Fandom: Phantom of the Opera
Disclaimer: Please don't sue. I don't own *insert fandom name from above*... All I own is an overactive imagination.
Summary: Continuation to Imaginary Friends. Erik and Raoul are trying to make things work between them, but can they really just be friends?
Warning(s): slash
Pairing(s): ErikRaoul
Word Count: 6,714

A/N: Late again. I tried to do an entire week of Erik trying to make their relationship go to the next level in one chapter and failed. Failed quite badly actually.

I don't know why, but after uploading, it seems that I'm losing 'spaces' between some words; so, while I do in fact edit and use spellcheck, I don't know why uploading it would cause these problems. D:

Story note: Let's all cross our fingers for Erik's success but then again, if he does succeed, this will be one very short sequel on how they got together. Uh, so, let's hope he… fails?

o.o.o.o

More Than Friends
By: Lucifer Rosemaunt

Chapter 04 – It's a Start

o.o.o.o

Good night? It had been far from it.

Erik had been unable to sleep. It wasn't as though it were an impossibility. Life at the Chagny estate was truly a change; the days were exhausting in a way that could actually be described as satisfying – though the truly satisfying part was coming home every day to Raoul, even taking into account the current awkwardness between them. The construction site was always busy and the news of the party had stressed an already stressful situation. Erik simply couldn't convince himself that sleep was the most suitable use of the scant hours between now and the party. Every second he spent away from Raoul was wasted.

He should be doing something, anything, but he couldn't very well sneak into Raoul's room. Well, he could, but to what end? He would only manage to scare him away by doing any of the numerous mental images that came to mind.

He had approached the door without realizing it. He wouldn't leave the room. Taking a deep breath, he leaned his head against the door, letting it cool his suddenly elevated temperature. Control. He had to control himself, but that control was already frayed, unraveling quite steadily. The only thing keeping him away was the fact that he refused to jeopardize his future, their future; they were just beginning to make progress. It wasn't even that this family, Raoul, was all he had left; it was that it was the only thing that mattered.

Taking a deep breath, he walked towards the nightstand where he'd left some blueprints he'd been reviewing earlier. If sleep was going to remain elusive, he might as well be productive. He sat down and tried to review the sheet, but he did not truly see any of the lines or words. Placing that down, he picked up his notebook. He could distract himself by writing or drawing or… he couldn't. The book was flung across the room without a second thought. He cringed as it connected with the wall before falling to the floor, realizing that he shouldn't be making noise so late in the evening. Everyone had retired for the night. Philippe was probably sleeping so well right now, he thought angrily.

Standing up abruptly, he began to pace. How could he possibly reconcile the conflicting desires of wanting to allow Raoul to decide the depth of their relationship and making Raoul see they should be everything to each other? In one week? The only answer, Erik had determined, was to find a way to make it so that Raoul would want him, and he couldn't quite believe such a thing would occur without some guidance.

So, the next question would be, how could he do so without frightening off the younger man? He wasn't sure.

Somehow, they'd been closer when Raoul didn't remember their past. Erik admitted it might have had something to do with the fact that he'd also been a little more forward; he almost wished they could at least go back to that if anything. However, it was different now. He had more to lose, and as such, he couldn't simply lure Raoul into his room and convince him there was so much more they could do together than talk.

Erik nearly laughed at the pure absurdity of the thought. There were so many aspects that were wrong with it. Although he wanted to do something with Raoul, Erik admittedly didn't know exactly where to begin; he'd only ever managed to steal a single kiss from someone – and, Raoul had been unconscious at the time. He was also working under the assumption that Raoul was somehow more innocent than him and hadn't had sexual encounters in the past, which was necessary for his peace of mind but was rather unlikely considering Raoul's looks and standing in society.

More importantly, he would never do that to Raoul. Despite all the things he thought himself capable of, he wasn't capable of such boldfaced deceit. He paused, jerking to a halt in his pacing. He had taken advantage of Raoul though and had been doing so time and time again with every touch tainted with so much want that it made Erik's head swim and with every thought that dragged his image of Raoul further down into obscenity. The only saving grace was the fact that he hadn't physically done anything beyond that first violation, but he couldn't forget he was capable of such acts. If he fell into complacency, he might just slip.

