[RGRE] Two Birds, One Stone

Feb 19th, 2019
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  1. As of March 17 2020, I'm redoing the latter section of the story. I didn't like the direction I took the story, so I pissed around for 8 months until I thought of something decent. I'll keep the old branch in at the bottom of the document, and I'll mark it. Search for "[OLD CONTENT]" if you want to see where it left off.
  3. (ongoing)
  4. (Might do away with that "5 years to have kids" thing if I'm going with the "it's not manditory and the girls made an oopsie" angle)
  5. =====
  6. >"Horseapples."
  7. "Yeah, this is the worst."
  8. >Rainbow Dash grunts angrily and throws the letter to the floor.
  9. >"How the heck are we supposed to do this?!" Rainbow yells, stomping her widdle hoofsies onto the ground, "Why would Celestia spring this sorta thing on us? What's even the point?"
  10. >You are Spitfire, and you are in a bind.
  11. >Due to political machinations, you and the rest of the Wonderbolts have received a letter from the Princess herself, "encouraging" you to find a mate as quickly as you can.
  12. >It was some crap about how Equestria's allies were watching them all particularly closely - especially high-profile and incredibly visible military teams such as the Wonderbolts - and that it was time to start practicing what Equestria preached.
  13. >Friendship.
  14. >Companionship.
  15. >Love and tolerance.
  16. >The ability for a mare to be a mare and support a family.
  17. >The letter was full of half-truths and said a great deal of nothing in as many words as could fit on the page, but the message was clear.
  18. >>"Find a stallion and start a family so that our political allies (and "allies") don't think we're full of shit."
  19. >Admittedly, there was a five-year time limit on the whole "bump uglies and make foals" part, but that's not the point.
  20. >And of course, that stupid mailmare somehow wound up in Manehattan instead of your area, so you and half your Wonderbolts got the news a whole two days after everypony else did.
  21. >You know what that means?
  22. >It means that all the good stallions are already taken!
  23. >Soarin' was snatched up by Cloudchaser before you could even talk to him, for example.
  24. >Who are you even going to find?!
  25. >You can't get Mac, because you're terrified of his little sister.
  26. >Caramel is right out, because he's a cunt.
  27. >And don't even get you STARTED on Time Turner.
  28. >Who are you gonna find?
  29. >There's nop-
  30. >"This sucks, Spitfire," groans Rainbow Dash, "I'm gonna go and hang out with Anon. Maybe we can get drunk and he can help me forget all about this."
  31. >...
  32. >Now wait just a second.
  33. ----------
  34. "So, uh..." you mumble as you and Dash fly down to Ponyville, "What's this 'Anon' character like?"
  35. >Rainbow Dash puts on a burst of speed with a powerful flap of her wings and darts in front of you.
  36. >As a demonstration of her flying skills, she's now flying backwards in front of you and is keeping pace all the while.
  37. >"Ohmygosh!" she gushes, "He's so awesome! You can totally relax around him! When you tell those jokes about stallions and stuff, he just laughs! Like, and he actually thinks it's funny!"
  38. >She does a little spin and giggles.
  39. >"He knows how to cook, and he loves going jogging with me, and he-"
  40. >Without warning, Rainbow Dash is in your face.
  41. >It happens so quickly that for a heart-stopping moment, you're afraid that she just lost control and was about to fall into you.
  42. >But she stops just a foot away from your face.
  43. >"Spitfire. You know those wriggle things on the end of his hooves?"
  44. "Vaguely," you allow, having only met the human (whom you now know is named "Anon") once, "They're like a minotaur's paws, right?"
  45. >Rainbow shakes her head 'no'.
  46. >"Nuh-uh. They're WAY better. They're thin and long instead of short and stubby, for one thing. And he can do so much more delicate work with them than a dumb old minotaur cow could! They're good for ear-scritches, and belly rubs, and mane-petting, and tuft scratches, and wing massages, and-"
  47. >Wew, filly!
  48. >All this talk about t-tuft scratches is getting you hot under the collar.
  49. >Rainbow Dash doesn't seem to notice your sudden sweating.
  50. >"-And there's always this one spot between my teats that's itchy after working out, 'cuz it gets wet from sweat, and he can wriggle one of this finger things into there WAY better than a hoof can! He's the best!"
  51. >Rainbow smiles at you earnestly for a moment, but then tilts her head in innocent confusion.
  52. >"Why do you ask?"
  53. >...
  54. >...this is going to be a fun discussion.
  55. ----------------------
  56. >You are Anon, and gardening work is harder than you remember it being.
  57. "So THIS is why grandma always got a bunch of us to work on it at the same time..."
  58. >Not only do you have to weed and water it, but you have to get on your hands and knees and MAINTAIN it, too.
  59. >You try to sit up into a kneeling position, but your back protests and makes this a hard going.
  60. "When did I turn into such an old man? I can't be old if I'm in my twenties."
  61. >"Anon! Hey, Anon!"
  62. "...Rainbow Dash?"
  63. >You pointedly ignore the old man grunts you make as you get to your feet and hobble (ONLY A LITTLE BIT) over to the mare who is now galloping over to you.
  64. >As usual, all your attention is focused on the blue mare.
  65. >Partly because she's a rad friend you like to hang around with.
  66. >Partly because you need to pay attention to how you react to and recover from eighty pounds of horse slamming into you.
  67. >Needless to say, that's exactly what happens.
  68. >Rainbow rears up as soon as she gets close enough and braces her entire upper body against your chest.
  69. >Outstretched hooves end up at around shoulder level, and her chin ends up resting on your chest.
  70. >Naturally, you wrap your arms around her.
  71. "What's up, Rainbow?" you ask with a laugh, "Movie-cuddle isn't until seven."
  72. >Rainbow grins and wriggles a bit more firmly into you
  73. >"Nah, sis, I'm here 'cuz I want you to meet somepony!"
  74. >She looks around for a moment and stretches her muzzle so that it's closer to your head; and thus, your ear.
  75. >"We're, uh... we're still up for movies and cuddles tonight, though, right?"
  76. >You grin and scratch her behind the ear, pointedly ignoring the way her left hind leg twitches and stomps the ground.
  77. "Duh, idiot," you reply fondly, "I got an entire bag of those gross hay-chips you like just waiting for you."
  78. >Rainbow lets out a whoop and a cheer, hoof-pumping and nearly hitting you in the chin.
  79. >"Al-RIGHT! I can't wait, Anon! Did you find that movie we were tal-"
  80. >>"Ahem."
  81. >Rainbow's ears flop back, and she grins up at you nervously.
  82. >"Oh," she says quietly, "Right. Whoops."
  83. >Your friend takes a few steps away from you and falls back onto all four hooves.
  84. >Now that you're a bit more aware of your environment, you notice that another unfamiliar mare has been watching you this entire time.
  85. "Well, shit."
  86. >That's a little bit embarrassing.
  87. "Hello there, stranger. What can I do for you?"
  88. >This mare looks vaguely familiar.
  89. >You feel like you've met her once before...
  90. >You wanna say something about the Wonderbolts.
  91. >You THINK you met her while waiting in line to get a poster signed?
  92. >You know, the one you got as a birthday present for Rainbow Dash, along with that Wonderbolts-themed sweater?
  93. "Wait a second... were you at that one Wonderbolt get-together a few months ago?"
  94. >The orange mare grins and trots forward so that she can playfully elbow Rainbow Dash.
  95. >>"See? He remembers me."
  96. >You nod in agreement.
  97. >Yeah, you remember her now.
  98. >She was TOTALLY in line with you.
  99. "Yeah, it's cool to meet another fan of the Wonderbolts. Can you believe that the signing line was so long that there were ponies walking up and down selling refreshments?"
  100. >You chuckle at the memory.
  101. "I got there at seven in the morning and didn't get home until nearly dinner time. Crazy, right?"
  102. >The orange mare looks shocked, and then she face-hoofs.
  103. >>"Rainbow Dash," she says, sounding somewhere between amused and annoyed, "Your friend here is lucky he's cute."
  104. >...
  105. "...I'm cute?"
  106. >Rainbow Dash just laughs.
  107. ---------
  108. >You are Anon, from the distant year of 15 minutes later.
  109. >You are in your living room with your two guests and, at the recommendation of the new orange mare, have prepared three mugs of freshly-made coffee spiked with alcohol.
  110. >You don't really get the occasion, but you're not one to turn down drinking before noon.
  111. "So, let me get this straight."
  112. >You bring your mug to your lips and take a straightening and invigorating sip of the coffee you spiked with a splash of booze.
  113. >Rainbow Dash and Spitfire have two mugs in front of them as well.
  114. >Spitfire - who ISN'T some mare you met in line and is apparently the Captain of the Wonderbolts - takes polite sips from her.
  115. >Meanwhile, Rainbow Dash is ignoring her mug entirely and has a hoof dug deep into those gross hay-chips you buy for her whenever she comes over.
  116. "Celestia wants - go easy on those, Rainbow Dash."
  117. >Rainbow pulls her muzzle out of the mag and flashes a grin at you.
  118. >"Right, sorry."
  119. "Save some for tonight."
  120. >Rainbow pouts playfully, but pushes the bag away.
  121. >"We could always just buy more."
  122. >Ah, this old argument.
  123. "Yeah, we could," you allow, "But then you would eat TWO bags of chips and-"
  124. >"-and then I'd have twice as much energy to burn off the next day; I know, Anon." finishes Rainbow Dash, sounding slightly sullen.
  125. >You can't have that.
  126. >You reach across the human-sized coffee table and push her mug towards her.
  127. "Don't pout," you say, playfully poking at a nearby hoof with a finger, "I put some apple-cider brandy into your coffee instead of the rum."
  128. >Rainbow Dash looks at her coffee with newfound interest as Spitfire picks up her mug with both hooves
  129. >Meanwhile, Spitfire quirks an eyebrow, looking vaguely impressed.
  130. >>"That stuff ain't cheap, Anonymous."
  131. >That's true.
  132. >The regular price FOR PLEBS is about 150 bits.
  133. "Ah, but I'm close and personal friends with the manufacturer," you say with a wiggle of a finger and a conspiratorial wink, "I get a bottle for free every once in a while for not telling people about the time she nearly-"
  134. >FUCK
  135. >Nice try.
  136. >The orange mare smiles and snorts into her drink.
  137. >>"Colts."
  138. >Colts?
  139. >Colts...
  140. >Oh, right!
  141. >Colts!
  142. "So," you say, bringing the conversation back to where it started, "Celestia wants the most visible members of her government to find a nice colt and settle down, right?"
  143. >Spitfire takes a long sip of her steaming drink and sets it down, the half-full mug nearly sloshing its contents onto your coffee table.
  144. >>"That's right. I won't get into the politics, since I don't expect that you're familiar with what goes on in Canterlot, but to make a long story short, we apparently need to start living up to our principles. One of those principles implies showing that we're well off enough to provide for a large, economy-contributing family. So, Rainbow Dash and I..."
  145. >Spitfire looks longingly at her mug of spiked coffee, but doesn't go back for more.
  146. >>"Rainbow Dash and I have come here in the hopes that you will be that colt for us. I-"
  148. "Aw, god dammit!"
  149. >You gaze sadly at your now ruined carpet, which is SOAKED with a mouthful of coffee and apple cider brandy.
  150. "Rainbow Dash, why?!"
  151. >Rainbow Dash doesn't respond.
  152. >She's staring at Spitfire with a look of absolute shock on her face.
  153. >"THAT'S why you wanted us to go see Anon?!"
  154. >Spitfire stares back at your friend, looking equally shocked.
  155. >>"...of course. Why did you think I said we should go see him, immediately after we talked about those letters?"
  156. >Rainbow throws her hooves up in exasperation.
  157. >"I dunno! I thought you just wanted to meet him! I told you stories about how cool he was, so maybe I thought you thought he might know what to do!"
  158. >Rainbow looks back and forth between you and Spitfire.
  159. >Her face is bright red and she looks completely lost.
  160. >Spitfire, meanwhile, looks like she's keeping her cool under this pressure.
  161. >>"Rainbow Dash, I thought the two of you were already a couple."
  162. >"A-A c-c-couple?!" Rainbow stammers, now pointedly refusing to meet your eye, "We're not... w-we just hang out! Because he's cool! And I'M cool! And we just do cool things together!"
  163. >Spitfire quirks an eyebrow.
  164. >>"Well, you certainly ACT like you're already a couple," she says, rolling her eyes and finishing her mug, "The two of you honestly behave like you've been married for years."
  165. >Rainbow can only make squeaking noises.
  166. "Oh, god."
  167. >It's so obvious.
  168. >How did you not realize that was what they were here for?
  170. >Oh, you're so dumb.
  171. >You're just so stupid.
  172. "R-Rainbow?"
  173. >Rainbow twitches bodily but avoids looking at you.
  174. >Spitfire just lets out a long suffering sigh and snatches up Rainbow's mug of spiked coffee.
  175. >>"Oh," she says after downing half of the contents in one go, "It's going to be one of THOSE days, isn't it?"
  176. ---
  177. >The atmosphere is tense.
  178. >In fact, if it could be summed up in one word, it would be "god fucking dammit why is this your life".
  179. >You stare at Spitfire.
  180. >She looks back at you.
  181. >Her lips twist into an amused smirk, and she shoots you a wink.
  182. "Uh."
  183. >You look over at Rainbow Dash.
  184. >She's staring at the wall to her right.
  185. >Her face is so red that you're worried she might get a nose ble-
  186. >Oh.
  187. >Yeah, there it goes.
  188. >Rainbow Dash is now blushing so hard that she has a nose bleed.
  189. >She's hugging herself with her forelegs, and her hindlegs are curled around an invisible human forearm as it rubs her belly, as is usually the case when YOU are that human who that arm belongs to.
  190. >Her tail is visible poking up between her legs, where it is cradling her rump.
  191. "Uhh?"
  192. >Rainbow Dash, as if aware you're watching despite giving that bit of wall her undivided attention, brings her forelegs up to cover her eyes.
  193. >You are Anon, and you aren't sure how to feel right now.
  194. >Apparently, your friend and her co-worker have received a letter from the government telling them to find a penis-haver and start fuckin'.
  195. >And, to your (and Rainbow Dash's too, as it seems) surprise, that penis-haver is you.
  196. >...
  197. >And to think your dad said you'd never amount to anything.
  198. "Is this... for real, right now?"
  199. >Rainbow Dash gulps loudly.
  200. >"M-Maybe?"
  201. >Maybe.
  202. >What, she's not sure?
  203. "What do you mean, maybe? How could you not know for sure?"
  204. >Rainbow gestures wildly with her forehooves, flailing them without any real regard for direction or purpose.
  205. >"I don't know, Anon!" she shouts, her cracking voice making her sound frazzled, "This whole thing was Spitfire's idea!"
  206. >Welp.
  207. >No kidding, huh?
  208. >You aren't exactly sure how you feel about that.
  209. >On the one hand, you're kinda relieved that this is just one big prank!
  210. >On the other hand, you're kinda disappointed that this is just one big prank.
  211. >On the other OTHER hand, you're kinda pissed that someone fooled you with that classic prank of "ha ha, you thought someone loved you".
  212. >It's like you never left home.
  213. >...
  214. >Yup, you're leaning pretty heavily towards "pissed", now that you've taken a few seconds to really ruminate on it.
  215. >You turn to face Spitfire, frowning in a way you hope gets across "I'm 10 pounds of pissed off in a 5 pound bag".
  216. "...WAS it, now?"
  217. >Spitfire raises her forehooves defensively as you turn your gaze to her.
  218. >Her smile and optimism: gone.
  219. >In their place is the face of a mare who just realized she pissed off a creature twice her height and three times her weight.
  220. >>"Woah, easy there, colt!" Spitfire says quickly in a calming tone, "Rainbow Dash name-dropped you right at the very start."
  221. >A smirk starts to grow on Spitfire's face, and she looks back and forth between you and Rainbow Dash.
  222. >>"In fact, the very first thing out of her mouth after she got the news that she had to find a mate was that she wanted to fly down to your place and share a few drinks with you."
  223. >Wait, this is for real?
  224. >Like, FOR REAL?!
  225. >You turn to Rainbow Dash again, shocked.
  226. "Y-You wanted to share some drinks?" you ask, gulping audibly, "W-With me?"
  227. >Oh, man.
  228. >Oh, jeez.
  229. >Is Rainbow actually totally down with this?
  230. >You think she might actually be totally down with this.
  231. >What do you do now?
  233. >Rainbow Dash, meanwhile, is sitting there with a gobsmacked expression on her face.
  234. >Her mouth and eyes are fighting to see which one of them can open wider, and she's staring at Spitfire as though the slightly older orange mare just told her that Pinkie Pie was going to replace her on the weather team.
  235. >Which is to say, Rainbow Dash looks just about as long as you feel, frankly.
  236. >"N-Not like that!" Rainbow squeaks breathily, her voice breaking on the word 'that', "I just wanted... I thought that maybe, y'know..."
  237. >WHAT IS IT
  239. >>"It's true, Anonymous," interjects Spitfire, a giggle barely suppressed and sounding way too amused by this, "Rainbow here said that as soon as she found you, she could forget all about the problem of having to find a nice colt to settle down with."
  240. "What."
  242. >You turn back to face Rainbow Dash so quickly and suddenly that your neck audibly pops.
  243. "I-Is this true? Rainbow Dash?"
  244. >Your best friend?
  245. >[spoiler]...your maybe MORE THAN best friend?[/spoiler]
  246. >Rainbow opens and closes her mouth like a fish, but can't seem to find the words.
  247. >"I just... it's not... you can't just... I... I..."
  248. >oh god she is ACTUALLY totally down with this.
  249. >Spitfire, still looking amused, turns back to you.
  250. >>"Well, what about YOU, Anonymous?"
  251. "M-Me?"
  252. >>"Mm-hmm. How do YOU feel about this?"
  253. >Oh, jeez, that's a toughie.
  254. >Two mares - one being your best friend, and the other one being a stranger - show up on your doorstep and tell you that they want to get horse-married to you.
  255. >You need at least five more minutes before you can really get a proper reaction other than "oh god what is this even".
  256. "I mean, this is all just so sudden!"
  257. >You are legitimately at a loss for words.
  258. >You feel all sorts of flustered, and you're starting to feel overwhelmed, and you guess you're getting married now?!
  259. >Why is life suddenly just like your Japanese animes?!
  260. >Oh Christ, you won't be able to think straight unless you can calm down!
  261. >Spitfire nods at you, apparently satisfied with your non-answer.
  262. >>"Well, that's good," she says, calm and decisively, "Because we're going to have to make the most of this."
  263. >Wait, what?
  264. >You don't remember agreeing to this, though.
  265. >>"That's right, Anonymous. None of us might have chosen this-"
  267. >>"-but I'll be darned if I'm going to let this development drag us down."
  268. >Spitfire hops to her hooves and begins to pace, stiff-backed and head held high.
  269. >You realize that you aren't talking to Spitfire the mare, anymore.
  270. >You're talking to Captain Spitfire of the Wonderbolts; the mare who has high expectations and probably wouldn't let a silly thing like marrying an alien monkey drag her down.
  271. > mean, you guess?
  272. >That's a bit of a specific situation, so you can't honestly say.
  273. >She trots up to you and shoots a determined expression at you.
  274. >>"Tell you what, Anonymous, we're going to be the best darn herd this side of Cloudsdale. We'll support each other, we'll welcome each other with open hooves, and we'll be a herd befit of two members of The Wonderbolts!"
  275. >...
  276. >You know what the fucked up part of all this is?
  277. >That whole little pep-talk went a long way for calming you down.
  278. >You mean, you still haven't said yes to this, but you're no longer in a blind panic anymore.
  279. >Spitfire unexpectedly spins and points an accusatory hoof over at Rainbow Dash.
  280. >>"And YOU!"
  281. >Rainbow actually JUMPS, startled.
  282. >"M-Me?"
  283. >Spitfire calmly brings a hoof up and removes her stylish sunglasses.
  284. >You know; the ones that have arms that sort of just... latch onto the sides of her head instead of hooking behind her horse ears, like you would expect the design to be like.
  285. >Kinda like Geordi Laforge.
  286. >Once she has them gripped in the frog of her forehoof, she folds the the arms inward one at a time, and then tucks them into the front pocket of her navy-blue uniform.
  287. >You feel a tiny smile tug at the corners of your lips.
  288. >God, you love it when ponies wear tiny clothes.
  289. >It's just so damn cute.
  290. >You don't even care how this entire thing turns out; you're gonna buy Rainbow Dash some tiny horse clothing and take pictures of her wearing it.
  291. >>"I don't care if you like this colt, Rainbow Dash," growls Spitfire, firmly in Full Metal Jacket territory, "And I don't care if you hate him. I was not issued a sufficient quantity of bucks required to care about your feelings on the matter."
  292. >She marches over to Rainbow Dash, and the effect of her little show is ruined by the way she has to use extra-big stompies because she's walking on couch cushions.
  293. >>"Now sit up straight, remove the testicle-bra from between your flat teats, quit gossiping to the middle-aged neighbor stallion over the fence about your favourite soap opera, and act like the mare I know you are!"
  294. >Wow.
  295. "Holy shit."
  296. >That was intense.
  297. >Rainbow Dash responds immediately.
  298. >She straightens up, pushes her chest tuft out, and stares straight ahead.
  299. >"Ma'am, yes ma'am!"
  300. >Wait, what?
  301. "I'm sorry?"
  302. >Spitfire leans in close and glares at Rainbow Dash.
  303. >>"Are you going to be a good herd-mare and provide for your colt?!"
  304. "Uh..."
  305. >Rainbow Dash responds immediately with a crisp and well-practiced salute.
  306. >"Yes, ma'am!"
  307. >Spitfire leans in closer; close enough that her shouting is starting to ruffle Rainbow Dash's mane.
  308. >>"Are you going to do everything in your power to be a good lover?!"
  309. "UH...?"
  310. >Rainbow's left eye twitches, but she otherwise doesn't react to you.
  311. >"Yes, ma'am!"
  312. >Spitfire leans in so close that she's now sort of... rubbing her face against Rainbow Dash's soft, plush cheek.
  313. >Kinda like a cat.
  315. >Rainbow Dash eyes you up nervously, and you can see her begin to quiver.
  316. >That straight back was beginning to hunch, and her proudly-displayed chest tuft was losing its volume with every second.
  317. >Pretty soon, it'll look just as small as Twilight's.
  318. >The poor purple bitch has the horse's equivalent of a 4-inch dick on her chest.
  319. >"Y-Yes.... Uh..."
  320. >Rainbow Dash leans in and purses her lips, clearly intending to kiss you.
  321. >Whoo!
  322. >Okay.
  323. >Yeah, no.
  324. >Back that ass up, buttercup.
  325. "Now hold right the fuck up," you interject, holding out your hand and halting Rainbow's progress, "I never agreed to this."
  326. >Rainbow stares at you, and the blush returns.
  327. >She furrows her brows and looks determined.
  328. >She leans forward again and...
  329. "Easy there, Dash."
  330. >Nuh-uh.
  331. >Not like this.
  332. >"Yes, m-ma..."
  333. >Oh, HELL no.
  334. >[spoiler]You swear you aren't gay.[/spoiler]
  335. >[spoiler]You don't care what your dad used to say about you all the time.[/spoiler]
  336. "Nuh-nuh-nuh, ease it up, sister. Dinner and a movie, first."
  337. >...but then her expression breaks.
  338. >>"Rainbow Dash?" asks Spitfire, unexpectedly, "Did I bucking stutter?"
  339. >"I..." breathes Rainbow Dash, staring directly into your eyes, "I..."
  340. >BOOM
  341. "FUCK"
  342. >CRASH
  343. >SHATTER
  344. >...
  345. "What the fuck."
  346. ---
  347. >"Wow."
  348. >Spitfire hops to her hooves and trots over to the broken window that Rainbow Dash just fucking PLOWED through.
  349. >When she gets close enough, she carefully reaches out one of her hooves to inspect the damage
  350. >Spitfire pokes at one of the shards still stuck in the wooden frame, and it breaks off and falls to the ground with a tinkling crash.
  351. >"That just might be an academy record, right there."
  352. >She peers back at you and throws you a weak grin.
  353. >"In any other circumstances, I'd be impressed."
  354. >Nonono.
  355. >Your window just got fucking smashed via a Sonic Fucking Rainboom and you've now turned into every pissed off sitcom wife ever.
  356. >And brother?
  357. >You have on HELL of a headache, and SOMEBODY is going to be sleeping on the couch tonight.
  358. "Somebody's going to pay for that window, miss Wonderbolt Captain."
  359. >You don't even care that this isn't her fault.
  360. >Fuck, you probably won't even actually try to get her to pay for it once the "oh FUCK my window! I needed that!" rage has left you.
  361. >Unaware that your Debra-esque annoyance will disappear shortly, Spitfire's smile falters.
  362. >"...fair enough."
  363. "Let's go see if we can find Rainbow Dash, alright?"
  364. >You get up and and walk to your front door, and the muffled sound of hooves on RUINED carpet let you know that your new companion (and apparently intended horse-wife?) is following you.
  365. >"It shouldn't be too hard to find her," she says sardonically, sounding a little bit grumpy, "All we need to do is follow the trail of broken windows and tears."
  366. "Be nice."
  367. >"Sorry."
  368. ---
  369. >You are still Anon, only now it is about ten minutes from where you left off.
  370. >Things are moderately less awkward.
  371. >Partly because you are now no longer in a stuffy living room with a stained carpet and a terrified rainbow horse.
  372. >Partly because you lied and told Spitfire that you had to use the bathroom before you left, and you took a couple of swigs from that bottle of apple-cider brandy you got because you promised not to tell everyone about that time you found Appl-
  373. >Uh...
  374. >Anyway.
  375. >The streets of Ponyville are full of ponies this time of morning, and you are slowly drawing the eyes of ponies around you as you walk around town with a Wonderbolt captain at your side.
  376. >In this time, Spitfire has put her sunglasses back on.
  377. >It really makes you wish you had a pair of your own with the sun beating down on you as it is, but they're surprisingly expensive in Ponyville.
  378. >Maybe it's because they don't have ones that'll fit a monkey, or something.
  379. >You don't fucking know; you just saw the price tag and left the fucking store.
  380. >"Yeesh," sighs Spitfire, craning her neck around at all the pairs of eyes, "You'd think they've never seen a Wonderbolt before."
  381. "Maybe they're thinking about all the gossip they're going to have to chat about with their middle-aged neighbors."
  382. >Spitfire cringes a little bit, but doesn't look very brow-beaten.
  383. >"I dunno what to tell you, colt," she says, "Rainbow Dash is usually a lot more disciplined than this."
  384. >This makes you snort.
  385. "Are you for fucking real?"
  386. >You grin down at the mare beside you, mentally reliving a bunch of moments you had with your friend.
  387. "The Rainbow Dash I know falls asleep on the couch with one hoof in a bag of hay-chips and the other clutching an apple cider, and she somehow remains asleep despite all the explosions coming from the film on TV. Are we talking about the same mare?"
  388. >Spitfire shrugs in only the way a mare walking on all four hooves can.
  389. >"Well, I mean," she returns in a jovial tone, "Down at the academy, we don't usually have hay-chips, apple cider, movies, or-"
  390. >Spitfire grins at you and nudges your leg with a forehoof.
  391. >"-or handsome stallions laying on couches, just waiting to be cuddled."
  392. >You snort and try not to feel a little bit flattered.
  393. >You are not very successful, and you feel a tiny grin tug at the corners of your lips.
  394. >Damn your lonely, easily-pleased nature!
  395. >Why didn't anyone TELL you you get flustered this easily?!
  396. >If only you had a horse to hit on you back on Earth; maybe then you'd discover your secret weakness for their silver tongues.
  397. >[spoiler]Wink.[/spoiler]
  398. >[spoiler]That was innuendo, by the way.[/spoiler]
  399. >[spoiler]Because Equestrian ponies are hot, and they almost never cover their bits with their tails.[/spoiler]
  400. "I mean, I don't know how it works down at the Wonderbolts, Spitfire," you return, trying not to sound playful, "For all I know, you have stallions laying on couches in every single room of the academy. Maybe that's just how you keep your mares in line."
  401. >This gets a genuine laugh out of Spitfire, and she glances up at you with a much more open - and relieved, given your previous anger and irritation - expression.
  402. >"Nah, there's only one couch in that entire building that's comfortable enough to lay on, and that's the one in my office. And I don't have a handsome colt laying down on it."
  403. >Spitfire winks at you.
  404. >"Not yet, anyway."
  405. >...
  406. >Oh!
  407. >Oh, she means YOU.
  408. >You huff and look away.
  409. >You can feel heat radiating from your cheeks, and you realize (much to your chagrin) that you're blushing.
  410. >Judging by the satisfied chuckle coming from the orange Creamsicle over here, she saw that.
  411. "Don't you fucking giggle to yourself, Chuckles," you mutter, trying not to sound like a tsundere from your ching-chong cartoon shows, "I'm not fucking used to mares just up and hitting on me."
  412. >...
  413. >Wait, no.
  414. >No, Anon, that sounded pathetic.
  415. >Anon, why would you say that?
  416. >This is why you didn't have any friends back home.
  417. >Spitfire, not privy to your internal agonizing, just scoffs in disbelief.
  418. >Whether it was genuine disbelief or a polite "I should probably not say 'yes, I can tell' when this person tells me he's a pathetic piece of shit" sort of response, you don't know.
  419. >"Really?" she asks, not sounding convinced, "Because I find that hard to believe."
  422. "...Fuck you."
  423. >"Later."
  424. >You sigh; half in annoyance, and half in grudging fondness
  425. >What a little fucking shit.
  426. >But you know what?
  427. >She's a little fucking shit who's growing on you.
  428. >You could see yourself chilling with her and laughing at stupid shit over drinks.
  429. "Let's just go find Rainbow Dash, you ass."
  430. >The sooner you get away from this flirty horse, the better.
  431. >Maybe you and Rainbow Dash can put this shit behind you just in time to watch that dumb monster movie you rented for tonight.
  432. >You'll even resist busting her chops if she decides to get another bag of hay-chips, even if you're concerned for her health.
  433. >After all, you can't just break out a few litres of thick, sugary cider and claim to be worried about your best friend is putting into her body.
  434. ---
  435. >The two of you spend a few minutes aimlessly wandering, looking for Rainbow Dash.
  436. >Ponies stare... but the again, they've always stared.
  437. >You guess that being a weird alien monkey on top of hanging out with a Wonderbolt is bound to grab someone's attention.
  438. >Now, all you have to do is find Rainbow Dash.
  439. >Rainbow Dash.
  440. >The mare who blushed and stuttered just like your Japanese animes as soon as the topic of "would you fuck this monkey" came up.
  441. >The mare who might actually for realsies have romantic feelings for you.
  442. >Feelings that you... might have for her too?
  443. >Maybe?
  444. >You aren't entirely sure how you feel about all this.
  445. >You like hanging out with Rainbow Dash.
  446. >Like, a lot.
  447. >She-
  448. >"Hey, Anonymous?"
  449. "Hmmm?"
  450. >The sound of clippity-clops stops, and Spitfire's voice trails behind you ever-so-slightly.
  451. >Not wanting to be some jackass who keeps on walking when his friendly acquaintance stops to stand in place, you stop too.
  452. "What is it, Spitfire?"
  453. >She's peering at you with calculating look on her face.
  454. >Her eyes are narrowed slightly, and her eyes are darting around your face.
  455. >"You never really answered my question from before; how do you feel about all this? You know," she gestures vaguely with a forehoof, "This whole 'Rainbow Dash' thing."
  456. >Oh.
  457. >That.
  458. "Well, I mean... I dunno. She's my best friend, and we've always gotten along pretty well."
  459. >Spitfire nods encouragingly, not saying a word in case it interrupts you.
  460. "And I guess, this idea of things being a bit more deep than just friendship..."
  461. >You struggle to get to your point; each word feels like you're physically dragging it out of your body, and you're speaking quite slowly.
  462. >Like you aren't sure what you're even going to say until the moment you say it.
  463. "I wouldn't hate it."
  464. >Oh god, why do you sound like this?
  465. >Why is this so difficult for you?
  466. >You sigh and put your face into your hands.
  467. "Look, Spitfire," you grumble, voice muffled by your fingers, "I swear I'm not normally this much of a jackass."
  468. >"Heyyy, don't worry about it, hon," says Spitfire in an encouraging tone, "If there's one thing I've learned in life, it's that you can't rush a stallion when it comes to sorting out his emotions. This whole 'government contract' thing has left your pretty little head spinning, and I don't expect you to have an answer for me immediately. I just don't want Rainbow Dash to be the only one who's gung-ho about this entire ordeal."
  469. >Yeesh.
  470. >Spitfire's a bit obnoxious, but you guess she's cool.
  471. >That whole thing about that 'governm'-FUCK
  472. >THE LETTER
  473. >You need to get a good look at that thing.
  474. >You aren't signing anything you haven't read.
  475. "Speaking of, can I see the letter?"
  476. >You reach out your hand, expecting Spitfire to hoof it over to you.
  477. >But instead, the orange mare just shakes her head.
  478. >"Sorry, Anon, but no-can-do. This is a private letter sent out to the mares in various government positions, and it's a 'for your eyes only' sort of thing."
  479. >Well, THAT'S horseshit.
  480. "Well, maybe I can offer some insight. Maybe this whole, 'go find a colt and fuck his brains out' isn't as cut-and-dry as you think it is."
  481. >Spitfire shrugs carelessly.
  482. >"Nuh-uh, Anon. I've been working for the government for nearly ten years, and the legal-ese is clear as crystal."
  483. >Why is this horse so fucking stubborn?
  484. "No, this is bullshit. If the two of you are trying to get me involved with this, then the VERY LEAST you can do is let me see the damn contract. What sort of moron do you take me for?"
  485. >Spitfire actually stops and turns to face you, arching an eyebrow at you.
  486. >She looks vaguely impressed.
  487. >"Huh. Not a lot of stallions would really care about the nitty-gritty details, once they found out that they had the opportunity to herd up with two members of the Wonderbolts; and the captain, to boot."
  488. >She pats your knee in a slightly dismissive manner, and then continues walking.
  489. >"Tell you what, hot-shot: remind me again later, and I'll show it to you."
  490. >That's a terrible idea.
  491. >You have an AWFUL short-term memory, and you'll be at your horse-honeymoon before you remember that you wanted to read that fucking letter.
  492. "Why not show it to me now?"
  493. >Spitfire throws her head back in irritation, and she doesn't stop walking.
  494. >"Look, I didn't bring it with me, alright?" she says, her voice taking on a slight edge and a definite lack of patience, "Let's go find Rainbow Dash and remind her that she has a pair of teats between her legs first."
  495. "Ugh, fine. Whatever."
  496. >Rainbow probably got one of these letters too, right?
  497. >Maybe if you're lucky, you won't have to wait for Spitfire to decide to show it to you.
  498. >"Now c'mon, slugger, we have a potential herd-sister to find."
  499. ---
  500. >You are Anon, and it has been about twenty minutes of searching, and you haven't seen Rainbow Dash anywhere.
  501. >Granted, the two of you are wandering aimlessly, and most of the places Rainbow might hang out at are in the sky and are, thus, out of your reach.
  502. >"Okay, this is taking too long."
  503. >Spitfire stops and pats you on the knee to get your attention.
