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.
Almost a month had passed since Cristina and Jackson reunited and their relationship seemed to be back to normal. They decided not to talk about the incident with April and just move past it even though none of them could forget about it. Working together was still a little awkward for all three of them, but they tried to keep it professional.
"My mum called me yesterday. She's coming to town for a few days because of work and she would also like to use this opportunity meet you," Jackson announced during breakfast one morning, trying to sound casual. He knew that Cristina meeting his mother for the first time was a big deal, but he didn't want to scare her.
"She's what?" Cristina asked, almost choking on her cereal when Jackson said his mother wanted to meet her. They had been together for over half a year and she knew it was going to happen at some point, but she still felt surprised. And she also didn't understand how could Jackson look so calm while telling her something like that. Wasn't it scary as hell for him too? "Are you- Are you sure it's not too soon?"
Jackson saw the sudden panic in Cristina's eyes and he took her hand into his, trying to comfort her. "I know it seems a bit rushed, especially since we haven't talked about meeting each other's parents yet, but I think it's about time. And I couldn't say no to my mother since she's coming here anyway. But trust me, it's gonna be okay." He smiled, trying to reassure both him and Cristina that the meeting with his mum was going to be alright.
He had never introduced any of his girlfriends to his parents because he was worried they would scare them away, but it was different with Cristina. He loved her more than he loved anyone before and he knew he wanted to spend his future with her so she was probably going to meet his parents anyway. And the sooner it happened, the better. Of course he was worried that for some reason his mother wouldn't like Cristina or that she would scare her by asking way too many questions or being rude to her, but he hoped it was all going to be okay in the end.
"Well I need to warn you that I don't have the best experience with meeting parents. For an unknown reason they find me hard to like," Cristina said as she remembered the few meetings with her boyfriends' parents she went through.
"Hard to like?" Jackson raised his eyebrows. "How could anyone not like you? I admit you can be a bit stubborn but when you want you are also the sweetest and most wonderful person I know."
"I don't know. They're morons," Cristina muttered and blushed a little at Jackson's compliment. They had been together for several months but his sweet words still made her smile as though it was the first time he said something like that to her. And she loved that. Even though she wouldn't admit it out-loud.
Jackson laughed and continued. "Well what about your mum? Don't you want her to meet me?" he asked. Jackson noticed that Cristina rarely mentioned her mother and he wondered whether she even knew that her daughter was dating someone.
"No," Cristina answered immediately. The idea of Jackson meeting her mother had never crossed her mind and she knew it was because she didn't want it to happen anytime soon. If ever.
"Why? Are you embarrassed of me?" Jackson asked acting offended.
"No, I'm embarrassed of her. My dad is pretty cool though." Cristina smiled at the mention of her father. Even though she and her mother had a complicated relationship, she got along well with her father. She hoped that once Jackson met him her father would approve.
"Does it mean I'm never gonna meet them?" Jackson assumed that Cristina wasn't that close to her parents, but as scary as it seemed, he knew he wanted to meet them sooner or later.
"Not until the wedding day," Cristina let said without thinking, realizing what she let slip out when it was too late to take it back.
"Did you just say wedding day?" Jackson asked in a mocking tone, raising his eyebrows in surprise.
"No," Cristina mumbled, her eyes glued to the bowl of cereal and her cheeks getting red. She couldn't believe she said that. Not that she had never thought about future with Jackson, but this really wasn't the best way to share her thoughts with him.
"You're already thinking about us getting married? That's so cute," Jackson said with a smirk, teasing her some more, but on the inside he couldn't be happier about what Cristina just said. He knew it was something that left her mouth without thinking, but it felt even better. "But even though I really do love you and want to marry you someday, don't you think it's a little soon to discuss our guest list?"
"I didn't mean to say that," Cristina whispered, still feeling a little embarrassed. "I wanted to say that if you ever get to meet my mother it will be after we get married. If we ever happen to get married. Because I don't want her to make you run away."
"There is nothing that would make me run away from you." Jackson smiled and gave Cristina a kiss. "And I hope you feel the same way, because meeting my mum probably won't be easy."
"I've been through several disastrous and embarrassing meetings with parents. This can't be much worse," Cristina said, trying to stay positive about the meeting with Jackson's mother.
"I'm glad you're optimistic, but I need to warn you that my mum will probably give you a lot of personal questions. But you don't need to answer them if you don't want to. Don't let her sharp lawyer attitude scare you."
