Masquerade

Chapter 10: Mirror, Mirror

by Myshawolf (myshawolf at yahoo.com) (9/28/03)

General Disclaimer

MW (peeks out and smiles) Here is Chapter 10. Warning: h/l and m/e. Just trust me on this one. On with the show.


Chapter 10: Mirror, Mirror

Before Lestrade could respond, she felt Holmes's lips gently touch her. Lestrade stiffened at the contact, but gradually relaxed into the kiss. It was different from the one they shared earlier in the week. Lestrade felt warm and secure as Sherlock gently held her to him. In the distance, she could hear the roar of the crowd's approval, but it didn't register. Soon Sherlock pulled away. They stared at each other, catching a glimpse of the other's feelings behind their emotional masks.

Lestrade turned to see the Opera company converge onto her and Holmes. They were offering their thanks and congratulations. She and Holmes tried to thank them without making eye contact with each other. The band began to play again, trying to entice everyone to start dancing again. Holmes turned to look at Lestrade and spotted someone else sneaking about. He grabbed Lestrade's arm and motioned in the direction of his quarry. Lestrade turned and glared.

"Fenwick" they both breathed together, and quickly worked to get away from the Opera Company.

Erika turned away from the kissing couple. She was happy for them, but she felt the ache in her heart begin to grow. Not for the first time, she cursed her lot in life -- a lot that left no room for love. She went to walk away from the scene below when she felt someone tug her back. Erika glanced down at her hand that Moriarty was still holding. She looked up at his concerned face and eyes. She nearly fell into them.

"What is wrong?" Moriarty asked softly.

Erika pulled her hand away and looked away from him as she whispered, "Nothing. Just a silly urge I have. That's all."

Moriarty didn't say anything in response. He noticed that she seemed lonely and isolated. Perhaps he had misjudged her relationship with the Phantom. Erika had turned to walk away when she stopped at the sight of the Reaper coming up the stairs. He glared at her and Moriarty when he joined her. Moriarty gripped Erika's arm and pulled her away.

"Who is that man?" Moriarty asked her as they walked away.

"You got me. He's been following me all night," Erika related, "Nadir noticed him beforehand."

Moriarty was about to say something when he caught sight of something that was either comical or disgusting. His mind couldn't decide which. The Count strode towards them. His face was red with indignity as his costume hung in tatters around him revealing a white undershirt and smiley face boxers. (MW: Please take this time to laugh at him uncontrollably.) His brown eyes flashed with a feeling that was beyond hate. Moriarty felt Erika stiffen by his side. Her eyes flashed with hate and sick amusement at the Count's predicament. The Count ignored Moriarty as he stood face to face with Erika. She didn't flinch under his gaze. In fact, Moriarty noticed she had a different air around her. Like she was a different person.

Erika's cool voice broke through the silence and tension, "What's wrong, Ruelle? Lose the fight to the bull?"

"Your little minions did this. Since they have cleverly gone into hiding, I'm going to make you pay, Mademoiselle," Ruelle growled.

"How, Ruelle? By shooting me, maybe?" Erika spat back, "I think you should watch out who you threaten, Monsieur. You may open up a can of worms that you will not be able to handle."

"Is that a threat?"

"No." Erika smiled evilly, "A promise. You think what they did was humiliating? Wait until you see what I will do to you when given the chance. Remember, Monsieur, there are worse things than a shattered chandelier."

Erika turned away and walked back towards the boxes. Moriarty watched her make her exit. She reminded him of a queen. Moriarty grinned as he walked after her. Erika Noir was definitely a delightful surprise. He joined her side and felt the heat of her anger roll off of her.

Softly he whispered, "Shall we go somewhere that you can cool off?"

Erika smiled softly, feeling her anger dissipated when she heard his cultured tones, "Afraid I might hit you, Professor?"

Moriarty smirked, "I think I could handle anything that you toss at me, Mademoiselle Noir."

"I may take you up on that challenge someday. There must be a reason why you are by my side. Is my wonderful company?"

"The Phantom. Since you are his partner, I figure he would try to see you before he makes his public appearance. Am I right?"

Erika didn't say anything. She didn't trust herself to. Just once she wished people weren't seeing her in order to see the Phantom. For a moment yesterday she thought Professor James Moriarty was interested in her. Not that anything could come of it. Crime waves just weren't her cup of tea. However, she had misjudged his interest. She was just another way to get to the Phantom. Erika shrugged her arms out of his hold.

"Thank for you for your concern, Professor. But I need some time alone." Erika smiled. Moriarty was taken back by the look in her eyes. He could see that the sadness had returned, but there was something else. Was it regret? Erika turned away and walked toward Box Five. Moriarty toyed with going after her until over his comm link, Fenwick's voice squeaked out.

