A/N: Shout out this week to joan .goldman .9! Your reviews fuel the urge for me to answer all your questions, and have actually made me properly think about my answers and the ways it will affect my characters, so thank you for that.
I did have the unfortunate experience of receiving a negative guest review on this story… because I reviewed someone else's story. Purely because I said that I love seeing other pairings written about on this platform. There is only so much one can do with Christian and Ana, and as much as we love them, there's a lot to be discovered with the other characters as well.
So, I'm sorry to the poor reviewer who left it, but we can't all get what we want all of the time… bye bye now.
And, on with the show. Leave a review if you can!
The Lines That Cross - Chapter 15.
"WHETON. AT THE HOSPITAL, her name was Arabelle Wheton." Ana explains, her mind working at a million miles an hour.
"There is and was evidence to suggest that he was living under an alias with that name, yes." Carrick answers her.
"What else do you know about him?" She asks.
"I need to know the monster who fathered my daughter, Christian. I need to know if he hurt her or not." Ana bites and I nod, unsure.
Shouldn't she be a wreck right now? Throwing and smashing things, yelling and screaming? She seems too calm, too collected for anything good to come out of this conversation.
"We know that he was involved for a time, with the ring your father dismantled. His preference wasn't as young as Arabelle, so I believe she's right when she says he never touched her there. Her other injuries, the ones that have left more physical scars, yes… yes, he's responsible for them."
My anger spikes into rage at the thought of a defenceless Arabelle being subjected to a monster like Livston, my body shuddering at thought of a hand being raised towards her. Then, then I remember Ana being subjected to the same treatment, and that just escalates everything.
It takes all my self-control to not do what Ana should be doing right now, and I know that the punching bag at the gym will be receiving a workout after the night is done.
"Amarie Villin is a name that comes up here and there with relation to him, the connection I'm not sure about though." Carrick continues when neither of us have said a word. He looks down at his notes again and sighs. "It's all here, Ana. Everything my people have found on Joseph."
"Don't say his name." Ana seethes, anger palpable over those beautiful cheeks. "Her… her mother?"
"You are her mother, Ana." I say.
"No, her biological mother. Is she still alive?"
"Ana… those records were sealed." Carrick drops another fucking bombshell and I'm surprised I haven't thrown something yet.
"Which means the mother was a minor when she gave birth." Ana surmises.
"It would seem so." Carrick concurs.
What the ever-living fuck?
"I need to go and check on Belle. Thank you, Carrick. Thank you, Christian." And with that, she turns and walks out of the room, leaving my father and I in a more confused state than ever before.
"She's in shock, Christian. She's also compartmentalizing, something that she's become very good at in her life." He halts my panic.
"She shouldn't have to be good at it, dad." I grumble.
"There's two ways she'll come out of this, Christian. Either she'll let it impact her now, running her over and leaving her breathless, or it will hit her at a moment in time that pales in significance."
"You say it as though you've had experience with mind shattering information…" I conclude.
"Because I have. Christian, I didn't want to tell Ana, because of how sensitive the information is… but I unsealed Arabelle's biological mother's file."
Do I really need to hear how this sick son of a bitch treated her while she was pregnant? Or heaven forbid she actually wanted something to do with the child she gave birth to? Ana's heart would break if she had to give Belle back, especially to the people she was trying to keep her away from.
No, you need to know this. If you know then Ana will always have a way of finding out through you, not through other parties.
Besides, how much worse could it be?
"As much as I don't want to know, tell me."
"Arabelle's… her name was Lilly Simmons. She was 15 when she gave birth and subsequently died on the operating table."
"Fuck." I mutter.
"That's not all, Christian. Her body was taken down to the morgue for autopsy and while they were examining her, they found a lot of evidence. Bruising around her wrists, ankles and neck, fading bruises to her ribs, shoulders and thighs, as though they'd been forced apart and she'd been forced upon. She was severely underweight, lacking essential vitamins and nutrients she needed to bring a baby to term. Through some divine intervention, she was able to make it to thirty-seven weeks. She haemorrhaged on the table and died." Carrick explains.
