Chapter 1: Chapter One
“But they’re my hands! I need ‘em for the show.” Your ears perked at the conversation of the table next to you.
“You use them too much! If you get an infection that’s on you.” You tried your best to keep your attention on your textbook, but you couldn’t deny the tiny heartbreak that came with the desperation in the man’s voice.
“But, they’re all cut up and they’re stingin’ real bad. Please, can’t we spare just a couple bucks for a doctor?” You sighed, all chances of letting go of this were out the window. You shut your textbook and turned to the couple next to you. An older woman and a buff, young man (Who was wearing gloves to cover his cuts, no doubt) turned to you.
“Excuse me, I couldn’t help but overhear. But are you in need of a nurse? I recently finished nursing school and I’m taking a travel year, at the moment. I could do it, pro-bono if you need.” Your eyes glanced toward the young man, his expression was one of surprise and then he gave the woman a look. Before she could speak he responded,
“Well, it’s kinda a special case. Y’see, my hands are probably a lil’ different than what you see in the hospital.” You smiled and shook your head,
“Oh, believe me, living in the city will show me all I need to see. And, I have all of my equipment on me.” The man flashed you a brief smile before giving the older woman another look. A look of silent pleading. It was adorable. The woman sighed and reluctantly nodded.
“Fine. But I’m taking you up on the ‘free’ part. And I will ask that you examine the rest of my monsters.” You cocked your head to the side and wondered what she meant. But before you could ask, she left a few pennies on your table and moved to leave. The man followed her, holding out his elbow for you. You gladly placed your hand on his forearm as the two of you walked out.
“I’m Jimmy by the way, Jimmy Darling.” You grinned and replied,
“(Y/n), it’s nice to meet you Darlin.’” He let out a small chuckle and tipped his cap toward the woman from the diner, who was climbing into a cute, rustic car.
“Sorry about Elsa. She’s just a lil’ overprotective of us.”
“No one should be denied medical assistance due to price. That’s simply inhuman.” You felt his arm tense under your grasp.
“There’s somethin’ you should know, first. About the rest of us I mean.” You looked up at him as he brought you to a black bike. Oh, that’s not good. He shouldn’t be riding if his hands are wounded, you thought to yourself, but said nothing. You simply sat on the seat as he continued talking. “We’re not normal people. We’re… freaks.” His eyes went down to the ground, clearly ashamed of whatever he was talking about.
“Everyone’s a freak in their own way.” He shook his head, still averting your gaze.
“Nah, doll. It’s nothin’ like that. Like, my ma, she’s gotta beard. She’s a damn bearded lady.” He kicked at the grass under his foot and you sighed. You understood what he meant now. You were about to tell him your own story, but you decided to wait. You gently took his arm and placed it around your waist.
“C’mon. Lemme take a look for myself before I judge anyone.” You crossed your other leg over the edge of the bike and kicked up the stand. Jimmy gave you a look and you laughed at his confusion.
“I’m not letting you ride with your hands wounded.” Jimmy simply nodded in awe and sat back behind you. You reached back and pulled his arms around your waist, flashing him a wink. “Hold on tight, Darlin.’”
Chapter 2: Chapter Two
The troupe makes a new friend.
You arrived, following Jimmy’s instructions. It was a cozy-looking carnival, despite the terrifying head that served as an entrance. You hopped off the bike and Jimmy went to go park it. You casually walked through the park, your hands clasped behind your back. You saw many trailers and colorful tents, that you almost felt as if you were at a real carnival. If only.
“I’m sorry, miss. Customers aren’t allowed back here, you’re gonna have to come back later, honey.” You turned to see a stout woman, with tired eyes and a thin beard across her chin.
“Oh! You must be Jimmy’s mother, Mrs. Darling.” You smiled and she seemed taken aback before a realization settled on her.
“So yer’ one of Jimmy’s girls, huh?” You maintained your smile and shook your head. You weren’t surprised that Jimmy got around. It stung a little bit.
“No, I’m a nurse. I was asked to look at Jimmy’s hands for him. He said that they were cut up really badly. Do you need anything? I have my kit, right here.” You gestured to your large book bag that was slung across your side. She shrugged and held out her hand,
“Ethel Darling. Please, call me Ethel.” You shook it and followed her into a large trailer. “Bearded Lady” was painted on the side of it, along with an illustration of Ethel in her youth.
“You look lovely in this painting,” you commented, and Ethel gave you a polite smile. It was clear that she didn’t believe you.
“Yer very kind.” She sat down and gestured for you to sit across the table.
“So, what did you need assistance with?” you asked, your “Nurse Voice” kicking in.
“Well, my stomach’s been achin’ real bad lately. Been feelin’ weak and there are all these spots on my legs that weren’t there before. Maybe I’m just gettin’ old.” You nodded and thought back to the contents of your textbook.
“Are you having dark urine? Maybe easy bruising?” Ethel chuckled and replied,
“That last one’s more of a character issue hun.’ But, yes, recently.” You chewed on your lip before asking,
“Do you drink a lot?” Ethel’s eyes shifted.
“I used to. No more, though. I didn’t need Jimmy leadin’ that life.” You nodded, and pulled out a notebook and a pen. You wrote out “Liver Cirrhosis,” and ripped out the page.
“Okay, take this to your doctor and tell him that you need to be tested for ‘Liver Cirrhosis.’ I can’t diagnose you, but it would be a good idea to get tested.” Ethel gingerly took the paper and pocketed it.
“Sounds serious.” You couldn’t dismiss her concerns.
“I would just get tested.” Ethel nodded, and you stood up to go find Jimmy.
“Don’t tell him.” You paused at the door,
“I wouldn’t dream of it.”
You kept going through the trailers, coming among Suzi, a woman with no legs. You gave her some moisturizer and bandages for her hands. You also recommended that she invest in some heavy-duty gloves. You then met Ma Petite (whom you later realized was a woman) to whom you gave a small thing of calcium pills. Next, was Pepper and Salt, who were just happy to talk to you. They were so sweet. You went through the camp, meeting Amazon Eve (to whom you gave a knee brace for her left leg), Paul (he was given an ice pack for the pain in his wrists), and Meep. Meep was a special guy, but you gave him a spare smoothie straw to chew on instead of chicken heads. You had made it throughout almost the entire carnival without finding Jimmy anywhere. You were starting to think that you had been abandoned.
“(Y/n)!” You turned around to see Jimmy running up to you, his gloves still on. “Sorry, I couldn’t find you and I was askin’ around.” He paused. “You didn’t see nothin.’ Did ‘ya?” He glanced down to the ground and back up to you.
“Well, I’ve met Suzi, Ma Petite, Pepper, Salt, Eve, Paul and Meep. Oh! And I spoke to your mother! She’s lovely.” Jimmy’s jaw was dropped halfway through your list.
“Wait, and you’re still here?” You laughed and began to drag him to a nearby table by his arm.
“Of course I am. Now, let’s get to your hands.” As soon as you said that, Jimmy flinched, pulling his arm away from you. Your smile faltered and you hastily put your hands behind your back. Scared to hurt him, again. “I’m sorry, I should have asked before I just manhandled you like that.” Jimmy shook his head, not being able to find the right words.
“N-no! No, I-uh,” he cleared his throat, “I just, don’t wanna scare you.” You nodded, and sat down at one of the tables. He awkwardly sat down across from you, removing his cap. You couldn’t help but melt a little when you saw that little curl on top of his head.
“So, may I see them? Your hands?” He sighed and held up his gloved hands. You tentatively placed your hands on the glove of his right hand, tugging it down in its entirety. You gasped when you saw it.
“I know, they’re weird but-”
“They’re beautiful,” you whispered, taking his hand in yours. The fingers were elongated and conjoined, but held a certain elegance in them. Jimmy didn’t say a word. And you didn’t notice, but he was holding his breath. You turned his palm over in your hand, examining the calluses, blisters and cuts. You beamed and muttered (more to yourself than Jimmy) under your breath, “You work too hard.” Jimmy let out a breathy chuckle, and you felt him relax in your hand.
“How do you think anything gets done around here?” You smiled up at him, and then began to work on his hand. You warned him before you sanitized each wound, putting on alcohol, snipping at loose skin and wrapping his palm up. You sealed the last wrap and then placed a gentle kiss on the back of his hand. Jimmy’s face flushed red and he had a goofy grin on his face. He was at a total loss for words.
“Next one, please.” Jimmy more than happily complied, pulling his left glove off eagerly. You laughed and did the same to his other hand. Ending the process with a kiss. “All better.” Jimmy chuckled and stared at you, and you stared right back. You hated the stupid table in between the two of you. He opened his mouth to say something, stuttering out a few words before,
“Jimmy! Where are ya!?” Jimmy jumped and sighed, muttering a few curse words and stood up.
“I’m real sorry, I gotta go answer that. I-I’ll give you a ride home. Just wait a sec!” He scrambled toward the nearest tent, leaving you chuckling at his antics.
“What a sweetheart,” you mused, and began to pack up your things. It was getting dark, and you still had to catch up with your reading for the day. Just because you were on a break didn’t mean that you had to forget your teachings. You pulled your bag up and saw Elsa walking toward you. You waved and walked up to meet her. “Hello, Elsa. Did you need something?” She gave you a false smile, and let out a drag from her cigarette. You couldn’t help but cringe at the smell. You were tempted to give her a lecture on the dangers of smoking, but you knew better.
“I simply wanted to thank you. I was skeptical at first, but you truly have a good heart.” You smiled and thanked her in return.
“You do, as well. You are so kind to take in all of these wonderful souls.” Elsa’s eyes narrowed, scanning you for some ounce of insincerity. But she seemed to find nothing.
“Please, it’s the least I can do.” Unsatisfied, she left you standing there. You sighed and went to find Jimmy. You knew that he had asked you to wait there, but you were also tempted by the idea of seeing some of the others. You found Ma Petite and Eve, eating some potatoes and greens under a tent. You quickly sat down and began chatting. Ma Petite was so precious and Eve was such a powerful woman that you couldn’t help but adore both. You were soon joined by Salt and Pepper, then Meep and Suzi, and soon the entire tent was filled.
Jimmy frantically ran through the grounds, trying to find the pretty nurse who patched him back up. It wasn’t safe for a woman to be out late at night, especially not such a pretty woman. He heard laughter and cheering, which only irritated him. He ran toward the rest of them, and was about to scream at them. Until he saw who they were laughing with.
She was sitting there and laughing right there with them; her eyes were lit up with delight. It wasn’t a mocking laughter, or that of cruelty. It was pure joy. She locked eyes with him, and gestured for him to come join the lot of them. Jimmy’s face matched hers, and he quickly sat down right next to her and just enjoyed this moment. This one good moment.
“You really didn’t have to take me home. I could have walked.” Jimmy waved a gloved hand as you dismounted the bike,
“Nah, I ain’t lettin’ such a cute girl like yourself walk so far at night. Especially around here.” You couldn’t help but be touched by his chivalry.
