Disclaimer: Sadly, I do not own Phantom of the Opera or any of the characters. Leroux, Webber, Kay, etc. have dibs on the characters. :'-( Personally I would fight any one of them for Erik. :-)
A/N: Bonjour, dear readers! This is my first dalliance with Phanfiction, I generally write originals, but this one popped into my head and I thought I'd give it a shot. :) I mean, c'mon, Erik and Christine are just begging for the teacher-student thing to be explored.
Please note that this is a modern AU, so while I keep with the POTO premise/inspiration, I have a bit of creative leeway, too. For instance, Erik will be tamer; as his life was different (he did not run away as a child and get nabbed by a freak show, for example) the result also has to be different. He should still be awesome, however, unless I miss my mark. ;) Also, it is not set in Paris, but New York City instead, because why not? :) My Christine… well, I'm keeping close to Emmy Rossum's Christine, because I liked hers most.
The first day back to school was always a little hectic.
As Christine Daaé made her way from her exhausting comparative religion class to the music department for her music theory class, she clutched her syllabus in one hand, coffee in the other, tried to hold her arm full of books without spilling the coffee, and had the audacity to believe she could also answer her cell phone.
"Hello?" she answered, managing to get the phone on her shoulder and barely touching her ear.
"Hey!" her best friend, Meg Giry, replied. "Are we going to meet for lunch?"
"Well, it's nearly noon, and isn't that the conventional lunch time?"
"Probably for someone who isn't about to go to her music theory class. I probably wouldn't be able to meet you until around 1:30…"
"Boo. I have a class at 1:45. I thought you decided not to take that music theory class."
"Yeah, well… I figured that since I still have so many open electives, I could take just this one class. It's not like I'm going to switch majors or anything, but this class… the time fit well with my other classes, and… Sara Borelli did tell me that the instructor is pretty laid back, so it shouldn't be too hard."
"Ugh, she's such a skank; why do you talk to her?"
Vaguely grinning, Christine said, "Hey, she has fun stories. Anyway, I am about… a centimeter away from losing my hold on my books, and I really don't want to be late to class…"
"You're such a goody goody, Christine. You're allowed to be late to class the first day. Just say you couldn't find the room."
"I'll call you when I get home, you can tell me about class before I have to go to work."
"You have to work on top of that? It's the first day back to school; we may never have another homework free Monday night."
"It is Monday night," Christine reiterated. "We'll go out Friday."
"Fine. I'm staying at your place though; my roommate is bulimic and she has this penchant for midnight snacking. All we need is her vomit smell radiating around the apartment when we're trying to let loose."
Grimacing, Christine said, "Wow, thank you for that."
"Anytime," Meg said cheerfully. "Talk to you later!"
Christine said goodbye and lifted her head, trying to drop the phone gracefully on top of her books, but missing altogether and dropping it on the ground.
Growling a little at herself, she tried to reposition all of her stuff so she could bend down and get her phone. Eyeing the people shuffling past her, she wondered if there was any possibility that one of them wouldn't trample her the moment she tried. It seemed to her that coffee was going to end up all over her one way or another.
"Christine Daaé?" a voice said from several feet away.
Glancing up into the grinning tanned face of a guy she didn't immediately recognize, she merely frowned at the fact that he knew her name.
The blonde haired man bent down and retrieved her phone for her, holding it out but raising his eyebrows at the stack of books in her arm. "Wow, have you considered investing in a messenger bag?"
"I'm sorry, do I know you?" she asked, not meaning to be rude, but lacking the time to deal with some random guy trying to make her late to class.
"Ouch," he said, dramatically clasping his hand to his heart. "You wound me, Dorothy."
Her eyebrows shot up again, and for a split second she thought perhaps the man had lost his mind.
Then she did a quick overview of his face once more, the blue eyes, the too-smooth good looks…
Gasping triumphantly, she said, "I remember you now! You're the scarecrow!"
"I must not be as memorable without the straw hat," he said gravely.
"Wow," she said, absently looking him over again. They had been 11 the last time she saw him, and she couldn't believe he had even remembered her. Raoul Chagny had been in that awkward stage of life where he was too tall, his head was too big, his limbs were too thin, and his voice was just entering that uncomfortable cracking period. He had been as gawky as she had been, with her braces and her frizzy brown curls. The years had been kinder to both of them; Raoul had developed muscle and matured into a rather nice form, while Christine also grew into her body, lost the braces, and discovered hair products as well as the magical straightening iron.
"How have you been?" he asked.
"I'm… I've been… I'm okay," she said, awkwardly shaking her head as she tried to clear up her mental confusion. "I can't believe you recognized me. I haven't seen you since we were in The Wizard of Oz together, and I do like to think that I look different…"
"Oh, no doubt about it," he said, giving her an appreciative but respectful once-over. "You look amazing. I don't know how I recognized you either, but how could I ever forget my first kiss?" he asked with a little wink.
