Note: This is a one-shot, but may be expanded at a much later date to a full story. As of right now I have another story to finish. This is darker than what I am normally used to and my first Phantom of the Opera story-line. I hope y'all have enjoyed.

Disclaimer: I do NOT own Phantom of the Opera

"Hand it over this instant or I swear on all that is Holy that I will gut you, Meg Giry." Christine hissed angrily at her friend who matched each step she made from across the expanse of the work table.

"Chrissy, you know that you're not supposed to eat sweets." Meg taunted, her green eyes glimmering with mischief. Christine focused on the sandwich bag full of dime-store chocolate chip cookies. She thought that she might actually be salivating for the cursed things, but she would never admit it if she actually was. She hadn't had real sweets for at least two weeks now and she needed those cookies.

More than I need my next breath, she thought to herself.

"I've been good for the past two weeks. I'm allowed to indulge myself way more than that. Now give me those cookies or face annihilation." She lunged across the table, but the other girl easily dodged her grasping fingers. She all but snarled when she felt the plastic of the baggie graze across the tips of her fingers before it was cruelly pulled away.

Very suddenly Meg smiled in her juvenile, yet almost evil way and Christine felt her heart sink. Any time that smile came upon her friend's face it meant absolutely no good for her.

"Yo, Joe!" The ballet rat shouted out into the hallway giddily. "Christine brought cookies for you!" She literally saw red as the other girl tore from the room with her cookies.

"Megaera!" She hollered hoarsely and used every ounce of self-control she had to keep herself from running after her friend, tackling her to the ground, and brutally tickling her for daring to give away her precious sweets. "I despise you," she mumbled under her breath, not really meaning it, but still peevish for having lost her special treat.

Knowing that even if she managed to catch up with the other girl that her cookies would be long gone, devoured by that pig of a man Joseph Buquet, Christine forced herself to calm down and collect her things.

She glanced around the spacious room as she pulled her terribly overused messenger bag out from under the table. She never could get used to the opulence of the 'Opera Populaire'. Even these back rooms which they used to construct the stage sets were grandiose. The walls were the decadent burgundy color that she so often wished to paint her own bedroom walls while a thin, decorative, golden trim popped magnificently against the richer color. The floors were dark mahogany and stained even more so. The overhead lights, installed some years back when the Opera House was bought and refurbished, glowed brightly and reflected delightfully off of the shiny finish of the wood floors. The room smelled of paint, wood, and burning fabric. The scent had become something familiar and comforting for her over the few years she'd been working within this building.

The Opera Populaire had been bought by some eccentric billionaire tycoon, as the story went, and the entire place was renovated and refurbished to be used once more after the 'great fire' in the 1800s that had swamped the stage and auditorium seats. The place was just as breathtaking now as it had been over two-hundred years prior. The owner, whomever it was, had seen to that.

The House now showcased a wide-range of entertainments, everything from opera to mystifying feats of magic. She quite enjoyed the magic shows hosted every few months. Once she'd even been lucky enough to meet Penn and Teller after their act. They'd taught her a quick and easy trick with a deck of cards that she loved to show off to her friends and always stumped them. She couldn't have been more grateful to the two men.

Humming softly to herself Christine easily replaced all of her crafts tools into her bag. Her first few months at the House had been quite traumatic. She'd been a klutz, unorganized, and ashamedly nervous. It wasn't until she'd accidently dumped a can of pale blue paint on the Prima Dona Carlotta Giudicelli and Meg had subsequently burst out laughing that she'd been able to pull herself together and work properly. She honestly wasn't sure how she'd managed to keep her job after that incident.

Carlotta absolutely despised her now.

The past few years were a real treasure to her, though. While she did not work full-time at the House and the pay wasn't all that great she loved being in the building where she could practically hear the old choir and Prima Dona calling out to the audience and their answering awe. She'd always been entranced by music, art in general, and the House provided her with a break from the monotony of her life.

Outside of the House she worked as a waitress in a mid-classed restaurant during the weekdays and a barista on the weekends. While she could actually claim to enjoy working at the restaurant she could not say the same for the bar. She liked people, but everyone has their limits. She drew her line at someone groping her ass, which seemed to happen almost nightly. She would have quit long ago if it weren't for the fact that the tips were so good and her regular pay was above minimum wage. She needed the money and she wasn't about to whine over things that she had little control over. The bills had to be paid and the bar helped her pay a good chunk of them.