“Where I come from no one cares what happens to a woman unless it’s their woman.” Jimmy rolled his eyes and kicked the stand down.
“Maybe it’s a good thing you left, then.” You grinned and began to walk toward your building. You were staying at the local motel; it was cheap and quiet enough for you to study. You could live without the bedbugs and finding new hair -that definitely wasn’t yours- on your pillow at night, but it was comfy. You were tempted to invite him in, but you didn’t want to give him the wrong idea. You were no doubt falling for him, but you were still old-fashioned. Your mother always told you: Never let a man see anything, unless he’s got a wedding ring.
“Well, thank you for the ride. I’ll be sure to stop by the next time someone gets injured.” Jimmy grinned down at you and subtly placed his hands behind his back.
“Who knows? I get hurt all the time. Heck, I might even get hurt tomorrow, on my way to the diner downtown for dinner.” You felt your face grow warm and replied,
“What time do you think you’ll get hurt? I’ll have to put it in my calendar.”
“Maybe 5:30? I can even pick you up after the accident.” You laughed and nodded,
“I’ll be right here, waiting for you.” Your heart began to race as you stood on your toes to try and reach his cheek. However, Jimmy pulled away you ended up landing back on your heels with your entire face beet-red. You stared at the ground and began to spew out an apology, “I-I’m sorry, I wasn’t thinking and I-” You were interrupted when Jimmy placed a swift kiss to your cheek.
“Sorry, I’d rather be the man to make a first move.” You glanced up at him and let out a small chuckle.
“Good night,” he whispered, a small smile etched on his face. You waved and replied,
“Good night to you, too, Darlin.’”
Chapter 3: Chapter Three
Jimmy goes on a date.
Three hours. You had been getting ready for three hours.
You groaned as you tried to fix that one part of your hair that wasn’t staying down. Your clock read 5:23 and you nearly screamed. You finally tamped it down, and then immediately began to double-check every aspect of your look: Your makeup? Okay. Your dress? Well it’s not like you could afford anything fancy. Your hair? That piece went back up again. You very much wanted to cry. You simply held it down with a thin bobby pin and hoped that it would stay down. You slipped on your shoes and headed down the two flights of stairs of the motel. You hopped down the last one and tried to make it appear as if you weren’t rushing after 3 hours of preparation. You pushed the door open, relieved that he hadn’t arrived yet. You sighed and took a moment to smooth out your dress and-
“‘Sup doll.” You turned to the right of the door and saw Jimmy leaning against the wall of the building. He was wearing a black, leather jacket and he still had that adorable cap on his head.
“Oh! Hi, Jimmy!” You walked up to him and he offered you a small peck to the cheek. “You’re early, what time did you get here? I hope you didn’t wait too long.” He smiled down at you and crossed his hands behind his back.
“I’ve been waiting here all day, I secretly never left,” he jokingly whispered in a low voice. You laughed and took his outstretched elbow in your hand. He walked you down all three steps to his bike. You sat behind him and wrapped your arms around him. You reveled at his soft belly. He drove down to the diner and you could feel him chuckle whenever he accelerated and you let out a scream. He parked the bike at the side, and hopped off to lend you his arm. You definitely noticed that he never let you hold his hand.
The two of you walked in, and sat at the very back of the diner. You didn’t question why; you knew why. The waitress serving the two of you gave a smile to Jimmy, who was clearly a regular.
“So, hotshot, what’cha doin’ round here today?” You glanced up at her, and found that she never even turned to your direction.
“Well I’m on a date with this lovely lady if that answers your question.” Jimmy gestured to you, a wide grin on his face. She glanced toward you coldly, and then pulled out a notepad to take your order. Once she left, Jimmy looked back at you with that smile on his face.
“So, tell me about yourself. Besides the fact that you’re a livin’ piece of goodness.” Your smile matched his and you replied,
“Well, I grew up in New York. I was orphaned for most of my life, but I got by.” Jimmy nodded, and you noted the look in his eye as you spoke. “I went to nursing school at a local community college, did my two years and now I’m taking a travel year.” He still gave you that look.
“Why here? You coulda gone anywhere in the world and you chose the swamps? The actual swamps?” You let out a small laugh,
“I’ve been stopping by small towns. I love the charm of them, don’t you?” Jimmy’s eyes darkened and shrugged,
“Not entirely.” You nodded in understanding. You knew that you were lucky to be born as you were.
“Well, I find that the most charming aspect of a small town is the type of people I get to meet.” Jimmy’s face lit up once more.
“You are somethin’ else.” The waitress returned with your food and drinks; a black coffee and steak for Jimmy and a strawberry milkshake with waffles for yourself.
“I hope that that’s a good thing,” you replied with a sip to your milkshake.
“It definitely is.” Jimmy then looked around the room before slipping off his glove and adding some creamer into his coffee. He moved to put the glove back on when you reached to stop him.
“You don’t have to keep them on when you’re eating. I’m sure it makes things difficult.” He looked at you in shock and then back toward the diner. You could tell he was conflicted on showing his hands in public, so you quickly backpedaled. “O-Or if it makes you more comfortable than that’s fine.” Jimmy looked at you and smiled.
“Nah, I want people to see the amazing handiwork that you did on ‘em.” You flushed slightly and he placed his gloves on the table. The bandages were still in place, albeit slightly dirtied from work and sweat. “You still think they’re beautiful?” he asked in a soft voice. You took his hand in his and kissed it again, leaving a light lipstick print.
“Gorgeous.” The waitress then brought out your food, and Jimmy quickly pulled his hand from yours and crossed his arms to cover them. You frowned but thanked her for the food. Jimmy noticed your change in demeanor and pulled his arms apart. The waitress gasped and you felt your face grow red at her behavior. You shot her a glare and she scurried off. You huffed and added, “The nerve of some people. I just can’t stand for it.” Jimmy scoffed and gave you a small smile as you began to eat.
Once the two of you had finished, Jimmy drove the two of you up to a small lake, right across from the freakshow.
“It ain’t much, but I really wanted to impress you, tonight.” You laughed as he covered your eyes with one of his hands. The other hand was placed on your waist as he led you down a hill and your shoes were met with sand.
“Okay, stop. And open ‘em!” Your eyes widened and you beamed at the sight before you. He had prepared a small picnic table by the shore. There was a lantern and two bottles of cola on it. “I couldn’t afford any wine and it was the most I could get for a-” You interrupted him by taking both of his hands in yours and looking up at him in adoration.
“I love it. No one’s ever done something like this for me before. Ever!” Jimmy grinned at you and said,
“Then that’s a dang shame, doll.” He lead you to the table, sitting across from you.
“Can I ask you something?” he asked, and you nodded politely, “Why are you so good to us? Not just to me, but to all of ‘em. I heard about what you did, how you helped everyone yesterday. Why?” You smiled sadly; it was truly heartbreaking to see someone so confused by kindness.
“Well, like I said before, I did two years as a ‘resident’ up in the City. Specifically, I worked in a local hospital for poor folks. I helped people who lived on the street, single mothers, and of course, those who had special needs.” You thought back to the abuse they’d been victim to. “I bore witness to some of the most broken souls in the city. I’ve seen true evil in the way they’re treated by society. Those are the real monsters in the world.” Jimmy observed the way that your hands tightened as you spoke, so he delicately placed his hand over your own. You broke out of your reminiscence and smiled at him, placing another hand on his. “But I also met some of the most amazing people in New York City in that hospital.” You took Jimmy’s hand in yours and gently ran your fingers over the bandages. “I was able to bring just a little bit of joy to some wonderful souls in need.”
“Sounds like you really made an impact on those people.” You sighed and looked up at Jimmy,
“And that’s where I went wrong. I met a little girl named Abigail, she had these lovely grey eyes. She was born with trisomy 21, however, and had been abandoned by her parents at only 23 months,” Jimmy began to chew on his lip, “She was found on the street with a fever and was nearly starved. But with no money, none of the doctors or nurses were willing to help her, and they left her to die. So, I decided to help her. I gave her food, fluids and I nursed her the best that I could. I was so stupid.”
“Hey, that ain’t too bad. You did all you could do.” You shook your head.
“No, she died anyway. And I got caught providing her with hospital materials without authorization. Another doctor started spreading a rumor that my neglect is what killed her. I left the city before they could arrest me or take away my license. You wanna know why I really love small towns?” Jimmy didn’t say anything. “No one here has a database large enough to look my name up on file.” A minute of silence passed over the two of you. You continued to fiddle and massage Jimmy’s hands, as you waited for him to pass his judgement.
“Can I ask you one more question?” His tone was gentle. Your eyes flicked up to him, but your hands remained on his. “Do you think you did anything wrong?” You were slightly taken aback at the question, but answered nonetheless.
“No. I believe that she deserved all of the care that she could get.” Jimmy held both of your hands in his and chuckled,
“Then that’s all you need. You are not a criminal, and you are a fantastic nurse. And no one can say anything that would make it untrue.” He brought your hands up and kissed them, similarly to how you did just earlier. You laughed and thanked him. His brown eyes stared into yours, and you felt truly defenseless in that moment. His eyes flicked down to your lips and then back up to your eyes. You found yourself leaning toward him, and felt his hand cradling your cheek, rubbing his thumb against your cheekbone. You swallowed heavily and gave in as his lips met yours.
If you could describe the kiss in one word, it would be “gentle.” It wasn’t engulfed in passion, nor did you feel that your body was in heat. It was simply delicate and loving. Jimmy’s lips were slightly chapped and he smelled predominantly of cologne and wood.
It was nice.
When you pulled back, you couldn’t prevent the grin on your face and neither could Jimmy.
“You’re not just an amazing nurse are ya, sweetheart?” You snickered and placed your hand over the one he held against your cheek.
“And you’re not just a pretty face.” He chuckled and leaned forward again,
“You think I’m pretty, doll?” You nodded and elicited another laugh from him.
“I do think that you’re the prettiest man this side of the Mississippi.”
“You’re too good for this world. Y’know that?” You grinned up at him and stood on your toes and kissed him again.
“And the world isn’t good enough for you.” You replied, and Jimmy could only smile in return.
Chapter 4: Chapter Four
Dot and Bette come into the troupe.
You and Jimmy began officially courting soon after that date. You were constantly visiting the carnival, both as a nurse and to visit Jimmy. You never stayed to watch the show. However, one day you arrived to see a new face. Or faces, for that matter. Jimmy noticed you walk into the tent and ran over to you excitedly.
“(Y/n)! Meet the new recruits!” He said, pecking your cheek. He place a hand at your waist and gestured to the two, “This is Dot,” the right head, “And Bette,” the second head. You held out your hand and shook Dot’s, then switched hands to shake Bette’s.
“Hello, I’m (Y/n). I’m Jimmy’s girlfriend, so I tend to hang around the area.” Bette smiled brightly at you, but Dot seemed to be more guarded.
