Title: Emergency Rouge
Series: 'School Ties' - Part 5
Fandoms: ER/MR
Authors: Carrie Verkman & Charlotte Rodwell
Genre: Humour/Tragedy AU
Category: MR: C/S ER: LKo/JC
Rating: PG-13
Set: After Satine's death.

Summary: A glass too much of Absinthe and Christian dreams that Satine is still alive and that they find a place where she can be cured of her illness.

Notes: ER/Moulin Rouge might sound weird to you - but, honestly, have you ever watched a Baz Luhrmann film?


'SCHOOL TIES V'

'EMERGENCY ROUGE'


PARIS 1900

There was a boy.

He sat upon bare floorboards in a small garret above the streets of Montmatre; his knees pressed to his chest, a bottle of green alcohol in his hand as birds flew in the spring breeze that blew across the city of Paris. The city at the heart of the bohemian revolution he had journeyed to a year ago to become a writer. A city of culture. A city of beauty. A city of love.

Above all things, this boy believed in love. Perfect love, true love, eternal love. The love that knows no limits, no rules, no obstacles. The love which would live forever.

Papers fluttered about his feet, some with patterns of random words stitched upon their fabric. He looked up, his gaze falling on his typewriter, two empty bottles of absinthe and a sheaf of papers. Their story. He had to write their story. He'd promised.

He felt his whole body begin to shake with the force of his grief. He swallowed hard and bit back the tears and cries of despair which threatened to rip forth from his mouth. His eyes were carried to the bottle of absinthe in his hand. La Fee Verte seemed to coax his mouth nearer the neck of the bottle as his gaze rested upon the bottle of green. The bottle that could cure all his worries make him forget who he was for a moment. A moment away from his miserable torture was worth everything to him. A moment when he could forget he was Christian, that she had been Satine, that he had ever come to Paris and the Moulin Rouge.

A sweet escape from his pain, or else a lifetime of insanity for his obsessive love of alcohol. Toulouse could not conquer his lust for absinthe, and this young writer had not a care in the world for the path he had placed himself upon.

He lifted the bottle to his mouth and drank the stinging green liquid, choking on its intoxicating strength. The bottle fell from his hand and his head rolled back against the wall, his eyes settling upon a picture of Satine. He started to cry once more and soon his grief had carried him into hazy visions of a strange city of lights and tall buildings, of clubs more exotic than the Moulin Rouge and theatres displaying spectacles more spectacular than Spectacular Spectacular! Spectacular!

"Alcohol, my permanent accessory," he murmured to himself. He saw Satine, her head thrown back as she released her final breath, blood on her lips and her eyes wide and glassy. Christian could not contain his heartache any longer and he let a long moan of pain flow from his mouth. "I love you more, than I did the week before I discovered alcohol."

Then the images ceased to play in his head and blackness muffled his thoughts.

Christian let his body fall to the cold hard floor of his garret. His head felt too heavy for his body and he toppled over, drunk on feelings of grief and too much absinthe.

"Alcohol your songs resolve like my life never will." mumbled Christian. His eyelids closed in defeat; his breathing slowed and his body succumbed to exhaustion and deep sleep.

Soon Christian was dreaming. He saw bright lights, colossal buildings, trains that were elevated on tracks above the streets. He heard loud voices saw mysterious carriages that moved without horses. Christian saw some more of the funny carriages, but these ones had blue and red flashing lights, and flew through the streets in a hurry to get somewhere quickly.

Christian struggled to open his heavy eyelids to get that unusual image out of his mind. But when he did open his eyes, the image had not changed, and soon Christian found himself in an unfamiliar world called Chicago.

***

CHICAGO 2002

Christian looked about him, his head reeling with the after-effects of too much absinthe as he took in the world he had fallen into. It was night-time, yet the sky was filled with more lights than the garden at the Moulin Rouge, and voices rang through the clear night air as snowflakes poured onto his head, as if were being iced like a cake. Horseless carriages sped past him on a smooth wide road, their horns blaring impatiently. People rushed past him as he sat on the pavement, the cold wetness of the freshly settled snow seeping through his clothes. His head rang with the barrage of sound assailing his mind and he placed his hands over his ears to quieten the cacophony. He closed his eyes against the bright lights and the strange visions about him, willing himself back to his garret and his misery and his endless glasses of alcohol.

"Christian?" He felt a soft hand rest itself upon his shoulder at the muffled address. Christian opened his eyes and let his hands fall from his ears. "Qu'est-ce que tu as fait, eh?

He closed his eyes once more, and tried to clear his mind of the ethereal vision in front of him. He couldn't let him do this to himself, he had to let go and stop torturing himself. But the image of her was imprinted on his retina, etched upon his memory by the branding iron of his love, so that he knew that her face would be forever with him, no matter how hard he tried to forget her.

"Christian, ca va?" The clear effervescent voice echoed in his ears again and he opened his eyes once more. They settled on her as she bent over him, her pale face worried with a frown of concern.

Christian's eyes settled on her and he forgot his garret, he forgot his misery, he forgot the alcohol and the Moulin Rouge. For there she was, her perfume settling like a hazy aura about her as she extended a small hand to him. He smiled at her and forgot everything except her. He forgot the strangeness of the new world surrounding them; he forgot that the clothes they wore were different in every way to the ones of their time; he forgot every sadness connected to her death. "Satine," he breathed, her name falling from his lips like a breeze playing about leaves on branches. "Satine."

She smiled back at him, and helped him to his feet. "You slipped on the ice again, I told you to be more careful."

