He never stopped her.

She could rant and rave and scream at him all she wanted. She could insult everything he stood for, verbally tear him to shreds, and he never shut her up. He let her to rant herself into exhaustion, observed her anger flare high and slowly turn to ash, waited for when she was ready to host a civilized conversation again.

He never denied her accusations, but he never agreed with them, either. He just stood there, or sat there, or laid there, and apathetically watched her go on and on and on. Everything he did—or lack thereof—got her angry at one point or another, but that was just how she was and he knew it, too.

And he never stopped her.

How they had grown to tolerate each other even this much was beyond her. Sometimes the littlest things set her off, and he never told her to fuck off, never told her to stop talking, never said a word. He never did a thing, but somehow he got her ranting in circles until she understood his side of it.

Maybe the fact he didn't give her any ammunition was why his technique worked so well, but right now it was that very nonchalance which enraged her.

"Why don't you ever talk back?" she demanded shrilly. She noticed the way her voice cracked, but she was beyond caring. "I berate you, I insult you, I'm always going against you, and you never do anything! How can you do that? How the hell can you just let me do that to you?"

Livid and hurt and confused, she glared up into his emotionless eyes, wishing that there was something she could do, something she could say to make that mask shatter. She took a threatening step closer to him, and he didn't move.

"You don't have to let me do all this to you, you know. You can defend yourself; you've done it before. Why'd you stop? Am I really that unworthy of a response? Do I just not matter? I thought we had something going, here. I thought we could actually get along and be civil for once. Do you just not think that way or something?"

She awaited his answer, and after several moments she realized that it wasn't coming. It gave her the feeling that he didn't agree with her.

"Huh?" She waved her arm around challengingly. "Huh? If I'm obviously so wrong, then you fucking tell me." She jabbed her finger at herself for emphasis. "What am I supposed to be thinking right now?"

Again, he just stood there, staring at her with that damned blank expression. It told her nothing, and he didn't offer to clarify in any way, shape or form. It fucking pissed her off. If he wasn't telling her anything, then what the hell was she supposed to think? She couldn't read his fucking mind, and they saw each other often enough that they needed to figure out how to deal with each other. They, as in, not just her. It wasn't a hard concept to grasp, and she knew for a fact that he wasn't mute. He couldn't pretend he was now.

"Talk to me," she snarled. "This was gonna happen eventually, and I'm gonna go as soon as I get an answer, so let's just get it over with."

She didn't really think that she would get an answer this time, either. If he hadn't replied by now then chances were that he wasn't going to, but instead of letting it go and trying the subject again at a better time, his lack of a response just pissed her off more.

What the fuck was his problem? Did he think that just because he had issues he was more privileged than everybody else or something? Was that it? If he didn't feel like talking to somebody he didn't have to because he was so amazing and alone in the world and they would take too much pity on him to care that he had his head up his ass? That he was so special that he didn't hurt other people's feelings by not acknowledging that they were talking to him about something serious, or even when they had known and somewhatnotreally gotten along with each other for years?

Well, she had news for him: he wasn't and he never would be that special. That useless fucking jackass.

Acting on an impulsive thought of rage and desperation, she didn't even think before she was advancing. Her hands flew to his shoulders and she shoved him up against the wall that stood so conveniently behind him. She yanked him down to her level and crushed their lips together so hard it was like kissing with her teeth. She channeled everything she was feeling into mercilessly plundering his mouth, alternately nipping and sucking and caressing. Depression and hurt and confusion and anger and affection and desperation—it was all there, and she wanted to make sure he felt it. It was like the physical version of her ranting.

And just like when she ranted, he let her do it.

His mouth was slack and unresisting as she pried his teeth apart with her tongue and thrust it in, probing and lashing at him in a vain attempt to get him to do something. He didn't respond, neither positive nor negative, and her tongue continued to bat his around uselessly. It was like kissing a rag doll. She could do anything to him, and he wouldn't stop her. It drove her insane. Absolutely, completely, utterly fucking insane. She could rape him, slap him, just stand here kissing him until she passed out, and he'd let her do it.

He never stopped her.

Wanting some kind of a reaction—any kind of a reaction—she drew her tongue back and bit his bottom lip until she tasted blood. She expected him to shove her off, to bite back, to hold her away from him, but he didn't even twitch. He stood there, awkwardly bent down towards her and leaning partially against a wall she had shoved him against, and let her continue her assault.

He never stopped her.

Growing more and more frustrated, she grabbed his hand and shoved it up her shirt, forcing him to touch her breasts, her stomach, her hips, just under the waistband of her jeans. His hand was limp the entire time, neither moving to continue feeling her up or to pull away. She eventually gave it up and let go. His hand fell from her shirt and to his side, still as lifeless as it had ever been.