“She’s the best nurse in town if you need anythin.’ She’s stitched me up more times than I can count.” You smiled bashfully and nodded,
“If you need anything, I’ll be right there.”
“You must be really kind to work here.” Bette complimented, and you laughed at her sweet nature.
“It’s truly nothing. This place will make anyone feel like family.” Dot scoffed and you noticed Jimmy tighten his grip on your waist. You placed a gentle hand on his chest and said, “Dot, if you would like, I could show you two around the area. The downtown is really nice.” Dot’s eyes narrowed at you,
“If you want to use us as an advertisement, that is.” Your smile faltered, but you continued,
“Well, would you rather I buy you something from town, then? Like a housewarming gift?” Bette began to say something but Dot gave her a look.
“A gift would be getting us out of here.” Dot muttered, and walked away toward the lake. Bette waved goodbye. Jimmy sighed and sat down at a table, sitting you down next to him.
“I’m sorry about her. Their ma just died and the creep that attacked ‘em got Bette in the chest.” You nodded bitterly.
“They’ve been through so much.” Jimmy hummed and kissed the top of your head.
“You are a total gem, aren’t ya?” You laughed and laid your head on his shoulder.
“You comin’ to the show, tonight? Some dude bought out the house, but I could sneak you in.” You bit your lip and played with his fingers. It always calmed him down.
“Honey, you know why I don’t go to your shows.” You hated the idea of people watching your friends and love for entertainment. It was cruel and completely repugnant.
“But it’s only two people, and I’m sure it would help the twins to see a friendly face.” You pressed a kiss against his fingers.
“I’m sorry, babe. But I can’t bear to watch two people mock you for fun. Plus, I have night shift, tonight.” Jimmy sighed, causing you to rise and fall with him.
“I gotta run, we’ve gotta prep for the show tonight.” You felt terrible about letting him leave while he was down, but you had to get to work as well. He stood up first, offering you a hand to help you up. Even when he was disappointed he was such a gentleman.
“Okay, I’ll see you tomorrow?” He nodded and pressed a quick kiss to your cheek without saying a word. He sauntered away with his hands in his pockets and you could only wave goodbye to the rest of the troupe.
Hopefully he’d be feeling better tomorrow.
Chapter 5: Chapter Five
Jimmy runs into some trouble with the police.
“Hey, Ethel have you seen Jimmy?” Ethel looked up from the pot she was cooking in.
“Nah, but I’d be a lil’ careful, today. The police were in earlier and gave him a hard time.” You nodded and continued your search. You found that everyone seemed to be in a good mood, today. Suzi and Paul were already drinking, which you strongly recommended against.
“Ah, don’t worry love. Tonight’s a celebration!” Paul said, pouring you a glass.
“What are you celebrating?” you asked, declining the glass. Suzi gave Paul a look and she replied,
“You should go ask Jimmy. He might wanna tell you the good news himself.” You nodded and waved goodbye to the pair. You stopped by Ma Petite’s tent to say hello and gave her some candy from town.
“(Y/n)!” You stepped out of the small tent and saw Jimmy strolling up to you. He hugged you as you jogged up to him.
“Hey! I heard that everyone’s celebrating tonight. Do you want to postpone our date?” He shook his head and began to lead you to the carousel seat that had fallen.
“Nah, but I gotta talk to you.” You looked at him and noticed the crease from his furrowed eyebrows.
“Is this about the coppers?” He sighed and sat down, pulling you into his lap with your legs crossed over his left thigh.
“Somethin’ happened, and I think you should know.” You were beginning to grow more concerned and wrapped your arms around his neck.
“What? Is anybody hurt?” Jimmy averted your gaze and rested his hand on your hip.
“Last night, this copper came in and started threatenin’ the twins. He was shoutin’ and callin’ us freaks. Next thing I knew, I… I‘d killed him. Cut him with my razor.” Your heart stopped for a moment.
“You… You what?” You brought your arms down and moved to stand up, but Jimmy placed his other hand on your stomach.
“I’m sorry, but I couldn’t stop myself! He was sayin’ he was gonna throw ‘em in jail, what else could I do!?” You forcefully shoved his hands away and scrambled out of his lap.
“You could have not murdered him!” Jimmy pulled himself up and moved toward you.
“You don’t understand, he would’ve taken ‘em! We can’t afford anymore losses!” You shook your head and covered your face with your hands.
“Jimmy… I can’t believe you. I-I have to leave.” You threw your hands down and began to march away.
“(Y/n), wait!” Jimmy grabbed your arm and turned you so that you were facing him. But his face fell when he saw you crying. “Baby… I’m sorry. I know that what I did was wrong, but please, please don’t leave me.” He held you close and cradled you in his arms. You sobbed for a few moments before pushing against his chest. His hands remained on your back.
“I just need some time. If you could just give me that, please.” He nodded and brought you in for another hug. He placed a gentle kiss on your head.
“I’ll wait as long as you need.”
It had been almost a week since you had been down to the freakshow. Jimmy hadn’t stopped by the motel, either. You missed him terribly, but you still weren’t sure on how to react or even speak to him again.
You sat at the front desk. You were a nurse at a local clinic, they didn’t question your license, so you got the job relatively quickly. A book was open before you, but you couldn’t answer a single question about the topic if someone asked. You received a call from the front desk phone and you answered it slowly.
“Jupiter Local Clinic, how may I help you?” There was some static before Eve’s voice came through.
“Is this Nurse (Y/n)?” You looked up from your book.
“Yes? Is something wrong?”
“You need to come down here. The police took Meep and Jimmy’s taking it real hard.” She didn’t need to say another word.
By the time you arrived, the sun was down and all of the lights were lit on the carousel. But you didn’t have any time to appreciate it. You were greeted by Paul, who wore a solemn expression.
“Where is he?” Paul pointed to the head tent. As you ran in you realized that you were still in your nurse’s uniform.
“Jimmy? Baby, are you in here?” You heard a groan from the stage and you saw the figure of your boyfriend. Your heart broke in two as you got closer. His eyes were both blackened and he had cuts all over his face. You climbed up onto the stage and saw the nearly-empty liquor bottle next to him. You pulled him up and he gave you a drunken stare.
“(Y/n)? What’re you doin’ here? I thought you hated me.” He took another swig of whatever alcohol was in the bottle.
“Oh, sugar. What happened?” His eyes darkened.
“They took Meep. An’ it’s my fault.”
“Why is it your fault, honey?” Jimmy grunted and pulled your hands up weakly. You sighed and placed your hands on his neck. He chuckled,
“Your hands’re real warm.” You subtly pulled the bottle toward yourself, but Jimmy noticed.
“Hey, why’re you takin’ that away?” He gave you a pout, but you put it away anyways.
“What’s wrong, Jimmy?” Jimmy looked down at his lap and replied,
“I just wanted Dell to go away. I even put that stupid copper’s badge in his trailer.” You knew where this was going. “But he caught me. And now Meep’s gone. He didn’t do nothing!” Jimmy leaned forward and rested his head on your shoulder. You leaned into him and rubbed his back gently.
“I’m so sorry, baby. I am so sorry.” He cried and clung to you. You could only hold him close and lay kisses on his head and shoulder. The two of you remained like that for a while.
His tears stopped at some point, and the two of you shifted so that Jimmy’s head rested on your lap.
You began to sing to him just as your mother did. You didn’t sing much, but you hoped that it would bring Jimmy some peace.
“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine,
You make me happy when skies are grey.
You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you
So please don’t take my sunshine away.”
You felt Jimmy relax and his breathing became even again.
“(Y/n)?” You hummed in response, running your hand through his curls.
“Are you done bein’ mad at me? B’cause I really miss you. Isn’t Meep bein’ taken away enough?” Your hand stopped and you soon began to cry. You cried silently, trying to keep Jimmy from noticing.
“Of course, babe. I won’t leave you. Ever again.” Jimmy grinned, his eyes closed.
“That’s good.” You nodded, wiping away at stray tears. He soon began to snore, and you took in his miserable appearance once more. His bruised face was still so painful to look at, and his hands were tightly gripping your dress. You ran your hands along his shoulder, finding more bruising. You sniffled and leaned down to kiss his cheek.
“My poor baby.”
Chapter 6: Chapter Six
You stayed the night with Jimmy. You just sat there, all night. You kept awake for most of the night, and you collapsed after a few hours. You awoke in Jimmy’s trailer. You’d frequented his space before, but never without him present. You were covered by a thin blanket, and your shoes had been placed on the floor of the trailer. You smiled in your sleepy drunkenness, before sobering as you remembered the events of last night. You quickly pulled your shoes on and left the trailer.
It was bound to be mid-day, but no one was in sight. You wandered the grounds, trying to find anyone, really. You couldn’t help but get nervous at the silence. You found Elsa in her tent, smoking at maybe one in the afternoon.
“Elsa? Where is everyone?” She let out a smoky breath, filling the tent with the strong scent of opium.
“Where?” Elsa gave you a glazed look and pointed to one of the walls of her tent.
“Across the lake. I’m sure you’ll see them. It wasn’t too big of a coffin.” You took your leave. You could, in fact, see them. They were already filling the grave. Paul noticed you first, and in turn notified Jimmy. You gave him a small wave and he only took a few long strides before you were in his arms.
“I’m really sorry.” You whispered, nuzzling into the crook of his neck. He only shook his head and pulled you against him.
“No, no. I’m sorry, doll. I got drunk and that’s all my fault.” You kissed his neck and said,
“You know that’s not why I’m sorry.” Jimmy didn’t respond, he only hugged you tighter.
Chapter 7: Chapter Seven
Maggie meets the troupe.
Maggie. You weren’t sure about how you felt about her at first. But now, you were definitely sure that you didn’t like her. You had gone to welcome her, which was the first time that you’d spoken to her.
“Maggie! Hi, I’m (Y/n). I just wanted to welcome to the show.” Maggie gave you a polite smile, but it didn’t reach her eyes.
“You’re the nurse?” You nodded and pulled out your bag.
“I made some muffins for the troupe, would you like one?” You handed her a wrapped blueberry muffin, she glanced toward it and then back to you. She gave you another fake smile and turned it down.
“I’m sorry, I’m trying to watch my weight. I’m trying to look good for a certain someone.” You awkwardly put the muffin in bag in and tried to continue the conversation,
“Who? I’m sure you could win over any man in town.” She chuckled and flicked her eyes behind you, prompting you to turn around to see Jimmy lifting some crates into a nearby tent. A realization dawned on you and you tried to diffuse the situation as quietly as possible
“Oh, I’m sorry, I guess you weren’t aware. I’m Jimmy’s girlfriend.” She looked back at you,
“No, I’m aware.”
The memory was enough to break your concentration from your studies. You sighed and closed your textbook, prompting Jimmy to break out of his snoring. The two of you had been resting in the fallen carousel seat after lunch, and Jimmy had rightly fallen asleep. You grinned at his surprise and reached up to kiss his cheek.
“Good morning, sleepyhead.” He chuckled and wrapped an arm around you.
