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 05. The aftermath of Christine's wake, count the days when things start to change again.
Warning(s): slash (that's homosexual content for those of you who don't know)
A/N: Installment 05 is here. Hurray. Apparently, my guess that it would take longer to get these subsequent installments up was correct. So they'll go up you just need to work on your patience, right? ;)
Story note: This one gets a bit on the annoying side because Raoul is just so damn stubborn. Like really stubborn, but this is all the angst you get before fluff hits you in the form of installment 06. So, brace yourselves.
By: Lucifer Rosemaunt
Erik had the grave misconception that once Christine left, things would be better. He had thought that all his problems would suddenly go away because he had considered Christine the source of all his problems. It had been this belief that kept him from following and killing her after her departure; she was gone and now Erik had a chance to get Raoul. It had also been worth it to see her be thrown out of the opera house by her ex-fiancé.
However, he found out that things were not so simple.
In fact, he had not seen Raoul in three days now. Well, honestly, he had seen Raoul because it was impossible not to see the patron of the opera house especially when said patron was there everyday trying to oversee the forced renovations to the opera house hallway due to the small fire that had broken out due to Christine's stubbornness to die. By now, the hallway was almost completely done. As Erik had expected, the extent of the fire had not been too bad.
However, same said patron was avoiding him. At least it seemed like he was being avoided. It was different from before. Erik could not be quite sure he was being avoided because Raoul did a very good job of appearing very busy. When the managers were not speaking to him, Raoul was speaking to the workers, and if not the workers, to Erik's chagrin, Raoul was speaking to Meg.
Not just speaking though, she would just so casually put her hands on him and Raoul did nothing to stop her. In fact, he seemed to enjoy the attention. He smiled and laughed in all the right places. His eyes would laugh along with him and Erik knew that laugh since he'd heard it so many times before and had been enthralled every time Raoul had been relaxed enough to laugh in his presence.
It was perhaps because no one had laughed in his presence before. That was a partial lie because Erik had been laughed at extensively when he had been trapped in that carnival. This was obviously different, and Erik felt a little possessive over that laugh, over Raoul's happiness. Raoul should not be socializing with the Giry girl or anyone else for that matter. He knew he could not technically stop Raoul from speaking to other people, but that would hardly stop the possessive feeling that swelled up within him whenever Raoul spoke with anyone else.
Erik was certain that he was slowly going mad staying away and simply watching Raoul. But after the whole fiasco after Christine's departure, Erik was not going to push his luck.
He was going to approach him. That was undeniable.
He just was not sure how to do it.
o.o.o Seconds after Christine's departure o.o.o
Raoul stared at the spot Christine had last stood as she told him that she had left for herself. It was not like he could not understand that sentiment. He just could not understand why she had to first string him along before she did it.
But, he was tired of trying to guess people's motives. He was tired of having to read between the lines and dissect subtle meanings. He thought that he had been good at doing so. He had thought he had understood Christine on a deeper level and he had been proven wrong. He had thought he had understood Erik, and now he was beginning to think he had been wrong in that account as well.
Maybe it was because of the way that Erik had been acting lately. Raoul was completely confused regarding his intentions. And he was just tired of being wrong.
Christine had betrayed him intentionally. She had betrayed him for her own future. It was painful not only because had he lost a fiancé and a childhood friend but also because he had been wrong about her for so long. He had deluded himself into believing she loved him more than she did. As much as he really despised her right now for being manipulative, he was more mad at himself for having fallen for it. Was he really that easy to manipulate? Was he really so blind?
Unfortunately, for Erik, it was during this period of self-doubt and loathing that he thought to speak to Raoul. Of course, he did not know what Raoul had been thinking, but it was the familiarity and forcefulness with which he grabbed Raoul's arm that made Raoul spin around and furiously knock the hand away.
Seeing Christine leave, Erik had been ecstatic, strangely satisfied with the new development even though no blood had been spilt. Not only had Raoul sent Christine away, he had done so by defending him and calling it 'our opera house.' He thought that Raoul would feel the same way.