Taking another deep breath, Erik tried to calm himself. After several similar breaths, he was no less agitated than before. So, he began to pace again. At least in doing so, he was able to work off the excess nervous energy that was quickly becoming commonplace. He counted the steps from one end of his room to the other, counted the window panes, and let his eyes wander across the various furniture which decorated his room. His. He belonged here. This already familiar room, this house, and more importantly, Raoul was home.

Reaching up, he touched the cold porcelain that was his mask. Normally, he took it off in the evening, but that was only to sleep. And even then, the first few weeks he'd slept with it on. It had been for naught of course; no one entered his room without first knocking. He had been given his privacy, for which he was glad. He'd been given a sanctuary of sorts and yet, curiously enough, he still found himself out of it more often than not.

As such, the mask was for everyone's benefit; he told himself that, but he wasn't sure how much he believed it anymore. This mask may have brought him to Raoul several times already, but he knew it was only serving to keep them apart now. It wasn't as though he didn't know both Chagny's rather expected him to appear one day without it. They'd already seen what he truly looked like, but it did nothing to remove the anxiety. He couldn't bear it if he were able to finally scare Raoul away permanently. A mask was no hardship to keep on.

But a part of him wanted to know. Would Raoul look upon him with pity – because Erik didn't think the blonde had it in him to shy away with disgust – or would he smile tremulously and pull him into a desperate hug? Raoul wasn't that young anymore though. He wouldn't cry and try to kiss away the pain; they were beyond that sort of affection. However, he had received a similar homecoming after that debacle with the Giry's in a city he would prefer never to set foot in again. It couldn't be that farfetched to hope for such a reaction. If that's what it took for Raoul to hug or kiss him, Erik would actually gladly do so.

Walking towards his dresser, he reached up to remove the mask. It was barely a fraction away from his face when he put it back on. No. Not right now. Later. He could do that later. He would deal with one difficulty at a time.

Staring down at the partially open dresser, he opened it further and fingered the expensive material that was his clothing. He'd only brought his compositions, designs, and the as of yet untitled and unfinished opera he was composing. The rest had been part of his old life, one that he'd abandoned, had discarded without a shred of regret.

He'd been given a chance to start again, to have a second chance at being a better person, one who would never be forced to separate from Raoul. How could he have hesitated? The surprising thing was that it hadn't been too difficult. Once away from the Opera Populaire, he didn't have to be the ghost. He didn't have to struggle so hard to maintain his livelihood through threatening notes and broken set pieces. Although some habits remained, he only had to be present in Raoul's life. That was proving difficult enough by itself that he didn't have time to think of anything else.

Regardless, any thought of missing his old life was pointless since he'd missed Raoul for even longer than that; everything paled in comparison to Raoul. So, while he sometimes wished to Punjab lasso someone, particularly Philippe lately, he didn't think he'd ever go through with the act.

And, Philippe was altogether another conundrum. He couldn't understand why Raoul's own brother was so intent on pushing him to action when the elder Chagny knew he wanted more with Raoul. Erik couldn't help but wonder if it was simply Philippe's misplaced trust that he would respect Raoul's wishes, that he was stronger than he actually was. Then again, a part of him wondered if this party was specifically so that he would never have any more of a chance with Raoul.

It might be too much to expect Philippe to be understanding enough to allow his brother such an abhorrent thing as to love not only a man but one such as him. Erik wasn't blind; there was a chance that Raoul would find his affection morally objectionable like much of society did, but that was one problem Erik didn't want to even consider – Raoul didn't need any other reason to be repelled by him.

It was all so frustrating to not be able to have his way immediately. He realized rather belatedly that he'd almost been spoiled at the opera house; even when they didn't comply, all he had to do was break set pieces or backdrops before that was remedied. He knew such tactics wouldn't work here but didn't know what else he could do.

All he knew was that Philippe was pushing so much that the outcome could hardly be expected to be anything but disastrous.

o.o.o

It was predawn when Erik found himself in front of Raoul's door. He'd tried to stay away, but his patience was running thin and his thoughts had turned time and time again to the same point, he needed to see Raoul. It was commendable that he'd even managed to stay away for so long.

