(1940-02-28) Ride On
Details for Ride On
Summary: Faulkner takes it upon himself to show Rena a good time and get her out of the city into some good country air for a little surprise jaunt.
Date: 1940-02-28
Location: Out in the country

It's near dawn, not far from Biggin Hill. Birdie has been flying all week, so he's finally rated a day on the ground, and he's cabled Rena to know where she might find him, if she's available. When she arrives, she will find that he's ready - with two saddled horses. And where, one might wonder, did Mr. Faulkner find a horse with a side-saddle? The simple answer is a mate in the Squadron knew a bloke who had a friend with a farm not far away. But that, really, is beside the point.

To say that Rena has a surprise in store when she arrives at the place is a bit of an understatement. She really needs to invest in some country-worthy shoes. This city-girl footwear is anything but appropriate for these jaunts out into the open lands beyond London. It's also a given that she's probably wearing the same sort of clothing she generally wears – a tailored skirt suit of some description – beneath her new overcoat. Birdie will probably notice that the brand new coat may follow feminine lines, but it is most definitely similar in hue to the RAF uniform.
“Birdie?” The small redhead calls out, becoming somewhat timid in her approach as she spots the horses. She's not afraid of them… just a little uncertain. “What on earth?” She asks with a little laugh.

"Well, you've tried a plane. You've tried other things. I thought it was time that you tried a horse. Besides, it makes for a good day out in the country, so to speak." Faulkner is giving one of the horses a little pet on the neck as he stands next to it. "Though I guess I should have told you to wear something more appropriate. Not that I mind if you show a little leg…"

Surely Faulkner had the foresight to pick a quiet animal for Irene to ride. Something spirited would spell inevitable disaster for a quiet day in the country.
“Me? Ride?” She asks, her voice rising into a slightly higher and thinner tone. He knows her well enough by now to judge by the tiny smile, the wide eyes and the near-squeak in her voice that she's excited – if a little nervous. “But, I've never ridden before. I don't even know 'ow … how to get up.”
Stepping closer, the little woman sizes up the large creatures from hoof to ear, and she swallows hard. They seem to loom very large indeed, now that she's right next to them. Timidly, she reaches out her gloved hand to the one nearest her, and it snuffles at it curiously.

Giggling a little, Irene casts a glance at Birdie from around the horse's nose at his remark and wrinkles her nose at him a little: “You're a cad, you know it?” %r

"Wholly caddish, yes, I know." Faulkner agrees with her, chuckling to himself and then removing a piece of apple from his pocket for his mount and letting it eat out of the palm of his hand, then handing one over to Irene to do the same. "I'll help you up." he says, with a little shrug, "I should have thought, too, to bring you some wellies or something. I should have known that you'd wear court shoes out to tromp around in the country." A knowing wink, and he says, "We'll just have to teach you something about town and country one of these days. Or you can join the WAAF. Life is so much easier when you don't need to worry about what to put on in the morning." He walks over behind her and wraps an arm around her waist, giving her his own little nuzzle against her neck. "It's good to see you, Irene. I missed you."

It's funny how everything can change in a short amount of time. Irene used to be so sad, so often. Now, she's always smiling whenever she's with Faulkner. In a way, he always seems to bring out the best in her, eventually.
Still rather timid, she accepts the bit of apple from Birdie and then carefully mimics the way he held it out for the horse. She smiles with almost childlike delight when the animal nickers and quickly takes it from her hand. Irene truly does have a great deal to learn about a good many things in the real world, outside of the atrophied existence she used to endure.
“Cor, I wish I could,” she replies. “If I didn't already 'ave a full-time job that's always got me on-call, I'd join the WAAF in a heartbeat.” Oh, to be a normal person…
The affectionate embrace and the nuzzle against her neck causes Irene to smile with a light sigh. Leaning against Faulkner for the moment, just enjoying the nearness of him, she answers: “I missed you too, darling. I can't ever seem to get you off my mind when we're away from each other.”

