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)

Pairing(s): ErikRaoul

A/N: Last chapter of Installment 05. Thanks to my reviewers and readers (I'd say more thanks to my reviewers :P)

Story note: Don't worry, they will get over their assumptions… it gets major fluffy in the next installment. I'm so tired of UST.

o.o.o.o

Time: Days

Part03:Manipulations

o.o.o.o

By: Lucifer Rosemaunt

o.o.o.o

o.o.o.o

Last time: Erik threatens Meg. Raoul gets defensive. Erik thinks that perhaps Raoul has a chorus girl fetish.

o.o.o

Raoul entered the opera house and expected to see the managers waiting for him. He had always planned his days lately so that he met the managers the second he stepped into the theatre so that he could leave as soon as possible as well. However, as he entered the opera house in the late afternoon, he was intercepted by Meg. Shocked and wary, Raoul tried to walk by her without saying anything. Madame Giry and he had already talked about their current situation. He didn't want the ghost to do anything to her simply because of a hello.

Meg, against her mother's wishes, had wanted to confront Raoul one last time. She was not going to allow him to ignore her. As he averted his eyes, Meg frowned.

"Vicomte."

Raoul gave her a warning look and strode purposefully away from her. Meg, ignoring the warning, walked faster to catch up to him.

Reaching out to him, Meg called, "Vicomte. I want to talk to you."

Raoul easily dodged her grasp, but knew that he would have to deal with her eventually. Meg would not stop. He finally stopped walking.

"Mlle Giry. I do not think that it is wise for us to be speaking with one another."

Meg nodded, but kept him from leaving by standing in the way. "I just want to know. I am interested in you. Are you in me?"

Raoul shook his head firmly. "I'm sorry Meg. I only ever saw you as a confidant of sorts."

"Just because of the opera ghost." Meg whined.

"No," Raoul responded, "Not just because of the ghost. I never would have accepted your affections and I apologize for making you believe there was a chance."

Meg nodded. It hurt, and she hated that she had thought he would have fought for her.

"A kiss?" She looked at him with tears in her eyes.

Raoul shook his head. He wouldn't do that. He usually didn't care. A kiss was just a kiss, right? But this was Meg and he was in the opera house. Erik would probably be watching and knowing that Meg was in danger by just talking to him was enough to put him on edge. There was also a part of his mind that truly didn't want to kiss Meg in front of Erik. It was Erik after all and as much as he was afraid of being manipulated, Raoul couldn't deny the fact that he responded to the mere thought of the man. It was frustrating at best.

Meg sobbed, but managed to stifle any other sound. In her mind, it wasn't fair that the ghost was ruining everything for her.

Taking some pity on her, Raoul kissed her on the forehead before leaving. He heard her running off in the other direction.

He was worrying about his predicament with the ghost when a sound caught his attention. It was small and practically nonexistent. In fact, it was like he had almost imagined the sound completely. Yet, something about it had caught his attention. It was difficult to place the sound at first, but as he saw Meg turning a corner from his sight, everything seemed to click into place.

The swish of a cloak. That's what the sound had been.

Raoul quickly sprinted towards Meg and as she turned another corner, Raoul was right there a few steps silently following her. The ghost came out of his hiding place several paces behind her now that Meg was alone. Stalking towards her, he smiled as she unknowing left Raoul's presence.

Erik was going to approach her when he was tackled to the side. They slammed into the wall but both remained standing. Meg, not realizing anything was amiss, continued to run away.

Without bothering to look who it was, Erik grabbed for the person's throat only for his hands to be deflected.

"Erik." Raoul took several steps away from him,

Seeing who it was, Erik smirked. "Raoul. I thought you had left."

Raoul leaned against the wall trying to appear nonchalant even though his nerves were on edge. He wanted to leave, but he did not know what Erik was going to do when he did. Erik had a manic look in his eyes and Raoul was glad that he had even heard the ghost stalking Meg.

"That much is apparent. Why were you following Meg?"

"The Giry girl?" Erik asked innocently, "I wasn't following her."

Raoul glared at him. "Don't lie to me."

