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There Was a Boy

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No matter what I did, I couldn’t stay in my tiny room. Knowing that David had gone to the Tower with The Duke had my nerves twisted into knots. I paced until I had to get out before the anxiety overtook me. I walked into the night air and it helped for a little - I felt like I could breathe for the first time in hours. Yet, before I knew it I was standing in front of the Moulin Rouge. I suppose it was inevitable. From the moment I’d set foot in Paris it seemed my destiny to wind up there. 

When I found myself at the stage I was not the least bit surprised to find everyone else there as well: Jake, Ronnie, Ted, Stevie, Jocelyn and Twyla. Alexis had gone with David to stand by in case she was needed. I imagined we were all there for very much the same reasons. David had gone to the Tower to save us all. To save the show that our livelihoods hung on; precariously perched on the edge of freedom or submission. 

I took a seat behind the stage curtains, trying to stay hidden so I could maintain my distance from Ronnie. Just the sight of her made my fists clench and my lip curl in disgust. If she had kept her mouth shut we would all be living our lives without wondering what would happen next. I would still have David in my arms instead of wondering what he was doing with the person I despised most in this world. Well, most after Ronnie at this point. 

Naturally she noticed me first, strutting over and sitting in my lap like what she’d done was no big deal. “Don’t worry Shakespeare. You’ll get your endin’. Once The Duke gets his. End. In.”

The anger that instantaneously bubbled up in me was unprecedented for my typically calm demeanor. I stood up quickly to shove her away and sent her sprawling on the floor. 

She quickly recovered, hissing a response at me, “You keep your hands off me! I’m only here for David anyway.”

Jake strode over to comfort her, putting his hands on her shoulder. He addressed the group but kept his eyes on me. “In my family’s home country there is a dance. It tells the story of a prostitute and a man who falls in love. First, there is desire. Then passion, suspicion ... jealousy, anger, betrayal. Love goes to the highest bidder and there can be no trust. Without trust there is no love. And jealousy - yes, jealousy - will drive you mad!” 

I knew he was right. His anecdote had hit more of a nerve than I cared to admit. I crossed the stage, throwing one more sneer at Ronnie before heading back into the night. Jake’s voice called behind me, “Never fall in love with anyone who sells themselves. It always ends badly!” 

As I walked into the darkness outside I was hit with an onslaught of unbidden images for what might be happening in the Tower: Sebastien leering at David, his hands on David’s body, his lips and mouth on David. It was unbearable. All I could do was remind myself that David and I loved each other. I needed that to be enough.


Inside the Tower David was fielding his own emotions. He just had to get through this dinner and convince Sebastien to go their direction for the show. He knew if he turned on his charm, and put all his walls up, he could make it through anything that happened, as long as he didn’t think of Patrick. Of the man who had tiptoed into his life and turned everything upside down before David could do anything to stop it. 

“Do I have anything to worry about? With this writer?” Sebastien questioned. 

“Of course not. He’s got a little infatuation with me. I’m just indulging him until he gets the show written.” It was not lost on David in that moment how that situation was his exact fear when Patrick had first arrived. 

“Mmhmm, I see.” Sebastien took David’s hand, pressing a kiss to each knuckle then his wrist. He left a trail of kisses up David’s arm before their lips met. David had been with many partners he wanted nothing to do with. He was well versed in just how much reaction to give to make Sebastien believe his interest without being over the top. 

As Sebastien’s hand wound through David’s hair it was easy to imagine Patrick’s in its place. Above all others the feel of Patrick seemed to be etched onto his soul. When Sebastien pulled back, breathless from their kiss, David knew he had him. He had seen that look enough times that he felt it was a natural progression now. 

David took advantage of the pause to walk to the open window of the nearby balcony and look over the property below. Sebastien came up behind him, body pressed tightly to David’s.

“When the Moulin Rouge is turned into a theater you will be a star. A real actor in a real show. You will no longer be just a performer.” Sebastien ghosted his lips over the spot just below David’s left ear, along the curve of his neck and reached a hand possessively across his chest. 

“And what about the ending?” David did his best to keep his voice at a steady pitch. 

Sebastien’s voice was low and David could feel every syllable against his ear, “Let the Bohemians keep their fairytale ending.” 

David’s breath hitched in disbelief that it could be so simple. His gaze flicked outside and he spotted a figure walking toward the Tower. Based on the height and build he assumed he knew who it was. The confirmation came when the searching soulful eyes looked up and met his. That was all it took to shatter any fantasy David had of being able to go through with whatever Sebastien had planned. He felt instantly broken open and wanted to run to the infinite safety of Patrick.

You come to me wild and wired … ” David murmured quietly to himself. The words from Patrick’s song, the personal reminder that they were in this together, made everything click into place.

“No,” David whispered, straightening his stance and squaring his shoulders. “No. ” 

“No?” Sebastien followed David’s gaze and his lips curled in disgust. “Oh, I see. It’s our very own penniless guitar player.” 

David ducked out from Sebastien’s grip, walking quickly toward the opposite end of the room.




 

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The sound of the balcony window slamming shut reverberated across the high ceilings. Sebastien spun back around, quickly turning his attention back to David.

“Sebastien-” David backed away from Sebastien advancing toward him. Sebastien glowered at him and David could see he had no plan of letting this end quietly. 

“Enough! You made me believe that you loved me. You tricked me.”

Sebastien lunged at David, narrowly missing him. Caught against the table David rolled out of the way, sending dishes and food clattering to the floor. What was supposed to be a simple, transactional dinner was turning into much more than he’d anticipated. 

