stuck in the air
The situation only seemed to grow even more dire as Reve found himself in the middle of the circus ring, coughing between shouts for one missing aerialist. His eyes burned and the cut on his head stung with the salt of his sweat. Cinders and sparks rode a breeze through the tent; the air fueling the flames and singeing his clothes and skin.
"Ainsi!" His voice carried far, as he'd been well-trained in the art of performance charisma, but when put up against the cacophony of destruction around him, he feared the woman wouldn't hear.
And that's when he saw a burning piece of silk fall to the ground; it floated like a feather, slow and surreal, in the time it took Reve's brain synapses to fire orders to his eyes, directing them quickly upwards.
Clinging like a kitten to the top of the rig, Ainsi coughed out a reply that couldn't have been heard from thirty feet below.
Don't look up here.
I'm so ugly,
(it's for the best.)
Spying the woman's frail form among the warping metal of stage lights and catwalks, Reve panicked inside. All ropes or ladders leading up to the space were likely burned or were warmed with metal too hot to touch.
If she fell and he couldn't catch her....
Seeing that there was one silk left, the illusionist thought fast.
"If you can hear me.... climb down the silk! If it breaks, I'll catch you!" Or so he prayed to all the gods he really never believed in. His doubt, however, didn't ring in his voice. He needed Ainsi to believe that this was a good idea, and that he had confidence enough to see it through without her getting hurt.
... BAD IDEA.
"...but it's burning. It's on fire. It's burning up because the floor's burning and it's coming to get me and oh Reve, I can't--"
and clinging to the metal which had already taken with it
a quarter of her skin.
... maybe it could work out.
"Reve-- I'm scared--"
Trying desperately to think of another plan, the illusionist looked around, attempting to spy any other option for getting her down.
Remembering that there was a folding ladder that attached to the rig, as the lighting designers couldn't hoist the heavy lights up a rope ladder, he called up to Ainsi again.
"The ladder! There's a ladder, on the left, there! If it doesn't reach all the way, you can jump.. I'll catch you!"
"On the left? I have to go somewhere?"
Eyes squeezed shut, the girl crept slowly toward the ladder, leaving pieces of her
It might've hurt when she screamed as she tore her forearm from the boiling metal, but neither she nor any of the curtain souls could hear her.
And all Reve could do was try to watch through the billowing smoke and the pressure of growing heat. Watch and hope. And pray.
"It's right there, Ainsi! Just give it a kick and it should come down! I'm right here, I'm not going leaving until you're down here safely!"
About ten rungs down, the girl simply passed out, because she couldn't take it any longer.
And it took Reve less than a second to position himself beneath the falling body, arms outstretched in hopes that it really was that easy to catch her in such a position. Unfortunately, the laws of gravity forbade him from doing such a thing with any grace or ease. As she fell into his arms, the force of her fall cause him to fall himself, his knees bending so that he could at least fall backwards, absorbing the impact of her fall with the cushion of his body.
Any air he had in his lungs was forced from him, and he was left gasping beneath her for a few moments before he gathered his wits and carefully gathered her in his arms; his flight instinct kicking in, causing insane amounts of adrenaline to render him immune to any pain he should have been feeling.
Climbing to his feet with her in his arms, he darted for the exit, manuvering past any obstacles as efficiently as he could. Nevermind that his wrist was probably broken, along with a rib or two.
He collapsed fifteen meters outside of the tent, falling to his knees and laying Ainsi on the ground, his good hand rising to brush her hair out of her face as he tried to bring her to consciousness with some shaking and the insistant repetition of her name.
Then the one who should have been there for her arrived. Dmitri's inner voice began battering him as he finally appeared on the scene of the broken, burning tent. Someone else was with his butterfly. Shaking her! She could be badly injured and the fool was shaking her! What if she had a concussion?! The puerile idiot probably had no knowledge of proper first aid and was undoubtedly causing his beautiful flower harm.
"You should not dare to touch her!" The Russian, who had just traveled some distance in a fairly short time, and was consequently quite pissy, did not trust any other man to touch his delicate flower. "You are probably causing worse harm to her!"
