Mustang Hill Chapter 12 section

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Mustang Hill Chapter 12 section

Post by Ranger52899 on Sun Mar 13, 2016 11:18 am

Some original bits of Chapter 12 from Mustang Hill that were later changed or removed:




It was clear this had happened before, and that it was more serious than a simple nightmare.


Luath went back to his room and fumbled in the dark for socks and a sweater as the stone floors downstairs were cold despite the still glowing embers of the fire in the family room hearth, and he joined Jasper, Flynn and Dale in the kitchen a few minutes later, where Flynn was pouring mugs of strong tea. Dale was doing his obvious best not to look as if he was pacing, but his shoulders were rigid under the fleece jacket someone had made him put on, and his hands were visibly shaking. Jasper had dark eyes steadily on him, leaning forward in his chair with his hands linked between his knees, his hair loose over his shoulders. Luath quietly took a seat at the table and watched Flynn put the mugs down on the table, pull out a chair and sit down, but sideways on so he faced Dale, and he put out a hand as he would to a spooked horse, not touching, but waiting.


“Was there anything different about this one? Who fell this time?”


“No one.” Dale picked up a mug and took a long swallow of scalding tea. He sounded incongruously calm. He was standing just out of reach of Flynn’s fingertips and had apparently not seen the waiting hand, but a moment later he moved without looking and some hesitation to within reach of it, and Flynn drew him down onto his lap. There was a lot of strength in the grip as if Flynn was ready for something; Luath saw Dale’s almost immediate recoil and Flynn’s grasp insistently pull him close, not letting him move. The silent battle lasted perhaps a couple of seconds, then Dale put his mug down on the table and twisted around to bury himself hard in Flynn’s arms and turn his head into Flynn’s shoulder, all his strength engaged in going to rather than pulling away. Flynn held him tightly, saying nothing, and across the table from them, Jasper sipped tea, eyes watchful. From where he sat, Luath could clearly see Dale’s shoulders vibrating. A very reserved man, really, seriously distressed.


“Nothing really happened.” Dale said eventually as he hadn’t lifted his head. “It was more-”


He trailed off, a little helplessly.


“How it felt.” Luath said gently, understanding. “The simplest dreams can feel the worst sometimes, can’t they?”


He caught Flynn’s brief, sharp glance at him.


Yes? What nightmares did you have tonight?


Mind your own business, brat.


“What have you been dreaming about?” Luath asked, shifting back in his chair and cradling his tea mug. They were the old, battered mugs that were used outside in the yard to avoid risking the good china; Flynn had reached for them by habit as Luath would have done, and there was a deep familiarity in the old, faded glaze and the occasional chips. The tea tasted of home, the mugs felt of home, the group of them around the table in the night felt like home too, and Luath was aware of the guilt of taking some comfort from this when Dale was so obviously upset. “I’m guessing this is something reoccurring?” 


“It’s a long story.” Dale sounded shakier but Luath thought he looked calmer. He let go of Flynn enough to pick up his mug and Flynn rubbed his shoulders with one hand, keeping hold of him.


“We’re not in any hurry.”


“It’s ridiculous.” Dale sipped tea and grimaced at the heat. “There’s always someone doing something normal – fixing something, climbing something – and they fall, usually horribly. I don’t often see what happens once they hit ground but-”


He trailed off and Luath nodded.

“You know what happens is going to be awful. Who falls?”


“So far?” Dale said with heavy irony. Flynn swatted his hip.


“Stop it. No one is criticising you; humans dream.”


There was no pout, no scowl; Dale gave Flynn a wry glance that held visible affection before he answered.


“Wade. Gerry. Darcy. Bear.”


“Anything else happen?”

“There’s vaguer things that happen around it.” Dale said a little more unwillingly. “Nothing with any import but – as you say, the emotions around it are incongruous.”

Incongruous. The man was calmly using words like incongruous, in the middle of the night, from Flynn’s lap.


“Like what?” Flynn asked him. They’d obviously discussed this before. Dale shrugged.


“The same over and over. A quarry in the woods. A stallion – white, it’s not Bandit. A heavy mist rising from the ground. Faces in the mist.”


“What do horses symbolise in dreams?” Luath asked Flynn.


