There was surprise written on his face when she mentioned she had wanted to help. There was no questions on if he was losing his mind, or upset protests of not mentioning this before. It was a true wonder. The words he had uttered bounced around his head.
[b "It was difficult to believe. Though, the clothing and insults, that was something. Honestly, I don't know why I started originally...now...there was a wonderful gift that came with this,"] Cecil gave her a quick kiss then her softly before stroking her cheek.
[b "He cannot know I have told you. Erik is sensitive to his past. You know...kidnapping, murder, accidentally burning some of the opera house. That would be wonderful though."]
There was a weight lifted off of his shoulders. He held her closet to him before nuzzling her neck giving a bold grin. Bea was amazing, and he was certain that she was the one.
[b "I love you, Bea,"] Cecil said softly against her neck.
At first she gave a motion of surprise before breaking into a relieved smile. It was true, there had been more than one comment to relax. Usually it was met with a mild glare, only diluted for her. The word 'beautiful' was what really astounded her.
There was really no time to comment because it was her cue. Perhaps it was the beautiful, loving couple or there was an old part of starting to emerge from it's bitter, cracked shell.
[b "More than one compliment in one day. I must have won the jackpot somewhere around here. Beautiful...that one is a first...I like it,"] Olivia smiled, some amusement but mostly astonished. [b "Thank you. They've both been amazing friends, and really are the sweetest couple ever. It was an honor to help him propose."]
Angel of music, that one was new, she both flushed and gave a laugh at that. [b "No, no...angel...too far gone for that title. But thank you. Anywhere you'd like to stroll?"]
The man was clealy uncomfortable around those he did not know, but truly it was no different how he felt around people in general. So when his drink had been given to him, crystal eyes found their way to Olivia when she spoke. Perhaps she was right and for just a moment did he consider a retreat. But then Cecil's words of the mask and what he should do sounded loud and clear in his head.
[b "Where would be the honour in leaving such a beautiful woman by herself? I think I will stay a while. Besides, aren't you always the one saying that I do need to 'loosen up' a bit?"] The man asked as he was TRYING to show her he could and would brave it but only because he was there with her.
Her cue soon came and she sang for her friend and his fiance as she promises. It was a sweet song in itself, but something in the way she sang it made it even sweeter. Even the Phantom could hear it. When she had come back to him, the man raised his flass to her. [b "Beautifully sang. Almost like an angel of music."] Erik said and then nodded when she mentioned a walk, slowly beginning to lead her through the crowd.
Grey eyes closed as she sat against the man as she listened to his words. And she was silent as she let them all sink in. It was definitely a lot to wrap one's mind around and she could tell why he would think it to have been a joke. It was almost like something out of books she used to read or out of the movies. So it didn't strike her odd that the man would not have believed it at first. Hell she would not have either.
[b "How were you supposed to know that it was real? But you have been trying to help him and teach him.. I honestly admire you for being able to put up with him...And I hope he does too. It is onvious the two of them feel for the other and make the other better...Even though both are highly flawed. Now I want to help too."] She whispered, her hands moving to his and squeezing them.
It was almost adorable of how awkward he was at this moment, the other part felt as if she should let him go and let go tonight. It had been a long time since she had let go for an entire night and let the cards fall where they may. Ordering one of the more straight forward drinks for him she handed the drink to him before looking thoughtful.
[b "You don't need to stay if you don't want to. It's really fine,"] Olivia offered with a neutral expression. [b "Where's the tactics in that, there's merit in a hasty retreat sometimes."]
Seeing her cue she gave a bright smile placing her drink down. [b "This won't take too long..."]
On the weekends there was live performers, she volunteered for this one song. Waiting for Miguel to be in position on the guitar, the boyfriend to be close. He started strumming softly, and she sang softly, even sweetly [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zT8dX8riiU 'Love you Too Much'].
At the end Miguel stopped going on one knee to his boyfriend, proposing in Spanish.
Olivia stepped back, watching the moment with a tender smile before sliding away. This was something that was difficult considering her fight or flight behavior. Returning to Erik she finished that drink. [b "Why don't we go for a walk. I spend enough time here, anyway."]