There had been many false starts to get from his own bedroom to Raoul's. He'd been warring with himself, trying to figure out whether this were truly an effort at speaking with Raoul about their relationship or simply his unfulfilled desires spurring him to find a way to be in Raoul's room and garner some kind of physical affection. As he stood by the door, he acknowledged that it was probably a mixture of both. He could only hope that the former overpowered any traitorous action he might do if spurred on by the latter.

He knocked softly, still wholly unprepared for what might occur when Raoul opened the door. Dozens of scenarios had run through his mind and the more scenarios he thought, the more absurd they became until he had been forced to stop. The worry gnawed at his stomach, and being bombarded with so many unfamiliar emotions combined with the helplessness he was thrown into when faced with dealing with Raoul made him want to hurt someone. It had already frustrated him to the point where the lone mahogany chair in his room had been dismantled and destroyed. By his bare hands. It had been easier than expected, and now the urge to destroy something and yell and possibly act before he thought through the consequences had been relegated to the deep recesses of his mind.

There was little chance that Erik would hurt Raoul. Intentionally. But he felt calmer now, albeit not any better equipped to deal with the uncertainty that Raoul seemed to inspire in him.

As he stood there, straining to hear any noise from the other side of the door, the minutes somehow dragged ever slower towards dawn, yet sped along further still and faster towards the end of the week. A muffled "enter" was the only response.

Entering slowly, Erik peeked into the room. It was good to see Raoul was at least still on the bed despite the fact that he was sleeping ninety degrees clockwise than what was normal.

"Raoul?" Erik whispered.

Moaning, Raoul burrowed deeper into his blankets, hugging the pillow towards himself, blonde hair strewn across his face. He looked as though he hadn't woken at all, much less enough to respond to his knock.

Erik faltered once more. He could still leave and forget that he'd ever been there. There were other ways to go about this. Raoul certainly wouldn't remember his visit. Now that he thought about it, Raoul had looked preoccupied the night before and eager to retire for the night; maybe he needed his rest. It would be more considerate to leave. But, he'd come this far and Raoul had said to enter, so his presence couldn't be construed as an intrusion, and Erik was reaching the end of his patience at being so cautious and hesitant around him. It grated on his nerves even with the justification that it had been necessary. It wasn't necessary anymore though.

Before he'd even truly made up his mind, he was already walking closer to the bed. He watched the rise and fall of each of Raoul's breaths, drawn ever closer. The only sound in the room was their breathing. Sitting at the very edge of the bed by Raoul's head, he brushed Raoul's hair aside so that he could see his face. His hand lingered, watching the strands as they fell through his fingers.

Raoul murmured and moved at the touch, towards him. Erik. He hmm'd in pleasure. Let me sleep a little more.

That wasn't me.

Erik pulled quickly away when Raoul shifted, but before he could stand, Raoul opened his eyes, squinting in his general direction, and he froze.

Why is Erik in our room? "Erik?" he muttered, voice rough from sleep. He rubbed his eyes, and Erik could only stare. There was no suspicion, no fear, just confusion. Raoul trusted him too implicitly; Erik didn't deserve any of it. How could he even begin to want to force him into anything?

Maybe something happened? Erik suggested.

Raoul looked around in sleep-laden alarm, struggling to wake up faster. He didn't raise his voice, even as he asked, "Is something wrong?" He moved to sit up, but Erik placed his hand on Raoul's shoulder to coax him back down. Raoul was so warm to his touch. He made sure his hand didn't linger this time though.

"No," Erik replied softly, as though anything louder would somehow ruin the still cast of sleep that hung over them, "Everything's alright."

There was something extraordinary about this moment, a softness as the sun had yet to rise and the morning dew was just building; the sharp edges of their harsh reality dulled to this quiet moment between them.

Then why…? Raoul asked even as he laid back down, trying to nestle in the warmth of his previous position; it was never quite the same though after having moved. He shifted closer to the extra warmth that Erik provided instead.

