Firstly, so sorry for all the grammar mistakes. English is still not my first language.

So, how to describe this fic. Sometime ago I made a Count of Monte Cristo plotted fic set in Harry Potter world. During that time I wondered if the same trick would work in Phantom world. I forgot the whole thing until a couple months ago then I saw a 24 parts long anime series "Gankutsuou", a futuristic Count of Monte Cristo story. It stirred the writer in me and I knew sooner or later I had to do this. As Gankutsuou, this fic is also set in the future and starts from the middle of Alexander Dumas novel. In some ways this is very close to the book, in others it's not.

I've gathered here characters from POTO versions. You'll probably recognise names and hints from Leroux, Kay, ALW and different movie versions. I hope you'll enjoy.

Disclaimer: I just use them, I don't owe them.

THE PHANTOM COUNT

Chapter 1 Celebrating the New Year

4…3…2…1…HAPPY NEW YEAR 2077!

And will you just look at that! I've never seen such a grand fireworks before. The citizens of Paris have certainly put their best this time around. I see fireworks resembling different animals and fairy tale creatures and was that a bat- signal? Truly incredible party has started here in the capital of United-Europe and very soon celebrations will continue everywhere in the world! This is Gilles Andre, for Parisian Network!

The TV was turned off in a hotel room in New Budapest. Charles, viscount de Chagny, went standing in front of a mirror. This young man had turned 17 just in last month and with that inherited the title of being viscount. Truthfully Charles didn't fully comprehend what it exactly meant to be, but he knew that he was in an important position, being the only son of Count de Chagny, the famous war hero.

There was a brief knock on the door and black haired young man, few years older than Charles, entered, dressed in a fine tuxedo.

"Well, Charles, ready to face the world as a man?" the man winked teasingly.

"Harry, I really don't think my age decides if I am a man or not" Charles said, combing his brown hair.

"You're absolutely right. You are still just a kid" his best friend, Harry Hunter, said and earned a mean glare.

"Just because you're a couple of years older than me…" Charles started.

"And more experienced and handsome and…" Harry kept going.

"Well, you're no aristocrat".

"Heh, a mere title if you ask me. Seriously, I think after the last war the world has gone a century back in time with all these aristocrats appearing" Harry said lazily. "And hurry up now, we are going to miss the New Year's party soon".

"I know, I know…"

12 minutes later Charles and Harry sat in a limousine driving through the streets of New Budapest. The last war had not been generous one to this part of the Europe and both young men could see that part of the city was still in need of rebuilding.

"I've heard that crime is flourishing in this city. Since it's a feast day and the crème of society is gathering I imagine many valets will disappear. Just to warn you" Harry said, from his side of the seat.

Charles listened only half-heartedly. He was more curious looking the still remained buildings of the Budapest before the war. Architecture had always been his weakness.

The limo arrived to a grand looking château. As Charles and Harry get up they blend in the crowd of people socialising outside the chateau.

"Charles! Charles!"

Charles de Chagny had to look carefully to see where the voice was coming from, but finally noticed the curvy black haired figure of Madame Hunyadi waving to him. Harry's tongue nearly dropped when he too noticed the woman.

"Charles, who is she?" he asked.

"Madame Hunyadi is one of the mother's opera loving friends. You know how much my mother loves opera. And stop drooling, she is over 20 years older than you!" Charles said through his teeth.

Two young me approached the woman.

"Madame Hunyadi, it is a pleasure to meet you again" Charles said, with a rehearsed politeness.

"I'm sure. And who, pray tell, is your friend?" the elder woman asked.

Harry immediately took a step forward. "Harry Hunter, at your service, Madame. Charles was good enough to invite me here".

"Have you two been friends for long then?"

"All our lives, Madame, we-"

Whatever Charles was about to say, nobody knew. He just went silence as did majority of the crowd around them. A feverish whispering started and it seemed everyone was looking at the black limo that had just driven to the entrance.

"It is him" Madame Hunyadi whispered.

The limo door opened and a figure of a man stepped outside. His clothes immediately told that he too was an aristocrat. He was dressed in black tuxedo and had a long black cape around him. He walked with a majestic grace through the crowds that seemed to split up in front of him, like a sea in front of Moses. He held his hat down, as if to cover his face but there seemed to be no need for that. Everyone noticed the mask covering his face.

For a moment mysterious man seemed to turn his head slightly towards where Harry, Charles and Madame Hunyadi were standing. Charles nearly gasped. His eyes are shining like cats!

Then the figure disappeared inside the château and crowd eased in talking again.

"Who was that?" Charles asked aloud.

Madame Hunyadi was immediately up to gossiping. "Nobody is quite sure who he is. His stayed in New Budapest for couple weeks now and the entire time the whole town has done nothing but gossiped about him. There are numerous theories who he is. Others say he is from the long line of royal blood from the Japan. Others say he is one of the last living Americans left. The whole man is a mystery".

"Why is he wearing a mask?" Harry asked.

"Nobody knows that either. Some says he is a criminal hiding his face. Others say he is hiding some deformity from birth or an injury from war. And others say there is nothing wrong in his face. He just keeps a mask to make himself mysterious".

"You mean he never takes it off?" Harry asked, astonished.

"Not in public".

"What is his name? He must have one" Charles said.

Madame Hunyadi smiled. "He is only known as Count Paradise. They say he owns the Paradise Islands".

Harry mentioned something about name being too biblical but other than that mysterious count was not talked about again. Instead the two young men entered the ball room and started the celebration of the New Year.

As much as dancing with total strangers and watching fireworks could provide pleasure for some, Charles felt himself rather lonely in the crowded room. He had never been that good at socializing with people outside the group of friends he knew. Therefore his only choices were listening to Madame Hunyadi's latest gossips or watching as Harry introduced himself to every female in the room.

It was then, when Charles was wondering around the Ball room, he noticed the masked Count Paradise standing a top of the grand staircase. Now that he wasn't wearing his cape, Charles saw how incredibly thin he was. He looked like a skeleton wearing a tuxedo. Count's eyes met his and Charles felt uncomfortable. It felt like Count was trying to see in his mind.

Then Charles felt a hand on his shoulder and turned around to see a strange oriental girl, about his age. Before Charles could mutter a word, girl gave him a rather forceful kiss. Feeling her tongue suddenly in his mouth, made Charles almost loose consciousness. He was too stunned to object when the girl took hold of his collar and started to drag him out of the ball room, to the less crowded corners of the château.

In a dark hallway girl stopped kissing Charles and gave him a playful, yet seductive smile.

Then Charles felt a presence behind him and a hard hit in the back of his head.

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