psychette: (curious/defensive)
[personal profile] psychette
Rehearsals were always the best of times. Not for the singers and stage hands, but for Jacqueline one of the cleaning girls, it was a magical time. She paused, leaning on her broom in the wings, listening as the aria was reaching its highest point. Her eyes with a faraway look. Music always seemed like something other people created from nothing. Important, educated people who knew how to take marks on a page and turn it into songs.

She quickly snapped out of her reverie as the song was ending and the chorus kicked in, sweeping away from the chorus girls who were trickling on stage. If she was caught not working again, it wouldn't do to be fired and thrown out into the street. She was an orphan, came here as an orphan, and would likely always be where she was, sweeping the dust from the wooden floors.

"Moineau!" she flinched and scurried from the stage at the voice overhead. One of the stage hands, a thuggish man named Joseph had seen her lollygagging and was tromping along the catwalk to climb down. He took to ordering her around a little too much lately. At first, he had said he would look out for her, but lately he had been taking the back of his hand to her instead. Her nickname was petit Moineau or little sparrow and he used it like a swear word.

Jacqueline hurried away from the stage, hoping he would not catch her and he would forget. Not so, his large hand found her and pulled her aside with a firm grip. She knew better than to complain or beg, this was not the first time he had laid hands on her. Even now, she could smell the alcohol on him, putting him in a foul mood. A gasp escaped her as the back of his hand cut her lip in a sharp crack. "Too slow, Moineau, do you want to be tossed out with the trash again?" he hissed in her ear. None of the other people on stage were close enough to see or even care what was happening. Another slap across the face, a welt on her cheek. "Please, Monsieur Buquet," she tried to say but it was in vain. He had a head of steam and intended on taking it out on her.

Soon her face was a mass of lacerations and welts as she lay on the floor, cuts on her arms. The cruel man taking off his vest as he stood over her as if he was only getting started. She was barely awake but had not cried out during the whole ordeal. Fearing that he meant to kill her right there and now, she cried softly and tried to crawl away. "Not done with you, petit Moineau," he sneered, pulling her up by the collar of her blouse with a knife in one hand, a broken doll of a person. No one around to rescue her...

Date: 2016-05-12 12:34 am (UTC)
keening_phantom: (Hunt)
From: [personal profile] keening_phantom
Erik had been watching from one of his many spots within his Opera House, minding the progress of the practice and only mildly approving. There was much work to be done as the chorus messily filed onto the stage, their singing interrupted by the crass tones of one Joseph Buquet. Erik had a distaste for the drunkard, his antics were distracting to the cast, and his work shoddy. He was too nosy, and if he found him in the lower tiers again he might just find himself unable to muscle his way out of trouble.

The interruption to the rehearsal made him wince behind his mask as he slipped from his little corner of shadows to lean over the edge of the nearest catwalk. Pity was not something Erik often exercised, and today was little different. He was more angry at the interruption and then he saw the man striking one of the new waifs.

The entire situation was unacceptable, and a quick glance over gave Erik the necessary inspiration. With a deft pluck of the rope, a hefty sandbag went plummeting for the man as he stumbled forward. The girl, pitiful thing she was, was crawling away and the exacting measure of the timing, like fingers upon a keyboard really, meant that the sack delivered a withering, glancing blow that sent Buquet howling to the floor at Jacqueline's feet, clutching at his bleeding skull.

Date: 2016-05-12 01:00 am (UTC)
keening_phantom: (Punjab)
From: [personal profile] keening_phantom
If Erik had a nose he would be looking down it as Buquet made for the ladder. Perhaps the catacombs were too dark for him? If there was one thing Erik always kept on his person, it was a carefully cultivated string of the most unique kind.

He waits until Buquet starts unsteadily up the ladder before Erik makes his way over to it. Today the ghost is more readily seen in the shadows, wearing a porcelain-white mask instead of the usual black.

Buquet swears the entire ascent, his words an affront to Erik. Just as his head reaches the top, Jacqueline will hear the cursing stop quite suddenly. Joseph has spoken his last as he stares first at the fine shoes, then clothes and finally the skull-like mask and those piercing yellow eyes. His hands are too busy holding him to the ladder to save his neck.

It's savage yet silent, as Erik slips the noose into place and then hauls the large man onto the catwalk. His body will serve a later purpose, but for now, with his work done, he slides it into a hiding spot above the stage before walking over to the ladder.

With the lazy curl of a cat, he leans over the side, dangling most of his form out over open air with an air of carelessness as he glances down to see about the state of Buquet's former victim.

