Thinking Inside the Box [COMF] [RGRE]

Nov 12th, 2019
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  1. > You sit in your rocking chair, nursing a glass of whiskey
  2. > You have a good view of the street from your porch, and of the cardboard box you left by the sidewalk
  3. > You check your preparations one last time
  4. > Alcohol?
  5. > Check
  6. > Bucket of popcorn?
  7. > Check x2 combo
  8. > Box with "Best Pony" written on it in a public area?
  9. > Checkmate atheists
  10. > You settle in to watch the show
  11. > The first victim is Pail Complexion, pulling an empty cart now that her deliveries are done
  12. > The milkmare nods to you and you respond in kind
  13. > She keeps walking until she spies the box
  14. > Pail pauses, glancing at you
  15. > You shrug
  16. > She unhitches herself from the wagon and approaches the box cautiously
  17. > She puts a tentative hoof inside, looking around warily
  18. > When no objection makes itself known, she climbs inside and trots a small circle before laying down, resting her chin on the corner of the box
  19. > You smile at the sight, feeling only a little guilty about what will happen
  20. > You don't have to wait long, Applejack comes down the road hauling the Sugarcube Corner order of apples
  21. > She spots the box, Pail, and the unattended wagon
  22. > She is visibly confused, moving closer
  23. > You know the exact moment the farmpony sees the writing on the box
  24. > Applejack stiffens, unhitching herself from her cart
  25. > As she approaches, Pail looks up and her ears fold back
  26. > Still, she remains in the box
  27. > You raise your glass to her bravery
  28. > Applejack nods to the milkmare
  29. > "Good mornin', Pail."
  30. > Pail gets to her hooves, tail swishing nervously
  31. > "Good morning Applejack. How's the family?"
  32. > Applejack chews a bit on the stalk of wheat in her mouth
  33. > "Good, good. And how's the Mister?"
  34. > "He's doing well, working on a new cheese flavor."
  35. > The two mares stand in silence for some time, eyeing each other
  36. > Finally, Applejack tilts her head
  37. > "You really think it's for you?"
  38. > Pail juts her chest out, her modest tuft prominently on display
  39. > "I certainly fit inside."
  40. > The orange mare rolls her eyes
  41. > "With room to spare. No need to be stubborn, it's plain as day who belongs in there."
  42. > Pail snorts
  43. > "That's rich, coming from you. Why don't you go overwork yourself until your friends save you from yourself again?"
  44. > You rock back, shaking your head in admiration
  45. > Applejack scowls
  46. > "That was only the one time, and it don't have no bearing on right now."
  47. > You grab a handful of popcorn and start munching as a challenger approaches
  48. > Cheerilee crosses the street, her eyebrows raised
  49. > "Why are you two arguing like schoolfillies? It's just a bo-"
  50. > Then she sees the writing
  51. > Applejack nods to her
  52. > "Mornin' Miss Cheerilee. Why don't you see if you can talk some sense into Pail here."
  53. > The teacher sighs
  54. > "Both of you are being ridiculous. What could be more important than guiding and shaping the ponies of tomorrow? Applejack might have a point, being a supporting member of a team of national heroes, b-"
  55. > "Supporting!?"
  56. > Cheerilee eyes her
  57. > "Oh, did I miss the part where you became an alicorn princess?"
  58. > Applejack scrunches hard, the wheat stalk hopelessly mangled by her contorted muzzle
  59. > The teacher turns back to Pail
  60. > "But as for you... considering how many nipples you fondle every day, it's more surprising that you aren't a huge dyke."
  61. > Pail's face is red with anger
  62. > "Me? A dyke? I have a husband, unlike Miss Supporting National Hero and Miss Herd-bait Schoolteacher!"
  63. > Cheerilee scrunches, tail lashing in anger
  64. > "I would have a coltfriend if SOMEPONY didn't clamjam me at every opportunity!"
