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FILLED PROMPTS:

2. "Golden Glass", Damian + Kyle

3. "Source Discovered", various

6: "This Ain't No Mystery Machine", Tsundere Titans

7. "Real Hot Shit", various - pornstars

Date: 2013-03-22 12:41 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Dick runs a circus. Various League members work in it for him. One day a clown is found murdered and all circus employees are suspect.

Thicker than Water

Date: 2013-04-20 01:34 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
It always surprised Dick just how much blood could be contained within the confines of a single suit of human skin.

Whenever bones burst from arms and legs or elephants trampled their keepers, Dick would always take a single moment to stare in amazement at the show of blood before him. Dark carmine pools spilling across the different floors of Haley’s Circus had become as commonplace, and yet just as mystical, as the shows that went on inside the tent every night. Whenever Rose put the third sword down her throat or Guy showcased a particularly well-toned muscle, Dick’s mind shot back to those endless piles of human liquid, swirling across brightly painted concrete or hay-covered dirt. His parents lying mangled at the bottom of the arena; Zitka looking at him innocently while blood seeped from her newfound seat cushion—none of these events were singular in Dick’s mind. Long had the accidental violence of circus life created a detached unit of his life that he could hate no more than he could hate fate itself.

And by all reasoning, the clown’s death should have followed this fated pattern. He could’ve fallen from a ladder or gotten mangled in the grip of the moving stadium seating. His body could have been burned like a wax candle by a flaming hoop or his legs cut off by a falling ceiling beam. It had been nearly 4 years since a serious accident; Dick was only waiting to check the pulse and go about his standard protocol.

A torn throat was not protocol.

'Torn' was not even a correct observation of it. ‘Torn’ implied the use of hands to Dick, the way he tore apart overdue bills or tore apart Bette’s prettiest dresses when she angered him. Hands played no role in this clown’s death. Something had ripped apart his white-painted throat from ear to ear, exposing pink mounds of tissues and white cartilage. He had crawled around his small trailer for as long as he possibly could, and Dick walked around carefully, tracing his path. Kate had found him first and now she stood outside the trailer, smoking through an entire pack of American Spirits in an attempt to drown out the image Dick was now reliving.

Kyle had been standing at the kitchen when the first arterial spray had happened. It had covered the small yellowed windows above his sink and when he must’ve turned his head, the second artery was opened. Together they soaked the other wall in deep sanguine, covering up a collage of photos from various moments in his life. Most of them were too soaked in dark dried blood, but Dick managed to pry one out, precariously holding it in front of him by his thumb and forefinger. Kyle, smiling with his partner who worked elsewhere, holding up an elaborately crafted emerald balloon animal. His face tan but youthful, his eyes shut squinted shut the light but still somehow staring back at Dick.

From the kitchen he had fallen to his knees and crawled towards the front door. The blood covered the entirety of the low shelving until he had reached the living room-type area, where it instead sprayed on a faded couch with tacky upholstery and a whole box of unused green balloons. Dick’s mind immediately started trying to plan Christmas decorations for the circus—perhaps a series of garlands?—and only the sound of Kate’s soft sobs drew him back to attention.

“We need to call the police,” she said the moment he stepped off the trailer. She was an outsider, brought in to ensure no one tried to sue when their kids got bit by petting zoo goats or when heatstroke struck patrons in the peak of summer sun. She was talented, but disgraced. She was a circus lawyer, but she was an outsider. She would never understand.

He took the pack of cigarettes from her almost violently and drew a single stick out before tossing it back. It was late August and Gotham was a heatwave that had mated with city pollution. A sick, diseased smell hung on every patron and coated each worker. At night the humidity made the stink wet, like a half-rotted corpse. Dick gave a glance back into the blood-coated trailer.

“Did you hear me?” Kate hissed, shoving a finger into his chest. “What the fuck, Dick, someone slit his goddamn throat and you’re acting like someone just dislocated a shoulder or something!”

He turned to face her, his expression tight and cold. She was an outsider. She would never understand. He ground the remains of his cigarette into the gravel and walked off.

By the time he reached his destination, Mia had stationed herself out front. Her friends, the youngest members of the circus, had also assembled. Out of the corner of his eye he could make out his own daughter, brightly suntanned and barely dressed in her practice leotard. He wanted to talk to her, but it wasn’t one of her lovers on trial today.

Mia’s petite frame seemed multiplied in distress. She hadn’t even removed the empty quiver from practice, slung haphazardly over her small shoulders. And yet she managed to block the entire doorway, her anger and fear palpable in the late evening heat.

“He didn’t do it.” Her voice came out with the intentions of strength but the realizations of fragility. Mia was barely a child. She could cover her immaturity with attitude and demeanor, but with her shoulders squared and tears in her eyes she looked like nothing more than a petulant child to Dick.

“Mia.”

“He. Didn’t. Do. It.” Her foot stomped each word into the pressed dirt.

“Mia, listen to m—”

“No, you listen to me! Goddammit, he didn’t do it!”

“There were teeth marks.”

She stopped short, a confused sob catching in her throat. Her knees buckled and only Bai was able to get a hand on her before she fell listlessly onto the ground. The rest of the teens didn’t move. They stared at Dick, burning rebellious eyes into his imitation watch, his off-brand slacks. He was sure Mar’i had told them of the red figures at the end of each month. There was blood all in the water now, but they were still too young to tell his from Mia’s from Kyle’s. So instead they stared, blistering little things filled up to burst with hormones and resentment.

