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The Cervitaur Show

Chapter Text

The road out to the other ranch was dusty, as to be expected with something so far out of the way. The one-horse trailer behind a simple truck bumped over a bit of road that really should have been smoothed over, and a soft, curious bleat came from it.

Norman smiled and called back through the open window to the cervitaur, “Hey, it’s okay, Dipdip. We’re almost there.”

At one-and-a-half years, his pedigreed Cervitaur, quite an expense to begin with, had finally entered their first Season, and, with a buck of equal pedigree secured, hopefully that expense would be recuperated in full. And it was only the first year.

As they neared the ranch, the clip-clip thump of a deer-man rising to their feet could be heard, followed by the softer thumps of fists on padded metal. The cervitaur could probably smell the other, and as they rounded a bend, the ranch came into view, and Dipper, in the trailer, could be seen peering curiously out through the ventilation windows, black nose wet and wiggling. A series of low, inquisitive grunts came from the youthful cervitaur, and in return, a bugle from the posh stable where the other buck was being held.

He had to admit- Right now, his thoughts weren’t only on the money. They were… Well, wandering. Cervitaurs were a strange enough species as it was- And sometimes, the deer bodies and human presentation didn’t always line up. For his mixed Dipper, then, that meant- Well, the human body was male, and the deer should have been female. But it didn’t always work out that way, leading him to have a rarer, but generally less-impressive in other departments, “Dual Doe”- hermaphrodite.

They’re finally through the gate of the Gravity Falls Cervitaur Ranch, where his dual-doe would be bred by the prize stag- Male through and through, the American Pharaoh, five years running prizewinner. And, as they did, an older man with a true mountaineer’s beard hopped out of the ranch-house with surprising dexterity and skittered out, eyeing his business.

“A bit weird ‘a ya to not jist ask fer a straw,” he started with, giving a squinty, slightly suspicious glance over the dark-haired twenty-something year-old. “I kitch ya snitchin’ straws from yer doe and I’ll skin yeh.”

Norman waved it off with a smile. “Just wanted their first year to be a natural one, don’t worry.” True, and not entirely true. There was a bit of blush forming on his ears, now- And, not that he’d ever tell anyone, but he… Might have a thing for his cervitaur. They might be considered dumb brutes, but- Look at them, half human, all that intelligence in their eyes! It couldn’t be… That wrong, not really.

“Here’s your five hundred, anyway,” he said off-handedly, pulling out the wallet with the money in there.

“That’s half of et.”

“Haggled you down to it, sir.”

“If yeh did it once yeh kin do it agiin.”

“Alright, then. I’d like two-fifty.”

“Absolutely not. Yer already here. Full thousand.”

“Four hundred.”

“Nine.”

“Four-fifty.”

“Eight.”

“Five.”

“Lowest I’ll go is seven-fifty.”

“Suppose I don’t agree?”

“Lotta gas money ya lost, and ya doe’s gonna cry the whole way home.”

Old man had a point. Seemed he was wilier than the crazy old kook he seemed. Norman made a bit of a sour face, and pulled forth the extra cash. “Here you go. Now go get your buck, I’ll move Pine Tree to the pen.”

McGucket grinned widely, showing off crooked and smoke-stained teeth. “Right-’way.”

~

Cervitaur harnesses were curious things. With little necks as they had, and dentition that didn’t support a bit, their leads instead focused on the pedicles of antlers, and under their arms, as reins and halter. However, Norman wasn’t particularly afraid of Pine Tree running off somewhere, and didn’t want his cervitaur hobbled for the breeding, so he grabbed one of the cervitaur’s hands and tugged a little. “Come on, boy,” he cooed to the deer-man, and the curious, if slightly skittish, legally-an-animal followed.

The pen, closer to the edge of the dark pine forest, was open, with curved-in fences to try and prevent the cervitaurs from jumping if they were frightened by their partner. Of course, considering some breeds could leap ten feet vertically, there was a chicken-wire roof going up fifteen for good measure. As the cervitaur dual-doe entered, the previously semi-relaxed ears pricked with interest, rotating like satellite dishes as he listened to the forest, and to the other cervitaurs. They were much quieter than horses, if nothing else, and this time, as his buck was led by a rope around the waist to the pen, his inquiry was a simple snort.

American Pharaoh, or Bill as he was named in the cervitaurs’ language, stopped, and let out a loud, domineering snort-wheeze, one that set the doe in the pen confused, and the buck thereof very angry. Half of Dipper wanted to fight, and half wanted to know more. However, here, the antlers briefly won out, and the younger, smaller cervitaur echoed the same, albeit smaller, and squeakier, and higher in pitch. Some other cervitaurs back in the stables could be heard giggling, and it set the yearling’s cheeks red, but he held his ground for now.

McGucket gave one last questioning look to Norman, who nodded, before letting the rope loose. The stag, at least nine feet from hooves to head, had to duck and twist his head to get in the pen, and stood, staring down at the seven-foot yearling with a cocky smirk. The yearling was having none of that, and backed off, lowering his antlers. The stag obliged, and quick as a flash, the two were fighting for rights to some fluffy deer ass.

