A/N: Hello, all! New fandom! :D I was in the Across the Universe fandom, but the whole RPF thing got to be too much, so I moved those stories to a different forum.

This is my first attempt at a POTO fic, as I am a relatively new "phan", so please be nice! I think I've kept the Phantom in character as much as possible but like I said, I'm new to this fandom. This story is a combination of the musical, (drawing more from the 25th anniversary one) Susan Kay's novel, and my imagination.

"Go now and leave me!" The words were torn from his throat painfully, as though coated with the sharpest of barbs. Christine. Images of the lovely prima donna with the haunting voice flooded the Phantom's brain. The love he felt for her was tearing him in two; he wanted her there with him but he couldn't bear to see her unhappy and it would be assured that a life beneath the Opera Populaire would make her miserable. The Phantom considered his existence to be akin to a living death and he wouldn't wish that fate on anyone.

Except maybe that thrice-accursed Vicomte de Chagny. The man, the untarnished, untainted, wholesome, handsome man that had ultimately won Christine's heart. It was obvious that they were deeply in love and that devilish little emotion was rooted so deeply in them that the Phantom knew nothing he said or did was going to change it. But a little inkling that Christine felt something for him kept niggling at the back of his mind.

When she left, the Phantom's heart shuddered and jerked in his chest in an apparent attempt to follow the young woman who had so completely captured it. He truly felt as though he might die. When she came back he was in disbelief. However, he was sufficiently in command of his mental functions to be able to tell Christine that she must leave and also one final thing.

"Christine, I love you."

Christine. She was gone for good now. She wasn't coming back.

"Christine!" The pained thoughts became audible in an anguished wail as the Phantom staggered in a grief-induced haze over to the one thing that had once been his saving grace. His organ. Now music was nothing but a painful reminder of his shattered heart. With a burst of maniac strength, the Phantom brought his hands crashing down on the keys of the instrument, shattering them. Those same hands next found the sheet music that the Phantom had previously dedicated his life to and ripped them to unrecognizable shreds. They rained down on the ruined organ like the first handfuls of dirt on a new grave. At that moment, the Phantom made an oath that music would never again permeate his life. It simply held far too many painful memories.

The Phantom turned from the wreckage and swept to his room, hot, salty tears leaking from his eyes. On the right side, the disfigured side, they ran both over and under the porcelain mask. He couldn't feel much of anything on that side, but he most certainly had felt it when Christine had ever so gently caressed it.

A needle already filled with that sweet release from the horrors that characterized the Phantom's life that went by the name of morphine laid on the corner of his writing desk. He expertly wrapped a tourniquet around his arm, slid the needle under his skin, and emptied the contents into his bloodstream. Waiting for the blissful calm to overcome him, the Phantom lowered himself into his black satin covered bed. Ayesha, his beautiful Siamese cat and at times his only true companion, leapt up onto the bed and curled up against her beloved master, purring comfortingly. She hated to see her master upset and could usually make him brighten up somewhat with her antics, but her instincts warned her that simply being there would suffice this time.

The Phantom laid on his bed in a drugged daze, allowing time to slip by without rhyme nor reason. But up above him in the Opera Populaire, life was one large, hectic jumble.

"Excuse me madame, pardon me Monsieur!" Juliet Leroux slipped between the hysterical masses of people with many apologies. All she wanted to do was get back to her dressing room and decompress after all the excitement that had just taken place. She had seen Christine Daeé and her fiancé Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny run through the Opera House in a terrified sprint, hail the nearest carriage, and order it away from the building at top speed. Juliet wondered what had frightened them so.

She arrived at her dressing room and entered it quietly. Her costume from the ill-fated Don Juan Triumphant was heavy and uncomfortable so she shed it immediately in favor of an old, careworn, royal blue gown. Juliet combed back her stick-straight, jet black hair out of her eyes and held it in place with a jewel encrusted comb that was a present from her father on her sixteenth birthday. She paid special care to make sure her hair yet concealed her left brow bone.

Suddenly weary, she sank into a cosy armchair and enjoyed a few minutes of peaceful rest. When she awoke, it came to her attention that she had left her best perfume backstage near the curtain pulls before going onstage. Juliet exited her dressing room and headed in that direction. Mere feet away from her destination, the floor appeared to open beneath her feet and she found herself falling helplessly down a corridor of blackness that seemed to have no end. Her heart flew into her throat and her mouth opened in a silent scream of terror.

Endless moments passed before Juliet landed with a resounding thud on a soft surface. She struggled to her feet and waited for her eyes to adjust to the dim light.

The sound of water lapping at the edge of a lake echoed faintly in her ears. So, the rumors are true. There really is an underground lake beneath the Opera Populaire, she thought in wonder. But how...

Her eyes had begun to adjust to the oppressive darkness, partially due to the candles stationed everywhere. In a very dark way, the place was, there was no other word for it, beautiful. The person who had designed it obviously had a marvelous eye for detail. Juliet's heart had stilled somewhat after her frightening fall, but a growl from the shadows made it go double-time all over again.