Anything to keep the creditors off of my back.

Once she had everything stashed away safely she slipped the worn tan strap over her shoulder and walked out of the room. It was Friday and nearing seven o'clock. She needed to get back to her apartment, change into her work uniform, and hail a cab to get to 'Reverie' before anyone could yell at her for being late.

"Christine, wait!" Meg was running up behind her now, sans cookies. Damn. She kept up her normal pace, but the other girl didn't seem to care. She strolled along side of her easily. "Honey, why do you keep working at that joint? It's in a worse part of town than your apartment is and that's saying something."

"Because, Meg, I need the money. I can't get full-time at the restaurant and no one else is hiring. It's not so bad."

"Not so bad?" The brunette shrieked, her green eyes flaring dangerously. "Honey, you had bruises just last week when that creep grabbed at you. It's not good for you to work there and you know it."

"Like I said, Meg, I need the money. And I was able to take care of myself that night. I can take care of myself any other night as well." She turned her eyes straight forward, trying to determine if she was trying to reassure Meg or herself.

She'd been terrified that night. The men at the bar often got touchy, but usually a firm slap to their hand stopped any further moves. The man that had grabbed her butt cheeks that night had been as drunk as any of the other men she'd dealt with, but he'd also been significantly meaner. When she'd slapped his hands away, telling him 'no' firmly, he'd latched onto her arms and dragged her into his horrid embrace. She'd struggled, but his hands were meaty and solid over her slender upper arms. Only a swift, hard kick to his unguarded groin had spared her from further indecency. She almost felt bad for hurting him in such an underhanded way, but she liked herself more than she liked him. It was either kick or possible rape… that's how she'd seen it at least. The only reason Meg had seen the leftover bruises was because her sleeves had ridden up while she'd been painting a backdrop.

"Christine, I just want you to be…" She waved her friend off as she neared the entrance of the Populaire.

"I will be safe, Meg." Before leaving she gave the other girl a soft smile as she grabbed her fake fur lined denim jacket from the rack to put it on. "I'm a big girl. I can take care of myself, but nonetheless I'm thankful to have a friend that cares. Have a nice night, Meg."

"You, too, Christine."

With that Christine departed from the Populaire all the while humming a soft, lullaby-ish tune. The tune echoed as pleasantly off the buildings around her as it did within her own mind.

It was a little past three-thirty in the morning when Christine stumbled into her apartment. She shut the door almost softly before flicking the lock on the knob, switching the deadbolt, and placing the chain into its designated slot. When she still lived in the country with her father the use for so many locks was ridiculous and downright nonsensical, but within the confines of bustling New York City she knew that it was entirely necessary. Without a single lock she could fall prey to any sicko far easier.

She dropped her hand-made satchel, a much smaller replica of her messenger bag, onto the floor beside the door. The only things the satchel held were a few wads of cash, which were her tips for the night, and a small hand-blade for dire circumstances. She hated fighting and she really couldn't imagine killing someone, but she'd be damned if she would go down without a fight if someone jumped her one of these nights.

Her jacket followed the satchel.

It was January in New York City and the temperature was beyond chilling. Once she'd gotten home from the Populaire to change for work she'd stolen her gloves, scarf, and hat from the two-seater dining table she had. The temperature had dropped drastically from earlier in the day. Her jacket provided some warmth, but it really wasn't designed for the harshness of winter. The other coverings would help to keep her heat inside her body.

Sighing, Christine made her way into her kitchen to make some hot chocolate before bed. The apartment was despairingly small, but it was her home for the past two years. It was technically a two-room apartment. The kitchen, living room, and dining room were a single space while her bedroom was detached and hidden behind private walls and a door. The bathroom was directly beside the bedroom. Her home had little touches of her life within it, but she really did have very little to her name. Her dresser held only the bare essentials she needed for everyday comfort, her walls had one or two framed photos hanging from them, and her furniture was threadbare, though well-loved. Worldly possessions were few and far between for a woman of twenty-five without a lot going for her.

