A/N: Thanks to my beta, Olethros, as well as my "Camping Consultant", the ever-talented Gondolier. (Pssst, go read "Fraternity" when you're finished reading this .
A man stood by the shores of Evergreen Lake, enthralled by the sound filling his ears and his very body. He made his way into the water, as if in a trance, towards the mysterious creature calling to him.
He did not care about the water slowly soaking his shoes, his jeans, creeping up over his knees, his waist. He needed to be closer to that beautiful voice. To the woman who urged him forward with her song.
The water crept over his chest, his neck, and soon he found himself denied oxygen, denied sight. However, it did not matter.
There was an angel singing, there was a feeling of euphoria.
…and then… there was nothing.
Daaé-Garner Residence – The next evening
Christine wandered wearily through the doors, her purse slung over her shoulder. She was glad to be home after her hectic rehearsal. A new opera was opening in two months and today had been rather tedious and time-consuming.
Passing the couch, Christine gave a quick kiss to each of the three felines that slept curled up together: Isis, Odin, and Kuroneko. "How are mommy's little babies? Where's daddy?" she asked, but no answer was forthcoming – not that she expected one.
Christine stood up and stepped away from the sleeping felines. "Erik? You around?" she called out.
"On the balcony," came the answer from upstairs.
Christine was relieved to find him available instead of holed up in his workshop in the basement.
Her fiancé had been quite busy these last few weeks, commissioned by several well-off clients thanks to Aleese DuBois. The former client had shared his name among friends who where looking for renovations or wanting a new summer home built by the talented recluse.
While Christine was glad he was doing so well, he rarely came to bed much before 3 a.m. She would be so fast asleep that she wouldn't even realize he had joined her. Christine had lost track of how long it had been since they had given one another some one-on-one attention.
Maybe that would change tonight.
With that hopeful thought, Christine quickly headed up to their shared bedroom. Erik stood through the French doors, leaning back against the balcony railing. The moonlight reflected off his marble skin, giving the man an almost ethereal look.
No, he would never be mistaken for normal. And she wouldn't have it any other way.
"Hey, lover," Christine smiled as she dropped her purse on a chair. "Busy day?"
"I took a break. Did you have a good rehearsal?"
"If you define the term good as hectic and mind-numbing, then yes." She answered as she set about getting into more comfortable clothing.
His golden eyes studied her through the hand-made mask he wore, enjoying the view of this lovely woman changing her clothes without shame in front of him. The black material, decorated with dark red fabric paint, covered his face entirely, save his mouth and below. Perhaps it was better, considering the heated expression upon his face at the moment.
"You need to wear tank tops more often," Christine said once she found herself cozy in a cami and sleep pants.
Erik glanced down at the black material that snugly fit his lean form. "It's summer. Even a corpse gets hot."
Christine suddenly launched herself into his arms. He caught her quickly – as she always knew he would. "And what a hot corpse you are," she commented before her mouth descended upon his, pulling a low growl from his throat as she slid her legs around his hips. She pulled away after several moments, "What's that?" She indicated something black around his upper left bicep.
He reluctantly placed her back on her feet, "Take a look,"
She moved herself to stand by his left arm, eyes going wide as she studied the new markings. "OH!" Her fingers traced over a thin band of black roses etched onto his skin, three neatly scripted letters breaking the band's continuity: C.A.M.
She quickly put a hand to her mouth, trying to suppress the sob that threatened to escape. She knew what those letters meant: Christine's Angel of Music.
It had been permanently tattooed onto his arm.
"Erik!" Christine squeaked out. "You… did this?" Logic told her to scold the man for eternally branding his skin on her behalf, but the obvious intent behind it touched her beyond measure.
Unable to speak, Christine suddenly threw her arms around Erik's waist and buried her face against his chest.
"Don't you like it?" he asked anxiously as he slid his arms around her.
"I love it," she whispered, tightening her grip. She felt Erik exhale a sigh of relief and realized he had been concerned about her reaction. "When did you get it?"
"I made an appointment to coincide with your rehearsal. It took a few hours." He explained. She nodded silently and he spoke again. "I had been planning it for a wedding present, but I could not wait." He grew concerned the longer Christine remained silent. "I rather like it, but it is easily covered by a t-shirt, if you prefer."
