“Mm, yes, a conversation would be nice. After all, you’re the only person here who seems to be able to hold a conversation for longer than a few minutes.” She laughed softly and gestured at the heavily intoxicated men standing near the bar. “I would much rather talk to you than them.”
She allowed her hand to brush up slightly against his as she spoke. Normally, she wasn’t much of a flirt; she was too focused on her job, and besides, most men weren’t worth flirting with. But when she was out in the town or at a tavern, it was a different story.
“Okay, but be sure not to get too intoxicated,” she teased. “Wouldn’t want you getting yourself injured on your walk home.”
"Worry not, I've only had three? Four?" Declan said, "And this'll actually be my last one."
He laughed softly, the flush in his cheeks feeling a bit hotter as Andromeda's hand brushed against his. Yet, he was oblivious to the fact that it was on purpose, and that she was flirting. He always was unaware.
"And I won't. I can hold my liquor, Miss. Better than most."
“Mm.. I’m having a hard time believing that,” she teased. “But hey, you’re a grown man. I’m sure you know your limits.”
She smirked faintly when she noticed the faint blush breaking out on his cheeks. She’d always loved the type of men that got flustered easily.
“I’m trying not to get too intoxicated myself,” she said. “As I said before, I’m fairly new, so I don’t want to wander around the town drunk.”
"Hey! I do, I do," Declan protested, just before ordering his new drink from a bartender that came to check on them.
He tapped his fingers on the table.
"So do you live here, but you're new in town? Or are ya just visitin'? Me? I've lived here most of my life, that is, since we moved to the States."
“Let’s just say I move around around a lot for work. I never stay in one place for too long.” Her gaze shifted down to her drink. “Sometimes I wish my life wasn’t like this, moving from place to place, but hey. I get to have a lot of new experiences, at least.”
Andromeda let out a small sigh. Many of those experiences she would rather forget, but they were stained in her memory. The truth is that Andromeda hadn’t actually seen much of the world. Even though she traveled with her trope all the time, she was constantly working. In fact, her trip to the bar had been her first time away from her trope in months.
She let her gaze wander over to the few people dancing in the center of the tavern. There were parts of the circus that she loved, but part of her wished that she could escape that life. But she had signed her life away— her soul away— and there was no revoking that contract.
She shook her head. This was no time to be thinking about that. She wanted have a nice night, at least for an hour or two, and she didn’t want to waste her time thinking about the darkness in her life.
“Hey, have you ever tried dancing before, love?”
Declan raised his eyebrow slightly at the question.
"Sure I have. Can't say I've danced with many women aside from my Ma, but I'm not half bad, I don't think."
He smiled and took another sip from his wine glass.
"Here's definitely not the place to do it, though."
“Hmm… oh, yes. I’m sure you are,” she replied. “I took quite a few dance lessons as a child, so I’m fairly decent.”
She listened to his next comment and raised an eyebrow, picking up her drink. She was most likely misreading his comment, or maybe she wasn’t.
“Oh? Well, they’re doing it.” She motioned to the people in the bar before she sent him a smirk. “But, I mean, if you want to go somewhere else…”
"Sure, people do dance here, but there's a jazz bar down the street. They have live music, and it's a better atmosphere for sure," Declan elaborated, "We could stay here, if you wanted, but… I'd say that's a better taste of our locale than uhhh…"
He motioned around the bar, which was dimly lit, a little dingy, really. People came here to get absolutely wasted because the alcohol was cheaper than anywhere else. Not because it was a fun hangout or a good atmosphere.
“Hm, well, that does sound fun.” Andromeda looked down at her watch. Her circus trope likely figured she was still out, hanging up flyers. She could try to stay out for a little longer. “You know what? Let’s do it. Besides, I was getting a bit sick of this bar.”
She stood up with Declan and, after finishing up her drink, headed towards the door of the tavern. She was always very hesitant about going places with strangers; after all, you never really know a person, and things could easily go south. But Declan seemed genuine, and she wanted to let loose and try her best to have a nice time while she was out.
