Wow, chapter two already. I didn't know this thing would go over so well! I tried to avoid making it just another silly humor phic and give it some real heart underneath all the madness. My biggest relief is that the Christine/Raoul breakup flashback went over OK. It wasn't intended as simple act of Raoul mutilation at all. In fact, isn't he more likable now that he's as crazy and desperate as the rest of the bunch? And he still wants Christine BAD. However, in this chapter, both he and Erik are in for a surprise when Christine succumbs to the dangers of hero worship- but why am I telling you this? It's just a couple lines away! Read for yourself!

Daroga's Rainy Daae: The "people cars" are from Starlight Express, one of ALW's weirder attempts. (Like, weirder than Cats.) The show is about a bunch of trains and train cars gearing up for a big race. The leading contenders are Greaseball the Diesel engine and Electra the electric train (who is in fact male. Go figure.), but an overly earnest and lovesick young steam train named Rusty wants to compete and prove "Nobody can do it like a steam train" (boy, does THAT sound wrong) so he can win the heart of Pearl, the beautiful and fickle observation car. Add Greaseball's obsessive Southern sweetheart Dinah the dining car, CB the shifty caboose, 3D-movie race sequences, and a mysterious force known as the Starlight Express, and you've got an 80's-pop roller derby musical that makes Thomas the Tank Engine look like . . . well, Thomas the Tank Engine.

(Okay, Lord Andy, how's that for great ad copy? NOW WHERE'S MY FRIGGIN CHECK?)


"We don't want doughnuts, we want answers!" someone shouted.

"What are we going to eat when we run out of doughnuts, cold cuts, and veggies?" another person demanded.

"Well, that's my next topic," said Erik. "From now on, we will have to maintain an 'eating list'."

There was a lot of muttering and exchanging of thoughts in the audience.

"The eating list will help us from completely descending into barbarism," he continued. "See, if we do have to descend into cannibalism, then we should at least be orderly about it. We'll keep a running record of the person we'd miss the least if they were to be . . . eaten."

This didn't go over well, except for with a plump little woman with her hair in two knobs sitting in the Les Miz section. Next to her was a sour-faced man who had the general air of having aged too fast due to hardship and not being at all pleased with his current situation. The woman kept nudging the man and nodding excitedly. The man simply pressed his thin lips together and nodded.

"I'm going to the lair to get some supplies," Erik told Christine.

"Be careful," Christine replied. Erik nodded. As he headed off, she turned toward the others with an uncertain smile.

"Who wants to sing something?" she suggested.

Cosette began bouncing in her seat and waving her arm in the air the way she always did when she had an idea.

"Ooh! Ooh! I know! I know!"

"Cosette?"

Cosette frowned. "That's odd. I just had it."

Christine sighed. It was going to be a long end of the world. She wandered back to her dressing room and collapsed on her fainting couch from worry and fear. She thought over the whole blasted situation and shook her head wearily. Here she was, with the end of her young life close at hand, forced to maintain a group of people she barely knew, and on top of it all poor Raoul was still hanging around her, hoping she would change her mind. He really was a sad case, so young, so lost, and oh, so-

"Beautiful!" a man in the doorway finished for her. He had a booming baritone even deeper than Erik's, and a rather angry sort of sadness to it.

Christine turned in a whirl of flying ringlets. "Hey! What are you doing here?"

"I came here to thank you." It was the thin-lipped, sour-faced man from earlier, who had been sitting in the Les Miz section. He gave Christine a rather strange smile.

"What, for probably killing you?"

"No, for not making a fuss about our presence here."

Christine shrugged. "You're our guest, however much of a mixed blessing that might be."

"Guest?" the man repeated curiously, the way Frankenstein's monster asked if the Bride was "Friend?"

"Yeah. So, are you one of the rebels?" asked Christine.

"Rebel? Er- Yes. That's precisely what I am. Fighting for liberté, egalité, and fraternité, that's what I do!" He laughed nervously. "So, what's this about an 'eating list'?"

"Idea of Erik's. He has them sometimes, you know. Can't be helped." She smiled prettily, her little pearl teeth gleaming from between full rosy lips. "I doubt it'll come to that, but, well- Even anarchy should have structure, right?"

The man frowned. "That's not anarchy, then."

"Whatever. Sir, I'm very sorry, but I need some time to think. If you could please go out with the others-"

"Yes," he said darkly, and moved away, glaring, as Christine headed toward the cellars. As soon as she was far enough away where she couldn't see him, his expression softened.

"Christine Daaé," he said aloud. "Pure, beautiful creature . . ." He smiled. "Such a good girl."

The stowaway could feel his hard heart melting as it hadn't melted in years . . .

Christine was lost.

