Elusion [ih-loo-zhuhn] noun. 1: The act of eluding, of avoiding capture or discovery. 2: deception, evasion
"So. You had a reading assignment for me, Miss Albarn?"
Maka stared at Soul as he lounged in Tsubaki's doorway, apparently come to pick her up. He was actually smirking at her, for one thing, looking scarily close to cheerful, and then- "Albarn. It sounds odd," she said, shaking her head. She wondered, for a moment, what her middle names was- perhaps she'd have to ask Lord Death when she was just a little less angry with him. She also had to make sure he was actually updating her parents that she was alive and well, because it seemed like just the sort of inconsequential detail he'd completely forget when given charge of someone's child.
"Maka sounded strange to you for weeks," he reminded her, waving lazily into the wagon at Tsubaki, who was peeling an orange and looking rather intrigued, glancing between him and Maka with an arched brow. Even her tiger was sitting up with alert ears to watch them. "Come on, then. If you get to assign homework, I get to play professor and give a little lecture." With that, he hooked a hand in her elbow and tugged her down the steps and off towards his wagon.
She tagged along dumbly, trying to get used to this shiny new Soul. Was this good mood all because of her? Her toes curled in her boots. "You're almost civilized," she told him dryly.
He shot her a sly sideways glance that had a rather dangerous effect on her heartbeat. "Almost? I'm hurt."
"You're terribly cruel," he said dryly.
She snickered. "You're lucky I had your... assignment on me, dragging me out of there so rude. I wish I remembered an insult good enough for you. Once I get my memory back, watch out." He only rolled his eyes and kept hauling her on; she both liked and didn't like the fact that he didn't shorten his lengthy stride for her. He knew she could keep up, which was nice, but it was mildly irritating all the same, practically jogging after him and his foolishly long legs. It made her feel even shorter than normal. The journal Mira had given her was tucked into the waistband of her trousers, under her shirt, digging a little into her stomach, but that was okay; the feel of it was comforting. She'd learn the secrets that were in it, get a little more clarity on who she was, and hopefully none of it would wound her emotionally without having her memory restored. It seemed like a good balance, and maybe she'd learn something important that could help her save Soul.
Then she went back over his words and stopped. "Ooh- wait- lecture. What do you mean?" That sounded promising. Was he going to explain how he fought? Or what was under Lord Death's mask? She could think of a billion interesting things about the circus she wanted to know.
He hummed a little under his breath, pausing with his back to her for a moment before turning around, pulling a cigarette out from behind his ear and lighting it. The snap of the match and the look on his face made her frown. All the shiny good humor was gone, and she hated it.
Well, really she shouldn't just be standing here doing nothing like a worthless tomato. She'd already kissed the boy. She'd sort of grown to think of herself as a pretty bold person, didn't she? So Maka edged forward a little, ignoring the unpleasant scent of smoke, and took his hand.
He actually blushed. She grinned victoriously.
"Lecture," he muttered, leaning back against the nearest train car- the one Stein had treated Tsubaki's broken ankle in, what seemed like years ago. He took a drag, blew it out slowly while she pretended she wasn't hooked by the shape of his lips, then said, "Remember when I told you not yet?"
She squinted, thinking, then- "Oh. When I asked what happened to you. Yes, I remember." That felt like forever ago. She joined him in leaning against the traincar, picking rusted flecks of greenish-gray paint off the thing with her free hand.
He flicked the ash off his cigarette and shrugged, not quite looking at her. "I decided it's yet. Uh- I mean-"
"I understand," she said quickly, swallowing as her heart started to thump. "But you- it's obviously not something you like talking about. You don't have to. I can wait as long as it takes." The last thing she wanted to do was push him into bringing up old ghosts, not with the stormcloud of midsummer's eve looming over their every move. Hopefully he wasn't silly enough to think he owed her for declining her memories, or anything. She tilted her head back against the sun-warmed metal of the traincar, staring straight up, until everything was blue and hot and uncomplicated and she was a little blinded.
Soul's hand tightened a bit on hers to get her attention from the clouds, and now he did look at her, eyes very warm. "I know I don't have to. I want to." It sounded like he was trying to convince himself, really, but he was a grown man and he knew what he was doing. Maybe the telling would be good for him, like lancing a wound, letting some of the badness out so healing could start.
"All right, then." She smiled at him a little, touched and trying to be reassuring, even as nerves and worry sat heavy on her shoulders.
