The hell was that banging? Henry dropped the bottle to the floor, startling awake with a snort. For a second he thought he was hearing things, but then he heard the noise again. [b "The fuck is going on..."] he grumbled groggily through his half-awake fog.
The rain was too heavy to see through the window. Having no choice, he unlatched the lock and pulled the door open. [b "Amanda?"] his brow furrowed in confusion.
Realizing he was being stupid, leaving her on the porch in the pouring rain, he ushered her inside. [b "Are you okay? Did something happen?"]
Henry latched the door behind her and ushered her into the backstage area. [b "Take a seat. We have to warm you up or else you'll get sick."]
Grabbing whatever blankets he could, he placed them in a pile before finding some spare clothing from the trunks of second-hand items he'd procured from a thrift store. [b "I'll turn my back,"] he stammered, realizing she'd have to undress from her soaked clothes. [b "Let me know when you're finished. I'll grab you something hot to drink."]
All that was left was a tea from a tin Lettie had given him. He wasn't even sure what kind of tea it was, only that he couldn't figure out how to make it properly. He tried to strain the leaves out as best as he could, but he could still see flakes stuck to the sides of the mug. [b "Best I could find on short notice,"] he was apologetic as he handed it over once she was decent.
Amanda wasn’t going to enjoy this. The carriage ride was a new experience. Lilly wouldn’t shut her trap. It was annoying. She raved about the the dinner. About how much things changed. The parties.
They didn’t go to Lilly’s house. This place was more isolated. Bigger. Open. Amanda obviously doesn’t fit in. All this talk about wealth and what they do. She got a few disgusting glares. Duke Richard would bump into her a lot. He even got her a pearl necklace if he rown. Lilly was happier than Amanda was. she tried to tell him she couldn’t. But he insisted. It’s a thank you for keeping your word and being a guest.
The party went on for hours. She left on her own. Walking away from the mansion. She couldn’t be there any longer. It took her hours to figure out where she was at and even longer to return to the old museum. Her feet are killing her. She took off the heels trying to get in. Amanda bangs on the door. When she stopped it was as if the god clapped and it began to pour. She bangs her head against the door. This is just what she needed. Great.
It felt like it was over far too soon.
Aside from the minor hiccup at the beginning of the show, the rest went off without a hitch. The crowd had been absolutely enthralled, clapping enthusiastically with every act and laughing at every joke. Henry had never felt more proud of anything in his entire life. At curtain call, he made everyone go out one by one to take their bow, so they each got a moment alone to bask in the applause before everyone took the stage to bow together.
Everyone was buzzing with excitement backstage, adrenaline still pumping through their veins. [i "They clapped for me the loudest!"] Charles flexed his muscles.
[i "You wish!"] Theo removed the extra padding from under his shirt. [i "The kids laughed at my act the most!"]
[b "Now now children,"] Henry interrupted, removing his jacket. [b "Play nice. Everyone was as fantastic as I knew you'd be."]
His attention was pulled towards the exit as Charles wolf-whistled at Amanda in her fancy dress, Lily at her side. He could hear his friends playfully teasing her, but the knowledge of where she was going so dressed up was not lost on him. He waited until they trickled away one by one before approaching. [b "Congratulations on a great show,"] he smiled softly. [b "You look stunning. I hope tonight goes well for you."]
God, it was a lie. He didn't want it to go well at all. He wanted her to hate every second with the Duke, and refuse whatever proposals he sent her way. Snapping out of it as Lily cleared her throat to hurry Amanda on, he took off his top hat to break the final string of magic from the show. [b "Be safe,"] he advised to her quietly before walking away to join the others for the bottle of scotch they'd procured.
[i "Cheer up, boss,"] Charles handed him a glass. [i "Ain't like she's leaving forever."]
[b "Let's hope not,"] he sighed, throwing back the shot.
