Clint and Barney were setting up the tents for the circus. It wasn’t a big circus like Ringling Brothers but it was big enough to get most people’s attention. Clint hated the work but it was better than being stuck at the orphanage with a chance of Barney and him being separated.
Clint was tying the rope through the hole in the post when he saw a new face carrying a bundle of rope bigger than himself behind him. The kid was lanky and had freckles all over his body. The only reason Clint knew this was because the kid didn’t have a shirt on. Big mistake the kid was going to have a huge sunburn later in the afternoon.
Barney shouts to Clint to stop staring at the new kid and help him rig the pole for the tent up. Clint shrugs and goes back to fixing the tent curious about the new kid. He wonders if he’ll catch him later or not today.
Clint doesn’t have to wait long to figure that out. When he and Barney are taking their lunch break he spots the new kid at the far end of the tent not interacting with anyone. It’s strange but some of the circus folk seem to be scared of him. Clint isn’t and walks over towards him and plops down next to the kid startling the new boy.
“Hey I’m Clint what’s your name,” he asks through his gap teeth biting into an apple.
“Bruce,” the other boy whispers turning away from Clint eating silently.
Clint takes that as a challenge and grins, “so Bruce how ya liking the circus so far,” he asks. Bruce just munches on his sandwich ignoring Clint pretending he didn’t hear him.
“Hey did you hear what I asked,” he says looking at Bruce annoyed. Bruce licks his fingers and wipes his mouth with the back of his hand before dumping his trash ignoring Clint again. Clint just follows him as Bruce walks out of the luncheon tent.
Clint walks beside him grinning from ear to ear. This guy sure is weird and monotone he should have gotten the warning to back off. Not to mention other people in the circus are avoiding the guy like he has the plague. This can only mean one thing. The kid has to be interesting, something has to be up his sleeve.
Bruce sighs stopping outside the cleaning supplies closet “I just want to clean up please,” he says in a monotone voice. He takes out a broom suppressing a groan as he turns around and sees Clint right behind him. “What?”
“Nothing…just wanted to talk and get to know ya,” he says earning an eyebrow raise from Bruce. He laughs rubbing the back of his head, “it’s all right I’ll talk for both of us,” he smirks taking a dustpan and following Bruce. Bruce just sighs and begins to do his chores as Clint talks and talks and talks. Bruce doesn’t mind too much when Clint speaks it’s like listening to a talk show a very country slash surfer talk show.
“…and then Barney went bam bam and got the two shots on the bullseye. It was so amazing,” Clint beams proudly of his brother as he holds the flap of the tent up so Bruce can sweep the dirt to the outside. “He said once I’m older the swordsman will teach me some tricks. So what are you gonna learn to do,” he asks curiously.
Bruce freezes in his steps before resuming his duties, “nothing I’m just going to clean and set up.”
“Aww you don’t wanna be in the show,” Clint whines as they begin to head back to the supply closet.
“No I don’t,” Bruce says gripping the broom tightly making it creak.
“Why not,” he asks. Who wouldn’t want to be in the show? It beats cleaning up elephant shit all day.
“I don’t like being stared at,” he shouts at Clint huffing before turning around embarrassed. He rubs his face trying to get rid of the red flush with no success.
Clint chuckles, “you’re weird.”
Bruce takes a deep breath and sighs as he gets the dump shovel, “I’ll go clean the lions then,” he says in the same monotone voice. Clint scratches his head wondering what he said. He shrugs and lets it go as he heads back to his area to help his brother watching Bruce head into the lion cages. They’re docile, well as docile as big cats can get but they growl and move away from Bruce as soon as they see him. Weird.
Clint was a little bored at the moment. Currently, he was stuck behind some fake set up register taking orders for customers when he’s suddenly thrust a concession stand box.
“Barney why are you giving this to me,” he smirks, “you got concession stand duty tonight.
“They’re bringing out the wolf and that thing freaks me the fuck out. It’s larger than anything I’ve ever seen,” he grins, “plus didn’t you want to see the wolf a few nights ago?”
“Yeah but when I’m working as this box dummy,” he says getting the box strapped on because his brother is giving him the no budging look. “I won’t have a chance to see him up close.”
“You’re fucking nuts you want to see that thing up close,” he shakes his head. “You know we can’t ringmaster orders.”
“Oh come on Barney why don’t you think we can’t see the wolf? It’s huge-”
“Cause Clint it can swallow your head in one bite,” he says clamping his jaws down for emphasis.
“Yeah well I still wanna see it up close,” he says getting the treats in the box sorted before heading out.
“Clint don’t if you disobey his orders he’ll throw us back on the street do you want to eat of dumpsters again,” he almost yells.
