6:00 am in the middle of March meant chilly temps in the mid 30's and darkness for at least another hour. The forecast predicted that by midday it would be almost in the 60's with plenty of sunshine. Not a cloud in the sky and no more snow for at least a week; it was going to be perfect weather for riding.

The redhead's stiff yet well-worn boots crunched on the gravel leading up to the barn, her breath puffed out in small white clouds as she sauntered across the yard. Duke, her gangly young wolfhound trotted at her side his paws quiet despite his size. In the span of a couple of months, he had doubled in size, stretching out to nearly 5 feet long and standing almost to her waist. He was alert as they reached the large door, her small hands easily working the lock and sliding the giant door aside on well-oiled hinges. Lights fixed to the high ceiling flickered on, cast just enough light to illuminate the inside so people don't trip or run into things.

“So, who wants ta get out an’ stretch their legs?” Tia's voice was quiet in the big space but carried, several large equine heads poked out of stalls in response. Their ears quirked forward as they listened for more sounds, noses flaring to take in the new scents she and Duke carried with them. Smiling as she heard a shrill whiney the female shook her head, heading for the last stall on the left. “Mo you are a clown.” Giggling quietly she opened the stall, watching in quiet amusement as the Appaloosa pranced his way out. He did a little dance down the center aisle as if he were teasing the others and then rounded back to her side.

“Ya may pay fer tha’ later ya goof.” The Ailward went into the tack room, gathering up the things she would need to prep and saddle the horse for a good long ride. By the time it was 7 Mojo was ready to go, the big beast shifting his weight from side to side impatiently. Tia hummed quietly though, unperturbed by the horse's attitude. In a serene fashion, she worked her way around him, check all the fastenings and straps along with his hooves. It was a routine they were both accustomed to and one that was necessary for a trail ride, or any ride really.

Just as she deemed it all in good condition Duke swung around and gave a warning huff, letting her know that their company had arrived.

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The phoenix listened to Tia as she smiled when she agreed to be friends. "No problem." She said as she smiled while Maggie came to a stop so she can graze with Mo. Sapphire looked at Tia as she talked about her horse choices. The phoenix smiled as she chuckled. "Well I am just a big animal lover so I would love to have alot of animals but being a guard and a company owner makes it difficult to have alot of animals." Sapphire said as she looked at her. The smile on Sapphire's face got bigger when Tia mentioned on talking to some of her contacts about horses. "Really? You would help me find a horse or two?" She asked as she smiled more. 

It was different for someone doing something nice for Sapphire. Yes she had a few close friends who would risk their lives for her and would help her with anything. But this was different was different from her close friends, Sapphire had just met Tia today and she was already offering to help her find a horse or two. This made Sapphire happy that she is getting closer to the Aspects but mostly happy that she was going to have maybe two new family members in her little family she had. 

"A'course!" Tia chuckled, making a little face as she looked over at Sapphire. Once deep inside the meadow the two horses stopped moving altogether, taking an occasional step this way or that if they found or smelled an especially tasty morsel they wanted to sample. It was a special treat about going up on these trail rides they were able to indulge in, as long as she didn't let them take too much. Otherwise horses with upset stomachs could be worse than sick toddlers. "I'm always happy ta help out another friend. Especially when it comes ta horses."

The redhead looked up at the sky, using her hand to shield her eyes as she gauged the height of the sun and where they were at. "Let's keep movin'. There's a lake 'bout 30 minutes from here we can take a drink at before headin' back." Pulling on the reins she dug her heels into Mo's sides, getting a little bit a protest from the stubborn horse but after a little argument he knew he was going to lose the male was smart and gave up. Leaning forward with a grin Tia patted his flank with a grin, "Smart boy."

Looking back over at Sapphire she gave the Guard a wink, "So what's business were ya talkin' about?"

Sapphire smiled at Tia as she glanced at the horses grazing. As Tia spoke about a lake, Sapphire looked at her and smiled as she watched Tia pull on the reins. Sapphire soon pulled on the reins on Maggie and let her walk along side Mo as she heard Tia ask about her business. "Oh You mean my job besides being a guard? Or something else." Sapphire said in confusion as she was hoping to talk alittle about her side job. "Well my business is owning a game company. It was passed down from my father after he passed so its kinda my job to give the developers some new game ideas and help them achieve it into becoming something that people may buy. I also get ideas from other people and make sure they are credited it to them in the games along with giving them some money from the profits." Sapphire said as she looked at Tia.