After the rest of them had their fill and gone off to sleep, Henry took the second bottle of liquor to sit in the front row. He nursed a few drinks for a while, staring up at the hand-painted backdrop O'Malley had done for the show. The events of the night played on a loop in his head, but his thoughts kept turning back to what might be happening on Amanda's date.
God, he hated the Duke.
No pep talk is going to prepare them for this. The first show is always scariest one. They were a little off choreography but everyone was helping each other out.
Amanda interacted a lot more. Just to help everyone out as much as she can. She even changed her performance a little to interact with the other more. Even the audience if they don’t duck. The look on Lilly’s face did make her smile fade for a few seconds.
The second the finished and the clapping began, Amanda ran out. Lilly was there waiting. Not one word was exchanged. Amanda didn’t like the pink dress or how she pinned her hair. Lilly hands her a coat. The girls weren’t quick enough to leave before the others got there.
“Don’t you look snob.”
“Wow. Maybe she is going to leave us. Look at what she’s wearing.”
[#Af18ae I’ll see you all tomorrow.]
“I bet everyone a round that she won’t stick around.”
The counties to talk. Amanda eyes watered. A deal is a deal. She began to walk out, closing the the coat. These stupid jewelry are actually heavy. Time to face the music.
[center [http://nafdress.com/assests/images/vintage-1930s-dresses-vintage-clothing-and-vintage-dresses-from-1557690.jpg Dress]]
He was going to throw up.
Without question, his stomach was going to heave his dinner all over the stage. Henry could hear the chatter of the packed audience, waiting for the start of the show. Sweat accumulated on his brow, but he wiped it away without a second thought. They'd worked so hard for all of this, he wasn't going to let nerves get in the way.
[b "Everyone ready?"] he rubbed his hands together.
The others appeared to be just as nervous as he was, if not more. Lettie kept glancing at the curtain, afraid of what awaited them in the spotlight. [b "Guys, we've been at this for weeks. We know what we're doing. This is our time, not theirs,"] Henry attempted to soothe them with a lackluster pep talk. [b "No more hiding, right?"]
Taking Lettie's hands, he pressed a kiss to her knuckles. [b "Showtime,"] he flashed her a smile.
Over her shoulder, he caught sight of Amanda in her costume. His breath was momentarily knocked from his lungs, remembering the young girl he'd seen all those years ago now standing before him, ready to fly again. [b "Let's go,"] he shook his head clear, grabbing O'Clancy's hand to haul him to his feet.
Unfortunately, he misjudged the giant's ability to stay balanced. [b "Woah woah woah!"] he put his hands up in an attempt to catch the man.
A few others stepped forward to stop him, but O'Clancy stumbled right on stage. Walter, Lettie, and Theo came to a halt beside him, eyes widening as the crowd fell to a hush. Henry could see the looks of stunned surprise - and some horrified - at the unexpected start.
Lettie began to back away behind the curtain, but Henry stopped her. [b "It's okay, you can do this."]
The confident woman he'd come to admire shook her head, incapable of speaking. [b "Lettie, they're going to love you, I promise,"] he turned her head to meet his eyes.
The singer turned back towards the crowd, catching sight of a little girl watching her with a friendly smile. And just like that, the spell was broken. Henry waved to the band to start playing the opening act. It was a little hiccup, but they could roll with it. He entered the stage with the rest of the performers, stretching a smile across his face as he jumped into the song with them.
[#Af18ae No harm done.] she says repeating it back. Amanda went to go out on her uniform. Amanda finally picked a routine. There’s no going back. It does interact with wolf boy and the tall guy. She would try to give them a positive pep talk. Keep them motivated and excited.
Amanda stops what she was doing to looo at Henry. All she was able to do was smile and get ready to say something when he walks away. Scratching her head, she ignored it to continue to get the place ready.
[#Af18ae I am but not about the show. A dinner party with rich snobs isn’t what i do. Plus I’m having a feeling she’s going to make me wear a corset. I do enjoy breathing very much so.]
