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28 August 2008 @ 05:08 pm
Circus fic, part 3!!  
Title: The Greatest Show on Earth
Chapter III: Foreboding
Rating: PG-13 for brief language and general discussion of sexuality
Summary: AU. Welcome to the circus. The lion tamer meets a new act.
Author's Note: I am pretty much writing this stream of consciousness. Whatever happens, happens. Continuity may or may not be strong at all. Your feedback will probably have an inordinate amount of influence on the direction of this fic, so please, please, give me your ideas.

Matt's trailer was an absolute mess. Not that anyone there had a pristine trailer, except for perhaps Linderman himself, but his was particularly reminiscent of a recent hurricane. He had lion hair all over him when he came back from each show, and, too exhausted to sweep or collect laundry or do any of those little things that normal, nine-to-five folks need to do after a long day of work, he would strip off his clothes and lug his drooping body to bed. Occasionally in the morning, before heading outside, he'd look around in disgust and think he could not stay in such a pigsty one moment later. But his way of solving that was invariably to go elsewhere until he was too tired to see straight and just wanted his bed, clean or dirty.

Except for tonight he was having trouble sleeping. He dragged himself into bed and stared at the ceiling and saw bright, frightened, dark eyes. He heard Nathan's derisive words and saw the tinge of regret that hardened his jawline for just a moment. And he felt the hotness of the lights and felt distinctly like he did not deserve to have them on him. He was uneasy.

Eventually he kicked off the covers, found a dirty T-shirt and drawstring pants on the mass of musty clothes he called a floor, and went for a walk. The moon was full, which might have accounted for it. A long time ago in the circus they'd had a fortune-teller, an old woman who'd told him that great things happened during full moons and eclipses. Worlds changed, and people were drawn from darkness to light. With the moon almost too bright above his head, Matt squinted across the dark lawn and thought that he certainly fit into that description.

The dried grass looked blue and crunched underfoot. Somewhere in the heart of the city that lay like a silver whale on the horizon, a siren wailed, then it was quiet again. A breeze touched his cheek with cold fingers.

What was this discontent?

He found himself hoping against hope that Mohinder was sleepless too. He had a vision of the man, in ludicrous navy blue pajamas perhaps, padding along in his bare feet, the moon reflected in his eyes. Perhaps sleepwalking or in a trance, intoxicated by that spicy scent that seemed to follow him around. Matt had yet to identify that smell, but he knew he liked it. It whispered to him of secret places and unfamiliar languages. Even now, he remembered exactly the scent. But it was not on the wind tonight, and no blue-clad dream floated by with the moon in his eyes.

But there was someone out. It was Ted, his shaggy mane more lionlike than human, sitting with legs spread on the dusty ground and picking tiny blades of grass out of the dirt. Matt crouched beside him. "There'll be nothing left," he joked just short of Ted's ear.

"Jesus!" Ted jolted. "Don't scare me like that, man."

"Sorry." Matt liked Ted. He was a scary-looking, moody loner who on his best days looked like he'd just woken up after a weeklong coma. He'd lost his wife several years ago, but he still put her up on a pedestal and was prone to bouts of long melancholy. Ted was such a freak, such an absolute nowhere man, that Matt couldn't help being fond of him. You had to appreciate honesty and devotion that raw and unchecked. Being around Ted was easy, because Ted didn't play games. He was what he was, and if you didn't like it, you could just walk away, because he wasn't about to accommodate you. But that meant that you could be who you were around him, too.

"Fucking full moon," Ted said. "Makes me want to tear a place apart."

"We could howl," Matt said. "Course, we might wake the elephants."

"Wake Mama, more like." Mama was what the sideshow acts called Angela Petrelli. Matt wasn't the only person who dreaded her; she was one of the few people who could scare the bejesus out of Ted and keep him in line.

"Right. Well, maybe we could howl quietly?"

Ted snickered and stage-whispered "Awoooo!" Matt echoed him, and they feigned howling at the moon for several seconds before collapsing in laughter.

"So what's got you up tonight?" Ted wondered, cocking his head. The fringe of hair that hung unshaven from his cheek fell earthward.

"Don't know." Matt shrugged. "I've had a weird feeling for a few days. I don't know what it is. Just like... something's going to change. Is that weird?"

