Gotta love me for updating after FOUR days. =)we need to get back to the angst now. though there is a lot of fluff to cushion the...blow.

I mention Michael Jackson in this chapter but I don't mean to bash him in anyway. I totally respect the artist and I love his songs though I'm not a huge fan of him.

…but I am a sucker for Yiruma =)

this is the longest chapter i've written so sit tight.

disclaim, disclaim, disclaim...


"…and I would like to leave you and your non-impressionable minds with a quote from Beethoven: Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life. Get into touch with your spirit and senses, people. Now get out of my classroom!"

Majority of the students chuckled at their professor as they arranged their belongings and filed out of the room, but Christine was still caught up with the awe-inspiring quote that stimulated certain images in her mind. Throughout the day, Christine had been spacing out, daydreaming about what would happen should last night's events continued. If only she hadn't fallen asleep! It took a student tripping on the stairs and scattering his books all over the floor to break Christine from her steamy reverie.

"Music History too invigorating for you today, Mr. Collins?" The professor jokingly said as he gathered his papers and books from his desk. "Would you mind assisting Mr. Collins in collecting his things from the floor, Ms. Daae?" Then he walked out of the room.

Christine blinked once before she was fully able to comprehend the situation. "Sure."

Robert Collins was a dark-haired boy with squinty eyes and pouty lips. He was always the unusual kind of student but a very brilliant musician as well. Now, his ear were turning red as his crush for years bent down from her desk and helped pick up his music notebooks.

"Thanks, Christine," Robert said nervously.

She smiled at him and handed him his things as she retrieved them. "No problem, Rob. Trust me; you aren't the first to fall flat on your butt on these stairs." She giggled and Robert almost fainted at the beautiful way her body shook with her laughter.

"Yeah, uh, thanks." He replied again. After Christine had helped with the mess, she threw her own things into her shoulder bag and walked across the room to the door. She called out a goodbye before leaving.

"Hey, take it easy there, Rob. I'll see you tomorrow."

"Wait, Christine! I wanted to ask you something." Robert audibly gulped before continuing.

"S-so, you like operas?"

"Uhm yeah, occasionally. Why do you ask?" Christine had a feeling about where this was leading to and she felt a little sorry for having to turn him down. He was such a sweet guy once he got through his own nerves.

"Well, I got tickets to this thing next week and I was wondering if maybe, well, you would, you know…go out with me?" Robert chastised himself for being the college dork that he was.

Christine leaned against the door and smiled apologetically at the boy who was sweating bullets and looked as if he was just about to faint.

"Rob, you are a really nice guy. Thanks for the offer but I'm afraid I'm seeing someone right now." Even at her own words, electric waves sped through Christine's body and tingled at her fingers and toes.

"Oh, of course. A girl like you should already have someone." Robert bowed his head slowly as Christine said goodbye and walked out of the door, eager to get to her someone.

-oOo-

With some kind of inspiration or motivation spurring Erik to work rigorously in the pro-shop, he was satisfied with his progress of completing the finger-hole sets of eight bowling balls and finishing old paperwork. He was humming along to the baroque orchestration of Bach—something that he wouldn't do under normal circumstances, but for the entire day, Erik actually felt giddy.

He chided himself for being such a girl, anxious and exuberantly vibrant even towards his sour boss. His fellow office mates eyed him curiously but never questioned him once though they were certain that Erik was in love.

As Erik slumped into his reclining chair, he stretched out his limbs and yawned slightly. He divulged himself into a music magazine and a piece of wrinkled music sheet that he had been keeping for a while. It wasn't until Christine cheerfully entered his pro-shop that he hastily shoved the paper back into his pocket.

"Hey!" Christine beamed at him. Her hair was slightly disarranged and she was out of breath as if she'd been running in a marathon. Erik had the notion though that she hurriedly got out of her car and into Gameworx to see him, and that thought made him smile. He rose from his chair and bent down to kiss her lightly on the lips twice.

"Mmmh. I've been thinking about you. How was school?" Erik wrapped his arms around her body, content with where they were and ignoring the people who were looking at them through the wide glass windows.

"School was school but I could hardly concentrate on anything because of you—not that I mind of course," Christine added, knowing that Erik would rebut by saying that her own thoughts are in her own head or something to that point.

"Oh, but someone did ask me out today so that made today pretty eventful." Christine verbalized as she nuzzled her face into Erik's chest. He went rigid for a second, not long enough for her to sense his discomfort but enough to rouse her suspicions.

"That's okay right? Because there's something more important than that."