"I find it a little odd," she said aloud, "that I lose my way in such perilous circumstances, when on an ordinary day I know I would be quite all right. But, since I have a feeling this might perhaps forward the story, it's probably best to keep going forward into unknown territory. I'm the female lead, after all, and they rarely die in poorly constructed action movies, no matter how stupid their actions might be. And I am already experienced in being a fickle romantic interest."

She paused. "They do end up naked quite a bit, though. Am I prepared for that?"

A grin split into her face. "I'll give it a shot."

The young woman continued down the hall. The dim lighting was hardly constructive to comforting thoughts. Neither was the odd whistling sound that was now pervading the cellar corridor. Christine shivered and tried her best to disregard it, but it gradually grew louder and a slight wind began tugging at her dress and hair.

"That's it," she deadpanned. "Convention aside, I'm running."

She dropped her lantern, gathered her skirts up, and bolted down the nearly dark passage. The whistling and the wind grew louder. It reminded Christine a bit of a song. She smiled.

"Whistle down the wind-"

She shook her head. "I'll let the interludes wait."

She darted down the hall again, but running was difficult with about fifteen pounds of skirt hitched up at knee height. While the sound grew louder, her steps grew faster, and she was tripped by a small rock.

"Oh, dammit," said Christine when she saw the cause of the trouble.

It was a tornado.

She screamed and tried to run faster than it, but the whirlwind kept good speed. Just as she was about to give up, a bulky cloaked form dragged her out of the way.

"Thank you, Erik!" she whispered. She tried to bury her face into his chest, but found that said chest was too wide and muscular to be Erik's. Christine took a step backward and realized her rescuer was a man she'd admired for years. A man she'd read every word about.

"You're-"

"I am Batman," said Christine's rescuer.

Christine squealed. "Oh, sir, it's a true honor to meet you! You've always been my favorite superhero, you know-"

"I'm not here to sign autographs." Batman said, protectively putting an arm around Christine's slender shoulders. "Now how did you get here?"

"I walked," said Christine. "But how did you get here? Is the Batmobile in this cellar? Is-"

"I'm on my own." the Dark Knight replied. "Two-Face has a stranglehold on this building, but he's not going down without a fight."

Christine bit her lip and smiled sheepishly.

"What?" asked Batman.

"You're probably thinking of my boyfriend Erik," she explained. "He's a disfigured madman too, except you know how Two-Face has good spasms? Erik has bad spasms. And Erik was born ugly. No acid for him, unless you believe that 1943 movie-"

"Enough!" said Batman. "So he isn't here?"

Christine shook her head.

"Dammit," said Batman. "Then I have to get going."

Christine sighed. "I'm afraid that's kind of impossible," she admitted. "Joseph Buquet's rampant overuse of toilet paper has triggered some highly unusual weather here, and we're all kind of iced in. Sorry."

"But then who can guard Gotham against evil?" the Caped Crusader demanded.

"I'd say Nightwing, Robin, Oracle, Huntress, Azrael, and Spoiler can handle it for a few days." There was no way that Christine was letting her hero know the Opera had become a death trap. "And if you're lucky, Catwoman won't be on one of her burglary days and'll be more inclined toward vigilantism."

Her hero studied her suspiciously. "How do you know all that?"

"Bruce," she sighed, "I know everything about you!"

Batman stumbled back rather ungracefully. "What did you just call me?"

"Bru- Oh, yes. The whole alter-ego thing. Sorry."

Batman glared at her. "Who are you working for?"

"I'm a singer. I work for me." Christine explained. "But I feel a lot more confident having you on our team now. Would you like to meet Erik? I've told him a lot about you."

Much as Batman knew appearances could be deceiving, he couldn't help but trust Christine. A lot of that came from the fact that no self- respecting beautiful young villainess would dare dress so modestly, even if it were off the job.

"What's your name?" Batman asked the lovely young girl.

"Christine Daaé," said Christine. "Now can I test one thing before we go?"

She moved her hands gently over his massively muscled chest and then sighed with relief.

"What?" asked Batman.

"No Bat-nipples™," said Christine. "Those movies had me a little worried."

"Erik! Erik, there's someone I want you to meet!"

Batman was trying very hard not to think about the fact he was in an underground lair, with a pretty girl staring at him and quietly laughing every few seconds. He was certain he'd played right into a trap.

"He's probably in his lab," said Christine. "Follow me!"

Great. An underground lair with a lab. Was this how it all was to end? Dragged down by a pair of big emerald eyes and a sweet voice?

Christine pushed open the door. "Erik! Look who decided to come by!"

Erik groaned when he looked up. He had removed his mask and false hair for better comfort while working on his plans for escape, and, consequently, his disfigurement was laid plain for Christine and Batman to see.

"Don't worry, man, I've seen worse," said Batman.

Erik lifted a hand to cover his face. "I doubt that."

"Erik, this is Batman. Batman, this is Erik," said Christine. "Erik, you can put your hand down."