“It is if yer here.” You laughed and tossed your textbook to the ground. You adjusted so that you were straddling him and wrapped your arms around his neck. You smiled down at him and laid a few kisses down onto his face. You savored this moment; drinking in every crinkle behind his eye and the little curl that bounced on his forehead. He grinned up at you with that dopey look in his eye and said, “You have made me the happiest man alive.” However, you couldn’t help but feel hesitant due to Maggie’s comments.
“Really? You mean it?” Jimmy nodded vigorously at your apprehension, concern lacing his gaze. He began to rub his hands against your waist.
“Of course! There’s no one else in the world that I would rather be with.” You bit your lip and looked into his eyes, knowing your next question would make you seem stupid.
“Even Maggie?” Jimmy looked confused for a second, before bursting out in laughter and pulling you to him. You began to pout and pressed your forehead to his, “I’m serious.” He smiled and pressed his lips against your nose.
“I know, you are, sweet cheeks.” But he chuckled despite this. “And I can swear to you that I won’t even look in her direction if you don’t want me to.” You pulled back and cradled his face with your hands.
“I would never ask for such a thing.” He grinned up at you and planted a kiss to your cheek.
“I know. And that’s why I’ll always be yours.” You swooned and gently leaned down to kiss him. Your lips moved so in sync it was almost as if you were molded for each other. Your tongue ran over his lips. He still tasted of the sandwich you’d made him earlier. His arms pulled you in so that all of your weight was leaning on his chest. You broke apart, panting and he smiled up at you.
“What?” you laughed, and he cocked his head to the side.
“I just can’t believe that I’ve found someone as gorgeous as you in my life.”
Chapter 8: Chapter Eight
“Y’know, I think it’s kinda cute that you were jealous. You want me to tell everyone in Jupiter that I’m taken so that no one can touch me? Hm?” You rolled your eyes as the two of you walked back to the camp, hand-in-hand.
“No, I think that I need to keep you by my side 24-7 so that I can watch you and those hands of yours.” You replied, snarkily, prompting Jimmy to laugh and move his hand to your hip.
“I’m all yours, doll. You don’t have to worry about nothing.” You hummed and looked up at the sky. It was getting dark out and the police were getting stricter on the curfew.
“Hey, I gotta get going soon.” Jimmy sighed and nodded; he always hated having to say goodbye to you. “Don’t worry, I’m sure the curfew will be lifted, soon enough. Besides, that means that I get be excited to see you for a whole nother day.” Jimmy chuckled and leaned down to pepper your neck with kisses. You cackled and attempted to escape from his hold but you were defenseless against his attack. He seceded and dipped you so that he could lean in and nuzzle your cheek.
“How are you so precious every hour of the day?” You were about to respond, when a voice interrupted the two of you.
“Jimmy! Is that you!?” You turned to see Maggie walking toward you and your smile immediately fell. Jimmy noticed and gave you a small chuckle. He pulled you back up and held you close to his chest, nodding to Maggie.
“Yeah, whaddya need?” She smiled at him and placed her hands on his bicep, which he gently shook off.
“I need a ride into town to use the phone. It’s really important and I wanted to leave before sundown.” Jimmy looked out toward the sun to try and estimate the time. He shook his head,
“Nah, I gotta get (Y/n) into town before the curfew kicks in. You can wait until tomorrow can’t ya?” You felt a certain swell of pride at the fact that you took priority, but you couldn’t ignore the disappointment in Maggie’s eyes.
“But I need to make a call to my grandmother to let her know that I got here okay.” You looked at Jimmy and silently relented.
“It’s fine, I can just stay the night and leave early in the morning. You don’t mind if I stay over do you?” You already knew the answer to that question. Jimmy sighed and released your waist.
“Alright, let’s get a move on, Maggie.” Maggie grinned and moved to grab his arm but he pulled away quickly, giving you a wink from behind. You laughed and walked away to the top tent to help with dinner.
“And I meant it!” The girls all howled with laughter as Desiree shouted. You laughed so hard that you were holding your sides from laughter. You’d only just met Desiree but you loved her. She was so vivacious and fun; you couldn’t help but gravitate toward her.
“Miss Desiree, you and Dell must make one loud couple, dont’cha?” Ethel commented with a chuckle. You weren’t going to lie, you were sort of happy that the guys all turned in early. It was nice to have just the girls together.
“So what do you all think of the new girl? Maggie?” Eve asked, passing down a flask.
“I don’t trust her,” Suzi shouted, receiving some nodding and affirmative words.
“She seems a lil’ too friendly with my Jimmy and no one else.” Ethel shouted, taking the flask and passing it.
“Well, I don’t think he’s ‘your’ Jimmy anymore, now is he?” Eve jeered, reaching over to give you a high five. You bashfully reciprocated it with a red face.
“She and her beau are real cute, ain’t they?” Suzi said with a grin, causing a holler from the group. You laughed and attempted to cover your blush, only causing more jeering.
“Awww! She’s blushing!” You had to shove away some poking and only continued to laugh.
“So whaddyou think of Ms. Fortune Teller?” Desiree asked, biting into a fry. You shrugged,
“I was a little wary of her at first, but Jimmy reassured me that he only had eyes for me.” The girls all whooped and whistled at that.
“Ms. (L/n), layin’ down the law.” You laughed and replied,
“No, it’s not that. She just made me a bit uncomfortable.”
“Wait, then why did you let him take her into town? Alone?” Eve asked and you smiled in response,
“I trust him.” There was a collective coo from all of the women around the table.
“You are just too cute” Desiree exclaimed, reaching over the table to pinch your cheek.
“When are y’all gonna get hitched? I wanna see some grandbabies down here!” Ethel shouted, taking a swig from the collective flask.
“Oh, well we’re taking it slow. I mean, we haven’t even said ‘I love you’ yet.” There were some gasps of horror and you raised your eyebrows. “I-Is that wrong? Am I asking too much of him?” Ethel shook her head,
“Nah, we just never seen ‘im take his time before. He used to have a record to see how fast he could bring a girl to-” Ethel was thankfully cut off by the uproarious laughter throughout the tent. Your face had turned completely red and you attempted to stutter out a response,
“Oh! I-I never even thought to… Uh,” The girls all calmed down and looked at you with an amused, loving eye.
“Aw, sugar. You don’t gotta worry bout a thing. I have never seen my boy this attached to anyone ever. An’ I seen some stuff.” Ethel said with a nod. You nodded, but still couldn’t erase the blush from your face.
“Hmph, what I wouldn’t kill to have sweet summer love again.” Desiree commented jokingly, relighting the mood.
“Well, let’s talk about how I definitely saw Paul sneaking outta Elsa’s-”
“Elsa’s what, dear?” Suzi froze as the ringleader, herself, strutted into the room.
“Nothing, we were just comparin’ numbers. I’m sure you do well for yourself, Ms. Elsa.” Desiree said with a raised eyebrow. Elsa scoffed and walked toward you.
“Do any of you realize what time it is? Jimmy and the new girl haven’t returned and it’s hours past curfew.” Your eyes widened and you stood abruptly. He wouldn’t lie to you, would he?
“You don’t think he left, do you?” Eve asked, glancing toward you. You knew of Jimmy’s dreams to leave the show and lead a normal life in the suburbs. The two of you talked about it constantly.
But he always talked about leaving with you.
“He has to be in danger, there’s no way he would just leave.” You stated, and the rest of the girls nodded.
“Let’s go find our lobster boy!” Desiree shouted, lifting the flask. The rest of the tent cheered and Elsa rolled her eyes.
“No. The curfew is strict, especially with your kind. You would be arrested on the spot." You sighed and moved to leave.
“Well if you won’t, I will.” Eve reached over and grabbed your wrist.
“No, (Y/n), if you go out and get arrested you’ll be of no help to anyone.” You felt tears threatening to spill, but you tried to remain steely.
“But he could be in trouble and I can’t lose him!” You felt a hand on your shoulder and you heard Ethel’s voice.
“Honey, I raised that boy with my own two hands. Whatever is thrown at ‘im he can handle.” You nodded, but couldn’t stop the tears from falling. You furiously rubbed at your eyes and then quickly found the women all hugging you in support.
“We’ll wait with you all night if you need. We’ll go searching for him as soon as the sun rises.” You nodded and turned to face everyone.
“Th-Thank you. I’m sorry that I’m not as strong as you, or that I’m so useless. But thank you so much for helping me.” You said, resting your head on Ethel’s shoulder and sniffling as you felt the warm embrace of your wonderful family.
Chapter 9: Chapter Nine
True to their word, the entire troupe was up at sunrise to begin the search for Jimmy. And Maggie. Your search didn’t last long, though. It didn’t even start, to be honest. He drove down the dirt road with Maggie around 7 as everyone was eating breakfast. You sighed in relief and ran up to the bike.
Maggie dismounted and gave you a look, but remained as you ran into Jimmy’s arms. You hugged him so tightly that you ignored her with ease. You breathed in his scent and sighed; he smelled of sweat, forest and exhaustion. You wanted to break down into tears right there.
“What’s wrong, dollface? Yer huggin’ me like I just came back from the dead.” You pulled away and lightly slapped his arm.
“Don’t joke about that! You really scared me!” Your voice crack made you appear less angry than you would have liked, but you didn’t care. Jimmy sighed and pulled you closer again.
“I’m sorry, doll. It’s just that-”
“He’s a hero. So why don’t you show him some respect?” You turned to Maggie, who had her arms crossed over her chest.
“What are you talking about?” Elsa asked, her eyes still angry.
“He found the killer. He saved the kids, he saved me; he saved everybody. He even got the curfew lifted. So maybe show him some appreciation.” You chewed on your lip and looked down out of guilt. “I gotta go to the bathroom. See ya later, hero.” She said, winking at Jimmy, effectively making you feel worse. You separated from him and held your hands behind your back.
“I’m sorry, Jimmy. I’ll go make you a plate. You must be hungry.” Jimmy made a move to say something but Elsa started scolding him. Ma Petite smiled at you as you pulled out a plate.
“You must be so happy that Jimmy is back!” she said, and you gave her a small grin.
“I am.” You began to pile on his favorites, potatoes and sausage, before the sound of tires alerted you. You picked up Ma Petite and followed the troupe to the entrance where a dozen families stood in front of the sign.
“What do you want?” Elsa demanded,
“Are you Jimmy?” one of the fathers asked.
“Who wants to know?” Jimmy replied, defensively.
“We wanted to thank you. You saved my son.” You smiled at the realization of what everyone was here for. Why they were holding brownies and casseroles; they were thanking your beau. You grinned as the town began to greet and converse with the troupe. You set down Ma Petite to talk to some of the children. She was so happy. You laughed, but the moment was soon disturbed by Maggie.
“Like it? I told all of the reporters about what an amazing man Jimmy is. He’s really amazing, isn’t he?” You nodded politely, trying not to let her ruin your mood.
