Continuing Tales


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Immokk

Part 35 of 39

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It was only when Philippe asked how Benoit felt about the long voyage ahead that Roaul realised he had not been to kiss his son goodnight. Both he and Christine excused themselves from Philippe for a moment and headed up to his room.

As they walked he couldn't help but let his mind drift to his conversation with Christine. Deep down he had known that Christine would find the tickets; he knew her routine so well. He had not deliberately left them in the open but thinking back, he had not been too careful to hide them either. What a coward he was that he hoped that she would find them before he had to tell her.

Part of him also realised that if she found them, then she would probably seek the Phantom out as well. He never could understand their relationship and over the years had spent many a night torturing himself about those nights at the Opera Populaire, the ones where she disappeared and then did not return for days. Of course, over time, these thoughts had lessened and his marriage had seemed to grow from strength to strength but there always remained a niggling in his mind, something that sat deep down but occasionally rose to unsettle him.

He remembered, so well, that night in the cellars. It was as vivid a memory as he had ever had and it wasn't only the mental scars that remained with him. At the side of his neck he still bore a small, pink blemish from where the Punjab lasso had cut into his skin. He touched it then, as they walked, and felt a sharp pain in his soul because although the injury no longer hurt, the memory still did.

He felt Christine reach for his hand, as if she could read his thoughts.

Quite why the Phantom had let them leave together that night, Raoul did not think he would ever understand. For months he had been tormenting them, stealing Christine away, sending threats and blackmailing them. The night it all came to an end, Raoul could sense no difference in the man's demeanour and with the rope around his neck, Raoul had pleaded with Christine to run, to save herself.

If it meant that she would be free then he was prepared to die for it.

The kiss seemed to come from nowhere and was as much of a surprise to Raoul as it appeared to be to the Phantom. The sight of her kissing him was agonising and Raoul had closed his eyes because it was just too much for him to bear. It was in that moment, though, that he developed something of an understanding for the man he knew only as Phantom.

Seeing Christine, the only love he had ever wanted, kissing another man had brought pain, rage and jealousy to Raoul unlike anything he had ever felt before. In that instant, with his eyes closed, he actually imagined how it must have felt for the Phantom to watch Raoul court the woman he too clearly loved.

The squeeze of his hand from Christine's fingers brought him back to the present and when he looked down at her she was staring at him in confusion.

'Are you alright?' she asked, her free hand resting on the door handle to Benoit's bedroom.

He cleared his throat, 'Of course.'

'You went somewhere...'

'I was just thinking,' he smiled and returned the squeeze of her hand. 'Nothing to worry about.'

She stared at him for a moment longer before pushing the door open. Raoul followed her inside and it became immediately obvious that something was not quite right. The window was open and there was a breeze chilling the room as it moved the curtains from side to side. Christine stepped further into the room before turning to him, her face as white as a ghost's.

'He isn't here,' she said, the words catching in her throat.

Raoul's heart began beating wildly in his chest as he struggled to remain calm. He looked around the room, under the bed, in the wardrobe but he knew better.

Benoit was not there.

Christine was almost frantic as she ran to the window and peered down. Raoul followed, balling his hands into fists in an attempt to compose himself, and looked out. Benoit, to his relief, was not lying injured on the ground below but there were flattened leaves and footprints in the mud, showing that whatever had happened this was the way Benoit had left the room.

'He's taken him,' Raoul said and he was surprised at himself. He wasn't usually so quick to jump to conclusions, nor was he usually so sure of anything.

Christine turned and stared at him, 'What do you mean?'

'The Phantom,' Raoul explained. 'You told him we were leaving and so...'

It was only then that he noticed that Christine was shaking her head. 'Benoit has run away all by himself once already this week.'

'You don't think that the phantom is capable of this?' Raoul asked, feeling a little incredulous. He was rarely angry with his wife, he loved her so dearly, but her blindness to her teacher's crimes was difficult for him to swallow.

'He is more than capable of this,' Christine conceded. 'But he didn't do it.'

