Marty had decided on a jumper with a comfortable pair trousers would be fit to take Kerr out for a night on the town. He’d picked somewhere comfortable with a great pulled pork sandwich that he craved all the time. The arms on the jumper came up to his forearms to reveal the smattering of tattoos he had all over his arms. The end of a chest piece peaked up the neckline. He made his way to her tent in hopes she might be nearby and not inside since it was difficult to knock on a tent.
Quickly he took out his phone and sent her a text. Hopefully the woman from the 20’s could navigate her way around a cellphone, but it wasn’t like he could much either. It said simply. “Waiting by your tent.”
She saw the text, thanks to Edward she could make out- well not all of it, but she sounded it out enough in her head to figure it out. She still only had a few outfits, so she wore the first she’d gotten from Viv in trade. Dark blue jeans with a black crew neck and faux leather jacket.
Kerr picked up her trilby hat and slipped it on as she ducked out of the tent, leaving the phone on her bed- as she wasn’t accustomed to bringing it everywhere like modern people were. “Hi.” She said, looking up at Marty.
When Marty turned around his jaw dropped at the sight of her. He was going to have a very hard time keeping it in his pants tonight with the way she was dressed. So androgynous, and so bloody fit. “I…” the demon was tongue tied. Even in his own time there were hardly a non-binary that looked half as good as she did right then.
“Bloody hell.” He said lifting his arms to the top of his head in disbelief. After a huff of laughter he walked up to her and smirked, one arm coming up to rest on her shoulder. “You look so fucking good I could bloody eat you.” Not literally of course, he wasn’t a vampire.
“Not sure… how to respond to that.” She said with a small, nervous laugh. “Thank you?” Her accent had become a bit more pronounced from her talks with Edward, and even though Marty’s was a bit blue, it did draw hers out. Even though she’d left England when she was just a baby, she’d spent her first ten years with her Aunt speaking proper English- even if the woman hadn’t bothered to give her a proper education.
Kerr pulled on the hem of her jacket slightly. “So… into town?” Even though it was a bit intimidating, she kind of liked New Orleans. Some of it she felt was familiar- the older buildings, but it was an easy place to get lost in.
He smirked at her and nodded toward the Uber he’d called which just showed up in their parking lot. He was glad it wasn’t 1920 anymore because Uber and Lyft were far too convenient. “After you.” He said, gesturing toward the Uber where they’d be lifted into town. He followed her in and watched the driver began to drive them toward downtown New Orleans.
“Have you heard the term, non-binary, Kerr?” He doubted that she did, coming from 1920 but she could have researched some things once they got to the future.
For the drive she just watched out of the car window, until he spoke. “Umm… no, not since you mentioned it the other day.” She said softly, her fingers running along the rim of her hat as it rested on her lap. “You said I wasn’t a boy or a girl- which is wrong.” Wasn’t it?
“Is it?” He asked and the Uber arrived at the barbecue restaurant he’d picked out. He thanked the driver and then helped her out of the car to step out on the sidewalk. “Thought I’d pick something less crowded. You eat meat then?” Didn’t everybody back then? He honestly couldn’t remember it had been so very long ago.
Ushering her inside the restaurant the hostess found them a table in the back for the two of them, away from listening ears.
“Yea, of course.” She nodded to his question of her diet. Though being able to talk to cows, pigs and chickens… it hadn’t changed her yet. Kerr followed him in and she finally addressed his other question. “And, I only dressed this way because I didn’t want to go back to jail.” She said after a beat, not even realizing her own use of past tense. “But I’m a girl… All the right… parts.” Her eyes squinted in a face slightly as she didn’t like her choice of words. “And I like men, not women.” Not that she hadn’t met women who liked women and didn’t want to think that was wrong, just like men liking men, but somehow using it as a defense made sense to her.
He looked over the menu as she spoke and looked up at her at the last part. “Lucky for me then.” He said in response to her liking men, it hadn’t even occurred to him that she might be a lesbian because you truly never knew anymore. He nodded toward her to address the other part of what he said. “Let me ask you something, now that you don’t have to run anymore, do you want to dress like a girl? Or act like one?” He asked her, eyes focused on hers as she considered it.