Erik stood up however, and Raoul pouted, craning his neck to look at him. Seeing Erik actually look uncertain, Raoul asked, "What are you doing here? Can I help?"

"I knocked and you said enter," he said, not quite answering because he didn't know what he should say. He shouldn't be here. He shouldn't be alone with Raoul in a room, at least not a room with a bed.

I did? Raoul looked at him dubiously.

Apparently.

"Oh." Raoul glanced down in thought and just realized how he was sleeping. Again?

Well, at least this is better than waking up from hitting the floor. Erik tried to be optimistic.

Raoul sighed.

Erik tensed, his jaw clenching. So early in the morning and Raoul was already distracted; and Erik only allowed himself to think of it as distraction. He didn't want to think of some unknown person that Raoul thought of so constantly. Putting a body or face to the person, imaginary as it might be, would only serve to anger him further. There was no fiancé, certainly, but there was someone already. "I should have known it's too early. I'll let you sleep some more."

Don't let him leave. Erik urged. Remember your promise. This is the perfect opportunity to speak.

Before Erik could even think to move, Raoul stopped him. "Don't." And though the request was hushed, Erik stopped. Raoul reluctantly moved away from the fading warm spot to lie properly on the bed. He couldn't suppress a shiver as he settled. "Stay. You came for a reason, right?" He looked at Erik pleadingly when he saw him still hesitate.

Erik had come for a reason, but it didn't matter anymore. He knew that there was no guarantee that Raoul would find someone at the party. He hadn't actually thought himself that fortunate, doubted that Raoul would reject every beautiful woman that caught his eye, but he'd still hoped. There had still been a chance. He simply had forgotten to take into account the fact that Raoul probably already had someone he wanted. Perhaps he'd never even had a chance despite Philippe's meddling.

But if Raoul could be happy with someone else, then Erik would be happy for him.

Except… Erik knew he wasn't that charitable. He would be miserable if Raoul found a wife, and in turn, he knew he'd want to make their lives miserable, or at least hers. He already wanted to know who the mysterious person Raoul so constantly thought about was and erase their mere existence. If there were an actual person in front of him, someone Erik could touch, could harm, he knew he'd only manage to hurt Raoul in the end.

He so desperately wanted to leave, not certain he could stand to see Raoul think of someone else when it was just them. He could still leave with some dignity and perhaps formulate a different plan, one that included maybe simply kidnapping Raoul. He sighed and made the mistake of meeting Raoul's eyes. While he managed to look away, it mattered little with his resolve already gone. How could he refuse when Raoul was looking at him like that? Moving away from the bed, he reluctantly went to sit in the chair by the window.

"What are you…?" Raoul asked.

Erik supplied. He's sitting across the room.

With a groan, Raoul pushed himself up to lean against the headboard, motioning for Erik to sit closer. "You're making this very difficult for so early in the morning." He slumped further against the headboard, trying to find a comfortable position.

Erik watched him, trying to discern what Raoul wanted him to do. There weren't many places to sit in the room. He haltingly took a step toward him, admitting honestly, "I do not mean to."

"Simply sit on the bed." Raoul patted the spot beside him. He was still mostly asleep and the bed was cold now, something he sought to remedy with Erik's help. This was the perfect time to speak with him, and now, he simply refused to do so so far apart.

Erik wasn't certain he'd heard correctly. There was no questioning it though with that hand motion: Raoul had invited him to his bed. If the urge to run hadn't been present before, it would have arisen at this very moment. But Raoul was looking at him so expectantly again, and he wondered belatedly when he'd been so tamed. He took a shaky breath and sat down at the very edge of the bed, legs still dangling over the edge. He looked over his shoulder at Raoul with barely concealed hope.

Raoul gave him a pointed look along with an exaggerated sigh. Erik threw out a prayer to anyone who was listening for strength as he raised his legs so that he was now sitting against the headboard like Raoul. Somehow he managed to do so without touching the blonde, a feat in itself when it seemed as though Raoul wanted to close the distance.

Pleased with their proximity now and the impending warming of the bed, Raoul pulled the blanket and tossed part of it over Erik's legs before trying to concentrate on the conversation they were supposed to have instead of the sleep that was still so temptingly near. Remembering Erik's resolve to speak with him when he first entered, Raoul started, "So, are we commiserating?"

