Title: Uneasy
Time Period: April 5, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: Not just the stallion, either.

Today was a big day, in terms of his horse training, leading Cas to do his work in the stables as quickly as possible, skipping much of his socializing with the horses as he moved through the standard motions, only stopping when the sharp pains in his back started. The tea helped soothe those, but he didn't slow down much, cleaning hooves and mucking out stalls, brushing down horses, until he finished all of his chores and had free time…

Many hours earlier than he would have finished without the proper motivation. If only because he tends to talk to the animals more than necessary and take most his chores slow. Or he did. Before.

With a halter in hand, he made his way out to the pasture to use all the days of walking closer and closer to the horses to finally make his decision…

Which he seems to have made, with the leather halter pushing down a black and white whispy mane on a horse that's still not quite sure what to make of it. His ears twitch, his head lowers and he toes at it with his feathered hoof. The lead rope is wrapped up in Cas' hand, unattached, as he watches the stallion settle with the idea of having something on his that wasn't there til he let a human get close enough to scratch at his nose and reach around his neck.

Mariah gets up late. By habit. But today, instead of heading out to town, she took a detour to come out and see what Cas was up to. And was directed here. So she strolls in his direction, her head tilted a bit when she sees him and the horse standing there. She's never seen much with horse training before, and it's a bit of a puzzle.

When she gets to the fence, she leans against it, letting both him and the horse know she's there with a quiet clearing of her throat.

"We're not waiting to see if it's going to try to kick you, are we?" It's spoken as a joke, but she doesn't hop up on the fence like she tends to with the other horses. Which is somewhat telling.

The voice causes Cas to glance over his shoulder, his smile only marred for a moment by a grimace. "No— Well, I hope not. I think he would have done that earlier if he wanted to. He's still in the stage where he wants to take it off."

Speaking of it, the horse lifts his head up and starts to bob it up and down, as if he's trying to throw it off, mane whipping around in the air.

Cas can't help but smile as he looks back at him, backing away toward the fence while he watches the stallion shake his head around. The other horses occassionally look over from their grazing, but they don't seem too inclined to help.

"He's really beautiful isn't he?"

When Cas gets to the fence, Mariah's arms slip around him and her chin comes to rest on his shoulder as she looks over at the horse. "He's brilliant. Hard choice to make, yeah? I think he's a good one, though. Or will be, once he learns to live with the leathers."

Her head turns to look at Cas, her smile growing broader. There's just a moment of watching him watch the horse before she leans in to press a kiss against the hinge of his jaw. "You mind if I watch for a while? I know it's all very delicate and everything…"

"This part is pretty hands-off— if gets used to it being on there by himself it'll be easier to get it off when I walk over— and on again tomorrow," Cas explains quietly, eyes closing for a moment as he leans back against the fence and into her arms.

"He shouldn't be able to get it off unless he finds a tree to rub his face on," he adds, opening his eyes and glance back at her.

"I think he's a good choice, too— he's definitely the more independant, but I think he'll be gentle once he's trained. And he's strong enough to do quite a lot of different jobs, too."

Right now he seems more interested in nudging his face with his feathered foot.

It's a good thing it's hands off, because Mariah seems to be quite comfortable with her arms around him at the moment. "I suppose we're about to find out how good he is at problem solving, 'ey?" She smiles against his neck, although her gaze cuts over toward the horse.

"Also shows the boss you're not afraid of a challenge. Didn't you say he'd be the harder to get trained of the two you were looking at?" She looks back to Cas, taking a moment to sit herself up on the fence before she smiles up at him. "I dare say it's a partnership that's bound to work out good for both of you." Him and the horse, of course.

The arms don't bother him at the moment, nor does the fence, but if she lowers her arms or squeezes too hard there may be an issue. As if to forestall the potential worries, Cas lays his arms across hers, hoping that keeps them up.

"That's kind of why I picked him— he's a stallion, and there's a reason geldings are by far more common as trained horses. But I'll just take it slow," he leans his head to the side, pressing against hers on his shoulder as he does.

"Though I am tempted to train the mare too, honestly," he adds, looking off toward the chestnut he'd mentioned earlier.

"Have you decided against gelding him, then?" It's an important question. Because she needs to know if the horse is going to need a hug later. Her smile softens when he leans against her, and her eyes close a moment, too, before she lets out a bit of a gentle sigh. He gets a lot of those out of her lately.

