Let Your Spirit Start to Soar
XxX

Erik had survived when everyone, including Erik himself, had worried there might not be any hope.

He'd survived, but he wasn't living.

He hadn't left the apartment except for the occasional sneaking out at night, and he did that very rarely. There was a very real danger he'd remain jut as much of a recluse as he had been before, which would definitely not be good for his emotional or mental health.

Or his physical health, Lindsay thought.

He still barely ate anything, and surely he needed fresh air and sunshine.

For his part, Erik was increasingly restless and nervous. A mistrust of people had been deeply implanted in Erik since birth, and at almost every point in his life something had happened to only deepen that mistrust.

Living alone under the opera house all those years had hardly done anything to make Erik more social.

Now, in an apartment in a building where other people simply could not be avoided unless a person never left their room, Erik felt like he was in the proverbial snake pit.

Lindsay noticed Erik was having more and more of what she privately called his "phantom moments" for lack of a better term. He'd lock himself away and play music so dark, despairing, and terrifying that it had her shaking.

Sometimes he wouldn't come out for days at a time except to refresh himself and keep clean.

After that night in the park Lindsay thought maybe she was finally making progress with Erik, but things were not going to be that simple. Just giving him time to come around was helping a little, but it wouldn't be enough. She'd have to take the initiative and do something.

"Tommorow is Sunday," she mentioned as casually as possible one day, remembering Erik had mentioned taking Christine out on Sundays.

Erik tensed.

"If you are thinking of going to mass –" He'd noticed the religious images around the apartment.

"I meant I know Sundays are good days for doing things together. If you wanted to maybe go on a tour of the city or take in a show or something we could."

That seemed to surprise Erik.

"You haven't heard mass since I came here."

Lindsay shrugged.

"I do enjoy going to mass, but I think as far as doing what God wants, he'd rather have me do some real good."

Like keeping Erik happy.

Someday maybe they'd go to mass together, but she wasn't going to push him.

"So it's totally you're call, whatever you want to do."

Erik didn't answer right away. Doing anything at all meant going out in public, facing people staring – or worse. He'd been divided from people for so long, strengthening the wall that kept him safe from them even though it also kept him alone.

Suddenly Lindsay saw a silver compass appear in his hand. She hadn't even know he'd brought it with him, but she knew where he'd gotten it.

"'I hope you'll never get so good at building walls that you can't see when they need to be pulled down,'" he said quietly, lost in memory.

Lindsay's mouth dropped slightly. Giovanni, in a well intended but botched attempt at getting Erik to relax so they could have a talk, had given him too much wine the night he'd told him that. He'd thought Erik wouldn't remember anything they said that night, but Erik had at least remembered that much, and his answer.

"I'll see to that first thing, sir." He took a deep breath and the compass was gone again. This would be hard him at first, but it needed to be done.

"I haven't seen an opera in a long time," he commented.

Lindsay took her time carefully looking through the show listings on-line, for both Operas and musicals.

Aida, no. Not after the scene from it he'd wanted Christine to act out with him.

Faust. Definitely no!

Phantom was being performed at the Majestic. No way she was taking him anywhere near there.

Les Miserables. That had possibilities. The music was beautiful and it had a great storyline. She turned to ask him about it.

"I've read the book," Erik said when she mentioned the idea, and she got the impression he'd thought it was well written. At any rate, he agreed that would be a good choice.

So Lindsay, Erik, and Nadir left the apartment early the next day, deciding to make a day of it. They were just heading down the hall to the elevator when Erik felt a tug on suit jacket. He looked down to see a little girl.

"Uh, why do you wear that thing on your face?" She asked.

Lindsay cringed and saw Nadir doing the same. This was exactly the type of thing Erik was afraid of.

Erik tensed, but could tell the child wasn't being cruel. She sounded more concerned than anything.

"Because my face is different from other people's," he explained. "They don't like to see what I look like."

The little girl studied the mask before saying, "It's like a bandage." She probably got that impression from the white coloring. "Does it hurt?"

There was no doubting her concern now.

"Sometimes, in here," Erik answered, kneeling in front of her and pointing to his heart. Nadir and Lindsay knew, of course, that he didn't mean his literal heart trouble.

"My mommy has magic to make me feel better when I hurt," the child said brightly. "Maybe I can do it too and make you feel better."