"I understand, you know I'm teasing you, at least a little bit. Though you did fill out the uniform nicely." He gives her a little squeeze and kisses her on the cheek, though he blushes a bit, unseen, when she calls him darling. "This is Charlotte, by the way. Charlotte, this is Irene." He pets the roan horse's neck as he makes the introductions.

“Oh, nice to meet you, Charlotte – a pleasure, I'm sure,” Irene responds by addressing herself to the horse in question with a grin. Glancing in either direction, though, the young woman leans in and adds with a whisper: “Confidentially, as you may or may not 'ave 'eard, I don't know the first thing about riding. So, I'll try not to embarrass you.”
For her part, Charlotte listens with some measure of polite eagerness before looking at her four-footed companion as if to say: “This ought to be rich…”
Standing up straight, Irene looks to Faulkner with a mischievous glint in her dark eyes and she says: “Is this all part of your devious plan to make sure that I'm fit for inspection when I meet your family? If I can manage to be a good student, I'll make a right proper lady, yet.”

"We'll get you something tweed. It'll be fine." Faulkner tells her, then offers his hand, "Okay, just put your hand here and…" he bends down to give her a hand up so that she can step into his cupped hands and be hoisted into the saddle. "Now, I'm not totally familiar with these, since I ride astride, but I you hook your leg over this part here…" He lets her start to get settled, giving her a few pointers on balance and the like. Taking it easy. This is easier than a broom, right? Except for having a mind of its own.

Take a deep breath, Irene, and everything will be just fine. Don't think about the size, don't think about the height, don't think about the fact that you can't cushion yourself with magic if you fall…
Following Teacher's orders, Irene uses Faulkner for a leg up and does a bit of a shaky turn as she finds herself up atop Charlotte's back. Getting settled isn't as easy as it seems in films. Nerves have her trembling slightly, and she feels very unsteady, despite the broadness of the mare's back when compared with a broom.
Carefully lifting one leg over the odd horn-like part of the saddle, Irene suddenly loses her precarious balance and starts to slide off the other side. Gasping sharply, she just manages to save herself by a thread and set herself right again. Flashing a bit of a sheepish smile at Faulkner, she takes up the reigns – or makes an attempt at it. “Not so bad, eh?” She asks nervously.

Faulkner picks up the little shoe and slips it back on Irene's foot like she's Cinderella or something, then gives her leg a bit of a pat. He walks over to where he's stashed a few things - lunch among them, and comes back with a lady's riding crop, which is a little longer than his - though his is interestingly obviously quite old, engraved with the older insignia of the Royal Flying Corps on its ivory butt-end, now a bit yellowed with age. "Here you go." he says, securing it around her wrist with his thong. He can only give somewhat basic instruction on how the side-saddle works, since he doesn't ride that way, "But I'll find you a proper instructor, just let me ask around. Exposure to some other nice ladies will probably do you some good." Faulkner will no doubt pick someone that will be a suitably good influence.

Birdie isn't an expert rider, but he's been doing it a long time, and he's spry for his age, so there's no real strain on his horse as he bends his long legs and all but vaults up into the saddle and takes a practiced seat, knees together against the thin pad of the English saddle. "Oh, this is Bruce, by the way." he says, introducing his gelding, who spins obediently almost in place.

Irene does her best not to look unnerved by so much information being placed before her at once. It's hard to take it all in, especially given the fact that she's mounted precariously on top of a horse side-ways and trying not to do anything foolish to upset Charlotte. Suddenly, she finds herself with a riding crop in her hand, and scarcely any idea how to use it properly.
“Would you really, Birdie? Find an instructor, that is.” She asks as he mounts up. Clearly she likes the idea. As much as she may joke about learning to be a lady, it truly is something that she wants. “How do you do, Bruce?” Irene adds with a grin.
Drawing herself up and finding a little courage, Irene tries to tug at the reigns on one side, and give Charlotte a light touch with the crop as instructed. The mare kindly obliges and takes a slow step or two, with the woman teetering slightly on her back. “Cor! I'm doing it,” She breathes, quite surprised at herself, and pleased over this tiny triumph.

