Author: Kat Lee
Challenge/Prompt: comment_fic: Leverage, Eliot, riding rodeo requested by badfalcon
Word Count: 746
Date Written: 20 March 2018
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to their rightful owners, not the author, and are used without permission.
Rodeo wasn’t supposed to be this way. It was supposed to be a conquest of man over animal, or animal over man if it went wrong, but the animals weren’t supposed to be afraid because of what they had endured, only that they didn’t yet understand that mankind was the better but also their friend. They weren’t supposed to be in pain. They weren’t supposed to be tortured, and yet, as Eliot climbed on top of the bull, he could tell that was exactly what had been happening to this poor animal who was already quivering with silent rage, frustration, and sorrow.
Sympathetic sorrow filled him. How many times had he watched somebody bull over somebody else just because they were bigger and stronger? How many times had he come to the defense of someone who couldn’t defend themselves? He could practically feel the animal’s pain as the buzzer sounded and the gate opened.
He held on with one hand as the bull bucked. With his other hand, he touched his thick hide as gently as he could, remembering the scars he’d gotten glimpses of just before he’d dropped down on top of him. “Easy, fella,” he whispered. “I promise they ain’t gonna hurt ya again.”
Of course, the animal’s mind was far too gone back to his wildness for him to be able to hear him, let alone understand him. All he knew was there yet another man on his back, yet another human intent on making him suffer. Eliot felt his distrust, paused only a moment, and then let go of the reins. Still, he managed not to be thrown for a few more seconds.
He was on his feet almost as quickly as he hit the sawdust. The rodeo clowns were doing their work, distracting the bull as he ran rampant through the little arena. Eliot’s vision was filled with red the shade of the clown’s cape, but he didn’t charge him. He charged out of the arena and after the man who owned the bull.
He found them quickly and slammed his fists into both their faces at once. Then he picked up one after the other, dropped them into the arena, and jumped down between them and the bull, who had his eyes locked on them. The crowd was on their feet. He heard his name shouted, and not just the name he was riding under, but his attention was fully on the bull.
“Easy, fella,” he said, standing between him and his tormentors. “You come with me, and this will be the end of it.” He looked at the clown. “Open the gate.” The clown didn’t move. He looked, with worried eyes, at his now trembling bosses. “Open the damn gate or I’ll use the shocker on you! Speaking of which,” he warned, dropping his voice to a low, barely audible tone, “I’ve got ears all throughout this business. I so much as hear of either of you touching another animal, and I’m coming after you.”
With his hands spread out in the open between him and the bull, Eliot slowly approached the animal. His own heart was in his throat as the bull stared him down and pawed the earth. He wouldn’t blame the animal if he charged him and gored him to death, but he wanted to get him out of here. “Easy, fella,” he said again and pointed at the open gate. “We go out of here together or we don’t go out at all.” He said the same words in equine language.
The bull paused, his hoof mid-scrape, and looked deeper into the man’s eyes. Eliot spoke again and made other clicking noises with his tongue and teeth that no human present could understand. To the crowd’s amazement, and not just a little to Eliot’s surprise, the bull began to ease.
He let Eliot close in on him. He allowed him to touch him and, finally, to lead him out of the arena.
Outside, Nate looked at Eliot and the bull in disbelief. “What are we going to do with him?”
Eliot shrugged. “Dunno,” he replied honestly, gently scratching the bull’s forehead, “but I couldn’t leave him.”
Nate looked at his own ragtag crew, at Parker and Hardison especially, who were both so much children though they had endured so much. He smiled. “I can’t say that I blame you.”
Eliot grinned as the team walked away with the prize-winning bull. “Knew you wouldn’t,” he drawled.