Continuing Tales


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Soignante

Part 33 of 64

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When Christine appeared at his door a few minutes later Erik greeted her with a hug and a careful kiss.

"Christine, please come sit and talk with me."

"Sure. That's why I'm here. So we can talk...among other things." She flashed him a sparkling smile and waved her flute at him.

"Seriously." He sat down at the kitchen table and thumbed the petals of the flowers she had never taken home with her.

"What is it?" She sat down across fro him, wondering what new thing could have cropped up to bug him.

"On the bus, you told me about your experience at the Conservatory," he watched uncomfortably as she dropped her eyes and began playing with the cuffs of her sleeves. "I was wondering; would you ever consider going back to finish that degree?"

"Erik, I thought I already explained all this to you..."

"You did. Those scum won't be there if you go back, though. You could go back, put on one performance and.."

"How do you know that? About the one performance deal? I never told..." she trailed off as understanding dawned. "Meg. That red-headed busy-body...when I get my hands on her...I love her, but I'm going to throttle her."

"But you are very much against going back and finishing what you began?"

"I never want to set foot there again."

Erik nodded and took her hand reassuringly.

"Meg wanted me to convince you to go back. I told her no -she wasn't pleased about that, I don't think - but then I thought I ought to make sure of your feelings on the subject. Now that I have double-checked and you are still very against the idea, I feel better about refusing to conspire with her."

"How did she get to you?"

"Trillian, just like you did." Erik let her mull this for moment, then patted her hand supportively. "I personally stand by your decision to avoid that situation." Having put Christine in a more comfortable, trusting mindset, he then threw his first calculated punch. "After all, it's what I've done and it's worked for me pretty well."

Christine's mouth opened as though she were about to speak, but no words emerged. Erik stood up, leaned over, kissed her forehead and walked to the music room. Once his back was turned, he smiled. The first punch had hit its mark squarely, he could tell. How bittersweet is this, he thought as he walked into the music room and picked up his violin. But if it works, wouldn't that be wonderful...

He carried his precious violin back to the living room and stood facing the black curtained window. Christine was still sitting at the dinner table, staring blankly at the roses. Let her get the point. Please just let this reach her. Erik lifted the beautiful instrument to his chin and set his bow to the strings. Barber's Adagio for Strings was one of the most beautiful pieces in his extensive repertoire. It was performance-ready from beginning to end. As he played now, he imagined himself onstage, maybe in Carnegie hall, backed by a symphony of the greatest musicians the world had to offer. The seats were filled with gorgeous people in evening wear, dripping with money, so entranced by his skill they forgot to breathe. Yes, he was good enough. But it was only a sweet dream, never to be reality - for him at least. For Christine, though...

In one way, Meg was right; Christine would be happy performing for a living. It was the only life Erik could imagine for her. But in another way, Meg was entirely wrong. No one else could convince her or make her return to the scene of her humiliation. This was not a job for the iron fist, but for the silken glove. She had to see truth for herself. If she decided to go back, he would be by her side every step of the way, no matter what it cost him. If she decided to hide forever in the little coffee shop, he'd stand with her then, too.

Erik sensed her nearness. She was standing a few feet away, listening and (hopefully) thinking. He ignored her nearness and played through the entire piece, indulging in his fantasy. When he was finished, he stood quietly with his head bowed and his violin hanging by his side. Christine ran her fingers through his hair, then smoothed it. She let her hand trial down his neck and arm until it came to rest on his.

"Amazing," she whispered. "I know what you are capable of, but still: amazing."

He laughed hollowly. "I'm glad you enjoyed it. I think the curtain was impressed as well."

"I learned part of it several years ago. Would you be willing to help me brush up on it before Saturday?"

Erik nodded. He had almost forgotten about Saturday. There would be a lovely late lunch followed by a performance. Their performance. He thought about Meg's argument - just look in her eyes when she's performing, she'd said.

"Pull out the cello. We've got a lot of work ahead of us."

"I'm so glad you'll be with me," she said as she tuned up. "This Saturday, I mean. I wasn't kidding when I said I couldn't do these things without you."

"I'll be with you as long as you'll have me." He touched her cheek lightly to get her attention. "You may think these hands are talented, but I'm just strange noise without you."


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Soignante

Part 33 of 64

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