"Well, blimey." Faulkner says, deadpan, at her expression, then gives her a reassuring smile, "You've got it. Charlotte is a nice easy ride. I didn't want to get you a fire-breather the first time out." Indeed, she might notice that Charlotte is quite willing to follow Bruce around when they get started. He stops the information overload, and just lets her get used to it, giving a few pointers in how to get her walking in the right direction. He manages to keep up easily enough.

Irene, not being a fully fledged Lady by any definition of the word, replies to Faulkner's deadpan “Blimy” by sticking out her tongue. He may be the teacher, but she's a handful of a student – he'll find that out, all in good time.
Charlotte heaves a small, beleaguered sigh at the nervous woman on her back, and probably rolls her eyes a little when no one is looking. She's seen it all before, and this silly goose is no different from any beginner.
Always one to jump a little too soon, and never one to realize one must walk before learning to run, Irene decides she would like to see if she can handle a quicker walk. Without a word, she gives the mare a little flick with the riding crop, and Charlotte moves into a slow jog – much to the woman's delight.

Faulkner breaks Bruce into a little jog to keep up, though he never has to use the crop, just sitting up a little more and giving the proper, subtle clues so that it sets off to keep him abreast of Irene. "Yes, I was serious about finding other people to help. You're too much too handle for just little old me. I don't know if that's because you're a redhead, or because you're part Irish. You know what they say about the Micks, after all."

Laughing gaily, Irene is absolutely thrilled to find that she seems to have a knack for horseback riding, after all. Of course, a great deal of credit ought to go to the even temperament and gentle, long-suffering spirit of Charlotte. Without that, it would be a very different story, indeed.
Faulkner's remark causes Irene a little pause. It's as good a time as any to practice reigning her horse in, and she manages to slow the mare back down to a walk, and then a stop. Narrowing her eyes and tilting her head slightly, the little redhead replies: “No, I don't know. What do they say about 'Micks'?” If her seat weren't so unsteady, she would cross her arms over her chest as she speaks.

"That they're hot tempered, of course!" Faulkner replies, with a laugh. He does enjoy pushing her buttons now and again, "Not calm, reasonable, civilized people like we English. Though our repeated campaigns of terror might have had something to do with that. Still, it's a nice place to visit."

Irene's mouth opens and closes a couple of times before words finally come to her. “Hot tempered, are we?” She asks, her cheeks tinged with red. “Uncivilized, are we? Humph!”
A small exclamation of outrage follows her little outburst, and Charlotte puts her ears back as if to say: “Now, that's enough!” However, being a new, ignorant rider, Irene can't tell that the otherwise docile mare doesn't care for her tone. Thoughtlessly, the young woman huffs and gives her mount a sharp little swat on the hindquarters – which, in turn, causes Charlotte to give a startled jump. This time, she doesn't trot; but rather, she lurches into an immediate canter. To anyone with experience, it's nothing to be worried about, but for Irene, it's positively terrifying, and she loses her grip on the reigns almost instantly.

Faulkner is taken something by surprise as Irene takes off like a hare on the back of Charlotte, and in combination of laughing at her huffing and the bolting of the horse, Bruce bucks a bit and the pilot almost goes flying himself. "Oh, for the love of…" he says, as he grips tight with his thighs and tries to hold on. He's not going anywhere just yet, and says, "I'll be right there, Irene, just as soon as…" he tries valiantly to gentle the horse, who is now getting well and truly annoyed at it's companion and rider both.

