make my song take flight
[iwaoi Phantom AU]
Click the link for the song, I promise it will improve your experience.
He’s wearing a mask.
Hajime isn’t sure what he was expecting, now that he’s able to see his face, but it’s not this.
The Phantom looks young, but there is an air of ghastly experience about him that instantly puts Hajime on edge. Hajime knows he’s lived a protected life, and the Phantom is everything he isn’t - haunted, gaunt, fierce, even though there doesn’t seem to be much difference in their age. He carries the marks of someone who has seen entirely too much in his lifetime. Hajime feels dwarfed, small and naive in his presence, like he’s on the threshold to an entire world he never even knew existed.
And yet, despite that, despite the rough edges, the dark circles under his eye, the sunken cheeks and clear marks of desperate survival that are barely covered by the makeup he wears, the half of the Phantom’s face that isn’t covered by the white mask is strikingly beautiful, so much so that it takes Hajime’s breath away.
He stifles a gasp, but it’s too late. There’s a menacing glint in the Phantom’s eyes, and what little light there might have been - interest, intrigue, purpose - is instantly snuffed out.
“Scary, isn’t it?” he says, like this is the reaction he expected. But his voice is soft, an echo of something, something Hajime might have seen in his expression before he closed it off.
It’s not the word Hajime would have used. He makes sure to keep firm eye contact as he shakes his head. “No. Just… unexpected.”
Something like surprise flashes across the Phantom’s face, but it’s gone too quickly for Hajime to tell if he saw it correctly.
“It keeps unwanted people away,” the Phantom says, stepping back, and the way he says it makes it sound like “unwanted people” means everyone. He moves a little awkwardly, Hajime notices, like he’s not used to having someone look at him for so long.
Almost instinctively, the singer averts his eyes and lets his gaze sweep the cavern.
“This is where you live…?”
It’s almost desolate - only a few candles on the walls, some pieces of cloth draped in odd places and across delicate-looking furniture (so out of place down here in the dark, just like Hajime is), and the edges of the cave fading into darkness with no end in sight.
The Phantom smiles, sharp and immediate.
“You judge with your eyes,” he says, a statement of fact. “But that’s not all there is.”
Before Hajime can ask what he means, he turns his back to him with a swish of his cloak, snuffing out the few candles that were keeping the cave alight, plunging them into absolute darkness.
Hajime gasps in surprise, but then a hand grips his arm - he starts, but something about the way these long, slender fingers close over his skin makes him still.
“Don’t look,” the Phantom whispers, in his voice, that voice-
“Don’t look. Listen.”
Hajime takes a deep breath, quieting down in obedience, even though he has so many questions bubbling up to his lips. He forces himself to remain calm, straining his ears for whatever the stranger wants to show him. The hand on his arm is gone as quickly as it appeared, and Hajime tenses. He’s about to ask what this is about when he hears it.
The Phantom is singing.
“Night-time sharpens, heightens each sensation - darkness stirs, and wakes imagination - silently the senses abandon their defenses…”
The soft sound of a violin fills the air, and it melds together perfectly with the Phantom’s clear, beautiful voice, as if he was born to sing this song, in these caverns that play tricks on Hajime’s mind, that envelop him in sound and make him powerless.
He turns his head, trying to tell where the music is coming from, but it’s impossible. It’s everywhere, around him, drawing him in.
“Slowly, gently night unfurls its splendour - grasp it, sense it, tremulous and tender… turn your face away from the garish light of day, turn your thoughts away from cold, unfeeling light - and listen to the music of the night…”
The music builds, Hajime feels himself swelling with the sound, like he’s flying, weightless, unbound, untainted and free.
“Close your eyes and surrender to your darkest dreams, purge your thoughts of the life you knew before… close your eyes, let your spirit start to soar-”
And it softens again, and his heart clenches so hard it’s almost painful. The Phantom’s voice becomes no more than a whisper as he finishes the verse: “…and you’ll live, as you’ve never lived before…”
There’s a pause, and Hajime forgets to breathe. When the song continues, he barely stifles a gasp. There are no words to describe what he’s experiencing, no ways for him to describe the sensation the music invokes in him.
