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Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: These characters are property of Shonda Rhimes/ABC and Grey's Anatomy. They do not belong to me. Reimbursement is not received for fictitious works.
Pairing: Owen/Cristina with a touch of Mark/Lexie – sorry I couldn’t help myself.
Note: A Christmas story for the hiatus survival guide challenges at In The After with a bit of Mark and Lexie thrown in. This was supposed to be for the drabble contest, but it grew!
Summary What Christmas gift did Owen give Cristina that first holiday together?

Knowing Her
By
Lattelady
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Dr, Hunt, I need a few moments of your time?” Cristina had been practicing the words in her head all the way from the sub-sterile between ORs 3 and 4. But she still didn’t think they came out sounding right.

“What can I do for you?” He was making quick notes in a chart, though there was no patient in sight.

“I need…may we do this in private.” She glared at him and tried not to think of the last time they’d been alone. Just thinking about the vent and the tumultuous, joyous way he’d kissed her, sent shivers through her body.

“Private?” He smirked at her over the top of his paperwork. “Exactly how private did you want to get?” His lips twitched, causing her eyes to zero in on his mouth. She knew what he tasted like and the amazing things those soft, demanding lips could do to her.

“Just forget it. It’s a bad idea anyway. I shouldn’t bother you.” She glared and hated that her words lacked their usual acerbic bite. It was Christmas Eve Day and she couldn’t believe she’d contemplated asking him go with her to Meredith’s the next morning.

“You aren't a bother and you don't usually have bad ideas. Why don’t you let me be the judge, this time?” he spoke softly as if he were gentling a wild animal. The analogy made him want to smile because there was something untamed about Cristina Yang and it excited him in ways he’d never thought possible.

She gripped her hands into fists at her sides while trying to decide how best to ask him to…him to…words failed her. It seemed too much like needing someone.

“Let’s take this into my office, doctor?” he suggested. Though they were alone in Trauma Room One, it was directly across from the nurse’s station.

When he turned and walked the few steps to the cubby he used when he ran the ED, he didn’t look back to see if she followed. He needed her to trust him enough to come willingly. She’d trusted him the night she’d almost broken, but since then, he’d felt her pulling away.

Once they were both inside the cramped room and the door closed, he leaned against his desk watching her pace the tiny area in front of him. Hunt had seen almost every emotion cross her face, in the time he’d known her, but he didn’t think he’d ever seen her nervous.

“Cristina,” he said her name so softly it caught them both by surprise. “Tell me what’s wrong and how I can help.”

She stopped directly in front of him and looked up as she pushing a cloud of dark curls off her forehead. He appeared tall and commanding, with broad shoulders that pulled at the sleeves of his scrubs and lab coat, being so close did funny things to her insides. “I accepted Meredith’s invitation to Christmas dinner. Will you come with me?” she spit the words out trying to sound as if she didn’t care what his response was.

Mention of the holiday triggered memories that Owen had been trying to forget. He remembered sand blowing in his face as he’d tried frantically to stop blood pumping from a young soldiers leg. In the distance there was the frightening sound of weapon’s fire getting closer and the gentle reassuring chop of helicopter blades….

“I shouldn’t have come here.” Cristina didn’t like the way the light in his blue eyes had turned dark. She knew that looked. She’d seen it on his face the night she’d followed him out of Joe’s bar. The night he’d kissed her for the first time, since coming back. She also knew that looked, because it was often in her eyes, staring back at her when she looked in the mirror. “It was a silly idea.”

“What…sorry…I didn’t mean to…” He forced his attention into the here and now, but he couldn’t focus.

“I know…. I understand.” She covered his hand carefully, ready to jump back or stand her ground, depending on what he needed, because she did understand what he was going through. They were two people with ghosts…as he’d said, there had been a before and this was what it took to survive when one lived with ghosts.

It took him a moment, but he embraced the mental picture of where he’d been and carefully visualized letting go, stepping away, until he was no longer part of the scene. It was what he’d been taught in the hospital stateside, though he’d instructed any number of his fellow soldiers in the technique…but that had been before he’d needed to use it himself.

Once she was sure he was all right, Cristina broke contact by taking a step back. “Look, it isn’t important, forget I asked.” Her lips tightened into an almost smile and she turned to leave.

