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Feb. 24th, 2016


Denouement (Mag)

The City Opera blazed with hot light on this night. The opening for Ignite had gone off without a single slip up. It was exactly what he'd wanted, and he'd worked hard to ensure that it was so. He made his appearances, brief though they were, at the masquerade beforehand, and at the gala afterwards. Through it all, he kept his distance from the lead soprano. The woman who pulled at him despite his knowledge that his heart had been reduced to ash in the destructive inferno of Christine's absence.

Yet, he wasn't fool enough to believe that all his heart was destroyed. The music was his blood and breath; it would come regardless of his heart. But the constant tugging he felt when he saw Magdelene gliding over marble floors or through the electric lights on stage... the way he found himself leaning forward in his box when her lips parted and her throat opened... There was something there, and he knew well enough by now to recognize it.

And there was the fact that she hadn't left. Even though there was the excuse of the girl at his manor, that firebrand Arya, Magdelene had very little to do with her now that she was mended. Arya stayed because he had promised to train her when he believed he killed his only friend. Now that Hannibal was returned to them the promise still remained - but it carried far less urgency than before. Not that he would betray his word; he never would. But it seemed that his services were no longer required. And the need for Magdelene's had long ago dissolved.

Yet, they both stayed - she and she. He was a solitary creature, and it was odd to him to find his home filled with life that was not his own alone. That, too, did something to the heart of him. He had not yet found a name for it. But he did not scorn it.

Now, he moved toward the long stretch of black and metal that would take him from his Opera House to his manor. His first thought had been to find Magdelene and bring her with him - but despite taking her on as his lead soprano,she was not his and he knew it very well. After the rush of his blood through the auditorium, he felt raw and worn and too full of wanting to trust himself alone with her. He descended the steps of the Opera House, then, alone - and his attention was focused only on the car idling at the bottom.

Sep. 20th, 2015


Intermission (Mag)

The resurrection of his star pianist had driven Erik forward toward an entirely new goal that had crystallized as he listened to Hannibal playing. The opera he'd planned would have to wait. The fall season would be delayed, but only, perhaps, by a month.

He'd disappeared for a full week into the sanctuary of his lake home, as fire within him took hold. He eschewed the paler parts of life - sleeping, eating - and turned his full attention instead to the forms and shapes of his music. His fingers bled; he let them. Nothing was more important than the music.

And when he finally took a full breath again, hands thin and shaking with weakness and grand magnitude, he found more satisfaction in looking at the sheaves of filled staff paper than he had felt in a very long time.

It was not an opera. But Magdelene's voice would give it the scope and grandeur that opera engendered. It was not a full orchestration. But Hannibal's playing was worth more than sections of his magnificent orchestra. And there were yet strings, crying softly through Hannibal's notes.

It was Ignite. A blaze of longing and loss and love, a fireburst of gasping, all-consuming passion, designed to overtake the senses and bathe them in heat. It would be heard. He would bring it to the City Opera, and it would live in the hearts of others, cling to the insides of their skulls, fill their lungs with moaning.

Erik dropped his body briefly into the chilled water of the lake, washing off a week's worth of sweat and blood and toil. He dressed slowly, steadying his hands when he needed to. His clothing fit more loosely than before, but he drew himself up to his full stature all the same, tucked the fire against his side gently, and started up the flights of stairs to the Opera House. There were moments of blackness that had nothing to do with the absence of light. But he made it up.

His assistant had been waiting. Wordless at all the right times, the faithful man called Erik's towncar and followed quietly beside Erik to the door of the car. There was only one moment on the stairs down that Michael felt the need to take Erik's elbow. Briefly. Erik could not muster anger at the boy. Shadows of tall trees passed across the tinted window of his car, throwing muted hypnotic zebra stripe sunlight into the cabin with him. When he lifted his head again, the manor waited for him.

He climbed the stairs, and entered his home. His legs were unsteady, so he waited at the door, one slight shoulder subtly leaning against the wall. He kept his back as straight as he could, refusing the demands of his body for a few more minutes until he could make it to his own chamber.