"Enlighten me," Erik said rather bitterly but Christine could only smile at him.

"Who I'm going out with now." Christine sealed her statement with a kiss that Erik eagerly responded to. They had to break away of course before an audience formed right outside the door.

"So are you hungry? Where do you want to eat?" Erik eased himself out of Christine's arms and walked over to his desk to clean it.

"I was actually thinking that maybe we could just chill at your place tonight. Cook something to eat and watch a movie, yeah?" Though the suggestion was perfectly said with the right amount of innocence, Erik was not one to miss how each word from her mouth was laced with a certain expectation—one that caused him to stop his movements and cast a sideward glance at Christine who was busying herself with rearranging the brochures that were laid out near the window.

"Something else you thought of doing tonight?" Erik mused, hoping and praying that she would say what he wanted her to say, though fear suddenly bubbled in his chest.

"Why, Mr. Destler? Planning on creeping in on me in the middle of the night again?" Christine walked over to Erik and batted her lashes at him, causing him to chuckle at her playfulness.

"Somehow, I'm more afraid of you committing that indiscretion, Ms. Daae." Christine cocked an eyebrow at him. "Nonetheless, I'll bring you to my humble abode, mon ange." Erik sighed.

-oOo-

Since Christine had driven over to Gameworx, they decided to convoy their way to Erik's apartment with Christine driving behind Erik. Turns out that he didn't live too far from Gameworx and Christine puzzled over the fact that Erik chose to drive to Gameworx rather than walk to save on gas. As they turned into a narrow street lined with tall oak trees, Christine came to realize that Erik would rather drive anywhere be it near or far to have an excuse to hide his face. A sudden rush of sympathy warmed Christine's heart.

"Oh Erik," Christine breathed out as they finally pulled into the curb. Erik gracefully stepped out of the car, surveying the surroundings for an instant before landing his gaze on Christine. He motioned for her to step out of her car with a wave of his hand and a crooked smile.

The town that they lived in wasn't big or popular but it was bordering the lines of urban-development and this was very much present in the new renovated apartment buildings that Erik was leading Christine into. It was a big, glassy, modern building that was at least five stories high. Christine was suddenly thrilled by the prospect of actually getting to see where Erik spent his nights and days because after all, one can know a person through his or her home.

Erik, on the other hand, was extremely nervous as he led Christine into the elevator. She was holding onto his hand and traced her index finger along his own—something that she frequently did when they joined hands and it always soothed Erik somehow. He reveled in how her small, innocent gestures overwhelmed him and altered his emotional environment. But that didn't stop him from worrying about Christine's reaction when he would let her in his apartment. He had always lived alone so worrying about living up to someone else's standards was never a problem for Erik. He decorated his home the way he wanted to and lived the life of a true bachelor.

Not wanting to show Christine his anxiety, Erik swiftly stuck his key into the knob and turned it. He reached in and switched the 'fog lights' as he liked to call them because they were yellowish and dim, situated at the corners of the rooms. He rarely used the fluorescent lights because his eyes were strained enough under the garish lights of Gameworx. At least here, he could have his own peace.

Already, the sun was nestling itself in the clouds. Right across from where they were standing was a very large glass window that served as the wall, it made the room seem larger and with the sunset hues playing on the furniture, Christine couldn't help but think how sexy his apartment was. As soon as the door had opened, Christine roamed her eyes over every detail of his apartment or at least what she could immediately see. His home was undoubtedly modern and very manly. Most of the furniture was themed into abstract shapes: angular and curved. They were toned in the shades of black, gray, and white.

Naturally, the gadgets would be just as modern and Christine stood agape at the widescreen plasma television that sat near the east wall. On either side of it were racks of DVDs and music CDs that Christine planned to go through later one. What caught Christine's attention the most though was the rug underneath the coffee table that was long and wavy and printed onto it were black and white piano keys.

"I-It isn't much," Erik quietly said from where he was standing. He had his hands clasped behind him and looked back and forth between his living room and Christine.

"Perhaps you'd like to actually step into my apartment now?" Erik chuckled. Christine was still standing on the threshold of the door and she obediently took two steps forward, still in awe over his apartment. He wasn't lying when he said that he was rich but it stuck to Christine even more that he was incredibly humble about it.

"You. Have. An amazing. Apartment."

Erik laughed at the young girl's reaction. He loosened up knowing that his home was receiving positive feedback. "I like to mix and match designs once and a while. You caught me in my minimalistic, abstract, pianist theme."