“Do you want to go to Meredith’s?” He gripped her shoulders gently, turning her around so she faced him again. Touching her kept him anchored securely in Seattle and kept her from running away from what had to be a difficult conversation for her. Like anyone who worked at Seattle Grace, he knew that Cristina Yang and Meredith Grey were practically joined at the hip. Like everyone else, he knew that something was very wrong with the friendship between the two women and had been for weeks.

“I…” She looked up into his face. She needed his help, if she was going to face that crowd of warm fuzzy people on Christmas morning. “Not really, but I need to…I miss…well…” Her chin rose defiantly. “We were friends for so long and now we aren’t. She keeps trying to… Damnit, yes I want to go! But I shouldn’t, it’s not even my holiday.”

“All right then.” He nodded and grinned at her. “What time should I pick you up?”

“You don’t have to…it’s not a date or anything.”

“What time, Cristina?” He was damned if he was going to simply meet her there. If she was dragging his ass out on a day he’d planned on spending in bed with a bottle of scotch to fight the memories, they were going to do it correctly. When she didn’t respond, he tried another tactic. “If it makes you more comfortable, think of me as reinforcements.”

“Gifts are at 10:30 and dinner at 1:00, but we only have to show for the food.” She huffed rolling her eyes. Somewhere deep inside she liked the idea of bringing her own special Army along. She bet he could take Shepherd down if the need arose.

“I’ll be at your place at 10:15.” He looked down at her daring her to contradict him.

“Thank you,” she whispered. They weren’t words she used often and they were hard for her to say, but as she did, her body relaxed visibly.

Her reaction took Owen by surprise. He knew she’d been upset about the state of her friendship with Grey, but this was Cristina Yang, not much fazed her outside of the OR.

Something moved deep inside of him at how vulnerable she appeared. He looked up quickly to be sure that there was no one on the other side of the windows that ran along the length of his office. When he saw that the coast was clear, he bent slightly and slid his right hand from her shoulder, up her strong slim neck, until it cupped her cheek. Then he leaned in quickly and kissed her.

“What did you do that for?” Yang’s head jerked up and she looked into laughing blue eyes with dark angry ones. They’d been careful around each other since the beginning. She figured showing up with Hunt in tow would pretty much let the cat out of the bag…. But she needed him to be there with her.

“I wanted to,” he grinned.

“Oh…okay then.” Her brows beetled but she couldn’t be angry with him when she could feel the heat radiating off his body and he smelled so good.
…………………………
It had been snowing on and off for hours when Cristina and Hunt arrived at the Grey residence. There weren’t as many cars parked out front as she ‘d expected, but one of them was an unusual metallic black Porsche Carrera 911 that didn’t belong to any of Meredith’s zoo.

“Hmmm I wonder who else is here.” She was sure she should recognize that sports car.

“That 911 is Mark Sloan’s.” Hunt had always been an adrenaline junkie, and had a soft spot for fast cars, though he drove a more sensible SUV.

“Great,” she muttered. Not only did she have to put up with McDreamy, but McSteamy was there too. Her mind stalled as she wondered what nickname had been given to Hunt. She gazed at his profile and grinned as she ran the various possibilities.

“What?” he questioned.

“Oh, nothing.” Her eyes glinted pure mischief. She didn’t care what the others called him, as far as she was concerned, he was McManly!
…………………….
The crowd wasn’t quite as bad as she had thought, but it was definitely an odd one. Alex had been called in an hour earlier and Izzie had gone with him, leaving the meal she’d begun preparing in the hands of Lexie Grey. George was nowhere in sight and Callie was with her parents, skiing at Jackson Hole, for the long weekend. The usual group that orbited around Meredith Grey was reduced to the six of them.

“You do know what you’re doing, Three?” Yang looked across the room into the open kitchen where the young woman was pulling something from the oven.

“Let’s all play nicely, today.” Mark Sloan was making a large pot of coffee and trying not to look at Lexie. They were taking a chance being together for the holiday, but it had meant a lot to the Lexie, so Mark was accommodating her. Deep inside he realized there wasn’t much he wouldn’t do to make Little Grey happy. He only hoped no one else noticed. “Besides, we’re on a first name basis for the day…Cristina.” He said her name using his dark smoky voice that usually accompanied sexual innuendoes.

“You came.” Meredith looked up from arranging crackers and fruit on a plate. The light-haired woman made an effort to crank down on her emotions, but she was thrilled to see her friend making an attempt to meet her halfway.