"I'm fine," Christian replied, his eyes never leaving her face, as if he were afraid that she might disappear like a fairy if he did not concentrate upon her. However, at that moment, he could not imagine her ever leaving him.

Satine gave a small laugh and planted a kiss upon his cheek. "T'es trop maladroit, mon cher," she chastised him, taking his hand.

Christian laughed with her and then felt a sharp pain echo through his skull. He put a hand to his head and frowned. "I think I hit my head on the way down."

"Let me see," Satine replied, placing her hand where he indicated and running a hand through his thick hair. She took her hand away and showed him a smear of blood upon her fingers. "Oh, darling, you were unconscious for a while back there. We should take you to the doctor. You might need stitches."

Christian shook his head, "At this time of night?"

"There's a hospital just around the corner," Satine insisted, wrapping an arm about him and pulling her coat around her tightly. "It won't take long, Christian. If you're worried about getting to the theatre on time, I have an understudy and you have a stage manager. Don't be stubborn - we're going and that is that."

Christian hugged Satine to his side and he kissed her on the cheek. "What would I do without you?"

"You would probably freeze to death, my darling. I've never seen anyone walk so slowly on a cold night," Satine replied, making for the hospital in a jog. "Allons-y! And don't slip!"

Setting off after her, Christian broke into a sprint and laughed, forgetting everything except Satine.

Upon reaching the hospital entrance, Christian playfully grabbed a handful of snow from the ground and tossed it at Satine. She squealed and tossed a handful back at him. Soon they were engaged in a full-blown snowball fight. Satine's laugh cut through the air like beautiful music. Christian smiled at her childlike acts. He loved when they could just sit back and act like children without any cares in the world. Christian was about to throw another ball of snow at Satine when he saw her bent over and panting heavily.

"Satine?" Asked Christian. "My love, are you all right?"

Satine gasped for air. "I just got dizzy all of a sudden."

Christian took her by the hand, leading her inside the hospital. "Let's have a doctor look at you. You've been in the cold for too long."

Satine nodded and followed Christian into the large white building. Christian looked around and was nearly blinded by the bright lights. He saw people running around, calling out orders, and rushing to one place after another. He and Satine were nearly knocked over by a gurney that was being pushed in. All the new sights, sounds, and smells reminded Christian once again that he was still in a unfamiliar world. It was almost too much for him to take in.

Christian's thoughts were interrupted by Satine pulling on his arm. "Christian, what is the matter with you today? It's as if you're having hallucinations."

Christian inwardly remarked upon the irony of the statement; however, he didn't speak a word on the subject.

Satine looked around for the reception desk, but a European doctor called out her name and walked over to her right away.

"Satine!"

"Luka!"

Satine broke into a wide smile at the sight of the tall, dark and handsome man. He was wearing a white coat and he was beaming at her with a toothy grin. "How are you? It's been a long time, Satine," he said with a knowing look.

"Well, it has, hasn't it," Satine replied, taking Christian by the hand. "Christian, this is Luka Kovac, we appeared in a amateur dramatics production at our school Gilbert and Sullivan Society together."

Christian smiled warmly at the tall man and shook his hand. "Pleased to meet you."

"Luka, this is Christian Lawrence. We got married last year," Satine said, a contented warmth in her voice.

Luka smiled at the two of them genuinely. "Congratulations! How did you meet?"

Satine supplied the information freely, that she and Christian had met at the theatre where she had appeared in a revival of Singin' in the Rain. It had been her last night in the production and Christian had come to meet the theatre's proprietor, Harry Zidler, about an idea he had for a show. Christian watched her as she recounted their history with a faint sense of bewilderment. He had a feeling that somehow the events she recalled were ones he had never experienced, that somehow they were different to the way things had actually been. He could not, however, remember the way he presumed their meeting to have happened.

"So Christian wrote this wonderful show and Harry put it on for us," Satine smiled warmly at Christian for a moment and then turned back to Luka, "you have to see it, it's spectacular."

"Maybe when I finish my shift, eh?" Luka replied with a mock-exasperated hangdog expression. "I've been on for 36 hours, I need some light entertainment. What brings you here?"

Satine turned to Christian and indicated to his head, "Christian slipped on some ice and cut his head-"

"It's nothing-" Christian protested, unwilling to let Satine make it out to be bigger than it actually was. He put a hand to where he had hit his head and winced as a flash of pain flared through his skull.

"You're bleeding, Christian," Satine replied with a glare, her eyes sparkling with amusement. "Be a good boy and let Luka take a look."

Christian grew slightly red and tried one last time to protest, "But-"

Satine kissed him on the cheek. "No buts, darling. We're not leaving until you get that seen to."

He smiled at her and broke out spontaneously into song. "I would do anything for love, but I won't do that."

Her stern look melted and she pushed him towards Luka playfully. "Oh, why can't you behave?" Satine sang, a smile pulling on her lips. "Why can't you behave?"

"Hey now, what's the matter with you," Christian said, looking slightly hurt. He smiled at Satine and he sang out again, "I just wanna have fun, ye-ah."

Satine smiled, "Oh why can't you be good?" Christian pulled a face and she laughed. "And do just as you should?" she continued, her voice as clear as crystal in the busy halls of the Emergency Room.

"Cos, I just wanna be loved by you, just you, nobody else but you," Christian sang back, drawing a bemused smile from Luka. "I wanna be loved by you alone. Boop-boop-bo-boop - ooh."

He grinned at her endearingly and she wrapped her arm around his waist with a terse laugh. "Don't try and change the subject, Christian. You're getting stitches."

"Damn."


