N41 - Confectionaries//Sketches [FULL]

Sep 5th, 2014
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  1. [LONG] [SEVERAL PARTS] [MF: Butterscotch]
  3. Part I
  5. >Another day, another drawing
  6. >Err… lots of drawings.
  7. >That’s your motto.
  9. >You’re Anonymous, an experienced artist.
  10. >After lots of travelling and exploring, you’ve stopped right on the edge of a realm called Equestria.
  11. >They call this place the Village, right on the eastern coast of Dust Valley.
  12. >You live with moth ponies, who aren’t the most unique creatures you’ve seen in your travels, but are definitely the most fun to be around.
  13. >That, and they have been the most positive about your presence.
  14. >You’ve even managed to become accustomed to the nocturnal nature of the moth ponies.
  15. >Even if it wasn’t to the same degree as them just yet.
  17. >You spend your nights creating illustrations and caricatures for any passerby moth pony in the somewhat busy town square.
  18. >It’s a fun way to spend your evenings making a bit of money.
  19. >Being able to practice your craft AND make the moth ponies happy?
  20. >Delightful.
  21. >And them being happy may be an understatement.
  22. >These moth ponies became absolutely ecstatic when you drew things for them.
  24. >Your biggest fans were a group of young ones from the local elementary.
  25. >They happily visit your booth nearly every night, as it was on the way to the schoolhouse.
  26. >They were always clamoring for new pictures and sketches.
  27. >Simple stuff usually, but enough to make them laugh, buzz, and squeak all the way to school and back home again.
  29. >You used to draw for them at a reduced rate.
  30. >A severely reduced rate, at that.
  31. >Now, you do it for free.
  32. >It’s far more enjoyable to see them so happy and interested in your art.
  34. >As nice as it was to make see them elated, there was a… small problem.
  37. >Their “babysitter” of sorts.
  38. >That may be the wrong word….
  39. >Caretaker?
  40. >Teacher?
  41. >You weren’t sure.
  42. >The mare in charge.
  43. >Matriarch?
  44. >That’s it.
  45. >The matriarch is your “small problem.”
  47. >Butterscotch.
  48. >A friendly and compassionate mare who was unfortunately terrified of you, an outsider.
  49. >You imagine she was only frightened of you because the two of you never had an opportunity to sit and become acquainted with one another.
  50. >Every other moth pony you’ve met enjoyed your company and presence, and never once felt intimated or frightened by it.
  51. >Why did Butterscotch have to be so fearful of you?
  52. >You’re positive she would like you if given the chance to get to know you, and vice versa.
  53. >No matter.
  54. >You’ll just keep shrugging it off.
  56. >As it stands, Butterscotch remains in the background, keeping a careful watch on the children as they surround your booth, demanding drawings.
  57. >You glance over at her occasionally, trying to make eye contact and give her an approachable smile.
  58. >As friendly as you were, she would only give you short replies, causing conversations to last less time than you’d like.
  59. >It saddened you, as you truly found her to be a fascinating mare.
  60. >More fascinating than others….
  62. >There was something oddly distinctive about Butterscotch.
  63. >Something that other moth ponies around here lacked.
  64. >Something about her appearance….
  65. >You can’t quite put your fingers on it.
  66. >Is it her lime green eyes?
  67. >Her exquisitely fluffy white coat, gently speckled with black spots?
  68. >Or maybe it’s her outrageously appealing buttery mane?
  69. >Perhaps it’s the way she acted around you that made you feel this way.
  70. >Her frequent attempts to avoid you causing you to want to break her of that habit.
  72. >Whatever it is, it’s enough to make you spend hours creating sketches of her on almost a daily basis.
  75. >At the end of your shifts, once everything had died down, you would open up your private sketchbook and just let your mind do the rest.
  76. >They were crudely drawn scribbles to say the least.
  77. >You never could look at Butterscotch long enough to truly capture her appearance in your mind, not with the younger moth ponies distracting you.
  78. >Or with her hiding and refusing to look at you.
  79. >But whenever you managed to lay your eyes on her, you were met with a feeling of clear familiarity.
  81. >You used this familiarity to guide your pencil along the pages of your sketchpad.
  82. >Even though they were mere scribbles, every line, stroke, and nuance you gently put on paper was employed more delicately when you sketched images of Butterscotch.
  83. >The amount of detail and careful consideration you implemented in these particular drawings…
  84. >Soon you had a few too many pages of scribbles.
  85. >And, of course, no one knew of these doodles except for you.
  86. >You fear that if she, or any other moth for that matter, ever saw them, she would treat you like some sort of disturbing ape.
  88. >But you simply couldn’t help it.
  89. >Because you couldn’t see her all the time, you had to make due with your talent.
  90. >You did feel a bit uncomfortable about the entire situation, but attempting to replicate her image through your preferred medium satiated your desire to understand more about the fascinating mare.
  91. >That’s all you could do for the time being….
  93. >In a normal world, you would make an effort to try and get to know her better.
  94. >Spend time together, converse, have lunch.
  95. >Then again, this is far from the normal world.
  96. >With regards to Butterscotch, even the simplest of things seemed like an impossibility at this stage.
  98. >You check your watch.
  99. “I think it’s about time to call it a evening, children.”
  100. >Multiple sounds of disappointment ring in your eardrums.
  101. >The group of little moth foals give you puppy dog eyes.
  102. >It shatters your heart every time.
  103. “Well… I guess I could-“
  104. >”Now, children.”
  105. >Butterscotch trots carefully over to you.
  106. >”Mr. Anon has worked hard tonight. We should let him rest.”
  107. >The kids give you bigger puppy dog eyes.
  108. >Must… look… away….
  110. >You glance at Butterscotch.
  111. >Her eyes avoid yours, instead scanning the group of dissatisfied foals.
  112. >You kneel down to the small moth ponies.
  113. “She’s right, everyone.”
  114. >You look up at Butterscotch, who has her muzzle happily in the air.
  115. “But hey, no worries. You know I’ll be here tomorrow!”
  116. >A collective group of sighs acts as their response.
  117. >Butterscotch rounds the children up, trying to quell everyone’s sadness.
  118. >”Come on, it’s time to head home. Everyone be sure to thank Mr. Anon once more before we all leave!”
  120. >The kids take a deep breathe and:
  124. >You smile and wave to the kids as they follow closely behind Butterscotch, some happily waving back, some saying:
  125. >“See ya, tomorrow, Mr. Anon.”
  126. >“Thanks again, Mr. Anon.”
  127. >”Have a good night, Mr. Anon!”
  129. >Butterscotch turns and glances at you for a moment.
  130. >You give her a friendly departing wave.
  132. >Now, there is a possibility that you may be a bit crazy, but you swear you saw her smile and blush.
  133. >Maybe the dark night has forsaken you.
  134. >Maybe you’re going blind, which wouldn’t be good for your role as an artist.
  135. >Unfortunately, there is truly no telling what she did, as she faced forwards as quick as she turned to peep at you.
  136. >You sigh as the group disappears out of view.
  138. >It’s been another fun-filled and eventful evening, but now it’s time to go home.
  139. >Besides, you’re starving.
  140. >You quickly pack up your drawings and all of your drawing gear.
  141. >You fold up your booth and chair, and throw them on your back.
  142. >Portfolio in one hand, briefcase in the other, you are ready to head home.
  143. >Luckily, home wasn’t too far of a walk.
  144. >This stuff was quite heavy.
  146. ~
  149. >Another day, another….
  150. >You get the picture.
  152. >However, tonight would be different than previous ones.
  153. >Tonight you were going to ask Butterscotch if you could do a sketch of her.
  154. >It’s been on your mind all night, and it’s making you feel rather nervous.
  155. >The idea is to get close enough to her and hold a conversation.
  156. >That was the challenging part.
  157. >Luckily, you enjoy challenges.
  158. >You’re just worried that this plan is going to backfire.
  159. >But that shouldn’t happen, right?
  161. >You sit and sketch the image of a nightshade, one of your favorite flowers.
  162. >You check your watch.
  163. >It was lunchtime, close to midnight, and you expected Butterscotch to enter the town center at any moment.
  164. >She usually stops by this friendly little smoothie shop across from your drawing booth.
  165. >Afterwards, she will eye you nervously, avoid eye contact entirely, or wait until you are turned around to head back to school.
  166. >Her daily routine was going to be interrupted, as you have been kind enough to buy her favorite smoothie.
  167. >A nice blend of oats, blueberries, mint, and apple cider.
  168. >Or a “Sidewinder,” as it was named by the owner of the smoothie shop.
  169. >You decide to get one as well, hoping it would be an effective way to break the ice.
  171. >You see Butterscotch happily trot towards the smoothie shop.
  172. >You return to sketching, acting as if you couldn’t see her.
  173. >As you peek over your easel, you see Butterscotch enter the shop.
  174. >So far, so good.
  175. >Hopefully the moth pony inside would follow your instructions.
  176. >You asked him to tell Butterscotch that her smoothie was already made and purchased for her.
  177. >And that she would find it across the road.
  178. >This plan was foolproof.
  179. >You peek over your easel once more.
  180. >Right on time, Butterscotch is trotting over to you.
  181. >She looks… peeved.
  182. >Uh oh.
  184. >You snap your head back and continue to sketch.
  185. >Abort mission.
  186. >Pretend nothing happened.
