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.
“Six months?” Jackson asked, making sure he had heard her properly. It couldn’t be right, could it? Six months was too long. Way too long for them to be apart.
“Yeah.” Cristina nodded. The look on her face was saying that she wasn’t all that happy about the offer she had received either. Not that she didn’t want to go. She did. Europe was a place she had always wanted to visit and deep down she knew she was waiting for an offer like this. But leaving, what seemed like a perfect life, for so long scared her. And she wasn’t sure she could do it.
“That’s a long time,” Jackson said, still trying to process the information that his girlfriend was going to leave for half a year.
“I know,” she whispered, staring at her feet, “But I don’t think I’m gonna take the offer so what’s the matter?”
“What? No, you have to take it. It could be a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Jackson exclaimed. Even though he didn’t like the thought of not being with Cristina for so long, he knew it was an amazing opportunity for her and there was no way he would let her turn it down.
“But it’s half a year. I- I can’t leave for that long, can I?” She finally looked up a little surprised that Jackson didn’t even try to stop her from going. Wasn’t he realizing how long they would have to be apart? Wouldn’t he miss her?
“Cristina.” Jackson stepped closer to her, before taking her hands into his and looking deep into her eyes. “You need to do this for yourself. Because if you don’t, you may regret it one day. And I don’t want you to do that. And while it will be a torture for me not to be with you for so long, you need to give it a go.”
Cristina bit her lip, thinking about what Jackson said. She knew he was right and that if she didn’t take the opportunity, she would probably regret it one day, but at the same time there was something she couldn’t quite describe that was holding her back. “You could always come with me,” she suggested after a while, looking at him with hope in her eyes.
“I wish I could but…”
“But?” Cristina raised her eyebrows, wondering what could be so important that Jackson couldn’t go with her. She knew that he had life other than her in Seattle too and he couldn’t just drop it, but if he really wanted he could come with her, right? Or was she too selfish when she thought that?
“I kind of got an offer too,” he explained, rubbing the back of his neck as he avoided the eye contact with Cristina. Even though there was no reason, he felt a little guilty. “There is a rich and probably quite important guy and he asked me to make a set of paintings for some sort of charity thing he’s organizing. But they have to be finished in the next few months. And I know that it probably sounds a bit selfish, but it could be a big opportunity for me. So I can’t just leave now.”
“Wow, that’s amazing.” A huge smiled spread on Cristina face, making her forget about her own offer for a second. She knew that Jackson had been waiting for an opportunity like this for a long time and she wouldn’t forgive herself if he gave it up for her. “It’s not selfish. This is a big opportunity for you. But why didn’t you tell me sooner?”
“I don’t know. I guess I wanted to be hundred percent sure before I told anyone.” Jackson shrugged. “But it looks like it’s really gonna work out,” he said as a tiny smile appeared on his face.
“I’m so happy for you.” Cristina wrapped her arms around Jackson’s waist and gave him a peck on the lips, smiling proudly.
“I’m happy for you too,” Jackson said as he lightly stroked Cristina’s cheek, wondering how he could function without her for half a year. As much as he loved painting, she brought a whole new kind of joy to his life. The kind he had never experienced before.
“So it means you can’t come with me,” Cristina whispered, the sadness apparent in her voice again.
“As much as I’d want to, I can’t. I need to do this for myself. I don’t want to wake up one day and regret that I didn’t. That wouldn’t do our relationship any good. And that’s why you need to take the offer too, because you never know when the next one will come.”
“I know.” Cristina sighed and rested her head against Jackson’s chest, quietly listening to his heartbeat as if it could tell her what to do. “But what about us?” she asked after a moment of silence.
“If you’re asking whether I will still love you even though you’re on a different continent, the answer is yes. And I know it’s gonna be hard, but we can make it through. After all, what’s six months when we have many many years ahead of us.” A small smile appeared on Jackson’s face as he thought of his possible future with Cristina. He knew the following months were going to be difficult for both of them, but he believed their relationship was strong enough to handle it.
“So you really think it can work even if I leave?” she asked as she looked up at him, the worried expression still not leaving her face.
“If you want to, we will make it work.”
“I do. I really do.”
That night Cristina kept tossing and turning in her bed, thinking about the offer and not being able to fall asleep. She knew that Jackson was right and that it was an amazing opportunity for her. She would be paid for travelling around Europe and that was many people’s dream. But she wasn’t sure if she could do it. Of course she already went to one of those travels before when she was in Africa, but that was different. Back then she just broke off her engagement with Burke and she had no work or place to live. So when her cousin offered her to go away for half a year to a different continent there was nothing holding her back. But it was different this time. Now she had a great job, an amazing boyfriend, a bunch of friends who cared about her and she wasn’t sure whether going away and risking losing all of this would be worth it.
