Summary: AU - Cristina Yang is a young, talented and ambitious photographer who seems to have everything going for her. But there’s something missing, that special someone to share it with. At her first photography exhibition a handsome artist captures her attention, but is he the one she’s been looking for…?
Disclaimer: All television shows, movies, books, and other copyrighted material referred to in this work, and the characters, settings, and events thereof, are the properties of their respective owners. As this work is an interpretation of the original material and not for-profit, it constitutes fair use. Reference to real persons, places, or events are made in a fictional context, and are not intended to be libelous, defamatory, or in any way factual.
Author's note: I'm really really sorry for letting you all wait for so long. My beta was busy with real life stuff so she didn't have time to correct my chapters, but my wonderful friend helped me out so you can finally find out what happens next.
"So how are you and Cristina doing?" Mark asked during one of his usual workouts with Jackson. Today, for a change, they were trying out boxing. "We haven't talked about her since you were the big hero and saved her job." He grinned, hitting the punching bag. After a difficult morning at work it was a great way to relieve stress.
"Things are not the best right now," Jackson answered simply, also punching the bag, as he thought about the fight with Cristina. Three days had passed since it happened and he still hadn't spoken to her. He assumed it would be better to let her cool down a little before he would try to bring their relationship back to normal. He had already done enough harm and he would only make it worse by pushing her into talking too soon. Even though it was killing him that he hadn't seen her for what felt like eternity.
"Oh, no. What did she do to you?" Mark turned his head to Jackson, wondering what was going on in his best friend and his girlfriend's relationship. He noticed that Jackson was surprisingly quiet that day, but he assumed he just tried to focus on working out.
"She didn't really do anything. I'm the one who got myself into trouble." Jackson sighed and Mark just gave him a confused look. "Do you remember April?"
"You mean ducky? How could I forget her? She was always following you like a lost puppy," Mark said with laugh and Jackson glared at him. "Lexie told me she's the new chief of editor in the magazine. Did you hire her?" Mark didn't understand why was Jackson suddenly asking about April, but he assumed that he just wanted to change the topic so he didn't ask.
"No. And if I knew what was gonna happen I'd probably have tried to talk her out of taking the job," Jackson said and shook his head. April wasn't the problem here. Or at least she wasn't the only person that caused rift in his relationship with Cristina. "The day she started to work in the magazine I met her in the hallway and we talked for a bit. We both wanted to catch up on things but I already planned to have lunch with Cristina so I asked April to join us. But after the lunch it was clear that Cristina didn't like April very much. So when she asked me to come over for a dinner and bring Cristina with me I was hesitant to even tell Cristina about it, which got me into this mess." Jackson rambled and stopped punching the bag for a second, rubbing his face with his hands while trying to explain the whole situation to Mark, but it wasn't that easy. "I didn't tell her that April invited us over and then when I came to visit her I just said Cristina wasn't feeling well and couldn't come. What I didn't think about was, that April would ask Cristina whether she was feeling better the next day and by that revealed everything."
"Well that's tough. Did you try to explain things to Cristina?" Mark asked when Jackson stopped talking for a second. He didn't know what to tell his friend to help him. After all he didn't know Cristina that well.
"I did. But she just kicked me out of her apartment before I even had the chance to make it better," Jackson said, frowning. "Well maybe she wouldn't kick me out if I didn't unintentionally blame her for what happened," he added in a whisper, still feeling guilty for what he said. He regretted what he said the second those words left his mouth, but that didn't change anything.
"Woah, that's one pretty big mess. I told you not to start anything with Cristina because she can be pretty rough, but you didn't listen." Mark shook his head. He considered himself to be much more experienced with women than Jackson so he was always trying to give him some sort of advice, but Jackson never listened to him and then got into trouble.
"That's not all. After the dinner April and I were going through some old photos from college, remembering the old good times and then out of nowhere she kissed me. And you can only guess how Cristina reacted when she found out."
Mark's jaw dropped a little as he listened to his friend, but he had to admit he wasn't that surprised. He had always thought that April had a big crush on Jackson. He just never expected her to do anything about it, especially not after all this time. She had always been really shy and awkward around Jackson and he didn't think that would ever change. "I always told you she had a crush on you," Mark said after a while of silence when he thought about the times in college. "But as usual, you didn't listen to me."
