A/N: If it is difficult to read this, it was much more difficult to write.
Christian and I pull in to the parking garage at John's office. Christian parks the car and looks over at me. "Are you ready, Ana?"
I nod. I reach over and take his hand. "Christian I love you so very much. There's nothing that you can say that will change that. Do you understand me?"
"I hope so, Baby." He looks over and squeezes my hand.
"No Christian. Don't hope so. I want to hear you say it. I want to know that you understand that I love you."
He takes a deep breath. "I know that you love me Anastasia."
"Okay. Let's go."
"Ah. Ana. Christian. It's good to see you both."
"Hello, John." I smile at him.
"John." Christian nods and extends his had to shake John's.
"Please come in and have a seat."
"Christian and I take a seat beside each other on the same sofa in John's office. I sit next to the table because I'm positive I'll need the tissues.
"Was traffic bad coming in this evening?" John asks.
"Not too bad we made fair time." Christian responds. Christian is obviously nervous. I'm not used to seeing Christian nervous. He takes my hand and gives it a squeeze and gives me quick a reassuring smile. I return the squeeze and smile.
"How are the children doing?" I feel John making pleasantries to take the edge off of the atmosphere.
"They're good. Teddy is enjoying his summer vacation. Watching too much television. And Grace is well…..Grace." I tell him.
"Good. Good." John pauses. "Well. Shall we get started?"
We both nod. We look like we are on our way to an execution. Our own.
John starts. "Before we begin I need to get a bit housekeeping out of the way. I think it's appropriate to establish a few ground rules, so to speak, before we get started this evening. First off, I think that you both are aware that I am counseling each of you on an individual basis. I will not divulge any details specific to those individual sessions while you here as a couple. Each of you, however, is free to divulge any information you wish."
"I am here to facilitate your session. I will not take sides with either of you. Since you have both decided that your goal is improve your marriage, I am on the side of the marriage. I am here to keep the discussion on track and focused on the goal. There will be no name calling and no physical or verbal acts of aggression."
Christian gives John a sour look." I would not expect that from either of you, however we do need to establish that. I am not here to change or fix anyone. This is your session. You are here to discuss whatever issues you wish. So that said. Does anyone wish to begin?"
We are both dead silent.
John breaks the silence. "Well. There have certainly been some exciting events in your lives of recent. Do either of you have any comments?"
I begin to speak." I want to start, I think." Christian I want to begin by reassuring you that I love you very much. I will always love you. I know we have already discussed this, but I need for you to understand how very hurt I was when you had that relationship with Amy. I know you think that because there was no actual sexual activity, that it wasn't cheating. But it was to me. You broke my heart Christian Grey. I'm trying to work past that, but I need for you to know how very betrayed and humiliated that I felt."
Christian hesitates. "I know Ana. I don't think there are words that can come close to expressing how terrible I feel about that."
"Could you try, 'I'm sorry'?" I ask him.
"Baby, I am so deeply sorry, for what I did. It was selfish and thoughtless. I need you to know that I never meant to hurt you."
"Why did you do it Christian?" I look into his eyes.
"I wish I could understand why. All I can say is, that it is the only way I know how to handle things when my life goes out of control. When I can't control what is going on with my personal life, I don't know any other way to get a handle on my emotions. I've been dealing with issues in this manner all of my adult life and most of my teens. It always worked until I met you."
"Christian, do you understand that you need to find different strategies to cope? You can't run to a sub every time something doesn't go the way you want it to." Christian nods, but will not look at me. "Do you understand that I am your wife? I am your best friend. I am the person who will understand you and support you. You can tell me anything. I will help you deal with whatever is bothering you."
"I know. Ana. But, don't you see that I am here to take care of you. I want to keep you safe. I don't want you to ever have to worry or be concerned about anything. I….I just find it difficult to talk about things sometimes."
I'm becoming more insistent. "But Christian, you have to. You have to be able to trust me. You need to find a way to talk to me instead of relieving your aggression and anger by physical or psychological domination of another human being?"
"Yes. I know." Christian is still looking contrite.
Tears are welling up my eyes. "Christian. Look at me." I command. " Look at me damn it." My voice is getting louder and more demanding.
Christian slowly lifts his head but still cannot look into my eyes.
My flood gate opens. "Christian I need for you to look at me. I need for you to see me. I am here. I am a person. I have feelings. I have needs. I need for you to see that."
"I am not here for you to yell at. I am not just here to take care of the kids and make sure your needs are met." Tears begin to spill out of my eyes. "I need to be me again. I need to be able feel comfortable around you again."
Christian flashes a look of amazement at me. "You don't feel comfortable around me? Ana you are everything to me. How can you not feel comfortable around me?"
