Opal's First Night.
Apr 28th, 2013
- You chat up Seafoam and Orchid for what feels like ages, pleasantly surprised to find that they're actually very normal and sociable in spite of having only had each other and Eli for company for months. In a way, Seafoam ended up keeping her word about telling you what Eli likes, though after she and Orchid have given you the run-down about your new provider... your owner, the three of you manage to shift into silly, superficial things and telling jokes. By the time Seafoam starts yawning you're honestly at ease with the situation. If these two can be happy pet ponies and still be this normal and funny, it means you probably can too, even if this body gets the better of you. On the one hand, that's great news and a huge relief. On the other hand, you've got one less argument against the little voice in the back of your head telling you how good it would feel to just jump Eli's bones.
- You suppose that will be your cross to bear for the time being.
- You're not tired in the least, having slept for the latter half of an extremely long car ride, but Seafoam's been yawning more and more frequently and Orchid's head has been drooping lower and lower for the better part of an hour. You're not surprised when they decide to call it a night, though you're quite unsure as to what to do with yourself when they do.
- "So I guess we're sleeping down here tonight, aren't we?" Orchid murmurs out, eyes mostly closed and body largely limp on the couch cushions.
- "I'm sure we could get into Eli's room if we wanted, but we should probably let him rest. Besides, Opal hasn't seen her bed yet." Seafoam replies, substantially more chipper sounding were it not for the mid-sentence yawn.
- "I... I have a bed?" It's not a particularly stunning thing to think, Eli had plenty of time to prepare for your arrival, but when you gave up and accepted being someone's pet you kind of assumed you'd given up any right to possessions of your own. Ultimately "your" bed is still Eli's property the same way you are, you suppose, but it's awfully nice of him to have gone to the trouble. Your new compatriots are staring at you like you've grown another head for what must be the fifth time tonight, though.
- "Of course you do, Opal. Why wouldn't you?" Orchid chirps out, looking vaugley incredulous at your question.
- "N-nevermind, I'm just being weird again. Can I see it?"
- They share a look and a smile at your strange naivete, but otherwise they let it slide without making fun of you. You still can't quite wrap your head around having a bed of your own, and your imagination runs wild for a few seconds as Orchid and Seafoam lead you around a corner into small alcove created by bookshelves and couches...
- To a trio of colorful, basket-shaped plush dog beds on the floor. Okay... maybe you got your hopes up a bit too high. It was a bit much to assume you'd get a mattress or anything specifically human out of this, but you can't help but feel insulted despite sleeping on loose piles of large pillows in the basement you'd been kept in. They waste no time in settling into two of the beds, but it's not until they do that you realize that the beds and blankets are color coded for each of them. Reds and yellows all over the bed Orchid's curling up into, and a blue-and-white wave pattern covers the blanket Seafoam is rearranging with her mouth at the moment.
- The empty one, clearly meant for you, features black and purple over every inch of it, along with a very, very soft looking gray blanket folded neatly in the middle, clearly brand new. You're not sure whether you should feel like you're being patronized here or if the rush of warmth to your cheeks and the strange feeling in your chest should win out and the flattery should take precedence. He took the time to find something that would "suit" you, as part of a clear effort to make you feel welcome... comfortable... wanted. The feeling in your chest is troublesome in its implications, that rush of excitement like getting a valentine's present unexpectedly... with all of the accompanying intent.
- Sure, just like your coat it makes you seem like some goth girl gone mad, but no one's given you a gift of any kind let alone a thoughtful, sincere looking one in years. He can't have known it when he bought these things, but Eli is absolutely wreaking havoc on your emotions right now.
- Orchid's head emerges from under a stunningly red blanket with the same look of amusement and maybe a bit of nostalgia, you realize, and stares at you for a couple of seconds before breaking the silence. "So, do ya like it or what?"
- "I... I really do. He got this just for me?"
- "Honey, you're in for a few more of these surprises soon. He absolutely loves buying us stuff, and you'll be no exception."
- "S-surprises like what?"
- "If I told you they'd hardly be surprises. Relax, little sister, nothing you need to worry about." She teases, before her head retreats back under the blanket with a mumbled "G'night."
- Seafoam, apparently satisfied that the blanket is positioned correctly, picks up where her compatriot left off.
- "I'm glad you like your bed, Opal. If you need anything, you can wake me right up."
- "T-thanks, but I'm sure I'll be fine. Do you guys really sleep with the lights on, though?"
- "Oh, of course not! Watch this." Seafoam extends both forelegs to either side, then swings them both together in rapid succession, and the lights go out at once.