  65. > A crowd is beginning to gather around the commotion
  66. > You are having the time of your life
  67. > Who needs daytime soap operas when you can have Jerry Springer on your front lawn?
  68. > Applejack turns on Cheerilee
  69. > "Ah ain't leaving some sleazy schoolteacher to take advantage of mah brother's demure and docile nature!"
  70. > Rarity shoves her way through the crowd, like a fabulous, melodramatic shark that has scented scandal in the water
  71. > "Darlings! This is hardly the sort of thing to be airing out in public, let alone in front of a delicate stallion like Anonymous!"
  72. > Applejack takes a deep breath, then spits out her wheat stalk
  73. > "You're right, Rarity. Beggin' your pardon, Anon."
  74. > You wave dismissively
  75. "It's fine."
  76. > Rarity spares a smile for you before turning back to Applejack
  77. > "Now, to the matter at hand. Surely the "best pony", as it were, must be exceptional? And while we are both Elements of Harmony, I'm afraid my other accomplishments far outstrip your own."
  78. > Applejack frowns
  79. > "What are you talking about, Rarity?"
  80. > The fashionista tosses her mane
  81. > "It's quite simple, you inherited a farm and tend it well. Meanwhile, I built a business from the ground up and have expanded into Canterlot itself. There is simply no comparison."
  82. > Applejack grits her teeth
  83. > "Are you saying you work harder than me?"
  84. > Rarity raises her eyebrows
  85. > "Perhaps not harder, but certainly more successfully."
  86. > Applejack winds up for some sort of response, but a deep voice yells above the murmur of the crowd
  87. > "Pail Complexion, you were supposed to be home an hour ago!"
  88. > The ponies part as Bo Vine strides up to his wife
  89. > Pail smiles sheepishly
  90. > "Hello, my dearest."
  91. > Bo snorts
  92. > "What's all this nonse-"
  93. > He looks down at the box,
  94. > Sighs
  95. > And fixes Pail with dry look
  96. > "Really?"
  97. > Pail shrugs helplessly
  98. > "It's just... you know?"
  99. > Bo shakes his head
  100. > "You don't need a box to tell you that. You will always be best pony to me."
  101. > You join in the collective "dawwww"
  102. > Pail steps out of the box and nuzzles her husband
  103. > "Sorry for making you wait. Let's go home, my love."
  104. > You watch her hitch herself to her wagon and head out
  105. > It's a bittersweet feeling, watching the couple trot out of sight
  106. > Perhaps you should settle down, find a mare and make a real connection
  107. > You ponder such things, idly wondering what that whistling sound is
  108. > It's getting louder
  109. > Then the sky floods with a rainbow of colors as somepony breaks the heterosexual barrier
  110. > Rainbow Dash slams into the box, making the whole thing bounce and skid across your lawn
  111. > You stare in shock as she sits up, both she and the box miraculously unharmed
  112. > "Mine!"
  113. > The dam breaks, and the air is filled with angry voices
  114. > The crowd devolves into an all-out brawl as each pony tries to forcefully prove their ascendancy
  115. > Pinkie noisily slurps from a glass of mint julep
  116. > You look to find the mare in her own rocking chair beside yours, a trough of popcorn before her, a confetti shotgun across her lap
  117. > This is no loon
  118. > This is a fully operational gigglestation
  119. > "Hi Nonny! How's your lawn?"
  120. > You blink
  121. "My lawn?"
  122. > You look out at the brawling mass of ponies
  123. > Their hooves are tearing divots in your carefully manicured grass
  124. "My lawn!"
  125. > You march towards the rioting ponies
  126. "Hey! Stop fighting! Can't you discuss this like unreasonable ponies?"
  127. > Bon Bon tumbles out of the melee and glares at you
  128. > "Buck you! You're not a pony, you don't know what it's like!"
