Jun 6th, 2017
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  1. >Anon ground his teeth together as he took in the scene before him.
  2. >He wondered, not for the first time, how he'd been roped into this arrangement as his roommate wiped another layer of cheesy dust into her matter fur.
  3. >"Look at this shit! They call this a spring season? Am I supposed to choose between autistic bitches screaming into a microphone while internally screaming 'Momo!' or another season of Attack on Titan?"
  4. >Slamming her hooves down on her desk, she glared banefully at her monitor.
  5. >"I'd rather DIE." She whispered fiercely.
  6. >Anon rubbed his eyes and tried to remember a time before all this.
  7. >A time when a happy filly and a young boy had kicked around a soccer ball for hours, or huddled under a sheet, giggling as they pored over a new comic well past their bedtime by flashlight.
  8. >It had already been three months since he'd moved to the city for his new position.
  9. >Three months since his mother and her friend informed him of the 'opportunity'.
  10. >'Oh, you remember Floor, don't you Anon? You used to get on so well!'
  11. >'Well, she's recently lost her roommate. It's left her in a bit of a state. Since you're moving down yourself, wouldn't it be just perfect?'
  12. >'I'm sure a familiar face would do wonders toward getting her back on her hooves, and Teally here informs me that the flat is spacious and the rent reasonable..."
  13. >Just perfect.
  14. >TOO perfect.
  15. >Anon should have known it was a trap.
  16. >He should have listened to that niggling feeling in the back of his skull that told him there was a REASON he and Floor had drifted apart.
  17. >Now he remembered.
  18. >He remembered how those carefree days in the fields had dwindled, how their late nights under the covers had become awkward and sometimes even frightening.
  19. >And now here he was, fingers itching for a washcloth, molars impacting slowly as he watched Floor descend into another rant.
  20. >He took in the tornado of refuse surrounding her 'command station' and silently groaned at the thought of cleaning it up after her.
  21. >Again.
  22. >His thoughts strayed toward the thought that her last roommate might have had the right idea.
  23. >He immediately shook his head, banishing the ugly thought.
  24. >"You probably can't help yourself from squealing in glee that MHA got another season, can you Anon? Fucking shonen jump betacuck..."
  25. >Anon blinked, coming out of his reverie. 'She's actually addressing me?'
  26. "Yup, that's me, rolling in it up to my eyeballs. I sure do love my normie trash."
  27. >He'd learned by now that calling HIMSELF a normie tended to take the wind out of her sails.
  28. >It was her go-to insult, and taking it off the board usually kept them from descending into a screaming match.
  29. >"Uh, damn right you sarcastic fuck. Shouldn't you be at work, anyway?" Floor turned from her screen for the first time to point an accusing and slightly orange hoof at him.
  30. "It's my day off. Do you even know what day it is?"
  31. >Floor colored lightly, her eyes darting back to her monitor.
  32. >"Monday, duh! Aren't you supposed to be fucking off to the park to throw stuff and tackle other dudes to the ground in a homoerotic fashion?"
  33. >Anon squeezed his eyes shut and counted silently to ten. This mare...
  34. "The game's at noon, Floor. I'm relaxing and having a beer."
  35. >Floor noticed the bottle clutched in Anon's white-knuckled grip and raised an eyebrow.
  36. >"Day-drinking, Anon? I'm impressed! Maybe there's some hope for you after all."
  37. >Anon stared at her silently and took a pull from his bottle, the cold brew sliding down his throat and wrestling a contented sigh out of him.
  38. >Floor smirked at him before slowly turning back to her screen, putting a hold up to stifle a yawn.
  39. >"Finally..." Anon thought, taking another sip from his beer.
  40. >It usually didn't take much more than fifteen minutes from the first yawn for her to drag herself back to her cave.
  41. >Then he could at least make their living room/her 'office' something like presentable.
  42. >Not that they ever had guests.
  43. >Not that he'd ever WANT to have guests. Not here, with the lingering odor of a transient wafting from the bleak darkness behind his roommate's door.
  44. >Even if he wanted to, he wouldn't brave that frontier for all the gold in Fort Knox.
  45. >Besides, Floor's constant death threats on the matter made it as clear as the 'KEEP OUT' sign nailed to the door that it was off limits.
  46. >Not that she'd care.
  47. >He was reasonably certain that he was the only living being that had been within smelling distance of her room, or HER for that matter, since he'd moved in.
  48. >He picked up the groceries, picked up the mail, anything that required leaving the house was up to him.
  49. >She had her reasons.
  50. >She really did.
  51. >Reasons enough that her assigned social worker had put her on disability, and even the mandatory counseling was via video chat.
  52. >She did that in her bedroom, thankfully.
