-1Music of the Night

The First Measure

"Okay class! Let's settle down, shall we?" the teacher called out as the various students filed into the auditorium and took seats close to the stage. Shinji looked around and was surprised at how many people he knew were taking the same class. Touji hobbled in, followed closely by Kensuke and took seats on each side of Shinji.

"Yo, Shin! Decided to earn an easy 'A' as well?" Touji chuckled as he saw his friend's face go red with embarrassment. He and Kensuke grinned at their timid friend's discomfort.

"Yeah, I guess. NERV is really doing damage to my grades. I really need a good grade in this class," Shinji muttered as he continued to look around. Touji suddenly perked up as he saw Hikari walk through the doors, only to wilt as soon as he saw the Red Headed Devil herself follow her in and take a seat just a few rows in front of them. He saw Shinji's eyes light up ever so slightly as he looked upon the face of the Second Child.

"Hey, Shinji? Do you want us to go so you can go and have some quality time with The Demon?" Touji teased, causing his fellow stooge to laugh rather loudly, making Shinji's blush even more pronounced.

"No! It's not like that! I'm...I'm just surprised to see her here, that's all!" Shinji stammered, making his friends laugh even louder, which drew Asuka's attention to him, as he slowly sank as low as his seat would allow.

"Hey, you idiots! Why don't you shut the hell up so the rest of us can hear the teacher?" Asuka bellowed as she shot daggers in their direction. Shinji felt as if they were aimed directly at him.

"S…sorry!" Shinji called back, drawing even more attention his direction. Asuka stood up and put her hand on her hips, glaring at him. His buddies laughed even louder.

"What the hell are you sorry for, Third!? It's your two idiot friends making all the noise! Sometimes, you really piss me off!" Shinji tried his best to shrink as small as he could as the rest of the class began to laugh at him.

"God, this sucks," he muttered to himself, hoping no one else would hear. Touji and Kensuke were laughing so hard that they fell from their seats, tears pouring down their cheeks.

"What did you say!?" Asuka bellowed out, even louder than before.

"Nothing!" Shinji responded, causing even more laughter to abound throughout the auditorium. Asuka began to growl back a reply, when the teacher's voice quickly broke through the din.

"Thank you for the assistance, Ms. Soryu, but I can handle this myself, thank you!" the teacher said, a smile quickly spreading on his face. "Now I see why they call the two of you 'The Newlyweds'!" Asuka tried to jump up and respond, but Hikari's hand on her arm restrained her.

"Asuka, stop it!" she hissed, "You really need to make good marks in this class if you want to pass the year, remember?"

"Oh, yeah," the redhead mumbled before calling back to the stage. "Sorry, Mr. Sakamoto!"

"That's okay, Ms. Soryu, just don't let it happen again, okay?" Mr. Sakamoto responded genially. He was, in all honesty, the most popular teacher in the school, who devoted all his time to his students, not allowing a single one to fall to the wayside. Over the past several years, he had even been doing double duty as both the Choir director as well as the Drama teacher. That trend continued on to this day, even after the school board had finally given in and hired a new Drama teacher. As the head of the Arts Department, he was not going to turn the reins of the class over to the new teacher until he was quite sure that he was up to the task.

As for the new teacher, Mr. Masataka, he was far from pleased with the current situation. He had hoped that he would be able to jump head first into the Drama department as soon as he was hired, but working under the Choir director chaffed him, especially on a project of this size. He stood in the shadows of the stage, his arms aching from carrying the large stack of books and wishing fervently that the class could proceed.

"Can we get started, please?" he huffed as Mr. Sakamoto turned and cast a wary glance in his direction before returning his attention to the class.

"Okay class, welcome to the Drama special project, also known as the Spring Musical. As you all know, this is a class, and you WILL be learning something in this class," Mr. Sakamoto began as he motioned for several helpers to come forward and held Mr. Masataka with passing out the books at hand. "this class is worth an entire credit, so believe me when I tell you that there will be no slacking off whatsoever in this class. If you came here thinking it would be an easy grade, you were so wrong!" He smiled as he said the last part, chuckling as he heard the many moans and groans coming from the audience before him.

"That sucks!," Asuka aid a bit too loudly, causing the teacher to turn his attention back to her.

"So does a vacuum cleaner, Ms. Soryu! Mr. Ikari, would you please get your wife under control so we can begin the class?" Mr. Sakamoto said with a grin, hoping to get a reaction out of the children. He wasn't disappointed.

"WHAT?! What do you mean by that?!" Asuka bellowed as she shot to her feet once more, drawing great peals of laughter from the assembled students. "Well? What are you waiting for, Third? Aren't you going to say something?"

"I…I…I…I…" Shinji stammered as he tried to come up with something to say before Asuka could leap across the seats and murder him, "Uh, sir? She's not my wife." Asuka's jaw dropped and her eyes bugged out, not believing that Shinji couldn't come up with anything better than that.

"Grrrr," she growled as she turned back around and plopped back into her seat, just as Hikari began to give her a quiet tongue-lashing. "Humph!"

