Oopsies! I forgot the disclaimer on chapter 12... along with a bunch of other things... I'm getting really lazy! Don't sue me!
A lot of people were wondering about the inevitable fight over Christine. Don't worry! It will happen soon, people! And by soon, I mean either in the next chapter or the one immediately after it!
Well, I hope you all enjoy this chappie and the plot twisting it does! Yes, I'm too lazy to write any more of an author's note, so deal. Meh!
Guess what? There is more author's note! This chapter has been EDITED! (Oooohh! Aahhhh!) I fixed the little mistake that Misty was kind enough to point out, and made Erik quite a bit nastier to his "poker buddies".
Disclaimer: I don't own it, okay!
Marianne Brandon: Ooh... cold shower... that sounds nice. Yeah, I know the kiss was a bit rushed. I'm kicking myself for it now, but If I hadn't gotten it in there (and my mind drew a blank as to how they were going to ease into it), it would have had to wait for another few chapters, and I do want to get this fanfic finished relatively soon... as I have another one that's dying to get out and onto the site.
Sandra: Yay! Huzza for "working"! That's how I get almost all of my chapters written during the school year! Perhaps you can have Phantom when the fic is over... for now, I need him for a bit of comic relief later on... But eventually, he's all yours, my friend!
MJ-Skywalker: Alas! Peace with our squirrely friends! I don't know what I did to deserve the torture of camping, but it must have been pretty friggin bad! Eight days of pain...Tango? I'm pretty sure the tango was after Erik's time, but he knows how to waltz, so he should learn quickly (by the way, I smack you for figuring out later events! Bad! Carmen does teach him to tango later on!) A sequel? I don't think so, but they may very well end up in Erik's time... I haven't decided yet. If you want more of my stuff, though, I should tell you that after this, I plan on writing a more serious romance (still E/OC)... Ok, I really need to get on to other folk now... or this chappie will never be finished.
phicaddictdpiratephantomprsnya: You have an extremely long name, you know that? Thank you so much, so glad to hear you luv it! Savvy... awesome word, by the way! Gotta love Jack Sparrow-isms!
des ires: Huzzah for stubbornness! I'm quite the little mule at times, too! Yes, he is going to a doctor eventually, but I've been really slow about getting to that part... Well, to be truthful, it might end up on the cutting room floor, so to speak, in interest of not packing far too many events into the space of a month. Either way, it would be blasphemy (I think) to fix Erik's face... he'd lose his Erik-ness. As for Erik getting to keep Phantom, I dunno. He probably won't, for reasons currently known only to myself (ya'll get to find out at the end), but it's still a maybe... albeit a rather bleak one.
phantomofthemusical: No, I don't have any rats. Most of my friends do, though. I wanted one after my hedgehog died, but my parents said no... stupid parents! I agree! Writer's block deserves to be chucked in Erik's torture chamber!
raoulisafop: Merci! Merci! Thank Nota Lone for the foppy mouse bit, though. It was her brilliant idea! Not mine! (Hides from the vicious attack lawyers)
Diana-Lupin: Jessness? I'm confused... Wait! No! You aren't allowed to die! I shall recessitate you! Oh wait... I forgot how to do CPR! Bugger!
potostfbeyeluvr: Glad to hear it!
DarkestDesire88: I'll keep my eyes peeled! I've never lost a story before... Can't you just look on your profile under "stories authored" ?
lost my sanity: Aww.. I'm sorry. I hope the brats don't run you completely ragged! Your review made me laugh! Gold stars for you!
horsegal: Maybe she will eventually, when Erik isn't quite so tender about the whole Christine thing, though... so not for a really long time...
Solecito: Yay! Erik's back! And I haven't been sick in like, two weeks! I should throw a party! Yeah, the Kay novel has that effect on people... Don't you just love it to death? If you want Phantom, you have to wait until the fic is over ( i still need him...) And you have to share him with Sandra, okay?
