Disclaimer: If you still have to ask if I own the Phantom characters, something's wrong with you. I DO, however, own another new character who appears in this chapter, Charles Adams, Meg's fiancée.

A/N: I know, I know… no update, yeah, yeah, yeah. But I'm a drama major--Tisch kids have a thousand times more work to do than anyone else at NYU (except maybe Stern… if you know NYU, you know what I mean). It's hard to find enough time to watch Angel once a week let alone write! There's rehearsals until one AM, papers, lines to memorize, voice and speech warm-ups… Okay, I'll stop talking about this. It's irrelevant.

On a different note, I was re-reading some of the reviews to this story, and I noticed one that I don't think I ever acknowledged. Someone asked awhile ago, "Christine's a blonde?" The answer is, yes. See, here's my logic. I really try to have my phiction stem off of the original novel. Now, this story is kind of a blend between the original novel, the musical and Phantom by Susan Kay. I felt like I didn't have enough elements of the original novel, what with Erik wearing the half-mask, the presence of Nadir, and the manager's names being a few of the major elements I took from the other sources. So I added a few little elements of the original novel to my story. Christine's hair color, for instance, is blonde in the book. Now I, along with most people, do envision Christine as a brunette just because of the musical, but, in fact, she was a blonde, so I wrote that into the story as a reference to the original novel. Make sense?

If you have any other questions about the story (not 'what's going to happen next' because I can't explain that J but more along the lines of 'so, wait, I'm still confused about what exactly happened in chapter 8') because I know that some people are confused by it, leave a question in the review or email me your question and I'll get back to you (I'm much better responding to my emails than I am updating!). If you're a confused about what the whole dual-world thing is and how that will work out, just sit back and wait. We're almost there.

Chapter Ten

An Evening Out

The joy within her breast exploded as Christine opened her eyes and found herself in Erik's house once again. She flung herself off the bed and threw herself towards the door. Christine had no idea what she was going to say to Erik, but she knew she had to see him now. Ecstasy flowed through her veins as she turned the doorknob, anxious to see her husband. Anxious though she was, she was still startled to see the tall, dark figure on the other side of the threshold as the door swung open. She let out a small scream of surprise and the man on the other side of the door stepped back in an uncharacteristic moment of shock. Christine's gasp melted into laughter, joyous, infectious laughter. Erik stared at her for a moment, confused, but eventually he began to laugh as well. Christine lowered herself to the floor, fully giving in to gravity and Erik sat down next to her. She looked at him, tears in her eyes from laughing so hard, and took his hand in hers. They remained there for a few more moments, their chests moving sharply up and down, punching out the beautiful, harmonious sound of their joy.

Eventually, the sound died down and they sat together, joined by their hands, in silence. "I had a feeling you would be awake," Erik said, his eyes expressing both happiness and concern.

"Yes," Christine replied, once again not sure what exactly to say. How should she approach the fact that she had avoided seeing him for a month?

"I'm glad you're awake." Erik led their hands towards his body and intertwines their fingers slowly. "You slept for a month," he continued, saying (of course) the exact thing that Christine didn't want him to.

"Yes," she repeated. "But… I'm not sleeping now."

Erik's mouth turned up in a slight smile. "That's true. Do you…"

"Remember?" she finished. "no. But…I've accepted. And I missed you."

Erik's smile widened. "I missed you as well." He stood up and pulled his wife to her feet. "Well, my dear, let us have no more talk of sad things today. You are awake, you look well, you seem fine--"

"I feel wonderful, Erik! A month of rest must do some good!"

"Well in that case," he continued, a bubble of laughter escaping from between his lips, "we must celebrate! Anything in the world, Christine. You name it, I'll make it happen!"

"What do I need from the world? I need nothing more than what's in this very house," she said, broadening her smile. "But I would like to visit the Opera--what time is it? What day is it? Is there a show on now?"

Erik laughed. "It's Friday, about four o'clock in the afternoon. There is plenty of time to have a nice dinner--breakfast in your case--and be seated in Box Five long before the curtain goes up at eight."

"Erik!" Christine sighed gleefully, pressing her hands together. "I'm sure we'll have a wonderful night." He took her by the shoulders and kissed her forehead.

