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There Was a Boy

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After months of rehearsals, waiting for sets to be built and costumes to be made it was nearly time. We had finally arrived at the day before opening night. I stood back to appreciate everything that had happened and felt a satisfactory warmth spread over me.

David and Jake were standing by on the stage, waiting for some direction to begin. The cast was preparing to do a final run through of the ending with the new song I’d written in. It had been the last thing to be added, long after everyone had their scripts, so it required extra finesse to get it right. 

I looked over at Jocelyn to make sure she and the orchestra were ready. She nodded her approval so I could begin.

“Okay, everyone. We’re going to take it from the top of the scene. David, start with your lines and we’ll go from there.”

David and Jake positioned themselves on stage, facing each other with their hands clasped. 

“He knows. The King knows! We have to end this.”

Jake raised a hand to cup David’s cheek and gazed into his eyes. “No, my love. We shall conduct our love affair right under the King’s nose.” 

I silently counted him in, tapping my fingers to my hip, while I waited for the music to begin. I would never have guessed it but Jake had a compelling singing voice. Vocally he blended beautifully with David. Time after time they executed their duet flawlessly and it never failed to give me goosebumps.

Never knew I could feel like this

Like I’ve never seen the sky before

I want to vanish inside your kiss

Every day I love you more and more

From the time I was young, music had always done something to me. Whether it was the rhythmic beat of a drum, the silky tones of a violin or the mischievous keys of a piano I always felt like my soul was responding to the sound. When I heard the orchestra mixing with both of their voices - singing the song I’d written just for David - it felt euphoric. 

Listen to my heart

Can't you hear it sings

Telling me to give you everything

Seasons may change

Winter to spring

But I love you

Until the end of time

I was so lost in everything I hadn’t even noticed Ronnie strutting over to talk to The Duke. She was a dancer in most of the scenes so we frequently had to deal with each other. For some reason, from the moment I’d arrived, she had made it very clear I was not welcome. I was never sure what I’d done to earn her indignation but it seemed that existing was cause enough. 

Come what may

Come what may

I will love you

Until my dying day

My chest swelled with pride as I listened to the closing notes and watched the finale unfold. That quickly came to an end when The Duke spoke and it became ominously clear what Ronnie had been whispering to him. 

“I don’t like this ending!” His voice was shrill and annoyed.

“Excuse me?” Stevie chirped from her position on stage.

Why would the socialite choose the penniless guitar player over the King? The guitar player,” he looked directly at me, “is only interested in satisfying his lust and will leave once he’s done. The King can offer a lifetime of security. That’s real love.”

“Because he doesn’t love you!” The words left my mouth before I could stop them and I stuttered to correct myself. “T-the King. He doesn’t love the King.” 

A silence fell over the theater and all eyes stared between me and The Duke. 

“No. Wait!” Stevie interjected, seemingly oblivious to what had just happened. “That doesn’t uphold the Bohemian values of lo-” 

“I don’t care about your ridiculous ideas! The ending will be rewritten and rehearsed in time for the opening tomorrow night,” Sebastien bellowed, cutting Stevie off and daring anyone else to counter his argument.

Johnny was the only one bold enough to offer his opinion, “My dear Duke, I don’t know how we’ll manage such a huge change to the ending in such a short time!”

I could say nothing more, too stunned at the trainwreck unfolding in front of me. David’s face went through a series of expressions like he couldn’t decide how to proceed. When he did I felt my blood run cold. His eyes softened and his lips turned in a resolute smirk. It was an expression I hadn’t seen since the night we’d met and I knew it couldn’t mean anything good. 

David held his hand up to stop his father from saying more. “Father, don’t be ridiculous. Personally, I think The Duke is being terribly mistreated here.” He narrowed his gaze and sauntered towards Sebastien.

“Why don’t you and I have a little supper tonight? Then we can let everyone know how we would prefer the show to end.” 

“Yes, let’s. I would enjoy that very much, David.” Sebastien seemed to be eating it all up. He eyed David like a hawk circling its prey. I felt every muscle in my body tense with the knowledge that I was powerless to do anything. I wanted to do everything at once: run to David, run away, punch Sebastien and scream at Ronnie for ruining everything. But all I could do was stand, frozen in place, and watch everything I’d worked for slip away. 