"Yes." The word was spoken so plainly that Matt had to smile. "But that don't mean it's wrong. I had that feeling before. Sort of bubbles up your insides, don't it?"

"I feel like I'm going to explode," Matt confessed, opening up the palms of his hands and spreading his fingers into a pale firework against the dark grass. "Just... boom, and all of a sudden nothing's the same."

"Exploding's my act," Ted said with a grin, and Matt chuckled appreciatively. "Look, man, you bottle it all up inside and it's gonna kill you. Whatever it is, you let it out, OK?"

"That's good advice. Where'd you hear that?" They gave brief laughs each, remembering an earlier day in a different situation. Matt wondered if, when he'd been the one to give that advice, he hadn't fully comprehended just how terrifying "letting it out" could be. Because the unease he felt in his gut was scaring the hell out of him, and he didn't want to just ride it and see where it led. He'd much rather tuck it away in a corner of his heart and learn how to forget it.

Fat chance.

He woke up late to banging on his trailer door and opened it, bleary-eyed and blinking, to discover nervous eyes behind wire-rimmed glasses and that mysterious scent, stronger than ever.

"I... I'm sorry, but..."

"Why is it," Matt grumbled, "that every time I see you the first thing you say is 'I'm sorry'?"

"I'm sorry!"

"I walked right into that one." Matt squinted and swung the door open wider. "Come on in. What's up?"

"The... the lions," Mohinder stuttered.

Now Matt was wide-eyed and hyperventilating. "Is there something wrong?"

"No!" Mohinder's eyes flew so wide that his irises seemed like specks in a sea of white. "No! It was simply that you... well, you overslept, and I was afraid they might need to be fed, and..."

Matt stared at him for a long moment. His face screwed up in panic, his glasses uneven on his nose, his hands clasped. Unshaven. Matt's fingers itched with a sudden awareness of what the stubble on his cheek must feel like. That vague sense of foreboding came over him again. But the comedy was too much and he had to laugh.

"You're worried about the lions getting fed?" he said, a hiccup of breath sneaking into his syllables. "When was the last time you ate something?"

"I've eaten. I'm worried about the lions, I--" Halfway through his sentence, Mohinder realized Matt was laughing at him, and he folded his arms over his chest and huffed. "Never mind, then. Obviously my humanitarianism was misplaced. Perhaps I'll let them confuse you with a side of beef this time." He whirled as though to walk away.

Matt's hand was on his arm before he knew what he was doing.

Like a jolt of electricity, red heat was running up his fingers into his palm, wrist, forearm, elbow... He let go before it stampeded the rest of his system, hearing himself pant unnaturally. "D-don't," he said. "I'm sorry, I wasn't making fun, I just... look, do you want to come down and help me feed them?"

And now he was panting even harder. Was he losing his mind?

But Mohinder's eyes had lit up. "Would you mind?" he said eagerly.

They were striding across the fairgrounds in the middle of the day in plain view of everyone, but Matt couldn't shake the feeling that they were getting away with something, like teenagers sneaking out for a rendezvous in the moonlight. Mohinder lagged a few steps behind him, and when Matt stole a glance over his shoulder, he saw steel in the man's eyes. It made his heart quicken and his fingers clench over his palms. Why? he kept thinking. For God's sake, why?

He didn't know the answer. He didn't even know what the question was about. So he closed his eyes, grimaced, and went on.

At the tent, he bent over the cooler and pulled out a frigid, heavy bone of lamb. "Here," he said, shoving it at Mohinder.

"It's slimy!" He fumbled, hands sliding everywhere and struggling to find a grip that would stay put.


"No." Mohinder answered reflexively but almost immediately relented. "A little." His glasses slipped down over his nose, and he lifted one hand to adjust them, then realized how dirty his fingers were and reconsidered, tilting his head back and twitching his nose to try to coax the glasses back to position. It was a hysterical pantomime, and Matt snickered, lifting another bone with one hand and striding over to push the glasses up. Angry thunderbolts of eyebrows came down behind the lenses. "What?"

"The look on your face," Matt explained lamely, still chuckling.

"Do you do anything but mock me?" Mohinder's face darkened.

"Hey, look, you're the one who wanted to feed them." Matt shrugged, striding over to the cage where Janice waited impatiently for her breakfast, snarling and clawing at the worn concrete of her enclosure.