  504. >"I've worked with that mare long enough to know that if we haven't found her by now, we aren't gonna find her at all; period."
  505. "You know what? You're not even wrong. That mare knows how to remain unseen when she wants to."
  506. >You've never once beat her at Hide And Go Seek, and Rainbow's the undisputed master of Peek-A-Boos.
  507. >With a glance at her watch, Spitfire taps you on the knee again.
  508. >"Welp, it's nearly lunch. C'mon, Anonymous, I know a place where we can get a good apple pie."
  509. >She shoots you a wink and trots off ahead of you.
  510. >"Assuming Soarin' hasn't eaten it all by now, I mean."
  511. >When you reach the restaurant a few minutes later, Spitfire lags behind.
  512. >"Why don't you go find a seat for us, Anonymous? I'll go grab that pie."
  513. >You nod and go off to find a table.
  514. >You try and see if you can find a free one with 4 places, just in case Rainbow Dash shows up.
  515. ---
  516. >Be Spitfire.
  517. >You watch as Anonymous walks away, swiveling his head to find a place to sit.
  518. >He passes a few empty two-seat tables, making you roll your eyes; trust a colt to pass up something perfectly usable just in case he can find something better.
  519. >No wonder it took your brother hours to get his shopping done back when you lived with your parents.
  520. >You can't stop your eyes from dragging down Anonymous's back, though.
  521. >They come to a rest on his rump, and you don't realize that you've bitten your bottom lip until you feel a gentle stab of pain.
  522. >Anonymous's flanks look firm, but they're also a little bit plush.
  523. >Like he's got a bit of cushion for when he's pushin'.
  524. >Not bad, Spitfire.
  525. >Not bad at all.
  526. "Mama like," you purr to yourself, "What I wouldn't give to come home after a hard day's work and rest my tired little head on a flank like that."
  527. >Maybe Rainbow Dash knows what she's talking about.
  529. ---------------------
  530. Update: March 22
  531. whooo happy birthday to me
  532. >You are Rainbow Dash, and you are very angry.
  533. >You can hear your heart pounding in your ears with each beat, which isn't surprising considering how hot the tips of your ears feel.
  534. >Your forelegs feel warm, and you bet that if you didn't have fur - just like Anon - they'be be a bright red.
  535. >This entire situation is stupid, and YOU'RE stupid for letting it get to you.
  536. >This never would have happened if the stupid government hadn't sent out those letters!
  537. "I can't believe I just ran off like that."
  538. >Some nag tells you to kiss your best friend, and what happens?
  539. >You run off like a scared little colt.
  540. "I SHOULD have socked her one."
  541. >Right in the kisser.
  542. >But instead, you got all flustered.
  543. >Your heart started beating faster, and your skin tingled, and you couldn't stare at anything but Anon's face, and his lips, and his-
  544. >You shake your head roughly, nearly giving yourself a head-rush from the intensity.
  545. "What the buck was that display, Rainbow Dash?" you ask yourself in a harsh whisper, "Why in Equestria did you get all flustered?"
  546. >That stupid decision to hook up with Anon must have shocked you.
  547. "C'mon, don't creep out one of the only stallions in town who still talks to you."
  548. >You'd think that becoming a Wonderbolt would help, but it seems like only Spitfire gets attention from the colts.
  549. >The name makes you growl and your hackles raise.
  550. "What does she think she's playing at?" you ask nopony, "Anon's my friend, not some piece of meat for us to rut! Ugh, I bet he feels so uncomfortable now that he's all alone with her."
  551. >You do what you normally do when you're stressed: you extend a wing and begin to preen.
  552. >You thrust the appendage out hastily and clumsily, caring more for speed and sating the unignorable itch than for grace and overall care about damaging the feathers.
  553. >Once the wing is in front of your face, you lower your mouth so that you can start digging at the flesh with your teeth.
  554. >Nuance goes out the window in exchange for roughly tugging and twisting of loose (and often times, perfectly in-place) feathers.
  555. >You use your prehensile lips to find damaged and out-of-place feathers, and you either ruthlessly tug them out of the wing, or you twist your tongue and jaw and set them back into place.
  556. >It's always been a good way for you to burn through whatever frustration is bothering you, and there's also the bonus of having preened wings.
  557. >Ugh, you miss it when Anon would help you preen your wings.
  558. >He told you once that his hoof-spiders have a boat-load of nerve endings in the very tips, so he can find bent feathers just as well as you can, with a bit of direction and training.
  559. >The number of times you fell asleep on his lap with your wings outstretched and relaxed, lulled to sleep by the satisfying twists and tugging on broken feathers...
  560. >You just...
  561. "Urgh!"
  562. >You double down on your preening and end up bending a couple of feathers that were in between your mouth and a damaged feather.
  563. "Hnngrrgg..."
  564. >Much better.
  565. >That feather had been bothering your for nearly a week now, and you thought it would NEVER pop out.
  566. >Now a new feather can grow in its place.
  567. >You've always found that preening your wings has sort of popped into your mind whenever you're angry or scared.
  568. >Twilight once said a bunch of egghead things about how it was an evolutionary advantage geared towards ensuring your wings are ready to carry you away from a threat.
  569. >YOU say it's because the feathers get SO ITCHY when you're all riled up and you puff yourself up, and you have to bite them or else they won't go back into place!
  570. >You guess it doesn't matter.
  571. >Because like always, you're starting to calm down.
  572. >You don't even bother collecting the bent, snapped, or otherwise damaged feathers that fall to the dirt.
  573. >This entire topic is just bothering you terribly.
  574. >It's making you think about how you behave around Anon.
  575. >You've gone soft ever since he came into your life.
  576. >A year ago, you would have SOCKED Spitfire right in the muzzle!
  577. >And you know what? You'd have felt GOOD about it!
  578. >Past-Rainbow Dash didn't take guff from NOPONY, and she liked it that way!
  579. >Ugh, past-Rainbow would have scoffed at you being friends with Anon.
  580. >You didn't really like him all that much back when you met him.
  581. >But...
  582. >Past-Rainbow Dash was also a flank-hole.
  583. >You can't get around that.
  584. >Anon started reeling you in back when you started hanging out.
  585. >You know full well that you can be a pain in the flank sometimes.
  586. >You know some of your pranks in the past have been a tiny bit mean-spirited.
  587. >You guess.
  588. >...
  589. >Alright, they HAVE BEEN.
  590. >They were hilarious, but nopony else thought they were.
  591. >Ugh, you hate how that little voice in the back of your head that tells you not to be such a flankhole sounds just like Anon's voice.
  592. >You swear, whenever you're planning a prank and you close your eyes, you SWEAR you can almost see his disapproving face.
  593. >Celestia above, you can't stand it when he looks all disappointed when you do something that is, in retrospect, mean.
  594. >Funny, but mean.
  595. >...Funny to YOU, but not anypony else.
  596. >Stupid Anon.
  597. >...
  598. >Dang it, you miss him already.
  599. >"Hah! Hah! Hah!"
  601. >The sound of panting and stomping rouses you from your mopey thoughts.
  602. >Somepony has been following you; not that hard, considering the mess you were leaving behind you
  603. "Aww, ponyfeathers!" you groan, "I barreled right through his window!"
  604. >Dang it, what is WRONG with you?!
  605. >"Wh-WHOSE window?"
  606. >You stuff your wings back into place just in time to see none other than Scootaloo burst through the bushes.
  607. "Scootaloo? What in Equestria are you doin' here?"
  608. >Scootaloo is panting pretty heavily and her little wings are buzzing.
  609. >"I... I saw... the rainbow... thingy... and I... a-and I wanted to..."
  610. >Yeesh.
  611. >She looks like she's about to keel over.
  612. >You trot over to her and start flapping your wings around, getting some cool air flow around the overheating filly.
  613. >Winds gust up thanks to your powerful flaps, and your innate pegasus magic keeps your hooves firmly attached to the ground, even though these wing-flutters would normally be enough to send you airborne.
  614. >Twigs and leaves spin and dance away, and blades of grass flap like they're miniature-sized trees in a tiny hurricane.
  615. >But all in all, thanks to your efforts, one little filly is cooling down.
  616. >Celestia only knows that she must have sprinted over here to have worked up that much of a sweat
  617. >Not a lot of ponies acknowledge it, but you take in a lot of your surroundings at once.
  618. >It's how you're able to keep flying at high speeds; if you don't notice something coming your way, or a pressure change in the air, then you could go tumbling out of the sky and kill yourself.
  619. >And so you've noticed that Scootaloo doesn't have her scooter with her.
  620. >Of course, she might have just stored it behind a bush, but she doesn't have a helmet on either.
  621. >You're pretty sure she just ran after you.
  622. "You alright, Squirt?" you ask, worried about your charge, "You didn't sprint all the way over from Ponyville; did you?"
  623. >Scootaloo has her little wings raised and has her eyes closed as she enjoys the breeze.
  624. >Pegasi tend to do this instinctively, since remaining alive revolves around catching the wind under their wings.
  625. >Scootaloo's doing this just as much to cool down as she is because some part deep in her brain is telling her to react to all this wind that's being generated by your wings.
  626. >You aren't surprised to see her forehooves starting to leave the ground by just a few centimeters every couple seconds.
  627. >She might not believe it, but she's gonna start flying in a couple of months.
  628. >All she needs is a wing-span to be wide enough to support feathers that are long and thick enough to channel that flight magic.
  629. >Scootaloo pants and nods, eyes still mashed closed.
  630. >"Y-Yeah," she sighs, "I saw your Sonic Rainboom all the way from Sweet Apple Acres-"
  631. >You can't help the proud (and, if you're being honest, cocky) smile from invading your face and stretching your lips.
  632. >"-and I just had to see what you were up to!"
  633. >She cracks open an eye and peers up at you with a purple eye; just a few shades darker than your own.
  634. >"You don't do one of those things every day!"
  635. >Scootaloo begins to shiver a bit, so you put your wings back into place.
  636. >True to Twilight's words, that preening session made it so that your feathers were able to channel a heck of a lot of your flying magic just there to help little Scootaloo cool down.
  637. "You wanna learn how it's done, huh?" you ask, "Well, I had better watch out, or else you'll be faster than me pretty soon!"
  638. >Just like you intended, Scootaloo perks up under your praise.
  639. >Her chest tuft poofs up - you're glad nopony is around to accuse you of being a filly-fiddler - and she stands up just a little bit more straight.
  640. >"You really think I can do a Sonic Rainboom?!" she shouts excitedly, voice cracking, "You think you can teach me?!"
  641. >You grin and lean down to nuzzle Scootaloo.
  642. >The little filly's so eager to return the gesture that she actually rears back on her hind legs and leans her entire body weight against you.
  643. "You bet! You're gonna be a great flier someday, Squirt," you promise, "That is, if I have anything to say about it."
  644. >Scootaloo practically vibrates with excitement.
  645. >"Oh, mare!" she crows, "Now I have TWO top fliers teaching me how to use my wings!"
  646. >Yeah!
  647. >HECK yeah!
  648. >...
  649. "Wait."
  650. >Who in Equestria is the other top flier?
  651. >You're pretty sure that Scootaloo knows other Wonderbolts because she hangs out with you.
  652. "You aren't getting flying lessons from... from Lightning Dust, are you?"
  653. >You wouldn't put it past her to be a bucking filly-touching dyke.
  654. >Scootaloo just looks confused.
  655. >"What?" she squeaks, "No, not Lightning Dust."
  656. >Oh.
  657. "Well, good."
  658. >There's an awkward moment where you consider asking Scootaloo where else she learned how to fly, but this situation is uncomfortable enough as it is.
  659. >Okay, you still have to go find Anon.
  660. >This is getting you nowhere, fast.
  661. >Specifically, you're flapping your wings and burning your feathers for ten seconds flat, but you're hovering in place.
  662. >...that's the last time you try and take one of Anon's hoo-man phrases and turn it into a pony phrase.
  663. >What does 'burning rubber' even mean?
  664. "Scootaloo, buddy," you start, wishing you could stay and play with your little sister-from-another-mister, "I gotta go find Anon, okay? I promise we can play later."
  665. >Scootaloo looks disappointed, and it nearly breaks your hardened marely heart.
  666. >The same heart that lets you cry during sad scenes in those romantic movies that Anon promised he'd never tell anyone you watched.
  667. "Aww, don't be like that," you coo, "How's about you come with me the next time I go to hang out with Anon?"
  668. >Scootaloo's ears perk up, and you know you're on the right track.
  669. >Anon won't mind if Scootaloo comes along.
  670. >After all, these are completely platonic meet-ups you and him are having, and he loves that little filly as much as you do.
  671. "We can watch movies, and eat hay-chips, and..."
  672. >You lean in all sneaky-like and bring the back of your hoof to your mouth so that nopony but Scootaloo can hear you.
  673. "If you're good, I might let you take a sip of my apple cider."
  674. >Scootaloo wriggles in place, and that big grin you know and love slips back onto her face.
  675. >"R-Really?!" she gasps, "You AND Nonny?!"
  676. >You nod.
  677. >"Promise?!"
  678. >You can't help but smile.
  679. "Of course. We can play then, alright?"
  680. >, huh?
  681. >Maybe you can kill two griffons with one stone here.
  682. "In fact," you drawl, an idea coming to you, "Why don't we play a game right now?"
  683. >Scootaloo looks confused.
  684. >"But... I thought you wanted to look for Nonny...?"
  685. >You just nod.
  686. "That's the game, silly! A cool mare like me needs a side-kick who's just as cool as she is to help her look for clues."
  687. >"Really?!"
  688. >Scootaloo grins up at you, and you can't help but grin back down at her.
  689. "Really-really!"
  690. >Scootaloo breaks away from you to cheer.
  691. >"Whoo-hoo!"
  692. >You sit down on your rump and make a very exaggerated thinking pose, with your left hoof on your chin and your right hoof on your elbow.
  693. "Now, where do you think Anon might be, Scootaloo?"
  694. >Scootaloo scrunches up her snoot in concentration.
  695. >"Hmmm..." she hums, "Maybe he's at home?"
  696. >You grin at the filly, and she grins right back at you.
  697. "Great idea!"
  698. >You heft Scootaloo up and slip a hoof under her belly.
  699. >With the filly secured, you flap your wings and take off.
  700. >Scootaloo whoops with excitement and extends her hooves and sets her little wings a buzzing.
  701. >You do a few slow flips and corkscrews for Scootaloo's sake, but keep a good pace towards Anon's place.
  702. >The landscape speeds by as you head directly to Anon's home.
  703. >Market stands, trees, buildings, and other ponies all spin around in a blur as you focus on staying airborne while balancing a filly on one hoof.
  704. >Skill; thy name is Rainbow Dash.
  705. >You don't know who else could do this; other than maybe Spitfire.
  706. >...
  707. >You need to find Anon.
  708. >Before you know it, you find yourselves in front of Anon's place.
  709. >It's just the way you remember it: there's the door, the blue paint, and... uh...
  710. >"Why is Nonny's window broken?"
  711. >You feel heat pool in your face.
  712. "I have no idea," you reply quickly, "Let's maybe never talk about that ever again."
  713. >"Uh... So, Rainbow Dash?"
  714. >You peer down at Scootaloo, who's looking right back up at you, curiously.
  715. "What's up, little mare?"
  716. >"Why are you even looking for Nonny?"
  717. "...things are difficult right now, Squirt. Somepony we know thinks that we're, uh..."
  718. >You can feel your face heat up just thinking about this dumb, stupid assumption that an aggressively uninformed mare made.
  719. "...y-y'know, special someponies."
  720. >You're too busy staring at your hooves to notice that Scootaloo's entire body has perked up.
  721. >"R-Really?!"
  722. >You mistake her enthusiasm for disbelief, and you nod in the affirmative; a solemn nod, like you're confirm grim news.
  723. "Yeah. We spend a lot of time together, sure, but that doesn't mean anything."
  724. >"Wh-what do you two do?"
  725. "Just regular platonic friend stuff. We watch movies, we cuddle, we hang out, we get lunch or dinner together; that kinda thing."
  726. >Scootaloo doesn't say anything, and you distract yourself by poking around a few of the larger shards of glass that are sprayed all over the ground.
  727. "And now," you say quietly, "I'm worried about him."
  728. >"Cuz you're special someponies?"
  729. "Yeah," you say without thinking.
  730. >...
  731. >Wait.
  732. "I mean, no! No, we aren't!" you blurt out quickly, "I'm worried 'cuz the person who thinks we're special someponies wants to herd with us, and now he's all alone with her!"
  733. >Scootaloo gasps, eyes wide.
  734. >"Y-You left Nonny all alone with a bad mare?!"
  735. "No!"
  736. >DARN IT
  737. "I mean, yeah!"
  738. >Urgh!
  739. >You don't have any stupid, mushy feelings for Anon, okay?
  740. >He's cool.
  741. >YOU'RE cool.
  742. >You hang out together, and you do cool things.
  743. >Like watch movies together; just the two of you, like it's special.
  744. >And cuddle, like you could protect him from all the nasty horseapples the world could ever throw at him if you just held him tight enough.
  745. >You don't sniff his mane, sometimes.
  746. >Not even a little bit; and ESPECIALLY not after Anon accidentally puts on a romantic movie, and neither of you try to turn it off and pop in an action flick.
  747. >Nope.
  748. >Anon is your best friend, and what sort of stupid pony would risk losing that friendship over some dumb feelings?
  749. >Er, dumb feelings that don't exist?
  750. >Like, at all?
  751. >Your feelings for him are totally platonic.
  752. >They're like...
  753. >Hmmm...
  754. >They're like what you feel for Scootaloo!
  755. >Yeah!
  756. >You love the lil' squirt, but you're not a filly fiddler!
  757. >Naw, she's like your little sis!
  758. >It's like family!
  759. >You slump with relief, and stress that you didn't even realize you had bleeds from your system like a rain cloud.
  760. >Yeah, your brain just put Anon in the "he's your brother" category of "super best friends", and you got a bit confused.
  761. >It's cool.
  762. >YOU'RE cool.
  763. >And tonight you're gonna go hang out with Anon and do cool things together, like watch action movies and eat hay-chips!
  764. >"What are we gonna do, Rainbow Dash?!"
  765. >Scootaloo stomps the ground in distress, alternating between her four legs.
  766. >Ugh.
  767. "Good question, Squirt."
  768. >You're starting to feel a little bit disheartened.
  769. >Anon isn't at home, and that means that Spitfire dragged him off somewhere so that they can be...
  770. >You almost shudder at the thought.
  771. >...alone together.
  772. >If your boss thinks that she can just nab any ol' colt off the street - let alone your best friend - then she's got another thing coming!
  773. >You'll show her how mares do things with their hooves in Cloudsdale if you see any hickies marking the smooth, flawless skin on Anon's long, slender neck!
  774. >You feel your chest tuft puff out at the thought.
  776. >...
  777. >Y-You meant you'd HUG him.
  778. >Because he'd be scared, and he'd need somepony he trusted.
  779. >You didn't mean you wanted to touch his flanks.
  780. >His firm, yet supple, flanks.
  781. >...
  782. "Jeez," you moan as your stomach does a mid-air twist, "I really should have had breakfast before I started drinking this morning."
  783. >Yeah, you wouldn't be thinking any of these ponyfeathers otherwise.
  784. >"Y-You did what?"
  785. "SHIT."
  786. >You jump and nearly jump in surprise at the sound of Scootaloo's voice, letting loose one of Anon's hoo-man swear words instead of a proper pony curse-word.
  787. >You almost forgot your little sister-from-another-mister was there.
  788. >You can't let her know you do adult things, like drinking before noon!
  789. "Hey, you know what?!" you shout, trying to change the subject, "I really need something in my belly."
  790. >It's too early to drink cider - again - and as always, you have a craving for something sweet and apple-tasting.
  791. >You boop Scootaloo's snoot with your own and enjoy watching her scrunch up.
  792. >Scootaloo goes so far as to frantically rub her snootle with her hooves, as though she could scrape the scrunch off of her face.
  793. "I heard from a chubby pegasus stallion that there's a shop that sells the best pie in town. How do you feel like getting a slice with me?"
  794. >Scootaloo giggles and nods eagerly.
  795. >"You mean that Soarin' told you, right?"
  796. >This kid catches on fast.
  797. "You bet! Let's see if we can make it there before Soarin' eats it all, yeah?"
  798. >You grab Scootaloo once more and prepare to fly.
  799. >You flip around onto your back as you fly and hold Scootaloo so that she's over your belly, knowing full-well that you're a good enough flier that you won't hit anything.
  800. >You want to see the look on Scootaloo's face when you start doing loop-de-loops.
  802. ---
  804. >You are Anon, and you're starting to get sick of this horse.
  805. >"Yeah, a Wonderbolt makes a lot of money during her career."
  806. "Mm-hmm?"
  808. >Spitire grips her fork - which is slightly sticky thanks to the pie she's eating - with the frog of her hoof and brings a small piece of apple pie to her lips.
  809. >It's no longer steaming since you've been sitting here for twenty minutes, and the apple-goop has coagulated into a thin layer of syrup that's smeared all over the plate and her fork.
  810. >"A mare like me could afford just about anything, you know."
  811. "Oh yeah?"
  813. >"And I do mean..."
  814. >Spitfire maintains eye-contact as she pops the small chunk of pie into her mouth.
  815. >She chews it slowly, savouring the home-made flavour, and then she swallows.
  816. >"...anything." she finishes with a wink.
  817. "Wow."
  819. >Spitfire's not done yet.
  820. >"And when you add Dash to the mix, you've got yourself quite a bit of wealth. The services of a Wonderbolt aren't something that any ol' mare can do, and so we're reimbursed pretty well. Imagine being the herd-colt of a pair of Wonderbolts.
  821. >You've heard the word "Wonderbolt" so many times in the last twenty or thirty minutes that it's lost all meaning to you.
  822. >It's just noise.
  823. >It's JUST noise.
  824. >Look, you just...
  825. >What happened to the charm she was putting on a while back?
  826. >It was the only thing that had a chance of saving your entire experience with her.
  827. >First you get an impromptu marriage proposal - TWO of them - dropped on your lap.
  828. >Then your carpet gets ruined, and your window is broken.
  829. >You thought that maybe Rainbow Dash would show up for lunch - god only knows that mare doesn't skip a meal - but no such luck.
  830. >"Hmmm..."
  831. >Spitfire tilts her head, looking at you curiously.
  832. >"Well, shoot. That normally works on normal stallions."
  833. >You stare at her, unimpressed.
  834. "Yeah," you deadpan, unaware of the dried smear of pie on the corner of your mouth, "I'm a complicated guy."
  835. >Spitfire quirks an eyebrow, either unimpressed or just not believing you.
  836. >"Apparently."
  837. >Son of a bitch, this mare can alternate between "likable" and "insufferable" like she's flipping a switch.
  838. >"Did you know that else is complex?" she asks, leaning in close, "My knowledge on how to please a stallion."
  839. >LIKE
  840. >A
  841. >SWITCH
  842. "Okay, look," you say, thorougly fed up, "It's pretty obvious that Rainbow Dash isn't about to turn up here."
  843. >You wipe your mouth with your napkin and place it down on your empty plate.
  844. >...Spitfire was right; this is some of the best pie you've ever had.
  845. "How about we check out her cloud-house?" you suggest, pushing your chair back, "Maybe you can fly up and see if she's there. I know a few spots that Rainbow Dash likes to ha-"
  846. >"Don't worry your pretty head about it, Anonymous," interrupts Spitfire, "I know what I'm doing."
  847. >Her face is serious, and none of the playful flirting is there anymore.
  848. >"I know Rainbow Dash pretty well, Anonymous; probably almost as well as you know her. I've worked with her for a while, and I know how she reacts to stress and pressure. And I also know that her love of apples doesn't stop at cider."
  849. >She tilts her head up and scans the sky with her eyes.
  850. >"It's honestly just a matter of time before she shows up here, Anonymous. I didn't bring us here just because I felt like pie; I came here because I know that if cider isn't available, she'll get apple pie instead to deal with the stress. And guess who introduced her to the best place in town to get a slice?"
  851. >Head still tilted skyward, she glances down at you with her eyes and winks, smirking in a very self-satisfied way.
  852. >"Give it twenty more minutes at the most, Anonymous," she says smugly, "We don't have to find Rainbow Dash; Rainbow Dash will find us."
  853. >
  854. "What, seriously?"
  855. >So that's why Rainbow smells like pie whenever she's upset.
  856. >Spitfire laughs softly.
  857. >"C'mon, Anonymous. I'm not some flirty college-filly hoping to buy a stallion's love with some stupid pie. I'm the Captain of the Wonderbolts for a darn good reason. We need Rainbow Dash here to sort everything out, and I wanted to find out exactly what sort of stallion I was dealing with."
  858. >No way.
  859. >No FUCKING way.
  860. "Are you serious right now?" you ask, not sure if you should feel frustrated or impressed, "Are you actually telling me that all that flirty-"
  861. >You start to crudely gesture towards your crotch a couple of times.
  862. "-'look at my money-clit' thing was just you... testing to see how I'd react?"
  863. >Spitfire nods.
  864. >"Something like that. I trust Rainbow Dash's judgement, but I wanted to find out what the big deal about you was before we went any further."
  865. >She giggles at the shocked look on your face.
  866. >"And it looks like I still got it!" she crows proudly, wings twitching.
  867. >She settles down and levels you with a pleasant -if stern - smile.
  868. >"I'm a grown-up, Anon, and I've trained enough stallions to know that you get nowhere fast by treating them that way."
  869. >Spitfire slowly pulls her sunglasses out of her front pocket and shoves them onto her face.
  870. >And then, without warning, she rears up and SLAMS her forehooves onto the surface of your table, making your plates and forks jump.
  871. "FUCK"
  872. >You nearly jump out of your skin (and your chair).
  873. >"First rule of being a Wonderbolt!" she roars, "You NEVER go into a situation without knowing what you're getting into!"
  874. >She rears up and slams her hooves against the table top again.
  875. >You're fast enough to scramble and grab your plate to hold it against the table, but with both hands occupied, you're powerless to stop your half-empty glass of milk from tipping over and spilling everywhere.
  877. >"Second rule of being a Wonderbolt!" Spitfire yells again, "You NEVER leave a Sister-In-Hooves behind, no matter what! If Rainbow Dash decides to pursue this, then so will I! I'm not going to let her down, and I'm going to be there when she needs me!"
  878. >You whip your head around, and you notice that ponies are staring.
  879. >Not just in a "oh wow is that an alien and a Wonderbolt" way, but a "oh shit what the fuck is that bitch doing, should I call the manager?" sort of way.
  880. >Spitfire rears up a third time.
  882. >"Third rule of being a Won-oh!"
  883. >You dart forward and catch her hooves before they can hit the table a third time.
  884. >Spitfire wasn't expecting this and she overbalances, nearly headbutting you in the process.
  885. "Okay! I get it!" you shout back at her, spluttering slightly, "Wonderbolts fuck together! Fine! Whatever!"
  886. >You and Spitfire are both breathing heavily.
  887. >Her, from the exertion of being a fucking weirdo.
  888. >You, from the blind panic you felt when this horse began yelling at you and started knocking all your shit off of the table.
  889. >Not even your glass of milk was safe.
  890. >What is with ponies today and spilling drinks whenever they're around you?!
  891. >Spitfire eyes you up and down, her hooves still in your hands.
  892. >A tiny smile tugs at the corners of her lips.
  893. >Spitfire licks her lips and winks at you, and then leans in close.
  894. >"Did I ever tell you that I can tie a knot in a cherry stem using only the internal muscles of my vagina?"
  895. > this mare fucking serious right now?
  896. >You let go of Spitfire's forelegs and lean back into your seat, and watch her scramble not to faceplant the dirty table.
  897. "Fuck off."
  898. >As soon as Spitfire recovers and finds her seat again, she harumphs at you, crossing her forelegs like a huffy child.
  899. >"I was just teasing you, Anonymous. I have to do something to entertain myself until Rainbow Dash sho-"
  900. >>"Anon?"
  901. >...
  902. >Was that fucking Rainbow Dash's voice?
  903. >Rainbow Dash, looking about as surprised as you feel, trots up towards your table.
  904. >She looks a bit startled, like your presence here caught her flat-footed.
  905. >Flat-hooved?
  906. >You can't help the grin that slips easily and naturally onto your face.
  907. >You lean back in your chair so that it's balancing on the two rear legs.
  908. "Well," you drawl, stretching out the 'L' on 'well', "look who decided to show up."
  909. >Rainbow's expression relaxes, and an easy grin that mirrors yours stretches her lips.
  910. >>"You're one to talk, big guy," Rainbow chirps, "Scootaloo and I were lookin' all over for you."
  911. >...Scootaloo, huh?
  912. >Your brow furrows in confusion as you peer around, but you don't see the little orange filly anywhere.
  913. "Scootaloo is here? Where is sh-"
  914. >>>"AUNTIE SPITS!"
  915. >An orange-and-purple blur flies out from behind Rainbow Dash and slams into Spitfire.
  916. "Oh, god."
  917. >SHE'S 'Auntie Spits'?!
  918. >Oh god, Scootaloo's been talking about SPITFIRE this entire time you've been foal-sitting her?!
  919. >Spitfire's entire demeanor changes.
  920. >Gone is the flirty horse who was just bragging about her wealth and issuing secret tests of character to unsuspecting aliens.
  921. >In her place is a grinning mare who's just about the happiest you've seen her so far today.
  922. >"There's my little filly!"
  923. >Spitfire catches Scootaloo in mid-air and leaps from her chair, spinning the two of them around in mid-air with a few powerful flaps of her wings.
  924. >Scootaloo looks absolutely thrilled and wriggles deeper into Spitfire's chest.
  925. >Spitfire looks just as happy as her niece, closing her eyes and nuzzling the top of Scootaloo's head.
  926. >After a few moments of mid-air snuggling, Spitfire eases them both back down to the ground, where she releases the filly.
  927. >"What're you doin' here, kid?"
  928. >Scootaloo trots back over to a shell-shocked Rainbow Dash, and you just now notice that she hasn't moved an inch.
  929. >Rainbow Dash looks like a living statue, and she even teeters stiff-legged back and forth on the spot when Scootaloo nudges the older mare's leg with a hoof.
  930. >>>"Me an' Rainbow Dash were playing!" babbles Scootaloo.
  931. >The words are coming out of her mouth so fast that she's practically tripping over her own tongue.
  932. >>>"And then we saw it was almost lunch time, and then Rainbow Dash said she'd take me out to get some pie!"
  933. >Scootaloo does that excited thing where she rears up and kicks her forehooves.
  934. >>>"Dad NEVER lets me have pie for lunch!"
  935. >Now, you've been silent this entire time, watching the scene play out.
  936. >In fact, you've been paying quite a bit of attention to Spitfire after seeing her transform from a "look at my money-dick" mare to someone you're surprised to hear is ONLY Scootaloo's aunt; she's behaving mores like the little filly's mother.
  937. >Since you're paying such close attention, you don't miss the way Spitfire winces when Scootaloo mentions how her dad doesn't let her have pie for lunch.
  938. >Given this mare's love for apple pie, you guess it must be a sore spot for her.
  939. >You nearly laugh out loud at the thought; she must think Scootaloo's dad is a monster for not letting the kid have pie for lunch.
  940. >"No kidding, huh?" Spitfire asks in a clipped tone.
  941. >Her voice is slightly strained, and her back arches a little bit for just a moment, like a distressed cat.
  942. >A split-second later, Spitfire plasters a smile back onto her face, but it looks incredibly genuine.
  943. >"Well," she says in a loud stage-whisper, leaning in close to Scootaloo and holding the back of her hoof to her mouth as though it would prevent anypony from hearing her speaking at her normal volume, "Let's not tell him that you're having pie for lunch with Anonymous and I."
  944. >Scootaloo's ears perk up right at the end of that sentence.
  945. >>>"Nonny's here?!"
  946. >She swivels her head around until she catches sight of you, at which time her little wings buzz and she hops up and down.
  947. >>>"Nonny!"
  948. >She gallops around the table and stops just to the side of your chair.
  949. >She wiggles her butt (for a speed boost) and then leaps up onto your lap like a cat.
  950. >Immediately, the filly rears up on her hind legs and props herself up on your chest.
  951. >An aggressive nuzzle makes itself known on your face, and you don't waste time wrapping the filly up into a hug.
  952. "How's my favourite f-PPFT!"
  953. >You pull your head back and spit out a tiny orange feather.
  954. >Yeesh, it must be molting season.
  955. >It's springtime, so ponies everywhere are losing their winter coats; or winter feathers, in the case of pegasi.
  956. >Scootaloo is too excited to notice.
  957. >You gather your wits and try again.
  958. "How's my favourite little filly?"
  959. >Scootaloo giggles and leans heavily against your chest, much like how Rainbow Dash did just a few hours ago.
  960. >Christ, it feels like a few DAYS ago.
  961. >>>"Good!"
  962. >She pulls back after a few moments of stealing your body warmth like a heat-vampire and peers up at you quizzically.
  963. >>>"How come you couldn't make it before?"
  964. >Before?
  965. >Before what?
  966. "You mean when I was supposed to foal-sit you a few days ago?"
  967. >Scootaloo nods and goes "Mm-hmm".
  968. >You give her a quick scratch behind the ears as an apology.
  969. "Sorry, kiddo. I forgot that I had rescheduled my weekly meeting with Twilight Sparkle. Was the replacement sitter alright?"
  970. >Scootaloo nods, but looks disappointed.
  971. >>>"Yeah. He was really nice, but he didn't play with me like you did."
  972. >Aww.
  973. >"Hey, kid?" asks Spitfire, "You want the rest of my pie to tide you over until we order something? Your auntie's full."
  974. >Scootaloo leaps off of your lap and onto the table, where she trots over to where her aunt is.
  975. >With Scootaloo safely standing on the table (and nibbling on the remains of her aunt's pie), a recently-recovered Rainbow Dash is safe to hop up onto your lap.
  976. >>"Scootaloo is Spitfire's niece?!"
  977. >You guess the shock wore off.
  978. >She wraps her forehooves around your neck and presses her snoot against your nose.
  979. >>"You've been FOAL-SITTING Spitfir-?!"
  980. >Chu~
  981. >>"-AARRH!"
  982. >Rainbow Dash rockets backwards across the table, trips over the back of a chair, slams on onto the ground, and nearly scares the PISS out of Scootaloo.
  983. >The force of Rainbow launching herself backwards pushes you away, and your chair tips away from the table and you land (unharmed; your head didn't hit the ground) on the ground.
  984. >Had you not just accidentally gotten kissed by your friend, you might have had the presence of mind to do something to help yourself.
  985. >Like, to grab onto the table, or to break your fall with your hands or something.
  986. >You're not doing much better; you're frozen in place from shock.
  987. >Just by moving her lips to speak, Rainbow Dash accidentally k-kissed you.
  988. >You can see Scootaloo over the edge of the table, still standing on the surface and with her back arched like a cat.
  989. >She's whipping her head back and forth between you and where you presume Rainbow Dash fell down indecisively, like she doesn't know which person to investigate first.
  990. >After a long, awkward moment, Spitfire begins to chuckle to herself from deep in her throat.
  991. >"Atta gal, Rainbow Dash. I always knew you'd knock a colt flat, someday."
  992. >Despite everything that just happened, that lame pun gets a grin out of you.
  993. ---
  994. >It is a few minutes later, and everything has calmed down.
