*claps* Oooh, we get to start right in the action! Yaay!
Erik continued to pace along the perimeter of the chandelier. "Erik!" He turned to see Charlotte rushing towards him, her mother's robe billowing behind her, Gustave clinging tightly to her hand.
"Children—" He didn't say it alone. Raoul was right behind them. Erik looked at Giovanni and jerked his head in Raoul's directing. Giovanni grinned and slipped out his machete, slicing along Raoul's back.
"No!" Charlotte blurted, turning back towards her father in horror. Erik knew he had to act quickly.
"You've succeeded all my plans."
"More than you could say for Amber," Giovanni snorted.
"More than I could say for you or your just as worthless brother!" Erik spat. Damn, it felt good to say that.
"We just want to get our cure," Gustave whimpered.
"And I promise to deliver,"Erik replied, taking a step towards his son and reaching out his hand.
"Don't you lay a hand on them," Raoul rasped from the ground.
"Hold your tongue before an elder!"`Erik spat.
"Touch them and I swear I'll kill you!"
"Bring it on, you cheap impostor!" At a signal from Erik, Reza and Daroga jabbed their shockers into Raoul's back. It was time. The curtain parted behind him and he turned still speaking. "Even though I'm terminally ill." Everyone stared at him blankly. "I'm dying, you idiots."
Charlotte's head was spinning. She could barely process everything in her mind. What was going on?
"Ending you will be my pleasure," her father hissed, struggling to rise.
"We no longer trust you, dad," she replied, struggling to stay calm.
"You can never trust a monster," Petrie said, wrapping an arm around her. She tried to wriggle away, remembering what Gerard had told her. She did not want her face going over Petrie's.
"And there's more beneath his mask," Erik interrupted, shepherding her away from his son.
"Mask," Charlotte repeated. Something was tugging at the edges of her memory. Her mother's voice….
"Did you know he killed your mother?"
"What?" Gustave's voice rose in alarm.
"That was just an accident!"
"Accidents don't end in murder."
"And that's not his greatest fib!"
"Someone, tell us, what is going on?" Charlotte demanded, breaking free of Erik's grip and running to her brother.
"Tell them! Tell them!" Erik shouted, and the audience took up the chant. "Tell them! Tell them! Tell them! Tell them! Tell them! Tell them! Tell them! Tell them!"
"No! No more!" Her father's shoulders sagged in defeat and a slow vampiric smile spread across Erik's face.
"May I introduce you to the man who made you sick? He's poisoned all your medicine." The guards stabbed her father again and Charlotte felt a stab in her gut.
"I can't breathe…" Gustave gasped, clutching at the sides of her robe. Charlotte, too, was beginning to feel the symptoms. Her knees buckled and she began to fall backwards.
"You've got to fight through it," Erik's velvety voice whispered, his hands wrapping tightly around her arms.
"Someone, please, please, help my children!" It was getting hard to hear her father.
"Need our pills," Gustave croaked, dropping onto his knees.
"We'll be okay…."
"It's not your fault, it's me who's failed you…"
"It's his medicine…"
"I'm the cause of all your sickness." If more was said, neither of the children heard it. Gustave collapsed on the ground, and Charlotte fell backwards into Erik's arms.
TEN YEARS PREVIOUS
"Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!" Seven-year-old Charlotte ran into her parents' bedroom, chocolate hair flying behind her.
"Sweetheart," Christine smiled at her daughter and opened her arms. "Come here." Charlotte eagerly hopped onto the bed and snuggled into her mother's arms. "Daddy just called. He should be home from work soon."
"And then he's gonna make us all better, right?"
"That's right." Christine looked out the window and paled for a minute. "Sweetie… go get the door, then go to your room, okay?"
"But I don't want to leave you and the baby alone."
"We'll be fine, I promise. Just go." Charlotte had never heard such a stony tone in her mother's voice before. She headed back down the stairs and opened the door. The white masked face from TV stared down at her.
"Um… hi, Mr. Destler."
"Little Charlotte. Growing prettier every day, I see."
"And your mother is upstairs, I presume?"
"Yes." She ran back upstairs before his creepy eyes could pierce her anymore. From the safety of her bedroom, she pulled out a stethoscope she'd snuck from her father and pressed it against the wall.
"You have a lot of nerve coming here, Erik."
"Christine… Angel, please…"
"NO! I'm through listening to you!"
"Is this because of—"
"It's never been about that, and you know it! It's YOU, Erik! You're not the man I once agreed to marry, you're someone much worse. You've become a monster."
"Give me one more chance—"
"The last time you said that, I ended up p...pinned under you and feeling like a utter idiot! Now, go before Raoul comes back!"
"Oh, and we all know what a terrible thing that would be!"
"Erik, stop it!"
"Tell me you don't love me and I'll go, Christine. But remember, I can make your life hell."
"Every moment you spend in here is hell! Now, get out of my home."