"Christian. I spend all of my energy trying to calm and comfort you. Trying to keep you on an even keel." I wipe my tears with my hand. "Do you remember when we had a talk before I went to Savannah?"
Christian nods, now looking into my eyes.
"Remember I told you that you get mad at me so often? You yell at me so easily?"
"Yes, I remember Ana. I've tried to do a better job of controlling that."
"And, I will admit that you have. You have been trying so hard lately. But I need to know that you have worked all this shit out over your mother. I need to know that when you are angry that it is truly an ' in the moment' anger and not just old feelings and insecurities bubbling up in a different form."
"Ana. I recognize that there are still issues that I need to work through and resolve. I am genuinely trying to do that. It's not easy. I can't just fix it because you want me to."
"No Christian. I don't want you to, I need for you to."
I look over at Christian and his eyes are clinched tightly and his face is contorted as if he is in pain.
He begins calmly and with control. "Ana. This is not about my mother. Not completely. Yes. I still have issues about being neglected, hurt and abandoned. But, I really do understand that she was an addict. Because of her own neglectful and abusive upbringing, she was not equipped to raise a child. She should have never brought me into the world."
I look at him in horror. "Oh Christian, no. I can't imagine a world without you. Please don't ever feel like that." I begin to realize that he knows much more about his mother than he has ever told me. "Christian how do you know that your mother was abused and neglected?"
Christian, still holding my hand, looks over to me." Ana. I knew your bank account number. Do you honestly think that I wouldn't check into my own mother's background. I needed to know where I came from. Who I am."
"Christian, why didn't you tell me?"
"It wasn't something that I wanted to share. It's not an attractive story."
"Christian. When are you going to get it through your head that you need to share things with me? I need for you to share things with me."
"I will. But I'm not sure right now is the best time."
"Here we go again. Everything has to be on your terms, doesn't it?"
Christian turns to face me and his eyes are burning. He raise his voice. "Yes, Ana. It does. It has to be on my fucking terms, because I have to be able to make sure that things don't get out of control."
John breaks in. "I think that perhaps we need to tone things down a bit. We aren't here to…..."
Christian holds his hand up to John to silence him, without ever breaking his hold on me with his eyes. "Ana. I can never let a situation get out of my control. Do you understand me?" He looks so angry, I am almost afraid of him.
I shake my head. "No. I don't understand."
"Situations that get out of my control can have dire consequences. I avoid those consequences at all cost. I never… give up… control. Not to anyone. Ever." Christian's voice has an eerie calm to it.
"But Christian I don't understand why. Everyone loses control sometimes."
Christian, still facing me on the couch, breaks his stare. He tilts his head back and contorts his face. Tears begin to fall. "Because, Ana. Because it hurts. It hurts so damn much."
"Baby. I don't understand. What hurts so much? Talk to me. I want to understand, Christian." I plead.
Christian takes a deep breath and begins. "I got into a few fights when I was a teenager. But not near as many as I told my parents. I would come home with bruises and cuts and it was an easy way to explain it. But most of it was Elena. I gave control to Elena and that was the result. I didn't know any better.
"I've told you how I got involved with her. I was doing some work for Linc, cleaning up debris from a construction project on their house. Elena came out to talk to me and out of the blue, she kissed me and then she slapped me. I was 15. I'd never been with a real girl, just Playboys and Hustlers that I managed to have someone buy for me. When she kissed me it was arousing. Like I said at 15, I was walking hard on. But I didn't know what to think about the slap. Then she kissed me again and slapped me again. But you've heard this story. You know how it all started."
I nod my head. "Yes, Christian. You've explained how you got involved with Elena. But tell me whatever you want to tell me."
I didn't know what to expect or how to act with women. Elena was older, so I just assumed that the slapping was a normal part of how sex worked. Except she would never let me slap her. I guess it was sort of like Pavlov's dogs, soon the pain became arousing to me because the sex always followed it.
"She taught me how to fuck. I fucked her in ways you could never imagine. She taught me how to please a woman, physically. Tenderness and emotion was not part of her instruction. Christian finally turns to look at me. "I never knew that sex could be pleasurable without pain, until you, Ana. I guess you only know what you've been taught and Elena was my teacher.
"Anyway, I got more and more involved with her and saw her more and more often. I couldn't wait to get a fucking call from her to let me know that Linc was gone and I could come over. I will say that she did set me on straight path with my drinking and fighting and school. If I strayed and she found out about it, she would deny me. She would refuse to see me until I straightened up.
"After a while, she became more and more aggressive with her control. I didn't know what was going on with her, but I just thought she was pissed about something and I was on the receiving end of her ire. In time, I began to want out, but she wouldn't let me. I didn't know how to get out of it. Every time I tried she would threaten to tell my parents. I was too young and stupid to know that she wouldn't really tell them.