“I…” It had been on her mind. A lot. More since Edward had been spending time with her, helping her expand her wardrobe slowly. Even more since meeting Viv, the nice clerk who had helped her. Those like us. What was she like? “Never really did before.. I mean I wore dresses when I was little, but not once I was on my own.” Dresses were expensive, and they required more maintenance, got dirty faster, were colder and sometimes got caught in the looms. “And I don’t act different.” Which was pretty true. Beyond letting everyone call her ‘him’ and ‘he, she hadn’t really changed her personality. Granted, non-social and loner didn’t have many variants. “Sides, we are who we are.. We can’t change that.” That was society talking.
Kerr looked at the menu, the amount of words was a bit overwhelming, so she decided to look at the pictures and order what looked good.
He nodded his head at her response, hearing words he’d heard from many others before her. Sure it was all a ruse to get them into bed but it didn’t mean that he wasn’t a good listener. “You’re absolutely right, and I don’t think you should be anyone but who you are.” He replied. When the waiter finally came he ordered whiskey neat and the pulled pork sandwich.
“But you know these days there’s a word for it.” He added.
Kerr pointed at a picture of a sandwich and ordered a water, thanking the waiter. Once he was gone, she turned back to Marty. “Non-binary?”
He winked at her as she recalled the earlier word. “Correct. And these days people are celebrated by their unwillingness to identify with either gender, or really to identify with both at the same time. Because it’s not who they are or ever have been.” Marty didn’t fall into that category but he was known to put on a dress once in a while if his sexual partner was into that sort of thing. But he just looked like himself in a dress rather than like a pretty lady.
He put his hand on hers across the table. “I like non-binary people.” He said, hinting at the fact that a love life for her wasn’t entirely hopeless.
She felt a chill rush over her at his touch, not a bad one. “I see. I don’t know… if I’m that or not.” She said, not completely denying the idea as she had before. But it was clear the realization that it was a possibility was still new to her and that it was something she was still figuring out.
“So, um, I don’t think I know what you do at the Carnival yet.” She’d heard of someone new joining as an act, but hadn’t heard the details.
He let her hand go even though he could see the flush it had brought to her skin. She really was even more attractive when she was blushing. “Talker, but I do a bit of sword swallowing too. Just to get a bit more cash.” He’d learned it on YouTube a few years back and loved to bring it out at parties.
“Thought I might tame the lions but turns out you have someone for that and I don’t have any actual experience.” He teased with a smirk and soon his whiskey and her water came out, along with some cornbread.
“That’s sort of neat.” She said, it was interesting those who performed feats without the ace up their sleeve of magic or special powers. “And yes, Jean’s got the big cats handled. They’ve really come to adore her after the last tamer up and left them.”
Kerr picked up a piece of bread and took a sip of her water. “I’ve heard some of the Bally’s” she said, picking at the cornbread. “They’re pretty impressive. You really need to be convincing and know how to spin a story people wan’t’see without givin’ away th’whole show.”
“I am the king of spinning stories. Only when it’s necessary though.” Which wasn’t true at all, Marty would lie about just about anything that didn’t compromise his own personal values. He had values even as a demon and he stuck by them.
“Not too impressive with the swords. I’ve been sucking a lot of cock for a very long time.” He didn’t always mean to be shocking, the filter just sort went away after a while. “Does that bother you?”
She shifted on her seat slightly. “Just… not so used to someone so… forward.” She said, minding her words. Sure, some of the carnies got vulgar- especially after a night of drinking, but she was rarely a part of those conversations and it was easy to ignore when they happened around you.
He shrugged his shoulders as their food finally came. “It’s who I am.” And that was the truth. Maybe she’d like him, maybe she wouldn’t but he wouldn’t compromise himself just to get her to like him. There was no fun in that.
“You don’t really trust me do you?” He asked her, again forward as always. The waiter walked away as he asked the question. “But you want to, that’s why you’re here with me. That’s why you agreed.”
Kerr glanced at the waiter and nodded a thank you as the appealing smell of barbecue hit her. “I don’t know you.” She replied, simply. “I don’t trust most people, not really… not until I know them.” And even then she might be quick to trust, as that underlying need for acceptance lurked in her subconscious. The path was quick from not trusting to trusting. Even though she knew she risked those she trusted to disappear on her- even though she expected it. “And yes, I didn’t see anythin’ wrong with getting to know you.”
