Title: What you want is not -always- what you need.
Wow, first fanfic ever for Mozart l'Opéra Rock... what's more... in English. (I'm French but too lazy to write in French... I know...) I saw the show only once and the movie is a bit blurry but I still hope I managed to get to the point. And that Salieri is not so out of character. (Man, I just love the man... but I blame Florent Mothe for being epic and making me want to listen to Salieri's work.) But again... the guy is from the Veneto... /proud
So yeah... about the story... I think that you can place it 'round the end of the musical. (At least, after 'Le bien qui fait mal'). Tried to do my best in bringing those two blind idiots together. The title refers to what my parents often say: Everything that tastes good is bad for you. (And also, to the fact that Salieri cannot seem to make up his mind until it's too late...) But you can also think of it as: Whatever Salieri wants, Salieri gets.
Disclaimer: Me no own, else there'd be some epic kissing at the end of the musical. I've always had a thing for Mozart and Salieri as a pairing. It only got worse. (Whoever didn't get naughty thoughts from the aforementioned song... clearly didn't see the show. Teh.)
It was not hatred. It was not anger. He could not bring himself to hate him. Hurt pride that tore his whole body apart. His mind would shatter under the discrepancies wrought by this youthful tornado. That was what Mozart do best. Breaking the old fashioned boundaries that had kept him safe and sound all those years. Away from his country, forced to speak a language that was not his – he was not himself anymore. Only his music spoke for him, but now, whoever listened to him anymore? Keeping to himself, refusing to attract unwanted attention – how could someone be so... alien? Mozart was everything he was not, eccentric, unable to stay still for more than a few seconds, talking so fast it was hard to understand him. And yet, dedicated to a fault to this art he seemed to embody. Oh sure, he was pretentious – wanting to write an opera in German sounded preposterous enough as it was. However, something in the enthusiasm Mozart displayed, in his refusal to back down struck him. He was Italian, attached to his language and somehow, it would feel strange to have his works sung in German. Still, he could not agree with idiots like Rosenberg. The wish to use one's mothertongue in one's compositions was a legitimate one, something he could relate to. In that regard, he respected the younger man. Not to mention that all those old geezers really deserved some slap in the face. Even metaphorically speaking. It did not mean that Salieri would admit it, either to himself or to anyone, for that matter. In a way, he felt for his fellow composer whose attitude and rebuke of compromises often led him to awkward situations. His failure in Paris and the defections of some of his musicians and singers did not help – nor did the constant gossips running about on his account.
As he was sitting in a far off corner of the salon, he could see his rival surrounded by admirers and women. There he was, laughing and sounding as if everything was fine. Salieri knew better. As a rival, he had to observe Mozart very carefully, not so much to find a flaw, but to understand him. Following the old saying 'Know yourself and know your enemies'. Though they were not actual enemies, the saying applied. And Salieri knew that the death of his mother had been a hard blow and it certainly hurt the Austrian more than he would ever let on. It was a pain he could understand, mostly because he took the time to try. Music had helped but what's a man to do when pressured by patrons to create endless rows of concerti, sonate and the likes? What to do when critics, most of which were paid by petty courtiers, constantly tried to undermine his work? Truly, Salieri had to give the young man that: he was resilient.
Absorbed by his thoughts, he barely noticed the Austrian leaving the party. It was something he had recently witnessed about Mozart: he would enter in an explosion and leave as quietly as a cat. And truth be told, he never would have noticed him hadn't he been watching him for a while. That was another infuriating thing the man did: he drew Salieri to him, even when the Italian did not mean to. Just like his music, Mozart acted like a magnet. If only there were more people to understand this.
