'Ah,' he thought, as he watched over New York from the flying circus, 'another day goes by and another adventure is done with.' Alex looked down at the Central Park Zoo, seeing the staff carry Dubois away after she failed to capture his head. 'I really feel like, even though it wasn't the one I expected, I've found my home.' He looked up at the giant balloon that carried the circus over New York City. 'Now that this adventure has ended, I wonder what new ones this circus will bring?'
"Yo! Alex!" Marty shouted, snapping the lion out of his thoughts. "What you doin' out here, man? I thought you'd be in here, partyin' with the rest of us."
Calming down from the initial shock, Alex smirked. "Don't sneak up on me, Marty," he laughed, walking up to the afro-wearing zebra, "I'm still shook up after these guys saved my life."
"Point taken," he replied, looking down at the city below, "can't believe we got back. When the plane crashed during that thunder storm, I thought fo' sho we was stuck in Africa."
"Me too, but we're out of there now, touring the world with the greatest circus in the world. We'll be even more famous than we were back in the zoo!"
"And we still got our buddies with us," Marty put his hoof on Alex's shoulder, "our old buddies, like Melman and Gloria, the Penguins, the lemurs and the chimps, and our new ones, like Stefano, Vitaly,"
"and Gia," Alex finished for his buddy, thinking intently about his trapeze partner. As soon as he said this, he heard Marty start to chuckle. He looked to his pal and saw he was just barely restraining from bursting out into laughter. "Now, what's got you acting like you're being tickled by the lemurs?"
"Oh, come on, Alex," Marty laughed loud, hitting Alex with his other hoof a bit on the arm, "you can't hide it. You KNOW what I'm laughin' about!"
"No, I don't" the lion argued, shaking his head slowly, "just like I never get what you're 'crack-a-lackin'' about."
"Oh, really?" Marty sneered, tilting his head at the perplexed lion. "If you seriously have no clue, then you need help."
"Will you just tell me already!" he roared, attracting the attention of the Andalusian triplets, who looked at them like they were crazy before strutting off. "Now then, unless you want a repeat of what happened before, tell me."
Remembering what happened, Marty rubbed his behind. He knew all too well how much it hurt when Alex bit his rear, so he knew he needed to just tell Alex.
"Al, bro, you're hooked on Gia, man," he finally answered him, "you want her. You need her. You LOVE her, man."
"WHAT!?" the lion let out an even mightier roar, causing Stefano to come out.
"What is-a with all-a the racket?" the sea lion cannonball asked, patting his head to remove the slight ringing in his ears.
"Sorry about that, Stefano," Marty explained, "just tryin' to make Al here realize he's totally head over heels for Gia."
"Will you shut UP!" Alex punched Marty in anger, turning to face the afro wearing sea lion. "I do not love her."
"Calm-a down, Alice," the Italian cannonball smirked, his accent causing him to get Alex's name wrong, "there's a nothing wrong with-a the amore."
"The what?" he asked, trying to understand his Italian.
"Close-a your eyes," he said, placing his flippers on Alex's arms, "clear your-a mind and focus on-a miss Gia."
"What are ya' up to, bud?" Marty asked, but he didn't get an answer.
"Just listen, both of-a you," Stefano hushed them, "are-a you ready Alice?"
Sighing, Alex shrugged his shoulders and did as Stefano asked of him, first closing his eyes, then clearing his mind and finally thinking of Gia, the young jaguar who had saved the life of him and his friends and introduced him to the circus.
"Ok-a," Stefano said slowly, "now answer-a these three questions, based on-a what-a you see. First-a question, how would-a you describe-a her, in one word?"
"Beautiful," the lion answered, triggering some laughter from Marty, who was quickly silenced by Stefano.
"Next-a question, is how-a do you feel-a when you are-a near her?"
"Well," he thought closely about this one, not realizing what he had said before or even what Stefano was up to, "I guess... I feel happy. I feel warm inside, I feel like time slows down around us, I feel... complete." He placed a paw over where his heart would be.
"Last-a question," Stefano said as he placed a flipper over Marty's mouth to stop him from laughing too loudly, "is if-a she was here-a right now, what-a would you say-a to her?"
"I guess I would say..." when he realized what he wanted to say, his eyes shot open as the realization hit him. "I would say... I love you."
"Phew!" Marty sighed, taking the flipper off of his mouth. "Finally, you get it! Now, please! Tell me you know what to do now, because if you don't your head is seriously messed up."
Alex knew straight away what Marty meant, but he dreaded the thought of actually telling Gia how he felt. He had nightmares while the circus was on tour about what would happen if he tried. He still wasn't entirely certain if Gia had forgiven him for lying to her. Never, in all of his life, had Alex felt such a fear in his gut like he did when he thought about confessing his feelings, especially since he had no idea how she felt.
"You know I can't do that, Marty," Alex said, with a solemn tone, "there's no way that it could work for me. She probably hates me still for what happened back in London."
"Aha!" Stefano shouted, determination like a flame in his soul. "If that is-a the case, Alice, then-a why did we come-a to save you?"
"Because you needed us to keep the circus going?" the New York lion countered, almost pessimistically.