“No,” Clint frowns looking at the ground. “I just wanna peek at the wolf one peek come on Barney please,” he says giving him those puppy dog eyes.
“Fine follow me after the show. And if they ask we say we thought we heard the elephants in trouble or something,” he says taking over the register. “Now go get to work.”
Clint beams and rushes off to complete his duty for the night. Of course, he tries to see the huge wolf when it gets on stage but since he was delivering some cotton candy and popcorn to a family of five with rowdy kids screams and knocking over sticky soft drinks, he missed it. It doesn’t matter Barney said they were going to see it tonight. He’s looking forward to it.
“Look there it is, Clint what are you doing don’t get so close,” he whispers harshly as the wolf in the rusted cage looks up from its paws at the two men. It growls lowly at both of them not moving from its spot.
“What it’s just a wolf,” he says getting close enough to the cage he can get swiped with claws. “Just a big old puppy dog.” He smiles before falling down on his ass to avoid the claws from the wolf in the cage. It growls and chews up on the bars foaming at the mouth. “Hey, no biting you ass!”
The wolf looks at the boy on the ground and grumbles before turning around in a circle and laying down with it’s backside to Clint. Lights begin to turn on and muttering can be heard as other circus entertainers had heard the commotion.
“Clint you’ve seen it now let’s get before they find us,” Barney says pulling Clint by the arm away from the enclosure.
Ok so maybe seeing the wolf after a performance when it was already cranky was not a good idea but really he couldn’t pass up the opportunity. The thing was huge in that cramped cage. The cage was used for unruly elephants so he had to be about 12 foot or higher at least. Plus it had the brownest fur he had ever seen littered with smaller tan spots like a cheetah or some other spotted animal. He didn’t know a lot of animals but he knew that the wolf was something special. Something out of this world.
He’s heading for breakfast when he spots Bruce from yesterday. He looks exhausted with those deep bags under his eyes.
“Hey,” he starts sitting in front of Bruce.
Bruce gives a short glance and answers his meal. “Hi.”
“So you wanna hang out by the lake today before we leave,” he blurts out before he loses his nerve cause geez man this guy looks like he needs a break. He remembers his first few days of the circus. The routine and all the heavy work. It can create a huge strain on you and well the kid looks like he would lose a fight with wet paper.
Bruce raises his brown eyes to meet Clint’s blue, “but our chores-”
Clint smiles waving his hand, “I got someone to cover for us for an hour or so come on it’ll be fun,” he teases watching Bruce fidget with his hands. He looks around before nodding his head.
“Ok…do I have to swim,” he asks stirring the watery eggs on his plate.
“Uh yeah, that’s the whole point of the lake. Can’t ya swim,” he asks through shoveling the food in his mouth as if someone will take it from him. He eats like a beast sometimes but he supposes it’s a habit he had to have. Best food goes to the quickest hands.
“No I never learned,” he sighs. “Maybe this is a bad idea.”
“Aw shoot freckles,” Clint says making the other boy blush. “It’s the easiest thing to learn just kick our legs and push the water back with your hands.” He wipes his mouth and chugs his juice before looking at Bruce. “I’ll teach ya and you’ll be a pro in no time.”
Bruce hesitates a moment before nodding his head at Clint. Clint smiles and stands up from the table grabbing Bruce’s hand leading him to the lake. He talks about nothing and everything as they walk to the lake with Bruce mumbling a few short replies. Bruce isn't used to so much contact and it is making him nervous but he’s enjoying himself at the same time.
They arrive at the lake sooner than expected and Clint takes off his shirt and socks and shoes before wading into the water. He motions at Bruce to join him before dunking his head under the water.
Bruce takes his time and places his clothes up on the bank by Clint’s. He takes extra time folding them before walking into the water knee deep and just standing there arms across his chest. He sees Clint swimming in the water further out and waves to him as he begins to inch further into the lake. The water is now up to his waist and he stands there looking over the lake for Clint.
It doesn’t take long before a large bubble surface in front of him pulling him into the water. Clint snorts standing up looking at the soaked Bruce glare up at him.
“Aww come on freckles this is your first step in swimming. Now that’s your all wet the fun begins,” he teases before holding out his hand to Bruce. “I got ya Bruce promise nothing will happen just gonna float for now,” he grins.
Time passes without the boys realizing it and Bruce is dog paddling. He can’t do any fancy strokes yet but at least he can dog paddle for the time. He must look like such an idiot in front of Clint.
