Author: RedLion2 PM
AU Teens compete for top honors in the world of Arabian horse shows, while trying to live out their lives.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Romance/Drama - Heero Y. & Relena P. - Chapters: 22 - Words: 47,087 - Reviews: 128 - Favs: 30 - Follows: 12 - Updated: 02-03-06 - Published: 04-30-04 - Status: Complete - id: 1841947
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
I do not own Gundam Wing or its characters. I just like to lord over them once in awhile!
This story idea came to me earlier this week, and I just had to do it. I'm a bonafide horse nut, having been riding since age two. I don't have a horse currently, but I borrow my sister's fiancé's gelding whenever I can. Yes, this is an AU, totally and completely. If you love GW and horses, boy, is this for you!
Chapter 1: Horse Show Jitters
"Relena! Keep him extended! He's shortening up!" Relena Darlian gritted her teeth at the insistent voice of Milliardo "Zechs" Peacecraft, her older step-brother and riding instructor. Pushing hard with her calves she drove Flash Cadillac, her copper-chestnut Arabian gelding, forward into a longer stride. Flash's ears flicked backward as his 17 year old rider talked to him.
"They're looking better," Lucrezia Noin, Zech's long-time girlfriend, said as she walked up beside him.
"Better, but not good enough, Luce. The show is next Saturday," Zechs said, frowning. Flash was playing now, tossing his dished face, his flaxen tail lashing about his hocks. "Relena, bring him in."
She heaved a sigh and slowed Flash down, turning him for the center of the well-groomed arena. The Arabian gelding snorted and pulled on the double reins, not endearing himself to his rider.
Zechs pushed back his platinum hair from his vibrant blue eyes and looked up at his step-sister, seeing the frustration on her face. "Not bad, sis, but you're letting him push you around. Maybe he's still too much horse for you to handle." His tone was just a touch condescending, and Relena felt her cheeks blaze.
"Zechs," Luce warned, but knew this was beyond her. Relena narrowed her gentian eyes and turned the 15.3 horse, putting him into a canter as she rode to the gate.
"She just can't take constructive criticism." Zechs shook his head. "I shouldn't have let Mother talk me into buying him."
"Zechs, give her a break. She's only been riding Flash for six months," Luce pointed out, rolling her eyes.
"Professionals don't get breaks, Luce." He walked away, handsome in his dark red T and faded jeans. Lucrezia sighed and followed, wondering just why she put up with him sometimes.
Relena finished brushing down the fiery red horse and left his stall, leaning against the door to look at him. He was a magnificent horse, with a star and snip adorning his pretty head and four perfect stockings on his slender legs. "Why can't we get along?" she asked him.
"Problems, gorgeous?" She turned and smiled at Duo Maxwell, her long-time friend and riding companion. Reaching out, Relena tweaked his long chestnut braid, sighing. "Ah c'mon, tell me."
"It's nothing, Duo. Nothing different, anyway," she told him, shrugging. "Zechs is just being his wonderful, supportive self."
Duo frowned. In his opinion Zechs was too hard on Relena, but he would never say so. No one questioned Milliardo Peacecraft. "Don't let him get you down, Lena. You haven't been riding Flash that long." There was sympathy in his bright cobalt eyes and she gave him a quick hug.
"Thanks, Duo. You're always there for me," she said, giving him a real smile.
He slung an arm around her slender shoulders, giving them an affectionate squeeze. "C'mon. We're meeting at Quatre's tonight to study." Relena let out a groan.
"You know, it's not enough that we have to spend every waking hour we're not in school in the saddle, which I love, but then to have homework on top of that!" She put her head on his shoulder.
Duo laughed and led her out of the impressive Peacecraft stable and over to his Toyota Tacoma. "Middie is going to meet us there." Middie, Quatre, Duo, and Relena had been best friends since their first horse show at age six; they were each other's support systems. The four of them were training to ride at the U.S. Arabian Nationals the following fall in Kentucky. The third qualifying show was the next weekend, and they were all anxious, though Duo kept his nerves well-hidden.
Quatre Winner lived about two miles down the road; his parents raised some of the best Arabian stock in the world, their foundation sires and mares having been brought directly from Arabia. The handsome blonde was waiting for them out on the porch, a petite blonde girl sitting on the swing next to him. "How was your lesson today, Relena?" Quatre asked, knowing how Zechs could be.
She sighed. "He says I'm not ready for a horse like Flash." Middie Une stood up and shook her head.
"That's unfair, Lena. You haven't had Flash that long. I mean, it took me all last year to get used to Snowfire," Middie said. Her rose-grey mare was more than a little strung, but that was why Middie loved her so much, and why they always placed high in saddleseat.
