Pairing: Frank/Gerard, Mikey/Ray, Spencer/Jon, Brendon/Ryan, Pete/Patrick, Gabe/William, Vicky/Nate, Alex/Ryland, Bert/Jepha
Disclaimer: This is so not real.
Summary: “Just think,” Frank put in as Vicky lurched and they broke into a run, circling a tree, “Gabe will be next. He always gets bitten.” Sequel to Un-Dock-Umented and Three Bags Full.
A/N: Somehow this became The Farm Chronicles (direct your thanks via dizzydazeydani) So basically, I'm alive in China and I can post stuff, but I don't have anything to post atm. So I hope you enjoy what I do have.
If there was any other time aside from shearing season and lambing that Gerard hated more than anything, it was the summertime. After he’d been humiliated at shearing and endured numerous lambs’ woes, he thought he deserved to relax, but unfortunately, that never seemed to happen.
He shuffled out to his isolated corner with Frank, Mikey, Ray, and Bob, and the new lambs following Pete and Patrick along as well; he was determined to stay there until the leaves changed colors and he had to go to the barn at night.
But the farmer had other ideas.
Bert and Jepha were seasoned herding dogs, ears keen and sharp, teeth ready to snap the heel of any sheep that walked past in the wrong direction. Bert was the top dog, and no one would dare refute it. He got to live inside with the farmer and his wife, curled up in front of the fire in the winter and begging for treats at the dinner table.
Jepha usually wormed his way in as well, pushing at Bert’s matted fur and pawing his head until Bert let him have a bite of his scraps.
Bert was the king of the castle and everyone knew it. Even the sheep knew it, those useless balls of fluff. And if they didn’t, Bert was sure to let them know.
Lately, though, Bert had gotten the feeling that not everything was as it should be. The year before, there had been puppies, multiple puppies who yapped and clambered over everything, whining in the middle of the night and barking at the moon.
It wasn’t that Bert wasn’t used to puppies, but usually they were gone after a few months. But this time, they had stayed, all four of them.
Nate was the smallest, clumsy on his feet and always knocking into Vicky, the alpha female of their little pack. Vicky growled and snapped at him whenever he did it, but Nate somehow always ended up licking her ears later in apology.
Vicky’s black fur was sleek and shiny, dark all over except for a small blaze of white down her muzzle that Bert had seen Jepha eyeing appreciatively. The thought had not made him happy.
The other two were gangly little dogs, always attacking each other, chewing on ears and biting heels. Alex stood out against the other three with his brown and white coat while Ryland blended in, tri-colored and slim.
Bert had no problem with puppies, except when they got in his way, and except when the farmer started treating them differently.
It started one early summer morning; Bert had woken up to the farmer rolling out of bed, stretching and reaching for his shoes. He had been getting up earlier, Bert had noticed, and taking the puppies out more and more. Bert didn’t like it.
Suspicious, Bert followed the farmer out to the kitchen where the puppies were sleeping together all tumbled together in a basket. At the first footstep, they were up, pushing and scrabbling against each other to be the first up, barking and tails wagging ferociously as they jumped up on the farmer. At a quick whistle, they promptly sat, and Bert stared.
It couldn’t be.
Vicky was at the front, tail still wagging on the linoleum floor and eyes fixed attentively upward.
“Let’s go,” the farmer said, swinging open the kitchen door, and the puppies took off. Bert followed cautiously, paying no heed to Jepha, who had appeared at his shoulder, stretching long against the floor.
Plopping down at the edge of the field, Bert watched sharply as the farmer instructed him to stay and turned to the puppies.
Jepha nuzzled into his neck and then flopped on the ground tiredly, chewing on his paw.
The sheep were scattered in groups all over the pasture, and Bert could see the little black sheep in the far corner, barely visible under his flock. The one with the horns was flopped most of the way on top of him. The llamas were dozing amidst the lambs but perked up immediately at the sounds of the puppies.
The farmer went out to the middle of the pasture, the puppies romping around him. Vicky made a circle back to him, waiting eagerly. Bert didn’t like her.
A short whistle brought the rest of the puppies in, crouched down on the ground. Bert couldn’t believe this.
He and Jepha were the herding dogs. This was their pasture, their sheep, their territory. And it was summer. Summer meant herding competitions, but they hadn’t had any practice yet, any notice at all. Bert was beginning to get very suspicious.
The farmer tied up the three boys to the fence as Vicky sat impatiently, tail wagging and tongue hanging out already. Bert shifted restlessly next to Jepha, who whined a yawn and closed his eyes.
The first whistle sent Vicky streaking across the field to the black sheep’s corner. Bert saw the sheep jump up, scattering almost immediately as Vicky rounded the fence. The llamas were up in a second, Pete already raring to charge. The lambs followed behind him closely, tripping over each other.
