This piece is for readers of "Of Threnodies and Roses." It's the night that Erik and Christine first met...but it's from Erik's point of view. If you want to see Christine's counterpoint again, it starts at the end of chapter 4 and goes into the beginning of chapter 5.

First, Erik is not a nice guy in this. One reason I wrote it was to show that there has been a change since he met Christine. Can she be his salvation? Or is she his downfall? I also wrote it because some of you like to see Erik's POV.

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"This way, sir?"

"No. Left."

As the black vehicle sharply swerved onto a side road, blending perfectly with its shadowed surroundings, he mused over his luck. The days had become much shorter, and the darkness had come early. The moon was obscured that night by a thin layer of clouds, and the air was unseasonably frigid, even for autumn. Few souls would wish to be out on such a night. Those who were could not see more than several feet in front of them. Yes, he was quite in good fortune.

Then again, even if fate had not been on his side, the task before him would have been nothing more than routine. It had only become...simpler. His twisted lips formed a smile beneath the black piece of porcelain, and he drummed his bony fingers upon the seat, awaiting the sighting of his victim.

It was a pity for the old man, really. Joseph Buquet did not know what he had in his possession-what interesting secrets he held in manila folders and audio tapes. He was an innocent man in all respects, unknowingly creating his own doom with every file he pulled up. If anyone was to blame for this approaching incident, it was his old friend.

Yes, Nadir. You really have created quite the debacle, haven't you? Perhaps you should be counting your days left upon this earth, my friend. They are numbered...

Although disposing of his old acquaintance was not the most appealing of ideas, Mr. Khan was really leaving him no choice. How dare he dig up the past? How dare he intrude on his territory! Never would he be forced to flee from this delightful area. There was profit to be made within every underhanded deal throughout the city. 'Problems' were effortlessly taken care of, as the authorities were too clueless to ever connect one thing with another. No. He would not be forced away from this dystopia. Not by anyone.

The masked figure glanced out the tinted windows, content to see that he was surrounded by thicker vegetation. "We are close," he calmly stated to his driver. "Mr. Buquet should be within a mile's distance, as he always takes this route on weekday nights. I suggest you keep watch."

"Yes, sir," came the monotonous reply.

He briefly leaned back against the plush seat, gathering the little energy needed for the task at hand. It wouldn't be difficult. The man was aged and likely unarmed. He would need no weapon of any nature, as the grip of his hands would be enough to make a clean snap. In fact, the entire thing was somewhat boring. Still, it was very necessary.

"I believe I see him," the driver hesitantly stated.

The yellow eyes narrowed. "Well do you, or don't you? Tonight is not the time for inane mistakes."

"I do, sir. But there is a car up ahead, too."

He clenched his fists in annoyance, straining his neck to see the unanticipated intruder. The road had been clear the entire time! And now this! "Increase the speed!" he ordered. "I will not have us driving into the lighted areas, nor will I stand for any witnesses." He wanted no one to attest to Buquet's location that night. This had to be perfect. Mr. Buquet's death would be nothing more than the suicide of an old man who had no more reason to live.

The black car accelerated so quickly that it was on the left side of the other vehicle within mere seconds. He glanced over at the green car with a growing hatred, watching as it intruded on his entire operation. Buquet was staring at both vehicles in horrified shock, attempting to get out of their deadly paths. The green car was dangerously swerving in every different direction, trying to get out from between them. Although the masked man was not able to see the face of the other driver, he already despised them.

Joseph Buquet finally dodged to the side with a look of terror, landing somewhere in the shrubs that lined the street. The green vehicle quickly veered right and off the road, disappearing all together as it pummeled down into the wooded area below. As the black car became the only remaining moving object on the road, the shadow calmly folded his hands together. The situation had tilted in his favor, and the night had become more interesting than he had anticipated. "Stop the car," he quietly stated.

