Disclaimer: Please don't sue. I don't own POTO... All I own is an overactive imagination.

Summary: ErikRaoul slash. Time, a 3parts Series. Christine runs away. More like slashy undertone, beginnings?

Warning(s): slash (that's homosexual content for those of you who don't know)

Pairing(s): ErikRaoul

A/N: Hope you're enjoying this so far. Oh yeah, and Erik moving furniture around was fun. It's all feng shui!

Story note: This is part 03 and as it is a 3parts series, this will be the last chapter. Do not fear. There's a next portion to the series. And let's see… it gets more slashy. It doesn't really get obscenely slashy until the sixth installation of the series. Too bad huh, but considering how much I'm going to have to write now. I think it'll go by quicker than you'd think.

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Time: Beginnings

Part03:Concessions

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By: Lucifer Rosemaunt

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Last time: Erik kidnaps Raoul and Raoul throws up on him.

o.o.o

It was night by the time Raoul woke up and felt well enough to leave the storage room. Admittedly, it had taken him almost another hour just to find the exit and leave without being seen.

It was the morning of the sixth day since Christine's disappearance and this time Raoul did not wonder about whether or not he was going to the opera house. He was going to the opera house. This time armed with a sword and a better awareness of his surroundings.

When he arrived first thing in the morning, he was on edge. It was déjà vu, but this time nothing happened. He waited and waited for the ghost to show up, but no such luck. He had not even been able to focus on those expenses that he had wanted to look over yesterday.

The managers had not asked where he had been yesterday. Raoul wondered if they thought he had taken a day off or if they were conspiring with the opera ghost. When Raoul watched Andre flirt with some dancers, that suspicion vanished. He did not think that the ghost would collaborate with someone like him. They did ask about the deep purple bruise that had formed around his right eye. He was glad that the other bump on his head was covered by his hairline. He had told them it had been a horsing accident and they accepted it as truth.

He spent a day in the opera house looking at the progress of the rehearsals and listening to the managers' complaints. Opera life was still going on even without Christine. Carlotta loved it. He could tell that some of the ballet girls were nervous and Madame Giry seemed to be on edge as well. But, opera life went on rather smoothly actually. Raoul still felt worried about Christine's disappearance although that worry had taken backseat to the worry about the opera ghost attacking him.

When the headache finally went away and he was well enough to think straight again, he wondered about what the ghost was trying to do by saying that he had not kidnapped Christine. Nothing was making sense. Raoul was confused, but he wondered if that was the point. The ghost was trying to trick him. He was trying to keep him in a state of confusion so that he could get away with keeping Christine. Raoul would not let that happen.

o.o.o

By the time Raoul and Erik finally did clash, it was late in the evening and Raoul had been lulled into believing the confrontation would not occur until the next day.

However, when a shadow stepped in front of his path, Raoul took several steps back before drawing his sword.

"Shall we take this somewhere more private?" Erik asked.

Raoul looked up and down the hallway. It was late, but not that late. He did not really want to be seen fighting the opera ghost. Someone interfering would ruin Raoul's chance to deal with the opera ghost himself. He nodded and the ghost turned and began striding down the hall. Raoul felt self-conscious when he had to focus on keeping up with the ghost. He wondered if it was a terrible mistake to go anywhere with him. The ghost could be trying to lead him to a trap and then what would Raoul do? He would have just walked right into it.

From the back, the ghost did not look very pleased. Raoul grinned. He had thrown up on the man, and Raoul believed the ghost deserved it. Raoul sighed. They were surely going to fight about Christine again. He did not understand why the ghost was acting almost cordial, but this felt more like a gentleman's duel than anything considering they wanted to kill each other. When Raoul thought about it though, their last argument had been rather redundant. 'Tell me where Christine is.' 'No, you tell me.' 'Stop pretending.' 'No, you.' It was enough to make Raoul think they were fighting for all the wrong reasons, if there was a reason at all. It bothered him to think that Christine was with neither of them; so, until the ghost proved that he had not kidnapped Christine, Raoul would believe that he had.

When Raoul began to recognize the path they were taking, he wondered just what affinity the ghost had for that particular storage room. Walking to the center of the room, Raoul noticed that the room had been cleaned.

The ghost did not turn to face him as he asked, "Are you feeling better?"