"Quit fretting. You'll get wrinkles." He blinked at his cigarette as if he'd only just realized he'd lit the thing and then stomped it out.
"You're such a charmer," she mumbled.
"I'm well aware," he informed her smugly as they set off again, meandering at a much slower pace down the tracks. The rising heat had turned the tar and creosote coating the wooden railroad ties tacky beneath their feet; Maka breathed in the familiar smell with a smile and started hopping from tie to tie, avoiding the chunky rocks between them, still holding Soul's hand.
She heard him snort a little and looked at him, and the expression on his face brought all the shining feelings right back for both of them. "Wait," she said on impulse, drunk on sunshine and Soul's smiles. "We're camped here for the night, aren't we?"
He shook his head. "Taking off again later tonight. We're setting up in Virginia somewhere in two days. We'll be keeping pretty much on the road until then."
"Oh. That's all right, though." It was only just perhaps an hour before noon, still early- they had the whole day, and few chores beyond taking care of the animals. The few people she could see around the train were just puttering about, talking, doing nothing much of anything, so they had time. She must have been beaming like either a fool or an insane person, because he looked a bit wary. "Let's have lunch outside!"
He narrowed his eyes at her. Standing like this on the ties, she was nearly of a height with him, and she took advantage of the view to admire the sparse spatter of freckles on his tanned nose. "You want to have a damn picnic," he said slowly.
"If that's a word for eating outside, then yes. Don't be a wet blanket. It'll be fun!"
He looked off and to the side, obviously thinking it over, then shrugged with a tolerant sigh. "Why the hell not. We'll have to go off a bit, though. I don't- uh-"
"Oh. I didn't think of that." Obviously he wouldn't want to risk anyone overhearing whatever it was he was going to reveal to her. "Anyway, the reading assignment's got to be kept a bit of a secret too. So that's fine. Meet back at Tsubaki's in fifteen and bring a blanket." She spun around and darted off, leaving him to gape at her and wonder why his suddenly empty hand was itching so.
He was only five minutes late, and he'd actually brought a blanket, the same one he'd let her borrow the first night she'd fallen asleep in his trailer to the sound of Jane Eyre. She held up the basket she'd stolen from Kilik with a giggle. "Food!"
"Thank god, I could eat a horse," he muttered, turning on his heel and walking away from the train tracks into the thin forest, seemingly quite content to wander at will.
"You eat my horse, I'll turn you inside out," she threatened, following.
He just shook his head, stepping high over a fallen sapling and offering her his hand as she moved to do the same, apparently out of instinct; she gave him a pointed glare and hopped over the tree nimbly with no hands. "Point taken," he sighed, hefting the rolled blanket onto one shoulder.
The woods here were different than any she'd seen so far, only a little, but enough that she could immediately tell it wasn't a forest like anything she'd been through thus far, even with all the traveling she'd done with the circus. There were no thick, towering pine trees crowding together, or lush flat fields, or endless mountains slicing upwards into fog; instead it was gently hill, full of mostly what Black Star had told her once were oak trees, big and mossy and far apart, looming over the younger shrubbery and scrub bushes beneath them, and the ground beneath their feet was peppered with acorns that popped like tiny bombs with every step. It was a spiky sort of place, and it felt very old and very peaceful, with the sunlight shooting down through the canopy in fat golden beams.
"It's nice here," she said idly, tromping onwards. "Where are we again?"
"State called Pennsylvania. We've been going sort of south," Soul answered, yawning cavernously.
She fell back a little so she could eye him discreetly. That yawn- and he looked really tired, a little red-eyed and wan, and he'd said he was starving. Had he lost weight? Was he sick? She looked him over more carefully, trying to tell.
"Are you- looking at my ass?" Soul said suddenly, blinking.
Maka went red to her ears and fixed her eyes firmly forward. "Absolutely not! I- it's- are you not feeling well?"
He coughed. "Worried, bearcat?"
"Dry up! You already know I worry about you, stupid," she snapped, feeling silly and a little young, quite like she had when she'd just woken up in Tsubaki's trailer. He just did his little lip-twitch half-smile at her, and then she felt better.
They kept going, and after a minute Maka paused and cocked her head. "River?"
"Something water," Soul agreed, and they turned a tad to follow the noise. Sure enough, not five minutes later Maka shoved a branch out of the way and gave a little 'oh!' of delight. A trickling little creek not more than eight feet wide was winding gently before them, banked by slick smooth boulders and leaning trees rich with ivy and hanging beards of moss. It was all very green and otherwordly. Probably fairies were eyeing them uncertainly from within the shadowed branches arching over the water; the thought made Maka smile. Soul had read her a book with fairies in it a few weeks ago, and all she'd been able to picture was mischievous fireflies.
