Continuing Tales


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Immokk

Part 15 of 39

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Box five was beautifully furnished and had probably the best finish of all of the boxes in the theatre. Jack sat quietly and patiently, waiting as he had been told. He leaned forward, his forearms resting on the ledge in front of him, and looked down at the stage. From here he could see the whole of the stage and the dark orchestra pit below, he could see the lights and the beams above, the curtains to the side.

He sighed. He was feeling melancholy, something he was pretty unused to, and he could not figure out why. The darkness of the empty theatre suited his mood and although he could hear the muffled sounds of the party down the hall, he felt like he could not be in a more peaceful place.

A click alerted him to Schwarz's presence and he turned to face him, standing but moving away from the edge of the box. You never could be too sure with him.

Schwarz moved in and took the seat that Jack had just vacated. He too stared out into the black theatre and said nothing. Jack noted the tired look in Schwarz's eyes and was taken aback by it. It was rare to see him looking so human.

'Will she tell him?' Jack asked, quietly but it sounded like he was shouting in the otherwise quiet atmosphere.

Schwarz did not move. 'No,'

'How can you be sure?'

This time the boss turned his head and set his eyes on Jack, 'I just am. I know her,'

'What do you need me to do?' Jack asked, thinking it unwise to question him and unsure of his role now that Christine clearly knew of his involvement.

'Your job is the same as it always was,' Schwarz said. 'Keep them close,'

Jack sighed. 'Will they renege on the contract?'

'No,' the boss replied. 'Because she won't tell Raoul and she won't tell Philippe,'

Jack was sceptical, Christine had seemed so honest to him in the months that he had spent in her company.

'What if she does?'

Schwarz's eyes narrowed. 'She won't,'

Jack shrugged and then immediately regretted the action.

'Do you doubt me, Jack?' he asked.

Jack shook his head.

'Then why all of the questions?'

'I'm sorry,'

'Perhaps guilt,' Schwarz flashed an unnerving smile.

Jack shook his head.

'Good,' the boss said firmly. 'They will honour the contract. She will sing,' Schwarz turned away. 'She always does,'

It was clear to Jack that he had been dismissed and so he left the room, letting the door close behind him. He stood still and stared, for a long time, down the hallway to the door of the ballroom. He was torn and now realised that it was the only time in his life that he had actually questioned his own actions. There was just something about Christine that brought out the better side of him. He wasn't in love with her, God forbid, his life would not have been worth living, but he had a bizarre respect for her.

Schwarz was right. He felt guilt. Not for Raoul or Philippe, as far as he was concerned they were just like everyone else he had ever met. No, he felt guilt for Christine. The boss had not looked happy and so he was left to assume that the meeting between the two of them had not gone well. This led to the conclusion that Christine had not been particularly compliant and had probably been unhappy.

He did not really want to be the source of her unhappiness and he was wondering now if it was a good idea for him to see her at all.

With a sigh and some mental effort he heaved his feet forward and trudged back towards the ballroom. Before he entered he took a deep breath, straightened his dinner jacket and placed a smile on his face that might even have fooled Schwarz.

The door opened as a guest exited and he entered at the same time, surveying his surroundings as he stepped into the room. The ball was in full swing, people danced with each other and the music and champagne was flowing freely. When his eyes found Antoinette Giry they found her alone. She spotted him and quickly approached.

'Where is Christine?' she asked and he wondered the same thing himself, letting his eyes scan the room again.

'She was on the balcony,' Jack replied, still smiling but feeling distinctly unnerved.

'Did you leave her there alone?' the ballet mistress asked, surprised.


'Then where is she?'

'She is probably still there,' he said.

'I thought you said you had not left her,'

'I didn't leave her alone,' Jack said simply. The truth, at least. 'Perhaps she is still there,'

Antoinette Giry was clearly worried and began to head in the direction of the large windows. As they approached, Christine stepped back through the curtains and looked up at them. Her eyes met Antoinette's first and she gave her what was obviously a forced smile.

When they met Jack's, there was no such effort.

'Are you alright?' Antoinette asked her, placing a hand on her shoulder. 'You're freezing,'

Christine glanced at her. 'I'm fine, thank you, Madame,'

'Are you sure?' the ballet mistress asked. 'Honestly, you look like you've seen a ghost,'

At that, Christine laughed, it was a full laugh but there was no warmth to it and Antoinette looked nearly as taken aback as Jack felt.

'Really,' she said. 'I'm fine,'

Both women turned to Jack, one of them looking truly confused and the other simmering with rage. Christine finally said, 'I would like to leave now,'

Jack nodded, there was no point in arguing with her. As she was saying goodbye to the baffled and concerned Antoinette Giry, Jack went in search of her shawl. When he returned, Christine was standing alone, her eyes alive with anger. She snatched the shawl from his hands and flung it over her shoulders, turning and leaving him in her dust.

For a moment he was struck dumb but he regained his senses and quickly followed her from the room. At the front of the theatre his cab was waiting and Christine got in without help and sat with her face turned to the window and away from him.

