Christine was seated on her couch studying for a music theory exam with Erik beside her. Her feet and calves were stretched across his lap and he was absently massaging them while watching the news. Or, more accurately, he pretended to be focused on the news program, while truthfully his every attention was zeroed in on the silken skin he was being allowed, even encouraged, to caress.

It was still such a new concept to him that his touch might be welcome to someone, particularly by the enchanting creature sitting across from him. He was sure to keep his hands below her knees, though, and not allow them to stray up towards the tempting expanse of thighs left bare by her athletic shorts, as he had yet to decipher exactly how welcome his touch was. In the few days since their encounter on the roof of the opera, they had not progressed past kissing. Erik, in truth, was more than willing to remain at that level indefinitely. Whatever she was willing to give, he was beyond grateful to accept. He had never before imagined that he would have even this much intimacy in his cursed life. However, he couldn't always keep his thoughts from straying outside of the boundaries he had tried to set for them, and sometimes he wondered what would happen if…

"…spoke at a press conference with District Attorney Gustave Daaé on Thursday."

Erik glanced quickly at the television, distracted from his thoughts as he heard the familiar name being spoken in the middle of a news report.

"Despite rumors that Daaé and several others involved in the case have received repeated threats from Hawkes and his associates, the trial is still set to begin tomorrow. Hawkes will be tried on a number of crimes, including drug trafficking, armed robbery, bribery, first-degree murd-"

Erik lowered the remote from where he had hurriedly clicked off the television, shooting a concerned glance towards Christine. She was staring determinedly at her notes with her jaw clenched tightly shut, but as soon as she heard the show cut off she raised her head and gave him a grateful smile.

"Are you alright, ange?"

"I'll be fine. I'm just worried about him…" Setting her notebook on the ground in front of her, she shifted on the couch so that her head was pillowed on his shoulder. Erik once again had to remind himself that it was okay to settle an arm around her comfortingly. "I didn't know Hawkes had been threatening other people on the case," she remarked quietly into his chest.

"The judge who is trying the case is currently a client with my agency, actually," Erik remarked.

"Why is Daddy the only one they ever really mention on the news, then?" she asked, almost petulantly.

He sighed and stroked a hand through her hair. "You know why, Christine. Your father has only been district attorney for about two years, now, and already the crime rates have dropped exponentially. As the figurehead of that 'Take Back Our City' campaign that gained such popularity during the last round of elections, he's become a bit of a local hero."

"Sometimes I wish he'd just stuck with the violin," she murmured in response, giving a half-hearted grin to imbue some levity into the statement. "His job never bothered me before, really, but this Nathaniel Hawkes trial… So many of the witnesses have mysteriously vanished, and I can't stop hearing news reports about all of these 'alleged' threats on him and myself, although no one's seen fit to tell me what they actually are… I just… What if something happens to him?"

"Nothing is going to happen to your father," Erik assured with quiet confidence.

"Well of course you're going to say that," Christine scoffed, though there was no venom in her words.

Erik raised an eyebrow at her. "As the employer of his bodyguard and the designer of the security equipment installed on his property, I feel I am more qualified than most to make that assessment," he declared haughtily.

She couldn't help but let out a laugh at that. "I suppose you are. Sorry, V, I forgot who I was talking to for a minute. Sometimes it's hard to remember that you're technically employed to live with me. Which, now that we're dating, has some weird connotations…"

This time it was Erik who could not reign in his bark of laughter. "Your mind goes to some strange places, mon ange."

Christine winked at him and nuzzled further into his chest. Erik responded by bringing an arm up and tracing soothing patterns across her back while his other hand remained buried in her hair.

"So you never really got to go into detail about your opinion of the performance last night," she spoke into his chest. "What did you think?"

Erik pulled his hand away from her momentarily and studied his wrist with interest. "Ah, yes, I believe it has been approximately five minutes of somber, unpleasant conversation. Right on time for a subject change, then."

"You know me so well," Christine replied, caught between sheepish and sarcastic.

"In answer to your abrupt segue, though, I thought it was very good. There were a few sections that I had seen performed better at rehearsals, but overall it was a very smooth first performance. And you were spectacular, ange."

She smiled. "Nothing particularly noteworthy? Either good or bad? Lord knows you've seen the show enough times to comment."

Erik averted his eyes, a dark red flush marring the pale marble of his neck and jaw. "Actually, ah, last night was the first time I had seen your performance in its entirety."

"Wait, huh? You were literally at every rehearsal. Were you sleeping up in those vents? For shame, V!"

"I can assure you I do not sleep on the job, mademoiselle," he clipped, jerking his eyes up automatically before remembering himself and lowering them again. "I just... I found some parts of your performance... difficult to watch."

"Difficult?" Christine tilted her head to the side. "In what way?"

"In the sense that I couldn't make myself watch you dancing so suggestively with another man," he admitted reluctantly.

"Aww, V... You know that Andrew has a boyfriend, right? I can assure you that all of our dancing was totally platonic."