Jun. 28th, 2015


Return to Form (Hannibal)

As the sounds of the town car faded behind him, Erik slowed his pace up the sunset-lit front steps of the City Opera House. His opera house, his most beautiful creation. Its fertile fields had been left fallow for far too long. Tucked under his arm was the score for Puccini's La Bohème, an opera that he learned about in the City. He was too weary to have written another composition himself, at least, not in time for the opening summer season. In having chosen a seemingly well-known opus, he expected that his company would have no trouble quickly picking up their parts. He needed to but set it before them.

But, as he stood before the door to the place he cherished above all, he found it difficult to put his hand to the task of letting himself inside. There were too many ghosts haunting this place, and none of them were him, an irony that had him grimly smiling despite himself. He lingered on the top step, one hand on the railing, and did his best to silently exorcise the spirits he felt waiting behind that grand door.

He was not terribly successful. And, as he stood there, he realized what a foolish sight he must be. Again smiling with a sardonic sort of twist, he propelled himself forward smoothly. His opera house had waited long enough for its master. The City had been too long without music. And he.... He was an old and tired fool, who should have learned by now that dwelling on the pain of the past only made it more difficult to walk toward the future. He squared his shoulders.

Enough of this.


Small Mercies (Arya)

The curtains in the kitchen were drawn closed against the morning sun - and against the raging pounding in the composer's head. Unlike many in the past, this particular drumbeat symphony was fueled by the gin-soaked excesses of the previous evening. He could still taste the liquor on his breath. He could smell it oozing from his pores. Despite having dressed as neatly and cleanly as ever, he still felt as ragged and dirty as the exhibit he once had been.

His binge had accomplished what he'd intended; it had taken his mind off his losses. First Christine, then Hannibal... Erik rubbed a black-gloved thumb over the handle of his coffee mug before taking another sip. Mourning them would not bring them back. He could not follow where Christine had gone, and he was not willing to join his friend -- at least, not yet, not while there was still the opportunity to seek and find and create beauty. The diva, that Magdelene Defoe, had coaxed him back toward his first love, and he couldn't leave it now.

A small sound across the darkened kitchen caught his attention, both because it was out of place and because it was far louder than his delicate head wanted it to be. When he looked, he saw nothing at first. Then, the small head of a small girl appeared on the other side of the kitchen counter. The girl.

"Arrie," he said, his voice whisper soft - not by design but by necessity.

May. 30th, 2015


Consolation (Magdelene)

It had been weeks since the debut and finale of his paean for Christine, as performed by Hannibal Lecter. It had been weeks since the farewell of his friend. Erik had tried often to return to his manor, but it had been at turns too loud and too silent for him to endure.

But again and again, he found himself rising from the cellar depths, in something like shame or embarrassment, remembering that Hannibal Lecter had fought to keep Erik in the world - not apart from it. He felt as if he were shaming his only friend's memory. He felt as if he were dishonoring the efforts that the exemplary young man had extended. And so, when he could endure the shame no more, he finally returned for good to his manor on the edge of the City, behind its metal fences and cold stone walls and vibrant gardens that no wife now tended.

He found the only way to endure the ghosts in the manor was through the mocking relief of a bottle. He was deep into a bottle of gin by the time the moonlight slanted through the shades of his upstairs library. Erik half-turned toward the window, and only then recognized that he'd been sitting in the dark for nearly three hours. His night vision had always been exceptional - a freak trait of nature that had saved his life more than once or twice.

Swallowing directly from the crystal bottle in his hand, he shut his eyes and tried to find some semblance of peace in the silence of this place. There should have been his wife's laughter. There should have been the faint rustle of his friend's suit coat as the young man read over one of Erik's arrangements. Instead there was --



Apr. 29th, 2015


Alight from Within (The Hannibals)

Trepidation chased Erik from the door of his manor to the door of his Opera House. The night was planned in pristine order, which was only expected from Hannibal Lecter. And yet, the unease Erik felt while walking up the steps of his Opera House was great enough to cause him to pause at the door.

This night should not happen. He knew it. And yet, he could not also deny that if Hannibal suffered half of what Erik did at the loss of his wife, then his friend deserved to play the entirety of the composition that Erik had written. it was filled to bursting with pain and loss and anger and grief - and it was too much for any one heart to feel without bursting into flames. Erik knew this, because his own heart was already in flames, and had not stopped burning. Then, the difference for him was that his blood had already been afire when he sat down to compose.

Perhaps that was not a difference, after all. Perhaps the boy burned just as hot as Erik himself.

