Words are difficult for Christian de Neuvillette. When he opens his mouth to speak, suddenly, his tongue goes numb and brain fizzes. He stumbles and stutters and the eloquent, impossibly beautiful colors that swirl in his mind shudder out of his mouth and lie ugly against the air. He'd never been a Cyrano. He'd never be a Cyrano.
Christian de Neuvillette is not an intelligent man. From a young age, he'd struggled and struggled against the education of a future Baron when all he wanted to do was study beetles and dance. From a young age, Christian de Neuvillette was told he was dumb, an idiot, an imbecile and worse. As a teen, Christian endured with a strained smile the playful jeers of his peers, struggling to understand the strange interactions between friends and foes that he'd always stood outside of.
Christian de Neuvillette is average, except for his pretty face. Christian de Neuvillette is average, is average, is average, is average-
Christian doesn't say a word, doesn't know if he could ever even begin to explain the way he can feel the heartbeats of everyone around him, his own pounding wetly against his chest or the way he can see shards of light sprinkled around a candle or the way each voice has its own particular taste and color and hue. He doesn't say a word about his hatred of unexpected changes or inability to naturally understand how people work. He doesn't say a word about any of the insatiable subjects he'd fallen in love with over the years- he'd learned, quite early on, that no one cared to hear a young man talk for hours on beetles or clouds.
Christian de Neuvillette is average and dumb. Were it not for his handsome countenance and his fair inheritance, no women would have glanced at him twice.
Words are difficult for Christian de Neuvillette and sometimes, he finds himself struggling to breathe. When he stands beside Cyrano and hears his beautiful arias and stanzas, his head buzzing in pleasant stupefaction, the words slip straight through him as the deep hum of the man's voice rumbles through his chest and Christian loses track of time. Words are difficult for Christian de Neuvillette; after all, he is only handsome. Pretty boy Christian. Brainless beauty de Neuvillette.
Words are difficult for Christian de Neuvillette, but that's okay because everyone knows he is dumb. It's okay.
He falls in love with Roxane.
He falls in love with Roxane and she falls in infatuation with his beauty and he knows she is part of Les Prècieuses and his heart is filled with lead; it is shadowed, a sickly, dark red thing the flavor of stale pepper. His eyes ache. Words are difficult for Christian de Neuvillette, but that's not okay because Roxane wants elegance and beauty enshrined in speech and Christian…
Cyrano flies in, his own knight in shining armor, writing letters and throwing gold-dusted elegance around like common sand and Roxane and he are together and it's beautiful, for a time. Then, overconfidence stampedes in and Christian is thrown to earth. After all, Christian is average and dumb, and words are difficult and he should have known better.
He goes back, begging, to Cyrano. The words crawl through a constricted throat like sandpaper and he wants to cry, perhaps, or curl into a ball, but none of those would do any good. So he listens to Cyrano's beautiful voice, words strained and halting as he warbles up to his beloved, until he feels a sharp push from behind and Cyrano takes his place.
He watches for a second, from where he landed. He sees Cyrano moving, his body almost like a dance, and yet he doesn't understand any of it. His words are sugary and airy- Meringues-like, he realizes. The words of Cyrano muddle their way through the confusion and chaos boiling in his mind, like so many steam vents, and- marriage.
He is to marry Roxane-
Why does he feel so strange?
When the marriage has passed and Christian goes home- it is nearly day and they really were quite in need of sleep- he locks himself in his room, trembling.
There should be joy. He thinks he feels it, underneath the numb confusion and itching of his skin. His head hurts. Hours of standing against bristling tree branches, squeaking creatures, Cyrano's practically arrhythmic heartbeat, and the smells, sounds, feel of being outside with no escape-
He curls on his bed, fingers pressed tightly into the sleek, tan muscles of his arms. He's shaking, he knows that- knows he's not capable of speaking and so glad (and isn't it wrong? awful?) that he doesn't have to spend the night with his wife. God, his wife. Too much. It is all too much. Too much change, too much input, too much noise. When he'd started courting Roxane, he never imagined the speed of which they would be brought together, whether by the combined potential of Average-Dumb-Pretty Christian and Extraordinary-Brilliant-Talented Cyrano, or the world around them, which beat the drums of war.
And then, he's thrust into war and hunger and fear and pain. Cyrano writes letters to Roxane and Christian reads them and every word is drilled into his heart in roses and greens and cinnamon, a dreadful longing and secret wish squirreled away in his heart. He somehow manages to get a tent to himself and it is his refuge amongst the clanging of swords and babbling of hundreds of men herded into a small space. He's jumpy, irritable, and hardly verbal as time passes. As hunger sweeps the camp, his beauty erodes away along with his body. Christian, already slight by nature and sensitive tastebuds, withers away. He grows quieter and quieter, words slower and simpler and even now, even with war banging against them in streaks of black and silver, they tease him. Always lightly, always in jest- Christian the idiot. Christian the fool. Gullible Christian. Dumb Christian. 'Just can't get the words out, huh, Christian?'.
Then his beautiful darling arrives and all the hopes and fears that had torn him apart the past few weeks collapse on him as he confronts Cyrano and searches for the truth; did Roxane truly love him? Or did she love Cyrano, the man she thought was him?
Somewhere in his heart, he knows. And yet, he speaks, and yet, he turns away. She loved Cyrano, and neither of them knew it. She must know. They must know- and god, if he knew how had they not? They, who both were smarter than he? A swell of gray anger crackles inside him and-
A suicidal battle comes to their doorstep and Christian knows his death is coming- he can feel it in the air and a bullet finds his body. The world explodes into colors and smells and sounds and Christian can feel Cyrano's rumbling tenor and Roxane's quivering soprano as the words slowly sink into Christian's mind and a smile melts onto his pallid, bloodless lips and his hands flicker in the softest, cruelest echo of happiness.
And so he dies.
Christian, in truth, was not average or dumb or uncreative. He was, instead, beautiful and clever and creative; his mind was spirals of undiscovered galaxies, metaphors and colors spilled across its spread like a Milky Way as asteroids and comets burst across the sky. Christian instead, was simply a man.
Eyes swiveling towards a soft, gentle light, Christian glanced back at Cyrano and Roxane and nodded his head. "Good luck," he whispered, floating into the embrace of the light. Warmth flowed across his incorporeal body and he faded. The last thing that remained of him were the bright, laughing eyes of a man who died far too young.
And so he died.