By Hikaru Hayashi

Wow, by going by the hit counter, you can really tell the fans. The fans actually take the time to review! That means all the rest are lazy bums (or "moochers", courtesy of Kagome1514) not worthy to lay eyes on this work.

Note to audience: If you're going to read, please take the time to review. Thank you very much…have a nice day. : )

Kagome1514: Once again the first reviewer! You like that, I'm sure. Yes, Erik will be appearing from now till the end of the story! I'm sure everyone would like that. And when you close, I don't really mind what closing you use, since I am quite illiterate in French anyway, I don't think it would matter. It is interesting to think of Erik as not…um…messed-up, so to speak. (His face, I mean, as to correct myself because I was tempted to say "messed up in the head"…heh, heh…j/k)

shamaho: I love AU fics too! They're just so awesome, especially when done the right way. Actually, unless I really put my mind to it, I naturally write AU. The reason Christine never went to see Erik is because she knew that he would not get out of jail for a long time and probably wouldn't remember her anyway when he got out, so she wanted to forget about him, even though she never could. Of course, she's going to see him again sooner than she had expected…way sooner…heh, heh…

Countess Alana: I'm glad you're enjoying the story even more now that Erik is in it. Don't worry, you'll be seeing lots of him, I guarantee it. It's very rare that I get to update so quickly, so please don't get used to it. I don't want to disappoint you in the future.

pearheart: I'm glad you think my story is great. I hope you continue to enjoy it! It will only get better from here.

Disclaimer note: I own no part of "The Phantom of the Opera" in any way. Kindly remember this before trying to arrest me.

And thanks to my beta-reader Kagome1514 for giving the correct spelling of "frappuccino".

Chapter 4: An Old Acquaintance

Christine looked across the street from the Starbucks she was sitting at with Raoul. She took her straw and twirled it around in her mocha hazelnut frappuccino, making sure to mix up the coffee and the whipped cream really good before taking a sip. Raoul had ordered a caramel mocha frappuccino, but he had hardly touched it. Christine found it so odd that even though it was she who had invited him, he graciously volunteered to pay for the drinks and insisted that it was no problem, no matter how much Christine tried to convince him otherwise. Meg was right. He was far too much of a gentleman.

Actually, I never used to think that anyone could be too courteous, she thought as she stared out the window at the mountain view. Of course, that was before I met Raoul…I mean, he's nice…but that's just it. He's too nice.

She turned her attention from the view of the mountains to Raoul sitting across from her. He was still staring at the ground. He had been staring at the ground almost the whole time. Surely he could think of a far better use for his gorgeous crystal eyes than staring at the ground. She would rather them be on her than the dusty linoleum. She suddenly stopped, realizing what she just thought. No, what am I doing…?she thought. She sighed as she placed an elbow on the round table before her.

"Is something the matter, Miss Daae?" came Raoul's voice.

Is something the matter with you? Christine wanted to say. "No," she replied. "I'm fine."

At least he's not staring at the ground anymore.

"Are you gonna drink that?" she asked, motioning to his frappuccino.

"Hm? Oh…uh…I am," he replied quickly as he took a sip

That's why it's still full… she thought. She sighed again. "Look, you don't have to be so quiet, you know."

"No…I…" Raoul started. His eyes fell to the floor once again.

Great… Christine sighed.

"Um…Miss Daae…" Raoul muttered. "I…I know you don't want to be here with me…"

He picked up his book bag and his frappuccino and stood up. "I'm sorry my friends and Miss Giry forced you to stay with me…it's alright if you don't like me…really…"

Christine looked up at him. He thinks I don't like him? That might explain the way he's been acting.

She smiled. "Wanna go to the mall with me and Meg tomorrow after school?" she offered.

"If...if it's not too much trouble…" Raoul's voice faltered as he spoke.

"Nah! It's good," Christine replied as she stood up. "Come on, let's get back to school. I've got a class in, like, ten minutes."

"Okay…" Raoul answered as he followed Christine out the door.

I wonder what Erik is up to right now… Christine thought as they crossed the parking lot.

I hope they're not being too mean to him…he's so far away…I don't have my license yet so it's not like I can go visit him…no! I promised myself I would forget him. It's not like I'll ever see him again anyway…besides, it's my fault he's in jail in the first place….

She suddenly heard Meg's voice in her head, repeating a phrase she'd heard from her a lot: "Christine, you've gotta quit beating yourself up about that. It wasn't your fault!"

Says you…Christine thought. Lost in her thoughts, she stopped in the middle of the parking lot, unaware of the car that was approaching.

"Darn it...why do I keep thinking about that…" she mumbled, unaware that she was about to be hit by a car that showed no signs of stopping…

"Look out, Miss Daae!"

Before Christine had the chance to figure out what was going on, she felt herself being pushed to the ground and, unknowingly, out of harm's way. She fell flat on her backside. She heard a car screech…then a voice:

"Oh, goodness! Are you two alright?"

She opened her eyes. A man with dark hair was staring at her as if he'd done something terribly wrong. She then noticed that Raoul was sprawled out on top of her. "What's going on…" she started to say, when she heard Raoul moaning. He lifted his head and stared into her eyes.

"Are you hurt, Miss Daae?" he asked in a concerned tone.

"Uh…uh…" was all she could get out, as she found herself entranced by his gaze.

"Ehem, hello? Are you alright?" the man from before asked.

Raoul blinked, then noticed he was still on top of Christine. "Oh! S-sorry about that…!" he stammered, blushing, as he quickly stood up and brushed himself off. "Here," he said as he offered Christine his hand to help her up.