  53. >Anon might have resented the situation, and it might drive him up the wall a good portion of the time, but at the end of the day Floor really needed help.
  54. >For the friendship they'd had if nothing else, he was willing to give it.
  55. >Anon was broken out of his little bout of introspection by the sound of wheels creaking and a heavy thud.
  56. >He looked over to see Floor blearily looking around on her namesake.
  57. >'She fell out of the chair again. Legs are probably asleep.' Anon sighed quietly and rolled his eyes.
  58. >"T-time to hit the hay I guess. You have fun rolling in the grass with your 'friends', Anon."
  59. >He narrowed his eyes, glaring at her as she slowly clambered back to her hooves.
  60. >The poisonous inflection she added to 'friends' made him wonder not for the first time if she was implying something, or if she found the concept itself distasteful.
  61. >Anon found himself hoping it was actually the former.
  62. >Floor limped slowly toward him, making her way to her door and sanctuary.
  63. >Unfortunately, she was a little less steady on her hooves than usual, and with an awkward squawk she sprawled to a heap at Anon's feet.
  64. >Without thinking, Anon reached down to help her, hands going to her sides to pull her back to her hooves.
  65. "Shit, are you o-?"
  66. >"Don't fucking TOUCH me!" Anon's eyes widened as he was cut off by her outburst. He knew instantly he'd made a mistake.
  67. >It didn't prepare him for the sharp blow that impacted his chest like a sledgehammer though, blasting him back into the couch.
  68. >Anon clutched his chest weakly, trying to suck in deep breaths of air through his bruised diaphragm as he blinked back tears of pain.
  69. >He could see Floor blurrily in front of him, hooves planted and back arched, her ears plastered to her skull as she stared at him with wild eyes.
  70. >Anon finally got a decent breath into his lungs and coughed lightly, shaking his head lightly and forcing a wry grin.
  71. "My bad, Floor. Shouldn't have done that. You're fine, okay. I'm fine, everything's fine."
  72. >The effect his words had was immediate. Floor blinked, her eyes flashing back to normal.
  73. >She took in his expression, which was much closer to a pained grimace than any kind of smile, and slowly looked down at her hoof.
  74. >"I..." Floor started to say, her hoof lifting off the floor to shakily extend toward Anon.
  75. >It hovered in indecision before she snatched it back to her chest, tearing her eyes away from Anon's face and practically leaping toward her bedroom.
  76. >"I'm sorry!" Anon blanched at the tone of her voice as he turned to watch her scrabble at her door, opening it and darting inside before slamming it shut.
  77. "Well, that hasn't happened in a while..."
  78. >He probed his chest lightly, not feeling anything where it shouldn't be or moving around, and sighed softly in relief.
  79. >'I always forget how strong Ponies are.' He thought to himself as he picked himself up off the couch.
  80. >He bustled around the room, cleaning up slowly as he recovered from the blow, getting done running the vacuum just as his phone beeped the eleven-thirty alarm he'd set for himself.
  81. >Walking up to Floor's door, he knocked softly.
  82. "I'm going out, okay? I'm fine, like I said. Totally my fault. I'll see you when I get back, if you're up."
  83. >He waited at the door for a few moments, but no reply was forthcoming. Not that he expected one.
  84. "Get some rest, Floor."
  85. >'Probably already passed out. She'll sleep it off and be fine by the time I get back.'
  86. >Anon grabbed his gym bag from his room and headed out the door.
  87. >He didn't notice the slightly cracked open door with the 'KEEP OUT' sign on it, or the eyes that followed him as he left.
  89. >'I did it again.' Floor thought as she brought her traitorous hoof up to rub red eyes.
  90. "He was just trying to help me, and I hurt him. Again. What kind of a Pony am I?"
  91. >Floor rubbed the carpet in front of her slowly, grimacing at the change in consistency as it slid from inside her room to the living room.
  92. >Normally it wouldn't have bothered her, but this was one of those times when she could actually understand how far she'd fallen.
  93. >She'd never been the cleanliest of Ponies, but in the last couple years it had gotten bad, and in the last few months it had gotten worse.
  94. >Floor had to make it up to Anon. She knew that.
  95. >He'd quickly become the most important person in her life, the spark of their old friendship blooming inside her and becoming a crackling hearth.
  96. >She knew it wasn't healthy, because he was practically the ONLY important person in her life as well.
  97. >Her mother was... Her mother, and best left at that.
  98. >Her online acquaintances were little more than straw ponies to vent her rage on, with the few odd exceptions.
  99. >But no matter how important to her he was, she couldn't stop herself from lashing out at him in one way or another.
  100. >Her stupid bitch of a psychiatrist said all kinds of things about 'coping mechanisms' and 'stress triggers'.