That Mozart was becoming more and more withdrawn in public bothered Salieri to no end. It was unusual and in his case, could become plain worrying. He would lock himself up in a room and write, or play, as if nothing else mattered to him. He would work until he would fall out of exhaustion – and Salieri knew it was not so uncommon. Something was eating at the man and he did not know what. Part of him wanted to leer at the great Mozart changing radically, would want to mock him for becoming a martyr while himself had been suffering for months. His steps took the Italian composer toward what he knew to be a practice room – faint, muted notes seemed to escape from the door left ajar. Bouncing off the walls like blind birds – thick despair wounding around the melody, coiling serpent. They tore at him, wind around his frame to drag him closer – he felt like he would choke. It took another musician to hear the pain hidden within a composition, but here, it was not even hidden – it was raw and sharp, a blade stabbing his chest, twisting with each rise and fall. A stolen look through the cracked door – he could see him – that man that had robbed him of his very last strand of sanity. The one that destroyed what he would have previously believed him – the one that showed him that you could be yourself and not giving a damn about what others would think. He now saw Mozart as he never saw him – as no one probably ever saw him. His jacket and waistcoat were discarded on the floor – despite them being wrought in fine fabrics. It was something that would normally bring a scowl to his otherwise expressionless face. But he could not. Mozart's hair was an absolute mess, as if he had been racking it for a while, his frame, outline by the white shirt, hunched over the keys – his fingers dancing over black and white without apparent effort. But Salieri knew better. He was concentrated, the outside world did not exist. Anything that was not music was lost to him. The notes, the ensemble, were unrecognisable and it dawned on him that he was witnessing an improvisation. The sight was even more poignant – the emotions translated into notes were not thought through. Off was the mask, broken was the cheerful exterior, this was the real Mozart. The man that suffered and that fought for what he believed in, the one that lived for and through his music. It made Salieri feel like an imposter. As though he had been living a lie, hiding behind words and indifference. He was an intruder, and he had no right to see Mozart like that. Anger welled inside of him – Mozart had no right to be like this! He could not look so fragile, he could not be so. He did not know what to think – for a long time now it was Mozart that gave him a reason to go on. Their rivalry forced him to write his best works, so how could this man seem to let go now? That was it... Mozart was letting him down! And despite his rage, his heart clenched at the sight. It was his fault if Mozart was like this, and it scared him. Perhaps it was because now he saw him as he was: a young man who was far from being indifferent to what happened around him. A surge of protectiveness wrung itself from his soul – contradictory feelings would make him bleed to death if he was not careful. Insanity – it was so close he could feel its foul breath on his neck. And still, the fingers run over keys, drawing this mournful music on – before picking on, the allegro growing faster, as if anger was now blended around the rest, invasive – unwanted. A momentum that could not be broken.
Salieri would never know exactly what came onto him – he did not realize what he was doing until he heard the door creaking open. At the sound, Mozart startled, looking at him like a rabbit caught in a trap. Salieri felt like he had stepped in a sanctum, destroying whatever sense of security his counterpart might have had. Dark eyes stared at him, enlarged with something that the Italian thought to be badly hidden fright. As if he saw something he should not have – something that Mozart did not want to be known. Salieri tried to reassure him, putting his hands up in a pacific gesture, approaching cautiously as if not to scare him further. As if to tell him: do not run, I won't do anything. You are safe.
Of course, it was ironic that he would be saying this – he was, after all, his greatest rival. But he could not shake off that feeling of inadequacy that had been creeping on him.
"I am sorry. I did not mean to disturb you." Please, keep on playing, please. Please, be alright.
"Oh, it's okay... I mean, I'm a terrible guest..." Mozart seemed to deflate even further at this, his shoulders slouching slight as he rose from the bench.
"You are not. They were leaving anyway... I didn't want to intrude like this..." But your music scared me – you look like a ghost – like you are going to fade. Don't. Don't...
"Alright... Then I'll to as well, I was finished anyway." The Austrian made a move to scurry away but it was counting without the strong hand catching his elbow. His eyes rose to meet the dark eyes of Salieri. Incomprehension growing starker still as he was led back to the bench. Hands pushed him, forcing him to sit. And still, Salieri did not remove his hands – as if he knew that Mozart would take any opportunity to leave.
"You came here to play. And I do believe I know you well enough to say that you still want to. So do it."
"Who are you to tell me what I want to do? All my life, I had to live up to others' expectations and no one ever asked me if I wanted to."
"When you play, you are free. Just let the others rot in Hell for all they're worth, it's about you. Not them. And I know because it's the same with me."
"Right now, you are not Mozart the composer. You are the man, Wolfgang."
"Why are you telling me this? What do you care anyway?" Suspicion dripped from the words, and it hurt Salieri – though he knew he deserved it.
"Because, even though you are a rival, even though your talent makes you a threat to me, I can't leave you like this. I don't know why..." Your music is a poison I crave, I need it. If you are not here anymore, who will ever make me breath through that life?
"Oh, you know why." Mozart was looking at him now, his head thrown backward, smiling. Salieri believed him. "I won't pry. But you know... I don't exist just to spite you, though it is what makes it all better."