Gerard ran after Frank as the new puppy rounded another circle, yipping loudly. Her dark eyes gleamed, and Gerard thought she might be scarier than Bert. He crowded into Frank, who butted his shoulder gently.
“I’ll gore her, I swear I will,” he said as Mikey ran into him, falling over his back while Ray crowded in against him.
“My wool,” Ray complained as he stumbled into a mud puddle. His wool was still pretty short, but some of the bounce had returned in the past few weeks. Now, the ends were dripping with mud.
“Looks good,” Mikey mumbled as Ray crowded him over again when Vicky snapped at his heels.
“Let me at her!” Pete cried from where Patrick was blocking him. Patrick knew what was going on and he didn’t let Pete charge like he wanted. Instead, he kept him back and from tripping over the lambs crowded behind him.
“I could take her,” Spencer muttered into Jon’s shoulder. Jon bit his ear.
Gerard stumbled forward as he heard a distant whistle and Vicky barked loudly, sleek tail swishing behind her as she went into an immediate crouch, inching forward in the dewy grass.
“I hate summer,” he moaned, edging forward with the other three. Bob stood a ways back, black face looming behind them.
“Just think,” Frank put in as Vicky lurched and they broke into a run, circling a tree, “Gabe will be next. He always gets bitten.”
That almost made Gerard feel better as they thundered forward and he bumped into Frank’s horns.
Bert watched from the fence, hackles raised and a growl in his throat. Jepha scooted closer on the ground and laid his head over Bert’s feet comfortingly.
“They’re just puppies,” he murmured, tail wagging lightly when Bert growled at Vicky.
They were not just puppies. They were potential herding dogs, potential herding dogs who could take his place by the fire and his table scraps, and Bert would have none of it.
When the sheep had been herded into a little square box, the farmer gave Vicky a treat and tied her up with the boys. Bert trotted over before he could release the next one and nosed the farmer’s hand. Bert was not above flattery to get what he wanted.
The farmer laughed, patting Bert’s head.
“Feeling left out, buddy?” he asked, and Bert bit back his growl. Instead, he pawed at his jeans, leaving a muddy swipe behind. “Alright, you go on and do what you do best.”
Wagging his tail, Bert trotted out into the field, singling out the tall sheep grazing with the other one under the tree. At the first whistle, he was off like a shot, barking madly and pushing the sheep away from the others.
Gabe hurried forward, glancing around for William, but he was over by the water trough. Instead, every escape attempt he made ended up with a sharp bite to his heel and a deep growl behind him. Bert was in a mood today.
“Not getting any?” Gabe asked as Bert came up behind him, almost taking off his foot as he lunged forward. Gabe barely skittered out of the way. Gabe didn’t mind being herded; what he minded was being separated from his flock, and William was now far away, and Sisky hadn’t even noticed that Gabe was gone.
“Fuck off,” Bert growled, barking loudly and veering as Gabe tried to slip away.
“Jealous of the pretty little bitch?” Gabe asked instead. He’d seen Vicky with her sleek fur and that dark glimmer in her eyes as she’d done her herding. If he was a dog, he’d be on that in a second.
Bert snarled viciously, pushing Gabe harder until he ran for safety into the pen. Bert slammed into the gate, barking at Gabe, who backed away.
“That’s enough, Bert,” the farmer called sharply, and Bert snorted, hackles slowly lowering. The farmer gave him an odd look as he slunk away, snapping at Vicky as he passed.
Jepha sat up to meet him, pouncing on him a little as he came back and flopped down.
“Everything will be fine,” Jepha murmured around Bert’s ear as he chewed it comfortingly. Bert only huffed.
The herding competition always took place during the county fair. The sheep were bundled up into the trucks, jostled together, and bleating filled the air.
Gerard was stuffed into a corner, as far away from Gabe as he could manage and trying to blend it. It was harder than it seemed. But Frank stuck close by, ready to headbutt anyone who insulted him. Luckily, Gabe seemed busy with William and didn’t wander over.
The lambs were nervous, seeing as it was their first time going to the fair. The farmer only brought the best to the fair, so they should have been happy, but Ryan was nervous going anywhere without Pete, and Brendon could only chew on his ear so much. Spencer was bored the moment they got in the truck and spent most of the ride with Jon flopped over his back eating straw.
Bert jumped in the truck cab on the farmer’s wife’s lap, wagging his tail, happy to be there until the puppies came tumbling out of the house and they let them climb in the back. Bert glared and his tail stilled. Jepha sat in the middle seat and licked Bert’s cheek in consolation. Bert ignored him.