[b "I thought it was a joke. Someone coming back after so many years for a second chance. Everyone did. Then it happened...I should have told you sooner...it's just what words do I say?"] Cecil rubbed his neck awkwardly. Now Erik was likely to fade away again unable to get past his old scars.
[b "I always believed in second chances,"] Cecil sat down and pulled her into his lap and thought on this. [b "When I met Erik, he had no social etiquette. Not a handshake or the right words. It was like a big, angry toddler. There was no one to teach him how to be with people, handle his emotions, he was left alone almost all of his life. When Christine happened- it was the first time feeling love or something of that sort."
Letting out a breath he rested a chin on her shoulder. [b "I don't know if he's going to make it. I really want him to."]
The man was rather uncomfortable around the other cast memebers who did happen to be present. Still did he very much despise people and prefer his distance be kept from them, but he had said he would go. Had said that he would behave and do as Olvia wanted. Honestly given what he had been told, the man could not afford to hide away. He could not afford pushing the girl away anymore either.
[b "Yes..they were bound to. And it is what couples do. I just thought they would have let us know and done so properly."] That part of him was still very much alive. Erik still dod believe in common courtesies but also was a bit terrified to be left alone. He was afraid of where the night could possibly go.
Getting lost in his thoughts and how he wanted to make Cecil pay the man was brought out of them when he heard the soft voice beside him. The faintest of smiles graced his lips as crystal gaze fell upon Olivia. [b "Whatever you are having is fine with me."] He said, aoon watching her go.
At first she was confused what Cecil was talking about. And so very confused when they had left the bar and he had taken her to his home. Only one other time had he taken her to the place. And that time he had told her a little about his family but it had been clear gaps had been left.
As she listened to his words and looked at the mask, a chill she could not quite explain ran through her. [b "The Phantom...it..It's Erik isn't it? And your family has been meant to guide him and to help...it's why you and he are so close even if he pretends it is toleration.."] The words slipped from her lips as she slowly looked up at the man.
Most uneasiness was washed away when there were several members of the cast there. She was still there with Erik, and they'd leave them eventually. While it was strange to Bea and probably Cecil, it made sense to her to not rush into anything. Better yet not do anything at all.
[b "Huh, it appears they have. They would eventually, anyway. It's what couples do when they want to have alone time,"] Olivia gave a dismissive shrug. For a moment her thoughts drifted elsewhere, back to another time when she was in a real relationship. Oddly, she found herself missing that.
[b "I'll be all yours .I just need to do one thing for a cast mate. He's going to propose to his boyfriend and asked me to help,"] she told him going for the bar. She didn't drink often, but today would be different. [b "Do you want anything?"]
What could he say? Cecil knew it was weighing him down, too. There should have been a waiting line, Erik first and then him. Instead Cecil couldn't wait. [b "I need to show you something, and then bring it over to Erik. There's something I should say, too."]
His house was in the nice part of Paris, nothing too fancy, it was Bohemian homes built after the war and reflected as much. Of course, he had brought her there once before.
Taking a key he opened the case. [b "My family came over in the 1860's, it was just a single Persian then. He married a Meg Giry. From here it's continued on with fresh Persian blood ever generation or two. My ancestor met this man who was gifted, angry, but brilliant and remained life long friends. This was found by Meg Giry, and given to my ancestor."]
The mask was only had a quarter left but the outline was in dust. [b "This is the Phantom's mask. My ancestor was intrusted with it and if the gypsies word came true, his soul. This part is difficult to believe...he has though...and if he fails, than he and this mask will disappear forever. How do you think the Phantom of the Opera is?"]
As confident as the other woman was, it was almost endearing to see how in this matter she seemed a little timid. But then, Bea should have known that even Olivia had her limits and that even she was afraid even if she gave the impression that she wasn't most times. And for a moment, the redhead had to wonder if perhaps the other woman gave that appearance and idea to people because she grew up that way and simply "had to" be that way.
Quickly she shook her head and those thoughts away. A small smile once more came to soft pink lips when she heard the other woman's words. [b "Good. I think this conversation is long overdue anyway."] She said with a faint nod before falling into stwp with Olivia and heading back to men.
