A/N: If you are reading this, then you must be a Phantom of the Opera fan. Welcome to my first fanfic! For the record, constructive criticism will always be allowed, but please do not be too harsh. This is my first fic, after all.

Summary: Erik escapes from the Opera House the night the chandelier crashes, but ultimately fails to resist the temptation to return. What will happen when Erik revisits the catacombs of the Paris Opera House? RC, eventual EC. Based on the 2004 movie.

Disclaimer: Do I own Phantom? *Bursts into laughter* Are you kidding? If I owned Phantom, this story wouldn't even exist!

And now, here is A Visit From the Past: Chapter 1!

Chapter 1: The Phantom of the Opera

The sweet harmonic sound filled his ears as his hands traveled with a fluent ease over the keys of the organ, almost soothing him in a way that only reminded him of the one he loved with his entire being, and the one he was so desperately trying to forget. And though he tried, time and time again, he failed hopelessly.

He had never expected to forget her completely - he was far past the point of no return to think that he could. He'd made it that way; but the pang of disappointment stung him more and more every time failure knocked on his door, like a flaming sword being driven through his chest again, and again, and again...

His fist came down hard on his pride and joy, causing a loud eerie sound to emanate from the instrument. The sound bounced back to him off the cave walls, and it was only then that he remembered where he was.

After that infamous night all those months ago, the night the chandelier had fallen, the night the Opera House had burned, the night he still thought to be the night when he had lost everything - he'd fled; he'd disappeared in the hopes of remaining a free man, and he'd succeeded; of course he had, for that was what he did, wasn't it? He ran, and he hid, darkness being his only companion.

But the longing to revisit the Paris Opera House had grown stronger with each passing day in hiding, and soon, it was all he could think about. How much he missed calling it home - if one such as him could call it that.

Now here he was: he had come back to the only place that had ever come close to feeling like a real home to him. And what did he feel? Empty, lifeless, alone... Just as he had all those months ago.

So was it really any different? Was there really any point in coming back, in being there?

No one answered the questions; he'd become used to the silence he received every time he asked one, whether spoken aloud or not. For who would answer him?

No one: He was alone.

There was only one that could hear his pleas for answers, for help: Him, and Him alone. And did He provide any answers? No. But, he reminded himself, it was He who cursed you with such a repulsive disfigurement for half of a face, who abandoned you. He is the last you should expect any sort of answer from.

He lifted a hand to the right side of his face and felt the porcelain mask that resided there. This was his greatest shield. It hid his scarred and warped flesh well from the cruelty of the world. It was the only thing that reminded him of what lay beneath, and sometimes - if he was lucky - he even forgot it was there. But wearing it for long periods of time only made the pain worse, both the physical and the emotional. It was an aching reminder of how she had feared his unmasked face, though it was exactly that fear that had caused the monster to stir within him, to want nothing more than to be loved by her, and love her just as much in return.

But, in truth, she was not his to love.

It was like time catching up to him when he had come to find she loved another, better man. And he had not come to blame her for it. He'd only blamed her lover, her warm Vicomte, for the feelings she shared with him... and he still did.

It was likely that the two were somewhere far from Paris, engaged to be married, if not already. He had no doubt that the young De Chagny would make her happy and give her everything she asked for. But would they be able to stay bound together against the test of time?

Or would he have been better for her? Give her love, music, and anything else he could possibly afford give her?

He shook his head, trying to clear the thoughts. They were the exact reasons why he wanted to rid himself the capability to think. He knew that dwelling on something that poisonous to his mind - perhaps as smoke was to the lungs - would only send him back over the edge and down into the depths of his own personal underworld. Swimming inside his mind was another thing he'd forbidden himself to do, just another thing to be added to the long mental list of failures.

He rose from the organ bench to see exactly what damage had been done to his home in his absence. He hadn't paid much attention to anything besides the instrument that could soothe the aching in his chest . . . if only for a moment.

As he'd made his hurried escape from the Opera House eight months ago down one of its many secret passages, he had clearly heard the sound of splashing water and voices of men shouting behind him. He'd known it was the mob, and what they'd been after:

Him.

The corners of his mouth twitched in amusement as he imagined them searching endlessly, only to find that he had already made his departure. Had they been disappointed, or relieved? Or had it been possible to feel both?

And the thought of the managers losing the fame they had worked so hard for, losing all the money in exchange for repairs (if they had had the sense to make any) almost made him smile for the first time in a long time.

