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Red Sky (Complete)

AWF Oct 8th, 2017 (edited) 3,082 Never
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  1. Red Sky
  3. By: AWF
  5. > You life wasn't particularly good. The best you could say was that it was comfortable.
  6. > The government money was enough for you to scrape by, but you didn't live in luxury.
  7. > You had inherited a small apartment from your mother, so all you really had to do was pay the utilities, buy food and clean up every once in a while.
  8. > Maybe you forgot that last part sometimes, but you thought you did well enough.
  9. > Besides, all you needed were the bed and your computer. You didn't go outside much. All that shitposting didn't do itself.
  10. > And since no one came to visit, no one complained about the mess.
  11. > But lately your life had started to feel a little empty.
  12. > These technicolor ponies came out of nowhere and suddenly all of the Internet you frequented could talk of nothing else.
  13. > It seemed everyone had one. You knew that wasn't true. The creatures were rare and expensive as fuck. The fact that they closely resembled a children's cartoon didn't help keep their price low.
  14. > The only way to get them was on the black market and even that had dried out a few months ago.
  15. > The portals had vanished as suddenly as they had appeared.
  16. > Apparently there was a pony ambassador on Earth - Twilight Sparkle herself - who had orchestrated that little show.
  17. > You didn't have a TV, but you saw videos on YouTube. She looked a little worse for wear in the interviews, but people were taking notice.
  18. > By the looks of it, the whole slavery thing would be illegal soon.
  19. > It drove you mad.
  20. > You wanted one. A personal slave to help you around the house and cook.
  21. > That is what you told yourself during the day.
  22. > But the real reason was that you wanted to fuck one. I mean, come on - who didn't? Dat horse pussy!
  23. > No way in hell you could ever afford to buy a pony, and that was even if you knew where to find one.
  24. > You had almost stopped visiting the message boards because of the horrible jealousy and anger you felt each time someone posted a picture of their waifu.
  25. > It was completely unfair. You were prepared to settle for a lesser known character from the show. Even a completely unknown pony. Anything, really.
  26. > Except; it had to be a girl, but that wasn't too much to ask, right?
  27. > Most of their population seemed to be female anyway.
  28. > You were chewing through some Chinese food - delivered, of course - and trying in vain to come up with the money.
  29. > There were no savings to speak of in your account. You could sell the flat, but it wouldn't bring enough. And then you'd have to live in some shithole.
  30. > That is, if you could even afford it.
  31. > A nice shithole was expensive these days.
  32. > You had sold your mother's car for booze money a long time ago, so that was out of the question.
  33. > Maybe you could get a job, but without any education to speak of, it would be a minimum-wage crapfest. Maybe if you saved up for a million years it would be enough for a pony, but you didn't have that kind of time.
  34. > You were barely halfway through your second portion of duck chopsuey when you lost you appetite.
  35. > You put it on the table after pushing an empty soda can out of the way.
  36. > This pony thing was affecting you too much. On the other hand, maybe it would do you good to eat less.
  37. > Maybe it would even help you lose a few pounds. Two hundred fifty was near the upper average weight, no?
  38. > Your thoughts were interrupted by a loud crash, followed by a thump and the tinkle of glass.
  39. > It had come from your bedroom!
  40. > As quickly as you could, you uninstalled your generous frame from the chair and walked over.
  41. > It was a pony. You stopped in the doorway, unsure if you could believe your eyes. You quickly thought back over the past few days for a more logical explanation.
  42. > Alcohol? Just some light beer.
  43. > Drugs? No money.
  44. > Particularly hard hits to the head? No, you haven't done anything except sleep, eat and shitpost.
  45. > So it was probably real.
  46. > A pony on your bedroom floor, surrounded by what was left of your window.
  47. > It was a pegasus. Red coat and orange mane. Blue eyes. Feathers. The whole package.
  48. > You saw a collar, a thin band of metal encrusted with grime. Come to think of it, the whole pony was absolutely filthy.
  49. > The mane was messy and tangled, full of dry leaves and twigs. The tail looked it it was coated with glue and mud.
  50. > Even the wings were a mess. You were no expert, but there shouldn't have been all those holes between the feathers, should there?
  51. > The creature came to and spotted you. Its eyes grew wide in fear and you thought it would just take off again.
  52. > But it took just one look through the broken window and changed its mind. It huddled down, trying to hide behind a wing.
  53. > You took a step closer.
  54. "You're a- What are you doing here?"
  55. > It opened its mouth to speak and you could immediately tell it was a girl.
  56. > "Please, Mister! Don't throw me out. Just let me hide tonight. I don't want to go back!"
  57. > She was pleading with her tiny, trembling voice. Wherever she had come from, the pony obviously didn't want to go back.
  58. > You tried to get your thoughts in order.
  59. "Back where? What's going on?"
  60. > She approached you, grovelling. "M-my Master! He's after me. You gotta hide me. Please, I'll do anything. Just for one night, then I'll go!"
  61. > The urgency in her voice finally got you over the shock. You became aware of the sound of knocking on your front door.
  62. > The pony fell silent and you saw her breath catch. She was shivering and staring at you pleadingly. She glanced at the window, ready to bolt if she didn't like your response.
  63. > You quickly walked to your closet and opened it. You didn't have many clothes, so it was mostly empty. You motioned the pony inside and her expression transformed to gratitude.
  64. > She scrambled inside and you closed the door behind her. There was a red feather on the floor and you picked it up on a whim.
  65. "Stay quiet," you cautioned.
  66. > Then you went to answer the door.
  67. > You were faced with a very flustered man. Even before introducing himself he tried to peer around you.
  68. "Can I help you?"
  69. > He spotted the feather in your hand and pointed a finger at it. "You got my pony!"
  70. > You took a breath and kicked your brain into a higher gear. This would take all the bullshitting skills you had painfully acquired over the years by arguing with the teller at McDonald's.
  71. "Not anymore. It broke my window, messed up my room and winged it before I could even see what happened. This is all there's left."
  72. > You held your arm out and the man took the feather. His eyes narrowed in suspicion. "How do I know you're not lying? Ponies are worth a lot of money."
  73. > With the most nonchalant face you could muster you stepped aside.
  74. "Go and take a look what your stupid horse did. I'll be expecting some recompensation for my window, by the way."
  75. > He moved and you smoothly turned and walked in front. You were hoping the pony would be smart enough to keep her trap shut. Otherwise you could pretend she had hidden from you too.
  76. > But you had to pull it off. A pony of your own. Just thinking about it almost made you smile. You had to concentrate on your breathing to keep it regular, but you couldn't control your pounding heart.
  77. > Excitement and fear flooded you with the unfamiliar rush of adrenaline.
  78. > You made sure to cause a lot of noise when you entered the bedroom. You feigned righteous anger when you took in the state of your bedroom.
  79. "Just look at that! It's completely busted. It's gonna be expensive to fix."
  80. > The man took a quick glance around the room, but all the evidence was there. The wreckage. The damage. The feather in his hand. But no pony.
  81. > She was admirably quiet and you started to breathe a little easier. You went on with your spiel, trying to get the dude to stop thinking about the pegasus.
  82. > You didn't want him to search the room.
  83. "I'm gonna have to bring construction workers in. And I'll have to do it on short notice with the rain coming up."
  84. > You didn't watch the news, but it was always a good bet that some inclement weather was approaching.
  85. > The act worked! Your guest was already on the defensive. He raised his hands up, protectively. "Hey, wait. It's not that bad, looks like you just need new glass panes, no big deal."
  86. > You rounded up on him.
  87. "Like hell! The frame is broken. I'll be lucky if I get a new one that will fit the hinges. If your horse did that, this is on you. Or I can just call the cops and have them sort it out, whichever you'd like."
  88. > That got his attention. Owning ponies wasn't exactly illegal yet, but word might get out, making those pony fanatics come after him.
  89. > Some of those people were crazy.
  90. > He was quick to negotiate. "Okay, okay, I'm sorry. How much to fix this?"
  91. > You knew he had money. Owning a pony slave was enough of an indication.
  92. "Six hundred should do it, I think."
  93. > He gave you a false grin. "Come on, that's ridiculous, Mr.?"
  94. "Anon."
  95. > "Anon, look, new glass will cost you a hundred, tops. And even if you have to replace the frames, that's another hundred at most."
  96. > He was already taking out his wallet. He counted three bills and waved them in your face.
  97. > "Here's three hundred for your trouble, okay?"
  98. > You pretended to be uncertain.
  99. "I guess. Fine, just get out of my home."
  100. > He was only too happy to oblige. You escorted him to the front door.
  101. > "Look," he said back in the hallway. "If the pony comes back or if you see something around here, gimme a call, would you?"
  102. > He gave you a card, but it didn't have a name. Just a cell number. Now you were sure the guy was doing something illegal. It was obviously a burner phone.
  103. "Sure thing, Mr.?"
  104. > He didn't skip a beat before giving you a false name. "Smith," he said.
  105. > Quite unoriginal.
  106. > The man quickly made his escape, but before you could get back inside, the old lady next door was in your face.
  107. > She wasn't too bad. Mrs. Arbuckle had her quirks, but you got along well with her.
  108. > She had been a friend of your mother's, after all.
  109. > "Everything okay, Anon? I heard an awful lot of noise earlier."
  110. > You decided to tell her some of the truth, just in case the guy tried to verify your story.
  111. > Telling Mrs. Arbuckle was the same as telling everyone in the building.
  112. "Nothing to worry about. That man's pony damaged my window and he was just over to apologise and pay for it. It's fine."
  113. > She gave you a friendly smile. "Oh, that was nice of him. Bye Anon!"
  114. > You closed the door and leaned against it. Your knees were shaking a little and you could hardly believe your lies had worked.
  115. > Maybe you should have been an actor or something.
  116. > Then you remembered. You had a pony in your bedroom.
  117. > The excitement made you forget about the sleazy guy and the kindly neighbor.
  118. > Finally, a pegasus of your own!
  119. > You couldn't wait to meet her properly.
  121. > ~~~~
  123. > Your bedroom was silent, except for the faint sounds of the street below your busted window.
  124. > Yeah, you would need to get that fixed before the weather really did turn nasty. You remembered the banknotes in your hand and stuffed them into a pocket.
  125. > Then your looked at your wardrobe. Now that it was actually happening, you suddenly didn't know what to say.
  126. "Uh, you can come out now."
  127. > After a few seconds, the door opened slowly and the mare peeked out.
  128. > Her eyes landed on you with a strange mixture of relief and fear. After a moment, hear ears fell and she lowered her gaze.
  129. > "T-thank you, Master," she said quietly. "S-sorry about your win-window."
  130. > You took a few steps closer and leaned down.
  131. "Don't worry about that. What's your name?"
  132. > She was uncomfortable with the question, judging by the way she looked down and shuffled her feet.
  133. > "What- whatever you want it to be, M-master," she said demurely. "Last Master called me 'Slut'."
  134. "What? That's horrible."
  135. > She looked up at you in surprise, but her gaze slid away from your face. There was a hint of embarrassment in her cheeks.
  136. > "It was better than some."
  137. "No, I want to know what your real name is. The one your parents gave you."
  138. > Her ears perked up just as her jaw dropped. "Y-you do?" she mumbled in surprise. Her eyes were glistening with tears and you started to worry you had said something wrong.
  139. > "Red S-sky, Master," she answered at last. "B-before I was- before I came here, my name was Red Sky."
  140. > She was studying you intently, no doubt sizing up what sort of an owner you were.
  141. > Faced with an actual slave, your resolve wavered. Maybe you didn't really want to own another sentient being.
  142. > Your doubt must have showed on your face because the pegasus nearly went into a panic.
  143. > "No, no, no, please don't send me away, Mas-master! I don't want to go back!"
  144. > She all but leapt out of the closet and wrapped her hooves around your ankles. Her snout was buried in your pant leg as she kissed it desperately.
  145. > "I'll do anything, Master! Jus- just let me stay."
  146. > You were too shocked at the display to answer, so her pleading increased in speed and urgency.
  147. > "Just a few days," she said and began to sob miserably. "P-p-please, Master!"
  148. > Finally your brain switched back on.
  149. "Yeah, of course. I won't send you away, don't worry."
  150. > Red Sky's gratitude was palpable. She kissed your pants again with renewed vigor, then she smiled up at you.
  151. > "Thank you! Oh, thank you, M-master!"
  152. > You smiled faintly in return. Her joy was adorable.
  153. > Sky lifted herself up and took a step back. Her voice took on a more serious note and her ears flattened.
  154. > "I'll be good, Master, you'll see! I'll do everything you want."
  155. > With that, she turned around and lowered her head to the floor. Her rear was up in the air and you wondered what she meant by the gesture.
  156. > "W-would you like m-me?" she said, her voice breaking. "I can- I'll be a good lit-little mare for Master."
  157. > Her legs were trembling slightly and it sounded as if she was about to cry again, but you hardly noticed. Already you were at full mast.
  158. > Something about the way she prostrated herself was deeply uncomfortable, but you took one look at her rump and the thought was squashed before making itself known.
  159. > The way she lifted her tail away from herself seemed very inviting.
  160. > Your pants were on the verge of breaking from the pressure and you took an involuntary step forward.
  161. > The mare sobbed quietly and your conscience finally flared up.
  162. "I.. uh. Wow. Are you sure? I mean, you don't have to-"
  163. > Her voice came muffled, as if she was gritting her teeth. "P-please, Master. I'll be a good mare, just be gentle with me."
  164. > The next part she said much more quietly. You got the feeling you weren't meant to hear it.
  165. > "I don't wanna go back. Anything's better than the old Master," she mumbled, fervently.
  166. > You pushed your doubt away. She was offering, after all. You even asked her to confirm it. Even while you were working to convince yourself what you were about to do wasn't wrong, your pants hit the floor.
  167. > The pony flinched when you put your hand on her rump, but then she steadied herself, taking a deep breath.
  168. > The smell was bad and reminded you how filthy she was. The backs of her legs were encrusted with grime. You hoped it was mud, but somehow you knew it wasn't really.
  169. "Wait."
  170. > The pony glanced back at you in surprise. She saw that your pants were down and her look became one of confusion.
  171. > "M-master? What's wrong?"
  172. "You're dirty and you stink, Sky."
  173. > She gave a small gasp and whirled around, hiding her backside. She huddled down and put her wings over her face protectively.
  174. > "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to," she squeaked. "I'll make myself pretty, please M-master. Jus-just give me a chance."
  175. > She desperately began licking her leg, smearing the dirt around. Her efforts left her fur marginally cleaner, but you shuddered to imagine the taste.
  176. > It wasn't good, judging by her involuntary grimace.
  177. > You reached out your hand and caught her by the chin.
  178. "Wait. Don't do that, it's gross."
  179. > She paused with her tongue still poking out. It would be cute if it weren't so sad.
  180. > She pulled it back in and her ears perked up.
  181. > "Would- would Master like to hose me down instead?" She sounded hopeful. Even something as unpleasant as being sprayed with a garden hose was probably better than having to lick herself clean.
  182. "No. Let's just give you a proper bath, okay?"
  183. > The way her eyes grew wide in shock made you stare. She froze, her outstretched wings trembling slightly.
  184. > She lowered them and looked away from your face. Her voice was small and quiet. "B-bath, Master?"
  185. "It's better than a hose, no?"
  186. > You were still holding her chin as the pony sniffed. When she looked back, she was brimming with tears once again.
  187. > "I haven't had a bath in-" she paused and looked around, trying  to remember. "I don't even know when I've had my last bath."
  188. "Well, let's get to it, then. Better late than never, right?"
  189. > She smiled, tentatively. "Thank you! Thank you, Master."
  190. > You thought about getting her to call you just Anon, but the word 'Master' was incredibly flattering. It felt good and the pony didn't seem to mind, so you let it slide.
  191. > Sky followed you to your bathroom, then just stared at the big tub. She still couldn't quite believe it, so she waited for your nod before jumping in.
  192. > A thought occurred to her and she hung her head.
  193. > "Would you- do you want to wash me, Master?" she asked with a hint of pink on her face, barely visible under her natural color.
  194. > For having offered you sex not five minutes ago, the girl was incredibly shy about these things.
  195. > But you really liked the idea. It was one of your long-standing fantasies, after all.
  196. "Sure. Would you mind?"
  197. > Having a choice made all the difference. She gave you a small, weak smile and shook her head. "No, Master. You're too kind. You don't need to ask me, I'll be a good mare."
  198. > She was repeating it like a mantra.
  199. > You started the shower and got to work. As the warm water hit her flank, Red Sky almost sagged in relief and joy.
  200. > "Mmmmmm," she moaned with her eyes closed.
  201. > You angled the stream of hot water between her wings and she gave a small gasp as they unfurled.
  202. > When you followed up with your hand, the pony flinched involuntarily. You kept your fingers in the air until she steadied herself and straightened up. You were able to slide your hand down her tense back.
  203. > For a few minutes you just let the water play over her coat and ran your fingers through the fur, until Sky was well soaked. Slowly, she relaxed, becoming accustomed to the touch as well.
  204. > Her mane gave you some problems with all the bits of debris tangled up in it, but the pony didn't complain when you tugged to get them out.
  205. > The tail was another problem, but luckily most of the sticky grime dissolved in water. Sky moved away the first few times you touched the base of it.
  206. "Stay still, please," you said.
  207. > She let her breath out and gave a small nod. "Y-yes, Master. Sor-sorry."
  208. > Her body tensed up visibly, but she didn't avoid your touch anymore.
  209. > With most of the grime washed off, you briefly put the shower head down so you could work her tail with both your hands, combing it with your fingers until it looked clean.
  210. > You were saving the best for last. You began by her back hooves, rubbing with one hand while directing the water with the other. Sky shuffled her feet, but didn't complain.
  211. > You moved the water higher, following it with your fingers. Her breath caught a little when you switched to the inside of her legs.
  212. "You okay?"
  213. > She opened her eyes briefly to look back at you. "Y-yes, Master. I tru- trust you."
  214. > It didn't sound as if she was certain about her words, but her fidgeting stopped. Satisfied, you went higher up. Little Anon was diamond-status when you carefully brought your hand to her belly. You twirled the fur for a few moments, then moved lower.
  215. > Her mounds were barely noticeable, but with your imagination it was enough to drive all thought from your head.
  216. > At this point, you weren't really cleaning her, just playing with her bits.
  217. > You fiddled for a while, then moved the shower head back and bathed her privates.
  218. "Uh, could you move your tail, please?"
  219. > It was clamped tightly over her, but Sky quickly pulled it away. She was very obedient and you liked that.
  220. > You took a very close look at her naughty parts. You didn't think your rod could get any harder, but there it was.
  221. > The water washed away a bit of grime, leaving her folds pleasantly pink. Your hand shook as you rubbed it experimentally.
  222. > Sky emitted a low squeak of surprise, so you quickly took your fingers away.
  223. "Sorry."
  224. > You made sure you were gentle - maybe she was sore from a beating or something. You couldn't see any bruises or scars on her buttocks, but that didn't mean anything.
  225. > She shook her head resolutely. "N-no, it's f-fine, Master."
  226. > Encouraged, you ran your fingers from the base of her tail down, massaging gently. The water carried away some unmentionable gunk.
  227. > Feeling sorry for what the pony had had to endure, you checked to see if she was okay. Her eyes were open, but she was fixating on the tiles in front of her. You could see she was keeping her jaw clenched.
  228. > Her breathing was rapid, nostrils flaring with every exhalation. You decided it would be best to finish quickly and focused on your work. Soon, the water was running clear and the pony was much more presentable.
  229. > You made another few passes, just to be sure, then shut the water off. The mare let her head sag a little. She blinked a few times, but didn't turn to look at you.
  230. "It's okay, you did good, Sky."
  231. > The praise seemed to help. She gave a small nod. "Thank y-you, Master," she said in a low voice. Gradually, her breathing slowed and she seemed to relax.
  232. "I don't have any special kind of soap for ponies, so I hope this will do."
  233. > There was a bottle of shampoo on the edge of the bath tub, which you had lifted up to show her. Sky looked at it in surprise. After a while she nodded. "I'm grateful, Master."
  234. > You squeezed a generous portion on her back, then you slowly and gently lathered her whole coat. You had to apply more on her mane, but there was enough foam to make the pony almost entirely white.
  235. > Except for her wings. You had no idea what to do about those, so you hadn't touched them so far.
  236. > You had decided to get through the more familiar things first, and then you could ask Red Sky what she wanted.
  237. > The boner intensified as you worked the shampoo into her tail and privates, but by now you were focused and methodical.
  238. > Even the mare felt your newfound professionalism and her reaction this time around was much more subdued. She still tensed up, whenever your fingers approached a sensitive area, but she quickly relaxed when you moved away.
