"Time, Fault and Out "

Written By: ShenLong

Disclaimer: I don't own the G'boys, I just borrow them from time to time to play with and return them a whole lot happier, ne?

Rating: NC 17

Pairings: 1x2x1, 3x4

Warnings: AU, OOC, Lemon, Yaoi, Angst, Fluff, Sap, Vet themes.

Summary: Set 2 years after Equinity. Heero is now riding for the Kushrenada stable as well as attempting to qualify Zero for the Nations Cup team and ultimately his dream of riding at the Olympic games. But life is never an easy ride.

Notes: All the information on showjumping, horses, etc is taken from my own knowledge of the sport having been a competitor and now judge for many years and is written from an Australian perspective. The rules and regulations are courtesy of the E.F.A Handbook. (Equestrian Federation of Australia) Should you have any questions just e-mail me.

Fic 2 in the "Equine Intervention" Arc.

Dedication: To Klingonpoodle who gave me the plot bunny for the first fic and has since supplied my muse with its own plot bunny farm, and to 'Teddy Bear' my own courageous little showjumper whom Zero is based upon.



"Time, Fault and Out"

November. 2005 ShenLong

Chapter 1

"Good, that was much better. Now bring him round again and see if you can't get two strides in there instead of three."

Heero sat down into his saddle and collected the horse, riding him forwards but holding the energy with his hands. He turned and lined up the double, judging the striding and calculating exactly where he would need to give the horse rein to lengthen stride. They had been out in the paddock for an hour now, working with one of Treize's youngsters.

"Steady," muttered Heero as the horse began to leap forwards, pulling hard and eager to jump. The horse he was riding, a liver chestnut called Taurus, was one of five Heero was currently riding and schooling for and with, Treize.

The horse continued to fight for its head, body bouncing full of energy as it fought against the human holding it in check. While Taurus was an eager and bold jumper with heaps of potential, he needed to learn to listen to his rider. He wasn't a mean horse, just impatient, occasionally skittish with a tendency to ignore his rider. Heero had been working on getting the horse to listen to his aids and respond to them, despite simply wanting to tear at the fences. To let the horse go around a jumping course at his current level of training would only prove detrimental to both animal and rider. Taurus had a habit of seeing a jump and simply wanting to jump it without any thought for anything else; and that was dangerous.

Heero had been working him over a series of low fences in an attempt to get the animal to listen to his aids, teaching the horse when to lengthen and shorten stride. Slowly the work seemed to be paying off and Taurus was beginning to give a little and take note of what his rider was asking. Lining the double up again, Heero gave a little rein, letting the horse lengthen out a touch as he bore down on the fence. The jump had been set so the horse could take off over the first element, land, and according to his rider's instructions, take either two long strides or three short ones before jumping the second element. It was a good schooling fence and one certain to have a horse listening to its rider - eventually.

"Not quite so fast!" cried Treize as he watched the youngster fighting for his head. "Drop your weight a little more and bring him back together."

Heero tried to do as Treize instructed but it wasn't easy. The chestnut didn't want to listen and bucked in resentment of being restrained. Heero managed to sit the buck but found himself unable to check the horse's speed and in that instant, Taurus snatched the reins and tore at the fence. All Heero could do was hang on and try to go with the movement.

Taurus gathered his haunches underneath him and launched himself into the air. He cleared the first element, pecked a little on landing and came in awkwardly to the second. With a grunt, the horse put in a short stride and leapt into the air. Unfortunately most of his energy had been spent on fighting his rider and now when he needed it to clear the obstacle, he was sadly lacking. Forelegs brushed the top pole causing it to rock slightly and then the hind legs caught against it and sent it flying.

As the horse landed so Heero had recovered enough of his position to sit down hard in his saddle and gather up the contact with the horse's mouth. Somehow he managed to bring the animal to a walk and then halt, running a soothing hand along the sweat soaked neck. "You idiot," he growled softly. "Too damn impatient, that's your problem." Heero looked up as his eye caught the movement of Treize coming his way. The man didn't look too happy.

"That horse is a menace," snapped Treize. "I'm seriously beginning to think a bullet is the only cure for him."

