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This Heart That Fears (OC, /nmp/, WiP)

EphemeralPastebin Feb 28th, 2018 (edited) 1,691 Never
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  1. >Be Gentle Monsoon, volunteer guard and love agency scout, and be heading to meet your match for the first time.
  2.  
  3. >Breathe in… breathe out…
  4. >The thoughts echoed in your mind over and over like a metronome.
  5. >If it was helping, you couldn’t tell.
  6. >It felt like you were vibrating with stress right now.
  7. >In and out…
  8.  
  9. >As you walked down the hall, each step felt shaky, like your hooves would give out at any moment, or that you’d faint before you got there, and all the while your heart felt like it was trying to beat out of your chest.
  10. >But you had kept moving.
  11. >He was waiting for you.
  12.  
  13. >You reached the oaken double doors at the end of the hall and gulped.
  14. >He was on the other side.
  15. >How do you even talk to a man and not look like a total idiot?
  16. >You groaned.
  17. >Celestia, you felt like you were gonna puke.
  18. >How the heck do mares handle this kind of pressure?!
  19. >No… focus, Monsoon. You need to breath.
  20. >You repeated your mantra, breathing deep then letting the air out through your nostrils.
  21.  
  22. >It wasn’t helping.
  23.  
  24. >Agh, screw it! He was your husbando, wasn’t he?
  25. >He’d like you, right?
  26. >... right?
  27. >But...
  28. >You were just… you.
  29.  
  30. >A cold chill ran through you.
  31. >He hadn’t even received a photo. This would be the first time he saw you.
  32. >What would he think?
  33. >You weren’t much to look at and he could probably have any mare he wanted.
  34. >You’d failed to hand one in since you haven't found any where you DIDN’T look like horseapples.
  35. >What if he was disappointed? He came all this way, leaving everything behind for a mare he’s never even seen before, and you weren’t cute or strong or funny.
  36. >You were just awkward little Monsoon.
  37.  
  38. >Maybe you should have used makeup, or gotten your mane styled? It was as nice as you could get it on your own but you still had plenty of messy wings.
  39. >Oh, and your hooves are probably super rough. Who wants to hold hooves if you feel like sandpaper? And your coat was damp and you probably needed another shower.
  40. >AND TARTARUS, YOU JUST REMEMBERED.
  41. >You also left up My Big Human Posters in your room and the full sized daki—
  42.  
  43. >The doors opened.
  44. >He stood there, hand on the nob, looking out with a questioning look on his face.
  45. >Anonymous...
  46. >His brilliant green eyes slid down to you and he gave a start.
  47. >You froze like a deer in the headlights.
  48. >Oh no...
  49. >He…
  50. >HE WAS EVEN CUTER IN PERSON.
  51.  
  52. >He blinked once, puzzling for a moment as he looked you over.
  53. >You felt your stomach drop out and a litany of apologies ran through your head.
  54. >Celestia he’s gotta be so disappointed in you...
  55.  
  56. >”Oh... sorry. I didn’t see you there,” he said, interrupting your thoughts. “Am I in the right place? I was supposed to meet a mare here. She’s supposed to be my match,” he says, a small smile coming to his face, like he’d thought of something funny. “My waifu.”
  57.  
  58. >The butterflies in your stomach had turned into birds at this point.
  59. >Say something!
  60. >Everything gets caught in your throat except a small whimper.
  61. >SHIT! HE’S GONNA THINK YOU’RE WEIRD AND HOMELY NOW!
  62. >Come on, filly, you’ve waited forever for this.
  63. >He’s your husbando and he’s right there in front of you.
  64. >Don’t mess up don’t mess up don’t mess up or he’ll HATE you and you only get one chance.
  65.  
  66. >“Are…”
  67. >He bends down and looks closer at you.
  68. >”Are you the mare I’m supposed to meet?”
  69.  
  70. >AAHHHHHH.
  71. >You begin screaming internally as your face lights up beat red.
  72. >Your chest is tight as you try to think of something, anything to save this situation.
  73. >You closed your eyes, shrinking away from him.
  74.  
  75. >This… this is too much.
  76.  
  77. “N…”
  78. >The first syllable slips out and he gives you a questioning look.
  79. >Don’t do it. Don’t chicken out.
  80. “N-No.”
  81. >The words drop like a lead weight, heavy and final.
  82. >But it feels like a burden has lifted off your shoulders and you exhale.
  83. >Seconds later your mind catches up and slimey guilt settles into the pit of your stomach.
  84. >Your eyes widen a fraction.
  85. >What did you just do?
  86.  
  87. >He looks disappointed for just a second, then stands up again.
  88. >”Oh… alright then.”
  89. >He looks down and sees your name tag which reads ‘Husbando Bureau Agent.’
  90. >His eyes light up.
  91. >“Oh, you work here. When do I meet her? I was told she’d be here some time ago.”
  92.  
  93. >Tell him the truth, you scream internally, but.. but then he’d know you lied to him.
  94. >He’d know you saw him, then said it wasn’t you, like you were disappointed with HIM.
  95. >That wasn’t right. If anything he should be disappointed with you!
  96. >You… you couldn’t hurt him like that.
  97. >Not him.
  98. >Not your husbando.
  99.  
  100. “Th-There’s been a problem,” you say. Even you aren’t sure where you’re going with this yet, but it begins to pour out of you.
  101. “We… We need more time to find her. I’m, uh, going to be with you for the time being. I’m… your…”
  102. >Your what?
  103. >You’re his waifu!
  104. >Say it, please!
  105. >”Your h-handler.”
  106. >Like a nail that’s been set, you hammer the lie in then hold your breath.
  107.  
  108. >An array of emotions plays on his face, confusion, sadness then acceptance, and he finally nods.
  109. >”I see. I thought that… Well alright, I can wait. If this is really a perfect match, then she’s worth some patience.”
  110.  
  111. >You want to cry.
  112.  
  113. “Th-Thank you,” is all you can say.
  114.  
  115. --
  116.  
  117. >A few days earlier...
  118.  
  119. >Be Gentle Monsoon
  120. >Light rain tickled your coat as you looked out over the city, its lights blurred in the night.
  121. >Your coat lay heavy, soaked through at this point despite the little yellow raincoat you’d been given.
  122. >It didn’t matter.
  123. >The rain never bothered you.
  124. >Besides, it was worth it.
  125.  
  126. >The center view of your night vision goggles lit up with a bright white silhouette as a human stepped onto their balcony.
  127. >He eased himself down into a chipped, rusty lawn chair, keeping under an awning so as to avoid the rain.
  128. >He raised a beer to his lips.
  129. >Today you had watched him work an opening shift after another closing shift the night before, along with some overtime in between.
  130. >He’d been yelled at by bosses and customers alike through the day and may have gotten fired.
  131. >You think anyways. You missed half the audio when you had to reposition but suffice it to say, it wasn’t a pleasant conversation before he headed home.
  132.  
  133. >He lived alone, no family to really call on, or at least according to your documents, no healthy relationship with them anyways.
  134.  
  135. >This human was typical in your line of work, as it turned out.
  136. >Their world was… not dark exactly.
  137. >But it was dim.
  138.  
  139. >Granted, the books of their namesake wasn’t exactly sunshine and rainbows.
  140. >Admittedly that’s why ponies kinda liked it. They struggled so hard for things you took for granted—good friends, family, food, a place in life.
  141. >But that gave them an opportunity to show teamwork, patience, and triumph.
  142. >Humans had to work hard for their happy end, and everyone liked that and cheered for the characters.
  143. >But in their world, the one outside the books and comics, victories only came once in a while.
  144. >Most lived crammed together in one to two person apartments, making ends meet with jobs that didn’t value them at all.
  145. >They all went through life, living side by side and nobody cared about each other.
  146. >Humans lived together, in cities with amazing towers that scraped the sky, and an ‘internet’ that let them talk to whoever they wanted, but they went through life alone.
  147.  
  148. >There were so many wonderful husbandos here… it hurt to watch them, seeing their loneliness every day, but you reminded yourself you were helping to fix this.
  149. >It just took some patience, and it started one at a time.
  150.  
  151. >The human perked up and your heart skipped.
  152. >Did he see it?
  153. >He bent down next to his seat and picked up a form, sealed in a plastic ziplock bag to protect from the rain, and tilted his head.
  154. >It was the waifu brochure, a form telling him about the life he could have in Equestria, where a mare was waiting for him.
  155. >You’d left it there before he got back.
  156. >This would be the third one you’d handed to him.
  157. >You didn’t have any more left.
  158. >Three, that was the number of forms each agent got before you had to give up and move on.
  159. >The bureau only had so much horsepower and resources to go around at this point.
  160. >That’s why it was important to give it to them at the right times and to watch them carefully.
  161. >Some humans thought it was a prank and stopped reading them.
  162. >You had to hope they believed in you. Only then could you save them and bring them to a lonely mare who needed them.
  163. >You can’t take them away until they sign.
  164. >Even if they made the choice to be miserable, it was up to them, and the human had thrown away the first two.
  165.  
  166. >This was his last chance.
  167.  
  168. >Your wings twitched under your raincoat, breath steaming in the cold, rainy night as he read it again.
  169. >”Come on, big guy, she’s waiting for you,” you say to yourself. “Sign it, please. She’s going to be so happy to see you… she’s been waiting all this time just to hear your voice.”
  170. >He couldn’t hear you, of course.
  171. >It was like a prayer sent out on the wind.
  172. >”Please…” you said. “You’ll be so happy together.”
  173.  
  174. >The human sighed, then scribbled something on the brochure.
  175. >Your heart beat faster.
  176. >Is he?
  177. >Then, you felt it.
  178. >The portal gem in your coat sparked to life, buzzing with power.
  179. >You took a deep breath and puffed out your chest, beaming at the sky above.
  180. >He signed!
  181. >A small laugh bubbled up from within you and you couldn’t help but jump up and splash around in the puddles.
  182. >Yes yes yes.
  183. >You can’t wait to see the look on his face when you come into his room tonight.
  184. >Oh, he’s going to be so happy.
  185. >Maybe he’ll cry. Maybe his mare will cry.
  186. >Heck, sometimes YOU cry.
  187. >Gosh you love this part of the job.
  188.  
  189. >You sat back down, a smile on your muzzle as you watched him walk back inside, then place the form into his dresser.
  190. >The human world wasn’t like the books.
  191. >Victories only came once in a while.
  192.  
  193. >But they did happen.
  194.  
  195. --
  196.  
  197. >The Crystal Empire’s square was always bustling with the usual array of wide-eyed humans, heads on a swivel, along with a few eager but nervous mares.
  198. >Your new human, Matthew, was no exception to the rule, and seemed to be trying to take everything in all at once as if he could blink and miss it.
  199. >Though, to be fair, he’d only been in Equestria for a few minutes now.
  200. >Even so, you don’t blame him.
  201.  
  202. >There was a kind of excitement in the air, like the feeling of a hearth's warming morning.
  203. >Normally you’d stay by your new humans side and let them explore for a while, but you both had someplace to be today.
  204.  
  205. >Your destination was the Crystal Castle, a monolithic structure overlooking the square, and the place where his special mare was waiting for him.
  206. >The castle had become the impromptu headquarters for the husbando bureau and had been converted to a hostel of sorts, offering relationship preparation, shelter, food, and other acclimation services to humans and mares alike.
  207. >Most couples weren’t able to take advantage of it because of Equestrias size but his waifu, Winter Breeze, had opted to make the trip and meet her husbando as soon as he crossed over.
  208.  
  209. >Though he probably wouldn’t have minded waiting for her here.
  210. >Several of the local stores would give a few free samples to the new humans, half to encourage repeat business during their stay and half to welcome them, and generally ponies tried to be friendly and welcoming.
  211. >Most of them knew the kinds of lives humans had in their world, and everypony wanted to do their part to make them feel better.
  212. >There was a lot of pain to be undone.
  213. >Nearly a lifetime in fact.
  214.  
  215. >As you neared the Castle a white coated mare with a light blue mane bounded out of the front gates, a happy smile on her face.
  216.  
  217. >Greetings were unique among first time couples. Some hugged or simply exchanged a few pleasantries, like a business arrangement that happened to involve living together.
  218. >Others were awkward, as if both parties were trying to read each other through the looks and small giggles.
  219.  
  220. >Winter Breeze was a leaper.
  221.  
  222. >”Oh my gosh, you’re finally here!” she yelled, jumping into his chest and knocking him into a snowbank.
  223. >Matthew lay on his back, staring up at the mare on his chest with a childlike wonder.
  224. >He reached a hand out and touched her coat.
  225. >>”Hi, Winter Breeze. I… this is really happening.”
  226.  
  227. >Winter Breeze beamed and nodded.
  228. >”I’m officially your waifu, and you’re my big handsome husbando. So now…” she said, a sly smile spreading across her face. “Watcha wanna do with me?”
  229.  
  230. >You are quick to recognize lewdness, but you stay quiet.
  231. >This is between the two of them.
  232.  
  233. >The human smirks back.
  234. >>”Oh, I can think of one thing I’ve wanted to do since I saw your photo.”
  235. >He reached out a hand and Winter Breeze stiffened.
  236. >She let out a small squeak as his pointer finger booped her on the muzzle.
  237. >>”Boop.”
  238.  
  239. >Winter Breeze scrunched for a moment then gave him a playful smile.
  240. >”Oh, you’re gonna get it buster,” she said and began to tickle him on his stomach with her wings.
  241.  