  239. > Finally, you switched on the shower again and began to rinse. Sky shook her head when a bit of the water fell in her eyes.
  240. > She looked at the puddles on the floor and at your wet shirt. Her mouth opened in horror and she shrank away a little.
  241. > "I'm so sorry, M-master! I didn't mean to- I'm sorry!"
  242. "Relax, it's fine."
  243. > She kept trembling in fear for a while, but then she saw you had meant it. She let out a breath and relaxed a little.
  244. > "Thank y-you, Master." A small, uncertain smile was playing on her lips.
  245. > It seemed like a good time to ask.
  246. "Uh, how do you want me to wash your wings, Sky? I've never done it before, so I could use a little help."
  247. > She seemed flattered by your admission. Her grin grew wider. "Just- just water, Master. I can preen them later myself."
  248. > You obliged and turned the shower on her feathers. You were a bit worried at first, but then you saw they weren't quite as delicate as you had feared.
  249. > Well, the feathers did have to support her weight in flight. You slowly played the water over the entire length of her wings, but you didn't follow with your hand. Best to let the expert deal with those, you decided.
  250. > At long last it was done. You were almost sorry to stop, but by that point Red Sky had been in the tub for over half an hour.
  251. > You recalled the reason you were washing her and Little Anon quickly woke up.
  252. > There weren't many clean towels, but you found the largest one and wrapped it around the pony's neck. She stood passively as you dried her mane.
  253. > Again you avoided the wings. You looked at the mare and she quickly guessed your problem.
  254. > "It's fine, M-master. I'll just let them dry out in the air."
  255. > Satisfied, you moved further. By the time  you were done with her front legs, the towel was soaked and you took another one. You rubbed it gently along her flank, then reached underneath.
  256. > Sky squeaked in protest as the rough fabric snagged on her nipples.
  257. "Oh, sorry."
  258. > She didn't reply this time, so you went on, a little more carefully.
  259. > You finished up with her tail.
  260. "There you go, all clean."
  261. > She smiled and reached up to wrap her legs around your torso. Her face buried itself in your damp shirt.
  262. > "Oh, thank you *so* much!" she squealed and looked up at you. She had tears in her eyes again. "That was *wonderful*, Master!"
  263. > After a moment her smile vanished and her ears fell flat against her head. She swiftly pushed herself away from you.
  264. > "Would you- do you want me n-now, Master?" There was trepidation in her voice.
  265. "Sure, I mean, if you want to..."
  266. > Way to beta, man!
  267. > She just watched you for a few seconds, then looked away. Her voice became flat and lifeless. "Yes, I want to, Master."
  268. > You felt she was lying, but Little Anon made himself known again and you chose to ignore the slightly bad feeling you were getting about the situation.
  269. "Alright, then."
  270. > She jumped out of the tub and followed you back to the bedroom. It was late afternoon and you heard the rush hour traffic outside. There was no way to close the window, but fortunately it wasn't cold yet.
  271. > You sat yourself on your bed, motioning for Sky to approach.
  272. > Her outstretched wings drooped a little, but she resolutely walked forward. She sat herself on the floor between your legs.
  273. > Blue eyes looked into yours, then travelled down your body.
  274. > It made you a little self-conscious. You weren't exactly attractive, you knew. The flab under your chin, the oversized gut. A slight bow in your legs.
  275. > Not for the first time you resolved that you would work out more and eat less.
  276. > Finally, the mare was staring at your crotch. The bulge was visible through the pants.
  277. > "Do I- Would you like me to... please you with m-my mouth, Master?" she asked with some trepidation.
  278. > Again, it felt wrong. It was as if the pony wanted it, but at the same time was afraid, even repulsed. Her hesitation gave you pause, but she said all the right things.
  279. > You decided to believe her words, rather than her body language.
  280. "Uh, yes, please."
  281. > She heaved a sigh and leaned in. Expertly, she pulled the zipper down.
  282. > "Can you h-help me with the button, Master?" she asked. She raised up her hooves to show you, in case you didn't understand how clumsy they were at these sort of tasks.
  283. "Oh, sure, no problem."
  284. > You undid the button and unbuckled the belt. You wriggled out of your pants and tossed them aside. The underwear was even easier, but you had to lift your ass slightly to get it off.
  285. > Your shirt was hanging over your privates, so you quickly slipped that off, too.
  286. > Now that the time had come, you were suddenly embarrassed. You weren't entirely sure you could do this.
  287. > It would be your first time, after all.
  288. > And it was what you had wanted for a long time. But at the same time it was very different from what you had imagined.
  289. > Maybe you weren't really ready for this just yet? Maybe Red Sky needed some more time to get used to you as well?
  290. > She caught your frown and flinched. She quickly brought her muzzle closer. Her tongue poked at your member and your breath caught in your throat.
  291. > She gave you a strange smile. It looked faked, but you were beyond caring at that point.
  292. > Her voice was low and sultry. "That's right, Master. Let your little mare help you relax."
  293. > A hoof pushed you back and you didn't resist. Once you were down, Sky lifted herself up by placing hooves on your knees. The touch sent a shock of fire through your body.
  294. > She gave you another tentative lick, making you flinch in surprise. Then there was a long pause. Your member twitched at the lack of stimulation and you involuntarily pushed your hips forward, poking her fur.
  295. > The pony took a deep breath and slowly took you in your mouth. The warm, wet sensation made you grind forward again, more urgently this time. Sky kept still, letting you push most of yourself against her tongue.
  296. > You lasted all of fifteen seconds. You didn't even have time to warn the pony.
  297. > Her eyes widened in surprise as you almost exploded inside her mouth, but she quickly recovered. She pushed her face down as far as it would go and waited.
  298. > She moaned around your throbbing manhood and some goop escaped her mouth.
  299. > It ran down your groin, adding to the sensations you were already feeling.
  300. > The orgasm lasted longer than the blowjob itself.
  301. > After you had stopped twitching, Red Sky let you out and looked at you. She blinked away her tears and pointedly licked her lips.
  302. > It was so sexy it made you want to do more.
  303. > "Y-you really needed it, Mas-master," she said quietly.
  304. > Her eyes fell down to your groin and she began to lick it clean. For the first few seconds, her raspy tongue was almost painful and your boner quickly subsided.
  305. > But then it became more pleasurable, especially when her mouth sought out the stray juices around the base and down your sack. Within a minute you were hard again.
  306. > Time for round two. You sat up.
  307. "Turn around."
  308. > She stopped what she was doing and looked at your face. Then she pushed herself back, her hooves landing on the hardwood with two faint clicks.
  309. > "Y-you want to ru-rut me now, Master?" She seemed a surprised and her eyes went back to Little Anon, who was demanding more action.
  310. "Yes."
  311. > As soon as the word had left your mouth, Sky turned around. She hesitantly shuffled herself into position and lowered her front half to the floor. Her tail jerked out of the way and you saw it all again.
  312. > This time, without all the grime and dirt, her parts looked positively inviting.
  313. > In a flash, you were off the bed and on the floor. She was a little too tall, so you quickly reached for a pillow and stuck it underneath. That gave you perfect height, plus it would keep your from rubbing your knees raw on the hard surface.
  314. > You put one hand on her flank and felt a slight tremor run through her stiff muscles. With the other hand, you aimed your tool.
  315. > As you touched her, the pony let out a small whimper and her tail twitched. She took a half-step forward, but you pulled at her fur with the hand on her back and she returned.
  316. > It took you a few tries and you had to wriggle from side to side to tease apart the folds.
  317. > Then you felt warmth on your glans and pushed forward.
  318. > The mare gave a little cry and you felt her muscles tense up further.
  319. "Sorry, sorry. Too fast?"
  320. > She gave half of a nod, but then stopped and looked back, eyes wide in fear.
  321. > "No, it's fine, M-master. I was just sur-suprised, is all," she said quickly. It sounded false, but you didn't pay it any mind.
  322. > You experimentally moved your hips. It felt very raw and unpleasant.
  323. > Maybe you were doing it wrong? You wriggled around a little.
  324. > As you were withdrawing to try again, you felt wetness around your member. That made the going a lot smoother.
  325. > You pulled almost all the way out and thrust again. This time the blissful sensation nearly made you pass out.
  326. > Even Sky was enjoying it, judging by her long sigh. She relaxed a little and you continued. In and out. Steady rhythm.
  327. > It was everything you had imagined and more. Thanks to your earlier release you even thought you'd last a few minutes.
  328. > The pony was breathing heavily. You couldn't see her face - it was flat against the ground and facing away from you, but it sounded like she was having fun.
  329. > You stopped moving for a while and she kept going, reflexively. You used the hand on her flank to guide her.
  330. > You heard her try to talk. "Ha- agh, Mas-master! I'm-" it was lost in a groan.
  331. > Suddenly you felt Sky's passage spasm and tighten. It felt like a vice. The realization that she had climaxed, together with the added stimulation proved too much for you.
  332. > You grunted as your muscles locked up. You had a death grip on Sky's flank and you pushed forward as far as you could.
  333. > The pony knew exactly what to do. She dug her hooves in and pushed back, not letting herself slide.
  334. > It took even longer this time for the feeling to subside. Once it was done, you pulled out and let go of the pony.
  335. > You were breathing hard and sweat was pouring down your back. You couldn't hold yourself upright on your knees anymore, so you flopped down on your ass.
  336. > Sky didn't move from her position. You reached over to pat a buttock when you heard her sniffle.
  337. "What's wrong?"
  338. > You hoped you hadn't hurt her with that last push. She had been enjoying herself, you were sure of that. All the juices splattered around your groin and on the floor proved it.
  339. > The mare picked herself up and shuffled around. Her eyes were a bit red and her cheeks were wet. You also saw her wings trembling noticeably.
  340. "Are you okay, Sky?"
  341. > She felt the concern in your voice and forced a small smile. The way her ears were plastered against her scalp made you doubt its sincerity.
  342. > "Tha-thank you f-for being g-g-gentle, Master," she said in a small voice.
  343. > "Di- did you enjoy that, M-master?" she asked as her gaze kept returning to yours and sliding away.
  344. > You hugged her around the neck and inhaled the aroma of your shampoo. It mixed pleasantly with the faint smell that was just her. She stood perfectly still as you held her.
  345. "Thank you for that, Sky. I just- I can't- I don't know what to say."
  346. > After a moment she hugged you back.
  347. > "Does that mean I can stay h-here?" she asked, her voice betraying fear and worry.
  348. > You pushed her away so she could see your face.
  349. "Are you kidding? I'm not letting you go, ever!"
  350. > Her smile became genuine and she sagged in relief. "Thank you, Master! THANK YOU!"
  351. > This time when she hugged you, the wings went around your shoulders, tickling your bare skin. It was heavenly.
  352. > You couldn't help but notice how fluids were still dripping from her rear. You felt a twitch in your groin and briefly thought about round three.
  353. > But then you decided it could wait. The expectation would make it all the sweeter.
  354. > Your stomach suddenly reminded you that you hadn't eaten since Sky crashlanded in your bedroom.
  355. "Uh, would you like some dinner?"
  356. > The mare untangled herself from the hug and stepped a few paces toward the door.
  357. > "I'll make you something, M-master, if I may?"
  358. > The pony was a godsend. You nodded, enthusiastically, wondering what she would prepare.
  359. "That sounds perfect, Sky."
  360. > When she was gone, you dressed yourself and got started on the mess under the window.
  362. > ~~~~
  364. > The pony make amazing pancakes. You hadn't even known there were the correct ingredients in your fridge, but Sky apparently found all she had needed.
  365. > Even jam, which you vaguely remembered buying a long time ago and then never using.
  366. > Was it even still good? The pony assured you there was nothing wrong with it and you trusted her nose more than your own.
  367. > It was still delicious, a fact you mentioned several times. The pegasus was adorable as she blushed at the compliments.
  368. > There wasn't much conversation beside that. The pony was standing beside the table, looking at the floor. She only raised her head if you spoke to her, but then she let it fall back right after.
  369. > Some three pancakes later you noticed she hadn't eaten at all.
  370. "Why don't you have some?"
  371. > She started, taking an involuntary step backward. Her wings unfurled, but she quickly forced them back.
  372. > "S-slaves don't eat with their betters," she said quickly. It sounded practiced. "I'll be- I'll be happy to have what you give me, M-master."
  373. > She sat down and averted her eyes. "Dogfood will be fine," she said quietly. You saw she was stealing glances at you, gauging your reaction.
  374. "Dogfood?!"
  375. > She gasped in fear and threw herself at your feet, hugging them and crying.
  376. > "I'm sorry, I'm sorry! I didn't mean to demand! Please forgive me, Mas-master!"
  377. > She caught your confused expression and quickly explained. "Whatever you give me, Master! I didn't mean to ask for dogfood. I know it's too goo- good for me. I'll be happy with garbage. Or nothing at all, if I haven't earned it!"
  378. > Her babbling was feverish. The pony really thought you would throw her out because she had demanded food. Dogfood, no less!
  379. > Just how badly had that sleaze 'Smith' treated her?
  380. > It broke your heart and you slipped from your chair so you could hug her.
  381. "Shush, Sky. I know your last Master was a bad man, but I'm not him. I won't feed you garbage, or dog food. You can have what I'm having, deal?"
  382. > She couldn't process it. Her large, blue eyes stared at yours, blinking a few times. She decided to start from the beginning.
  383. > "I don't... have to... eat garbage?"
  384. "No, that's awful."
  385. > "B-but I haven't earned my dinner," she admitted, falling back into a pattern that was, at least, familiar.
  386. "You don't have to earn your food with me, Sky. Get up on that chair. You've made plenty for both of us."
  387. > You were afraid she would reject the idea. But as you waited, the pony looked up at the table and sniffed, experimentally. You saw a bit of drool escape her mouth and you wondered when was the last time she ate.
  388. > Her gaze transferred to you again. "Can I really- you mean it, Master?" she asked. The hope in her voice nearly brought you to tears yourself.
  389. > You couldn't trust yourself to speak so you just nodded. She buried her snout in your legs again as she hugged them.
  390. > She didn't have the words, so she just sobbed. Without any better idea what to do, you put your hand in her mane and stroked gently.
  391. > Nearly a minute later the pegasus pushed herself away and climbed up on a chair next to you.
  392. > There wasn't a plate for her, but you'd had your fill so you pushed yours over. Then you loaded it up with the remaining pancakes. There was still enough jam left in the jar.
  393. "Need any help?"
  394. > The pony wouldn't be very good with the spoon, you imagined. But Sky surprised you when she gripped the utensil with both hooves and expertly spread jam over the brown disk on her plate.
  395. > She looked at you again, as if for reassurance. You nodded and she went at it.
  396. > The way she inhaled everything confirmed your suspicion that she had been starving. She even licked the plate when she was done.
  397. > Then she closed her eyes and sighed contentedly. There was a sweet little smile playing on her lips and you couldn't help yourself.
  398. > You reached out your finger and bopped her nose.
  399. > She pulled away from the touch and looked at you in fright.
  400. > "Sorry! Sorry, Master! I'll clean it up right away!"
  401. > Before you could answer, Sky was already gathering up the dishes and stacking them in the sink.
  402. > While she was doing that, you got up and picked up a sponge and the dishwashing liquid. Then you noticed Sky's slack-jawed stare.
  403. "What?"
  404. > She didn't know what to say. Her gaze went from your hand to your face and back several times.
  405. > "I'll do that. You don't need to- I'll take care of it, Master," she squeaked out.
  406. > Oh right. Slave. You had almost forgotten. You put the things down again and stepped back.
  407. > Sky relaxed and quickly pushed over a chair. That made it easier for her to reach the sink with her hooves.
  408. > You left her to it and went to your computer. You desperately wanted to brag on the message boards, but you knew you shouldn't tell anyone about Sky, at least for a while.
  409. > Word might reach her previous owner and you didn't want to think what the guy would do.
  410. > Instead, you just read through the news.
  411. >...
  412. > You were deep in an article when you heard a gasp behind you. The pegasus was staring fixedly at your screen. She approached slowly, her eyes plastered to a small image in the corner.
  413. > "T-twilight Sparkle?!" she breathed. "That's the- what is the Princess of Friendship doing here?"
  414. "You don't know? She's been on Earth for a while."
  415. > Sky just stared at me and shook her head mutely. Even her astonishment was adorable.
  416. "Do you know her?"
  417. > "Everypony knows her. I met her once or twice around Ponyville, but we never spoke."
  418. > Suddenly, the pegasus remembered her place and jumped back. She bowed and pressed her snout against the floor.
  419. > "Sorry, Master! I was out of line, I didn't mean to intrude."
  420. "Don't worry, it's fine."
  421. > She carefully opened one eye and peeked upward. "You- you're not going to beat me?"
  422. > Slavery didn't seem nearly as nice as you had imagined. Her abject terror of the simplest 'mistakes' she made was heartrending.
  423. > Not to mention the things the pony considered mistakes.
  424. > You decided to try and put her at ease.
  425. "Look, you don't have to be afraid to talk to me. I'm not going to beat you for something like that."
  426. > "You're not?"
  427. "No. I want you to be happy here."
  428. > She seemed to process that. After a short while she nodded.
  429. > "Thank you, Master."
  430. > A though occurred: if Sky was so afraid of disturbing you, what was she doing in the living room anyway?
  431. "By the way, did you need something when you came in earlier?"
  432. > This seemed to be more familiar territory and the pony relaxed slightly. "Uh, yes, Master. I can't find any trash bags."
  433. "Why do you need those?"
  434. > "I was cleaning the kitchen..." she said, trailing off. Her head angled to the side as she gave you a quizzical look. "That is my job, right, Master?"
  435. > As you quickly glanced around, the dust and the small piles of trash jumped out from the background. You were suddenly ashamed of the state your flat was in.
  436. "Yeah, I've been meaning to clean up around here," you mumbled.
  437. > She put her head on your knee and reached her wing to brush your open palm. It was a strangely comforting gesture, even if it tickled a little.
  438. > "Don't worry about that, Master. You've got me now."
  439. > Her smile melted your heart and you couldn't resist ruffling her mane.
  440. "You're amazing, did you know that?"
  441. > The grin widened and you saw her wings tremble a little. You spent a few peaceful minutes just petting the pony.
  442. > She was the first to break contact, pulling herself away and looking at you expectantly. "The bags, Master?"
  443. "Oh, right. I might be out. Did you check the cupboard under the sink?"
  444. > Sky nodded. "There were none."
  445. "Okay, there should be a pen and some paper near the phone in the hallway. Write down the things you think we need and I'll go to the store tomorrow."
  446. > You knew the ponies could read and write, but you still wanted to make sure.
  447. "You can write, right?"
  448. > "Of course, Master."
  449. "Great. I'll try and block up the window for tonight. I'll see if I can find someone to fix it tomorrow."
  450. > Red Sky didn't answer that. She waited for you to get up, then followed you out of the room. You stopped at the kitchen door and looked inside. Already the place seemed spotless.
  451. > The floor was swept, the counter was wiped clean. All the cupboards had been dusted and the piles of dirty dishes everywhere had been washed and put away.
  452. > Your jaw dropped. Aside from a small pile of miscellaneous trash, the kitchen was cleaner than you had seen it in years. Not since your mother had died, at least.
  453. "Wow! That's amazing, Sky!"
  454. > The pony beamed with pride. You saw her wings flutter before snapping firmly back against her body.
  455. > "May I speak candidly, Master?" she asked, politely.
  456. "Of course. And you don't have to ask first."
  457. > She sat on her haunches and looked up at you. After a moment, her gaze slid away and her ears lowered.
  458. > "I did the same things for the old Master. But he never noticed, unless I did something wrong. I was afraid all the time," she began and you saw the memory was affecting her deeply.
  459. > She sighed and blinked slowly, then continued. "I'm doing pretty much the same things here, but this time I like it, because you appreciate my work, Master. You-"
  460. > Her voice broke and you saw a few tears escape her eyes. "You appreciate *me*. I can't tell you how good that feels."
  461. > She sniffed and let out a breath. Her gaze returned to you. Those were tears of joy and they made your heart beat faster.
  462. > "I guess what I'm trying to say... Thank you, Master."
  463. > With the exclamation, she fell against your legs again and hugged them tightly. You put your hand on her head and waited while she sobbed happily.
  464. > At long last, the mare let you go and wiped at her face with a hoof.
  465. "You're welcome, Sky. You're a good pony and you deserve better than your last owner."
  466. > She looked like she would start crying again, but managed to hold back.
  467. > "I'll get started on the living room, Master!"
  468. > She bounded off with the biggest smile you had ever seen.
  469. > This... this was the way to have a slave. Her happiness rubbed off and you whistled a merry tune as you went to inspect your bedroom.
  470. > You planned to tape up a bedsheet or something, just to keep out the worst of the night's chill.
