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

Summary: ErikRaoul slash. Time, a 3parts Series. Installment 02. Misery loves company, but are they really miserable?

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

Pairing(s): ErikRaoul

A/N: I guess I should apologize for shortness and the quasi fluff of the last chapter, but I can't help it. That's just how this installment turned out.

Story note: Last part of the second installment.

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Time: Middles

Part03:Space

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By: Lucifer Rosemaunt

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Last time: They fight and Erik watches Raoul sleep.

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Erik was annoyed. That was an understatement.

He tapped his foot on the floor in Box 5. The repetitive sound echoed loudly in the empty theatre. He should have been focusing on not being found, or reviewing how the rehearsal went today, how the strings had sounded off, how the ballet corps could be improved… he should have been focused on anything but the fact that Raoul had missed their meeting. He had left the storage room for the sole purpose of thinking about something other than Raoul, but apparently even away from that room, Raoul was still on his mind.

It was only because Erik could not seem to wrap his mind around it.

Raoul had missed one of their meetings.

After he had tested, prodded, and made Raoul miserable, for going on six months now, he chose today to be truant. Six full months of their meetings and this was the first time that Raoul had missed one. It should have been commendable really, but it was not. Erik was just trying to figure out what had happened. It could not be because Raoul was sick because the Vicomte had just been there early this morning for a meeting with the managers. Not only the managers though, Erik had seen Raoul with the Giry girl again. Raoul had had time to flirt with the Giry girl, but he did not have the time to show up to their meeting? That was unheard of.

Raoul had left for the afternoon, and then he had simply disappeared.

Erik frowned. That thought was all too familiar. It was too reminiscent of that time with Christine.

He had not thought about her for a while now. Raoul had taken up most of his time and attention. It had been weeks after her departure before he had actually realized that Christine had left his thoughts. It was almost disturbing how easily Raoul had managed to do that if Erik thought about it. There were worse things to worry about now though. There was the doubt.

Had he been duped by the fop? Did Raoul just leave like Christine had?

Erik stood up. He could not remain sitting any more. Moving helped him think, and he needed to clear his mind. However, when he found himself inside the no longer dusty storage room, he let out a frustrated scream.

Had it all been an act just to put him at ease so that Raoul could slip away to meet up with Christine?

No, that could not be right. He had his sources.

It could not be right. Raoul would never do that.

o.o.o

Raoul held onto his right bicep, clutching his arm closer to his body. This way there was not as much strain on the knife wound on his shoulder blade. It did not hurt too much. He had had worse in his fights with the opera ghost, but his angry embarrassment combined with the cut was making his shoulder bother him. The police had bandaged it at the station. It felt surprisingly deep. He could not quite see it because whenever he tried, he had to move his shoulder.

Walking through the streets, he was glad that it was late. Not many people were around to see the state he was in. He knew he should have gone straight home, but he needed to go to the opera house.

He looked over his shoulder for what felt like the hundredth time in this last block. He was on edge. He knew that he was being paranoid, but he could not seem to stop himself from checking. More than the paranoia however, Raoul was also immensely displeased with himself. He had been robbed, almost robbed. Some thief about his age had managed to sneak up behind him. Raoul had been too inattentive caught up in his thoughts about the opera ghost. It was almost laughable. Raoul had thought he was safer on the streets than when he was in the opera house. He had only been 'grazed,' as the officers said, on the shoulder by the thief's knife. He had turned to dodge the blade in his attempt to attack the thief, but he had misjudged his step and stumbled on the gravel. Even with his now quicker reflexes, Raoul had only managed to grab the knife from the thief's hand after he had been injured. Justifiably angry, Raoul knew he almost broke the man's wrist. He loosened it just a bit seeing the thief's pained expression, but that had been enough for the man to slip away. The thief managed to escape to Raoul's dismay. Raoul kept his money and watch and the man got away with his life.

