A/N: Thanks so much for the enthusiastic response! Now that the story actually starts, I'd like to go ahead and remind everybody that all characters are now teenaged; don't worry – more memories will come up, but it's not all as sweet as the prologue. Just throwing that out there.

A HUGE thanks to the incomparable Ptera_Waters, who has agreed to beta this for me; she'll be taking over after this update so any mistakes in this one are all on me.

Once again, thanks to all the reviewers/readers/lurkers who favorited! With that outta the way, I'll quite yappin' and give you:

Glee

Phantasmagoria

Chapter 1: Overture

Lima, Ohio – Present Day

"It's such a strange thing – even with the furniture being different, it's like I still know where everything is in this house," Mag Evans commented as her hands trailed over the wood of Sam's bedroom door. Sam looked up guiltily from where he was stuffing clothes into his dresser.

"Are you sure that you don't need any help, mom? I'm sorry—" he began, but she waved him off.

"How many times do I have to tell you and your father? I will never allow going blind to turn me into an invalid. If I fall down, then I get up again," Mag said firmly. "Besides, now I have an excuse to cane the two of you for stepping out of line." She waved her white cane in the air menacingly, and Sam stifled a chuckle. It was true; ever since a parasitic infection had robbed his mother of her sight she'd allowed her more cantankerous nature free reign as she stubbornly taught herself to be perhaps even more self-sufficient than she already was.

"Well, if you're sure – I'm almost done packing, and Robert is already working on getting the living room set up the way it should be." One of many tricks they'd learned early on when Mag had first been released from the hospital was to have all of the furniture arranged in one way so that once she learned the layout of a room she didn't have to use her cane to move around the house as much.

"Good," she said, reaching into her pocket and pulling out some money. Another little trick; the fives were folded sideways and the tens folded lengthways so that she knew how much she was withdrawing. "Now, I want you to take the car into town and get us some ice cream from that little shop that we used to love – Eric's, wasn't it?"

"Mitch's," Sam corrected, taking the money from her.

"Oh, right," she said, smiling. "And, while you're out, I order you to have fun. Put the top down and drive for a while."

"Mom," Sam began, but she shot him a warning look.

"No matter what responsibility to your mother speech your father undoubtedly gave you, I refuse to allow you to become a shut-in caring for me while I figure the nooks and crannies of this place out again," Mag said flatly. "And remember, if I fall, I have Robert here as well as that emergency pager for you and for the hospital your father insisted on in my pocket. I'll be fine. And I don't expect you back for a good half an hour!"

"Yes, ma'am," Sam saluted smartly, and smirked as she tapped his calf warningly with her cane.

"Don't think that just because I can't see now that I don't know every one of your sarcastic tricks from over the years, Samuel Evans," she said warningly. She moved forward and trailed her hand from his chest to his face, and used her hand to guide her to kiss his cheek. "Get on out of here."

Sam kissed her back and headed out, tucking the money into his pocket.

888

Kurt slowly opened his eyes, narrowing them bitterly at the alarm clock and cursing the world as he viciously smashed the 'off' button until the blaring of that talentless whore calling herself Ke$ha was strangled into silence. If only we could be so lucky, he thought. Waking up to that wretched monstrosity known as "Tik Tok" was enough to ruin anyone's morning, in Kurt's professional opinion. Crawling miserably from the warm cocoon of blankets he'd wrapped himself in, he stumbled up the stairs and smiled to himself as he once more thanked every god and goddess he'd ever heard of that Carole Hudson was an early riser and was already making coffee for the menfolk of the house.

"Ah, Carole and Caffeina, thou art goddesses," Kurt moaned as he accepted the steaming cup that a smirking Carole handed him. Finn and Burt were already sitting at the table, the both of them blinking sleepily.

"How can you use big words this early in the morning?" Finn asked, slouching down in his chair – not that it made much difference, freakishly tall as he was.

"Because I'm better and smarter than you are," Kurt declared, sticking his tongue out childishly.

"And also smaller and more annoying," Finn shot back.