He never stopped her.

She spread his slightly-bent legs apart roughly with her knee and moved between them to press their bodies flush against each other. Her chest squished unpleasantly against his bulk, but she ignored it. Kissing him as barbarically and as feverishly as she knew how, she was consumed by the lust and anger and need she didn't know how to handle. He didn't get hard, he didn't kiss back, he didn't do anything.

He never stopped her.

He didn't stop her when she slid her hand up his shirt, pinching and scratching at his warm, soft skin, or when she moved her attack to his nipple, squeezing and rolling and just generally abusing it with her fingers. It had to hurt—it had to—but he gave no indication that he felt anything at all.

He. Never. Stopped. Her.

When she grabbed his hips and forcefully ground them down on her he made no move to resist. She wanted him to growl and push her so hard she fell on her ass. She wanted him to storm out, never to see her again. She wanted him to take her then and there, fuck her absolutely senseless. There didn't have to be any feelings in it. She didn't care. She just wanted him to react, to move of his own violation.

And he never stopped her.

Breathing ruggedly and feeling her heart squeeze so tightly there were tears in her eyes, she stopped and leaned against him, resting her head on his shoulder, staring at his neck and everything that wouldn't get through to him.

He was only panting a little. He never even bothered to glance at her as he looked blankly outwards. His dark, enchanting eyes were perfectly clear, and yet he seemed not to really see at all. His lips were swollen, flushed, and shiny with saliva. There was a trickle of diluted blood slowly oozing out of the corner of his mouth, but he didn't wipe it away. She wanted to, but she couldn't bring herself to move. His face was still expressionless, his body still unresponsive and relaxed, and she felt guilt and sadness and anger threaten to overwhelm her.

A tear squeezed itself from her eye and rolled over her nose, her cheek. Her shoulders began to shake. It was only a little to start, but it became more violent as the occasional tear turned into out-of-control sobs. In an increasingly rare moment of indignity and desperation, she clung to him like a child. Wrapped her arms around his midsection and buried her head into him and bawled like the co-dependant baby she was.

He didn't stop her.

She wasn't supposed to be acting like this. She had a boyfriend that cared about her—more than she could ever hope to get from him—and he didn't deserve her going around doing shit like this. She was supposed to have gotten over the crush she had on him a long time ago. She was supposed to have moved on. They could be sociable, but it would never work for them to be a couple. She knew that.

She wasn't like this. When she was in a relationship, that was it; she tried not to so much as look at other men. She didn't flirt, she didn't suggest, she didn't fool around—and yet here she was, going so far as to even want the man to have sex with her, even to attempt to initiate it.

She understood with crippling clarity the concern that ultimately destroyed of every single one of her past relationships. All along, this had been her problem. It hurt her as much as it scared her, because right now she realized it was never going to go away. She would never be able to keep herself honest and focused again now that she knew. It wouldn't be fair. She wouldn't be able to force herself to go through with it. Just acknowledging this was as good as kissing her current boyfriend goodbye.

Her problem was him.

He was the one she ended up stumbling to whenever she had an overwhelming problem or a really bad day. All of her pent-up emotions somehow released themselves when he was around, and afterwards she always felt the most steadying sense of peace. When she was with him it was as if her defenses didn't exist and she was left naked and more genuine she could remember being in her life.

She didn't really think it was true, but the thought was not one she could shake. Thoughts of him hit her when he was supposed to be the last thing on her mind, when all she should be thinking about was her boyfriend or the beauty of a moment. He was just someone she felt responsible for helping, a charity case at best. They had never really gotten along. There wasn't a reason for it, absolutely no rational explanation at all.

But when all signs pointed in the opposite direction, when it wasn't supposed to be him, it was. It always was.

Somehow he made her more comfortable in her own skin. Somehow it always ended up coming back to him. Somehow he had made himself home.

She needed him. She hated him, hated that thoughts of him fought tooth and nail to consume her, hated herself for acting like this—for even thinking like this—hated that she couldn't live without him, hated that she was realizing the possibility of falling in love with him and how real it was to her. It was more real than anything she had ever known.

She hated how long it had taken her to notice all of this. And she hated what she had done to him—had that really been her?

Why hadn't he made her stop?

Anger flared within her, strong and swift. She was still crying, but she had somehow managed to forget all of her other emotions.

"Why didn't you do anything?" she choked out accusingly. "Why'd you just let me do that to you? Why didn't you stop me?"

