by Beth

Notes: Due to my shortage of time I decided to combine May and June’s challenge. This actually started out one for May, but I already did a May and decided that I could work June into it as well…so here it is. Just a reminder to what the challenge were, here they are…. May challenge offered by Heather F!!! Write a story, any AU, in which one of the guys breaks a bone. It doesn't have to be a long bone, or a weight bearing bone...it can be a toe (toes don't get enough respect....especially when they go snap....) or a finger....or,....well teeth aren't technically bones...but if you must break one of those that's ok too (those hurt a great deal and people look funny .... and a nose isn't technically a bone either but they hurt in the most incredible manner. (the 'Meet the Parents' Challenge): offered by Katherine   Of the boys, we know about Ezra’s mother, Vin’s mother, JD’s mother, Buck’s mother....Josiah’s father, Nathan’s mother and father, and not a thing about I’ parents. What I want is a story that fills in some details on the missing parents or even the ones that we do know something about. Our boys weren’t hatched from eggs, and I want to know something about the people who brought them into this world (Figuratively speaking) Can be the guys just talking about how they didn’t know their fathers, or reminiscing about some fond memory of their mothers. Or you can take it upon yourself to create an original character and fill in the details that way. I don’t care which one of the boys you pick, or what AU you choose. Any or all is acceptable. Have fun

I beta-ed this myself, so please excuse all the mistakes…I can not edit my own work…just can’t…

Unlike Moses parting the Red Sea, Sam Havitt’s broken-unbroken gelding—depending on the day, charged through town without the grace or perfection his predecessor had. Instead of a clear path and high water barriers, F’nbeast cleared the streets by charging, kicking, biting and attempting to trample anything in his way.

People dodged, dove, and sped for cover. Women’s skirts blossomed and flew upward as skirts were grabbed and white bloomers caused men of all ages to raise their eyebrows and grin. Horses kicked at each other and pulled back on their ties as one of their own continued his rampage.

Charlie Whatts and his mule, Katy, skirted quickly to the left…their mining supplies dropping and landing with a clatter onto the hard ground.

Sam Havitt followed at a safe pace behind. His shirt torn, his pants ripped, and mud layered his face like chocolate frosting on a vanilla cake. He still held firmly between his lips a broken cheroot, but his eyes told the story of his day. Getting bucked off a horse was just a part of the process—it happened to everyone—at some point in time. However, being humiliated by the animal was a different story—and one that wouldn’t happen again.

Ezra chuckled and stopped toying with his playing cards. He kicked his feet off the edge of the banister railing, allowing the front two legs of his chair to slam hard onto the boardwalk, giving him a better eyes view of F’nbeast’s charge.

Vin pushed the rim of his hat up and leaned casually against the awning railing. A grin spread across his cheeks, despite the damage being done to the town.

Josiah and Nathan stopped pounding on the roof of the church and watched in amusement as F’nbeast bucked his way into Mr. Cooper’s apple cart. Of course, Mr. Cooper’s solution to the problem involved waving his apron, causing the animal to snort and proceed on his rampage.

“ANY MAN THAT CAN BREAK THAT BEAST…CAN HAVE HIM!!” Sam yelled, after spitting the remainder of his cheroot out. He stood in the center of town with his hands on his hips, looking pathetic. 

It was an invitation that had every cowboy in town scratching their backsides. A few grinned, seeing the opportunity as more of a challenge. Others eyed the animal with keen perception of his conformation and the thought of getting something for free.

Buck slapped Chris on the shoulder and grinned.

A challenge.

Using buckets, brooms, and handkerchiefs, several cowboys scared F’nbeast into the round corral behind Tiny’s livery. Then, like flies on shit, the spectators arrived.

F’nbeast continued to buck, and run in circles around the arena. He struck out at anyone brave enough to pass the railing. He wasn’t having any part of their game.

Ezra stood off to the side—taking bets. Four to one odds that the horse could be broke—Chris and Buck were looking pretty confident—everyone else was convinced the animal needed to be shot.

Lassos appeared out of nowhere and were quickly whipped into motion, raised above heads—taking flight. Two men, both with reputations as excellent horsemen, tossed their lassos at the same time. Only one hit its mark.

Ted Davis jumped from the corral railing and pulled on the lasso, tightening the long rope. His efforts were heedless. F’nbeast changed gears and charged the cowboy, causing him to dive to the left and under the corral railing.

The crowd laughed.

“You best leave that beast to the pros, Ted,” Eric Harper yelled, jumping into the corral and grabbing the rope as the horse sped by. His hat flew off his head as a gust of wind blew in his face.

He was airborne.

He landed with a hard thump on the ground and wisely rolled beneath the bottom rail of the fence. He shook his head and slapped his hand against his thigh. “Worthless beast anyway.”

