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: Modern AU. Raoul's known Erik for almost the entirety of his life, or the one where a Chagny ends up changing Erik's life in one way or another.
Word Count: 3,082
A/N: In celebration of the 25th anniversary of POTO (the musical of course since the book's been out long before then), I wrote this fic. I actually watched the show in a movie theatre and wasn't horribly impressed. It didn't do the stageplay much justice since they unnecessarily changed things in it.
Story note: It's odd. I'd been relatively unmolested by plotbunnies lately until I watched the 25th anniversary showing and now they're back in full force, but that's not odd (that was expected). What is odd is the fact that most of the plotbunnies are Modern AU ones. Why? I don't know. But this came out of it. Slash is also later in the story.
By: Lucifer Rosemaunt
Chapter 01 - 5
Raoul, 5 yo
Philippe, 15 yo
Erik, 15 yo
At the sound of the door opening, Raoul scrambled to his feet, knocking over one of the skyscrapers from the city of wood blocks he'd been working on all afternoon. The eight block high tower tumbled down with a crash, taking down the tiny apartment complex behind it. Raoul hesitated, desperately wanting to rebuild, but the sound of his brother's voice convinced him otherwise.
"Uh, yeah, so this is my house."
Raoul dashed out of his room, socks slipping on beige carpet, and skidded to a halt at the top of the stairs. He crouched down, fitting his head between two of the posts of the stair railing as he looked down into the foyer. His brother was back from school. Raoul stared longingly at his uniform, a white polo with the logo over his heart and khaki pants ironed so well that the crease still showed after an entire day. Just like any other day, Philippe toed off his shoes and tossed his backpack to the side. What was different this time, however, was that there was a boy, a classmate if the uniform were any indication, who stood beside him. The boy's clothes weren't as neat as Philippe's but it was close.
The older Chagny was explaining. "My dad's probably still at work; he works pretty late. My mom's probably making dinner. My sisters have ballet class and my brother," Philippe turned to look up the stairs and immediately spotted him. He grinned widely, "is probably watching us."
The strange boy followed his gaze and Raoul couldn't help but stare. Strange was an appropriate word since the boy wore a white mask that covered half of his face. He looked as dubious at Raoul as Raoul did at him.
Their staring contest was cut short when Philippe called, "Raoul." He motioned for him to come down.
Raoul obeyed immediately, trusting his brother completely despite the stranger in their house. He stomped down the stairs loudly, making a ruckus no one his size should have been able to make. When he was three stairs from the bottom, he jumped and with practiced ease, Philippe caught him, squeezing him in a tight hug. Raoul giggled, wrapping his legs around his brother and hugging him back just as enthusiastically. Philippe adjusted his grip to carry him easier.
"Erik, I'd like to introduce you to my brother, Raoul. He doesn't leave the house half as much as he should."
Raoul let go of the chokehold he had around Philippe's neck to look back. He spared a moment to stick his tongue out at his brother. Erik looked distinctly uncomfortable, wondering if all brothers acted like that. From what he'd seen at the home, he had to say no. He adjusted his backpack and barely met Raoul's eyes. In return, the young blond offered him a smile, remembering what his parents had said about being courteous. Erik didn't even attempt to smile back.
"Raoul," Philippe dipped a bit, "I'd like you to meet my lab partner, Erik. He's sorta new at school."
Their sophomore year in high school was halfway over and Erik had actually transferred in the beginning of the school year. He didn't bother pointing out that he and Philippe shared two classes together in all that time. It wasn't as though Philippe actually ignored him though, Erik knew. It was simply that the other boy was involved in practically everything and was constantly busy. Half the time, Philippe was exempted from classes because of events he was in charge of and when he was in class, the girls constantly fawned over him, crowding him. Erik didn't really know how he passed any of his classes.
