Ask any of her customers and they would all gladly tell you the same. Simply put, Rapture the clown was the best in the business. She made fabulous balloon animals, did impressive impressions, told hilarious jokes, started messy pie fights, and juggled anything she could toss into the air. For the children's amusement, she fell off unicycles, slipped on banana peels, and generally made a fool of herself in ways that had her audience die with laughter.

Besides the way she rocked her hips and batted her lashes at married men for extra tips, it was usually her bubbly personality that landed the seventeen-year-old all of her gigs. Except now, in the midst of danger, with her only safety net being her best friend, none of that bubbly, carefree spirit showed through her terror-stricken face.

Rupert was the 6'2" and slender-framed silent friend of hers since kindergarten. His skin was a light bronze under all the white paint, and he had worn his hair short and wavy since before they first met. He was only slightly taller than her now, but the mime had towered over her a decade ago, being older than her by a little under a year.

Even back then, she was considered the class clown, and he hardly ever spoke. But whenever he did, it would cause her to giggle uncontrollably for days. Around her house, her parents grew accustom to hearing, "Oh my gosh! You'll never guess what Rupert said!" before her composure cracked from laughter, still attempting to retell his joke of the day. Despite their clashing personalities, they bonded through a shared sense of humor, and immediately became best friends.

It was at her twelfth birthday party that true love struck twice. Until that day, clowns had been nothing more than silly men covered in colorful makeup. Gonzo the Great singlehandedly changed her perspective.

As he danced and honked around her backyard in his ridiculously oversized red shoes, her friends, her brother, and even her parents all seemed to watch with an amused glimmer in their eye. None observed the blue-haired buffoon with such rapt admiration as little Rapture.

Everything about the odd character, from the weird way he waddled when he walked, to the strange lisp he spoke in, drew her deeper and deeper into a warm space. And when he started telling jokes, that warmth echoed around her in the form of hysterical laughter. The joyous sound resonated within her, tickling the core of her very being and drawing out her innate nature. By the time the giggle made it from her belly to her lips, she was convinced that Gonzo the Great was not just some silly man being funny. What he did was magic.

Once Gonzo's act was over, it was time for pie and presents. The Lee family, as well as her friends, gathered around the birthday girl. Twelve flames flickered before her eyes atop her birthday pie. As the yard filled with that familiar song, she made the wish that changed her fate forever. With eyes sealed tight and a grin stretching her face, she whispered, "I wish I could bring joy like this to the entire world."

She blew out the candles to applause and cheers. The pie was sliced and served as Rapture was handed one gift after another. She received books and games and music; each she smiled and showed off for the camera as if it was the greatest thing ever, until finally the last box was placed in her hands.

This one was different. It wasn't covered in wrapping paper, and there were holes in the top. Once it was in her lap, she felt movement inside. Her heart started to race, knowing something small and fuzzy waited within to be cuddled. She tore off the lid with unbridled enthusiasm, and out hopped a tiny bundle of snow-white fluff. She took to it immediately, snatching the little kitten up and snuggling it to her bosom.

She squealed her appreciation, and began to ramble in incoherent excitement. "I'm gonna call her Snowpatch, and I'm getting her a bow with some bells and matching boots for her cute little paws and..." She prattled on awhile longer as her mom did her best to snap a picture of her bouncing ball of a daughter with her new pet.

The cessation of her animated tongue was abrupt, for tragedy had struck. Agony spread from the point of contact throughout the entire fiber of her being in an instant. She let loose a wail that would halt banshees in their tracks.

"Ah! Demon cat!" Her teary-eyed shriek stunned the crowd. The vindictive fangs of Snowpatch had pierced deeply into her hand and latched firmly as she attempted to shake it loose.

While everyone else simply gawked in astonishment, it was Rupert who acted first. Thinking quickly, he armed himself with a glass of lemonade and splashed it on the cat's face. Unhinging its jaw to detach from Rapture, an enraged Snowpatch hissed menacingly at him. With glowing eyes intent to murder, the cat pounced at him, only to fall directly into the same box as before.

