By CarolROI

"No dreams within her heart but dreams of joy...."

Christine crossed the Don Juan set to stage right and took a seat on the step. Plucking a rose from the basket she carried, she was pricked by a thorn. The sharp pain and the tiny spot of blood that appeared on her fingertip reminded her that she was no longer in her Angel's carefully orchestrated world where all roses bore no thorns. Raoul thought to control the opera house now, but what did it say of him that in his world roses carried weapons?

"Passarino, go away for the trap is set and waits for its prey...."

Christine's blood turned to ice. Erik! What was he doing here? Hadn't he gotten her message? Madame Giry had sworn she delivered it directly into his hands. He had to know the performance of his opera was a trap; the gendarmes presence was hardly subtle. Rising, she turned toward him, pleading with him silently to flee.

He put a finger to his lips and tilted his head. What? He thought she would give him away? It was all she could do not to scream "Run!" What was he playing at? He could be killed! Then his hand was at her throat and his warm breath in her ear. In horror, Christine realized he didn't care about the danger. He was willing to die to touch her like this, to say these words to her, to hear her sing of passion to him. Oh, Erik...she thought then it was her turn to sing.

She watched Erik's gaze flick to Box Five, and she lowered her eyelids, peeking out through her lashes to see Raoul's reaction. He was gesturing to the policeman in his box, motioning him forward. Christine caught the Vicomte's gaze and shook her head, praying that he would not give the command to have Erik shot. It was only when she saw him make a downward motion with his hand, and the police in both his box and the managers moved back, that she turned toward Erik and began her approach to the stairs.

They climbed their spiral staircases in unison, their attention never wavering from each other. As they reached the catwalk stretching between the two stairways, Erik tossed his cape with a flourish over the railing, and Christine shivered. He moved toward her like a cat, his eyes locked with hers. They met in the center of the bridge, singing the last lines of the song in unison as he spun her around and pulled her against him. His hands were on top of hers as she caressed herself, her fingers gliding over her hips and belly, across her breasts to her throat.

"...The bridge is crossed, so stand and watch it burn...we've passed the point of no return..." she sang with him, her voice trembling as the last note faded away. She leaned her head back against his shoulder, her eyes closed, completely immersed in the feel of his strong body pressed against hers. His fingers stroked her neck, the curve of her shoulder, his cheek against her hair.

This is how it should be, her heart cried as he sang very softly to her. Listen to him, he needs you, only you can save him, Christine, only you. He loves you enough to die for you. Her eyes snapped open at that thought, and she turned to face him as he clasped her hand with both of his.

"...Anywhere you go, let me go, too, Christine, that's all I ask of you!"

The theater faded away as she looked into his eyes so full of love and hope. She laid her hand against his cheek and he turned his head into her caress, lips brushing her palm before he looked back at her. Raising up on her toes, Christine touched her mouth to his in a tender kiss. She felt his surprise in the way his lips trembled against hers, but then he kissed back gently. It only lasted a few seconds, but the sensations that kiss sent racing through Christine left her dizzy.

She gazed up at him, seeing her look of wonder mirrored in his eyes. "I love you," she said in a hushed voice.

The sharp crack of thunder shattered the moment and Erik's look of amazement turned to confusion. His grip on her hand tightened painfully at the same instant that Christine felt like someone had punched her in the chest. His free hand grabbed her shoulder as he began to fall, a crimson stain spreading across his shirt front. "Erik!" she screamed, her lungs burning. She tried to hold him up, her arm wrapping around his waist.

All her strength seemed to leave her, though, and he dragged her down to kneel beside him as he sprawled on the catwalk. "Christine...Christine, I love you," he whispered.

She looked down at the blood on his chest, a sob rising in her throat. "No, no, don't leave me. You can't leave me," she moaned, her fingers fumbling with his mask before finally ripping it away. She kissed his brow and the reddened, scarred flesh of his cheek. ""

He reached up to her, his hand falling short of her face, his fingers brushing over her collarbone. They came away red. Tears filled his eyes. "Oh, Christine...I'm sorry....."

Christine suddenly became aware of the fire in her chest and the next breath she took felt labored and wet. She bent over him, her lips next to his ear. "You wait for me, Erik. I'll be right behind you. Promise me you'll wait for me..."

His fingertips grazed her jaw as she stared into his face. "I will wait...Christine...but somehow, I do not think we will end up in the same place. I am not an…angel like you…I will--I will love you...always...." His hand fell away as the light faded from his jade eyes.

She buried her face in his shoulder, sobbing as she rocked him in her arms. Her hand brushed against something solid at the small of his back. She pulled it free of his clothing and stared at it for a moment, wondering why Erik would need a knife, before hiding it in the folds of her skirt.

The sound of shouts and pounding feet finally reached her, and Christine looked up from her fallen Angel to see Raoul stepping onto the catwalk, the familiar face of the opera house physician behind him. She tried to take a deep breath, but ended up coughing, the coppery taste of blood filling her mouth.

"Christine!" It was Raoul calling to her. She knew he would stop at nothing to keep her from joining Erik.

She kissed her Angel one last time then pulled his blade from beneath her skirt. Wrapping both hands around the hilt, she carefully positioned the tip just below her left breast and shoved upward.
Collapsing across Erik's chest, Christine felt peace. Sounds were muffled and far away, colors running like fresh dye in the rain. She blinked once, twice, then darkness surrounded her.

She floated in a sea of black, feeling nothing, no pain, no fear, only joy, only love. A voice in the distance called to her, her Angel's voice. It urged her to come to him, to her Angel of Music. She opened her eyes to find him standing on the banks of a river, his arms outstretched. Gladly, Christine fell into them, and as his lips met hers in the gentlest of kisses, she knew she had found her way home.

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