A/N: First fic, don't be too harsh please.
Disclaimer: I own nothing except the plot. I will be changing some names. Raoul...is not a popular name. As of now, all other names are acceptable.
He longed to teach. That's why he was here
Suddenly Erik Grenier longed for a hammer and some nails again. Those inanimate objects didn't stare at him, or ask him questions. He tried to drown the butterflies in his stomach with the lukewarm coffee. A grimace played over his visable features at the taste of the tepid coffee.
It was his first day as a professor. He was nervous. He never got nervous. Well, hardly ever. His nerves weren't concerned with his ability, but were concerned with his being in front of a group of curious students. He longed to teach, that's why he worked hard for years. To be educated. Now he had his degrees, and he could finally share his talent with the world. Well, a group of a little over a hundred if he added all the students together.
He knew he was good. He had no doubt of that. He'd brought audiences to tears by merely running his fingers over a keyboard. They nearly forgot the mask once they heard him play.
He stared at his reflection in the glass window.
The gleaming white leather of the mask stared back at him, as it always did. It dipped just below his upper lip on the right side of his face, split his nose in half then continued up to his hairline covering a bit more than the top quarter of his face. He preferred the mask to the plain ugliness of his face. As did the rest of the world. He'd learned that the hard way. Doctors could do nothing else for him, and they'd done little as it was.
His turquoise eyes rose to glance at the clock. 8:43. They would be arriving soon. Sweat beaded on the visible side of his forehead. His hand snatched the cord for the roll-down blind. The room was dark with no sunlight shining in. Only half of the fluorescent lights shone.
He leaned on his elbow, which rested on the lid of the upright piano in the corner of the room then downed the rest of the nasty coffee. The list of the students gleamed against the dark top of the desk. The list was for the first class of the day. Ten. It was only ten people. He'd performed in front of larger groups. Much larger. But then he hadn't been interacting with them on a nearly daily basis. The crowds merely looked at him in suspicion, maybe confusion. They couldn't ask questions. But the students could. The students would have plenty of opportunity to speak with him, ask questions he dreaded.
Suddenly Erik couldn't breathe. He loosened the top button of his white dress shirt, that didn't help. Loosened the knot in the tie he wore. Didn't help. Played a jaunty tune on the upper region of the piano. Then took a deep breath. 8:50. Okay. Ten minutes. He pushed his tie back into place. Music Theroy. He could teach this class from memory. Deep breathe.
He eased his hip against the edge of the desk just as 2 girls walked through the door. They smiled at him, not quite sure what to make of the masked man at the desk. Fear ran through him, but he forced a smile.
"Good morning ladies." His deep voice resonated the words.
The both returned the greeting. They chatted to each other as the other students continued to file in room. 3 males, 6 females. Someone was missing. After a glance at his paperwork he discovered a female was missing. 9:01. He loathed lateness.
"Damn it." Christine sighed as the car shuddered and stalled. Bright white teeth nipped her bottom lip. How could she be so foolish? She'd run out of gas halfway to the campus. "Why oh why did I have to stop for a cappachino?" She grabbed her bag, and locked her car door. She was stuck in the parking lot. With a quick glance at her watch she noticed she only had 10 minutes to make it to her first class.
With a great sigh she dumped the trouble-making coffee and heaved her bag over her shoulder. Glancing warily at the hot sun, she started to jog toward the campus.
"Way to start off the new school year." It was already time for her class when the campus came into view. It was late August, so it was still warm. Actually it was beyond warm. Hot, it was hot. Her face was flushed and sweat trickled from her temples down her cheeks. She guzzled a bottle of water she purchased from the nearby machine and rechecked her schedule. Music Theory. Prof. E. Grenier. She didn't recognize the name from her previous year. She started toward the building and up the 2 flights of stairs. She took a deep breath and held her head high, and pulled the door open. The man leaning against the desk was tall. And dark. And very handsome. He was holding a packet of papers, she assumed was the syllabus, and talking to the class. Christine's lips parted when his blue-green gaze pinned on her. Where the left side of his face was tanned, the right side contrasted with a partial mask.