Rupert slammed the lid shut as Snowpatch erupted in a storm of yowling and scratching. As he stood there, clutching closed the box of death, he looked at her tear-stained face, and smiled. It was a bright, infectious grin that for a few seconds took all the hurt away. She laughed, and he laughed with her. It was then that cupid's arrow struck again.

After such a valiant rescue, she began to see him in a more romantic light. Feeling an odd compulsion to spend more time with him, she signed them both up to attend clown camp where they spent the following summer learning the trade of comedy. It was an impulsive decision that impacted their respective ways of life forever.

He genuinely loved it there; a place he could fit in without speaking a word, and play pranks on his unsuspecting peers, making his friend laugh at his humorous antics every chance he had. Although a few of the other camp members considered Rupert a nuisance, his counselors regarded him as the most dedicated among them.

On the last day, the camp's mime-instructor insisted that come tomorrow, the students never speak for the rest of their miming career, claiming it was the authentic, old school way of doing things. Without words, life would become a world of practice and opportunity.

This news didn't concern Rupert much. He was already coasting through life with only a few syllables sprinkled here and there. He did little extra-curricular activities; painting not needing much speech. His teachers never called on him to answer anything, barely acknowledging his existence unless he showed up late, and his parents were too busy at work to pay him much attention. Going through life without another utterance would be a cakewalk for him.

However, there was something he had overlooked, and failed to realize until too late. He had been dying to confess his true feelings for Rapture for weeks, but never felt like the time was quite right. This would be his last chance, but the clowns had gone on a field trip to the circus that day.

This rattled him, because he took his instruction very seriously. Without a way to contact her, he grew paranoid as he watched the sun slowly set. Worried the day would end before her return, he went into the nearby town searching for the perfect way to convey his purest emotions without words.

In the town's marketplace, he encountered a one-armed nomad man selling an odd assortment of shiny jewelry. In the middle of the nomad's table, he spotted something he knew she would absolutely adore, and pulled out his allowance to pay for the trinket.

"You buy this for someone you love, yes?" asked the man in a thick accent. The little mime nodded eagerly. "Ah, then for you… free of charge." The man grinned wide at the little boy's bemused expression. Thanking him with a bow, he accepted his prize and hurried back to camp to wait patiently for his best friend's return.

With only three minutes remaining until midnight, the yellow bus finally rolled up to the cabins. Young clowns departed to their beds, most of them yawning from their long, exhausting day; all except Rapture, who still had enough energy to laugh and joke around.

Not sparing a moment, he ran to her quickly and confessed everything he harbored in his heart for her in the three little words she never expected, but secretly wished to hear all summer. He presented a tiny jewel box with a bashful grin. Inside she found a beautiful silver necklace with a sparkling, cerulean, crescent moon pendant. Tears welled in her eyes as she hugged her friend, just as the clock struck midnight.

It was only after that night that she learned of his vow of silence. To her, this made the unbelievable moment all the more special; his last words were said exclusively for her ears. It also gave her an objective to obsess over for the following five years. She promised her reflection to do everything in her power to make him break his own promise and hear him speak those words to her again.

His gift to her had never missed a day around her neck, and every day she wore it had been the happiest day of her life. She held him so emotionally close to her now, and soared on the wings of her joy to become the greatest clown who ever lived.

She had never been happier, however, while watching the eighteen-year-old wield a broom so capably to protect her from Mrs. Simmons' kittens. The frisky little fur-balls freaked her out constantly whenever they escaped from next door and wandered onto her porch. Just the thought of touching their filthy fur made her skin crawl.

Once the last of them got shooed away into the chilly autumn night, she ran up and thanked him with a loving hug. It warmed her heart to know he would fight so valiantly to ensure her safety. He shook his head in response, not thinking his action warranted this amount of gratitude. Even so, he did not deny her pleasant embrace.

Held tightly in her arms, he dropped the broom to properly return the affection, and she nestled her head into the crook of his neck. No matter what the threat, holding him always made her feel safer.

"I can't thank you enough for stopping by tonight. She's a sweet thing, for sure, but I swear that old bat pisses me off sometimes! All I ask is that she not neglect her pets so much that they wind up on my doorstep begging for snacks." He shrugged and offered her a sympathetic look.