"It became a forced relationship rather than consensual. Christian stops and looks over at me and takes a deep breath. He grabs my hand and squeezes it. I squeeze back.
" What is it Christian? Baby, you can tell me."
After a moment tears begin to wet Christian's face. And he is staring into his lap. " Ana. It was so awful. So awful and cruel. She would strip me down and restrain me. She would humiliate me, verbally abuse me. Then the physical pain would start. She rarely held back and she loved that fucking cane. She loved it a lot. I would be black and blue from my shoulders to my feet. She would taunt me, bring me to the point of climax and then deny me over and over again for hours."
I don't know if I can stand to hear this. It is tearing my heart out and my face is drowning in my own tears.
Christian begins to slowly continue. I can tell this is ripping him apart. "Then things began to go from bad to worse. If she was really in a foul mood, she would have guests. Some women some… not. She allowed them to take control. Safe wording meant nothing to them or to Elena, most of the time." I was restrained and couldn't defend myself. I couldn't ….stop their forced sexual or physical assaults." Christian is sobbing and my heart is in shreds. "Ana. It wasn't consensual. I didn't want it. It started out that way, but it wasn't. Elena convinced me that it was. That I asked for it. That I willingly gave her control, because I wanted all of it. But I was a kid. I was a scared, confused, angry kid. Ana, Elena was not my dominate. She was my abuser. It has taken me so long to be able to face that. To be able to admit that."
I reach out for Christian to hold him, but he is inconsolable. He won't let me touch him. " I gave her control and she took advantage of me. Ana. It hurt so bad. So bad. You have no idea. And it happened over and over." Christian can't stop his tears and the pain written on his face is ripping me apart. " In the beginning I would start to cry when it got too bad. That just made it worse. Elena would really rip into me then. Beat me, shove things inside of me, humiliate me. So, I learned control. If I could control myself and my responses, the punishment wouldn't be as bad."
God in heaven. I don't know if I can listen to much more. I am trembling all over. But I know he needs to tell me. He needs for me to know what he has gone through. John stands and puts his hand on my shoulder. "Ana are you okay?" I shake my head. I turn and grab the waste can sitting next to the sofa and wretch into it. I cry and heave. I am embarrassed that I have had such an emotional responds to Christian. I want so desperately to be strong for him. I wipe my mouth and face with a tissue and turn to face my husband. I take his hand and look into his sad gray eyes. "I'm sorry." I tell him.
Christian hands me his soft monogrammed handkerchief. "Baby, I didn't want to upset you. We can stop this."
I shake my head. "No. No. I need to know, Christian. There isn't anything you can't tell me."
He continues. "As I got older, I began to realize that she couldn't divulge what she had done. She couldn't really tell my parents. I began to take control of the situation and somehow the tables began to turn. I became her dominate. I took all the pain and hurt and anger that I was holding in and unleashed it on her. Difference was, she liked it. She actually enjoyed the pain and humiliation, and God in heaven, I needed to inflict it. God. I was so fucking angry." Christian seems to have calmed a little, but he is still visibly upset.
"Not too long after that my parents shuffled me off to Harvard. I no longer had access to Elena, but I still had those needs, so much anger and hurt bottled up inside. So, I started going to BDSM clubs. Places where I could learn about the practice as well as have access to willing partners."
"Is that where you encountered Amy?" I ask him.
"It would seem so. Like I told you I didn't remember her, but it seems that she went to Harvard Law School and that is how she earned extra money to help with school. In addition she genuinely fucking enjoyed the practice.
"I realized that Harvard was just not for me. I wanted to get out and run my own damn company, not hear how someone else would do it. I knew in my gut how to do it and I wanted to get on with it. I knew my parents wouldn't approve of me dropping out of school especially so close to graduating. But I did it anyway."
"I had no money and needed start-up capital, so I went to Elena. She had access to Linc's money and I needed it. Basically, I blackmailed her for it. I threatened to expose her if she didn't give me the capital, so she gave it to me. She tried to start things up again with me, but I wasn't interested. I'd had enough pain to last a lifetime.
"Fairly soon I had bought my first company, turned it around and was making plenty of money. Enough so that I could start taking on the subs. Subs met my needs. I was making a name for myself and couldn't afford to have anyone find out about my lifestyle. I found that I needed female companionship, but had no interest in any type of romantic involvement. Hell. I didn't know anything about romance or how to care about or be gentle with a woman. Elena seemed to leave that part of my education out. I never knew about that until you taught me how." Christian looks into my red, swollen eyes with his and squeezes my hand.