The question caught Raoul off guard. Was the ghost concerned? Raoul answered hesitantly, "Yes. I feel much better. I…"

The sword swung in a large arc about the ghost's head. Raoul barely had time to dodge it. He had not even seen the ghost holding a sword. The realization came to Raoul quickly. The ghost had not been interested in his health. Well, not really, since he was just interested in not having a repeat of yesterday.

At least, it was less confusing that way. The ghost did not want to talk. He did not want to ask those questions. In fact, from the strength of those strikes, Raoul was certain the ghost wanted to kill him. That too was fine. These past few days had been tiring, but they had also been frustrating. He had been on edge today, but he had felt so helpless not being able to find Christine since her disappearance.

Raoul threw himself in the battle. He put all his frustrations and fears about Christine's disappearance into his attacks. He had a feeling that the ghost was doing the same. His hand was growing numb from the strength of their attacks. Sweat was dripping down his back. His hair kept clinging to his face and blocking his view.

There were no words shared between them. It did not matter what they were fighting about anyway. It was just a chance to fight. Distantly, Raoul was aware of the fact that he was bleeding from his arm and that there were several more bruises he would have to hide tomorrow, but he also knew that he was not the only one being injured. He had landed several blows of his own on the ghost.

It was several hours later and numerous broken set pieces later when Erik and Raoul finally pushed away from each other. Raoul leaned against a wooden horse just to stay on his feet and the ghost had taken a seat on a fountain almost across the room.

"Where is she?" Erik asked.

Raoul narrowed his eyes. He had almost forgotten that was what they had been fighting about. "I'd like to know that as well."

o.o.o

Four weeks. It had been four weeks since Christine's disappearance. Everyday for the last three weeks, Erik and Raoul had been fighting. Their bruises had bruises on them and Raoul had taken to wearing more comfortable clothes when going to the opera house. He had even had to get many of his other clothes mended.

Two weeks ago, Raoul received a report from his investigators that no one named Christine Daae could be found anywhere outside of Paris. Raoul had fought harder against the ghost that day, and he came back with more bruises than was normal.

The managers had given up hope of ever finding her, and the opera house was doing well even without her, as though she had never really existed in its walls or had been a star that had shone so brightly on its stage. It had been good publicity for the opera house according to Firmin.

Raoul found himself spending time with Meg. There was some consolation in Meg's company. She seemed to understand why he could not let her go just yet. He felt like he was offering some comfort to her as well.

He never felt calm however until he waited until late at night and snuck into their storage room. Several new broken props would be piled up in the corner and Raoul would push himself onto the horse and wait. Sometimes he would be there for a while before the ghost would make himself known, but Raoul knew. He knew that the ghost was always there before him. He could just tell now. They would fight and expend all their energy into trying to kill the other. It was not just about the exertion though, they were trying to kill each other.

When Raoul fought the ghost, in his mind, he was blaming the ghost for all the problems he had ever experienced in his life. He was the reason that things went badly.

It was one week ago when Raoul realized that not a single fiber of his being believed that the ghost had taken Christine. He had had his doubts to start with, but now… after so long, it had become absurd to think that the ghost might have taken her. It had not only become a possibility; it was the only possibility.

It had taken him two weeks of fighting and of

'Where is she?'

'I'd like to know as well.'

They would glare at each other from across the room and then the ghost would disappear and Raoul would leave the storage room.

Until this past week when that pattern changed suddenly. They had ended up across the room like normal, but the ghost had had a different demeanor while fighting. It was almost as though Raoul could sense the change in him. His attacks were more vicious. His eyes had been glazed over. It was like the ghost was not even fighting him anymore. He was fighting some unseen foe. When they had finished fighting, the ghost did not ask the question he was supposed to ask and Raoul felt at a loss. He had not known if they were done. In the silence, Raoul had taken stock of his injuries. He was almost too tired to move. His arms hurt and he had gotten a particularly bad gash on his leg. The ghost seemed so out of it; he wondered if he even knew that Raoul was still here.

Raoul was just about to stand up and leave when Erik broke the silence.

"How is your brother?"

It would have sounded like a threat. In fact, it did sound like a threat, but Raoul knew better. That was not a threat. It was an actual question. Still confused, Raoul answered hesitantly, "He's been away for a while now."

He wondered if the ghost was just showing off the fact that he knew personal information about his life. It was either that or the ghost was making small talk, and Raoul did not think that it was the latter.