"And just between us, I think she may have the hots for you. Last time you were here, I caught her eyeing your butt." He squirmed against her as she gave his firm hide a pinch. "She looked like she'd gobble you up if given the chance, not that I blame her. The day she even lays a finger on you, consider her dead meat."

Once she released him and stepped away from the warmth his body offered, she was instantly aware of how poorly the pajamas and pink bunny slippers shielded her from the cool night air.

Watching her rub her arms to stay warm, he knew keeping her outside for too long would be thoughtless. He lightly struck her heart-shaped nose with a finger as a sign of farewell and turned to leave, but her hand wrapped into his and yanked him back like a yo-yo.

"Leaving already?" His head turned slowly to face her, seeing the pendant twirl on its chain. He started to nod until his gaze met with her purple cat-slit eyes glistening in the moonlight. They were beginning to water, and her lower lip trembled slightly, threatening to poke out in a full-on pout if he dared to disappoint her.

Although he knew it was a bad idea, time and again she had proven it pointless to resist her pouting face. With a silent sigh, he shook his head in defeat and followed her into her home.

The place was tiny compared to the neighboring houses, though she preferred to call it cozy. There was only one floor, a handful of rooms, and the basement only had enough space available for a freezer, furnace, washer, and dryer.

He looked around the familiar layout on his way inside. Paintings of oceans and rocks lined the autumn-orange painted walls. Fake plants placed in black vases sat in the corner, covering up the small bleach stains on the midnight-colored carpet from when her little brother came to visit over the summer. The sunset-red ceiling still retained a few visible cracks from when she would practice juggling indoors, much to her mother's displeasure, even after the new paint job. It felt like standing in the center of a rainbow.

The moment he stepped foot inside, he could feel the house radiating with her ever-present energy. He immediately felt at peace here, somewhat like a second home.

"You want a glass of something?" Hearing the invitation, he zealously ushered her into the kitchen. Giggling, she began her search through the cluttered refrigerator.

Unzipping his jacket and hanging it up in the closet, he gave his arms an exaggerated stretch before taking a seat on the living room's bright yellow bean bag couch. Ice clanked against glass as she returned with lemonade. Handing him a cup, she joined him on the couch and set her own drink down on the carpet.

"So, how's life been out on campus?" He took a sip of the lemonade while shrugging his shoulders. The thirst-quenching substance washed over his tongue as the delicious sweet-and-sour combination rocked his tastebuds. After savoring the liquid at the back of his throat, he swallowed, and then stared at his friend with his mouth agape in disbelief, pointing to the beverage.

"Nah, it's definitely store bought. Dreamonade. The good stuff…" She giggled as he greedily gulped down half the glass in one go. "You know you can talk here, right? I wouldn't tell a soul."

He smacked his lips after another blissful sip and shook his head to decline. Placing his thumb and index finger together to his mouth, he turned an imaginary key and threw it over his shoulder.

"Ha! Whatever, dude. I guess I can talk enough for the two of us." His eyes smiled at her, reminding her that she was still wearing contacts. "Or, we don't have to talk at all tonight. Maybe just enjoy each other's company?" He cocked an eyebrow in question of her suggestive tone. She giggled again and punched him in the arm.

"You're so silly! Hey, I'll be right back. So don't go sneaking away, got it?" He gave a mock salute, watching her stand and walk off to the bathroom. When she was out of sight, he rubbed the sore spot of his arm and finished the last of his lemonade.

Rapture examined her reflection, looking into the false purple eyes so attached to her identity now that she felt alien when they were gone. She removed her contacts with practiced ease, blinking a few times to adjust her sight, then placed them in their proper case. She rarely liked the dull, boring brown eyes she was born with, but tonight they seemed to sparkle with delight.

Her naked face always looked like a stranger to her, something her father thought odd, but her mother assured was natural. Reaching into a drawer under the sink, she retrieved a small, mauve-colored tube and screwed off the top. Placing it to her lips, she guided it carefully around her mouth until she was satisfied. Pressing her lips together, she replaced the top and put the item back where it belonged.