Erik shrugged, "Perhaps I was following her, but I wasn't planning on anything. Just innocently following."

"Innocently?"

Raoul did not know what to do. He was acting a lot calmer than he felt. He was responsible for the people in the opera house. He was responsible for Meg since Erik had begun to threaten her. He was not able to leave or run away, but he really didn't want to have this conversation with Erik. He didn't want to fall prey to the opera ghost's manipulations. But God, had Erik always looked so… so appealing.

It was the smirk. The playful look in his eyes. The way that he moved.

Raoul shook those thoughts from his mind. It had barely been five days since he had last seen Erik and this was how he reacted. Now that he had seen him, Raoul was only more aware of the fact that he had missed the other man. At least, when he wasn't worried about being manipulated, he missed him.

"Don't stalk her," Raoul kept his emotions at bay. His thoughts were being clouded.

"Are you jealous?" The tone of his voice made Raoul pause. Erik sounded too smug and a little angry. He sounded like this was what he had wanted in the first place. Had the ghost wanted him to protect Meg?

"No," Raoul replied cautiously, "worried."

Erik couldn't believe that the boy had actually caught him unawares. It was impressive, but perhaps it had been because he had caught the kiss the Raoul had give Meg. He had given it so freely. Erik had been too angry to notice anything else but trying to kill Meg. He would have, but this was an interesting development. Raoul was finally talking to him.

Raoul wondered Erik was planning. Meg had gotten away. That was good, but knowing Erik, it only meant that she would be in danger later.

Thinking back to their meetings, Raoul wondered if Erik had always been so cocky. Maybe, but Raoul knew he had been cocky as well. It had been too easy to relax in his presence and to tease each other. Erik was playing with him this time. He was so tired of the ghost's games. He was tired of having to worry about Erik betraying him or hurting those around him.

There in the deep recesses of his mind, he was also afraid of his body betraying himself. His body had reacted to Erik's presence. His mind was brought back to the hand on his thigh. The blood rush to that area made him force the memory back. Yes, his body would easily betray him without a second thought.

This gave him an idea. If Erik was going to try to manipulate him, then maybe he would be able to get even. It was only fair that he should be able to play with the ghost instead. It couldn't be him alone that was affected by the other. For a frightening moment, Raoul wondered if that was what Erik was doing. The man had seen his attraction for him before Raoul had ever recognized it and now he sought to use it against him. Swallowing nervously, Raoul pushed the thought away. He wanted to be able to retaliate. He could do this.

Raoul tilted his head and smiled his most charming smile at the ghost.

"Do you want to play?"

Erik's smirk disappeared. That smile went straight to his cock. Raoul was up to something, but God, he couldn't think straight right now, much less wonder what Raoul was doing besides smiling at him seductively and licking his lips.

"Play?" Erik cleared his throat when the word came out an octave higher than his normal voice. He asked again, "Play?"

Raoul nodded and felt absolutely foolish for what he was doing, but Erik seemed affected by it. "You like hunting, right?"

Erik shrugged realizing that he was staring. Still, he couldn't take his eyes off of Raoul. He forced himself to take a deep breath. Raoul was up to something. He knew it.

Raoul pulled off his jacket and dropped it to the floor. He almost hesitated, but the ghost wasn't laughing at him yet, and if that intense gaze meant anything, he wasn't doing too badly.

Erik watched raptly as Raoul tugged on his cravat. A bit of neck was exposed and Erik wondered why he couldn't tear his gaze away. He was supposed to be doing something right now. He knew that. He just couldn't remember what it had been. Standing frozen in place, Raoul walked closer to him as he succeeded to free himself of the cravat. Draping it around Erik's neck, Raoul leaned forward, dangerously close to Erik's face, he said,

"Do you think you can catch me?"

Raoul didn't know what he was doing, but he knew he had to run. Once those words left his lips, he had turned and fled down the corridors he knew would be empty. It took a moment but he could hear the ghost really close on his trail. He slipped through hallway after hallway trying to keep his wits about him. He knew this opera house. Maybe not as well as the ghost, but he knew just as many hiding places as anyone who had lived there all their lives. And now, he was certain that Meg was going to be safe until she reached the safety of the others in the opera house.