Erik slowly lowered his arm and stared at Christine's hero. "So. You're the one Christine's so fond of?"

"Apparently," Batman replied.

"You two should get along fine," said Christine. "You've got a lot in common, you know. Childhood tragedy, alter egos, world travelers, the whole penchant for black clothing . . ."

Both the Guardian of Gotham and the Angel of Music were staring at her in a way that had a distinct air of "shut yer big yap-hole" about it. Erik slowly turned to look at the new guest.

"You're rather muscular," said Erik, for lack of anything better to say. "Eight-Minute Abs?"

"Try crime fighting," Batman corrected.

"I see the Bat-nipples™ were only a vicious Hollywood myth," Erik added.

Batman stared.

"I'll get us some coffee," said Christine.

"Make mine decaf," said Batman.

Raoul felt a little tap on his shoulder in the line for cold cuts. He turned around and saw that dirty girl from earlier, Eponine or whatever her name was.

"We meet again!" Eponine grinned. "Funny when stuff works out like that, innit?"

Raoul nodded helplessly. The last thing he needed was another screwy girl messing with his life. Christine's little intervention had only made things worse. The surgery that fixed the attack of the waffle iron had also straightened his nose, and somebody decided he'd look better with a different cleft in his chin. Not only that, but all of the hair that fell out had grown back in at one even length, which had conspired with what had remained to create what Madame Giry in a moment of weakness had called "a cute Brad Pitt bob". He couldn't win! He'd even put his picture in one of those virtual makeover things to see if shaving his head would do any good, but the girl running it thought it made him look like Vin Diesel. Raoul had even tried a period of crossdressing, only to discover that Rocky Horror fangirls thought he was button-cute.

"Yeah, funny," he muttered.

Eponine winked coquettishly. "Y'know, I've always had a thing for pretty rich boys."

Raoul felt his heart lighten. Could this girl really be good-hearted enough to love him in spite of how he looked?

"You- you do?"

Eponine nodded, smiling.

Raoul was about to ask her out when he remembered what he looked like. Even though she wasn't exactly Miss America right now, he could tell that Eponine had the potential to be quite pretty after a few baths and proper meals. Why burden her with his awful face?

"Well, Prince William is pretty and rich. I'm sure he'd be enchanted."

Eponine watched sadly as Raoul strode away. She sighed and shook her head. The poor guy really was delusional, even if he was pretty cute.

"Ah, l'amour," Jean Valjean sighed. Unfortunately, this was a reaction to the news that a lot of the Jellicle Cats had decided if they were all going to die soon, there was going to be a lot of serious mating in the meantime.

"So, who did you think I was?" asked Erik.

"Two-Face." Batman replied. "One of my numerous archenemies. He's kind of got the whole"- he covered one side of his face with his hand- "thing going on as well."

"Ah." Erik nodded. "I always wondered if there was another one."

"Oh, well, he doesn't look like you," said Christine. "Wrong side of his face, first of all. Here- look..."

She showed him a picture in one of her numerous Batman books.

"Good Lord," said Erik.

"I know," Batman added sadly. "And he was once such a good man."

"If he was hit by acid, how come it's so neat down the center of his face?" Erik asked, studying the book a little closer. "Acid splashes, you know. I work with it in my laboratory all the time."

"Well, that's because-"

"I'm pretty sure he had his face metal-plated in the animated series, dear," said Christine, trying to prevent a fight.

"Which, unfortunately, starts a whole new set of problems."

"And what is going on with his hair?" Erik continued. "An acid severe enough to damage the skin to such extent would undoubtedly destroy hair follicles, not just turn the hair white! He shouldn't have any hair on the damaged side at all!"

"Well, he didn't in the movie-"

"For Christ's sake, Christine, our friend here had a suit with nipples in the movie!"

"What is your obsession with Bat-nipples™?" Batman shouted. "Everywhere I go, it's Bat-nipples™ this, Bat-nipples™ that! Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!"

"Your Bat-nipples™ are named MARCIA?" Christine gasped.

Batman groaned loudly while Erik continued his opposition of Two- Face.

"And finally, if he's on the Public Enemies list, who makes all these neatly colorsplit suits? Wouldn't any law-abiding tailor turn him in?"

"Maybe he can sew?" Christine suggested.

"Not all tailors are law-abiding, Erik." Batman added.

"I'm still sticking to my case."

They all sat there, fuming and eating coffeecake.

"Don't we have an opera to save?" said Batman.

"He'd be blind in that eye, too." Erik muttered.

"Would you stop it? Keep in mind you're sitting opposite a guy dressed like a spandex bat."

"Look!" said Christine. "We can store doughnuts on the points of Batman's cowl."

And that's Chapter Two. Tune in next time, same Bat time, and same Bat place. (Hee-hee, that actually makes sense for this chapter!)