Masquerade

Chapter 4: Musical Interlude

by Myshawolf (myshawolf at yahoo.com)

General Disclaimer

Chapter 4- Musical Interlude

Lestrade sat at Leroux' desk while she leafed through the old files. She read the report of the Phantomís supposed murder a few times to make sure she understood the details. A few things didnít add up.

According to the Count, he was walking down la Rue Scribe when he spotted a masked man manhandling a beautiful young woman. Being a gentleman, he walked up to assist the young woman. He and The Phantom struggled while the young woman got away. The phantom tried to pursue her and The Count shot him a few times. The Count had taken off The Phantomís cloak and was about to unmask the man when he was attacked again by an unknown assailant. He ran off and went straight to the police station. Something wasnít right.

Beth sighed as she put down the affidavit and picked up the DNA report on the cape. Her brow furrowed as she read the results. Something definitely wasnít right. According to the report, three different DNA sequences were found on the cloak. One belonging to the Count was found in trace amounts. One of the others was found in massive amounts and was ascribed to the Phantom. The last one was similar to the Phantomís DNA and was found in one spot in the front of the cloak. It was unidentified, much like the Phantomís.

But how could that be? Everyoneís genetic profile was registered with the worldís governments. It made for easy identifications of people who couldnít be identified otherwise. She puzzled over the matter so much that she didnít hear Leroux approach.

"Whatís wrong, Beth?" he asked, snapping Lestrade out of her thoughts.

"This DNA report. How could someone slip through the cracks like that?"

Leroux thought for a moment and then answered, "Actually, itís not that hard. When you are born your DNA is collected and catalogued for easy identification later. Hospitals and doctors are responsible for that. However, thatís assuming that every baby is born in a hospital or in the presence of a doctor."

"Are you saying there are children who born without medical assistance? Isnít that dangerous?"

"It can be. But if there is a midwife present, then itís just like being in a hospital. Except thereís no one to take the DNA sample. And when you try to get an ID on some?"

"There isnít a match. So the Phantom really is a ghost to the outside world. Wait, there has to be a written birth record."

Leroux smiled at his niece and nodded. He could at least point her in the right direction. He suggested, "A little bit of lying and someone could slip through the cracks."

Lestrade smiled brightly, "I have to visit the Public Records Office. If Sherlock or Watson come looking for me thatís where Iíll be."

Before Leroux could answer, she was out the door. He smiled wider. She was just like her father.

Since no one was at the Opera House today. Nadir descended into the depths of the theater. He walked slowly and silently so no one could follow him. His one arm was raised to the level of his eyes. He soon came to the fifth cellar and stared at the lake that appeared before him. Lowering his arm, he walked to an awaiting boat. As he was about to set sail when a figure jumped out at him.

"Boo!" the figure shouted. Nadir was so startled; he lost his balance and fell over board into the lake. Musical laughter echoed over the lake. Nadir glared at his masked friend. He stood up and went to walk towards the laughing Phantom. Only the lake had other ideas when he fell down face-first into the murky waters. The Phantom laughed even harder.

"Nadir, you should see yourself." The Phantom chuckled softly.

"You are not funny, Noir," Nadir growled when he finally got his balance back. The Phantom smiled brightly from the boat. It flicked a lock of its long dark hair over its shoulder.

"So, what did you find out?" the Phantom asked.

"Iím not sure if I should tell you now."

"Ah, come on. You always did hold a grudge. I remember when we were in school."

"So do I. You always got us into trouble."

"You always got us out. So what is happening in the mortal realm?"

"Fine. Monsieur Holmes spent the day in the library researching your family history. I think he has discovered the connection between the Noirs and the de Chagnies."

"Weíll see how good he is if he could tie it to our present situation. Continue."

"Inspector Lestrade has been investigating your fatherís demise, or at least that what I overheard Holmes telling that robot who was with him."

"Ah, Watson."

"Who?"

"The robotís name is Watson. He is very polite."

"You met him?!"

"Not directly, if you catch my drift."

"Unfortunately I do. Calotte quit today after someone taped her dressing room door shut."

"Actually it was glued shut."

"You had a part in it, didnít you?"

"I made the glue, old friend. And the solvent that we used to open the door back up. It was my strongest yet."

"Mon Dieu. I hope you never walk on the side of the devils. The world wonít survive it."

The Phantom rolled its eyes. "Whatever. How did the Count take it?"

"He was very upset with the company. However he isnít backing down either. He is demanding that the Firmins find the culprit."

"Right. Like they can."

"Iím not going there since they pay my bills," Nadir stated firmly. "I also want to register my complaint about your plan tonight."

"Whatís wrong with it now?"

