Zephyr Part 21

Apr 19th, 2013
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  1. Bratty, violent little shit or no, the filly's gotta eat.
  3. "There's not going to be a good way to feed her, is there?"
  5. "Honestly Zephyr, I think it's going to be a lot like feeding an actual toddler."
  7. "So, food everywhere?"
  9. "Provided she misses us, yes."
  11. Master's apprehension at allowing such a mess to happen in his kitchen doesn't slow him down terribly much. Long, firm strokes along Sunflower's back elicit a tiny groan. As her pretty little eyes flutter open for the second time today, the three of you wait with baited breath for the struggles and anger to begin anew.
  13. Only they don't.
  15. Well, not right away, and not how you'd expect. At first she just seems to push herself against the hand that's petting her without much thought, but when her eyes open the confusion evident on her face worries you. A strange feeling settles into the pit of your stomach as her confusion turns to fright and panic when she sees the band holding her mouth shut as if for the first time.
  17. Her struggles have a harsh edge on them as she tries to remove her makeshift muzzle, but it becomes much worse when Master tries to intervene. The look on her face when he touches her has none of the contempt it did earlier, only animal terror at this giant stranger grabbing at her. Master's grip is firm, but even he seems surprised when the squirming and struggling from before becomes tearful, wild thrashing. A terrible realization lurches into place within your mind as the piercing shrieks of a frightened child penetrate her closed muzzle and fill the room.
  19. "Stop! Put her down!"
  21. "Why?"
  23. "Because she doesn't remember you!"
  25. For perhaps the only time since meeting the man you've well and truly stunned him, his hands instantly, reflexively dropping the tiny little thing onto the couch without so much as an "are you sure?". An ungraceful landing is followed by tiny legs kicking wildly, as though she's trying to escape without righting herself first. Your Master removes himself from the couch at once, and it's with no small amount of trepidation that you realize he expects you to deal with it. Your improving coordination allows you to make a small jump onto the couch before sitting on your haunches, and the sudden motion gives the little filly pause enough to recognize you. You can't make out any words with the band still clamping her mouth shut, but words aren't really that important when she throws herself at you, latching onto your abdomen and cowering in the limited shelter your body offers.
  27. This isn't the monster you're all angry at. As soon as she tried to wrap her forelegs around you soft cooing noises began to spring out of you with a gentleness you weren't quite sure you had. It isn't terribly hard to scoop her up between your forelegs and chest, along with a stream of reassurances that no one is trying to hurt her. Acting so... motherly makes you more than a little uncomfortable, but that's not her fault. For the next few minutes you keep doing what you can for her until the trembling and little sobs stop, until finally you think you can get her to listen to reason.
  29. It takes an inordinate amount of coaxing to convince the little thing that your Master doesn't mean her any harm (any more, at least), and more than a few false starts before she finally lets him remove the rubber band forcing her silence. She still screws her eyes shut and does more than a bit of frightened squirming, but ultimately gives him the time he needs to get at the damn thing and free her. The next moment or two pass in almost complete silence until all three of you are rewarded by a voice devoid of any hatred or ill will.
  31. "Zephyr, what happened? We were talkin' and then I was here."
  33. Ahh... shit. If this is real, and you're dealing with some kind of temporary amnesia or something, telling this "blank slate" the truth would be horrifying. Still, even this... something... like a child is going to need an explanation of what's going on, so you've got to tell her something. Lies are never a good thing, so it's time to default to your old plan B: Carefully worded truth.
  35. "Sunflower, honey, don't be scared" You lead in as gently as you can, "but you're very, very sick right now and we are trying to make you better."
  37. "But I don't feel sick." Those big doe eyes look up at you in even deeper confusion than before.
  39. "It's in your head, sweetie. You started saying terrible things, and tried to hurt us."
  41. It's true enough, you suppose. A look of absolute panicked horror falls over Sunflower's diminutive features and she's already sniffling by the time she speaks.
  43. "B-but I don't remember... I didn't mean it! Please don't be mad!"
  45. "No one is mad at you, Sunflower. We know you don't mean any of it, and we're trying to make it go away forever."
