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 04. Questions answered and lives change in a matter of hours.
Warning(s): slash (that's homosexual content for those of you who don't know)
A/N: Finally posted.
Story note: Last part of the fourth installment. Raoul needs to get over believing Erik loves Christine. Let's hope things clear up here. It's great that Erik's trying to kill Christine though. Who knows if he will succeed?
By: Lucifer Rosemaunt
Last time: Erik tries to kill Christine. Raoul is left to his thoughts (stupid imagination and jumping to conclusions). A fire breaks out in the opera house.
After the initial disappointment and self-deprecation of having let his prey get away, Erik had been rather pleased with himself. He had enjoyed watching Christine struggle like that, and he had gotten his message across even though he had not been able to kill her.
More importantly, he had even been able to get Raoul to return. Erik was infinitely pleased with himself when Raoul entered the opera house. Perhaps Christine could be of some use if it meant that Raoul would have to run to the opera house every time something happened to her. However, seeing Raoul go search for Christine made him a little more than annoyed.
He followed Raoul to see what would happen. Maybe he could intercept him before he ever found Christine, but true to the managers' words, Christine was backstage. Raoul, knowing the opera house very well, took the quickest path to her. Erik had no other choice but to follow him.
Meg and Madame Giry were the only ones present: Meg at Christine's side consoling her and Madame Giry some distance away watching.
Christine was sobbing hysterically.
Raoul hesitated a few feet away from the girls. Madame Giry had given him a look but remained where she stood. Meg and Christine however had yet to notice his presence.
Raoul heard some remnants of their conversation. Meg had her arm around Christine's shoulders but her words were hardly consoling, "Maybe you're being selfish. You came back so suddenly and expected everything to return to normal."
"I had to come back," Christine mumbled.
"But then you had to go and tell the ghost a lie."
Christine looked at her with reddened eyes, "What do you mean?"
"You said that you told the ghost Raoul had sent you away," Meg shrugged and stated matter-of-factly, "Everyone knows that Raoul didn't send you away."
After the initial blush at having been so obvious about his feelings during Christine's disappearance, Raoul frowned upon hearing of her lie. Why would Christine lie like that? This could be the reason why the ghost was trying to punish her or punish him; he was not sure which one it was.
"How do you know that?" Christine responded defensively. "Did you even know that we had been engaged?"
Raoul stared at her in disbelief. He could not believe that this was really Christine. She had wanted to keep it a secret and now she just blurted it out as evidence to prove Raoul was a good liar? He was starting to believe that Christine did start the fire on purpose. She was definitely not who he had thought her to be.
"Christine," the blonde girl replied shaking her head sadly, "I didn't know that, but why did you leave then?"
Christine refused to answer that question.
"Well," Meg continued, "the Vicomte was moping around after you left. He was here everyday hoping you would come back."
"Oh," Christine tried to defend her reasoning, "he could have just been acting."
"I doubt that," Madame Giry said, "even the ghost knows that to be a lie."
Madame Giry looked pointedly at Raoul. Though neither man had actually told her of their nightly rendezvous, Raoul had a feeling that this was her way of telling them that she did know.
Madame Giry was glad that Erik had found someone. She had not been certain of his intentions towards Raoul until now. Finding Christine hysterical because the opera ghost had tried to kill her had been a shock, but after everything that had happened, she was not very surprised that things had ended up this way. She had heard rumours of where Christine had been. Most of them had to be false, but she knew to be truth that neither Erik nor Raoul had taken her. She had expected worse things to happen to the opera house during the fallout, but instead, she had seen Raoul leaving the opera house late at night with injuries. At first, she had been alarmed, but the Vicomte said nothing of it. In fact, Raoul had looked almost happy during those times she had seen him. The fact that not too long after she had first seen Raoul leave in such a state, Erik had requested for more bandages and salve for mysterious wounds that he would not explain. It could not have been more obvious to her. They were taking comfort in each other's comfort. Violently, but still it was comfort.
Madame Giry also knew better than anyone since she had raised her that Christine was capable of running away. She had in fact figured it to have occurred the same morning that the girl had gone missing.
Raoul cleared his throat. All eyes turned to him.
Addressing the Giry women, he requested, "A moment with Mlle Daae alone please?"
They looked at him for a moment. He tried not to squirm under their scrutiny. Madame Giry stared at him sternly. Raoul knew that she was still protective of Christine after everything. He meant no harm towards her. Meg's look was one of hope and expectation. Raoul hated to think what Meg wanted from him, but he knew he had to focus solely on Christine for now. Madame Giry shuffled Meg away when she did not move from Christine's side.
Left alone with Raoul, Christine hugged her arms around herself.
He took a small step towards her but did not move to comfort her. He did not even know who she was anymore.
"Why did you lie, Christine?" Raoul had not meant to ask that question first. He had planned to ask her what happened with the fire, but he could not help himself.