  187. >The moth pony in the shop is delusional; you got two smoothies for yourself, that’s all.
  188. >You begin to whistle nervously.
  189. >The sound of trotting stops from behind your easel.
  190. >You hear a very irked mare clear her throat.
  192. >”Mr. Anon. It’s me.”
  193. >Butterscotch calls out to you from behind your easel.
  194. >Just like her to not show herself.
  195. “Is that you Butterscotch?”
  196. >”Yes.”
  197. “I can’t… I can’t see you.”
  198. >”I’m behind your easel, Mr. Anon.”
  199. “How do I know it’s really you?”
  200. >Butterscotch squeaks in annoyance, peeking her head from behind your easel, her eyes nervously avoiding yours.
  202. “Oh, Butterscotch! To what do I owe the pleasure?”
  203. >Her face is scrunched, her antennae are sticking straight up, and her cheeks are a reddish color.
  204. >Keep playing it cool, Mr. Anon.
  205. >You got this handled.
  206. >This already the longest conversation you’ve had with Butterscotch.
  207. >Things can only go up from here.
  209. >”I have been told that you have a smoothie for me.”
  210. “That… may be true.”
  211. >”Why is that true?”
  212. “Err….”
  213. >You put your pencils down.
  214. >”W-why did you buy me a smoothie?”
  215. “Uh… you see….”
  216. >Butterscotch scrunches her face again.
  217. >This would be really cute if you didn’t feel like you were about to get verbally reamed.
  218. “I just always see you head in there. I figured I’d surprise you with-“
  219. >”Are y-you spying on me!?”
  220. “N-no! That’s not it at all!”
  221. >”Then w-what is it, M-Mr. Anon?”
  222. “I don’t know! I just wanted to be friendly and buy you a smoothie!”
  223. >She huffs and puffs, squeaking in irritation.
  224. >She shakes her head at you; her stout cheeks still a deep shade of red.
  227. >”Well… m-may I have it?”
  228. “Err….”
  229. >”The s-smoothie.”
  230. “Of course you can have it. I mean… I bought it for you.”
  231. >She squeaks loudly.
  232. >”That may be true… b-but next time just leave it in the shop for me!”
  233. “Uh…”
  234. >”That way it’ll stay c-cold!”
  235. “…so there will be a next time?”
  236. >Butterscotch lets out more dissatisfied squeaks, hiding her face behind your easel once more.
  237. >”M-Mr. Anon, please!”
  238. >You shrug, reaching down and picking up the tray of smoothies.
  240. “Here you are. One freshly made Sidewinder.”
  241. >”…p-pass it here.”
  242. “I’m sorry?”
  243. >”Behind the easel.”
  244. “You want me to hand you the smoothie...”
  245. >”Yes.”
  246. “…behind my easel?”
  247. >She squeaks softly.
  248. >”Y-yes.”
  249. “…”
  250. >”Please.”
  252. >You sigh and take a smoothie, offering it to Butterscotch behind your easel.
  253. >She quickly takes it.
  254. >Silence.
  255. >Silence….
  256. >Butterscotch clears her throat.
  257. >”I need a straw, t-too.”
  258. “A what?”
  259. >”A s-straw.”
  261. “A straw?”
  262. >”To d-drink this with.”
  263. “Oh yeah. Sorry.”
  264. >You reach back down and grab a straw for her.
  265. >You carefully offer it behind your easel, and she takes it immediately.
  266. >”T-thank you.”
  267. “Of course.”
  269. >”…”
  270. “…”
  271. >Butterscotch gives out a nervous squeak.
  272. “Is… everything okay?”
  273. >”This smoothie is good….”
  274. >You quickly peek over your easel.
  275. >Butterscotch was sitting on the ground, drinking her smoothie.
  277. >It looks like she was sticking around for a bit.
  278. >Although this whole situation played out a bit differently than previously expected, your goal had been achieved.
  279. >… for the most part.
  280. >With the safety of the easel in between the two of you, Butterscotch was essentially spending time with you.
  281. >It seems like this was the only way she would be able to do it, as she clearly was still uncomfortable around you.
  282. >You put a straw in your Sidewinder and join her.
  283. >You drink a little bit of the smoothie, the sweet flavor sending your taste buds go on a magical ride.
  284. “Wow. This is quite tasty, huh?”
  285. >”…”
  286. “…”
  287. >”I l-love the berries they use in this….”
  290. >As odd as it was, you are enjoying drinking a smoothie with Butterscotch in near silence.
  291. >However, you begin to wonder if she had chosen to stay because she felt obligated to.
  292. >That thought doesn’t make you feel too good….
  293. “Hey, Butterscotch?”
  294. >She gives a soft squeak in response.
  295. “You don’t have to drink this with me if you don’t want to.”
  296. >”I-I…”
  297. >You take another sip of your smoothie.
  298. “Rather, I don’t want you to feel indebted to me or something. I just wanted to do something nice for you.”
  299. >”W-why?”
  300. “Why what?”
  301. >She huffs and puffs.
  302. >”Why did you w-want to do something nice for me?”
  303. “Uh….”
  304. >”Y-you don’t even know me.”
  306. >Bingo.
  307. “That’s why I did it. Because I don’t know you.”
  308. >Butterscotch doesn’t respond.
  309. >You hear a bit of tapping.
  310. >You peek over the easel.
  311. >She was looking at the ground, tapping her forehooves together softly.
  312. >You return to your smoothie.
  313. >Butterscotch sighs quietly.
  314. >”Mr. Anon, that s-seems a bit….”
  315. “I know. I’m sorry. I’m not trying to offend you or anything, Butterscotch.”
  316. >”…”
  317. “I just wanted an opportunity to get to know you.”
  320. >The two of you sit in silence for a few minutes.
  321. >You put your smoothie down and pick up your pencils.
  322. >Might as well return to sketching.
  323. >You hear Butterscotch finish her smoothie and put it down on the ground.
  324. >”Thank you f-for the smoothie.”
  325. “Anytime.”
  326. >She peeks her head from behind the easel.
  327. >Her face is flushed, and her eyes are darting around nervously.
  328. >”I-I should get going now.”
  329. >You don’t look at her, instead keeping your focus on your drawing.
  330. >You got more than what you bargained for today.
  331. >There is no point in scaring her off.
  332. “Okay. I hope you enjoyed your smoothie.”
  333. >Butterscotch squeaks quietly.
  334. >”B-bye, Mr. Anon.”
  335. “See you.”
  337. >She gets up and slowly trots away.
  338. >After a few minutes you put your pencil down.
  339. >You sit back and sigh, looking intently at your sketch.
  340. >You drew a bust of Butterscotch, though it was done a little too quickly for your taste.
  341. >You were nervous while you sketched it, even though you knew she wouldn’t try and look at it.
  342. >You carefully remove the sketch from your easel and pack it neatly into your private portfolio.
  343. >You got what you wanted, though it wasn’t exactly how you wanted it to happen.
  345. >Tomorrow will have to be handled a bit differently.
  347. ~
  349. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  350. Part II
  352. PART TWO
  354. >”What will it be tonight, Anon?”
  355. >You scan all of the smoothies listed on the menu.
  356. “’New and exciting flavors added every week,’ huh?”
  357. >”That’s right, buddy! You know what you want?”
  358. “Not sure yet….”
  359. >You wanted to surprise Butterscotch with a new treat, but you were worried that she would dislike it.
  360. >You aren’t sure how susceptible she is to “new and exciting” opportunities.
  361. >But you didn’t want to get her the same old thing she always gets….
  362. >Choices, choices.
  363. >No point in risking it.
  364. “I guess I’ll just get one Sidewinder and one… Tropical Twister.”
  365. >”Excellent choices, Anon. I’ll get right on it!”
  367. >After a few minutes, your smoothies are freshly made and ready to be drunk.
  368. “Alright… here we go, Anon. Two smoothies. That’ll be 4 bits.”
  369. >You happily pay the moth pony behind the register.
  370. “Thanks. Take care!”
  372. >You take the two smoothies and exit the shop.
  373. >Across the dirt road, the sight of Butterscotch looking around your booth surprises you.
  374. >She sees you and begins to squeak nervously.
  375. >”T-there you are, Mr. Anon!”
  376. >You walk past her and take your usual spot by your easel.
  377. “Looking for me, Butterscotch?”
  378. >She huffs and scrunches her face at you.
  379. >”I-I was just… worried you had gone home for the n-night!”
  380. >You laugh as you take a seat, putting a straw in each smoothie.
  381. >Butterscotch squeaks angrily at you, her antennae bouncing in unison.
  382. >”That is not funny, Mr. Anon!”
  384. >You slide the tray of smoothies under your easel.
  385. “Here you go, freshly made.”
  386. >”Which one is mine?”
  387. “Whichever you’d like, Butterscotch.”
  388. >You pull your easel closer to you and put fresh paper on it.
  389. >You peek over and see her eye the tray cautiously.
  390. >You hold your breath.
  391. >”Hmmmm….”
  392. >She picks up the Tropical Twister and begins to drink it happily.
  393. >”Mmmm… wow, this is wonderful!”
  394. >You exhale, happy to know that she didn’t hate it.
  396. “Glad you like it. It’s called a ‘Tropical Twister.’ It has pineapples, mangoes, and a bit of coconut, I think.”
  397. >”I l-love it! I usually get the same old thing. I guess I’m kind of boring….”