"Don't worry about me. I think I can handle a little chat with one meddling mother." Cristina grinned, trying to hide the fact that she was a bit nervous about meeting Jackson's mum. She didn't have the best experience when it came to meeting het boyfriends' parents. During her high school and college years it was mostly awkward, but once she was in more serious relationships the meetings with parents got more serious too.
And not in a good way. But she was sure she went through the worst possible scenario with Burke's mum. Not only was she mean to her when they were together, but when Cristina broke off the engagement with Burke after she found out he was cheating on her, his mother came to her telling her how disappointed she was in her and how she broke her son's heart. So Jackson's mother couldn't be worse than that.
"I really hope so."
"Ready to go?" Jackson asked as he walked into Cristina's office. It had been a few days since he told her that his mother would be coming to Seattle and today was the day they were supposed to meet up for lunch.
"How do I look?" Cristina asked instead of an answer as she finished putting on her lipstick. She was wearing dark pants and a red blouse that was perfectly matching her red lipstick. Usually she wore jeans and a T-shirt to work, but today she wanted to impress Jackson's mother and look the best she possibly could without looking like she tried too hard.
"Gorgeous as usual." Jackson smiled and gave her a light kiss on the cheek, not wanting to ruin her makeup.
"I need to look better than usually. I'm sure your mother will look all fancy schmancy and I don't want her to think I'm not good looking enough for her dear son." Cristina murmured, looking at her clothes once again and wondering whether she could've worn something better.
"What happened to the always confident Cristina Yang?" Jackson asked with a chuckle.
"I guess she's a bit more nervous than she thought she would be," Cristina said, blushing a little. She didn't like admitting that she was nervous, but she couldn't hide it. Meeting Jackson's mother was a big step in their relationship and she was worried she would screw it up somehow.
When Jackson saw the insecurity in Cristina's eyes, he took her hands into his, giving her an encouraging smile. "Look at it this way. I love you and nothing that my mother does or says will change it. You can't lose anything except for a bit of your time so there is no need to be worried."
"I hope you're right." Cristina sighed and together they left the office.
Only a couple of minutes later they arrived to a nearby restaurant where they were supposed to meet Jackson's mother. They asked a waiter for their table and he announced them that Catherine was already there.
"Hey," Jackson said as they walked towards the table where his mother was sitting. "I hope you hadn't been waiting for too long." He gave her a kiss on the cheek and smiled.
"Well hello." Catherine smiled back at her son. It had been a couple of months since she last saw him and she immediately noticed how happy he looked. "Don't worry I only arrived a few minutes before you did." She waved her hand as it was not a big deal and then she noticed Cristina who was quietly standing next to Jackson. "You must be Cristina. Just as beautiful as Jackson said." Catherine greeted Cristina with a huge smile and gave her a light hug. "I'm so glad to finally meet you."
Cristina was surprised by Catherine's friendliness, but she couldn't complain. "It's nice to meet you too Mrs. Avery."
Jackson watched the two of his favorite women greet and he hoped they would stay this nice to each other for the rest of the lunch, but he knew that behind his mother's sweet smile there were many curious and personal questions she was going to ask Cristina and he was worried that may scare her. It was one of the reasons why he didn't want any of his previous girlfriends to meet his mother. She was usually way too nosey and he was afraid it may affect his relationship in a bad way. But it was different with Cristina. Despite being together for just a little over half a year he felt like she really might be the one. And he hoped that Catherine's behavior wouldn't do any harm to their relationship or perhaps make her realize that it was a little too much for her to handle at the moment.
"So, Cristina, tell me something about you. Where did you grow up? What do you like to do? I want to get to know you better," Catherine asked the second they sat down and Jackson rolled his eyes. He knew that it wouldn't take his mother too long before she would start interrogating Cristina, but he hoped she could keep the questions to herself at least until they ordered their food.
Cristina didn't like talking about herself very much, but Jackson warned her that his mother would ask her a lot so she wasn't surprised. "Well," Cristina started hesitantly not being sure what to say to satisfy Catherine. She didn't think her life was that interesting. At least not compared to the life of a successful lawyer. "I grew up in California and moved here to study economics at a university. I always loved art, especially photography but my parents wanted me to do something that would give me more certainty. But I guess it wasn't meant to be since I ended up taking photos for living anyway."
