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22 August 2008 @ 10:33 pm
[fanfic] The Greatest Show On Earth (1/?)  
Title: The Greatest Show on Earth
Chapter 1: Farsighted
Author: tiptoe39
Rated: PG for now
Summary: AU. Welcome to the circus. A lion tamer meets the newest act to come aboard.


He flies through the air with the greatest of ease,
The daring young man on the flying trapeze...


Matt Parkman hummed to himself as he swept the floor of the cage. Leona had been shedding again, he noted, wondering to himself if she and Janice were overdue for a grooming. Lord knew Janice was moody when she hadn't been groomed, and if Leona had begun to shed, it was only a matter of time before the bigger lioness began to pace her cage, shooting him dirty looks. As though he could control the whims of fate and the schedules of hairdressers. He was only a lion tamer, after all. Humans were more than he could handle.

They'd wheeled into town a few days ago, and had been setting up for opening night, a scant two days away, ever since. Matt was actually excited that they were pitching the tent this time, even though the stagehands were grumbling. Too often these days they'd been booked in ultraslick arenas that usually hosted basketball games or rock concerts. That sort of thing not only drove up ticket price but also felt fundamentally inauthentic to Matt. A circus should be on an abandoned field, dry grass between the toes of little kids, moms and dads squinting a little as they entered the realm of magic and mystery that was the tent. Taking your seat in a convention center named for a credit card just wasn't the same.

At heart, Matt was equal parts regular guy and showman. He saw the rustic charm of old-style circuses as equal or superior to the newfangled neon-laced cacophony that seemed to be the trend. Sure, they were breathtaking, in their own way, but how could you beat the allure of the sideshow behind the main tent, shrouded in mystery, or the smell of sawdust and animal hair that seeped into your lungs as you made your way across the carnival grounds toward the ticket sellers? It wasn't always the flashiest thing that was the most magical. That's why he loved the circus. It was heart-stopping, jaw-dropping, mind-blowing entertainment, but it was also all about tradition.

A flash of violet caught his eye, and he turned briefly to catch the back end of a midair somersault. Peter came down like a bolt of lightning and caught Nathan's outstretched hands as his feet jolted against his big brother's shoulder. The rosy-cheeked grin he gave when their eyes met was priceless, Matt thought. There was something intimate about it, like a shared joke. It was the sort of bond that reinforced his worldview. The most dazzling stunts in the world are made all the more magical when they're passed through families.

Which made Matt himself sort of a weird case. He'd romanticized his own father's abandonment of the family, never realizing the sarcasm in Dad's voice when he threatened year after year to run away and join the circus. When he finally made good on his threat and disappeared, Matt had stubbornly convinced himself that if he went to enough circuses, he'd somehow find Dad again. He never did, and with maturity came the sad realization that if he'd run away to join anything, it was the Mob, or, if he was lucky, Alcoholics Anonymous. The silver lining was that Matt fell in love with the circus. He'd always loved animals, and suddenly his path in life was clear and illuminated. His mother said nothing. Perhaps she was used to being left by then.

For better or for worse, he was now known to the world (in those fleeting moments they bothered to remember) as Master of the Menagerie Mateo Palazzo, which cracked him up a good deal because he had about as much Italian (or Spanish, or whatever it was) in him as Janice did. In the end he was a nice Jewish boy from a suburb of Los Angeles who dealt with cranky middle-aged women on a regular basis, just like every other nice Jewish boy on the planet. It was just that his happened to be of a different species.

He laid the broom against the wall and wiped the sweat from his brow with a rag he kept in one pocket. Mr. Linderman always said he didn't have to do his own cleanup, that they had stagehands for that, but Matt knew that taking care of his girls' cages was essential to retaining their trust. Animals were so deliciously simple where that sort of thing was concerned. But his lionesses wanted clean cages, food, and an occasional grooming, and for that they were more than willing to behave themselves. It wasn't rocket science or mind-reading, both of which human women seemed to demand in spades. He'd given up on them entirely.

Stretching as he left the cage with a pat on Leona's snout, he surveyed the setup. The Linderman Circus actually had a pretty sweet lineup, and Matt was glad to have come aboard. The Flying Petrelli Brothers were good friends by now, and while their mother scared the crap out of him, she was a hell of a sideshow barker. Apparently earlier in life she'd been a high-wire star herself, but now that her sons were a tumbling act in their own right, she'd found a less treacherous occupation. And the sideshow itself was full of fun folks - the Savage Strongwoman, Niki, who was sweet as sugared tea when she wasn't on; Nuclear Ted, the firebreather, who was a lovable grouch; and the sweet fifteen-year-old coal-walking, sword-swallowing Claire the Daredevil, who could do ridiculously risky things and walk away without a scratch. He felt less enthused about the Samurai Clown Co., but that was just because he thought their schtick was bound to be outdated once the kids got off their Japanese animation kick and on to the next big thing. But for the meantime, at least the circus could boast authentic Japanese clowns.

