There’s a horse named “My Boy Jack” at the Kentucky Derby today and my head is spinning with AU possibilities
Gabriel Reyes, owner of Talon Stables, named the horse himself with a smile on his face. He wished he could be there when Jack found out the name he’d dropped on his new colt, but the satisfaction of knowing it would infuriate Jack would have to be enough.
“He’s going to kill you,” Jesse drawls, spinning one of Gabe’s kitchen table chairs to sit in it backward. There are dark circles under his eyes, as he’d spent the night in the stables watching over the birth, but fatigue can’t stop the grin on his face. “Like. Literally.”
“It’s just a joke,” Gabe tries to downplay what he’s done, sipping orange juice from a crystal tumblr and eyeing Jesse’s boots on his clean floor.

“It’s just a joke that’s gonna be shouted from loudspeakers for the next 7 years. He’s gonna kill you.”

“No one will care.”
Jesse laughs out loud, unable to hold his amusement back as he thinks about it. “Sure, no one will care now. You wait. Two years til that colt starts smashing records and everyone is going to be looking. No one’s forgotten, you know. Least, not anyone in the business.”
Gabe looks out the window and doesn’t reply.

“You didn’t think about it at all?”

“I did...”

“Didn’t think that horse has the best bloodlines of any you’ve ever owned? Didn’t think he was going to be a winner? Jesus, I’m nervous just looking at him. He’s going to win, Gabe.”
Gabe shakes himself out if. “He goddamn better win, for what I paid. You’ve got your work cut out for you.”

“Not today,” Jesse yawns. “I’m going to bed. Two years, Gabe, mark my words, but your chickens are coming home sooner than that.”

“We’ll see,” is all Gabe says.
It takes longer than Gabe expects. Sure, the name won’t be registered officially for months, but around the stable, the colt is still known as Jackie Boy, and it’s no secret.

It’s two months almost to the day when Gabe’s phone rings and the caller ID shows Jack Morrison’s name.
“What the fuck,” are the first words out of Jack’s mouth, and Gabe holds the phone away from his ear

“Jack. I’ve missed your dulcet tones. What’s the occasion?”

“You know damn well what the occasion is!”

Gabe grins. “I knew you couldn’t stay away forever,” he coos, patronizing
“Fuck off, Gabe. What were you thinking?”

“Thought it was a good name. Reminds me of you.”

“Change it,” Jack says.

“I can’t,” Gabe says with amusement. “It’s already registered.”

He hears Jack hiss angrily. “You registered that name?”

“Sure did, last week.”
“Change it anyway,” Jack says.

“I can’t afford the fee,” Gabe says with feigned, mournful, helplessness, and holds the phone away again as Jack starts shouting. He catches bits and pieces of the rant, waves at a passing stable boy and picks at a fingernail as Jack winds down.
“Are you done?” he asks when all he hears is Jack’s breath heavy with anger.

“Everyone is going to know,” Jack says finally, and there’s catch in the last word so Gabe knows this is really getting to him.

“They already know,” Gabe replies. “C’mon, Jack. It’s a bit of fun.”
“No,” Jack says. “This is - it’s humiliating, Gabe, I knew you still had issues, but this is too much. You’ve shamed me. Everyone will laugh. They’ll talk about it. And what if he wins?”

Gabe tries to picture him, face red, shaking his head and trembling with emotion.
“I hope to God he wins,” Gabe says.

“Gabe,” Jack says, and Gabe can hear the underlying emotion. He wouldn’t call it desperation, but it’s plaintive, a hint of vulnerability coming through. “Everyone will know. Not just the whole racing circuit. The country. The world.”
“If he wins...” Jack trails off. “I’ll be a laughingstock.”

A moment of silence passes. Gabe hears a mockingbird call nearby.

“I wouldn’t have named a lesser horse for you,” he says in the quiet. “He’ll win, Jack. I suggest you make your peace with it.”
He doesn’t hear Jack hang up the phone, but he knows it isn’t over.