  101. >Like that was supposed to make her feel better about her incessant need to knock Anon down a peg.
  102. >And if he accidentally touched her, like he'd done today...
  103. "At least it didn't seem like I broke anything."
  104. >The little voice in the back of her head had to add the addendum 'this time',of course.
  105. >Snarling, Floor brought her hoof down on the carpet with a heavy thud.
  106. >Her eyes strayed to her computer, contemplating logging in and taking her aggression out of some sad noob that wouldn't know what hit him.
  107. >She knew that if she did she'd just stay there until she was too tired to see straight, forgetting about what she'd done and barely acknowledging Anon when he came home to see nothing had changed.
  108. >Floor didn't want that.
  109. >Of course, Floor didn't want a lot of things.
  110. >Like her debilitating fear of the world outside her door, or the blind fear and rage another's touch inspired in her.
  111. >Like so many things in her life, it became another battle for control.
  112. >Floor really felt like she could win this one, though.
  113. >With measured steps, she walked out into the living room, passed her Command Station and opened the hall closet.
  114. "Must be in here somewhere..."
  115. >Floor hoofed through the boxes stacked neatly inside, reading labels and feeling appreciation and annoyance war inside her at Anon's fastidiousness.
  116. >All the way in the back, where she should have expected to find it, she spied her prize, such as it was.
  117. >'Cleaning, Floor' the box proclaimed, and Floor grimaced.
  118. >It was Anon's housewarming gift.
  119. >Of course.
  120. >Leave it to him to know that Human cleaning tools weren't exactly made with Ponies in mind.
  121. >Or that she wouldn't have any of her own.
  122. "Fucking damn it Anon, it's shit like this that makes me want to yank that smug grin off your face with pliers."
  123. >Floor's words might have been venomous, but her smile was gentle as she ran a hoof slowly over the top of the box.
  124. >Taking hold of it and carefully backing out of the closet, she pushed the box into the living room and bit the edge of the tape the top was still sealed with, pulling it away with a yank of her head.
  125. >She lifted the flaps and stared into the box with some trepidation.
  126. "Okay, now how do I use ANY of this shit?"
  127. >She sat back, frustration clear on her face as she took in the various brushes, rods and hoof extensions.
  128. >Slowly, she turned to her Command Station, giving it a pensive look.
  129. >Rubbing her face with her hoof, she trotted over and hopped up, looked guiltily back at the box and hoofed the power button.
  131. >Anon opened the door to the apartment, took two steps inside and immediately tripped and went sprawling.
  132. >His gym bag flew out of his hand, flinging sweaty garments down the hall as he tried to catch himself.
  133. >He failed.
  134. >Anon at least managed to get his arms out in front of him before he hit the carpeted floor full force.
  135. >Groaning, he whipped around onto his side to see what Floor had carelessly left out in the middle of the god damn hallway to trip him up.
  136. "Fuck, Floor?"
  137. >Anon looked back to see a sprawled out Floor panting heavily in front of the doorway.
  138. >"H-hey there, Anon. Can you get your fucking dirty cleats off my back before you pull back a stump?"
  139. >He gulped at Floor's barely restrained look of rage, but the sweat pouring off her forehead was what got him flipped over and kneeling by her side faster than he would have thought possible.
  140. "Floor, what the fuck is wrong with you? You're literally STEAMING!"
  141. >Anon wasn't exaggerating. Wisps of steam curled up off of Floor's back as if she were boiling water inside her coat.
  142. >"Worked up a bit of a sweat I guess. Oh! I gotta show you something! I think you're really gonna like it, you normie cuckmeister, you."
  143. >Floor's weak grin almost disturbed Anon more than her strange condition, but a sudden thought brought on a fresh surge of dread.
  144. "Floor, do Ponies get overheated like horses do?"
  145. >She blinked, her eyes looking up at the ceiling as she rocked her shoulders slowly back and forth.
  146. >"Oh, yeah, I guess so. I should do some stuff." Floor lurched up from her supine position and promptly splayed back out, spilling into Anon's lap.
  147. >She glanced up at him with a goofy look, batting at him with a hoof gently.
  148. >"Gerroff, I needa drink some water and take a cold shower an' junk before I get brain damage 'er sumthin'."
  149. >At the word's 'brain damage' Anon's hands curled under Floor's barrel and bodily lifted her off the floor.
  150. >Grunting under the weight, Anon waddled as fast as he could toward the bathroom while Floor swung awkwardly back and forth, back legs kicking weakly.
  151. >"Ay ay ay ay ay what th' fuck son?! Leggo'me! L-LEGGO!"
  152. >Floor was practically screaming at this point, but Anon ignored her, swinging around the corner and seeing the bathroom door thankfully open.
  153. >'At least I won't have to kick it down... Fuck she's heavy...'