Erik had watched Raoul moving with something akin to dread. He mentally questioned all the powers that be why. Why were they testing his restraint? It wasn't possible. Raoul was too warm, too… real and Erik couldn't do it. His heart was pounding and his hands twitched with the need to simply touch. The younger man had even begun to lean against his arm. It couldn't have been intentional because Raoul's eyes were struggling to stay open, but he desperately wished that it were. He was hard pressed to remember why he couldn't simply take Raoul now. Raoul was his hope, his life. Raoul was his. It wouldn't be very difficult at all to take what he wanted. Raoul would eventually learn to love him back. It was all so simple. Take and possess so that there would be no doubt in anyone's mind that Raoul was his, no party, no distraction, nothing.

The thoughts beat against his control and the blood rushing past his ears made it difficult to hear anything, but while the words took several moments to filter through, Raoul's tone had come clearly across. Conspiratorial, easy camaraderie Erik was certain they didn't have just yet and he was suddenly reminded of pinky swears and the only promise he'd ever sworn to keep. A promise made with the body he wanted to violate.

Steeling himself against the inner turmoil that still raged, he thought of kidnappers and Raoul almost falling off the catwalk. He focused on the stillness of the room, of Raoul's trust, of the pain he'd already caused with his thoughtlessness. He focused on the mirror across the room and just how lucky he was to be invited to stay here.

"What?"

Raoul glanced up at Erik, who refused to tear his gaze away from some spot across the room. "Didn't you want to commiserate about the party?" he asked.

It's like you're trying to make this difficult for him, Erik commented, amused.

"Oh," Erik shook his head and wished he hadn't when it seemed to make Raoul lean more heavily on him. "I didn't come to commiserate."

Raoul stifled a yawn.

Good way to show interest in the conversation, Erik retorted in his head.

Frowning, Raoul responded heatedly, I'm trying.

"Why don't you lie back down?" The second the words left his mouth, Erik came to the distressing realization that if Raoul did in fact lie down, his head would be near a certain part of his anatomy that was more interested in the suggestion than it should be. It would be so easy to hold him down; Raoul's motions were still sluggish. He shook the thought from his mind, desperately wanting to retract the suggestion.

Raoul asked after a pregnant moment where Erik hoped the answer would be no. "You don't think it rude?" He quickly added, "Because I do want to speak with you. I'm just a little tired."

"It's," Erik swallowed with some effort, "alright." It really wasn't. "I woke you too early."

Raoul slid down, resting on his side to face Erik. One glance down and Erik's head snapped up again, trying to control his breathing because despite the improbability of such a feat, he could swear he could feel Raoul's breath against his leg. Erik helped him pull the blanket higher, before stiffly clasping his hands together on his lap. His nails were digging into the back of his hands. Raoul let out a pleased moan and Erik turned his eyes upward. He didn't have this much restraint. He truly didn't.

Try as he might, trying to control the thunderous pounding of his heart couldn't distract him from Raoul's proximity, the way he curled towards him, and the content smile as he settled down. It was as though for Raoul, this situation was not only comfortable but normal for them. He looked at the distance from his hand to Raoul's head; it wouldn't take much to touch him. He tried to shift away.

Moving faster than Erik thought possible, Raoul grabbed his pants at his thigh. Erik immediately tensed beneath his hand and froze.

What was that? Erik asked with a mixture of amusement and curiosity.

Raoul didn't move, not quite sure if he could at the moment. I do not know. As he'd settled beside Erik, he hadn't been able to help but think of the carriage they'd both been locked in at the carnival. When the memories had first come back, he hadn't been able to think of anything besides that for a while. It probably hadn't helped that all he'd done was dissect the memories when waiting for Erik to return home. He had come to the realization that in such a short time, they'd made a connection, one that Raoul had been unable to duplicate in the past fifteen years with anyone else. And that thought actually frightened him because he didn't think another fifteen years would make any difference. There would never be anyone else; Erik was simply that important. They had to find a way to make this work, but just as much as he hoped for that to occur, he was as certain that Erik would disappear again.