At the fair, Bert and the rest of the dogs waited in the car while the farmer and his wife took the sheep into their pens in the livestock barn. Bert sat stoically, listening to the puppies in the back.
“Where are we again?”
Vicky ruffled her fur, smoothing down her tail and giving Nate a look. “The fair, Nate. Farmer’s only said it a hundred times.”
Nate pawed at her. “But what are we doing?”
“Herding,” Alex put in as Ryland pounced on him and he fell off the seat with a thump. Bert heard a squeak and rolled his eyes.
“Because it’s what we do,” Vicky snapped, and when Nate lay down, she sighed and licked his ear. “To show off for our farmer.”
“Not to show off for him,” Bert snapped finally, turning around and glaring at the four puppies. “To be shown off for him.”
Vicky gave him a look, bristling slightly. “What’s the difference?”
Bert growled, standing up on the seat, but Jepha laid a paw over his, and he didn’t get a chance to do anything as the door opened and the farmer’s wife was there, six leashes in her hand. Bert let her clip it to his collar, but didn’t jump out without a last glare at Vicky.
The fair was busy with people; teen girls giggling at boys, little kids with oversized corndogs, and old people looking at quilts.
Bert led the way to the sheep herding course. Other dogs were there from the past years and shied away from Bert as he came through.
All was right with the world. For a moment anyway.
The herding took place in the afternoon of the first day. Four sheep were selected and put into the pen at the far end of the course.
Gerard was always picked, and he knew exactly why. He stood out against the other sheep. So he and Frank were led into the pen along with Gabe and William. Gabe opened his mouth to no doubt make some derogatory comment, but Frank bowed his head, pawing at the ground with a snort, and the farmer tapped Gabe on the shoulder, so he didn’t say anything.
Nervous, Gerard crowded close to Frank. “Can you gore them now?” he whispered, and Frank nudged his shoulder.
But the whistle rang out and the gate was opened and they were crowded out by a man with a stick. Gabe snuck close to Gerard before Vicky was let loose.
“I’m just a little black raincloud,” he crooned into his ear and backed away before Frank could make his charge.
The dog came up fast, veering around and barking loudly, snapping at Gabe as he tried to run away. Gerard would have laughed except that William was stumbling into him sideways, long legs tripping and catapulting them all forward.
Bert sat on the sidelines, watching with displeasure.
Vicky rounded the sheep up, and at the sharp command, veered in between Gabe and the rest of the sheep. He was pushed away from the rest of them and steered around a little square post. Gerard enjoyed watching the way Gabe would hesitate and get snapped at by Vicky’s sharp teeth.
But then Gabe was back in the group and whistles were going off all over the place and they ran forward, around a post and through a gate until they were finally herded into another pen at the other end. There were cheers from the spectators and Bert bristled at each clap.
Vicky was panting and happy as she came back, pouncing on Nate and panting happily.
Bert didn’t pay attention to the other puppies as they took their turns. He just wanted to get rid of Vicky.
“I don’t like her,” he told Jepha as some other dog was herding and the farmer was talking to a few people, Vicky sitting at his side attentively and wagging her tail whenever someone pet her.
“She does have shiny fur,” Jepha muttered, eyeing the mats around Bert’s elbows and the dirt between his paws. He nudged the splotch of mud around his muzzle that covered up the pretty caramel stripe. Bert glared at Vicky where she was jumping on some man and wagging her tail.
“I’m leaving!” Vicky cried a few minutes later as she rejoined the rest of the puppies – Bert should really stop calling them puppies when they were nearly a year and a half old.
“What?” Nate asked, alarmed. Vicky wagged her tail as Alex and Ryland looked on curiously.
“We’re for sale,” Vicky told them. “And I got bought.”
Nate was staring, but Bert couldn’t believe it. They were sold! He was the king again. Jepha nuzzled him as though he knew exactly what he was thinking.
“You’re leaving? Nate asked as Vicky bounced around, perky and happy. She stopped long enough to give him a look.
“You’re coming too, idiot,” she told him and pounced on him.
Bert wagged his tail for the first time in months and pounced on Jepha.
Back in the barn, Gerard sighed as they were finally put back into their pens. He flopped onto his knees in the pen and Frank snuggled into his side.
“I hate the fair,” Gerard muttered, closing his eyes.
Frank mumbled an agreement, scooting closer. “Next year my horns will be bigger, don’t worry. I’ll gore ‘em then.”
Gerard nodded sleepily and tried to sleep against the noises of people wandering through.
Two girls stopped just beyond their pen, and one read the sign above.
“Frank and Gerard.” She paused, looking down. “Aw, how cute.”
Gerard smiled to himself and pushed his nose into Frank’s neck.