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: Let's Rewrite Our History Assumption #7: Raoul has no title, no money, and no other choice what with a sick mother to support.
Warning(s): slash, sexual assault
Pairing(s): Erik/Raoul, Raoul/OMC sort of (not really)
Word Count: 3,426
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: Dedicated to Keyklee who shares this plotbunny with me. It's up for adoption, you guys. Actually all the LROH plotbunnies are up for adoption. They need good homes! XD
Story note: One of the best plotbunnies to have ever attacked me (like 3 years ago in the Alphabet Game). Blame the Robert Englund movie for this particular plotbunny. Otherwise, I'd never have thought of it, none of this is truly Englund!POTO based though, so no need to worry about that.
The Cost of Life
By: Lucifer Rosemaunt
Back pressed against the brick wall of the all-too-familiar building, Raoul let the cold seep through his thin shirt. It was enough to ground him, enough to keep him from giving in to the urge to run, which was quite a feat considering that as each second passed, his resolve drew thin. The night would easily cover him if he so chose to sneak away. No one would judge him if he escaped from the life that awaited him with this decision.
Except himself. He would know and he would be forever disappointed in himself. Despite all the reasons he had to run, he thought, instead, of all the reasons to stay. He could still feel his mother's fevered hand pressed against his cheek, barely an hour ago.
"I just want a place to finally rest," she had said before falling into a fitful slumber, one arm wrapped around her stomach as she grimaced in pain.
He frowned at the memory even as he rebelled against the very thought. His poor, bedridden mother wanted a resting place. What she needed was more medicine, not to mention better food, warmer clothes, and money to cover the cost of their rundown abode. The tenement they had been forced to move into since his mother had suddenly fallen ill was crowded and noisy, but at least he supposed, they were surrounded by people who knew them, knew their history and understood his plight.
More importantly, if they wanted to see a worthwhile doctor, which she so desperately needed, he would have to earn money somehow. Every day that passed was another day the debt he already owed increased, nearing a thousand francs due to his inability to meet deadlines. In little more than a week, had it all been spent and with nothing truly to show for it except for the obvious prognosis that without some sort of treatment his mother would die. He hadn't trusted that quack, but in his desperation at his mother's sudden collapse, he had been the only one Raoul could convince to see her on such short notice. Even after, no one else would see him for what little he could afford. The current restorative the doctor had his mother on seemed to do nothing, and Raoul was not going to wait any longer to see if he was correct.
There was also the cost of the laudanum that was supposed to prevent her from suffering so much. She hated it, saying it made her too confused and tired despite relieving her abdominal pain. Raoul stared up at the night sky, wishing once more for a miracle. In a voice that was becoming weaker with each day, she had begged to leave the laudanum until it became absolutely necessary; she wanted to be spend what time she had left with him lucid.
There was no way he could let her continue to suffer so when there was a means to hopefully obtain a better treatment for her from a respectable doctor. It had been the two of them for as long as he could remember, and if he did not do this now, then there was little doubt that it would soon only be him.
Just outside this dark alleyway, he could hear the familiar calls and enticements of the women that his mother used to work among. The ladies of the night, sirens in their own right lured men into the brothel for a drink and eventually into their beds. His mother had been too kind for the lifestyle that she had lived, too gentle. The usual animosity that existed between them had been different, less defined since she remained unassuming, working only so much as to keep them alive.
He had been six when he had first learned of his mother's occupation. She had not been at all self-conscious. Instead, she had told him in terms he could understand what she did and why she did it. "For you, my treasure. It is so we may survive." The sad look in her eyes was still present to this day. "Mother has no other skill."
It was his turn to take care of her now. They had been run out of their home and he from his job at the factory when the debtors had come to collect the minimum on his then one-day, past due payment. He supposed much of his animosity and distrust of the doctor came from the men with whom he associated. They were brutes, unforgiving and single-minded. Had they not been so heavy handed with their dealings with him, he might have been able to pay them soon enough. Instead, he was now further in debt. Even though he disliked the ones who refused to hire him out of fear that a similar event might occur, he hated the collectors more.
