We start to discover a darker side to our favourite ringmaster...
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“Eeeh there he is! Hallo Frankie!” Frank had no idea who the man shouting at him was but he smiled shyly and waved a little as everyone else turned to look at him and cheered.
The whole of the circus staff had reconvened to a long tent, lit up with candles and a fire pit at the back where food was being cooked. Everyone had got out of their costumes and make up and were congratulating each other on another successful show, the smiles on everyone’s faces proving to Frank that he had done a good job as they all rushed over to shake his hand, clap him on the back and thank him countless times.
Beside him Gerard was grinning, thrilled to see everyone so pleased. The show had always felt like it was missing something without the cannon so it was wonderful to have it working again, and hopefully Frank would be able to fix the other cannons too and then they’d be exploding glitter everywhere like they’d been dying to do since the damn things had broken. Plus, the fact that the mechanic was so good looking didn’t go amiss either. Everyone in the circus had their own individual look, but they were all attractive in their own way, and they were all also at their happiest when there was a bit of eye candy wandering around. Frank wouldn’t be kept busy all the time, so he’d prove useful just to wander about and brighten up their days with that pert ass of his.
Well... he’d be brightening up Gerard’s day that was for sure.
“Frankie! What a success! Is good to see you made it.” Pierre pulled Frank into a bone crunching hug and the mechanic gasped, choking for air as he laughed against Pierre’s wide chest. The muscle man released him quickly once he realised he was crushing him and chuckled, giving a sheepish grin as he ruffled Frank’s hair. “You be sharing my wagon, that is okay?” He asked brightly, Frank biting his lip and nodding with a smile. Of course deep down he had secretly hoped he’d get to share with Gerard but he knew that being ringmaster if anyone was entitled to their own wagon it was him.
“That’s erm... Great Pierre, tha –”
“Frankie! Hi! My names Silver, I’m afraid we’ve never met but I was watching the show and the cannon was amazing. I’m so glad you fixed it – well, we’re all glad of course but me especially because that’s always been my favourite part – meet Cogs, he’s my pet monkey.” Frank gawped at the young man as he shook his hand vigorously, the pet monkey he had talked about not the real monkey Frank had been expecting, but in fact a mechanical monkey made of shining silver with swirling green beads for eyes, sat upon the man’s shoulder.
“Oh err... Hi...” Frank offered, stunned by such an enthusiastic greeting. The monkey chirped and made a strange clicking noise, its wise green eyes turning round before it blinked heavy metal lids and grinned, showing sharp, ivory teeth. The man whose shoulder it rested on grinned too, his teeth also a little sharp.
“Silver, you’re not bothering Frankie are you?” Gerard smirked as he approached them and laid a hand on Frank’s shoulder, the mechanic blushing and smiling a little to himself. He didn’t know why everyone had taken to calling him Frankie but he liked it, especially when Gerard said it.
“Course not; I was only introducing myself, wasnt I Frankie?” Silver beamed, his sharp teeth shining and Frank gave a small nod as he looked at him curiously. Silver was clearly a fully grown man, his cheeks and chin coated in a light cover of stubble, his eyes wise and as deep green as the jade beads of the monkey’s. His hair was brown and fell to his shoulders in soft curls, but his body, though wiry, was thin and short, like a young teenager’s. He was the strange sort of adult that the clown twins seemed to be, where you weren’t quite sure if they were adults or not.
“Hmm, I’m sure.” Gerard purred sarcastically, flicking the tiny red fez hat with black tassel that sat atop the silver monkey’s head. The monkey squawked loudly and raised its tiny metal hands to pull the hat straight again, Frank watching in awe as Gerard dragged him away, Silver beaming at him and waving goodbye.
“Come on.” Gerard smirked; shaking his head fondly as he looked at Frank’s stunned face. “Don’t pay no mind to Cogs, he’s harmless.” He smiled, Frank looking up at the ringmaster with parted lips and wide eyes. All around him more people were calling his name and trying to introduce themselves, but he had eyes only for the handsome man he walked beside.
“What is he?” Frank blurted out seconds after the ringmaster had spoke, a light blush coating his cheeks. “I mean... Cogs is... is he a toy or...?”