F’nbeast stopped suddenly, his reins flying about his head, and his mane splayed in all directions. He was gorgeous. Large black eyes watched the crowd with curiosity, his nostrils flared and he snorted, arching his neck and slowly started to prance around the arena…as though on display.

Chris shook his head, seeing the animal for what he was. He’d make a splendid riding horse.

“You gonna give it a try, Stud?” Buck encouraged, tossing Chris his lariat.

“You ever known me not to?” came the brash response, as Chris carefully sized the loop and jumped into the arena. He flung his arm above his head, allowing the rope to spin and widen with every flick of his wrist.

This was his true nature.

F’nbeast tucked his head and sped up. He kicked out with his hind legs and snorted again—this time in fun. He tossed his magnificent head, his mane flying in all directions.

Chris tossed the rope and quickly sped up, using the center of the arena as his base…he knew what he was doing, and he allowed the horse to gallop around him, ever so slowly tighten up on the rope.

The crowed sighed in disappointment, they had thought it would be more of a challenge.

F’nbeast slowed to a trot, and quickly quieted down, tossing his head only on occasion, and perking his ears forward in attention. Chris smiled, watching the horse’s slowing movements, the change in his gates, the movement of his head, the swish of his tail. He tightened up on the rope and carefully crept toward the bridle, his hands moving like magic.

The horse stopped suddenly and tossed his head one last time before allowing Chris to touch the ridge of his velvety nose. F’nbeast snorted, but remained still…more curious than scared. The hand stroking his neck felt good, and carefully his mane was laid flat against the right side of his neck. The lariet was slowly removed. F’nbeast felt the tension on one of his reins and he stepped forward, just like he had many times before.

“You gonna get on ‘im?” Buck asked, handing Chris a new set of reins.

“Seems calm enough,” came the soft reply. He replaced the reins and looped them over the saddle horn before leading F’nbeast into the center of the corral. They stood there a moment, getting to know each other.

Slowly, Chris grabbed the reins and the saddle horn with his left hand, and the stirrup with his right. He was mounted in seconds—feet planted firmly in rawhide, heels pressed downward, butt seated securely in the old saddle…

It was going to be a bumpy ride.

F’nbeast took one step, one was all he needed, before twisting violently to his right, kicking out with his hind legs. Chris tried to keep the horse’s head up, but the animal was much too strong, so he did all he could—held on for dear life.

The animal pounded the ground with his front legs, using his back and hindquarters like a meat grinder.

Chris grabbed the saddle horn in one last attempt to stay on, but it was futile…he flew like a new chick with feathers into the fence railing. Out of expertise, he rolled under the fence and paused, allowing Buck, Nathan, and Josiah to help him unsteadily to his feet.

He was going to hurt in the morning.

He felt Nathan press on his ribs, checking for breaks, and as a result he sucked in a shallow breath of air. “Damn, Nathan, if it wasn’t broke it is now,” he sighed, grasping his left side with his right hand.

“You probably cracked one, maybe two and you’ve defiantly got some bruising.”

“No shit,” Chris sighed, shaking his head.

“You have an uncanny way of statin’ the obvious, Mistah Jackson,” Ezra said with a shake of his head.

“I ain’t lookin’ for your opinions, Ezra,” Nathan snapped. “Cracked ribs and broken ones can be just as dangerous.”

The gambler wasn’t about to argue that point, having experienced both. He gathered the bets and carefully finished making annotations in his notebook… He’d given F’nbeast until the end of the week—he had no intentions of losing this bet.

The crowed jumped back when F’nbeast charged. He bared his teeth and pinned his ears, causing any and all to back away. He turned and then strode toward the other side of the arena, away from everyone else.

“That horse should be shot—ain’t no good out here,” an old cowboy said, spitting out his chewing tobacco. “Horse like that could get a man killed—best put it out of its misery.”

A few others agreed with him.

Tiny, the liveryman, shook his head, knowing how difficult it was to find a good horse—a reliable one. The thought, though, of having to destroy one so young, so spectacular, was devastating to him. There was something about a horse; it was in their movement, their shape, their grace.

“Ain’t no one else goin’ to try?” Tiny called out, hoping someone stepped up to the challenge.

“That animal’s sour, Tiny, can’t risk gettin’ tossed—got farm to care for.” One of the spectators said, moving off to the side.

Several others moved out of the way.

“What ‘bout Standish’s bet?” someone asked, concerned about his money.

“The horse has until the end of the week,” another argued—hoping for the best.

“Someone’s got to pay for his feed and board,” Tiny said with a shake of his head. “Can’t afford to do it for free.”

“I’ll see to it,” Ezra offered, unwilling to see the bet fade to nothing.