'How can you be so sure?' Raoul asked, trying to keep his voice even.

'I'm just sure, Raoul,' she said, 'We don't have time for this, we need to find him.'

Although Raoul agreed, it was hard to get the thoughts from his mind and as he followed her out of the room and down the stairs, his stomach churned with dread.

Philippe was in the entrance hall looking up at them. 'I was beginning to wo... What's wrong?'

'Benoit is missing,' Raoul told him, his stomach knotted. 'Get your dagger...'

'Raoul!' Christine interjected.

'What on earth for?' Philippe asked, confused, as he reached to touch Raoul's shoulder.

'Don't question me, just get it,' Raoul said and shrugged Philippe's hand away. 'We will head to the theatre together.'

'He won't be at the theatre,' Christine said, her voice quiet now despite the panic all around her. Raoul glanced at her and realised that the softness was not a sign of her calm, it was the exact opposite. Her eyes were wide, her breathing uneven... hands trembling.

'Why not?' Philippe asked her and if he noticed the quivering in her body he did not show it.

'Because I saw his footsteps in the sand and he wasn't going that way,' she said logically

Raoul stared at her.

'Which is one reason I know that it was not Erik who took him,' she explained. 'There were only Benoit's footprints, I didn't see any others.'

'One reason?'

'This isn't the time Raoul.'

'She's right,' Philippe said, quite oddly the voice of reason in all of the chaos. 'We need to find him.'

'Then we'll follow his footsteps,' Raoul said, trying to think straight.

Christine grabbed his hand and squeezed it firmly. 'Let's go.'

All three of them set off in the same direction, careful to pick out Benoit's footsteps in the sand and not confuse them with anyone else's. Raoul wondered how long Benoit had been gone and felt the icy grip of fear squeeze at his heart. No matter what Christine said, Raoul still worried that the Phantom was involved in this and so had brought his dagger anyway.

He would much rather be safe than sorry.

Erik heard him from quite a distance away but did not turn around until he caught the click of his footsteps on the wooden boards of the pier. The night was bright because the moon was high and the clouds were sparse, so even from a distance Erik could tell that Benoit had been crying. He didn't stand, instead he turned back to face the water, his right foot hanging over the edge and his back resting against the corner post.

'I thought it was you, Monsieur,' Benoit said as he approached.

Erik looked up at him, 'It's late.'

Benoit stared down at his small feet as the shuffled from side to side.

'Where is your mother?' Erik asked.

Benoit shrugged.

'Have you gone mute?'

The boy looked up with a frown and blinked his sore looking eyes. 'No.'

'Then why don't you answer me?'

'I don't want to.'

Erik stood and walked to him, 'Then I will have to take you home.'

'No,' Benoit said, staring up at him, eyes wide.

'Why on earth not?' he asked, his patience thin but not breaking. He kept reminding himself that Benoit was only a child, over and over in his mind, he is just a child.

'They don't want me there,' Benoit replied sadly.

'Have they told you that?' Erik asked because it seemed a logical question to pose given the circumstances.

Benoit shook his head.

'Then how do you know that they don't want you there?' Erik asked.

'They argue.'

Erik raised his eyebrows at the titbit of information. 'And what about their arguing suggests that they don't want you there?'

Benoit shrugged.

Erik softened, 'Adults argue, Benoit.'

'They don't,'

'But they are,' Erik said and, much to his own dismay, then added, 'Arguing is normal.'

'They hate me,' he said with tears in his eyes.

'How could they?'

'Because I don't fit in,' he sobbed.

Erik stared at him for a moment, watching as tears streamed from his blue eyes and his lips trembled with whatever inner anguish he was carrying. He too, knew how it felt to not belong but he could not understand how a boy with such perfect features, such incredible intelligence, could feel out of place.

'Where don't you fit in?'

Benoit blinked, 'Everywhere,'


He shrugged. 'I'm different.'

'Is that such a bad thing?' Erik asked him.