On the other hand, Erik had actually been happy to stay anonymous, keep his scholarship money and wait for graduation. Everyone left him alone. It helped that he glared at anyone who tried to speak with him, sit near him, or approach him in any manner. Most teachers allowed him to work alone when he could and when he couldn't, he laid out the terms of their association and kept conversation to a minimum. Today in chemistry, they had needed to find partners for a project. Philippe had been the one to walk up to him, state his name clearly, and ask him outright if he would like to be partners. Erik had seen the disgruntled looks from the others in the class who had wanted to work with him. None of them approached though; they might spread rumours about him, but they weren't willing to attack him directly. It was only the vindictive glee at seeing their disappointment that made him say yes.
He had regretted it almost immediately after when Philippe had asked him to go over to his house and he regretted it now.
Raoul stared at him and Erik stared back. The younger of the two held out his hand and pointed, "What's wrong with your face?"
"Ah," Philippe pulled him away before Raoul could get any idea and pull off the mask himself. "I'm so sorry about that." Erik was about to interject that it was expected, but Philippe had already turned his attention to Raoul, scolding, "That's not polite. You shouldn't say things like that."
Raoul pouted. "But…"
"No but's, Raoul." Philippe put him down and Raoul swayed a bit at the suddenly change, trying to get his feet settled. "That's impolite. Now, I want you to apologize."
Blue eyes widened, tearing up almost immediately. Raoul stared at his brother, bottom lip quivering, but Philippe remained unmoved.
Erik stared down at the boy. His hair was a lighter blond than his brother's and his eyes much bluer, though Erik only saw it through the tears in his eyes. His face was round, but it was easy to see that it was simply baby fat he would eventually grow out of. He wore quite short, navy blue shorts, ironed just as well as Philippe's school uniform and white socks that stopped just below his knees so that the patch of pale skin of his knees showed. A neon green band-aid covered his right knee. His cotton white polo shirt was dressed-up with a string bow tie, the same color of his shorts. Erik actually felt a little bad for the kid. Not because he shouldn't be taught it wasn't nice to point out other people's deformities, but rather because he was certain the older Chagnys were cruel enough to have taken a lot of pictures of him in this outfit. Erik did admit to himself though, if Raoul had been his little brother, he would probably put him in the same outfits, just because the boy somehow managed to pull it off.
"I'm sorry," Raoul mumbled, head bowed low. Messy blond hair covered his expression.
Philippe crouched to place his hand on Raoul's shoulders. "Okay. Now you need to see if Erik accepts your apology."
Still pouting, Raoul looked up. Instead of anger, like Erik expected him to feel for being chastised, he truly looked apologetic and desperately hopeful that he would accept his apology. Philippe looked at him, silently prompting him to respond.
At a loss for what to do, Erik answered, "It's fine." It wasn't the first time people have stared and wondered. He did have to admit that Raoul was the first person to ever ask so directly about it. All the other children he encountered were too frightened by him to speak to him directly.
Raoul looked relieved and gave him a tentative smile, obviously uncertain as to how it would be received. In return, Erik gave a tight smile that came and went in a breath. Still, it had been seen and the young boy brightened up immediately, despite his sniffling.
Philippe was still fussing over Raoul, wiping the tears that had spilled over when their mother called. "Philippe? Is that you?" she yelled from somewhere further inside the house. "I need your help in the kitchen."
Philippe stood, looking at Erik as though that entire exchange had been normal. "Sorry about that. I'll be right back." He placed a hand on Raoul's head and getting an idea said to his brother, "Hey, why don't you show Erik the city we've been working on and I'll be up there as soon as possible?"
Raoul nodded enthusiastically. His eyes were trained on his older brother leaving until he could no longer see him. Then, it was just Erik alone with Raoul in the foyer, and all that intense focus was once again turned upon him. He wanted nothing more than to leave.
"You need to take your shoes off before we can go upstairs," Raoul nodded sagely.
Erik glanced down at his penny loafers and then Raoul's socked feet before doing as he was told. He placed them neatly against the wall. Almost immediately after the task was done, a small hand grabbed his and began dragging him up the stairs. Too stunned to pull away, Erik followed the enthusiastic child.