“We’ve been through this.” Dale said with a touch of frustration. “In as much as generalised image symbolism is applicable to individuals out of context – a horse can symbolise power or independence,  fertility particularly related to stallions – although fertility in this psychological context means creative ability as well as simply sex – or even as a symbol of ‘hoarseness’, an inability to express an  idea. What is relevant is the appearance of the horse, and the emotions aroused. In this case, a powerful, healthy stallion, white, and the emotions are-”


Terror. Luath heard the word he couldn’t bring himself to say.


“Watching someone else fall, particularly someone important, can symbolise a feeling of a near miss.” Dale added crisply as though he’d never stopped. “Which brings us back to the bloody project, I know – near miss, independence I’m afraid of, an inability to deal with it, a whole lot of anxiety around it.”


The anger in his voice was very different from the vulnerability of a couple of minutes ago and Luath met Flynn’s eyes with a brief apology for having started him down what was obviously a very unhelpful line of thought.


“I don’t think it’s work.” Dale said shortly. “I know it’s the obvious bloody answer, but I don’t.”

“No one’s asking you to admit to anything.” Flynn said just as shortly. “If you don’t agree then you don’t have to justify it, you’re the only one who knows this information.”


“And I’ve got such a fantastic track record on self awareness and denial.” Dale said bitterly, trying to get up. Flynn didn’t let him.


“Wade, Gerry, Darcy and Bear.” Luath said, tactfully keeping his eyes off the discreet physical battle which Flynn won. “That was Rog’s generation. If you’re looking for symbols then there’s a very obvious one to do with someone from that group falling – Dale, don’t look like that. I love talking about Rog and I’m very familiar with the facts of how he died.”


“Paul and Philip are there too if I go to the house.” Dale said subduedly. “Paul’s in his twenties. You’re there too.”

“Again, Rog’s generation.” Luath said calmly. “Falling seems a very obvious link to Rog to me.”


It was how Dale had heard the others refer to the group at the time they lived in this house – Wade, Niall and James were another generation; Riley, Flynn and Jasper another. The symbolism was obvious when you looked for it.


“All mixed up with what we found out about Mustang Hill.” Flynn said gruffly. “You and Riley are as bad as each other with any kind of history to this place.”

“What about Mustang Hill?” Luath asked with interest.


“Dale found a sacred site up there.” Flynn told him. “You know that clearing where nothing grows?”


“Yes.” Luath said promptly. “Rog used to sit up there for hours and read. He said you could hear the river and it was sheltered, a very peaceful place.”

Flynn nodded. “There’s rock carvings there, and the remains of medicine shields. Jas and Dale did some investigation with the Shoshone historians and found it’s a known sacred site, there was a stallion buried up there which defended a Shoshone village during an attack according to their legends.”

“Nothing grows where the bones are?” Luath whistled softly. “I didn’t realise there was any remains nearer than Eagle Canyon or Rog wouldn’t have dreamed of disturbing the place.”

“Roger wasn’t someone who could be disrespectful towards anything.” Jasper said mildly. “If he found it peaceful up there, he was probably more aware of what was there than we were.”


“He liked atmosphere.” Luath sipped tea, thinking of several places Roger loved to be and others that he flatly refused to walk into. Often without explanation. He vividly remembered walking several miles in pouring rain at some late hour of the night to find a taxi because Roger would not walk down a staircase to a subway station that he felt wasn’t a good place to be. And the balcony at home that he lived on, day, night, sunshine or snow. “There’s probably a few books still up there. Jackets. Shoes.”


Flynn and Jasper both smiled. Dale nearly choked on his tea. Then he freed himself from Flynn’s lap and went to the pile of jackets hanging on the back of the door. They’d been wearing the heavier ones in the past few weeks, now it was getting seriously cold outside, especially in the mornings. The lighter fleeces they wore in early fall were underneath, it had been some time since they’d been worn, and Dale had to dig to find them and then to search the pockets. They all carried stuff in their pockets, there were items in each one – string, the occasional nail, hoof picks, and in the bottom of one pocket the glasses frames Dale remembered stuffing there and forgetting on the day the chopper brought the project work out to the ranch.


Black frames, looking as if they’d been stepped on at some point, with one lense broken.


