Disclaimer: I own nothing in this story except for the characters of Rose and Caity. The prominent newsie characters, such as Kid Blink, Jack Kelly & Medda, are copyrighted to Disney, while the story is loosely based on Gaston Leroux's novel, The Phantom of the Opera.

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POINT OF NO RETURN

Love. Lies. Murder.
Nothing more than a tragic tale of a disfigured newsboy, a wealthy young man and the vaudeville star they both loved.

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Chapter Four
the Phantom of the Opera

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He was shaking, he noticed, as he finished the last line of the song, alone. His Rose was not more than a few feet away from him and, if he wanted to, he could reach out and caress her tender flesh. But he wouldn't. He had to wait.

The opportunity would soon be at hand.

He tightened his grip on the damp rag. With that he would ensure Rose's arrival to his hidden away home, high up in the Irving Hall attic.

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Rose was shaking, she noticed, as she heard that eerily beautiful, and undeniably male, voice sing the last line of 'All days are the same without love'. She found that she was earnestly staring at the darkness, her hazel eyes searching through the gaping hole that had, only moments ago, been her reflection. At that moment, she did not wonder where the mirror's glass had disappeared to; did not wonder to whom the magical voice belonged. All that mattered to Rose was finding the voice and listening to it sing again.

She just knew that, whoever it was, he was out there. The owner of that voice must have used some sort of angel magic – for a voice that pure could only belong to an angel – to remove the mirror and gain entry to her room. The idea was not frightening to the girl. It was exhilarating.

So, despite being dressed in only a white nightdress, despite the sensible part of her brain that called for her to ignore temptation and just climb back into her bed, Rose began to shuffle towards the rather large hole. She made no sound apart from a feverish and quickened breathing pace as she approached her vanity.

A slender hand reached through the gaping hole first. It was met by a much larger hand, gloved and, therefore, veiled from her. A silent shudder erupted at the touch. Any sense she had earlier had gone; she needed to know who was on the other side.

In even her clouded state – her mind clouded, taken in and turned off by the angel's performance; for, who else, but an angel, could release her mind through song? – Rose retained a bit of understanding; but only just a bit. She knew that, in order to find her angel, she needed to climb inside the hole of the one-time mirrored vanity.

Using the stool that sat at the front of the vanity, Rose climbed up. She knelt, not fully putting her weight on the top of the dresser, and her nightdress rode up, revealing a rather large part of flesh. A faint groan came from the darkness. The sound propelled Rose onward.

Again, Rose trusted to put her hands through the hole first. She had never thought to what was hidden behind her room. That vanity had been there since before she came to live with Medda; it had never moved and a large hole cut into the wall had never before been found forr there was no reason to look for it. If she wasn't so fixated at that moment, she might have thought about that. But fixated she was, rather than afraid. And she continued.

The hidden man – angel – grabbed onto Rose's hands as she began to climb through the vanity and into the dark hallway that lay between rooms. His grip was tight about her wrists and traveled with every inch that slipped from the world she knew to the world that beckoned her beyond.

After her head and torso emerged, his hands found their way to her waist. It was trim and she was light; he was able to lift the rest of her through the vanity quite easily.

It was much darker than she had expected. Whoever it was that was hidden in the shadow preferred to remain hidden; her angel did not have a lamp or candle to light his way. It struck her as odd, much odder than the missing mirror and the angelic vocalist.

She squinted, trying to get a look at the man who, now, stood before her, his hands lingering on her waist; a sick certainty inside Rose told her this was a man. It must be – no angel would have hands that shook as nimble fingers caressed her flesh through the simple fabric of a nightdress.

Rose tensed. He was breathing harder now and the sound seemed to wake her up, bring her sense back. She had followed a voice through a hole in the wall and was now face to face with a man. No. Not face to face – she could not see his face.

Why can't I see his face?

Her hand, almost of its own accord, gently lifted to touch his face. She need to reassure herself; needed to know that this was a man in front of her. He couldn't be an angel, she was sure. That didn't mean it wasn't a demon.

