A/N:The silliness I find hidden in folders deep within my computer. :-P Critique for this piece is highly appreciated, as for my other work, "Secrets In Venice: Of Wine And Wit". And the others, if you could be ever so indulgent.FINAL FAVORS
"Shoot me, Raoul."
The sharp, panging sound reverberated in his head, like that time when you dropped your mother's favorite hand mirror, and a ball of dread and fear formed a pit in his stomach, much like that time as well, when you imagined the rage she would throw against you. The figure speaking was stooped over an organ, and he, standing feet away.
"Why?" he said, trying to feign bravery. "You've taken so many other lives, yet you are a coward to take your own!"
"Shoot me." He repeated, ignoring him.
"You are a coward! You give no thought to the assault of an army of shotguns turned against you, yet you cower fear one gun if it is turned against you by your own hand!"
Erik heaved a breath, a long, desperate sigh of a breath. "Yes, you're right." He said airily, weakly, much to Raoul's surprise. "I fear to take my own life, for that will only add up to the sins I've committed in this earthly world. I fear hell, Raoul. I've already had a portion of it, and I dare not even think about it in its entirety."
"But I'll be sinned a murderer, then." He countered, the cold, thin handle of the pistol suddenly becoming solid and real in his hand. "I fear hell as well."
Erik turned to him. "Would it still be murder if the murderer performed the murder with the full consent and knowledge of the murdered?"
Raoul looked at him, perplexed and puzzled. "No…"
Erik laughed. "That is how I'll remember you, de Chagny. Dazed and confused, utterly naïve…" Without warning, he rounded up on Raoul, grabbing him by the collar and with ease, lifted him up to dangle a foot or two over the floor. "You can just shoot me at the neck, then put the gun in my hand!" Dropping the viscount to the floor, he rushed back to his seat and began to demonstrate, his body damp with sweat and his voice feverish.
"See," he said, resuming the crouched position sprawled over the keys of his organ. "I'll lie like this, and you… You stand here…" he said, gesturing to a spot only inches away from him. "Swiftly, you shoot twice, thrice, it will be painless for me, if that is what you are fearing. And as you shoot, I'll leave my hand," he said, simultaneously lifting his right hand. "open, and then you can just curl my fingers around the gun's handle, and you can leave! Go with Christine, far away, and leave Giry to discover me…" his voice trailed and died down.
Raoul took tentative steps towards him. "You really loved her…" He murmured, his fingers coiling around the pistol, index brushing the trigger, as if he was actually considering his request.
"I did." He whispered huskily. "I do. I still do."
Raoul was now standing inches away from him. He placed the gun's opening on Erik's back, but had no plan on shooting. He used it to trace the contour of his back, every curve and form. Erik straightened abruptly, causing Raoul to suddenly step back. Erik cleared his throat and turned to face Raoul, but at an angle, where his deformed side was not seen.
"Raoul, I love Christine. I know that her life would be better with you. But that does not mean I will be gone for good. I can't guarantee that I won't be around to jeopardize your relationship, because I will, at any chance I can. But when I am dead, I believe that I shall have partially redeemed myself, taking myself away as a hindrance in your life and in the lives of others." He paused for a moment and laughed painfully. "I could kill you myself right now, and I can do it coldly with the precision of an experienced killer… Because, coincidentally, I just happen to be one!" he laughed at his own morbid humor.
"Come hither, Raoul." He said in his smoothest voice. Raoul, in turn stepped forward slowly, the gun subtly hidden behind him. Erik, once Raoul was near enough, swiftly took the gun and placed the muzzle of the gun in the middle of his open chest.
"Save yourself now, de Chagny." He said. "Save me."
Raoul saw the desperation in his eyes. He saw all the sadness of the world. He heard a plea, and tried so hard not to turn a deaf ear towards it. Or tried to do so.
He was having an excruciating time, and it twisted his heart to see the tears roll down his cheek. Instinctively, Raoul reached over and wiped them off with his fingers. Erik placed his hand on top of the hand of his only and greatest foe. Raoul felt his own tears well up in his eyes as he felt droplets of pure and tainted sorrow streak the palm of his hand.
He sighed. "I thought you said you'd make it seem like a suicide…" he said.
Erik looked up at him, and lowered his eyes, to hide the smile on his face. Promptly, he stooped over the organ; his arm stretched to his right, elongated, elegant fingers limply open in the air.
Raoul suddenly didn't want to see him go.
He went to the position and aimed the muzzle of the gun at his neck, estimating the spot where Erik would shoot based on the length of his arm. Erik eyed him and slightly nodded.
It happened smoothly, like the day melting for the night. In seconds, his world began to dim and he felt his spirit rip from his mortal temple. Quickly, Raoul curled Erik's fingers around the gun's handle and stepped back. Erik was heaving breaths, the number decreasing with every second. Raoul went nearer to him and looked at his face, discerning every detail of every part he could see. He would not forget that face.
Erik looked up at him and pensively said "Thank you." A smile graced his countenance, one that showed relief after reaching the destination of a long and weary journey.
Raoul acted upon impulse and leaned forward. Moments before his death, their lips met each other, for the first and last time. A feeling unlike any other surged through his body, and Raoul knew Erik felt it too. He deepened that kiss and memorized it. He would not forget that kiss. He would not forget that feeling.
When they pulled away, Erik rested his head on his arm and closed his eyes. Raoul felt the tears trickle down.
"I… Christine. She would have wanted to give you that." He said, turning to go.
Erik respired one of his last breaths. "I think I would appreciate it, remember it, cherish it more, if it came from you, Raoul."
Raoul smiled and turned away. "Then it is yours. From me, to you."
No words were exchanged after that. Raoul quickly left, using the hidden exit that led to Rue Scribe. He knew Christine would be waiting for him there.
He left Erik alone, fresh blood dripping and rolling of his skin. It was warm and sticky, slowly trailing down his neck and shirt, but wherever it touched, a cold and empty spot was left behind. Erik's eyes rested on candlelight. He watched it dance in the air, and smiled as it slowly faded away. He found it beautiful, the flame draining away slowly, like his life.
For Erik, the flame had died at the same moment he did. But in reality, he closed his eyes on a bright, burning fire.
February 26, 2005