“If you need back up I can hide under your skirt.” He says winking at her. Amanda laughs.
[#Af18ae I’m flattered but no thanks. If I he to pick I’ll choose wolf boy so he can bite them.]
“I’m honored. I suggested biting your friend to Henry but he said no.”
“Well what about me? I can sit on them” everyone laughs.
[#Af18ae I’ll be okay. Getting ready for the show is more important than wearing a corset. Let’s go before Henry yells at us.] Amanda walks away to panic else where.
When it finally was time for the show Lilly kept her word. She filled the seat. She even had a little more since there were kids. [#Af18ae We can do this.] says finishing putting her hair up in a pony tail. Amanda wants to say something to Henry but he seems to be keeping a distance. She’ll do the same.
Henry had heard more than enough of Lily's tantrum, from his place on the stairs. He'd been coming down in his fresh costume when he'd heard the shrill voice that pulled him to a stop. Regardless of how infuriated she made him, she was - somehow - Amanda's friend. And he had to be grateful that she at least opened her home so that Amanda had a place to sleep. So, he let his troupe handle the situation.
[i "I can bite her,"] a furry face appeared beside him.
[b "Jesus, Walter!"] Henry jumped, hitting his knee on the railing. [b "Don't sneak up on people. And no biting anyone! She'd probably insist you were rabid or something."]
The Dog Man looked like he'd brushed his hair for the first time in weeks, to compliment his own costume. If Henry was right, he'd even taken the time to brush his teeth. [b "Let's get started, shall we?"]
The band took a few minutes to tune and warm up, which gave them time to stretch and run through everything in their heads. Everyone was dazzled by their costumes, gushing over the shiny buttons and new materials. Henry couldn't help but smile at their excitement. Catching Amanda's eye, he saw the strain left behind by Lily's unannounced visit. [b "No harm done?"] he looked to make sure she was okay.
The first half of dress rehearsal went without much of a hitch. It felt odd, performing for an empty auditorium, but whenever he had the chance to watch from the side of the stage, it looked incredible. Even in the daylight when you couldn't see much of the spotlight on the performers, it was more professional than he could have imagined.
He checked on everyone during their fifteen minute intermission, making sure they all had water to drink and hydrate. Every performer was praised. Lettie, for her powerful vocals, Walter and the Giant for their humorous skit, and Charles for his commanding general act. When he approached Amanda, he had an encouraging smile on his face. [b "We're all excited to see your performance,"] he assured her. [b "Don't get hurt up there."]
He didn't allowed himself to linger in her company much longer. Lily made it clear that there needed to be a divide between professionalism and personal interactions. Henry didn't want Amanda to get the idea that he was blurring the lines of those boundaries, especially since he was still quite unknown to her.
Ouch. He acted like how the others normally would. Scared because she’s a freak. Although it can be because of her breath. Booze and vomit isn’t a good mix. It can’t be as bad as her fathers breath. Booze with vomit or natural. Blah.
[#Af18ae This place compared to where I used to live is almost like paradise. My crib was a chest and then a net.] she said leaning against a desk. Amanda goes to lay on the floor. [#Af18ae A girl like me isn’t used to such kindness. We normally had to fight for certain things or trade our most cherished things. But I could care less about the finer things of life. Happiness is all that matters. Plus I can survive with some sticky fingers if needed. It’s been a while but they would send the kids to get things. Food mostly. However, you be surprised on how certain rich people wanted to use some of use to steal things or get information. Apparently that’s how my parents met. Two different freaks robbing a place. Same talent. Love at... the fourth fight.] Amanda chuckles. [#Af18ae I apologize. Didn’t mean to go down memory lane. All is well. Besides having a empty stomach.] the girl pulls herself on the cot.
Amanda can’t sleep. Her mind is racing. It’s what lead her to drink. Using her arm she shielded her eyes. He girl did fall back to sleep without a problem. Her mind was playing tricks with everything that’s going on in it. In the morning she was woken up by the little guy. The witch is back. He hands her a bag that the witch told them to give to her. A toothbrush. Yes. Amanda thanks him before going to brush her teeth and brush her hair.
