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28 June 2008 @ 10:08 am
:who: the Grey twins and Papa Love
:where: the campground
:when: evening

The past few days hadn't been very kind to the Grey twins. The last carnival they'd been working with broke up over a scuffle that had everything to do with the manager pocketing more than his share of the money, and the barker taking umbrage at that. So naturally, the barker killed the manager in cold blood, and chaos, as chaos is wont to do, reigned and people either joined the fray or scattered. The Greys, as they were wont to do, scattered. It was the only decision, and Jane had made it quickly and decisively, helping her brother break down their tent, gather their belongings--their trunk and tent on his back; the case of knives, all the provisions they could find, and Dulce, their dog, on hers--and they struck off over the dusty miles towards the nearest town. Near was rather relative, all things considered. But distance rarely bothered them. They just walked and kept walking.

Morpeth came up out of the landscape almost as a surprise, but definitely a relief. Where there were people, there was work. And even if there wasn't work, there were chances to find food and water one way or another. The twins knew their way around one way or another. However, the signs advertising for performers for another carnival caught Charles' eye. It was one way, and a good way for them. He pointed at the sign intently.

"After that last debacle? Don't you want to go on our own for a bit?" Jane asked, her voice colored by the soft burr they used to share, Scottish aristocrats still.

Charles shook his head and moved his fingers quickly, like birds in flight, communicating to his twin in their own silent language.

"I know there's safety in numbers, but we can take care of ourselves," she insisted with a shake of her head.

He frowned and made a different gesture, nodding at the sign again, just as insistent in his own way, his eyes saying as much as his hands.

Jane sighed, biting her lip for a moment, ignoring the taste of dust and grit. They would make a fantastic first impression like this, she was sure. They looked like two stray dogs--three if she counted Dulce. She pushed her long, messy braid behind her shoulder and tried to tame some of the tendrils of curls that had escaped around her face. If only their parents could see them now, she thought, then pushed that thought away, too. "No harm in asking, I suppose."

Charles grinned in something like triumph, whistled a little (a reliable indicator of his pleasure), and the dusty, bedraggled pair set off for the campground in the dying evening light.
Papa Love & Mama Mambolove_and_mambo on June 29th, 2008 08:22 am (UTC)
Papa Love had had a long day, but it had been one to lift his spirits. Three men had turned up today to add to the two that had arrived yesterday. Strong men, down on their luck and with a back for working. He'd fed them, then set them to erecting the big top. Having the familiar red and white striped shape in the camp ground made him feel like they just might get this thing up and running again. And the performers starting to trickle in again certainly helped on that score.

He'd just tended to the carnival's few beasts of burden -- one horses and handful of donkeys that pulled the wagons and the caravans -- when he saw the two figures walking up the dirt track to the camp ground. The sun was setting behind him, colouring the horizen vivid orange and pink, and illuminating the man and woman clearly, but leaving his face in shadow. He drove his shovel into the ground, and leant his weight against it, waiting for the two to arrive.
grey_blades on June 29th, 2008 02:20 pm (UTC)
Unsurprisingly, Charles spotted him first, mostly in silhouette despite the burn of the setting sun in his eyes. He caught Jane's arm, stopping her and jerking his chin in the man's direction, then looked at her again. She nodded, touched his hand, and adjusted her pack on her back. Then she stepped forward, mustering her composure and trying not to look as exhausted and ungainly as she felt. She'd been a lady, once upon a time, and sometimes, she could manage an echo of that dignity when she needed it.

"Beg pardon, but we're looking for someone in charge, could you point us in that direction, if it's not a trouble?" she called pleasantly, her voice ringing out in the evening dust like a clear bell.
Papa Love & Mama Mambo: love howdylove_and_mambo on June 30th, 2008 05:27 am (UTC)
The girl looked exhausted, the boy not much better. Travelled a fair ways, by the looks of it and all of it on foot. He gave both the once over. Performers, the pair of them. When you'd been in the business as long as he had, you learned to pick fellow carnies on site, as often as not.

So when the girl spoke, Papa Love was a little thrown. He'd known girls who would affect a polished accent for their acts -- trying for the whole "fallen aristocrat" appeal to the audience's sympathies. But this girl's tones rang true. He looked at her again, and this time saw that her posture and her demeanour both had a certain dignity that hardship could not entirely erase. If hers was an act, it was by far the best he'd seen so far.

He stepped forward and a little to the side, allowing the last of the dying light to hit his face, and he touched the brim of his hat in greeting.

"If you're lookin for those in charge of this sorry country, I figure I can't help you. But if you're after he who runs this here carnival, well, that would be me."
grey_blades on June 30th, 2008 11:56 am (UTC)
Jane inclined her head slightly in recognition, not quite a bow, more of an acknowledgment of his greeting, like a queen with her courtiers. "Those in charge of the country would be no help to us, but you sir, you very well may be," she said with a smile. She glanced back at her brother who nodded slightly, then returned her attention to the man in the hat. "There was the sign in town, said you've work for performers here. If you're in need of a knife act, sir, then we're what you're looking for. We're one of the best knife acts going, been working for a few years, we know how to draw and hold a crowd."

In someone else, it might've sounded like cajoling, an effort to sway him into at least agreeing to see what they could do. But for Jane, it was a mere statement of fact. They were exceptionally good, they did draw crowds, and they could deliver when the chips were down. Charles drew up close behind her, looking at Papa Love in silent consideration.
Papa Love & Mama Mambolove_and_mambo on July 1st, 2008 12:48 pm (UTC)
"Knife act, eh?"