Christine looked away. Tears clung to her eyes. "He was going to hurt me."
Erik, who had been watching along with Raoul, frowned at her display. He did not believe those tears. He believed them as much as he believed her lies.
Raoul shook his head. "Why would he want to hurt you Christine?"
Both Christine and Erik stared at Raoul.
Erik could not believe the boy had just said that. Maybe he was as stupid as he called him sometimes, but then again, Erik knew he had not realized his attraction for Raoul until just recently. He did have to wonder though what the boy thought of him to think that he still wanted Christine after she had betrayed them both.
"It's the ghost," Christine scoffed, "Does he need any reason?"
Raoul frowned. "Don't slander him, Christine." Hearing her say disparaging remarks about Erik angered him. It was not fair that Christine did not appreciate him when Raoul could not even have him like she did.
Erik had been about to show himself at her comment but hearing Raoul defend him had made him pause. At least, he would find out what Raoul thought of him.
"Why?" Christine asked, "He is a monster. He threatened me Raoul. He tried to kill me." She pointed to redness on her wrist, one the rope had caused.
Raoul looked at her wrist and was not impressed, "How? When, Christine?"
"Earlier," this time Christine did run to him. She grabbed his hands and held them tightly, "he had the Punjab lasso around my neck. He was the reason there was a fire."
"But why, Christine?" Raoul pulled his hand away and stepped away from her again. He ignored Christine's look of confusion. The ghost would not attack Christine unless something was terribly amiss. Raoul assumed it was because Christine had rejected Erik, but he wanted to hear it for himself. He wanted to feel hope again.
"Because I left Raoul," she said in a small voice, "Because I left."
Erik smiled. At least she knew the original cause for his hatred towards her, but she did not understand it completely. She did not need to. As long as she left Raoul alone, she could believe whatever she wanted.
"I explained it to him," Raoul stated. There should not have been a misunderstanding between them. Surely just because Christine had been frightened, it would not be a reason for the ghost to hate her, "just as you explained it to me, Christine."
She stopped crying abruptly and Raoul found it odd that she could control it so well. He was beginning to doubt the story she had told him about her departure.
"You spoke with him?"
Raoul nodded, "He cornered me that morning after you had explained it me."
Christine stared at him. "Are you under his control too Raoul?"
"Under his control?" He stared at her in confusion. "What does that even mean?"
"Those managers," she pointed towards the main hall, "they listen to everything that monster says. He twists them against me."
"No," Raoul scoffed. Maybe it was all about Christine's role in the new opera, "he's not controlling me in any such way. He asked me a question and I answered him. Now answer me, why did you leave?"
"I already told you."
"You told him lies," Erik finally decided it was his time to reveal himself. He was a few feet behind Raoul.
Christine cowered taking several steps away. Raoul's breath caught in his throat the second he heard his voice. He could not believe that he had thought he would have been able to speak to Christine without Erik nearby. Raoul was not sure if he could face the ghost however. His face flushed just remembering why he had fled in the first place.
Raoul controlled his desire to run away again. He could not leave them alone again or something might happen to the opera house or Christine. He just refused to turn around.
He focused on what he had said. Christine had lied to Erik. Not only that, she had lied to Raoul about her leaving. Raoul could not believe it. She had actually betrayed them.
Erik saw Raoul's shoulders tense and his hands clench into fists. He wondered if Raoul would run away again. He would not mind because then it left Christine alone with him to finish what he had started.
"No," Christine yelled back. "I did no such thing."
Raoul focused on Christine. It felt as though he could feel Erik staring at his back. He refused to squirm under the imagined scrutiny. Staring at her, he realized that something was different. Not just with her, with them. He could hear it, sense it. Their voices, their attitudes. They were different from before. Whatever was between them, without even having to look at Erik, he knew had changed. He wondered if it was simply because he knew of Christine's betrayal now.
Raoul shut his eyes for a brief moment imagining how Erik looked. He wanted to see him, to see how he was dealing with Christine's return. He could almost understand Erik's odd actions now as being due to the stress of her return. It was all just due to stress.
He met Christine's eyes. "Tell me what happened."
Christine fidgeted. Her hands clenched the material of her dress. "I ran because I was scared Raoul. I had to leave."
Raoul heard Erik take a menacing step towards Christine, a step that brought him closer to Raoul. He thought he could feel Erik's presence grow stronger. Still, he refused to turn around.
Erik's attention was only partially on Christine. Most of his attention was focused on Raoul. He wanted to force Raoul to turn around. He wanted to see if Raoul believed her lies. He wanted to see if he was having any effect on the blonde at all. Erik was almost willing to accept Raoul's hatred if only it meant that Raoul would turn around and face him.
It was hard to concentrate, but Raoul kept his voice even, "You told me you spent the past seven months hiding afraid for you life."
Christine looked away. The ghost would reveal her lie if she said anything. She needed to deflect the question. She could not win Raoul's support with the truth.
