Angels of Music (chapter 1)

Disclaimer: Phantom of the Opera belongs to a bunch of people, but mostly Gaston Leroux and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

A/n: I sat down at my computer after reading numerous fanfics of various types, and contemplated what to write. I finally decided on a twist on The Phantom of the Opera. I want to remind whoever may read this phanfic that it's meant to be at least a little bit funny, and I have no intention of upsetting any phans, as I love Phantom very much.

I started where most phanfics start . . . in the Paris Opera House. Christine was speaking to her "Angel of Music" in her dressing room . . .

Little did she know that Michael Crawford (yes, THE Michael Crawford) had managed to come and watch the story of the Phantom of the Opera unfold. He had come here of his own devices (which I will leave to leave to the reader's imagination). He was hiding in Christine's wardrobe. It was not a brilliant place to hide, perhaps, but it was the first place he saw when he realized she would probably walk in any minute. So, he jumped in the wardrobe just she opened the door, and he was ceratain she had spotted him. Fortunately, she was distracted by Raoul. Michael thought to himself that he never particularly liked that man. Although the Vicomte de Chagny could be a gentleman if he tried, he had a constant conceited air about him, which Michael detested but Christine seemed to adore. Michael had always preferred Erik, even though his point of view was more than a little biased when it came to this story (one which he knew very well). Michael watched as Raoul left and Christine and Erik began singing to each other. He watched as Erik showed himself to Christine in the mirror. Determined to follow them, Michael hid himself behind Christine so that she would not notice him. He was not so absent-minded to think that Erik wouldn't notice him there, but Michael had a feeling that the Phantom would let him through the mirror.

He was right. Erik looked at the man who was obviously hiding himself from Christine, and at first he felt a twinge of jealousy - he always felt that twinge whenever he saw a man with a handsome face, for it reminded him of his own grotesque face. Then he looked more carefully at the stranger's face and saw a look of sympathy and understanding there that he would not soon forget, so he decided to let the man through.

Michael did not dare to try to get in or behind the boat, and he knew better than to try to swim across the lake. So, he went around the lake, feeling along the edge of a wall, and trying not to fall off the narrow ledge he was standing on. He inched his way to Erik's house, and discovered him in the middle of what was similar to the "Music of the Night" sequence in the musical. He smiled, and hid himself in the shadows, watching silently as Erik sang to Christine in a way that Michael had tried so very hard to imagine and imitate. At the end, Christine fainted, as expected, and was lovingly carried to her hidden room. When the door was closed, Erik went and sat in a chair in the middle of the room the two men were in. Michael took this moment of silence to straighten himself up a bit.
Suddenly, Erik spoke. "Please show yourself, monsieur. I know you're there, and I'd like to know just exactly what you want with me."

Sheepishly, Michael came from his hiding place. He crossed to stand opposite the Phantom, overawed at the fact that he was actually speaking to a character he had played for five years. "I mean no harm," he said, in perfect French. He'd learned to speak the language in preparation for the trip. He paused, unsure of what to say next, and he certainly did not want to rouse Erik's temper. He found a safe subject. "My name is Michael."

"Sit down," said Erik. "You make me nervous standing like that." He paused for a moment as Michael sat down across from him. "May I ask what you were doing in Mlle. Daae's dressing room?" His eyes demanded an answer, but he hoped that Michael would not see the fear and jealousy they concealed.

Michael did not, but he had a suspicion. After all, you don't play a character for five years without learning every bit of his personality. He had to come up with a good reason for being there. He couldn't say that he'd simply materialized in her dressing room, although he had. Or, perhaps, with Erik, he should be honest. Michael sighed, preparing himself, and decided to tell the truth with the Phantom, whatever the cost. "Monsieur, I have a great respect for you, so I shall be perfectly honest with you. But I request that you do not laugh at me, and that you believe me. For everything I'm going to tell you will be the truth."

Erik nodded, wondering what it was this man had to say.

Michael took a deep breath. "I have traveled a great distance to be here. In fact, I come from a different time - well over a century into the future." Erik sat back at this. This was not what he had expected. Michael continued. "The reason I came was because I have a great interest in the Opera House. I wish to know more about the way it was when it was new. Also, the rumors of a ghost living in this opera house are . . . ah . . . still very active over 100 years from now. My curiosity was too much for me to handle, and soon I found myself traveling backward in time." Michael stopped for a minute, looking to see if Erik was listening or preparing to throw him out, or worse.