"Don't cover it," Christine said as she finally raised her head. She quickly wiped the tears from her eyes. "Sorry, I just got all emotional." She looked at the tattoo again and smiled as she brushed her fingers over the black markings once more. "Better be careful, though. People are going to think you're infatuated with a certain singer,"
He tilted her chin up with gentle fingers, "I am very infatuated with a certain singer, and I want everyone to know that I am hers."
"Her… being me, right?" she winked.
"Always." Erik cupped her face in his hands, "I know to whom I belong, and you need not fear me hiding from you ever again."
Christine stood on her tiptoes and reached up to trail her fingers over his mask, slipping the material off his face and allowing it to flutter to the floor. "All mine?" She whispered softly. He nodded. She glanced at the tattoo, "Christine's Angel of Music?" He nodded once more. She tugged at the hem of his shirt and led him back into the bedroom. "Show me."
It was a command that Erik did not hesitate to follow.
Evergreen Lake - Camping Ground
Two park rangers gathered around the body that had washed up on shore. "Fifth one this month," one muttered.
The other turned to the hikers who had found this particular body. "Anyone recognize him?"
One woman stepped forward. "He was at our campsite. I saw him walking away. He looked kind of distracted. Maybe he was meeting someone? I don't know. Maybe he heard something strange."
The two rangers exchanged glances. The same sequence of events followed the earlier bodies that had been found.
Surely it wasn't just a coincidence.
Antoinette Giry and Richard Firmin's Residence – the next morning
Giry glanced over the paper that had just arrived through the fax machine with curiousity. It was an assignment for Erik. "Richard? Come see this."
She felt Firmin come up behind her and read the paper over her shoulder. "Strange happenings at a campsite?" he asked, and then read on. "Bodies washed up on the lakeshore? What does that have to do with Erik? Surely this is more a case for the police."
"The Guild does not know. Some campers claimed to see others leaving their site in a trance of some sort, as if they were listening to something. At first, one would think it's only camping lore, but there have been a number of eye-witness reports. Far too many for comfort."
"Has the campground been infiltrated by the Pied Piper of Hamelin?" Firmin asked.
Giry shrugged. "I am willing to believe anything nowadays, Richard."
Firmin agreed with that, until something concerned him. "But, Antoinette - a man such as Erik going camping? It would be suspicious, no?"
"Perhaps… well…" she thought a moment. "Do the managers of Populaire expect their company to work over the holiday weekend?"
"Oh… um…" Firmin seemed uncomfortable. He had not even thought about the long weekend. If he made the company work, they would have to pay overtime. "No. Of course not. They will have the weekend off." He said quickly.
Giry nodded, "Then a man camping with his fiancée would NOT be suspicious."
"Right," Firmin replied. "I keep forgetting that the Guild's Executioner is engaged."
"He's no longer the Executioner."
"True. Though I've always wondered if Erik feels remorse for his past acts,"
"Would you want him to?" Giry asked. "I imagine it would be rather cruel. His sanity is uncertain enough as it is." She sighed, "Erik feels very little, save for what he feels for Christine. That girl has done something I once thought impossible…"
She then clapped her hands, declaring the conversation over. "Then it is settled. We will ask him to take Christine on this assignment. She, at least, will help him fit in better." Giry shrugged, "Well, as much as Erik can fit in anywhere."
She headed into the next room and quickly made the phone call.
Christine groaned as the shrilling of the antique phone on her night table woke her from her slumber. "Hello?" She muttered groggily into the handset. When she heard who was on the line and with whom they wished to speak, she turned to the skeletal face resting on the pillow beside her. "It's Madame Giry."
With a sigh, Erik slid halfway over Christine so as not to knock the phone from where it sat. "Yes, Antoinette?" He asked into the handset Christine still held. She pressed it against his ear as he waited for the information Giry offered, "Interesting. Perhaps Firmin's comment was not so far off. We will see." He waited another moment for more information and offered a grunt in response. "I will ask Christine to join me. Good bye." Christine hung up the phone on his behalf.
"Thank you," Erik replied as he looked down at the girl beneath him. The very nude girl.
"I'm joining you somewhere?" she asked as she shifted a little beneath him, causing Erik's thoughts to stray to places he had no time for at the moment.