Raoul only had to worry about himself now.

Erik's breath had caught in his throat. He felt a little lightheaded considering his blood had all traveled downward when he had felt Raoul's cravat around his neck. He knew that he had stared wide-eyed at Raoul when he had moved even closer. Erik thought that Raoul was going to kiss him.

That tease.

It was quite different being on the defensive on such matters. Erik had never been so aroused in his life. And that invitation. Erik was reeling with the desire that had flooded his system.

It took him a moment to realize that Raoul had left him standing in the middle of the hallway shocked. He grinned. Yes, he liked to hunt and yes, he was going to catch him. Grabbing the cravat and stuffing it into his pocket, Erik raced down the hallway he had seen Raoul escape through seconds earlier.

o.o.o

Erik had to admit that his prey was proving to be more wily than he had first expected. Yet, as time went on, it did not diminish Erik's excitement. In fact, it only increased it. He knew that when he finally did catch Raoul, it would be that much sweeter.

He did wonder how his prey had done it. He'd given him the slip again. That wouldn't last long. Erik was doing a systematic search of the opera house. It would only take some time.

o.o.o

Raoul wanted this chase to end. After the adrenaline had finally worn off, Raoul had been appalled at his own behaviour. He did not know what had possessed him to do that. The very thought of how he had approached Erik made him blush, and every step he took was making him believe that it had been a very bad idea to tempt Erik like that. That's what it had been. Raoul had intentionally tempted Erik and the man had looked excited. Just remembering the look in Erik's eyes made a shiver run down Raoul's spine. It had definitely no been a well-thought out idea. Just what would Erik do once he caught him. He had managed to elude Erik for the past few hours. He had attempted to exit the opera house several times, but it had been difficult to get out unseen. He hadn't wanted anyone to stop him. He doubted Erik would wait for their conversation to be finished before acting.

He was tired of running and he was certain it would be sooner than later that the ghost chased him down. Instead of being caught unawares, Raoul slipped through the halls and went to the one place he felt was at least equal ground in the opera house, the storage room.

Relaxing as much as he could on the bed, Raoul waited.

o.o.o

Erik had checked everywhere. He was fairly certain that the boy hadn't left the opera house. He was too concerned about the Giry girl and Erik had made certain that Raoul couldn't leave.

Now that most of his desire had been sweated out of his body through running around the opera house, Erik had enough time to really think about what Raoul was doing. He realized that Raoul had probably only done that little act for him because he wanted to protect Meg. It made sense since Erik knew that Raoul had been uncertain. He had seen it when he first thought to kiss Raoul. Raoul had been absolutely terrified and confused when Erik had kissed him, and now, Erik knew Raoul was just confused. He didn't know why, but he was getting too impatient to care anymore.

Raoul had started this game, and Erik would gladly finish it.

There was only one place left that he had not checked. Erik entered the storage room and sighed in frustration thinking that it was empty. However, a sound caught his ear. It was a muffled moan. His eyes easily picked out the body in the bed now that he knew there was someone there.

He quietly approached the bed hoping to catch Raoul unawares. Raoul on a bed? The boy's invitation was much too great for Erik to ignore. However, Raoul woke up before he could reach him. What a shame.

Raoul sat up quickly. He heard the footsteps and the breathing. Sliding off the bed, Raoul stared Erik down.

Erik smirked. Raoul looked ruffled. His hair was a mess, and his clothes were awry. It was endearing. He found it almost impossible to restrain himself.

"You found me." Raoul stated. He hadn't been hiding anymore. It had only been a matter of time that Erik would find him. He just hadn't expected to fall asleep.

Erik grinned, nodding. "I caught you."

Raoul frowned. He had regretted this game of theirs the moment it started, and now was the moment to tell Erik he was not going to have it anymore. He refused to deal with the uncertainty any longer.

"I want this to end."

"The game?" Still grinning, Erik commented, "The Giry girl?"

"Yes," when Erik looked too pleased, Raoul changed his answer, "No. I mean everything."