"Now, my dear, you must change into your Opera clothes while I prepare us a marvelous feast." He turned to leave the bedroom.

"Erik--" Christine called to him, and he looked back. "I'm sorry to have worried you." His eyes glittered from beneath the mask as the right side of his face moved upwards in a soft smile..

"Don't be," he replied. "Suddenly I'm not worried anymore."

A few hours later, Christine and Erik were standing in a line (yes, a line--could you believe it!) to congratulate Meg after the Opera. It had been a wonderful show--Christine's understudy had pulled off her part splendidly (although Erik did not think so. "I tried to persuade M. Reyer to let me give her private lessons, but he said 'No, no! Madame has never missed a show." Shows how much he knows. Another year or two in the conservatory would've suited her well, horrid as that school may be."). Meg's dancing seemed especially superb tonight, perhaps because she was dancing for her fiancée. Christine assumed that was who the man next to Meg was. Their arms were linked quite comfortably and Meg kept leaning her head into his shoulder. Yes, it was undoubtedly her fiancée--what was his name again? Charles something--the American writer. Ah, and he looked the part, too. His short blonde hair seemed to have been taught to look unkempt, a lesson only Americans were suited to teach. His eyes were a soft blue and so large they seemed to overtake his face. On his lips he wore a bright, naïve smile that could only belong to a fool or someone in love. Christine liked him already.

As the young man with the childish grin conversed with a couple in the front of the line, Meg's attention wandered and she caught Christine's eye. The little ballerina let out a high-pitched yell (which startled her companion) and rushed down the line.

"Christine!" she yelled, and threw her arms around her friend's neck. "Oh, I have been so worried! I knew you were sick--Forgive me for not coming to visit you, but I did not want to disturb--Oh, but you look so good! Are you feeling better? Charley? Charley, come quick! Look who has risen from the depths to see us! Charley!"

He was already at her side by the last call of his name. "Yes, darling, I'm here." He turned to Christine. "Christine," he said, kissing her hand, "how nice to see that you are well again. I hope a spectacular return to the stage is being planned as we speak." Christine noted how they were on a first-name basis as he then shook Erik's hand. "Bonjour, Erik, how goes everything?"

"Very well, Charles, thank you. And you?"

"Wonderful. A little tired," he added, turning toward his fiancée with a smile, "but still wonderful."

"We have been in a non-stop whirlwind of parties and dinners with extended family--but of course it has all been enjoyable, hasn't it, darling?" Meg asked.

"Any time I get to spend with you is more than enjoyable, my little girl," Charles (M. Adams, that was his name!) replies, bringing her hand slowly to his lips. The betrothed couple embraced with their eyes as they could not in public. Erik looked at Christine and raised his eyebrow as his mouth twitched uncontrollably into a hidden smile. Christine held her laughter back but touched his arm gently in relation.

"Well, Charley," Meg said, "we really do have to get back to this line of well-wishers here." She turned her attention to Erik and Christine. "May we look forward to spending more time with you tonight? Perhaps a late dessert?"

"Well…" Christine hesitated and turned towards Erik. He caught her look and finished her thought for her.

"Christine has only very recently made her convalescence and it would perhaps not be the best time for her to take a late night out." Meg's face fell and she opened her mouth to speak out in protest, but her fiancée interceded.

"Yes, that makes sense," Charles said, and then turned to Meg. "My dear, we can see them later. Tonight is not the end of all nights."

The four parted ways, Meg and Charles back to the front of their reception line and Erik and Christine to their home underground. They took the long route home, by way of the mirror in Christine's dressing room. The couple walked in pleasant silence, each consumed by their own thoughts. Christine's heart thumped powerfully. She wanted so badly to tell Erik what was on her mind, and what was on her mind was the utter and simple fact that whatever hesitation she had before had vanished and all that remained now was the truest love she had ever felt. If she had known love for Raoul, it wasn't like this. If she had loved Erik before, it was only a preview to the cloak of emotion she felt now which embraced every part of her body and soul. She wanted to tell him, but in silence she found comfort. It is not easy to be completely quiet with someone; had she been with Raoul it would have been awkward and both of then would've been struggling to find something to say quickly. Yet with Erik there was the appreciation and mutual respect of each other's private thoughts. The feel of his arm through her gloved hand, resting in his crooked arm, the slight sound of fabrics rubbing against each other as he walked, and the tender glances he gave her were more than enough to make her understand that words weren't necessary right now.

