Chapter 1

There was movement in the darkness. And for the first time in so long, it wasn't coming from him. There were fumblings at the Rue Scribe entrance, and then, miraculously, it opened. His thoughts immediately went to Nadir, but no, the Persian had left Paris, exhausted by the sordid affair of trying to bring Erik back from a precipice he had too willingly flung himself off of. Perhaps Erik himself had been careless and left the entrance open. It wouldn't be surprising, given the state of his mind since-well, since he had abandoned any pretense of truly living.

As Erik stalked towards the door, trusty lasso in hand, he wondered for the thousandth time why he hadn't died yet. Lord knew he'd tried, attempting to expire through sheer force of will. But through all the years he had been a survivor, and his body refused to simply shut down on command, even occasionally forcing him to eat or sleep in his weaker moments. And perhaps, in his heart of hearts, he wasn't so eager to leave this living Hell for the one beyond. Though he hated to admit it, perhaps there was still a piece of him that couldn't bear to leave a world that still had her in it, a shred of his soul left that was afraid to die, in case it missed a chance of seeing her face or hearing her voice one last time. Certainly they wouldn't be meeting in the world beyond. She was the true angel, a fragile thing of light that was always meant for heaven. And he, he thought, as he silently stalked around upturned tables and scattered sheets of music, fingering the familiar length of rope that would gain one more victim very shortly, he had always been a creature of darkness.

She stumbled blindly through the darkness, her body too shocked to release the sobs she could feel building. She still wasn't sure if coming here was a good idea, but then again there was little room left in her mind for rational thought. All she knew was that she needed comforting badly, and this was the only place left in the world that she had ever found it. Then a terrible thought went through her. What if he wasn't here? There was little left for an Opera Ghost who had first been abandoned by his leading lady, and shortly after by the rest of the cast. But no, if she knew him at all he wouldn't be able to leave, wouldn't be able to abandon the darkness that was so rich with sighs and screams and strains of music that couldn't quite be forgotten. Just as miles away under the bright country air, she hadn't been able to truly leave either. As she felt a tightly coiled rope settle around her neck and pool over her shoulders, a moment away from being pulled tight, she knew that her fears were unfounded. Her angel was here, and suddenly it didn't matter much whether or not her life was about to end. For the first time in so very long, she felt at peace.