In which night terrors lead to self mutilation.
A/N: Darkfic/OOC/AU /I don't know what to call this/. Labels for all those little kiddies out there. Lots of flaws, has not been beta-read.
Mothface is getting all kinds of crazy guys and gals.
I freely admit this one is very, very… strange.
Please get the prescription drugs away from me.
As always, enjoy.
"She'll never love you, you know."
Francoeur didn't respond. True enough, he had learned to speak normally given months of practice. With Lucille giving him lessons and his already superb command of the French language through song, it was no surprise how easily he picked up normal human speech. But now, Francoeur's voice had failed him. No words could escape the cage of his throat.
Raoul examined his fingernails, scraping away imaginary flecks of dirt.
"It's no surprise you like her. Hey, you've got good taste- no shame in that. I mean her eyes alone make my knees go all wobbly. But there's a reason why she's with a guy like me and not you." Raoul paused for dramatic effect.
"I mean, have you looked in a mirror lately?" the man's fiery eyes were expectant. The silence commanded the giant flea to answer. A voice lost, was found.
"No…" Francoeur wanted to sound brave and defiant but his throat only issued oh so soft words that held little resolve and little steel.
"Oh stupid me, of course you haven't. Why would you? What use would a mirror be to a giant bug like you? Well let me illuminate it for you, my friend: you aren't human. You aren't even close."
The fur on Raoul's jacket was bristling and clumping together. His legs stretched impossibly long.
"Let's just say, if it was a race, you wouldn't even be third, fourth or thirty-sixth. No, buddy, you'd be in dead last. Charles has a better chance; at least he's a mammal. "
"But Lucille cares about me! She feeds me and gives me gifts and lets me stay with her." He didn't care if he sounded like a petulant child. It took quite a bit for Francoeur to get angry, but when it came to the topic of Lucille- it didn't take much at all.
"All the things humans do for their animals. It's the affection one gives to their favored pet, nothing more." Raoul's voice was changing now, his inflections sounding more refined, more insidious. The tone was close nearing his own- seemingly to mock his quiet, melodic way of speaking.
"That's not true. She loves me. I know it!" She was the angel of the Rare Bird and possibly the brightest beacon in his ever more confusing life. She had to feel at least a fraction of what he felt for her.
"What? How could she love a monster like you?"
"I am not a monster."
"Oh, but you are- just take a good long look..."
Raoul now towered over Francoeur. Spines extended from his back, eyes that were fiery before burned even brighter, red as blood.
"At what you've been hiding from," jagged mandible-like feelers, sprouted from his chin.
"At what truths you've been avoiding in the mirror," his arms split down the middle; four spider-like appendages replaced supple human flesh.
"Look at yourself," Navy-blue chitin armor cascaded over skin. A noseless face stared down filled with quiet rage, cruelty and fury. Too-white teeth extended into a wide crooked smile.
"And say that you are not a monster."
Francoeur woke up panting. Ragged breaths escaped his frame with wild abandon. Eyes, frantic and dilated scanned the room to ground him into reality. Dull pink wall paper embossed with golden fleur-dills-lis stared back at him. Dark and earthy wooden crown-molding matched the floor. A dying fire hissed and popped in an aging fireplace.
He was in Lucille's flat.
Beneath him was her couch- given freely to him as a place to sleep. It was cream and blue striped, with little golden claws on the feet. A flowered blanket was wrapped around his lower body, and an assortment of pillows rested underneath his head. Each new inhale brought scents of lavender and cinnamon, lulling him back to calm.
It felt like home.
Francoeur pushed himself up from his makeshift bed. He couldn't go back to sleep. The gentle oblivion it offered wouldn't be gained tonight. No, sleep was not that kind this time. Only more nightmares awaited him.
Light flashed through parted curtains. Silent lightning cast jagged shapes on the wall, each one a vicious bit of broken tar. A storm was nearing.
Leaving the couch, the flea strode over to the window. Outside, Paris flared white against black. Dark houses bit at the brightness of the heavens like broken teeth. Milliseconds later the sky itself would be pitch swallowing the landscape like a great shadowy ocean. The firmament turned again and again, black, white, dark, bright- like warring squares on a chessboard.
And, as fascinating as it was, it made the flea's bristles stand on end. The feelers on both sides of his face twitched, tense from the electrical discharge.
Panes of glass began to jostle from the wind. Braving the gusts, he opened the window, closed the shutters, locked it back up again and then shut curtains. The same probably needed to be done for the entire floor. Francoeur looked at the clock on the mantle. It was three in the morning and Lucille was asleep. The downstairs windows were already taken care of; they were tightly sealed for the night to keep out would-be burglars. That only left the upstairs hallway and Lucille's room.
He padded softly down the small corridor, his night vision lending him grace.
The next window rattled against the wall.
Francoeur was surprised Lucille hadn't woken up form all of the commotion. Then again, these days Madame Carlotta worked them hard. She was eager to cash in on them both. They hadn't had a day off in two weeks.
He braved the wind once again and locked the window down. The panes no longer complained under the oncoming gales.
Turning around, his heart stopped, he caught his reflection in the hallway mirror.
A blue face peered back at him, completely at odds with the other portraits that lined the walls.
Large red-gold eyes wavered back and forth over a proportionally small mouth.
What biologists would call maxillary palpi- the sensitive feelers that he once used to interpret the world, jutted from both sides of his chin, . The rest of his visage was smooth, without eyebrows or any hair to speak of. On his shoulders spines poked through his white linen shirt.