Dipper’s lunge had considerably less mass and power behind it, and as he tried to keep on the level with the larger stag, he could feel his neck straining, and laced his arms up behind for the extra support. Even with that, however, on the second charge, the taller stag easily lifted him as their racks jostled and clacked together, and once on his hindlegs, the younger cervitaur was done for. A toss sent him into the dirt, and the stag was quick to almost pounce right over him, grinning.

Slowly, the beaten cervitaur’s tail stiffened out halfway, and, as there would be no fighting with that white flag raised, McGucket wandered off. There was no more danger to his buck, why would he care to stay?

Norman was glad to see him go. He’d read some of what deers did on the Cervitaur Handlers and Breeders Association website, but, probably for some legal reason, there were no pictures and it was all very clinical, anatomical, and artificial. He wasn’t looking for that today.

The stag stepped back, and slowly the yearling staggered up, tail still held out halfway to prevent further attacks. He walked to the side of the fence where Norman was, mostly for comfort, a bit of reassurance after that defeat, and rested his hands on the bar. Somewhere, he’d registered he’d need the extra bracing.

The stag didn’t particularly need to show off for Dipper after this point, so he ducked down and inspected the softly pinked hole, not entirely surprised to see both sets of equipment down there. Not his first dual-doe, though usually they tended to present female when brought to him. Ah well, there was still everything he needed here! Question became, however...

He brushed off the soft slit, clearing away as much of the dirt from the fall as he could. No sense in having to get it off once it was all sticky, after all. A bit of poking and prodding, and Dipper made a soft sound as, unbidden, he peed. That was what Bill had wanted, and his deer-nose picked up the scent of estrus, exactly what he’d needed to continue. Still red-faced, the littler cervitaur looked behind him, wondering why exactly he’d been made to urinate, and was met with the frightening sight of the already-tall stag rearing up awkwardly on his hindlegs, and then draping his bigger body over. Dipper’s stance widened as his breathing picked up, and as something poked at his vulva, his own cock slid out traitorously. His ears pinned back, nerves and interest both in the motion, and he looked over to Norman for comfort, reassurance, only to find instead, something put from his jeans, something he was stroking quite vigorously. His eyes widened, though there wasn’t much time to think about it as that slim poking thing finally entered him, and he let out a loud and unusually pleased grunt.

With his rod finally in, the stag repositioned himself, grabbing at the fence with his hands to steady himself a little, and began to ram into the littler loser with a bit of fierceness to it, a sort of “thought you could beat me, I’ll show you” to it. Of course, the intent was quite lost on Dipper, who found himself lost in the quivering pleasure, driven forwards by Bill’s actions until his chest was on the wood-slat fence.

Norman watched the stag rail his previously innocent little cervitaur, and blushed darker as he kept stroking. He was pretty sure he’d seen something like recognition in the cervitaur’s eyes when he noticed what he’d been doing, and a bit of a crazy thought drifted into his head. Pine Tree’s mouth is right there, it’s hardly taboo to… Well, it is a human half… Not like he’s touching the deer parts, right? He could see if the cervitaur wanted to… Maybe…

A scent caught the yearling’s nose, one of salt and musk. Curious and lightheaded, he fluttered his eyes open, and found Norman’s head not too far from his mouth. He gave it a curious lick, and found the warmth nice, and the taste not unpleasant either, and began licking, and then sucking as more was provided, as the stag’s thrusts grew more jerky, erratic. Bill, feeling slightly possessive with this other male trying to edge in on his doe, reached around Dipper’s torso and pulled up, giving a harsh bite to one of the velvety ears angled back at him. Dipper’s eyes widened and his world went white as something hot was pumped into him, out of him, and- As Norman gasped- onto him. Neither of the cervitaurs made a sound besides heavy breaths, and as the stag dismounted, and surveyed his work, the dual-doe remained as though transfixed on the fence, panting hard, flag slowly lowering to guard and catch and hold what remained of Bill’s seed.

Norman fixed himself up and went to inquire about penning his own cervitaur up for the night, seeing as, other than the electric lamps lighting up the doorways and the like, it had gone from a sunset glow to dark night.

~

The next morning, Dipper was run, fed and watered, and brought back to Bill for confirmation. There was no fight this time, and this time, the stag was gentler as he again prodded the dual-doe into urination. The scent held no sign of estrus, and, disinterested, Bill looked towards McGucket, as if asking what he was supposed to do with this. He was given an apple, and happily walked back to his stall as Dipper, confused, was led back to the trailer, where soft straw and a blanket had been laid out for him, along with some extra treats, for the long drive home.

Chapter Text

Seven months. Seven months of promises, mortgages, finances, and stresses, all of which had to be kept away from the dual-doe cervitaur. Seven months, and finally, one morning, a round belly turned into a rounded cervitaur fawn, pudgy and soft and peaceful. Norman, following tradition of naming fawns after buck and doe, named the baby boy “Pine Pharaoh”, and Dipper named him Niel.