Although it wasn’t much, she still admitted that he interested her and smile came to his face. She was giving him a chance and he was grateful for that. Marty didn’t much hate humans, didn’t really have much of a desire to hunt them, so he often enjoyed himself around then even if eventually they went away because he couldn’t keep his fat mouth shut. “I’m much more trustworthy than my language suggests, I tend to give off the wrong first impression for some reason.”
Some reason was an understatement. It was clear why people often got annoyed by him immediately and it was because he let his mouth run like it was going out of business. “I couldn’t tell you why. I always feel like I’m the perfect gentleman.” The last part was said with big elaborate hand gestures. It was all an attempt to make her laugh.
“You’re not.” She said with a small shake of her head and shy chuckle. “But maybe that’s not a bad thing.” Because he was being himself, and that was a good thing, right?
Kerr picked up her sandwich and took a bite. It was good, it had a flavor that was new. “Mmm.” She hummed as she chewed and wiped her mouth.
Hearing her shy chuckle was music to his ears and he played it up. “Well as long as I have your blessing then.” And with that he decided to start on his sandwich. Except that he couldn’t.
The sounds coming from her mouth and the way the sauce dripped onto her lips made him shift in his seat uncomfortably. So many things he’d love to do with that mouth. Finally he forced himself to eat his sandwich causing barbecue sauce to go all over his mouth. Of course he knew how messy of an eater he was so he offered her a dopey smile with barbecue smeared all over it and in his beard.
The food in the cookhouse was good, but it was also made for a lot of people. A restaurant made food for a single person. So, unless the place was bad, you had a lower chance of running into food being too dry or on the bland side. Again, the cookhouse food was better than what she had on the street or in jail, but there was something different about visiting a restaurant.
Kerr smiled softly. “I guess there’s no way to really eat without a mess.” She said after her second bite. “Good though.” She tried not to eat too fast or be as protective as she normally was about her food. The messiness helped.
He chuckled at that and took a moment to signal the bartender than he wanted another whiskey. Using his napkin he tried to wipe as much out of his beard and off his mouth as he could. He finished off the whiskey he had and nodded at the waiter as he dropped off the next one. “I’m a bit of a mess myself. Can’t seem to keep anything from getting messy.” Including his kills. He almost ended up in jail a few times but managed to feign innocence.
“Can I ask you a personal question?” Even if she didn’t know what it was it was clear she would say no if she didn’t want him prying.
Kerr smiled shyly at him as she continued to eat. At his question she arched a brow to him and nodded, swallowing with a wipe of the napkin. “Okay? Sure.” Even though she may have been a mystery because of how closed off she was, she managed to be ignorable so people didn’t really question her.
“What did you do? Why did the law want you?” He asked her, finishing off his French fries before sipping on his whiskey again. There was nothing as nice as washing down good food with a glass of whiskey.
Kerr put her sandwich down and took a sip of her water. Her crime wasn’t a huge secret, she was just ashamed. “I was arrested… for theft. And then, I… another inmate had a plan to escape. I saw an opening to get away myself… and I did.” Her original crime was not the real reason she’d been pursued. Had she not ran, she may have be released after her time. But Kerr did not do well in jail. It reminded her of the orphanage, it was worse than her time on the street. In the moment it had been better to flee than go back. Crossing state lines made it worse- but that wasn’t something she’d realized.
He listened to her intently as she told her story and as it was finish a smile came to his face. “You’re an absolute badass.” He proclaimed. Marty has been in prison lots but he never had the balls to escape. At least in prison he was surrounded by people like him.
“That’s a good thing, in today’s language.” He added since he’d forgotten how they talked in 1920.
She let out a small laugh, she knew ‘bad’ as a formidable person and his clarification that it’s a good thing gave her a hint at the intended meaning. “I’m not. Really. All I did was run and hide. I’m lucky I ran across Zion Mystique and Kristoph. I probably would have been found or killed or something had I not.”
“Well if it makes you feel any better...” He began, taking another swig off his whiskey before continuing. “I’m quite happy you didn’t get found or killed. Wouldn’t have probably had a chance to meet you.” Maybe he would, back in the past but it was terribly unlikely.
