A/N: So, ever since I heard the LND soundtrack, there was this little part of my brain that kept me asking 'what if Christine had left Phantom instead of singing?' In the end, it was bugging me so much, I decided to see what would happen if I tried to expand my thoughts. So, here it is, starting towards the end of 'Before The Performance' on the CD.
"Please, Christine." Raoul brushes a stray lock of hair back into my elaborate hairstyle gently. Oh, Raoul, why do you choose now to show me this kind of affection and tenderness? Now, after ten years? "I know what I'm asking is sudden, but we must hurry if you're to be safe. Let's leave."
"Raoul… I … may I have a moment?" I need to clear my head without him here … or Erik.
"Of course, Christine." He smiles warmly and kisses me sweetly … our first kiss … on the Opera House roof … so passionate … so loving … no! I can not afford to let the memories of the past infiltrate my mind now.
If I sing, I'll compensate for every hardship I've brought upon Erik, but if he was willing to bring me to America, after ten years … just to hear me sing one aria … will he be willing to let me go? Gustave. My little angel. He is what matters. Gustave fears his own true father. He, poor, innocent, sweet child, still believes he is Raoul's son. How long could I keep the secret, if I was always close to Erik? Would Raoul hate me for what I had done? And my son … Raoul has made his hatred for Erik clear. What will he do to a child, that he has believed his, but is the child of his enemy?
Click. I freeze as ice cold hands place themselves around my neck. I stiffen. "Do you never come through an ordinary door, Erik?" I whisper, gazing at both his reflection and mine in the mirror.
"Was that an attempt at humor, Christine, my sweet? Married life has changed you more than I might have thought." He smiles slyly … a fox beside a swan … and raises the most spectacular necklace I have ever seen, lovingly fastening it around my throat. The enormous, cold wine-colored garnets nestles into my flesh, the diamonds surrounding it throwing rainbows, even in the dim light of my dressing room. Gustave would marvel at the beauty of such a piece of jewelery. "I couldn't help but overhear your conversation with le vicomte."
"Couldn't help? You were eavesdropping intentionally." I scowl slightly. "Why is it you never leave me be when I am in a dressing room?"
"You are far too desirable. The last time I left you alone for even a slight amount of time, you married the fool who was with you. Nevertheless, it seems he's realized his situation." He lasps into song. "He knows his love is not enough. He knows he isn't what you need. He knows you're made of finer stuff. I think, on that, we're all agreed. It's time to leave him in the dust, and set the music in you free!"
His voice is so vibrant, I have to clench my fists to keep from collapsing. I must not succumb to the power of his voice again. I am not the naïve chorus girl I had been ten years ago. I am not Christine Daaé anymore. I am Madame Christine, le Vicomtesse de Chagny, La Divina. I am a wife … and a mother … He has continued, oblivious to my thoughts. "In moments, mere moments, drums will roll. There you'll stand, just like before. The crowd will hush, and then, in one sweet rush, I will hear you sing once more. And music, our music, will swell and then unwind, like two strands of melody, at last entwined! Fullfill us, complete us, make us whole! Seal our bond, forevermore! Tonight, for me, embrace your destiny! Let me hear you sing once more!"
He vanishes and I hear a rap on the door. Raoul! Has he heard Erik's voice? "Miss Daaé? It's time." A shabby looking stagehand pokes his head through the doorway.
"I-in a minute." I whisper. I reach down the front of my gown and pulled out my Papa's silver crucifix. Raising it in prayer, I sing softly: "Kyrie eleison … Christe eleison." Lord, have mercy … Christ, have mercy. "Papa? It is your Christine. Oh, Papa, what am I to do? My heart and soul are twisted every way, what answer can I give?" Either way, I disobey a man who needs my love, and whose love I need! Papa, send me a sign! Please, "I know I can't refuse, and yet I wish I could… oh, God," send me guidance. If I do not recieve a clear sign, I will sing. With as much dignity as I can muster, I rise and walk calmly to the center of the stage.