  129. > Then she dives back in, catching Spoiled Rich in a headlock and giving her a mean noogie
  130. > You put your hands on your hips and scowl at the problem before you
  131. > You think you can probably take on a few ponies at once, but you know Applejack is in there somewhere, and there's no way you can handle all that and her
  132. > That's why it's something of a relief when Princess Sparkle teleports above the crowd
  134. > "Buck you! You already have a castle, you don't need the box!"
  135. > The crowd murmurs in belligerent agreement
  136. > Twilight frowns
  137. > "WHY WOULD I NEED A B-"
  138. > A hard candy hits her horn with uncanny accuracy
  140. > Classic Bon Bon
  141. > Still, it's pretty clear that the palhoncho won't be able to do anything
  142. > "Um,"
  143. > If the other princesses tried to show up, it's probably spark some sort of uprising
  144. > "Excuse me,"
  145. > Maybe Zecora has some sort of calming potion?
  146. > "EVERYPONY, JUST TAKE TURNS SITTING IN THE BOX! If you want to, that is."
  147. > You are jolted out of your big think, and you stare at Fluttershy
  148. > When did she get here?
  149. > The ponies look around sheepishly, muttering that it's a pretty good idea
  150. > Fluttershy trots over to you as the crowd forms an orderly line
  151. > "Don't think I didn't recognize your handwriting on that box, mister!"
  152. > You lean back
  153. "Okay?"
  154. > She frowns
  155. > "Is watching ponies fight really that fun?"
  156. > You know on an instinctual level the answer you are supposed to say
  157. "No?"
  158. > Close enough
  159. > The yellow pegasus just sighs
  160. > "I still don't understand why you and Discord don't get along, you really are a lot alike."
  161. > You grimace
  162. "It's simple. He's a filthy casual lolrandumb Gary Stu with a huge ego. And he's dumb and smells bad."
  163. > Fluttershy shakes her head in wonder
  164. > "Word for word."
  165. > Then she hits you with a Glare
  166. > "You're going to take responsibility for that box!"
  167. > You tilt your head
  168. "I'm going to marry it?"
  169. > The Glare gets 20% more done with your whimsy
  170. > "You're going to take care of the box, replace it when it gets damaged, and help ponies feel better!"
  171. > You blink
  172. > That... sounds kinda reasonable
  173. > You do feel a little guilty about how strongly the ponies responded to your prank
  174. "Alright, I'll go do that. Thanks for saving my lawn."
  175. > Fluttershy blinks, clearly expecting some more resistance
  176. > "You're welcome?"
  177. > Silly buttermellow, you know when to fold em'
  178. > And when the local kind, gentle mare gets angry, that's a good indication that you should not be playing out this hand
  179. > You smile, wave, then walk towards the box
  180. > Applejack looks up at your approach
  181. > "Mornin', Anon."
  182. > You sit down on the grass
  183. "Morning, Applejack. Sorry about indirectly provoking you into a fight."
  184. > She scratches her cheek
  185. > "Well, Ah reckon writing on a box ain't a crime, but Ah'll accept your apology anyhow."
  186. > You smile
  187. "Cool."
  188. > Yep
  189. > The two of you sit in silence for a bit
  190. > The box seems fine, for all that it was in the middle of a brawl
  191. > You aren't really sure what else you should be doing here
  192. > Applejack clears her throat
  193. > "If you're set on making amends, would you mind...saying Ah'm a good girl?"
  194. > You blink and she blushes
  195. > Adorable
  196. "You're a good girl, Applejack."
  197. > She gets a wiggly smile
  198. > "Thanks, Anon, Ah-"
  199. > You reach under her hat and pet her head
  200. "You work so hard and your apples are delicious. I'm proud of you."