  154. >Anon barreled through the doorway and practically tossed Floor into the shower, reaching in and yanking the handle up and over to full blast cold.
  155. >NOW Floor was screaming.
  156. >Anon ignored her and ran into the kitchen, filling up a water pitcher and dumping ice from the freezer into it.
  157. "D-drink."
  158. >He shoved the pitcher into Floor's hooves and she did that magical Pony bullshit and actually held it, taking a big gulp as the water from the shower hit her head and cascaded down her back.
  159. >White foam floated on the surface of the water pooling in the bottom of the shower, and Anon prayed it was lather and not something, ANYTHING else.
  160. >Grabbing a towel, Anon stepped into the shower and started rubbing Floor down, pulling more lather out of her coat as steam poured off of her.
  161. >"A-anon, stop. I'm fine. You're getting soaked you fucking idiot." Floor protested weakly, her cooler head helping her realize just how bad of shape she'd been in.
  162. "Drink."
  163. >Floor nodded meekly, taking another big gulp of water as Anon ran the towel over her barrel.
  164. >She drained the pitcher over the next few minutes while Anon rubbed her down, the steam slowly lessening as Floor felt herself cooling down.
  165. >Setting it aside, she jerked in place as she felt the towel brush across her lower belly.
  166. >"Woah! I got it from here, Anon!" She snatched the towel away from him and gave him a shove, pushing him into the shower wall where he slumped down against it.
  167. "I see you're feeling better. Already back to knocking me around."
  168. >Floor glared at Anon, but was only met with a chuckle.
  169. >"Yeah, laugh it up chuckle-head..." Floor murmured, turning away from him as she wiped down her more delicate areas.
  170. >Anon just wiped water off his face as he contemplated her back.
  171. >'She looks a lot better... Jesus that scared the shit out of me...'
  172. >Anon put a hand to his chest and could feel his heart still hammering away in there.
  173. >"Hey, Anon, go dry off and get changed. I'm gonna take a shower."
  174. >Anon blinked slowly, staring at her for a few seconds.
  175. "Excuse me, you're going to what, now?"
  176. >"What? I'm in here already, I might as well." Anon was having trouble processing this as he continued to stare.
  177. "Floor, since when do you shower?"
  178. >She glared at him, raising her hoof threateningly.
  179. >"What kind of fucking question is that, Anon? I take showers."
  180. >'All of three times since you moved in, but still...' Floor continued to glare as Anon gaped like a fish.
  181. >In his weakened state, there was only one thought that managed to make it through the confusing net his mind had become.
  182. "But, I need to shower."
  183. >Floor rolled her eyes, blowing a few strands of wet hair out of her vision.
  184. >"Fine, whatever. Just hurry up." With that, Floor grabbed a bottle of shampoo she was reasonably certain was supposed to be hers and squeezed a dollop out into her mane.
  185. "But, but, we can't... Floor, we can't shower together."
  186. >"Why not?" She looked around at the spacious shower. "It's big enough. And please, don't do the whole 'b-but you'll be naked!' thing."
  187. >Floor gestured up and down herself as if to say 'totally naked right now'.
  188. >Anon nodded slowly, watching as Floor worked the shampoo into her mane.
  189. "But Floor, I'LL be naked."
  190. >She didn't even turn around to address him. That might have been because she was trying to hide a blush, but he didn't need to know that.
  191. >"So? We ran around naked as kids together all the time. Nothing new to see Nonny."
  192. >Anon was fully prepared to explain to her that there were indeed new things, but he stopped short at the end of her sentence.
  193. >'Nonny... I haven't heard that in ten years. What's going on here? Why is she acting like this?'
  194. >Slowly, Anon grabbed the collar of his polo shirt and pulled it over his head, letting it drop outside of the shower with a wet smack.
  195. >Floor busied herself working shampoo into her coat as the sounds of Anon undressing and grabbing his own shampoo hit her ears.
  196. >With a sly grin, Floor turned to stick her mane under the water, rinsing out and opening her eyes to see...
  197. >Pic Related.
  198. >Floor whipped back around, eyes wide and blushing furiously.
  199. >'This is the part when I'm supposed to smirk and say "nice package, Nonny." It's not supposed to BE a nice package!'
  200. "Watch it there Floor, you just whacked the hell out of my thigh with your hair."
  201. >Floor froze for a second at the sound of his voice before settling back into washing her coat nonchalantly.
  202. "You okay?"
  203. >Anon watched as Floor jerked slightly again before working shampoo into the same spot she'd been working on for the last two minutes.
  204. >"Just fine, Anon. It takes a while for Ponies to get all this coat clean. Such a pain. It's why I don't do it that often."
