eat your young (earinor & marquis)

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    • eat your young (earinor & marquis)

      haven't you heard? the circus is back in town, complete with all kinds of shows and entertainers! new performers line their ranks and old ones have since left, but what does that matter? the entry fee is too good to be true and all the cheering from the big tent, especially during the later shows at night, is bound to attract attention from all around; strangers flock in from different towns in the countryside, just to see that one particular show again, no matter the cost - no matter how long they need to travel, actually. almost as if the performers bewitched their audience and glistening glimmer on their bodies isn't just make-up. if one were to think about that specific circus ... isn't it odd that it always tours around large cities and expansive countrysides, and that their performers seem to change between every other show? no, that's just the normal life of any performer, of course - things change, and sometimes, well, unfortunate accents happen with all those exhausting shows they are putting on; of course some performers also need rest or a break from their profession; the business is booming after all and everyone deserves a good laugh for their dirt-cheap tickets; no wonder they keep replacing inadequate performers!

      at least that's the public opinion - and the director wouldn't have it any other way. schooled in all kinds of deceit and trickery, the faceless trickster not only helms the circus, but also seemingly has made a deal with the devil, if one were to judge by the fact that those inadequate performers are always seen last with him, before he procures another one of his freakishly human dolls ... or maybe he just wants some memorabilia from those he can no longer afford to keep on payroll. x and y have long since given up on doubting their bosses motives; they've worked for him for more than a few years, have experience and never disappoint. without them, what would this circus be? they could very well be the faces of the whole thing, if they were any more self-serving, that is, but why would they be? after all, x uses most of his money to recruit a lost soul into their entourage at every stop, almost as if he felt pity on those who can't afford their shows - y is the one that ends up stuck with the brats sometimes, something he questions often enough, as he watches x bring another one back to their goofy tent, telling them all about the better life they might lead, eventually, if they perform adequately; almost none of them do. but where's the fun and the joy in being a circus performer if ones private life wasn't full of giggles and laughter? probably lost in the ever-present fog guiding them through every other town, as their path is littered with the bodies of the unfortunate.


      The show was over and Louis stood at the exit to wave every child, mother, father and other person goodbye with a big cheery smile. He shook some childrens hands, handed out sweets for the way home and told them that he hoped they'd come back again. Everyone loved the circus, the performance and the whole show, like always, everyone left with a smile, still talking about what had happened and how grand it had been and some were so enthralled, they would have left their head inside, if it weren't attached to their necks. Louis was cheerful for as long as a visitor stepped foot in their domain, even if he was alone, or only among his peers as if he was scared a child could be lurking and seeing his other side, or as if he truly had two sides that only shared a body and nothing else. He was the last to be done with his job, while others were already free to disappear into their wagons, or get something to eat. Some others were still waving everyone goodbye, but Louis was the only one that had to stay and see the visitors off. Once the last person left, he closed the makeshift gate of the makeshift fence they built around their encampment. It was screeching loudly, but Louis had waited until everyone was far enough to not even hear it. Then, as soon as the gate fell into its lock, his smile faded entirely and the spark in his eyes was gone, like a mask he simply dropped. His next stop was the washing area. Half of it was outside, there was no warm water, but he didn't know anything else to begin with. For a moment he contemplated if he should leave todays makue-up on, it covered his scar, but truth be told, he didn't care much about his looks and sometimes didn't even bother covering it during the show. It had its own appeal to some people.

      Today he got rid of all the color he put into his face. Usually he wore a mask at the beginning of the show, but for his own act he threw on a different outfit. For the past months he was in charge of knife throwing, something he always liked to do. There wasn't enough time to change back into his other outfit again, so he ended the show like this. Now that he cleaned his face, he also scrubbed the rest of his body to rid it from all the sweat, the tent was hot most of the time. In the end he threw on some new clothes. They seldomly had truly legere clothing around, most of them trained in their performance outfits too, so they were used to it or could tell if certain pieces of fabric were in the way, thus he still looked like he played a role, even though all the color was gone. He didn't feel like joining the others for dinner, they were eating together, mostly leftovers people didn't buy, instead he took a little walk outside, noting that Josiah was nowhere to be found however - typical. Some time passed and when Louis supposed friend came back home, Louis greeted him, sitting on top of their iron gate, between some letters that spelled >The Mesmerizing Circus<. He spotted the little figure next to him and clicked his tongue. "What are you doing? Bring him back to where you found him at.", he yelled downwards towards the two figures. He had a feeling Josiah would bring in another stray...
    • Performances were the easy part - keeping track of their customers the hard one. Josiah always had had a keen eye for strays, so to speak, and whenever he spotted one in the crowd, he almost got excited, a tad bit too much for his own good. Was it good for him to get happy about a lost soul? Probably not, but on the other hand, he'd be pleased and they had someone else to fill any gaps in their crew again, which meant less work on them, or maybe more on him so he could get the rest of the children to behave and stay in line with the new guy. Whatever the case; of course the contortionist was the one that approached the kid after their show was over, and of course he led them astray and followed them around, pranking about the vicinity of their current location. Sure, he couldn't just take in any kid, but if they proved to be useless, someone else would find a nice place for them, he believed that, and he wouldn't have to worry about them - after all, they were small, dirty and lost, often dressed in tatters, but not this boy, which seemed recently abandoned, but mesmerized by the performers hat and bright hair, he trusted him almost instantly and was guided around without further ado.