- "He got you guys a clapper thing for the lights?"
- "Yeah! We call it 'the clopper'!"
- "Sounds dirty."
- "Only a little. Goodnight, Opal."
- "Goodnight, Seafoam."
- Aside from some shuffling noises as Seafoam makes herself comfortable, the room is perfectly quiet as you unfold the just- as-soft-as-it-looked blanket and settle onto "your" new bed. It's no surprise that it's as heavenly as a dog bed could ever be, plush and soft and warm, with enough room to spread out a bit, though you follow Orchid's lead in curling up against the elevated ring along the outside and covering yourself with the blanket. You revel in the comfort of it all for longer than you can keep track of, but having slept the day away in Eli's car means that now you're still wide awake and alone with your thoughts.
- Being alone in your own head is historically not the best move, and tonight is no exception. You're too awake and without anything to focus on the nagging sense of anxiety you've been living with crawls back into the fore. There's nothing to worry about! Eli is incredibly, impossibly nice to you! His ponies are funny and friendly and call you "little sister"! There's nothing to be freaking out over so now you're just left with this broad, existential sense of worry about your life. Eventually twitchy restlessness gets the better of you and with care not to wake either of your new friends you slink out of the living room, pausing to figure out that the odd squeaking noises you've been hearing are, in fact, some kind of too-cute snoring coming from Seafoam's bed.
- So here you are, awake in a strange house at... 3:30 in the morning, too wired to sleep and with no idea what to do with yourself in the meantime. You help yourself to a bit of water from a pony-height faucet in the kitchen, another little amenity that Eli has seen fit to bless you with, but beyond that you're at a loss for what to do besides worry about how helpless you are and feel bad about how the world is moving right along without you, because you weren't contributing anything anyway. You end up wandering around, eventually finding a large window with a decent view of the night sky for you to stare out.
- The moon and stars are brilliant tonight, but you're not really taking any of it in, still going around in circles trying to figure out why you're so nervous. You're alone in a big, unfamiliar place and not sure about where your life is headed and you're homesick for places that you'll never be able to go back to... but you've made your peace with all that! So what is so wrong with you that you can't just relax? You've been axiously kneading your forehooves on the floor in front of your, becoming gradually aware of a discomfort not just in the joint you're putting pressure on, but a strange new sensation of pressure.
- Your eyes dart down to your forehooves as the pressure sensation becomes much, much sharper, developing into an unfamiliar pain. Augh, what's going on? It feels like someone's closing a vice on your fingers!
- Wait, fingers?!
- Your anxiety blossoms into a bewildered fear as you realize the sensation is like slamming a car door onto your fingers. All of them, five on each limb, and you can feel each of them! Your eyes can confirm that it's just not the case, though. There on the end of your freakish little forelegs are two useless lumps of whatever fingernails are made of, but you swear you can feel them there, wriggling in a new kind of crushing agony. The cognitive dissonance is getting to be just too much, and you're not ashamed of the low whimpering noises that escape from your muzzle, or the tears that fight their way loose from your eyes.
- Something is wrong. Terribly, painfully wrong. Is it the nanomachines? Did that loony in the mountains screw something up? You'll be like this for hours before you can even get to him! You can't go to a hospital! Oh no, oh no, oh no.
- The sound of a door opening somewhere upstairs calls you out of your painful fugue state, and ginger hoofsteps carry you toward the stairs with a frightened urgency. You don't call out to him, afraid of waking the whole house and having to explain yourself like a child having a bad dream, no matter how serious the situation is. As you begin to ascend you can hear the sounds of water running and realize that Eli must have gone to the bathroom, and the sudden light from that very bathroom door opening makes you duck low to the stairs, as though you've been caught doing something you shouldn't. You shouldn't be afraid of him, you need him!
- Your whimpering betrayed you, though, and a disheveled, half-awake Eli peers into the darkness for a few confused seconds before speaking aloud.
- "Opal, what're you doing up at this hour?"
- It takes a few deep breaths before you can put a sentence together, and there's an ashamed urgency in your voice as you whine out "I'm sorry, I don't mean to be a both-"
- "Opal, what's wrong?" The pain in your voice must have been all he needed, his voice at once perking up to something resembling wakefulness.
- "M-m-my fingers hurt!"
- "Your what?"
- "I know how stupid that sounds and I don't have any but I swear I can feel them and they hurt!" Your voice cracks on that last syllable, you're now full-on crying in front of him, at like four in the morning with ridiculous, impossible pain.