"I have been afraid," she insisted. Her eyes began to water, "I'm so scared, Raoul." She reached out to grab his arm, but before she reached him, Erik yanked Raoul away from her by grabbing his arm. Surprised by the sudden movement, Raoul stumbled backwards. Erik caught him by the waist and pulled him close.
Raoul looked up at him in disbelief, but Erik was focused on Christine. Christine's hand had frozen in midair and she stared at them in disbelief. She quickly refocused herself when Erik growled.
"You will not manipulate him."
Erik had acted on instinct. Seeing that Christine was trying to touch Raoul, he pulled him away. His attention zeroed in on her. She was the threat for the moment.
It was warm. Raoul, realizing what position he was in, quickly got his bearings. He stood and tried to pull away from Erik, but the grip around his waist would not release him.
Christine would have laughed if she did not suspect that the ghost would kill her if she did. "I am not manipulating him." She looked at Raoul, "He's manipulating you, Raoul. Just look at what he's doing now. He's trying to tear us apart. He's holding you captive."
Raoul dearly hoped he was not blushing, but his body was reacting to Erik's closeness. His clothes felt as though they were suffocating him, but the very thought of less clothes and this proximity to the ghost made his heart race and his mouth go dry. Erik's hand had at some point drifted down from his waist and was now resting almost too comfortably on juncture of his thigh and pelvis. The surprisingly large hand was spread wide touching as much of Raoul as he thought the hand could reach. A slight movement of the ghost's index finger came perilously close to what Raoul hoped was not a visible reaction to Erik.
He swallowed the moan that threatened to come out and jumped out of Erik's grasp, not giving him a chance to tighten his grip. He glared at them both. Christine for lying. Erik for being too familiar with him, for the look of hurt in his eyes that made Raoul almost apologize for leaving his half embrace, and for making Raoul want to hold his hands in front of his trousers just in case his reaction to Erik was noticeable. He did not though because it would only bring attention to his problem.
Erik, who had failed to see Raoul's physical reaction to his closeness, had also enjoyed Raoul's warmth. He had been focusing so much on Christine however, that his reaction was significantly less than what Raoul had experienced. He would vividly remember later on how it felt to hold Raoul close, but since his focus had been elsewhere, his body had been moving of its own accord. He had not realized his hand had strayed too low or that he had begun to rub Raoul's leg. So when Raoul forcefully jumped out of his hold, Erik thought that Raoul was going to actually take Christine's side.
Afraid to lose him, Erik glared at Christine before saying to Raoul, "Would you like to know what she was actually doing while she was gone?"
Raoul looked at him warily. He wondered how the ghost would know such a thing.
"No!" Christine shrieked. "Stop saying these lies."
She flung herself at the ghost, but before she could make it very far, Raoul caught her and dragged her away.
Erik was actually surprised that she had been brave enough to even attempt attacking him.
When Raoul put her down, Christine still held onto him. Erik forced himself to stand his ground. It was Raoul's decision to make.
But he could always try to make him see how wrong Christine was for him. He began, "There was…"
Raoul held up a hand to stop Erik from speaking. He looked at Christine with sorrow evident in his features.
"I don't think I even need to know what happened, Christine." He pulled her hands off his. Kissing her hand, he shook his head, "If it was something to anger him to this point," he inclined his head towards Erik, "then I don't think I want to know."
Christine was about to defend herself, but Raoul shook his head. Letting go of her hands, Raoul stepped away from her firmly.
She wiped the tears from her eyes and stood her ground confidently. It was as though Raoul was actually seeing the real Christine, not the weak one she always portrayed.
Christine saw Erik standing there so self-righteous and smug. She nodded understanding that Raoul would not care what she said. He had already made his decision and he had picked the ghost's side. She suddenly wanted to tell him the truth, "It was for me Raoul. I left for me. A chance to get what I deserved."
Raoul heard Erik mumble loud enough for him to hear. "Oh, you'll get what you deserve."
Raoul shot him a warning look before turning to Christine, "Get out of our opera house."
"What?" Christine almost screamed. She had thought that she had lost Raoul's friendship or his trust. She had not thought that he would actually send her away. Pointing at Erik, she argued, "He's the reason for all the destruction in the opera house. He's the problem. I can make this opera house prosper."
"I won't repeat myself again, Christine," Raoul looked at her with disgust. Seeing her trying to blame Erik was annoying him to no end, "I will not have a problem turning a blind eye towards what he might do if I leave you alone here with him," Raoul stated coldly.
Christine stopped yelling. With her fists clenched and back rigid, she raised her head high and stalked off the stage.
End Installment 04
Word count: 2,974
A/N: Don't forget to R/R (Read and Review)!
Chapter review: Oooh, Christine's appearance was more like a cameo! She's gone (hopefully for good, right?)
Author review: I kind of liked the third chapter the best, just because I can see Erik inadvertently making Raoul… (um) blush. Yeah, blush.