"I'm taller than everyone in glee except you and Puck!" Kurt protested. "And it's not my fault that you're an overgrown freak! If you had any green in your skin you'd be selling vegetables from the canned food section!"

"Don't talk to me about being green; you're the one with the obsession with Wicked!" Finn pointed out.

"At least my obsessions have class, you Halo zombie!"

"Lady Gaga robot!"

"The 80's called; they want their hair band member back," Kurt said meanly as he sank down in his seat.

"The 90's just called – they want their joke back," Finn returned.

"It's way too early for this," Burt moaned, cradling his head in his hands.

"You let him move back in," Carole said mercilessly as she toasted Eggos.

"That's what I said!" Kurt echoed gleefully.

"Hey! Why is no one on my side?" Finn called out, aggrieved.

"If she could, Rachel would be surgically stapled to your side," Kurt smirked.

"Could you lay off the Rachel jokes?" Finn asked, dumping heaps of butter and syrup on his waffles.

"I stopped calling her MHTG, didn't I?" Kurt said in his own defense.

"You stopped calling her what now?" Burt asked. "I thought she was just known as the Jewish Stalker?" Kurt choked on his waffle, and Finn shot Kurt a disbelieving look.

"No; she graduated to 'Man-Hands of Doom who Dresses Like a Toddler and a Blind Grandmother' in conversation," Carole informed them merrily.

"Traitor," Kurt accused, narrowing his eyes.

"Pass the syrup, dear," she said sweetly.

"She's not that bad," Finn said mulishly, stabbing at his plate.

"Her fashion sense or lack thereof really is," Kurt informed him kindly. "I am, however, making an effort in holding my tongue around her, for what it's worth."

"You're so kind," Finn said dryly.

"Yes, indeed; a forgiving soul," Burt noted.

"Fine, gang up on me. See if I lend my small flexible hands to fixing the mess that is that Trans Am's engine," Kurt said loftily.

"Keep up the threats and see who's clothing allowance gets slashed next month," Burt said warningly as his coffee started to kick in.

"Threats? Who said anything about me making threats?" Kurt said quickly, and glared as all three of them laughed at him.

888

Sam sighed as the wind ruffled his long blond hair. His father wanted him to cut it short again but he preferred it long and messy. The bright sun of the Ohio summer burned the road ahead of him as he cruised down the long, empty stretches of back roads vaguely remembered from his youth. Lima. It was so strange to be back; he hadn't been here since he was eight. His father had moved them all to New York City as soon as he could push it through, despite his mother's protests, after…

Sam pulled his thoughts away from that day and focused on trying to remember which turn past the corn fields would lead him to the town proper where he'd be able to find his way to Mitch's and snag some ice cream.

When Mag Evans had been released from the hospital, the doctors had insisted on a period of convalescence before she was allowed to perform on the stage again. She'd had Sam do a little research, and when she found out that the small manor they'd once owned in little Lima, Ohio that Sam had spent four years of his childhood in was available for sale, she'd put the down payment through before Jack could so much as offer a token protest. Sam would be finishing out at least this school year there with her, she'd announced, and that was that.

Sam had left behind Blair's Academy with few regrets. A solid, iron grey institution in Manhattan's center that had oozed money and old blood sensibilities, Blair's had been entirely his father's idea and his father's world. Sam idly pulled past William McKinley High School, wondering at the freedom of driving himself to school in a normal car in jeans and a T-shirt and not feeling like a freak for hating the façade of perfection his classmates worked so hard to perfect. Blair's was exhausting, where every friend was either a gold digger or an inheritor to their parents' snobbish neuroses, and every enemy was ready to destroy you and your reputation in moments.

Mag had only set foot in the school once before declaring it a poisonous place that crushed souls, and had flatly refused to ever perform in their much-vaunted auditorium – a fact that hadn't exactly endeared Sam to Mrs. Gottier, the drama teacher, when he'd tried out for the drama department. Not that that had stopped him; Sam had inherited his mother's voice and her flair for the stage…a fact that Jack Evans had either ignored or met with outright hostility. Singing and dancing was not a career fit for real men.