  398. >You laugh.
  399. “Don’t say that Butterscotch. You’re far from boring.”
  400. >Loud squeaks and nervous stammer follows your friendly comment.
  401. >”M-Mr. Anon!”
  402. >You reach down for the tray, causing Butterscotch to jump back nervously, squeaking in fear.
  403. >You apologize over and over again, assuring her that you didn’t mean it.
  404. >”It’s okay, I overreacted. I’m really sorry, Mr. Anon. I-”
  405. “Let’s just enjoy our smoothies, okay?”
  407. >After that worrisome situation, the two of you drink your smoothies in an awkward silence.
  408. >The easel was close enough to you to allow sight of Butterscotch’s plush fur, but nothing else.
  409. >Not much help for you at this point, so you decide to return to your nightshade sketches.
  411. >You hear Butterscotch slurp on her smoothie, occasionally letting out pleasant moans of satisfaction.
  412. >You follow suit, being sure to not let your smoothie get warm.
  413. “Mmm…..”
  414. >You smack your lips, putting the smoothie down and returning to your sketch.
  415. >”H-how is yours, Mr. Anon?”
  416. “S’alright.”
  417. >”As much as I like the Sidewinder, I m-must say that this Topical Twizzler is right up there with it!”
  418. “Topical Twizzler?”
  419. >”Mhmm! Topical Twizzler… I wonder why they call it that….”
  420. “Well, they don’t call it that actually. You see-“
  421. >Angry squeaks emit from behind the easel.
  422. >”Mr. Anon! That’s what you said it was called!”
  423. “No, I didn’t! I said-“
  424. >”You are too much of a jokester! You p-play around far too much!”
  425. “Me? No, no! You must have misheard me! You ARE behind an easel after all.”
  427. >Another loud squeak signals the end of your discussion.
  428. >You hear Butterscotch continue to drink her smoothie, muttering something under her breath.
  429. >You sigh loudly.
  430. “Sorry, Butterscotch. There was a communication error, that’s all.”
  431. >”It’s f-fine… I overreacted once again….”
  432. “…”
  433. >”…”
  434. “…”
  435. >”I’m s-sorry, too….”
  436. >You take another sip of your smoothie.
  437. >”Mr. Anon?”
  438. “Yes, Butterscotch?”
  439. >”What is this actually called? No playing around this time.”
  441. >You clear your throat.
  442. “Tropical Twister.”
  443. >Another angry squeak meets your ear drums.
  444. >”Topical Twizzler!? I thought you said that wasn’t it!”
  445. “No, no, no. TROPICAL TWISTER.”
  446. >”Tangible Trigger?”
  448. >”Oh, I got it! Chronological Sister! What a weird name….”
  449. >You groan loudly.
  450. “Repeat after me.”
  451. >”Okay!”
  453. “Tropical.”
  454. >”Gullible.”
  455. “TROPICAL.”
  456. >”Oh, Tropical!”
  457. >Almost there….
  458. “Twister.”
  459. >”Silver.”
  461. >”Oh, silly me! Twizzler. Tropical Twizzler!”
  462. >You bury your face in your hands and let out a dissatisfied groan.
  463. >Butterscotch laughs and squeaks happily from behind the easel.
  464. >”Oh, Mr. Anon! Hahahaha! I was just kidding! I heard you from the beginning!”
  465. “…”
  466. >”Tropical Twister. See? I can play around too much as well!”
  467. “…”
  468. >”Funny, right?”
  469. “Ha. Ha. Hilarious.”
  471. >You’re glad to see that Butterscotch frustrating you was her way of becoming comfortable around you.
  472. >Even if it was a bit annoying….
  473. >She finishes her smoothie before you do, letting out a happy squeak followed by a heavy sigh.
  474. >”That was quite nice.”
  475. >You grunt in response.
  476. >Though you are enjoying Butterscotch’s “company,” your focus was back on your drawing.
  477. >You didn’t want to offend her or scare her off.
  478. >You’d rather let her move your friendship forward as she wants.
  479. >”What are you w-working on tonight, Mr. Anon?”
  480. “I’m just doing some practices sketches for myself.
  481. >”Oh, wonderful!”
  482. “Afterwards I’m going to work on some drawings I owe a few of the foals.”
  483. >Butterscotch claps her hooves together.
  484. >”You really do a lot for them, Mr. Anon.”
  485. >You grunt again.
  486. >”It’s… v-very kind.”
  487. >You stop sketching for a quick second.
  488. “Thanks….”
  490. >Butterscotch gets up and stretches her hooves, a few nervous squeaks meeting your eardrums.
  491. >”I-I think I should be going now.”
  492. “Alright then.”
  493. >She squeaks quietly.
  494. “Thanks for hanging out with me for a bit.”
  495. >”Don’t thank me! I-it was…. *mumble mumble*”
  496. “What was that?”
  497. >”N-nothing! I just….”
  498. >You laugh.
  500. “Take care, okay?”
  501. >”Y-you do the same, Mr. Anon!”
  502. >You peek over the easel, seeing Butterscotch walk away and humming a happy tune.
  503. >There is a bit of a kick to her step.
  505. >She must have really enjoyed that Tropical Twist.
  507. ~
  509. >The day has been rough on you to say the least.
  510. >Your mind has been racing, and you don’t really know why.
  511. >You only slept for a few hours and you haven’t really eaten anything.
  512. >Maybe you were getting sick…
  513. >You shudder at the thought.
  515. >You skittishly work on a caricature of a young moth pony, hoping it would slow down your mind.
  516. >The reddish foal is fidgeting around, making it difficult to keep your sketch “accurate.”
  517. >You sigh.
  518. “If you could just sit still for just one minute, I could-“
  519. >The moth squeaks angrily at you.
  520. >”I’ve been sitting still for hours!”
  521. “It’s been ten minutes.”
  522. >The moth shakes her head and pouts.
  523. >”Whatever! Just… hurry up.”
  524. >You groan.
  525. >Tough crowd today.
  527. >You begin to wonder if Butterscotch would be showing up anytime soon.
  528. >You had spent a bit of time today making extra lunch food, hoping she would partake.
  529. >A fresh fruit salad with a bit of honey drizzled on top.
  530. >You made enough for the two of you to share.
  531. >Then again… you feel as if Butterscotch may not take kindly to your attempted act of thoughtfulness.
  532. >Maybe you had gone a bit far….
  533. >You were still in the process of getting to know the gal.
  534. >Even though that was like pulling the teeth out of a shark.
  535. >Remember: let her be in charge of your friendship.
  537. >You sigh as you finish the caricature and hand it to the irritable moth pony foal.
  538. >Her antennae droop as she glares at your drawing.
  539. >You knew it wasn’t your best work but….
  540. >”This is stupid. I don’t look anything like this!”
  541. >You groan.
  542. “It’s a caricature, you see. It’s supposed to look a bit silly.”
  543. >The moth pony squeaks and buzzes about angrily.
  544. >”Sheesh, whatever you say. Thanks for nothing.”
  545. >She throws ten bits your way and flies away.
  546. >You angrily pocket the money.
  548. >You sit back and get a new sheet of paper on your easel.
  549. >A small group of young moth ponies stop by.
  550. >They surround you, happily buzzing.
  551. >They all shout in unison:
  552. >”HEY, MR. ANON!”
  553. >You laugh, feeling a bit better already.
  554. >The children always perk you up.
  555. “Howdy, all. Here to pick up your drawings?”
  556. >The kids nod goofily, their antennae bobbing cutely.
  557. >You reach into your portfolio and pull out a handful of separate sketches you had finished throughout the day.
  558. >You begin to hand them out to the children.
  559. >High-pitched squeaks of happiness reach your ears as the kids dance and chat around happily.
  560. >”These are great, Mr. Anon!”
  561. >”Thank you so much!”
  562. >”Wow! Look at that!”
  563. >”You’re the best, Mr. Anon!”
  565. >You smile as the kids flutter around you.
  566. “Anytime, guys. I’m glad I could do these for you. Make sure you take good care of them!”
  567. >The kids are called back by their parents, and eventually leave.
  568. >You are saddened to see them leave so soon, but you were happy that they loved the drawings.
  569. >You watch as the kids show their parents their new drawings.
  570. >”I l-love seeing these foals so happy, Mr. Anon.”
  571. >You turn back forwards.
  572. >No moth in sight.
  573. “Sorry?”
  575. >You hear someone clear their throat behind your easel.
  576. >”I-it’s me.”
  577. >A smile forms on your face.
  578. “I wonder who it could be….”
  579. >”Butterscotch.”
  580. >You chuckle softly.
  581. “No, I knew that. See, I was….”
  582. >”Y-yes?”
  583. “Never mind.”
  584. >You give out a hearty laugh as Butterscotch squeaks in frustration.
  586. >You reach back and pull out your handmade lunch.
  587. “I didn’t get us smoothies today, but I did make us this to share, if you’d like.”
  588. >You open the container and slide it under your easel.
  589. >You see Butterscotch bend down and pick it up.
  590. “I hope that’s okay with you, it’s just a fruit salad with-“
  591. >”T-this looks delicious, Mr. Anon! But I-I can’t eat this…”
  592. “Oh.... Why not? Is there something you don’t like in it?”
  593. >”No, no! I just… I-I… already ate, y-you see.”
  594. >Butterscotch slides the container back under your easel.