Affirmed Hope: Oh no! You can't pass out! Haha! I shall wave smellingsalts at you! Avast! I've actually been calling Erik "phantom-buddy" amongst my friends for quite some time now... and I just decided to use it in the fic.
Music Angel no. 24601: Hang science! I want the pudding! I love pudding! Wha? Enjorlas? I'm confused... Oh well, that's nothing new.
Orlandoroxmysox: Here it is! Okay, no tapping the nails! Good! Right, defiantly not the best way to pass time... -twitch- I can't stand that sound...
WhitePrincess1: Gotta love the ratties! Okay, so here it goes, actually, you've got pretty much everything right, except that a few weeks don't go by. They kiss the evening after Carmen tells Erik the first time... got it now? Or did I just confuse you more?
gorbash: I'm glad you thought it was worth the wait... I still shouldn't have taken that long though... Thankfully, this chapter got up much, much quicker:-D
Disgusted: A mary-sue? You think so? Perhaps I should explain a few things. First off, it wasn't my original intent for Carmen to be any prettier than your average person, but if making her pretty would speed up a romance, then in the interest of time, it had to be done. She isn't beautiful, and if I've ever said that she was, I seriously need to go back and edit, because I never meant for her to be like that. As for being rescued by Erik, Carmen's only really gotten herself into one sticky situation, and yes, Erik did rescue her that once... well, I guess you could count the semi truck thing in chapter two as well, but Erik didn't really rescue her. However, Carmen has rescued Erik from various problems quite a few times, so I don't really think she fits the description of 'damsel in distress'. And yes, she has a voice to rival Christine's, but remember, she's a vocal music major, so she's got to be a good singer. Unlike most mary-sues I've seen, Carmen has an annoying tendency to be rather bossy and headstrong, and not to mention arrogant. You'll see a lot more of her bad side in later chapters, so I really do hope you'll continue to read. Maybe you'll change your mind about Carmen. And just to clarify real quick, Carmen is not based entirely off of myself (if she were, Erik would probably despise her). The only elements of myself that are actually a part of her anymore are bad characteristics.
BONANZA: Don't worry! No Erik ice cream! ... Although maybe he would make good ice cream. He definitely yummy enough! But I won't let Erik go soft (see this chapter). I just stole a smidgen of Erik's animal-loving character from the Kay novel, is all. Like I said in the author's notes, the Christine-battle is coming up soon (along with quite a lot of Erik being quite scary, actually... not melty at all).
Olivia N. :You make me happy!I'm so glad you like Carmen! See? I'm updating quickly this time! You get a hug for making me a happy, happy phan!
DarogaDaae: Ironically, I actually am typing it up word for word! (Haha! That way I can keep it as long as I want without the stupid library taking it away!) I can send you what I've got so far, if you'd like. The ultimate husband-to-be, eh? You'll have to fight off the rest of the phans, though... myself included! CHARGE! Hahaha! I shall have zee Erik for my own! Mine, my own, my preciousssss:is trampled flat by the rest of the phans: ...Ouchies... You know, I really should make myself a but more acquainted with the world of anime... Inuyasha is the guy with the awesome pointy ears and a fluffy tail, right? And he's part demon? Am I right? Do I win? ...Or am I just pathetic...
KorieHonshu: Thankies! I love applause! As to what the witchie people do next... well, you'll just have to read this chapter and find out, now won't you? Because they're in there!
Chapter 13: Ganstas, Alarms Clocks, and A Nice Little Plot Twist
Carmen woke the next morning to find that she had fallen asleep on the futon, in Erik's arms. Erik was already awake, but he hadn't moved.
"Good morning," he said when he'd noticed she was awake, "I was wondering when you'd wake up..."
"Next time, just poke me or something. You don't have to sit there waiting for me to wake up..." she yawned. "Hey, what day is it?"
"Oh shit!" Carmen cursed, sitting up so fast it made her head spin. "I'm late for class!"
"No you aren't." Erik reassured her, stretching himself out on the futon, "It's only seven... Did you really think I'd let you oversleep?"
"You make an excellent alarm clock... Did you know that?"