Laughing a little, she had a flash of memory and she saw her 11-year-old self standing behind the community theater's set for Dorothy's house and Raoul leaning in and giving Christine her first kiss. It had been awkward, they had both turned as red as apples, and when the "crows" came to drag them out onto the stage Raoul had become so nervous he forgot his lines.
It wasn't the stuff of romance, but it really was memorable. The experience in and of itself had been enough to end Raoul's stage career last she heard.
"Did you ever get over your fear of the stage?" she asked, grinning.
"Definitely not," he replied, shaking his head. "I gave up drama and switched over to sports. No lines to remember that way."
"That's too bad. You made a good scarecrow."
"Eh, I didn't make such a bad jock, either. Too bad we didn't go to the same school, you could have come to my games," he said with a little wink.
"Yeah, sure," she agreed lightly, knowing that she would sooner pluck out her eyelashes than sit through a sporting event of any kind.
"Well, hey, we go to the same school now," he pointed out. "I'm on the basketball team and the football team; you should catch one of my games sometime."
"Oh yeah, totally," she lied, nodding enthusiastically.
"Well, I should probably get to class," he said, although with another once-over, he looked reluctant to walk away. Then, as if a light bulb went off over the scarecrow's head, he said, "Hey, why don't I give you my number and we could grab a bite to eat sometime and catch up."
"Um… yeah, sure, we could do that," she said, mentally noting that he wanted her to call him when she felt that it should be the other way around.
Since he was still holding her cell phone, he simply opened up her menu and put himself into her contacts.
Adding to the mental note that he seemed not to respect other people's privacy, she already decided she wasn't going to call him.
"Mind if I call my phone so I have yours?" he asked.
"Nope, not a bit," she replied passively.
"Great," he said, offering a cute little grin and then calling his phone. When it started vibrating, he grabbed his phone and entered her name into his.
She noticed he wasn't carrying any books, but she didn't have the time or inclination to inquire as to why. Instead she merely took the phone, crushing it under her books and said, "Thanks. Well, I've got to get to class, so I'll see you around."
"Yeah, definitely," he said with a nod. "I'll call you later."
"All right," she returned, already heading off toward her class.
Unfortunately, her run-in with Raoul ran her behind schedule, and she tried to run to catch the elevator, but she just missed it. The students packed inside watched her run toward it, didn't bother to hold the door for her, and then watched as the doors shut in her face. Since waiting for the elevator would take too much time, she went for the stairs. By the time she reached the hallway with her music room, she had sloshed coffee all over her class schedule and her hand, so she couldn't read the room number. There were two occupied classes among the three rooms that she knew it might be, and her first guess was room 353. Peeking her head inside, a woman standing at the podium turned toward her as she was talking—already going over the syllabus, Christine realized with a sinking heart—and she paused, allowing Christine an opportunity to ask if she was in the right room.
"I'm sorry. Is this fundamentals of music theory?"
Shaking her head, the woman pointed toward the hallway and said, "That's room 355—and you better hurry; he has no tolerance for tardiness, even on the first day."
With a vague groan, Christine withdrew from the room and practically sprinted two doors down. The class room wasn't quite full, but the class itself still had a few openings, and she saw the man she presumed to be the professor walking across the front of the room. His door was already closed, and when she opened it, naturally the thing just had to squeak, drawing even more attention to her late entrance.
Grimacing, she squeezed inside and shut the door behind her.
The professor pointedly ceased talking and turned toward her.
"I'm sorry," she said, barely able to find her voice as she averted her face away from his rather intense golden brown gaze. "I went to the wrong room."
"Have a seat Miss Daaé or Miss Montez."
"Daaé," she supplied.
With a vague grunt, he marked something down on his paper. "As I mentioned two minutes ago when this class started, tardiness is not appreciated in my classroom. If you are late to my class two more times, you lose a letter grade, and I don't offer extra credit."
Sinking down into the first empty seat she saw, Christine gave an apologetic nod. Strangely enough, even though it wasn't the first thing she noticed about the professor, she realized as she looked up at him that he was wearing a mask. The professor was a tall man with nearly black hair, and while the left side of his face was composed of a sternly slanted black eyebrow, a rather unique golden hued eyes, high, well-formed cheekbones, slightly irregularly shaped lips, and strong jaw, the right side of his face was completely covered with a skin colored mask, only his eye visible through the hole.
