There is a determined knock on the door. Eight-year old Sara skips up from the living room floor, where her homework is scattered. She runs to and opens the door expectantly; it could be her best friend Eric. It's not. She doesn't know the man smiling down at her, asking for her mum, and she loses interest immediately.
"Mom! She yells. Someone's at the door!"
There's no reaction from the kitchen, from where the tunes of Fleetwood Mac, singing about never breaking the chain, is booming.
Sara rolls her eyes at the visitor and skips to the kitchen opening to get her mother's attention.
"MOM! SOME GUY'S AT THE DOOR!"
"I DON'T KNOW!" She answers to an inaudible question.
Lindsey Buckingham's pleading voice becomes faint in the background and a flushed Ana Randall comes out of the kitchen, hair tousled and wearing big yellow rubber gloves. She walks busily to the front door.
"Yes ... ?" she says politely, and then gasps at the sight of the visitor, who is not a stranger at all.
"No … " It's a whisper, almost a whimper. In front of her, on the small and beautiful vine-over grown porch, is Christian Grey.
"Anastasia." He says her name slowly.
She shakes her head. She doesn't want this. It can't be happening. She feels her face getting hotter and doesn't know what do, what to say. So she says nothing.
" So … long time, no see", Christian says with half a smile, his look apprehensive.
"What are you doing here?" Ana almost interrupts him, her tone cold.
He startles and even fidgets slightly. He looks so misplaced on her porch, in this cute middle class neighborhood, where people drive family-sized Toyotas, barbecue in their front-yard and take their dogs and toddlers for walks.
"Uhm … maybe not the reaction I was expecting." He's smiling, but Ana can see that he's nervous – she knows that face so well. – Can I come in for a minute or two?
Ana still doesn't know what to say, but she takes a step back and reluctantly stretches out a rubber clad hand, showing him in. As she closes the door behind him she's overwhelmed by emotion. She had been hoping this day would never come, and after being able to avoid Christian Grey for ten years without much effort, she had been counting on that it wouldn't. Ten years. Ten years she might have spent with him, loving him. But she made the most difficult choice of her life and left him. At the time it almost killed her, but she knows she made the right choice.
"Please take a seat in the living room, and let me get cleaned up. Would you like some coffee?"
The best way to go about this is to pretend Christian is just one of the neighbors, coming over for a coffee and chat. He says yes to the coffee and goes to sit down. Ana disappears into the bathroom and takes a look at her self in the mirror. She looks so not-appropriate for seeing Christian Grey for the first time in ten years. Her hair is messy, tied up in a sloppy pony-tail, with curls escaping like a halo around her head. Her face is positively red and she actually has a black smudge on her nose, from some or other newly cleaned item in the kitchen.
Ana is mortified. And come to think of it angry, which is a better feeling. He wants to see her after ten years? How about making a fucking phone call? Or sending an email, or even a bloody postcard? Safe to say there are several contacting options much more appropriate than showing up at her house unannounced. What could he possibly want? In an instant, her anger turns to worry. It must be bad news, for him to show up like this. Then again they have no connections any more, except Kate and Elliot, and she talks to Kate almost every day. Never about Grey, obviously. In fact, Kate hasn't mentioned his name in years, and neither has Elliot, Christian's brother, on the rare occasion that Ana sees him. They obviously see Christian quite often, but the arrangement has always been that they are never invited at the same time, and it has actually worked well. If Ana had lost Kate as well as Christian …
She throws the yellow rubber gloves on the floor, washes her hands and face and straightens her hair as best she can. She improves the mascara a bit and puts a tiny amount of lip gloss on. She wants look as good as she can, but she can't come out of the bathroom looking like she actually made an effort. Through the bathroom door the voices of Christian and her daughter Sara are muffled and there is no way of hearing what they are talking about. At least they are talking.
So Grey, here I come, ten years later. She brings the coffee to the living room and pours it while Sara and Christian keep talking. The topic is school, but they're joking and laughing, and Christian makes an entertaining impression of one of his high school teachers. They seem to have bonded quickly. Ironic, since Sara is kind of the reason she left him. And very unfair, that he seems so relaxed in HER home after TEN years of not seeing Ana.
But when Ana sits down on of the sofa opposite him, he turns toward her and the ease is gone. He looks apprehensive and tense.
"Sara, could you please take your home work up to your room? Mr. Grey and I need to talk", Ana asks her daughter.
For some reason, perhaps something in Ana's voice, Sara immediately acquiesces. She gathers her things and scrambles up to her room, singing the Fleetwood Mac tune that was playing earlier.
"She's gorgeous," Christian says warmly. "She looks and sounds just like you. She seems like a bright girl."
"She very much is, Ana says, wanting to sound pleasant but failing."
She feels slightly sick, looking at him on the other side of the coffee table. Obviously he looks really good, but that's not news; he is still frequently photographed at various events and Ana's even seen his piercing gray eyes looking at her from the front of Forbes' Magazine a couple of times. At the news agent's of course, she would never buy it. She sighs; better to get to the point.
"Christian, I really don't know how to start a conversation with you after not having seen you for ten years. I think I'm in shock. So please, why are you here? Is something wrong?"
"Other than the fact that I haven't seen you for ten years, no."
He's trying to make a joke, but he sounds unconvincing. He takes a deep breath, and starts over.
"Anastasia, it's really good to see you. You look like you are doing well. And your daughter is amazing. And I like your house, the little I've seen."
Christian Grey apparently does not forget his manners as easily as she seems to do, go figure. But she waits in silence for him to continue. She's not interested in flattery.
"Everything is perfectly fine. I just … I've been thinking about you lately and I wanted to see how you were. I thought I might ask you out for dinner and catch up, or something. I apologize for just showing up, it wasn't my intention at all to begin with. But the more I thought about giving you a call, the more convinced I got that you would probably hang up on me. And then I was going to email you, but if what if you chose not to answer? I wanted at least a chance to talk to you, you know."
He runs his hand through his hair, and he looks irritated all of a sudden. But his voice is soft when he continues.
"And now I've said things I didn't mean to say at all. Can't we just have a pleasant conversation and catch up a bit? I mean it; I have no other motive than just seeing how you are. You have meant more to me than any one, and you changed my life. I'll always wonder how you are."
With the last sentence he looks shyly at her – Christian Grey, 39 years old, business genius - but still shy in her presence. And although she doesn't want to Ana relaxes a bit, and starts to think that she can get through this. It won't be much different from seeing a long lost friend.
"I'm sorry Christian, like I said; I think I'm in shock. It feels totally unreal that you're here – it's been so long since … But of course it's good to see you. Perhaps, for our first meeting I would have preferred not have been covered in dirt and dressed in rubber."
She flushes immediately. What the FUCK did she say that for? But Christian is obviously amused, his eyes light with humor, and just like that the thick tension filling the airy room dissipates.