"Yeah, that's what I told her," Duo agreed, nodding. "Hey Quat, you got any food?"
Quatre laughed. "Since when don't I? Come on. There're some Cokes we can steal too." The four friends entered the beautiful and spacious mansion that had been modeled after Scarlett O'Hara's Tara; Quatre's mother, Darla, was in love with the old Deep South. The teens raided the fridge and then headed to Quatre's big bedroom, their talk centered on the upcoming show.
One town over, in Claymont, Heero Yuy finished working his black-bay gelding, Windsor, and swung down, rubbing the sweaty horse's neck with a quiet hand. Windsor was a full-blooded Arab, and the best horse Heero had ever ridden.
"Ready for next weekend?" Trowa Barton, Heero's best friend, asked as Heero led his horse out of the arena.
Heero nodded. "We should be. What about you?"
Trowa sighed. "Scepter and I are having miscommunications. I want the left lead, he takes the right. Treize told me it's going to work out, but I don't know."
Heero glanced at him. "You have a week."
"I know." The two 17 year olds kept walking, Windsor snorting and tossing his head. Dusk was beginning to sweep the sunlight from the sky, dusting the horizon with pinks and golds. The barn lights were on, casting a muted candescence over the stalls and their occupants. Trowa's dark silver gelding stuck his head over his stall door and gazed at his owner, his large intelligent eyes reflecting the lights.
"It's about time you got done, Heero." Hilde Scheibeker, petite and ebony-haired, came out of the expansive tack room. "We have that chem test on Monday to study for."
"I'm not too worried." Heero led Windsor into his stall and dropped the reins to begin unsaddling him. Hilde stepped in and slid the bridle off, patting the gelding on his white nose. "You'll spoil him, Hilde." There was a mild joking tone to the handsome teen's face.
"Somebody has to take care of him," she shot back, punching him on the arm with a light fist. Heero just shook his head, his chocolate bangs bobbing against his forehead. Trowa stood outside the stall and watched, a half-smile on his lean, handsome face. They had all been friends since age eight when they'd met at Treize's Four Winds Stables for riding lessons.
"Ah, my three favorite pupils." Treize appeared at Windsor's door. "Heero, you looked good tonight, but remember, good..."
"Doesn't win blue," his three students chimed in. It was Treize's favorite mantra.
"Wonderful. Hilde, your lesson is at nine tomorrow. We need to work on your control and Magician's collection." Her black Arab gelding was very high-strung and he hated being collected up, always wanting to stretch his legs.
"Okay." She continued petting the dark bay.
"I will see you all tomorrow." Treize left them for his office, where he would no doubt be up until very late, watching videos of Arabian Nationals long past.
Heero collected his tack and left the stall, leaving Hilde to finish brushing down his horse. Trowa followed Heero, sensing Hilde wanted to be alone.
"Do you think she'll be able to handle Magician next Saturday? He was pretty out-of-control at the last show," Trowa said, helping Heero put his saddle, blanket, and bridle away.
Heero shrugged. "That's one reason she placed so high. Some of the judges like that type of ride."
"Yeah, I know. That blonde girl on the rose mare rides like that too. Always on the edge." The boys finished up and switched the lights off. They could hear Hilde talking in low tones to Windsor and exchanged looks.
"Hild, come on. We're getting pizza, on me." Heero opened the stall door and beckoned to her. The ebony-haired pixie gave the big bay one last pat and came out, attempting to smile. She loved Magician and loved showing, but knew she really had very little control over him in the ring.
Trowa put his arm around her as they walked out. "Don't sweat it, Hilde. You'll do fine next weekend."
"Thanks, Trowa." She leaned on him for a second, appreciating her friends' support. "Do you think he's too much for me? And be honest."
The two guys were silent as they went to Trowa's burgundy GMC. "I think Magician is the type of horse who's always on the edge of disaster," Trowa said, his tone gentle. "You ride him well, and I'm not sure anyone could do better."
"I think you're a little afraid of him." Heero put up his hands when she rounded on him. "Hilde, be honest with yourself. Doesn't it scare you a little to ride him when he freaks like that?" He was concerned for her, even though she was a very good rider.
She hung her head. "A little bit. But that's just the way he is. And the judges like that," she said, a defensive note in her voice.
"I'm not saying that. I'm just saying that he knows if you're afraid. Come on." Heero gave her a hand up into the lifted truck.
"We'll do fine next week," Trowa assured her. "We all have things to work on, Hilde."
"I know." She reached out and turned up the radio, singing along to Kenny Chesney and Uncle Kracker. The three teens settled back as they headed to the Pizza Hut in Dover, Trowa joining in to sing.