Ronnie took the opportunity to walk by me and gave me a knowing look before leaving the stage. It was clear she knew what she had done and would have happily done it again.

When David got back to his dressing room he exhaled heavily and shook out his hands. His heart was still pounding from what had just happened out on the stage. 

Once he had realized what action he needed to take it required every bit of self control to not look at Patrick. Even David wasn’t naïve enough to think he could have survived that. David knew that one glance would have been sufficient to crumble his resolve. Patrick’s giant heart eyes could make David do anything. 

It didn’t surprise him when, moments later, Patrick was knocking softly on the door and letting himself in. The look on his face split David’s heart in two. 

“Are you going to sleep with him?”

“You know I have to.” David turned away from Patrick.  

Patrick came up behind him and circled his arms around David’s waist. “I know. I just hoped it wasn’t true.” 

David looked up, squeezing his eyes shut in a pathetic attempt to keep the tears at bay. When he was sure he could handle it (reasonably sure anyway) he unhooked himself from Patrick’s embrace and turned to face him. “I wish it wasn’t either. But this is for us. It doesn’t mean anything. I don’t want this to affect what we have.”

Patrick only nodded, clearly trying to absorb what had been said. David felt crushed and helpless and angry all at once. He wanted to soothe away whatever was going on in Patrick’s mind even if he knew this wasn’t the sort of thing that could just be easily remedied. He leaned in close, singing softly in his ear, “Storm clouds may gather, and stars may collide. But, I love you.

David pulled back, resting his forehead against Patrick’s and let himself get lost in the honey-brown pools looking up at him. If he hadn’t been looking straight at him he might not have heard the reply, “I love you.” 

They stayed like that until Patrick pulled away, regretfully. “I should let you get ready. For tonight. Should I send Twyla in?” 

“Yes, please.” David choked back a sob when Patrick gave his hand a quick squeeze and let go.

“Since you said please.” Patrick smiled at David in a way that didn't reach his eyes. 

David knew Patrick was trying to be brave for both of them and it nearly broke him. Having to sleep with Sebastien was ultimately for the good of everything: the show and Patrick. But he also knew he had been playing a dangerous game right from the beginning. He should have cut Patrick off from the moment his father told him what he had to do instead of deluding himself into believing that he could have something good. He was the only one to blame for this.

“I’ll see you soon.” David brushed a thumb across Patrick’s cheekbone.

“Okay, David.” Patrick gave him a sweet kiss that didn’t last nearly long enough before turning to leave the room. 

When he was sure he couldn’t hear Patrick’s footsteps anymore David fell apart. Through tear-streaked eyes he looked around the dressing room they had shared so many moments in, but now this was the one he would remember. 

“David?” He was so lost in his thoughts he hadn’t even heard Twyla come in. 

“Oh, hi, Twyla.” He stood, wiping the tears from his face. “I’m sorry I’m a bit of a mess right now. Think you can clean me up for tonight?” 

Twyla gave him a sympathetic smile. “Of course, David. Have a seat.”

He sat down in front of the vanity and tried to avoid looking directly at his reflection. He knew Twyla would take care of him and he didn’t need the sight of his current inability to control his emotions messing with him any more than it already was. 

Twyla worked in silence for the longest time before she spoke, “You really love him, don’t you?”

“W-what do you mean?” David knew he and Patrick hadn’t always been the most careful but for some reason he thought he could get away with playing dumb to Twyla.

She gave him a skeptical look to let him know she wasn’t buying it. “David.”

He sighed, conceding the idea of trying to hide their relationship. “Mmhmm, yes. I do. More than anything.”

Twyla leaned forward and hugged him from behind, looking up to meet his eyes in the mirror. “It’ll be ok. I know it will.”

“Thanks, Twy.” He inhaled to center himself. He couldn’t undo all her handiwork with another outburst. “Now, can we get back to this before I start crying again and ruin what you’ve done here?” 

She laughed gently and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek. “Of course. By the time I’m done there’s no way that Duke will be able to resist you.”