"You offered!"

Matt handed over the bone, and Janice jumped on it, giving him grateful, round eyes. "You looked interested."

A thump behind him made him jump and Janice growl. Mohinder had dumped the lamb bone back in the cooler and was wiping his hands on the rag hanging on a nail behind it. "And you figured, what?" he snapped. "I'd be a useful foil for your rapier wit? Is that why you've been indulging my curiosity?"

Matt's jaw dropped. This guy was genuinely upset! "Jesus, Mohinder! What the hell is wrong with you?"

Mohinder stopped short, as though just now hearing his own words. "I..." His head dropped. "I'm sorry. Never mind." He turned away again.

Matt felt something crushing his ribs. "Wait." He scooted around, wiping his hands on his pants, and grabbed Mohinder's arms, forcing himself to hold on despite the the overwhelming rush of heat and energy that flowed through him at the contact. "Wait, wait, I'm sorry," he said. "I'm just... I'm like that when I'm nervous."

Mohinder squinted behind the glasses in a way that reduced his eyes to nearly nothing. "But... what are you nervous about?"

A beat of silence, then Matt shook his head. "I don't know," he said blankly.

Somewhere in the back of his brain, though, he looked into that flawless, delicate face and thought he might just know after all.

Mohinder smiled ruefully and backed away. Matt's hands felt cold at the loss of contact. "I know that I'm terrified," he said. "I just don't understand why you should be. I'm not a lion, after all."

Matt picked up the discarded meat to hand to Leona. "Humans are much scarier than lions. Trust me, I've had practice." Leona gnawed on the bone contentedly, but Mohinder shuddered. That was the moment Matt put the pieces together. He turned jerkily. "Wait. You're scared of them?!"

Mohinder didn't answer, but that's because he didn't have to. His eyes said it all.

"What, did a lion eat your sister or something?"

"No!" snapped Mohinder. "Stop that. And leave my sister out of it."

"I don't even know if you have a sister!" Matt threw up his hands. "Why are you making this so difficult? I'm having a hard enough time talking to you as it is, feeling all weird whenever I see you, and..."

He stopped short. Well, that certainly simplified things. He didn't even know that was the case, but he sure did now. Mohinder made him feel something he didn't know what to do with. Foreboding? Not nearly so unpleasant. It was more like foreshadowing -- the distinct feeling this man was significant to his future. And he was frightened to find out just how.

Matt shuffled his feet a little and took a long breath, trying to be casual. "Look, um, I think it's great that you're trying to face your fears like this. If that's what you're trying to do, that is." Mohinder nodded briefly, eyeing the lionesses. "And you're welcome to come visit the girls anytime. They're nothing to be afraid of, I'm sure you'll figure that out soon. And hey, I'm scared of heights, which makes us a matched pair, right?"

The moment he said it, he knew he'd put his foot in his mouth. Mohinder broke into a huge, pleased grin. "I'll have to bring you up to the top of the tent sometime, then," he said before sauntering away.

"So. I've got a problem."

Nathan and Peter were playing cards and, surprise-surprise, drinking. "Everyone's got problems, Parkman," he said. "For example, my problem is that I'm pretty sure Pete's got the seven of diamonds, and I need it." He took a swig as Matt sat down and peeked at his hand.

"You guys play gin? What are you, old ladies?"

"As long as it sounds like a drink, he's good with it," Peter said with a sunny grin. "So what's your problem, Matt?"

"It's a who." Matt watched Nathan pull a card from the pile and toss it down again in disgust. "This new guy, this Mohinder. He gets to me."

"Told you he was full of shit." Nathan scowled as Peter picked up the card he'd discarded with a grin. "Pete's got the seven of diamonds, right? Read his mind or something, Parkman."

"You're confusing me with another act." Matt laughed. "Anyway, it's not his schtick. It's the guy himself. He gets to me."

"What do you mean, he gets to you?" Peter had a tiny, secret smile on his face, as though he already knew.

Matt shrugged. "I don't know quite what it is. I can't stand him, then I can't stand it when he goes away. He's hard to look at, like looking at a... a car wreck. You know you shouldn't stare, but..."

"A car wreck?"