She took his hand and felt herself being lifted from the ground. "Raoul…" she started, "what just happened?"

"You were almost hit by that car…" he replied. "You need to be more careful! If I hadn't knocked you out of the way…God knows what would have happened to you. Thank Heaven you're safe…" he sighed as he hugged her.

This startled her. She understood he was worried about her. "I'm fine, Raoul, really…" she said as she hugged him back, surprising herself. Why am I doing this? she thought.

"Excuse me," the man from before interrupted. "Um…are you and your girlfriend alright?"

Immediately, Raoul blushed as he pushed her away. "Yes…we're fine," he replied as he stared at the ground, startled at himself for acknowledging that Christine was his "girlfriend".

Christine looked up at the man who had almost run her down…and, surprisingly, she recognized him. "Nadir? Is that you?"

The man responded to her call. He gasped. "Oh, crap! I almost ran over Christine Daae! I'm so sorry, Christine!" he said as he ran to her.

Christine smiled widely. "It is you, Nadir! It's been such a long time; I almost didn't recognize you…!"

"Which I find funny," the man called Nadir said. "Because it's pretty darn hard not to recognize a pretty face such as yours."

"Oh, stop it! You flatter me!" Christine joked. Her smile dropped suddenly. "Um…h-have you seen Erik recently?"

"No," Nadir replied. "I just came back from the prison. Would you believe how rude those men were! They wouldn't even let me see him!"

"No!" Christine gasped in disbelief.

"Yeah," Nadir growled under his breath. "Some manners, huh? No one's been allowed to see him for 6 months. I should know; I've been trying to see him for 6 months! Can you believe that? All this over a guy who didn't do anything wrong." Nadir sighed. "Poor Erik. Sure hope he's alright."

"Poor Erik…" Christine echoed. "Oh, poor Erik…" She sighed heavily. She was almost glad that she didn't try to go and see him now that she knew that she wouldn't have been able to see him anyway.

Nadir patted Christine's shoulder. "Hey, everything will be fine. I'm sure he'll find a way to get out of this mess. He always finds a way…"

As Raoul stared over at the two friends, he felt as though he were eavesdropping into their conversation. Who's Erik…? he thought, even though he knew deep down that it was none of his business.

"In any case, I'm sorry I almost hit you," Nadir said. Then he started to laugh. "So, I take it the young man isn't your boyfriend after all!"

"Oh, Raoul? Nah, we're just good friends," she replied as she winked at Raoul.

Raoul, who was staring at the ground, didn't notice. He wasn't even listening. I don't understand… he thought, confused. Who is Erik?

"Hey, you guys want me to give you a ride?" Nadir offered.

"No, it's okay. We're not that far, we can walk. Come on, Raoul!" Christine said as she dragged off a confused Raoul de Chagny.

"Well…uh…okay…bye…I guess…" Nadir stammered as they went off, a bit disappointed that they couldn't talk longer after not seeing each other in six months.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Early the next day, in the county jail, a prison guard patrolled the halls. I hate my job… he thought, frustrated.

He stopped at the last cell in the row. "Good morning, Mulheim. The warden wants to see you."

No reply. "Yo, Mulheim! The warden wants to see you."

Still no reply. The guard sighed. He blew a whistle. "Yo, Mulheim!" A loud bump.

"Oof!"

"Huh?" the guard said in a confused tone as Erik pulled himself off of the ground.

"Okay…that was really painful…" Erik moaned as he rubbed his back

Oh…I guess he was still asleep…the guard thought, now feeling a bit guilty for having to wake him up. "Mulheim, the warden wants to see you."

Erik looked up at the guard. Well, that was pretty fast…he thought as the prison guard opened the door to his cell. He yawned, stretched his arms, and walked out of his cell, rubbing the back of his head and muttering, "It's too early in the morning…" As he was walking out, the guard spoke to him:

"Hey, Mulheim. I believe you're innocent. Those punks in the courthouses with their fancy suits, well, they don't believe anybody. And, after what I heard yesterday…well, that was some amazing piano playing."

"Thank you," Erik replied as the guard was leading him away.

"So, could you tell me more about this Christine?"

Erik looked at the guard in shock. "What…?" he said, stopping in his tracks.

"I kinda heard you talking to yourself yesterday," the guard confessed. "I know exactly how you feel. So, what's she like, anyway?"

Erik smiled, a bit relieved, but also, a bit confused. Of all the questions the guard could have asked him…but, even so, he told the guard about his darling Christine and how much he missed her.

They talked until they got to the door of the warden's office. "Well, this is it. I can't take you any farther. Warden's orders."

Erik stared at the guard. "You mean I have to go into that crazy man's office by myself? You have got to be kidding me..."

"Nope! Not kidding. Sorry…" the guard said as he started to walk away.

"Wait…what is your name?" Erik called after him.

"It's Johnson. Good luck, Mulheim! (You'll need it!)"

Erik stared at the guard as he walked away. Well, this is perfect. He thought. He really didn't want to be alone with the warden. That guy was a few measures short of a musical composition. In his opinion, the man belonged in an asylum. However, if he wanted to get out of prison and see Christine again, he'd have to keep his opinions to himself. "Well, here goes nothing…" he said as he pushed open the door to the warden's office and walked in…

End Chapter Four

I'm sorry, this took longer that I wanted it to. And my updating time will be badly shortened for the next few weeks because of band camp. But, even so, I will try to update (even if it's late at night).

In the meantime, tell me what you thought of this chapter. Please, please review!