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Walking Back From The Range...

Walking back from the range...
D'Alaire — 15 Sep 1998, 4:35 PM

"Oh, c'mon, B'Elanna, you did great!" Tom said as they led their horses back to the stables. "You're getting really good at those rock drops, you know."

"Don't fool around with me, Tom," she said, huffing her breath.

"I'm not foolin'! B'Elanna, jumping down a rockface ain't a big deal, you just have to use your center of gravity and lean back on the steed, then squeeze--"

"Look, you might find doing all those horsetricks really dandy," she returned, swinging the bridle around like a lasso in front of as she walked, "but I'm not gonna hurt my horse messing around on those rocks." She spun the rope even faster, letting the rope's length grow larger, the spin despite it faster. "I only went down there because you tricked me into following you into the gorge--"

"Hey!" Tom cut in, then grabbed the rope. "Easy with that--you can take someone's eye out with that thing!"

She let out her breath, stopped, faced him. "I did the rock drop, and now we're going back. Okay?"

He nodded once, pulled the rope--and her--close up to him. "You're goregous when your feisty, B'Elanna," he grinned.

"I am not feisty!"

He opened his mouth to reply, but Intrepid had a better idea -- and shoved his muzzle inbetween them, brurring loudly and shaking his head.

B'Elanna jumped back and laughed as the wiped off her face. "Well, now I know you trained this one! He's as pushy as you are!"

Tom grinned a little, wrapping his hand around Intrepid's bridle again. "C'mon, B'Elanna, we'd best get back now before the race starts."

She took a long breath, looking over to him. "I suppose," she said, noting how he'd suddenly grown serious. She paused, trying to catch his eyes with hers. "Don't want to get too hot out here in this blazing sun, do we?"

Finally, he turned a long stare over at her. "Yeah, I'd suppose not," he said softly. Starting off down the trail again, he led Intrepid around a patch of burrs, glancing back to see if B'Elanna missed them, too. She was trying not to look at him. Once they were around the weeds, he turned forward again, and grinned.

When they got back to the festival grounds, they were talking again, checking out the competition as they passed them and making bets between themselves--they both knew for a fact the Kazon couldn't ride their way out of a puddle, even if their horses were pretty good. (It was a rumor in those parts that all their horses were stolen, anyway--they weren't smart enough to breed their own.)

After passing the Kazon groups, they slowed a little, noting the funny looking wagon and the croud forming around it.

Tom's eyes immediately lit up when he saw "seer" written on the side. "Hey, after the race, you want to come and get your fortune told?"

She laughed. "I don't believe in that stuff, Tom! Besides, I've got the horses to tend to after the race--we both do."

"Oh come on, B'Elanna, it's just a little fun, and it won't take long. Come on, give it a try. It can't hurt nothin' -- I'm buyin' if you're comin'."

"What to those seers do anyway? They don't know the future for real."

"How can you say that if you've never tried?" he returned, dripping with the challenge. Her responding stare told him immediately he'd roped her good. So, he decided to pull her in all the way. "You come have your fortune told, and I'll even help you shuck the shoes tonight? How's that?"

The turned a wise grin to him. "You got yourself a deal."

"Good," he said, then, "Can I snoop in on your fortune?"

B'Elanna shook her head, grinning. "Tom Janeway, you're as impossible that stallion of yours," she said with mock impatience, just waiting for his reply.

In that fashion, they continued into the stable, oblivious to her father, who watched from across at the water troth.