A/N: I've been mulling the idea for this piece for a long time. It probably stems from a fascination with the final lair scene and a favorite pairing of mine, Erik/Raoul. And I was bored of third & first person point of view. Musical based (with a hint of movie), my personal version of the perfect final lair.

I'm going to say this once. There will be slash. S-L-A-S-H. No complaints.

The hand on your shoulder should bother you.

But it doesn't.

Considering the other hand is yanking a noose none-to-gently around your neck, the hand on your shoulder should really bother you.

But it doesn't.

You don't know if it's possible to see from her point of view, or any point of view for that matter, but the hand is squeezing your shoulder gently, apologetically.

You doubt anyone but you can tell. He is too careful for that. The placement of his hand probably simply looks like the leverage he needs to tighten the lasso around your neck.

The realization hits you that all of these considerations have flashed before you in a mere few seconds, and then the hand is gone, and you miss it, but you're so used to his brief, fleeting presence that it's not difficult to ignore.

You know you should be focusing more on the life-or-death situation that you have been forced into. You should be more worried about your survival, and the survival of the young, innocent girl brought so unfairly into this situation, but you can't bring yourself to focus on anything besides how upset the masked murderer is. You long to comfort, to hold him...

Fighting the urge to laugh hysterically, you know you are probably equally as insane as he is. Even if you were completely able-bodied and free from your chains to do as you wished, you know he wouldn't accept your affection. It would be sooner met with a stinging blow.

She is crying, and he is screaming, and to your surprise your voice is mingled with theirs, automatically begging and pleading with him for her safety and freedom. You're not sure if he hears either you or her, if his mind is even in this present moment or this world.

A sudden silence takes over the lair, and your breath catches in your throat. You jerk involuntarily against your bonds and nearly groan at the bruises you feel.

You never minded the bruises before, as long as he gave them to you. It was one of his only consistent gifts. You cherished them, because they connected you to him, they proved that your relationship, no matter how twisted, how abstract, existed.

But now, the bruises bother you, because you know that he gave them to you for her, not for you. He is giving to her, and you want him to give to you, and you alone, even if the present is pain.

You want to scream and cry like a child, but your weak sense of dignity and your desire to be the knight in shining armor keeps such immature sounds inside. You are tempted to such prominent displays of your emotions because you are scared; scared for yourself, for her, and especially for him.

In this instant, you know that you would admit your fear to anyone; you know that it is through no fault of yours that this emotion is spreading through you - even a vicomte is allowed moments of insecurity and fear.

And then you notice that she has slowly been approaching him, and now she is kissing him, and you want to scream and pull them apart. Not because she is involved, but because the lips on his are not yours.

The kisses you have shared with either of them have been few and sparse, but you know that you enjoyed the ones with him immensely more. Just as you are about to break your silence to distract them, they break apart, and the breath that you were going to use to speak comes out as a breath of relief.

And then, much to your shock, they are kissing again, but this kiss is different. It's not sloppy and desperate, it's beautiful and passion-filled, and you are literally speechless simply watching from the sidelines.

He is equally speechless as he staggers away from her, and in the brief moment he is facing you, you can tell that there is no acting on his part. He is genuinely awestruck at the moment she has shared with him.

He stumbles towards you, and you attempt an automatic retreat into the grate. His hands reach up towards you, and while they don't seem to be plotting violence, you hear her strangled cry of anguish, and you know it is all over.

And then his hand is on your shoulder again, and your hope suddenly returns in a flood of emotion. His hands are pulling the noose and chains away, and even as you fall to the ground gasping at his feet, you know what the outcome of this mess will be.

You will marry the distraught, misfortunate opera star - not because you love her, but because you are the good, kind gentleman who rushes in to save the day.

You can see the newspaper headlines already, but they don't matter to you. Your life with her will likely be perfect and ideal, but that doesn't matter to you. You care about what will happen to him, without you, after you've inevitably left him.

He is talking to you, yelling at you, telling you to take her and leave immediately, and you manage to only hesitate for a moment before she grabs your arm and you pull her to the boat.

You both pause at the sound of sobs, and suddenly she pulls away from you and runs toward him, and you don't make any attempt to stop her. You know she'll come back to you, and moments later she does, and then you are rowing across the lake.

When a soft goodbye tumbles from your lips, and she glances up at you to inquire as to what you meant, you pretend that you don't hear her. Not to spite her, or because you are overwhelmed, but because this moment isn't for her.

It's for him.

For Erik.