"Pip and I've been working on this for a week."
They turned right at the top of the stairs, passed a closed door that looked like a closet, before Raoul threw open a door.
Erik almost tripped at the sudden stop and muttered to himself, "Pip?" However, when he finally got his bearings he paused. Raoul's bedroom was larger than Erik's at his foster parents' house. It even had two windows compared to Erik's one. The walls were painted a sky blue, a small twin bed was pressed against the corner, bed sheets of a city scene adorned it. At the base was a large trunk and beside it a desk and a short bookcase. There was even a sliding closet.
He shouldn't have expected any less, especially after he'd first seen the house. He'd only ever lived in apartments, but even he knew that the Chagny household was larger than most. It just made him even more aware of the differences that existed between those on scholarship at their private school and those who obviously didn't need the assistance. It was the same everywhere really. He'd simply forgotten because Philippe had seemed friendly. Maybe he was taking pity on the transfer student or the freak who wore a mask, but it hadn't seemed like it at the time. Even now, it didn't seem like this was out of pity.
But, it wasn't really the size of the room that had made Erik stop. Spread out on almost every inch of floor space in the room were blocks. A little city made of blocks of different shapes, sizes, and colors had been built in Raoul's room. Toy cars were scattered about the streets and a main path that led to all the important areas of the bedroom – bed, closet, desk –doubled as a public rail system, indicated by the toy trolleys. Erik could distinctly see a downtown with all the skyscrapers closest to them, although there seemed to be construction still going on. The short one-block rows neatly ordered with obvious streets by the desk had to be some sort of suburb. There was a park near the bed with green construction paper as the grass, a Christmas tree figurine and two dinosaurs having a picnic.
Raoul had yet to relinquish his hold on Erik's hand so he tugged him forward so that they actually entered the room. Erik gingerly made his way in, worried that he would inadvertently destroy all the obvious hard work that had gone into this small city.
"See, this is where all the daddies and mommies work." He pointed to the skyscrapers. "And this is where everything gets made." He pointed to the blocks that formed squat rectangles off to the side.
"A warehouse district?" Erik couldn't help but verbalize.
"Um," Raoul shrugged, "Yeah, I think that's what Pip called it."
Erik couldn't help but ask, "Pip? As in your brother, Philippe?"
The younger boy finally looked away from his block structures to gaze at him. "Uh-huh." He paused his explanation, distracted into staring at him.
Tugging his hand away from the tight grasp, Erik stared down at him. He knew Raoul wanted to ask about his face again, but his eyes were still rimmed-red and surely the previous censure from his brother was still fresh in his mind.
"Is…" Raoul started. He looked at the nearest building and plucked the roof from it. He stared at the red triangle. "Is it like a band-aid?"
Erik wasn't quite sure what he was trying to say.
As though sensing his confusion, Raoul continued. "Matti fell out of the tree in the back one time and scratched her eye. She had to wear a mask for weeks."
Small shoulders shrugged. He found the block quite interesting as he turned it over in his hands. "The thing pirates wear."
"An eyepatch," Erik supplied.
Raoul looked up. "Yeah. I guess."
Erik looked towards the doorway, hoping Philippe would make an appearance. This was why he didn't go to other people's houses; this was why he didn't deal with any of the younger kids at the house. Still, he didn't feel as uncomfortable as he usually did when people brought up his mask or spoke to him at all. Now that he thought about it, the walk over with Philippe hadn't been horrible either. They only talked about the project, but that suited him just fine. And even though he had kept to his one word responses, Philippe hadn't been bothered by it at all. He could only hope this project wouldn't last too long.
He coached himself, reminding himself to take things slow. First, don't insult anyone's intelligence, as he was wont to do. Second, be polite and keep things focused on the project. He was already doing poorly on this one though. Third – he stared at Raoul – make it through the evening without making the kid cry. He opted for a distraction. "It's a nice city."