      As Josiah hadn't changed his clothing yet, he was still dressed in flashy purple and pink garments, something that definitely suited his pale skin, but on the other hand, would probably distract too much from his performance if he wore it all the time - thankfully, that was an overcoat, and more apparently, this didn't matter anyway. Right now, he grabbed the little one by the hand and guided him back to the gates as he saw the last person disappear out of sight and out of mind; no one was going to come back for this one, huh? Surely, that meant more fresh meat for the taking - fresh blood for the circus, and more people to gossip with. Almost anxiously, the little one hid behind him as they were met with the man on the gate; Louis. The blonde simply giggled and pointed up at the guy defiling their little sign, knowing well enough that his best friend was being an asshat about it - or maybe simply realistic. Or he didn't care for the kids, huh? "I found him in the tent.", Josiah replied with a smile on his lips, guiding the little man towards the gate and opening it for him - he bent back his neck and winked at Louis. "Don't be a downer now, he needs a wash and some food, nothing more. And you should go eat as well, I doubt you already did."
      Looking back, it maybe is like the toy carts you rode when you were a kid. But those toy carts could never go beyond the walls of the lawn. We want to follow the rugged concrete road beyond the wall. As we've grown, we've decided to leave behind the toy cart.
    • Josiah was being smug with Louis and the latter clicked his tongue again. Found him at the tent, huh? He was such an idiot. Louis eyed the boy, he didn't look poor, not like tgr usual lost child that sneaked into the circus without paying, sometimes they were even invited. His clothes looked expensive, not like all of theirs or some street kids and they also looked like they had been recently washed. The boys hair was combed, no knots, no dirt in it, nor on his face or hands - curious, but not really. Maybe his parents forgot him like some did before and when they came looking, the circus was already gone again. Louis jumped down the gate, gracefully at that, all of them had a certain way of moving, after all they either performed, or trained for their performance and did not much else. Now Louis stood infront of his friend and the boy, though he wasn't sure of Josiah still liked him, he was always friendly after all. Even on closer inspection the boy didn't seem like he belonged here at all.

      "I'm sure he finds his way back home if you go to town with him.", he suggested, standing in both their ways now as ig he didn't want to let them in. "As for food, too many people there and I bet this guy is used to fancier things than what we have. He won't last a day." Said guy hid behind Josiah, but also peeked past him, staring at Louis for quite some time now, directly at his scar at that. This was no customer, he wasn't obligated to be nice, the circus was closed." It's rude to stare.", he told the boy who very quickly apologized still hiding behind his new found friend. Louis stared back at him still, with the intention of scaring him. "If these gates close with you inside, they won't open for you again anytime soon. Won't you rather go back into your nice, warm bed in your big mansion, rich kid?", he asked him, but the boy shook his head. "I... I don't have a home...", he answered, his voice breaking. Louis finally averted his gaze, now Josiah would never bring him to town. He crossed his arms and made way for them, making a sound that was supposed to tell Josiah how displeased he was.
    • No decorum, no admittance to defeat, no acknowledgement that Josiah was helping anyone out - Louis hadn‘t always been like that and definitely used to welcome any lost child with open arms. Why did that change? Because of some flames licking at his skin? It didn‘t seem impossible, no, and while nothing was lost in that fire, nothing was gained either. He scoffed with a smile on his lips and held the boys hand tightly - no need to intimidate someone that had less than them. “I would have done that earlier if I could have, Louis.”, Josiah reminded his friend with a smile on his lips, even though his tone seemed slightly flippant. Regardless of that, though, what was there to be lost once they had another capable mouth to feed? Maybe Louis would get off the hook easier, and Josiah wouldn’t need to look out for him and his fatigued form so much, even though he’d miss it, if he were honest. A hum of his own words was all he had for now, for both of them, and he wasn’t going to let this new Louis get to him - that never would happen, not in a million years. Neither of them needed to adhere to the normal rules of this circus, they both knew that they were something else; they were too valuable to be lost, and even if they no longer would be friends one day, they still had to work together.

      "My my, always so charming to the young ones.", the blonde complained, but he was smiling regardless, as if he ruled his own life with an iron fist and every sort of infraction in every passing moment of his existence was but an unwelcome adversary in all the matters he couldn't sort on his own. As he glanced past Louis, he wondered if the boy was hungry, or if he should bring him to sign a contact first; maybe he wouldn't want to stay with them in the first place. Josiah ruffled the youngins hair and gave his friend a rather stern look. "Now now, no need to remind him of what he's lost, will you? Let him enjoy himself, and more importantly, we are no different from him. Not a lot anyway.", he argued as he held the boys hand tightly and gave him a warm smile. "I have someone you should meet first, so how about I bring you there? Louis doesn't mean it, he's usually a nice guy ... he just doesn't like it when you look at him like that, okay?" Or maybe Lou didn't care and just wanted to nitpick. Whether that was the case or not, it mattered little, and right now, he simply let the gate close behind them and guided the kid to the trailer their boss resided in, ushering the poor fellow in there without even asking for as much as his name. "Didn't you just say it's rude to stare?", he asked Louis, who's gaze was fixed onto his nape.
      Looking back, it maybe is like the toy carts you rode when you were a kid. But those toy carts could never go beyond the walls of the lawn. We want to follow the rugged concrete road beyond the wall. As we've grown, we've decided to leave behind the toy cart.
    • "He's not a customer, so I don't care.", Louis answered bluntly, watching the two of them how they finally entered and closed the gate behind them. It screeched loudly once more, then fell into its lock. It always felt like everything fell incredibly silent once it did and Louis took his gaze off of the two and looked outside. Josiah and him never knew a life outside of these gates, at least none they could remember. When he thought back to the times he could remember, he realized how few people they were back then, but the circus grew and the two of them weren't the only familiar faces that traveled the land year after year. When they were younger they used to sneak out from time to time, looking at the city and at a life they didn't know. To Louis it always felt gray and sad, there was no color, little laughter and a lot of brutes that caused trouble. With their little outfits they looked out of place and like beings from another world, he always felt alienated too. Since the fire however Louis didn't leave, not once and Josiah didn't even sneak anymore. He was old enough to go out on his own after all and the ringmaster allowed it.

