Fandom: Grey's Anatomy
Spoilers: Season 6
Summary: Cristina and Owen's first non-holiday together. AU take set during time period of season 6.
Word Count: 2,877
"I don't do Christmas." She looked at him out of the corner of her eye as they walked past the gaudy display in the grocery store, complete with Christmas themed dishes and silverware, gift ideas, fake poinsettia centerpieces, cards, and all kinds of other holiday crap she tried to avoid at this time of year. She waited for his incredulousness, the idea that she didn't observe or celebrate what most people considered the biggest holiday of the year, or those blue eyes fixed on her and looking unbearably pleading as he explained how important Christmas was to him growing up, and how he had always had that huge Christmas tree in his house and fake reindeer on the lawn or something and how he had always put so much stock into celebrating the holiday...
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"Okay." He looked at the list Callie had made and left for Cristina, since it was her turn to go shopping. "Do you want to pick up some cinnamon raisin bread for your toast?"
She blinked. "Um...sure." She waited a beat for some sort of further reaction from him before speaking again. "Is...that okay? Me not celebrating Christmas..."
He looked at her, slightly bemused, as he pushed the cart over to the bread and pastry section of the store. "You don't celebrate Christmas. Lots of people don't." He began to scan the shelves for the items on the list and Cristina's preferred type of toast for breakfast when Callie offered to make it for everyone. "Why wouldn't it be okay?"
She took the bread she wanted and handed it to Owen to put into the cart. "I thought you would be all into the holidays and Christmas and elves...Christmas caroling...or something."
"Elves?" His eyes sparkled as he chuckled.
“Well…some people are really into the whole Christmas thing.” She couldn’t help smiling at his laugh. It seemed as though lately he had been laughing and smiling more, and it didn’t escape her notice that it was directly proportional to the increasing amount of time they had been spending together. He was practically living with her in the apartment she and Callie shared, they were taking advantage of every rare lull they could at the hospital to rendezvous at one of the secret places Owen had managed to discover, and when they had the even rarer days off together, such as on that day, he would manage to convince her to do something completely mundane with him such as grocery shopping…even though with him, those types of activities never felt that ordinary.
“Sorry to disappoint.” Owen grinned at her impishly while they made their way to the next aisle. “And I can assure you I’ve never Christmas caroled in my life.”
Cristina pressed her lips together, trying to hide the broadening of her smile as she envisioned a young Owen going door to door and singing Christmas carols. “My mistake.”
They walked in companionable silence for a moment before Owen spoke up again. “You said you were Jewish.” Owen’s voice held the hint of a question as he stopped to get a container of oatmeal from the shelf.
She blinked. “What?”
“Awhile ago, you said you were Jewish. Schindler’s list and the merger…”
The image of her claiming that her lapsed Judaism afforded her the right to compare the hospital merger to the Holocaust came into her mind, along with the bear pin she never wanted to have to think about ever again. “Uh…yeah. My stepfather was, and my mom converted…I was bat mitzvahed and everything, so…” She had no idea as to why she was all of a sudden rambling about this to Owen. “But I… I don’t celebrate Chanukah either.”
She watched him nod. “Okay.”
They continued to make their way through the store before she had to ask. “So…did you not make a big deal about Christmas growing up, or…?”
Owen was quiet for a moment before speaking in tones of melancholy that she had feared hearing from him in advocating for the holiday. “We had pretty low-key Christmases. We had the Christmas tree and the gifts…” He smiled fondly as he remembered. “My mom would make cookies and my dad would get out his guitar and play Christmas songs while we opened gifts. And if it had snowed enough, we’d go in the backyard and build a snowman or make a small hill and go sledding…” Owen shook his head; his eyes alight with the memories. “My mom always tried to make it special, especially after my dad died, but it was still pretty quiet. Simple.”
Cristina remained silent, thinking of her own father and how the holidays and the meaning of the season had changed irrevocably for her after his death.
“When I was overseas, some of the guys used to get really homesick around Christmas, so we’d try to make it a big deal, celebrate as much as we could just to feel like there was still some joy and hope in the world, with the only family we had over there…” He looked at her briefly. “I don’t think I knew when the hell the holidays were when I first came back.” Owen shrugged and looked forward as they walked. “I don’t know. I guess the holiday was never as important as the people there with me.” He smiled again, though it was a bit softer than previously, and not as full of mirth. “Did you…not want to celebrate the holidays this year together?”
