Chapter Four

"Does anyone else notice how emotionally invested we're becoming in this show?" Steve asked, watching as Satine stood atop the decorative elephant and sang of freedom, her voice full of longing.

He and Ponyboy had never been close, and most of the time they couldn't stand to be in the same room without arguing but watching this play…he couldn't help feeling bad for the couple on stage.

He noticed Darry and Soda seemed to be having the same problem, a slight frown on Darry's face as he watched Christian convince Satine that love was worth having.

Ponyboy was their dreamer, the one that saw the good in everyone and everything. He was like Christian in the way that he believed in true love above all things. It was odd seeing him play the cynical, disillusioned Satine, especially because he was so good that it seemed like it was actually him. It made their hearts ache.

How wonderful life is, now you're in the world

The couple sang together and Satine gave a slow saccharine smile.

"You're gonna be bad for business. I can tell." She whispered and he smiled pulling her into a passionate kiss.

The Stage went dark for a moment and Christian's voice sounded.

"How wonderful life was now Satine was in the world."

The stage brightened showing Zidler and the Duke in what appeared to be Zidler's office. In the corner stood an imposing bald man, who watched the proceedings impassively. Christian's voice continued.

"But in the Duke, Zidler had got much more than he had bargained for."

The duke stared at Zidler shrewdly a faux smile on his lips.

"Transforming the Moulin Rouge into a theater will cost a fantastic
sum of money, Zidler.
So in return I would require a contract
that binds Satine to me, exclusively."

The audience gasped and Two-Bit scowled.

"I'm starting to really hate this guy."

"Me too." The other replied.

"Naturally, I shall require some security; I shall require the deeds to the Moulin Rouge."

Zidler stared at him stunned.

"But dear Duke…I…"

"Please don't think that I'm naive, Zidler. I shall hold the deeds to
the Moulin Rouge. And if there are any shenanigans, my manservant Warner," -The man in the corner glanced up, hand ghosting over the gun at his side- "will deal with it in the only language that you underworld show-folk
people understand." The Duke grew more agitated, his mask slipping just a bit to show the violent anger roiling underneath and his hands gripped the hat in his hands like it had offended him.

"Satine will be mine. I'm not jealous. I JUST DON'T LIKE
OTHER
PEOPLE TOUCHING MY THINGS!"

The audience jumped started at the outburst as did Zidler on stage.

Zidler stared at the Duke wide-eyed, wondering what the hell he'd gotten himself into.

"I…understand completely." The statement was almost a question and the entire audience could see that the Duke's outburst had thrown him off completely.

The duke smiled, suddenly completely calm as he watched Zidler sign the agreement.

"Now that we have an understanding, it would appear that ugh . . .
you have the means to transform your beloved Moulin Rouge . . ."

The stage went dark for a moment before it returned with Zidler standing on a balcony.

"INTO A THEATRE!" He cheered, and the performers all cheered along.

A wrecking ball slammed into the wall and everyone gasped.

Zidler stood back up.

"THE SHOW MUST GO ON!"

"He's insane." Soda whispered, watching as Satine and Christian snuck around behind the Duke's back. It seemed to be the worst kept secrets among the actors, as everyone knew.

Well everyone but Zidler and The Duke.

"This is gonna end so bad." Steve whispered and Darry nodded.

"That's what I'm afraid of."

They were right.

The duke seemed to be getting more and more frustrated with being denied by Satine.

The Duke and Satine sat watching the other actors rehearse as the Moulin Rouge was made over and Christian's voice sounded over the loudspeaker.

"Try as the Duke might, it was almost too easy for the young
writer and the lead actress to invent perfectly, legitimate reasons to
avoid him."

The writer walked over to the couple and kneeled behind them.

"Excuse me, Mademoiselle Satine, I haven't quite finished working on the "will the lovers be meeting at the sitar player's humble abode" scene and I was wondering if we could work on it together later tonight."

Two-Bit snorted. "How much more obviously can you state it?"

The duke frowned and looked at Satine. "But my dear, I've had supper arranged for us in the Gothic Tower tonight."

Christian bowed his head and nodded. "Well it's not that important. We can work on it tomorrow."

Satine scowled affronted, glaring at the author.

"How dare you! It cannot wait until tomorrow! The "will the lovers meet in the sitar player's humble abode scene is the most important in the production! We will work on it tonight until I'm satisfied."

The duke looked crushed.

"But my dear-"
Satine cut him off standing. "Dear Duke. Excuse me."

She nodded to him then walked away with Christian.

Darry winced, feeling a bit of sympathy for the man. How oblivious could one guy be?

The Duke watched them go with a scowl, and stood storming over to Zidler.

"Bright and early tomorrow morning, we'll begin act two; "The
lovers are discovered!" The Host announced and the actors cheered, then disbanded

"Zidler!" The Duke snapped and the older male turned with a strained smile.

"My dear Duke, everything is arranged for that special supper in
the Gothic Tower tonight."

A sneer crossed the other's features, his frustration nearly palpable.

"Oh yes, well eat it yourself Zidler. My affections have been left
waiting."

"Impossible!" Zidler replied offended, but the Duke continued as if he hadn't spoken.

"I understand how important your work is to her, but she's always at
it with that damn writer. If I don't see her tonight, I'm very well
Leaving!"

Pale blue eyes widened in panic, and everyone held their breath as they saw his gaze narrow on one of the balconies.
"No, dear Duke! I insist that Satine takes the night off."

The Duke nodded, appeased.

"All right, all right . . . eight o' clock then."

Soda shuddered. "Who wants to bet she won't show up for the dinner?"

Everyone remained silent, feeling dread build within them as the next scene proved the middle Curtis right. They watched as Zidler confronted Satine about her affair with Christian, only for her to try to wave it off. Watched as he ordered her to attend the dinner with the duke, only for her to suffer another fainting spell, fighting back tears as it was revealed by the doctor that she was sick. Everyone laughed as Zidler convinced the duke Satine was confessing, ignoring the reason he'd given for why.

None of them wanted to imaging their youngest being anything but pure, portraying a courtesan in a play aside.

They watched with heavy hearts as she tried to convince Christian to end their relationship, smiling as he tried to convince her otherwise.

As the play moved forward, dread built in each of the audience members, one of Christian's lines hanging ominously over each of their heads.

"But force darker than jealousy, and stronger than love, had began
to take hold of Satine."

TBC...