Chapter 12: Masks Off
by Myshawolf (myshawolf at yahoo.com)
Myshawolf walks out with a notebook. Nightmare is right
MW: Another chapter is up. We are hitting the end of this little
Nightmare: Good. Maybe you can concentrate on Atlantis like your beta
wants you to.
MW: *smiles* Eventually. Hey, Northstar, if Auron gives you too hard of
a time, we can introduce him to Nightmare. Jaka, I'm working on a
present for you. It should be ready by the next chapter. Iara, I'm
glad someone likes the Erika/Moriarty thing. I can't think of anything
Nightmare: Good. Now you got graduate work to do, young lady. That
research paper isn't going to type itself.
MW as she is being dragged away: On with the show.
Erika hurriedly got dressed in her dressing room. Star North
watched her with a smile. Eventually she got Erika to sit still long
enough to do her make up. Erika closed her eyes as Star streaked the
powder across her cheeks. Madame Giry walked in. She was dressed in
black in order to make her harder to see offstage.
"Are you nervous, Erika?" Madame Giry asked.
"Very," Erika admitted as she opened her eyes. "It feels like
this is the final act."
"In a sense it is. The Count has refused to attend because you
are singing," Madame Giry informed her.
"Good riddance to bad rubbish," Star stated as she put the
finishing touches on Erika's makeup. "Now I will be waiting stage
right of the wings to touch up your makeup. Now I have to hurry
before Auron comes looking for me."
Madame Giry snorted, "That slave driver? I thought he was
ordered to back off."
Star shrugged as she packed up her supplies. "Like that ever
stops him. Got to run. Break a leg, Erika."
"Bye, Star," both ladies said with a smile.
Nadir and Danesh entered the dressing room. Danesh presented
Erika with a bouquet of fresh daisies and carnation. Erika smiled as
she accepted them and gave each a kiss on each cheek.
"Merci," Erika sighed as she took in their scent.
"Anything for our little sister. Good luck tonight." Danesh
smiled as he hugged her.
"Your father would be proud of you, Noir." Nadir smiled.
"Your whole family line would be proud of you." Madame Giry
beamed proudly, then began to usher everyone out. "Let give her a
moment alone. I will be back in five minutes for curtain."
"Oui, Madame Giry," Erika giggled as she went back to getting
dressed. Gently, she put on her hoop earrings. As she fixed her hair
with a headscarf, one of the younger stagehands walked in with a
small bouquet of red and white roses. Erika walked up to take them.
She looked at the stagehand questioningly. "Where did these come
"I don't know, mademoiselle. I was handed them by a tall man
who was by the backstage area," the stagehand reported.
"Was he exceedingly polite and have a British accent?"
"Go back for me and tell him thank you for the roses; I owe him
another kiss. And if he wants to come back here, let him."
"Oui, mademoiselle," the stagehand remarked as he left the
dressing room. "Excuse me, Gaspar, Royce."
Erika watched as the two new stagehands walked into her
dressing room. Gaspar closed the door. Erika watched amused as the two
removed their hats and fake mustaches to reveal their true identities.
"Detectives!" Erika exclaimed, happy to see them. "You didn't
need disguises to come backstage. I'm sure Nadir would have let you
"He almost didn't this morning," Lestrade griped.
"We are incognito, Mademoiselle Noir, because I think someone
is going to try to sabotage the play tonight with a strong possibility
of harming you in the process," Holmes stated strongly.
"Do you know whom?" Erika asked with a smile.
"I have a strong suspicion. Can you tell us what really
happened to Christine Daae-Noir? That is the only piece that I'm
missing from the puzzle."
"Perhaps some other time soon. Tonight is not a night to bring
up the past," Erika said. "You'd better hurry. Buquet likes having
his people in place at least fifteen minutes ahead of time."
The two replaced their masks and walked towards the door.
Holmes stopped and turned around. "Tell me, Mademoiselle Noir, how
close is Moriarty to the truth?"
Erika smiled sadly. "Closer than even he knows, just as are
you. Until after the limelight, Monsieur Royce."
The two detectives left the dressing room. Erika sat at her
vanity. She closed her eyes and folded her hands. Silently she prayed
to God and her father for strength as she performed on the same stage
as her ancestors. A familiar, yet dangerous presence woke her out of
Erika flung herself to the floor as the gunshot rang out.
Several bottles on her dresser shattered. Erika rolled away and ducked
into the alcove that hid her cot. She heard several shouts and the
sound of retreating footsteps. She closed her eyes and tried to calm
down her beating heart. That was close. A voice reached her ears that
caused her heart to race again.
"Mademoiselle Noir, are you all right?" Moriarty asked as he
walked into her dressing room. The broken glass crunched under his
Erika opened her eyes to stare into his gray ones. She noticed
that he was wearing an elastomask. Erika nodded as she let go of the
breath she had been holding in. He was about to say more when Royce
cleared his throat. The two looked at him.
