here is my first attempt at a Cirque fanfic, I hope you enjoy. Please R&R and I'll be happy to answer any questions you have.
I do not own the rights to Cirque du Solei's characters or creations.
Rowan smiled as she inhaled the sharp scent of freshly cut grass. It was the weather that had prompted her to walk to work instead of jumping in her car. The evening was warm and still, the sun low in the cloudless sky. She had left early so that she could cut through the park down by the river. It wasn't the most direct route to the station, but she enjoyed the atmosphere and the gently swaying trees and burbling stream would serve as a distraction for a while. Rowan liked distractions, so much so that she actively sought them when she wasn't at work. Thinking wasn't good for her, reminiscing held no place...thinking, remembering, dwelling...that was where the damage began. Her blue eyes creasing into a frown for a moment, she hitched her back pack further onto her shoulder. Tonight would be the second of her night shifts this week, fifteen hours of paperwork, tension and at some point hopefully...sleep. She doubted that somehow...she never slept on a night shift. Her colleagues had told her that sleep would come with time and experience and eventually the nightmares would lessen too, but not leave completely. After all she had only been in the Fire Service for six months. She smiled again, her hand unconsciously brushing over the insignia on her uniform as her heart swelled with pride. She genuinely loved her job, the fast pace, meeting people, helping people and ,she supposed, the danger, the allure of living on the edge. However she had to admit that for all the highs, there were lows too. That was the part she struggled with, the part that literally drove her to distraction and haunted her dreams at night.
She turned off the path heading for the open space at the center of the park ringed by trees. It was by one of these trees that she spotted a disheveled looking boy of about eleven or twelve years old. He was looking up into one of the trees, wringing his hands and shifting his weight from foot to foot seemingly in worry and frustration. Rowan made her way over being careful not to scare the boy.
"Hello there, are you ok?"
The boy jumped in fright, spinning to face her and tripping over his own feet, his hat slipping down over his eyes as he landed in the grass with a soft thud. Rowan stooped to help him up but he shied away from her, pushing his hat off of his eyes. It was then that she noticed the boy's clothes for the first time. He was dressed in what looked like a one piece jumpsuit but the fit on him was awful. The sleeves were too long, the pants too short. The black, white and gray horizontal stripes showed the age of the material that was worn and frayed around the edges and the night cap like hat, kept slipping down over his eyes. Rowan took a step back, then held out her hand, a reassuring smile on her face.
"My name is Rowan. Can I help you up? I don't bite...promise"
The boy looked from her face, to her hand and back again before gingerly taking it, allowing Rowan to help him stand.
"Are you ok?" she asked again.
He shook his head and then looked up into the tree meaningfully. Rowan followed his gaze. There was a kite lodged in the branches above her.
"Ah I see...would you like me to get it for you?"
The boy nodded so emphatically that his hat fell off. Rowan laughed lightly, taking her bag from her back. She dropped it at the boy's feet before taking a few steps back. She sprang forward, bracing one foot against the tree and pushing upwards, managing to grab the lowest branch. She hung there for a moment than pulled her self up with a grunt. She threaded her way through the branches, grasped the kite and tugged it free. She made her way back down being careful not to tear the kite, or her uniform for that matter, and dropped to the ground with only the slightest of wobbles. Righting herself she held the kite out to the boy, who took it from her and hugged it fiercely to him, grinning up at her. Then suddenly he stiffened, looking around as if someone had called for him as Rowan bent to pick up her bag.
"You know kiddo, you really need a windier day to fly a kite...you did well to get it so high. Whats your name...by...the...way?" she trailed off. The boy had gone, vanished completely from view.
"You're welcome" she murmured to her self then looked to her watch. She was running late. She cursed and set off at a run across the grass.
Rowan swiped her pass key over the panel by the door to the station. The mechanism buzzed and she barged in almost running into another fire fighter coming the other way. She spun away from him, bouncing off the wall as he back peddled out of her way, paperwork floating down around them.
"Rowan? What are you doing?"
Rowan grimaced and immediately started scooping up the fallen papers,
"I am so sorry Sir, I thought I was running late and -"
The man, broad shouldered with closely shaven steel gray hair put a hand out to stop her,
"How many times do I have to tell you, call me John...I've never liked being called sir...makes me feel old and you're not that late, the day shift is just finishing up" he peered at her closely for a moment,
"You have a twig in your hair"
Rowan's hand flew to her spiky deep red hair. Her fingers found the offending piece of shrubbery and pulled it free. She grinned sheepishly at her boss.
