A/N at the end. Thanks in advance of the thanks at the end xx
The next day passes relatively uneventfully, of course I have to make a statement to the police but Christian is there and truthfully he's so clear with them about the events and the outcome he expects that I don't feel stressed about it.
Needless to say the news that Mark made bailed is greeted as less than welcome, but the GEH lawyers have already been instructed to file for a restraining order so comprehensive that Mark would probably find life easier if he just left Seattle.
I continue to stay with Christian and we continue to work, the memory of Marks attack begins to lesson and we settle into a routine. Christian waits a few days but just when I begin to feel a little concerned he finally makes a move and we spend the night making love. He's just as tender and just as attentive as the first time.
Before long it's my next shift at the bar, I have a few items of clothing at Christians, having been home for a few hours to catch up with Ryan and Sam. I get changed in his bedroom while he finishes a bit of work in his office. My shift starts at 8 so I've had a few hours with him after work at least.
As I arrive back in the living room he is exiting his office, apparently done for the evening.
"Where are you going?" He asks, appearing genuinely confused.
"I have a shift tonight at the bar" I respond.
"You can't go, not with the lunatic Mark still out there" Christian says his anger and concern evident.
"Mark can't come within a thousand miles of me thanks to your hot shot lawyers. Really Christian, it's fine" I try to explain in a calm tone.
"Anastasia, you can't be serious!" He says.
"Christian, it's my job." I say giving him a 'what can I do?' expression.
He still has the same disbelieving look on his face.
"Christian, I want to go back to college. I have to do this". I explain, though he knows exactly why I've been working two jobs.
"If you want to go back to college then I can help. You don't need to work any job, let alone two" he says exasperated.
"Whoa whoa whoa! I'm not taking your money. We haven't even been dating that long, what's it going to look like if I start hitting you up for your cold hard cash?" I ask.
He just stares back at me, like he hasn't the faintest idea.
"I'm not sure I can quote the great philosopher Kayne word for word but I believe it goes something like, 'I ain't saying she a gold digger'". I say in the worst fake rapper voice ever. I think he'll find my effort humorous but he looks enraged.
"If anyone ever said something like that about you..." He gets out then stops.
"Well they won't cause I'm doing this on my own. I need you to understand." I say as I kiss him, lift my bag and make my way to the door.
"Will I see you later or should I head home tonight?" I ask hopeful that he'll be there after work.
"Of course I'll be there" he replies briskly, his thoughts obviously still full of murderous thoughts for anyone who would insult my good name.
I smile all the way to work. I can't take his money but the offer is touching. Maybe doing without for so long has increased my pride, I don't know but it's just not happening.
I can't believe it when she says she's going to work. Ordinarily I would forbid something so risky, something I disapproved of. I actually have to bite back the words, instead choosing silence. At least at GEH I can watch over her and keep her safe. But she's not a sub and I'm not in a position to forbid anything... If only it were that easy.
I pace the apartment the whole time she's gone. I have to stop myself from going down there and watching her while she works, but I tried that before and I distinctly remember that she was less than pleased.
Instead I do the next best thing. I call Ryan and explain the situation. He too is a bit surprised to hear she's returned to work. We agree that leaving her alone is too risky so Ryan offers to go down now; I explain that I'll head down towards the end of her shift and Taylor can keep an eye out in between. I think she'll not take too kindly to our arrangement but I can't do nothing.
I calm a little but still feel too restless to sit; instead I go to the kitchen for a glass of wine. I stand at the window looking out over Seattle and thinking how my life has changed since the first day I met Ana.
I think about my decision to employ her without her degree, the recommendation and strong academic record that encouraged me. I couldn't have known then what a wise decision I was making.
I'm still thinking about this when the phone rings. I see Ryan's number and assume he's calling with an update.
There is no greeting when he answers the phone just the fateful words, "Christian, Ana's been shot. Oh god it doesn't look good". I can hear the panic in his tone, the shock and terror of it and the same feelings immediately grip me.