However, that was the start of the week where everything Raoul expected from the ghost was turned on its head. Instead of leaving right after their fights, they would talk. Perhaps it could not be considered talking since it usually consisted of several questions that Raoul had a feeling the ghost already knew the answers to. Then, they would just sit there in silence. Raoul would only leave after the ghost decided it was time to part.

Sometimes they would sit in that silence for such a long time that Raoul began to doze off. When he woke from those naps, the ghost was always still there watching him from across the room. They would make eye contact and the ghost would leave. Raoul did not know what the ghost was thinking at those moments. He did know however, that he always felt his heart beat faster at the thought that the ghost had watched him while he slept. He knew he blushed at being caught, but there was something more. Maybe it was the fact that the ghost could have easily killed him, but he did not. Raoul felt as though they had come to some sort of understanding, and the pain that came with knowing Christine had left them eased somewhat.

o.o.o

It had been four weeks since Christine's disappearance and Erik wondered how life could be so unexpected. He did not know how things could have turned out the way they had.

More than three weeks ago, the Vicomte had thrown up on him. It had been unexpected and unfortunately, Erik knew it to be entirely his fault. He did not make the same mistake twice. So when he confronted the Vicomte the next day, he made certain it would not happen a second time. He and the Vicomte had fought. It had felt wonderful. Erik had not realized how frustrated he had felt until they had fought. Erik had wanted to kill the Vicomte. He wanted to hurt and make him suffer for what he was doing by kidnapping Christine. At that moment, he had been so angry that he wanted to kill the Vicomte more than he wanted to find Christine. He would have if only they had not been so well matched. He had not expected the Vicomte to make it out alive that first time they had clashed properly. Yet, repeatedly, the Vicomte was alive at the end of their battles.

Two weeks ago, life around the opera house returned to normal. Erik had seen it happen many times before. People left the opera house and their existence simply faded to nothing. Things had easily fallen back into the same routines that had run the opera house for so long. Finally, Erik had begun to doubt that Raoul had taken Christine and accordingly, he had sent out the best people from the streets to find where she had gone.

One week ago, Erik learned that he hated Christine. It felt as though his heart had been torn from his chest. He had even suspected a betrayal, and yet discovering it from his informants had been worse than he thought possible. She had betrayed him, betrayed him completely. He had felt lost. How many years had he spent cultivating her voice? He had watched her grow. He had believed that she would stay with him forever, that she would realize he was the one she belonged with. No. He told himself that he would not be broken by this news. But, what else was there?

Erik had locked himself in his home that day. He had paced angrily breaking everything in his path. He wanted to destroy everything that reminded him of her, but then he would have to destroy himself. He told himself that she was no longer important even when he knew that she was. She would fuel his hatred towards humanity for a long time. She had the same spot in his heart that was occupied by his mother and those gypsies.

He would have wallowed in self-pity for weeks if it were not for the fact that he was waiting. The boy still believed him to be at fault. Erik knew it had been easier when he believed Raoul to be the suspect.

Not his Christine. His Christine… who was no longer his Christine.

He had wondered if he should tell the Vicomte that there was no more reason for them to be fighting. He had discovered the truth. They had both been betrayed. But Erik had been angry, frustrated. He wanted to kill something, hurt someone and Raoul had provided the best outlet for his frustrations. They had actually both been more injured that night. And after they had fought, Erik realized he wanted to keep fighting. He wanted to meet with Raoul every night. He was growing to look forward to their meetings. It was stupid of him, but the Vicomte was a worthy opponent. He had to be if he wanted to stay alive.

So, he had stopped asking that question he was supposed to ask – mostly because he already knew the answer, and partly because he did not want to hear Raoul's response. Instead, he watched Raoul. He watched his rival and wondered why someone so stupid could fight so well. The loathing was fading though. Raoul was a pitiable creature: for his naiveté, for his blind trust, for his love given to a girl who did not deserve it. Erik could not deny that he felt some connection between them.

Raoul waited for him to leave every night after they fought before he returned to his estate. Erik had noticed this earlier, but did nothing about it until the past week. He waited to see how long he could push that patience. He would ask a few questions that he knew the answers to and Raoul would respond. Then, Erik would wait. He would wait for Raoul's body to relax visibly. Then, Raoul would have a hard time keeping his eyes open. Erik could practically tell what Raoul was thinking. Raoul would make the concession of resting his eyes for a bit, but then he would fall asleep. Erik would watch raptly as Raoul's mouth was partially open and his head tilted at some odd angle he was certain would cause the Vicomte some pain when he woke. It was calming watching him sleep.