Shaking his head irritably, Sam slipped his sunglasses on and focused on the wind flowing over his face, letting himself forget the world around him. The road stretched out before him like a lover's embrace, enticing him toward freedom. Smiling so brightly he hardly recognized himself in the mirror, Sam press play on the album in the CD drive, humming along as one of his favorite songs began to play. Letting loose, he began to sing along with the trance-like melody, for once not bothering to keep his voice down.

I traded fame for love
Without a second thought
It all became a silly a game
Some things cannot be bought

I got exactly what I asked for
Wanted it so badly
Running, rushing back for more
I suffered fools so gladly

And now I find
I've changed my mind

888

Kurt drove the two of them to school in the mornings, as Finn still didn't have a car. Burt had promised to look through the classifieds and find one that Finn could afford if he started working the shop with the two of them (it was slow going as Finn had a tendency to trip and get overexcited with power tools whenever a pretty sports car pulled into the parking lot (a fact that Kurt teased him about mercilessly)). For the time being, Finn didn't really mind riding to school with Kurt, because it was helping drive his point home that he didn't care that Kurt was gay and that he wanted them to be friends or even brothers after the disastrous first week of him living in the Hummel household.

The way that Kurt always bought him his favorite drink from the tiny drive-through Starbucks outside the Lima Mall without asking told him that his efforts weren't going unappreciated. But it was while he was sipping at his Double Chocolate Chip with extra chocolate, extra whipped cream and an extra shot of espresso (Kurt never failed to sneer at him teasingly when he handed it over) that Finn heard a voice singing, powerful, beautiful, kind of unearthly. It was sort of the same sensation he had whenever he heard Kurt or Rachel reach those eerily high opera notes when they wanted to.

"Did you hear that, Kurt?" Finn asked, craning his neck out the window.

"Hear what?" Kurt asked, leaning back in from paying.

"Someone was singing," Finn explained.

"My CD player is on, Finn," Kurt said, and he turned the volume up slightly.

The face of you
My substitute for love
My substitute for love

Should I wait for you?
My substitute for love
My substitute for love

"Hey, that's the same song that I heard!" Finn pointed out, getting a little wigged out.

"Really now?" Kurt asked, glancing at him sidelong.

"No, really – it was a guy singing it!" Finn protested, starting to confuse himself.

"Finn, this is my favorite song by Madonna," Kurt said slowly. "I sing it aloud all the time; I wouldn't be surprised if you just jumbled that up."

"I…I guess…but…but," Finn spluttered, downing another dose of his drink.

"I'm thinking about stopping these morning visits to Starbucks, or at least not letting them give you that extra shot of espresso," Kurt remarked slowly.

"Hey!" Finn protested, hunching protectively over his confection of chocolatey coffee goodness, glaring.

"I've created a monster," Kurt noted with a roll of his eyes. Nonetheless, he kept singing along, his high, clear voice ringing through the air.

I traveled round the world
Looking for a home
I found myself in crowded rooms
Feeling so alone

I had so many lovers
Who settled for the thrill
Of basking in my spotlight
I never felt so happy

888

Frowning, Sam turned the radio down slightly. For a moment, he could have sworn he heard a voice matching his own, as he drove past the tiny shopping mall toward the center of town. Shaking the feeling off, he hummed along and kept singing as the bright sunlight shone down on him.

Famous faces, far off places
Trinkets I can buy
No handsome stranger, heady danger
Drug that I can try
No ferris wheel, no heart to steal
No laughter in the dark
No one-night stand, no far-off land
No fire that I can spark

The face of you
My substitute for love
My substitute for love
Should I wait for you?
My substitute for love
My substitute for love

888

Kurt met up with Mercedes and Quinn outside the steps of WMHS, hellhole that it was. His two best friends shone like bright sparks to him as he and Finn split off with a wave and a cheery "See you in glee later, bro!" from Finn.

