The Phantom is bored...
He was bored.
Pacing up and down he marveled at the dilemma of his situation.
He had never been... Bored before.
But never bored.
He wasn't entirely sure whether he liked the feeling.
He didn't feel like doing nothing.
Staring out over the rooftops of Paris he couldn't imagine why this didn't appeal to him today. He had done it for the better part of twenty years and had been quite content in doing so.
Why was today different?
Massaging his left shoulder and arm he leaned against one of the great angels on the roof, making sure that he stayed in the statue's shadow.
He listened to the city's sounds around him and reflected on how he had never had the reason to come here before she left...
The thoughts faded as he sighed and frowned.
Even thoughts of her couldn't keep his focus.
He wasn't even in the mood to brood.
That was troubling.
He turned and slipped back into the passageway that had brought him here.
He wondered what Ann was doing...
No. He commanded himself silently. Do not go there.
He needed some distance from this strange apparition, this child. He found himself massaging his left wrist again. She had saved his life. She wouldn't have, had she known who he was but still. He felt...
Or, more than that. He felt...
Rather focus on being bored he decided. Don't give it a name.
Again he sighed.
He was really bored.
Back in his chamber he spend a considerable time pacing but the only thing it made him realize was how uncomfortable he was. He could still feel the side effects of last night's little venture.
Somebody should see to those walkways.
When he turned around again his eyes rested on the old desk in the corner.
He walked over to it and stared at the scattered blank papers.
Behind the mask, his lip twitched.
He shouldn't, he really shouldn't...
There was a letter on his desk.
M. AndrÃ© tapped the pencil he had been writing with against his desk as he glared at the world in general. His gaze tactfully ignored the envelope as he went back to his work.
Monsieur Giles AndrÃ© considered himself to be an old man.
He was nearing sixty and was quite willing to enjoy the rest of his life as a retired old man. Heaven knows, he was ready for some peace and quiet. His health wasn't as it should be and neither were his stress levels.
The truth was that, Monsieur Giles AndrÃ© had been ready for retirement for quite some time. Twenty years actually.
Only, he had one problem.
It seemed to be a hard thing to get rid of.
For twenty years he and his fellow staff had been trying to bring the shows back to the standards that it had been twenty years ago, whilst he and his fellow manager secretly tried to get rid of the whole business.
He should get rid of that envelope.
"Is this a joke AndrÃ©?"
Richard Firmin entered his office unannounced and waved something under his nose.
"If it is, I don't find it very funny."
The reedy man was actually pale and shaking. Whether from anger or something else he couldn't tell. Like his weight, the man's nerves weren't what it used to be either.
"Calm yourself Richard, what in heaven's name do you mean?"
The man moved again as he shook something in his hand.
"This AndrÃ©, this!"
He threw an envelope down on the desk in front of him.
M. AndrÃ© stared at it as if it was a letter from the tax collector.
"Oh, it seems you got one to." He tried to say it as light as he could.
Now there were twin envelopes on his desk.
This day couldn't get any worse.
His statement took some of the wind out of his partner's sails.
"You didn't do this?" He queried and sat down. His eyes fell on the other envelope.
"What... What does yours say?"
M. AndrÃ© gave the thin man a startled look.
"Why, I haven't come round to opening it yet." He said. "Yours?"
There was a long, uneasy silence.
"Old Monsieur LefÃ¨vre, he died five years ago didn't he?"
"Are you sure?"
"Hmm... well, fancy that."
"Yes, indeed... We... should probably open them then. I mean, they can't come from another source."
"Indeed no. And we must open them, they are harmless. You can go first AndrÃ©."
"Monsieur, I think not."
They glared at each other across the desk.
M. AndrÃ© dug in his pocket.
"Let's flip a coin..."
The paper was the same, the ink was the same and the handwriting was the same.
This is quite a pleasure; we have not done this in quite some time.
I must say, though my judgement obviously is missed you have managed to keep the Opera afloat for quite some time with meagre success.
May I suggest that, for the next Opera you are surely planning, you retire Signora Caroline Mascagni and rather come in contact with the well known Prima Donna Signora Shannon Romano. I heard that she is growing tired of the English and would like to spend some time here. A small fee would, of course, be needed but I'm sure you can sort something out with Monsieur Firmin.
Give my congratulations to Little Giry, for I fear that I won't be able to write to her in person. She seems to do her mother proud for the ballet was a pleasure to watch.
How is your wife? I have not seen her here in some time.'
The two men stared at the note for a long time before they turned to the other. Wordlessly M. Firmin opened his.
