Masquerade

Chapter 6: Eros Was Here.

by Myshawolf (myshawolf at yahoo.com)

General Disclaimer

Myshawolf: (walks out with her notebook)

Hey guys. I have a few notes for this chapter. Okay, Jaka Ray was nice enough to loan me a character for this fic. Granted he will only be mentioned, but hey, I like how he is worked into her fic. Two, I'm sure a few people have a few ideas who they think the Phantom is. If you want to take a guess leave it in a review. Three, Moriarty is going to get some romance just not in the normal way. So will Lestrade and Holmes; in fact, things may get a bit...steamy.

Nightmare: (walks out) My husband has been visiting, hasn't he?

MW: Yeah, is it that obvious?

Nightmare: A little.

MW: (shrugs) You have been all over the place as well. (turns to her readers) What else? Oh yeah. Since this story is centered around music, songs are going to be weaved in and out.

Nightmare: Gee, I think they missed that.

MW: (raspberries Nightmare) On with the show!


Chapter 6- Eros Was Here.

The opera was in disarray the next day. It seems the victim in the cemetery was the young diva, Calotte, lover of the Count de Chagny. The Count was convinced that the Phantom killed her to spite him and demanded that the police start looking for him right away. To Lestrade, this was very suspect since Sherlock and herself never told the police that the Phantom was involved.

However, the up side to the whole thing was that Lestrade and Holmes received a warmer welcome than the last time they tried to interview the opera staff. Several people were more willing to talk to them. They wanted to clear their beloved Ghost of any guilt. Even Nadir began to smile at them in passing. However the Ghost remained absent from the theater lately. Lestrade looked for him everywhere or tried to.

"I wonder where he is?" Lestrade commented to Holmes as they strolled towards the Manager's office, "Now that their lead is gone, the managers were hoping the Phantom would present them with another one."

"He will make his presence known when the time is right." Sherlock smiled as he opened the Manager's door for Beth. The Firmins looked up from their pacing. They seemed disappointed in seeing them.

"Sorry, Monsieur and Mademoiselle, but we are expecting someone else." Madame Firmin sighed.

"What if she doesn't come? Mon Dieu, we will be ruined," Monsieur Firmin cried.

"She will come," Madame reassured her husband, "She owes it to her father. This is her home. She won't fail us."

Sherlock cleared his throat, gaining their attention. "Who is this she?"

"A daughter of a friend and former employee. Her father use to play the first chair violin in our orchestra when he was younger. He remained here as a tutor until his death five years ago," Monsieur Firmin explained.

Madame Firmin added, "She left Paris to train in Milan after that. We sent her a letter a few weeks ago when we first heard Calotte sing. Calotte was horrible but the Count insisted we put her on the stage. Since he was our principal patron, how could we refuse his wishes? But we wanted a backup to use when we saw fit and eventually replace Calotte. Alas, she never even acknowledged our letters. She is our last hope."

Lestrade spoke up. "Why wait for her if you don't know that she is coming?"

"She will come," Madame Firmin stated finally and then quickly change the subject, "What can we do for you?"

Sherlock smiled, "We would like to arrange a meeting with the Count de Chagny. There are some things that I would like have him clear up."

Both Firmins froze in shock. Monsieur Firmin reacted first by saying, "He won't be welcoming to you. De Chagny is literally foaming at the mouth because we turned down his suggestion for a replacement."

Sherlock smiled. "Where can we find him?"

"He is staying at his family estate just outside of Paris," Madame Firmin remarked as she wrote down something and handed it to Lestrade, "There's the address. Good luck. You'll need it."

Sherlock thanked them and was leading Lestrade to the door. Nadir burst through the door with an excited but worried expression on his face. Beautiful music flowed through into the room. Nadir placed both hands on the Firmins desk.

"She is back," Nadir informed them.

The managers ran out the door at Nadir's words. Sherlock and Beth followed them curious to who this she was. Nadir walked briskly behind them. Holmes and Lestrade froze at the sight of Madame Firmin hugging Christine Daae.

