Christian POV: The Trial

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“Are you ready?” My dad asks and, for some reason, it’s like his words echo around in my head. Am I ready? I take a deep breath and try to ignore the arguments that have been rolling around in my mind all morning.

Just tell him you don’t want to do it. Tell him you don’t want to testify. You don’t have to perjure yourself, you can just back out of this. Just tell him you don’t want to do it…

I look back at him and nod. I can’t not get on the stand now. The time for me to back out has well passed. My father wouldn’t accept it at this point and… And this is for my future. The future I want for myself, and the future I want to give to Anastasia. I want to create a life for us where nothing is impossible. The key to making that a reality is starting my company and this is the first step in achieving that.

I faintly listen to my father talking about what to expect from court proceedings, quickly overviewing everything we’ve discussed with the prosecutor and preparing me for every scenario or trick Elena’s lawyer could use to trip me up. It’s all meaningless though, so while I nod in agreement whenever it’s appropriate, really my attention is focused on the conversations I’ve had with Elena over the last few weeks and the reassurances she’s given me.

Your father will forgive you.

Your family will protect you.

Anastasia will understand.

You’re only doing what you have to do to be able to live with yourself.

I take another deep breath and look up as I hear the sound of high heels clacking against the marble floors. Elena is walking towards us with a strange man, who could only be her lawyer. I raise a questioning eyebrow at her, silently asking her if she’s made the arrangements to uphold her end of the deal. She looks back at me, a subtle smile playing at the corner of her lips, and then she disappears into the courtroom.

“Don’t worry about her,” my dad tells me. “Just do everything the way we practiced it and you’ll be fine. We’ve got this, okay?”

“Okay,” I croak. My dad grips onto my shoulder, trying to be reassuring but it feels like he’s pressing an enormous weight down on me with just this one small gesture. I know I’m about to hurt him, and I honestly don’t know how I’m going to make this right after the trial is over.

He turns away from me and straightens his back so he can walk as tall and proudly into the courtroom as possible. I watch him, trying to emulate him, and then hold my hand out to Anastasia. As much concern as I have over what will happen with my father at the end of this trial, it’s been nothing to the anxiety I’ve felt over how Anastasia will react. I have no idea what to expect from her. I assume she’ll be angry or at least confused at first, but she seems to get me, more so than anyone else in my life, so I think she’ll eventually see things the way I do. Until then, I have reservations in New York to treat her to the most lavish week of her life where I will shower her with gifts and the finest of everything her favorite city has to offer. A preview of what my actions today will afford us  in the future. She’ll see then. She’ll have to see…

“Are you okay?” she asks me as I take pause at the doors of the courtroom to once again prepare myself for the enormity of what I’m about to do.

“You love me, right?” I ask, and she looks taken aback by the question.

“Of course I love you, Christian,” she says. Her hand leaves mine as her arms snake around my waist and she holds me tightly against her. I lean my head down, resting it against her fragrant hair.

“No matter what?”

She releases me, takes a step back, and looks up into my eyes. “Christian, you have nothing to be afraid of. She’s in the wrong and there is nothing she can do to get away from that. After today, we never have to see her again, okay? I know this is going to be hard, but I love you, no matter what is said or done in there. Nothing could ever change that.”

I take a deep breath, feeling a great deal of the dread inside me disappear instantly at the absolute resolution in her voice. I can see the same love I feel for her reflected in her eyes, and it resonates inside me. I know there is nothing she could do, no matter how terrible, to change the way I feel about her. If the roles were reversed, if she was about to take my place… I’d stand by her. I’d always give her the benefit of the doubt, because I know who she is, who she really is, just as she knows me.

“Okay.” I say, exhaling with relief. I cling to her for as long as I can before it becomes absolutely necessary for me to release her and make my way back to the room where I’m being sequestered from the testimonies of the other witnesses. The moment the door closes behind her, I can feel the absence of her as though I’ve lost a limb. I need her reassurances, I need to feel the heat of her skin. I need to feel her support so that when I take the stand, I can hold onto the reason I’m doing this. I’m doing what I have to do to set myself up for success in the future, to provide for the woman I love.

Your father will forgive you.

Your family will protect you.

Anastasia will understand.

