Continuing Tales


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Immokk

Part 20 of 39

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Christine knew that it wasn't really the most ladylike thing in the world but she reclined onto the sand anyway, propping herself up on her elbows and covering her lower legs with Benoit's blanket. She lowered the rim of her hat slightly, to protect her eyes from the fading sun, and watched Benoit dash in and out of the waves. There was no tutoring that day, in fact, his lessons had been going so well that she worried he might be too advanced for any tutor in New York.

Their time together, like this, had become a little rarer since the opening of the Opera House and so, given the opportunity, she made sure to treasure every second of it. Raoul was out with Philippe somewhere and she hadn't thought to ask where. Over the years she had learnt better. It was not that Raoul would not answer nor that he did not want to tell her, she just found that often she didn't want to know.

When she glanced up, Benoit was running towards her with his arms outstretched and his body dripping with sea water. He leapt towards her, not caring that he was wet, and giggled in her arms. She squeezed him to her, feeling the water soak into her clothes as she did. She kissed the top of his head.

He tasted of salt.

He jumped up and sat down next to her, digging his feet into the sand, as deep as they would go and then wiggling his toes around. 'Did you know that New York was first called New Amsterdam?' Benoit asked, turning his eyes towards her. They were bright and clear, even though he was squinting from the intensity of the sun.

'I didn't,' she said.

He nodded and, without explaining further, bounded back to his feet and ran to build sand castles with other children on the beach. She sighed at the peace of it.

If only all things were as simple as the beach.

When she was young the seaside, with its sandy shores and crashing waves, was always her favourite place to be. Her father would spend his free time alone with her, playing games and building grander and grander castles in the sand. They had very few of what most people would consider holidays but it didn't matter. Wherever there was a beach, she was happy, whether her father was forced to work or not.

Benoit shared her innate love of the beach and she suspected that it was for all the same reasons as she had loved it when she was a child. It represented happy times, it represented holidays and family. It was wonderful.

She stood and walked to him. 'I'm going to make a sandwich, I can see you from the balcony,' she said to him. 'Would you like one?'

He shook his head, completely engrossed in his creation. She glanced down at it and noticed that he was shaping the sand into the pattern of the arches at the theatre. They were almost exactly right. She glanced at him, 'No castles today?' she asked.

He shook his head. 'The sand crumbles too quickly, you can't make anything tall and intricate with it,'

She laughed to herself and ruffled his hair. He looked up and smiled.

'Don't move from here,' she said to him. It was the same thing she said to him every time she left him on the beach. He was old before his time and often insisted that he was perfectly capable of playing on the beach alone. It had been only a few months ago when she had given into his request. Still, she watched him from the balcony, just to be safe.

He nodded dismissively, and she rolled her eyes leaving him to his work. Every so often, as she moved away, she checked over her shoulder but she knew by now that he would be fine. Even bigger, stronger children did not seem to bother him and so she forced herself to stop worrying and went inside.

Once inside she quickly stepped out onto the balcony to check that he was still where he promised to stay. He was, of course, and he was still working his fingers into the sand recreating the arch from the opera house.

With that she wandered inside to make herself a sandwich.

Dusk was only just beginning as Erik took the opportunity to stroll along the coastline. He didn't do it often but it was something he quite liked. In fact, he might sometimes go as far as to say he actually enjoyed it. It wasn't the sand or the sea that made it such a pleasant walk. To him, being so close to the ocean and hearing the waves represented freedom.

When he had travelled across Europe, all those years ago, the only thing that truly signalled escape to him was the sight of the sea. Its expanse and depth was so unimaginable that to him, it was comforting. He walked on the firm sand near the rocks, he did not really care to get sand in his shoes and so stayed where it did not flick up.

Finally, Christine's home came into view. It was along the shore and set back slightly. He could not see her on the balcony and though he did not walk this way with the purpose of seeing her, he often hoped that he would. She was not there today but he could see some boys playing in the sand.

Seeing them he decided that he would walk no further, instead he turned to face the open expanse of the ocean and took in a lungful of the salty air. Try as he might, thoughts of Christine swirled like water into his mind and he was incapable of stopping them. It had been a little over a month since the opening night and it was clear to him that she was being very careful not to 'bump' into him.

For the first time in their odd relationship, he chose not to force any meetings with her, resisting the urge to appear before her anytime he wanted to. There had been opportunities for him to be alone with her but he had chosen against it and instead had left a rose each evening in her dressing room. In a different place each time, of course, just to keep things interesting.

He had no way of looking into her dressing room. He had not built a mirror nor spy holes, he was enabling her to have the privacy she deserved, something he could never have done a decade ago. It was difficult, of course, and often against his better judgement but Jack was still around and he kept a watchful eye on her.

He didn't need Jack to do this. Should he choose to do it himself he would have no difficulty and the odds of him being caught were slim but with Jack things were easier. Erik had to satisfy himself in getting information second hand but for the time being, he could handle that. In the future, who knew, but at that moment he had come to realise that the harder he pushed Christine the further away she fell.

In spite of himself he turned his head and glanced back to her balcony. She wasn't there, still, and his eyes drifted down to beach beneath her window. He watched as a shaggy, dishevelled looking dog crept onto the beach and began drinking from a rock pool. The poor creature looked half starved. One of the boys saw him and walked in his direction but the dog did not seem to have the energy to move away. The others followed and they surrounded the mutt and began poking at it with sticks.

