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I Thought Love Was Being Wanted

Chapter Text

Carlos fled from Seville as soon as the opportunity presented itself.

After Juan's death, magically, everything fell into place.

Don Luis Tenorio, would die shortly after his son. Carlos, Elvira and Maria were his company those last days. He died calmly between the gentle presence of Carlos, the soft touch of Maria and the comforting prayers of Elvira. On his deathbed he convinced himself that his son had achieved salvation in the afterlife.

He had looked at Carlos with unfocused eyes and his last words were ‘’ Juan? Is that you? '' And Carlos, unable to break the fantasy of a dying man, had said '' It's me, dad.'' Don Luis' eyes had lit up, became two glass marbles that slowly broke, until happy and peaceful, he was dead.

Maria found no forgiveness in her heart for Rafael. He had to understand, and alone, and without friends, he ended up finding comfort in the most unusual of places: Isabel. Both mistreated by life and hungry for love had fit in like a puzzle despite their many differences.

Carlos couldn't blame him, and even Isabel herself who had tried, couldn't. Both knew Juan well and knew that he was a time bomb that would explode sooner or later. It was Rafael who ended it, but it would have been someone else had it not been him. Juan was dead and rotting underground, it was a fact without another culprit other than Juan's bad choices.

Carlos never had hopes of a happy ending with Juan but ... no like this, no matter how much he prepared for the eventual fatality, he was never ready to live without Juan.

And Maria and Elvira, the lover and the alleged wife, there was no need to feel bad for them. In a relationship that Carlos did not know how to classify, both girls both found the freedom they wanted in the other. Maria's love for Juan had been true, but ephemeral as the first love is usually. What was Elvira for Maria exactly? Carlos wasn't sure and something told him that Maria wouldn't know how to answer that for a while.

Both had left Seville, leaving all pain behind. According to their last letter, Maria began to make a name for herself through her sculptures, while Elvira had found her true vocation and had reconciled with her faith by teaching in a Catholic school. They would be fine.

Everyone would be fine. Juan's death had been the trigger for an era of prosperity for the inhabitants of Seville. Everything was better now that Juan was dead.

And Carlos couldn't stand it.

France was his next destination. He knew and mastered the language and was far enough to flee from Juan's presence.

Not even Paris could hold enough wonders for a man without the other half of his soul.

In that case, it was worth a try.


 It took a week after arriving at the Opera Garnier for Carlos to realize the existence of a certain soprano.

Mauclerc (art director of Paris’ ministry of culture, temporary manager.) had offered to help Carlos tour the opera to avoid the danger of getting lost.

Carlos felt content here, not really happy, and he felt alone and as if he didn't belong, but the place that brought a false sense of fulfillment that he no longer found in Spain.

Investing his accumulated fortune in the theater and staying to watch tragedies unfold on stage every night instead of concentrating on his own sounded like a good way to spend it

'' So, this is where the costumes, the scenery and props is done, right? '' Carlos asked, some of his accent hindered his words, his French had not had much use until now.

'' That's right, everything is sewn, painted and done here. '' Mauclerc said walking with Carlos by his side. '' These are the seamstresses' rooms, I would show you but I wouldn't want to interrupt them. ''

Carlos heard voices of women talking animatedly behind the doors.

'' Of course, don't bother them. '' Carlos spoke in a fake smile.

None of his smiles had felt true after Juan died.

'' And here's the- ''

'' Wait,'' Carlos interrupted. '' I'm sorry for that, but do you hear that?''

He heard a voice from a distance, a voice that hummed in a ghostly way.

Mauclerc  had definitely heard it and knew where the sound came from, for an awkward though kind smile that appeared on his face.

'' That must be Christine. '' He spoke with discomfort. '' One of our seamstresses. '' He stopped right in front of the door.

'' And why is she alone here? '' Carlos asked, delighted with what he heard on the other side of the door.

