Chapter 1: This is the hour
"This is the hour
I swore I'd see
I alone can tell now
what the end will be
they think they'll decide your life
No. It will be me .."
Her voice is powerful and determined. There is not a dry eye in the house.
As the scene progresses, he watches her intently, eyes lingering on her face with a desire that he doesn't even try to hide any more.
The sound of a shot is heard and the audience gasps as her body falls to the ground. He rushes forward, falls to his knees and seizes her with desperation. Distraught, he pulls her against him, crying out her name. He can smell her soft perfume as he holds her body tight, a body with which he is now intimately familiar.
"Kim ... why?" he always asks her, voice choked with anguish.
Her skin is warm and smooth to the touch. He buries his face in her neck. If he turned his head just slightly he could place a kiss to the tiny mole on her throat, tasting the saltiness of her skin.
"How .. in the light ... of one night .... did we come ... so far?" she always whispers before slumping against him limply, her black silken hair falling across her pale face.
She dies in his arms every night. Sometimes she also dies in the afternoon when they do the matinee performance. No one dies like her.
Neither of them knows the point at which the acting became real but he always knows the moment at which she'll stir again, open her dark eyes from death and give him the smile that she reserves for him alone. He's always conscious of a ridiculous feeling of relief.
Her small hand reaches up to touch his cheek lightly and there's quiet promise in her dark eyes.
He lowers his mouth to hers and kisses her hungrily. Her mouth curves against his in a slow smile.
"Welcome back," he whispers.
Chapter 2: Dressing Room
I didn't mean to continue this story but I've been watching listening to Miss Saigon tonight and watching videos ... I can't give Chris/Kim a happy ending, but I can cheat a little and write about the actors ... :)
She's scrubbing the thick make-up from her face when there's a firm knock on the door of her dressing room.
"Come in," she calls out, knowing who it is without turning around. He's standing behind her, freshly showered and in casual clothes. She can smell his soap. It's the same soap she uses and as he lowers his head to press a kiss to her throat, she tilts her head back to give him better access.
Her eyes close and she smiles slowly as his mouth comes to cover hers, his mouth hungry and urgent. His hand slides down beneath her silk robe, cupping the curve of her breast. Her body responds immediately and it takes all of her willpower not to reach up and pull him closer.
"Yes?" he asks her, his voice thick with desire and she smiles.
"No," she tells him, shaking her head. "You're already faster than me at getting cleaned up." He gives a low laugh and kisses her again before straightening.
"I'll be at the stage door," he tells her.
"You just like being surrounded by adoring fans," she teases him. After he leaves, she can still taste him on her lips and she touches her fingertips to her mouth.
He was her first stage kiss. There have been many others – understudies, other actors who have played Chris … He's the only one who makes her body tighten … who makes her ache and long for his touch.
Staring into the mirror, her eyes are wide and dark … vulnerable. Tonight's performance had more noisy sobbers than usual – people sniffling audibly, crying unabashedly at her death and while she'd like to take the credit she knows that a huge part of the response is attributable to his acting … to the anguish in his voice when he watches her body fall to the ground.
She's watched him when other actresses are playing the part of Kim. His performance is always perfect … polished and entirely convincing. Nonetheless, he saves his best acting for when it's just him and her on the darkened stage …
Pulling her dark hair into a ponytail she dresses quickly, pulling on a t-shirt and hoodie, slipping into jeans and sandshoes before slinging her backpack over one shoulder.
When she arrives at the stagedoor, he's there signing autographs and having his photo taken with fans.
"Kim!" they call out in genuine delight.
"Would you really choose Ellen or would you choose Kim?" They always ask that question – the press always ask during the interviews. The fans always want to know and a rueful Sylvia who plays Ellen claims that sometimes she gets heckled when she leaves the theatre.
"No comment," he replies even as he reaches out and takes her hand in his, his smile warm and intimate. The smart phones click around them and as he stares into her smiling eyes, there's absolutely no doubt in his mind about whether he chooses Ellen or Kim…
Chapter 3: Audition
The door opens and she walks in. He knows she's nineteen but she's tiny and with her pony tail, unpainted face, jeans and faded t-shirt she looks about sixteen.
It's been a long journey. He first meets her when she auditions for Kim. Out of the many hopefuls, she seems the least likely on paper. A college student, she's only ever been in the chorus in amateur productions, but Cameron insists that this girl is a real contender.
"You've got to hear her - she's untrained but the quality of her voice …incroyable" Claude-Michel tells him reminiscently.
"But no training?" he asks incredulously. "You know how fucking demanding this role is…"
"Raw talent can be shaped. Come – come and listen to her."
Cameron's given him veto rights over his leading lady so he feels obliged to show up to the audition even though to be honest, he feels like he can't sit through yet another version of "On My Own" or "Let it Go."
