Fandom: Phantom of the Opera & LND (I suppose)
Disclaimer: Please don't sue. I don't own *insert fandom name from above*... All I own is an overactive imagination.
Summary: Let's Rewrite Our History Assumption #5: that Love Never Dies actually happened and Raoul simply left after hearing Christine sing. Not really slash, although general plot idea is. Erik asks his son what he wants, and as promised, he gives it to him.
Warning(s): only pre-slash if you squint and look sideways at it, or if you prefer it's just E+R interaction, OCs
Word Count: 2,874
Series: Let's Rewrite Our History (The series where anything is fair game, huge assumptions are made, and you simply have to accept them as fact.)
A/N: The LND soundtrack (and the plot of course) surprisingly had enough force to sick a plotbunny of epic proportions on me. It's a trilogy going from POTO to LND to post-LND. Obviously all slash (and some het). But, it's probably (thankfully) not going to happen. Like the world needs LND slash.
Story note: The recent changes to the musical have ruined the post-LND plot I had in mind, but since it's an old plotbunny, I'm not changing the assumption. Raoul disappears and Gustave's left with Erik.
I do not think the editing was very good because every pass I read through, I ended up changing some aspect of the story, which of course means I had to re-edit (but I rechanged stuff again regardless) – it was a vicious cycle until I just said 'enough.' (And this is the form it ended up in.)
He Has Your Smile
By: Lucifer Rosemaunt
Erik stopped abruptly. The dust on the road that settled added yet another layer upon his shoes and trouser cuffs. The child by his side stopped as well; his clothes were even dirtier than Erik's, even though they had travelled the same road for the same length of time. In response to the look of confusion given him, Erik gave the hand within his a soft squeeze in place of a verbal answer. After all the time they had spent together, Gustave did not question him further. Instead, he obediently stayed still, gaze wandering in search of the reason for the reprieve.
They had stopped at the base of the hill, the road gradually sloping up. A wagon carrying several tall milk containers had stopped halfway up. Just on the other side of the wagon, Erik could barely make out two individuals: one male in his early thirties and one female, who was perhaps in her mid-teens. They were mostly concealed by the wagon, and as he glanced down at his son, Erik knew they would be obscured completely from his angle.
The young girl clung onto the arm of the older man as she laughed with the sort of lightheartedness that only the youth have. He could not hear their words, but she managed to make the man smile indulgently at her, a kind of open fondness that made his affection easily shine through his eyes. The pair turned for a moment so that Erik could only see the backs of their heads, but he had seen enough.
The man was helping the girl up onto the wagon when she spotted them. Erik sneered when she immediately raised her hand and her voice in jovial greeting. He hadn't needed that last informant to tell him that the small, Swiss village hidden at the base of the hills had been kept isolated from the world around it or that it rarely received visitors. He would have known that immediately by her reaction to a complete stranger. He had learned, however, that having Gustave by his side greatly altered the attitudes of those around him, even despite the fact he still wore a mask.
Gustave had perked by his side, finally seeing someone. He waved back before remembering himself. Looking up at Erik apprehensively, he slouched. Erik had never raised a hand to the boy; yet, it seemed that every verbal censure he gave was akin to a physical blow. He needn't even voice any disapproval before Gustave bowed his head in contrition. It was beginning to try his patience. He rarely reprimanded Gustave, rarely had a need to since he'd become quite reticent, very much unlike how he'd been when Christine had been alive.
The girl's companion turned then, smile still lingering, but it was obvious when his eyes alighted on them. His expression blanked immediately, and he recoiled slightly. Noticing the sudden change in her companion, the girl gathered her skirt together and jumped the short distance down to the ground. She had to grab his forearms to garner his attention. His head jerked toward her as though he had physically wrenched his gaze away from them.
In his haste to move nearer to hear their conversation, Erik dragged Gustave forward, the boy stumbling just to keep up. Casting several glances in their direction, the young girl and man exchanged several sentences before he was able to catch the very end of their heated discussion.
"Tell me who they are," she demanded. Erik wondered if she had stamped her foot with that demand, but his attention had shifted to Gustave for a moment when he was forced to steady him.
"No, Jacquelyn." The man grabbed her arm but did nothing more than keep her from glancing at them; he himself adamantly kept his attention solely on her. He tried to coax her back up onto the wagon. "Now go ahead as I requested."
"No." She shook her head, the long plait of brown hair swinging with the action. She was indeed still but a child. Her whine reminded Erik faintly of Gustave, but more interestingly enough, of Christine when she'd been but a chorus girl, when love and motherhood had been the farthest things from her mind.
The man glanced at them and Erik finally stopped, still at enough of a distance that Gustave could not quite see them, but close enough that he could hear their conversation.
"Please." The man belatedly looked at her with his earnest request.
She huffed, giving into the clear, blue eyes that seemed to plead with her. "I'm getting brother," she conceded.
The man nodded and once again helped her up onto the wagon, a bunch of forgotten wildflowers still clutched in her left hand. Erik glanced to the side and noticed for the first time the meadows completely surrounding them. Amidst the sea of green grew violet and yellow wildflowers. She discarded the flowers on the seat beside her and snapped the reins for the single horse to begin moving once more. The carriage started forward with a jolt. Her gaze lingered on the man for a few seconds before she urged the horse from a walk to a trot.
