Continuing Tales


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Immokk

Part 22 of 39

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One of the few good things about the situation she found herself in was the fact that she had access to the opera house any time she wanted. That morning she had risen early with Benoit and taken breakfast in his company on the balcony, then, suitably well fed, they left Raoul to wait for Philippe and made their way to the theatre.

It was eerie in its silence as they first walked in and the deep thud of the door behind her sent penetrating echoes around the room. She was not used to seeing a place like this so quiet but it gave her a chance to be alone with Benoit and let him experience the stage in a whole different way. Benoit rarely questioned anything his parents told him, not out loud anyway, but that morning when they entered the opera house he had looked up at her and asked, 'Why doesn't papa come with us?'

Christine had to smile at him. It was at times like these that she remembered that he was only a child. It was hard to think of him as such sometimes, he behaved very much like a miniature adult and their conversations often made her uncomfortable because she wondered if a boy should be thinking about such grown-up things.

They talked about their move to America and he would wonder what had prompted it and why it had taken so long for them to find work. They talked about Raoul and Benoit would often express concerns for his father's health, telling her that he looked pale. They talked about Philippe and though she hated to admit it, his insight was sometimes over and above even her own.

Today though, looking at her with ice pool eyes and pale cheeks, with his black hair flopped forward over his eyebrows, he was just her son. Just a child. She loved him always but especially like this.

'Papa is busy with Uncle Philippe,' she answered honestly. 'Besides, this is our time,'

She rested her arm over his narrow shoulders and he grasped her hand as they walked into the stage area. 'I like it here,' he said, out of the blue, his eyes gazing out over the seats of the theatre.

'I do too,' she admitted.

Benoit grinned his famous grin, with the warmth and the enthusiasm of all boys at nine years old. 'Papa doesn't know what he is missing,'

She smiled back at him. 'No, he doesn't,'

Benoit looked up at her. 'Let's not tell him,'

'Why not?' Christine asked, a little surprised.

Benoit shrugged his bony shoulders. 'It's nice to spend time with you,'

'It's nice to spend time with your father,' Christine said lightly.

Benoit nodded. 'Oh I know, mama, but…'

She glanced at him as he fell into silence. 'But?' she asked, placing her hand gently onto his arm.

'You work a lot now,' he said quietly.

She felt a pang of guilt deep in her heart, 'I'm sorry, Benoit,'

He turned his face away. 'It's fine. I understand,'

Worryingly, she thought that he just might.

'Why don't you play for me?' she asked. 'Like you used to,'

Benoit's smile returned and he fled to the steps, bounding down them and throwing himself into the orchestra pit. He looked up at her and said, 'Are you going to stay up there?'

She shook her head and held back a laugh. 'I will sit in my favourite seat, where I can see and listen,'

He looked pleased with her answer and played a cheerful melody to match her footfalls as she walked down the stairs and made her way to the centre seat in the second row. When she was comfortable he nodded at her and cracked his little knuckles, a habit that, despite her best efforts, he could not stop. She cringed at the sound but did not show it and when he began to play she eased herself back into her seat and smiled.

When they were home he tended to choose to play the violin in the family room and although she enjoyed it she did love to hear him play the piano. Part of her was always slightly melancholy when he played the violin- he reminded her so much of her father. She was sure he was equally gifted with the instrument and although it brought back pleasant memories they saddened her all the same.

As Benoit finished the first piece he stood and gave her a dramatic bow to which she applauded and, because there was no one else around, she whistled too. He giggled and sat back down again, playing a more dramatic piece which filled the entire room with deep, dark sounds. The music was so fierce that it made her shiver and yet he played it so beautifully it was hard to dislike it. She closed her eyes and let herself listen.

She drifted into the world and sounds of music until a loud clapping began at the back of the room.


Her eyes flew open as she turned quickly. Erik was walking slowly down the aisle towards them, his applause matched his stride and she suddenly realised that Benoit had stopped playing. She turned to face him, expecting what, she did not know, but whatever it was she didn't find it. Instead Benoit was looking over at Erik, his face a normal colour, his eyes their usual shade. He did not look afraid nor did he look nervous.

Erik walked past the second row and down into the orchestra pit. 'Hello Benoit,' he said.

Her son smiled. 'Hello monsieur,' Benoit said. 'I can call you that, can't I? Your accent…'

Erik nodded his head. 'You play very well,'

Christine swallowed the lump in her throat that had developed along with the softness of his voice.

'Thank you,' Benoit said with such a grateful earnest that it made her heart stop in her chest. She suddenly found that she could not speak, she could not move, she was powerless as Erik stood over her tiny son, his shadow casting blackness across him.

Benoit's eyes lifted. 'What are you doing here?' he asked.

'I own this place,' Erik answered with uncharacteristic openness. Christine wondered at the changes in him.

'You do?' Benoit asked, with both excitement and surprise tangled in his tone.

'I do,'

'Mama!' Benoit shouted to her, his eyes wide and alive. 'This is Monsieur Schwarz!'

Christine forced on a smile and finally found her voice, 'Yes, we've met before,'

Benoit did not let his confusion dampen his enthusiasm as he turned back to Erik and said, 'How is Banquo?'

