A/N: I took my own little time writing this chapter, didn't I? Sorry about that, truly. Life gets hectic around Christmas. But look, ma! The chapters are getting longer!

Oh, and by the way: If you don't like Raoul by the end of this chapter, or at least like him a bit more then you did before (Or at least don't call my!Raoul 'fop fop foppipants'), then you don't have a soul.

Yeeeeeaaa. Review? ♥

Alas, time moves on crutches,

Stifled by loneliness, I suffocate in its tomb,

Won't you slake my thirst just a moment,

Take this empty glassed heart and fill it with you.

-Gabriel Frost, "Caress of Abscence"

Act 3, Scene 4: I Just Want

She chose her words carefully when she was around him. She couldn't just say 'Read it to me again', because that was too pushy. And asking him of anything was still out of bounds. So Christine lifted her eyes to his and told him with the glassy green orbs that she wanted to hear the poem once more.

Raoul nodded, and then began.

They had almost mastered the art of speaking without speaking. They conversed with touches, looks, smiles or frowns. Christine had never spoke so little in her entire life; Erik's world had been constantly shattering and reassembling, with each in turn loud. Raoul's world was so small and quiet that you could blink and miss it. Christine found Raoul's world to be dreadfully…


He was still reading the poem to her: "Was it vision, or a waking dream?" They could spend hours like this, with Christine laying on the fine Persian carpet and Raoul in his overly large armchair. Raoul opened his mouth to say the last sentence, but Christine beat him to it. "Fled is that music: -do I wake or sleep?"

While they continue to pretend that they were normal, let us review what lead up to this. Christine had slipped the note beneath his door and waited until eight. Then she went to the clock.

Incidentally, Raoul was there already when she had arrived, a book in hand.

His eyes, still the color of Forget-Me-Nots, had a renegade twinkle in them that night. "John Keats," He had said as he held up the book. "I have a feeling that you might like him."

"I think I've heard of him…" Christine couldn't help but smile. His attitude was fetching, demeanor pleasant. The smile bloomed, making the young woman look radiant. So was this the gentleman he had promised at first? What a nice change from the dark, disfigured men she thought filled her world.

Raoul flipped open the book and let Christine see the page. "Ode to a Nightingale?" She said softly, swirled-patterned fingertips feeling each indentation on the grains of the old paper. Christine had indentations, too, she noted.

"Come, let us be off." Raoul always was in such a hurry to get out of that almost empty hallway. As they left, the hands on the clock whispered 8:01 PM. When they were done reading it was well past midnight. Christine's shoulders curved downward, a yawn replacing poetry in her mouth. Raoul let her yawn, not commenting nor showing any emotion at all. His eyes seemed just as blank as the material that covered his face.



"Where did you learn to cook?"

"What?" Of all the questions Raoul could have asked, Christine expected that one least of all. "Raoul, what silliness! I learned at school, where I learned everything else."

Her answer was barely registered in his mind; he still looked like he was watching a sunset or something else daze inducing instead of having a conversation.

Christine was the picture of emotion. Her teeth bit her lower lips, not hard enough to draw blood, except hard enough to reopen chapped spots. She lifted her torso off the rug, weight all on her palms. "Raoul, I am going to ask you a question now. I hope that's okay."

There. A smile. Blistered lips like the sun escaping the clouds. When those lips moved, it was rays of light into her. Perhaps because it was the only one she heard, recently Raoul's voice had that affect on her. "Okay." One golden ray.

Christ nervously pushed a curled lock of hair from her eyes. "Can I go out tomorrow, out of the house?"

The sunshine spluttered to a halt. Raoul, for a moment, looked furious, as if they were transported to a week ago, when the blood on Christine's hands had been fresh. Christine dared not to look away from the fury; for that, she watched as the anger turned to mild interest as the seconds ticked by.

"That's fine," Raoul said, resting his masked cheek on a hand. Head bowed, Christine murmured her thanks. Her heartbeat was still racing from that brief flash of anger. If Raoul's happiness was her only sunlight, then his sorrow was her oxygen. And Erik… no. She couldn't think of him right now.

She had to focus on Raoul.

"You could come with me, if you want," Christine bubbled. He shook his head, chuckling at the idea.

"I?" His chuckle was violent. "Not I. Delusions are for those with lesser problems."

Apparently, that riddle was her dismissal. Though her anger sparkled in her stomach, clawing up to her throat in an attempt to form disgusting words she could fling out (YOU MONSTER! ERIK WENT OUT WITH ME! ERIK LOVED ME MORE THEN HE HATED HIS FACE!), pity won over. Before she left, Christine let loose a kiss upon Raoul's hand. As her lips swept across the plain of the back of his hand, she tried not to let the mask fill up her eyes, opting to close them innocently. Not because she thought him ugly now did she look away… the answer was simple: When expressing affection to a man in a mask who else did she think of but…

She had to focus on Raoul.

