Rocks out of the Quarry

Feb 11th, 2019
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  1. >Thank Celestia you were able to get away.
  2. >You relish the feeling of the ground beneath you start to change from hard dirt speckled with sharp rocks, to soft patches of grass and flowers.
  3. >You slowly shift from a gallop, to a canter, getting more excited as you put more distance between you and the farm.
  4. >If you have to spend one more minute listening to Lime boss you around, you swear you'll burst.
  5. >She's the most aggressive pony you know.
  6. >Granted, you don't know a whole lot of ponies, but still.
  7. >She acts like you don't know what you're doing; it's not like you don't spend as much time on the farm as she does.
  8. >She'll no doubt fuss at you as soon as you get back, and your parents too, -if they find out- but you're too relieved to be rid of it all to worry about that right now.
  9. >You only wish you could have snuck off to your room or something, but Lime would have found you immediately if you did. So, you ventured out to town.
  10. >It's not very often you get to leave the farm, let alone go into town.
  11. >You usually are the one pa sends, but that isn't nearly as often as you'd like.
  12. >Even if you are useless at talking to ponies, you've always enjoyed watching them. Just something about getting to observe them as they go about their business fascinates you. And that's exactly what you intend to do today.
  14. >You get to the outskirts of town only a short while later.
  15. >As isolated as it may feel on the farm, luckily, you weren't too far from civilization. No pony wanted to haul rocks for miles and miles, after all.
  16. >You stop for a moment to run a hoof through your mane, making sure one of your eyes is covered by it.
  17. >You have long since found the perfect look to make sure you go unnoticed by nearly everypony.
  18. >You keep your eyes down, and your shoulders slumped, trying to stay as small as possible.
  19. >No pony here notices a pony like you walking around.
  20. >From what Pinkie has told you about where she lives, you guess this kind of posture would only attract questions and offers of friendship, which is definitely not what you want.
  21. >Lucky for you, ponies out here are a bit... tougher.
  22. >You make your way deeper into town, where all the shops and markets are.
  23. >You find a bench outside a bakery. The same bench you always sit at. A place where you could see ponies go about their shopping, but hardly any of them came near the bakery.
  24. >The perfect spot.
  25. >You actually went and got a muffin from the bakery once with some bits you had saved up, and after biting into it, you finally understood why everypony gives this place a wide berth.
  26. >You hop up on the bench, and let out a quiet sigh.
  27. >You eye a brown mare carrying a bag of potatoes, then a dark blue stallion talking to his tan friend, then a purple mare struggling to keep her filly from running off.
  28. >A small smile makes it's way on to your face.
  29. >Little fillies and colts have always been your favorite.
  30. >Their hooves are just the cutest things.
  31. >Once, when one of ma's friends came for a visit, she brought her newborn filly with her. After noticing you eyeing the tiny thing, she offered to let you hold her.
  32. >After blushing and stammering for a few seconds, -the way you always do when a stranger speaks to you- she pushed the filly to your chest with a smile.
  33. >Your forehooves quickly shot up to hold the tiny thing, all bundled up in a blanket.
  34. >You instantly fell in love with her.
  35. >Her adorable little yellow mane was so long it nearly covered her eyes, just like yours.
  36. >She stared at you for a few seconds. Your heart quickened as you began to worry she might not like you, and start to cry. But instead, she smiled up at you, and you down at her.
  37. >You've always loved little ones, but never put much consideration into actually having one of your own.
  38. >A lot would have to change for that to happen. For starters, you'd have to leave the farm and actually have to talk to some stallions.
  39. >And that, more than anything else, is something you are simply useless at.
  40. >With every passing day you waste farming rocks, your worry of becoming trapped there grows.
  41. >For what feels like the thousandth time, you consider just hopping the next train and leaving everything behind. Start over, change who you are and pursue something that actually makes you happy. Try and pursue somepony that actually makes you happy.
  42. >But it's a whole easier to daydream about that than really doing it.
  43. >You don't have much of a chance with stallions, even less so, a herd.
  44. >You watch a mare and stallion nuzzling each other as they walk past. Almost as a response to what you're thinking about.
  45. >Your eyes fall to the ground as you wipe at them with a hoof.
  46. >You should have never left Limestone. This kind of thinking can't be healthy for you. You're only making yourself upset.
  47. >While your eyes are pressed shut by you hoof, you hear hoofsteps approach the bakery.
  48. >Rather than open your eyes and risk the chance of making eye contact with whoever it is, you just continue wiping your eyes.
  49. >You wait until you hear the door to the bakery open, then close.
  50. >You chance a glance upwards, and see that the coast is clear.
  51. >You slowly bring your head back up with another quiet sigh.
  52. >You look back towards the way you came, back towards the farm.
  53. >You really should head back, Limestone is already going to be upset with you for leaving, may as well not make things worse by staying away too long.
  54. >You furrow your brow as you suddenly realize something about the hoofsteps you heard.
  55. >They didn't sound at all like a normal ponies hoofsteps. It almost sounded like when Pinkie stands on her hind legs.
  56. >Before you have time to think about it, the door to the bakery opens, and out walks a giant, clothed, ape.
  57. >You let out a squeak of fear when you see it.
  58. >You quickly bury your face in your fore hooves, praying it doesn't notice you.
  59. >Your heart begins to beat faster as you hear it coming towards you.
  60. >Oh Celestia.
  61. >You are going to be eaten alive by that thing.
  62. >You wonder why you can't hear the horrified screams of other ponies as it comes even closer.
  63. >Surely others can see it. How come no pony has called the authorities?
  64. >Your breath hitches as you hear the creature sit down on the bench to your right.
  65. >"Well, this certainly doesn't LOOK like a very delicious muffin."
  66. >It talks. It talks. The ape monster just talked.
  67. >About... muffins?
  68. >"Oh, Ew, That doesn't TASTE like a delicious muffin either," You hear the creature spit as it speaks. "That was a total waste of bits... Say, how come you didn't warn me about this place, huh?"
  69. >It almost sounds like it's making a joke.
  70. >Wait.
  71. >Is it talking to you?
  72. >You slowly, very slowly, shift one of your hooves enough so you can steal a glance at the creature.
  73. >It's looking straight at you.
  74. >You instantly cover your eyes again.
  75. >The creature's face looked all wrong. Its muzzle was flat, its ears on the side of its head instead of the top, and its eyes were tiny.
  76. >And it was smiling.
  77. >Not a "I can't wait to eat your entire family and everything you've ever loved" kind of smile, but a "I just made a really good joke and I'm really proud of it" kind of smile.
  78. >The most noise you manage to get out is another tiny squeak.
  79. >You get a feeling you just blew the smile clear off its face.
  80. >You hear it let out a short moan. It almost sounds sad.
  81. >"I-I didn't mean to frighten you. I guess this is the first time you've seen a human. Well, THE human. The only human around here." Its voice is soft and fragile. Nothing like how you would expect a monster to sound.
  82. >Despite yourself, you feel the pounding in your chest start to slow.
  83. >With the same slow pace as before, you move your hoof so you can look at the... hooman.
  84. >You see its face looking forwards, instead of directed at you. Its eyes are empty of the joy that filled them when you first saw them.
  85. >It looks back at you, and this time you don't look away.
  86. >Its eyes lighten a bit.
  87. >"Hi. I'm Anonymous, the human," it says with a small smile.
  91. >You furrow your brow as you open the door to Marble's room, and don't see any Marble.
  92. >If that damn pony snuck off again, you swear you're going to tell ma and pa.
  93. >You consider going to them right now, but they'll just make a huge fuss that will prevent you from getting work done. "OH Dear! Marble's gone! We have to go find her! She might get into trouble!" all bullshit.
  94. >She'll always be the youngest, so she'll always be babied.
  95. >As much as Marble could be annoying, and lazy around the farm... and horrible at conversation, and absolutely no fun at all-she is totally capable of handling herself, even if she doesn't think so.
  96. >AND, she's your sister.
  97. >That damned mare.
  98. >She's probably run off to town. You can't think of anywhere else she'd go.
  99. >You never understood why she liked going into town. All those loud and obnoxious ponies just riled you up, but she apparently liked all of that; despite the fact you were the only one who she talked to about anything meaningful.
  100. >You nearly decide to just let her be, and finish the days work by yourself; there isn't that much left to do anyway. But there is something to all of ma's worrying. Marble could easily get herself in over her head, be that real danger, or just excessive eye contact.
  101. >You huff, then groan.
  102. >You should go get her, if for no other reason than saving your own skin by claiming you helped, in the event pa finds out Marble ran off.
  103. >You turn around and head back outside, eyeing ma cooking supper, and pa reading a newspaper as you do.
  104. >You start trotting in the direction of town. Thank Celestia it isn't too far away.
  105. >You grumble to yourself about all the catch-up work you and Marble are going to have to do tomorrow if you don't get back soon.
  106. >Ever since Maud and Pinkie left, you and Marble have had a shit load more work to do.
  107. >You tried convincing pa to hire some help, maybe even a stallion, who would actually be built for this kind of work. Plus, having a stallion around would mean you might actually be able to score without having to leave the farm. But pa only said, "There's more work for you two to do, yes, but that doesn't mean we're any richer than we used to be."
  108. >Maud and Pinkie had the right idea getting out early, and now they've both got special-someponies.
  109. >You'd settle for just a fuck-buddy at this point. And you're not particularly picky either.
  110. >You're confident you could have found a colt by now if you were able to spend some down time at the local pub or something.
  111. >Though, Marble might be right about the fact that you'd need to soften up a little if you wanted to draw stallions in for the long term.
  112. >It's not like you mean to be an ass or anything, -most of the time- you just say what you think, without caring too much what others think.
  113. >Ma said you might want to think a little more before you speak, because making ponies angry is no way to deal with a problem.
  114. >Pa said that trait is admirable, and that a young mare needs to be able to say what's on her mind.
  115. >Maud said you're a bitch.
  116. >Either way, you admit you could do with showing a little more happiness.
  117. >Except for that, you'll need to feel a little more happiness, and you're growing increasingly more certain that you won't find it on the farm.
  118. >You understand there is work to be done, work you need to do, but that doesn't mean you want to spend you're entire life here.
  119. >You and Marble have never talked about leaving, it's always been a no-no subject.
  120. >Ma and pa made it very clear that one of you four mares needed to take over the family farm. And with the way things are going, the pressure is all on you and Marble. And despite how much you love your sister, you are NOT going to get stuck here forever.
  122. >You manage to get to town before the sun get's too low.
  123. >Stifle Stone, a shitty place to live by all accounts. But still better than the rock farm.
  124. >If you were going to leave, you'd want to go far far away from this place.
  125. >You're not sure where the best spot to look for Marble is. You really should have thought about how hard it will be to find a single pony in a town this size.
  126. >She could have finally snapped and made her way to the nearest whorsehouse for all you know.
  127. >If that's the case, then you wish her the best of luck, and might end up joining her soon if you have to take on all of the farm's responsibilities from now on.
  128. >You hope that's not the case.
  129. >You decide to start making sure she isn't anywhere on the roads.
  130. >Gotta start somewhere.
  131. >You just better find her quick, or you'll make her wish it'd been pa that found her.
  132. >But luckily, you soon spy her outside of Delicious Delights, the worst bakery ever.
  133. >And she's sitting on a bench with an... ape? You've never seen anything quite like it. Like some weird hairless minotaur, except without horns, and its hooves were way too long.
  134. >You stop in your tracks, fear taking hold of you the moment you first see it.
  135. >You quickly notice Marble isn't in any sort of danger, she actually looks like she's talking to that thing.
  136. >Marble, YOUR Marble, was conversing, with somepony, let alone some unknown creature.
  137. >Despite this extremely shocking sight, you're filled with a sort of pride seeing her like this.
  138. >It's not like she's making consistent eye contact, and the ape seems to be doing most of the talking, but it still counts.
  139. >There's nothing left for you to do but get her home, scold her, then get the scoop.
  143. >You have no idea what you're doing.
  144. >Like, seriously.
  145. >Where are you supposed to go? Who are you supposed to talk to?
  146. >You think Celestia definitely underestimated how bad you said you are at making friends.
  147. >Let alone friends with magical ponies from another world.
  148. >What are you supposed to say? "HI I'm Anonymous and I know you must think I look like some sort of freak and/or monster but I promise I just love you little ponies."
  149. >Holy hell you're fucked.
  150. >What is this? The seventh place they've sent you? The eighth?
  151. >You're not sure.
  152. >Cadance kept assuring you that one of these towns would have something for you, you just have to stay optimistic.
  153. >Easier said than done, especially for the Princess of love.
  154. >You had heard there was a Princess of friendship, why wasn't she the one helping you out? Wasn't it a little preemptive to let the Princess of love tell you what to do?
  155. >But it's not like you're not grateful or anything. You're a weird, towering, unknown creature, but those Princesses shot to the task of finding you a home immediately. And for that, you were eternally in their debt. Or at least would be once you actually found your home.
  156. >But it will take some effort on your part, so you can't give up; not until you find a nice bridge you could live under.
  157. >And so, you found yourself in a bakery, Delicious Delights. It certainly didn't smell delicious in here, but you may as well give it a chance.
  158. >You spent some of the spending money the Princesses allowed you, and bought a muffin.
  159. >You got a curious look from the mare behind the counter.
  160. >Luckily most of the ponies in this little town have heard that a less-awesome minotaur would be staying for awhile. So those looks didn't happen as much as they used to.
  161. >You left the bakery with your muffin, and decided to sit on the bench outside and eat it.
  162. >There was a grey mare sitting to one side, and she, quite frankly, looked terrified.
  163. >She must not have heard about you.
  164. >You consider just finding another bench, but this might be a the perfect chance to talk to someone.
  165. >Nothing breaks the ice like terror.
  166. >You take a seat and examine your muffin.
  167. "Well, this certainly doesn't LOOK like a very delicious muffin."
  168. >That mare promised top quality baked goods, so this better be worth it.
  169. >You bite into it.
  170. >It's awful, like very very awful.
  171. "Oh, Ew, That doesn't TASTE like a delicious muffin either."
  172. >That lying bitch.
  173. "That was a total waste of bits... Say, how come you didn't warn me about this place, huh?"
  174. >Gotta start the conversation somewhere, may as well try to make a joke to lighten the mood.
  175. >You smile down at the mare. She's completely covering her face with her hooves, but slowly starts to move them after you speak.
  176. >She takes one look at you, then covers her face right back up. Then she squeaks.
  177. >Of course.
  178. >Some ponies were quicker to accepting you than others.
  179. "I-I didn't mean to frighten you. I guess this is the first time you've seen a human. Well, THE human. The only human around here."
  180. >Your face falls as you look at the ground.
  181. >This isn't going anywhere good. You may as well just try and find another pony to try and talk to.
  182. >You glance back at the mare, but she's looking at you, and isn't trying to hide again.
  183. >Never mind, this might actually work.
  184. "Hi. I'm Anonymous, the human," you say, the smile returning to you face.
  185. >"I-I'm Marb-ble," she's almost too quiet for you to hear. She doesn't hide her eyes, but she doesn't make eye contact either.
  186. >Shy mare.
  187. "Marble, that's a nice name."
  188. >She blushes.
  189. "So how come you didn't warn me this place sell terrible muffins?" you chuckle a bit, trying to make it clear you're only joking.
  190. >"I-I didn't kn-know it was bad," she's still so quiet.
  191. "Oh, that's fair then..."
  192. >This was harder than it has any right to be.
  193. >Seriously, you have absolutely no idea what your're doing.
  194. >What was that old thing? Girls like it when you talk about yourself?
  195. "Yeup. So I'm a human. I don't know if you've ever seen one before, or, seen ME before. I seem to be the only human around. I know how weird it is to see a strange creature walking around and talking, believe me. Where I'm from ponies don't talk, or have wings, or horns... or build homes..."
  196. >Mhm, friendship obtained, you really nailed that one.
  197. >You idiot.
  198. >You're rambling. You don't even know what you're talking about.
  199. >But not having to look someone in the eye while you're talking does wonders for your confidence.
  200. >You had noticed that while you were talking, Marble slowly lowered her hooves away from her face. Maybe she realized how awkward it looked.
  201. >You look away from her, and see another grey mare coming towards you. This one looked more blueish grey, and a whole lot angrier than Marble.
  202. >Her gaze almost froze you solid. Her lime green eyes had so much determination in them.
  203. >The way she walked just oozed self assurance.
  204. >She was nothing like Marble.
  205. >"Marble? What are you doing?" she said when she got closer. She sounded scornful, like she was Marble's mother or something.
  206. >"Nothing. I was just... talking," Marble spoke to this other pony with so much more confidence than she had with you, "Th-this is Anonymous. He's a h-hooman."
  207. >Not quite.
  208. >"So you ran off to talk to a hooman? Great. You've still got work to do Marble! Come on, we're going home."
  209. >Marble seemed flustered. She quickly glanced between you and the other mare. "Limestone, I w-wanna stay," Marble said softly.
  210. >Oooh. Marble and Limestone, it must be a running theme in for them. They must be related, despite the fact they're total opposites. You wouldn't be surprised if their whole family is named after rocks.
  211. >Marble wants to stay though, so you must have been doing something right.
  212. >Or maybe she just really doesn't want to go with Limestone.
  213. "Is there a problem with me talking to Marble here?"
  214. >If this bashful little mare can stand up to Limestone, then surely you can as well. It might not be your place to get involved in this family business, but you want a friend dammit. And this Limestone was trying to take away the best potential for friendship you've had in a long time.
  215. >But holy hell was Limestone a scary little pony. She really did know the best way to enforce fear just by looking at you.
  216. >Marble gets to her hooves, and you get to your feet.
  217. >This pony doesn't seem so scary now that you're several feet taller than her.
  218. >Limestone looks up at you with a hint of something other than anger in her eyes. Not fear, but definitely not anger.
  219. >"Marble, you can talk to this, hooman, another time, but you still have work to get done. And if pa finds out you ran off he's going to be pissed."
  220. >Marble looks almost defiant for a moment, -well, as defiant as such a shy mare could look- but she drops her head and just says, "Yeah..."
  221. >With that, Limestone turns and trots off.
  222. >Marble doesn't look at you but says, "See ya," she's gone back to using her nearly in audible volume. She then slowly follows Limestone.
  223. >You grimace, "Bye," you say shortly.
  224. >Dammit dammit dammit.
  225. >This better not be the last time you see that mare.
  229. >Here it come's. You're really in trouble this time.
  230. >"What the hell, Marble!? You can't just leave and throw all the work on me like that!"
  231. "I know... I'm sorry."
  232. >There's nothing to do but power through. Limestone will yell at you a little bit, mumble to herself about how useless you are, then go back to being herself-which isn't that different from when she's really angry.
  233. >Thank Celestia she waited until you got out of town to start with you. You don't think you could have handled all the looks ponies would give you if you got yelled at in public.
  234. >"I'm sorry doesn't cut it! What if pa finds out we left, huh? You know how pissed he'll be."
  235. "I know I know."
  236. >Limestone shakes her head in anger, then sighs, "What were you even doing? What was that thing?"
  237. "I told you, a hooman. And I was just... talking with it."
  238. >"Didn't look like you were doing a whole lot of talking."
  239. "I-I was waiting for it to f-finish what it was saying..."
  240. >"Right."
  241. >She doesn't believe you, but you don't blame her. Even you aren't convinced you would have kept the conversation going. But there was something in you that wanted to stay with the hooman and, if not talk to it, listen to it talk to you.
  242. >It had a very nice voice, the kind of voice you could fall asleep to.
  243. >A part of you wants to go back to it; but with the way Lime embarrassed you in front of it, you don't think you'd ever be able to face it again.
  244. >Neither you or Lime say anything fora few minutes, instead walking in silence. You, with your head drooped, almost dragging your hooves in the dirt, and her, head held high and strutting.
  245. >You really did admire her. Even though she acted like a jerk a lot of the time, she was never afraid of anything, and she always looked out for you.
  246. >She deserves better than spending her life on a rock farm. She'd do well out in the real world, but she'd never decide to leave all by herself, not unless given a really good reason.
  247. "Limestone?"
  248. >"What?" she still sounds angry.
  249. "Have you ever thought a-about... um, leaving?"
  250. >She thinks for a moment, "I have," she says carefully.
  251. "And?"