  595. “Are… are you sure you don’t want to eat anything? Maybe we could go get-“
  596. >”I’m positive, Mr. Anon!”
  597. >Butterscotch taps her hooves gently.
  598. >”T-thank you, though….”
  599. >You pick up the container of fruit and cover it.
  600. >You’ve lost your appetite once again.
  602. “Well… is there anything I can help you with?”
  603. >Butterscotch lets out a soft squeak, followed by heavy sigh.
  604. >”N-no. No, I don’t need anything.”
  606. >You grab a few pencils and begin to sketch, expecting Butterscotch to leave soon.
  607. >To your surprise, she doesn’t.
  608. >Instead, she sits quietly behind your easel, the sounds of pages turning every few minutes suggesting that she was reading.
  609. >She was closer than she usually was; her fluffy coat of white visible under your easel.
  610. “You doing okay there, Butterscotch?”
  611. >”Y-yes, Mr. Anon. Just catching up on some reading.”
  612. >Reading?
  613. “You… don’t have anywhere to be soon?”
  614. >”Hmm… no, I don’t think so!”
  615. >You continue to sketch as you think about the situation you are in.
  616. >Though you’ve had a rough evening, it makes you laugh to think about how silly all of this really is:
  618. >Butterscotch was mere inches from you, still hiding behind the safest construct ever conceived: your wooden easel.
  619. >You wonder how long it would be before the “Great Easel” didn’t have to come between the two of you.
  620. >It’s clear she was warming up to you.
  621. >Well, at least you’d like to think that.
  622. >You put your pencils down for a minute and stretch your hand.
  623. >Slight cramps, nothing to worry about.
  624. >Though you are starting to feel lightheaded as well….
  625. >Butterscotch seems to notice you’ve stopped.
  627. >”Is everything okay, Mr. Anon?”
  628. >You don’t immediately respond.
  629. >You’re too busy thinking of a way to get Butterscotch to trust you faster.
  630. >Or a way to be able to get her to stop hiding behind your easel.
  631. >There must be something….
  633. >”M-Mr. Anon?”
  634. >You shake your head as you snap back into focus.
  635. >As you come to, you realize that Butterscotch was standing next to your easel, no longer hidden behind it.
  636. >This was… remarkable.
  637. >Her lustrous, lime-colored eyes were full of splendor.
  638. >Her rosy cheeks lightly sprinkled with black freckles.
  639. >The fullness of her body was more noticeable to you now, although her posture seemed to be trying to hide it.
  640. >Even though she was larger than other moth ponies around here, it didn’t subtract from her elegance in any way.
  641. >She stands looking at you worriedly with a gentleness only matched by mares significantly older than she was.
  642. >It makes you ponder whether her inherent matriarchal trait was something that was common.
  643. >All of these small details… your lightheadedness must be talking control of your senses.
  644. >Butterscotch blinks at you, her antennae drooping slightly.
  645. >As remarkable as it was to be able to gaze at her for so long, you notice the look of concern grow on her face.
  647. >Butterscotch nervously waves a hoof at you.
  648. >”Are… y-you okay?”
  649. >You shake your head and rub your eyes, groaning loudly.
  650. “Fine. I’m fine…. Long, long evening.”
  651. >Butterscotch flutters her wings and squeaks worriedly.
  652. >”Did… d-did I do something wrong? I hope I’m n-not bothering you, or-“
  653. “No, it’s not you at all. Don’t worry.”
  654. >Butterscotch gives you another concerned look.
  655. >As hard as it is, you refrain from keeping eye contact with her.
  656. >You’ve finally managed to crack her shell it seems.
  657. >But just a crack… nothing more.
  659. “I think I should head home. I’m feeling sick and-“
  660. >Butterscotch squeaks worriedly.
  661. >”O-oh….”
  662. >You begin to pack up your booth.
  663. “Don’t worry about me. I’ll be okay. I think I should just rest for the remainder of the night.”
  664. >She gives you another motherly look of concern.
  665. “Maybe I’m still having trouble getting used to this reversed sleep schedule, who knows?”
  666. >”C-can… I do something to help?”
  667. >You shake your head.
  668. “You should go back to reading. Don’t let me distract you or anything.”
  669. >You wanted to further your relationship with Butterscotch, increase your trust and friendship more, but it would be best to continue to take it easy.
  670. >Plus, you truly weren’t feeling well.
  672. >You load yourself up and prepare to walk home.
  673. >Butterscotch picks up her book off the ground.
  674. >She turns and looks at you, her face still showing worry.
  675. >”Please take care of y-yourself, Mr. Anon.”
  676. >You nod.
  677. “I’ll be completely fine, Butterscotch.”
  678. >You feel as if she can tell you’re lying.
  679. >That maybe her maternal instincts.
  680. >Or maybe you’re a bad liar.
  682. >You give her a weak smile.
  683. >Her eyes nervously move around as her cheeks redden.
  684. >You wave to her and begin to walk home.
  686. >”G-good night, Mr. Anon.”
  688. ~
  690. ------------------------------------------------------------------------
  692. Part III
  694. >As it turns out, you weren’t completely fine.
  695. >You’ve been stuck at home for a few days feeling downright awful.
  696. >Plenty of rest and a bunch of homemade soup didn’t help either.
  698. >You lay in your bed with your sketchpad.
  699. >In your past few days at home, you’ve been drawing almost exclusively headshots of Butterscotch.
  700. >All of the sketches shared the same expression: concern.
  701. >You were having trouble getting beyond that one emotion.
  702. >Maybe it was your illness.
  703. >Maybe you were just tired.
  704. >No, maybe you were feeling guilty about your fixation with Butterscotch.
  705. >You initially believed that your fascination with her revolved around her timidity.
  706. >You aren’t quite sure anymore.
  707. >Now that you’ve been able to crack her shell, the weight of your obsession is overbearing.
  708. >Maybe you should get rid of all of your sketches of her, or-
  710. >*knock knock knock*
  712. >A few gentle knocks on your window cause your heart to skip a beat.
  713. >You usually didn’t get visitors, especially not at this time of night.
  714. >And DEFINITELY not the kinds that knock on your window.
  715. >You close your sketchpad and put it on your nightstand.
  716. >With more effort than you’d like, you throw yourself off of your bed and head over to your window.
  717. >You pull the curtain to the side and gaze upon your late night visitor.
  718. >A fluffy white mare with a buttery mane waves nervously at you from the other side.
  719. “Butterscotch!?”
  720. >”H-hello, Mr. Anon!”
  722. >You scratch your head.
  723. “W-what a wonderful surprise!”
  724. >Butterscotch lets out a happy high-pitched squeak.
  725. >”I h-haven’t seen you in d-days!”
  726. “Yeah, I’ve been… a bit under the weather.”
  727. >You cough loudly, causing Butterscotch to jump backwards slightly.
  728. >After realizing she’s safe outside your home, she buzzes back to you, pressing her hooves against your window.
  729. >Even at your own home she has to have something in between the two of you.
  730. >Not the “Great Easel,” no, but the “Great Window.”
  731. >Whatever makes her feel comfortable.
  733. >Butterscotch begins to whisper and squeak under her breathe.
  734. >”…I-I was worried sick….”
  735. >You cough loudly once again.
  736. “Excuse me, sorry…. Bad cough. What were you saying?”
  737. >She responds with frantic squeaks, her cheeks a fiery red.
  738. >”N-n-nothing! Nothing at all!”
  739. >You raise your eyebrow at her.
  740. “Well… would you like to come in?”
  741. >She shakes her head, her antennae bobbing cutely from side to side.
  742. >”I don’t want to impose, Mr. Anon. I-I just wanted to see how you were!”
  743. “Butterscotch, that’s really kind of y-“
  744. >”Oh, and I-I brought you something!”
  746. >Butterscotch reaches down and picks up a basket.
  747. >You open your window and receive your gift.
  748. >A sweet aroma fills your bedroom as you take the basket.
  749. “This… this smells amazing! What is it?”
  750. >Butterscotch perches her forehooves on your windowsill.
  751. >”Open it!”
  752. >You sit on the floor and put the basket down.
  753. >You do as she says, gently unwrapping the basket.
  754. >Another happy high-pitched squeak meets your eardrums as you gaze upon a number of colorful mangoes and various sweets.
  755. >The sweet aroma intensifies, filling your bedroom in a wonderful scent.
  756. “Wow, look at that…. Butterscotch, you didn’t have to-“
  757. >”I r-really hope you enjoy them, Mr. Anon!”
  758. >You unwrap a candy and eat it.
  759. “Mmm… butterscotch. What a tasty coincidence.”
  760. >Butterscotch’s wings happily flutter as you open another confectionary.
  762. >”I-I’m so happy that you like them!”
  763. >She beams at you as you eat another sweet.
  764. >You’ve never seen her this elated before.
  765. >It’s a bit frightening….
  766. >You begin peeling a mango, wondering why Butterscotch brought you this food.
  767. >Might as well ask….
  768. >What could go wrong?
  770. “Hey, Butterscotch.”
  771. >”Yes, Mr. Anon?”
  772. “I really appreciate you bringing me this wonderful food, but… why did you bring it?”
  773. >The flutter of Butterscotch’s wings slow to a stop.
  774. >She gives you a big frown.
  775. >”W-what do you mean?”
