Another late update...*nervous laughter* So sorry, y'all.

Hope this chapter makes up for it; it's definitely been my favorite scene (at least to write) so far!

The restaurants and bars on the fringes of East Berlin were packed. The counter was sticky under his arm, and the stool he was sitting on had rip in the cushion fabric. The heat was stifling - made him anxious for a breath. Not mention all the fucking noise. Jesus Christ. It set his teeth on edge, all the sudden haws of laughter, clinks of glasses, growing buzz of voices, the incoherent mumblings of the Pole to his right.

"Cholera ścianę, co to jest? Co oni sobie myśleli?"

Gilbert downed the rest of his glass before motioning for another.

"I mean, like, what is this?" the Pole said, turning head over to look at him. Greasy blonde hair fell down on either side of his face, and Gilbert couldn't really shove down his revulsion. He didn't reply, but the Pole just kept staring at him.

"Seriously, though. You feel? I feel like you feel."

Gilbert sipped the head from his beer. "Are you talking to me?"

"Well, I'm not looking at anybody else."

"I don't know you."

"I'm Feliks Łukasiewicz."

Gilbert just took another mouthful from his glass.

"Well?" The Pole asked once it was obvious he didn't plan on responding.

"Well, Feliks Łukasiewicz, I don't know you."

"Then, like, tell me your name so we're not strangers. I totally don't like strangers."

"Then let's be strangers."

The Pole set his head on the table, moving his drink back and forth over the battered wood of the counter and staring at it languidly. "I'm a trapeze artist."

"Good for you. Don't talk to me."

"But it's super awkward. We're sitting, like, really close to each other. What do you do?"

"Right now, I'm drinking."

"Are you a soldier?"


"Are you Russian?"

"Do I sound Russian to you? No."

"Are you a drunkard for a living, or just a drunkard for right now?"


"That didn't make sense. Are you a train conductor?"


The Pole blinked, and then something like fear flashed across his eyes. "You're not Stasi, are you?" he hissed in a lower voice.

"No. I'm not Eastern."

"What? You mean, like, from the other side of the Wall?"

Gilbert stared at the dark bubbles floating up the side of his glass.

Feliks laughed. "Westie should get home, shouldn't he? Westie doesn't belong over here."

"Shut up," Gilbert growled.

The Pole ignored him. "Westie thinks he's better than me, doesn't he? Westie lost?"

"Go away."

"Westie come here for a cheap drink? Oh, no, Westie's getting tense. It's getting dark, kolega. Better get home. Or did you come to see the opera? Come here with the British?"

"Do you want to take this outside?" Gilbert suggested lowly. His knuckles were white, and he pressed his fists against the bar. They were itching to go flying, to land with a crack on something solid, like a certain Pole's bone. Or maybe they wanted something soft, like the Pole's stomach. No, both.

"Can't take the glasses outside, pal. But if the Westie is hungry for a fight...Does he think I can sate him?" The Pole barked. "Ha! Westies are never satisfied."

Gilbert slammed a coin on the counter and got up.

"Hey, where you going?" Feliks called after him. "I was totally not done talking to you."

Gilbert started walking.

"Westie going home, now? Westie just needed to feel superior, that's it."

He could sense him following him. It made his skin crawl.

"Westie, Westie."

He pushed open the door.

"Westie have a smoke? Westie have a smoke? Come on, Westie. Come on."

He was trailing him. Gilbert continued down the sidewalk.

"Westie -" the Pole started, laying his hand on his shoulder.

And it was then that he whirled around and attacked. He brought his knee up and slammed it into the other man's nose. There was a satisfying crunch and a spray of blood, and then they were both screeching, fists flying and feet kicking and heads butting. Gilbert got a punch to the eye, and he managed a kick into Felik's stomach.

There was a tugging on the back of his shirt, and he threw an arm back against another head. There was a squeal of surprise, and he got a glimpse of a man backing off, eyes darting, worried.

Feliks smiled. "At least you can get over the Wall, kolega. I'm trapped here with all you Germans."

"Feliks! Stop!"

"Somebody's callin' for ya," Gilbert spat. "Run along now."

Feliks fist shot out and he caught it, twisting the Pole's arm so far that Felik's body arched. The man let out a high-pitched sound.

"You scream like a girl," Gilbert sneered.