Maman is standing as still as a statue. She looks so beautiful, I can't help but wonder what she is thinking. Perhaps she is planning the day the two of us shall be spending together. I know Maman gets seasick easily, but I wonder if she would go on a roller-coaster in the park with me. I hear her whisper one of my favorite prayers: Pie Jesu Domine, dona eis requiem. Merciful Lord Jesus,grant them rest. Grant who rest? I become bored with prayers. I did after hearing countless repetitions of the Hail Mary at my First Communion when I was seven. I start singing the wordless little tune that popped into my head. I do not enjoy it quite as much as the song I played to Mr. Y, but it is still lovely. The melody, not Mr. Y.
My stomach begins to churn, almost as much as Papa's must have after he had been drinking all of last night. He would not be happy if he knew that I was aware, but it was not hard to tell. Our hotel suite reeks of alcohol, even if Papa does not. I cannot help but feel revolsion toward Papa, and Mr. Y, the latter even more. I do not understand how Maman could be friends with someone as hideous as he is. Last night, it was not the mysterious person intent on drowning me who haunted my dreams. It was Mr. Y's hideous face, twisted, burned, and scarred, leering at me and singing, in his tricky way, about the beauty underneath, persuading me to accept him. My lip begins to tremble. My voice shakes, but I continue to sing.
I see Papa. He looks about nervously, his eyes on Maman. I hear him whispering. "Will she sing? Will she flee? What is she thinking now? Is it him? Is it me? Devil take the hindmost."
I remember what that phrase meant. Maman had explained it to me when I heard one of Papa's friends yelling at him. Papa had been asking for some help with our 'financial issues' and the man had yelled that it was Papa's own fault and the devil take the hindmost. Maman said it meant that our circumstances were Papa's problem, and this world was one where it was 'every man for himself.'Papa keeps walking around in circles, and I feel eyes boring into me. I look up and see Mr. Y! His eyes meet mine, for a moment, then I break contact. Those eyes that burn! How could Maman trust those eyes?
Gustave, I hear you. Raoul, I hear you. Erik, I hear you. I am beginning to feel dizzy. Phrases echo in my head … sing for me … no turning back … please, Christine … she will fail him now … devil take the hindmost … make your choice … do it for our son …
Our son … Gustave is more my son than he is Raoul's or Erik's. Out of the corner of my eye, I see Meg. Maybe she can help. I raise my hand and widen my eyes. She recognizes our childhood signal.
"What is it? She mouths.
"I can't stay here. I need you to sing in my place."
"Christine, I'm not the singer you are."
"Meg, please? They love you here! You're a star!
"So are you. La Divina, est-ce que ce n'est pas exact?
"That's not what I want."
"What about what Erik wants? Ten years, Christine!"
"I cannot sing for him. Not anymore. Remember what I said, ten long years ago, my dear friend? If he finds me, it won't ever end. It won't end if I sing tonight."
"You don't know that!"
"What about your son?"
"When the time is right, I'll tell Gustave … and Raoul. Someday, Meg, but not yet. I want to start over. For everyone's sake."
"Leaving will only hurt Erik!"
"That's why I need you, Meg. Please, try to help him heal."
"I've been trying for ten years, Christine. It won't work." She smiles and puts an arm around Gustave as he wanders past her. I see her say something. I can't hear her, but I still know what it is: "Devil take the hindmost." A stagehand gives the order and the curtains part. Thousands of eager eyes stare at me, and my head begins to spin even more rapidly. Suddenly, I know what I must do. I use one of the few useful tricks I learned from watching La Carlotta: locking my knees and holding my breath. The technique serves its purpose and I collapse.
Christine, do you honestly believe I don't know what you're trying to do? It is quite clear to me that my sweet has been studying the overblown toad's little secrets. Amateur. As if I have not learned all that fool's tricks. Nevertheless, I lunge to catch her as she falls, but her precious little vicomte is there first, crying her name. I do not see her son, but I know he must be watching.