Erik reined himself in long enough to inform Christine of his conversation with Giry. She nodded in acceptance, seemingly eager to go camping.
He then allowed his thoughts to stray again.
"We should get a cordless phone," he began as he rested a hand on either side of the pillow beneath her head, "It would prevent this awkwardness."
Christine smirked up at him, her legs sliding against his as she repositioned herself. "Who's awkward?"
Erik's golden eyes darkened at her obvious intent. "Naughty Christine…"
"Your fault," she teased as she trailed her fingers over his new tattoo again. She then reached up and curled a lock of his poker-straight ebony hair around her fingers, studying it. "It's grown so long," she said, noting how it fell over his shoulders and brushed her skin. "I should be jealous."
"It is all the hair I will ever grow," he replied, referring to the fact that his face and body were still bare as the day he was born. "A pointless vanity, but the only one in which I can really indulge."
"Not pointless. I like it. Very much. Just don't let it grow longer than mine."
"I promise," he said as he brushed his lips over hers.
Fighting the urge to brush his lips over more than her mouth, Erik quickly pushed himself to his knees, letting the blankets fall effortlessly from his body and giving Christine a very detailed view. "Hurry," he commanded. "We must take a trip to Bass Pro."
Christine stared at him, "NOW?" she sputtered, pushing herself up on her elbows.
"We have been asked to head out Friday morning. That gives us two days, and I know you have rehearsals later this afternoon." He quickly slid off the bed and headed to the closet.
Christine gathered the sheets to her chest and watched him, her eyes trailing over the darkened scars that marred his pale back and crisscrossed their way down to mid-thigh. "How much is it going to cost?"
"What does it matter?" he shrugged as he pulled out a pair of leather pants and tossed them on a nearby chair before looking for a shirt. "We will ask the sales associates what we need and put it all on the Guild's card. This is for their assignment after all." He offered her a quick glance, "And I suggest we invest in ear plugs as well. They may come in handy later."
"Earplugs?" Christine furrowed her brow. "Why? If we're going camping…"
"One never knows how noisy the forest may be," he answered before turning back to the closet.
"Maybe we should find out a bit more info about this place – like what kind of campground it is. We'll have a better idea of what we'll need."
"Boot up the computer and do a search for Evergreen Lake." Erik requested.
He turned to her when he realized she had not yet moved from her spot. "What is it?" he asked. "Christine?" he slowly returned to the bed, sitting down to face her.
"Well…I… I was kind of hoping we… we'd stay in bed until I had to get ready," she blushed shyly. "I mean… it… it's been so hectic lately and we've been so busy. We haven't really had a chance to-"
Erik interrupted her words as his lips found hers once again, "Sweet Christine. Erik is yours, first and foremost." He gently pressed her back down to the mattress, his kisses deftly exploring her soft skin, "For the next few hours, at least."
Evergreen Lake Camp Grounds
"Please… let me see you…" the lone canoe rider cried out to the lake before him. "I can't live without you!"
The song continued, his body moving of its own volition. He stood up, not caring that the canoe shifted unsteadily beneath him.
She was there, under the water.
He would get to her. He would have her. He would jump into the icy water, and never resurface.
There was no going back now. This was it. He was hers.
And moments later, he was gone.
Evergreen Lake Camp Grounds – Friday afternoon
Erik took in his surroundings, committing the area to memory as Christine clung to his arm in an attempt to keep up with him as they followed the dirt path leading to the campsite. Both were bogged down with their gear, though Erik seemed to be having far less trouble than Christine.
"If we don't get there soon, I'm just going to set up here and pass out," she muttered.
"That would be unwise, beloved." Erik replied. He suddenly stopped as something caught his attention, his keen hearing picking up more than anyone else could. He turned in his tracks, causing Christine to come to a halt.
Erik glared at the group of four college-aged boys a few feet down the path behind them, whispering and staring. They were momentarily taken aback when they noticed his golden eyes focusing on them.
"If you want to see, you only had to ask." Erik's voice echoed in the quiet woods.
One finally spoke, "You got nothing we want to see," he then smirked at Christine, "She probably does though."
Erik narrowed his eyes, "She is not your concern. Though you seemed rather fascinated with this," he indicated the mask he wore. "You've been talking about it since you saw me."