"I donít want you to put yourself in foolish danger. Moriarty is a dangerous criminal mastermind."

"He is also seeking me. Nadir, how long until he starts showing up at the Opera looking for me? Before things start to happen and innocents are killed or injured because he wants to lure me out?"

"A noble sentiment from someone who claims to be born in darkness."

"And I will die in darkness. But that doesnít mean others will have to suffer my fate."

"I just donít trust him."

"He is like Holmes, a Victorian gentleman. He may be on the wrong side of the law, but he is still a gentleman. So am I. I think I can make it through dinner with him. Donít worry, Nadir, neither do I. Thatís why I want you and Danesh to be present in case anything happens."

Nadir sighed as he stood on the shore, "You think of everything, donít you?"

The Phantom only smiled, "Now I have to get ready for my meeting. I will see you there at about 7:30."

"I donít have a choice, do I?"

The Phantom laughed, "None, old friend."

With that said the Phantom set sail across the lake towards its home. Nadir shook his head. Little water drops fell from it. Nadir sighed, he should hurry home to change and convince his partner to join him later on. He started back up the stairs.

Sherlock shifted through the old books in the Operaís library. He glanced at his watch. The Arabian man hadnít been by in awhile. That was a good thing. Holmes didnít like the feeling of being watched intently when he worked. In fact, he nearly figured out who the original Phantom was and how he got to live in the Opera House.

Erik Noir was a genius of a man with only one problem; he was horribly disfigured in the face. He enjoyed music and poured his heart into the construction of the Opera House. According to the archives, Erik disappeared shortly before the Opera House was complete. The records did not record what his fate was. Holmes had a hunch about what happened. The events that took place fifteen years later proved it to him.

Sherlock even learned about the fate of Miss Daae. She died after a performance of a rare affliction. However, no one even knew that she was sick. He remembered hearing her in London during one of her rare trips outside of Paris. She was a true artist with the ability to become the character and emulate their thoughts and feeling to the audience. Sherlock closed his eyes and he could still hear her voice sing the Jewel Song from Faust. The song changed from the aria to a slow song. He frowned when he could not place the song. Suddenly he realized that it wasnít a memory that the song was coming from. Someone was singing it now. Intrigued, he followed the voice.

You are sunlight
And I moon
Joined by the gods
Of Fortune
Midnight and high noon
Sharing the sky
We have been blessed
You and I

Sherlock walked out on to the giant stage. The beautiful voice echoed all around him. Mesmerized, he tried to figure out where it came from. He looked up at the catwalk, trying to see if someone was up there. Nothing but the ropes greeted his sight. The song continued softly. Sherlock thought he saw a flicker of movement off in the opposite wing. Sherlock ran towards it.

You came here like a mystery
Iím from a world
That's so different from
All that you are
How in the light of
One night did we come so far

As Sherlock turned a corner, he crashed into Watson. Both steadied themselves. Watson straightened his cloak. The voice continued to sing its song.

"Holmes, I was just looking for you. Inspector Lestrade just contacted me," Watson started.

"Watson, can you tell me where that voice is coming from?" Sherlock asked quickly.

"Of course, Holmes," Watson stated seriously and paused before answering, "The lobby area, itís female by its tone."

"Come. We donít have a moment to lose. We may yet meet the Opera Ghost."

Sherlock took off for the lobby area. Watson sighed as best he could and followed. He didnít know what was so special about finding out who was singing. Being a robot, he was immune to the spell that the singer was weaving.

Outside day starts to dawn
Your moon still floats on high
The birds awake
The stars still shine
My hands still shake
I reach for you
And we meet in the sky

Sherlock reached the lobby in record time. He froze to see a young woman dressed in a long black dress walk through the lobby, singing. She paused in her song. Sherlock felt himself begin to surface from the spell he was under. He hadnít felt that way since Miss Daaeís performance centuries ago. The woman turned towards the painting of Miss Daae. Sherlock could see her hair was a dark brown color, dressed in a style similar to Miss Daaeís and secured with a black ribbon. He was about to walk towards her when she turned towards him. Her face was identical to Miss Daaeís, right down to her startling blue eyes. The woman smiled at him and finished her song.

You are sunlight
And I moon
Joined here
Brightening the sky
With the flame
Of love
Made of sunlight
Moonlight

Sherlock blinked and found the woman to be gone. Watson joined his side momentarily. Sherlock pushed a hand through his sandy blonde hair. Was there two Phantoms running around? The Phantom himself and Christine Daae? Two different entities haunting the same place trying to find each other. Sherlock looked at Watson.

"I suppose you didnít see the woman leave, did you?" Sherlock asked

"No, Holmes," Watson answered. "Now, Inspector Lestrade has found some things of interest that may help. She is waiting for us at the hotel."