Nathan Petrelli came by and clapped him on the back. "Hear the new guy's on his way as we speak," he said in a conspiratorial tone. "Linderman's gone to pick him up at the train station."

Matt wrinkled his nose. "You know something? I completely forgot about him. What's his deal again?"

"Some sort of solo trapeze superstar from India. Does crap at a hundred feet that makes guys like me glad to hit solid ground when we're done tumbling." Nathan laughed. "Mo something is his name. I can't remember."

"Right, right." Matt snapped his fingers. "I remember now. Linderman was pretty damn excited to get his hands on him, right?"

Nathan made a dismissive clicking noise with his tongue. "We'll see if he's worth it."

Peter came around then with bottles of water, and they drank and laughed under the tent's white peaks of canvas, rising up like meringue to faraway points. Behind them, Janice stirred in her sleep and licked her chops. Matt gazed at her fondly as he walked away. He'd have to see about that groomer.




A small mob had grown outside the tent by the time Linderman returned. They were craning their necks, squinting, in a double row at the first sight of his car. A new member of the circus family was typically greeted with the same fanfare and anxiety as a new member of any other family, and every last one of them felt like the father-to-be pacing across the waiting room, stomach in knots. Would he fit in? Would he be spectacular, as advertised? Was there something hideously wrong with him that he was relegated to their group, as opposed to one of the bigger-name shows out there? All their futures were on the line, so they all turned up to gawk, welcome, and secretly judge the new arrival.

Finally the car, ivory as its owner's hair and just as quixotic, spun to a halt, and Linderman emerged. It never failed to amuse Matt how very much he looked the part of a ringmaster. Small, sprightly, with a bound in his step uncharacteristic of his age, he spun a cane and a tall tale with equal dexterity, but nonetheless sharply oversaw the day-to-day affairs of the circus that bore his name. Linderman was everyone's father and no one's friend. He was gleaming and multifaceted as a diamond.

Now, as always, he spread his arms as though embracing the audience that had assembled. "Well, hello there, everybody," he said with a wink. "I wonder, whatever could have brought you all out here?" The throng gave a laugh, and Linderman chuckled appreciatively in response. "Well. As you all know, I've been quite excited for a while now to bring aboard our newest member..."

As Linderman spoke, Matt felt a prickle of anticipation go through him. Following some instinct, as though a ghost had called his name, he turned.

Off to the side, a skinny figure was tiptoeing into one of the tents. A long coat and glasses obscured most of the details, but Matt caught a glimpse of dark skin and shaggy black curls. Suspicion bristled beneath his skin, and he slipped out of the crowd in pursuit of the trespasser. Behind him, Linderman came to the end of his speech and opened the car door to a chorus of gasps. The last Matt heard was a startled, "Well, goodness! Isn't that unusual!"




The figure was waiting just on the inside of the tent. It was hunched over, fiddling with something, far too close to the knots of great rope that kept the tent pegs tethered and the whole contraption up. Matt had a flying dip of panic, imagining saboteurs, arsonists, anything and everything bad that could come of a shady stranger in a circus tent unnoticed by the rest of humanity. Lord knows circuses were good extortion targets. They were groups of misfits, unemployable by the world at large. Doing handstands on horses wasn't a terribly marketable skill set.

And this guy, now making small annoyed sounds like a rat gnawing in vain at a trap, unkempt, shifty... it was all more than Matt's nerves could take.

He eased his whip from his belt and hooked the handle around the stranger's neck.

"Don't move," hissed Matt. The man dropped what he was holding and burst into the shakes, stuttering incoherently. Leaning forward to see what had fallen, Matt caught a whiff of something he didn't recognize, a scent exotic and warm. It caught him in its thrall for an instant, transporting him somewhere far away. He wanted to breathe it in again, wanted to savor it. But the strange man was still in his grasp, one hand trying in vain to pry the whip's butt from his throat, the other reaching lamely toward the sawdust where he'd dropped... a pair of spectacles?

