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: Mentioned established relationship. Raoul has to choose between Philippe and Erik, but not like that. Angst ensues.
Word Count: 2,151
A/N: Why the sadness? I don't know. I can't seem to manage happy E/R stories.
Story note: This is… much angst and a one-shot for now (you know I have problems with multi-chaptered fics. They take too much time, so I'm calling this a one shot. Especially since it's way on the angst side of life.)
By: Lucifer Rosemaunt
Tugging the blanket tighter around his shoulders, Raoul tried not to shiver and failed. He was cold; he could barely feel his feet, his joints were stiff and his hands clumsy, but it wasn't simply his physical reaction to the cold that made him shiver.
He reviewed everything that had happened just hours ago and wondered how his entire life had changed, how everything could end so badly. He tried to imagine various conclusions, different actions, different choices that he could have made, and none of them could have come to pass. None of what he had done could be anything but what they were. Yet, he still hoped that there was something he missed. There had to have been some other way, a different ending to this nightmare.
There wasn't; this was supposed to happen as it did. And, that was reason enough to shiver as a different cold settled within him, a gnawing numbness in the pit of his stomach. He moved closer to the fire.
Despite the fact he hadn't been able to tolerate any other person's touch, he didn't protest when his brother took a seat next to him and placed an arm around his shoulder, pulling them close enough so that their sides were pressed together. Raoul's skin had crawled when the police pulled him from the river. He had felt nauseous when the doctors checked him. He had flinched whenever someone touched him without warning him first; however, even his body knew not to react that way with Philippe.
In this position, it was awkward to wrap his arm around his brother's mid-section and hug him, but he did so anyway.
Philippe had almost died.
Philippe had almost died because of him. Raoul held on even tighter, focusing on nothing in particular. It would be morning soon and though he was tired, mentally exhausted from the previous evening, he wasn't sleepy.
It was a miracle his brother was still alive.
No miracle. Simple treachery.
Philippe had been missing for one day. It had not been sufficient time for Raoul or anyone else to become alarmed; so, Raoul simply continued his daily routine. It was on his way home from the opera house that he was intercepted, more like bumped. A piece of paper had drifted to the floor but the stranger kept on walking.
Picking it up, Raoul was about to shout for him when he noticed Vicomte de Chagny printed in large letters on it. The missive hadn't been very long, merely a location, a threat on his brother's life, and what he was certain to be his brother's signature on the bottom.
Without a moment's hesitation he sent word to both his estate and the police station before procuring a horse and traveling with all haste towards the meeting point by the Seine. To his estate, he ordered that they prepare for his and Philippe's arrival and to be wary of any strangers. To the police, he sent the note, asking for aid and a doctor in the event that something went awry.
The ride was long and he'd had his doubts throughout whether or not this was merely a trap. However, his absolute certainty in his brother's writing was enough to quell those particular doubts and give room for others. At its core though, his situation was simple. His brother was in danger and he had been given the means to save him. There was nothing else to be done but to go to the meeting point.
It was only when he was nearing the river and the darkness closed in around him did he wonder if he should have informed Erik so that he might come along. It was too late now and from the lack of structures and passers-by, he knew that there would be no one to send word back to the opera house. So, he pushed his own self-doubt aside and focused purely on Philippe.
Once on the riverbank, Raoul dismounted and searched for any sign of Philippe or his kidnapper. There were only trees and a dim light from a boat near the opposite shore. Night had fallen en route and Raoul sorely wished he'd brought some sort of light.
"Vicomte." A man called from behind him.
Raoul spun towards the voice but could only see his silhouette.
"I'm pleased you received the note." The man was disguising his voice. That much was obvious.
"Where is my brother?" Raoul approached him threateningly.
Barely a meter away, the man whistled loudly enough to make him wince. The distinct sound of splashing was heard and the light in the middle of the river brightened. Raoul realized it must have been partially blocked in order to make it seem further away. He strained his eyes. The man on the boat moved the lantern from the prow of the small row boat, where a rope was attached to a tree quite a distance behind the whistler, to the stern. He dangled the lantern over the edge and Raoul could barely make out a second rope. Sure enough, the man on the boat was forced to place the light down when he began to haul up whatever was attached.
The sound of something breaking through the surface of water was clear, and just as clear was the sound of someone gasping for air.
Raoul could swear his heart stopped. Before he even thought of the possible repercussions, he yelled out, "Philippe!"
"Raoul! Rao-" The rest of his name was swallowed in water.
Turning towards the man, Raoul moved to grab him. The kidnapped easily sidestepped the clumsy, desperate move.
"Do you wonder how long a man can last in the frigid water?" The man taunted and Raoul barely kept from tackling him. Only concern for his brother's well-being prevented him from doing serious harm. "Do you wonder how long the count has been submerged?"
"What do you want?" Raoul was quick to ask. He mentally counted the seconds as they passed. How long could his brother hold his breath? Was he drowning as they spoke?
"Merely some information." The man was dawdling on purpose.
"What?" Raoul bit out. "What do you want to know? What do you want?" He was almost certain he could make out a smile on the man's face even though he could barely see any features – and Raoul was trying his hardest to memorize every little detail he could tell of this man.