Who knows what creatures lurk here? Juliet thought somewhat hysterically. Her hands began to shake and tremble like two saplings in a thunderstorm. Footsteps approached where she stood.

The morphine had started to leave the Phantom's bloodstream, bringing him reluctantly back into reality, when Ayesha suddenly stiffened, delicate ears pricked forward in intent listening. She uttered a soft growl of warning deep in her throat.

"What is it, my darling?" the Phantom asked in concern, reaching over to the agitated feline to stroke her back. She shied away from his hand, an infrequent occurrence, and jumped down from the bed in a fluid motion. He sat up, his own keen ears straining to detect any foreign noises. After a minute, he heard the tentative footsteps walking in his lair. A surge of rage flooded the Phantom's body; how dare this unknown person intrude upon the lair of the Opera Ghost? He got to his feet and instantly a Punjab Lasso was in his hands.

He silently exited his room, fury simmering in his eyes, and stalked in the direction from whence the noise was coming. When the intruder came into view, the Phantom was mildly surprised to see one of the newer chorus girls. But no matter, an intruder was an intruder.

And intruders had to be dealt with.

Juliet had no warning whatsoever when a lithe hand closed expertly around her throat and flung her against the wall with ease.

"Who are you and why have you come?" her captor roared, his voice reverberating off of the stone walls until there seemed to be a hundred of him. He shook her until her teeth rattled and spots of blackness swam across her vision.

"P-please Monsieur, I-I have d-done nothing wrong!" she choked, her hands scrabbling futilely at his iron grip.

He tightened his hold and she gasped, squirming in pain. "Answer the question!" he commanded.

"M-my name is J-Juliet Leroux," she whispered hoarsely. "I d-do not know how I g-got here. The f-floor opened up b-backstage a-and I fell t-through." It sounded ridiculous to her ears and Juliet was certain that the man would not believe her.

The Phantom dropped Juliet to the floor, cursing his forgetfulness. He had meant to close that damned trapdoor after he had used it when he... disposed of the Buquet man. In his preoccupied state, he had forgotten. And it had cost him his secrecy and isolation.

The girl gasped and coughed, massaging her throat with her fingertips and taking heaving breaths.

"You have trespassed upon the lair of the Phantom of the Opera and seen what lies within," his voice was harsh and metallic like two pieces of steel grating against one another. The girl, Juliet, shrank back in fright. "Now you may not leave."

Juliet found her voice. "So, that's it? I'm your prisoner without any further deliberation?" Her voice was incredulous.

"I did not say that," the Phantom said, a note of irritation inserting itself into his voice. "You will have access to every room, except mine."

"But I'm not allowed to go back to the real world," she pointed out. "I hardly consider that 'free'."

" Reality is a relative concept," the Phantom replied without emotion. Juliet huffed in frustration, but soon afterward adopted a pensive countenance.

"I have yet to properly look upon the person who has confined me to this labyrinth," she said curiously. "Come into the light." It was less of a request than it was a demand.

At least she hasn't demanded I remove my mask, he thought, stepping into a ring of light cast by one of the many candles.

Juliet felt the air recently regained in her lungs expel in a gush. It was the man known only as the Phantom of the Opera, the Opera Ghost, or the Angel of music in the unique case of Christine. The one that had ruined the performance of Don Juan Triumphant and sent the chandelier crashing down on the audience.

He was extremely tall, and appeared to be even more so from Juliet's position on the floor. However, he looked to be nearing the likeness of a skeleton in terms of weight. His fingers were long, pale, and bony. A musician's hands. Her eyes traveled up to his face. A white mask concealed the right half of his face, making his expressions next to impossible to read. The half she could read was handsome and proud, but somewhat grief-stricken. His eyes were such a dark shade of brown that they looked black. Dark hair was slicked back to accommodate the tie of the mask.

"Are you satisfied?" he asked, slipping back into the shadows. Juliet gave a tiny nod, the only thing she was capable of in her shock.

"Your room is through there," he gestured at an elaborate archway. "I must go pick a few things up, I trust you will be able to amuse yourself until I return?" Before she could respond, he swept out of her sight. Juliet growled to herself in irritation.

The darkness was making her nervous, so she made her way to her new room. Oh, my, she thought in wonder when she saw the interior. The walls were a deep, royal blue, and the bedspread was similar to the feathers of a peacock in the sense that it shimmered many shades of blue when it was disturbed by movement.

Juliet flopped down on the bed, tears of frustration stinging the corners of her eyes. She had not resigned herself to this life, not yet. A few tricks lay up her sleeve still and she planned to use them.

A/N: So, was it any good? I hope so! Anyone who can tell me where I got Juliet's last name gets a virtual cookie :)

The name of this fic came to me when I was listening to Ramin Karimloo's Constant Angel from his Human Heart album.