Continuing Tales


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Soignante

Part 52 of 64

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Christine reclined against a stack of pillows in the backseat, her leg up on another two pillows in front of her. Her cello, of which she was extremely envious, claimed the front passenger seat next to Erik. Despite a decade long absence from the driver's seat, Erik was proving himself to be a safe, careful driver. He insisted on going the speed-limit (three miles per hour over once they hit open road) saying that police tend to be very suspicious of masked drivers with injured young women in their backseats. He'd had one run-in with the law and that was quite sufficient, thank you.

After the initial road-safety 'discussion' was done, the next hundred miles passed in near silence. Classical mix CDs played in the rental car's six-CD changer, but conversation was nil. There was so much to be said, neither of them knew where to begin. With twenty-eight hours of road ahead of them, everything eventually found its time.


"Erik, about what happened two nights ago..."

"I'm sorry. I should have trusted you." What more could he say?

"That's...that's not it. You were on that ledge to commit suicide, you tore your face up, you refused to stop your own pain. It scares me to think you hate yourself so much." Christine rubbed her nose with the back of her hand. " I told you I was trying to hold on to you, but I'm scared I'm going to lose you."

Erik sighed. "Though you were pretty much passed out when I did it, I made you a promise that night. It's true: if I really love you -and I do- I will find a way to fix all those things that are broken in me. That means not just locking myself away. I don't know what I'll have to do, but I'm determined to do it."

"That's comforting..." she sounded unsure.

"I swear Christine, that you will never lose that way." Erik reached back and patted her leg reassuringly.

"I don't want to lose you in any way," she urged, not satisfied with his qualification.

"Aside from the unforeseen lightning strike or heart attack, I don't see any reason for you to worry." Erik smiled. "If you are still worried, I think there's some Super Glue in my repair kit..."


"I read that article after you went to bed."

"And?" Christine cursed the mask and his inscrutable eyes.

"She's a good friend to you."


"She has to stop making my private life public. That article was very sweet, but it still...It made me feel naked. That old lady was right - it's like being displayed naked in public. Twice now." Erik gritted his teeth. "The first elicited hate; the second begged for sympathy. I want neither, Christine."

"What do you want?"

"I don't know."


"Did you see that sign?" Christine twisted in her seat to watch the rectangular piece of sheet metal fade in the distance.

"The Outagamie sign?"

"That means we're almost there." Christine began to chew her lip.

"True. According to these roadsigns we've got about an hour and a half or so to go." Erik checked the gas gauge. They'd have to get gas one last time before they checked in at the hotel. He hated gas stops; inevitably, someone asked him whether he was on his way to a party. Recently, he had begun saying yes.

"Let's go home." Christine watched Erik roll his eyes.

"Nope. We're here now. You must go through with it." This is what he'd been instructed to say, should she waver.

"Seriously, Erik. I've changed my mind. Let's go see the pretty lakes and then let's get back on the road." She sounded absolutely sick with fear.

"Ok. But you are driving home. I never want to see another steering wheel as long as I live. I might buy a house out here..." The past few miles had been stunning, visually; this was only a half-joke.

"I can't drive home! I broke my leg going after you, remember?"

"Well, next time break the other leg so you can still drive. You can't deprive all those people of your genius just because you've got cold feet." He winked over his shoulder at her. "I'll carry you onstage myself, if I have to."

"I'll get you for this," Christine growled. She had improved her threatening tone tenfold over the past year. Erik was almost impressed.


When they passed a sign declaring only thirty miles between them and their destination, Christine decided she had waited long enough for the topic she was truly interested in to be raised. If Erik would not do it, she'd do it herself.

"What do you think about what that old lady on the bus said?"

"What, continuing to play in the park? I guess I can't argue too much. I actually signed an autograph." Erik shook his head at the flashing white lines. "Three. I signed three."

"Noooo..." Christine drew the word out and tried to give Erik significant looks in the rearview. "The other thing she said. You know...about us know..."

"Married?" Erik wore his mask, his eyes were on the road, and his voice was giving nothing away.

"Well, yeah. I mean, we live together already..."

"Usually, getting married involves informing a large number of people about the relationship." He risked a glance back over his shoulder. "Have you even mentioned me to your parents?"

"No." Christine mused on this a moment before continuing. "I haven't really told them anything about anything. I have barely talked to them in two years. Ever since the Conservatory thing...they talk to me like I'm a temperamental mental patient. Which is what I acted like, I guess. But now that you mention it...I can't wait to introduce you."

"I can. Honestly, Christine, how would you tell them? I mean, 'Mom, Dad, this is my husband-to-be. He's a thirty-nine-year-old, disfigured musician with a criminal past." Yup, that's a winner. I'm sure they'll be bowled over." The biting sarcasm came naturally; it was out before he could get a handle on it.

"Actually, I was thinking of saying, 'Mom, Dad, this is Erik. He's the one who got me back to the Conservatory, he's my partner in one of the most popular live bands in Seattle, and -oh yeah- he's responsible for my current joyful state.' I think that's a pretty good beginning."

"Seriously, though. I doubt they would like the idea."

"They don't get to choose. Hey, have you mentioned me to your family?" Christine thought she was clever, turning the question around on him.

"You met all the family and friends I have when you met Nadir."

"What about your Dad?"

"My Dad... I'll take you to meet my Dad on our return trip, ok? But let's not talk anymore about him just now." She could see that his fingers were white on the driving wheel and quickly dropped that subject.

"So...does that mean you will?" she asked, unable to believe the words were coming out of her mouth.

"Will what?" Oddly, Erik suddenly found that the car was entirely too warm.

Christine took a deep breath. "There's a rest stop. Please pull over."

Erik steered the car into the parking lot and helped her out. She stumped around a bit on her crutches to get the blood flowing. Once she felt less road-zoned, she returned to him, set her crutches down and took both his hands.

"Erik Valliere, would you like to marry me?" Well, there you have it. It's said. She sternly forbid herself to blush.

Erik watched her for a minute, waiting for the "Haha! Just kidding!" that must necessarily follow such a question. She showed no sign of retracting. It felt peculiarly like his might have turned into a feather that would flutter away in the slightest breeze. Before answering, he made sure he was able to speak smoothly and calmly without the taint of cynicism. Fortunately, Christine was in no hurry; the quarter hour of silence was uncomfortable only in that she needed to get off her injured leg.

A thousand protests sounded stridently in his mind: too ugly, too reclusive, too angry, too old, not worthy, not meant to be, repulsive, wrong! These thoughts would never pass into sound; he would not demean the moment.

"Christine Daae, nothing in the world could make me happier."


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Soignante

Part 52 of 64

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