Disclaimer: Don't own POTO
A/N: Aw! Thanks for the warm welcome back, everyone! It was wonderful to hear from some familiar "faces." Hope you enjoy this next installment. Only a few more to go.
Erik sauntered down the dark corridors of the opera house cellars, softly whistling a little tune of his own creation. As of late the Phantom had acquired a new spring in his step and a fresh outlook on his future, all due to a certain redhead. He looked forward to returning to the lair for a pleasant supper with his fiancée and future cousin-in-law. I won't say that Erik expected it to be a quiet affair. Events involving Anna and Brooke rarely were, but he looked forward to it nonetheless.
In any case, he certainly had some interesting news for them. Apparently, Raoul had done his work properly and succeeded in bullying the managers into banishing Algernon Moncrieff from the premises. That was the good news. The interesting news was that Christine was beside herself with jealousy over the new understudy Ophelia, who had sung her gloriously perfect way into the hearts of everyone around her and won a chance to sing in Christine's place for one night while the diva was away. Erik was rather perturbed at this upstart of an understudy, but as long as she did the music justice he couldn't care less if they'd found her digging for garbage in the slums. From all that Anna and Brooke had taught him about Mary Sues, he recalled that they actually rarely needed any tutelage whatsoever and that music lessons between a Sue and a Phantom were merely the catalysts to steamy sex.
Erik reached the door to the lair in good time and not a moment too soon as his grumbling stomach reminded him. His appetite had improved greatly since meeting the cousins. Envisioning a delicious meal, Erik smiled beneath his mask as he stepped inside...only to be promptly assaulted…by the Vicomte de Chagny.
"Vicomte! What the bloody hell—"
"They've gone mad! And they insist on dragging us along!" Raoul shrieked, gripping Erik's lapels.
Erik removed his mask to smile condescendingly on Raoul's obvious inexperience in dealing with the rambunctious duo.
"Don't give me that smug smirk of yours, Erik. You're in for a worse time of it than I am."
Erik's ugly face fell. "What on earth are you talking about?"
"Look!" Raoul pointed behind him towards the inner rooms of the lair. The whole place was transformed. Where once soft, faded Victorian pink and elegant antique furniture had reigned supreme, a macabre Burtonesque extravaganza filled the room. Erik gaped in horror at the bizarre and grotesque decorations. Just then the kitchen door swung open and a dead bride waltzed out carrying a pot of boiling blood.
She sang: This is Halloween! This is Halloween!
Pumpkins scream in the dead of night.
Her skin was an eerie blue and although her deteriorating dress did wonders for her curves, the exposed bones and skeletal face were a little too much to handle. Suddenly she caught sight of the two men cowering in the doorway.
Her strange face lit up with a smile. "Happy Halloween!"
Erik's rigid body sagged in relief when he realized it was only Brooke and the pot of blood was only chili. "What the devil have you done to my home?" He hastily detached himself from the Vicomte's frantic grip.
"We're getting in the mood."
"For what, dare I ask?"
"Haunting! It's All Hallow's Eve, gentlemen."
"Of course. Oh for goodness sake, Vicomte, man up! She's your betrothed. EEEK!" Erik screamed in surprise when he spied the redheaded Franksteinian rag doll grinning up at him with a wide smile made of black thread.
"Well, this is a bit of a role-reversal, isn't it?" said the rag doll as she straightened her patchwork dress.
"What are you?"
"I'm Sally the Rag Doll! From Nightmare Before Christmas. I'm pretty sure we've forced you to watch that at least once."
Erik nodded. "Then what's Brooke supposed to be?"
"She's Emily the Corpse Bride and Raoul is supposed to Victor. Luckily, his wardrobe already fits the part. All Brooke had to do was restyle his hair."
For the first time that night Erik realized that Raoul's hair was unusually unkempt. He watched in amusement as the Vicomte tried to come to grips with the fact that his wife-to-be was a little off her rocker.
"Well?" Anna said.
"Well, what?" Erik glanced down at his fiancée with a quizzical look.
"Time for you to change into your costume."
All color drained from the Phantom's already pallid face. He managed a hoarse whisper, "What costume?"
Anna grinned her eerie, unnatural smile once more. "Follow me," she quipped as she led her poor husband-to-be off to the master bedroom.
Brooke bustled into the kitchen and returned with a vat of hot apple cider. An intoxicating aroma of cloves and cinnamon filled the air and Raoul began to relax. The corpse bride handed him a cup full of the spiced (and spiked) drink, watching with an amused look as he down it as fast as the hot liquid would allow. He helped himself to three more glasses. Needless to say, Raoul was feeling very relaxed and very uninhibited.
"My lord, you look delicious in that dress," he purred in Brooke's ear.
She giggled, "I'm supposed to be a decaying corpse, my dear. Nothing delicious about that."
Raoul blinked blearily at her strapless sweetheart neckline. It left little to the imagination. Not to mention the fact that nearly all of her left leg—blue though it was—had been exposed by a long gash in the skirt of her dress.