  201. > Her face turns bright red, and you know if you weren't petting her, she'd be hiding her face in embarrassment at all the praise
  202. > Hehe, this is pretty fun
  203. > You spend the rest of Applejack's turn in the box petting and praising her
  204. > She climbs out on shaky hooves, unable to meet your eyes
  205. > Roseluck hops in the box and looks at you eagerly
  206. > You chuckle, turning towards your next victim
  207. ----------------
  208. > The next few days are pretty hectic
  209. > Most of the town drops by at some point, not to mention a handful of visitors
  210. > After a tip from one of the weather ponies, you commission Apple Bloom to make a booth for the box
  211. > Basically, a raised platform with three walls and an overhanging roof
  212. > You modeled it after a bus stop, and it does a similarly good job of keeping the rain out
  213. > As the days go on, something odd starts happening
  214. > First, a stallion brings a pair of cushions, one for the box, one for you to sit on
  215. > Then, Bon Bon or her customers drop by and leave a few candies every once in a while
  216. > One morning you even find some candles arranged around the box and some matches nearby
  217. > You are a little leery of actually lighting them, considering it's a wooden booth and a cardboard box, but if it makes your visitors happy, you let them
  218. > Speaking of, three stallions are approaching
  219. > Time Turner and Mr. Cake fussing over a visibly distraught Caramel
  220. > They nudge him into the box, and Caramel's sobs turn into whimpers as he curls up on the cushion
  221. > You absently stroke his neck, looking at Time Turner inquisitively
  222. > He sighs
  223. > "His marefriend left him for a stallion in Manehattan."
  224. > You grimace, looking down at the sad pony
  225. "That's rough, buddy."
  226. > Caramel just sniffles
  227. > The other stallions sit down on the sidewalk, watching over their friend sympathetically
  228. > You look around, and find a hard candy
  229. "Here, have this, I think it's peaches and cream flavored?"
  230. > Caramel looks at you in despair
  231. > "Her name was Peach Fuzz!"
  232. > Back to sobbing
  233. "Well, crap. Sorry."
  234. > You've never been great at consoling people, and apparently you're worse at consoling ponies
  235. > What did Uncle Nemo always say?
  236. "There's, uh, more than one way to skin a cat."
  237. > Caramel blinks
  238. > "W-what?"
  239. > You frown, trying to remember the platitude
  240. "No, wait, I think it goes, 'If wishes were fishes, not a drop to drink.'"
  241. > Caramel furrows his brow
  242. > "I'm pretty sure that's two sayings put together."
  243. > You growl in frustration
  244. "It's something like that, it's on the tip of my tongue..."
  245. > Caramel waits patiently while your brain percolates
  246. > ...
  247. "There's always a bigger fish."
  248. > Caramel giggles
  249. > "I have no idea what you're trying to say, but thank you."
  250. > You pat him on the withers
  251. "At this point, I'm not sure either. Glad I could cheer you up a bit."
  252. > Caramel smiles, wiping the tears from his face
  253. > "Actually, could I have that candy after all?"
  254. > You raise your eyebrows
  255. "Sure?"
  256. > You hand it to him
  257. > He unwraps it and pops it into his mouth
  258. > Caramel bites down with a crunch
  259. > He seems obscurely pleased about it, for some reason
  260. > Well, whatever floats his boat
  261. > Once he swallows, Caramel resolutely gets to his hooves
  262. > "Thanks guys, I'm feeling a lot better."
  263. > Time Turner smiles
  264. > "What are friends for?"
  265. > Mr. Cake nods
  266. > "It's the least we could do. Why don't we drop by the Corner and I'll get you a double chocolate cupcake?"
  267. > Caramel licks his lips
  268. > "Hard to say no to that. Let's go! You too, Anon!"
  269. > You shake your head regretfully
  270. "Thanks, but I really should keep an eye on things over here, just in case somepony comes by."
  271. > Caramel looks concerned
  272. > "You sure?"
  273. > You scratch your chin
  274. "I mean, I probably could head out, but I'd hate for somepony to show up and have no one to talk to."
  275. > Mr. Cake gives you a half smile and a shake of his head
  276. > "That just leaves you alone with no one to talk to, and that isn't much better."
