Chapter Two: The Trial

(A/N: Think Raoul fans don't exist? You must be residing in the land of Denial. Yep, we're here, get over it. You can bash Raoul, just expect to answer to us. And…I sincerely hope no actual court of law conducts itself like this one does. Otherwise, we're in a lot of trouble.)

"Order!" the judge called wearily, not even bothering to bang her gavel anymore. After years of sentencing perfectly innocent characters to a lifetime of misrepresentations, this was hardly anything new.

Cosette Pontmercy was promptly led from the courtroom, to be forever written in fan fiction as an airhead or cold-hearted bitch queen in favor of poor, unfortunate Eponine. Marius, meanwhile, was already planning the appeal. (Which is just one benefit of having a lawyer for a husband.)

"Next case?" the judge asked.

A girl in a black t-shirt bearing the Phantom of the Opera logo stood up. "The Erik Phans vs. Raoul de Chagny."

"Just one problem, Counselor. The defendant isn't here."

"That never made a difference before," The Counselor Phan pointed out.

"True. Well, anyway—" the Judge stopped short. "What's that noise?"

"Sounds like a—"

She was interrupted by the sound of a car outside, and a moment later, a huge, wildly painted psychadelic bus burst through the doors. The letters "R.A.O.U.L" were emblazoned in gold letters on both sides.

When the debris cleared, the door to the bus slid open, and several young women stepped out of it. One of them turned on her boombox, and music began to play.

Then the singing began.

"We like, we like de Chagny

We like, we like de Chagny

We like, we like de Chagny

We like, we like de Chagny

The Raoul fans are comin'

So you better start a-runnin'

We won't ever stop, no!

Ready, set and let's go!

Hey, now, hey now

Listen to our song now!

Tolerance is just around the corner!

Hey now, hey now

Hear what we say now!
We live to defend Raoul!"

"Who the hell are you?" the Counselor Erik Phan demanded, putting her hands on her hips.

Meg stepped in front of her comrades, and struck a dramatic pose. "We are the Rabid Admirers of Underrated Lovers!"

"Come again?"

"The Society of R.A.O.U.L," Meg said patiently, with the air of one who has explained something innumerable times. "We're Raoul fans, in case you didn't get the gist of our song."

"I got it," the Counselor said defensively. "What do you want?"

"What else?" Marzoog demanded. "To defend Raoul, of course! If you're going to put him on trial, it ought to at least be a fair one."

"Really?" the Counselor asked, surprised. "What, you mean…actually give Raoul fans a chance to make themselves heard, in a fair and balanced setting?"

"That's the plan," Kim said.

"What the heck. I could use a good laugh," the Judge said wearily. She banged her gavel. "Let the trial begin!"

Raoul and his Admirers took their seats, and the Erik Phans did the same.

The judge took a drink from her water glass, then gestured for the Counselor Erik Phan to begin. "Counselor Erik Phan, you may approach the bench."

The Counselor did so. "Your honor, for too long the fop has been—"

"OBJECTION!" Meg thundered, so loudly that dust shook from the ceiling. Estella, who had been sitting right next to her, did not look as though she appreciated it.

"You can't object yet, we're still doing the opening statements," the judge explained patiently.

"Oh." Meg sank back into her chair, deflated. Raoul patted her on the shoulder reassuringly.

"Proceed, Counselor," Lexie said, with a sidelong glance at the Counselor Phan. "But, um, try not to use the 'f' word too much. Meg tends to explode when people say it."

The Counselor rolled her eyes. "Oh, fine. Anyway, the prosecution moves to dismiss Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny forever as a cardboard cut-out love interest, who should serve a sentence of character abuse in every Phan fiction and Phan Literature novel ever written, never to be given character development or, y'know, human qualities of any kind."

The judge turned to the defense. "And what have you to say?" she asked.

Jen stood up. "We say that the moral of the story, tolerance and acceptance, should be applied to all the characters, including Raoul de Chagny. We say that he's a good guy who was in over his head, and did the best he could with the knowledge he had. And as such, he should be written in a way that a) acknowledges that he HAS a character, and b) attempts to develop said character."

The jury gasped in shock. Meg buried her face in her hands, muttering obscenities under her breath.

"Thank you, Counselor…um, Rabid Admirer," the judge replied. "Now, would the prosecution care to support its position?"

The Counselor Erik Phan stood up. "Raoul de Chagny is nothing more than a dumb fop. In the Leroux novel, it says that he has girly skin, and he's a real wuss—he faints in the graveyard, for heaven's sake! He should have just left Erik and Christine alone."

"And do you have a rebuttal to that, Rabid Admirers?" The judge asked.

"HIT IT!" Meg roared.