"You designed all this yourself?" Christine started walking around, eager to see what other beautiful architectural designs translated from Erik's mind.

"In my spare time, yes." Erik followed Christine into the kitchen that was designed just as beautifully. "Sometimes I use the body of different music instruments and pattern it into my furniture. I've had this design for quite some time now but I haven't gotten around to changing it." Erik wanted to add that he'd been busy writing a composition for her but decided against it.

"Don't change it! I love the whole piano design. It suits you well, but wow I had no idea you did interior designing! What, are you an engineer too?"

"Architect would be the more appropriate term, actually. With all this spare time, I'd be bound to try other things, right? And I do remember mentioning to you before that I earned several degrees in college which proved to be of my advantage after all."

Christine did remember that. In fact, she remembered everything he said the moment he began opening up about his past.

"Of course I remember that. Well, then. It seems that I've taken it to my liking to fall in love with a genius." Christine walked over to Erik and wrapped her arms around his waist.

"Genius? Hardly. I'm a fool to fall in love with a woman out of my league—hardly even of officially legal age yet!"

Christine swatted him on his chest. "If you haven't noticed, my birthday is coming up. I'll be twenty-one soon enough, mister. By the way, what you planning?" Christine could never escape her own curiosity and she would keep rambling.

"Alright, before we discuss that, why not we talk about what we are having for dinner this evening?"

"Got ingredients for Mexican food?" Christine smirked.

"Christine, I have everything you need."

-oOo-

The next hour was spent in the kitchen. If before it looked like a superior kitchen that could've passed for an open house room, now it looked like a bunch of toddlers raided the place with food bits littering the counters and tiles. Guacamole sauce spilled over the blender, nacho chips and tomato slices messed up the island but neither of them could care for they were utterly enjoying themselves.

Christine set the light mood with famous songs from the 80s that boomed in every single room in the house with the speakers being literally Surround Sound. Erik had a hand towel draped over his shoulder as he swiftly cut bell peppers and other vegetables for a Mexican Nacho Salad. He looked over at Christine who was busying herself with the dips and sauces since that was all Erik allowed her to make.

He had to stop chopping and just stare at Christine who had her back turned to Erik that allowed him a good view of her swaying hips and backside. She was thrashing her head from side to the screams of Michael Jackson. He was singing something to the lines of "I'm Bad…" and Erik couldn't understand why this appealed to Christine at all but she really enjoyed it.

Christine was humming along to the song, occasionally singing the lyrics. Erik was so enthralled by the way that she gracefully moved her body and vaguely wondered if she had been a dancer before. Suddenly she turned around and reached for the salt and caught Erik staring at her before he cleared his throat and began to busy himself with chopping the onions. He prayed that she didn't notice his enflamed cheeks. Christine smiled to herself then washed her hands in the sink after placing the bowls of salsa and guacamole on the cleanest counter.

"You know, my Music History teacher shared a quote with us today." Christine began while walked over to the stereo in the living room.

"Is that so? I trust it to be a beautiful quote from someone as notable as Mozart?" Erik said, reaching for the bag of nacho chips and pouring them into a big bowl.

"No, actually. He quoted Beethoven." Christine called out. Erik heard the sounds of plastic cases clunking together and he realized that she was looking through his CDs. That thought made Erik uneasy as he didn't know what she would expect. The Michael Jackson CD had been a gift.

"Beethoven? That man didn't know music if it screamed into his ear! Mozart was more highly revered than him, in my opinion." Erik finished with the salad and cleaned up his hands, rinsing them in the sink. After that he followed Christine into the living room that was romantically dim with the night sky painting a dark background against the soft fog lights. Christine just stood up and popped something into the CD player before turning around.

"Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life," Christine said, right before soft, piano music filled the air. "I personally believe this to be one of his most awe-inspiring quotes, don't you think? I know you don't really like Beethoven but it's only his intense passion for music is so evident in his music that pe—,"

Erik laughed quietly before he strode over to Christine, effectively silencing her with his lips.

"To talk well and eloquently is a very great art, but that an equally great one is to know the right moment to stop." Erik breathed with his lips still connected to Christine's. His arms wrapped themselves around Christine's petite frame and she tiptoed up into his body.

"Mozart." Christine moaned as Erik's roaming hands found their way into her button down shirt. She bit down lightly on Erik's neck causing him to suppress a delightful shudder.

"No," Erik whispered as he licked and nibbled on her earlobe. "The name's Erik."

