A/N-- Sorry it took so long to get this one up. It's a bit shorter, and there's no JL interaction, but I'm hoping it will be worth it. Again, hope Lisa isn't too OOC.Thank you all for your wonderful comments-- they are quite flattering. Oh, and in case anyone is wondering after this chapter, yes I am a classical music fan. And Jackson doesn't know too much about the differences between Verdi and Preisner, as will be explained later,so I swear there areno incongruities. Yet.

Chapter Three

Lisa closed her eyes, allowing herself to slip into the darkness of weariness.

It had been a long day. There had been problems with some reservations that had required her to bend over backwards trying to please some particularly difficult clients. She had dealt with it, all the while never letting the austere professional mask to slip from her face. But repressed anger had built inside of her.

She was becoming more frustrated of late. And she was also becoming more adept at hiding it. It was like all her desires and passions, everything that she thought had died with her spirit, were beginning to rise up. They were throwing off the choke-hold that she had put on them. They were like grasping fingers, forever reaching for something that was out of reach.

She had begun to feel emotions recently. It was extraordinary to her, each new experience causing different thoughts and reactions within. She had shut herself off ever since the rape, had closed out the good with the bad. It was all mingled together, and she knew she was not strong enough to combat the strength of passion.

Her shields were slipping, and it frightened her more than she could ever imagine. Repressed pain was beginning to shine through, as well as other, even more frightening emotions.

Her eyes did not seem to want to stay open. She could almost feel the grease in the amount of makeup that was necessary to cover the dark circles under her eyes. She was working sixteen-hour days, simply to keep her mind occupied.

She opened the door to her bedroom, turning on the light. It was sparse, with only what she needed; a demure bed in the corner, a closet, bookcase and drawers. But it was home.

Slowly, leaning on the door, she removed her black 'heels. Her skirt and shirt were to come next, leaving her clad in lingerie alone. Closing her eyes, she simply paused for a moment.

And her emotional shields dropped. Her shoulders lost the tension they had carried since the morning, her back muscles relaxed, her fingers uncurled and her head drooped. She closed her eyes, and, for a mere moment, she was simply Leese. She was not Lisa Reisert, hotel manager, daughter, victim. She was a human being with emotions all her own, thoughts all her own, contained within herself.

She walked, feet moving without the force of conscious effort. It was mechanical routine that led her now, not decisions. She was so tired... all she wanted was to rest...

She turned on the stereo system that was on top of her dresser. It was black, sleek, elegant. Functional, more than anything. She needed to unwind in the only way she knew how.

A Dies Irae started to play, vindictive and fast-paced, drums swelling with each note. But it was not what she sought, and she wearily pressed the button. Her finger halted, pressed it one, two times.

Preisner's Lacrimosa. Mourning, passion, beauty. And pain. Her hands tightened around themselves, bound to fear. It was when she listened to this song that she was most vulnerable, most exposed.

The music started to swell, starting with strings slowly uprising. Lisa closed her eyes, finally giving herself up.

As the soprano started to sing, thoughts and images passed before her eyes. The music was becoming part of her, was liberating her.

She had been whole, once. She had been unbroken, the fused parts of soul and moments of beauty that comprised a human being. She had been happy, content to serve, joyous at times. She had been her father's daughter, an intelligent young woman who was not afraid.

Regret passed over her, a shadow drifting across a barren landscape. She had been broken, her body torn with her hope. Her dreams had been rendered, and she had remained in darkness, sleeping.

And then she woke. The sun rose, blinding in all its beautiful fury. Something within her gave way, something had changed her irrevocably. She was suddenly drowning in emotions she did not understand, and she did not know how to swim. Life was exploding slowly within her, like primitive man first raising his head to the sky to look at the stars and wonder...

But it was terrible, too terrible to behold. For the wonder was not pure, the beauty did not remain untainted. Dark strains of fear and anger stained them, like a drop of blood on perfect skin. There was something within her that was not beauty, that was not glory. It was instead harsh, bitter. It was pain, and it would not allow her to forget. She had known cruelty, and would not allow herself to trust again.

Longing burned within her. Every thought was treacherous as she imagined steel-blue eyes. She shuddered, dreaming that they pierced her to her core, seeing her. He understood pain; she could see it in him, in the coldness in his eyes. He was like her, and that was cause enough for hatred.

Emotions pulsed within her, gathering at her wrists and neck. She was suddenly hunched over, tears flowing down her cheeks and her neck, getting lost in her hair. Self-revulsion swept over her at feeling all this, at not containing it. She was a grown woman, and despair did not become her.

Shuddering softly as the last distant chords died, sorrow, fear and love draining from her, she stood up stiffly. She allowed a sigh to fall from her lips before brushing her hair from her face. She turned off the stereo. Lisa then opened her closet doors, a mask secured on her face once more as she looked for a robe. Emotions were safe inside the music that she had turned off. She was once again a professional, an actress.

A voice came from the doorway. It was sandpaper-rough, but she recognized it regardless. There was the same harsh coldness behind it, the same bitter inflections. It haunted her, and for a moment she felt Heaven and Hell colliding to form Earth. Emotion in her swelled, and her shields were ripped aside brutally.

"Never thought you would be one for Verdi."