  242. >A part of you wanted to warn Winter Breeze that her human wasn’t as resistant to the snow and cold but they seemed to be having fun.
  243. >Oh well.
  244. >That was all that mattered.
  245. >But if she gave her husbando a cold with her lollygagging then she was gonna get a stern talking to.
  246. >Husbandos were precious and mares needed to take good care of them.
  247. >You’d have definitely gotten him inside with a warm blanket by now.
  248.  
  249. >You gave a wry smile.
  250. >Ah, you did it again...
  251. >Despite seeing this a million times you can’t help but imagine yourself in her place.
  252.  
  253. >The human held his mare close, nuzzling into her while laughing and flirting in the snow.
  254. >That must feel nice, you mused.
  255. >Cold days like this were snuggling weather.
  256. >It’d be nice to take a human home on a day like this.
  257. >You could snuggle up by your fireplace, maybe read together or just talk.
  258. >And as the night wore on he would hold you close, breathing in your scent as you pressed into him.
  259. >He’d whisper sweet nothings as you drifted off, saying things like you were his waifu and he wouldn’t ever let you go.
  260. >Yeah… that’d be really nice...
  261.  
  262. >Be Cadence.
  263. >You watched through your balcony windows, high above the square as the latest couple met for the first time.
  264. >Nowadays it was hard to find time to catch these moments.
  265. >So many new couples to approve and match, communions with the Crystal Heart, political work and integration…
  266. >It was an endless, tedious process to keep everything running.
  267. >But moments like these felt like taking a deep breath.
  268.  
  269. >You could feel their affection, gentle and budding as they rolled in the snow.
  270. >A gentle, pure love, unlike any other.
  271. >These were the kinds of matches you’d always hoped to make when you discovered your talent but you couldn’t do something like this alone. Not at this magnitude.
  272. >It was all possible with help from the heart and Twilight.
  273.  
  274. >You sighed, basking in the feelings between the two.
  275. >You’d do everything you could to protect that love.
  276. >That was what the bureau stood for and what, incidentally made so much work for you.
  277. >But as you felt their feelings blossoming for one another, you were reminded it was worth it.
  278.  
  279. >You were also reminded of the many forms for human housing you had to go through.
  280. >With a sigh, you turned toward your desk and got back to work.
  281. >Or you would have if a small prick of something cold hadn’t caught your attention.
  282.  
  283. >You turned back to the window and closed your eyes, extending your senses.
  284. >Was something wrong? Did they have a misunderstanding? That was rare but it did happen.
  285. >Surely they had an agent there to help if anything were to…
  286. >Your thoughts stopped as you realized what it was.
  287. >It was their agent, Monsoon.
  288.  
  289. >The heart, far below flared to life and pulled at you.
  290. >You could sense the pressure on your head, the pulling in your chest.
  291.  
  292. >’Not yet’ it seemed to say.
  293.  
  294. >This mare had been waiting for her human for a while now, even asked a few times if there was anything she could do to prepare or help her get matched.
  295. >Though you recall she hadn’t sent in a request in a while now.
  296. >Had she given up?
  297. >You bit your lip as you felt that icy loneliness, clear as day.
  298. >She certainly still wanted a husbando.
  299.  
  300. >It’s not like you hadn’t tried to arrange her match.
  301. >It just wasn’t that simple.
  302. >She wasn’t ready—you could feel that.
  303. >And more importantly, you have no clue how to deal with her partner at the moment.
  304.  
  305. >Her match was Anonymous.
  306. >THE Anonymous.
  307. >Most mares would recognize that name from a famous book series, My Big Human: Teamwork is Power.
  308. >As it turned out, he existed on earth though nobody knew yet.
  309. >At first glance it seemed like a fairytale come true. Thousands of mares could meet their favorite character, but all it did was complicate things.
  310. >MBH had popularized the idea of human husbandos in the first place and he was a fan favorite hearthrob for a lot of mares.
  311. >You could say he was the original husbando.
  312. >But only Monsoon had been matched to him.
  313. >There were too many problems on every side.
  314. >But…
  315.  
  316. >From this distance you could just barely make out her expression.
  317. >She had a sad smile as she watched the new couple romp through the snow and hug close.
  318. >You’ve felt lonely mares.
  319. >Tartarus, you had hundreds on your mind all the time.
  320. >But seeing it, and from a mare who always gave so much of herself to bring love to others?
  321. >It made your chest ache.
  322.  
  323. >You continued to watch and eventually the initial sparks died down a bit.
  324. >The couple had started to wrap up their meeting and were saying their goodbyes and thank you’s to Monsoon.
  325. >She gave them her card and a few communications scrolls for emergencies, then after a few final words, the new couple left together, eyes filled with wonder and excitement for the future.
  326. >Monsoon stayed behind, sitting in the snow alone, and watched them walk away.
  327. >She’d put on a brave smile, wanting so badly to be happy for them, but you could see the longing in her eyes.
  328. >You could feel the ache, deep in her, ingrained like roots twisted around her heart.
  329. >She sat there for some time, thinking to herself for a while, you guessed, before getting up with a sigh and heading home.
  330. >The heart blazed in the back of your mind.
  331. ‘Not yet’ it seemed to say.
  332.  
  333. >You frowned.
  334. ”Can’t I do anything to help her? What’s the problem? I can’t help if you don’t give me anything!” you said, as if you could reason with the artifact. It didn’t react. All you could feel was the constant, wordless humming in the back of your mind that told you that someone needed healing.
  335.  
  336. ”I know it’s complicated but can’t I just… what if...?”
  337. >The gears in your head began to turn as you went back to your desk.
  338. >Maybe there was a way.
  339. >You had a few ideas you could try at least.
  340. >But first you had to grab his interest, and you couldn’t send any of your agents.
  341. >If it got out who she was matched to, this could fail before it started.
  342. >That meant you had to go it alone.
  343.  
  344. >You cast a spell and a portal ripped open in your study.
  345. >It howled, a storm raging among a galaxy of stars, beckoning you to a world beyond.
  346. >A world whose magic had been choked out long ago, where a million souls cried out in pain every night, calling to be loved without believing they deserved it.
  347. >There was a good reason you never went there anymore. At some point it started to keep you up at night and Shining would have to console you.
  348. >But this was for Monsoon.
  349. >That mare deserved a chance to be happy, no matter what.
  350. >And this was the only thing you could think of.
  351. >If you waited any longer she might lose that spark, that hope and belief in love.
  352. >You wouldn’t let that happen.
  353. >You’d do anything to protect that love.
  354.  
  355. >So, you took a deep breath, steadying yourself, and walked through.
  356.  
  357. --
  358.  
  359. >Be Anon.
  360. >You laid back into your couch and stared at the ceiling of your tiny, one man apartment.
  361. >There was an odd silence in the air as you sat there, watching the fan spin lazily above you.
  362. >About a year or two back, you and your friends would use weekends like this to hang out, maybe settle a few grudge matches in Halo or Smash.
  363. >Instead here you were, having a quiet night with nothing but the internet and a few dozen, cheap cans of beer.
  364. >You thought when you were buying them that you’d call up some of your old pals and see if they could hang out tonight, just like the old days.
  365. >But they couldn’t, or at least not on short notice. They all had fiances, businesses, or other commitments nowadays.
  366. >Unlike you.
  367.  
  368. >Now you sat alone in your apartment, wondering what to do with yourself.
  369. >For the future? You hadn’t a clue.
  370. >For tonight?
  371. >You eyed the array of beer before you.
  372. “Yeah, screw it,” you said, cracking a can open and tipping it back, drinking half in one go.
  373.  
  374. >You really wish you hadn’t drifted away from them.
  375. >Now they were out and starting their lives.
  376. >You?
  377. >You’re finally moved out at least, but it really does feel that part of life passed you by.
  378. >Didn't even get to go to college.
  379.  
  380. >There wasn't much to look forward to nowadays.
  381. >You had a shit job at a warehouse, a run down apartment in the worst part of town, and hardly a dime in your bank account by the end of the month.
  382. >But more than anything, there was nobody to share even the few good times with.
  383.  
  384. >What you’d give to just go back and redo it all—live your own life the second time.
  385. >You miss those days when you were young and dumb and girls just wanted someone to think they were pretty.
  386. >It was hard to meet people as you got older, and women your age expected guys to impress.
  387. >The reality was, the best part of your life passed you by.
  388. >And there was no getting it back.
  389.  
  390. >The weight of that thought settled as you idly played with the next can’s tab.
  391. ”Damn… ”
  392.  
  393. >The doorbell rang, giving you a start.
  394. >Who could that be?
  395. >You furrowed your brow then jumped up and headed to the door, all the while mind racing, trying to think if you ordered anything online lately.
  396. >As you opened the door, you were greeted with the sight of a neatly wrapped, flat package with a pink bow on top.
  397. >On it was a tag that said, For Anon
  398. >Huh… it’s for you so it can’t be a mistake.
  399. >You picked the package up and brought it in, unwrapping it as you walked.
  400. >Inside was a pamphlet, about a few pages in length, telling you about—
  401. >You squinted at the title.
  402. >Yeah, it was for ‘pony waifus' and the front cover had a little mare looking up at you and blushing.
  403. >What the fuck?
  404. >Yeah okay. Funny.
  405. >Looks like someone in the building wanted to play a joke.
  406. >Ass.
  407.  
  408. >The first few pages had pictures of happy couples—Decent looking guys and adorable smiling mares, sitting in their humans laps or walking at their sides.
  409. >Aw...
  410. >To be fair, it was pretty cute. Maybe you can take a few pictures and show it to /mlp/ or something.
  411. >They were particularly good. Nearly photographic levels of detail.
  412. >Whoever made this really went all in…
  413.  
  414. >You flopped back down on your couch and continued leafing through the pamphlet, mostly looking at the pictures next to the text.
  415. >At least until an article caught your eye.
  416. >There was a small section on the cultures of Equestria and how they had more mares than stallions by a ratio of 5:1. Mares were hardworking, kind, and eager to just have a chance with a nice male like you.
  417. >Mares didn’t expect you to pamper them, buy them gifts, or favor them in the relationship.
  418. >They just wanted to be held close and to know someone loved them.
  419. >Mares are the most gentle and loving creatures you’ll ever meet.
  420.  
  421. >You smiled wryly and shook your head.
  422. >Sounds pretty great honestly.
  423. >If this was real, you’d consider it honestly.
  424. “I’d be nice if ponies really did want to grab up a human...”
  425. >You flipped ahead.
  426.  
  427. >’We often hear that it sounds too good to be true, but just think about the mare who needs you. What would she think if she heard you wouldn’t give her a chance?’
  428.  
  429. >...
  430. >Huh. That was oddly well timed.
  431. >You decided to skip this article as a few careless skims told you it was mostly fluff about how great mares are.
  432. “Too long. Didn’t read…”
  433.  
  434. >You turned the page and came to a section filled with bullet points titled, ‘why you want a mare girlfriend’.
  435. >Huh… well that’s short and sweet I guess.
  436. >Fluffy tuft
  437. >Gentle and loving
  438. >Cute little ears and stuff!
  439. >You can comb their tails
  440. >They love belly rubs
  441. >Hoovsies that need holding
  442.  
  443. >You chuckled.
  444. ”I could just get a dog and have that, minus the hoovsies.”
  445.  
  446.  
  447. >Dogs can’t talk and all they want is food—unlike adorable little mares, was the next bullet point.
  448.  
  449. >Heh...
  450. >Wait, what?
  451. >You reread the line again, wondering if your mind had played a trick on you, but no, there it was, as if in direct answer.
  452. >Something fucky is going on here.
  453. >But how?
  454. >Couldn’t be…
  455. >Maybe you can test it.
  456.  
  457. >”Well,” you say, drawing the word out. “I’d only consider this if they liked anal.”
  458. >You flipped the page.
  459. >Alright, let’s see you put THAT on the next page.
  460.  
  461. >’S-Some mares even like b-buttstuff.’
  462. >...
  463. >There’s a stutter literally written out on the page—Also pictures of plump horse butts.
  464. >Admittedly these mares had great behinds, but that was beside the point.
  465.  
  466. “How are you doing that?”
  467.  
  468. >You flip the page.
  469. >Generic cute mare pictures with hearts.
  470. >’Mares only want your affection. Please give them a chance.’
  471.  
  472. “If you don’t answer me, I’m going to toss this out and any more that come.”
  473. >Fingers crossed they buy that...
  474.  
  475. >Another page turned.
  476. >’... don’t do that please. This was really short notice and I only enchanted one.’
  477.  
  478. >Your eyes widened and you nearly dropped the pamphlet.
  479. >No fucking way…
  480. >Despite expecting it, being addressed still felt blindsiding.
  481. >You smiled, a spark of excitement rising in you.
  482. >It was magic then, it had to be.
  483. >This was real.
  484. >And that meant ponies were real, right?
  485. >Oh my God, Ponies were real.
  486.  
  487. “A-Are you a pony?”
  488. >You turned the page.
  489.  
  490. >’I’m not supposed to say. I’m actually breaking a lot of rules right now, but I can answer whatever you want to know about our matching. If… you’re actually interested. I saw you laugh at the book so I was trying to make it look as good as I could. Did it look that silly?’
  491.  
  492. >You opened your mouth then paused for a moment.
  493. “It… was a bit hard to believe, if I’m honest.”
  494. >Another page turn.
  495.  
  496. >’But it’s really real! We have a ton of mares that really deserve to be happy. You deserve to be happy too. I’m just trying to help.’
  497.  
  498. >For some reason, you could almost feel the genuineness behind those words.