I feel sick.
What kind of sick fucking monster would do that to a woman girl carrying a child, your child no less? What sort of monster would keep her locked up night and day, starve her, abuse her… all the while expecting her to bring a baby to term?
There are some seriously fucked up people in this world.
And you're not one of them.
"Is there anything else? Anything that could potentially mean something ever if it doesn't mean anything on paper?" I ask.
"She was a runaway. Lilly Simmons, daughter of media mogul Simon Simmons and Jennifer Lewton. She went missing at the age of eight. They identified the body. They weren't told about the child."
"Because by the time the coroner realised what had happened to the poor girl, Mr Livston/Mr Wheton had already up and left with Arabelle." He downs a finger of Scotch and sighs. "I'm sorry, son."
"It's not you who should be apologising, dad. Do you think she was a part of a ring? Like Ana experienced?"
"It wouldn't surprise me. Grace has told me a little about her time in one of them, but I fear that there's much more to it than being sold and bought for other men's pleasure. Do you know who Ana's psychiatrist is?" He asks and I smirk.
"Dr Jonathan Ridley Flynn." I answer and he balks slightly.
"You both have the same shrink? What are the chances?" He downs another finger and sets the tumbler on the table. "I professionally and personally think she needs to start again with someone new. And I think you do as well, Christian."
"What makes you say that, dad?"
"He's been your therapist for what, eight years now? How much has he helped you? How far did your therapy with him go before you realised for yourself that you weren't the man you thought you were?" He fires at me, and for once, I'm completely speechless.
"You have something on him." I say when I find words.
"It's a work in progress, but Ana's case has opened up a can of worms far bigger than you and I could have ever anticipated." He sighs again. "There's more, but it's not time sensitive information. Just remember what I told you, what I asked of you… Christian, I'm only looking out for the two of you, I hope you know that."
"You're making it sound like you're about to go and do something highly illegal or immoral." I reply. "What are you thinking?"
"I'm handing some findings over to the FBI in the coming weeks… from Grace and Ana's reports from the hospital, to all that happened to her between when she was born and now… it's too similar to not be a coincidence. They may want to set up a sting operation."
"You mean send someone in undercover? Send you?" My mind screeches to a halt, thinking about my father in a room with those… those… I can't even call them monsters, they deserve a term so much worse than that.
"Send someone, yes. Christian, we can't let any more innocent kids be hurt because of these bastards. Seeing Ana's photos made me want to go postal, I can only imagine what they're being subjected to today…" The sadness and loss in his voice is as poignant as ever.
He's won cases with less, but the cost has never been higher. If he can't put these people away, if he can't bring justice to the ones who need it most, then he'll feel like he's failed.
"Dad, what you're doing, it's the right thing. At the end of the day, they're going to be on the losing side and we're going to be on the winning side. I am going to help in every way I can. I will give you the men the FBI need, the man hours, the tools for the job, anything to see us win at the end." I try to comfort him in some small way.
"All I ask right now, Christian, is for you to love that woman with everything you have. The road ahead for all of us is not paved with good intentions and as hard as I'll fight to keep them out of it, they need to know, they need to know that we're fighting for them." He lowers his head and sighs. "When did you become so wise?"
"Around the time I realised I was in love with Anastasia Steele." I chuckle and round his desk, finally pulling him into a bone crushing hug I knew he needed.
"WHERE'S ANA?" GRACE ASKS as Carrick and I descend into the family room.
Kate, Elliot and Ellie are playing Operation, with Ellie's excited squeal erupting from her lips every time her father missed an organ, Mia was sitting in the loveseat by the fire, reading one of the many books at her disposal and Ana… Ana was nowhere to be seen.
"Belle?" I ask, looking around the room.
"Oh, Ana took Belle a couple of minutes ago. She looked a tad shaken up, is everything alright?" Kate answers.