You’re only doing what you have to do to be able to live with yourself.

I can’t hear what’s going on in the courtroom, but it isn’t for lack of trying. There are a few people in the room with me and they all give me looks filled with varying levels of pity as they are called to the stand. Mrs. Ayala, Elena’s housekeeper, looks almost guilty as she ducks past me, Elliot glances back over his shoulder at me once he’s gone through the door like he’s about to ride off into battle for me, and when Mr. Lincoln is called to testify, he actually stops and grips tightly to my shoulder.

“I’ll see you inside, son. Good luck.”

I nod and then watch him disappear into the courtroom.

Your father will forgive you.

Your family will protect you.

Anastasia will understand.

You’re only doing what you to do to be able to live with yourself.

Finally, the bailiff comes to take me to the stand and I swallow back the lump of nerves that’s crawled its way up into my throat as I slowly trudge into the courtroom. I feel a strange kind of disconnect from everything around me as I make my way up to the stand. It’s like I can’t see anything that’s not directly in front of me and, although I agree to the oath the bailiff makes me take, I don’t hear a word of it. When I take my seat on the stand, I have to force myself to focus on the prosecutor.

“Would you mind stating your name for the record?” he asks me as he takes the few steps from the table towards me.

“Christian Trevelyan-Grey,” I reply.

“And what is your relationship with the defendant, Mrs. Elena Lincoln?”

“She’s my mom’s best friend.”

“I see,” he says. He takes a moment to look down at the paper in his hands, a guide for the testimony my father and I have rehearsed a million times, and I use his distraction to glance over at Elena. There’s an echo of a smile on her lips and, so subtly that it’s hard to notice, she nods.

“Christian, would you please describe the events of April 14th 2003 for the court?” he continues. I take a deep breath.

Here we go…

“I had just been expelled from Bellevue Christian High School for getting into a fight and my mom sent me over to Mrs. Lincoln’s to do some chores for her as punishment. I redid the landscaping around her pool.”

“Did you and Mrs. Lincoln interact at all?”

“I guess.”

The prosecutor looks up from the paper in his hands and I know why. That’s not what I was supposed to say. This is the part where I was supposed to talk about the first time Elena and I had kissed, the first time she’d ever hit me. I know that, he knows that, and my father, whose eyes I can feel burning into me from his seat in the gallery, knows that as well. But I can’t look at him now. I can’t even look at Ana. The outside world has to wait until I’ve done what I have to do.

“And what happened when you finished your work for the day?” the prosecutor asks, trying to redirect me.

“I went home,” I reply, and this time fire ignites behind his eyes. He can see now that this isn’t nerves or forgetfulness. He knows I’m lying on purpose and the best I can hope for now is that he’ll call me off the stand.

Your father will forgive you.

Your family will protect you.

Anastasia will understand.

You’re only doing what you to do to be able to live with yourself.

I swallow, and turn my eyes back on him.

“Were you subjected to any sexual contact initiated by Mrs. Lincoln on April 14th 2003?” He asks, his teeth gritted now, but I don’t have to answer that because once again, Elena’s lawyer objects. The judge overrules him though, and looks down at me, expecting an answer. I brace myself and turn back to the man who has been hired to fight this legal battle that I’m willingly surrendering.

“No.”

“Christian!” my father shouts, and every pair of eyes in the room turn to him.

“Would those of you in the gallery please remain silent during the court proceedings?” the judges says. My father takes a deep breath and settles back into his seat, but I can see that he’s fighting not to say whatever he’s currently screaming at me with his eyes. I can’t look at him, and so, for the first time, I turn to Anastasia. She’s staring at me, her mouth open, her face flushed, and I have to look away from her immediately.

Why didn’t I ask her not to come?

While the prosecutor turns around and hastily begins searching through the papers on the table behind him, I repeat the words she said to me just outside the doors in my head.

I know this is going to be hard, but I love you, no matter what is said or done in there. Nothing could ever change that.

This is no matter what.

Your father will forgive you.

Your family will protect you.

Anastasia will understand.

You’re only doing what you to do to be able to live with yourself.

“These are pictures of a room in Mrs. Lincoln’s basement,” the prosecutor says, storming back towards the bench and thrusting a small stack of photographs at me. I look through them, recognizing each one not only from the content of the picture, but from the angle it was taken from. I know this room better than any room in the world, but when he asks me that very question, I lie again.