Either way, there was no one else who could be trusted to execute the composition on piano as well as Hannibal Lecter. If it must be played by someone else, it could only be that stubborn, bull-headed surgeon. Straightening his already-pristine overcoat, Erik checked the cuffs of his jacket and then proceeded into the Opera House directly.
Erik bypassed his normal seat in Box 5 and went backstage instead. He was not the audience that Hannibal had selected. As Erik stepped to the side of the stage, just so that he had a view of the piano gleaming in the spotlight, he saw that he was not alone. Across the stage, at the opposite side, was the man who carried the same name as his friend and much of the same memories. Erik nodded cordially, holding him in respect for the way he'd played - if not also for his connection to the doctor Erik marked as his friend.

The lights were set to dim soon - but as of yet, the bustle of the audience still rose from the edge of the stage. It would begin soon. Erik was in turns excited and full of dread. This time, his dread held a dual part - one, for the reaction of the audience to his work; and the other, for the suffering of the audience because of his work.

Apr. 17th, 2015


Testify! (Erik)

The levers and switches all had the same purpose as those in her own Opera House from back home. One for the curtains, to bring the thick velvet up or down toward the stage. Another to open or close the trap doors beneath the solid wood, holes utilized for quick prop set up and take down, or a quick escape by a diva or a stagehand. Some were for the series of lights that hung over the stage: pinks, reds, blues, yellows, greens...any hue combinations one could imagine for capturing the definition of the set and people performing.

It was like a breath of fresh air. A dark secret that was shared between but a few that could know such a feeling as intimately as she. Music was a magic of its own and yet it was tangible and real. If it wasn't ripping your soul to shreds and bleeding you dry, or healing every wound in your heart then you just weren't doing it correctly. It demanded focus, patience and passion no matter how small the piece or at what scale it was performed.

For all of the years Mag had spent alone, she always had the stage. It had been her constant companion: it had hurt her deeply, nursed her ailments and brushed away her tears. It had heard her laughter, made her smile. Been there when she had been nothing. Had nothing. And here it was again.

The white lights illuminated with the upturn of a lever and the polished wood shone eagerly, tempting her. She hadn't realized she was chewing at her bottom lip until there had been soreness. Releasing the skin, Mag turned and beheld the empty space before her. It was almost like coming home.

If anyone had been there in the shadows she would not have noticed, being too caught in the moment. The diva was out in the light past the curtain in a few steps, hands lifting the fabric of her dress so as not to trip over it when she moved. The sparkle of her eye was outline in a thick black cat-eye, and the lids shimmered with a soft, snowy dust. Her hair was down, though some was pinned up and though it wasn't styled as usual it still held the same grace as if it were set and sprayed for the stage. Once settled in the center, she glanced out at the empty chairs that sat patiently in the darkness before her. Her glowing eyes swept from one side to the other, taking in each empty seat in both the balconies and on the floor level.

Then she opened her mouth, tilted her chin up slightly and closed her eyes to sing the deep Russian words, "Why did it not know before, I have no angst, no sorrow, no tears, and all the days of leaking happened, among the sounds of Heaven and roses?"

Mag was fluent in many languages. She had to be cultured to ensure that her ability surpassed any other. To be believable. Her craft was complex and it required hard work; endless days and nights of practice and study as well as a vast knowledge and expertise of culture and language. No barriers could hold her down and none would.

"I hardly hear the birds chirping, a little heat will revive distant forest, and all sounds of glee - I entered into solemn chorus! And now all day brings me, not clear, deep reproach, and the page of fate sends birds choir and noisy stream."

Her eyes opened, as did her arms, and she willed the invisible people in the vacant seats to hear the passion of the Russian tone and her own addition of emotion to the words, the plight of the maiden born blind though she does not know what affliction has been laid upon her. A woman whom is unaware that others do not share the same fate and that there is a world beyond the darkness that she has always known.

"Why this silence of the night and I have cool mil? Why do I like her sobs I hear when the nightingale sings, Why so? Why so?"

Finally Mag breathed and stood where she was, listening to the sounds resounding from the walls, the chairs, the wood of the stage. Empty, the place felt so hollow and uninviting. Mag wished to once more fill it with life, with vitality and essence. With strength. With hope.