"Just working through some things that have come to light recently. She said she needed to find Belle, and it looks like she has." I reply with a smile. "I'll be back soon."
I walk out of the room and meander throughout the rest of the house, trying to come up with a way of talking to Ana about all this, and maybe convincing her and Belle to stay one more night with me. A lot was dumped on her shoulders tonight, she shouldn't be alone to deal with it.
I finally make it upstairs to my childhood room… well I suppose it's not that anymore now, is it? I asked Grace to transform it for Belle and Ana, to be somewhere where the three of us could sleep together when and if we stayed over. I haven't seen the finished product, but I know my mother and I know how incredible it would be.
Inside, I find Ana curled up on the bed, humming something melodious to a smaller figure in the centre of it.
"I've been looking for you, baby
In every face that I've ever known
And there is something 'bout the way you love me
That finally feels like home
You're my light, you're my darkness
You're the right kind of madness
You're my hope, you're my despair
You're my scope of everything, everywhere"
My heart is caught in my throat as she finishes out Adele's beautiful song softly. Then, she leans down and kisses her daughter's cheek, whispering something so low that I can't understand, before slipping off of the bed and turning to me.
"You scared me." She murmurs, her hand over her heart at the fright.
"I didn't want to interrupt that moment." I explain honestly. "She went down okay?"
"Of course. She always does when she's here. I think she likes being surrounded by people, something that was never me." She sighs.
"Not here, Christian." She ushers me out the door, leaving it open just a crack like she always does.
I lead her downstairs and out onto the patio, the Summer air beginning to cool around us.
IT'S SILENT OUT HERE, there's nothing; no wind, no music, no sounds of ships or boats on the water… just silence.
And for a moment I let that silence wrap around me like a blanket, enveloping me in its warmth as I try to come to terms with what's been discovered.
Singing to Belle tonight, having her fall asleep in my arms all the while promising to never let her see the harm that was done to me, to protect her from the evils of the world… I needed that more than I thought I did.
"Mom made cocoa." Christian hands me a mug and gives me a small smile before sitting down on the swing beside me. "My brother and I used to play on this all the time, tried to beat each other with how high we could go."
"Me. I was lighter, so I could go higher." He winks. "I'm surprised they've kept this for so long though…"
"I guess… I never saw a future for me, never wanted a future other than the one that GEH has afforded me. I never saw myself getting married, having children, being a father." My heart constricts at his words.
"And you want that now?"
"Very much so. I thought that I'd die a bachelor, surrounded by my wealth… but now that thought makes me cringe. I don't want to die alone, I want my legacy to live on, through my children and grandchildren if I'm gifted with them…" He looks down at the swing beneath him. "And I guess, I can see why they kept this all this time. It's a tribute to the past and a vision for the future."
"You're not going to die alone, Christian. I can promise you that right now." I tell him.
"No, no I don't think I will. Not anymore. And neither will you. What you survived-"
"Christian." I warn, not wanting to go down this path right now.
"If we don't talk about it now, it's going to eat away at both of us, it's going to build and become something huge and ugly and I don't want that. I love you, Ana, we should be able to talk about this."
"How do you know it's going to eat away at me? How could you possibly know what might happen? Maybe I don't want to talk about it right now because I haven't dealt with it yet! Maybe I don't want to drag anyone else into the fucking mess that is my life!" I bite back.
"Well it's too late for that, Ana. I'm in your life, and so is my family. We're all each other has, and for Belle's sake, we need to be stronger together than apart." He says softly.
"I've been by myself for a long time, Christian. I know about being strong. I know about dealing with crippling pain and anxiety when I even think about my past. Do you think my daughter has seen any of that though? Do you think I put her in harm's way? Do you think I wanted to her to experience any of what she has?"
I don't know where this anger is coming from, and part of me feels horrible that Christian is one the receiving end of my outburst, but there's another part of me that feels like he needs to know that I know what I'm feeling.
