A/N: This is way different from what I usually write. The idea just kind of planted itself and refused to go away. So read… enjoy… and let me know what you think.
It wasn't the first time she had left him.
And in her heart, she knew that it wouldn't be the last time either.
She hated that she was so weak. That she couldn't seem to just cut him loose and move on with her life. She hated that, despite everything, she would inevitably always end up standing before him. She hated that he always, without fail, took her back. She hated that she had no idea what she would do if he didn't take her back.
She hated that she was dependent on him. Dependent on his touch… dependent on his stoic cynicism… dependent on his hard exterior… dependent on him. She hated that he made her feel like a kept woman.
But what she hated most of all was that he always seemed to have the upper hand. Even when she left—even when she declared that this was the last time—he knew, and more importantly, she knew that it was only a matter of time before she walked back in through those doors for another round of torture.
She hated that this was like a game to him. She hated that he viewed her internal conflict as nothing more than a childish fancy. She hated that he looked down on her as an immature brat who, if she didn't get her way, would stomp her foot and try to punish him.
She hated that nothing she ever did effected him. She hated that her punishment was waved off and barely even acknowledged. She hated that all he had to do was look at her and she was under his thumb and would do anything. No matter how degrading or how disgusting it was—he beckoned and she came.
She hated how he peered at her over the edges of his newspaper—waiting for her to speak. She hated how his eyes traveled over to the bags that were gripped in her hands. She hated how, once again, she was begging and he was the master. She hated his deceptively patient expression.
She hated that she needed him.
She hated her weakness.
She hated him.
"I came back," she simply stated.
"I can see that."
For one moment she thought that he was going to resume reading the newspaper and ignore her altogether. She was surprised within an inch of her life when he folded up the periodical and fixed her with his patented I'm waiting gaze. She hated that gaze. She hated the familiarity of this situation. She hated that she now had to explain why she was back… again. She hated that there was really no need for her to explain but that he would make her do so anyway.
"What, pray tell, is the reason this time?" he inquired, feigning disinterest.
The telltale way his eyes roamed over every inch of her, told her that he wasn't as disinterested as he pretended. She just wasn't sure if the interest had more to do with his delight over owning her again, rather than any real interest in what had caused her to come running back into his life.
"The reason I left or the reason I came back?" she asked, still holding her bags in her hands.
There was still time for her to back down. All she had to do was turn on her heel, open that door, and disappear. She need never look back. He wouldn't try to stop her. He'd let her leave. He wouldn't seek her out. He wouldn't try to force her back. He'd let her walk out of his home… out of his life… without so much as a second glance.
But she knew that she didn't have enough self-control to leave him for good. Especially not now. She'd never had much self-control when it came to him.
Her weakness was his power.
"Either one," he answered her question.
The distance between them was vast. It had always been that way. She stood on one side of the room while he was on the opposite end. It still baffled her how this… relationship came about in the first place. How they managed to meet up at all was a mystery to her. If any two people were ever completely wrong for one another, it was them.
She despised him.
And she told him this.
"Why did you come back?" he asked again, ignoring her declaration.
She dropped her bags. They landed loudly on the hardwood floor. His eyes never left hers and he never moved an inch from that chair. She closed her eyes and was surprised to see his image still burning into her consciousness. She knew then, with that one simple realization, that she'd never be able to see anyone else. He was burned into her—into her soul… her insides… her brain.
Her entire being was defined by him and she hated the fact.
"I hate how you make me feel."
He rose from the chair then and stalked over to her with the grace of a panther. His hard features burned into her and made her knees weak and wobbly. His eyes seared her with their harshness… cruelty… power… possessiveness. He wasn't a gentle man but somehow she'd never wanted him to be.
His harshness was what drew her to him. His sharp angles and coldness—it was all part of him and she was inexplicably drawn to it like a moth to a flame.
"And how exactly do I make you feel?" he growled into her ear.
How she found the courage to do it, she'd never know. But somehow she managed to push him away and disentangle herself from his close proximity. She expected him to be angry, but instead, he simply backed up and gave her space.
"I've got something to say," she declared, her voice slightly shaky and less than confident. "And you're going to listen until I'm finished."
Something akin to amusement flickered briefly across his face. She didn't catch it and, even if she had, she probably wouldn't have recognized it anyway.
"I hate you. And I mean that in every sense of the word. I hate the way you look at me—as though I'm nothing more than a possession. I hate the way you touch me. I hate the way you feel inside me and I hate how nothing I do could ever effect you. I hate that you hold the power and I hate that you lord it over me."
She took a deep breath and let her eyes meet his. He was listening to every word that she spoke. He was taking it all in and, to her surprise, he didn't look angry.
"I hate that I never know what you're thinking. I hate that you find me as transparent as glass while I have no insight into you. I hate that you know what I'm going to do before I know that myself. I hate that nothing I do ever surprises you."
She stepped forward, moving closer to him. He didn't move—refused to meet her even halfway. But she didn't really expect him to. He'd never done so before; why would he start now?
She ran her hands over his cotton covered chest. There was nothing soft about him, but strangely enough, she never felt more at home than when she was with him… touching him and being touched by him. It was what she knew; it was what she craved; it was what she needed.
She rested her head in the crook of his neck and was surprised that he allowed her such an intimate embrace.
"You're like poison," she continued, an air of defeat apparent in her tone. "You're poisoning me and no matter how often I try to grab onto the anti-dote, I find that I don't really want to be cured. I don't want to be saved. Perhaps it's some defect in me—because all I get from you is punishment. You don't love me. I don't think you could ever love anyone. But somehow what you give me is enough. No matter how much I struggle within myself and try to convince myself that I need more—the fact is, that I'm so pathetic that I'll hang onto whatever scraps you give me."
She felt tears slipping down her cheeks and landing on his shoulder. She made no attempt to stop the display of vulnerability. After all, she was always laid open and bare to him—why should this time be any different?
"This is unhealthy. It's wrong on so many levels but I don't know why… I just keep coming back. And I hate myself for that. I don't want to be in this dependent position—I don't want to want you… I don't want to need you."
"But you do," he finally spoke.
She nodded into his shoulder and was surprised when his hands slipped around her waist and embraced her. It was as loving and gentle as he'd likely ever get.
"I'll never be happy," she told him in all honesty. "You make that impossible. And you'll never change—I know that. And there's no point in me imagining, even for a millisecond, that you would. You won't; that's all there is to it. And I've already changed enough; I'm not slipping any further than I already have."
Still locked in the circle of his arms, she pulled away from his neck and met his eyes again. He was still stoic and seemingly unemotional. She thought she saw something else there but she'd long ago given up trying to read him. That was nothing more than an act in futility.
She steeled herself for the remnants of her speech.
"You asked me why I came back." She took a deep breath and looked directly, almost defiantly, into his eyes. "I came back because, despite everything—despite all the hatred I feel for you and myself—when you touch me, I forget everything. I forget to hate you… I forget to hate myself. Like I said, it's unhealthy and pathetic, but there's something about us—something about how we are together—that ensures that I'll always come back."
She paused one final time.
"So, I'm home," she declared. "Eventually you're going to break me… you're going to kill me… but, somehow, I don't care."