Apr. 12th, 2015


A meeting of monsters (Elder Hannibal + Erik)

There was a cocky sureness to Hannibal's walk, and had been since the day that he had convinced Erik there was something to live for. The plan had been executed perfectly, Mag had played her part better than Hannibal had hoped. He was quite glad that he hadn't needed to kill her for her failure. She was, after all, a brilliant soprano. As an added incentive, Hannibal had left Erik's violin on the bed in the chamber he chose, where it would not be overlooked. Knowing that having a second thing - something a bit more tangible than song - to hold on to would only do the Phantom well.

He'd left his older self alone for a few days, granting the man time to adjust to the new surroundings and explore with his own eyes. Knowing that experience brought learning to its resolution faster, and knowing that he, himself, would not want another hovering over him the entire time.

The agreement had been made that his elder would remain at the flat of Lady Murasaki. It seemed only right. He could not ask for other arrangements to be made. The City had put the flat there, and while Hannibal had staunchly refused to live in it for varying reasons, he saw no reason for it to continue being unoccupied and collecting proverbial - not literal, as the City seemed to keep it sparkling clean always - dust.

But today, elated, Hannibal wished to make the introduction of the other to the Opera House. He did not know if there would be a spot for two Lecters within the staff, but attendance for various events would be a personal requirement, and he would have felt bad if he'd left the other to make this particular discovery on his own.

He picked a day when he knew none would be within, and brought Hannibal through the doors with a flourish. He walked until they could see the stage, and the piano sitting upon it. Hannibal liked to practice here, where the sound was not only the best, but the placement meant his ear would not be obstructed by annoyingly muted practice space walls.

"And here it is." He said, with great pride. "But please, do continue what you were saying. The City saw fit to bring your office here, and attached it to the flat?"

The folio with Erik's latest was in his hand, and when they reached the piano, Hannibal set it down in its rightful place, though did not sit on the bench. It felt like it'd been far too long since he'd last stood on this spot, and he closed his eyes, inhaling the smells. Perfumes, flowers, colognes, the sweat of dancers, brass polish, resin... so much.

Mar. 21st, 2015


Midnight in the Garden (Magdelene)

He'd slept face down where he'd fallen, clothed still head to toe in suit and dress shoes. When he woke, he'd used the en suite to freshen up, then changed into the clothing that lingered in the guest wardrobe. After a second's pause, he realized that they were his clothes after all. The City, perhaps. No maid would dare enter his chamber - guest room or not - while he was in it. Hannibal might, however. The pianist was meddlesome as he was talented. Erik was still irritated with him.

With hair still damp from the shower, he walked back to the center of the bedroom, then turned aimlessly. There was no light coming in from the balcony door save that of the moon, and it was only then that he recognized that he was in the dark. The dark had become such a companion to him in the last few weeks that it seemed as nothing to walk in it, to breathe inside it. His unnatural eyes had never struggled to see in the dark, which is why he was so suited to living in the house by the lake under the Opera House.

Erik's mind and heart were full of contradictions. He wanted to end this wearisome existence - but at the same time, there was the voice that had kept him in this manor as well. He wanted his piano piece for Hannibal to be the last thing he wrote, and yet, he wanted to force that golden soprano into the shape of something designed just for it. He touched the band of gold on his left hand and shut his eyes. Above everything else, he wanted his wife back.

He found himself standing on the balcony, violin loosely in his grip. The violin... Had the City laid it out for him as well? That felt more like Hannibal. Meddlesome lad. Erik set the instrument firmly under his chin, but couldn't lift the bow to play. After a long few moments standing there, he finally sat down on the balcony floor and leaned his back against the stone wall of his manor. His eyes closed again. Music felt like his grief, amplified. He didn't know how to rise above it, and didn't know if he wanted to or if he should. It felt right to grieve.Ah, but it hurt. Anything he played would hurt, too.

So he was silent and still on that balcony. Still, until he heard the faint shish below, and knew it for a door opening. Erik lifted his head and listened more keenly.

Mar. 7th, 2015


Music to soothe the savage beast (Erik - later Mag)

Almost two days ago, not quite a full two days, Hannibal had installed Magdelene Defoe into Erik's mansion as Arya's nurse. He had instructed the woman to be there around the clock, and to make her voice heard often. This latter he'd wanted so that it would not seem so odd when Erik finally arrived and the singing began in earnest. Arya must not be heard to utter anything along the lines of why are you singing? Even after just two days, she would be used to Mag doing this, and be comfortable with it.