“You’re very kind. We all appreciate the gesture.” You both stood there in silence. Jimmy flashed you a huge grin and you returned it. But so did Maggie. “Can I ask you something?” She turned to you, “Why are you here? I doubt that you’re a real fortune teller, I’ve read many books on the tricks of illusionists. I’m assuming that you’re a scam artist by trade, considering your observational skills.” She visibly tensed. “So, what’s your goal?” She gave you a fake smile and replied,
“It’s simple. I’m going to leave here with one of these freaks, and now, I’m going to leave with your little loverboy. Or by the end of this, my boyfriend.” With that, she sauntered off to Jimmy, rubbing his shoulder and shooting you a look. You could only stand there and smile.
“(Y/n)? Hey, the townspeople are all gone, but we got a full house tonight!” Jimmy said excitedly as he ran to you reading on a picnic table. You looked up at his elated face and couldn’t stop the smile that grew on your own. He was contagious.
“I’m so happy for you baby!” You turned around and stood to give him a kiss.
“Also, we got all of this free food! I’m starvin’!” You laughed as he pulled you to one of the tables covered in treats. You picked up a muffin, blueberry was your favorite, and sat down next to him. You were about to take a bite when you remembered your previous encounter with Maggie. You looked to Jimmy, who held the widest smile on his face as he ate. You didn’t want to spoil his mood, so you simply cuddled against him and wrapped your arms around his stomach.
“You’re my hero, you know that?” Jimmy laughed (his mouth was still full) and your doubt was temporarily washed away from just his face. He turned to you and pulled you into his lap, causing you to chuckle and snuggle into his chest.
“If I’m a hero, than you’re my superpower.” You planted a kiss on his cheek your eyes filled with adoration. He didn’t know just how much more you needed him. You decided to take a bite of your muffin and he looked toward you with a little grin on his face. “Blueberry’s my favorite too.”
Chapter 10: Chapter Ten
Some insecurities are revealed.
You watched the show for the first time that night.
You were in absolutely no position to deny him this night, and for once people were showing up to celebrate your friends instead of mock them. You stood in the back, where you could see everything without being noticed by the townspeople. You only really paid attention to Jimmy, though. When he saw you, his smile grew wider and he seemed more energetic than ever. You knew that he got nervous before shows, but you had given him a good luck kiss before he went on. You smiled as the audience cheered for him and he bowed proudly. You were so proud of your friends as the show continued, and you were nearly in tears by the end of it.
You waited patiently for the audience to filter out, and then waited for Jimmy to help you with the cleanup. You began without him, folding chairs and setting them up in the stands. You hummed to yourself and were lost in your own thoughts before a pair of arms wrapped around your waist and lifted you off of the ground. You shrieked in surprise before you heard Jimmy’s laughter.
“Jimmy! Let me down!” You laughed as he set you down. He spun you around and kissed you enthusiastically. Jimmy placed his hands on your waist, pulling your hips into him. You hummed and felt his lips smile against yours. You broke apart and he beamed down on you.
“Thanks so much, doll.” You chuckled,
“For what?” He grinned and moved his hands to cradle your face.
“You have been with me since day one, and you’ve never left me. Even when I got drunk, or killed that cop. You always believed in me. Thank you.” You had never seen him like this. His candidacy was overwhelming and you finally felt yourself crying. Crap. “Hey, hey what’s wrong? Did I say something wrong?” You shook your head and covered your eyes.
“No… I’m fine. You can go and celebrate. Don’t let me ruin it.” Jimmy lead you to the stands and sat down, gently bringing you to sit on his lap. Your legs draped over his and his hands were rubbing your back.
“Sweetheart, there’s no way I’m leavin’ you here, even if the President were here to award me.” You nodded and tried to gain control of your emotions. You wiped at your tears and leaned onto Jimmy’s chest.
“I-I’m just so sorry. I was so worried all night, and I got to thinking about us and how much you mean to me, when I realized that... That I was letting my doubts get to me. And then I remembered that you were with Maggie and she just really got to me. I’m so sorry that I ever thought that! And then when you got back I yelled at you and I just…” You sighed and Jimmy rested his chin on your head.
“Is that what it is? Dollface, I’m sorry for this. You were worried and I just brushed your feelings aside as if they meant nothing. I’m so sorry I scared ya. I’ll never do it again.” You shook your head and shifted so that you were looking up at him.
“No, no, that’s not all of it. The worst part is I never… I never told you how much I love you, and I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to.” Jimmy’s face broke out into a smile.
“You love me?” You nodded shyly, and Jimmy pulled you up so that you were straddling his hips.
“I love you, too. Jeez, pumpkin I’ve been in love with you since the day we met.” You grinned down at him.
“You mean it?” He chuckled and pressed his hands to our back, bringing you flush against him.
“I love you so much I can’t even begin to describe it. I wake up with you on my mind and I fall asleep to dreams of you. I love everything about you; your smile, your hair and even your laugh. I fall in love with you all over again, every single day.” You felt yourself begin to cry again and Jimmy chuckled at you.
“It’s not funny,” you whimpered and Jimmy began to kiss your cheeks under your eyes.
“You are the light of my life, babydoll. You’re the reason I live and breathe. And I ain’t goin’ nowhere.” That only made you cry harder.
Chapter 11: Chapter Eleven
Ethel passes and Jimmy gets into a fight.
“She’s gone… (Y/n), she’s gone.” You cradled Jimmy in your arms, comforting him and trying your hardest not to cry.
Ethel had gone to the doctor, gotten tested, and then subsequently ended her life. Without even leaving a note. Jimmy was absolutely broken. You hadn’t left his side since he found out. The two of you had remained in the caravan for the past day and night. It was the second evening now. There was a certain cycle that had begun itself in that time. Jimmy would cry, you would comfort him, he would let you feed him or take care of him, then he would sleep and you would begin crying. Currently, it was Jimmy’s turn to cry.
“I know, I know. But baby, the funeral’s soon. We have to get ready to go. I think they want you to say something like you always do.” Jimmy rested his head against your chest and sighed. “You wanna get up babe?” He sniffled and nodded. You slowly got up and helped him up. You handed him his best leather jacket and he pulled a small book off the shelf. It was a poetry book. He flipped through a few pages before tearing out one of them.
“You know, you could’ve just asked me to write it down for you.” You chastised, tugging the book out of his hand. He nodded again.
“I’m sorry.” You sighed and wrapped your arms around him from behind. You grabbed a hold of his larger hands and held them.
“You don’t have to be sorry for anything, babe.”
You knew that it wasn’t long before Jimmy got to the alcohol. Dell, his father apparently, had a stash that he let Jimmy have access to. The worst idea you’d ever heard of in your opinion. Being with Jimmy came with its hardships, and the hardest of all of them was his drinking.
You waited in your caravan, reading the poetry book that Jimmy had. You heard some grumbling and then there was the creak of an open door. You sighed and moved to help him. He stumbled through the small space toward you. He had tears running down his face and a bottle in his hand.
“Jimmy, baby, you have to stop doing this.” You took the bottle from his hands and he knew not to protest.
“Doin’ what?” you took his hand and began leading him to the bed that the two of you normally shared.
“You can’t keep drinking your heart out. It’s unhealthy.” Jimmy grumbled but still let you sit him down on the bed.
“But drinkin’ helps me forget.” You nodded and took his shoes off, grunting with effort as you pulled them up onto the bed.
“I know that you need your time, but you can’t keep living as if you have nothing to live for.” You gently pushed him down and draped a nearby blanket over him. “It really hurts me to see you like this.” Jimmy’s eyes were beginning to close, but they sprung open at that. He sat up and watched you pull a chair up to sit next to you. “Go to sleep, honey. I have a bucket in case you need to throw up.” You opened your book back up and patiently waited for him to settle down.
“Dumplin,’ I’m sorry that you been workin’ so hard ‘cause of me. I want to make it up to you, c’mere.” You sighed and tried to focus on your reading. You groaned as he wrapped an arm around your waist. “I know how I can make you feel better.” You heard his voice lower as he whispered into your ear. He reeked of alcohol.
“Jimmy, please. You’re drunk.” He whined.
“C’mon, I don’t bite. Ask any girl in town, these claws are magical.” Your hair stood on end.
“What does that mean?” you asked, turning to face him. Jimmy didn’t seem to realize what he had just admitted to and kept going.
“Y’know, them ‘Tupperware Parties.’ Whaddya think I got all of my cash from?” You stood up from your seat.
“Jimmy… You’ve been... prostituting yourself?” Jimmy’s eyes widened as you said it out loud.
“N-No! No, sweetheart it’s not what you think!” You were already walking out. “I did it for us!” You turned on your heel.
“For us!? You think that I wanted you to have sex with other women? Jimmy if you needed cash, I could’ve just gone back to working at the clinic! I can’t believe you would just,” your voice cracked, “Throw everything away for some petty cash.” Jimmy saw your tears and moved toward you, but you took another step back.
“Hey, dollface it was never anything serious. It’s not like I even did anything! They like my hands, not whatever’s down there.” You were going to vomit.
“You used your hands!? The very hands that I love and kiss everyday!?” Jimmy groaned and tried to reach for your shoulder but you flinched away. “Don’t touch me!” You saw the hurt in Jimmy’s eyes, but you couldn’t bear to come in contact with every woman in Jupiter.
A small thought invaded your mind. “Did you ever touch Maggie like that?” you whispered and Jimmy huffed.
“Are you still on this? I told you, I don’t want nothin’ to do with her. Am I a liar?”
“Well you told me that I was the only one and now I find out that you’ve been whoring yourself out to bored housewives!” You were livid, and now you couldn’t erase the image of him on top of her. His hand in between her legs… You collapsed onto the ground, sobbing in pure anguish.
“Look, baby, I’m sorry. Really, I am but-”
“Is it because of me?” you asked, interrupting him. “Is it because I asked you to wait for me? Because if that was too big of a request than I apologize.” Jimmy opened his mouth to say something, but then turned around to throw up in the bucket. You sniffled and wiped away your tears. “I’m going to Desiree’s. Please don’t try to talk to me.” You stood up and left the trailer without another word.
Chapter 12: Chapter Twelve
Jimmy is still drunk
“He’s drunk onstage again!” you sighed as Paul shouted from inside the tent. You bit your lip and tried to keep yourself from running to him.
Jimmy wasn’t getting any better. You still took care of him, considering you were the stand-by nurse. You had to sit with him when he was hungover and make sure that he was always eating and drinking water. But you didn’t live with him anymore. Instead, you stayed in Ethel’s old caravan with Desiree.
“(Y/n), darling, could you please? He only listens to you nowadays.” Paul asked,
“Okay. Want me to bring him back to his trailer? Or sober him up?” Paul shrugged,
“Either will do.” You grabbed a towel and a bucket before you stood up. You walked down to the entrance of the tent, face-to-face with a drunk Jimmy.