  252. >"And There's no way I could. Ma and pa would be pissed, and sad, plus I'd leave nearly all of the farm work to you."
  253. "But what if you could? Wh-what would you do?"
  254. >"I can't so it doesn't matter."
  255. >You pause for a moment, "What if you could? What if we could?"
  256. >She looks at you, and you keep your eyes glued to the ground.
  257. >"We can't, Marble."
  258. >But, maybe you could.
  259. "Limestone I'm so sick of this place. All we do day in day out is move rocks around a field. And that's become so important to us that you have to come and drag me back if I'm only gone for an hour. I want something else."
  260. >"I would have figured all you want is to lock yourself in your room and live in isolation for the rest of your life."
  261. >That one hurt, because that's exactly what you would do. But that's even more unrealistic than leaving, so leaving is the best option you have, the only option, really.
  262. "I-I didn't ask t-to be l-like this you know!" Your ears start to twitch, and you can't keep your hooves steady, "I'd r-rather be you i-if I could you know. Then I'd finally kn-know what it's like to b-be the one who g-gets to boss ponies around all the time!"
  263. >"Well maybe if you learned to stop being such a quiet bitch all the time then you could! Somepony has to take charge Marble, and it's obviously not going to be you."
  264. >You try to blink the tears out of your eyes, but there's too many. They start slowly dripping down your cheeks. You can see them fall and hit the dirt as you walk.
  265. "W-well maybe i-if you weren't s-such a... such a..."
  266. >The argument stops there. You can't get anymore words out.
  267. >You try your best to keep yourself from sniffling, but you can't.
  268. >Your tears wet the ground even more frequently now. At least maybe with with some moisture, some stupid grass will grow.
  269. >You're able keep pace with Limestone and stop yourself from stopping right there and having a good cry.
  270. >You hear Limestone grumbling something to herself.
  271. >"Marble..."
  272. >You say nothing.
  273. >"You shouldn't say that. You shouldn't wish to be somepony else."
  274. "Yes I should. If I w-wasn't so a-afraid of other p-ponies then m-maybe I could have m-made a friend with that hooman."
  275. >"You were doing fine. It seemed to be enjoying your company."
  276. >You're able to get out a quiet, "Thanks"
  277. >"Fuck me."
  278. >You look up at her, then at where she's looking. You hadn't realized you'd already made it to the farm. Standing in the open doorway to the farm house was pa, and he didn't look happy.
  282. >"I expected better from you, Limestone."
  283. "I went after her! AND I brought her back! What did I do wrong?!"
  284. >"You should have come to me, or your mother. We would have handled it."
  285. "There was nothing TO handle, she just went into town for an hour!"
  286. >"She left the farm, when there was still work to do. You both did."
  287. >You knew you shouldn't have gone after her. Now you'll probably be forced to skip supper for a week.
  288. >Your father looked down at you with sternness in his eyes.
  289. >He had long since learned to ignore the fact that you were raising your voice at him. It happened nearly every time you got in trouble.
  290. >Your mother sat at the kitchen table, watching the interaction. Marble had since been sent to her room.
  291. >"You forwent with your responsibilities to chase your sister around. I would have thought after all this time you would have learned that the farm comes before any of your whims. Now, go to your room."
  292. >You storm past him and head towards your room. Your hoof stomps echoing throughout the house as you do.
  293. >You open the door and slam it behind you as you go into your room.
  294. >Marble was laying on the bed with her head hidden under the pillow. She jumped and squeaked when you came in.
  295. "This is bullshit!" you said in a whisper-shout. If pa heard you use that kind of language then you be fucked for sure, "We're too old for this kind of shit, Marble! For Celestia's sake, we're at the age where we should have moved out already!"
  296. >Marble kept her head under the pillow, but you could sense what she was about to say, "Don't say it. I already told you we can't just leave."
  297. >She shuffled her hind legs awkwardly.
  298. "I mean what was I supposed to do? If I just told him "no" then he could just as easily kick me out, then I'd really be fucked. Plus that would mean you'd have to choose between us, and I don't think you want to do that."
  299. >Marble gave another squeak, this one a bit lower pitch.
  300. "Hmpf, thanks, Marbs, but I'd rather have a roof over our heads. Though I'd really like to know when I can finally get out of here."
  301. >Marble squeaked again.
  302. "Fine! When WE can get out of here. But if we both leave at the same time, we'd really be fucking ma and pa over. I know that doesn't seem as important as it is, but-" you let out a long sigh, "We really can't just leave, Marble, really."
  303. >You hop up on the bed beside her and lay down on your belly.
  304. "Were you really having a good time with that hooman?"
  305. >The pillow shuffled as Marble moved her head underneath it, meaning she nodded.
  306. "Well, with some luck maybe it'll still be there next time you get sent into town. Though pa might just do that himself, all things considered."
  307. >You grab the blanket and pull it over yourself, "May as well get to sleep. I don't think we'll be eating supper, and we have extra work to do in the morning."
  308. >You force your eyes shut and hope sleep will take you.
  309. >A few minutes later, you feel Marble come out from under her pillow and drape the blanket over herself too.
  311. >The next time you open your eyes, it's dark outside.
  312. >You have no idea if you actually slept, or for how long, but you could hear Marble snoring beside you.
  313. >You turn over, trying to get comfortable.
  314. >After only another minute, it becomes clear you aren't going to be getting any sleep right now.
  315. >You moan softly, then slowly got out of bed.
  316. >You stand there for a moment, looking from the window to Marble's sleeping figure on the bed.
  317. >A slight smile is on her face. She must be dreaming.
  318. >You hope she acts stronger in her dreams, strong enough. Strong enough for anything. You know she's strong enough in real life too, she just doesn't.
  319. >You slowly creep to the door and crack it open.
  320. >You peer out into the hallway outside your room, making sure your parents aren't still awake.
  321. >You slowly make your way across the house once you know the coast is clear, your hooves padding softly on the wooden floor as you do.
  322. >You've memorized which floor boards creak.
  323. >You get to the back door and quietly push it open. You slip out into the night, then close the door behind you.
  324. >You let out a heavy breath.
  325. >That was just like clockwork.
  326. >You trot over to the large pit that digs deep into the property.
  327. >You sit yourself down on the edge of it and look up at the stars.
  328. >The moon's out tonight. The moonlight always makes the crystals below glisten the most beautiful hues of pink and purple.
  329. >This is your favorite place to think, and you came out here a lot.
  330. >You occasionally run off to a pub to find a nice stallion for a little while, but that always leaves you wanting.
  331. >There was always something missing from those encounters, and you know exactly what it is.
  332. >Something Maud and Pinkie talked about in the letters they sent you telling you about their special someponies.
  333. >The kind of something you won't find in a hook-up, but for some reason, you still try.
  334. >Something you'll never find on this farm.
  335. >This damned farm.
  336. >Your body slumps to the ground.
  337. >Marble, though.
  338. >Marble might have a chance to make a friend. And you don't care if its a pony, or this creature from another world.
  339. >But before she can even think about going back into town, there's work you need to finish up.
  343. >You have no idea where that mare is.
  344. >Marble.
  345. >Her name is Marble, you haven't forgotten.
  346. >And the other one, Limestone, you haven't forgotten her either.
  347. >Marble was the most progress you've made in making a friend in who knows how long.
  348. >You hoped to be able to report to the princess that you'd made a friend, but she was stolen away.
  349. >You're sitting in the pub, sipping a hard cider.
  350. >The pony behind the bar looks like a ponified version of the stereotypical version of a bartender. And he acted like it too.
  351. >"Why the long face, Anonymous?"
  352. >You've been coming here the past few days, and that was more than enough time for him to learn your name.
  353. >You even tried asking this guy if he wanted to hangout, but the friendliness he shows is strictly business.
  354. "Oh nothing," you say with a sigh. A rather obvious sign that it's not "Nothing"
  355. >He continues cleaning the same glass he has for the past half hour. There wasn't much else for him to do. This place is pretty dead at this time of day.
  356. >"Well that's hogwash and you know it."
  357. >The corner of your mouth turns up in a smile.
  358. >This pony had an infallible air of chattiness about him. The kind of guy you could just talk to for hours.
  359. "It's just... I think I might have actually been close to making a friend yesterday. Or at least I held a conversation with someone."
  360. >"somepony," he corrects you.
  361. "Sorry. Somepony."
  362. >You take a sip of your drink.
  363. "It wasn't even a conversation really, I learned her name, then I rambled for a few seconds, then her sister came and took her away."
  364. >His brow raised slightly when you said "her"
  365. "Shut it, Pour, I'll have none of that," you say quickly, knowing exactly where he was going to take the conversation.
  366. >"All I'll say is, you can a whole lot further than friendship if it's a mare," he says cheekily,
  367. "But it's NOT a friendship. I have no idea where she is, and the odds of finding her again in this town are... tiny. And I'm a giant creature from another world, so I think any thing more than friendship is off the table for me."
  368. >He just purses his lips.
  369. >You take another sip. All the drinks here are made for tiny ponies, meaning they do close to nothing for you.
  370. >"Well where'd you meet her yesterday? If you don't know where else to look, maybe she'll have the same idea to go back to where you saw her last."
  371. "It's not likely. The way she left yesterday made it seem like I won't be seeing her again."
  372. >"What's the alternative? As soon as other ponies start coming in, I'll have to give 'em my attention, so you'll be alone, again."
  373. "Dammit." you finish off you drink in two quick gulps, "Fine. Since I've got nothing else to do, I'll go."
  374. >He smiles as you leave. The cheeky bastard.
  375. >Your eyes take a minute to adjust to the brightness of the evening, coming from the darkly lit pub.
  376. >The sun has nearly set.
  377. >You get back to that shitty bakery in a few minutes and just like you expected, no mare.
  378. >You sit down on the bench out front with a sigh.
  379. >You watch the ponies go about their business, suddenly aware of how boring this is.
  380. >Occasionally one of the ponies will look at you strangely. You try your best to ignore those ponies.
  381. >You do like it when a filly or colt sees you for the first time though.
  382. >They always get excited to see something new for the first time, especially something as strange as you.
  383. >They were never rude about it, just curious.
  384. >Their parents always told them to be polite and not to stare, but they did anyway.
  385. >You liked to make playful scary faces at them when their parents weren't looking.
  386. >But there was no such fun today.
  387. >You looked back up at the bakery.
  388. >Delicious Delights.
  389. >What a stupid name.
  390. >You have no idea how they haven't closed down. Nobody ever comes here.
  391. >"Uhm... hi," her voice is nothing more than a whisper.
  392. >You look back in front of you to see Marble, standing a few feet away, looking very nervous.
  393. >She's shaking so much you expect her to fall over at any second.
  394. "Marble. Hi," your surprised voice trails off, your mind blanks on what else to say.
  395. >half of Marble's face is covered by by her grey mane. The eye that you can see is staring straight at the ground.
  396. >The silence goes on for so long you aren't even sure if you could break it if you tried.
  397. >Marble turns her head to look behind her, and when she turns back, she says, "S-so h-how are you f-finding life i-in Equestria?"
  398. >She plants her rump in the ground and starts to fiddle with her mane.
  399. "Good, it's good. H-how do you like life here?"
  400. >Wow okay this sucks.
  401. >"It's f-fine..."
  402. >Alright, looks like you're going to have to take charge here, or this isn't going anywhere.
  403. "You can sit on the bench. You don't have to sit on the ground."
  404. >She hops up on the bench beside you without a second thought.
  405. >You see her eyes catch something in the in front of you.
  406. >"S-so where do h-hoomans come from?" she says as her eyes fall to the ground again.
  407. "It's actually pronounced, Human," you correct her.
  408. >"Human," she repeats quietly.
  409. "Yup. And we come from Earth. A whole other plant according to the princesses."
  410. >This seems to peak her interest a little, meaning she finally looked you in the eye. "You're f-from another p-planet?"
  411. "Mhm. And for all I know I'm from another dimension too."
  412. >"Wow. H-how'd you g-get here?"
  413. "A portal," you say dismissively, "So that was your sister yesterday, right?"
  414. >Marble's eye look at the same spot she did before before again focusing on the ground.
  415. >"Oh... y-yeah, it was." She seems to think for a moment, "I-I kinda came into town before I f-finished all of my work, so she had t-to come get me," she says, clearly embarrassed.
  416. ""into town"? Where do you live?"
  417. >"On a farm just outside of town. A rock farm."
  418. "Oh that's cool, I've never seen a rock farm before. And hey, don't worry about it. I used to run away all the time back om Earth too."
  419. >"Really?" her ears perk up slightly, "What'd you run from?"
  420. "Well, kinda from.... everything. I didn't really RUN from it, but... I definitely left."
  421. >Marbles ears raise even more, and she hasn't broken eye contact.
  422. "I didn't really feel at home when I was-at home. So I left... I left before I was ready. I managed to find a job and a place to stay. But neither lasted long... What about you though? Why'd you leave the farm?"
  423. >She looks back at the ground, "K-kind of the same r-reason, I guess."
  424. >She stops, but you wait for her to continue.
  425. >"I don't f-feel at home."
  426. "Looks like we have something in common then."
  427. >You smile down at her.
  428. >She glances up at you, then quickly back at the ground, though she can't help but smile a little herself.
  432. >You don't know how you did that.
  433. >You're in a daze, you don't even hear Limestone talking to you.
  434. >You can't even get that stupid smile off your face, or the blush.
  435. >You spent the ENTIRE evening talking with Anonymous.
  436. >You learned so much about him. The fact that he is actually a stallion, for one.
  437. >He was so much easier to talk to than other stallions, mainly because he looked nothing like other stallions.
  438. >You can't stop thinking about it all.
  439. >Everything's racing a million miles an hour in your head.
  440. >You actually, legitimately, really and truly talked to somepony, -who isn't one of your sisters- for hours!
  441. >....
  442. >You made a friend.
  443. >....
  444. >You made a friend.
  445. >It doesn't feel real.
  446. >It almost feels wrong.
  447. >Like you broke some ancient law of the universe, and you liked it.
  448. >"Marble! Seriously, this is getting old real quick," Limestone sounded annoyed.
  449. >You shrink back a little at her tone.
  450. "S-sorry, Lime. I was j-just thinking."
  451. >"Heh, I could tell. You enjoy yourself then?" She asks cheekily.
  452. >You open your mouth to answer her, but can only manage a smile as your cheeks flush again.
  453. >The corner of Limestone's mouth turns up in a smile when she sees you.
  454. >"That's good then."
  455. "Oh Limestone!" You suddenly turn to your sister and throw your hooves around her in an embrace, "Th-thank you so so so much! I n-never would have had the courage to do th-that on my own."
  456. >Limestone shuffles uncomfortably as you hold her, and eventually manages to shrug you off.
  457. >"Relax, Marble. All I did was help you come up with some starters, and watch from behind a building. Besides, if this touchiness lasts with you, I'll start to regret even doing it."
  458. >She almost makes you remember yourself. The last time you were this giddy was when you got your cutie mark, and Limestone kept going on about how weird it was to see you actually showing happiness that time too.
  459. "You w-were up at some ungoddessly h-hour last night making sure all the w-work was done so we could come out here. Th-that's not nothing, Lime."
  460. >Thinking about the farm suddenly made you remember how much you were going to pay for all this.
  461. "D-do y-you think it w-worked?"
  462. >"With what happened yesterday? Nah. They'll notice we were gone even if they had nothing to complain to us about."
  463. "Oh."
  464. >That made your spirits take a dive.
  465. >Once again, you were returning to the farm with the promise of punishment for leaving.
  466. >Every moment longer you spent away from the farm, made it feel more and more like a prison.
  467. >Like some horrible trap you need to get out of quickly, or its grip will get so tight you'll never be able to leave.
  468. >You look at Limestone, and she looks as sullen as you.
  469. "L-limestone?"
  470. >She manages to catch your eye before you can look away, and instantly knows what you're about to say.
  471. >"No, Marble. I already told you, we can't leave. At least not until pa can afford replacements."
  472. "He'll NEVER be able to afford replacements," you mutter to yourself.
  473. >"Not never, but not yet, either."
  474. "It's not even worth going back," you say even quieter.
  475. >"You don't mean that. Where would we go? It's not like we have a lot of bits to get very far either. And the only skills we have are related to rocks."
  476. "Cuz' we haven't tried anything other than rocks."
  477. >"Dammit, Marble. We have a perfectly good life here, there's no need to leave," she sounded like she was saying it through gritted teeth.
  478. >But you don't have a perfectly good life here, all that time with Anonymous has made you more sure of that than ever before. And if the tiny amount of courage you got from that encounter will stay with you until tonight, then maybe you'll be able to do something about it. And if Limestone wants to stay, then you won't stop her, you just have to find a way to get over the fact that you can't bring her.
  482. >You're proud of what you did, there's no doubt about it.
  483. >You helped make Marble happier than she's been in a very long time, which made you happy too, despite how little of it you showed.
  484. >You have an obligation to your little sister, and today you fulfilled that obligation.
  485. >But now, it all feels like it meant nothing.
  486. >One look at her and its obvious her spirit is crushed.
  487. >It might have even been better to just let Marble forget all about that Anonymous. She'll have to now anyway, and now it'll be a whole lot harder.
  488. >She laying on the bed, just like like last time you two got caught leaving; except now, not only does she have her head buried under her pillow, but you can also hear her crying.
  489. >Her entire body is hidden under the blanket, and she's holding your pillow close to her chest.
  490. >You usually yell at her whenever you catch her doing that, -you hate how warm she made it- but right now you feel like she needs it more than you.
  491. >Pa made it very clear that you two would not be allowed to disobey him again, or he'd turn this farm into even more of a prison than it already was.
  492. >He was madder than you'd ever seen him before. You fought with him for hours, trying to make him understand that all you and Marble were doing was talking to somepony.
  493. >You tried to tell him how, as adults, it was your's and Marble's prerogative to go to town if you wanted once all the work was finished.
  494. >He simply told that if you wanted to go town, then you better not come back the next time you do.
  495. >Pa's always been strict, but you've never know him to be so firm about something like he is about you both staying on the farm.
  496. >He kept going on about how one of you will need to take ownership of the farm one day, so there's no point in venturing away from it.
  497. >You wanted to tell him that you had no intentions of staying on this farm for longer than you have to, but you're worried he might actually kick you out if you said that.
  498. >It would have felt good though, and the only thing keeping you sane is thinking about how one day you WILL get to say that to him.
  499. >He sent you both to your room and promised you'd go hungry if you left.
  500. >Marble threw herself on the bed as soon as soon as she could. Trying desperately to block out the world with pillows and blankets.
  501. >You sat on the floor next to the bed, and haven't moved since. The hard wood was starting numb your flank after sitting on it so long.
  502. >You sit and watch Marble's little figure quiver under the covers.
  503. >You've seen her cry more times than you can count, but there's something different this time.
  504. >Instead of crying for some stupid reason like she usually does, this time she actually has something serious to cry about.
  505. >She finally started to make a friend. She finally started to come out of her shell. The future looked so bright for her, and now it's all been ripped away.
  506. >She can't see Anonymous again without giving up everything she's ever known for it. And you would never bet in a million years that she'd do something as drastic as that.
  507. >She's lost that friendship, even if it barely started. It was still something. Something more than she's had before.
  508. >Something more than you'd had before.
  509. >You look at the floor. You can't watch Marble any more.
  510. >You can't see her like that, because that's how you feel.
  511. >You didn't talk to Anonymous.
  512. >You didn't have a chance.
  513. >You didn't have something stolen away from you, because you never even had what little Marble did.
  514. >Marble had a glimpse of something more, but now has to learn not to look at it again.
  515. >You were never even able to open your eyes.
  516. >You slowly lower yourself to the ground and curl up on the floor.
  517. >You listen to the soft, muffled moans from Marble, and swish your tail over your face as you feel your eyes get wet.
  521. >You're wondering the dark streets.
  522. >You don't want to go home just yet.
  523. >That mare...
  524. >She sure was a timid thing, that's for sure.
  525. >You don't know how long you talked, but it wasn't long enough.
  526. >There's something magical that happens when you click with someone like that.
  527. >It's a feeling you haven't felt enough times in your life.
  528. >Though you're thrilled to have finally connected with someone, you do think the location is a bit... lacking.
  529. >You're a fan of small towns and all, but this one doesn't at all feel like home.
  530. >You wish you could have met Marble somewhere else.