When the four were together, then headed to Olivia's work. It had become a place she did visit with Cecil and the others and had come to be a sweet place. Grew on her really. As her arm was gripped, grey eyes went to the man and she nodded. [b "I think so too...they may kill us, but this talk is long overdue. I mean anyone can feel that..the spark between them."] She whispered and moved off to another of the booths with the man.
Cecil's words were probably the last the man would have expected. The other man had always seemed all the things he had said that he learned from him from the beginning. And Erik knew he wasn't easy to get on with and did tend to make things difficult. Almost all the others Cecil had tried to get him to talk to or to try with before, the man had been a nightmare to or kept his distance. There had been no pull or no draw. It was completely the opposite of what seemed there with Olivia.
[b "We.. I have come to 'tolerate' you. And you have always seemed those things to me. But I can say perhaps you have learned the patience of a saint...I've not because I am...Again you make a good point. She does seem so very different and like she could understand."] His words had chaged their direction from admitting that he, the man who had once been the Phantom was scared. [b "No...neither of us can afford to keep up the lies.."]
Those were his last words before Olivia and Bea had come back to them. As soon as the young women had, the four set off towards Olivia's work. Upon getting to the establishment, Erik noticed that both Bea and Cecil seemed to disappear. Slowly he looked to Olivia. [b "It appears the other two have left us..."]
Olivia focused her attention to the worn dressing table. It showed the age, and abuse of actors and performers over the last few decades. It showed real character and age. Of course, Bea was right, it was Olivia who was terrified of situations like this. It was her that she was terrified of, truth be told.
[b "Of course you're right,"] Olivia nodded. Changing into a black tank top that had a silver sun and moon on it, and shimmied into some skinny jeans. Her hair already was losing the curls that had been done before the play. Now it was just waves where it was normally flat. [b "I guess, I'll talk to him when we get there."]
Grabbing her purse, she was ready and looked to Bea placing on a smile. Inside, she was beyond terrified.
[b "You're my friend, aren't you? I've learned very positive lessons from you. Diligence, focus, hard work and oddly enough...humility. Bea does not think you are bad either, in fact she wonders why you haven't taken her friend yet. And Olivia, I know she will understand,"] Cecil encouraged before giving a nod. [b "Of course, it's at my families home. I'll ask for it to be delivered. Eventually, I do need to tell Bea the truth. I can't keep lying to her like this."]
When the girls came out and the four was off to where Olivia worked. It was comfortable and Cecil became a regular there. It worked with his strange group of fellow history students.
Holding Bea back he glanced to her. [b "I think we should ditch them. They'll know what's going on but it's for their own good."]
The man's eyes never once strayed from Cecil once the girls had left them. He could see the wheels turning and when that happened, Erik could admit he was a bit apprehensive. Of course he knew of the mask and what happened when it was completely crumbled, but that did not mean he had been expecting for time to wither away so quickly. And then there was who he used to be and the things he had done which also kept him pulled back as he had.
Erik listened to Cecil's words and looked to the ground, a hand coming up and running through dark hair. The other man had a point. He now had someone to guide him and he was no longer alone. He was no longer a monster and even had found someone who had her flaws and a past she didn't much care for either. But even so, was bringing her into his history and explaining the mask the best idea? Would she be willing to try and help or would she turn away and run?
Slowly he shook his head and crystal gaze once more lifted to look at the man whom he had let in and had been both a mentor and friend to him. [b "I promised to tell her the story of the Phantom...and when I do tell her I will need the mask to be able to show her.. But how do we know I have truly learned anything? You see I still barely tolerate other people."] Erik pointed out.
[b "Tonight you are right though...do what she wants. I owe her at least that."] And that was the last of the man's words. What more could he say without Cecil turning it into a full out lecture?
The redhead ran her fingers through her hair as grey eyes were on the other woman. She knew that Olivia had feelings towards their instructor and it was clear the man did hed as well. There was always a spark between the two, a tension if one could call it that. So much that wanted to be said or to be done but neither seemed to want to take the step forward. She didn't tell Olivia this, but sometimes the others that they dances with took bets in wondering how long it would be before Erik and Olivia actually became a thing.
