Alternate Universe Negotiations
Chris came out of his office in time to see Vin slam down the phone and shove back from his desk angrily. "Vin? What's up?" he asked as he approached.
Vin sighed. "The guy who boards my horses can't do it any more so I'm trying to find a new place. Only everywhere I've called so far is booked solid," he replied.
"You've got horses?" Chris asked, surprised. In the months since they'd met and formed the negotiations team Vin had never said anything about having horses.
Vin looked startled. "I'm sorry, I didn't tell you because … I … Buck said…" he faltered, not quite sure how to explain.
"Buck told you about how we were going to get a horse for Adam?" Chris asked softly, fighting back his initial response of anger, seeing how worried Vin was.
Vin nodded. "I mentioned having horses to him when we were working one day. I wondered if you'd want to see them and he told me about what you were planning for Adam. I thought it would be best if you didn't know …I wasn't sure how… I am sorry, Chris," he repeated, ducking his head slightly.
Chris couldn't help but smile slightly at his friend. "It's alright Vin. It's true that if the subject had come up a few months ago I probably wouldn't have handled it all that well. Now, it's not so bad…" he admitted.
Vin nodded, understanding.
"So, how many you got?" Chris asked a moment later.
"Two, black Quarter Horses. I've had them a few years," Vin said.
Chris watched him, thinking. He wasn't sure exactly how he felt about Vin having kept the horses from him but he did understand the reasons. "You can keep them at my place. There's an old barn out back with a corral, not sure what condition it's in though," he said.
"Are you sure?" Vin asked, looking up at Chris.
Chris met his gaze. "Of course I'm sure."
"Alright, I have a couple weeks until I have to get the horses moved so how about I come over this weekend and check out the barn?" Vin asked.
That weekend Vin came over as promised and found that the barn wasn't as bad as Chris had thought. It needed some cleaning and the stalls needed some repairs but it was suitable for Vin's horses. Vin spent much of the next two weeks working getting both the barn and the corral ready. They'd also decided to, at some point, put up a fence around a large portion of Chris's land for a pasture. For now though, the barn and corral were enough.
Two weeks later
Chris headed for the front door as he heard Sam barking, indicating a car was coming up the drive. He opened the door and wheeled out onto the porch just as Vin came to a stop in front of the house. Behind his jeep was a horse trailer.
"Hey Chris!" Vin called as he got out of the jeep and headed for the back of the trailer.
Chris wheeled down the ramp and approached Vin's jeep, as Vin appeared with one of the horses on a lead rope.
"Here, say hello to Pony while I get Peso out. He's being a stubborn cuss, stupid horse doesn't want to get into the trailer, then he doesn't want to get out!" Vin grumbled as he headed back to the trailer, leaving Chris holding Pony's lead rope.
Pony brought his head down and nudged Chris' chest.
"Hey, there," Chris said as he petted Pony's nose. "Sorry buddy, I don't have any snacks for you at the moment," he said as Pony kept nudging him, apparently looking for something.
"He wants a treat for being in such close quarters with Peso for all of a half hour," Vin quipped, as he approached with the second horse.
Chris chuckled. "Don't get along huh?" he asked.
"Not when they're forced to be in the same area for long. Peso's stubborn and doesn't like being confined to small quarters. Pony's better tempered and will do just about anything you want," Vin explained, and as if to prove a point Peso shoved him from behind at that moment. "Hey!" Vin snapped, turning back to his horse. "I better get him into the corral," he commented, before moving off with the horse.
Chris snorted and petted Pony's nose some more. "Guess you do deserve a treat," he said. Turning back towards the house, he saw Sam laying on the porch watching. "Sam, get an apple!" he called out, and watched as Sam got up and went back into the house. He grinned when Sam returned a few moments later with the requested item.
"Now that's pretty neat," Vin called as he came back in time to see the dog bring Chris the apple.
"Yep, he's been trained well," Chris replied as he took the apple from Sam and then handed it over to Pony, who ate it in one gulp. "Next time it will be sugar, I promise," he said the horse, and Pony nudged him gently again.
Vin walked up and petted Pony's neck and back. "You could ride, Pony if you wanted to," he said.
"Is that possible?" Chris asked, startled. People kept telling him that he could do almost anything anyone else could, but he hadn't thought riding was one of them.
"Sure, have you heard of therapeutic riding?" Vin asked.
"Been talking to Mary?" Chris asked, frowning slightly.
"No, one of the kids I work with at the community center told me about it. He's been going to one of the riding therapy centers for a while. They have all kinds of kids with different disabilities riding the horse and then helping to take care of them. I did some checking and it turns out it's pretty good therapy for a lot of disabilities," Vin explained.
"Huh," Chris grunted, he turned back to petting Pony for a moment. "How would I get up on him? I'm not planning on letting someone lift me up and down," he muttered.
"We'd build a ramp like they use at the therapy centers," Vin replied.
Chris looked up at Vin for a moment, "You planned this somehow," he stated.
Vin met his gaze easily, admitting nothing.
"I'll think about it," Chris finally relented. He handed the lead rope to Vin and then moved back away from Pony.
"Okay," Vin replied, as he led Pony to the corral.
Two months later
"Ready?" Vin asked as he brought Peso up beside Chris and Pony. They had gotten the ramp built within a week and then with some help from Nathan and Mary had spent the next few weeks showing Chris how to ride again. This would be their first ride outside the corral.
"I sure am," Chris said as he shifted slightly in the special saddle design for paraplegic riders. Learning how to ride again hadn't been as hard as he had thought it would be. Of course, it helped to have a friend along for the ride.
"Well, let's get going," Vin said and started forward.
"Hey, Vin?" Chris called as he followed behind.
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