Niel is cared for dearly, of course, by the lucky mother, and was up and walking with some guidance by the second week, and on to eating solid foods by three months. Still attached to Dipper, of course, but starting to become independent, they can finally take the cervitaur dual-doe and fawn to shows.

The local fairs are easy enough to win- Cervitaurs are expensive enough to keep that there isn’t much competition at such a level, and they rarely have a touch of the expensive pedigree of Pine Tree, or the more expensive and better pedigreed Pine Pharaoh. Of course, plenty are offers are made, increasing with every ribbon the now two-year cervitaur wins, and Dipper gives them, when permitted, to little Niel to play with. The prize money, though small, grows larger with every step up they make, and soon those stressful finances of almost a year ago are barely a concern.

At the state level, though, is when the upstart dual-doe begins to catch the eyes of the veterans.

After a second-place red ribbon for Dipper at a state fair, where the recency of birth slowed him by a hair behind the unbred doe who’d shown him up, Norman was approached by a stony gargoyle, yellow eyes gleaming like the gold he’d hoped to see Pine Tree win. The other trainers and ranchers were feeding and watering their charges for the night, saying goodbyes and checking them for strain. A poof of cigar smoke made the gargoyle look briefly draconic, though any reptilian would surely have set off the cervitaurs inside. A couple are sniffing at the sweet smoke, and a good number watch as the gargoyle stretches and approaches the owner of the second-placer.

“A nice dual-doe you’ve got there,” he began, with a sly smile. “I’d bet money on him.”

“I- I’m quite glad you would,” Norman returned, suspicious of the stony man’s intentions. Perhaps another offer for Pine Pharaoh- though the longer he stayed around the fawn the more attached he got, perhaps this fellow in a nice business suit could actually offer a suitable sum.

“The fawn’s even nicer,” the monsterman fairly purred.

“I- I mean, yes, he’s- From some really great stock,” Norman agreed, heart falling a little at the thought of separating Pine Pharaoh from his mother, though, of course, he’d been weaned already and there was nothing besides sentiment stopping him.

“How’s about I buy them? You’ll get a nice sum to set up a ranch with more than these two, and I’ll throw in straws from Pine Pharaoh for free, long as you’ve got does for it.”

The offer was staggering- The money for both of them, as well as the cumulative value of straws from the fawn’s pedigree, and just offering it- That was a lot of money to just be offered, even if not all of it was immediate. However… He cast a glance over to Dipper’s stall, decorated with its ribbons, the soft prancing sounds within and the flashes of brown from the two playing inside. The thought of giving them up was… Prohibitive.

“I- I’m sorry, sir. I really can’t right now,” he murmured, scuffing his foot against the dust-and-straw ground. He moves to check on his runner-up dear, until a loud, stony voice from behind stops him.

“I’ll give you fifty thousand.”

For the two of them? Norman shook his head. “Sorry, they’re worth-”

“Each.”

A hundred thousand… Money like that could get him his own cervitaur, just for pleasure, and perhaps a proper ranch setup. But again, the memory of those warm brown eyes, the soft nose pressed into his hand when he brought sugar cubes or honeyed walnuts… That was worth more to him. Besides, if he could win regional…

“I’m going to have to say no, again, sir, I’m sorry.” He walked to the stall, now, and leaned in to see his dual-doe and the fawn.

“A hundred thousand. Each. It’s clear they’re winners, and I pay for winners.”

Dipper looked up at his owner from inside the stall, ears swiveling to the monster-man and his owner in turn. Something in their tone- the repeated insistence of the stone one, the look on his owner’s face, the way they both were tense… He was going to be sold, wasn’t he? Or maybe Niel would be. He’d seen it before, the cervitaurs switching hands, led in by one person and out by another. Dipper bleated softly, and Neil settled by his fore-knees, the mother cervitaur giving big eyes to Norman in hopes of keeping their fawn.

Those wide eyes sealed the deal for Norman. “I’m sorry, sir. I won’t sell him.” Guy was probably in the mob or something, with that suit and cigar. Better keep out of it.

“Wait. Last offer, then. Let my company sponsor him.”

That was different. A sponsorship… “What company? I don’t even know you.”

The gargoyle let out a laugh that startled a few of the more skittish cervitaurs. “Oh! Where are my manners. I’m Stanley Pines, of the Stan Pines Construction Incorporated.” He held out a hand, clawed and cold.

Of course he had a construction company.

Norman paused, and shook the proffered hand. “Sounds good to me. Get the paperwork to me and I’ll look it over, but I’ve got no problem with a sponsorship.”

“A great decision, sport. I’ll be heading out then, get your papers before you leave tomorrow. Say, nine AM?” Even the teeth on this gargoyle were grey. One had to wonder why a gargoyle smoked.

