"You'd have made a terrible waiter."

The boy, the young man with the spiky hair and the familiar lilt to his voice, the one holding now onto one of her red-and-black leather juggling balls, laughed along with her joke. Then, pausing to let the substance of her words sink in, he turned to her and asked "What?"

She put a finger to her mouth to stifle her mirth, but it shone apple bright in her eyes. "Inside joke," she clarified, and he nodded, obviously still not quite getting it.

"I was a waiter!" he cried, astounded. "I was a terrible waiter! I got fired. Oh--" and his voice dropped low. "Best not tell your lovely mother that."

"I'll let you break that news to her. During your interview?"

He tossed the ball into the air, let it make a break for the beetle black sky before snatching it back down thoughtfully. "I think I'll really try it. I mean, you would think with so much experience juggling knives and fire and other dangerous things," he glanced at her subtly, to see if she was impressed, but she gave no indication, "It would be easy enough to juggle trays and meal orders, but it's just not the life for me. This, now..." And with a glance around the crowd, his eye caught at the attractive woman in the ticket booth, shooting a disapproving look in his direction, and he seemed suddenly to realise that he had been talking too much and too fast, taking up this unknown girl's time for too little reason. He really wouldn't like to get kicked out of the circus before he got a chance to join it.

With a deferential bow, he stretched his long arms to the ground, to find the missing red and black orbs and hold them out to her. "I'm terrible sorry, I knock you over and talk your ear right off, and while you're on the job."

She did not reach for them, sensing perhaps the finality that move would bring to the conversation. "Without even introducing yourself," she corrected.

"Without even that. I don't seem to selling myself much as a juggler, dropping my manners everywhere. I'm--"

"Let me guess," she interrupted, putting a finger to a temple. "Val?"

"Not even close. I guess you're not the fortune teller I thought you were."

Her brow creased, as if she was actually surprised at her guess missing the mark.

"Or are you?" He asked in a headlong rush of breath, hoping not to have offended her more. "It's okay, really, I'm told I'm hard to read."

"You're a very important man..." she muttered, just audible. Then, louder, "Makes sense, I suppose. I'm not called Dark Princess in this world either."

He gave her a look.

He turned to take in the red and gold of the crowd, the milling bodies and faces, the neon green glow and stale popcorn smell, and then he gave her the same look again. The balls rolled and shone in his hand, and he picked one out to toss to her. She caught it and automatically threw it back. Another dropped out of the air in her direction, and she caught it and it, too, flew from her hand. Soon they had set an easy rhythm between them, and the hum and soft thwap set up a steady tempo for the fiddle and the voices to work to.

"Sean" He said, finishing his sentence of earlier.

"I'm Helena," she replied.


More to this later, though it'll be more a series of vignettes, I guess, than a full plot. Sorry if there seem to be confusing phrasing or missing words... it's intentional, actually. I've been reading a lot of Ray Bradbury, if that explains it.