"You two certainly look like you're doing better," Quinn said as the three of them ascended the steps and blinked as the sunlight was abruptly cut off by the closing doors.

"It's slow-going," Kurt nodded. "But at least he's not walking on eggshells around me all the time. Getting treated like you're glass that's about to break gets old fast."

"Tell me about it," Quinn complained. "I swear, if Puck doesn't start hitting on Santana behind my back again, I'm going to start freaking out."

"I never thought I'd hear the day that you'd want to get cheated on," Mercedes said. "Kurt, what d'you think of this new hat?"

"Cut off that fabric strip around the top and it works wonders for showing off that outfit," Kurt decreed. "And, Quinn, you might want to change the wording of that – I think that Brittany would have something to say about it if Santana started looking around again."

"I think it's sweet that those two are finally starting to try and be serious," Mercedes trilled, taking a nail clipper from her purse and getting to work on removing the offending zebra-striped fabric from her dark red hat.

"Oh, Santana was always serious, in a weird sort of way," Quinn said, waving her hand vaguely. "She could do whatever she wanted but the minute that anyone said or did anything around Brittany she'd cut them off at the knees."

"Santana is one of very few females in this school that genuinely frighten me," Kurt noted. "Coach Sylvester excluded of course."

"Does she even still count as a female?" Mercedes joked quietly. "I think she's a war goddess."

"Please. If anything she's the reincarnation of the Hindu goddess Kali – bringer about of the end of the world," Kurt shuddered. Quinn laughed at him meanly.

"Don't glare at me like that," she ordered him. "I was head cheerleader once too, you know; I've both been there and done that. And don't talk about her unless you're praising her, Mercedes. She has a weird ability to sort of appear behind your shoulder to eat your soul if she catches you dissing her."

The three of them caught each other glancing nervously over their shoulders and burst out laughing as they headed for their first class. And if Quinn and Kurt both happened to ignore the fact that Rachel had just gotten slushied in the face not fifteen feet away, Mercedes didn't call them on it.

"At least that's one more Argyle sweater in the trash," Kurt declared.

"Oh, like she doesn't have a puffball monstrosity waiting in her locker," Mercedes said disparagingly, tilting her hat at a better angle.

"Oh, god, puff balls," Kurt moaned, looking vaguely ill.

"And I bet it's underneath a cardigan covered with felt cats," Quinn continued evilly.

"I hate you!"

The girls just laughed.

888

Mag and Sam shared their ice cream over the breakfast nook. The kitchen was a mammoth affair, all done up in granite and stainless steel, but the tiny breakfast nook next to a picture window that overlooked the lawns was one of their favorite features. Sitting across from his mother, with no disapproving father reading the stocks and huffing impatiently, and eating ice cream while the sunlight streamed in at eleven in the morning was enough to make Sam feel like the weight of the world had been lifted from his shoulders.

Sometimes, Sam almost felt guilty over feeling so much closer to his mother than his father.

"Well, I've received a guide to your new school," she said cheerfully, breaking the silence as the spooned out portions of the chocolate confection studded with dots of marshmallow fluff. "I was surprised how quickly the were able to produce a program in Braille; apparently this school is very welcoming to the 'handicapable,'" she continued.

Sam blinked. "When did it stop being 'handicapped'?"

"Search me," Mag said with a shrug. "In any case, they have a fairly impressive arts program and they even have a new show choir that made it to regionals in their first year of being active. You might could consider trying out for it, don't you think?"

"I don't know, mom," Sam said slowly, glancing at the little brochure she was running her hands over.

"Oh, nonsense," Mag declared. "Do you remember how much fun you used to have in middle school? I thought I would cry when that theatre camp let you do Aida."

"I haven't sang on stage in years," Sam pointed out. He was almost selfishly glad that she was blind so that she couldn't see him squeeze his eyes shut, trying hard to forget the sheer joy of the applause raining down on him as he brought the house down. As soon as Sam had entered into Blair's Academy, it had been made very clear that his academics and his future on the football and fencing teams would prevent him from spending his free time in the Metropolitan's junior theatre program. Sam still remembered the disbelief and outright anger in Mr. Augrey's eyes when Sam had informed him that he couldn't be in the program any longer.