- "It's okay, I believe you" he coos, lifting you off the stairs and carrying you in both arms into his bedroom. You find yourself being rocked back and forth on his lap while he hurriedly dials his phone and curses repeatedly as the calls ring their way through to a voice mail until finally, on the sixth call, someone picks up. There's a familiar, grumpy sounding voice on the other end, and you're more relieved than you ever thought you'd be to hear Zephyr's master, even if it's unintelligible to you. Eli wastes no time on pleasantries, with concern evident to an extreme degree in his voice.
- "Opal is telling me her fingers hurt!"
- What follows is an apparently very long-winded explanation on the other end, with Eli only giving attentive grunts as he listens to what you hope are instructions to fix you. For good friends you wouldn't have expected Eli to sound so terse as he hangs up the phone with "If this doesn't work I'm bringing her to you."
- Eli drops the phone unceremoniously and at once uses that hand to stroke your mane. "Okay sweetie, I'm gonna try something to make it stop, but you've gotta believe that this is all in your head, okay?"
- All he gets is a desperate head shake yes and more desperate little whining noises. Your invisible, nonexistent fingers are still being crushed, you'll agree to anything if it will just go away!
- "Alright Opal, close your eyes for me and keep them shut, okay?"
- You've complied before he even finished the sentence, now only seconds from screaming. It's getting worse! Why is it getting worse?! Eli turns you around to face forward with him and leans you back against his chest. You can feel his arms moving around, but don't dare open your eyes to see what he's doing lest you somehow ruin it.
- "Okay, deep breaths, with me. In and out, slowly. In. Out. In. Out."
- This is stupid! Nevertheless you do as your would-be Master instructs, timing your own breaths to match the rise and fall of his chest against your back.
- "Okay, now think about those fingers. Hold your forelegs up in front and imagine your fingers. Got it?"
- "Alright, now make a fist, and then release it. In and out, just like the breathing, okay?"
- "Alright, honey. Now fist. Now release. Okay?"
- "Please, it hurts..."
- "Now open your eyes."
- When you do, you're shocked to find a pair of human arms in front of you, hands clenching and un-clenching in time with your breathing. For a few seconds it's all you can do to cry and keep breathing with him, but his voice keeps you on task.
- "See, fist open, fist closed. Just like that. Keep going now."
- Eli's carefully positioned hands open and close in perfect time with your shared breathing, and in perfect time with you doing much the same with your imaginary hands. It takes several minutes of this repetition to reduce your pain down to that awkward pressure from before, and then finally to see it gone all together. It takes several minutes after that for you to stop crying into his shoulder while he holds you.
- "Wha.. What was that?"
- "Apparently its happened to a few other ponies before. Phantom limbs, just like an amputee. I'm sorry that it happened to you."
- "Is it gonna happen again?"
- "Maybe. We'll just keep doing that when it does, and I'm told they go away after a little while."
- You offer him the sincerest "Thank you, Master" you've ever said, hugging him with your useless, but pain-free, limbs and turning as if to get off his bed and go back to yours when a pair of arms scoop you back up. You find yourself held against him, big and warm, facing forward as the "little spoon".
- "C-can't I go back d-downstairs?"
- "Nope. What if it happens again? You're staying right here with me, little lady."
- Any further objections you may have had are handily dealt with in the form of an elaborate scalp massage with one hand. The other one is looped around the narrowest point of your waist, holding you tight against him as he curls up around you a bit. He looked afraid earlier, when he didn't know what was causing your pain, and not in the detached way of a person afraid for their property. He was afraid for you. No matter what you'd like to think, he really, really does care and it makes you happy in ways you didn't think were possible. You're uncomfortable with what this means for you, and him, and your life here. You are also very, very comfortable physically, and his body heat and ongoing petting finally lull you to sleep.
- When you finally wake up sometime in the early afternoon you find Orchid snuggled up to your other side, and the small, too- cute squeaking noises coming from behind your big spoon seem to indicate that Seafoam found her way up here as well. They're going to be absolutely brutal with jokes at your expense once you're all awake, but they've got every right to considering it only took you a few hours to end up in his bed for one reason or another. Eli's arms are still wrapped around you, providing warmth and comfort and safety in ways you wouldn't have believed yesterday morning. The last time you woke up in a man's arms you had a panic attack and nearly fled into the woods. This time you cuddle a bit deeper. You won't act like you're totally alright with living here in the long-term for a couple more weeks, just to keep up appearances, maybe get treated extra nice while he still thinks you've got a trump card. In all honesty, though, you know that if you ever go back to the house Zephyr lives in, it'll be because your Master brought you along for a visit.
- From now on, you're Opal. And all things considered that's probably the best way things could have turned out.
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