  471. > Still, It was a good thing you had a pony to keep you warm at night, now.
  473. > ~~~~
  475. "Come. Up here," you said and patted the bed beside you.
  476. > Red Sky looked as if you had just given her a death sentence. She swallowed several times before she could talk.
  477. > "I- I'd...," she stuttered as her whole body shook. "I would l-like t-to sleep alone, M-master," she managed.
  478. > The disappointment was clear on your face and it made the poor mare whimper miserably and huddle down. No doubt she expected a beating for daring to say no. She put her hooves and her wings over her head to try and protect it.
  479. > Pity overwhelmed you. This damaged creature had had precious little choice in her life. She deserved some, at least.
  480. "Okay. Why?"
  481. > But you needed a reason.
  482. > As the blows she had waited for didn't arrive, Sky peeked up between feathers.
  483. > "I h-have nightmares, M-master," she squeaked, trembling at the mere memory. "It's be-better if I sleep a-alone."
  484. > It was disappointing, but Red Sky had been through too much to deny her what little comfort you could.
  485. "Well, I guess I can put down a blanket or something. Or you could take the couch."
  486. > The mare jumped at the chance. "Couch!" she exclaimed as soon as you had mentioned it. "P-please!" she begged.
  487. > The pony crawled forward and raised herself so she could put her muzzle on your hand imploringly. Those blue eyes stared right into yours, full of fear and hope.
  488. > When you didn't answer immediately, the pony kept pleading. "Pl-please, Mas-master!" she sobbed. Then she remembered a little something and added: "I've never had m-my own room and bed. T-the old master made me sleep out-outside. In- in the doghouse."
  489. > Her tone was so miserable that you stopped delaying. You weren't going to boss her around like that jerk of her previous owner. The only reason you had dragged it out so much was confusion and disappointment.
  490. > But maybe Red Sky would come around later. You really wanted a mare to cuddle, but perhaps it was best to take it slow?
  491. "Okay, let me get some blankets. You can take the couch for now, but we'll talk about a more permanent thing."
  492. > Sky gave a small, delighted gasp of surprise and rained down kisses on your hand. Her joy was palpable.
  493. > "Thank you! Thank you *so much*, kind Master! Thank you!"
  494. > Even her stutter seemed better and it made you smile happily too. You shifted to get up and fetch the promised blankets, but the pony gently pushed you back down.
  495. > "I'll get it myself, Master! Don't trouble yourself."
  496. > Somehow, Sky knew exactly where to find sheets and blankets. She had to jump up to reach the shelf in the closet, but she expertly grabbed them in her mouth.
  497. > She extended her wings for the landing, mostly to keep her balance. For some reason, you found the sight incredibly cute. Then Sky bounded off, not even glancing in your direction.
  498. > Maybe she was afraid you'd change your mind or make more demands and the mare just wanted to get out as quickly as she could?
  499. > You realized it would take time to earn her trust completely.
  500. > Sleeping alone was a downer, but it might help make the pegasus feel more at home around you if she had some privacy.
  501. > The bed creaked as you flopped down and palmed the convenient light switch just above your head. You stayed awake for a while and listened to Red Sky fiddling with the couch in the living room.
  502. > A few minutes later you thought you heard a small sigh and everything became quiet. You sternly resisted the urge to go look at the sleeping pony.
  503. >...
  504. > You woke up much earlier than usually, judging by the light that was filtering around the blanket you had clumsily nailed over your broken window.
  505. > Seeing the damage quickly reminded you of what had happened.
  506. > Suddenly, you no longer wanted to go back to sleep. You all but jumped out of the bed and quickly dressed.
  507. > You found your new pony in the kitchen. The table was set for breakfast. You didn't remember that you had toast, but Red Sky seemed to have found some. It was sitting ready in the toaster.
  508. > Next to the plate you also saw some jam left from the previous day and a glass of juice.
  509. > There was only one place set at the table.
  510. > As soon as you stepped in the kitchen, Red Sky jumped up and pushed the lever on the toaster.
  511. > "It wi-will only be a moment, Master," she chirped pleasantly. "Oh, good morning, Master."
  512. > That last came a little belatedly, but it was still way more polite than most people you knew.
  513. "Morning."
  514. > You sat down and watched the pegasus. She kept her eyes firmly on the toaster, as if willing it to work faster.
  515. "Uh, where's your plate?"
  516. > Red Sky twirled around in surprise. "M-my plate?" she managed. Apparently she had already forgotten what you had told her the previous day, or perhaps she thought it had been a one-time thing.
  517. "Yes. I'm not making you eat garbage or dogfood, remember? You have whatever I'm having, okay?"
  518. > She needed a moment to answer. "W-will you make me eat m-meat?" she stammered uncertainly. Her gaze lowered to the floor. "It hurts my stomach."
  519. > Sky had wrapped her legs around her chest, as if already feeling the pain.
  520. "What? God no. Let me rephrase. You can eat whatever you want, whenever you're hungry. But I would like it if we had our meals together."
  521. > When the pony looked up, the relief on her face was unmistakable. "Oh. Thank you, Master!"
  522. > The toast popped back up and she expertly flipped it out onto a plate. Then she hooked her wing under it and transferred it to the table.
  523. > You waited and watched her expectantly.
  524. > "Oh!" she said, remembering. Then the mare smiled uncertainly and dug out another plate from the cupboard. She followed up with a glass of OJ and put two more pieces in the toaster.
  525. > Only when she was sitting across did you take a slice and push the other one toward her.
  526. > The look of gratitude on her face was truly heartwarming. You scooped up some jam and returned the jar to the center of the table.
  527. "Help yourself."
  528. > She did, hesitantly at first. But soon she was munching her piece of bread as if it was the only food she had had in years.
  529. > It was gone way quicker than yours and the mare ended up staring at you uncertainly.
  530. "What?"
  531. > You wiped your hand on your chin, thinking you had smeared something.
  532. > "I ju-just wanted to say," she began and her ears lowered, "thank you. F-for being nice!" She was undoubtedly blushing too, judging by the way she averted her eyes, but it was hard to tell with her red coat.
  533. "Don't need to thank me for that. I'm just treating you like a person, nothing special."
  534. > "Old Master never did..."
  535. "Get used to it."
  536. > She nodded and was about to say more, but the toaster popped again and the pony busied herself with it. This time, she pushed only one piece to your plate and took the other one for herself. It was encouraging, even if Sky watched you carefully to see what you would do.
  537. > You smiled and nodded in approval. It encouraged her and she ravenously fell on her piece.
  538. "I'm gonna head out to the store. Did you write down what we need?"
  539. > The mare quickly swallowed and nodded. "Yes, Master!" She jumped from the chair before you could tell her to finish eating first and brought you a piece of paper in her mouth.
  540. > You read through it. Most of the things you were expecting, but there were a few unusual items.
  541. "Baking powder?"
  542. > Sky grinned nervously. "I would like to make a cake, Master. As a thankyou for s-saving me!"
  543. "Okay. Toilet paper? I didn't realize we were out."
  544. > Now she looked away. "I used the last bit this morning. I'm sorry! I didn't mean to!" She was trembling in fear and keeping her eyes closed, but didn't try to run from the slap she was apparently expecting.
  545. "Don't worry about it. I'll get more, no problem."
  546. > When she let her breath out in relief you had to know.
  547. "Why were you so afraid? Did that guy beat you for using toilet paper?"
  548. > Her eyes were brimming with tears. "H-he said it was t-too good for the likes of me..."
  549. "How did you, uh... clean yourself?"
  550. > Her gaze never wavered, but her voice shook at the memory. "I h-had to l-l-lick myself clean."
  551. "Ugh, that's horrible. I'm glad you used the toilet paper. You don't have to do anything that guy said, okay? If you're not sure, just ask."
  552. > Sky took a step forward and placed her head on your knee. She sniffled a little but managed a smile. "Thank you, Master."
  553. > You finished the list. It wasn't too bad. It would put a larger dent in your bank account than you expected, but on the other hand you probably wouldn't order as much food. There were a lot of edibles on the list - vegetables, spices, flour, cooking oil.
  554. > In fact, you realized, you were looking forward to Red Sky's cooking.
  555. > When you finished, you folded up the paper and put it in your back pocket. Then you let your hand rest in the pegasus' mane.
  556. > It was a quiet and comfortable moment.
  557. "Would you like anything else?"
  558. > She shook her head, carefully so as not to dislodge your fingers. The look of horror was gone, replaced by a serene little smile as you fiddled with her ears.
  559. "A couple of sweets? Maybe a bar of chocolate?"
  560. > The blue eyes snapped open and Sky jerked her head away. She was starting to breathe more quickly and her wings extended part way in alarm.
  561. > "W-what?!" she hissed.
  562. > You felt as if you had said something wrong.
  563. "I'm sorry - is chocolate bad for you? I didn't mean..."
  564. > It was poisonous to dogs, wasn't it? You vaguely remembered reading about it on the image boards, but it wasn't exactly a reliable source. Could it also be dangerous to ponies? Her reaction would make sense if you just offered to poison her.
  565. > "I-" Sky began, but had to swallow a lump. "I *love* chocolate," she finished and promptly burst into tears.
  566. > You were confused.
  567. "What's wrong then? What's the matter?"
  568. > She hiccuped and tried to form words. "Tha- that's... nicest thing... done for me... ever!"
  569. > It was kinda sweet. You lowered yourself from the chair and wrapped your arms around her neck. The pony buried her muzzle in your shirt and cried.
  570. > Seeing that it might go on for a while, you just slipped your hands around her and lifted her. She barely noticed as you took her to the couch.
  571. > Her sheets and blankets were already neatly folded on the armrest. After you had lowered the mare to the cushions, you picked up one blanket and covered her up.
  572. > She was calmer when her eyes fluttered open and she gave you a genuine smile.
  573. > "T-thank you, Master!" she said and reached her head up to lick your face.
  574. "No problem. I'll definitely bring you that chocolate now!"
  575. > She tried to say more, but couldn't seem to find words.
  576. > You gave her another pat on the head and left. Your spirits were lifted and you whistled happily.
  577. > Cleaning, cooking *and* gratitude? Plus sex?
  578. > You had been right to want a pony in your life. Red Sky was a dream come true.
  580. > ~~~~
  582. > It was an adorable sight, the way Red Sky's hooves shook when she held up a piece of dark chocolate. She carefully sniffed at it, as if unsure it was real.
  583. > Then she tasted it.
  584. > For a moment it looked as if she was having an orgasm. Her eyes closed, her mouth spread in an incredulous smile and her whole body swayed.
  585. > The mere thought was enough to make you rock hard.
  586. > After what seemed like minutes, the pegasus let out a shuddering breath and fluttered her eyes open.
  587. > "That. Was...," she began, but failed to find words. "Celestia, how I missed this!"
  588. > You were sitting right beside her on the couch and the mare quickly wrapped her legs around your midriff. She was surprisingly strong.
  589. > "I don't know h-how to thank you, Master," she said.
  590. "I can think of a way..."
  591. > It only took her a moment to realize what you wanted. She flinched, but then a tentative smile returned.
  592. > "O-of course, M-master," she mumbled, only a little uncertainly. "Wou- would you like my mo-mouth?"
  593. "No, I have a better idea. C'mere."
  594. > You hadn't even realized that you had pulled your pants down. The mare quickly swung into your lap and positioned herself so that you were poking right at her entrance.
  595. > When you involuntarily pushed, Sky moved away.
  596. > "J-just a second, M-master," she begged urgently. "I nee- need to get comfortable!"
  597. > She licked her hoof and brought it down between her legs. There was a look of concentration on her face, but she was staring off into space.
  598. > She brushed your member, causing another small spasm and a thrust, but the pony smoothly moved up with you, denying you entrance once again.
  599. > It was hot as all hell.
  600. > Fortunately it didn't take her long to get ready. She took her hoof away and closed her eyes.
  601. > "R-ready, M-m-master," she said, almost in a whimper.
  602. > Your conscience finally made itself heard.
  603. "Uh, are you sure it's okay? I mean, if you don't want it-"
  604. > You felt the pony stiffen. She began trembling in fear and her eyes, as she opened them, were shrunken to pinpricks.
  605. > "No! It's fine! I want it, I swear!" she said quickly.
  606. > That, combined with your need, was enough for you.
  607. > As if to prove her point, Sky quickly pushed herself down. Her sudden, unexpected warmth drove all air from your lungs.
  608. "Ooooh, f-fuck!"
  609. > As she saw the effect on you, Red Sky gave you a tiny smile. Then she began to move, slowly at first.
  610. > For a minute, the stimulation was almost too much. You sat there, every muscle hard as rock, barely able to breathe at all.
  611. > You glanced away from the squirming pony to give yourself at least some respite. Your eyes landed on the bar of chocolate. She had only had one piece so far.
  612. > Without really thinking about it, you reached for it, snapped off part and brought it up to Red Sky's mouth. She had a look of fierce concentration and didn't seem to notice the morsel at first.
  613. > When you poked her lips with it, the pegasus opened her mouth. It seemed automatic. You pushed the chocolate in and pressed her mouth closed with your hand.
  614. > Sky's gyrations stopped as she processed the taste. Her eyes refocused on you in a kind of shock.
  615. > "Mmphf!" she tried to say, but all that came out was a dribble of drool, stained brown by the sweet. The mare seemed to shudder, which made her muscles spasm. You felt it acutely around your rod as her hips jerked erratically.
  616. > Another bit of saliva escaped as the mare moaned.
  617. > You couldn't stop yourself even if you wanted to. You leaned forward and licked the overflow from her face.
  618. > It was sweet at first, but there was an undertone of something exotic. Almost herbal. You guessed it was the taste of Red Sky herself and it drove you wild.
  619. > Rather than wait for her to start moving again, you grabbed her barrel with both hands to keep her in place and began to thrust.
  620. > You went for a proper kiss, but the mare turned her face away and hurriedly swallowed.
  621. > "N-no, Ma-master," she gasped out. "You'll get di-dirty!"
  622. "Don't... care!"
  623. > She was about to say more, but didn't have time. Suddenly, she stiffened again and threw her head back with a little cry.
  624. > All four hooves kicked uncontrollably, but feebly and her insides spasmed hard.
  625. > Seeing her orgasm was enough to push you over the edge and you brought the mare down. You barely had time to switch your arms and pull Sky into a tight hug before you exploded inside her.
  626. > For a long time, the only sound that came was of you both breathing heavily.
  627. > Then you became aware of warm liquid dribbling down your legs. Reluctantly, you eased your hug.
  628. > Sky carefully pulled herself off with a fresh splatter of your combined fluids.
  629. > She squeaked in fear when she saw it had made a large, wet stain on the couch cushion.
  630. > "Oh, no, no, no!" she began to moan in panic. "Please! I'm sorry M-mas-master! I didn't mean to! I'm sorry!"
  631. > You reached out your hand to caress her face and smiled.
  632. "Hey, hey. Don't worry. We can take the covers off the cushions and wash them. It's no big deal."
  633. > She stared back in shock and her lowered ears slowly lifted up to face you.
  634. > "Y-you're not going to beat me?"
  635. "Of course not!"
  636. > The very idea disgusted you.
  637. "I'll never beat you, for anything, understand? Besides, this was my fault."
  638. > She couldn't immediately wrap her head around it, so she fell back to more familiar ground. She transferred her gaze to your manhood, which was slowly shrinking.
  639. > "W-wan't me to clean you up, Master?" she asked, but her heart wasn't in it.
  640. "No need. I'll just take a shower. Or would you like to go first?"
  641. > She quickly shook her head, but a hesitant smile appeared on her lips. "N-no, I'll wait. Thank you, Master!"
  642. > You stood up and the pony looked at the wet cushion. "I-I'll get s-started on cleaning up."
  643. "Good girl!"
  644. > Without really knowing why, you ruffled her mane.
  645. "You've earned every bit of that chocolate. And I'll get you more. As much as you want!"
  646. > Her breath caught as the pony imagined the riches. "R-really?" she asked, incredulous and disbelieving.
  647. "I promise!"
  648. > She gave you a hesitant hug around the knees and kissed your thigh. "Thank you, Master!"
  649. > The mare quickly began working the cushions out of their fabric, but you didn't stick around. Your groin and legs were soaked and a shower sounded really good.
  651. >~~~~
  653. > Sometimes it seemed as if Red Sky didn't want to spend time with you. Her behavior was confusing and, sometimes, borderline hurtful.
  654. > What stung the most, you finally decided, was how afraid she was to say no. You weren't going to beat her, ever.
  655. > You pinched the bridge of your nose and knelt down to be closer to the trembling pony.
  656. "Don't worry, Sky. It's fine. Really!"
  657. > At long last, she lowered a wing from her face and looked up at you. There were already tears in her eyes. The pony seemed to cry very quickly, whenever she talked to you.
  658. > You replayed the short conversation in your head to try and understand the pony.
  659. > When you came from you latest shopping trip, Sky had seemed genuinely happy to see you. You got her a small chocolate bar and the mare fell upon it ravenously.
  660. > It wasn't hunger - you were sure of that. She had been having regular meals with you and her ribs were slowly, but visibly, sinking back into flesh. The pegasus just really loved her chocolate. Her delight when you gave it to her was palpable and heartwarming. The way she scurried to hug your around the knees was especially touching. And her gratitude had led to sex more often than not.
  661. > When she was done with the chocolate, the mare made sure to lick her muzzle clean. Then you asked what she wanted to do.
  662. > Almost immediately her mood plummeted. The best you could guess, Red Sky hadn't had a choice like that in a long time and she wasn't sure how to take it.
  663. > You took the initiative and asked if she would like to cuddle on the couch and watch a movie. But the pony hesitantly declined.
  664. > Cuddle time with Red Sky was rare - you were beginning to figure out that she just didn't enjoy being physical closeness - but you still couldn't hide the disappointed look.
  665. > That send the mare into a panic and she quickly began apologizing. She stopped mid-sentence and huddled down, as if expecting a beating.
  666. > It was obvious, really: Red Sky had never been allowed to say no. She was probably punished every time she dared voice an objection.
  667. > It made you angry with that guy and determined to make her better.
  668. > You reached out your hand to gently brush her cheek.
  669. "Hey, don't cry. Yes I'm a little disappointed, but I'll never take it out on you, promise!"
  670. > Her breathing was slowing down and the tremble was gone from the wing, but she was still holding it up, ready to place it between her face and you.
  671. > "R-really?" she managed at last. The word emboldened her and she raised her head a little. "I'm al-allowed t-to say n-no?"
  672. "Of course, dear! I want you to be happy here. You don't have to do anything you don't want to, okay?"
  673. > She turned the concept around in her head a little. Already her tears were drying and her ears were perking up.
  674. > "B-but you want me to watch a m-movie..."
  675. "Do you want to do that?"
  676. > Her eyes never left yours, but the pegasus shook her head slowly and carefully. No doubt she was still expecting a reprimand, or an order.
  677. "Then that's fine. Is there something else you'd like to do?"
  678. > This was a harder question and Sky's eyes left yours to roam around the room. Her wings folded back, completely and she slowly lifted herself up into a sitting position.
  679. > The change in her posture was very welcome and the last traces of your disappointment were gone.
  680. > You silently swore to yourself that you'd say yes to whatever the pony asked next.
  681. > "C-can I go outside and fly a bit?" she finally managed.
  682. > Your knee-jerk reaction was to say no, which was pretty obvious on your face. The pony sagged a little and let out a sigh of disappointment. But then you remembered the promise you made to yourself not five seconds ago.
  683. "I'll think up a way. We can't let people see you, but I'll try and make it happen, okay? Just give me a bit of time."
  684. > It was worth it, to see Sky's face light up in incredulous joy like that. Her breath caught and new tears of joy forced themselves out almost immediately.
  685. > "YES! I can wait! I'm- I'll..." she squeaked, but words failed her and she just jumped into your lap. Her kisses rained down all over your face and her feathers tickled as she wrapped both wings around your shoulders.
  686. > Finally she could speak again. "THANK YOU, MASTER! Thank you so, so much!"
  687. > Feeling that a bit of explanation was needed, the pegasus pulled herself away and added: "I really miss flying."
  688. > When she said it, Sky looked away and blushed a little, as if it was something to be ashamed of.
  689. > You just grinned happily, very much enjoying the attention.
  690. "Good. I'll try to find a way to sneak you out tonight. What would you like to do until then?"
  691. > This time, when Red Sky thought about her choice, the smile stayed on her face. She decided quickly.
  692. > "M-maybe I could give the movie a try?" she suggested, hesitantly.
  693. > You felt your heart beat faster in joy. So that was the trick to this pony! Get her happy about something and suddenly she was a lot more open to cuddling.
  694. > But there was more. "Aa- and, m-maybe," Sky went on slowly, but paused to gauge your reaction.