"He's not mean or vicious," replied Heero in the horse's defense.

"He might as well be," muttered Treize. "He's damn dangerous. I thought at first it was just simple eagerness, now I'm beginning to wonder if he has a brain in his head at all."

"Give him a chance," replied Heero. "He's got tremendous scope and tons of ability."

"All of which are useless if he's not going to be trainable. No matter how well he can jump it's no good if he's not going to listen to his rider."

Heero knew that what Treize was saying was right, regardless of how much promise a horse showed it was no good if it didn't listen and accept the rider's aids. To jump the demanding courses of top level competition a horse and rider needed to be finely tuned to each other, the rider knowing just what his mount was capable of giving and that mount being responsive to the slightest touch from its rider.

Treize sighed. "Spend another ten minutes with him on the flat, simple changes of gait and see if you can't get him to listen a little better, then bring him in. I'm going to saddle up Tall Geese and do some work on his turns."

"Okay." Heero collected his reins and turned the horse away from the fences and headed to a spot of flat ground to practice transitions.

***

"There you are, Fluffy," Duo said softly to the large, fluffy ginger cat as he rubbed the ruff of the animal's neck. "All done, Mrs. Jones. His next booster will be in a year's time."

"Thank you, Dr. Maxwell," replied the middle aged woman as she picked up her cat and placed him into the carry cage. "Will you send me out a reminder?"

"Yes, we will," said Duo as he opened the door and took the cat cage from the woman. "I'll carry Fluffy out for you."

Back in the reception room, Duo sat the cat cage down and went behind the reception desk. He quickly wrote down the details of the visit onto the cat's file, took the payment from the client and gave her a receipt. Once the woman left he locked the door behind her and gave a sigh of relief. Morning consults were over and he was in desperate need of a coffee. Unfortunately the coffee would have to wait until he'd finished inputting all the morning's clients and payments into the computer. Running a hand across his chin, Duo eyed the computer.

The computer glowed innocently back.

Heero had shown him on numerous occasions exactly how to enter all the data, even going so far as to write it all down for him, and Duo followed the instructions to the letter. For some reason though, he always seemed to mess it up. "Right, Nrobbuts," Duo growled, "this time you will do it right." Picking up the first of the client files, Duo consulted the piece of paper with the instructions on and began to enter the data.

Ten minutes later Duo was certain the computer was laughing at him.

"I don't fucking believe it," he snarled and thumped his hand down on the desk. "You sneaky, underhanded piece of outdated circuits. What the fuck have you done now?"

"Problems, Duo?"

Duo whirled around to see Hilde leaning against the door frame, an amused look on her face. "It's this piece of fucking shit, I swear it's a new form of torture device masquerading as a bunch of wires and chips. I thought computers were supposed to make your life easier?"

"They do, if used correctly," replied Hilde. "A computer can't make mistakes, they only respond to what's programmed into them."

"In other words, you're saying I'm a moron?"

"Errr... No."

"I don't know why I ever bothered to buy this piece of junk. I was doing fine with the filing system and good old ledger book," muttered Duo as he tried again to enter the data. "Now what the hell have you done with it? Eaten it, I suppose."

Hilde chuckled and shoved off the door frame. "Here, let me do it," she said and gently pushed Duo from the chair.

Duo removed himself from the chair and gave the other vet a warm smile. "You sure you don't mind?"

"Nah, I've got a few minutes before the autoclave is finished and afternoon surgery isn't for another hour yet. Besides, you look like you need the break."

"That bad, huh?" replied Duo as he rubbed his tired eyes.

"Yeah. If those dark circles get any darker I'd say Heero had punched you. Rough night?"

"You could say that. I was called out to a calving at two this morning; breech presentation. Took me two hours to deliver the thing but it was worth it." Duo's mind wandered back to the early hours of that morning. The cow had been a Jersey, one of Duo's favorite breeds of cow. They were small, doe eyed creatures that were generally easy to deal with, unlike the larger Freisians that were the usual breed of cattle in the district. This cow had been special, she was the farmer's house cow and her rich milk found its way to the farm table in the form of cream, milk, butter and occasionally cheese. Although the farmer would never have admitted to having a soft spot for a cow, Duo could sense it in the manner the farmer displayed around the creature, and the fact that she had a name; Butterscotch.