She took down her favorite mug, one that read 'Need More Sugar' with a red X through the 'Sugar' and edited with 'Fucking Sleep'. She had never been a morning person and years ago when an old high-school girl friend had given it to her she'd fallen in love with it. She wasn't normally a vulgar-speaking girl, but the mug was definitively her.

As she prepared her cocoa she thought back on the turn of her life since her father had died more than eighteen years prior.

Gustave Daaé was a proud, good man. He'd lived in Sweden until he'd turned eighteen and been able to leave home for the Americas. He had been a great violinist, though he preferred more to commission them than he did to play them publicly. He'd met her mother some years later when she'd entered his humble shop looking for a present for her closest friend. It had been love at first sight according to her father. They'd been married six months after they'd first met and were expecting a baby, her, less than a month later.

Unfortunately at age twenty-three her mother had died in childbirth. Her father, at twenty-five, had taken on the sole guardianship of his only daughter by the woman he'd loved. He'd told her often enough as she'd grown up that she looked so much like her mother. Her father would always get a faraway look on his face when he'd look at her.

She'd grown up in the small town she'd been born in with her father, alone, but they'd been happy. She remembered that clearly. They'd always laughed and told each other things whether they were important or not. He'd taught her to sing, to sound like her beautiful mother, all the while listening to him strum along on his favored violin. They'd shared the good times and the bad.

It was quite upsetting that after she hit five years old that the bad times seriously outweighed the good.

Gustave, at the ripe age of thirty had developed cancer of the lung. It had been very aggressive. It could not be removed by hand nor by radiation. Her father, they had told her, would not survive another five years. She'd refused to believe it at the time, certain that her pragmatic, yet optimistic father could live through anything.

It took two years for the day to come when she'd discovered that her certainty had been askew.

She'd been seven when they hauled her off to foster care.

She had moved from home to home for several years before a foster family finally took. She stayed with the Matthews for six years after they'd taken her in at age twelve. She obtained quite a few friends, though anymore they were simply considered acquaintances since they never saw each other, got the best grades she could, and faithfully attended every play and production her little school had to offer. She'd even starred as Dorothy in 'The Wizard of Oz' her freshman year of high school.

When she'd graduated she'd been offered a full scholarship to Julliard thanks to her voice. To hear everyone talk, especially the recruiters, she had a voice that 'could make the angels in heaven weep'. She'd been honored, truly, to be accepted to such a prestigious school. It was like a dream-come-true since she knew that what little her father left her as an inheritance would not be enough to get her through college at even a community level. With the scholarship she could train and improve herself before venturing out into the world in the hopes of making a name for herself.

It seemed that Fate had other plans for her.

It had been a month after she'd started at Julliard when the accident happened. She'd been with a few new friends, all of them enjoying themselves immensely as they headed towards a new club that had opened on the West Side, when the compact they'd been in got swiped by a far larger SUV full of drunken Fraternity boys from a neighboring school.

She'd woken up in the hospital with a shattered right knee, which she still had some problems walking on and severe scarring, dislocated shoulder, and a pierced larynx. It had been grazed by glass from one of the windows when it had shattered. While she'd been able to regain full speech capabilities, her ability to sing was torn away from her brutally. The muscles could no longer contract and expand as they used to, therefore hindering in her ability to call out in a steady rhythm or reach higher pitches. Even yelling was a chore for her.

Without her 'God given talent' she had become nothing more than another nameless face in the crowd for Julliard. They'd allowed her to finish one semester before rescinding her scholarship. It had been like cutting her off at the knee. No scholarship equaled no furthering her education.

And so for the past seven years she had been surviving off of whatever job she could get. She supposed she'd been a little of everything. A waitress, a housekeeper, a low-level secretary, an assistant, a retail store clerk, and many other things. She never could find a full-time job with benefits, but she was rarely sick anyway. She had found her apartment perhaps a week after her first and only semester in Julliard and had lived there ever since. Her various part-time jobs kept her bills paid and food in her stomach, so she was content.

Well, I had been content, she mused to herself. Once I found the Populaire things improved by miles.

While she could no longer sing art was still her passion. Dancing, singing, painting, acting…the list seemed endless. She was enthralled with how people chose to express themselves. She could watch a pianist compose for what seemed like hours, just to hear the music. She could pose for a sculptor simply to see the concentration on their face as they worked the clay. Even magic had its place in her heart.