He instructed the driver to move and then said to Christine, 'I'm sorry,'

She turned to face him. 'Oh, I'm sure you are,'


'How dare you!' she said, her voice thick with fury.

'I am sorry,'

'I should have known,' she said, and for a moment he was unsure whether she was talking to him or to herself. 'You're a scoundrel Jack Aldridge and you have betrayed me,'

'I didn't know you,' he said to her, as if it was a defence. For a brief moment his mind whirred and he wondered why he was explaining himself to her. In an instant the feeling was gone and he knew why. She was innocent and he was guilty.

Guilty of just about everything.

'Well, I suppose that's alright then,' she snapped.

'He is my boss,' Jack said. 'I was only following orders,'

She scoffed at him, her eyes burning and as intense as he had ever seen them.

'He's probably the only friend I've got,' Jack admitted.

'Then I am sorry for you,' she said with a sharp shake of her head. 'But no less angry,'

'He doesn't want to hurt you,' Jack explained, as if this might actually change anything.

'And yet somehow he does,'

Jack once again wondered about their relationship and gave her the one thing he knew to be entirely true, without having ever being told, 'He loves you,'

She laughed and the tone was harsh, 'I wonder whether he knows what love really is,'

Jack sat still and a silence filled the carriage, uncomfortable and tense.

Christine broke it, in a small voice she said, 'I was your friend,'

Jack shook his head. 'If not for this, you and your family would not have glanced twice at me,'

'You know nothing about me,'

He could not argue with this and so he asked, 'What will you tell Raoul?'

'I should tell him the truth,' she said. 'And then leave, never look back,'

'But will you?'

She turned away from him and looked out of the carriage window.


'No,' she said quietly. 'I won't,'

'Can I ask why not?'

She laughed again, sounding more angry than amused. 'Ask whatever you like,'

'Then why not?'

'Because I don't want to leave,' she said softly.

He was surprised. 'I don't understand…'

'This isn't about Erik,'


Again, the laugh. 'Schwarz,'

He nodded.

'This is about me,' she said. 'I won't love him and I want him to stay away from me but he has done what he always does,'


'He has given me music again,' she said, her voice almost too quiet to hear. 'And I like it, I've missed it… I won't admit it to him but…'

'I won't tell him,'

'Who knows what you will do?' she said, a hint of anger returning to her voice.

'I do,'

'I wonder,'

He shook his head.

'You're frightened of him,' she said. 'You must be,'

'I won't deny it,'

'Do you see what he is capable of?' she asked.

He nodded, 'Yes,'

'So why work for him?' she asked.

'He has been very good to me,' Jack replied honestly. 'He had paid me well, fed me… I am not the best of men myself, Christine,'

'I see that,'

The comment stung more than he cared to admit. 'I am sorry,'

'Forgive me for no longer believing a word you say,' she said, her tone an icy cool that in the months he had known her, he would have sworn she was incapable of.

'I understand,'

'I want you to stay away from me,' she said, as they approached her street.

Jack sighed loudly. 'I can't do that,'

'You must,'

'I can't,' he said. 'I have my orders,'

'Do you really think he needs you to watch me?' she asked. 'He can watch me anytime he wishes and he knows it,'

Jack frowned at her unsure what she meant but she was not about to explain herself.

'You really don't know anything about him, do you?'

'I know what I need to know,' Jack replied.

'Which is nothing?'

He didn't reply.

'He is … the master of disguise, of stealth,' she said to him. 'I've never known anyone who could sneak up on someone the way he does…'

'You almost sound like you admire him,'

She scowled. 'It's not supposed to sound that way, I promise you,'

Jack wasn't so sure.

'He thinks he can take whatever he wants, he has never been any different,' she said.

'He can,'

'He cannot,' she said, a little too loudly. 'He cannot,'

The cab pulled to a stop but neither of them moved.

'I trusted you,' she said, after a long a silence.

'I know…'

'But that was the idea wasn't it?' she said, her eyes so hard, they had lost their glimmer and their warmth and Jack felt like hell.

Jack nodded.

'And this is how you earn your living,' her voice was low and firm. 'No wonder you have no friends and no family,'

He did not say anything because he did not feel like he could say anything.

She was staring at him, 'Perhaps you should rethink your career choice,'

This time it was Jack's turn to laugh, 'It's too late for that,'

'It's never too late,' she said, and if he had not known better he would have sworn that her voice had softened.

'It's thirty years too late,' he said, thinking of his childhood, of all of the years out in the cold needing to build his own life, his own way. It was not perfect and in some instances, such as this, it was almost indefensible, but it was his life. He earned money that kept him from the breadline and he lived well and, for the most part, kind of liked the work.

Christine opened her door and began to climb out, this time he made no attempt to help her knowing that any effort in that direction was likely to result in something rather unpleasant. When she stepped down she turned back to him.

'Stay away from me,' she insisted.

He shrugged his shoulders and she was gone.


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Immokk

Part 15 of 39

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