He was too quick for her, though. When her hand began to raise, he backed away and she thought he might have ducked downward. It was hard to tell; he was dressed in dark clothes, with dark gloves extending the lengths of his arm. The only sight she could see was a light blocky texture where his face should be, with dark holes where he would have eyes – if he were, indeed, a man and not a demon.

He moved and Rose began to feel fear. Finally, the magic of his voice seemed to fade and she grew nervous. The walls were thin and, should she scream, there was a good chance that Medda would hear her.

If Medda was even in.

But, before she could scream, or reach for the man – or demon – again, he was back in front of her. Or was he behind her? It was hard for to her to tell anything in such darkness.

He was behind her. He lifted his arm and, before she could do anything about it, pressed something to her face, covering both her nose and open mouth. It was a piece of cloth but it was wet, soaked even. It had a strong and strange smell to it, whatever it was that dampened the cloth.

She only had a few moments to ponder the rag's contents before it took effect on her. She did not lose consciousness but her legs no longer seemed to work just then. Though she would have given anything to remain standing, she felt herself slump to the dirt floor.

Her legs were the first to fail her; her mind went next. There seemed to be fog surrounding her and, for the life of her, Rose could not remember what she was doing. Or where she was. The last thing she remembered was blowing out a candle and slipping into bed. Was she, perhaps, dreaming?

I'm dreaming. I'm in bed, asleep, and I'm dreaming.

However, when the mirror slid gently in place a few moments later, the reflection showed a room, illuminated by a single dancing flame. Rose was no longer inside. Her bed was empty.

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Rose was not asleep. To be honest, her eyes were not even fully closed when he returned his attention back to the maiden. After breathing in the strange smelling liquid that had drenched his rag, she was light-headed and found herself unable to stand.

As she slumped against the wall, her silky nightdress snagging on the rough texture, she heard his movements. He had lifted something – it was heavy by the grunt the masked man emitted – and a sliding sound followed before she felt a coarse hand reach for her naked arm.

His aim was to help her to her feet but, as hard as she tried, she was unable to do more than bend her knees. He said nothing.

Instead, he bent down and, still without a word, he lifted her into his arms. Rose knew that something was wrong – but what? Everything was so hazy, so dark. And the man – man? – was so strong.

Rose laid her head against his shoulder, shrouded in a material so dark that she seemed to be resting against nothingness. Her light brown curls fell forward, loose and free. She thought the man's second hand reached up and fondled a stray curl but she wasn't sure. She wasn't sure of anything.

He made not a sound as he carried her through the darkness and, vaguely, that struck her as odd as well. He was so quiet. Quiet as a moose. No, that's not right. Mouse. Quiet as a mouse. Then she laughed. It was a queer sound, and she would have been mortified that such a squeal passed her lips – if only she was in her right state of mind.

The sound reverberated against the narrow hallway and the men finally spoke. "Hush," he murmured, his voice low and deep, gruff and hoarse. It was quite different from that angelic sound that she heard before but she did not care.

She didn't care about anything anymore. She was dreaming after all.

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The masked man – for he is a man, as much as he denies the fact – smiled and nuzzled his neck against her fine hair. It had fallen loose when she lay in bed and he was glad; he always preferred the feel of a woman's hair, unrestricted and free.

The ether had done it's job remarkably. He had poured the anesthetic on a clean rag before holding it over his beloved's mouth; he had shaken at the close contact but he knew that the ruse was necessary. Rose would never come to his home of her own free will. He had to make her love him.

And I will.

As he looked at the petite girl he was carrying in his arms, he smiled, the expression hidden by the plaster mask.

I will.

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Author's Note: I was stuck on this chapter. I needed to make it realistic – or as realistic as I could make it – while still remaining the 'Phantom'-like feel to it. I hope I succeeded. Also, in case I confused anyone, I was looking at this story the other day and it confused me, having the main character named Jessa. As Jessa is the real name of my OC, Stress, I decided to change the name of this character. So Rose is Jessa. I already went back and changed it in the earlier chapters.