He wondered where they had discovered this practice and why they felt it necessary to be so cruel. It was rare that he felt any true anger towards children, they were generally the innocents of society, the little human's who learnt by mimicking. Still, seeing them torment the innocent dog riled him and he felt his hands twitch in anger.

With a sigh he began to make his way towards them but stopped when another, smaller boy walked to them.

'Stop that,' he said bravely to the six older boys.

The ringleader turned to him, stared him up and down, and then laughed. 'Mind your business,' he said to the smaller boy and then turned and proceeded to harass the dog with greater enthusiasm.

The small boy frowned, 'Excuse me,'

Again, the ring leader turned to him, along with a couple of the other boys. 'What?' he snapped, sounding older than he actually was. Erik could clearly see that none of them were any older than eleven or twelve years and the other boy was younger still.

'Can't you see he is unwell?' the boy asked without anger.

'Why should that matter?'

'He only wants to drink,' the boy explained.

'This is my beach,' the older boy told him.

'I don't think it is,' the younger boy informed him. The rest of the older set stopped prodding the dog and turned around to support their leader.

To Erik's amazement it seemed that the younger boy had no intention of backing down on his position.

'Who do you think you are?' the ringleader asked.

'The dog has done nothing wrong,' the boy said, standing his ground admirably.

The ringleader stepped forward and grabbed the younger boy by the scruff of the neck but the young boy barely flinched as he stared the leader in the eye. 'I don't wish to cause trouble,'

One of the other boys laughed. 'You hear that accent?'

It was only then that Erik snapped out of his daze and he too noticed the lilt in the boy's accent. He was not American he, in fact, sounded distinctly French.

The ringleader raised his other hand and almost lifted the boy from the floor, 'You already caused trouble,' he said to him. 'Run along and play with your sand…'

'Are you going to let the dog go?' the boy asked with such a fearlessness that Erik was taken aback.

The leader's laugh pierced the still air. 'Why would we do that?' he asked. 'I've had enough of you, we're going to have to sort you out,'

The other boys crowded closer and with horrible clarity Erik not only realised the boy was likely to be beaten senseless but that this boy was Christine's son. He moved forward as the boy kicked out and caught the ringleader firmly in the groin. The grip loosened as he collapsed to the floor, much to the amazement of his comrades.

The shock was not enough to stop them, however, and they descended on the boy quickly. One threw a loose punch which the boy easily sidestepped and then somehow managed to avoid another kick. They had managed to circle him, though, and now he was surrounded.

Still, he showed no fear to them.

One of the bullies tackled him to the floor and another sent a kick to his ribs.

Enough was enough.

Erik stepped into the middle of them and lifted the attacker from the ground and flung him to one side. The next little tyrant he shoved with a firm hand so that he could lift the young de Chagny boy to his feet.

'Mister,' the ringleader said, finally able to stand, 'This is none of your business,'

Of course, they were now standing around him but Erik simply turned to the ringleader and pulled him close. Suddenly, the boy looked horrified.

'Listen to me,' Erik hissed into his ear, he didn't want to threaten the boy directly and so he chose the next best thing. 'I know your parents. If I ever catch you on this beach in the future I will ensure that you never see them again,'

Quivering at the sound of his voice the ringleader struggled from his grasp and ran. As soon as the other bullies realised that they had little or no chance without their leader, they too, began to scatter in their separate directions.

Watching them run away he caught the soft sound of footsteps behind him.

'Oh my God,'

Erik's back stiffened as he heard the sound of Christine's voice getting closer to him.

Suddenly she was lifting her son from the ground and kissing his hair, 'This is why I don't like you to play alone… are you hurt? Did they hurt you?'

The boy struggled and wiped his cheek, 'Mama, I am fine…' he looked embarrassed.

Finally, she placed his feet back on the sand and turned to Erik. 'I won't ask how you came to be here,' she said quietly.

'It is a public beach,' he said, without malice.

She placed her hand on his arm. 'Thank you,' she said and then took her son's hand.

When the boy looked up at him and their eyes met, he felt a jolt of recognition shoot through his body. He swallowed, confused.

'I'm Benoit,' the boy said, offering his hand.

Erik took it gently, noting the long fingers of the boy as his own curled around them, 'A pleasure, Benoit, you are a very courageous boy,'

Benoit's cheeks reddened. 'Thank you,'

Erik turned to leave, his heart pounding in his chest. He did not know what he had seen or what he should do. As he stepped away from them he heard Benoit say, 'Mama, what about the dog?'

'Oh Benoit, we can't keep a dog,'

Benoit was silent for a moment before he said, with a voice full of tears, 'But he will die,'

Erik turned. 'I will take him with me,'

Christine blinked at him but said nothing.

'Will you, sir?'


He swallowed. 'Of course,'

'Oh thank you,' he sounded relieved.

'What shall I call him?' Erik asked before his brain could stop him.

Benoit looked up at him thoughtfully before saying, 'Banquo,'

Erik blinked, 'Banquo?'

He nodded.

'From Macbeth?'

Again, the boy nodded. Surprised, Erik found it within himself to glance up at Christine but as soon as their eyes met she looked away, refusing to hold his gaze.

'Then Banquo it is,' he said, scooping the unkempt creature into his arms and as he left them there on the beach he knew that something was seriously amiss.


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Immokk

Part 20 of 39

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