  776. “Well… I feel as if you’re somewhat intimidated by me. It’s odd that you-“
  777. >”Intimidated? Ha! I-I am NOT!”
  778. >Butterscotch scrunches her face in mock-disbelief at you.
  779. “Really now?”
  780. >She buzzes and squeaks angrily.
  781. >”I’m not scared of you! T-that’s just silly!”
  783. >You feel like testing her bravery.
  784. “Well… if you aren’t scared of me… why don’t you come in and join me?”
  785. >Butterscotch’s face reddens as she continues to scrunch at you.
  786. “I mean, these mangoes look and smell terrific.”
  787. >You give her a sly smile.
  788. >You don’t expect her to take the bait, but you can’t help but enjoy seeing her face scrunched up.
  789. >It’s… cute.
  790. >To your surprise, Butterscotch lifts herself off of the ground and flies into your bedroom.
  791. >She shakes nervously as she gently lands a few feet away from you.
  792. >”Ha! S-see! Who’s scared now?”
  793. >You calmly toss a candy to her, causing it to land a few inches in front of her.
  794. >She jumps backwards, squeaking in fear.
  796. >You can’t help but laugh.
  797. >Breathing heavily, Butterscotch angrily glares at you.
  798. >”T-that’s… not… funny… Mr. Anon!”
  799. >She picks up the candy and throws it back at you.
  800. >You coolly catch it and put it back in the basket.
  801. >”Hmph. Well? I’m here, aren’t I?”
  802. “Yeah, you are in fact here. You sure showed me.”
  803. >Butterscotch puffs out her chest.
  804. >”That’s right! Well… now what?”
  805. >You motion to the basket.
  806. “Would you like to join me?”
  808. >Butterscotch squeaks and shakes her head.
  809. >”I-I… already ate….”
  810. >She blushes and kicks a hoof at the ground.
  811. >That excuse again….
  812. >You sigh and begin to pack up the basket.
  813. >Butterscotch notices your disappointment, and flutters her wings at you.
  814. >”H-how about a tour of your home while I’m here?”
  815. “Uh….”
  816. >”If you’re not feeling well, w-we don’t have to….”
  817. >You scratch your head.
  818. >A tour could be fun, actually.
  819. >Plus, it’d be a nice way for you and Butterscotch to bond.
  820. >You get up from the floor with the basket of treats in hand.
  821. “You know what? Let’s do it. A tour of my humble abode.”
  822. >Butterscotch beams at you.
  823. “However, please excuse any mess you may see….”
  824. >She slowly trots over to you, shaking slightly.
  825. “Well, lets begin in here.”
  826. >You gesture around your room.
  827. “This, of course, is my bedroom. I sleep in here.”
  828. >”Who would have known…?”
  829. “Basic stuff here; small bed, nightstand, chest of drawers, a desk….”
  830. >Butterscotch nods, all of her attention on you.
  831. “Cool. Got any questions?”
  832. >She shakes her head, her antennae cutely swaying from side to side.
  833. >”Looks pretty standard, Mr. Anon!”
  834. >You give her a weak smile.
  835. “Alright, onward to the living room.”
  837. >Butterscotch lets out long, happy squeaks as you lead her into the living room.
  838. >They are pleasantly melodic, quite unlike anything you’ve heard so far.
  839. >The gal was definitely enjoying herself.
  840. “This is….”
  841. >You clear your throat.
  842. “… the living room. The heart and soul of my home.”
  843. >You motion proudly around the living room.
  844. “Standard stuff here, too. Couch, end tables, coffee table, bookshelf….”
  845. >You turn and see Butterscotch staring at said bookshelf.
  846. >She carefully runs a hoof along all of the books.
  847. >”What are all of these books about, Anon?”
  848. >You slowly walk over to her.
  849. “These are sketchbooks I’ve filled throughout my journey of Equestria.”
  851. >Butterscotch’s eyes widen.
  852. >”You traveled all over Equestria!?”
  853. >You nod.
  854. “When I first arrived in this world, I was overwhelmed by everything that I saw. It was similar to my own world in a few ways, but the number of differences was staggering.”
  855. >Butterscotch stares at you, listening intently.
  856. “It was worrisome at first, you know? Not being on my own world anymore. But I learned to adapt quickly.”
  857. >Butterscotch nods, urging you to continue.
  858. “I didn’t want to sit still in one place, either. So… I made the decision to travel the entire land, or as much of it as was feasible. As a way to learn everything about this world, I documented what I discovered with my art.”
  860. >You reach over and pull out one of many black books.
  861. “All of these sketchbooks have drawing and notes on what I found.”
  862. >You flip to a random page and show it Butterscotch.
  863. “See? This one has drawings of the landscape of Dust Valley, as well as all of the local vegetation and… residents.”
  864. >You watch as Butterscotch flips through the Dust Valley sketchbook.
  865. >”This is remarkable. So all of these books are just like it?”
  866. >You nod.
  868. >”Incredible. I’ve never EVER been outside of Dust Valley. In fact, most moth ponies here haven’t.”
  869. “Really?”
  870. >”Yeah…. We’ve always been somewhat reclusive. Then again you already know that, huh, Mr. Anon?”
  871. >You nod, reaching over and pulling out a few more books.
  872. “Saddle Arabia, Tenochtitlan Basin, Hollow Shades… yeah, I’ve journeyed to many places in Equestria.”
  873. >”W-wow….”
  874. “Never for more than a few weeks at a time, though. While I was a welcome visitor to most places, I knew when it was time to leave.”
  875. >Butterscotch turns to you with a worried look on her face and her bottom lip trembling.
  876. >”D-does that mean… you’ll leave here as well?”
  878. >You think for a moment before shrugging.
  879. “I can’t say for certain.”
  880. >You see Butterscotch fidget slightly.
  881. >”If you aren’t leaving… th-then why have you stayed in Dust Valley for so long?”
  882. >You start to reshelf your sketchbooks.
  883. “I’m… not sure.”
  884. >She lets out a low, worried squeak.
  885. >”O-oh….”
  886. >You turn and give Butterscotch a friendly smile.
  887. “What I CAN say is that I’ve enjoyed my time here in Dust Valley the most.”
  889. >Butterscotch’s worried look slowly turns into one of contentment.
  890. >”I’m so glad to hear that, Mr. Anon.”
  891. >You continue to reshelf books as Butterscotch flips open the Hollow Shades book.
  892. >”Bat… ponies?”
  893. >You nod as she gazes upon your sketches in pure amazement.
  894. “They weren’t too unlike the moth ponies here. They were friendly, nocturnal, and a bit… loud.”
  895. >Butterscotch hands you the sketchbook back, scrunching her face at you.
  896. >”I-I’m not loud!”
  897. “I never said YOU were loud.”
  898. >”Well, g-good! Because I’m not!”
  899. >You stick your tongue out at her.
  900. >She sticks her own tongue out at you.
  901. >Long, blue, and proboscis-like, it catches you off guard.
  902. >Startled, you jump backwards a bit.
  903. >Butterscotch laughs at your slight cowardice.
  904. >”What’s the matter, Mr. Anon?”
  905. >You shake your head, clutching your chest.
  906. “I forgot… you moth ponies…. had tongues like that. Whew….”
  907. >Butterscotch gives you the Hollow Shades sketchbook back, giggling quietly.
  909. >You groan, a bit embarrassed to have been so startled in front of Butterscotch.
  910. >She seems to notice, and gives you a friendly wave.
  911. >”Shall we continue our tour?”
  912. >You nod.
  913. “Good idea. Though there isn’t much left.”
  914. >You lead Butterscotch into the middle of the living room.
  915. “Kitchen is over there, and bathroom is right behind us.”
  916. >You motion around.
  917. “And… yeah.”
  918. >Butterscotch gives you a confused look.
  919. >”Is that really all?”
  920. “Yup, I think that’ll do it. Simple little place. Nothing too crazy.”
  921. >”Oh, alright… mind if I look around?”
  922. “Please! Be my guest.”
  924. >Butterscotch’s wings flutter as she trots around your home.
  925. >You sit down on your couch, kicking your legs up and relaxing.
  926. >”You live really similarly to us moth ponies….”
  927. “We really are quite alike. That ‘s the first thing I noticed when I arrived here.”
  928. >”Mhmm.”
  929. “You moth ponies and every other creatures I’ve met. In fact, everything I’ve ever encountered has been sentient to a degree. The different species of ponies being the most intelligent.”
  930. >Butterscotch scans the entire room, rubbing her chin.
  931. >”W-wait a minute… where is your mess? You said ‘excuse any mess you see.’ I see no mess here.”
  932. >You bend over and pick up a napkin from underneath your coffee table.
  933. “Here we go. And now my house is clean.”
  935. >”You’re such a jokester, Mr. Anon.”
  936. >You lay back a bit and close your eyes.
  937. >You were glad Butterscotch came to visit you.
  938. >It’s made you feel much better.
  939. >Butterscotch quietly clears her throat.
  940. >”H-how are you feeling?”
  941. “Great. Really great.”
  942. >Butterscotch lets out a series of happy melodic squeaks.
  943. >Gentle and resonant, her happy squeaks were becoming more pleasant to listen to.
  944. >You sigh as you listen to the pleasant sounds.
  945. >Unfortunately, they only last a few moments.
  946. >Probably because Butterscotch realized you weren’t responding to her.