Two hours of struggling, stripped bare to his waist in the cold cow house had eventually succeeded in the birth of a bull calf, and a fairly large one at that. The farmer had been overjoyed, Duo was similarly pleased. He'd managed to deliver a healthy calf and saved the mother from the butcher. Unfortunately by the time he'd returned home it was five in the morning. He'd crawled back into bed, bone weary and cold only to have Heero snuggle up to him. Sometimes it was worth getting out of bed to come back to this, Duo had thought as Heero's body heat began to sink into his freezing form and slowly thaw him out. As Duo had begun to drift off so the alarm had gone off and jolted him awake again. He'd groaned and dived under the pillow while Heero had shut the damn thing off and apologized for disturbing his lover. Duo accepted the apology, along with several warm kisses before Heero had left their bed to prepare for the day ahead.

The routine was the same, Heero would get up, dress and then go out to put Zero, Scythe and Shinigami into their respective paddocks before feeding them. The stables would be the next stop, Heero mucking out all three and emptying the water buckets. With those chores done, Heero would leave the water buckets for Duo to fill and put back in the stables later, along with the horses' night feeds. Three haynets were filled and left for the horses' lunch before Heero returned to the house and made himself and Duo a cup of tea. The tea would be taken through to the bedroom, another few kisses shared and then Heero would shower, have his breakfast and leave for Treize's stables, returning around three in the afternoon to work Zero and give Duo a hand with evening consults.

It was a routine they had gotten into and it worked so far. Well, sort of. With Heero now spending more time at Treize's it seriously cut into the amount of time the accountant had left to see to the business side of the veterinary practice. Heero tried to keep up with the accounts and putting all the data into the computer, but some days it simply got away from him. Duo had finished a consult one evening and upon returning to the reception area with the client, had found Heero face down on the keyboard and snoring softly. That's when Duo had made his stand and informed Heero that Hilde and himself were capable of entering the client data into the computer and all Heero would have to do would be to check over the accounts at the end of each week and make sure that the computer records matched the receipt book and bank slips. After a few arguments, Heero had reluctantly agreed.

Duo wished it was that simple.

With Heero having done the accounts and computer work for so long now, Duo had forgotten just how much Nrobbuts delighted in tormenting him. That fact had now been brought back to him with startling clarity these past few days. Duo couldn't figure out why everyone else could manage the damn thing while he had nothing but trouble with it. It continuously 'ate' the information or hid it deep in its chips where Duo would never find it. He swore the thing was alive and had a serious vendetta against him.

"All done." Hilde's words broke the silence that had settled.

Duo gazed at the screen where all the information on the morning's consults was displayed, seeming to mock him and his incompetence. "Thanks, Hilde."

"No problem. Why don't you go grab a bite to eat and see if you can't get forty winks. There's only a couple of cat spays for surgery and I can handle those by myself."

"Are you sure?" Duo had to admit, the thought of snatching a few z's was rather appealing.

"Of course I'm sure," Hilde snorted. "Go, shoo. If anything serious comes in I'll page you."

"Thanks." Duo gave the other vet a smile and then removed his white coat, hanging it on the back of the consulting room door before leaving the small surgery and walking down the connecting path to the house.

***

Heero let the horse stretch out his neck as they walked back from the schooling paddock to the stable block. Sweat was drying on the animal's neck and Heero felt his own skin prickling from the dust and sweat covering his body. Entering the stable yard, Heero turned Taurus to the left and brought him to a halt in front of his stable. A few doors down, Treize was checking Tall Geese's jumping boots. Heero dismounted, feeling an ache in his arms and shoulders and proceeded to unsaddle the chestnut. A groom came out from the tack room and gave him a hand and once the horse was untacked, the groom took over, taking the horse into the wash bay area and washing the sweat from the horse's coat.

Heero walked over to where Treize was checking his girth when a high pitched whinny cut through the air. Heero chuckled. "Sounds like some one's not happy about having their companion taken away."

As if to agree, Tall Geese let fly with a loud, answering neigh of his own.