Which is unfounded. Erik added. Why do you even think that after everything we've been through?

Raoul couldn't respond. He didn't know how to put into words the fear. In fact, he didn't want to explain how all it had taken was Erik's slight movement and the wayward thought of "Erik's leaving" before he'd been overwhelmed by fifteen years of desperation, loneliness, and loss concentrated in a single moment that had spurred him into motion, that the feeling was still there simmering beneath the surface thankfully less intense but more incessant than ever before.

His voice was shaky when he asked, "Don't leave, okay?"

"Never," Erik responded immediately, not caring that he didn't know why Raoul had requested that of him: if he meant not to leave this morning or not to leave ever. In the end, it didn't matter because he wasn't going to leave. He wanted to ask if he was alright, but after he'd responded, Raoul had relaxed despite the fact he had yet to remove his hand. Erik tried to similarly relax and was hard pressed to do so.

They fell silent. Raoul's breathing eventually evened out and his hand was simply lax on his thigh. Erik kept himself completely still, tempted to touch him, but afraid that doing so would startle him enough to pull away. He doubted Raoul would even object though, and that was part of the problem. He couldn't help but wonder again, how far could he push without Raoul understanding just how significant each touch was?

Whispering, he almost hoped Raoul was asleep so that he wouldn't answer. "Do you want to find a wife?" He left off the 'if you haven't already someone in mind' part of the question, trying to simply allude to it.

Raoul had been drifting off to sleep. Now that Erik wasn't trying to leave, Raoul found that being near him was calming, relaxing in a way he hadn't been able to achieve when alone in his bed, probably because he didn't have to worry that he wouldn't be there in the morning. At his question though, Raoul was drawn to wakefulness. He frowned, thinking back to his earlier conversation with Erik about the very same subject.

He noted, You two are acting more and more alike each day. He ignored his retort of What do you expect? I am he. Raoul answered honestly, "I don't know. Not with most of those people that brother's inviting at least."

"Is there anyone else?" Erik prompted.

Raoul snorted, shifting a little closer to the heat Erik provided. Letting his eyes drift shut, he answered, "I'm not close to anyone other than the people I've grown up with: Philippe, my sisters, and many of the servants here."

Well, I'd say you're close to me. You were momentarily engaged to me. Erik answered cheekily. Although that would actually count as the second time you tried to marry me.

Erik frowned at the answer. He knew Raoul would never intentionally lie to him. In fact, the lies were obvious now, but it could be simply be that Raoul didn't understand his query. "There's no one else? Besides… family?"

"There's you." Raoul looked up at him with a grin, hand slightly tensing on his leg.

Now, Erik was certain that Raoul didn't understand that his question had been about prospects, so he tried to calm his heart and tell it to react differently. He was failing rather spectacularly.

And I only proposed to you once, Raoul pointed out.

What?

You were my fiancé, Raoul explained, But Erik was… He actually couldn't finish that thought. I was young. And, I only proposed once to you.

Fine, Erik conceded, though he added. We are the same person though, but if you're pointing out differences, you have to admit that you're only close to me.

Fighting not to roll his eyes, Raoul responded, But Erik, he distinguished quickly, the one in my bed, is rather important to me, too, and that counts.

It took a moment before he received a response. I wish you could hear what you say sometimes. At Raoul's confusion, he simply continued, But you aren't exactly friends, are you?

It always came back to that question. Raoul wasn't quite sure what they were, and he knew there was only one way to remedy that.

"What are we?" He asked more plainly than Erik would have ever dared.

Erik paused in his mental ambivalence to Raoul's response to his last question. If only he knew the answer to that, if only he could just tell Raoul what he wanted them to be, what they should be, then life would be considerably easier. As it were, he didn't know. "What do you want us to be?" Erik asked instead, hoping that Raoul answered favourably, that he would give a hint at how hard a trial Erik had before him.

We all apparently want to know this answer.

Raoul closed his eyes, having a difficult time trying to gather his thoughts. I presume 'I don't know' would be an inappropriate response.

And you would be correct because he's asking what you want.