"Honey…" Christine muttered under her breath, "Leave it."
"Why?" Erik asked as he glanced down at her. "They seem so very interested." He looked back at the boys, and slowly peeled back one corner of the soft cotton mask, revealing a protruding cheekbone covered in deathly white skin with traces of blue beneath.
The small group stumbled back, somewhat aghast, then proceeded to make distasteful faces and use the term freak in rather colourful sentences.
Erik smoothed the material back in place. "I imagine if you saw the rest of my face, you would faint from the shock! A shame you are all too young to simply drop dead."
"Erik!" Christine scolded.
With great suspicion and a few more choice comments, the boys quickly rushed past Erik and Christine.
Christine caught Erik's attention, arms crossed. "Did you have to be so rude?"
"I do not appreciate being spoken of behind my back!" he hissed.
Christine slid her pack off and leaned back against a tree, "Erik, you need to stop!"
"Stop being confrontational?" he hissed in response.
"For starters," she reached out and grasped the belt loops on his trousers, pulling him a little closer to be assured of his full attention. "I get it. I really do. I know what they were saying; I saw the looks they were giving you. But geez, Erik. You make it worse by being so … so…"
"Bitchy?" He finished for her. "Perhaps I should continue the trip like this!" He yanked off his mask and let it fall to the ground. "It could make for a VERY interesting weekend!"
Christine calmly leaned down and picked the mask up, brushing the dirt off before holding it out to him. "Let's just continue on, ok?" she frowned, making it clear she was not happy with his behaviour.
Erik closed his eyes and took a slow deep breath. He pushed the mask aside and gently grasped her arms, tugging her little form against him. "I apologize, Christine. But I do not think I will ever behave properly in a society."
He leaned down effortlessly – a surprising feat considering his own pack was still on his back – and rested his forehead against hers, his voice growing soft. "Forgive your bitchy Erik?"
Still holding his mask, she cupped his face in her hands and met his mouth in a soft, tender kiss. "Forgiven."
He took the mask from her hand, sliding it over his face once again. "It's going to get dark soon. We should hurry." Saying no more on the subject, she lifted and hitched her bag once more as the two made their way towards camp.
Christine and Erik finally found the flat clearing, complete with dirt pit for a fire. Nearby was a rustic bath house and cement showers. Christine was sure she would be making good use of those.
Erik quickly pitched the tent, solidly impaling the stakes through the loops in each corner to make sure they were snug in the ground. If worse came to worse, he could pull out one of those stakes and use them as a form of defense.
The two then set up their bedding and put their gear away. "I am going to gather some firewood," Erik started. Christine nodded, and he headed off into a thicket of trees.
With a sigh, Christine sat down on one of the logs surrounding the fire pit and lit the bug repellant candles before smothering herself in spray. The last thing she wanted was to be eaten alive.
Erik returned a few minutes later and set the fire.
"Your buddies are here," Christine nodded across the clearing as she handed Erik the spray. He saw the boys they had encountered earlier setting up.
"Lovely," he muttered, lathering himself in repellant. "Let us hope they get eaten by a bear."
"Well, it isn't as if I can Punjab them." He shrugged.
She rolled her eyes and reached into her pack. "I brought marshmallows," she offered as she pulled out said treats. "And sticks!" she handed him two wooden skewers.
"Is this what you plan to have for supper?" he asked.
"Dessert, at least. You have the food?" Christine asked. Erik reached into his own pack and pulled out two cans of soup, potatoes, and Spam. "Wow, we'll eat like royalty tonight." Erik offered a dry chuckle at that.
Once they were fed, they noticed that others had set up camp as well. Small groups gathered together, cooking over the fire or barbequing on the small grills the camp provided.
When night fell, the moon helped illuminate the campsite, the sounds of owls, bullfrogs, crickets, and other animals filling their ears. "We need to head out early in the morning," Erik explained. "We should sleep shortly."
Christine nodded and made her way to the washroom first, then sat in the tent until Erik returned from his own toilette.
The two quickly headed into the tent and set up their bedrolls side-by-side. One sleeping bag remained unzipped beneath them while another was to be used as a blanket on top. Christine made herself comfortable with Erik's chest against her back, his arm snug around her waist.