She'd found the Populaire on accident one day in Fall roughly three years ago. A sign outside one of the many double-doors was a sign proclaiming the need for a set designer. She hadn't truly expected to get the job as she wasn't that accomplished in visual arts, but it turned out that they'd really only needed an extra hand for the set pieces that needed touching up or complete reworking.

She could do that.

She'd gotten to know and befriend some of the workers and performers at the Populaire. Megaera Giry had been the first. After the 'painting of Carlotta' Meg had come straight from her dance practice to get to know the girl that had so embarrassed the diva. She had such a bubbly, accepting personality that Christine simply found herself befriending the other girl.

She'd also let slip to the girl that she had been diagnosed with Polycystic Ovaries Syndrome during a doctor's visit years ago, which restricted her from being able to eat a lot of sweets. Apparently besides excessive bleeding, irregular menstrual cycles, a higher testosterone level, and being fairly infertile unless given outside medical attention like hormone shots she was at risk for developing ovarian cancer and diabetes. The ovarian cancer she could do little to prevent besides doing as her doctor, a woman she probably needed to see since it had been at least a year since her last visit, suggested and taking a daily pill to help decrease her testosterone level. She could, however, watch what she ate to greatly reduce the risk of developing diabetes. Higher amounts of good fiber and less sugar. No problem.

Too bad junk food is the cheaper diet to live off of.

Despite that, though, she only treated herself every now and then with sugary products like a soda or cookie. Her hot chocolate was sugar-free. It had taken some time to get used to the more water-downed flavor, but without the constant intake of junk food she'd gotten used to it.

Now it seemed like the junk food only seemed to make her stomach turn.

Her attention slipped to the microwave when it beeped informing her that her instant cocoa was ready. She took the handle cautiously, not wanting to burn her fingers. She'd done that once.

She fell into the comfort of her recliner and stared at the television across the room. It was old and not hooked up to the cable line, but she loved to watch movies. When she saw something that looked interesting at the Red Box she would rent it for the night. She could afford to spend a single dollar every now and then to calm her overtaxed body in order to watch a movie.

She sipped at the cocoa slowly until the milk in it started to take its effect on her already tired body. Milk always made her sleepy. She drank the rest of it hastily, all the while making plans for the next day, before rinsing it out in the small sink in the kitchen.

This was her routine…come home, make cocoa, think about tomorrow or watch a movie, and then change into her pajamas for bed. The routine made it easier for her to get to sleep at night.

Christine moved into her bedroom, eyeing her twin bed almost lovingly. She was so tired. With practiced ease she slipped out of her work clothes, a set of black short-shorts that she froze her ass of in and a black t-shirt with Reverie's logo above her left breast, and into her comfortable micro-fiber, baby blue pants and a white tank-top. The heat in her home along with her blankets, no matter how threadbare, would keep her warm enough to wear the tank.

As soon as she'd slipped into bed and her head hit the pillow she was asleep.

It seemed only seconds later when something, she wasn't sure what, awoke her. Her eyes opened hazily as a peculiar feeling assailed her. Her heart rate kicked up a fraction as adrenalin poured into her systems.

Someone was in her home.

Moving quickly, sleep shrugged off in her terror, she lunged for her nightstand where she kept her taser. She'd bought it years ago for a situation like this.

She didn't even get the chance to skim her fingers across the smooth plastic.

She was pushed by the shoulder onto her back while a masking object, a cloth she later came to realize, was settled over her mouth and nose. Her fingers reached up to claw at the leather-clad arm attached to the hand over her mouth, but in her frantic struggles she found herself breathing in something that smelled disturbingly like nail polish remover. She choked and gasped under the cloth only to bring in more of that heinous smell.

When the cloth was removed she felt her limbs going numb and her senses dulling around the edges. Lethargy like nothing she'd ever felt before overcame her, but she would not let herself slip into the blackness. She wanted to look at her captor's face in case he decided not to murder her. She'd find help if he kept her alive and ensure that they made him fry for his crimes.