Erik nodded. "Only I didn't actually wake you up, so in all actuality, I'm a terrible alarm clock."
"Shut up. It's too early for confusing logic. You're an excellent alarm clock, and that's that!"
Erik shrugged. "Perhaps it would be wise to be getting ready for classes? Or does the alarm clock brush teeth as well?"
"That'd be interesting..." said Carmen vaguely. "A toothbrushing alarm clock... I should make one."
"I'm afraid my mother beat you it, dear."
Carmen turned to face Erik. "What the heck?... Oh. I get it... That was pathetic."
"It was funny..." Erik said stubbornly.
"Alright, you know what? You're pathetic!" Erik said finally.
"You know," Carmen began, "I am pathetic. Here I stand, having this remarkably second-grade argument with you, when there have to be a thousand better ways to spend my Monday morning."
"One such activity being..." Erik decided to humor her.
Carmen made no verbal response, just looked sidelong at him and winked before slipping into the bathroom to change.
Stupid! Erik thought, Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! For someone who had once jokingly claimed to be 'romantically challenged', she certainly knew how to torture a man!
Erik waited until a cessation of thuds and rustlings told him that Carmen had finished changing before he crossed the room in three large steps and rapped on the door.
"Come in," Carmen said, "It's unlocked."
The door swung open, but Erik remained where he was, leaning against the doorframe. "You are a cruel, cruel woman." he said silkily. "You drop me a hint... and then force me to wait before I act on it? Do you have any idea what that kind of suspense does to a man like me?"
"Exactly what I intended it to."
Carmen was squaring up to him... Erik had to admit, he rather liked her combative --almost controlling, but not quite– sexuality. For a moment, he understood exactly how Christine must have felt the first time he'd taken her down to his lair. She was showing him an entirely new and unknown world... not only the twenty-first century, but also the world one came into when one loved, and was loved in return.
"I hate waiting." he said, pulling her so close that the tips of their noses met.
"You're so impatient." Carmen teased. "Maybe I should just keep talking and make you wait even longer."
But Erik wasn't going to wait any longer and Carmen knew that perfectly well...
Their lips were still locked when the door swung open.
"Hey, Carmen-... um, am I missing something?" Both Ava and Jessica couldn't help but stare, dumbfounded, at the scene frozen by surprise before them. It was as though someone had paused a very romantic movie... only when you paused a movie, the characters didn't flush until they looked like oddly shaped tomatoes.
"Hah!" Ava cried, poking Jessica on the shoulder. "I told you they'd fall in love! Now pay up!"
"You really should learn to knock!" Erik snapped, having finally found his voice.
"We did knock." Ava muttered. "What we failed to do, however, was wait politely to be let in... And Jessica! Ten bucks. In my hand. Now."
Grudgingly, Jessica pulled a ten dollar bill out of her pocket and handed it to Ava.
Carmen blinked. Her friends had been betting on her?
"Well anyways..." Ava continued. "You're going to be late for Voice if you don't get moving." she said, tossing Carmen her backpack, "Sorry, Erik. Knowledge calls."
"I suppose I'll live until this afternoon." Erik said sarcastically. Actually, he had every intention of making today a quite.. Profitable experience. It had recently dawned upon him that he was completely dependent upon Carmen for his every material need, and that thought was rather discomforting to the notoriously independent Opera Ghost...
"It didn't work, Damien." Stella muttered angrily, sitting herself down on his bed.
"I noticed!" Damien snapped, "Time is running out... the ceremony must be held on all hallows eve at midnight! If we cannot get the Phantom, we shall have to use another... and that would be an utter disaster!"
"And why would that be so terrible?" Stella wondered anxiously. "You've seen him, haven't you? Isn't that enough for you to name me master chaneller? What's so special about him?"
"Foolish woman!" Damien spat, turning abruptly to face her, "This is no longer about you irksome little promotion! Do you not see how perfectly suited he is to our purposes? According to records, this man doesn't exist! If we kill anyone else, there will surely be an investigation, and we, my dear, will surely be discovered! But if we kill the Phantom, there will be no one to speak of it except for some obscure, non-credible college student... and who would believe a tale as outlandish as the truth, I ask you?"