  205. >A hoof flew up to her mouth in sudden horror. 'Shit, wait, did I just admit I barely shower? What the fuck is wrong with me?'
  206. "I thought you said you showered?"
  207. >Floor could hear the grin creeping into Anon's voice and resisted the urge to turn around and do violence.
  208. >Turning around again was the last thing she wanted to do.
  209. >This had been a bad idea.
  210. >"I do. Just, not that often. Once a week or so, I guess."
  211. >'Rule of three or something, right?' Floor thought inanely, before noticing the sound of the shower had changed.
  212. >Water hit her back in concentrated streams as something redirected the flow above her, and Floor locked up again.
  213. >'Oh hell, he's leaning over me to rinse offffffffffuck! The same water running over his body is running over mine!'
  214. >Floor's brain underwent a slight meltdown, slowly losing strength in her back legs as her rear end sank down to the shower floor.
  215. "Floor, are you sure you're okay? Do you need some help?"
  216. >The new note of concern in Anon's voice sent daggers straight into Floor's heart.
  217. >'Yes? No? I don't even know anymore! Damn you, Anon! Why do you have to be so NICE?'
  218. >"I'm fine, Anon. Please, don't touch me okay? You're almost done, right? I'm gonna be a few more minutes."
  219. >Anon stayed where he was for a few moments, letting the water fall over his head.
  220. "You got it Floor. I'm done, I'll go get changed."
  221. >She cringed internally as yet another tone crashed into her ears...
  222. >Pain.
  223. >Floor hung her head, letting the water from the shower rain down over her as she rubbed her eyes.
  224. >"Why do I have to be like this? Stupid fucking shampoo got in my eyes, too. Shit. I hate all this shit."
  226. >Anon sighed, finishing drying his hair with a towel before tossing it in his clothes hamper.
  227. >'What happened there? I thought we were actually making progress. Or something, anyway.'
  228. >He snagged a pair of boxers and shorts out of his dresser, not even looking at them as he slipped them on. Reaching in for a shirt, he hesitated, then let his hand drop.
  229. "Why even bother? It's my day off, I'm in my own apartment. In fact..."
  230. >Reaching further into his dresser, he drew out a bottle.
  231. "You and me are having a date, Johnny. That sounds weird. Whatever."
  232. >Spinning the cap off with a flick of his finger and letting it land wherever it might, Anon lifted the bottle and took a deep pull.
  233. >Anon walked out of his room, sauntered into the kitchen and snagged a beer for a chaser before making his way to the couch in the living room.
  234. >He plopped down into it with a contented sigh before turning and putting his feet up.
  235. "Movie? Movie."
  236. >He picked up a remote and messed with it for a few seconds before the Netflix logo popped up on his TV.
  237. "Lessee, let's see here..."
  238. >Anon took another slug off of his bottle and cracked his beer as he scrolled through the action section.
  239. >He needed something distracting.
  240. >Something with explosions.
  241. "Ah, my good friend Micheal Bay... What's this? The new TMNT movie? Well why the fuck not?"
  242. >Floor trotted slowly out of the bathroom into the living room.
  243. >She was still a bit damp, but she always was after washing. She'd be lucky if she felt dry by tomorrow.
  244. >Glancing around, she saw Anon sprawled out on the couch, a bottle clutched in his fist and a beer on the floor in front of him.
  245. >He was also shirtless, which was a bit more of a shock than Floor felt particularly up to.
  246. >"Hey Anon. Look, I'll help clean up in the morning, okay? I'm just not feeling up to it right now."
  247. "Clean what up?"
  248. >Anon glanced around the room, only now noticing the wrappers and packaging strewn in a couple of strategic piles around the room.
  249. "Huh. Sure, whatever Flo. Wanna watch a movie? It's probably shit, but you can use your razor wit to rip it to shreds. That's fun for you, right?"
  250. >Floor hesitated, halfway to actually taking a step back from Anon.
  251. >This wasn't like him at all.
  252. >"Uh, sure Anon. Scootch." He grumbled for a second before sliding back toward the end of the couch and sitting up a bit to make room for her.
  253. >Floor hopped up and settled down on the opposite end of the couch, tucking her legs under herself and glancing at Anon again.
  254. >He looked a little bleary-eyed, but otherwise seemed fine. Her eyes strayed to the bottle in his hand and noticed it was already a quarter gone.
  255. >"Hitting that a little hard, aren't you Anon? Don't you have to work tomorrow?"
  256. >Anon picked up the remote and hit a button. The movie started as he pinned her with a level look.
  257. >"I'm FINE, Floor. Try to keep your comments on the movie though, yeah? I can't be fucked right now."
  258. >Floor's ears pinned back slightly as she nodded, turning to the screen.