"Oh, Jackson never mentioned you took the road of art too. He said you work in a magazine," Catherine said, glaring at her son for not telling her the truth about Cristina's job. She didn't understand why he had the need to lie to her. It was not like she would hate Cristina just because she was an artist.
"Well…" Cristina wanted to tell Catherine that she really did work in a magazine, but Jackson interrupted her.
"My mum doesn't think that anything that has something to do with art is a proper job," he explained. Jackson knew his mother still didn't completely accept that he didn't become a lawyer as she wanted him to. It was the reason why he never told her what Cristina was doing for a living and he hoped his mother wouldn't judge Cristina for following her dream to become a photographer. After all if it wasn't for her photos they would probably never have met each other.
"I never said that. But art is not something you can rely on. You might be a popular artist one day, but the next day something new comes and nobody is interested in you anymore," Catherine said. She knew it seemed like she disapproved of the way of life that Jackson and Cristina took, but she just wanted the best for her son. And she was worried that his dream to become a famous artist wouldn't come true.
Jackson was just about to say something to stop his mother from bashing art some more when a waiter came to their table, asking for their orders and Cristina couldn't be more grateful. She could feel that the discussion between Catherine and Jackson was heating up a little and the lunch hadn't even started properly. She was afraid what would happen if it continued this way.
Thankfully by the time the waiter took their orders the discussion about art was already forgotten but for Catherine it meant it was time for more questions. In the next thirty minutes she asked Cristina everything there was about her job, family, her relationship with Jackson and pretty much anything she could think of. Jackson tried to stop her several times, but Catherine successfully ignored him.
When the waiter finally brought the food Cristina was hoping it would mean the questions time was over. And while Catherine was a lady and knew that talking with full mouth was inappropriate it didn't mean she couldn't spend the time making up a bunch of questions to ask Cristina once they had finished their food. Cristina was glad for the silence while they were eating, but deep down she could feel that Catherine wasn't done yet. Jackson was right when he warned that there would be many personal questions, but she hoped he was just exaggerating. Unfortunately he wasn't and his mother really had prepared a lot of questions for her. If it was someone else Cristina would ended the conversation a long time ago, but since she wanted to impress Catherine and show her that she was the right person for her son, she silently suffered through the lunch.
"Well what about kids?" Catherine asked after the waiter took their plates away. "Are you planning to have some?"
"Mum!" Jackson tried to stop her once again. He and Cristina had never talked about the possibility of having kids one day. He wasn't even sure if he was made to be a father. So he didn't want his mother to bring up the question and push Cristina into answering it before they talked about it. But Catherine wouldn't give up easily.
"What? I just want to know whether there is a chance that my only son and his girlfriend will ever give me grandchildren. It's not like I'm pushing you two into it."
"You don't need to answer that," Jackson told Cristina to not make her feel obliged to answer to such a personal question. Even though he was dying to know her answer.
"It's okay," Cristina said. She had to admit that the idea of kids never really crossed her mind. Or at least she never bothered with it. She had never been in a relationship that would be serious enough to make her think about kids. Well except the one with Burke. But surprisingly even though they were engaged, they never talked about it. As if they knew that their relationship was going to fall apart anyway. "I'm not sure kids are in the cards for me at the moment. And I think it's too soon to talk about that. But I'm not dismissing the possibility of having kids one day. We'll have to wait and see."
"Well I'm glad to hear that you're considering it," Catherine said with a smile. "It would be good to have someone to continue the work in our company in the future since Jackson doesn't seem to be interested in that."
Cristina's breath stuck in her throat when she heard the last sentence. She wasn't even sure whether she wanted kids and Catherine was already planning for them to take over her company? All of sudden it felt too much and Cristina was actually starting to freak out. She didn't want the fate of her hypothetical children to be decided before they were even born.
But Catherine ignored the panicked look on Cristina's face. There were still so many questions she wanted to ask her before the lunch was over. "Well what about your previous relationships? Have you ever been married? Or perhaps engaged?" Catherine asked nonchalantly before taking a sip of her wine.
Cristina shot Jackson an alarmed look when Catherine asked her the question. She didn't have many relationships before she met Jackson. There was nothing she would have to be ashamed of. But talking about her relationship with Burke with someone she barely knew was not something she wanted to do. After all it took her a few months to be able to tell Jackson about it.