  531. >You find yourself back outside Delicious Delights. You stroll over to the bench and take a seat.
  532. >Thank god you came back here and got to see her again.
  533. >Today has lifted your spirits considerably.
  534. >But is it enough?
  535. >Is talking to one mare enough to decide to stick around?
  536. >When Cadance comes asking you if you made any friends here, will you tell her yes? Or will you just let her pluck you up and take you somewhere else?
  537. >With what Marble told you of her home life, it doesn't seem like you two would get to spend a whole lot of time together. And it's not like you'd get to meet new people through her; she didn't have any friends either.
  538. >But that click...
  539. >Against any reasoning you could come up with, you do not want to give up on that click.
  540. >It's not like you've ever had a lot of friends anyway. You think you could be happy with just her.
  541. >You sigh and look at the sky.
  542. >You still marvel over how many more stars there are compared to Earth.
  543. >The night sky in Equestria is one of it's most beautiful aspects.
  544. >You know Princess Luna designs and curates the night.
  545. >You always wanted to meet her, but sadly never got the chance.
  546. >You wonder if Marble appreciates the sky as much as you do.
  547. >People don't know what they have until it's gone, is it the same for ponies?
  548. >Would Marble notice the difference if she was taken from her world and put into yours? And if she could be brought back, would she have a new perspective on it?
  549. >You're certain that if you were taken back to your world, you'd miss this sky.
  550. >You think you'd miss Marble too.
  551. >You'd miss a handful of things about Equestria, but does that mean it's worth staying?
  552. >If you left the same way you came, would you be brought back home?
  553. >Was this all just in your head?
  554. >You tried to find a new life here.
  555. >You tried to start over and leave everything else behind you, but you couldn't run forever.
  556. >You feel it all starting to catch up.
  557. >Does that mean it's time to leave this little town?
  558. >Is it time to start running again?
  559. >Maybe you could get so far away from everything it would never catch you.
  560. >But how do you run from yourself.
  561. >You ran plenty back on Earth, but it caught you, and took you.
  562. >Maybe you'd be better off if you save your energy and just accept it.
  563. >"Hi."
  564. >Your head snaps back down to see Marble standing in front of you.
  565. >Your hand jumps up to wipe at you eyes and you instinctively stand up.
  566. "Oh hey Marble, what's up?" you say, trying to sound casual.
  567. >"Uhm... I-I'm just on my way s-somewhere," she sounds nervous, like even talking to you might get her in trouble.
  568. >She looks awful, her eyes are red and puffy. She's obviously been crying.
  569. >Her mane is ruffled and is a total mess, though she still manages to hide behind it.
  570. >You notice two saddle bags hanging off her back.
  571. "Is something wrong, Marble?"
  572. >You realize how strange it is to see her out so late, and in this state nonetheless.
  573. >She starts to absentmindedly paw at the ground with her front hoof.
  574. >"N-no, n-nothing's wrong, I-I just have t-to do s-something."
  575. >She's stuttering more than she was earlier today, and her voice is quieter.
  576. >She starts casually walking down the street, and you follow.
  577. "What are you doing out this late?"
  578. >Your worry is starting to grow for this mare.
  579. >She hesitates for a moment, then says, "A-anonymous? Remember h-how you t-told me you used to r-run away a lot?"
  580. "I do," you say cautiously. Starting to get why she brought those saddle bags.
  581. >"And that y-you said you r-ran away because you d-didn't feel at home?"
  582. "Yes."
  583. >"A-and that I-I said I d-don't feel at h-home too?" she sounds embarrassed.
  584. "Marble, are you sure this is what you want to do?"
  585. >You start to take notice of where you've been walking, the train station.
  586. >"...I-I can't stay here Anonymous," her voice is croaky and rough, she sounds close to tears.
  587. >She diligently keeps her eyes pointed straight ahead of her.
  588. >Any words you could say to try and keep her from leaving would sound horribly disingenuous coming from you, because leaving is exactly what you'd do, and have done.
  589. >"There-s a m-midnight train that leaves... I-I'm not sure where it g-goes..."
  590. >You don't respond to that.
  591. >You honestly have no idea how what you're supposed to do in this situation.
  592. >Do you encourage her? Try your best to get her to go home?
  593. >After a few moments of silence, you both get to the tiny station.
  594. >It was nothing more than a concrete platform with a little roof.
  595. >The place is dead empty, and dimly lit.
  596. "Marble? Why'd you go to the bakery?"
  597. >She sits on the cold concrete and wipes her nose with a hoof
  598. >"I... was hoping... I wanted to know if..." she's so quiet, more quiet than you've heard her from her before. Every word sounds like it could be her last.
  599. >You know what she's about to ask, and you have no answer for her when she finally manages to get it out.
  600. >You hear the distant chugging of a train.
  601. >Marble's still struggling to say something.
  602. >You wish you could save her and just give her the answer she wants, but you can't.
  603. >You aren't certain the continuing to run is what you want to do.
  604. >You aren't certain of anything.
  605. >The train gets closer and closer, louder and louder. And Marble still hasn't said anything. Her eyes are still avoiding yours.
  606. >You feel a pounding in your chest as the train slows to a stop in front of you.
  607. >A conductor opens the doors to a passenger car.
  608. >"Oh, looks like we're actually going to have some riders tonight. Say, aren't you the human-" he seems to notice the look on yours and Marble's face and thankfully shuts up.
  609. >Marble just stands up steps on to the train.
  610. >She turns around once she's on, and looks at you.
  611. >You look back at her.
  612. >She doesn't have to say what she wants, her eyes tell you exactly what it is.
  613. >Her purple eyes are so intense. They glimmer slightly in the light of the train. They're trying so hard to coax you inside. They want you to run. They want you to leave.
  614. >They need you to go with them, to go with her.
  615. >And maybe, just maybe, it'll be different if you have someone to run away with.
  616. >You take a step toward her, then another, then another.
  617. >Before you have another chance to think about it, you're on the train, standing in front of Marble.
  618. >She finally breaks eye contact, but you see a tiny smile on her lips.
  619. >"Marble Pie!"
  620. >You quickly turn around to see Limestone galloping straight for the train.
  621. >She closes the distance and leaps on to the train.
  622. >"You're not abandoning that place without me," she says through heavy breath.
  626. >Oh Celestia.
  627. >Nothing can save you now.
  628. >"Marble," Limestone says shortly.
  629. >You scrunch your eyes and try your best to cover your entire face with your mane.
  630. >"What the hell, Marble?" she still isn't yelling, which is only scaring you even more.
  631. "I-I j-just wanted to-"
  632. >"To what?" she cut you off, her voice slowly growing in volume, "To leave ma and pa and ditch out on the farm? To leave me to deal with all the work AND deal with ma and pa? To run off with Anonymous to who knows where?!"
  633. >Now she was yelling.
  634. >Anonymous tried his best to look polite like he wasn't listening, and at the mention of his name he nervously rubbed the back of his neck with a hoof.
  635. >The conductor still needed to collect bits from each of you, but he too tried his best to ignore the interaction between Limestone and you.
  636. >"What in Equestria lead you to sneak off in the middle of the night and catch a train?! Never in a million years would I expect something like this from you, Marble! And now we can probably never go home, so with that being off the table, where is it you plan on going?"
  637. >You try your best to get some sort of response out, "I was th-thinking maybe we could go to Ponyville and see P-Pinkie and Maud."
  638. >Limestone put a hoof to her face, "And how do you plan on getting there? There's no way you have enough bits saved up for that long of a trip."
  639. >At that, the conductor's ears perked up, but he continued to be patient and let the discussion finish.
  640. "W-well we can make some bits along the way. Why d-did you come anyway?"
  641. >She sighs, "I wasn't going to let you run off without me. And it looks like you managed to drag Anonymous into this as well."
  642. >Limestone glances at Anonymous, who cautiously waves at her.
  643. >She stares for a moment, you start to worry she's going to break his neck or something. Then she throws her head back and starts to laugh.
  644. >You meet Anonymous' eyes for a second. His eyes are full of confused apprehension. He seems to think Limestone has cracked and he has mere moments to live.
  645. >He decides the best course of action is to nervously join her in laughter.
  646. >The conductor notices the look in Anonymous' eyes as well, and makes the same decision as him.
  647. >You just sit down on the warm floor, and smile.
  648. >Limestone eventually stops laughing and playfully punches your shoulder.
  649. >You squeak and start to rub it.
  650. >"Well dammit, Marble. I guess we've never been on an adventure, so this is, at the very least, going to be exciting."
  651. >Anonymous and the conductor let out relieved sighs.
  652. >Limestone turns to Anonymous, "And I guess it's better to have three rather than two. And as long as you can put those big arms of your's to use, we shouldn't have a problem finding work."
  653. >"More use than a little pony can manage, I'm sure," he says with a smile.
  654. >For just recently fearing for his life, he shot came back with a quip pretty fast.
  655. >You see the corner of Limestone's mouth turn up slightly in a smile.
  656. >He likes him too, thank Celestia.
  657. >Finally deciding it's safe, the conductor cuts in, "If you three wouldn't mind..."
  658. >He pushes a small tin towards you.
  659. >You turn your head and start to pull out enough bits for Limestone and you.
  660. >Anonymous reaches into his pocket and produces his own bits, thank Celestia.
  661. >You give Limestone the bits, so you don't have to give them to the conductor.
  662. >She rolls her eyes as she drops them in the tin.
  663. >The conductor thanks you, then quickly shuffles his way to a different car.
  664. >"Fuck..." Limestone says through a heavy yawn, "I'm gonna find somewhere to lie down. You two better get to sleep as well."
  665. >As Limestone walks pass you, she leans in close and says, "Don't go thinking you're off the hook. If we all starve, it's on you."
  666. >A chill runs down your spine as Limestone lies down in one of the corner booths, blocked from view.
  667. >She's right.
  668. >You're the reason you three are on this train.
  669. >Anonymous walks over to a booth and takes a seat in it. The bench is so small for him his knees and above his tummy.
  670. >Without even thinking about it, you follow and take a seat across from him.
  671. >You keep your eyes focused on the scenery outside the window while you feel his focused on you.
  672. >You both shift slightly as train starts moving.
  673. >It lets out a whistle as it picks up speed, and enough, you're on your way.
  674. >"So..." Anonymous says, hoping to start a conversation.
  675. "Thanks," you say quietly, still looking out the window, "F-for coming, I mean."
  676. >"Don't worry about it. Limestone had the right idea, I've never been on an adventure either, at least not one quite like this."
  677. >He chuckles to himself, "I'm running away from home, with a girl; my teenager self would be proud."
  678. >He manages to coax a small giggle out of you.
  679. >It felt good, really good.
  680. >You look at Anonymous, a smile still on your face,
  681. >His eyes are so small compared to yours, but they seemed to be filled with so much more.
  682. >Even with a grin on his face, you can see the hint of something else in his eyes.
  683. >You're suddenly overcome with the need to discover every little secret inside of those eyes.
  684. >You look back at the window, studying your own eyes in the reflection.
  685. >They're full of unknowns too, just as many as Anonymous'.
  686. >"I think you did the right thing," he voice is softer than usual.
  687. >You wonder if he's trying to reassure himself, or you.
  688. "Thank's, Anonymous. A-as much as I'm w-worried about all of this, I'm so glad to finally be away from h-home."
  689. >"Don't think of it as running, trust me, think of it as... moving forward."
  690. >He's using that silky tone of his. The one you wish you could fall asleep to every night.
  691. >You wonder if Anonymous likes bedtime stories.
  692. "It's n-not th-that easy," your voice is croaky, on the edge of shattering.
  693. >You lay your down on the soft cushion and curl up, hiding you face behind your tail.
  694. "E-everything I-I've ever known is b-back there. And I left. And b-brought L-Lime with me."
  695. >You feel the cushion under you change as Anonymous sits on your side of the booth.
  696. >You feel as his warm hands start to slowly rub your back.
  697. >You don't think about how this is the first time a stallion has touched you, or if Limestone would approve or not, you're too far gone for any of that.
  698. >All you can think about is how nice it feels to have him pet you.
  699. "You didn't leave everything you know behind. You've still got us, and we're not going anywhere."
  700. >Your mind is too foggy to consider if he meant "us" as in him and Limestone, or as in him and you.
  701. >Either way, it's the final push to tears.
  705. >You open your eyes to see sunlight pouring in through the train window.
  706. >You groggily lift your head and try to blink the tiredness out of your eyes.
  707. >You hop off the bench you were sleeping on and rub at the beck of your neck.
  708. >These damn train seats aren't the most comfortable place to sleep.
  709. >Though you did enjoy not having to share a bed with Marble for once.
  710. >You look out the window at all the trees and fields going by.
  711. >You've only ridden a train a few times in your life, and each time you were as unimpressed as you are right now.
  712. >It's more boring than fun, and you just want to hurry up and get to wherever the hell you're going.
  713. >Marble said something about going to Ponyville, which isn't such a bad idea.
  714. >You quietly stroll down the train car, trying to see if Marble and Anonymous are awake yet.
  715. >You find them both in the same booth, on the same bench, snuggling... kind of.
  716. >Marble's curled up, on the cushion, snoring softly. Anonymous looks like he must have fallen over in the night. He's sitting on the bench, his body laying on top of your sister.
  717. >You start to bite your lip as watch them sleep.
  718. >This sure is an interesting development for them two.
  719. >You wonder who will be more embarrassed when they wake up and see how they slept with each other.
  720. >Unless of course this was one purpose.
  721. >If that's the case, then good on Marble for getting him within like a day.
  722. >She does look like she's sleeping especially peacefully.
  723. >It must be awful warm underneath a stallion like him.
  724. >You yourself suddenly notice how cold it is on this train car.
  725. >You see Marble's eyes start to blink open.
  726. >They look at you, then shrink to the size of needles as she feels Anonymous on top of her.
  727. >Her breath quickens and you see her start to shake.
  728. >Phew, then this was NOT on purpose.
  729. >Marble looks back to you, silently asking for help.
  730. >You smirk at her, then nod you head at Anonymous while raising an eyebrow.
  731. >Marble looks like she's about to hyperventilate.
  732. >She slowly starts squirm her body, trying to get out from underneath the giant human.
  733. >Thankfully,-for you- this tiny amount of movement is enough to wake Anonymous.
  734. >As soon as Marble feels him start to move, she shoots out from under him and launches herself to the opposite bench. She sits upright on it, frantically trying to look like she's just casually running her hooves through her mane.
  735. >Anonymous fails to sit up before his support ditches him, so he fails over on the seat and hits the top of his head on the metal train wall.
  736. >"Ow! Shit-" he exclaims, rubbing the part of his head that he hit.
  737. >You fail to keep your amusement to yourself and burst into laughter.
  738. >Marble and Anonymous both look at you, annoyed.
  739. "So where the hell are we going, Marble?" you say after finishing with your fun.
  740. >Marble looks at the ground, and starts to more furiously run her hooves through her mane.
  741. >Your eyes narrow, "Great, so we don't even know where we're going."
  742. >"I didn't exactly have time to look at the schedule."
  743. "We just better have enough bits to get to Ponyville from wherever the hell it is we're going."
  744. >Marble grabs her saddle bags from the floor and opens them up to look inside.
  745. >She glances at you with a disheartened look in her eyes.
  746. "Shit," you mutter.
  747. >You look at Anonymous with a hopeful expression.
  748. >He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a small handful of bits. Not nearly enough.
  749. "Shit."
  750. >You notice a look flash across Anonymous' face. He almost looks resigned about something.
  751. >"W-we can f-find work..." Marble says feebly.
  752. "We better, or we're fucked."
  753. >Marble shy's away from the look you give her.
  754. >She turns away and goes to look out the window.
  755. "Say, Anonymous, you got a special talent? One that will come in useful hopefully?"
  756. >He shakes his head, "Nope, nothing but a blank ass beneath these pants, sadly."
  757. "Is there any particular reason you where those things anyway? Along with the, you know, socks."
  758. >You notice Marble squeak at the last word. Her face takes on a slight tinge of red.
  759. "Do all the human's from where you're from where them? Even the mares?" you put on the most innocent sounding voice you can manage.
  760. >Marble's face looses any hint of grey, and is taken over completely by a bright blush.
  761. >You know she knows that you've seen what she has in her dresser.
  762. >And now it's time for the finisher.
  763. "Do human stallions like it when mares where socks?"
  764. >Marble falls to the floor, with a high pitch groan.
  765. >Anonymous looks between you and Marble, confused.
  766. >"Uh, humans where clothes to cover our selves," You notice his eyes slightly widen as he seems to notice what game you're playing.
  767. >Then, surprisingly, they take on a devilish glint to them.
  768. >"Look, Limestone, I'm flattered that you're trying to find the best way to seduce me, but-"
  769. "Me? Seduce you? Ha! I'm just trying to understand more about human culture, in case there's anything useful that another pony might find interesting."
  770. >You ignore Marble new round of squeaking.
  771. >"Oh? ANOTHER pony huh? I think you're just ashamed that you like to dress up when no one is looking, and were hoping you might be able to put those skills to use on me."
  772. >This fucking stallion.
  773. >You take a step closer to Anonymous, looking up at him with a smug smile.
  774. >He copies you.
  775. "You wish," you say shortly.
  776. >You see can see his mind working for a comeback, but before he can say anything, you both look at the door as you hear it open.
  777. >The conductor peaks his head in from another car and says, "We'll be arriving at Los Pegasus in one hour."
  778. >You forget about Anonymous and turn to Marble, "Los Pegasus?! Ponyville is north, not west!"
  779. >Marble looks up at you, "I didn't exactly have time to check the schedule," she repeats bitterly, clearly not enjoy the game you played.
  780. >You let out a deep sigh.
  781. "Some socks might actually come in handy in a place like that, if we can't find any other work to do," you say, half kidding.
  785. >The three of you get off the train as new passengers all pile in.
  786. >You all stand on the platform, looking up at the clouds above.
  787. "How'd they get a whole city up there?"
  788. >"Well they built it over time dumb ass"
  789. >You give Limestone a look, she grins in return.
  790. >There was a hot air balloon about half a mile away that took arriving ponies up.
  791. >Thankfully, it looked big enough for you.
  792. "Well then, lets get going."
  793. >You all walk to the balloon, talk to the nice pony who operated it, and begin a ride up to the city.
  794. >As soon as you came up from beneath the clouds and got to see the city, you began to think about how unsafe a foundation material clouds are.
  795. >For all you know, as soon as you step foot off the balloon, all the magic of this place will just give out and everypony will horribly fall to their death.
  796. >The balloon shortly docked at a landing point, and its doors opened up for you.
  797. >You hesitantly put a foot on the path way leading into the city, the way you'd you test water with your toes.
  798. >Limestone sees you and roles her eyes, "Where's the nearest post office?" she asks the balloon pony.
  799. >He points to a smaller build not too far down the road, "Just right there ma'am," he says cheerfully.
  800. >Limestone set off without another word, you and Marble close behind her.
  801. >The entire time, you can't shake the worry that at any moment you're just going to slip through and fall back to the ground.
  802. >You wish you had wings.
  803. >You wonder if they sell parachutes here.
  804. >Thankfully, you get to the post office in no time at all.
  805. >"You two can wait out here, I'll go in and send the letter to Pinkie." Limestone says as she walks inside the post office.
  806. >You and Marble both sit down on a bench out front. Marble takes off her saddle bags and sets them next to her.
  807. >Marble's giggling to herself while you sit, trying to hide her smile with a hoof.
  808. "And what is it you find so funny, huh?"
  809. >She doesn't respond or even look at you, only giggling even more at the crack in your voice.
  810. "I just a little nervous of walking on c-clouds, okay? This shit isn't exactly a building material where I come from."
  811. >"I'm sorry Anonymous, it's just-your face!" she cant keep herself together, she bursts out in a fit of snorts and gasps.
  812. >She falls on her side, resting on her bags, and clutching her stomach.
  813. >Other ponies start to take notice, but Marble doesn't seem to notice them.
  814. >The stress must really be getting to her.
  815. >"A-anonym-mous!" she croaks, "Your f-face!"
  816. >You feel your cheeks warm up.
  817. "That's it, you've lost it. All the pressure has finally caught up to you and you've snapped. The only hope left for you is for me and Limestone to check you into a mental health institute and hope you can live a happy life there," you monologue to keep your mind focused on something other than the clouds, as much as to get back at Marble.