  259. >'Okay, that was a pretty straightforward 'fuck off' for Anon. I think I really messed up. I just keep messing up today...'
  260. >Floor sniffed lightly, trying to rub the lingering shampoo out of her eye.
  261. >They watched the movie in silence as Anon made inroads toward the bottom of his bottle.
  262. >The beer remained untouched.
  263. >Halfway through the movie Anon reached down and hit the pause button.
  264. >Floor turned to him a bit uneasily, the half empty bottle keeping her wary.
  265. >She'd never seen Anon really drunk before, but she had the feeling she was seeing it now.
  266. >Add to that the fact that his shirtless body was doing unfortunate things to her, and it was understandable that she was a little on edge.
  267. "Ya know, I thought we were doin' pretty good today, ya know? Felt like you were... I dunno, it was diffrent today."
  268. >Anon chuckled to himself and took another sip off his bottle.
  269. "Ya know, 'sides kickin' me an' workin' yerself into a lather."
  270. >Anon paused, looking like he was mulling something over for a moment before he continued.
  271. "What got ya all hot an' bothered, anyway? Got a bit excited there, never actually asked ya."
  272. >Floor regarded Anon carefully. He seemed... All right? Maybe a bit self deprecating, and his grammar had taken a turn for the worse, but... Yeah.
  273. >"I was, um, cleaning."
  274. >Anon took one bleary look at her and burst out laughing.
  275. >Floor cocked an eyebrow at him and crossed her forelegs, waiting for him to get it out of his system.
  276. "You, ha, you were WHAT? Tha's fuckin' hilarious Flo. Tha's a good one. Shit, I'm cryin' here. Look what ya did to me..."
  277. >"It's true, you ass. I felt bad for kicking you so I decided to clean up my room like you're always getting after me to do."
  278. >Anon wiped his hand across his face a few times before looking back at her, a crooked grin plastered on his visage.
  279. "Sure ya did, Flo. But seein' as you never let me in yer room, I guess I'll jus' take yer word fer it."
  280. >"Argh! Where do you think all this trash came from?" Floor gestured around at the torn boxes and discarded wrappers.
  281. >"It was your stupid housewarming gift that I finally opened! Get up."
  282. >Floor's tone became quiet and serious as she hopped off the couch and stamped a hoof emphatically.
  283. >Anon regarded her curiously for a few moments before shrugging and sitting up.
  284. "Sure, why not. Les' get this show on the road."
  285. >Anon set his bottle down next to the couch and levered himself up out of it.
  286. >Almost, anyway.
  287. >Halfway out of the couch he seemed to lose his balance, eyes widening and arms windmilling as he over-corrected to not fall flat and his face and slammed back into the couch with a grunt.
  288. >He blinked, giving the bottle next to the couch a betrayed look before he glanced sheepishly at Floor.
  289. "About that whole gettin' up thing..."
  290. >Floor growled, stomping up to the couch and giving Anon an annoyed look.
  291. >"I said get up, Anon." Without any warning she lunged forward, biting onto the waistband of Anon's shorts and hauling backward on them.
  292. >Anon popped up off the couch like a cork out of a champagne bottle, exclaiming wildly before he found his feet somehow.
  293. >He almost instantly lost them again, however, stumbling around like a, well, like a drunk as Floor tried to keep him upright through the grip she had on him.
  294. >"Lean on me, you ass." Floor mumbled through the fabric of his shorts, and surprisingly he did, a hand falling lightly on her shoulder as he slowly steadied.
  295. >She spit out his shorts and looked up at him, only to meet his eyes looking down at her. His expression was unreadable.
  296. "Thought I wasn't s'posed to touch ya."
  297. >The soft tone hurt more than ever, but only because she knew how much it hurt him to say it.
  298. >"It's fi..." Floor cut herself off. "Okay, It's not fine. You need help and I can deal with it, though."
  299. >Anon nodded slowly.
  300. "kay. Okay. Yeah, sorry for the trouble."
  301. >Floor cringed internally. When was the last time she'd apologized to him? Thanked him?
  302. >"It's fi- Dammit! It's not fucking fine. We'll talk about it later, okay Anon? I can deal with it."
  303. >'I can deal with it for you, Anon. Why can't I just say that?' Floor barely suppressed a growl as she slowly led Anon to her door.
  304. >"Well, open it."
  305. >Anon glanced down at her.
  306. "It isn' locked?"
  307. >'It's never locked, Anon, you're just too good of a guy to have ever checked.'
  308. >"No Anon, It's not locked. What am I supposed to do if I fall and break my hip or something and you can't get to me?"
  309. >Anon shrugged, reaching out and pulling down the latch.
  310. "Guess I'd jus' break the door down, then, yeah?"
