Masquerade

Chapter 11: Meeting of the Minds 2

by Myshawolf (myshawolf at yahoo.com)
(10/5/03)

General Disclaimer

Myshawolf is sitting at her computer typing. Nightmare is looking over her shoulder with her bow and arrows ready.

Nightmare: I can't believe you are filing away Chapter 11.

Lust walks in: What is Mysha doing?

Nightmare: Filing Chapter 11.

Lust: WHAT!? You mean she's broke!

Nightmare: Have you been drinking ambrosia again? Where did you get that idea?

Lust: You said she was filing Chapter 11. Chapter 11 means you are bankrupt a.k.a. broke.

Myshawolf begins to hit her head against the keyboard: I thought I gave these guys brains.

Nightmare: The order hasn't come in yet. (to Lust) While Mysha is technically broke, she's not bankrupt. She has just finishing typing Chapter 11 of Masquerade. Lust no Baka! (Translation from Japanese: Lust, you are an idiot. *or something like that*) No omelet for you.

Lust: o.O

MW: On with the show!


Chapter 11: Meeting of the Minds 2

Erika watched in shock as Moriarty gently placed his lips on hers. A shock went through her body causing her to relax against him. Moriarty felt her relax and wrapped his free arm around her waist. Erika closed her eyes and enjoyed the soft kiss. It was tender and spoke of the mutual respect that they had for each other. Erika nearly protested when she felt Moriarty move away. She opened her eyes to see him staring over Paris. Erika looked out as well. The rules were changing again.

She felt a hand brush her cheek. When she looked back, he was gone. Erika stood on the roof motionless for a few minutes. Gently her fingers touched her lips and she nearly cried. Why did he do that? Why did he kiss her? In the distance, the bells of Norte Dame rang out the time. Erika closed her eyes as she listened to their beautiful melody. She gazed back at the stars.

"Goodnight, Papa," Erika whispered before leaving the starry night.

Moriarty decided to follow her back to the Phantom's home. As she moved along the catwalk, Erika sensed she wasn't alone. Glancing over her shoulder, she could see a figure moving stealthily behind her. Erika decided to give the intruder a chase like one never had seen before. She broke into a run down the catwalk. Behind her, she could hear her pursuer. A sly smile touched her lips as she launched herself into the ropes high above the stage. She gripped the rope tightly before sliding down it to the next level of catwalks. Erika landed gracefully and ran down that catwalk to the next set of ropes. Moriarty watched her move with a kind of grace he had never seen before. His eyes, filled with silent admiration, never left her.

Soon she landed on the stage. Moriarty held his breath as she gazed back up at him. She was sitting on the stage, looking refreshed and excited. Moriarty was about to hurry down, when he heard an eerie creaking come from the stage. He looked down to watch Erika slide below the stage via a trapdoor that opened below her. The stage opened its mouth and swallowed her up like she was sacrifice to its power over people. Moriarty frantically hurried down the steps to the stage level.

He didn't bother to check the stage but hurried to the cellars. Remembering the advice he had overheard two young members give Lestrade and Holmes, he brought his hand to the level of his eyes. Ahead he could hear Erika's laughter echoing in the hallway. He raced on with a vague feeling he was chasing a ghost. Soon he came to a set of stairs. He hesitated for a moment before rushing down them and froze in shock at the sight in front of him.

Spread out before him was a beautiful lake. Its waters gleamed in the torchlight. Moriarty walked to the water's edge in a trance. His mind could only think one thought -- the rumors were true. Moriarty stared out over the lake to see a boat. A woman's voice singing reached his ears. His eyes focused on the boat; he could make out a figure in black standing as it steered the boat. It blocked Moriarty's view of the rest of the boat. So, he had a lake to conquer in order to reach the Phantom's lair. Moriarty smiled as he turned away. Tonight was very productive indeed. He gently touched his lips as he thought of the kiss he shared with Erika. They would need to talk.

The Opera House was bustling the next morning as the stage crew tried to get the sets and lights ready for that night's performance. Buquet was shouting out orders left and right. The more experienced stage hands just rolled their eyes and kept working.

Out towards the front of the stage, the orchestra did a dry runthrough of the score. Every so often the conductor would stop them to give directions. Frany sighed after the tenth time and glanced towards the stage. Krissi was on the stage inspecting the set with Shawn. Looking up, Krissi stuck her tongue at her friend which Frany returned.

"Frany, pay attention," the conductor scolded before continuing his speech.

In the wings the corps were reviewing dance steps and vocals. Madame Giry took the dancers through rigorous moves multiple times. She tapped her cane, keeping time, and every so often would shout out directions or comments.

"Left, my dancers. Areku, Iara, twirl not jump. Once more, my dancers," Madame Giry shouted loudly.

Farther backstage, the makeup and costume crew were repairing costumes and making sure the right costume and makeup were in the right rooms. Music flowed from the rehearsal room as the principals ran through the music before the dress rehearsal. Erika sang with her heart in the music, taking the breath away from everyone who was listening. The managers grinned to themselves. Tonight would be a great success.

Nadir prowled around the theater, making sure the exits were secure. There had been too many late night intruders for his liking. He was checking the lobby when two shabby-looking young men entered the Opera House. Nadir walked over to intercept them.

"Can I help you?" Nadir asked firmly, "The Opera House is closed to the public during rehearsal."

The taller of the two men by a few inches spoke up with a gutter French dialect, "We are the new swing shift. The Firmins hired us to help out with tonight's performance."

Nadir cocked an eyebrow at this. "Really? I will have to check with them. Until then you may wait outside."