Royce quirked an eyebrow and Moriarty realized that Royce was
Sherlock. He stood, and helped Mademoiselle Noir up as well.
"Did you see your attacker, Mademoiselle Noir?" Royce asked.
Gaspar stood by the door of the dressing room as if to stand guard.
Moriarty smirked. Lestrade really needed to hide her stance a little
"No, Monsieur Royce, I was saying a prayer and had my eyes
closed. It was a good thing I fell from my chair when I did."
Royce nodded and addressed the stranger. "Did you see anything,
"Unfortunately, I didn't. I was just clearing the crowd when I
heard the shot."
Nadir raced up to the room and stated, "We lost him. There is
no time to search the Opera House to be sure he is gone. I will advise
the managers to postpone tonight's performance."
"No, Khan. That is what my attacker wants. I'm fine and can
perform just as well," Erika protested.
"We can't protect you when you are on the stage," Nadir pointed
"I will not hide or run away anymore, Khan. I've done that for
far too long. I will take a stand tonight."
"As you wish. Please be careful, my friend."
"I will. I have no intention of dying any time soon."
Nadir gave a little bow and told Erika, "I will suggest
that we delay curtain time until we can be sure that he is no
"Of course." Erika smiled as the small group of rescuers left
her room. Royce gave a long look to the stranger before leaving the
room. Erika sighed as she turned to her visitor. She whispered, "It's
pleasure to see you again, Professor. But you shouldn't have come."
"I thought we stopped Moran's attempts on your life."
"You did. Now the one who paid him is taking matters into his
own hands. Don't worry for me. I can take care of myself."
"So I have seen. I came to wish you luck, Mademoiselle Noir. I
look forward to watching your performance tonight."
Erika smiled brightly. "Thank you for your kind words,
Professor. Your flowers are beautiful."
"I will go now, Mademoiselle, and take my seat," Moriarty
excused himself as he kissed her hand. "Au revoir, Erika."
Erika smiled even wider, "Au revoir, James."
Moriarty smiled to himself as he walked away for the dressing
room. There was a definite spring in his step as he approached the
The best place to watch a play isn't from the front row or the
balcony. It is from the backstage, watching not only the magic of the
actors transforming into their characters, but also the stage crew
working together to further the story through the changing of the
sets. One can see the actors behind a closed curtain take their spots
and wait for their cue.
It was easy to share the quiver of excitement that hummed in the
air when the orchestra hit the final bars of the overture and the
curtain opened, revealing the beautiful structure of Notre Dame. A young
man stepped forward, dressed in the clothes of a minstrel. He sang about
the eternal present of the great stone cathedral and the new threat of
infidels to Paris. His voice rose and sunk with each word as it
should. As he finished, Royce noticed that he didn't wear a
microphone or any equipment to help project his voice. He turned to
ask Gaspar about this.
"I'm not sure why," Gaspar answered.
Nadir walked over to them and after Royce repeated his
question, Nadir smiled. "That is simple. This theater was built for
good acoustics. A singer doesn't need a microphone because he can project
well already, with the design of the theater. Plus, like the
old-fashioned limes, the company wanted everything to remain as
authentic as possible to when the theater originally opened."
Royce nodded and turned back to the stage area. The stage was
in semi darkness as the lightening crew began to start up a new lime
light. As the music swelled the light began to get brighter. Soon a
beautiful voice began to sing softly as she describe the forces that
have guided her life. At the key change, Erika burst in the glowing
limelight, dressed in colorful gypsy clothing as she became Esmeralda
the gypsy girl. The whole theater became deathly quiet as she sang in
bright and clear voice about her life and how she came to Paris.
Around her sat the chorus dressed as refugees and fellow gypsies.
Gaspar looked around backstage to see that everyone stopped to
watch her sing and dance. When the song ended, Esmeralda waited for
the next song to begin. The audience soon was applauding very loudly
as did everyone backstage. Soon the orchestra to play, quieting
everyone down. The backstage crew continued to work. Erika and the
new play, Notre Dame de Paris, were going to be a rousing success.
Moriarty enjoyed the show from his position high up in the
rafters. He watched the rehearsal for places the stage crew didn't go.
He noticed that they didn't go too high for the stage. He watched
Erika perform her best. Once or twice she would look up at him during
time offstage. He had the best view in the house. He was far enough
away to be hidden but yet he could still see. Next to him, Fenwick was
keeping an eye out for any possible intruders. He could sense that
Fenwick wanted to question him about why they were watching Erika,
instead of searching for the Phantom. Ever so often, Moriarty would
glare at his lackey, silencing him every time.