  311. >Anon snickered at himself as Floor walked inside her room, pulling him along in her wake as her support was really the only thing keeping him upright.
  312. >Even that didn't help as he moved into the room.
  313. >The first thing he noticed was that it was bigger than his.
  314. >The second thing he noticed was that the sour smell he'd grown so used to was gone.
  315. >He stared around for a few seconds before just sitting down right where he was on the floor.
  316. >"I know you don't have anything to compare it to, since you never saw it before, but, I did a pretty good job, right?"
  317. >Floor nervously hoofed the carpet as Anon took in his surroundings.
  318. >Whatever he'd been expecting, it certainly wasn't this.
  319. >Shelves lined every wall, filled with books, manga, DVD's, laser disks, even VHS tapes.
  320. >A desk sat in a corner with a half-finished Gundam model taking up most of it.
  321. >'What? How the fuck does she put Gundams together with hooves?' Leaving that mystery for another time, he looked over to the corner which was occupied by a reasonable sized bed.
  322. >Honestly, it was huge for a Pony. Low to the floor, it looked like it had shelves built into the frame and was made up immaculately with a few throw pillows and one longer one strewn over it.
  323. >Taking pride of place were a full set of the Elements of Harmony plushies, set against the backboard.
  324. "Tell me ya don' sleep with those."
  325. >Floor grimaced, a touch of heat creeping over her cheeks.
  326. >"Usually just, you know, one of them. The rest go under the bed."
  327. "Sure, sure, makes sense."
  328. >Anon shook his head slowly.
  329. "Ya did all this fer me?"
  330. >Floor looked down at her hooves and grimaced.
  331. >'Just say yes, Floor. Just say you did it for him, and you're sorry, and you're so thankful for everything he does for you.'
  332. >She tried to force out the words, but they stuck in her throat, strangling her like a hangman's noose.
  333. >Whinnying angrily, Floor reared up on her hind legs and slammed them into the ground as hard as she could.
  334. >The fucking shampoo was back with a vengeance as Floor hoofed at her eye, ignoring the wetness.
  335. >Suddenly she felt arms wrap around her chest, pulling her into a tight if clumsy embrace.
  336. >She thought about struggling. She really did, but at this point she couldn't pretend that Anon's touch brought her anything but comfort.
  337. >She collapsed against him, wrapping her fore hooves around him tightly as a torrent of tears finally pushed the last of the shampoo out of her tired eyes.
  338. "I don' know if I really get it, Flo... But I think I'm gettin' it. You can hold onta me, okay? I'm not goin' anywhere."
  339. >Anon's quiet words brought a fresh torrent of tears as Floor poured months of emotion into his shoulder.
  340. >She held onto him for dear life, and hoped deep down that she wasn't dragging somebody else down with her again.
  341. >For his part, Anon just held her. He was in no state to process what was going on with her right now, let alone what was going on between them.
  342. >All he knew was that she needed him right now, and he'd promised himself when all this started that he'd do whatever he could for her.
  343. >She could be scary, inconsiderate, demanding and downright obnoxious at times...
  344. >Despite all of that, he'd never forgotten the feeling she brought out in him, and that feeling was worth whatever she put him through.
  345. >He felt her nuzzle deeper into the crook of his neck, and he hesitantly reached up to stroke her dark mane.
  346. >They stayed like that for a long time.
  347. >Anon woke up to a blistering headache and something like a clothes iron digging into his side.
  348. >He blearily rolled over, away from the pain and toward the edge of his bed.
  349. >He could hear his phone alarm going off somewhere, but he'd obviously left it somewhere else because it wasn't on the nightstand.
  350. >He swung his legs over the side of the bed like he'd done a hundred times now and slammed his feet into the floor that was a good two feet higher than it had any right to be.
  351. "God dammit what the fuck!"
  352. >Anon sprawled out as his over exuberant legs shot out from underneath him, tumbling onto his side before rolling over to his back.
  353. "This is not my room. Shit, right."
  354. >Anon grimaced as murky memories slowly surfaced from the soup that was last night.
  355. >He knew he was an idiot for drinking so much, but as he recalled more and more of last night he came to the conclusion that he didn't regret it at all.
  356. >Something had happened with Floor last night.
  357. >He still wasn't sure exactly what it was, but he knew that it was good.
  358. >"Anon, are you okay?"
  359. >The quiet voice sent a thrill up Anon's spine and he sat up, turning back to the bed to see Floor's concerned face looking back at him.
  360. >She looked worse than he felt, if he was any judge. Her eyes were red and puffy, circled by a ring of black.
  361. >Anon was beginning to suspect that last night was the first good night of sleep she'd had in a long time.
  362. "I'm fine, Flo. Just had to find my bearings. I've gotta run off for a second but I'll be right back."