Erik shook his head slightly. "I'm aware, ange. That wasn't the point, really. It was just... well, torturous to watch that and wish so desperately to be the one in his place."

"But you could watch last night?" Christine asked quietly, rubbing his arm comfortingly.

Erik covered her hand with his, drawing it to his lips to press a tentative kiss to her palm. "I find it much less torturous now that kissing you is no longer an impossible dream."

Christine stared silently at him after his declaration, and Erik began to worry that he had revealed too much and made her uncomfortable. To his shock, though, instead of pulling away from him awkwardly, Christine crawled across the couch and positioned herself so that she was straddling his lap.

"Is kissing me all you dreamed about doing?" she asked coyly, bringing her lips down to brush lightly against his jaw and throat.

Erik once again felt as if he'd forgotten how to breathe."N-no," he admitted in a gasp. "But it's all I could ever expect from you." He took a deep breath and smiled sadly when she pulled back to look at him and gestured at his mask. "I'm not a normal man, Christine."

Her response was to roll her hips against him, smirking at the hiss it elicited. "No? You certainly feel like a normal man."

"Christine," he murmured, attempting to pull away and talk some sense into her even as a voice in his head screamed at him not to sabotage this. "I don't want you to do something now that you may regret after you… if you ever see-" He was silenced by the girl planting a kiss on his lips.

"Hush, Erik. You know that doesn't matter to me."

"How can you say that for sure if you've never seen me?"

"Well are you offering to show me your face?" she asked, meeting his gaze evenly.

He blanched, a jolt of horror going through him at merely the thought. He dropped his eyes and shook his head meekly. "I—I can't, Christine."

She lifted his chin gently and placed a kiss to the cheekbone of his mask. "Then stop thinking about it. You just told me that you've spent an entire semester fantasizing about this. Can't you just let yourself enjoy it?"

He found himself unable to respond as Christine resumed her previous activities and began trailing open-mouthed kisses down his throat. Her fingers drifted over his shirt and made short work of his buttons, and Erik sat forward obediently so that she could push the fabric away before it impeded her progress. As soon as his shirt was removed, Christine eagerly allowed her mouth and hands to explore the newly-revealed flesh. She slowly kissed a path down the middle of his chest, enjoying the feel of his muscles tensing beneath her ministrations and the low moans escaping from his throat.

Erik bit back a whimper of protest when she sat up suddenly.

"You know, this hardly seems equitable."

"What do you mean?" he panted nervously, worried that she was reconsidering their prior conversation. To his shock and relief, though, she answered his question by giving him a coy smile and grasping with both hands at the hem of her t-shirt.

Erik's breath caught raggedly in his throat as Christine pulled the fabric of her shirt over her head and shook out her hair to escape the collar. He felt pinioned, at once helpless to not embrace her and unworthy to profane her by doing so. As he watched, Christine rolled her shoulders back and reached around deftly to unfasten her bra. It fell to the floor, leaving her full breasts and toned stomach bare.

Desire rolled across Erik's mind and body like a wave, and the tension quickened his breath to shuddering gasps. His hands reached towards her automatically before he caught himself and drew them back, forcibly dragging his eyes up to her face to gauge her reaction. "May I?" he asked, and Christine felt the timid words pulling at her heartstrings.

She grasped his hands and placed them against her hips. "You don't have to ask permission, Erik. Take what you want."

He sat still for a moment, briefly convinced that he was about to wake up to an empty bed, before slowly running his hands over Christine's body. He watched in rapt fascination as her head lolled back in pleasure when his palms cupped her breast. Emboldened by her reaction, he drew his thumbs experimentally over her hardened nipples and was rewarded with a soft moan that brought every muscle in his body to a quivering tension. Unable to resist the temptation, he leaned forward and replaced one of his hands with his mouth, flicking his tongue experimentally and glancing up at Christine to check her response. Part of him was still terrified that he would overstep some unknown boundary and be pushed away, so he was relieved to hear another, deeper moan and feel her fingers digging into his hair. And with that, desire overtook his last strands of restraint and he crushed her mouth to his in a bruising kiss, his hands snaking around to her rear and pulling her firmly against his body.

Christine, pleased by his sudden surge of confidence, pulled away just enough to lower herself onto her back on the couch. Erik watched her actions through heavy-lidded eyes, eagerly acquiescing when she reached up to pull him down on top of her and they resumed their heated kiss. He then began to copy Christine's earlier actions and kissed a slow trail down her neck and along her collarbone until he had once again claimed one of her breasts with his mouth. He shuddered as he felt her start to writhe restlessly beneath him, his hand seeming to move of its own accord down her body and under the waistband of her shorts. He glanced at her face questioningly, but found her eyes to be shut and her mouth partly open with panting. Taking this to be permission enough, he allowed his fingers to delve lower, groaning loudly when he felt the evidence of her arousal.

Christine released a cry when his deft fingers started to move within her, digging her fingernails into his shoulder blades as the pressure began to build inside of her. Erik kept his eyes glued to her face, using her expressions and sounds as a gauge to guide his actions. Rapt with wonder and fastidious in his experimentations, he tried one motion, then another, and felt his pulse race at each sound his discoveries elicited. Christine arched her back and buried her face into his throat to muffle her cries of pleasure as Erik finally settled into an accelerating rhythm and coaxed her into climax.