"Here," Maka proclaimed immediately, and she set the food down and snagged the blanket from Soul's hands before he could do a thing, spreading it out in a patch of sunshine with a flourish.
He flopped down on it immediately and started poking through the basket of food. She basked in how comfortable he felt around her. "What'd you bring?"
She waved a hand. "Bread, apples, some of the salad and soup from last night's dinner. I almost had to fight Black Star for it, he's always hanging around begging Kilik for scraps. He's like a dog."
"Ummm," he said appreciatively, already gnawing on a hunk of one of Kilik's fresh-baked, delightfully crusty brown loaves. At least she'd managed to get some of that. If Kilik ever wanted to quit the circus life and open a restauraunt, he could, no doubt about it.
"You really were hungry." She settled in cross-legged beside him and fished out the flask of blackberry cordial Tsubaki had procured from parts unknown. "Ooh, this is good. Try some."
They ate in peaceful silence, and Maka was only slightly surprised by how easy it was to sit with him like this. She'd sort of thought that perhaps she'd spoken too soon, overdone it or something, that he wouldn't be all right with something so... well, this wasn't exactly intimate, especially considering how cramped the trailers they spent a lot of their time together in was, but it was something. She should probably be a little more nervous than she was, but she knew him too well, it seemed. Could she even get nervous around him anymore, after fighting beside him, after letting him lick her blood from her fingertips?
She laughed under her breath at the thought, and he raised an inquisitive eybrow. "What's so funny?"
"It's just- we're really going about things kind of backwards, aren't we?" He seemed to know what she meant, thank goodness. She stole the last of the bread from under his nose and laughed again at his dumbfounded expression. She would have been entirely taken in by that look when she first met him, would have thought he actually wanted to hurt her, and probably most people would still fall for it, but now she saw right through it. It was just instinct for him, old habit, meaningless, and she was glad. She'd just have to slowly start training him to smile more. Maybe she could put that under the heading of 'therapy'.
He rolled over onto his back after inhaling the last of the cold cucumber soup- she'd very carefully taken less than half of everything while making sure he didn't notice, and wished that she'd brought more, now that she knew he hadn't been eating as he should- and yawned again. "Scoot over," he ordered after a moment.
"That way. Thanks."
She snorted when she realized he'd wanted her to block the sun from his eyes. "Spoiled. What if I want to lie down too? Then you'll just have to deal with the sun." The diary jabbed her ribs again, and she untucked her shirt to pull it out and toss it beside the basket of food. They'd need it soon.
He cracked an eye and looked up at her, and immediately she froze, breath caught hot in her throat. That look- "You want to lie down?" he drawled, a little hoarsely.
Maka licked her lips unconsciously and then flushed, immediately aware she'd probably made things worse, judging by the way he opened his other eye to watch her mouth. "Er- well-" Horsefeathers. She stared at him and felt almost exactly the way she did waiting for the circus tent to open for her before her act, clutching Aka's scarlet mane in nervous fingers and listening with razor focus to the sound of Soul's music come from inside, chest tight and burning and mouth dry.
But he didn't move. He was very still, actually, as if he could tell she was out of sorts. He just laid there and watched her with those bottomless eyes, pale hair moving slightly in the breeze that was shaking the leaves above them. She shifted a little, trying to think of something to say, and sun speared over her shoulder to fall back on his face. He hissed a little, squinted, but he still didn't move. The spell was hers to break, if she wanted. He was being so careful with her now, and it warmed her.
She looked at the freckles on his narrow nose again, looked at the tiny white scar on his temple and the even smaller one on his chin, got a little mesmerized by the way his pupils contracted in the sudden light. His eyes were so clear in the brightness. "I can't believe I was ever scared of your eyes," she murmured, brushing a thumb across his jaw impulsively.
He shuddered, swallowed, but he still didn't move, though she noticed he was gripping tight to the blanket. She leaned over a little more, shading his face again, and they were all alone, and the trees and the river were whispering courage, and he was the sweetest thing she'd ever seen, so she kissed him. After all, he'd started it last time, and Maka never failed to rise to a challenge.
