I paced in the great room, on the verge of losing my fucking mind. Where the hell is she? Why hasn't she came home yet? Why the hell wasn't she here in the first place? I wanted to hit something. No, I wanted to hit her. I wanted to take her back into the playroom, lay her over that whipping bench and let her have it for defying me, but could I? No. God damn it.

"I don't care Taylor, just find her. She couldn't have gone far, she was on foot." I growled into the phone.

"Mr. Grey, if you don't mind me saying… I think you're over reacting a bit. Leila has been caught. She isn't a threat anymore." Taylor said, coolly. I didn't care. What I cared about was that she's defied me yet again, and there was nothing I could do. I just wanted her here. I heard the double doors open, and looked up to see her walk in, closing them behind her. Everything in the universe halted. She's safe. Thank God.

"She's here." I snapped, before closing my phone and turning my glare on her. "Where the fuck have you been?" I growled. I didn't move towards her. I was afraid if I did, I'd throw her over my knee, or drag her to the playroom against her will. As I stared at her, she didn't answer. As I met her gaze, something became clear to me.

"Have you been drinking?" I asked, sounding appalled.

"A bit." She answered simply. You could tell she didn't think it was obvious, but it was. I knew drunk almost as good as I knew BDSM. I shook my head and ran a hand through my hair.

"I told you to come back here." I said, my voice quiet. I was trying to refrain from yelling at her. It was difficult. "It's now fifteen after ten. I've been worried about you." She didn't look like she believed me.

"I went for a drink or three with Ethan while you attended to your ex," She hissed darkly. I wasn't sure why, but I wanted to recoil. "I didn't know how long you were going to be… with her." There was something in her tone that caught me off guard. I narrowed my eyes at her, and started towards her, but stopped short.

"Why do you say it like that?" I asked. She shrugged and looked down at her fingers. Son of a bitch, Ana. Talk to me. "Ana, what's wrong?" I asked. I meant to sound concerned, but really I sounded afraid. Something was wrong. She was over thinking something, overanalyzing it, and that was never a good thing. What if she was over thinking us? What if she leaves? She swallowed, trying to choose her words wisely.

"Where's Leila?" She asked simply, meeting my eyes. What does that have to do with any fucking thing?

"In a psychiatric hospital in Fremont," I answered, trying to decipher what she was thinking, where she's going with all of this. "Ana, what is it?" I started towards her until I was standing right in front of her. "What's wrong?" I breathed. She shook her head somberly.

"I'm no good for you."

"What?" I felt like she's just knocked the wind out of me. "Why do you think that? How can you possibly think that?" I'm wanted to sound angry, but it really just sounded like I was begging.

"I can't be everything you need."

"You are everything I need." I said, quickly. What the hell is happening? My world felt like it was slowly being ripped out from under me again.

"Just seeing you with her…" Her voice trailed off. That's what this was about? Leila?

"Why do you do this to me? This is not about you, Ana. It's about her." I took a sharp breath, trying to compose myself. "Right now, she's a very sick girl."

"But I felt it… what you had together." She said. There was nothing between us. She was my fuck-puppet. That was it. Why was she doing this to me? God, why did I give someone the power to break me so god damn easily.

"What? No." I reached out to her, but she took a step back, causing me to drop my hand. I was losing my fucking mind now. Fear had overtaken me. She can't leave. She can't leave. She can't. She can't. This isn't happening. Not again. NO!

"You're running." I whispered, my eyes wide. My heart was beating ninety miles an hour. Don't go, Ana. She didn't respond. God, no. She is running.

"You can't." I'm begging now. God, listen to me.

"Christian… I…." She struggled to figure out what it was she wanted to tell me. She's got complete control now, and I'm at the breaking point.

"No. No!" I said, instinctively. Crack. My resolve was shattering.

"I…" I was looking around now, looking for something, anything to give me strength but I came up short. She's going. She's just going to go, and I'm going to be alone… again. God, no.

"You can't go, Ana. I love you!" I said quickly. I love her. I love her, and she cannot do this to me again. I will not allow it. She can't leave me. God, please don't leave me.

"I love you, too, Christian, it's just-." I cut her off this time.

"No…. No!" I was desperate. I reached up and put both my hands on my head. I'm losing my fucking mind.

"Christian…" She murmured.

"No," I breathed. That's when I lost it. I dropped to my knee's right there in front of her, my head bowed, hands on my thighs. I took a deep breath and held deadly still. She had control here. She's always been in control. I'm the submissive in this, so I might as well act the part. What else can I do? She's leaving anyway.

"Christian, what are you doing?" She asked, confused. I didn't look up. I hadn't been given any orders. I kept my head down.

"Christian! What are you doing?" She repeats, her voice raising an octave. I still didn't move. She's in control. She has the power here. "Christian, look at me." There it is. A command. I looked up without hesitation, and kept my gaze passive; not giving away that my fucking resolve is on the ground around me. I met her gaze and saw realization snap her back into reality. She understood what was happening here. I watched as the blood drained from her face. She inhaled sharply.