“Good for me. See you then.” Norman turned back to the cervitaur inside, and saw he was much more anxious than before. Now, those brown eyes welled with tears as Stanley left, and the ears, previously up and curious, were flat back.

Someone had been sold. Maybe they both had been sold. He’d gone and got second place and now he was being sold. His owner didn’t love him anymore. And his owner was smiling. It made the cervitaur’s heart ache, and he scooted back a little. Niel bleated in annoyance, and got up to curl in the corner for a nap, leaving his distressed mother alone.

“Awh, what’s wrong, Dipdip?” He asked, opening the stall door and walking inside, smile falling a little.

The cervitaur was certain Norman’s chipper demeanour was due to one (or both?) of them being sold to the sweet-smoke man, and when the tone turned to concern instead, he looked down at the ribbon, the red of failure, clipped to his show-collar. He tugged at it a little, ears back, ashamed and scared of the new-owner. He didn’t want to go, but he’d failed, so of course he would. Not that he could see the red very well, but it wasn’t the bright and chipper blue that was given to the best. So it might as well be worthless.

Neil snored a bit from the corner.

“Ohhhh, you silly deer,” Norman laughed, reaching up and gently petting at the velveted antlers, almost at full growth, an impressive six points for his second year. “Don’t be sad. Shh, shh. It’s all okay. We got sponsored. Someone is paying for us to go to Regionals, and if we do well there, it’ll go to Nationals!” He was all bright smiles, despite Dipper’s hesitation, and seeing little was cheering the cervitaur there, he sighed softly and got on tip-toes to scratch at his ears, something he’d discovered little Pine Tree quite liked. In a very, very specific way.

The scratching of those sensitive ears made the cervitaur a bit confused- Sure, Norman had done it before, after discovering how it made him feel a bit after the meet with Bill, but never at a show, and he’d always left shortly after. This time, though, Norman was still here, and… Watching him. Go away, he had to take care of the problem! A soft push on Norman’s shoulder to try and get the point across. Go already.

However, the owner did not. Instead, he tugged gently at the collar, making the cervitaur lean down obediently, confused, until sticky lips mashed against his own. He was briefly confused, but soon found it nice, and kissed back in his customarily clumsy fashion, slowly losing the anxiety of second place. He was still cared for? Well that was great! Maybe he wouldn’t be sold after all! Norman pulled away, and got out a stool, the one he had to stand on to check velvet.

“I think we should celebrate,” Norman murmured to his cervitaur, rubbing at the fuzzy bases of Dipper’s ears again. That made the red-pink shaft go from peeking out of its sheath to properly out and hanging, and once Norman saw that, he grinned. Slowly, he loosened his belt and pulled down pants and boxers, revealing his pale ass, and then bent over the stool. The other trainers were long gone- it was just him, Pine Tree, and the other, curious, cervitaurs. A chorus of small, soft sounds rose from the ones that could see, all speaking to Dipper in shock, some goading him on, some cautious, some not caring. Of course, the cervitaur didn’t need extra motivation, and moved forwards to have some fun. Norman wasn’t a doe, didn’t need checking for anything. His first few thrusts missed, smearing pale cheeks with slippery precum, until Norman helped the inexperienced dual-doe to find his mark with a hand and a spread.

It felt amazing, for both parties- As soon as Dipper’s cock pushed in through that tight ring, naturally lubricated enough to not provide too much discomfort to the human on the receiving end, he tried a bit more standing, bracing his front knees against the wall, hands gripping tightly to the lukewarm misting-pipes on the ceiling. He pushed in, inch after inch, until he was met by resistance, enough to stop his thin, smooth shaft from going any further. He grunted a little, steadied his stance, and began fucking properly, hard and fast. Of course, the cervitaur wouldn’t last long, but the mind-numbing pleasure of a deep, taboo fantasy being fulfilled, along with how pent-up he’d been recently- It wasn’t long before the sheer speed of the animalistic thrusts, the rough treatment, and his own stroking-off caused him to cum, and cum hard. As was to be expected, Dipper’s orgasm soon came, and he shot deep into Norman. The pure liquid heat pooling in his belly is what sent the human over the edge, forcing him to bite his fist to stifle what otherwise would have been a rather loud, whorish moan, the two of them pumping out what they had in the dimly-lit stall until, an eternity and all too soon after, the buck dismounted, sliding easily out of Norman with a satisfied smile.

Norman sighed, and slowly, with an aching rear, straightened and pulled up his pants. The heavy scent of cervitaur sweat on him made him realize he needed to wash them both, now, and so he stiffly walked Dipper out and took care of that, removing evidence of their tryst as he did. Then, drying the deer and walking back, he gave his sweet cervitaur another smooch, gentler and kinder this time. Pine Tree laid down and curled up, soon falling asleep on the summer straw, while Norman cleaned himself up best he could. He didn’t want to make the trek back to the truck… He looked at the cervitaur. Might as well bed down here. He laid his head back against Dipper’s deer-shoulder and tucked some clean straw around himself, and soon fell asleep in the warmth and what remained of the afterglow.