Monsieur Firmin shouted as he walked across the lobby, "It is all right, Nadir. My wife had enough of Buquet's belly-aching and hired these gentlemen yesterday. I will take them to Buquet. You may continue your rounds."

Nadir bowed in a way that revealed his Arabian heritage. "Of course, Monsieur Firmin."

Nadir walked away, continuing his round of checking for intruders or possible illegal entrances to the opera. Monsieur Firmin smiled at the two new techs and motioned that they follow him. The two did so silently while Monsieur Firmin chatted continuously about the play tonight. The taller one gave an amused smirk to his companion. His companion smiled back as they walked along the backstage. Buquet came into view as he furiously continued to bark out orders. Monsieur Firmin cleared his throat hoping to catch the man's attention.

"Take a coughdrop, Firmin, if your throat is bothering you," Buquet snapped as he watched his crew work on the stage.

"I have two new swing shifts for you to boss around," Firmin snapped back.

Buquet turned around and looked over the two men. "Not bad. What are your names?"

The taller one spoke up, "I'm Royce and this is Gaspar. He don't talk much. Does good work with the ropes."

Buquet consider this information before speaking. "Really? You two obviously have worked together before. We work in pairs here. So I'll keep you together. We need more people on the stage level with the ropes and curtains. You will part of the stage left team with Krissi and Shawn. They will tell you what to do. Rehearsal is in ten minutes. Any questions?"

Royce shook his head and Buquet nodded his approval before shouting, "Krissi! Shawn! Get over here!"

The two in question ran up and snapped into a salute, "Aye, aye, Captain Queeg!"

Buquet buried his head into the palm of his hand to hide his smile. "Show the newbies the ropes."

"Aye, aye, Captain."

The two newbies stifled a laugh when they glanced at Buquet's frustrated face.

Erika left the rehearsal hall later that day. Her body ached but it was a good ache. As she moved towards her dressing room, she didn't notice the figure stalking her. Erika slipped into her dressing room. After she shut the door, someone grabbed her and covered her mouth. She struggled against her attacker until he spoke.

"Mademoiselle Noir, I'm not here to harm you," Moriarty whispered. "We need to talk."

Erika relaxed against him and nodded. Yes, they needed to talk. Moriarty removed his hands when she had completely relaxed. Erika made no motion to move from her position. Moriarty closed his eyes and gently cursed at Fate. She belonged to the Phantom and was therefore beyond his reach. Eventually Erika moved away and motioned that he take a seat. Moriarty moved to the cot in the corner while Erika sat at the vanity.

Erika spoke first, "You wanted to talk?"

"Apologize, really, for last night," Moriarty stated firmly.

"Do you regret what happened?" Erika asked gently as she played with the makeup tins.

Moriarty remained silent as he thought about what to say. After a moment, he answered, "No, I don't. I would do it again if I could."

Erika looked at him through the mirror. Her expression was masked when she questioned his apology, "Then why apologizes if the action wasn't regretted?"

"Because it wasn't right. You are bound to another. I had no right as a gentleman to do what I did."

"Yet you still did it," Erika grinned to herself, amused. "In your thinking about that kiss, did you ever wonder about my reaction? I will assure you that I do not regret your actions, Professor."

"What are you saying, Mademoiselle?"

"Apology is not accepted," Erika remarked as she stood up and walked to the mirror. "It was a kiss that I gave freely and will keep close to my heart until the day I die."

Moriarty stood as well as she walked over by him. He was surprised by her answer. Her eyes were amused by his reaction as she checked her costumes for the performance. Moriarty opened his mouth to speak, only to find her lips kissing his. Before he could fully react, she was gone from the dressing room. Moriarty walked to the door to find that she had disappeared once again. A swishing sound was heard behind him. Moriarty turned to see the Phantom standing by the mirror.

"So we meet at last, Professor," the Phantom smiled.

"Indeed we do." Moriarty smiled as he shut the door. "I have been trying to find you, Monsieur Phantom."

"So I saw. Erika was worried that you would spring one of my many traps when you chased us last night."

"Where did she go?"

"She is safe right now. They have been too many eyes on her for her to remain safe for long. I must thank you for protecting her so far."

"I can honestly say it was my pleasure. May I make a request?"

"I will not join you, Professor, not while the Count lives free." The Phantom smiled at Moriarty's shocked look, "It's your purpose in being here."

"It seems the rumors don't do you credit."

"They rarely do. Be careful with Erika, Professor, I will not tolerate her becoming a pawn in this game of wits."

"Are you warning me away from her?"

"No. Merely giving out some good advice." The Phantom smirked as he dropped two black balls. A moment passed until a thick smoke flowed out of them. As Moriarty's vision became obscured by the smoke, the Phantom called out, "Until we meet again, Professor."

Moriarty stumbled out of the smoky dressing room, trying to catch his breath. He looked up to see a cloaked figure running away. Shaking his head, Moriarty decided to chase down the Phantom. He hurried after the retreating form.

MW: Sorry it's shorter than usual but Writer's block has smacked me up side the head. I'll make up for it next week. I promise. Nightmare has a few things to say too. Come on out, Mare.

Nightmare walks out and points her bow and arrow at the readers: Okay, I'm currently under order to 'persuade' people to review not only this story but Jaka Ray's stuff as well. I can't believe I'm going to say this title but, the boss is threatening to put me in pink, so the story is "Ruby Roo Reats Rarerock Roams". So hit this review button, then go over and hits that one. If everyone cooperates, you'll get to sleep peacefully tonight. Got it?


On to Chapter 12!

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