"That isn't Miss Daae, is it?" Lestrade stammered. Nadir smiled at them as he walked up.

"No, you are not seeing a ghost," Nadir stated as he led the two detectives up to the woman. The lady turned and gave them a beautiful smile. Nadir walked to her side and gestured to the detectives.

Nadir smiled widely. "Detective Holmes, Inspector Lestrade, may I present a lost daughter of the Opera House, Mademoiselle Erika Noir."

Fenwick crept around the Opera's wings trying to gather any information that he could get. Somewhere near by, Moriarty was waiting for him to report. So far, he'd only heard about the murder from the night before and how the Phantom was innocent. Although one of the older dancers remembered a time when the Count used to court Erika Noir when she performed with the Opera Company. She had left for Milan to continue her training after her father passed on in a mysterious accident. Fenwick didn't learn anything more from this dancer since the old witch in charge of the dancers chased him away.

Rubbing his head, Fenwick searched for his master, who had taken to the task of trying to locate the Phantom's lair. Fenwick supposed that was for the best; he didn't like those cellars. After thoroughly searching the stage, Fenwick supposed he should head down.

Suddenly a group of voices reached his ears. Quicker than he usually moved, Fenwick ducked behind a pile of boxes. He watched as the managers escorted a beautiful woman on the stage. Fenwick recognized her as the woman who met with his master the other night. The managers were hinting for her to sing for them. Lingering behind them were Holmes and Lestrade. The woman smiled and stepped on to the main stage. Fenwick followed her with his eyes. A bright light came onto her, causing her to smile brightly and waved to someone high above. Fenwick looked up and noticed his master watching her from the shadows. Fenwick was surprised to see Moriarty openly admiring the woman.

A beautiful sound rung out in the air. Fenwick realized that the woman was singing through the musical scale. She started out slowly at first but it gradually got faster. He noticed that Holmes and Lestrade's faces fell in shock. The woman burst into song. Her voice flowed over the words lightly and with a sacred grace. Fenwick felt himself fall into a trance as she sang. Absently he glanced up at Moriarty. Moriarty had taken a few steps forwards so he was partially concealed by the shadows. His eyes stared at the singer. If Fenwick didn't know better, he would think Moriarty fancied the singer.

The managers clapped loudly as they rushed forward. Fenwick could hear them praise her talents and beg that she stay and sing. The woman smiled and agreed to until they found a more permanent singer. The manager began to usher her away. The woman was laughing and began the scan the heavens above the stage. Her smile began to falter when she meet Moriarty's gaze. They held it as she walked off the stage. Fenwick noticed that her cheeks became tinged with a pink color as she disappeared into the wings.

Fenwick noticed that Moriarty was gone now as well. Good. No need for the detectives to get any closer to the master than was necessary. Fenwick quickly moved away from the stage area and towards the stage exit. Holmes had noticed Fenwick and went to follow the man.

Lestrade turned to ask Holmes a question only to find that he was gone. Uttering a sigh, she turned to follow the manager only to come face to face with the Count de Chagny. The young man seemed annoyed to see her here. His blonde hair was meticulously trimmed. His brown eyes seem to narrow. Lestrade offered him a polite smile.

"Excuse me, monsieur," Lestrade stated as she went to walk by him. The Count smiled at her charmingly. Gently he took her hand and placed a kiss on it.

"That is quite all right, Mademoiselle. I was just caught off guard by the presence of the police here. But now I have noticed your beauty, and I'm thankful for it. You are here to investigate my love's death."

Lestrade was about to deny it, but decided not. Here was her chance to get some information for the Count. Confidently, she confirmed his assumption, "Yes, I am. I was asking your managers where we could find you. They were most helpful. But it seems I won't need their help since you are here."

"Yes, I know. They are not in their office. Can you tell me where they went?"

"They are showing a young soprano around, a Mademoiselle Noir."

The Count's eyes gleamed with a dark emotion. Lestrade had hit a sour note with that name and wondered why. The Count began to swear in an old French dialect that Lestrade hadn't heard before. The Count turned to the young Inspector and seemed to measure her up. Lestrade recognized that look, for she had seen it once before in the eyes of another. She suppressed a shiver against that horrible memory. The Count took her hand again.