Hannibal himself had made a point of visiting Arya more than once a day, which he had been doing anyway to make sure the girl had enough of what she needed. But now he felt as if he were being watched by the very walls. As if they anticipated the return of their true master. Hannibal hoped that the plot worked and that Erik did return. As much as he might have enjoyed the manor, it would never truly feel like his.

The composer was due any moment. Hannibal stood at the entry, waiting. Mag had instructions to wait for twenty minutes after she heard the men talking to make her vocal debut. He wanted her to sing from upstairs, from Arya's room. He wanted Erik to seek her out, go to her, discover her singing for the girl, or singing as she folded clothes. Singing, but without any pretense of being heard. Singing and surprised to discover that she had an audience.

So far, Mag had done her job quite well. Arya believed that Mag was there to nurse her and be a companion. Mag kept to Hannibal's strict clothing guidelines. She was a true diva if he'd ever seen one. Listened to instructions, took direction very well, and played her part as if she were truly living it.

He heard the sounds of Erik's shoes upon the steps leading to the doorway. The door itself was opened before the Phantom could lift a hand to turn the knob - or, god forbid, knock. There were many things that Hannibal could tell by Erik's appearance, all assessed within seconds.

"You haven't slept." He hadn't expected Erik to. Though only one with a keen eye would be able to tell, for the most part, Erik looked like tailored perfection. He even wore gloves.

Hannibal did not wait, but turned inward to the heart of the house.

Feb. 7th, 2015


The heart of the matter (Erik)

The composer was missing.

Hannibal had left Arya with attendants, thinking that Erik would be back soon. The next day he'd gone back to put the cast on and he'd thought that they had been two ships, barely missing one another in the night. He had returned to the routine of the City, going to the opera house for practices and rehearsals. Erik's presence was missing from there, as well. Which was highly noticed by himself anyway, but when the new third chair flautist showed up to his first rehearsal with the orchestra, Hannibal realized that something must truly be wrong.

He'd seen it when he'd been in the kitchen, examining Arya. Erik had been off. But there was no way that a man like this one would have been allowed to have a chair in Erik's arrangements if all was even remotely well. The situation was more dire than Hannibal had thought.

Returning to the mansion, Hannibal discovered that Erik had not returned since he'd handed the girl over for care. Arya was, of course, being attended to properly. But it wasn't like Erik to not be there for a charge. This bothered Hannibal quite a bit.

Erik deserved a few more days, he'd decided. He would allow the man time to do whatever it was that he felt he needed to be doing. They would talk when he returned. Of course, Hannibal's patience ran thin with the flautist and he decided he couldn't wait any longer. Something had to be done. And he wanted Erik to be a part of it.

It did not take the young doctor any time to figure out where his friend had gone. There was only one place in the City that Erik felt completely secure. It also didn't enter his mind that perhaps he shouldn't be going down there. He'd already been. He knew his way. The path was set in his mind forever. He needed to see Erik, needed to see what help his friend needed, and so there was no question.

He marched down into the deep and secret world under the opera house, dragging his reluctant gift with him. A gift that would, perhaps, help Erik out of his funk. Oh, he was well aware that he was going to be on the wrong end of some anger about the invasion, and the gift, but he was sure that he could overcome that particular emotion and get Erik to see what needed to be done.

The way was not easy, but Hannibal made good time. It wasn't too long before he was staring at a door, his knuckles tapping gently upon it.

Jan. 22nd, 2015


Delicacy (Hannibal, Arya)

The girl he left in his kitchen was in pain. She suffered. She waited for him. The girl left in his kitchen was in pain. He was responsible for her. Erik drew his scattering thoughts back to Arie again and again. Above it all, she was a singular thread, iron and brutal and ugly, but nothing like the horrors left in the vacuum of Christine's absence.

His servants had relocated to basement storage the wheelchair that Hannibal once sent to his manor. On his way down to the storage room, Erik remembered to grab the phone. The doctor's number was still on speed dial - a courtesy and convenience built in for his servants (and his wife, his wife) when Erik was too ill to dial the number himself. When Hannibal's voice answered, Erik opened his mouth and said something - less than a handful of words. As soon as he dropped the handset on the last bit of furniture he passed, he forgot whatever it was he'd said. The door to the basement stairs closed behind him.