He put shaky hands on her shoulders, promised something silently into the corner of her mouth. He tasted like the cordial, tart and a little bitter. She'd put both hands in his hair and her weight on his chest before she really realized it, but the way one arm wound almost desperately around her waist to pull her flush against him was reward enough for her bravery. Distantly, she was reminded of when she performed, of the way he'd flawlessly match his music to her every movement, following her lead in perfect harmony. It made what could have been, what she'd imagined probably would have been awkward or scary, dizzyingly nice. She tilted her head eagerly; he nipped her bottom lip, so gentle with his dangerous teeth that for a moment she couldn't even breathe. She returned the favor tentatively, and he dragged his palms up her ribs to tangle in her hair, sliding the ties to her pigtails out slowly.
She threw a leg over him at that, tingling everywhere, and for a moment he pulled away, blinking up at her as she straddled him. She knew she was terribly red, but she didn't care.
"This all right?" he said thickly, eyes half-lidded. Checking with her again; she couldn't bottle up her smile.
"Mmhmm," she said fervently, sliding her hands greedily over his chest as she leaned back down.
He was the one who stopped it, slowly; they trailed off from fireworks and straying hands to muted laughter and softer kisses. Eventually she was just lying there comfortably atop him, head nuzzled into the curve of his neck while he smoothed his hands up and down her back.
"Your eyelashes tickle," he whispered, sounding deeply thrilled with that fact.
"Sorry," she whispered back, wriggling down a little to plant her cheek on his chest. "I can hear your heartbeat."
He smiled up at the sky; she couldn't see his face from this angle, but she could feel his cheek curve under her palm. "Do you still want to hear it?
"Hmm? Oh, the yet. If you still want to tell me it."
"I don't want to ruin what's probably the nicest day I've had in years," he said, sounding a tad self-conscious, and the smile was gone under her hand.
She closed her eyes, angry at everything except him. "You won't ruin it, Soul."
His hands paused on her back, and then he started to tap out a nervous rhythm on her shoulder blade. She listened to his heartbeat and waited. After a bit he said flatly, "When I was very young, my father sold me to the circus. He didn't want an albino son."
She turned to ice, and then to dragonfire, and she moved to sit up, a scream of pure rage starting in her throat before he clapped a hand over her mouth. "Don't," he said quickly. "If I don't get it out now I'll never say it."
She sighed hotly into his hand, clenched her teeth, and he could feel fury in every line of her, but she let him settle her back to her previous position, though she grabbed very tight to one of his hands. He was grateful, because hell, this was the scariest thing he'd ever done, worse than facing down monsters, worse than anything had ever been for him. He was so scared that she wouldn't want anything to do with him after this that he could hardly put words together into a proper sentence, but he slogged on, rubbing the tips of her undone hair between his fingers and staring blindly up through the branches at the shattered sky. "It wasn't Lord Death who bought me. It was a different circus. Merriweather's Carnival of the Strange." He grimaced. The name was so nauseatingly sour.
Maka wound her fingers a little more tightly with his and waited. "I- they- put me on display. They kept me chained up." That was a deeply sanitized version of the way he'd been treated, really. The scars on his back still spoke to that, and for a moment he felt just like that crying, snotty, sniveling child he'd been so long ago, filthy and terrified, cringing under harsh, strange hands. He rose up on one elbow, just enough to fish something out of his back pocket, and when he handed it to her to look at, she winced at his expression.
"'The Wild Wolf Boy from Mongolia'," he supplied.
She ran her hands over the letters and hissed through clenched teeth. "This-"
"That was my namecard. On the cage they'd put me in when the circus was showing."
She dug her teeth into her lip so hard it went white. "Why'd you keep it?" she managed at last, limp against him, still staring at the cursed thing. Frowning, she rubbed a hand across it, and when she raised her soot-covered finger before her eyes, he saw the terrible knowledge dawn. "Fire?"
"I burned it to the ground," he said furiously, covering his face with one hand. "I was eight. I think. I don't know my birthday. They all died. There wasn't a soul left alive when Lord Death pulled me out of the ash. The whole circus."
"The whole-" She sucked in a whistling, startled breath. "The animals?"
"Everyone single one," he said viciously. "The dogs, the horses, the other kids. They all burned alive and I heard every scream."
She was shaking like a leaf, still in his lap, but all the goodness of before was long gone as she flung the wooden namecard away; it thunked dully into the trunk of an oak as she buried her face in his shoulder almost violently.