Matt let go, and the man stumbled forward, grabbing in the dirt and groping a moment for the glasses. "I'm not... I'm not doing anything!" he protested. He had a delicate accent that reminded Matt of sweeping sails and creaking ships headed toward foreign lands. His words blew like wind pass Matt's ears.

"Who are you? What are you doing sneaking in here?" The whip jumped on the ground briefly, and the man jumped along with it. He adjusted the glasses on his nose and squinted up at Matt. He had the face of a professor. His lips were pursed quizzically.

"I've... I've come to work here," he said. "I didn't realize I was likely to be assaulted."

Matt rolled his eyes. Someone else who'd thought running away to join the circus was as simple and literal as it sounded. They'd had kids like that before, although this man looked to be old enough to know better. They reminded Matt of his own stupid naivete, and he did his best to make sure their misconceptions were clearly dealt with. "If you want a job, you can talk to the front office," he said brusquely. "Unless you want her as a boss." He pointed at Janice's cage.

"Oh!" The man jumped as Janice rose to her full height and paced in a slow circle, never taking her eyes off the newcomer. But when he turned back to face Matt, he was glowing. "She's marvelous. I think she may need a haircut, however."

"I beg your..." Matt paused in mid-tantrum as the pieces fell into place. "You're the new act?"

He straightened up. "Yes. I'm Mohinder. And you would be..."

"What the hell are you doing sneaking around?" Matt couldn't help shouting. He didn't understand this guy one bit. "They're all out front waiting to meet you and this is what you do? What's wrong with you?"

To his surprise, Mohinder looked like he was near tears. "I'm... not terribly good with people," he confessed. "I'd much prefer not to have so much fanfare devoted to my arrival."

His look was so abject, so pitiful, that Matt softened a bit. "Aren't you in the wrong line of work, then?" he said quietly. "I mean, they're billing you as the greatest thing since sliced bread, and you're running away from a crowd?"

"I don't mind when they're far away," Mohinder said. "I'm just not terribly good when they're up close. Farsighted and all." He gave a lame little smile and pointed to his glasses.

Matt gave a labored sign. "Well, you can't avoid them forever. Folks here are good, I promise. Just come forward and say hello." He held out a hand. "I'm Matt, by the way."

"A pleasure." Mohinder gave a grin and took his hand. At the touch, Matt was overwhelmed again by that spicy, warm scent. Involuntarily, his eyes closed. He saw bustling markets and temple domes in his mind, transported and unbreathing. A sudden visitor to a faraway place.

It was all gone again when Mohinder let go of his hand. Feeling slightly disoriented, Matt guided him back outside to meet the others.




One day to opening, and the groomer was finally dealing with Janice and Leona's small hair problem. Matt sat between them, allowing them to gnaw on some beef as they purred and batted their paws playfully at him. His big, sleepy girls. They made him smile.

Through a slit in the curtains he could see practice well under way in the Big Top. Adam was walking on stilts, with Hiro and Ando trying comically to cut him down with their floppy samurai swords. Peter and Nathan twirled like twin stars above the mats, crossing each other in a trail of entangling limbs briefly before casting off again. Sandra threw sharp commands at her trained dogs, who marched like a miniature canine drum corps in an obedient circle. It was the whirl of activity that made up a typical day before performance, and it made Matt feel at home and comfortable. His eyes and mind traveled upward as though to catch a fleeting daydream.

Something sparkled at the crest of the big top, and Matt sat forward suddenly. A star, glittering and ethereal, unfolded like a flower, turned in a series of dizzy cartwheels, melted into the shape of a crescent moon. Whatever it was, it shone like light itself, sequined and breathtaking. Matt squinted, willing himself to see further and clearer.

Brown skin glinted in the reflected sunshine. Matt got to his feet and moved forward through the opening. His vision resolved and he stared, utterly transfixed.

How it was possible that the shy, mousy man who'd stuttered and groped for his glasses before could possibly be this stunning creature of light and movement utterly eluded Matt. Mohinder's body, stretched in a thousand directions and moving always with the quiet grace of water, was beyond his powers of description or comprehension. A beauty so raw that it defied words. His heart was thumping like the hooves of show horses, regular and deep but too fast to begin to catch.

Was this what it was to be farsighted? Something so plain, so unobtrusive up close transformed into this... this phenomenon at a distance? Matt wanted to burn it into his brain. His nails tore up the flesh of his palm. His insides were churning with emotion he couldn't identify.

For a whirling instant he thought Mohinder spotted him and smiled. But he couldn't be sure.