"Master, Holmes and the Yardie are on my tail," Fenwick cried out.

Moriarty sighed, "Where are you?"

"Down on the stage."

"I'll be there."

Moriarty turned back to where Erika had disappeared. He spotted the Reaper running down the hallway. Moriarty began to walk that way. He needed to be sure the Reaper wasn't after Erika. Someone was out to get her, if the Count's anger and the failed attempt last night were any indication. Moriarty wanted to be assured of her safety, for business reasons. His mind seemed to snort at that reasoning.

Moriarty stalked down the hallway. He was sure a few people would believe he was the Phantom. Maybe that could aid him when he confronted the Reaper. Moriarty frozen when he heard Erika start cursing in French, just she had when the Reaper had grabbed her earlier. Moriarty quickened his pace down the hallway towards Box Five. He arrived to find the door locked. On the other side he could hear two voices arguing. One, he knew, was Erika's. Moriarty rammed his shoulder into the door. He felt the lock begin to give. Confident he could get the door open, Moriarty rammed the door again. It flung open and Moriarty stepped in to see Erika holding a sword to the Reaper's throat.

"The cavalry arrives." Erika smirked as Moriarty took in the scene in front of him. "Professor, could you unmask this fool?"

Moriarty smiled. "My pleasure, Mademoiselle."

Moriarty stepped up and pulled off the mask. He nearly dropped it when he recognized the man underneath. Moran glared at Moriarty and at Erika. Erika raised an eyebrow at the interplay. Moriarty glared back at the mercenary and returned to Erika's side.

"A friend of yours?" Erika asked gently.

"A very old henchman. I hired him to get rid of Sherlock Holmes and he failed miserably," Moriarty stated, "A mercenary called Moran."

"I wonder who thought I was dangerous enough to have killed."

"It wasn't I. I cut off any dealings with him after New Scotland Yard landed him in jail."

Erika felt relieved, "Well, Monsieur Moran, who hired you?"

Moran growled, "I ain't saying."

"Really? I know a few ways we can make you talk." Erika grinned.

"So do I," Moriarty added.

Before any more threats could be uttered, an ionizer shot was fired at the box. Moriarty tackled Erika to the floor while Moran made his escape. Erika looked up to see Moran get away. Moriarty helped her up and they gave chase. They followed Moran down to the stage area.

Sherlock and Holmes watched as Fenwick aimed at Box Five. He squeezed off a shot before Holmes disarmed him with his cane. Fenwick ducked back into the shadows. Lestrade tried to figure out which way he went.

"Let's split up," Sherlock suggested. Lestrade nodded her agreement and they dove into the shadows.

Sherlock squinted as he walked around the back stage area. He heard an ominous swoosh and dove to the side as a piece came crashing down. Sherlock smiled in the dark. He must be close, for his quarry to try and get rid of him. Sherlock walked forward barely making a noise.

Lestrade decided to take the high road and climbed up into the first level of catwalks. She scanned the backstage and just saw Sherlock dodge a piece of scenery. Relief swept over her as he stood up apparently unharmed. Lestrade looked around for some way to help Holmes out.

Moran ran out on to the main stage. He stopped when he heard a loud crash off stage. Was there an ambush waiting for him? He was getting paid too well to give up now. Then he spotted something red on the stage. He smiled as he dashed over to the discarded ionizer. Behind him, he heard approaching footsteps. Now was as good a time as ever to see if it worked. Moran whipped around and fired a blind shot.

Erika heard the shot before she even saw it. She flung herself at Moriarty, pushing them both out of the line of fire. Moriarty's arms came around her waist as they fell into the shadows. They waited for more shots to be fired. Erika rested her head against his shoulder as they heard retreating footsteps. Moriarty knew he couldn't risk her. He pulled her toward the dressing room area.

"Erika, I want you to hide here until Moran is caught. I'll knock three times so you know it's me," Moriarty commanded as he pushed her into one of the dressing rooms.

"So I'm to sit here while you play hero. I don't think so. I'm no damsel in distress, Professor," Erika protested.

"Someone is out to kill you, Mademoiselle Noir. I will be particularly displeased if you are injured or worse. Now stay here," Moriarty snapped back before slamming the door.

Erika smiled when she realized which dressing room she was in. "Men."

Moriarty headed back to the stage area. He didn't want to have to worry about Erika as well as Fenwick. Once Fenwick had escaped, Moriarty could go back to Erika. Correction, once Fenwick escaped and Moran was dead. Moriarty didn't have time to examine his new feeling of protectiveness. He had a mercenary to kill.