He reaches forward and snatches the photographs out of my hand and as I glance up and see Elena smirking victoriously at me, a disgusting taste creeps into my mouth and I feel my stomach clench.

This isn’t for her. I repeat to myself, but my body doesn’t relax. I try to call on the years of practice I’ve had getting my body under control, but it doesn’t work. Instead, the more I try to push away the uneasy feeling, the stronger it gets. Please take me off the stand, Dad…

“Christian, do you know the meaning of perjury?” the prosecutor asks.

“Yes.” I nod.

“Then you understand that it’s a felony offense and carries a minimum five year prison sentence?”

“Yes.”

“So, I’ll ask you again.” He takes a step closer to the bench and stares me down, speaking each word in a clear, concise staccato that I haven’t heard since I was a small child being lectured by the red faced man currently seated on the other side of the bannister. “Did you engage in a BDSM sexual relationship with Elena Lincoln while you were still a minor?”

Your father will forgive you.

Your family will protect you.

Anastasia will understand.

You’re only doing what you to do to be able to live with yourself.

“No,” I say again. “I’ve never had a sexual relationship with Elena Lincoln.”

“Objection!” my father screams, leaping to his feet, and, once again, the judge looks over at him with confusion.

“Sir, please take your seat and remain silent,” the judge says, but my father shakes his head.

“Your honor, I’m a licensed attorney in the state of Washington and the witness is my son. If you’d just grant us a recess so that I could speak with him…”

“Sit down,” the judge demands, not allowing him to finish his plea. “One more outburst from you and I will have you removed from this courtroom.”

“Your honor, that is my son!  This woman, the defendant, Elena Lincoln molested him when he was still a child! I can’t…”

“Bailiff,” the judge interrupts him again and after nodding in my father’s direction, the bailiff walks through the gate to the benches where my family is seated and demands that my father follow him out of the courtroom.

“No, please. If you’ll you’ll just let me speak with my son…”

“Sir, if you don’t come quietly, we’ll have you detained,” the bailiff threatens him, and, as my father’s eyes shift helplessly between Elena and I, I swallow and look down at the shiny wood in front of me. I can’t watch him leave.

“Councilor, do you have any other questions for your witness?” the judge asks once my father has been removed from the courtroom, but he doesn’t answer right away. I don’t think he knows what to do, how to get out of my refusal to properly testify, but, rather than calling me off the stand, he moves back to the table behind him to pick up yet another folder.  

“Your honor, I’d like to submit item 4-A into evidence,” he says. “I have a statement from Mr. Christian Grey detailing his previous sexual encounters with Mrs. Elena Lincoln.”

He holds up the statement I wrote out two weeks ago for my father, but I know it’s useless in court because he didn’t have it notarized. He trusted me. He had no reason to believe I would contradict anything in that statement on the stand today… and now the case is going to be thrown out because of it. I feel my stomach clench again, tighter this time, almost to the point of painful, but I do my best to ignore it.

“This isn’t notarized,” the judge confirms.

“No, your honor. But… but it’s in Mr. Grey’s own hand.” He turns to me. “Mr. Grey, if you never had a sexual relationship with the defendant, why do I have a written statement from you that says on the afternoon of April 14th 2003, Mrs. Elena Lincoln coerced you into a sexual relationship that lasted until November of 2007?”

I shrug. “I wasn’t under oath when I wrote that.”

“Get off the stand.” He says at last, and though it’s what I’ve wanted to hear since he put me up here… I feel no sense of relief as I get out of my seat.

“I’m sorry, Councilor,” the judge says, stopping me before I can step off the stand. “But the defense has the right to cross examine your witness.”

“We have no further questions, your honor,” Elena’s lawyer says. The judge turns back to dismiss me and while I make my way off the stand, the judge turns an irritated look on my lawyer.

“Is there anything else, counselor?” He asks, and after a brief moment of hesitation, where his eyes dart wildly around the room as though the answer to overcoming my testimony will be written on the wall, he nods.

“The prosecution wishes to call Anastasia Steele to the stand.”

“No.” I say, turning a sharp look on him. “I told my father I would only do this if you left her out of it.”