I want a lot of things. Raoul said. I want us to be happy, to be able to talk to each other like this, and to spend our days together. I want everything to be alright.

Erik pointed out. You want a lot of things that don't actually answer his question.

Raoul knew he was right.

Again.

He had been trying harder to come up with an answer to this very question since their talk about marriage and Erik's place in his life, and even more since his conversation with Christine. It was a pressing issue that they'd tried to fix already, but it wasn't enough to agree to not be awkward with him. From what he could determine, it came down to one thing. "Close," he said so suddenly that Erik started, "I want us to be close."

Erik let out the breath he hadn't realized he had been holding. It wasn't quite what he wanted to hear but it was vague enough to give him hope. "Then," he nodded to himself. It was a start, a better start than he'd been expected actually, "we'll be as close as you want." He even dared to finally place a hand atop Raoul's own. When Raoul didn't pull away from him, he relaxed and said, "Why don't you go back to sleep?"

Raoul was going to protest; he'd been awake long enough to wonder if he could fall asleep again, but didn't bother to tell Erik. He wanted to take this opportunity to revel in his presence. Shortly after though, he fell asleep with Erik watching over him.

o.o.o

When Raoul woke up a few hours later, he was alone in his bed. Looking around the room, he didn't see anything out of place. The spot beside him in the bed wasn't especially warm, nothing that could confirm or deny the possibility that someone had been there.

Was that just a dream? He asked.

A dream? Erik replied. I doubt it. You've had some interesting dreams, but I think this one was real.

Well, Raoul looked around the room pointedly. He's not here.

Erik hesitated. That's true, but that doesn't mean he wasn't here earlier.

Raoul didn't mention the obvious fact that he'd explicitly asked Erik to stay, and the man had agreed.

Sighing in the face of Raoul's so obvious disbelief, Erik pointed out. It wouldn't be too difficult to simply ask him. Maybe he was called away by work.

Still doubtful, Raoul tried not to think about it as he went through his morning ablutions. He was beginning to wonder why it was so important that he wake up with Erik in his bed.

Finally!

Ignoring that outburst, Raoul pushed that thought aside as well since he knew the answer to that. I just want to know that Erik's still here.

As he approached the breakfast nook, he overheard Erik and Philippe talking.

Erik insisted, "I said I'd replace the chair."

"I was simply wondering," Philippe replied. "Sorry for interrupting."

Clearing his throat, Erik started again, "It will simply be…" Raoul could even venture to say that he was a little hesitant. That was odd.

"For a week?" Philippe finished, amusement obvious in his voice.

Brother's picking on Erik again. Raoul commented.

"Yes." Erik said tersely. Raoul wondered how he could convey such annoyance in one word.

We're simply skilled as such.

Raoul fought hard not to grin. He wondered if he should walk in or wait for them to finish their conversation.

So you can eavesdrop.

No. Raoul said defensively. He couldn't help but worry whenever Philippe and Erik spoke to each other. For some reason, he always had a feeling they were speaking about him.

Not everything is about you, Raoul.

I know. That's why I never say anything. It didn't stop him from wondering. It also didn't help that they usually glanced in his direction when they spoke. And I would've left to give them privacy.

Obviously. Erik replied sarcastically, since you're still standing right here.

"It's alright." Philippe replied, and Raoul could hear the rustling of the newspaper.

"Really?" Erik hadn't been sure Philippe would allow him to take time off on the job that Erik himself knew was important. It wasn't simply that though. It was whether or not Philippe would allow him because Erik was taking time off the site specifically to spend it with Raoul.

"Truly." Philippe asserted, "The construction site shouldn't fall to chaos without your presence." He added contemplatively, "Lest the men that were hired are completely inept."

"They are more than skilled." Erik interjected. Raoul had a feeling he'd chosen them himself.

Philippe said placatingly, "I trust your judgment." Though it did little to really placate Erik, who was still glaring at him from across the table despite his consideration.

Deciding that any more time he spent lingering by the doorway was indeed eavesdropping, Raoul walked in on Philippe's comment. Erik and his brother were sharing a meaningful look.

Why does it always feel as though I'm interrupting something important between these two?

