Continuing Tales


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Immokk

Part 24 of 39

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The opera had played to another full house and Christine knew that this should please her, yet she seemed incapable of focusing on anything except for Erik. He had told her that he had no intention of taking her son from her, and she believed him, but he had not looked pleased. For the first time ever he had turned his back on her and walked away and even when she spoke, even when she almost called him back, he did not turn to her.

She had built a life for herself with a wonderful husband and a career that she was proud of. She had a son she adored, a home she liked and yet all thoughts were on him. The cab ride back home was rocky and lonely, she had refused Jack's company and was travelling alone, but the swaying of the carriage seemed to be shaking her thoughts loose. When she finally arrived home her mind was a jumble of the past and present, she dared not think about the future anymore. She truly had no idea what it held for her.

They had been part of the theatre for months now and her anger at Erik's manipulation had lessened but not to the extent where she was prepared to forgive him. He had told her his intentions on the balcony that night and yet he did not seem to be following up on his wishes. He did not follow her, he did not wait for her and he rarely appeared out of the blue. This was worrying and she found herself constantly wondering what act he had up his sleeve, what his plot was, how he intended for all of this to play out.

She placed her slip over the coat hook as she walked through the hall and was not surprised to see that Raoul had waited up for her. He smiled when she entered the living room and though she returned it, she did not feel like smiling at all.

'How was the show?' he asked, his voice sluggish with drowsiness.

'It went well,' she replied.

He nodded. 'I'm glad,'

Raoul had been spending more and more time with his brother and for once, Christine did not think that Jack had anything to do with it. She rarely saw him and although she knew that it was partly her fault she was not entirely to blame.

'I have missed you today,' she said and of course, she meant it.

His smile faded and he sighed. 'I'm sorry,'

She walked to the cabinet and poured herself a very small sherry. 'Would you like one?' she asked. She was not one to partake in alcohol but the occasional sherry did ease her mind a little.

He raised his hand and shook his head.

When she turned to him she said, 'How was Philippe?'

'He is doing a little better, actually,' Raoul answered and she could not help but notice the pride in his eyes. 'Not drinking so much, staying in more,'

'With you,'

He frowned. 'Yes, sometimes,'

When she said nothing further Raoul asked, 'Are you angry with me?'

'No,' she replied. 'Of course not, it would just be nice to spend some time with you,'

'You are working a lot,' he said defensively.

Christine sighed. 'My work is important,'

'As is my brother, Christine,' Raoul said.

She swallowed, 'More important than our marriage?'

The lines of his face hardened, 'Is your singing more important than our marriage?'

She caught the tinge of hurt in his voice and felt an immediate stab of guilt. She did not want to argue with him but she was seeing so little of him that she wondered if they would ever feel normal again.

'No,' she replied and momentarily wondered if it was the truth. 'But we were broke,'

Raoul said nothing, his face still set like stone with the same grey pallor.

'Because of Philippe,'

'It wasn't all his fault,' Raoul said, he was calm but she could see the anger behind his eyes. It was so rare that it happened that she could spot it every time, it changed the whole structure of his face, the whole colour of his eyes.

'Then whose fault is this?' she asked but she felt no anger, only despair that no matter what her brother in law did, her husband would defend him.

Raoul stood and walked to the door. 'I don't want to argue with you,'

'We're not arguing,' she said to him.

He turned to her, his face dark in the shadow of the cabinet. 'Then what is this?' he asked reasonably.

'I just miss you,'

He sighed. 'And I miss you,'

'The theatre is work, Raoul,' she said to him, hoping he could see what she meant, praying that he understood. 'Philippe…'

'If I don't spend time with him he will simply spend more money,'

'Yes but we have our own means now,' she said. 'We have our own share and we have my wage,'

At this his shoulders slumped. 'You can't keep me,'

'Why on earth not?' she asked.

'You're… it's...'

'I'm a woman,' Christine said, disappointed in him.

'No, you're my wife,' he said. 'This isn't the way it's supposed to be,'

'But if I can take care of us, why not?'

'Because I should take care of us,' he said. 'That is my job, that is my responsibility,'

'It doesn't have to be,'

'I'm going to bed,' he said.

She did not stop him.

It was a peculiar sensation knowing that Erik was there and yet not being able to see him. Somehow, she always knew when he was around and it was not the first time she had arrived home to discover that her house was not completely empty. Antoinette glanced around her, feeling a little dizzy from such a long day, and when she could not see him she simply made her way to the kitchen.

Finally, she heard a rustle behind her and when she turned he was sitting on the counter top looking at her from under his hat.

'You could knock,' she said to him.

'You weren't home,' he said simply.

'You could have waited,'

'I did wait,' he said, and she saw the ghost of a smile cross his lips.

'I meant outside,' she smiled back.