After a moment, she collapsed bonelessly onto the couch, panting and bringing a hand up to her face as if to try and steady her head. Erik leaned down to kiss her softly, pulling back and surveying her with eyes practically glowing from pride and happiness.

"I thought you were supposed to be totally inexperienced with women, V. Where the hell did you learn to do that?" Christine asked once she had caught her breath somewhat.

Erik chuckled, the low sound causing his chest to rumble pleasantly against Christine's. "I… Um… Honestly?"

"That would be preferable," she said, with a hint of mockery. "C'mon, V," she coaxed when he still seemed hesitant to respond. "Tell me all your secrets."

"Since you insist..." He glanced down shyly. "I may have done some internet research."

"You're kidding!" she exclaimed with a laugh. "What made you decide to do that?"

"Curiosity, mostly. That, and wishful thinking." He gazed down at the girl beneath him with an incredulous, almost worshipful gaze. "I never even dreamed that I would ever be in a position to utilize my knowledge…"

Christine's teasing grin softened at this admission, and she pulled him down for a kiss. "You were an idiot for not thinking that some girl would eventually realize how incredible you are, V."

"Or perhaps I just never imagined I would meet a girl as incredible as you," he murmured.

"You know, you've already gotten me to take my top off. You can lay off the flattery," Christine joked. Her playful grin slipped off her face when Erik's earnest expression did not fade in response.

"I'm sorry, ange, but I can't make a joke out of this. You can't even imagine how this feels for me, after thirty-four years of never having a woman even give me a second glance, unless it was to stare at my mask."

Suddenly, Erik felt his chest pressed against Christine's, her fingers tangled in his hair and her lips pressed insistently against his. His body responded instantly, mouth opening to deepen the kiss and hips pushing forward instinctively in search of friction. Christine halted the kiss just as abruptly as she had begun it, though, bringing her hands to rest on the cheekbones of his mask and pulling his face back to meet her gaze.

"Thirty-four years, huh? Guess I've got some time to make up for."

Erik, whose brain was currently operating through a fog of desire more potent than he had ever experienced in his life, blinked in confusion. "What do you mean?"

She merely grinned and pushed him back so she could sit up.

"Christine? What are you-" he cut off when her lips once again began to trail a path down his abdomen. "W—wait, ange," he gasped, reaching down to halt her progress. "I don't want you to feel obligated to do anything to reciprocate. I would never expect y-"

"Erik? Lie down and shut up, please," Christine ordered, smirking and pushing at his chest.

Erik could do nothing but obey her, embarrassed to feel his body begin to tremble as he leaned back slowly and felt Christine resume kissing down his body. She reached the hem of his pants and hooked one finger into the waistband; Erik bit his lip and tipped his head back as unbearable demand swept through his stomach and groin.

Christine smiled and paused for a second, enjoying the force of Erik's reactions. She ran a hand over his quivering stomach muscles, then dropped it lower and undid his belt buckle.

Erik went white-knuckled with anticipation, and his stomach knotted tightly as Christine tugged his pants and boxers down to his hipbones. She dipped her head and unbelievable sensation filled Erik's body while she kissed him open-mouthed and slowly. His head snapped back and his fingers dug into the couch. A moment later, she ran her tongue languorously up his length, and a murmur of ecstasy burst from him.

Christine flushed with warmth, moved herself by Erik's arousal. She repeated the act, and Erik's hands involuntarily grasped her shoulders. His fingers tightened as she touched him again, and this time he groaned aloud.

The sound of Christine's cell phone ringing caused her to freeze. Shooting him an apologetic look, she leaned over quickly to silence it.

Erik glanced over, feeling some of his heady arousal turning to anger when he saw Raoul's name flash across the screen.

"I'll let it go to voicemail," Christine assured quickly. She turned her attention back to Erik with a smile, but did a double-take and reached to check the phone again as her brain registered the time that had been displayed on the screen. "Shit! Is it really that late? Oh, God, I am so sorry, V, but if we don't leave right now I'll be late for the show!"

Erik murmured some kind of affirmation and brought a hand to his head to try and steady some of his dizziness. He then seemed to come back to his senses somewhat and quickly scrambled to fasten his pants, feeling awkward and exposed now that he was no longer incoherent with need.

His frantic motions caught Christine's eye, and she paused in her rush to gather her belongings, feeling a stab of guilt at leaving him so unsatisfied. She stepped over and drew the dazed man in for a slow, sensual kiss. "As soon as we get home, though, I promise that I'm going to finish what I started."

Erik could only nod in acknowledgment, the speech functions of his brain shutting down at the mere thought.

"Now hurry up and put your shirt back on. As my vocal teacher, it would be shameful if you were the reason I'm late to my performance."

Erik let out a bark of laughter at that, rising on shaky legs to quickly dress and following the frantic girl out the door.