"I would beg to differ," he growled. Despite his tipsiness, the Vicomte had little trouble in pinning Brooke against the nearest wall and proving his point.
"If you laugh one more time, Vicomte, I will Punjab you," Erik hissed.
Raoul muffled a giggle with his hand. A hiccup escaped the intoxicated (and rumpled) nobleman. Glancing at Erik once more Raoul couldn't help snickering. From head to foot, Erik was decked out for Halloween as none other than Jack Skellington. Although Raoul was too drunk to appreciate the effect of the costume it did actually lend Erik an even more enigmatic air. Anna had done little to alter the Phantom's already-skeletal face. She had only bullied him into wearing the pumpkin king's signature suit.
Raoul belched. The sound reverberated around the opera house's auditorium. Erik sniffed disdainfully. They were standing in the wings of the stage watching the madness of Halloween unfold. There had been no performance that night, but the occupants of the Opera Populaire were wide-awake nonetheless.
Ballet rats and stagehands ran screaming through the corridors of building with the citizens of Halloween Town hard on their heels. Sally and the Corpse Bride commanded an army of grisly ghouls from their respective films, all compliments of the Poppins Bag. Banshees, werewolves, vampires, ghosts, and walking corpses flooded every hall and corner of the opera house, leaving no one at rest.
Anna whooped happily as she skipped through the backstage area. She soaked up every shriek that echoed around her. Giddy with excitement she sang loudly:
Boys and girls of every age,
Wouldn't you like to see something strange?
Come with us and you will see
This our town of Halloween!
This is Halloween! This is Halloween!
Pumpkins scream in the dead of night.
This is Halloween! Everybody make a scene!
She was engaged to marry the man she adored and she was the queen of macabre terror. Nothing could detach her from her euphoric happiness. Nothing! Nothing save…
…the sickening sight of her beloved Jack Skellington standing almost toe-to-toe with Ophelia the Mary Sue in the center of the stage.
Anna froze. She saw them from the side so the faces of both were plainly visible to her. Poor Erik looked absolutely befuddled, but the Sue…the Sue was trembling with thinly veiled desire as she gazed unabashedly into the face of her beloved Angel of Music.
"At last, my love, I have found you," she panted in an achingly beautiful voice.
"I've longed to find you. I must tell you," here she paused, demurely lowering her luminous violet eyes as a becoming blush bloomed in her cheeks, "I am with child."
Anna stiffened. Erik blinked. "Um…congratulations?"
Ophelia locked eyes with him once more. "Oh my poor, unhappy Erik, don't you realize—"
"I'm hardly unhappy, madam," Erik snapped, edging a little further away from the strange girl.
If possible, her face lit up even more, "Oh, I thought surely you would be devastated and think that the child would grow up as miserable as you, my love."
Erik blinked rapidly. "Why on earth would I think that?"
"Because you are the father!" Ophelia cried.
In the wings of the stage Anna nearly fainted. She found herself unexpectedly upheld by Raoul, who was holding himself up by clinging precariously to the curtain.
"Steady, old girl," he murmured, "Give him the benefit of the doubt."
Anna glanced back at the horrific scene in front of her. She was suddenly filled with pity for Erik. His face expressed absolute bewilderment. The spikes of his collar drooped ever so slightly.
"But," he stammered, "How could—I mean, we've never—I'm still a—what in the name of all physiological impossibilities are you on?"
Ophelia gazed at him with a look of tender compassion. Gently she cupped his baffled face in her dainty, delicate white hands. "Oh, Erik, the fire of our love knows no bounds." With that she raised herself up on tiptoe and brought their faces closer together. Erik's eyes widened in terror, but he never felt Ophelia's lips on his.
Maddened with rage, Anna came flying out onto the stage and tackled Ophelia to the ground.
"You wretched cow!" the redhead shrieked. "He's mine!"
A catfight of epic proportions ensued. Unfortunately for Anna her opponent, in addition to being practically perfect in appearance and vocal talents, just happened to be well trained in self-defense. Unfortunately for Ophelia her opponent was rather deranged and certainly pissed off, thus she felt no qualms about violating any and all rules of fair play. They were evenly matched.
The commotion caught the attention of the Corpse Bride who was stalking stagehands through the catwalks.
"Uh, oh…looks like we're going to need help."
A/N: Misty pulled the Gerry up from his beanbag. "Darling, we've got a crisis on our hands," she announced.
"It's the Sue, isn't it?" he replied with a hard gleam in his eyes.
Misty nodded grimly, "Yes, we're going to need reinforcements. Socks!"
Two patrol socks popped up out of nowhere, ready to do their Authoress's bidding.
She handed them a parchment note. "Pin this up in minion HQ."
The note read as follows:
All right, me hardies!
We've got a Sue to crush, grind into tiny pieces, and blast into oblivion. The first fifteen minions to volunteer for this mission will be included in the next chapter.
It may get ugly. So be prepared.
Your obedient servant,
Disclaimer: Don't own Nightmare Before Christmas or The Corpse Bride.