The whispering, much to Raoul's consternation, began during the Jewel Song.

"Look at how lovely she is in her Marguerite costume. Is she not angelic? Is her voice not the sound of perfection itself?"

"If you say." He squirmed in the plush seat, wishing that he had brought a companion – Erik never dared when there was someone else with him. He was arrogant and presumptuous and prone to ignoring all forms of propriety, but even he was not that brazen.

"Note how her breasts rise and fall with the lyrics, how lovely the lace curves and flutters around the swell…"

"Erik!" He hissed. "Cease this at once."

"I have asked her to remain in the costume after, that we may gain a fuller appreciation of it. Shame that I do not think it will survive the night's exertions. "

Raoul's mouth felt dry. Christine's costumes were quite beautiful these days, well worth the up-close examination. Even if they did not last.

"Are you not glad I recommended that particular costumer?"

"Yes, very glad," he replied tersely. "Now if you would be silent so I might enjoy this opera?"

He chuckled. "Do not lie to me Raoul. I know you do not care for 'Faust.'"

With a nervous energy, he plucked at the chair's upholstery. "You do not know that."

"You whimper in your dreams after watching its performance."

Again, Raoul flushed. "It brings back memories," he murmured. "Never mind! And I'll thank you not to mention this fact in Christine's presence. She doesn't know, does she?"

"Are you embarrassed, little Vicomte?" There is more laughter, echoing softly around the box. "No, she does not know. She sleeps much more soundly and does not keep the hours I do. But I would not have your reaction be otherwise; your innocence is one of your most beguiling qualities."

"Please, be quiet," he begged. "Don't you have other matters to attend to? Ballet girls to frighten, stage hands to harass?"

"The box is well sound-proofed. You know I cannot be heard. Besides, it is much more amusing to come and chat with you. The performance is well in hand; my presence is not needed elsewhere. Are you already so tired of my company?"

"You might not be able to be heard, but I can be seen. People will think I am running mad as Lear, talking to myself. It is not that I do not wish your company, but there is a time and a place, Erik!" He hissed, his voice starting to go from irritation to desperation.

"Mad as Lear? You have been delving into Shakespeare. Good. I like to know you are making yourself more well-read. It is encouraging and will hopefully make conversing with you a more intellectually stimulating experience. But more to the point – you do not have to reply, if you do not wish."

His voice had an edge to it but Raoul took his suggestion and did not dignify the tease with a response, instead pressing his lips together in a tight line. What he could not control, however, was the increasing red hue his face took on as Erik pointed out all of Christine's manifold attractions and speculated on what they would do when the performance was finally finished. He brought up costumes and props and a number of other suggestions that struck Raoul as highly improper, even given the nature of their unorthodox arrangement. Raoul was exceedingly grateful for the darkness of the box, so that those below or across from him would not be able to see the extent of his discomfort, the stirrings that Erik's words were producing across his entire body.

The moment the opera was finished, Raoul rushed to the dressing rooms. He knew that it was a social gaff of his own and that his relationship with Christine was already much gossiped about, that he ought not to exacerbate the situation with rash actions. But if he had listened to any more of Erik's whisperings, he might have done something still more regrettable. Besides that, if he did not hurry, the throngs of opera attendees would begin to spill out from their seats into the hallways, and he did not want to have to converse or even make eye contact with any of them.

There were much more pressing issues on his mind.

Moving quickly, it took him but five minutes to traverse the winding halls down to Christine's dressing room. To his great frustration, however, Erik was there before him – not surprising, but still exasperating.

"Raoul!" Christine turned from the mirror and threw her arms around him. They made sure the doors were securely locked before they both turned their attentions back to the mirror.

"Is something the matter Raoul?" Christine wondered. "You look flushed."

"Erik was being quite uncivil during the opera," he said in an injured tone.


Laughter rang out from behind the mirror.

"You must not be so sensitive Vicomte," Erik teased, bringing back the blush in full. "As I intend to debauch the both of you quite thoroughly and would hate to see you have an attack from the experience."

"I'm not that delicate," Raoul bristled. "And you're not that much more experienced in… in certain ways and I can beat you at fencing so… so watch your mouth!"

"Oh Raoul, dear, he means no harm." She kissed Raoul's cheek, still red with his fuming.

"Must I linger about this mirror all night?" The secret door swung silently open. "Or will you two join me voluntarily before I decide I must resort to kidnapping once more?"

"Patience Erik." Christine stepped into the darkness. "All good things to those who wait."

Raoul sighed and followed; he wasn't truly in quite so ill a humor. In fact, he had the terrible suspicion that, upon reflection, Erik's games in Box 5 would eventually prove amusing. He had, however, been raised in too reserved a family to be entirely at ease with the type of teasing Erik loved to resort to, the brazen descending into the erotic. He was more demur with Christine; but with Raoul, he had an undeniable penchant for whispering fantasies to make the vicomte blush.

"You look lovely tonight, my dear. Both of you," Erik added with a glance towards Raoul, "although I hope it will not offend you if I say that Christine is the more beautiful."

Finally smiling, Raoul drew even with them. "Not at all. I would agree."

"You are wearing a new cravat, I see." With a stealthy movement, Erik teased it out from under his chin. "Blue suits you very well."

"While I am gratified that you approve, could you not wait until we are at least at the boat?" Raoul remarked dryly, snatching at the fabric.

"Nothing happens on the boat!" Christine crossed her arms. "I did not enjoy the swim I took the last time."

"If our dear Vicomte was better at keeping his balance…"

"If you didn't insist on attempting positions that no normal human could possible contort into…"

"No boat!" She yelled above their sniping.

So in deference to the lady's wishes, Raoul and Christine sat placidly, while Erik slowly took them across the lake. Though he had been down with them many times before, Raoul was always surprised at how dark it was beneath the opera house, an inky depth that swallowed them all whole. He was still mystified at Erik's ability to see through the darkness, guide them safely to that small piece of paradise on the other side.

Stretched out in the boat with the waves lapping softly against the side, Erik looming over them and head in Christine's lap, Raoul suddenly felt a heaviness come over him. It was dark enough that closing his eyes made little different, and he could barely tell when he finally crossed the barrier into sleep.

"Me voici! D´où vient ta surprise?" A voice above him boomed and Raoul's eyes snapped open to see a hideous death's head looming above him. Candles surrounded him, burning higher than they ought and casting a hellish pallor over the scene.

Laughing as he shrieked, the frightening visage drew closer. "Te fais-je peur?" Erik's voice mocked him from beneath the mask.

Hearing Christine giggling behind him and Erik laughing as well, Raoul flushed. Then, sitting up, he suddenly realized the ridiculousness of the position he was in, a full grown man frightened by a mask. A smirk played on his lips and he pitched forward, yanking off the mask and pulling Erik into a kiss. His laughter silenced, Raoul briefly drew away.

"Fantôme, adorable et charmant!" Raoul teased. "Do you happen to have a Siébel costume I might wear for tonight's amusement?"

Erik's thin lips stretched into a broad and disconcerting smile. "I shall see what I can do."

A/N: I hope to make a longer, more in-depth OT3 story eventually. But for now, I noticed a shortage of this coupling on the site and felt the urge to write a few one shots to fill that void. Hope you enjoy.