  995. >Scootaloo has her own slice of pie in front of her, which she is happily munching on.
  996. >Rainbow Dash is sitting on a chair she nabbed from an adjacent table, which she has facing backwards; chair-back facing the table like she's a cool teen from one of your Western high-school sitcoms.
  997. >Spitfire looks up at you with clear admiration in her eyes.
  998. >For once, she's not looking at you like either a piece of meat (does that expression even work with ponies?) or some sort of free real estate.
  999. >"So, no joke, huh? You're this 'Nonny' character that's been foal-sitting my little niece?" she asks, sounding a little bit distracted, "Scootaloo's always talking about you, you know."
  1000. >She glances at Rainbow Dash and winks at her.
  1001. >"Whenever she isn't talking about Rainbow Dash, that is."
  1002. >Rainbow Dash's ears flick twice, but she doesn't visibly react.
  1003. >You turn your attention back to Spitfire; who is apparently the aunt of your favourite little filly.
  1004. >The filly who idolizes Rainbow Dash, who in turn idolized Spitfire.
  1005. >You're sure there's some sort of irony in this situation.
  1006. "So, you're her aunt? How the hell did we manage to go all this time without realizing that we were... er, us?"
  1007. >Why didn't Scootaloo ever talk to you about Spitfire being her aunt?
  1008. >You turn to Scootaloo.
  1009. "Scootaloo, are you telling me that 'Auntie Spits' is... is Spitfire? As in Captain Spitfire, of the Wonderbolts?"
  1010. >Scootaloo, face smeared with pie, looks confused.
  1011. >>>"Well, yeah. Who else COULD she be?"
  1012. >Oh, this is awkward.
  1013. >"Anon," asks Rainbow Dash, embarrassed but recovered, "Why in Equestria didn't you TELL me that Scootaloo was Spitfire's niece?"
  1014. >Rainbow Dash speaks quickly and in a very slightly clipped tone, which makes sense; she's probably really excited that her favourite little filly is Spitfire's niece, AND she's a bit annoyed that you (sort of) knew this and didn't tell anyone.
  1015. >But, you feel like you have a pretty good reason.
  1016. "Y'see," you begin hesitantly, now feeling a bit embarrassed, "I didn't think that 'Spits' was short for a regular pony name."
  1017. >Spitfire herself looks curious and tilts her head at you."
  1018. >>"What did you think it meant, Anonymous?"
  1019. >You now feel distinctly awkward, and you rub the back of your head.
  1020. "I kinda thought that it was a... a rude nickname that her aunt had picked up. I thought she might ask someone at home about 'aunt spits' if I asked too much about her, and then we'd both get into trouble."
  1021. >The table is dead quiet.
  1022. >Your eyes dart around between Spitfire and Rainbow Dash.
  1023. >Spitfire doesn't look very amused by this development.
  1024. >Rainbow Dash, on the other hand, is biting the tip of one of her forehooves.
  1025. >She's shaking, her face is bright red, and she's trying desperately not to laugh.
  1026. >Scootaloo looks totally lost.
  1027. >>>"What'dya mean, Nonny?" she asks innocently, "Why's it rude if a mare gets called 'Spits', huh?"
  1028. >And that right there breaks the the dam; Rainbow Dash collapses onto the ground in peals of laughter.
  1029. >"I co-! Y'shou-! B-Buckin-! D'ya reall-?!"
  1030. >Rainbow is laughing so hard that she's incapable of speaking.
  1031. >She's laughing so hard that she can only make breathless yelping noises, like a puppy.
  1032. >Seeing your friend like this makes you start to laugh, too.
  1033. >You turn to Spitfire, and she's struggling to keep a straight face.
  1034. >The corners of her lips are twitching (she would later tell you that this whole ordeal was actually pretty funny), but she's successfully keeping the giggling inside of her.
  1035. >Scootaloo, meanwhile, looks confused, and she's whipping her head between you and Rainbow Dash.
  1036. >>>"Why is everypony laughing?"
  1037. >You make eye-contact with Spitfire just in time to see her glance away from her niece so that she doesn't have to look the outraged filly in the eye.
  1038. >A couple of snickers are starting to escape her tightly-shut lips.
  1039. >Scootaloo looks outraged in only the way that a small child can.
  1040. >>>"Why is everypony laughing?!" she demands angrily, "What's so funny?!"
  1041. >You just cover your face with your hands as the sound of laughter picks up.
  1042. ---
  1043. Update: May 21
  1044. So 4chan's being a nigger and flags my posts as spam.
  1045. >You catch up to Spitfire and Scootaloo a few minutes later.
  1046. >They're waiting for you just at the 4-way street junction that's about a block away from your house.
  1047. >Scootaloo has wriggled free of her aunt's toothy grip at some point in the past, and is now perched on Spitfires back.
  1048. >She's essentially straddling her neck, and is resting her head and forehooves up on top of Spitfire's mane.
  1049. >The older mare is taking it all in stride and is ignoring the looks that she's getting from other ponies just going for walks or heading somewhere to take care of business.
  1050. >Scootaloo spots you first; she baps the very tip-top of Spitfire's head with a hoof and points towards you.
  1051. >With an easy grin, Spitfire greets you.
  1052. >>"Hey there, you two," she drawls, "Me an' Scootaloo were wondering if you were ever gonna show up."
  1053. >Spitfire peers up at her niece, who is still draped over her neck and head.
  1054. >>"Right, kiddo?"
  1055. >>>"Right, auntie Spits!"
  1056. "Sorry, Scootaloo," you quip, "Rainbow Dash took too long to tie up her shoes."
  1057. >Scootaloo nods in acceptance of that excuse.
  1058. >>>"Oh, okay."
  1059. >One whole second later, she stops, brow furrowed in concentration.
  1060. >>>"Wait."
  1061. >This gets a snicker out of you.
  1062. >Fucking ponies.
  1063. >The four of you walk down the last street leading to your house.
  1064. >You've got Rainbow Dash on your left, and Spitfire (and Scootaloo, still draped over her neck) on your right.
  1065. >Your house comes into sight, and you sigh at the sight of your broken window.
  1066. >Spitfire cringes at the sight of the smashed glass and grimaces.
  1067. >>"Oh, right," Spitfire croaks.
  1068. >A bird flies out of your broken windows and off into the distance.
  1069. >>"That."
  1070. "Yeah," you sigh, long and unhappily, "That. I'm gonna have to get the bolt from the blue-"
  1071. >You jerk your thumb over your left shoulder and point over at Rainbow Dash.
  1072. "-to either fork over the bits for a new window, or just skip the middleman and go find a repair-mare."
  1073. >Yeesh.
  1074. >You have house insurance, right?
  1075. >Does that cover broken windows, or is that only under certain circumstances?
  1076. > don't think house insurance would cover windows specifically.
  1077. >That sounds dumb.
  1078. >Maybe you need...
  1079. >...window insurance?
  1080. >Can you get that?
  1081. >Do you HAVE that?
  1082. >You glance over to Rainbow Dash, who tilts her head up at you curiously.
  1083. >The orange light of the setting sun glints off a small piece of glass still stuck in her mane.
  1084. >You bet they don't sell window insurance to people who live near pegasi.
  1085. >This CAN'T be the first time something like this has ever happened.
  1086. >Rainbow should have been cut to ribbons, but she's just fine.
  1087. >Maybe the glass is just built differently here.
  1088. >You walk over to inspect the damage, careful not to walk in the shards of broken glass on your lawn.
  1089. "Christ, this is the worst."
  1090. >Spitfire peers over at you, looking vaguely concerned.
  1091. >>"What're you gonna do?"
  1092. >You shrug.
  1093. "Tape some cardboard over it and try to clean up the shards, I guess. I can't do anything until tomorrow, since the stores are all closing right about now."
  1094. >She scoffs and looks at you disbelievingly.
  1095. >"You're not going to try and fix it yourself, are you?"
  1096. >You know where that comment is coming from - colts can't into home repair.
  1097. >It's why the mares get things likes neckties and drills for mother's day, but the stallions get housecoats and new frying pans on father's day.
  1098. >But you fucking suck at home repairs, and you've already broken a window pane before in the past.
  1099. "Fudge, no." you reply promptly, making an effort not to swear in front of an impressionable filly, "I'm going to pay some mare who knows what she's doing to get this thing done."
  1100. >But, that's a job fo-
  1101. >>"...did you just say 'fudge'?"
  1103. >Right now, it's time to get inside and find some cardboard for a MacGyver-style repair job.
  1104. >...that is, if MacGyver were really bad at improvising and using the materials he had available to him.
  1105. >You walk over to your door and remember that you locked it when you left with Spitfire.
  1106. >Ponies are nice and all, and crime is virtually non-existent, but a bunch of habits from Earth have carried over with you to Equestria.
  1107. >Hell, some models of house don't even come with a lock on the door.
  1108. >Ponies are legitimately just that friendly.
  1109. "One sec, lemme find my keys," you mutter as you dig into your pockets, "I usually remember to take them with me when I-"
  1110. >CLICK
  1112. >You look up to find your front door open and Rainbow Dash standing in the doorway, staring up at you from inside your house.
  1113. >She smiles up at you earnestly as you remove your hands from your pockets.
  1114. >"You know your window's broken, right?"
  1115. >...
  1116. "Oh. Right."
  1117. >You knew that.
  1118. >You were just making sure that THEY knew that.
  1119. >Spitfire giggles as she walks past you, Scootaloo still laying on her back.
  1120. >>"Colts," she huffs dismissively, "Where'd you be without a mare to keep your head on straight?"
  1121. ---
  1122. >The four of you gather in your living-room shortly after you enter the house.
  1123. >Scootaloo has departed the four-legged orange taxi and has started to construct a blanket nest/fort on your couch.
  1124. >She's been running around your house, gathering pillows and blankets as raw building materials; taking them from your bedroom, your linen closet, and even grabbing those shitty, uncomfortable throw-pillows and decorative blankets you keep on your couches.
  1125. >You're honestly a bit jealous of her right now.
  1126. >You could be digging your way into a blanket fort with only comfort and warmth on your mind.
  1127. >Instead, you're standing here next to Spitfire, contemplating your aggressively shattered window.
  1128. >You NEEDED that.
  1129. >Next to you is Rainbow Dash, and-
  1130. >...
  1131. >Wait, no she isn't.
  1132. >You look around for a second, not seeing the wild blue yonder anywhere in sight.
  1133. "Hey," you say, tapping Spitfire on the withers, "Did you see Rainbow Dash anywhere?"
  1134. >Spitfire shakes her head, barely sparing you a glance.
  1135. >>"You know," she says at last, "This thing was kind of my fault. I'm Rainbow Dash's Captain, and it was my job to know how she responds to commands and prompts."
  1136. >She turns to you and sits, back straight and peering straight ahead, like a soldier.
  1137. >>"I feel it is my responsibility to cover the costs of fixing this window."
  1138. >Huh.
  1139. >How delightfully straight-forward of her.
  1140. >And also, how suspiciously generous of her.
  1141. >You think you'll turn her offer down, to be quite honest.
  1142. >You're doing fairly well for yourself right now thanks to your foal-sitting (which is a surprisingly lucrative business), and replacing a window won't mean you can't pay for groceries that week.
  1143. >Besides, you're pretty uncomfortable at the idea of accepting payment from a stranger who's trying to be your friend.
  1144. >...or get into your pants.
  1145. >Frankly, there are a lot of things about this entire situation that make you uncomfortable; and a business transaction is probably the least uncomfortable part.
  1146. "I appreciate the offer," you say at last, "But I'll be fine. You don't have to do that."
  1147. >You're a big boy, and you're okay with doing big-boy adult things in life.
  1148. "Besides, this wouldn't be the first time Rainbow went too fast and broke something of mine."
  1149. >You chuckle and eye the ugly, taped-up horse-ming vase you have sitting on an equally taped-up end table.
  1150. "She'll feel bad for a few days and take me out for dinner, or she'll cover Friday's drinks for a couple of weeks."
  1151. >You wave a dismissive hand.
  1152. "You don't have to worry about that, Spitfire."
  1153. >Spitfire eyes you suspiciously.
  1154. >>"You... don't want me to pay for it?" she asks you slowly, eyes narrowing, "Because windows are expensive."
  1155. >True, but that's not her problem, nor is it her business.
  1156. "Correct," you say just as slowly, and with a tone of finality, "It's my window, so I'll pay for it."
  1157. >Maybe that's straight-forward enough for her to pick up on the "fuck outta my business" you had subtly hidden away in that sentence.
  1158. >Spitfire just tilts her head at you, like she can't quite believe what she's hearing.
  1159. >>"But I took responsibility," she continues, as though she hadn't heard you, "And I'm offering to dump bits onto it."
  1160. >At this point, you're starting to get annoyed.
  1161. >You've all but said out loud that this is none of her business, and that you don't want her money.
  1162. >Why can't she believe that you do NOT want any of her money?!
  1163. "That's very... considerate of you," you say in a clipped and annoyed tone, voice low as not to disturb Scootaloo, "But I don't want your money. I will deal with this-" you point at the window. "-myself. End of story."
  1164. >Spitfire gives you a look you can't quite decipher.
  1165. >It's like she took "disbelief" and "confusion", and made them have babies together.
  1166. >And her current expression is that baby.
  1167. >...
  1168. >Yeesh.
  1169. >The point is, she looks like the only thing keeping her from calling you a bullshit liar is the presence of her niece in the room.
  1170. >>"...alright," she says at last, sounding skeptical, "I guess."
  1171. >She brushes past you and makes her way over to Scootaloo.
  1172. >>"If papa ain't happy," she mutters quietly, probably not intending you to hear her, "Ain't nopony happy."
  1173. >Okay, now she's just being an ass.
  1174. >Is refusing money an Equestrian taboo you're not aware of?
  1175. "Alright, Misses Fix-It," you call after her, "Tell you what - if you want to help so badly, why don't you HELP me find some cardboard and a roll of tape? I wanna get the hole in my house covered up before any of Fluttershy's woodland creatures decide that my couch looks a lot more comfortable than the ground."
  1176. >Spitfire looks a bit less grumpy as she follows you around your house.
  1177. >It's another thirty minutes before you've found the materials and made sure that all the glass was cleaned up from your floor.
  1178. >And despite your expectations, it's an ADDITIONAL half-hour before the two of you get that fucker taped over the hole formally known as your living-room window.
  1179. >By this point, Spitfire's looking pretty pleased with herself.
  1180. >She took off her blue Captain jacket and has that draped over a chair in your kitchen.
  1181. >Her white button-up horse-shirt has had the sleeved sloppily rolled up to the horse-elbow, and she's got a pencil tucked behind her ear.
  1182. >You wanted to just tape a few chunks of cardboard over the window and be done with it, but then Spitfire basically turned into your dad and made a big project out of it.
  1183. >You guess that stereotype about mares and home repair was true.
  1184. >>"Alright... that should do it!"
  1185. >Spitfire takes a step back and admires her work.
  1186. >She's got measurements drawn out on the surface of the cardboard, and even a few short mathematical equations that she swore was required to figure out how big (or small) you needed to cut the cardboard.
  1187. >Apparently, you couldn't put it up unless it was the "proper" size.
  1188. >You won't lie - you gave up about five minutes into the attempted and let Spitfire figure it out.
  1189. >Spitfire seemed more than happy to take over, frankly.
  1190. >You've spent this time sitting on your couch - the one with the blanket fort on it - and absently petting Scootaloo's ears.
  1191. >The filly fell asleep after just a few minutes of this, and is currently half-covered by the blankets, and half-sprawled out over your lap.
  1192. >It's the cutest goddamn thing and you love it.
  1193. >Spitfire spins around and beams proudly up at you.
  1194. >>"That should hold until you get your window fixed, 'Non!" she crows, waking up her niece with a start, "It fits perfectly into the frame, so that tape won't strip the paint from the wall! And it's nice and tight, so it won't let in any wind or moisture."
  1195. ""
  1196. >You hadn't thought about either of those things.
  1197. >You were some asshole who was about to ruin the paint-job on his own walls.
  1198. >You feel your respect for Spitfire raise a bit.
  1199. "Thanks, Spitfire," you say, appreciation clear in your tone, "that's a WAY better job than I would have done."
  1200. >Spitfire preens under the praise, raising her head and poofing out her chest.
  1201. >Her chest tuft is stuck under her shirt, but it still pokes out the top and in between the buttons.
  1202. >>"No problem, 'Non. It felt good to do something with my hooves."
  1203. >She hops up on the couch next to you and leans against the arm-rest.
  1204. >>"I haven't felt this relaxed in a long time."
  1205. >Scootaloo scrambles over your lap (narrowly avoiding stepping on your testicles) and curls up against Spitfire, who wraps a foreleg around her.
  1206. >Without missing a beat, Spitfire lowers her head and starts to lick Scootaloo's head, like one cat grooming another one.
  1207. >You can't look away from this adorable display.
  1208. >>>"Ew, stop!" moans Scootaloo, thoroughly annoyed by this, "I already had a bath today, mama!"
  1209. >Scootaloo begins to fuss and scrambles her little legs to try and tug herself away, but Spitfire deftly and expertly nabs her and pulls her back in.
  1210. >It actually takes you a few seconds to realize that you just heard Scootaloo refer to Spitfire as her mom.
  1211. >It sounded so natural coming out of her mouth that it didn't even register in your brain as something that's factually incorrect.
  1212. >First of all, that was adorable.
  1213. >Second of all, that means one of two things.
  1214. >Either Spitfire lied about her familial relationship to Scootaloo for no reason and is actually the filly's real mom, or Scootaloo sees Spitfire as more of a mom than her actual mom.
  1215. >Now that you think about it, you don't think you've ever seen Scootaloo's mom before.
  1216. >You've seen her dad plenty of times whenever you pick Scootaloo up for the evening (and when you collect your payment), but you've never seen - or heard, for that matter - another mare in that house.
  1217. >Maybe this is why Spitfire is so close to Scootaloo.
  1218. >Maybe she's the closest thing this poor thing has to a mother.
  1219. >You look away uncomfortably, feeling as though you're intruding on a private moment.
  1220. >You've been worried for a while about Scootaloo's home life, and this just adds to it.
  1221. >You might not understand Equestrian society as well as you probably should (you've lived her for how long? Two years?), but you can't remember the last time you saw a stallion with a foal, living by himself.
  1222. >Living without at least one or two mares, you mean.
  1223. >Suddenly, those moments where Scootaloo accidentally called you 'papa' make a hell of a lot more sense than before.
  1224. >You thought it was like when you called your 4th grade math teacher 'mommy' that one time.
  1225. >But now...
  1226. >>"Hey, 'Non?"
  1227. >You're jolted out of your introspection by Spitfire.
  1228. >She's done grooming Scootaloo, and she's looking up at you calmly.
  1229. "What's up, Spitfire?"
  1230. >>"You mind if me an' Scootaloo here stay the night?"
  1231. >Stay the night?
  1232. >Why would they want to d-
  1233. >>"This little rascal-"
  1234. >Spitfire nudges the top of Scootaloo's head with her muzzle.
  1235. >>"-is getting sleepy, and it's after dark. I was hoping that we could all go out together some time tomorrow, and maybe staying the night wouldn't be that big of a deal."
  1236. >You look down at Scootaloo.
  1237. >She looks like she's dozing off, and her mane is a lot neater than it used to be.
  1238. "...thinkin' of us going out, huh?"
  1239. >Spitfire nods.
  1240. "For what; a walk in the park?"
  1241. >>"Nah, I was thinkin' more along the lines of dinner."
  1242. >Dinner?
  1243. >Well, now.
  1244. >If you understand your mealtimes properly, that takes place rather late in the day.
  1245. >You'd go so far as to call it your evening meal.
  1246. "And you want to stay the night so that you'll be just in time for... dinnertime at 7PM?"
  1247. >You quirk an eyebrow at Spitfire.
  1248. >This feels more like she's using a sleepy filly and a far-off get-together plan as an excuse to touch your dick while you sleep.
  1249. >...
  1250. >That's happened before.
  1251. >It's part of the reason why you get free booze from the Apple family every once in a while.
  1252. >You don't really like to talk about it.
  1253. >Rather than answer your question, Spitfire just rolls her eyes.
  1254. >>"Think of it this way, 'Non: right now, you've got a big ol' hole in the wall. And all the tape and cardboard in the world wouldn't keep a mare from getting into your house; your door locks are useless."
  1255. >Ooh, tempting.
  1256. >Very tempting.
  1257. >Except that it's not tempting at all.
  1258. "I have Rainbow Dash over right now... somewhere, anyway," you point out, "She's a vicious attack-dog when you wake her up too suddenly, so I should be fine."
  1259. >Spitfire nods, agreeing with you.
  1260. >>"Yeah, and now you'll have TWO attack-dogs to keep you safe."
  1261. >You open your mouth to retort, but almost immediately, you hear a voice shouting over from your couch/pegasus nest.
  1262. >>>"Three mares!" chirps Scootaloo, sleepily nuzzling against her aunt's chin..
  1263. >Spitfire chuckles indulgently at the sound of her niece's encouragement.
  1264. >"See? Even Scootaloo wants to keep the poor, defenseless stallion safe."
  1265. >You feel your resolve crumbling as you look into Scootaloo's big, excited (and sleepy) eyes.
  1266. >Dammit, you're such a sucker for adorable fillies.
  1267. >No matter what the situation, you fold faster than a house of cards.
  1268. >Like that time Scootaloo and her friends wanted you to help them get their cutie marks.
  1269. >They were up in a tree and they wanted to see if their home-made parachutes would let them glide gracefully to the ground.
  1270. >You aren't sure what sort of cutie mark that act would inspire, but you're pretty sure it wouldn't have worked.
  1271. >You had little toy soldiers as a kid - specifically, the ones with the shitty plastic parachutes.
  1272. >You know, the ones where the threading would get all tangled up after the first time you tossed them off the top of your staircase, and then they'd never work again.
  1273. >The point here is, they weighed a hell of a lot less, had a hell of a lot bigger parachute (relative to its size), and were easily falling from twice the height of the branch that these fillies were perched on.
  1274. >Needless to say, you put a stop to that.
  1275. >But then they looked at you with those big, sad, disappointed eyes.
  1276. >They looked like you just told them that Santa Claus was not real, and their puppy was dead.
  1277. >Or, that Santa Pup was not only not real, but he'd been dead this entire time.
  1278. >Or some combination of suitably traumatic events that would make a small horse-child cry.
  1279. >You could have chastised them like a responsible adult.
  1280. >You could have helped them down from the tree and told their respective guardians what they had just attempted to do so that they could get an appropriate talking-to later on, after they were sent to bed with no supper.
  1281. >You could have done a lot of things.
  1282. >What you DID do, on the other hand, was help them down, give them all big hugs, told them not to give up, and then took the out for ice cream.
  1283. >Aaaaaaand helped them see if "getting a piggy-back ride from a human" was their special talent.
  1284. >That got you a lot of brownie points in town; especially from ponies who, at that point, still weren't 100% sure about you.
  1285. >You didn't know it at the time, but you cemented your reputation as a kind, caring, foal-protective individual.
  1286. >That's probably why you get foal-sitting gigs so easily, come to think.
  1287. >So, the point here is that you're like every dad of a small child ever.
  1288. >And you can't just look Scootaloo dead in the eyes and tell her that you don't want her help.
  1289. >She's doing her best, and she cares about you.
  1290. >While you're busy staring at Scootaloo, Spitfire is busy staring at YOU.
  1291. >Specifically, she's watching your heart melt as tiny baby Scootaloo declares that she'll protect you from hypothetical bad guys who are breaking into your house.
  1292. >You don't know this, but opinions are being formed in her head.
  1293. >Opinions about you as a male.
  1294. >You, my friend, have just been firmly lodged into the "he's got big paternal potential" section of her brain.
  1295. >Or, something to that effect.
  1296. >Back in the present, you do what you were afraid you'd do in the face of a cute filly; you give up immediately.
  1297. "Well..." you say slowly, still pretending that there's still a chance that you won't say 'yes', "I guess you the two of you could stay the night."
  1298. >You had better never have a filly like Scootaloo, someday.
  1299. >Because she is going to have you wrapped around her little hoof in no-time.
  1300. >You reach over to Scootaloo - who is about a foot or so away from you - and boop her smartly on the nose/
  1301. >Scootaloo responds immediately by sneezing like the cutie-patootie she is.
  1302. >If nothing else, this wakes her up a bit, because now she's staring at you with wide-awake eyes.
  1303. >[spoiler]You're suddenly reminded of stories your mom told you about when you were a tiny baby child. She'd put you to bed, sing for you, and just as she'd sneak out of the room, your little eyes would pop right open and she'd have to start all over again.[/spoiler]
  1304. "I can trust a big filly like you to keep me safe, right?"
  1305. >Scootaloo grins and nods enthusiastically.
  1306. >>>"You bet, Nonny! Me an' auntie Spits will make sure nopony ever hurts you!"
  1307. >Adorable.
  1308. >Questionably true at the moment, but still adorable.
  1309. >You straighten back up and peer back at Spitfire, suddenly aware that she saw that whole thing.
  1310. >The older orange mare just grins at you like a hyena, and she's giving you some bedroom eyes.
  1311. >>"What she said, 'Non," she drawls, "You'll be safe and sound in my forelegs while you're warming my bed."
  1312. >...Again; questionably true at the moment.
  1313. >Also, less adorable.
  1314. ---
  1315. "Tell you what, you two," you say, smiling to yourself, "You've convinced me. We'll get this little filly-"
  1316. >You poke Scootaloo in her exposed soft underbelly, and she responds by squeaking and trying to bat your hand away.
  1317. "-to bed, and then the three of us can have a talk about tomorrow's plans over coffee."
  1318. >You find the flaw in your otherwise flawless plan immediately.
  1319. "...once I find Rainbow Dash, that is."
  1320. >Seriously, where did she go off to?
  1321. >It's been, like, over an hour since you all got back.
  1322. "Did you see her while we were looking for cardboard, Spitfire?"
  1323. >Spitfire, unfortunately, shakes her head in the negatory.
  1324. >>"No-ope," she response, popping the 'p' in 'nope', "I haven't heard her either."
  1325. >Hmmm.
  1326. "Well, we're all sitting on your bed for the night - this darling little number right here folds out into a bed."
  1327. >You get to your feet and straighten out your back, making all sorts of impressive old man noises as you work out the kinks in your spine.
  1328. >With an audible meaty pop, you shake your shoulders and finally get rid of that thing that was bothering you the enter evening.
  1329. "Why don't you put Scootaloo to bed, and then we can find Rainbow Dash. I've gotta go make sure she didn't pass out in the toilet bowl."
  1330. >Again.
  1331. >For the third time.
  1332. >You really have to stop letting her drink that much hard cider when she hangs out at your place.
  1333. >>>"B-But Nonny," whines Scootaloo, a big yawn stretching out 'Nonny', "I'm not tired..."
  1334. >You kneel down give Scootaloo a few pets.
  1335. >Bitches love pets.
  1336. "I know, sweetie," you say quietly, "but I know a silly little filly who gets grumpy if she's not in bed by ten at the latest."
  1337. >Scootaloo's eyes are already drooping, and she can't quite seem to keep her head up.
  1338. >>>"N-No, I'm not gonna be grumpy... I'm n-not even that.... that tire.... I'm not..."
  1339. >...and, she's out like a light.
  1340. >You smile up at Spitfire and make a shushing motion, with your index finger over your lips.
  1341. >It doesn't occur to you for a second that she wouldn't know what that means, and that she might just think you're a weirdo."
  1342. >Spitfire winks and carefully extracts herself from around the filly.
  1343. >You carefully pull a blanket from Scootaloo's little fort, and drape it over her body.
  1344. >You'll have to talk over coffee some other place, because your living-room is gonna be a bedroom tonight.
  1345. ---
  1346. "Oh, there you are."
  1347. >You are Anon, and you found Rainbow Dash.
  1348. >You had checked her usual haunts, first.
  1349. >Your bedroom - because apparently, your larger bed is a lot more comfortable than whatever cloud bullshit Rainbow Dash can sleep on.
  1350. >Goodness knows you've both fallen asleep together in that bed enough times, entangled in each other's arms and giving each other sleepy smiles when the morning comes.
  1351. >...
  1352. >L-Like FRIENDS do!
  1353. >Like how perfectly platonic friends sleep in the same bed together!
  1354. >A-Anyway, Rainbow wasn't there.
  1355. >Next was the linen closet, which you searched because the little door was wide open from when Scootaloo looted it for comfy blankets and pillows.
  1356. >You can't trust Rainbow not to sneak into dark places with soft fabrics, so you really thought you had a winner with this one.
  1357. >But Rainbow was mysteriously absent.
  1358. >...and then, feeling oddly worried, you actually went to your bathroom to make sure that Rainbow isn't passed out with her head in the toilet for real.
  1359. >Because being friends with a mare who loves cider that much makes that a very real possibility.
  1360. >To your relief, Rainbow hadn't drowned herself in the least dignified way possible.
  1361. >>"Do you have a broom or something, 'Non?" asked Spitfire after fifteen minutes of solid searching, "Because I get the feeling we're going to have to start banging on the ceiling to scare Rainbow out of your vents or out of the rafters."
  1362. >This gets a chuckle out of you.
  1363. "I think I know where to find her, now."
  1364. >And that led you straight to the basement.
  1365. >AKA your laundry room.
  1366. >It has the second most dense collection of clean (and often times, warm) sheets and pillows and blankets.
  1367. >Once more, Rainbow Dash has claimed a small wooden basket of freshly-dried sheets as her bed for that night.
  1368. >You're going to make her shove those into the wash once she's done, though.
  1369. >You've already encountered enough misunderstandings from the LAST time you were out in public, and you had a mare's fur and her scent all over your nice shirt.
  1370. >>"Why in the world did she nap down here?" asks Spitfire quietly, sounding bewildered, "Did she get bored while you and I were fixing your window or something?"
  1371. >You just shrug.
  1372. "Honestly?" you ask, just as quietly, "That's probably it."
  1373. >Rainbow Dash has a notoriously awful attention span, and she never turns down an opportunity for a cat nap.
  1374. >Spitfire glances up at you and grins widely.
  1375. >She's got a mischievous light in her eyes that you're not sure you like, but you can't help but get a little bit excited by it.
  1376. >>"You want to pick that basket up and dump her on the ground?"
  1377. >Hah!
  1378. >You nearly pop your ears trying to stifle that sudden bark of laughter, still hoping not to wake Rainbow Dash up.
  1379. >Okay, okay, this mare is growing on you.
  1380. "I knew I kept you around for a reason," you say, laughter making your voice quake and shiver, "but we probably shouldn't do that."
  1381. >You look up at the ceiling, which also doubles as the floor for your living-room.
  1382. "A certain tired little filly is getting her beauty sleep right now, and the last thing she needs is for a scared pony screaming bloody murder."
  1383. >Spitfire lets out a disappointed "oh", but looks like she's accepted the unfairness of the universe.
  1384. >In a perfect world, you wouldn't have passed this opportunity up.
  1385. "C'mon," you tell her, "Let's just wake her up-"
  1386. >You hold up a finger as Spitfire opens her mouth and looks hopeful.
  1387. "-Quietly."
  1388. >Spitfire grumbles, but follows you.
  1389. >>"Whatever, DAD..."
  1390. >As you get closer to Rainbow's impromptu bed, the sound of her trademark snoring gets louder.
  1391. >She's got her muzzle jammed into... what appears to be a pair of your underwear.
  1392. >Yeesh.
  1393. >Anyway, the point here is that the fabric is muffling her snoring.
  1394. "No wonder we couldn't find her."
  1395. >Spitfire doesn't say anything.
  1396. >You turn to look at her, and she looks a bit worried.
  1397. "You alright?"
  1398. >Spitfire looks at you, and then looks at Rainbow.
  1399. >Then, she looks back at you.
  1400. >>"You aren't mad?"
  1401. >Mad?
  1402. >Why would you be mad?
  1403. >Mad that Rainbow Dash fucked off and took a nap?
  1404. "Why do you think I should be angry, Spitfire?"
  1405. >Spitfire just points at your blue best friend.
  1406. >>"Well," she says uncertainly, "She's got her muzzle in your testicle-bra."
  1407. >...
  1408. >Your fucking what?
  1409. "My... my testicle-WHAT?"
  1410. >You look incredulously at Spitfire, and she looks just as incredulously back at you.
  1411. >>"What do you mean, 'your testicle-what'?" she blurts out, sounding a bit shocked, "Your testicle-bra!"
  1412. >Repeating it doesn't make it make any more sense.
  1413. "No, look - that's just my underwear. I guess it's..."
  1414. >You run your fingers through your hair.
  1415. "Look, let's just wake Sleeping Beauty here."
  1416. >You give Spitfire an aside glance.
  1417. "We've got a park-dinner to plan, right?"
  1418. ---
  1419. >Waking Rainbow Dash up was a lot easier and a lot less hectic than you expected it to be.
  1420. >You weren't lying about Rainbow acting like an angry guard dog when you wake her up unexpectedly.
  1421. >But there was a minimum of fuss involved, and you're now sitting in your basement with two mares.
  1422. >One of whom has found a workbench to perch on, and the other who is still sitting in your warm (and formally clean) laundry.
  1423. >>"So, you two..." says Spitfire with a drawn-out groan as she stretches the kinks out of her back, "I hope you two are ready for dinner tomorrow."
  1424. >Rainbow Dash jerks in surprise, and stares at Spitfire incredulously.
  1425. >"Excuse me?"
  1426. >You feel like teasing Spitfire a bit, and so you play innocent.
  1427. >...which is what you call "only pretending to be retarded".
  1428. "And here I thought we were going for a walk in the park."
  1429. >Spitfire, still stretching (and probably posing) opens one eye and peers at you.
  1430. >>"I'm the captain of the Wonderbolts, sweetheart; I can get into just about any restaurant I want. Ponyville's a pretty small town, but I think there's a nice place to eat out there."
  1431. >She puffs out her chest again, and you notice that a few of the buttons on her shirt are undone.
  1432. >Is it just you, or is Spitfire acting a hell of a lot more overtly flirty - and less adorably maternal - now that Rainbow Dash is in the room?
  1433. >>"Or, I could buy us some train tickets and I could take you two to a place I KNOW is good down in Canterlot. What do'ya sa-?"
  1434. >You interrupt her with a shake of your head and a wave of your hand.
  1435. >You know what?
  1436. >Dinner sounds dumb.
  1437. >It's dumb, and way too formal for your... tentative relationship?
  1438. >Or whatever you have right now?
  1439. "I'm down for coffee."
  1440. >Spitfire stares at you, mouth slightly open and eyes wide.
  1441. >There's a moment of shocked silence before Spitfire speaks up again.
  1442. >>"Wh-what do you mean, you're 'down for coffee'?" she blurts out, acting like you just told her that you think orange is a terrible colour, "We could be eating the most expensive salads in the capital city of Equestria, and you want to.... get coffee instead?"
  1443. >You just shrug at Spitfire's baffled tone.
  1444. "Dinner honestly sounds too formal right now. I really just want to chat in a casual setting."
  1445. >That's mostly true.
  1446. >But the big thing here is that you honestly don't trust Rainbow Dash to behave herself in a nice restaurant that you don't want to get kicked out and banned from.