Luka had settled Christian and Satine in the ER's suture room. Christian's eyes explored the tiny and cluttered room with some amazement. He had never seen so much stuff packed into one room.

"Do you guys actually use all these things?" Christian said.

"Of course. You can never be too prepared." Luka said. "Geez, Christian, this is a pretty deep gash. You sure you slipped on the ice, or were you blinded by your wife's beauty?"

Satine and Christian laughed. "I did slip. I guess I've never experienced a winter like this before."

"Baby it's cold outside." Satine sang.

"I'd rather roast chestnuts over an open fire." Christian said, flinching as Luka administered some Lidocane to his forehead.

Satine rolled her eyes. "Baby."

Luka chuckled. "So Satine, are you doing anything besides this spectacular play?"

"Well in my spare time I play housewife to Christian," she explained. "Then I-"

Satine fell to the floor in a dead faint. She gasped for air. Luka asked Christian to hold a piece a gauze to his face as he rushed to Satine's aid.

"Satine? Are you alright?" Christian stood up, but sat down after a wave of dizziness took over him from too much blood loss.

"Christian sit down. I'll get another doctor." Luka left and then returned with a younger doctor with brown hair, along with a gurney and a nurse.

"What happened?" asked the younger doctor with the boyish good looks.

"She just fainted. Pulse is weak." Luka said.

"Is she going to be all right?" Christian asked worriedly.

"Dr. Carter is one of best doctors. She's in good hands. Now let's finish fixing you up." Luka started to suture Christian's head. Christian had a worried look on his face. He was so afraid for Satine.

A few minutes later, Dr. Carter came back in the suture room. He had a serious look on his face. Christian, who was all sewn up, stood up. "Well?"

"I need to talk to you about something Mr. Lawrence." Dr. Carter said. "Why don't you sit down?"

Christian sat back upon the gurney, keeping his eyes fixed on the young doctor, an uneasy feeling in his stomach as he saw the grave look on his face. "What is it?"

Dr. Carter drew a chair up alongside Christian and tossed his stethoscope around his neck before sighing and running a hand through his hair. Finally, he looked up at Christian and spoke in a low voice. "Mr. Lawrence, I performed a quick physical examination on your wife-"

"You don't need to skirt the subject," Christian said softly, catching his breath as he tried not to imagine the many worst case scenarios flashing through his mind. He swallowed and wrung his clammy hands, "I mean, whatever you have to say, don't... I mean..."

With a small cough, Dr. Carter scooted closer to Christian. "Mrs. Lawrence is displaying the early symptoms of TB."

"TB?" Christian echoed, his blood-drained face blanching at the sound of the unfamiliar abbreviation's deadly resonance.

"Tuberculosis," Dr. Carter repeated, so that Christian understood.

"Ah," Christian mumbled, nodding slowly. He felt his eyes water and he swallowed to clear the lump in his throat. "Satine has consumption?"

Dr. Carter nodded and handed Christian a clipboard onto which were held some official papers. "Mr. Lawrence, this condition is highly treatable. The survival rate is excellent, fortunately it isn't far advanced and your wife could be cured in a matter of weeks."

"Oh," Christian breathed, a small laugh being exhaled with his sigh. A wave of relief swept across his face. "She'll be alright, won't she?"

"Yes, very much so," the doctor replied with a smile. "There are a few more tests I have to order, but I am positive that they will only reiterate my initial diagnosis. You have nothing to worry about."

Christian broke into an uncomfortable smile. He wiped his clammy forehead with handkerchief from his trouser pocket and ran a hand through his hair before looking at the doctor again. "May I see her?"

Dr. Carter nodded, "In a few minutes. She's just about to go to radiology, so you'll have to wait till she comes back." He paused, "Mr. Lawrence, your wife is pregnant."

Christian looked stunned. He froze for a moment before he spoke again. "Will Satine's condition affect the baby?"

"No," Dr. Carter replied. "However, we'll have to be careful about the medication we give her. Is this your first child?"

"Yes," Christian breathed, an amazed smile spreading across his mouth. "I have to see her, we're going to have a baby. I'm going to be a father! I have to see Satine."

Dr. Carter smiled at him and pushed Christian back onto the gurney as he tried to stand up. "Not yet, you don't! I still have to ask you some questions."

"What about?"

"Mr. Lawrence, tuberculosis is a very contagious disease."

Christian's face fell into a look of anger, and sadness. "Are you saying, that I could have possibly given my wife TB?"

Dr. Carter shook his head. "No Mr. Lawrence, I'm not accusing you of giving your wife this illness."

"It seemed like you were. I have never been in a situation where I have caught some disease and then given it to my wife!" Christian was getting annoyed with all the medical jargon. He just wanted to see his wife. His Satine. The one who was carrying his baby.

"Mr. Lawrence, I'm not insinuating anything." Dr. Carter explained. "Do you know where she could have gotten it from?"

Christian thought long and hard. His thoughts drifted to Montmartre where he first met Satine at the Moulin Rouge. His heart longed to be back in a familiar place. Soon Christian felt homesick for France.

"Mr. Lawrence?" Asked Dr. Carter.

"Satine used to be a dancer. At this place called the Moulin Rouge. Maybe she caught something from someone there, I don't know." Christian said quietly.

"Okay." Dr. Carter said. "Well the only reason why I said it was contagious is because you may have been exposed. And we should test you just in case. You don't want your baby to get it do you?"

Christian shook his head. He let Dr. Carter do the test and then Christian went to see Satine, who was resting comfortably in Trauma One. She was hooked up to IV tubes and a monitor but seemed content and was happy to see Christian.