Instantly, eighties-style synthesizer music filled the air, as the Admirers lept up from their chairs, and broke into Paula Abdul-esque dance moves.

"I read, two more pages
Then I go two pages back

But I just don't see it

Your theories are cracked!

And you know—though it's fiction

He did it for love, and that's a fact

He couldn't just sit there

That would have been whack!"

The Counselor Erik Phan stared in disbelief. "Okay, that was did the music just...and the costumes..."

Katey sighed. "It's kind of our trademark. Just trust me, you don't want to know."

"Can we get back to the discussion?" Kim demanded.

Estella stepped forward. "To answer the prosecution in less melodic terms, we would like to point out that, if you actually read Leroux, Raoul does not give a crap about his appearance. When he's worried about Christine, the book describes him as pale and tired. As to the fainting thing, well, what would you have done if faced with a living skull? Presented your card?"

Meg stood up. "And why do so many fangirls assume that life with Erik would be all bunnies and songs, while life with Raoul would be hell on earth? It makes no logical sense!"

"Burn, you heretic Raoul-supporting witch!" cried one of the jurors.

The leader of the Admirers turned to her comrades. "I think they're seeing it our way," she said dryly.

"Yeah, way to make your point," Elyse said with a grin, crossing her arms over her chest.

The judge sighed. "Does the prosection have anything else to say?"

The Counselor Phan nodded vigorously. "We would also like to add that Erik is all sad, deformed and lonely. If he'd had Christine, she would have transformed him, and he would have lived. Raoul is a jerk, he tried to shoot Erik in the back!"

For his part, Raoul look shocked. "I would never do something so dishonorable! Who wrote that nonsense?"

"Quiet, fop boy!" the Counselor Erik Phan yelled.

The judge raised her eyebrows. "Does the defense have a rebuttal?"

"Yes, your honor," L'Ange de Folie said, standing up. "READ LEROUX! Raoul would never have tried to shoot Erik in the back. Susan Kay's characterizations were off by a long shot, pun fully intended."

"Even in Leroux," Requiem du Fantome pointed out, "When Raoul did try to shoot at whoever was in his room—and we have yet to prove if it was even Erik, or some cat with really bad timing. If was Erik…well, what do you think he was doing there to begin with? Giving Raoul a foot rub? It may not have been the wisest thing to do, but it was done in self-defense. Plus, Erik or the cat was facing him at the time."

"So there!" Kim yelled, sticking out her tongue.

"Easy, tiger," Jenny said, patting Kim's shoulder.

The Judge glanced at the Counselor Phan, who did not look happy at this use of logic and reason in the face of blind fangirliness.

"Does the prosecution rest?" The Judge asked.

"No, we do not!" The Counselor Phan shot back. "We'll rest when Raoul de Chagny meets with the firing squad!"

Meg looked as though she wanted to vault over the table and lecture the Counselor Phan until her ears bled, but Estella held her back.

"Oh yeah," Meg said, taking a deep breath. "I forgot. We walk a different path."

Requiem nodded enthusiastically, and pressed the 'PLAY' button on the boom box. A rap song began to play, as the Admirers broke into yet another snazzy choreographed dance sequence, complete with a laser light show. (The bake sale having been highly successful.)

"We love Raoul, and we will not buy

Into these silly Phan-Lit lies!

Built on nothing more than an Erik bias

If you'd like to argue, go ahead and try us!

Say the word 'fop' and we'll be there

In an old courtroom or an underground lair!

Deep under the Paris Opera

If you bash him, ya better watch out!

Bashing has no sense and reason

It's like canonical treason!!

All we want is for Raoul to be free

Tolerance and understanding is the key!"

The Judge pounded her gavel once more. "Enough, ladies. That was, um...spirited. Now, I am adjouring the court for a brief recess. Court will reconvene whenever the author feels like updating."

"Just in time," Elyse gasped, reaching for her water bottle. "I think we could all use a break, huh?"

The other Admirers nodded enthusiastically. The Counselor Erik Phan was examining the place where the laser lights had been, trying to figure out exactly how they worked, and who had been working them.

(A/N: Okay, songs parodied: "We Like to Party" by the Vengaboys, Paula Abdul's "Opposites Attract" and "Baby Got Back" by Sir Mix-a-Lot. If the arguments given by the Erik Phans against Raoul seem weak, it's because I think that most of the reasons that Phans give for hating Raoul are pretty weak. Yes, I do realize that there are Raoul haters who actually have read Leroux…that will be addressed in the next chapter, most likely. I make no apologies for my views, though I hope no one has been grievously offended. Thanks again to the Admirers, and just a reminder--write stuff for Project Vicomte! Ok, I'm done now.)