The man had turned to watch her leave, his back the only thing that they could see. A large brown and white dog burst through the grass from the meadow, barking and chasing after the wagon. As it crested the hill and disappeared out of sight, the dog paused, pacing toward them and away before disappearing down the other side of the hill. With obvious reluctance, the man turned to face them.
At Erik's side, Gustave took an aborted step forward. He gasped and released his hand to run the distance that separated him from the man. He stopped short of actually reaching him and stood there, eyes wide and disbelieving. Unshed tears clung to the corners of his eyes.
Raoul's expression softened, though it was a mere shadow of the fondness he had shown to the girl earlier. He bent on one knee and Gustave flung himself into his open arms to cling to him, tears falling without restraint now.
Erik watched impassively, forcing himself not to react to the scene before him. The former viscount, former rival, former everything had changed, but by now, that was hardly a surprise. Even the considerably shorter time between their separation did not affect the expectation of such transformation: ten years since the opera house and now, five months since Coney Island. He paused at that. It had taken them five long months to finally locate him, but they had.
In their first meeting, the viscount had looked young, had been a naïve fool who had lived in the imagined future that he had hoped to share with his childhood love.
In their second meeting, ten years later, Christine's husband had looked older than his two and thirty years, had been a bitter drunk who had lived too long in the wretched past that he had wished to somehow rewrite.
Now, their third meeting, the – Raoul looked his age, yet somehow much more alive than before, was a commoner who looked to live in the harsh present that was far less than what anyone had expected for him. His hair was shorn short, color lightened by days under the sun even as his skin was several shades darker than when he had been in Paris. He looked nothing like the viscount he had once been: in clothing, expression, and demeanor. Erik had to admit that it had taken a second and third look before he'd convinced himself that it was indeed the same man. He took consolation in the fact that even Gustave had needed a moment before he realized the man before them was the very same he had called father for near ten years.
His son, his own flesh and blood, was currently crying as though he was reliving his mother's death. Gustave was the last living connection to Christine, barring this stranger who he was currently hugging.
When Gustave's cries had slowed, a hiccup was left in its wake. He sniffled and pulled slightly away from Raoul in order to look him in the eyes. "Mother's dead," he stated solemnly.
Raoul nodded but didn't respond. He instead methodically mapped the physical differences that five months apart had created. Erik nearly intervened then, wanted to rip Gustave away. He easily saw the concern Raoul attempted to conceal, but before he could, his son lashed out.
"Where were you?" He punctuated his question by hitting Raoul on the shoulder several times. He yelled, voice cracking, "We needed you. I needed you!" Raoul allowed him several more strikes before he caught his small wrists. "Where? Why weren't you there?" Gustave continued to mutter, head hanging low. "Why? Why?"
"Gustave," Raoul murmured, releasing his wrists so that he could instead tilt his chin up. Wiping the tears from Gustave's face, he let out a heavy sigh. He spoke unhurriedly, as though despite his initial surprise, he had already been prepared for this discourse, "You have learned the truth, have you not?" He glanced at Erik.
Gustave followed his gaze and nodded. "Mother told me before she…"
"I left," Raoul carried on as though the young boy had managed to finish that sentence, "thinking it best you were to be with your true family."
A hiccup was his immediate response, and Gustave looked between Erik and Raoul, clearly torn.
"Do you understand?" Raoul asked.
"Can I not call you - ?"
"Gustave," he interrupted. His jaw clenched for a moment before he asked, "May I have a moment to speak with your father?"
The young boy hesitated. He wiped his nose with his sleeve and eventually nodded slowly.
In a spur of the moment whim, Raoul bent forward and kissed Gustave on the forehead before quickly standing up. He let out a piercing whistle while Gustave simply stared at him, near tears once more. A bark caught his attention, and the brown and white dog from earlier came barreling down the hill towards them. Gustave moved closer to Raoul in fear, for the dog surely weighed as much as him if not more. The canine slowed and circled them, sniffing Gustave in curiosity.
"This is Durante." Raoul placed a hand on its head, petting him. The dog looked up at him adoringly before sitting down, his tail wagging rapidly. "Go ahead," he encouraged.
Gustave reached out hesitantly, burying his hand in Durante's fur. The dog's tongue lolled out of his mouth.
"Just up that hill," Raoul pointed, "you can see the village and all the surrounding land." Not for a moment did Gustave turn his attention away from Raoul's face. "Can you please take Durante and wait for us at the top? Within our sight, mind you."
Durante barked, head nudging Gustave's hand in an effort to get him to resume petting him. The young boy nodded mutely once more and walked up the hill. The dog looked to Raoul for a moment before trailing after him.
Raoul waited until Gustave was near the crest before he scowled, turning his attention to Erik. His voice was lowered but no less heated for it when he asked, "What are you doing here?"
Erik smirked at the sudden loss of the mild-mannered gentleman; it was satisfying to know that some things did not change. "The boy wanted to find you," he replied, allowing himself a moment's amusement at the paths fate had steered him through that would bring them back together. This confrontation seemed to be yet another cruel joke.
