clockgirl191 – Thank you for the review.

Down Once More

It took a second for Christine to comprehend that a gunshot had gone off. However, she watched in horror as Erik jerk forward, golden eyes flashing with pain and rage. He almost fell into her but at the last moment, his hands came up and used her to push off from. They broke apart, Christine staggering backwards and Erik lunging towards the back curtains. He disappeared behind the curtain and she got her bearing back.

No! She refused to let Erik get away from her this time!

She ran after him, ignoring the shouts behind her. One of them sounded like Raoul, but she could not be certain. Right now, her only focus was Erik. She pushed aside the back curtain and saw Erik's form going into a hidden entrance that was on the wall. Before it could close, Christine raced through it and it closed right as she got through. Panting, she looked up and spotted the end of the robe Erik was wearing at the turn of a tunnel. Determined, she followed after him.

She could tell that Erik knew she was following him because the twists and turns he used to go through were confusing Christine and she knew she was hopelessly lost. However, that only made her all the more motivated on making sure she did not lose sight of her estranged angel. The brief times she was able to see more than the end of the robe as it turned a corner she saw that Erik was holding the top of his left arm tightly with the other.

Whatever wound he got from the bullet apparently was not enough to make him slow down.

She did not know how long she raced after Erik, trying to catch up with him. It could have been minutes, it could have been hours. All she knew was that by the time they made it to the lake, she was breathing heavily as her lungs tried to get enough oxygen and her side hurt letting her know they were not. She came out of the opening and onto the shore just as Erik was pushing the boat away from the coast.

Christine lunged for the boat and was able to jump into it in time. She collapsed and the boat rocked violently for a moment. When it settled she looked up at the shocked eyes of her angel.

"What are you doing? Get out!" Erik hissed.

"I can't swim. Would you have me drown?" Christine countered, meeting his eyes unflinching.

By the blaze in his eyes, Christine worried that he would be just fine with that. But then he sighed in exasperation, and mumbled something under his breath that was too low for her to hear. He grabbed the pole and began to steer the boat to the house.

She watched him, taking in the man that she had loved for years but has not seen in almost a year. The hood of the robe was back and, while his golden eyes contained their usual intensity, his skin was paler than it used to be, and it was obvious that he had lost weight. The robe was supposed to be loose around Don Juan but on Erik it was too slack. Her heart ached at the sight. She had did this to him, her betrayal was at fault. She could only hope that Erik would allow her to speak.

They made it to the island and Erik quickly hopped out of it. He did not bother to tie the boat to its post, instead he ignored it and her, and briskly walked inside the house. Christine stayed sitting in the boat for a moment trying to decide what to do next. She had followed him without thinking but did not think about what would happen if she was successful in her trip and made it to the house with him. Then she remembered how Erik had clutched his arm as they made their way through the tunnels. She did not know what to say to him, but he had been injured, she could at least help with that.

With that decision, she got out of the boat and tied it to its post before making her way inside. Upon entering she paused at the doorway, trying to locate Erik. She also found it curious that Farren was nowhere in sight. She did not see Erik but then heard shuffling from behind a door that Christine had never been through.

Erik's room.

She went to the door and placed her hand on the doorknob, but she hesitated. She has never been inside Erik's room for a reason. He had never wanted her in there. Then she heard a hiss of pain from the other side, and pushed aside her uncertainty and opened the door.

Inside were many lite candles all around, giving the room decent lighting. There was a desk that had a scaled down model of the stage and Christine recognized the set up for a scene from Don Juan Triumphant. On the miniature stage were figurines of the employees, she recognized Carlotta and Piangi as Don Juan but it also included herself dressed as Aminta. The only other things in the room was a dresser that probably had all of Erik's clothes and a large bed that had a frame in the shape of a swan.

On the bed, Erik sat on the edge with his back to her with his arm close to a candle next to the bed. Next to him was a kit that had things for injuries and on the ground laid the discarded robe along with Erik's jacket and shirt. Christine felt her cheeks flush at the sight of a half-dressed Erik who, while skinner was still fit, but made herself clear her throat to get the man's attention.

Erik startled and turned back to her. "What—?"

"Allow me." She interrupted and pushed herself away from the wall and went to him.

She ignored his eyes watching her every movement and sat down on the bed next to him.

"I am surprised that you are even here. I would have thought you would be happy if I was to be brought to justice." Erik remarked sarcastically as Christine got a look at the wound.