“That’s it ya got it Bruce see not so bad,” he tells him standing by his side as he does circles around the shallow end swimming. Clint smiles before his face falls. He sees one of the entertainers looking around and calling his name. “Shit...don't tell Barney I said that but we gotta hurry back wanna eat together again I can introduce ya to my brother. He’s the best older brother but he’s still an ass,” he says wading through the lake as fast as he can.
Bruce stands up in the shallow end and follows after Clint. “I don’t have to tell your brother about saying ass?”
“Nope we both use it too much to care come on Bruce, but for some reason, he’s hung up on the word shit,” he chuckles getting his clothes on as fast as possible.
Bruce smiles shyly, “I’ll see you later then?”
“Hell ya freckles,” he grins before running off back to the circus.
Clint swears more than a few times that day. The storm of the century in his opinion takes places later on that day. And the ringmaster is not happy giving back refunds to paying customers. He’s also not in a great mood when he found out exactly what he did this morning. All it was, was a stupid swim in the lake with Bruce big deal. Marque had been caught doing the dirty deed with three of the acrobats a month ago and nothing happened to him about professional standards the fuck.
Either way, the storm is expressing his mood for the night. He’s stuck inside with Barney and some other chum in the small trailer when he hears a knock on the door. He gets out from the covers wondering what idiot would need to see either one of them tonight. He’s shocked to see Bruce outside his trailer soaked to the bones in a fucking thunderstorm.
“Clint can I sleep in here with you,” he asks shaking from either the cold or something that has him scared.
Clint pulls him in not carrying which one it is, “the hell Bruce you’re soaked where were you?” He looks and sees red bleeding through the too thin clothes and is about to comment.
“I was outside and I just well…,” Bruce starts not able to continue. He fidgets with his hands still shaking.
“Well come on then get those wet clothes off you can borrow mine,” Clint says not wanting to intrude on Bruce’s wounds. Hell, he hated it when others got into his Barney and his business. Bruce obviously doesn’t want to talk about it so he won’t.
“Oh no I couldn’t,” he says before a set of clothes is thrown at his face.
“I ain’t going to sleep with a wet person now change,” he says turning his back on Bruce so he can change. He doesn’t hear any movement for a while before he hears a splash of soggy clothes landing on the floor.
“Thank you, Clint,” Bruce says getting in the too large clothes. “I’m changed.”
“Yeah, whatever you’re just lucky we didn’t wake Barney. He’s been sleeping like a rock lately,” Clint says turning around smiling at Bruce.
Bruce makes an ‘o’ face before nodding his head shyly. He looks around the room wondering where he will be placed before Clint is patting his twin bed. “Come on get under the covers so ya can get warm.”
Bruce blushes and keeps his head down as he quickly gets under the covers with Clint. He lays down stiff as a bard and Clint begins to think how this could have been a bad idea. His face turns a little pink.
His voice breaks as he speaks, “Yeah I think the swordsman is being too rough anyway night Bruce,” he says turning on his side trying to give Bruce room on the tiny bed.
“Night Clint,” he says falling shutting his eyes trying to stay calm. He needs to stay calm. He doesn’t want to have an accident.
There are a few things Clint notices when he wakes up the morning after Bruce’s sleepover. One Bruce is missing and two his bed is covered in brown fur balls. The fuck?!
So his ponders this situation and ponders it some more looking at the bed covered in fur and notices ripped clothes in the garbage bin at the corner as if someone was trying to hide the evidence when he thinks in his young teenager brain that no way is this possible. However, there’s only one way to find out.
A tray crashes on the table in front of Bruce startling him. He peeks up and sees Clint. “Clint? Thank you for last night. I had to um leave early this morning-”
“Hey there buddy,” he says leaning on his elbows on the table.
Bruce raises an eyebrow concerned “Hi you seem weird?”
He grins at Bruce thinking her goes nothing. “Yeah, I just found out something cool and interesting about this guy I know.”
“Yeah he’s a regular wolf boy fur and all,” he blurts taking in a spoonful of cereal watching Bruce’s reaction.
“Oh my god,” Bruce says placing his head in his hands shaking.
He knows. He fucking knows. He’s going to kill him or he has to know it’s him in the cage. What now!
“Holt shit for real,” he says in shock. Bruce just gives him a tearful look. “No Bruce calm down it’s cool.”
“Did I bite you,” he asks hiding his face. “Is that how you know?”
“What hell no you left clumps of fur all in my bed, not cool buddy,” he pouts.
“So you don’t…”
“No, I don’t give a crap about it,” he grins. “I mean it’s kind of weird. I thought fairytale junk was fake and all. Werewolves existing kind of weird.”
“So we can still be friends,” he hesitates.
“Sure thing freckles maybe you can start by telling me how you became a wolf boy,” he grins looking over at Bruce. Bruce only smiles showing off his fangs.