Slowly she shook her head, a faint smile gracing her lips. [b "You know..I think he has more interest than you think. You don't see the way he watches you when you enter a room...or how you're the one who keeps his attention and he will actually listen and not brush off what you say. Maybe he is just scared.. I mean if you haven't noticed, Erik isn't exactly easy to get on with and sends many running for the hills.."] The woman said, trying to make light of the situation, but also give her friend some reassurance as well.
[b "Maybe the two of you do need to talk? And I am sure he'll go with you to the after party if you ask."] Again, Bea was giving gentle nudges as she could see there was something there.
A small smile once more came to her lips. [b "At least ask him? The worst that can happen is he says no."]
How did one so brilliant also prove to be completely idiotic? It escaped Cecil at times how Erik could completely be stupid. In his mind he was preparing his words while Erik talked. There was that, monster and the past, it hadn't been the same since he met Olivia. He hoped that it would not repeat itself.
[b "Erik, you did some horrible things in the past. It's not something that you will ever atone for. That doesn't mean you are a monster. You have always been alone, no one to guide you and help you in your darkest moments. That's not true now. I am here. And somehow you've found Olivia who is very flawed herself."]
What else did he intend to say. Oh, yes, what to do with Olivia.
[b "Tell her that you've done some terrible things in the past. You don't need to go into details, maybe we could show her the mask. Though, for tonight. I'd do whatever she wants to do tonight. Tell her that she means a great deal to you in more than terms of talent. Finally, I'd make love to her like your life depended on it, which it does."]
It wasn't as if Olivia minded the arrangement. It was still good teaching, a close friend, and more of what she wanted to do was being done. There was little else that she could say that she wanted more than this. It was strange for her to be relaxed on the physical department, yet it caused such messes in the past.
Freed from the dress she gave a breath of relief before she changed into a flirty blue flower dress. It had the neckline and all. If she was going to celebrate she would do it properly. There might not be any going to bed with anyone, it didn't mean that she couldn't have fun.
[b "If he'd like to go, sure. Chances are he won't though and that's fine,"] Olivia smiled, though it was a lie. She wanted him there and maybe to push forward or just not try to go further. It was reaching that point.
[b "Alright...that's a lie, I guess, he doesn't seem interested and there's some story. I won't push it but I, uh,"] Olivia gave a small laugh of disbelief before looking to her seriously. [b "I want a relationship. I miss sex but I want companionship, too. I think I Can do it."]
Faintly a smile graced the man's lips. His relationship with Olivia was still a guarded one. Sure the pair got on well enough and supported the other, but neither knew the others stories. And for the time he still wished to keep it so. [b "It was a pleasure. And it was all you. You truly are talented."] Erik said and then watched the two girls walk off to where he assumed would be the dressing room.
When he had been pulled aside and told about the mask, Erik's gaze fell on Cecil. [b "What do you expect me to do? She's already been breaking down my walls and getting closer than anyone ever has dared before. But can I truly let her in completely? You know with who I am and what I had done it would make her run. Deep down even you cannot deny I am no more than a monster."] The man hissed out, crystal blue eyes becoming darker. His eyes along with the darkness seemef colder and as if he were pulling back, trying to mask his emotions.
His hands clentched at his sides and seemed as if he wanted to either hit or strangle someone. But he did not make any of the moves that he sp dearly wanted to be making. Because they were in an audience with many others around, Erik was doing his best to control his temper. Which given was good because the last time he had given in, a building had been nearly burned to the ground and had to be built back up. But that did not excuse that when he was alone, something would end up broken and a mess would be made.
A small smile came to her lips. [b "Fine.. I'll try not to worry too much. But only because you said it and Olivia's performance was so good."] Bea said with a wink as she kissed the man's chin.
When he pulled Erik away, the redhead watched the men for a moment. The exchange almost seemed painful. Or on Cecil's end from the facials made as he quickly said something. And on Erik'd end he seemed, angry? It confused her, but she was pulled out of her thoughts on the men when Olivia spoke and took her hand to lead her backstage.
[b "Of course I can help. That costume doesn't look fun to stay in longer than ypu have to. Can't say I envy it."] The woman teased as they got backstage and she helped to undo the zipper. [b "That sounds nice. Do you plan to drag Erik along?"] She goind herself asking, being genuinely curious as even she noticed the other pair seemed to struggle with having a more intimate form of relationship.