Time passes, and Jackie Boy flourishes. Under Jesse’s skilled supervision, he outpaces Gabe’s other yearlings in steadily widening gaps. Gabe’s hopes unfurl slowly like the tender wing of new hatched butterfly.
It’s a long play, and Gabe knows it, but he can’t give up. He keeps his fingers crossed, his breath held, and he never, ever leaves the stables without brushing a hand over the horse shoe pinned above the door.

When Jesse comes to him late the next winter, he knows why.
“The answer is yes,” Gabe says without looking up from his ledger.

Jesse sucks his teeth. “It could wait another year.”

Now Gabe’s attention is caught. “Do you think he needs another year?”

“No,” Jesse says immediately. “He’s ready. Are you?”

“If he’s ready, we run.”
“All right,” Jesse says after a moment. He’s turning to leave when Gabe speaks again.

“Will he be there?”

“He’s got that filly out of Liberty Beaches from the same year as Jackie Boy. I think he’s like to run her.”

Gabe drums his fingers on the table. “Good,” he says finally.
He expects Jesse to leave, but instead he turns back, lingering. Gabe’s question has prompted something in him.

“What?” Gabe asks.

“I ran into Brigitte Lindholm last week,” Jesse says.

Gabe manages not to scowl. He remembers the girl.
She was too young to have been around much when everything fell apart between him and Jack. The fact that any reminder of life at Watchover Farms still stings ten years later can hardly be laid at her feet.

“How is she?” he asks out of courtesy.
He’s grateful when Jesse ignores his lukewarm tenor of his civility.

“She’s a groom now.”

Gabe grunts under his breath in acknowledgment. “At...”

“At Watchover, yeah.”

“If you have a point, can we get to it?”
“She says no one over there is allowed to talk about him. Jackie Boy. Says Jack just calls him ‘that horse.’ And he’s dead set on finding a horse to beat him.”

Gabe doesn’t stop the smile that comes. “Guess he’s still mad.”
“You’re way too cheerful for a dead man,” Jesse laughs with both disbelief and admiration.

Gabe spreads his hands. “What’s he gonna do? Get out there and run himself? He doesn’t have a horse on Jackie’s level. I’d know if he did. Come on, Jesse. What’ve I got to lose?”
“Certainly not your reputation,” Jesse’s retort is quick and pointed, and Gabe’s reaction is equally sharp. He swipes the rubber stress ball from his desk, hurling it at Jesse’s head. Jesse ducks, cursing, and snatches the ball out the air.
“Enough chit chat,” Gabe announces, but Jesse is already out the door, waving goodbye with the hand that still holds Gabe’s stress ball.
Race day comes faster than Gabe wants it to. He half wants it. A part of him is desperately excited to see what his horse can do. Another part of him coils up in nervous apprehension just thinking of seeing Jack again.

There’s no way out of it, he reasons with himself.
It’s not as effective at calming his nerves as he’d like it to be, but at least he can face the day with grim determination. He puts on his best spring suit and takes a noseful of the cold morning air when he walks out the door. He’ll get to the paddock early.
Most of his responsibilities today will be socializing, speaking to other owners, putting his face out for the odd journalist or two, but he’s never missed a pre race visit with a horse he’s owned yet - not once since he took over Talon Stables and left Watchover and Jack behind.
He digs a hand in his pocket and checks for the third time to confirm he has the bag of peppermints he’d bought the day before, gourmet candies in a brown paper sack. It does no good to spoil a horse, but it’s part of the ritual - one for the horse, one for him. Back and forth.
He keeps his head down as he fishes his badge out and passes through a security checkpoint. When he arrives, the stable is quiet, pressed full of familiar wood and hay and horse smells. Lost in his thoughts, Gabe doesn’t realize he’s not alone until he turns the corner.
There’s no way he could ever mistake Jack’s silhouette for anyone else in the world. Gabe knows he’d know him in a crowd of a thousand facing the sun with one eye shut. He slows his steps, taking every second he can to savor the long lines of Jack’s body in a baby blue sport coat
He stands at the far end of the barn across from and a respectable distance away from the stall where Gabe’s pride and joy awaits him. As Gabe watches, Jack takes two steps closer and brushes his hand over the name plate that bears the source of their contention.
“Do you like him?” Gabe’s voice carries the distance between them easily. Jack looks up, whites of his eyes flaring briefly as he wasn’t aware he was being watched. There’s a moment of stark nakedness in his expression before he frowns, walls shuttering down again.
“He’s well formed,” Jack says grudgingly, prompting a smile from Gabe. Jackie Boy is striking in every way, from the high arch of his neck to the two white crescents on his back heels, the only spots of bright on his sleek black body.