"Christian, please, don't do this. I don't want this." She begged. It doesn't matter. This is the control you have over me, Ana.

"Why are you doing this? Talk to me," She whispered. I blinked.

"What would you like me to say?" I asked, softly. My voice lacking any emotion seeing as how all of those were scattered across the hardwood floor as well. She started crying, and instinctively I wanted to grab her and hold her, and wipe away her tears, but I couldn't. God, make it stop. She caught me off guard yet again, by sinking to her knees in front of me. We were on the same level now.

"Christian, you don't have to do this," She begged. "I'm not going to run. I've told you and told you and told you, I won't run. All that's happened… it's overwhelming. I just need some time to think… some time to myself. Why do you always assume the worst?" Because it's all I've ever known. Regardless, I don't speak. I continued to stare at her, watching as the tears leaked down her face.

"I was going to suggest going back to my apartment this evening. You never give me any time… time to just think things through," She sobbed hard, causing me to frown. I wanted to reach out and hold her, but I remain impassively still. "Just time to think. We barely know each other and all this baggage that comes with you… I need… I need time to think it through. And now that Leila is… well, whatever she is… she's off the streets and not a threat… I thought…I thought…" She trailed off, giving up trying to speak. She was rambling, but I listened intently, looking for anything to prove to me she wasn't going to run.

"Seeing you with Leila..." She closed her eyes as she recalled something painful. It hurt watching her hurt, but I still made no move to touch her. "It was such a shock. I had a glimpse into how your life has been… and…" She looked away from me now, her eyes on her intertwined fingers. "This is about me not being good enough for you. It was an insight into your life, and I am so scared you'll get bored with me, and then you'll go… and I'll end up like Leila… a shadow. Because I love you, Christian, and if you leave me, it will be like a world without light. I'll be in darkness. I don't want to run. I'm just so frightened you'll leave me…" My head was fucking spinning out of control. She's scared I'm going to leave her? Are you fucking kidding me? Like I could ever actually leave her. Regardless, I kept quiet. I had a feeling there was more. I could tell by the look on her face she wasn't done yet. I kept waiting for the 'I'm just going to go' part of her speech, but it hadn't happened yet.

"I don't understand why you find me attractive," She murmured. Because you're fucking beautiful Anastasia Steele. "You're, well, you're you… and I'm…" She shrugged, gazing up at me. How can you see yourself as anything less than beautiful? I don't understand. "I just don't see it. You're beautiful, and sexy, and successful, and good and kind and caring—all those things—and I'm not. And I can't do the things you like to do. I can't give you what you need. How could you be happy with me? How can I possibly hold you?" She was whispering, and I could tell these were the things she feared most. God, everything about you holds me, Ana. "I have never understood what you see in me. And seeing you with her, it brought all that home." Seeing me with her? Leila is nothing to me. How could she not see she is everything? She is God in my world. How could she not understand that? How could she think anyone held a candle to her?

"Are you going to kneel here all night? Because I'll do it, too." She snapped at me. There's my girl. Regardless, I remained silent.

"Christian, please, please… talk to me," She squeezed her hands tightly together. I wanted to open my mouth, to speak, but I didnt know what to say. She just continued to stare.

"Please," She begged again, so much pain in her voice I couldn't stand it. I said the only thing that came to mind.

"I was so scared." I whispered. That opened the flood gate, then. Here it came… it was happening. Fuck.

"When I saw Ethan arrive outside, I knew someone had let you into your apartment. Both Taylor and I leapt out of the car. We knew, and to see her there like that with you—and armed. I think I died a thousand deaths, Ana. Someone threatening you… all my worst fears realized. I was so angry, with her, with you, with Taylor, with myself." Hell, I'm still fucking angry.

"I didn't know how volatile she would be. I didn't know what to do. I didn't know how she'd react." I stopped, frowning for a moment. "And then she gave me a clue; she looked so contrite. And I just knew what I had to do." I stopped, gazing at her, wondering if I'd overstepped a line. Usually, she would have stopped me.

"Go on," She whispered. She's listening. I swallowed hard, before continuing.

"Seeing her in that state, knowing that I might have something to do with her mental breakdown…" I closed my eyes, remembering her. "She was always so mischievous and lively." I shuddered, taking a rasping breath that was everything close to a sob. She was listening inventively though.

"She might have harmed you. And it would have been my fault." Horror filled me, and it took everything I had not to lose my mind all over again, thinking about it. I fell silent again, not able to continue.

"But she didn't," Ana whispered. "And you weren't responsible for her being in that state, Christian." She batted her eyelashes at me, prompting me to continue. Keep going, make her understand. Maybe she'll stay. Nothing you can say will make her stay. She has to decide that on her own, dumb ass.

"I just wanted you gone," I murmured. "I want you away from the danger, and… You. Just. Wouldn't. Go." I hissed at her, my teeth clenched together to keep me from lashing out. I stared at her intently now. I needed her to understand this.

"Anastasia Steele, you are the most stubborn woman I know." I closed my eyes and shook my head once more, remembering her vehemently protesting when I told her to leave. When I opened my eyes again, I realized I had a serious question.