  818. >She's still laughing though.
  819. >You actually start to question if she really did snap until she finally calms down.
  820. >"Oh, I'm s-sorry Anonymous, I j-just couldn't h-help it," she isn't as loud as she was, but at least she isn't whispering.
  821. >A small smile grows on your own face, "No no, it's all fine. I'm just wondering if they sell socks in my size here."
  822. >Marble's face turns redder than yours.
  823. >"Shut up!" she whisper shouts without a second thought. She sees your own little chuckles, "You're an idiot."
  824. >You and Marble both stand up when Limestone comes out of the post office.
  825. "Well?"
  826. >"I told her we left home, that we're stuck in Los Pegasus without much money, asking her to give us a hoof. Now all we have to do is wait."
  827. >"How l-long will the letter take to get to P-Ponyville?"
  828. >"No idea, with any luck it shouldn't be more than a week at most."
  829. >"A week!?"
  830. >"At most, with luck."
  831. >Marble's face falls.
  832. >She clearly doesn't have enough bits to stay anywhere for a week.
  833. >Limestone sighs, "You got anything to eat in those bags of yours?"
  834. >"Some apples," marble mutter as she turns to get them.
  835. >She freezes as she looks at the empty bench.
  836. "Marble?"
  837. >"I-it's g-g-gone..."
  838. >"Somepony stole the only shit we had?!"
  839. >Marble nods weekly.
  840. >"Well fuck us, then. Now we REALLY might need those socks."
  844. >"Well? What did they say?"
  845. >"Exactly what I told you they were going to say," Limestone said harshly, "Thank you for reporting the stolen bag, we will of course be on the look out for it," she droned.
  846. >For the second time since getting to the city, you sat outside while you made your sister go and do all the talking.
  847. >You're the reason she's even here, the least you can do is report your own stolen bag.
  848. >But even thinking about doing it yourself makes your ears fall flat.
  849. >And besides, Anonymous chose to wait outside with you, which made it a whole lot easier to just let Limestone handle things.
  850. >You keep your eyes on the ground. You're certain that if you meet Limestone's eyes, you'll turn to ash.
  851. >So far she's managed not to blow up at you, but you know the screaming will happen eventually.
  852. >Maybe if you keep Anonymous nearby she won't freak out as much.
  853. >"Were all the bits we had in that bag?"
  854. >You can sense she's talking to you, but you don't even bother with trying to say anything.
  855. >Luckily, Anonymous saves you from responding, at least.
  856. >"Well, I have about enough for a meal for each of us, but that's it."
  857. >Limestone lets out a sigh, "May as well go eat, then," she says shortly.
  858. >The three of you all start looking for somewhere cheap to eat, but in a city like this, that's easier said than done.
  859. >This place was way more extravagant than your tiny little town.
  860. >You'd never even seen buildings this high before, let alone ones on top of clouds.
  861. >Under better circumstances, you might have enjoyed it here. But all the rich looking ponies only seemed to remind you of how monumentally you screwed up.
  862. >You're stranded in a city with no money, nowhere to stay, and two extra mouths to feed.
  863. >And it's all you fault.
  864. >You can't get a read on what Anonymous thinks about all of this, if he blames you or not. You keep getting distracted by Limestone and the angry way she's walking.
  865. >Other ponies take one look at her and try not to walk too close to her, which you're thankful for.
  866. >Limestone leads you to a fruit stand, where she's able to get a few apples and a loaf of bread.
  867. >She rips up the bread and gives you and Anonymous each a third of it and an apple.
  868. >"This is the last meal we're likely to get for awhile, so enjoy."
  869. >You shrink at the amount of vitriol in her voice directed at you.
  870. >You slowly, but hungrily munch on the food she gave you.
  871. >You sneak a glance up at Anonymous. He doesn't look as angry as Limestone, he doesn't even look angry at all.
  872. >You see something else in his face, something so much worse. Regret.
  874. >You're in your bed, safe at home.
  875. >You stretch, and slowly knead at your pillow.
  876. >You throw your head back and let out a loud and satisfied yawn.
  877. >"Comfortable?" you hear Anonymous ask from somewhere in the room.
  878. "Mmhm," you moan softly, falling limp back on the bed.
  879. >You swish your tail back and forth happily as you let out another moan.
  880. >"It sure does look comfortable under all those blankets."
  881. "It's always comfortable here, Anonymous."
  882. >"Except when you need to work on the farm."
  883. >You frown, "Yes. except when I need to work. But right now, I don't have to work, so it doesn't matter."
  884. >"You'll have to work tomorrow, though. You'll have to get out of bed, get your hooves dirty, come home to a plain meal, then have nothing better to do but get back in bed, only to wake up bright and early to do it all the next day."
  885. "Papa says hard work is good for a growing mare," you retort.
  886. >"You're not a growing mare, Marble, you're an adult. You're old enough to make your own choices."
  887. "But if I do that, then I might not be able to come back to bed. If I choose anything other than what pa wants than I'll have to work a whole lot harder."
  888. >"There's more to strive for in life than coming home to a soft bed, Marble. Maybe if you leave you'll find what else there is out there."
  889. >You scoff, "Okay, Anonymous, I'll try. But right now, all I want is for you to hurry up and get in this bed with me already."
  891. >You open your eyes, it's still dark out.
  892. >You don't know what woke you, but you really wish you could have just slept through the night. It was enough trouble getting to sleep in the first place, now you'll have to do it again.
  893. >You shift you body, trying to get comfortable.
  894. >You're in a park Limestone found, sleeping on benches.
  895. >You never thought you'd fall this low.
  896. >Well, you did, but you never really believed you would.
  897. >You could count on both hooves what you have left in your life at this point: The hope that Pinkie will get here soon to save you, and Anonymous and Limestone being with you, even if they both don't seem to actually want to be with you.
  898. >You lift your head to see if either of them are awake.
  899. >Limestone looks to be sleeping rather peacefully, curled up on a bench right of yours. Anonymous, however, is laying with his knees pressed against his chest in very stressful looking position.
  900. >These pony benches are way too small for him.
  901. >Your vision lingers on him. You sit up to get a better look at him.
  902. >He's resting his head on his hands in a childish sort of way. You jump slightly as you notice he's nervously tapping his foot; but you soon hear him snoring, so he must be asleep.
  903. >Is he having a dream? He must be.
  904. >You sit there, staring.
  905. >He said he's happy to come along with you. Did he mean it?
  906. >You wouldn't be happy to be dragged away from your life, just so you could watch the pony who dragged you do everything wrong, and bring you nowhere.
  907. >You would have been happy to just be friends with him, without leaving home.
  908. >You would be happier back at home.
  909. >You'd be more comfortable too.
  910. >Is it too late to go back and apologize to ma and pa?
  911. >You know they must be livid with you, but you're still their daughter.
  912. >They'd take you back...
  913. >Limestone would probably hate you forever if you brought her all this way only to turn back around.
  914. >You get off the bench and walk over to Anonymous.
  915. >You slowly creep in front of him, getting close enough to feel his weak breath on your face.
  916. >His breath doesn't smell unpleasant, surprisingly.
  917. >You don't know what you're doing, so you don't think about it.
  918. >It's just you right now. There isn't any other pony out right now. No pony to see you.
  919. >You just want to look at him.
  920. >You study his alien face while he sleeps.
  921. >He looks so different from a pony, but so similar too.
  922. >His face isn't like a monster's. It's not ugly, or unlovable.
  923. >It's even kind of nice to look at.
  924. >You see his eyes moving rapidly under his eyelids.
  925. >He's defiantly having a dream.
  926. >Is he back at home? Back somewhere he wants to be?
  927. >Or maybe he's having a nightmare about going even further with you.
  928. >You let out a squeak as his arms shoot out and wrap around you.
  929. >He pulls you close to his chest, you face buried in his neck.
  930. >You breath heavily, staying as still you can.
  931. >You eventually realize he's still asleep.
  932. >He grabbed you in his sleep.
  933. >You can't see anything but the back of the bench, so you listen closely.
  934. >He starts to moan softly. Weak, feeble moans.
  935. >He sounds so pathetic, so helpless. He reminds you of that time you held a filly. How dependent she was on you to take care of her. She put all of her trust in you not to mistreat her.
  936. >You hear him start to sniffle, and you feel something wet drip onto your back.
  937. >Your heart breaks.
  938. >Your fear melts into concern.
  939. >Every once of worry for yourself turns in to worry for this crying human, clutching onto you like his life depends on it.
  940. >But you don't know what you should do.
  941. >You've never had to comfort somepony like this before, much less somepony who's asleep.
  942. >You raise a shaky hoof, and cautiously pet the top of his head.
  943. >He feels so cold.
  944. >Slowly, his moans stop, and you can't feel his tears drip on you anymore.
  945. >It only took a few minutes, but you almost wish it took longer.
  946. >You wish you had a reason to touch him again, to help and ease him again.
  947. >After another few minutes, his grip on you loosens, and you're able to slip back to you own bench.
  948. >You're sort of in a daze as you lay back down.
  949. >You tell yourself this doesn't change anything, that he still doesn't want to be here, that all this was a bad idea, and that none of it will work out for the better. But the smile on your face won't let you believe a word of all that.
  953. >"So you dudes are in quite a bind here aren't ya?"
  954. >"Yep. We've basically got fuck all to do until their sister gets here to save us."
  955. >You swear your head is going to explode if you have to listen to these idiots talk much longer.
  956. >This group of ponies showed up out of nowhere, and just started talking to you.
  957. >Who does that?
  958. >You'd heard that outside of your home town, ponies were pretty friendly, but you didn't think these would be the kind of ponies you would attract. You'd hoped you wouldn't attract any kind of ponies, unless they were offering something to eat.
  959. >Thank Celestia Anonymous took the lead with talking to them. He sounds so casual you'd swear he's dealt with this sort before.
  960. >Marble is, of course, doing her best to look invisible on the bench nearest him.
  961. >One of the other ponies hops up on the bench next to Anonymous, a little closer to him than was formal.
  962. >She has a light brown, sort of creamy colored coat, and a charcoal mane that has bright blue highlights in it that look fake.
  963. >She pops out a cigarette and puts it in her mouth. She then offers one to Anonymous, and to your surprise, he accepts. You wouldn't have taken him for a smoker.
  964. >They both light their cigarettes and start smoking.
  965. >You catch Marble's look of shock at Anonymous; she even looks a little disappointed in him.
  966. >"I'm Whipped Cream, but call me Whipped," the mare says sweetly to Anonymous.
  967. >You try to hide your snort.
  968. >But at least somepony's making friends today.
  969. >If he gets really lucky, she might even offer to buy him breakfast, then you can just leech off of him for a little grub.
  970. >"Anonymous," he says after taking a heavy pull.
  971. >He closes his eyes and lets his head rest on the back of the bench, bringing the cigarette up for another hit.
  972. >The other two ponies, both stallions, each take their own seats next to both you and Marble.
  973. >You feel a smile grow on your face at the thought of a pony like that coming onto Marble.
  974. >You know you really should tell him not to get any ideas with her, but you also know how funny it can be to watch her struggle under the gaze of a stranger. And you just can't be fucked to help her out right now, considering she lost all your money.
  975. >The stallion that sat next to you, thankfully, wasn't too bad looking. He has a short yellow mane and a off white coat.
  976. >"Lucky you guys chose this park to settle in. Nopony who matters comes around here anymore. You're in the ghetto, you know," he says to you with a cheeky smile.
  977. >You look him up and down, from his dirty hooves, to his unkempt mane.
  978. "Yeah, I picked up on that, thanks," you say shortly.
  979. >He chuckles, clearly thinking you were making a joke.
  980. "So you gonna offer one too or not?" You say, nodding your head at Anonymous and his cigarette.
  981. >He smiles at you for a moment, then pulls one out and offers it too you.
  982. >You don't smoke with any regularity. You usually only did it when the stallions you'd occasionally sneak out to meet would offer you one. Besides, they're way too expensive for it to become a habit for you.
  983. >He lights it, then goes back to hitting on you. And you haven't decided if you like it or not yet. You're certain these ponies aren't anything good for you, -this kind of thing never is- but nevertheless, it might be the kind of thing you'd like.
  984. >"I'm Cherrybutter."
  985. "Limestone."
  986. >"So where are three from? And how on earth did you two end up with the human?"
  987. "Some tiny town you've never heard of, and that's a story I'd rather not get in to," Mostly because if you think about, you'll just get angry with Marble all over again, "How have you heard of Anonymous?"
  988. >You're words are short and empty, but he doesn't seem to lose any heart.
  989. >"Are you kidding? I'm pretty sure everypony knows about the alien creature from another dimension who's traveling all over Equestria."
  990. >Looks like you might be even more out of the loop than you thought.
  991. >"So, me and these two are going to an... event, later, and I'm sure nopony would mind if you all tagged along."
  992. >The way he said "event" made you even more certain he has no good intentions about him, or at the very least, no legal intentions.
  993. "Yeah? Why's that? Surely you don't just invite all the homeless bums you see." you say plainly.
  994. >He thinks for a moment, "Just thought you three might be the kind to enjoy that kind of thing," he says, stealing a glance at your haunches.
  995. >You look over at Marble, to check out she's doing, and nearly burst out into laughter. She's as far away from the other stallion as she can be while still sitting on the bench. She has her face totally covered by her mane. The stallion just looks bored, watching Anonymous and Whipped talk.
  996. >You wouldn't actually mind having a little fun. And it's not like you have anything else to do until Pinkie gets here. IF she even decides to come.
  997. "Yeah... Yeah I'll join ya."
  998. >He smiles. You know there's something to his smile that you don't know, but you're kind of curious to find out what it is.
  999. >"Great," he says coolly, then gives you a little piece of paper with an address on it, "Can't wait to see you there."
  1000. >With that, he jumps off the bench and gestures with his head for the other two to follow.
  1001. >The stallion next to Marble looks relieved to finally have an excuses to leave, while Whipped looks like she has to pry herself off of Anonymous.
  1002. >You didn't think he was awful looking for an alien, but you certainly didn't expect mares to be on him like that.
  1003. >That might prove to be a bit of a problem for Marble if it's allowed to continue.
  1004. >"They're gone, you can talk now," you say coldly to Marble after the other ponies get far enough away not to hear.
  1005. >"She offered for me to go to a party with her," Anonymous says, finishing the last of his cigarette.
  1006. "I told him I'd be there."
  1007. >Anonymous and Marble both look at you.
  1008. >Anonymous looks surprised, but you see a flicker of excitement in his eyes.
  1009. >Marble looks totally bewildered, "W-what?! Y-you c-c-can't go with them!"
  1010. >"He actually invited you too, you know."
  1011. >Marble face takes on an aspect of disgust to go along with the surprise, and maybe even a bit of anger.
  1012. >"Limeston-"
  1013. "What else are we going to do, Marble?!" you cut her off, "We're shit out of just about everything, thanks to you. The least we can do is enjoy ourselves a little."
  1014. >"I'm s-sorry! Ok-kay? I d-didn't mean to lose our things. I-I only t-turned my back for a s-second!"
  1015. >You get off the bench to stand up, "That doesn't matter now! I told you that leaving would be an awful idea, yet here we are, because of you! How exactly did you expect to handle the real world when you can't even report your own lost bag without my help?" you feel everything swelling to the top now, and there's no stopping it now. Marble's eyes are full of tears, but you don't care. "We're in this mess, and it's your fault, Marble. I thought I could manged to get us to Ponyville, -even with you holding me back- but we were only away from home for a single day before you ruined things. If I want to go have some fun, then dammit I'm going to. The least you could do is try to handle yourself on your own if you're not coming with. Because I'm sure that mare will make Anonymous all kinds of happy when he comes along!"
  1016. >"Hey!"
  1017. >That was a low-blow and you knew it.
  1018. >"Back the fuck off, Limestone. I get that we're not in a good situation right now, but fighting about it isn't going to make things better," Anonymous says sternly as he stands.
  1019. >If that human never showed up, then Marble wouldn't have gotten any ideas and you wouldn't be in this mess in the first place.
  1020. >All you see is red.
  1021. "Just because you want to fuck her doesn't mean you have to stand up for her. She'd probably just let you if you went for it right now!"
  1022. >Anonymous doesn't respond, he just stares at you.
  1023. >You'd expect to see every kind of fury in his eyes after what you just said, but you don't see any.
  1024. >His eyes show nothing of his own emotion, all they do is command you to stand down.
  1025. >You're taken aback at that look, you've never seen anything quite like it. You would never expect Anonymous capable of a look like that.
  1026. >If you were a lesser pony, that look would terrify you.
  1027. >But no matter how hard you try, you cant help but look down at your own hooves.
  1028. >You turn around and start walking in a random direction, mumbling curses to yourself.
  1029. "I'm going for a walk," you mutter.
  1033. "Marble, no, you can't," you try to sound as comforting as you can; and you're surprised by how soft you voice is, considering what just happened with Limestone.
  1034. >After she left in a huff, Marble continued to cry for what must have been ten minutes.
  1035. >You would have tried to hug her or something, but after what Limestone said about you it felt inappropriate to try.
  1036. >"Sh-she was r-right Anonymous. I n-need to b-be b-better," her eyes are still full of tears and her voice is barely more than a groan, but dammit, she's trying her best.
  1037. "And what makes you think going to that party is going to make you better? I may not know you very well, but I know that's not the kind of mare you are."
  1038. >She looks straight at you and almost hurls her words at you. "But it's the kind of stallion you are!" most of her courage soon leaves her, as her eyes fall back down and more tears start to fall. "A-anonymous, how a-am I s-supposed to be your f-friend if we aren't the same?"
  1039. >She sounds so desperate you want nothing more than to pick her up and rock her until all her fears disappear, and you don't know how to feel about that instinct.
  1040. >You decide to simply sit next to her on the bench, being careful not to be too close.
  1041. "Marble... people don't become friends because they're the same. Just because I like things you don't doesn't mean you have to force yourself to like those things too," you're not sure where you're pulling any of this from, but it just feels right, "Friendship is as much about differences between people as anything else is. What's the point of being friends with someone who's exactly like you? Sure it can be fun to hang out with someone like that sometimes, but if you want to really get close to someone, there has to be some sort of conflict, otherwise you'll just get bored. A-and... and if that m-..." you don't how to say it, or even if you should say it, "I don't want you to do anything you're not comfortable with. I'll stay with you if you don't want to go."
  1042. >Marble is able to hold your gaze. Those big purple eyes searching yours for a reason to mistrust you, and they don't find any.
  1043. >A broken smile creeps across her face.
  1044. >She lurches toward you, but just as quickly takes it back before she can get any closer to you.
  1045. >You get what she was trying to do, so you do it for her. You scoot closer to her and wrap her in a hug.
  1046. >Thankfully, she stops crying and buries her face into your chest.
  1047. >You must smell awful, but she doesn't seem to take notice of that.
  1048. >You slowly pet her withers as she lets out shaky breaths against you body.
  1049. >"I j-just d-don't know what to do Anonymous. Limestone really must hate me..."
  1050. "Don't be ridicules, Marble. She's your sister, and she loves you."
  1051. >"Sh-she's never been this m-mad before."
  1052. "She wouldn't let you leave home without her, she's not going to abandon you now, I promise."
  1053. >"... I'm w-worried about her going with those ponies."
  1054. "If there's one thing I know about Limestone , it's that she knows how to handle herself."
  1058. "Are you sure she's coming back, Anonymous?"
  1059. >"Yes, I am," his voice sounded as smooth as ever, but his eyes showed a hint of doubt.
  1060. >You spent another night on the bench, but Limestone still hasn't come back.
  1061. >She must have gone to that party, but you thought she'd have been back by now.
  1062. >You're really starting to worry about her, but there's nothing you can do; she was the only one who know where the party was.
  1063. "I'm starving," you say meekly.
  1064. >Anonymous' stomach rumbles on queue, "Yeah, me too," he says wistfully.
  1065. >You both sit in silence, unsure of what to do. Unsure if there even is anything to do except wait.
  1066. >You had trouble sleeping last night too.
  1067. >You woke up in the middle of the night again.
  1068. >Anonymous didn't have any dreams last night though, and you kind of wish he had.
  1069. >You know it was a special moment you shared with him, even if he has no idea he shared it with you.
  1070. >"Oh thank god, finally," Anonymous lets out a sigh of relief.