His mother had looked so relieved to see him at her side, caring for her that he could not bemoan his own supposed misfortunes for long. They had returned to his childhood quarter, and while doing so meant that rent was considerably cheaper, he could still find no work, which had inevitably brought him to this point. To return to this building, after everything he had done simply to get his mother and himself away so that they could live a respectable albeit hard life, only highlighted his failures as a son. Even as the old acquaintances, the people he had grown up around had welcomed them back; even now as they helped him, he could not ignore the suffocating disappointment in himself.
All he had to do was stay here and wait for the customer. He eyed the near empty alley. He had even been told that if he could not go through with it, he would be able to do so without impunity to either him or his friend who had arranged the meeting. The pimp that had once run the brothel had mysteriously disappeared and in his absence, a Madam had taken over. The state of the rooms had changed, but he knew not much else had. The woman was shrewd and merciless. She was looking to expand her business and he was proving to be a useful test subject. She had made this one concession for him only because she knew a desperate man when she saw one.
He could run, but then what? Then his mother would not have the medical care she needed and he would still be in debt. He stared down at his clothes, not really recognizing himself. The blouse he wore was sheer and unbuttoned to show much of his chest, revealing the muscles that he had gained through hard labour. The skin-tight, felt pants looked more for riding than for the evening; it held tight to his legs, and according to the others, hugged his 'better assets.' He had simply taken their word on that.
A cloaked man walked by him, hood hung low over his face so that it remained hidden. Raoul knew better than stare, had already learned how to observe without looking directly at a person. The man was taller than he. His cloak looked expensive, and the fact that he hid his face only made Raoul certain that he was someone who had something to hide. Then again, not many individuals used the side entrance except for those who had very good reason to. The man was so focused, steps firm and quick, that Raoul would not be surprised if he hadn't been noticed at all.
Even though it was obvious this was not the one who had specifically asked for the services that he could offer, he still tensed. His heart beat a staccato rhythm; his throat tightened. He consoled himself, repeating that it would not be difficult. He had been surrounded by this his entire life. It was not as though he had never participated in sexual congress with another. He had simply never been with a man before, though the others had told him exactly what to expect. His stomach turned at the thought.
He turned to leave only to almost run directly into a man, who grabbed his arm to stop him.
"Monsieur," Raoul started. He knew he could dislodge his arm from his grip, but one look at the man's clothing told him that an altercation would certainly end poorly on his end. Although sloppy and mostly undone, his clothes were more expensive than what Raoul had earned last month. He could not be a business man; if Raoul had to assume, this was a military man. If any attention was brought to them, he would probably be imprisoned and then there would be none to care for his mother. To make matters worse, the stranger was large and burly, near twice his size actually and Raoul instinctively knew he was in trouble. This was a man accustomed to using force to achieve his means; he would not escape this unscathed. Just as he had finished that thought, a hairy forearm slammed against his collarbone, forcing him back against the wall. Momentarily stunned, Raoul could do nothing but reflect that he had been right.
The man leered, licking his chapped lips as he grabbed Raoul's chin with his free hand, jerking his head upwards. "You are much too pretty." He moved his face closer and Raoul finally decided that no matter what the consequences, he could not let this go any further. He grabbed at the man's arm and tried to squirm away from him, but he had poor leverage and the man's full weight was upon him. He had missed his opportunity to get away with his hesitation. The man breathed a noxious odor of alcohol and tobacco on Raoul's face.
Realizing that all his attempts at dislodging the man's arm from him was proving fruitless, Raoul said in a strained voice, "Pardon me, Monsieur." The man thankfully released his face, and Raoul immediately took the opportunity to turn away. He struggled to take in another breath when the man slid his arm up towards his throat. He gasped, "You must have me mistaken for…" The rest of his sentence was choked off when the man shoved several francs into the waistband of his trousers.
