Christmas Party, Part II
As for Erik's first Christmas party, the Opera Ghost believed it could have gone worse.
After cornering the managers and sweeping off, Erik and Nadir (who was hiding mysteriously behind a pillar like the olden days which is why he was never seen in the musical version of Erik's life) shared a hearty snigger at the cock-eyed nincompoops who ran Erik's theatre. Well, not technically; technically, they rightfully owned about half. Erik still cringed when he thought of the paperwork Andrew Lloyd Webber had sent him back in the eighties. Ah well. It was nice to pretend.
After helping himself to the better half of the refreshments, Erik strategically placed his fruitcake in a discreet corner on the long table; somehow he did not feel that the char-broiled streaks on the cake's surface would be interpreted as the artistic convulsions of his dark nature.
Rather the artistic convulsions of his oven, which he still could not operate properly.
Erik had never been in the midst of so many people whilst simultaneously devoid of murderous/lustful thoughts. He did not have a victim, and therefore, he did not have a clue.
But he had seen enough James Bond movies to enable him a slightly elegant and sleek demeanor to blend into the crowd. Pity that demeanor was limited to smiling seductively and repeatedly checking his nails. A pretty young creature clad in sensual pink looked his way and winked; Erik smiled his most seductive and checked his nails with expertise that would send Pierce Brosnan home in tears. She glided towards Erik and Nadir, and in a moment, was inches from the former's face.
"How do you do?" she smiled beguilingly. "My, what fine hands you have! So slim…and elegant…" she slipped her own dainty one into Erik's.
Erik checked his nails.
"Is there a name that goes with those exquisite digits?" Her eyes could melt silver.
Erik smiled seductively. And then, for good measure, checked his nails.
"Yes, dearie, I'm asking you!"
Erik's smile remained frozen on his lips.
She smirked, but it didn't reach her eyes.
"I—I've just spied a lovely fruitcake," she said with a sigh, "I think I'll just be…"
Erik grinned helplessly as she paced away. Nadir ground his elbow into Erik's side.
"Idiot," growled the Persian, "You just let that walk away?" they both stared as the young lady's comely figure bent over the refreshment table and began sawing at Erik's contribution.
Erik whimpered. Nadir sighed and patted him on the back.
"You know," he said, "I do think James Bond does more than that."
"But Nadir," said Erik soulfully, "I haven't got enough pockets to store all those guns."
The gods of fortune smiled on Erik as Christine discovered the pair in the corner, and smilingly brought sunshine to their darkened corner.
"Erik, my dear!" she embraced him warmly. "Are you having a good time?"
Erik looked at the ceiling as Nadir explained the recent happenings. Christine laughed.
"Silly! You shouldn't have done that anyway!"
"Did you forget? Eponine is coming tonight!"
Well, at least, if the need aroused, he could claim that he was already "taken".
"Oh," he said.
"Nadir," said Christine, "I'm feeling like a raspberry tart. Would you be a dear and fetch me one?"
Christine smiled conspiratorially at Erik.
"I've got a present for you," she whispered into his ear, "But I haven't got one for Nadir…I didn't want him to feel badly. Put this away, will you?"
Erik could scarcely conceal his delight as she pressed a beautifully wrapped package into his hands. The very first present of his life.
"Christine," he said, voice trembling, "You…"
Christine silenced him by taking him into her arms briefly once more, and laying a small, chaste kiss on his mouth.
"If ever you need anything," she said, "You'll know where to come first."
She left Erik feeling like a million francs.
Hastily tearing the wrappings, two things fell onto his lap: A handsome, leather-bound notebook with heavy paper, already pre-lined for Erik to scrawl in compositions. He glanced at the other object, which turned out to be a can of Elmer's Premium Crazy Glue. Raising an eyebrow, he turned the can over and found a note in Christine's loopy handwriting:
Whenever Eponine decides to tear your mask off, you'll be ready. And if this doesn't work, spare her the "Stranger Than You Dreamt It" rant.
Erik was still snickering when Nadir returned, covered from head to toe in raspberries and buttery crust (he'd had a tussle with the fruit punch guard when he'd tried to slip in a bit of his own invention into the stuff).
"Where's Christine?" the Daroga held up the tart.
Erik grinned happily. "I love that girl. To death."
"Oh no," said Nadir, immediately alarmed. "It's a phase, Erik, it's a phase. You'll get over her—"
Erik chuckled. "Daroga, you really are hilarious. Not that way." And he went off to gather more food.
The party was going on later than anticipated; most of the food had been eaten. Erik was having a rather good time. Once you got Joseph Buquet away from sneaking around the parapets and flies, he had a bizarrely fun sense of humor. Erik apologized for his neck (carefully padded in a thick round cast), and Buquet said he didn't care. The party had truly luminous moments, of course, until Erik was cornered by Raoul. The vicomte was carrying a cheese croquet in either hand, and anxiously edged to where Erik and Nadir were standing.
"So," said Raoul, whose hair was tied in a tiny snip of scarlet ribbon.
"So," said Erik, who didn't have any hair at all. Well, nearly.
"I understand you are a musical person," said Raoul, keen on making small talk.
"Um," said Erik.