      "Huh? I don't remember us coming from a rich family... nor do I remember being abandoned.", Louis answered rather rudely, but in all honesty, how were they alike in any way? Maybe they had been abandoned, or they were born here, Louis didn't know and he didn't care much either. He listened more closely when he overheard what Josiah told the little boy and uncharacteristically made a step towards them, yet it was already too late and the boy entered the trailer Josiah urged him to go into. Louis bit his tongue, then looked at Josiah who stayed outside. "Do I look like I give a fuck if you think I'm rude?", he answered harshly, not that he was looking at that idiot anyway. Eventually he gave him a little shove, nothing that would make him topple over, it was more of a gesture than an attack. "Why do you always bring them here right away? Give them a day to show us what they can do. What's the point if they can't stay? How many did you bring last month and how many are still around, huh?"
    • “He’s a kid.”, Josiah corrected him with a sigh and propped his hands up, almost defensively, as his proudly puffed chest deflated and he took of the silly hat atop his hair. There was no magic trick to he had with this, but it was a prop in itself and could be folded together; something that Josiah did, only to grab the piece of reinforced fabric and chastise Louis by tapping his head with it. “We were kids as well, and kids like what the most? Smiles and giggles, and toys and fun. You can’t just act like he, specifically, spat in your soup this morning. Got it? You weren’t always like this, cheer up a bit, or else even the ringmaster will think you’re stuck in your ways.” What if they got tossed? No, he didn’t believe that their father figure - was he even one? - cared much about that. In the end, they were still raised by him, performed for him and their own money; they did all of this to make others smile and to feel good about themselves, no doubt about it, and yet, there was virtually no incentive for them to cause anyone any harm. Why would they? They feasted on what they had, and lost souls weren’t a common occurrence. In the end, every piece fell into place and their puzzled family was complete.

      “Aww, now don’t be like that. I’d say you give a fuck.”, he chuckled, and as soon as Josiah was the one getting elbowed, he already snaked his arm into Louis’, holding it tightly and pulling him closer - the clown simply crashed into the contortionist, who gave him but a silly smile. The scar didn’t look as bad as he made it out to bed, but the missing greasepaint almost felt a bit unfamiliar, despite the time they spent together at this point. Was he more used to seeing him with or without any of that make-up? Josiah couldn’t say, but he inched away as he was asked about the kids and raised and eyebrow. “Why this now? They don’t have to prove themselves immediately, but, you know, knowing him is better than not knowing him - it’s not like he’ll eat them if they fail to look him in the eyes.”, the blonde explained with a shrug of his shoulders and the confidence of an idiot. “Hm, I think it was twelve last month. There’s one and a half left, so that’s a good start, isn’t it? Besides, it’s better they get a chance than to not get a chance. One and a half is a good percentage, especially if you consider their ages.”
      Looking back, it maybe is like the toy carts you rode when you were a kid. But those toy carts could never go beyond the walls of the lawn. We want to follow the rugged concrete road beyond the wall. As we've grown, we've decided to leave behind the toy cart.
    • Louis glared at his former friend for being tapped with a silly hat for no reason. "He doesn't care as long as I do my job and that I do. I have no obligation being nice to some brat, or all of you.", he answered and it was the truth. Whenever they had customers he was the most cheerful person he could be and that person was akin to his former self who adored this circus, everyone in it and everyone who might join in the future. This place was his home after all and everything he knew, but everything had changed. "Besides, I'm not treating him special and if he can't deal with me, he's not cut out for this. All of them think it's like being a guest all the damn time, but it isn't, working here is hard every single day and we don't need people crumbling under the pressure, yet you bring them here, bothering the ringmaster even though they mostly... run off. You think they are better off at some place that is not the city they know? Especially someone like him, you've seen how clean he is, he has a family."

      Louis was suddenly grabbed b his friend who pulled him way too close, with him not being able to stop his body before crashing into Josiahs. He was always silly as if the circus never stopped. "What makes you think that?", Louis asked and once he was let go of, made a huge step back again, while also fixing his clothes. Then he froze for just a moment, before clicking his tongue again. "Don't you think he has better things to do?", he simply asked. "You can't count people in halves... and what about the 10 others that aren't here anymore? You think they fair better now? It wouldn't hurt you to use your brain every once in a while..." Louis made another step away from Josiah. Back when they were younger Louis was the one dragging kids here again and again, there were so many left on the streets with nowhere to go and there at least was a warm meal waiting for them here, but now...? "You're too old to befriend every kid you see...", he commented, but in truth, he was sick of fighting with Josiah. When the door to the wagon opened and his friends attention lay on the boy that came out of it, Louis took the opportunity to bail and go back to his own little cramped place without eating dinner.
    • "He might stay with us, so try to be nicer. I'd not want someone to scoff at me like that if I set foot in an unfamiliar place.", Josiah sighed. What had changed here, and more importantly, why were the two of them so upset for one another and then again upset about one another? That fire had changed everything, truly, but in the end, not only had they learned what not to do, but they had also grown closer together - at least he wanted to believe that, but not a single sound had poured out of his mouth in regards to that, ever since Louis scoffed at every instance where fire could have been as much as mentioned. "What's with that stern assumption? They're kids, you were like them once, all starry-eyed and lost in a world that was stacking its odds against you, and yet, you simply make it harder on those who don't deserve it. What's wrong, Lou? Come on, you can talk to good old Josiah, you know that." But they never really did anymore. All the time they had spent together, close-knit as always, had been nothing but a distant memory that, while nice to think about, tucked at his heartstrings and killed him more than it should. No matter what, neither of them were gonna get anywhere with all of this and they knew as much, hell, they probably even knew that nothing would change anything about this and it sucked, majorly.