“You didn’t come home. We waited for you.”
[#Af18ae Lilly I’m so sorry. I... I went out to clear my head and lost track of time and other things. I’ll go home with you after the show.]
“I don’t know if I believe your word.”
“But you can’t. We need to celebrate together. It’s our first show.”
[#Af18ae I know and there would always be a celebration, but we also need the seats to be filled and she’s helping me. Because of her I have a roof over my head.]
“Stay here. We can help each other. It’s what we do. Henry won’t mind.”
“Now, now. Don’t be foolish. My home is far more better than this, this... place.”
“Listen lady you may have lost your way, but she hasn’t. She’s one of us. If Henry seemed her out it means she has something special. We all do. You lost your chance to be a snobby like them.”
“If you had the chance you would do the same thing. Not worrying about seats being filled or if there’s food for everyone or if we have to deal with an angry mob... I don’t live fear or poorly anymore. My biggest regret was not leaving sooner.” Lilly hissed.
Amanda wraps her arms around Lilly to take her outside. She tends to get everyone’s skin boiling. It’s not the time to start a feud. [#Af18ae Please go. I’ll see you and the other tonight.]
“Do I have your word? My husband isn’t going to keep you in our home much longer if your go against your own words.”
[#Af18ae You I’ve my word. After the show I’ll leave. Even if it’s in my costume.] it was obviously Lilly wasn’t alone. The trader had backup. She bows to them before heading inside. [#Af18ae Sorry about that. Let’s just practice and get this place ready for the show.] she says forcing a big smile.
First, he felt the poke against his cheek. Second, her alcohol-laced breath hit him in the face. Scrunching his nose, Henry forced his eyes open groggily. [b "Jesus Christ,"] he jumped a bit at how close she was hunched by him.
With the room only lit by the moonlight through the window, he could barely make out anything more than her silhouette. [b "What time is it?"]
Her order finally registered in his still half-asleep brain, and he slumped back in the chair. [b "You weren't exactly in a position to sleep sitting up,"] he yawned. [b "You probably would have slumped over the arm, and that would have caused a major cramp or two."]
He pointed back to the cot. [b "My family might have been poor, but my mother raised a gentleman. You can keep the cot for the night. We only have a few more hours until sunrise anyway."]
They would definitely need those last few hours of rest. The next day was going to be nonstop work for everyone. Everyone would dress in their costumes and run through the entire show without stopping, aside from the scheduled intermission. After they were satisfied, he would then help O'Malley clean and prepare the building for opening night. Just thinking about the work left him with sore bones.
[b "How are you feeling? You don't look as clammy and sick as you did earlier. Your eyes are more focused,"] he peaked out at her from under his jacket blanket.
Amanda may regret it in the morning. But right now it is a poetic justice to conquer... nothing. Her parents normally drinks for everything. She thought she’ll give it a try. No one stopped her this time around so she got a little too carried away this time around. She’s not going to remember any of this.
Some time in the middle of the night she slowly got up. There’s a weird taste in her mouth. Removing the blanket off her she spots Henry. He’s sleeping on a chair. Did he find her? More importantly how the heck did she get back? Crap, Lilly is going to be so bad. She was supposed to go home tonight. Groaning, her hands runs through her hair. Grabbing the trash can she slowly walks away using her free hand to hug her waist. She was planning on forcing herself to throw up but it came out naturally. Out of natural reaction she was ready to tie her hair but it was already tied up. It felt shitty and good to throw up.
Even though she shouldn’t be working on the hoop, she slowly messed with the sandbags to do so. It’s not going to be off the ground too high. The van wasn’t too far. She did stop a few times to vomit. Right now another shot sounds good. Maybe some bread too. What she thought she doing was right but now she’s messing everything up. She was supposed to have dinner with Lily and god knows who else and perform in a few hours.
