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Sometimes though, when it was a particularly busy day for the Spec. Show, or there were too many visitors in the menagerie for her to comfortable relax with her bear, she would join the rest of the circus for lunch in the cookhouse. Of course that didn't mean she was any more social than usual. If she could, she could find an empty table, or share one with someone else hoping for a quiet break, and read, one hand holding her book open while the other held her fork.
Today seemed to be a particularly busy everywhere she went. Even the cookhouse seemed extra crowded. Maybe it was because people had started bundling up in the spirit of winter, even though it barely reached below 50° in New Orleans. Maybe more people had joined recently and she was only just noticing. Elsa wasn't sure, but she was glad when she was able to grab a seat in a back corner of the tent that was actually quiet enough to focus on her book.
Well, okay, Elsa thought. She had no reason to believe otherwise. She was the type to believe people at face value, despite so much evidence that she shouldn't. Although she was starting to question things more and more.
"Oh," she said, blinking up at the performer. "Is everything okay?" The two of them didn't usually talk very much, and Elsa's first thought was the Wolfgang was in trouble, that he had done too many drugs or something. She couldn't stop herself from worrying, and from hoping that he was all right.
She folded her hands neatly in front of her, holding off on eating. Penn seemed more on the serious side today, and she didn't want to disrespect that. But again, Penn seemed to talk to her without saying very much, so Elsa could still do little more than blink at her. She nodded and said, “Okay,” again. She thought she might have an idea what Penn wanted to tell her, and she wasn't really sure how it would make her feel.
Even when Penn paused, Elsa didn't really know what to say. She wasn't usually on the receiving end of these kinds of talking. Actually, she usually wasn't involved in these kinds of talks at all. Most of her interactions with people aside from Vernon and Bart were mostly out of convenience or necessity, not, well, whatever this would be called.
So, since she didn't really think she had anything to say, and Penn seemed to have quite a lot to say, Elsa sat quietly, taking in what she was hearing. She tried not to let the mixture of feelings she had show on her face. The truth was, she wasn't entirely sure what all of them were herself – confusion? Anger? Why would she be angry, she and Wolfgang were hardly a couple at this point. And for that matter, why did Penn feel like Elsa needed to know all of this?
Honestly, she didn't really want to. She didn't like how it was making her feel, but none of what Penn said actually surprised Elsa at all. A part of her figured they'd already been with each other before, but apparently they hadn't, and it was actually something Penn had spent a lot of time thinking about.
When she finally stopped talking, Elsa continued to sit across from her. It took her a moment, but eventually she said, “Okay,” again. She didn't really know what to say. The last person who had confessed any feelings to her was Vernon, and those weren't feelings for her.
She looked down at her hands, at her fingers tapping the table lightly. “You're allowed to do what you want,” she said cautiously. A part of her wanted to tell Penn that she shouldn't have told her anything, or that she shouldn't tell Wolfgang anything. A part of her wanted to call her a selfish whore and to suggest that maybe she try to find a man who didn't have someone else, but that part confused and almost scared her. She had never had thoughts like that before. This whole thing – everything that happened since she had first started even talking to Wolfgang, let alone dating him, and then not dating him – had confused her so much, she just wanted it all to be over. She just wanted to go back to how her life was before. If that meant Penn and Wolfgang ended up together, then fine.
She did manage to keep herself from scoffing audibly, though, which was something of a feat. Who was Penn to tell Elsa she needed to change? Penn was the one repeating her actions, going for someone who wasn't really available, the one whose actions seemed more like a skipping record than anything.Wolfgang had been the one to pursue Elsa, she wanted to remind her. He know who she was, what she was like, long before they had even entertained a relationship, let alone started becoming friends. It wasn't as if she hadn't already changed for him. She lost her virginity to him, for heaven's sake! What was she supposed to do? Start acting like Penn? Become just another partying slut he could sleep with and toss away?
What right did she have at all to tell Elsa to change herself.
So, with a tight, but relatively neutral expression, she nodded. "Okay," she repeated herself, honestly not wanting to say anything else, lest she say everything else she wanted to.