  948. >”Those butterscotches you ate help with sickness. One of my friends makes them.”
  949. “No kidding?”
  950. >She nods.
  951. >”I ask that he make them extra yummy for you… so you could feel better.”
  952. “Your friend definitely knows what he’s doing. These butterscotches have made me feel so much better.”
  953. >You yawn loudly.
  954. “And… tired….”
  955. >You suppress another yawn as Butterscotch trots over to you.
  957. >”Sounds like your ready to fall asleep, huh?”
  958. >You nod.
  959. “Yeah, these candies made me really tired. I may have had too many….”
  960. >Butterscotch offers to help you to your bed, but you politely decline.
  961. “I’ll be okay. Let me walk you out, and I’ll head off to sleep.”
  962. >Butterscotch nods as you get up from the couch, giving you a warm smile.
  963. “So, front door or window?”
  964. >”Which w-would you prefer?”
  965. >You laugh.
  966. “I was partly kidding. The front door, of course.”
  967. >”Still such a jokester, Mr. Anon.”
  968. >You lead her to the front door and open it for her.
  969. “Thanks again for the candy and fruit. Really.”
  970. >She kicks at the ground gently.
  971. >Butterscotch beams at you.
  972. >”Don’t thank me. I’m just happy you aren’t m-mad at me or….”
  973. >She squeaks nervously, her cheeks reddening.
  974. >You open your mouth to respond, but Butterscotch turns to walk away.
  975. >”…”
  976. “…”
  977. >”T-take care, Mr. Anon.”
  978. “You do the same, Butterscotch.”
  980. >You slowly close the door with a heavy sigh of relief.
  981. >That went well!
  982. >You can’t give too much thought to it now, as you are deathly tired.
  983. >Off to bed you go, Anon-
  985. *knock knock knock knock knock*
  987. >… nevermind.
  988. >You open your door.
  989. >A familiar fluffy white moth pony stands in your doorway.
  990. >”…”
  991. “Butterscotch? Back so soon?”
  992. >”…”
  993. “Is everything okay? Did you forget-“
  994. >”…”
  995. “Buttersc-“
  997. >Butterscotch trots up to you and wraps a forehoof around you.
  998. >You freeze in place, unsure of what to do next.
  999. >She holds you tight, her warmth bringing a feeling you haven’t felt in a while.
  1000. >You hesitate for a moment, Butterscotch gently nuzzling her head into your chest.
  1001. >You slowly put an arm around her, your fingers burying themselves into her plush fur.
  1002. >Not once did you ever expect this to be a reality.
  1003. >Your heart is racing.
  1004. >This can’t be real.
  1005. >No more medicinal candy for you.
  1007. >Eventually Butterscotch lets go of you, her face redder than you’ve ever seen.
  1008. >You try and look into her eyes, but she avoids your own.
  1009. >She trembles slightly, nervously kicking a hoof at the ground.
  1010. >You cough.
  1011. >”…”
  1012. “…”
  1013. >”…”
  1014. “…”
  1016. >”I’m… g-glad you’re okay….”
  1018. >Once again, she turns and trots away before you can respond.
  1019. >You watch as she disappears into the distance, still unsure as to what really just happened.
  1021. >You slowly shut your door with a smirk on your face.
  1023. ~
  1025. --------------------------------------------------------------------
  1027. Part IV [Final]
  1030. >”Thanks for walking us back home, Miss Butterscotch.”
  1031. >”Y-yeah. Thank you!”
  1032. >You give the young moth fillies a warm smile.
  1033. “It was my pleasure, you two.”
  1034. >”See you next week!”
  1035. >The older one waves goodbye to you and heads inside his home.
  1036. >His younger sibling stands timidly next to you.
  1037. “Is something wrong, honey?”
  1038. >The moth child frowns at you.
  1039. >”I haven’t seen Mr. Anon in a few weeks….”
  1041. >You pat the filly gently on the head.
  1042. “Oh, sweetheart, he’s-“
  1043. >”Is he ever going to come back?”
  1044. >You feel a heavy weight in your chest, but you maintain your composure and force a weak smile.
  1045. “Of course he will come back. Mr. Anon loves it here.”
  1046. >The filly sighs and shakes her head.
  1047. “This is his home. He wouldn’t dream of abandoning it.”
  1048. >”If y-you say so, Miss Butterscotch.”
  1049. >You give the filly a reassuring hug.
  1050. “He’ll be back before you know it.”
  1051. >The filly hugs you back.
  1052. >”Okay, Miss Butterscotch."
  1053. “Now run inside and enjoy your weekend, okay?”
  1054. >The moth filly gives you a small smile before nodding and heading inside.
  1056. >The façade of your reassurance vanishes as the moth filly closes the door behind her.
  1057. >You turn and begin your slow walk back.
  1058. >Mr. Anon had promised you that he would return to the Village in a few weeks’ time.
  1059. >It’s been nearly a month, and there has been no sign of him.
  1060. >You’ve been trying your absolute best to assure yourself and others that he was well and safe.
  1061. >As much as you didn’t want to admit it, you were starting to doubt that.
  1062. >It’s been hard on the moth fillies and colts; though they worried about never receiving new drawings from him again, their primary cause of worry was for his safety.
  1063. >They aren’tt the only ones suffering; the past week has been exceptionally rough on you as well.
  1064. >You’ve found it difficult to do more than foalsit and aid at the elementary.
  1065. >You’re just worried about Mr. Anon.
  1066. >You want him to come back soon.
  1068. >At least he had said good-bye to you.
  1069. >Though he didn’t hug you again….
  1070. >You kind of hoped that he would.
  1071. >He just sort of… waved and smiled.
  1073. >You hadn’t talked about the hug the two of you shared when you went to check up on him.
  1074. >He had taken quite a few of those medicinal candies you brought him, so he might not have remembered it.
  1075. >Still…
  1076. >What if you would never hug him again?
  1077. >What if you never see him again?
  1079. >You let out a loud squeak in frustration.
  1080. >You rub your eyes with a hoof.
  1081. >Don’t cry.
  1082. >Don’t cry….
  1083. >Everything will be alright.
  1084. >Mr. Anon will be back soon.
  1085. >And things can get back to the way they were.
  1087. >Just keep telling yourself that.
  1088. >Don’t get brought down….
  1089. >Keep telling yourself it will all be okay and it will be.
  1091. >You continue onwards, your vision slightly blurred.
  1093. ~
  1095. >”Y-y-you’re leaving!?”
  1096. >You nod as you begin to pack up your booth and all your supplies.
  1097. “Yeah, isn’t it crazy that this ‘Princess Twilight’ wants me to go back with her to Ponyville?”
  1098. >You carefully place your sketches and extra paper in your portfolio.
  1099. “I’m even shocked that we talked for as long as we did!”
  1100. >You glance over and see Butterscotch shuffle uncomfortably.
  1101. >”W-what… did you talk about?”
  1102. “Well, we talked about me for a bit. Where I came from and stuff of that nature, though I tried not to get too into that.”
  1103. >You start to pack up your drawing tools.
  1104. “Then we moved onto what I do around here, and what I’ve done during my time in Equestria.”
  1105. >Butterscotch gives you a shaky nod.
  1106. “It was kind of funny actually. She spent the good first bit of our chat making sure I wasn’t hostile or some sort of evil villain.”
  1107. >”You? H-hostile!?”
  1108. >She scoffs loudly.
  1109. >”What a silly assumption… who is this “Princess” kidding?”
  1110. >You laugh and shrug.
  1111. “She had all the right to be weary at first. But I never thought that she would ask me to head back to Ponyville with her.”
  1112. >You throw your things in your bag.
  1113. >Butterscotch passes you a few things to put in your bag.
  1114. >”W-what exactly are you doing in… Ponyville?”
  1115. “Well… Princess Twilight wants me to present some of my sketchbooks to some important ponies. She didn’t say who, but asserted to me that they would be very interested in what I’ve done.”
  1116. >”That’s amazing, Mr. Anon….”
  1117. >You give her a big smile.
  1118. “That, and she has asked me to do a few paintings of her and some of her dearest friends.”
  1119. >”I see….”
  1120. >You nod happily.
  1121. “Mhmm. Isn’t this exciting, Butterscotch?”
  1123. >Butterscotch whimpers, frantically clopping her hooves on the ground.
  1124. >”B-but… what about… the Village!? And what of the young fillies and colts? And… what about m-”
  1125. >She trails off into a whisper.
  1126. >You open your mouth to ask her to repeat herself, but she cuts you off with a number of nervous squeaks.
  1127. >”What if I n-never see you again?”
  1129. >You finish closing up your portfolio and hoist it over your shoulder, along with the rest of your provisions.
  1130. “Butterscotch, I’m not leaving for ever! That would be silly.”
  1131. >She shakes her head.
  1132. >”B-but how long w-will you be gone?”
  1133. “I shouldn’t be gone for more than a few weeks. Oh! That reminds me.”
  1134. >You dig in your pockets and pull out a rusty key.
  1135. “Here is the key to my home. Just in case of anything.”
  1136. >You gently place it in Butterscotch’s hoof.
  1137. >”Just in case…?”
  1138. “Feel free to check up on my home if you need to. Or if you feel compelled to read any of my books, you know where they are.”
  1139. >Butterscotch begins to mumble something.
  1140. “You’re more than welcome to use my kitchen, too. If you do make food there, I just ask that you clean up after yourself!”
