This is just kind of a short story I thought up...not nearly as long as my first fic. It takes place right before the Don Juan performance and is based off the play and movie. Christine attempts to run away for a while...not wanting to betray her Angel or become his prisoner. As this sets into motion a chain of events, who will find Christine first? Aaah...I originally was going to have the audience decide the pairing, but I can't bring myself to write anything but E/C. Sorry R/C fans!

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters in this fic. They belong to Gaston Leroux and some of the themes belong to Andrew Lloyd Webber.

From the moment she stepped into the swirling arctic air, Christine Daae wondered if she was making a terrible mistake. The chill of winter seeped ruthlessly into the folds of her dress, freezing her pale skin. A new snow had begun to fall from the sky, adding to the thick layer that had already accumulated upon the ground. Still, Christine continued to trudge forward, her heels digging into the white powder as she desperately made her way down the empty Parisian street, away from the Opera House...away from the decision that she was being forced to make that night...the decision and its consequences.

Every so often her foot lost friction, causing her to slide and sway on the ice. Holding her arms out for balance, Christine continued to move forward, searching for a carriage whose driver was insane enough to be working on such an evening. For a moment, she thought there were none, and she frantically wondered if she would have to keep walking through this horrible weather until she found sanctuary. Finally, though, she spotted a carriage in the distance, its horses stopping to lap up the melted snow and the driver rubbing his gloved hands together quickly as he tried to warm himself. "Monsieur!" cried Christine, waving her hand in the air in an attempt to catch his attention. The swirling wind carried away her tiny voice, though, making it impossible for him to hear her. "Monsieur!"

The elderly driver looked up just in time to see the young woman lose all balance and slide to a heap of skirts upon the ground. With a grunt, he got up from the warmth of his carriage seat and ran to where she had fallen, the snow crunching beneath his boots. They appeared to be the only two souls out there at the moment.

"Are you injured, Mademoiselle?" he called rushing over to her hunched form. She looked up at him through her soaked brown curls with small tears flowing down her flushed cheeks, her mouth grimaced in pain. Slowly, she brought the throbbing ankle up to her eyes for closer inspection and saw that it was beginning to swell to a dull bluish color. Her head began to spin slightly with the pain, and she blindly grasped on to the shoulder of the driver for support.

"Good heavens!" he exclaimed, frowning down at the injury. "You need to get to a doctor, quickly, Mademoiselle. Is there someone nearby who could help you? A family member, perhaps?" Still clutching her ankle, she fought unconsciousness and hesitated. Of course there were plenty of people nearby that she knew-all of them thinking that she was safely preparing for the ill-fated opera within her dressing room. Revealing that to the driver, however, would mean returning to the nightmare...of facing everything...of talking to Raoul...of seeing him again. She could no longer perform the accursed opera with her ankle in such a condition, but she would still be forced to return to the madness that had consumed her life for the past year. With a deep breath, she looked up into the kindly grey eyes of the driver.

"No, Monsieur. I know no one here. I am alone."

He shook his head with a sigh and looked around at the blanketed landscape. "Well, Mademoiselle, I shall try to get you to the nearest doctor. This weather is going to slow us down quite a bit, I am afraid." He lifted his cap and scratched his balding head before offering his arm to help her up from the frozen ground. Gratefully she took it, placing her arm around his shoulder as she hobbled through the snow and into the shelter of the covered carriage. Settling down into the plush red seat, she took one last glance at the looming Paris Opera House and let out a soft sigh of relief. The burning pain in her ankle subsided some, and she was able to drift off for a moment.

"Are you comfortable, Mademoiselle?" asked the driver, turning back to her with a sad smile. "We should be there in about an hour if we are lucky."

"Yes," she replied softy. "I am comfortable, Monsieur. Thank you for everything." He nodded his head and steered the horses out, finding his way through the torrent of snowflakes as best as he could.