~

Norman’s phone was nice enough to go off with a good morning alarm before dying, and it startled both Dipper and his fawn into awareness. Blinking blearily, they got up and began their morning routine, nudging Norman into getting going despite the residual soreness of having a deer-man fuck him. Norman haltered both, and led them to the trailer, arriving at 8:45. Just barely on time. He was in the middle of feeding them both when Stanley walked up with a big bundle of paperwork, and an even bigger grin.

Dipper’s fears came back, and he shied away when the gargoyle put his hand out to sniff and then shake, causing the gargoyle’s smile to fall a little before shrugging. “You’ll be used to me soon enough,” he reasoned, before turning to Norman. “Paperwork’s all here, got a copy for you and one for me, make sure you sign everything! Got a table?”

“Yeah, in the RV. Here, come inside.” He was a little odd in walking, and the vehicle sank lower on its shocks as the heavy gargoyle stepped in.

“Something happen?” Stan asked as Norman sat to read. “You’re walkin’ a bit funny.”

“Oh- Yeah, Pine Tree kicked me. I think he thinks he’s getting sold, not all that happy with me,” he lied, quickly as he could, hoping the gargoyle would believe him.

Believe him he did. “Hah! Kid’s got fire! I like that. Got my hopes up with that.”

~

Regionals went amazingly. By now, Pine Tree was over the birthing in entirety, and was in top form for the two most important competitions. He placed a solid first there, and more offers came through on him and Pine Pharaoh. It was now Stan’s job to handle those, a job he gladly took, though mostly because Norman was dead set on not selling Pine Tree, and didn’t want Pine Pharaoh gone to anyone he didn’t trust. Training went well, and Stan helped with the obedience training a great deal, trying everything he could to distract from the sidelines. Dipper soon learned how better to not react to him, and they could only hope it would carry through.

Velvet shed, and for a week, the cervitaur was given free reign to shake off the first of the craziness that came with it, until animal hormones were wrestled under control for the final performance- Nationals- the only one that required antlers for the bucks and male-presenting dualdoes.

~

Norman slid his arm through the fancy, dark leather jacket, with Stan’s company logo on the back. He couldn’t imagine how hot it’d be if these were held in summer. Luckily, though, it was autumn, and as an added bonus, the leather was good protection against sharp antler-tines and hooves. He hoped he wouldn’t need that aspect of it. He squinted as he stepped into the stadium lights to find Dipper already out there, in the small temp-stall alongside the MVP wall. There were nerves in the cervitaur’s stance, eyes, and it was clear why. Four stalls down, lording it over the other bucks and dualdoes, was American Pharaoh, antlers proud, solidly twelve points, huge and imposing in his splendor. And after the last experience Dipper had, it was understandable why his ears were shaking at the scent of the proud stag.

Norman walked to the cervitaur and patted the join between human and deer, gently petting down the soft, winters-grey fur, groomed to a fluffy perfection. “It’s okay, it’s okay. He won’t do anything. Shh.”

One by one, the cervitaurs are led out, in order of increasing likelihood to win. American Pharaoh brings up the rear, taking his time to show off his coat, still a summery red with the yellow off-colour that got him his name, and more importantly, the muscles beneath it. Gleaming ivory tines crown him, and the crowd cheers, king of three years running.

While walking the circle, Bill knows very well that dual-doe three separate from him, and gives a soft snort. You think you can beat me? It teases. Lost once already. When you lose again I’ll make you regret challenging me twice.

The first round was obedience and form.

First is the unmanned one- standing, being judged for form and poise. Judges walk up to him, measure the antlers’ proportionality, the curve of his backs, balance in stance and arc of hooves, propensity for distractions.

Then, Norman saddles him, and must guide him through maneuvers. A figure-eight. The speeds of motion, walk, soft trot, run, and bound. Hoof accuracies of placement- the straight line, the weave. Acceleration and stopping. A tight circle. Each step must be perfect, each exertion as exacting as machinery, and in the same vein, Norman must not change his positions outside of the acceptable, even as his charge leaps as though wolves chase him across five hundred feet of sod in two blinks of an eye or spins in dizzying circles. Neither may Pine Tree pant, or swing his arms wildly, or lose balance and fall.

After this round, the scores come in for the first aspect.

“American Pharaoh comes in first, with a score of 9.6! In a surprising second, Pine Tree, with a score of 9.1! White Star is displaced to third, with 8.7!”

Dipper knew it had been that single, slight side-eye glare at Bill that cost him first.

Once back in their temporary stables, Dipper is allowed a drink, and some heavy breaths after the exertion of that first round. Only minutes are available to recuperate as the sod is carefully brushed back to flat, and only minutes for Norman to calm his cervitaur, who is, in the privacy of the stable, clearly spooked by the hordes of people, the cheers, the camera-flashes. It was so loud, and in the closed building there was no breeze and reminder of outside to soothe him. Norman tried to soothe the cervitaur best he could, but as Dipper stepped to the line for the Kilometer Dash, it was clear he was starstruck, just a little.