Amanda goes outside to clean the trash can before drinking some water from to head back to the tiny... whatever it’s called again. Her brain is to fuzzy to think of the word. She bends down next to henry. [#Af18ae Hey...] she whispers poking his cheek. Poking him again she stand up. [#Af18ae Hey...] she says louder. [#Af18ae Go take your bed thing. I can take the chair. I don’t mind. Plus I rather take the chair... this is your place so you get it.]
Henry let out a tired laugh. [b "Alright. No voodoo doctor. At least you can kind of form sentences."]
He took a moment to grab the wool blanket from his desk chair, unfolding it and draping it over her. One thing he'd learned sleeping in the loft was that the overnight chill was a bitch. [b "Sorry, just let me..."] he used a spare ribbon to tie her hair back, so it wouldn't get covered in vomit if she ended up pitching forward to puke.
Tequila was nothing if not reliable at claiming victims. [b "It could be worse,"] he sighed.
It didn't take long for him to call it quits for the rest of the group. They were more than ready for the show, and deserved the night off to have some fun. He was the one that still needed the practice. [i "Have fun babysitting,"] Charles taunted from Walter's shoulders as they stormed out of the auditorium, eager to get to the pub.
Henry took advantage of the silence to tidy up backstage, putting everything in their proper place instead of the hurricane that they tended to leave it in. Once everything was somewhat neat, he forced himself into another hour of practice. It was a good thing that he wasn't the star of the show, because his dancing was lackluster compared to the others.
With his cot being occupied by the drunken trapeze artist, Henry resigned himself to a long night in the armchair across from her. If anything, he wanted to be close by in the event something went wrong during the night. Tomorrow was the final dress rehearsal before opening. He didn't want to lose a performer because he was careless. Propping his feet up on the short table between them, he covered himself with his jacket. [b "Sweet dreams,"] he murmured to her sleeping form, letting his eyes finally close.
Amanda stops staring st the ceiling seeing her new friends. [#Af18ae H-heyyyy] she says smiling. It was hard to stop smiling. Her smile fades seeing henry examining her. Yup, she messed. The girl shook her head no repeatedly. She feels fine. Not sick but maybe some guilt? Weirdness? She’s feeling something. Sick definitely isn’t it. Not yet at least. Stupidly, she laughs when he said not to vomit on her. She’s done it once in her life time. On her dad too which made it funnier. She rested her head on his shoulder.
When she opens her eyes she’s... somewhere. Her mind can’t fogure out where at the moment. [#Af18ae Five too many and no voodoo doctor. I’m safe. Okay.] Amanda says not making sense but it was her way of saying she did drink too much and she doesn’t need a doctor. In the morning she’ll take a shot, eat crackers and drink water all day. She’ll be fine. Her hand goes on top of his. [#Af18ae I fine. Go. Promise. Sorry. Worry no.] she mumbles closing her eyes. She’s probably going to look dead when she’s asleep. It has been a while since she been on a drinking binge. You get used to it living the circus life. [#Af18ae ...Tequila...] she mumbles shifting to get comfortable.
Henry took one look at her and his stomach sank. [b "Oh god,"] he hurried forward.
[b "What the hell happened?"] he crouched by where Amanda was sprawled on the ground.
The conman shrugged. [i "I ain't seen her til just now. Who knows what she got into?"]
Henry waved the man off, trying to figure out what he was going to do with the inebriated woman. [b "Amanda? Can you look at me?"] he tried to catch her eyes, but her pupils were blown out and she could barely focus on his finger. [b "Do you feel sick?"]
[i "She's going to need a bed and a cold cloth, boss,"] Lettie advised.
Shit. How was he going to do this without potentially spooking her? They'd never physically touched each other, other than a brief hug or handshake. What if she came to halfway up the stairs and assumed he was being inappropriate. Given her state of imbalance, he doubted he had much choice other than to try.
