10.

Gus unsuccessfully tried to stifle a yawn. He'd been sitting uncomfortably on the stone floor for several hours. Initially he had been kept awake mainly from the adrenaline rush of the situation, but as that faded a measure of embarrassment at finding himself in Lucy's room had kept him alert. After sitting for hours, even that had faded and now he was mainly kept awake by a mixture of stubbornness and discomfort. If it had only been one or the other he'd most likely have passed out from fatigue, but stubbornness kept him awake and when that failed the pain of sitting on the floor for hours refocused his mind.

As even the aches in his legs started to dull into a mild throb and Gus started to wonder if he should just take a short nap, he heard shuffling outside the door. He leaned toward the door, to try to hear what was happening outside when he was startled by a loud rap on the door.

Lucy pulled herself up in the bed and blinked at Gus before turning to the door. Her hair was even more unruly than it had been in previous meetings and her clothing was rumpled from her time asleep. She was pulling her blanket aside when a second, more insistent knock sounded from the door.

"Coming Maestro," Lucy responded as she sped up her exit from the bed. A few seconds later she had bounded over to the door and unlocked it before turning the knob to welcome him into the room.

The man Lucy called Maestro hurriedly entered the room. His gaze swept over everything, before settling on Lucy who was standing beside the door she had just opened.

"What is HE doing here?" The man asked Lucy while motioning towards Gus.

"You told me to get him settled for the evening…"

"But what is he doing HERE," he interrupted. "In this room," he added when Lucy appeared to be confused by the question.

"Maestro there weren't any options other than this room. You know none of the other rooms are secure aside from yours and I wasn't going to leave him there."

The masked man seemed to consider a response before deciding against it and throwing a quick glare at Gus. For his part, Gus tried to return his best smile. He wasn't sure how well he'd done though. The arrival of the masked man had cleared his head once more, but that allowed him the clarity to realize his legs had fallen asleep and would take some time to support his weight. After the man had steadfastly refused Gus's attempts at etiquette by withholding his name or any useful identifiers, Gus had no desire to provide the man the satisfaction of watching him fall on his face attempting to stand up.

Gus began shifting his feet beneath himself to restart the circulation in his legs when a realization hit him. None of the lamps in the room were lit, and yet the room had been dimly illuminated even before the door had opened. He looked around curiously before staring up to see a small dome that was shining what he would normally think of as an early dawn light into the room. Despite himself, he stared quizzically at the small dome.

The masked man went over to the desk in the room and turned to face the others. Lucy quickly made her way from the door back to her bed and sat on the edge of it. Gus brought his attention back to the other man but remained seated on the floor. They all sat looking at each other for a few moments before the masked man began speaking.

"It appears that things are as you two said. There have been several attacks around town recently. Lucy, you should stay here for now. At least until I can figure out what exactly is going on. It's too dangerous out there right now. Monsieur de Chagny, I will return you to town. You can go back to school, or go to your room, or whatever it is you do, it is not my concern."

Lucy looked like she wanted to object, but remained silent. Gus rose unsteadily to his feet and stared defiantly at the other man.

"Hold on, I still have questions."

And I feel no obligation to answer them. If you want to know about your parents, then ask your parents, rather than some stranger you just met. The assailant was not after you. From what I can tell this started before you arrived. You just have exquisitely bad timing. Like father, like son I suppose. Now let's go."

"Wait, at least tell me who you are. How can I ask my parents about you if I don't even know that?"

The man stopped mid-step and turned his gaze directly onto Gus. Eyes that he hadn't really looked at before, not even when they were alone in the other room, now stared appraisingly at him. The intensity of the man's gaze made Gus uncomfortable, but he summoned up all his determination to not flinch from it. What remained of his hair, was wispy and the skin that wasn't covered by the mask seemed like that of a cadaver. Everything he could see of the man looked to be barely holding on to life, but not his eyes. Those eyes belonged to a vigorous and intense man, a man who was not to be underestimated nor trifled with, a dangerous man.

He smiled a joyless smile, before replying. "Tell them, 'O.G.' sends his regards." He then continued to the door and ordered Gus to follow.

Gus was confused, but also very tired. He had so many questions for both of the residents of this place, but decided it would be futile to ask. This OG clearly had no intention of providing Gus with more information, and he had no doubt that Lucy would follow The Maestro's lead. With a sigh, he walked slowly to the doorway. Before stepping out, he turned back towards the bed.