The girl -Christine.- hummed, she just hummed to herself without caring if it sounded good or not, and only with that Carlos realized how melodious and prodigious her voice was. It was a naturally beautiful, clearly trained voice where you could hear teacher and muse had worked together to sculpt such a work of art. It was sweet, it was melancholic and above all, it was so sad.

Sadness emerged in waves of her voice. For someone who just passed by there, it could mean nothing, but for someone as broken as Carlos, the way that voice manifested a presence so raw and wounded sounded like a cry for help. Before he realized, he had to wipe the tears on his cheeks.

'' Yes, she does. She was one of our greatest voices, but she had a very short career. '' Mauclerc replied with some affectionate resignation. He was sympathetic to Christine at the same time that he distrusted her.

'' Why? '' Carlos almost demanded to know. How was such a voice confined to a lonely cell?

Mauclerc seemed very uncomfortable, putting a hand on the back of his neck.

'' Well, it's a long, tragic, disconcerting and frankly disturbing sto-''

'' I can hear you from here, Elijah. '' The door opened firmly and a girl came out of there. She realized that they were talking about her, and she didn't look very happy about that, in general, she didn't look happy.

Christine was a young and small woman, just over 20 years old. European factions, but foreign to France at the same time.

While her skin was pale like most of the women here, it was not the white carcass that Carlos had become accustomed to seeing with the wives of the rich men he had been with lately. Her skin was dotted with soft sun freckles, which told him of a greater exposure to the sun than an average woman would like. It gave her a warmer appearance and color, oblivious to the higher classes.

Her hair in two braids was blond, as were her almost impossible to see eyelashes and her scattered eyebrows that were even lighter than her hair itself and almost lost in her face. Big blue eyes, fragile like starry glass.

'' Forgive me, miss Daaé. '' Mauclerc apologized.

Christine responded with a convincing but joyless smile. If Carlos had realized that it was, it's because he saw himself in that gesture.

'' You're not going to introduce me to this gentleman?''  She asked pointing to Carlos with a nod.

'' Oh yes, Carlos, this is Christine Daaé, Christine, this is Mr. Carlos nu ... nun, excuse Carlos, how was your last name pronounced?'' Asked the clearly distressed man.

'' Carlos Núñez. '' He introduced himself, holding out his hand to the girl

She took it, the corners of her mouth tried to get up, but she felt too tired and drained to do more

Carlos was a young, tall man, the same height as Erika if Christine still remembered well. His hair was long in a low ponytail. The perfect mixture of ash blond, and brown, dark brown eyes, almost empty like a bottomless pit. Smooth and tanned light brown skin. Something on his face, said he was reliable.

'' Nice to meet you.'' the blonde said, taking his hand firmly.

Both looked into each other's eyes. In countless works of literature, the use of the sentence 'and the world stopped.' is used as an omen of a future romance, but not in this story. The love story was over and this was a tragedy, so it really happened was much more relevant to them.

Looking into each other's eyes, the world finally turned again for them. They saw a carbon copy of themselves in each other's eyes. The same pain, and the same silent and empty agony that only a lost love can cause were signs that they never wanted to learn to read.

For the first time in a long time, they did not feel alone. A single glance brought them understanding and made them feel comforted. There was a loss in common that united them, and they both knew it.

''… Umh, Carlos? We continue with the tour? " Mauclerc asked uncertainly how to interpret the silent exchange between the seamstress and the Spaniard.

'' Umh? Oh! Of course, let's continue. '' He nodded, breaking eye contact with the girl. ''Goodbye Miss Daaé, I hope to see you here.''

'' Likewise, Monsieur.'' She said, looking in his direction but not at him, running away from his curious gaze.

'' Goodbye Christine ’’ Mauclerc said-

'' Goodbye'' She said coming back to the room, the cold and lonely room.  There was no longer any phantom to make her company.

Carlos remained silent while  Mauclerc took him to another side, terribly buried in his thoughts

'' What happened to her? '' Carlos asked quietly, uncertainly, his eyes softened in sweetness.