May I remind you kind sir that my salary has still not been paid. By my record you now owe me a grand total of 5040000 francs, feel free to work this out for yourself though. As this fee is a large sum though and I know that you won't be able to pay me immediately I will, for the time being, be satisfied with the usage of Box 5. As the attendance to the evening shows are not as it use to be you do not need it.
I would also like to offer you my service. Maintenance has become one step short of pathetic and they can't possibly be keeping you up to date with what should be fixed.
Be assured, I will inform you if they miss anything.
That walkway left a terrible mess.
Your obedient servant,
The silence between them stretched.
"Well." M. AndrÃ© stated after a while and looked at M. Firmin.
"Well." The reedy man breathed. "We... Seem to have a problem M. AndrÃ©."
The fatter man shook his head.
"Of course not M. Firmin. This is a joke, can you not see it?" He put the letter down dismissively. "Someone is having a jolly good laugh at our expense. The handwriting isn't even the same."
M. Firmin didn't look as convinced as he studied his letter.
"Can we be sure?" He queried. "What did you do to your letters M. AndrÃ©? Do you perhaps..."
The man shook his head gruffly. "Good heavens man!" He exclaimed. "That was twenty years ago. This is now and this..." He held up his letter. "Does not come from the Opera Ghost. He is gone, vanished... Dead for all we know. No one has seen anything of that sort in years..."
M. Firmin snorted and did a quick sum in his head.
"Though, some still claim to." He said. "He is correct though, I do owe him round that amount of money."
The look Giles AndrÃ© gave him could've soured milk.
"We don't owe him anything." He snapped. "Could we focus for a moment please? M. Firmin, this is a joke. Probably orchestrated by one of the older staff members or the Giry's. I heard that Antoinette is coming back. I wouldn't put this past her."
M. Firmin wasn't taking any of this to mind.
"To what purpose?" He queried. "I can not imagine her doing something like that."
M. AndrÃ© snorted.
"Her daughter then." He said. "She is mentioned, she might be fishing for a raise now that she's semi taking care of that blind girl. Well. I can tell you now M. Firmin I do not... Where are you going?"
The man turned around by the door.
"To my office." He said and pocketed the letter. "I do not remember throwing away my letters from that time and probably have them filed away somewhere. Are you coming?"
The only thing they ended up finding was twenty years worth of dept strips and dust.
In both the managers' offices and the old office of Mme. Antionette Giry.
Having done the latter last the two old managers sank down on the uncarpeted cold floor, with out so much as a thought of courtesy, and looked at each other.
M. Firmin took his spectacles from his nose and cleaned them with the handkerchief he drew from his pocket.
"Hypothetically speaking..." He began slowly. "Say, this is him/. Do we allow /him the usage of Box Five?"
M. AndrÃ© glared at him, a little out of breath.
"Hypothetically speaking..." He began slowly. "I would suggest that you go home and get some rest if you thought that he was still around."
M. Firmin's eyes narrowed ever so slightly as he perched his glasses back on his nose.
"Hypothetically speaking I resent that remark."
He glared at his partner for a moment longer before he put his handkerchief away.
"Still hypothetically speaking though, can we afford to give him Box 5?"
M. AndrÃ© was silent for a very long time.
"Hypothetically speaking..." He began slowly. "Can we afford not to?"
They pondered on that thought for a moment.
M. AndrÃ©'s face lit up as he slowly heaved himself to his feet.
"We should not ponder on a hypothetical situation Richard." He said lightly and walked over to help his friend up. "What we should ponder on is who..."
The door opened.
Both of them almost died of old age.
Meg Giry stepped into the room and stopped as she noticed them.
Surprised she took a step back and clutched something to her chest.
"Messieurs, what are you doing here?"
The two started breathing again.
"Mademoiselle, we should ask you the same thing."
M. AndrÃ© was the first to respond as he wagged his finger at her. "This is a closed office."
Meg Giry's eyes narrowed. "This is my mother's office." She said blankly. "As you still haven't decided to give me my own I use it as I see fit. Anyway..." She stepped into the room and immediately went over to one of the drawers. "I need some rough paper."
They're attention picked up immediately.
"For what, may I ask young Meg?" M. Firmin asked carefully.
The grown woman raised an eyebrow in his direction and opened another drawer.
"For the record Monsieur Firmin, I'm not as young anymore that I appreciate the title." Her voice was brisk and short. "And as for the rough paper, not that you care or that it's any of your business but I'm helping young Ann LeRoux write some letters to her family. Is that all right with you or do I need permission for that as well?"
She took out some yellowed papers and clutched them to her chest along with those she had already had in her hands as she regarded them with cold eyes.