There were a few minutes lost to his memory. He could remember only the presence of old friends - the hand of rage on his shoulder, the breath of helplessness against the back of his neck, the claws of pain raking his chest. What had drawn him back? He looked at the handles of the wheelchair in both blood-speckled hands, knuckles stinging, then checked behind him. The basement door was destroyed, and the blood must have been his own.

A sound came to him, the siren bell, ringing. He walked with the wheelchair (the girl is hurting) to the door of his manor, straightening last night's rumpled shirt with one flattened hand. Hannibal. Yes, of course. Erik pressed the button that would allow the doctor entrance through the otherwise-inpenetrable security around his manor, then turned back toward the kitchen. Arie was waiting. She needed him.

Jan. 17th, 2015


Did anyone catch the number of that car? (Erik)

Everything hurt. Arya felt as though she'd been stomped by a horse and then thrown from a tall tree for good measure. Her head felt fuzzy. She groaned and opened her eyes, only to freeze immediately. This was no room that she was familiar with. It was beautiful. It made her think of Sansa and how much she would have loved a room like this. Her heart clenched and for a moment that hurt more than everything else.

Then it came back to her. Being somewhere new, being hit by--whatever it was--and being picked up by the strange man. Erik. Was this his house? Was there a maester here? Or a doctor? Whatever they called themselves? Whatever had happened between the morphene last night and waking up now, she couldn't just lie here until someone saw to her. Even if this place was safe, she knew nothing about it. Sliding out of the bed (and what a wonderfully soft bed it was--she'd never had a bed so soft as this) she limped painfully over to the fireplace, grabbing a poker. It would serve as a better crutch than Needle would, though she feared that she would be unable to use either as a weapon given how much it hurt to do so much as take a deep breath.

Arya made her way to the door and found it unlocked. She limped down the hall, her splinted leg and the makeshift crutch making it impossible to be sneaky.

Jan. 1st, 2015


Late Nights (Arya)

Erik had been working on his rearrangement of La Mer, which would be opening a week from today. He must have fallen asleep over his sheets, because when he lifted his head from his desk at the City Opera, his sheet music was still laid out in front of him and his ink pen had rolled to the edge of a picture frame of his wife. He retrieved the pen, capped it, set it aside, and stored his work for the evening.

The Opera House was quiet; it must have been far later than he knew. Frowning, Erik pulled on his gloves and started for the door. It was then that he noticed by the posters for the ongoing show: The City Opera was still in its run of Don Juan.

That show had complete its run some months ago, while he was still incarcerated. It was surely some sort of error, and Erik detested errors in his opera house. He would get to the bottom of it in the morning; tonight, he wanted to return home to his wife.

And so it came to be that he hurried down the steps in the dark, the street lamps casting shadows as often as they dispersed them. His car should have been been waiting for him. Irritated again, he pulled out the contraption that would page his driver and placed the call while standing on the sidewalk.

Dec. 20th, 2013


Release (Open)

His only phone call had gone to Hannibal. Later, there came a lawyer, shortly after Enigma was released. The lawyer, he'd learned, was hired by his assistant, Mike Deal, not by Hannibal. It was curious. Another week went by, filled by chafing idle hours and punctuated by hearings, then another with the same. In the end, Erik was handed his effects, a receipt for the charges he'd incurred, and waved out of the station. He went home first, his car waiting for him as he stepped onto the street. Home - the one place where he could love unconditionally, and create with the freedom he'd always yearned after. Home - the Opera House, crafted with his design and his intent in mind.

The preparations for his reworking of La Mer were in full effect, The Death of Don Juan having wrapped earlier in the week. He regretted that he had not been there to see it close. He showered quickly and pulled one of the suits he kept at the Opera. It was mid-day, and everyone involved in La Mer should be rehearsing. He walked the Opera, taking in the work being done, stopping to correct where it was needed. Hannibal was strangely missing. It was not like the young man to skip crucial moments within the nascent stages of a production like this.