“Hey, dollface. You done bein’ mad at me, yet?” You didn’t respond, you only wrapped his arm around your shoulder and ripped his drink from his hand. “Why don’t you evah talk to me anymore, huh? Whenever yer here you just ignore me. You don’t love me anymore, do ya?” Like you hadn’t heard that one before. You brought him to the lake and took off his shoes. “Whaddya doin’?” You didn’t reply, you only sat him down and buried his feet in the cold water. Jimmy’s spine sat straight up and he hissed. You chuckled and pulled off his shirt.
“This is what you get for being wasted at ten in the morning.” You said before filling the bucket with more water and dumping it on his back. He groaned and threw his head down. You repeated his process until he was effectively soaked. “Are you awake now?” He nodded, knowing better than to say anything otherwise. You gently wrapped him in the towel and then pulled his feet out. You moved to leave when a cold hand gripped your wrist.
“(Y/n), can we just talk about this? Please?”
“Like I said, before: I’m not talking to you until you’re sober. Completely sober.” You shook his hand off and heard him stumble up. You weren’t slowing down for him.
Chapter 13: Chapter Thirteen
Jimmy sobers up.
You hummed to yourself as you got ready for bed. You were in one of Jimmy’s looser shirts, something that you had maybe stolen when you left. Desiree was out with Angus at the moment, so you decided to catch up on some reading. You had checked out a book on alcohol and its effects on the brain. It had nothing to do with Jimmy, at all. Right as you climbed into bed, a knock came at the door. You sighed and stood up to answer. You gasped as Jimmy appeared, freshly shaved and wearing his nice leather jacket. He held up a small bouquet of flowers in his hand.
“‘Sup, dollface.” You laughed in disbelief and stepped down to embrace him. He wrapped his arms around you and chuckled to himself. “C’mon, let’s get you dressed, I have a surprise.” You grinned up at him,
“What is it?”
“Well then it wouldn’t be a surprise, now would it?” You quickly put on a jacket and slipped up a skirt. You didn’t change out of Jimmy’s shirt. You placed the flowers on your bed.
Jimmy was equally as excited as he lead you down to the lake; where the two of you had your first date. This time around, there was a cloth covering the table, two candles were lighting it and there was an actual bottle of wine. It was beautiful.
“What is this?” you whispered, and Jimmy wrapped his arms around you.
“I wanted to say I’m sorry.” You sighed in bliss and turned around to wrap your arms around his neck. “I’ve been so terrible, and I took advantage of ya. I lied and I kept drinkin’ and I just wanted to show you how much I love you. I even stopped goin’ to those parties. We’ve lost so many people these days; Ma, Salty, Ma Petite.” He paused as he remembered the last person.
“Meep?” you whispered,
“Yeah, and Meep. But my point is,” he stared down into your eyes, “We’ve lost so many, that I can’t bear to lose one more person.” You might begin to cry. “Especially, not the woman that I love more than anyone in this entire world.” Oh, you were definitely crying. “Can you please forgive me?” He moved a hand up to your cheek and wiped away at a stray tear. You smiled up at him with nothing but love in your heart.
“Oh, Jimmy. I forgave you a long time ago. I just couldn’t let you know that when you were stumbling drunk.” He chuckled and moved his hand back down to your back. “I love you, Jimmy. I love you all the way to the moon.” Jimmy grinned at you and he blinked back tears to no avail.
“Then I love you all the way to the moon and back.” with that, he leaned down and captured your lips in a kiss. He slowly dipped you and you laughed into it. You felt his tongue part your lips and yours met his eagerly. You kissed him back and tried to pull him as close to yourself as you could. It was a perfect moment. When the two of you parted, you were certain that there were stars in your eyes based on Jimmy’s grin. “You’re so cute it’s not even fair.” You laughed and kissed his nose.
“Not fair to who?” He pulled you back up and gave you a small eskimo kiss.
“The entire damn world.” The two of you settled at the picnic table, on the same side. You opted not to open the wine. It was a good idea in theory, but considering that Jimmy was now a borderline-alcoholic, you knew better. Instead, the two of you sat there, just sitting in each other’s presence. You were sitting in your (now-established) favorite position to cuddle; your legs were draped across his and his arms were holding onto your hip as he rested his chin on top of your head.
“I never realized how much perfume one woman could have. Desiree has at least a thousand bottles of every scent known to man.” Jimmy chuckled and you could feel his chest vibrate underneath you.
“Did you at least try any on?”
“Oh of course, I was wearing a new scent everyday like lipstick. Don’t tell Desiree, though.”
“So that’s why every time I was drunk I remember smelling a mix of lilies and sex.” You gasped and playfully hit his stomach.
“Mr. Jimmy Darling!” He grinned and pecked your cheek.
“Speakin’ of, I got you something.” You looked up at him,
“Darlin’ you didn’t have to get me anything. If it was expensive I might make you return it.” Jimmy reached into his pocket,
“Nah, didn’t cost me a cent. I’ve been waiting to give it to you for a while.” He pulled out a tiny box and held it before you.
“I’d open it, but I think I’d drop it.” You scoffed and plucked the box out of his hands. You opened the box and your jaw dropped. A thin, silver ring with a white stone was inside.
“Jimmy, what is this?” Jimmy grinned down at your reaction,
“It was my ma’s ring. She never wore it after Dell left, but she kept it locked in our safe for forever. She told me to give it to the woman I wanted to spend my life with.” You looked up with wide eyes at what he was saying. Jimmy helped you up and got down on one knee. He took your hand in his and pressed it to his lips. His face was riddled with nervousness. “Marry me? We could buy out the show and travel with it. You’d get to see the world and-”
“Yes! Yes, I will! Of course!” Jimmy’s face broke out in a grin and stood up, sweeping you up in his arms. You pulled him to you so tightly you weren’t even sure that he could breathe. He clearly didn’t care as he lifted you up and spun you around. You laughed loudly as he did so, before he set you down and immediately pressed his lips to yours. When the two of you broke apart you couldn’t contain your laughter. “Well, Mr. Darling, I do believe you’re going to get married,” you joked in a haughty accent,
“Why, Mrs. Darling, I am. I’m getting married to the most beautiful woman in the world.” You grinned and pressed your forehead to his.
“You know, I think we forgot about something,” you whispered, kissing his nose.
“What did we forget?” he asked,
“The ring.” Jimmy immediately let you go so that he could grab the box that you had left on the table. You happily took it from him and placed it on your left hand. “I kind of wish that you’d told me about this beforehand so that I could get my nails done.” Jimmy chuckled and kissed your forehead.
“C’mon, I told everyone I was gonna ask and I can’t leave ‘em waiting.” He blew out the candles and wrapped an arm around your waist, tugging you closer to him as you began to walk. The two of you walked in a tranquil silence and you noted that the diamond shone in the moonlight.
“I was really scared, Jimmy.” You could feel his hold on you tighten. “I really thought that I’d lost you, too.” Jimmy stopped and held your chin with his hand and tilted you up to look at him.
“I’m real sorry, sweetheart. I’m never gonna put you through somethin’ like that again. I swear. You are the greatest thing to ever happen to me, and I ain’t lettin’ anything get in the way of that. I’m gonna keep you happy for the rest of our lives.” You brought his hand up to your cheek and kissed it.
“The only thing that could make me happy is for you to be right by my side.”
“And I’m not leavin’ anytime soon.” You smiled and leaned up to kiss him. That is, before you heard the sirens.
Chapter 14: Chapter Fourteen
Jimmy was arrested.
“Honey, you’ve gotta get up. You can’t do anything for him when you’re in bed all day.” Desiree said, rubbing her hand against your back. You were clutching Jimmy’s poetry book. Sometimes you read it to him when he was hungover.
“I’m not a lawyer an’ I can’t afford one. So I can’t do anything at all,” you muttered. “I couldn’t even protect him.”
“No! No! You can’t take him! Please! He’s innocent!” you shrieked as Dell held you back. You tried to break out of his grip but that wasn’t happening.
“(Y/n), I’ll be okay! Just wait for me!” Jimmy shouted, but the officer shoved his head down before he could say anything else.
“Dell! Let go of me!” They were driving away. “Let me go… Please.” They were already gone.
Desiree sighed and reluctantly got up. You heard her open the door to your trailer,
“Y’know, we are low on some vegetables. Maybe you could drop into town? Pick up some carrots for me?” You nodded, too exhausted to hear the hint in her tone.
“Sure… Do you need anything else? I’ll make a list.” Desiree scoffed and replied,
“A visit to the county jailhouse?” Your eyes flew open and you sat up. Desiree rolled her eyes and left while muttering, “Maybe if she used her brain a lil’ more she’d be a real doctor.”
You anxiously waited in the lobby as the secretary walked back with an officer in tow.
“This one wants to see Lobster Boy,” the secretary said and he pointed a finger at you, “Says she’s his fiancé." The officer cocked his head and you hastily followed him.
“I can’t understand how he has a visitor. You’re in love with a real psychopath, sweetheart.” You kept your mouth shut and simply nodded. “Darling! You gotta visitor.” He pulled you up to a door with metal bars for a window. You waited for the officer to open the door, but instead he stood next to it. You shook your head and rushed up to the tiny window. Jimmy gave you an exasperated smile.
“Dollface, it’s so good to see you.” You nodded and tried your best to blink back tears.
“It’s good to see you, too. I’m relieved that you have a private cell.” Jimmy scoffed,
“It’s cause they think I’m too violent for that.” You sighed and reached through the bars to cradle his face in your hands. He placed his larger hand over yours and he smiled.
“So, you like the ring?” You smiled back and nodded.
“It’s beautiful. I love it.”
“No touching!” You huffed and reluctantly pulled away.
“When’s the trial?” you asked, and Jimmy shrugged.
“Not sure. They have to get me a defender or somethin.’”
“You have to keep holding onto hope. I know you’re innocent.” He shook his head,
“But what if I’m not? I was drunk, I was delusional; I don’t even remember it.” His voice broke.
“No. I know that you’re innocent. Because I’ve been with you when you’re drunk. You may get angry and you may have a mouth on you, but you never laid a hand on me. Never even raise it.” Jimmy inhaled heavily and nodded,
“You’re right. You’re right. I gotta stay positive.” Jimmy reached a hand out, and you grasped at his fingers.
“Just remember, when you get out, we have a wedding to plan.”
Chapter 15: Chapter Fifteen
Jimmy's hands are revealed.
“You’re back?” The secretary raised his eyebrow at you. You crossed your arms against your chest.
“Yes, I am. I am here to see Jimmy Darling.” He rolled his eyes and looked back down at his sudoku book.
“Well, he ain’t here. He’s at the hospital, now.” You froze.
“What? Why wasn’t I made aware of this? Which hospital? Why?” He didn’t even look up.
“Local Hospital. He was throwing up or something.” You groaned and quickly made your way down to the hospital. Hopefully, it was only from the stress. Or a virus. It shouldn’t be anything serious. But you still couldn’t stop the nervous pit in your stomach. Thankfully, the hospital was only a few miles away and you could ride the bike there.