  499. >Whoever you were talking to, human or pony, they really did believe that.
  500.  
  501. “So how do I get matched?”
  502.  
  503. >’You’re already matched, silly. She doesn’t know who you are yet but she’s already picked out, just for you, based on the Crysta… I mean, based on our methods.’
  504.  
  505. “Who is she? What’s she like?”
  506.  
  507. >’I can’t tell you until you decide to do this for real.’
  508.  
  509. >You furrowed your brow.
  510. “What? Why not? How am I supposed to agree to be with someone if I know nothing about them?”
  511.  
  512. >’Because, Anon, we need you to trust us instead of judging if you think the pony is interesting or pretty enough.
  513. >’There’s so much to a relationship beyond first impressions.’
  514. >’She really is your perfect match, even if it doesn’t seem like it at first for some.’
  515. >’I can’t tell you how we know, but she’s the best mare for you.’
  516. >’Some relationships are rockier than others at first, but they all work out if you try.’
  517.  
  518. >So just like any relationship really, you thought.
  519. >And yeah, prejudgement probably stopped a lot of good relationships on earth.
  520. >Everyone thought they knew what they wanted, but were they right?
  521. >Maybe not.
  522. >Do you even know what your match would look like?
  523. >A few ideas flashed through your mind.
  524. >God, you’re really considering this aren’t you?
  525.  
  526. “Alright well, I’m skeptical, but what happens if I am interested? What’s the catch?”
  527.  
  528. >’Wait… you’re really interested? You believe me? Ohmygosh this is great. It doesn’t cost you anything, but well...’
  529.  
  530. “Well?”
  531.  
  532. >’You do have to do something important. This is a big decision and you shouldn’t take it lightly.’
  533.  
  534. >You nodded to yourself.
  535. “What do I have to do?”
  536.  
  537. ‘You have to give up the life you know.’
  538.  
  539. >You narrowed your eyes at the text.
  540. “Are you going to turn me into a pony?”
  541.  
  542. >’What? No! Why would we need to do that? We’re not some sort of—transmutation bureau. Humans are amazing as they are.’
  543.  
  544. “Then… what’s the issue?”
  545.  
  546. ‘You just… You can’t go back, Anon.’
  547.  
  548. >Your eyes traced over those words several times.
  549. >You can’t go back?
  550. “What do you mean…?”
  551.  
  552. >’I mean you can’t return to Earth after you go to Equestria.
  553. >’It’s a one way trip.’
  554. >’Ponies can travel back and forth for short periods but humans interact with magic in strange ways.’
  555. >’Once you go to Equestria, our magic becomes a part of you.’
  556. >’If you try to come back… well we learned that can have dire consequences for your body.’
  557. >’We haven’t figured out a way to let humans return with us.’
  558.  
  559. >You lay back and let out a long breath.
  560. >It was all or nothing, huh?
  561. “So,” you said, closing your eyes and rubbing your forehead. “I’ll be giving up everything. Forever. Everyone I’ve known and loved just… gone from my life? And I’ll be gone from theirs too.”
  562.  
  563. >‘...yes.’
  564.  
  565. “Anything else I give up?”
  566.  
  567. >‘Well, we’re in talks about some basic automobiles but Equestria isn’t ready for a lot of stuff humans use.’
  568. >’There’s some basic TV, but no internet, smartphones or mp3 players.’
  569. >’You’ll have to leave all your devices behind or donate them to our research teams.’
  570.  
  571. “And I’d never have kids...”
  572.  
  573. >‘I don’t know about that…’
  574.  
  575. >You sit up.
  576. “Wait for real? Humans can mate with ponies?”
  577.  
  578. >‘Well, we’re working on it.’
  579. >’And we’re making headway, but we don’t know yet.’
  580. >’It may not be possible in the end.’
  581. >’You have to be prepared for that too.’
  582.  
  583. >You leaned back and let out a long breath.
  584. >This was a lot to take in.
  585. >Your life on earth wasn’t bad.
  586. >You weren’t that close with your family anymore, but you still had one, and you cared about them.
  587. >And you wouldn’t get to see your friends again either.
  588. >Was it really worth it to give up everything you know for a mare you’ve never met?
  589.  
  590. “Why?” you say aloud and pick the pamphlet up again.
  591.  
  592. ‘Why what?’
  593.  
  594. “Others have done this, right? Why do people do it? Why would they leave everything they know behind just for a chance? It doesn’t make sense to me.”
  595.  
  596. >You turned the page, but it was blank.
  597. >Maybe it isn’t a simple answer, you thought, and waited a while.
  598. >Sure enough, a few minutes later, there was a response for you.
  599.  
  600. ‘Because true love is worth a lifetime.’
  601.  
  602. >You lay the booklet down on your table.
  603. >True love, huh?
  604. >If you had the chance to find the perfect girl on earth, what would you give up to be with her?
  605. >If it meant being happy, everything, right?
  606. >At the end of the day, that’s all anyone wants.
  607. >Everything anyone strives for is in the name of being happy.
  608.  
  609. >And you were, admittedly, tired of being alone.
  610. >You’re tired of nights like this, nights of hollow excuses to drink and reminisce about days gone by.
  611. >It was time to take a step forward again.
  612. >Time to do something for yourself, and try to find your own happiness.
  613. >Even if you fail, or this doesn’t work out, you couldn’t hate yourself for trying.
  614. >And hey, this isn’t even just about you.
  615. >There’s a special mare on the other side who’s hoping to be happy too.
  616. >She deserves the chance.
  617. >Everyone does.
  618.  
  619. >You reached for the pamphlet again.
  620. “I… I think my mind’s made up. Or at least as made up as it could be. Hey, if you’re listening,” you said and paused.
  621. >No going back after this.
  622. >Truth be told it still worried you.
  623. >Would you even like Equestria?
  624. >There were a lot of things on earth you’d miss.
  625. >But nothing worth doing was risk free.
  626. >Sometimes you just have to take the plunge.
  627.  
  628.  “I’ll do it.”
  629. >You turned the page and held your breath.
  630.  
  631. >’I’ll pick you up at sunrise.’
  632.  
  633. >...
  634. >Well that was anticlimactic.
  635. >You were expecting a burst of light or something.
  636.  
  637. “Uh… is that it?”
  638.  
  639. >’Yep. See you then.’
  640.  
  641. “Okay then…”
  642.  
  643. >’You wanted to see something cool, didn’t you?’
  644.  
  645. “N-No.”
  646.  
  647. >’Ha, don’t worry. You’ll see plenty of cool stuff when I open the portal. Just sign on the back and we’ll be set to go.’
  648. >’Oh, and Anon.'
  649.  
  650. “Yes?”
  651.  
  652. >’Thank you. For trusting me and taking the chance, I mean. She’s going to be really happy.’
  653.  
  654. --
  655.  
  656. >Be Monsoon.
  657. >A sliver of morning light crept across your sheets and reached up and over your face, rousing you.
  658. >You groaned, blinking your eyes clear to glare at the light then wiggled under the covers.
  659. >Something clunked into your head and you winced.
  660. “Ow…” you whined and sat up.
  661. >You grabbed the hard object and brought it into view, trying to clear your eyes enough to see what it was.
  662. >The cover read ‘My Big Human: Teamwork is Power volume 10’
  663. >Oh right…
  664. >Memories of last night slowly flooded back to you.
  665. >You came home after dropping your husbando off with his mare, had some cup noodles, and read some MBH in bed because you were feeling a little down.
  666. >The series never failed to put a smile on your face, even if you did stay up way too late reading it sometimes.
  667.  
  668. >My Big Human bounced around between a lot of different eras and regions. One of your favorite characters was Walt Disney, and you loved Samurai with their code of honor.
  669. >This volume had returned to the original group again, six best friends who’d become inseparable in highschool, going through all kinds of challenges together and learning to try and make an name for themselves.
  670. >As of this volume, they were venturing out into the adult world after their college days.
  671. >It was the most popular set of characters and it featured your personal favorite, Anonymous.
  672. >He was just so earnest.
  673. >Every character had their flaws of course, and most of the group had ambitions to become a rockstar or own a big business or make video games.
  674. >Things weren’t looking good for Anon’s parent’s health in this volume and you really hope things are okay.
  675. >Anon wasn’t really prepared for something that serious. All he wanted was to live in the moment and enjoy life.
  676. >Some mares said he was simple minded but those were just Incog fags.
  677. >Nonny fags a best.
  678.  
  679. >You pursed your lips and paused.
  680. >What would a character like Anon be like as a father?
  681. >He’d probably be an amazing husbando; fanon said he was a cuddler.
  682. >A heavy feeling settled in your chest and you sighed.
  683. >You still had a bit of a crush on him since the first volume.
  684. >It wasn’t healthy.
  685. >But still… you couldn’t help it. He was just so… cute.
  686. >Maybe your husbando would be like him?
  687. >That’d be nice.
  688.  
  689. >A yawn stretched your jaw and you lay back, putting a bookmark about where you probably left off, if the small drool spot was any indication.
  690. >A husbando like Anon? That’d be amazing, you thought. Celestia what you’d give for someone like that.
  691. >Ha, that’d be the day… but you could dream.
  692.  
  693. >You stretched, putting the book on your dresser.
  694. >Maybe one day you’ll have a real husbando and this little filly character crush would go away.
  695. >Your eyes drifted over to the empty space beside you.
  696. “It must be nice waking up next to a human.”
  697.  
  698. >A small flicker of desire lit between your legs as you imagined waking up next to him, and you pondered taking care of it.
  699. >It was your day off after all. What’s the harm?
  700. >You reached into your drawer and grabbed your Anon: Wild for Mare book.
  701. >You’d gotten it at a convention years prior to joining the love scouts, and the pages had started to curl at the edges and there were small tears here and there.
  702. >... and maybe some pages were stuck together.
  703. >... for reasons.
  704.  
  705. >You were probably due to get a new book or two but this was a classic to you.
  706. >So many full pages of Anon in underwear or other sexy outfits…
  707. >But more than that, it was such a lovey, passionate book.
  708. >So many liked to make it out as super lewd and slutty but this one had a lot of cuddly scenes and tender moments.
  709. >Those were your favorite.
  710. >But it also had some of the hottest blowjob scenes of any fanbook, so, you know.
  711. >It was just great schlicking material.
  712.  
  713. >As you opened the book and reached down between your legs, something tapped against your bedroom window, making you flinch.
  714.  
  715. >You slammed the book closed and flung it into your closet.
  716. “D-Don’t come in, Mom, I’m changing!”
  717. >...
  718. >The room was quiet.
  719. >You slapped your face into your pillow, your face heating up.
  720. >It was probably just some silly bird, you idiot.
  721. >You’ll just ask him nicely to go away so you can take care of things.
  722.  
  723. >You wiggled out from under the sheets and opened the window, and as soon as you did, a pink flame whipped inside.
  724. >Before you could utter a word, it flashed and changed into a scroll, then dropped onto your face with a soft ‘pap’.
  725. “... Oh. Well, that’s not a bird,” you said as you picked up the scroll.
  726. >The front was bound in Princess Cadence's official seal.
  727.  
  728. >Your eyes widened and your ears went back.
  729. >What could the Princess want with you?
  730. >Wait… you’re not in trouble are you?
  731. >A flicker of panic ran through you and your eyes darted to the magazine.
  732. >It featured humans.
  733. >You worked with humans.
  734. >Oh no…
  735. >You broke the seal and began reading.
  736.  
  737. Dear, Gentle Monsoon.
  738.  
  739. It is with great pleasure that I inform you—
  740.  
  741. >In a burst of pink light, Cadence teleported into your room.
  742. >”MONSOON, I DID IT!” she yelled, eyes bloodshot and wide.
  743.  
  744. >You screamed.
  745. >She screamed back as she picked you up, swinging you around with a smile.
  746.  
  747. “I’m sorry please don’t put me in the dungeon. I won’t touch myself to them anymore,” you said, tears forming at the sides of your eyes.
  748.  
  749. >”That’s right. You won’t ever have to because— wait what?” Cadence looked you over, noting your pumping chest and wide eyes.
  750. >”Monsoon, what’s wrong? You look like a mess right now.”
  751.  
  752. >You steadied your breathing and did your best to calm down, but the irony of her statement wasn’t lost on you.
  753. >Cadence’s mane looked frazzled and damp, like she’d been left outside in a wild weather zone, and her coat was stiff with grime and smelled like exhaust.
  754. >Her eyes remained bloodshot and wide, and she had those little jittery movements like she’d drank one of those human energy drinks that they warned you to stay away from in training.
  755. >Nonetheless, you answered, your mind catching up just enough to let you speak clearly.
  756.  
  757. “You’re not gonna put me in the dungeon?”
  758.  
  759. >”What? Didn’t you read my letter?”
  760.  
  761. >Your response came in a flood.
  762. “I started to but I’m really sleepy still and then you came in and there was yelling and I’m sorry for doing that lewd thing,” you sobbed.
  763.  
  764. >She huffed but gave you and understanding smile.
  765. >”I’m not here to punish you, Monsoon. Every mare masturbates and it’s nothing to be ashamed of, especially with me. I know what’s going on the moment a every mare gets that little tingle.”
  766.  
  767. “Oh, I thought I was going to get—Wait what?”
  768.  
  769. >”Oh, there it is,” she said, magicing up the letter and handing it to you.
  770. >You gave it a look, then glanced at the Princess.
  771. >”Well go on,” she said, making a shooing motion and giving you a look like a parent waiting for their child to open a present.