"Nope-a," Stefano replied, smiling wider than he had ever done before, "try again."
"You missed Marty, so you came to save him," Alex looked back down to the illuminated city that he once called home, "and you knew he'd want the rest of us to be saved. You knew it was kind of a 'package deal'."
"I did-a miss him, si," Stefano admitted, still grinning like a Cheshire cat, "but it was-a not-a my idea for the-a rescue. It was-a hers." He quickly dragged Alex to the tent opening, so Alex could see the party inside. "You-a see, Alice? It was-a all-a for you. She placed-a her trust-a in you and found someone-a to-a find amore with, and even-a though you had lied to-a her, she still-a needs you. You have-a made her happier than-a she has-a ever been."
Alex scoped out the group of animals inside, but couldn't find the one person he was looking for. He could see the Andalusian triplets and the elephants chatting with Melman and Gloria; he saw the dogs and the chimps playing poker on one of the crates; he could see Maurice and Mort talking with the penguins; he could even see Julien… caressing Sonya's back, but there was no sign of Gia.
"But, how do I go about it?" Alex pondered out loud. "And how can I be certain she won't laugh in my face?"
"Alice," Stefano quietened down a little so as not to attract any attention, pulling Alex away from the opening in the tent, "back in my-a home town, there-a were many-a books about a man, called-a Niccolò Machiavelli- some of-a which, I keep in-a my cart. In one-a book, he-a said, 'never was anything great achieved without danger'."
That was when it all started to make sense for Alex. He knew now that, while he had been running from it, there was only one thing he could possibly do about it. Once he'd thanked Stefano and Marty, he started looking around the tent for Gia. Since she wasn't amongst the group, who were still partying, he decided to check around the tent more thoroughly, checking the cannons, the tightropes, the trapeze. He looked everywhere before seeing that outside the tent, on the other side of where he was, Gia was there. She was sat on the edge of the flying circus, looking down to the glowing lights and the city below, a balloon in hand. Alex, finally summoning up the courage and gathering his breath, walked over to where she was sat. When he sat down next to her, she looked over to him and smiled.
"Hey," he greeted, "wasn't expecting you to be out here."
"Hey, Alex," she greeted back, looking back to the city so he couldn't see the slight pink tint on her cheeks, "the party felt a bit too much for me, so I thought I would come out here, get some fresh air and, y'know, relax."
"Yeah, it has been crazy, hasn't it?" Alex was afraid to look at her, still thinking that she hated him. "Look," he sighed, looking down to the city below, "I'm so sorry that I lied to you leading up to London. I totally understand if you hate me. I told you that I was a big, famous circus performer, I made up an act and I acted like an expert and none of it was true. I'm so glad that you saved us from the zoo, but if you want nothing to do with me, I'll go."
She couldn't believe what she was hearing him say. How could he think she didn't forgive him, after saving him from the circus? After everything they'd been through? He was going to get up and walk away, but she stopped him, placing a paw on his shoulder.
"Alex," she sighed, yet smiling, "you don't get it, do you? Had it not been for you and your friends, we would still be a deadbeat failure for a circus, stuck in Europe. You and your friends have given us the chance to tour the world. And as for your lie? In a way, you weren't lying."
"What do you mean?" he asked, turning to face her with a perplexed look.
"You ARE a big circus performer," she explained, looking into his eyes, "you and your friends. If you weren't circus, would you have been able to put on such a brilliant performance with us? As for making up Trapeze Americano and pretending to be an expert at it, you WERE an expert at it, because it was YOUR idea. Every idea comes from somewhere, and tonight, we made that idea a reality. You see? You ARE circus."
"Really?" he asked, looking into her eyes. Taking a moment to collect his composure, he continued. "Look, Gia, I,"
"No, Alex," she whispered, placing a finger to his lips, "just don't say anything." She slowly moved her head towards his, closing her eyes as he did the same. Eventually, their faces met, lips locking together as they kissed with passion. Fireworks filled the sky as they melted into it. She threw her balloon to the children below so she could wrap her arms around him. They held it for moments, seemingly endless moments, just keeping in each other's embrace, before they let go for air. They kept the focus on each other's eyes. "The real reason I wasn't at the party... was because you weren't there."
"Gia," he panted, smiling dreamily at her, "I- I think there's something you should know. There's something about you, Gia, something I've not felt about anyone else ever before. You're beautiful, you're fun, you're simply amazing. Any time I'm with you, I feel like there isn't anything I can't do. Gia," he placed his paw against her cheek, "I love you."
"I love you too, Alex," Gia sighed, as they locked in another deep, passionate kiss. They didn't care that the wind was picking up; they didn't care that anyone could walk out of the party to see them; all they cared about was being together and showing their passion for each other. A flame burned with heat inside of them as they held each other and kissed for what it was- amore. Once they needed breath again, they broke the kiss and looked deep into each other's eyes with love, panting from the need for breath. "Now that I have you with me, how about we enter the party?" She held her arm out to him. "Together?"
Smirking, he nodded, wrapping his arm around hers. They walked into the party together, like they would do many times for years to come.