"And are you trying to imply that the son of Margaret Evans – the opera-trained son of Margaret Evans – doesn't have what it takes for an Ohio high school show choir?" Mag asked, missing nothing. "Or are you trying to say that you don't miss it?"

It wasn't really a question. Sam watched his ice cream melt.

888

Thursdays were wretched days, as far as Kurt was concerned. Good things rarely happened on Thursdays, and they were just close enough to Fridays to trick you into thinking they were the end of the school week and then making you realize that there was in fact one more day in hell before the blessed release of the weekend. So when he went in for glee practice, it wasn't with much enthusiasm; he had his headphones in and for reasons that he couldn't articulate he had "Drowned World / Substitute for Love" playing. It was a good song; he hadn't been lying to Finn when he said that it was one of his favorites of Madonna's catalogue. But it had been in his head all day, strangely enough.

Kurt jerked his head out of his daze when he saw how excited Mr. Schuester looked as he waited for them all to assemble. Kurt eyed him warily. He'd learned not to get too excited when Mr. Schuester had that look in his eye because it usually meant great things for Finn and Rachel and just about nothing but dancing and harmonizing for the rest of them.

Ever since their defeat at Regionals, Schue had been determined that they meet for at least twenty minutes at the end of the day and do runs or just have a jam session. Most of them appreciated it; glee was a good way to unwind after a long, stressful day of slushie-dodging and test-taking. But the school year was set to end in two months, and if Mr. Schuester had some big to-do planned for the end of the year Kurt wanted no part of it. This year had been in some ways the longest and the shortest of his life, and now that they could all rest assured that New Directions would continue for at least another year, all Kurt wanted was for final exams to get here so that he could focus on convincing his father that taking Carole and Finn and him on a cruise to the Bahamas (and having his own private stateroom) was a perfectly acceptable use of the influx of money the shop had been making this year since old man Pop's auto store had mysteriously burned down. (Burt maintained his total innocence. Finn was terrified.)

Naturally, Finn and Rachel were the last to arrive, staring devotedly into each others' eyes. Kurt rolled his eyes and turned to talk to Mercedes about whether or not her parents would cry foul if she went for the leather gloves that fit her hands marvelously in the mall. Quinn and Puck were talking quietly in the corner, and Kurt felt a little more assured that despite her earlier words she was pleased on how focused on their conversation Puck was. Even Brittany could acknowledge (in her own way) how puppy-like and devoted Puck had been to Quinn ever since they'd emerged from the delivery room. Mercedes was smirking at the pair of them.

"Okay, everyone!" Schue called, when everyone was seated and ready. "So, these last couple of weeks have been fun – just us, getting down with our bad selves—"

"Preach!" Artie called from the back. Even Tina rolled her eyes.

"But, I think that we need something to really focus our energies on and to build our power vocally. Show choir isn't just about singing the songs with choreography; it's about presenting music through the format of performance in order to build feeling and emotion in its audience. We may have missed our shot at Nationals this year, but that doesn't mean that we're down for the count or that we can just grow complacent waiting for next year to happen!

"Now, some of you may recall the brief attempt earlier this year to stage a school production of the Broadway classic 'Cabaret'—"

"Oh, you mean that time when everyone's favorite diva got so mad that someone other than her got a solo that she completely quit on us and left our asses flapping in the wind so that some drunk could come back?" Santana interrupted, her voice poisonously sweet. Kurt was disgusted to see Rachel actually glare at Santana as if the girl's words had offended her. He remembered that particular diva meltdown and frankly if Rachel ever tried something like that again he'd slap her across the face, Finn or no Finn.

"Ew, yeah, and that was when that creeper Sandy Ryerson came back!" Mike said, shuddering from the back. "I still have nightmares about the time he came to the locker room and offered us a rubdown with his new jock itch curing lotion."