"Well. Um." Matt scratched his head. He was going to say "the sun," but that didn't seem quite appropriate. "The point is, I don't know what he's thinking."

"And you want to know." Peter was out-and-out grinning now, and it unsettled Matt.

"Well, sure. Of course. Wouldn't you?"

Still Peter's grin persisted, and that sense of foreboding came over Matt again, like a rush of air blowing open the door to a world he'd never seen. He bit his lip. Peter's smile reminded him of Mohinder's, a little bit. That wide, adorable, amused ray of sunshine that made everything seem brighter, but with a piece of wickedness that hinted at roller-coasters to come. A smile like a carnival.

"You do know what that sounds like, right?" Peter said. Slapping his card face-down on the discard pile, he turned to Nathan and declared, "Gin!"

Nathan moaned and buried his head in his hands. As for Matt, he sat paralyzed for a moment, then got up shakily and walked away.

You know what that sounds like, right?

Yeah. He knew just what it sounded like. And you wonder why a guy was scared.

There was so much to do in the world. Lions to tame and audiences to wow. Laughs to be had, food to eat and drinks to guzzle. He'd never felt the gap in his life that so many guys seemed to because of a lack of curves and long hair by his side. He didn't think that meant anything. He was more well-adjusted than others, that's all. As well-adjusted as circus folk can get, that is.

And he liked his girls. Wasn't that enough? They were smooth and strong and perfect. Did he need any other opposite-sex companionship? Of course not.

He had his needs, sure, but that was easily taken care of. Most of his sexual fantasies involved nothing more than a hot bath and a disembodied mouth or hand that didn't belong to anyone's body or personality. He'd tried his hand at real sex and tired of it quickly. It wasn't worth the stress.

But that was sex with women.

Why did the annoying Jiminy Cricket in his head have to have Peter's voice?

Matt closed his eyes and leaned back against the side of his trailer, his hand resting on the railing of the steps leading to its door. He felt as though he could hear the stirrings of the hand drums and strumming of the sitar that accompanied Mohinder's act. He thought of the lean, long limbs extending forever like a star's rays. The dark face. What must Mohinder's face look like while he's doing that act? Eyes closed -- of course he wouldn't be wearing his glasses -- with lashes fluttering against the cocoa blush of brown skin? Mouth upturned in rapture? Jaw trembling with the exertion?

He was clutching the railing now for dear life. There might as well have been nothing beneath his feet at all, because he wasn't sure he wasn't falling to his death. His whole body was tingling. He could feel each individual molecule of air brushing past his skin.

Great things happened during full moons and eclipses, he'd been told. Worlds changed, and people were drawn from darkness to light. And Matt had a horrible feeling his world was about to change, but he didn't feel terribly enlightened.

Why couldn't he just have a paralyzing fear of lions like a normal human being?

lea1-santomelea1santome on August 28th, 2008 09:56 pm (UTC)
Does Fear of Leon or to be close to Matt?

Is the will guess right?
Miedo a las leonas o a estar cerca de Matt?

¿La adivina tendrá razón?
Tiptoe39tiptoe39 on August 28th, 2008 10:04 pm (UTC)
hmmm, which is it?

Maybe both! :D
EmmyHildy: M/M - Stolen Glanceemmyhildy on August 28th, 2008 10:31 pm (UTC)
Poor silly Matt! I love that his Jiminy Cricket voice sounds like Peter!!

I'm rewatching the first season and I have to say... Janice is a T$%T and Matthew is so sweet and cute with his I-need-to-bring-down-HRG and Mohinder's a bit boring without Matt ;)
Leaheridanie on August 29th, 2008 07:05 am (UTC)
Oooh I love it! Matts physical reaction to Mohinder is just excellent! <3
savage2003 on August 29th, 2008 04:53 pm (UTC)
They so need to kiss.

I love your Peter and Nathan.
(Deleted comment)
Tiptoe39: thank youtiptoe39 on September 1st, 2008 11:06 am (UTC)
there will be more ted in the next chapter....

saavikam77: Heroes Eclipsesaavikam77 on February 1st, 2009 09:02 pm (UTC)
Oh, Matt... *pets him*

I so love that his Jiminy Crickett voice was Peter's. XD Seems like he's in the need for a conscience to guide him, here, and Pete's so good at that.

And oh, that argument! Silly men... :p