A/N: This is just an idea I've been thinking about writing. I'm glad I finally decided to turn it into a one-shot. I hope you all enjoy! :) And please R&R!

Disclaimer: I own nothing!

Life in the Paris Opera House was quite different from life outside its walls: The streets lined with ordinary people going about doing simple, ordinary things. It was less complicated, less confining, for there wasn't a place a person couldn't go outside in the light. And this was exactly his problem.

They still called him the Phantom of the Opera, even after all the time he'd been away. Even after the devastating fire and destruction. Many had thought him to be dead, though they had never found a shred of evidence to support that theory, for he was very much alive.

His secret home had been left untouched, not a candelabrum out of place. He wondered why this was so; the rest of the building had been engulfed in flames and damaged beyond repair on the night he had performed Don Juan. He had come to a conclusion, believing the fools who had owned his palace to have been too afraid to do anything other than leave well enough alone.

After escaping that night, he'd run so far and fast that by the time his pace slowed, it was rather difficult to recall why he had left to begin with. Of course he could never forget - it would forever be branded into his mind. Though he wished now that it was a possibility: Everything would be so much easier to deal with, and so much weight would be lifted from his shoulders. Perhaps he could be at peace then, but these were high hopes, and he seemed to have lost faith in the little he had known.

Returning to find everything the way he'd left it was proof it had not all been a mere dream. He couldn't decide whether he wanted to it be anymore or not. But he was very exhausted, tired of thinking, tired of over thinking it all. Sometimes pretending helped numb the pain but of course did not heal his wounds. If anything, it rubbed more salt into the open cut just when he thought the constant burn would finally subside.

His heart had been aching for far too long. How could he live like this, reminiscing only of her and what never was and what never could be? All else had slipped between his fingers. . . .

She was the only thing that had ever mattered, ever meant something to him. And so she had been taken from him by a foolish, insolent boy who had known nothing of love. Why had he thought she would not turn from him? He had been nothing but a shadow to her, an invisible angel. Revealing himself to be a man had scared her away, straight into the warm, light arms of Raoul de Chagny.

How could he blame the boy when it had been his own fault? He realized now that it was because it had always been easier to accuse someone else for his failures; it always would be.

Now, glancing at the old music sheets upon the beautiful black organ, he found a few older pieces that threatened to send him over the edge in a final whirl of despair. This was certainly no way to live.

He heard a faint, watery sound behind him, but his mind chose to ignore it. He no longer cared if someone found him in the catacombs deep beneath the Opera House. There was nothing to care about now.

He felt like a ghost, being blown away by the wind. There was nothing to grab hold of, nothing whatsoever that could keep him in one place for long.

Here he was, the master of darkness, while she only craved what lived in the light - they were beings of two completely different and separate worlds. She was afraid of the unknown, of what she couldn't see or comprehend.

The sudden scraping of wood against stone caused him to turn, and suddenly every reason to live was right before him.

He opened his mouth to say something, anything, but nothing came out. He swallowed once, hoping his voice would not fail.


The one word he spoke was filled with every emotion he'd ever felt.

He took a hesitant step forward.

She shook her head. "Please don't, Erik."

He halted his movements immediately. It seemed like a lifetime had passed since he'd last heard her voice.

He wanted to ask how she'd known where he was, or how she'd found him, but both questions would be superfluous. She was here now, with him. That was all he cared about. Everything else was behind him for the moment.

"I wasn't sure you'd be here when I arrived," she admitted.

For a second, he thought she would smile, though she only continued to look at anything but him. There was so much to say and yet nothing at all.

"Why -" His voice broke on the word.

Her gaze finally met his, guilt swimming in her chocolate brown eyes. A single tear rolled down her pale cheek. "I'm sorry," she said breathlessly. Christine turned her back on him and stepped back towards the boat.

"Wait," he pleaded, rushing forward. His hand caught her wrist. "Please."


She froze when his skin came into contact with hers.

Erik seized his chance.

"Why are you here, Christine?" he demanded, grabbing her other arm and turning her so that she fully faced him. Anger was beginning to boil just below the surface.

"I. . . ." She trailed off, struggling for words. Why had she come? "I - I came because I want you to understand."

His jaw clenched. "Understand what, exactly?"

She did not flinch at his harsh tone. It was hard to think when he was staring at her so intently, so desperately. She knew he was searching for answers he would not find. Christine stared at her feet.

The heat was rising alarmingly at a rate he could not control. His grip on her arms tightened. "What do you want me to understand?"

She closed her eyes as tight as they would go.

And suddenly her lips were on his.

Shock stunned him, but only briefly. It wasn't long before he was kissing her back.

Every question was answered, every thought countered with one of her own. Her lips became urgent against his, and Erik could not help but imagine that she desired him, even for that one second in time. . . .

Then the blissful feeling was gone; she had pulled away.

"I'm sorry," she whispered. "Forgive me."

He no longer had any hold on her. She stepped back into the boat and pushed off the rocky surface. She gave him one final, meaningful glance, and was gone.

Erik realized his hand was outstretched, reaching for the place where Christine had disappeared.

She had come to ask him to forgive her for all the pain she had caused him, to tell him she was sorry for all she'd put him through. . . . And he'd told her he understood, that he forgave all she had done to undo him.

But he would never forget.

He stood there for the longest time, staring at the open gate. Somehow he knew he'd never see her again.

A life without Christine was not a life at all, and loving her would surely kill him.