“Me too.” She said with a small smile. “Am glad I didn’t get found or killed. Granted, I also didn’t plan on… and it still seems unfathomable to say… going to the future either.” Every day she expected to wake up from a strange dream. So much of her life felt different now. She had people paying her attention and she was out of time and questioning who she was. And trying to pretend that it was all incredibly normal. Like her life hadn’t gotten strange enough when she realized those intuitions about the animals she cared for were actually her picking up on their thoughts.
She continued to eat, doing her best not to make a complete mess of herself. “So… can I ask you something now?” Kerr asked, looking up at him. “Why did you join Zion?”
He considered this question with great care. Shooting back the rest of his whiskey he sighed before he spoke again. “Like I told you, I went to the carnival with a bird many years ago. I felt something when I were there, like I weren’t the only one different.” He was done with his food, practically finished but suddenly he’d lost his appetite.
“In 1920 the lot of you disappeared. I tried to find you but no one knew where you’d gone. Suppose I wanted to feel like I weren’t a freak. Imagine my surprise when I saw a flyer in 2020, in New Orleans. It were meant to be.”
Kerr nodded. “You hear a lot of the others talk, and they’d all agree that Zion sort of ‘found them’ when they needed it.” She laughed lightly. “Know it happened for me.”
She wiped her hands and face as best she could with a small sigh. “And they’re good people for the most part, could think of worse places to be.”
His chin found his fist as he propped his arm up on the table. It wasn’t a home for him because Marty never had a home. It was a playground where he could toy with people in any way he pleased. “Don’t know about the lot of them but you are a good person, even if you were in jail. From being in a few times myself I can tell you most of em aren’t.”
Kerr shrugged, she honestly didn’t know many personally, but from what she’d observed… they were mostly decent. Maybe it was the era difference? Then again, she never prided herself on being a good judge of character, and so long as people didn’t hurt her… she was okay with them. Granted, from an outsiders opinion, her definition of ‘hurt’ was of the physical nature and many people had emotionally harmed her over the years… which she often felt she’d brought on herself.
Before Kerr could come up with a response to his comments, the waiter returned with the check. As she was inclined to do, Kerr reached into her pocket for money. She wasn’t rich by any means (though the amount she had felt like she was by 1920s standards), but she didn’t have much in the way of expenses and there’d been a couple of shows so she’d gotten paid, so she could afford paying for dinner.
As he watched her reach into her pocket, Marty leaned over to the table to grab her arm. “No no no no no. Don’t be daft. I asked you out, I’ll be paying for it.” He said and snatched the check from her side of the table before she could see how much it was. He didn’t know what their cash flow situation was like but things cost a lot less in 1920 and he wasn’t going to have her go broke because he took her out.
He took his own wallet out, throwing about $60 to cover the bill and tip for the waiter. He stood from his seat after it was paid and offered her his hand. He didn’t need parlour tricks or tons of money to impress her, he could tell, so he’d keep that in his arsenal for someone easier. “Come on, let’s get back, yeah?”
“Oh, I- okay.” She put her money away, clearly surprised by his actions. Kerr got out of the seat, grabbing her hat and jacket and followed Marty. Redonning her items, she smiled softly at him. “Thank you.”
Back home, yea. It had been a nice evening out. Good company, good food. It was a new feeling… that feeling of… being seen. Maybe coming to the future had been kismet.
As they got back to the grounds he walked her to her tent in relative silence and stopped as they walked up to it. He looked at the tent and then back at her. He could play her like a fiddle, if he wanted to but it was clear Kerr’s style was more slow.
So, this was as slow as he went. He lightly grabbed the back of her neck and pressed a kiss to her lips. When he pulled back he looked at her directly in the eyes. “Listen, I can tell this is new to you, just give me a chance yeah?” He said before he leaned back and let go of her neck.
Kerr stood there for what felt like hours, but was only a few seconds. It had been unexpected. “A chance?” She practically whispered as her mind. Sure, she’d learned new things with Edward. Interesting new things that made her heart pound just thinking of them. But… it was different. Still, Marty had managed to make her heart pound too. “I- okay…” she wasn’t exactly sure what she was agreeing to, but as her mind restarted, she knew she’d had a good night and would like to spend time with Marty again- even if his manner was a little overwhelming.