Erik simply stared at Michael. The idea was more than strange. It was positively mad. But something in Michael's eyes told Erik that he was not mad. Indeed, he was quite sane. Suppose this man was telling the truth. Suppose he really did want to find out if the rumors of a ghost were true. Finally, Erik spoke. "I must say that I quite like the idea of my 'fame' still spreading a century from now. What an intriguing thought . . ."
Michael suddenly smiled. Erik not only didn't laugh at him or throw him out, he believed him. How amazing!

Erik did believe him, and he had just spent a minute or two entertaining the idea of an opera about his life. He dismissed it completely, and came back to his senses. Such an odd fantasy would never come true, he thought to himself. He looked at Michael's eyes again. He saw the understanding and compassion he had seen in them before at Christine's dressing room. He suddenly asked, "This may seem an odd question, sir, but for some reason I see my own pain in your eyes. Why is that?" Erik was surprised at himself. He had asked that question without even thinking about it first. It was too late now, but he wished he had not asked it, for it was unlike him to reveal so much about himself to a stranger.

Michael thought for a minute, for he too had been surprised by the question. He finally said, "In the future, there are books, movies, plays, and operas written about you and your life." Michael took another deep breath. "I have played you in one of these operas. Well, not an opera really. It's still the same idea as an opera, but it's slightly more . . . ah . . . futuristic. It's called a musical - and they're very popular in the future."

"So, you are a singer then," said Erik. Michael nodded, and then the full reality of what Michael had said seemed to sink into Erik's brain. He stopped and stared. "You . . . have played . . . me? In a . . . er . . . musical," he said, trying out the new word. He paused again, and then had another interesting thought. "Did this musical about me do well?" he asked.

"Yes," said Michael. "There's a very large following. Fans of the musical write stories about you - they publish them all the time," he said - not wanting to get into the subject of fanfic and the internet. "You're very popular."

Erik was startled. He'd never been a very popular man. He wondered why so many wrote stories about a ghost at the Paris Opera House. Michael let him wonder. He didn't wish to reveal the future more than he already had. And he certainly didn't want to tell Erik his fate. At that thought, Michael had an idea. Perhaps he could change history. Perhaps he could save the Phantom from his impending misery. No, he thought. That would mean no novel, no musical, and no fame for either of them. Michael pondered this for a moment or two before deciding that fame was not as important as saving Erik from a broken heart. He decided to follow his plan through to the end, despite the effects it would certainly have on his life.

"What do you ask of me, then?" asked Erik.

Michael found it difficult not to laugh on his choice of words - it would have made no sense to the Phantom. He had no way of knowing that he'd just reminded Michael of a song from the musical that would be about him. "I have two requests. The first is that you introduce me to Christine as soon as she wakes up in the morning, and that you let me talk to her."

Erik started at this. Perhaps this was all a ploy the man was using to take his Christine. He suddenly grew suspicious.

Michael noticed Erik's change in posture, and decided to set his mind at ease. "I promise you, monsieur, I have no intention of . . . shall I say . . . drawing Christine from you."

That was enough to satisfy Erik. "The second request, then?" he asked.

Michael smiled. "That you let me talk to you and that you consider any advice I may have with care."

Erik nodded. That sounded simple enough. Michael suddenly glanced at his watch. He had not realized how late it was. Erik saw this and offered a place on the couch to sleep with the excuse, "I'm not really used to entertaining guests."

Michael accepted, not wishing to try to find a place to sleep just yet, and very grateful for the offer. He wondered why Erik was being so generous to him, but any and all thoughts he had in his head soon vanished as fatigue overtook him and he fell into a dreamless sleep.

*****

In the morning, Erik awoke to find Michael fast asleep on the couch in the parlor. Not wishing to awaken his guest, he decided not to compose this morning, but rather try to find some sort of breakfast to offer to Michael and Christine. He could go for days without eating, but he knew that his guests could not and would be hungry when they awoke.

This is how Michael came to awake to the smell of a wonderful breakfast cooking. He spent some time composing himself and thinking about how the real Erik compared to the Phantom that he had imagined. He wore a full mask, not a half mask - but Michael had expected that. The half mask was simply an invention that would help him to be able to sing in the show. Erik had the same cool, calculated mannerisms that Michael had imagined. His voice, however, was beyond imagination. Michael had never fancied his own voice to be at all like this man's, but he had not expected the amazing genius that was present in Erik's voice. Every sound that came out of his mouth was wonderfully musical, whether he was singing or speaking. He was neither tenor nor bass, but rather both. He had a range that was rivaled by no one else on earth, and a beautiful true pitch. Michael felt a twinge of jealousy at the man's natural talent when he had worked so hard for his voice to be only half as good. But such is the way of things, and Michael accepted the fact in his usual humble manner. Presently, Erik entered the room to find Michael deep in thought. Michael looked up and smiled at the Phantom, hoping breakfast was ready.