"Oh love, are you all right?" Christian kissed her forehead. "Dr. Carter told me about the Tuberculosis and then he did a test on me and then-"

Satine cut him off. "Christian, I am fine. I feel much better now. Don't worry, the baby and me are all right."

"Our baby," Christian said, placing a hand on the tiny bulge that was his baby.

"Oh Christian, I was so happy when I found out! I couldn't wait to tell you!" Satine said, still smiling. "It's going to be a little girl!"

"You found out already?" Christian asked with wide eyes. "I'm going to have a little girl?"

"Yes!" Satine reached over and hugged Christian. Christian caressed the back of her head and kissed her.

"Thank God you're going to be okay," Christian said. "Now we have nothing else to worry about."

At that moment, Dr. Kovac came back in. "Christian? Dr. Carter gave me the results of your TB test."

Christian looked up at Dr. Kovac, a contented smile on his face. "Sorry, what did you say?"

"Your TB test came back," Dr. Kovac repeated.

Satine looked at Christian and he gave her hand a squeeze. "Yes?"

"It's negative," the doctor replied. Satine sighed with relief and smiled at Christian. "However, that doesn't mean that Christian won't develop the disease. He's been exposed to you, Satine, for a long time. Christian, you will have to come back in a weeks time and we'll see if the TB presents itself before we write everything off completely."

"Oh," Christian replied, his face falling slightly. "Oh well, its nothing to worry about I suppose," he smiled at Satine and brushed his hand against her cheek. "I'll take you home and ring Zidler and tell him to put the understudy on until you're well enough... oh, the baby!"

"Don't worry about the show." Satine smiled up at her husband weakly. "I'm sure Zidler will find someone to play the part."

"Yes, well he'll have to, because you're going to have a baby daughter, Satine."

Christian smiled at her broadly and she replied. "We're going to have a baby daughter, Christian. Together."

Dr. Kovac coughed and the couple looked away from each other. "You can't leave the hospital, Satine."

"Quoi?" Her surprise was evident from the shocked way in which she reverted to speaking French.

"TB is contagious. You will remain in solitary isolation for the next few weeks until the disease has been cured," Dr. Kovac replied, coming towards them and examining some of the monitors by Satine's bed.

"But I can visit, yes?" Christian asked with a frown.

"Yes, but you won't be able to come into Satine's room. Your lungs may be weakened already, Christian, and you may catch TB very easily from Satine."

Satine and Christian looked at one another with a quiet sorrow they had known a long time ago, though it seemed to be a sorrow belonging to a different world, not just a different time.

"Don't leave me this way," Satine breathed. "I can't survive, without your sweet love. Oh baby, don't leave me this way."

"And there's no river too wide, no mountain to high," Christian sang softly, "sing out this song and I'll be there at your side. Storm clouds may gather and stars may collide."

Silence surrounded them once more, and then Satine sang haltingly. "Strange dear, but true dear, when I'm close to you dear, the stars fill the sky-"

"So in love with you am I..." Christian finished. He smiled at her and kissed her forehead. "You're just too good to be true, can't take my eyes off you. You'd be like heaven to touch," Christian smiled and stroked her cheek, "I want to hold you so much..."

"At long last love has arrived," Satine sang back, "and I thank God I'm alive. You're just too good to be true, can't take my eyes off you."

Christian smiled and stood up from where he sat on a chair by her side. "Pardon the way that I stare, there's nothing else to compare, the sight of you leaves me weak, there are no words left to speak," he sang with his arms stretched out towards her, "but if you feel how I feel, please let me know that it's real-"

"It's real," Satine whispered.

Christian smiled at her, "You're just too good to be true, can't take my eyes off you!" He flung his arms to his side and sang loudly and with clarity, "I love you baby, and if it's quite alright, I need you baby to warm a lonely night, I love you baby, trust in me when I say... oh pretty baby, don't bring me down I pray, oh pretty baby, now that I found this day and let me love you baby, let me love you!"

Satine laughed and sang, "You'd be like heaven to touch, I want to hold you so much."

Christian took her hand. "So much."

"So much," she sang softly.

"So much..." he bent down and kissed her hair, he then ran a hand over Satine's stomach. "How wonderful life is, now you're in the world..." Christian and Satine sang quietly, thinking of their daughter.

***

"Hey baby, hey baby, hey!" Christian sang, as he leaned over Satine's stomach. "Girls say, boys say, hey baby, hey baby hey!"

Satine yawned. "Don't you think you've sang enough to my stomach?"

Christian looked up at Satine. "I'm trying to take advantage of all the time I get to spend with you before you go into isolation."

"You'll still be able to see me." Satine said. "You just wont be able to get too close."

Christian nodded. His heart ached at the fact that his Satine and his baby would be isolated from him.

"You shouldn't worry so much Christian." Satine said, rubbing her fingers through his messy hair, being careful not to touch his stitches. "Dr. Kovac is a great doctor, and he's taking very good care of me. Back in Europe when we were in plays together, he was still in medical school and once I fell and broke my leg. Luka fixed me up right away and soon I was up doing the can-can again!"

Christian breathed a heavy sigh of relief. He figured Dr. Kovac was as good as Satine said he was. "He seems like a decent man."

"Oh he is. He's lovely person and quite the gentleman," Satine said.

"What is that supposed to mean?" Christian stood up. Satine pushed him back down.

"Nothing!"

"Well it doesn't seem like nothing. Luka seems to be a wonder boy compared to me!" Christian angrily walked out of the Trauma room looking for Dr. Kovac. Satine called after him, but she was too weak to yell and couldn't grab his attention.