Walking into the audition, his steel-capped lace-up boots are noisy on the hard, wooden floor of the room. The grand piano is in the middle of the room and Claude-Michel's already sitting there, waiting impatiently. The door opens and she walks in. He knows she's nineteen but she's tiny and with her pony tail, unpainted face, jeans and faded t-shirt she looks about sixteen.
"Over here," Alain says, smiling broadly as he ushers her over to stand beside the piano.
He waits for her to choose something from Les Misérables … Wicked or a Disney classic. His eyebrows shoot up in his head when she picks a Natalie Merchant song to sing, singing it a cappella in the first instance until Claude-Michele picks up the melody and starts to accompany her.
Ophelia was a rebel girl
a blue stocking suffragette
who remedied society
between her cigarettes
She sings with great feeling, soft and emotional but with a strength to it, permitting it to break just enough to catch at the heart. As the song builds to its crescendo, despite her lack of training, her voice is powerful and compelling and he can understand why the Frenchmen are so taken with her – why Cameron's even considering putting a nobody ahead of a number of other strong contenders.
They play Sun and Moon for her, Claude-Michel singing it for her in his wavering voice as she listens intently. "Do you think you can sing that?" he asks.
She smiles and nods shyly. "I think so." Her voice is incredibly pure … haunting and she can hit the high notes as effortlessly as she hits the low notes. At that point, Alain waves him over. "Come to the piano."
He unfolds himself from the chair and walks towards the piano with careless ease. "Kim, meet Chris," Alain says playfully.
Her large dark eyes study him curiously and she shakes his hand politely, her gaze moving over his army boots, faded jeans, taking in his closely cropped hair and his unshaven face.
He nods at her politely but unsmilingly, still unable to overcome his concern about putting an untrained novice into such a ridiculously demanding role.
Nonetheless, her voice is beautiful and he finds himself admiring the sweet, lovely tone as she sings. There's a catch in the sweetness of her voice – expressive and haunting.
You are sunlight and I moon
joined by the gods of fortune
midnight and high noon
sharing the sky
we have been blessed, you and I …
His blue eyes darkening and very serious, he sings his part of the duet.
You are here like a mystery
I'm from a world that's so different
from all that you are
how in the light of one night
did we come so far?
The song continues, her voice gaining confidence and by the end their voices are blending perfectly … They stare into one another's eyes, captivated by the unexpected beauty they have created.
Chapter 4: Short Listed
It's down to her and Tala. The other girl is more conventionally pretty – tall, leggy with the glamour of a model.
"Hey," he greets her casually as they meet each other at the bottom of the stairs of the theatre.
"Hi," she acknowledges. "I didn't know you'd be here today …"
It's down to her and Tala. The other girl is more conventionally pretty – tall, leggy with the glamour of a model. Even now, she's dressed immaculately, not a hair out of place and her make-up perfect.
In contrast, the girl beside him is dressed in jeans, a faded t-shirt, scuffed sandshoes and doesn't have any make-up on her face. She hasn't bothered dressing to impress. She doesn't have to – she has the better voice of the two and has a presence about her that he thinks is far more suited for the role, but it's not his choice to make.
"Don't be nervous," he tells her and she looks at him incredulously.
"How can I not?" she wants to know.
"You're good – great … " The singing lessons have only enhanced what was already a beautiful voice and the only reason they would pick Tala is for the fact that she'll be great for the press coverage.
She realises that he's come to see her – to support her and she's not sure how she feels about that fact. They've not sung together since her original audition even though she has encountered him before and after music lessons. He doesn't know that she has gone and listened to all of his past recordings, admired his voice and his acting abilities. His striking good looks aren't lost on her, either – it's intimidating to think that if she wins this role, she's going to have to pretend to be in love with him.
They tell her to sing "Too Much for One Heart" for the audition. Though cut from the show and turned into the duet 'Please', the song is a beautiful solo and she stands in the middle of the huge stage on her own, staring out in the darkness, aware that there are thousands of seats out there and that the two dozen people sitting near the front are all listening and judging.
Here, like a seedling in the garden,
Is a world about to start,
How I need you here to share it,
This is too much for one heart…
Her voice soars and she forgets everything except the beauty of the melody and the way the theatre embraces the song.
Sitting in the second row, listening intently, he finds that he can't take his eyes off of her. She is absolutely nothing like the sort of woman to who is ordinarily attracted. He's always been drawn to tall blondes with sky blue eyes and this girl is tiny, dark-haired and dark-eyed but there's just something about her …
"Beautiful," Cameron calls out appreciatively.
"What do you think?" they ask him.
"Tala is prettier," Alain points out. "Glamorous."
"You've just heard that voice," he points out even as he finds himself objecting to the statement that Tala is prettier.
He watches when they tell her the news, sees the delight in her eyes and the panic. "Congratulations, I'll see you at rehearsals," he tells her and she nods, aware that this is the beginning – of everything.