His path finally led him to his office, where he sat behind his desk and pulled on the black gloves that shielded him from the rest of the world. He stared down at the blackness, stared at the wood grain in its gleaming polish under those hands of his, and let out a deep breath. He'd been caged before. He'd been in prisons before. He'd been in far worse situations than the last month behind him. But he'd forgotten. He'd forgotten what it was to lose his autonomy, his freedom to write or play, and he'd forgotten what it was to be at the mercy of others. Slowly, he set his head in his hands and shut his eyes. The rising fury, the same emotion he'd suppressed violently within the bars of his cell, began its unrelenting climb. The hatred for humanity came with it. His fingers tightened in his hair. He grit his teeth.

Nov. 13th, 2013


Held (Effie)

The knock had come early in the morning, just before Erik would normally have left for the Opera House to tend to his duties as manager. The arrest happened very quickly - and the charges were myriad. He retained his silence, held out his wrists, and they were gone before his dear wife could find them at the door.

It was late evening by the time he was processed. He'd called one person -- Hannibal -- and although he didn't reach him, he left a brief message explaining the situation. La Mer was due to open in a week's time. There were instructions to be given to his assistant, in whom Erik trusted to manage the Opera House in his absence. These things he told Hannibal as well. The rest... The rest he left at the whim of the only man he might have called a friend in this City.

After processing came the holding cell. It was nothing like the gaols that he'd experienced in the time he'd lived before the City. And certainly, his jail mates were different as well.

Erik walked to the bars of his otherwise-empty cell and clasped his hands behind his back. The dignity and command had not left him. "Enigma," he called across the corridor separating them. She was there, looking somewhat different from when he'd hosted her in his midnight garden. He traced the seams of the bars into the concrete, then looked at the lock briefly. He didn't have the means at this particular moment to author the story of his release.

But then, there was hardly anywhere to run, either.

"Enigma," he called again, his voice deep and melodic, and very compelling.

Oct. 30th, 2013


All Hallow's Eve Ball

On the long downtown street, the grand facade of the City Opera House glowed with light, hummed with excitement. Across its gleaming marble steps, all manners of beasts and birds and creatures of fantasy and myth climbed to enter the myriad doors. Across the doors, flung wide to the City this night, yards of red velvet lay in rich folds over the curved entrance archways and hung down the sides like blood. Running carpets of a matching color led the revelers into the opera house itself and directed them inside.

The Opera House itself was dressed for the occasion. The foyers, corridors, and adjoining rooms around the grand staircase had been divided into seven distinct 'rooms'. Six of the rooms were decorated and illuminated in a specific color: Blue, purple, green, orange, white, and violet. The last room was decorated in black and illuminated by a scarlet light. In this same room, a grand ebony clock stood, casting a foreboding pall.

Tables lined the back walls of each room, where polished tuxedos created and distributed all manners of cocktails. In the main ballroom - the white room - a standing orchestra played brilliant, glistening notes that carried throughout the opera house and invited all to join in dance. Along the sides, pristine waiters moved in and out carrying silver platters, some with hors d'oeuvres, some with bubbling champagne, some with deep red wine.

At precisely 8:30 p.m., the music turned screeching and sour. The lights dimmed, and from the depths of the black room, that great ebony clock tolled, strangely, on the half hour. From the grand staircase, came a figure dressed head to toe in red and black, with a death's head for a mask. As this figure descended, so too came a sense of dread and doom, and whispers filtered throughout the thrilling crowd:

-- The Red Death! -- Do not touch him! -- He's come for us! --

Just as the figure reached the bottom of the stairs, just as the shiver running through the crowd turned to something approaching panic, a single violin cried out a tense, shrill note, and a bass thrummed slow-building excitement. That figure held up his arms over the crowd, as if to curse them all. At once, from the crowd, came a single lady dressed in white, complete with wings and a halo. She ran to the base of the steps, and at once whipped off the mask and tossed it aside. From a nearby vase, and with an actress' flourish, she pulled a rose and tucked it into his lapel. The Red Death at once became that well known sinner Don Juan. He held out his hand to the single lady in white, that saint and angel who was his only love. And when his Christine was on his arm, the Opera Manager called out -- "Begin!"

At once, the lights crashed up, brighter than ever, and with them, the orchestra broke into vivid notes that dared every guest to forget their troubles and revel in the night.

After all, what was a ball at the Opera House without a little pageantry? The gala was off to a brilliant start, in true dramatic operatic style.

