Like a Lady

by Nomooretears

Summary: The boys are discussing their horses. Written for the Vin Feedback and Discussion Group - Celebration week Water challenge.

Author's Notes: Thanks to Kathy M for the beta.

Josiah set down the book he was reading and stretched, letting out a big sigh of contentment. It was a gorgeous Saturday, and he and the rest of the team were relaxing at the ranch. He was enjoying the sunshine on the deck, and Nathan was currently snoring softly in the chair next to his. The rest of the team had gone on a trail ride.

Getting up he headed into the house to refill his iced tea. Glancing out the kitchen window he saw the riders coming back across the field. He was surprised since they hadn’t actually been gone all that long. He could make out the three dark horses in front, their riders seemed to be laughing and talking animatedly amongst themselves. The big grey and fancy chestnut were behind, their riders strangely still.

He went out onto the porch and woke Nathan. “Boys are coming back already, looks like they might have had some trouble.” Nathan was immediately awake and in medic mode. “Calm down, they don’t look hurt. They’re all riding under their own power, at least. But it looks like we could get a good story.”

They stood and went to meet the others. As the horses got closer, they could hear laughter from the three in front, while two of the most talkative members of their group were silently following behind. Soon they got close enough to see that Buck and Ezra, not to mention Buck’s horse and all his tack were soaking wet, and neither man looked happy. Josiah and Nathan looked at each other and smiled, there was definitely a good story to be heard.

The horses came to a stop in front of the waiting men. Chris, Vin, and JD dismounted and grinned at Josiah and Nathan. Buck and Ezra glared at each other and then dismounted as well. Without a word, they headed towards the barn.

“Seems you boys had an adventure,” said Josiah.

“Are they ok?” asked Nathan. He didn’t see any evidence of injuries, but that wasn’t saying much with this group of men. They could be missing a leg and still try to convince Nathan that they were fine.

“Yeah, they’re fine. Just a little cleaner than they were when they left,” laughed JD. All three broke into uncontrollable laughter. Josiah and Nathan just looked at each other.

“Are you going to tell us what happened, or do we need to go ask them?” asked Josiah.

“You might not want to bother them right yet, they’re a little cranky,” said Vin.

“So, what happened?” asked Nathan. He was getting impatient to hear the story.

“We were just riding along, and started talking about our horses’ personalities,” JD piped up with a smile. He seemed to have his laughter under control. “You know, like how Peso’s ornery and Chaucer’s prissy…”

“Peso is not ornery! He’s just misunderstood,” Vin interrupted in defense of his horse.

“And I imagine Ezra took offense to your comment of Chaucer,” guessed Josiah.

“Yeah, he didn’t like that much either. He really didn’t like it when I said that the horses seemed to take after their owners,” smiled Chris. He hadn’t laughed this hard in ages.

“So Buck starts saying how his Lady is a true lady and only acts as such. We were trying to prove him wrong, but she really is a good horse, and couldn’t think of anything. Buck was getting awfully cocky,” continued JD.

“We got to the little duck pond and let the horses get a drink,” Vin picked up the story. “Lady and Chaucer waded in, you know how much those two like the water. Well, apparently Lady decided that it was rather hot, and she wanted to cool off,” Vin started giggling again. That set all three into another fit of laughter. Josiah and Nathan looked at each other again, they could see where this was going, but wanted to hear the rest.

Chris caught his breath enough to continue. “She started pawing at the water, and we all knew what she was thinking. Buck tried to get her head up and pull her back to shore, but she just lay right down in the water. He managed to get out of the saddle, but he slipped and went completely under.” JD lost it and burst out laughing again.

Vin picked up the story. “Of course we made sure he was ok, or at least back on his feet, before we all started laughing. Lady was quite content just laying there for a minute, and then she got up and shook. I swear she had a great big smile on her face.”

Josiah and Nathan were openly laughing at this point. They both wished that they had been there to see it.

“So why is Ezra wet? I can’t imagine Chaucer following Lady’s lead,” asked Nathan.

“We were all laughing, and of course Ezra had to comment on Buck’s swimming ability. I can’t remember the word he used,” said JD. “Buck just reached up and pulled him off Chaucer, and tossed him in the water!”

“And rest assured, gentlemen, that unnecessary attack on my person shall be avenged,” the dangerous southern drawl growled. Ezra and Buck joined their teammates, both of them glaring at each other and the others.

“Hell, Ez. You’re just mad cuz you had to ride home with wet underwear,” Vin knew he was asking for trouble, but he couldn’t resist.

Ezra opened his mouth, but Nathan broke in first. “Why don’t you two go take a shower and clean up. Josiah and I will get dinner started while these guys take care of their horses.”

Josiah smiled as he watched them walk away; Nathan was always trying to prevent bloodshed. He was right, but this was very entertaining.

JD stopped laughing long enough to draw enough breath to ask “Does this mean that we can call the duck pond the Buck pond?”

Total silence reigned as the others just stared at him. As one they all groaned and shook their heads at the truly horrible pun.