"Alright, let's get going then," Declan replied, following after Andromeda.
He threw a tip on the counter towards the bartender and said goodnight to the staff and other regular patrons.
Declan led Andromeda outside. He was a little drunk. He could feel it now, how when he stood it seemed to sink into his limbs, but it was a very pleasant feeling. Buzzy, numbing. And he was in good company, getting to take this beautiful woman to one of his favorite places in town.
Declan pointed down the street to a club that had bright blue lights on the exterior.
"S'over there," he said, walking in front of her and reaching out his hand a bit for her to hold, if she so pleased.
Out here, it was quiet, but in the club the music would drown everything out. It was frankly a miracle that the club walls kept any of the music from leaking outside.
Andromeda noticed his hand extend the slightest bit. She wasn’t sure if he was offering her his hand to her or not, but she bottled up her bravery and slipped her hand into his, intertwining her fingers with his. Well, this was a new feeling. Yes, Andromeda had held a man’s hand before, but it had been years.
“Hopefully you know how to dance, my love,” she teased. “I don’t want any crushed toes.”
Once they arrived at the dance club, Andromeda hesitated a moment, slightly off put by the music and lights. Despite working in a circus, she’d always been weary around anything too rowdy for her liking.
Declan closed his fingers tenderly over her hand as she accepted, and he felt a smile work its way onto his face. He turned to look at her, laughing at the suggestion.
"No crushed toes," he promised, leading her inside.
The jazz club was on the classier side, compared to the other bar. People on average were less drunk- or at least, less sloppily drunk. The air was hazy with cigarette smoke and dull blue lighting. There were many tables and places to sit. Dark wood, blue velvet, and a little bit of gold detailing seemed to be a continuous color scheme here. Towards the stage, there was a dance floor where a few couples were moving to the music, an upbeat swing song at the moment.
"Shall we?" Declan offered.
Andromeda continued to hold his hand as they walked over to the dance floor. It probably gave the impression to others that they were a couple, but Andromeda didn’t care. Besides, they practically were a couple. For tonight anyways. They could flirt, laugh, and talk all they wanted to, and in the morning, none of that would be remembered. It was the nice thing about a night out; what happens at the pub stays at the pub.
“You’re dancing with a circus trope leader, my love.” She winked at him. “Are you sure this is a smart idea?”
Without waiting for his reply, she dragged him to the center of the dance floor and began to dance with him. They went on for hours, the two of them dancing and talking, and Andromeda didn’t seem to be getting tired.
Declan raised his eyebrows a bit at the new information, and didn't even have time to answer before he was dragged to the dance floor. His heart fluttered slightly; he was enamored by how straightforward Andromeda was. And even if it was only for tonight that they were able to hang out like this, he was having a great time.
"So that's how you could get me tickets," Declan laughed, "Visitor in town, supposed connection to the carnival… I should've put two and two together, huh?"
Declan had done a good deal of dancing growing up, at family gatherings. He wasn't the most physically active, but he was mostly able to keep up with Andromeda for a while. Yet, he was clearly dragging, especially as he sobered up. But the fact that she was just as stunning to him sober kept him confident in his decision to spend tonight with her over fruitlessly working on his paper.
"You're-" he stopped himself, no longer having the liquid courage left in his system to keep the words flowing.
He couldn't get the words out. Declan was a bit choked up, flustered. He was completely out of his element. Didn't date a lot. Didn't get to dance with a lot of women like this. Even then, it wasn't likely they would see each other much, or maybe never again.
Andromeda knew what he was going to say. She could see it in his facial expression. In the way he looked at her as he danced. She could’ve pretended that she hadn’t known what he was about to say, but she didn’t want to waste such an opportunity.
After one more song, she finally escaped from the dance floor and went with him to the opposite side of the bar. There were a few couples nearby, showing affection and drinking together, but she tried to ignore them as she put her focus on him.
“You’re quite the dancer, my love.” Her fingers brushed against his as she spoke. “I was worried there for a minute, but…”
"I wouldn't lie about that," Declan laughed, "I'd just make an even bigger fool of myself, you know."