Christine smiled knowing that she should very well be moaning the name of the man who had his hands in her shirt rather than the musician who is long dead. This, right here, was real and alive.

Then, Erik scooped up Christine's legs and she instinctively locked her feet behind him. Erik had his hands gripping tightly on her derriere so she pressed into his abdomen, swallowing his moan. Without hurting her, Erik slammed her body into the wall, almost toppling the stereo nearby. With Christine propped up against the wall, he began his descent into the valley of her supple breasts and she weaved her fingers into his raven hair. Each lick and kiss from Erik's mouth caused Christine to ground her hips against Erik's which were in a rather elevated situation.

While Erik was sucking on Christine's neck, she thought that she heard him say something against her hot skin.

"What?" Christine managed to say before biting her lip as Erik began to lick at the indention in between her clavicles.

"River Flows Into You," Erik brought his head up to reply then crashed his lips against Christine's kiss-swollen mouth. She realized that he had said the title of the next track that had begun to play. If he hadn't pointed that out, she wouldn't have noticed Yiruma playing a different song. In her opinion, this was a song that embodied the essence of making love. Every note, every crescendo oozed with sexuality and Christine felt herself become wetter.

"Mmh," Erik's thoughts must have mirrored Christine's exactly because he pushed away from the wall with her body in his arms and carried her to what Christine perceived to be his bedroom. Christine wound her arms around Erik's neck and ravaged his mouth with her own. They swiftly passed the kitchen and then Christine remembered about dinner.

"Erik…the f-food…" but neither Erik nor Christine could hardly care about the food that they could consume after. Christine was totally thrilled that Erik finally agreed to make love to Christine. She felt so ready for him and even though she knew that it was going to hurt for her first time, she also knew that Erik would do everything in his power to keep her happy. She couldn't wait to be bonded with Erik fully and this act was the only physical way to seal their intense love for each other. They'd been through a lot to get to this point but at long last…

This is it. Man up, Destler. Erik pushed through the bedroom door and slowly perched Christine on the edge of his bed. He broke the kiss away only to melt Christine's insides with his smoldering, emerald gaze. There was nothing more beautiful than the woman sitting on his bed whose hair was tousled; lips red and swollen; and glowing amber eyes that were half-lidded. Erik knelt in front of Christine and unbuttoned her skinny jeans. She smiled dreamily and raised her hips to help him remove her jeans. She threw her head back, exposing her long, silky neck and Erik groaned at the sight.

After her jeans were removed, he took his own shirt and jeans off and moved over Christine who had crawled into the center of the large bed.

"Such a large bed, Erik. I don't expect that you use this for anybody else?" Christine cooed against his lips as she began to fully unbutton her shirt. Erik shook his head and licked Christine's lips. In fact, Erik had not bedded any other woman before Christine and his fear of not knowing what to do was bubbling up in his throat but he suppressed that feeling and gave way to his primal need to ravage Christine's body.

The music was still playing in the room and it was beginning to build up into the climax. Christine then threw her shirt away leaving her scantily clad in her lace bra that just happened to match her underwear. Erik had the notion that Christine had planned this night but then again, he had instigated it.

Erik had never thought that his life would finally boil down to this moment with a woman in his arms actually moaning because of his own ministrations. He knew exactly where to apply pressure on her body and what parts made her shudder when he ran his tongue over them. He knew exactly how to kiss her and how to stop just enough to tease her.

"Erik…" Yes, Erik thought. Moan my name.

"Erik. Erik!" He didn't realized that she had stopped moving and started looking at him with an intent expression though she was panting heavily. How a woman can concentrate on anything else during a moment like this, Erik would never know.

"What is it Christine? Too much?" Erik, at the moment, had his two fingers inside of her and he stopped. He prayed that Christine thought it was too much.

"No it's just," Christine sat up causing Erik to pull out. She hugged her knees to her now exposed chest and looked Erik squarely in the eyes. "I love you. You know that right?"

"Of course, I do." He brushed a stray lock of hair from Christine's face.

"And you love me?"

"With all my heart and soul. I'd give you anything."

"So why are you still wearing the mask?" Christine asked with a voice just above a whisper. Erik's throat clenched and he had to swallow.

"It makes me feel like you don't trust me or something when I see you with the mask on. It's just me, Erik. And it's just you. So please…" Christine raised her hands to his face and hooked her fingertips to the outline of the mask. Erik sat rigidly and couldn't bring himself to move.

