Title: All Apologies
#: 9. In Decision
Author: Lucifer Rosemaunt
Summary: Offshoot from Gallery Piece chapter 03. Good graces are often given to those with persistence.
Fandom: Phantom of the Opera
Word Count: 1,649
A/N: I don't like this chapter. At all. But I still felt like I needed to add it.
Story note: Finally, right? So much for quick multi-chaptered fic from me. I don't think I know what the word quick means.
Erik did not care to remember exactly how he came to be up a tree just to the left of Raoul's balcony. There was a meddling old woman he had left in his haste. The opera had barely reached its first aria, and the audience had been fat, full, and thoroughly pleased with the newest bit of opera ghost gossip. There was a stolen carriage, an injured driver, angry voices, and quickened footsteps that had been left in the wake of his transit. None of that was significant. All that mattered was the meter distance between his perch and the balcony ledge, the open doors that tested his restraint, and the young man currently tearing his room apart in indecision.
As much as his first impulse was to confront his wayward Chagny, he found the need to know the outcome of Raoul's internal struggle to be much stronger. Madame Giry's fate depended upon this decision, not that Raoul would ever know that, but if the woman had managed to convince him to leave, there was little in the world that would stop Erik from making her regret her decision to ever look upon Raoul, much less speak with him. If she lived long enough to be able to regret it.
More importantly, Erik wanted to know what this tenacious, stubborn, and passionate young man would do. He wondered if it were possible that his loyalty could be so easily rent by some old woman's words. Raoul loved him and Erik was still left in anticipation to see how he would prove it to him willingly, how far he would go to keep his love.
It was a fact that he had little patience, but Raoul always managed to keep him waiting and without anything else to occupy his time, thinking. Despite his reluctance and general disgust at the very thought of their situations being reversed, he had been forced to mull over what Raoul had argued. He could usually get no further than the image of Raoul kissing Christine. He had seen it before. Raoul seemed to forget that he had the misfortune to live through that, through Raoul fawning over his protégé. He had been witness to the young man wasting his affections, his efforts, his time on her when Erik had been there all along.
So, he did not need to imagine their roles reversed. He knew how he would feel, how he would respond because he'd already had the opportunity to react. He had made his intentions known, had made Raoul his, and had begrudged the person who was truly to blame, Christine. Although he attempted to avoid all thoughts of her beyond hope for her voice nowadays, the sense of irritation and irrational bursts of hatred towards her could not be helped. Somehow she was able to cause him strife even in her current absence. She dared time and again to take what was not hers. She had failed once and Erik would make certain she failed every single time. He did not know why Raoul would ever expect otherwise.
Toward the young man, well, Erik felt the same towards him regardless of the scenario, regardless of the kisses he had given all too freely to her and the touches that should have been reserved for him. Once, he may have questioned his motives, wondered if they were not all some ruse, but Raoul had proven himself true.
It begged the question of whether the same could be said of Erik, and that always made him pause. He could not understand exactly how Raoul could ever think him to be false. He was perfectly clear when it came to how he felt about the younger man: first in the cemetery and then in inviting him into his home and showing him his face.
Raoul was always a little slow though: slow to understand, slow to realize his feelings, slow to make them known. It was because of this that Erik found some satisfaction in seeing his obvious turmoil. Only the viscount's stubbornness was keeping him from making the correct choice, and this willfulness was just as attractive now as it would be when he finally gave in. Oh, he would be able to choose, but Erik would be there regardless. The outcome was going to be the same even if Raoul had yet to realize that Erik was not going to lose him.
He admitted only to himself that he wanted the young man to choose him, to choose him in all things without any provocation or incitement.
The entire evening, as with the past weeks, was spent with Raoul denying him however. He would place his clothes within the trunk and then in the very next moment remove it. The trunk was never completely full and the room simply became more disarrayed. He spared several minutes in equal measures simply staring at his bedroom wall or screaming and kicking his furniture.
