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Funnel Cake

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"Come on, girl," Jayne snapped irritably, pulling her away from yet another game that had caught her attention. "I'm hungry, and you ain't going on no ride without somebody there with you."

"But the goldfish," she protested. "They need a home in a mercenary's pocket!"

"I don't wanna goldfish, gorramit! I want something to eat!"

Jayne yanked her into line with him at the funnel cake stand. "Just stand there, would ya?"

The girl pouted, but stayed still. "What are we eating?"

"We?" Jayne grimaced. "There ain't no we."

"She is hungry too!"

"She had cotton candy earlier," Jayne reminded her. "Got it all over me, too. And I ain't had nothing all day."

"She had never had cotton candy before," the girl leaned against his side dreamily. "Was like eating clouds spun of fairies and moonbeams."

"Moonbeams," he snorted. "Whatcha mean you never had cotton candy? Didn't you ever have it at fairs when you was a kid?"

"Was never a kid at fairs. Am a kid now." She wrapped her arms around herself and beamed at him.

"Huh?"

"Never been to a fair before," she told him.

He was staring at her in confusion. "Sure, you been before."

She shook her head. "Nope, not ever."

"Your folks musta taken you to one." He was looking at her in something that mighta been alarm.

"Folks took me to parties, in dresses that itched." She dragged her nails down her arms. "Hair pulled back so hard it hurt, and all food was canapés that she would not be messy."

"Canopies? You mean tents?"

"Hors D'oeuvres."

"Whore's what?"

"Tiny food on trays."

"Oh." Jayne was silent a second, thinking. No steam came out of his ears, 'though it was close. "So, if you've never been to a fair before, you ain't never had a funnel cake 'afore, either."

"No." The girl stood on tiptoe as they got up closer to the counter, trying to see what was going on.

"I can't believe you ain't never had funnel cake." Jayne shook his head in amazement. "My Momma helped out with our harvest fair back home. She made the best funnel cakes around."

Girl fastened one hand 'round his bicep and leaned out to get a peek at somebody walking by carrying a plate. "Doesn't look like a funnel." She turned a puzzled face up at him. "Looks like a spider web. Lines and dribbles and dew."

"They run the dough outta funnels." Jayne stepped up to the counter and tried not to notice the girls disappointed face when he only ordered one funnel cake. "It ain't supposed to look like one."

He started to walk away, but she weren't following. She was standing right where he left her, watching everybody else walk away with their own funnel cake.

Her face was awful wistful.

Jayne rolled his eyes and dumped more cinnamon sugar on his funnel cake.

"Come on." He grabbed her elbow and tugged her to a picnic table.

She sat down with a thud. Crazy girl even managed to make that sound sad.

He ignored her and started ripping the funnel cake into pieces.

She still weren't moving. She was just watching him.

"What's wrong, girl?" He raised an eyebrow. "You ain't gonna help me eat this thing?"

She blinked at him.

"Better hurry, or else I ain't gonna leave you none."

Those eyes got all big again. "She can have some?"

Jayne just grinned, and handed her a piece of the fried dough. "Ain't like your whore's curves, or whatever. These get messy."

She looked at the sugar on his lips and smiled as she bit into the funnel cake. "Messy," she said shyly, "But very sweet."

He weren't real sure if she was talking 'bout the funnel cake no more.

END