  772.  
  773. Dear, Gentle Monsoon.
  774.  
  775. It is with great pleasure that I, Princess Mi Amore Cadenza , am able to inform you that we are working on your match as of last night.
  776.  
  777. >You blinked and reread that line.
  778. >No, you had read it right.
  779. “...W-What?” you said, giving Cadence a questioning look.
  780.  
  781. >She made a motion for you to keep reading.
  782.  
  783. I have personally taken to finding and convincing your match to come to Equestria, and I will not rest till this is accomplished.
  784. You’ve waited far too long, but once more I must ask for your patience.
  785. I will keep you updated on this venture, and as soon as I have more news, I will inform you with due haste.
  786.  
  787. >You let the letter drift to the ground and you turned to Cadence.
  788.  
  789. >”Monsoon, I have good news,” she said, beaming at you. “He signed last night. You have a husbando.”
  790.  
  791. >You blinked.
  792. >“W-What?” you said barely above a whisper.
  793.  
  794. >“You,” Cadence said, nuzzling your snout with her own. “Have a match. Congratulations, Monsoon. He’s coming to see you today and I wanted to tell you the good news myself. I just didn’t think it would be this quick, but well, the human world kinda makes me go a bit kooky with all those feelings of despair so I took a few shortcuts. Also an energy drink because I was up all night. It’s fine though because I FEEL GREAT.”
  795.  
  796. >Those words hung in the air.
  797. >You have a match.
  798. >A light tingling feeling bloomed in your center.
  799. >You mind went blank and your mouth dropped.
  800. ”I... have a match? Really?”
  801. >This was really happening.
  802. >Oh Celestia, this was the best news ever.
  803. >Your heart felt like it was beating a million miles a minute.
  804.  
  805. >”Mmhm. Aaannnd, you’ll love who it is.”
  806.  
  807. “OH, thank you Princess Cadence.” You said, rushing over and wrapping her in a hug. She just laughed and hugged you back, not caring for decorum. Both of you were too happy to care.
  808. “What’s his name? Please, I want to know what to call him the moment I see him.”
  809.  
  810. >”Anonymous.”
  811.  
  812. >The smile melted off your face.
  813. “What? He’s not… but he’s a character. Is there someone else with that exact name?”
  814.  
  815. >”Nope,” Cadence said with a chipper smile. “It’s THE Anon, and he’s as real as you or me. It sorta blew my mind too when I found out but yeah, he’s a real person AND he’s your husbando. How crazy is that?”
  816. >She took a few glances around your room, noting all the MBH posters, figurines and shelves lined with books and fan works.
  817. >”Huh. It all makes a bit more sense now.”
  818.  
  819. “So… Anonymous, as in THE Anon from My Big Human, is not only real, but he’s also m-my…”
  820.  
  821. >”Your husbando yes. And he’s already at the Castle waiting for you.”
  822.  
  823. >Ah… h-how incredible.
  824. >Why do your legs feel so wobbly all of a sudden?
  825. >And why is your head spinning?
  826.  
  827. >”Monsoon, you okay?”
  828.  
  829. >The last thing you heard was your body hitting the floorboards.
  830.  
  831. --
  832.  
  833. >Be Anon.
  834. >The landscape glid by outside the train window, giving you a constant, changing panorama of Equestria’s wilderness to occupy yourself with.
  835. >The sun was setting and Equestria was breathtaking under it’s orange glow.
  836. >It rained a little earlier, lending a deeper hue to the rolling hills and pine forests the train cut through, and just over the tops of the trees you could see the dim outlines of mountains in the distance.
  837. >It would be some time since you reached the coast still.
  838. >The constant, clacking and jostle of the train had started to fade into the back of your mind by now, barely keeping you awake even if your head nodded once in a while.
  839.  
  840. >As someone who spent most of their life in one place, traveling was exciting and you always wondered why people had that bleary eyed, haggard look to them at airports.
  841. >You assumed it was jet lag.
  842. >But now, after sitting on your train seat with only the landscape to keep your attention, you felt a mixture of fatigue and a tingly anxiety that made you want to get up and do something.
  843. >You also didn’t get much sleep last night so it could just be that.
  844.  
  845. >Cadence did not actually come at sunrise.
  846. >Instead she snuck into your room and whispered ‘heeey’ loudly next to your bed, poking you with a hoof.
  847. >She’d gotten fidgety and needed a distraction from all the heartache on earth, it seemed.
  848. >You knew from the show that Cadence was a born matchmaker, and a cheery one at that.
  849. >It was hard to imagine exactly what she felt, stuck in a seedy part of your city for hours.
  850. >You frowned.
  851. >Poor girl, you thought.
  852. >And so, you had a restless princess in need of some company and a distraction.
  853.  
  854. >As it turned out, you really didn’t need to do much.
  855. >Cadence was chatty and loved to hear about the human world from you, but things always circled back to you and your mare.
  856. >She’d ask you a lot about what you thought your partner might be like, and when you gave a half hearted guess she’d giggle and squirm like a filly with a secret.
  857.  
  858. >”My gosh, you two will be so cute together! I love it. OH! What do you think about picking her up and putting her in the front of your hoodie?”
  859.  
  860. “Well…” you furrowed your brow, giving her a look. She’d settled herself at the foot of your bed and lounged on her back, looking up at you with a goofy smile. “Is that okay? I mean it’d be warm and really comfortable probably. But isn’t that a little humiliating?”
  861.  
  862. >She squealed squirmed against the sheets. “Ooh it can be, but in the fun way. It’s just that you guys are bigger and some mares like to feel snug.”
  863.  
  864. “Is that how mine likes it?”
  865.  
  866.  
  867. >“Ah ah!” she said, sticking her tongue out. “No hints.”
  868.  
  869. >You wondered if this is what girl sleepovers were like.
  870.  
  871. >Either way. It was amazing just to spend time with a pony, and a princess of all things.
  872. >Kinda felt like a dream, but as the night wore on, it started to feel normal.
  873. >That stunned, starstruck feeling wore off as you started to get a feel for Cadence, and how she moved, what her fur felt like, what sorts of things she liked.
  874. >It started to feel right.
  875. >Ponies and humans could be together, you thought.
  876. >And before you knew it the sun rose.
  877.  
  878. --
  879.  
  880. >Cadence took you to the Crystal Castle first thing.
  881. >And yes, the portal spell she used was in fact super cool, just as she promised.
  882. >She brought you into what looked like the kind of rooms you see in political photo shoots.
  883. >The ones with short coffee tables and a few comfy looking chairs. There were paintings and busts along the walls, as well as windows that let in plenty of light flow into the crystaline interior. >But the room was large enough still so the pony press could cram in and take photos.
  884. >The idea of anxious anchors interviewing Cadence made you smile.
  885. >She probably didn’t act like she had with you but the idea still popped into your head.
  886.  
  887. >It was here that you met Manilla Folder, a… well… Manilla colored mare with square reading classes, who was in charge of your paperwork.
  888. >She had her mane in a ponytail and reminded you of a studious girl you knew back in highschool.
  889.  
  890. >You’ll never forget the way Manilla looked at you.
  891. >It was a kind of strange awestruck wonder she had, mixed with a spark of recognition that made you wonder if somehow, someway, you’d met before.
  892.  
  893. >“You’re… Anon,” she’d said, looking you up and down, mouth slightly ajar.
  894. >Cadence gave her a look you couldn’t quite parse and the mare straightened.
  895. >”Right! Um, I have all your paperwork in order, sir. Is there anything you’d like? Maybe a cupcake or a room to rest in?”
  896.  
  897. >You chuckled.
  898. >With how much was going on right now you’re not sure you could sleep.
  899. >Every fiber in your being was buzzing with a nervous excitement.
  900.  
  901. “I think I’ll pass for now. When do I meet my match?”
  902.  
  903. >Manilla turned to Cadence, who then looked like she just remembered something.
  904. >>”Right! Manilla did you send my letter?” she said, beaming.
  905. >Manilla opened her mouth to answer but was cut off.
  906. >>”Ooh, you know what? Nevermind, I want to tell her myself. Be right back, Anon!”
  907. >In a flash of pink, Cadence was gone, leaving you and Manilla standing awkwardly together.
  908.  
  909. >Though Manilla seemed to be carrying the bulk of that awkwardness.
  910. >”S-So,” she said, drawing circles in the carpet with a hoof. “You’re Anonymous. I’ve read—er—heard a lot about you.”
  911.  
  912. >You quirked an eyebrow at that.
  913. “What have you heard?”
  914.  
  915. >She tensed and cleared her throat.
  916. >”This and that...”
  917. >Manilla stared at you stiff as a board, as if blinking or moving might set you off in some way.
  918.  
  919. >Before you could say any more, a maid wandered in with a feather duster.
  920. >She cleaned quickly, flitting from table to table while humming a small tune to herself, but as her eyes swept across the room and landed on you, the melody died in her throat.
  921. >The duster dropped from her hoof and clattered on the floor.
  922. >>”A-Anon…?” she said, somewhat breathlessly, like you'd been presumed long dead.
  923.  
  924. >Manilla, who had been studying the carpet snapped her gaze up.
  925. >”Featherfall? What are you doing here?”
  926. >It was more an accusation than a question.
  927. >”You had orders to avoid this wing. Didn’t you get my note?”
  928. >Featherfall didn’t say anything at first. Her eyes were locked on you.
  929. >”Featherfall!” Manilla yelled.
  930.  
  931. >>”Wah! Yes! I mean no! I mean, h-how...?”
  932.  
  933. >Manilla cut her off.
  934. >”Anon, could you please excuse us,” she said, then dashed over to the maid, grabbed her by the ear despite the maid’s protests, and pulled her outside, closing the door behind her.
  935.  
  936. >How odd…
  937. >Something was going on here.
  938. >You stepped carefully across the carpet and kneeled next to the wooden door, pressing your ear against it.
  939. >Manilla was talking in a harsh whisper.
  940.  
  941. >“I don’t care if that’s their shift. Feather, you are going to do two things. First you’re going to head over to the east wing where you were supposed to be this whole afternoon. Second, you are not going to speak a word of this to ANYONE. If this gets out we could have a giant mess on our hooves. Do you understand?”
  942. >>”Okay but does he like cuddling like in— Ow ow ow, that’s my ear, Manilla! Okay I’m going!”
  943.  
  944. >Hooves approached the door and you ducked back.
  945. >Manilla opened it to see you sitting innocently on a sofa, staring around the room and playing with your thumbs.
  946. >Neither of you said anything for a while and you wondered idly if she knew.
  947. >Not that you’d learned anything anyways.
  948. >The only thing you’d learned was that they weren’t telling you everything.
  949. >You still trusted Cadence, and you trusted in this whole matching thing—You’d decided that much before you left.
  950. >But there was something extra they weren’t telling you…
  951. >Ponies were skittish, like you were the first human in Equestria.
  952. >But you were told humans had been coming to Equestria for years now.
  953. >Things weren’t adding up...
  954.  
  955. >“S-So, uh,” Manilla said, breaking the silence as she ran a hoof through her hair. “Do you want a room to rest in. Or a cupcake?”
  956. >She forced a smile that looked pained.
  957.  
  958. >You sighed internally.
  959. >There’d be time to sort things out when Cadence got back.
  960. “A cupcake sounds nice, Manilla.”
  961.  
  962. --
  963.  
  964. >Pony cupcakes were better than human cupcakes.
  965. >There was definitely a difference.
  966. >On earth, cupcakes generally came in only a few types because mixes were pretty industrialized.
  967. >Didn’t matter what name was on the label.
  968. >You knew what the cake was like by looking at the shape and outward texture.
  969. >But here they were light, soft, and not nearly as oversweet as they normally were.
  970. >Manilla smiled when she saw how much you enjoyed yours.
  971.  
  972. >”You like it?”
  973.  
  974. “Mmhm. Strawberry is a weakness of mine.”
  975.  
  976. >”Yeah… how about that...” she said, nibbling on her own chocolate cupcake.
  977.  
  978. >After you finished your snack, Manilla seemed to settle down, apparently having just needed a sugar boost.
  979. >The rest of the afternoon, she walked you through some simple paperwork, asking you to sign in places and carefully explaining what you were agreeing to.
  980. >Simple stuff like obeying the law and signing away electronics if you came with any.
  981. >Manilla let you keep your watch at least, though it took a bit of pleading.
  982.  
  983. >”Okay, so now that that’s handled, there’s something important we have to go over,” she said, picking up the stack of papers and tapping the bottoms against the table.
  984. >”Normally we have a husbando stay with us for a few days before he even meets his match, just to keep an eye on him and make sure he’s alright. Then he goes to live with his mare so long as we verify she has everything she needs, and that she’s ready to house and properly care for her husbando.”
  985.  
  986. >You nodded.
  987. >Seems reasonable.
  988.  
  989. >“You are a special case. You won’t be moving in with your waifu, at least in the home she has here. We’ve… determined, that the best course of action is to relocate the both of you somewhere more isolated.”
  990.  
  991. >You quirked an eyebrow at her.
  992. “Why’s that?”
  993.  
  994. >She looked uncomfortable for a moment then straightened in her chair.
  995. >“There would be some distractions. We’re hoping to make it easier on the two of you by just… putting you somewhere nice and quiet, without those distractions.”
  996.  
  997. >Huh…
  998. >Alright.
  999. >So like a honey moon away from the city.
  1000. “So, where are we headed?” you asked.
  1001.  
  1002. >She opened a folder on table and handed you a map.