As the vehicle came to a halt, he opened the door, letting in a gust of the frigid air. As his yellow eyes quickly adjusted to the few streetlights, the shadowed figure gracefully strode toward where Buquet had fallen. A light wave of adrenaline coursed through his veins, just enough to make him quicken his long stride. He hummed under his breath, a requiem mass.

Buquet was hunched upon the ground, rubbing his head in obvious pain and trauma. The old man suddenly glanced up as a long shadow fell over his form, squinting in the dim lighting at the apparition above him. As his eyes focused on the black-clad man, he let out a sharp gasp and attempted to get up. An indiscernible protest came from his bearded lips...likely a plea for life.

He decided not to toy with his victim tonight. Another problem still had to be attended to, and the old man was putting up no resistance. With a sigh, he took both skeletal hands, stepped forward, and wrapped the man's neck within a tight, icy grip. Before Buquet could even let out a gasp, a grotesque snap rang into the air. The old man fell limp and still, his face quickly draining of all color. His eyes remained open, blankly staring at the ground with a frozen look of horror.

The masked figure swiftly dragged the body back to the awaiting vehicle and opened the trunk. He nonchalantly tossed it into the dark confines, before closing the door with a sharp click. The task had been completed more quickly that he'd imagined. He was pleased.

Now it was time for the next goal...the disposal of the witness. Pity if they had already died in the collision, as he was rather looking forward to finding them alive. They had nearly ruined his plan!

The green car had left a path of destruction through the shrubs and bushes, allowing him to easily follow its trail down the hill. As he carefully stepped over the twigs and bramble, he suddenly heard the dull hum of an engine. And what luck! The car's headlights were still on, allowing him to see its exact location. It appeared to have gotten stuck in a deep pit before crashing, meaning that the driver was likely still alive.

Within several quick steps, he was beside the front window. Bending down, he glanced inside as a new rush of adrenaline came upon him, readying him for his next killing. Immediately, the yellow eyes narrowed in disdain. It was a female. A young girl. Considering that the driver had been coasting down an empty street in the night, he had assumed the person to be an older male. She was hovering on the brink of unconsciousness, her blue eyes looking around in confusion before closing.

He uttered a curse in a foreign tongue. The murder of women was usually an avoidance. They were rarely involved in the activities that required his unusual talents, and so he rarely had reason to do away with them. Frankly, he'd kept his distance from the opposite gender all together, tiring of their screams of fright and gazes of terror at an early age. There was little need to be around them in his line of work.

Yet, this one had likely seen too much.

Looking down at her disoriented expression, the masked figure decided not to play games with her. His intense rage of earlier faded. It would be quick. He would smother her, gently and painlessly put her into an eternal sleep. As she was already injured, the deed would not take much effort.

Unfolding an icy hand, he found her door to already be unlocked. Foolish girl! Driving alone through the darkness with your door open. You have a death wish, which I shall grant you.

As he opened it, the girl immediately looked to her side in surprise, regaining some consciousness as the cold air fell upon her body. Her eyes widened in shock as his skeletal hand snuck into the car and hovered over her face. He now noticed that the radio was playing. No, not the radio. It was an amateur's recording. Two people were singing a soft older man and a younger girl. Against his better judgment, the masked figure paused to listen.

The female had an unusual quality to her soprano voice; it was soft yet powerful-like the chime of a bell. He glanced down toward her frozen form, her eyes still wide with terror as the hand prepared to cut off her oxygen. Once again, he readied his fingers to clamp down over her mouth and nose. The voice continued to sing in the background, surrounding him with its tranquil melody. The blue eyes desperately pleaded for mercy. He felt as though his blood had frozen, was unable to move from his position and complete the task. It was one of the few times in his life that he chose to speak to a victim.

"Is that your voice?" he enquired, keeping his tone steady and cold.

She only mumbled in reply, but it sounded like an affirmation. Yes. Somehow he knew that the trembling girl was the owner of the pure voice. As he slowly withdrew his hand from its deadly position, he cursed himself simultaneously. Why could he not simply be done with it? For several seconds, he just stood there outside the glow of the headlights. The girl...she had a name...the man on the tape had called her by something. Christine. Christine began to drift back to sleep.

