? It'll be fine."
"I don't want it to be fine. I want my husband to be alive and to do this with me. I want him to have to run to the grocery store at one in the morning because I'm craving ramen noodles. I want him to feel this baby kick and hold this baby and wake up in the middle of the night and feed this baby. I… I can't to this alone."
Owen reached over and grasped Teddy's hand in his own. "Listen to me. I can do that. This… this isn't a bad thing. A baby is a great thing." The redhead forced a full blown smile onto his face. No, this wasn't his baby, but he wasn't about to let another child be killed by a woman he loved. His love for Teddy was, of course, vastly different from his love for Cristina, but he loved her nonetheless.
"What about Cristina?"
His answer was much too hasty, "Cristina doesn't want kids."
"I know. I know that. But, you can't just abandon her to take care of a baby that doesn't belong to you. I know you would, Owen, but you can't. She's your wife."
At those words, he felt some foreign emotion that he wasn't even sure he wanted to identify. "She doesn't want kids. That doesn't mean that I don't want kids."
Teddy gave his hand a light squeeze before pulling away entirely. "This baby isn't yours."
"It doesn't have to be. Just let me help. Let me be involved. It'll be good for you, and for the baby, and for me."
A/N: Reviews? Please? They keep me motivated ;) OH, and your ideas too?