'Banquo is doing very well, Benoit,' Erik replied, his voice soft and even. 'I shall tell him that you asked,'

Benoit's smile was so bright when he looked at Erik that Christine felt a sinking in the pit of her stomach. Erik's mildness was not only surprising it was almost touching and perhaps just a little frightening. Finally, she found the strength to stand and, on slightly shaking legs, she made her way from her seat and to the front. She was careful not to brush too close to Erik as she shuffled around to her son.

Erik eye's turned to her only briefly before they met Benoit's again. 'How long did it take you to learn to play that way?' he asked.

Proud, Benoit replied, 'Oh not long at all,'

Erik glanced at Christine but said nothing to her, instead his focus was once again her son. 'Do you enjoy it?'

'It's my favourite thing in the world,' Benoit said and then, with a blush, added, 'Well, except for spending time with mama,'

'A boy after my own heart,' Erik said lightly but there was something in his tone, something ominous, something that made Christine's heart freeze.

Erik dug his hand into his pocket and found a small key. He held it out, 'Why don't you go to the prop closet, see if there is anything you might like to keep,'

Benoit's face lit up as his eyes widened. 'Really?'

Erik nodded.

Benoit turned to Christine, 'Can I, mama?'

She swallowed, 'Of course,'

He took the key from Erik's hand and darted away from them. Erik and Christine stood in silence and she could feel the heavy beat of her heart as she waited for something, anything, to happen. There was a gap between them now, where Benoit had been, and suddenly it did not seem very far at all. When the sound of Benoit's footsteps had faded Erik finally turned to look at her, his blue eyes focused and intense on hers.

'He is quite a child,' Erik said, his voice was low and steady.

Christine's throat felt suddenly constricted and she moved around the piano instinctively so that it now stood between them. 'I didn't really thank you for helping him the other day,'

'And that is what you would like to talk to me about now?' he asked, gaze unwavering.

Somehow she nodded.

His shoulders moved in an elegant shrug. 'Very well,'

Christine did not really know what was happening or what to say. Did she want to talk to him about this? She suspected not but her head was a mess and her stomach tied in knots and truly, she did not know what to do.

'Well, he is a gentle boy,' she said, placing her hand over her stomach in an effort to steady her breathing. 'He would have…'

'He has many facets,' Erik said simply.

Christine felt unreasonably angry at the comment, she didn't know why it had stung her, but she said, 'He is normal, he is only a child,'

If Erik was surprised by her outburst he did not show it. He did not speak, instead he let his eyes linger on her face until she was hot under his intense gaze.

'He is a good boy,'

'I don't doubt it,'

'He is honest,'

'I didn't question his honesty, Christine,'

And there it was. Her name. Spoken softly, spoken beautifully, spoken by a man she never dreamed she would see again, a man she had somehow banished from her thoughts.

'No,' she said quietly.

He was quiet for a moment, so quiet that she allowed herself to look at him. She allowed herself to notice the sincerity in his eyes, to notice the angle of his jaw, the curve of his cheek. They stood there long enough for her to see the broadness of his shoulders, the thickness of his arms…

'Did you forget me?' he said, breaking the silence with a gentle, angst ridden question. He did not attempt to keep the hurt from his tone, he did not hide it from her.

She turned her face away.

'You look at me as though you do not know me,' he said. 'Did you forget me?'

She could hear her pulse racing in her ears, 'Of course not,'

He stepped to the side of the piano, closing the space between them. His head tilted to the side, 'There was a night all those years ago,' he said.

He didn't need to say anymore. 'Erik…'

'Is he mine?' There was no anger in his voice, none of the fury that she might have expected with such a question, with such a man, there was only pain.

She turned to face him again, she didn't know what to say to him, she didn't know how to answer. It was a question she had lived with all of Benoit's life, a guilt she had hoped to take to her grave. Now, faced with it, all she could say was, 'I don't know,'

'He is not like you,'

She shook her head.

'Nor Raoul,'

It was strange to hear him say her husband's name so casually but she shook the feeling away. 'He is like my father,'

Erik nodded. 'He is somewhat like your father,'

She could not be sure, it was a feeling that had tortured her since the moment she had known of her pregnancy, but deep down, if she was honest, she knew.

'He is a lot like me,' Erik said, voicing both of their thoughts. His own thoughts from just recently and hers from years of self torment.

She swallowed.

'Our eyes…'

He did not finish the thought, he let it hang between them. Benoit's eyes were Erik's eyes, she had always known it and she had always pushed the knowledge away… deep and far away, where her mind could not reach it easily.

The silence was back and they both stood there. She had expected these moments to be different and perhaps it would have been had Erik not see Benoit. It was too late now, though, the seed was sown.

'He is perfect,' Erik said softly.

'Yes,' she said, her voice strained. 'Yes, he is,'

'He has your cheeks,' Erik said.

She nodded and took a deep breath, 'What will you do, Erik?'

He stared at her.

'You won't…' she touched her chest without thinking. 'You won't take him, will you?'

'That would hurt you,' he said simply.

She nodded at him. 'It would hurt very much,'

'Then I will never do that,' he said, as if it was the most common thing in the world. As if every person had had this conversation at one point or another in their lives.

'What happens now?' she asked.

'He is my son,'

She nodded, past denying what they both knew.

'But he doesn't know,'


Erik stared at her for a moment longer and then turned his back and walked away. As he got to the middle row she said, 'I don't regret it,'

He stopped walking but did not turn around.

'That night,' she clarified. 'I don't regret it. I never have and I never will,'

When he walked away this time, she did not call after him.


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Immokk

Part 22 of 39

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