He gave her a weak smile. He wished he could ignore the voice in his head that reminded him he was out of options. Through the years David had artfully charmed his way into (and out of) countless situations. His family’s money and status had always ensured there were alternatives. It had been a successful strategy because David Rose didn’t fall in love or have a ‘Patrick’ to account for. Now the world he was familiar with, and the world he’d worked so hard to stay out of, had collided and left him empty-handed.

After I shut David’s dressing room door I intended to find Twyla straight away but I felt stuck there, out in the hallway. 

David and I were like two magnetic forces that were consistently drawn to one another. Leaving him in his current state felt impossible. I tried some deep breaths to center myself, hoping it would help. But, I could hear David crying, the echoes of sadness tearing at my heart. I felt like I’d been punched in the gut and doubled over, willing myself not to wretch right there.

“Patrick?! Are you okay?” Twyla’s normally calm voice was frantic with worry. How could I tell her what was going on when everything about David and I was supposed to be a secret? No matter what I thought to say, nothing seemed right.

“Hey,” she put a reassuring hand on the small of my back, helping me to the floor before sitting down herself. “Is this about David?”

I held a hand to my mouth to muffle the involuntary whimper that came out and simply nodded back at her. There was no hiding it now and I was grateful when Twyla reached over to hold my hand. 

“I know it can be hard, but if this had to happen with anyone I’m glad it was you. In case you hadn’t noticed, David’s not really the sort of person to let people in.” 

I breathed out a small laugh. “Thanks, Twyla.”

“He’s been hurt a lot in the past and I can’t think of anyone from before that would have helped him the way you have.” Her voice got quiet, like she was feeling the past hurts on his behalf. “People have walked away from him for a lot less.”

I had suspected many times that this had been the case. Hearing it out loud, from someone who knew David so well, crushed me. All the anger and hurt I had at the situation with The Duke was dwarfed by the need to stay strong for David. For us. The last thing I wanted to be was another name in the presumably long list of people who’d hurt him.

I squeezed Twyla’s hand, “Thank you for trusting me with that. It means a lot.”

“Of course!” her tone returned to its naturally bubbly state like we’d been discussing the weather.

“I did tell him I would come find you so you could help him get ready for tonight. I probably should let you go before he starts wondering.” 

I stood up and held a hand out to help her. When she stood she surprised me by throwing her arms around me in a giant hug. “It’s going to be okay, Patrick. You’re going to get through this.”

I let myself be absorbed in the warmth of her loving nature. “Thanks again, Twyla. I’ll see you.”

She loosened her hold and gave me a sweet smile before making her way to David’s dressing room. 

There was little else I could do except go back to my room. My stomach was a bundle of nerves and I knew that trying to eat would be futile. I walked slowly through the corridors of the theater, taking notice of the sights and smells. The scents of lumber, paint, perfumes and new upholstery infiltrated my nose. I ran my hand along the soft, velvety texture of the newly installed stage curtain. It felt simultaneously foreign and like coming home.

The halls eventually gave way to doors leading outside. It was nearly nightfall and a meager crowd of people were walking about. I felt bathed in sadness while I assumed they were wrapping up their nights to go home to loved ones. In truth I had no idea what these people were doing but everything I observed came through the lens of the life I desired with David. 

If I had made the most meticulous plans I don’t think I could have ever found a better place to land than here at the Moulin Rouge. When Jocelyn and Stevie had first told me their show was for the infamous theater I had been absolutely terrified. I was frightened to take the first steps because I didn’t consider myself anything special. I had thought maybe I would write some plays or novellas, something I could make a modest living at. 

Sometimes I still couldn’t piece together what made me listen to the Bohemian’s words of assurance. All I knew was I went along with it and now, here I was, petrified of losing it all; of losing David. If I was honest with myself that’s really what it was all about: fear of losing the man that I was so in love with it scared me. 

As I climbed the stairs to my room I did my best to shake off any anxiety about the night ahead. I walked into my small space and flopped on the bed, closing my eyes. If I thought hard enough I swore I could feel the warm sunshine and smell the wildflowers that surrounded the cottage we would have. One day, Patrick. One day soon.