"Ana, I'm not attacking you. In no way am I telling you how you should feel or react, but I need and want you to know that I am here and I'm never going to leave. If you won't talk to me about all this, there are people I can get in contact with…"
"I can just see Flynn."
"Carrick suggests not." I round on him again, my eyes wide, nostrils flaring.
"And why the fuck not?!" I yelp.
"He made a valid point, Ana. In all the years I was in therapy, he didn't really help me at all, didn't teach me ways to deal with my haphephobia, to interact with women, to figure out new emotions that made me so confused that I wasn't even sure of their names… how has he helped you?" He defends.
"He… he listens…" But other than that, I come up blank.
Eight years in therapy with him and that's all I can say? I try to think as hard as I can, to think of anything else that he has done, that he has helped me with… but I can't.
"He does. He's good at that. But has he helped with anything?"
The answer bounces around in my brain and as I shake my head, I realise something else.
"He never wanted to fix me, did he?" I ask, looking out onto the Sound.
"I honestly don't know, Ana. I think that's a question you need to ask him yourself, and I'll ask the same. We've done more for each other in the last three months than therapy has in the last seven to eight years, and that says a lot." He sighs again.
"I'm sorry I snapped at you, Christian." I murmur.
"There's no need-"
"Just accept it, please." I pinch the bridge of my nose with my fingers and sigh. "One hell of a bombshell was dropped tonight. I'm struggling to unravel it all… to work through it… but I'm okay, alright?"
"As long as you tell me when you're not, then I'll accept that." He demands.
"I promise." I offer him a weak smile.
"It's back to the real world tomorrow." He changes the subject, and I'm grateful.
"I've got night-shift this fortnight." I tell him. "Milly's taking care of Belle for me during the day."
"Shift work… I applaud every single person who has to do it. How does Belle deal with it?"
"She gets me from four in the afternoon through to eight… we make the most of it." I smile.
"Maybe one night we can have dinner. You and Belle can come to Escala and we can eat… Belle can spend the night with me even." He smiles to himself, perhaps remembering the fun and games they had only yesterday.
"That… that sounds like an amazing idea." He suddenly gets out of his swing and kneels before me, taking my hands in his. When he looks up at me, his gray eyes are dancing with an emotion I've never really seen before.
"When will I get to have you again?" He asks, his voice low and dripping with desire. It instantly makes me smile and look around.
Spotting the boathouse, I gesture towards it with my chin.
A lascivious grin graces his lips and he lifts me over his shoulder, much to my protest and squeals.
HIS LIPS ARE ON mine as soon as the door is closed, his hands roam my body, no doubt struggling not to ruin another outfit like he had done the first time we made love. I could tell that this wasn't going to be a soft sort of loving, but the loving we both needed right now.
Wrapping my legs around his waist, I feel his erection grind against my panties, igniting a slow burning fire inside me as he does. His lips latch onto my neck, allowing me to get some much-needed air. He moans against the fabric of my dress.
"Whatever you do, Christian Grey, do not ruin this dress." I scold.
"You have no idea how tempting it is to do that right now." He growls. "Fuck, I want you."
"Then have me." My fingers pull roughly on his hair, pulling his head back enough to look at me. "I want you."
"Fuck." He growls again and pulls us away from the wall, only to lay me down on a couch of some sort. There, he kneels on the ground and quickly removes my panties, flinging them to some corner of the earth that I'm sure I'll never see again.
Then, he descends on me, his lips and tongue on me in record time. His tongue works its magic inside of me while his fingers come up to play with my nipples under my dress and bra.
I moan out as I feel that familiar burn, the flames of my orgasm licking away at my psyche. This was going to be quick, but I needed it.
"C-Christian…" I pant out. "I'm…"
"Come for me, baby. Let me taste you." He tells me before resuming his delicious assault on my body.