Raoul struggled even more desperately, searching the still empty alley for any form of salvation. He punched at the man's midsection but could not achieve any true force behind it. "Help," he croaked out. "H-"
"Ah-ah. I have paid for your services. Try not to draw any unwanted attention." The stranger ducked his head into the crook of Raoul's neck and breathed in deeply. Raoul shuddered in disgust. The man was undeterred by Raoul's hands, which were scrabbling for purchase against his arm.
"Dressed as you are," the man's free hand grabbed at the neck of his shirt and in one quick motion, ripped it open. "I doubt any mistake has been made."
Raoul bucked in his grip and it was only because reflex had the man shift backwards when his knee drove upward that he managed to get the sole of his foot planted against the wall. Desperation gave him strength as he surged against the bigger man, pushing him several steps back and directly into a hooded figure who they had not noticed passing by in their distraction. The drunk man still hardly noticed; his eyes were focused entirely on Raoul in obvious anger, face twisted into a scowl. Raoul had fallen forward from the effort onto his hands and knees. He was scrambling to his feet to run when the man moved forward, pushing off the hooded figure with a harsh yell.
"You little whore!"
Raoul flinched. Whether it was from the name or from his obvious violent intent, he did not know. He would be able to defend himself for a bit, but escape was truly the only chance he had to survive.
What neither of them was expecting was for the hooded man to push him back, sending him careening off balance towards the entrance of the alley. Raoul froze halfway to his feet, watching as the man who had just been assaulting him ran headlong into the wall. Even he winced at the impact. It wasn't enough to knock him out, but the man struggled to stay on his feet, using the wall for support as blood dripped down his face from the gash on his forehead.
"Who do you think you are?" He swayed on his feet, attention having finally moved to the hooded man. His position was enough to make Raoul's most direct route for an escape blocked. He could not turn the other way for it was a dead end, save for the doorway to the brothel. He refused to bring danger upon the others.
"I paid for this whore already."
Raoul flinched and knew for certain this time it was because of his designation as a whore. It should not affect him so; yet, it did. He felt ashamed for the reaction because his mother had never allowed herself to be cast down for what she knew she had needed to do to ensure their survival.
As though noticing him for the first time, the hooded man turned towards him. Raoul tried to make himself as small as possible against the wall. It would have been better for him to have remained unnoticed. His hair was mussed and he desperately clutched his shirt together. He imagined what a sight he must be. He crouched there, knowing he was being judged and wondered how much more his pride could take. He considered running; surely he could make it out into the streets before the police could be called.
Before he could act, the hooded man had shifted his focus again. "Leave," he ordered, the word nearly masked by a low growl.
Even though the word had not been directed at him, Raoul was immediately on guard, easily hearing the threat. The burly man however must have hit his head harder than he thought since he only momentarily seemed surprised. He wavered as he held himself at fullest height and began to stumble towards the other. Faster than he could react, the hooded man's hand darted out of his cloak and grabbed his thick neck, pushing him once more against the wall.
"Leave," he ordered once more.
From where he was, Raoul could see the whites of his assailant's eyes. As self-preservation finally arose, he nodded mutely without further argument. Once released, he scurried away, casting backward glances in fear that he would be followed.
When the hooded man turned to face him once more, Raoul belatedly realized that he should have taken that opportunity to leave as well in order to avoid the unpleasantness of having to face another man who knew his shame. He had been so caught up in the barely restrained violence that he had only thought to watch. Now that the danger was gone, he could perhaps find a place to berate himself in private or spend the night once more at his mother's bedside, promising her that things would soon be better. He imagined, tonight he would be using the opportunity to apologize for his weakness.
Yet, he could not move. The stranger was staring at him and Raoul had the distinct feeling that he was not quite safe yet. Hand still clutching his shirt together, he hazarded a step towards the entrance of the alley.
The stranger, though several paces away, mirrored the movement in a clear intent to block his way.
Eyes darting through the alley, Raoul hated to think he was once again alone with a dangerous man. At least this one was across the alley from him, but he already doubted that he would be able to outmaneouver him, not when considering how easily he had dealt with the other man. The hooded man approached him, movement firm but slow and Raoul backed away the short distance before he was once again hitting the cold brick wall.