“Well formed,” Gabe repeats.
“Unusual coloring,” Jack ventures further. “You don’t see that much these days. It’s a world of reds and greys.”

“He gets it from his father’s line,” Gabe says, walking closer.

“My Mistake.”

“Out of Mistaken Identity.”

“Going back to the great Identity Crisis.”
Gabe stops within arm’s distance of Jack. “You know the whole lineage.” It’s not a question, but it sounds like one, Gabe’s curiosity lilting his tone up at the end.

“Of course I know it.” Jack doesn’t take his eyes off the horse. “I know everything about him.”
“I thought you hated him.”

“I do,” Jack says, suddenly fierce.

Gabe takes his hand from his pocket and reaches forward, offering a peppermint to the horse on an open palm. Jackie takes it quickly, velvety lips brushing Gabe’s fingers. “Want one?”

“No,” Jack says tersely.
“It was brave of you to come here before the race,” Gabe comments. “You know, it not being your horse, if something happened and something knew you were here, that could go very bad for you.”

Jack shrugs. “Some people know what loyalty is. Getting in wasn’t hard.”
“Anyway you know I’d ever hurt him. No matter how angry I am - and I am very angry, Gabriel - you know me better than that.”

Gabe wishes he could take his gaze off Jack, because he’s still steadfastly refusing eye contact, but Jack being near to him is too rare a thing.
“Of course I know that,” Gabe says at last, guilt filling him with discomfort. “I wasn’t implying you would. Just saying it’s a risk.”

“Only if your security really can’t tell a real threat and someone else gets in.”

“It doesn’t matter.” Gabe lets it go.
He’s long since learned to stop expecting tender revelations or hidden meanings in the things Jack does. He sees things in absolutes, blacks and whites. His way, or no way. Gabe remembers it well. If he saw this as a risk, he would not admit it. He simply came.
“I tried to tell you I was sorry so many times,” Gabe murmurs, resting a hand on the stall door.

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

“You never did. All I wanted was a chance, you never even let me try.”

“Nothing you said would have brought her back.”
“She was suffering.”

Jack sniffs suddenly, brushing a hand over his cheek and chin. Gabe realizes that he’s wiping away tears. “Jack,” he says, startled and concerned.

Jack leans forward, like he wants to extend his hand to the horse, but he pulls back.
“It wasn’t your decision to make,” Jack says, hand hovering in midair. “You never respected my choices. Just like with this.” He gestures to the name plate. “I have no say in this. I can’t stop you. But you go and do it anyway. Knowing. How I feel.”
“Tell me to change it,” Gabe says impulsively. “Tell me, I’ll do it right now.”

Jack sniffs again. “It’s too late. We both know the rules.”

“It can’t be changed once the horse runs its first race. Tell me to do it right now, and I’ll scratch him. We won’t run today.”
Jack looks at him for the first time. He’s remarkably composed, only a slight trace of red around his eyes and and the blue of them washed out by the pale of his jacket. “Everything you do is another manipulation, isn’t it?”

“No,” pleads Gabe. “I mean it.”
“You’d have to rearrange your whole season.”

“Tell me, and I’ll do it. You- you can pick the name.” Gabe feels an awful wrench to say the words. It feels like a tremendous betrayal, after two years of knowing this brave beautiful colt, to pull the rug out and remake him.
He feels a slight spasm in his hand but he’s willing to pay the cost. And Jack is still staring at him, appraising, evaluating the sincerity of his words.

“No,” he says at last, and Gabe finds a breath. “No, this is what you wanted. What you thought was all right to do to me.”
“No backing down. We’ll both see what it will be now.”