David looked over his shoulder to plan his next move and the mere second it took cost him any advantage he’d gained. Sebastien had caught up to him, gripping the lapels of David’s jacket. David pushed back, struggling against Sebastien’s grip but the hold was too strong. 

Sebastien threw him to the bed. David tried to roll away but found himself pinned in place. He clenched his hands into fists, gripping onto the blankets beneath him. Sweat beaded on his forehead and David squeezed his eyes shut.

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It was the smash of glass that pulled David back. His eyelids flew open to Sebastien collapsing on top of him and Alexis standing over them, a proud look on her face. For all the times he had gone racing to save Alexis he had never actually expected it would be reciprocated. 

“Come on, David! Let’s get out of here before he wakes up. If I learned anything from that time I had to escape that dinner party gone wrong in Italy, it's that every unconscious person eventually wakes up.”

“Well help get him off me, then!” 

“Oh! Yes! Here, let’s just-” Alexis grimaced and gingerly helped push Sebastien to the side. “Okay, let’s go!”

David took her hand and they ran towards the door, past Mutt who had also apparently been a victim of her rather impressive skills.


I met them at the bottom of the Tower stairs where I’d been waiting. David emerged in a flurry of adrenaline. He held onto me, gripping me hard and peppering kisses all over my face. I could taste the salt of his tears on my lips when I tried to kiss him back. 

“I couldn’t do it,” he cried. “I couldn’t sleep with him. I saw you outside the window and I just couldn’t do it.”

“It’s okay, David. Shhh, now.” I rubbed circles on his back in a feeble attempt to soothe him. 

“Patrick, I couldn’t do it. And Alexis knocked him out with something and it’s only a matter of time before he wakes up. What are we going to do?!”

There was only one thing I could think to do. David was the most important thing to me. More than the show. More than the Moulin Rouge. More than anything. 

“Run away with me.”

“What?!”

“Run away. Go to your flat with Alexis, get your things and meet me tonight. We’ll run away. We can go anywhere you want. We’ll build that cottage we talked about and we’ll have a farm and we’ll be away from all this. Away from him.”

David looked momentarily paralyzed and I was afraid he was ready to run. But then he nodded his head. “Ok.” 

We were going to do this. We were going to get away from all this madness and start over. 

I turned to his sister who had been patiently taking in all of this. “Alexis, take David to his flat. Help him pack his things. We’re going to get out of here. You and Ted and Stevie can come, too. I don’t care. I just need David away from here. Meet me in my room when you’re done. We leave tonight.” 

I kissed David, bracketing his face with my hands. I needed him to feel all the love I had for him. “I’ll see you later?”

“Yes. I’ll be there.” 

Even though I could read the certainty in his body language I couldn’t shake the aching sense of dread that filled me while I watched him walk away with Alexis. I ultimately had to shove it down for later examination and hurried back to my room. 

When I arrived at the building I took the steps two at a time. I didn’t have many things but I needed to know that I would be ready to go the moment David was. I had no idea what state he and Alexis had left The Duke in and I didn’t want to stick around to find out. 

I made quick work of gathering the pages of the script, binding them together with a stray ribbon. After that it was a swift process of shutting my typewriter in its case and stuffing the few remaining things I owned back into my suitcase. I got out the bills needed to cover my remaining rent and laid them out on the desk with a note. 

There was nothing left to do now but wait.


“Oh my god, David this is such a cute thing for you. Your little button-faced writer, just whisking you away!”

“Get trampled by a horse, Alexis! He is not whisking me away! This isn’t some tour of the world for fun. He’s literally helping me escape from danger! You of all people should recognize that.”

Alexis became more subdued, playing with the ends of her hair. “I know, David. You’re going to be okay, right?”

The genuine sincerity of her question, on top of all the other events of the night, threatened to derail him. David wrapped her in a hug anyway, “Yes. Thank you. I’ll be okay.” 

They stayed that way until Johnny entered the room.

“Going somewhere, David?” 

David stiffened, prepared to defend his actions. “Yes, as a matter of fact. I’m leaving. With Patrick. We’re going to get away from here. Away from Sebastien. Away from the Moulin Rouge.”

Johnny’s expression was surprisingly calm in the face of David’s admission. “Son, you can’t do that. You don’t want to be rash.”

“What does that matter to you?! Patrick loves me. He loves me. For who I am. My entire life you’ve let me believe that I was only worth what I could do for you. But this is different.” David fought the tears threatening to spill out. 

“Be that as it may, I was called to the Tower after that little stunt you two pulled. The Duke’s going to have Patrick killed if you don’t go to him after the show tomorrow night. ” 

David’s eyes went wide in disbelief and he heard Alexis cry out on his behalf.

“He’s a powerful man, David. You know he can do it. He’ll stop at nothing until he finds you both. Is that really the kind of life you want? Not just for you but for Patrick. If you love him you need to send him away. Use your talent to save him.” 

Johnny’s eyes glistened in the dim light of the room and it became clear this wasn’t an act or some put-on to keep things neat and orderly. 

“No, he’ll fight for me! I know he will.” David protested.

“Yes, he will,” Johnny agreed. “I know that. Unless he believes you don’t love him. Son, I wish there was another way.” 

When his father left the room David collapsed to the floor. All the emotions he had been holding in swept over him in a suffocating wave. He vaguely felt Alexis’ arms wrap around him and help him to bed. It was the last thing he remembered before he slipped into an uneasy sleep.