"I thank you for the pleasure of your company Mademoiselle. Until we meet again."

He then bowed and followed OG into the hallway. He took some small yet childish satisfaction from the discomfort the display seemed to cause the other man.

"Stay here until I return," he said to Lucy before closing the door.

They returned to what Gus had decided was OG's room. The man took a moment to stare at him again, but this time in a more inquisitive manner. He seemed to be struggling internally with some matter, but finally grabbed some cloth from a nearby table and covered Gus's eyes. He had expected this, so he made no move to struggle, or otherwise impede the blindfold. Once the other man was satisfied that it was secure and Gus could not see, he began leading him out.

They walked wordlessly though the catacombs for some time. The only sounds were their breathing and sound of their shoe leather gently slapping the floor beneath them. Finally, they stopped and OG removed the blindfold. They were still in the cavern, but Gus saw the stairs he had descended hours before in the middle of the night. Before he could move toward them, the other man stopped him and finally spoke.

"In consideration of your mother, since I am sure she would not want you killed, I will give you this one warning. When walking at night, keep your hand at the level of your eyes." He then raised his hand beside his face to show him what he meant.

Gus was confused, and asked, "but why?"

"Just heed my advice. It may save your life. And don't return here. Once you leave, I will be blocking this path, so don't bother trying to come back."

He then walked ahead to the steps and made his way to the top. Gus was beginning to wonder if the man was insane and thought he should leave before he lost his wits. OG appeared to be staring out of an opening, and once he'd satisfied himself with what he saw, he operated a mechanism on the wall and the opening to the street appeared. Gus marveled at how a previously solid looking wall now revealed a hidden door, but was swiftly shoved through the opening into the street. He stumbled out and struggled to regain his footing before turning back towards the opening he'd just exited only to see it finish closing.

He returned the few steps he had taken and stared intently at the again solid wall. But try as he might, he couldn't find a single seam or joint or other indication that it was anything other than a solid stone wall to one of the buildings in town. He poked and prodded at various spots, but couldn't find any way to open the door or even prove that a door existed at all.

Regretfully, he sighed and made his way back to the main street from the back alley he'd be left in. As he'd expected, he saw that it was now early morning. The sun had not been up long, so the air was still cool and crisp. His body complained about the lack of sleep and rough treatment it had been subjected to that evening. Gus considered returning to his room, but he was sure that would lead to questions, as well as efforts to push him to class. And after the events of the last 12 hours he decided he wasn't up for that. His stomach suggested that he postpone any of those options for breakfast, so Gus complied and made his way to the local baker.

After visiting the baker, Gus started wandering aimlessly through town while munching on the bread he had just bought. He had no specific destination in mind, and soon found himself on the edge of town. He couldn't think of any reason to go back into town, if anything he absently thought he might be more likely to run into trouble so he continued walking towards the park ahead of him.

As he walked, Gus felt a sense of familiarity with the park he was walking in, and suddenly realized it was where he had seen Lucy singing by the stream. He saw the bridge she'd disappeared under a ways off and before he knew it he had seated himself by the stream around where she had been singing that day. It was hard for Gus to believe that that strange masked man had taught not only Lucy, but also his mother about singing. But it helped explain why he had found her singing oddly familiar that day.

Gus laid down on the slightly damp grass and stared up at the sky. He had already been wearing these clothes for hours most of which was spent sitting on a floor in an underground room, so adding some mud and dew didn't matter much. He closed his eyes and listened to the soothing sounds of the water from the nearby stream running over the rocks and let his mind drift.

Gus wasn't sure how long he'd been wandering the underground maze, but he knew he was totally lost. No matter which way he turned, every path seemed to lead to a dead end. And even when he would turn to make his way back, it seemed that the path itself had changed and he found himself again staring at a solid wall after several turns.

Although he found the confusing labyrinth frustrating, it was merely a hindrance from the real problem. He had been chasing his masked tormentor for a long time, but seemed no nearer than when he'd started. Several times, Gus had turned his back on a dead end only to have the masked man dart out of an opening and attack him from behind with a club. Each time he would then fade away into the darkness and leave Gus swiping at shadows. So Gus ran from his ghoulish tormentor, through an endless maze while enduring endless taunts.

