A Stronger Diva
What if Christine was tougher at the end of LND? How would the musical end if she was a tough Primadonna who knew precisely what she wanted? Christine has a different character than in the LND musical.
Sing a song for some manager of a theater. That was all she was doing. Earning her livelihood like she had always done. This theater was just one of the Coney Island shows but Christine had seen worse, especially open-air concerts when it was raining or she was plagued by mosquitos. At least this was a theater stage, the audience was acceptable and the fee was unusually high - it it wasn't for the person of the manager, Mr. Erik Y, the former Phantom of the Opera, she might even have enjoyed her little visit to a vaudeville stage.
She knew that man waited for her behind the stage, she saw him standing in the wings, obviously waiting to be able to meet her on her way back to the dressing room. She had to pass him, she did not know any other pathway to get to her assigned room. She wished he hadn't, for his sake. The last days and hours had been strenous to say the least, a roller coaster of emotions, and it was getting harder and harder for her not to fall out of her role as the Vicomtesse de Chagny, the perfect lady. Always being the perfect lady was such a hard job. She envied every fisherwoman who could just tell everyone precisely what she was thinking.
The way Mr. Y stood there, his arms wide spread, grinning triumphantly, completely blocking her path, made her even more furious. She had no chance to pass him. Or did he really expect her to be so overcome by emotions after singing one song that she would sink into his arms now and love him? Just how delusional and self-centered was this man? True, he was a genius, but he certainly was not capable to hypnotize her by making her sing a song. Not anymore. She did not let him.
"Not here," she told him and he immediately obeyed, letting her pass but following close behind. Well, if he insisted coming to her dressing room, she would let him do so at his own risk. She was certainly not happy or overcome with love, at least not for him.
He really followed her to the dressing room and locked the door behind himself. Great. Locked her in again.
"You were wonderful," he complimented her with a smile and a bow.
"Thank you. The song was a very good aria, you should write an opera in that style, it would be quite a success."
Erik was taken aback. He had thought of several possible outcomes, but not her staying calm, cold and strictly bussines-style. "My Christine..." he began, but she cut him off: "I am not your Christine, Mr. Y. I am the Vicomtesse de Chagny and I won't allow you any liberties calling me by my given name."
"How can you be so cold?" he asked, clearly hurt and disappointed. He suddenly reminded her of a spoiled boy who was angry not getting the toy he had wanted.
"Cold? You want me to show my emotions? Fine, but you won't like it!" Her voice changed as she allowed her fury to break through, "What did you think I would do now? Sink into your arms and swear my undying love for you? Why would I do that, after all you did to me?"
"Do not dare to tell me you did not do anything to me!" she didn't need to yell, her voice was powerful enough to express precisely what she wanted him to know. "You deceived me. Kidnapped me. Nearly killed me. Betrayed me, blackmailed me several times, threatened my son, humiliated me and worst of all left me when I needed you. Do you really think one single song - as beautiful as ist is - could make me forget all that? I may be a woman, but I am far from being demented."
"I never wanted to hurt you, I always wanted what's best for you!" Erik defended himself.
"Really? So using my naive childish faith against me pretending to be the Angel of Music, kidnapping me, blackmailing me, nearly killing me and finally leaving me was for my best? As was the current deceit and blackmail? Erik, even you can't be so narcisstic and delusional to block that out."
"But I love you!"
"No. You do not love me. Whatever it is you feel, it cannot be love. You are incapable of loving anyone, even yourself. Let me tell it in simple words, repeating for you what you did, so you understand it. You deceived me. Angel of Music - ha! I should never have fallen for that! By the way, where are your peepholes in this dressing room? The mirror? The mirror again? In all those years you did not invent something new? Do you have peepholes in all dressing rooms? Forget that, it does not matter. What really matters is that instead of trying to win my love you tried to force me through violence and blackmail. You even killed to get to me and after all that fuzz, after everything, you left me. You know, when you first let me go I was overwhelmed, I thought it a great selfless act of sacrifice - but when I came back, ready to stay with you, to spend my life with you, what did you do? You got cold feet and ran away. You did not even say goodby, you coward. That's what it was, wasn't it? Pure cowardice. Whenever you have to take responsibility, you freak out and run. You ran from me and put an ocean between us, just so you didn't have to face responsibility for your own deeds. To make it worse you deceived me again, faking your death. How did you do that? Kill some poor unfortunate man who just happened to have the same size as you have and cut away his face?"