      As Louis left, Josiah sighed and ushered the youngin back into the next tent, showing him their crummy dining hall - if one could call a laborious tent something like that - and then went on and on, before finally getting to the fun part. They poor guy wasn't good at juggling, he was bad with jokes and overall, his entire posture and demeanor was a rather shy one. As Josiah thought about it, he figured that this one could simply not do much for them, but then again, maybe he was wrong; maybe he needed nothing more than a slight push in the right direction and everything would be fixed before long. "Now then, what's your name, hm?", Josiah asked as he let himself sink on one of the benches and looked at the little guy, forlorn among the dim lights of the circus that hung low. Surely, Louis would come to see that the work he was putting in here wasn't wasted on anyone, even if he currently acted like it was, and quite frankly, acted like he'd never had problems with what he'd tried. Was it time for bed? He yawned himself, an infectious behavior that, no doubt, would hit the small guy too. Well, stuffing him into the same trailer as some of the other kids wouldn't hurt, and they could work on his talents tomorrow - Josiah wanted to sleep tonight, and not keep a watch out for these lost souls. "Come now, lets think about this some more tomorrow. I bet you are tired."
      Looking back, it maybe is like the toy carts you rode when you were a kid. But those toy carts could never go beyond the walls of the lawn. We want to follow the rugged concrete road beyond the wall. As we've grown, we've decided to leave behind the toy cart.
    • Being nice didn't prepare anyone for anything, but Josiah was still the same kid he was years ago, despite being grown up now. Louis left, keeping his comments to himself, the only thing that changed was that he grew up, he wanted to tell Josiah, and his friend kept stuck in a world he no longer should be in. He couldn't run around naively like that anymore and yet he did, bringing children here every other night, wherever he found them all. They trusted him almost instantly, they still did, the ones that were still here at least. They looked up to him, followed him around the circus and tried to fill his shoes, even though there was really no one that was able to play Josiahs part. He had the only performance no one could fill in for, but Josiah also never missed one in his life. All the while the children here oftentimes feared Louis, because he pushed them, because they needed to succeed in order to stay and they hid behind Josiah, asking him for a break or sweets. Josiah didn't understand it either... he understood nothing and it drove Louis mad, but he also missed his friend.

      The little boy came out of the wagon kind of shaken, but he didn't say much and only grabbed Josiahs hand. He followed him into another tent, one filled with people and at the sight of some of them, he hid behind Josiah, but happily sat with the other children that looked like they were around his age. He ate quietly and when Josiah was ready to leave, he followed him without question. Arthur followed him around, tried out different weird things, but didn't seem to get what Josiah wanted of him. He wasn't good at all that stuff he showed him and only after some time was asked his name. "Arthur.", he answered with a slight smile, looking past him for a second and spotting the one he called Lou before, lurking in the shadows and watching them, though he vanished once he was seen and they were done anyway. "I'm sorry... I'm not very good at... anything...", he mumbled, but seemed less discouraged than one would have expected. "I'll try again tomorrow! I promise!" He smiled and really meant what he said, not knowing that Louis would be in charge of finding a suitable spot for him in the long run, and also for judging him in general. "Where uh.... where will I sleep?"
    • Some things would never change and as much as Josiah was in love with himself, as much did he care for Louis - someone that had forsaken all those things not too long ago; he'd come around, he'd figured, but by now, he figured he'd have to gently sit this guy down and actually talk to him. Then again, maybe he shouldn't push him. What was it that he supposed to do, then? Many more questions swamped his mind, some smarter than the others, and few of them actually discernable from the broken rest of ideas he'd warrily dragged around with himself. As his mind stopped at nothing, he took note of the small one again, of Arthur, whom he had not expected to be aptly named like that; but maybe Lou had been right and this kid was a nobles son, having lost both family and fortune in a dispute, or maybe he simply was lost in a world that wasn't supposed to be his. Tonight, Josiah would neither ask for family nor proof of their whereabouts, but he'd question the kid tomorrow, when less watchful gazes pried upon them and the situation had eased. He hummed, confident in his own ability to gauge a potential newcomer, and yet, he wasn't even sure if this guy would survive the harsh climate of their establishment; not with that shyness, of course.