You're weak. You're the son of a thief. You have no talent. You don't know anything.

Gus kept running, trying to block out the jeers. Why did he hold such contempt for Gus. He had only just met the man. He turned a corner and kept running down the street. The lights were out and no one was around. It was evening so everyone must be in bed. Where was he running to? Where could he go? He searched wildly for where to go when suddenly someone leaped out at him.

"I hate you!"

Gus was on the ground wrestling with Professor Firmin. The old professor was clumsily trying to hit Gus. Again, it was another man he barely knew who had some insane grudge against him. Gus threw him off and started running again. He ran down a school hallway. Eyes and whispers following him through the halls of academia.

"His father was exiled from Paris. Some scandal about marrying a commoner and losing a fortune."

"I heard they killed someone to make his mother a star."

"I don't even know why he's here, he doesn't belong at all."

Gus shut his eyes and kept running, trying to block it all out. None of it was true. Both his parents were beautiful and honorable people. They just wanted a fresh start after the terrible fire he'd read about, nothing more. Just like Gus needed a fresh start now. He looked frantically for an escape. He saw Alan up ahead, walking toward the pub.

"Alan!" Gus yelled, the relief at seeing a friendly face was palpable.

Alan turned back towards Gus's shout. He smiled before yelling loudly, "he's over here! Get him!"

Gus returned a look of pure shock at the betrayal. Alan shrugged, "it's just business. You have nothing to offer and these guys were willing to pay." A large group of men that Alan had called were rushing over, so Gus turned on his heel and was running again. Fleeing for his life from so many people. He tripped over a tree root as he stumbled through the forest running from the angry mob yelling and screaming behind him.

But then, slowly the shouts began to fade behind him and he heard it. It began softly. A low, barely audible melody started to reach out to him. His running slowed and he felt his fears and concerns start to recede. The frantic energy that had propelled him endlessly forward disappeared and Gus stopped and sank to the ground. The music was beautiful and he sat listening as it washed over him. There was no anger or betrayal. There was no dark past or ominous future. There was only the gentle caress of the beautiful music.

Like a man dying of thirst, Gus began to crawl towards the oasis that was the music he heard. He wandered through a misty fog. He couldn't see a foot in front of himself, but the music guided him onward. He followed the clear melody with a certainty that he felt throughout his entire body. His very soul told him that this was one thing he could always believe in, the music.

In the same way as it had begun, the music slowly began to fade away. The song was ending. Gus felt more at peace than he had before, but he didn't want it to end. He reached out, trying vainly to grasp the fleeting notes drifting away on the wind.

Gus suddenly jolted awake from a pain in his stomach. His eyes blinked painfully from the glare of the midday sun. He felt like his mind was still in the fog that clearly was not surrounding his body anymore. He was laying on the grass and the sound of water was clearly audible. He blinked a few more times as his eyes adjusted to the sunlight that was trying to force them closed. He turned to his side and saw Lucy standing over him with her hands on her hips.

"Is this how rich people spend their days? Laying on the ground while the rest of us try to earn a living?"

Gus thought that his side was probably about to have a nice bruise and he was starting to realize it was probably because the young woman standing over him had just kicked him pretty hard. Satisfied that he was now awake, Lucy sat down on the grass a few feet away from him.

"I thought the Maestro ordered you to stay home," Gus said as he winced while raising himself to a seated position.

"He did. But someone needs to take care of this problem. I'm not going to lock myself in a cage forever. If we put a stop to the maniac, then everything will be fine."

"The police are working on it."

Lucy rolled her eyes dismissively. "The police are blind and dumb. If we leave it to them then it's no better than just waiting for the killer to leave on his own."

"So why come to me?"

Lucy paused for a moment, seeming to be unsure of how to respond, before finally speaking. "I just came out for some air and saw a body of a fool by the river and thought I would send him off with the song he'd demanded. But then to my amazement, you're still alive."

Gus chuckled. "So then I guess we'll be working together?"

"Really, I'm only bringing you along to blame when the Maestro finds out. Try not to slow me down or draw too much attention in the meantime."

"Fair enough," Gus said, grinning ruefully as he stood up. OG already seemed to hate him anyway, so running off with his student wasn't going to make things worse. At least this way, the man's ire would make sense.