Date: 2016-05-12 01:52 am (UTC)
keening_phantom: (Prey)
From: [personal profile] keening_phantom
There's an expression that flickers, completely in the eyes as that is the only part of his face which is visible, but it's also apparent in the way he crouches, one foot on the catwalk and one hand lazily holding a rope. It's all that keeps him from plummeting to the stage like the sandbag earlier.

That expression is something akin to a smile, though an unkind one. It's like a cat that has found a wounded bird and recognizes the opportunity for play. As quickly as he appears he slips back into the darkness of the catwalks but he's not done with her yet.

He moves quickly for one of the fly ropes, checking that it's tied off properly before wrapping gloved fingers around it and using the sides of his fine shoes to limit the speed of his descent. He takes the rope like a fireman's pole, quietly descending toward her with dramatic swirl of cape and still that spark of mischief in his eyes.

Date: 2016-05-12 02:26 am (UTC)
keening_phantom: (The Phantom)
From: [personal profile] keening_phantom
He glances down at her throat as she gasps, that playful look turning dangerous briefly as he waits for noise, but it that scream never sounds. Still, this close to her he plays the part of baleful phantom, glaring at her victimized face.

She raises her hands to ward him off, and then the look from him turns dark, angry. He was a monster, no question, but he was not Buquet. He did not fully understand the concept of pity, but seeing her in such a state frustrated him now. She had never been kind to him, but neither had she been the prying sort in her short tenure.

"Do not make the Phantom regret this." He growls, his mask never moving, as if he had never spoken but the words are clear, like they had been whispered not an inch from her ear.

A gloved hand reaches out, palm up and offering for her own. His eyes glance about them, even in this secluded corner there is risk of discovery. The stage will be coming to a stop shortly for an interlude, and if he is going to take her from the backstage area he had to move soon.
Edited Date: 2016-05-12 02:27 am (UTC)

Date: 2016-05-12 03:01 am (UTC)
keening_phantom: (Mystery)
From: [personal profile] keening_phantom
His fingers close around hers, cold and vice-like, but not painfully so. He wisks her off, taking her to one of the few unoccupied rooms. It was stuffed with props, a former changing room relegated to storage but only recently. A chair from some production that clearly featured royalty is quickly cleared as he indicates for her to sit. He produces a clean, white kerchief with a small skull embroidered elegantly in black thread, and holds it out to her.

Date: 2016-05-13 12:52 am (UTC)
keening_phantom: (Reflecting)
From: [personal profile] keening_phantom
Once she's sitting and appears to be dabbing at her wounds he narrows his eyes as he stands over her.

"Do not leave this room." His word is a stern command, and he will disappear through the door with an eerie silence. When he returns a few moments later he has in hand a water basin and, surprisingly, some gauzy fabric that will suffice for bandages. It may have been part of a costume at some point, it's impossible to tell now.

Date: 2016-05-13 01:19 am (UTC)
keening_phantom: (The Phantom)
From: [personal profile] keening_phantom
And that he was. Most of the time. Today was a rare exception as he set the basin down on a small prop table and set the fabric next to it. He held out a hand for her to return his ruined kerchief. He would burn it later, but he didn't want her bleeding all over the props, nor did he want her to have a telling momento of his rare moment of humanity.

Date: 2016-05-13 01:35 am (UTC)
keening_phantom: (Great Master)
From: [personal profile] keening_phantom
He takes it back with gloved hands, folding it neatly even though it is far beyond recovery. He will just steal another from one of the patrons and make it his own later.

He pauses when she finds her voice, those yellow eyes and lithe form going deathly still as he turns his mask toward her, a curious tilt of his head. As if to say who else do you think I might be, child?

Date: 2016-05-13 02:07 am (UTC)
keening_phantom: (Reflecting)
From: [personal profile] keening_phantom
The quiet huff of air that escapes from behind the mask betrays his amusement as he pockets the ruined thing and reaches out for the gauze. He tears a strip, dipping it in the water and handing to her.

"Swear to it, and I can see that this company never has reason to send you back to the streets."

Date: 2016-05-13 02:22 am (UTC)
keening_phantom: (Reflecting)
From: [personal profile] keening_phantom
"Good." He walks over, wetting another piece of gauze and gently wrapping it around one of the cuts on her arm.

"Tend to your face, child. I understand one of the ushers may fill an open vacancy backstage in a few days' time. The managers will need another volunteer for next month when the new season begins." His managers would get their orders shortly, once he could be certain she would say nothing. At that point he would be a ghost of his word.

Date: 2016-05-16 02:51 am (UTC)
keening_phantom: (Don Juan)
From: [personal profile] keening_phantom
His eyes flash up to look at her, their depths narrowing briefly in curiosity. So, she was a hand who found interest in the opera, and not just keeping herself fed? That was promising.

