Escrita por: LinoLinadoon
Christine opened her eyes and felt her whole body jolt at the sound of a loud yell. It was shrill, filled with anger and sadness and despair. She wondered how someone could make such a sound. And the worst thing was, she knew who that someone was, who that voice belonged to.
She put herself in a sitting position, mind still a bit hazy, and looked around to access her surroundings. She was sitting on a wrinkled dark cloth, an open basket laid forgotten beside her, plates and an unopened bottle scattered about.
The picnic. She was still on the same spot, in the middle of Erik’s “dreamery”, as he had called it…
Oh, Erik… Her dear Maestro…
A shiver ran down Christine’s body and she forced her eyes closed, as if doing so helped her hide from that image. But it was already ingrained on the back of her eyes, like a photo marked on paper.
Erik’s face. If she could even call it that.
Seeing him without a mask had been so terrifying, shocking…
But now, the more she thought of that face, the less Christine worried about the deformation. And all she truly remembered was how those eyes shined…
They were filled with fear, and worry, and sadness… And maybe just a small hint of hope, of desire of acceptance… And she remembered what Carriere had told her, about how the only person who looked at him and accepted his face as it was, was Erik’s own mother.
Christine felt tears sting her own eyes and she felt angry at herself, she wanted to yell at herself for such reaction, for the way that she had given him a spark of hope, only to wipe it away with no mercy. Just like Carriere begged her not to do…
No, it wasn’t her fault. She wasn’t ready…
But Erik didn’t deserve that, the pain and the sadness of being rejected once more, rejected by the one he loved. Even if she hasn’t said a word, her silent reaction was enough for him.
But it didn’t reflect what she felt or what she thought! She had been a fool for believing, at the time, she was ready. But now, after seeing the truth, Christine knew that she wasn’t scared, she wasn’t disgusted, she wasn’t horrified.
And she needed to show him that…
Christine jumped when hearing the sound of crashing and splashing.
She quickly got up, holding the dress to run faster and kicked her shoes off as well. She didn’t mind the cool ground, she would never mind it, especially at a moment like that.
“Erik!” She cried out, but her voice sounded timid and weak, muffled by the loud chaos the man was causing. “Erik!”
Christine arrived at what he called home, almost tripping over her own feet. She watched as the once calm and collected man went rampage on his own domain. She didn’t know if she described him as a wild beast or a child throwing a tantrum. Somehow, both seemed to fit.
He threw his flags into the lake, he rolled over a golden chair, he kicked and kicked painted backdrop walls...
And Christine felt her body go stiff, frozen by… By what? Fear? Sadness? Horror? She wasn’t sure. But her chest ached, it hurt, and her heart cried as she watched Erik destroy everything he had created.
It took him a while, but he noticed she was there.
He was wearing a mask again, a different one this time. It was black, like a shadow that had fallen over his face. But Christine could still see his eyes… Which now sparkled with a burning fire she had not seen before – not even as he dragged her to the underground, far from the crowd's screams of terror as the chandelier crashed into the ground.
Christine felt tiny under his stare, but she stood there, holding back the urge to run and hide.
“Christine…” Erik finally broke the silence. His voice sounded weak, as if the screaming had worn it out. Christine didn’t know for how long she had been unconscious, nor how long he had been destroying the world he had created, piece by piece.
He took a few steps closer and Christine felt her body want to move. She stood still.
His steps were silent but fast and, in no time, he had reached her.
“What are you doing? Did you come to run away from me?” Erik asked, accusingly.
Those words cut her like a knife and she felt the sting of tears in her eyes again.
“No… Maestro…” She found her voice at last, but it still sounded weak, almost timid. And for a moment she felt his name disappear from her tongue, as if it was afraid of coming out.
“I can’t let you leave, Christine!” He raised his voice. “It’s not happening!”
And before the singer could react, she was grabbed by the arm, yanked towards the destroyed cavern. She almost tripped while trying to keep up with his steps, she tried to pull back, to fight against his hold, but Erik was strong.
“Erik, wait--!” She tried talking again.
“You’ve seen my face!” Erik cried out, pulling her toward something she hasn't seen before. A cage. “No one who sees my face can leave this place! I thought everyone knew that!”