      "Nice to meet you, Arthur.", he spoke, a smile readily on his face, and Josiah bent over for him, posing as if he'd just finished a show for the little guy that probably had never known about the ins and outs of a circus, or even thought that he'd be doing hard labor at any point in his life. Gods, the children of this world were naive, but so was Josiah, and while he meant no harm upon them, he couldn't help himself; some of them were nothing more than fodder for those that couldn't sustain themselves any other way. "No worries, you have no experience; that's something you have to work at, you know? I'm sure Louis can show you some tricks tomorrow, he is much more of a hard worker than me and knows his stuff." And with that admittance, he winked at the young boy, before returning to a neutral pose and pointing him towards one of the trailers; light flickered through some thin curtains and whether or not the kids were still awake or had all fallen asleep, he couldn't say. "There, with some of the others from earlier. That's alright with you, yes?", Josiah asked, but didn't wait for an answer as he brought Arthur over and knocked for him - before tearing the door open. Inside, some of kids were giggling and throwing some pillows at one another, while an older one was trying to get them to calm down. All it took was for Josiah to clear his throat. "This is Arthur, and he'll be sleeping here for now. Be nice to him, alright?" "We're always nice!", one of the boys in Arthurs age complained. "Liar! You are always so mean!", a girl complained. "Stop fighting!", a third kid called out.
      Looking back, it maybe is like the toy carts you rode when you were a kid. But those toy carts could never go beyond the walls of the lawn. We want to follow the rugged concrete road beyond the wall. As we've grown, we've decided to leave behind the toy cart.
    • Arthur had picked up Josiahs name before, the children were greeting him and calling his name to show him things they learned from the others. He only sat patiently by, but he didn't mind watching others talk and have fun as a silent observer. He almost felt bad for taking Josiahs time away from all of them. "Nice to meet you too!", he gleefully smiled and was excited by the little bow the older one made. He wondered if someday he could also be a role model to others, like Josiah was to so many. When Louis name fell Arthus smile crumbled a bit, but eventually he nodded with a slight smile, not wanting to be rude. In his opinion Louis was scary and he looked scary too, but not as scary as some of the others he'd seen and Josiah trusted him, so why wouldn't he? He followed his new found friend to a trailer from which he already heard laughing and giggling. He nodded at Josiah. "Mhm. They were nice before!", he agreed and let himself be softly pushed in, greeting everyone with a wave of his hand. "Nice to meet you again.", he smiled and one of the girls came forward to give him a pillow. "You can sleep over there.", she told him, pointing at a free spot. He sat down there right away. "We want a story!", one of the other kids shouted meanwhile, towards Josiah whom they didn't want to let go right away.

      Louis usually stayed away from the trailer the kids slept in. He knew they didn't like him, but today he wanted to check what Josiah was doing with Arthur. He was yet to figure out what to do with him, but he had an idea already. Tomorrow they'd see if he was able to do all that. He remembered the times Josiah, some other kids and himself were training together in the tent, mostly laughing and giggling, barely noticing that each passing week one of them never showed up again. Well, it wasn't like there was no fun allowed, as long as their scheduled training was done in time and the results adequate. Josiah almost seemed like he was still one of them, despite his age, or more like he was their older brother. He loved that role, didn't he? Louis gave him shit for being too nice to them, for letting them slack off and also spend his time in the process, but the truth was, it was better like this. Seeing Josiah happy made Louis happy, even after all those years, or because. He rather saw Josiah not growing up and did the hard work himself. Wasn't he always like this? Loading what he could onto himself? That was how he found himself in his current position, in which he had more responsibilities than some others. For tonight he stopped surveilling the premise and went to a more quiet place to look at the stars a bit.
    • "Alright, alright you roustabouts! Get into bed and I'll tell you a story!", Josiah giggled and waited for all of them to calm down and crawl into their respective beds; their equipment wasn't exactly the latest, or the best, but even the beds held up fine and the kids weren't going to sleep on the cold, hard floor - they had worked on a solution for that one. As every single one them would flock to him regardless, he waited until they had clawed their own ways into their beds, had draped their bodies in their blankets and the giggling subsided. There was some gossip, he was sure of it, but he paid it no mind - instead, he let them do as they pleased and started telling a tall tale of the time he and Louis had been but newcomers in the circus, had tried their best to conquer new heights in life and to impress - and that with due diligence, anyone could be like them. This one was exciting, sure, because he was putting some half-truths and borderline lies in it to make it more exciting, but even then, would anyone mind? Nobody here knew the truth expect him, he doubted Louis was listening to this, and Josiah would keep talking until it was silent, so he could blow out the candle and close the door behind him.

      Relief washed through his body as soon as he had the time and strength to leave; this wasn't what he had planned, but he was worn out now and still needed a wash. The cold water kept him awake as he disposed of his clothing and washed any sweat and grime from their performance of - it was frigid, pulled him back to reality and he dreaded the coming winter months when this was all they had and showering was, while still a necessity, nothing that anyone wanted to do. For now, it was fine, though, and the moment he had washed up, had seen it all, he redressed himself in something lighter, more comfortable and returned to his trailer - he could have talked to Louis, he figured, but ... no, not tonight. Tonight was not an option, and he knew that, hell, he didn't even consider it until five minutes ago, when he was convinced he saw this guys shadow dance over his head as the moonlight eclipsed him; he admired Louis, he was strong and capable, even if the children often didn't like them, he would never think any less of him; if the others were still there, he figured they'd also see him in a different light, but times had changed and tonight, it was but him in his bed, thinking back to what had happened not too long ago. Was there anything he could have done for them himself? Maybe, but ... maybe he should just go and talk to Louis now, eh?
      Looking back, it maybe is like the toy carts you rode when you were a kid. But those toy carts could never go beyond the walls of the lawn. We want to follow the rugged concrete road beyond the wall. As we've grown, we've decided to leave behind the toy cart.
    • Louis thought about the children, about what stories Josiah told them and what stories were told to them when they were much younger. They weren't the oldest residents here, there were others that even taught them and still worked, but not many were left. They weren't all replaced by children someone strung along, some performers auditioned and got the job often enough. Compared to how small the circus had been years ago, it grew extensively with more to see and do even outside of the big tent. They had more food going to waste as well, if not for them eating it, though the food they served here was hardly a nutritious meal, especially not for growing young boys. Well, they both turned out okay. If not for the fire and everything that came with it, Louis wondered if he'd still be his old self, who always burst out of him as soon as he welcomed their visitors by the gate and opened it up for them. It wasn't even that he played it, it hardly was any effort, but being harsh and unlikeable came naturally to him too.