For this one, the deer would have to dash thrice across the length of the field, measuring their speed as well as hairpin turns. Skidding over the lines would lose them a point automatically, and hitting a wall was an immediate 0.

They were all lined up at the start, and Dipper’s wide eyes stared at the people in the stands. The humans knew Pharaoh had yet to lose a race, and they chanted his name: “Pharaoh! Pharaoh! Pharaoh!”

The sounds, the sights, distracted Dipper just enough that he missed the starting run by fractions of a second and was met with white tails in his forward view. Realizing his mistake again, he dashes forwards with all the speed he can muster in a dangerously long bound. Misjudge it and he’d hit the wall at worst- and on the first, indeed, he almost does, skidding over the stop-line. A gasp from those few to bet on him- He’s the only one to do so, and though his turn is good, that is one point that cannot be recovered. His bounds catch him almost up, and his turn is impeccable again, smaller size and nimble hooves allowing him that benefit. And the third stretch comes, and he leaps with all his might, white tail raised high, chests heaving, sod skiffing out behind him.

Photographs flash the line. He and Bill are close, a difference of only four feet at the most.

The scores come in again.

“American Pharaoh takes first, just like he always has, with a perfect 10! While Pine Tree came in tied with Boom and Cannon, his score of 9.8 has to be docked one, to 8.8! This means Boom and Cannon takes second instead, at 9.8, while Pine Tree gets third!”

Dipper, exhausted, laid down in his stall, and gave Ryan, named Boom and Cannon by the humans, a congratulatory wheeze before just panting and trying to ease the burning in his lungs. The crowd roars around as the scores are announced, and Norman tries to urge Dipper to move so his muscles won’t freeze up. They are paraded again, this time in order of scores, and Pine Tree is still in second overall. 17.9 for him, 19.6 for American Pharaoh. After that, they are dismissed- the second day is just as exhausting, and the cervitaurs need their rest. Led to calmer stables, Dipper finds himself across from Bill.

You gonna admit defeat and show me your tail now? The stag asked, teasingly. Can’t promise you won’t overshoot the leap here, of course, I know, so maybe I should go over there.

Dipper huffed and curled up in the straw.

Stan, of course, waits for them there, and if stones could turn colour he’d be red and livid. So instead, he’s just twice as angry.

“What the hell happened out there?!” He almost shouted, punching a wooden beam so hard a fist-dent is left. Pine Tree scoots away from Stan, certain the anger is directed at him, ears down and tail shaking nervously.

“Calm down. He’s still second overall, third in race didn’t hurt him,” Norman rebuffed, crossing his arms. “Boom and Cannon and White Star are a good two points behind him each.”

“Yeah, but keep up being second in everything and we’ll never beat my brother!” He hissed, stony wings shuddering with a clack behind him. He really thought he had a chance this year, and that stupid overshoot was going to cost him!

“Your… Brother?” Norman asked, tilting his head a little.

Stan sat heavily on the reinforced bench nearby. “Yes, my brother. Owner of SphynxTech. You know, the computer company thing. He’s the one sponsoring McGucket. He always, always wins with that stupid Pharaoh of his.” Over in the stall across, Bill snorted at hearing his name from the stone one who always lost. He’s better, he knows. Stop being jealous.

“Just like he always wins at everything.” There was a level of irritation, anger, at that, one that implied years of loss, at much more than just cervitaur shows.

“Don’t worry, Mr. Pines. With, uh, him being Pine Tree, and you being Pines, you can’t lose?” The tone was unsure, but hopeful, and it did nothing for Stan.

“Enjoy your room, Norman.” Was his response.

Norman sighed, and turned to Dipper. It wasn’t allowed for trainers to remain in the stables after closing, in case of sabotage. He scratched Dipper’s back a little, and kissed his nose. Now that Niel was a half-year, he had to be separated from Dipper, but he wondered if Pine Pharaoh would be as cute to see… Wait, what was he thinking. No, bad plan.

“Night, you silly deer,” he sighed, before going up to flop out on his queen bed back at the hotel. Restless sleep took him, and he worried for the morning.

Chapter Text

Dipper woke to missing Niel, the warm morning nuzzles and hugs, the cute little speckles on his back and how happy he always was.

Norman came down as soon as allowed to find a slightly morose Pine Tree, and American Pharaoh woke at the sound of steps, and Pine Tree being led out. They were followed by a good number of snort-wheezes and grunts, which, while Norman couldn’t translate them exactly, he did suspect was cervitaur catcalling. “Come on, Dipdip, I’m sure outside is nice and brisk.”

They went to the racing greens, and Norman put Pine Tree on his harness to run for a bit, warm up his muscles before the next events at the Nationals. The Clash, and then the obstacle course. Norman ate a bacon egg and cheese burrito, complimentary hotel breakfast made portable, and gave Dipper some honeyed walnuts as encouragement and to pick him up a little, perhaps.