Mauclerc seemed uncomfortable, and if it had been any other situation, Carlos would have told him not to bother and that he didn't need to know, but he had to know. He saw so much of himself in that girl's gaze, and he had to know why.

'' Carlos, I'll tell you something. Christine is a good girl or at least I want to believe that, and I also want to believe that she is young and made the mistake of getting involved with the wrong people. '' He began to narrate, taking Carlos to a more lonely section so that no one would listen to them talk

'' Why did you start on that part? '' Carlos asked, that was an unusual way to start a story.

'' Because I don't want you to form your opinion of her based on what happened. ‘’

'' And what happened?!''

" It sounds silly, but let's say there was a ghost in this opera ..."

'' Oh a ghost!'' Carlos exclaimed in irony and bitterness.

He was going to tell him a ghost story. A memory returned to him.

 

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- ¡CARLOS! ¡ ¡CARLOS! ¡OPEN THE DOOR, PLEASE!.-  Juan scream with almost insane despair.

And Carlos reacted according to the situation.

Saying how quickly Carlos got out of bed and how horrible and scared he felt when he heard Juan screaming like that was redundant

He knocked his leg and toes several times with only God knows what furniture in his house, and after what he felt too long, he knocked open the door

Juan was leaning on the door, then when it opened, he fell into Carlos's chest, trembling like a leaf and his eyes unfocused and wide open, his pupils dilated in absolute terror, leaving two black wells instead of eyes.

Carlos acted quickly, closing the door as fast as he had with the dead weight of Juan against him.

- Juan! ¿Who is chasing you?!-  He asked in panic, pulling him away from his chest - Juan, ¿Who’s out there?-

- It doesn't matter!- He screamed struggling with the blond, so he would let him go.

Carlos released him immediately and stepped back, giving him space. Such was his surprise when Juan immediately hugged him again, taking refuge in his arms and breathing agitated in Carlos's neck.

For Carlos, it felt like coming home. He embraces Juan with all his strength, wishing he could hold him forever, protect him from whatever was chasing him.

- Juan, please, ¿Who are you running from? I'm going to protect you, I promise.-  He swore, burying his fingers in the dark black strands, soaked in Juan’s sweat.

- ¡ You can't protect me! No one can.-  Juan clung to the lapels of Carlos's shirt with despair in his eyes. His hands trembled from the effort and fear.

- ¿Why?- Carlos put an arm around his shoulders, holding the man closer to him, raising his head to peer through the windows

Juan remained silent. An awareness of what he was doing came to his eyes and made them more in the Juan Carlos knew.

-… -

- Juan.- Carlos insisted, tightening the grip on his shoulders.

- The ghost.- Juan admitted in a whisper.

- ¿Who?- Carlos asked, although his voice had been clear, the answer was confusing.

- ¡ The Ghost! ¡ His ghost, Carlos! ¡ He's going to kill me!- Juan grabbed Carlos’s shirt again, shaking.

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'' Not a classic ghost, this one was worse. '' Mauclerc spoke, pulling Carlos out of his trance.

For a moment, Carlos felt the warmth of Juan, that powerful was the memory of that night.

'' Why? ''

''Because this one was real. '' The way he said it made Carlos shiver.

'' Real?'' Carlos raised an eyebrow. He had never believed or feared in ghosts, nor in spirits or monsters.

'' I always thought that it was an urban legend to keep the youngest dancers and the most irresponsible actors out of trouble. Don't stay after the doors close, do not go up to the boxes, do not go down to the basement or the phantom will get you and you will never be seen again. ''

'' But it wasn't?''  Carlos guessed.

'' No, the phantom was a man with such a horrible deformity that he was sentenced from birth to live in opera basements. Over time, he came to direct and make every decision in this Opera without the ministry realizing it. '' He said, clearly ashamed of how unbelievable it sounded.

Carlos listened in silence, nodding from time to time

'' And… the warnings were right.  There were several deaths under his hands, only two bodies were found, but it said there may be dozens of deaths at his name.''