Gabe nods, wordless. He is relieved, and disappointed, frustrated and unsatisfied. “Do you think you have a good chance today?” he asks with affected apathy, as if making ordinary conversation is unnatural.
Jack snorts. “It’s a maiden race. Odds are barely educated guesses.” He looks back at Jackie Boy and Gabe sees the barest hint of smile as Jack watches his intelligent ears come forward. “I will say my filly is lovely, but she doesn’t have quite the noble ancestry of this one.”
“Will I see you later? Are you... near my box?” He stops just shy of asking Jack to watch the race with him in his box. As an owner, Jack has his own reputation to maintain. And given their particular history, it’s best not to fan the flames of gossip.
The mill will be good and going soon anyway. Gabe swallows as he thinks about the loudspeaker calling out his horse’s name, and he wonders who remembers what happened between him and Jack anyway.

He’d guess a fair few people.
Neither of them were unknown in the racing world, and when they’d started out, it was as partners. Their split into competing stables had been messy to say the least.

He’s doubly glad he didn’t ask Jack to join him when Jack suddenly gives him a cold glare.
“No, I wouldn’t expect to see me again. I imagine I’ll want to leave quickly after the race if it goes as expected.”

“Jack,” Gabe starts.

“Have your fun, Gabe. Today’s the big debut.” He gives the horse a last glance, and turns sharply to leave.
Jack is barely out of his sight, barn door closing behind him, when Gabe’s phone rings. He fumbles at his pocket a moment and gets it out in time to answer by the third vibration, noting Jesse’s name on the caller ID.

“Boss,” Jesse says immediately, breathless. “We got trouble.”
Gabe glances at Jackie Boy, who is staring back at him placidly. The sight brings him calm; still emotionally rattled and distracted after seeing Jack, he can’t take Jesse’s words seriously, especially seeing his horse sound and steady in front of him. “How bad can it be?”
“Like, a 6 maybe?” Jesse guesses haphazardly. “It’s Jack.”

Gabe is at full attention now. “I just saw him...” he says.

“You did?” Much of the background noise on Jesse’s end drops off. “Did you, uh, talk?”


“He say anything about his horse?”

“A little. Not much.”
“It’s not the Liberty filly,” Jesse announces. “He switched it. Changed them last minute.”

“What’s he running?”

“I don’t know exactly yet,” Jesse says, his voice growing from. “Ana will tell me, if I can find her.”

“But you saw it?”
“I saw him,” Jesse confirms. “He’s palest dapple grey I’ve ever seen and he looks mean as spit and twice as nervous. Took a swipe at his groom when he was taking him out and then danced on his feet.”

Gabe swears under his breath. “That’s a Phantom.”

“I think so,” Jesse says.
Phantom Presence. Fifty years past, the horse had taken racing by storm, shattering expectations, setting records, and most notably, breaking hearts and bones. He had been mercurial and half mad - though his wins made his blood desirable, his temperament poisoned his potential.
Many had been willing to take the risk, and for ten short years, Phantom’s greys had sprouted up in numbers, dotting races across the country. None were a success. Some were gate shy, some untrainable. Some were fast, but unpredictable.
After the third incident involving his progeny to end with a vet’s truck on the track, he had been retired permanently from stud.

“How?” Gabe asks dumbly. “Why? What was he-“

“Dam’s line,” Jesse says. “He found one, somehow. No one would advertise it, but they’re out there.”
“Goddamnit,” Gabe hisses. Reckless, stupid, idiot, nothing was worth that, not when there were so many more reliable sire lines.

“What are you going to do?”


“I know.”

“It’s not just him at risk,” Gabe struggles not to raise his voice, walking away from Jackie’s stall.
“I know.”

Gabe rubs his forehead. “What post position did he draw?”

There’s a brief rustling noise of paper. “Two.”

Gabe exhales measuredly. Jackie’s position is 12. “We run,” he says.

“Okay,” Jesse says.

“Tell Lúcio,” Gabe says as the thought occurs to him.
“I don’t care if it costs the race,” he says. “You tell him, keep Jackie away from... what’s it called. Jack’s horse. Number 2.”

