Bunnygirl Ch. 04bycellophanesmile©
Harley groggily opened her eyes, panicking for a moment at the unfamiliar surroundings, then remembered where she was. Sighing, she rolled out of the bed, placing her bare feet on the ground in front of her.
There was a dress lying on the end of the bed, and surprised, Harley got up and put it on. She didn't know why Cal would leave her a dress, after making such a fuss about her costume last night, but she wasn't one to kick a gift horse in the mouth.
Slipping out from the tent, she stood for a moment uncertainly. She could see where everyone was gathered having breakfast, but she had never joined the group before. Was she just supposed to walk over there and eat? Then what? Harley was so used to having Cal boss her around, and she had resented it, but now that she had newfound freedom, she wasn't sure what to do with it. She wasn't going to try and run, that's for sure. Where would she even go?
Harley's shoulders rose and fell with a deep breath before she headed in the direction of the food. "Hey rabbit," a man's voice called out to her. It sounded vaguely familiar, and turning around she felt her heart plummet with dread as she saw who it was, one of the men who had kidnapped her.
Harley quickly turned her head and started walking in the opposite direction of where he stood lounging against a buggy.
"Rabbit, don't be scarred," he said following her, coming to stand in her path. Harley just glared at him.
"Look, I just came to say...well... I don't know, hell. Rabbit, I just wanted to tell ya that the boss gave me a pretty penny for fetching the likes of you, which makes you okay in my book. Ya hear?"
Harley didn't say anything, just looked at him with a blank expression on her face, obviously displeased.
"You know, you seem like an alright sort, not just some damn snot-nose female. I reckon you're going to get on fine here. And you know, if you get any troubles from any of the fellas, just tell me and I'll kick their asses to next week."
Harley stared at this gruff, unkempt man. Was he trying to apologize to her?
"I'm Harley," she said offering him her hand.
"Tanner," he said grasping her hand in his big, rough one, shaking it hardily.
"Would you care to get some breakfast with me then, Tanner?" she asked, thinking of him as an instant friend.
"Yeah, yeah," he said, turning around and walking the way she had been headed a few moments before. Harley was left trailing behind his giant strides.
She followed him through the little crowd, copying his movements of getting a plate and piling on food from pots set up around a little mess table. Harley stared in amazement to the shear amount of food this man put on his plate, even for someone his size it seemed a little excessive.
He stood waiting for her to finish fixing her plate, and when she was done she turned to look at him. "Come on then," he said taking her to a semi-secluded spot under a tree."
He immediately plopped down and started shoveling food in his mouth, and Harley, after a moment, realized that she wasn't eating because she was too busy staring at him. Blushing at her rudeness, she concentrated on her own food.
She picked up her fork and knife, cutting a dainty bit from a piece of sausage and tasting it hesitantly. She was pleasantly surprised to find that it was rather good, and she cut herself another small piece.
She became aware that Tanner was looking over at her, now, and she looked up to meet his gaze.
He snorted. "Damn fancy manners," he said, shaking his head while chewing a giant piece of meat in his mouth. Harley giggled at how they each found each other's eating habits so odd.
"Oh don't you two look happy," came a sneering voice from just above them. Harley looked up to find a woman standing above her. She would be rather attractive, Harley thought, if only she didn't have that scowl on her face.
"What do you want Susie?" Tanner said looking up at her.
"Nothing, I just came over to chat. So, you're the new freak, are you?" she said directing the question at Harley.
"Most people don't take kindly to bein' called freak, Suse," Tanner said, said, setting his empty plate aside and tucking his knees under his elbows.
Susie glanced over at Tanner, then her eyes narrowed at Harley. "But that's what she is," she said maliciously.
"Beat it, ya hear?" Tanner said gruffly to Susie, who looked slightly hurt for a moment, but then turned and stormed away. "Damn female," Tanner muttered under his breath as Susie was leaving, but still loud enough for her to hear.
He sat with Harley while she was finishing her breakfast. "That enough for you?" he said in wonder at her small proportions.