Given her bad-tempered little outburst, Irene well and truly deserves whatever she gets from the situation, now. Charlotte is more than a little confused and irritated by the mixed (and wrong) signals coming from her mount, and she pins her ears back against her neck, intensifying the speed.
What is it people say to stop horses? Whoa, isn't it? “Whoooa! Nice girl, Charlotte! Nice 'orse…” Irene pleads with her mount to no avail as the “nice horse” zigs when the girl expects her to zag. It's no surprise that the end results in the horse going one way, and the human going another. Tumbling to the ground, Irene lands with a soft thud and rolls to a stop on the grass. Being rid of her rider, Charlotte immediately stops running and comes to a dead stop. There must be something in the brush she can eat.

Faulkner barely manages to keep his seat long enough to get Bruce calmed down so that he can jump off and over to Irene. "Are you okay?" he asks, in a voice tinged with concern as he kneels down next to her, "You didn't hurt yourself, did you? I'm sorry I got you so riled, I didn't mean to." He glances over at Charlotte and shakes his head at the poor horse. It's not her fault, after all.

Irene's natural reaction to everything is to just lay there on the ground with her eyes closed for a while. When Faulkner kneels down beside her, asking if she's alright, one eye slowly opens and fixes on him. Groaning softly, the young woman opens her other eye and pushes herself up and onto her elbows. “Nothing wounded but my pride,” she answers, wryly. “It's my own bloody fault, anyway.” Pausing a moment, Irene looks over Faulkner and smirks: “I'm supposed to be on my feet or at least sitting in a chair when you get down on your knee. Not lying on my back.” She can't be very hurt if she's making light of the situation.

"This is a special situation." Faulkner says, and then stands before bending over and putting both hands out to give her a bit of help getting back up, "I promise that next time, it will be more romantic. And I should have known better than to distract you when you were dealing with being on horseback for the first time. Still, nothing for it now. As they say, you just have to get back on the horse."

With Faulkner's help, Irene gets back on her feet and regains her equilibrium after a moment. She teeters a bit unsteadily at first, but then, she seems to be alright. Upon being told that she must get back on her horse, she laughs and winces, rubbing her sore landing gear with one hand: “Oh no - please, do I 'ave to?”
Naturally, Irene is just pretending to be difficult. She has every intention of getting back on top of things, no matter how battered she may feel. Moving over to Charlotte, she recaptures the reigns and leads her back over to Faulkner so that he can give her another leg up.
“Word of honor, Charlotte – no more monkey business,” she says, addressing the mare. As for Faulkner, she adds: “And you stop apologizing, Teacher. I've been a bad student.”

"Well, I was the one saying things about the Irish. I should have given more thought." Faulkner says, shaking his head as he bends to give her a leg up and back onto the saddle. "This is just your first time out, so take it easy. It can take a long time to become an accomplished rider. I've had the advantage of doing it since I was a child."

Irene's expression falls momentarily, but she recovers with a faint smile: “Sometimes, I wish I'd 'ad an upbringing a little more like yours. Only things I've been doing since I were a child is dancing, singing and acrobatic tricks. You know, the only green I ever saw until I turned eleven were the parks in London… and with patches on my dress and all, I never really felt quite right going places like that.”
The young woman gently prods Charlotte into a peaceful walk. They can just ride together calmly, now. It's rather like walking together, somewhere that is peaceful and quiet – it's really quite lovely.
“Can I 'ave a kite?” Irene asks rather abruptly. It may possibly be the most absurd question Faulkner has ever had put to him in his life. “As a kid, I'd watch the others in the parks sometimes and see them flying their kites.” She explains. “I always wanted one, but… I never 'ad one. Then, of course, by the time we 'ad enough money to buy a few trivial things, I was 'too old' for that sort of thing. I never got to fly one.” And, for whatever reason, this thought makes her sad.

"One is never too old to fly a kite." Faulkner says, with certainty. "Though I might query why, once you started working and making money, you didn't buy one. There's a difference between being a spendthrift and spending at least a little something on things that make you happy - that's not a waste, it's an investment." He waves a hand, and says, "So, yes, of course you can have a kite. Though I don't know where you get one. Harrods would probably have it, they have everything. A toy store?" What's the equivalent of F.A.O. Schwartz.