“If I were you, JD, I would never let Buck hear you call it that,” Josiah advised. The others just headed for the barn with their horses.

JD hurried to catch up. “Why not? It’s a good joke, right, guys? Vin? Come on, it’s funny!”

7 7 7 7 7 7 7

The next morning Buck woke early and decided to head for the barn and feed the horses. All was calm and peaceful in the barn, a couple of the horses greeted him with a whinny, although it was probably more of a demand for food than a welcome. He measured out the grain into the stalls and ran his eye over the horses, making sure none had scratched or hurt themselves overnight. It was such a habit that he didn’t really pay attention, until he got to Lady’s stall.

He stared at his mare for a full minute, trying to decide what he was actually looking at. Slowly, the disbelieving look on his face turned into one of anger, and he stalked out of the barn to the house.

“EZRA!” Buck’s bellow woke everyone and everything within half a mile of the ranch. The others came running from their rooms, blinking blearily, Chris and Vin with guns in hand. Nathan was looking for Ezra, thinking that something had happened and he was needed, until he got a good look at Buck’s face. Then he decided that while he wasn’t needed yet, he should grab his med kit just in case.

Ezra was the last to arrive, looking very put out for being awakened. “And what pray tell, Mr. Wilmington, constitutes such an emergency as to warrant the disturbance of my slumber at such an ungodly hour?”

“What the hell were you thinking? I don’t care how mad you are at me, you don’t do that to a man’s horse!” Buck was clenching his fists, trying to keep control of his anger.

Ezra just looked at him. “I assure you, Mr. Wilmington, that I have done nothing to your horse.”

“I know it was you, everyone heard you threaten me last night. But this is going too far, Ez!”

Chris interrupted before things got out of hand. “Easy, Buck. What’s wrong with Lady?”

Buck glared at Ezra for another moment, then looked at Chris. Without another word, he stomped back out the door. After a brief hesitation everyone followed him outside. Buck had disappeared into the barn, but came back out leading his horse.

The others stared in astonishment. The grey mare looked around, hoping to find some grass within reach. She was blissfully unaware that she was the center of attention. She also didn’t seem to care that her white coat was now a disturbing shade of green from nose to tail.

“Wow, Buck, that truly is a horse of a different color,” Chris managed to make himself heard over the loud laughter of the others.

“It’s not funny, Chris! Who knows how long it will take me to get her clean, or if whatever Ez used is safe for her!” Buck was still quite upset.

“Mr. Wilmington, besides the fact that I still claim my innocence, I am insulted that you would think that I would do anything that would endanger your horse. Lady did nothing wrong, and I would not get my vengeance on an innocent creature. And even if I had, I wouldn’t use that dreadful color, it does not suit her at all!” Even Ezra had a hard time keeping his poker face intact.

Buck just glared at him. His brows knit together in confusion. “But, if you didn’t do this, who did?” he asked. They both turned to the others.

Josiah, Nathan and Chris were looking back at them, but Vin and JD were slowly backing away. Buck growled and tossed Lady’s lead at Josiah and gave chase as they took off running around the house. Ezra calmly walked in the opposite direction and disappeared around the corner of the barn.

Josiah, Nathan, Chris and one very green horse waited. Vin came tearing around the other side of the house. JD had fallen behind and Vin left him to his fate. Buck showed up a minute later with a struggling JD over his shoulder. He walked past the others and into the corral, where he dropped him in the trough.

Making sure that JD was thoroughly soaked, Buck turned back to Vin, who had stopped behind the others. Vin saw him coming and backed away. He turned to run again, but came to a sputtering halt when a stream of water hit him right in the face.

Ezra was leaning nonchalantly against the barn, hose in hand. When the shocked Vin was completely wet, he shut off the hose and coiled it back up. Buck caught up to Vin and grabbed the collar of his shirt.

“You two are gonna get every bit of green off of my horse,” he growled. “And you better not have hurt her.”

A dripping JD walked up to the group. “It’s just a little food coloring, Buck. It won’t hurt her,” he said.

“Food coloring?” asked Josiah. “You’re gonna need a lot of shampoo to get that off.”

“It’s not gonna wash out completely,” added Chris. “It should wear off in a few weeks, though.”

“Weeks?” Buck was getting upset again.

“Don’t worry, Buck,” Chris continued. “I’m sure these two will get as much off as possible, after they do all the barn chores.” His glare at the guilty men dared them to argue with him.

Vin took Lady’s lead from Josiah and started towards the barn. “Sorry, Bucklin. It was just a joke. We’ll clean her up.” JD followed behind, still dripping.

Buck waited until they were out of sight, then grinned. “Ez, they dyed my horse and let you take the blame for it. I think they need a little payback.”

“I’m sure you’re right, Mr. Wilmington. I am certain that we can come up with a suitable retaliation.” They started for the house. “And I believe that you owe me an apology.”

“Apology? For what?” Buck’s argument faded as the door closed behind them. Chris, Josiah and Nathan stood in the driveway. They knew that this was going to be interesting, and they just hoped that they could stay out of the crossfire.

The End