"I'm sorry, Mademoiselle Lestrade, but business calls me away. Will you give me the pleasure of your company over dinner at the Café Seine early this evening? I will answer your question then?"

Lestrade agreed, "Of course. My partner may join us, if that is okay, Count de Chagny?"

The Count seemed disappointed as he sighed, "I suppose. Please, call me Ruelle. I will see you there about five. Farewell, chere belle."

The Count walked away. Lestrade couldn't shake the feeling in her stomach that she was getting herself into deeper trouble than she had with William Bern back home. At least Holmes would be there.

"You should be careful, Mademoiselle Lestrade," a soft voice stated from behind her.

Beth turned to stare into the young face of Erika Noir. She was alone this time and Lestrade was able to see past her face. Erika wore a simple sleeveless dress of blue. A silk scarf of a matching hue was wrapped around her shoulders. Beth suddenly realized that Erika was only a few years younger than her or Holmes. Beth gave the young singer a smile.

"Why do you say that?" Lestrade asked.

"He is a dangerous man. He may be charming but that is only what he shows the world. The unfortunate see the devil underneath," Erika stated with great certainty.

"I take it you have some personal experiences with the Count."

"Yes, I am an unfortunate." Erika smiled sadly as she rubbed her front right shoulder, "It cost me a very dear friend and mentor. Possibly my own life, if said friend had not intervened."

"Why are you warning me, Mademoiselle Noir, since we have just met?"

Erika's smile went mysterious in an instant as she replied, "We have met before, Inspector, and shared a mutual acquaintance. If you go tonight, don't turn you back on that man." Erika turned to walk away when Beth grabbed her arm. Erika looked at Beth's hand on her arm and back up at Beth. Beth swallowed.

"Are you related to Christine Daae? You are the spitting image of her portrait," Lestrade asked.

Erika raised an eyebrow at the wording of the question, "Where are you from originally, Inspector?"

Lestrade let go at the offbeat question and answered, "Texas."

"Why did you move to New London?"

"It had more opportunities for me than my hometown," Lestrade replied defensively.

Erika sighed, "That's not the whole story, is it? Not even your detective knows why you moved away. When I left for Milan, I told everyone I was going to train and be a better singer like my Papa wanted. In reality I was running. Running away from my past, recent and ancient. You did the same thing. Someday, we can talk about our reasons for running. Goodbye, Inspector Lestrade, and good luck."

"Wait, Miss Noir," Lestrade shouted. Erika stopped and turned towards her. There was a stage between them now, and yet Lestrade felt a kinship with this young woman. Lestrade smiled. "Call me Beth or just Lestrade."

"Erika."

Erika walked into the shadows. Lestrade stood on the stage alone. With no one around, she felt her mask, her shield against her own past begin to slip. She turned away. Beth knew she couldn't get emotional, not with this case hanging in the balance. Emotions won't get the Count to talk about his past. Beth left to find her partner, unaware she was being watched by a pair of unfriendly brown eyes.

Sherlock followed Fenwick out of the Opera House. Soon Fenwick walked towards a busy Parisian marketplace. Holmes tried to follow him through it, only to lose Fenwick in the bustling crowd. Sherlock began to look around for a place to rest and regroup. When he turned, he crashed into a young darkskinned man. The young man was about to mutter an apology when he noticed the frantic look in the stranger's eye. He grabbed Sherlock's arm and dragged toward the mouth of an alley. Sherlock was about to protest until he realize that the young man was pulling him to an open area. As soon as they reached it, Sherlock took a deep breathe.

"The Parisian market is a killer at this time of day." The young man smiled.

"Thank you for your assistance." Sherlock smiled. He noticed he was carrying several bags of food under one arm.

"My pleasure. Sherlock Holmes, I presume?" the young man asked.

Sherlock looked shocked at the man's insight and perception. The man smiled brightly at the detective's expression and decided to enlighten him.

"My boyfriend works at the Opera House. He told me that you were in town and what you look like," the man informed the detective.