Her captor moved into her line of sight in that moment and she found her eyes widening even in her state. The man, fore he was far too tall and wide to be a woman, had leaned forward enough for her to see that his face was not readily available to her. He wore a stark white mask, possibly porcelain, which covered his entire face with the exception of his eyes. His eyes she could not even see for the darkness of her room. The mask itself was masculine, but haunting to her way of thinking. Strikingly handsome, but sinister. Like Hades, the God of the Underworld. The slicked back, pitch black hair didn't deter from that image, either.

The man reached forward then and skimmed his gloved, leather fingers through a stray lock of hair that had fallen in her face. Slowly, delicately, he tucked it back behind her ear.

"It is time." His honey rich baritone sent shivers through her body even as the slight accent baffled her. But it was his words, though, that she lingered on as she felt her weak grasp on reality slipping away.

Erik knelt down beside his slowly succumbing angel and smiled peacefully, though he knew that the expression would be hidden by his mask. Her eyes were glossing over with the mild sedative he'd given her to keep her calm. He didn't want her hurting herself when he took her away from the harshness of the world. No, not at all. She would never know physical pain again if he had anything to say about it.

"Christine," he whispered reverently. He reached his hand back to her slightly flushed cheek and he could all but see the energy it took her to turn her head away from him. Instead of her cheek he settled himself for petting her long, wavy locks. "My angel."

She whimpered then. It was a sound that tore at his darkened heart. As quick as lightning he was pulling the comforter he'd brought especially for her around her fragile, too small body. He had wondered more than once how such a tiny slip of a girl could house such purity…how she could hold so much power over him.

"Hush now, angel." He cooed to her, swaddling her tightly into the covering. "It is terribly cold out and Erik cannot have his Christine catching a chill. Oh no, that simply wouldn't do." She continued to mewl pitifully until he backed away from her momentarily. "Shh, angel. Shh. I am taking you home now. Where you belong."

With that said Erik bent at the waist to place a kiss to her brow through the mask before flicking the loose end of blanket over her ethereal face. It was windy and snowing outside and he did not want the bitter cold impacting upon any of her flawless, pale skin. In another swift movement he had her raised up into the protective shelter of his arms.

"Oh Christine, you are so light. We will have to ensure that you eat better once you are home. Yes, Erik will take the best care of his angel. She will want for nothing at all."

Erik moved quickly from the run-down apartment, completely bypassing the door he'd unlocked with his copy of the key and a few other trinkets he'd acquired to slip into a locked home without detection. He was already making the mental note within the steel trap that was his mind to have the building condemned and destroyed. He could not understand why he'd even permitted his angel to live in such squander. With the hour being as late, or as early depending upon one's time frame, as it was he did not fear someone catching him carrying his Christine away. Even if someone had he knew that they would keep silent for fear of facing Death in all his glory.

No one and nothing would take his angel away from him now that he finally had her within his grasp.

As soon as the main doors to the building were open the storm descended upon them. Erik wore only a light black leather jacket and dark-wash blue jeans, but the cold did not penetrate his skin. His sole concern was centered upon the precious bundle he was carrying. The comforter was thick, but the storm was harsh.

Moving at an inhuman speed he had them both in the back of the waiting limousine, his angel held firmly to his chest upon his lap.

Erik did not spare the other occupant a single glance as he revealed Christine's face once more. Her eyes were closed now and he could tell that the sedative had finally run its course. She was asleep. His lips, hidden behind the mask, found her brow again. Her natural warmth radiated through the porcelain of his mock-face.

"Is she not magnificent, Daroga?" He questioned of the other man, already knowing full well that he would get no response. "She is beauty itself and her heart beats so pure. She needs care and protection. I will provide this for her. Yes, Erik will always love his fallen angel. His angel is perfect."

Nadir Khan watched his master's ramblings with horrified awe. For as long as he could remember he had been in service of this man, as had his fathers and forefathers before him. Erik Dressler, his common name to the public, was not normally a man of loving temperament. His master was nearly always stone-faced, as emotionless as the mask her wore, and outwardly calm unless suffused with his deadly fury. He was a brilliant businessman and remarkable strategist. He could destroy an entire city with the mere swipe of his hand, but he could also compose such wondrous music with that same hand that anyone within earshot would find themselves brought to their knees with the beauty of it.

Ever since he had seen this girl, though, he would become this. The Erik that the rest of the world saw was all but gone whenever he thought of or spoke of Miss Daaé. Had he not been with the master for so long he might have called him…gentle.

