Author's Note: I'm on the library computer, updating (feel honoured.) And the formatting thing is screwed.

It was my birthday yesterday (the 26th.) It was...an interesting birthday. I'm feeling remarkably uninspired today, so I'll leave it at enjoy the chapter, review if you wish, criticism is welcomed, and...yes.


Chapter 14 – Time t

o Break

My eyes widened, and I could feel myself start to hyperventilate.

Calm down, I told myself firmly. For all you know, he's a ventriloquist or something!

"Erik?" I called out, hearing my words echo in the vast room.

No answer.

"Erik!" My attempt to inject firmness into my tone failed, and my voice was left trembling. Weak.

How I hated it…

"This isn't funny, Erik!"

"Really?"

Behind you…

I whirled, to see…no one.

"What would you have done if Erik had killed him, Christine?" The curiously third-person-worded question came from behind me once more – but this time, I didn't bother turning around.

"I-"

"Would you have screamed? Cried?" A dark laugh followed the words. "Would you hate Erik?"

My skin was warm, my face flushed – but inside, I felt as cold as ice. He sounded insane – but coldly so – the sort of insanity a cold-blooded killer would suffer from.

In the past day, slightly apprehensive though I may have been, I hadn't actually been scared. But now…how could I have not?

"Are you going to kill me?"

This time, I managed to keep steadiness in the words – God knows why, considering just what I was saying.

"Hardly." Abruptly, the darkness, the insanity, left his tone – I barely managed to restrain myself from sighing visibly in relief – to be replaced by dryness. "While I am hardly the embodiment of truth, I have no reason to have lied to Nadir. I said I would not harm you, and I will not…Christine."

He said my name carefully, like he tasted each sound and syllable in it as he said it. There was more meaning in that one word than in anything else he had said – it validated the words before it more than if he had sworn on his life to not harm me.

"Oh." That was all I could say, weak with relief as I was. Slowly, I walked to one of the wooden chairs, and sat. I didn't think my legs would hold me.

"Then why am I here?" My eyes closed for a moment; I opened them to see my kidnapper back on the couch.

"I said before that I would not answer that question."

"You're going to have to answer some time," I pointed out. Erik shrugged, seemingly dismissing what I had said.

"Perhaps – perhaps not."

"Oh," I said again. My heart rate was slowing along with my breathing, and I dare say I would have returned to my normal, sarcastic state within a few minutes. If only he hadn't spoken…

Erik, oh Erik…why must you destroy everything?!

"However…" he continued. "One thing. Erik – I – would…strongly urge…you to not attempt escape."

My laugh was short, devoid of humour. Now there was merely numbness; I think I was too drained to feel anything now.

"You sound like a kidnapper, now," I told him – and as soon as I said that, I knew that I made a mistake.

Oh, foolish Christine…

It was his turn to laugh – but unlike my laugh, there was real emotion in it – what emotion, I wasn't sure. And even behind my hazy numbness, I didn't want to know.

"Someone else said that, in fact. Now who was it…?"

"It's alright," I said hastily. "I don't really want to-"

"Ah yes." The voice sounded a tad too pleased for my liking. "The little traitor-friend of yours."

You destroyed her, you know…

Despite the fact that he was technically correct – she was a traitor – the wording rankled with me. "She's betrayed me, not you – actually, she betrayed me for you."

"Really?" Somehow, there was too much triumph in Erik's tone. "Well, little though you might think of Mademoiselle Giry, you must admit that her advice is quite sound."

Drove her to her death because she couldn't bear to live…

The protective numbness shattered like glass, and I felt cold again. "I – I thought you hadn't-"

"You thought I hadn't heard?" Amusement, again – but cold, as always. Could he never show any warmth?

You destroy people…

"Give me some credit, my dear. I heard everything she said to you. Everything."

"I'm not going to escape," I hissed, teeth clenched.

"No, you won't."

Something in his tone…

"You said you wouldn't hurt me!" My voice sounded panicky and shrill even to my own ears.

"Yes, I did say that." He sounded like he was finding the situation funny – his eyes glinted with dark amusement. "My memory is not quite that restricted."

"Then…"

"Unfortunately," he interrupted, "that does not extend to your – limited though they may be – loved ones."

But can I ask you something?

The coldness crept further through me, laced with a painful burning.

"You wouldn't…!"

I stopped. Of course he would, I thought bleakly.

"You probably wouldn't understand," Meg told my "sleeping" form, "since he would never threaten you – but if he wants something, he gets it."

How right she was!

Just one little question…

"So if I don't do what you ask, you'll kill my friends?"

"Yes," he said, almost thoughtfully (thoughtfully?!), "that sounds fairly accurate. Or perhaps…" He was smiling, I could tell. It amused him, no doubt, to know that he held so much power over me.