He kept going, kept pushing, kept his eyes closed because he didn't want her to see the things inside him right now, even though he knew she already had. "I did it on purpose," he rasped. "I got loose for a moment, I was trying to run away, and then- I saw a lantern someone had left on the hay bales. I knocked it over and then I went and hid. Everyone was sleeping, and it was summer, and it just- everything went up in a second, it was so fast, and the tents were so close together. I didn't think it could happen that fast. I thought it would just burn the hay tent. I tried to help once I realized but I couldn't see anything, it was just smoke, and screaming, and nobody would listen to me, and I couldn't breathe-"
"You were eight," she cried, hands fisting in his shirt.
"I was eight. But those deaths are on me." He tried to laugh, for some reason, horrified at everything, especially himself, but it came out dry and choked. "You know I'm not even sure of my real name?"
"But- Evans-" she said in confusion.
"That's all my asshole father signed to the contract. His last name. Didn't tell them mine, didn't tell them a damn thing, so they called me Evans. And I was so little, I just- I forgot my real name."
He pushed the heels of his hands very hard into his eyes, feeling as if he were going to fly apart into a thousand broken pieces. "Lord Death picked it. I needed something, right?" He growled wordlessly, then muttered possibly the worst part, full of grief and fear. "The monsters- the ones we fight, they change into- and the next day, the very next day, my teeth-"
"Oh my god," she said, when he couldn't go on, when he could only snarl above her head at the merciless trees. "Tsubaki said they were people, but evil changed them. So your teeth, they changed. Because you killed."
He nodded, then he abruptly moved her off him, stood up sharply and lurched off into the trees to empty his stomach. It felt quite as if he'd upchucked several organs by the time he was done, along with whatever was left of his miserable soul. When he came back, shame-faced and frantic, she was on her feet, pacing.
They faced each other for a long moment, and to his horror, she looked almost cautious. God, if he'd driven her away- his blood boiled darkly. In desperate self-hatred, he pushed on. "I can talk to them," he said cruelly, watching her flinch at every word. "Did you know that? No one else can. I've never told anyone. I mean, I think Black Star knows- but the monsters talk to me. I'm so fucking close to being one of them that I can understand them."
She just stood there and kept staring at him, hands twitching at her side. "Maka," he said, desperately, brokenly. "Maka. Maka."
She shook her head hard, then, as if she were coming back from a bad dream, and then she held out her arms to him. "You were eight, and you didn't know," she whispered, eyes glassy with unshed tears. "You didn't mean to. You were only eight, and you hurt, and you didn't know, and I don't care if you're a little monster now because so is everybody."
Her forgiveness overwhelmed him. When he was unable to move, she came to him, put her arms around him, and they sank to their knees down into the soft litter of leaves as he cried into her neck, clutching her slender form to him for dear life.
He washed his mouth out with what was left of the blackberry cordial, and they packed up the dishes silently. Maka watched him shake the leaves stuck to the blanket off roughly, and then he took the basket out of her hands. She let him carry it for her, though normally she would have put up a fuss; it seemed to her he was grateful, somehow, for the weight.
"Does the circus follow the same route?" she asked him as they stamped through the woods. "Yearly, I mean." He nodded mutely. "So we'll be back here next year."
"Likely so," he muttered. "Or at least near here."
She was so sick at heart, looking at him. If she could wrap him up and store him away somewhere, a bank vault, or possibly Fort Knox, she would, just to keep him safe from everything. She tucked a hand into the crook of his elbow, desperate to touch him, to make it all better. "So next time we come through here we'll come back to this spot," she said firmly. "To the little river, and we'll picnic again, and it'll be the perfect day."
He stopped dead still in his tracks and stared at her from under his bangs, looking very hangdog and haggard. "Next- in a year?"
She knew what he wanted, and she gave it with her whole heart. "Next year," she promised passionately. They would make it through the cursed midsummer's eve, dark prophecy or not, and she would get her memories back, and her father and her mother would live, and she would ride her red horse to his wicked music. That was the only outcome she could accept, the only things she would allow, and she gritted her teeth and swore it to herself then, watching his hand tighten on the basket's handle.
"That's a lot, bearcat," he said gruffly. "A year's a long time."
"I know. Three hundred and sixty five days. Tsubaki told me that," she said lightly. He didn't smile like she wanted, but he pushed his face into her hair for a moment before they moved on.
They found their way back to the train quickly enough; it seemed like it had been a much shorter return trip than it had been out to the creek, even with the burden of all the things just said. The little leather diary was safe again, tucked under Maka's shirt, even though perhaps Lord Death wouldn't care about it now that he'd essentially admitted all the truth to her. Still, Mira had risked his anger to get it to her, so Maka would keep it a secret.