He refocused on the drama that unfolded below him. It was the
final scene as Esmeralda awaits her death. Erika was playing the gypsy
girl quite well. She seemed so alone as she pleaded for one last night
to be with the one she loved, and to finally be free. Moriarty closed
his eyes as her voice reached his ears.
Erika turned her bright blue eyes to the audience. They were her
judge and jury. With a grace that hadn't been seen since the days of
Christine Daae, she moved upstage as she sang her final aria.
A million stars light
This beautiful night
This is not a night to die
Let me sing and dance
Beneath the sky
I have such love to give
I want a chance to live
Royce watched her, transfixed, as he had when he first heard
Christine Daae. It was like the past was coming to life and trying to
live again. He reached for Gaspar's hand, understanding the message of
For the one I love
As no one has loved
Asking nothing in return
Gaspar gripped Royce's hand as she watched Erika sing. There
were tears in her eyes. She wanted to help the poor gypsy girl who was
condemned to die because she loved the wrong man.
Free to find my way
Free to have my say
Free to see the day
Erika turned away from the audience in shame that she should be
begging for their mercy. She turned her eyes to the unseen stars and
sang to them.
Like I used to be
Like a wild bird free
With all of life in me
A cloaked figure walked on to the stage. Priest robes could be
seen under the cloak. It seemed Claude Frollo was making one last
visit to the gypsy to make his final offer: love him or die. Erika
didn't see him as she made her final wish to the stars.
For the one I love
As no one has loved
Asking nothing in return
"This isn't part of the play," Royce heard Shawn whisper to
"Go get Nadir," Krissi hissed back. Shawn nodded as he ran to
find the head of security. Royce pulled out his cane, ready to fight
if the need arose.
Though this world tears us apart
We're still together in my heart
I want the world to hear my cry
And even if I have to die
Love will not die
Love will change the world
Erika turned towards the cloaked figure. As she turned, the
figure pulled out an oldfashioned gun and fired a shot. Erika felt
the bullet hit her shoulder. She collapsed to the ground. Red blood
began to stain her white shift.
The figure moved towards her. Moriarty began to race towards
the stairs, Fenwick hot on his heels. Royce and Gaspar ran out on
to the stage, shedding their disguises as they went. Gaspar/Lestrade
pulled out her ionizer and took aim at the intruder.
"Stop!" Royce/Holmes shouted, "And show yourself."
The figure turned and pulled down his hood to reveal the
Phantom. A gasp came over the audience. The Phantom grinned evilly at
Holmes. His brown eyes gleamed with triumph.
"I thought the Phantom was Erika's friend," Lestrade said to
Holmes, not taking her eyes off the masked man.
"He is. This is a fake. The real Phantom has blue eyes. In fact,
the exact same shade as Mademoiselle Noir's," Holmes stated
"Very clever, Monsieur Holmes," the fake Phantom smiled. "Too
bad you are too late to stop me. I have completed my real mission. The
Phantom is dead."
"Are you so sure?" the Phantom's voice asked.
The Faker's face dropped at the sound of the voice. He turned
to see Erika Noir standing up. Her right hand covering her wound on
her left shoulder. Her blue eye literally glowed with a dark emotion
that was beyond hate. Holmes noticed her aura and presence was very
different from what he had seen from her, yet it was very close to the
Erika flicked her brown hair over her shoulder. Slowly she
approached her attacker. Moriarty froze halfway down the stairs. He
heard the Phantom also, yet wasn't sure where he was. He watched,
concerned, as Erika walked up to her attacker. She opened her mouth to
sing, only to hear a different voice come out the Phantom's voice.
Erika smiled hatefully as she moved. She stopped a few feet
away. Her attacker was in shock that she was still alive. Erika sang
in the Phantom's voice to her attacker.
For the one I love
As no one has loved
Asking nothing in return
I'll love until love wears me away
I'll die and I know my love will stay
And I know, I know my love will stay
Erika gripped the mask and ripped it off the fake Phantom's
face. Ruelle, the Count de Chagny, glared at her with pure hate. Erika
moved away, holding the white mask. In a symbolic move that revealed
more than any words, she placed it up to her face.
Say you'll share with me
One love, one lifetime
Lead me, save me
From my solitude.
Say you want me
Here beside you.
The Count growled darkly. He aimed his gun again at her. Erika
dove for him. The gun went off. Erika felt the bullet graze her face
as she tackled the Count. A trapdoor opened magically behind them and
the two fell from sight. The trapdoor swung shut, swallowing the two
mortal enemies into the Underworld's night, possibly never to be seen
Anywhere you go
Let me go too.
My enemy, that's
All I ask of you.
Thunder walks out, munching on an apple: Review, ladies and
gentlemen, or Nightmare will be paying people a visit. Also, please
check out Jaka Ray's stories and setting. She writes some interesting
On to Chapter 13!
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