Then, back into the closed, brightly lit event dome. He slid on that dark jacket and led Pine Tree to the temp-stable.

The scoreboard flashed with the randomized pairings for The Clash.

And, as fate must have it, Pine Tree was against American Pharaoh.

Of course, as the big battle, they were last, and Dipper got to watch other deer fight, doing his best to learn what he could from the more experienced cervitaurs’ tactics. But, again, he’d already jostled against Bill, and had a vague idea what to expect, so his mind raced as he did what he could to figure his plan.

Then, the cervitaurs were brought to the large ring, a hundred feet across. He knew not to step out of the ring once inside, he knew not to pass out, but the one thing he really couldn’t control was the one rule he didn’t know. Don’t let your antlers break.

Deja Vu hits Dipper hard as Bill lowers his magnificent rack and braces his neck with his arms. Oh gods, he’s going to lose. He’s gonna get flipped, and what if Bill decides to do that thing again, he doesn’t want to-

And Bill is rushing at him. In a panic, he braces and digs his hooves into the sod, planting them deep to the dirt below. He scoots back a little, but a twist dislodges Bill. Huh? He’s not… Out?

The smugness on Bill’s face falters, and Dipper looks back to see why this is working. Inspired, he digs his hooves out, and walks slightly off, and waits, until Bill’s impatience brings the next rush upon him.

Like waves on a stone, endless and slowly wearing him down, Dipper stands strong and bears the brunt of the attacks, wide stance and sod-propped legs distributing the weight and impact as again and again Bill moves, turns, shifts, and charges. The antlers make terrible cracks and clatters, bone against bone, grinding against each other as one rushes the other. Twice, three times, Dipper is forced to his knees in the ring, doing all he can to hold up against the older, larger, stronger stag’s onslaught, until finally, unable to move, each charge starts sending him inexorably to the edge of the ring. The clock is running down, Dipper is almost to the edge of the ring with deep furroughs following his pushed progress, and Bill feels the first inklings of fear he might not win the combat. Unthinkable.

With one last wild charge-and-sweep, he attempts to lift the littler buck as he had before, back in the previous breeding-season, Dipper rearing up, trying to just make it until the buzzer sounds--

Only for a terrifying snap to sound out, and an uproar from the audience. Defeat by broken antler!

An ivory tine falls between them, and both retreat as the buzzer sounds. The judges look over each antler, and quickly see it is Bill’s foremost left tine, snapped at the tip, just enough to count. The crowd cheers at the Pharaoh’s defeat, at the Pharaoh’s broken crown, at the little underdog taking down a reigning champion.

The scores come in.

Pine Tree won that with a 7.1, and American Pharaoh received no points.

Stan was overjoyed, Norman was in disbelief, and Dipper’s neck really hurt.

At the temporary stabling, Stan and Norman exchanged a hug, and then separated with a laugh. “I can’t believe it!” “I thought for sure he was done for, Pharaoh’s so much bigger!” “We’ve got this in the bag!” “‘Specially with the next round being obstacle course!” “I can’t believe it, we’re gonna place first!”

And indeed, it would take a miracle for someone to overtake Pine Tree at this point, with the leads he’d held previous and the ten-points split between the two contestants in The Clash.

The obstacle course, finally, was set up. Much like a horse’s show, there were barrels for weaving in and out of and gates to jump, but for the first part, the solo part, so too was there a long-jump and a see-saw and a small concrete block to stand upon.

And Norman’s training paid off. The first part was the barrel-weaving, and Dipper performed excellently, not a hair on him brushing the sticky wood, not one barrel missed. He looped around correctly for the second pass, and leap-zagged over on the return. Then, he sped up and leapt over the first, second, and third long-jumps, each time clearing the mark by at least a foot. Then, he picked up the egg and spoon placed on top of the barrels, set the egg on the spoon and placed the handle in his mouth, and made his way up the see-saw. From there, it was a slow step to the middle point, where leaned his weight forwards slowly, felt the angle shift and the other end land, and knew his heart was racing as the egg wobbled. Then, it was a long ways down to the ground, a short and perilous hop onto the block, and a single turn around on the irregular concrete, before he could set the egg and spoon back in their place and give a single vertical leap, high as he could, to signify he was done.

Norman walked him back to the temporary stable, confident his Pine Tree had gotten full marks on that segment, as many of the other deer did as well, or at least very close to it... Including American Pharaoh.

And so, came the thrilling conclusion of the Nationals: the unhinged course. The obstacle course, designed in every method to trip up and confuse cervitaurs. In addition to that, you were allowed to push, trip, topple, bump, or otherwise interfere with your opponents as much as you wanted, so long as you did not directly draw blood. If a deer fell and broke something, that was a different story, but use of antlers, teeth, and any other weapons that caused the victim to bleed was an illegal action, resulting in disqualification of that segment’s score.