"Mum, this is really not appropriate," Jackson said when he saw the look that Cristina gave him. He really didn't want her to be any more uncomfortable than she already was. Even though his attempts to stop his mother's nosey questions were pretty much pointless since she ignored them.
"Oh, c'mon. I'm not asking her about any details. It's not a crime to be a little curious, is it?" Catherine answered in a sweet tone and turned to Cristina, waiting for her answer. To be honest, Catherine wasn't interested in Cristina's previous partners. And she knew it was none of her business. She just wanted to find out how Cristina would react to that question and whether she shared that part of her past with Jackson or not.
"I uh…" Cristina started, hesitating about what she should say when suddenly she felt her phone buzzing in her purse. "I'm sorry. It's from work. I better take it," she said as she looked at the display and saw Meredith's name on it. She knew Meredith probably wasn't calling her because of work but they were colleagues so it wasn't a complete lie either. And at the moment she would take anything to get away from Catherine for at least a little while.
"What are you doing?" Jackson asked when Cristina walked away from the table, feeling embarrassed for his mother and her behavior. "I can see that you don't like her but it doesn't mean you have to be mean and ask her so many personal questions. Can't you see she feels uncomfortable?"
"Who said I don't like her?" Catherine answered with a chuckle.
"You certainly don't make it seem like you do," Jackson said in slightly annoyed tone. Wasn't his mother realizing that Cristina wasn't comfortable when she kept asking her questions she didn't need to know answers to?
"Oh, please. Don't be fooled by my behavior. I think she is a wonderful woman and she really does love you. How could I not like her?" Catherine asked, as if oblivious of how she acted towards Cristina in the past hour.
"But…" Jackson felt confused. If Catherine liked Cristina, then why was she acting the way she did?
"I'm just testing her. If she didn't truly love you, she wouldn't suffer through my attempts to torture her and she would surely say something. But she stayed quiet to make sure the mother of the man she loves likes her," she explained as though it was not a big deal and took another sip of her wine.
"So all of this is just to test her? To see whether she really loves me?" he asked, making sure he understood his mother correctly. He didn't know whether to be relieved that his mother didn't hate Cristina or terrified that she did all of this just to test her.
"Yes." Catherine nodded. "And she's doing more than well."
"This is crazy." Jackson shook his head, not believing his mother could come up with something like this. "You have to stop and tell her the truth."
"But I'm not done yet," Catherine protested.
"Yes, you are. When she comes back you'll tell her everything and apologize. Are we clear?" Jackson tried to keep his voice down, but he was getting angry. He couldn't believe his mother played with Cristina like that.
"Okay." Catherine sighed. She didn't plan to reveal that it was all just a game until she was about to leave, but it seemed like it meant a lot to Jackson. And she would do anything for her son. "It seems like you just proved how much you love her too."
"I do. I really do."
"Thanks God you're calling, Meredith," Cristina said as soon as she picked up the phone, hoping she was far enough from the table for Catherine to hear her. "Is there something going on at work?"
"I'm not calling because of work. I just thought that maybe you could use a phone call that could help you escape if the meeting with Jackson's mother was bad. And from the tone of your voice I assume it's not going that well."
"Well thanks for that. I really wish I could just vanish and pretend this meeting never happened, but I'm afraid that if I left it wouldn't make the situation any better." Cristina sighed. She really wanted to get away from Catherine and her never ending questions, but she didn't want to look like a coward.
"Is it that bad?" Meredith asked. Luckily for her Derek's mother had always been nice and polite to her so she couldn't sympathize with Cristina very well, but she would at least try.
"Depends on whether you think that your boyfriend's mother asking you about your previous relationships or the possibility of you two having kids is bad. But I think it is pretty horrible."
"Oh, that doesn't sound like fun."
"Trust me, it isn't. But I want to impress her and show her that I'm good enough for her son. I can't tell her that it's none of her business to ask me that." Cristina bit her lip, wondering whether there was a way to stop Catherine from asking about all this personal stuff without being rude.
"What about Jackson? How does he react to that?" Meredith asked, hoping that Cristina's boyfriend wasn't on his mother's side.
"Well he's trying to back me up and stop his mother when she's getting too personal, but it's not really working. That woman is tough. No wonder she's such a good lawyer. Everybody admits to their crimes the second she looks at them," she added jokingly.
Meredith laughed. "That's gonna be hard then. Just try to stay polite and only tell her what is necessary. Eventually she'll run out of questions."