Hoping that she didnt confuse the Aspect, Sapphire smiled softly. "How about we talk about something other than my side job? Plus being out here with the horses is getting my mind off working on game development right now." She siad with a chuckle. The phoenix lightly patted Maggie on the neck as she smiled at Tia once more. "Lets talk about relationships? Unless you want to talk about something else." She said as she waited for the Aspect to reply. The phoenix hoped that she wasnt talking too much for the Aspect as she didnt want to get on her nerves for talking so much.

Aurantia listened with interest as the Phoenix explained her second job, detailed put all that it entailed. In this 21st Century age of technology and revenue, it was essential for the Ailward's to get involved in the modern world, even more so now that the Isle was gone which meant secondary jobs. Many of the Guard had started second jobs that played to their strengths and even she had broken into the market by using her talents in a way that helped their cause. Given that she was a country gal at heart the redhead didn't have much time for television much less video games so the concepts the Guard was explaining were foreign but the premise was easy enough to follow.

"Wow. Tha's cool. I had no idea we had anyone with those kinda talents in tha Guard." Tia grinned and would have asked more questions however Sapphire didn't seem very keen to want to discuss her second job. In fact, she detracted away from the subject pretty quickly and the Aspect took the hint. Her eyebrows rose curiously as her grin grew downright huge at the blonde's suggested topic, chuckling as they continued up the trail. "Relationships huh?" Still sporting a knowing grin she shook her head, "Naw I'm good talkin' 'bout jus' 'bout anythin' really."

Adjusting her ball cap, her sky blue hues dancing she reached for her canteen and took a nice long swig of water before pinning the other female with a curious look. "Who's tha fella' ya got on yer mind darlin'? An' wha's tha problem?" Tia had never been one of those women who beat around the bush, well at least not with most people. She had done that a bit with Clay in the beginning but worth everyone else she spoke her mind and often said what everyone else was thinking. If was a gift and a curse that she wasn't going to apologize for nor was she going to change. If the Phoenix was going to be her Guard she might as well get used to it now.

Sapphire smiled as Tia told her that she could talk about anything. Watching the red head take a drink, the phoenix blushed when she asked about someone she had on her mind. Her mind went straight to Crane as she blushed alittle more. Sapphire knew that she needed to grow trust with Tia so she let out a sigh and looked at the redhead. "Well there is a guard I like but I bet he might like someone other than me." She said softly as she pulled her short hair back alittle, rubbing her neck. "To tell you the truth, I havent really had a crush in a long time because I focused more on being a guard than my social or love life. But this guard gets along with my pups and makes me feel all warm inside." Sapphire said as she blushed more, looking at the redhead. "But I just think he would only want to be friends with me." She said softly.

The phoenix grew alittle sad about if she was rejected as she patted the horse's neck. She glanced up at the redhead as she waited for what she had to say. Normally Sapphire would open up to only few people but since she was guarding Tia, she wanted to be open with her so she can trust her and maybe become friends other than being protector and the protected. "What about you?" She asked as she smiled softly at her. "Is there any fella on your mind?" She asked as she started to pin back some of her hair so she wouldnt get too hot outside even though she was a phoenix.

The Aspect of Elements listened intently, knowing that what was being divulged was important to the blonde FireLord. Matters of the heart were always the hardest to talk about, not only was it difficult to admit your own feelings to yourself but to talk to someone else about them sometimes seemed an impossible task. Talking things out though was good, it allowed a person to reason things put and there was something therapeutic about voicing the thoughts that ran rampant through the mind. Based upon the blush that colored Sapphire's cheeks Tia knew it would be a male they would be discussing before the Guard even opened her mouth to speak the first word. Smiling as she looked over and nodded her head Tia couldn’t help but grow fond of the young woman, despite the fact that they didn't know one another but a few hours now.

“A crush c’n be a hard thing ta handle. On tha one hand ya think her entire world is brighter an’ every time tha’ person looks yer way yer stomach flutters an’ yer heart stops beatin’.” Tia remembered all to well what that felt like, it had been where she at not too long ago with Clay. “But on tha other hand yer terrified a’ them findin’ out ‘cause rejection isn’ somethin’ yer prepared ta deal with. Nor is seein’em with someone else.” It was a tough spot to be in all the way around but each person had to come up with what they felt was the best way of dealing. For her, well it had been suddenly spouting too much and that had lead to a revelation that the man she had been mooning after had the same feelings about her.

Chuckling as Mo lead them down to the side of them around the winding path Tia nodded, her eyes matching that of the sky as she looked over at her traveling companion. “I’ve always gotta fella on my mind. Clayton Forrester. We moved in together ‘bout 4 months ago, been doin’ good since. He’s a Valkyr rancher that I met a couple’a years ago, we both had the same interests and started some night rides together and I started ta develop a small crush.” She giggled a bit at the memory, shooting a wink at the female Guard as she adjusted herself in her saddle. “One day he asked me a question tha’ made me nervous an’ when I git nervous I git all jittery an’ start spewin’ at the mouth. Well I let slip my feelin’s and well, here we are as they say.”