Work was going nicely; Ryan and Sam had even popped in. Although I had a sneaking suspicion that their arrival had something to do with Christian. Still I didn't mind, I felt that he took the news of my return to work quite well. Or at least I told him so swiftly and got out of there so quickly that he didn't have time to gather his wits and put up a suitable argument.
I smile thinking about his offer to allow me to return to college. I couldn't accept but still the offer was sweet. However my smile turns to a frown when I see Mark enter the bar. This can't be a coincidence; the restraining order tells him everywhere I'm likely to ever be.
He looks around and I consider ducking into the office but then I think that's a little childish and that maybe he's come to apologise. I should at least hear him out I think.
But as I round the bar he sees me and starts to shout. I back off slightly panicked at his tone. Then I see something in his hand, I can't believe it at first but then I let out a cry, warning the customers and staff to get away.
It's this action that pushes him over the edge and he starts to fire, first at the fixtures and fittings around the bar, broken glass raining down and causing chaos, but then he rounds on me. I move, as quickly as I can but not quick enough.
I realise it's only a bullet but it might as well be a canon ball because as it hits me it sweeps me off my feet. The pain is instantaneous and all consuming so I don't know that Marks been tackled to the ground by a few members of staff and an off duty police officer.
The danger may have passed for everyone but as I lie on the ground, feeling the blood as it oozes from my wound and spreads out on my clothing, I know that this isn't good. I can hear a slight ringing in my ears but apart from that all sound is muffled.
I know I shouldn't have such morbid thoughts but I immediately think of Christian. I think how the last conversation we might have involved me refusing his help to do the thing I've been desperate to do. It seems cruel.
Then I think how the last conversation I might have with him involved my awful impression of Kayne West. I roll my eyes, which to those around me must look like my eyes rolling back in my head cause it earns me a swift slap to the face. Talk about adding insult to injury.
I feel hands on me, people trying to stem the flow of the blood; I see Ryan and Sam's panicked expression. But before long everything goes hazy and ever as I strain against it I can feel the darkness ebb in and overtake me.
"What happened?" I say trying to ascertain the details and the seriousness of Ana's condition.
"That guy ... The one from your office, he came down here shouting like a mad man. He fired off loads of shots but one of them hit her and there was so much blood" Ryan says finally breaking down towards the end.
"Taylor" I scream making my way out of the apartment knowing I need to get to the hospital as soon as I can.
Taylor meets me at the elevator as I hang up, having told Ryan I'll meet him there.
I brief Taylor in the elevator and we both run to the car. He drives as fast as he can, swerving around traffic, skipping amber lights, knowing I won't want to stop until I see her or hear some news. In the car I do what I can, calling my mother and asking her to meet me.
I'm not a relative of Ana's and I fear they won't share medical information with me but we could bring my mum in as her doctor, that way they should be more forthcoming.
When we make it to the hospital we are greeted by a nervous looking Sam, who Ryan has sent to meet us at the door and bring us to the correct area.
"How is she?" I ask, hoping they know something already.
"They've taken her to surgery, we don't know anything yet" Sam responds leading us through the corridors into the room where an emotional looking Ryan awaits. According to them the police have reached out to Ana's family and they are on their way. I wonder briefly if I can help and direct Taylor to coordinate any arrangements.
We all wait in the small room, the silence increasing the feelings of foreboding but none of us able to break it.
When my mother arrives it seems she's brought an entourage. So far Elliot is the only member of my family to have met Ana and this isn't quite the introduction that I'd hoped. Yet still my dad, Elliot and Mia stand, worry on their faces, behind my mother as she approaches.
"Christian" she greets me.
"We haven't heard anything. She's in surgery. I need to know she will be ok. I need her to be ok" I say trying but failing to keep the panic from my voice.
My mother holds my hand gently but she doesn't respond. As a physician she knows not to make empty promises before the facts are in.
"I'll go and see what I can find but we need to let them do their job Christian, interruptions from us won't help them do that" she says calmly, giving my hand a reassuring squeeze.
"Her name is Anastasia Steele" I tell her, saddened that till now I've told them nothing about her and vowing to change that.