  1071. >You follow his eyes and see Limestone coming your way, stumbling slightly.
  1072. "Limestone! Oh Celestia what happened," you ask as soon as she came close enough.
  1073. >"Nothing, nothing, I'm just tired," she sounds worn out all right.
  1074. >You rush closer to Limestone and take her in a hug, and very much unlike her, she embraces you back.
  1075. "I'm so sorry Limey! I was so worried about you!" you let all of the tension leave your body as you speak.
  1076. >"No, no, Marble. I'm the one who's sorry, I d-didn't mean to get so angry," Limestone's voice sounds much lighter than usual, like she did when she was a filly.
  1077. >She lets go of you and shuffles over to the bench Anonymous sitting at.
  1078. >She hops up on it and lays her head on Anonymous' lap.
  1079. >She lets out a huge yawn, then says, "Boy am I tired. I'm just gonna take a little nap here if ya don't mind."
  1080. >She closes her eyes and immediately starts snoring.
  1081. >You give a confused look to Anonymous, "Is she d-drunk?"
  1082. >He nods his head, "Definitely."
  1083. "Oh..." you say, the excitement of having her return nearly completely fade away, "What do you think she did?"
  1084. >Anonymous gives you a look, "You sure you want to know?"
  1085. >You sit down on the ground and watch Limestone sleep.
  1086. "Probably not. So what? Are we supposed to go on with our day now? "Oh hey Limey's back cool guess we'll just keep sitting here."?"
  1087. >You felt yourself getting heated.
  1088. "She disappeared all night for Celestia's sake!"
  1089. >"You wake her up then, if you want to talk to her. Don't know how responsive she'll be though."
  1090. >You huff, then jump up on the bench next to her.
  1091. "...I guess she's not hurt or anything..."
  1092. >You rest a gentle hoof on her and slowly rub her back.
  1093. >You look up at Anonymous to see him smiling at you.
  1094. "What?"
  1095. >"Nothing, it's just cute to see how you two care for each other."
  1096. >You feel your cheeks grow warm as you avert you eyes from his.
  1097. "I'll ask her about it when she wakes up," you mutter.
  1098. >"Uh, Marble?"
  1099. >You look back up at him, "Hm?"
  1100. >"Is that Pinkie, by any chance?"
  1101. >You look ahead of you to see a pink pony bouncing furiously towards you, a giant smile on her face.
  1102. "Yep! That's Pinkie."
  1106. >You groggily lift your head with a moan.
  1107. >You're in a soft bed, which is definitely not where you fell asleep.
  1108. >You quickly sit up, checking the room around you.
  1109. >It's colorful, too colorful, suspiciously colorful.
  1110. >How the fuck did you get to Pinkie's room?
  1111. >Last you remember you fell asleep... on Anonymous's lap.
  1112. >Oh fuck you in the asshole.
  1113. >You didn't do anything ELSE you'd regret, right?
  1114. >Celestia, you hope so.
  1115. >Or at least anything involving Anonymous or Marble. You definitely did some things you might regret last night, or is it two nights ago now? Your head hurts way to much to figure it out right now.
  1116. >You slowly make your way out of bed.
  1117. >The world is still spinning around you, even now.
  1118. >It might be best to just go back to sleep-Marble! Where the fuck is Marble? She wasn't at that party with you, was she?
  1119. >No, no she wasn't, you remember that now.
  1120. >She must be with Anonymous and Pinkie then.
  1121. >Wherever they are, you're sure Pinkie's keeping her safe.
  1122. >Oh you really hope Anonymous doesn't get the wrong idea about you falling asleep on him. You're not exactly the best you when you drink.
  1123. >Stallions have always told you that you're a whole lore more affectionate when you drink.
  1124. >You walk over to the window and take a peak outside.
  1125. >The scene is totally different than anything you'd expect to see back home.
  1126. >Ponies here all looked happy and friendly with each other.
  1127. >Maybe that means it will be easier to make frien-
  1128. >You shake your head.
  1129. >Maybe that means there's more bars around here.
  1130. >You could really use a drink about now, or a cigarette, or maybe even a stallion, just... something.
  1131. >Something to help... to help you...
  1132. "Stupid!"
  1133. >You're shout is loud enough to cause some ponies outside to look up at your through the window.
  1134. >You stomp back over to the bed and throw the covers over yourself.
  1135. >What are you? Some kind of pussy mare? No, not you, you're stronger than that.
  1136. >You absentmindedly take an extra pillow and clutch it to your chest.
  1137. >You have to be strong enough to protect Marble, especially now that you let her down.
  1138. >Oh Celestia. Will she forgive you for what you said?
  1139. >Of course she will, it's Marble, after all, you've said worse.
  1140. >But ponies can only take so much before they break.
  1141. >What if leaving home has made her realize how much better ponies can be compared to you.
  1142. >Maybe she's already replaced you with that Anonymous.
  1143. "Limestone Pie!" you shout into the pillow you're clutching close to you. You quickly throw the pillow as far as you can after you realize what you were doing with it. "Stop it!"
  1144. >Maybe you really did too much at that party, you don't feel yourself at all, or is it just that now you're more open to letting your heart communicate with you?
  1145. >That's it! you're going back to sleep, and when you wake up, you'll be back to normal, you just know it.
  1146. >"Limey?! Are you awake?" you hear a squeaky voice whisper-shout.
  1147. >You keep your eyes shut tight, hoping Pinkie will just come back later.
  1148. >Instead, you hear her bounce closer to the bed and sense her put her head right next to yours'
  1149. >"Are you awake, Limestone?" she asks again.
  1150. >You know it's useless when it comes to Pinkie, so you simply say, "No."
  1151. >She giggles, then hopes on the bed next to you.
  1152. >"You slept for whole train ride over, Limey! I haven't even gotten to say hello to you yet!" she whined.
  1153. "How'd you find us so quickly?"
  1154. >"Ooh, good question! I was just kinda in the neighborhood."
  1155. >You frown at her.
  1156. >Her goofy smile just gets bigger, "Okayokay! I got your letter and hopped the faster train there."
  1157. >"But we sent that letter like, two days before you got to Los Pegasus. How in Equestria did it reach you so quickly?" you say shortly.
  1158. >Pinkie's high pitched voice is making your head feel even worse.
  1159. >"Oh yeah Los Pegasus always delivers their letters as fast as they can."
  1160. >You give her a confused look, so she brings her head in closer and whispers to you, "Los Pegasus is she biggest party city in Equestria, so a lot of ponies get stranded there, so the city does its best to help them get home."
  1161. >She leans her head back away from you.
  1162. "They didn't offer us any help," you say bitterly.
  1163. >"Did you visit the LIMS office?"
  1164. "The what?"
  1165. >"The Lost and Intoxicated Mares and Stallions office."
  1166. >You stare blankly at Pinkie for a moment, "That's actually a thing?"
  1167. >She nods vigorously, "See how different the rest of Equestria is compared to home?"
  1168. "Huh..."
  1169. >"So I've got to get to work. Marble and that Anonymous guy are coming with for a quick snack-"
  1170. "Count me out."
  1171. >"Aw come on, Limey!" Pinkie whines, "It's been forever since you've had one of my cupcakes!"
  1172. >You turn you back to Pinkie, "I'm way too tired for any of that."
  1173. >You can tell Pinkie's pouting, but she doesn't push anymore.
  1174. >You feel her get off the bed and hear her bounce towards the door.
  1175. >"Tonight then! You're going to taste my baking today if it's the last thing I do!" she says triumphantly as she closes the door.
  1176. "Might just be the last thing I do in that case," you say darkly.
  1177. >You really really hope this town has a good bar.
  1181. "I had no idea you're sister is so good at baking, Marble!" you exclaim excitedly, taking another bite of the muffin Pinkie cooked you.
  1182. >"Hehe, yeah, that's kind of always been her specialty," Marble says quietly.
  1183. >You can tell she's acutely aware of how packed this place is.
  1184. >You know how serious her shyness must be for her, but you can't but think its kind of... Well... Cute.
  1185. "Hey, you wanna go ahead and get out of here? I'm sure Twilight is expecting me to show up soon."
  1186. >She looks reservedly excited about your proposition, but nods vigorously.
  1187. >You quickly make your escape from the crowded bakery, out onto the streets of the small town.
  1188. >You start walking toward the rather out of place looking crystal-castle, with Marble following at your side.
  1189. >You walk in silence for a bit.
  1190. >You find yourself being quiet around this mare pretty often.
  1191. >It's not that you don't want to talk to her, or anything like that.
  1192. >You honestly don't know what it is, so you just try your best to ignore it.
  1193. "It must be a huge relief to finally be back with your sister, huh?" you ask casually.
  1194. >"Yeah..." she says simply.
  1195. >You can tell something else is on her mind.
  1196. "You have another sister that lives here, right? Maud, is it? When will we see her I wonder."
  1197. >"Likely not until Pinkie forces her to come say hi. Since we only just got here today, I should have at least until tomorrow, if I'm lucky," she almost sounds bitter.
  1198. "Do you and her not get along or something?"
  1199. >Marble hangs her head and looks like she forces herself to continue talking, "No... We get along fine, it's just... I'm sure she'll have as much to say about me leaving home as Limestone," her voice grows quieter the more she speaks, and the bitterness changes into something more like defeat.
  1200. >You can't help but root for Marble during the few times she works up the courage to get a little angry.
  1201. >It makes you happy to see her stand up for herself, even if most of the time she doesn't managed to change anything.
  1202. "You should be more proud of yourself Marble."
  1203. >Your words seem to catch her off guard.
  1204. >She stops walking for a moment and glances up at you. Her eyes are full of uncertainty, she looks sure that you're lying to her.
  1205. "Seriously, Marble. From what I know of your home life, well... it wasn't all it should have been. It wasn't all you deserve-"
  1206. >"I deserve worse than that," she mutters as she starts walking again.
  1207. >Her mane is positioned to perfectly hide her eyes from yours. She's making you feel like you're talking to a grey wall.
  1208. >You stop yourself from a retort.
  1209. >A memory flashes through your mind, one from before you came to Equestria.
  1210. >Not a single event, really, more of what head space you were in back then. It seems a whole lot like what Marble's feeling right now.
  1211. >No amount of convincing would have made you believe you were worth more than you thought you were.
  1212. >So trying something different might be a better option to help Marble.
  1213. "What do you deserve, then?" you ask. Not in a demeaning way, but as a genuine question.
  1214. >You pay close attention to what little part of Marble's face you can see.
  1215. >If she's anything like you, you should be able to recognize it easily enough.
  1216. >She opens her mouth immediately, but stops herself from saying whatever it was she was going to. Instead she closes it again for a second, then quietly says, "...There isn't anything I-I can d-do now."
  1217. "That doesn't answer the question," you keep your voice soft, but you make it clear you're expecting a proper response.
  1218. >She's slower to respond this time. She was clearly hoping you wouldn't press her more.
  1219. >"I-I don't know. N-nothing... I g-guess."
  1220. >Her stutter is coming back.
  1221. >You've passed the point of her being too shy to talk to you, and the only other time she stutters like that is when she's getting emotional.
  1222. "Nothing? You believe that?"
  1223. >She doesn't respond.
  1224. "If that's that, then go ahead and kill yourself."
  1225. >She stops and looks you straight in the eyes.
  1226. >You get down on one knee to get eye level with her.
  1227. >She holds your gaze, too shocked and confused for any tears to start yet. And if you can say what you need to before those come, then you're idea may actually work.
  1228. "You haven't yet, Marble, there's a reason for that-"
  1229. >Her head slumps as she cuts you off, "I'm too much of a cowered t-"
  1230. >You interrupt her by lifting her chin so that she looks at you.
  1231. >You can see her eyes are starting to get wet.
  1232. "It's because you DON'T deserve that, that's why," you're voice has lost it's softness now. You need her to listen to this, "You're still here for reason, Marble. You left home and came to Ponyville for a reason. You were able to find the courage to TRY AGAIN instead of giving up. Because you want something better than nothing, what is it?"
  1233. >She tries to look at the ground again, so you give her chin a firm shake.
  1234. >Her eyes come back to yours, and they've started to drip.
  1235. >"I-I j-just want t-to go to s-sleep-and never w-wake up."
  1236. >You fully display your dissatisfaction with that answer on your face.
  1237. >"I want t-to be h-happy," she croaks.
  1238. "Happiness doesn't last, Marble. It's just a feeling, one you should be thankful for when it comes, but you can't build your life around chasing something so fragile. Life is suffering, Marble, you need to find a way to make the suffering meaningful. How do you do that?"
  1239. >She restlessly pats her hooves on the ground, nervously leaning back and forth on them.
  1240. >"Suffer with somepony," She says weakly, almost giving up.
  1241. >You pull her into a hug, and her fidgeting stops instantly.
  1242. >How ironic that you of all people would be giving this kind of advice. But if you can help somebody do better than you, then you may be able to leave satisfied.
  1243. >You slowly rub the back of Marble's neck, "There there," you say, the comfort returning to your voice, "It's okay, Marble, you're okay."
  1244. >She buries her face into you to hide her tears.
  1245. >"A-Anonym-mous," she moans.
  1246. "Come on now, it's okay."
  1247. >She slowly pulls away, a bit of happiness in her dripping eyes.
  1248. "We've still got a princess to see, stay strong for me, 'kay?"
  1249. >She smiles and nods, "Mhm."
  1251. >You reach up and knock on the heavy crystal door.
  1252. >You've seen the castle back in Canterlot. That place is huge compared to this, but there's something magical about a whole castle made out of crystal.
  1253. >You hear the sound echoing throughout the inside of the palace and are overcome by a sudden fear.
  1254. >Twilight's not going to be mad at you for running away, right?
  1255. >Marble looks suddenly overcome by something, "Why were you crying in your sleep that first night in Los Pegasus?" she blurts out in less than four seconds.
  1256. >You look down at her with a different kind of fear on your face.
  1257. >Marble immediately tries to act like she didn't say anything. Sitting down and hiding her face with her mane.
  1258. >Before you can think of anything to stammer out in response, the door in front of you opens.
  1259. >"Anon! It's good to see you!"
  1260. >Twilight stands on her hind legs in order to give a hug. She was the only one who did it that way. Normally you'd go down to the ponies level, but she insisted on being the one to accommodate herself.
  1261. >You're still too shocked to do anything but just stand there, still looking down at the even more nervous looking Marble.
  1262. >"Well! Come in!" Twilight says happily.
  1263. >You mindless walk past her and into the huge entrance room.
  1264. >"Oh you must be-lets see, Marble Pie? Pinkie's showed me so many pictures of you I'd recognize you anywhere hahaha."
  1265. >Twilight clearly hasn't picked up on the atmosphere yet.
  1266. >She leads you both to a smaller room with a long table and chairs.
  1267. >You all take seats, and accept Twilight's offer for drinks.
  1268. >"So, you came to Ponyville with Marble and Limestone hm?" Twilight asks, starting to adapt to her business voice.
  1269. "Uh, yeah that's kind of a long story..."
  1270. >"And one I'd like to hear," she gives you and Marble a look, "But right now I have a few things I'd like to go over with you, Anon."
  1274. >"Suffer with somepony"?
  1275. >You could've been a little more subtle, Marble.
  1276. >Well, you could've been a little more obvious, too.
  1277. >It's not like you went and said it outright.
  1278. >You can't.
  1279. >That'd make things way too awkward.
  1280. >You pace back and forth restlessly.
  1281. >What are they talking about in there? Is he in any serious trouble?
  1282. >Twilight DID ask you to leave while they talked, so it must be SOMETHING.
  1283. >And it's no doubt about how you brought him with you when you ran away.
  1284. >You feel your breathing start to get faster and heaver.
  1285. >It'll be your fault if anything happens to Anonymous.
  1286. >And asking him a question like the one you did right before he goes and talks with her was an awful idea.
  1287. >You're such an idiot.
  1288. >You looked up at him, outside of the castle.
  1289. >He just looked so... lost.
  1290. >He's done a lot to help you. He put everything he knew on the line to hop a train with you.
  1291. >And when he noticed how you were feeling just now, he helped you.
  1292. >He stared you down and spoke with so much confidence.
  1293. >He spoke to you like he knew exactly what to do, but after that...
  1294. >After he told you what you needed to hear, he changed.
  1295. >So you asked him, asked him about that night and why he was crying.
  1296. >You couldn't help yourself, it just came out.
  1297. >And his face when you asked...
  1298. >What is that stallion hiding?
  1299. >Is it something he did wrong? Something he's ashamed of?
  1300. >"Marble?"
  1301. >You jump slightly as Twilight calls your name.
  1302. "Y-yeah?"
  1303. >"We're all done her," she says with a smile.
  1304. >Her and Anonymous both come out of the small meeting room. Twilight wearing a smile, and Anonymous looking... happy enough.
  1305. >"I so sorry, but I do have a lot to do today."
  1306. >"No problem, Twilight. I'll see you around."
  1307. >Anonymous comes towards you as Twilight goes back inside the meeting room and closes the door.
  1308. "I-is everything okay?" you ask hesitantly.
  1309. >Anonymous nods, "The Princesses were a little surprised and worried that I'd disappeared for a few days. But when I told them about you they seemed completely fine with all of it."
  1310. >You're taken aback at that, "A-about m-me?"
  1311. >"Yeah, how we became friends and all that."
  1312. "...Oh."
  1313. >You both make your way back outside.
  1314. >For being a modestly sized building, Twilight's castle is quite easy to navigate.
  1315. >Ounce outside, you take a moment and stand on the castle steps.
  1316. >You gaze out at the new town you've come to.
  1317. >The place that will hopefully become your new home.
  1318. >There's so much potential here it's almost overwhelming.
  1319. >This could be the start of an amazing new life, you could actually become a successful mare.
  1320. >You could also loose what little you have so quickly it's worrying.
  1321. >You don't even know what to do; where are you supposed to go from here?
  1322. >How do ponies make a good life for themselves?
  1323. >If you boil down what most ponies enjoy about life, you already had all of it: A nice home, a good family, a job, and you even got a friend.
  1324. >"Well, what now?"
  1325. >Anonymous looks down at you with a questioning smile.
  1326. >That look he had earlier is gone.
  1327. >He looks perfectly normal.
  1328. >You don't know how to respond to him, so you just go with what you would have said if you were back home.
  1329. "Go back to Pinkie's and sleep off the excitement?"
  1331. >Thank Celestia Pinkie has a guest room.
  1332. >She set up beds for the three of you, but Limestone was passed out in Pinkie's room right now.
  1333. >And you're kind of glad for that; you're really not in the mood for a scolding.
  1334. >Without giving it a second thought, you flop yourself down on the nearest bed and throw the covers over yourself.
  1335. >It only takes a couple of seconds before your stench really starts to hit you.
  1336. >You haven't showered since you left home, and now that you're safe under Pinkie's roof, it's really starting too show.
  1337. >Anonymous lays down on a bed across the room from you.
  1338. >Thankfully Pinkie was able to convince Twilight to conjure up some extra beds.
  1339. >She even remembered to make one of them human size for Anonymous.
  1340. >She really is a much smarter mare than you, and she has a lot going for her.
  1341. >And for some reason, you don't like that.
  1342. >Twilight calls him "Anon".
  1343. >You wonder how close they are to each other.
  1344. >They didn't seem especially friendly or anything, but they definitely acted familiar enough that you'd call them friends.
  1345. >And for some reason, you feel a twinge in your chest when you think about that.
  1346. >"Oh man, Twilight sure knows how to magic up a comfy bed!" Anonymous says happily.
  1347. >Your eyes narrow in frustration.
  1348. >You push yourself up and jump off your bed.
  1349. "A-Anon, I'm gonna go ahead and-and go shower."
  1350. >"Ooh that sounds like a plan!" he exclaims, "Tell me when you're out, I'm going to need one too."
  1351. >You blush slightly as you make your way to Pinkie's bathroom.
  1352. >Anon is going to shower...
  1353. >Luckily, he didn't say anything on your use of the nickname.
  1354. >You get to the bathroom, climb into the tub, and turn on the water.
  1355. >You don't know why, but you're rushing.
  1356. >Before you even know it, your mane is full of shampoo.
  1357. >You finish, and get back to the guest room in less than five minutes.
  1358. >And within that time, Anon has passed out cold.
  1359. >You smile to yourself, watching his huge chest heave up and down as he snores.