Hearing the ruckus, the police came over. Upon seeing him, they began to fuss about the cut on his shoulder. Raoul knew he was already late because of that scuffle, but they forced him to go to their station to have his shoulder bandaged and to inquire about what had occurred. Now he was hours late for his meeting with the ghost. He almost rethought going to the opera house in his state, but he had already made it to the front steps and figured he might as well check.

Raoul snuck into the opera house not wanting to call any attention to himself since he was technically breaking into the building. He doubted anyone would realize it was him in his haphazard state. The sleeve to his shirt was cut from shoulder to armpit and there were bloodstains on it. His hair was a mess and he had gotten dirt on his face.

Upon entering, Raoul was glad that everything was still. The candles had been extinguished, but Raoul did not need light to know where he was going. He easily made his way through the opera house. He figured that the ghost had long since left the room, but he just wanted to spend some time there. He needed to calm down and the storage room helped him relax. It was like some semblance of sanity... he almost laughed at the thought, the opera ghost and sanity seemed incongruous.

But, he was already getting in a better mood now that he was near the room.

Entering, Raoul let out a sigh of relief. Suddenly he was pushed from behind. His head flung back and he stumbled forward. He tried to stay on his feet, but lost his balance. Wincing when his shoulder hit the floor, he ignored the pain as he used the momentum to bring himself back on his feet. On guard, he wondered if someone was trying to steal from the opera house.

Instead, the ghost stood there with a scowl on his face, an expression that Raoul had not seen for months now, not since they had first fought in this room.

"Erik?" Raoul immediately relaxed without meaning to.

"What are you doing here, Vicomte?" Erik took a menacing step towards him.

The tone of his voice made Raoul frown and step further away from him. Erik had not called him Vicomte for almost a month now. It was somehow worse than the other names that Erik deemed to call him such as fop, twit, and if he was lucky, Raoul with that special tone of voice that seemed reserved only for mocking him.

It was only because they had fought so much that Raoul recognized the weight shift that meant Erik was going to strike out with his left hand. Raoul ducked in time to miss the punch, but Erik knew he would. Erik twisted and grabbed Raoul's arm preventing him from getting away.

"What are you doing here?" He asked through clenched teeth.

Erik knew he should not be so mad. Raoul had simply missed a meeting. They had never agreed that they had to come every night. It was something that just happened. Raoul had every right to miss one night, but Erik was not being rational. He was not even sure why he was so mad since he had calmed down somewhat when he had decided to stay in the room for a little longer. Then hearing the footsteps, Erik had waited to see who it was. But seeing Raoul just enter the room like that, like he... like he. Erik's brows furrowed. Like he had never felt so at ease.

"I can come here whenever I want," Raoul answered defensively.

Raoul did not allow himself to lose his temper though. Losing his temper against the ghost when he was at a disadvantage and when the ghost was angry would be a very bad idea. Raoul bit his lip so that he could focus on something other than how his shoulder was currently being abused. He wanted to scream from the pain, but he held it in. Instead, he let his arm go limp. Erik only held onto his arm tighter.

Erik did not like how calm Raoul seemed. The Vicomte should be afraid of him. He wondered how Raoul could just stand there knowing full well what he was capable of doing. Raoul trusted him. Erik had already known that, but he also knew that he had hurt Raoul enough in the past to give Raoul reason to be afraid of him. He was not sure if he was more mad about the fact that Raoul was not afraid of him or the fact that Raoul trusted him so absolutely.

Jerking him closer, Raoul gasped before he could contain it. Erik's grip immediately loosened, but Raoul's arm was still not released. It was only then that Erik saw the torn sleeve and the red that he felt he should have noticed immediately.

When Erik finally released Raoul's arm, Raoul was relieved. He tried to reclaim his arm, but to his dismay, Erik grabbed his sleeve and tore it off just to look at the bandage beneath.

Raoul looked at him in disbelief and then to his sleeve that was now on the floor.

