"All right, Richard, what did you call me down here for? It's my day off and I intended to spend it not working."

Richard de Changey glanced over at his lovely young colleague and hid a smile at her adorable irritation. Christine Daae's long blond hair had been twisted hurriedly up into a bun and she wore a plain T- shit and a pair of blue jeans with holes in the knees. She did not look like she had graduated top of her class barely a year ago.

"Sorry, Christine, but this guy just came in, and I think you might want to take a look at him."

Christine sighed. "Can't you handle him?" she said pathetically, although Richard knew she didn't mean a word of it. If anyone was the poster-girl for job devotion, it was Christine.

"Just go and talk to him, Chrissy. Okay?"

Christine smiled tiredly. "Okay," she said. "Where is this mystery guy?"

"Down in cell three. Be careful, though, he's a bit...unhinged."

This elicited a laugh from Christine. "Please, Richard. I'm a psychiatrist, 'unhinged' is what I deal in."

"This one's a little different," Richard said. "Really, watch yourself in there."

Christine threw him her dazzling smile. "Don't worry," she said. She pulled a battered composition book from her purse and stuck a pen in the her mess of blond curls and headed down the hallway, muttering softly two herself. Richard followed behind.

Cell three was at the end of the hall. Behind the glass, Christine could see a man sitting at the table. He sat ramrod straight, long hands folded on the table. Christine shot Richard a curious glance, but opened the door anyway and went in.

The man at the table looked up when she entered, staring her down with unnerving golden eyes. His face was covered by a black silk mask and he was dressed impeccably in an expensive suit. His very black hair was smoothed back from his face and his abnormally long hands were covered in pristine white gloves. Christine looked at him, slightly confused. Compared to the other patients she had seen in this facility, there seemed to be nothing wrong with him. He studied her with an unwavering gaze, no emotion evident in those odd eyes.

"Hello," said Christine in a calm, even voice. "I'm Christine."

"And I am Erik," replied the man. His voice sent shivers down Christine's spine; it was deep and musical and eerily beautiful. Just listening to him speak made her mind go a little fuzzy; she wondered vaguely how his voice might sound if he was singing. Snap out of it! she said to herself. You're a professional! Get yourself together, woman!

"So, Erik," she said, her voice completely unshaken, "would you mind telling me why you think you're here?" She pulled her pen from her curls and looked up at him seriously.

His mouth – the only unmasked portion of his face – quirked up into an amused smile. She sat back, a little offended. "Well, I'm not entirely sure," he said, his velvety voice sounding a little sardonic, "but I'm quite sure it's because I killed a man and your friend over there who is hovering anxiously by the door -" Here Christine glanced over and saw Richard standing by the window, looking in with a concerned expression. " - is under the impression that I am insane."

Christine looked blankly at him for a second. "Excuse me," she said after a moment, and went out the door. "Richard," she hissed, "what are you doing?"

"Feeling guilty," he said. "I don't think I should have told you about him."

Christine frowned. "Go back up front; you're just making me uncomfortable hanging over me like this. You don't need to worry."

"Are you sure?" Richard said uneasily.

Christine smiled. "Perfectly. Go on, I'm fine."

"Well...alright..." With several glances backwards, he left her standing outside Erik's cell. Christine turned and went back into the cell. Erik was leaning languidly back in his chair, his lips twitching. He looked more amused than ever.

"Did you get that sorted out?" he wanted to know.

Christine frowned at him. "I'm supposed to be the one asking the questions here, Mr..." She paused and looked down at the file Richard had given her. "Mr...Er, do you have a last name?"

"I don't," said Erik, almost cheerfully.

"Oh. Alright, then..." Christine was more than a little flustered but she didn't let it show. Or at least, she thought she didn't, but Erik's smile widened. "Why do you say that Dr. de Changey believes you're insane?"

"Well, I'm here, aren't I?" he said simply.

Christine blinked in surprise. This conversation was rather unsettling. "Do you think you're insane?"

"That's all relative, isn't it?" Erik said. "Whether or not I think I am insane is not relevant because if I indeed were insane, my perception of reality would be – shall we say – a little warped, wouldn't it? And therefore my definition of insane would be quite different from yours."

"Yes, I suppose it would," Christine said, growing even more confused with each passing second. She opened the manila folder. "Why exactly did you kill that man, Erik?"

He shrugged, black cloth rippling over his broad shoulders. "Oh, no reason really. It's not that important."

"But it is," Christine insisted. She tapped the end of her pencil against her lip. "Did he do anything to you? Insult you?"

"No. I told you, Miss Daae, there was no reason."

She leaned her chin on her hand. "Have you ever killed anyone before?"

"Well, of course I have. Isn't it obvious?" He looked down his nose at her, the corners of his mouth turning up into a smile. "Come, Miss Daae, you're supposed to be a professional."

Christine frowned. "You have no record. There isn't anyone with your name in our computer system. All the information I've got on you is in this file." She tapped it with her fingernail. "So forgive me if I seem a bit uninformed."

Erik laughed outright. "Oh, I like this," he said, more to himself than to her. "Miss Daae. Joseph Buquet was the thirty-second man I've killed. The refined art of assassination is not one I'm unfamiliar with."

"I see," Christine said. She tugged on a strand of hair and scribbled a few notes in the folder. "Excuse me." She stood and tucked the folder under her arm. "I'll be back in the morning."

"I can't think I'll be going anywhere," Erik replied with a smile. Christine hurried out of the cell, clutching the folder to her chest.

"Well?" said Richard anxiously. Christine sighed and ran her hands through her hair, which was coming loose from its messy bun. She hated making assumptions after speaking barely ten minutes to a suspect, she really did, but she didn't see thatshe had much of a choice. There was an overwhelming amount of evidence and it was beginning to give her a headache. She pressed the heels of her palms to her eyes.

"There's obvious psychopathic tendencies. Might have another personality disorder, too – borderline, maybe, or manic depressive. I'm not sure. I'm going to have to talk to him some more." She wrapped her arms around herself. "He...he unnerves me, Richard. I've talked to psychopaths before but something about this man...It's like he knows what I'm going to say before I say it. Or he's five thousand times cleverer than me and knows it. He's...toying with me. He's holding things back on purpose. I think...I think he thinks of it as sort of a game."

Richard put an arm about her shoulders. "C'mon, Chris, it can't be all that bad. D'you want to get a drink? I was about to close down for the night. Maybe a drink or two would cheer you up. Hm?"

Christine smiled thinly. Why not? she thought. It's not like I'll be getting much sleep tonight anyway.


A/N: Yeah...Don't ask. I have no lack of plot bunnies these days. I wanted to do something a little more grown-up this time. Sorry if I've made a mistake - I'm not a psychiatrist. My knowledge of psychiatry comes from television, books I've read, and a little bit of research I've done. I'll do more research, don't worry. Just wanted to get it all off my chest. XD

*Miri