“A toy?” Gerard repeated, sounding shocked and he looked at Frank with raised eyebrows. “Of course not.” He scoffed, as if it was the most absurd thing the mechanic could say and Frank blushed deeper. “Cogs is a monkey, a pet if you will, though really he’s more of Silver’s friend.” He shrugged, Frank feeling himself grow panicky as he failed to understand. He had heard Silver well enough when he said Cogs was his pet but that wasn’t what he had been asking.
“No I mean... I... I mean... Well, Cog’s is silver right?” He asked, his cheeks burning with the fear that he was going to insult someone. He didn’t mean to sound sceptical or stupid he just... wanted to understand.
“Mm.... Tin actually.” Gerard said casually, walking Frank to the back of the tent where the food was being cooked. “But he does stay remarkably shiny, I can see why you’d think he was silver.”
“Right... so... how does he work?” Frank asked, Gerard’s hazel eyes flicking to look at him and making the young man feel the need to just hide in a dark hole somewhere. “I’m sorry I don’t mean to be impertinent I just... I just want to...”
“Understand.” Gerard nodded, finishing Frank’s sentence for him. “That’s perfectly naturally. Forgive me, I forget that Cogs must seem strange to people.” The ringmaster shrugged, no longer looking at Frank but instead watching the man by the cooking pit intently. Frank slowly turned his head to follow his gaze and flinched a little when he saw he in turn was being watched intently, by the boy clown who had been in the cannon.
“Cogs is a special kind of tin monkey. He was a toy, I suppose. But then one day Silver found a Marmoset, it was dying... so he took out its heart and whilst it was still beating put it inside the tin monkey. Of course it had to be wired up and put in a real mechanism so that it would keep it beating but at the time Silver lived with me and a scientist who knew how to work such things. And so... Cog’s was born.” Gerard chuckled softly, Frank nodding his understanding. He was a little surprised to hear of such a thing but he had no time to think on it, too busy looking at the clown watching him.
“Grub’s smelling good Cain, it nearly cooked?” Frank finally tore his gaze away from the boy with the long, white blonde hair to look at the woman who had just approached them. Gerard too stopped looking at the boy to smile widely at the woman. At least... Frank thought it was a woman...
The lady was tall, about an inch taller than Gerard, and she wasn’t wearing heels. Her legs seemed to run for miles but that might be because her skirt was so fantastically short. Frank had never seen such a short skirt before and it made him blush deeply. She was perfectly slender and slightly toned, her black hair falling all the way down her back to the top of her bum, stroked back off her face. She seemed foreign, though her accent was not. Her eyes were like black olives framed with long lashes, her nose thin and rounded, her lips were crimson and pouty, or at least what Frank could see of them were. It was difficult though due to the incredibly bushy moustache and beard she was sporting.
“You must be Frank.” The woman smirked; clearly pleased about the stunned look Frank was giving her. His eyes were so wide it was any wonder they hadn’t fallen out of his head all together. “What’s the matter honey, you never seen a bearded lady before?” She cooed, Frank only able to shake his head slowly.
“This was Frank’s first night at a circus.” Gerard chuckled, Frank blushing and taking the hand the woman offered him, shaking it politely as she giggled.
“Really? Well, what a treat it must have been for you. My name is Maria.” She purred, delicately releasing Frank’s hand and turning her gaze onto Gerard, her eyes dark and sultry. Frank was still staring in shock at her, trying to get his head around a woman with a beard. He didn’t like facial hair on men, let alone women, and yet somehow Maria was the most seductive woman Frank had ever seen.
“Gerard, my darling, why didn’t you introduce me to Frank earlier?” She giggled, stroking a hand up the ringmaster’s chest and stroking the side of her leg up his for a moment. Frank blushed deeply and turned his face away, his heart missing a beat when he realised those bright sapphire eyes of the clown were still watching him intently.
“We were busy. Where were you at the show?” He asked, Maria laughing and poking his chest.
“I was busy. Cain, when is that food going to be done?” Maria’s tone suddenly grew sharper as she turned to glare at the young man again; Cain slowly dragging his eyes away from Frank’s to scowl at her.