“Softly, deftly, music shall caress you - hear it, feel it secretly possess you… open up your mind, let your fantasies unwind in this darkness which you know you cannot fight - the darkness of the music of the night…”
The sound is everywhere, and it’s consumed him, seeping into his pores, turning him inside out and he can feel himself surrender, throwing caution to the winds.
“Let your mind start a journey through a strange new world - leave all thoughts of the world you knew before - let your soul take you where you long to be… only then can you belong to me…”
And somehow, Hajime feels like this is the only thing he will ever need - the sound of that voice to keep him, to guide him, to carry him home. He realizes he’s been lost his entire life, and now he knows what it feels like to be found.
His legs give way and he sinks to his knees. The Phantom is watching him, he can feel it, even in the darkness.
He lets his eyes fall shut and lets go, powerless to do anything else. Colors of sound erupt behind his eyelids as he lets the music carry him, weightless, high, completely unrestrained.
“Floating, falling, sweet intoxication - touch me, trust me, savour each sensation… let the dream begin, let your darker side give in to the power of the music that I write - the power of the music of the night…”
The violin fades, and Hajime feels the Phantom’s presence beside him again, slender fingers carefully brushing over his arms. And he’s completely at the Phantom’s mercy now - any thought of resisting is long gone, discarded, forgotten. He can feel a tear trickle down his face, but he can’t seem to move. This is the only truth he needs.
“You alone can make my song take flight… help me make the music of the night…”
It’s just a whisper, then the sound fades away, and Hajime can feel himself returning to the earth from whatever spheres the Phantom had taken him to. He’s never been a part of anything so profoundly beautiful, and he knows that nothing in his world can compare to what he just witnessed. Everything else is meaningless. The song is over, and Hajime feels sadness crushing down on him almost immediately.
A man who can make music like this - such beauty, such intoxicating perfection - a man who has seen such heights truly is too much for the world above. The light would destroy him, everything he creates, everything he draws from his lungs, his fingertips, his beautiful mind. The light would kill him. Hajime sees how he’s condemned to this life, in the dark, on his own, in the pain of knowing that no one understands the depth, the importance, the magnitude that he is, that he creates, that he inspires.
All Hajime manages is a soft gasp, a single syllable escaping his lips: “oh-”
The fingers on his arms are tentative and questioning, but they remains on his skin, waiting.
“Let me show you my world,” the Phantom whispers, and suddenly there is a fragility in his voice that wasn’t there before. It’s not an order, Hajime realizes. It’s a request. A question. An offer.
He exhales deeply, drawing away from the touch ever so slightly. The Phantom recoils instantly, all the gentleness gone in less than a second.
“Please,” Hajime gasps, and he feels his legs give way beneath him. “I need… I need a moment.”
It’s too much, too fast, all of it. The enormity of what he just heard has left him breathless, weak, vulnerable.
He loses his balance, feels himself fall back, but he never hits the ground. The Phantom catches him, awkwardly, insecurely. He lets Hajime lean against him, uncertainly steadying him with his arms. He doesn’t ask what’s wrong, but the question is in the concern emanating from him - Hajime can feel it, even though they’re still in complete darkness.
“You… that was… incredible,” he manages, allowing himself to grab hold of one of the arms around him, to bury his fingers in the fabric of the cloak.
“You liked it,” the Phantom says, his voice low and sincere and… surprised?
“…there aren’t words,” Hajime breathes. “I… I’ve never… heard anything like that, ever.”
The atmosphere in the entire room changes, like it lifts with the Phantom’s spirit as he accepts the praise. He’s practically glowing, rising, proud and strong once again, immediate.
“I can show you so much more, if only you let me.”
Hajime shudders a little, both in anticipation and something like trepidation.
“Why… Why me?” he whispers, trying to meet the Phantom’s eyes even in the pitch black darkness around them.
The Phantom pushes away, gets to his feet. A candle ignites.
“Because you can understand,” he says, and it’s that tone again, sincere, deep, heavy with meaning. “You don’t just hear, you listen. I can teach you. I can show you. Come with me.”
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