She beat his chest with her fist, but it was pitifully weak in comparison to her usual vigor. He probably didn't even feel it, and her anger quickly dissolved into sobs too consuming for her to speak any more. He probably appreciated that.

What had she been thinking? This had to be at least second degree sexual assault. She had never wanted to hurt him, had only wanted to get along with him, help him some, but what she just did completely contradicted all of that. He would never trust her alone with him again. She didn't blame him, she really didn't.

"I'm sorry," she managed to gasp out. "Oh—oh god, I'm s-s-so so-sorry. I—I don-don't know wh-what…"

Deciding that she had already humiliated and disgraced herself enough, she didn't try to finish her sentence. Just collapsed against him and cried harder. The excuse didn't actually excuse anything. He probably didn't care about what she had to say, anyway.

She didn't know how long it really took for her to cry herself out, but it felt like an eternity. She was more ashamed and embarrassed of herself by the second. She had screamed at him, molested him and used him like a piece of furniture.

God, she wanted to kill any and every possible chance of him ever liking her at all, didn't she? She just had to go and throw herself at him, like she was some kind of idiot groupie with no more brain cells than a garden hose.

She didn't even think she recognized herself anymore.

Her eyelids were heavy and sore, and his body was alluringly warm, but she knew she couldn't stay on him. She had probably already crossed every line in existence tonight; she didn't want to make it worse by falling asleep on top of him. She finally pushed herself off and, swallowing the urge to bawl at the thought of looking into the malice his gaze had to be full of, dared to meet his eyes.

But there was no malice, just… emptiness. No reaction hurt more than any emotion he could direct at her, because it told her that she really didn't mean anything to him. If she was at all significant to him, then there would have been a response, a flicker of emotion, a something.

But no. She wasn't even worth his malice. That didn't anger her, that hurt. It hurt more than she had the ability to describe. She knew she deserved it, though. She deserved the worst punishment he could think of. That anybody could think of.

"Tell me you hate me." Despite how it was phrased, it wasn't a command, it was a plea. "Tell me you never want to see me again. Tell me I'm not worth your time. Please… Tell me you want me to leave you alone…"

She felt her eyes fill with tears again, but she didn't want them to fall right now. They could later, when she was alone. It probably didn't make a difference at this point, but she didn't want to cry in front of him again. She didn't want to hurt him or anyone else because of her stupidity.

"I… I think I'm falling in love with you. I—you—I can't do this anymore," she continued, all but begging. Had she any pride left, she would have hated herself for how pathetic she sounded, but she didn't think she did. "I can't let myself do this to you again. I mean—god. I practically raped you back there!" She threw her arm out, but she didn't know what she was supposed to be gesturing to.

"I'm obviously not good for you, and I'm not helping anybody by hanging around you like this. Please. I'll do it if you tell me to. I swear I'm good for it. Just tell me to fuck off and never come near you again. That's all you have to say: I hate you. Go away and never come back. I can't do it on my own. I can't stay away from you because I tell myself to—"

He said her name, the first word he had spoken to her all night. His voice—deep, soft—was perfectly toneless. She instantly fell silent. She couldn't tell what he was going to say, but she hoped it was something along the lines of what she had been pleading for.

Her heart contracted again, but she forced herself to continue looking him in the eye and squeak, "Yes?"

He finally straightened himself, drawing to his full, intimidating height as easily as if nothing had happened. His somber, controlled gaze remained locked with her timid, desperate one. Even after all she had put him through he was still the same gorgeous man she had met all those years ago. She never would have guessed how important he would one day be to her, or how long it would take her to figure it out.

"Stop talking."

He had never stopped her before. He had every right to, every bit of power to do so and to do it easily, but he never did. The true significance of those two words was not lost to her.

She stared up at him, slack-jawed with awe and disbelief. Even when she was plainly getting on his nerves, even when she knew he wanted her to just shut up and leave him alone, he had never tried to. He had never stopped her before.

He had now.

EDIT 9/3/10: Freshened up the prose and shortened Her ranting as much as possible. Some people have asked me to write these two their own full-length story, but since I wrote this roughly three years ago (and have been secretly writing oneshots for them ever since) their dynamic is now not quite so... violent. Still this brand of dysfunctional, but now that I'm older (and hopefully more mature) I highly doubt she would attack him out of the blue anymore. That being said, I've always seriously toyed with the idea of giving these two their own story, literally because I love their abstractedness. I just have yet to get a draft that I like. :/ So I'm not saying I won't, but I'm not making any promises, either. Hopefully that makes sense. ^^"

Comments/questions/criticisms all very welcome :)