"So be it." Charlotte heard his footsteps along the hall and then her mother's voice.
"Lotte, put the stethoscope down and come here." Her ears turned bright red as she came in. "I don't want you telling your father what you've heard tonight. Now, listen to me. This world is a dangerous place now, because people like Erik are able to hide behind masks."
"Yes, masks. Erik wears a mask that covers not only a ruined face, but a ruined soul. He used to be a very good and kind person, but not anymore. And I want you to promise me something."
"What is it?"
"Promise me that you will never let anyone too near your heart until you know what lies behind their mask."
"Daddy!" Charlotte squealed, running down the stairs into her father's arms.
"Sweetheart. Amour. And baby," Raoul laughed, kissing his daughter's hair, followed by his wife's lip, and then her stomach. "I think I've got it. We're going to fix you both up so you'll be perfect."
"Cause you're the most smartest doctor ever, right, Daddy?" Raoul laughed again, ruffled her hair and picked her up.
"That's right, so why don't we go downstairs so I can make you all better?"
"Raoul, don't encourage her. Bad grammar is a bad habit," Christine chided, slowly making her way down the stairs to the lab, gripping the railing tightly.
"Can I really help spoiling my girls?"
"Oh, I suppose not." Christine ran her fingers along the vials. "So, what's the breakthrough?"
"These." Charlotte watched in awe as her father's hands moved like lightning, mixing chemicals together. After a few moments, he double-tapped the beaker and smiled. "Ready?"
"Bottoms up," her mother said, kissing his cheek and tipping down the liquid in one gulp. Her eyes bulged and she started coughing up blood. "What… what's happening?"
"Charlotte, stay back!" Raoul yelled, catching Christine as she fell backwards.
"Daddy, what's wrong?"
"GO! NOW! Call for help!" Charlotte ran back upstairs, and grabbed the phone, dialing the three numbers. 9-1-1….
"It's my mommy! She drank something my daddy made, and now she's really sick! Please, please, hurry!"
"Um…. Alright…" Charlotte hung up, just as a spasm of coughing wreaked her body and she passed out.
Her eyes slowly flickered open. She was lying on a little gondola shaped bed, Gustave unconscious on the ground in the pool of Meg's blood. She slowly raised herself up, trying to muffle the pounding of her head as old memories rushed in. She remembered everything. She slowly lowered her feet to the ground and tried to stand. She felt Erik's hands clamp down on her again and whisper in her ear. "Your mother once promised her love to me. Had she never fled, you would have been mine, too."
"Too?" Gustave groaned, turning over so he could sit up.
"Gustave…" Erik left Charlotte's side to help him up gently. "MY son."
"No… that would mean…" Charlotte gasped. "That night… I remember now…My mother… you hurt our family."
"Charlotte. Just because your mother was a fool does not mean you have to be. What do you owe your father, really? What has he ever done for you?"
"I won't let you hurt our family again! Get away from my brother! NOW!" Erik's face hardened.
"Charlotte, don't be stupid."
"Didn't you hear me, you masked freak?" she screamed, running up at him and tearing the mask away from his face. Everyone in the audience screamed. Erik looked her with absolute venom. "Oh, my God…"
"A little bitch just like her mother, aren't we?" he snarled, striking her to the side. "Another disappointment!"
"And you're a monster."
"Only because the world has made me so. If you don't want this, then shut up."
"Dick," she muttered, trying to brush the blood off her robe.
"Gustave. Listen to me. Deny the person who has only ever lied to you, who has only hurt you, for the world to see. Kill him." He pressed a gun into her little brother's hands.
"KILL HIM!" Giovanni yelled gleefully.
"No…" Charlotte and Gustave whispered in mutual horror.
"And I'll leave you GeneCo."
"What?" This time, Charlotte's squeak of surprise was synchronized with Giovanni's.
"All of it?" Petrie wailed.
"So, witness it, people! All I have to do is sign the paper! All he has to do is pull the trigger! I want you to do what is right! This man killed your mother!"
"You… want...him...to...kill...my father? You want him to kill our father, you want him to kill!" Charlotte yanked the gun out her brother's hand and pointed it at Erik. "No! We are not murderers!"
"But it is in your genetics! What if it's been passed to you?"
"We don't have to share your choices!" she spat, shoving the gun into his hands, and grabbing Gustave's hand.
"Didn't you say you were infected? Didn't you? DIDN'T YOU?"
"Don't look back. We're leaving," Charlotte urged, squeezing his hand.
"Char!" She had to look back now… it was her father… "I poisoned you. I'm worse than Erik, imprisoned you… I couldn't lose you! What have I done? Forgive me, children, I drugged your blood… Oh, God, what have I done to you?"
Most people have a breaking point, and for Charlotte, this was it. Seeing her father so shattered, being compared to her mother more times in twelve hours than in the past ten years, getting slammed around by a man who looked like he had a burnt pizza on his face, and having her memories returned … she'd had enough. She snatched the gun back, and clenched it in both of her fists. "You used our mother's death to use our father! You'd use my father's death to use us, too!"
