Title: Missing You
Author: Lucifer Rosemaunt
Fandom: Phantom of the Opera
Summary: Drabbles. A timeline on the balance between our work and our life – and how some people cannot do both at one time.
Warning(s): established relationship, some violence
Word Count: 100 x 16
A/N: Sorry this took longer than I expected. It's because Erik's a stubborn sob.
Story note: Two-shot because it definitely needed to be one. Although, considering the title, I don't think it should have a resolution but we'll see by the end of this chapter if Erik gives us one.
A building itch skitters beneath his skin, a nervous energy that disrupts his very function as the opera ghost. It's accompanied by chords and arpeggios that consume his thoughts, and even though he's decided to never attempt another opera after the one Christine inspired within him, he finds one already being composed in his mind because of Raoul. A smile, a laugh, a touch, each drives Erik closer to madness because the corresponding melodies are perfection, but they become altered with every interaction with Raoul. Erik needs to send him away because genius as he is, he cannot keep up.
Raoul's absence is just as troublesome as his presence. Erik must ignore the deafening silence without his chatter, the cold that seeps deep into his bones without his touch, and the grim prospect of the day without his smile. The music changes still with each void, and Erik rages against such mutability in anything, much less the music that compels him to the organ every moment of the day. He is tempted to recant the separation but instead forces himself to sit before the organ. The music is there at his fingertips and he can almost forget the lingering emptiness.
Erik doesn't sleep because he knows he'll dream of Raoul and the sound that he finds himself chasing will change course. The sheets in front of him are scribbled with notes scratched out and rewritten, strains and melodies starting and stopping. Despite his fatigue, the very soul of the music has yet to settle, as though it is unsure of its destination. It is Raoul's voice that says he should sleep. He answers the empty home before he can stop himself. The increasingly familiar ache within him grows; he decides it's simply the music that wants to be set free.
Music is his sustenance, but Erik feels lightheaded, not having eaten or slept since he began composing. He had once spent near a week only composing without feeling the slightest effect and blames Raoul for his current weakness. Sitting by the organ, the blond's eyes are closed, looking completely rested and at ease and Erik wants to be angry with him. Reaching down to feel the curve of his jaw, he catches air instead and Erik is alone again. He forces food and water down his throat before settling before the organ. The ache has returned and he must play.
A hand gently strokes his head. Fingers brush across his forehead and down to his deformity. Lips press to his temple and warm breath caresses his skin. Erik relaxes; he hears a breathy laugh but those hands do not stop touching. It's only when Raoul doesn't speak – his viscount is rarely ever quiet – that Erik realizes he's dreaming. He wastes the day away lying in the bed they share, chasing that touch. When he does get up, he is halfway out of his home, boat secured across the lake before he stops and returns. The music tries harder to escape.
Slowly, slower than it used to take, Erik sinks into a rhythm that does not upset his state of mind. Beyond the keys and pedals before him, a plot plays itself out, meagerly working its way through Erik's head and forming itself around the tonality of the chords and keys his fingers find. Two men and one woman, but the story is less of the love triangle that it appears to be on the surface. It's less of a triangle and more of a confession, of desperate, unacceptable love. Opera is an embodiment of passion, and the story is perfect.
His rhythm is broken and Erik refuses to wait for Christine. Their reduced lessons have already threatened to become more of an annoyance than an assistance to him. Soon, her lessons will become more sporadic, but there's an aria he knows to be hers, necessitating these lessons for it to sound as he hears it within his head. She is not who concerns him though. This break in schedule allows his thoughts to stray to Raoul. The ache of their music had finally settled to a dull throb. He's forced to rush to the organ before it can worsen again.
Christine returns. Erik's already forgotten about her truancy, but faced with her cowering in fear and apology, he realizes he's been remiss in his duties as opera ghost. He does the bare necessities, makes several appearances on the catwalk and delivers his notes. He trusts all has been fine in Raoul's care… Raoul, that single word waylays his thoughts. He's tempted to write to him, but the words would never be enough, not when he could see him, touch him. Instead, Erik locks himself within the innermost of his home, imprisoning himself as the music desperately claws through his chest.
A distant sound not produced by the organ causes him to pause, but the noise is negligible now that he knows to ignore it. He turns his attention to one of the male leads and the leitmotif that has caused him to stumble. It is unexpected but confirms Erik's suspicions that the music, this music was not meant to be created in darkness, hidden away. This character is sunshine, light, and hope. He is freedom and air, and Erik suffers, knowing why it is so. Yet, he can only proceed where the music obliges; the creation is in the suffering.