  1447. >And now that you've noticed that Spitfire is behaving a LOT more flirty now that Rainbow's here, you aren't sure she won't provoke a reaction out of Rainbow while you're trying to enjoy dinner.
  1448. >Spitfire glances away, still looking confused and a little bit shocked.
  1449. >Like she can't quite process what you're saying.
  1450. >Kinda like how she behaved when you told her you didn't want any of her money.
  1451. >>"I mean..." she stammers, "I guess coffee is good, too."
  1452. >Rainbow looks up at you, just as shocked as Spitfire is.
  1453. >"You're going along with this?!" Rainbow blurts, voice cracking, "You're gonna pretend we're all apart of the same herd?!"
  1454. >Truth be told, you're not doing it for Spitfire.
  1455. >And really, you're not really doing this for Rainbow Dash either.
  1456. >You're doing this because, if you understand the contract, Rainbow Dash will have to find a stallion and horsemarry him, and then start a family with him.
  1457. >And if that 'stallion' isn't you, then it'll be some dumb horse from town.
  1458. >Some asshole who doesn't know Rainbow Dash like you do
  1459. >Someone who will probably treat her like shit, or will just be there to take her money.
  1460. >You don't know why, but that idea rubs you the wrong way.
  1461. >Like, a lot.
  1462. >Your stomach gets all queasy when you think about it, and you feel as though something's alive and wriggling away in your chest, trying to tear its way out of your ribcage.
  1463. >...
  1464. >You know what?
  1465. >You bet it's because you think so highly of Rainbow Dash, and you don't think anyone out there is actually good enough for her.
  1466. >That's probably why the idea of watching Rainbow Dash kiss some dumb stallion makes you feel so awful.
  1467. >Like, awful all the way down to your bones.
  1468. "Well," you drawl, trying not to think too deeply about why you don't like the idea of your friend kissing not-you, "You were too busy napping to hear this-"
  1469. >Rainbow Dash harumphs and throws a balled-up sock at you.
  1470. "-But Spitfire offered to take us out, tomorrow. And if we go to a coffee place, I get free coffee. I ran out of coffee this morning when the two of you dropped onto my lawn, and this entire adventure of ours got in the way of me doing some grocery shopping."
  1471. >You shrug gracelessly.
  1472. "I'm honestly out of coffee."
  1473. >There's a heavy silence as Spitfire and Rainbow Dash stare up at you.
  1474. >Feeling a little bit awkward, you feel the need to add a bit more detail.
  1475. "Also, Scootaloo asked me to."
  1476. >That's a lie, but they'll believe it.
  1477. >What are they gonna do, grill a tiny baby horse who's currently asleep on your couch?
  1478. >>"Well," says Spitfire after a moment of silence, "I think it's time I get to bed, then. It's getting late, and we have a coffee date tomorrow."
  1479. >Spitfire still sounds confused, like she can't quite wrap her head around the idea of getting coffee and chatting like a bunch of middle-aged stallion house-husbands.
  1480. >Instead of buying a train ticket and going out to an expensive restaurant halfway around the ass-end of Equestria, that is.
  1481. >Rainbow Dash gulps audibly.
  1482. >"A coffee d-date?"
  1483. >Spitfire nods absently.
  1484. >>"Yup, first thing in the morning."
  1485. >She trots over to to the laundry basket - where Rainbow Dash is still sitting - and grabs a blanket in her mouth.
  1486. >Once her fluffy prize is secure, she marches over to the stairs.
  1487. >>"Ah'll fsea yew in dah morn'ging."
  1488. >You give her a wave goodbye.
  1489. "Night."
  1490. >Rainbow mirrors the gesture after a brief moment of hesitation.
  1491. >"Y-Yeah, g'night."
  1492. ---
  1495. Edit: As of March 17, I'm redoing this section of the story. I didn't like the direction I took the story, so I pissed around for 8 months until I thought of something decent. I'll keep the old branch in at the bottom of the document (and make a note at the top), and I'll mark it. Search for "[OLD CONTENT]" if you want to see where it left off.
  1497. ----------------------
  1499. -------
  1500. >"RISE AND SHINE!"
  1501. >You are Anon, and you think you're having a heart attack.
  1502. >A big orange face fills your vision, and the only reason you didn't punch it is because you're still waking up and you aren't really sure where your limbs are.
  1504. "Oh, god."
  1505. >Please stop.
  1506. ---------
  1508. >"What are you doing in Anon's bedroom?!" screams a familiar, creaky voice, "Get OUT!"
  1509. >There's a thump, an 'oof!', and Spitfire's face sails out of view.
  1510. >Did... did Rainbow Dash just dive-tackle Spitfire away from you?
  1511. >Rainbow stands on top of you, straddling your chest and pointing an accusing hoof off to the side; presumably over to where she sent Spitfire flying.
  1512. >"You pervert, didn't your father teach you not to sneak into a colt's bedroom?!"
  1513. >Spitfire answers in the form of a return-tackle, and the two dart out of your sight.
  1514. >You scramble backwards and bash your shoulder into your headboard, making the entire bed jump.
  1515. "Fuck!"
  1516. >>"Get your hoof off of my-hey!"
  1517. >Left shoulder smarting, you shuffle up into a sitting position and observe the carnage around you.
  1518. >You watch Rainbow push Spitfire off of your bed, and you catch a glimpse of absolute shock on her face at the unexpected fall before she tumbles to the floor.
  1519. >Spitfire's forelegs pinwheel around as she falls, and she grabs a hold of Rainbow and pulls her down with her.
  1520. >There's a loud -THUMP- as they impact the floor, which makes you wince in sympathy.
  1521. >You aren't sure which one landed on the bottom, but you're sure it hurt either way.
  1522. >>"Rookie?!" screams Spitfire, "Just what the RUT do you think yo-GET OFF OF ME!"
  1523. >You watch as a rainbow mane and an orange mane flop up over the edge of your bed; the ponies are small enough and close enough to the ground that all you can see are the waving tails and manes of whichever pony is on top of the wrestling match at that moment.
  1524. >"I should tell THUNDERLANE that you like watching COLTS while they SLEEP!"
  1525. >The orange mane make an appearance.
  1526. >>"I outta write you up for this!"
  1527. >The orange mane disappears and your desk jumps as the pair bump into it.
  1528. >You have just enough time to catch a glimpse of Rainbow's tail before it flies back down out of sight and gets replaced by an orange tail.
  1529. >A single ink well spins around and dances in place, the black contents reaching precariously close to the open edge.
  1530. >"I had better not find any of Anon's - OW! - socks or testcile-bras in your pockets later on, Spitfire!"
  1531. >A little stool with a few borrowed books (thank you, Twilight) clatters to the floor as an orange tail whips by the foot of your bed.
  1532. >>"Anon doesn't even HAVE any testicle-bras!"
  1533. >The desk jumps again as the unseen pair (minus the tails and manes) roll around again.
  1534. >You watch, entranced by this action, as the ink well spins around in place again, its dancing and sloshing even more wild than before.
  1535. >"How DARE you?!" screeches Rainbow Dash as her little ears poke up from the edge of the bed.
  1536. >There's another BANG! - you guess Rainbow Dash just slammed Spitfire into your desk.
  1537. >"Anon's not some kind of sluuUUUOAAHH!!"
  1538. >That last impact was the straw that broke the camel's back.
  1539. >The ink well finally tips over and spills its contents over the edge of the desk.
  1540. >Conveniently, Spitfire and Rainbow Dash are directly underneath it.
  1541. >That'll learn'em.
  1542. >You slowly make your way out of bed, cringing at your stinging shoulder.
  1543. >Two ponies look up at you under a wet blanket of ink.
  1544. >Rainbow Dash has Spitfire in a headlock, and Spitfire has Rainbow's tail caught between her bared teeth.
  1545. "Are you done?"
  1546. >Both ponies look at each other, and then back at you; they nod.
  1547. "Good."
  1548. >You point out the door and down the hall to where your bathroom is.
  1549. "Wash up. And I had better not see any ink stains in my tub, or I swear to god."
  1551. ---------
  1553. >You are Anon, and you are waiting for Rainbow and Spitfire to make an appearance.
  1554. >You've already fed Scootaloo, and you're doing your best to entertain her until the dynamic duo decide to stop lounging in you bathtub.
  1555. >Frankly, keeping Scootaloo entertained is half for you as well; it's giving your brain something to do, other than worry.
  1556. "...and that's the story of the time Rainbow Dash got her head stuck in my underwear drawer."
  1557. >Scootaloo falls back onto her rear and giggles into her forehooves.
  1558. >You grin along with her, fondly remembering the excuses Rainbow made.
  1559. "You should have heard her, Scootaloo," you say, suppressed laughter making your voice tremble, " 'I thought I saw a Daring Doo book, Anon!' "
  1560. >You crow out your impression of Rainbow Dash's voice, but it's not very good.
  1561. >Still, it's different than your regular voice, and you figure that Scootaloo is smart enough to figure out it's supposed to be an impression of her idol.
  1562. "And she didn't even wait to see if I believed her. She went right on to the next lie."
  1563. >You clear your throat and tighten it to try and replicate Rainbow's scratchy voice again.
  1564. " 'I, uh... I-I-I heard a noise downstairs and it scared me!' "
  1565. >Scootaloo is now rolling on the floor, laughing.
  1566. >She nearly knocks over the half-eaten plate of peanut butter toast sitting on the ground next to her.
  1567. >Her heaving belly is exposed, and you're darn tempted to dive in for a belly-rub.
  1568. >Bitches LOVE belly-rubs.
  1569. >Scootaloo's giggles peter off and she shakily gets to her hooves.
  1570. >She still has a few after-shock giggles going through her, making her tiny frame shiver.
  1571. >"So," she asks, looking up at you with those big innocent eyes, "What was Rainbow Dash looking for in your underwear drawer?"
  1572. >...
  1573. "Uh..."
  1574. >You maybe should not have told this story.
  1575. >She's too young to know that mares literally want one thing and it's fucking disgusting.
  1576. >[spoiler]A place to nap that also smells like your junk.[/spoiler]
  1577. >At this point, it honestly shouldn't even be surprising that half of what Rainbow does is a means to the end of "napping".
  1578. "I had her..."
  1579. >Oh god, you are SO BAD at coming up with lies on the fly.
  1580. "...socks."
  1581. >You mean, sure; fuck it.
  1582. >You've seen ponies with socks before.
  1583. >Usually they had them tucked away in their saddlebags after they left Rarity's shop, shooting furtive looks left and right before galloping away as quickly as they could without attracting attention.
  1584. >You even saw one particularly embarrassed mare wearing a set when you answered the door and she thought you were the pizza delivery colt.
  1585. >Look, you don't know, alright?
  1586. >You were put on the spot!
  1587. >But luckily Scootaloo nods her head solemnly as though accepting an unshakable fact of the world.
  1588. >Spitfire comes trotting through the doorway to your living-room with her head held high.
  1589. >Rainbow Dash trots out at a more sedate pace, legs swinging sluggishly and eyes half-drooped.
  1590. >Her coat is still damp and her mane is only just beginning to separate into its usual layers.
  1591. >Spitfire waves at you.
  1592. >" 'Non? If you get a chance, tell the rookie that preening another mare's tuft is really gay."
  1593. >Rainbow Dash yawns and stumbles over in the direction of your couch.
  1594. >>"YOU'RE gay."
  1595. >Wow.
  1596. >Nailed it.
  1597. "You're really putting on your A-game this morning, Rainbow Dash."
  1598. >Rainbow makes sure to clip you with her wing as she passes by you.
  1599. >>"Whatever," she grumbles, words slightly slurred, "Just figure out what you want to do, alright? I'm gonna rest my eyes for a second."
  1600. >And with that, she deftly hops up onto your couch and lays herself out.
  1601. >Spitfire walks past you (barely avoiding planting a hoof onto Scootaloo's cold and forgotten breakfast) and unceremoniously plops herself down next to her niece.
  1602. >"Well, your bathroom is free now, 'Non," she says matter-of-factly, getting comfy behind Scootaloo, "Think you can be out and ready for us to leave in an hour?"
  1603. >An hour?
  1604. >Who does she think you are; your sister?
  1605. >[spoiler]God, you miss her. You miss all of them.[/spoiler]
  1606. >You're the top champ of the Russian show-wait, no, you should say that out loud.
  1607. >It'll be funnier that way.
  1608. "I'm the top champ of the Russian shower, Spitfire."
  1609. >You let an easy grin take over your face, which just makes Spitfire look confused.
  1610. >...Probably because there's no Russia in Equestria, and this joke relies entirely on word-play.
  1611. "You know; Rush in, rush out?"
  1612. >Spitfire's confusion deepens, and you start to feel less funny.
  1613. >Damn it, you should have just kept it in your he-
  1614. "I probably should have just kept that one in my head."
  1615. >Maybe saying it out loud again will save it.
  1616. >A bad idea can't be bad twice in a row, can it?
  1617. >It's like lightning strikes, or winning the lottery.
  1618. >Spitfire's confusion melts away, and she playfully rolls her eyes.
  1619. >"You're lucky you're cute, 'Non."
  1620. >You feel your cheeks tinge with warmth, and so you turn around and beat a hasty retreat.
  1621. "Yeah, whatever," you grumble, "Point is, I'll be out in ten minutes."
  1622. >Spitfire scoffs behind you.
  1623. >"That's exactly what my brother used to say."
  1624. "Yeah, well," you drawl, looking over your shoulder towards Spitfire, "I'm not your brother."
  1625. >You turn your head back in front of you (so that you don't walk into a wall) (again), and so you miss the sudden look of contemplation on Spitfire's face.
  1626. >It's gone as soon as it arrived, and you're already too far out of the room to hear Spitfire mutter her reply.
  1627. >"I guess..."
  1629. -------------
  1631. >You've migrated from the bathroom to your bedroom, since that's where your clothes are.
  1632. >You're shirtless, having just tugged up your pants when you hear a knock on your bedroom door.
  1633. >You recognize the pattern of knocks - it's that dumb 'friendship knock' you and Rainbow Dash came up with so that you'd know it was her.
  1634. >To be fair to her, it DID save you from having Twilight walk in on you masturbating back when you briefly lived with her, back when you first arrived here.
  1635. >Then again, that just meant that Rainbow walked in on you instead.
  1636. >The end result was that a pony got a good look-see of your ding-ding-dong regardless, but at least you knew who was going to take a gander at your wanger.
  1637. >...
  1638. >God, what a useless knock.
  1639. "Rainbow, you sleep over at least two or three days a week; You KNOW you don't need to knock."
  1640. >The door creaks open, and you enjoy the sight of Rainbow Dash wedging her head in between the door and the wall to shove it open, like your cat used to.
  1641. >Her eyes are mashed shut.
  1642. >"I might not be the biggest stallion's mare out there," she tells you, slowly trotting into your bedroom, "but even I know to knock before entering a stallion's bedroom."
  1643. >You just roll your eyes; you're already naked, so what's the point in averting her gaze?
  1644. "Whatever. What do you want?"
  1645. >Rainbow Dash stumbles forward and walks into your hamper, knocking it over and making Rainbow yelp in surprise.
  1646. >You openly grin at the silly display; this is just one of the little things about her that you love.
  1647. >Like.
  1648. >Things that you like.
  1649. >About her, you mean.
  1650. "Jesus, Rainbow," you say, chuckling, "Just open your eyes."
  1651. >Rainbow Dash opens one eye, and then the other.
  1652. >Satisfied she wasn't somehow peeking on you, she flaps her wings up and lands on the bed.
  1653. >"I just wanted to know what your plan was with Spitfire. Are you really gonna date her?"
  1654. "Well, I-"
  1655. >"I thought you didn't want to go through with this. You an' me aren't... y-y'know. We're cool."
  1656. "I'm not going to date her, Rainbow Dash."
  1657. >Rainbow falls back onto her rump, looking massively relieved.
  1658. >"Oh, thank Celestia!"
  1659. >Her shoulders slump in relief, but only for a moment.
  1660. >"I mean, uh..." she stammers, now looking tense, "B-Because... because, you... she, uh... isn't your type."
  1661. >Oh.
  1662. >Well...
  1663. > guess she knows Spitfire better than you do.
  1664. >So that's a totally normal thing for her to say.
  1665. >And for her to be worried about you dating her.
  1666. >No other reason.
  1667. >Rainbow coughs loudly into a hoof before you can say anything to her.
  1668. >"Why do you even want to go out with her today, anyway? I mean, Scootaloo I can understand."
  1669. >Can she?
  1670. >Rainbow Dash had better not be saying that she's sympathetic to your desire to romantically pursue a horse-child.
  1671. >Because you've already had this talk with her, and you are NOT drunk enough to want to have a repeat of it.
  1672. >"I like to spoil the little squirt too whenever we hang out, but it's weird that you're bringing her on a date."
  1673. >Oh.
  1674. >Oh, thank god.
  1675. >Okay, that makes more sense.
  1676. "Well, she's kinda my insurance. I don't think Spitfire will try and vault the table in an effort to mount me right in the middle of a coffee place if her niece is there to observe it."
  1677. >You mean, probably.
  1678. >You don't know Spitfire all that well, and you're banking on a looooot of assumptions working out in your favour.
  1679. >Assumption one: Spitfire is not in the habit of initiating impromptu sex-ed lessons for her niece in public places.
  1680. "Also: first of all," you say, striking a finger against your palm and counting up, "It's not a date. Second of all, she's Scootaloo's aunt. And third of all: she helped me patch up that window."
  1681. >You lean in and poke Rainbow Dash in her belly.
  1682. >Naturally, she tries to swat your hand away.
  1683. >Just like Scootaloo's reaction, actually.
  1684. >Must be a pegasus thing.
  1685. "Not to mention that she stayed over last night."
  1686. >You lean in and put on a faux-somber grimace on your face, as if what you're about to say isn't silly bullshit.
  1687. "I already have my scent on her, Rainbow. Now her parents will never take her back to her nest, and she'll starve to death."
  1688. >Rainbow Dash looks decidedly unimpressed.
  1689. >"Okay, two things," she states firmly, sounding offended, "First of all, racist. Second of all, pegasi haven't abandoned their foals once another creature gets their scent on them for CENTURIES."
  1690. >...what the actual fuck, Rainbow Dash?
  1691. "Did you guys actua-"
  1692. >"Seriously, did somepony tell you that pegasi abandon our young?"
  1693. >You stand in silence for a few moments, waiting for Rainbow to tell you the punchline.
  1694. >This is the sort of thing that people tell as a joke, but Rainbow has a completely straight face.
  1695. >How can you exist in a world where pegasi used to abandon their young, like a bunch of fucking BIRDS allegedly did back on Earth?
  1696. >Of all the quirks that pegasi have to have, it's this one.
  1697. "...Are you real?"
  1698. >Rainbow doesn't give you an answer.
  1699. >And honestly, you aren't sure what answer you expected, wanted, or would have found satisfying.
  1700. >But Rainbow's not done.
  1701. >"Because that's about as bad as calling unicorns 'boneheads', or earth ponies 'mud-farmers'."
  1702. "Nobody-"
  1703. >"Or hippogrifs 'dirty, filthy, sky-ziggers'."
  1704. >Oh, my god.
  1705. >Please stop.
  1706. >You cup your face with your hands, covering your eyes so that you can pretend this isn't happening.
  1707. "That was a JOKE, Rainbow, I made that u-"
  1708. >Wait, what was that last one?
  1709. >You peek through your fingers and peer at Rainbow Dash with one eye.
  1710. "The fuck's a hippogrif?"
  1711. >Rainbow Dash crosses her forelegs, looking away sourly.
  1712. >"They're a bunch of bit-grubbing rats with wings, is what they are."
  1713. >...gonna leave that one be for now.
  1714. >Holy shit, Rainbow.
  1715. "Look," you sigh, closing your eyes and pinching the bridge of your nose, "I Just feel obligated to at least let her down gently."
  1716. >Rainbow peeks at you from under a tuft of mane.
  1717. >"You sound like you don't like her all that much."
  1718. >Bitch, you've known her for barely 24 hours.
  1719. "I've known her for a single day, Rainbow. I don't know if I like her or dislike her yet. I'm just being polite."
  1720. >She's fun to talk to, for sure, but you could say that about most of your acquaintances.
  1721. >What opinions does she expect you to form over someone you've known for one single day?
  1722. >Like, what does she want from you?
  1723. >This is dumb.
  1724. >This whole thing is dumb.
  1725. >In fact, you sum up exactly how dumb it is in one question:
  1726. "Who walks up to a stranger and asks them to marry her and her friend? More importantly, who says 'yes'?"
  1727. >Alright, TWO questions.
  1728. >Math is hard.
  1729. "I don't even see the point of making a big deal out of this. There's no use debating or wondering if what I'm doing is right. We're giving this entire song-and-dance WAY more thought and deliberation than we need to, Rainbow Dash."
  1730. >You shrug and try to put your thoughts into words.
  1731. "Someone asked me to 'herd' with her, and I'm saying 'no'. She's the aunt of a filly I foal-sit; she helped patch up my window; and she spent the night at my house - I think we've reached the status of 'polite acquaintance', and that warrants a rejection just a hair more decent than 'fuck off, cunt'."
  1732. >GOD.
  1733. >You haven't seen Rainbow Dash get this frazzled since you told her that Applejack d-
  1734. >...yeah, not thinking about that moment.
  1735. >[spoiler]Related note to self: go to Sweet Apple Acres soon for another free bottle of hush-hush booze.[/spoiler]
  1736. >Anyway; Rainbow's all frazzled, and it's making YOU frazzled.
  1737. >Rainbow wordlessly trots closer to you, still on your bed.
  1738. >You can see her ears in the mirror over your shoulder, getting closer.
  1739. >The mirror's close enough to your bed that when she rears up, she's near enough to drape herself over your upper back.
  1740. >The sensation of soft fur and warm body against your bare skin makes you shiver.
  1741. >Once she's settled, Rainbow wraps her hooves around your shoulder and gives the back of your head a nuzzle.
  1742. >"I'll be keeping an eye out, okay?"
  1743. >You grab one of her hooves and give it a squeeze.
  1744. "Don't you trust your boss?"
  1745. >Rainbow snorts dismissively.
  1746. >"I trust her to be a good leader and an even better Wonderbolt, Anon."
  1747. >She leans in and gently nuzzles the side of your face.
  1748. >Her breath is hot and moist on your cheek, and the feeling is strangely intoxicating.
  1749. >There's a sense of profound rightness about this that you just can't shake, and it's something you'll want to think about later once you get home.
  1750. >"I just don't trust her with your heart."
  1751. >The heat you feel on your cheeks now has nothing to do with Rainbow's breath, and a goofy smile forms on your face before you can even think of stopping it.
  1752. >You squeeze her hoof again.
  1753. "That's really sweet."
  1754. >Rainbow Dash doesn't say anything; neither do you.
  1755. >You don't need to.
  1757. ---------
  1759. >You walk back into the living-room a few minutes later, just as you finish buttoning up your shirt.
  1760. >A gift from Rarity; one of her first creations, and probably the one you liked the most.
  1761. >You see, it was made before Rarity got it into her head that certain colour combinations didn't look good on you, and declared quite passionately that she would never craft such a quote-unquote "abomination against clothes-kind" ever again.
  1762. >Fainting was involved.
  1763. >'s plaid.
  1764. >It's a plaid button-up shirt that offends Rarity's senses so much that you can't resist wearing it whenever you go to see her.
  1765. >You love tweaking her nose so much.
  1766. >So with much gusto, you stride right into your living-room and are hit square in the face with some full-frontal cutity.
  1767. >Because brother?
  1768. >Spitfire is PREENING Scootaloo's little wings.
  1769. >It's like watching a cat groom another cat, only 100 times cuter because these are sapient creatures.
  1770. >Spitfire's laying on her side behind Scootaloo (who is also laying down), eyes closed peacefully and mouth latched onto one of Scootaloo's expended wings.
  1771. >You can see her jaw working up and down, and every couple of seconds, Spitfire gently tugs her head to the left or the right, presumably readjusting feathers.
  1772. >You can even hear her making gentle grunting noises, like a cat would.
  1773. "You two rea-Jesus, that's cute."
  1774. >Fuck.
  1775. >Scootaloo peers up at you with those big innocent eyes, looking confused; wing still extended, feathers still getting preened.
  1776. >Spitfire stops preening for a moment and glances up at you with her eyes, head steady and mouth still latched onto her niece's left wing.
  1777. >FUCK.
  1778. >God, why are these ponies so CUTE?
  1779. >You wanna cuddle these sons of bitches so badly.
  1780. >In fact, you make a mental note to self to go out to a restaurant the next time you're sitting Scootaloo that has low seats, just so that she has to hop up on your lap to reach the table and eat.
  1781. >In fact, fuck it; you'll pet at least one of them right now.
  1782. >Wasting no more time, you take a few steps over to the pair and sit down next to them, running your fingers through Scootaloo's messy mane.
  1783. >You've tried brushing it in the past after you've given her a bath, but it always goes back to it's messy form as soon as it dries.
  1784. >Maybe it's pony magic.
  1785. >Maybe you're just bad at this.
  1786. >[spoiler]Maybe it's Maybelline.[/spoiler]
  1787. >Scootaloo predictably leans up into your hand, nearly tugging her wing out of Spitfire's mouth.
  1788. >The older pegasus makes a displeased noise deep in her throat; again, much like a displeased cat.
  1789. >But after a moment, Spitfire rolls her eyes and extends her neck out a bit so that she can continue to fiddle with Scootaloo's feathers.
  1790. "Hey, you two.
  1791. >Scootaloo abandons her perch and crawls into your lap for a second and braces herself on your chest.
  1792. >>"Nonny?"
  1793. >She presses a forehoof against your forehead.
  1794. >>"Auntie Spits finished with my wings. Can we go now?"
  1795. >You grin and scratch behind Scootaloo's ears, earning a content purr from the little filly.
  1796. "You bet, Scootaloo."
  1797. >Scootaloo leans in and nuzzles your cheek before hopping off and bounding away towards the front door.
  1798. >She's got that slightly awkward gait that every developing foal has; where either their legs are too short for their bodies, or their bodies aren't long enough for their legs.
  1799. >Thank god you live in a world where it's not weird when you hug other people's children.
  1800. >Things are goofy and backwards here in Equestria, but it works out in your favour sometimes.
  1801. >Rainbow Dash, meanwhile, decides to make an appearance and trots into the room, looking proud as she ever was.
  1802. >Rainbow trudges over and hops up onto the couch, eyeing the three of you up.
  1803. >"Hey, Cap'n?"
  1804. >Spitfire glances up at Rainbow and grunts questioningly.
  1805. >"I'm gonna take a rain-check on this 'date'-"
  1806. >She spits the word out like it were a curse.
  1807. >"-thing of ours."
  1808. >Rainbow sniffs dismissively.
  1809. >"You three go along without me."
  1810. >Spitfire stares at Rainbow Dash with an expression that suggested the orange pony has been dealing with shit like this for a long time.
  1811. >Sort of reminds you of your coworker back when you worked retail whenever a customer was yelling at him.
  1812. >>"Rookie," Spitfire groans, "I thought we talked about this."
  1813. "You really didn't, though," you point out, "All you did was go all Full Metal Jacket on her, and then she broke my window."
  1814. >Rainbow has the decency to grin sheepishly at you.
  1815. >"Heh, yeah... I sorta did, didn't I? Uh... next few rounds of cider are on me?"
  1816. >You grin and swat the air in her direction since you're too far away from her to actually poke her belly.
  1817. "You're just saying that because you're the only one of use who likes cider."
  1818. >Rainbow Dash gets a faux-haughty expression on her face.
  1819. >"You mean, I'm the only one of us who has good taste."
  1820. "YOU'RE good taste."
  1821. >...
  1822. >Dammit, that doesn't make sense.
  1823. >Rainbow blinks confusedly, opening and closing her mouth silently a couple of times.
  1824. >"...thank you?"
  1825. "You're... welcome?"
  1826. >Maybe?
  1827. >You think.
  1828. >Spitfire walks over to the couch where Rainbow Dash is sitting and pokes her in the snoot.
  1829. >>"Rainbow Dash, the only thing that's going to taste good is the gourmet coffee I'm going to buy all of us."
  1830. >Rainbow Dash casually swats Spitfire's hoof away, looking disinterested.
  1831. >"Nope; I'm just gonna sit here on this couch."
  1832. >Rainbow polishes a hoof against her tuft and then examines it distractedly.
  1833. >"Maybe I'll take a nap. Maybe I'll eat those hay-chips Anon bought."
  1834. "Those are for movie-cuddle night!" you snap reflexively, having long since gotten used to Rainbow trying to gank your gross, disgusting horse-chips.
  1835. >This just gets an amused, mischievous grin out of Rainbow, but she doesn't look your way.
  1836. >"Maybe I'll take a nap in Anon's clothes drawers."
  1837. >Scootaloo bursts out into sudden laughter, which she tries to stifle with her hooves; the older blue mares shoots a confused look at Scootaloo.
  1838. >Rainbow Dash hops to her hooves and spins around on the couch cushion three times, padding the soft fabric down with her hooves like a cat.
  1839. >Finally, she unceremoniously plops herself down and tucks her forehooves under her chest, and then wraps her tail around the side of her body.
  1840. >"Yeahhhh," she drawls, voice cracking, "I think I'll just take a nap for a few hours."
  1841. >Welp.
  1842. >Looking back, she never actually said she'd go along with you.
  1843. "Want me to bring you back a doughnut?"
  1844. >"Only always."
  1845. >You don't even need to ask, because you know exactly what she wants.
  1846. >A Boston Cream.
  1847. >Spitfire checks the clock on your wall and sighs.
  1848. >>"Darn it, I don't have time to argue with you."
  1849. >She waves at you and Scootaloo.
  1850. >>"The place I had in mind is pretty popular in the mornings, so we'll have to rush if we want to get a table all to ourselves. Coming, Scootaloo?"
  1851. >>>"Well..."
  1852. >All three of you glance over to Scootaloo, who is standing in the middle of the room, looking very conflicted.
  1853. >She's whipping her head around, looking between Rainbow Dash on the couch, and you and Spitfire by the door.
  1854. >>>"I... I kinda..."
  1855. >You all watch her for a moment as she clearly struggles with her internal demons.
  1856. >>>"I kinda really wanna hear Rainbow Dash tell more stories-"
  1857. >Or, she struggles with her desire to hang out with her idol.
  1858. >Meanwhile, Rainbow Dash smirks victoriously at Spitfire.
  1859. >>>"-but she's not gonna go out with you, so..."
  1860. >A look of comprehension dawns on Spitfire's face, and she nods slowly at her niece.
  1861. >>"I see."
  1862. >Spitfire walks over and nuzzles the top of Scootaloo's head.
  1863. >>"Don't worry about it, Scoots," she tells her niece gently, "If you want to spend some time with your friend, you don't have to come along with us."
  1864. >Scootaloo nuzzles her aunt right back.
  1865. >>"You want me to grab a doughnut for you on the way back?"
  1866. >Scootaloo nods excitedly.
  1867. >>>"Yes, please!"
  1868. >Well, there goes your dick-insurance.
  1869. >Now there's NOTHING stopping Spitfire from mounting you in public.
  1870. >NOTHING.
  1871. >Rainbow Dash grins at the two of you from her position on the couch.
  1872. >Scootaloo is nestled under one of her forelegs, which is wrapped around her protectively.
  1873. >"You two go have fun," shouts Rainbow Dash faux-sweetly, "I'm just gonna tell Scootaloo here about the time a certain Wonderbolt Captain decided to impress a colt by putting on a blindfold and flying a complete loop arou-"
  1874. >Spitfire's hackles rise up and the fur on her back stands up straight, just like an alarmed cat.
  1875. >>"Don't you dare!"
  1876. ---
  1877. >After you leave the house, you don't notice Rainbow Dash staring at the front door in complete silence.
  1878. >After a whole minute, she grins down at Scootaloo.
  1879. >>"So, squirt. Feel like going for a fly?"
  1880. >>>"Only always."
  1882. -------------------
  1884. >>"Anonymous?"
  1885. >Hmm?
  1886. >A light-green stallions stands in the doorway of one of the houses you're passing by.
  1887. >He's got a housecoat wrapped around his barrel, slippers on all four of his hooves, and a mug of coffee floating along in his magic.
  1888. >As soon as you make eye-contact with him, his whole face lights up.
  1889. >>"Anonymous! Hi!"
  1890. >The stallion bounds over to you with all the grace of a four-legged creature wearing fluffy bunny slippers.
  1891. >Which is to say, he runs like a dog whose owner just put little booties on it before going for a walk in the middle of winter.
  1892. >>"Oh my goodness, Anon, it's been FOREVER since I last saw you!"
  1893. >You crouch down and give the energetic stallion a scratch behind the ears, ignoring the quiet "l-lewd" coming from behind you.
  1894. "Hey there, Birch Bucket. And I'll have you know, it's been barely a week since you convinced me to give Karaoke Night another try."
  1895. >The stallion - your only male friend, Birch Bucket - giggles into a slipper-clad hoof.
  1896. >>"It's not my fault you can't hold your liquor, Anon. You're lucky some mare didn't try and drag you off while you couldn't do anything."
  1897. >He puffs himself out, broad chest straining against his thick, poofy, pink housecoat.
  1898. >>"Luckily, I was there to look after you!"
  1899. >You tousle his green mane fondly, earning the expected "not the mane!" from him.
  1900. "Yeah, you really scared the mares off by bravely throwing up for half-an-hour in the bar's bathroom."
  1901. >Birch huffs and pushes your hand away.
  1902. >>"Clearly you weren't the one throwing up, Anon. If you were, you'd realize that NOPONY would be going near me at that moment. That's my trap."
  1903. "Speaking of traps..."
  1904. >You jab a thumb behind you.
  1905. "Birch Bucket, meet my friend."
  1906. >You glance at Spitfire, who now looks confused.
  1907. >"...what does 'traps' mean?"
  1908. >What indeed, Spitfire?
  1909. >What indeed.
  1910. >Your favourite is the Parent variety, starring Lindsay Lohan as both twins.
  1911. >You're brought out of your deep thoughts by Birch Bucket nudging you.
  1912. >He very unsubtly glances at you, and then Spitfire.
  1913. >>"Eh?"
  1914. >When you don't react, he repeats the gesture, adding exaggerated eyebrow movements for style and shazam.
  1915. >>"Ehhh?" he says again, dragging the noise out a little while longer.
  1916. >You know what he's doing.
  1917. >This is 'colt-talk' for "I can't help but notice that you appear to be accompanied by a pony of the female persuasion. Now tell me about it so that I don't have to ask, because that goes against an unwritten rule that I and every other colt in town apparently operate by."
  1918. >God, it's so confusing dealing with stallions.
  1919. >It's like you're in high school going through puberty all over again, and you can't figure out why the girls keep glancing at you and then begin begin to giggle.
  1921. >Anyway, knowing him, he wants to know what a pretty little thing like you is doing out this early with a big, strong mare like Spitfire.
  1922. >Because this - "this" meaning "an apparent date with a mare" - is exactly the end result he's been working towards since he decided that you should settle down with a mare, and he WANTS YOU TO SAY IT.
  1923. >Because that means HE WINS.
  1924. >But you aren't playing his games.
  1925. >Mostly because you know it irks him when you don't play along, and you feel like tweaking his nose this morning.
  1926. >Bitch Bucket violently jerks his head towards Spitfire, and the resulting -CRICK- makes you wince.