  1142. >You give her a playful grin and a thumbs up.
  1143. >Butterscotch shakes her head and sighs.
  1144. >She slowly looks up at you, her luminescent lime-green eyes meeting yours.
  1145. >She gives you… that look:
  1146. >The look of concern, anxiety, confusion, and uncertainty.
  1147. >You can see it clearly in her eyes; she genuinely thinks you will abandon everything here.
  1148. >Now you feel guilty about this entire trip.
  1150. >You think for a moment:
  1151. >What would be the harm in asking her to come with you?
  1153. >You’re sure you could convince Princess Twilight to allow Butterscotch to tag along.
  1154. >Butterscotch definitely deserves a vacation….
  1155. >She would have the opportunity to see the world beyond Dust Valley.
  1156. >She’d get to see the beauty of Equestria that you’ve seen.
  1157. >That alone would be enough of a reason for her to go!
  1158. >What else….?
  1159. >Princess Twilight offered to house you and feed you….
  1160. >Butterscotch would have a wonderful bed and great food anytime she needed.
  1161. >Plus, she could have time to herself.
  1162. >Peace and quiet.
  1163. >No screaming and easily-excitable children.
  1164. >She’s always so busy taking care of the foals in town.
  1165. >…the foals.
  1166. >Butterscotch is incredibly passionate about the fillies and colts in the Village.
  1167. >That’s exactly why she couldn’t come with you.
  1168. >There is no way she would leave them behind.
  1169. >She cares too much about them to do that.
  1170. >Unfortunately, that settles it.
  1172. >You kneel down to her and look into her eyes.
  1173. “You know I won’t be gone forever… right, Butterscotch?”
  1174. >She gives a nervous squeak as her eyes continue to show her true emotions:
  1175. >The poor mare is worried, even with you trying your best to assure her that everything will be okay.
  1176. >But it’s not right for you to ask her to drop everything and go with her.
  1177. >You’re not even sure she would say yes.
  1178. >You feel awful about leaving now….
  1179. >You just want to hug her, like you did the other night.
  1180. >But… you’re not sure if you should.
  1182. >It might send the wrong message.
  1183. >It might suggest that you were never going to come back.
  1184. >It might hurt her more than comfort her….
  1186. >You give her a friendly smile.
  1187. “I’ll be back to the Village before you know it.”
  1188. >”…”
  1189. “I wouldn’t just abandon this place. I love it here, Butterscotch. This is my home.”
  1191. >A smile slowly forms on Butterscotch’s face.
  1192. >She sighs and lets out a warm, quiet squeak.
  1193. >”Mr. Anon….”
  1194. >You whisper to her:
  1195. “I’m not going to abandon what I have here.”
  1196. >A soft tinge of red appears on her cheeks.
  1197. >”You… you promise, Mr. Anon?”
  1198. >You nod.
  1199. “I promise.”
  1201. ~
  1203. >You peek through the glass of the Village pharmacy.
  1204. >An older moth pony stallion is at the counter, his head buried into his hooves.
  1205. >His body gently rises and falls.
  1206. >You giggle as you head towards the front door.
  1207. >As you walk inside, an overhead bell lets out a gentle ring.
  1208. >The moth pony apothecary slowly lifts his head up.
  1209. >He gives you a quick glance, before lifting the rest of his body up.
  1210. >”Ah, Butterscotch. So good to see you, dear.”
  1212. >You trot over and give him a smile.
  1213. “Asleep on the job, Charentais?”
  1214. >The apothecary scoffs and shakes his head, adjusting his glasses.
  1215. >”Of course not! I was TRYING to listen for termites.”
  1216. >He knocks on the wooden counter.
  1217. >”The little buggers have been appearing all over the pharmacy recently.”
  1218. >You blink at him.
  1219. “Charentais….”
  1220. >You knock a hoof on the counter.
  1221. “Termites? Really?”
  1223. >”Miss Butterscotch, please!”
  1224. >You laugh at his irritation.
  1225. “No need to lie, Charentais. I won’t tell your boss that you were sleeping on the job!”
  1226. >Charentais adjusts his glasses again, glaring at you.
  1227. >”Is there something I can help you with, Butterscotch?”
  1228. >You nod, and pull out a small bottle from your saddlebag.
  1229. “I just need to have this refilled, please.”
  1230. >Charentais takes the bottle from you and examines it carefully.
  1231. >”Hmmm….”
  1232. >He peers at you over his glasses.
  1234. >”Headaches still bothering you?”
  1235. >You nod.
  1236. “I’ve been getting them more often....”
  1237. >Charentais reaches underneath the counter and pulls out a mortar and pestle.
  1238. >”You’ve been following my instructions on taking this medicine, right?”
  1239. >He pulls out three vials and arranges them neatly on the counter.
  1240. “I have. ‘Add a few drops to a cup of hot tea. Drink once cup daily.’”
  1241. >The stallion grunts as he trots over to a shelf full of herbs.
  1242. >”The tea you drink is hot right?”
  1243. “Yes, Charentais.”
  1244. >He reaches for a lavender-colored flower.
  1245. >”Hot, right? Not warm, cold, or room temperature, but freshly-brewed hot?”
  1246. >You sigh and nod, getting a bit more frustrated.
  1247. “Yes, Charentais! I drank the tea hot and-“
  1248. >”And you’re SURE you added a couple of drops to your tea, correct? Not ONE drop or not a TRIO of drops, but-“
  1249. >You squeak loudly.
  1250. “CHARENTAIS. I followed the instructions EXACTLY as written.”
  1252. >He rolls his eyes at you.
  1253. >”Well you don’t have to get snippy with me. I’m just looking out for your health, Butterscotch.”
  1254. >Charentais places the plant next to the mortar and pestle, before trotting over to another shelf.
  1255. >He pulls down a couple of shakers, each marked with a different number of ticks.
  1256. “When is Mr. Anon returning?”
  1257. >You don’t answer him.
  1258. >You frown and put your head down.
  1259. >The apothecary places the shakers next to the rest of his ingredients.
  1260. >He pulls a metal box from a drawer and places it on the counter.
  1261. >He clears his throat and raises an eyebrow at you.
  1262. >”You don’t know.”
  1263. >You shake your head.
  1265. >”Take a look while I do this, Butterscotch.”
  1266. “S-sure.”
  1267. >You lift your head and watch as Charentais opens his metal box.
  1268. >Ingredients and tools are neatly laid out on the counter.
  1269. >”You talk about Mr. Anon a lot.”
  1270. “… he is my friend.”
  1271. >Charentais begins to pluck petals from the flower, placing them in the mortar.
  1272. >”I understand. You were worried sick about him weeks ago.”
  1273. >He grabs a shaker and shakes it over the mortar once.
  1274. “I was. I was really concerned for his health.”
  1275. >Charentais nods as he grabs another shaker and lightly taps it over the mortar.
  1276. >”You didn’t talk to me about much else EXCEPT for Mr. Anon.”
  1277. “…”
  1278. >He puts the pestle in his mouth and begins to grind the ingredients.
  1280. >You sigh deeply.
  1281. “I just wanted to make sure he was okay… He was missing for a few days, and….”
  1282. >You feel your head start to pound.
  1283. >You close your eyes and rub your head.
  1284. >Charentais puts the pestle down and picks up one of the small vials.
  1285. >”You really miss him.”
  1286. “W-what!?”
  1287. >He pours the contents of the vial into the your bottle.
  1288. >”It’s okay if you miss him, Butterscotch. He’s your friend, after all.”
  1289. >You let out an angry squeak.
  1290. “Charentais!”
  1291. >He grabs another vial and pours a few drops in the bottle.
  1292. >”There is nothing wrong with missing a friend, unless….”
  1293. >He gives you a quick glance.
  1294. >”You don’t think of him as your friend?”
  1296. >You scoff loudly.
  1297. “That is just silly! Of course I think he is my friend!”
  1298. >”Mhmm.”
  1299. >Charentais takes the third vial and empties it into your bottle, causing the brew to sizzle.
  1300. >He pulls out a metal rod from the box and begins to stir the concoction.
  1301. >You knock your hooves together.
  1302. “I’m sure he’d be worried about me if I vanished for a couple of days.”
  1303. >Your medicine becomes a nice blue color.
  1304. >”Nearly done….”
  1305. >The older moth removes the rod from the bottle and adds in the crushed herbs.
  1306. >He seals the bottle and gives it a hard shake.
  1307. >”Mr. Anon will be back before you know it.”
  1308. >You nod as he unplugs the bottle and places it under his nostrils.
  1309. >“Not quite.”
  1310. >He puts a few more of the crushed herbs in the medicine.
  1311. “I’m just worried about him… he said he’d be back by now.”
  1312. >Charentais removes his glasses and rubs his forehead with a cloth.
  1313. >”I’m sure he’s okay, Butterscotch.”
  1314. >You let out a low, nervous squeak.
  1316. >The apothecary begins to replace all of his materials and ingredients.
  1317. >”I think you’re missing him more than you’re letting on.”
  1318. >You remain quiet, your head hurting a bit more.
  1319. >Charentais covers your bottle and gives it one more shake.
  1320. >It’s contents go from blue to a deep purple color.
  1321. >He gives you a smile and calmly hands you the medicine.
  1322. >”All done.”
  1323. >You take it and put it in your saddlebag.