"You weren't going to run?" Of course she's going to run. Have you met you, Christian?

"No!" She almost snapped at me. I closed my eyes, my entire body relaxing. Then, it came pouring out of me again.

"I thought-." I stopped. "This is me, Ana. All of me… and I'm all yours. What do I have to do to make you realize that? To make you see that I want you anyway I can get you. That I love you." I was groveling. Please, just tell me you love me. Promise me you'll never go away.

"I love you, too, Christian and to see you like this is…" She choked, tears streaming down her face again. I didn't move to wipe them away in fear she's flinch away again. "I thought I'd broken you."

"Broken? Me? Oh no, Ana. Just the opposite." I can't fuckin' take it anymore. I reached out and took her hand in mine. "You're my lifeline," I whispered. I brought her hand to my mouth and kissed each of her knuckles before pressing my palm to hers. It was here in this moment; I realized what I had to do. What I needed to do and wanted to do for her. I tugged on her hand gently, and placed it right over my chest, the place where no one had gone before. My breathing quickened, as I tried to focus on her. I love her. You can do this for her, Grey. She isn't going anywhere. She needs this. She needs all of you for it to be real. My heart was beating a million miles an hour under her palm. I knew she could feel it. I never took my eyes off her. She's keeping me sane. I released her hand, allowing her to leave it there. She stretched her fingers, causing my jaw to tense. The blood was pounding behind my ears. This is Ana, Grey. The girl you love. This isn't some asshole beating you, or sticking cigarettes to your chest. This is your future. You can do this. I held my breath. She must have seen my internal struggle, because she started to remove her hand.

"No," I said, quickly. I placed her hand back where it had been. Pressing her hand hard against my chest. "Don't." She then scooted closer to me, so our knees were touching as well. She raised her other hand, letting me know what she intended to do. Fear was pumping through my veins now, but I didn't stop her. She started undoing the buttons of my shirt, slowly. My eyes never left hers, watching her intently, trying to keep from losing what little bit of sanity I had left. When she'd gotten all the buttons undone, she opened my shirt. I swallowed hard, waiting. She raised her hand to repeat the gesture, but she didnt touch me. She looked at me, now asking for permission. I tilted my head to the side, her invitation, but she didn't move. She's afraid too.

"Yes." I breathed. The moment her hand touched my skin, my body went hot. I closed my eyes tight, as the pain of what was happening seared through me. She loves you, Grey. She isn't going to hurt you. I kept telling myself that over and over again. She started to pull away again, obviously having a hard time seeing me like this, but I quickly grabbed her hand, laying it back over my chest once more.

"No," I murmured, my voice strained. "I need to." I need to show you what you mean to me. This was agony, beyond anything I'd ever experienced, but I'd endure it for her. I'd walk through fire for her. I'd take a thousand cigarettes to the chest for her. She started moving her hand, tracing the plains of my chest. My mouth falls open, my breathing labored. My eyes are closed, as I picture her, but the memories of the pain keep flooding through. They're my past, but they haunt me. They'll never go away. I opened my eyes, and watched as she leaned closer to my chest, and pressed her lips softly right above my heart. I groaned out of an emotion I wasn't sure of. For me, this was erotic, only because it brought so much pain along with it.

"Again," I whispered. She repeated the process over and over again. It was then I realized she was pressing her lips to every one of my scars. She's trying to take away the pain. I groaned loudly, suddenly over taken. Before I knew it, my hands were in her hair, pulling her mouth up to mine. The kiss was painfully hungry and desperate.

"Oh, Ana." I breathed. I pulled her down to the floor, putting myself on top of her. She reached up to cup my face, and realized at the same time I did, that I was crying. She looked shocked, but I wasn't. From the pain and pleasure I'd just endured, I had every right to fucking cry.

"Christian, please don't cry. I meant it when I said I'd never leave you. I did. If I gave you any other impression, I'm so sorry… please, please forgive me. I love you. I will always love you." I was over top of her, gazing down at her beautiful face full of so many emotions. She doesn't know. She can't ever know. She'll leave for sure.

"What is it?" I can't.

"What is this secret that makes you think I'll run for the hills? That makes you so determined to believe I'll go?" She pleaded. "Tell me, Christian, please…" How do I tell her? How do you explain that you're a sick sadistic freak? I sat up, allowing her up as well. I crossed my legs and stared at her. I thought I was in pain before.

"Ana…" I stopped. I can't do it. I can't do it. She needs it. She has every right to know. I have to, but I can't. GOD DAMN IT, make it stop. I took a deep breath and swallowed hard. "I'm a sadist, Ana. I like to whip little brown-haired girls like you because you all look like the crack whore—my birth mother. I'm sure you can guess why." The words tumbled out of me, but I could tell by her expression she understood. In my head, I was watching as I beat all fifteen… sixteen of my submissives, but pictured her face. The crack-whore. That fucking woman's face, who left me. She didn't love me. God, why do I have to endure this? As I stared at her expression, I knew beyond a doubt what was about to happen.

My world stopped.

She'll run.