"Of course you are," Mariah says with a grin, and while her arms don't lower, she does hug him then, not too tight, but tight enough to be uncomfortable at this stage. "I think you should do it. You'll be out here anyway… a little initiative is a good thing." There doesn't seem to be any doubt that he'll be able to handle it, either.
Poseorder is not enabled in this room.

The sigh that he makes isn't at all the same as hers. Cas was holding his breath for a moment when she hugged him, to try and stop the noise from coming out, but it does anyway. In the form of a soft grunt. Some of the pain shows in his voice too, when he responds, though he tries to talk over it.

"I won't geld him unless I have to. I have some hope— The longer I watched the herd the more I realized he's not the dominant male, that's the bigger roan," he points towards one of the other horses. "I haven't seen them bite at each other, either. It means he hasn't been driven off yet, and hopefully he'll be able to handle being around other males." The more he talks, the less the pain is in his voice. Perhaps the better he is at hiding it.

"I'll probably train the mare too if I have time. Getting him to remain calm around them is also a concern, so it'll be good to test him around her."

Mariah's hold on him eases at that grunt, and she looks up at him, brows furrowed as she listens to him talk. It might slip past anyone else, but it's part of her job to be attentive to small clues. And while she may not be working just now, it's something of a habit.

"Are you okay?" It may not actually be totally clear what's wrong, though, so there's some worry in her tone. There's a glance toward the horses, but she doesn't look away from him for long.

"What— oh, yeah, just a little sore, that's all," Cas says in a dismissive way, watching as the piebald seems to have calmed down from trying to rub the leather off his face… to graze.

"See, that's a good sign. He's going about his day now," he says, pointing at the grazing horse with the hand still holding the leather lead rope that will hook on to a metal loop on the halter.

And yes, it appears he's trying to dodge. A fellow dodger can spot it a mile away.

Mariah frowns a moment longer, but there's a nod at his explanation. I suppose that's understandable. Trolls and kelpie and what not." Still, her arms slip from around him, moving instead to put her hand in his. She's spotted that dodging, at least enough to be aware that she might be hurting him. There's a squeeze to his hand, too, and her smile's a bit sheepish as she looks up at him.

When he draws attention back to the horse, she turns that way and chuckles a bit. "Well, what do you know. He likes accessories after all." There's just a moment or two or reprieve, though, because she looks back up at him. "Nothing serious, yeah?"

While his dodge isn't quite dodged as well as he may have liked, it's at least not generated too much worry. Which was what Cas was trying to dodge the most. "Not really serious— I saw Cordy about it, and she gave me a tea to drink for any pain and it should heal without much else. But if anything gets worse I can always talk to Lady Aislinn about it," he offers so she doesn't have to suggest it.

Though he may not unless he starts coughing up blood. Pain he can live with.

"And he better like accessories— he's going to be wearing a lot more than that in the end," he teases with a grin, not looking discouraged even when the piebald starts to nudge the side of his head against the ground once or twice.

"Alright," Mariah says, her head dipping in a nod, "But if it gets worse, make sure you do see her. And, you know, tell me if you need… me." It's possible that sounded better in her head, or maybe that she wasn't thinking much when she opened her mouth, because she looks away a moment later. "Not that I'd be much help with, you know, medical things and the like."

She turns her attention to the horse, watching him go between eating and nudging. "He'll look good, so I think he'll adjust," she says, of his accessories, with a crooked smile.

"May have to just be extra gentle with me, is all," Cas says with a smile, twisting around enough in her hold to press a kiss against her lips. "You're usually pretty gentle with me, though," he adds, turning back around and hugging her arms against his body again. She can almost feel the bee hanging under his shirt.

"He'll look even better once I get him calm enough to brush his mane out— not to mention his feathering. He's definitely going to require a lot of grooming… but it's a good thing brushing horses is one of my favorite pasttimes, huh?"

Mariah leans into that kiss, a soft 'mm' escaping without her permission. When he turns back again, her arms stay gentle, but she leans against his shoulder again and lets her eyes stay closed for a little while. "I figure, you get roughed up enough without my help," she says with a chuckle. Teasing. In reality, the reason probably has a lot to do with the fact that she appreciates him never having left her with bruises like so many of the others, but it's hardly a reason she's going to volunteer.