"I want the ghost."
"What?" For a second, he thought that the kidnapper knew the depth of his relationship with Erik, but his next words relieved him of at least that fear.
"In fact, I'm doing you a favor." The man laughed harshly. "Everyone knows the ghost is blackmailing you, but you do know how to contact him." He pretended to think aloud, "I wonder which of us has the most leverage over you?"
"I…" Raoul's mind blanked for a second and time seemed to slow as his mind caught up to what was being asked of him. Give up his lover or his brother.
The man whistled again.
But it wasn't the piercing note that shook him out of the terror that had flooded him knowing he had to give up one of the two most important people in his life; it was Philippe's spluttering. His brother didn't have enough energy to scream his name aloud. In fact, Raoul was certain Philippe didn't want to be caught trying to scream when he should be savoring each breath given to him, savoring it as though each breath were his last.
"If you lie," the man threatened, "it will be an easy thing to kill him." He looked out towards the Seine, "This time, we won't give you warning."
Raoul had already considered that option. It had been the very first option he'd considered upon hearing the ultimatum; lying wouldn't be difficult, but he couldn't identify this man, and he was almost certain Philippe would not be able to identify him either. So, even if his brother had a guard with him constantly, they wouldn't be able to protect him all the time, from everyone.
In fact, between the two, Philippe and Erik, the person more likely to survive an encounter with an unknown threat would be Erik. And Raoul could warn him; he would get to him before these men.
Hearing the splash that indicated Philippe had been released back into the water to drown, Raoul said, "Tell me how."
Raoul tucked his head against Philippe's shoulder.
It had taken a written note dictated to him word for word, staying away from the opera house for three days – a promise Raoul refused to agree to; he would wait perhaps until morning and ensure that Philippe was safely hidden, but he would not wait any longer to warn Erik –, and revealing Erik's greatest vulnerability, the fact that if Mademoiselle Daae were to perform, he was certain to be present, before the kidnapper whistled sharply twice before disappearing.
His last words lingered in the air after him. "You had best swim quickly before he drowns."
Raoul barely took the time to remove his jacket and shoes before diving into the Seine, and upon reaching the boat, he found it empty. He had barely been able to make out a second boat sailing further down the river.
He'd scrambled into the vessel when he found that he could not pull Philippe up from the river itself. The rope rubbed his hands raw, but he barely noticed that. Several times, he slipped, trying to find purchase and the best leverage to lift his brother. And when Philippe was finally in the boat, Raoul noted that his hands had been bound, his feet similarly and weighted with a large stone. His brother was cold to the touch but thankfully breathing and fully conscious if not too cold to truly move.
In Raoul's search for a blanket or any large material to wrap his brother in, he discovered that the kidnappers had generously left them a parting gift, a hole in the bottom of the vessel. He'd cursed and while his brother lay huddled near the meager light, he was at the prow, straining to pull the boat to shore. His arms ached and he lost his rhythm numerous times since he could no longer truly feel the coarse rope beneath his hands, missing it several times, but he pulled, used his whole body to propel them towards the shore.
During his efforts, he spoke aloud to Philippe. He promised everything would be all right, that help was coming soon with a change of clothes, good food, and medical attention. All they had to do was reach the shore. He promised the warm fire in their house and the safety of their living room even when he didn't know if such things were waiting for them or if they would ever make it home at all. He simply needed to speak in order to drown out the chattering of his brother's teeth. Raoul was cold and frantic enough that he didn't notice that his own teeth were chattering.
The boat hadn't made it to shore before they were almost fully submerged in the water again, but luckily, by then, the police had arrived along with everything he'd promised Philippe.
And now they were home. He'd explained what had happened to the police upon meeting the kidnapper; they understood as much as the kidnapper had about Erik, but Philippe understood more clearly what had occurred. An officer was stationed at their estate and would be with them until the men were found or until the threat had passed.
Philippe seemed to be in good health; he had several bruises but nothing too serious. He'd been given orders to rest and keep warm for several days in hopes that the water he swallowed would not become anything worse. Raoul, himself, was in good health as well. His hands were bandaged; he'd strained several muscles, but he would heal as though this night had never occurred.
It was a miracle.
Except, he'd been wrong about one thing: everything would not be all right.
Philippe tried to comfort him, telling him the contrary, but that only made Raoul feel worse. His brother had been kidnapped, almost drowned to death, and he was the one trying to comfort Raoul. It was even worse that Philippe couldn't truly comprehend the depth of what Raoul had done to save him – though he regretted nothing. Given the opportunity, he would make the same choice every time; he simply wished he'd never had to make the choice at all.
"Erik will understand," Philippe tried to convince him.
His brother or his lover. Both would live now that he'd made his choice.
Raoul closed his eyes and tried not to cry. "No," his voice broke, "he won't."
A/N: Don't forget to R/R (Read and Review)!
Chapter Review: That's wrong on so many levels! This fic hurts. D: (I apparently think Erik would never forgive Raoul for betraying him even if it were for Philippe.)