She looked at him out of the corner of her eye and looked away before his gaze could meet hers again, so those eyes could make inwardly melt even more. “If you want.”
She knew that smile was still on his lips, and that one was now gracing her own, and they remained as the two of them walked together to finish their shopping.
The vibrating and insistent beeping of her pager had caught her off guard and thrilled her all at once. For being Christmas Day, it had been unusually slow in the ER and the few patients they’d had were simple cases she’d managed to pawn off to the salivating interns hanging around, and she was bored out of her mind. She was only going to be working for a few more hours since she had promised Owen that they would ‘not’ celebrate Christmas together and her time thus far had been wasted, checking on patients already admitted and hopefully checking the surgical board every so often to see if there were any interesting surgeries there, and if there were, who she’d have to suck up to in order to get the chance to scrub in. She didn’t even have anyone to complain about the crappy day to, what with Owen going to visit his mother, Meredith spending time with Derek and his mother in New York, Alex getting to the hospital even earlier than she had to swipe a surgery, Callie was spending time with her family and making dinner for that evening…the days were longer at the hospital when there were no interesting cases and no one to complain about it to.
To Cristina’s surprise when she checked the pager, however, it was Owen, hours earlier than she had anticipated hearing from him. Confused, she made her way to his office, where he was waiting for her not in street clothes, but in the dark blue scrubs she was so used to seeing him in.
In spite of his work attire, however, it wasn’t Owen, her attending addressing her now but her boyfriend, reinforced by his kiss on her cheek. “Hi. How’s your day going?”
“Great. Exciting. Most wonderful time of the year.” Her voice was dry as she looked up at him. “I thought we were meeting after my shift was over. Weren’t you supposed to visit your mom?”
“I did. We had a nice Christmas brunch,” Owen confirmed. “I thought I’d come here early and give you your gift, if you want.”
Cristina felt her confusion and mild irritation mount. “I told you, I don’t do Christmas. I don’t do Chanukah. I don’t do gifts for Christmas or Chanukah. And…I didn’t get you anything…”
“You don’t have to get me anything.” He didn’t seem to be fazed by her declaration and pressed on even as she opened her mouth to protest. “Look, it’s not about Christmas, okay? I just want to give you a gift. And if you don’t want it, you don’t have to accept it.” He grinned at her, and as usual, she could feel her resolve breaking down by that obnoxious boyish charm he could exude, made even more irresistible by the fact that it came from her rugged man. “Deal?”
She still wasn’t sure what he was on about and why it couldn’t have waited until they were at his apartment, but it seemed important to him, it was the most interesting thing that had happened so far that day, and in spite of herself, that childish excitement for presents was the one thing that hadn’t been completely eradicated in the years since she had decided the holidays weren’t the same and she didn’t need to celebrate them. “It’s not an ugly Christmas sweater, is it?"
“You’re just going to have to come and see.” He was clearly not going to make this simple, and she rolled her eyes slightly at all the secrecy. "But first..." He pulled her to him gently and though her mouth was open and a question on the tip of her tongue, he had other ideas for her mouth than talking and the steamy kiss effectively melted all questions and protests from her brain.
"...Uh..." She managed to get out as they came up for air.
He didn't speak, but his eyes traveled upwards to the top of the doorway of his office in which they were standing, the small sprig of mistletoe right above them. "Not for Christmas. Just...for us."
She didn't do holidays, she didn't do Christmas and gifts and mistletoe...and yet she could only precede him in leaving his office as he gestured to the door and settled his hand on her lower back while they walked. "You are into elves and stuff, aren't you?"
"Don't tell anyone." His voice was patiently amused and teasing. "Remind me to take that down before we leave, by the way. This hospital doesn't need any more excuses to kiss in inappropriate places in the hospital."
"Hypocrite." She couldn't help the tiny smile from forming as they made their way through the corridors and past the ER, thinking of all of the places Owen had found that they had christened as their own in the four walls of the hospital, as well as a few sections of the flat roof.
They finally stopped at a patient’s room just off of the cardio wing, which baffled her all the more, since she had been stalking the cardio patients all day and there had been nothing there, much less any surgeries of interest. “What…?”
“Mr. David Myers, transfer from Gates Circle, just arrived by chopper. Piggyback heart transplant.” His seemingly business, attending-like tone was belied by the slight smile on his lips. “You’re going to be assisting in the procedure. His surgeon is in there now informing him that a very talented resident will be getting him prepped for surgery.”