It was wonderfully peaceful, even with the strange sounds surrounding them – until the noise of a blaring radio interrupted.
Erik cursed under his breath and lifted a corner of the tent flap, "It's THEM," he muttered.
"They'll get tired eventually," she said. "Leave it for now. We don't have to sleep yet."
"And what would you suggest we do?" he asked.
She rolled over to face him, "Talk. Read."
Erik was agreeable to that, but soon the night grew on and the music had not yet ceased. "We will not be able to sleep in," he explained. "The birds will be chirping before long."
"So ask them… politely… to turn the music down."
Erik crawled out of the tent, Christine following him as she hugged a sleeping bag around her shoulders. There were already a few campers over at the noisy tent, each requesting a bit of silence. The boys rudely refused, insulting anyone who said anything.
"This will not be done as politely as you hoped," Erik muttered under his breath.
There was no question he made an imposing figure as he headed towards the disruptive group. With his height, scarred back, and black mask, anyone would see fit to clear the way.
The boys, however, were intoxicated, which made them rather confrontational as they refused to Erik's request to turn down the music.
After much arguing and cursing, Erik grabbed the radio and slammed it against a rock, smashing it easily before tearing apart the wires and tossing it back at the boys' feet, leaving the campground in silence save for the sounds of the wild. This act was followed by a round of applause from the other campers, who gladly made their way to their tents for their own night's sleep.
The boys were beside themselves with anger. Halfway back to Christine, one of the boys found himself foolish enough to jump the masked Hunter from behind.
Christine cried out as her heart pounded against her chest. She all but ran towards Erik as the other three joined in the attack. She stopped in her tracks, however, when she realized Erik was pushing them off easily, serving each boy with a hard firm punch that she knew was less than his full strength. These boys were stupid, not dangerous. Erik knew the difference, and responded accordingly.
Christine saw them show their first sign of intelligence as the group quickly backed off, realizing that though Erik was only one person, he was one very skilled person.
Muttering under their breaths, they headed back to their tents, allowing Erik to return to his fiancée and curl up with her once more.
The Next Morning
Having decided on a hike to investigate their surroundings shortly after breakfast, Erik and Christine headed out.
They were walking for half-an-hour before Erik stopped. Something on the ground had caught his attention. He crouched down to pick up a wet, shredded backpack, then looked off to the left.
"A drainage pipe," he indicated to Christine. "Come." They continued on until Erik stopped at the mouth of the drainage pipe. It was low and narrow. They would have to crawl their way through. "It is the runoff from the lake. Shall we?"
"I'm not going in there!" She protested. "It's gross and muddy and… creepy."
"I will make it up to you."
"I will do all the housework for a month."
Christine raised an eyebrow, "Seriously?" He nodded. "You promise?" He nodded again. "Deal!" she held a hand out, and he shook it. "Are you going to wear a little maid's outfit too?"
"Don't push your luck."
Christine seemed disappointed, but followed Erik as he pulled her down and led her through the drainage pipe, hands and knees squelching in the mud. "Ugh…"
"We can wash up afterwards," Erik pulled a LED flashlight out of his hiking pack and shook it for a few moments, the bright light soon illuminating the darkened pipe. It lasted for a few minutes until it began to grow dim and finally flicker out.
Christine automatically reached out for Erik's hand, but found the long, bony fingers icy cold and unyielding. "Erik? What's wrong?"
"Nothing, I just have to energize the light again," he answered. She heard the shaking of the flashlight again and the drainage pipe brightened once more.
It was then that Christine noticed Erik was kneeling a few feet away, causing the girl to look down slowly at what she was holding.
She screamed and yanked her hand back, the dead body rolling a few feet closer to her. Christine immediately crawled to Erik and huddled against him, burrowing her face against his shirt.
"Ah, I see," he began. "All this time, I thought you loved me. But it turns out you love corpses in general. I feel so used…"
"Shut up," Christine muttered. Erik chuckled. "It's not funny!" she pouted.
"Forgive me, but… well, you DO have to see the humour in this,"
"No I don't,"
Erik gave her a quick kiss atop her head then moved away to examine the rest of the decomposed body lying stiffly on the ground. It was surrounded by dry leaves and… were these feathers? Erik picked one up and studied it, furrowing his brow. They were too large to be feathers belonging to a bird - unless the bird was human-sized.
