It had been another successful night for the Circus Zaragoza – seriously, Stefano doubted that even back in its hey-dey, the circus had ever done so well. The sea lion was grinning so wide his jaw hurt; he liked the satisfied feeling that came after a performance, he had missed that feeling after all those years Zaragoza was in a rut. And now-! Now, the circus had found new passion, all thanks to Alex, Marty, Melman, and Gloria.
Stefano waddled his way over to his cab in the zoo train, lantern in-flipper. He was looking forward to a good night's sleep after that night's performance in Chicago. He found himself humming contentedly as he climbed in. As golden light flooded the car, a small, thick-accented voice cried out from the rafters.
"Ah! T-too broigh'! Tha's-too-broigh'!"
Stefano whirled, lantern light dancing crazily of the nearby wall as he searched for the speaker. "Who's-a there?" He demanded, startled.
The voice spoke again, timidly. "If yah wouldn't min' mate, point that away, please…"
Stefano glanced up. "Scusi? Hello? Who-a is it?" His opposite flipper tugged nervously at his frilly collar. "I'm-a… er, where-a are you?"
"Up here." The voice stuttered. Stefano aimed the light up and doubled back with a gasp. There, hanging from the top rafter, was a big, black, furry… thing!
"M-mamma mia," Stefano murmured, shocked.
The thing twitched, and a large, membrane-y cover folded back to reveal a small furry face with big, shining eyes. The thing tilted its head at the stunned sea lion and opened its mouth to reveal a row of neat, pointed white teeth.
Stefano, eyes as big as saucers, inched backwards. "Oh, mamma mia, Santa Maria, piena di-!" he yelped as he tumbled backwards out of the cab, lantern flying from his grasp. Stefano scurried upright and shot off into a rather jaunty, clumsy run, but a quick clip for a sea lion nonetheless, calling, "Alice-a!"
Alex was just about to turn in for the night in the cab he shared with Marty, Melman, and Gloria. The car was abuzz with excited conversation about the evening. "Last stop until D.C., right?" Marty asked.
Gloria nodded as she finished removing the makeup off her face. "Right,"
"I can't wait! Who knew this would be so much fun?" Melman squealed.
Alex smiled as he leaned against the back wall of the cab. He stretched his arms and sighed. "Who knew?" He agreed, and yawned. "G'night, guys."
Alex slipped off the wall in surprise. Marty shot upright and Melman hit his head on the ceiling turning around. "Ow," he groaned.
"Where is-a Alice!" Stefano came scampering over, panic written on his face, his whiskers twitching. When he spotted the lion, he gave a huge sigh of relief. "Oh, grazie al cielo! You must-a come quick!" He fretted, pointing a shaky flipper in the direction of his cab. "There's a cosa orrenda in-a my cab!"
Alex rubbed his eyes, withholding from an eye-roll as he clambered out of the cab to face Stefano. "Come again?" He asked, gingerly.
Stefano dithered, squirming nervously. "It-it was-a monster!" He finally squeaked. "In-a my cab!"
Alex raised an eyebrow. "Monster?"
"Al-icks, Stefano." The lion urged.
Stefano nodded vigorously. "Si, I know! Al-iss! You come-a with me?" He pleaded. Alex tried not to look the sea lion directly in the eyes. Stefano had an awful habit of looking so pathetic when he was upset; his eyes got bigger – if that was even possible – and the corners of his mouth turned down into an almost comical image of dejection.
The lion hurriedly nodded. "Yeah, okay, okay. I'll come."
Stefano perked up immediately. "Oh, grazie, Alice!" He grabbed Alex's paw in his flipper opposite the one holding the lantern and tugged him along. "Just-a this way!"
Alex shook his head. He knew where the sea lion's cab was – it was the cab the zoosters had stayed in the first time at Circus Zaragoza; towards the back of the train. "Just a little farther!" Stefano announced. He halted abruptly, almost causing Alex to run into him. He aimed the lantern inside, his flipper shaking terribly. "Er, it's-a in there," he gestured inside with his head, stepping behind Alex as the lion came forward. The small beam of light the lantern gave off wasn't much assistance as it remained against the far wall.
Alex gently peeled the light out of Stefano's grasp and shone it inside. He didn't notice anything strange right away as he panned the beam carefully along the inside, but Stefano did. "Ah!" He squealed. "It's-a up there-a!"
Alex lifted the lantern up to the rafter and stopped. He took a big step back, doubly flabbergasted. What was that thing? He grimaced as he raised the light again. The thing hung stiffly from the rafter, but stirred as the light settled on it once again. "Oy," it protested in a timid, cracked voice. "Please jus' leave me alone. I've 'ad it with the broigh' lights 'eah!"
Alex gulped. And it could speak, too? "Hey, uh," he faltered, glancing down at the quivering Stefano beside him. "Look, this isn't anything personal, but uh, you're kind of trespassing on circus property." The thing unfolded the membrane cover as it had done before, and stared down at the newcomer. A light bulb came on in the lion's brain and he snapped with finality. "You're a bat, right?"
"Un pipistrello?" Stefano queried, peeking around Alex. "Che cosa ci fa qui?"
