I live! For those of you who missed the announcement, I apologize profusely for how long it's taken to get this thing up and started. Reality and all that, you know.
For anyone wondering, the title is the phonetic pronunciation of 偽ミラー which should be Japanese for "False Mirror". My Japanese is terrible so it may be wrong. And, because I'd want to know, it's pronounced Nee-say Me-da.
As it always does during Indiana summers, the sun beat down relentlessly and washed over me in an insufferable heat. For the past several years we'd had an Indian summer which prompted me to be a hermit crab and stay inside in the a/c. I couldn't even comfortably lay out in a tank top and shorts; I was too self-conscious of my acne. To help hide it, I never wore anything shorter than a t-shirt and my shorts were always to my knee, which caused me to sweat and break out even more. It was a vicious cycle I did everything in my power to avoid. That said, why the hell was I laying out on the blistering roadside? I vaguely remembered being out taking photos but that seemed so long ago. It would, however, explain why I was wearing jeans in 90 degree weather.
With a groan I struggled up to my feet and brushed the mud and gravel from myself. How long had I been there? And why'd I pass out anyway? Despite my glaring at it, the ground gave me no answers. Sighing, I squinted up the road in an attempt to orient myself. Laying next to the road was a black mass, but I paid it no mind. Being out in the boon-docks like this it could be anything from trash to a dead body. No, seriously, that happened sometimes. 'Tis a curse of living not too far from Chicago; apparently a corn-filled Indiana county makes a good dump site. You think I'm joking don't you? I'm not.
At first it was just a shift, so minute I barely even paid it any mind. It could have been the wind ruffling whatever the thing was. But then it moved as if to stand and let out some sort of moan. Suddenly I was much more interested. Being alive certainly widened the range of what the thing could be. A drunk idiot? Likely. A run away? Very possible. As I watched this thing I wracked my brain trying to remember the color of a cougar. Weren't those usually brown? Either way I didn't want to find out; Indiana may not have many wild cougars but that didn't mean I wanted to meet one. The sightings have gotten much more frequent in the past few years and I wasn't about to find out if I was about to become a statistic.
Very unsteadily the black mass struggled up onto two legs, confirming that it was human. Or a very short big foot. How interesting would that be, to have a big foot as a pet? Imagine trying to take that thing for a walk. . .I shook my head, forcing myself to focus. I could debate that choice of pet later, right now I should get out of here before that person noticed me. As quietly as I could, I eased the car door open. Rather, I attempted to; the car seemed to have other ideas. The door wouldn't budge. I looked through the window and saw why. It was locked. And my key was in the ignition.
"Merde!" I swore. "Dieu le fils maudit d'une chienne!"
I was about to haul off and kick the car (which would totally help the situation) when someone started scolding me in French. Well, I assume it was scolding. I don't know any polite French, just a few choice curses so I could swear in public without my mother smacking me. She'd never learned another language so, really, I was safe with anything other than English. But French is more fun than the others.
Slowly I looked up, knowing I was at the mercy of whoever this person was. The sight that met me, however, was completely unexpected. There stood someone whom I knew but couldn't have remembered if my life depended on it five seconds ago. It was like meeting a friend that had moved away in grade school. You forgot all about them until they were standing in front of you.
"Erik? What the hell are you doing here?"
"You, mademoiselle, have an incredibly foul mouth." He said, not missing a beat as the language changed.
"Well you knew that already. You gripe about it frequently."
He started. "I beg your pardon. Clearly you have mistaken me for someone else."
"You. . .don't know me?"
"Non. Where am I anyhow?"
I smirked to myself. Clearly my way o' speakin' had rubbed off on him. But Erik not knowing me? That was worrisome. Without saying anything I grabbed his head and pulled it down to my level. I ignored his protests and gave his head a thorough examination. To be honest, I was afraid that he might have had some sort of injury but for the life of me I couldn't find anything the matter. There was no goose egg forming, no spot that seemed tender, no blood. I released him and he after taking a few steps away from me he started fidgeting and pulling at his collar.
"Something the matter?"
"It's hot." He whined.
"Of course it is, it's June." I said. "Wait, did you just whine?"
He had and it just reinforced my belief that something was seriously wrong. For one, he had no memory of me or what had transpired in the past eight months and perhaps longer. For two, he was whining. Never in my life have I known of any version of him to whine. Mope, talk in third person, and be creepy, yes. But whine? That was completely out of character. It was more fitting for the Fop than it was for the Phantom.
Erik continued to whine about the heat as I absentmindedly lead him away from the road. Couldn't have him run over, could we? Once he caught sight of my car he stopped whining as much and started poking at it. Well, at least he would be out of my hair while I thought of a plan of action. My spare key was locked in the car and my normal set wasn't in my pocket. Erik seemed to have no memory of me and couldn't be left on his own. That would not end well.