"Yes." He nods, letting slip a small sense of his pleasure at her sharing of that knowledge. "Faust will follow. I believe, however, that after the production should provide some lighter fare."

Date: 2016-05-16 03:21 am (UTC)
keening_phantom: (Mystery)
From: [personal profile] keening_phantom
Erik turns to regard that door with something of an angry glare at the interruption. Of course fate, which hated Erik so, would gladly try to make a mockery of this moment of goodness in him. Murderous rage flashes in his eyes, but then tempers. He could not afford to kill another stage hand without bringing more trouble, more inquisition down upon his own head.

"Come." He scoops up the basin and spare gauze, heading for a dusty panel of the wall. He built a good portion of this house, he knew of the many secrets within its walls. With a deft manipulation that's easily missed, the wall swings open on silent, well-oiled hinges.

Date: 2016-05-21 01:06 am (UTC)
keening_phantom: (Hunt)
From: [personal profile] keening_phantom
He turns to her, ready to clamp a hand over her mouth to silence her when he realizes she's gone as quiet as a mouse. He's both pleased and intrigued, and waits patiently for the stage hands to leave the room. They are noisy and upset a good few props without much care in their search. Eventually the sound of the door shutting heralds their departure.

Erik opens the trap door, leading her back out into the room again. He clucks quietly in dissatisfaction at the treatment of the room, turning Jacqueline's chair upright again, along with that side table. He motions for her to sit again.

Date: 2016-05-21 01:25 am (UTC)
keening_phantom: (Prey)
From: [personal profile] keening_phantom
Erik winces as the rehearsal picks up and gives a frustrated sigh. He wraps a little gauze around her arm with a shake of his head.

"They are off-key again." He growls. "The piano in the chorus room must need a tuning again. Or that Diva needs to be sacked. Which is it, do you think?" There was a dangerous edge to his tone as a mischievous look sparkles in his eyes.

Date: 2016-05-21 01:40 am (UTC)
keening_phantom: (Unhinged)
From: [personal profile] keening_phantom
The pleased look that settles into his expression is like a lion who has just caught a kill. Her answer is the right one indeed and he emits the smallest of amused huffs.

"Perhaps we would be so blessed that she might leave of her own accord. Until then, we will have the misfortune to hear her croaking throughout the opera. Ah! That is it. We should have her play the part of Seraphimo one of these days."

Date: 2016-05-21 02:01 am (UTC)
keening_phantom: (Reflecting)
From: [personal profile] keening_phantom
"Ah, the lady approves. Well then, I must have a discussion with my managers about the possibility." That look almost turns childish in nature as he chuckles quietly. He doesn't mind her laugh at all, in fact he approves as he finishes the work on her arm.

"Now." He very gently sets his knuckles under her chin to turn her face upward so he could look at it. He studies her face now with a calm calculation and sighs. "There is nothing I can do for your face at this moment. Return to your duties, I will see that you have what you need when the day is done."

It would require a shopping trip, but he needed food anyway. His paper face would suffice in dim lighting but until the daylight hours were waning, he would have time to deal with the body of the man he had killed.

Date: 2016-05-21 02:38 am (UTC)
keening_phantom: (Reflecting)
From: [personal profile] keening_phantom
"Save your thanks. You must uphold your end of the bargain. Not a word, and I will uphold mine." He releases her chin; she can do what she wants about her face while it heals, hide it or explain it away. He doesn't care which.

Date: 2016-05-21 03:11 am (UTC)
keening_phantom: (Pensive)
From: [personal profile] keening_phantom
"Now, off with you. I will come for you when there is news." He simply steps to the side, clearing the way between her and the regular door out of the room.

Date: 2016-05-21 04:42 am (UTC)
keening_phantom: (Pensive)
From: [personal profile] keening_phantom
Erik takes his time cleaning up once Jacqueline departs, disposing of the ruined fabrics and basin before attending to the body in the upper sections of the stage. It will be a few days before it is discovered, but he puts it in a special location in the lower levels of the opera house for one of the stage hands to find. A warning from the opera ghost, but it will be a while before that happens.

His errands are uneventful, as he is wont to make them so. He doesn't like a fuss being kicked up about his appearance when he has to walk among mankind and deal with the masses.

He wouldn't mind in the least if Jacqueline's wounds are attributed to him instead of a drunken stage hand. All the more reason for others to fear him, and leave his spaces alone.

It's after dark when he finally gets around to bringing some balms and ointments to Jacqueline's dorm. There will be a knock at the door, but no one will be there. Only a small basket with a simple cloth covering the contents. Inside will be a rather cleanly scripted letter describing how best to use each of the little bottles inside.

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Jacqueline Ann Spencer

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