He lifts her gently in his arms and carries her back towards her dressing room. "Miss Fleck!" I snap my fingers. My dear friend glides out of the darkness.
"Please find Dr. Gangle and Mr. Squelch. I'm afraid the three of you will have to make an excuse for Miss Daaé's sudden … situation. Can you manage?"
"Yes, of course. What are we to do once we've explained?" Damn! I should have realized this crowd of America's greatest imbeciles would be thirsty for more entertainment. What am I to do? They will not, unfortunately, be satisfied with Meg, as she has already performed for them. They have spent the entire season witnessing my favorite trio, thus, that option is not a possibilty. The only remaining option is to use my own voice. If I could retrieve the automaton of Christine from the aerie … no, that is not possible. Even if I did synchronize the automaton's lips with my words, it would undoubtedly be a man's voice coming from its lips.
"Recompensate them all. I'm afraid we have no replacement for La Divina. Tell them Mr. Y is incredibly sorry for this mishap. Oh, and offer them complimentary refreshments. Food never fails to make those dolts listen."
"Yes, sir. And Miss Daaé?"
"If she recovers in time, and she is willing, we'll let her sing. If she decides she must depart, she will still be paid in full for the inconvenience we have caused her. In addition, for … personal reasons, I intend to be sending the de Chagny family monthly increments of pay, in care of the vicomte."
"Understood, sir. We'll go now." Fleck slips back into the dark, and I make my way towards my Christine.
A rap sounds at the door. Christine starts to raise herself up from the couch. "Stay still. I don't want you faint again." I smile and place a hand on her shoulder, then walk to the door. When I open it, the thing from hell who has caused all this is standing there. "Get back!" I hiss. "Don't even think of trying to worm your way in here."
"You forget that this is my property, vicomte!" He spits back at me.
"Please." Christine whispers from her perch. "Raoul, Erik. Please, for my sake. Behave."
"For your sake?" He scoffs, brushing me aside. "What about my sake, Christine? Did you not promise that you would sing for me tonight? This is not the first time you have broken a promise!"
"Nor is this the first time you have put me, and all I love at risk for the sake of hearing my voice!" She protests furiously.
"For all of you, not only your voice! I have tasted that once, and I have sworn I will again. Would you deny me what is my right?"
"As I have sworn that I will not give into you again, Erik! We are not what we were ten years ago! I love Raoul … but I love you too, not in the same way. You're my teacher, my friend, a father substitute. I'm simply not what you want me to be, Erik! I'm sorry! Truly, I am, but I cannot change the course of my love. You wrote so yourself, in that song."
"And what are you going to do with the boy?" Gustave?
"What reason do you have to ask about my son, you demon?" I snarl.
"Your son? He is still so blind, Christine?" He smirks and I feel a familiar scowl tugging at my lips. How dare he persist with the ridiculous idea that Gustave is his child!
"Erik! Please, stop!" She is sobbing now. He's hurting her! I know, in my heart, that I am no better. How much pain must I have caused for both her and Gustave in the past ten years? "If you continue, I won't ever come back! Not even if you were dying! I … I NEVER WANT TO SEE YOU AGAIN! I NEVER WANT TO HEAR YOUR FOX'S VOICE, OR RECIEVE ANOTHER LETTER, DO YOU UNDERSTAND?" She does something I had not expected. She rises, strides over to Erik, removes his mask, revealing his deformity and strikes him across the face. I had never imagined my wife capable of such a thing, yet the proof is before me as he reels back in horror. Calmly, she turns to me. "Raoul, I want to go home. Let's find Gustave, and get back to Paris. That's where we belong."
A/N: So, this wraps up my first chapter. I understand if you hate the plot because it involves Christine ditching Erik, but I just couldn't help it! It was one of those things! Please review!