  47. Making it go away, in this context, involves flushing an adult human mind clean out of a mutated body and letting something new develop in it's place. More than anything else you've run into since coming here, this is confusing and troubling on about a dozen levels. Is it the same as killing Charlie?
  49. Should you feel bad about "killing" Charlie?
  51. "You're gonna help me?"
  53. Keeping this sweet thing occupied while she's around isn't going to leave you with time to figure this thing out. You'll need to talk to Master about it before too long though. Even when his answers are self-serving, they're at least well-rationalized enough to be fairly convincing even without the simple fact that his word amounts to law in your life, so his answer is pretty much the only answer.
  55. "Of course we're going to help. We'll figure it out and you'll be all better."
  57. There's a cry of "thank you" from her, but it's muffled by her face digging into your abdomen as she seizes you in another too-small hug. You share a quick look with Master and Autumn while she's got her eyes shut and pressed against your fur, Master's heavy confusion contrasted powerfully by the near-tearful smile on Autumn's face as she realizes that she might get her wish after all. Well, if she's going to be around at least half of the time, you might as well get the ground rules out of the way now.
  59. "Okay Sun, call you tell me who that is?" leveling a hoof squarely at your Master to get your point across.
  61. "I-it's the big scary man you said wouldn't hurt me."
  63. "He's our Master, sweetie. Master feeds us, and this is his house. It's very, very important that you always do as he says, do you understand?"
  65. "Yeah!" She calls back, with a certain proud tone in her voice, as though she was simply pleased to have given a "correct" answer.
  67. "Good, just keep that in mind. Little pet ponies like us need our Master. Now, this over here is-"
  69. "My name's Autumn!" she interrupts, thrilled that he long-awaited playdate may finally have come. "Wanna be friends?"
  71. Autumn, to her credit, gave the little thing an offer she simply couldn't refuse and before too long the two of them are rolling about on the floor in peals of laughter over some very silly game Autumn had invented for them. This is good, and moreover it's the single most heartwarming thing you've ever seen. You can scarcely pry your eyes from the scene in front of you long enough to slip a question along to your Master.
  73. "Do you know what's happening to her?"
  75. "Zephyr, to be perfectly honest, I have absolutely no idea."
  77. Oh. Crap.
  79. The joyous cries coming from the little thing as Autumn, rolled onto her back, balances her on all four hooves is nothing but white noise as that nasty, sinking feeling returns to your stomach.
  81. "Y-you don't know? Look at her, she's a whole different person right now." Your whisper becomes a more agitated hiss than you'd intended, and the look on his face makes it clear that he heard it too.
  83. "I know it's confusing" He leads in with that tone of domineering authority that brings your head low on reflex "But you're never to take that tone with me again. Bad girl."
  85. You've endured it before, but there's no feeling in the world quite as awful as being told you've been bad. Ears pressed flat against your head and eyes screwed shut, you draw your legs in close and bury your face in your forehooves, satisfying an inexplicable drive to curl up as tight as you can and stay that way forever. In your head it's worse than all your breakups and shameful memories, a single monolithic sense of rejection that overrides all other thought to drown you in your misery.
  87. It's everything you can do just to roll back upright, forehooves splayed out in front of you and your head hung low to the couch, looking up at him and holding back your tears long enough to start apologizing. For a second his face is unreadably neutral, and your mental anguish becomes acutely focused on doing something, anything, to let him know how sorry your are.
  89. The hand that tousles your mane is therefore a bit of a surprise, bringing an abrupt halt to your brilliant plan to hop on the floor and literally lick his boot as a gesture of submission. Thank goodness for that, too. You know where those boots have been.
  91. "Just don't do it again, alright?" His voice has those subtle tender notes you've learned to look for, giving you good reason to scoot closer as he continues. "You did a great job calming her down, you know. It's alright to get a bit frustrated with whatever is going on here, but we'll figure it out, so relax."
  93. Obeying his command to relax is much, much easier once you've worked your way onto his lap, facing forward and putting your forehooves around his chest for a little hug. You know it's something he put into you, machine or otherwise, but you still feel awful and desperately need the reassurance that comes when he wraps his arms around you and returns the hug in kind. After a minute or two of listening to him breathe through the light din of Autumn and Sunflower scampering around the house in top form a small chuckle starts the conversation back up.