He doubted Raoul's exhaustion was so great that he did not see the danger in falling asleep in his enemy's territory (currently five times in a row), but there was that blind trust. It was the blind trust that kept Erik across the room and only watching.

His hatred for Christine seemed to grow when he watched Raoul sleep. Maybe it was because of Raoul's ignorance or the fact that he could not get Raoul's declaration of love for Christine out of his head. Erik had loved Christine that much and more. He had needed Christine more, that was for certain. And some of his hatred would be directed towards Raoul. He wanted to hate the stupid, idiotic fop of a boy.

But he could not hate him that much, because Erik would watch the blush that would form on Raoul's cheeks when he woke up. Raoul would meet Erik's eyes with a sheepish grin and apologetic eyes before running a hand through his hair. No one had ever looked at him like that. He had never seen anyone so openly give that sort of trust to him. Not even Christine had. Several times already, Erik wanted to just stay there until morning to wait for Raoul to fall asleep just to watch him wake up again, but he would not give into that temptation. He forced himself to leave every time after Raoul woke.

o.o.o

On the start of the fifth week since Christine's disappearance, Raoul stepped into their storage room with a purpose. He walked towards the throne where he knew the ghost liked to sit as he waited for Raoul. Luckily for him, the ghost was already there. Raoul did not want to lose his nerve waiting. He spoke firmly, breaking the routine they had so meticulously followed for three weeks.

"Christine's not coming back. Is she?" Raoul looked the ghost directly in the eyes.

Erik looked at Raoul uncertainly. He did not like where this was going, but he shook his head slowly.

Raoul stated, "She left us."

Erik nodded even though it was not a question. Raoul wanted confirmation anyway.

"Then," Raoul was tired. He had come to a conclusion last night. The ghost was humouring him. He was the last one to realize that Christine was not coming back. She had left even though she told him that she loved him, even though he had told her that he loved her. He had already known that. He had resigned himself to that fact, but some part of him harbored the belief that she would come back. She was not coming back though. Last night, he had realized that the ghost had probably known that fact long before he had. Raoul had taken such comfort in the silence that they shared after their fights that he had not seen the truth. The truth was that the ghost was probably laughing at him for being so pathetic. That look in the ghost's eyes was probably contempt. The ghost was probably even laughing at him as he slept. And when he could not sleep, he wondered why those thoughts about the ghost hurt.

"Then, there's no reason for us to fight anymore." Raoul turned around without waiting for a reaction and left without another word.

Erik stood up then, but did not say anything. He could not call out. He knew this moment was coming. As much as he waited for these times that he could spend with Raoul to come, he had known that Raoul would also leave him. He just had not thought it would be this soon or that he would feel so much at a loss. With Christine gone, there was no one left to speak with. He was truly alone now, again. He did not know if he could do it anymore, being so alone. He had planned to be with Christine forever, and now she was gone and the last connection he had to humanity was leaving him as well.

Erik cursed humanity though. He hated people for their weakness, for their betrayals, for their cynicism, for their distrust, and for their hate. Raoul, on the other hand, was so far from that. Erik had stopped hating Raoul so much sometime during those nights when they had fought. He had stopped hating him completely when he learned that Christine had betrayed them both. And, he had somehow grown dependent upon him sometime during those few hours he had watched Raoul sleep.

Erik did not move to stop him from leaving though. That dependence was not what he wanted – not with Raoul and not with anyone else for that matter. He told himself it was better that Raoul would finally leave him alone.

o.o.o

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End Installation 01

Word count: 3,660

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A/N: Don't forget to R/R (Read and Review)!

Chapter review: He just left!! A lot of time passed in this one little chapter. Go figure. I jump time a lot. Oh, and it turned out to be more Raoul-centric. I tend to do that because he is my favorite. He doesn't get enough love and I pick on him entirely too much. So, I'm being kinder to Raoul in this one (except for the last chapter where I knocked him unconscious and made him throw up).

Oh and Erik's stubborn, he has grown dependent on Raoul though.

Look for the next installation of Time: a 3parts Series.