"Part of the reason I'm late, I stopped to get a kid's kite out of a tree"
John smiled before accepting the papers from her,
"That was kind of you, now go and drop your gear, shift change in five"
Rowan snapped to attention and saluted, grinning widely,
The senior officer, rolled his eyes but smiled as the youngest and newest member of Blue Watch bounced down the corridor at a slightly more sedate pace.
Rowan sighed as she looked at the clock. 11.56...perfect. The rest of the watch had gone up to the dorm half an hour ago, leaving her to her own devices. She stood up, stretched and headed into the appliance house with the intention of cleaning some of the hydraulic cutting equipment on the back of the pumps. November Papa One and Kilo Whiskey Three gleamed in the artificial strip lighting. Kilo Whiskey Three was her pump and she patted the engine fondly. Moving around to the lockers she slid up the panel and began checking the equipment. She had barely started when the sounders went, the red light above her flashing as the garage doors slid upwards. She slammed the locker shut, kicked off her shoes and was kitted up and on the pump when the rest of the crew arrived.
"Derelict building fire, no persons reported at this time" John said as he climbed into the front seat,
"head for the old fair ground Boxer"
The driver nodded and gunned the appliance out on to the deserted road. It was exactly midnight.
They saw the smoke before they arrived, dark gray and menacing against the clear night sky. Pulling around the corner Boxer swore,
"Building fire my arse, its the sodding tent!"
The bedraggled big top stood in front of them. It had sat empty for years, cut off from the rest of the site by a large chain link fence and padlocked gate. A soft orange light emanated from within the striped walls, making the structure glow eerily. An annoyed security guard stood by the gate, swinging them open to allow the pumps access.
"Right" John bellowed as he jumped down from the cab,
"Boxer call for the aerial platform, the rest of you run out both the reels and get some of the lengths off the back, Fred? Rowan? Look for a hydrant or, yes?" This was to the security guard who had meandered over and tapped him on the shoulder,
"Do you know if its empty?" the man asked,
"We were told it was, why?"
"Well sometimes the homeless use it to sleep in and -" he gave a small shrug and half attempted to cover the nasty smile on his face,
"I saw someone go in, right before you arrived"
Rowan was disgusted, the mans pale blue eyes were dancing with glee. John turned on him,
"You positive mate? Because if I send my team in and you're taking the piss..." he didn't finish the sentence, he didn't need to. The horrible man nodded before fixing his gaze on Rowan,
"Positive" he drawled and grinned.
"Rowan, Mick, sets on"
Rowan threw the BA set on to her back, checking the pressure before securing her face mask, pulling her flash hood up and replacing her helmet. Adjusting her gloves she made her way over to where John and Fred were trying to gain access to the tent. Mick stood next to them, ready to go in, hose reel in hand. John looked up at her,
She nodded, pointing to the transmitter in her pocket. Fred managed to rip a hole in the lining of the tent, swearing as the friction pulled at his gloves,
"what the hell do they make these things out of?"
John ignored him, looking instead to Rowan,
"Think you can fit through there?"
She nodded, squeezing through the gap. Her back foot caught the lining and she flew forward, pin wheeling her arms for balance. Gravity won however, the extra weight on her back pushing her upper body down and she rolled in to the dark, yelping in pain as the cylinder dug in to her back. She lay in the dark for a moment, expecting to hear a shout from her colleagues and when it didn't arrive she looked at towards the opening. The gap in the tent wall was no longer there. Stranger still there was no sign of fire anywhere in the structure. She managed to sit up, groping for her radio in the darkness. "Rowan to Entry Control"
There was no reply...not even static.