"Yeah, well my stomach is a little fussy in the morning," she said smiling at him, and he snorted and leaned his head back against the tree.
"Tanner, don't you have work to do?" Harley looked up at hearing Cal's voice, as did Tanner.
"Yeah Cal, just keeping Harley company for a bit."
"Go do your work, I'll watch over Harley."
Tanner stood up, missing Harley's quick look of panic, but unfortunately, Cal did not. Cal sat down as Tanner walked away.
"Finally eating of your own free will?" he asked her.
Harley glared at him, more out of nervousness than anger. Her heart had started to flutter as soon as she had heard his voice, and hadn't slowed down one bit. She found she couldn't continue eating with him staring at her such.
"Do you need me to feed you again?" he asked when he noticed she was just staring at her plate.
Harley defiantly shoved a forkful of food in her mouth, feeling the giant lump slide down her throat.
"Where did you get that dress?" he asked her.
Harley looked at him in surprise. "You mean you didn't leave it for me?"
Cal scowled over at her, and Harley could feel the tension mount, if that were possible. She just wanted to escape, standing up she started to walk away.
"Harley, dear," she turned to see V standing next to her, "I am so sorry for Victor's behavior yesterday. He can be such a man," she said shaking her head.
"Oh," Harley wasn't sure what to say, "That's o-okay."
Cal came and stood beside them. " I have an idea. Harley, why don't you help me today?" V asked.
"That sounds like a good idea," Cal said nodding.
Harley spent the rest of the day helping V with mending and sewing clothes for the whole troupe. She rather enjoyed having something to do, and V was friendly and talkative the whole time, and if Violet ever turned into Victor, Harley didn't notice.
It wasn't until dusk that Harley ran into Calhoun again. "We're about to open," he said, grabbing Harley by the arm, "I need to take her back now," he told V as he dragged Harley away to his tent.
"I'd hate for this to turn into an issue again," he said warningly, handing her the outfit.
Harley nodded, taking it from him, realizing that arguing wouldn't get her anywhere. "Turn around," she told him.
"Harley, it's nothing I haven't seen before."
Harley looked down nervously. Those times weren't the same as willingly stripping in front of him. She looked up again, but he had already turned around.
Surprised he had given in so easily, she quickly slipped off her dress and into her costume.
"Okay," she said and Cal turned around.
"Come on, I'll take you to your cage."
Harley hesitantly left the comfort of the tent, feeling completely exposed. She looked around anxiously, expecting everyone to be staring at her, but was pleased that most people seemed to not even notice. She followed Cal into the same tent and cage as before, taking a seat on the stool that was inside.
"Are you going to cooperate this time?" Cal asked.
Harley nodded, sitting down with her hands in her lap.
"Don't be nervous Harley, everything is going to be fine," He shut the door and walked away.
To Harley's utter amazement, everything was fine, well as fine as it possibly could be to be viewed in a cage as a freak. There was an incident, however, when a rather drunk man was making some rude comments to her, which made Harley madder than anything else, and he just refused to leave. Eventually, she popped up out of her stool, threw open the cage door and slapped him right across the face.
Before anything else could happen, though, she felt someone grab her around the waist from behind, lift her up and carry her outside. Harley struggled against her captor, but in the back of her mind she knew it must be Cal.
"I can't say I blame you for wanting to hit that man, little rabbit, but for your own safety, never do that again. Okay?" he said, and Harley was surprised to find that he wasn't angry at all, he actually seemed to be smiling a bit. Harley, surprised at his good mood, and not wanting to ruin it, simply said okay.
"Good, now why don't I show you the rest of the show? You probably want to see it?" he asked. Harley, just pleased that he wasn't angry, nodded dazedly.
She followed Cal through the crisp night air, looking at all the attractions, food stands, and people: a spectacular carnival. "Right through here," he said pulling back a tent flap and pushing Harley inside.