"And you." Raoul looked at him accusingly.
Caught off guard, Erik actually took several steps backwards. This was not the welcome he was expecting. This was not how he imagined Raoul's reaction to be.
"You," his voice showed more hurt than anger and Erik wondered what he could have done this time, "where was Christine?"
Erik looked at him in confusion. There was anger that rivaled Raoul's that simmered below the surface, but Erik kept that quickly in check. He knew the anger was always there when he felt threatened, but he did not want to lose his temper with Raoul. He had learned how to hold his temper in check with Raoul since the boy always made things difficult when they were fighting. If he had not been able to control it, Raoul would have been dead several times over already even if Erik had not intended to kill him. As it were, Raoul was simply making absolutely no sense.
"Didn't you just tell her that you didn't want to know?"
Frustrated, Raoul punctuated his question by poking Erik's chest, "I didn't care to hear it from her, but you… you!"
Raoul could not even finish the statement. He could not believe he had actually thought that he had liked the man. Maybe Christine was right about him being so easily manipulated. He laughed and Erik wished that harsh laugh never came from Raoul's lips. Erik had lied to him this whole time. Old fears of being pitied and patronized came to the forefront of his mind. Erik had known all along and he had been making fun of him.
"You knew where she was this whole time," Raoul stated simply, "and you didn't have the decency to tell me."
Seeing where Raoul's anger was coming from, Erik knew he could not quite deny the fact that he had kept the truth from him, but he believed Raoul was overreacting. He brushed Raoul's statement aside. "Not the whole time."
"Since when?" Raoul challenged. His voice was calm, but Erik knew Raoul was far from calm. The anger was there right in his stance and in his eyes. Erik could easily see it. There was also a lot of hurt. Erik had seen Raoul experience so much hurt already at Christine's expense. He almost felt bad that he had kept the secret since he was now the cause of that pain. That would place him in the same category as Christine.
When had he learned that true details of Christine's disappearance? It was so long ago. He had had his reasons to keep them from Raoul. If he was correct, Raoul had still been somewhat of a rival at that point. Well, not really. He could admit to himself that he had more selfish reasons to keep Christine's whereabouts to himself. He had not wanted Raoul to go after her and then abandon the opera house not just because Raoul had been his only connection to humanity but because Raoul had meant more than that.
"Three weeks." He stated remembering when things had started to change between them.
Raoul looked at him almost hopefully. He could forgive if the ghost had just found out three weeks ago. They had been separated since then and he would not have had any time to tell him. "Three weeks ago?"
Damnit. Erik heard the hope in his voice. He wanted to lie. He was sorely tempted to, but knowing his luck, he was certain that Raoul would eventually find out about the lie and then he would really hate him.
Shaking his head, Erik tried not to look apologetic about it. Being apologetic meant given another chance, Erik might have changed his mind and told Raoul about Christine's whereabouts when he had first learned of it. There was no chance that Erik would have changed his mind about keeping it a secret from Raoul. It had kept Raoul with him, and that was what he had wanted. It was just that simple. "Three weeks after she left."
Raoul's eyes widened. His expression shut down after that. Erik was surprised. He had never seen Raoul mask his emotions that well, at least not around him.
"Tell me where she was." It was the same calm voice but different this time. It had a hard edge to it, like the edge of Raoul's sword when he was trying to kill.
Erik schooled his own features to one of indifference. He explained in detail about the offer at another opera house that Christine received, Christine's success, and her escapade with the patron.
When all was said and done, Raoul had nodded and said as though nothing had happened, "I'll be seeing to the opera house now."
Then, he walked away calmly.
Erik, not one to be walked away from, stopped him by grabbing his arm. This time Raoul did not smack it away. He merely looked at it then at Erik with cold eyes.
"Why are you angry?" Erik asked. He had told Raoul everything. There was no reason for this behaviour. In fact, Erik was getting rather annoyed. Raoul was acting like a petulant child.