  1927. >God, your own neck is getting sympathy pains.
  1928. >>"Ehhhhh-OW!"
  1929. >Oh, christ.
  1930. "Yeesh, Buckets," you say, reaching out to rub the back of his neck, "Use your big-boy words."
  1931. >Birch Bucket just sighs with disappointment and then turns to face Spitfire.
  1932. >>"Hello, dear. I see Anonymous has finally taken my advice and found a nice mare?"
  1933. >That's not entirely true.
  1934. >In fact, it's not true at all.
  1935. >Though, you wonder if "false" contradicts "not entirely true", since a falsehood is - in its entirety - not true.
  1936. >You-
  1937. >"That's right, sir," chirps Spitfire, drawing you out of your thoughts, "Our third is MIA right now, but we're putting it together."
  1938. >Birch Bucket sits back on his haunches and happily clops his hooves together.
  1939. >>"Oh, that's just wonderful!"
  1940. >He leans in and cups his muzzle with the back of his slipper-covered hoof, as though he were whispering a secret to Spitfire.
  1941. >This is proven a useless gesture when he begins to speak and uses conversational volume.
  1942. >>"I kept telling Anonymous that he would just be SO much happier if he had a few mares waiting for him at home."
  1943. >He titters happily, leaning away from Spitfire.
  1944. >>"Taking care of a few foals by day, and-"
  1945. >He suddenly gasps and covers his mouth with a hoof in embarrassment.
  1946. >>"Goodness me! I must have woken up and forgot to put on my manners, dear. As Anonymous said, my name is Birch Bucket. I work at the local spa, and I don't think I've ever come across you before."
  1947. >Spitfire grins and shakes her head.
  1948. >"No, you wouldn't. Mostly because only dykes go to the spa."
  1949. >This gets an annoyed huff out of Birch Buckets.
  1950. >"And also, I don't actually live here in Ponyville."
  1951. >Birch Bucket, true to his nature as a colt, has done a complete emotional 180 and looks delighted once more.
  1952. >>"An out-of-towner, eh? Gosh, we don't get a lot of those! Tell me, what brings you to our sleepy little farming town?"
  1953. >Spitfire takes to the air and flaps over to you so that she can wrap a foreleg around your shoulders.
  1954. >...well, she TRIES to.
  1955. >Unfortunately, you're noticeably larger than ponies are, so the best she can manage is an awkward headlock.
  1956. >You're distantly reminded of old 80s wrestling on TV, and for just a split-second you half-expect Spitfire to growl out some sort of catchphrase and call herself "The Macho Mare".
  1957. >"I heard from Rainbow Dash that 'Non here-"
  1958. >She pats you on the shoulder with her other free hoof.
  1959. >"-was a real swell colt. One broken window later, and the three of us are dating."
  1960. >If Birch Bucket is confused by that train of events, he doesn't show it.
  1961. >>"Well, I'm happy for both of you."
  1962. >He waves a hoof at you, eyes closed.
  1963. >>"I'd heard the rumours about him and Rainbow Dash, of course."
  1964. >...wait, what?
  1965. >>"Everypony has."
  1966. >WHAT.
  1967. >What rum-
  1968. "What rumours, Buckets?"
  1969. >Was it that you're fucking?
  1970. >Was it that you're NOT fucking, which for some reason feels slightly more insulting than the former?
  1971. >Do these people think you're not capable of fucking a horse?
  1972. >[spoiler]How dare they.[/spoiler]
  1973. >Birch Buckets gives you a pitying look.
  1974. >>"Oh, don't tell me you don't know."
  1975. "Okay, I won't tell you."
  1976. >Birch Bucket groans at your old, tired joke.
  1977. >>"Maybe your material is why you've been single up until now, Anon."
  1978. "Yeah, well," you stammer back, "Maybe the reason YOU'RE single is... is because..."
  1979. >...shit, Birch Bucket has a herd.
  1980. >You KNOW this.
  1981. "...fuck you."
  1982. >Birch Bucket just lets out a long-suffering sigh.
  1983. >>"You're lucky you're cute, Anon."
  1984. >...
  1985. "...I'm cute?"
  1986. >>"Anyway," says Birch Bucket to Spitfire, more loudly than was strictly necessary, "Enough gossip. I'm glad you found Anon, Spitfire. It seems you've succeeded where the colts and I have failed."
  1987. >Oh, god.
  1988. >The 'colts'.
  1989. "I'm surprised Caramel hasn't gotten you kicked out of more bars."
  1990. >Birch Bucket ignores you.
  1991. >>"We do our best for the poor thing, but Anon does tend to... make a few ponies a little bit uncomfortable."
  1992. >He unexpectedly rears up and wraps a leg around your shoulder; Spitfire jerks away with a surprised (and very bird-like) squawk.
  1993. >Stallions are larger than mares, so he has no trouble reaching around to to latch onto your opposite shoulder.
  1994. >>"Oh, but he tries so hard! He can't help being wrong.'
  1995. >You chuckle and shove Birch Bucket off of you.
  1996. "Fuck right off, Buckets."
  1997. >Birch Bucket dusts off his housecoat with a disdainful sniff; but the smile on his face shows that he finds this as amusing as you do.
  1998. >>"And your language certainly isn't encouraging the desired image of an innocent, wholesome wallflower. How will a mare take pity on you and scoop you up if you don't watch your ton-"
  1999. >Birch Bucket chokes on his words as his eyes snap over to Spitfire; AKA the mare who took pity on you and scooped you up.
  2000. >Possibly because she's never actually heard you swear very much because you try to watch your mouth around Scootaloo, and Scootaloo has been present 100% of the time Spitfire's been around.
  2001. >...
  2002. "That WORKS?!"
  2003. >Spitfire looks as bewildered as you feel, glancing between you and Birch Bucket with a lost expression on her face.
  2004. >"I... m-maybe?" she says uncertainly.
  2005. >Birch Bucket just laughs.
  2006. >>"Oh, you are so cute together! Anonymous, Spitfire, would you like to join the mares and I for breakfast? We have coffee, overcooked eggs, burnt toast..."
  2007. >Birch Bucket sniffs the air, a look of dawning horror on his face.
  2008. >>"...I think I left the stove on," he whimpers.
  2009. >Without another word, your friend spins on his heels and sprints into his house.
  2010. >The doorknob glows with magic, and the door slams behind him.
  2011. >You and Spitfire stand there for a moment, listening to the distant sound of clattering and shouting.
  2012. >>"Sandy Britches, what did I tell you about trying to cook! Out of my kitchen!"
  2013. >Oh, ouch.
  2014. >You wince in sympathy; you've tastes that mare's cooking.
  2015. >It was like trying to eat roof shingles topped with enough butter to give a cow a heart attack.
  2016. >You and Spitfire glance at each other at the same time.
  2017. " wanna get going?"
  2018. >"Yeah, sure."
  2019. >The two of you resume your walk in silence.
  2020. "Good on you for not bragging about being a Wonderbolt back there."
  2021. >"I'm not in the business of breaking hearts, 'Non."
  2022. >Well, then.
  2023. >You guess that makes one of you.
  2025. ---------
  2027. >You're Rainbow Dash, and you're being REAL sneaky.
  2028. >You don't exactly trust ol' Spitfire to be all alone with Anon.
  2029. >You wanna make sure Anon's gonna be okay, alright?
  2030. >You're not being weird.
  2031. >You're being an AWESOME friend.
  2032. >Cuz Anon's a real special friend for you.
  2033. >You don't have to worry about what he might think about you when you chill together.
  2034. >Like, you can make all sorts of dirty jokes, and he just laughs!
  2035. >How cool is that?!
  2036. >Stallions HATE vag jokes!
  2037. >Sometimes you even slip up and forget your sis is a... a bro, you guess?
  2038. >You furrow your brow in contemplation.
  2039. >That doesn't even sound like a word like 'sis' is.
  2040. >Yeah. Sometimes you slip up and forget your sis is actually your bro, and you make a few... old-fashioned jokes.
  2041. >Like, 'make me a sandwich' jokes.
  2042. >But Anon's cool about that sorta thing, and he thinks you're funny.
  2043. >Also, he's a TOTAL cuddlebug.
  2044. >So, you just don't want him to get taken advantage of.
  2045. >That's all.
  2046. >Anon's special, and you don't want to see him get hurt.
  2047. >Just thinking about him crying 'cuz some cunt broke his heart makes you feel angry.
  2048. >Angry, and also weirdly tingly and fluttery in your tummy-tum-tums.
  2049. >You get this urge to hold him as though you could shield him from all the bad in the world.
  2050. >Buuuuut, you're pretty sure that's just how your body feels when you're angry that a friend got hurt.
  2051. >Nope, nothing deeper than that.
  2052. >It's cool.
  2053. >YOU'RE cool.
  2054. >Everypony's cool.
  2055. >Here you are: floating in a cloud high in the sky, looking for Anon and Spitfire.
  2056. >You took a fifteen minute nap (just to give them a head start, so that nopony would suspect your of nuthin'), and then you took off.
  2057. >Anon said he was gonna go out for coffee, and you an' him really only like this one coffee place: the Rise and Grind.
  2058. >So, you went to check that place out.
  2059. >You weren't really all that into coffee before he convinced you to try this place out.
  2060. >They say colts have a way of talking you into things, and filly; were they right.
  2061. >The two of you come here pretty often.
  2062. >If you're up in time, you fly down to Anon's place and knock on his window until he lets you in.
  2063. >You usually drag him out the door before he gets a chance to wake up, 'cuz then it's easy to be sneaky and buy him his coffee before he notices.
  2064. >You don't really get why he doesn't like it when you buy both of your coffee instead of letting him split the bill
  2065. >Like, coffee (and maybe a muffin if you yank him out the door before he can make breakfast) is just a few bits.
  2066. >And you're on two payrolls: the Wonderbolts, and the weather team.
  2067. >This ain't even the sorta money you'd notice if it went missing.
  2068. >But you like seeing if you can pull a fast one on him and paying the bill before he can stop you.
  2069. >It's sorta like a game the two of you play, y'know?
  2070. >Anon even manages to win sometimes!
  2071. >One morning you were extra-sleepy, and Anon somehow paid the bill before you even realized your coffee was being served.
  2072. >You still think he cheated.
  2073. >NOPONY is faster than The Dash; not even not-ponies like Anon.
  2074. >But you got him back for that.
  2075. >That night was movie-cuddle night, and you rented the movie AND bought the snacks.
  2076. >Take THAT, Anon!
  2077. >A grin forces its way onto your face at the memory.
  2078. >He grumbled a bunch when you flew in with a bundle of goodie-goods, but you saw that little smile.
  2079. >It's that secret little smile that he saves just for you.
  2080. >It's how you know that your friendship with him is special.
  2081. >It's how you know that HE'S special.
  2082. >So, that's why you're here right now.
  2083. >Floating high in the sky with your littlest sister-from-another-mister.
  2084. >AKA Scoots.
  2085. >The two of you are hovering right above the Rise and Grind, waiting for Anon to show up.
  2086. > don't see him, though.
  2087. >You know you're fast and all, but you're pretty sure you didn't make it here before they did, even WITH that 15 minute headstart they got.
  2088. >You're sure you'll catch sight of them any second now.
  2089. >...
  2090. >Aaaaaaany second now.
  2091. >...
  2092. "Where the rut are they?"
  2093. >Scootaloo peers up at you from her hiding place on the cloud.
  2094. >"Didn't you say that they'd be here, Rainbow Dash?"
  2095. >You sure did.
  2096. >Then again, you say a lot of things.
  2097. "Yeah, we go here all the time. It's his favourite coffee place."
  2098. >This is literally the only place he goes when he takes you out.
  2099. >You guess that technically makes this his least favourite coffee place too.
  2100. >Scootaloo screws her face up in confusiong and looks back down at the coffee house.
  2101. >"This isn't where Auntie Spits goes when she wants to get coffee."
  2102. >Pfft.
  2103. "Yeah, but we're looking for An-"
  2104. >...oh.
  2105. >Oh, no.
  2106. >He's not taking Spitfire out.
  2107. "Spitfire's taking HIM out."
  2108. >Oh, geez, you know exactly where she's gone.
  2109. >It's that crumby fake Prench coffee joint, where everything is three times as expensive as it should be, and where the decor is so fancy you feel judged for not going in wearing a dress.
  2110. >She ALWAYS goes here when she wants to impress somepony!
  2111. >Sometimes it's a big-wig, and sometimes it's something about obtaining a sponsor.
  2112. >One time, it was because she got drunk and accidentally threw up on somepony's couch, and now she wants to make it up to him.
  2113. >You wonder if Spitfire ever bothered learning Prench since the last time she brought you to that coffee place last year.
  2114. >All she did was describe her order to the waiter and hope you didn't catch on that she couldn't pronounce the names of the coffees.
  2115. >But you notice.
  2116. >A mare who flies as fast as you do has to be observant of everything around you.
  2117. >Wasting no more time, you snatch Scootaloo up in your forelegs.
  2118. >"Are we going down to the Rise and Grind to get a doughnut, Rainbow?"
  2119. >Scootaloo wriggles excitedly in your grasp.
  2120. >"Sweetie Belle says that she heard from Twist that they're getting doughnuts that are shaped like the heads of the Bearers of Harmony!"
  2121. "That's redicu-"
  2122. >Wait, really?
  2123. >Hot dang, you want to eat your own head!
  2124. >Okay, slight change of plans.
  2125. >First, get a you-doughnut from the Rise and Grind.
  2126. >Next, go to that stupid faux-Prench place and make sure that Spitfire hasn't mounted Anon in the middle of the cafe.
  2127. >With a flap of your wings, you're gone.
  2128. ---
  2129. >You are Rainbow Dash, and you got the right coffee place this time.
  2130. >You've got a doughnut in the shape of your own head - complete with blue icing for your fur and rainbow icing for your mane - in your hooves that you're munching on.
  2131. >Scootaloo noms on her own, looking a little too pleased to be eating something constructed in your image.
  2132. >You watch in silence as Anon and Spitfire enjoy their drinks.
  2133. >He's playing with the buttons on his shirt, and for some reason that makes you smile.
  2134. "Celestia, that's cute."
  2135. >That brings a grin to your face.
  2136. >Anon's pretty much the biggest janefilly you know, but it turns out he turns into a such a shy wallflower when he goes on a date.
  2137. >You don't know why Anon was so shocked when Spitfire brought this dumb herding thing up with him yesterday.
  2138. >You mean, was he really so surprised that somepony might find him attractive?
  2139. >He's got such cute little foal-likes eyes!
  2140. >And the patch of fur on top of his head's so soft when you nuzzle it.
  2141. >And he has the cutest little dimples when he smiles nice and wide, and you make sure to try and make him smile as often as you can just so that you can see them.
  2142. >...
  2143. >Uh...
  2144. >And he's got nips, and that's weird.
  2145. >So maybe he just needs to find a mare who likes nips.
  2146. >Not you.
  2147. >Because you're not a dyke.
  2148. >You angrily shove the rest of your doughnut into your mouth and focus on chewing it.
  2149. >You bet your tummy feels so fluttery because you forgot to eat this morning.
  2151. ---
  2153. >"...and then I said to the bartender, 'could you push in my stool?' "
  2154. >You lean back in your chair and laugh along with Spitfire.
  2155. >"You know, 'Non," she sighs, sounding content, "You're a real breath of fresh air. I grew up with my brother, and he was a real piece of work. I kinda went into this thinking you would be like him, but I'm glad to see that you're not."
  2156. >She leans forward onto her horse-elbows, resting her chin on her hooves.
  2157. >She has a content little smile and her eyes are half-lidded.
  2158. >"I can see why the Rookie says she forgets you're a colt sometimes."
  2159. "Not surprising, considering I dig around in the dirt all day."
  2160. >Spitfire waves you off with a lazy hoof.
  2161. >"Colts love gardening."
  2162. "YOU love gardening."
  2163. >Without missing a beat, Spitfire wriggles her eyebrows at you.
  2164. >"I can't say I don't enjoy getting... DIRTY with a colt."
  2165. >God fucking dammit, Anon.
  2166. >You NEED to stop using that knee-jerk 'no u' comeback.
  2167. >It never works.
  2168. >It just NEVER works.
  2169. "You mentioned your brother. Who's that; Scootaloo's dad?"
  2170. >Spitfire nods, expression slowly souring into a frown.
  2171. >"Mm-hmm. Mommy's little prince," she says in a mocking tone, "Anything he wanted, he got. Mother would never believe a bad word against him, so he never got into trouble for anything he did."
  2172. >A proud smile sneaks up onto her face.
  2173. >"I'm just glad my other moms were there to teach me right from wrong."
  2174. >Her other moms?
  2175. >How does that wo-oh, right.
  2176. >Herding.
  2177. "Your family was a... a herd, then?"
  2178. >Spitfire nods.
  2179. >"Mm-hmm. My dad managed to find himself quite the impressive herd."
  2180. >She leans back in her seat again with a proud, fond smile on her face.
  2181. >"My herd-mothers were Sky Swirl, Stormy Flare, Cuddle Wings, and Snowfall. Bio-mom is Snowfall, but my other moms did a better job at raising me than she did."
  2182. >She grins, staring into space and reliving some pleasant memory.
  2183. >"I remember the time Mama Flare caught me sneaking out of my bedroom window so that I could go see that movie with the cute colt from flying school."
  2184. "Oh yeah? What'd she do, yell at you for breaking curfew?"
  2185. >Spitfire shakes her head.
  2186. >"Nah. She told me she was proud of me, and said that I could have one of her ciders when I got home."
  2187. >Spitfire eyes you up, a look of contemplation on her face.
  2188. >"You know, Rainbow Dash told me that hoo-mans don't have herds. Is this true?"
  2189. "Yeah. Just about every culture back on Earth had monogamous coupling as the standard for relationships. Twilight told me that mares outnumber stallions at about 1:4, but it's a pretty even split back on Earth."
  2190. >Spitfire immediately throws her head back and laughs.
  2191. >"How would that even work?!" she gasps out between guffaws, "Hell's Bells, Anon, does your government have a budget specifically for mane-care products?"
  2192. >Spitfire tries to take a calming sip of her expensive coffee, but her giggling makes it so that it just slops down her chin and onto her chest tuft.
  2193. >She giggles to herself, gasping and clearly trying to compose herself.
  2194. "You alright?"
  2195. >She waves a hoof at you, wheezing out what you THINK was "I'm fine".
  2196. >A minute later, you have a red-faced (but no longer laughing) Spitfire sitting across from you.
  2197. >She's leaning heavily on the table and, judging by the way she's clutching her left side, seems to have gotten a laughter-induced stitch in her side.
  2198. >"Instead of a national defense, do you flood the market with make-up and testicle-bras?"
  2199. >This nearly gets her going again, and she barely holds on by biting her hoof.
  2200. "Funny," you deadpan, "But it's the other way 'round where I come from."
  2201. >You spin a circle in the air with an index finger.
  2202. "The big, tough human mares are the ones who cake on the clown paint and strap bras to their testicles."
  2203. >...wait, shit.
  2204. "To their breasts."
  2205. >Spitfire gives you a confused look.
  2206. >Fucking...
  2207. "Teats. That means teats."
  2208. >Spitfire leans back in her chair with a look of dawning comprehension on her face.
  2209. >"Ohhhh."
  2210. >Spitfire glances down below the table (presumably between her legs) contemplatively.
  2211. >"That WOULD offer some support while I fly..."
  2212. >The look of deep thought turns into an increasingly-familiar smirk that you know precedes some flirting.
  2213. >"Because these teats are so big, they throw off my center or balance when I fly."
  2214. >Christ.
  2215. "And here I thought mares had no subtlety."
  2216. >Spitfire leans back again, cocky grin firmly back in place.
  2217. >"I'll have you know that I have PLENTY of subtlety."
  2218. "You came up to me just yesterday and said, "I'm on a mission from God, let's get married". That seems pretty straight-forward to me."
  2219. >She just shrugs.
  2220. >"What can I say? I'm a complicated mare."
  2221. >Another hour or two passes, and you chat pleasantly with Spitfire.
  2222. >You're surprised to find that you're actually enjoying yourself.
  2223. >You enjoy yourself so much, in fact, that you completely forget that you were only going along with this 'coffee date' thing because you wanted to be nice about rejecting Spitfire.
  2224. >It's not until Spitfire tells you that she has to get back to work ("I only took the morning off, 'Non, and I need to go home to change.") and leaves the coffee house that you realize that you never told Spitfire that you didn't want to herd with her.
  2225. "Aww, fuck."
  2232. ------------------------------------------------------
  2234. [OLD CONTENT]
  2235. >"RISE AND SHINE!"
  2236. >You are Anon, and you think you're having a heart attack.
  2237. >A big orange face fills your vision, and the only reason you didn't punch it is because you're still waking up and you aren't really sure where your limbs are.
  2239. "Oh, god."
  2240. >Please stop.
  2241. ---------
  2242. update: June 3
  2244. >"What are you doing in Anon's bedroom?!" screams a familiar, creaky voice, "Get OUT!"
  2245. >There's a thump, an 'oof!', and Spitfire's face sails out of view.
  2246. >Did... did Rainbow Dash just dive-tackle Spitfire away from you?
  2247. >Rainbow stands on top of you, straddling your chest and pointing an accusing hoof off to the side; presumably over to where she sent Spitfire flying.
  2248. >"You pervert, didn't your father teach you not to sneak into a colt's bedroom?!"
  2249. >Spitfire answers in the form of a return-tackle, and the two dart out of your sight.
  2250. >You scramble backwards and bash your shoulder into your headboard, making the entire bed jump.
  2251. "Fuck!"
  2252. >>"Get your hoof off of my-hey!"
  2253. >Left shoulder smarting, you shuffle up into a sitting position and observe the carnage around you.
  2254. >You watch Rainbow push Spitfire off of your bed, and you catch a glimpse of absolute shock on her face at the unexpected fall before she tumbles to the floor.
  2255. >Spitfire's forelegs pinwheel around as she falls, and she grabs a hold of Rainbow and pulls her down with her.
  2256. >There's a loud -THUMP- as they impact the floor, which makes you wince in sympathy.
  2257. >You aren't sure which one landed on the bottom, but you're sure it hurt either way.
  2258. >>"Rookie?!" screams Spitfire, "Just what the RUT do you think yo-GET OFF OF ME!"
  2259. >You watch as a rainbow mane and an orange mane flop up over the edge of your bed; the ponies are small enough and close enough to the ground that all you can see are the waving tails and manes of whichever pony is on top of the wrestling match at that moment.
  2260. >"I should tell THUNDERLANE that you like watching COLTS while they SLEEP!"
  2261. >The orange mane make an appearance.
  2262. >>"I outta write you up for this!"
  2263. >The orange mane disappears and your desk jumps as the pair bump into it.
  2264. >You have just enough time to catch a glimpse of Rainbow's tail before it flies back down out of sight and gets replaced by an orange tail.
  2265. >A single ink well spins around and dances in place, the black contents reaching precariously close to the open edge.
  2266. >"I had better not find any of Anon's - OW! - socks or testcile-bras in your pockets later on, Spitfire!"
  2267. >A little stool with a few borrowed books (thank you, Twilight) clatters to the floor as an orange tail whips by the foot of your bed.
  2268. >>"Anon doesn't even HAVE any testicle-bras!"
  2269. >The desk jumps again as the unseen pair (minus the tails and manes) roll around again.
  2270. >You watch, entranced by this action, as the ink well spins around in place again, its dancing and sloshing even more wild than before.
  2271. >"How DARE you?!" screeches Rainbow Dash as her little ears poke up from the edge of the bed.
  2272. >There's another BANG! - you guess Rainbow Dash just slammed Spitfire into your desk.
  2273. >"Anon's not some kind of sluuUUUOAAHH!!"
  2274. >That last impact was the straw that broke the camel's back.
  2275. >The ink well finally tips over and spills its contents over the edge of the desk.
  2276. >Conveniently, Spitfire and Rainbow Dash are directly underneath it.
  2277. >That'll learn'em.
  2278. >You slowly make your way out of bed, cringing at your stinging shoulder.
  2279. >Two ponies look up at you under a wet blanket of ink.
  2280. >Rainbow Dash has Spitfire in a headlock, and Spitfire has Rainbow's tail caught between her bared teeth.
  2281. "Are you done?"
  2282. >Both ponies look at each other, and then back at you; they nod.
  2283. "Good."
  2284. >You point out the door and down the hall to where your bathroom is.
  2285. "Wash up. And I had better not see any ink stains in my tub, or I swear to god."
  2286. ---
  2287. >You are Anon, and you are patiently waiting in your living-room while Spitfire and Rainbow Dash clean off all that ink.
  2288. >You eye up your temporarily patched-up window, and think about yesterday.
  2289. >You thought it was going to be a slow, lazy day for you.
  2290. >You'd do the shit you normally do on your days off.
  2291. >Do some gardening, since nothing beats dishes made from fresh veggies, and the market prices are brutal.
  2292. >Maybe you'd sweep a bit or finally get around to cleaning your bathroom.
  2293. >Your back door is squeaky, so you kinda wanted to figure out if you just needed to oil the hinges, or if you needed to remount the damn thing in the frame.
  2294. >But then, this happened.
  2295. >Spitfire and Rainbow Dash ambush you and tell you that they want to horsemarry you.
  2296. >Or something.
  2297. >There's a contract about Equestria putting its money where its mouth is, and that means showing foreign countries that all that bullshit about "being economically powerful enough that most mares are capable of raising a large family" is true.
  2298. >Rainbow Dash, you can kind of understand going through with this, but only because you don't like the idea of her starting a family with some asshole off the street.
  2299. >Spitfire, though...
  2300. >She sorta just inserted herself into all this.
  2301. >So far, she made Rainbow Dash break your window, flirted with you relentlessly while you tried to find your upset friend, and has just overall made Rainbow Dash upset.
  2302. >She's also the aunt of your favourite filly, Scootaloo, so... that's something, you guess.
  2303. >You sigh tiredly and lean against the arm of your couch, planting your elbow on the armrest and propping your head up with your palm.
  2304. "This is the worst."
  2305. >You talked her down from dinner to coffee because you wanted her to stop waving around her money-clit at you for five fucking minutes.
  2306. >You figured that going to dinner would be more like an official date - at least with getting coffee, you have more wiggle room about whether or not you're just casually meeting up with friends.
  2307. "I'll probably just tell her I forgot to turn my oven off and head home once I'm done my coffee."
  2308. >Maybe you'll get lucky and Rainbow will follow you home.
  2309. "That mare and I seriously need to have a long talk."
  2310. >You angrily adjust the collar on your shirt - it's old, and it's lost its stiffness.
  2311. >The material is just too warn for any sort of horsey magical washing fluid to stiffen it up.
  2312. "Well," you grunt, "It's not like I need to look fancy for Tim Horsens.
  2313. >You mentally high-five yourself for that pun.
  2314. >Horses love puns.
  2315. "I'll be glad when this... coffee thing is done."
  2316. >Spitfire had a few funny moments, but overall, you're not a big fan of her.
  2317. >She, well...
  2318. >...she's kind of a cunt.
  2319. >She's Scootaloo's aunt, but that's about all she's got going for her right now.
  2320. >Not a whole heck of a lot about her is appealing to you.
  2321. >Maybe it's because you managed to get a good night's sleep, but the events of yesterday aren't as endearing this morning as they were last night.
  2322. >In the fewer than 24 hours you've known her, she's managed to upset Rainbow Dash to the point where she broke your window.
  2323. >Then she flirted with you, promised that she knew you were different than other stallions, and then quickly went back to treating you like other stallions.
  2324. "Feels like longer than a day, though."
  2325. >[spoiler]Feels like it's been two or three months.[/spoiler]
  2326. >She thinks you're all getting married, but you're not.
  2327. >You're obviously not.
  2328. >Spitfire will find some nice boring stallion who looks pretty, and you'll figure out what you're gonna do about Rainbow Dash later.
  2329. >The muffled coconut-shell clip-clops of hooves on carpet announce the arrival of your new guests.
  2330. >Rainbow Dash enters first, mane still damp and a rosey glow on her cheeks.
  2331. >There's still a few black splotches of ink on her fur in those hard to reach places, but that doesn't matter to her.
  2332. >What other ponies think never mattered to her.
  2333. >Never.
  2334. >That's why she's friends with you - ponies thought you were weird at first; an outsider.
  2335. >But after a few well-placed barbs, she warmed up to you.
  2336. >Even if a few ponies think SHE'S weird, their opinions don't matter to her at all.
  2337. "Hey there, Rainbow," you say with a warm smile on your face, "C'mon up."
  2338. >You pat the couch cushion next to you, and Rainbow wastes no time hopping up.
  2339. >Wriggling her but a bit (for speed), she hops up onto the couch and curls up next to you like an affectionate cat.
  2340. >"Remind me to remind Spitfire that it's really gay for a mare to try and preen another mare's wings."
  2341. >Pffft.
  2342. >Of course it is.
  2343. >You give Rainbow Dash a thumbs-up.
  2344. "Can do."
  2345. >Next entering the room is Spitfire, with a tiny, sleepy filly laying sprawled on her back.
  2346. >>"Hey there, hot stuff," says Spitfire with a wink, "You ready to go?"
  2347. >She turns her head and nuzzles Scootaloo, whose eyes are drooping from waking up so early.
  2348. >>"I'm gonna let this one nap a bit until we get to the place."
  2349. >Rainbow's ears perk up.
  2350. >"We're bringing Scootaloo along?"
  2351. >Spitfire levels a light glare at Rainbow Dash.
  2352. >>"I'm not going to leave my niece all alone."
  2353. >She glances up at you and winks again.
  2354. >>"Consider yourself on the clock, 'Non. Make sure my little filly doesn't burn the coffee house to the ground trying to get her cutie mark in coffee-making, alright?"
  2355. "I can't promise anything."
  2356. >You really can't.
  2357. >You got lucky those times with the Crusaders - they were already covered in sap, or tied up in some kite strings, or something that slows them down.
  2358. >They're all really young and full of energy, and you're just an old man in his 20s who can't keep up with them.
  2359. >With Spitfire fighting to be in the lead, the three of you leave your house and into nature itself.
  2360. >You're immediately hit with a blast of crisp morning air, and you just as quickly regret not bringing a light jacket or something.
  2361. >The cool air has a similar effect on Scootaloo, because it's not very long before she's wide awake, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
  2362. >Rainbow is fairing significantly worse than the filly, though.
  2363. >It makes sense - Rainbow flies through freezing clouds all the time; this weather is probably warm enough to ease her to sleep, by her standards.
  2364. >She's half asleep, and you think the only reason she hasn't walked into a tree is because some part of her body is always touching the side of your leg, using you as a guide.
  2365. >"Are we almost at the coffee place?"
  2366. >Rainbow opens her mouth in a bone-deep yawn that's so wide you swear you heard a little -crick- coming from her jaw, and leans more heavily into your side.
  2367. >" 'cuz I could really go for a mug..."
  2368. >She stumbles and nearly knocks you over.
  2369. >"...or four."
  2370. >Frankly, it's a miracle that Rainbow's awake right now at this early an hour.
  2371. >You hope you don't have to carry her to the coffee house.
  2372. >...again.
  2373. >Spitfire beams up at you, looking strangely excited.
  2374. >>"This is going to be the best romantic Equestrian coffee date the two of you will have ever been on."
  2375. >Bitch, this'll be the FIRST romantic Equestrian... whatever, that you've ever been on.
  2376. >In Equestria.
  2377. >Rainbow grunts angrily at the sound of Spitfire's voice and sleepily rubs the side of her face against your thigh.
  2378. ---
  2379. >You are Anon, and you and your posse of bad dudes are making your way down the street to get some coffee.
  2380. >>>"Can we get something to eat?"
  2381. >Looks like the littlest member of your posse needs some yum-yums in her tum-tums.
  2382. >Spitfire leans down and lightly bumps Scootaloo's snoot with her own - by now, Scootaloo had rolled off of her aunt's back so that she can walk along side the rest of you.
  2383. >>"You should have had something back at 'Non's house, Scootaloo."
  2384. >Scootaloo makes a face.
  2385. >>>"Yeah, but all Nonny has is gross bran cereal!"
  2386. >Whoops.
  2387. >You weren't planning on having Scootaloo stay over that night, so you didn't have any food she liked in stock.
  2388. "Sorry, kiddo. I wasn't expecting you, so I didn't get any of that sugary cereal you like."
  2389. >Spitfire looks up at you, somewhat impressed.
  2390. >>"YOU'RE the one who got her that cereal?"
  2391. >You nearly flinch at the tone of disapproval, which is at odds with the impressed expression on her face..
  2392. "I've got that garden so that I can make a nice nutritious dinner," you say, matter-of-factly, "But breakfast has never been my strong suit."
  2393. >You shrug.
  2394. "I know a lot of ponies like hay-bacon, but I can't stand the smell of it cooking. It's a box of Scootaloo's cereal, or not much else."
  2395. >Spitfire raises her eyebrows in what you're pretty sure is the equivalent of the human gesture of raising your hands, palms-out, defensively or disarmingly.
  2396. >>"No, no, no," she says quickly, interrupting you, "You're not in trouble or anything. I just thought it was her dad who got her that stuff."
  2397. >Spitfire looks straight ahead, and has a troubled look on her face.
  2398. >>"Can't even trust him to feed her properly..." she mutters, probably not really intending for you to hear her say that.
  2399. "Hmmm..."
  2400. >She means Scootaloo's dad, right?
  2401. >That could be concerning.
  2402. >Is her dad neglecting her, or something?
  2403. >Surely not.
  2404. >You have your concerns, but no real evidence to back any of it up.
  2405. "Her da-?"
  2406. >Your eyes lock with Scootaloo as she smiles at you, and you cut yourself off, making a wet choking noise in the back of your throat.
  2407. >You can't discuss this sorta thing with Scootaloo here.
  2408. >That's insensitive.
  2409. >You could seriously upset her if she's actually being mistreated.
  2410. >Meanwhile, in the present, Spitfire has turned around to address the filly.
  2411. >Spitfire peers left and right exaggeratedly, as though making sure nobody was listening in.
  2412. >It's unnecessary since the four of you are just about the only people awake at the ass-crack of dawn, but you figure it's probably just for Scootaloo's benefit.
  2413. >Spitfire seems to want to see that smile just as much as you do.
  2414. >>"I can get you a doughnut from the coffee place," says Spitfire in a loud, totally-not-sneaky stage-whisper, "but only if you promise not to tell your dad, alright?"
  2415. >She winks at Scootaloo, who giggles and winks back.
  2416. >>>"Promise!"
  2417. >God, that's cute.
  2418. >Scootaloo turns to you, still smiling excitedly at the prospect of a sugary treat.
  2419. >>>"What about you, 'Nonny?"
  2420. >...what?
  2421. >You weren't 100% paying attention just now.
  2422. "Hmm? What ABOUT me?"
  2423. >>>"Are you gonna get a doughnut too?"
  2424. >A big, dumb smile works its way onto Spitfire's face.
  2425. >Not an "I'm going to do something nice for somebody" smile.
  2426. >It's the same smile your friend used to get when he found a way to bust out a dumb pun, or twist someone's innocent words into filthy innuendo.
  2427. >>"Yeah, 'Non," repeats Spitfire, "Do you want me to buy you a doughnut too?"
  2428. >Oh!