Christian felt an unsettling wave of anger wash over him, a kind of jealously reminiscent of something that had happened before, in that other place. He felt his eyes sting as he rushed down the hall, looking for the man Satine had talked of so fondly.

"Excuse me," Christian said to a nurse who pushed past him with a box. "Excuse me, where's Dr. Kovac?"

The nurse glanced over to the stairs. "He went up to the roof for a trauma."

"Oh," Christian replied, his head reeling from the flood of adrenaline still surging through his veins. "Will he be back soon?" His voice softened from one of firm resolve to a tone of mere polite inquisition over the space of a few seconds as he realised how irrationally he was acting.

"What patient?" asked the nurse.

"Sorry?"

"Which patient are you with?" she clarified, looking at Christian with a strange gaze.

Christian took a breath, "Satine Lawrence, my wife... she has tuberculosis."

"Oh, she's just been cleared for transport," the nurse said with a smile, leading Christian by the arm back to the trauma room.

"Transport where?" asked Christian.

"To the isolation wards upstairs," the nurse replied. "Would you like a few minutes with her before we take her up?"

"Please," he replied. She smiled back and pushed the door open for him. Christian slipped through into the trauma room and saw Satine, her eyes wet and red gazing at him with a look of disbelief. He approached her without saying a word, the confusion in his eyes saying all he wished to communicate.

"Stop overreacting," she said. "You even get suspicious when I paint my nails. It's definitely distracting, the way you dramatise every small detail."

Christian shook his head and clenched his teeth. He was about to speak when she sang. "Don't freak out until you know the facts..."

"Don't speak," Christian sang back. "In know just what you're saying, so please stop explaining. Don't tell me 'cos it hurts. No, don't speak," he sang bitterly, "I don't need your reasons, don't tell me 'cos it hurts."

"Don't freak out until you know the facts," Satine sang more forcefully. "Relax! Don't be stupid, you know I love you. Don't be ridiculous, you know I need you. Don't be absurd, you know I want you. Don't be impossible!"

"Don't speak..."

Christian's voice faltered as Satine sat up and winced before singing quietly: "I'm mad about you, can't live without you, I'm crazy 'bout you - so don't be stupid... you know I love you..."

Satine took his hand and held it close to her heart. Christian could feel her heart beat quietly and steadily beneath her skin. She gazed into his eyes and there was a look shared between them that communicated what could not be said with a thousand of the most beautifully crafted words. "You're going soon," Christian whispered. "I won't see you for a long time... I don't know what I'm going to do." He sang softly, "I can't live, if living is without you."

"The show, Christian," Satine smiled. "You have the show."

Christian could feel his heart failing with a sort of despair, "But I won't have you."

A tear fell down Satine's cheek and she let it fall onto his hand unchecked, "You'll always have me, cherie."

"Sing out the song and I'll be there at your side," Christian reminded her. "I'll love you until the end of time."

"Come what may," she said.

"Come what may," he whispered.

Satine smiled and stroked his hand. "Your love keeps me alive," she sang in no more than a whisper. "You're all I need to survive, I've got you by my side... so I'm holding on, I'm feeling strong, baby you're the one, for all my life. I'm holding out, there ain't no doubt, I can't life without you all my life." She started to cry, Christian wiping the tears away with his fingertips. "I'm holding on to love to save my life."

"All you need is love," Christian said.

"Wise words from a young boy," Satine replied.

There was a knock at the door.

Christian jumped when he heard the knock at the door. It was Dr. Kovac, who had returned from the roof. "Excuse me; Satine? We are ready to take you up to the isolation ward now."

"I'm ready." Satine said. Christian had a sad look on his face. She smiled and softly sang, "Come what may..."

Christian held onto her hand as she was being wheeled away and then lost her grip. He couldn't move his feet to follow after her. In a way he felt that he was being isolated from Satine, not the other way around. Christian looked down the hall way as Dr. Kovac and a nurse took her away.

"Baby come back!" Christian said, finally finding the strength to move his feet and go after her. "I thought that we would last forever!"

Satine waved her hand to Christian. "Don't speak..."

"But now you're gone, I can't go on. I'm all alone." Christian sang. "Tonight I'm only thinking of you. Feeling sorry for myself is all I can do. Baby come back!"

Satine waved her hand again and blew a kiss to Christian. He felt tears go down his face as the elevator doors closed. And that was it. Satine was gone. Christian stood there in front of the elevator doors for a long time, bewildered as to why his wife and child had to be taken away.

Sometime later, Christian wasn't sure how much time had passed; Dr. Kovac lightly touched him on the shoulder and said, "Satine, would like to see you. She's worried about you."

Christian nodded and headed up to see Satine.

As Christian rode upstairs in the elevator he felt his mind cloud and a bright light blinded him making him stumble back against the cool metal wall of the compartment. A searing pain across his forehead chased the vague feeling from his mind and he felt an arm reach out to steady him. Christian opened his eyes and found Dr. Kovac was there, steadying him.

"Don't worry, a lot of first time fathers go slightly faint when their wives are in labour," he said with a smile. "I should know, I fainted both times my wife gave birth and I'm a doctor!"

Christian smiled back weakly, feeling overwhelmed and confused, as though time had passed leaving him behind. As the doors opened, he found himself being led into the maternity ward and he could hear the sound Satine crying out in pain.

Christian felt his heart plummet and he ran in the direction of her voice. "Satine?"

"Christian?" she called back with another moan.

"I'm here, I'm here!" he replied as Dr. Kovac let him into the delivery room where Satine was lying on her back in a surgical gown, he auburn curl dampened with perspiration and her delicate features tormented by the pains of her contractions.