“Soon.” He muttered his voice soft and musical and Frank’s lips parted as he gazed at him. Just like Silver, Cain was a strange sort of man. He seemed fully grown, though he was shorter than Frank, his body slender, so unflawed his skin was pure. He was...
“A paedophile’s dream.” Gerard smirked, Cain rolling his eyes though he seemed to be smiling and Frank looked at Gerard in shock, choking a little.
“Cain. He’s a paedophiles dream. As his sister, Belle. And of course, Silver. That’s what we call them all anyway.” He chuckled, Frank staring at him as if he had just realised he was there before slowly looking at Cain again. Of course he could understand the term, Cain was like a man and yet like a child, and of course, perfectly old enough to have legal and consensual sex. “If I believed in a fountain of youth, Cain would be the one I’d ask to its where abouts.” Gerard added with a smirk, Cain smiling at him from beneath his long, white eyelashes.
“Actually, I was bringing you down here to introduce you to Cain anyway. He’s most pleased with your work on the cannon.” Gerard smiled warmly, Cain turning back to look at Frank and he offered him his hand which Frank shook quickly. Cain’s grip was delicate, his skin incredibly soft. His cupid bow lips pulled up into a lazy smile and Frank felt some of his fear for the clown disappear. He hadn’t even realised he had been afraid of him, but he supposed deep down he had been wary of the strange man who was a child yet not.
“Mm... Yes, I wanted to thank you.” Cain said softly in that musical voice of his. “It’s been a long time since I got to do my cannon performance.”
“Oh well it’s... it’s err, no problem at all.” Frank mumbled, mesmerised by the deep blue eyes gazing at him. Behind him, Gerard smirked softly.
“Well, I’ll leave you two to talk. Come on you.” Gerard took Maria’s hand and grinned at her, the bearded lady grinning back and she giggled as she pressed tight to his side and the two walked away, Frank watching as Maria’s hips swung from side to side.
As they disappeared into the crowds of circus folk Frank came back to his senses and slowly turned back to look at Cain who was watching him closely again. Frank got the impression that the young man had that strange ability some have to be able to read people perfectly whether they knew them or not, and Frank felt his heart race a little.
“So erm... Cain, how old are you anyway?” He asked shyly, rubbing the back of his neck as he tried to strike up conversation.
“Twenty six, you like him don’t you?” Cain replied instantly, so fast that it took Frank a long moment to even register what he had said.
“Gerard. You like him. Don’t you?” Cain repeated, slower this time and Frank couldn’t stop the deep blush that coated his cheeks. Was it really that obvious? He hadn’t even made his mind up about that yet himself. He supposed he did like the ringmaster, but he wasn’t at a point where he wanted to admit it yet.
“Oh I err... no. No of course not, what makes you say tha –”
“It’s okay.” Cain shrugged; turning back to the fire pit and turning the spit fill of sausages. “Most everyone round here does. We don’t judge people on the kinds of people they like either. If you like men, that’s fine. I like men too.”
Frank stared at the young man in shock, trying to take it all in. For a start, Cain was twenty six, which was enough of a surprise. Frank had guessed he was a full grown man, but he had thought more twenty one or twenty two, not twenty six. And secondly, he was into men. Frank of course knew about such things, he himself liked men not that he had ever liked to think about that, it was far too frowned upon. If anyone was found to be queer then it’d be the asylum or the death sentence for them, but here... to be told that no one cared. That this little village of carnies didn’t care at all was such a surprise, but a huge relief too.
“You... You like men?”
“Uhuh. And so do you. Gerard, to be exact.” Cain smirked, turning the sausages and giving a loud whistle for people to come and grab the food. Instantly the whole crowd surged forward and Cain grabbed a couple himself before he took Frank’s wrist in his hand and dragged him away with surprising strength.
Frank looked about in surprise, the tent filled with loud chatter and laughter as everybody got what they wanted, Cain pulling Frank with him as he ran fluidly out of the tent, so light on his feet he was like a dancer. Frank felt positively fat and heavy compared to him.
“Come on, let’s go sit here.” Cain smiled at Frank as he dashed lightly across the grass, the sudden way he turned his head causing his silky hair to swish to the side, shining in the moonlight and for a second Frank felt like he had never seen anything more beautiful in his entire life. He followed Cain in a daze and sat down with him when he flopped down on the grass and began lighting a little fire for them both to sit by.