"No..." The correct answer would be a yes. He had found a beggar suffering from syphilis, already mad and deformed from the illness. Killing that man had been a mercy, Erik had placed his clothes and mask on him and thrown him into the Seine. Better everyone believed he had died so he could start a new life. He hadn't really thought what that would do to Christine. "I left you because I was ashamed of what I was. I knew you were better off without me."
"Yes, keep telling you that!" Christine snorted, "You weren't ashamed, you were frightened. What did scare you so? The prospect of having a wife and children? Of changing nappies every three hours day and night for months? Of trying to get a picky boy to eat something else but sweets? Of waking up in your child's womit because said child had stomachache and insteadt of going to the toilet decided to wake you up first? Of getting said child to do his homework when the stubborn boy decides he doesn't need homework? Is that really so frightening? If you loved me you would have stayed that morning or taken me with you to be at my side and support me bringing up my son."
"I did not know you were with child..."
"Fine. I give you that. But you knew that I came back to you and wanted to stay. You left me. And now, ten years later, I find you lamenting how very poor and lonely you are. Did it ever occur to you that you are lonely because you are so scared of having a relationship that you run away whenever someone is willing to be with you?"
"I am not scared."
"Really? I think you are terrified. You had several chances in your life to find a woman. Madame Giry for example. She was your accomplice in Paris, risking her life. Had she been tried in court for being the Phantom's accomplice she might have faced capital punishment. Do you really think she did that just because you asked her nicely? I spoke with Raoul. The way she was protecting you - she loved you. Had you just asked her, she would have been yours. She even came here with you, loyal to you despite all your crimes. Do you think she would have done that if she had not loved you? You even could have had me, but you chose to leave me alone.
And now, ten years later, you come up with some elaborate scheme to lure me here, blackmail me into singing and make a disgusting rigged bet with my drunken husband. Did you really think he would not come to me immediately and confess everything? Did you really think my husband and I do not talk to each other? After ten years of being his wife - do you not think I know when something is wrong? I knew the moment he asked me not to sing."
"But... if you knew... why did you sing at all?"
"Because I alone decide what I do and with whom I live. I do not let him or you or anyone else dictate how I have to live my life! You blackmailed me into singing before you even made the bet. And my foolish husband was drunk and stupid enough to make a bet with a master of illusion. If he had one glass less he would not have fallen for that. And if I was ready to stay with you now, what would you do? Would I wake alone tomorrow, finding you gone, faking your death again or do you come up with a new scheme? Erik, for once in your life, start to take responsibility and be a man. Then you would see how foolish your plan was from the beginning. If you are ready to behave like a grown up, you have my permission to contact me. Until then all I want from you is the money you owe me. And I won't accept a cheque because that can bounce. No. I want it in cash, I do not trust you."
When Erik made no movement she sighed angrily. "You don't have it in cash. You thought you would never have to pay. Fine. Fine, that really draws a line. Illusion. You are an illusionist and whenever something threatens to become real you back out. You will get a notice from my lawyer."
She just left him standing there, utterly confused and helpless. He had planned for several ways this might come to an end, but certainly not that. Erik could hear Christine talking to someone else in the corridor.
"A there you are, Raoul. Gustave. Come with me, we have to pack. I need an appointment with Hammerstein. Gustave, you stay with me. Raoul - if you ever even think of drinking again, all you will see of your son until he is 21 will be the bills for his education. That's final. I'm done with you men, I won't suffer any more just because you idiots refuse to take any responsibility. I'm done with that."
Raoul, obviously sober and ashamed of himself, just nodded in agreement. "Whatever you demand, it is yours," he promised.
Christine pulled herself together. "Thank you, darling," she purred like the good obedient wife she always was, "We need to see Mr. Hammerstein now, can you arrange that, darling? Please?"
Erik stared after them, not knowing what to say or do. Was this really the same woman? The one who had given him a dressing down he wouldn't recover from for days and the sweet gentle lady Christine? Had he really succeeded in making her such a good actress? He had to admit that he liked her new fighting spirit. It was... different. He had never faced a woman directly opposing him. At the same time he asked himself if she had become too strong. Too strong for him to handle.
A short one-shot from me today. I just wanted to write something how Christine should have reacted, if she was a strong woman. Of course Raoul and Gustave are waiting for her before her dressing room - she is the one in command in the family, they won't dare going anywhere without her permission. ;-P