"Miss Daae, how nice of you to join us." His deep voice was like soft velvet against her eardrums. She'd never heard such a beautiful speaking voice. He gave her a slight frown and walked toward her holding out a packet of papers for her.
"Thanks. Sorry." She pushed the chocolate curls out of her flushed face. He swallowed visibly, and then managed a small smile.
"It's fine. Just do try to be on time from now on." She smiled back and nodded. Quickly she sat and got herself situated. The room was cool, much to her relief. According to the clock she was only a few minutes late, but she looked a mess. She probably did look as if she just ran the 2 miles from her car.
"As I was saying, I would advise you attend every class. I won't accept multiple absences. In case of emergency my office number here at the school is listed on the last page, as well as my email address. With that there should be no unexcused absences. I've just recently left school myself, so this is all new to me as well. You will have to bear with me. My name is Erik Grenier and I'd prefer it if you all call me Erik. Have we all got our books yet?" A mumble of yes's came from the group. "Excellent. Let's begin today then." He was a thorough teacher, explaining scales and arpeggios on the dry-erase board behind him. His writing was slightly sloppy, but legible, thankfully.
His voice made it hard to concentrate on what he was saying. Christine's pen was poised over her lined notebook, but she couldn't tear her gaze away from that mask. His gaze shifted to her quite often. When her eyes met his a few times he stumbled over the words coming out of his mouth and had repeat himself. He turned to write a name on the board then sat at the piano to play a corresponding tune. The rest of the class seemed to pass quickly.
"Alright. That's it for today. I'll expect you all to have your books by Wednesday." He turned a pointed look to a guy a few rows behind Christine. "Ah, and I suggest you all go over all of the scales, major and minor. We'll go over those next time. See you all Wednesday." He walked over to open the door. Christine looked down at her notes, or lack thereof. She'd managed to write a few lines and numerous dots of ink. She slid her notebook closed and picked it and the book up as she made her way up to the man in the front to apologize properly. She didn't want him thinking ill of her on the very first day.
The flushed girl who pulled the door open was not what he was expecting as the missing student. She looked as if she had taken a few laps around the track before class. Strands of her dark, curled hair stuck to her face. Her face was perfect, framed by the loose curls. He turned toward her; her blue eyes were widened by surprise. The mask he was sure. His breathe caught and he lost track of what he was saying. He lowered his eyes to read her name again. Christine Daae.
"Miss Daae, how nice of you to join us." The frown he gave was to show her he didn't care for tardiness. He handed her a syllabus.
"Thanks. Sorry." Her voice was of an angel. He swallowed deeply. She pushed a few errant locks from her face. He felt the corners of his lips curl into the resemblance of a smile.
"It's fine. Just do try to be on time from now on." She nodded at him. He started the class again. Try as he might he couldn't keep his eyes from sliding back over to her. When she looked up at him, his mind went blank. He shook his head trying to regain his thoughts. When the class was finished she walked up to him. He raised his visible eyebrow. "Miss Daae?"
"Christine. I just wanted to apologize for…uh…for being late."
"It's quite alright. I'd rather you miss a bit of today than something more important."
"I'm usually never late. I had car troubles." The need to make him realize she wasn't normally tardy confused her. But it was strangely important. Her cheeks flushed and she prayed he wouldn't ask about the car trouble. Of course, being of a curious nature, he did.
"Oh, what sort?" He smiled and she saw a flash of white teeth.
"Um actually I ran out of gas half way here." She flushed redder. He stifled a chuckle.
"Oh. Did you have to walk?" His lip curved.
"Yes, actually. Obviously the reason I was late. I apologize." He laid a reassuring hand on her shoulder. The faint scent of his cologne drifted to her.
"No worries. Just remember to fill up next time." He gave her a wink and walked her to the door. A thankful smile appeared on her face.
"Thanks Mister Gren-"
"Sorry, thanks…Erik." Christine felt like a bumbling idiot. He sort of smiled after her as she walked down the hall. She glanced back over her shoulder at him.