  1360. >You walk over to him and put the covers over him.
  1361. >He really does look so peaceful when he's asleep-as long as he isn't crying, that is.
  1362. >You stand over him, just studying him. It's the only time you really feel like you have free range to look at him.
  1363. >You're able to hold his gaze a whole lot easier than you would have expected and everything, but whens you look at him when he's awake, you can't focus on anything except his eyes.
  1364. >For being so much smaller than yours, they really do hold so much more.
  1365. >Not for the first time you wish you could uncover everything those eyes have to tell.
  1366. >You know there's more to him than he's letting on.
  1367. >Your suspicions tell you it's nothing good, that it's nothing anypony would really want to know, that it's something as alien as him.
  1368. >But none of that even gives you a second thought about wanting to help him with whatever it is.
  1369. >And you don't know how to tell him that, or if you should.
  1370. >You don't know anything about any of this.
  1371. >Limestone has been the pony closest to you for most of your adult life, if you can even call it close.
  1372. >You know she's your older sister and she just wants the best for you, but she just...
  1373. >You don't know.
  1374. >Since leaving home, you just haven't talked to her like you used to.
  1375. >All of this has brought something to your attention that you had no idea was there.
  1376. >Something telling you that you don't need Limestone.
  1377. >She's not a nice pony, you know that, and you've accepted that's just who she is.
  1378. >But why should you?
  1379. >If the only reason she's gone along with everything you've put her through is because she's your older sister, than why even put up with her?
  1380. >Now that you have a family member who really ca-...
  1381. >Now that you have a friend who really seems to care about YOU, then why not choose that friend over anypony else?
  1382. >....Anonymous really is just adorable when he sleeps.
  1383. >You barely take your eyes off him as you climb into your own bed.
  1384. >You let out a huge sigh as you do.
  1385. >This really is all you need in life: a comfy place to lie down, and a nice pony to sleep next to.
  1386. >Regardless of if he's across the room from you, and if he's not even a pony, he's still enough.
  1387. >More than enough.
  1388. >More than anything you've ever had.
  1389. >And you won't let anypony take him away from you: not Limestone, not Maud, not Pinkie and not your parents.
  1390. >For this moment, you're in heaven, and everypony who wants you to move is nothing more than a demon.
  1394. >Thank Celestia you were able to get away.
  1395. >By the time you woke up, it was dark out, and Marble and Anonymous were already asleep.
  1396. >It can't be too late though, otherwise Pinkie would be home and would have attacked you with snuggles if you were still sleeping in her bed.
  1397. >So now you're wandering the streets of this new town, trying to find something to do.
  1398. >Something involving alcohol.
  1399. >But you've been searching for a bar for the last twenty minutes and you still haven't found one.
  1400. >Yeah, this place is way different than home.
  1401. >Maybe you'd have better luck looking for drinks back at Pinkie's.
  1402. >But that would mean you'd have to deal with Pinkie, and possibly a Pinkie who's drinking.
  1403. >You aren't that desperate yet.
  1404. >It's not like you dislike her or anything.
  1405. >You love your sister...
  1406. >You just don't want to be around such a loud and rambunctious pony right now.
  1407. >You'd rather be alone.
  1408. >You prefer being alone.
  1409. >And besides that short walk before you went to the party, you haven't gotten a chance to be alone.
  1410. >Thankfully sleeping all day seems to have healed you up from that night.
  1411. >You're head no longer hurts and your stomach feels prepared for more liquor.
  1412. >"Hey there," a light voice says to your right.
  1413. >You turn your head and see a purple alicorn walking beside you.
  1414. "Oh, Princess Twilight Sparkle..."
  1415. >"Out for a night time stroll too huh?"
  1416. >Oh great, she wants to have a conversation with you.
  1417. "Kinda, mostly just trying to find a bar in this confusing town," you keep your tone polite, but you try your best to make sure she knows you aren't in the mood for whatever it is she wants.
  1418. >She takes a moment to study you. You get the feeling she's trying to strategize the best way to get you to open up to her.
  1419. >"You must be Limestone Pie, Pinkie's shown me so many pictures of you I feel like I could recognize you anywhere haha. I got the chance to meet Marble earlier today; she seems like a nice mare."
  1420. >You snort, "Don't know how you'd be able to tell, since she never opens her mouth."
  1421. >"There's nothing wrong with being a bit shy. One of my best friends spends most of her time caring for animals, far away from other ponies."
  1422. >What the hell does she want?
  1423. "What the hell do you want?"
  1424. >You decide to try your luck. With any luck she'll get offended and just leave you alone.
  1425. >She takes a moment to reply, "You look like something's on your mind, Limestone. I wanted to see if you felt like talking about it," she doesn't sound mad, but caring. Enough to make you want to vomit.
  1426. "There isn't, and I don't."
  1427. >You know you could probably get in trouble for talking to royalty like this.
  1428. >"I heard you and Marble ran away from home to come here."
  1429. >"Marble is the one who ran away, I just came along to make sure she wouldn't end up dead before getting here."
  1430. >"So you're going back to your parents then?"
  1431. >You say nothing.
  1432. >"Pinkie's told me plenty about what home-life was like for you mares. Even Maud had something to say about it."
  1433. "Tch, Maud. I have no idea how Pinkie convinced her not to go back home and live here instead. Dammit, she was the one who always said she wanted to take over the farm."
  1434. >"I think it's because Pinkie showed her there was more to life than flipping rocks."
  1435. "I swear to Celestia if you say it's because of the magic of friendship I-"
  1436. >"But that's why you left too, Limestone. Not exactly for friendship, but for the love of you sister. Something stronger than friendship."
  1437. "I left because that place fucking sucked and I didn't want to waste anymore time there than I already have."
  1438. >You feel your heart rate begin to quicken.
  1439. "I've wasted my whole life up until now working on some farm I don't car about. And since I'm the last to leave, all the blame for abandoning my parents is placed on me. And I couldn't even managed to leave on my own. I only left because Marble acted like an idiot and just ran away, and I couldn't just let her go on her own. She's so useless she made me do everything for her while she got comfortable with Anonymous."
  1440. >"So then what's next?"
  1441. >You like she's trying to rile you up on purpose, and it's totally working.
  1442. "Fuck if I know. Already tried getting so fucked up I wouldn't have to worry about it, that seemed to work. I almost wish I hadn't managed to find my way back to Marble and Anonymous, that way I could have just stayed with those party ponies and not have to be here talking to you right now."
  1443. >You try your best to hurl you words at her in a way that will hurt.
  1444. >She's the one who's pushing you, so she's the one who you're going to push back against.
  1445. >But she doesn't look hurt, or even offended.
  1446. >She looks sorry for you, and that only makes you angrier.
  1447. >"We made it to the bar."
  1448. >You hadn't realized that at some point in the conversation Twilight had started to lead you instead of follow.
  1449. >"This is the only one in town, and it's not very good, but have at it. Though, my castle is only a short walk from here. If you'd prefer some higher quality stuff, you could pop over for a little while."
  1450. >You didn't even need to look at Twilight to know that the only reason she was inviting you was so she could keep talking to you.
  1451. >You don't give it a second thought before you walk inside the bar, ignoring Twilight's offer.
  1455. >First thing you know-Marble's bed is closer to yours than it was when you fell asleep.
  1456. >You also notice Limestone passed out in her bed. She must have moved when she got back or something.
  1457. >You sit up and stretch, letting out a huge yawn as you do.
  1458. >Marble is sleeping peacefully, so you decide not to wake her.
  1459. >But god damn, these little pony mares sure can be pretty cute when they sleep. Even Limestone looks adorable when she doesn't have a permanent frown stuck to her face.
  1460. >You're quickly reminded of your forgotten plans to take a shower last night when your stench hits you.
  1461. >You get out of bed with another stretch, then find your way to the bathroom.
  1462. >Even with the tub being extremely small for you, you shower without much trouble.
  1463. >You dry yourself off and put on the same dirty clothes.
  1464. >You go back to the guest room and sit at the edge of your bed.
  1465. >Thankfully, Marble is awake.
  1466. >"A-anon, how long have you been up?" she says through a yawn.
  1467. "A few minutes, just long enough to shower. I need to go see Twilight about getting me some different clothes later today though. These ones stink."
  1468. >You catch Marble's lingering on your wet hair.
  1469. >She lays her head down on the pillow, her mane falling into place over her face.
  1470. >"There's plenty of time for that later. May as well enjoy our new beds as much as we can now, hm?"
  1471. >Her voice is full of content.
  1472. >So much so that it would tear you up to deprive her of what she's asking for.
  1473. >It's not like you really had plans for today anyway.
  1474. >So you lay down on you modest bed.
  1475. >Marble sighs with satisfaction.
  1476. >You glance at Limestone, just to make sure she's still asleep.
  1477. "Marble?"
  1478. >"Yeah?" she says sleepily.
  1479. "Do you really care? A-about me, I mean."
  1480. >You have no idea what compelled you to ask that, it just slipped out.
  1481. >"Mhm," she moans, she's half asleep, "I care about you a lot, Anon."
  1482. >She's started calling you by the same nickname that Twilight does, that hasn't slipped your notice.
  1483. "What do you... How do you..."
  1484. >You hear Marble's soft breaths.
  1485. >She's already fallen back asleep.
  1486. >It seems all she needed was to hear your voice to put her to sleep.
  1487. >Obviously she cares for you, she wouldn't have run away with you if she didn't.
  1488. "Marble?" you say louder.
  1489. >You watch as she slowly drags herself out of bed and walks over to you.
  1490. >Your breathing hitches slightly.
  1491. "Marble?"
  1492. >She stands over you, eyes half open.
  1493. >"Anonymous," she says groggily, "Do you really care about me?"
  1494. >She sits her rump down and wipes the sleepiness out of her eyes.
  1495. >"I-I know I'm your f-friend and all... but..."
  1496. >You aren't sure where all this is coming from.
  1497. >All of it.
  1498. >Last thing you knew Cadance had moved you to a knew town in the hopes you'd find friends.
  1499. >And now you've ran away with a pony you still barely knew.
  1500. >You're lying down in the home of that ponies sister's home now.
  1501. >It's all so different.
  1502. >You're friends with a pony.
  1503. >You feel close to a pony.
  1504. >You want the best for a pony.
  1505. >But to you, she was a person.
  1506. >Well, she IS a person.
  1507. >Back on earth you wouldn't have given another thought to a person other than yourself.
  1508. >You didn't give a second thought as to yourself either, which is why you're here in the first place.
  1509. >But here you are, wanting this pony to be happy.
  1510. >You don't know what to think of it.
  1511. >And she cares for you too.
  1512. >She wants you to be happy too.
  1513. >You almost want to just run away again.
  1514. >Tell her to give up on you and just worry about herself.
  1515. >You can't do that though. That would only make things worse for her.
  1516. >So you have to stay.
  1517. >You have to force yourself to stay.
  1518. >Even though you're fighting with everything you have left to stay here, when you look at this pony-this mare-this person, it makes sticking around just a little bit easier.
  1519. >Not easier, precisely, but you just don't think about it as much.
  1520. >You don't think about anything as much.
  1521. >You're still not sure if that;s a good thing or not.
  1522. "Yes, we're friends, Marble," your voice is soft, almost weak, "And I'm proud of you. You left somewhere that was bad for you and came somewhere that is good for you- hopefully."
  1523. "That's more than I managed," you mutter to yourself.
  1524. >Her eyes don't meet yours.
  1525. >Looking at her doing that ignites something in you.
  1526. >You sit up, eye level with this grey mare.
  1527. "Marble Pie. Look at me."
  1528. >She does.
  1529. "Why is it so hard for you to meet someone's gaze?"
  1530. >She looks down.
  1531. "Marble."
  1532. >Her eyes shoot back to yours.
  1533. "I know you're shy, and an introvert more than anything... But it's me. Your friend. Look at me."
  1534. >'I want to see your eyes' you skip out on saying.
  1535. >"I-I-I... It's hard," she's fully awake now, and so are you.
  1536. "What is it? I can tell something's on your mind," you keep your tone soft but firm.
  1537. >Marble glances at Limestone's sleeping figure.
  1538. >"I-I just... I want to go back to sleep..."
  1539. >You can tell she's being honest.
  1540. >But you can also tell she wanted to say more than she did.
  1541. "Okay..."
  1542. >She absentmindedly fidgets with her hooves, still not looking at you.
  1543. "Just-be honest with me, okay?"
  1544. 'I only want the best for you.'
  1545. >She's nods.
  1546. >You yourself find it hard to look at her.
  1547. >She walks back over to her bed and gets under the covers.
  1548. >You keep your head looking straight ahead; but you can see her stealing glances at you.
  1549. >You can tell how honest she was in what she said.
  1550. >How she just wants to sleep.
  1551. >But you know all too well how unhealthy a goal that is.
  1552. >If you really want to help her, then you need to get her to do something else.
  1553. >You need to find something for her to strive for.
  1554. >Something to make her want to be awake.
  1555. >Something to give her a reason a to be awake.
  1556. >Or else she'll turn out like you.
  1560. >You can't think of a single reason why you need to be out of bed right now.
  1561. >The least he could do is slow down a bit.
  1562. >You're barely able to keep up with Anonymous as you both walk down the street.
  1563. >He's got a skip in his step today, that's for sure.
  1564. >Doing nothing but lie around in bed yesterday must have given him extra energy or something.
  1565. >If it were up to you, you both would have never got up at all today.
  1566. >And if you could managed it, your bed would be ever so slightly closer to Anonymous'.
  1567. >"Beautiful day, isn't it?" He asks, voice full of positivity.
  1568. "I-I guess so..." you mumble out, "Umm, where are we going exactly?"
  1569. >You look up at him and see his face darken slightly.
  1570. >Great.
  1571. >Even HE doesn't know why you're out of bed.
  1572. >"Just wanted to get some fresh air. It sure feels nice doesn't it?"
  1573. "To be honest, I got enough fresh air to last me a lifetime working on the farm."
  1574. >"Oh... guess I'm forgetting I'm the only one who used to live in a city."
  1575. "Mmm."
  1576. >"Hey, didn't Pinkie mention something about a pond? What do you say about going for a swim?"
  1577. >You'd say that's an awful idea.
  1578. >But you can't really say that to him.
  1579. >"Yeah! Let's go swimming!"
  1580. >In the second you took to think about how much you don't want to go swimming, Anonymous made up his mind about going swimming.
  1581. >Perfect.
  1582. >He gets even more of a skip in his step as he approaches some stranger and asks them where the pond is.
  1583. >You keep your eyes on the dirt beneath you; trying to look busy fidgeting with a pebble.
  1584. >You prey silently to Celestia that the pony has no idea where the pond is.
  1585. >But no such luck.
  1586. >You and Anonymous set off without a second thought.
  1587. >You blew your chance to tell him how much you don't want to go swimming.
  1588. >One look at him and your determination disappears.
  1589. >There is no way you can do anything that will get rid of his smile and excitement.
  1590. >You've never seen him like this.
  1591. >Like a colt in a candy store.
  1592. >You're reminded of just how infectious his smile is. And despite yourself, you feel the corners of your mouth turn upward.
  1593. >You wish you could see him like this more.
  1594. >"Man, it's a beautiful day, isn't it?"
  1595. >His voice is so intoxicating. He normally has such a soothing voice, but when he's like this, it sounds so...
  1596. >It would lift your spirits, even if you were in the middle of balling your eyes out.
  1597. >You giggle slightly, "You already asked that, Anon."
  1598. >"I did didn't I?"
  1599. >You feel yourself start to walk with a bit of a skip, instead of dragging yourself like you were.
  1600. "What in the world has gotten into you?"
  1601. >He looks down at you.
  1602. >You wouldn't think it possible, but after seeing your manner change, his smile grows even more.
  1603. >"I just really think life is going to get better for y-us, that's all."
  1604. "Yeah? If you say so."
  1605. >He seems satisfied with that.
  1606. >You see his smile morph into a devilish grin.
  1607. >Your eyes narrow at him as you get a little worried about what he's thinking.
  1608. >"Race you!" He blurts out.
  1609. >He doesn't hesitate before sprinting past you.
  1610. "Hey! I don't even know where we're going!" you yell after him.
  1611. >Your legs automatically start moving in a gallop.
  1612. >You catch up to him in no time.
  1613. >Humans sure aren't very fast.
  1614. >You hear Anonymous laugh hysterically over the sound of wind rushing past you.
  1615. >You can't help but laugh along with him.
  1616. >What in the world has gotten into this stallion?
  1617. >What in the world has gotten into you?
  1618. >You both reach the edge of the pond in no time.
  1619. >"Ha! I... Beat... You..." he says through heavy breaths.
  1620. >You smile to yourself, knowing how much you were holding back, "Yep, you got me."
  1621. >You look out at the small pond in front of you.
  1622. >It's no bigger than a regular swimming pool, but it looks deep enough to dive in.
  1623. >The water is a beautiful blue. The clouds reflected in the perfectly still water.
  1624. >You look back at Anonymous to see him taking his clothes off.
  1625. >He already got rid of his shirt, and he's in the middle of removing his pants.
  1626. >You feel you face grow red hot as you quickly look away.
  1627. >Thankfully, he doesn't seem to notice.
  1628. >You suddenly feel him warp his arms around your barrel as he picks up.
  1629. >You let out a squeak as your face gets even redder.
  1630. >You try your best not to think about how warm his body is, or how smooth his skin is, or how he has the cutest little bit of hair on his chest, or how-
  1631. >Next thing you know, you're flying through the air.
  1632. >You flail your legs widely and let out a scream.
  1633. >He threw you.
  1634. >The next second, you're underwater.
  1635. >That stallion threw you straight in.
  1636. >And oh Celestia, is this water cold.
  1637. >You struggle to the surface just in time to see him jump in next to you, sending a wave of water to wash over you.
  1638. >"AHHH!"
  1639. >The way he sounds, you'd think he just got stabbed.
  1640. >You're overtaken by worry before he says, "Holy Shit it's cold! Holy shit! Holy shit! Holy shit!"
  1644. "You live in a cave?"
  1645. >"It was kinda Pinkie's idea. Besides, this way I'm closer to the rocks."
  1646. "You and your rocks, Maud."
  1647. >Her blank face is as blank as always, but you can tell she's happy to see you.
  1648. >You walk up beside her and start messing with her dress, "You still wear this old thing? I can't even see your... adorable, cutie mark," you overly inflect your voice so she knows you're fucking with her.
  1649. >You flip it up over her head and start poking around at her rump, "I mean, just look at this thing! You'd be rolling in guys if you showed it off a little more."
  1650. >"I already have a boyfriend," she says blankly from under her dress.
  1651. "Oh, right, hehe."
  1652. >You take a step back as she fixes her dress and turns toward you.
  1653. >"You and Marble both left the farm."
  1654. >You suddenly find it a bit harder to look her in the eyes.
  1655. >"And how come Marble hasn't come to see me?"
  1656. "Yes, we did."
  1657. >This is the part you were worried about.
  1658. >You cant keep your eyes from taking nervous glances at your hooves.
  1659. >"What did pa say?"
  1660. "I-I don't know..."
  1661. >"You ran away?" she sounds slightly surprised, "Well, I guess pa wasn't going to let it happen any other way."
  1662. "Exactly! Our only way out of there was to leave in the middle of the night so they couldn't stop us."
  1663. >"Except now, you left them with all that work to do on their own. They haven't saved up enough to afford help, have they?"
  1664. "...No."
  1665. >"If you knew you wanted to leave, why didn't you write me? Or Pinkie even? We would have helped you work something out."
  1666. "It wasn't even my idea! Marbles the one who up and ditched, I only went after her to make sure she didn't kill herself," your voice takes on a bit of sharpness.
  1667. >"Hmpf, well I guess I should be expecting a letter from them sometime soon, then."
  1668. >You stay quiet.
  1669. >"You're staying with Pinkie, right?"
  1670. >You nod.
  1671. >"Celestia. How much 'fun' has she forced on you so far?"
  1672. "None, I learned how to get out of that a long time ago," your voice gets light again, "I bet she roped you into all kinds of shit, though."
  1673. >You smile slyly at her.
  1674. >Maud gives you a look.
  1675. "Oh dear. That bad huh?"
  1676. >"It's fine. But if you're living with her, don't expect to get out of all of it."
