Chapter 13

'Inside Your Mind.....'

Kristy stared in disbelief as her gaze locked with the figure standing high above in the balcony. " Master...." She breathed softly as she watched gloved hands grasp the balcony railing.

A smile broke across the Phantom's lips as he watched Kristy walk across the stage and come to stand below him. " You shall bring the audience to their feet opening night, my angel of music. Remember, only you can make my song take flight......" He replied, then disappeared through the balcony door.

V who had been standing with Evey and Erik, hurried toward the staircase that lead to the roof, leaving Evey dumbfounded and shocked.

" Erik, " She turned to him, " Is this part of your and V's plan?" She asked staring at him as she grabbed his arm.

" No, I swear. We had nothing to do with this!" Erik answered as he pulled away from Evey's hand, " I'm going to check the other staircase." She watched as he sprinted across the stage and up the stairs.

" What's going on?" Jean-luc Girard asked walking up to Evey, the white half-mask in his hand.

Evey's face ashen as she stared at the man. " I thought you were..... " Her eyes rose to box five.

" What?" Jean-luc asked, a puzzled look on his face.

" I thought you were just up on the balcony...." Evey turned to him, " You were, weren't you?"

" No, I just came from my dressing room." He answered. " What happened, Miss Hammond?"

" The Phantom, he was....." Evey dropped her head as she waved her thoughts off with her hand.

" What about the Phantom?" Jean-luc began.

" Nothing.....rehearsal has been cut short today........" She replied her arms crossed, staring up at the balcony.

" Erik?" V called out as he searched the roof top.

" I'm here, Stephen." Erik answered, stepping from the shadows as he walked toward where his friend was standing. " I believe we gave them all a scare."

" As do I." V grinned as the Phantom joined them from the other side of the statues.

" Well, how was my performance?" Adrian Levesque asked as he took the mask from his face and ran a hand threw thick black hair.

" Magnifique!" Erik grinned as he slapped him on the back. " You were wonderful! If that does not have everyone believing in the opera ghost, nothing will!"

Adrian face flushed under the stare of both V and Erik. " Thank you. Will you be needing me longer?"

Erik looked at V. " Dr. Penway?"

After a moment of silence, V looked over at the young man. " I would say, at least till opening night." Reaching into his jacket pocket, V produced a manila envelope. " Five hundred pounds as we agreed upon." He handed the envelope to Adrian.

" I'm glad to be of service."

V and Erik watched as Adrian walked away, then turned back to more pressing matters. " She's still in love with him." Erik spoke bitterly, turning away from V.

" She is in love with you, my friend. " V replied, his head tilted slightly to the left.

" She loves the ghost-----not some obscure architect." Erik mumbled under his breath.

" You are the ghost----thus, she loves you." V reasoned, then continued, " You see, I always thought that Evey was in love with the idea that I represented, not the scarred hideous creature that existed under the mask and black clothing....." He stopped, his hands resting on the rooftop railing, his eyes gazing out across the new London. " She tried to tell me in her own subtle ways-----a touch here, a gaze into my eyes when we discussed the arts or music," the motion of his hands relayed what he was saying, " or in a compliment. I was just too blind to see them----and then it was too late." V's gaze dropped to the rooftop then raised, looking at Erik. " It was only when I awoke on that train, and realized I was alive that I dared dream that she could possibly love the man beneath the mask."

Erik let out a deep breath, " Do I, dare dream?"

" Send her a note------meet her in the catacombs." V suggested as a smile crossed his lips. " Otherwise you will never know."

" It is time that Kristy and the real Phantom saw each other once again." Erik replied as a slight smile touched his lips.

Kristy closed the dressing room door behind her as she flipped the light switch on. The last of the furniture had been delivered, and the room now was a replica of the original located in the Paris Opera House. She looked around in awe as pieces seem to come to life. Gently, she touched the delicately carved arms of the settee against one wall, then hurried to the dressing table and chair, where a brilliant red rose with a black ribbon lay reflecting in the mirror. Reaching to pick it up, her fingers touching the ribbon just as a knock sounded on the door.

" Come in." Kristy called as she turned her back to the mirror.

" Kristy....." Meg Leary closed the door quietly. " I have a favor to ask of you."

" What is it Meg?" Kristy smiled at her new friend. Since rehearsals had began almost two weeks ago, Kristy and Meg had constantly spent time together going over various parts of the upcoming play.

" I'm having a problem with a part of ' Angel of Music', and wondered if you would help me with it."

Meg asked sheepishly, looking at Kristy.

" Of course, I will." Kristy smiled as she walked over to her. " Let me get the rehearsal CD and we'll go over it right now."

Meg glanced around the room as Kristy got the CD player set up. Catching the rose out of the corner of her eye, Meg picked it up from the table. " From Monsieur Maurer?"

Kristy froze, looking at the rose, the black ribbon hanging from the stem. " No....."

" You have a secret admirer then? Perhaps the Phantom?" Meg asked. " Everyone saw him this afternoon----- looking straight at you."

" I---I don't know....." Kristy answered as she took the rose from Meg's hand, laying it back upon the table. " What part are you having trouble with?" Kristy changed the subject.

" Actually....." Meg sighed heavily, " All of it."

" Ok. Let's get started then." Kristy started the music.

" Christine, Christine....."

" Christine......" The word was whispered so quietly that neither girl heard it through the music.

" Where in the world have you been hiding? Really, you were perfect. I only wish I knew your secret. Who is your great tutor?" Meg sang perfectly.