“You haven’t done anything,” he spits back at me, but I ignore him, turning instead to look at Anastasia, who has gotten out of her seat and taken the few steps that put her even with me at the table.

“Don’t,” I plead with her, but she turns her head sharply away from me and marches purposefully up to the stand. I watch her, feeling an all too seamless amalgamation of dread, fear, and anger as she takes the oath and then makes her way up onto the stand.

When she gives her testimony, I barely listen to anything she says. All I can hear is the sense of desperation in her voice. I know she’s trying to undo everything I just did, but I also know that it’s pointless. I’m the only material witness in this trial and everything she is going to say will be in direct contradiction to my testimony, because she’s telling the truth… and I lied.

Why did he even put her up there?

She won’t look at me. Even when Elena’s lawyer gets up to question her, she looks straight ahead.

“Your honor, both the alleged victim and my client have denied the charges that Mrs. Elena Lincoln ever had any form of sexual relationship with Christian Grey, underage or not. Any evidence that the prosecution has provided the court today is at best circumstantial and is probably the result of a young man’s fantasies gone too far. There is no definitive proof that Elena Lincoln was ever anything but a caring, nurturing role-model who mentored Mr. Grey through a difficult adolescence. Unless the prosecution can provide any concrete proof that any inappropriate sexual relationship occurred, contrary to both parties’ testimony, I move to dismiss.

Both the judge and Ana turn to look at my father, but I don’t take my eyes off of Anastasia. Her eyes are still filled with hope, and as I look at her, I feel my first pang of regret. I didn’t want her to be a part of this, I’ve turned her into a liar because she doesn’t understand… I should have kept her home. There’s no reason she should have been here to see this. It would have been so much easier to come up with an excuse to not have her come than it will be to make her forget what happened here today.

There’s a lot of commotion in the courtroom when the judge upholds Elena’s lawyer’s motion and the case is dismissed. I can hear my mother’s horrified shriek behind me and the sudden low mumble of disbelief that fills the room as those closest to me try to reconcile what just happened. Ana sits there on the stand, looking dumbfounded, and I want to go to her, but I only take one step before I’m intercepted by Elliot.

“Dude… what the fuck?” he asks.

“I’ll… I’ll talk to you about it later, Elliot,” I say distractedly, but he grabs onto my suit jacket and pushes me back towards the aisle.

“You need to go talk to Dad, right now,” he insists. I try to argue but he blocks my path back to Ana. “Now, Christian.”

I let out a huff of frustration and turn to Kate. “Can you…”

“I’ll… talk to her,” she says, looking a little stunned. Her response isn’t very reassuring so, I try to push past Elliot again, but he grabs onto me once more and nearly drags me back down the aisle. When I’m out of the courtroom, I look fervently around for any sign of my father, but when I do eventually see him, he’s all the way down the hall on his way out the doors, and my mother is trailing after him pleading for him to come back.

I take two steps in that direction, but as I watch him throw open the doors in anger, I stop. “This might not be the best time, Elliot…” I say hesitantly. “I should give him some time to be angry.”

“Why did you do that, Christian?” Elliot asks. His eyes are filled with the same disbelief I saw in Ana’s, and it’s hard to face, so I look away from him.

“I had to, Elliot. I know you won’t understand my reasoning… but I felt like I had to. I’m sorry… I just had to.”

I watch his Adam’s apple jump as he tries to swallow my defense, but it doesn’t take. He looks up at me and, for the first time since I was fifteen years old, I see disappointment in his eyes.

“I’m going to go talk to Dad and try to calm him down so that you can apologize to him,” he says, firmly, and then he turns and starts down the hall towards the main doors. I sigh and lean against the wall, taking a minute to absorb the ramifications of what I’ve just done. My dad is angry, but I expected that. I’ll talk to him when he’s had some time to process and we’ll work it out. I’ve been a fuck up before, more times than I can count, and he’s always been there to talk and to offer his wisdom and advice. He’s angry now, I deserve that, but… He’ll forgive me.

The pressing issue right now is Ana. She still hasn’t come out of the courtroom and the stream of people coming through the doors is steadily thinning. I look up each time they open, but am disappointed again and again. Soon, Elena steps out of the courtroom and I scowl at her as she shakes her lawyer’s hand and then crosses the hallway towards me.