Josiah shook his head and followed Nathan and Chris toward the clinic. Vin stood off to the side with JD and shook his head, not at all trying to hide the smile on his face.

“Ain’t like Ezra to offer up money for free,” JD acknowledged.

“Bet’s worth more ‘an the cost of feed,” Vin supplied, following the crowed back toward town.

“How come you didn’t try and ride ‘im, Buck?” JD asked, jogging over toward the gunslinger who was resting his arms over the top rail of the corral.

“Ain’t about to take a spill like Chris did,” he replied, keeping his eyes on the black bay. “Miss Peggie Lee’s gonna be ride enough.” He grinned.

“Bet I could work with him,” JD muttered, not really toward anyone.

“That’s not a stable horse, JD,” Buck replied, shifting his shoulders.

JD rolled his eyes and headed back toward town.

Buck turned toward Ezra and looked him over, watching as he made a few notes in his little book—the one he kept all his records in, the one that continued to win him money. “Why don’t you try and ride him, Ezra?”

“Surely you jest, Mistah Wilmington?” Ezra offered, closing his book and slipping it into his jacket pocket.

“Ain’t a Yankee alive that don’t know a Reb can jump on the back of any horse and ride ‘im.” He smiled before turning, and heading toward town.

Ezra watched him go, never once taking his eyes off the back of Buck’s shirt.... at least until he disappeared from view.


“Ezra watchin’ over his investment?” Buck asked, winking toward a young woman who graciously stepped from her carriage. When she didn’t respond to his advance he continued with his conversation.

“Looks that way,” Chris responded with a grin.

Ezra had been standing by the corral; watching every pour soul that tried to ride F’nbeast, fail. Three days had gone by, and nothing…everyone who tried, failed in riding the horse. JD had managed to sneak a few apples to the gelding, and he gratefully took them from the kid’s hand, but when JD tried to reach up and touch him, he’d back away.

“Think he’s trainable?” Buck asked, speaking of the gelding.

Chris rubbed his sore ribs and chuckled: “For someone.”

“Remember that old bay mare…Candy, or somethin’ like it?”

“Yeah, I remember,” Chris sighed, thinking about Sarah and the mare she’d picked as her own. “Damn near killed me on more than one occasion.” He couldn’t help but smile at the memory—that old mare just didn’t like men, and she didn’t mind dumping them. “Sarah’d go out and ride her bareback—just to prove to me it could be done.”

“She did have a wicked streak,” Buck said with a smile, remembering better times.

“Yes,” Chris said softly, longingly, “she did.” He stood up and headed toward the saloon, needing a moment to himself.

Buck watched him leave, knowing why, and knowing enough to let him go. He looked up and watched as Ezra moved toward the corral and snuck that gelding an apple.

Damn Southerner.


Ezra snuck out the back way, careful not to disturb anyone. He followed the trail to the corral behind the livery and stood at the gate. The gelding trotted forward, seeking that apple, or perhaps a slice of apple pie—either one would be grand.

Never one to purposely cause disappointment to a four legged friend, Ezra laid his hand flat, exposing the juicy fruit that was quickly snatched up. He reached out and stroked the velvety nose before turning and retrieving his saddle and bridle.

The bay perked his ears forward and smacked his lips in anticipation. He wasn’t a bad horse, just a misunderstood one. The rope halter was slipped up and over his nose, and he shook his head and neck, causing his main to fly. The soft bristle brush felt good on his coat, every stroke was purposeful and kind.

Ezra picked up his saddle blanket and checked it for sweat marks and cheat grass, anything that would cause discomfort. The saddle was next, carefully placed on the horse’s back, fitted snugly. Ezra had tossed the nasty curb bit that had been used on F’nbeast. He traded it out for a simple snaffle, something with restraint without the harshness. The horse took the bit like an old pro, perhaps too well. Ezra secured the reins to the saddle horn and moved out into the center of the arena, allowing F’nbeast a chance to stretch.

“I was wonderin’ how long it would take you to get out here,” Buck said, stepping out of the shadows. He leaned against the corral and took his hat off, holding the brim between his fingers.

“Ah always knew you were sneaky, Mistah Wilmington, but spyin’?”

“Hell now, Ezra, can’t let you win all the money.” Buck grinned. He watched as F’nbeast trotted around the arena, not offering to kick or buck, just a steady, easy trot. “I always figured you knew more ‘bout horses than what you showed.”

“How so?” Ezra asked out of curiosity.

“That damn friend of yours that you think is a horse.” He spoke of Trouble, and the companionship Ezra and Trouble shared.

“Trouble was broke when I acquired him,” came the flat response.

“Yeah, I bet he was—so why’s he named Trouble?”

“You’re usin’ your head for more than a hat stand, Mistah Wilmington…it doesn’t suit you.”