[b "Okay, up we get,"] he maneuvered his arms under her - one under her legs and one behind her back. [b "Please don't vomit on me."]
Given that O'Malley was the last drunk person he'd had to carry to a bed, Amanda was far lighter and easier to walk up the stairs with. By the looks of it, her hangover was going to be too painful to leave her in her usual place backstage, given all the noise.
Henry carefully laid her down on the cot he'd been using for a bed, placing a bucket beside her. He made sure to roll her on to her side, so that she wouldn't choke if she started getting sick. [b "How much have you had?"] he rested a hand on her cheek, forcing her eyes to meet his. [b "Should I get a doctor?"]
He'd heard of the charcoal concoction physicians gave patients to empty their stomach contents. She didn't appear on the verge of alcohol poisoning, but Henry was a naturally paranoid person. [b "You need to drink plenty of water, otherwise you're going to be in quite a bit of pain tomorrow."]
Amanda couldn’t focus. She tried to finish the outfit she was making herself. The girl quickly changed. from the back she watched everyone. They seem concerned. When Henry and whoever it was that was next to him moved she left through the front door. Lily was a block away talking to someone. The girl didn’t know whrrr to go. She’s never explored New York or got a tour. She asked around for a bar. A drink or two would do just fine.
The bar was empty and she had about four rounds. It wasn’t making her forget. It just made her head hurt. After paying she walks back. Slowly. O’Malley saw her stumbling and giggling. Maybe all she needed was time for the booze settle in. He helps her inside just to make sure she doesn’t hurt herself. “Boss we got a problem.” He says leaving her at the against the wall. “the new recruit had one to many.”
Since he left her she crawls away to get her place. She couldn’t walk because it mass the room spin. The girl was under the desk trying to nap. But it wasn’t working. Her legs were against the wall. Arms spread out. She’s glued to the ceiling. She fucked up. It was supposed to be a win, win for lily and Henry. But for some reason she doesn’t feel to proud of it. Helping and performing for people is what she does. Right now she’s not happy.
Everyone's smiles seemed to immediately fade as the shrill voice of Lily echoed across the auditorium. [b "I believe I asked you to leave,"] Henry stepped forward, frown etched on his face.
She ignored him completely, turning her temper on Amanda. The ultimatum made his heart sink. She didn't deserve to be blackmailed into a dinner with that pompous ass. Even the promise of a half-sold out show wasn't worth it. However, Amanda seemed eager to get Lily out of the building. Henry's eyes fell to the floor and his jaw tensed. [i Stupid Duke Richard. Making things difficult even without your presence.]
When he looked up, Lily was staring at him triumphantly. [i "Well, ticket boy? How many tickets shall I set aside?"]
Henry swore that his eye was going to twitch right out of his head. [b "Follow me."]
Walter snarled at Lily as she walked past him, causing the high class woman to jump back. [b "Keep up,"] Henry called over his shoulder. [b "He'll bite."]
At the ticket booth, O'Malley counted out the tickets. [b "You don't hold up your end of the bargain, and we're going to have trouble,"] Henry warned her, setting the fifty tickets aside.
Lily glared over her fan. [i "Cut the guard dog act. You think she's going to stay after being offered a life of luxury? What can you possibly bribe her with? You're a grown man playing dress up,"] she scoffed at his ringmaster suit.
[b "I think she values freedom a little more than falling into bed with the first rich snob who throws a stack of money her way,"] Henry tugged his hat back on. [b "Good day, Madam Lily. If I catch you on my property again before the show, I will have you arrested for trespassing. Good luck explaining that to your high society cackling hens."]
Henry slammed the door shut behind him, making a show of locking it to keep her out. God, he hated her. [i "You really gonna arrest her?"] O'Malley looked skeptical.
Sadly, Henry doubted any police officer would arrest a first class lady. [b "It's unlikely to happen, but she doesn't need to know that."]
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