Dipper noticed, as did a number of the other cervitaurs, that something was stalking behind them. A sphynx, leonine and terrifying to them, all except Bill. As the frightened cervitaurs watched, the sphynx grinned and murmured to his runner in this final race segment, and gave a smack to his haunch. It surprised Bill, but didn’t particularly hurt. All of the cervitaurs noticed the slight gleam that came from between the sphynx’s toes, but none of them knew what to make of the needle and syringe, tainted with testosterone and adrenaline.

Instead, the crew of deer were led out to the starting line, and American Pharaoh was antsy and raring to go. The other deer shied from him a little, especially Dipper and the other duo-doe, afraid of what he might do, smelling as he did.

And the buzzer sounded, and the ten contestants surged out. Pine Tree and American Pharaoh soon surged to the lead, though a sudden slow by Bill caused Dipper to falter and fall behind as the longer-legged stag pulled ahead. Dipper feigned a rush at Bill and caused the stag to have to swerve as they entered the dark tunnel, and Bill, incapable of standing the thought of this- this doe beating him, chose instead to rush ahead and, in the tunnel, in the dark, lashed out with intent to bleed. How dare this upstart. Testosterone and indignation fueled his decision to jam his jagged and broken antler tine up, and pierce through the thick, fluffy winter-coat, pushing hard into muscle, and pulling away as Dipper limped a little. He returned to his place, his rightful place, at the front of the charge, hand sliding up the antler to hide blood.

Despite the jagged wound, his thick fur soaks the blood up well, and it isn’t seen- all that is noticed is Pine Tree, lagging at the rear, as the cervitaurs thunder out of the tunnel. Back into the blinding lights. Dipper’s breaths grew sharp. Now the bramble push- He had to be careful not to get his feet or antlers tangled in the thick, thorny vines. Now the arc jumps- four feet, success, five feet, six, and seven as well, up to the final eight-foot vertical leap- He hunched down, sprung up, and barely, barely cleared the tall gate, a single hind hoof clipping the top. Then, it was the dash back- Bill barely behind Dipper, gaining, gaining, with the injured cervitaur, adrenaline-fueled as his main competitor, trying his best to hold his own despite the injury- Catching up-

FLASH!

The camera captured the winner.

Pine Tree walked slowly to Norman and fell at his feet, panting and heaving, shaking with the exertion and pain. Many of the other cervitaurs did, and even mighty American Pharaoh had to as well. The crowd was screeching as the judges viewed the footage, and finally, they got on the announcements.

“And it looks like American Pharaoh wins this round, wi-”

Norman saw red on Pine Tree’s haunch, the blood finally spreading out of the thick winter coat, and he ran up, hailing a medic. “Stop! Stop! Pine Tree is bleeding!”

The crowd hushed, Norman’s voice echoing through the microphone. Mutters rose, then- Was he lying? Had he hurt his own cervitaur? No, he’d not touched the haunch, was that blood on there? Bill licked his hand to hide Dipper’s blood.

The medic came, looked at the injury. Too large to be a wayward thorn, or any of the soft sod, and not shaped right for a hoof or split from running into something. This meant it had to be an antler tine.

“Evidence of willful injury upon Pine Tree has been found. Please be patient, dear audience, while we figure this out.”

It wasn’t a hard one. The other cervitaurs submitted easily to inspecting their antlers for blood, while Bill, caught in his cheating, was recalcitrant and didn’t want to be touched. Inside the jagged end, indeed, there was blood, as well as a bit of fractured antler in the injury Pine Tree had sustained.

The judges reconvened, recalculated, and re-announced.

“Sorry for the delay, folks, but what excitement! American Pharaoh has been proven to have bled Pine Tree, and so is completely disqualified from this round! And, with the handicap, Pine Tree has a perfect score! And wouldn’t you believe it, Pine Tree has completely overthrown the king- He’s the winner of this year’s Nationals!”

Dipper saw Norman rushing up to him, and Stan as well, and they were hugging him, and he laughed and hugged back, nuzzling into his human and the odd stone man as they all celebrated.

[PRIMARY END HERE.]

But Bill would have none of this. Shamed, crown lost, beaten by the very doe he should have rights to, he bellowed and charged Stan, knocking the stone one away as he chased Pine Tree. Stan called for the security as Bill roughly and rudely shoved Dipper into the brambles, tangling the weakened and injured cervitaur in thorns before trying one last show of superiority, trying to knock out this ridiculous upstart’s confidence with one blow. He mounted the tangled dual-doe, much to the audience’s (unadmitted pleasure, amusement, and) shock, and began hammering away fast as he could. Norman tried to intervene, pull the stag off Pine Tree, but was quickly kicked away, and landed with the wind knocked out of him and his prized dual-doe still violated and crying.

“We apologize for this turn of events, folks- The handlers are coming out now, they’ll take care of this whole mess, just do remember it is that time of year for them.”

Norman looked around at the faces of the crowd, red, trying to not stare and failing miserably, and briefly felt something like normal, as the “handlers” shot a couple tranquilizer rounds into the rutting stag and pulled him off.