His gaze wandered to her hand. His heart was thumping so hard against his chest, and he felt like he was fumbling (even though he wasn't- it was just his confidence that had changed).
"I've had a lot of fun tonight. Truly. It's been a while since I've done something like this," Declan admitted.
“I’ve never been able to get out much. Especially not with a man.” She laughed softly before she stepped closer. “I’ve only dated one other man, and it didn’t last for long.”
She reached up towards his face, her fingers tenderly brushing his cheek. She knew she should be headed back to the circus. Her trope had likely finished up setting camp, and they were likely expecting her to return by the morning. However, it was late, so she figured it was best to finish out her night out rather than leave early and never get to see him again.
"Me neither. I just work so much that I never found the time," Declan admitted, "I can also count my relationships on one hand."
As her hand reached his cheek, a shiver ran down Declan's spine. He pressed his hand over hers where it rested on his cheek, letting its warmth seep into his skin.
"Is it- is it alright if I kiss you?" Declan asked, leaning his face down a little bit.
Heat rose into his face. He was most definitely blushing; his pale skin was never any help in hiding it. But maybe the blue lighting was enough to cover it up. Declan worried she could feel the heat up in his cheek where her hand rested. He felt like he was burning.
Despite her attempt to keep her face in a neutral expression, she could feel her skin begin to warm up as he got closer to her.
“Please do,” she whispered. “I’ve been waiting for you to ask me all night.”
She stepped near him, placing her hands on his chest. It had been forever since she kissed anyone, and she had no idea if she was any good at it. But, despite her nervousness, she still wanted to kiss him, so she allowed herself to take the risk.
Declan's breath hitched a bit in surprise, but he stopped and gently leaned down to kiss her. It was a short kiss- only a couple of seconds- but he savored every moment of it. Declan took in Andromeda's warmth, her scent, the softness of her lips under his. It was everything he hoped.
"Sorry to have kept you waiting, then," he said after pulling his mouth away from hers.
She held him close as they kissed, her fingers lightly grazing his cheek. When they pulled back, she kept her arms around him, almost if she was afraid to let go. It had been so long since she left a man hold her like this or since she even shared a kiss with someone. And, even though it was so long ago, she knew the events that followed it weren’t good.
But it wouldn’t be like that again, right? It was different now. Declan was a one time thing. No one would figure out, and no one would try to hurt him.
“Don’t keep me waiting too long for the next one, alright?” she said softly.
"Next one?" Declan whispered.
He leaned his head down again and pressed a kiss to her forehead at first.
He was practically vibrating with excitement at the notion; it wasn't all that often that he had an opportunity like this. Yet, unlike Andromeda, he had no one he was afraid of finding them out. He was able to relax and have a good time- that is, when he wasn't worried about making a fool of himself.
“Yes, of course,” she said softly. “Well, that’s only if you want to kiss me again.”
She slipped her arms around his neck as he kissed her forehead and stole a glance around the room. She knew she was just being paranoid, but she didn’t want anyone from her circus trope catching her with him for both his safety and hers.
“One night together, and we’ve already kissed.” She laughed softly. “I don’t think it can get much better.”
"O-of course I do!" Declan replied, practically tripping over himself, "And I'll have you know I made that decision stone-cold sober. Mostly. So you know I mean it."
He kissed her again, this time waiting to see when she would choose to pull away. He had a hard time understanding exactly what she might want. If it was just kissing. If it was just for tonight. But they were both having a good time for now, so that was all that mattered, right?
She laughed at his earlier remark before returning the kiss, slipping his arms around his waist. She picked his hand up and held to her cheek for a while before she finally broke the kiss.
“I’ve never gotten to spend time with anyone like this,” she said. “I’m always going from place to place, putting on shows. It’s rare to find someone like you.”
She glanced back over at the people still dancing in the center of the bar as she held Declan’s hand. It felt wonderful to be with someone again, and she tried her best to keep her anxiety down. No one she knew was here. They were okay.