  95. "Sunflower is gonna be quite a lot of work, y'know. In retrospect taming Opal is gonna look like a breeze."
  97. "Have you heard anything about how she's doing?" There's a little more hope in your voice than you're sure he wants to hear. It'd be inconvenient for him and disappointing to Eli, but you can't help but want your friend back.
  99. "Just a text message that they got home safe, and then a phone call last night."
  101. "A call? About what?"
  103. "A problem that occasionally crops up in new ponies, but he can coach her through it."
  105. "Problem?"
  107. "It's all in her head, she's fine."
  109. "I miss her."
  111. "I know you do. You know, if you hadn't wanted to stay with me Eli probably would have been the one to take you in."
  113. "Really?"
  115. "Yes. He would have been plenty capable of looking after you and he'd definitely appreciate your sense of humor. Among other things."
  117. "Like what?" You prod, at this point unabashedly fishing for compliments.
  119. "Well, for one, that eager little mouth." He flourishes that with an accusatory finger pointed at you while you suppress the most interesting mix of embarrassment and disgust. He could buy you anything on this earth, but no way no how would you do stuff like that for Eli! Ugh, fine, time to one-up him in whatever stupid game this is. It's not terribly hard to surprise him, leaning forward quickly and taking the offending digit in your mouth. In the best facsimile of the real thing you can do, you work slowly back up from the base, flickering your tongue across it as you go, and never once break eye contact. The raise of his eyebrows when you kiss the tip is all you need. Now the ball is in your court as you re-close the distance between you, putting your face, and lips, tantalizingly close to his.
  121. "It's only eager for you. Anyone could put a leash on this collar and think they own me, but you're my Master. One and only."
  123. His smile is every bit as satisfying as you hoped it would be, as his hands rise to either side of your face.
  125. "I really, really fucked you up, didn't I?"
  127. All he gets for that is a lazy "Mhmm" as you press your lips against his, perhaps pushing a bit too far in slipping him the tongue considering that Autumn and Sunflower are still dashing about the house in some kind of "chase" game. He doesn't seem to mind all that much, returning your gesture in kind, and your body is already throwing itself into overdrive. He's into it, you're ready, willing, burning up, waiting-for-weeks-now and ready to blow. There's no good reason this can't end with him flipping you ass over hooves and doing every glorious, depraved kind of thing he can think o-
  129. "Master! Sunflower says she's hungry, can we have lunch now?"
  131. The kiss ended at the first sound of Autumn's voice, and by the time you manage to turn your head with barely contained frustration both of "the kids" are sitting in the doorway with big, doofy smiles. Autumn's look of supreme satisfaction with how her day has turned out is, at this moment, the single most infuriating thing you've ever seen. Goddamnit, you want- no, need some satisfaction for yourself and this. isn't. helping.
  133. "Go settle down in the kitchen, I'll whip something up for us."
  135. There's nothing to do but sigh gustily as they vanish from the doorway, turning back to find your Master gazing at you with a sardonic grin but apologetic eyes. Of course there's a reason that couldn't end the way you wanted it to, there's a child in the house and you were about to start grinding yourself against him on the couch. You're just too horny these days, it's beginning to cloud your judgement even worse than usual. Still, with Autumn being Autumn and this whole big Sunflower deal... you may have to go a while yet pining after someone you spend about nine tenths of any given day around.
  137. If you're gonna jump his bones before going crazy, you'll need help. Autumn's help, specifically, and it'll be difficult enough to get her away from Sunflower long enough to ask.
  139. Right now all your big plans count for nothing, as your one and only sets you onto the floor with a pat on the head. He looks almost as pent up as you right now, but unlike you, he's in control. He huffs for a moment, before offering you a simple "No rest for the wicked." before leading the way towards the kitchen. You're still a little lost in your own head when you enter behind him, but a glance up stops you dead in your tracks. Sunflower, as precious as any living thing could be, tucked carefully in the space between Autumn's resting forelegs and head. You can't really be mad at these two for interrupting, and you've never seen Autumn look so happy, or so focused, since meeting her. You felt strange acting a little motherly earlier, but that's nothing compared to watching Autumn play the part to perfection. It's too strange to fully accept, but too sweet to interrupt, and you honestly spend the duration of your lunch trying to reconcile these new developments.