Buck laughed: “Ain’t nothin’ wrong with menial labor, Ezra.”

“Speak for yourself.”

Buck shook his head and watched F’nbeast trot around the arena, he watched him focus his attention on the man in the center. “You sure you ain’t gonna get tossed an’ run over usin’ just a snaffle?”

Ezra raised his eyebrows, he wish he knew. Everyone who had tried had successfully saddled and bridled the horse, sure, a few got bit, others got kicked, but they deserved it…he hoped. “A bit should be used as a guide, not a means of control.”

“Know a lot of folks who’d disagree with you—”

“And they’ve probably had a closah examination of the ground.”

“Can’t argue that point with ya.” He sighed, while continuing to watch. “Who taught you to work with horses?”

Ezra paused, thinking on the subject—wondering if he wanted to talk about it. He seemed to remember Buck speaking of briefly about his mother… “My fathah taught me,” came the soft acknowledgement.

Buck nodded: “He run a lot of horses?”

“Not a lot, no.” Just enough, Ezra thought. “He used to train hunters—for sport.”

“Like fox huntin’?”

Ezra chuckled: “Yes.”

“Didn’t think they’d do things like fox huntin’ in the south?”

“They do a great many things in the South, Mistah Wilmington, and fox huntin’ was only one of them.”

“Never heard you talk much about your dad before?”

“I don’t remember a lot about him,” Ezra admitted.

“But you remember the horses?” Buck watched the horse slow to a walk.

Ezra nodded and stepped forward, grasping F’nbeast’s reins. The horse followed at a leisurely pace behind him as he headed toward the gate. “My fathah was quite well known for his abilities.”

Buck scraped his boot on the fence rail. “So how come—?”

“Ah became…fluent with the cards.” Ezra smiled and he answered Buck’s next question before he could ask it. “There was little my mothah could do, after my fathah’s death, and with the added difficulties of carin’ for a child…she had no choice but to marry again. Daniel Rohan, a gentleman gambler—con man and cheat, taught my mother the best tricks…and in turn she taught me—when the time arose.”

“So that’s it—you just stuck with gamblin’?”

“It’s what Ah’m good at,” came the mundane reply.

“Hell,” Buck sighed, “I know you can shoot pretty well.”

Ezra chuckled: “Firin’ a weapon won’t supply my saloon.”

Buck nodded, he had to agree. “You gonna get on that beast, or look at him?”

“His conformation is quite good,” Ezra replied with a grin. He took a step back and gently ran his left hand down F’nbeast’s neck while hanging onto the reins. He grabbed the stirrup with his right hand and slipped his foot in. He paused a moment, before grabbing hold of the saddle horn. With one hop he was on, seated securely, and almost ready for anything.

They followed the corral railing, walking at a steady pace.

Buck shook his head: “I’ll go saddle up Rooster and ride out on patrol with you tonight…I need some air anyway.”


Chris stepped out of the saloon with a steaming cup of coffee, Vin followed, still eating one of Inez’s biscuits. Both men looked down the road at the same time, seeing Buck and Ezra riding in after a long night of patrol. The sun was just beginning to come up, and it was inclining to a hot day.

“Son-of-a-bitch,” Chris swore softly.

Vin chuckled softly, wiping his mouth with his thumb. “Should’ve known he’d do it,” he spoke softly. “That damn horse of his is more human than horse.”

Chris nodded in agreement: “Hell, don’t care that he’s struttin’ in here on that beast…I just wish I’da put some money on him.”

“Yeah…you should ‘ave.”

Vin’s smile reminded Chris of a kid who knew more than what he was saying. “How much?” Larabee asked, unwilling to let it drop.

Vin’s smile increased in size. “Enough.” He sighed and leaned against the railing. “Nathan bet too…you know, he ain’t so stuffy when guns ain’t goin’ off.”

“Ezra put you up to it?”


Chris shook his head and watched as Buck and Ezra rode up and quickly dismounted before tying their mounts to the hitching rail. “A snaffle bit, Ezra?”

The gambler shook his head and chuckled: “That is somethin’ you Yankee’s have yet to learn about.” He slapped Chris’ arm before heading into the saloon to grab a hot cup of coffee.

“Asshole,” Chris muttered under his breath. He looked hard at the horse that had caused so much trouble for the past few days.

F’nbeast stood content next to Buck’s big gray. He chewed happily on the snaffle bit while cocking his hind left hoof. Amazing what a change of bit and an extra saddle pad could do.

“What do you think he’ll do with ‘im?” Vin asked, rubbing his nose before slipping his hand into his pant’s pocket.

“Sell ‘im, and make a bundle… Hell, Vin, this is Ezra you’re talkin’ about.”

The tracker chuckled: “Yeah, but he is a good lookin’ horse.”

The End!

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