Hi everyone! Ah, at LAST I have the patience to write a phic comprising of chapters...woo hoo. This is a Christmas phic (months too early, I know...sorry!) and the story isn't much, please forgive me, my muses have been quite busy lately doing things other than giving me inspiration. Nevertheless, I have decided to write this...once again, thank you for the incredibly sweet reviews for my other stories! I LOVE you guys!!

Note: i realize that this first chapter is a cliffhanger; that was my intention. I really hope you like it! Enjoy!

Story: The Proposition

Chapter 1: The Proposition (yeah, I know, same name as the title...ah well...we have to work with this...)

Erik was having a dreadful day. Dreadful, even by Opera Ghost standards. He'd personally answered about fifty billion (or some number to that effect) phan letters, which, judging by his volatile personality, was a rare and exceptional show of patience. As a result, he was extremely tetchy afterwards. He discovered that his Legendary Lair was gathering too much dust, and in an attempt to sweep it all away (which by itself was exhausting; the lair is rather enormous), but discovered that the mat beneath which he was trying to sweep it turned out to be Ayesha. He tried to operate his stove (which was emitting strange, shrill squeaky noises for no apparent reason) and did not succeed. He ended up eating one of the musical compositions he did not care for as lunch instead of food since the stove refused to cooperate, and came to the incredible realization that pulp does not go down well at all.

To cap it all, it was nearing Christmas (Erik recalled this as he was retching his lunch). If there was anything that annoyed gothic anti-heroes, it was the frisky warmth of Christmas. Many people (namely Raoul who seemed to think that sending Erik large boughs of mistletoe could compensate for the damage of him claiming Christine; Erik felt rather alarmed instead, and thought against hanging these up for fear of having to kiss Nadir repeatedly, who was his only frequent caller. Erik also suspected Nadir would also be slightly alarmed at throes of extreme affection from a man who wasn't even kind to himself) enjoyed this holiday. Erik's one solace was the knowledge that few carolers knew his address. The ones that did come by though were some of the ballet rats who enjoyed pushing Erik over the edge by attempting to sing (nothing was more horrifying to a musical genius than people who insisted on singing but couldn't), and ran away shrieking with laughter whenever he came out brandishing his Punjab Lasso.

And there was the celebrity. And unfortunately for Erik, the Cardinal Sin of celebrity in his case was Punjabing a particularly rabid phan (though he wished on several occasions he could commit a minor infraction and put himself, and the subject of annoyance out of misery). But then with celebrity there came something even he could not fathom...

Erik was seriously contemplating hurling himself into a drunken stupor (he'd done this only once before when his good mate Sauron of Middle-Earth was over; they'd had a lovely time drinking Tequila and trying to get lucky. What they did get however, were a pair of fantastic hangovers. He never admitted this to anyone). When the doorbell rang he reluctantly abandoned his wineglass and opened the door.

"Hullo, Nadir," he said automatically.

"I've got something for you," said the Persian, holding two envelopes.

"Oh, dear God, no more phan mail, please," murmured the harassed Opera Ghost, rubbing his aching forehead.

"It isn't phan mail," said Nadir, "Can I come in?"

"Oh—yes—of course—"
They sat down in the living room, where Nadir pushed the envelopes towards him. Erik opened the first.

"An invitation to the Opera House Christmas Party," he said with a snort, "I have no idea why I've got one."
"The managers feel that they owe you," said Nadir.

"What?" Erik looked up. "They owe me?"
"You're bringing in unprecedented amounts of money for this Opera House, Erik," explained Nadir.

"So they invite me to this Christmas party?"

"Just bring a nice fruitcake. It'll be fun," said Nadir enthusiastically, "We'll have lovely games like pin the feather on the Fat Diva, and we'll go bobbing for apples..."

"And we'll go about demanding candy from complete strangers," supplied Erik dully.

Nadir raised an eyebrow.

"Erik, that would be Halloween."
"What? Oh. They're all the same to me. I never collected candy or bobbed for apples."

Nadir's cough sounded suspiciously like "loser".

Erik wore a very pained expression. For the first time, Nadir noticed.

"I'm sorry, Erik," he said kindly, "I didn't even notice how tired you look. What's wrong?"
"Oh Nadir," said Erik very emotionally, "This celebrity business is wearing me out, old boy."

Nadir looked at him oddly.

"Erik, I know just what you need!"
"You do?"
"What do I need, Nadir?" Erik propped himself on his elbows and stared at the Persian imploringly.

"A vacation."
A new light came into Erik's waxy face.

"Of course!" he cried. "That's just what I need!"
"A vacation, away, someplace nice."
"Where would I go, Nadir?" energy gushed back into the wilted Erik, who now sat up, erect, filled with new meaning.

"How about Greece?"
Erik nodded fiercely with approval.

"Ah, Greece! Or perhaps the south of France? That'll be lovely!"
"Absolutely! We could sail on the Mediterranean..."

Erik sighed audibly, thinking of all these heavenly apparitions.

"But how on earth could I do that? I haven't time...or tickets!"

"Well," said Nadir with a bit of a grin on his face, "I was waiting for you to ask me that."

Erik stopped in his exulting.

"What do you mean?" he asked suspiciously.

"That brings me to this next envelope." Nadir offered it to Erik who seized it and ripped it open.

"You'll have to do something," said Nadir.

Erik didn't like this. Erik didn't like this at all.

He looked down at the letter. He looked at Nadir, who was grinning openly now.

He scanned the lines quickly.

"You've got to be joking" he said quietly, as he re-read it. "I can't believe you'd do this to me, Nadir."

Nadir smiled.

"Celebrity comes with pains, Erik," he said winking. "You've got to grin and bear it. But think about what you will get if you comply!"

Erik said nothing.

"At least think about it," urged Nadir. "Imagine, the crystal-blue waters...the beautiful local girls..."

Andre and Firmin were playing poker when they were supposed to be sorting out Opera House revenue. They heard what sounded distinctly like a shrill scream from...were they imagining it, five cellars down?

"What was that?" wondered Andre, frowning.

"Andre, did you lock Carlotta in that closet again?" Firmin gave him a stern look, although his eyes twinkled.

"Only for a bit," said Andre evenly. "Besides, it's hell if she's on the loose. And I don't think that it came from her. It sounded like it came from far lower."

Firmin shrugged.

"Ah well. Let's pretend we didn't hear it."

"Good plan."
Andre started shuffling the cards.

A/N: I KNOW!! CLIFFHANGER!! Sorry! Well, anyhow, like it? Hate it? Shall I continue? You decide! If you've read this, thank you sooo much! ::hugs:: Pretty please review! (I do so love them!)