As she leaves the rest of my family come to whisper reassuring words and offers to get things any of us may need. I introduce them to Ryan and Sam, briefly explaining what occurred tonight.
Then the silence descends again and I'm filled with despair. I'm angry at myself for allowing her to go to work while Mark was walking around. Yet in truth he wouldn't have gone to jail for his assault on Ana so like it or not she would have continued to be in danger. Maybe if I'd been there I could have done something. I hate myself for letting this happen.
Finally after what feels like an age my mother returns looking alarmingly grave.
"Christian" she says and I feel my heart stop waiting for her to continue, knowing that if anything has happened to Ana I'll never forgive myself and never recover. "She's still in surgery. The injury is to her abdomen, there was significant blood loss and Anastasia had lost consciousness by the time the ambulance arrived. Her condition is described as critical and I know you understand how serious this is. We have to wait Christian, and pray". She finishes touching the side of my face in an attempt to comfort me.
I feel empty, like life has left me. I see the concern in my mother's eyes as she keeps a constant vigil. I sit still, making no movement or sound until finally a doctor arrives with an update.
My mother converses with him while I listen to his words. She's made it through the surgery, but she remains critically ill. The doctor tells us that she's in a coma and that the next 24 to 48 hours will be telling.
They reluctantly allow my mother and I into her room, we're not relatives and as I suspected this has caused us some problems.
When I see her small body, the machines and monitors all hooked up to her, I am almost crushed. I feel so helpless but I know I can at least make sure she receives the best possible care. While I lightly touch her hand I let my mother know my wishes. She leaves to make calls and arrangements with the doctors.
When we are alone I sit beside her and I tell her how I feel, "Anastasia baby, I don't know if you can hear me but I need you to stay strong. I can't be without you Anastasia. I love you".
As I finish I'm aware of someone else in the room. The man looks as distraught as I feel and I stand to introduce myself to the man I quickly learn is Anastasia's father.
I leave them alone then, I don't want to be parted from her but I think he's entitled to privacy. A few hours later her mother arrives also, Taylor having picked her up from the airport and arranged hotel accommodation for them both.
My mother tries to get me to leave, it's well into the night but I won't be convinced. How can I go home, not knowing what will happen to her?
I've handed GEH to Ros, allowing her to keep the business going while I keep my vigil. Though I don't think I can make it through the night in this tortured state I somehow make it four days.
But thankfully on the fourth day the worst of the torture is over and Anastasia finally opens her eyes. She weak, disorientated and still very frail but she smiles faintly when I talk to her, when I kiss her forehead. It's the happiest moment of my life.
And I continue to visit she steadily increases in strength. She asks me about going to work and I explain that I'm on an extended holiday. She doesn't seem convinced so I start to work while she sleeps and that's enough.
Over the time she's in the hospital my family visit her regularly. They seem as taken with her as I am and I love watching them laugh and joke. Unfortunately when it comes to Elliot most of the jokes are at my expense - I find it difficult to mind even this.
Eventually the doctor indicates that Ana will be allowed home if she agrees to rest as much as possible. I want her to come home with me, not wanting further separation. So I ask her.
"Christian, that's so sweet of you but you'll need to go back to work. I should go home and you can see me after. My parents are going to stay around for a few days to help" She says.
"Ana they can stay with me. We can hire someone to help with your care. We've been apart for long enough" I say my voice impassioned.
Christian is so vigilant during my recovery, helping me, support and encouraging me. It makes me stronger.
When he asks where I'm going to live I explain about going home. My hearts only half in it; thinking about my previous refusal of help and my regret when I thought I wouldn't make it. It only takes a little persuasion from him to change my mind.
He doesn't go immediately back to work but after a few days I insist he at least visits the office. He's hired a nurse and my mum and dad are there to help me with anything I need. And that's not to mention his mum and Mrs Jones. Really I don't want for anything.
Before long I'm back on my feet, although admittedly my recovery is slower than I'd like. When she's convinced I'm well enough my mum leaves Seattle. Eventually, Ray goes too and before long its only Christian and I at home.
I say home, because without a doubt that's how it feels. I wouldn't want to leave and I can say with some certainty that Christian wouldn't allow it. And so we continue to live together and recover.
