When I woke, I was still in horrible pain and upon opening my eyes, I found that I was lying in a strange bed in a strange room. White ceiling, white walls...everything around me was white! Apart from that, the room was equipped with a table, two chairs and there was also a wardrobe in the corner right next to the door.
That was neither a hotel room nor my lair...
I was in hospital but how had I come here?
The last thing I knew was that we were at the ice cream parlor, my head hurting as hell and I admittedly should have stayed in bed but I couldn't remember going to the hospital voluntarily. I hated hospitals and usually avoided going there quite successfully, no matter how much pain I might have had.
Surely my Christine wasn't strong enough to carry me there on her own.
My angel was at my bedside, holding my hand and as I lifted my head from the pillows, I found Gustave fast asleep beside me, one arm wrapped around my chest.
"Christine," I whispered, making sure not to wake my son.
"Erik, how do you feel?"
"My head is killing me." I groaned, pressing my eyes closed in agony.
"My poor angel," She said, caressing my cheek.
"Angel, what happened?"
"We were at the ice cream parlor when you suddenly collapsed. I had no idea how I should bring you to the hospital on my own but luckily your old friend was there too and offered to help me." She told me
My old friend?
There were no old friends that I could think of...
The only sort of friends I ever had were the Giry's. Meg was working for me and whenever I saw Madame Giry, she was busy confronting me with how Christine was all I would ever think of. Apart from that, she never failed to remind me of how much she had done for me by helping me escape the mob ten years ago and how she and Meg helped me finance my park. I didn't force them to help me, did I?
"My friend?" I questioned, trying to think of who that alleged old friend could be.
"Yes, promised to come and visit you tomorrow and he said would be happy to see you again."
"I don't have any old friends, Christine. He must be mistaking me for someone else."
The shah, the police of Paris and Raoul were the only ones who could be interested in see me again... But the fop thought me dead and so I could only pray it had nothing to do with the shah and neither the police of Paris.
"I'm sure it will be fine, he seemed to be friendly." My angel told me, smiling.
Oh, great – what could possibly happen when the person was nice? Surely no friendly person could be working for the shah or the police...
That was when the door opened and the doctor came walking in.
"Ah, Mister Y, nice to see you are awake." He said, approaching my bed "How are you feeling?"
"I'm perfectly fine." I groaned in agony.
"Miss Daaé, would you mind waiting outside while I will check on Mister Y again?"
"That's not necessary! I-"
"Sir, why don't you leave that for me to decide?" he suggested.
That insolent idiot of a doctor! Didn't he know who I was? If the hospital was mine, I had fired him straight away!
I shot a warning glance at the doctor and was about to yell at him when my angel rose to her feet.
"It's fine." She agreed, lifting my sleeping son up in her arms "We will wait outside."
"Thank you, Miss Daaé."
My angel nodded and headed towards the door.
"I love you, angel " She whispered as she stood in the doorway.
"And I love you." I whispered, causing her to smile and then she left, closing the door behind her.
Seeing my angel smile still sent me to heaven! Oh, how I loved my beautiful Christine!
The doctor tried to hide it, but I could see that he was wondering how someone as beautiful as my angel could ever love something as hideous as me. I still didn't understand that either, but what did he care? It was his job to medicate patients not judging them!
"Right then, I will change the bandage on your cheek to keep it clean and to reduce the risk of inflammation."
He had just removed the bandage when a nurse walked in to assist him. She wasn't expecting to see the monstrosity of my face for she backed away the moment she set eyes upon it. Luckily for her, she didn't scream or else I would have had to silence her violently!
The doctor thanked her and sent her out of the room, pretending she had more work to do.
"Mister Y, I have to apologize for her." He said.
"She'd better not chatter around about it!" I warned him.
"You have my word that she won't, Sir." He assured me "Everyone who is working in this hospital being subject to medical confidentiality.
Sure, when it came to injuries or diseases of any kind, but did medical confidentiality include patients with strange-looking faces? I wasn't too sure about that, but she surely would regret it if she chose to spread rumours about the mysterious Mister Y anyway.
"Sir, I know you won't like it but-" he started, examining the wound on my cheek.
"What is it?" I questioned "Will that scar disfigure me?"
Instead of answering he used a swab, gently dabbing off the stitches on my cheek, causing me to flinch.
Of course he avoided answering! What should he have said? No, Sir, you will be as handsome as ever?
"This particular part of your face is extremely sensitive, which means the risk of the wound becoming inflamed is much higher. Applying a new bandage would only extend the healing process unnecessarily and so would wearing your mask. I would therefore advise you not to put it back on until the wound is completely healed." he explained and seemed extremely careful not to use words such as deformed, mostrous or hideous.
What was he suggesting? My mask had been a part of me ever since I could think and there was no point in changing that. No, I wouldn't walk around without it! I just couldn't!
What about Gustave? The last thing I wanted was hearing him scream whenever he looked at me. I had scared him once and I wouldn't do it a second him! I loved my son too much to hide away from him so what choice did I have? I would go on wearing my mask, no matter the consequences!
I wanted to protest and tell him how it was impossible for me to walk around without it but as the throbbing pain increased, I desperately pressed my hands against my head.
"Sir, I will give you some painkillers that should help you to get some sleep."
He did as he said, injected something I suspected to be morphine in my veins and left, closing the door behind him. I snuggled my head in the pillows and closed my eyes, waiting for the morphine to grant me some painless sleep.