But alas, he knew better.

If he was honest with himself, he feared for the girl. Physically he knew that she would never come to any harm, but mentally she would always be in peril. Erik was a great many things, but not all of them were good. He was clinically insane. Of that there was no doubt. Of course his master had many lucid moments, but he often slipped into the madness of his mind. It still unnerved him to hear the other man speaking in the third person when his sanity ebbed away to the creature beneath the mask.

He could still remember the day that his master had come home from first seeing Miss Christine Daaé. He'd composed an entire Opera for the girl within the first several months after his encounter with her. He had not left his music room once to eat or sleep. He played upon his organ endlessly until one day he'd finally come out, a grandness about him proclaiming his finished piece. During that time he had instructed his servants and several contractors to begin redesigning his home to suit a young woman's tastes mixed partially with his own. Erik himself had designed and furnished the room adjoined to his own for her alone. The master rarely slept, if he did sleep at all, in his own rooms. Once 'Christine's' room was finished he spent most of his free time there as if trying to feel closer to her.

He spared a downward glance at the girl and admitted that she was pretty enough. He would not say it out loud, of course. He did value his own life. Her golden hair would hang down in waves to skim the tops of her rounded butt cheeks. From the countless photos he'd seen of her he knew that she had eyes so pale blue that one might think her blind. She was petite and slender, but holding the graceful, enticing curves any man would die to touch. Her smooth, pale skin only lent to the illusion of her fragility.

He was momentarily distracted by her sudden whimper. Automatically Erik was humming the lullaby he'd composed just for her and rocking her very gently in his arms. His caring devotion was both startling and frightening to Nadir.

He swore to himself that he would try to help her in any way that he could, but he couldn't help but fear that whatever shred of sanity his master still held within him was attached to this girl in some way. He was not really a religious man, not after all the horrors he'd seen his master commit, but he prayed to any deity there was out there that the girl would not attempt to leave Erik. If she did he knew well that blood and death would reign until she returned to his loving embrace.

A shudder ran through him thinking of it.

That poor girl, he thought to himself and awaited his master's instructions.

Christine moaned in discomfort as she slipped back into the world of the living. Her skull felt as if it was being hacked away at with a pickaxe. Her mouth was also exceedingly dry and fuzzy. She moved to roll over, but her limbs weighed her down as if they were cement blocks. She whimpered in distress.

"Be still." A deep, hypnotic voice spoke from just above her. She felt a damp, cool cloth being run over her heated forehead. The sensation of cold against hot gave her the chills. "The sedative is still lingering in your blood. It will take some time to dissipate and it would be best if you remained still."

"Water…" she rasped, choking on the word. "Please." Her throat hurt so much. Tears stung the backs of her eyelids. She hadn't felt this sort of pain since the accident.

She heard something, most likely chinaware, clinking beside her head. In the next moment her head was being raised from the soft, fluffy pillow beneath her. Cold ceramic touched her lips.

"Open." It was a command she instantly obeyed. As soon as her lips parted blessedly cool water trickled into her mouth and down her throat. The water was a balm to her inflamed throat. She tried to drink greedily, but the man, whoever he was, forced her to pace herself by pulling the cup away once she had a mouthful. When the cup was emptied she felt it being pulled away for the final time, but the relief left in its wake was all-encompassing.

"Thank you." She hushed as the hand lowered her head back down into the comforts of her bedding.

"Anything for my angel."

It was those final two words that had her eyes snapping open with realization and building dread. A harsh wave of fear threatened to draw her into the deepest depths of panic. Her stomach rolled and threatened to spill over entirely.

Her eyes burned with terrified tears as she looked around her prone form. She was lying on one side of a very extravagant bed. It was one of those dark mahogany, nearly black in color, canopy beds that befitted a palace bedroom. Gold-threaded sheets and drapes would warm and guard her at night as she lay upon the King Sized mattress, which felt as if it were made from the clouds beneath her. The walls were painted the same burgundy as the theater with strikingly familiar gold trim. There was a massive flat screen television mounted upon the wall directly in front of her, the only modern technology that she could see immediately, and bordered by a door to either side. The wall to her right revealed a massive window which had the golden curtains drawn across it leaving only a small sliver of the window visible. An ornate vanity and armoire in the same color and design as the bed lay along that wall as well. The left wall held only a single door which was closed. Wall light fixtures were dimmed to an acceptable level for her pained eyes and allowed her to see that the bedroom was roughly the same size as her entire apartment.