And maybe a little because she's in love with him, but that isn't getting volunteered, either.

"I suppose it would be cheating if I talked to him, hmm?" With her voice being comforting like it is. She turns her head so she can look up at him, her smile gentle. "I suspect, if you didn't like that particular part of the upkeep, you'd have chosen a different horse." Her gaze lingers on him there, that smile turning dreamy. "Have I mentioned at all that I'm proud of you for this? Talking to your boss, training the horses, all this."

Violent tendancies and Cas certainly don't seem to mix. In fact if he had bruised her, he'd likely apologize profusely. Every time he saw it. It doesn't count for his own bruises, which are many— and sometimes more than others. "Hmm?" he says, as if he didn't quite remember what she's talking about regarding her voice. "Oh— does that work on a horses?"

There's genuine curiousity in his voice as he shifts to look back at her, ignoring the young stallion for a moment as he tilts his head. It's that that makes it impossible for him to hide the reaction to her compliment.

That smile widens immediately, touching his eyes, but a splash of color can also be seen, even more than the cloud obscured light could show. "Really? You're— proud of me?" The tone shows his happiness at hearing it, but tinges towards disbelief, as if he's not quite sure he's earned it. "I haven't even put a rope on him yet or anything," he adds, as he looks away and down towards the ground.

"Seems to," Mariah says with a bit of a nod, "Either that or I've just a knack for animals. I never tried the other stuff on any of them, though, so can't be sure. But, you know, it hardly seems nice to knock them out to satisfy a curiosity." Deep down, she may jut be a gentle person, too, as much as she tries not to be.

His smile makes her widen as well, and she leans in to press a kiss to his cheek. "Really, I am. You're chasing something you want. That takes guts." She looks out toward the horse, chuckling a bit at his addition. "You will, though. And the best part about it, I get to sit here and watch." She pauses a moment before she looks back at him, her smile turning impish. "I don't suppose I'd be able to convince you to do all this without a shirt, 'ey?"

For a long moment Cas looks back at her, blush fading some as he tilts his head to the side, as if he's trying to remember something. And for the most part he remains quiet as he listens to her— right up until she compliments him more and mentions doing it without a shirt. That makes him blush and look away again. "I'd sunburn! I'm pale," he says, rubbing his covered chest with his free hand. "But— I guess this place is pretty cloudy a lot of the time, so as long as it's cloudy I— maybe," he settles on.

Before he looks back at her. "I thought you could only make people who heard your voice fall asleep. I— didn't know you could do more." There's a question to his voice. "Maybe I just don't remember…" he adds quietly. "I was kind of in shock with the whole… badger on my chest thing," he says with a grin, not sure he is recalling all of it.

Mariah laughs at his blushing and protests and her arms move to drape around his shoulders instead. "I suppose I can wait, if you'd end up crispy. Plus, you might find it a bit hard to get any work done that way and me around." Not crispy, but shirtless. That impishness just seems all the worse, too, given his reaction. And it lingers right up until he looks back at her.

"Oh, well… there's a bit more to it than just that. I might not have… gone into detail. Right then. Sort of a lot to take in, badger and all." But she tilts her head, quizzical, like she's not sure herself, how much she explained. "There's the sleeping bit, but I can sort of— " She pauses there, shifting a bit as her brow furrows. "Sorry, I never actually had to explain this to anyway before." And it makes her a little nervous, apparently. "But I can sort of put people in a daze, like they got hit on the head too hard. But without the… I mean, it doesn't hurt or anything. Or leave them in a bit of a stupor. And I can… sort of… pull people in, I guess. Draw them this way." That one she's actually used around him, which might account for the fact that it's a little harder for her to admit to. Or maybe she just finds it odd herself, so expects others to as well.

As she explains, his eyes drift away, looking toward the horses as if making sure the stallion isn't getting himself in trouble. The horse seems to be more comfortable with the halter, spending much of his time walking around with a steady gait. His feathered hooves occassionally find mud, though, and that seems to distract him more than the halter did.

But it's not the horse he's actually paying attention to, but what she's saying. "There were a few mages back where I used to live, and even back home. Not… too many, but…" he trails off quietly as if he's not sure where he was going with that. "Did you— have you ever…" his question never finishes. But she can probably fill it in.