  1003. >On it you could see a large continent labelled Equestria, as well as the Griffon Kingdom to the North, and the yaks to the south.
  1004. >Manilla pointed a hoof to an island circled in red.
  1005.  
  1006. >”Ku’ulay. Population, 43.”
  1007.  
  1008. --
  1009.  
  1010. >>”Miss, would you like a blanket to cover your husbando?”
  1011. >”Oh, h-he’s not my husbando,” the mare next to you said.
  1012.  
  1013. >You stirred and blinked your eyes clear.
  1014. >The clacking of the train came back into focus as you sat up and looked around.
  1015. >The train car was empty, same as it had been during the day.
  1016. >The windows had been curtained, leaving the train dark save for a few green lights on either side of the aisle.
  1017. >The full moons glow filtered in from your window, giving you a clear image of the Pony sitting next to you and a hostess in a little bowtie, looking at her expectantly.
  1018.  
  1019. >The hostess’ eyes met yours and your seatmate turned around, looking worried.
  1020. >The mare was your guard, Gentle Monsoon.
  1021.  
  1022. >”Anon, I’m so sorry,” Monsoon said, frowning. “I woke you up. I can move to a different seat if you want to stretch out. I don’t mind.”
  1023. >She fidgeted and looked to the side.
  1024.  
  1025. >You sighed.
  1026. >This mare…
  1027.  
  1028. >Monsoon was not your match. She was your guardian while your match was being found.
  1029. >She was cute though… really cute.
  1030. >Monsoon had a dark, grey-blue coat, combined with a mane in a lighter shade of blue.
  1031. >A hot pink highlight flowed along her mane, just off center, and ran from the tips of her bangs to her tail.
  1032. >Her highlight was the same color as her eyes, which caught the light of the moon and seemed to practically glow when she looked up at you from under the hood of her jacket.
  1033. >She was lithe, rather than chubby, and it gave her a kind of agile, athletic look.
  1034. >In a word, you thought she was breathtaking.
  1035. >Even now, with dark circles forming under her eyes and her mane looking like it could use a good brushing, you couldn’t help but notice how beautiful she was.
  1036.  
  1037. >She was a particularly adorable pony, and not just in looks either.
  1038. >In your short time time here, you found yourself getting quite a few strange looks and demure glances.
  1039. >But Monsoon was a whole other level.
  1040. >When you first met her, she was a shaking, stuttering mess of a mare.
  1041. >Thankfully that first meeting was the worst of it, and she settled down after explaining the situation.
  1042. >Poor girl must have been terrified of telling you the bad news.
  1043. >But since you took it in stride, she settled down… kinda.
  1044.  
  1045. >Monsoon would turn to you now and then, open her mouth to say something then meet your eyes and lose her nerve.
  1046. >You could tell she wanted to talk to you.
  1047. >Once or twice now you’d even caught her rehearsing what she was going to say under her breath, and you kept catching her staring every so often.
  1048. >Monsoon seemed to want to be your friend but she had no clue how.
  1049. >Instead she second guessed everything.
  1050.  
  1051. >When you first arrived in the strangely isolated car, Monsoon had scooted to the edge of the seat when you both sat down, leaving a sensible gap between you despite plenty of room.
  1052. >She had fidgeted and had given several furtive glances throughout the ride, always avoiding meeting your eyes, but you could see her in the reflection in the glass out of the corner of your eye and you realized she was staring at you.
  1053. >It happened several times during the ride. She’d just start studying your face with a kind of breathless wonder.
  1054.  
  1055. >Still, despite her awkwardness she was such a sweet pony.
  1056. >When you’d gone to get some catering at the castle, she kept worrying about your meal and eventually went to the kitchen to make sure there were no flowers or hay near your food, and she asked several times if they served meat for humans.
  1057. >They did.
  1058. >Not that you minded one way or the other, you knew what you were getting into when you signed up to go to Equestria, but she came back with an excited smile and a steak just for you.
  1059. >Turns out they had a small supply on hand, and she’d been able to get some.
  1060. >It made you feel a little strange to have her watch you for half the meal but you were starting to get used to her watching you at this point.
  1061.  
  1062. “Monsoon, don’t worry about it,” you said, checking your watch.
  1063. >3am.
  1064. “Have you been awake this whole time?”
  1065.  
  1066. >”N-No. I slept some.”
  1067. >Monsoon straightened and smiled at you.
  1068. >She was lying.
  1069.  
  1070. >You sighed again.
  1071. >She’d have to be coerced into getting rest.
  1072. >Silly mare would work herself sick if she kept this up.
  1073. >You turned to the hostpony.
  1074. “You were offering blankets, right? Could we get two.”
  1075.  
  1076. >>”Oh, I’m terribly sorry,” the hostess said. “We don’t normally run late and have blankets on hand. The Bureau provided two pillows but only one blanket.”
  1077. >The pony turned, the blanket already on her back.
  1078. >It had a design with hearts woven into it.
  1079.  
  1080. “Oh,” you said. “That’s a bit awkward. Monsoon is my guardian. There’s a bit of a mix up with the bureau and my waifu and, well, I don’t have one yet.”
  1081. >You turned to Monsoon who looked uncomfortable having to talk about it, but nodded.
  1082.  
  1083. >The hostess’ smile melted into a frown.
  1084. >>”You don’t have your waifu yet? But I thought…”
  1085. >She looked between the two of you.
  1086.  
  1087. >Monsoon looked like she wanted to crawl into a hole.
  1088. >”Yeah—someone—messed up real bad.”
  1089.  
  1090. “Look, don’t worry about it. The large is fine. We can share,” you said, hoping to diffuse things a bit.
  1091.  
  1092. >The hostess pursed her lips and seemed like she wanted to say something but sighed and offered you the blanket.
  1093. >>“Well, I hope you find your waifu soon, Mr. Anonymous. I’m sure the bureau is working hard to remedy this.”
  1094.  
  1095. “It’s fine. I’m sure she’s worth the wait”
  1096.  
  1097. >The hostess giggled.
  1098. >>“Oh, she’ll be a lucky mare. Maybe it’ll turn out to be me?”
  1099.  
  1100. >Monsoon fluffed up and seemed to gain a bit more courage again.
  1101. >”Please refrain from flirting with him. His match wouldn’t appreciate that.”
  1102.  
  1103. >>“Okay, okay,” the host said, with a placating gesture. “I’ll be awake near the front of the car. Please call if either of you need anything at all,” she said, then turned and walked away, but not before giving you a wink.
  1104.  
  1105. >Huh… flirty but not your type.
  1106.  
  1107. >You stood, unfolded the blanket with a quick whipping motion, then settled it over the both of you.
  1108. >Monsoon, who had been staring daggers at the backside of the hostess, suddenly realized what you were doing and squirmed out of the seat.
  1109. >”Oh! I’ll move if I’m in the way. Sorry sorry…” and said and climbed halfway onto the seat across the isle.
  1110.  
  1111. “Monsoon, where are you going? It’s getting cold and we only have one blanket.”
  1112.  
  1113. >Before you could think about it you bent down and picked her up by her midsection.
  1114. >Her breathing hitched and she let out a whine as you moved her over and placed her back next to you.
  1115. >You paused.
  1116. >Wait… was that okay to do? Just pick her up like a cat?
  1117. >You carefully moved your hands away, wondering if she’d yell at you for manhandling her.
  1118. >But she didn’t yell.
  1119. >Instead, Monsoon leaned closer.
  1120. >It was scarcely more than an inch or two, like she’d lost balance but you saw it.
  1121. >She was breathing heavily and staring up at you with those beautiful pink eyes.
  1122.  
  1123. “Monsoon, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to just pick you up like that.”
  1124.  
  1125. >”S’okay,” she said under her breath. “I just thought you wouldn’t want to sleep with me.”
  1126. >She hesitated and gave the seat across from you a glance.
  1127. >You were starting to learn to read her now.
  1128. >She looked up at you, pressing her lips together, ears back, tail swaying back and forth.
  1129. >It reminded you of a dog watching you eat.
  1130.  
  1131. >The tingle of her fur, where it touched your fingers around her hoodie, still lingered in your mind.
  1132. >There was a slight dampness, probably from walking in the snow earlier and the long day of work, but her coat was silky and delicate.
  1133. >You wonder maybe if things had gone more to plan, you’d be here with your waifu, petting her and learning what she liked.
  1134. >A sharp pang of loneliness surged in your chest.
  1135.  
  1136. “Hey, Monsoon?”
  1137.  
  1138.  
  1139. >”Yeah?”
  1140.  
  1141. “Do ponies like being petted?”
  1142.  
  1143. >She blinked.
  1144. >“Huh?”
  1145.  
  1146. “Well I mean. I was just thinking about my mare, wherever she is. On the night I signed up, Cadence and I spent all night talking. She got all giggly when we talked about cuddling and petting, and I guess it’s been on my mind since then. Do you think she’d like being pet?”
  1147.  
  1148. >”She probably does. Most mares love the feeling of hands,” Monsoon said, adopting a far off look. “They talk about them a lot. I always wanted to know what it felt like myself.”
  1149.  
  1150. >A moment of silence passed before you spoke again.
  1151. “Monsoon, do you want to try it?”
  1152.  
  1153. >Her shot wide and you could see a blush forming on her muzzle.
  1154. >”M-Me? What? Why? I’m just—”
  1155.  
  1156. “I know, you’re my guardian, but maybe just as a love agent? We could think of it as practice. I heard it feels good and I want to know what ponies like.”
  1157.  
  1158. >Monsoon studied your face.
  1159. >There was disbelief lingering in her eyes but all she’d see in you was an honest question.
  1160. >”Really? You’d do that with… me?”
  1161.  
  1162. “If you don’t mind, yeah.”
  1163.  
  1164. >She shifted her weight back and forth and looked down.
  1165. >Monsoon scooted closer to you.
  1166. >”Okay, if that’s what you want. Please be gentle,” she said softly.
  1167.  
  1168. >Your heart skipped a beat and you smiled.
  1169. “I will. I promise.”
  1170. >You carefully reached out towards her.
  1171. >She sat still, eyes watching your hand as it moved toward her head and gently pushed her hood down.
  1172. >You moved your hand below her chin and traced your palm up her cheek.
  1173. >Her eyes glazed over and she drew sharp a breath as you began to pet the side of her face and chin.
  1174. >Monsoon’s eyes drifted closed and she leaned into it, almost looking pained at the sensation of your hand against her.
  1175.  
  1176.  
  1177. >Be Monsoon.
  1178. >As Anon’s hands gently caressed your fur, your heart lept to your throat.
  1179. >Every tactile sensation felt magnified tenfold. It was overwhelming.
  1180. >You realize, you’ve never had someone you trust touch you like this.
  1181. >You’ve been starved of physical affection—you just never realized it until now—and for the first time you were feeling what you’d been missing out on full force.
  1182. >And it was with Anon—your special somepony.
  1183. >The thought was like a thunderclap and you felt your eyes water so you clenched them shut and leaned into his hand.
  1184. >You shouldn’t be this eager.
  1185. >You could have screamed that in your mind over and over and it wouldn't have stopped you.
  1186. >This was a hunger like a need to breath.
  1187. >And it hurt.
  1188. >All of the years alone without anyone who cared for you.
  1189. >All of those nights without a even so much as a small touch, a simple gesture that you were loved.
  1190. >It came crashing down on you as you pushed into his hand, yearning for more.
  1191.  
  1192. >Anon slid your hoodie off and you moved forward to reconnect the second your head popped free.
  1193. >His hands found their way to your back, across your wings.
  1194. >Normally a pegasis would recoil at being touched in such a sensitive place, but you didn’t care.
  1195. >You’d let him touch you anywhere he wanted.
  1196. >His small digits danced along your feathers, making you shiver.
  1197.  
  1198. >“Monsoon?”
  1199. >You looked up at Anon, your heart aching at the sight of him.
  1200. >Celestia you love him so much.
  1201. >“You okay? Does this feel good?”
  1202.  
  1203. >You didn’t want to answer. You just wanted to kiss him but you could feel your fear flare up at the thought.
  1204. ”Yes,” you said breathlessly. “Please keep going.”
  1205.  
  1206. >He smiled at you.
  1207. >Gods, the feeling of making him smile was intoxicating.
  1208. >“Okay. I’m going to keep trying things. Let me know if you want me to stop.”
  1209.  
  1210. >You wanted to tell him never to stop but you bit the words back.
  1211. >One hand transferred to your chest and stomach, rubbing small circles over your front.
  1212. >Your legs were starting to feel weak and they shivered.
  1213. >Against your better judgement, you leaned toward him, head down.
  1214. >He looked surprised, but didn’t say anything, instead pulling you into him and hugging you to his chest as you pushed your muzzle between his collarbone and chin.
  1215. >You felt his hands travel along your coat, exploring you but in a gentle and loving way.
  1216. >Your mind started to feel hazy.
  1217.  
  1218. >You don’t know how long he attended to you.
  1219. >Time flowed differently as he pet you, your eyes feeling heavy, thoughts swimming with how much you loved him.
  1220. >You felt yourself drifting off and you opened your mouth to warn him but all that came out was an exhale.
  1221. >You don’t know if Anon noticed.
  1222. >Your eyes closed, limbs becoming heavy as he held you.
  1223. >As you lay there with him, pain and hunger and desire all swirling in a maelstrom, you wanted more than anything to tell him you loved him.
  1224. >’I love you’ just those simple words burned on your tongue.
  1225. >But you never said it.
  1226.  