“Still thinking about the offer?” Jackson mumbled sleepily. He couldn’t shut his brain off so even though he was really tired he couldn’t fall asleep. And apparently neither could Cristina.
"I'm sorry. I didn't want to wake you," Cristina apologized. She really didn’t want to bother Jackson with all her worries. But he knew her too well so she couldn’t hide it from him either.
"That's okay, I can't fall asleep and clearly neither can you," Jackson said and pulled Cristina closer to him. “Tell me what’s bothering you.”
"How could I?" Cristina sighed, not knowing what to start with. "I just... I don't know what to do."
"I told you my opinion. I think you should go for it."
"But I'm scared," she murmured and bit her lip. She hated admitting that she was scared of something. But it was true.
"Of what?" Jackson asked surprised. He had never heard Cristina say that she was scared of something.
"That I'll lose everything. That I'll become one of those people who don't appreciate how good their life is and they try to make it better just to ruin everything. I don’t want that to happen to me.” She blurted out quickly, avoiding looking into Jackson’s eyes. She knew she was probably overacting and that maybe her trip to Europe wouldn’t change anything, but she couldn’t shake off the feeling that it may ruin all the things she managed to build for herself in the past few years.
“Well I don’t know about the other things, but you will definitely not lose me,” he whispered, softly stroking Cristina’s cheek and she snuggled closer to him. Cristina knew that Jackson loved her and that he was willing to wait for her to come back, but she still felt like it was going to be harder than they thought. “And we can still skype every day, I’ll tell you about everything that’s going on. It’ll be like you’re here,” Jackson said, trying to sound as optimistic as he could be. He knew it had to be difficult for Cristina to just leave everything for half a year, but he was sure that once she came back everything would be the same like before. If not better.
Cristina didn’t say anything for a few minutes, thinking about what Jackson said. Maybe he was right. She wasn’t leaving forever. It was not like she would never see him or her friends again. “I must sound ridiculous now,” she murmured into his chest, slowly starting to regret that she started the conversation. “And selfish.”
“No, you don’t. You’re allowed to say you like things the way they are right now. And there is nothing wrong about worrying that you will lose the things you love. But in this case you really don’t need to worry about that.” He pressed a soft kiss to Cristina’s temple, trying to comfort her. He understood why she felt scared of leaving for such a long time, but he tried to assure her that there was no need for that. “Instead of thinking about the bad things that this trip may bring, try to think about the good ones. For example if it wasn't for your trip in Africa and the photos you took there we may have never met each other. So this time it may result into something amazing too.” Jackson smiled, trying to find something positive about Cristina’s upcoming trip. “I just hope it won't be meeting another man," he added with laugh, but on the inside he was worried about all the men that were surely going to approach Cristina during the time she was going to be away.
“I already have my guy here. So even if I met one, he doesn’t stand a chance.” Cristina smiled at Jackson and softly kissed him. She loved how he could make every situation look better. Of course she was still a little worried about how her leaving to Europe would affect her life once she came back, but knowing that Jackson was positive about it made her feel much better.
“I’m pleased to hear that. Because I don’t know how I could deal with you getting together with some European guy.” Jackson scrunched his nose at the thought of Cristina being with someone else rather than him and she laughed.
“I love my American guy way too much to do that,” Cristina said as she wrapped her arms around Jackson and rested her head on his chest.
“I love you too,” Jackson mumbled and a few minutes later, they both fell asleep in a tight embrace.
In the following two weeks, Cristina and Jackson tried to spend as much time together as possible. The day of Cristina’s leaving kept getting closer but neither of them really talked about it. They tried to enjoy going out for dinners and then making love every night. But even though they tried to avoid thinking about it, they both knew it was a form of saying good bye.
It was a day before Cristina was supposed to leave and she just finished talking to the woman who was going sub for her in the following six months. Cristina hoped the young woman was going to be a good substitute for her during that time, but not too good to take over her job even after she came back.
“So what do you think about her?” Jackson asked when Cristina walked out of her office.
“She’s okay.” Cristina shrugged her shoulders, not being sure what to say. “Not as good as I am, but she’ll do while I’m gone.”
“Oh, how I’m gonna miss the self-esteem when you’re gone,” Jackson said and wrapped his arm around Cristina’s waist as they walked down the hallway.
“Is that all you’re gonna miss?” Cristina pouted and raised her eyebrows.
“You know there is much, much more,” Jackson whispered as he leaned over to kiss her. He couldn’t put into words how much he was going to miss her, but he didn’t want to bother with it until it was completely necessary. He wanted to enjoy the last few moments he had left with Cristina before she would have to leave the next day.