“Go,” I snap at her. “I have nothing to say to you, Elena.”

“Thank-you, Christian,” she says, ignoring me. “They’re going to try and tell you otherwise, but you know you did the right thing. Thank-you for doing the right thing.”

“I said go,” I repeat, more firmly this time.

“Okay,” she nods. “I’ll initiate the transfer once I get back to my hotel. I know you said you wanted me out of your life, and I’ll respect that… but if you ever need to talk. You have my number.”

I turn away from her, not bothering to validate her offer with a response. She takes a deep breath and nods.

“Okay, I get it,” she says. “Goodbye, Christian.”

I listen to the sound of her high heels growing fainter as she makes her way out of the courthouse, feeling a wash of relief as she leaves. At least at the end of all of this, I’m done with her. There will be no more conflicts between her and Anastasia, no more backwards deals or schemes to break us up… We’ll be free to move on from this without any more interference from Elena. That is, if Anastasia ever comes out of the courtroom….

I stand there for what feels like forever. Elliot texts me, telling me that Dad is in a hurry to get to the airport but that he’ll call me as soon as he gets back to San Francisco. I wish him a good flight and then glance quickly up and down the hall. Those left lurking in the hallway have gone, and now I’m standing here alone. Another long minute passes and then, finally, the doors to the courtroom open again and Ana and Kate step into the hallway. She looks… horrified, and suddenly I’m a mess of apprehension. No matter what… she said no matter what.

Kate turns to give Ana a weak smile and then she hurries down the hall. I watch her disappear and then turn back to face the woman I love, still looking completely desolate on the other side of the hallway.

“Are you ready to go?” I ask, because, looking at her now, I’m not even sure if she’s going to want to come home with me.

“Yeah,” she says, nodding, but the tone of her voice doesn’t give me any hope. Maybe taking her home isn’t a good idea. She could decide to go back to her dorm instead of mine and we need to talk. I need to have her alone to talk.

She takes the hand I offer her and doesn’t let it go as I lead her out of the building towards the car. She’s still staring into space as I open her car door for her and by the time I get into the car myself, I’m on the edge of full blown panic.

“Let me take you to lunch,” I say to her, reverting back to my plan of not taking her back to campus, but when she speaks, she completely disregards my request.

“What was that?” she asks. “Why did you do that, Christian?”

Okay… we’ll just do it here. “Ana…” I pause, trying to decide how I can say this so that she’ll understand, but there’s really only thing to say. “I-I couldn’t do it.”

“What do you mean you couldn’t do it?”

I take a deep breath and turn in my seat so that I’m facing her, imploring her with my eyes as I explain what I’ve been going through the last few weeks. Look, I know where you and my dad and everyone else are coming from. I get it. I was young, probably too young and what we did was against the law, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t want it to happen. That doesn’t take away the fact that I liked it and that I allowed it. I’ve signed that contract four times, I knew what it was and what I was doing. She didn’t force this on me, I was a willing participant and I could have stopped it whenever I wanted to. I could have stopped it from the very beginning, I could have prevented any of this from ever happening, but I didn’t because the truth is that I wanted it to happen. I know you don’t want to hear that, but… it’s true. How could I possibly send her to prison for giving me something that I wanted? Everyone keeps telling me I’m a victim, but I’m not. If this is really about justice for me, then consider it served. She’s out of our lives. She won’t contact us again. It’s still over, and that’s all I want. I just want it to be over.”

Her eyebrows scrunch together as if she’s having a hard time accepting my logic and she unconsciously begins shaking her head. “But… what about the next kid?”

“What?”

“Well, she found you when you were fifteen. What happens when she finds someone else? Maybe someone younger this time?”

“She’s not a pedophile, Ana.”

Yes she is, Christian! She had sex with a minor, that’s what a pedophile is! The reason these laws exist is because at fifteen years, you’re not mentally capable of making the decision to have sex.”

I shake my head. “I knew what I was doing.”

She lets out a harsh breath as she turns look at the dash in front of her, once again in disbelief. I know why she feels this way, I know the law… but my age had nothing to do with it. She didn’t seek me out because I was underage, we started this because it was beneficial to both of us. She saw that she could help me and she did. Whether I was fifteen, nineteen, or thirty… it would have ended up the same.