  2429. >That's not a pun, and it CERTAINLY isn't innuendo either.
  2430. >Tempting, but you think you've been eating too many sweets lately.
  2431. "Thanks, but I-"
  2432. >>"I was planning on getting one for myself, but you can have it if you want."
  2433. >She winks at you.
  2434. >...wait one fucking minute.
  2435. >You think you can see where she's taking thi-
  2436. >>"Do you wanna eat my doughnut, 'Non? I can get you an orange one if you like."
  2438. "..."
  2439. >You stare at her.
  2440. >She grins back at you and starts to wiggle her eyebrows.
  2441. >Okay, she can fuck right off.
  2442. >You turn away from Spitfire without a word and keep walking to the coffee place.
  2443. >You know what?
  2444. >You don't think you really have to give anything Spitfire says much credence.
  2445. >You're pretty sure that nothing is wrong, and she just doesn't think too highly of stallions.
  2446. >Scootaloo's home life is probably fine, and she's just enamored with her aunt.
  2447. >A bunch of kids practically worship some member of their family - a cousin, an older sibling, or an aunt or uncle.
  2448. >When you're young, you can find someone you think the world of.
  2449. >Someone you think is THE definition of "cool".
  2450. >You've already seen Scootaloo do that with Rainbow Dash, so it's not a stretch to imagine she's doing it a second time with her Wonderbolt Captain aunt.
  2451. >It doesn't mean that she's being abused at home.
  2452. >Hell, you bet Scootaloo's dad is probably a really nice guy and SPITFIRE'S the asshole.
  2453. >>"Hey!"
  2454. >Spitfire gallops over and catches up with you.
  2455. >You notice that she makes sure that while she's still walking beside you, she's a foot or two AHEAD of you.
  2456. >Like, it's on purpose.
  2457. >Just so that she's ahead of you.
  2458. >You're tempted to do the same and speed up to walk ahead of HER, but you don't want to leave Rainbow Dash behind thanks to a pissing contest you never asked to enter.
  2459. >Spitfire doesn't look very happy right now, since you just walked off.
  2460. >You must have embarrassed her in front of Scootaloo and Rainbow Dash.
  2461. >That's too bad.
  2462. >>"So," says Spitfire, voice slightly strained, "Where's this crumby coffee place, anyway?"
  2463. >She scoffs derisively.
  2464. >>"I can probably fly there faster than it'll take us to walk there."
  2465. >Scootaloo nods enthusiastically from her aunt's back.
  2466. >>>"It's true! Auntie Spits is the fastest mare in the world!"
  2467. >She stops suddenly and glances over at your sleepy blue friend, and a look of realization blooms on her face.
  2468. >Scootaloo glances unsurely between her aunt and Rainbow Dash a few times, laughing nervously.
  2469. >>>"Other than Rainbow Dash, of course," she clarifies.
  2470. >See?
  2471. >Dual hero-worship between Rainbow Dash and Spitfire.
  2472. >You clearly don't have to concern yourself with whatever bullshit Spitfire thinks about Scootaloo's dad; she's fine.
  2473. >Anyway, you decide that this is as good a time as any to start teasing Scootaloo.
  2474. "Maybe I'M the fastest flyer in Equestria," you deadpan, "You don't know that I'm not."
  2475. >Scootaloo doesn't look convinced.
  2476. >>>"You don't have wings, Nonny."
  2477. "Pfft, shows what you know. I hide them under my shirt."
  2478. >You ball your fist up and point over your shoulder with your thumb.
  2479. >Scootaloo still doesn't look like she believes you.
  2480. >This is good - you are obviously lying.
  2481. >>>"Oh yeah? Show them."
  2482. "Nuh-uh. Human stallions only take their shirts off in front of the human mare they're getting married to."
  2483. >You ruffle the collar of your shirt, trying in vain to readjust the limp fabric.
  2484. "Being shirtless is really l-lewd."
  2485. >Spitfire eyes you with suspicion.
  2486. >>"...wait, really?" she asks skeptically.
  2487. > know what? You're gonna fuck with Spitfire a bit.
  2488. "Yeah, for sure," you say, trying to sound honest, "That's why I'm always wearing clothes."
  2489. >It has more to do with pony weather leaning more to extremes because they already have warm coats to protect them from the elements, but whatever.
  2490. >Seriously, pony summers get so fucking hot it's not even funny.
  2491. >And winters are so cold that it doesn't even matter that the snow only comes up to your knees.
  2492. >Spitfire looks you up and down, looking at your shoe-covered feet, the pants that cover all of your legs, and the long-sleeve shirt you currently have rolled up to your elbows.
  2493. >>"Well," she asks suspiciously, "Why are those foreleg-clothes rolled up a bit?"
  2494. >Without really thinking, you say the first thing that comes to mind.
  2495. "Because we're courting, remember?"
  2496. >...shit.
  2497. >SHIT.
  2498. >Wait, no, that was a bad.
  2499. >THAT WAS A BAD.
  2500. >Spitfire's eyes widen and for a brief moment, she looks panicked.
  2501. >You choose this as the perfect moment to cease fucking with her.
  2502. "Nah," you say, laughing a bit, "I'm just fuuccccddging with you, Spitfire."
  2503. >Can't swear in front of impressionable Scootaloo.
  2504. >Spitfire looks a little relieved.
  2505. >Or maybe just a bit less panicked.
  2506. >You're still not 100% up to snuff with pony facial expressions.
  2507. >>"Oh," she says dumbly, "Okay, then."
  2508. >Yeah, that took an awkward turn.
  2509. >>"Anyway, where's that coffee place?"
  2510. >Oh, right.
  2511. >That.
  2512. >You point in the general direction of your favourite coffee house.
  2513. "It's just down the road from here."
  2514. >All that talking made quick work of travel time, and now you're just a block away.
  2515. >The road's almost empty of ponies this early in the morning, but that'll change in just a few minutes.
  2516. "Rise And Grind is just a block or two away. If we get there soon, we might beat the morning rush."
  2517. >Rainbow, meanwhile, noses her way in between you and Spitfire.
  2518. >Spitfire's forced to move a bit to the side and away from you.
  2519. >Rainbow's eyes are still slammed closed, her hoof-steps are a bit sloppy, and she's grumbling to herself.
  2520. "Yeesh. You really don't do too well without your morning nap, huh?"
  2521. >"Shut up, Anon," she mutters, words slurred slightly, "I'm... awesome-awake righ' now."
  2522. >You rest your hand on Rainbow's head and start scratching your fingertips back and forth between her ears, slowly working your way into her mane.
  2523. "I swear, you're like a hobbit. Only instead of two breakfasts, you need two naps just to get you all the way over to noon."
  2524. >Rainbow Dash either does not know (or care) what a hobbit is, or she is just not awake enough to appreciate your high-brow humour.
  2525. >She inclines her head, pressing your hand more firmly against her scalp.
  2526. >You think this was supposed to be her "throwing" your hand off of her.
  2527. >"Shut UP, Anon." she growls, a little louder.
  2528. >A little orange hoof darts out of nowhere and smacks Rainbow Dash right on the muzzle.
  2529. >Sleepy Rainbow, of course, startles like a scared cat and leaps a solid two feet into the air.
  2530. >Your hand is sadly freed from Rainbow's mane in the process - something that upsets you a little bit more than you expected it to.
  2531. >>>"Don't tell colts to shut up!" shouts Scootaloo, her voice squeaking.
  2532. >She's got the most adorable and genuine look of outrage on her face; in the way that only a child can be outraged.
  2533. >Since Rainbow is now lying sprawled on the ground, your little group comes to a halt to give her a chance to get back up.
  2534. >You take this opportunity to figuratively tweak Rainbow's nose, and you walk over so that you can pet Scootaloo on the head.
  2535. "Thank you, Scootaloo," you say, loud enough for Rainbow to hear you, "That was very nice of you to defend me."
  2536. >You glance over at Rainbow, who's now openly glaring at you with heavy, baggy eyes.
  2537. "Rainbow," you simper exaggeratedly, "Why can't you be more like Scootaloo?"
  2538. >Rainbow just grumbles as she clumsily gets to her hooves, and you grin as another opportunity presents itself.
  2539. "Scootaloo knows how to speak clearly, too. Mumbling is rude."
  2540. >"Well," snaps Rainbow Dash, now on all four hooves, "Scootaloo won't get smacked if she says what I'm mumbling, Anon."
  2541. "Wow," you say with mock-offence, trying to hold back your laughter, "How rude."
  2542. >Scootaloo has now gotten up on her hind legs, and she's hugging your arm to her chest.
  2543. >With your fingertips scraping the ground, Scootaloo's muzzle barely reaches your shoulder.
  2544. >>>"I'll keep you safe, Nonny!" she crows proudly, "Daddy says that good fillies look out for colts!"
  2545. >God, why is she SO CUTE?!
  2546. >You reward Scootaloo with some ear-scratches.
  2547. >Bitches LOVE ear-scritches.
  2548. >Scootaloo coos and leans into your hand, adorably struggling to keep her balance and not fall over, still gripping onto your forearm.
  2549. >Rainbow Dash doesn't seem to think any of this is very funny, because she walks around you three and heads off in the direction of the coffee house, leaving you all behind.
  2550. "Alright, alright," you say, giggling to yourself, "Let's get going."
  2551. >Ah, but you still have a problem: this filly is still attached to your arm.
  2552. >Still supporting Scootaloo with one hand, you poke Scootaloo in the belly with the other one.
  2553. >She squeaks and tries to bat your hand away, ultimately losing her grip and tumbling to the ground.
  2554. >She's fine.
  2555. "I think this one needs some breakfast in her tummy. The Rise and Grind sells doughnuts."
  2556. >Every coffee place does.
  2557. ---
  2558. >Dark Roast smiles at you as the four of you enter her coffee house and approach the counter.
  2559. >She's got a rich, dark-brown coat of shiny fur, and her mane and tail are approaching a dark mahogany.
  2560. >"Welcome to the Rise and Grind!" she chirps, "What'll it be, sweetheart?"
  2561. >She points towards a small chalkboard on the wall behind her, which has the shop's drinks written out.
  2562. >The writing is a bit sloppy and jerky in some points, which makes you think that this was written by hoof rather than by magic.
  2563. >Which is weird, considering that Dark Roast is a unicorn.
  2564. >She even has a few crude (but charming) sketches of the drinks next to the specialty ones.
  2565. >"Iced double-mocha frappuccinos are pretty popular among the stallions this time of year. It's getting warm out, and everypony wants to cool down."
  2566. >Wow, that sounds disgusting.
  2567. >Double-mocha?
  2568. >Maybe.
  2569. >Iced coffee?
  2570. >Never ever.
  2571. "Not this time; I want to wake up, not cool down. I'll just have a plain coffee with cream."
  2572. >Dark Roast looks like she doesn't quite believe you.
  2573. >"You sure, sweetie?" she asks skeptically, "This is a hit with the colts right now - you might like it more than plain with cream. I hear the same thing from colts who end up sending the order back and getting something sweeter and tastier."
  2574. >You frown at the mare, starting to feel annoyed.
  2575. "I'm sure," you reply firmly, "Can I just get a plai-ooh!"
  2576. >Spitfire shimmies past you, rubbing up against the side of your leg as she passes by.
  2577. >>"Hey, now!" she chides playfully, "It's my treat, remember? What'll you have, 'Non?"
  2578. >...this fucking mare.
  2579. "Just a coffee, please." you say, overly sweetly, "With a splash of cream."
  2580. >Dark Roast watches you as you place your order, and then looks down expectantly at Spitfire.
  2581. >"Ma'am?"
  2582. >Spitfire nods at her.
  2583. >>"He'll have a large coffee with cream."
  2584. >...ohhhhh, this is some condescending horseshit right here.
  2585. >Spitfire leans down and nuzzles Scootaloo's mane.
  2586. >>"And how about you, kiddo? Still want that doughnut?"
  2587. >Scootaloo nods and nuzzles her aunt back.
  2588. >>"Mm-hmmm! Can I get a hot chocolate too, please?"
  2589. >Spitfire smiles indulgently at her niece and nods.
  2590. >>"Sure thing."
  2591. >She repeats her order to Dark Roast, who nods and writes it down.
  2592. >>"Now," says Spitfire, glancing back at Rainbow Dash, "What about you, Rainbow?"
  2593. >Rainbow finally trudges up after you, looking exhausted.
  2594. >Her ears are flopping limply against her skull, her posture is loose and hunched, and every once in a while she'll stumble over one of her own hooves.
  2595. >Despite waking up about an hour ago, she looks like she just came off a ten-hour shift.
  2596. >"...whuh?"
  2597. >You kneel down and lean in so that you can whisper in her ear.
  2598. "Spitfire wants to know what sorta coffee you want."
  2599. >Rainbow Dash sleepily and sluggishly shakes her head.
  2600. >"Nah, it's fine," she mumbles, "I can pay for my own."
  2601. >Spitfire rolls her eyes.
  2602. >>"Don't be difficult, Rookie. It was my idea, so it's my treat."
  2603. >She nudges Rainbow Dash with a horse-elbow; Rainbow Dash leans away from her and grunts irritably.
  2604. >>"C'mon, what drink do you want? Do you want a doughnut too, like Scootaloo?"
  2605. >Rainbow cracks open an eye and stares Spitfire down.
  2606. >"I want... I wanna mumble grumble."
  2607. >Rainbow Dash's words trail off before she can properly get the sentence out.
  2608. >Spitfire leans in a bit and perks up one of her ears.
  2609. >>"You want a what?"
  2610. >Rainbow Dash shakes her head a bit and tries to pry open her eyelids.
  2611. >"A... a double-mocha mumblecinno."
  2612. >She wants that dumb iced drink?
  2613. >Spitfire blinks in confusion, watching as Rainbow Dash starts to paw at the ground with a forehoof.
  2614. >>"What do you want, Rainbow Dash? C'mon."
  2615. >"Uh..."
  2616. >Rainbow's ears flop against her skull, and she looks away.
  2617. >"I'll have a mumble grumble..."
  2618. >Spitfire blinks in confusion, watching as Rainbow Dash starts to paw at the ground with a forehoof.
  2619. >>"Excuse me?"
  2620. >When Rainbow speaks again, you can just barely hear it.
  2621. >" of those double-mocha frappuccinos, please..."
  2622. >Spitfire promptly enters drill sergeant mode.
  2623. >>"Speak up, rookie! I taught you to speak clearly, didn't I?!"
  2624. >...looks like Spitfire didn't hear Rainbow Dash.
  2625. >Rainbow Dash, meanwhile, bristles and faces straight ahead with her eyes still closed, face red and looking unhappy.
  2626. >And sleepy.
  2627. >You're pretty sure she only managed that posture out of sheer instinct.
  2628. >"B-Black! I'll have it black!"
  2629. >Rainbow Dash, now a little more awake, looks disappointed.
  2630. >You know her pretty well, and you know that she hates black coffee.
  2631. >You guess she just sorta... gave into Spitfire's peer pressure.
  2632. >But you ALSO know what she loves - Rainbow fucking ADORES those dumb, sweet, iced coffee things.
  2633. >She'll pour it into a regular mug to disguise it whenever you go out to get some.
  2634. >She doesn't seem to like the idea of ponies finding out that she likes something like that.
  2635. >You know what you can do, here.
  2636. >You'll get a frappu-whatever and play swapsies with Rainbow Dash.
  2637. >You lean down towards Spitfire and nudge her to get her attention.
  2638. "Hey, Spitfire? I've changed my mind. Can I actually have that mocha frappuccino thingy instead?"
  2639. >You make an effort to smile sheepishly, as though you actually DO want that gross drink.
  2640. "It sounds pretty good right now."
  2641. >Spitfire nods and corrects your order.
  2642. >Dark Roast looks smug when she hands you your drinks; especially when she slides your iced coffee across.
  2643. >"Enjoy your frappuccino, honey."
  2644. >You snatch the tray and, with a parting glare, mosey on back to your group, who have since found a table for you all to sit at.
  2645. >You shimmy into your too-small chair and start passing out drinks.
  2646. >If Spitfire were to open her mouth right now, you're sure she'd have some sort of quip about how this is how a good colt is supposed to be - bringing drinks and serving them to "his mares".
  2647. >She looks a bit smug when she looks at you, but you glare at her until she looks away.
  2648. >You're nipping THAT bullshit in the bud, thank you very much.
  2649. >And so, you pass the drinks out.
  2650. >You put the stupid frappuccino thing in front of yourself; the black coffee gets placed in front of Spitfire; the other black coffee slides towards Rainbow Dash, whose hours in the bar drinking mugs of cider have given her the ability to flawlessly catch mugs of fluid without spilling their contents; and a small hot chocolate (and a doughnut) for Scootaloo.
  2651. >You even napped a straw on the way over so that she doesn't have to worry about accidentally spilling her hot drink all over herself.
  2652. >Rainbow settles down in her seat and stares at her black coffee with distaste, clearly unhappy with her selection.
  2653. >It was a weird moment back then - Rainbow normally doesn't give into peer pressure.
  2654. >Not whenever YOU see her, anyway.
  2655. >Then again, you never saw Captain Spitfire of the Wonderbolts all up in her grill before, so maybe it's that pseudo-military discipline you hear all about kicking in.
  2656. >Welp, time to come to the rescue.
  2657. >You bring the straw of your whipped cream covered monstrosity to your lips and take a sip.
  2658. >You cringe involuntarily immediately.
  2659. >The flavour spreads over your tastebuds like an unwelcome mouthful of bad cough syrup.
  2660. >Not the nice grape flavoured cough syrup, either - you're talking about BANANA flavour, and the way it stubbornly sticks to your tastebuds in all the wrong ways.
  2661. >First of all, it's way too sweet.
  2662. >Like, disgustingly sweet.
  2663. >Like, you're pretty sure the very bottom inch of drink is just chocolate syrup.
  2664. >You can't place the taste, but you can very easily categorize it in the "tastes bad" category of your brain.
  2665. >Next, the taste of coffee.
  2666. >That in itself is fine, bear in mind.
  2667. >It's the way that it's now ICE COLD that's making your tongue shrivel up.
  2668. >Everything about this drink is wrong, and you really don't even have to try and PRETEND to pull off a disgusted grimace.
  2669. "Oh, god," you stammer, having to try three times to swallow your mouthful of hell-drink, "That is just... awful."
  2670. >You kind of want to vomit.
  2671. >You look over at Rainbow and you are pleading with her using your eyes.
  2672. >You now realize that this game you're playing is all too real.
  2673. >It's no longer a matter of pretending to pawn off your drink for coffee you actually like.
  2674. >It's now a legitimate issue.
  2675. >You really don't want this fucking disaster of a beverage, and you find yourself wondering if you can still be friends with Rainbow Dash now that you realize that she has shit tastes.
  2676. "D-Do you mind swapping, Rainbow?"
  2677. >Maybe it's the desperate pleading expression on your face.
  2678. >Maybe it's the way you're willing to trade her something she likes in exchange for taking away something she DOESN'T like.
  2679. >Maybe it's the sweat that's starting to form on your forehead.
  2680. >Because Rainbow immediately begins to nod frantically, and she pushes her mug of GOOD coffee your way before you even finish the word "swapping".
  2681. >"Yeah!" she chirps happily, eagerly leaning forward in her seat to snatch the plastic cup from your hands that much quicker.
  2682. >She wriggles happily in her seat and stares down at what she considers to be a treasure in her hooves.
  2683. >But a few seconds later - decidedly a few seconds too late to make anyone watching believe that she is doing this reluctantly - Rainbow realizes her mistake and stops doing a little happy dance in her seat.
  2684. >She looks over at Spitfire moving only her eyes, the rest of her body stock still.
  2685. >Spitfire gazes back at her with her steaming mug in her hooves, eyelids lowered in a distinctly unimpressed look.
  2686. >"I-I mean, uh..." Rainbow finally stammers, "I g-guess I could... y'know, put up with this."
  2687. >When Spitfire's expression doesn't change, Rainbow turns away from her and hunches over her drink.
  2688. >Without wasting another second, Rainbow Dash knocks the top off of the plastic cup with a quick, rough jab with her hoof and begins slurping.
  2689. >You nearly vomit by watching her, and you take a deep drag from your steaming mug of coffee just to have something else in your stomach.
  2690. >The rancid flavour of that iced coffee still lingers on your tongue like red wine on white fabric (Rarity almost didn't forgive you for that blunder), and you hope that your tastebuds will some day be able to find it in their hearts to forgive you.
  2691. >Spitfire eyes the two of you up, but doesn't say a word.
  2692. >She doesn't have to; her entire expression is the personification of "what is this bullshit that just transpired?"
  2693. >And you refuse to rise to her bait.
  2694. >Colts are supposed to leave mares guessing, right?
  2695. >Or something like that?
  2696. >...or maybe that's only when it comes to sex?
  2697. >This is probably close enough.
  2698. >It takes less than twenty seconds for Rainbow to demolish that iced coffee.
  2699. >She leans back in her chair and tilts the cup completely horizontally, dribbling twin rivulets of light-brown coffee drink from the corners of her mouth.
  2700. >With impressive grace, she manages to dribble coffee into her chest tuft.
  2701. >Like you said before - she's a messy drinker.
  2702. >But with a single quick, fluid motion, Rainbow slams the cup back down onto the table and lets out a big, satisfied sigh.
  2703. >"Aahhhh!"
  2704. >She smiles up at you with coffee-stained lips.
  2705. >You guess the coffee did its job, because Rainbow Dash looks nice and wide awake now.
  2706. >Your bluest friend smiles sweetly up at you with coffee-stained lips.
  2707. >"Y'see, Anon?" she asks cheerfully, licking her lips of any lingering drops of coffee, "There's nothing romantic about this date!"
  2708. >...oh, she heard Spitfire's bit of bragging back when you left the house, huh?
  2709. >You thought she had actually fallen asleep and was just walking on auto-pilot.
  2710. >It takes a solid second for Rainbow Dash to realize what she said, and the effect is immediate.
  2711. >Her face burns bright red through her even brighter blue fur, and her ears practically glow.
  2712. >She's stammering wildly, not actually making word-noises with her face-mouth.
  2713. >"W-Wait, not like that!" she finally spits out, "This isn't a date, c-cuz it's not romant-urrgh!"
  2714. >Rainbow plants her face in her hooves and covers up her eyes.
  2715. >You've seen this tactic the first few times one of you had accidentally selected a romantic movie on Movie-Cuddle Night.
  2716. >If you give her a few minutes to pretend that the world isn't happening right now, it gives her the strength to muster up enough courage to face that "unmarely" romantic situation.
  2717. >With you.
  2718. >All alone in the dark, sharing a single warm blanket on your couch that's juuuust big enough for the two of you.
  2719. >Bodies pressed together, feeling each other's warmth through your pyjama bottoms and her fur.
  2720. >Feeling her lean more and more into your side until you can wrap an arm around her withers and pull her against you.
  2721. >Feeling the comfortable weight of her body as she settles down on top of you, resting her head on your chest just above your heart.
  2722. >Smelling the wild, clean scent of the clouds and the air in her mane, which is just tantalizingly inches away from your nose.
  2723. >Wrapping her up in your arms, hoping that the moment will never be over and that the night will last forev-
  2724. >>"Are you normally this suave around pretty colts, Rainbow Dash?"
  2725. >Spitfire's voice yanks you painfully back to the present.
  2726. >You jolt as electricity seems to zip down your spine, making the tips of your fingers tingle.
  2727. >You nearly spill your coffee as you try to recover.
  2728. >You aren't sure why, but your face feels really hot, and you can feel your rapid heartbeat pounding in your cheeks.
  2729. >Spitfire gestures to you with a hoof, not bothering to look over at you.
  2730. >>"Because I don't know for how much longer I'll be able to hold 'Non back from ravishing you right here in the middle of this coffee shop.
  2731. >Rainbow Dash covers her face up a little bit more and hunches over the table.
  2732. >"Shut up, Spitfire."
  2733. >As usual, your mouth opens up before you can think of what to say.
  2734. >You feel like you should say something - something to cover up this weird thing that just happened to you.
  2735. >Like you're trying to cover up suspicion that isn't being directed at you.
  2736. "No, it's true," you stammer, talking just a little bit too loudly, "I can barely hold back my raging lust."
  2737. >Rainbow Dash tilts her head in your direction, but doesn't uncover her face.
  2738. >"Shut up, Anon."
  2739. >You hear Scootaloo babbling in the background about how a mare can and cannot treat a colt (all according to her father), but you don't listen to it.
  2740. >Your brain is feeling too unfocused for that, reliving those brief moments you lost yourself in that little fantasy of a memory.
  2741. >You don't remember bringing the previously mostly-full mug to your lips, but the next time you look down, your coffee's all gone.
  2742. >...
  2743. >You need to cut this not-date thing short and get home.
  2744. >You and Rainbow are overdue for a very important discussion about a very disruptive contract.
  2746. -------------------
  2747. Update: July 29
  2749. >>"Well, that was fun!" exclaims Spitfire, "We outta do this again, wild thing."
  2750. >...
  2751. "What?"
  2752. >Shit, you weren't paying attention.
  2753. >You've been thinking pretty hard about this whole 'herding' thing since your little... thing, back in the coffee place.
  2754. >Because you are Anon, and you're standing right outside your home.
  2755. >The coffee "date" went well, and the three of you shared friendly (if distracted) conversation with each other.
  2756. >Scootaloo got her doughnut, you drank some proper coffee, and it wasn't long before Scootaloo got too tired from waking up this early and Spitfire decided it was time to bring her home.
  2757. "Sorry," you say, grinning apologetically, "What'd you say, Spitfire?"
  2758. >Spitfire smiles to herself and rolls her eyes.
  2759. >>"Colts," she says with a dismissive sigh.
  2760. >She shakes her head - almost fondly - and then looks back up at you with a patient (if slightly annoyed) expression on her face.
  2761. >>"I said that this was fun and that we should do this again..."
  2762. >The annoyed wrinkles around her eyes melt away as she smirks and winks at you.
  2763. >>"...wild thing."
  2764. >Y-Yeesh.
  2765. >Sptifire's words make you shiver involuntarily, and you feel a little bit uncomfortable.
  2766. >It's a jarring experience, going from just about zero romantic attention from ponies to being on the receiving end of all this flirting.
  2767. >You weren't THIS socially-retarded back on Earth, but you guess spending enough time without being exposed to something will dull your ability to deal with it like a regular person would.
  2768. "Y-Yeah," you mutter, "Sure thing."
  2769. >You shuffle your feet and hope that Rainbow Dash picks up on your discomfort and does something.
  2770. >...
  2771. >Oh, god... You're going native!
  2772. >You're hoping that your friend reads your mind and rescues you!
  2773. >That's fucking IT; you're not going to "colt's night out" every Saturday night with Caramel and his friends anymore!
  2774. >You feel your chest swell with big-boy adult grown-up man-confidence, and you open your mouth to tell Spitfire to fuck RIGHT the fuck off.
  2775. >...but your big MAN-TIRADE gets turned into a tiny, surprised squeak when you catch sight of movement at the corner of your eye and about 40 pounds of horse slams into your leg.
  2776. >The only thing that lets you recover and keep from falling on your MAN-ASS are the instincts you've cultivated over the course of the... year? Two years? All that time you've been here.
  2777. >You look down at the violent assaulter, only to find a tiny little orange horse clinging to your leg like a cat clings to a scratching post.
  2778. >Scootaloo has wrapped her widdle hoofsies around your lower leg and has her head resting on your knee.
  2779. >And just like everything this fucking filly does, it's cute as balls.
  2780. >>>"That was lots of fun, Nonny!" crows Scootaloo happily, "Thanks for bringing me along!"
  2781. >She yawns loudly and closes her eyes, using that bit of thigh that's just above your knee as a fleshy pillow.
  2782. >You reach down and run your fingers through her mane.
  2783. >You'd scritch her ears, but you know that gets ponies excited, and the last thing this sleepy filly needs is to get more excited.
  2784. >Scootaloo's chin twitches as she sleepily tries to press the top of her head into your palm.
  2785. "No problem, little mare," you say fondly, "We can do this any time you want."
  2786. >Spitfire quietly trots over to you and starts to nuzzle Scootaloo's head.
  2787. >Scootaloo, eyes still closed, picks her head up and leans into her aunt's chin.
  2788. >Huh... that's a pretty similar reaction to when you rub ponies' heads.
  2789. >Maybe all this mane-petting you've been doing has been coming across as a nuzzle all along.
  2790. >When Spitfire pulls her head away, Scootaloo (eyes still shut) tries to follow it, and ends up falling entirely off of your leg.
  2791. >Beside you, Rainbow snickers at the surprised squeak the filly makes when she harmlessly stumbles onto the ground.
  2792. >Spitfire bites onto the scruff of Scootaloo's neck and picks her up, helping her back onto her hooves.
  2793. >>"Hey, 'Non?" asks Spitfire after a moment, "Scoots seems to be getting pretty sleepy. You mind if we plonk her down on your couch?"
  2794. >She winks at you - again.
  2795. >God, she's really getting a bunch of mileage out of that wink.
  2796. >It had better not be Spitfire hinting towards another type of 'winking'.
  2797. >...
  2798. >You mean horse pussy.
  2799. >That's what you mean.
  2800. >Winking horse clit andoh god is THIS why mares have been winking at you when they talk to you?!
  2801. >Do mares use eye-winking as visual innuendo for clit-winking?!
  2802. >Have you ACTUALLY been on the receiving end of a SHIT-LOAD of flirting, but you're too horse-autistic to realize?!
  2805. >Spitfire continues speaking, somehow unaware of the internal meltdown you're having right now.
  2806. >>"You mind if we all head inside? You know..."
  2808. >>"...take the 'potential' out of 'potential herd-sister'.
  2809. >She glances at Rainbow Dash and grins cockily at her.
  2810. >>"Amirite, Rainbow Dash?
  2811. >Rainbow Dash, meanwhile, looks pretty annoyed.
  2812. >...which honestly makes a lot more sense if eye-wink = clit-wink = hitting on you.
  2813. >She really doesn't like it when mares hit on you.
  2814. >Must be because she's such a good friend and only wants the best for you.
  2815. >What a good pony.
  2816. >Rainbow's ears are slapped against her skull, and she looks solidly annoyed.
  2817. >"Spitfire," she says, sounding irritated, "We're not herd-sisters."
  2818. >Spitfire tilts her head in honest confusion.
  2819. >>"Why not? We've got those contracts that say we've gotta find a hot stallion to hook up with, and we've got one right here."
  2820. "Oi. The 'hot stallion' never agreed to this."
  2821. >Spitfire rolls her eyes at you.
  2822. >>"Clearly, the 'hot stallion' hasn't had a chance to see what I have to offer. I-"
  2823. "Is it your money?"
  2824. >Spitfire's cocky grin freezes, and her words get caught in her throat.
  2825. >Gotcha, bitch.
  2826. >You remember her saying that way back in the pie shop, but apparently Spitfire does NOT.
  2827. >>"...n-no?" she stammers, clearly caught.
  2828. >Uh-huh.
  2829. "Well, then I guess it must be your dazzling personality."
  2830. >Don't MAKE you snap your fingers in a z-formation!
  2831. >You're a sassy bitch this morning, that's for sure.
  2832. >You knew that hanging out with Caramel would pay off someday.
  2833. >This apparently hit a nerve, because Spitfire went from "sheepish" to "angry" pretty quickly.
  2834. >>"Hey, now. That's a l-"
  2835. >Before you can get into an argument, movement in the corner of your eye catches your attention.
  2836. >Using the instincts honed through millions of years of evolution, you freeze with surprise and allow yourself to get rugby-tackled by about 40 pounds of horse.
  2837. "Oof!"
  2838. >But those instincts actually DO save you, and you manage to stay on your feet.
  2839. >Scootaloo has wrapped her little legs around you as well as she can, considering her status as a small horse-child.
  2840. >She peers up at you and rests her chin against your chest.
  2841. >Her eyes don't betray a hint of exhaustion, as they did just minutes ago
  2842. >Now, they only show sadness and betrayal.
  2843. >>>"You're not gonna herd with my auntie?"
  2844. >Scootaloo's voice cracks on the word 'auntie', and her little lower lip trembles.
  2845. >She looks and sounds absolutely heartbroken.
  2846. >Scootaloo sniffles and rubs her face on your shirt - you're willing to ignore the horse-fluids for now.
  2847. >>>"Y-You don't wanna be a part of my f-family?"
  2848. >OH NO
  2851. "Oh, honey..."
  2852. >You kneel down and pull Scootaloo into a proper hug.
  2853. >Now she can rest her head on your shoulder instead of just your chest.
  2854. "Your aunt and I just, uh... w-we're just not very good friends right now."
  2855. >Scootaloo sniffles.
  2856. >>>"B-But you had a date this morning!"
  2857. "Yeah, but that doesn't mean we're special someponies..."
  2858. >Scootaloo pulls away a bit and frowns up at you with big, watery eyes.
  2859. >NO
  2862. >Your heart clenches, and you feel like the biggest bastard in the world.
  2863. >You feel like you just told Scootaloo that Santa isn't real, and it was in fact her recently-deceased mother - who died just minutes ago - who had been giving her presents for years; tucked away under the Christmas tree in the house that is burning down RIGHT NOW.
  2864. >[spoiler]It took me 3 tries to write that out in one sentence, and it's still really awkwardly worded.[/spoiler]
  2865. >Your heart won't allow you to just end things here and make Scootaloo feel this damn sad.
  2866. >You're her foal-sitter, and you feel like you've had a part in raising her.
  2867. >Spitfire acts like a mom to her; more of a parent than her dad is, if Spitfire can be believed.
  2868. >Which she probably can't.
  2869. >This must be like mom and dad telling you that you're not getting un-divorced.
  2870. >You open your mouth, prepared to tell Scootaloo that this isn't her fault, and that you and her aunt still love her very, VERY much.
  2871. >That you'll still always be there for all the important moments in her life.
  2872. >Graduating from school
  2873. >Birthdays
  2874. >Her cute-ceañera
  2875. >NOT her first estrus, because that would be weird.
  2876. "...I-I-I mean," you stammer, desperately trying to backpedal, "I'm not herding with her... Y-YET!"
  2877. >[spoiler]You keep screaming, but God can't hear you.[/spoiler]
  2881. >...
  2883. >Scootaloo smiles at you, tears forgotten.
  2884. >>>"Yet?" she asks hopefully.
  2885. >"...yet?" gasps Rainbow Dash in shock.
  2886. >You look over at her, and she looks at you like you just promised to her under a starry night that you and her are going to be together forever.
  2887. "...fudge."
  2888. ---
  2889. >Be Rainbow Dash
  2890. >HAH
  2891. >WOW
  2892. >OKAY
  2893. >"YET"
  2898. >YOU MEAN, WHAT?
  2902. >WHY DOES YOUR SNOOT FEEL SO WE-OKay you have a nosebleed again.
  2903. >ohhhh you are so flustered right now
  2904. ---
  2905. >You are Anon again, and you think you have this aaalllll under control.
  2906. >You showed just the right amount of sass towards Spitfire, just like how Caramel taught you.
  2907. >And that means she RESPECTS you now.
  2908. >You helped calm down your most favourite filly and tricked her into believing something that was false, just like a real parent would do.
  2909. >And now it's time for you to retreat home.
  2910. >You've got a movie night to finally get around to - there's a bag of gross horse-chips sitting on top of your fridge, and only one pony you know who wants to eat'em.