Erik could not tear his eyes away from the spectacle. He had been unable to watch Raoul this unencumbered in months. Ever since he had confessed in the cemetery, Raoul had been constantly vying for his attention and when he hadn't been, he had simply been too acutely aware of being watched and became self-conscious of his actions. This moment was more honest, more intimate than Erik would ever admit to him. Raoul had told him time and again that it disturbed him to be watched so intently.
There was a marked difference between then and now though. Raoul was hurting because of him. Erik understood that, but he had always known that because of the monster he was, it was inevitable. Yet, somehow his suffering now was different than before. He had seen Raoul suffer, injured at his own hands or by his own risks, and he had not taken a moment to consider anything other than the fact that the young man was resilient enough to continue to live. His continued existence had been all that mattered, but that was not so any longer. Erik had somehow begun to care about the quality of his life and of his days.
In some moment between the cemetery and this balcony, they had become connected. Raoul's suffering was his own as well. Erik did not fully understand it, could not fully grasp it, and it was only now left as a mere spectator to their relationship that he could even begin to attempt to examine the fleeting thoughts. It was a distant, foreign emotion that came and left quickly but with the regularity of waves upon a shore, and each time, it left the faint impression of a phantom injury somewhere within his chest.
Their lives were connected, and he should be rejoicing at the discovery, not beginning to doubt his actions. He could not rejoice, not like this, even as he tried to revel in the satisfaction of Raoul suffering because of his stubbornness. The doubt steadily eroded the pleasure, and a feeling that might have been guilt – Erik could not be too certain – was taking root. It made staying within the tree difficult because he knew he could make this better; there was something within his power that he was not doing.
Before he could determine exactly what that action was, he was forced from his perch. As dawn broke, Raoul moved to the balcony. Erik spared one glance into his room to see it the worse for wear and the trunk neither full nor empty before jumping down. Raoul stared out into the distance, a small frown marring his features, and Erik was forced to press against the wall to remain hidden in the bushes below, lest the young man glance down and see him. From his position, he could no longer see Raoul's face, and the phantom pain that had been a nuisance but moments before was easily ignored in favour of allowing his impatience to grow. He could finally focus again on the important factors. The need for action was still present and waiting for Raoul was simply taking too long.
A plan was already forming in his mind. Raoul would remain. The only problem was that to make his plan work, he would need him to return to the opera house. Taking Raoul here, in his estate, would be too risky, and there were too many factors to consider in moving such a distance back to the Opera Populaire with an unconscious young man.
Erik glanced up to see Raoul's leg dangling over the edge and his hand, white-knuckled and clutching the material of his trousers, wrinkling them even further. He hesitated, frozen to his spot, and he began to question his burgeoning plan. Surely, Raoul would only suffer if Erik took him against his will, and perhaps the viscount would choose him regardless. Even if he did not, then maybe that was to be for the best, but he simply could not let him go. Only the sound of approaching footsteps freed him from those traitorous thoughts. Raoul would suffer only as much as he needed to in order for them to remain together. It was necessary.
He crept quietly to the main entrance of the estate to better hear their conversation. Madame Giry's brat called out to Raoul, and Erik glared at her and the freedoms she took when addressing his viscount. The content of their conversation alone ensured her continued safety after what Madame Giry had done. What he bothered to listen of her words were vague and confusing, but Raoul seemed to ascribe a meaning to them that Erik did not care to decipher. All he cared about was that the Giry brat had somehow convinced Raoul to return to the Opera Populaire. It was perfect.
He departed before either of them, pleased that he would soon have Raoul with him once more.
End chapter 09
A/N: Don't forget to R/R (Read and Review)!
Chapter Review: Just because we need to know what Erik was doing/thinking, and so we can marvel at how amazing it is how confident Erik can be about everything he does. Even when he really shouldn't be. Although he is starting to doubt his normal reactions when it comes to dealing with Raoul. I think this is the second to last chapter. Or it's very near the end obviously. I mean, it's coming to a head, unless Erik does something really stupid… which admittedly he might.