It was on her second sweep of the room that she saw him.

The man from her apartment was sitting on an equally lovely high-back chair which matched the décor of the room. Even sitting and hunched over in her direction he looked intimidating. He had been tall, perhaps six and a half feet, when she'd seen him in her apartment. He wore just as much black now as he had upon her kidnapping, for that's what this was, but the leather jacket was missing to reveal the long-sleeved sweater beneath. He looked ungodly skinny. His skin was paler than even her own and what she could see of his hands he was scarred badly. The full-face white mask allowed only his eerily amber eyes to show through. They were neither yellow nor orange…but entirely unnatural and unsettling to look at.

He set a skeletal, scarred hand, the one with the cloth, back over her forehead. She turned her head away only to have him pat at her uncovered neck.

"I will not hurt you, Christine." His voice was projected clearly through the mask. It was as if his mouth was not covered at all. "Erik would never hurt his angel. Christine must always let her Erik protect her."

Christine frowned at the use of third-person. Surely this man, Erik, was unstable. Of course anyone who could kidnap another person wasn't exactly right in their own minds. That should have gone without saying.

"I am dreadfully sorry for drugging you, my dear." The man continued, seemingly oblivious to her turmoil. His tone displayed true regret. "It was quite necessary as you were tired and would have fought me. You might have injured yourself attempting to flee me. We can't have that, can we?"

She did not respond. It wasn't the sort of question that required an answer and she would rather not even attempt it. This man was not right.

"How are you feeling, Christine? I must know how much of the sedative is still in your systems."

"I'm tired." Was her immediate response. She paused to think. "My head hurts and my limbs are still heavy."

Erik did not speak for some time. She guessed that he was mentally cataloging her description. He attempted several times to wipe down her forehead, but each time he did she tugged her head away. It made her head hurt worse, but she didn't want him anywhere near her. Pivoting her head from side to side was about the only way of getting away from him that she could manage to escape him in her weakened state.

Eventually he grew tired of her game.

"Come now, Christine. Let's not be childish." He snared her chin between his fingers when she moved to dodge the cloth once more. Her eyes widened at the strength of his grip. Perhaps he wasn't as frail as his body looked. "That's my good girl. Stay still so Erik may tend to his angel."

With infinite gentility he wiped her face down with the damp cloth. She only looked away from his strangely amber gaze when he forced the cloth over her eyelids. His eyes looked sunken in somehow. Maybe he was anemic as well as insane?

"Why am I here?" She questioned softly when the man wrung the towel out in a basin beside the ceramic containers of drinking water.

"So that I may better protect you." When she furrowed her brow he continued as if he was explaining something simple to a particularly dimwitted child. "You are precious, Christine. You are purity itself. The world would have used and tainted you. You would have been hurt beyond my ability to repair you. This I cannot allow. I must keep you safe and happy."

"I want to go home. Please take me home." She pleaded with tears threatening to spill from her eyes.

"Shh, angel. You are home now. Erik will make Christine so happy and no one will ever come near his angel here." Was that supposed to comfort her? "Erik promises to always try and make Christine happy."

"It would make me happy to go home to my apartment." Erik paused in his ministrations then. He eyed her through the privacy of his full-faced mask before shaking his head firmly and continuing to pat at her heated flesh.

"You do not see yet what I am doing for you. But you will…oh yes, you will come to thank me for taking you away. My precious angel, you have lingered too long in the outside world and have become confused. You can no longer help those mortals. Your glow would fade if you went back and I cannot allow this. No, you will stay with me where you will be best taken care of. An angel cannot protect herself, you know."

She forced her jaw not to unhinge as she listened to this man's madness spew forth. She'd read of things similar to this, but had never expected such a fate to befall her. He was not in the right mind in the least bit. Kidnapping her to save her? Mortal men? Angels? A battle raged inside her as to if she should pity this man, fear him, or hate him.