My body obeys his command, unravelling on him like a tidal wave, and he laps it all up. I convulse, the last of my orgasm ripping through me as he suckles on my bud.
"You taste mighty fine, Dr Steele." He purrs as he stands and leans over me. "Would you like a taste?"
Meekly, I nod my head, and his lips come down on mine. The scent of me, mixed with Christian, almost has me on fire again, and the yearning was well and truly back. I needed to be full with him, I needed to be complete with him.
I close my eyes as he kisses me again, and I hear the subtle sounds of a belt being unfastened, as well as a zip being lowered.
I steel myself for him, taking a deep breath in as I feel his tip at my entrance, allowing him to coat himself in whatever juices I may have left after Christian drank them.
"I love you." He says softly as he sinks into me, filling me to the hilt only to pull out again.
Again, like a chant to himself and to me, he tells me he loves me and fills me. Then, he begins to get rougher.
The only sounds that can be heard now, are the sounds of our bodies colliding on an orgasmic scale, the sound of the water lapping at the wooden beams below us, and the melodic sounds of our moaning, driving each of us closer to the release we both desire.
My legs wrap around his back as he thrusts into me once more, my nails drawing along the flesh on his back.
"Ana…" He moans out and then goes quiet as I feel warmth spread through my body, our orgasms melding together.
Then he collapses on top of me, both of us hot, panting messes, still partially clothed. If someone were to walk in right now, it would be hilarious.
"Fuck." Christian pulls back and away suddenly, his hands running through his hair like a madman. I lean up on my elbows, cocking my head to the side in confusion.
"What's wrong, Christian?"
"I didn't… we didn't… Ana, we didn't use a condom." He looks at me with wide, fearful eyes.
"It's okay." I assure him.
"Christian, breathe." I pull down my dress and pat the couch beside me. He sits, but the panic I see in him doesn't subside. "Christian, look at me."
"I'm so sorry."
"Sorry? What on earth are you apologising for? I wanted that, I needed that… and so did you. And I quite happen to love the quick hard fuck."
"It wouldn't have mattered if we used protection or not, Christian. My understanding is that I can't have children." I'm surprised by how normal I sound telling him this.
"You… you can't?"
"No. After what happened to me and the things that were done to me… I don't think it's an option for me anymore." I tell him. "And I'm the one who should be apologising."
"Christian, you want kids. You want to see me full with your child, I know you do. But I can't be the one to give you that." The words shake in my throat.
"Oh, Ana. You give me everything I never thought I needed. There are other ways for us to have a family, Ana. Haven't you heard that I'm adopted?" He smirks and pulls me into his arms.
"You're okay with that?"
"I'm more than okay with that, Ana. As long as I get you at the end of it all, I'll take whatever other bullshit comes at us. You and Belle, you're all I need right now." He murmurs and kisses my hair.
"I love you." I tell him sincerely, and without a shadow of a doubt.
"And I love you."
"We should get back…" I sigh. "Although, I could go to sleep right here, right now."
"As could I…"
"WAKE UP, SLEEPYHEAD. YOU'RE home." Christian's soft voice lulls me out of my dreams filled with Belle and Christian. The familiar sight of my apartment building makes me sigh sadly.
This weekend, despite the drama and information learned, has been the best of my life… and now it's over.
"Taylor's taken Belle inside already, but I didn't want to wake you." He says softly.
"Because I really don't want to see you disappear behind those doors. It's selfish of me, but I really don't want to leave you." He kisses me softly.
"I know the feeling. But we'll see each other soon, I promise. And, there's always Skype and phone calls." I tell him.
"I know. Look after yourself, Dr Steele." He cups my face in his hands as I nod. "And promise me, that as soon as you begin to feel not okay, that you'll call me."
"I promise, Christian. If you do the same for me."
"I promise." He kisses me again, pouring every emotion he could possibly muster into it. "I love you, Anastasia Steele."
"I love you too, Christian Grey."
** The song Ana was singing to Belle was Sweetest Devotion by Adele.