Raoul doesn't know which hurts more: the physical agony of being split open, filled from the inside out, completely and totally possessed by a man he loathes; or the emotional agony of sin and debasement, the shame that fills him at being brought so low, the debauchery that despite the pain he can't help but enjoy.

The fingers of Erik's left hand grip his shoulder hard enough to bruise, five needles stabbing his skin, and Erik's hot, ragged breaths blast into his ear. He sees nothing, for both of them insist on complete darkness for these late-night "meetings," but still screws his eyes shut. His teeth sink into the expensive lining of the coffin pillow as he tries to keep from screaming, because that is the one satisfaction he will not allow Erik. He will let the man bring him low, but never let him know either with tears or with screams how low he has been brought.

He feels sick. Sick from the wrongness, but even more sick from the rightness. Sick from shame, from pain, from pleasure. And sick because he doesn't want it to stop.

Erik doesn't know which to be more ashamed of: that he cannot bring himself to think of Christine at a time like this, or that deep down, he believes that he should. Oh, certainly, he had dreamed often of going to bed with her, but this raw, gasping, bloody moment is nothing like what he imagined. And yet, somehow, he wonders if this is what it's like always, if his dreams of her were nothing but the idealized fantasies of a romantic recluse.

It's like killing, almost. He has held the still-warm entrails of a dead man in his hand, and though the slick heat and pressure of every thrust now pander to a different sort of pleasure, the triumphant roar of bloodlust in his ears remains. He almost loses himself in the thrill of sating his lust through the boy, of hurting him, taking pleasure in making him one of his victims.

But all the same, he feels sick. Sick because he intended this moment to be tender, not painful. Sick because he expected it to be with someone else. Sick at the thought of hurting her through her fiance. And sick because he doesn't want to stop.
"You're not coming back, are you." It's not a question.


"When's the wedding?"

"Noon tomorrow."

"Have fun on your wedding night." Not bitter not bitter not bitter not--

"You of all people know that I won't."

bitter. Very bitter.

They never did it outside of the coffin. The red of the bloodstains was never visible on the black satin, and neither of them would have skeletons in his closet. They would bury it all and go on with their lives and their deaths, and if the one of them found that he could never love his wife as fiercely as he had (carnally) hated his rival, or the other realized that even the power of her forgiveness could be washed away in a red tide of hateful lust--well. That's what coffins were for, wasn't it? To bury things.

"Raoul." It's the first time Erik has used his first name.


"Take care of her, will you?"

"I will."

The first shovelful of earth falls on top of the casket, and the pain begins to be replaced with numbness.