"As I was mentioning when Miss Daaé arrived, those of you taking this class as an elective may want to reconsider. I generally don't instruct students on such a low level; I am filling in this semester as the previous instructor of this class passed away at the end of summer, and no replacement has been appointed yet. In the event that you'd like to see me again after this semester, I also teach a chromatic harmony and counterpoint class regularly, as well as working with the school's orchestra and singing department. All of my other students are serious about music and they are more than willing to dedicate themselves. This class will not be an easy A. We are not going to learn our way around the scales and then spend the rest of the semester listening to Mozart and writing reflections. You will be expected to keep up, attend class—this is in your syllabus, but three absences will also result in a lost letter grade unless you have a doctor's note or death certificate—and complete all of quizzes and homework assignments on time. I do not grade on a curve. I do not accept late assignments. You will get whatever grade you earn. Homework, in one form or another, will be given each class—if you've passed your math classes already, you've probably surmised that this means you will have three assignments minimum per week, and since we're lucky enough to have a class on Friday, I will probably give you more involved homework to complete over the weekend."
One brave—or stupid—soul in the back of the class groaned.
The teacher's gaze snapped to that student and even three minutes in knew his name. "Mr. Franklin, is that going to be a problem? If it is, you may save us all the time and trouble and leave class now."
Turning in her seat, Christine saw that the kid looked like he really wanted to, but he probably didn't want to walk past the teacher, so instead he meekly shook his head and murmured, "Nope, no problem."
"Good," the professor said, walking over to the table and stopping in front of Christine.
Gulping, she wondered if he was going to yell at her again.
Instead, he placed three stapled yellow sheets in front of her and said, "Now, we'll finish going over the syllabus very briefly, but I will expect you to read it thoroughly on your own time. I suspect this will be the last time I see many of you, so if you already know you're going to drop the class, I request that you do not write on the syllabus, and drop it off on the table on your way out."
Staring at the back of his head as he picked up a marker and began to write something on the white board, she thought that she had probably picked a bad semester to take that particular elective.
"As I have written on the board and at the top of your syllabus, my name is Dr. Erik Destler, but you may call me Erik rather than Professor Destler. It is hard to take anyone seriously when their name rhymes."
At that point the door opened again and Erik turned to face a girl with pink, black and blonde hair, a lip piercing, and her bag slung carelessly over her shoulder. She glanced up as she walked in, not even offering an apology, and strutted to the back of the room.
"Carlotta Montez?" Erik questioned.
"Yep," she said, somehow inserting attitude into even that single syllable.
His lips curved into a smile and he said, "Well, I won't bother repeating what you've missed, because I imagine this is the last time we will be seeing each other. In the unlikely event that I'm wrong and you do show up on time Wednesday, everything you need to know can be found in the syllabus, which you will be required to read very thoroughly."
Finished with that, Erik picked up two copies of the yellow packet, walking one back to Miss Montez's seat and keeping one for himself, and then he went on.
"Flip to the next page of your syllabus and we will talk about my grading scale."
Stifling a sigh, Christine turned the page.
Between class and work, Christine tried to squeeze in the interval worksheet that Erik had given the class for homework. A good chunk of her trek home was spent considering whether or not she should drop the class. Had she actually required the class, it would make sense to keep it, but since the class was only an elective she wasn't sure that she should stick with it. The professor seemed very demanding, highly unforgiving, and he had told all of them in no uncertain terms that if they weren't serious about music they would probably be miserable in the class.
It wasn't that Christine wasn't serious about music. Originally, as a young girl, her dream had been to pursue music and performing arts. She learned to play the piano at a young age, took ballet and tap lessons, and participated in community theater. Her father had taught her the basics of playing the violin, and her mother had assured her that music was a nice hobby.
However, her parents had urged her to be realistic. Pursuing music as a career was extremely competitive, extremely difficult, and if it didn't turn out the way she wanted it to, it would be a sad waste of money.
Her freshman year she filled her schedule with general education requirements and called herself undecided.
Unfortunately, she was entering into her sophomore year and she was still undecided. There were still courses she needed to take, so she had loaded her schedule up with the required courses again and tossed in the music theory class and a music humanities class just to tease herself. (They were also, conveniently, prerequisites to majoring in music.) Once the semester was over, she would try to be decided on a more realistic major so that in the spring she could begin taking classes in her own concentration.
She just needed to figure out what else she wanted to do.
Her friend Meg was lucky; even though her dream of being a dancer was also very competitive and far-fetched, her mother had encouraged her, so Meg was completely supported in pursuing her dream as she majored in dance.
Christine understood her mother's point, however.
That didn't mean she had to like it.
By the time Christine made it to work, she had already decided not to drop the class. She had a comparative religion class, fundamentals of music theory, music humanities, elementary Spanish, and course in human biology that she wasn't extremely excited about. If she dropped music theory, she would have to find a class at the same time to replace it.
Besides, Christine was a good student; no strict professor of music was going to scare her off.
A/N: Just a little intro to the idea, I already have plans for the next few chapters, so if you guys like it, let me know to keep going! :)