Almost. But it just wasn't enough.

Then his mouth curved into a frown when he thought of the precious things the fools might have gotten their hands on.

The one thing he knew hadn't been touched was his organ. Every single piece of sheet music he had written on still resided in their normal place upon it. Besides an inch or so of dust on the top, it was in exactly the same perfect condition as it had always been.

The shattered mirrors had been his own doing, so that did not count. The candles he had relit were still in their candelabras, and even the figure he'd made of the woman he loved seemed to be in exactly the same position in which he had left it. Everything seemed as it should be. The only place left to look was the room in which he wondered if the swan bed still remained.

He took the spiraled stone stairs that led up to the abandoned room two at a time. He stopped when he reached the top where curtains the color of blood hid the room from his grey-green eyes.

Would it be recognizable when he pushed back the velvet material? Would it be the same room in which he'd once dwelled?

He slowly reached out and pushed the curtains aside, revealing the room that lay behind it.

The bed was still there, not that he cared much for it anymore. It only brought back the memory of when she had come back to give him the ring. She'd pressed it into his hand, given him an apologetic look, and left him to drown in his own hot tears. It had been the same ring he now had on a small gold chain around his neck.

As much as he had forbid himself to think of that night, or anything to do with it, his efforts had failed from the beginning. He'd given in. After slipping the ring on the chain, he'd fastened it around his neck. He'd never taken it off, secretly believing that if he kept it close to his heart, if he kept her close to his heart, she would come back to him one day.

That moment she'd left him would always be the longest and most crushing moment of his life. He'd closed his eyes to prevent the tears from falling, but somehow, they'd slipped through his defenses. Then the truth that she was really gone for good had sunk in with a blow worse than anything he had ever experienced. And though he wished not to dwell on it, the memory did seem to occupy his thoughts quite a lot.

That memory, and the one when she had kissed him only to save her true love. . . .

Looking around the room, he could see that nothing looked out of place, but there was something tugging at him, he was missing something. . . .

And then he noticed what it was: the mob must have taken one of his masks. The one he remembered leaving was gone, along with the music box, it seemed. The mask on his face was another he'd fetched from one of the secret passages on the night he had fled. He'd placed it there long ago in knowing that he might need a replacement one day.

But had that been all? They had taken nothing else, destroyed nothing else? In a way, he was disappointed. He had hoped they'd touched something of significant importance, like his organ, just so he had a reason to track down and strangle every last one of them. They would only be getting what they deserved, after all, for invading his home.

And perhaps the bloody patron who had stolen his beloved's heart deserved the same. The man might have already been dead, had he not known her feelings for the younger man. Even that night after they had performed Don Juan, he knew that, in the end, he would not have been able to kill him. Her pain would have become his, had he watched her scream pleadingly for him to stop. He would have, had she told him to. He was at her mercy, he realized. It was clearly not the other way around as he had thought.

He sighed angrily. Was there anything he would not do for her? She would be the death of him, he was sure. Somehow, some way, she would be.

And what would he do now? He was back to where everything had started, where it had all ended. Was he to wait down in the catacombs of the Opera House until someone stumbled upon his home and found him? That was a risk. But he could just disappear again, right? Do what he did best. But running and hiding were not things he wished to do with the remaining years of his life: He had already done it so many times before. Maybe that's why he had come back. It was a permanent place for him to live, or at least it had been until eight months ago. And now . . . ?

Perhaps he could just stay one night. Sleep in a place that was familiar to him for once. Although, he preferred not to sleep much. But, if he decided to stay awake throughout the evening hours, there were so many things that could bring back memories from the past...

Then maybe sleep was the best option. He could escape reality for a few hours, be consumed by the darkness - if sleep came easily.

But he would not dream of her.

He slowly and carefully peeled off his mask and crossed over to the bed. He let himself fall into it and become buried in the satin sheets. He closed his eyes when he felt the ring dig into the skin of his chest, wishing for just a moment that he could see her again. Just one more time, and then he would be able to go on living without her. . . .

He groaned; lying to himself could only make things worse.

Sleep would be a test for him, and a difficult one at that. Could he dream without waking and wanting to die to rid himself of the pain, just as every other night had been?

When he, the Phantom of the Opera, had slept alone.

So what do you think? Let me know in a review! Hope you enjoyed it! :)