  695. > You smiled at her encouragingly and she finished: "Maybe Master w-would like to brush my m-mane?"
  696. > For some reason, that sounded hot as all hell. You nodded, eagerly.
  697. "Wow! Yes please!"
  698. > The boner was instant, but you did your best to ignore it. This was supposed to be a comfy, cuddly afternoon.
  699. > You went to look through your collection of DVDs while Sky fetched her brush from the bathroom. It was one with a long handle and a strap for her hooves, but it still seemed remarkable to see the pony use it so easily and naturally.
  700. > Pony-appropriate pickings were slim, but you settled on a classic: Wizard of Oz. You were sure she would like it.
  701. > You sat, hit play and patted the couch next to yourself.
  702. > Red Sky jumped up and dropped the brush in your lap. She gave you a quick nuzzle. "Thank you for being a kind Master," she said, then turned her back to give you access to her mane.
  703. > It was still a little ragged from her escape, but with a proper shampoo and regular brushing it was doing pointedly better.
  704. > And it was the softest thing you had ever felt. You could hardly believe the silken smoothness and spent the first half of the movie just running your fingers through it and playing delicately with the strands of hair.
  705. > Even Sky seemed to be enjoying herself, though most of her attention was fixed on the TV. Every now and then she looked back and gave you a hesitant smile.
  706. > Once or twice you hit a particularly sensitive spot and felt the pony shiver and push back against your fingers.
  707. > It was great and you were finally making progress with the shy and timid pony. Everything was coming up Anon, it seemed.
  708. > Now if you could think up a way to smuggle the mare out of the building and through the city streets to a park, that'd be perfect.
  709. > You forgot the movie as you started working out that particular problem.
  711. > ~~~~
  713. > You waited until past midnight before you dared leave the apartment with Red Sky in tow. The building was quiet, but you still went out in the hallway for a few minutes to make sure. You pushed the elevator button and waited for it to slide open, ensuring that it was empty.
  714. > You used your backpack to jam the door and went back to let the pony out of the apartment.
  715. > Luckily, the building was ancient and didn't have automatic lights. That allowed you some additional cover and - more importantly - warning if anyone was approaching.
  716. > The mare walked and her hoofsteps seemed to echo through the silent building. You felt your heart leap into your throat and looked around nervously, expecting an outcry at any moment.
  717. > Seeing your expression, the pony froze and hunched down. You quickly put a finger to your lips, but then remembered that Red Sky probably wouldn't understand the gesture.
  718. "Ssh. Quiet!"
  719. > The pegasus nodded and took another nervous step. It was a lot quieter and you relaxed somewhat. You locked up, led her to the elevator and pushed basement.
  720. > The wait was unnerving as you expected the thing to stop on every floor to pick up another passenger. Only when it descended below the ground did you breathe a sigh of relief.
  721. > The basement was empty just like you had hoped. You led the silent mare down a few dark hallways, using your cellphone to light your way, until you reached the bicycle room. It had taken you a while to find the key for the outside door.
  722. > Remembering that had been a stroke of genus. It opened to a small ramp behind the building and allowed you to completely avoid the main entrance.
  723. > You knew the city blocks between you and the nearest park would be mostly empty, but even if you met someone, they wouldn't recognize you. Your secluded lifestyle saw to that.
  724. > Before you left the safety of the building you crouched down to address the pony.
  725. "Okay, stay close to me and try to be as quiet as possible. Hopefully, we won't meet anyone, but if we do, just keep walking. If it goes bad, fly away and go back to the apartment. I left the window open for you."
  726. > The mare nodded. She was obviously scared and nervous, but also excited. She gave you a weak grin. "Yes, Master! Thank you, Master!" she whispered, almost too quietly for you to hear.
  727. > You gathered up your courage and left with the pony in tow.
  728. > The streets were empty, as you had hoped. You stuck to the back alleys and avoided main roads. There were a few cars, which made both you and Red Sky freeze in your tracks, but none of them stopped.
  729. > Twenty minutes later you left the asphalt walkway and stepped on gravel. Sky followed for a few steps, then moved to the grass. It completely muffled her hoofsteps.
  730. "Smart girl," you commented.
  731. > The pony gave you a small smile.
  732. > You led her to a park bench then stopped. You didn't know exactly what to do from there on.
  733. "So... here we are."
  734. > Red Sky had been looking around. You saw her lift her muzzle up and sniff a few times. She seemed to be testing the air. Her wings opened party in anticipation of flight.
  735. > For the first time you began to fear that the mare would leave and not return. That fear, more than being caught, sank your stomach. It almost made you grab the pony and forcibly take her home. At the very least, you wished you had a leash and collar.
  736. > But your rational mind quickly reasserted itself. Had Sky wanted to take off, she would have done so the moment she was outside. For that matter, she could have opened a window and left at almost any time in the past few weeks.
  737. > "Is everything alright, Master?" she asked.
  738. > You made yourself nod.
  739. "I'm fine. You wanna go for a flight?"
  740. > The way she smiled at the offer made the entire ordeal worth it. "Yes! Please, yes, Master!"
  741. "Well, go on then. I'll wait for you here, okay?"
  742. > She jumped up into your arms to give you a tight hug. She even kissed your cheek.
  743. > "I won't be long, I promise, Master!" she chirped. "Thank you!"
  744. > Then, in a flurry of red feathers she was gone. Within seconds, her coat blended into the darkness and you lost sight of her.
  745. > Sighing, you sat down on the bench and pulled out your phone.
  746. > Distracting yourself was harder than usual. You kept looking at the clock and trying to guess when the pegasus would be back.
  747. > Fifteen minutes after she had gone, you stood up and began pacing. At twenty you sat back down and tried to browse the Internet.
  748. > The image boards kept your attention for all of four minutes, before you returned the phone to your pocket and scanned the dark sky.
  749. > As time dragged slowly on, you began to fear that the pony was gone for good. It was irrational, but you couldn't squash the thought.
  751. >...
  753. > Only forty-five minutes had gone, but it had felt like an eternity. You had tried, unsuccessfully, to distract yourself with Sudoku on your phone, but it wasn't working.
  754. > Levels, which you normally finished in three minutes, took nine.
  755. > But there was little else to do. You strained your ears for the flap of soft wings, or that sweet voice. Or the clop of hooves, if she landed elsewhere and walked for a bit.
  756. > Soon, you were firmly convinced that the mare had left you. As much as you tried telling yourself that an hour wasn't that long - that the pegasus had simply lost track of time - it didn't work. Whatever rational explanation you thought up was quickly subsumed under loneliness and anger.
  757. > You had given the pony everything. A good, kind home. Food. A place to sleep.
  758. > Red Sky wanted for nothing. You haven't said anything as her zeal with cleaning faded a little. You didn't even mention when she forgot to do the dishes a few times and you had to clean them yourself.
  759. > At the very least, you finally decided, the horse should have shown you the courtesy of being honest. She could have said she wanted to leave - it wasn't as if you could ever catch her.
  760. > But to promise that she would return and then vanish, was just low.
  761. > You were almost about to cry when a swish of air and a soft thump registered on your senses. You leapt up from the park bench to find Red Sky standing before you.
  762. > She was breathing heavily, sweaty and exhausted, but there was exhilaration in her eyes and a huge smile on her face.
  763. > "That..." she said even as she gasped for breath, "was amazing. Thank... you Master!"
  764. > At first you wanted to drop down to your knees and throw your arms around the mare, but you remembered the misery and loneliness of waiting.
  765. "You were gone a long time."
  766. > The remark, together with the look on your face and the tone of your voice quickly wiped the grin from Sky's face. Her eyes grew wide and the pony crept up closer to you.
  767. > "I- I did- didn't mean to, M-master!" she stammered fearfully. "I'm s-sorry! I l-lost track of t-t-time!"
  768. > She tried to put her hooves around your waist, but you roughly pushed her away. That would have melted your anger too quickly.
  769. "I thought you ran away!"
  770. > Mutely, the pegasus shook her head. A faint light from a distant street lamp made her eyes glitter with tears. "I w-wouldn't do that, Ma-master! I swear! I wouldn't leave you!"
  771. > She hung her head and sniffled in misery. "You're nice to me."
  772. > Finally what you were doing came through to you. The pony hadn't intended anything bad. An hour wasn't a long time. You almost slapped yourself for being stupid.
  773. > Quickly you dropped down and gathered the mare into a hug.
  774. "I understand. Shhh, it's okay. Don't cry."
  775. > She gratefully buried her muzzle in your shirt. A few small sobs escaped her, but Sky relaxed a little and allowed herself to breathe again.
  776. > "I'm sorry, Master," she said again and nuzzled your neck.
  777. > You patted her head and stood up, lifting her.
  778. "It's okay, it's okay. I just wasn't expecting you to be gone this long. Next time I'll know better, okay?"
  779. > The pegasus pulled her head away and started at your face in shock. "N-next time?"
  780. > She didn't seem to believe it.
  781. "Yes. But we have to figure out an easier way to sneak you out."
  782. > "I c-could fly, Master," she said quietly.
  783. "What?"
  784. > "T-the window. I could fly out. I k-know how to hide."
  785. > You could have thought of that. After all, that's how she came into your life. Feeling a tiny bit stupid, you nodded.
  786. "Yeah, that could work. Why didn't I think of that?"
  787. > The pony gave you a tentative smile. "H-humans sometimes forget ponies c-can fly," she explained.
  788. "Yeah, I guess so."
  789. > She examined your face for a while as you made your slow way back through the park. Then she opened her mouth again. "C-can I fly some more, M-master?"
  790. > You stopped in your tracks.
  791. "What? Now?"
  792. > Her ears folded down as if she was expecting a reprimand, but the mare cautiously continued. "Please? I w-would like to fly a bit more. I can come in through the w-window!"
  793. > It was a lot to ask and the pony knew it. You thought her eyes became larger, somehow. She even pouted a little. It quickly melted your heart.
  794. "Okay. Yes."
  795. > This time her kiss landed right on your lips. In a flash, her wings were around your shoulders.
  796. > You tried to stick your tongue out, but the pony withdrew before you could reach her. Unfortunate, but still progress. Sky was very much opposed to kissing and you hadn't pushed her on the issue.
  797. > Somehow, despite the darkness and her color, you knew Red Sky blushed just as deeply as you. She averted her eyes and squirmed a little in your arms.
  798. > You carefully put her down.
  799. "Well, have fun. I'll leave the window open, just - don't be too long, okay?"
  800. > This was firmer ground and the pony quickly nodded. "Yes, Master! I promise!"
  801. > She didn't wait around. A few strong flaps took her out of the sight again. The wind she kicked up chilled you a little, so you hurried back toward the building.
  803. >...
  805. > The excursions became a weekly routine. Once it was clear that Red Sky didn't want to leave you, and once you had arranged a less nerve-racking way to exit the building you even came to enjoy those night walks.
  806. > The pony flew out the bedroom window and waited for you in the park. Sometimes she hid in the bushes if people were around, but not once was she spotted.
  807. > One benefit of your neet lifestyle was that no one knew you. A few blocks away, you felt secure enough in your anonymity that you could take Red Sky into restaurants.
  808. > There weren't many that would serve ponies, but you found some smaller, family-owned places which didn't make too much of a fuss. At the times you visited, the places were empty.
  809. > A few times there were gawkers, making both you and Red Sky uncomfortable, but you just left.
  810. > So far, no one had ever followed you.
  811. > Occasionally, you just went to a nearby McDonalds. Apparently chocolate shakes were even better than plain chocolate and the way Red Sky hugged the cup with her forehooves with her lips glued to the straw was especially endearing.
  812. > She was so enthralled with the treat that it gave you plenty of time to play with her mane and wing feathers as she slurped the cold liquid.
  813. > Plus, the pony was very liberal with her affections after one of those, so you considered it a good investment.
  814. > Once you were both done, you headed back home. The pegasus gave you enough of a head start to reach the flat and open the window for her, before flying up.
  815. > When she got home, Sky always hugged you and thanked you profusely, then went to her makeshift bed in the living room.
  816. > The fact that she still preferred to sleep there worried you.
  818. > ~~~~
  820. > You lay awake, listening to Red Sky's soft snores as you tried to figure out what was going wrong. Nearly two months had gone by, but Red Sky wasn't warming up to you. Not enough.
  821. > Sure, she was polite and did most of the housework, but she still insisted on sleeping alone. She shied away from your touch and squirmed uncomfortably every time you tried to kiss her.
  822. > And she absolutely never initiated sex. At best, you'd say she tolerated it.
  823. > More and more, the pegasus wanted to fly alone. She wasn't interested in your company. Even the promise of icecream or a milkshake didn't seem to have the appeal it once had.
  824. > The pony didn't say anything. Whenever you asked if there was a problem, she just gave you a wide smile, quickly said no, then proceeded to thank you for being nice to her.
  825. > You had a feeling that something was bothering her, but probing the pegasus about it yielded no result. She insisted everything was fine. If you pushed the topic, she looked like she was about to cry.
  826. > There was a faint clink as your questing hand bumped an empty mug on the nightstand. You found your phone beside it and briefly turned on the screen.
  827. > Two-thirty A.M. You put the phone back clumsily, this time knocking the cup over. It smashed against the floor and you quickly palmed the light switch.
  828. > Not even a minute later, Sky was in your bedroom door.
  829. > "E-everything alright, Master?" she asked, sleepily. Her eyes went to the pottery shards.
  830. > You glared at her, making the pony flinch away from your gaze.
  831. "Why was this here? I thought you cleaned my room yesterday!"
  832. > She took a small step back and gulped in fear. "I'm s-sorry, Master!" she stammered quickly. "It d-didn't look d-dirty! I'm sorry!"
  833. > You forced yourself to relax and lowered your voice a little.
  834. "Well, you could have taken the dishes back, at least."
  835. > She turned her eyes to an empty plate, which was still on the nightstand. "I'll get it in- in the m-morning, Master," she promised.
  836. > But it wasn't good enough. The quality of her work had been slipping and you needed to remind the pegasus what her job was.
  837. > You jabbed your finger to the dish again.
  838. "Get it now. You can wash it in the morning."
  839. > She almost began to move, but Sky managed to stand her ground. "It's th-the middle of the night, M-master," she said. Her fear was still palpable and made her voice shake, but she seemed determined about this. "In the morning. I p-promise!"
  840. > Never before had the mare disobeyed a direct order like that. It made you feel cold and uncomfortable.
  841. "I said now! And clean up this mess!"
  842. > It came out more forcefully than you had intended, but it had its effect. Red Sky leapt into the air and fled.
  843. > Just when you thought you had frightened her away, the pony was back with a brush in her mouth. She bent down to sweep up the shards and you could see how much she was trembling.
  844. > But you didn't want to be soft. You had tried that, and all it did was make the pegasus lazy.
  845. > If Red Sky was determined to be a slave and nothing more, maybe you should accept it and treat her that way?
  846. > She finished sweeping and galloped out to fetch a dustpan. Not much later she had gathered most of the pieces, which she carefully carried away.
  847. > You said nothing when she finally returned, only to grab the empty plate in her mouth and leave again. You heard running water in the kitchen as she hurriedly washed it.
  848. > Only then did you relax. You felt slightly ashamed. Your reaction had been uncalled for and your voice had been too sharp. After all, you had knocked the damn mug over yourself.
  849. > You got up and went to look for the mare. You found her sitting on the couch, staring at a wall. She either didn't notice you, or was doing her best to ignore your presence. Her shoulders were shaking, as she held back her sobbing.
  850. > She didn't even look when you sat down beside her.
  851. > You tried to put your hand in her mane, but she shifted away, still refusing to look.
  852. "I'm sorry."
  853. > It took a lot of guts to admit that, but you couldn't leave things as they were.
  854. > Finally, her blue eyes sought out yours. They were full of tears. But the pony said nothing.
  855. "Please talk to me."
  856. > Finally, there was some response. She sighed deeply and hung her head. "Why? You'll just yell or b-beat me."
  857. > It was the most candid you remembered her speak. It gave you hope that you might be able to tease something out of her this time. You just had to approach it in the right way.
  858. "I won't. I promise. You can tell me anything."
  859. > "P-promise?"
  860. "I swear."
  861. > It took her a while to form up the words, but you saw how her eyes moved around as she thought and so you didn't bother her. At long last, her ears rose up and focused on you and Sky took a deep breath.
  862. > "I felt just like before- with the old Master. When you yelled. It hurt."
  863. > You had guessed as much, but having it confirmed in that sad, quiet voice nearly broke your heart. You put your hand on her whithers and this time the pegasus didn't shy away.
  864. "I'm really sorry. I was just frustrated. I didn't mean to yell."
  865. > But Sky wasn't finished yet. Now that she had started, the pony wanted to get it all out.
  866. > "You say you want me to be happy, but you treat me like a slave. Worse!"
  867. > That was news to you. Red Sky definitely had a better life than before.
  868. "How am I treating you worse?! I'm not beating you or starving you like that bastard of your last owner!"
  869. > She was shaking her head even before you had finished. "At least the old m-master didn't expect me to like it. And to- to enjoy being rutted every day!"
  870. > It was like a slap in the face. Your hands clenched without any conscious input.
  871. "You mean you don't like to- that I'm-"
  872. > You found it hard to even say. You had never seen it that way. The pony had consented! Even asked you to do it!
  873. > But here she was, hunched down in fear, ears folded flat, wings at the ready to try and protect her face. And she shook her head with wide, staring eyes.
  874. > As soon as she had done it, Red Sky knew she had made a mistake. She quickly tried to repair some of the damage.
  875. > "It- it's not s-so bad, M-master. I don- don't mind so m-much!" she stammered rapidly, trying to take the sting back.
  876. > The only words that entered your mind were 'ungrateful bitch', but some higher aspiration made you hold it back.
  877. > You took several deep breaths to try and calm down.
  878. > "A-are you going to b-beat me now, Master?" Sky asked fearfully.
  879. > It was an effort to choke out your reply, but you managed.
  880. "No. I didn't know you felt that way. I'm sorry."
  881. > Both you and the pegasus knew it wasn't a sincere apology, but it was a start. She even relaxed a tiny bit.
  882. > She poked her snout closer to give your tightly clenched fist a timid lick. "I d-didn't say no because I was af-afraid, Master," she explained.
  883. > Well, you had your answers. They weren't ones you liked, but at least it was some progress after all the time wondering what was going wrong.
  884. "Yeah, I understand."
  885. > You still hadn't decided how to react. But you really wanted the mare to be happy - that much, at least, hadn't changed.
  886. > "W-what happens now, M-master. I'm so-sorry. I'll go if you don't want me anymore," the pony said sadly and let her head fall down into the couch cushion.
  887. > In a flash of inspiration, you decided on the best course of action. You made your hand unclench and lifted Sky's face with your fingers under her chin.
  888. "No, Red. I meant it when I said I want you to be happy. Let's just take it slow, okay? No more r-"
  889. > The word was just as hard to say this time.
  890. "No more rutting."
  891. > But you didn't want to give up completely everything. You chose to leave the mare with her less onerous duties.
  892. "I still want you to cook and clean around here, but I won't... force you to... you know. Deal?"
  893. > She turned it over in her head. It took a while. She didn't fully trust it and you couldn't blame her.
  894. > But it seemed Sky had little choice. Above all, it was obvious she didn't want to live outside, or take chances with a new owner. She nodded, her eyes fixed on your face to gauge your reaction.
  895. > You managed an approving smile. Losing the sex was a huge disappointment, but you were convinced the mare would come around, eventually.
  896. "Anything else bothering you?"
  897. > She quickly shook her head, unwilling to press her luck.
  898. "Good. Go back to sleep now. We'll talk more tomorrow."
  899. > The pony gave you a silent nod and you got up to return to your own bed.
  900. > Before you could step away, her hooves were around your waist. "Thank you, Master!" she said quietly.
  901. > That was the most sincere you had heard Red Sky since the day you met her.
  902. > You gave the orange mane a tousle.
  903. "I meant it when I said I want you happy. You should have said something sooner."
  904. > The hug went on for almost a minute in silence. It was the longest Sky had voluntarily touched you.
  905. > It was a little confirmation that you were doing the correct thing. When you got back to bed, your pride in yourself outshined the loss of nuptials.
  906. > It would suck to have to go back to 'handling' the issue yourself, but if it resulted in the mare growing closer to you and becoming intimate of her own volition, it would be worth it.
  907. > Maybe, in time, she would even agree to sleep in your bed. After all, what you really wanted, you realized, was a companion. A real relationship, not just a fucktoy.
  908. > Perhaps now Sky will start becoming that. Her having the guts to tell you what she had was surely a sign of the pony growing to trust you a little, right?
  910. > ~~~~
  912. > Things went back to almost normal. You made a point to keep bringing Sky chocolate treats when you went to the store or during your night-time walks. The first few times she watched you warily, no doubt waiting to see if you would keep your word.