  277. > You shrug
  278. "I'm used to it, and somepony always comes by sooner or later."
  279. > The baker huffs
  280. > "Suit yourself. I'll have Pinkie drop by later with a cupcake, alright?"
  281. > You chuckle
  282. "That does sound nice, thanks."
  283. > The trio of stallions make their final round of goodbyes, and soon enough it's just you and the faint murmur of ponies in the distance
  284. > You take a moment to breathe in the quiet, then take out your knitting project
  285. > Getting the arm just right has been giving you trouble, so who knows when it will be done
  286. > But when it is, some lucky foal is going to grow up with Trogdor as one of their first stuffed animals, and that makes it worth all the effort
  287. -------------
  288. > You look at the robes, then at Fluttershy
  289. > She smiles nervously while Discord pretzels and pouts behind her
  290. > You scratch your cheek
  291. "Thanks?"
  292. > Fluttershy looks away
  293. > "I just thought, you know, since it's a shrine and all, um. You don't have to if you don't want to, ah, wear it or keep doing this because I said so back then. S-sorry."
  294. > You pick up the clothes
  295. "I don't mind trying it on, it looks neat. And don't worry, I've been enjoying box duty. It's pretty fun."
  296. > She sags in relief
  297. > "Oh good, I didn't want you to feel forced to do all this just because I yelled at you. And, um, can I see how you look in the Neighponiese shrine priest robes? If you don't mind?"
  298. > You shrug, looks like it would easily fit over the clothes you are wearing
  299. "Sure."
  300. > You put on the baggy pants, then the poncho sort of thing with the wide sleeves
  301. > It takes a few tugs to get it to look right, but you think you got it
  302. > You turn towards Fluttershy and spread your arms
  303. "What do you think?"
  304. > Her eyes are wide, pupils dilated
  305. > "A real kannushi!"
  306. > You raise an eyebrow at Discord
  307. > He huffs
  308. > "She wouldn't stop pestering me until I made it for her. Be grateful I didn't curse it or something."
  309. > You nod
  310. "Thanks for that. So, uh, weeb stuff, am I right?"
  311. > Flutterbutter is still in her own world
  312. > You're pretty sure she's still breathing
  313. > Discord rolls his eyes then picks them up off the ground and pops them back in
  314. > "You have no idea. At least it's not a beach episode."
  315. > You chuckle
  316. "There is that."
  317. > Fluttershy still hasn't moved
  318. > You should probably fix that
  319. > You strike a pose, pointing at her
  320. "In the name of the moon I will punish you!"
  321. > That's how it went, right?
  322. > Flutterbutter faints with a goofy smile on her face, nose faintly bleeding
  323. "Huh."
  324. > Discord scowls
  325. > "Yeah, we're done here."
  326. > The two disappear in a puff of smoke
  327. > Well, that happened
  328. > You sit down on your usual cushion
  329. > You could take off the robes, but eh, too much work
  330. > About half an hour later, Lyra strolls by
  331. > She stops when she sees you
  332. > "Hey Anon, h-"
  333. > Her eyes go wide, face flushed
  334. > "Kannushi moe!"
  335. > Maybe you should take off the robes
  336. > Fricking weebs
  337. ------------
  338. > You wake up, unusually cold for a July morning
  339. > When you opened the window last night, it was just to let a cool breeze in, not so that you could see your breath in the morning sunlight
  340. > You roll out of bed and close the window
  341. "Wonder what's up with the weather team? Some kind of event?"
  342. > You shrug, put on some slippers and a bathrobe, and set about your morning
  343. > You pull 6 blankets from the closet, put on several layers of clothing and your coat, and pour some vegetable soup into a thermos
  344. > It's a bit unweildy carrying it all to the shrine, but it's worth it when you are all bundled up and warm on your cushion
  345. > You pass the morning hours in meditation, absently nodding at the occasional pony walking by
  346. > Then it starts hailing
  347. > Above the sound of hailstones hammering on the roof, you hear mad laughter
  348. > "That's right! Flee before me! Soon you shall all be as chilly and unhuggable as I, Cold Snap!"