The only certainty in her mind, though, was that she had to get away from him. He was clearly disturbed and she would really rather not be killed by this masked man. Her life was not grand, but it was still hers and she wanted to see it through.

"Never mind it, angel. Erik will see to it that you enjoy yourself here." He put the cloth to her arms then, his touch frighteningly soft and gentle. "I have rebuilt my home just for you, Christine. You have a library now, a pool, a movie room, and you may even use my composition room if you so desire. I have furnished your room with everything that you might want. Clothes, jewels, entertainment…it is all for you! An angel must never be in want of anything."

Christine had to grit her teeth to keep from pulling her leaden arms away from him. She listened with only half an ear as Erik listed off everything he had given her and would continue to give her. Both material and immaterial things. All she had to do was ask and he would see to it that her demands were instantly met out.

She had to get out of this madhouse!

"Are you hungry, angel?" The question threw her off balance for a moment. He'd stopped wiping her down and was now staring at her intently.

"N-no." She stuttered nervously under his unwavering stare.

"Then I will only bring you a few crackers. You will need something in your stomach, but I will not make you eat something more filling now. Wait here and I will be back in a moment." As he stood, such an impressive height, he tucked the golden sheets more securely around her.

Immediately after he left the room Christine gathered her strength, what little of it there was left, and made her arms push her up into a sitting position. The sheets fell away to reveal the same pajamas she'd put on before her kidnapping. That was a relief. She wasn't sure how she would have dealt with Erik undressing her even if she was unconscious at the time.

Her vision blurred nastily as she was once again vertical, but she pushed the discomfort aside. This was her first and hopefully only bid for freedom. Wooziness could take a back seat to self-preservation.

As she swung her legs over the side of the bed she took in how high off the ground it was. Her feet dangled a fair distance. Knowing there was nothing to do for it she pushed herself over the edge and onto the plush, tan-speckled carpets. When her feet made contact she stumbled once, twice, before grabbing the bed post. Her head swam and her body threatened to collapse, but she persisted anyway.

She eyed the door Erik exited like a sprinter might visualize the finish line. Breathing deeply she moved as if she were a toddler again, her arms splayed slightly to either side.

Right foot. Okay, good. Now the left. Right. Left. Just a few more.

The closer she got to the door the higher her hopes for escape soared. Such a short distance to go. One foot after the other.

When she found her freedom she swore she'd go to the police and get much needed help for the deranged man called Erik.

So close!

Merely steps away from the door she felt her hopes die a swift death as the handle was turned and her captor returned. He seemed surprised to see her up and fairly tense. She, too, stiffened and prepared herself for his fury and her own pain.

Imagine her surprise when he dropped the bag of crackers and rushed to embrace her. Her already rod-straight spine threatened to crack with this new development.

"Christine, you foolish girl. You should not be out of bed. Erik was coming back. He would never truly leave his angel." In a single, swift, and startling motion he had her hauled up into his arms as if he was intending to carry her across the threshold of their new home…like a married couple.

Erik's long legs had her carried back to the bed in moments. He fussed over her almost worriedly as he tucked her back into the bedding.

"You mustn't do that, Christine. You are still weak from the sedative. I do not wish you to get hurt." He fluffed the pillows behind her head. "I do not wish to restrain you, angel, but I will if I must. Stay in bed and rest until morning. We will tour the house tomorrow when you are well again."

"Restrain?" She squeaked with fear.

"Not unless you are being extremely foolish, Christine. It would not make me happy to have to clip your wings." His gauntly fingers skimmed across the faint scarring on her neck. She could almost feel his agitation growing. "It is bad enough that they have stolen away your voice."

"How did you…?" But he cut her off by placing his fingers over her lips. She immediately snapped her jaw shut.

"Hush now. It is very late and you must sleep. We will talk when you wake."


"Go to sleep, Christine."

She flinched back into the covers at the underlying steel in his tone. Eric tilted his head a little to the side before bending forward and setting the cold ceramic lips of his mask to her forehead. Distantly she was aware that it was his version of a kiss.

"Sleep, my darling angel." He cooed in a lovely tenor. Unwillingly she felt her eyes drooping as his gaunt fingers caressed her hair. "Sleep."

And she did…

Though as she slipped away she couldn't help but feel a sense of foreboding and think that she would never be free of this man.