Nothing But a Ghost

By Kat Kire

Disclaimer

I do not own PotO, or Nightmare Before Christmas, though I am currently in negotiations for Lock, Shock, and Barrel's tree house.

Claimer

I do own the prose and plot. Fun.

Summary

Erik is struck by the horror of what he has done, but then comes to an odd realization. Song fic to "Jack's Lament" from Nightmare Before Christmas.

Author's Note

Oddly for me, based on the ALW musical. I think I've managed quite well, though I still have a vendetta against him for leaving out Nadir.

"All alone," he murmured to himself. "All alone." There was no one. There was nothing. There was a music box in front of him, but it was nothing. It played a song that had once meant the world to him, but now it was nothing. There was nothing. He was nothing.

He lay there suspended in a moment, on the floor, staring quietly at the flicker of the candles on the shards of broken mirror. Somewhere in the back of his mind, a thought stirred. The thought whispered softly, but inexorably.

What have I done?

What have I done?

Nothing had happened, because nothing could happen to nothing. Nothing can come from nothing. King Lear…like King Lear, betrayed by his daughter. Who yet was not his daughter…such a miasma, such a quagmire and chaos of confusion, only thrown into sharp relief against the gaudy backdrop of the Opera that was his world. Full of gold and color and jewels…

An irony. He, he, who told himself that nothing could ever matter to him less that looks, had been coolly defeated by his own philosophy, his own refusal to look at the facts…

The candlelight guttered and went out.

How could he explain, even to himself…

He remembered the manager's cry. "Ruined, Andre, ruined!" Right in more ways then they knew. Than anyone would ever know. The last mistake, the last hurrah of the lurking leech like ghost of the opera, his last attempt at ever being alive, and it was a miserable failure…

Ruined, ruined for good, and now he was nothing. It was over, finished, done. Erik was done…Erik. In a million years, who will care about the sufferings about a rat from underneath the earth who fell in love with a perfect white rose?

How could I be so blind?

All is lost, where was I?

Spoiled all, spoiled all

Everything's gone all wrong

And finally, nothing would have to face what nothing had done. Evil. He was evil. Never before had he been evil. He remembered the shriek of the diva, of Carlotta, when it was over, when the chandelier had fell. She had not shrieked for herself, as he had been so disdainfully sure she would. Instead, she shrieked for that man, that obese blob of an overdone off-key tenor…but she saw something beautiful in him. Something beautiful.

The man with the noose around his neck, the man dangling from the rafters, the tenor sprawled backstage. The casualties of a broken love affair, as broken as the mirror.

For the first time, his face did not matter. But the only reason that it did not matter was because the distorted, murderous, beastial creature he was was the only thing in all of God's earth that could possibly be worse.

A long, shaky breath came out of the nothing in his chest, where firey archangels were stabbing at his black and decayed heart. That heart had only died a moment ago, when the tiny star in the shape of a woman had left him, but somehow it felt as if it had been dead a long time.

His candle guttered, flickered, danced, and went out.

What have I done?

What have I done?

Find a deep cave to hide in

In the flash of lurid fluorescence the flame had left behind, he saw his future. Found, a skeleton, beneath the Opera, wearing a single gold ring. Only, perhaps, twenty or ten years dead. But they would find the heart, the distorted and grotesque heart, and they would know that that alone had been dead for a long time.

In a million years they'll find me

Only dust and a plaque

That reads, "Here Lies Poor Old Erik"

They would go home, home to their families and their lighted windows the color of honey, and embrace their children, who had missed them after their long day out. And they would tell their children the strange story of the skeleton man who lived under the Opera and loved the beautiful princess that he could never have, and the story of the handsome prince who found her and brought her back from the goblin caves, where the demon skeleton kept his grotesquerie of evil creatures and secret tenderness.

But then he was the child, and he was panicked. Mother will think I disobeyed. Mother will think I was naughty. I was not, I swear, I swear. It wasn't my fault, Mother, it's not fair to scold me…it's not fair. It's not fair, and no one but the crying child understands, a paragon of justice, although to the rest of the world a teary mess and full of folly.

But I never intended all this madness, never

And nobody really understood, how could they?

That all I ever wanted was to be like all the rest

Why does nothing ever turn out like it should?

And then it was there, glinting and white, a half of a face, a perfect face. And it did not mean that he was perfect. And he was nothing, so perfect didn't matter. The evil floated away as he reached for the mask, said a goodbye. He knew that it was bound to come again, but for the moment it didn't matter. When it came, he alone would face it down. He was alone, and he would be victorious. Alone.

There are worse things then alone.

The only thing worse than not having her would be to have her. When it was over, and there was no music to cloud his eyes, he could see that. He would always want to have more and more of her, and finally, in the end, she would be nothing too, when she had given him all, and he would be nothing but a bloated fool, creeping towards his death, alone nevertheless, alone once more.

Just for a moment, he had had her.

A moment that was also another life he had lived once. As another man, a handsome man, a strong, good man. Another life, when he had been an angel…

Well, what the heck, I went and did my best

And, by God, I really tasted something swell

And for a moment, why, I even touched the sky

And at least I left some stories they can tell, I did

As the old comfortable mask slid coolly over his hot and bloody face, his mishappen twisted lips curved into what might have been a smile. But, he was all alone, and who was there to tell?

He was remembering the look on the face of one man in the audience, the half shocked, half amused look, as the chandelier went up into a fateful spray of light and beauty. The beauty one trades for a life. That man would go home, and he would tell this story. And unless there had been something bad, there would have been no story.

Somehow that mattered.

And for the first time since I don't remember when

I felt just like my old bony self again

And I, Erik, the Opera Ghost -

That's right, I am the Opera Ghost. HA!

He stood up suddenly, scattering the broken mirrors. One cracked and dissolved under his feet, into a fine gleaming kind of fairy dust. For a moment he gazed at it, entranced suddenly by its pure beauty, then kicked it away, into the lake, and watched it fall into the murky water like concentrated light.

New managers were bound to come along. And after all, weren't they bound to need a ghost? Every Opera ought to have a ghost. One can always put an advertisement in the Rue de Theatrical, but then how would you find someone experienced, who knew what they were doing, who understood the subtle nuances of ventriloquism and making ballet rats scream?

You did what you knew. This was what he knew.

And I just can't wait until next Masquerade

'Cause I've got some new ideas

That will really make them pay

And, by God I'm really gonna give it all my might

I hope there's still time to set things right

The ghost, Erik, stopped smiling. Instead, he threw his head back and laughed, and no one heard him, because deep down in the dark, there is nothing, nothing at all, for miles and miles, and anyone can belong, because there is nothing, nothing, nothing, for forever and always, and nothing collides into more nothing, and dark slides under, and all that there is is beautiful, beautiful, empty space.