"Wouldn't have guessed... Please... Play?" It was a request, it surprised Salieri himself. He rarely asked, let alone where Mozart was concerned. But there was no fighting it. He had come to a point where he could not imagine a life without Mozart in it. He stormed into his ordered life and his very musical universe was reshaping itself around him. His plea was answered when lithe hands moved again, drawing clear notes to answer deeper ones – as if the pianist was voicing whatever was tormenting him. It was a torture to hear such perfect, masterful play – a sweet torture that Salieri was not willing to trade against peace of mind. He did not remove his hands from the younger man's shoulders – through the shirt, damp, almost cold skin. Without knowing what he was doing his hands fell to his side before winding around the torso of the musician, forcing him to his knees so he would not strain his back. His forehead rested against Mozart's strong back, lithe muscles drawn through a life playing the piano and directing operas. He inhaled, drawing the scent of this man that had become a part of his life. What was he doing to him? What was happening? He should scorn him, hate him even – but he could not. He wanted to be acknowledged by this genial youth, while his pride commanded him not to. You are the Zeitgeist of this age – you set the changes into motion. Everything will change – why? How? I want to protect you – I want to hold you. You drive me insane – your music – it hurts me, it makes me yearn for more. I can't help it and I want you to play. I want your music – you... At this, Salieri nearly toppled over – what was he thinking, for God's sake? As if in accordance with his thoughts that came to a screeching halt, the music had stopped.
"Salieri?" No response. Not knowing what happened to the man – or why his head was buried between his shoulder blades, Mozart asked again: "Antonio?" Normally, the use of his first name by the Austrian was more than enough to send Salieri's mind reeling. Not now. He did not budge, as if he were rooted to the spot. Mozart's hands were withdrawn from the keys, hanging above them as if hanging from strings.
"Don't stop playing. Never." If he ever stopped... he will just have to say farewell to whatever sanity he had left. Salieri thought as if he weren't his own man anymore.
At this, Mozart turned around in Salieri's slack embrace. Equivocal pose to which none paid any heed.
"I am not so perfect for you not to be able to live without my music. I actually happen to fail quite a lot of things."
No, you touched my heart with your arias – you hold it. Salieri was but a witness – he could not – would not – explain what was taking place.
"Those... imperfections, as you may call them. They make you human. Perfection cannot exist, that's what they say."
"Because you... your music is the closest to perfection – that's what I think..." Despite the fact that it devoured him like fire would a man tied to the stake.
Slender arms reached down, around the Italian's frame, forcing him upward. Even when he got up, Salieri was slightly taller than his 'friend', forcing him to look down. Those dark eyes... they fascinated him – showing so much of the turmoil to which the Austrian was falling prey to. The insecurities, the wish to do his best – and his will that sometimes seemed to be all that hold him together. Mozart's stare was swallowing him whole – he could not escape, and he was not even certain he wanted to. Salieri could not tear his eyes from the face of the man in front of him. It was only then that he realized that he still had his arms around the Austrian. He went to take a step back when he was caught by Mozart. Roles reversed – but he wanted to run away. He did not control this – whatever it was supposed to be. He did not want to be there... where else could he be? He was trapped, though he could free himself from the grasp of the younger man. His face was so close – their lips inches apart – almost non-existent distance. Temptation was coiling around Salieri, depriving him of his wits. Those lips looked almost too inviting for him to ignore. It hurt him to acknowledge it – about as much as everything that concerned Mozart. Everything about him hurt and made him want to claw at his face in desperation – but at the same time, he did not want to let go. He could not.
A brush of lips – that's all it took. A fleeting moment on the wings of time, an instant frozen in space. He felt a rush of fire through his spine and nerves – a knot in his belly that he did not even know existed. A void seemed to open in his chest, robbing him from his breath before it filled again. The brush turned into a stronger pressure, testing the other. Would he be able to go on with a rebuke? And why was he doing it? He did not know – he could not think. His reason destroyed – all because of one man. He should damn Mozart – could not. His arms went back to hold him – he would never let him go. Never. Even after his death, he would not rest. That's what Mozart made him into – a restless man, a different man – perhaps the man he really was.
Maybe he never hated Mozart. Maybe hating him was easier. Hatred and anger were easy emotions to deal with. But he resented him – letting so many people too close to him. He could not allow this. Mozart was his – his music – himself. His alone. It was selfish. Unreasonable. But reason deserted him. Chased away by the man who was now kissing him with a fervour he thought could only exist when creating this addictive music of his. Salieri did not, nor wanted to, care about what the others would think. All that mattered – those lips under his, that pliant mouth yielding to him – those arms around his neck – those hands tangled in his hair. His. He needed him – like he would need oxygen or music. To Hell with his sanity, even if it burned, even if it drove him out of his mind – he did not need anything. Nothing but him...
I hope you enjoyed your read as much as I enjoyed writing it. (Angst ftw.) Salieri is such a complicated man... I would be glad to hear from you to know if I can go on with the 'subject' or if I really have to drop it. Really, feedback is more than welcome!
Thank you for reading.