  363. >Floor nodded slowly as Anon clambered to his aching feet and stumbled out the door.
  364. >She rolled over further, taking the pillow he'd used last night from against the headboard and hugging it gently to her chest.
  365. >This was all very bad, but she couldn't bring herself to care.
  366. >Not yet.
  368. >Meanwhile, Anon had made a beeline for his own room and the softly jangling phone sitting on his bedside table.
  369. >Picking it up, he grimaced down at it. Two hours until work...
  370. >Barely even thinking about it, Anon scrolled through his contacts and poked one.
  371. "Hello, Mr. Lumbard? Yes, this is Anon. Well, I'm really sorry to have to do this, but I've had something of an emergency."
  372. "No, sir, I'm alright, but my roommate..."
  373. "Well, sir, she's also a close family friend. I've known her since I was a small child."
  374. "Yes, sir, she's very important to me, so I'm afraid I'm going to have to take a few days."
  375. "I know it's short notice and I'm terribly sorry about that. I'll of course be using my three days of vacation and one of my sick days."
  376. "Yes, sir, I'm sure you can expect me to be there bright and early Monday morning."
  377. "Of course, sir. If everything goes better than expected I'll let you know immediately."
  378. "Again, terribly sorry about this. Yes, I'll pass along your best wishes. Of course, sir. Goodbye."
  379. >Anon ended the call, turned off his phone and promptly forgot everything about work for the next week.
  380. >He made a detour to the fridge and grabbed a couple bottles of water before heading back to Floor's room.
  381. >Knocking on the doorjamb lightly, he stepped back into her grotto to see her curled up around his pillow.
  382. "Hey. Hey, there. You awake? Want some water?"
  383. >Floor grumbled slightly and stuck out a hoof.
  384. >Anon held out a bottle, but Floor's hoof knocked it out of his hand and wrapped around his wrist.
  385. >He let her pull him slowly back into her bed, chuckling lightly as her forelegs slipped around him again.
  386. >'I could get used to this,' Anon thought as he felt Floor's nose press against his chest.
  387. >"You have to work today." Her muffled voice rose into the air as he felt her hot breath against his skin.
  388. "Called out. You need to get some rest."
  389. >Anon decided not to mention the fact that her rest seemed to be dependent on his presence.
  390. >"You shouldn't do that." Floor murmured. 'Not for me.'
  391. >Anon pulled her against him tighter, his hand going to her mane and stroking softly.
  392. "Guess that's my decision to make, isn't it? I doubt I'll lose the job over it. Might push back a promotion a couple months."
  393. >Anon felt Floor's hooves tighten around him.
  394. "Even if I do, I've got savings, and I'm a hot commodity right now. I could drop my resume at a dozen places and get hired the next day.
  395. >They wouldn't be as good as the job he had now, but the Pony in his arms was a lot more important to him than any job.
  396. >Telling her that seemed like the wrong thing to do at the moment, though.
  397. >He needed to know more about what was going on with here before he made any moves.
  398. >Floor had always been a minefield, but Anon had made some progress through it. Her. Whatever.
  399. >Now he needed to scout.
  400. >"After we get up... I want to talk to my psychologist." Anon blinked, looking down at the top of Floor's head and trying to read where this was going.
  401. "That sounds like a good idea. You had a pretty heavy time last night. It makes sense that you'd want to talk to a professional."
  402. >He felt her squirm slightly against his chest before her head tilted back and she caught his eyes in hers.
  403. >"I want you to... Be there. She can explain some things that I can't."
  404. >'That I won't. Then you'll understand and get out while you can.'
  405. >Anon looked at her calmly, trying to read her expression.
  406. >Sometimes what she was feeling was clear as day, but she had her walls up right now.
  407. "If you're sure you want me to, I'll be there Flo."
  408. >She nodded slowly. "It's best for everybody."
  409. >Anon's eyes narrowed slightly. He didn't like how she'd phrased that.
  410. >He'd let it go for now, though.
  411. >He'd pick his battles.
  412. >Anon wasn't stupid enough to think this was the end.
  413. >His eyes crept to the ceiling, imagining a circle of blue sky above their heads while walls of storm swirled around them.
  414. >'Like sharks smelling blood in the water.' Anon thought with a grin.
  415. >They didn't know that Anon swam with sharks for a living.
  416. "Let's get some sleep, Flo."
  417. >Her steady breathing against his chest however told him she'd already preceded him into dreamland.
  418. "Goodnight Floor Bored."
  419. >Anon whispered this gently as he stroked her hair one last time.
  420. >He closed his eyes with a sigh of contentment.
  421. >Whether he admitted it or not, he found sleep easier with Floor in his arms as well.
  422. >As for the coming day's trials?
  423. >They'd face them together.
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