She pressed her hand against his heart a moment, then said, "And mommy says nice things like hugs make the magic work better."

And with that she wrapped her small arms around Erik. He was breathless by this point. This little girl was so kind.

"All better?" She asked when she pulled back.

Erik nodded, emotion choking him as he said "Thank you."

Deciding to do something for the child he asked "Since you did magic for me, would you like me to do magic for you?"

The little girl nodded eagerly. Lindsay hadn't seen Erik do any magic yet, and watched with just as much interest as the child. Even Nadir, who'd seen Erik do magic many times before watched intently, knowing how talented he was.

Erik held out his hand palm up, clearly without anything in it, and there was a flash of light in that hand. The flash left behind white smoke that took the shape of a swan, which flew in a circle overhead twice before disappearing.

"Wow!" The little girl was obviously dazzled, as were Lindsay and Nadir. Lindsay had seen magicians on TV before and she could figure out how the tricks were done a fair amount of the time, but she couldn't see how Erik had done that.

Nadir had tried to figure out how Erik did some of the things he did too, like that music box, but so far he hadn't been successful in figuring out Erik's secrets.

Now the little girl looked at her own hand like she was trying to make the magic work for her. Erik chuckled.

"Someday maybe I'll have to teach you how to do some of the magic I know."

Just then the little girl's mother came up.

"Bonnie! There you are." She picked the little girl up and hugged her close. "Don't disappear on me like that again. You know you're too little to go wondering around on your own.

"I'm sorry, Mommy. I just wanted to say hi to the man in the mask. He's so nice, Mommy. And he can do magic."

"Sweetheart you know better than to talk to strangers," she scolded. Then she looked and the others, sighed, and smiled. Other than blinking and letting her eyes rest on it she didn't react to Erik's mask, although she did seem
tense around him.

"I hope she didn't bother you. She's such a talkative little girl, and she's been lonely since her father and I divorced."

"She's a delightful child," Erik assured her.

"Indeed," Nadir agreed with his friend. The daroga had also been impressed by the sweet natured little girl. "And although I know he might not seem that way at first, my friend is wonderful with children, so I'm sure he
enjoyed meeting her."

The woman looked at Nadir warmly.

"Do you have children?"

Nadir looked down, flinching and closing his eyes. Erik had a similar reaction.

"I did have," Nadir finally answered. "He had an illness –"

"Oh! Oh, I'm sorry," the woman said hurriedly. "I didn't mean –"

"It's quite all right. You had no way to know. Erik was very close to him as well" Nadir noticed how the woman had seemed a little unsettled by Erik, so he added "I'd have trusted Erik with his life."

Erik stepped back and closed his eyes. The woman took that moment to introduce herself though, and Lindsay let the woman, Hellen Nelson, know she was welcome to stop by her apartment anytime.

"Well, I'd better get Bonnie back home. She hasn't had her breakfast yet."

She shook their hands and then carried Bonnie home. The little girl waved at them over her mother's shoulder and called, "Bye bye Ewik."

"Ewik?" The former phantom couldn't help smiling. Little Bonnie was so cute.

As they left the building though, Erik couldn't help asking "Daroga when you said you'd have trusted me with Reza's life –"

"I meant it," Nadir told him. "You know that."

He looked his friend in the eye. "I told you when you left Persia there was nothing to forgive. The way I see it, his illness killed him. I know if you could have saved him you would have. All you did was spare him pain."

Erik seemed to step a bit lighter once he heard that. They bought the tickets first so they'd be sure to get seats (Lindsay had the money Erik had brought with him converted over some time ago, so Erik insisted on paying).

When Erik was handed the tickets he stared at them a moment before laughing and handing Lindsay and Nadir each their ticket. Lindsay saw where they were setting and groaned and laughed at the same time.

Of course. Where else could their seats be but box five?

The show wasn't for several hours, so they decided to go to Central Park. While walking through it they passed a stable. Lindsay had always loved horses and knew Erik did too. They were all up for a ride, so they went and talked to a stable manager.

Yet another echo of Erik's past was waiting there, a very good one. The stable manager gave Erik the reins of a beautiful white horse named Caesar.

Erik blinked when he learned the horse's name, but took to the horse right away.

