Cooper licked his lips and resisted the urge to spit, as he watched the crowd react towards Atticus. He'd be the first to admit, the night show was something of taboo, an appeal to primitive or even darker desires, commonly found in more then just human beings. But this crowd, this night crowd were just animals, crude base animals, which even he wouldn't put into a cage to show the universe. The last taboo the circus broke was suppose to draw out awe, shock, gasps and cries of disbelief not wanton blood lust. He had watched, in years passed, as hardened and professional soldiers, gaped in horror, as the blade plunged deep into the tattooed man's heart.
"I know" said the ringmaster, as Laine came to stand besides him and expressed her displeasure about the planetary body they were currently on, while her boyfriend (and he was still having trouble thinking about that without smiling like a proud father....well stepfather), was slashed by a vicious ganger. He flinched, involuntarily, as the knife was thrust into the tattooed man's stomach and jerked up through his guts, almost disemboweling the man. Dying by blade was always painful but that one had to hurt the most, as multiple organs were sliced or at least nicked. Reach out, he lightly placed a reassuring hand on the acrobat's shoulder, as her love died, again.
"It'll be fine" he said softly, when she turned to look at him and he caught her hands trembling. As the roustabouts began to drive the crowd back, letting them know in loud voices that the circus was closed for the night. As John appeared, carrying a limp form, dripping with blood, the silver-eyed man took his hand from the acrobat's shoulder, so she could lead the massive ebony man to where she wanted to take her man. A tired smile passed across his face, as Laine turned back to reassure him, of all people, that everything would okay.
That smile stayed with Cooper, as the performers, those still left, filed out, eager for their own beds. Spotting Hanna, he strolled over and offered her the spanner, a schedule for the next day and a map of the tent area. It was marked with the location of an empty plysteel structure she could use. Not in the mood for much talking, he simply wished her a good night, before walking away, to check in with a few more of his people, before they exited the main tent.
As the last lights went out, he thrust hands into pockets and strolled out of the big top. Outside, the gloom of the tomb-like city seemed to press around. Smiling wider, he reached into his jacket, he pulled out a thin metal tube. Popping the top, he drew out a cigar with a dark wrapper and holding between his teeth, he fished around his torso. Finding an old style lighter, a zippo, he clicked it, bring the flame to life and touched it to the tip of the cigar. He didn't smoke much, only on special occasions and not at all recently but Laine finding a relationship, that felt like a soul lifting victory, especially here, on this terrible world. John found him there, wreathed in a cloud of smoke and stood besides him, clothing still soaked with blood.
"Here to make sure I go to bed mother" asked the ringmaster, his tone sarcastic but pleasant at the same time.
John just looked over at his boss, one eyebrow arching slightly.
"Oh alright" grumbled Cooper, "I'm going, I'm going."
Puffing on his cigar, the ringmaster wandered off into the maze of tents, the dark skinned roustabout follow silently after him.
Cooper's jaw cracked, as his eyes reconnected to his brain, five hours later and he yawned in waking. It was three hours before the circus reopened for the day, mostly thanks to the longer day this world once had, when it's inhabitants still used the local star to tell time. Rolling out of bed, he grabbed a pair of jeans and a green tee shirt and headed out to the public (or at least public to circus troupe and it's support crew) shower in nothing but a pair of boxers. Around him, the rest of the day show, or at least those going out on stage first, stirred and wonderful smells wafted from the mess tent.