Luath put out a hand automatically as Dale offered them to him, eyebrows raising, then his face warmed into a smile as he turned them over.


“I knew it. He had a genius for losing things and incredibly selective attention,  he could seriously come home with one boot on and no idea where he’d left the other one. He usually wouldn’t remember too clearly where he’d gone either, Philip worked long and hard on him about keeping track of things.”

“Do you remember him losing these?” Dale asked. Luath shook his head, running his fingers gently over the broken glasses.


“He lost at least three sets here that I know of, and he was answering to Philip at that point, not to me.”


Flynn patted Dale’s hip, collecting together the now empty mugs.


“We need to get some sleep.”

“I’ll finish my tea.” Luath said peaceably, settling back with his hand still on the glasses. “Goodnight. Sweeter dreams, Dale.”

He got a courteous ‘thank you’ from the boy with the grey eyes, but Dale stooped suddenly and awkwardly as he passed Luath, and Luath felt two hands rest briefly and very lightly on his shoulders and a kiss brushed his cheek. There was a shattering sincerity to it.  Roger would have liked this quiet brat very much.







            Jasper didn’t go back to his own room. Dale shifted closer to Flynn to make room for Jasper who lay down on his other side, and Flynn snapped out the light, yanking the covers straight as he settled back and hooked an arm under Dale’s shoulders. Dale turned over to lie against his side within the shelter of that arm, head against his shoulder, Jasper against his back, and Jasper’s arm folded over his waist. The comfort in it was penetrating. Here between them, with the warmth and solidity of both of them sandwiching him, feeling the rhythm of their breathing – it took away a lot of fear. If he didn’t sleep again tonight, Dale had no problem whatever with just lying here like this in the dark.


It occurred to him lying there, that where Flynn often held him like this – close against his side, a sheltering action as though Flynn blocked any harm from him with his own body, Jasper often placed himself against Dale’s back.


I’ve got your back.


The saying brought back a long afternoon at school, and a Greek lesson on the Peloponnesian wars that at the age of fourteen had made a deep impression on him.


“The Sacred Band of Thebes,” he said aloud, “Was a military company deliberately constructed of 150 pairs of male lovers. It was founded on the principle that men never fought more fiercely or passionately than when protecting and supporting their loved ones.”


In the worst of battle, the couples were famed for standing back to back to fight, each man entrusting his blind spot to the defence of his partner.


There was a short silence in which Dale became aware that it had been a rather random statement. Then Flynn grunted.


“Thank you. Go to sleep.”


Dale turned his head slightly towards Jasper. “You don’t think this is about work or stress.”


“You don’t have to justify yourself to either of us, we believe you.” Flynn said shortly. “What does that have to do with Thebes?”


“Do you?” Dale persisted.


“I think you’re trying to tell yourself something.” Jasper said gently. “And I don’t believe that you can or you should try to force it or figure it out academically. Things unfold in their own time, when they are ready to happen.”


That was one of Jasper’s personal values and a value of this household, and something they’d taught him from the first day he spent in this house.

Flynn pulled him closer. “Let it go. Nothing is going to happen that we can’t handle.”










Jasper got up and went into the laundry room, returning with folded jeans and sweaters. Enough for the three of them. Luath realised and shook his head, even as Dale let go of Flynn and shakily got up to pull jeans on over his shorts.


“You’re seriously going to go out on pastures when it’s pitch black and freezing cold? You’ll put a foot down a rabbit hole and break an ankle if you don’t get lost-”


Jasper grinned at him, pulling a sweater on, and Luath shook his head.


“You still haven’t grown out of wandering around out there at all hours? Don’t you people need sleep?”


“Come with us?” Flynn invited. He was dressed now and he went to the door, stooping to sort out his boots and pull them on before he lifted down three of the heavy winter jackets from the pegs. Luath winced at the thought.


“No thank you. I’m going to take my tea back to bed, I do need sleep.”

And Dale needed some time to himself with them. Luath collected the mugs, watching them dress for the weather outside, and turned the lights off as Jasper opened the door out onto the porch, admitting a blast of icy air. The first snows couldn’t be far away.


“If you’re not back by dawn, I’ll come check the rabbit holes.”