"Well even if I believed you back then, I wouldn't think it would still be true or that she would do anything about it. Especially since she knew I have a girlfriend. Or at least had back then," he added the last sentence with sadness in his voice. He hadn't tried to talk to Cristina since their fight so he didn't know whether he could still call her his girlfriend or whether she was done with him forever. He was too afraid to ask.
"So what are you gonna do? Will you two break up?" Mark asked curiously.
"I hope not. I don't wanna break up with Cristina. I love her. I'll just let her cool down a bit before I try to talk to her again and hope it works. There is nothing else I can do." He sighed, hoping that apologizing to her would fix the damage he had done to their relationship.
"Well good luck with that." Mark laughed, knowing that his friend had a difficult time ahead of him.
After Jackson came home from the gym, he headed straight to the shower, still thinking about his conversation with Mark. He had to admit that Mark was right when he told him that Cristina could be pretty rough sometimes, but he also knew she could be nice and caring when she wanted. However, he was afraid she wouldn't be so nice to him the next time he tried to talk to her. As he let the water run over his body, he tried to think of what he was going to tell Cristina once he met up with her again. He didn't know when that was going to be, but he needed to be prepared. Although as much as he tried, there was nothing he could say to excuse his lying to her. He may tell her he did it for her so she wouldn't have to suffer through a dinner with April, but he doubted that would work. Besides there was also the part when he said it was Cristina's fault that he had to lied to her and he doubted she forgot about that. He stood in the shower for what seemed like an eternity, and came to the conclusion that it was impossible to find an easy way to fix his relationship with Cristina. He would just have to apologize and hope for the best.
After realizing that the water couldn't just wash his problems away, he turned off the shower, dried himself and quickly put some clothes on. Maybe he could try to put his misery into a painting and if he was lucky enough some right words that would solve his problem would come to his mind too. He was just about to pull out a clean canvas and start painting when he heard a light knock on the door.
"Meredith? What are you doing here?" Jackson asked when he saw Meredith standing on his doorstep with rather upset expression on her face.
"Try to guess," she answered sarcastically and walked into his apartment, not waiting for an invitation. Even though she liked Jackson from the day one, after Cristina had told her what happened between them, Meredith didn't feel like being nice to him. But that didn't change the fact that she had something important to talk about with him.
"It's about that fight between me and Cristina, isn't it?" He exactly knew why Meredith was here, yet it still surprised him. The things between him and Cristina were bad right now, but he didn't think Cristina would be the type of woman who would send her best friend to fix things with her boyfriend. "Look, if she sent you here to…"
"She doesn't know I'm here," Meredith interrupted him sooner than he managed to finish the sentence.
"She doesn't?" Jackson raised his eyebrows in surprise and Meredith just shook her head.
"Cristina is too proud and stubborn to talk to you. But she loves you. And unless you don't love her back, you need to sort things out between the two of you. You can't break up with her just because you had a bad fight," she said, crossing her arms. Meredith knew how much it hurt Cristina when Jackson lied to her, but she also knew that them being apart was hurting her even more. And she couldn't let it stay that way if she could help them fix their relationship somehow.
"I did not break up with her. Is that what she thinks?" Jackson asked, worried what Cristina had taken away from their fight. He had no intention of ending their relationship, how could he, he loved her and thought that their fight was just one of the many bumps on the road. "Well the last time I saw her she kicked me out of her apartment. There wasn't much space to talk." Jackson frowned as he remembered the day he last talked to Cristina. He knew it was all his fault and that he was the one who needed to apologize, but he still felt a little aggrieved that Cristina didn't even give him a chance to explain everything to her.
"Well this time you'll need to try a little harder because you have to talk. Soon. She seems to be giving up on your relationship and I don't want her to do that. Even though I think you're an asshole for doing what you did with you… She's been happier than I've ever seen her. So be man enough and stop avoiding her."