  1227. >The last thing you remember was Anon wrapping the two of you in the blanket as you fell asleep in his arms.
  1228.  
  1229. --
  1230.  
  1231. >Be Anon.
  1232. >You awoke the next day with the sun warming your face and the sounds of birds outside your window.
  1233. >The train had stopped some time during the night, which meant you’d reached your destination.
  1234. >The plan was to stop at a small curve in the tracks with the coast a little ways off.
  1235. >There you’d be taking an airship for another day or so to the island.
  1236.  
  1237. >Monsoon lay on your chest, her breathing soft and rhythmic as she slept.
  1238. >It was a kind of surreal moment, watching her chest rise and fall, hearing her mumble a bit in her sleep.
  1239. >You shifted your weight trying to get more comfortable.
  1240. >One of her hindlegs kicked a little and she buried her face deeper into your chest, whining a little in her sleep and grabbing onto your shirt.
  1241. >You sighed and relaxed back.
  1242. >You could wait a few more minutes.
  1243.  
  1244. >The night had been relatively restful despite the circumstances.
  1245. >The train car was first class, and as such had perfectly comfortable benches, but it wasn’t any competition for a real bed.
  1246. >Monsoon hadn’t given you any trouble during the night either.
  1247. >She’d squirmed a bit at first, but slept quietly and comfortably once she went under.
  1248. >If you had to do it again, you don’t think you’d mind sharing a bed with her.
  1249.  
  1250. >Your mind drifted to your match, wherever she was, sleeping alone.
  1251. >All at once the pleasant comfort seemed to evaporate as the realization hit you.
  1252. >Your match...
  1253. >Why did you do that with Monsoon last night?
  1254. >You had a mare out there waiting for you and… well you didn’t CHEAT, but would your match be okay with how intimate it ended up?
  1255. >So why did you do it?
  1256. >The answer was bitter and simple.
  1257. >You’d told yourself it was for practice but deep down you were just lonely and Monsoon was… >Well she was cute—probably the cutest, most precious mare you’d met, but she only agreed because you manipulated her.
  1258. >Monsoon was nice. She’d do anything to help you, and you abused that.
  1259. >You sighed as you looked at the sleeping pony.
  1260. >She looked so innocent.
  1261. >Monsoon hadn’t done anything wrong yet you made her an accomplice.
  1262. >Well, you were here now. Nothing to do but own up to the consequences.
  1263.  
  1264. >After a few minutes, Monsoon fluttered her eyes open and craned her head back, squinting in the morning light.
  1265. >Her mane was a mess and a bit of drool had stuck to her cheek, causing the fur to clump up and flow the wrong way.
  1266. >You giggled despite yourself.
  1267. >The sense of guilt remained but it was hard to feel bad when looking at her.
  1268.  
  1269. >Monsoon’s bleary eyes met yours and she paused, as if not sure what she was looking at.
  1270. >“Anon?” she said in a small voice.
  1271.  
  1272. “Morning, sleepyhead. Sleep well?” you said, giving her a half hearted smile.
  1273.  
  1274. >She stared at you for a moment longer, then the blanket, the bench, the train.
  1275. >You could see the gears turning in her head as she lay there, trying to fit the pieces together.
  1276. >Then, all at once, Monsoon’s eyes widened and she looked back to you.
  1277. >The two of you stared at one another, lost in that moment for a time.
  1278. >There was a strange expression in her eyes you couldn’t quite grasp and it made you wonder about her more than ever before.
  1279. >Was it fear, curiosity, guilt, confusion?
  1280. >Or maybe something different altogether.
  1281. >Neither of you seemed to know for sure, nor did either of you know what to say as you looked at one another, caught in each others gaze.
  1282. >She opened her mouth, hesitated.
  1283. >“Anon, I—”
  1284. >Monsoon’s stomach let out a petulant growl and she blinked.
  1285.  
  1286. “Oh. Hungry?” you asked.
  1287.  
  1288. >Her ears went back and she cleared her throat.
  1289. >”Uh… Y-Yeah. I guess so,” she said, looking to the side as she got off you.
  1290. >Monsoon darted a glance at her stomach then back to you.
  1291. >”We should get breakfast. I’m not much of a chef, but I can do pancakes up at the kitchen car if you’d like?”
  1292.  
  1293. >The image of Monsoon in an apron, swishing her tail behind her as she happily made  breakfast flashed in your mind.
  1294. >No, stop it.
  1295. >She’s not your match.
  1296. “You don’t have to go to that length, Monsoon. I’ll just grab some cereal or something.”
  1297.  
  1298. >She looked taken aback.
  1299. >”Oh, it’s no trouble, really. I can add strawberries on top too! I don't know if they have any but I can look in the forest!”
  1300.  
  1301. “No I just… I don’t think I’m in the mood is all, Monsoon. I just figure we could get an early start,” you said with a shrug.
  1302. “I’m eager to see where we’ll be staying, and the sooner we get settled, the sooner I can talk to Cadence about this matching search. Maybe I can help it along, you know?”
  1303.  
  1304. >Monsoon searched your expression again before deflating a bit.
  1305. >”Right, the match. Yeah. That’s a thing. Heh, when I woke up I wasn’t even thinking about that.”
  1306. >She bopped herself on the head with a hoof and gave you a forced smile.
  1307. “Ahaha. I’m a dumb dumb. Sorry, I forgot for a second. You’re right, we should get going and not keep anyone waiting. Your match is probably, pretty eager...”
  1308.  
  1309. “Yeah…”
  1310. >Your hands tightened into fists.
  1311. “Monsoon, there’s something important we need to talk about.”
  1312.  
  1313. >“Mm?”
  1314.  
  1315. “Last night—what we did. We shouldn’t do that again.”
  1316.  
  1317. >She looked alarmed and opened her mouth to speak but hesitated.
  1318. >”Er. Yeah. I guess if I’m not your match, we shouldn’t be cuddling. S-Sorry, Anon…”
  1319.  
  1320. “It’s not your fault. It’s mine. I won’t let it happen again.”
  1321. >You left it at that as you walked past her.
  1322.  
  1323. --
  1324.  
  1325. >On the southside of Ku’ulay, right where the cliffs overlooked the white sand beaches, the sun rose over a nearly finished, two story home.
  1326. >There was a shipping container with it’s doors swung open on the front lawn.
  1327. >Several massive pieces of furniture spilled out onto premises as workers sorted and hefted them into the home.
  1328.  
  1329. >Higher up the mountain, past the trees and among the bushes, you and your two best friends, Sundown and Jetstream, watched in wonder at the strange things being put inside.
  1330. >You weren’t sure what some of them were called, like the big black box with what looked like netting over one side, and lots and lots of colored string that workers wove through the walls.
  1331. >As the minutes ticked by, Sundown gave another guess.
  1332.  
  1333. >“I think it’s a princess,” she said, nodding to yourself. “S’gotta be.”
  1334.  
  1335. >That was about the third time she guessed princess after rebounding between a banished hero from the north and a new mystic.
  1336. >The banished hero idea was obviously nonsense but… did you need a second mystic?
  1337. >Zalika had her hooves full, but you were helping as best you could.
  1338. >It’d be awhile before you could really help with her duties but your charm craft was improving steadily.
  1339. >Maybe she could teach you more often if she had some real help.
  1340. >As things were now, with all the wild magic flowing out of the Darkwood Mountains, she had her hooves full.
  1341. >But they hadn’t moved in any charms or alchemy equipment.
  1342. >Nothing about the home felt like a mystics hut.
  1343.  
  1344. >So that left a princess, which fit considering the circumstances so far.
  1345. >It had barely been three days since the home had gone up, with portals and large creatures made of glowing stone building everything in that time.
  1346. >The stone creatures had since gone back and only a few materials lay scattered about in piles.
  1347. >Whoever the home was for, it was nearly finished, and in such a short time.
  1348. >However, while the home was nice, it wasn’t a castle.
  1349. >Surely a princess wouldn’t live in a two story vacation home, right?
  1350. >I mean, you heard one princess lived in a town library, but of course that couldn’t be true.
  1351. >They always had castles.
  1352. >No Castle. No princess.
  1353. >So what then?
  1354. >There had to be a hint somewhere in all those strange things.
  1355.  
  1356. >You hummed to yourself as you watched movers take in several oversized chairs.
  1357. >Now that was interesting...
  1358. >A large bed or couch was one thing, but now that you looked, EVERYTHING was larger, from chairs to tables to doors.
  1359. >What sort of creature would need such large things?
  1360. >You suddenly remember a letter your sister had sent you. She mentioned a book series with tall creatures in it and said they were making them real on the continent somehow.
  1361. >Even sent a photo of one.
  1362. >They were… striking.
  1363. >Exotic and charming, perhaps.
  1364.  
  1365. >But there’s no way one was coming all the way here, right?
  1366. >You hummed to yourself, watching the furniture closely.
  1367. >Some ponies moving a dresser lost their grip.
  1368. >A pair of pants, much longer and bigger than any minotaur would use spilled out onto the grass, along with large, oddly shaped shirts, socks and a few pairs of boxers.
  1369. >Your eyes lit up.
  1370. >No way!
  1371. >You couldn’t keep the grin off your face as you watched the workers hastily dust the clothes off and repack them.
  1372. >Jetstream and Sundown didn’t say anything, apparently not having picked up on it among the hustle of the movers.
  1373.  
  1374. >Well well, an exotic male alien on an island with very few males.
  1375. >Things were about to get very interesting.
  1376.  
  1377. >>”It’s definitely not a princess” Jetstream, said, rolling his neck as he sat up. “It’s for a new mystic. There have been far too many magic snaps lately. Too many for Zalika and you to manage alone, right Mist?”
  1378.  
  1379. >You blinked and turned to Jetstream, giving him a reassuring smile.
  1380. ”Maybe.”
  1381.  
  1382. >>”So what do you think? It has to be a mystic. It’s the only thing that makes sense.”
  1383.  
  1384. >You paused, wondering if you should spoil it for them.
  1385. >No, there’d be no fun in that.
  1386. ”I think I have an idea what it might be.”
  1387.  
  1388. >Sundown snorted and gave you a look.
  1389. >“Oh yeah? And what’s your guess, huh?”
  1390.  
  1391. >You shrugged, smiling at Sundowns pouting face.
  1392. “Oh, nothing really. Just make sure to salt your windows at night and you’ll be fine.”
  1393.  
  1394. >She blinked.
  1395. >“What? Why?! I-Is it dangerous? Is it a vampire?!”
  1396.  
  1397. “Doesn’t matter, Sundown. Just do that and you won’t get eaten.”
  1398.  
  1399. >Her eyes shot open.
  1400. >”Eaten? Mist! Mist, what is it!? Hey, you better not be messing with me! MIST!”
  1401. >You snickered as you headed through the brush.
  1402. >Luna have mercy on your soul. You’re so bad.
  1403. >But this sure would be interesting…
  1404. >Your sister would know more about these creatures.
  1405. >Time to send a letter.
  1406.  
  1407. --
  1408.  
  1409. >Be Anon.
  1410. >Breakfast was spent mostly chatting with Red Caboose, your hostpony.
  1411. >Caboose had put in her own form for a husbando a while back, and was pretty enthusiastic about it but felt concerned when you mentioned your situation.
  1412. >You don’t really blame her.
  1413. >If this could happen to you, then maybe her husbando was already here and she didn’t even know it.
  1414. >You also found out from Caboose that the bureau paid her and the train company extra to take just the two of you alone, and to make sure you had plenty of privacy.
  1415. >That raised a lot of questions again.
  1416. >It was hard not to notice Monsoon’s discomfort when that detail came up.
  1417. >Another oddity to add to the list…
  1418. >’What was Cadence up to?’ you wondered.
  1419. >Why would she be keeping something from you?
  1420. >You clasped your hands together tensed your fingers.
  1421. >Did it have anything to do with your match? Did she back out? Is she okay?
  1422. >A million terrible ideas flew through your brain before you bit your lip and cut your thinking short.
  1423. >No. You have to trust her. This is Cadence we’re talking about. She’s a good pony.
  1424. >Still, something was off about all of this, but you couldn’t do anything about it now.
  1425. >Maybe there’d be a chance to find out more later.
  1426.  
  1427. >Breakfast concluded and you said your goodbyes to Caboose, who insisted on a big hug, and you made your way to the airship before twelve.
  1428. >The airship was, well, a blimp.
  1429. >But instead of a trolley car underneath, the bottom was comprised of an entire wooden ship hull, like during the days of pirates.
  1430. >You were disappointed to find that none of the crewmembers had eyepatches or said ‘arr’ but the shear surreal nature of riding a flying ship still made you excited.
  1431.  
  1432. >The captain came out to meet you on the boarding plank.
  1433. >Captain Windswept, as she was called, was a pony with a tight glare, navy blue seaman’s coat, and a kind of no nonsense attitude you’d expect of a seasoned Captain.
  1434. >Monsoon fell right into military mode in front of an officer but you couldn’t help but giggle at a little pony acting so serious.
  1435. >Thankfully she didn’t notice.
  1436. >You don’t know what you’d have done if an adorable horse tried to chew you out.
  1437. >Probably laugh harder.
  1438. >The way she scrunched up her face when she yelled was just too cute.
  1439. >Windswept gave you a simple tour of the ship and told you, without room for argument, not to touch anything or go near the railings, lest you, “be taking a tumble into the drink.”
  1440. >At the time, you were about at the height of two story building and she explained they’d be keeping it low because there were wingless aboard.
  1441.  
  1442. >You got settled in after she showed you your room, this time with separate cots.