They didn't speak until they were once again in the house and Erik said, extending his hand to Christine, "Your cloak." She took it off, handed it to him and followed him as he entered their room to hang it up.

"It really was a lovely performance," Christine said, opening the discussion. It was not the subject that she wanted to talk about, but was as good a place as any to start.

"Yes," Erik replied, facing the wardrobe and taking off his own cloak. "It would have been better if you were in it," he continued, turning to give her a smile, "but it was just fine."

"What were you thinking of as we walked back here?" she asked, with a playful smirk on her face. She peeled her gloves off her hands and placed them in their drawer.

He laughed. "What I always think about. You."

Tilting her head slightly upwards, she replied, "Surely you can't be always thinking of me, monsieur." He walked over to her and placed both of his hands on her arms.

"More often than many would think possible." He kissed her on her forehead. Their eyes met and she tried to tell him without embarrassing words exactly what she wanted from him. She was beginning to lean forward into him when he spoke again, halting her efforts. "But now is not the time to talk--you must be exhausted after being out for so long. I will see you tomorrow morning. Goodnight, my dear." He turned away from her and walked toward the door.

"Erik," Christine called quickly. When he faced her, she pulled her hair over one shoulder and turned her back to him. "Will you help me out of my dress?"

With a knowing smile on his lips, he walked forward to her once again and began unbuttoning her dress. Leaning forward, he said, with a laugh, "I do believe you are trying to seduce me, madam."

She turned quickly to look into his eyes once again and, within half a second, the mask was off in her hand and their lips pressed together feverishly. Her arms encircled his neck and the fingers of her right hand searched through his hair as his hands pressed her into him. Their hearts beat against each other, each soaring with the passion that filled them. It was one of those moment where the brain stops thinking completely and nothing exists other than the sense of touch.

Of course, moments cannot last forever, and Erik's brain, being the stronger one, began reasoning again first. He pulled away quickly and, with his breath slightly too heavy, said, "My dear, do you not feel that you have exerted yourself far too much already tonight?"

Christine knew what she was doing, though, and continued to flirt without holding anything back. "Surely you do not think me spent yet, Erik?" Erik, however, was not playing any longer. He smiled sadly at her and gently took his mask back from her.

"Christine, I… cannot… I--" Knowing he was about to reject her, she interrupted him with a mixture of stubbornness and desperate passion.

"Erik, do not let me sleep alone in our bed one more night!" She placed her hands on his face and brought her cheek to his. "You must know how much I love you, how much I've missed you… I wanted to show you, to prove--"

"There's nothing you need to prove to me, Christine."

"It's not just that! I need you. I need you there, with me. If nothing else, to just hold me. I don't want to be lonely, as I am without you."

He hesitated, looking deeply at her. Her words had obviously affected him, but he was afraid, that was all evident. Their past had repeated itself more than once and he would do anything to prevent it from happening again.

"Alright," he whispered to her. "But, Christine… you know why… why I just cannot--"

"Yes, I do. I understand. But, Erik, there's no need to be afraid. I am not." He kissed her again, this time less passionately but hardly with less feeling behind it. Not another word was needed to be spoken as they dressed in their bed clothes, nor as they got into bed. That night, Christine fell asleep peacefully in Erik's arms for the first time she could remember and Erik fell asleep holding her as he hadn't done in what felt like an eternity.

A/N: So, you like it? You hate it? If you couldn't tell, I kinda got a little sick of having Christine not DOING anything, just lying in bed and thinking. So, I changed that. She's allowed some fun, playfulness, sexuality, right? They are married. For a couple lines though, I just kept thinking about Blanche DuBois (Streetcar Named Desire, if you don't know-go read it!) and I definitely didn't want that! So… please review. As always, I am sorry for the delay--I try, I do! I just get… stuck…sometimes. You all know how it is, right?