"But I feel as bad about that as anything. His tears begin to fall again. Ana. I knew pain. I knew humiliation and domination at the hands of another person. Yet, somehow I was able to inflict the same pain on another human being. I gave them things, things that money could buy. Cars and clothes, to try to make myself feel better. But how could I whip them and beat them and treat them as anything less than human?" His tears are full on now and he is sobbing. "What kind of person am I Ana? How heartless must I be to be able to do that? How dark is my soul to be able to treat another human being like that? What kind of monster lives inside of me?" he takes a deep breath. "Ana. I looked at you in the boathouse on my birthday. I looked at my beautiful sweet, wife and saw what I was doing to you and it made me sick. Christian throws his arms around my waist and buries his head in my lap. His shoulders heave as he sobs.
I stroke his head and my tears continue to fall. "No. Christian. Please. Please, baby. Don't ever feel that way. I've never met anyone as kind and caring as you are, Christian. Don't you see? If you were truly dark, you wouldn't be able to care about other people. It wouldn't matter to you how you treated anyone else. I love you, Christian. I'm here. I'll always be here."
I look down at Christian and see the abandoned child, the tortured adolescent and the broken man who is clinging to me, and I know I will never leave him. I love this man. My fate is to always love this man. I am his and have been since the day I was born and will be until I take my last breath.
After a time, John cautiously breaks in. "Well. It has been a very fruitful evening. Ana are you okay?"
I nod to John. "I think so."
John looks at Christian. He walks over and puts his hand on Christian's shoulder. "Christian. Are you alright?"
Christian nods without lifting his head from my lap." Yes."
John returns to his seat. "Well. I know this has been a difficult evening for both of you. There were moments where I thought about stopping, but I knew that this is something Christian has been working on for a while now." John looks at me." Ana. This has been extremely difficult for Christian. Facing the truth about his relationship with Elena and coming to terms with it. It hasn't been easy for him. It has taken him a long time to get here. He has wanted to talk to you about it, but just didn't know how, so he wanted to do it here."
"I know all of this has been difficult not only to divulge, but to hear as well. It's a lot to take in. I want both of you to know that I am available to either or both of you, anytime. Day or night. Please call me if you have any questions or concerns…or if you just need to talk."
I look at John and nod. "Thank you, John. I appreciate it."
"If you are both okay, I will go to my outer office and give you two time alone to acclimate. Please take as much time as you need." John excuses himself. He pauses and puts his hand on Christian's shoulder for a moment before exiting the room for the outer office.
Christian's head remains buried in my lap, and his arms around my waist. He is clinging to me for dear life. I caress Christian's head and rub his back as I would if I were comforting Teddy.
"Christian?" I whisper. "Sweetheart? Are you okay?"
Christian nods, but doesn't move his head from my lap. "Christian?" he won't move. I finally get up, peeling his arms from around me, and kneel beside the sofa. Christian still has not moved his position. His head now is on the sofa. I look into his eyes and run my fingers through his hair. "Baby, is there anything I can do?"
"Do you still love me?" He asks.
"Christian! Of course I still love you. This doesn't change anything. I am so proud of you. I know it took everything inside of you to talk about this." I wrap my arms around him and he sits up and takes me in his arms.
"Ana. I love you so much. Please don't hate me. Please, please don't ever leave me."
"Baby. I'm not going anywhere. You're stuck with me."
Christian and I hold each other and for several minutes before we can collect ourselves and leave John's office. We walk out with our arms around each other, supporting each other. I still have so many questions, but I'll talk to John later. I need to get Christian home and take care of him.
We get down to the parking garage and head for our car. "Christian. Do you want me to drive?" I ask him.
Christian clears his throat. "No. I'm okay. I can drive."
We get in the car and head for the house. The cool air feels good after the claustrophobic feeling we just left in John's office.
I look over at Christian and give him a supportive smile. He looks back at me taking my hand and kissing my knuckles. I can't take my eyes off of him. He looks absolutely spent. No wonder he has been coming back from John's office looking so rough.
"Are you hungry, Baby?" Christian asks me.
I nod. "Yes. I am. How about you?"
"I could eat. What do you want?" he asks me.
"I know just what I want." I grin at him.
Christian and I sit in the car eating our greasy burger and fries. "Good?" I ask him.
"Yep. I haven't eaten this kind of food in ages." He smiles stuffing his face with a giant bacon cheeseburger. "You know I've driven by this place for years, but it never occurred to me to stop. What made you want to come here?" he asks.
"I don't know." I shrug. "A couple of weeks ago when I went into town to see Caroline to get a dress for the charity thing, I just saw it and decided that I wanted a greasy burger, so I pulled in. I've been wanting another one ever since then. Milkshake's good, huh?"
Christian takes a big sip." Yep." I lean over and kiss him licking his upper lip. "You have a milkshake moustache. Mmmm. It's vanilla." I smile at him.
Christian smiles at me. "Yeah. I really like vanilla."
A/N: Thanks for following this story of Ana and Christian. It continues in Book II. Fifty Shades Clarity.