Weeks later I have a follow up appointment at the doctor. Christian is back at work full time and I try to insist on going alone, well being chauffer driven by Taylor but still. He won't hear anything about it. He takes the morning off and we go together.
They run a series of test designed to gauge the lasting effects of my injury. Finally we are sat in front of a doctor who breaks the news that the bullet, though long gone from my abdomen, has left lasting damage and that my fertility is reduced to almost zero.
I hear the words but I don't hear them. Imagine beginning womanhood, well I suppose I'm a little further gone than beginning, but imagine beginning a new relationship and hearing this news. Christian doesn't react. I wonder how he feels.
When we get back to the apartment I'm less numb but maybe more angry. I don't mean to do it but I turn it on him, "You haven't said anything about the news Christian" my tone slightly insipid.
He looks at me passively; he obviously knows what is happening even as my rage robs me of my understanding. "I'm sorry about it Anastasia. But he didn't say it was impossible and you have a lot of tools at your disposal."
I nod my head, dismissing him with my gesture. "I don't have any tools Christian, again you're talking about what you have, not me."
"You're angry, that's natural. I won't argue with you though." Christian says slowly and coolly.
My anger dissipates. His calmness is exactly what I needed. "Christian, you heard the doctor. You know what that means right? I know this sounds foolish and it's the shock but how can you want me?"
"It does sound foolish and it is the shock. You are all I want, do you hear me?" he says, lifting his hand to frame my face. Grief overwhelms me then, the pain of the potential loss that Mark has inflicted on me. He wraps his arms around me and I know in my heart that Christian loves me and it's all I need.
Over time we do talk about it and I realise the truth of what Christian told me that first day, a family is not an impossibility and there is a lot that can be done. But for now it's a problem for another day because Christian and I are only starting out, we're not married and right now we are enjoying each other too much to think about anything like that.
We carry on as before, and I decide despite Christian's reluctance that it's time I returned to work. The first day I go to the office for a few hours he brings home prospectuses from local colleges. I can't help but smile at his persistence. I need to give this some serious thought.
What I decide is that I have a future with Christian, or at least I hope I do. It would be foolish to waste time and pass up on the opportunity I've been working so hard for. He's offering me the most thoughtful and generous gift that it's possible for him to give. So that night over dinner I tell him that yes, I'll accept his offer. He looks pleased but stands and exits the room, leaving me confused.
When he returns I'm still standing there, wondering what happened. I know my expression is one of puzzlement but that only intensifies when he comes towards me and gets down on his knee. "Christian, what are you doing?"
"Anastasia, I think you know what I'm doing. I have something I'd like to ask you. Something I've been meaning to ask for a while but madmen and hospitals kept getting in the way" he says with a smile.
I cannot believe it, a nervous giggle builds and escapes. Can this really be happening?
"Anastasia, I love you. I am glad you accepted my offer about college but that's the least of anything I want to give you. I never expected to feel this way, and yet you have given me things I never dreamed I would ever get to experience; a relationship, friendship and love. I want you to marry me so I can spend my life repaying you. " He says retrieving a ring from his pocket.
I am dumbfounded but know what my answer is. I take a breath and then manage to say it, "yes."
He places the ring on my finger and stands to kiss me. He then wraps his arms around me and gently lifts me from the ground. Into my hair he laughs out, "thank god, at least with you as my wife I won't have to worry about that whole gold digger line". We both just laugh and despite all that's happened I can't help but feel optimistic about the future.
A/N And that's it. Maybe in a few months I might think about an epilogue for them but I'm pleased that I got to finish this story and the little romance that I'd written for them. Thank you to the guest reviewer today who reminded me to get this finished and out.
I can't thank everyone enough for all the comments, follows and favourites. Although not my first story this was a real learning experience for me and I'm pleased with how it all turned out. If you're reading this and haven't ever written anything of your own then I encourage you to give it a go. That's how this started for me and although I'm not expecting the Nobel Prize for Literature any time soon, it is still a deeply satisfying experience to tell your own story xxx