Sapphire smiled as she listened to Tia. Hearing about having a crush was hard as Sapphire thought that was definitely true on that part as thats how she felt when she was with Crane but she knew that Crane would either want to be just friends or just not like her like she liked him. She nodded in agreement as she smiled. "That is one thing I am terrified about, rejection. Im not afraid of many things but I am afraid of that." She said as she looked at her and smiled softly. As the horse Sapphire was on followed Mo and Tia, Sapphire listened to Tia talk about Clay. The firebird never really met Clay but has heard of him. She continued to listen as she smiled softly as she giggled alittle. "So he asked you to be his girlfriend that made you nervous?" She asked as she wanted to know if she was right. "To tell you the truth, I go both ways." She said as she glanced at Tia for a reaction. "Im Bisexual so I am into guys and girls. Alot of the guards show me kindness but with one certain guard, I just feel that my heart will explode when I am with him. But if I do get rejected, I will still just be my loving self and try harder to find someone that will love me for me." Sapphire said.

The phoenix continued to ride as she waited on the reaction from Tia but also going back to thinking about what would Crane say if she told him that she had a crush on him. 'Well hopefully if he doesnt feel the same then we can still be friends.' She thought for a moment as she looked at the sky for a moment as she let the wind go through her hair that was pinned up. She sighed softly as she then looked back at Tia as she smiled alittle.

The redhead lead the horses around the lake, heading back in the direction of the trail that they had just come from. The conversation continued as they made their way back below the cover of the trees, once more allowing the pair of them to ride side by side. Laughing lightly at Sapphire’s comment she adjusted her ball cap, resting the reins loosely across her lap so that her hands were free. “Rejection is apart’a life darlin’. If ya aren’ willin’ ta put yer heart out there an’ possibly git it stomped on then is it really worth tha risk?” Pressing her palms against her thighs she stretched her back out, twisting this way and that in the saddle while Mo expertly handled the paths they had walked everyday. Aurantia was fairly certain that she could fall asleep in the saddle right now and she would wake up in an hour or so and find that Mo would be waiting patiently just outside of the barn for her to wake up.

Grinning wide the Aspect shook her head, “Naw, he asked me a question ‘bout some such thing an’ it made me nervous. Then tha’ lead inta a different conversation an’ I ended up confessin’ mah feelin’s.” That night stuck out in her mind clear as day, one of her favorite memories to think about when her mind wandered.

Grabbing up the reins in a loose grip once more the Southern woman cocked one eyebrow at the young firebird Guard as she revealed something that she obviously thought would shock her. “And? Darlin’ this is tha 21st century, lots’a people are comin’ out as all sorts’a thangs. I’m glad ya feel open enough ta share this with me bu’ ya shouldn’ act like yer sexual perferences make ya some anomaly. Ya are who ya are.” Tia felt almost as if she were being a little too defensive, however she knew her brothers and sisters would care who the Guard loved and didn’t know a single Guard who would discriminate either. She at least wanted to get that straight.

“I think if ya like this fella’ ya need ta go out on a limb an’ see wha’ he says. Even if ya git rejected at least ya can say ya tried.” Tia shrugged her shoulders and nodded, as if that were some great sagely advice she had just dropped on the young Guard.

Sapphire listened to the redheaded Aspect as her horse followed behind her with the help of Sapphire leading her in the direction. The phoenix looked at her as she loosened the reins of her hold to watch Tia. Sapphire smiled as she listened to her as she nodded. "I agree on taking a risk, maybe I should." She said softly as she grabbed the reins again as she was quiet surprised by Tia's reaction when Sapphire came out to her. "Thanks, some people would probably not talk to me if they knew but now a days I am glad that I am out and having alot of people to accept me for me." She said as she looked at her. "My father wouldnt of been happy if I told him but I think he would understand if he was still alive." She said as the two talked about relationships.

A blush came across Sapphire's cheeks as she looked at Tia. "I-I dont know." She said as she looked down at the horse she was riding before sighing. "You are right, I should at least try and tell him how I feel. Maybe he would feel the same way or he would just reject me but you are right, I can still say I tried." She said with a small smile as she looked at Tia. "I might tell him the next time we hang out which we do that quite often since we live in the same house and my pups love his company." She said with a chuckle as she remembered how Nala would react when Crane would come to her room. Sapphire looked at Tia and smiled. "Thanks for the advise. I rarely get advise now a days and sometimes its nice to have someone close to talk to that isnt a guy." She said as she smiled and patted the horse's neck. 

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