Satine took her husband's hand and gazed up into his face. "Darling," Christian whispered, stroking her hair back from her face. "I'm here."

She gasped for breath as another contraction assailed her. "I need you to push," said the doctor who was waiting to deliver the baby. "After three, okay, Satine?"

"Okay," Satine replied, she grasped Christian's hand with even more force. "Help me through this."

"Okay," Christian replied, not knowing what to, though realising that the blood was draining from his face at the thought of their baby being born.

"One..."

Satine drew in a sharp breath.

"Two..."

She crushed Christian's knuckles.

"Three... push!"

Satine screamed as she pushed and increased her grip on Christian's hand. He held her shoulders up as she arched up from the bed.

"And keep going..."

Christian smiled at Satine, "Come on darling, push... breath in, out, in..."

"I know how to breathe!" she snapped at him.

He didn't say anything after that, but his hand felt as if it would never recover into the shape it had once been.

Then suddenly the sound of a baby's cries filled the room. "Keep pushing," the doctor reminded her.

Satine complied and threw a glance at Christian, "Sorry, darling."

"You're doing so well, Satine," he replied.

The doctor smiled, "You can stop now." Satine collapsed back onto the bed and Christian stroked her forehead as she panted from her exertions.

"Here's your beautiful daughter," the doctor said, as she placed a bundle of sheets in Satine's arms. Christian first caught sight of a tiny hand waving for help from amongst the waves of material surrounding it. Satine fell back into Christian's arms and touched the angelic face of their daughter with her for finger. She had clear blue sapphire eyes and a fine mouth, which, when she saw her parents, bowed into a small smile.

Tears streamed down from Satine's eyes and Christian stared down into the face of their daughter, transfixed by the cherubic apparition before him. He was a father; he and Satine had a family.

"She's beautiful," he breathed, smiling in delight as their daughter curled her miniature hand around one of his fingers. "She's perfect. Just like you."

Satine tore her gaze away from her child and her eyes melted into Christian's. "I never thought I would have a child," she whispered, tears threatening to break her speech, "I never believed I could have a child with the man I loved."

She broke down into floods of tears, a smile fixed on her lips as Christian drew her into an embrace she couldn't help be absorbed by.

Christian's eyes could not be adverted from his brand new baby girl. He couldn't believe something that him and Satine had created was finally here, was finally a little person for them to hold. Christian reached out to touch his baby's tiny delicate hand, and the baby grasped his large index finger in response.

"Satine look at that!" Christian said excitedly, with a slight chuckle. "She's got my finger! Oh, I know she'll be a troublemaker for sure."

Satine nodded and smiled. "She got that from you I bet." Satine handed the baby to Christian and for the first time he held his little girl. Satine sighed and lay back on the bed in exhaustion.

"Are you all right, darling?" Asked Christian, bouncing the baby in his arms.

"I'm fine. I'm tired, but fine." Satine said. "Don't worry about me. Shall we give our little bundle of joy a name?"

"Amelie." Christian said. "Amelie Lawrence. It has a nice ring to it, don't you think?"

"I love it!" Satine said. "And I love you and our daughter." She reached over to kiss Christian. At that moment, Dr. Kovac entered carrying a bright bouquet of flowers.

"Oh, excuse me." Dr. Kovac said upon seeing them embrace.

"Please come in Luka. I want you to meet Amelie." Satine said.

Christian was a bit annoyed by Luka's intrusion, but it gave him a chance to show off his baby. After all, Christian didn't think he was that bad, he took great care of Satine for him.

"She's a lovely girl. Christian, you must be very proud." Luka said, feeling a bit of jealousy and sadness due to his own children he lost.

"Thank you." Christian and Luka engaged in small talk. They did not notice that Satine had drifted off into sleep.

"I guess our boring conversation put Satine to sleep." Christian joked. Dr. Kovac looked over at her and the look on his face became very grave.

"Her breathing is laboured." He said.

"Well s-she just h-had a baby." Christian said with a tremulous voice. Then Christian jumped as her pulse ox monitor went off on a series of loud and persistent beeps. Amelie, still being cradled in Christian's arms, began to cry at the sudden noise.

"We need to get her back into the isolation ward right away!" Dr. Kovac began to push Satine's bed out of the maternity room.

"Dr. Kovac! Dr. Kovac what's happening?" Christian asked.

"Christian, Satine's condition is getting worse. I'm afraid she might not make it." Dr. Kovac left in a hurry taking Satine with him.

Christian's jaw dropped. His head began to spin from all the noise and fast movements around him. The cries of his daughter, Dr. Kovac's voice, the beeping from the monitors all seemed to echo and fade away from him. Christian sat down in a chair, hoping this wave of dizziness would pass him quickly. He closed his eyes and squeezed them shut for a long time. When Christian opened his eyes he was no longer sitting. He looked in his arms for his daughter but she was gone. Looking around, Christian noticed he was back on the streets of Montmatre. Everything was familiar once again. And most importantly Satine was there, with his little girl.

"Christian, are you all right?" Satine asked. "It looked as if you were dreaming or something."

Christian kissed his wife and his daughter. "Oh love, I had this awful dream that you almost died."

***


PARIS 1900


Christian looked around himself once more and found that they were together in his garret overlooking Le Boulevard de Clichy, the spires of the Sacré-Coeur penetrating the cloudless sky and the red sails of the Moulin Rouge stilled as though they dare not draw attention to the dark underworld of the night on such a beautiful day. Suddenly it seemed to him that the inexplicable shift in time and place was nothing unusual and an indescribable calm settled upon his arm as he gazed through the open window to the sky.