'' And how he looked like? ''  His morbid forced him to ask. Who could be ugly enough to be abandoned to grow up alone in a place so immense and therefore so terrifying like this?

'' According to the legends; a skeleton with clothes.  Yellow, stretched and dissected corpse like skin, eyes so sunken that his basins seemed to be empty, a hole on the face where his nose should be,  three or four strands of hair. '' He had said legend, but Carlos could tell that he believed in what he was saying

'' And what does Miss Daaé have to do with all this? '' Carlos wanted to know. What relationship did such a being had with the apparently innocent Christine?

'' The phantom was obsessed with her. He kidnapped her the night she was supposed to debut, she returned to the surface by herself dying of fear and running away from him. The phantom died that night, although his corpse was never recovered. I don't know if that has to do with Christine's anxiety or what he did to her, but she was never the same, she still hasn't recovered from what happened. ''

'' That's awful! '' Carlos frowned. '' But ... why is she so isolated? She seems like a friendly person. ''

Or well, no really. She had such intense presence and such haunting eyes that look like she could cut holes with them. He had called her sad looking moments before, but now that he thought about it, the word tired seemed more appropriate.

'' She never wants to talk to anyone anymore, she just wants to be alone''  He paused to clean his throat. '' There have been very denigrating rumors that have affected Miss Daaé's reputation and career to a point of no return. '' He said avoiding Carlos's gaze, his face screaming 'don't ask me'

But in his hunger for the understanding that he thought the girl could offer, Carlos decided to be reckless

 '' What kind of rumors? '' Carlos thought the part he was waiting for was finally here, what would say why Miss Daaé’s eyes were a mirror facing his.

"Well ... some say she loved him too. " He said and spoke quickly cutting off anything Carlos could say. " Of course that it's not true! The phantom was a monster that tortured her and dragged her with him. He killed and manipulated for years behind our backs, who could love such a monster? ‘’

Carlos's heart  broke apart in his chest, because the answer to that question was him, he had loved a monster. One who had cheated and preyed on countless innocent girls. A liar, hypocrite, insensitive, cynical and disgusting monster. A monster that Carlos would give anything to return to life, even for a minute, to let him know how much Carlos hated him and especially how much his love for him eclipsed everything else.

Carlos was in a bitter silence, he thought so hard that his head hurt.

In that pause, Mauclerc walked his way down the hall, waiting for Carlos to follow him.

'' Mauclerc, would it bother you if I continue alone from here?’’ He spoke with his feet well planted in the same place.

" Are you going to talk to her? "

" I think ... we could understand each other well." He shrugged, his heart beating expectantly and hard inside his chest.

'' If you want, but don't get your hopes up, she hasn't wanted to talk to anyone in months. '' He said, taking care of Christine as he would have taken care of any of his employees. ''but hey, none of you have anything to lose'' He tried to joke to lighten the mood

 But Carlos didn't laugh, as Mauclerc was right, and there were few things as horrible as having nothing to lose, not having where to belong. A lonely and empty existence. How Juan could live voluntarily like that, was out of Carlos's understanding.

" Yeah, thanks for telling me everything," He nodded kindly.

'' You're welcome, good luck, Carlos. She's a hard nut to crack. " He returned to pat his shoulder. " See you later. "

'' Goodbye '' Carlos muttered before turning and walking in the opposite direction

A lump formed in his throat as his steps slowed, postponing the moment

A ghost in Juan's imagination, a phantom of flesh and blood for Christine.  The existence of such a coincidence seemed like a cruel joke,

 

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

- ¿A ghost, Juan? ¿The invisible type?- Carlos asked, skeptical

- Yes.-

Carlos felt bad about relaxing when he saw Juan so scared, but after all, ghosts are not real, Juan was safe.

- You'll be fine, come, let's take you home, everything will be better in the morning, I promise. -  He tried to convince Juan by hugging him. Carlos didn't want to let it go, but what else could he do? He wanted to stay with him and hug him until each of his fears disappeared.