They shut the door behind them and Luath rinsed out the mugs, eyes on the dark corral through the window. He couldn’t summon the will to go upstairs again. Instead he sat on the hearth in the family room for a while, poking the dying fire to rekindle the embers. Bear had been occasionally prone to disturbed dreams. Always looking so impervious, there was a real innocence to Bear if you knew him well. Gerry and Darcy, much quicker on the uptake, much more ready to laugh things off and talk them through, had rarely been upset by anything imagined or dreamed. And Roger, more gentle and imaginative than any of them, often processed things in his sleep that slipped by him entirely during the day. Roger had often been the one sitting at the table in the early hours, although he wouldn’t have wanted to be outside on a cold night. He would have far preferred to be huddled up here by the fire. Comforting arms and someone to talk to had been all he ever wanted. Never complicated or demanding, Roger; a simple man with a very open heart, who loved familiarity and truly appreciated the simplest things in life.


When the embers finally greyed and gave off only warmth instead of heat, Luath went softly back upstairs to the little room under the eaves and made the bed. Light was starting to grey the sky outside in the very first traces of dawn. Pulling jeans on, finding a sweater, Luath went downstairs, put on boots and picked one of the jackets at random, shouldering into it. The dogs stirred in their bed inside the half open barn door and one got up, trailing him as he walked down the yard, past the corral where the horses lifted their heads to watch. At the gate, Luath rested his arms on the top wooden rail and looked out at the long, steep hay pastures that led towards the tops where the horses ran, the shadowed woodland that ran alongside the river, and resolutely tried not to think of labs or slides or pipes or anything but the open land and the grass.


Where are you, sweetheart? Where did you get to?
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Re: Mustang Hill Chapter 12 section

Post by Blue Stocking on Sun Mar 13, 2016 12:28 pm

Oh wow!! This is lovely and amazing!
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Re: Mustang Hill Chapter 12 section

Post by Meirene6307 on Sun Mar 13, 2016 9:08 pm

Absolutely fantastic,  I will never get enough of your stories,  being able to use words in such a thought provoking and beautiful way is a real gift

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Re: Mustang Hill Chapter 12 section

Post by JL on Wed Mar 16, 2016 2:08 am

Thank you so much for sharing these!  I love the part with Jasper joining Flynn and Dale in bed.  I've often imagined him doing that in my head.

The part with Luath's thoughts at the end was heartrending.  It so makes me wish Luath could really talk to Roger.  It's so sad to think of certain members of FCR and realize that they have passed away.  I'm grateful for the earlier stories of the ranch where we get to enjoy those characters in life. 
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Re: Mustang Hill Chapter 12 section

Post by jkfan on Wed Mar 16, 2016 5:23 am

I can never read about Luath and Roger without crying.  Luath's loss is so painful.  On a very personal note, my dad died at home.  My stepmother and myself were with him when he passed, and my stepmother said almost exactly what Luath said here. 

 "Oh sweetheart, where did you go?" 

 I guess we all wonder the same thing when we lose someone dear to us.  They're here one moment and gone the next.  I never could wrap my mind around that.
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Post by joanne70 on Sun May 08, 2016 4:32 am

I loved this. Poor Luath, I'm glad he's at the Ranch where he can talk to people who loved Rog as well. The palpable love between Dale, Flynn and Jasper shines through as well.

Thank you R and R for creating these men for us.


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Re: Mustang Hill Chapter 12 section

Post by robyn smith on Wed May 11, 2016 12:09 pm

That dust again...(sniffs).

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Re: Mustang Hill Chapter 12 section

Post by Chris Dangerfield on Fri Mar 08, 2019 9:06 pm

Just amazing and fascinating. I'm glad I read your final first, but to read this is just a treat -- for all the reasons others have stated above -- and how evocative it is in making us think of "absent friends."

My mother (usually annually) recently replied to an email I sent her talking about the beautiful mountain view I have in our new house. (We've just moved). She saw the pictures and wrote, "Your father would have loved those mountains and probably been the first to drag you off to explore their beauties... it's been 32 years this March and he's still missed."

I know it wasn't about making me sad, but oh the tear-age. She was so right. People we love don't really go away. They are just more out of reach than we could possibly wish.

Lovely out-take R&R. Thank you.
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Re: Mustang Hill Chapter 12 section

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