Her hand caressed her cheek, admiring the smooth, soft, chocolate skin she had been blessed with. Happy with her own handywork, she gave the mirror a lingering lipstick mark before returning to her friend.

Rupert stretched out on the couch as she entered. His arms curled around the back of the sofa, and his knees nearly popped the way his legs extended out. It was a shallow ruse to hide the fact that he had been stealing sips from her drink and hastily placing it back on the carpet before he was caught.

She slipped back behind the bathroom door just as he turned to inspect the footsteps he undoubtedly heard. Not seeing his friend, he quickly bent down to sate his sugar addiction.

She bit back a laugh watching him feign innocence. A mischievous smirk crept across the clown girl's face. She waited until he went for another quick sip, slipped out of her fuzzy slippers, tiptoed behind him, and covered his eyes with her hands.

"Guess who!" she sung playfully. He stiffened like a culprit ordered to "Freeze!" by the police. He was impressed that she managed to catch him off-guard with her mediocre sneaking skills. "I leave for five minutes and you're out here stealing sips? Worst best friend ever! Well? What do you have to say for yourself?"

He rolled his eyes at her transparent ploy to get him to speak and reached up to seize her wrists. As he yanked her over his shoulder, she laughed and twisted around to plop down on the couch, purposely landing in his lap. Without delay, his arms snaked around from the back of her. They wrapped her up by the waist and pulled her body tightly to his own, eliciting a surprised gasp.

His fingers spread out over her belly, moving like miniature soldiers on a mission. They traveled swiftly to infiltrate the pink cotton t-shirt, lifting the thin fabric up to reach the treasure hidden underneath. She let out a soft, but unmistakable moan at the intimate flesh-to-flesh contact, and instantly regretted it. The moment the noise escaped her lips, they both understood its implications. He now had total control.

The pleasure intensified as his hands inched closer to the more sensitive spots of her skin. Wherever his fingers trailed, it sent tingling sparks throughout her body, giving off the satisfying sensation of melting from his affectionate touch. She trembled with anticipation at what might happen next, driving her mad within his arms.

Without warning, the instruments of bliss turned into tools of torture as he switched from rubbing to tickling. The too sudden transition momentarily froze her brain function. A moment later, she began to squirm and buck in a desperate attempt to escape the hold of her tormentor, all the while laughing and screaming both loudly and uncontrollably.

Her spastic movements seemed to entice the mime. He relentlessly increased the intensity of his sneak attack, leaving her to squirm even more erratically in his lap. She eventually managed to tip them both over, along with the sun-colored couch, laughing wildly while tears streamed down her face, all the way until her head hit the floor with a solid thud.

Rubbing the spot of impact on the back of her skull to soothe the pain, Rapture rolled off of her assailant, seething as she sat up. Her heart slowed to a regular pace as she desperately caught her breath. She made sure to acquire vengeance by kicking the mime in the leg as hard as she could while he was down.

"What the hell is wrong with you? That hurt, jerk!" He rebutted by sticking out his tongue and making a face that reminded her of the unyielding attraction she held for him.

He looked just as handsome as he did the first time she realized his smile caused her heart to flutter. Memories flooded and flushed the anger out of her mind, replacing it with more arousal. He stood up, brushing off make-believe dirt, forcing her to giggle grudgingly, before extending his hand out to help her back up.

Her arms folded in defiance. She looked up at his innocent expression with a mixture of angelic, and devilish, but all carnal thoughts. "Screw you," she fake pouted. Her hand flew through the air to slap his away. "God damn your cuteness!"

Another bare heel connected with the mime, this time landing squarely on his shin. He rubbed the sore spot with a smile on his face. He was practically beaming with pride from his friend's conflicted compliment. Once the pain receded, he grinned in such a menacing fashion that her skin started to crawl as if it wished to abandon the rest of her.

"W-what are you about to do?" she squeaked. She scooted backward on her butt, trying to retreat. She knew whatever her companion was planning could only be classified as evil. Her attempt to escape was in vain, however. He sprinted toward her, scooped her up with ease, and carried her kicking and screaming across his shoulder, into the bowels of her own bedroom.