" You enjoy classical? I'm more of a rocker, myself," said the vicomte.
Off your rocker, thought Erik.
"No, I do have a band, you know. Me and the guys. But we're still in the stable phase. You know, haven't ventured out of the horse stable yet. Haha." Raoul laughed at his own strange joke.
"Haha," agreed Erik. Then, out of politeness, he asked: "What is your band called?"
"The Twitching Piranhas," said Raoul promptly. "Suave, isn't it?"
For Raoul's band, Erik couldn't imagine a better name.
Raoul pressed on. "Have you ever wanted a rock band?"
With me as the only member? Smart little fop. Actually, Erik had considered it. Maybe him and Nadir, someday. It was to be called Masks N' Roses.
"It's crossed my mind," he said.
"Do you need help and publicity? Because if you do, I've got contacts—" Raoul whipped out a notebook and immediately began taking notes.
"No, no, vicomte, it isn't that urgent. Thank you."
Mercifully, at that very moment, Eponine appeared swathed in a silk orange gown, and her dark brown curls demurely resting on her bare shoulders. She looked, in Erik's opinion, like a very beautiful tropical flower. He told her so.
"Erik you are such a tease," said Eponine with a giggle as she slipped her arm into the crook of his.
"Why?" he asked, bewildered. For Erik had never been one to flirt, and was not exactly sure how it worked. If you needed an opera with an almost orgasmic level of exquisite passion, Erik was your man. Flirtation, like women and associate bankers, just didn't make sense.
Cosette appeared shortly with Marius, dressed in foamy sea greens. It took Erik the better of five minutes to figure out why she wanted to resemble a weed. But she took Erik by extreme surprise when she handed him a package swathed with heavy ribbons.
"Thank you," he said at this unexpected token.
"You'll need that," she remarked dryly, "Open it, and you'll see what I mean."
Erik ripped it open to find a pristine copy of "Fashion For Dummies." Cosette winked.
By now, Nadir had tracked down Christine and presented her with the raspberry tart. The pair wandered over to the group originating from Erik, and the chattering immediately escalated. Erik wondered if this was a good time to give out his gifts.
For Christine, he had purchased a pair of lacy white gloves that the lady at the store assured him were all the rage. "Christine?" he whispered shyly, pressing them into her hands. Overcome with affection for her socially inept darling, the young woman flung her arms around him for a third time that evening and promised that she would wear them at every possible moment ("how about now?" asked Erik. "We're indoors," said Christine. "Emmy Rossum wore them in the movie," said Erik. "I'm not Emmy Rossum," said Christine. "But what about the Matrix? They wore sunglasses indoors, didn't they?" demanded Erik. Prolonged pause. "What does that have to do with anything?" asked Christine. "Oh all right, if it makes you feel better".).
For Eponine, Erik magically produced red roses (tied together with a, heh heh, nice ebony ribbon) so large, that each was roughly the size of his own head. She gave a shriek of delight and immediately smothered him in kisses, giving him not only a burning blush, but a nice, tingly sensation as well.
Julio had also wandered over with a remarkably massive young woman on his arm. Erik handed him his present, which turned out to be—earplugs.
"Meester Ereek?" questioned Julio.
"You live with Carlotta," said Erik, "Consider them your salvation."
For Nadir, Erik had selected a particularly mocking token.
"I am not wearing THIS," roared the Persian, holding up the "The Phantom is a Sex God" T-Shirt that Erik had just handed him.
"Why, Daroga, afraid to admit it?"
Nadir stared at him. "And I suppose that's how you want me to view you as…?"
"Eh, I guess it's a little wrong. But you can always wear it inside-out."
"This is true."
But the strangest, most terrifying of the evening was yet to come. For, at approximately half-past eleven, there was a thunderous, earth-shattering thump as the doors sailed open to regale the fabulous La Carlotta, in all her glory, clad to the hilt with expensive turquoise silks and looking, as she might have said it, magneefeecent.
She looked around beadily, and almost at once, thunderous applause erupted.
La Carlotta glided, like an enormous float, to Erik's crowd. Then, to everyone's enormous surprise, she grabbed the unaware Erik by the scrawny arm, dipped his head backwards, and gave him a searing kiss on the mouth.
It was a very long kiss. Raoul stood timing it, and it went on about five minutes. When Carlotta finally released him, Erik saw tiny ballerinas dancing in circles around his head. The uncovered portion of his face had assumed the color and texture of a beet. Wiping his mouth, Erik thought about what had just happened. Was La Carlotta secretly lusting for him all these years? Was he missing something, beneath the layers of rudeness? And above all, why was it that she wasn't a terribly bad kisser?
Erik turned to face the diva, and the whole hall had gone dead silent.
"Madame?" he muttered hoarsely, turning away from Eponine, who looked both surprised and hurt.
"What?" she said indifferently.
"Oh, 'oo SEELY BOY!" roared the lady suddenly. "LOOK!" she stabbed a jeweled finger to the sky.
Everybody looked up to face the great chandelier.
A/N: my lovely reviewers! What did you think? Are you pleased with it? It's been a pleasure writing for you…I'll do it again if you want me to! THANKS FOR ALL YOUR SUPPORT!