If she were jonest, she almost felt sorry that Olivia had not found in Erik what she had in Cecil. The two looked cute together and complemented the other in ways she couldn't quite explain.
It had been a long time joke in the family. They were guardians of a vengeful ghost. If that ghost came back they were to help cross over. It wasn't difficult to believe his family would believe that. They came from a long line of Persian families. They would go to that region, find husbands or wives, bring them back and there was more.
Cecil gave a small laugh though it wasn't particularly amused. [b "I wouldn't worry too much. It's nothing too much,"] Cecil kissed the top of her head.
After the performance, Cecil let Erik have his moment with a very happy Olivia before pulling him aside. [b "Erik, there's been a change in the mask,"] he breathed those words making them come out shorter, almost more hurried. [b "I fear you do not have much longer. It's time to do something otherwise it will all be dust, soon."]
That was harder than he expected and he was really looking to him wondering what his reaction would be.
There was always something strange about Erik, she supported him, and wanted to know what it was. They weren't serious though and that meant that the stories didn't have to be all out in the open. Olivia couldn't help but wonder when she would attempt at a real relationship with him or any other guy or girl. The girl was always a possibility.
[b "Thank you, Maestro,"] Olivia gave a wide smile, she just wanted to celebrate and get into different clothing. In this moment Olivia wished there could be more. Perhaps it was because it had been a year. Another could be hoping to achieve another level of intimacy.
She watched the men talk before taking Bea's hand and smiled. [b "Come with me backstage, I'll need help with this zipper, if you don't mind. And then the cast is going to the bar that should be fun. They aren't all snobs like our backstage people."]
Somehow she was jealous of Bea and her relationship.
He was holding back and keeping something from her. Always had she had that sense, but in the last months it had become more. It was a feeling that she could not seem to shake and it bothered her, though she didn't let it show or ask too much. If and when he was ready to tell her, Bea would wait. The young red head just hoped it would not be too long.
"I hope you will be able to too. With you saying that it makes me curious." The words slipped before she could stop them. Did she regret saying it out loud? Of course she did, but she couldn't take it back could she?
Her eyes went to Erik as the man joined them and soon they found their seats. Watching Olivia on the stage, Bea was amazed. At first she could tell it was a little awkward but the more she got into it, the better she was. It was amazing.
Afterwards she hugged Olivia and had a bright smile on her lips. "You were amazing!" She gushed and smirked watching her friend hug on Erik who seemed to be mentally debating if he liked it or hated it.
When he had joined the couple his eyes had met Cecil's. Only did he give the briefest of nods, meaning he had behaved and so had Olivia. Even he found the relationship they had interesting to say the least. He and she challenged the other but also seemed to support one another in ways no one else could. Dare he say it or admit that he was growing fond of her?
As they took their seats, the man's crystal gaze was trained on the actors and he was very attentive to the play. He had noted her awkward beginning but also saw how she seemed to ease into it and become one with the role she played. Once she had eased up, Erik had to admit she was amazing and truly brought things to life. Her performance stirred things in him that he had not felt in a very long time.
After, everyone was going to the actors and telling them how amazing the play had been. He like Cecil and Bea stayed back until Olivia came to find them. For a moment he watched the women hug and her even hug Cecil. When it came to her hugging on him, the man was a little tense. Honestly he liked it, but given all his years before he wasn't sure quite how to behave and finally returned a hug, though an awkward one.
"That was as amazing as I knew you could be. You brought the character to life in a way I have never seen before. Well done."
What was someone supposed to say in this position? There was a great change in the man that respectively his charge. To see him come so far and still fail would be truly heart breaking. The next thought was how to explain this to the woman that he was falling in love with.
Cecil gave a smile that didn't meet his eyes and he kissed the top of her head. "Yeah, I'm okay. It's really just family business. I hope that I can explain it to you later," Cecil responded keeping an arm around her.
When Erik joined them he gave a nod. It seemed to have gone well, and finally he could see his selfless work in action. It was odd to think of those two so well behaved, but their relationship was a special, supportive relationship.