Dmitri's passion was inflamed as usual, perhaps just as hot as the burning tent. He bent over the two sooty, burnt figures and reached out to cradle his wilted flower in his tensely knotted arms. I must be the first one she sees when she awakes! She must know that I am here to protect her, as a proper man should!
And it took a few seconds for Reve to realize what was going on. His mind was a mess of confusion thanks to the combined efforts of the smoke, pain, and possible concussion. When his eyes finally focused on Dmitri, Ainsi was in his arms.
....and Reve had no idea who he was.
"This isn't any of your business! You don't know what happened--" And with that, he crawled closer to the two, but didn't pull her from Dmitri's arms, fearing that the man might drop her or some other such thing. Instead, he gently took her face between his hands, more worried about her becoming conscious again than about the stranger (as said stranger seemed concerned enough, so therefore not as dangerous as one of the violent Xining townspeople). "She passed out... all the smoke... I have to wake her up..."
The concern in his voice was evident as he gently caressed her hair, talking softly and musically to the woman, "Ainsi... it's okay, now. I got you out of there.. It's okay... just wake up and you'll see that everything's okay." And a realization: "She needs water."
Dmitri attempted to extricate himself and Ainsi from Reve's grasp so as to carry the unconcious aerialist to water. "I will take care of her now. You have done your part. Do not trouble yourself further." Dmitri eyed this other man and did not trust him. He seemed shifty and untrustworthy, too much subterfuge and running away. He was clearly not the proper one to care for Dmitri's fair flower.
"Where can I find water?" But Dmitri needed the dirty man. Admittedly the dirt was only because he had just saved Ainsi's life; a fact Dmitri could only gloss over so much mentally without breaking his own code of honor. "You must know this destroyed place better than I!"
"Who the fuck are you? Put her down!" Reve's concern shifted from getting Ainsi conscious to making sure the girl didn't get kidnapped. "Clearly she's very hurt, and I have to get her medical attention, and you interfereing is not helping!" He said all of this as he went after them, grabbing Dmitri's arm.
"There's no time to fight about this, she's going to get worse if I don't do something!"
"Well, then perhaps you should not curse at me! I would not be here if I did not care for her!" Dmitri tried not to disturb the still form he carried in his arms. These insults and doubts were not becoming! "I was asking you where to get water so that I can help her. It's clear that you've helped her, but you should see to yourself before straining yourself unecessarily! What if you strain yourself too hard and then injure her even more!?" Dmitri turned away from Reve and strode off carefully towards the sound of people. Hopefully he would wind up somewhere with members of the circuses and not the ruffians who had injured his gentle flower. He would make them pay for it, surely!
Growing frustrated with the Russian's insistance on helping, Reve followed after him, wiping at the blood that still dripped from his forehead as if to make the wound itself disappear, so that he wouldn't look so injured.
"Whatever, I'm coming too..." And if Dmitri wanted to hold her all the way to the train, he could. Fine. If he was someone that cared about her... then who was Reve to judge him? If Ainsi had another man... well. It wasn't like they'd ever talked about their relationship at all. What right did he have to say anything to this man?
And so he trailed the Russian and the unconscious woman in his arms. He knew there was water closer to the train, and that if he couldn't find it, surely Avi, or Nine, or someone would see them and assist. And if Ainsi woke up, and wanted to stay with whomever the white man was...
Reve scowled; an expression that didn't seem to fit his face.
It could've been that she felt that scowl, creeping across her collarbones.
The moving across the years of open dirt.
and Chinese displeasure.
One good eye opened and a skinless hand touched salvation's face
Dmitri's ear drums rang at the shrieking coming from the small woman in his arms. He almost dropped her, until his other, more manly instincts kicked in and he held on, despite her minor panic attack. "Do not panic! You are fine, I-- we are getting you medical attention!"
Dmitri was sure that that Ainsi's terror was residual from what must have been a terrifying ordeal inside the burning tent and Reve's surely bumbling and almost-too-late rescue. He could only imagine the terror she must have felt as the flames surrounded her.