"Who may that be?"

"Nadir Khan, head of security." The man smiled again, "My name is Danesh Nemo. Well, I have to hurry back to the Café. Have a good day, Monsieur Holmes."

"Wait, can you tell me where one can find information on the Opera Ghost?"

Danesh blinked as he thought out loud, "Probably Le Restaurant d'Harmonie over on the Rue Scribe. All the members of the Opera Company go there after performances and rehearsals. You can pick up tidbits there. I'm sorry, Monsieur, but I need to get back to my job. Good luck in your journey."

"Thank you, Monsieur Nemo." Holmes called after the young man. Danesh waved as he disappeared into the crowd. Maybe Lestrade would like to dine out tonight.

Lestrade waited in the hotel room for Sherlock to return. Watson was still with her uncle scanning the old police files from the original affair with the Phantom of the Opera. Etienne promised Lestrade that he would look after the robot for the night. She had just picked out a dress for the evening when Holmes returned. Lestrade smiled, which Sherlock returned.

"How would you feel about dining out?" they asked each other at the same time. They froze when they realized the other had a plan.

"The Count de Chagny invited us out to the Café Seine for an early dinner," Lestrade drawled first, watching Holmes' reaction. Holmes was surprised.

"I got a tip that Le Restaurant d'Harmonie is a good place to pick up information on the Phantom," Holmes countered softly.

"Well, we can't go to both places together," Lestrade pointed out.

Holmes nodded, "Why don't we keep our separate engagements, but keep in touch in case the other comes up with something?"

Lestrade didn't like the idea of them splitting up, but agreed nonetheless. They could cover more ground that way. She picked up her dress and went to change. Holmes stepped out of the room to give her some privacy.

As he stood in the hall, he felt a little angry that she was getting dressed up for the Count. He was hoping she would accompany him to the restaurant. Instead she was going to the Café Seine to dine with a murder suspect. Holmes snorted to himself. She'll be bored to death. Then Holmes stopped midthought. He would never wish ill to any of his friends, so why now? He couldn't be jealous, could he? Nonsense. Jealousy was something people who were in love felt. He certainly wasn't in love with Lestrade. He jumped when Lestrade stepped out in a beautiful floral dress. She turned to Holmes.

"I should be back in two hours. Do you want to meet back here then and compare notes?" Lestrade asked.

"I was going to wait for Watson to return and take him with me," Holmes stated calmly. He liked the way that dress fit her. His mind was trying to persuade his heart that she was only a friend.

"Don't. Watson is with my uncle for the night, going over the original police reports and archives. He'll be back in the morning." Lestrade smirked at Holmes' situation, "You are flying solo. I'll see you back here by 8 o'clock."

With that said, Lestrade walked away. Holmes watched her with open admiration. His heart reminded his logical head that he was human after all.

Lestrade was bored by the time their drinks arrived. The Count talked on about his exploits in the French Navy. Lestrade scanned the crowd to pass the time. By the first course, Lestrade had counted the number of pictures on the wall behind the Count, who was talking about his school days at Oxford. Beth was ready to climb the wall by dessert. She couldn't believe she'd agreed to do this. How she wished Holmes had joined her. He could always keep her interest no matter what. The Count was talking about his lineage when a familiar figure walked up to the table.

Lestrade was so thankful for the distraction she didn't see the Count's hatred-filled glare. Nadir merely smiled at the Count and Lestrade. Behind him, another exotic young man smiled at them. Nadir bowed to Lestrade.

"I'm sorry to interrupt your delightful conversation, but I hate to see a beautiful woman just sitting when she should be dancing. Don't you agree?" Nadir greeted. The Count sputtered out a reply. Nadir offered Lestrade his hand and asked, "May have this dance, Mademoiselle Inspector?"

Lestrade jumped at the chance to escape the table. She eagerly took Nadir's hand. He led her to the small dance floor. Before they reached the center, Nadir stumbled a little and gave her a small smile. Lestrade smiled widely as they began to dance.

"My life to you for saving me," Lestrade sighed.