“Yeah, I came,” the words were disgruntled and edgy. “You’re not trying to cook are you, Mer?”

“God, no!” Derek Shepherd came in carrying wood for the fireplace and caught the end of the women’s conversation. “We want to be able to eat without ending up in the ED, especially since you seem to have brought the head of trauma with you.” He stacked the logs on the hearth in the living room. “I’m glad to see you accepted my invitation, Owen.”

Cristina’s left eyebrow twitched as she turned questioningly to the man at her side. “You made me go through all that and you were coming anyway,” she whispered as he took her coat.

“I’d been invited.” He added quietly, so close that his breath ruffled her curls, “But the reason I’m here is because you wanted me to be.”

He’d given up peace and solitude and come willing into a situation filled with warm fuzzy emotional landmines, the kind that could be more harmful that the coldest insult, simply because she’d needed him there. It was staggering. It was unheard of and she wasn’t sure how she’d ever repay him. Owen Hunt had been surprising her from the moment she met him, whether it was pulling an icicle out of her side, kissing her senseless or showing her magical places that existed out of time and space.

No one missed the importance of their quiet exchange. It made Derek grin, Meredith sigh in relief and Mark and Lexie simply looked at each other. The message clear between them, they weren’t the only ones keeping secrets around there.
………………….
All six of them sat around the tree eating the wonderful concoction Lexie had made and drinking coffee. The plan was to open gifts, but everyone was too busy eating.

“Are you sure there isn’t something addictive in this stuff.” Derek put some more warm cheese on a cracker and popped it in his mouth.

“Completely,” Lex laughed, glad she’d made a meaningful contribution over and above the almost complete meal Izzie had left in her care and that still wouldn't be ready for a few more hours. “It’s only Brie, with fig spread, topped with chopped pecans and baked for about five minutes.”

“Well I’m a convert.” Mark Sloan crouched on the floor beside the coffee table. He spread some of the Brie on an apple slice and dropped the rest of the way to the carpet. It had been a carefully calculated move to sit with his shoulder brushing Lexie’s, and make it appear like an accident, if Derek or Meredith should look their way. He needn't have bothered with stealth. The one established couple in the group was too busy cuddling in front of the fire.

“Okay everybody, it’s time for presents.” Mer finally dragged her eyes away from Shepherd's and began handing out packages.
……………….
There were only two odd moments in the gift giving. The first was when Owen Hunt handed Cristina Yang a thin, flat, seven by three inch package. He’d given everyone else a nice bottle of Zinfandel.

“What?” She frowned and held the package on the tips of her fingers. “The last time a man gave me something it was a three caret, princess cut diamond ring.” She didn’t realize she’d spoken out loud until Owen’s hand gently gripped her left wrist.

“He didn’t know you very well did he?” Their eyes met and he hoped his didn’t show the relief he felt that the man she'd been with before him had been a total jerk.

“No he didn’t,” she whispered and realized that Burke had never known her and more important he had never really tried to understand her. But this man…this sad-eyed, wounded man was making an attempt.

“Good.” Owen’s lips twitched and he knew that he’d chosen correctly.

Her fingers trembled as she pulled off the wrapping paper. Inside was an envelope with her name written on it.

“Finish opening it.” He guided. “It won’t bite.”

Inside was a letter confirming that Dr. Cristina Yang was granted temporary surgical privileges at Bremerton Navel Hospital a few miles away. “You’re drafting me?” She looked up in wonder.

“Not exactly. A friend of mine is doing a triple cardiac by-pass on the Friday after New Years. You’ve got the day off and he needed a first assist.” He shrugged, downplaying his role in the events. Though everyone present knew it took a ton of paper work to be given privileges at a hospital, government-run or not. “Though I did clear it with the Chief before I approached my friend.”

“Oh my god, you gave me a great surgery for Christmas. I can’t believe this.” Her eyes shown and she leaned across the small distance that separated them, and froze. She was about to hug him when she realized that they weren’t alone. But she stopped too late; her forward momentum sent her into his outstretched arms.

Meredith glowed at her friend’s happiness. At first she’d thought that Hunt had simply given Cristina a ride, like Mark had Lexie. She was never so glad to be wrong in her life. Her friend had been more lonely than usual in the past months. When Burke won the Harper-Avery award, it had been like a slap in the face to the woman who had put her own career on the line to save his. It was nice to see Cristina was with someone who knew exactly what excited her.
……………
The only other slightly awkward moment came when Lexie opened her present from Mark Sloan.

