Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters *sob sob* they belong to Leroux and ALW. Most of the titles are taken from lyrics to the musical.

I'm making no money from this, my muse is just DEMANDING that I must write it regardless.

A/N:  I hate computers.  MY laptop crashed and I had to reboot, so ALL my writing is lost.  I managed to resurrect this story and, reading through, decided it needed a re-write, and so here it is!

Some good news though – I'M GOING TO SEE PHANTOM ON JANUARY 6th!!  (Just a little excited!!!)

Anyway, one with the story…  


                                                                                     The Truth Isn't What You Want To see

Returning

Christine Daaé felt preoccupied as she entered the Opera Populaire through a door known only to the performers. She craved concealment, admitting inwardly that it wouldn't take a great deal to shatter the ounce of confidence responsible for this impromptu journey from the vast sprawling estate that she and Raoul now called 'home'.   His image clouded her mind's eye for a moment, those honest and open blue eyes, the wide smiling mouth.  She knew what she was doing was inexcusable, how could she even think about causing so much unrest, stirring up the past once again.  She knew she had no right to play with other people's lives, to be the cause of so much potential hurt, and yet still she continued, deeper into the opera house she had once loved so dearly…

{@~::~::~::~::~::~::~@}

She'd never envisaged returning, not after all that had played out the last time she performed on the very stage she was now faced with as she watched through the partially open doors, screened from view of the oblivious performers, who were engrossed in rehearsal for the evening's performance.

She relived with pleasure the hours she and Meg had passed during similar rehearsals; how they'd laughed and joked, crafting wild and fictitious tales to alleviate the boredom that so often prevailed. Many a time they'd incurred the pseudo-wrath of Madame Giry, as she urged them to focus on their lines and dance routines, often seeming to restrain the smile that crossed her own lips.

Life had seemed so simple then, so innocent, and she'd taken it for granted, living an unknown dream that was soon to resemble a nightmare.

She sighed wistfully, realising that the reception she received when her presence was discovered on this occasion was unlikely to echo those of the old days.
She'd fled from the opera in the midst of mayhem, largely of her own creation, without so much as a thank you or farewell to any of her friends. She'd deemed this irresponsible at the time, but felt she had no other often.  She'd believed that there would be people who would worry for her safety, who would long for confirmation of her well being, and yet she'd never had the courage to provide it, even months afterwards.
She'd cut all ties with the Paris opera house after the catastrophic events of two years ago, largely through fear. She had feared that if her location was revealed she might unwittingly become the centre of a certain individual's intense attentions once more, and, in the aftermath of the pain and destruction these attentions had caused once, it had proved a bleak prospect, and one to be avoided at all costs.

And so she remained lost to all at the Opera Populaire, whilst keeping up with events there through the Paris grapevine. She knew that Carlotta had departed not long after the first and only performance of Don Juan Triumphant; the pain at losing Piangi had driven her almost mad, and escape had seemed the only reasonable solution at the time. Little had been heard of her since that night, although it was assumed that she'd returned to her native Spain to recover from her loss.

It was rumoured that her parting words had been of venom and retribution against the Soprano who she deemed to be the cause of her downfall. How much of the tale was true and how much complete speculation Christine had never endeavoured to find out. She couldn't possibly feel any more guilt at her part in events that had caused others to lose so much that they held dear. Oh yes, the cost of rebuking the Phantom had been high, and to more than just herself.

Christine stalled for only a moment as she recalled that dreadful resounding scream as the police and the audience had realised that a man had been murdered almost before their eyes. She relived the tumultuous uproar, as the audience became a seething mass of panic, clamouring for the doors, the anger and hatred of those who'd joined together to seek out the so called 'Opera Ghost' and exact revenge for the needless murders he'd committed.

Was she really justified in returning here, in trying to rake up the past again? The question troubled her. She'd asked herself at least a thousand times, and had yet to provide a suitable response.
She could think of many people who wouldn't thank her for rubbing salt into old wounds, and yet, despite such musings she knew that once and for all she had to find the answers to the endless questions that haunted her in her sleep and troubled her waking moments.

When she'd left, trading darkness for light once and for all, it was only a shadow of the intense realisation that it would become, that element of doubt gnawing at her tired and terrified mind, that maybe forsaking Erik wasn't the best course to take. 

Since then it had grown and spiralled until it threatened to engulf her future happiness entirely.  Erik haunted her thoughts daily. 

She assumed he had died, and for that she felt intense and lasting regret.  In lucid, waking moments, swathed in the seductive mystery of twilight she'd relived their kiss, that fire of passion that claimed her soul for the moment they were coupled.  All while Raoul slept on oblivious at her side.

Guilt and remorse, and an undeniable sense of loss conflicted in her mind until she knew she would certainly go insane if she didn't find closure for all that had happened, and so, as though called by the angelic voice of the past, she had returned to the scene of her turmoil.