In Raoul's world words were used as gunpowder and everyone had twin pistols in their hands. Nevertheless, peace was so deeply saturated into his being that she felt no fear. "Nevertheless, I will see you tomorrow."

The one-day Christine had to spend was spent in the rain--as is life. In rain, corsets stick to chests tired of breathing more water then air, hands are cold as they grab at skirts to keep them from skimming staining puddles of mud, and you fumble even as you waltz with your natural dance partner: malcontent.

Christine found herself feeling out of place among the masses. Raoul had stuck her right in the middle of Alison, the town she now lived in, a town she didn't know from Eden. He had lightly touched her shoulder—as if that made up for leaving her—then had melted into the shadows. His eyes were still on her, though. She could feel them. Knowing this, Christine masked the gently rising panic swelling in her throat and worked her way down to wet shop after wet shop.

By the time she was done shopping her skin was thoroughly saturated with rainwater. The knowledge that Raoul was somewhere, watching her, had been placed on the backburner. The moment her hands touched her new pair of gloves her mind was spiraling towards different directions.

Gloves. A garment of clothing that covers the hands and forearms from the chill. All of her gloves had always bore an E where her palm met the blue trail of arteries on her arm.

The new pair was made out of plain pink material. There, in the rain, Christine pulled them on. The pink turned to a dark rose as the water on her arm met the once-dry material. Christine's found herself trembling.

"Mademoiselle?" The man who had sold her the gloves, whom she hadn't thought could speak French, said. "Are you… are you okay?"

The tone of his voice felt foreign to her ears. The way he shaped his vowels was much too hard! Oh, how she wished she could respond. Oh, how she died inside to teach him how to speak properly. Her one link to reality as the rest of her jumped ship was the pain, circling her fingernails as they dug into her palms, straight through those pretty pink gloves.

He was touching her shoulder, the foreigner. He was saying things, that brainless foreigner, pushing the shovel deeper into her grave. The foreigner removed the dirt that had been filling her to the brim. With each letter, an a, a r, an e you all right, robbed her grave of its filling. She was opening.

He touched her shoulder and it didn't make up for the Erik had left her.

A sob rose from deep in her throat, and with all her might she squeezed it from her throat. When it was gone her breathing slowed considerably; being reverted to her old self, the girl whose side Erik never left, left her breathless. WHY? Why had he given up on her? Why had he given up on her? She finally loved him like he had always wanted and he let her slide! Did he not want her, breathless, sobbing for him? Hadn't that been the point?

Eyes were burning on her back. Was it his? Could she even tell? The pain of the sob (Truly, it had ripped at the seams), along with the madness of loneliness that had been building for days, along with that damn foreigner who still insisted on throwing words at her, made her believe that those eyes belonged to Erik.

"You're back." Her lips even trembled as she spoke. Tiny rivulets of water trickled over her mouth, drops sliding between her teeth and causing her words to be caught between gurgles. If it was hard to speak with water in your mouth, Christine didn't notice. It was rapture to even play with the idea that her guardian was looking at her.

"Who? Who is back?" The foreigner looked about. Silly man. Only those who he loved could see him. She could see him now. Every shadow bent to a curve appeared to her as Erik's shoulder. Not to mention each white glint of a raindrop, which somehow reminded Christine of a mask. He was waiting for her to prove that she was worthy of loving him. Then she would see him too, fully.

Christine slid off her gloves, shluck, shluck. The foreigner took her right open hand, wrapped it in his, and hissed, "Enough! Come with me, Mademoiselle, we must get you warmed at once!"

Before, Christine would've gladly gone to tea with him, not caring if Raoul would've had to come and drag her from his house, kicking and screaming and still sipping at her Earl Grey all the way. New Christine, or should we say, Reverted Christine only met his grasp with her on and tugged the foreigner closer. It was easy, when the room between them was only centimeters wide, to kill him.

Through the whole process, she did not let go of his hand. Not even as the blood fill onto her spade did she let go. She let go of him only when she was finished, set him back down into his chair, tipped his chin down to hide the slash.

Christine had been lucky. If she had dared to slice his neck on any other day the daylight would've revealed her sin. Lady Fate would not have that, and rain washed away the blood the moment it touched his dark shirt. The rain had also kicked up haze to make the foreigner appear as if he was resting.

He hadn't screamed. He had known what was happening as it had happened. In his eyes, fair green like the grape groves of his homeland, had been no fear.

For that, she gave him back the gloves, laying them across his shoulder, there, a pair. And then, calmly, Christine began to walk away.

Bravo, bravo, bravissimo…

"Christine! Christine!"

His hands were rough against her hands, not at all like the foreigner's. He pulled her into the shadow, against the wall, making her drop the spade. She cried out for her spade, but he made no move to return it to her. All too rough, his hands pinned her to the bricks black with grime.

"Christinehowcouldyou?" Raoul said it all in one breath, voice tense, painful, just like his hands.