Or… at least PARTLY human… Erik mused. He only knew one bird-like creature that could lead people to a lake and drown them.
"I… I can't believe I touched a dead thing!" Christine muttered, breaking Erik out of his thoughts.
"I feel I should be offended you thought it was me," he replied.
"I… oh… well, it was only for a sec! And I knew… I knew something wasn't right."
"Then I am relieved that you prefer your corpses living…" He crawled around the body, "My guess is that our friend here was washed out with the current. If anyone went searching, they wouldn't have found him. I'm sure if we go deeper, we'd find a few more."
Christine seemed uncomfortable, "Could we… maybe … NOT?" she asked.
Erik glanced over at her, seeing how pale she had grown at the thought of finding more dead bodies. "I forgot you are squeamish about such things."
"Squeamish is an understatement," she muttered, then furrowed her brow, "Wait a sec! Are you calling me a wimp?"
Erik let out a small chuckle and helped Christine crawl back out. "Nothing of the sort. It takes a strong woman to accept me into her bed." He helped her to her feet once they could stand again, "Let's go back to camp. I think we could both do with a shower."
Christine couldn't help but agree.
Erik glanced around the campsite and saw everyone else enjoying their dinners as they sat around various fire pits. Some were even hopping back and forth, the beer flowing cheerfully as complete strangers struck up conversation. Everyone seemed to be having a fine time.
Except one tent.
No one was sitting outside it, and no movement could be seen within.
He would have thought the inhabitants were sleeping, but being that they were rather unruly college boys, he highly doubted it. He cursed under his breath silently and turned to Christine. "It seems our first disappearance has taken place," he informed her. "You may stay here, or you can come with me."
Christine glanced around, "Who's missing?"
"Our good friends," he muttered, indicating the empty tent across the clearing.
She bit her lip nervously. "I don't want to stay here. Not without you."
"Come then, let's find our annoying neighbours."
"It's going to get dark soon," she pointed out.
"Yes." He then turned to her. "Bring a flashlight if you must, but do not worry that we will get lost. You forget your Erik's extraordinary senses."
She smiled and took his hand. "I'll never doubt again."
With that, they headed off.
An hour later
Holding Christine's hand tightly, Erik made his way along the path he was sure the boys had gone. He was beginning to feel the cool breeze off the lake, smell the murky water. It would not be far now.
Behind him, Christine looked up through the canopy of trees. They were not on any marked path, but Erik seemed to know where he was going.
Suddenly, the hand around hers tightened and Erik grew stock still.
"Do you hear it?" He asked softly. "It is so beautiful…"
"What's beautiful?" she wondered.
"The singing. The heavenly singing. Like an angel."
Christine frowned, a surge of jealousy going through her. "I thought I was your angel!" She angrily tugged on his arm. "Erik! Look at me! What are you hearing?"
He turned to her slowly, his golden eyes blinking quickly. "Christine? Oh!" He quickly reached into his belt pack and pulled out his earplugs, twisting them in immediately. "Put yours in."
Christine looked up at him. "I didn't bring them."
"Well I didn't know I NEEDED them!" She snapped. "I thought we were just looking for the boys!"
"It is the singing, Christine. I do not want you to hear it."
"I DON'T hear any singing. Who's supposed to be singing?"
Erik glanced down at her, "You cannot hear it?" She shook her head. "Of course… being female, perhaps you are immune. It is the Siren that has been luring all these campers to their deaths."
Christine looked at him flabbergasted. "Siren?" She sputtered. "You mean… something like in Homer's Odyssey?"
"Exactly like that, yes."
Christine's mind was reeling. "Of course…" she threw her free arm up, "Demons, vampires. Why not Sirens? Are there aliens too?"
"That I don't know. But truly, beloved, did you never think that those myths were based on something? After all you have seen?"
"Ok… fine. So there are Sirens. But if I can't hear them anyway, what do earplugs matter?"
Erik met her eyes. "The earplugs are not to drown HER out, Christine. They are to drown ME out."
Christine didn't understand, but Erik pulled her on before she could ask him to clarify. She knew they were getting closer to the lake. The breeze was cool and Christine immediately wished she had brought a jacket.