"What do you mean?" Erik realized that Raoul would finally tell him what was happening between them. Things had been strained. Annoyingly so.

Raoul growled. He didn't like how Erik was still playing dumb, "I want you to stop playing with my mind. I know everything now."

Erik looked at him in confusion. He swore Raoul made things up just so that they could argue, "What do you know now?"

"I know that you're just using me. Manipulating me."

"Manipulating?" Erik wondered why that word sounded so familiar to him. He thought back to when this had first started. It clicked then. Christine. "I'm not manipulating you," Erik stated firmly. He couldn't believe it. Even gone, Christine was ruining everything.

"You've been lying to me for months now. It was stupid of me, really," Raoul smiled, but it was full of hurt, "to think that perhaps we had become friends." Shaking off his sadness, Raoul stated firmly, "I'm not going to be here for your amusement anymore. I'm not interested."

"Well," Erik said. He was not going to let Raoul just walk away. That was one thing he would not allow, "I am interested. I'm not manipulating you, Raoul."

"God, just stop lying already," Raoul yelled in frustration. Everything the ghost was doing had been solely for his amusement. That was so clear now. "Just stay away from Meg."

"How long can you believe that she likes you for you?" Erik shouted back, "If anyone's manipulating you, it's her."

Raoul grimaced. That was a lie. He was the one doing the manipulating, and he was terrible for doing so. "Look, just stay away from her."

Erik shook his head and took a step closer to him. Raoul stood his ground. The bed was right behind him and he was not about to approach that.

"I can't promise anything if she goes near you again," Erik stated truthfully.

Raoul wondered at his possessive tone. He was exuding jealousy. But that was impossible. It was just another one of those games that he was playing. His throat suddenly felt dry though. His heart was racing just because Erik had taken a step closer to him and he couldn't look away from those intense eyes that ordered him to believe what Erik was saying. He refused though. He couldn't believe him.

"If she goes near you," Erik continued when Raoul did not respond, "I can't be accounted for my actions."

"Why?" Raoul croaked out afraid to believe what his answer would be.

Taking another step towards Raoul, he knew he had to answer honestly. Raoul would be too stubborn to believe him, but Erik knew already that there was no denying this. He liked the chase actually and if Raoul was going to be stubborn, then the boy had a right to know what that entailed. "I already told you. I'm interested in you and I will not let anyone else have you but me."

Raoul stood there with his mouth agape. His heart skipped a beat. That had been a love confession if he had ever heard one. He bit his lower lip to make sure he was really awake. Yes, he was awake, but he still didn't believe what he had heard. How far was the ghost planning to take his joke?

"Stop playing with my mind," Raoul hated the way his voice wavered, "and don't destroy anymore of the opera house or else the managers will force my hand in the matter of your existence here."

Erik wasn't as disappointed as he had expected. A thrill had run through his body. He realized now that Raoul was too stubborn to believe his words. It did not mean that his actions would be ignored. If Christine had drilled into his mind that he was just going to manipulate the boy, then he would gladly show Raoul that there was no manipulation necessary to win his affections. It was a challenge that Erik was truly looking forward to.

He wondered at his own change. He had been almost tentative before, worried about Raoul's response. He realized now that he had been cautious only because of his own uncertainty. But now, Raoul had not outright refused him. The only thing that Raoul was worried about was Christine's words. Erik could suddenly see himself winning this battle.

"Are you just going to run away again?" Erik grinned, challenging Raoul with his gaze.

Raoul frowned. He walked past Erik giving wide berth so that he would not be too close. "No," Raoul glared at him. Erik was glad to see that this was his old Raoul again at least. Raoul said, "I'm walking away from your madness."

As Raoul left the room, Erik sat on the bed. "You don't even know the beginning of my madness."

o.o.o

o.o.o.o

End Installment 05

Word count: 3,316

o.o.o.o

o.o.o.o.o.o

o.o.o.o

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

Chapter review: So great. Erik's in good spirits. Raoul's still confused though.

Author review: Once again, I only really liked this last chapter. Man, I've got to work on making the first two better. Things get interesting in the next installment.