Dumbfounded was not the word. Stunned was closer. Amazement and excitement almost described the way she felt, her entire being suddenly perking up at the prospect of the surgery waiting for her, as well as a delight that she hadn’t experienced on Christmas or because of a gift in years.
“However, if you don’t want it, if scrubbing in on this surgery doesn’t interest you, Dr. Yang, I can always assign you to some case in the ER, maybe some stitches, or an enema. And I can always pick up an ugly sweater for you. I bet they’re on sale after the holiday…”
His teasing was cut off as she pressed her lips to his, trying to show her gratitude and failing, because she didn’t know just how to reveal how incredible his gift was and how he had just made this the best Christmas she could remember since she was nine years old.
“So you liked your gift.”
She rolled her eyes as he asked yet again while they exited from the hospital into the light snowfall that had been descending on Seattle for the last few days, that teasing sparkle still in his eyes and in his voice. “Yes. Fine. Whatever. Yay, Christmas.” It was the understatement of epic proportions, as when she had finished the surgery, she had wasted no time in seeking him out to recount every step of the surgery, and how the surgeon had let her take the reins when they were halfway finished, and she couldn’t have asked for a more meaningful, perfect gift from him.
Her eyes met his for a moment and he wrapped his arm around her in response as they proceeded to head to his truck so they could go to his apartment, to allow Callie time with her family for the evening. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome.” His arm rested around her waist and she leaned on his shoulder, content and yet exhausted from the long, exhilarating surgery. “That Chinese place is still open near my apartment. Did you want to pick up something there for dinner?”
“Sure.” After thinking on it for a moment, though, it didn’t seem to be the right ending to the day, just having dinner, and she had yet to give him a gift. He had said he didn’t need one, but she needed to give him one, if only for a small token of how much she felt for him, and how grateful she was for him being in her life.
The idea came from nowhere and yet it was so clear and present, she couldn’t stop thinking about it and hoped it would be feasible for that evening. “Let’s pick it up on the way back.”
Now it was his turn to look confused and she couldn’t help smiling furtively at him as he had done to her in giving her his present. “On the way back from where?”
She met his gaze and after a moment, inquired innocently, “Does your mom still have a sled at her house?”
“Crap. I’m not on! Wait!” She dissolved into giggles as he took her arm and pulled her onto his lap, gripping her the best he could while the sled went down the hill, unable to stop on the slippery surface. The stop that they came to was an awkward one that sent them both off of the sled and into the snow, and both of their laughs echoed in the clear, cold evening, slowly darkening even as they lay there together. “”Really with the kamikaze sledding and landing in the snow every time?”
“Sledding rules. The sled waits for no one, California girl.” His words sent a puff of fog into the air and he turned his head towards hers. “You okay?”
“I’m freezing.” She didn’t bother moving, however, because she had been using muscles she had forgotten had existed in her body and walking up and down the hill after each run, crouching her body close to Owen’s so they could ride down together, and picking up heavy snow and making it into an even heavier snowball to throw at her boyfriend’s unsuspecting back had taken it out of her in the best way possible. “Come warm me up.”
He propped himself up with one arm from where he had been lying on his back and used it to give himself enough leverage to roll on top of her, pressing her body further into the packed snow. “Better?”
She began to laugh again as the cold from the snow and his own wet clothes seeped into hers, helping to numb her already chilled skin. “No.”
“Sorry.” He didn’t look all that apologetic though, as he brushed some wet curls stuck to her cheek away from her face. “So this wasn’t a horrible holiday, was it?” He rubbed her arms and the sides of her body vigorously, attempting to warm her up.
She didn’t answer for a moment as she ran her hands lazily through his damp hair. “I guess not." The cold began to dissipate and she clung to him to allow the remaining chill to leave her system. “As long as there’s hot Chinese food, hot buttered rum, a hot bath, and hot sex when we get home.”
“I think that can be arranged.” His touch was almost making her forget the blanket of cold she was laying on and she reveled in it, and him. “By the way, thank you for my gift.”
“You’re welcome.” She looked up at him and the words left her lips almost without thinking as she wrapped her arms around his neck. “Merry…non-Christmas.”
His brief, soft kiss on her lips was as hot and bracing as she knew the hot buttered rum that he had promised to make for them would be when they finally arrived at his apartment, to officially start their first holiday season together. “Happy non-Chanukah.”