  1677. "I know I know. I just need-"
  1678. >"Why don't you just stay with me for a bit?"
  1679. >You pause for a second, "That sounds like a fantastic idea."
  1680. >The corners of her mouth turn up, ever so slightly, "I thought so."
  1682. >You spent another hour or so with Maud before you decided to go back to Pinkie's house.
  1683. >All you needed to do was leave a note telling her you'll be staying with Maud.
  1684. >And thank Celestia she wasn't there to see you off.
  1685. >As much as Pinkie can be annoying, making her sad feels like kicking a puppy.
  1686. >And you know for certain that telling her you chose Maud over her will, at least, make that mane of her deflate slightly.
  1687. >The only problem with this new living arrangement is the fact that Maud forbid you from being in the house when her coltfriend is over, unless otherwise agreed upon.
  1688. >Which is too bad, because you would have had a lot of fun messing with them.
  1689. >Guess you'll just have to be sneaky with it.
  1690. >Your focus is stolen from you as you start to come up with plots you think might annoy Maud.
  1691. >It might actually be best to ask Pinkie for help on this sort of thing, but you can worry about that later.
  1692. >Right now, you've got to find your way back to Maud's cave.
  1693. >This new town will definitely take some time for you to learn.
  1694. >But it's not like you really need to know how to get to all that many places.
  1695. >There is the bar, Pinkie's, and Maud's.
  1696. >Those three should be all you need...
  1697. >"Oh hey! funny running into you again."
  1698. >You'd recognize that voice anywhere.
  1699. >Only because you hate it to its core.
  1700. >"So what are you doing today, Limestone?" Twilight sounds positively joyful in the way she asks the question. But no amount of her joy is going to make you forget why she's talking to you.
  1701. >Absolutely not a single inch of you believes she accidentally ran into you.
  1702. >This purple mare is trying to get you to open up to her, and you know it.
  1703. >You've long since learned to recognized that tone ponies take.
  1704. >Twilight is hardly the first.
  1705. "I'm going home," you say shortly. Just like last time you talked to this pony, you want to make sure she knows how much you detest talking to her.
  1706. >"I thought you were staying at Pinkie's?"
  1707. "Maud invited me to stay with her."
  1708. >"Oh! That's nice. Do you and her get along well?" her voice is as casual and light as any voice you've ever heard.
  1709. >If you had to guess, in all her journeys as a Princess of Friendship, you'd think she still isn't quite sure how to deal with somepony who hates her.
  1710. "Well enough."
  1711. >"So, hey, I was thinking about the other night and... I think I understand why you choose to drink so much-"
  1712. "Fuck off."
  1713. >"D-do you wish you never left your parents?" she sounds like she's trying hard to ignore your language.
  1714. "I wish you would stop talking to me, Twilight. I have nothing to say to you."
  1715. >She was really starting to get on your nerves.
  1716. >But no matter how much you wanted her to stop pushing, she is still a princess, and you may end up regretting how you act toward her.
  1717. >"Limestone, I... I can help you."
  1718. "No!" you snap, "You can't 'help', Twilight. There is absolutely, positively, beyond a shadow of a doubt, totally and completely, nothing I need help with."
  1719. >She stops in place, and watches as you walk onward without her.
  1720. >You glance back at her after a few seconds and catch a look in her eye.
  1721. >You can tell that despite your assurances, she seems even more determined.
  1725. "Marble? You've been in there for like an hour, and I still haven't showered."
  1726. >"Well I'm not the one who threw a poor, helpless mare into a freezing lake," you hear her say with a slight giggle through the bathroom door.
  1727. "I hardly think you're "helpless". And besides-I'm the one who was cold," you retort, "You get to have all that warm fur," you say as your voice trails off.
  1728. >You decide to just give up and go back to your bed to wait for her to finish.
  1729. >Which gives you some time to think.
  1730. >To your surprise, you haven't seen Pinkie all that much, considering you're staying in her house.
  1731. >But damn is she a good host.
  1732. >Your sheets get washed everyday, and they're somehow always warm when it's time for bed.
  1733. >You wish you could tell her that all the hospitality isn't necessary, or at the very least, tell her thank you.
  1734. >Maybe you and Marble should pay her a visit tomorrow.
  1735. >But you can think about all of that later.
  1736. >Right now, you think you've earned a bit of a pat on that back.
  1737. >You managed to get Marble out of the house all day today, which is definitely progress.
  1738. >Hopefully you'll be able to keep this up.
  1739. >You're certain that if you can get Marble going, then she'll be able to keep it up on her own.
  1740. >She's a strong mare.
  1741. >You aren't sure if anyone but you or Limestone knows it, but Marble has more to her than she lets on-or may even know herself.
  1742. >You're thinking is interrupted by Marble coming out of the bathroom with a white towel draped around the back of her neck.
  1743. >The towel slowly sways back and forth as Marble comes to a stop in front of you.
  1744. >And suddenly you don't remember how to think.
  1745. >She looks down at you with her huge purple eyes.
  1746. >Drops of water dripping down her face.
  1747. >Her wet mane sticking to her neck.
  1748. >And suddenly you forget how to breath.
  1749. >You've been looking at this little pony all day, but now you can't seem to look at anything besides her.
  1750. >You'd think you would have already realized how cute her mane looks.
  1751. >"What? D-did I miss a spot?" Marble starts nervously examining herself in search of dirt.
  1752. "No-no. Sorry, I was just thinking about something," you quickly blurt out.
  1753. >She roughly runs the towel over her head and rump, trying to get as much water out of her hair as she can.
  1754. >She doesn't notice you're still watching her.
  1755. >She hangs the towel over a chair once she's finished, and leaps into bed.
  1756. >She takes a few seconds to shuffle around, trying to find the perfect spot under the covers; then she settles down, one of her hind legs sticking out from under the blankets.
  1757. >Your eyes hover over her thigh for longer than you expect.
  1758. >Her face turns red and she pulls the covers up. "Wh-what are you l-looking at?"
  1759. >You snap out of it.
  1760. "-Shit sorry nothing-I was just thinking about-what we should do tomorrow."
  1761. >"You have more plans?" she sounded kind of hesitant.
  1762. "Well I was thinking... Shouldn't we go see your sister? Maud, I mean?" You knew you would have to broach this topic at some point if you truly want to help Marble; you only hoped you would've had more time to think about how exactly you would do it.
  1763. >But she caught you off guard and distracted.
  1764. >It was the only excuse you could come up with.
  1765. >Her face looses its blush as she looks down. She covers even more of herself with the blanket, only showing her bashful eyes.
  1766. >"She'll b-be... mad. I-it's not l-like we have t-to..."
  1767. "Of course we do," you keep your voice soft, "I mean, if I was her... I'd feel pretty bad that you haven't come to see me."
  1768. >"But you aren't her. And you d-don't know a-a thing a-about her," she half-whispers back in an argumentative tone.
  1769. "I know she's your sister."
  1770. >"Th-that doesn't make a d-d-difference."
  1771. "It should," you say coldly.
  1772. >Marble instantly notices the change in your voice.
  1773. >You can see her whole manner turn submissive.
  1774. >Despite your voice being nowhere near as harsh as some of the things you've heard Limestone say, Marble gives into you without another moment of resistance.
  1775. >You look away from her and hang your head.
  1776. >You unconsciously start rubbing the back of your neck.
  1777. "Marble, I can't let you give up on that relationship," you make sure you don't sound too stern.
  1778. >She squeaks quietly in response.
  1779. >You take your hand off your neck.
  1780. "I know you'll regret it if you go on without talking," you glance back at Marble as you finish. You look down at her huge purple eyes, and you can't keep your voice from cracking.
  1781. >Looking at her instantly demolishes a wall you were desperately trying to keep standing.
  1782. >Marble seizes the opportunity without hesitation.
  1783. >"How do you know that?" she says smoothly.
  1784. >She sounds just like a mother who only wants her son to be honest with her.
  1785. >Like a mother who desperately wants you to tell her how you feel.
  1786. >Like her one priority is to help you, but you won't let her.
  1787. >Her voice doesn't even sound like hers, but you still recognize it.
  1788. >You know exactly who she sounds like.
  1789. >You'd know that voice anywhere, but you never expected to hear it here.
  1790. >And then both of your hands are on the back of your neck, your elbows pointing straightforward.
  1791. >You never should have brought this up.
  1792. >You wipe your eyes on your arm, hiding you face from Marble's.
  1793. >And then, in that same voice, she says the one thing you wish you could have heard before you left Earth.
  1794. >"You're a strong man, Anonymous."
  1795. >For the second time tonight, Marble makes you forget how to breath.
  1796. >You keep your face hidden in your arm.
  1797. >If you can't get yourself under control, Marble is going to continue to be able to read every emotion that you feel.
  1798. >And then you'd have to tell her everything.
  1799. >But you're already too far gone.
  1800. >Nothing in the world can stop the torrent welling up in your heart now.
  1801. >Marble knew the one thing to say to get you like this.
  1802. "Marble," you try your best to keep sound steady, "I-I think its time for bed."
  1803. >You lay down on your bed and drag the covers over yourself just like Marble did.
  1804. >You glance at her as you do, and notice shes sitting up on her own bed.
  1805. >You face away from her, trying to her out of your head.
  1806. >Trying to get who she reminds you of out of your head.
  1807. >"I'm here if you need to talk."
  1808. >That just forced your fold.
  1809. >You snort.
  1810. >You chuckle softly as your vision gets blurry.
  1811. >You feel wet droplets race their way down your cheek as you say, "That's what my mom told me, Marble," your voice sounds more croaky and torn than it ever has since you came to Equestria.
  1812. "She said those exact same words..."
  1813. >You feel your heartbeat start to pick up speed.
  1814. "And I abandoned her," you spit out the words like its shameful to even have them on your tongue, "I turned my back on her, and everyone else that tried to help."
  1815. >You suddenly remember her question.
  1816. "How do I know you'll regret it? Because I regret it!"
  1817. >You pull your legs up to your chest.
  1818. "I had an older brother. We hadn't spoken in years... And now-I'll never see him again: never be able to tell him that I'm sorry-... But my mom, she never gave. She always tried to get me talk to her, up until the day I..."
  1819. >You don't finish, and Marble doesn't press.
  1820. >She doesn't say anything, or make any kind of sound at all.
  1821. >And you're thankful for it.
  1822. >You can't do anything but close your eyes and try to calm down.
  1823. >You slow your breathing in an attempt to get your heart to settle.
  1824. >After a few minutes, you feel brave enough to risk a glance behind you.
  1825. >You see Marble, sitting frozen solid, but not nearly as cold as ice.
  1826. >As soon as your eyes meet, you know there's nothing to worry about it.
  1827. >"I-I get it. I w-want to go see Maud...But I need you to promise me something."
  1828. >You sit silent.
  1829. >"Promise me you're okay."
  1830. "I promise," your voice cracks again.
  1831. >Though this time it isn't from on onslaught of emotions.
  1832. >It's from looking this mare in the eye, and lying to her.
  1833. >And that isn't the kind of thing she can see straight through.
  1837. >You pray to Celestia that Anon doesn't wake you up.
  1838. >You're already awake, but he doesn't know that.
  1839. >How could he, he's asleep.
  1840. >But he can't stay that way for too much longer; now is about the time he usually gets both of you out of bed.
  1841. >You've got the blanket pulled over your head, and you try to think about keeping your breath shallow and rhythmic.
  1842. >You like to think that you're pretty good at pretending to be asleep.
  1843. >But you being asleep hasn't stopped Anon before now, so there's no reason to think that it will this time.
  1844. >But you still hope it will.
  1845. >All these early mornings and active days have replaced what you actually wanted.
  1846. >As soon you found out Pinkie would be giving you a place to stay, you had hoped that meant you could go back to doing the same thing you always used to do when you didn't have any work, sleep.
  1847. >But you haven't gotten a day to yourself since leaving home; which was more than two weeks ago.
  1848. >And that's more than enough time to tire you out from social, and physical activity.
  1849. >You wonder for a moment what Lime has been up to.
  1850. >You haven't seen her since you went to say hello to Maud.
  1851. >It's probably been the longest time you've ever gone without seeing her.
  1852. >It's not that you're trying to avoid her, you've just been...
  1853. >Busy.
  1854. >Maybe you should go see her tomorrow or something.
  1855. > despite your desire to avoid everypony you can today, you don't mind the fact that Anon is lying just across the room from you.
  1856. >It's not that you "don't mind" he's here; your're ecstatic he's here.
  1857. >Your heart beats subtly faster just thinking about it.
  1858. >You only wish you could hear his voice while you try and go back to sleep.
  1859. >"Marble? Marble, you up?" Anonymous asks, sounding very awake for somepony who just got out of bed.
  1860. >You take back your wish.
  1861. >Your response is to continue to pretend to be asleep.
  1862. >You feel his hand gently shake you, "Marble? Get up, Marble."
  1863. >You ignore him, staying still and quiet.
  1864. >Which almost becomes impossible when he softly rests his hand on your barrel. Halfway between your belly and your back.
  1865. >Luna save you; his fingers feel heavenly.
  1866. >You hear him sigh.
  1867. >You feel his fingers close into a loose fist.
  1868. >He takes his hand off of you, and you hear him walk away after that.
  1869. >”Horse apples,” you mutter.
  1870. >Your hoof unconsciously starts rubbing the spot his hand was.
  1871. >You soon realize how heavy your breathing is.
  1872. >You're surprised Anon didn't notice that you're awake.
  1873. >He didn't try very hard to wake you, so it makes sense.
  1874. >He must have decided to go get coffee or something before making you get up.
  1875. >You wish you could somehow convince him to give up on coffee and just come back to bed.
  1876. >Maybe you can ask him if you get a rest day or something.
  1877. >Or of course you could just do whatever you want and not listen to what Anonymous has to say about it.
  1878. >But doing something like that isn't a realistic possibility.
  1879. >You should just go and talk to him.
  1880. >And so after a drawn out moan, you get out of bed.
  1881. >But before you can anything, you have to shower.
  1882. >As much as you don’t really think Anon cares, you still prefer to freshen up before seeing him.
  1884. >"Someone's up early," Anon says slyly before taking a sip of his coffee.
  1885. "Hehe," you laugh halfheartedly, "Has Pinkie already gone to Sugar-Cube-Corner?"
  1886. >He nods.
  1887. >You aren't able to put much thought into how absent Pinkies been before you're mission comes back to you.
  1888. >You stand in the doorway, nervously twisting one of your hooves into the floor, and brushing your mane over your face with the other.
  1889. "Uhm, Anon?"
  1890. >So far so good.
  1891. >"Yeah?"
  1892. "Wh-what do y-you say to uh-a uhm, staying home today?"
  1893. >You see Anon's content expression fall slightly into disappointment.
  1894. >"You haven't been enjoying yourself."
  1895. "It's not that!" you blurt out as soon as you look up and see his face, "I really enjoy hanging out with y-y-you," you're only able to mutter the last word.
  1896. >"But."
  1897. "B-but..."
  1898. >It's way harder to get these words out than you thought it would be.
  1899. >You feel like you're being crushed by the weight of all Anon's broken expectations.
  1900. >Dear Celestia, all you're doing is telling somepony that you'd rather stay inside today.
  1901. >No normal pony would get torn up over this.
  1902. >What would Limestone think of you?
  1903. >Probably the same thing she's always thought of you.
  1904. "But is it okay if I stay in today? You can go do whatever though," you get the words out faster than you have time to think them over.
  1905. >"But there's so much to do out there. We've only scratched the surface of what we could do. Maybe we could even look for work."
  1906. >He sees the looks on your face, and tries again, "Come on, there has got to be something you want to do."
  1907. >Your eyes fall to the floor and your hoof twisting gets weaker,"Y-yeah, okay, l-lets g-go out."
  1908. >You sorry excuse for a mare.
  1909. >You couldn't even manage this.
  1910. >You can hear Limestone's voice mocking you in your head.
  1911. >"Really, Marble? How did you ever manage to run away if you can't even hold your ground for this one little thing?"
  1912. >"Don't worry so much. I know we'll find something you'll click with," Anon says, trying to reassure you.
  1913. >You can't help yourself from glancing up at him, and as you see his face, you're almost certain that he's trying to reassure himself even more.
  1917. >You take a sip of your drink.
  1918. >You hate to say it, but you're thankful you ran into Twilight that first time.
  1919. >You may not have found this place on your own; it's really hidden.
  1920. >Wouldn't want to expose all these innocent village-ponies to the dangers of a bar, you suppose.
  1921. >You snort.
  1922. >You even feel like the coats of the ponies here are colored brighter than back home.
  1923. >Thankfully, you don't see much of other ponies.
  1924. >You spend your days helping Maud out with whatever rock projects she's working on; and your nights are spent right here.
  1925. >You've never had enough time, bits, or freedom to go out very often, but now you have plenty of each.
  1926. >The last of which you've been enjoying the most.
  1927. >You feel like you've been missing out all your life.
  1928. >You take another sip of your drink.
  1929. >You glance to your right and see a good looking, dark yellow coated stallion sitting next to you.
  1930. >You've seen him before, but never talked to him.
  1931. >You've noticed him glance at you too, so you assumed he'd approach you first.
  1932. >But so far, no luck.
  1933. >You've tried your best to avoid everypony you can so far; but you don't think you'd mind spending some time with this stallion.
  1934. >You glance to your left, and see a blue mare staring right at your stallion.
  1935. >You put your drink down, and glare at her for a few seconds, trying to make sure she doesn't get any ideas. But she ignores you and just keeps eyeing that stallion.
  1936. "Fuck it," you mutter roughly before changing seats, picking the one right next to the stallion.
  1937. >You lean on the counter, trying your best to block the other mares view.
  1938. >As soon as you sit down, he starts to smile with a unique air of confidence.
  1939. >Its one hell of a smile too.
  1940. >"You're new to town, aren't you?" He immediately tries to get the conversation going. Sounding exceptionally casual.
  1941. >You can tell he knows what he's doing.
  1942. "How would you know that. Have you been watching me or something?"
  1943. >He catches the hint of playfulness in your tone, "Maybe a little. You've become somewhat of a regular here, and the only ponies that visit this place are regulars."
  1944. "That so huh?"
  1945. >"Well, mostly. So, where're you from?"
  1946. "Some tiny little town south of here. You wouldn't know it."
  1947. >You decide to follow his lead of sounding casual, but it doesn't come nearly as natural to you as it seams to for him.
  1948. >"Try me. I've been all over Equestria. I'm Train Car, by the way. But call me Car."
  1949. >Your mouths turns up into a small smile, "I think I can guess why you've traveled so much."
  1950. >He chuckles softly, "I'd be worried if you couldn't."
  1951. "I'm Limestone."
  1952. >"Very nice to meet you Limestone. So, what's that towns name?"
  1953. >You scrunch your nose slightly, "I'd rather not talk about that."
  1954. >"No worries. Hey, some time away always helps me to get a better perspective on things."
  1955. "I don't need to change my perspective, I need to move on."
  1956. >Great. Here you are, talking about it. Yet, you don't change the topic.
  1957. >"Anypony who wants to move on won't get very far unless they're able to get past where they came from." You see him think for a moment before continuing, "And take it from me, frequenting a bar won't get you away from anything."
  1958. "Bullshit. This is the one thing that's pushing me forward," your retort sharply.
  1959. >You glare at him, but you can't look him in the eyes for very long.
  1960. "Is this what you do?" you come back quickly, "You go to bars and convince mares to come home with you by acting like you care? I mean what is this, some sort of surprise therapy session?"
  1961. >He backs off, "Sorry-sorry..."
  1962. "So you get to travel a lot, hm?" you say, softening your voice as much as you're able.
  1963. >"Yeah, for work. But when I'm home, this is my usual hangout."
  1964. "Do you like it?"
  1965. >"I love it."
  1966. "I... think it would be nice to do that."
  1967. >"Yeah? Well you know-"
  1968. >"Hey!"
  1969. >You turn you head and see the blue mare from earlier standing there, completely ignoring you.
  1970. >"I'm Sky, and I just wanted to see if you'd like to come to a party my friend is throwing."
  1971. >You hear Car's voice respond, but you have no idea what he said.
  1972. >Every ounce of your attention is stuck to this mare.
  1973. >This mare who snuck up on you out of nowhere, and is trying to steal your stallion.
  1974. >You try your best to scare her off with a look, but she stills pays you no mind.