"Rowan to Entry Control!... Come on guys this isn't funny...no messing around at a scene" Giving up on the radio she shouted instead,
Surely they could hear her? Nothing. Not a peep. She found the torch attached to her tunic and pressed the sunken button. Nothing. No radio. No torch. No backup. Absolute darkness surrounded her and although there were no signs of fire she was loath to remove her mask. She had been in house fires where the smoke was as thick as tar obscuring her vision until the flames came into view. Maneuvering onto her hands and knees she began to crawl in the direction that she assumed...hoped the wall was in. Find the wall and you find the way out, that was what her training officer had told her. Find the wall and you find the way out. The hiss of her respirator was uncomfortably loud, the only sound beside the scuff of her hands and knees on the floor. For what seemed like the hundredth time she put her hand out to sweep the floor in front of her, then letting her weight rest on her palm, lifted the other to pull her self forward. Beneath her hand the floor gave way. Unable to stop herself, Rowan tumbled forward, rolling and cartwheeling, crying out as she bounced off of a hard surface and continued to fall before coming to a sudden and bone jarring halt, her right shoulder taking the force of the impact. White hot pain washed over her for an instant before the rest of her senses joined her sight and went dark.
A high pitched, insistent whistle cut through the fog in Rowan's brain. She groaned as the sound continued getting louder as consciousness came back to her. She took a deep breath in and started slightly at the loud hiss. She cracked open one eye. She still had her BA on, the annoying whistle was the PASS alarm on her set. She was lying on her right side and manged to grasp the harness with her left hand, giving the set a sharp tug. Rowan whimpered as pain lanced through her right side but the movement was enough to convince the safety device that she was still alive and the noise ceased. Taking a deep breath she opened her eyes fully surprised to find that a faint light permeated the air around her. Lifting her gaze she saw a pair of blue shoes. Frowning she managed to lift her head, standing just feet away from her and trembling with fear, was the boy with the kite. His clothes were a little different, blue and orange replacing the black and gray but it was him, she was certain of it. Bracing her left hand on the ground she managed to slide her legs beneath her until she was kneeling, hissing in pain as her right arm hung uselessly. She looked up at the boy, who took as step back as if her were about to run. She held out her hand,
"No no no, wait..its OK...I'm not going to hurt you kiddo" her last word stopped him, but he still held the kite defensively in front of him. She vaguely noted that part of the frame was broken.
"Look" she said, slowly removing her left glove. She dropped it on the floor. Her helmet and flash hood soon joined it before she pulled the mask from her face. She smiled reassuringly as the boy looked slightly disgusted for a moment before his eyes flickered with recognition.
"Its me...Rowan. I got your kite back for you...remember?" she sighed with relief as he nodded.
"Can you help me?" Another nod. She motioned him over and he approached her still cautious. She motioned to her BA,
"I need to get this off" he nodded and touched the webbing gingerly, then he looked at her right arm and frowned before pointing up.
"That's right, I fell and hurt my arm. I can't do it on my own"
He seemed to think it through for a moment then put his kite down and gave her a questioning look. She directed him, pointing to the clips that needed undoing and the straps that needed loosening before he took the weight of the cylinder and she slid her arms free, her right shoulder screaming in protest at the movement. Rowan gritted her teeth until the pain ebbed slightly then looked back to the boy.
He smiled picking his kite back up.
"Do you have a name?" he nodded again but looked at the floor,
"Are you going to tell me what it is?" he didn't move this time. Rowan sighed,
"Not one for talking much are you?" she patted the floor in front of her and he sat down with a non committal shrug, avoiding her gaze.
"Ok then...can you tell me where we are?", he's a child she thought, go with the flow. He looked up at her then, eyes sparkling, a grin appearing on his face before, to Rowans amazement he whispered,
"Kooza?" more nodding.
"And where is Kooza exactly?", he spread his arms wide motioning to the space around them. Rowan looked around but could see nothing past the circle of light they sat in. She sighed, anger flaring like the pain in her shoulder. She opened her mouth to snap at the boy but calmed herself. Instead she motioned to his kite.
"Can I see?"
He held it up for her to inspect. Part of the frame was snapped. Easily fixable with the electrical insulator tape she always carried in her tunic. She gave him a sympathetic smile,
"Perhaps we can fix this? You can help me"
He grinned and nodded again when suddenly there was a change in the atmosphere. The air smelled sharp and her previously dead radio emitted a burst of static. The boy in front of her, shrank away to her left, eyes wide and he brought the kite up defensively once more. Rowan followed his frightened gaze and found a man standing less that two feet away, towering above her, filling the space with his presence. The boy had moved around behind her. She lifted her chin, defensively.
"And you are?" she asked, trying to keep the tone of her voice level whilst communicating that she was not pleased about being interrupted. Behind her the boy whispered,