The animal enclosure was where she had been directed to find her long lost half-brother but all she’d met so far had been the owner, a seamstress and another animal handler by the name of Kerr, a man she was oddly attracted to but definitely not her half brother. So after getting measured for her show, Jean found her way back to the animals. Many of them seemed like they’d be good snacks, but what she was always drawn to were the big cats. The lion, particularly, who she would be working with in her act.
She found herself inside the closure, giving the large cat a brush, cleaning off his dirty fur for her first show the next day. She was nervous, of course, she’d never performed in this way before but if she could flirt with men to relieve them of their coin, she was sure she could entertain the audience. A noise, she paused and looked up from inside the enclosure. “Hello?” She called out.
Nicolas had spent most of the day helping set up the odds and ends of the Midway - setting up displays, a few tents here and there, helping make sure the games still worked. It wasn’t necessarily his favorite job - the crowd of people working to get everything set up in that short a time frame always set his teeth on edge - but he didn’t see much use in griping about something so minor. He could help, so he would - and then he’d go back to the back-lot and work with the animals the rest of the time. Seemed like a decent enough trade off to him.
He did a quick sweep of the pen for those animals allowed to roam before heading over to the cages. While he knew everything was set up correctly - he trusted the rousties that worked back here, and there’d been no screaming that day. At least, not the kind that came from leaving the cats’ cages open.
He didn’t immediately notice King’s pen was more crowded than usual until an unfamiliar voice spoke up after he checked the latch. Blinking, he peered through the bars with a frown. An unfamiliar woman was by the big cat...with a brush. Huh.
Wait. He was pretty sure he’d heard something about a new performer coming on board. No details - he hadn’t stuck around long enough to hear the end of that conversation - but definitely someone new. So, supposed to be there. And King didn’t look to have a problem with her being there. So...all good then, as far as he was concerned. “Didn’t know anyone was back here, sorry. You need anything?” He asked, not wanting to really interrupt if he didn’t need to.
Jean stood from where she sat with the lion to find a man standing before her. There stood the spitting image of her father, as he looked when she was a child. She let herself out of the pen to walk toward the man. “I’m Jean, the new lion tamer.” She replied, extending her hand out to her half brother. There was no way that this wasn’t Nicolas, the resemblance was uncanny. For months she wondered what she might see when she finally met him, if she would even know it was him, yet here he was in the flesh and it was clear that he was their fathers son.
“You must be Nicolas.” She then added, taking in the subtle features that separated him from their shared side of the family. Her father's eyes weren’t so dark, and the angles of his jaw seemed more sharp.
If she was honest with herself, truly honest, she’d realize that she had no reason to trust him. They were by all means complete strangers but she wanted some sort of family and this was as close as she was going to get.
Jean. Okay, he could remember that. If she hung around back here often enough to help out with the lion, he’d definitely be able to remember that. Stepping slightly out of her way as she exited the pen, he kind of just blinked down at her hand for a long moment before shaking his head and taking it. His grip was loose, and he only held on long enough to be considered what he’d been assured wasn’t incredibly rude. Who knew.
“Right uh...yeah, that’s me.” Nicolas said, shifting slightly uncomfortably under her look. She seemed nice enough - or at least, put together, which was more than could be said of a few of their other performers - but still. “What ah, what’re you doing back here anyway?”
Not that he had any right to put her out, nor was he looking to. But, if he’d heard right earlier, she was new new - and normally, the new ones tended to stick around the campfires, getting to know everybody. Not back with the cats.
Well, he was definitely different than her. Awkward handshake, stumbling over his words. She couldn’t entirely see a resemblance when it came to their personalities but at least they looked like family. She looked back at King the lion before she regarded him again. “I find myself more attached to the big cats, I’ve always had an affinity for them.” Especially when she shifted.
“Do you mind if we talk? I’m actually glad that I ran into you.” She continued, finding two chairs near the center of the room. It did seem rather silly to beat around the bush when her brother was live and in person right in front of her. Nicolas was her brother and he had the right to know that there was more family out there.
Sitting down in one of the chairs she gestured toward the other. This wasn’t the type of news one shared with another person while they were standing.
Well then. Fair enough, he supposed. “You’ll fit in fine around here then…” He offered with a small smile. He couldn’t think of too many people that hung around back here that didn’t tend to prefer it to most anywhere else in Zion.
He almost turned to go at that, seeing as how it looked like Jean was done doing whatever she’d been doing, and they’d successfully introduced themselves. He paused though, when she asked if they could talk, raising an eyebrow and watching her head for the chairs. “Uh...We’ve never met before...right?” He asked - not quite wary, but definitely cautious. He couldn’t think of any real reason a woman he’d never met would want to drag this conversation on.
Then, he also couldn’t think of a reason a woman he had met would either. Which just left him confused. But, again, she seemed nice enough. Wouldn’t hurt to hear her out. He took a moment to actually take her up on the offer of a seat, but he did, folding himself into the other and eyeing her curiously.
She sighed, offering a small pensive smile. Now that it was time to say it, she was finding the words hard to form. Finally she spoke, hands clasped in her lap. “Before I was born, my father lived in New York. He fell in love and had a son. Now sadly he couldn’t take care of him because he was poor and she was not. So he moved to a mining town and met an Italian woman by the name of Alba, my mother. And my father's name is Gideon Ramsey.” She said, hoping that she made sense with what she’d just said.
Her eyes closed as she sighed again. “What I’m trying to tell you, Nicolas is that I’m your half-sister.” No point in beating around the bush she always said, so why wouldn’t she take her own advice. Maybe he didn’t care, maybe those things she saw of her father in him were merely surface deep, maybe that was where their similarities ended.
