A/N: This begins canon, but will later become AU. Loosely follows the plot of the first book in the trilogy. Rating may go up in later chapters.


Disguise

Christian had learned very early on the mastery of disguising his own face. In his career it was essential - for all the polished demeanor and professionalism of his employees, he knew that his empire would crumble without his firm leadership, and there was no leeway in business to appear anything but confident and sure. And business was not so different from his personal world of mingling pleasure and pain. As a dominant, his authority over any situation was the only thing that thing kept his submissives safe. If he slipped, if he seemed for even a moment to be less than in perfect control of what was happening, all the signed documents in the world were useless, because without his command, they were just two confused people with no direction. And he knew too well that, without direction, he was dangerous.

His face was a means of persuasion at best, and uncontrolled emotions had no place on it. It was a lesson Christian had learned well in his youth. As a submissive, impassivity was not a convenience, it was a survival skill.

So as his interview ended, Christian kept his expression politely reserved while he walked Miss Steele to the elevator and bid her a safe drive home.

Once the gleaming elevator doors shut behind her, he finally allowed himself to frown. She'd been completely bewildering. On the one hand, she'd had so much poise, returning each of his neutrally crafted remarks with something genuine and astute and unexpected, shocking him into responses that were ridiculously outside the bounds of his usual repertoire of interview one-liners. And yet at the same time, each time she'd glanced down at her notes, something foolish would come out of her mouth, seeming to surprise even herself. She'd been so on edge, so eager to please, and somehow entirely unprepared in spite of what was clearly an effort on her part. Her bold, off-the-cuff commentary had been the only commendable part of the interview, and Christian wondered mildly why she wasn't always conducting interviews instead of the Katherine Kavanagh who'd originally written the questions.

Christian walked back into his office and stared over his desk to the door, unable to believe that not even an hour ago, Miss Steele had been tumbling through it in her own personal whirlwind of disorder and overly probing questions. It was baffling - she'd somehow managed to be simultaneously witty and flustered, eloquent and awkward, righteous and yet painfully bashful.

The phone on Christian's desk rang loudly, rattling through his musings, and he snatched it up impatiently. "What?" His voice was terse, his mind still half on the intriguing enigma that had swept in and out of his office.

"Will you have your next appointment in now?" It was Andrea, and he hissed between his teeth at the interruption.

"Can't you delay? Give him a tour of the offices."

"Very well. Anything else I can do for you?"

Before he really knew what he was asking, he found himself nodding and saying, "Yes, run the name Anastasia Steele and see what you can find about her."

"Steele?" Andrea asked after a momentary pause, her voice hesitant and slightly surprised. Christian paused for a moment, too, appalled at his own careless spontaneity. Under normal circumstances he'd have waited and asked Taylor. Under normal circumstances, Anastasia would be the one seeking him out.

"The young lady who was just here," Christian answered Andrea, impatience biting in his tone.

"You don't usually make a habit of running background checks on your interviewers. After the interview."

Christian rolled his eyes. "I'm making a habit of it now. I trust you can take care of it." He said it as a command instead of a question and hung up before Andrea could answer, leaning back in his chair and clasping his hands pensively in front of his face. He stared at them meditatively and wondered why he was envisioning Anastasia in his playroom. There was nothing about her that had indicated she'd ever want to be in his playroom, surely not when she was smart and fascinating enough to have all of what was in the playroom and more, if she so desired, with someone who was whole and normal and without a set of bizarre personal needs and deficiencies.

The furrow between Christian's brows deepened as he realized that that was the wrong reason to be concerned. What she wanted was hardly relevant, she'd be a terrible submissive in any case. She wasn't the type of person who knew how to live without her free will. She obviously questioned everything, and he couldn't afford that, not when he had so many answers that he could never give, not to anybody.

Nonetheless, he couldn't help but replay her insolent words in his mind, spoken so frankly and openly - Are you gay? - and wish that he could reprimand her for it. Not that he'd really been angered by it - on the contrary, her extreme embarrassment immediately afterwards had been quite amusing - but she had dared to challenge him, and it was worth pursuing. Even when intimidated and very obviously nervous, she'd been strong enough to regard herself his equal. And suddenly, it made her irresistible.

The phone blared again, and Christian snatched it up. "Grey."

"Miss Steele's background check is almost empty. She's just a student at WSU. Her GPA's about the most impressive thing on there."

"You can't find anything else?"

"Nothing remarkable."

Christian pinched the bridge of his nose and resisted the urge to growl. There had been nothing about her interview that wasn't remarkable. "I didn't ask for remarkable, I asked for everything. Send it to me. All of it."

"Yes, Mr. Grey."

"Better," he approved, nodding before he placed the phone in it's cradle.

A moment later, he was scrolling through a file of information about her. It was sparsely populated with information, and he was on the verge of acknowledging the lack of useful data when he reached a line titled "Employment."

So she had a job to fulfill when she wasn't appearing to give other people's interviews.

"Clayton's Hardware," he read aloud to himself, tapping a finger against his chin thoughtfully.

The endless possibilities that a hardware store presented came to him unbidden, and Christian smirked slowly, leaning forward in his seat with mounting eagerness. He reached for the phone and dialed the extension for the reception desk. "Andrea? Re-book my flight for WSU's commencement ceremony. I want it earlier." He paused and waited as she rattled off all the events and meetings occupying his schedule in the approaching days. "Make it as soon as you can clear my prior engagements."

"Very well."

"Thank you." This time Christian listened for a moment to her muted surprise at his courteousness before hanging up the phone.


A/N: Please review! It's my first Fifty Shades fic, so I'd love to know what you think so far. Thanks for reading!