“I’ll pass the message on. You don’t want to see him yourself before we get started?”

Gabe does, but he can feel his pulse in his temples.
“No,” he says heavily. “The other owners don’t know, do they?”

“If you didn’t catch it, I’m sure no one else is watching him closer.”

“What madman do they have riding that beast?” Gabe asks. White spots are forming in his vision and he wants to hang up but he’s still curious.
“Shimada,” Jesse says. “The younger.”

Gabe blinks, but it’s not a huge surprise. It may even be a slight relief; although he doesn’t envy the man the task before him, Genji Shimada is a talented jockey.

“Fine,” Gabe says. “Fine. Good. I’m going to, to talk to some people.”
“You’re going to get a drink,” Jesse’s voice is knowing.

“Hopefully I’ll be hammered by the time the news reaches me.”

Jesse doesn’t know if he means good news, bad news, or the local news media. He doesn’t ask. “See you in the box,” is all he says.
Gabe leaves the quiet of the barn reluctantly and heads for the stands, weaving his way through the crowd and exchanging pleasantries with people he knows. By the time the sun is high in the sky, he’s sweet talked aspirin out of an old school friend and thrown back two drinks.
Peripherally, he is aware that Jack is nearby, he is making similar rounds, but as the day wears on, he loses track of him, and eventually stops looking. It’s entirely accidental when he runs into Jack exiting the men’s room, though he knows immediately Jack won’t believe it.
Without thinking, he curls a hand around Jack’s arm and walks him back into the bathroom, ignoring vociferous protests until the door shuts behind them.

“Take... your.... hands... off me!” Jack’s face is flushed with anger.

“You know, I thought I knew the worst of you.”
Gabe starts in too loud, gin loosening his lips and Jack flinches as he glances at the door.

“I knew you were petty, and unforgiving, that you hate yourself and everyone around you, I knew all that. But I didn’t think you’d stoop to this.” Gabe shakes his head. “Even for you...”
“What?” Jack demands. “Even for me, what?”

“It’s heartless. It’s cruel. Not just to the horse himself - and god knows if he’s anything like the rest of Phantom’s get, he’ll hate every second of it - but to every horse out there. You’d do that for your revenge?”
Jack draws himself up, his back ramrod straight. “You don’t know what you’re talking about. You don’t know anything about him. He’s a magnificent animal, and he’s a born champion.”

“You really are a piece of work,” Gabe laughs darkly. “You can’t honestly believe that.”
“All those tries and nothing took, with any of them, you think you’ll make something out of this one through sheer force of will.”

“I suggest you worry about your own horse,” Jack says, clipped, smoothing out his coat where Gabe had gripped it and left unsightly wrinkles.
“I AM worried about my horse!” Gabe all but bellows. “That’s why we’re having this conversation, you arrogant-“

“Keep your voice down,” Jack snaps, and Gabe forces himself to take a deep breath.

“Don’t do this, Jack. It’s not worth it.”

Jack smiles at him cryptically.
“Love will win, Gabe. I suggest you make your peace with it.”

He pushes past Gabe, jerks the door open, and doesn’t look back.

“What do you mean, love will-“ Gabe calls after the shutting door, but it’s too late. He reaches in his jacket for his program, but it’s too late.
Outside the bathroom, the loudspeaker has crackled to life, ringing out the call to post. He makes a beeline for his box, feeling a twinge in his head and hoping the headache doesn’t return.

From his vantage in the stands, he has an excellent view of the field.
Jesse scoots in behind him several moments later, as Gabe is following Jackie Boy with his eyes, noting that he seems energetic, in good spirits.

“You see him?” Jesse murmurs after a brief greeting.

“Yeah,” Gabe says. “He looks good.”

“Not him, of course he’s fine. Look.”
Gabe follows the line of Jesse’s finger down the track and sees it immediately - a pale, ghost of a horse, nervy, prancing, half sidestepping as Genji Shimada, a speck in blue green silks, reins him gently and keeps him from gaining ground on the horse in the first post position.
“Oh god,” Gabe moans.