Those words were the best thing that could be said, all of them. To others they would seem casual sometimes even indifferent but Olivia knew better. Giving a soft smile to him, she resisted the urge to hug and kiss him again. That was rare, considering the position they were both in and neither seemed too eager to go forward as of yet. If they did that would be interesting.
After her first act, she eventually got comfortable in the role and the play. It really was a good one about the good character falling into the underground resistance and falling in love with a guy, the same guy that her character loved. Only her character was a traitor. The death scene by the hand of the Nazi lover was incredibly fun.
At the end, the house went crazy, even if it wasn't a happy ending since the main guy died.
Going out to greet the others she hugged Bea first with a grin, then Cecil, finally Erik despite the unwritten rule and kissed his cheek. It really was all of him.
She had been working hard with this moment, none could deny it. Not even Erik could as he had stayed late nights to help her. Olivia it seemed since they had met had broken down walls he had tried so hard to keep up. Since their meeting, the man was still cold and calculating if one could truly call him that, but he also seemed a little kinder than he had been. He had a little more patience for his class, Cecil, and had even started to write his music again. And these were things that the man had thought never would be possible.
Faintly a smirk graced the man's lips when he heard Olivia's words. "And perhaps I may be doing both things here? But you have worked hard and long for this. I do know you will be amazing." He said, quietly as he too was listening to the voices just beyond the curtain, knowing the lines and scenes by heart. If he was hearing correctly, it would not be long before the young woman's cue would come and she would join the others on the stage.
Slowly he moved away and began back towards the main part of the theatre. He had told Cecil that he would be meeting him and Bea as soon as Olivia was about to go on. And so now all he had to do was find the pair, which he assumed couldn't and wouldn't be that hard as they seemed almost bound to the other since the new year.
Everything with Cecil was amazing. After a few dates they had made love and he had been the most amazing man she had been with. He still was and everyday seemed to open her eyes to new thoughts and ideas of the world around them. And to top things off, Olivia and she had become much closer as well. It was nice not fighting like cats and dogs as they had before. It was funny how so much had changed in just a year.
Bea had dressed in a soft, powdery blue gown and had her hair done up in a bun. Slightly she too had dressed up as to not be out of place. A soft red came to her cheeks as she leaned against the man and turned to kiss his chin and nuzzle him.
"If his pep talk is anything like he gives us when we dance...No it isn't." The young woman found herself saying, eyes scanning the crowd as they waited for Erik. Her hand slowly took Cecil's and gave it a squeeze. "Are you alright...? The last few days you seem like you have been getting more anxious.." She said softly just as their familiar companion could be seen coming thier way
It was just the year before after Olivia had nearly had a casual encounter she had decided enough was enough. During that year she had decided to do more with her life with music and people. That had been a good decision considering she was close with Bea now, then there was Erik. Erik. That was a complicated story, where they something more or friends and obvious teacher? Sometimes it bothered her- other times she was content she had a best friend and a teacher.
The performance was not at the Populaire but another big theatre that had more diversity. The play was about the resistance during WWII and she had chosen the role of the villain who wanted the man and was involved with the Nazis. Honestly, it was a fun role that she grew to love. She wasn't ordinary in most ways.
"I don't think I can forget, Erik," Olivia said scratching her collar. The collar was itchy and while it looked cool, she hated it. "I think the butterflies in my stomach has razor sharp teeth now..."
Despite the words she still found herself giving a nervous smile. "You could also be just saying that so I don't flee. I do believe you, thank you."
Quickly kissing his cheek, she listened to the voices waiting for her cue. This was the most terrifying moment of her life.
It was after a few dates that Cecil had finally made love to her. It had been the most amazing experience of his life. Working on his grad work, Erik and Bea his time was pretty much well taken up. Only, Erik was running out of time. That mask was pretty much done for. It was almost like the rose from Beauty and the Beast.
Just how did he tell Erik that he was possibly going back to whatever realm of existence he had before?
Cecil dressed up slightly for the performance, he looked to Bea with a wide smile. Wrapping his arm around her he kissed her cheek lovingly. "Erik should be here soon. I'm sure he's giving his version of a pep talk, which isn't much of a pep talk."
He prayed for Erik's sake that he could be saved.
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