Glancing up the hill, Raoul shook his head sadly. "You shouldn't have come looking."
"Perhaps we shouldn't have." Erik sneered, "Now we can witness just how quickly you've moved on."
"That life," Raoul spat out, fervor once more in his demeanor, "Every thing of that life had long since been forfeit even before our bet."
The masked man laughed harshly. His voice rose, "And now with a mere girl, no less."
Raoul looked at him blandly and did not bother denying the accusation, "Yet, with an age difference far less than yours and Christine's."
Erik narrowed his eyes at him, and he bit out mockingly, "You do not wish to see your son?"
"You could not manage to keep Christine alive for longer than an afternoon?" he retorted.
They both stopped suddenly, their own words a heavy weight upon their shoulders. Erik wondered if it was indeed an improvement that they had not come to physical blows. Still, the silence felt as though they had momentarily retreated to nurse their wounds, eyes deliberately averted from the other man.
Erik had had five months to amass quite the collection of hateful epithets and derisive insults against the viscount. He had planned to speak them all, but now that he had spoken but a fraction of them, the satisfaction he had thought to derive from doing so seemed but a far-fetched whimsy. The words were somehow not enough; the hatred was not enough.
It was Raoul who broke the silence with a muted confession. "I was halfway across the world before I heard."
And, Erik wondered how hatred could not be enough. "He asks for you constantly," he replied grudgingly. "I offer him the world and he requests for you alone." It was somehow all too reminiscent of their shared past.
Raoul looked towards Gustave. "Children."
They both gazed upon him, the boy's worries temporarily forgotten by the pure eagerness of the dog that chased him around.
"He is just like you," Raoul said suddenly. "Did you know? Even before?"
Erik looked at him then, but the younger man who was no longer young would not return his gaze. "Odd." He admitted, "I was going to say the same." He was almost certain that Raoul was no longer even seeing Gustave, his gaze far too distant to focus on him.
The younger man mused, "I had been certain Christine had been grooming him to be like you." There was no venom in his words, simply resignation. "I hadn't thought it to be simple… heredity."
There was more to that confession regarding Christine than Gustave and Erik almost wanted to force Raoul to look him in the eyes, force him to share what Gustave could not.
"What-" Raoul began but stopped when he saw a youth, a boy several years older and quite taller than Gustave, stop to pet Durante, who greeted him eagerly. He spoke to Gustave, who pointed to them and soon, the three were walking down the hill.
Gustave headed directly to Raoul before quickly moving to stand by Erik. Durante sat by Raoul's leg. Raoul immediately placed a hand upon his head, but his attention was completely on the new stranger. The boy gave Erik a suspicious look before speaking directly to Raoul.
"An acquaintance of yours?" He moved to stand slightly between them.
Raoul grinned at him, amused at the open suspicion. There was that fondness once more, and Erik wondered just who those two strangers were. Raoul placed his hand upon his forearm to pull him to stand beside him, giving him a weighted look at the same time that clearly said 'behave.' "Jacques," he said quietly, "they are people from my past." He inclined his head slightly. "Jacques, this is Gustave and…"
"Erik," Erik supplied, not willing to hear what the blond may have called him.
Jacques shook Gustave's proffered hand and simply eyed Erik, more specifically his mask.
"Gustave, Erik," the name sounded foreign to his ears, "this is Jacques."
Jacques moved closer to Raoul, enough so that their shoulders brushed. "It is a pleasure to meet you," he directed his statement to Gustave.
Erik looked at the impertinent youngster: a brunet, mid-teens, and slightly shorter than Raoul. He was lean and toned, wearing clothes similar to Raoul: untailored, homemade clothing made of rough material. Jacques and Jacquelyn. Twins. The resemblance was undeniable.
Raoul spoke, ending the staring contest Erik hadn't realized he'd been in with the youth. "It must have been a long journey. There is an inn in the village." He smiled at Gustave, who returned the smile eagerly. He looked to Erik for confirmation though. Erik gave a curt nod in response.
"It is this way," Jacques said after Raoul nudged his arm. He beckoned Gustave to follow him as they took the lead. Jacques cast a lingering glance at the older men before launching into a description of the different shops in the village to Gustave, who listened attentively.
Raoul and Erik trailed after them, keeping a short distance apart. Durante paced Raoul, making certain to stay between him and Erik, who was doing rather well at ignoring Raoul's very existence. He had given his son what he had asked, but the repercussions of doing so were still so very unclear to him. He could not allow Gustave to remain here forever, as he was almost certain his son would request.
Raoul spoke suddenly, voice pitched low so that the other two could not hear, "I will endeavor to make him understand how he cannot come to depend on me any longer."
A/N: Don't forget to R/R (Read and Review)!
Fic Review: Honestly, there's way too much drama in this plotbunny. Raoul seems cold here, especially to Gustave. –sigh- He's not heartless, if you were wondering. You don't get to see the back story that would've been in part 2 of the trilogy (that would've explained why he acted like he did in LND). :( It makes me sad just thinking of it.