"And you fight like one," Feliks seethed, writhing. He hooked Gilbert's ankle with a foot, sending them both crashing to the concrete. The observer had returned, this time pulling on the back of Felik's shirt, shouting a mixture of apologies and reprimands. Brown hair was escaping its tie, and was hurriedly brushed back as the man yanked on the Pole. Feliks swore and shoved him back. "Not now, Toris."

Gilbert picked up the nearest rock and hurled it. "Yeah, not now, Toris."

The stone clipped the man's shoulder and sent him stumbling back. Neither Gilbert nor Feliks paid much mind to it.

That is, until Gilbert received a hard kick to the spine. He heard a haw of laughter from Feliks, followed by a startled oof.

"Just what are you two doing?" came from above. Gilbert blinked the fading sun from his eyes and struggled back to his feet.

"Nothing, obviously. Do you -" he broke off with a startled snort. "Dear god, who are you?"

"That's Toris," Feliks answered for him, rubbing his side with a scowl. "He's, like, totally a traitor."

Toris was a little more interesting than that. It wasn't the sun that Gilbert had blinked out of his eyes, but the sun reflecting off of the thousands of plastic jewels sewn to the man's leotard. He hadn't noticed it before - he had been too caught up in trying to smash Feliks' nose into his brain - but now...

It came out at first as snigger, and then as uncontained, full-blown donkey haws. "What are you wearing?"

Toris looked down at himself with a frown. "I knew I should have changed," he muttered under his breath, and then looked up and said, "A uniform."

"That's not a uniform, that's a sequined something that should never touch the skin of a man's body."

"It's a uniform," Toris repeated, jaw squaring, but Gilbert noticed the color beginning to rise to his cheeks.

He put his hand up with one last laugh. "Okay, it's a uniform. Uniform for what? for humiliation?"

"The circus," Toris snapped.

"He has the shiniest coat, too," Feliks added. It did not help their case, and Gilbert held in another bout of laughter. "I wish I had it. But mine's just, like, the ugliest combination of blue and white possible." He pulled up his sleeve to reveal the second, tight one beneath it, with alternating stripes of said blue and white.

"The circus," Gilbert managed, pushing his hair back out of his eyes. "By god. I've never met circus freaks before."

"I told you," Feliks hissed, "I'm a trapeze artist. And I wouldn't mess with Toris, he's into the impalement arts."

"Well," Gilbert replied, looking Toris up and down, "he's definitely impaled my eyes."

"Gag me with a spoon," Feliks spat. "He'll make you the next target, see if you'll be talking then."

"Feliks, let's go."

"He's into archery, and he's totally the best at it. Never misses his target. I mean, never never misses his target, because you're not supposed to hit Raivis. His target is not the target. So he never misses to miss Raivis but he always hits his target."

"Feliks. Come on."

"I guess you don't have circuses in the West? Westie would make a great target performer. Raivis can be a clown."

Toris' eyebrows drew in at that, and he looked away from Feliks' face to Gilbert. "You're from the West? What are you doing over here?"

"I got trapped by the Wall."

"You have your identity card, don't you?"

"I did, before it was stolen."

"Karma," Feliks sang.

"Are you Stasi?"

"I'm not Stasi."

"Where are you staying?"

"On benches, at the moment. What, actually considering hiring me as target practice? Sorry, I might still have a job at the factory."

"You can stay with us, if you want."

"T-toris!" Feliks sputtered. "Kurwa mac, dupek!"

"Why hell would I stay with you?" Gilbert asked, spitting on the sidewalk and rubbing the blood pulsing from his lip away from his chin.

"Have you looked at yourself?" Toris bit back. "Look, it was only an offer. No need to get waspish about it."

Benches weren't comfortable. And although the sky overhead had only a few clouds, this was Germany. It would rain sooner rather than later.

"Would you use me as target practice?" he asked warily.

"If you remain civil- then no. If you laugh at my uniform, consider yourself yet another masterpiece of the archer's art."

"Cholera ścianę, co to jest? Co oni sobie myśleli?" - "Damn the wall, what is it? What were they thinking?"(Polish).

kolega- buddy (Polish).

"Kurwa mac, duper!" - "whore" something "asshole". (Polish).

There is, I promise, a reason for the circus. Trust me. For now, blindly enjoy the sequins.

Happy March!