"If you're hungry, I have prepared a bit of breakfast," said Erik. Michael needed no more invitation, but obediently followed to the dining room (what a glorious room it was,) and ate to his heart's content. Somewhere along the line, Christine entered the room. She was still dressed in her Marguerite costume from "Faust," only with a white dressing gown over it. She had obviously brushed her long hair, for it did not knot together, but instead hung in lovely brown curls around her face. Her green eyes were bright, and her cheeks glowed with the natural beauty of youth. Erik looked up at her immediately. Michael could tell instantly by the look in his eyes that he truly did love the young singer, and renewed his promise to make it all come out right this time. Christine smiled at him, and her eyes showed something other than love - sort of a fascination or infatuation with the Phantom. Then she looked at Michael with obviously questioning eyes. At this, Erik rose.

"My dear Mlle. Daae," he said, coming up to her. He considered kissing her hand, but decided he'd better not - she might find him too grotesque. "May I present to you a friend of mine, Michael . . . er -"

"Crawford," Michael jumped to his feet and walked over to her. "Michael Crawford. Very pleased to make your acquaintance, mademoiselle."

"Charmed, monsieur," was her polite response.

"Non, mademoiselle. Please call me Michael."

"Very well, mons . . . Michael, as you wish."

Erik smiled. Michael was true to his word. His face showed no interest in Christine at all, and he knew Michael would take care to make sure she was aware of that.

Michael looked at Erik and, refraining from using the Phantom's true name, asked, "May I have a word with Christine alone?"

The Phantom studied Michael very carefully before reluctantly agreeing. He looked longingly at Christine as he left the room.

"Please, mademoiselle, sit down," said Michael.

"Merci," she said as she sat one chair away from him. "And if I am to call you Michael, you must call me Christine rather than mademoiselle."

Michael nodded. Then paused, wondering how to put into words what he knew he must say to the young girl. He took a deep breath and plunged in headfirst. "Christine, as a friend of Erik's, I must caution you never to touch his mask. He most likely has already warned you not to do this, but I shall tell you again. If you do, it will surely rouse his temper."

Christine had a look on her face that plainly said, "Well, how bad could that be?" Obviously, she didn't know the Phantom very well at all.

Michael sighed. "There is no telling what he'll do if his temper is flared. He's been known to kill innocent people because they mentioned his mask. This is why I'm warning you, Christine. He will show you his face when he is ready, and no sooner."

"But why is he so protective of his face? How bad could it possibly be that he wears that dreadful mask all the time?" Christine asked, innocently.

"His face has been a source of ridicule for him for many years, Christine. I have never seen his face. I'm not sure if he's ever agreed to someone looking at his face. In the past, his mask was taken off without his permission in front of crowds that paid to see him."

Christine gasped. She'd had no idea.

Michael continued. "Christine, Erik loves you very much. It's obvious to me every time he looks at you. Love is an emotion he's not used to experiencing. I'm not sure if anyone in the world has ever truly loved him, not even his mother. Please don't do anything to rouse his temper. Carry on with your lessons, he'll want to continue them. Please remember that he's no angel, but a man who has experienced all of the pain in life with none of the joy - until now, with you."

Christine wondered how on earth this man knew so much about Erik, but didn't dare ask. She just accepted his advice and absorbed what he was telling her to the best of her ability. At this thought, she rose to leave. "Thank you, Michael. I'll think about what you said."

"That's all I can ask, Christine."

Little did either of them know that Erik had been pacing outside the door the entire time. He sincerely wished that he knew what they were saying, but he had no way of finding out now. He was so engaged in thought that he didn't hear the door open.

Christine watched him pace for a moment, fascinated that the man that carried himself so well had a human side with faults. Suddenly Erik stopped, turned, and found himself face to face with Christine. He looked surprised for an instant, and then took control over himself again. "Mlle. Daae, it's time for your lesson," he said calmly.

Christine smiled warmly. "Please call me Christine, Erik," she said.

"Christine . . ." said the Phantom, as if trying the name out, and finding it very enjoyable to say, now that he could say it with permission.

Hearing Erik say her name was like music to her ears. It sent shivers up and down her spine - shivers that she could not, and didn't wish to, explain.

*****

More to come. Please r/r.

~ Erik's Angel ~