“So, you didn’t deny it.” He smiled as he rubbed some sticks together, a circle of stones round ashes showing this was a spot often used to make a fire. Frank watched him curiously, blushing a little though he didn’t feel anywhere near as shy now he knew Cain liked men too.
“Well I... He is attractive isn’t he?” He finally said softly, his stomach giving a strange little flip as he admitted it. It felt odd to say it, even to himself. Cain laughed lightly and nodded, finally creating a spark and he idly dropped some twigs onto the little fire until it was bathing the two men in a soft orange glow, warming their hands and faces. Cain gave one of the sausages to Frank and the mechanic smiled, thanking him softly as they tucked in.
“He is... very attractive.” Cain agreed, gazing into the orange flames. “But you should be careful not to show him you like him anymore than anyone else. He wouldn’t mind but Maria is a severely jealous woman.” He sighed, biting into his food and Frank looked at him in surprise.
“Maria? So... So her and Gerard are...”
“Together. Yeah. I’ve been with this circus for three years now and they were together when I arrived so... it’s been at least that long, but probably a lot longer.” He sighed, Frank wishing his stomach didn’t sink with disappointment like it did. He knew it was stupid to be into a guy he had only just met, but Gerard was so strange and seductive. Frank had never met anyone like him... but then again he hadn’t met anyone like any of the circus people before. They were all so colourful and interesting, the bland people Frank had spent his life with up until that point just couldn’t compare. He supposed that was part of the problem, everything was so new and exciting it was no surprise that Frank was falling for them all.
“Oh...” He sighed, looking down at his hands and he ate the last of his sausage. “Well... Maria seems erm... nice.” He offered, Cain scoffing beside him.
“Not likely. She’s nice to your face enough but I don’t think she likes anyone but Gerard deep down. She’s always saying horrible things about people behind their back.” He spat, clearly bitter. Frank wondered what awful things she’d said about him. “I don’t know what Gerard see’s in her.” Or maybe it was jealousy... “He’d be much better off with one of the other girls, everyone adores him. He could have his pick, and all the acrobat girls are so much lovelier.” Or maybe not...
“I see...” Frank mumbled, chewing thoughtfully on his lower lip. As much as he tried not to think it he couldn’t help but consider how much better he’d be. He never said horrible things about people behind their back, he made it quite clear how he felt to their faces. And he could be lovely, in fact he was lovely, he was too shy not to be. But then... “Gerard’s not... not like us then..” He sighed, Cain looking at him in the light from the fire.
“Queer you mean?” He asked softly, chuckling and shaking his head. “That’s the worst part. He does like men. He likes them just as much as women. I think that’s part of why Maria is so jealous. Whenever Gerard feels like having a guy he’ll go to one... he keeps it secret but Maria isn’t stupid. She’s suspicious.” Cain sighed and pulled at the grass with his fingers, slicing blades in half with his nails. “Sometimes he comes to my wagon...”
Frank looked at Cain with much more interest, his eyes wide. Cain wasn’t looking at him though, he was too busy focusing on the grass he was pulling up and splitting. Frank’s heart had begun to beat a little faster though, his teeth clamping on his lower lip.
“Mhmm...” Cain nodded slowly, turning his eyes back to Frank. “Sometimes I think he even comes right after he’s done with her. It’ll be so late, and I’ll be fast asleep. And then I’ll wake up and he’ll be there...” Cain was leaning closer now, Frank doing the same as the young man lowered his voice to a whisper. “His hands all over me... touching me in my... well... you know.” He breathed, his eyes wide and imploring, Frank nodding his understanding as his own lips parted and his heart beat harder. “His lips will be all over me too...” Cain continued, leaning closer and closer still. “Sometimes by the time I wake up he’s already naked... and I can feel him against me... and I’ll be throbbing... down there...” Cain’s eyes dropped down to his lap for just a second before he looked back at Frank, the two of them barely inches away from each other by now. Frank’s head was spinning slightly from the closeness and the soft way Cain whispered to him, painting obscene, delicious pictures in his head. “I tell myself every time I’ll force him to stop and kick him out, I don’t want to be used like some toy.” He spat, his face growing soft again. “But then... I always end up moaning for him...”