Matt stumbled backward, found his seat again, and mopped his brow as though he'd been the one suspended above a vat of nothingness. God, he'd give just about anything to be farsighted right now. Just so he could look this man in the eyes and smile back.

TO BE CONTINUED (?)
 
 
 
EmmyHildy: M/M - Can I Keep Him?emmyhildy on August 23rd, 2008 04:03 am (UTC)
Yes, Please!!!

So far this is way better than what I had imagined!!

"Taking your seat in a convention center named for a credit card just wasn't the same." that's totally what it was like last night...

"Matt sat between them, allowing them to gnaw on some beef as they purred and batted their paws playfully at him. His big, sleepy girls. They made him smile." SOOOOOOOOOOO cute, little Matthew and his big ol' kitties!

I love that Mohinder loves them too! :D

And he's so cute with his acute shyness...

Please continue! If you need plot points you could always use Sylar as a bad guy/rival circus owner/rival for Mo's affections...
Sheila!: Alison Goldfrapp - In Love With A Strictmsbhaven on August 23rd, 2008 07:10 am (UTC)
Dude, if you promise to continue I will read it.
jean_beejean_bee on August 23rd, 2008 01:06 pm (UTC)
You must continue this! I love shy Mohinder and Matt the Lion Tamer is too cute.
plotbunny_tiffplotbunny_tiff on August 23rd, 2008 08:19 pm (UTC)
::grabs you by the lapels and shakes you violently::

I swear by everything I hold dear, if you don't finish this fic I will do awful, horrid, unspeakable things to your person, do you understand me?!?!

...either that or I'll be sad and quite pouty, and mumble under my breath as I cry and sulk.
Tiptoe39: lina gourrytiptoe39 on August 24th, 2008 12:48 am (UTC)
well, if you insist! :goes to post on communities:
wliberation @ livejournal: half and half of every piecewliberation on August 24th, 2008 08:17 am (UTC)
Continued? YES, please! This was fantastic. And I loved how you fitted the characters' acts to the show. Do continue, this seems like a start for a wonderful AU.
lea1-santomelea1santome on August 24th, 2008 08:47 am (UTC)
I love:

Matt domador of beasts, and Janice is a lioness.
Mohinder I think that has a little competition, because that keeps Matt has his job.

Me gusta:

Matt domador de fieras, y Janice es una leona.
Mohinder me parece que tiene un poco de competencia,pues tiene que Alejar a Matt de su trabajo.
Spondylus princepsmullu on August 24th, 2008 03:04 pm (UTC)
Please, please, please, please, please continue this. It's magical and colorful, and made of light and movement, and my god, a fangirl needs this in her life.

Linderman was my fav. "Small, sprightly, with a bound in his step uncharacteristic of his age, he spun a cane and a tall tale with equal dexterity." You just transported me there. I could see them all in their bright outfits, smell the lions and cotton candy, marvel over the Flying Petrelli Brothers and their perfect synchrony.

This wasn't a fic premiere... this was a movie teaser. A movie I definitely want to see.

Plot, you say? Why don't make it one of those easy circus movies, in which they may loose the bussiness and have to work together to save it? You know, it's easy and pretty linear... but the point here are the images and sounds, and the magic in the air (and how freaks will rule the world, of course).

Love you so.

This made my day.

I need a circus icon.
Tiptoe39tiptoe39 on August 25th, 2008 07:45 pm (UTC)
i just want you to know how much i loved this comment..... love you back.
savage2003 on August 25th, 2008 04:45 pm (UTC)
Janice is a lioness! Hee!

More Please
The Art of Feeling Stickykethni on August 25th, 2008 05:15 pm (UTC)
LOVE THIS! Okay I'll stop shouting :) Please, please continue? I'd love to see Mohinder admiring Matt with his lions.
saavikam77: Heroes Eclipsesaavikam77 on February 1st, 2009 06:20 pm (UTC)
Wowsa!! :D I so love Matt as a lion tamer, having given up on human women, preferring the simple company of lionesses. :p

All their roles just seem perfect!
Tiptoe39tiptoe39 on February 1st, 2009 06:30 pm (UTC)
hey, thank you honey. i hope this stuff is cheering yo up a tad. don't feel like you have to comment or cheer me on, just enjoy the stories. you have only to take care of yourself.
saavikam77: Heroes Eclipsesaavikam77 on February 1st, 2009 08:15 pm (UTC)
Oh, it definitely is! I'm loving this story so far. And it's great getting back into a Heroes mindset for tomorrow's mid-season premier! :D