"Dude! We all agreed to never talk about that!" Puck complained.

"Mr. Ryerson…" Finn whimpered.

Kurt, smiling evilly, shaped his hands like claws and leaned over and stage-whispered "Catophile!"

"AH!" Finn yelped, jerking away from him. "That's so not funny!"

"Yes it is," Kurt said primly. "Quinn, wasn't that funny?"

"Don't include me in your psychosis," Quinn smiled.

"I think what Mr. Schuester is trying to get across is that we as the glee club should make a group attempt at a school production," Rachel said, glaring at them all.

"Yes, Rachel, thank you," Mr. Schuester said, still staring at Kurt. Kurt smiled serenely and placed his hands on his lap. "Well, anyway, with April Rhodes' more than generous upgrades to our auditorium, the stage is set for a truly big production. With the band participating, we can also get different groups of dancers to help out, and Mercedes has assured me more than once that her church's choir is always willing to help us out like they did when we sang Madonna's "Like a Prayer." So, bearing all of that in mind, I think that we should reach for the stars. We're going to stretch all of your singing and dancing abilities to the max.

"April's helped us pay for the rights, as long as we cover the costumes and the set production and music ourselves, which shouldn't be too hard. This year, William McKinley High School will be the first ever Ohio high school in this entire area to host a junior production of…The Phantom of the Opera!"

Kurt sat still, stunned, as there was a rush of either enthusiasm (the girls), denial (Puck and Matt), or blank confusion (Finn, bless his heart). For a moment, a small smile danced across Kurt's face as his mind rushed back to a time of golden summers when a boy whose hair shone like the sun and whose smile lit up the room as they twirled around through the trees, Kurt's mother en pointe and beautiful as she twirled through the park as a gorgeous soprano's voice rang through the trees,

Think of me, think of me fondly,
When we've said goodbye.
Remember me once in a while -
Please promise me you'll try.
When you find that, once again, you long
To take your heart back and be free -
If you ever find a moment,
Spare a thought for me

We never said our love was evergreen,
or as unchanging as the sea –
But if you can still remember
Stop and think of me . .
.

Kurt was hauled out of his reverie as Rachel leapt to her feet, looking like she might wet herself as she danced from foot to foot, completely overriding everyone else as she immediately took control of everything.

"Oh, Mr. Schuester! I've always wanted to play Christine, I can't thank you enough for this! And Finn, you have to play Raoul, and I suppose that we can get Puck to play the Phantom if we can get him to strengthen his voice enough, and I suppose we can have Quinn as Meg…oh, we have to get started immediately, the set is enormous, and I suppose we'll have to cut parts of it like in Phantom: The Vegas Spectacular, and wouldn't it be interesting if we included a bit of the new sequel Love Never Dies in order to broaden the appeal? I'm sure I can get my dads to help me get advertisements all over town…"

Santana was completely ignoring her as she and Brittany spoke about something; everyone else was busy staring at Rachel as if she were a bomb about to explode. Discreetly brushing the tears from his eyes, Kurt figured that no one would notice if he quietly slipped out the door. When no one stopped him or called his name, Kurt decided that he was right. Finn could get a ride home from Puck; the two were busy trying to rebuild their friendship, anyway. Finn would understand, he hoped. At this point, he was too wrecked to care, anyway. Instead, he just went home.

888

"Are you okay, Kurt?" Finn asked hesitantly from the bottom of the stairs.

"I'm fine, Finn," Kurt said calmly, glancing up from the book that he was reading.

"Your book is upside down," Finn pointed out.

"So it is," Kurt acknowledged. Why Finn had to be so damn insightful one moment and utterly oblivious the next was one of life's many mysteries that Kurt found himself grappling with ever since the Hudsons had moved into the Hummel household. Finn cocked his head like a dog and just stared at Kurt with those big brown eyes until Kurt finally abandoned the pretense and set the book down. "I really am okay, Finn; I'm just upset about things that I have no business being upset about."