"Monsieur," Raoul started, throat dry. "I-" He attempted to push the man away, but both his hands were caught in a bone crushing grip. He grimaced, knees buckling from the unanticipated jolt of pain. Trying to free his hands only caused him more pain.
"Be still." His voice sounded different this close despite being but another command.
Seeing no other alternative, Raoul did as he was told and sighed when his hands were finally released. He gingerly flexed his fingers and was pleased to find that nothing had been broken.
The hooded man stepped closer and Raoul had to remind himself not to move. He could not help but flinch when the man touched his stomach though, but instead of doing anything untoward, he pulled out the bank notes that had been shoved into his waistband. A total of ten francs.
He felt his face flush in embarrassment at the obvious scrutiny he was being given, like the other man was trying to see if he was worth the ten francs. Seeing the man's face was entirely unnecessary by this point and Raoul was rather thankful for it when the man folded the notes in half and once again slipped it into his waistband.
Raoul's eyes widened and he tried, unsuccessfully, to hide his reaction. That was more money than he was told to expect. Still, this man made him uneasy. He was not even certain he could do it; actually, he was rather certain after that last experience that he would not be able to do this. Shaking his head hesitantly, he half-expected the other man to become violent.
Instead, he seemed to pause in consideration. He brought his hand up, the cloak falling away to show pale skin, and Raoul found himself staring. Fingertips skimmed his cheek and further up to tug at blond strands of hair, deliberate in his perusal of Raoul's body. His hand began to trail downward, down his throat and chest. He stopped at his waist.
"One hundred francs for every meeting," he offered brusquely, "only if you remain exclusive to me alone."
"One hundred?" Raoul repeated, choking on the words. "For every meeting?" It sounded too good to be true. With that much money, he would be able to repay his debtors with little more than a handful of trysts with this man. He could save his mother and move to a nicer house. He could… stopping himself, he focused on the present. It was a lot of money, but he guessed that it was money the other man had to spare. Still, he could not ignore his unease, so he asked, "What do you expect of me?"
"Nothing more than I expect from any other in your profession" was his quick rejoinder. Luckily, he did not sound offended by Raoul's questions. In fact, he sounded almost bored with such negotiations, as though it were only a matter of time before Raoul agreed, and Raoul realized that it was nothing more than a business transaction. Only in this case, it was his body for sale.
"That does not answer my question," he pointed out. "Those in my profession vary in the customers they take."
"True enough." And Raoul had the distinct impression that he had amused this man. "I expect you to be at my side at any hour of any day and to remain with me for as long as I desire." Raoul was about to interject, but he continued, "I will pay extra for further monopolizing your time, of course. During that time," he stroked Raoul's cheek teasingly, "I will not ask for anything more than the minimum expected from one of your profession."
Merely sexual relations then. Uneasy as he was with just that, Raoul almost breathed a sigh of relief. He knew of other men's strange appetites and knew that only certain women could satisfy them. He now only wished the man would remove his hood. He would know how better to respond if he could see this man's eyes, see if he looked cruel, but this was more money than he could ever hope to earn in such a short amount of time. His mother would never want for medicine or care.
"If I fail to hear from you, whether you wish to see me or not, after three days," Raoul stated slowly, taking a moment to steel himself for what he was going to agree to, "then our deal is forfeit."
A/N: Don't forget to R/R (Read and Review)!
Fic Review: Whore!Raoul needs to be written. ;D Don't ask me why I torture my favorite characters so much. I don't think I did the plotbunny too much justice. I tried to put too much in one chapter again. The ideas are just too big is the problem. :(
Honestly, I have no idea how much a prostitute would cost back then. Thirty seems really little to me, but then considering the fact that he's a man and the whole standard of living was much different from now, thirty sounds like 'a lot' for a night – and if that holds true than one hundred sounds like that much more. Actually, thirty was chosen because that's how much Raoul paid for the music box in the beginning of the musical. A+ if you recognized such a vague connection.
This is the one fic I wish I could write because the plotbunny has not only persisted, it has grown stronger through the years (and has actually hashed itself out without my intending it to).