Nicolas frowned slightly at her as she started her story. It took a long moment, even after Jean said his - apparently their - father's name. He hadn't written the man in a couple years now, and even then, he'd been such a...a peripheral part of Nicolas' life that the connection didn't snap into place immediately.
It snapped just fine when she followed up with the half-sister comment though. "...Huh." Was all he said for a moment, before tilting his head and leaning in slightly to actually look at her for the first time.
Gideon had once said that he'd had another child. No name, no gender. Just a line towards the end of one of his letters. But, considering that was just...the nature of their relationship - he didn't even know what the man looked like for God's sake - he hadn't pursued it further.
That said, his mother had always said he'd taken after his father. And now that he was actually looking Jean over...he could see features they shared, that they'd have had to have gotten from him.
He grinned then, big and bright. "Take it you take after him too then?" He asked, hoping she'd understand. If she didn't, that'd answer the question well enough too though.
Jean understood cats, always found herself drawn to the feline kingdom, but she could also read people pretty well. It helped when she needed to swindle a few coins out of an eager man. Her smile grew at his words and she emitted a low purr that almost sounded like the lions.
Her smile then fell as the news she had to deliver came to mind. “Daddy died a couple of months ago, been on the run for a bit.” She admitted to him, wishing she hadn’t made herself so vulnerable in front of her brother who was a complete stranger. Jean was close to Gideon, he all but raised her and he protected her from her mother. She never felt close to her mom and her mother felt the same.
“So I thought I’d come find you, since we’re family and all.” It was probably a stupid idea but it was the best one she had.
Well, that sound definitely wasn’t human, and even if the ever present warning bells in his head went off as he recognized exactly what that sound was, he couldn’t help but relax a bit. Having another shifter around was a good thing - and he worked just fine with cats. So long as they didn’t get any ideas about what exactly was on the menu.
He almost didn’t catch what she actually said next, but he paused when he did. It might sound bad, but Nicolas...honestly didn’t have a strong reaction, one way or another, to the news. He didn’t know the man well, and while he’d miss the rare letter, there hadn’t been much of a relationship there to begin with. That said - he knew what losing a parent felt like and he sighed softly. “I’m sorry...it couldn’t have been easy,” he offered. Sure, he hadn’t exactly been ‘on the run’ when he left after his mom died, but he’d had to get out. He could sympathize, at least a little bit.
“Well, I’m glad you made it here safely,” he added, with a small, sheepish smile. “Hope you’re not too disappointed.”
Suddenly all her nerves vanished and she smiled at her older brother. Maybe they could be good friends after all. It was all she really wanted, somebody in her life to understand her. A smile erupted on her lips and she leaned forward to encompass her arms around the taller man. She pulled back quickly before she looked at him again. “I want us to be friends, can we do that? I'd really like it.” She replied. It seemed like at this point that Nicolas was the only one who’d understand her the same way her father did.
Nicolas couldn’t help it - he froze up in her arms, barely able to relax before she was pulling back again, leaving him blinking at her. Well. Seemed he might have to get used to that if she was planning to stick around. Might take some work but...might be worth it.
“Can’t promise I’ll be much good at it, but I’d like that too.” Even if he was still just trying to work out exactly what was happening, the idea of having family around again - and a shifter to boot - was just too good of an idea to pass up. Even if he’d left the family, hurt and angry, he always missed them - always missed the feeling of having someone who just got it around. It was definitely too early for something like that between him and Jean - but it sounded like a good place to start. Grinning slightly, he stood up after a moment, “For now though...anyone shown you around the whole place yet?”
Jean shook her head at Nic’s question. She’d been so focused on finding her brother that she hadn’t bothered to go much of anywhere else. She’d been to it when it was in her town but only once and hadn’t bothered to memorize anything. “Not yet, are you offering a tour?” She asked, standing herself from where she was.
She wasn’t even sure what she was doing here, the whole idea of being away from home she dreamed about for years but now that it was actually happening, she was a loss. Was she even cut out for this life? She supposed she’d find out. And maybe her brother could help her adjust.
"A small one at least. Getting pretty late and all, and I heard a new performer has the floor tomorrow." Nic said with a smile, "Nice to know the easiest ways to get around, around here. Especially when the crowds show up." He grimaced slightly at the idea - an old tic that he didn't much notice anymore.
"You've at least been given a place to sleep right?" He added, almost as an afterthought. He had no idea what they'd set her up with, especially if no one had shown her around yet. Shaking his head, he grinned, gentler than he'd been, and not entirely talking about the carnival anymore, "We'll figure it out as we go, yeah?"
She felt a shift in Nic, like a warmth that had helped to comfort him around this strange new person he would now call his sibling. She herself didn’t know what she was going to get when she met him. He could have been just as awful as her mother, or even worse still. Yet, something about him told her that he’d be someone she could really call family after some time. A small laugh erupted from her as Nic slyly reminded her that she had to be show ready tomorrow. “Well, I been to the seamstress for my costume, and I know where Kristoph is but that’s about it, I’m afraid.” She didn’t even know where she’d lay her head to rest tonight. She had honestly just figured she’d sleep next to the lion, though it might frighten the other carnival employees.
Besides which, men didn’t want her to smell like a giant wild animal, more so of roses and things like that. The softness he’d offered her reminded her of her father. Strong but silent, helpful but not coddling. Seeing Nic like this brought a tear to her eye as she felt the sudden loss of her father flooding into his memories. “Thank you.” she offered, following her brother through the path to the outside. Seems she really was in over her head, but just maybe she might be able to figure it out.