"What? Why did you...?"

"What happened?" Erik grabbed his arm firmly turning him so that he could see his shoulder blade clearly. Somehow, he managed to not aggravate the wound further. Raoul dropped his head in defeat. He did not really want to explain that he had been weak enough to be injured by some thief off the street. His shoulder was throbbing and Raoul could tell that it was starting to bleed again. Raoul did not think he could feel any more embarrassed.

"I was robbed on the way here," Raoul murmured. He looked away as he said it. He did not want to see the amusement in Erik's eyes.

"Robbed," Erik repeated slowly.

Raoul could not tell from his voice what Erik thought about it; so, he looked back. Erik was staring at the blood that was now spreading on the bandage. His grip tightened on Raoul's arm unconsciously.

Raoul winced. He really did not want to have to pull his arm away. He was sure it would only aggravate the wound further, but he did not know what Erik would do since he could not seem to tell what Erik was feeling at that moment He looked annoyed and angry, but Raoul knew Erik usually was both those things. Raoul considered the fact that the ghost was not outright laughing at him to be a good sign.

Erik stared at the blood. He had not caused this wound on Raoul and for some reason, he wanted to go out and find the bastard who had dared to lay a finger on his property.

His property?

Erik loosened his grip on Raoul's arm. He snuck a glance at Raoul and wondered when he had begun to think of Raoul in such a manner.

Raoul met his eyes. He looked up at him rather trustingly. He was not tense. He was not even trying to get away from him. He was just waiting, waiting for him to react.

Erik released Raoul and stepped away suddenly aware of how close they were.

Raoul, unfazed about what had happened though a little sore, bent down to grab his sleeve off the floor. He did not know if he should even try to save the shirt or buy a new one. Examining the sleeve, Raoul was not able to see the change in Erik's demeanor.

Erik released a shuddering breath. He stared at Raoul as though seeing him for the first time. Why did he feel so confused right now? He clenched his fists and stared at Raoul's exposed arm.

He grabbed Raoul's shoulders and slammed him against the nearest wall. Holding him there rather close, Erik threatened, "Don't be late again."

Raoul winced and momentarily wished Erik would not be so violent.

It sounded like a threat, but Raoul could almost swear that he could sense a little worry there as well. He stared at the mask for a moment before looking past it to look into Erik's eyes. Not knowing why, Raoul wondered if Erik had thought that just like Christine, he had simply disappeared. He understood that fear. He let out a sigh.

Raoul looked at him seriously and nodded his head.

Erik knew it would have been better if Raoul had gotten angry at him for the way he was treating him. Then, they would have simply gone back to meeting everyday to fight with each other. Everything could have gone back to normal. Any response was better than the understanding look and firm acquiescence because Erik was certain that Raoul did understand exactly what he had been worried about. He was certain that Raoul would now do everything in his power no matter what happened just to make it to their meetings on time. It was whether he would arrive in one piece that Erik was now worrying about.

Suddenly, Erik was moving closer and Raoul realized just how close they were. He realized how Erik's body was leaning fully against his. It should have been suffocating but it was not. It was almost nice. It was Erik. And he looked so pained suddenly, moving ever closer. Any closer and... and. Raoul pushed Erik away hurriedly.

Stumbling on his feet again as he rushed towards the door, he looked at Erik who seemed frozen in his spot. Had he been trying to...? Raoul could not even finish that thought.

A small distance more and they would...

Raoul fled.

...they would have kissed.

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End Installment 02

Word count: 2,415

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

Chapter review: Another freaking cliffhanger. What the hell is wrong with me? Things start to get better in the next installment. Even I'm excited!

Author review: I swear the next ones are going to be longer. (I think)

Oh, question! Do you want me to post full installments at once or parts? You know, since I usually finish part 01 before starting part 02. Give me your input. I figure since they're so short, I should just put all three at once. That's the whole point of the 3parts series, but if you think otherwise please tell me.