  1443. >Monsoon looked oddly disappointed but didn’t say anything.
  1444. >You wouldn't have guessed her to be picky, especially with how well she slept on your lap.
  1445. >You on the other hand liked it.
  1446. >Cots were plenty comfy, and it made things feel more adventurous, like a sleepover but with pirates.
  1447.  
  1448. >Monsoon sat on the edge of her cot and fidgeted, giving you a glance now and then as if she wanted to say something but couldn’t find the words.
  1449. >You weren’t sure what to say either.
  1450. >Honestly you still felt pretty terrible yourself.
  1451. >But Monsoon looked worse.
  1452. >You sighed and closed your eyes.
  1453. >Seeing as this was your fault in the first place, it was only right you try to cheer her up.
  1454. >Even if you didn’t feel any better.
  1455.  
  1456. “Hey, Monsoon, let’s head out on the deck. Maybe we can see how they sail one of these things? And I bet one of those mares has a good sailing story. I wonder if they have like—air monsters instead of sea monsters.”
  1457. >You got up from your bed and towards the door, motioning for her to follow.
  1458.  
  1459. >”Oh um, I… I dunno,” she said. “I’ve been on a flying ship a few times and it’s not really my thing. I think I’ll stay inside.”
  1460.  
  1461. >Really? A flying pirate ship is just whatever to her?
  1462. “Uh, you sure?”
  1463.  
  1464. >She hesitated for a moment then nodded.
  1465. >”Yeah, it’s fine. I’m just not feeling great and would get in the way. You have fun, Anon.”
  1466.  
  1467. >Well there goes that idea.
  1468. >You glanced to the door, then back to Monsoon.
  1469. >Should you stay with her anyways, or would that look weird?
  1470. >She definitely wasn’t being honest with you for some reason.
  1471. >You could read her well enough to tell at this point.
  1472. >Monsoon was NOT a good liar.
  1473. >Maybe she just wanted some distance and was thinking about this morning still.
  1474. >You let out a breath through your nose.
  1475. >Well if she wants to be alone and spare your feelings that’s fine.
  1476.  
  1477. “Alright, well, maybe join me later? It won’t do you any good to be cooped up all day if you’re not feeling well. Promise you’ll get some fresh air at some point?”
  1478.  
  1479. >A small grin tugged at the sides of her lips as she drew a circle in the floor with her hoof.
  1480. >”Yeah, I promise. I have to keep an eye on you anyways. Keep you out of trouble.”
  1481.  
  1482. “Hey, I haven’t given you any trouble.”
  1483. >Yet...
  1484.  
  1485. >”Uh, I mean,” she said, blushing. “Not that I think you would. I just have to be safe, you know?”
  1486.  
  1487. “Fine Fine,” you said, waving her off. “Hey, I’ll see you later, okay?”
  1488.  
  1489. >”O-Okay.”
  1490.  
  1491. >You smiled and headed out the door.
  1492. >God, that mare was cute.
  1493. >Hopefully she’ll be fine after some time to herself.
  1494.  
  1495. >You headed on deck and were hit with the glare of the sun the moment you stepped outside.
  1496. >The ship cruised along lazily as mares moved around deck, busying themselves with sailing things you really couldn’t make heads or tails of.
  1497. >Several turned to you, stopping what they were doing and giving you curious looks.
  1498. >...
  1499. “Do I have something on my face?”
  1500.  
  1501. >>”So are you like a royal escort or do humans actually think ponies are cute?” one of the ponies yelled, somewhere in the back of the group.
  1502. >The group gave her a glare as several hissed their disapproval.
  1503. >>>”Shut up, bombshell!”
  1504. >>>”He’s gonna think we’re weird.”
  1505. >The mare blushed and glowered back.
  1506. >>”What? Capn didn’t say we couldn’t ask questions!”
  1507.  
  1508. >You laughed, catching the mares’ attention again.
  1509. “I’m actually here to find a wife.”
  1510. >The mares’ eyes widened and they exchanged looks.
  1511. “And ponies are adorable.”
  1512.  
  1513. >The whole ship was quiet, only the creaking of the bow and the whistling wind filling your ears.
  1514. >>“So would you fuck a pony?”
  1515. >The ship exploded in yelling and exasperated groans.
  1516.  
  1517. >This was the start of a very interesting day of sailing.
  1518.  
  1519. >As it turned out, the ship’s crew was mostly mares, and they loved having someone male to talk to for once.
  1520. >It made sense that Cadence was snatching up males from earth.
  1521. >There were just so few stallions, even on a sailing ship.
  1522. >And you really felt that.
  1523. >The mares, for lack of a better word, were… competitive.
  1524. >It was a little like how a group of guys will surround the only girl at a party.
  1525. >They seemed to pay you a lot of attention, listening to any questions you had and eagerly teaching you about the ship or how sailing worked.
  1526. >Even if that meant jumping in on another mares explanations or sharing a story about some of their adventures along the Zebrican Coast.
  1527. >This caused the mares being cut off to try even more aggressive techniques at grabbing your attention.
  1528. >You were able to keep them at least partly under control if you were the one telling the stories though.
  1529. >They seemed to hang on every word as you told them about your friends back home, and what life was like on earth.
  1530. >You told them about cars and planes and the internet, half of which rolled their eyes and called fanciful seamares tales, but others would pipe up and insist they believe you.
  1531. >It was kinda cute, but the mares could be a bit overbearing when you had more than five at a time surrounding you, and the captain had to yell at the mares to head back to their posts more than once that day.
  1532. >Still, the socialization made the time fly by, and it was a lot of fun to get to know the sailor mares, and they had fun too.
  1533.  
  1534. >You couldn’t say the same for Monsoon.
  1535. >She came out around lunch time and wasn’t able to get a word in, much less get near you for a while.
  1536. >Monsoon’s feathers ruffled as she paced along the deck, waving to you, trying to get your attention.
  1537. >Once you realized she was waiting, you excused yourself and came right over, with only a little bit of resistance and ribbing from the mare you were talking to.
  1538. >Monsoon visibly relaxed once you broke away and gave you a tentative smile.
  1539.  
  1540. “Hey, Monsoon. How you feeling?”
  1541.  
  1542. >”Oh, um, good. Uh, who was that mare you were talking to?” she said, peering around you.
  1543. >You couldn’t help but notice her putting a wing around your legs.
  1544.  
  1545. “The yellow mare?” you said, pointing a finger.
  1546. >The mare waved and gave you a wink.
  1547. >Monsoon scrunched her muzzle and glared back.
  1548. >“That’s Salty Shores. She was telling me about one of their trips down to the devils crown. It sounds really crazy. They have these things called drakes down there. It’s like a dragon but no fire, so I guess that counts as an air monster, right? Oh and you should hear about the island we’re heading to. There used to be artificer who made all these crazy… uh, Monsoon? You listening?”
  1549.  
  1550. >Monsoon flared out her tuft and fluffed up her feathers, eyes never leaving Salty Shores.
  1551. >“I’m sure she’s told you lots of things…”
  1552.  
  1553. >You quirked a brow at her.
  1554. “Monsoon, are you okay?”
  1555.  
  1556. >She blinked and looked up at you, as if startled out of a trance.
  1557. >“Oh, yes I’m doing great! I just came to see if you wanted to have lunch with me. I flew down and caught a fish just for you.”
  1558. >Her chest puffed out a little at that.
  1559. >“I can catch another anytime you want more. Just ask.”
  1560.  
  1561. “Oh, that’s awesome of you, Monsoon, thanks.”
  1562.  
  1563. >She smiled and her tail wagged behind her.
  1564. >“Come on. It’s all prepared and everything. I have our plates set up in the galley.”
  1565.  
  1566. “Lead the way,” you said gesturing ahead of you.
  1567.  
  1568. >After a short trip below deck you settled down for a meal at a long table across from Monsoon, who looked happy as ever, nibbling away at her own flowerfilled sandwich.
  1569. >There were a few mares around, but for the most part, you had a good set of table to yourself.
  1570. >Which was good, because you had to push the bench out quite a ways to even fit.
  1571. >You wonder if this was going to be an issue with everything being pony sized.
  1572. >At least your cots were big.
  1573. >In any case, it felt nice to see Monsoon again.
  1574. >You’d been keeping yourself busy, but you still worried about her.
  1575. >She’d been somewhat withdrawn since your talk this morning but seeing her bouncing bac now felt reassuring.
  1576.  
  1577. >But it wasn’t perfect.
  1578. >Neither of you talked about the night on the train that day, yet at times, between the smalltalk, it felt like it was hanging in the air between you still.
  1579. >Every time your eyes met, the feeling seemed to be there, something you couldn’t exactly put into words but you felt whenever she was nearby.
  1580. >She made you feel calm—pleasant perhaps—as if just being close, Monsoon gave you strength.
  1581. >When you looked her soft coat, and those cute, hot pink eyes… you couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to hold her again.
  1582. >It was a thought that just kept coming, no matter how much you tried to bury it.
  1583. >And that scared you.
  1584. >You think maybe Monsoon was scared too.
  1585. >She would hesitate or trip over her words, and had a terrible time looking you in the eye sometimes.
  1586. >It was awkward of course but you could see how much it meant to her just to have someone to talk to.
  1587. >Maybe it would just take some time.
  1588.  
  1589. >Eventually the meal was finished and you ran out of easy topics for a while so you decided to head ondeck again and hear more about flying serpents.
  1590. >Real or not, those mares knew how to spin a tale.
  1591. >You wonder if that came from a lot of time with nothing to do.
  1592. >Oh, they would lose their minds if you had a guitar you could play for them.
  1593.  
  1594. ”Well,” you said, standing from the table and stretching. “I’m going to head topside then. Thanks for the meal, Monsoon.”
  1595.  
  1596. >Monsoon’s eyes widened a fraction.
  1597. >”Oh um, the one was enough? I can get you something else if you want. Maybe I can look for some fruit you’d like?”
  1598.  
  1599. “Nah, I’m full. A whole fish and some veggies is more than enough until dinner.”
  1600.  
  1601. >”You sure?”
  1602.  
  1603. “Yeah. Besides, I want to hear more about this artificer who lived on the island. He supposedly made a lot of crazy magic stuff in secret, and he got exiled to Ku’ulay for it. Cool huh? Oh and Gusty and Greenhorn wanted to teach me how to play Nine Mares Moris. You’d like them. They’re pretty rowdy, but I think you’d get along.”
  1604.  
  1605. >She deflated, looking down at her plate and pushing a pea around with a spoon.
  1606. >”You’re really eager to get back to them, huh?”
  1607.  
  1608. >You shrugged.
  1609. “Well yeah, I guess. I mean they’re rowdy pirate ponies. When else am I going to get to hang with people like that? It’s like I’m living in a story book.”
  1610.  
  1611. >Monsoon froze for a half second.
  1612. >”Aheh… I suppose, yeah.”
  1613. >There was a pregnant pause as she cleared her throat and gave you a quick glance.
  1614.  
  1615. “Why don’t you come along?”
  1616.  
  1617. >Monsoon bit her lip.
  1618. >”Er, how about we go back to the cabin instead?”
  1619.  
  1620. “What? Why?” you said and gave her a sideways look.
  1621.  
  1622. >”Uhh… well…”
  1623.  
  1624. >Be Monsoon.
  1625. >You hate this.
  1626. >You hate this so much.
  1627. >There had to be something you could use to get him away from those mares.
  1628. >They were giving so many courting signals and it made your blood boil.
  1629. >But what were you supposed to do?
  1630. >You can’t just tell Anon to stop talking to other mares.
  1631. >Maybe you could say you were afraid for his safety?
  1632. >But then he’d think you’re controlling and wouldn’t let him have any fun.
  1633. >He was really enjoying himself.
  1634. >Even if he listened, wouldn’t that be selfish of you?
  1635. >... locking him away and being possessive?
  1636.  
  1637. >Agh, if you’d just been honest in the first place, you wouldn’t be having this problem.
  1638. >You could simply tell him you didn’t like how those mares were acting.
  1639. >Or that you wanted to spend some time alone together.
  1640. >It’d be that simple.
  1641. >He might tease you a little but he’d listen if he thought it was important to you.
  1642.  
  1643. >But you weren’t his match. At least not as far as he was concerned.
  1644. >You had no right to feel jealous or possessive.
  1645. >You were just an awkward little guardmare he was nice to.
  1646. >A sigh left you before you could pull it back.
  1647. >There wasn’t really an option for you here.
  1648. >But at the very least, you could keep an eye on him.
  1649. >Keep him safe and make sure none of those mares tried anything.
  1650.  
  1651. “Actually, Anon,” you said, getting up from the table. “Is it okay if I go with you? That sounds like it could be fun.”
  1652. >It wasn’t going to be fun.
  1653. >It was going to be torture to watch them fawning over him.
  1654. >But if you went back in your cabin alone, knowing they were out there with your Anon...
  1655. >You could feel your feathers ruffling just thinking about it.
  1656.  
  1657. >He smiled and tousled your mane, breaking you from your thoughts.
  1658. >Don’t lean into it. Don’t lean into it.
  1659. >It’s too obvious!
  1660. >It just feels so—
  1661. >You pushed your head into his hand.
  1662. >Why are you like this!
  1663. >As his hand came away you suppressed a whine.
  1664. >Nooo… more!
  1665.  
  1666. >”Awesome. Glad to spend some time with you, Monsoon,” he said and got up from the table, heading to the deck hatch.
  1667. >You followed close behind, trying to shake the desire for physical contact out of your mind.