They clambered up onto the tracks again, still silent, and when he turned towards his trailer, Maka followed. He wouldn't say it, but the way he walked so close to her said he didn't really fancy being alone. They passed Blair tossing hunks of bloody venison to her tigers, who made happy kittenish growls at each wet thump; she eyed them, and immediately Maka could see the pieces coming together in the woman's head. Maka with undone, messed hair and untucked shirt, looking thoroughly debauched- both of them, coming in together from the forest with a blanket, of all things- but Maka actually bared her teeth, and Blair snapped her jaw shut, eyes widening. She looked concerned, but Maka just shook her head a little, and then they were past the big cats. Blair would demand an explanation eventually, of course, and probably Tsubaki would want to know tonight what on earth had taken so long to eat lunch, but Maka would deal with that later.
He brushed his teeth the moment they got into the trailer, scowling terribly around his toothbrush, and any other time she would have told him he looked ridiculous, but this didn't seem like the moment. Then again- "You look silly," she said. "No one can look terrifying with a mouthful of foam."
Soul goggled at her, looking even sillier, and for a moment she was afraid she'd done the wrong thing, but then he snorted and did his tiny smile at her, and she beamed back at him, vastly relieved.
After he'd rinsed his mouth, he collapsed bonelessly on the bed, and she went to him immediately, sitting beside him and stroking his hair back from his forehead over and over, quite involuntarily. He crinkled his forehead at her a motions a little, obviously unsure, unused to such treatment, but she figured that he'd damn well get used to it. Well, sometimes. She wasn't going to coddle him too much. He'd get spoiled and start expecting her to be nice all the time, which just wasn't in her.
Then again, he did call her 'bearcat'. Obviously he wasn't in denial of her mildly violent personality. She grinned at the thought.
He had his eyes closed, and if it hadn't been for his fingertips drumming a beat on her hip again, she might have thought he was asleep. She glanced out the window; there was still plenty of time before she'd have to go help Tsubaki feed the horses and get them unpicketed and up into the wagons before the train got back into motion.
"Want me to read that assignment?" Soul said, watching her from under his eyelashes.
"Ooh. Yes, please!" She pulled it out and handed it to him, glad for the almost-return to normalcy. He raised an eyebrow.
"Big secret, then?"
"Sort of. I really have no idea what's in it," she admitted. "It's a diary."
"A diary of...?"
"Hmm." He ran his fingers over the worn cover, then sat up more, making room for her. The moment he cracked the cover he blanched. "Aw, shit, Maka. It's your ma's."
She squeaked, and he held it up before her, pointing, obviously forgetting for a second she couldn't read. "Right there. Kami Albarn," he said.
"Oh," she said faintly. "That's about the last thing I'd expected."
He frowned, then hunched over and started reading, moving his curtain aside a little to give him more light. Maka waited with bated breath. "Well?"
"She's got awful handwriting," he said distractedly, squinting. "Even worse than yours."
"Oh," she said again, thrilled for some reason to know that she shared illegibility with her mother, which was silly because she couldn't even remember the woman in any way, shape or form.
"Okay. Well, do you just want me to start with the first entry and go from there, or what?" Soul looked up at her and waited.
But then she turned white. "Soul," she said icily, even as her unsteady hands rose to cover her heart. "How do you know what my handwriting looks like?"
1: A 'tomato' is a girl. Weird, right?
2: A wet blanket is a killjoy or someone who ruins fun.
3: Dry up means shut up, be quiet.
4: 'The Wolf Boy from Mongolia' is basically a reference to the practice some circus had of inventing elaborate, exotic backstories for their performers. Often they'd be from another country and have other crazy aspects- part human, etc. It added to the mystique of the 'freaks' that were put on display.
5: So, I double checked, and they actually did have toothpaste in the '20s. Pepsodent dates back to that decade.
6: Picketing a horse is basically tying them on a very long lead to a stake in the ground so they can graze and walk around, but can't get away. It's common with camping and things.
Author says: Okay this is sort of short haha. Sorry. I'm SO SORRY for taking so long to get this up! Like, for real. My inspiration was just gone, but hopefully you guys like this. (Oh also- Dire Circus is over 100 reviews which is just AWESOME and I am so grateful, you guys! I read every single review and they mean so much to me.) Thanks & enjoy ;)