“Have you seen Meredith? I wanted to talk to her and say goodbye in case I won’t have time to see her tomorrow, but I can’t find her anywhere.” Cristina asked when Jackson pulled away, wondering where her best friend was when she needed her. There was no way she would leave without saying goodbye to her so why was she making it so difficult for her?
“I haven’t seen her.” Jackson shrugged. “Have you tried looking in the conference room?”
“Why would she be in the conference room?” Cristina gave him a confused look.
“I don’t know. Just try,” he said and lightly pushed her down the hallway to the conference room. Cristina still didn’t understand what he was doing, but she assumed she could at least take a look. And if Meredith wasn’t there she would have to call her. But there was no way she was leaving without saying a proper goodbye to her.
“This better not be just a way to make me have sex with you at work. We’ve been over this and it can’t happen again. We could both get in trouble for that,” Cristina murmured as she walked down the hall, wondering where all her friends and colleagues were. “By the way where is everyone?” she asked. “I’m not saying I want people to cry because I’m leaving for a few months, but a simple “We’ll miss you here.” wouldn’t hurt.” Jackson just gave Cristina another shrug and followed her.
“Surprise!” everyone in the room yelled once Cristina opened the door to the conference room and her jaw dropped a little in surprise.
“Wh- What is this?” Cristina asked confused when she saw everyone in the room cheering and clapping. Of course she knew what all those people were doing there, but she couldn’t believe it was true. Not after she just complained that nobody was there to say goodbye to her. But not it was all starting to make sense.
“It’s a goodbye party,” Meredith explained with a huge smile. “Well you’re not leaving forever so it’s not really a goodbye party. More like a ‘see you later’ party.”
“Just when I thought that nobody wanted to say goodbye to me,” Cristina whispered, blinking a few times to stop the tears from building in her eyes. She had never been the kind of person who would get emotional about gestures like this, but when she saw that all her friends and coworkers gathered to make a party and say goodbye to her, she had hard time holding her tears back.
“Oh, don’t be silly. There is no way we would let you leave without saying a proper goodbye to you.” Meredith laughed as she pulled her best friend in for a hug and for once Cristina didn’t mind at all.
“Wait, did you know about this?” Cristina asked when she pulled away from Meredith, turning back to Jackson.
“Of course I knew. Why do you think I brought you to the conference room?” Jackson laughed and wrapped his arms around Cristina, pressing a light kiss to her lips.
“Well at least that explains your strange behavior.” She grinned at him.
“Now that’s clear, let’s have some fun,” Meredith said and grabbed Cristina’s hand, pulling her towards the rest of their colleagues. They definitely needed to make the day memorable.
“I can’t believe they gave you the gate pass just like that.” Cristina laughed as Jackson walked her to the boarding gate. It was the day of her leaving and the time she had left in Seattle was getting much shorter with every minute she spent at the airport. “I thought you needed a special reason for that.”
“Well, what can I say? Looking good does have its benefits.” Jackson grinned at her. He knew that he and Cristina only had a few minutes together left before she would leave to the other side of the country and he was trying to enjoy every second of it. Even if he had to use his good looks to get him the gate pass so he could walk Cristina to the plane as close as possible. “And I would do anything to be with you for a tiny bit longer,” he added with a sad smile.
“So I guess this is it. The final goodbye.” Cristina sighed, the sadness apparent in her voice. Sure, she was excited to see Europe, but the last couple of months she spent with Jackson were some of the happiest months in her life and she couldn’t imagine what it was going to be like without him by her side.
“It will be better than we think. You’ll see,” Jackson tried to reassure her and pulled her into a tight long hug. “I love you, Cristina. That’s one thing that’s never gonna change no matter where you are,” he whispered before pulling away slightly and stroking her cheek with his thumb.
“I love you too,” Cristina replied fighting with the tears that were forming in the back of her eyes. They stood there in silence for a few minutes, just staring at each other and enjoying each other’s presence before Jackson leaned over, capturing Cristina’s lips with his. She immediately responded and the kiss quickly turned from slow and soft to passionate and full of emotions they weren’t able to put into words. They completely lost track of time and if it wasn’t for the voice that was telling the passengers of Cristina’s flight to get on the plane, they probably wouldn’t pull away from each other anytime soon.
“I guess I really have to go now,” Cristina said breathlessly as she pulled away from Jackson, blinking a few times to stop the tears in her eyes from falling.
“Yeah, I guess.” Jackson sighed, not wanting to let go off her just yet, but he knew he had no choice. “Take care of yourself,” he said, trying to put an encouraging smile on his face. “And call me once you get there.”
“I will.” Cristina took one more glance of Jackson before she turned around, walking towards the gate. It is going to be a difficult six months. She thought as a tear rolled down her cheek.