  1324. “What do I owe you?”
  1325. >”No cost.”
  1326. >You shake your head.
  1327. “No, no. How much do I owe you?”
  1328. >Charentais yawns and puts his head down.
  1329. >”Nothing. Ugh… I really need a vacation. I wish I could have gone with Mr. Anon.”
  1330. “Really? You’d have gone with him?”
  1331. >He shakes his head.
  1332. >”Well… we don’t know each other. It’d have been odd for me to have asked to tag along.”
  1333. >He lets out another yawn.
  1334. >”But it WOULD be rather enjoyable to see more of Equestria. I bet the geography beyond Dust Valley is quite… stunning….”
  1335. >He starts to breathe slow and heavy.
  1337. >You knock on the counter causing him to jerk slightly.
  1338. >”What? I’m awake….”
  1339. >You sigh and begin digging in your saddlebag.
  1340. “I’m going to leave you some money here, okay? So just take it or-“
  1341. >”You have feelings for Mr. Anon.”
  1342. >You squeak loudly in shock.
  1343. >Charentais puts his hoof up at you.
  1344. >”Refrain from loud noises. Your headache will only get worse.”
  1345. >You put your head down and whisper:
  1346. “I d-don’t know what you mean by FEELINGS b-but-“
  1347. >”His absence has had a negative effect on you. You know, the headaches?”
  1348. >You rub your head gently.
  1349. >”Have you been eating properly?”
  1351. >You shake your head.
  1352. “N-no. I’ve been trying to but….”
  1353. >”Okay, Butterscotch.”
  1354. >Charentais reaches under the counter and pulls out a large jar full of tea bags.
  1355. >”These will help you feel better. I make them myself. Have a cup of tea every night. Add the medicine to it.”
  1356. >He slides you the jar.
  1357. “Oh, I can’t take all of these….”
  1358. >Charentais pulls out another four jars from underneath the counter.
  1359. >”I have plenty.”
  1361. >You wearily take the jar and put it in your saddlebag.
  1362. “The tea will help with my headaches?”
  1363. >Charentais nods.
  1364. >“It will. It should help ease your mind, too.”
  1365. >You smile at him.
  1366. “That’s wonder-“
  1367. >”But it won’t help your heart.”
  1368. >Charentais peers at you over his glasses.
  1369. >”Take care of yourself. Imagine how Mr. Anon would feel if he saw you in the state you’re in now.”
  1370. >You shakily nod your head.
  1371. “Th-thanks for this.”
  1372. >”Of course, Miss Butterscotch.”
  1373. “Not just the medicine… the advice, too.”
  1374. >He gives you a smile.
  1375. >”Anytime. Now if you’ll excuse me….”
  1376. >He stretches and lets out a yawn.
  1377. >”…I need to continue checking for termites….”
  1378. >He puts his head down against the counter, and begins snoring shortly after.
  1380. >You quietly exit the pharmacy, heading towards Mr. Anon’s home.
  1382. ~
  1384. >Another night, another thing missing.
  1386. >You take a swig of your hot tea; its warmth invigorating you.
  1387. >You sit outside of Mr. Anon’s home, flipping through the pages of one his journey sketchbooks.
  1388. >With Mr. Anon’s permission, you’ve been going through them, usually for hours at a time.
  1389. >Not only has it been enlightening, but it’s also been helping you keep your mind clear.
  1390. >If only for a few hours….
  1392. >You look over the pages of the Hollow Shades book once again.
  1393. >These “bat ponies” were an interesting curiosity to you.
  1394. >You imagine it would be a treat to meet them one day.
  1395. >In fact, it’d be a treat to leave Dust Valley and travel like Mr. Anon did.
  1396. >All over Equestria….
  1397. >No, no.
  1398. >You couldn’t imagine a retreat like that being realistic for you.
  1399. >No, you prefer the simple life here in the Village.
  1400. >Plus, who would anyone call to foalsit?
  1401. >Or assist at the schoolhouse?
  1403. >You continue to observe Mr. Anon’s sketchbook.
  1404. >It’s amazing how much detail he put into each of these books.
  1405. >Every drawing and sketch is done so delicately.
  1406. >You run a hoof down the page, careful not to ruin his work.
  1407. >It’s easy for you to visualize how Mr. Anon must have looked doing these drawings.
  1408. >A calm stare, a relaxed posture, and a sturdy arm.
  1409. >More focus and patience than anypony you’ve ever known.
  1411. >You calmly shut the sketchbook and take another swig of your tea.
  1412. >Though Charentais was a bit confused about you having “feelings” for Anon, he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to medicine.
  1413. >No headache right now.
  1414. >You are calm and relaxed.
  1415. >But you aren’t entirely happy.
  1416. >You won’t be happy until Mr. Anon comes back.
  1417. >You can’t help but be terribly worried about him.
  1418. >Then again… you can’t help but be worried about everypony.
  1420. >You take another sip of tea.
  1421. >It might be time to head back home soon.
  1422. >You walk inside of Mr. Anon’s house and put the sketchbook back in its proper place.
  1423. >You finish off your tea and head into the kitchen to wash your mug.
  1424. >You hum a happy tune as you dry off the mug and place it on his counter.
  1426. >You return to the living room and grab your saddlebag.
  1427. >You give the apartment one more glance over.
  1428. >Can’t leave a mess in another’s home.
  1429. >Especially Mr. Anon’s!
  1430. >That would be rude!
  1431. >After checking that everything is nice and neat, you head for the exit.
  1432. >You stand in front of the door.
  1433. >Wait, you didn’t check his bedroom!
  1434. >That won’t do!
  1435. >You throw your saddlebag on the couch and trot into his bedroom.
  1437. >You examine his bedroom carefully.
  1438. >Bed is made, floor is clean, no clothes or anything laid out.
  1439. >Spotless.
  1440. >Wonderful, you think to yourself.
  1441. >But what about under the bed?
  1442. >You trot over to his bed and check underneath.
  1443. >Clean as a whistle.
  1444. >Hmm….
  1445. >You check his nightstand.
  1446. >It’s a bit dusty….
  1447. >You want to give it a quick clean, but there is a black book on it.
  1448. >He must of left this one out!
  1449. >You grab it and head for the living room.
  1451. >You check the cover.
  1452. >No title or anything….
  1453. >Is this one of his journey sketchbooks?
  1454. >No, it can’t be.
  1455. >You flip open the book to the first page.
  1456. >There are a lot of sketches in here, some quite detailed.
  1457. >You see some landscapes, random flowers, more landscapes….
  1458. >Oh, this one looks like Mr. Anon!
  1459. >He looks pensive….
  1461. >You continue to look through it.
  1462. >The drawings in this particular sketchbook don’t seem to follow any sort of theme or-
  1463. >…
  1464. >You see what looks like a sketch of you.
  1465. >But that can’t be you….
  1466. >Wow, do you really look like THAT?
  1467. >You turn the page.
  1468. >Another one of you; this time you’re sitting down.
  1469. >Another page: it’s a drawing of your head.
  1470. >This one is more detailed than the others.
  1471. >It seems a bit off, though.
  1472. >It looks like you, but… without any sort of emotion.
  1474. >You continue to flip through the sketchbook.
  1475. >Page after page… a myriad of sketches of yourself.
  1476. >Some even have color now.
  1477. >You begin to wonder why Mr. Anon had done all of these.
  1478. >There is one of you looking a bit peeved with your face scrunched up.
  1479. >…that one does actually look like you.
  1480. >Moving on….
  1481. >As you progress through the book, the images become more detailed.
  1482. >And your emotions have changed.
  1483. >From no emotion to fear, from uncertainty to comfort, from acceptance to happiness.
  1484. >Now most of them are of you smiling.
  1486. >You reach the end of book with an incomplete sketch on the last page.
  1487. >You are drawn appearing calm and jubilant; a big smile spread on your face.
  1488. >It seems that there is supposed to be something next to you, but you can’t make it out.
  1489. >You want to say that it looks like Mr. Anon, but you aren’t really sure.
  1490. >You wish he had finished it so you could know what it is….
  1492. >You close the book and trot over to the couch.
  1493. >You put it in your saddlebag.
  1494. >Mr. Anon wouldn’t mind you borrowing this.
  1495. >These sketches have made you feel quite nice.
  1496. >Flattered, even.
  1497. >He must really like you….
  1498. >Why else would he have drawn all of these?
  1499. >All of the time you spent being scared of him….
  1500. >He just wanted to be your friend.
  1501. >You couldn’t even see that.
  1502. >Then you started to worry about him.
  1503. >That’s when you knew that you liked him, too.
  1504. >But now he’s gone.
  1505. >What if you never see him again?
  1507. >No.
  1508. >Stop that!
  1509. >You shake your head.
  1510. >Mr. Anon will be back any day now.
  1511. >You just know it.
  1512. >For now, you’ll keep the sketchbook close to you.
  1513. >At least until he returns!
  1514. >Then you’ll give it right back.
  1515. >You sit down on his couch and sigh.
  1516. >Even though the sketches have made you feel better, you still fill empty.
  1517. >But you have a renewed hope of Mr. Anon returning soon.
  1519. >You want him to come back and finish this last drawing.
  1520. >You really want to know what it’s supposed to look like.
  1521. >He’ll come back soon.
  1523. >For now, you’ll just have to keep waiting.
  1525. ~
  1527. The End
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