  1668. >This was going to be a long afternoon.
  1669. >But at least Anon was having fun.
  1670. >Even if it hurt a little, you liked to see him happy.
  1671.  
  1672. --
  1673.  
  1674. >Be Anon.
  1675. >Eventually the day wound down, and the crew said their farewells for the night as they headed to their posts, getting ready for the night shifts.
  1676. >Monsoon followed you the galley for a simple veggie stew dinner, but barely touched her food.
  1677. >She fidgeted in her seat until finally excusing herself and headed back to your rooms.
  1678. >You decided not to bother her about it. She’d had a long day.
  1679. >Monsoon had shown once again how shy she could be around strangers.
  1680. >She’d barely said a word to any of them, but she put her an effort and happily played a few games and listened in on the stories of adventure and grandere.
  1681. >But you could tell on some level that her heart wasn’t in it.
  1682. >There was no wonder or curiosity in her. She just kept to your lap or you side and watched.
  1683. >You’d hoped to spend time with her as a friend but in the end she seemed like she was doing her job—being a bodyguard.
  1684. >That left you feeling deeply disappointed, you realized.
  1685. >You sighed as you put your spoon down next to your empty bowl.
  1686. >Were you expecting something else?
  1687.  
  1688. >Your thoughts drifted back to your friends back on earth.
  1689. >What were they doing right now?
  1690. >Had anybody even noticed you were gone?
  1691. >You knew the answer deep down.
  1692. >Your work would notice but they’d just fire you remotely after a few days.
  1693. >You barely talked to your family since you moved out.
  1694. >And your friends?
  1695. >They had their own lives, and you weren’t a part of that.
  1696. >And even if you’d made friends on the ship, they had sailing to do elsewhere.
  1697. >They’d leave you too.
  1698. >The only person who’d been by your side so far had been...
  1699. >Your gaze drifted over to space across from you, her bowl still full with cheap stew.
  1700. >You got up, returning your bowl to the cooking area and headed back to your room.
  1701.  
  1702. --
  1703.  
  1704. >The room was dark.
  1705. >Only the faint moonlight filtering in from the porthole let you find your way to your cot.
  1706. >Monsoon had already laid down facing the wall, and wrapped herself in a sheet.
  1707. >She stiffened when you came in, still awake apparently, but didn’t say anything.
  1708. >You wanted to talk to her.
  1709. >What would you even say though?
  1710. >You headed over to your cot slowly, on some level hoping she’d say something.
  1711. >You kept forcing her. She was too nice to tell you no to your face.
  1712. >She was tired. She already gave you plenty of her time today.
  1713. >Just go to bed and don’t bother her.
  1714. >Tomorrow would be a big day.
  1715. >You let out a long breath, stripped down, and slid into bed.
  1716.  
  1717. >Be Monsoon.
  1718. >A shuddering breath left you as you squeezed your thighs together.
  1719. >Celestia, why’d he have to come in right then.
  1720. >And why’d he have to strip down!
  1721. >You shoved your face into your pillow and moaned.
  1722. >It has been nearly a week since you masterbated for crying out loud!
  1723. >It’d just been mission after mission and then Cadence interrupted you that one morning and now you can’t seem to get enough privacy.
  1724. >Stupid stupid stupid.
  1725. >You could have done it during the day when Anon was on deck but when you heard those mares laughing and flirting with him you had to at least keep an eye on them.
  1726. >Damned thirsty mares. He was YOURS.
  1727. >Y-You just haven’t gotten around to telling him that yet...
  1728. >It’s just that… if you did it now he’d just be disappointed.
  1729. >Or maybe mad.
  1730. >If he hated you for it, you wouldn’t blame him.
  1731.  
  1732. >But in the meantime, here you were, nearly caught with your hoof in your marebits by your crush, and praying to Cadence that he doesn't smell that musk.
  1733. >Humans had a bad sense of smell but Celestia above he had to of picked up something by now.
  1734. >You bit your lip, looking over your shoulder at him.
  1735. >He was wrapped in covers, facing away from you but you could see that he had discarded everything but his boxers next to his cot.
  1736. >Your gaze froze on his clothes and your heart skipped a beat.
  1737. >Something about seeing all that covering just… discarded like that.
  1738. >Ohh sweet mare in the moon.
  1739. >From the books, every mare knew most humans stripped down to sleep, and you’d even went to confirm if it was true or not on your missions.
  1740. >But this was Anon!
  1741. >And you were next to him.
  1742. >And that sheet was so thin.
  1743. >He was practically naked under there!
  1744.  
  1745. >You swallowed.
  1746. >What would if feel like snuggling up to him, feeling that soft, smooth skin against your fur?
  1747. >He might get excited, and you’d feel his member poking into your rear.
  1748. >You could grind into it—feel the heat of him against your marehood.
  1749. ”Anon?” you’d say. “If you need me to take care of that, I don’t mind.”
  1750. >And he’d answer—
  1751.  
  1752. >”Monsoon, are you okay? You’re breathing kinda heavy.”
  1753.  
  1754. “Huh?”
  1755. >You’re back in your own bunk.
  1756. >Anon is staring at you, concern in his eyes.
  1757. >Realization slowly dawns on you and your pupils shrink to pinpricks.
  1758. >What on earth is wrong with you!?
  1759. “Y-Yes! Sorry! I’m fine,” you answer quickly before burying your face into your pillow and holding in a scream.
  1760.  
  1761. >”Okay. Just checking that you’re alright.”
  1762.  
  1763. “Oh, um. Thank you,” you say, picking your head up. “I’m just… b-breathing in that fresh sea air, you know?”
  1764.  
  1765. >”Huh,” he said, turning over to you. “Is that what that smell is?”
  1766.  
  1767. >AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
  1768. >You force out an awkward, pained laugh.
  1769. “Yeah… ocean smell.”
  1770.  
  1771. >You heard him breathe through his nose.
  1772. >”Smells nice. Kinda vanilla-y.”
  1773.  
  1774. >Oh…
  1775. >He likes how you smell.
  1776. >W-Well then.
  1777. >Your wings stiffened, tenting the blanket.
  1778. >No, stop it wings!
  1779. >Anon is not a pervert like you.
  1780. >Just go to sleep already and forget about it.
  1781. >You groaned and adjust your pillow, trying to get yourself comfortable in your cot.
  1782. >After counting to one hundred and thinking about puppies, your wings stop tensing and you felt the heat in your cheeks dissipate.
  1783. >You were going to have to clean this cot somehow.
  1784.  
  1785. >With your sexual tension gone, your thoughts drift to the days events.
  1786. >Anon paid most of his attention to the other mares.
  1787. >You can barely hold a conversation with him.
  1788. >You’ve made progress, granted.
  1789. >The first time you met him you could barely breathe, let alone hold a conversation.
  1790. >And you talked to him at least a few times today.
  1791. >That was good, right?
  1792. >And he tried to include you.
  1793. >That counted for something.
  1794. >But when it came to spending time with him… you were lost.
  1795.  
  1796. >Your ears went back and you pulled the blanket into your chest.
  1797. >You were his match. You KNEW that, but that didn’t change what you saw.
  1798. >Maybe you weren’t his type somehow?
  1799. >You wracked your brain, trying to remember something from the books that would help.
  1800. >He dated a tomboy in highschool one time.
  1801. >And then there was the blonde nerdy one.
  1802. >You looked up at a strand of your dark mane and blew a strip out of your face with a frown.
  1803. >Nothing like your dark mane...
  1804. >Maybe you could order some dyes?
  1805.  
  1806. >“Hey, Monsoon, you awake?”
  1807.  
  1808. >A nervous feeling fluttered up in your center.
  1809. >Don’t say something stupid!
  1810. “Yeah. A-Are you?”
  1811. >You groan internally and slap your face against the pillow.
  1812. >You tried…
  1813.  
  1814. >He snorted, a sort of half laugh that made you breathe a sigh of relief.
  1815. >”Yeah, I’m awake. I was just sorta thinking.”
  1816.  
  1817. >You turn over and face him.
  1818. “About what?”
  1819.  
  1820. >”Well, I guess I’m just thinking of my match.”
  1821.  
  1822. >Your ears perk up.
  1823. “Oh. W-What about her?”
  1824.  
  1825. >”I... shouldn’t say.”
  1826.  
  1827. “No, come on. I want to know.”
  1828.  
  1829. >The room was quiet for a moment.
  1830. >”I was just thinking… what if the reason my match hasn’t been found is because I have no real match?”
  1831.  
  1832. >You jerked upright and stared at him.
  1833. “What?”
  1834.  
  1835. >”What if the whole thing isn’t true? What if Cadence just puts mares with someone she thinks is a good match. Not perfect. Not great. Just good. And their faith in that holds them together?”
  1836.  
  1837. “What? Why would she do that?”
  1838.  
  1839. >”Lie? I don’t know… Maybe she just wants people to be happy so she tells them what they want to hear?”
  1840.  
  1841. “That’s not true!” you said, frowning. “There are so many happy mares because of this! It always works out if people try. It seems too good to be true but it’s real, Anon. Love magic exists and there are perfect matches.”
  1842.  
  1843. >”But then why...”
  1844. >Anon grumbles and gives a shrug.
  1845. >”Maybe I’m being paranoid.”
  1846.  
  1847. “Why?”
  1848.  
  1849. >There’s a pause in the dark again.
  1850. >“Have you ever heard of a match changing?”
  1851.  
  1852. ”A match... changing?”
  1853.  
  1854. >“Yeah. Like what happens if I fall in love with another mare?”
  1855.  
  1856. >A cold chill washes over you.
  1857. >Anon… falling in love with another mare?
  1858. >Could that happen?
  1859. >Images of Anon smiling and playing with the other mares flashed through your mind.
  1860. >Was it one of them?
  1861. >W-was it somepony he met before he saw you?
  1862. >You’re not that pretty or interesting.
  1863. >It would be so easy for another mare to…
  1864. >Your grip on the sheets tightens.
  1865. “D-Do you like someone, Anon?”
  1866.  
  1867. >He doesn’t answer.
  1868. >You can’t expect him to.
  1869. >Telling you as much as he had probably took a lot of courage.
  1870. >That’s more than you say…
  1871.  
  1872. “Anon,” you said, almost pleading with him. “I know it’s hard waiting, but she’s out there. And she wants to be with you—more than anything in the world...”
  1873. >A lump formed in your throat and you felt your eyes mist over.
  1874. “I know after everything that’s happened so far, it’s hard to not have doubts. I’ve seen how men are treated back in your world. Love is practically nonexistant and most humans don’t even believe in it anymore.”
  1875. “They don’t know how to love anymore. If we could take every good person to Equestria we would, but we have to make sure that belief isn’t dead. Sometimes we’re too late. Sometimes the love in them… it just dies, somehow.
  1876. “I understand that coming from that world, this is hard to believe in.
  1877. “And I know it’s not fair to ask, but please don’t lose hope. Keep her in your heart. And I’m sorry you have to go through this.”
  1878.  
  1879. >”...it’s not your fault, Monsoon.”
  1880.  
  1881. >It felt like a lead weight crashed against your chest when he said that.
  1882. “Anon, I…”
  1883.  
  1884. >”Hm?”
  1885.  
  1886. >By now your eyes had adjusted to the dark, and you could see him turn to you.
  1887. >Those beautiful pools of green caught the moonlight of the porthole and suddenly it felt like the floor just dropped out from under you.
  1888. >It was like you were in freefall
  1889. >Your words get caught in your throat.
  1890.  
  1891. >”Monsoon?”
  1892.  
  1893. “I-I’m just… I wanted to say that...”
  1894. >I love you.
  1895. >Anon I love you so much that it makes me go crazy and all I want to do is tell you so we can be happy!
  1896. >I want to save you from all the doubt, all the fear.
  1897. >I want to…
  1898. >A voice whispers in the back of your mind: “He’ll be disappointed.”
  1899. >You open your mouth but nothing comes out.
  1900. >A scream for help, but nobody can hear you.
  1901. >”You’re not his type. You know this,” it says.
  1902. >Tears form at the corners of your eyes.
  1903. “S-She’s,” you say, your voice shakey.
  1904. >”He deserves better. He deserves the best.”
  1905. >He does…
  1906. >You can’t confess.
  1907. >You needed time. You could be the kind of mare he could love. You just need to learn how first.
  1908. “Anon? Please don’t give up. She’s thinking about you, okay?”
  1909. >You’re able to force the words out. It’s all you can bare to say for now.
  1910. >Please wait for me, layered in cowardice.
  1911.  
  1912. >Anon smiled.
  1913. >That smile melted your heart.
  1914. >It made you want to cry and laugh and sing and hide away all at the same time.
  1915. >If only you could be held by him, even just for a little while.
  1916. >The gap between you felt like miles and all you wanted to do was close it as fast as you could.
  1917. >But your legs were heavy, wings like jello, and your heart leaped into your throat at the mere idea.
  1918. >It was only a few feet between you, but it might as well be worlds apart.
  1919. >You didn’t say anything—You didn’t even smile back, and eventually he turned onto his back again.
  1920. >“Thanks Monsoon,” he said after some time, closing his eyes. “You’re really sweet.”
  1921.  
  1922. >A warm feeling washes over you at the compliment, but it’s bittersweet.
  1923. >You’re a failure…
  1924. >You can’t do it—You can’t tell him.
  1925. >But tomorrow, you’d start searching. You could hit the books.
  1926. >The answers had to be there somewhere.
  1927.  
  1928. --
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