'No-one likes me.'

'I like you.'

'You're different too,' Benoit said. 'It doesn't count.'

'Of course it counts,' Erik insisted.

'I think we're going back to France,' Benoit told him and Erik felt his heart begin to ache again.

'Perhaps it's for the best.'

'I don't want to go.'

'I'm afraid you might have to.'

'But I don't want to,' Benoit said, the sound of tears creeping back into his voice.

Erik was at a loss for what to say next. They both stood on the pier in silence, Benoit let out of the occasionally sigh as the tears began to dry from his face and Erik watched him but neither said anything until Benoit's face suddenly brightened.

'I could stay here,' he said cheerfully.

'Without your parents?' Erik asked.

'With you!'


Benoit smiled. 'I like you, mama likes you...'

'I don't think she will want you to stay here without her Benoit.'

'Then she should stay,' he said, folding his arms across his chest.

'Your mother loves you,' Erik told him. 'She will want you to go with her.'

'Don't you want me to stay?' Benoit asked.

'You hardly know me,' Erik reminded him avoiding the question as best he could because he did want him to stay. He wanted them both to stay more than Benoit could ever understand.

Benoit shrugged, 'At least you like me.'

'Your mother loves you,' he repeated.

'You understand me,' Benoit insisted.

Erik sighed, 'She tries to.'

'Well she doesn't.'

'And what makes you so sure that I do?'

Benoit stared at him, 'You're like me.'

Erik said nothing.

'You're the only one who is,' he said quietly, his bottom lip beginning to tremble again.

Erik took his jacket off and placed it around the boy's shoulders. 'Let me get you home.'

'No, please...'

'Benoit, you are standing here in your pyjamas.'

'Please...' he cried. 'Don't make me leave.'

Suddenly, Erik realised how much it hurt to see him cry. Benoit stood with Erik's jack draped over his shoulders, red eyes with damp, pink cheeks. His small arms hung down by his sides and he simply cried, not because he wanted Erik to listen but because he was in pain. Erik tugged the jacket tighter around his shoulders, scared the boy might catch his death, and looked down at him.

'It will be alright,' Erik told him, touching his small shoulder gently with his fingertips.

Benoit flung himself forward and wrapped his arms around Erik's waist, pressing his face against him and crying into his shirt. Erik immediately froze, not knowing what to do or say. The boy clung to him as if he might be pulled away at any moment and so Erik allowed him to stay there and, momentarily letting instinct to take over, rubbed his back gently.

'I'm sorry Benoit,' Erik whispered. 'Sometimes things aren't as simple as they seem. Give your mother a chance.'

Benoit sniffed. 'I don't want to go.'

'Maybe when you're older you can come back to see me,' Erik said and, without thinking, stroked his hair. 'If you still want to.'

'I can?' Benoit said.

'Of course.'


'I promise,'

Benoit pulled back and ran his pyjama sleeve along his nose. Erik grimaced but it didn't seem to bother Benoit as he stared back up at him.

'When?' Benoit asked.

Erik wondered if children were always so persistent.

'When you're older,' Erik told him.

'How much older?' Benoit asked.

'Whenever you're old enough to travel alone.'

Benoit frowned. 'I do that now.'

'Not with your mother's permission, though, I see,' Erik said.

The boy blushed.

'Are you ready to go home now?' Erik asked, placing his hand on Benoit's shoulder.

'I suppose.'

Erik placed his arm around Benoit's shoulders, offering his support, and they turned to leave the pier together. Never in his life had he dreamed that he would have children; it seemed such a far-fetched idea, given his circumstances. Christine was the only women he had ever loved and so since Paris, it had seemed increasingly unlikely that children would ever grace his life. He had not particularly cared either.

Now, though, with his arm around his son who was pressed into his side for warmth, he felt an affection which he thought he was incapable of. He glanced down at the boy and noticed that his eyelids were looking heavy.

When he looked back up again he was stopped dead in his tracks.


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Immokk

Part 35 of 39

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