  913. > She slowly relaxed when nothing happened. After a while, the pony opened up more. She began talking about her past even without being directly questioned.
  914. > Then, one particular winter evening, as you were sitting on a park bench, the mare looked at you with a strange expression.
  915. > "Master?" she asked. "Y-you asked me how I was captured."
  916. > She was right, but having seen how much distress it was causing the pony to remember that particular event you hadn't pressed the issue.
  917. "Yeah, once. But you didn't want to talk about it."
  918. > It was a long, emotional moment. Her eyes wandered away and her lip trembled as the pegasus was making a decision.
  919. > "I think I'd like to tell you now," she finally said. It sent your heart racing. This was important.
  920. "If you're sure."
  921. > You placed a gloved hand on her withers. You couldn't understand how the pony wasn't cold, but Red Sky had insisted that her fur was enough, even when the temperatures dropped to freezing.
  922. > "Yes. I trust you, Master."
  923. > The confirmation felt really good. You didn't regret the decision to back off and take it slow with her in the slightest. She even leaned her head against your shoulder. Sure there was a lot of cloth in the way, but the gesture still counted.
  924. > "I'm from-" she began, but then corrected with a small sigh: "I *was* from Dodge City. I was training for weather scout duty when- when the war began."
  925. > Her stutter was doing a lot better, now that the mare was starting to trust you, but bad memories always brought it back.
  926. > You let her continue at her own pace.
  927. > "I didn't know who or what the strangers were when they came into the city. I think the war hadn't started just yet, or at least we haven't heard of it. They set up camp just outside of town."
  928. > You knew approximately what you were about to hear, but you still found yourself irrationally hoping that the story would have a happy ending.
  929. > After a short pause, Sky went on. "There was a panic in the night. We thought the dragons were attacking or something. We didn't know it was the humans until it was too l-late. I flew out to try and help, b-but..."
  930. > Her wide stare didn't seem to register your presence anymore. The mare was lost in the past. You wanted to snap her out of it, but you were afraid she would stop her story, so you decided to let it go on for a tad longer.
  931. > She was trembling slightly, but it wasn't from cold. You began stroking her mane with your other hand. It seemed to help somewhat.
  932. > "Ponies were dying," she said at last, in a low, fearful voice. For a moment, her eyes found yours. The best word to describe them was 'haunted'. "Guns- we didn't know what they were. We thought it was some kind of new magic. I- I couldn't stand to see..."
  933. > A sob escaped her and the mare didn't resist when you snaked your arms around her barrel and hugged her tightly.
  934. "Shh, it's okay. You're safe now."
  935. > It took her a little while to calm down enough to continue. "I panicked," she admitted, looking away and blushing a little in deep shame. "I just wanted to get home and hide with my parents. B-but they-"
  936. > Now she began to openly cry and you didn't know how to console her, other than hugging and stroking. You briefly debated telling her to stop - the story was obviously too much for the mare.
  937. > But now you were curious and you couldn't bring yourself to let it go.
  938. "I'm here, don't worry. It's okay, Sky."
  939. > You made your voice as soothing as you could. It did the trick, at least for now. The pegasus focused on your face again and her shuddering stopped.
  940. > "Th-thank you, M-master," she managed.
  941. "Can you go on?"
  942. > She gave it some thought, then slowly nodded. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath.
  943. > "The humans got there before m-me," she said. Suddenly, her hooves shot out and wrapped tightly around your arm, as if clinging to dear life.
  944. > "T-they k-k-killed them! Mom and Dad!" she burst out. "They were too old to s-sell, so they j-just killed them!"
  945. > Her whole body shook with racking sobs and you saw her wings unfurl part way. The mare was bumping her forehead into your shoulder, as if trying to dislodge the image.
  946. > You had heard enough. Maybe even too much.
  947. "You don't have to go on, Sky. That's horrible. I'm so sorry..."
  948. > But she had one last piece to get off her chest. "T-hey put chains on me w-while I cried!" the pegasus wailed.
  949. > Then the dam broke down and she wept and wept.
  950. > After you were over the shock of it all, you gathered the weeping pony into your arms. She was still trembling, so you unzipped your jacket and wrapped it as far as it would go around her.
  951. > It quickly chilled you, but you paid it no mind. The poor creature was the important thing now.
  952. > It occurred to you to rock her left and right, gently, like you've seen people do with small children. Maybe it worked, after a while.
  953. > It took a long time for Sky's weeping to taper off. In the end, she was just pressing her face to your damp shirt and sobbing silently. Eventually, even that gradually ceased.
  954. > You didn't know when she fell asleep, but suddenly the pony emitted a small snore. It was the cutest thing you had ever seen and warmed your heart, despite the sub zero temperatures around you.
  955. > It would be risky to carry the pony home through the building, but it was late and you were unlikely to encounter anyone.
  956. > All these night excursions had shown you that people don't normally leave their apartments at night.
  957. > "Oh my, that's adorable!" A new voice broke you out of your thoughts. You hadn't even noticed the woman approach.
  958. > She was middle-aged, had a bright red coat and an umbrella. You couldn't even guess what she was doing out this late, in winter. Maybe a late shift at her job?
  959. > Red Sky shifted a little in your arms and murmured something. The woman quickly put a hand to her lips.
  960. > "Oh, I'm so sorry! I didn't realize it was asleep! I didn't mean to wake it!" she whispered. You felt it would be useless to try and explain that ponies had much better hearing than humans.
  961. > The gesture and tone were nice enough, so you managed a small grin.
  962. "Her name is Red Sky. She's just resting after a walk."
  963. > You didn't want to go into detail. You voice made the pony wriggle a little again, but you hugged her tighter and she calmed down. The cuddling, even if involuntary on her part, was heavenly. You couldn't wait until Sky wanted to do it of her own volition.
  964. > The lady smiled approvingly. "Well, It's nice to see people being kind to the poor dears. If more people were like you, young man, we wouldn't see so many horrible stories on the TV about the wretched things."
  965. > She seemed educated and wealthy. People like that usually put you off, but now that you had something in common, you decided that this one was alright.
  966. "Name's Anon, by the way."
  967. > The woman gasped. "Oh! Are you related to Mr. Anonymous from the news then? Is that how you got a pony? The one with the computers?"
  968. > You shook your head. It was a common question. "No, sorry. Same name, is all. Just a coincidence."
  969. > She seemed to shrug a little. "Well, you're still a good man from what I can see. But you should get the poor thing home and get her a cup of hot cocoa."
  970. > The advice was solid.
  971. "I'll do that, ma'am."
  972. > When she was gone, you stared after the strange woman. The encounter seemed unreal. But it had felt good. The praise had served to reinforce your new approach to handling Red Sky.
  973. > As if summoned by your thought, the pony opened her eyes. "Mm? Wh're 'm I?" she mumbled sleepily.
  974. "Shh, go back to sleep. I'll take you home."
  975. > She drew a long breath and slowly let it out. The way she stared up at the sky told you that she was still thinking about her story. Maybe that was why she didn't resist being held.
  976. > "I miss my friends and family," she said, at last, still not looking at you.
  977. "I know, dear. But you're safe now. Let's go."
  978. > She wriggled a little, trying to get out of your lap. With a tinge of regret you let her go. The cold, night air stabbed you like an icy knife when her warm fur pulled away from your shirt.
  979. > "I- I'll fly up, Master. I'm sorry for- I didn't mean to fall-"
  980. > You interrupted her with a finger on her lips.
  981. "Don't apologize. I didn't mind."
  982. > Seeing your slight grin cheered her up a little. But then her frown was back. "Ma-master?" she asked, timidly.
  983. "Yes?"
  984. > "M-may I go fly some more? I- I need to think," she pleaded. Her eyes refused to meet yours as they fell to the ground. She pulled her head back a little and haunched her shoulders. The mare was still uneasy about asking for stuff.
  985. > You were in a very good mood after the cuddle, so you quickly decided.
  986. "Sure thing. When will you be back?"
  987. > With your approval, the pony quickly relaxed. "D-dunno, Master. I'd like to stay out longer. Before morning, I promise!"
  988. > The ordeal of memory must have shaken her up pretty badly if she needed that much time alone to think. But you couldn't see the harm. The pony obviously wasn't cold and you were pretty confident in her ability to hide.
  989. "Okay, just be safe. Knock on my window to let you in."
  990. > She wrapped her wings around your shoulders with a small squeak.
  991. > "Thank you, Master! Thank you!"
  992. > At this rate, the mare would be giving her affections freely in no time. She blazed away in a flurry of feathers and you whistled to yourself as you headed home.
  994. > ~~~~
  996. > Something was happening with Red Sky. You couldn't say what, but you were worried. The pony was changing and you didn't like it.
  997. > Her housekeeping kept slipping further, until you had to point out specific chores to her and check if she had performed them. Occasionally, you even had to raise your voice to get her moving.
  998. > The mare spent most of her time sleeping or watching TV. Even treats, like chocolate or ice cream did little to rouse her lately.
  999. > But perhaps the worst part was her tone.
  1000. > Most of the time, the pony was still afraid of you. Not once had you struck her, but Sky still flinched when you yelled. She still cowered and hid her face.
  1001. > Sometimes, though, it was different. You could usually tell in advance - it was when she failed to perform even the simplest tasks, and most often right when she woke up.
  1002. > Again, you found the sink piled high with dishes. That, combined with the full laundry basket and unswept floors told you exactly what Red Sky had been doing the entire day.
  1003. > You yourself had also been asleep, but you had left exact instructions while you were having dinner with the pony.
  1004. "Sky!"
  1005. > Rather than a response, there came a groan from the living room. When you entered, you saw that the mare had covered her head with the pillow and was doing her best to ignore you.
  1006. "Sky! Get up!"
  1007. > Luckily the fabric muffled the curse. "-uck yoo!"
  1008. > The anger had been building up for a while. You roughly grabbed the blanket and pulled it away. Then you pried the pillow from under her hooves.
  1009. "Look at me!" you demanded.
  1010. > "No thanks!" the pony countered. Even now, she attempted to bury her face in the couch.
  1011. "Why didn't you do any of the chores?!"
  1012. > The mare heaved an exasperated sigh and turned, glaring. "Headache. Go away!"
  1013. > It sounded like a lie.
  1014. "Bullshit!"
  1015. > She quickly changed her response. "I'll do it later. I'm tired."
  1016. "You've been sleeping the entire day!"
  1017. > "So have you!"
  1018. > She was technically correct, but you weren't going to let it slide. Not anymore. When all was said and done, the pony was your slave.
  1019. "Not important! You went to bed at eight! I was up all night."
  1020. > She sneered, but at least the mare was moving her lazy ass as she stretched.
  1021. > "Doing what?" she demanded. Her tone became higher as she mocked. "Shitposting and clopping the whole night? Such worthy pursuits!"
  1022. > Before you realized it, your arm was raised and ready to strike. But you hesitated. Despite everything, you had never hit Red Sky, not even once.
  1023. > She was staring at your fist. "Go on!" she said angrily. "Do it already! We both know it's just a matter of time."
  1024. > Her taunt had exactly the opposite effect. You forced your hand to unclench and let it drop.
  1025. "No, Sky. I promised I wouldn't beat you."
  1026. > She snorted in derision. "Pussy."
  1027. > That was the closest she had come to an actual slap. Even the mare sensed it. She had another insult ready, but hesitated. Her gaze fell to the floor.
  1028. > "Sorry," she said, at last. The pony seemed to deflate completely.
  1029. "What the fuck is wrong with you lately? I did everything you asked and this is how you act?"
  1030. > A little bit of fire was left. "Yeah?! I'm supposed to be grateful because my *owner* is treating me nice? In case it slipped your mind, Anon: I don't appreciate slavery as much as you!"
  1031. > You couldn't help but compare this pegasus with the one that had crashed into your room all those months ago. She had been dirty, disheveled and bruised from many beatings. And she had been grateful for any shred of kindness you had given her.
  1032. > Now, when her needs were met and the pony had a decent, comfortable life, her ideology had reasserted itself and she made herself miserable with this whole slavery thing.
  1033. > You were pissed, but you still wanted to help.
  1034. "Well, what if you think about it as payment for room and food?"
  1035. > For a moment Sky looked as if she would spit at you. Her eyes widened and her nostrils flared as she blew air out. She even began trembling in rage.
  1036. > "Payment?" she asked slowly. Her voice was low and dangerous and her ears were flat. She puffed out her wings a little to make herself look bigger. "Payment for food?"
  1037. "Yeah. It's almost like a job."
  1038. > Something seemed to snap in the pony. "BUCK YOU!" she shouted at the top of her lungs. "Buck you! And this place! And buck this whole world!"
  1039. > You pressed a finger against your lips to try and make her quieter, but it just spurred her on.
  1040. > "You miserable, fat horseapple! A job is something you *choose*! OH! WAIT! You don't know that, do you? Because you don't have one, you lazy human... cunt!" The pony yelled. There didn't seem to be a way to stop her.
  1041. > You could have hit her, but the idea didn't even occur to you. Somehow, the sight of the furious mare made you afraid.
  1042. > But she still wasn't done. "Let me get this straight: I sweep your floor and wash your dishes and do your laundry and cook, and in return you'll let me stay here and give me food? What if I want a cake? Should I cuddle and hug you? What would it cost if I want to go for a walk? Maybe I sleep in your bed one night?"
  1043. > You had backed away, but the pony just leapt from the couch to the coffee table and went on.
  1044. > "What if I get sick and need medicine? That's gotta be expensive. Do I lift my tail for you? Oh, I know! Maybe I let the doctor rut me instead."
  1045. "Sky, stop! Please!"
  1046. > She just ignored your plea and jumped down to the floor, so she could keep advancing on you. For a moment you saw the absurdity of the situation - the mare was less than half your size, and yet you were the one walking backward from her furious glare.
  1047. > "Can you write up a price list? I dunno - something like: 'Chocolate chip cookies: 5 second kiss, no tongue'. Just so I know how much things *cost* here!"
  1048. "I didn't mean-"
  1049. > "SHUT THE BUCK UP!" the pony screamed. Her voice was cracking from the exertion, but it just made her seem angrier.
  1050. > You had backed right up against the wall. Red Sky spread her wings further.
  1051. > "GET OUT!" she demanded.
  1052. "What?!"
  1053. > "OUT! I don't want to look at you right now! Get lost and leave me alone!"
  1054. > Shock, fear and confusion worked their insidious magic. You quickly got dressed, put on your boots and left the apartment. Maybe a short walk wasn't a bad idea. It would let tempers cool and give you time to think.
  1055. > This was the aspect of the pony you had never imagined existed. You didn't know how to handle it.
  1056. > ...
  1057. > Mrs. Arbuckle accosted you on the hallway. "Is everything alright, Anon?" she asked worriedly and tried to peer into your flat, which you quickly closed and locked.
  1058. "Yeah. Why do you ask?"
  1059. > You already knew the answer. Red Sky had been loud enough to wake the dead. The whole building must have heard her. It was yet another problem and you quickly tried to come up with an excuse why there was a pony in your apartment.
  1060. > "I heard your... disagreement with your young lady," the elderly woman said.
  1061. > Your breath caught and you felt your palms getting sweaty.
  1062. "Y-young lady?"
  1063. > She laid a hand on your shoulder. It was meant to be a comforting gesture, but it didn't work this time.
  1064. > "I know you didn't ask for my advice, but here it is anyway: It's not hopeless, Anon. Get the lady some flowers and chocolates and apologize."
  1065. "But..."
  1066. > The woman didn't even blink at your interjection. "I know, it probably isn't your fault, whatever happened between you two. But take it from me - if you apologize and talk it through, everything is going to be alright."
  1067. > Her smile could only be called 'motherly'. That, plus the fact that she not once mentioned anything about a pony gave you hope. The old crone just thought you had a girlfriend.
  1068. > "By the way, Anon, you shouldn't hide your lady friend like that. I haven't even met her! How long have you two been together?"
  1069. > The old woman was getting dangerously nosy. You needed an out, preferably without making any promises. You gut told you that Mrs. Arbuckle could turn into a big problem, if you didn't handle it properly.
  1070. > It was all getting too complicated with Red Sky and all the lies and sneaking about.
  1071. "If the flowers and chocolates work, I'll bring her over for tea, deal?"
  1072. > It was genius. You could later pretend to be depressed in front of the self-appointed grandmother and there would be no more uncomfortable questions.
  1073. > But you really had to make sure the pony would keep quiet in the future. Maybe a few gifts and a heart-to-heart talk were exactly what you two needed?
  1074. > You quickly excused yourself and left.
  1075. >...
  1076. > Your budget was strained, but you sprang for a box of chocolates. After some thinking, you forewent the flowers. Sky would probably just eat them anyway.
  1077. > Luckily you didn't meet Mrs. Arbuckle in the hallway on your way back. You hesitated at the door before fiddling with the key. At long last, you took a deep breath and pushed it open.
  1078. > The mare was lying on a thin blanket right in front of you. She had been watching and listening, judging from the way her ears were perked up and directed at the door. They quickly turned back and the pony lowered her gaze.
  1079. > You entered and shut the door before someone could chance by and see her.
  1080. > "Master, I-" Red Sky began, but didn't find any words to continue. There were still faint traces of tears. She had been crying.
  1081. > That miserable face with its soulful look worked its pony magic. You instantly forgave the things she had said.
  1082. > "I'm sorry," the mare finished lamely. She looked to the side and you saw your belt, neatly laid out. "I d-deserve it," Sky explained after seeing your questioning look.
  1083. > The pony fully expected you to beat her, it seemed. For a moment you considered doing it.
  1084. > You had tried being nice to the pegasus, but it obviously wasn't working. But punishments also weren't the answer. That would make you no different than the last scumbag owner. Plus, Sky would undoubtedly run away from you soon after.
  1085. > She waited patiently while you were deciding what to do. At long last, you knelt down and put a hand in her mane. To her credit, Sky barely even flinched at the touch.
  1086. "I'm not going to beat you."
  1087. > The eyes that sought out yours were incredulous. "A-after what I s-said?" she enquired with a shaky voice.
  1088. "Nope. Here, I got you these."
  1089. > Only now did the pegasus notice the gift in your hand. She looked from it to you, then back to the box. She opened her mouth to speak, but shut it when no words came out. Her muzzle scrunched up in confusion.
  1090. > "What?!" she finally managed. "Why?!"
  1091. > Even her befuddlement was adorable. You tried to explain as best as you could.
  1092. "Because I wanted to say thanks for everything you do around here. Maybe if I appreciated it more, you wouldn't feel like a slave all the time."
  1093. > Before she could stop it, the mare blurted out: "Only some of the time?"
  1094. > A hoof came up to plug her mouth, only a tad too late. "Sorry," she mumbled.
  1095. > Rather than making you angry, the outburst just made you chuckle.
  1096. "Look, you don't have it bad here, right? You're clean, fed and you have a warm place to sleep. I'm not beating you or abusing you..."
  1097. > You kept yourself from saying 'anymore'.
  1098. "The work isn't hard and you have a ton of free time. So what's wrong? Talk to me, Sky."
  1099. > The mare was silent. She watched your face for a while, then moved her gaze to the box you were still holding. She drew a shuddering breath.
  1100. > "Thank you, M-master," she said at last. "I w-was ungrateful. I'm sorry."
  1101. > She sounded mechanical and insincere. But it seemed like progress. You opened the chocolates and offered them to her.
  1102. "Here, you can have all of this whenever you like. And no chores today, okay? I'll do the dishes and the laundry can wait until tomorrow."
  1103. > Sky looked at the bounty before her. She licked her lips, but didn't take a piece. "Thank you, Master," she said, flatly. It still sounded wrong, which made you sigh.
  1104. "What's wrong?"
  1105. > For a moment, the mare looked like she was about to talk. But then she hung her head. "Nothing, Master."
  1106. > It was hopeless. The pony refused to open up. The only thing you could think of was to reduce her workload. Sure it would suck to have to do some of the things yourself, but if it made Sky feel better, it would be worth it.
  1107. > You heaved a sad sigh and stood up. You put the box on the floor before the pony.
  1108. > "M-master?"
  1109. > You glanced down, but Sky wasn't looking at you. She was staring fixedly at the chocolates.
  1110. "Yes?"
  1111. > The annoyance was clear in your voice. You hadn't been able to hide your frustration at Sky's recalcitrance.
  1112. > "I w-would like t-to sleep in y-your bed, to-tonight," Sky stammered. You saw her entire body trembling slightly. It had obviously been very difficult for her to say.
  1113. "Really?"
  1114. > The boner was instantaneous.
  1115. > "Yes," Sky answered, still refusing to look at you. "I'm sorry for yelling," she went on, "and thank you for the chocolates. Thank you for being a kind Master, M-master."