      Louis looked at the sky and he looked at the far away lights that came from the nearest town. There were so many things he missed, things he wished he could forget and things he regretted. Funnily enough he missed going to town and awe at the gray and unhappy mass as if that was a circus for them and he missed sharing a wagon with his friend. They long since stopped sharing one. He remembered the times when they sat awake and giggled about little things and the conservative clothing of their guests which was just so alien to them. Just in this moment Louis decided that tonight, he didn't want to be all alone and thus got up and scraped together what was left of food and drinks. It wasn't much and more a gesture of some sorts, with two apples and some water he made his way to Josiahs trailer. He knocked, waited a bit in the cold air that would only grow colder from now on and wondered if he should just leave. Josiah was probably sleeping already, and this had been a stupid idea anyw- The door opened and Louis looked like he was caught stealing. He gathered himself and simply held up what he had brought with a questioning look on his face.
    • Today wasn’t even a particularly bad day; there were worse days than this one, there were gloomy and rainy evenings with loud, thudding thunder that made him almost quiver in fear himself as he helped the kids get over their own feelings - there were whispering winds at night that dragged words to his deaf ears that were never meant to be heard, and sometimes, like tonight, the full moon felt like it was staring down at him, directly into his form and challenging him to be someone he wasn’t, to disrespect any and all boundary he’d set for himself and to hurt himself with thoughts that plagued him. A glass of water was enough of an excuse to get out of here, even if he had neither a glass nor did he feel thirst, and yet, and even then, he had to accept that he was nothing more than entrenched within his own thoughts. Josiah was forcing himself up, closing the curtains and shutting out the moon as something knocked at his door. Was Arthur scared? Did the ringmaster need him? No, that sounded much more different, not like this, and definitely not this late as night. Josiah grabbed a candle and lit it, in hopes of not casting a potential intruder in darkness; he opened the door with a bit of finesse but nothing to spectacular, expecting to meet his maker, and yet, it didn’t seem like it would happen tonight.

      “Huh?”, his gaze fell upon the plates that were brought and he sighed softly; he had raised his shoulders, and those relaxed now, as well as his expression that became less stern - his brows unfurrowed and his taut stance fell slack. “You gave me a spook. Here I thought we were being robbed … but at least it looks like I gave you a bit of a fright as well.” A soft chuckle emanated from the contortionists lips; sometimes he wished he was as versatile as his best friend, able to do what his performances seldom did: Put a smile on peoples lips. To them, he simply was something to gawk at in awe, maybe even something ever so slightly inhuman, but even then, even now, he did his best. Josiah stepped aside so he could welcome Louis within his own four walls - when was the last time they’d slept together in one of these? It had to be years by now and all those nostalgic memories left a bit of a bitter taste in his mouth, the moment they hit him square in the cranium. One of the apples was his, it seemed, and he grabbed it without question, polishing it with the fabric of his night gown - repurposed older clothes that weren’t stuffy, thankfully. “I was about to go look for you, actually.”
      Looking back, it maybe is like the toy carts you rode when you were a kid. But those toy carts could never go beyond the walls of the lawn. We want to follow the rugged concrete road beyond the wall. As we've grown, we've decided to leave behind the toy cart.
    • Louis looked at his friend who had opened the door as if he was expecting something horrible on the other side. They stopped sharing a wagon after the fire. Once Louis was all patched up and his wounds healed enough so he could go back to work, he practically moved out. He wondered how Josiah felt, but he never complained. Well, he rarely did complain about anything. "I doubt a robber would knock on your door...", Louis answered, ignoring the comment about him being scared. He wasn't, he was simply unsure if he wanted to be here. He came here on a whim, maybe a temporary lack in judgement, but now that Josiah opened up, he couldn't just go. Josiah had always been a bit jumpy at night and as kids they both laughed about it and the tricks his mind would play him. Whispering winds, dancing shadows, all that stuff that the children that lived here still spouted and it seemed like Josiah didn't grow out of it either. Well, he wasn't wrong, but still contributed it to his fantasy and imagination.

      Louis finally entered. He hadn't been in here in years, but it didn't look very different. All of Louis things were gone, but other than that, it looked kind of the same. He spotted some bottles of weirdly colored liquids and powders that smelled off on closer inspection and Louis clicked his tongue. "You should stop experimenting with these things... or at least keep them outside and if you want to try a new color on your hair, then at least ask for help..." Louis noticed the burns and scars his friend got from experimenting with chemicals he got from who knew where. Some day his trailer would simply go up in flames like... Louis didn't even want to think about it. Instead he watched Josiah take on of the apples off his hands, only to raise an eyebrow. "Huh? Why...?", he asked a bit defensive. Josiah probably wanted to tell him that he had to touch that delicate new flower of his with care and not break it. Louis sat down on what functioned as Josiahs bed and took a bite of the apple he still held in his hands.
    • The two of them had gotten along splendidly all their life, but now that they were all grown, maybe there were more disagreements than there should have been, especially after what had happened. Josiah was the one that blamed himself in every way, and he had to admit that he could have simply ran, or shoved Louis out of there, and maybe … no, that train had left the station years ago and any kind of regret was misplaced, especially here and now, when nothing that the two of them did would make any kind of sustainable sense for them. “Maybe to check if I’m awake? You never know. Then again, what’s a robber going to steal here? It’s not like we’re rich because we can afford some blinding signs.”, he admitted and marbled at the apples splotchy, red skin. Did he ever like to eat them like that? No, he always peeled them as a kid, but that was over and frankly, maybe both Louis and the ringmaster were right - he shouldn’t just coddle those poor souls, even though it was nothing more than a mere loving gesture towards those that had to earn their keep in a harsh world like this, far too young. They were opposites of the same coin, then, or perhaps something else, somewhat more sinister and yet alike - Josiah could only think about how different they were, from start to finish, and that no matter what, they still were like double yolks in the same egg.