  2911. >You're willing to pretend those last few minutes didn't happen.
  2912. >It's time for a redo.
  2913. >And so, you wave over at Spitfire and hope to god she plays along.
  2914. "Thanks for the coffee, Spitfire," you say politely, "I had fun today. Rainbow did too - didn't you, Rainbow?"
  2915. >You turn to Rainbow, and find her staring at you like you just told her that you slapped Princess Luna right on her vagina.
  2916. >Her eyes are wide, her face is red, and there's a little dribble of blood coming out of one of her nostrils.
  2917. >"...uhn?"
  2918. >Yeesh.
  2919. >What's HER deal?
  2920. >You turn back to a non-plussed Spitfire and shrug.
  2921. "Was it something I said?"
  2922. >Behind you, Rainbow Dash whimpers.
  2923. ---
  2924. >>>>"Captain Spitfire!'
  2925. >A stallion in a Wonderbolt costume comes soaring down and lands on the ground.
  2926. >His landing is a bit sloppy - a bit unprofessional, but maybe you're just used to watching Rainbow Dash - and he skids to a stop a few feet in front of the Captain, spraying you and everyone else with dirt.
  2927. >When the cloud clears, a powerfully-built pegasus stallion is standing proudly.
  2928. >He preens under the attention, despite the rough landing, and the lop-sided goggles, and the slightly stained red scarf around his neck.
  2929. >Frankly, he looks proud as heck just to be here.
  2930. >You mean, the uniform's brand-new - no scratches, no rips, and the knees aren't even dirty or grass-stained.
  2931. >The only difference between his outfit and the Wonderbolt outfit (which Rainbow barely needs an excuse to model for you) is that this stallion has a red handkerchief around his neck.
  2932. >It reminds you of the one Applejack used to wear back when you worked on the farm - God knows you saw plenty of it before she-
  2933. >Uh...
  2934. >Nevermind what she did; you don't like to think about it.
  2935. >All you care about is that you get supplied expensive apple-liquor as a hush-up bribe, and that's all there is to it.
  2936. >Back in the present: the uniform covers up most of the stallion's body (and thus, his fur), but you CAN see that he has a dark-blue mane.
  2937. >You wonder what his name i-
  2938. >>"Soarin'!" barks Spitfire, "What is it?!"
  2939. >...oh.
  2940. >The stallion - Soarin', apparently - snaps off a crisp salute.
  2941. >>>>"Ma'am, Private Fire Streak sent me to give you a message!"
  2942. >Spitfire nods solemnly.
  2943. >>"I see. What's the message."
  2944. >Soarin' grins excitedly and does a happy little horsey dance in-place.
  2945. >>>>"Oh, this is so exciting! I don't get to do this sort of thing very often!"
  2946. >He glances around at all of you with a big, earnest smile on his face.
  2947. >His eyes rest on Scootaloo, and he lets out a happy little gasp.
  2948. >>>>"Scootaloo!"
  2949. >He trots over to her, and Scootaloo meets him halfway.
  2950. >Scootaloo's got a smile on her face and looks happy to see him.
  2951. >Not as happy as she looks to see YOU, though.
  2952. >Take that, sudden feelings of horse-jealousy.
  2953. >>>"Hi, Soarin'!" she chirps.
  2954. >When he gets close enough, he leans down and bumps his head against her's; not a nuzzle, though.
  2955. >It's a decidedly different gesture than a muzzle.
  2956. >Maybe it's a casual greeting?
  2957. >You'd say that it was how an adult greets a child that isn't their own, but you've seen Rainbow Dash nuzzle Scootaloo before.
  2958. >And unless she's kept some sort of blood relation between her and Scootaloo a secret from you all these... year, then clearly the gesture is not limited to family.
  2959. >>>>"How's our smallest future Wonderbolt doing? Is your auntie treating you well?"
  2960. >Scootaloo nods excitedly.
  2961. >>>"Uh-huh! Auntie Spitfire's out on a date with Rainbow Dash and Nonny, and I came along!"
  2962. >Soarin' screws up his face into a mock-solemn frown and nods towards Spitfire.
  2963. >>>>"Wow! And you're making sure your aunt doesn't get into trouble?"
  2964. >He does this big, dumb obvious wink, and it suddenly occurs to you that he's doing this all for Scootaloo's benefit.
  2965. >Scootaloo, for her part, giggles and nods her head.
  2966. >>>"I sure am! Daddy says that you're supposed to be nice to stallions, and I'm making sure everypony treats Nonny nicely!"
  2967. >Soarin' head-butts her again, and then pulls back, looking over at you.
  2968. >Spitfire, meanwhile, looks like she's not enjoying this at all.
  2969. >>"Soarin', the message, please."
  2970. >Soarin' ignores her and trots over to you.
  2971. >>>>"What's your name, my dear?"
  2972. "...Anonymous."
  2973. >Soarin' blinks for a few seconds.
  2974. >>>>"...wait. Anonymous?" he says slowly as though solving a complex puzzle, "As in, Nonny?"
  2975. >He suddenly rears up and butts you lightly in the chest; but it doesn't stop you from taking a step back at the unexpected gesture.
  2976. >>>>"Are YOU Nonny? The foalsitter our little mascot can't stop talking about?"
  2977. >Soarin' does another happy little dance in-place.
  2978. >>>>"Ohmygosh ohmygosh oh my GOSH!" he gushes, eyeing you up enviously, "What's your secret?! Sometimes I take care of my cousins and they're just a bunch of little terrors."
  2979. >Soarin' is speaking so quickly and so excitedly that his words are starting to slur together.
  2980. >>>>"You wouldn't think that a seven-year-old pegasus could fly that quickly, but I can hardly keep up! And oh my goodness, I'll be EXHAUSTED after chasing the little rascals down, and I STILL have to make them a nutritious lunch! And I-"
  2981. >He blinks suddenly and cuts himself off.
  2982. >He glances between you, Rainbow Dash, and Spitfire.
  2983. >>>>"Wait a second. You went on a date with Spitfire and Rainbow Dash?" he asks, sounding slightly awed, "YOU?"
  2984. >Ouch.
  2985. "Thanks."
  2986. >You can provide yourself with enough feelings of inadequacy, thank you; you don't need help from an outside source.
  2987. >Soarin's brain must have finally caught up to his motor mouth, because he brings a hoof to his muzzle and looks scandalized.
  2988. >>>>"Oh! OH, no, no, no!" he gushes, looking regretful, "I didn't mean it like that, Anonymous!"
  2989. >The hoof covering his muzzle starts to fan his face, as though he had a case of the vapours.
  2990. >>>>"I just meant... Oh, I-I-I This is just so unexpected!"
  2991. >Finally - thankfully - Spitfire clears her throat loudly, grabbing Soarin's attention.
  2992. >>"What's the message, Soarin'?"
  2993. >Soarin' turns halfway to Spitfire and waves a dismissive hoof at her.
  2994. >>>>"Just a sec, Captain!"
  2995. >Oh, for FUCK'S sake.
  2996. >You just want to go inside your house.
  2997. "Look, Soarin'-"
  2998. >Soarin' ignores you and starts to paw at the red scarf
  2999. >>>>"Do you like the scarf? Spitfire says we're not supposed to alter our uniforms, but I saw this down at miss Rarity's Boutique, and I just HAD to have it. I mean, I cook for my herd, I clean our house; I think I deserve a little treat like this, y'know?"
  3000. >>"Private Soarin'!"
  3001. >He freezes suddenly and cuts himself off, mid-sentence.
  3002. >>>>"Oh!"
  3003. >A blush makes itself known on his cheeks, and he trots back over to her.
  3004. >>>>"S-Sorry, ma'am," he mumbles, abashed, "I got a little bit distracted."
  3005. >Spitfire just rolls her eyes fondly and pats him on the cheek.
  3006. >>"Don't you worry about it, sweetheart," says Spitfire with a laugh, "Now - what's the message?"
  3007. >Soarin' giggles and blushes under the attention, looking up at Spitfire with cow eyes.
  3008. >>>>"Well," he simpers, "You know those three mares who keep causing trouble? Oh, they keep harassing stallions here in Ponyville!"
  3009. >Soarin' fans his face wit his hoof, looking scandalized.
  3010. >>>>"Goodness! They're so brazen! I swear, when they came to me and told me that they could tie a knot in a cherry stem using their-"
  3011. >He suddenly glances at Scootaloo, who smiles and tilts her head in curiosity.
  3012. >Soarin' suddenly clears his throat and blushes.
  3013. >>>>"Th-They're giving stallions some..."
  3014. >He makes eye-contact with you.
  3015. >>>>"...unwanted attention. Misty Fly, High Winds, and Fleetfoot are at it again."
  3016. >Spitfire face-hoofs and groans miserably.
  3017. >>"Sun-dammit," she mutters with frustration, "If I've told them once, I've told them A THOUSAND times."
  3018. >Soarin' seems to shrink in on himself uncomfortably.
  3019. >>>>"Can you please do something about it? They really make me nervous. I don't think I feel safe around them."
  3020. >Spitfire waves a dismissive hoof at him.
  3021. >>"Yeah, sure," she mutters, "Whatever. Ugh..."
  3022. >She forces a smile on her face and nods over at Soarin'.
  3023. >>"Don't you worry your pretty head," she says, patting Soarin' on the head, "I'll take care of those big, mean mares, alright?"
  3024. >Soarin' giggles and playfully swats Spitfire's hoof away.
  3025. >>>>"Oh, alright!" he titters, "I'll go back to base, alright?"
  3026. >Spitfire smiles indulgently at the flustered stallion and swats at his rump; he giggles and trots away.
  3027. >>"You do that, sugardick."
  3028. >Soarin' glances back and you with a big smile on his face.
  3029. >>>>"We'll do lunch, Anonymous! I can't WAIT to tell Thunderlane and Lightning Streak about the good news - congratulations on your herd!"
  3030. "What."
  3031. >Wait, no!
  3032. >No, you're not HERDING dammit!
  3033. "W-Wait! Soarin'!
  3034. >He mistakes your desperate grab for a wave, and he waves right back at you.
  3036. >>>>"Goodbye, Anonymous! It was nice to meet you! Bye-bye, Scootaloo!"
  3037. >Scootaloo waves.
  3038. >>>"BYE, SOARIN'!"
  3039. >And with that, he takes off.
  3040. >God
  3041. >FUCKING
  3042. >Damn it.
  3043. >Why is it that EXACTLY ZERO ponies listen to you when you say something to them?!
  3044. >Ugh...
  3045. >This is why you get drunk every Friday night.
  3046. >You're just lucky that Rainbow Dash matches you drink-for-drink, to make sure you don't drink too much.
  3047. >Ponies have half the liver you do, and you haven't been properly drunk since you arrived here, a solid year or two ago.
  3048. >Spitfire watches Soarin', and then leans over to mutter to Rainbow Dash.
  3049. >Probably doesn't want Scootaloo to hear.
  3050. >>"Welp! Soarin's mares must love how quickly he can move his tongue."
  3051. >Spitfire nods at Rainbow Dash, who is barely holding in her laughter.
  3052. >>"Too bad they gotta put up with him yapping."
  3053. >Rainbow Dash breaks out into a fit of giggles.
  3054. >Spitfire nudges Scootaloo and gestures to her back.
  3055. >>"Hop on, kiddo! I'm gonna take you back to your dad's real quick, and then auntie has to go take care of some bad mares who don't know how to take 'no' for an answer!"
  3056. >...
  3057. >Wait, what?
  3058. >Fucking seriously?
  3059. >SPITFIRE of all mares is getting upset at mares who-
  3060. >No.
  3061. >No!
  3062. >No, this is bullshit.
  3063. >She's the most sexually aggressive mare you've known for a single day, and you-
  3064. >FUCKING
  3065. >You glance down at Rainbow and give her an incredulous gaping-mouth look, but she doesn't return one.
  3066. >She just quirks her head at you, looking adorably confused.
  3067. >Doesn't she realize...
  3068. >Are you ACTUALLY the only one who...
  3069. >Did you just stumble upon some stupid pony society quirk again?
  3070. >Dammit, you thought you stopped doing that.
  3071. >You honestly prefer to believe this, because the alternative is that you're the only SANE INDIVIDUAL here in this GOD-FORSAKEN land.
  3072. >For example: that one time you cuddled with Twilight and then tried the same thing with Applejack was awkward enough as it is - unicorns are bigger cuddlebugs than any other pony race, and you found that out once Big Mac decided that you were a "stallion of the night" and couldn't be convinced otherwise.
  3073. >No, seriously.
  3074. >Granny still thinks you're some sort of pleasure-pony (despite not BEING a pony), and Mac won't let you alone with his youngest sister.
  3075. >Not unless Applejack overrules him - which is something she can do as acting matriarch of the Apple Clan - Heiress Apparent; first in line as head of the Ponyville branch of the Apples once Granny sadly passes away.
  3076. >Okay.
  3077. >LOOK.
  3078. >The point you're trying to MAKE here is that unicorns are cuddle-bugs, and that Earth Ponies are less liberal with their cuddles than unicorns are.
  3079. >If you had to clumsily provide a narrative that described the traditions of each pony race (oh hey it's APA speaking directly to the 4chans because writing is hard), you'd probably say that unicorns were very cuddle-friendly, and that Earth Ponies were somewhat less cuddle-friendly than unicorns were.
  3080. >WHOO
  3081. >WRITING
  3082. >[spoiler]I want to kill myself[/spoiler]
  3083. >>"Hey! 'Non!"
  3084. >You glance up in time to see Scootaloo, only to see her with a purple helmet on her head and a fierce expression on her face.
  3085. >Where the hell did Scootaloo get a helmet?!
  3086. >That wasn't there when you... EVER!
  3088. >Why does NOTHING make any god-damned SENSE around here?!
  3089. >oh god is the existence of this world finally setting in?
  3090. >Are you having that panic attack you've been waiting for?
  3091. >Is this how you die?
  3092. "Where did you ge-?"
  3093. >>"Hey, 'Non!" interrupts Spitfire, waving at you with a wing, "Sorry to cut this short, but duty calls! I'll be back tonight! DINNER-DATE WITH YOU AN' ME!"
  3094. >Wait, what?
  3095. >You never discussed a dinner-date.
  3096. >You would remember; because you would have said 'no'.
  3097. "S-Spitfire?!"
  3098. >>"Keep an eye on 'Non for me, Rainbow Dash!"
  3099. >Rainbow Dash knocks out a textbook salute.
  3100. >"Yes, ma'am!"
  3101. >Yes, ma'am?!
  3102. >Fuck YOU, 'yes ma'am'!
  3103. "What do you MEAN, you'll be ba-?!"
  3104. >Scootaloo waves happily at you.
  3105. >>>"BYE BYE NONNY!"
  3106. "FOR THE LOVE OF GO-!"
  3107. >WHOOOOOSH
  3108. >With a powerful flap of her impressive wingspan (and an enormous guest of air and dust that nearly blinded you), Spitfire launches into the air and rapidly disappears in the direction of Cloudsdale.
  3109. >You run forward a few feet and shout into the air, knowing full well that she can't hear you.
  3111. >...
  3112. >Rainbow pats you on the leg.
  3113. >"She's gone, Anon."
  3114. >You look down at the ground in disappointment.
  3115. "I know," you sigh.
  3116. ---
  3117. >You are Anon, and you're in your living-room.
  3118. >The window is still covered in cardboard - fuck, you STILL have to get the window ponies to fix your shit - and your carpet is still visibly stained.
  3119. >"So, what did you wanna talk about?"
  3120. >Rainbow smiles innocently up at you.
  3121. >"By the way, thanks for what you did back at The Rise And Grind. Most of the mares I know like their coffee black."
  3122. >She frowns and kicks at one of your throw pillows.
  3123. >The ones that Caramel gave you as a house-warming present, but pitches a fit if he doesn't see you using them.
  3124. >You want to make that very clear: you didn't buy these by choice.
  3125. >...even if they do tie the room together rather nicely.
  3126. >"Can you believe that Rarity gave me horseapples after I told he I didn't like mine black? I even lied and said that I liked it with cream, but that just make her laugh!"
  3127. >She huffs and looks away from you.
  3128. >"You'd think that ponies judging each other for stupid stuff like that would be limited to a bunch of shallow stallions, but Celestia forbid I like drinking something sweet."
  3129. >You just shake your head and give her a few ear-scritches.
  3130. >Predictably, she leans into your hand so hard she stumbles towards you.
  3131. >You're fine with this.
  3132. >It was difficult at first, adjusting to ponies being so casually physically affectionate with you.
  3133. >Not just you - with everyone around here.
  3134. >Maybe it was just the part of the world you grew up in, but you generally didn't give any of your friends hugs unless you were already pretty good friends.
  3135. >But here?
  3136. >Brother, casual acquaintances will snuggle up with you if you even THINK of sitting down.
  3137. >You've gotten into the habit of lifting your chin when this happens, because the vast majority of your cuddle-buddies are unicorns.
  3138. >Those horns might look stumpy, but they're still sharp at the tip.
  3139. >[spoiler]You think Twilight mentioned that. Something about how the horn is the magical focus of the unicorn, and so all that channeling keeps the tip sharp. It wears down the tip but... all that magic drawn to it automatically heals it so that it never wears down to the skull? Or something? Either way, unicorns who didn't cast much magic tend to have dull-tipped horns. A little bit of unicorn trivia from Anon.[/spoiler]
  3140. >It still feels awkward with most ponies - which is to say, with ponies you aren't that great friends with.
  3141. >You might have adjusted a bit to the radically different life here in Equestria, but some things are deep-seated.
  3142. >You've never felt uncomfortable doing this with Rainbow Dash, however.
  3143. >Cuddling her feels about as natural as breathing.
  3144. >Case in point:
  3145. >Smiling, you reach up with your other hand and start to stroke her neck and chest.
  3146. >Rainbow Dash closes her eyes and enjoys (in her words, from the last time you did this) "being spoiled"
  3147. "It's not really my personal favourite," you say teasingly, grimacing and trying to ignore the way your stomach churns alarmingly as you recall your nauseating first sip, "But there's nothing wrong with liking your coffee like that."
  3148. >And you mean it.
  3149. >You might think sweet coffee is disgusting, but everyone has their tastes, and Rainbow's allowed to like her coffee differently than you do.
  3150. >Rainbow Dash grins brightly at you.
  3151. >"Y'see? This is why I love hanging out with you, sis!"
  3152. >Rainbow's tail swishes like a happy puppy-dog.
  3153. >"You never judge me 'cuz I like something weird, or because I make dumb jokes, or.... or whatever!"
  3154. "Yeah," you deadpan, "Spitfire seems to think the same thing."
  3155. >This makes Rainbow scrunch up her snoot, and she wriggles a bit more into your side.
  3156. >"Spitfire has a lot of nerve, trying to rope you into a herd."
  3157. >Rainbow aggressively snuggles into your side, shoving her muzzle into your armpit.
  3158. >"I felt so bad after I left you alone with her. She could have... could have TOUCHED YOU and I wouldn't be there to help!"
  3159. "Uh..."
  3160. >You can't really comment on that - you've only known the mare for a few hours - a day or two, at the most. And while she doesn't seem the type of pony who would just straight-up molest you, Rainbow's known her for way longer than you have.
  3161. >...Oh, god.
  3162. >Did you ACTUALLY narrowly avoid some serious stranger-danger?
  3163. >Is Spitfire some sort of molester?!
  3164. >"And then she stayed the night!" she squawks, looking adorably outraged, "Spitfire had the nerve to come in here and SLEEP IN YOUR HOUSE!"
  3165. >Rainbow puffs up her chest, sending her chest-tuft outward.
  3166. >"That's where /I/ sleep!" Rainbow yells, outraged, "ME!"
  3167. >...
  3168. >Or maybe Rainbow Dash is just being weird; you don't know.
  3169. >You decide to pussy out and try to drop the subject on a neutral note.
  3170. >After all, you doubt you'll have much more interaction with Spitfire after today.
  3171. "I dunno how I feel about Spitfire."
  3172. >Rainbow gives you a look that just SCREAMS "are you fucking for real right now?"
  3173. >You just shrug in return.
  3174. "I dunno, Rainbow. Maybe today was just a bad day for her. Or maybe this is how she talks to guys."
  3175. >You poke her in the belly.
  3176. "YOU were pretty hard to get along with back when we first met, too."
  3177. >You still haven't forgotten about that thundercloud prank.
  3178. >The one where you thought you were going to die.
  3179. >It was really funny.
  3180. >[spoiler]It wasn't funny.[/spoiler]
  3181. >Rainbow pouts.
  3182. >"You act like she's your best friend."
  3183. >D'aww.
  3184. >Is Rainbow jealous?
  3185. >You shift over so that you can spin around and face her.
  3186. >You grab Rainbow's muzzle with both hands and turn her to face you.
  3187. "Hey, listen," you tell her seriously, "Spitfire is not my best friend. Spitfire is a mare I met maybe a day ago, and I'm not comfortable making a judgement for her or against her at this point. YOU'RE my best friend. YOU'RE the mare who's been here for me all this time, even way back when I was being a little bitch about living here."
  3188. >Rainbow reaches up with a hoof and rests it on your hand.
  3189. >Her touch is delicate, as though she were afraid of hurting you.
  3190. >"You weren't being a bitch, Anon," she says gently, "You appeared here out of nowhere - of course you'd be upset. I don't know a stallion who wouldn't be sad that he was torn away from his life."
  3191. >She shakes her head sadly; as well as she can with you holding it in your hands, anyway.
  3192. >"You're really brave for dealing with it as well as you did," she says weakly, "Soarin' or Thunderlane would be crying right about now."
  3193. >[spoiler]You sniffle back the tears.[/spoiler]
  3194. >You smile at Rainbow Dash, and she smiles back.
  3195. >You feel like you're sharing a moment together, here on your shitty couch.
  3196. >Here in your living-room, with the stained rug and the broken window.
  3197. >Despite the environment, just being with Rainbow makes it more romantic than it really is.
  3198. "You've stuck with me, through thick and thin. When I pushed everyone away, you pushed back just as hard."
  3199. >You lean in and boop Rainbow's snoot with your nose.
  3200. >Your eyes are closed, and so you don't see the look of shock jolt across her face like an electric shock.
  3201. "You're the Bearer of Loyalty, and it shows. Spitfire isn't my best friend;"
  3202. >You open your eyes and idly stroke her cheek with your thumb.
  3203. "YOU are."
  3204. >You grin at her and pull back, not realizing that the horsey expression on her face translates to "awe, confusion, and arousal".
  3205. >Pony body language and facial expressions are HARD, alright?
  3206. >They've got a whole 'nother set of muscles and a facial structure that doesn't match your own - sometimes, it's hard to tell how they feel.
  3207. "So, c'mon," you say, smiling at Rainbow Dash, "Quit worrying."
  3208. >You grin at her like the bro you are (or is it "sis"?) and let her face go, freeing your hand and allowing you to mock-punch Rainbow on the shoulder.
  3209. >...or WITHER.
  3210. >Whatever.
  3211. "If I ever decide to get a new best friend, and that best friend is Spitfire - you have my explicit permission to beat me up."
  3212. >Rainbow smiles at you and mirrors the gesture
  3213. "I mean, it's not like we're actually gonna herd up together, right? What's the harm in making a new friend?"
  3214. >Rainbow hops up onto your lap with an annoyed expression on her face.
  3215. >She wriggles around until she's comfortable, and then wraps her forelegs around your neck.
  3216. "...well hello to you too, Rainbow," you deadpan, "Were the other seats on my couch reserved?"
  3217. >"Spitfire was just... just flaunting you around out there," she growls, "She thinks we're gonna become a h-herd, and that means she can do whatever she wants to you!"
  3218. >With a grunt, she gently pulls your face into her chest tuft.
  3219. >Once it's there, Rainbow begins to rub your face around in it.
  3220. >"Well, my dad raised me right! And if she thinks I'm gonna just LET YOU walk around unprotected, then she has another thing coming!"
  3221. >Behind your closed lids, you roll your eyes.
  3222. >You're just going to let Rainbow get this out of her system - you learned that it's pointless to fight too hard against ponies being silly, sometimes.
  3223. >Instead, you just wrap your arms around her and start to rub her back like you're petting a cat.
  3224. >Rainbow makes a pleased purring noise from her throat and starts to preen your hair with her teeth.
  3225. >"You're gonna - ngh! - get my scent all over you, and - ngh! - then EVERYPONY will know that - ngh! - you're mine!"
  3226. >Rainbow stops preening you and starts to rub her face all over your hair aggressively, like an affectionate cat.
  3227. >"PLATONICALLY!"
  3228. >You just relax and enjoy this.
  3229. >It's nice.
  3230. >This is nice.
  3231. >You could do this forever.
  3232. >And since Rainbow doesn't seem to be taking the contract very seriously, that little voice in the back of your head telling you that some asshole's going to take her away from you is going silent.
  3233. >"I don't think I have my scent on you yet, Anon," says Rainbow from above you, "Let's sleep together in your bed tonight, alright? I wanna cuddle you real tight and make sure all the mares in town know that you're taken."
  3234. >You feel a kiss being pressed into your mop of hair.
  3235. >"Platonically."
  3236. >You end up not going to bed right away.
  3237. >In fact, you don't go to bed at all.
  3238. >It's still mid-morning, and the coffee in your systems is not going to let you fall asleep that easily.
  3239. >Instead, you've decided that you'll just cuddle on the couch and watch a movie together.
  3240. >That's pretty close to sleeping in bed together, since it also involves not standing up and also being in close proximity to each other.
  3241. >Hell, there's a good chance you'll nod off at some point during the movie, too.
  3242. >Rainbow really has no plans further than that; she's adamant that you get her scent on you, "platonically", by the end of the day.
  3243. >"And if I need to, I'll sleep with you tonight."
  3244. >"..."
  3245. >"I-I mean sleeping in the same bed with you! Darn it!"
  3247. ---
  3249. >The living-room is exactly the way you remember it.
  3250. >You would hope so, anyway, because you never actually left it.
  3251. >The window is still broken, and it's covered by a piece of cardboard with equations sketched onto it in pencil.
  3252. >The carpet is still stained with drink, and it's honestly making the room smell faintly of apples.
  3253. >Not that that's a bad thing, but you're pretty sure that the sugar in the drink will fuck things up for you.
  3254. >As in, you're going to get uninvited guests of the insect variety.
  3255. >Anyway, you can fix that later.
  3256. >You plop down onto your couch and, like a faithful lapdog that doesn't realize it's too big to be a lapdog, Rainbow Dash immediately hops up next to you.
  3257. >She spins around in a circle three times, trampling the cushion with her hooves.
  3258. >Once she gets comfortable, she plops unceremoniously down onto her belly and leans heavily against you.
  3259. >She'll never admit it to a single living soul, but Rainbow Dash is the biggest cuddlebug you know.
  3260. >Especially not since some of her old friends - not Twilight and the gang; some other ponies... Gil-something? - made fun of her for it.
  3261. >Rainbow's usually pretty confident around you, but you guess being called an "unmarely dyke" crosses a line for her.
  3262. >You wrap an arm around Rainbow Dash and rest your hand on her chest, burying your fingers in her chest tuft.
  3263. >Rainbow makes some horsey huffing noises and presses the side of her head against your chest.
  3264. >It's peaceful moments like this, spending time with someone who genuinely cares about you, that make you realize you live for times like these.
  3265. >But something's been on your mind for the last hour or so, and you think it's time to address the elephant in the room.
  3266. "So, what about the contract? Spitfire was going to show me, but it never really came up again."
  3267. >Rainbow rolls her eyes fondly and rubs her face against your chest.
  3268. >"Don't you worry about the contract, foal. I'm an Element-Bearer! If anypony has sway with the Princesses, it's me."
  3269. >She stops to think for a moment, looking sleepily contemplative, and then shrugs.
  3270. >"Well, me and my friends. I bet Fluttershy's talking to Twilight right now."
  3271. >She giggles and snorts into your armpit.
  3272. >"Did you know she hounded Twilight back when the purple egghead first came to town? She wanted to know all about Spike! She knows full well that Spike can send letters to the Princesses."
  3273. "Oh, man, I hadn't even THOUGHT about Fluttershy."
  3274. >You nudge Rainbow in the ribs, making her yelp and swat at your hand.
  3275. "Can you imagine her trying to work up the nerve to ask a stallion out?"
  3276. >Rainbow giggles and boops you on the nose with a hoof.
  3277. >"I'm just we don't have to worry about that."
  3278. >You and Rainbow Dash collapse into comfortable silence.
  3279. >You say "collapse" because this seems to be the state you and Rainbow naturally share when you aren't trying to do anything else - "comfortable" seems to be your default state when you're together.
  3280. >You stare at Rainbow.
  3281. >Rainbow stares back at you.
  3282. >You can see your reflection in her deep, magenta eyes.
  3283. >A reflection you saw every morning in the bathroom mirror; an unhappy face frowning at you.
  3284. >But now, it's smiling.
  3285. >The lines around its eyes are almost gone.
  3286. >There are new red creases around the mouth, like the flesh is unused to a gesture such as smiling and doesn't quite know what to do.
  3287. >This smile - it's an expression that's mirrored in Rainbow Dash's own face.
  3288. >How appropriate that she mirrors you; because she fits you like your reflection fits your mirror.
  3289. >It's a feeling like a hand that has never slipped into a custom-fit glove.
  3290. >Or a head that's never worn a wool hat, but has been exposed to winters for years and years.
  3291. >Or fingers that have never been threaded through another's hand.
  3292. >Boots that have never climbed mountains.
  3293. >A picture frame that has sat blank above the fireplace.
  3294. >You-
  3295. >"H-Heh..."
  3296. >Rainbow blinks and looks away, pulling back from you.
  3297. >You're left feeling oddly blindside.
  3298. "S-So," you mutter, "Do we have to worry about Spitfire?"
  3299. >Rainbow Dash takes a few deep breaths.
  3300. >It's just now that you notice her blush - just now that you realize your face is hot, as though you sat in the sun all day.
  3301. >Rainbow blinks rapidly and leans back - when did she start leaning forward?
  3302. >A few awkward seconds later, she throws on a cocky grin and (lightly) punches you on your shoulder.
  3303. >"Spitfire can suck on my teats," she crows, "We're not gonna form a herd 'cuz this whole contract thing is dumb."
  3304. >She smiles up at you and hops off the couch in search of your movie player.
  3305. >"Now c'mon, let's go watch that movie. Next time we see Spitfire, I'll tell her to buck off the edge of my clit."
  3306. ---
  3307. >It is now several hours later.
  3308. >One movie became two, and then two became the director's commentary.
  3309. >Rainbow seems to have taken permanent residence upon your lap, and you're honestly worried that she's going to be stuck to you when she tries to get up.
  3310. >In fact, checking your tick-tocking wall clock, it's about 4PM
  3311. "Oh my god," you moan, only just now realizing how hungry you are, "Did we really just sit here for nearly six hours?"
  3312. >Rainbow Dash wriggles in your lap, which is not necessarily a Good Thing.
  3313. >"You bet!" she crows, "That was awesome! It's been so long since you an' me had a movie marathon!"
  3314. "Yeah," you return, stomach rumbling slightly, "But normally we get something to eat first. Aren't you starving?"
  3315. >You poke Rainbow Dash in the ribs, and the effect is immediate.
  3316. >She squeaks and squirms away from your hand, and a previously-unseen bag of hay-chips falls from her hoofs and spills its contents onto your floor.
  3317. "My FUCKING rug!"
  3318. >Why is it always the carpet?!
  3319. >"S-Sorry!"
  3320. >Rainbow hops off your lap and frantically begins to clean the chips up with her hooves.
  3321. >Unfortunately, that just smashes the chips into smaller pieces and jams them deeper into your rug.
  3322. >Why.
  3324. >Oh, good.
  3325. >Visitors who can see the pigsty you apparently live in.
  3326. >>"Yoo-hoo! Anonymous!" cries a familiar (and slightly muffled) voice, "Darling, won't you answer the door?"
  3327. >...fucking fine.
  3328. >You get up and walk over to your door, and crack it open.
  3329. >Rarity herself squeezes her face in through the opening, like a cat.
  3330. >Her muzzle makes an appearance, and then the rest of her squished face pokes through.
  3331. >Her ears pop past the tight opening, and she smiles up at you.
  3332. >>"Anonymous, I heard the most AMAZING rumours just this morning, and you simply MUST talk to me about them!"
  3333. >Wow. That sounds like the worst thing in the world to you.
  3334. >>"I heard that a certain hoo-man was spo-"
  3335. "Human."
  3336. >>"-hoo-man was spotted having pie with none other than Captain Spitfire of the Wonderbolts!"
  3337. >Aww, shit.
  3338. >You were right - ponies WERE staring.
  3339. >And where there's staring, there's gossiping.
  3340. >And where there's gossiping, there's Rarity.
  3341. >Rarity taps her chest with a forehoof in mock-outrage.
  3342. >>"Surely this is falsehood! The Anonymous I know would NEVER go gallivanting around soeting implying he's a slut?
  3343. "M-Maybe."
  3344. >>"And what of the sordid rumour that you had coffee earlier this week with Spitfire, but also a certain blue mare?"
  3345. "...Scootaloo was also there."
  3346. >Rarity looks shocked; borderline scandalized.
  3347. >>"G-Goodness, Anonymous!" she yelps, placing a hoof to her chest, "I had no idea you..."
  3348. >She looked left and right, suddenly appearing flustered.
  3349. >If you're not mistaken, you see a tinge of red smatter across her nose like disturbed snow.
  3350. >>"...liked them young."
  3351. >WHAT
  3352. "N-No! No, she was just-fucK!"
  3353. >Rarity nods sagely.
  3354. >>"Yes, Anonymous," she tells you gravely, "I am aware that mares these days seem only interested in sex."
  3355. >No.
  3356. >God...
  3357. >FUCKING dammit.
  3358. >Rainbow backs you up, galloping over so that she can stand between you and Rarity.
  3359. >"NO, Rarity! There's nothing going on between any of us! None of us are forming a herd!"
  3360. "And Scootaloo is NOT a part of this! Fuck's sake, Rarity, she's just a kid!"
  3361. >Rarity titters into her hoof.
  3362. >>"Oh, Anonymous! You're quite the silly stallion - Scootaloo isn't a goat!"
  3363. >...
  3364. "I'm so sick of your shit, Rarity."
  3365. >Rarity presses a hoof to her chest and laughs out loud.
  3366. >>"Anonymous! Such language from a stallion - so uncouth!"
  3367. >You're going to fist her.
  3368. >Meanwhile, Rainbow Dash seems to have taken the imitative, because she dives in front of you.
  3369. >"Rarity," she growls, "Me an' Anon-"
  3370. >>"Anonymous and I," corrects Rarity, interrupting.
  3371. >Rainbow Dash glares at Rarity, not looking particularly impressed.
  3372. >"So, ME and ANON," she stresses rebelliously, "are just friends!"
  3373. >Rarity looks especially unimpressed, and she gives Rainbow Dash a deadpan glare.
  3374. >>"...I can smell you on him through the front door."
  3375. >Rainbow rears up and kicks her front hooves.
  3376. >"PLATONICALLY!"
  3377. >Rarity looks between you two, slowly starting to look amused.
  3378. >>"...Rainbow Dash, you can be so unbelievably dense sometimes."