  349. > You peer out into the storm to find a white pegasus mare flapping in place above the deserted streets
  350. > You frown
  351. > Of all the times for the Elements to be on a diplomatic mission...
  352. > Oh well, might as well see what you can do
  353. "Hi! Wanna talk?"
  354. > Cold Snap must have heard you, she banks and lands in front of your shrine
  355. > "A bull, eh? Feel free to use all your masculine wiles, nothing can stop my wrath!"
  356. > You shrug and pat the cushion in the box
  357. "Have a seat."
  358. > Cold Snap looks at the box, then at you
  359. > "I- I can sit there?"
  360. > You smile
  361. "Of course."
  362. > She blinks, then slowly steps inside, ruffling her wings
  363. > You wait for her to settle down before grabbing the extra blankets and wrapping them around her
  364. > Cold Snap tilts her head
  365. > "What are you doing?"
  366. > You finish tucking her in and give the blankets a pat
  367. "No reason to be colder than you have to be."
  368. > She scoffs
  369. > "I'm always cold. Some blankets aren't going to change that."
  370. > You pat her on the neck, and she is rather cold to the touch
  371. "I have just the thing, just a sec."
  372. > You grab the thermos and unscrew the cap
  373. "Here, drink this. It's vegetable soup, made it this morning."
  374. > Cold Snap scowls
  375. > "That won't fix me either. I've always been cold, no matter what."
  376. > You put the cap back on the thermos
  377. "That sounds rough. Something to do with pegasus magic, I assume?"
  378. > She nods
  379. > "Ever since I was a filly. Nopony wanted to hug me, all the other fillies and colts would just run away from me. And now they are going to pay."
  380. > The sound of hail on the shrine roof intensifies
  381. > You frown
  382. > "Not even family?"
  383. > Cold Snap looks away
  384. > "Dad was always working, so I didn't get to see him that much."
  385. > You wait for her to continue, but she doesn't say anything else
  386. > The realization hits you like a wave
  387. > She had a single parent father
  388. > It's pretty rare in Equestria, most foals are born into herds
  389. > This poor mare
  390. > You scoot over and pull her into a hug
  391. > She squawks in surprise, but the blankets around her keep her from flailing that much
  392. > You pat her reassuringly
  393. "Shh, it's okay."
  394. > Cold Snap slowly relaxes into your embrace, resting her head on your shoulder
  395. > "Aren't you afraid I'm going to freeze you solid?"
  396. > You shake your head minutely
  397. "Nah, you're not a bad pony."
  398. > "You don't know that."
  399. > You stroke her neck
  400. "Sure I do. You're sitting in the box, and the box never lies."
  401. > Cold Snap starts breathing heavily
  402. > The sound of hail softens in the background
  403. > "I- It's just a box! It doesn't know!"
  404. > You nuzzle her neck
  405. "Just because it doesn't know, that doesn't mean it's wrong. You may have made mistakes, and it can be hard to let go of your anger, but I believe that at your heart, you are a good pony. Maybe even the best pony."
  406. > She sniffles
  407. > "Really?"
  408. > You smile, not that she can see it
  409. "Really. There are things only you can do, ponies that only you can reach, and smiles only you can make. You are the best pony at being you, and that is a wonderful thing."
  410. > Cold Snap snakes a forehoof out of her blankets and wipes her nose
  411. > "You sound like a foal's show."
  412. > You shrug
  413. "Wisdom is wisdom wherever it comes from. Feeling better?"
  414. > She sighs
  415. > "Yeah. I missed this. Could we do this again sometime?"
  416. > You ruffle her mane
  417. "Of course. Any time you want to hug or talk, I'll be right here."
