If Wishes Were Horses

by Jane Davitt


A/N AU with a pony play setting.


The hay bale I'm scattering around the stable is sending up dust to tickle my nose into producing a series of sneezes. The six ponies walking by on their way to the exercise yard don't turn their blinkered heads to look at me, but the last one, the glossy black one, tosses his head and snorts, the small sound registering as amused to my ears.

So I'm funny, huh? I shake my head and send the next pitchfork of slippery yellow stalks in his direction as he disappears around the corner, his long tail swaying in the summer breeze. They float to the floor in arcs as graceful as that line of ponies had been and land in a silent patter.

The group that just left are boarders, here for the week. This is my first full day back after a short vacation, but when I'd done the rounds the night before, I'd checked their details. The board attached to each stall gave me a name, owner contact details if applicable, dietary requirements and anything else I needed to know about. That last can vary from allowed treats to pet names; from the color of the horse blanket they sleep under to any ongoing discipline.

I'd given Princess Stacy an apple, sliced small so that she could take it from my hand, her mouth and tongue leaving my palm damp with saliva. She'd made soft nickering sounds, tossing her head and nipping crossly at my fingers when the apple was all gone.

The sleek black pony was called Kawallu. It made a change from some of the more banal names I'd seen in my time here, even if it just meant 'horse' in Quechua. He was asleep when I looked at him, naked, his skin pale against the navy blanket half covering him. He slept deeply, utterly relaxed, but when Jake clanged a bucket against the wall, he startled awake, the hand that had been an open curve, offering itself to the air, scrabbling at the folded blanket under his head.

His eyes met mine, bewildered, lost, and I opened the stall door and crouched down beside him, crooning a reassurance. While I was there, I checked the harness he wore. Most of our ponies sleep in something; nothing around their necks or in their mouths, nothing tight, but something. He had black leather straps crossing a deep, heavily muscled chest and fastened to a belt. The straps weren't all that the belt was there to anchor. He wasn't wearing it now, but on a shelf his tail lay waiting for the morning, brushed free of tangles and dust. The optional, detachable plug -- mm, that was an ambitious size -- was set beside it, freshly sterilized, gleaming in the low light, as dense a black as his body suit. That was folded neatly. The owner of the stables is big on order and cleanliness and I approve of that. No shortcuts, no compromise. The fees here are high, but we make sure it's worth the expense.

No rider -- poor pony -- so while he was with us, he was ours, subject to our discipline. I petted his flank and then, when he wouldn't settle, moving restlessly on the bedding, biting at the edge of his blanket nervously, I took down his grooming brushes. We had our own hand signals, taught to all boarders on their first day; pretty standard ones, so in most cases they were already familiar with them. I gave him the signal for 'all fours', a tap on his left hip, and flipped the blanket away when he began to move. He was shaking, a fine tremor running through him, and I hissed a wordless lullaby through my teeth, 'sss-sah-hai-sha', a habit I'd picked up from somewhere, maybe my first trainer, and began to work him over. It was a modified, gentler version of what would have been done to him earlier, after his bath. This wasn't to leave his skin tingling, invigorated; this was to get him back to sleep. Tomorrow was his last day and leaving days were always stressful, no matter how much had been achieved during the stay.

I wished I'd gotten the chance to see him work. The body pinking up under the pass of the brush was powerful, honed to an enviable edge of fitness. The liquid spill of the thin, tough bodysuit across it would have made every muscle stand out beautifully. His heavy cock would hang down in its sheath, swaying as he walked, swelling maybe as he was trained, the flick of a whip rousing him.

 No rider…I wondered if he'd been allowed release this week. Riderless, that would have been his choice, specified when he arrived. If he'd left it up to us, and most did, it would depend on how well he'd behaved. We didn't reward rebellious ponies with anything but the firm control they were looking for. We were known for our ability to tame -- not break -- and we were proud of our reputation.

Kawallu didn't look wild, but there was too much tension still in his long legs, legs that would have been aching with tiredness those first few days, and in those powerful arms. I put a bit between his teeth, and fastened it behind his head, the short dark hair slippery with the oil that made it glisten beautifully. The smell of the oil told me that I was home like nothing else. One drop and work it through well…

He liked the bit. It settled him down and he stopped trembling, his head drooping down as he submitted to the rough kiss of the bristles. I made the strokes long and steady, still singing to him under my breath, and breathed in the clean, salt scent of his body.

I wished I'd been the one to bathe him earlier, the water from the hose playing over his rump and drizzling down his legs. Wished I’d seen him feed, those thin, well-shaped lips opening obediently for a crisp, snapped piece of apple or carrot.

Wished I'd seen him in the training circle, trotting, cantering, strength and elegance combined, or in front of me, pulling me along in a sulky, harnessed and decorated in any way I chose, the coarse silk of his tail whipping from side to side as I urged him to speed up with stinging flicks from my crop, applied just so.

When he was quiet, moving with easy shifts of his body, his blue eyes drowsy, I settled him down and removed the bit. He didn't like that, but I frowned when he tried to keep it in his mouth and watched the tiny flash of rebellion be replaced by a submission that was too smoothly achieved for him to be new to this.

Why no rider? He was perfect, a prize. I patted his flank through the blanket and walked away, reluctant to leave him, but aware of duties waiting.

I had rules to obey, too.

