Dedication: This story in its entirety is dedicated to Larysa, who, once upon a time long ago, believed that everyone was as honest as she (even men) and thus inspired this tale.

PS (no offense to any men reading. I didn't mean to sound misanthropic or anything... I'm actually referring only to one man in particular.)

Disclaimer: Like, duh! I totally don't own the Phantom of the Opera and stuff. I DO own three copies of the original novel by Gaston Leroux (one in French! Thanks KeyKlee!) and it is on THAT which my Erik is based, not on... well... all the other versions. In this particular version you may feel that Erik is a bit out of character but... well... maybe it's Leroux who had him out of character....

Author's Note: My, it HAS been a long time, hasn't it, friends? I can't believe I have gone THIS long without posting! Of course, I haven't gone without WRITING, but my other long project can't be posted in the order in which I'm writing it, so in the meantime I can share only one-shots and other small stuff. About two weeks ago I promised a few of you I was going to post something and then I didn't. This ISN'T the piece I promised back then. I'm still working on the edits for THAT one. This is something that hit me yesterday in the shower and set me giggling so I had to put it down. This is only the first 1000 words. I know 1000 words is rather short for a post, but as my time is severely limited by my employment and family at the moment, perhaps if I post this 1000 words at a time, I can still post often enough to keep a few of you interested, I hope.

And now... The Real Don Juan Triumphant

Ah, Erik. How does one begin to describe Erik? Does one begin with his deathly face, his emaciated body, his corpse-like hands? Or shall I tell you first about the brilliance of his mind, a mind which easily grasped all the nuances of Persian, Russian and Hindi in addition to our native French and the Greek, Latin, and Italian we were required to learn, a mind which possessed so great an understanding of music that he could compose songs that moved our mothers to tears long before we were men? Or shall I tell you first of his romantic prowess, his relentless driving urge to woo and conquer nearly every woman he encountered from the plain to the magnificent, from the lowest of the poor to women so far beyond our reach that most men could not have dreamed it in their wildest fantasies? Where to begin is the difficulty for there is so much to tell, and all of it inextricably linked to all else so that where to begin might also be the best place to end. The tale of Erik is a length of rope so tangled that I might reach in and grasp any strand and find that as good a place to begin as any.

No doubt you will want to know about the Daaé girl as that story has been widely popularized, due in part to the lies I told when the young journalist came to question me. It is likely that you may also wish to hear how Erik really looked, how his voice really sounded, whether he really possessed all the talents the young journalist who wrote about him claimed he did. Regarding those talents, I say all those and more. To the sound of his voice and his physical appearance, I simply say that Christine Daaé did not lie, nor did Raoul le Vicomte de Chagny, nor did the late Joseph Buquet, whom, I should admit outright, neither Erik nor I killed. Blaming Erik allowed his family to have a normal funeral which would not have been possible had he been officially declared a suicide.

How Erik came to look as he did I never asked him, despite my many ample opportunities. Having always been a bit shy, I could not bring myself to ask the question, even as he openly joked and all but invited me to do so. All the same, I rather suppose he has always looked that way. No one in his family ever spoke of an unfortunate accident nor implied that he had ever looked any different before, nor treated him as though he were anything unusual at all. Whether Erik's unusual appearance had anything at all to do with Erik's actions would be pure speculation and rather useless as no one seemed to have the power to do anything about either one.

As I said, we might as well begin anywhere, so let us begin at the Opera. It is true that I hid in a storage room and listened when Erik gave Christine Daaé the first of their lessons, but I was not there to spy on Erik as I have previously suggested, oh no. I was there predominantly in an attempt to win a bet. Yes. A bet. It was childish, I admit. We were grown men and had been for quite some time by the time we caroused at the Paris Opera, but I suppose we were (and still are) boys at heart. Erik was boasting about his prowess when I suggested he was playing too heavily upon sympathy, that he had only one bag of tricks, which he used repeatedly. His eyes narrowed at me and I knew instantly that something would come of it, for one does not challenge Erik without result.

"Sympathy!" Erik burst out in response, and I verbally backed away.

"You do use your tears and self-loathing routine a bit often," I commented.

He lifted his chin. "Only because it is the routine that works most quickly," he said icily. He assumed the posture of an emperor. "Erik doesn't like to wait."

I snorted and he turned to me once again.

"What was that sound supposed to mean?" His voice was full of anger, but I had no fear at all. Erik should have been an actor (I daresay he might have been had it not been for his strange appearance) and is always on stage. He might have been a bit disturbed at my comment, but his reactions were always exaggerated and this time was no different. He stood very close, towering over me (I have always been short of stature) and looking down at me through narrowed slits.

"Stop," I said. I put my hand on his bony chest and gave him a gentle shove. Erik has no concept of personal space. "Erik doesn't like to wait," I mocked. "I don't think you're capable of waiting. I'm not sure you know the meaning of the word wait."

If he'd had a nose he'd have looked down it at me then. He seemed to gather himself together and he stood up very tall and looked down at me and said with all the dignity he could muster, "I am perfectly capable of waiting when it suits me. I merely choose not to." He met my eyes until I almost believed him. Then he added, "I certainly don't need the crying routine. I could woo a woman from a distance without her so much as seeing me." He paused and I could tell from his strange expression that his mind gamboled about in a pasture of fantasy. His voice grew more grandiose. "I could drive a woman to ecstasy without ever laying a hand upon her!"

I snorted again. "When has there ever been a woman upon whom you haven't laid a hand?" I retorted.

He acquiesced some. "Yes," he said, smiling. "Perhaps you do have a point there." He sighed happily. "But I could do it. If I wanted to." And here he closed his eyes and his smile spread wider.

I remained silent then, letting him fantasize. Erik's fantasies have sometimes led to our greatest exploits, so I left him alone with his thoughts. Perhaps I shouldn't have, for ultimately, it was this conversation that led to the mess that ensued with the little Daaé girl.

(Naturally, it's to be continued, if you're interested.)

My Trademark: Please review. It takes only a moment and means the world, you know! I'm working on the next bit of this already, so if folks are interested, I'll try to post again pretty soon. Thanks in advance.