If she had a concussion, she might very well die on her own. Would not that be ironic? He would be almost innocent of the girl's death.

Her face was almost ashen as her head tilted back for a potentially fatal slumber. "Stay awake," he commanded. "You have only a minor concussion." What was he doing? He could be rid of her without even touching her. It would be so very simple.

Her eyes quickly opened. "I can't," she replied, obviously still disoriented.

"You will if you want to survive the night. It would be a pity for such a voice to come to a needless end."

For the first time, he realized that he wished life on something rather than death. He wished her to survive that cold night. He wished her to sing again. Another wave of energy washed over him, as a new task became clear and apparent. He would ensure that she lived.

Some of the color returned to her pallid cheeks. She lifted her head up from the seat and tilted it in an obvious attempt to see the owner of the strange voice. A panic swept through him, and he pressed his icy hand against her forehead, forcing her to lie back down. If she saw him, he would have no choice but to kill her. Even with his abomination obscured, she could still give a clear description. "Remain lying down, Christine. Seeing me will certainly do you no good." Her name seemed foreign on his tongue. Christine. Christine.

She spoke, her soft voice laced with confusion. "Why? Who are you?"

He nearly laughed at her innocent enquiry. Who was he? Something far beyond her comprehension. What was he? That was the better question. Wouldn't the child enjoy knowing exactly what she was talking to? "Merely a passerby," he replied. "No one of any concern to you."

He momentarily studied her as she twisted in the seat, as though he were watching an entirely different species. And perhaps she was. She was the perfect picture of humanity's weakness, likely sheltered and coddled most of her life. And yet her vulnerability was captivating. Her soft features and blonde waves of hair were out of place in this frigid darkness. She was everything he wasn't. She was alive.

She spoke again. "Please...I need to get out. I need help. My car is stuck down here, and I need to call someone." The cassette clicked off, leaving them in near silence. "Sir?"

Christine spoke to him as if he were normal. And why not? She had never seen him. He pondered the idea momentarily, wondering if he could make use of it. To do what? He did not know. He knew nothing at that moment, continuing to watch her in fascination.

She finally unbuckled her seatbelt in another attempt to get out of the car. From behind the mask, his malformed lips smiled at her determination. He again put his hand into the car, causing her to quickly draw back. A strand of hair hung in her face, and he gently pushed it away, finding it soft beneath his icy fingertips. She was frightened, but he was used to such reactions. Perhaps she still imagined he would do away with her. Perhaps he should do away with her. But he couldn't now.

Sirens suddenly blared in the distance, echoing throughout the wooded area. He glanced up, reluctantly realizing that it was time for his departure. Someone had likely spotted his idle car, along with the path of destruction left by the girl's vehicle. He had stayed far too long, caught off guard in every sense of the word. One last time, the masked figure stared down at the golden-haired witness to his crime. A look of hope shown on her lovely face at the sound of the emergency vehicles. She then looked back toward him in apprehension.

He spoke to her, both a blessing and a threat. "You are fortunate tonight. Your voice has saved you."

With those whispered words, he strode back up the hill within seconds, a wraith floating through the darkness. A hollow sensation accompanied him, not the feeling of satisfaction that usually came when he completed such a task. He felt unsteady. His movement was unsmooth as he climbed into his awaiting vehicle. "Drive," he stated with aggravation, waving his hand forward. The car quickly moved in the indicated direction, swerving onto another hidden back road and completely out of view. The getaway would be clean. Now only the body had to be disposed of. Yet he felt no satisfaction that night. He felt almost ill.

"Did everything go as planned, sir?"

"Yes," he sharply replied, leaning back into the seat and staring out the window.

Yet it hadn't. He had allowed a witness to live, and it was not with regret. He had frozen in the middle of something routine, something that he had long ago perfected as an art. His mind was now consumed with one perfect beautiful terrible longing for something that he could never have. And it was all so very wrong.

No. Nothing had gone as planned.