She tried not to flinch at the tone, and was relieved to note that the bullet did not lounge itself in his skin, but it did scrape his arm deep enough that it would need stiches. She could do stitches. The blood was already clotting but she will still have to clean it up.

"I do not wish for your death or your capture." Christine whispered standing back up to go to the kitchen. "I must get a damp cloth to clean the wound. Where will I find one?"

She knew that Erik was staring at her but she refused to meet his eyes. Not yet.

"Left cabinet under the sink." Erik finally replied simply.

Christine nodded and went to get it. Once she retrieved what she need she walked out of the small kitchen she saw Erik out of the room sitting on the couch. When he spotted her, he shrugged.

"Better lighting out here."

Christine knew that was not the only reason, for some reason, her angel really did not like having her in his room. But she did not comment on his reasons and went back to him. As she sat down she noticed that Erik was covered in sweat and he was trembling the slightest bit.

So he is in pain, she thought guiltily. She blame all of this on herself. If she had found a way to talk to her angel sooner, he would not be sitting next to her after getting shot. If only she had told him her feelings sooner. If only she had tried harder…

She mentally shook herself. Now was not the time to berate herself, Erik needed her right now. And where in the world was Farren?

She got to work on cleaning the wound, trying to work as quickly as possible but also trying not to cause Erik unnecessary pain. When she finished cleaning the cut, Erik held out a piece of needle and thread. As she was going to take it, he grabbed her hand in his. She looked up and met his puzzled eyes.

"Why did you act differently tonight?" he inquired with a frown. "That scene…you did not act like that previously."

"Why were you there in the first place? Didn't you get my note?" Christine countered, not wanting to admit that she had acted like that on stage because she had seen it as the only opportunity she would get to be that way with him. A chance to show her desire for him, even if it was through her character. She could never be so bold in real life.

"I did but I figured it was worth the risk." Erik stated, letting go of Christine's hand and turning away.

"What was?" she probed as a way to distract him as she put the needle and thread in his arm. Erik let out a hiss, but did not move. She began to stitch the wound. She also was curious to know what could have been so important that Erik had been willing to risk his life.

Erik looked down with a weak grin. "I wanted to sing with you one last time, before I let you go completely."

Christine's breath hitched, her hand going still as her eyes got misty. She quickly forced herself to continue stitching up the cut but as she did she kept glancing up at her angel. The same who she had hurt multiple times in the course of less than a year. The man she loved but had run away from in fear at seeing his face, the same man who had been willing to forgive her everything. And even after all that, he would still risk his life to sing with her and was willing to let her go for the sake of what he believed was for her happiness.

She had to tell him her feelings now.

She finished stitching and took a pair of scissors and cut the thread.

"Angel…" she sniffed, still emotional at his confession.

Suddenly, a bell rang and Erik's head jerked up, a malicious smirk came onto his lips.

"Wait, I think, my dear, we have a guest."

Christine did not like the tone Erik's voice rapidly took on from the almost kind one he had earlier. It was too much of an abrupt contrast. Erik stood up shakily from the couch and went to the door. Worried, Christine hurried after him and when she got outside she gasped.

"Raoul!"

Raoul was at the shore by the entrance to the tunnels that led to the world above. He was panting and looked dishevel by the journey and was missing his jacket. Nada and Tyce were standing on the ground next to him.

"This is indeed an unparalleled delight!" Erik exclaimed gleefully. "I had rather hoped that you would come and now, my wish comes true. You have truly made my night!"

"Erik!" Christine gasped and he turned back to her, the golden eyes shining determinedly.

"I am forcing myself to let you go for your sake. However, I refuse to have you marry someone spineless, let us watch what the young Viscount does to be with you." Erik remarked then turned to watch Raoul across the lake.

"He's here for both of us!" Christine cried causing Erik to turn back to her.

"What are you talking about?" he asked, his lips curling downwards.

"Raoul!" Tyce stated, he was in the lake and had dived down for a few moments before coming back up. "The lake isn't deep other here! You can follow me and I'll show you where to go!"

At the sound of the otter suggesting to guide Raoul, Erik quickly turned to face them.

"Farren!" Erik called out, causing Christine to jump.

She quickly looked up to see if she would catch sight of the eagle but instead she heard a deep rumble that made Christine's blood freeze.