Even when he tries to talk over the unfinished part. "It could actually be helpful, though. But uh— I guess it would be cheating. I mean if you think it's cheating."

"Seems Dornie's got it's fair share, huh? Maybe more than, even." Mariah glances out to the horse, too, but less to check on it and more because she's a little worried about his reaction. The unfinished question gets her looking down at her feet, though, and letting out a bit of a sigh as her hands drop to her lap.

He goes on, but she's sort of stuck on that half-question. "I hardly have occasion to use it at all," she starts, her tone uncertain. "Sometimes, in an urgent situation, but you know. Part of keeping it a secret is being careful when I use it. I'm not sure if people can tell that something strange is happening or not, but I imagine feeling suddenly dazed is probably a little disorienting." It's possibly not the question he was meaning to ask.

"Yeah, I— imagine it is," Cas says quietly, voice nearly a whisper as he looks off into the distance again. The distancing in his voice manifests physically when he pulls away from her arms and the fence, turning to face her again with a smile that doesn't seem as wide as before.

"I should probably go get back over to him so I can remove the halter," he explains with motions in that direction. "See if he lets me pet him, too. Tomorrow, I'll have to come out here again and actually use the lead," which he holds up to show again. "And once I can get him to walk around on the lead I can move him to a more private pasture."

Even when he looks back to her, she still looks downward, watching her fingers lace together and unlace again. It's fascinating. It's also an attempt to hide a more hurt expression than she'd like to be wearing at the moment. And, at first, all she does is nod to his explanation.

But after a moment, her throat clears and she looks up at him. "Of course. Work to do and all that. I understand," she says, although it's not her usual tone. She slips back from the fence, to stand on the outside. And for a moment, it looks like she's about to turn and walk away, but she only gets half a step before she's turning back his way again.

"I mean that, you know. I don't use it very often at all. And I don't use it to try to trick people, especially not people that I care about," she says, her hands going to her hips as she speaks a bit more forcefully than usual. And a little too fast, as well. But she's nervous. "The only time I've ever used it when you've been around at all— Well, I'm not going to apologize for it, because I was trying to help. I thought it was the right thing. And I didn't know how else to stop him harassing you. I know… how he gets and maybe if I had been a bit braver, I would have just told him to leave, but I was— I just didn't want him to hit you again. And that's the only time and it wasn't even— " She stops there, her hands coming up to run through her hair before she turns again to start walking. But again, she doesn't get very far, because as much as she'd like to be upset at that distance of his, she's more worried than anything. "And, I don't even have him anymore. And I don't know why I feel like I have to explain, except that you get that look and I feel like, if I don't say something— " She ends up trailing off there, like she's not entirely sure what she's even trying to say. Which she isn't.

With her talking, Cas doesn't get very far, hesitating and wringing his hands together a little. The concern lines his forehead, and his lips press together as if he's not quite sure whether he can trust his mouth right now. His silence gives her the chance to ramble— as he often has in the past.

Still, as she is the one walking away, he takes a step forward, stopping when she stops, hand raised a bit as if he might try to reach out and stop her. Too bad there's a fence in the way. A fence he's reached again without realizing he walked that far, as his hand grips one of the rails. "I— I thought…" he tries to start when she's finally trailed off. "So you never used it on me?" he asks, still looking tense. And a little doubtful, too, despite himself. His mouth opens again, as if he wants to ask something else. Then he closes it, hesitates, and decides to ask something else entirely, "If you don't say something I'll… what?"

"No, Cas," Mariah says with a sigh, her hands dropping back to her sides. Her rambling running out gives way to that hurt expression again, which is a bit more obvious this time, as she doesn't look at her feet, but looks at him instead. "You mean something to me. I wouldn't… mess it up with something as pointless as any of that. And I want you to come to me because you want to come to me, not because I lured you over. That would be… also pointless."

When he decides on a question, she pauses for a moment, her eyebrows drawing together as she wets her lips. "I just don't want you to think ill of me." She still lingers a few steps away from the fence, but close enough that even her whispered voice carries over to him. "Beyond that whole… prostitution bit," she adds with a small, but crooked smile and a touch of a laugh on her words, "I suppose that's ill enough for anyone."

While most everything else she said was met with a headtilt, the last bit, the joke, is met with a mild shaking of his head. Cas looks back towards the horses for a moment before he returns his eyes to her, gripping the fence rail in his hand, while the other one keeps a hold of the lead rope.