She suddenly froze in her footsteps as they came upon the water, and the rocky island in the middle of it. "What is that?" she gasped, but she already knew the answer.
A winged woman stood on the small island formation, her arms held out to the four boys Christine and Erik had met earlier. They were walking precariously into the water, and Christine worried it wouldn't be long until they completely went under.
"HEY!" She shouted out, "GUYS! Look out!"
They paid no heed.
Christine glanced at the strange woman, then at Erik. He simply gestured her forward and clamped his hands over Christine's ears.
Christine was about to protest, but soon found she could not tear her eyes from the man before her as his heavenly singing filled her, the sound only somewhat muffled by his hands.
The boys halted briefly in response to Erik's interruption, but the Siren raised her voice higher. Erik easily followed suit.
The Siren stopped, the boys before her frozen. He could hear the silence that remained in the wake of her singing, and could not help but smirk. "Ear plugs…"
He wasn't sure which one this was. Pisinoe, Aglaope, or Thelxiepia. Why was she so very far from home? Cast out, perhaps?
"Why lead these young boys to their deaths?" He asked aloud.
"I am only singing. I do so enjoy it. It has been far too many years. I cannot help the control it has over foolish men."
Erik narrowed his eyes curiously. "Did something wake you?"
She did not answer, instead choosing to return to her song, to continue leading the boys to the death that awaited them. Erik responded in kind, his voice matching hers note for note in an attempt to overpower her control.
Far too caught up in his attempt to defeat the Siren's spell, Erik did not notice the change in Christine's body until he felt her little form pressing against him. He glanced down at his beloved only to see the fluttering of her eyelids, the quickening of her breath, and the parting of her lips. It was far too similar to her reaction during their private intimacies.
Christine! Devil help me…Erik cursed himself inwardly for not reminding her to bring her earplugs.
Not wishing to embarrass Christine in front of the others as she remained oblivious to her physical response, Erik tightened his hands upon her ears.
She soon relaxed, her breathing slowly returning to normal.
Erik's attention returned to the boys heading towards the Siren. He raised his voice once again, but the Siren put more effort into her song. Erik refused to be outdone, overpowering her voice with his own.
Finally, the boys stopped walking, though the Siren had not yet been silenced. They turned to see Erik, then noticed the water at their necks and the bird-woman only a few feet from them.
They immediately rushed back to shore, stumbling onto the rocks as they clamping their hands over their ears.
Losing her prey and realizing Erik had sung more effectively than her, the Siren shrieked in protest. Furious, she dove beneath the water, causing the water to rise over the shores, throwing up several bodies in the process.
Her victims. Every last one of them. How would this ever be explained to their families?
That was not for Erik's concern as he stopped his singing and looked down at the woman whose ears were still covered by his hands.
She blinked quickly at him, as if waking up from a dream. "What… what happened? Why do I feel like I just…" she suddenly blushed. "Erik? Your voice. Did… did it do that to me?"
"It seems so," he began quietly, his voice somewhat strained from reaching notes he had not practiced in a long time, "I apologize. My singing had an unforeseen side-effect."
She shook her head, "It's ok. How's your throat?"
"I will be fine." He offered a quick glance back at the boys, who were finally coming to their senses. "I broke the spell, at least." The boys appeared to have woken from a dream.
"We probably have to help them get back to camp," Christine explained.
"Can we not just leave them here to figure it out on their own?" Erik asked hopefully. Christine frowned and smacked his chest. "No? Oh, very well…" he muttered, "At least I can wrap my rope around them. I will claim it is to keep us together."
"You have the Punjab lasso with you?" She asked disapprovingly.
"Do you ever expect me to be without it?" he asked. "I am not yet willing to give up my weapons."
Christine rolled her eyes with a sigh. "Can we go home first thing tomorrow morning? I've come to the conclusion that I'mNOT a 'great outdoors' person."
"Personally, I much prefer a cave myself…" He then turned to the boys, "Follow us if you want to get yourselves safely back to camp!" he ordered.
Arrogant as ever, the boys insisted they didn't need help. Erik simply shrugged as he took Christine's hand and walked on without them.
It didn't take long before they ran to catch up to the masked man.
END OF EPISODE 1