Stella swallowed. "No one... but if you have your proof, then why not just give me my title?"
There was a loud –CRACK– as Damien backhanded her across the face. His ring left a long gash on her cheek, but she would just tell everyone that she'd fallen down... again.
"Do you really think I want another master around to challenge my authority? You will never gain your rank so long as i have the power to prevent it!"
Stella felt tears welling up in her eyes, but she quickly turned her face away. She would not let him see her cry! "But you said it didn't matter to you! You said we would lead...together!"
"Pha! Did you really think that I would share my role? With the likes of you, none the less?"
Stella didn't answer... All she'd dreamed of for years– gone! How dare he lie to her like this! All those times he'd said he loved her– Were those all lies, too? Obviously, he'd just been using her to get his stupid sacrifice for him! Well, she wasn't going to help him anymore!
"FINE!" she screamed. "I'm out! You want your perfect sacrifice so badly? Well, you can get him yourself!"
Without waiting for a reply, she strode angrily towards the door, but Damien caught her wrist and twisted it behind her back so that she had no choice but to face him.
"Fine." he growled, his face only a few inches from hers, "go ahead and leave– It isn't as though I need you anymore anyways– but if you tell anything about what I'm doing to anyone, it'll be you on the alter instead of the Phantom... Understand?"
Stella nodded. She knew firsthand that Damien's temper was a dangerous thing to toy with, and she did not want to incur his wrath by jeopardizing his plans... even if she did hate him!
Without another word, she jerked her wrist free, turned on her heel, and stalked out of the room, slamming the door behind her.
It was only then, when Stella was out of Damien's sight, that she could freely let the tears fall...
Erik had made up his mind. He was sick of his dependency on Carmen for everything. Today, he would accumulate some funds of his own. True, the legality of his plan to do so was debatable, but when had that ever stopped him before? No, he wasn't going to rob a bank or anything stupid like that... he was simply going to play a bit of poker... after all, how much could it have changed since his time?
Instinctively keeping to the shadows, he scoured downtown Cincinnati for a bar that look swarthy enough to have a high stakes poker table (because low stakes simply wasn't worth it...). When he reached the more crime-infested areas, they seemed to be in no short supply. He chose a larger establishment called "B-Lo's" and made his way to the back of the building, where he was pleased to see five men sitting around a table, staring pensively at their cards. A large pile of bills in the center of the table indicated the pot.
He watched them from the shadows as they played a few hands, learning the unique strategies of each player, before slipping his ring off his finger an tossing it onto the table.
"Mind if I buy in?" he asked, stepping out of the shadows.
There was a general rule about playing games of "chance" with a magician... don't do it! After a mere five hands, Erik's amassed winnings came to a total of two-thousand, seven hundred, and fifty-eight dollars. Of course, winning five good hand in a row was also an excellent way of making some very dangerous enemies, so after that, he promptly exited the game before the other players became violent... Perhaps in the future he would consider playing chess instead. As he made to walk away from the table, one of the more built players grabbed him by the back of the shirk and pulled him back.
"Not so quick, Bones," he growled, "You don't think you can just waltz in here, win yourself a few real nice hands, and then just stroll outta here without giving us lesser players a few pointers, do you?"
"Just a bit of good luck, Gentleman, I assure you." Erik lied. As if he'd tell them that he'd been using slight-of-hand to get the hands he'd wanted... or that he'd been gradually emptying the pockets of those who sat nearest him the entire time...
"No, I don't think so..." the man said, shaking his shining bald head in a sort of steroid-induced disbelief and pulling Erik closer to him by his shirt collar. "I think it's that mask of yours. It must be giving you good luck... like Goliath's hair!"
Erik quickly assured the man that his mask was doing nothing of the sort. He had to fight very had to bite back the urge to point out that it had been Sampson who had gained his superhuman strength from his hair, not Goliath.