All the rosy pink curtains, walls, and carpet in her room seemed violet when dimly illuminated by the tiny red lava lamp resting on the dresser. Even her cutesy pink sheets looked dark and erotic. They were tinted a visceral, passionate red by the light, and neatly spread across the bed, right until their bodies made abrupt contact.

The collision rocked the entire bed backward when he slammed her on top of the mattress, and he mounted her before she could retaliate. Once they were still, she risked a timid glance into his eyes. The tension building within her tummy relaxed instantly. All the care and compassion resting behind his hazel eyes ignited dynamite inside her belly. She felt the blaze of lust warming her insides. Just one simmering smirk from him, and the dam blew. She was washed away in a tidal wave of unbridled emotions. No longer able to hold back, she wrapped her arms around his neck and bumped her lips into his.

Gently nipping at her lips, he let one of his hands slip from the grip he held on her shoulder to the back of her neck, entangling his fingers in her curls. She released another moan as his tongue flicked teasingly against her top lip, begging to be let inside. She earnestly granted it access.

The kiss deepened, along with their feelings for one another. Although far from their first kiss, past occurrences were rare and ended briskly by her father's vigilant eye.

Here, there were no interruptions; no reason to fear being separated, and all the more reason to take it slow and savor the sensations. And although they both viewed locking lips as tame, so long as it made the other happy, it was mutually agreed upon that the future offered more wild experiences to be had.

Of course, to Rapture's excitement-addled mind, the future translated to two seconds from now, and every possible moment afterward. The mime on top of her was distracted with the passionate, smoldering kiss being shared between them. With his guard down, it would be child's play to take control.

Before he realized what was happening, his friend had flipped them both over, laying him on his back. Her long, slender legs straddled his chest, and her knees forcibly pinned down his shoulders.

Even with the unexpected maneuver pulled off, his face remained unsurprised thanks to years of expert miming. She was disappointed, but refused to let it show. She still had a mischievous scheme up her sleeve, and was confident that it would easily shock him into speaking.

"I'm really glad you chose to stay the night with me, buddy," she stated smugly. He glared menacingly up at his captor for not allowing him to move, but nodded his head in silent agreement. Her hands crept to the ends of her shirt, and while they slowly inched her top up over her body, a devious, Cheshire grin appeared on her face. "Now that you're here, I can finally start acting out all the explicit scenes I've been dreaming about."

The pink cotton stretched over and past her head-turning breasts, which she admittedly exploited to get a few contracts from male clients, revealing to him the silky white lingerie that had remained concealed underneath until now. Continuing to work its way up her body, the flimsy material passed her neck, over her head, all the way up slender arms, and finally to the tip of a single finger, which she then used to fling the now useless piece of clothing to the floor, having served its purpose.

Leaning down, she let her tongue hang from her mouth, and left a trail of sticky wetness from his jawline to his cheekbone, tasting remnant traces of mint-flavored face paint. She developed a habit of licking his face shortly after discovering such a paint existed, and pestered him into wearing it for just such an occasion.

"I would guarantee that you're finally going to break your vow tonight by saying something, but it'll probably sound more like animalistic grunts and whines than fully formed words."

Giving him a wink, she felt around for the bra strap and unhooked it, liberating her breasts from the restricting garment. She let the bra fall on her prisoner's lips, but kept his eyes uncovered to take in her unveiled splendor. He gave her a dirty look, cursing her for putting him in such a compromising position; and yet he ashamedly admitted that the view provided was undeniably endearing.

It was hardly the jaw-dropping or drooling affect she was hoping for, but she smirked in spite of it all since he truly did seem mesmerized, contradicting the fake struggling and squirming act he performed while trapped beneath her. She was not at all fooled. If he intended to throw her off, he would have no problem doing so. Meaning that even if guilt kept him from openly admitting it, some part of him had been yearning for this moment, just as she had. Thoughts like that merely excited her more.

"Are you ready?" She sounded sexy, yet sinister as well. It was all the warning she offered before descending upon him.