"Thank you, Mr. Ikari," the teacher began again, trying his best not to burst out in laughter. " Now back to the topic. If any of you want to drop out of this class because it's not what you wanted: Tough! Each and every one of you are mine for the next several months. As you may know, this class is very popular for some reason, so I chose each and everyone of you for specific reasons. Every one of you have a background in either music, acting, art, lighting, or sound. You ALL will be in this musical, in one form or another, and each and every one of you will be up here on this stage at sometime during the performances." There was a general murmuring throughout the crowd. Shinji sat there, shell-shocked. He had hoped to end up running the sound booth, or perhaps playing some music of some sort. But to end up on the stage?

"Okay, class, by now you all should have received your text book for the semester. Please remove them from the packaging and feast your eyes upon the spectacle we shall grace the school with this year!" Mr. Sakamoto said with glee, rubbing his hands together in ripe anticipation. His assistant merely rolled his eyes, wondering how such a buffoon could ever become a department head.

Shinji looked at the book with trepidation, and it was with trembling hands that he tore back the covering. His eyes widened in wonder as the hair on his arms and the back of his neck stood on end. What he held in his hand was more precious than gold to him. "What are the odds? How could this have happened? Is this for real?" he wondered as he gently opened the manuscript and began reading the musical note that laid themselves out before his eyes. He quickly reached into his book bag and pulled his SDAT player out, double-checking the tape within. It was the same. He couldn't believe it. He obviously wasn't alone, as the air pressure in the room dropped with the collective gasps that floated about.

"Ah, I see most of you are familiar with 'The Phantom of the Opera'. Great! This should go swimmingly, then! For those of you who are not familiar with it, and even for those who are, we are now going to show you the movie version of it to give you the gist of it. No, Mr. Suzahara, we are not going to give out popcorn! So put your hand down and sit back and relax!" the teacher said as he began to depart the stage after motioning to his assistant to dim the lights and begin the film……


"Wow! That was freaking awesome!" Touji exclaimed as he stood in line to sign up for tryouts for parts. Mr. Sakamoto had told them that despite the fact that they were all going to be in the production, the lead parts would not just be handed out willy-nilly. They had to be earned.

"I have never seen you so excited over a love story before, Touji. There may be some hope for you yet!" Hikari said as she stood behind him, causing a blush to rise to his cheeks. Shinji chuckled as Kensuke started to laugh so hard his glasses fell off.

"Er…that's not it! It's a cool action flick!," Touji stammered as he tried his best to maintain a masculine stance on the subject. "Did you see all the sword fighting and stuff? That was so cool!"

"So, what part are you going to try out for?" Shinji asked back to his friends , hoping that none of them were going to try out for his part. It was a part he always felt a kinship with, one that called to him. It was a part he knew that he didn't have a snowball's chance in hell of getting if anyone else signed up for it.

"Are you stupid?" Asuka shot back to him as she bent down to sign the sheet, " I'm trying out for the lead, idiot! Christine's part." Shinji blushed mightily as thoughts poured through his mind unbidden. His heart skipped a beat as sweat broke out on his brow.

"Me too," Hikari replied, "but if you're going for it, Asuka, I'll never have a chance! I've heard you sing."

"Karaoke doesn't count," Kensuke piped up, then managed to step back quickly enough to avoid Asuka's right fist.

"Me, I'm trying out for the Ravioli guy, the good guy who gets the girl," Touji beamed proudly, puffing his hest out and thumping it. "I'm gonna trash the Ghost dude!"

"Uh, Raoul, you mean?" Shinji asked, not wanting to correct his friend, but having to defend his favorite musical. " I'm not too sure about him being the good guy, Touji. After all, he was the one who came in and ruined the life the Phantom tried to set up for himself."

"Are you nuts?! That freak as the good guy? Did we watch the same movie, Shinji?" Touji responded, looking at his friend like he was the idiot Asuka always claimed he was.

"Only about a hundred times, now," Shinji thought to himself but held his tongue. He merely shrugged as his turn came up to sign the sheet. It was with determination that he placed his name under the Part he so fervently wished to play.

"Hey, Shinji?," Touji called out as he started to write his name down, but stopped when he saw where his friend had signed up. "Did you put your name in the right spot? I know you have confidence issues, man, but why would you want to be the bad guy? This Phlegm dude?"

"The Phantom," Shinji barked back quickly, causing most of the class to turn and stare at him incredulously. Nobody in the class had ever thought Shinji had the intestinal fortitude to sign up for the male lead. However, it was shrill laughter that caused him to pause and almost reconsider his decision.

"Shinji? The Phantom? Oh my God! That's a joke! As if that would ever happen!" Asuka cackled, tears pouring from her eyes. "Lord, could you imagine?"

"Gee, thanks for the support, Asuka," Shinji muttered has he walked passed her, nudging her slightly as he stormed off toward the exit and out the door for the long walk home.

"What the hell got into him?" Asuka wondered, slightly annoyed that he had left like he did. "When did he grow a set of balls?"

"You have hurt his feelings, Soryu," Rei said as she walked out from the line after placing her choice down, causing Asuka to jump. She hadn't even noticed the First Child in the class, let alone the line. "Even an 'emotionless doll' like myself can see that."

"Whatever," Asuka mumbled as she gathered her stuff and began the long journey back home alone, the first time in a long time. She discovered that she didn't like it very much.

End of the First Measure.