Raoul stalked across the stage, eying the set pieces critically. For whatever reason, when the chorus girls began to sing, the words just didn't echo around the opera house like they used to, and since the rest of the cast and crew were off getting drunk, it was Raoul's job to fix it, and he had no idea what he was doing. Christine had insisted that the Opera Ghost was an all around genius when it came to music and that he would gladly come out of his cave to help if only the two men would suck it up and get over their differences. Raoul called her crazy and threatened her not to bother the Phantom, but it was then that she remembered all of the things she had waiting on her to do list and left him. Raoul had the terrible feeling that he knew exactly where she had gone.

His suspicions were confirmed minutes later when he sensed a presence behind him, spun around to face the shadows off stage, and spotted a white mask floating towards him in the darkness.

Raoul couldn't bite down his gasp of surprise. "Ph-Phantom?"

Erik stepped forward into the light. "Viscount," he greeted in return.

"I told her not to bother you," Raoul said, glaring.

Erik shrugged. "That's Christine… but can I help, since I'm here?" he asked.

Raoul only glared harder. "I've hired an engineer."

Erik's shoulders slumped in defeat, and he pulled his cloak tighter around him. "That's great," he muttered, backing up into the shadows. "So uh, sorry to be leaving so soon, but I am a very busy man after all…" Erik turned to flee.

"Wait!" Raoul shouted, and Erik paused. "The engineer is three hours late," the Viscount admitted sheepishly. Erik smiled and walked back across the set. He began poking and prodding things in silence, Raoul right on his heels, supposedly to make sure Erik didn't mess anything up. Not like he'd know if he did. "The crew can't delay, but the acoustics…"

Erik spun around to face him, and Raoul nearly ran into the other man. Erik pointed down stage. "Out of my way," he instructed, frowning. Raoul obediently skittered off, afraid of angering the Phantom. "Now," Erik said in a softer tone, "sing something. Anything."

Raoul wasn't a singer, though. He cleared his throat and turned towards his invisible audience. "Ahem. Do re mi fa so—"

Behind him, Erik groaned and scrubbed his hand over the bare side of his face. "Anything but that."

The Phantom went about dragging bits of scenery and placing them strategically to his liking. Raoul watched in silence for a few moments before the tension in the room became too much for him.

"This is weird," he sang.

Erik nodded. "It's weird."

"Very weird!"

"Fucking weird," Erik agreed.

"I'm so mad that I don't know what to do!" Raoul crossed his arms over his chest and looked away. "Fighting with my girlfriend, praying this torture will end…" Raoul spun back around and pointed at Erik with a sneer. "And to top it all off, I'm with you!"

Erik smiled bitterly and glided towards him. "Feel like going insane? Got a fire in your brain? And you're thinking of drinking gasoline?"

Raoul snorted. "As a matter of fact…"

"Ah, dear Viscount," Erik said, "I know this act. It is called 'The Tango: Christine.'" Erik suddenly draped his cloak over his forearm and brought it up to cover the lower half of his face, leaving only his stormy eyes visible. "The Tango: Christine; it's a dark, dizzy merry-go-'round." Erik slipped behind Raoul and hung his hand in front of the other's face, pinching his gloved index finger and thumb together. "As she keeps you dangling…"

Raoul looked at the Phantom over his shoulder. "You're wrong," he growled.

"…your heart she is mangling," Erik continued with a malicious grin.

Raoul spun around to glare at him furiously. "It's different with me," he insisted.

Erik began stalking forward, his pace matching the hypnotic tempo of his voice. Raoul was forced to creep backwards so as not to lose his personal space.

"You toss and you turn 'cause her cold eyes can burn, yet you yearn and you churn and rebound…"

Erik stopped once he realized he had backed Raoul up against the proscenium. The smaller man grimaced at him.

"I think I know what you mean," Raoul muttered.

They both sang in unison, "The Tango: Christine!"

"Has she ever pouted her lips and called you 'Angel'?" Erik asked casually.

Raoul's eyes widened. "Wait, what? You are this 'Angel' she always talks about?"

Erik didn't bother answering him. "Have you ever doubted a kiss or two?"

Raoul scowled. He could count on one hand all the times Christine had initiated physical contact with him. "When I'm able," he replied. Raoul peeked at Erik tentatively. "Do you swoon when she walks through the door?"

"Every time," Erik assured. "You must be…" He paused, looking for the right word. "…cautious."

Raoul suddenly stood at attention, gazing at Erik with worried eyes. "Does she moon over other boys?"