“Ten bucks says they can’t get him in the gate,” Jesse says with a little glee.

“It’s not funny,” Gave responds flatly. “I’m not taking that bet.”

Jesse sobers quickly. “You’re right,” he says. “Did you uh...”

“Did I?”

“See the name?”
“Oh.” Gabe remembers now, Jack’s smirk. Too pleased with himself by half.

He gets the program out, scans the overcrowded page until he finds the lines he seeks.

2. No Love Lost
Owner: Jack Morrison/ Watchover Farms LLC - Trainer: Reinhardt Wilhelm - Jockey: Genji Shimada
He reads the line twice, trying find a name for the feeling it evokes, but he can’t place it, so he sets the program down again. “That’s subtle,” he says evenly.

“Almost as subtle as yours,” Jesse says, earning himself a glare.

“Whose side are you on, anyway?” Gabe demands.
“Mine,” Jesse says, but further conversation is cut short as the race is about to begin.

It takes five tries to get Jack’s horse in the gate, and after the third attempt, Gabe is wincing and glancing away. The crowd has noticed the difficult horse; he can hear the murmuring.
He isn’t looking on the fourth attempt, but finally the rustle of activity around him makes him glance back in time to see the door clang shut behind the pale horse. He exhales a sigh of relief he didn’t know he was holding and sinks down in his seat.
“Not going to stand and cheer for this?” Jesse asks quizzically, and Gabe shakes his head. He’s vaguely nauseous, clutching his binoculars without looking through them, and he’s not at all prepared when the bell rings.

“AND THEY’RE OFF!” The announcer crows through the speakers.
Gabe is on his feet in a second, nausea forgotten. He can hear the race caller distantly, but it’s all white noise, the roar of the crowd and chatter from the speaker. His eyes are fixed on the field, the black dot curving the outside of the pack, the white dot hugging the rail
It’s a short race, a maiden special weight, 6 furlongs, and Gabe can see quickly with an impending sense of doom, how it will play out. Jesse’s hand grips his arm as the pack sweeps around the far corner.

“Gabe,” he says. “What you told me to tell Lúcio...”
Gabe doesn’t hear him at first, absorbed by the race, but in mere seconds it sinks in. “What? What? Jesse, you told him? I told you to tell him!”

“I told him,” Jesse has to yell over the roar of the crowd, “I told him-“

Gabe can’t hear the rest, eyes fixed on the track.
“It’s No Love Lost at the half, followed by State of Mind, followed by My Boy Jack,” the race caller shouts.

That’s fine, Gabe thinks, that’s fine, but a little closer, almost time now and as if he can hear Gabe’s thoughts, he sees Lúcio give Jackie his head and let him run.
And now they’re getting to the part Gabe knew they’d come to at the start, as the middle horse, State of Mind, begins flagging in the home stretch.

They fly across the line together, and the crowd gasps.

Gabe knows the answer in his heart before the photo appears on the Jumbotron.

“Ladies and gentlemen, your winner, the number 2 horse, No Love Lost! Certainly a lot of love gained today for a horse with a lot of heart!”
“Well, shit,” Jesse says, and Gabe turns his entire head to stare at him.

“That’s all you have to say?”

Jesse spreads his hands helplessly. “What should I say?”

“You could start with sorry,” Gabe grumbles. Now that the shock has passed, the tension is draining out of his limbs
“Sorry?” Jesse says. “I didn’t really prepare for your crazy ex to come riding in on a pale stallion like some Biblical harbinger of doom.”

“It’s not the end times,” Gabe grumbles. “Let’s go, move.”

Jesse lurches out of the way as Gabe crowds him. “Where we goin?”
“Winners circle. Would be bad manners not to congratulate him.”

A vague memory bubbles up, of Jack a few hours prior, telling him he wouldn’t want to see him after the race. He brushes it off.

Jack had said if the race went as expected, he wouldn’t want to stay.
Well, it hadn’t gone as expected, so it must be an open door, Gabe thinks. The win will have put Jack in a good mood. He might have to put up with some ribbing, but it would be worth it to see Jack smiling.