Moran crept around backstage. He needed to find a way out before anyone else saw him and recognized him. Stopping behind a crate, he heard someone coming down the metal stairs by him. Moran moved himself into the perfect position to strike.

Lestrade had lost sight of Holmes on the main floor. She had heard the ionizer blast. She hurried down the stairs. Beth had to be sure Sherlock was all right and figure out where Fenwick picked up another ionizer. As she stepped off the last step, she felt an arm come around her neck and an ionizer pressed to her head.

"Don't move, Mademoiselle, or I might have to put a hole in that pretty mask," a rough voice whispered. "We are going to walk out of here nice and easy."

Lestrade gulped as they moved towards the main stage. Out of the corner of her eye, she spotted Sherlock trying to creep up on the man that held her. At the other side, the tall Phantom was walking towards them. Moran, sensing he was trapped, clicked the safety off the ionizer. Lestrade heard it hum to life, ready to discharge its shot against her temple. Both men froze at the implications of such a shot.

Moran smiled as he backed himself up so he could keep both rescuers in his sight. His back hit a hard object sitting upstage. He was really trapped now. Moriarty noticed Sherlock off to the side in the mirror behind Moran. There had to be a way to get him to release Lestrade.

"Don't take another step, either of you." Moran ordered.

"Moran, it's been such a long time," Sherlock greeted him. "Don't tell me Moriarty has rehired you to dispose of me again."

"Moriarty could never pay as much as my new employer," Moran snorted. "Now stay where you are or the girl gets it."

"Come, come, is such violence really necessary?" Moriarty suggested.

"You should talk. Where is she?" Moran shouted.

"Mademoiselle Noir is safely hidden away where not even you can find her," Moriarty smiled.

"That's too bad for this girl then. I was willing to trade her for Mademoiselle Noir," Moran spat back. "I'll take her, then."

A deep voice echoed through the theater, "I don't think so, wandering child."

The stage lights came on. A warm glow filled the stage and reflected off the mirror. In the mirror appeared another figure -- the real Phantom. He stood directly behind Moran. Lifting his cane, the Phantom revealed a slender sword. Moran looked wildly around the stage, not once glancing in the mirror. He froze as the cool blade come out of the mirror and settled against his throat.

"Wandering child. So lost. So helpless. Yearning for my guidance," the Phantom sang as he pushed the blade of the sword against Moran's throat. "Let the girl go or I'll slit your throat here and now."

The ionizer hit the floor. The blade left Moran's throat. As soon as the blade cleared, Lestrade elbowed Moran in the stomach and flipped him over her shoulder. The Phantom smiled, amused, as he faded back into the mirror. Moriarty smirked as Lestrade read Moran his rights.

Suddenly, Moriarty remembered the Phantom. He turned to see that the Phantom had left. Moriarty felt disappointed that the Phantom had slipped by him again. He remembered that Erika was safe and that was what counted right now. Also, if he hurried, he could still see the Phantom. He was sure to check on Erika.

With a sweep of his cape, Moriarty descended back into the shadows and walked towards the dressing room. He tried the door and found it unlocked. Moriarty opened the door to find an empty room. On the vanity was Erika's mask and a red rose. Moriarty picked it up and glanced around for some clue as to Erika's whereabouts. He stared at the mirror and blinked in surprise. For a second he thought he saw Erika in the mirror.

Moriarty turned to see the door to the room shut. He was the only person in the room. A small noise caught his attention. Moriarty turned back around to see a note fluttering through the air. Moriarty snatched the note and quickly read it. Again, he was too late. It seemed the Phantom had been and gone. This time he took Erika with him. Moriarty was determined to find the Phantom's lair now. He turned and left the empty dressing room, taking the mask with him. He was going to be back for her.

Buquet surveyed the damage to his set. Next to him stood Krissi the wolf. Lestrade walked over towards them. Krissi looked brokenhearted. Lestrade learned that she had handpainted each backdrop herself. Lestrade cleared her throat gaining Buquet's attention. He waved her over.

"So, what was the jerk doing here?" Buquet growled. He knew they were going to pull an all-nighter in order to open on time. He wasn't looking forward to explain that to his wife.

Lestrade sighed, "He's a mercenary. Someone at the party was a target. Monsieur Holmes and I think he was hired to kill Erika," Lestrade related.

Krissi snapped out of her funk and asked, "He didn't get her, did he?"

"We don't think so, since he demanded that we turn her over to him," Lestrade stated. "I would like to talk to Erika."

Buquet exchanged a look with his set designer. Krissi coughed as she walked away. Buquet gave Lestrade a sad glance, "No one has seen her. I have sent men to scour the backstage area to find her."