“No, please, listen to me!” Christine pleaded as Erik opened the door to the cage with one hand. “I’m sorry!”
“Yeah, sure!” He grabbed her with both hands and pushed her towards the small cubicle prison. “Stop fighting back, Christine! Just--”
“No! I won’t! I won’t run away from you!” Christine tried fighting, feeling petite and delicate under his hold. “Please… I beg you…!” In the middle of her struggle, Christine found herself on the floor, with a soft pain growing on her hip. “Erik! STOP!”
And he stopped.
There was silence.
The soft trickle of water on the lake was the only sound around.
Erik stared at her, and she stared back at him from the floor, both breathing hard, both disheveled, both shaken to the core.
For a moment, in the dim lighting of his cave, Christine could see Erik’s eyes again. And they shined. They shined with despair, anger… Sadness… Hopelessness… And it hurt her, it pained her… Especially when she remembered she was the cause of it.
She felt the need of speaking, but her own voice betrayed her and no word came out.
“Christine…” Erik was the one who broke the silence. His voice was different, back to it’s calmer tone, but it still lacked it’s warmth. He took a few tentative steps closer, kneeling down on the floor, keeping a distance between them. “I’m sorry… Did I hurt you?”
“No…” Christine answered simply. Her side ached a little, but she could bear the pain.
Erik sighed, taking in a deep and broken breath.
“I’m sorry, Christine…” He said. “I apologize for doing that to you, but I can’t let you leave…”
“I don’t want to leave.” Christine found her voice and her resolve once again.
Erik stared at her, shaking his head. And she understood that he didn’t believe her, that he didn’t see why she would want to stay after what happened, before and after her fainting.
It hurt her, but she understood.
“Erik… I am not afraid of you…” Christine said, moving to be in a kneeling position, like him.
“Your screams said otherwise…” He said.
Christine took in a shaky breath, acting as if he had said nothing.
“Erik… I am not disgusted by you…”
“You…” Erik’s voice was cut by a sob, and Christine felt her heart break. “You fainted, Christine. Don’t try telling me you were not disgusted by the sight of my face. Don’t lie to me.”
“Erik, I love you.”
Erik raised wide eyes to her. They shined again. But this time it was a bit hard to understand what made them shine.
The words echoed inside her own head. She had said those words to others before. She had said them to Philippe, but never before had those words held that special meaning; one that was meant for Erik alone at that moment.
Said man seemed to be processing the words just as hard as she was.
“Christine, you don’t need to do this…” Erik shook his head. “You don’t need to lie to me… I do not need your pity.”
“I’m not lying.” Christine said and she moved to get closer to him, ignoring how uncomfortable it was and how dirty would end up. Erik didn't move, he simply stood there. “And I am not saying this out of pity.”
Erik kept his eyes focused on his hands, resting over his legs. Christine crawled closer, studying him with her eyes. He looked broken, his hair was messy and unbrushed, his shirt was slightly opened and dirty on the sleeves. He looked like a far cry from the well dressed and collected man she had seen before.
Christine knew that Erik’s life had never been flowers and sunshine, and for the first time she was seeing the true broken man that was behind that sweet façade of the maestro she once met. And, as much as it hurt her to see him like that, she couldn’t help but still love him, because this was a part of him, just like his face was…
She did pity him, anyone would, but any hint of guilt that reached her, quickly turned into warmth and desire to show him what the world had not shown till then.
“I fell in love with your soul, with your heart…” Christine said, sad as he continued avoiding her eyes. “With the voice of the Maestro who has taught me all I know…” She reached for his face and he flinched away from her touch. But she wasn’t deterred by it, resting a hand on his covered cheek. She almost smiled when feeling him lean carefully into her touch. “With those eyes…”
He finally looked at her, his shinny eyes finding hers. And there was so much behind them, so much Christine still didn’t know or understand.
“Your face…” She said. “It’s just the face of the man I love.”
Erik opened his mouth as if to say something, but no word came out. Christine understood that there was too much going through his head. The same was happening to her.
She reached for the mask and he flinched, leaning away. His eyes held fear and sadness, nervousness maybe. She smiled at him, wanting to banish those feelings. She didn’t want Erik to suffer anymore.