The young intern sat cross-legged on the floor under the Christmas tree. The lights casting red highlights into her sleek hair, as she opened a shoe-boxed sized gift. “I can’t imagine….” Then her breath caught in her throat. “Mark….”

Lexie found a number of smaller boxes in the larger one. Each of the smaller ones contained two surgical pick-ups. There were tooth Adsons for closing skin, Debakeys for working with finer tissue and even a set of Castroviejos for very fine work. Mixed in among the boxes were packs of the correct suture to be used for different kinds of stitches.

“Mark…” She wanted to say so much more than simply his name. It was evident that he bought the instruments for her. They weren’t hospital cast-offs. He’d given her an expensive, thoughtful gift. “You…shouldn’t…”

“Don’t cry or I’ll take them back.” He’d seen the tears forming in her eyes and knew that if she let them fall, their secret would be out, because he wouldn’t be able to stop himself from holding her.

“I’m not…I won’t.” She shook herself, remembering where she was.

“Good because there is one other thing.” He nodded toward the piece of paper she was holding in her hand. “Read it, go ahead,” he urged.

Lex held up the note in shaking fingers and read. “This gift is accompanied with as many lessons as you need to get it right.” It was sighed Mark Sloan. “You’re going to teach me?” She tipped her head and her cheeks turned pink remembering the last time she’d used those words.

“Damn straight I am.” He grinned wickedly. “And I’m an exacting teacher.”

“That’s quite a gift, Mark.” Derek glared at his friend. Sloan wasn’t one who gave of himself and it set off warning bells in Shepherd's head.

“It’s nothing.” The plastic surgeon shrugged his large shoulders and tried not to look at Lexie. He’d meant those lessons on a number of levels. He’d enjoyed sending a private message to her in front of her sister and Derek.

“You’ve hit the mother load.” Cristina looked over her intern’s shoulder at the shiny new instruments still in their boxes.
…………………..
After dinner the men volunteered to do the dishes – actually, Derek and Owen volunteered and drafted Mark. It had been a good holiday. They’d all had too much to eat and too much wine drink.

The men had finished filling the dishwasher and were washing the last of the pots and pans when loud very unChristmas-like music blasted from the living room.

“I hope they didn’t do that to cover up arguing.” Derek was worried. The day had gone almost too well. Meredith and Cristina had slowly worked their way back to their old friendship and had been kind enough to let Lexie be part of the group.

The men shuffled into the living room and found all three women dancing to raucous music. The women were passing around the last bottle of wine, as they moved sensuously to the music.

A tiny groan escaped Sloan’s lips as he zeroed in on Lexie’s rocking hips.

“It’s a waste to simply watch,” Hunt muttered and left Shepherd and Sloan with their eyes glued to their respective women.

Owen’s arms were around Cristina in seconds as he pressed her body tightly against his. They moved as if they had done so a hundred times.

“I know you.” She rubbed her nose against his whiskers and inhaled his familiar scent. “We know each other.” She mouthed the words against his neck but he heard them anyway. In that moment she realized that no matter what had happened between them on that snowy, icy night they’d first met, it could have never gone further because until Owen Hunt had walked through his personal valley of death, he could never have understood hers. Knowing that, she relaxed against him and let a man lead, while dancing, for the first time since she was nine years old.
……………………..
It was late when the party broke up. The couples had danced for hours. Meredith had rejoiced for her friend and tried to ignore her half-sister. If she pretended that she hadn’t seen the way Mark was holding the younger woman, she wouldn’t have to do anything about it. After seeing the gift Sloan had given Lexie and watching the two all day, she had a sinking feeling that it wouldn’t do her any good anyway.

“It was a good party.” Derek snuggled Mer’s body tightly against his. “It looks as if Cristina has found someone who understands her.” He refrained from mentioning Mark and Lexie, though he knew his girlfriend well enough to know that she’d seen exactly what he had.

“Yeah, but who would have supposed a man like Hunt could be….” She remembered how panicked Yang had been when she’d discovered he was back from Iraq and working at Seattle Grace. “Ya know she said something strange to me…she called him the man who pulled the icicle out of her chest. I know he really did do that, but I don’t think that was the only ice he dislodged.”

“Are you becoming a romantic?” Derek kissed her ear and ran his hands over her body. “There’s hope for you after all.”