"Angry?" And Erik could almost believe he was confused about the question. "I'm just going to talk with the managers about fixing the damages that were caused."
He walked away again and Erik did not understand why this felt worse than when Raoul ran away from him those other times.
"Oh," Raoul paused and looked back, "I don't know if I'll be able to make our meetings. There will be a lot of things to go over in the mean time."
Then he just left.
Erik was not sure he understood what just happened.
Raoul had felt so betrayed learning that Erik had kept such a secret from him. It felt worse than finding out that Christine had betrayed him.
Leaving Erik like he had that day had left him feeling unsettled. He just could not get Christine's voice out of his head telling him that Erik was just manipulating him. And since Christine knew so much about manipulation, Raoul did not see how she could be wrong on such matters.
He did not want to stay away from Erik. He just thought space was what they needed. Space so that Raoul could take a closer look at the 'feelings' he'd been developing the past few months. But that was not really true. These 'feelings' didn't develop until that night when Erik had almost kissed Raoul. It was then that things began to fall apart. It was then that Raoul began to question what exactly he felt for the man.
What had changed? Or was the better question, what did the ghost have in mind? He was manipulating him in some way maybe to have a better control of the opera house by befriending the patron, but like Christine said, the managers already follow the ghost's orders, so why would Erik need him?
Raoul wished he could turn back time. He wished that things would go back to the way they were before Christine came, before he had been delayed for their meeting. Wishing did nothing though. He was still left with his situation, frustrated and confused.
Even keeping busy did not help clear his mind because he was always in the opera house and whenever he was there, he inevitably thought of Erik. Every morning he was forced to pass the very place that Erik had kissed him.
But Raoul did not think it had meant anything. Some reaction to Christine's return. Of course. What else could it mean? Because really, Erik's actions contradicted each other at every turn. A kiss but then the man leaves him alone. He offers friendship but only gives betrayals.
Then, there were the dreams. No, more like nightmares. Nightmares where he actually saw Erik laughing at him for being so easy to manipulate. Those nightmares plagued Raoul constantly. Maybe he was too trusting, too naïve.
He was beginning to hate Erik for the way that he was making him feel.
Raoul was about to leave the opera house after another long day when Meg caught up with him. He found little consolation when speaking to Meg. She was too happy when all Raoul felt was frustration. It was not really her fault and Madame Giry had asked him to keep an eye on her. He had seen Madame Giry worried about Meg's mental state since Christine left, and it was Raoul's fault that Christine did leave. So, it was his fault that Madame Giry had to worry at all. Talking to Meg was not entirely bad. He could forget for a moment that he was worried about whatever was between Erik and him.
Yet, the longer they talked, Raoul felt as though maybe he were doing the manipulating, letting Meg believe that there was something between them when there was not.
Raoul slowed, but did not stop walking. He had learned to do everything on the move. Multi-tasking was now a constant for Raoul. It kept the ghost away.
"Mlle Giry. How are you today?"
"I am well. How are you?"
"… as always," they both said together. Raoul laughed along with Meg's giggle. He had probably been saying that too consistently lately. It was his chance to set up a reason for why he could not stay very long speaking.
"And how is the opera?" Raoul asked even though he knew the answer already.
Meg shrugged, looking up at him through her lashes. "The same. It just feels so different even though Christine had been here for only a moment's time." She touched his arm for support.
Raoul looked at the touch on his arm, but did not say anything about it. He tried to smile and was relieved when it did not feel forced.
"Well, things take time to adjust."
"Yes." Meg was looking at him so hopefully that Raoul knew he had to leave.
Pulling Meg's arm away, Raoul made his excuses, "I have a meeting. So if you will excuse me," Raoul bowed before making his retreat.
End part 01
Word count: 2,501
A/N: Don't forget to R/R (Read and Review)!
Chapter review: meh, nothing good really happened, but poor Erik for being spurned. Poor Raoul (too, I guess) for being confused, but he's just making things complicated.
Author review: Not fond of this one because it's too explanatory.