The others had come up now, and Ollie silently, dutifully, scooped his daughter up like a rag doll. She let out only a soft wail of protest before once again going quiet. His eyes as he passed the younger man told Dick all he needed to know—make it quick. The magician and her strongman husband were attempting to call their nephew back to their sides—to help Ollie reduce Dick’s opposition. Zee’s soft voice beckoning to Zach; Clark’s hands open wide. The boy eyed his companions before strolling back to the winning side. Bai’s voice rang out in blurred and outraged tones; Cassie’s hand went to her whip. Rose leaned even more into the shadows, barely visible now except a shock of white hair and a freshly-polished longsword.

Gar came to the door looking more like a martyr than a murderer. All eyes turned to him, shirtless in the putrid heat, as he came slowly down the stairs. Mia let out the first howl of her newfound loneliness, so loud and desperate that Ollie had to press her face into his broad chest to muffle the sound. Dick’s hand clamped around Gar’s arm the moment he was within distance, and together the two men walked towards the end of the boardwalk.

Dick barely recognized the once scrawny boy who had shown up on his doorstop with little money and ample talent in the young man who sat beside him. The late evening sun added little warmth to Gotham’s polluted water as it splashed onto their bare feet.

“Excuse me, sir, would you like to see an animal?” he had asked on that winter day long ago, doing a little bow to a much younger Dick’s bemusement. Now his shoulders were broader than Dick’s and his face was framed by unkempt facial hair. He stared off into the Gotham skyline, lit up from behind by a scorching orange sun. For a long time, neither of them said anything, and the sun descended lower and lower into the sky until their best source of light was the glow of fair rides behind them. At night the circus whirred to life for all to enjoy. All except two.

“I’m glad we met,” Gar began excitedly. “I’m glad you took me in that night and let me join your merry band of freaks.”

Dick didn’t reply. He watched a scum-covered plastic bottle bob against the river’s tide.

“All these things I was able to do because of you; all these people I was able to meet because of you. Hell, I would’ve never even met Mia if you hadn’t convinced Ollie’s group to join. So you’ve done a lot for me, man.”

The plastic bottle became hooked on a conglomeration of rotted fishing net and driftwood.

“That’s why…God, Dick,” Gar’s voice went high and shaky, “that’s why I need to tell you man, even though I know it won’t change anything, I have to tell you what I sa—”

The bullet tore (yes, Dick decided, tore was appropriate) through Gar’s right temple. It came out the other side in a flash of blood and gore that Dick was glad would be washed away by tonight’s incoming storm. The storm clouds were already gathering from the West, and he could hear the distant rumble of thunder. Gar’s body slumped, blood oozing out onto his shoulders and chest. Dick was already standing and brushing off his slacks. He pushed Gar into the river with his foot and watched the green skin and hair soak with dark contaminated water. Dick's mind flew to a cold future December when red and green would mean nothing to him but seasonal decorations.

He had burned his way through half a pack of smokes in the short walk back to the grounds when he first heard Mar’i’s laugh. She had changed into a thin, whimsical little striped dress and was leaning against an empty kissing booth talking to a tall figure in hushed tones. Father and daughter were both utilitarian by nature, but fundamentally different in application. He had been schooled in classical practicality; she had been born into exotic frugality. He spent his days managing a circus of warm blood-filled bodies; she spent hers spinning a personal world of hedonism. Dick squinted against the neon lights to make out the figure opposite her. The angry little boy who spoke only in Arabic in sharp biting phrases and now wore Dick’s old costume? No, Damian would already be in the big tent practicing his routine.

Her eyes flashed in the multicolored lights and looked straight at him. Her companion was still shaded by the peculiar carnival lighting, but his face turned towards Dick as well. The older man paid them no mind as he walked up the three stairs into his own trailer.

Mar’i entered right after him, shedding her flimsy dress for the freshly-pressed costume in silence.

“Who was that?”

She shrugged noncommittally and squeezed herself into tight spandex. He watched her dark purple hair flop back and forth as she worked each limb about in its new bedazzled casing. Long had it been since the happy days when she would tell him about her life and her lovers.

“Come here and I’ll do your bun.”

Her legs were very nearly longer than his, but they folded quickly, almost magically, underneath her as she sunk into the faded carpet in front of the couch. Dick tugged her locks up into a careful plait, then wound it around itself and secured it with bobby pins. Only then did he notice the smear of old blood partially obscured by her hairline.

Her mother’s hair had been dark red, he remembered suddenly, and when it surrounded and covered him during their lovemaking it had been like bathing in blood. His hands froze around Mar’i’s head and her shoulders visibly tensed. Her mother was flashing through his mind now, a veil of blood surrounding orange peel skin and a set of teeth. Two sets of teeth. Kory, apologizing and trying to explain. Mar’i, a baby still growing in her belly. Dick, the monster’s groom watching his life bleed out over years and years.

Mar’i’s head turned now, almost imperceptibly, and her eyes locked on Dick.

“Daddy?”

Re: Thicker than Water

Date: 2013-04-20 06:00 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Fantastic! The descriptions, the hints of life around the circus, the ending.... I want to read more of this universe!!

Re: Thicker than Water

Date: 2013-04-20 11:18 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
oh wow. This just broke my brain a little. No, a lot.

Re: Thicker than Water

Date: 2013-04-21 01:42 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I have been thinking about this all day and even making up headcanons for it and omg, I just want more.

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