"I hope you're right. Because I don't know how long I'll be able to take this. But I guess I better get back to them so it's not too suspicious. I'll talk to you later. Bye." Cristina took a deep breath and slowly walked back to the table where Jackson and his mother were waiting for her.
"Anything important?" Jackson asked when Cristina sat down again.
"Not really." Cristina shook her head. She knew it would be easier to say that something came up at work and she had to leave, but she didn't want to seem like a coward. She could face Jackson's mum for a little longer, couldn't she?
"Well in that case my mother would like to tell you something."
Cristina raised her eyebrows, not knowing what to expect. "Okay."
Catherine took a deep breath, hoping Cristina wouldn't be mad at her once she found out the truth. But it probably couldn't be worse than it already was. "I want to apologize. It was none of my business to ask you all those things and I know that. But I didn't do it because I would hate you. I just wanted to make sure that you really love my son. And since you managed to bear with me, I assume you do. But I guess that I got a bit carried away with all those questions and I admit I pushed it a bit too far. It's none of my business to ask about your past relationship or whether you two will have children. And of course it's not up to me to decide what your children will do in the future. I'm sorry for that."
Cristina's jaw dropped a little as she listened to Catherine. She wasn't sure what to think. On one side she felt incredibly relieved when she found out that Catherine didn't really hate her, but on the other side if it really was just a game it felt a bit cruel. "So this whole thing was just to see whether I'm good enough for Jackson?" Cristina asked still a little confused.
"Pretty much. But let me tell you that you did more than well. You don't seem to get scared easily and it also looks like you really love my son and he couldn't have picked a better woman." She smiled at Cristina, hoping she would forgive her for her little cruel trick. "I really hope he's treating you well because you deserve that."
"I do love him." Cristina smiled at Jackson and took his hand into hers. "And he's been nothing but good to me. You raised a really great person."
"I'm pleased to hear that." Catherine's smile widened. "And so you know I'm sorry for my behavior, you can ask me anything you want to know about Jackson that he didn't want to share with you. I'll tell you every embarrassing little detail about his life."
"Mum, do you really want her to run away? You can't do this to me." Jackson protested, not wanting his mother to embarrass him in front of his girlfriend.
"Don't be a wimp. It can't be that bad, can it?" Cristina asked with a grin.
"Oh, trust me. It is," Catherine laughed. "So where do we start?"
"I still can't get over the fact how you mother played with me today," Cristina said as she dried the last plate from the dinner and put it into a kitchen cabinet in Jackson's apartment. "I really thought she hated me."
"Me neither. I'm so sorry you had to go through that. When I said that she was going to ask you personal questions I didn't think she would take it that far. But I'm glad it was just a game. Even though it was quite cruel," Jackson said as he wrapped his arms around Cristina and pulled her closer to him. "But she did come up with some interesting questions."
"For example?" Cristina cocked her eyebrows, not knowing which question was Jackson talking about. She didn't find any of the questions interesting. More like way too personal.
"The one about kids," he answered simply and carefully watched Cristina's reaction to make sure she didn't feel uncomfortable that he brought up that question again. "I've never been thinking about kids much, but I actually like the idea of a tiny version of you running around here."
"It doesn't sound that bad." Cristina admitted with a smile. As she told his mother, she wasn't sure kids were it for her at the moment. But one day… One day she could imagine having a happy little family with Jackson. "But I'd rather not share you with anyone for a while." She winked at him and pulled him closer to kiss him, but just a second after their lips met Cristina's phone started ringing. "Oh, not now," she groaned as she reluctantly pulled away from Jackson and went to get her phone.
While Cristina talked to whoever it was on the other side of the line, Jackson finished cleaning up the kitchen. "Who was that?" he asked curiously when Cristina hung up, noticing the strange expression on her face.
"My cousin. She works for this company that makes calendars, brochures and stuff like that. They're looking for a photographer for their new project so she offered me the job. It's something like when I was in Africa before."
"That's awesome, Cristina," Jackson said with a huge smile. He wasn't sure what exactly was the offer Cristina had just gotten about, but he was sure it was a big opportunity for her as a photographer.
"Well this time they need photos of Europe, but I'm not sure I'm gonna take that job," she said, biting her lip.
"What? Why not?" Jackson raised his eyebrows, not understanding why Cristina wouldn't want to take such an amazing job offer.
"I'd have to leave for six months."