Erik froze underneath her as she rested both hands on his covered cheeks, so she was the one forced to move. Leaning closer, putting herself on her tip toes, she pressed her lips against his. They were warm and chapped and didn’t move as she kissed him.
She pulled away after a few seconds, and she felt his sigh against her lips. She opened her eyes, seeing tears pooling under those beautiful hidden eyes.
“Crying with a mask on… It mustn’t be comfortable…”
“It… It is not…” Erik shook his head, feeling the girl’s pale fingers against the only fair patch of skin on his face. “Christine, no...”
“Let me see it again.” Christine said, her voice soft, but still showing that she was not going to relent. “Let me show you… That I am not afraid of your face, Erik.”
He studied her with his eyes, as if searching for a way of running from her, both literally and metaphorically speaking. But Christine stood still, a hand resting on his cheek.
Erik sighed. He reached for the mask and Christine pulled her hand away, watching his slow and deliberated movements. He grabbed his black mask and removed it, dropping it to the ground.
Christine blinked once or twice, noticing that she still wasn’t seeing his real face, but another mask – the cream colored one that he wore when they were together. She wondered why he did such thing, hiding his face under multiple layers of masks. As if one mask wasn't enough for him, to hide his face from the world...
She rested her hands on the sides of the mask, her fingers poking the holes where the strings that wrapped around his head were tied. And before she could try to reach and untie them, Erik rested his hands over hers, hesitant and afraid. She stopped and waited.
He reached behind his head and untied his mask, much in the same way he had done before, but this time it was Christine who held the mask in place. Then he lowered his hands, allowing her to do the rest, trusting his fear and doubts on her hands. She felt at the same time flattered and unworthy, due to her first reaction.
Erik once again was exposing himself to her and, this time, she wanted to show him that he could trust her.
Christine took the mask away from his face…
A soft sigh escaped her as she found herself once again staring at Erik’s real face. It looked just as she remembered it.
There was no nose, just a large gaping hole in it’s place; the skin, had a different, weird texture and color, twisted around itself like it had solidified while melting; and his eyes… Those beautiful shinny eyes, sunken in deep inside his skull, showing that the darkness around them was not make up as she believed it to be, but natural and a part of him.
Those eyes, Christine noticed, watched her intently, as if trying to understand what was going through her mind.
She smiled back at him, felling even sillier for her previous reaction.
She let the mask drop to the floor, being forgotten together with the other one. And raised a hand slowly, finally making contact with the parts of his face that for so long had been a mystery.
Erik shook under her touch and closed his eyes, as she laid her hands over the twists and turns of his deformed flesh, feeling it’s weird texture under her digits with a soft caress. He didn’t move, allowing Christine to touch his face, from the sunken eyes and prominent brow, to the hole he had for a nose.
She watched as he opened his eyes, staring at her. And Christine loved those eyes so much. She could see so much shinning on them, as crystalline tears ran down his face. She wiped the tears away and Erik sighed.
Christine lifted herself a little while still keeping the kneeling position, and pressed a soft kiss on Erik’s forehead. Erik let out a sob, leaning against the touch of her lips. Christine pulled away after a few seconds, feeling out of breath as she let out a sob of her own. She wrapped her arms around Erik’s shoulders and pulled him close, pressing his head against her chest and keeping him there.
She felt Erik’s tears against her skin as he cried in her embrace, and she closed her eyes tightly when his hands reached for her. She could feel how careful they were, hesitant, almost scared to touch. Christine remembered she had hugged Erik once, after lying to him about spending time with Philippe. He didn’t hug her back, he stayed there, somewhat startled until she let go.
But now he was clinging to her as if his life depended on their embrace. And she allowed him to do so. She would allow him to do it forever if he so pleased.
Christine didn’t know what was going to happen next. With the chandelier fallen, with her being kidnapped by the Phantom… She knew people would search for her, she knew Philippe would search for her – her good friend Philippe…
She didn’t know if they would have peace for long, or if the chaos that reigned above would come after them, but for now… Christine was happy to just hold Erik on her arms, running her hands through his hair and showing him affection he hadn’t been shown in a long, long time…
And honestly, she wouldn’t mind staying like this forever.