“I think he cares about her. That Christmas gift was so perfect.” She wasn’t sure if she was talking about Mark and Lexie or Cristina and Owen.

“I think you’re right.” Derek rolled her beneath him. “But that’s not what I’m interested in right now.”
………………..

Across town, at the Archfield Hotel, Mark Sloan gave Lexie Grey another lesion, one that had nothing to do with surgery, and everything to do with who they were.
……………………
A few miles away, in an apartment directly across from Seattle Grace Hospital, Owen Hunt slowly undressed Cristina Yang and she undressed him.

He’d given her a gift of surgery, the gift of truly understanding her. She’d given him the gift of a day filled with new memories; a day when he didn’t hear weapon’s fire or moans of death. They planned to spend the hours until sunrise moving forward, living in the now with each other.

The End

Comments

( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
xtaline
Dec. 26th, 2008 09:45 pm (UTC)
Awww! What a perfect gift for him to give her!

This was very cute. I really am looking forward to people finding out about them.
lattelady6
Dec. 27th, 2008 12:08 am (UTC)
LOL I think McManly can be a creative type of guy...look what he did with a vent. I figured a gift would be a walk in the park for him.

Glad you liked the story.

I find it interesting that when Burke purposed, Cristina had a need to tell Meredith, but this she is keeping to herself.
drottningu
Feb. 8th, 2009 11:25 pm (UTC)
I think it's because she's still reeling with the shock of all the damage done to him, and she isn't sure what to do. But Cristina didn't actually tell Meredith about Burke until after she got herself pregnant
exploit_omaha
Dec. 26th, 2008 09:50 pm (UTC)
The highlight of my day was picturing Owen kicking Derek's ass, prompted by the line, "She bet he could take Shepherd down if the need arose." Best mental image ever.

A really sweet story, beginning to end. Great work!
lattelady6
Dec. 27th, 2008 12:09 am (UTC)
LOL Yeah, Derek really has his moments. No doubt about it, Hunt could take him.

Glad you liked the story, it was fun to write.
angelamermaid
Dec. 26th, 2008 10:19 pm (UTC)
“I’d been invited.” He added quietly, so close that his breath ruffled her curls, “But the reason I’m here is because you wanted me to be.”

:melt!
lattelady6
Dec. 27th, 2008 12:10 am (UTC)
hehehehe...It's great to know the lines that work for people. That one was a last second edit addition.

I'm glad you enjoyed.
ga_yo
Dec. 27th, 2008 12:31 am (UTC)
that line got me too. so endearing! great fic!
lattelady6
Dec. 27th, 2008 01:55 am (UTC)
I'm glad you liked it.
rosebard25
Dec. 27th, 2008 03:04 am (UTC)
I love this fic. Owen and Christina has such great chemistry, and that gift he got her was just perfect;) Great story
lattelady6
Dec. 27th, 2008 04:08 am (UTC)
Thank you so much. I wasn't sure about the chemistry, due to the holiday I wrote in fits and starts, usually late at night or early in the morning. Glad it worked.

Yeah I think the gift fits. I wanted to make a point that Hunt is different from Burke.
thumpathumpa
Jan. 2nd, 2009 07:37 pm (UTC)
Great fic!
lattelady6
Jan. 3rd, 2009 03:46 am (UTC)
Thanks. I love this pairing. Cristina's Christmas gift from Owen hand been buzzing in my head for weeks, I just needed to get it on paper...or computer chip.
thefanof
Mar. 2nd, 2009 02:04 am (UTC)
This is amazing. I love the Mark and Lexie scenes. I love it all.
lattelady6
Mar. 3rd, 2009 05:02 am (UTC)
Thanks, they are my favorite pairing, but I couldn't get the idea out of my mind that Hunt would give Cristina a surgery for Christmas. When I wrote this I hadn't planned on putting M/L in it at all but they just seemed to slip in.
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )

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Ariel walked on land for love and life,
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It was all about blood, sweat, and tears.
Because love means facing your biggest fears


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To love someone deeply gives you strength. Being loved by someone deeply gives you courage...Lao Tzu

It takes chaos to give birth to a dancing star ..F. Nietzsche

How many loved your moments of glad grace, and loved your beauty with love false or true? But one man loved the pilgrim Soul in you, and loved the sorrows of your changing face...Yeats

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Shakespeare is easy, life is hard...Wheels

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