Disclaimer: I will never own Erik, and that is fact, no matter how much I want that fact to be false.

Backstage Kisses

Chapter Thirteen

Normal Life

"Extra! Extra! Read all'a 'bout it! Hostage Murderer strikes again! Read all'a 'bout it!"

It was almost six months since Alexial arrived in Paris, and life went on as usual. New Opera's came in swiftly, and the stagehand adapted quickly to the switching of various sets an colored lights for each and every opera. Today was a bright, Sunday afternoon in the middle of October, and Alexial had run out into the street after church to buy a newspaper for she and Meg.

"One franc, please," the paperboy slurred. The Romanian happily obliged, snatched up the bundle of papers, and sprinted back to the Opera Populair.

"Meg! Madame Giry!" she called, bursting through the dormitory door. "Where are you?" The two Girys, as well as many concerned ballet girls, rushed over.

"What's wrong Alexial?" Meg asked.

"Listen to this." The stagehand flipped open the newspaper to the main headline. "Late last night, the Hostage Murderer locked himself and an eight year old girl in a local doll shop. He took all the money in the safe as ransom, but not before shooting the girl in the head and running off. Family members are extremely distraught over the girl's death, the girl being Miss Claudia Seraphim. Police still have no solid leads as to who has been committing this heinous string of crimes." The entire group fell silent for a few moments.

"That poor little girl," cried one dancer.

"She was so young!" sobbed another. The rest of the ballet dancers shuffled away, leaving Alexial with the Girys.

"I hope they catch this monster soon," said Madame Giry.

"So do I," replied her daughter as the Romanian skimmed the article again.

"How can they not have a lead?" she queried angrily. "He's struck, God knows how may times before."

"Yeah, but you can't catch everyone," Meg pointed out. "Scotland Yard hasn't caught Jack the Ripper."

"True." Alexial set the newspaper down before heading out with the others.

"Do you want this?" the ballet dancer asked, glancing a the discarded paper. "It's an awful waste."

"Erik probably would like to read it. Besides, we made a deal: he gets my old newspaper, I get the books he doesn't want."

The Phantom sat at his organ, Alexial's old newspaper spread out over the keys along with a few scrapped pieces of music. Nadir looked over his companions shoulder, reading the headline and sighing.

"The damned murderer struck again," Erik muttered bitterly.

"Yes," the Daroga said, "it's quite tedious that the police have not caught him either. The whole city is on edge."

"It could be anyone, for he covers his face." Erik suddenly turned around, looking Nadir straight in the eye. "I'll have you know this is none of my doing."

"I know, Erik, I know."

"Good." He leaned down, elbows resting on his thighs and his chin on his laced fingers, eyes glittering in thought.

"You're thinking about someone," Nadir stated, smiling. "I can tell."

"The foreign girl," he said quietly. "If she is murdered, it causes problems for many people."

"You are worried about her!"

"I am not!"

"Of course you're not, Erik," the Persian laughed before leaving the lair as the Phantom ground his teeth and cleared away the paper.

"This is insanity," he whispered, then pounded furiously on the organ keys.

No, there is no Hostage Murderer, but Jack the Ripper was a real person. Also, it's just a paper headline. The Hostage Murderer won't play any major part in the story. Please review, but no flames. Thank you very much!