Mountain is the son of hippies, and kind of a wild child himself. He hates
to be tied down, preferring to make his living on traveling and sleight of
hand. Mountain thinks Rand is just another stuffed suit when they meet, but
he soon finds out that they have more in common than they think.
The two find some common ground, making a relationship for themselves, but
it's not long before the itchy feet start to get to Mountain, and he knows
he's going to have to leave. Will Rand choose his conventional, safe life
over his new lover, or will they find a way to travel the same road?
The balls danced in Mountain's hands, flying up over his head in perfect
arcs. One, two, three, four, five, and the apple, the red flesh glinting in
the sunlight, looking ripe and succulent. His mouth watered.
Not yet, Mountain told himself, ignoring the rumbles in his belly. Not yet.
He had to wait for more people to gather before he went for eating the
apple. It wouldn't be too long now; the crowd was growing, the first folks
drawn by his ability and his banter, others stopping to see what had made
the first few settle in front of him, and those drawing still others.
It was a kind of magic of its own, the way the crowd grew, the way it fed
"Looks easy, doesn't it, folks?" He chuckled and winked, and then shifted
his weight, splitting the balls he juggled, switching to four going in his
left hand, while his right worked on the last ball and the apple together.
Applause went up and coins went sailing through the air into his little
case. A couple of bills were thrown as well and he dared to tip his hat with
his right hand, making a show of nearly missing the ball as it came around
to land in his palm again.
Mountain let his gaze roam through the crowd -- folks liked it if you made
eye contact, even if just briefly. It made them feel like you were putting
the show on for them, which in turn encouraged them to be generous with
their money and his case. Summer was a good time of year for busking. There
were lots of tourists wandering the streets, and the warm weather encouraged
people to linger and watch. Families with kids were always a boon, the
children wanting to stop and watch him work.
Today was no exception and he picked a little girl who couldn't have been
more than six from the front of the crowd to be his helper. "You think you
can toss me that magic wand?" he asked, nodding his head toward the little
pile of props to his left. There was a sparkly wand with a star on top of
the pile and his little helper picked it up. "Go on," he encouraged. "All
you have to do is toss it up here. It's magic, you see and I'll be able to
He brought his two groups together into one, juggling all six items with
both hands. "Oh, dear, she seems to be a little bit shy. How about some
encouragement? Give her a big hand, folks." The girl's parents started
clapping first, but soon the whole crowd that were gathered were clapping
and the wand came flying toward him. He grabbed it with his right hand, held
it for a moment or two as he kept his balls and apple in the air, and then
added the wand in.
"And there we go! Thank you, princess."
He juggled all seven items for awhile, and then began to eat the apple,
grabbing it out of the air with left hand, taking a bite as he kept the
balls and wand moving, and then sending the apple back up there with them.
He took a few more bites of the apple, chewing them up quickly. Damn, he was
It was well past lunch and he hadn't had anything since the coffee he'd
bought at seven. He couldn't stop now, though. This was the best crowd he'd
had all day and with any luck it would stay this busy until people headed
home or to the restaurants for their supper.
He tossed the core of the apple at the garbage can at the edge of the
crescent shaped crowd he'd gathered and they cheered for him when he got it
in. Two points.
He grinned out at them and started juggling faster, asking where people were
from and making up little rhymes with the town names, his patter picking up
speed to match the juggling. He sent the wand flying back to the little pile
of props and asked a couple of boys to toss him another ball each, and then
let yet another boy toss him another ball.
He knew it looked impressive -- eight balls going round and round, but they
were all the same size and weight and it was actually fairly easy. Certainly
easier than the five balls and one apple combo. You didn't know that,
though, unless you juggled.
Another volunteer, a teenaged girl this time, held an oversized top hat for
him. She giggled and blushed as he sent one ball after another sailing into
the hat. Taking it from her, he bowed and put it on his head. The balls, all
trapped behind a trick flap didn't come bounding down onto his head,
allowing him to segue into the magic portion of his show.
He kept it going, moving smoothly from juggling to magic and back again with
the ease born of lots and lots of practice. Every now and then he'd do the
apple trick, or incorporate a water bottle into his magic show -- making the
water disappear. Down his throat.
It was a beautiful day and an even nicer evening, the air cooling a little
as the sun started going down. It was nearly nine before Mountain packed it
up. He was starving and exhausted, but he hadn't wanted to go before the
crowds did and his pockets were full, a lot of bills mixed in with the
He packed up his stuff into his case, doing a little mental calculation. He
could afford to eat at one of the street vendors, if any were still around,
or at McDonald's, for sure. He might even be able to eat at a real
restaurant, but he was kind of smelly from the day of working hard in the
hot sun, and they were calling for rain all next week, which would keep the
crowds moving. Oh, he'd do all right; people felt bad for buskers who worked
in the rain and would throw plenty of coins, but no one would stay and
watch, or spend the time to dig a little deeper into their pockets for him.
So he was best off saving what he had instead of blowing it.
That didn't stop him from looking longingly at the Red Cow as he passed it,
the silly plastic cow, complete with udders, hanging from the sign. It
wasn't the sign that always drew him, though; it was the fact that they had
Guinness on tap and thick steak with beefeater French fries and fried onions
on their menu.
He worried his lower lip, the frugal part of him all but screaming at him to
move on, but he was a product of his upbringing and the old hippie values
his parents had instilled to live his life in the moment urged him to just
go in and enjoy himself. He'd worked hard for the money; there was no reason
not to spend it. The fact that his parents were vegetarians and would be
horrified to see him eating steak didn't faze him one bit. Man was not meant
to live on vegetables and grains alone, a fact he'd argued over with them on
many an occasion growing up.
He'd just decided to go ahead in when a guy in a suit with a Bluetooth
earpiece stopped nearby and cleared his throat.
"You're that juggler. The one who was on the corner of Sparks and Metcalfe."
It took Mountain a moment to realize the guy was talking to him -- he'd
assumed the Bluetooth was in action.
"Yeah, that was me." He took off the top hat he wore because it didn't fit
in his case along with everything else and held it out. "Did you forget to
leave your contribution?"
The guy had a nice laugh and Mountain took a better look. Blond hair over a
pair of blue eyes, the guy could have been a model, except for the broken
nose and the crescent moon shaped scar over the right cheek. Taller than
Mountain, and more muscle-y, the guy was just his type. Aside from the suit.
Mountain found Suits were usually snobby and too busy to have a decent
"Actually, I was wondering if you'd like to have dinner with me."