Sep. 20th, 2013


Ending a travesty (Erik)


The performances, for the most part, had gone off quite well. Hannibal had great pride in his orchestral companions. He also had great pride in Erik's skill of putting things together, of finding the right parts for the people that he employed, of knowing their strengths and weaknesses.

There was only one issue in the whole night, and he couldn't be positive why it had happened. Hannibal was sure that if this was a regular thing, that he would have noticed before now. It took a little investigation to discover that the target of his ire was an understudy. An understudy who did very little in the way of study, from what he could gather. He supposed that not being ready could be forgivable, if one would just admit to it, most of the time there weren't things that kept the musicians away from the stage. He'd seen a flutist play through a persistent cough without making a single mistake. Whatever had happened to the regular bassoon player had to be fairly significant. But what it came down to was a man who was not in any condition to play as a replacement.

At the best of times, the tone was flat. As if the understudy didn't fully grasp the nuances of the instrument he held. To make it worse, there were some decidedly sour notes that hopefully the audience didn't pick up on. They had, thankfully, more than one bassoon, and the argument could be made to himself that the others had done enough to drown out the horror of the one. But he heard it. And no doubt, if he heard it, Erik had too.

It was a humiliation that Hannibal was not willing to shoulder. He would not allow Erik's beloved opera house be sullied by somebody who was less than worthy of being there. He would not allow himself to be grouped in with a person who did not see playing as a craft, and did nothing to hone the skills that needed to be present in order to play well.

Hannibal stalked his prey easily. He knew that he likely shouldn't be doing such things within Erik's domain, he didn't want his friend to get into trouble, but he was also unwilling to risk that there might be somebody waiting at home, or that the man wouldn't go right home. The blight needed to be ended swiftly. As soon as possible. Which meant the monster needed to devour the lamb before it had a chance to escape, or bleat out and alert anyone else to the danger.

He was kneeling in a prop storage room, a knife in his hand, and a body leaking blood when he heard the door open. Despite the imminent threat to his freedom and possibly his well being, Hannibal did not panic. He stayed crouched, and looked back over his shoulder to see who might be intruding upon his delights. If they, too, needed to be removed from the world.

Aug. 18th, 2013


Confessions (Christine)

Erik entered the manor as silently as he could manage through the kitchen door. He had no fear of waking his wife, even if she had turned in early. Rather, he was deeply concerned that she might be waiting for him by the main door and throw herself at him the moment she laid eyes on him.

Typically, he didn't avoid his wife's attentions, but tonight he wanted the ability to speak before she could unwittingly damage him even more. His plan, it seemed had worked. As he moved soundlessly through the manor, he listened for her. Of course, she'd be concerned. He'd asked his assistant to call her tonight, once it was clear that the Opera House was too damaged to allow the evening practice to go on. Mike had reported that she was very worried but agreed to stay home until he got there -- and only after Mike told her that Erik was unharmed.

That had been a lie. It wasn't Mike's lie, however; it was Erik's.

Erik started up the stairs toward their shared bedroom suite before finally allowing himself to make enough sound to draw her attention. He deliberately took the steps loudly, though the jarring hurt his side more than he'd want to admit. When he was halfway up the stairs, he stopped and began to ease his shoulders out of his suit jacket.

Aug. 10th, 2013


Repair (Hannibal)

(Backdated to this night)

The hanging clock read 7:39. Erik finally rose from his desk chair and eased his way toward the door. With the help of his assistant, they'd managed to call everyone to cancel the evening's work schedule. Tomorrow, he was sure the City would mend the damage done to his precious Opera House, and practice and work would go on as usual. He would not allow the season to be set back yet again. It had suffered too many delays already.

Fortunately, the Hulk's destruction had not harmed any of the ones who worked here, although some of those with more delicate constitutions who had been within the Opera House walls were shaken. He was uncertain he could say that the sets and props were undamaged, however. He needed to see for himself.

Gritting his teeth, he moved carefully down the evening-lit hall toward the stage. Light headed, he set his gloved hand against the wall and kept it there, letting it help him walk toward his destination. There were none within the Opera House now to see his weakness. But the climb up the steps backstage was far more difficult than it should have been. He was obliged to pause half-way, his grip on the railing so tight as to bruise his palm.

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