"I thought that you'd be really psyched about it all – I mean, you love that movie," Finn pressed, carefully setting foot in the basement. Ever since the Gaga incident, as it had come to be known, Finn was somewhat hesitant about overstepping his bounds in the new sibling-like relationship he and Kurt were fumblingly developing, and it was unusual for either of them to intrude on the other's personal bedroom. Usually if they were trying for brother time they'd stay in the living room or head out to the garage or the lawn.

"Play, Finn – "The Phantom of the Opera" is a Broadway play," Kurt corrected automatically. "And it isn't that, in so many words."

"Well…is it about Rachel? Because I don't want you two to be fighting again," Finn said, looking awkward. Kurt had to give it to him; discussing Finn's girlfriend with the boy who used to have a flaming crush on him for most of his high school career took guts.

"It…isn't that, Finn." Kurt sighed as he stood up, crossing so that he and Finn were standing across from each other. "It's that, this play was the first musical I ever heard. It was my mother's favorite, and I always used to dream that in some fairytale land I'd get a chance to play Christine, even though she's a girl. And I know that I'll never be able to, for multiple reasons. And it doesn't really help that Rachel's personality won't let her not hold it over everyone's heads that she was Mr. Schuester's first and only choice to play Broadway's most iconic soprano."

"You really miss your mom, lately, don't you? Sometimes when you come down here to listen to those old plays that your dad doesn't like you look like you've been crying." Kurt stared at Finn, shocked, until, to Finn's shock, he collapsed on his bed and started crying. After a moment, Finn awkwardly sat down next to him and draped an arm over Kurt's shoulder.

"I'm sorry," Kurt said after a moment. "I don't know why I've been thinking about her so much lately. And please don't think it's about your mom; I love Carole, I think she's amazing, and I'm so glad that she and my dad are so happy, but…"

"You want your mom back," Finn said softly. "Sometimes, when Burt and I are watching football, I'll close my eyes during the commercial breaks and pretend that it's actually my dad sitting there, instead of Burt, even though I don't really remember him." They were silent for a long while, watching the sun creep down from Kurt's windows.

Songs used in this chapter:

A snippet from "Think of Me," Christine's opening aria from Phantom. A note for this story – if you're trying to compile a playlist, the easiest thing to do is to cull the songs from the Highlights album, as I'll be unlikely to take lyrics from the tiny, smaller sections in the sweeping Broadway score. If I do, I'll likely take them from the movie soundtrack as the double-disc of that soundtrack broke them up into smaller sections than the huge numbers from Broadway; however, I am an enormous Sarah Brightman fan and when I listen to Christine I think of her.

"Drowned World / Substitute for Love" by Madonna. I would just like to point out that this actually is my favorite song by her, and this album, Ray of Light, is IMHO her greatest album (not to mention her greatest live tour). It's a very atmospheric thing, sort of like an opera in and of itself, and the feelings that it evokes are good for this story, so don't be surprised if more songs from this album show up in here (most likely, "Mer Girl" will at least make an appearance…spoiler! Nyah!)

One additional warning: while I adored the Phantom sequel "Love Never Dies", I completely understand the people that don't. I don't anticipate that I'll be using many songs from there, but there are one or two that I most likely will, so if that offends you I apologize in advance.

Oh, and the "Catophile" thing is a sort of inside joke between me and my also "Phantom"-obsessed friend; he wanted it in and I thought it was funny. If you don't get it I apologize for confusing you, but fear not – it's definitely not important.

A/N: So, thoughts? Songs of praise? Death threats? Next chapter, Sam will be having his first day at school, so we've that to look forward to. Also, for those of you who've guessed which musical character inspired Sam's mother, while I love that character and have borrowed some things about her appearance (and her singing ability), that's really the only homage I'm making; don't expect any crossovers from this story. And no, for those who haven't guessed by the end of this chapter, I won't give it away till you guess! What? I'm allowed to try to engage my bored audience…right?

Thanks for reading, and see you all next time!