Cause and Effect

Participants:

Max.jpg

Date: Jul 06, 2010
Location: Nerat
Synopsis: Lapsed into a brooding silence, Max saddled the big stallion, Starflight, and then checked the packs on Charger and Superstition. His mother had tried once or twice to draw him out of the mood that had begun to envelope him soon after the goldrider had left, but to no avail.
Rating: PG-13
Logger: Max

Just outside Nerat Hold


Lapsed into a brooding silence, Max saddled the big stallion, Starflight, and then checked the packs on Charger and Superstition. His mother had tried once or twice to draw him out of the mood that had begun to envelope him soon after the goldrider had left, but to no avail.

Someone was once again prepared to give him a chance to prove himself. Elation would have been the appropriate reaction; instead all it did was serve to remind of another similar scenario. Of a time he’d sooner forget.

Asera, the coalminer’s daughter that had provided idle distraction came out of the cave with his bedroll and wide-brimmed hat. Reaching up to set it to the newly appointed Beast Manager’s head, she sought to lay claim to his mouth in the process. Max jerked his head back, dark eyes flashing with irritation. “Cut it out!” he growled, and turned to secure the bedroll behind the saddle.

Hurt mirrored in the girl’s eyes and bled into her tone too, “It’s that goldrider isn’t it? I saw the way you were looking at her.”

Max threw back his head and laughed; the sound hollow and sharp in the gathering dark. Turning his head over his shoulder, much of his expression hidden by the wide brim of his hat, the mocking timbre to his words said it all, “Let’s face it babe, it was all just a bit of fun. I didn’t promise you anything.”

Asera’s eyes flew wide and then narrowed sharply as tears threatened. “You son of a bitch!” she hissed.

“Careful now, cupcake. You wouldn’t want the ‘bitch’ to hear that would you?” he shot back sardonically as he stepped up into the stirrup and swung his leg over the saddle.

Exiting from the cave, Indira caught the tail end of her son’s words. Dark eyes narrowed onto the young man as she went over to him. Laying a staying hand on Max’s stirruped boot, she ignored the tearful young brunette that scurried past her. “Do you have to be such a bastard?” she chastised.

“Do all women have to have only one thing in mind?” Max countered with testily.

Indira’s lips pressed together in a thin line as she handed the lead reins of the other two runners up to him, “If you could only learn to treat people the same way you treat runnerbeasts…” She didn’t continue, merely shaking her head bemusedly.

Gathering up the lead reins, the dark haired young man’s shoulders twitched beneath his jacket, “Little late now to start playing Mama, don’t you think?” The hurt that flashed in and out of his mother’s eyes, immediately had him wishing he could take the words back. Digging his heels into Starflight’s sides he rode off at a canter, without so much as a backward glance for fear of the pain he might see etched across Indira’s face.

Indira watched in silence, hands to trouser pockets, until she could no longer make rider and runners out against the inky blackness of night and then she turned and went back into the cave. The rest of her evening filled with handing out orders and ensuring everything was ready for their transport to Eastern Weyr the next day.

*

Anger, ever present beneath the thin veneer that Max held it under, broiled and pressed painfully against his chest. The pounding hooves of the stallion beneath him, studding each thought as it slammed into his consciousness. He shouldn’t have spoken to her like that. Thud, thud, thud. It wasn’t her fault, she didn’t understand. Thud, thud, thud.

The image of pale blue eyes set off by raven hair slung into his mind, eyes the color of the winter sky that could seduce with a bat of lashes and in turn, strike to the core with cold and unforgiving dismissal. His skin prickled with goose-flesh as the evening wind became her lips upon his skin, her scent in his nostrils. Stoney-faced, Max spurred the stallion on to a gallop, trying to outrun the cruel illusion.

The rustle of leaves as he raced by, called his name in low taunting whisper, husky and wanton. Max’s chest heaved as he tried to suck air into his lungs, shaking his head in an attempt to clear his mind. Starflight stumbled in the dark and snorted in alarm.

Yanked back to reality, Max leant forward and whispered soothingly into the big stallion’s ear, slowing him down to a walk. Twisting in his saddle he cast a critical eye over Charger and Superstition, sure that the weyrwoman would have his guts for garters if anything befell the Weyr’s latest acquisitions.

Inhaling a long cleansing breath, the anger started to drain away, leaking back into the pool of his soul were he kept it hidden and he focussed on the journey ahead.



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