"Okay, I can't take it anymore. I swear, Mr. Lynch has it in for us!" Duo griped, throwing down his government book.
Middie finished her Coke and nodded. "No kidding. And I thought Zechs was a taskmaster. No offense, Lena."
"No, you're absolutely right. They both have it out for us," Relena said, rubbing her forehead.
"Come on gang, we need a break," Quatre said and stood up, offering the girls his hands. "Get up, Duo. Let's go get pizza."
Duo's cobalt eyes lit up and then fell. "No cash, man. Sorry."
Quatre grinned. "Like I don't have money. Come on, Maxwell." He leaped to his feet and followed the other three out.
"Why didn't you say so? I never turn down pizza."
"Since when do you ever turn down anything!" Middie teased, ducking as Duo pretended to bop her on the head.
"Funny, Mid. You should go on tour," he told her, holding his head high.
"I'd have to bring you for material," she quipped and then ran as he threatened to tickle her. Relena smiled and glanced at Quatre.
"So how are you and Swing doing?" she asked, watching his handsome face light up. Swing Step was his blood bay mare, a beautiful creature with a heritage as long as his.
"Great. I really think we'll take the western pleasure class and maybe hunt seat," he said, his tone enthusiastic.
"I just hope Flash and I meld more this week." Relena sighed. Quatre reached and took her hand, giving it a quick squeeze.
"You'll do fine. I think you and Middie will take the saddleseat classes," he told her, smiling. Relena smiled back. He was way too kind, at least about her.
"We'd better catch up or they'll leave us here," she said and they took off running. Duo and Middie were already in his truck, so Quatre and Relena took his black Mustang. It was a race into town, both guys trying to keep ahead of the other and the girls cheering them on. Quatre won the impromptu race and pulled into Pizza Hut next to a big burgundy GMC.
"Dude, that was low! You passed over the double yellows!" Duo accused, shaking his head, his long chestnut braid swinging at his back.
Quatre shrugged. "Like you didn't cheat when you rode the yellow for a mile?" Duo had the audacity to look shocked.
"I was trying to block you! That is not cheating!"
"Neither is passing when I get a shot, even if it is double yellows. Illegal, maybe, but not cheating."
Middie grabbed Relena's hand. "Come on. They'll be out here forever!" Relena nodded and the two girls went in, talking about their favorite subjects: Flash and Snowfire. Duo and Quatre followed, still arguing.
Hilde looked up from her menu. "Hey, that's those kids from the Peacecraft stable."
Trowa nodded, frowning. "Yeah. You'd think they were still in the stable." Hilde giggled, her sapphire eyes drawn to the boy with the braid. She remembered watching him ride at the last show; he was quite good, confident and relaxed, and his horse, a beautiful blue roan mare, was perfect.
"I hope they don't sit by us," Heero said, already annoyed with the small group. He watched the girl with honey-blonde hair for a moment, remembering that she rode a bright copper-chestnut gelding.
"Here they come," Trowa told him. The group was seated at the booth behind them and Heero gritted his teeth.
"Mountain Dews all around, doll," Duo told the cute waitress with a quick wink. "Okay – food." They began discussing, arguing really, over what to get.
"You know I hate mushrooms!" Middie told Duo, wrinkling up her nose.
"And I hate green peppers, but you always get them!" he fired back. "Relena, help me out!"
She sighed. She loved Duo, really, but he could be trying. "Peppers on half, mushrooms on the other half, and pepperoni all around," she told the waitress, who grinned.
Heero crossed his supple arms over his chest and glared at Hilde and Trowa. "They would have to sit behind me."
"Come on, Heero, relax. Do you think you'll beat that blonde with the blood bay?" Hilde asked. There was immediate silence from the other booth. Heero raised an eyebrow at her and she smiled.
"Maybe. It depends on if he screws up or not," he told her, shrugging.
Duo glanced at Quatre, who was fiddling with his straw, a frown on his face. They had recognized the riders from Four Winds Stable. "Do you think that dark-haired girl will be able to control that black horse this time?" Duo asked, feigning innocence to his knowledge of who was behind him. Relena and Middie just stared at him while Quatre frowned deeper.
When Hilde's eyes widened in hurt, Heero stood up and came around to the other booth. He settled his hard glare on Duo, who met it with a smile.
"Hey. I don't think we've met. I'm Duo Maxwell."
A/Ns: Okay, there's the first chapter. I don't know how much time I really have to put into this, but I will try to update every couple of weeks at least. After May I'll hopefully have more time (my sister's getting married at the end of the month!). Any questions with the horse terms, give me a buzz: hope you all enjoyed it! RL2