      As he closed the door to his trailer behind Louis, he mused. This was all amusing, truly, but they both weren't here for that - or for any simple matter, no? This was bound to be something more than just an average late night talk, even if he had to admit that he wished it not to be. As silence eradicated it all out of sight and mind, Josiah bit into his apple, still crisp and definitely cold - nice. "What if the children touch them? I don't want that. And besides, there's nobody in here but me. I don't have to worry like this, and you know I wouldn't stop blaming myself if something happened to any of the kids.", he soon admitted, shaking his head as he leaned against the table, obscuring the colorful chemicals from Lou's view, as he covered them up with his scrawny body and leaned back, trying to see eye to eye with the guy that had it worse than he did, especially when the topic of burns came up. "Ask who for help? You? No. I don't want you to get hurt either, and I know that you'd rather wind down after keeping that smile on your face all day long." That was that. They had grown apart, despite being interconnected within their own fate. There was no reason for them to fight, but also no reason for them to keep caring for one another ... right? "Well, you see, we never really talked about how you felt after the fact, and the ringmaster did keep us out as much as he could to avoid any infections, so ... weren't you lonely?"
      Looking back, it maybe is like the toy carts you rode when you were a kid. But those toy carts could never go beyond the walls of the lawn. We want to follow the rugged concrete road beyond the wall. As we've grown, we've decided to leave behind the toy cart.
    • "I wouldn't worry about any robbers...", Louis mumbled. In all these years they never have been mugged before. Some people stole some food here and there but that was about it and it only happened while they were open and it ought to. Louis would have been surprised if there wasn't anything missing every now and then. At the same time Louis visit probably came as a surprise, it was a first since the fire after all. If anyone vitised it was Josiah visiting him, though he rarely was let inside and even then, it mostly ended in some sort of argument. There were so many things Louis wanted to tell him, but he could not and while he at least tried to give him some signs, he mostly didn't get it. He was still unable to talk about anything and it wasn't why he came here in the first place. He didn't quite know why he came here, but at least Josiah seemed to enjoy the apple he brought and Louis took another bite of his own as well, it was his dinner after all.

      "There are places they don't go to and locks in place, near the cages for example.", Louis answered, noticing how Josiah tried to hide the trinkets that displeased Louis seemingly. He was far too thin for that, but Louis didn't look there anymore anyway. "Why not me? Everyone asks me to help them with their make-up as well, what's the difference?", he asked. Most came to him reluctantly, or they waited for a rare occasion during opening hours when he was more bearable. He still did it, whatever time it was and sometimes just tried a new look that went with new clothing they sewed. He liked doing it if he was honest. "I won't hurt myself and... smiling is no work at all either..." The last few words he mumbled barely audible. It wasn't an act, but it was... hard to explain, even to himself. When Josiah started about the incident however, Louis averted his gaze. "That's what you were going to see me for?", he asked defensive and annoyed, only to add "Can we not talk about that...?" more timidly. He knew why Josiah kept bringing it up, his friend was a different person once all of it was over and he was ready to work again. Anyone would ask questions.
    • "More about the mice, then? I mean, I'm pretty sure Constance eats them all anyway, but then again, she is one lazy snake sometimes.", Josiah admitted. Constance was one of their snakes, kept in a cage, maybe not fitting for her size, but she rarely complained, except maybe when somebody tried to manhandle her, shortly after she had her own fill of food. To him, these things weren't expensive status symbols or something like that, they were colleagues that just kept to themselves and were rather shy when it came to speaking; not once did he bother them, but alas, Louis wasn't a boa constrictor all of a sudden and lost his ability to retain human speak, and therefore, Josiah would still ask questions, over and over again, no matter how long it took them. As he brought down his simple question, he was swatted away with a bat and told that his behavior was of the unappropiate kind, filled with as much chance in succeeding as a knife trick that one of the two of them had mastered in his youth. Josiah sighed and buried his teeth within the apples core, eating away at it as he listened to Louis regardless. If so, they'd be no step closer to the truth, and yet, why would he even care for it? His mismatched locks were part of the show, much like his friends smile.

