Maka had always been fascinated by the circus. She liked the acrobats and the animals, the fire breathers and people on stilts. She liked the rushing sounds of the rides and she loved the cotton candy and caramel apples. She'd always gotten so excited, ever since she was a little girl, any time the circus came into town. She'd bounce around the house, waiting for her father to agree to take her for the day, and she'd run off the moment she set foot on the grounds. He seemed perfectly set on letting her take care of herself each time, given that she never got herself lost or hurt, and always came back to check in throughout the day. It left him more time to flirt, she imagined, and she'd rather not be anywhere near that if she had a choice in the matter.
She'd fallen even more in love with the circus after the divorce. Not many kids her age had divorced parents and it made her feel like a bit of an enigma. Her mother had left so long ago, she almost couldn't remember her face sometimes. It left her lonely and unsure of the world, though she kept a stiff upper lip and never admitted to it. Each time she came to the circus after that event in her life, she always sat and wondered what she'd have to do to get them to take her with them. People ran off with the circus all the time, didn't they? All the girls and boys who were unhappy with their lives as they were, ready to start a new one on the road.
This time at the circus was only different in the sense that, once free of her overbearing Papa, she had intended on meeting up with a boy from the farm up the road. She'd never really made any friends and so it was shocking to her when he'd said that he wanted to accompany her, unsupervised, and go on all the rides and play all the games with her. Maybe even win her a stuffed animal, he'd said. They'd made plans to meet by the cotton candy and so that was where she'd waited for one Ox Ford.
And waited some more.
It wasn't until about half an hour of waiting that she realized what had happened. She'd been completely stood up. Made a fool of, really. That's what people like to do in this town. The loser daughter of a drunken player wasn't someone people wanted to go on dates with. She was the type of person they liked to make feel included only to shove to the sidelines and watch her break for their own amusement. She had had it happen plenty of times before and now... now was no different. She felt like an idiot for having believed it could ever be otherwise.
Cursing the boys name under her breath, she decided to make the best of the time she had left on the grounds. She'd attended this circus plenty of times alone, there was no reason she couldn't yet again. As she made her way into the tent of freaks, her eyes almost longingly looked at the various displays of people - ladies with beards, men much taller than any she'd ever seen, children with legs that looked like elephants feet. She didn't have any sort of special quality (unless unusually flat chested after puberty counted and she highly doubted it did) and nothing about her ever stuck out. She had no means to run off in the circus, no way to get them to take her because she was plain and ordinary and boring.
"Hey, chin up, girly."
She jumped a little at the deep voice that rang out from behind a set of bars. It was a nice, smooth sound, like the jazz she heard played on the radio sometimes. Deep and comforting. She stared up at a pair of red eyes with white spikes of hair messed slightly in front of them. A pair of gleaming, sharp teeth accompanied the amused grin on this otherwise scrawny looking boys face. He chuckled a little as she took a step back and tilted his head.
"Why so glum, huh? I thought you townies felt better about yourselves around freaks like us."
Maka's eyes flicked to his display sign. Soul the Shark Boy. How very apt. His teeth reminded her exactly of that, only less jagged. Smooth. Like a shark who brushed his teeth and flossed after every meal.
"Not all of us think you're freaks, I guess," she said finally. Her hand went to wrap around a bar of his cage and she pushed herself up a bit on her toes. "Why are you locked up when others aren't?"
"Add an element of danger, I guess. Don't get to close - I might bite off a finger, you know. Shark's get hungry for human flesh sometimes." It was all said with that same light hearted tone, one that made her feel comforted and warm rather than afraid for her own life. She giggled a little, a noise that seemed to satisfy the young boy in the cage. "That's a little better." He waved her on forward, pointing toward the exit.
"That quick to want to get rid of me?" She tried to sound only mockingly offended, but she wondered why not even the circus folk wanted to interact with her for more than a few minutes. Maybe she was just that uninteresting.
"Don't be so self-conscious," he said with a snort. "I'm just not supposed to talk to the townies when I'm performing." He said the last word with as much flare as possible, waving his hands about a little for added effect. "I'll get in trouble if you stick around too much. Unless you're screaming and fainting from fear of the incredibly intimidating Shark Boy."
"I don't think even I'm that good an actor."
He smiled a little, going to stick a scrawny arm through the gap in the bars and give her pigtail a small yank. "If you're that interested in talking more, come back to the edge of the tents when the circus is over. I'm sure a girl like you can be sneaky enough." He noted the prying eyes of the Hairiest Man from a few displays down and gave her nose a flick. "Now get out of here before I get in trouble. I've got a job to keep."
Maka bit her lip, smiling and nodding. As she ran out of the rest of the tent, she couldn't help but feel a weight lifted off of her heart. There was something about the boy that just kept her at ease. She was going to have to find a way to sneak away from her Papa, because there was no way she was turning down his invitation to get to know him a little bit better after hours. No way in hell.