  1117. > ~~~~
  1119. > Waking up with a pegasus in your arms was exactly as nice as you had always imagined. Not to mention the way Sky had pushed you back and climbed on you the night before had been especially hot. Something about the pony riding you in your own bed made it all the better.
  1120. > Presently, you were careful not to move so that you wouldn't wake the sleeping mare. Despite her initial hesitation, once Sky had become drowsy enough she had unconsciously wriggled herself closer against your warmth.
  1121. > Of course you hadn't gotten much sleep. The feel of her soft body, the sound of her breathing; even the occasional kick of her legs as she dreamed, have overloaded your senses and kept you awake most of the night.
  1122. > You didn't complain, however. You only hoped that this wasn't a one-time deal. Something told you that the wonderful night had been just Sky's way of saying 'sorry' for snapping at you. There was the briefest pang of guilt for taking her up on the offer, but you quickly suppressed it.
  1123. > Instead, you saw it as another step. Slowly, little by little, you would win the pony over.
  1124. > You couldn't stay still for long. The sight of the sleeping pegasus was too much and you leaned closer to brush her mane with your lips. That was enough to wake her up.
  1125. > Sky looked at you blankly, obviously uncertain how she had gotten there. But before she could ask, the pony yawned and stretched. The motion caused her to poke her wings into your chest and lift the blanket as she extended all four legs.
  1126. "Morning, beautiful."
  1127. > For one, blissful moment Sky was content to lie there, but too soon she wriggled out of your grasp. You let her go with a small, disappointed sigh.
  1128. > She landed on the hardwood with four quiet clicks, then turned to face you. She didn't look worried or uneasy, which you took as a good sign.
  1129. > "Morning, Master," Sky echoed. "Shall I make you breakfast?"
  1130. > A thought presented itself.
  1131. "No. Today I'm making YOU breakfast."
  1132. > "It's n-no problem, Master. I'll be happy to-" she began, but you interrupted her with a palm on her muzzle.
  1133. "Hush. It's fine. Get that cute butt to the couch and relax."
  1134. > Slowly she nodded and you took your hand away. "Yes, Master." Somehow, the pony didn't look too happy, but she did as you asked.
  1135. > Soon you had two servings of scrambled eggs ready and you took them to the coffee table. Sky had picked the cartoon channel and was watching the colorful antics of Daffy Duck with some interest. She barely noticed when you laid the plates down and went back to fetch two glasses of juice.
  1136. > She remembered her manners when you sat down. "Thank you, Master," she said. Her ears were focused on the TV, even as the mare watched you start eating. Only then did she dig in herself.
  1137. >...
  1138. > Sky refused to sleep with you the very next night. She stammered and mumbled through some apology, but you forced yourself to smile and say it was okay. She looked at you strangely, almost disbelieving, but was all too happy to be let off the hook.
  1139. > True, it was disappointing, but you were slowly learning to read the pony. The previous day's offer really had just been guilt, you realized.
  1140. > For a moment you considered ordering her or simply refusing to accept her apology, but you had seen how well that had worked.
  1141. > Instead, you tried to come up with a better way. Making the pony relaxed around you, that was a start. Perhaps, instead of ordering her around or assigning her chores, you could ask her to do it. Give her choices.
  1142. > Having to do the work yourself if Sky said no would be irksome, but the end result was definitely worth it.
  1143. > And spending more time just talking, that would surely help. There was one activity in particular that seemed to loosen the pony's tongue and bring you closer.
  1144. > You decided to increase the number of late-night walks to every day.
  1145. > It quickly became routine.
  1146. >...
  1147. > Luckily, most people were fast asleep at one A.M., so you rarely encountered other humans.
  1148. > Each night Red Sky asked to stay out by herself, to fly and stretch her wings. You returned home and waited by the window for the pony to come back. Usually you grew bored before that happened. You went to bed and woke up to her knocking on your window. A few times she barely made it back before sunrise.
  1149. > Each time you cautioned her to be careful, but you didn't want to curb her. This little bit of freedom seemed to be making Red sky happier.
  1150. > After a while, you no longer feared that the mare would leave you. She never failed to return.
  1151. > Until one day she didn't.
  1152. > You woke up when the sun shone in your eye and immediately realized that the pony hadn't come back.
  1153. > Perhaps she had been caught, your imagination supplied. Or maybe she got hit by a car.
  1154. > You didn't know what to do. You couldn't call anyone. Technically, Sky wasn't even yours, so if she was found by the authorities, the pony would undoubtedly be returned to her official owner.
  1155. > It made you physically ill to think that, so you forced yourself to stop.
  1156. > Maybe the mare had stayed out too late and didn't want to risk flying around in daylight? Perhaps she was hiding somewhere in the park, waiting for night?
  1157. > You couldn't stand not knowing. At eight you got dressed and left the apartment. You knew you wouldn't be able to bring her home immediately, but you had to be sure she was okay.
  1158. > Fast walk brought you to the park in minutes. The place seemed almost unfamiliar in the light of day. There were too many people around, even with the early morning chill in the air, which made it awkward to walk around checking bushes and poking around the patches of trees.
  1159. > It was also useless. The mare was nowhere to be found.
  1160. > You persisted anyway, checking the same places twice, then three times. But as the sun climbed up toward noon, you gave up.
  1161. > The trek home was lonely and miserable. You almost didn't want to enter the empty apartment.
  1162. > In a few short months, Red Sky had become an important part of your life. The thought of her gone made you want to cry.
  1163. > You had no appetite. Even games or shitposting have lost their appeal. You tried watching a few movies, but each one seemed lamer than the last. After getting up for the fifth time to change DVDs, you gave up.
  1164. > The rest of the day passed in a haze. You remembered walking around the apartment aimlessly, wondering what to do with yourself.
  1165. > When evening fell you took a shower, mostly for something to do. You thought about dinner, but didn't feel like making anything. Strangely, despite having not eaten the entire day, you didn't feel particularly hungry.
  1166. > And then it was one A.M. It was time to take Red Sky out for her walk. Only, she wasn't there. Unable to think of anything better to do, you decided to go alone.
  1167. > Perhaps it was the last sliver of hope that the pony would show up in the park, or maybe it was just the knowledge that you would never be able to sleep.
  1168. > You trekked down the familiar streets again. This time there were no people around and you breathed a little easier.
  1169. > Once more, you pushed your way through the shrubbery, lighting the way with your phone. There was no pony to be found.
  1170. > You ran out of places to check and ended up under a street lamp. The orange light illuminated the clouds of your breath in the air. It was freezing, but you hardly felt it.
  1171. > Despair set in. With no legal recourse it seemed unlikely you would ever see Red Sky again.
  1172. > Suddenly, all you wanted was to know what had happened. Perhaps if you knew she had chosen to abandon you, the anger would mask the emptiness you felt inside. And if she had been killed, at least you might get closure.
  1173. > But even that luxury was to be denied you.
  1174. > The panic melted away, leaving only numbness. You felt the worst was yet to come - back in the silent apartment, in the early hours of morning when exhaustion finally won out and you tried to sleep.
  1175. > But for now, there was nothing.
  1176. > You gave up and walked back home.
  1177. >...
  1178. > The mare was lying curled up on your doormat. In the dim light you almost didn't spot her.
  1179. > It halted you in your tracks when you exited the elevator and saw the familiar red fur. She seemed to be sleeping.
  1180. > The scene felt unreal. You had convinced yourself that you'd never see the pegasus again. In some way, maybe you had begun to accept it.
  1181. > Now that you found her again, the world almost felt wrong.
  1182. "Sky?"
  1183. > She didn't even stir. You began to fear that she was dead. A few quick steps took you to the bundle of fur and you put your hand on her head.
  1184. > It was real. And, to your immense relief, she was breathing. It seemed like Red Sky was just exhausted - enough so that she didn't wake up even when you touched her. It was a piece of luck that no one had found her before you.
  1185. "Wake up. Come on, let's get you inside."
  1186. > You had the presence of mind to unlock the door first and push it open. Then you put your arms under her and easily lifted the unconscious pegasus. A wing fell open, but you just ignored it.
  1187. > Her fur was wet and clammy, but not cold. Undoubtedly, you thought, the mare had been forced to lay in wait until night. Perhaps she had to sit in snow the entire day. You knew that ponies had a higher body temperature, so despite your impression, the mare must have been freezing.
  1188. > A cup of hot tea and a few blankets would surely help.
  1189. > You carried the pony through the dark rooms and laid her gently down on the couch. She whimpered when your hands left her, but you had to go and close the door.
  1190. > On your way back, as you rubbed the sticky, soaked fabric of your coat sleeves, you turned on the light in the hallway, so you could undress.
  1191. > Only then did you see the blood.
  1192. > It was all over your hands. And a trail led from the front door to the living room.
  1193. > For a moment you just stared, unable to understand what was going on. But then your mind added two and two together.
  1194. "Sky!"
  1195. > You rushed into the room and flicked the lights on. The pony looked normal, but she was still out. Your heart pounded in fear as you gently rolled her over.
  1196. > There was a frighteningly long gash on her abdomen and several cuts on her hind legs. At first glance, they looked like teethmarks.
  1197. > And she was still bleeding. You didn't need to know a lot of medicine to understand that was bad.
  1198. > The first instinct was to Google it, but you were afraid there was no time. The fact that Red Sky had hardly stirred when you had rubbed her wound earlier gave you a sense of urgency.
  1199. > You quickly realized that you didn't have a first aid kit in the apartment. You ran to the bathroom anyway and grabbed a stack of clean towels. It would have to do in a pinch.
  1200. > The white fabric was quickly stained with red when you pressed it against the mare. She whimpered again, but still didn't wake up. A hoof came to try and feebly bat your arms away.
  1201. > It undoubtedly hurt, but you didn't let go. You kept the fabric pressed firmly against her belly and reached for another towel. It was long enough to reach around her body, with enough left over so you could tie it in a crude knot. It pressed the first towel firmly against the wound.
  1202. > That was the best you could do for the moment, but it didn't seem enough.
  1203. > The mare was squirming and moaning slightly. You wanted her to wake up, but at the same time hoped she wouldn't. It looked painful and you definitely didn't want to see her suffering.
  1204. > You tried to remember what sort of medicine you had in the apartment. Were human pills even safe for ponies?
  1205. > The pegasus looked comfortable enough for the moment. She had quietened somewhat and you guessed she was getting used to the pressure of the makeshift bandage. Perhaps she would be okay for a little while.
  1206. > Your sense of urgency didn't diminish as you ran to your computer and began furiously searching for information.
  1207. >...
  1208. > A louder moan broke your concentration as you were reading a forum post. You stood up so quickly that you knocked over your chair and hurried to the living room.
  1209. > The mare was awake, groaning softly. Every now and then a hoof kicked out or a wing twitched.
  1210. > You came to her face and knelt down. Only when you reached to touch her mane did you realize that your hands were still dirty with blood.
  1211. "Hey, girl," you said quietly, trying to work up a smile. "You're home. You'll be okay."
  1212. > The mare tried to move, but you held her down. Even the attempt was enough to disturb her wounds and Sky gasped in pain.
  1213. > "Please," she breathed out. "It hurts..."
  1214. > Talking was causing her more pain and the pony let out a low moan. "Huuuurts," she wailed.
  1215. "Stay still. Try to relax. I'll give you some medicine."
  1216. > Consensus on the Internet was that you could give Equestrians analgesics without ill effects. You had a few powerful painkillers in the cabinet in your bathroom.
  1217. > You had only needed them once, when your tooth had gotten infected and you hadn't had money for a dentist right away. You hoped like hell that pills didn't spoil.
  1218. > You brought them, together with a glass of water. When she saw you, Sky opened her mouth without comment or pause.
  1219. > As soon as your fingers touched her tongue, she wrapped it around the capsules and drew them in. She tried to swallow, but the things were large, even for a human.
  1220. > You carefully tipped some water into her mouth. The mare slurped a little as she sucked it in. Finally, she got the pills down.
  1221. > By that time, Sky was taking short, shallow breaths.
  1222. > "P-please... Master..." she panted, "help. I don't... wanna die!"
  1223. > Quickly you cupped her face with your hands and put on the most reassuring tone of voice.
  1224. "You wont. I promise! You'll be fine. Just hang on while the pills start working."
  1225. > She closed her eyes and scrunched up her face in concentration. The ears were laid flat against her head and her teeth were gritted.
  1226. > You quickly went to check on her towel. With some relief, you saw that it hadn't soaked through.
  1227. "I'll change the bandage, okay?"
  1228. > She only gave a small nod as a reply. You took care when untying the know, so as not to jostle her unnecessarily. Then you fearfully pulled the cloth away.
  1229. > You had been expecting a flood of red. But there didn't seem to be very much blood. You let your breath out in a sigh of relief.
  1230. "It's good. The bleeding stopped."
  1231. > After bunching up another towel and fixing it back in place, you looked at the wounds on her legs. They seemed minor in comparison. They weren't bleeding, so you hadn't tied them up.
  1232. > Now you wished you had some antiseptic cream. In fact, you should probably put some on the large wound as well. Sky would probably survive the injury itself, but the resulting infection could still kill her.
  1233. > You needed supplies. There was no choice. You had to leave the pony alone.
  1234. "I need to go out for medicine. Will you be okay here on your own?"
  1235. > The mare thought it over. After a while she nodded, all without opening her eyes.
  1236. "The pain pills should start to work soon. Just hang in there, I'll be back as quickly as I can."
  1237. > Another nod. Sky still didn't look at you.
  1238. > You reached out to ruffle her mane, when you noticed - again - your blood-encrusted hands. It wouldn't do to walk around like that, especially in the middle of the night.
  1239. > A short wash and a change of clothes made you more presentable. You checked on Red Sky again, but the mare hadn't moved an inch. She was still breathing, but no longer panting. You took it as a good sign.
  1240. > When you opened your front door you saw the puddle of blood on the doormat. Lacking any other ideas, you just pulled it inside.
  1241. > There was still a trail of red droplets, leading from the stairs to your door, but you didn't have time or ideas to deal with that at the moment.
  1242. > With luck, people would assume you had had a nosebleed or something.
  1243. > You tried to remember the nearest 24-hour pharmacy as you rode the lift down to the lobby. Then you tried to remember how much money was left in your account.
  1244. > Hopefully, a basic antiseptic cream and some bandages wouldn't be too expensive.
  1245. >...
  1246. > It had wiped up most of your finances, but you got all the essentials. The most expensive item was a can of antiseptic spray, which the pharmacists swore was painless. Beside that, your bag contained bandages, gauze and more painkillers.
  1247. > You couldn't spring for a saline solution, but the girl at the counter told you how to make it at home.
  1248. > With the bags deposited on the coffee table, you quickly checked the mare. She seemed to be breathing a little easier and even managed a small, weak smile when she saw you.
  1249. > The towels looked okay, so you decided not to mess with them until you were ready to wash the wound and bandage it properly.
  1250. > Purified water was easy - you just had to boil it. That took a while, so you went and read the instructions on the spray while you waited.
  1251. > It wasn't rocket science. You had to wash the wound as well as you could with something mild. The pamphlet suggested diluted soap, but that just felt wrong. After it was clean, you had to spray the substance on it, then bandage it up with clean gauze. You'd have to reapply the medicine about once per day.
  1252. > You explained it all to Red Sky, who nodded her assent. "Thank you, Master," she said when you finished.
  1253. "Don't thank me yet. This is probably gonna hurt, but we have to do it."
  1254. > She gave you a worried, fearful look and curled up tighter. The mare probably wasn't even aware she was doing it.
  1255. "Let me get you another painkiller, just in case, okay?"
  1256. > She relaxed a little and smiled in gratitude. This time she swallowed it more easily.
  1257. > The water was ready by then, so you went to mix in a tablespoon of salt. It would take some time to cool down, but in a flash of inspiration you put it in the fridge.
  1258. "It'll just be a minute," you told Sky.
  1259. > You sat down by her head and put your hand in her mane. Your fingers sought out her ears and began scratching. The pony sighed in pleasure and quickly nuzzled your leg.
  1260. "What happened to you?"
  1261. > Now that she was out of immediate danger, you were really curious. The wounds looked like Sky had been mauled by some kind of animal.
  1262. > The pegasus jerked her head away and turned worried eyes on you. She was curling up again. "N-nothing. Accident," she said. It was no kind of answer.
  1263. "Sky, those look like teethmarks. Did something attack you out in the park?"
  1264. > You couldn't imagine what, though. You were sure there were no wolves or bears in the area. Maybe a stray dog or cat? But those tended to keep away from anything larger than them.
  1265. > The mare sniffled and looked like she was about to cry. You didn't want to cause her discomfort, but the way she had avoided answering made you suspicious.
  1266. "What were you doing? Where did it happen?"
  1267. > She just shook her head mutely.
  1268. "I won't be mad, I promise. Just tell me. If there's a dangerous animal out there, I should tell someone so it doesn't attack other people."
  1269. > You stared at each other for a long time. It looked like you would get nothing out of her. Then, the pony lowered her gaze to the box of pills and the bottle of antiseptic spray. She heaved a sad sigh.
  1270. > "It was a guard dog," she explained. But all it did was raise more questions.
  1271. "Guard dog?! What were you doing tangling with a- where do they even have guard dogs anymore?!"
  1272. > She looked back up at you. The way she stared gave you the impression that she really wanted to tell someone. "Promise you won't get mad?" she asked quietly.
  1273. "I swear, just tell me."
  1274. > "I was sneaking into a warehouse. There was a guard. He didn't see me. But his dog heard. I tried to run away, but I tripped on wood pallets."
  1275. > It just raised more questions.
  1276. "What were you doing sneaking into a warehouse? Why would you do that, Sky?"
  1277. > She looked away and her ears folded back. She wasn't comfortable admitting the next part. "Stealing supplies."
  1278. > Your hands went up to your face as you realized that her injury was just the tip of the iceberg.
  1279. "Why were you- wait. No. I won't drag this out of you bit by bit. Start at the beginning."
  1280. > As she began to talk, your eyebrows climbed all the way up and stayed there.
  1281. > "I- I've been helping a pony resistance group," the mare slowly explained. "Nothing bad! Just taking messages and small items to captive ponies. Or scouting. Nothing more, I promise!"
  1282. > She glanced at her battered legs and sighed. "Until tonight. Th-the other pegasi were... someplace else. I volunteered to-" her voice broke and she coughed before continuing. "To steal some supplies."
  1283. "What kind of supplies?"
  1284. > She returned her gaze to you. It took her a while to answer, and when she did her voice was deflated. "Pet food."
  1285. "Pet food?! Why would you-"
  1286. > The mare barked her reply even before you had finished asking. "It's better than nothing, okay?! And it's not as heavily guarded! They are desperate!"
  1287. > You sat there in silence for a while. A lot of things made sense now. In particular, why Sky always wanted to 'stretch her wings'. Her secrecy and distance. She was protecting her friends, even from you.
  1288. > Despite all the problems that she had just dropped on you, the breakthrough was good, you felt. Maybe she was finally starting to trust you.
  1289. > "What will you do now, Master?" the pony asked, breaking the thoughtful silence. She gulped in fear. "W-will you beat me? I d-deserve it, j-just don't report my friends, please!"
  1290. > You didn't answer right away and the mare grew frantic. "Please, Master! Please! I'm begging. I'll do anything!" She realized what you would probably want and fell silent with a small gasp. But she closed her eyes and plunged bravely on. "I'll sleep in your bed. E-every night."
  1291. > Her voice was trembling and in her fretting the pony was liable to reopen her wounds. You put a hand on her head to try and calm her down.
  1292. "No, I won't report you."
  1293. > The offer to sleep with you was so very tempting. But you knew the pony would just grow to loathe you. It was an effort to be patient.
  1294. "You don't have to sleep in my bed."
  1295. > That came as a surprise to the mare. She pulled back and looked at you strangely. "I don't?"
  1296. "No. Shush now, let's get those wounds cleaned and dressed. Then you need to rest."
  1297. > There were questions in her eyes, you could see that. She opened her mouth a few times to ask, but changed her mind before anything came out. Her eyes narrowed in suspicion as Sky tried to work out what you were planning. But she still didn't say anything.
  1298. > You went to check on the water. It was lukewarm, so you brought it over. At the sight of it, Red Sky realized what you were going to do. She understood the necessity, but she couldn't control the quickening of her breathing, or the widening of her eyes. She licked her lips nervously.
  1299. > "It- it's going to hurt, isn't it?" she asked flatly.
  1300. "I'll try to make it as quick as I can, promise."
  1301. > You waited for her nod. Then you began unwrapping the towel. You just hoped you had it in you to thoroughly wash the wounds and ignore Sky's pain.