" Father once spoke of an angel, I use to dream he'd appear. Now as I sing I can sense him, and I know he's here. Here in this room he calls me softly, somewhere inside, hiding. Somehow I know he's always with me--- He, the unseen genius." Kristy's voice filled the room and from beyond the mirror, a deep sigh was breathed as a masked face leaned gently against it, eyes closed.

" Christine, you must have been dreaming----stories like this can't come true. Christine, you're talking in riddles, and it's not like you....." Meg's voice blended with Kristy's naturally, making the room come alive.

" Angel of music, guide and guardian, grant to me your glory. Angel of music, hide no longer. Secret and strange Angel. He's with me even now..." Kristy looked into Meg's eyes wondering if this was indeed how the real Christine Daae felt.

" You're hands are cold...." Meg sang to her as she felt the coolness of Kristy's hand in hers.

" All around me...." Kristy's eyes searched the room, stopping on the huge full length mirror adjacent to her dressing table.

" Your face, Christine, it's white...." Meg's voice dropped, a chill fell across her body as she gazed into Kristy's pale face.

" It frightens me...." Fear crept into Kristy's voice.

" Don't be frightened......" (1) Meg finished the song just as she dropped Kristy's hand. " Are you alright?" She asked.

Kristy looked at her, recognition not registering in her face.

" Kristy? " Meg reached out and grabbed her by the arm. " Are you ok?"

" What?" Kristy asked feverishly as if, she were coming out of a trance.

" What happened? You were a million miles away just then." Meg smiled at her friend. " Thinking of that special someone?"

The question jolted Kristy back to reality. " If you'll excuse me Meg, I think I'm going to retire, I-----I really don't feel very well."

" Do you want me to bring you anything from the kitchen? I was heading down that way....." Meg asked as she started toward the doorway.

", thanks. I'm just tired." Kristy smiled back at her opening the door. " I'll see you in the morning."

" Alright. Thanks again." Meg answered closing the door after her.

Taking a deep breath, Kristy walked over to her dressing table and picked the rose up holding it tightly to her chest.

' Bravi, Bravi, Bravissimi......' The whispered voice filled the room.

' Angel I hear you--- speak, I listen. Stay by my side, guide me......enter at last, Master." Kristy searched the room for where the voice had come from.

' Flattering child you shall know me, see why in shadow I hide....look at your face in the mirror, I am there inside.....' The Phantom's voice was strong as Kristy followed his command.

Turning to face the floor length mirror, she watched as a shadowy figure slowly appeared, a white mask dimly reflecting light. A smile appeared on her lips as she saw him looking back at her. 'Angel of music, guide and guardian----grant to me your glory. Angel of music, hide no longer----come to me strange angel......'

Kristy watched as the mirror slowly slid open, Erik's gloved hand reaching for hers.

Philippe de Lamonde's lips remained in a tightly pursed line as he listened to what Chief Inspector Eric Finch had to say. The opera house manager pushed the chair from his desk. " Inspector, please understand that I agree with what you are saying, but you must also see my point." He paused taking a deep breath as he threw his arms up in the air. " I simply cannot allow a crazed manic to run about my theatre-----even if it is good for publicity."

Finch sighed heavily, " There's nothing I can do unless someone is hurt or property is damaged." V had personally asked Finch to come out of retirement to handle this case-----although Finch knew that the vigilante could handle it by himself with no help from him. Something fishy was going on, and Finch's bird dog nose was on the trail of it.

" So I have to let this madman run through the Palace de Garnier------terrifying everyone until he kills someone----either on purpose or by accident." de Lamonde's face tensed up more.

" He hasn't hurt anyone yet-----maybe you should talk to Mr. Maurer and Dr. Penway, maybe they could shed some light on the problem." Finch suggested as he turned to leave.

"I'll keep that in mind, Inspector. I believe you can show yourself out." de Lamonde turned away abruptly, his back to Finch.

" Thank you, Mr. de Lamonde. I'll be in touch." Finch closed the door after him.

Resting his hand against the back of his chair, Philippe de Lamonde stared out of the second story window. " Well, M. Phantom de l'Opéra, if you want to play the age old story in this time, I shall hunt you down as they did once before, and this time, the story will end."

Erik led Kristy through the cob-web laden passageway toward the lair. His heart was beating viciously within his chest as he caught Kristy's eyes with his. " My angel...." He raised her hand to his lips placing a kiss upon it. Kristy smiled in return as they entered the small cavern that lead to the central chamber of the Phantom's lair.

" Why did you appear at rehearsal today?" Kristy asked as she watched Erik throw the black cape across one of the unlit candelabras.

" To prove my existence to everyone involved with this opera house." Erik replied watching her, " and to hear my angel sing."

" Have you changed your mind about playing the part of the Phantom?" She asked hopefully following him into the main chamber.

" No."

Kristy sighed, " That's ok. Evey, Stephen and Erik picked a most wonderfully talented man named Jean-luc Girard to portray the part. I think he will be a hit opening night-------" She looked away for a moment, " you will be there, will you not?" Her eyes caught his.

" I have never missed a performance .........." Erik replied softly as he pulled her to him, his gloved hands gently holding her face, " Kristy........"

" Yes?" The answer, a bare whisper.

" I love you." He spoke the words before realizing he had said them.

Kristy's hands reached up to cup his face, her fingers slowly taking the mask from the right side of his face, revealing the misshapen flesh-----the Phantom's curse.

Erik's eyes flew open as the night air hit his face, and he stared at Kristy, dread filling his mind as he waited for her to destroy all his hopes with one small gesture.

(1) 'Angel of Music' lyrics copyright 1986 by Andrew Lloyd Webber