Disclaimer: None of the characters from any incarnation of Phantome of the Opera belong to me. Any musicals, plays or places referenced by me are the property of their respective owners. I am making no money off the utilization of anything with a copyright.

No, not at my shoes, don't look at my shoes, I hate these fucking shoes!

Why'd I pick theses shoes, why'd I pick this song, why'd I pick this career, why -

Does this pianist hate me?

-The Last Five Years

If she thought that listening to people who were in more dire audition straits than her would be remotely helpful in relaxing her nerves Christine was wrong. Dead wrong. Hella wrong. So wrong she was fairly positive that she would never be right ever, ever again. So Christine shut off her iPod and lifted her eyes from her own shoes (shoes that she actually really liked) for the first time to look up at some aspect of the campus that wasn't a beautifully manicured lawn.

The building itself was beautiful. That was really all Christine could think of as she approached the grand edifice (she wasn't so much given to flowery language, but 'grand edifice' seemed to be the way to go when describing this structure). It was known as the Fine Arts Center, but that really didn't do the place justice. It looked more like...a church than a theatre. Or maybe a temple. With its big Greek columns and domed roof, it was kind of like the Parthanon, but stuck in the middle of a college campus in southern New England. The juxtaposition of wandering college students, great shady trees lining the road and the big old temple-thing made for a strange, surreal sort of environment. Christine wasn't sure whether or not she really liked the odd prettiness of the building. For someone who pretty much lived in and out of concert halls her entire life, one would think that being faced with yet another ornate, overdone auditorium turned art monument would be routine at this point. No such luck.

If it had been some square building with too many windows, then that might have been okay, some modern monstrosity that was all gleaming and sleek and 21st century, yeah, she could deal with that. This place just made her feel inadequate. In her flats, neat skirt and argyle sweater, she had never felt more out of place in her life. Why, oh why, oh why had she decided to go to an arts school that required auditions? Her safety school had a theatre major, one that didn't require auditions, but her Dad had to go and gently remind her that if she really wanted to devote the rest of her life to the arts, she would be constantly auditioning and wouldn't it be nice to get some practice?

Yeah, right. Practice. How had she come to this point, again?

It's sad to say, but it all started with Annie.

Like most little girls growing up in the early 1990s, Christine had caught one too many reruns of the Aileen Quinn version on television. And like many little girls, full of the defiance of youth and many parental assurances that she was the prettiest, most special, most talented little girl in the world, she thought, watching the orphans prance across the screen, belting at the tops of their lungs, I can do that.

But now it was a different world, much less cozy than dancing slightly off-beat on her living room rug (for all that her vocal instructors praised her singing ability, Christine had never quite managed to work out dancing without falling down). Nope. Now she had somehow gone from staring at green grass to beige columns, to sitting in some sort of holding cell with marble floors and vaulted ceilings. A less savvy person than she might call this place the "lobby," but Christine wasn't fooled. It was a torture chamber, cleverly disguised with crown moldings and innocuous, gilded signs that said things like, 'Box Office' and 'Restrooms.' Clearly code for 'Waterboarding' and 'Iron Maiden.'

Christine had a mild tendency toward temporary insanity when she was nervous. And dear god, was she ever nervous. Glancing around the lobby did nothing to alleviate those nerves and looking at her fellow auditionees was not remotely helpful since she was surrounded by girls who were ten times prettier than her, with apparently twice the dancing ability and she just kind of wanted to crawl into a hole and die. What was she doing there, again? And, why, oh why, did she pick a song from The Music Man? Really, she might as well have gone with "Everything's Coming Up Roses" - oh wait. No, even better, "Tomorrow." Yeah. She should have gone with "Tomorrow," it would spare her the indignity of actually singing. The accompanist would look at the sheet music and laugh and then the program manager will laugh and everyone else in the lobby would laugh and then the building itself would quake with laughter and fall down on top of her and Christine, knowing her luck wouldn't even be granted the dignity of a quick death, she would just be paralyzed from the eyeballs down and not even able to sing anymore which would probably be for the best, since she sucks anyway -

"Daee. Christina Daee."

Oh shit. She was up.