"I was not avoiding her!" Jackson exclaimed. "I've been planning to talk to her and apologize ever since it happened. I was just waiting for her to cool down a little. Or perhaps for her to come to me," he added the last sentence in a whisper, knowing it probably sounded stupid. There was no way Cristina would come to him. Especially not since he was the one who made a mistake.
"Oh, you can't be serious," Meredith murmured and rolled her eyes as she listened to Jackson talk. If Jackson really expected Cristina to make the first step, then he was horribly wrong. Apparently someone had to knock some sense into him. Literally.
"Hey! What are you doing?" Jackson asked, rubbing his shoulder when Meredith hit him all of sudden. He had to admit that for such a small person she had a surprisingly strong punch.
"You're an idiot! This is Cristina Yang we're talking about. You can't expect her to come to you., especially not after what you did! No matter how much she misses you. And she also won't just cool down. She will probably yell at you and maybe even hit you. But that's just because she's hurt and she cares about your relationship. So just get your crap together and talk to her already. Because if you don't I'll be the one to hit you." She pointed her finger at him, trying to make a scary expression on her face to make sure Jackson understood she really meant it.
"Already happened," Jackson said with a small grin, acting offended. But he knew Meredith was right. He needed to apologize and he had to do it as soon as possible.
Cristina was never the kind of person who would stay at home from work for no reason. Actually she was usually there more than was needed. But after her fight with Jackson she called in sick, saying she wasn't feeling well. Which wasn't exactly a lie since she felt miserable about what happened. But mostly she just didn't feel like facing Jackson. At least not yet. She was still mad at him, but also mad at herself for not letting him explain what really happened between him and April and why he lied to her. She had to admit she overreacted a little and now she wished she didn't. But it was too late for that now. She didn't know what to do. On one side she was angry and never wanted to talk to him again, but on the other side she missed him and just wanted to forget about everything and continue with their relationship like nothing happened. She wanted to talk to him and sort things out between them, but she was too proud to make the first step. After all he was the one who had to apologize so he needed to come to her. But she was too worried he wouldn't because he realized he would be better off without her.
"Stop thinking like that," Cristina murmured to herself. "He is lucky he ever had the opportunity to be in a relationship with you and that you're still willing to give him a chance after what he did. And if he doesn't take it then it's his lose." Yes, she had to think like that. If he didn't want to fight for her then he didn't deserve her and she would be better off without him. Even though she couldn't imagine that after six months of a happy relationship it could be all over. She lay in her bed, wondering what was going to happen. The only thing she knew was that she had to stop hiding and get back to her life. Even if it meant facing Jackson at work the next day. She was just about to climb out of her bed and order something to eat when she heard knocking on her door.
"Wh- what are you doing here?" Cristina asked as she opened the door and saw Jackson, not hiding that she was surprised to see him. It had been three days since she last saw him and since he hadn't even tried to contact her the whole time, she was worried that after everything that happened between them she may never see him again.
"I came to apologize," he answered simply. "If you let me. Of course."
Cristina stared at him for a second and then stepped away from the door. "Come in," she said and stepped away from the door.
Jackson slowly walked in, wondering how to start the conversation. He tried to plan it all in his head, but once he saw Cristina again he was left speechless. "I was looking for you at work, but they told me you called in sick. Are you alright?" he asked, the concern obvious in his voice.
"I'm okay. Just didn't really feel like facing you just yet, so I stayed home," Cristina admitted, hoping she didn't sound too childish because she was trying to avoid him. "It was also safer for April that I didn't come in contact with her after I found out what she did," she added bitterly and Jackson gave her an apologetic look. Knowing that Cristina avoided going to work because of what he caused made him feel even worse. If that was even possible.
"Well just so you know, you wouldn't run into me. I was kind of avoiding you too. I was worried I would make things worse if I tried to talk to you."
"But you're here now. Aren't you worried everything will be even worse?" Cristina raised her eyebrows.