The lady sounded pretty sure of their skill, but performers talked up their acts all the time. The proof of the puddin' was in the eatin', and Pa Love would wait til he saw the act before he made any judgement.

"Well, we don't have us a knife act anymore. Had one for a few years that did alright, but they left a week back..." He scratched the back of his head and re-adjusted his hat. "Be good to have one with us again."

He shifted his weight. "'Course, you'll have to show us what it is you do. Our ringmaster will be wantin' to see it, but I'm guessin' he'll call you over soon enough."

Hefting the shovel over his shoulder, he gestured towards the camp. "But that wont be until the mornin' at least. 'Til then, lets get you fed." He reached out a hand towards her. " Can I help you with your things?"
grey_blades on July 1st, 2008 03:02 pm (UTC)
Both of their faces brightened at the mention of food, the expression identical, as was the eagerness in their eyes. But as for carrying their things, Jane shook her head, adjusting her pack on her shoulders. "It's all right, we've been carrying this for long enough that a little bit longer won't make much of a difference, anyroad." Besides, she didn't think Dulce, who was sound asleep in the pack, would take kindly to being passed around to a stranger.

She hesitated, then smiled a little. "I'm Jane, this is Charles. Thank you for taking us on, if only for the evening," she said, genuine in her gratitude.
Papa Love & Mama Mambolove_and_mambo on July 6th, 2008 01:14 pm (UTC)
"Suit yourself," he said when she declined his help. When all you had in the world fit into a pack on your back, folk got mighty protective of it.

"Pleasure to meet you Jane, Charles. I'm known as Papa Love round here." He led them round the remains of a campfire, over which rested the remains of a roast on a spit. A dark skinned woman with wild hair and large skirts sat hunched by it, coaxing the fire back into life. Beside this, a tarpoline was streched between four poles with a couple of trestle tables underneath, creating a ramshackle eating area. Just beyond this arrangement, a couple of caravans sat, a small tent pitched between them. It was to here that Papa Love directed the twins.

"This is the living area. If you've a tent, you can pitch it here. If not, we'll find you a spot on a wagon or something. Somewhere out of the wind. Once you're comfortable, head on back to the camp fire. There's roast left over from lunch there, and a loaf of bread or so in the food tent. You's can help yourself."

He gave a nod and touched his hat, and gave the impression that he was about to leave them to it.
grey_blades on July 6th, 2008 08:38 pm (UTC)
Jane looked positively baffled. He was being entirely generous to them, almost too generous. There had to be a catch. Life always had a catch. Why on earth would he let them camp here without knowing if they'd be an asset for the carnival? What else did he want? (He had to want something, of that Jane was absolutely certain. Nothing was free, especially not hospitality. Not here.) "Without even seeing what we can do, you're just going to let us pitch and kip here for the night?" she asked.
Papa Love & Mama Mambo: love smokinglove_and_mambo on July 7th, 2008 02:06 am (UTC)
Papa Love took off his hat, scratched his head and returned Jane's baffled look with one of his own. It wasn't the reaction he'd been expecting.

"Sure, why wouldn't I? It's no skin off my nose -- a patch o' dirt and some leftovers is hardly goin to trouble me. And if what you said is true, you could be the best damn knife act in Van Demon's Land. Seems like a small enough risk on my part. We'll find out soon enough."

He fixed his hat back on his head. "And if it don't work out, we'll send you on your way, and don't let no one tell you Pa Love doesn't know how to treat a guest."
grey_blades on July 7th, 2008 02:16 am (UTC)
Charles nudged his sister gently, then, looking at Papa Love, he touched his fingers to his forehead, then dropped his hand to cup it in his other one at chest-level, bowing his head slightly as he did so. The whole gesture was graceful and utterly dignified, something that seemed true about him at his core as well.

Jane nodded, bobbing her head as well. Her brother had set the tone and she followed suit. "He says thank you," she says. "We're exceptionally grateful for your hospitality, sir, both of us."
Papa Love & Mama Mambo: love smokinglove_and_mambo on July 7th, 2008 02:36 am (UTC)
"You're very welcome, both of you." That boy was a quiet one. Hadn't spoken a single word in that whole exchange. At first he'd just thought the kid was shy, and Love thought that his sister could be the type to be a little hard to compete with. But the gesture he'd given then spoke volumes; deliberate and dignified and not at all the movement of one who liked to hide in the shadows. Deaf then, although he'd seemed to be following the conversation well enough. Mute? That seemed likely. Well, it was none of his business so long as the boy could do his job.

"Now, if that's all, I'll be headin off. You got any questions, you find me or Mama Mambo." He gestured over his shoulder to the woman at the fire. "We'll sort you out."
grey_blades on July 7th, 2008 03:45 am (UTC)
"Yes, sir, we should be fine. But thank you again," Jane said with another little bob of her head. Charles nodded as well, then set down his pack to start pulling the various parts of their tent out. There was an order to things, and stopping to rest and eat came after making sure they had some shelter. Besides, it made it quite clear that they were both willing to work for their keep. If there was one thing the Greys were good at, it was earning their keep, either on the stage or with their hands, and this time, this carnival, it was no different. But this time, Charles had a good feeling about it all, indicated by the little smile on his face as he started unrolling the tarp, poles, and pins, whistling an old tune as he worked in the darkening dust, his sister right by his side.