  141. They don't quite ever seem to reconcile, though. The most terrifying man you've ever met is currently playing surrogate daughter for your mentally unbalanced friend, and no one else seems to grasp the profound weirdness of the moment. Watching her now, Autumn doesn't seem half as nutty as she usually does, and Sunflower seems to absolutely adore her. You barely even taste your food during all of this, just watching and listening as a scene too sweet for this earth plays out in front of you. The little thing is all questions, as though seeing the world with fresh eyes, and Autumn seems delighted to answer. Well, except for "How old are you?" and "how old am I?", both of which Autumn covered with little white lies. There's something very odd about watching her try to internalize the "fact" that she's "7", an almost adorable eye-crossing moment of internal dialogue she seems to have. Almost adorable, except that there should be someone in there protesting that, claiming to be twenty-something, or thirty-something, whatever.
  143. You vague unease with the situation is something your compatriots don't seem to have, but then again they didn't see her "change" last time. You'd like to think it's over, that she's already been through the worst of it and she'll be fine, but by now you've learned a thing or two about life around here and that nagging voice in the back of your head is probably right. It takes ten more minutes of saccharine question and answer until finally the bomb drops.
  145. "Autumn? Do I have a family?"
  147. "Of course you do, Sweetie!"
  149. "I-is it you? Are you all my family?"
  151. The room is very, very quiet, and the look on Autumn's face feels like someone's pulling your heart out. You know what she wants to say, more than anything. But Autumn is good, and Master has a plan, so now you have to sit and watch her face contort in suppressed agony at having to tell her "no". Thankfully, the responsible party steps in and it's your Master who fields this one.
  153. "No, Sun, we're not your family. We're going to make sure you're all better, and then you'll be able to go home with a new Mom and Dad. Doesn't that sound nice?"
  155. You can't help but audibly sigh in relief, still keeping an eye on Autumn, who looks like she's still holding back tears. How must that feel, wanting a child and having one so close? It'll never happen to you, that much is certain, but you can't help but feel bad for her. You let your vision wander back over to Sunflower, strangely enough she hasn't replied to Master at all. In fact, she's got a forehoof pressed to her head, with a sort of pained expressio-
  157. Oh no.
  159. "Y-yeah... New Mom and Dad... Dad... No, that's not... that's not right."
  161. Perhaps rising to your hooves with eyes locked onto her as though she were a venomous snake was not the right move, as both of your life mates turn to see what you're doing, not the filly. Her eyes are shut tight and her head is shaking back and forth in a long "no" motion, reminding you quite viscerally of a drunk person about to vomit.
  163. "Sunflower, are you alright?"
  165. "N-no... don't want to go with Daddy..."
  167. "Sun?"
  169. "Daddy hurts! He yells and hits!"
  171. There's some small reassurance in the color draining from your Master's face, it's rather nice to know someone else thinks that's the creepiest thing ever said.
  173. "He's gonna hit me! Daddy hurts!"
  175. Your Master makes one final, grievous error, in trying to pick her up. Now those same shrieks, "Daddy hurts!" ascend in pitch and frequency as the little thing in his hands begins to thrash around in his hands as though she's having some kind of seizure. With that he's up and heading for the stairs with the little thing in tow. You try to follow, but he's apparently not in the mood for any of your help.
  177. "Stay down here."
  179. "But Mas-"
  181. "Zephyr. Stay."
  183. Reflex does most of the work from there, as your rear plants itself on the floor and you can only watch as your Master vanishes towards his workshop with the still-screaming Sunflower in tow. You feel ill, this is just too much to take. Autumn looks no better than you, crying silently in the same place on the floor she had been sitting, otherwise motionless. There aren't any words to fix what you just saw, or make this seem any better, so it's all you can do just to lay down beside her, nuzzle her neck, and extend a wing across her back. You end up staying there with her until nightfall.
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