The easier one to take care of would probably be the key issue. The one that needed to be taken care of first, however, would be the Erik issue. But how to go about it? The instant I thought about it, though, I knew exactly what would probably shock him into remembering. At the same time I knew it would probably end terribly at this point in time. Doing something so intimatewhen he wasn't in his right mind would be disastrous. There was, however, something I could do that would be similar and may work.
I suppose the best way to go about this would be to just do it already. It's not like I had any other ideas. With a deep breath to steel my nerves, I made my move. Pushing off of the fender I'd been leaning on, I reached up and pulled the mask from his face. Before Erik could react I reached forward and pressed my lips to his hollowed cheek. His hands snaked up and gripped my shoulders but made no move to push me from where I was. Other than that he didn't move, whether in confusion or shock I don't know. I kind of hoped the latter as it was the most likely of the two to restore his memory.
His whisper, when it came, was so low that I almost missed it. "Elizabeth. . ."
"Oh, Erik." I cried, throwing my arms around his neck. "Don't you ever worry me like that again!"
Very cautiously he returned my embrace, his hands moving from my shoulders to around my waist. He buried his face in my hair lovingly and, more likely, to hide it from any prying eyes that might come by. I couldn't really blame him; after all he was standing on the side of the road completely unmasked without anywhere to run to or anything to hide behind. To be honest I hadn't really thought of that. At the time the course of action I'd taken was the only option that presented itself to me and I would do it again if necessary, though perhaps in a more secluded spot.
"Erik," I asked, handing him back his mask and pulling away. "just how did you get here anyway?"
"I'm not really sure, to be honest. I remember you were being carried away from me and I was frightened because I didn't know who the man was or where he was taking you to." He studied the ground intently, as if he was afraid to look me in the eye. "I tried to stop you from being taken away from me and the next thing I know I'm standing here, with you. How did I end up with my mask off? It's not something I'm in the habit of doing."
"Oh," I blushed. "that's my fault, actually. You didn't know who the hell I was and de-masking you was part of my plan. Apparently it worked quite well."
Without giving it another thought he started examining my car, as if nothing had happened between his looking at it earlier and now. So he has a mild freak-out about not having his mask, finds out that I'm the reason he no longer has it, and is okay with this? The man was a walking contradiction. But, then again, he might not actually be okay with it. It was entirely possible that he was upset about it but was hiding it for some reason. Was he trying to keep himself from getting angry? In fact, the last time I remember him becoming angry was during that incident with Christine. He. . .he wasn't afraid I'd leave if he became angry was he? Good god, I left that time because I'd knowingly caused his anger and thought it best to just let him vent by himself.
"Erik. . .are you upset with me for removing your mask?"
"Hmm? Oh, no." He lied, and very badly I might add.
"Go on, tell me that you're upset. I'm not going to run away."
He stubbornly refused to say another word and I figured it was best to not argue. This was clearly something we'd have to deal with in the future but now obviously wasn't the time nor the place. Really it shouldn't be put off much longer but I was loathe to bring up something so painful for him, especially since it was my fault.
To be honest, though, I was a bit shocked that he hadn't mentioned what I'd done just now beyond asking about his mask. Knowing him, he probably thought I'd only done what I did because he wasn't acting like himself. He also probably thought I was secretly horrified at what I'd done and seen. What an idiot. I understand whyhe always thought like that but at the same time I wanted to smack him. I knew he trusted me to some degree but I also knew I may never be able to get him to trust me that much. Doesn't mean I didn't want to find a way to get him to trust me completely.
However, now that the Erik issue was solved I had to deal with the other one. I ran a pat-down over my pockets again, but no, I didn't have my full set of keys on me. Looking through the window I confirmed that my key was still hanging out of the ignition and the doors were locked. Damn. Damn, damn, damn. I eyed Erik for a moment, debating. For an unexplained reason he was standing here so it could be possible. . .
"What are you doing?" He cried, yanking away from me.
"Looking for my keys." I sighed, giving up on my pat-down of him. "We're locked out of the car and I thought you might have had them."
"Why would I have them?"
"I don't know. Why are you standing here instead of chilling in Paris? It was worth a shot."
Within half an hour Erik and I were on the road, the top down in the blazing heat. I'd managed to escape a full-blown lecture from my Grandmother when she'd dropped off my keys andfound out that she would be gone for a few hours. In other words Erik and I would have the house to ourselves. You've no idea how happy I was about this. Not for those reasons, either, you pervs. Eight months only being able to take a bath? Hello shower. Plus I really didn't need anyone walking in and seeing Erik sitting on the couch.