Despite the fact that they had the power to sack her when ever they wanted Meg Giry didn't fear them in the least and they knew it.
M. AndrÃ© shifted and put on his best smile for her. They had quickly learned that words spoken in the same tone as she used on them only brought more problems.
"Mme. Giry I have told you this before." He began diplomatically. "You misunderstood us when we told you that you should ask before you dismissed ballet girls so easily. You of all people should know that talent sometimes comes from the most unexpected sources..."
Her sniff spoke louder than words.
"Gentlemen, if you'll excuse me I have some letters to write."
She turned around and walked to the door.
M. Firmin took a step forward.
"Have you sent any other letters recently Megan?"
She frowned at her full name and turned around to peer at him.
"No." She said simply. "Why do you ask?"
M. AndrÃ© shared a look with his colleague and took a controlled step forward.
"We were just wondering." He said simply. "You've never had the urge to write to us and tell us how you feel about our management of this beautiful Opera house?"
Her mouth thinned as she tried to puzzle out where they were going with this.
"That is what staff meetings are for." She said simply.
She received two questioning looks.
"Even in the past?" M. AndrÃ© queried. "Even perhaps as a joke? There had been a time when it happened quite often..."
They weren't sure whether they imagined it but Meg Giry appeared to go a little paler, despite her light complexion.
"No." She said plainly. "Now, if you gentlemen will excuse me this time - Ann is waiting."
She left without another word.
The two mangers stared after her.
"That wretched child is like her mother." M. AndrÃ© said out of the blue. "She holds too many secrets."
Julianne was sitting cross-legged on her bed, rolling the cane over her legs. Her brow was furrowed with concentration as she dictated.
"Rather start it with: 'Dear Mama and Pappa.' Aunt Meg." She was saying. "I don't think that they'd take very kindly to formality at this stage."
The older woman smiled and glanced at her heading.
"I told you they wouldn't." She said. "Should I scratch out the rest or are we just going to carry on?"
The young woman frowned and took a moment to review the letter in her mind. She groaned and shook her head.
"No, leave it." She muttered. "Let's just carry on and get this over with." She cleared her throat. Her tones changed.
"'Phillipe and I are having a roaring time as the English would say. My vocabulary has improved to such an extent that I can almost call myself a master of the language I think. Yesterday, Phillipe took me out and taught me how to drive a horse drawn cart! I held the reins the whole way, though I strongly suspect that they were tide to the middle pole instead of the steeds. I'd have to ask some of the grooms who saw us come in. Not that I'd mind, at least I got to sit in front. Tomorrow we will leave to go visit some of his cousin's in Scotland. He truly does have family all over the world! They didn't tell us of half of them when they came to visit us.
Do not worry for my safety. I'm in good health and really having a great time. Do not worry, I will be back before time I have not forgotten/.'" Her tone became troubled, but then her eyes softened and she smiled. "'/If it is any consolation - I strongly feel my Guardian Angel watching...' Aunt Meg, am I going to fast?"
She had heard the woman stop and twisted her head to try and determine the cause.
Meg Giry watched her in silence before she glanced at what she had written.
A chill travelled down her smile as she frowned at young Julianne.
"What do you mean by Guardian Angel?" She queried lightly, careful not to put too much emotion into her tone.
Julianne blushed and nodded. "I... believe I have one here Aunt Meg." She said softly. "Long ago my mother told us that we all have one. Somewhere."
The woman tried to keep the conversation light as she gripped the paper.
"Oh, even me?"
Julianne smiled and carefully stood up to lay a hand on her arm. It sometimes amazed Meg at how accurate she could be.
"Even you." She said. "When I was little I use to believe that it was me."
The woman genuinely smiled at this as she remembered how Julianne had tried to follow her around when she was young.
"So that's why you tied a string to me that one time?"
Julianne giggled and, standing behind her, wrapped an arm around the woman.
"That was actually one of my brothers." She admitted. "They wanted to see how long we'd take to notice."
Meg laughed and patted her arm.
"And... What about you?" She queried carefully. "Who's your... Guardian Angel?"
Julianne blinked and shrugged.
"I don't know." She said honestly and returned to the bed. "I haven't seen him yet. Can we finish this? You said we can go out afterwards."
Meg sighed softly and nodded - her old unease returning like a spinning wheel in her stomach.
'Christine, forgive me - it was a mistake to bring her here...'
As much as she wanted to she couldn't write those words. Not yet.
"We can." She rather said and smoothed out the paper. "I take it I should also write another letter to this Phillipe reminding him to copy this right?"
Julianne was rolling her cane over her legs again.
"For sure." She said. "Mama can see your script a mile away..."