"Don't thank me yet. You still have to get back to your hotel room without him," Nadir stated seriously.

"I share a room with Sherlock Holmes. I don't think the Count will try anything."

"Just be careful. Erika is greatly worried over your safety."

"You know Erika?"

"We grew up together. Our fathers were best friends. I know more things about her than most people. You do too. You are a lot like her."

"I only just met her. I don't know much."

"Don't worry; you will see it in the end. Just don't have the Count see you home. If he gives you a hard time, Danesh or myself will assist you."

"Danesh?"

"The young man I was standing with. He is the head chef here," Nadir informed her as he escorted her back to the table. Lestrade noticed that the Count had ordered them champagne. Nadir gave her hand a squeeze before he let go so she could sit down. Nadir gave them a little bow before returning to the young man who was waiting across the room. Nadir gave the man a quick kiss on the lips and the two walked into the kitchen.

Lestrade felt herself smile now that she was assured that she had some allies. She turned to the Count, who motioned for her to take a sip of the bubbling wine. Lestrade did and felt it burn as it traveled down her throat. She watched the Count take a sip and admire the wine in its flute. Lestrade took another sip. Absently, she wished Holmes was here. After a few more sips her wrist comm began to beep. Lestrade flashed the Count an apologetic smile as she answered it.

"Hello, Lestrade here." Lestrade answered.

"Lestrade, its Holmes. I have a lead and have been waiting for you," Holmes stated with concern.

Lestrade glanced at her watch and groaned. She was late for their meeting by an hour. Lestrade smiled. "I'm so sorry, Holmes. I'm on my way. Wait up for me."

Lestrade closed off communication and smiled at the Count, "I'm sorry, Ruelle, I really must run. My partner is waiting for me."

"Not a problem. Will I see you again?"

Lestrade tried her damndest not to grimace, "We'll see. My schedule is very hectic with this case and all. Goodbye."

Lestrade raced from the table. The Count examined her half empty glass and sighed. So much for another conquest.

Holmes paced the room. Where was she? He'd called over a half an hour ago. Granted, the Café Seine was a ways away, but still. Was she having a good time with the Count that she decided to stay a little longer? Holmes shook his head. Of course not. She never dealt well with people who thought they were better than others. He learned that firsthand when they had just gotten to know each other. God, he'd never worried over a woman before. What was wrong with him?

The door to the room creaked open. Holmes felt relief wash over him. He turned around the second he heard the lock click into place. The sight that greeted him killed any remark he was about to say. Lestrade was leaning against the door. Her hair flew around her face in a tousled way that took her sensuality to a new level, which Holmes was becoming keenly aware of. Her eyes gleamed with a type of hunger that had nothing to do with food.

"Lestrade?" Holmes asked with great uncertainty, as if he were trying to identify this new woman. Lestrade smiled her confirmation as she walked towards him.

"Holmes," she tossed back as she dropped her purse onto the floor. Holmes took a step back as she pressed up against him. He felt trapped, since he wasn't sure how to handle this. Lestrade ran her hands up his chest and around his neck. Holmes moved his hands up to remove them. "Are you drunk?" Holmes asked, slightly panicked by this situation.

"No. Are you?" Lestrade shot back as she moved closer, "I always wondered what you tasted like."

Before Holmes could respond, he felt Lestrade kissing him with such passionate fervor he didn't know what to do or how to act. Lestrade gently began to persuade his body to give in to her. Despite his mind's protests that something was wrong with this, Holmes began to respond to her parting his lips to take the kiss deeper. After all, his heart smirked, he was human.

Suddenly he tasted it and he knew instantly what was wrong. The question was, could he stop her? He brought his hand up to her hair and ran it through the strands of brown. He wasn't sure if he could.

Nightmare: (looks down at the mutilated banana) I take it not too many people reviewed.

MW: (walks out with teddy bear) They are forcing me to take drastic measures. (hold up the teddy bear and the Katana.) Same threat applies.

Nightmare: Okay, you distract her by reviewing and I'll get the camera. Her friends over in the HP section are going to love this.


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