  418. > The mare takes a deep breath then pulls out of your embrace
  419. > "Thank you. For everything."
  420. > You nod pleasantly
  421. "Glad I could help. It's what I'm here for."
  422. > Cold Snap gives you a crooked smile
  423. > "Reaching ponies only you can reach?"
  424. > You grin
  425. "Exactly."
  426. > She rubs her face
  427. > "I think I'm going to have to sit in this box a while longer before I can believe all that."
  428. "That's not a bad idea. Take as long as you like."
  429. > Cold Snap nods and settles down to bask in the sun
  430. > You look at her fondly for a moment, then turn your gaze outward
  431. > You see the hailstones have completely melted away, summer having returned to Ponyville
  432. --------------
  433. > It doesn't take long to pick up the groceries that aren't covered by the box shrine offerings
  434. > Even so, you end up hearing quite a few ponies wishing you a happy birthday
  435. > It still kinda surprises you how many ponies you've gotten to know over the handful of months you've been the box shrine attendant
  436. > Of course, when your job is to talk to anypony who drops by, you rack up friendly acquaintances pretty quick
  437. > The thing that surprises you the most however, is just how much you like this job you stumbled into
  438. > The ponies are cute and it's a good feeling when you help them smile
  439. > You shake your head in wonder and place the last of the groceries in the pantry
  440. > You drink a glass of water and set it by the sink
  441. > As you head outside again, you pause
  442. > That's one huge crowd at the shrine
  443. > You stroll over and spot Pinkie Pie out in front with a huge present
  444. > She grins
  445. "Happy birthday!"
  446. > The crowd echoes her and cheers
  447. > You can't help but smile
  448. "Thanks everyone. We having the party here then?"
  449. > Pinkie beams
  450. > "Yuppers! But before that, we need you to open this very special present!"
  451. > You approach the box
  452. > It's about knee height and a yard long and wide
  453. > You wonder if it's a bigger cushion or something
  454. > You tear into the top wrapping paper easily, because there is nothing under it
  455. > The box is just empty
  456. "What?"
  457. > Pinkie grins, her tail wagging in anticipation
  458. > "Keep going!"
  459. > You remove more of the paper, and notice some writing on the inside of the box walls
  460. > You turn it around to read it
  461. > [I'm glad I could confide in you, you have a real talent for calming ponies' troubled hearts. - Mayor Mare]
  462. > There are many more such messages written inside
  463. > You smile at the crowd
  464. "Aw, this is really sweet. Thank you, everyone."
  465. > Ponka is vibrating in impatience
  466. > "Keep going!"
  467. > You raise your eyebrows
  468. "Alright, alright."
  469. > You take off the last of the wrapping paper
  470. > The outside wall facing you is blank, but maybe...
  471. > You rotate the box until you see it
  472. > [Best Human]
  473. > ...
  474. > You suspected from the moment you first opened the present, but it still makes you feel warm inside your chest
  475. > You look at Pinkie
  476. "Mind if I try it out?"
  477. > She is hyperventilating
  478. > "Just dooo ittttttt!"
  479. > You laugh and turn towards the shrine
  480. > You grab your cushion in one hand and put the box in its place, then replace the cushion
  481. > You climb in, doing your best to ignore the expectant gazes of the crowd
  482. > As you settle down, you idly think that the walls would have to be higher if you wanted to really have the cat experience
  483. > You take in the view, the walls covered in thank you notes, the crowd of ponies beaming at you, the trees with their fall foliage, a few high cirrus clouds trailing across a blue sky
  484. > Despite all your flaws and mistakes, despite being from another world and culture, sitting in this box, you know you belong and make a difference here
  485. > You blink rapidly, and wipe the tears from your eyes
  486. "I am best human, aren't I?"
  487. > The crowd cheers
  488. > A little foal waves his stuffed animal dragon
  490. > You have never been more proud of yourself in your entire life
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