Satine was pacing in front of the window where they had once sat together, though it seemed so long ago, their bodies pressed together as he held her in his arms and murmured lines of poetry into her ear. In Satine's arms she held Amélie, the quiet sounds of her gurgling drawing a smile from his lips.

Christian wandered over to his wife and took her in his arms, peering over her shoulder into the face of their daughter as he slid her hands around her tightly corseted waist.

"Let's leave Paris," Christian murmured, planting a soft kiss upon Satine's neck. "Buy a house in the country, grow old together and watch our children grow up."

She smiled, "With what? You have no money and I don't have a job anymore."

"What about the show?" Christian asked, his confusion evident in his voice.

Satine sighed, "I honestly wonder where your mind is half the time, Christian. The show was cancelled, remember. The Duke withdrew his endorsement and Harold had to sell the theatre."

"Oh, I remember," Christian whispered, not really remembering at all.

"What's the matter, Christian?" Satine asked, turning around and studying Christian's face. "You keep doing this to me."

He didn't say anything for the moment. He tried to mask the confusion that was starting to encroach upon him again. "Oh, I don't know... I'm just tired, I suppose. Having to get up for this little one during the night." He stroked Amélie's cheek and she gurgled and smiled.

Her parents both grinned broadly. Satine sighed, "I know, you've been wonderful, darling. How many more shall we have?"

"At least a dozen," Christian replied, trying to suppress his grin.

Satine's eyes widened fully and then she narrowed them with a coaxing smile, "Are you sure you can manage that?"

"Easily," Christian replied breathlessly. "I always like a challenge."

Satine raised an eyebrow; "I'll hold you to that. How about a demonstration of your skills, just so I can be sure you're not bluffing."

Christian traced a line down her cheek and leaned into kiss her, "Truth, Satine. I'm not bluffing."

Satine suddenly turned her head away from Christian and she passed him the baby. Christian frowned and took Amélie in his arms.

Satine's face was flushed and she started to cough, her body racked with violent tremors. Christian looked on nervously, "What's the matter, darling?"

She waved her hand at him and she took a few deep breaths. In seconds the coughs had died down, and she turned back to Christian, a weak smile upon her blood stained lips.

Christian gazed at the red glaze on her mouth and lent forward, pressing his fingertips to her lips and withdrawing them at once. He stared at the blood on his fingertips and shook his head. "Oh, darling," he breathed.

Satine burst into cascades of hot, salty tears.

Satine cried. She cried very hard. Her eyes were bloodshot and overflowing with tears, dripping down her pink cheeks like raindrops on a windowpane. She grabbed a handkerchief and blew her nose.

"I'm so sorry Christian." Satine said through her sobs. "I should have told you. I'm so sorry."

Christian carefully set Amelie down in her bassinet. "It's consumption isn't it?"

"I didn't tell you but I should have. Oh Christian I wanted to protect you and our baby." Satine placed a hand on Christian's cheek. "Do you forgive me?"

Christian did not know what to say. He felt so many emotions at once and couldn't find any words to tell Satine how he truly felt.

"Everything was going so well." Christian sat down on the windowsill. "I married the love of my life, we had a child together and now it's all gone to hell." He suddenly turned from sadness to anger, and he too, began to release hot salty tears of his own.

"It's not fair!" Christian yelled. "Nothing has ever gone right in my life!"

Satine put a finger to her lips. "Shh, you'll wake Amelie!"

Christian ignored her. "All my life I have struggled to achieve happiness and when I do get even a little bit of it, it all shatters to pieces!"

"Christian Lawrence you should be lucky for what you do have!" Satine said.

"No. My wife is dying. My daughter will be without a mother." Christian ran a hand through his hair and paced the small room so he could stop himself from exploding with anger. "I...I have to go for a while."

Christian left Satine and Amelie alone in the dark garret. Satine started to cry softly, as did Amelie, awoken from her catnap due to her father slamming the door on his way out. Satine reached over for her daughter and kissed her. "Ma cherie, I won't be with you much longer, but your father will and he will take good care of you. Je t'aime."

***

Sometime later Christian returned to his garret. He had spent the night walking the streets of Montmartre thinking of all that had just been laid before him, but not before drowning his sorrows in absinthe at a local bar.

"Royal Canadian blended, the spicy aroma had mended me," mumbled Christian to himself. "Matured for years and imported, into my glass you poured it." Christian stopped in his tracks as a wave of dizziness passed over him from too much alcohol.

When he entered the garret, Christian saw Satine lying in bed. Even on her deathbed, Christian thought she still looked beautiful.

"Satine, I love you. Don't leave me." Christian said. He knelt down beside her and took her hand and kissed it.

"You've been drinking." Satine said, her nose scrunching at the scent.

"I don't know what else to do. Oh love don't go."

Satine coughed and gasped for air. "I love...you."

"No! If you can't stay for me, at least stay for Amelie!" Christian said, feeling a lump in his throat. He swallowed. "I know I acted cross earlier and you have every right to be angry, but Amelie is an innocent child!"

"Take...good care of...her," Satine said as her breaths became shallower.

"Please Satine. Oh God no!" Christian began to cry as Satine took her last few breaths. Satine squeezed his hand. Christian squeezed back and held on until Satine gave up and her grip was loosened from his. Christian kissed Satine on her lips, tasting the salty reminder of the horrible illness that took her life. He held her in his arms and fell asleep with her on the bed.

Christian had rolled off the bed. He was now awake, sitting on the floor, a bottle of absinthe in his hand. He stared at the bassinet across from him where his daughter slept. It was just her and him now. Amelie started to cry. Christian did not move right away, he wasn't even sure if he was hearing her.