Erik snorted. "More than moon…"

Raoul turned pale and slouched against the proscenium. "I'm feeling nauseous."

Erik studied him for a moment before stepping back. Raoul watched as Erik untied the cape from around his neck, threw it to the side, and held his hand out. Raoul stared at it stupidly until Erik gave a grunt of impatience.

"Me?" Raoul squeaked, jabbing a thumb at his own chest.

"No, the Queen of England," Erik said with a roll of his eyes.

Raoul pushed himself into a standing position and shrugged out of his coat. He threw the garment off to land on top of the Phantom's cape, took a step forward, and warily extended his own hand to meet Erik's. The next thing he knew, Raoul was pressed against his enemy's chest, and Erik was… rocking him. Raoul's brain caught up, and he realized he and the Phantom were tangoing. The Viscount struggled to mirror Erik's steps with his own.

"Ah," Erik commented. "Where did you learn to tango, monsieur?"

"With a French Ambassador's daughter when I was twelve," Raoul said. Erik then spun him around like he was some rag doll, and Raoul was forced to do the steps in reverse, graceless and stumbling. "You know, it's really hard to do this backwards," Raoul seethed.

Erik laughed and dipped the smaller man. "You should try it in a cape."

Raoul's face turned a light pink, and he once again reminded himself that this guy was the enemy. Raoul shoved Erik away from him, lost his balance, and fell to the floor. Erik didn't seem concerned—that was, of course, until Raoul stood, ran a hand over his face, and began pacing.

"What is the matter, monsieur?" Erik asked curiously, stepping closer.

Raoul looked up at him with watery blue eyes. "She cheated," he spat.

Erik's eyebrows rose. "She cheated?"

"Christine cheated!" Raoul screamed in frustration.

"Fucking cheated," Erik mumbled, his mood darkening.

"I'm defeated; I should give up right now," Raoul sang mournfully.

Erik placed a hand on his shoulder and shook him. "You've got to look on the bright side with all of your might…"

Raoul brought a wrist to his forehead and collapsed into the Phantom's arms. "I'd fall for her still, anyhow…"

Erik righted him, grabbed his hand, and began dancing with him again. The two sang together in harmony.

"When you're dancing her dance, you don't stand a chance! Her grip on romance makes you fall. So you think, 'might as well dance a tango to hell. At least I'll have tangoed at all!' The Tango: Christine. You've got to dance until your diva is through. You pretend to believe her, 'cause in the end, you can't leave her. But the end, it will come; still, you have to play dumb until you're glum and you bum and turn blue!"

Erik released Raoul, and the men stared at each other, out of breath, stewing in the betrayal of the woman they both adored.

"Why do we love when she's mean?" Erik sang wearily.

"And she can be so obscene," Raoul grumbled.

Erik sighed and gestured towards the middle of the stage. "Try the acoustics."

Raoul stepped forward and took a deep breath. "My Christine!" A soft 'tine' echoed around the room satisfyingly. Raoul laughed and sent Erik a grin. "Thank you, monsieur Phantom."

"My name is Erik," he said with a small smile. "And you're welcome."

"Monsieur Erik," Raoul mumbled to himself, testing out the feel of it.

Erik collected his cape and began fastening it around his neck again. "You know, I feel a lot better now," Erik said with unnerving cheer.

Raoul smiled sadly. "I feel lousy."

The two exchanged a meaningful look.

"The Tango: Christine!"

~*(S)*~

When I said Raoul wasn't a singer, I meant that Erik and Christine have a crap load of training in opera stuff, but Raoul's just a rich pretty boy. I meant no offense to his actors. Cx

I know, I know. This was done by multiple other people. Yes, I stole the idea from them. I was on a Phantom kick and needed something easy to write about with these two, when suddenly a certain fic brought RENT and Phantom together in my mind. I read it before I could stop myself, so I apologize for any unintentional similarities my subconscious decided to throw out there.

I watched the music video for this song; noticed the way the characters' relationship somehow remained platonic despite the two dancing fairly intimately (the fact that Jo's a lesbian might've helped, and I've always been pretty sure Mark's gay); and then I wanted to recreate that sort of feeling in writing. I think I succeeded, though Erik seems too OOC for me. Then again, I'm a ExR shipper, so if he acted cannonishly, this story probably would've ended up as a PWP.

PS: Tell me what parts of my story you thought needed work or didn't flow well so I can focus on my weak areas. I'd really appreciate it.