"It's beginning to drive me up the wall," muttered Treize. "I can't take the damn horse anywhere without the squirt. If I leave him behind, Goose won't jump."

Heero couldn't help but laugh. Tall Geese was an impressive horse, standing seventeen hands, and in Duo's terms, 'built like a brick shit house'. The horse had one undoing though; he wouldn't go anywhere or do anything without his stable companion. The pair had been born around the same time, a week separating them and when it had come time to wean them from their mothers, the two had been turned out together and immediately formed a bond that refused to be broken. Tall Geese was an exceptional jumper, the ability he was showing putting him in Olympic contention; but if his companion wasn't with him, Goose wouldn't jump a stick.

It was quite comical and Heero had found himself doubled over with laughter the first time he'd seen the pair and refused to believe the stories about the two. Never were two horses more opposite each other. While Goose stood tall, his companion was a miniature pony, lucky to reach forty eight inches in height; but what he lacked in height he more than made up for in personality. 'A barrel with legs' was what Heero had dubbed the mini horse. But when he learnt the pony's name, it sent him into further hysterics.

Short Duck.

Heero supposed it made sense, the two animals being such complete opposites.

"Can you let Duck out? I'll go on ahead to the schooling paddock, he'll find us," said Treize as he swung himself into the saddle.

"Sure," replied Heero. "Would you like me to work on Sandrock next?"

"That would be good. Take him over the grids, he needs to work more on his stamina."

"Right." Heero turned and headed for the paddock where the mini pony waited, pawing at the ground in impatience. "Okay, short stuff, hold your horses," Heero chastised gently as he undid the gate latch. No sooner had he gotten the gate open than Duck barreled through and set off for the schooling paddock and his friend at a brisk trot. Heero shook his head as he watched the fat rump disappear around the corner.

* * *

It was three o'clock when Heero found himself pulling into the familiar driveway. He passed the small surgery car park, noting Hilde's car parked there and drove on to pull up at the rear of the house. Getting out, Heero shut and locked the car door, cast an eye over the paddocks and grazing horses before walking towards the back door of the home he shared with Duo. Toeing off his boots and wriggling his toes, Heero stepped inside and looked around for his long haired lover. The house was quiet which usually meant Duo was up at the surgery.

With a sigh, Heero made a coffee then padded through to the lounge room, intending to sit and relax for a few minutes before going up to the surgery and finding the vet. Entering the lounge, Heero stopped in his tracks and smiled. Duo lay upon the couch fast asleep and snoring softly. Quietly, Heero made his way over and set his cup down on the coffee table, then he knelt on the floor beside his partner and proceeded to wake him up in the best way he knew how.

Heero feathered soft kisses along the side of Duo's face, over his cheek and along the jaw. He snickered softly as Duo wrinkled his nose and then buried his face deeper into the cushion he was using as a pillow. Once Duo was still again, Heero resumed his kisses, only this time he when he reached the edge of Duo's mouth a hand came up and caught him around the back of the neck, holding him firmly in place as his lips were seized in a sweet kiss. Opening his eyes wide, Heero was met by twinkling violet.

"Mmmm... Now that's what I call the perfect way to wake up," whispered Duo as he gave Heero another soft kiss.

When the kiss broke, Heero raised himself and joined his lover on the couch, lying flush against the lithe body of the vet and allowing his arms to enfold Duo within them. "Tired?"

"Yeah."

"What was the call out this morning?"

"Calving." Duo snuggled deeper into Heero's embrace and felt his lover wince a little. "You have a hard day?"

"Kind of. Taurus decided to see if he could pull my arms out of my sockets for me."

"Ahh. I think I may have just the cure for that."

"And that would be?" asked Heero as he placed a kiss to the top of Duo's head.

"A massage."

"Now that sounds really good. Can I get a rain check though? I have to go work Zero in a minute and then do some work with Shini."

"Sure. How about after dinner and your shower?" Duo nuzzled against Heero's neck

"Perfect. It's a date.""Good, now cuddle me a little more before you go playing with the beasts."

Heero was only too happy to oblige.

~ * ~

tbc....


Chapter 2

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