Alex wasn't sure how to respond to that; Stefano often flip-flopped between English and Italian when he was nervous. But this bat wasn't anything to be nervous about. Well, aside from the fact that it was far bigger than any bat Alex had ever seen.
"Right you ah, mate," the bat smiled sheepishly. "I'm a bet."
"'Bet'?" Alex asked, not understanding the last word.
The bat shook its head. "Bet, what you just said." Its eyes widened in emphasis.
Alex understood. "Oh, 'bat'! Got it," he gave a 'thumbs-up'. "Sorry, it was hard to tell. Um, your accent," the lion continued. "What is it?" The bat was male, he was sure of it.
"Oh! N-New Guinea, it is!" The bat sounded proud. It smiled to reveal those teeth again. "Come here all the way from the island, just, uh, tryin' to get back now."
"Why-a you say that?" Stefano mustered up the courage enough to speak.
The bat's large eyes darted nervously. "Er well, I er… I need to lie low."
"Lie low?" Alex lowered the lantern. "Why?"
The bat hemmed and hawed. "Er…" he muffled the last word as he wrapped his ample wings around his quivering little body.
"Oh, it's-a nothing to be-a scared about!" Stefano comforted. Alex watched the transformation with surprise. Stefano, who mere seconds ago, was cowering in fear from this unknown apparition, was now soothing an obviously frightened bat.
"What kind of bat are you, anyway? I've never seen one that big." Alex continued, figuring this was a safe enough question.
The bat's head reappeared. "Black flying fox," he replied, softly.
Alex whistled. "Do… all bats get to be your size?" He'd never heard of a flying fox before. The bat shook his head. "No' all, no. I'm a mega-bet."
"Meaning I'm a member o' the family o' Megachiroptera. The big bets. The little guys yah see here 'r the Microchiroptera, 'r the small bets."
Alex nodded absently. So the bat was a taxonomist as well as a stowaway. "I see. Well," he cleared his throat. "Well, you're uh, welcome to stay, I guess. Maybe tell us your side of things in the morning? You're not rabid, are you?" He grinned hopefully. If there was anything he didn't need right now, it was a rabid stowaway.
The bat quickly shook his head. "Nope, not a' all! Er, and thanks." he murmured.
"First," Alex held up a claw. "What's your name?"
"Uh, it's Jakobi."
"Okay, um I'm Alex, and this is-" he gestured to the sea lion.
Stefano cleared his throat. "My name is-a Stefano!" He declared, gladly.
Alex rubbed his eyes again. "Okay so, no monster here, and I'm going back to bed." He handed the lantern back to Stefano but didn't leave immediately. He was about to ask if Stefano wanted to bunk in their cab for the night and leave Jakobi in peace, but the sea lion surprised him.
"Si, buonanotte, Alice." The sea lion smiled and offered a quick nod. Then he turned and hopped up into the car. Alex shrugged and went back to his own cab.
The appearance of a threat extinguished, Stefano was back to his cheery, bustling self. "Stai bene, my friend?" He asked the big bat. Jakobi offered a look of pure puzzlement. "Er, what?" He asked, timidly. "I'm sorry, I dun' speak… whatever the' is." He looked ashamed.
Stefano hastily amended. "Mi dispiace! Some-a times I will speak in 'Talian." He grinned, apologetically. "What I say was-a 'are-a you okay?'"
That Jakobi understood. He nodded, a small smile starting to form his face. "Well, I ain't any worse 'n I was." He shrugged upside-down.
Stefano nodded. "So-a, New Guinea, eh? Where might-a that be?" He removed his helmet, straightened his frill, and rubbed the fluorescent green stripes off of his body - his special touch for his cannon bit.
"Eh, well, y'know where Australia is?" Jakobi tilted his head again.
Stefano paused as he thought. "Never-a been to that place before, but I have-a hear of it."
Jakobi continued. "S'a small island of the coast. Jus' a little ways 'way."
Stefano looked interested. "You-a come from an island? Then what-a are you doing here?"
Jakobi sighed. "What I just said. I'm hiding out. I uh, have to be here for someone." He shook his head. "Look, I'm sorry, but I just need to sleep… Stefano, is it?"
Stefano nodded, seemingly unabashed by the flying fox's quell. "Ah, you're tired, no?" He blew out the lantern. "You need-a dark to sleep. I know," he finished cleaning himself off, heaved the big doors closed, and then curled up in the corner, directly below the bat. "Bounanotte, Jakobi."
Jakobi murmured something that sounded like "good night" back. Stefano sighed, contentedly. "There is-a nothing to worry about," he yawned. "Sono certo."
Jakobi wished he could believe that.
Well, there ya go! Nice little intro. Jakobi is an OC of mine (you can probably tell from my username :3) and the reason he talks like that is because I am trying to mimic an Aussie accent
The phrases in italics (and Italian) are as follows:
stai bene? - are you okay?
buonanotte - goodnight
cosa orrenda - horrible thing
sono certo - I am sure
mi dispiace! - I'm sorry!
Santa Maria, piena di-! - the beginning of the Hail Mary :)
Un pipistrello? Che cosa ci fa qui? - A bat? What is it doing here?
grazie al cielo! - Thanks goodness/heaven!