As the evening approached and the sky darkened, the Vicomte nervously pace back and forth in the empty hallway, impatiently waiting for Christine to come out in costume so that he could escort her to the stage. At his side, he kept a loaded rifle in case the Phantom made an earlier appearance than was expected. Looking at his pocket watch, he wondered what was taking her so long, a feeling of dread beginning to overtake him.

Several hours earlier, Christine had abandoned his side, saying that she wished to be alone for a brief moment. Her eyes had been darkly shadowed, and she had a slightly queasy expression on her face. He had reluctantly allowed her to go. "Well, it is no wonder that she is beginning to look ill," thought the Vicomte bitterly. "With that mad man on the loose, it is a miracle she can function at all." At least after tonight, the Phantom would be caught. After tonight, he and Christine would be able to live life peacefully together without a dark shadow constantly following them, its golden eyes glowing at them menacingly in the dark. The thought gave Raoul some reassurance.

"Christine!" he finally called out softly. "Are you almost ready? The opera begins in twenty minutes." The only response he got was the swift gust of wind against the roof. "Christine?" Slowly he made his way to the door and twisted the handle. To his dismay, he found it to be securely locked. A rush of fear ran through him, as he desperately jiggled the silver knob. "Christine!" he yelled loudly. "Open the door, please!" Still, there was no response. Raoul raised his broad shoulder and pushed it into the wooden door, trying with all his might to force it open. Realizing that the movement was futile against the structure, he backed up. What if he had taken her already? He had to get a key!

Taking off down the hall in a mad scramble, the Vicomte ran to the office of the managers and pounded on the door, sending an echo throughout the corridor. "Monsieur Firmin! Monsieur Andre! Are you in there? It is Raoul de Chagny!"

"Yes?" came the irritated voice of Andre. "Come in." The Vicomte threw open the door in a swift motion and rushed in panting, his face white. "What on earth is the matter? Is Christine ready to perform?"

It took the Vicomte a second to get the words out. "I do not know where she is. She is missing! I need a key to her room. Quickly!"

Andre's mouth fell agape, and his eyes widened. "What do you mean she is not there? We have an entire audience, not to mention armed forces, awaiting her performance tonight. She has to be there!" The manager got up and nervously began to pace back and forth, trying to clear his head. "The only one who has the keys to those rooms is Madame Giry. You shall have to ask her. I shall go try to delay the opera for a while." He cursed under his breath and flew out of the room, leaving the Vicomte alone to find the ballet instructor for himself.

"Madame Giry!" the Vicomte cried rushing down the hall. "Madame Giry!" With utmost relief, he saw her step out of one of the rooms on his right and glance up curiously at him, a deep sadness in her eyes.

"Yes, Monsieur?"

"Christine is gone!" he exclaimed. "Her door is locked, and there is no sound from within her room. Good God! Do you think he has taken her?"

Madame Giry pursed her lips in distressed thought for a moment. It would not be like him to stage his entire opera only to take Christine before it even began. From what she had witnessed over the years, he was a man of carefully crafted plans. But...he had also become so completely mad these last few months with his love for the girl that she did not know what he was capable of. Perhaps he had taken Christine that night. "I do not know, Monsieur." She shook her head. "But let us open the door to her room." Taking the mass of jingling keys from the wall, they ran back to the dressing room and unlocked the door. As they swung it open, they saw that the room was indeed empty, a slight draft softly rustling the silk curtains. Christine was gone.

"Damn!" cursed Raoul, running his hands frantically through his blonde hair. "He must have gotten to her somehow! There is no other explanation." From the distance, he could hear the audience begin to grumble loudly over the delay of the opera as the managers attempted to keep the peace. "Madame Giry, do you know where they are? must tell me. Christine's life could be in danger."

Madame Giry sighed, knowing she was possibly sealing the fate of the Phantom with the revelation. Yet if he had kidnaped Christine, she could not stand by as the young girl's life was destroyed. "Yes, I know, Monsieur. I shall take you part of the way."