Speaking of Erik. . .he currently had a white-knuckle grip on the seat and looked terrified. I shouldn't find it funny, but I couldn't help it. Mr. I've-killed-more-people-than-I-can-count-and-I'm-the-Phantom-damn-it was afraid of a car ride. I knew why - cars didn't really even exist in 1882 - but it was still great. Of course, it could also have something to do with the fact that I was flying low down a country road with blatant disregard for the much slower speed limit. I wasn't that worried about cops, in this county they were lazy and never patrolled except around the high school before and after classes.
"Erik," I shouted over the wind "will you relax?"
"Relax? How can I relax?" He shouted back. "And slow down!"
I rolled my eyes. "Perhaps some music would calm you down."
"Don't you dare take your hands off that wheel!"
Despite what he seemed to believe, I am a decent driver. I reached over with one hand to turn on the stereo, pushing my sunglasses up with the other and steering with my knee. The sign of a country kid right there. Speeding down a country road, driving with a knee, and dodging potholes without a single problem. I doubt he'll ever see something like this anywhere else.
Sometimes I really hate my stereo. Actually, the whole freaking car. Yes it was old but it had way too many mental problems. In this instance the CD player wasn't wanting to work but after giving it a few hand-bruising smacks it reconsidered that decision. Music is said to sooth the savage beast and I was hoping it would calm Erik down enough that he wouldn't have a heart attack in fear. However, the instant the song started I knew this wasn't going to end well. Def Leppard? Erik may be Victorian but he isn't dense.
Love is like a bomb, baby, c'mon get it on
Livin' like a lover with a radar phone
Lookin' like a tramp, like a video vamp
Demolition woman, can I be your man?
Razzle 'n' a dazzle 'n' a flash a little light
Television lover, baby, go all night
Sometime, anytime, sugar me sweet
Little miss ah innocent sugar me, yeah
Come on! Take a bottle, shake it up
Break the bubble, break it up
Pour some sugar on me, ooh, in the name of love
Pour some sugar on me, c'mon fire me up
Pour your sugar on me, I can't get enough
I'm hot, sticky sweet from my head to my feet, yeah
"What on earth is this noise?"
"Again, it's not noise. It's music. Def Leppard, to be exact."
"Well it makes no sense. Please find something else."
"Stick your mind in the gutter, Erik, and it'll all make sense."
A look of absolute horror flashed over his face. Ahaha, he got it! Suppose I might as well oblige him by changing the song. To be honest, I didn't remember what CD was even in there. There was no telling what song was next; I never did have a theme when I burnt them.
I'm so addicted to
All the things you do
When you're going down on me
In between the sheets
Although apparently I did have a theme this time. Forget this, I thought, I'll just get a new damn CD.Without really thinking about it I reached between Erik's legs and under his seat to where my CD case - well, one of them anyway - was stashed. He shriek could have woke the dead. I glanced up into his face to see an unreadable expression there.
"Sorry," I shouted, flipping open the over-loaded case. "I forget to warn people sometimes. What do you want to listen to?"
"The grass under my feet." He squeaked.
I looked over at him, trying to judge what he might enjoy. We weren't far from home so it couldn't be anything you had to listen to for a bit to like. It had to be a love-it-or-leave-it band. Running a finger down the CDs I contemplated the various bands contained therein. I'd always figured he would like the style of P!ATD and they were just the sort of band I needed. Still rather sexual, at least as far as the album I was popping in was concerned, but it was easily overlooked.
Skipping the Introduction, I waited anxiously for the voice of Brendon Urie to begin spilling from the speakers. To this day I still can't say what it was about his voice that made me a fan. He couldn't sing, not technically anyway, but his voice had some quality to it that I couldn't put a name to.
Sit tight, I'm gonna need you to keep time
Come on just snap, snap, snap your fingers for me
Good, good now we're making some progress
Come on just tap, tap, tap your toes to the beat
And I believe this may call for a proper introduction, and well
Don't you see, I'm the narrator, and this is just the prologue?
Honey-like? No, that wasn't it. His voice wasn't even really smooth. It kind of. . .cracked. . .too much for it to be considered smooth.
Swear to shake it up, if you swear to listen
Oh, we're still so young, desperate for attention
I aim to be your eyes, trophy boys, trophy wives
Perhaps it was just his looks combined with his voice that made him so appealing. I'm not shallow but Brendon's hot. Especially with a guitar in his hands or a keyboard under his fingers. And his nerd glasses didn't hurt anything when he wore them. Plus, any guy that can both play and sing the Mario theme song by heart is great in my book.
I may or may not have a thing for musicians.
Speaking of musicians, the one sitting beside me was just as terrified now as he was five minutes ago. I reached over and gave his gloved hand a light squeeze. Gently I coaxed his hand to release its death grip on the seat and laced my fingers with his. Without taking my eyes from the road I slowly pulled his hand up with mine to rest on top of the windshield, letting the wind whistle over our joined hands.
"See, Erik? It's not so bad."