"No one has seen her at all?"

"Star North saw her enter Box Five just before the shooting occurred. She saw Moran run out and went to get help. There is no one in there. I have looked."

"She will turn up."

"Oui. I think the Phantom whisked her away to keep her safe. Erika is the last of her line. He won't let anything happen to her. Just as he protected her all those years ago."

A tall young man walked towards Buquet and Lestrade. He was dressed as a rock star. His brown eyes shown with merriment. He carried a small bundle in his arms.

"Monsieur Buquet, we found the back-up set from the play. Now we don't have to rebuild," the young man blurted out.

"Really, Shawn? How did you find them?"

"This cat led us to them." Shawn beamed as he presented a lilac Siamese cat to Buquet. The cat mewed and jumped to Buquet. The cat cuddled close and began to purr.

"Hello to you too, Ayesha. The Phantom must have heard our plight, to send you out," Buquet cooed to the cat before turning to Shawn. "Have Krissi inspect the sets and bring them up."

Shawn nodded before running off to find Krissi. Buquet placed Ayesha on the stage> Ayesha walked over to Lestrade and wove through her legs, purring loudly. Buquet smiled gently.

"She likes you, inspector. You must have a good soul," Buquet stated softly as Lestrade leaned over to scratch the cat's ears.

Lestrade looked up to see that Buquet had disappeared. However, Madame Firmin was walking towards her to take his place. The Madame seemed worried as she motioned for Holmes to join them. Once the three of them were together, the Madame showed them two notes.

"I just received these on my desk and can't tell which is from the real Phantom. Since you two are so hot to find him, maybe you can tell me," Madame Firmin remarked gravely.

"My dear Managers, I have taken Erika Noir away until our distinguished guests can find out who is out to kill her. Don't worry, she is safe with me and will sing tomorrow night. Your obedient servant, O.G. " Sherlock read. "Well, this is in keeping with his personality that we have seen so far."

Lestrade looked at the other letter and read, "Managers, if you value your theater and company, Mademoiselle Noir will not sing tomorrow night. She is the true poison in the theater. If she sings tomorrow I will bring a plague of death on the Opera House. You have been warned, The Phantom. Holmes, we have two Phantoms running around again."

"So I see." Holmes smiled, "Madame, The Phantom will never hurt the Opera House, am I correct?"

The Madame nodded, "Oui. He has guarded the Opera since it was first built."

"So he couldn't have written the letter Lestrade is holding. However we do have a deadly impersonator running around. I would suggest that security be tightened at tomorrow night's performance. For now, we should all rest. I have a feeling tomorrow will a long day."

The Madame smiled. "Merci, Monsieur Holmes. My husband and I agree with your plan and we will meet you here early in the morning."

"Good, we will see you then," Holmes stated before leaving.

Lestrade turned to Holmes, "What plan are you talking about?"

Holmes smirked. "I'll explain at the hotel. Shall we?"

Moriarty moved through the back stage area, silently. The stage crew had left for their beds hours ago so Moriarty had the theater to himself. He was moving toward the entrance to the cellars when a movement across the stage caught his eye. He turned and looked around to see who else was there. No one was to be seen.

Suddenly, he heard someone running along the catwalk. He walked away from the cellar door. His eyes were focused on the catwalks high above his head. Something glittered high above him. And a light laughter reached his ears. Was that Erika?

Moving quickly and as quietly as he could, Moriarty gave chase. When his quarry moved he moved, when she stopped he stopped. Soon she was gone from his sight and other senses. Moriarty moved towards where she was last seen. There was two ways she could have gone; up or down. He soon saw a beam of moonlight ahead of him. Moriarty hurried forward to find a door. He pushed it open and froze at the beauty in front of him.

Her hair was down and floated on the wind. It framed her slender face, which was now free of her mask. Her robe was a deep blue which accented her eyes. The moonlight drew his eyes to a beautiful gold chain that hung around her neck. A gold ring graced the chain. She was bathed in moonlight as she gazed at the stars. Moriarty didn't remember moving, but somehow he was by her side. Erika turned to him and smiled gently, coyly.

Her voice was a soft as the breeze as she greeted him, "Hello, Professor. It is a lovely night, is it not?"

Moriarty caught her chin in his hand. He wasn't sure what possessed him to take this course of action, but he felt compelled to follow it. His face was inches from hers when he answered her question.

"Oui, it is now."

Lust (walks out and looks at what was typed): To kiss or not to kiss? That is the question. Hey, Mysha, there's a lot of kissing in this fic.

MW: You would notice that, wouldn't you? (to her readers) When you review the omelet of your choice is waiting for you. Thanks.


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