“I don't know,” Irene says, glancing down. “After I left school and all, I was afraid to do all the things I never got to do as a kid because of the way people would look at me. It isn't as though I 'ad a younger relative or child of my…” Her voice stops, and she swallows hard before lifting her chin to continue. Her mind still isn't exactly alright with going there.
“I went back to the theatre, stubbornly after school was done – just for a little while. Then, when I realized it were better to take the job I trained for (deadly as it is) I began that career. And… well, fact is, I'm always under scrutiny. I've got everything against me. I'm young and inexperienced, and I'm a mud-blood, as they say. I was afraid if I did the things I wanted and lived the way I wanted, it would go worse for me.”
Pausing, the young woman sighs. “All for nothing. I'm not socially acceptable anyway, so, I might as well enjoy myself.”

"Who gives a fig what they think, anyway." Faulkner says, lightly, as if moving on from that subject of conversation, "I think you're smashing." He gives Bruce reign a little bit and lets him canter out in front of Charlotte before swinging in a wide circle to come up beside Irene. "Youth and inexperience are solved by time. As for the quality of your blood - well, we still have plenty of notions about that ourselves. They were the ones that justified the slave trade and all sorts of other terrible things."

A look of genuine gratitude and loving appreciation drifts over to Faulkner as he reigns in beside her so that they can go side by side. Smiling, Irene says: “You never make me feel small, the way other people do, Birdie. And you never make it feel like you're trying to fix me when you teach me, as if I were some broken doll in need of mending.”
Giving his words extra thought, Irene falls silent for a few moments before adding with a look of determination: “Well, it'll stop with us, yea? When we 'ave children, we'll raise them right. Strong and straight, and lacking in ugly notions about class distinction.”
Chuckling at herself, the young woman says: “Birdie, I'm sorry. I probably embarrass you sometimes. I can't help it, though. It seems so natural to talk about 'aving a family with you.”

"It's fine." Birdie says, "You already know that I want us to have a family, too. I hope that God smiles on us in that way. As for me…" He sits straight up in the saddle and gives her an aristocratic pose with his hand on his hip, "I will have you know that I am an utter snob. It's just that I think that the things that should define us have nothing to do with blood. Like I've told you, good manners, learning, being pleasant to be around… all those things are learned skills. It doesn't matter where you come from." He thinks for a moment, and says, "How about an English quote, for once - or an American one, at least. 'There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.' Hemingway."

Irene can scarcely be blamed for giggling as Faulkner strikes a haughty pose in the saddle. She raises one hand to try and cover the expression and stifle the laughter, but her dark eyes sparkle with mirth.
Lowering her hand to retake the reign she released before, the young woman listens intently to the quote, and tilts her head to one side like a thoughtful little sparrow: “I rather like that, actually,” she says at length. “But, tell me, Mister Flight Leftenant Snob-Hill Faulkner, why on earth did you pick a Showgirl from the waterfront in Wapping for your future wife?” She asks, teasingly. Although they clearly fit together like glove in hand, from the outside looking in, they do seem a very odd couple.

Faulkner grows more serious, dropping the pose he had struck before, and says, "Sometimes, someone just seems right. Besides, isn't getting married what people do when they love each other and want to have a family together." He smiles gently at her, and says, "But enough of this serious discussion. Catch me if you can." And then he gives a bit of spur to the horse and takes off at a gentle canter, leading her on a little chase.

"Hoi! 'alf a mo!" Irene cries as Faulkner's horse picks up speed and the distance quickly grows between them. Not willing to be outdone, and somewhat recovered from her tumble, the young woman gives Charlotte a little flick on her hindquarters with the crop, and the mare picks up the pace. For at least a little while, they can forget their cares and simply enjoy their time together out in the country.

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