Haltering The Truth



Date: 23.03.2011
Location: EW - Beast Caverns
Synopsis: Max finally comes to realize what’s really been behind his behaviour of late.
Rating: PG
Logger: Max

Much later that same night after having returned from a meeting with a feed supplier in which he’d struggled to pay any kind of attention, hands shoved in pockets, Max wandered down the dimly lit aisle of the quietened beast caverns.

Though his steps were muffled by the straw under foot, Starflight heard his approach and stuck his head out over the stall door nickering softly. Dark eyes lifted and the beast manager’s step slowed bringing him to a halt before the big black stallion. Solemnly, the two eyed each other, one looking into the soul of the other until it was Max that turned away, unable to bear the reproach he saw reflected back at him. Starflight snorted and withdrew his head, moving to the back of his stall.

Springbreeze was the next to peer out into the aisle, her great gentle eyes following the troubled young man as he slowly made his way to her, hesitated and then stopped casting a long look onto her. The young filly at her side nudged and nosed her way to the front of their stall, also wanting to see what had caught her dam’s attention.

A corner of Max’s mouth lifted as just the soft nose of the little runnerbeast’s head appeared at the edge of the stall door, nostrils flaring, searching for scent on the air for she wasn’t yet tall enough so as to be able to see over it. From the stall next to them Renegade snorted and overturned his bucket with a loud clang of hoof causing the filly’s muzzle to disappear in a flash.

“Stop being such an ornery bugger, you done scared the little one,” Max’s voice broke the silence sending low admonishment the high spirited stallion’s way.

Renegade of course, did not put his head out over his stall door in the hopes of a petting for he was above such things and instead remained restless in his stall, pawing at the ground and snorting his disdain.

Sending the gentle mare a fond look, the beast manager moved to the palomino’s stall and leant both his arms on the half-door, dark regard settling onto the big creature that had thus far eluded any attempts to be broken.

To be broken…those three words sank into Max’s consciousness and his throat went dry as somewhere in the dark recesses of his mind, a small part of him identified with the unruly creature. Slowly he swallowed and straightened out of his lean. Is that how he felt? That Ahnika was trying to break him and bend him to her will?

Springbreeze broke through the disquieting thought by reaching her head out to try and tug at his jacket and he frowned. Wasn’t he guilty of trying to do the same to her? Trying to bend her to his ways? Behind the mare, her filly…Ahnika’s filly…skittered about playfully and the self-realization sickened him. Glancing back up he caught the look held steadily to him by Springbreeze and saw reflected back at him gray eyes swimming with tears unshed. Tears…that he had put there. And his throat closed.

Why? Why was he so adamant that she understand his point of view with regards to what was becoming more evident to have been a misunderstanding of intent between herself and Kelarad? Why was he trying so hard to make her see that she’d done wrong, trying to break her to his will? Why had her words cut him so deeply to the core?

Olira’s face suddenly drifted behind his eyes and fear gripped his heart.

Because this time, it had been Kelarad, one of the more relatively ‘sane’ crimelords but next time…next time it could be the likes of Vaputero or one of the other less lucid men of the north, men who may not think twice before directing their ego driven anger onto her, his Ahnika. The very thought sent his senses reeling and fury rose up in the young southern crimelord, knowing that without a doubt he’d kill…and enjoy doing it too.

As the black pitch of rage faded, realization whispered softly across the back of his hand in the form of Springbreeze’s whiskered muzzle.

It had nothing to do with his sense of self preservation and everything to do with his deep need to protect her and keep her safe from the malevolence he had brought into their lives. And there it was, finally identified. He was being driven by guilt; an emotion almost as destructive as jealousy or hate. So much so, that he’d almost destroyed what they had because of it.

As the beast manager stepped away from the stall door and started to make his way back down the aisle toward his quarters, two equine heads turned and watched him go in solemn silence. The third, that belonging to Renegade, still resolutely not showing itself, while the filly’s little muzzle danced and flirted along the edge of the stall door, desperate to know what all the fuss was about.

Back in his quarters, Max stopped at the foot of his mattress (He still hadn’t gotten so far as to get himself an actual bed frame) and his eyes fell to the knitted afghan spread out over it. With a choked sound he gathered it up into a bundle in his arms and sank to the mattress, burying his face in the softly textured throw, inhaling the last traces of her scent that still remained. He didn’t know how to make it right; he only knew that somehow he had to.

He fell asleep like that, fully clothed, the afghan held tight against him with just the faintest patch of damp on it that spoke of his remorse.

Closing Credits: Prime Circle - Turning In My Sleep

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