“Hello, I’m here to see a patient. Jimmy Darling?” The nurse at the front looked you over.
“You’re here to see the serial killer?” You nodded and flashed your license,
“I’m a specialist on his condition.” She shrugged,
“Alright. I don’t know why he’d need you now, though.” You followed her down the hall and she left you at a door. “Here. Don’t blame me if you get shanked.” You huffed at her lack of professionalism. You heard groaning and hastily opened the door.
“Jimmy? Sorry babe I didn’t realize-” You halted when you took him in. His eyes had heavy bags under them and there was a sheen of sweat over his forehead. But the most jarring factor was his hands.
They were gone.
Your heart stopped and you felt tears fall down your cheeks. You dropped your bag and rushed to his side. You covered your mouth to stop yourself from vomiting.
“Hey, hey, doll. I’m okay.” Jimmy tried to reassure you, but his raspy voice didn’t convince you of anything. You shook your head and kept crying. There were no words to the horror that befell you. “Spencer sold my hands to get me a good lawyer. He said I needed it for the retainer.” You couldn’t believe what you were hearing. You fell down to the chair by his bed.
“Jimmy… Why would you do this to yourself? To your beautiful hands?” you whispered, rubbing frantically at your eyes.
“No, no, he’s gonna get me outta here. And Dell was tellin’ me about some prosthetics that they have nowadays. It’s gonna be okay.” You stood up and faced the wall. You couldn’t even look at them. Your head was spinning. Your wedding. He wouldn’t even be able to wear the ring. Nor would he be able to hold your child. You let out another sob and turned toward him.
“Baby, if you needed the money I… What about…?” You were spiraling. How would he get a job? Where would you be able to afford his care? How would he live?
“Hey, I’m gonna be okay.” As if he was reading your mind, Jimmy called out. “We’re gonna get through this.”
You took in a few deep breaths. You looked at your fiancé. He had been torn apart. You could tell that he was dying on the inside.
Your mind stopped.
All of that other stuff could wait. Right now, he needed you. You sniffled and wiped away the majority of your tears. You sat back down. Jimmy looked at you, equally broken. You pushed his little curl back up and rubbed his head soothingly. “Do you need anything?” He nodded,
“If you have any painkillers. Or water.” You looked back and grabbed your bag from off of the ground. You pulled out a water bottle and some ibuprofen. You popped them in his mouth and held the water bottle up to his lips. You gave him a good amount of water and tried your hardest not to drown him.
“Thanks, doll.” You swallowed back tears and began to go into full nurse mode. You requested for some equipment and began your work. You began by simply cleaning him off. You took the washcloth and wiped at his forehead, his neck and his chest. You knew how much pain he was in and attempted to distract him.
“So Desiree made a roast today. It was good.” Jimmy nodded, “She said she wants to be a housewife with Angus. They’re so cute together.” You stopped talking and put the washcloth on the nightstand. You pulled on a pair of gloves and said “I’m going to change your bandages and sanitize the wound, okay?” Jimmy weakly tried to protest,
“Doll, you don’t have to do that.” You shook your head and pulled out the sanitizing agent.
“No. It’s clear that this low-grade hospital hasn’t changed them regularly enough.” And so, you began to unwrap them. You may have sounded resilient, but the way that he groaned and tried to muffle his cries broke your heart into pieces. You shushed him and tried to keep him occupied with the sound of you. “You’re okay. You’re doing so well, sweetheart.” He settled down a little bit.
You, however, were less prepared.
When you removed the last bit of bandage, you cried out at the crude amputation. You held the back of your forearm against your mouth, biting it tightly to keep from crying more. You tried your best to hold your gloved hand as far away as you could.
The stitches were odd and far apart, and the jagged edge of where his arm ended was uneven. There was no way that it was done with any care for Jimmy’s wellbeing.
“Please, don’t cry. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry,” You let out a choked sob and felt bile up in your throat. You bent over and took in a few steady breaths. “Please, dollface, I’m so sorry.” You breathed in again.
“No. I’m fine. Don’t worry about me.” He nodded, but his expression said otherwise. “This is going to sting.”
“I trust you.” You pulled out the sanitizing agent and began working on his arm again.
This wasn’t the first time you’d done this sort of work. You’d met a surprising amount of fresh amputees in the city. You knew to be quick, but thorough, and never rough. But this time was different.
You were blinking back tears as he howled in pain underneath you. You tried your hardest to work quickly and keep him distracted.
“Hey, darling, you’re doing so good. I’m almost done. Please… Hold on.” By the time you were done, Jimmy wasn’t the only one crying. As you began to wrap them up again, Jimmy only stared at you with tear-stained eyes. You wrapped his arm up with another clean bandage and moved to do the other hand. When you finished, you gathered up the material and stood to throw it away.
“You’re not leavin’ are ya?” You turned back around and gave him a sad smile.
“No, I’ll be right back.” You stopped by the biohazard disposal bin and then went to the bathroom to wash your hands. Where you subsequently broke down and cried.
Chapter 16: Chapter Sixteen
Maggie gets told off.
“Hey, Clara Barton,” You woke up, laying down on one of the picnic tables. Your head shot up and you saw Desiree giving you a pitiful look.
“What time is it?” You rubbed your eyes, and then remembered the previous night. Dell brought Jimmy back. “Where’s Jimmy!?” You stood up and Desiree stopped you.
“He’s fine. But I ain’t telling you where he is until you eat. I swear, you haven’t taken a single bite in the past week.” You shook your head,
“N-No, I have to get over there. He needs food and I’m sure he needs to change his bandages!” Desiree put a hand on your shoulder.
“Elsa and Maggie have already gone down there to-”
“Maggie!? The monster who took his hands!?” Desiree groaned and called for Eve, who handed you an apple and a blueberry muffin.
“Just go. You can eat on the way there. They’re down at the barn.” You nodded and broke out in a sprint.
“You’re forgetting something!” Desiree shouted, and you turned around to see her holding your bag. The one with all of your nursing supplies. You grabbed it and ran once more. By the time you reached the barn, you were out of breath, but you could hear Jimmy from outside.
“I CAN’T EVEN TAKE A PISS BY MYSELF! WHERE’S (Y/N)!? I WANT HER!” You began to pick up the pace but Elsa shouted back instead,
“She’s exhausted! She’s been working herself to death trying to take care of you! Why don’t you take a second to think of her!” You slowed down to a walk at that. You stood at the door, still listening in. “She loves you so much! And you know that she will love you with or without your hands, but she won’t if you keep putting yourself first! You are a grown man. Act like it.” You didn’t mind. Jimmy always came first, in your eyes. Even when you first started courting, he always did. With all of his suffering, how could you demand prioritization? “Now, Maggie will change your bandages,” at that, you immediately walked in.
Jimmy locked eyes with you and you were by his side in an instant.
“Hey, how are you feeling? Are you hungry? Do you need water?” He opened his mouth to speak before Elsa scoffed,
“He was in the middle of pouting. If you can feed him, you’ll be the real freak here.”
“Lay off of her, Elsa.” Jimmy said, and she narrowed her eyes at him. You smiled politely at Elsa, but then you noticed Maggie.
“With all due respect, Ms. Elsa, what is she doing here?” Maggie bit her lip and Elsa replied,
“She was the only one of us who was able to change his wrappings. But, if you’re here, then I believe that you’ll be doing it.” You nodded and turned, assuming she would leave. Instead, she started talking.
“I can still do it if you need me to.” You inhaled and looked at her.
“And do tell me why I should let you touch the man I love?” Your voice was laced with bitterness and you heard Jimmy grunt in agreement.
“W-Well, you’ve been working really hard and I’m sure you need a break.” You gently rubbed Jimmy’s shoulder before standing up.
“I appreciate your belated sentiment. But I’m sure that neither myself nor my fiancé want you anywhere near us.”
“But, I want to make it up to you! I’m going to help!” She stared back at you, which only made you more furious. You let out a light breath and glanced Jimmy.
“Hey, dumpling, do you want this harpy to help you?” Jimmy scoffed and looked to the opposite end of the room.
“I don’t even want to look at her.” Satisfied, you looked back at her. But she was still there. You did admire her persistence.
“Why don’t we take this outside? Jimmy, I’ll be right back.” Jimmy nodded and you gently placed your hand on her back, leading her out of the barn. Elsa had left well before your catfight. You lowered your voice so that Jimmy couldn’t hear, “Look here, Maggie. All you’ve done since you arrived is try and attack my relationship. But the fact that you and your friend went as far as to kill my family is absolutely revolting. Now you’ll make do and leave here before I do something that I regret.” Maggie shook her head and replied,
“No. I love him. I may not have always shown it, but I have loved him since the beginning. And I will do whatever it takes to make it up to him.” You scoffed, almost in awe at her stupidity.
“You know how you can make it up to him? You can leave. And don’t come back. Ever.” You then turned around and walked into the barn, slamming the door closed. Your anger instantly dissipated as you saw Jimmy. He looked miserable. You sat back down and ran a hand through his hair. He smiled up at you tiredly.
“I still think you’re really cute when you’re all possessive like that.” You smirked and kissed his forehead.
“Do you think I was too mean?” Jimmy gave you a gentle look.
“Darlin,’ you couldn’t be mean if it hit you in the face.” You snorted and glanced at the bowl of uneaten soup. You picked it up and gave him a look.
“Are you gonna eat for me?” Jimmy sighed and replied,
“How can I say no to you?”
“Hey, if you want, I have a blueberry muffin that we can share.” As you began to feed him, you noticed a small smile on his lips.
“What’re you smiling about?” you asked, dipping the spoon again.
“Nothin.’ I just don’t think I say ‘I love you’ enough.” You laughed and kept feeding him.
“You’re on a lot of painkillers to be talking about love so early in the morning.”
“I’m serious,” he said before swallowing, “You are amazing. And I love you so much.” You smiled and leaned down to kiss him.
“I love you more. Now come on, let’s keep eating.” Jimmy shook his head,
“No, I need you to know that I love you more than anything. Please don’t ever forget that.” You looked in his eyes and saw something new. A flicker of fear. You sighed and set the bowl down.
“Is this because of what Elsa said?” He leaned back and mumbled a “yes.” You brought your hand up to his cheek. “Jimmy Darling, I will never leave you. Through thick and thin, I will be right here, loving you with all of my heart. I will stand by your side and defend you, and I will always be your shoulder to cry on. No matter what.” You had never said anything with such honesty in your life. “Besides, this will be the hardest part of our lives. And once we get through it, it’s just smooth sailing from here on out.” Jimmy nodded and you wiped away his tears.
“I love you so much, I can’t even put it into words.” Jimmy replied, his voice thick with emotion. “I wanna be the man that you deserve, and I wanna make you happy. I don’t want you to regret choosin’ me. Elsa said she knew a guy who would get me some new hands. And once I get ‘em, I’m gonna use them to make you the happiest woman on earth.” You laughed and felt your own tears begin to fall.