“You’ve got a weird look on your face,” Jesse informs him
“Just thinking it’ll be nice to see Jack happy again.”

Jesse mutters something under his breath that sounds suspiciously like “wouldn’t count on it,” but when Gabe says “hm?” he switches gears.

“It’s a damn shame,” he says, “but he didn’t race badly, y’know.”
“It was close,” Gabe agrees, then frowns remembering the last few seconds of the race. “Next time, we won’t have to worry about something like this, we’ll take the lead early. Jackie can do it,” he says with confidence.

Jesse coughs. “I don’t doubt him.”

“Is that a but I hear?”
“Save it,” Jesse says. “We’ll go over the race later.”

Gabe nods as they approach the track, ducking through the crowd. Ahead of them, Genji Shimada is bringing Jack’s horse around from its victory lap, and the horse is in much the same state as when they’d seen him before.
“Can’t he stand still?” Gabe eyes him suspiciously.

“He sure is a nervous beast.”


Both men turn at the sound of the voice, a familiar rasp.

“Jack,” Jesse says with a warm smile. “I should congratulate you, though I’m not sure I agree with your methods.”
“It was a long shot,” Jack says excitedly, his face lit up. “You just have to keep the faith.” He chatters on at Jesse and Gabe loses the conversation almost immediately. He can’t take his attention off Jack, watching the smiles that spill out easily, his eyes alight in victory.
Gabe snaps back to reality just as Jesse is saying “well, I *am* impressed, I’d like to see more of him, and I imagine I will.”

“Everyone will,” Jack says, and he looks at Gabe finally, like he hadn’t noticed he’d been standing there the whole time. “Gabriel.”
“Congratulations, Jack,” Gabe says graciously. He means it, he’s happy for Jack, and if this is what it takes to make Jack happy, it’s bearable. “We’ll get you next time.”

“Oh?” Jack’s smile is chilly. “Will you? I thought you’d be headed down to Miami. I won’t be there.”
The smile slips right off Gabe’s face. Jack is mocking him. The next maiden special weight race is in Miami. Jack has no reason to go - Jack’s horse, as the winner, broke its maiden today. “Miami is an option,” he says, trying to recover. “We may move on from maiden races.”
“Oh, of course, but... what do you really have to lose?” The last word is emphasized.

Jesse shifts beside him and clears his throat “WELL,” he says loudly. “Gabe. Time to check on the boy.”

“Of course,” Gabe says, staring Jack down even as he feels Jesse’s hand tug his elbow.
“Jesus,” says Jesse when they’re at a safe distance. “Forgot how scary he is when he’s mad.” He flashes his badge at guard as they enter the paddock. “So what do you want to do-“

“I guess we’re going to fucking Miami!” Gabriel snaps, at the end of his patience.
“I was going to say for lunch,” Jesse finishes mildly. Properly chastised, Gabe walks away, making a bee line for his horse and reaching out to shake Lúcio’s hand.

“You did good, kid.”

Lúcio looks disappointed nonetheless. “Sorry, boss. He wanted it.”
“Next time,” Gabe says, stroking the silky skin of Jackie’s neck. “Ever been to Miami?”

Lúcio grins. It’s a joke, he’s ridden several of Gabe’s horses in the same race in past years. “Always wanted to see Miami.”

“Let’s make it happen,” Gabe says.
Jackie Boy wins in Miami - a resounding victory, he’s fast out of the gate and leads the pack to the finish.

Gabe is pleased to win but ready to look forward. He plots out several races over the next few months, a steady schedule that will prepare them for major stakes races.
He picks the races that are best for their schedule, considering prestige, distance to travel, and overall gain from a potential win or loss.

He absolutely does not consider which races Jack will be likely to attend with his hellbeast. He puts the thought completely out of mind.
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Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video

1) Follow Thread Reader App on Twitter so you can easily mention us!

2) Go to a Twitter thread (series of Tweets by the same owner) and mention us with a keyword "unroll" @threadreaderapp unroll

You can practice here first or read more on our help page!

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