Maybe you are? Erik suggested.

But, Raoul froze at the entrance of the room as they both turned to look at him, it doesn't seem as though they're speaking about the construction site.

That's very observant of you.

"Good morning, brother," Philippe said cheerfully placing his newspaper down on the table. He added to Erik, "Just send your notes."

"Is something wrong with the construction?" Raoul asked.

"No." Philippe waved his worries off flippantly. "With Erik, of course there are no problems." They shared another look.

Erik turned his attention away from the elder Chagny to look at Raoul, who smiled at him rather hopefully. Erik fought to maintain a neutral expression as he nodded to Raoul. "How was your evening?" He asked evenly, almost changing the question when he saw Raoul's smile falter.

"It was… fine." Raoul sat down at the table and tried not to frown. He didn't know what exactly he'd been expecting but it certainly hadn't been Erik's usual greeting. Maybe they could share look or a small conspiratorial grin, anything other than their normal routine because if he hadn't dreamt what had occurred that morning, then today was anything but normal.

I told you. Raoul groused, feeling foolish for even thinking that Erik would visit him in the morning.

Erik actually hesitated. I still think we should ask him.

Ask him what? Raoul retorted. Excuse me, Erik. Did you happen to come into my bedroom this morning and continue to hold a conversation with me in my bed while we basically held hands?

Raoul knew Erik could sense the absurdity of saying such a thing, but he refused to back down. Yes. Ask him exactly that.

He didn't have to respond for Erik to know he wasn't going to ask. He ate breakfast in silence, avoiding Erik's gaze and when that became too difficult, he grabbed a section of the newspaper from Philippe just so he could continue to mentally bemoan his own ridiculousness without having an audience. Despite the fact Raoul thought Erik would continue pestering him to just ask aloud, he didn't say anything. Raoul supposed that he was suffering enough with the embarrassment of what he had thought had transpired between them.

Wondering how things could have possibly gotten worse overnight, Philippe looked at Raoul hiding behind the newspaper and Erik staring at him a little guiltily. He had a feeling he'd regret ever losing his temper enough to decide to hold a gathering. It was the right decision of course, since he hadn't been lying when he'd said it had been necessary to assuage their peers' curiosity. But he could've given them a little more time.

He nearly scoffed aloud; what would more time have done? They would still be avoiding each other, skirting around the real issue that existed between them. To be honest, it wasn't as though he thought Raoul was going to find a wife at the party. As charming as Raoul could be, he was almost always aloof with everyone else. He thought Raoul had more of a chance finding a wife at the opera house than any party they might throw. He was simply glad Erik didn't know that.

Lately, Philippe had been entertaining the idea of sitting Raoul down and talking to him about Erik and their association, but he wondered how such sensitive information would be received from him. It wasn't quite his right to share or meddle – any more than he was already doing.

He was nearly done with his breakfast. Erik had yet to touch his, and he couldn't tell if Raoul had eaten anything either. He sighed. Realizing that Erik actually was going to keep staring at Raoul, Philippe commented, "Raoul." He waited until the newspaper dropped and his brother looked at him. He noted that Raoul was completely ignoring Erik. "You've been confined to the estate and working so hard lately that Erik here, thought it best that he keep you company for a while."

Raoul glanced at Erik, who nodded his agreement.

Stop ignoring him. Erik pointed out, It's not his fault you thought he visited you this morning.

Hating that Erik was right, Raoul smiled at Erik though he was still not quite able to meet his eyes. "I would like that."

o.o.o.o

End chapter 04

A/N: Don't forget to R/R (Read and Review)!
Chapter Review: Erik and Raoul in a bed, and nothing's happening? I'm more impressed with Erik than I thought possible. And Imaginary!Erik and Erik is impossible to distinguish in the story! D: I don't know what to do. I don't actually want to call him imaginary Erik because to Raoul he's not really imaginary. And I'm not going to call Erik the Opera Ghost because he's Erik to Raoul. So confusing.

Oh, I'll ask again because I can: if you guys know any songs that remind you of Erik/Raoul. I'm in the market for new songs and would love to hear from you guys regarding this.