  3379. >Rarity flicks her eyes towards you, and she gives you an innocent (for once) wink.
  3380. >Not a wink that says "hey bb u want sum fuk"
  3381. >It's a wink that says "just play along".
  3382. >Because if there's one sort of pony body language you're 100% fucking understand, it's "shenanigans are afoot; play along, because it's going to be hilarious."
  3383. >A second later, Rarity smiles seductively at you and takes slow, measured steps in your direction.
  3384. >>"I suppose this means that our resident hoo-man isn't taken then, hmmm?"
  3385. >Rarity rubs against you like a cat.
  3386. >>"My, my... I'd give a spool of my finest exotic cloth just to have you to myself for a night, Anonymous~."
  3387. >Rarity peels herself away from your leg and starts to circle you like a hungry predator.
  3388. >She flags her tail and drags it across your thighs as much as she can.
  3389. >>"It's an equal trade, don't you think? For I simply cannot imagine crafting any clothing that could do your majesty justice."
  3390. >Once she makes a full circle around you, she forcibly presses her cheek against your thigh.
  3391. >>"And even if I could make a set of clothing that would look good on you..."
  3392. >Rarity cranes her neck and deliberately makes eye-contact with you.
  3393. >>"...I do believe that your clothing would look infinatelly better on my bedroom floor."
  3394. >Her eyes dart to your crotch, and then she looks back at your face.
  3395. >Finally - deliberately - she winks.
  3396. >You're about 90% sure that's supposed to be a reference to their pussies.
  3397. >>"I know a lot of ponies think I'm batting for the other team due to my passion for fashion... but would you like me to show you what I can do with a stallion's bat?"
  3398. >Rarity's grin falters for a moment, and her eyes dart towards Rainbow Dash.
  3399. >>"...I said that right, correct?" she asks you in a quiet, unsure whisper, "When a mare devotes herself to the art of fashion... she does not exactly leave a lot of time to spend on neighsball."
  3400. >"Ugh!" growls Rainbow Dash, "I can't believe you! Why are all my friends hitting on Anon?!"
  3401. >Rainbow (chips forgotten) grabs your hand in her mouth and drags you out the door.
  3402. "Where to, Rainbow?"
  3403. >It's honestly easier to go along with this mare when she works up a head of steam like this.
  3404. >Rainbow spits your hand out, and you waste no time rubbing it against your pants to dry it.
  3405. >"Park! I need to fly around and do some tricks so that I can cool down."
  3406. >She glances at you out of the corner of her eye.
  3407. >"...and it would be nice to hear some criticism from you. Ponies in the Wonderbolts are more concerned with flexing their own egos to give a proper response, and the average pony already KNOWS my flying is impressive and they don't say anything more than "that's really good"."
  3408. >You reach down and give Rainbow a shove.
  3409. "Yeah; SOMEONE needs to tell you when you fucking SUCK."
  3410. >A huge grin spreads across her face, and she eagerly shoves you back.
  3411. >"If it means getting some honest feedback from you, Anon, I'll suck all you want!"
  3412. "Yeah!"
  3413. >...wait.
  3414. >Rarity fans her face with a hoof and gapes at Rainbow Dash.
  3415. >>"Goodness me, Darling! Don't you think you're being a little forward?"
  3416. >Rainbow Dash turns and stares at Rarity, a blank look of non-comprehension on her face.
  3417. >"...what do you mean?"
  3418. >She looks between you and Rarity, looking clueless.
  3419. >"Was it something I said? Does 'feedback' means something different up in Canterlot than it does in Cloudsdale?"
  3420. >Rarity stares at you, and you just shrug.
  3421. >>"...don't you worry about it, Rainbow Dash. I'm simply to delicate for such a warm morning - I believe the heat is getting to me. I daresay I will need to sit down and cool off before I walk back to my boutique."
  3422. >Rainbow Dash laughs and rolls her eyes.
  3423. >"Whatever you say, MISTER Rarity."
  3424. >She smacks you on the ass with a wing.
  3425. >"C'mon, Anon - I've got some sucking to do."
  3426. >Jesus.
  3427. "Hey, Rarity?" you shout over your shoulder, "You comin'? I'm leaving-"
  3428. >No shit.
  3429. "-and, uh..."
  3430. >, how do you say "I don't want you alone in my house" without being rude?
  3431. >Luckily, Rarity picks up on your distress and waves a dismissive hoof at you.
  3432. >>"Don't you worry, Anonymous. I'll take my leave in but a moment - I just saw a GHASTLY pile of chips on the carpet, and I feel it's my duty as your houseguest to see to it before I depart."
  3433. "Oh!"
  3434. >Well, that's kind of her!
  3435. "Thank you!"
  3436. >The door closes magically, and Rarity is left alone in your house
  3437. ---
  3438. >>"You see, Rainbow Dash?" she says to nopony in particular, "Was that so hard? I know mares are generally clueless about the ways of love, but this has become quite silly."
  3439. >Rarity peers around your house, smiling to herself.
  3440. >>"In return for my good deed, I do believe I shall help myself to a pair of Anonymous's underwear. Now, where is his hamper...?"
  3441. >And with that, she takes off at a leisurely pace.
  3443. ---
  3445. >You are Anon, and you're at the park.
  3446. >You're lying on your back with your hands resting under your head, and you are watching Rainbow Dash doing some tricks in the sky.
  3447. >>"Hey there, mister."
  3448. >...or at least, you WERE.
  3449. >A white-coloured mare walks into view from above, hovering over your head and peering down at you.
  3450. >>"You're Ninnymouse, right?"
  3451. >Eugh, it's like you're back in school again.
  3452. "That's my name," you reply sarcastically, "Don't wear it out."
  3453. >The mare smiles at you and nods absently.
  3454. >>"Cool, cool, I'm High Winds. Listen, I hear you're rutting the Captain. This true?"
  3455. >Oh, god.
  3456. >Not this again.
  3457. >Did Rarity fucking spread this rumour?
  3458. "Where'd you hear that?"
  3459. >The mare shrugs... or, at least you THINK she did.
  3460. >It's hard enough to tell if a four-legged creature is making the equivalent of a shrugging gesture; it's damn near impossible to figure out if one that's (from your perspective) upside-down is doing the same thing.
  3461. >"I heard it from a couple of 'Bolts."
  3462. >She grins at you.
  3463. >"That's short for 'Wonderbolts'."
  3464. >No shit.
  3465. "Thank you," you deadpan, "I wasn't sure."
  3466. >"Anyway, they heard it from Soarin' - said that he talked to some earth-walker, and she said she saw you having some sort of pie-date with the Captain. So, anyway; you ruttin' her or what?"
  3467. >...fucking Soarin'.
  3468. >What a little bitch.
  3469. >You can't even be mad at Rarity about this - fucking SOARIN' thinks you're enemies now, like this is high-school and shit.
  3470. >Fuck this guy.
  3471. >Anyway, back to the topic at hand.
  3472. "Can't say I am. Now, do you mind?"
  3473. >You point up at Rainbow Dash.
  3474. "Grandma's watching her stories."
  3475. >The mare gives you an upside-down confused look.
  3476. >>"G-Grandma's watching her...?"
  3477. >...
  3478. >Your razor-sharp wit and high-brow humour are lost on these ponies.
  3479. >In lieu of clarification, you give the mare a gentle shove so that she's no longer at risk of drooling on your face.
  3480. >>"Hey!"
  3481. >You watch as Rainbow Dash does the dreaded triple... something something, smash-a-lot.
  3482. >...patent pending.
  3483. >A few moments later, the head appears again.
  3484. >>"That's not very nice, you know," she informs you unhappily, "How will you get a mare if you keep playing hard-to-get?"
  3485. "I'm not playing hard-to-get, you ass. Now can you please excuse me? I'm trying to watch my friend."
  3486. >The mare grumbles, and the head disappears again.
  3487. >>"...slut. Probably licks the captain's clit under her desk."
  3488. >You're left alone for about five or ten minutes, but then the mare comes back.
  3489. >>"...c'mon, I bet you're looking to join a herd."
  3490. "Do I KNOW you?"
  3491. >>"No! But listen, if the Captain's banging you, then there's gotta be somethin' to you."
  3492. "That's the most flattering thing I've ever heard anyone say about me."
  3493. >>"C'mon, I'll make it worth your while. I get to herd up and fulfil this stupid contract, and YOU get to tell all your little stallion friends that you're getting rutted by a Wonderbolt."
  3494. "I can't put into words just how unappealing this entire deal is for me."
  3495. >>"At LEAST admit you're rutting the Captain."
  3496. "I'm fucking NOT. I got coffee with her and another friend yesterday morning, and that's it. We're not fucking, we're not in a herd, and we're no-"
  3497. >>>"Ohhh~ so you're not taken, then?
  3498. >Another distinct female voice interrupts you, and ANOTHER pony head appears over your eyes what the fuck
  3499. >>>"My name is Misty Fly, sweetheart. Remember that name, because you're going to be screaming it into my chest tuft tonight."
  3500. ""
  3501. >>"Nah, it ain't worth it, Misty," says High Winds dismissively, sounding bored, "He ain't even bangin' the Captain."
  3502. >Misty Fly shrugs in only the way that a horse with all four hooves on the ground can.
  3503. >>>"So? All the good pegasus stallions are taken. Heck, all the barely-decent pegasus stallions are taken. I'd much rather herd up with an exotic beauty than risk birthing a foal with no wings."
  3504. >High Winds giggles.
  3505. >>"Yeah! They say 'better a dirt-farmer than a bonehead', but I think I'd rather have nothing. It would be a shame to have to fly over to Las Pegasus or some other pegasus city, but we've got ourselves a third option right in front of us."
  3506. >She winks at you.
  3507. >>"He's even laying cock-up, as if his body was made to be rutted by us."
  3508. >Your dick has never been less hard; you don't know what the opposite of an erection is, you've got that.
  3509. "Why are you saying these things in front of me when you're trying to get into my pants? Did you think these are going to appeal to me?"
  3510. >Misty Fly gently pats your forehead with a hoof.
  3511. >>>"Hush, sweetheart - the mares are talking."
  3512. "This is the worst wooing I've ever been on the business end of."
  3513. >High Winds grins lecherously at you.
  3514. >>"I think that's just because you haven't seen MY 'business end' yet."
  3515. >...that means her va-
  3516. >>"That means my vagina."
  3517. >Dammit.
  3518. "Look, this is hilarious and everything, but I'm busy right now. I'm watching my friend practice her tricks."
  3519. >High Winds looks back up into the sky and starts to track Rainbow Dash with her eyes.
  3520. >It seems she doesn't realize who she's watching just yet.
  3521. >Misty Fly, however, just scoffs.
  3522. >>>"Who the buck are you watching? Some filly fresh out of flight school?"
  3523. >Misty Fly scoffs dismissively and spreads her wings, showing off ever single freshly-preened feather.
  3524. >The light from the sun filters through them, showing that they are free of imperfection.
  3525. >>>"You wanna come with me to see how a REAL Wonderbolt can fly?"
  3526. >Her eyes drag across your body and eventually come to a rest on your crotch.
  3527. >>>"Or maybe you can stay right where you are, and you can help me preen my wings."
  3528. >She leans in closer.
  3529. >>>"And in case you don't know, that means I get to sit in your lap and ride you while I-"
  3530. >You see a flash of light - just a pinprick - and then something bright and multi-coloured comes rushing towards you.
  3531. >Distantly, in the back of your head where you still have the presence of mind to comment on your surroundings, you can't help but feel that your curiosity has been satisfied.
  3532. >'so THIS is what it looks like to see an approaching Sonic Rainboom.'
  3533. >For some reason, you thought all a frontward angle would make all that rainbow light look white, as if being seen from any other angle would behave like a prism.
  3534. >High Winds sighs unhappy as she stares up at the oncoming light.
  3535. >Calmly, resigned, she turns to you and shrugs.
  3536. >>"So THIS is how I die."
  3537. >You just nod your head.
  3538. "Could be worse."
  3539. >You turn back to the rapidly advancing light and faintly wonder to yourself what a point-blank shockwave will feel like.
  3540. "Could die slowly."
  3541. >High Winds make a non-committal noise in her throat, and you can't help but feel a certain kinsmanship with her.
  3542. >You're about to reach out and grab her hoof so that the two of you can topple over the waterfall's edge together - but your Rainbow Dash-induced death never comes.
  3543. >[spoiler]Back behind your computer screen - back where none of this is happening and you're just reading about some bastard's life in Equestria - you can't help but feel slightly disappointed that you continue to live in this pony-less life.[/spoiler]
  3544. >[spoiler]tfw no mare gf[/spoiler]
  3545. >Rainbow stops at the last minute, and the light disperses harmlessly into the air around you.
  3546. >Sunspots temporarily blind you, but the sight that greets you is hilarious]
  3547. >Her wings are flared and her tuft is PUFFY
  3548. >Her snoot is scrunched, and her back is arched.
  3549. >Everything about Rainbow's body language screams that she's fucking ANGRY.
  3550. >Understandably (you mean, you guess? Pony body language is confusing.) this SERIOUSLY spooks both of those ponies
  3551. >One of them panics and BOLTS, neighing loudly in distress and throwing her head back over and over again.
  3552. >High Winds, you think.
  3553. >Or maybe not?
  3554. >You don't know, you've known these horses for all of five seconds.
  3555. >The other one just looks at Rainbow Dash, unimpressed.
  3556. >>"Oh, so it was Rainbow Dash all along."
  3557. >"...hello, Misty Fly."
  3558. >>"It's been a long time. What... fifteen years since Cloudsdale?"
  3559. >"I haven't been counting."
  3560. >Misty grins nastily.
  3561. >>"Did you hear? I made it into the Wonderbolts."
  3562. >"When was that?"
  3563. >>"Just a few days ago. I can't imagine why the Captain didn't tell you."
  3564. >They stare each other down.
  3565. >Misty Fly glares contemptuously at Rainbow Dash.
  3566. >Rainbow Dash, uncharacteristically, stares hatefully at Misty fly.
  3567. >Her wings are flared, her back is arched, and the fur on her withers is standing on end.
  3568. >Rainbow's ears are slapped flat against her skull, and you know juuuuust enough pony body language to know that Rainbow is possibly the most pissed off you've ever seen her.
  3569. >Pissed off enough that you're honestly a little bit nervous right now.
  3570. >Like she's gong to slap you if you make any sudden movement.
  3571. >For a long time (but probably only a few seconds) the two of them stare in heavy silence.
  3572. >The silence, for a lack of a better term, is deafening.
  3573. >It has settled over you like a heavy down comforter, smothering you and making you feel somehow trapped in this open field.
  3574. >Neither mare moves an inch, except for when Misty Fly's ears occasionally twitch
  3575. >An oily smirk slides onto Misty's face, which only makes the nasty expression even more ugly.
  3576. >She nods at Rainbow Dash.
  3577. >>"How're your dad and mom doing?"
  3578. >Brother?
  3579. >Shit goes DOWN.
  3580. >For some reason, this sets Rainbow Dash off.
  3581. >Faster than your eyes can move, Rainbow ROCKETS forward and tackles Misty Fly to the ground.
  3582. "Holy shit!"
  3583. >Rainbow Dash and Misty Fly roll around on the ground.
  3584. >Rainbow's laying blow after blow onto her, but Misty's giving as good as she's got.
  3585. >This is crazy.
  3586. >Do these two mares KNOW each other?!
  3588. >...guess they do.
  3589. >You should probably st-
  3590. >>>"Ow! My snoot!"
  3591. >Misty Fly stops punching and brings her hooves to cradle her muzzle, but Rainbow isn't letting up.
  3592. >Misty Fly just takes the hits and starts to shield her face with her forelegs.
  3593. >Okay, this has gone on for long enough.
  3594. >No longer in shock over your best friend up and beating the absolute SHIT out of some mare, you march over and wait until Misty's on her back and Rainbow is sitting on top of her - you're going to pick up this mare like a fussy toddler.
  3595. >You grab Rainbow under her forelegs and yank her back as hard as you can.
  3596. >Ponies might have speed, and some of them might have magic that lets them fly, but nothing will change that you're twice their weight and three times your size.
  3597. >Fueled by your panic-driven adrenaline, your yanking pulls Rainbow off of Misty Fly as if you lifted a potted plant off of the ground.
  3598. >"LET ME GO!"
  3599. >Rainbow Dash shouts furiously and wriggles in your grasp, headbutting you on your chin as you hold her tightly against your chest.
  3600. "What the fuck are you DOING, Dash?!"
  3601. >Rainbow Dash responds with a wordless shriek and continues to struggle to get out of your bear hug - she slips a little bit, and you have to try and grab her again before she slides right out of your grip.
  3602. >You can now feel the bony protrusion of her wing pressing uncomfortably against your belly.
  3603. "Jesus, Rainbow!"
  3605. >Rainbow tries to spread her wings out and do... something with them, but she can't do that while you're pinning one of them down - you're holding her at a bit of an awkward angle.
  3606. >She just completely lost her mind because, what... some mare asked her how her parents are doing?
  3607. "Calm down!"
  3608. >Who even does that?!
  3609. >This isn't like Rainbow Dash at all.
  3610. >This isn't the tiny horse you know and lo... like in a completely platonic fashion!
  3611. >It's over before it began - what felt like minutes was actually seconds, and you pull Rainbow Dash off of Misty Fly before she can do any more damage than busting her nose.
  3612. >Rainbow goes completely limp in your arms, and you have to cradle her rump just to keep her from completely sliding out of your grip.
  3613. >This is bizarre - she went from the most pissed off you've ever seen her to... completely shutting down.
  3614. >What in the world happened between Rainbow and her parents?
  3615. "Hey, Rainbow?" you say quietly, hoping that only she can hear you, "You okay?"
  3616. >You're fully aware that this is a stupid question and one that has an obvious answer, but you just want to get her talking.
  3617. >People (and ponies) emotionally shutting down isn't good.
  3618. "Buddy, c'mon. Say something to me."
  3619. >Rainbow refuses to respond.
  3620. >You need to get back home - or maybe to that pie place.
  3621. >Or both.
  3622. >Can you actually just get this shit delivered to you?
  3623. >Do ponies have their own version of Skip The Dishes?
  3624. >Because you're in the mood to get your food 30 minutes late and at room temperature, and also missing half of what you even ordered.
  3625. >[spoiler]those skip the dishes people are motherfuckers and I hope everyone who works for them gets fired.[/spoiler]
  3626. >[spoiler]at least pizza places use their own delivery boys so that dissatisfied customers are THEIR fault, not the 3rd party delivery service's fault.[/spoiler]
  3627. >You're pretty sure that Rainbow's going to stay this way until you get ho-"
  3628. >>>"RAINBOW DASH!!"
  3629. >Spitfire's voice rings clear through the open air, despite her being a good hundred meters or so away from you.
  3630. >Rainbow Dash immediately straightens up and starts to wriggle around in your arms
  3631. >"Buck!"
  3632. >With a bump of her rump and a particularly fierce wriggle, Rainbow slides free of your embrace.
  3633. >Welp.
  3634. >That works too.
  3635. >Spitfire just saved you the money a pie costs and the stupidly high cost of getting it delivered to you by some asshole who wants an $8 tip for not spitting on your food.
  3636. >You know who you are.
  3637. >You know who you FUCKING are.
  3638. ---
  3639. >You are Rainbow Dash, and it's about 30-seconds-to-1-minute ago.
  3640. >You are currently being carried like a limp foal in Anon's arms, and you are in BIG trouble.
  3641. >There are no if's, and's, or but's about it.
  3642. >You've worked as a member of the Wonderbolts for long enough that you know the rules.
  3643. >Heck, you've OBSESSED over becoming a Wonderbolt for years - you knew the codes of conduct way before you were ever even allowed to try out.
  3644. >You assaulted a teammate.
  3645. >It doesn't matter if she taunted you by bringing up your parent and their... relationship.
  3646. >It doesn't matter if she told you that she shoved Anon's face in between her legs.
  3647. >It doesn't matter if she told you that apple cider was objectively the worst drink ever.
  3648. >Which is untrue, by the way.
  3649. >It's the BEST drink, and you've clocked mares for saying less.
  3650. >And you'll do it again, darn it!
  3652. >But...
  3653. >The bottom line here is that YOU took the first swing.
  3654. >YOU started the fight, no matter how well deserved it was or how good it felt when you landed a hoof RIGHT on Misty Fly's snootle.
  3655. >You'll be lucky if you're just suspended without pay.
  3656. >Heck, you'll be lucky if you don't get bucked in the flanks.
  3657. >You'll have to thank your lucky stars if Spitfire doesn't have you clean all sorts of things with just a toothbrush.
  3658. >YOUR toothbrush.
  3659. >Very specifically the one you use to brush your teeth.
  3660. >And no, you cannot get a new one.
  3661. >This'll be reported by Captain Spitfire to the Board of Armed Pegasi, and they'll ultimately have to decide your fate.
  3662. >Maybe it WILL just be unpaid suspension.
  3663. >Maybe you'll straight-up be kicked out of the Wonderbolts.
  3664. >Maybe you'll be able to tell your foals all about the four months you were a part of the Wonderbolts before you got kicked out because you attacked a Wonderbolt who was hitting on your closest and nicest and sexiest and kindest friend, Anon.
  3666. >Anon is saying something to you, but you aren't listening; it doesn't matter any more.
  3667. >You achieved your lifelong dreams, and then you threw it all away because some CUNT - some BULLY from your foalhood - brought up a sore spot from your life.
  3668. >You thought you were capable of being the bigger mare, here.
  3669. >You thought that you had put all that humiliation behind you.
  3670. >You thought that your parents being in a monogamous relationship instead of a herd wouldn't bother you any more, but here you are.
  3671. >>>"RAINBOW DASH!"
  3672. >Oh, no.
  3673. >Oh, that was Captain Spitfire.
  3674. >Oh, you can already feel your teats twisting all by themselves in preparation for the chewing-out you're about to get.
  3675. >Hoping to preserve some small measure of dignity, you wriggle and waggle around in Anon's grip until you slide out and land back on your hooves.
  3676. >Your mom - for all the various issues you have with her - always said that a real mare faces her problems with all four hooves on the ground.
  3677. >Or with both wings in the air, depending on the situation.
  3678. >POINT IS, she always told you not to back down from your problems, especially if you're the one that caused them.
  3679. >Your parents only had kind things to say about you - possibly to compensate for the life they knew their relationship was thrusting you into - and that was the nicest way she could say, "I didn't raise a coward".
  3680. >And you're no mare's coward.
  3681. >You keep your head held high and your chest thrust out as you face the cutting block.
  3682. >'So long, Wonderbolts,' you think miserably to yourself, 'it was fun while it lasted.'
  3683. >Spitfire swoops down from the sky, falling too quickly to come to a dead stop - flight magic protecting her or not, she'd break her legs.
  3684. >She angles her flight so that she's now darting horizontally towards your group and hits the ground running, galloping to bleed off her momentum.
  3685. >That's still dangerous - something about flight magic and blood pooling and legs and tripping
  3686. >She must be ROYALLY PISSED if she's willing to pull off a rookie move for the sake of reaching you just a little bit faster.
  3687. >>>"Did I just see what I THOUGHT I saw?! Here I was, following around High Winds to make sure she didn't get a bit too close and personal with another stallion, again."
  3688. >Spitfire rears up and slams her forehooves on the ground for emphasis.
  3689. >>>"AGAIN!"
  3690. >Spitfire growls at you and Anon.
  3691. >>>"But now it looks like I should have been PROTECTING her from her fellow Wonderbolts!
  3692. >You don't say anything.
  3693. >Spitfire saw it all, and there are no excuses for what you did.
  3694. >But Anon - precious, sweet Anon - opens his mouth and does his darndest to prevent the inevitable.
  3695. >>"Spitfire," says Anon, stepping forward, "Please, Rainbow Dash was just defending me. I-"
  3696. >His voice is firm and isn't quivering, but you can see the fear in his eyes.
  3697. >He's a big jane-filly, for sure, but even a jane-filly is still a colt at heart.
  3698. >And if your romcoms have taught you anything, it's that jane-fillies are still delicate under that brash image they uphold, and they still need a big strong rainbow-maned mare to squish bugs and open jars for them.
  3699. >And you're about 90% sure that romcoms are true-to-life.
  3700. >Back outside your thoughts, Spitfire patiently turns to face Anon.
  3701. >>>"Sir." spits out Spitfire firmly, "I am speaking with my Wonderbolts. Please stand back."
  3702. >Anon's mouth is left gaping open.
  3703. >You can tell he's stalling for time - trying to muster up the courage to keep standing up to a big, strong mare like Spitfire.
  3704. >You could almost mistake this trembling stallion in front of you for somepony who simply can't believe that they're hearing what they're hearing.
  3705. >Somepony who thinks that what he heard was horseapples.
  3706. >But you know Anon better than that - you know he's a stallion at heart, and that this must be terrifying for him.
  3707. >>"...Are you ACTUALLY for fucking real right now?"
  3708. >That righteous outrage - found only in especially passionate stallions - is what allows Anon to put on a brave face in front of you.
  3709. >He's already inserted himself into this altercation; he can't back out now.
  3710. >Like a good stallion, he's concerned with taking care of his mare.
  3711. >...P-Platonically!
  3712. >Even if that means doing something that OBVIOUSLY terrifies him.
  3713. >But the Captain isn't letting up.
  3714. >She holds herself stiff and crisp, showing Anon tender mercies that he doesn't even know he's receiving; if he were one of her male recruits, she'd be pulling him aside and gently informing him that this is none of his business - she'd be screaming at him if he were a mare.
  3715. >>>"Sir!" she barks out, "I will be with you in one moment!"
  3716. >Anon lets out a breath - shaky and betraying the fear he feels, standing up to authority like this - and shakes his head.
  3717. >More stalling; he's probably never had to stand up to a mare before in his life.
  3718. >All he's had to do was be the good little colt who does as he's told, but now he's been unfairly shoved into a mare's boots and has to fill them as best he can.
  3719. >This must be terrifying for him.
  3720. >After a few seconds have passed - an eternity for Anon, no doubt - your closest and sexiest friend speaks up again.
  3721. >>"I can't fucking believe this," he laughs, gesturing vaguely at the Captain, "You are so full of it."
  3722. >That's right, Anon.
  3723. >It's okay to back down.
  3724. >It's okay to be afraid.
  3725. >You're only a colt, and you (Rainbow Dash) are so, SO, proud of you for standing up to a powerful mare like Spitfire.
  3726. >These must have been the longest 30 seconds of his life.
  3727. >Pride wells up inside of you like a balloon, and you realize right then and there that you'd be PROUD to have him walking down the street at your side, blue primary feather hanging from his neck or braided into his mane-er... hair!
  3728. >...
  3730. >Spitfire - who remains professional even in the face of speaking to a delicate stallion - does not back down.
  3731. >>>"Do I have to ask you to leave?"
  3732. >Anon crosses his arms defiantly.
  3733. >His straight back and unimpressed face hide the terrified colt you know is deep down inside of Anon.
  3734. >This must be so scary for him, but he's standing up for you anyway.
  3735. >You feel your heart swell with PERFECTLY PLATONIC LOVE AND AFFECTION for your friend.
  3736. >He could have run away or backed down or stayed quiet when Spitfire began eating you outyoumean chewing you out, but he remained and did his best to defend you.
  3737. >This sort of Loyalty isn't something you find in many colts, and you absolutely adore that in Anon.
  3738. >Anon finally huffs and you don't blame him in the slightest for finally letting his coltish fear overtake him; he sighs (shakily) and takes a few steps back.
  3739. >>"...fine."
  3740. >He looks away from Spitfire, and he's near enough to you to hear him mutter something.
  3741. >>" jackass."
  3742. >Woah, hey.
  3743. >Where'd this racism come from?
  3744. >With poor, brave Anon taken care of, Spitfire returns her attention to Misty Fly.
  3745. >She nods stiffly - sternly - at her, and gestures with a wing back in the direction of Headquarters.
  3746. >>>"Back to base, Private Fly."
  3747. >Misty Fly looks surprised, and she glances over at you expectantly.
  3748. >This bitch wanted to be present for when you got booted out of the Wonderbolts!
  3749. >Celestia, you hate this mare SO MUCH.
  3750. >>"C-Captain?"
  3751. >Spitfire continues, ignoring Misty Fly's inquiry.
  3752. >>>"And get your muzzle looked at. I'll deal with this one-"
  3753. >Spitfire glares at you, and you resist the urge to take a step backwards.
  3754. >>>"-and then I'll return to base to speak with you. Once you're done with the nurse, go straight to my office."
  3755. >Misty Fly hesitates, but belts out a crisp salute.
  3756. >The front of her muzzle is covered in blood, and you can't help but wince with regret at the sight.
  3757. >Misty might be a fatherbucker, but you didn't want to actually HURT her.
  3758. >You... you just got so ANGRY when she brought up your parents!
  3759. >You didn't mean to hurt her...
  3760. >Misty Fly sends a final glare you way, but snaps her eyes back to Spitfire.
  3761. >>"Ma'am! Yes, ma'am!"
  3762. >She spreads her wings and takes off.
  3763. >All three of you watch her go waiting for her to leave so that Spitfire can bring down the axe.
  3764. >You find yourself, for the first (and hopefully the last) time in your life, wishing that your former foalhood bully could have stuck around a little bit longer.
  3765. >Maybe that would have delayed the inevitable, and you would be able to truthfully say that you're a Wonderbolt for just a few minutes longer.
  3766. >After what feels like an eternity, Misty Fly has turned into a dot on the horizon.
  3767. >>>"Phew..."
  3768. >Spitfire turns around and gives you a crooked grin.
  3769. >>>"...well, that happened."
  3770. >When she finally turns all the way around to face you, Spitfire doesn't look angry anymore.
  3771. >In fact, she looks decidedly happy to see you.
  3772. >>>"Sorry about that, Rainbow," she says, actually sounding sorry, "But I had to put on that little show for the recruit. Don't worry, you're not in trouble."
  3773. >...
  3774. >You bucking what?
  3775. "I... I'm not?" you ask quietly, almost afraid to believe it.
  3776. >Is it true?
  3777. >Are you still in the Wonderbolts?
  3778. >Have you still achieved your lifelong dream?
  3779. >Spitfire shrugs carelessly.
  3780. >>>"C'mon, Rainbow, we're herd-sisters. I won't let you get away with murder, but I have no problem with looking the other way for something like this."
  3781. >She walks over to you and pokes you in the chest sternly.
  3782. >>>"Just make sure you don't make a habit out of this. A mare like Misty Fly can only fly through so many rough thunderstorms before MY higher-ups start to get suspicious."
  3783. >You're confused, but relieved.
  3784. "Y-You bet! Yes, ma'am!"
  3785. >Spitfire grins and gently elbows you.
  3786. >>>"C'mon, Rainbow Dash - relax. We're herd-sisters, and we gotta look out for each other. Besides-"
  3787. >She winks at you - and unlike how she winks at Anon, it's not that dykey thing where she's implying something about her cooter.
  3788. >>>"-You're way more of a valuable member of the team than Misty Fly is."
  3789. >...oh.
  3790. >Oh!
  3791. >Huh.
  3792. >After a long moment, the smile slips off of Spitfire's face, and she approaches you.
  3793. >A look of concern replaces it.
  3794. >>>"What in the world even happened back there?" she asks quietly, leaning towards you to ensure your privacy, "The Rainbow Dash I know wouldn't assault another mare - let alone a fellow 'Bolt - for nothing. What the heck did she do to you?"
  3795. > really don't want to talk about your mono parents.
  3796. >You don't want to tell her how some stupid taunt made by a dumb foalhood bully got under your skin even though you're in your 20s.
  3797. "I-"
  3798. >>"Woah, woah," interrupts Anon, stepping beside you, "Back it up, buttercup. Rainbow Dash and I agreed - we're not doing this whole 'herd' thi-'
  3799. >ANON
  3800. >ANON NO
  3802. >>"Ouch! Rainbow, what the FUCK?!"
  3805. "Sorry, my hoof slipped."
  3806. >Anon gapes at you incredulously.
  3807. >>"What," he stammers, "By accident?"
  3808. >You nod solemnly.
  3809. >Anon points at you accusingly as he rubs his shin.
  3810. >>"It did not slip, and you fucking know it. Are you trying to spin a story where you were cleaning your hoof and it accidentally went off?"
  3811. "Yeah, that's how my grandmother died."
  3812. >>"You don't even HAVE a grandmother. We all know you spawned into existence when you BURST out of the ground on your way out of Tartarus, you fucking shin-kicker."
  3813. >You roll your eyes at a suspicious-looking spitfire.
  3814. "Heh... c-colts, amirite? Who knows when they'll get hysterical?
  3815. >You and Spitfire share that look that only mares know - it's the one they exchange when their stallion is being a silly colt.
  3816. >Which is almost all the time.
  3817. >Luckily, Spitfire ignores what Anon said - either she doesn't believe him, or she decided that Anon was just hysterical.
  3818. >It happens - they even have dick-sleeves down at the Ponyville Hospital that nurses like Redheart use on hysterical stallions to help calm them down.
  3819. >But back in the present, and you give Spitfire a very serious look.
  3820. ", what; you're just going to look the other way?"
  3821. >Spitfire looks at you like you're stupid.
  3822. >>>"I'm not supposed to, but we're herd-sisters; I can go easy on you if I want to. Don't make a habit out of assaulting co-workers, though - there's only so much I can sweep under the rug before one of the recruits reports me to Princess Celestia herself."
  3823. >Spitfire spreads her wings to take flight, but pauses and looks over her shoulder at you.
  3824. >>>"No, seriously; don't do that again," she says sternly, "I can ignore assault exactly one time, but that doesn't mean this is some kind of game. Herd-sister or not, I won't tolerate this behaviour on my sun-damned team. You're PROFESSIONALS, and you need to act like it."
  3825. >She sighs and looks at you with compassion on her face.
  3826. >>>"I know what it's like to be related to ponies who you're ashamed of or embarrassed by, Rainbow Dash," she says in a quieter voice, "Do you think you're the first pony to get into a hoof-fight because somepony else made fun of them because of their families? My office door is always open if you need to talk."
  3827. >You reel back in shock - she knows about your dad and mom?!
  3828. "H-How did you kn-"
  3829. >Spitfire barks out a laugh.
  3830. >>>"I've got your file in my office, genius."
  3831. >...
  3832. >Oh.
  3833. >She winks at Anon and swishes her tail around.
  3834. >COnsidering the ENORMOUSLY HUGE YOU-STILL-HAVE-YOUR-JOB favour Spitfire just did you, you resist the urge to clock her for flashing Anon her bits.
  3835. >Doesn't mean you won't shove his face back into your tuft later tonight.
  3836. >Platonically, of course.
  3837. >>>"I'll see you in a few hours, handsome. Dinner, right?"
  3838. >Anon does not look impressed.
  3839. >>"I'm going to fist you," he says plainly.
  3840. >This just makes Spitfire grin.
  3841. >>>"Mom'll be so jealous I've got such a kinky colt in my herd."
  3842. >And with that, she's gone.
  3843. >You and Anon stand there in silence as you watch Spitfire fly off.
  3844. >>"...Rainbow Dash?" asks Anon, in that dangerous tone every stallion from every sitcom knows, "I thought we agreed we weren't going to be in a herd."
  3845. "...uhh..."
  3846. >You're sleeping on the couch tonight, aren't you.
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