"There is water at your train, yes?" Dmitri noted that they were getting closer to the rows of burnt circus members being attended to by a few people, including a black woman rubbing foul-smelling poultices and salves onto charred skin.
"There's water," Reve replied, speeding up his walk until he was well in front of them, jogging ahead as he idly put a hand to his ribs; pressing hard so as not to feel the pain as much. Part of him didn't want to see them, but mostly he wanted just to get Ainsi out of the pain she surely felt. He wasn't the one that could do that, though. He needed assistance.
And so he ran up to a familiar black woman, swallowing back his pain as he lifted a hand back towards the on-coming Russian.
"It's Ainsi.... she's really bad..."
"Mama--" the girl wailed, crying into whoever's arms she'd blocked out of her consciousness. "Mama, my skin--!"
"Bring her this way, put her down, and then get out." Njoki led Dmitri towards her car, and once he had gently placed Ainsi, glared him outside. "Child, you're going to have to wait. We can't get you any skin now, and I won't let that young man in here to see you unless you want me to."
Dmitri sat outside the train car and waited patiently. That woman must make my butterfly better so that I may gaze upon her again. She will be okay.
"Come on, baby. You're gonna be just fine. Drink this water. I'll get you someone as soon as I can. Lay here and don't move." Njoki left to tend to her other patients.
The illusionist was left standing near enough to Dmitri, his gaze focused on the other man. "Who are you, anyway? How do you know Ainsi? I've never seen you around here before, and I'm her roommate..."
To put it safely.
Dmitri looked up at the Asian, vaguely despairing, and began to talk. "I am one of L'Ombra's aerialists, my name is Dmitri. I am from Russia. My bu-- Ainsi and I met at my circus. We have talked afterwards. I came as soon as I heard there was trouble here, fearing for her safety. Who are you? Why are you her roommate?"
Such a man should not be trusted to live with my gentle flower. What kind of circus is this, anyway? There is not much emphasis on safety. Dmitri added in his mind.
"I'm her roommate because Ban made me her roommate," Reve frowned, glancing down at the ground for the moment, "And my name is Reve. I'm a good friend of Ainsi's, and I find it very strange that she's never mentioned you before." With that, he glanced back up, eyes narrowing. "And she tells me a lot."
Which may not have been true, but Reve had a front to put up. It unnerved him that this other man could just sweep in and take credit for his save. He didn't even know him! And what made it worse, was that he apparently had something going on with Ainsi, and she hadn't told him about Reve. Or vice versa, for that matter.
Even if it wasn't directly the man's fault, Reve couldn't help but feel animosity towards him.
"Oh." She didn't mention him? At all? Was she ashamed of him? "Well, the lack of knowledge is mutual. She has not mentioned you to me, either. We are in the same place." Dmitri stood up from where he had been sitting on the ground and looked down at Reve.
"Perhaps I should spend more time here. It is clear there is much I should know if I am to become part of her life."
"I doubt the fine people at L'Ombra would appreciate that. Perhaps it's best if you go on back to your circus. We'll all be fine here, with our own kind. Ainsi will get better, and I'm sure she'll contact you," And this was Reve being as polite as he could, given the information he was just given.
"And if she doesn't remember, I'll be sure to remind her. It's not pretty, what she's going to go through, and I think that only we in Asile need to be here to help her. We're her family, after all."
Yes. Politely. Even if Reve seethed inside.
Njoki, who had been tending to the injured again strode over and glared her patent voodoo glare at the men. "Stop darkening my door, boys. You ain't making your girl any better by having this prelude-to-a-pissing contest. Now shoo! Shoo!"
Njoki shooed them off her stoop and went back to her work. Dmitri looked back sadly at the car as he almost stomped away. He hoped Ainsi would be fine.
"I will not leave my decisions to you. I will make my own choices." Dmitri turned away from Reve and went off to find the other men of his circus so he could help in a way that did not involve pining over Ainsi.
"Yeah, well I think you'd better wait to hear what she has to say before you go changing your life," you asshole, Reve turned away too, moving off in the other direction. He wanted nothing more than to get away from the scene, to tend to his own wounds and wallow in whatever strange feeling he was experiencing in the silence of his own car, in his own room.