      "What if mice get in? I'd have to take care of the gore they leave behind, then again, they also could get into it here, so I suppose it's not much of a difference. But why do you care about that? They are closed, the fumes don't hurt, and it's not like they'll explode.", he argued, his tone still soft and his voice enthralled by tiredness. Josiah was not one to pick fights over his own wrongdoings; he picked fights on the behalf of others, and yet, he knew that he maybe shouldn't, or perhaps would do well if he just avoided any sort of conflict. No matter the cost, no matter the consequence, it all came down to the usual motive of selfishness in his own case. "You'll burn your hands. You need those. I appreciate the offer, but you already have one more kid to fancy up if he sticks with us, and I'm old enough to care for myself. I know you worry for me." But it was useless for him to go out of his way and do something that would only pain him. Josiah was aware that the skin on his neck was already burned, that his nape was numb and that the scarring would never heal, and yet, he had only himself to blame and didn't want it any other way. "Huh? Are you sure?", he suddenly inquired with a grin on his lips. "Not all work either, he says ... I have no reason to not believe you, but I want you to know that if you'll help me, you'll hurt me, even if you don't hurt yourself, alright? Can you take that?", he infered. That was one burden to carry for sure. "Yes, that was. It plagues my mind, especially on nights like these, when I barely can get some shut-eye because everything makes my hair stand on edge. It's silly, I know." But even then, the wind would only whisper funny tales to him, but in such a booming voice, it scared him to death. "We don't have to. Whatever else did you have on your mind? Why did you come here?"
      Looking back, it maybe is like the toy carts you rode when you were a kid. But those toy carts could never go beyond the walls of the lawn. We want to follow the rugged concrete road beyond the wall. As we've grown, we've decided to leave behind the toy cart.
    • "She can only eat what finds its way to her.", Louis reminded his friend whom he looked at somewhat puzzled. He wasn't scared of mice, was he? Sure, they were an annoyance and sometimes ate away on their food, but that was it. In the end this guy just wanted to lighten the mood probably. It was funny, when the circus opened his door he was easy to talk to, friendly and the one to tell a joke to a crying child so it cheered up, but right now he couldn't access that person, that side of himself at all. It took everyone some adjusting, but to Josiah it probably was still strange. They rarely had opportunity to talk during opening hours however, Louis was mostly very busy, caring for everyones needs, customer and colleagues alike. Louis finished his apple and placed the remains on a free space he found on the counter for now, he'd bring it out later, when he left again. Some apple juice remained on his fingers and he wiped it off on his clothes.

      "They could explode, or burn...", Louis was quick to answer. "And you are the only one that can do your perfromance. You should take better care of yourself." Louis truly didn't come here to fight, but it seemed like it always was the case when they started communicating with eachother and he couldn't help it. "I'd be careful.", he continued arguing. Did Josiah always worry this much? Maybe he didn't want Louis around after all this time? "I'm sure.", he replied questioning the grin on Josiahs lips. For a moment Louis paused. "It's supposed to go on your hair, nowhere else and you don't feel anything in your hair right? If you'd let me help you, you wouldn't hurt yourself anymore and I wouldn't hurt you either." If he was able to put on make-up for everyone, he was also able to apply some mixture onto some hair with a brush and without slipping. Josiahs openness struck him by surprise anyway though, but he had no answers for him. He sighed and that was that. It was him knocking on Josiahs door and not the other way around though, that much was true. "I dunno... Just to sit here, I suppose...?"
    • "Soo, we have to catch more mice for her. How about it? You, me and a broom.", he suggested. They had enough traps laid out, and even when they caught one, it always did depend on if it was a simple trap or if it had eaten some sort of chemicals that were tossed around on purpose - feeding an expensive snake a poisoned carcass was besides the point anyway, and worse yet, they couldn't really afford to lose her, could they now? Even still, Josiah relaxed his entire stance as he sat back on the table facing his bed, crossing his legs and rubbing his temples. A wave of questions was brewing in his head and the smile on his lips was nothing more than a neutralized gesture; even when he cried, he tried smiling, and even when he was pained, he was smiling through it - Lou knew it, that much was apparent. "And you don't want a repeat of that, I get it. Alright, I'll go talk to him tomorrow and see where I can store them. Just a high enough shelf should discourage anyone from getting up there.", he mused to himself and took notes - mentally, at the very least. The kids were plenty curious and Josiah himself was incredibly lost on the premises of their everchanging circus half the time. In no point in time did he believe himself to be at some sort of advantage.

      "We'll find another kid, you just need to know how to bend yourself - it's more ... hm, how do I explain? Sometimes I'm not sure if the fabric of my clothing can stretch as much as I can, and besides, this is childs play. I can perform injured, no worries!", Josiah claimed, and almost as if to prove it, he grabbed his own leg, pulled it up as if it were that hard for him, and contorted it slightly, just so that he now looked like it had been attached the wrong way around, or maybe so it seemed like he was in pain. That wasn't the case, but even then, he grinned like an idiot about it - Josiah was infallible and he was the one that couldn't help but sigh as he untwisted his body. "Look, anyone can learn that, and as much as anyone can learn the art of contortion, I guess, maybe, possibly, anyone can learn to color my hair. I'll call you the next time I need it, alright? It should still be one or two perfomances until then - can't have it looking all dull. Still, if it gets too much, just tell me off, alright? You have like, what, five different kids to take care of now?" Should be around that number, or maybe he was off. Regardless, he finished his apple, and unlike Louis, he had no leftovers to show for that it had ever existed - that would probably haunt him. "No, it's not like my hair is full of nerves. If it were, I wouldn't be doing it, but still. Just ... wear gloves, alright?", Josiah insisted and then looked up, toward the ceiling of his trailer, as he swung his legs. "Mh, I can respect that. Thanks for the meal, by the by ... did you eat anything else?"
      Looking back, it maybe is like the toy carts you rode when you were a kid. But those toy carts could never go beyond the walls of the lawn. We want to follow the rugged concrete road beyond the wall. As we've grown, we've decided to leave behind the toy cart.