  1303. > ~~~~
  1305. > You stayed up with Red Sky for a long as you could, watching movies and cartoons. The pony slept through most of it with her head in your lap as you idly scratched her ears. Every now and then she grunted or whimpered, but she never woke up.
  1306. > Soon it was morning again and you began to feel the lack of sleep. Since Sky seemed fine for the moment, you decided to go to your bed. The couch was too small for the two of you and you didn't want to move the mare.
  1307. > She woke up when you slid from under her head, but you just smiled and reassured her.
  1308. "I'll get some rest. Yell if you need anything, okay?"
  1309. > Sky gave you a drowsy nod and closed her eyes.
  1310. > As you lay down, you were feeling conflicted. The pony had opened up some - no doubt she was keeping more secrets - and the past few quiet, gentle hours had certainly brought you closer together. But she had been lying for quite a while. You tried to pinpoint exactly how long.
  1311. > You remembered that first night when you let her fly alone. You thought she had run away and it hadn't been a pleasant feeling. Thinking about it brought the emotions back. You had been right, after all. The pegasus had run away that night.
  1312. > In a very real way, the pony had always been running away from you and the only mitigating factor was that she always came back. You felt disappointed and angry, mostly with yourself. How could you not have seen it sooner? Questioned her more?
  1313. > The legal situation of ponies was still very much unclear. With Twilight Sparkle's efforts, they were being reclassified and given some rights. But the first, hasty legislation had clearly marked them out as pets. That made Red Sky your responsibility.
  1314. > Given that some of them had magical powers, free ponies made the public very afraid and were generally frowned upon. A resistance group would be viewed much like a rabid wolf pack.
  1315. > Associating with what was essentially a pony terrorist cell would certainly cause you problems, if you were found out. The fact that you weren't aware of Sky's activities was no excuse in these matters.
  1316. > The idea of physically restraining the mare entered your thoughts. It was the easiest and quickest solution. But it was also the least sustainable.
  1317. > The moment you made it clear to Sky that she wasn't allowed to leave, the pony would undoubtedly begin plotting her escape. That would leave you in a constant battle of wits with an irate pony, plus - sooner or later - you would end up without your companion.
  1318. > You had no illusions that you could keep an unwilling Red Sky captive for the long term.
  1319. > But maybe a collar and a leash wouldn't hurt to have on hand. You had to do *something*. Maybe just threatening her with it would be enough?
  1320. > The pony seemed contrite and scared after her ordeal. You were still going to talk to her and try to convince her to stop helping the fugitives.
  1321. > But you would also get a collar, just in case. Merely to threaten her, as a last resort.
  1322. > Satisfied with your plan, you could finally relax and drift off to sleep.
  1323. >...
  1324. > You woke up to the sound of loud crying and the sun immediately blinded you. You couldn't have slept for more than a couple of hours. You felt just as exhausted as when you had gone to bed, and there was still the feeling of sand under your eyelids.
  1325. > But as soon as you identified the source of the noise you forgot all that. The pony was whimpering and calling your name.
  1326. > "Anon!" she wailed pathetically. "Please. It hurts..."
  1327. > You ran to the living room. The sheer hope and relief in Sky's face when she saw you was enough to warm your heart. Your hand sought out her head.
  1328. "Hey, I'm here. Are you okay?"
  1329. > She managed to shake her head. You saw that the couch cushions were soaked with sweat and Sky was breathing rapidly. "Hurts," she sobbed.
  1330. > The best guess you could come up with was that the pain meds had worn off. But that couldn't have happened suddenly, as evidenced by the tired and sweaty mare.
  1331. "How long has it been like this? Why didn't you call me?"
  1332. > "Did," Sky whimpered. "You were asleep!"
  1333. "Why didn't you yell out?"
  1334. > "Yelling hurts."
  1335. > You put the problem aside for later. The first priority was making Red Sky comfortable. You reached for the pill bottle. It was less than half full. You did a quick mental calculation. At this rate, you would run out in about three days.
  1336. > It would be all but impossible to get more - the medicine wasn't cheap and you would need a prescription. Another problem for another day. For now, you took out two pills.
  1337. > Sky was already holding her mouth open. She had her eyes squeezed tightly shut. Again, as soon as she felt your hand, the pony plucked the medicine up with her tongue and tried to swallow it. You barely got your fingers out in time.
  1338. > There was a pot of water on the coffee table and you offered it to Sky without thinking. She drank deeply until most of the water was gone. But then she grimaced.
  1339. > "Yuck," she said. "Salty."
  1340. > You nearly smacked yourself on the forehead. In the rush, you had given her the saline solution. The fact that she had choked it down at all proved how thirsty she had been.
  1341. "Sorry! That was stupid of me. Let me get you some fresh water."
  1342. > Red Sky drank down three glasses before she stopped asking for more. Then she lay there, heaving. She seemed to be concentrating on the present moment and she didn't object when you sat down and pulled her head into your lap again.
  1343. > It took some time for the pills to start working, during which Sky alternated between quiet whimpering and outright crying. You did your best to comfort and distract her. But gradually, the medicine kicked in and the mare relaxed.
  1344. > Soon after that, she gave a small snore. It brought a smile to your lips and the conflict right back into your thoughts.
  1345. > The correct way to keep Sky safe, you knew, would be to earn her trust and convince her to stop helping the resistance ponies. But you had been trying to do that for a long time, with very little success.
  1346. > The easy way to keep her in the apartment would be a collar and a chain. Possibly also some kind of locks on the windows. But that was, you felt, the wrong approach.
  1347. > You weren't certain anymore that you could do the first, and you didn't particularly want to do the second.
  1348. > "M-master?" Sky said quietly, waking you up from the cycle of thoughts. "What's wrong?"
  1349. > The hand that was gripping her mane was a fist. You made yourself release it.
  1350. "Sorry, Sky. Just thinking."
  1351. > She watched you for a while without lifting her head from your lap. Then she spoke. "I'm hungry, M-master."
  1352. "Okay. What would you like?"
  1353. > That gave her some pause. "D-do you want me to make something, Master?" she asked, at long last.
  1354. > You firmly shook your head. You didn't need the pony walking around and tearing her wound open again. If you could afford real medical care, she would have gotten stitches. But as it was, the best way was to keep her still until it healed enough on its own.
  1355. "No, that's okay. I'll make it, just tell me what you'd like. What do we even have in the kitchen?"
  1356. > She didn't need to think too long. "There's some tomato sauce left from yesterday, Master. If y-you could just boil some noodles, we could-"
  1357. > You had already stood up.
  1358. "Good idea! I'll do that."
  1359. > The pony watched you go without further comment.
  1360. >...
  1361. > Finally the check from the government came. You had stretched your meagre supplies as far as you could and you desperately needed the finances.
  1362. > The last bit of your change had been wiped out when you ran out of pain pills. Luckily, your regular doctor was kind (or gullible) enough to write you a prescription, but Codeine still wasn't cheap. At least the new, larger bottle would last a while longer. You also reduced Sky's dosage and the pain didn't seem too bad anymore.
  1363. > With the fresh check in hand, you made sure the mare was comfortable. Her bandage wouldn't need changing until later that night. She had the TV remote beside her and the cartoon channel on full blast.
  1364. "Okay, be good. I'll be back as soon as I can."
  1365. > You took one pill out of the box and put it next to the remote.
  1366. "Take this, but only if you absolutely have to, okay? We're running low on them."
  1367. > The pony nodded obediently. "Yes, Master. Only if it hurts, I promise."
  1368. > She had been requesting her medicine a lot. Surely the pain was supposed to go down with time, right? But you figured she asked for the pills preemptively. You gave it to her anyway. Neither you, nor Sky wanted a repeat of that first morning. She might need a refill before she was fully healed, but you thought you could pull it off, if you were careful with the money.
  1369. > You looked through the peephole in the door to make sure no neighbors were outside. You were doing your best to avoid running into them. Undoubtedly, some of Sky's crying had been heard and it would raise uncomfortable questions.
  1370. > Mrs. Arbuckle had accosted you about 'the girlfriend' again, but you managed to excuse yourself. A brilliant idea made you say that she had very bad menstrual cramps, which had caused her to cry out in pain that morning.
  1371. > The crone had accepted the explanation and given you a recommendation for chamomile tea.
  1372. >...
  1373. > You returned home loaded with goodies. Based on Sky's advice, you picked up cheap foods that didn't spoil. Dry pasta, canned sauces, flour, pasteurized milk, spices.
  1374. > In addition, you had stopped in a pet shop and picked up a cheap collar and a sturdy-looking leash. Paying for those left you felt uneasy and vaguely ashamed, but you shrugged it off. It was just something you wanted to put in a drawer and, hopefully, never use; merely a tool for your peace of mind.
  1375. > On a whim, you picked up a chocolate bar for Red Sky. Other than her constant requests for painkillers, the pony had been exceptionally well-behaved during her recovery.
  1376. > You have lost the count of hours you've spent with the mare in your lap, or nuzzling against your side as you watched movie after movie.
  1377. > The way Sky refused to meet your gaze told you that she felt very guilty about the entire incident. You fully approved of that.
  1378. > And when the time for her medication was near, the pony was positively affectionate.
  1379. > She always insisted that you feed her the pills yourself, and she made sure to lick your fingers each time. Strangely, the mare kept a very close watch on your face whenever she did that. Probably because you tended to grin like an idiot.
  1380. > You liked to imagine that the two of you were finally growing closer as a result of this injury. It made you feel warm, despite the chilly weather.
  1381. > You left a puddle of water and melting snow in the elevator and checked the hallway. It was empty and you hurried to unlock your door and enter before some nosy neighbor accosted you again.
  1382. > Even before you had completely shut the door, Sky was already asking her question.
  1383. > "Is it time for my pill, Master?" she asked furtively. You imagined her expression - large, wet eyes, ears turned down, shoulders a little hunched. As if the pony expected a scathing reply or a smack for daring to ask.
  1384. > When you entered the living room you saw that your imagination wasn't far from the truth. The detail you missed was the way her tail swished around.
  1385. "Sky, I told you not to stand up. You might tear your wounds open!"
  1386. > Before you had finished talking, her rump hit the cushion and she pouted a little. "Sorry, Master," she sighed. It was cute as all hell. Adorable enough for you to ignore that she had taken the pill you had left.
  1387. "Okay, just take it easy. Come on, let's check the bandage and I'll give you your medicine after that."
  1388. > "Okay!" her delight at the prospect was palpable. She quickly rolled to her back and lifted two legs up in the air to give you easy access to her underside.
  1389. > You left the shopping bags in the hallway and quickly shrugged out of your coat. You've gotten enough practice that unwrapping the bandage was a snap. You inspected the furry belly before you.
  1390. > Even without medical training, you could see that the injury was healing nicely. You knew just how lucky both you and Red Sky had been that her wound didn't get infected.
  1391. > You still had some of the spray left and you intended to use it all up, just to be sure.
  1392. "Don't move, I'll wash it and put on a clean bandage."
  1393. > The mare just nodded and looked away, but she kept her legs in the air. With the clean water on hand, you quickly brushed what would surely become an impressive scar. Internet had told you to watch out for bad smells, so you leaned closer for a better look.
  1394. > The fact that this brought you face to face with Sky's little, perky teats started yet another fire in your pants and you spent longer than you should have, just looking.
  1395. > Something must have shown on your face, because the pony spoke up. "M-master?" she asked, "You like what you see?"
  1396. > The sudden question had broken your reverie and you quickly resumed cleaning the wound. You didn't know how to answer it. The pony was an enigma sometimes.
  1397. > "Y-you can tou-touch if you want, M-master," she went on, "if..."
  1398. > She was about to ask for something, it was obvious. And with her bits in full view like that, you were going to say yes.
  1399. > Sky looked away and let her ears fold down. "aah- if I could have one m-more pill?" she finished. Then the mare added a quick explanation: "So it won't hurt when you t-touch, Master!"
  1400. "That's all?"
  1401. > You were incredulous. You had expected her to ask for at least a million bucks from the way she acted. Her request was entirely reasonable. She glanced back, encouraged by your dismissive tone, and nodded.
  1402. "Sure! No problem."
  1403. > Rather than waiting until you were done dressing her wound, you took two pills from the bottle and fed them to Red Sky. You followed them quickly with a glass of water.
  1404. > As soon as she had swallowed both, the pony gave a contented sigh and lay back down. Her legs spread further. "Y-you may touch, Ma-master," she mumbled. Her ears were trained on you, but other than that Sky looked perfectly relaxed.
  1405. > You decided to take it as a sign of trust. Before she could change her mind, you had your left hand on her mounds, caressing gently. It was even warmer than you expected and your pants were about to rip.
  1406. > Your free hand went down to unzip your fly. It was best to just get it over with, you thought. It wasn't like you could even focus on your work with the throbbing hard-on.
  1407. > Before long, your hand started to shake as it fondled, pinched and caressed. You tried to take it slow, but the situation was so incredibly hot that even stroking very lightly it would be over in less than a minute.
  1408. > An impulse made you lean your head down and put your lips on her bits. The pony gasped, squirmed and lightly batted you with a hoof.
  1409. > "M-master!" Sky hissed and you didn't know if it was delight or indignation. You ignored it and ran your tongue over her flesh. The pegasus wriggled, but there was nowhere for her to go. You held her down with your free hand, just in case.
  1410. > In moments, you found one of the small, hard bumps and clamped your lips around it. It was a herculean effort of will not to nibble as you exploded all over the floor. A low, guttural moan escaped you.
  1411. > When the feeling ended, you quickly wiped up most of the mess with the old bandage. You checked on Red Sky, but she was looking away, focusing on the far wall. You felt like you needed to say something.
  1412. "Sorry, Sky. Did I hurt you?"
  1413. > She glanced back, her eyes wide in shock. She opened her mouth to speak, but changed her mind at the last moment. She just exhaled and let her head drop again.
  1414. > It was probably a yes. The sudden move and the pressure you put on her skin must have disturbed the wound.
  1415. "Here, let me give you another pill, just in case."
  1416. > The mare glared, but she slowly opened her mouth. As soon as the medicine was down, she turned away again, unspeaking.
  1417. > You didn't know what more to say, so you went back and carefully cleaned the wound again. Then you applied the antiseptic spray and lightly pressed a new piece of gauze over the area.
  1418. > With practiced ease you wrapped her midriff with fresh bandage. The pony lifted her hips off the couch so you could pass the roll under her, but she still refused to look at you.
  1419. > When you were done, you leaned back and inspected your work. It wasn't exactly professional, but it looked solid. You reached out to brush Sky's mane with your hand, but she pulled away.
  1420. "Hey, what's wrong? Does it hurt?"
  1421. > When she looked back, her eyes were full of tears and you nearly jumped back in shock.
  1422. "Sky? Are you okay?"
  1423. > She closed her eyes and took a few deep breaths before she got herself under control. "I said *touch*, Master!" she said dejectedly. The words and the tone ignited your guilt. You realized you had taken it too far.
  1424. > You reached for her mane again and this time she didn't avoid it.
  1425. "I'm sorry, dear. I couldn't control myself, it was just so-"
  1426. > A deep sigh interrupted your sentence and you opted not to finish it.
  1427. "Just- I'm sorry."
  1428. > She said nothing, but kept looking at you.
  1429. "Would you like me to put on a movie for you?"
  1430. > The pony was silent.
  1431. > After a few moments, you got up and walked over to the TV. You picked out one of her favorites and put it in the player. The remote was on the couch, next to the mare, so she could stop it if she liked.
  1432. > When you brushed your hand on your pants you discovered that you had messed up yourself, as well as the floor. It needed washing and you decided to leave the mare alone for now.
  1433. "I'll- I'll go grab a shower and then... do something. I'll make us dinner later, okay?"
  1434. > Finally there was a reaction. Sky nodded and laid her head down. She hadn't stopped the DVD, which was just ramping up to the title.
  1435. "Oh! I got you this!"
  1436. > You remembered just in time that you had a small gift for the mare. You went to the forgotten bags of food in the hallway and dug out the small chocolate bar. She barely glanced at it when you brought it over and laid it beside her. You shrugged in defeat and went to leave.
  1437. > "Thank you, Master," the mare said when you were looking away. The voice was quiet and subdued, but it was something.
  1438. > At least she seemed to have accepted the apology. You scurried out of the room to put the perishables in the fridge and take your shower, before you had a chance to say or do something stupid again.
  1440. > ~~~~
  1442. > Red Sky kept asking for the pills and you kept giving them. Partly it was out of guilt and partly because she kept pleading until she got them. Her wound had long since healed enough that the pony was able to walk around the apartment without issue.
  1443. > She still had the bandage, but it was a perfunctory thing and the gauze came away perfectly clean and dry when you changed it.
  1444. > You went on the Internet and looked up Codeine. You learned why it was prescription only. Apparently people got hooked on the stuff, especially if they took too much.
  1445. > With a certain amount of guilt you remembered how you had overdosed the mare those first few days, simply because you didn't want to see her in pain.
  1446. > But now it was time to face the music. Red Sky was an opiate addict. And it was your fault.
  1447. > The depth of her dependence became apparent one particular night, just as you were getting into bed.
  1448. > The lights were already off and you shuffled into a comfortable position when you heard the clacking of little hooves on the hardwood.
  1449. "Sky?"
  1450. > She said nothing as she approached and laid her head on your arm. Even through the fabric of your pajamas you felt how hot her breath was.
  1451. "What's wrong?"
  1452. > She tried for an obvious lie: "M-my wound hurts, Master. C-could I have some medicine?" That had worked a few times before, but now you were wise to it.
  1453. "You're lying."
  1454. > In an instant the mare changed her angle. "I'll sleep in your bed if I can have one pill, Ma-master," she offered.
  1455. > You actually considered it. The thought disgusted you, especially once your mind threw up the name for what she was doing: prostitution.
  1456. "That's nice, but I'm not giving you more drugs. You need to get off that stuff, it's expensive!"
  1457. > She angled her head to catch the faint light from the moon outside. It glinted in her eyes. "Please, Master!" she whined and rubbed her head against your arm. "Just this once! I'll love you, I promise!"
  1458. > Yes it was wrong. Yes it was disgusting. But you still considered it. Your imagination almost made you lose. But you've read the articles, seen the videos. You didn't want Red Sky to become a junkie.
  1459. "No, Sky! Go back to your bed!"
  1460. > The sense of pride was almost reward enough. But the pony had more tricks up her sleeve. She nuzzled the cloth aside and began to lick your bare arm, starting at the wrist and slowly moving up. You breath caught and you nearly gave in.
  1461. "Enough! Stop that!"
  1462. > The words surprised you both. But the pony quickly recovered. She really needed her fix. You didn't know exactly how addiction worked - luckily, you had managed to steer clear of that world, even during the worst of your depression. But seeing how Red Sky acted showed you how bad the need was.
  1463. > "D-don't you want some of this, M-m-master?" the mare stuttered. She turned around and presented her plot. Her tail was lifted so high up that it was almost vertical.
  1464. > Her smell hit you - faint but distinctive. All you could do was swallow the sudden lump in your throat. And then you saw her wink.
  1465. > Your resolve shattered.
  1466. "Okay, okay! But just this once. And you're stopping with the pills tomorrow! Got it?"
  1467. > The mare whirled around and fell on you with a hug. "Yes! Yes, I promise, Master! Thank you!"
  1468. > She watched you as you lifted up the covers invitingly. But she didn't climb in. Her ears went back and the pony drew back a little. "C-could I have the pill f-first, Master?"
  1469. > You sighed and got out of bed. The boner led the way to the bathroom, where you kept the Codeine in the cabinet. No doubt Sky could have gotten the bottle, but it was one of those child-proof caps which also appeared to be safe against ponies. Small blessings, you thought.
  1470. > The pill you offered Sky was gone in an instant, even without water. You were putting the bottle back when the mare reared up and threw her hooves around your waist.
  1471. > "Thank y-you, Master!" she chirped happily. But her ears were still folded back and her eyes didn't quite meet yours. "M-may I have an-another?"
  1472. "Absolutely not!"
  1473. > She dropped down with a quiet click. "Pleeeease!" she whined. "My belly huuuuurts!" It was pathetic, especially the sniveling and tears, which she somehow managed to produce. "I neeeeed it, Master!"
  1474. > You firmly put the bottle back and closed the cabinet door. Her begging turned to wailing and sobbing and her grip around your midriff tightened.
  1475. > The pony buried her muzzle in your pajamas and cried pitifully. You went to walk back, but she simply held on and followed you, hind hooves clicking awkwardly on the tiles.
  1476. > You hadn't realized it had gotten this bad. The mare was practically choking on her drool, and her wailing was getting louder.
  1477. "Okay! Fine! One more, but you have to promise it's the last one!"
  1478. > The crying cut out instantly and Sky was already holding her mouth open. You got the bottle again and gave her one more pill. It was gone in an instant.