There was a crowd of people gathered so jam packed together that Harley could instantly feel the temperature increase and the air supply thin. On a little platform, inside a cage was some sort of creature. It looked like a wolf, but different. It prowled around its tiny cage, occasionally standing upright. If anyone from the audience got to close, the beast would growl and snap at them. There was a man standing next to the cage, speaking to an utterly enthralled audience, about how the show had acquired the wild werewolf.
"Come on," he said, leading Harley back out into the night air.
"A werewolf?" Harley asked, looking at Cal.
"Just a young lad, you might have seen him wondering around camp. He can change shape at will and is perfectly tame, that back there is just for show."
Harley nodded; she wondered why the werewolf didn't mind acting like a savage animal so people could drool over him.
"Here's a sight," Cal said leading her through another tent. Like the other, the tent was fool of people, some coming and going. In the center there stood a man, but Harley's eyes were immediately drawn to what he was holding. It was a giant head, looking like it came from some sort of unknown monster, but what was truly amazing about it was that it appeared to be alive. Its eyes were looking around it, its mouth moving, its nose twitching.
"Is it still alive?" she asked in awe.
"Yes, an immortal head."
"But what happened to the body?"
"Well," Cal explained, "The head was found buried in Greece, which leads us to believe, though we can't be sure, that this is the head of the mythical beast, the hydra. And if that is so, the head was cut off and buried there by a famous hero, Hercules, thousands of years ago."
Harley couldn't believe what she was seeing. "Does it eat?" she asked.
Cal laughed, "No one has ever asked that before. We don't feed it; the food would just fall right out its neck. Though it will bight off your hand if you aren't careful."
"What else?" Harley asked exited now, pulling Cal out the tent, eager for him to take her to other exhibits.
"Okay, here is what the children love to see," he said, opening a tent and leading her in. Once again the display was on a platform in the middle of the tent. There was what looked like a small white pony, but with cloven hooves, a lion's tail, and perhaps most spectacular was the long horn coming out of its forehead.
This tent was different from the others in that instead rearing back in fear, the audience was smiling and yearning to get closer. There was a line of children to go and pet the little horse, and it was ever friendly, nuzzling and neighing.
"How adorable," she gasped.
"You can pet him later," he said, pulling her out of the tent. The next exhibit wasn't inside a tent, but sitting on a little booth.
The first thing Harley noticed about the girl was that she was exceptionally beautiful, with extremely long, flowing hair.
"Her hair grows at such a rate that you can actually see it happening," Cal pointed out, and indeed, Harley could see it getting longer just as she stood there.
The girl was smiling and talking with the people around her, cutting off her long red locks as they continued to grow.
"Why are they buying her hair?" she asked, noticing that the girl would twirl a lock around her fingers, tie it and cut if off, giving the little loop to a customer in exchange for some money.
"If you put it under your pillow at night, it'll make your hair grow faster and more beautiful."
"And does it work?" she asked.
"Why of course," he said as though surprised she would even have to ask.
"Still, it must be a hassle to have to cut your hair all the time," Harley thought out loud.
"I think she's used to it," Cal said taking her by the elbow and leading her to another tent.
There inside a cage was the body of a horse, but the torso and head of a man. "A centaur," Cal told her.
The centaur gave a nod to Cal when he saw him come in, and Cal waved back. "Horace is quite the intellectual, you'll see when you meet him."
"What's in there?" Harley asked when they had left Horace, pointing to another tent.
"That's just the burlesque show," he said, leading her into the tent. Harley soon realized that she was the only female in a crowd full of men. On stage, there was a naked woman dancing on a pole, and a topless one doing tricks on a swing. Harley recognized the topless one as Susie, the girl who had talked to her and Tanner that morning.
"Okay, next tent" Cal lead her back outside. Harley wasn't sure what to make of the burlesque show, she had never heard of women dancing naked in front of men before. And it reminded her of her own attire, the skimpy little outfit. Funny, she had completely forgotten what she was wearing, too enthralled in all the acts.
For the rest of the night, Cal showed her countless attractions. She really enjoyed the show, and before, what she had hated as degrading and just plain awful, she was now sort of a little proud to be apart of.