"Of course, let me get my things from the library," Holmes stated as he began to walk away. He took one last look at the lobby for any sign of the woman. Finding nothing, he walked away with Watson by his side. *********************************************

Moriarty in a disguise entered Le Restaurant d'Harmonie at 8 oíclock. The restaurant was fashioned with a dance floor in the center which was surrounded by tables. To the left of the door was a set of stairs that led to the second floor dining area. The place was packed with customers. Many were members of local theater groups including the Paris Opera Company. A young man with wavy brown hair walked up to him.

"Can I help you, Monsieur?" the young man asked.

"Iím here to meet with someone from the Opera House?" Moriarty remarked carefully, not sure how much to reveal. The man understood and frowned.

"Are you a professor?" the man questioned and when Moriarty nodded, he sighed, "Your host asked me to look out for you. Please follow me."

The young man walked through the tables to a secluded area led to several rooms. A few had heavy curtains drawn closed to give their occupants some privacy. Moriarty had to acknowledge the Phantomís wisdom of picking a secluded place. The man stood to the side when they reached a small room lit by candlelight. Moriarty stepped in and nearly dropped through the floor. Sitting at the table, absorbed in a book, sat a striking young woman with dark brown hair.

Moriarty turned to the young man and grabbed his by his shirt, "Where is the Phantom?"

"Monsieur, please, is this where he should be?" the young man stammered.

"Put him down, Professeur Moriarty. He didnít lead you to the wrong place." The woman spoke softly. Moriarty dropped the man intrigued by the womanís statement. As he walked back into the room, he could see a small smile playing around her mouth. She put her book down and picked her glass of white wine.

"Please sit, Professeur Moriarty. It seems we have much to discuss," she stated before taking a sip of her wine, "I hope you donít mind but I order a bottle of vintage Pinot Grigio. If you would prefer something else, do not hesitate to ask for it."

"I would like to know who you are for starters." Moriarty demanded as he sat down. Her eyes met his and Moriarty had a feeling of dťjŗ vu.

"My name is Erika Noir." Erika smiled as she extended her hand to him. Moriarty gently took it, unsure of how to play it. Finally breeding broke through and he placed a soft kiss on the back of her hand. Erikaís cheeks were tinged pink when she pulled it back. Her next words brought a small smile to his lips.

"Iím glad to meet a man with good manners and Iím not related to him for once." Erika grinned.

"The last time I kissed a womanís hand, I got called a clonehead," Moriarty stated.

"Thatís a shame." Erika sighed, "There are so few people in the world who have class."

Moriarty nodded and decided to change the subject. "Now I was led to believe that the Phantom was going to meet me. Where is he?"

Erika smiled in a mysterious way, as if she knew something he didnít, "The Phantom decided at the last minute that he couldnít put himself at risk with the Count currently calling for his blood. So he asked me to meet with you and give you a message."

With that said, Erika reached into her purse and pulled out a letter. She handed to Moriarty. Moriarty took it and began to open it, eager to read what the Phantom had to say. He stopped himself. It would be rude to ignore Erika. Erika seemed to know where his thoughts lay and motioned that he continue with his task. Moriarty smiled his thanks and opened the letter. He scanned it twice and sighed. Folding it back up, he looked at Erika again. The Phantom had made his feelings quite clear. Moriarty cleared his throat to get her attention. Erika back at him and sat a little straighter.

"Iím sorry. Someone I donít particularly care for walked in," Erika said calmly as she picked up her wine again.

Moriarty nodded and decided to continue on with his plan. "The Phantom has great confidence in you. He informed me to talk to you as if I was talking to him."

Erika smirked. "It must be hard for you to treat a woman as an equal."

It was Moriartyís turn to smirk. "Not at all. I learned early -- never underestimate anyone, no matter their gender."

"I stand corrected. Sorry. What is troubling you about this arrangement?"

"I prefer to make my proposal in person."

"In the Phantomís presence? Youíll get your chance; if you can convince me he should accept it. Think of me as the door to the Phantom."

"An interesting analogy."

"But true. Now tell me why you are seeking the Phantom."

Before Moriarty could answer a shadow fell across the table. Standing in the doorway was a tall blonde-haired man. He was dressed in what would pass for high fashion these days. He was smiling charmingly, but it never reached his eyes. He was focused solely on Erika. Erika flashed Moriarty a reassuring smile before she turned to face the man. Her eyes narrowed on the young man. They stared at each other for a long time. Tension filled that small room.

The man spoke up first. "Erika, what a pleasant surprise. I thought you were dead."

A/N: The song is "Sun and Moon" from the opera Miss Saigon .

TO BE CONTINUED

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