"Hey Lou!" cried a smaller man with a nasal voice that made Erik cringe. "Let's take it off... just to be sure he ain't lyin!"
"Sound's like a damn good idea to me... What'd you think, Bones? Sound like fun?"
Erik blanched. He should have known something like this would happen!
"I think–" he choked, "That you had best let me go immediately!" His fingers itched for a punjab... Then he could teach these morons why it was a very bad idea to tease the Phantom of the Opera!... But the memories of that one night he'd spent in jail kept him from strangling his attackers. After all, he was in a room full of witnesses -and he couldn't kill them all, obviously- and the police in this century were apparently a tinge more competent than the blundering genderarmes of his time... and he didn't want to have to spent the rest of his days serving a life sentence with another sex offender... No, it wasn't worth the risk.
"Alright!" The man threw him against the wall, and Erik crumpled to the floor. The collision knocked the air out of his lungs, but otherwise left him unharmed. "So, what're you hiding under that mask, anyways?"
"Nothing! I am hiding nothing!"
"You know, I'm starting to think you aren't being too honest with me... I hate being lied to, especially by stupid, cheating little skeletons!"
There was a kick aimed at Erik's head, but he dodged it with ease. He quickly got up off the floor, but as he made to run another man grabbed him around the waist and ripped off the mask. With and angry shriek, Erik twisted free and wrapped his long fingers around the man's beefy throat, tightening his grip until he dropped the mask. He didn't care about consequences anymore! No one took off the mask!
"Well, well." came a mocking voice on his left, "It seems I was wrong about you. You're no skeleton after all... You're obviously a corpse!"
Erik gave a feral growl and released the man who had taken the mask. One hand tightened around the man's throat while the other attempted to cover his deformities. "I'll kill you!... I swear it!" He let the hand covering his face drop down in case anyone tried to intervene. "Or at least I could kill you. Presently, I shall not... unless you decide to further provoke me. Do not take me lightly, monsieur. For your own sake, I shall advise you that should you make that mistake, it will be your last... "
Still seething, Erik turned to face the other men, still without his mask.
"Well!" he demanded, "What're you all looking at!" he snarled, the tone of his voice dared anyone to answer. He had replaced his mask and was turning to leave, when the idiot that he had just very nearly strangled hit him hard on the good side of the face, and then again on the other side before he had time to recover himself. Almost reflexively, Erik went for the throat, hitting the man hard enough to render him unconscious in a matter of seconds. He no longer cared whether his actions would eventually cave in his windpipe and kill the man. In fact, he sincerely hoped the fool died as a result! As far as Erik was concerned, he'd signed his own death warrant!
In the chaos that ensued from the man's collapse, he was able to slip out unnoticed by the rest of the men. He headed straight for the college campus, where he could sanctuary himself and perhaps clean himself up a bit before Carmen saw him and worried herself to pieces. He had to admit that, while he loved the lass, he couldn't help but find her constant underestimation of his ability to fend for himself quite irritating. Eventually, she would learn that he was a big boy, quite capable of staying alive without the safety and security of the dormitories... he hoped.
It took Erik quite a bit longer to find the college than he'd imagined, as he'd taken several wrong turns on his way back... after all, Cincinnati was still a fairly new city to him. When he finally did get back to the dormitories, his foul mood had only increased in magnitude, and to make matters worse, when he threw open the door he found Carmen sitting inside the room, talking to a woman he had never met before. Normally, this wouldn't have been more than an annoyance to him, but the suitcase sitting near the new woman's feet gave him a funny feeling that she'd be staying with them for a while, and that Erik was not entirely certain he could endure!
And thus ends lucky chapter 13 (hehe... I just noticed that... I win!)! So, happy reviewing to you all! Pleasey please? Oh yes, and I wrote I decent chunk of chapter 14 when I was camping (for utter lack of anything better to do except to sit around and do exactly what i do at home...), so I really have no excuse to take an incredibly long time to update, except that it's probably going to be a very, very long chappie, so maybe it will take a while... I really don't know.