With the utmost care, Raoul placed the triangle back in its place. "It is. You can help. We haven't decided what to build in that corner yet." He pointed to an area that couldn't be more than a square foot, possibly the only area that did not have a block in it.
Perusing the city, Erik knew immediately what should go there.
"Will you show me when I'm older?" Raoul asked suddenly.
"Mom and Dad always say when," he tried to deepen his voice, "'I'm older' for stuff."
So the distraction didn't work as well as he would have hoped. Erik looked at the little boy. He doubted that they would even know each other when they were 'older.' Once he was eighteen he was going to be out of the system and live his own life. There was little chance that he'd keep in touch with the Chagnys once this year passed much less once he graduated from high school. He felt confident when he answered, "Yes, Raoul. When you're older."
The blond immediately perked up. He led the way to the park where Erik was instructed to sit on the bed so as not to disturbed the dinosaurs' dinner while Raoul explained the importance of the picnic blanket to keep ants from getting to the food.
When Philippe finally arrived, he was about to apologize but stopped himself. Erik was on the bed lying on his stomach with Raoul draped on top of him, arms over the older boy's shoulders as he held one dinosaur moving it in conversation with the other one, who Erik was holding. The tail of Raoul's string bow tie dangled with their movements. Unnoticed, Philippe left to retrieve the camera from his room.
"See, an airport would mean you could go wherever you wanted in the world," Erik's dinosaur, a tyrannosaurus rex, growled as he explained.
Raoul giggled as he made his stegosaurus roar. "Anywhere?"
The t-rex nodded. "To see new people and new places that you can't even imagine."
Philippe cleared his throat. Both Erik and Raoul looked up immediately, their dinosaurs freezing where they were. Erik half-expected Raoul to scramble off him to once again jump at his brother, but instead he just waved and settled on his back once more, ready for their dinosaurs to restart their conversation.
Erik was saved from that when Philippe followed the railway path to the bed and lifted Raoul off him.
"Hey!" Raoul said indignantly. Philippe placed his down to stand on his bed.
"I'm stealing your playdate because we have homework to start."
"But we're going to build an airport," Raoul whined.
Erik maneuvered himself on the small bed so that he could sit up. His clothes were all wrinkled and he really couldn't quite remember how they'd even gotten to the point where he was mimicking a dinosaur's voice. He was placing the t-rex down in the park once more when Raoul grabbed his shirt.
"Right? The airport?"
Looking from Raoul to Philippe, Erik realized he was caught. "There were talks about an airport."
"Then you can build it later," Philippe smirked. "I'll invite Erik over again tomorrow."
Raoul still pouted, not pleased that it would have to be put off.
"But," Philippe said, "he's going to spend dinner with us. If you want, of course." He added sheepishly, "My mom said I was raised in a barn if I thought to invite you over without asking you to stay for dinner."
Erik gaped for a moment. This was the first time he'd ever been invited to anyone's house. He certainly hadn't known what to expect, but he was convinced this turn of events was not normal at all. They looked expectantly at him, actually wanting him to stay. "I," he hesitated, "I just need to make a phone call."
Both Chagnys smiled.
Two months later, the project that had brought Erik and Philippe together as lab partners was long since forgotten. The air control tower looked over the empty runways of the international airport. The city was complete for now, sprawled across Raoul's bedroom floor. The walls were just beginning to be filled with drawings of pyramids, castles, and towers. And outside, two classmates talked about their summer plans while a laughing five year old held a shiny new toy airplane in hand, swooping it up and down as he trailed after them, the tails of his navy, string bow tie fluttering in the breeze.
End chapter 01
A/N: Don't forget to R/R (Read and Review)!
Chapter Review: For some reason, I really do like the thought that Philippe and Erik somehow became friends. Don't ask me why. Also, Raoul's outfit is the best.
And yes, I am working on the other fics. It's just surprisingly easier to work on this right now. It's only 5 chapters though, so don't worry about it taking too much of my time. I want to write more. I'll find the time somehow.