He could hear his son's footsteps slowly padding across the thick carpet as they slowly came to a halt by his bedside. The lamp was turned up slowly, but not very much out of respect for sensitive eyes, and the changing level of the boy's voice told him that his son had kneeled next to the bed.
"Father, are you awake? I spoke to the doctor –"
"I know what the doctor said." The words were quiet and resigned, ragged with age but still retaining the semblance of beauty. "It won't be much longer."
There was a brief silence. "Clara is downstairs with Alexander. Should I –"
"No." He didn't want to see his daughter-in-law and his grandson right now. Not in these last moments. "You should not have to be here for this. Not a second time."
"I'm not leaving." And almost tentatively a hand reached out to grasp his father's, an action rarely done during life but somehow appreciated in this moment. "You shouldn't be alone. She never would have wanted you to be alone."
Gustave's mother was a forbidden subject in the household for a long time, simply because he knew his father couldn't bear to speak of her after her death. To this day Gustave knew there had never been another for his father, and now that he knew his parents' story Gustave wasn't surprised.
"I won't be alone." Came the quiet response, and Gustave was surprised for a moment. His father was never a religious man. "She believed in angels for so long – she thought I was an angel for so long. But I knew – I knew it was her. She was the angel –" there was a gasp as he struggled to breathe. "If anyone could make me believe, it would be her. Do you remember what she said... that night?"
Gustave allowed a slight smile to touch his lips at his father's rambling words, brought on by the fever but true nonetheless. He remembered. "About love? Yes, Father."
"It's true. After all, you still live. And your son, and someday –"
"They will know her story, Father."
They were silent for several minutes, before –
"Father, please. You know you shouldn't wear it. Not now. And no more morbid jokes about living corpses, alright?" There was a soft laugh from the man on the bed.
His father's hand tightened reflexively – years of hiding from the world had taught him to be wary of hands reaching for his face - and Gustave set the mask on the bedside table.
The words were so soft Gustave could barely hear them: "I can hear her."
"Who, Father?" Gustave responded in a low whisper, and ignored the slight prickle in his eyes. He knew that it was time – he knew it was probably a mercy after the decades of grieving and barely living. She wouldn't have wanted him to mourn for so long, but Gustave knew that his father had loved her more than life itself. Without her he had ceased to entirely live – the only thing that had kept him from following her into death that night had been their son.
So Gustave smiled, rather than cried, as he heard his father's breath grow shallow. The grip on his hand loosened, and Gustave heard him whisper in the softest voice, "Christine..." and then all was silent.
Gustave breathed deeply and looked down. It was over, then.
Take care of him, Mother. Father has been waiting a long time to see his angel again.
AN: I know, this is pushing it. But I wanted some sort of ending, and while I couldn't imagine the Phantom killing himself now that he has Gustave I also can't imagine him just moving on with life.