***

When I finish with the hay, I walk to the door and squint against the sunlight, searching out the tall, dark pony. Oh, yeah…Gorgeous. He moves with control and poise, glorying in what he's doing, striving to be perfect for Jack, whose encouraging him with a smile I can see from here.

I stand and watch for longer than I should and then sigh and turn away. Would I like a pony of my own? Sure. Would I like him?

I give it some consideration. I've put off choosing one for many reasons, but Jack told me that I'd know when it was time and that he'd help me to make it work. I remember the way Kawallu quieted under my hand, that flash of humor this morning... Yeah, I want him and I think he might interested in me enough to agree to a trial run.

Knowing my luck, he lives on the other side of the country and we won't be able to do this; ships that pass and all that shit.

I chew my lip. His file would tell me if I might as well forget about it, but the information is confidential, coded, and to begin a relationship with a lie would be a poor start.

I'll just ask him. If he says no, I've lost nothing but hope and I've got plenty left of that.

I find him in the changing room and I almost hate to intrude. Going from pony to human again is difficult, especially after a week immersed in play. He looks up at me when I enter with eyes dreamy with peace, contented eyes, and slips his body suit into a duffel, beat-up and worn.

"Hi," I say and drift over to him, moving slowly so I don't spook him. After a while in this job, I found myself treating most people like ponies to a certain extent. "Blair."

He starts to reply, clears his throat and tries again. A week without talking is a trip in itself. "Hi."

Huh. No name offered. Okay, I get that.  "Can we talk?"

"What about?" His voice is steadier now, confident and assured. Maybe even suspicious. Interesting.

"I noticed that you don't have a rider." Blunt, but he's almost finished with his packing and I can feel his impatience to leave. I'm guessing that what he really wants is to stay, but because he can't, he wants to get the hell out; clean breaks hurt less.

He flinches, his jaw clenching. "My choice."

"Totally, man, but we both know it's better when you're with someone."

"It's not an option for me."

"I wish it was," I tell him and his gaze comes to me. I stand and let him look me over, keep my breathing unhurried and my posture relaxed. Inside, I'm freaking, but he doesn't need to know that. I want him. Want him so bad. I could train him, take him deep...make it so good for both of us, I know I could.

"You?" The surprise in his voice isn't flattering. "I don't think so."

"You'd be my first, but don't think I'm inexperienced," I tell him. "I've worked here for five years. I know what I'm doing."

"You clean the stables."

I laugh. "Oh, yeah. I do. Everyone does that from time to time. But if I'd been here this week, I'd have been one of your trainers for at least a few of your sessions. I'm good at this."

He chews that over and then shrugs. "Still not interested. I can't -- this isn't something I can do often." His hand clenches around the strap of his duffle, the one holding his tack, his suit, and I can taste the regret in his voice like sour wine on my lips. "It wouldn't work out."

"Are you from around here?"

He takes his time answering me, but eventually says, "Cascade."

"Oh..." That's closer than I'd hoped. I can leave the stables and be sipping a caffe latte by the water, Cascade rising up behind me like the mountains surrounding it, in less than an hour. "If it's the expense of using a place like this that's bothering you, that would be my responsibility, not yours." I wait a beat and say deliberately, "You'dbe mine."

He likes that, oh, I can see how much he does. Those bright blue eyes widen and he flushes, blood rising hot in his face as his composure deserts him abruptly. "I -- I can't."

"Mind telling me why?" I ask, pushing him harder than I should because this is starting to become one of those moments when you can almost hear the crack and splinter of tension. This matters. He matters. My beautiful pony.

Mine.

He picks up his duffle and fumbles through it. What he shows me has my jaw dropping.

"A cop? You're a fucking -- " I slam my hand against his leg, not even realizing until later that I strike him exactly where I would have lain a punishment slash from a crop. He staggers back, his grace lost, the contentment gone from his eyes. He looks betrayed, but that has to be a reflection from my face, because I'm the one -- we're the ones who've been betrayed.

"Going to arrest me?" I hiss. "Going to have a laugh with your cop buddies about the crazy fucking pervs you had to deal with? Want some jokes to tell them? What do you call a pony with a --"

I don't get the chance to finish, because hands that have spent a week muffled in gloves shaped like hooves, heavy enough to make keeping them in position an effort, are on me, gripping my shirt tightly.

I hit the wall with enough force that I bite my tongue, the pain intense enough to make my eyes water. He's breathing in my face now, hot, acrid breath, his eyes blurred with tears. "This isn't a job, an investigation. This is me, this is who I am -- If they knew -- if you tell them --"

He releases me suddenly, and spins away, his foot kicking back, smashing into the wall. I've seen horses -- real ones -- do that when they've been angered or scared, rising up, shod hooves lethal, lashing back with a kick that could break bones. A sound rips from his throat, a scream, equine, not human, and then he crumples to the ground, silently sobbing, curled in on himself in a way no pony could do, turning his back on what he wants to be.

Because of me.

Oh, God, because of me.

And I don't know if I can calm him, don't know if I can regain his trust, until we're at a place where he's greeting me with a loving whinny, and eating sugar lumps from my hand, my pony, mine, but I fall to my knees beside him and for now, just for now, I hug the man, not the pony and tell him he's safe and I'm sorry.

And wish -- what do I wish for?

What I've always wanted, since I was a kid.

A pony of my own.

This one.


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