When they were out of sight of the stable, Erik removed all the horse's tack before getting up on him. Lindsay remembered reading that Erik rode without a bridle, but actually seeing him do it made her gasp.

How did he get the horse to do what he wanted? But somehow he did, and Caesar acted like there could be no greater honor than carrying Erik.

In their time, of course, horses had been the only way to get around except for trains, so Nadir knew how to ride well enough too.

Lindsay had a bit more trouble, though. Although she loved horses, she hadn't ridden much and when Erik asked Caesar for a trot and Lindsay's horse matched the pace Lindsay lost her balance and took a spill.

"Are you all right?" Erik asked. He and Nadir were almost immediately standing over her.

"I'm fine. Nothing hurt but my pride." She got to her feet.

"A man my age probably shouldn't be riding at more than a walk anyway," Erik said.

"Erik you're not an old man or anything," Lindsay told him, getting back on her horse, although she was concerned about his heart. Actually Erik seemed to be feeling younger than he had in a long time, and they all thoroughly enjoyed the rest of their day in that park.

Well, for the most part.

At first Erik was jumpy and warily eyeing any strangers who might stare and mutter. Most people were preoccupied with their own business though, and Erik eventually relaxed somewhat.

Their enjoyment of the park was nothing compared to their enjoyment of the show, though. Especially Erik's. From the first note to the last it was clear he was thoroughly entranced. There was the air of a teacher grading a class about him, and Lindsay could well imagine he was mentally correcting every mistake made by the actors and musicians.

He didn't seem to find many though, perfectionist though he was. Even with the mask on his eyes showed his emotional involvement in it. They glistened during "I Dreamed a Dream," "A Little Fall of Rain," and the many tragic moments. His fingers drummed on the arms of his seat during "Do you Hear the People Sing?"

Many times his hands moved almost like he was playing along with the orchestra. Lindsay could guess he was committing the music to memory. (She would learn she was right. Later that night she heard him playing incredible amounts of the score through perfectly. The man's memory for music was phenomenal!)

Always his love of the performance was clear, and he was on the edge of his seat the whole time. There was one part where Erik's eyes looked absolutely furious, at Valjean's line, "Before you say another word, Javert- before you chain me up like a slave again…"

Lindsay had forgotten that part, but Erik had known the character's name since he'd read the book, had been prepared for it. Still, his hands were tightly clenched during the whole "Confrontation" scene, and at Valjean's line, "I am warning you Javert. There is nothing I won't dare. If I have to kill you here, I'll do what must be done,"

Eriks's eyes widened, then narrowed in remembered rage at the Javert hehad known. But the anger left his eyes, replaced by a warm look when Valjean rescued Cosette. He was clearly warmed by Valjean's compassion for the little girl.

When the performance was over, as an encore several actors who played Valjean in different countries came out and sang part of "Do you Hear the People Sing?" in their own languages followed by a reprise of "One Day More."

Lindsay wondered just how many languages Erik spoke. Italian, Russian, and Persian had been mentioned, and of course French and, thankfully, English. She guessed he also spoke Spanish and Hungarian since she'd herd those languages were the ones most commonly spoken by Gypsies, but she didn't know for sure.

Her thoughts were broken when the applause began. Erik was the first one out of his seat giving a standing ovation.

For the first time since she'd met him, Erik seemed perfectly happy when they left the theater. He had nothing but good things to say about the performance.

He even sang part of one of the songs. The beauty of that voice gave Lindsay goosebumps and sent a delightful shiver through her. There was none of the agony that had been in his voice the first time she'd heard him sing. It was pure beauty.

She could never hear his voice enough. If she had one wish besides seeing Erik happy, it would be to never stop hearing him. She had both her wishes for now, and she hoped the words he sang would be prophetic.

"Do you hear the people sing,
Lost in the valley of the night?
It is the music of a people,
Who are climbing to the light.
For the wretched of the Earth,
There is a flame that never dies.
Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise."

XxX
AN: The incident with Bonnie was inspired by an incident in "The Phantom's Redemption" by Anne B. Caluwaert. However, her name comes from the movie, Rigoletto, which has no connection to the Opera of that name. It is strangely like Phantom in that a deformed genius teaches a girl to sing, although their relationship is father/daughter, not lovers.