  1975. >Just as suddenly as she appeared, you get tunnel vision.
  1976. >You can't think about anything else other than how much you hate the stupid smile on that mares face.
  1977. >Then, she puts a hoof on his shoulder.
  1978. >You're off you seat quicker than either of them can notice, but just in time for the mare to look at you and perfectly expose her face for a punch.
  1979. >You swing at her without a second thought.
  1980. >A mixture of your strength and the surprise causes her to fall over and crash into the floor with a yelp.
  1981. >She looks up at you with wet eyes and a red face, clearly terrified.
  1982. >She's too stunned to do anything else.
  1983. >For a single heartbeat, you relish the look of fear in her purple eyes.
  1984. >In the next heartbeat, you lose yourself in those purple eyes.
  1985. >And after that, and for the first time in your life, you think to yourself, "What would Marble do?".
  1986. >But you don't have time to think about it before you're outside in the cold night air.
  1987. >You stomp down the dark, Ponyville streets, not sure where you're going.
  1988. "She wouldn't have done that, that's for sure," you mutter to yourself.
  1989. >"Limestone?"
  1990. >You turn around, expecting to see Car standing there.
  1991. >But its Twilight.
  1992. >Where the fuck did she come from?
  1993. >You don't respond, you just look at her.
  1994. >She slowly steps toward you.
  1995. >"You look so tense. I-is everything okay?" she speaks slowly and carefully, like she's afraid she is going to set you off.
  1996. >You respond, still driven by instinct, "No."
  1997. >She jumps at the chance to talk, "What's wrong?"
  1998. >You stand there, breathing heavily
  1999. >Still not calm.
  2000. >Still hardly able to think.
  2001. "I don't know how to move on."
  2005. >Maybe you shouldn’t have forced Marble to come with you.
  2006. >You thought she was just a little tired this morning; but it’s past lunch and she is still in a bad mood.
  2007. >Not rude or anything, -you could never even picture her being rude- just unresponsive.
  2008. >You imagine this must be how she acts with most other ponies she meets, minus the bashfulness.
  2009. >But over the past few weeks, you thought you had become... more.
  2010. >In fact, you’re certain you have; so you shouldn’t be letting this get to you as much as it is.
  2011. >But no matter how much you try and use reason to convince yourself that you have nothing to worry about, your worry is still incessant.
  2012. >You don’t even know what exactly it is you’re so worried about.
  2013. >Its as if you think Marble is going to stop being your friend or something.
  2014. >And just the thought of that is making your heart beat uncomfortably fast.
  2015. "So, Marble!" you say, taking great care not to sound nervous.
  2016. >You look down at her, as she walks beside you.
  2017. "What else do you want to do today? I feel like we did so much and its only midday ahaha."
  2018. >Marble sways her head slightly, not looking at you.
  2019. >After a couple of seconds, she sighs, and says, "I don't know, Anon."
  2020. >You stare at her for a few seconds, hoping to get her to look at you.
  2021. >But she doesn't
  2022. "Marble?" you say, trying to sound slightly more serious.
  2023. >It still takes a few seconds, but this time Marble's response sounds like she's actually paying attention.
  2024. >"Hmm?"
  2025. "What's the matter?" you say, voice soft.
  2026. >She doesn't make a sound, but you notice she's keeping her eyes shut tight.
  2027. >"Nothing."
  2028. "come on now," you say simply, "I can tell something's bothering you."
  2029. >"It's nothing, really. I'm just a bit tired."
  2030. "You'd rather go home?" your tone is only half questioning. You could easily guess the answer on your worst day.
  2031. >"Y-yeah," she says quietly.
  2032. >Then she straighten her shoulders, and raises her chin slightly.
  2033. >"Yeah," she says again, louder, "I just... Anonymous I don't want to... I think..."
  2034. >Her whole posture has taken on one of confidence, or at the very least, it's no longer bashful.
  2035. >You can tell Marble knows exactly what she needs to communicate, she just struggles to find the right words.
  2036. >No doubt her fear of hurting you is getting in her way.
  2037. >You stop walking and get on one knee, becoming eye level with her.
  2038. "Just say it, Marble. It's okay. It's not like I'm going to get mad or anything."
  2039. >"But you might... I can tell you're not being totally h-honest with me."
  2040. >Your heart stops beating.
  2041. "Marble. I-"
  2042. >"I see how you look at me. Like you're... disappointed."
  2043. >You sigh.
  2044. "Oh, Marble. No."
  2045. >False alarm.
  2046. >"You have to drag me out of bed, every single morning. All I want to do is lie there, but I can't even get the courage to say that without feeling like... I-I-I'm useless. And now that I finally have a friend, I think about how much better you are than me. Y-you should just f-forget about me, Anonymous."
  2047. "Marble."
  2048. >You cup her face in your hand.
  2049. >You haven't gotten the chance to touch a lot of ponies, so you forgot how soft they really are.
  2050. >Their warmth and smoothness feels like it was made to be felt.
  2051. >You can't help but raise your other hand to her face as well.
  2052. >You stay there for a moment, staring into her wet, purple eyes.
  2053. "Oh Marble. That's not true," you croak, "I know how much you're worth, and how much more you will be. I want the best for you. I need the best for you, because..."
  2054. >To hell with it.
  2055. "Because the only reason I'm in this world in the first place is because I failed in the last one, so I left. Marble I swear to whatever god exist in this dimension, that I'm not giving up on you. I can't."
  2056. >"Anonymous."
  2057. >Marble looks like she'll break at any second.
  2058. >You've never seen someone overcome with so much emotion before.
  2059. "Come on, let's go home."
  2063. >You're back in bed.
  2064. >And he's staring at you.
  2065. >He just woke, and you're laying next to him.
  2066. >There's a good few feet between your beds, but it feels like he's right beside you.
  2067. >And he won't stop looking at you.
  2068. >You've never seen that look before, on anypony.
  2069. >You feel like he's studying you; like he's trying to uncover something buried within you.
  2070. >It makes you feel guilty.
  2071. >He's pretty much everything there is to you now, thanks to your outburst earlier today.
  2072. >Why couldn't you just go along with him?
  2073. >You were able to "Just go along with" your farm duties your entire life.
  2074. >So why did it feel like so much of you was coaxing you to be honest with him?
  2075. >And look where it got you: back in bed.
  2076. >Only now, you feel worse; like you let Anon down.
  2077. >But he still won't stop looking at you.
  2078. >Whenever you make eye contact with him, he looks away, like he notices how weird what he's doing is.
  2079. >Maybe you should just let him look, he'd soon realize there's nothing to look at anyway.
  2080. >But oddly, you find it hard to look away from him.
  2081. >Except when you make eye contact, then you notice what you're doing, and quickly look away.
  2082. >The whole thing just feels so awkward.
  2083. >It's not like you're scared to look at Anonymous anymore.
  2084. >So why do you get so flustered when you do?
  2085. >And why does he?
  2086. >"Hey..."
  2087. "Hi..."
  2088. >How long have you been here again?
  2089. >It can't have been more than a few hours since you got back to Pinkie's house.
  2090. >Though it seems like forever.
  2091. >But then again, this is what you wanted, so may as well enjoy the fact that it feels endless.
  2092. >"I didn't realize how tired I've been," he say's, sounding apprehensive, "I nap was exactly what I needed..."
  2093. >You wish you had been able to sleep, but you aren't totally upset that you got to watch him sleep instead.
  2094. >The moment you heard his soft breathing, you were captivated.
  2095. >You were worried he might start to have a nightmare again, but thankfully, he slept like a rock.
  2096. >So you got to sit back and watch.
  2097. "Yeah, hehe."
  2098. >"How'd you sleep?"
  2099. "Fine..."
  2100. >"Ah, good, good..."
  2101. >You find yourself unconsciously covering the blanket over your head.
  2102. >"You understand where I'm coming from, right? I-I mean, I really do want the best for you."
  2103. >You're thankful to be hidden from his eyes.
  2104. >Though you feel safe, you can't bare the weight of the blanket.
  2105. >You've never thought your heart could feel this heavy from avoiding somepony; you've done it for your entire life, after all.
  2106. "Why?" you force yourself to say, "It's not like you're my d-dad or anything."
  2107. >He thinks for a second.
  2108. >"I don't know. You're my friend, it's typical for people to want the best for their friends. It's just... I've never had a friend like you before. That is to say, someone I really cared about, and truly wanted the best for."
  2109. >Your chest won't stop pounding.
  2110. >Hearing him talk like this is almost unbearable.
  2111. >It's like a he's stabbing his heart straight into yours.
  2112. >Like he's drowning you in your own feelings.
  2113. >And you know it'll kill you, unless you open up the same way he is.
  2114. >"I don't know what to do. I know I can't do nothing, or I'll end up the same way I was on Earth. But I've never... Adored someone before, so how am I meant to know how to go about acting on it..."
  2115. >You realize he's waiting for you to answer, but you've never been more afraid to respond to somepony in your life.
  2116. >All you can think about is how much you want to rip the blanket off and run over to him.
  2117. >But you can't even get enough control of yourself to quiet your breathing.
  2118. >Just before your heart explodes, your mouth moves on its own.
  2119. "What does your gut tell you?"
  2120. >"Well it just told me to tell you all that. But now?... It's telling me to get closer to you..."
  2121. "So do it."
  2122. >Your face feels so hot you'd think it caught fire.
  2123. >You lower the blanket to allow yourself to see Anonymous get up from his bed, and slowly make his way to yours.
  2124. >You both stare at each other, and now neither of you are able to look away.
  2125. >Before you know what you're doing, you scoot over, making a space for Anon to lay next to you.
  2126. >He pauses as he hovers over you and gives you a look.
  2127. >You give him a swift nod, and open up your arm, inviting him under the blanket.
  2128. >While doing so, you expose yourself completely to him.
  2129. >You see his eye glint slightly as he takes one last quick look at you.
  2130. >And this time, you find yourself hoping he likes what he sees.
  2131. >Anon then starts to lay down beside you, moving carefully and deliberately.
  2132. >Once he's settled, he lets out a heavy breath.
  2133. >You feel its heat spread across your face.
  2134. >There's not enough room on the bed, so your legs are forced to touched him.
  2135. >Your forehooves are pressed against his chest.
  2136. >His hand finds its way too one of your hooves, wrapping around it and gently squeezing.
  2137. >Every motion he takes is tender.
  2138. >Like he's trying to start a fire with nothing but cinders.
  2139. >And you lay there, watching him, as he watches you.
  2140. >You can't tell who's more nervous, but that doesn't feel important.
  2141. >Nothing feels important.
  2145. >"I see... So, are you going to do anything about it?" Twilight says, sitting on a chair across the room from the couch you're on.
  2146. "Like what, Twilight? You're the Princess of Friendship, so how do I go about becoming friends with my family again?"
  2147. >"Well you're already pretty close to Maud, right? How'd you do that?"
  2148. >You chuckle.
  2149. "Maud is a bit of an outlier. We get along because we stay out of each others serious business, unless she starts acting the older sister and scolds me."
  2150. >"And how do you respond when that happens?"
  2151. "What do you mean? I don't. I sit there and listen to her."
  2152. >"Why do you think it's so hard to do that with your parents?"
  2153. "Celestia," you groan, "I didn't come here for you to dissect my brain. Really, Twilight, you sound like a shrink."
  2154. >"Then why did you come here?"
  2155. "I think there might have been a reason; but now that I'm sobering up, it's getting really hard to remember what it was."
  2156. >You see Twilight wings flex slightly.
  2157. >She narrows her eyes and lets out a very un-princess-like sigh.
  2158. >"Limestone, I can't help you if you're going to act like this."
  2159. "That's fine with me. What makes you think I need you're help anyway?"
  2160. >"Because you obviously had a meltdown, and you obviously hate yourself for leaving home, and you obviously hate the fact that Marble is depending on Anonymous more than you."
  2161. "... That's not true."
  2162. >"Limestone," she sounds like she's talking to a stray dog, "You really don't have to fight so much."
  2163. "It's not true! I hate the fact that you won't leave me alone, always fallowing me around. You're not my mother, Twilight, I don't need you to make sure I get home safe."
  2164. >"Ponies care about you. Why are you so sacred to accept that?"
  2165. "You mean the sister who's only letting me crash at her place because we're family? Or the one who forgot about me the moment a guy showed her the smallest amount of attention? Or the parents who haven't even bothered to go after their daughters who ran away?"
  2166. >You get up from your seat and start pacing in front of the couch.
  2167. >"What about me?"
  2168. "You're the Princess of Friendship. This is your job."
  2169. >"It's my job for a reason, Limestone. It's my job because I genuinely want to help ponies who need it."
  2170. "I already told you, I don't need it."
  2171. >She doesn't respond for a few seconds.
  2172. >A part of you thinks she might be starting to give up.
  2173. >You glance at her with a slightly anxious look.
  2174. >She stares back at you, clearly trying to think something through.
  2175. >You sit back on your rump to wait for her to say something.
  2176. >But instead, she gets up and cast a teleportation spell.
  2177. >She disappears with a flash, leaving you wondering what you should do.
  2178. >You feel yourself getting angrier.
  2179. >She could've at least told you she was done talking to you.
  2180. >Just as you start to leave, there's another flash, and Twilight is back.
  2181. >And she's got a whole bunch of alcohol levitating in front of her.
  2183. >"I see..."
  2184. >You try to hide your giggle behind a hoof.
  2185. "No you don't! You just tried to take another swig!"
  2186. >"I'm a damn alicorn, I should be able to refill this bottle in a blink of an eye."
  2187. "Whoa there, you're the great, Twilight Sparkle - you not let any of the little fillies or colts hear you use a word like that."
  2188. >Twilight blushes, "Okay, maybe I have had a bit much."
  2189. >You both let out a heavy sigh and sink deeper into your chairs.
  2190. "I never would have expected that you drink."
  2191. >"Well, I usually never do," she belches, "But when it comes to spending time with Celestia when she's not working: if you can't hang, you're not worth her time. So I have to be able to at least hold it in."
  2192. >You let out a huge a huge spurt of laughter.
  2193. "Nuh-uh!"
  2194. >"Oh, Limestone. Oh oh oh, Limestone. You would be amazed. She's such a big mare, she can hold so much!"
  2195. >She puts a hoof to her chin in thought.
  2196. >"Maybe Anonymous would be able to keep up with her."
  2197. >You make a face, and Twilight notices.
  2198. >"Oh, right, sorry. Touchy subject."
  2199. "It's not like I have a problem with him or anything..."
  2200. >"-But."
  2201. "But... nothing, I guess. From what I've seen of him, he seems like a very able stallion. And he likes Marble, and Marble likes him, so maybe that's the only thing that should really matter..."
  2202. >"-But."
  2203. "But I still worry about her. I guess it's because I've never spent so much time away from her before. I just need to relax."
  2204. >"Why don't you go see her, then?"
  2205. >You hesitate for a long moment.
  2206. "Why hasn't she come to see me? She's probably sick of me, and thankful to finally have an out."
  2207. >"She's more than likely just enjoying her new friends company. It's only natural for two new friends to spend a lot of time together, especially if they like each other. Oh! I gotta tell Cadance Anon has finally found a lover!"
  2208. "I wouldn't go that far. It may be obvious to anypony else that they have feelings, but I'm sure it'll take a good while before they act on them."
  2209. >Twilight looks disappointed, "Yeah, I guess so."
  2210. "Besides, why would you tell Cadance about it?"
  2211. >Twilight purple face turns a hint of red.
  2212. >"It's nothing, really. She's just got this thing for matchmaking ponies together. And she has a pretty good track record with it too."
  2213. "What in Equestria did she have to do with Marble and Anonymous, though?"
  2214. >"She's the one who sent Anon to live in your old town in the first place. Don't ask how, but I betcha she knew what what was going to happen."
  2215. "Hm..."
  2216. >The conversation starts to die, but neither of you decide to do anything about it.
  2217. >You suspect that Twilight might be getting tired.
  2218. >It is pretty late, after all.
  2219. >So you sit there, and think about whether you're ever going to speak to Twilight again.
  2220. >It's not like you have no idea what she's doing.
  2221. >The only reason she was willing to drink with you was in hopes you would open up to her.
  2222. >So you gave her a little a little of what she wanted; hopefully enough to get her off your back for awhile.
  2223. >Though despite you're reserved feelings about all of this, you can't help but feel glad it happened.
  2224. >It's no doubt due to all you've drank, but you don't want the night to end.
  2225. >Twilight is not the kind of pony you'd normally get along with, but under the circumstances, you find it not so hard to be around he-
  2226. >"How close were you?"
  2227. "... What?"
  2228. >Twilight's face is as serious as you've ever seen it.
  2229. >"I mean, if I had to go through everything you have, I think I might be pretty close to the edge too. The only reason I've done all I have is because I have my friends around me, but you... Don't have any."
  2230. "Twilight, I don't really want to talk about-"
  2231. >"You were always closest to Marble, right, Limestone? And now for the first time in your life, you're away from her. And she's having a better social life than you."
  2232. >You'd think she was trying to be mean, if it wasn't for the genuine pain you sense in her face and voice.
  2233. >"Whenever I remember back before the Element of Magic chose me, I can't help but think about what would have happened to me if I never met my friends... Limestone, I know you don't want to talk to me about any of that, and that's okay. But, I had fun tonight, and if you'd want, I'd like to do this again."
  2237. >You can't look at her, you can't even raise your head.
  2238. >You spilled your heart out to her yesterday, but now you have no idea what to say to her.
  2239. >You're both sitting across from one another at the breakfast table.
  2240. >And for what its worth, she can't look at you either.
  2241. >It's been this awkward from the moment you woke up.
  2242. >You don't even remember falling asleep.
  2243. >You just remember that one second you were lying in bed with Marble, and after that-she was gone.
  2244. >She woke up before you and was already in the shower.
  2245. >You sat up on the bed to wait for her to come out of the bathroom.
  2246. >You were thinking through ways to approach the subject of what exactly happened yesterday, and what it meant.
  2247. >But, as soon as you saw her-a towel around her neck and with her mane and fur damp, looking bashful as all hell-your mind went blank.
  2248. >Your heart started to race and you couldn't get your mouth to open.
  2249. >Then after seeing you, she stopped in her tracks and sat back on her rump, nervously crossing her forehooves.
  2250. >And she couldn't say anything either.
  2251. >Neither of you have said anything since you woke up.
  2252. >Part of you is worried that she may regret what happened last night.
  2253. >But you know for certain that you’d give anything to go back to being that close to her.
  2254. >You suddenly get the feeling like you're being watched.
  2255. >You raise you're head slightly and can see out of the corner of your eye that Marble is staring at you.
  2256. >You slowly lift your head to meet her face to face.
  2257. >"My, um... My mom used to t-tell me th-that honesty is extremely i-important to a r-relationship."
  2258. >You feel your chest tighten up as your mind imagines the worst possible things Marble could say next.
  2259. >"Last night made me very happy-"
  2260. "Me too," you say without thinking.
  2261. >Without looking away from you, Marble stands up and clears her throat.
  2262. >She looks nervous, but determined.
  2263. >"Anonymous, I-I need to tell you..." her gaze finally falls, with a heavy sigh from her, "I've never felt this way about a pony before," she says slowly, with a very deliberate cadence. "And I've never had a relationship like this with a pony before. I just know I'll mess it all up, by being me, so don't let me."
  2264. >You're shocked.
  2265. >Not only by her confession, but also how confident she's acting.
  2266. >It freezes you.
  2267. >The only thing you can think to do is stand up.
  2268. >Instantly you're three feet taller than her.
  2269. >She has to crane her neck to look at you.
  2270. >It seems awkward and uncomfortable.
  2271. >But some voice inside you tells you to stand up straight regardless.
  2272. >And you're able to listen to that voice.
  2273. >Marble is unable to take her eyes off you.
  2274. >Her gaze us fixed on you with an intense wanting.
  2275. >You stare straight back at her.
  2276. "I like you too."
  2277. >You see relief flood her eyes, then joy.
  2278. >She starts to bounce on her hooves like she's ready to jump at you.
  2279. "Marble, I like you because you're a strong, kind, adorable, and sweet little mare-"
  2280. >Marble leaps at you, wrapping herself around your chest in a hug.
  2281. >She couldn't help herself.
  2282. >You take a step back to keep from falling over.
  2283. >"Oh, Anon!"
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