Why do you want to destroy me?

"Perhaps I would make you do it…"


Wh-what?! For a moment I thought he was joking – and then I remembered the hypnotic voice, in all its terrible, beautiful glory.

"What do you think of that idea, Christine?" Oh, how could anyone find this amusing? How could anyone consider the deaths of others and have laughter in their tone as they spoke?

"I won't try to escape," I said dully.

"Would you enjoy it," he asked me, ignoring my surrender, "would you enjoy killing one of your colleagues? An old school friend, possibly – you don't seem to have very many friends at this point in time, certainly."

Well, I thought with some sense of relief, at least he hasn't mentioned-

"Or maybe even your beloved fiancé…"

"I won't try to escape!" I snarled, finally pushed beyond endurance. "Why can't you get that past your thick skull?! Or maybe it's that idiotic mask you're wearing – ever considered taking it off?! Maybe you won't be so stupid, then!"

There was a long silence, as I glared at him. He was still, very still – I couldn't even see him breathing.

"Careful, Christine," he warned. "Be very careful-"

"Or what?" I asked mockingly, fully aware of how idiotic I was being (and not caring one whit.) "You'll hypnotise me? Turn me into a murderer like you are?"

The anger was starting to wear off now, and I was becoming more aware of the atmosphere in the room. Erik was still not moving. But his eyes, glowing jewels in the blackness of his mask and attire, were on mine.

The anger was wearing off, and I was becoming very afraid.

When he finally spoke again, his words were clipped, the tone harsh.

"Go to your room."

Yes! Take the goddamned opportunity!

"No."

Fool.

Yes, I know. You don't have to tell me.

I saw a slight movement, but couldn't discern what it was – till I finally managed to tear my eyes from his and saw his gloved fist clench.

"Go to your room, Mademoiselle Daaé-" he fairly spat my name "-or I will be forced to take you up on your offer. What would you prefer as a murder weapon, pray? A gun? A kitchen knife? Or would you prefer the old-fashioned poison? The choice is yours, my dear."

Wide-eyed, I stared at Erik, not trying – and not wanting – to comprehend what he had just said. I'm not sure I would have been able to, even if I had tried – the aura of absolute rage he was emanating smothered my thoughts, to the point that all I could process in my mind was raw, painful emotion. No, not even emotion. Fear. Just fear. Lots of fear. Too much fear. Filling my senses, leaving a sour after-taste in my mouth. It tasted disgusting – I would have retched, but I was too scared to. It was enough to make one laugh. Or cry – though at this point, I would have given my soul to do either of those.

Somehow, my eyes had wandered back up to become locked on his – oh gods, those eyes! Was it even possible for a human to have yellow eyes, like a cat? Was Erik even human, or was I going mad?

After a long, tense moment, however, the fire in the masked man's eyes dimmed. His hand relaxed, and the suffocating atmosphere dissipated somewhat – not completely, but enough I could think clearly again. Quickly, I looked away.

Erik finally spoke again – less spoke, more sighed – but each word was still carefully enunciated.

"I will take you to your room."

Too terrified to speak, I merely nodded, gaze still averted.

When he stood and walked towards me, it was too sudden – I flinched violently.

The expression in his eyes almost made me feel sorry for him.

Almost.


"Thank you," I said quietly as Erik held the door open for me.

"Christine…" Dimly surprised, I unwillingly turned in the threshold, so close to escape from him.

"Yes?" My voice had lost all the confidence (arrogance) of before – or not left. Rather, it had been drained, leaving me to sound obedient and meek.

Broken.

"I'm…sorry."

And looking up at the masked man for the first time in ten minutes, I could see that he was sincere. He was sorry.

"I know."

I did know.

It just didn't make any difference.

He sighed – it was barely noticeable, but his eyes dimmed even further, becoming as dull as my senses felt. "Good night," he said, tone still melodiously formal even in its lacklustre state.

"Erik…"

It was his turn to stop and look at me just as he was about to turn away.

"Yes, Christine?"

"Everything you said…" I left it there.

"What about it?"

"Was it all true?" Would he do that to me? Take away the few I loved, merely because I sought freedom from him?

Are you really a murderer?

He hesitated – and the hesitation was enough. I nodded, biting my lip.

"Then don't apologise."

I closed the door, and as I heard the key turn in the lock, I sank to the floor, my back against the wood.

And then finally, finally, I started to cry.


I'm going to pretend I didn't inadvertantly change the entire tone of the story. Me? Why would I do something like that?

Alright, so I did it. God knows why...

Anyway, how was it? Criticism is really, truly welcomed, and thanks for reading!

Arcèlia