- NO.- Juan yelled clinging to Carlos with such force that it hurt him - Don't leave me alone, he will find me!- He begged.

Carlos didn't even want to let it go in the first place, so he nodded.

- ¿Do you want to stay in the guest room?-  Carlos asked.

The guest room was ... all the rooms in the house except his. It could be such a lonely place.

Juan did not answer immediately, and in a rare event to see, not seen since childhood, Juan looked down shyly.

- Could I stay with you?- He asked hesitantly.

Carlos would have yelled yes, if he could remember how to speak. He felt the blood boil under his cheeks, and a silly and nervous smile appeared on his lips.

- Like… ¿In my bed? ¿With me?- Carlos stutters

Juan, who was not ashamed to share the bed with anyone, nodded .- Yes, ¿What's the problem? We used to do it before.-

- When we were 8 years old, Juan!-  Carlos protested, looking away, embarrassed.

- ¿And? It doesn't bother me.-  Juan said. He had calmed down in Carlos's arms.

- ¿And you wondered if it bother me? -  Carlos raised an eyebrow

- ¿Does it?- Juan asked blatantly, a mocking smile that made Carlos want to kiss him and hit him at the same time.

-No.- He had to confess.

Juan got out of his arms, and as if he had just decided that the house was his, he climbed the stairs.

- I wait for you upstairs.- He spoke in the middle of the stairs. That sounded so domestic, it made Carlos feel his inside melt.

Carlos stood in the middle of the room. The residual heat of Juan's body against his defeated him.

When he finally went up, Juan was asleep, with his day clothes and boots on, without caring how sweaty he was, and of course, in those minutes he decided that he absolutely needed all the pillows and bedsheets. Bastard son of a bitch

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

 

He laughed at the memory, at the same time he reached the white door. He looked at it for a moment, there was silence, that beautiful voice was no longer heard.

''… Hello. '' Carlos whispered opening the door just enough to let his head in and knocking on the door to announce his presence

Christine had her head on the table, held by her arms. Carlos thought about whether she was crying or sleeping, but she raised her head and looked at him with dry and awake eyes

She stared at him, with no intention of saying anything.

''…I-I'm Carlos, do you remember me?''

She leaned her head against her fist, her elbow against the table ''That if I remember you? We met ten minutes ago.'' She smiled wearily, some humor gleaming in her eyes.

He laughed nervous. '' That's true.'' He paused. '' May I come in?''

'' Do what you want, it's not like this room was mine. '' It seemed that her initial intention was to move him away, but she realized that it would not work with Carlos. '' You can sit in the other chair."

She pointed a finger at a chair thrown in a corner of the room,

'' Thank you. '' He closed the door and dragged the chair until it was a couple of feet away from Christine.

'' Excuse me, can you open the door? I don't need any more rumors about me. '' She asked before Carlos had a chance to sit down

'' Oh, sure, sorry. ''  He said and quickly went to open the door halfway, the hallway was empty anyway.

Although she did nothing to confirm his suspicion that he was not welcome, she also did nothing to hide that she did not want him here. Carlos felt bad about invading her space, but now he wanted to help her. She wanted to be alone? No, nobody wanted to be alone, it must be something else

'' Sorry. '' He repeated and dragged his feet to the chair to straddle it.

It was covered in dust, no one but Christine had been here for a while. She nodded and sewed again without paying much attention to the Spaniard.

For Carlos the silence was uncomfortable and tense, almost overwhelming. Christine had learned that the feelings of discomfort caused by her simple existence were not her responsibility, so she kept calm by instinct and ignoring him by choice

''… I’m not sure why I’m here. '' Carlos started crossing his arms over the back of the chair, tense.

'' You made Elijah tell you everything, right? '' The girl guessed without looking at him, focused on the blue garment in her lap. "That's why you're here."

'' And how do you know? ’’ Carlos asked with blushed cheeks, embarrassed by his transparent intentions.