"I haven't talked to you for three days. Can it get any worse?" he asked and tiny smirk crossed Cristina's face. It really was torture to not see him or talk to him for what seemed like ages to them. They were both quiet for a moment and Jackson knew it was time to do what he came there to do. "I want to apologize. For everything. Lying to you, mostly," he started, taking a deep breath. "I was stupid when I thought that lying was an easy way to avoid unpleasant situations. Now I know that it can only make things worse. Much worse. And while I know my stupidity doesn't apologize my actions, it's the only thing that explains why I thought any of this was a good idea. I'm not expecting you to forgive me and forget about the things I did or said but…" He sighed, not sure what to say next. He couldn't explain why he did what he did. It just seemed right at the moment. And now he knew it wasn't. "Do you really want to throw away everything we had? Everything we have? Just because I'm so utterly stupid?"
"No," Cristina answered without hesitation. She knew she loved Jackson. No matter how mad she was at the moment. And she definitely didn't want to throw their relationship away. She had never been happier in her life than she was with him. So she knew they had to work things out between them. Even though she wasn't sure how. "I'm just still so angry."
"Well then use me as your punching bag. Hit me, kick me, do whatever you want to me. I deserve it. Just please, don't cut me off. I love you and not talking to you is a punishment I can't take. Even though I know I deserve it."
Cristina smiled a little when Jackson said he loved her. She could see he really did mean it and didn't say it just to make things better between them. And she couldn't be that mad at someone who truly loved her, could she? "I'm not gonna hit you. But yes, you really do deserve it," she laughed and Jackson was glad to see that. "You're not the only one who made mistakes. I don't trust people easily, but with you… It was different," Cristina started a little hesitantly. She knew she had to tell him about this one day and now was the ideal moment. Jackson needed to know why she acted the way she did. "We met and I felt like I could tell you anything. That I could trust you. So when I found out you lied to me… I was so mad at you for doing that and at me for trusting you so easily. And when I found out she kissed you…" Cristina stopped for a moment, taking a deep breath. "It just brought way too many bad memories for me to think straight." Jackson gave Cristina a confused look and she knew she couldn't back out now. This was a big part of her past and if they were supposed to get through this, she had to tell him. It was the only way for him to understand her actions completely. Or at least she hoped he would. "This is something I've never told anyone except Meredith so you need to promise me you'll keep it to yourself."
"Of course." Jackson nodded, anxious to find out what Cristina was about to tell him.
"I don't really like talking about this, but you should know so long story short. I was engaged once. To a man I thought I loved. And I thought he loved me back. Until I came home early one day and found him having sex with my colleague. A woman that I thought was my friend and who was lying to my face for weeks. I have never felt more humiliated," she whispered the last few words, feeling the tears form in the corners of her eyes.
"Oh, my God. I'm sorry. I had no idea," Jackson said, taking Cristina's hand into his and giving it a squeeze. Suddenly he understood Cristina's behavior when she found out that he lied to her and that April kissed him. It must have brought all the painful memories from her previous relationship and he felt terrible for causing that.
"You don't need to feel sorry for me. You didn't know. I just want you to understand why I acted like that when I found out that you had lied to me. I don't want to be the crazy jealous girlfriend who is making your life a living hell," she said and quickly wiped a tear that rolled down her cheek. "I'm sorry I overacted and threw you out of my apartment. I guess I should've talked to you before jumping to consequences. But you need to understand that…"
"It's okay. I'm sorry I gave you a reason to doubt me. And I'm sorry I lied to you. It was a stupid thing to do. And I'll do my best to never make it happen again. I swear."
"I think we both made some mistakes. And I will understand if you don't want to have anything to do with me now when you know about this," she murmured, avoiding the eye contact. As much as she loved Jackson, she didn't want him to stay with her if her baggage was too much for him. So she was giving him an easy way out.
"Don't be silly. If this story did anything to me, then it just made me understand you better. It takes far more to scare me away," Jackson said with a smile as he lifted Cristina's chin, making her look into his eyes.
"So… Are we okay again?" Cristina asked hesitantly. She knew she wanted to be with Jackson. More than anything. But despite what he just said she would still understand if after everything that happened between them he chose to break up with her.
"Do you want to?" Jackson asked and Cristina nodded. There was nothing she wanted more than to get her relationship with Jackson back to normal. Even though she wouldn't forget about their fight anytime soon. "Then I'll be the happiest person on the earth." He smiled and leaned over to give her a soft kiss on the lips, before pulling her into a hug and promising himself to never let her go again.