@kadarakings okay I hate you because now I’m actually thinking about this gd Moulin Rouge AU. I haven’t written fanfiction since I was like 12, but here’s a long ass synopsis that I’m literally making up as I go.
Scott Ryder is a young Romantic searching for freedom, beauty, truth, and above all else: love. His mother always urged him and his sister to fall in love once, but a life lived under his father’s strict rules made it difficult for him to follow her advice. He enlisted in the Marines as soon as he was old enough, following in his father’s footsteps, and has spent the last five years watching others go off on to bigger and better things. However, he finally gets his wish to see the world after his family is involved in a scandal that tarnishes their name. I have no idea what the 19th century version of AI research would be so you’ll have to fill in that blank yourself lol.
Naive and full of big dreams, Scott is absolutely starstruck by Kadara Port. His father always warned him that the city was full of nothing but criminals and unchecked debauchery - so of course that’s why it’s his first stop. He also hopes it’s the one place where people wouldn’t immediately connect him to Alec Ryder. Scott’s lucky that a smuggler named Vetra Nyx is the first to run into him; anyone else would have mugged him and left him for dead in the Badlands, or so she tells him. Vetra is charmed by Scott’s spirit and takes him under her wing, which is how he ends up spending his first night in Kadara drinking and getting high with a ragtag band of artists and thieves. One man in particular has Scott’s attention, a charming smuggler named (of course) Reyes Vidal. The two are drawn to each other from the moment they meet and after a night of flirting that has Vetra rolling her eyes every time she overhears them, they finally head up to Scott’s hotel bedroom and sleep together. Scott is convinced that this must be love at first sight, and he says as much.
Unfortunately, when Scott wakes up the next morning, Reyes is already gone. Scott is heartbroken and it’s only made worse when Vetra just laughs and tells him, “Welcome to Kadara, kid.” Scott spends every night after that partying with Vetra and her group, low-key hoping that Reyes will turn up, but he never does. One night the gang, already trashed, decide they need to finally show Scott the jewel of Kadara Port and, more importantly, get him laid so he can finally shut up about his one night stand. They take him to Tartarus. It’s a dance hall, a brothel, a place where dreams come true; it’s like nothing Scott has ever seen before. He’s sucked into the club’s wild party and almost forgets why they came in the first place, until suddenly the dance floor goes still and all eyes turn to see the main event. A man dressed in sequins, a mask, and little else descends down upon the crowd like an angel from heaven, sitting in a hoop that’s being lowered from the ceiling. He begins to sing and Scott recognizes him immediately. He turns to Vetra and asks, unable to believe his own ears, “Who is that?” Vetra doesn’t seem to see what he’s seeing, because she tells him, “That’s the Charlatan.” When she notices the lovestuck look on Scotts face she laughs and tells him, “Normally I’d tell you not to get your hopes up, but we came here to cheer you up, right? How would you like to spend a night with Tartarus’ biggest star?” Obviously he loves this idea.
Vetra calls in a favor and gets Scott set up for a night in the Eiroch suit (named such because the building is shaped like a beautiful, colorfully painted eiroch. Naturally.) If you’ve seen Moulin Rouge, you can guess where this is going. Scott professes his love, Reyes is mortified that he’s been found out and adamantly refuses to admit that he even understands the concept of love. Scott can’t believe this of course because how can someone not believe in love? Love is like oxygen! All you need is love! Too bad for Reyes, Scott’s paid up for the night so he has no choice but to listen to this innocent boy’s ridiculous song and dance. But as the night goes on, Reyes softens and finds himself genuinely warming up to Scott. Eventually Reyes admits that he hopes to run Tartarus one day. Being Reyes Vidal gives him freedom, but being The Charlatan gives him power over so many hearts and minds. He says that’s who he really is - that Reyes is just one of the masks he wears - but Scott doesn’t believe him. “I know you’re better than that,” he insists. Reyes shakes his head, because how could Scott possibly know that, but he’s smiling. “You have terrible taste in men.”
After that night, Scott and Reyes carry on a relationship in secret. The Charlatan is supposed to be whoever you want him to be, but no client wants their lover to already belong to another man. If Sloane Kelly, the woman who runs Tartarus, ever found out, Reyes could lose everything. Cue jealousy on Scott’s part - “You’re free to leave me, but just don’t deceive me! And please believe me when I say I love you!” Zita, another dancer and an ex-lover of Reyes’ - only fans the flames, whispering to Scott things like, “why would he ever stay with a penniless army brat when he could have anyone here?” Up until that point Scott had been sure that no one knew who he was, but if Zita obviously realized who’s son he was, then Reyes must know too. Things come to a head when Reyes comes to Scott with a plan to take over ownership of Tartarus, which requires killing Sloane Kelly first. Scott accuses Reyes of using him, saying he’s been leading Scott on just so he can seize power for himself. “I’m not a mercenary,” Scott insists as he storms out, “and you’re not the man I thought you were.”
Things are bad after that. Reyes’ plan goes on without Scott, and all of Kadara hears that its epicenter is under new management. Scott is miserable and inconsolable. He tells Vetra that he was stupid to ever believe in love, to believe that he would ever escape his father’s tarnished legacy. He begins preparing to leave Kadara; the city has lost any of the magic he once saw in it. But!!! As he says goodbyes to Vetra and the group and leaves behind the shabby hotel that’s served as his home, who else does Scott find waiting outside for him but, of course, Reyes Vidal. Scott almost doesn’t hear him out, but Reyes is so earnest and hurt when he tells Scott that he was wrong to have kept his plan a secret, that he just didn’t want Scott to look at him differently. He says that if he has to choose between Kadara and Scott, the choice is easy. He’s given a mutual friend the reins of Tartarus, certain that she’ll treat the dancers better than Sloane Kelly did. The club once seemed like the whole world to Reyes, but ever since Scott showed up things seem so much bigger, and he can’t bear to lose that. Obviously that’s all Scott wanted to hear, he forgives Reyes in a heartbeat, and they live happily ever after seeing the world together and doing whatever the hell they want because they’re free and in love.