"I would suggest you call your companion to you, Monsieur." Erik called out as the rumbling got louder. "Farren still holds quite the grudge against you and has no problem taking it out on Tyce."

At the mention of her name, Farren finally came into view and Christine's heart broke.

"Oh, Erik." Christine whispered brokenly at the sight of the alligator, the most obvious sign that she had hurt her angel unforgivably.

At the sight of the alligator in the water a few meters away from him, Tyce immediately began swimming back to his human and Raoul hurried into the water to grab him. He was able to get to the otter before Farren and snatched him out of the water. Farren continued to growl at Raoul as he back away from the alligator. Nada was able to fly, however, and made her way across the lake and landed next to Christine.

"Erik, please stop!" Christine pleaded, going to him and grabbing the arm that was not injured. Her angel was slightly trembling causing Christine to worry about the wound.

"You said he is here for both of us. Explain." Erik commanded breathlessly instead, not taking his eyes from the three across.

"He loves us. Both of us! And we love you!" Christine cried. "We have always loved you! I for many years and him after meeting you as the ghost! When Raoul realized that his ghost and my angel were one and the same, he came to me and we decided to try to confess to you together but then everything went wrong and we never got the chance!"

"No…" Erik whispered in disbelief. His eyes were wide and he broke out of her grip to back away from her. "That is impossible! You two were going to leave because you love each other!"

"We do love each other." Christine conceded trying to sound persuasive but her heart pounded in her chest with nerves. "But we were never going to leave. To be honest, I broke my promise to you that I'll never fall in love a long time ago, because I have loved you for a long time. However, I had believed it was fine because that love would make me forgo any chance of marriage because you were already by my side. As I grew up, I began to hope that maybe I would someday be with you and be able to continue to sing for you. Then Raoul came and I'll admit that I still had feelings from him but wouldn't go against you for him. However, it turned out that he loved you as well and still contained his love for me. We both want you, if you would have us. "

"If I can confirm things." Nada joined in cautiously next to Christine. "She is not lying."

"But…" even with his mask on, Christine could tell that he was confused and having trouble wrapping his head around her confession. "My face…"

"Get away from him!" Farren's voice snarled from nowhere and suddenly there was an eight foot alligator growling at her from her position in front of Erik.

Christine quickly backed away from the angry Farren, her heart pounding now in fear. She did not think Erik would let his companion harm her, but her angel was looking so lost right now that he might not notice. Nada came to stand in front of her and she beat her wings aggressively at Farren a few times. Christine feared for her companion as well. Companions rarely fight one another, but when they do, it could have drastic outcomes for the companions and the humans. Companions only fought as a last resort and it was only in order to protect their human.

Christine could not let that happen.

She began to make her way to Erik, cautiously since Farren was still looking ready to pounce at any moment. Nada followed after her, keeping her eyes completely focused on the alligator. As she went, Christine called to Erik.

"Beautiful creature of darkness, what kind of life have you known." Christine whispered to him with a melody wrapped around her voice, watching her angel stiffen at her words. Farren did not attack her so she was able to stand in front of Erik. He was looking down and away from her but as she reached out towards him, he flinched and stared at her warily.

"You do realize that I was bound to this dismal place for a reason." Erik stated bitterly. "Not for any mortal sin, but for the appearance of my abhorrent face. Are you sure you could spend an eternity of it before your eyes."

"Erik, I love you." Christine whispered back with a sad grin. "God give me the strength to show you, you are not alone."

She reached out for his mask again and this time was able to take it off. She was surprised that her angel had given in so easily but was not going to let his show of trust in her pass. She stared at her angel's face for a second time. She took in the deformed face without blinking and he stared back at her. When she smiled, he blinked at her.

"Your first reaction—" Erik started in disbelief.

"This haunted face holds no horror for me now." She declared, reaching her hand out to his face but stopping a couple inches away. "It is your soul where your true beauty lies …"

And with those words, she cupped his face and brought it down to her, kissing him for a second time.

This! Was supper long! And this and the next chapter were supposed to be one! Anyway, hoped everyone enjoyed it. Did anyone really think I would kill Erik after all this? There's a reason I didn't put Major Character Death in the summary. We are also coming to a close. There's one more chapter left and then an epilogue chapter. How many of you were able to find all the lyrics? ;) Next chapter is in Raoul's POV. See ya next time.