Christian picked his weak body up from the floorboards, his head clouded by the excessive quantities of absinthe he had imbibed. He glanced back at the bed, only to find that Satine's body lay there, blood on her open mouth, her eyes shut in permanent sleep. A dull ache pressed against his skull as if it had been placed in clamp. Christian felt the warm sensation of salty tears falling down his cheeks as he walked over to the bassinet.

Amélie was crying, her soft wails filling the small garret and sending sharp bursts of pain through his head. The cries spilled out of the open window and down into the streets of Montmartre, which were heavy with the dark night air.

Christian wiped his cheeks with the back of his hand and fixed his gaze on their daughter. He reached down and picked Amélie up, holding her close to his chest and gently rocking her in his arms.

"Shh, shh," Christian whispered past the lump in his throat. "Daddy's here, it's okay."

Christian glanced at Satine's still figure and felt his eyes sting. He caught sight of Amélie's small face and he opened his mouth to sing softly. "Baby love, my baby love..."

She stopped crying, her small hand reaching up to touch her father's cheek. Christian could not hold back the grief and despair any longer and he felt tears run down his face and from his open mouth, not song but soft guttural moans flowed forth.

He closed his eyes and pressed Amélie closer to his chest, wanting to keep the part of Satine in their child as close to him as possible. Suddenly, she started crying again and Christian opened his eyes, the air burning them as he gazed down into his child's face.

"Sorry, I'm sorry," he murmured. He sniffed and blinked away his hot tears. "What are we going to do without her. You'll have no Mummy. And God knows I won't be much of a father. Just you and me..." He touched her cheek. "Oh you're cold... here," he wrapped her in Satine's shawl.

Suddenly Amélie stopped crying and Christian saw her smiling at him. "You like playing dress-up, Amélie?" He smiled slightly by impulse, feeling a faint sense of joy at his daughter's toothless smile whilst he felt as though his grief were eating him alive. Amélie let out a little yawn.

"You're tired, aren't you?" Christian whispered, feeling very drowsy at the very mention of sleep. His limbs were heavy and the room swam before his eyes like a fauvist painting. "Let's go to bed then, Mummy's already there and we can all get in together and keep warm, see."

Christian laid down on the bed and placed Amélie between him and her mother. Satine looked as though she were in deep sleep, her bloodied lips half parted, waiting for that first sweet kiss that would resurrect his Sleeping Beauty. Christian curled up beside them, shivering in his shirtsleeves. He pressed his cheek against the pillow, some of Satine's auburn hair spilling across the linen so that it touched his skin.

He could feel his eyelids grow heavy, but he knew that the only sleep he would be rewarded with would be a fitful one of cold sweats and suicidal panic. Beside the bed on a table stood a bottle of sleeping draught, prescribed to him after the opening night of Spectacular! Spectacular! by the doctor. He was exhausted, and the temptation of a night of deep, undisturbed sleep drew him to the small blue bottle like a fly to honey. Christian barely had enough strength to put the bottle to his lips.

He let the empty vial fall from his fingers, rolling onto the floor and hitting the empty absinthe bottles with an empty sound. Papers of printed prose flew off his small desk by the window as the wind blew in the night air and the sounds of night time Montmartre as Christian rolled back onto his side and took his daughter into his arms, the phantom of the child he never fathered laying with a constant pressure against his chest as he shifted into the limp arms of Satine, her misty figure barely resting on the linen. Christian closed his eyes, the sleeping draught making him forget the sights of the Moulin Rouge, whose sails were stilled and whose stage was still set for a second performance of Spectacular! Spectacular! which would never be played out.

He felt his heart rate slow and the blood pounding in his head and ears ceased to be so loud, the absinthe and the medicine playing their part in a terminal tango. Christian forgot that the only truth in his hallucinations was their demonstration of his dependence on drink, and he believed that the gentle pressure about his body were the arms and body of his wife and child though he lay alone in his garret, the pages of his and Satine's story floating about the empty bottles of alcohol.

Christian succumbed to a temptation more deadly and enticing than the Green Fairy and felt his breath escape his chest, his mind lost many months ago and his body now obeying the firm command of narcotics, as they gave him peace and stole his breath.


The End




Songs Used:

Christian's Lonely Room
1) Alcohol - Barenaked Ladies

At the Admin Desk
2) (I Would Do) Anything for Love - Meatloaf
3) Why Can't You Behave - Cole Porter (from 'Kiss Me, Kate')
4) Girls Just Wanna Have Fun - Cyndi Lauper
5) I Wanna Be Loved By You - Marilyn Monroe

In the Examination Room
6) Chestnuts Roasting Over an Open Fire
7) Baby it's Cold Outside

Satine is to be Isolated
1) Don't Leave Me This Way - Thelma
2) Come What May - MR
3) So In Love - Cole Porter (from 'Kiss Me Kate')
4) Can't Take My Eyes Off You - Andy Williams
5) Your Song - Elton John
6) Hey Baby - No Doubt

Christian Gets the Wrong Impression
1) Don't be Stupid (You Know I Love You) - S. Twain & RJ Lange
2) Don't Speak - G. Stefani
3) I'm Holding on to Love to Save My Life - S Twain & RJ Lange
4) I Can't Live (If Living is Without You) - ?
5) Come What May - MR
6) All You Need is Love - J. Lennon & P McCartney
7) Baby Come Back - Soul Decision

Return to the Garret
1) Sober - Muse
2) Baby Love - Dina Ross & The Supremes