'Look at yourself,' Francoeur's segmented fingers lightly traced his reflection. "And say that you are not a monster."
His hands balled into fists. He wanted to punch the mirror, but thought better of it. It was not his to break.
He tore himself away and quietly twisted Lucille's doorknob.
There she was, peacefully sleeping.
Her window was already locked tight.
Her normally coiffed locks haloed her face in disarray. Thick dark lashes alighted or porcelain cheeks. Her lips parted ever so gently. Each small breath stirred errant strands of hair. She shivered.
Francoeur tenderly tucked her in tighter.
One of his hands softly caressed her face.
He couldn't be normal for her.
He would always be the Monster of Paris.
It was too much to take.
He wanted to rip from himself all the differences that separated him from the rest of humanity.
He wanted to close the gap between him and her. She seemed oceans away underneath his touch.
All the stars above the Seine couldn't change who he was.
Self-hatred engulfed everything- an agony he had never experienced before.
Francoeur exited the room as silently as possible and made his way down the stairs.
Lucille had knives for cooking, but she hid them away. He could remember when he first discovered those. The wonder as he watched her chop vegetables- he had wanted to try. Maybe someday he could cook for her, give her food as she had given him. But one afternoon, Lucille walked in on him as he practiced slicing, and in his surprise he sliced himself instead.
Since then, he could not find a knife anywhere. But no matter, he had a different idea.
He passed the kitchen and opened the back door into the garden.
Raindrops angrily whipped against his face. Francoeur removed his shirt; it would only get in the way. The flea's mouth formed a grim line. His eyes surveyed the scene with almost casual disinterest. It was small garden, just big enough to house some herbs and a lonely tomato plant. In the corner of a plot, a spade stood half submerged in mud.
He picked it up; remembering the day Lucille taught him how to plant. How, her small hands held little sprouts. Her face streaked with dirt. How easily the spade cut through soil. It was rare she ever worked in the backyard. After all, she had to keep up appearances. She had to look and act like a fine and cultured flower. But, Lucille always smelled like her garden, even under all of the cheap perfume Madame Carlotta forced her to wear. A smile ghosted his lips.
Francoeur hacked and cut away at one of the spines he could reach on his back. It didn't give easily and it was hard to twist into the right position for easy access. Yellowish ichor flowed freely. The spade finally won against carapace, leaving Francoeur holding a small piece of what was once a part of him. The appendage, once full of life was now stiff and useless. The thick bristle slid out of his hand and into the mud. The pain was nothing, nothing compared to knowing that Lucille could never love him.
He looked down at his hands. Seeing his extra arms made his gut twist in disgust.
'-you aren't human. You aren't even close.'
Francoeur took up the spade again and carefully placed it at the intersection where one of his spare limbs met torso. He flexed the arm. It was so fragile, so delicate; it would only take one proper swing-
"What are you doing?"
Lucille stood in the back doorway. Her eyes were wide with emotion.
"Lucille! I-" Francoeur was caught off guard.
"Don't do that, don't ever do that!" She ran crashed into his chest, prying the spade from his fingers.
"So…So stupid!" She flung the shovel to the ground."What were you thinking?"
"I- I'm sorry. Lucille…"
She looked up into his eyes; her irises were pristine watery emeralds. The nightgown she wore was getting soaked through. Her bare feet were entrenched in mud.
His secret heart belonged to her now. She, above all people deserved the truth.
"Lucille, I can't stand it any longer…" He brought her closer to his chest to shield her from the rain. This confession would change everything. Maybe this would be that last time he could hold her again.
"I know that am a monster. I don't have a face like yours. Or two arms. Or soft skin. Every moment that I stare down at this body I feel pain. Pain, because I will never be able to walk in the park in daylight with you. Pain, because we can never eat together at a restaurant without people staring. Pain, because I will never be able to hold you like Raoul does. Pain, because…" his voice waivered. "Because…I love you."
"Is that what you think?" Lucille pulled his chin down so his eyes could be level with hers. "That mutilating yourself will change these things? That a spade could change who you are?"
"Shhh," Her eyes narrowed at the open wound on his shoulder. "I know what you were doing. But, one pain cannot cancel another." Both hands moved the sides of his face.
"Listen to me," Her lips moved closer to his. "Not being human does not mean you are anything less."
Lucille kissed him then. Raindrops were crushed between their mouths. Everything Francoeur ever wanted was here, in his arms. Pain faded into memory.
She tasted of cinnamon and Lavender.
"I love you too." She smiled. "But, if you ever do something like that again, I swear…"
Francoeur pulled Lucille closer.
"How will this work, Lucille? What about Raoul?"
"The way I want it to, and besides I think Raoul and I need to have a talk." She took his hand. "Come on, let's get you a bandage."
Francoeur obliged and entered the house with Lucille, leaving all his doubts and the spade, outside in the mud.
A/N: My heartfelt thanks to Midground and greenisthecolorofmyenvy. A shout-out to the very colorful duo MadHatter and MarchHare, since you people of Underland won't let me express my thanks in a private message. Let's just say your reviews made my day.
Let it be known I do not hate Raoul, but if I wanted to write a love story about a tragically bohemian poor boy and a gorgeous French singer…ladies and gentlemen I'd be writing a fan fiction for the 'Moulin Rouge'.
Also, I have had complaints about the lack of French I am using.
First off, using two languages in one prompt is jarring to me, as a reader. It detracts from the story. It's like 'Oh hey, we got a bad ass over here- using French ripped straight from Google translate.'
Second, you don't like it? Write your own fiction.
Still haven't seen the movie.
And not a single damn was given.