'' I saw you all the intention to interrogate him as soon as you left, that's fine, you're not the first one. '' She said, so much bitterness shouldn't fit in someone so small. '' It's rude to get into the lives of others '' she added looking up briefly, she had such an intense look.

" I'm so sorry, Miss, but I thought we could talk?" He spoke trying not to stutter, thinking that maybe this hadn't been such a good idea.

" What happened to you? " Christine spoke in the same second that Carlos's mouth closed.

'' Excuse me? '' Carlos blinked in surprise a couple of times

'' You are not the first person who comes to me trying to get the phantom story first hand, but I do not think I am wrong when I say that you did not come to that. '' Christine spoke leaving her tools on her desk ''  You saw something in me, like I saw something in you, why? '' She had such kind, but sad eyes.

Carlos sighed deeply, felt the tears stinging through his eyes, a few found their way through his face.

'' Well there was a person, there in my hometown, Seville, his name was Juan and ... '' Carlos could not continue and his vision was blurred by tears. Way too soon.

Christine, who was used to seeing that kind of sadness in herself, barely blinked, and Carlos wiped his tears feeling calm, there were not awkward silent and unnecessary words on her part. He knew that he was not being judged and that she understood.

'' I guess not you don't want to talk about it. '' Christine whispered.

She put a hand on Carlos’, a gesture to comfort him from a stranger who was worth more than all the words in the world.

'' Maybe later, I told you my hometown, why don't you tell me yours, Christine? It seems like you need a friend ’’ He spoke, wiping his tears with his sleeve almost like a child would.

She slipped her hand out of his, and dropped herself into her chair, crossing her arms and staring at the ceiling.

'' I don't want a friend. " She said without looking at him, frowning, saying it in a sob-like sound, although her eyes remained dry at all times.

'' But maybe you need one, I know I do. " Carlos smiled shakily.

He extended one of his hands to her.

Christine fell silent. How could she tell him she was cursed? If she wanted to push it away it was for his own good, but he was so gentle, and she was so, so alone.

Christine sighed and turned her head to see him, and for the first time she smiled at him, almost effortlessly.

'' Maybe you're right.''


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- ¡Step aside! - Carlos exclaimed ripped one of the pillows under Juan and hitting him to push him at the edge of the bed

The bastard laughed pretending to be asleep, but he obeyed and moved.

Carlos lay on the bare mattress, staring at the ceiling, unable to relax.

- ... ¿Juan?- he whispered nervously, feeling his skin tingle

- ¿Umh?-  Juan replied annoyed, turning his back.

- ¿This is wrong isn't it?-  He almost wanted to cry

- ¿Why do you ask? - Juan turned to look at Carlos, more awake

- ¿What about Maria? - Carlos had nothing against the girl and was grateful for her existence, but her name was poison in his mouth.

- ¿And my Maria what does this have to do with this? - Juan asked almost hostile.

- ¿Sharing a bed is not like you're cheating on her? - Carlos felt his heart beating in his throat and cold sweat covering his forehead.

Juan laughed as if he had been told the best joke in the world, his laugh was so cruel. Each laugh was a stab in Carlos.

- ¡Don't be ridiculous, you're Carlos! Just Carlos.-  If Carlos could feel something above his heart breaking, he could have seen a warmth and affection in Juan's eyes that he himself did not know he had. -I would feel guilty if I had to share the bed with someone else, but you're just Carlos, that's why I came here. -

- True, you are just Juan, I’m just Carlos, it's okay. - He forced himself to smile, in the darkness Juan did not see the falsehood of it.

- Yes, yes, whatever, now let me sleep,- Juan said, turning on his back again.

Carlos waited for him to fall asleep, he waited another hour staring at the ceiling until he was sure that Juan was asleep.

He turned on his side, arms crossed resisting the urge to hug him. He rested his forehead on Juan's back, burying his nose, and in the smell of Juan, Carlos fell asleep in the most painfully sweet dream he had ever had.