"Mariah, if— if you weren't a prostitute I wouldn't have… I mean I don't think I could have— we wouldn't…" He cuts off with a grimace, pressing his lips together. "I don't think… ill of you. I think the opposite of ill of you, infact," he says, his hands finding their way into pockets of his coat, in a shruggy way.

"And I— I wasn't trying to— you don't have to leave. It shouldn't take very long and then I can… walk you home? But I understand if you'd rather… not."

There's a slight pause before Mariah steps back over to the fence, her hands moving to cup his face. "I know my… magic makes you a little… uneasy. It makes me feel that way sometimes, too. I just… I'm glad you don't think… you know."

A foot hooks on the low rung of the fence and she pushes herself up to press a gentle kiss against the corner of his lips. "I'd always rather you walk me home, Cas," she says in a soft tone, her cheek pressing against his so her words whisper against his ear.

"It isn't that it makes me uneasy exactly…" Cas says uneasily. The tone is probably a bit part of why he bites his tongue and stops talking. The kiss may also have helped with that quite a lot, as he leans in to return it, with the fence between them. As she presses her cheek against his, he closes his eyes, leaning against her.

"Good— cause I like walking you home," he says softly in return, just as whispered as hers had been.

A moment later he pulls back so that he can look her in the eyes, "So— you aren't seeing him anymore, huh?" he asks, a hint of a smile on his lips. That he is not disappointed to hear.

At all.

And as he leans against her, Mariah slides her arms around him again. Gently. "You know, you can always ask me question about it, if that would help. Or… I can… not talk about it, if that'd be better. Whatever would be… more comfortable, I suppose."

When he leans back, she sticks close, seeing as his whisper brings a smile back to her face. "Will you stay?" After the walk home, that is. There's even a bit of a hopefulness in that tone, and she bites gently on her bottom lip as she looks up at him.

That question gets an eyebrow lifted in return, and her smile turning more amused. She answers with a shake of her head, though. "I don't see him anymore, no. The other girls do just fine, as it turns out. And I just… couldn't. Anymore." Whatever that means.

"If I start asking questions about it I may never stop," Cas admits with a small lopsided grin, as he looks over at her, then back toward the horses. Not just checking on them, though, it would seem.

"And I would want to see it in action to… maybe you could help me with the mare and I'll handle the stallion? To be fair— er." Possibly still cheating, but it would mean he could still present the stallion as all his training.

"And I'm glad you don't see him anymore. I didn't like him. He… didn't treat you well." Understatement from the way he's saying it. As if he thinks he treated her even worse than he suspects. "Kinda feel sorry for the other girls, in fact."

He leans forward again, to kiss her over the fence, before he finally lets go of the rail. "I'll stay with you if you want me to."

Mariah chuckles at that, probably finding it all too likely. "Well, that'd be alright." She glances toward the horses, too, but then back to him again. "You could… see it in action, I suppose. You'd have to cover your ears, though." Her head tilts at the offer, her smile amused, "I'd love to help. If it'd be alright. You can teach me a thing or two about horse training."

As for Jain, her head tilts a bit at the matter of his treatment, "It's… complicated. But no one's obligated to take him. If they don't want to, they can turn him away as well. Him or anyone else." Her hands move to his arms and she leans in a bit closer. "I'm happier now, though." Whether she means just this moment or her state in general, it's hard to say.

She meets him for that kiss, holding onto his sleeve. And she seems a little reluctant to let it end when he lets go, and she ends up shifting to sit on the rail instead, pulled over by a desire to be close to him. "Oh, I definitely want you to," she says with a crooked, but genuine smile.

The topic of Jain isn't exactly one Cas wants to think too much more on, past his relief that she's no longer spending nights with him. That alone is enough to have made him smile— and be relieved that the other girls can turn him away if they want to. Hopefully without being afraid of retaliation.

The horse-talk made him nod a little too, nod and smile. less relieved and more interested. "I look forward to seeing it in action." Even if he's not going to be allowed to hear it in action.

"Don't go anywhere," he adds, stepping forward again to press a kiss against her lips. "Cause I definitely want to as well." In case there was any doubt.

With that said, he turns away and wanders over to the horse with the leather accessory. And if he spends less time petting the stallions neck or running fingers along his mane than he intended… who can really blame him.