“Moaning for who?”
Frank and Cain gasped and pulled apart as they both jumped, Frank turning terrified eyes on Silver who was watching them both curiously from behind, Cogs running across his back from shoulder to shoulder over and over, chewing on a hunk of bread.
“Are you talking about Gerard?” Silver asked, sitting down between them and forcing them to move aside to make room. He smiled fondly and tickled his monkey’s metal chin before looking between the two men again. “Well?”
“Yeah... I was telling Frankie about what Gerard’s like... at night...” Cain whispered, Silver’s finger halting under Cog’s chin and he turned shocked eyes on Cain, biting his lip as he glanced at Frankie.
“What did you tell him that for?” He hissed, Frank blushing and Cain frowned, slapping Silver’s arm.
“Frank likes Gerard.” He shrugged, making the mechanic’s blush deepen. “I thought he’d want to know. It’s hardly any secret, no doubt Gerard will be sneaking into his room sometime soon.” He shrugged, Frank staring at him in surprise.
“Really?” He squeaked, not sure if he was happy about that or not. Part of him was horrified, not wanting to wake up in the night to find Gerard all over him, but then another part, deep deep inside... was thrilled by the idea of such an erotic, and forbidden wake up call. “But I... I hardly know him.”
“Doesn’t matter.” Cain and Silver said at the same time, Silver once again playing with his monkey.
“You’re a good looking guy Frankie, that’s all that matters.” He said simply, Frank biting on the inside of his cheek and he looked down at his hands clasped in his lap, frowning to himself. “I wouldn’t worry about it.” Silver added when he saw the worried look on his face and he gently touched his shoulder, Cogs scuttling down his arm and up onto Frank’s shoulder with a cheerful chirp. “If you ask him to stop he will... but odds are... when he gets going... you won’t want him to stop.”
Frank looked at Silver with parted lips, Cogs watching him with those strange, bead eyes as he gnawed on the bread, his eyes rolling in his head every time he went to blink. The monkey chirped happily and nuzzled its head against Frank’s cheek as a sign of affection, Frank jumping and giggling a little before Silver scooped the monkey up and held him in his lap with a laugh.
“N’aww you cute little monkey...” He cooed, tickling its chin again as Cain turned his blue eyes back to Frank.
“Besides, you’re sharing a wagon with Pierre right?” He asked, Frank nodding as he looked to him. “Mm... then you have nothing to worry about. I have my own wagon, so does Silver, that’s why Gerard comes to us so much. It’s just convenient. He can’t very well go to you when you’re sharing with Pierre.” He shrugged, Frank nodding slowly and hating himself for feeling a little disappointed at that.
“But then again... Pierre’s into men too...” Silver said thoughtfully, Frank’s stomach lurching and his head gave a strange spin. Was everyone in this damn place queer?
“What!?” He squeaked, Cain smacking Silver again.
“Dammit Silver stop scaring him!” He scolded, Silver giving him an innocent look and he threw his hands in the air.
“Don’t worry about Pierre Frankie, he’s into guys but he’s into girls too. But mostly he’s just really big on his job. He won’t do anything to you, he won’t even look at you out of line. I shared with him for a whole year before I got my own wagon, and he was nothing more than a really good friend.” Cain said soothingly, leaning across Silver to stroke the back of Frank’s hand with his fingertips. “You can count on him for anything.” He smiled and Frank breathed a small sigh of relief, nodding.
“Okay... thanks.” He smiled, leaning back on his elbows and deciding the conversation needed to be desperately steered away from topics such as Gerard and his sneaky sex habits... “So... how did you guys come to join the circus?” He asked softly, Silver giving an excited ‘oooh!’ and he sat up straighter, Cain smiling fondly as Silver launched into his tale.
Frank chuckled and smiled softly, trying to pay as much attention as he could but in the back of his mind he was imagining going to sleep tonight and waking up to Gerard touching him in all the wrong places, making him feel so good. Imagining the way those lips would feel against own, to be taken just for enjoyment and then left as if it never happened. Such a painful, horrendous... delicious thought. And across from him, those deep blue eyes stared intently.