Erik returns to his home in even worse spirits than when he'd left. He can think only of his failure, his sheer incompetence at properly conveying and composing the deeper truths of this opera. Christine had praised the romance between the man and the woman and Erik had nigh broken the mirror to correct her error. Unseeingly, he returns to his organ, letting the sheets he'd brought for her lesson fall to the floor. With a shout and a sweep of his arms, the pages scatter. It's all wrong and the ache swells in agreement as he, too, falls down.
Day One Hundred-Ten
He has not successfully composed anything in days, even after restarting and marginally succeeding in reorganizing the sheet music. Little of the melodies have changed, unlike many actions and several recitatives. He finds, however, that though the ache remains, the clarity of the music has not. A persistent knocking of wood against the lakeshore rouses him from his daze. Stumbling out to investigate, Erik finds his oar bumping against the rocks. Dragging it ashore, he glances at the portcullis to confirm it is down and no one waits on the other side. He does not understand the disappointment that follows.
Day One Hundred-Eleven
The opera is not done. It will never be done. It will remain yet another unfinished, worthless pile of papers: the first, the one inspired by Christine and the second, the second is still some grand dream. Or a nightmare. The music burns beneath the cage of his ribs, eats away at his stomach, but it refuses to come out. He has tried and tried but the music is illusive, much like submerging himself under water, all muted sounds, shifting lights, and blurred, waving impressions. It is there but unrecognizable and Erik knows he's going to allow himself to fail.
Day One Hundred-Twelve
Finally leaving his home, Erik feels unsettled. It's in the small things: a misplaced candle, the missing boat, the lack of missives sent via Madame Giry. More importantly, Raoul is not where he should be. He is inside the opera house, but he is not acknowledging him, preferring instead to speak with the managers though he calls. When Erik finally does grab him, it is a relief to touch him and the ache lessens. When Raoul pulls away, he is less unsettled and more wary – with good reason, for Raoul says, "I want to make our separation permanent," before leaving.
Day One Hundred-Thirteen
Raoul is not in the opera house, not in his home, and no one seems concerned about the unscheduled absence. It takes an entire day of frantic, dogged searching and threatening lives before Erik realizes he does not know where to look for the viscount. The only thing he can do now is wait; so he climbs Raoul's balcony, breaks into his bedroom, and settles himself behind the door. His anger has given way to outrage then to worry, and he begins to wonder if the ache that has settled as a stone within him is not, in fact, music.
Day One Hundred-Seventeen
He's travelled between the opera house and Raoul's home as many times as he's fluctuated between blinding anger and numbing worry. He's terrorized the occupants of both locations but still only has the vaguest idea of what he'll do when he finds Raoul. He will find him; there's no other outcome. So, when Raoul comes home in the evening and says, "It's you." Erik has his hands around his neck, their foreheads pressed together and both their eyes watering – though for different reasons – before a verbal response forms. Raoul is unconscious the whole night; Erik falls asleep curled around him.
Day One Hundred-Eighteen
Erik feels Raoul breathing, and the ache pulses in time with each inhale and exhale, fading ever so slowly. Raoul is the cause of his suffering, not the music he inspires, not the opera, not even the consequent failure – for his entire life's a series of failures. It is his Raoul who causes this ailment. Erik knows now, however, that he's also the cure. Just being this close, having Raoul tucked tightly against him makes something within him soar so intensely it could very well be an opera, but he needs Raoul with him to make any of it worthwhile.
A/N: Don't forget to R/R (Read and Review)!
Fic Review: Erik is obviously much less versed in missing people. Also, damnit, Erik for messing things up so badly. It's kind of resolved but not really. Thematically, I believe it to be resolved – Erik's not going to let Raoul out of his sight for a long while. They won't have the opportunity to miss each other. Relationship-wise, not so much – although, I will say that I believe Raoul to be amenable to making up with Erik… even considering the whole choking event. Honestly, I think it's a perfect metaphor for how Erik deals with feelings he doesn't understand. At least Raoul doesn't die. (I like how that should be a consolation. XD)
Make up what you will about how they get back together. Maybe Raoul's reluctant but then gives in because he's still hung up on him but threatens that if they ever take another 'separation' it will reallybe permanent.