He shrugged his shoulders and said no more.

'Are you hungry?' she asked as she began to butter a slice of bread.

He frowned at her. 'No,'

'It wasn't such a silly question,' she said as she placed a slice of meat onto the bread and folded it over. 'You seem to be eating these days,'

'Are you calling me fat again?' he asked, his tone light and mocking, then added. 'A man could develop paranoia about these things,'

She stood by his side and nudged his leg with her arm. It was only then that she turned to face him and noticed that his eyes were a little murkier than usual, his face more lined, his expression darker.

'What ails you?' she asked as she prompted him to follow her to the living room where she could at least sit in comfort. Her hip was feeling very sore from such a torturous day.

When they sat down she asked him the same question, knowing that he was likely to avoid it if she did not.

'Nothing,' he said. 'Can't I just visit?'

She smiled at him. 'You can visit anytime,'

His eyes stayed on her.

'But you don't and there is something different today,' she added.

Finally he said, 'It is Christine,'

She laughed inwardly. 'When has it ever been anything else?'

He did not smile.

'What is it?' she asked, placing her small sandwich back onto the plate. 'What has happened? Are things not going according to plan?'

He turned away from her so that she could no longer see the honesty that was always present in his eyes. It was the one part of him that he could not hide behind the ghastly mask and they always showed his inner self.

She knew that he hated it.

'You could say that,' he said.

She did not say anything to him. What could she say? As his friend she had warned him that things could not turn out well. He was the most intelligent person she knew and yet when it came to Christine he became like a lost child.

'Do you know the boy?' Erik asked out of nowhere.

Confused, she asked, 'Benoit?'

Erik nodded.

'Yes, I do,'

'What do you think of him?'

'In what way?' she asked.

This time he turned back to look at her. 'Exactly what I say,'

'He is a good boy, clever, musical, kind…'

Erik nodded again. She wasn't sure why this conversation had taken her by surprise, she knew that it would have to come at some point.

'He reminds me a lot of his father,' Antoinette said.

Erik's eyes narrowed. 'He is nothing like Raoul,'

'That isn't who I meant,'

The room fell into a quiet haze with only the clicking of the mantel clock for accompanying sound. Erik sat stock still, his shoulders taut and his face impassive, while she simply stared at him, waiting.

'So you know,'

She nodded.

'Who told you?' he asked.

This time she laughed out loud. 'No one told me,'

'It isn't quite that obvious,' Erik said.

'It wasn't when he was younger,' Antoinette said. 'But when I saw him after arriving in New York, I knew,'

The clock crunched as the hand touched midnight.

'You saw it immediately too, did you not?' she asked.

He nodded.

'He really is quite remarkable,'

Again a nod.

'Does this change anything?' she asked.

'It changes everything and yet somehow it changes nothing,' he replied cryptically but, oddly, she thought that she understood.

'You still love Christine,'

His head snapped up. 'Of course,'

'And you were prepared to win her back by any means necessary,'

His eyes fixed onto hers. 'Yes,'

'And this is still the case,' Antoinette continued. 'But you do not want to hurt Benoit,'

'I would never hurt a child,'

She knew that this was true. 'I know that, Erik,'

His jaw muscle bunched.

'What I mean…' she explained. 'Is that now you don't want him caught up in this, you don't want to see him hurt or abandoned,'

Erik closed his eyes and sat there, completely still and completely silent. Antoinette worried for a moment that he might never speak to her again but then his eyes opened and they were the bluest she thought she had ever seen them.

'He is my son,'

Antoinette nodded.

'My flesh and blood,'

She did not say anything, the look on his face, the pain in his eyes, told her almost everything.

'I have not seen him grow,' Erik said. 'I have spent no time with him and yet I…'

'And yet you love him,' she added, filling in the empty space with what was undeniable.

Abruptly Erik stood and paced to the door.

'Don't blame Christine for this,' Antoinette said to him. 'She could not contact you,'

His hand found the door handle but he paused and turned to her. 'You don't look well,'

'I'm fine,'

'Don't lie to me,'

She wasn't sure why she even tried anymore. 'I'm tired,' she said. 'And a little dizzy, it's been a long day,'

'Take tomorrow off,' he said.

She laughed. 'I can't do that, the dancers…'

'Will be fine without you, I will see to it that they are properly supervised,' Erik said, his voice firm and unyielding. The look on his face told her that he was not going to change his mind about this.

She nodded. 'Alright,'

'You are working too much,'

'Really Erik,' she said softly.

'I will check on you tomorrow,'

'You will do no such thing!' she said. 'I am quite capable of looking after myself,'

This time, he smiled at her. 'I think I will check anyway,'

She smiled back but before she could tell him no the door was closing behind him.


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Immokk

Part 24 of 39

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