“I know you can’t understand, but I really couldn’t do it, Ana, and I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I did.”

She reaches up to brush away the tears that are threatening to leak over the rim of her eyes and I fight back the urge to reach out and hold her. I’m not sure that would help right now…

“Why didn’t you tell me?” she asks.

“Would it have made it better?” I ask her, but she shakes her head.

“No. But… I was completely blindsided in there, we all were. I mean, think of everything your dad has done, everything we’ve all been through trying to help you win this case. Why didn’t you just put a stop to it?”

“My dad wouldn’t have let me stop. Right and wrong is black and white to him, he would never have understood. Besides, I didn’t make my decision until this morning. I didn’t know what I was going to do.”

“So you were conflicted, you knew it was wrong. We should appeal, try to get a mistrial…” She’s pleading and I take a deep breath as I prepare to extinguish the hope I hear rising in her voice again. She still doesn’t understand…

“If we appeal, I’d have to admit I lied under oath. You heard what the prosecutor said in there.”

She turns away from me again, no longer willing to argue with me. It’s killing me, sitting here watching her cry, knowing I’m the reason why, and after sitting there in silence for what feels like an eternity, I can’t handle it any longer, so I reach over and pull her into me. She doesn’t fight against me, but she doesn’t snuggle into my chest, the way she normally does.

“I promise you it’s over, Ana. She’s out of our lives,” I assure her, placing a soft kiss against her hair. “Let me take you to lunch?”

“No, I want to go home,” she says, shaking her head, and I feel my face fall. I can’t argue with her, though, she needs to be in charge right now, feel some kind of control, and maybe it would be better if we went home. She could change into more comfortable clothes and we could crawl in bed with one another. I could hold her while I tried to make her see my way.

I’m almost sold on my plan, but when we get back to campus, she makes it very clear that’s not going to happen.

“You’re not coming in with me?” I ask as she turns to open the door to her room, rather than following me to mine. “Don’t you think we should talk some more?”

“I don’t need to talk right now,” she says quietly. “I need some time to process this.”

I swallow back the anxiety those words incite in me. “You’ll come over tonight though, right?”

She shakes her head and the anxiety turns into full blown fear. I don’t want her locking herself away from me wallowing over this. We need to work through this together. I try to think of another way to argue, but she speaks first.

“Finals start next Monday and I’ve fallen behind on studying with all of this trial stuff.”

Finals. Okay, finals is acceptable. Fuck, that’s my fault too… “I’m…sorry about that, really I am. I didn’t mean for you to fall behind. I suppose, well… take the time you need tonight.” The words leave a bitter taste in my mouth. “But I’ll see you in the morning?”

“Sure,” she agrees, and I feel some of the fear recede. Plans are good, plans are something. Maybe a night apart isn’t a bad thing. Maybe, if she has sometime to work through what she’s feeling on her own, she’ll be more open to what I’m saying to her tomorrow.

“Have a good night,” I tell her, hesitantly moving closer to her. “I love you, Anastasia.”

“I love you, too,” she says, and the amount of relief I feel at those words is unquantifiable. I reach out for her, tenderly holding her cheeks in my palm as I press my lips into hers. She kisses me back, but breaks away before I do. I brush my fingers over her cheek, and then, because I don’t want to watch her walk away from me, I turn back for my room.

Once the door is closed behind me, I lean back on it, hitting my head against the wood a little too hard. This whole day has been worse than even I imagined it would be. I feel a vibration from my phone in my pocket and I quickly pull it out, hoping it’s something… anything from Ana, but it’s a notification from my bank.

The transfer has been made.

I stare down at the zeros behind the balance of my account, the secret account I’d opened so that my father wouldn’t figure out what had happened, but surprisingly, I don’t feel the satisfaction I thought I would.

This is it. The key to everything I want, including everything I want for Anastasia. But, until we’ve worked through this and I know we’re in the clear, this isn’t an indication of anything good.

I toss my phone onto the desk beside me and slump to the floor.

“I’m sorry, Ana,” I whisper, but it’s pointless, because there’s no one around to hear.

I’m alone.

Next Chapter

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