"Your dad deserved whatever happened to him! He needed me and so do you!"
"I remember…" Raoul rasped out. "Remember my mistakes, remember you can change! Remember that I love you! I'm sorry that I've failed you! Remember that it's up to you to go and shape your life into one that's worthy of remembering!"
"SHUT UP!" Erik yelled. The lights flickered out and Charlotte felt the gun get yanked out of her hands.
"NO!" she screamed as a gun shot rang out. Her father grunted in pain, and her instincts kicked in as she rushed to help him. "Dad, no! Daddy, please, don't leave me! I'm sorry! Daddy!"
"Ungrateful idiots… money-grubbing beggars! Get out of here!" Erik was coughing now and Charlotte felt a bitter sense of justice that he was dying the same way her mother had. "I don't need you, any of you! You disgust me! And you! You're not my daughter! Gus...tave…."
"You're not my father," Gustave said coldly. Charlotte felt his little hand on her elbow.
"The world won't remember….how lucky they were to have Erik Destler…" There was a loud thud and Charlotte let out a tiny sigh of relief. He was gone.
"Gustave. Help me… " she urged, unbuckling the straps binding her father to the chair. Raoul groaned, trying to adjust his position. "Dad, be still. There is nothing you need say… it can wait…"
"Guys… your mom… she's calling me…" He reached up to stroke her hair, and Gustave took it, singing their old lullaby.
"Sometimes, I wanted to cry when the people on TV were not quite the way we were, somehow I guess I just knew…."
Charlotte joined in softly. "But I didn't know I love you so much…. I didn't know I love you so much… I didn't know I love you so much, but I do…."
Raoul winced in pain, smiling up at them. "Sometimes, I'd stay up all night, wishing to God that I was the one who'd died, sometimes there's not enough time…. But I didn't know I love you so much, I didn't know I love you so much, didn't know I love you so much, but I do…."
"Didn't know we love you so much…"
"Didn't know I love you so much…"
"We didn't know we love you so much, but we do…"
Gustave shook his head. "Dad, we will not leave you here, you will live."
"But you've already saved me, kid. Now, go and change the world for me…."
Charlotte finished the song with him softly. "And we will always have each other, in our time of need…"
"You were both the world to me…" With that, Raoul's eyes glassed over, and his hand slipped down.
"DAD! DAD, NO!" Charlotte buried her face in his chest, sobbing furiously. "Daddy, please…"
"We're alone now…."
"Years…" she whispered bitterly. "It's been so many years, resenting the years and our heredity…. Oh, we have hated and loved you…. We have hidden behind you, but I finally see…" She rose slowly and confidently, and started down the stage towards the exit. "You we've mistaken for destiny, but the truth is, our legacy is not up to our genes…True, though the imprint is deep in me, it will always be up to me...up to me…"
"Oh...free at last…. Oh...free at last…." Gustave's voice joined hers as the doors opened to reveal the limo.
THE NEXT DAY
Gerard examined the newspapers, rolling his eyes. "Damn, I wish they'd all move on!"
"I know, right?" He turned to see Charlotte leaning lazily against the wall.
"Princess…. I mean, Charlotte…"
"I'd ask how you know my name, but I'm guessing it's from the tabloids," she rolled her eyes, picking at her fingernails. "Honestly, the world didn't know I even existed until yesterday."
"Yeah, well, c'est la vie. So, come for your cure? Oh, wait, you never needed one."
"Hahaha, very funny," Gustave grumbled, emerging from behind his sister.
"Hey, look! It's the heir of GeneCo!"
"We're not ever letting GeneCo into our lives again," Gustave said coolly. "That's part of why we're here, Gerard."
"We're getting out of here. We've got the money and resources, all we need is a chaperone. And who better for getting off the island than the most wanted Grave Robber around?" Charlotte flipped her hair and batted her eyelashes. "Any interest in giving us a hand?"
"Oh, I'm going to give you a hell of a lot more than a hand," Gerard said, pulling her into his arms and kissing her.
GeneCo, in the absence of its legal heirs, passed into the hands of Amber Sweet. As a symbol of GeneCo's commitment to change, she auctioned off every one of her old faces to charity. The top three bidders were murdered by Giovanni, who was later committed to a mental institution, and Petrie won the auction, wearing his sister's fallen faces with pride.
Charlotte de Chagny, Gustave Destler, and Gerard Carriere apparently disappeared off the face of the earth, along with all of Blind Meg Giry's legacy. A few months later, a young singer named Jennifer Ramsey appeared in Paris as the Voice of the GeneCo Resistance, who bore a striking resemblance to the missing de Chagny. The Resistance continues to gain momentum, fighting against GeneCo's dominance over the globe and working towards a world where people will finally be free of the horror that is the Repo Man.
And so… the saga continues.
A/N: But the fic is over.