People flowed around them, ignorant to the scene going on. Maybe that was why Raoul had no problem being with her in public. Irony aside, Christine couldn't seem to look away from him now, captivated by his very blue eyes.

"You just had to, didn't you? That's your excuse, I'm sure! 'He would've wanted me too… oh, I'm so alone, trapped in a world of mad men, and oh! I'm not just as mad as them!'" He was yelling at her, pushing her away, taking himself to lean against the back of a stall. His hand cradled his face and he bent over, the soft gray cloak tied to his shoulders tenting his body. Christine turned to the bricks and felt a familiar sob building in her chest.

This time, it came out in the tiniest, most delicate tears. She wasn't even trying to seem extra feminine to curb Raoul's anger—there was just a filter on sadness now, allowing only small units to travel out at a time. To the plain eye, Christine's tears would've been lost in all of the rain on her face. To Raoul's eyes, so very bright blue, he saw each tear like it was defined by a great black outline.

"I miss him," Christine whispered into the wall.


"You. Him. Erik. I don't know… not anymore."

There was shuffling behind Christine. Slowly she turned, just as the sun split the storm clouds. The last drops of rain settled into puddles. Roaul wasn't wearing the mask anymore.

Now he wore but that gray cloak, a loose shirt that fell around him like fog, and the rest she couldn't even register because it was too far away from his face for her peripheral vision to pick up and dear God, how could anyone ever think that face was ugly? The skin was scabbing over horribly, making it seem like the left side of Raoul's face was at war with the right. However, it seemed so utterly Raoul.

"What do you want from me?" He asked, forefingers clenching around the eyehole of his mask.

Somewhere, someone screamed, and neither cared to comment on it.

"I want… Someone who will hold me when I get scared then scare me when they hold me too long. I want someone who is always there but never wants to be there, wants to be with me, always. I want to hear my someone crying for me, ripping apart at the seams because he wants to rip me apart and put me back together just in the order he wants me to be in. I want…"
The name was alive between them; She might as well have shouted it at the top of her lungs (And her lungs scaled great heights, as you should know by now). It would've been a 'moment' there hadn't been people bumping them constantly, yelling to each other about "Murder! Murder! Murder of a foreigner!"

"What do you want?" Christine echoed curiously. Surprise passed over his mottled features; then, slowly, Raoul smiled.

"I want Christine Daae. She's all I've ever wanted—" He was lying! "—Since the moment I saw her." He had to be lying! "I also want Christine to stop thinking she has to murder people to feel like she is a person."

Damn! He saw right through her! He could read her like a book! But she smiled anyway, and he smiled, and she giggled, and he put his mask back on. They were having a moment. Christine no longer noticed the weather patterns or the police swarming the area. All she could see was Raoul as he took her back to their mansion in Alison.

Midnight wound through the halls, slowly stitching ripped peopled back together. Raoul sat vigil by Christine's bed. 'I am a monster,' the golden haired man thought. 'I made her cry. And if I hadn't been so cold with her, then she wouldn't have had to kill that man. His death could've been prevented if I had actually talked to Christine instead of locking her away in a tower and expecting her to be happy with it.'

Christine looked peaceful as she slept. Empty, but at least there was no tears. Raoul would prefer an emotionless Christine to one so passionate that she was slitting throats left and right.

Whenever he questioned something as a child, Raoul had been encouraged to go seek his answer. His siblings had raised him that way. The Chagny Troupe was what the neighborhood called the various sisters and two boys, laughing as they said the name, for there was not a more inquisitive bunch in the entire world. Monsieur Chagny had always been so quiet after Raoul had born… after his wife died… Raoul knew that he was supposed to be quiet, too. Sadly, because of his silence, Monsieur Chagny lost his son's respect. No one wants a father who stays inside pouring over poetry instead of outside teaching you how to make a slingshot.

Poetry. His teenage years were intertwined with it. Monsieur Chagny had sent Raoul to boarding school the moment his voice dropped. In those quiet nights spent alone in a room far, far away from home, Raoul had turned to poetry as a way to feel a connection to his father. Just because he didn't respect him meant not that Raoul didn't love him desperately and crave for acceptance.
"Father, I'm studying poetry. I'm thinking of becoming a patron of the arts with my inheritance. The money Grandpa-pa left all of us, that is. Father, isn't that grand?" Raoul had sat with the man in the Chagny study.

For all of his time spent reading instead of having a social life, Raoul won a single smile from his father.

He was sure he could reach Christine the same way. Books, poetry, the meanings behind them both were universal. Surely Raoul could forge a connection with Christine via literature. If he could make the man who never smiled smile, he could make the woman who had once smiled smile again.

However much he was like his father in one way, Raoul still failed to be totally like the man. For one thing, Raoul talked to people, even people who were asleep.

"Christine, I will make you love me. I'll be everything you want, one day." With childlike curiosity—it never leaves you—Raoul ran his thumb across her cheek. Her skin was warm.