“Like I always say: the only way for me to be that happy is for you to be by my side.” Jimmy smiled at you and nuzzled into your hand. His smile only grew when he saw the ring.
“Soon, we’re going to be Mr. and Mrs. Darling. Isn’t that exciting?” You grinned and nodded,
“I feel like a child on Christmas Eve.” You two just sat like that for a while, in total silence, just staring into each other’s eyes. Unfortunately, he still needed to eat.
“Now, if you really love me, you’ll start eating.”
Chapter 17: Chapter Seventeen
Maggie wants to talk.
Jimmy woke up from the stinging in his hands. Or, where they used to be. He groaned and looked up to see his fiancé, asleep on his lap. He sighed and noticed a lipstick print on his bandage, right on his forearm. His lips turned up into a small smile as he looked down at her. He silently lifted his arm up and grazed her cheek, being careful as not to wake her.
She had heavy bags under her eyes and her hair was trussed. She clearly hadn’t been taking care of herself. She was always by his side, day in, day out. She took care of him with more love than anyone in his life, Ethel included. She read to him to take his mind off of the pain, and she gossiped with him about what was going on in the world around him. She was too good for him.
He stayed there like that, just staring at her and taking in her features.
“Knock, knock.” He glanced up at the door and scowled as he saw Maggie.
“I just want to talk.”
“Well I don’t want to listen. Now get out.” She sighed and took a step closer.
“Just give me two minutes. Then I’ll leave you and never come back.” Jimmy thought to himself for a moment. That didn’t seem too bad of an offer.
“If you wake her, I’ll kill you.” He looked back down, knowing full well he wasn’t going to be listening. Maggie nodded and began her speech.
“Okay, I wanted to talk to you about her.” Jimmy looked up to see her gaze on the sleeping woman.
“What about her?” He made sure that his tone was dangerous, warning her.
“Look at her, she’s miserable. Everyday she works so hard to take care of you and you know that you’ll never be able to give her the life she deserves.” He pushed a strand of hair out of her face. “Don’t you want her to have a normal life? If you really love her, you’ll let her have that.” Jimmy scoffed,
“You think I don’t know that? You don’t think that I know how much pain this life is gonna cost her? How many nights I’ve spent, wondering whether or not I should break if off? I’ve had more doubts in this relationship than I can count.” He saw the twinkle in her eye as he spoke.
“So do it. Leave her so that she can lead a better life,” Jimmy was silent for a moment.
“But you know what? For every doubt I’ve had, she’s always been right there to wash ‘em all away. She has told me time and time again that I make her happy. And that’s all I need. As long as she’s happy, I couldn’t give two cents about anything else. Or anyone. Leave. It’s been two minutes.” Maggie huffed and walked closer but Jimmy glared at her intensely.
“If you take one more step toward her I will kill you where you stand.”
“I just hope that you understand what you’re doing. You’re ruining her life and you know it. And by the time she’s left you, I’ll be long gone.” Jimmy sneered,
“Yeah, I’ll go visit you in hell. Now do good on your word and don’t come back.” Maggie stared him down before finally leaving. Jimmy sighed and brushed another hand against the sleeping girl’s face. “Ya catch all that, doll?” She hesitantly opened her eyes and nodded. The two of you sat there in silence.
“Did you really mean that? What you said to her?” Jimmy chuckled and replied,
“You really think I’d make all that up?” She smiled and wiped away at coming tears. “Every day that you stay with me, I just remember how much I love you. If it weren’t for you I’d probably just kill myself.” She lightly hit his shoulder,
“Don’t joke about that!” He only grinned,
“You love me. Don’tcha?” She laughed and he pushed himself to the side of the bed. “C’mon, you gotta get some sleep.” She shook her head,
“No, I could damage the bandages or infect your arms.” Jimmy groaned and gave her a pout. He didn’t even have to say anything. She immediately gave in. She climbed up gently and nervously laid herself down on her side and looked at him. He groaned as he placed his arm on his stomach and she instantly sat up.
“Dollface, I’m fine. Lay your head back down.” She hesitantly rested her head back down and delicately placed her hand over his chest. She could feel the beating of his heart, and it brought her enough comfort to slowly lull her back to sleep.
Chapter 18: Chapter Eighteen
Jimmy has new hands.
You walked into the barn with your nose in your book, so you weren’t entirely fazed when Jimmy wasn’t in bed.
“Babe, I’m back. I decided to try out some new bandages that were on sale.” You felt a hand wrap around your waist and you instinctively nuzzled into his neck.
“Anything else new?” You marked your page and closed the book, placing it on the table.
“No, but I was thinking about using a different kind of lipstick, I think this one’s too red for me now.” You heard Jimmy chuckle and he put both hands on your waist. Wait, both hands? Realization dawned on you and you looked down at Jimmy’s new hands.
“You like ‘em?” You felt tears brimming in your eyes and you held them up, too amazed to speak. Jimmy laughed and brought them up to your cheeks. The wood was smooth and and cool against your skin.
“I love them.” You kissed them and noticed your tears on them. Jimmy grinned down at you and leaned down to kiss you.
It had been awhile since the two of you had kissed with such happiness. You hadn’t felt that way in such a long time. It was magical.
Chapter 19: Chapter Nineteen
You weren’t entirely shocked when you heard of Maggie’s death. It was an unorthodox way to die, sure, but you knew it was coming. Unfortunately, that meant that you had to prepare for the funeral.
“No one liked her,” You gave Jimmy a look as you grabbed your bag.
“We must be respectful of the dead.” Jimmy rolled his eyes and sat back down on the bed. “Do you want me to say anything to her?” Jimmy pondered to himself for a second.
“What does ‘respectable’ include?” You sighed and pecked his forehead.
“I’ll be back after dark. I think Eve wants to stop by.” Jimmy grumbled a goodbye.
Another issue was the fact that no one showed up to the funeral. You were honestly grateful that they gave her a coffin at all. You stood at the open grave and sighed.
“Maggie, we may have had our differences, but I have to admit; I admire your persistence. You were always confident in everything you did, and I’m sure that someone up there will appreciate it.” You gently laid the lily you’d bought on the coffin. “Goodbye, Maggie.” You grabbed the shovel and began to fill the pit. You were at it for a good half hour before you heard the gunshots.
You thought that the first one was just an anomaly. There were definitely many of those around. However, when you heard the rest of them, you knew what was happening.
You weren’t stupid. You knew that you weren’t strong enough or fast enough to do anything. You also knew that the chances of this killer leaving anyone alive is scarce. Lastly, you knew that he probably wouldn’t find you. Only the troupe new about the graves along the lake, and it was very hard to see from the camp. You hid behind the bushes and you cried.
You don’t know for how long you just sat behind those bushes and rocked back and forth. You cried the whole time. You didn’t know who was still alive— if anyone was still alive. You sent out prayers to each member of the troupe. But you were postponing one particular prayer. You held your ring in your hands and contemplated what to pray for; his soul’s destination, or his life. You chose to pray for the latter.
Jimmy frantically searched the grounds with Desiree. Her body wasn’t with the rest of them. Did Dandy take her? No, he had a sick infatuation with the twins. Jimmy shouted in anger and tore down another flap of a tent.
“Hey! Don’t go hulkin’ out on me! We haven’t found her yet so you better keep your head on!” Desiree shouted, causing Jimmy to sigh.
“You’re right. You’re right.”
“Now, where did she say she was goin’?” Jimmy’s eyes went wide,
“Maggie, she wanted to bury her. Give ‘er a proper funeral!” Desiree couldn’t say a word before Jimmy was already sprinting toward the lake. One of his hands fell off, but he didn’t care. The hope that you were alive kept him running on an absolutely empty stomach.
He saw the shovel and the open grave but he didn’t see you. His heart dropped but he kept running. He slowed to a stop as he found no sign of you. He began to panic,
“N-No. No, no, no, no…” He fell down to the ground and began to sob, mourning you. Albeit, prematurely.
“Jimmy?” He heard the smallest voice from the bushes. He stood and saw her. She was crying. Her eyes were red, her hair was matted and her face was covered in tears.
“Babydoll,” he rushed over to her and wrapped his arms around her tightly. The utter relief ran through him like an opium high. “You’re okay, you’re okay. I’m here. I’ll protect you,” he whispered. She clung to him so tightly, clutching his shirt in her hands. She was shaking fiercely.
“I heard so many gunshots… I thought I’d lost everyone.” He didn’t want to confirm her fears. “I thought I’d lost you.” At that moment, all Jimmy wanted to do was hold her to him for as long as possible. To simply ignore the horrors that lay in that tent. He wanted to have confidence that she was alive. He wanted to know that she was alive. So that’s what he did.
He gently leads her to the picnic table. Their picnic table if he was being possessive. Some of the most definitive moments in their lives had been determined in that spot. Unfortunately, this was one more.
He held her close, with his right hand -the one still on- wrapped around her. She was still crying but he was doing just the same.
To have your entire life destroyed within the span of a day is devastating. You grasp at the few things you have left, anything really. Big or small, any shred of the life that had been ripped from you is a blessing.
Some would consider what the two of them had in each other to be the true blessing. They would agree. At that moment, the only thing they could truly appreciate was each other. They had no one else, after all.
Chapter 20: Chapter Twenty
No matter how many years you’d been married, the feeling of Jimmy’s wooden hands was never as satisfying as his originals. But you’d never tell him that.
The two of you walked hand-in-hand through the field.
“It’s weird to be back. It sort of makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time.” You mused and Jimmy squeezed your hand gently.
“It’s nice to see everyone, though.” You nodded and tightened your grip on the basket of flowers. The stone memorial stood strong and heavy, with the words Freakshow Massacre on the top. You swallowed and kneeled down before it to leave the flowers.
“Hi, guys. How are you? I know it’s been a while since we’ve come to visit. I think right after the wedding, right?” Your wedding had been simple. Mostly due to the lack of guests to invite. There were certainly many tears on your wedding night. Jimmy sat down next to you.
“We had added another star in the time we been gone. Twins, actually. The boy we named Paul, and the girl we named Ethel.” You noticed at that moment that Jimmy’s southern accent had been lost over time.
“They’re real' cute. Ethel’s got her grandmother’s eyes and Paul’s got his father’s dimples.” You said with a small laugh, wiping away at tears.
“We tell ‘em about you all the time. (Y/n) wrote a book based on you all and she reads to the babies. She’s tryin’ to get it published. She’s a real, bonafide author now.” You smiled sadly at Jimmy’s brags and noticed his eyes getting red.
“And my husband over here just got promoted to regional manager at the electricity plant. He’s really rakin’ it in.” You said, equally proud of your spouse. A small period of silence passed. “I hope that you all are happy. I hope that you are all warm. And most importantly, I hope that you’re together. We’ll join you someday. I promise.” Jimmy brought your hand up to his face and kissed it.
“Yup. We’ll all be a family again.” You brought your lips to his and gently kissed him.
“Me and my Darlin.’”