"Wait…"

"I need to see you, Erik. It's alright, don't be afraid." In fact, Christine was terrified herself because she couldn't gauge his reaction. Would he push her away? Would he hurt her? Christine had to find out as she slowly pulled the obtrusive, leather mask from his face. Erik sucked in a breath and closed his eyes, not wanting to see the shock on Christine's face.

Christine made no sound as she looked at his marred face. His right eyebrow was completely gone and the skin on the right side of his face looked as if it had been burned away and re-patched clumsily. She traced the wrinkled skin and Erik shuddered at her warm touch. The bridge of his nose was sunken on the right side; Christine traced that too until her fingertips landed on his perfect mouth. His lips trembled and Christine kissed them softly as she tried to relay the emotions that she felt towards him in that moment.

When Erik opened his eyes, he was expecting Christine to look disgusted but only love and adoration shaped the expression on her angelic face. It may have been enough to hide his fear of rejection but he had never known unconditional love like this even while his parents were living. Erik felt exposed; terrified.

A moment had passed between them and Christine acted quickly, joining her lips with his in a firmer, more passionate kiss than the one they had previously shared. Her abrupt movements caused Erik to fall backwards and Christine straddled his lower abdomen. Erik felt dizzy with his desire for Christine's body and his reflexive need to cower away, thinking that Christine was only doing this for him because of pity. He could barely feel the soft tug on his boxers that were being removed from his body and one look on Christine's face told him that she was ready. Erik looked down between them and saw that if one of them moved in anyway, his manhood would spear through her innocence and they would finally be joined in passion.

Christine locked her eyes upon Erik's as she bit her lip and began moving her body down on him. The tip of his member was pressing into her hot and wet entrance and it slowly slid in. They both hissed before Erik realized that this was all wrong.

" Ungh. Wait, don't," Erik simply said, raising Christine from her current position and placing her on the bed beside him. He averted his eyes, knowing that he couldn't bear to see just how much he had hurt her.

"What's wrong?" Her voice quivered, and Erik fought hard with his own, daring it to betray him.

"This isn't right. I-I will lose control with you," Erik couldn't think of any other excuse as he fumbled for his mask that was lost in the bed sheets.

"Your fucking control?" Erik had never heard Christine swear before and hearing it now only hurt him more. He wanted this, but he couldn't bring himself to trust it. Christine covered her body with the blanket, suddenly very self-conscious. She looked at him as he quickly replaced his mask before directly looking at her. And then it dawned on her.

"I don't believe this." Christine got up from the bed and began putting on her clothes.

"Christine, what are you doing?"

"It isn't your control! It never fucking was!" She screamed on the top her lungs as she hooked her bra on.

"What are you talk—,"

"Don't give me that! You just—you just can't accept that finally someone else loves you. You're so self-absorbed in your pity that you forget that maybe, just maybe someone can love you again! Do you realize how much I—,"

"It isn't that," Erik tried to say, more to himself than to her.

"It is! You are afraid of rejection! I thought that we would be through with this. I took your mask off and guess what Erik, I still love you!" Christine's voice broke there. She had all her clothes on and then she walked over to Erik. She held his face in her hands and pressed her forehead against his. Tears were spilling down Erik's face but he didn't know whose they were.

"I can't do this knowing that you are afraid that you will hurt me, or I'll leave you after because we both know I won't." Christine stroked the available skin on Erik's face and he felt everything crumble. Then Christine walked out of the room, grabbing her keys and bag on her way out.

Erik knew that there wouldn't be any good in following her but he broke all the rules already so why should now be any different?

"What the hell am I doing?" Erik said to himself as he realized that he did know that Christine loved him. He really was just afraid of rejection that afterwards, she would leave him because of his ruined face. But it wasn't his face that was destroyed. No, now he realized that all along, his soul had been the damage in him and he couldn't bring himself to realize that Christine was healing him.

As quickly as he could, Erik threw on his clothes and chased after Christine. She was on the elevator so Erik ran down the emergency stairwell with his epiphany brightly leading the way down the dark stairs. He bolted through the swinging doors of the reception hall and saw Christine getting into her Vios.

"Christine!" Erik shouted, not caring if she heard him or not. In his stupidity, he forgot to grab his car keys and shoes but he ran after Christine anyways. It was only until she turned out of the street that he stopped running, knowing that he had lost her.

Erik crouched in the middle of the street, sobbing and gripping his hair tightly. Then a loud sound of metal crashing and rubber squealing seared Erik's ears and stopped his heart from beating…

…before someone else's did.


now that was review-worthy. gee i wonder how many more chapters i have to go before this ends. stick around to find out! =)