  1479. > "Thank you, Master!" Red Sky said, already happy again. She dropped down and swayed a little. "I s-swear it's the last one!"
  1480. > You had a feeling she would break her promise as soon as the effects wore off.
  1481. > All this begging and crying had at least one positive side-effect. You were completely turned off. True to her word, Sky followed you to the bed and climbed in with you, but little Anon was completely out of commission.
  1482. > When the pegasus wriggled her rump against you and tried to kiss, you just pushed her face away.
  1483. "Not now. I'm not in the mood. Let's just go to sleep."
  1484. > She watched you in stunned silence, but wasn't about to question her stroke of luck. She had a stupid, dopey smile, no doubt from the drug overdose.
  1485. > "Okay, Master. I love you, Master!" she said.
  1486. > It was almost like a physical pain as you realized she didn't mean it. It was only the drugs talking.
  1487. > You heaved a sad sigh. Red Sky would need a lot of help to get over this addiction. Maybe, at the end of it, she would be able to say those words and mean them. But it would take a lot of self-control, from the both of you.
  1488. > Perhaps, not going through with your indulgence was the first step you made toward *really* helping the mare?
  1489. > The thought was pleasant and kept you warm, even as disappointment in the mare's lies and promises chilled you.
  1490. "Don't worry, dear. We'll beat this thing together. I promise."
  1491. > She didn't seem to hear it. Sky was snoring softly and you felt a trickle of her drool on your arm. You reached up with your other hand and gently closed her mouth. It just made her shift a little and mumble something, but she fell quiet almost immediately.
  1492. > You returned your fingers to her barrel, twirling them into her fur. It made the pony wriggle a bit closer against your chest.
  1493. > That, at least, brought a smile to your face. Drugged out of her mind or not, the mare was still adorably cute. You could work with that.
  1494. > You made a mental promise to never take advantage of her again, until she was well and loved you of her own volition. Instead, you'd put that energy toward making sure that happened.
  1495. > It made you feel a lot better about yourself and you quickly drifted off.
  1496. >...
  1497. > Morning brought the same story. Again, you woke up long before the pony and watched her sleep. She was obviously having a very intense dream, judging by her squirming and feeble kicking, but it didn't seem bad enough to wake her.
  1498. > You chose to imagine that your presence made the nightmare less scary.
  1499. > Too soon Red Sky gave a small gasp and opened her eyes. They quickly sought you out and she managed a tentative smile.
  1500. > "Morning, Master," she said, apparently quite relaxed and happy. It was heaven, the way she burrowed backward, deeper into your embrace. But then she spoiled it with a question you had been dreading: "C-could I get some medicine, Master, please? I don't feel well."
  1501. > You sighed and the mare stiffened in your arms.
  1502. "You promised no more, last night."
  1503. > The fact was lost on her and she shook her head. "But it hurts, Master. I need it."
  1504. "No Sky. We're done with that stuff, understand?"
  1505. > With a frown of concentration, the pony deftly hooked her hind legs around your arm, which was resting on her flank, and brought it to her privates. They were almost searing hot to the touch and it took little Anon all of five seconds to stand to attention.
  1506. > "Y-you can have some fun, Master," Sky said and shyly turned her head away. But you saw her sneakily looking at your face from the side. She was judging just how effective her tactic was. "Please, Master!"
  1507. > You couldn't quite bring yourself to remove your hand and the pegasus capitalized on the weakness. She shuffled even closer and pushed the tips of your fingers further down. You felt warm, slick wetness. Your resolve crumbled like dust.
  1508. "Fine, but this is the absolutely last one, okay?"
  1509. > "Yes, Master! I promise, Master! Thank you, Master!" the pegasus chirped, happy as can be. She twisted her body around to face you, then quickly pulled your bottoms down with her hind legs. She was probably worried you'd change your mind.
  1510. > Then she positioned herself and pushed down, hard with a small, lustful cry. You stopped thinking for a while.
  1511. >...
  1512. > Having broken your promise to yourself that easily, came with a whole wallop of shame. You had given Sky her pill, but the hot, burning regret helped you say no when she begged for the second.
  1513. > When it was finally clear to her that you wouldn't cave, no matter how high she wriggled her rear in the air, the mare went wordlessly to the living room, curled up on the couch and covered herself with a blanket. She refused breakfast and you didn't force her.
  1514. > You ate in the kitchen, alone and depressed. How easy it had been for the pony to manipulate you.
  1515. > Perhaps you really should have used the collar, at least until Sky got over her addiction. The withdrawal was obviously bad enough for the pegasus to whore herself out. And the speed with which you had caved worried you.
  1516. > The cereal tasted like ash and you couldn't choke down another bite. You heard the TV start up in the next room and got up from the kitchen chair.
  1517. > The pony was watching the cartoon channel again, but her ears were turned back and focused on you. Experimentally, you took a step to the left. The ears turned to follow. But Sky refused to acknowledge you in any other way.
  1518. "I'm sorry, Sky. I shouldn't have given you that pill, and I definitely shouldn't have taken advantage of you."
  1519. > The apology helped you feel a bit better, but the mare still didn't turn her head.
  1520. "You're not getting anymore, no matter how much you beg, understand?"
  1521. > Still nothing.
  1522. > You walked around the couch and sat beside her. From that angle, you could see her tears.
  1523. "What's wrong?"
  1524. > Red Sky heaved a shuddering sigh, but at least she turned to face you. "Nothing!" she hissed angrily. "Everything!"
  1525. "Talk to me, please?"
  1526. > "Why?! You just keep... using me!"
  1527. > It hit you right in the guilt and you looked away in shame.
  1528. "Sorry. But you asked fo-"
  1529. > "I DIDN'T ASK FOR IT!" the mare bawled in a mixture of exasperation and anger. "Do you think I like begging you to rut me?! That I enjoy it or something?!"
  1530. > She let out a breath. She looked at the TV and her speech slowed down. Became more deliberate. "I hate what it's doing to me! I'm fine now. I tell myself I won't beg. I won't offer myself in exchange for those pills! But then I'm without them for a couple hours and I *need* it."
  1531. > Fresh tears flowed and Sky looked back, staring you right in the eyes. "I need the pills so *bad* I'd do anything to get them. And every minute I don't get them, I want to throw up. I'm not lying when I say it hurts. It actually, *physically* hurts when I don't get the pills for a while!"
  1532. "I'm sorry-"
  1533. > "I bucking hate what they're doing to me! I never want to see them again!" the mare hissed angrily. "But I know in a few hours I'll want them again. And you'll say no, and I'll raise my tail and you'll rut me and I'll get the pills. Physically I will feel better, but I'll hate myself every minute of it!"
  1534. "I won't give-"
  1535. > "YOU ALWAYS SAY THAT!" she shouted. You hadn't been able to form a complete sentence yet, and now the pony had stood up and was advancing on you. "You tell me you won't give me any more. And I'm glad! I love you for it. But then all I have to do is beg a little and you give! Pathetic! Both of us!"
  1536. > She sat and burst into tears. Unsure of what to do, you simply picked her up, put her in your lap and hugged until it was over.
  1537. >...
  1538. > Everything Sky had said was true. Particularly the pathetic bit. Had you really so little self control that you would use her addiction to indulge yourself?
  1539. > You wanted to say no, but here was the proof right in front of you. The pony was sobbing miserably.
  1540. > "Just beat me and chain me up and use me whenever you feel like. At least I'll know where I stand!"
  1541. "No, I won't do that, Sky."
  1542. > She obviously didn't believe it. There was no change, except that the pegasus began to lightly hit her head against your chest. You put your hands on her withers and pushed her away so she saw your expression.
  1543. "I should have read up on the pills that first night. People get hooked on them all the time. It's a big problem. But I was lazy and I'm sorry, okay!"
  1544. > Her crying tapered off, but Sky still sniffled and tears kept pouring down her face.
  1545. "I'm gonna help you get past this, I promise. No more pills, okay?"
  1546. > "Y-you m-mean it?"
  1547. "I swear!"
  1548. > She still didn't believe it. But Sky had no choice in the matter. She heaved a sigh and pulled away from your hug.
  1549. > "It's gonna get bad soon. I'll beg you - I won't be able to help it. I'll..." the mere thought choked her up, but she pushed past it. "I'll offer it..."
  1550. "Won't matter. Not anymore."
  1551. > Now you also were getting emotional and your voice was husky.
  1552. "Sky, I'm sorry. I really do want you to be happy, okay?"
  1553. > A thought occurred and you mentally slapped yourself for not thinking of it sooner. It was so obvious!
  1554. "Look, no more of that 'Master' business. I should have said this ages ago. I want you to call me 'Anon', okay? I don't want a slave. I want a friend."
  1555. > You stood up, because otherwise you were liable to start sobbing yourself. You had to do something to take your mind off it, otherwise your own depression might come up to snare you again.
  1556. "I'll make you breakfast. You okay with scrambled eggs?"
  1557. > Very slowly and carefully the pony gave a nod. She didn't know what to make of this new development. But the way her eyes narrowed and her lips pressed together showed that she didn't trust it.
  1558. > You couldn't really blame her.
  1559. > She swallowed and looked down. "W-what will happen... when I don't take the pills. What will happen to me?"
  1560. > The list of symptoms for opiate withdrawal was horrifying. But you had to tell her the truth.
  1561. "Anxiety, insomnia, sweats, muscle ache. Sometimes cramps, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. I hope you won't get all of them. Maybe you haven't been on the stuff long enough."
  1562. > She was trembling and you decided breakfast could wait. You sat back down and collected the poor mare into a hug. She didn't resist it and you felt her shaking subside a little.
  1563. > "I d-don't want that, Master. P-please, isn't there something-" she pleaded. "C-can't you just give me sm-smaller doses until I'm off the pills?"
  1564. "Sorry, dear. We're nearly out anyway. You'd have to do this one way or the other. But I'll be with you the entire time, okay? I'll sleep on the floor by the couch, if I have to."
  1565. > She only clung to you out of fear, like she would to a life-line. But being needed - Red Sky depending on you - was a good feeling. You hoped her symptoms wouldn't be too bad.
  1566. > But whatever came, it was time to man up, get serious and really *help* the pony. Not the half-assed, degenerate crap you've been doing so far.
  1567. > Hopefully, if you make it to the other side with Red Sky, she would finally respect you, rather than just fear your punishment.
  1568. "Sky?"
  1569. > She didn't move out of your grasp. "Mmm?"
  1570. "When you got hurt, why did you come to me? Why didn't you go to your rebel friends?"
  1571. > The pegasus shrugged a little with her wings. "They don't have medicine. I knew it was real bad and they wouldn't be able to help me."
  1572. > The mare pushed herself away and looked in your eyes. "They are desperate, Mas- Anon. There is no food. No supplies. No medicine. I would just be another burden.
  1573. > Suddenly this resistance group stopped looking like Al-Qaeda, and seemed more like a few cold, shivering, starved ponies hiding in a cave somewhere.
  1574. > Sky was still looking at you, trying to gauge what you were thinking.
  1575. "Well, I've let you down a few times. But I really want to do what's right for you. You know that, right?"
  1576. > You felt she would say no. The mare had every right to shake her head, laugh and spit in your face.
  1577. > But Red Sky slowly nodded.
  1578. > "Thank you, Master," she said. This time it sounded a lot more heartfelt than usually.
  1580. > ~~~~
  1582. > You sat on the bathroom tiles and held the squirming, struggling Red Sky as best you could while she puked her guts out. At least this time she had felt it coming up early enough for you to rush her to the toilet.
  1583. > The couch couldn't take many more accidents without permanent damage. Not to mention that cleaning up pony diarrhea was even more disgusting than it sounded.
  1584. > This time, Sky emptied from the front, which was marginally better. What was left of the toast you prepared that morning splashed nastily into the bowl.
  1585. > At least it was over quickly and the mare turned back to you, disheveled and miserable. She fell into your hug.
  1586. > "Please, Master!" she said in a pathetic whisper. "Just one pi-pill..."
  1587. "No! You're almost through. I'm not letting you give up now!"
  1588. > "Please!" she wailed. Like many times before, the pony tried seduction. She closed her eyes, puckered her lips and tried to go in for a kiss.
  1589. > The smell of her vomit really helped. You resolutely pushed her muzzle away with a finger even as you flushed the toilet with your other hand.
  1590. "Not happening!"
  1591. > Sky seamlessly changed tactics. She burst into tears and wrapped her legs around your arm. "Puh-leeeese!" she wailed miserably. "Why are you being so meeeeeaaan?"
  1592. > It was a trick and she gave it away when she opened her eyes a crack to check your reaction. "It huuuuuurts!"
  1593. > You had heard it all before. During the worst of her detox, Red Sky had claimed she was dying. You nearly believed it too. You sat up with her the entire night with the bottle of pills in your hand, just in case.
  1594. > She had watched the medicine like a hawk. When it became obvious you weren't going to give her any, the mare had thrashed and screamed, until you were forced to clamp her muzzle shut with your hands. It had been a long night.
  1595. > Thankfully she never tried that again and you were hopeful that the worst was behind.
  1596. "You're almost through, Sky. Just a few more days and you'll start to feel better."
  1597. > She just sobbed into your sleeve. "Ow," she wailed and rubbed her snot more evenly on your shirt. "Pleeeeease! Just half a pill. I promise I won't ask for any more, Master!"
  1598. "No!"
  1599. > She let you go and turned around. Her tail shot up, giving you a superb view of what she had to offer.
  1600. > "You can rut me!" she said, switching angles yet again. She had tried that a few times as well, but you had been able to resist.
  1601. > "Come on, Master! Just put it in, I promise I'll make you feel good!"
  1602. "Stop that, Sky!"
  1603. > She must have felt your resolve wavering, because she took a step back to bring herself closer to your face. "Please, Master. I'm your little pony. I like how it feels!"
  1604. > You watched her in silence. The mane was a tangled mess with several clumps of dried snot and other unsavory substances. Fresh spittle and vomit were smeared on her muzzle despite your best efforts to keep her head out of the toilet bowl. Her eyes were red-rimmed and darted furtively here and there as she waited for your response.
  1605. > Her tail was best not thought about after a few of her accidents. Even the hooves were encrusted with filth. As for her private bits, they nearly turned your stomach.
  1606. > You had tried to wash her, but something about the shower brought out a screaming fit each time. It sounded as if Sky believed you were going to drown her.
  1607. > On the plus side, it made it a lot easier to say no to her advances.
  1608. "No, Sky."
  1609. > "Go on!" she raised her voice, insistent and demanding. "Rut me! I know how much you want to! Do it! I'll do anything you want for a pill, Master! DO IT!"
  1610. > In her desperation, the pony sought out new words - ones she had learned from humans. "FUCK ME!"
  1611. > The slap across her rump echoed in the bathroom. You instantly regretted it when Sky turned around, staring in slack-jawed surprise. After a moment, her tail and her ears both dropped. Her lips pressed together into a thin, barely visible line.
  1612. > "You hit me," she said with quiet accusation in her voice.
  1613. "You shouldn't have pushed your ass in my face."
  1614. > You were in the right. It was obvious. But somehow the punishment, as mild as it was, seemed monstrous and unwarranted.
  1615. > The mare took a breath and you expected her to either cry or scream at you. But her words were calm and quiet: "Buck! You!"
  1616. > Then she left the room. You heard her walk to the couch and leap up. Moments later the TV came on, full blast.
  1617. > You were almost in shock yourself. Despite everything she had done, you had never struck Red Sky before. You hurriedly washed your hands and went to check on the pony. Her face was covered by a blanket, but the way her body shook made it clear she was crying.
  1618. > Before you could take a few more steps closer, the pegasus heard you and tried to crawl deeper under the blanket. "GO AWAY!"
  1619. > It was not an angry demand, but an exclamation of fear.
  1620. "Sky, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have-"
  1621. > "Please, Master! Just go! I want to be alone," she cried into a pillow.
  1622. "Okay, I'll just-"
  1623. > You sought for something to do.
  1624. "I'll go to the store. I'll be back later."
  1625. > There was no reply, so you changed your shirt, put on your coat and left. Some cold air and a walk would help you clear your mind.
  1626. >...
  1627. > You returned much later to a suspiciously quiet apartment. The TV was off and the only lights were in the living room and the bathroom. You put the shopping bags down and began to shrug off your coat while you looked into the living room. The couch was empty.
  1628. > With some relief you realized that Sky must have gone to the bathroom by herself. It would be the first time during her recovery.
  1629. > You quickly went to fetch the bar of chocolate. You had bought it as an apology, but it would work just as well for a reward.
  1630. "Hey, it's good to see you up and about, Sky. Here, I got you-"
  1631. > The words stuck in your throat when you saw the scene.
  1632. > The cabinet door was open. The bottle of pills was torn apart and lay on the floor in pieces.
  1633. > The pony, sprawled in the middle, unresponsive.
  1634. > You were unable even to curse as you dropped the chocolate and fell to your knees to check her. She was still breathing, which was a relief. But the breaths she took were shallow. Her pupils were shrunken to pinpricks and there was a puddle of drool on the tiles, where her chin had lain.
  1635. "Please don't do this to me, Sky..."
  1636. > You finally found your voice, if only to plead with the pony. You shook her a little, but she was was out cold, even with her eyelids open. The eyes did not focus on you.
  1637. > Completely ignoring the filth and drool, you pressed the mare against yourself and stood up. Your mind raced.
  1638. > It was an off chance, but you sat on the edge of the bathtub, balanced Sky on your knee and carefully pried her mouth open.
  1639. > She didn't resist as you stuck your fingers down her throat. The result was much the same as with humans.
  1640. > The mare hadn't eaten anything else that day, so she didn't throw up much. You desperately tried to see bits of pills, but of course there was nothing.
  1641. "Fuck!"
  1642. > The swear helped, but only a little. The pony hiccuped, then puked some more. Again you checked, going as far as to push the mess around with your fingers. You thought you saw remnants of one or two pills.
  1643. > Some of it had splashed on your shirt and pants, but you didn't much care. It smelled horrible, but you didn't mind that either.
  1644. > The only thing that really mattered was the poor pegasus in your arms. You tried to make her comfortable as you searched your memory for everything you knew about CPR. Would it even work on ponies?
  1645. > Experimentally, you felt around her barrel, trying to figure exactly where her heart was. It took you a while to find it, but eventually your hand settled in the right place. Maybe it was just your imagination, but it seemed to be beating erratically.
  1646. > You laid Sky's head on your shoulder, so you could better hear her breathing. You knew you would stay there and listen until she woke up.
  1647. >...
  1648. > Nothing much changed in her condition, so you eventually moved Red Sky to the couch. It was a sight more comfortable on your ass than the edge of the tub.
  1649. > You tried not to think what you'd do if the pony died. Could you even forgive yourself? Keeping the pills nearby had been a monumentally stupid idea. And leaving a drug addict alone had been another.
  1650. > The mere fact that Sky had gotten hooked on the stuff was bad enough.
  1651. > Pony ownership seemed to be just one disaster after another. You wondered why no one else on the Internet had these problems.
  1652. > The circle of guilt and self-pity stopped suddenly when you realized that Sky was licking your ear. You pulled her away to peer in her face.
  1653. "Sky? Are you with me?"
  1654. > The pony gave you a lopsided smile. "'eyy, Maah..." she tried, but her eyes unfocused and she fumbled for the word. "Mah... muh... Mastah!" She giggled uncontrollably after managing to get it out.
  1655. > You blurted out the first thing on your mind.
  1656. "I'm so sorry! I never should have left you alone and this whole thing is my fault and I guess I'm just bad at it-"
  1657. > The erratic stream of apologies and excuses was cut short when the mare simply leaned in and kissed you.
  1658. > Her taste was the foulest thing you had even felt and nearly made you retch. You managed to push her muzzle with its questing tongue out of the way.
  1659. "Ugh, no. Sorry, but you're disgusting."
  1660. > It just made her laugh some more. You couldn't help joining in out of sheer relief. The mirth seemed to be waking the pony up and you began to hope she would be okay.
  1661. > "C'mon, gim- gimme... gimme kiss!" she slurred, but her lips missed and she ended up Frenching your collar.
  1662. > She was really getting into it, but you just stroked her back in what you hoped was a calming manner.
  1663. "We'll get through this together. I won't let you die on me."
  1664. > The pegasus probably didn't quite understand your words, but she seemed to feel the concern and care. She smiled up at you. "Fank yoo... uhh," she tried to say, but her breath hit you right in the face. It made you gag and hurriedly put your hand over her mouth.
  1665. "God damn it, Sky! That's it. I'm brushing your teeth and giving you a shower, whether you like it or not."
  1666. > You held up a finger and the pony tried to focus on it. She was swaying a little, but her eyes stayed on the digit.
  1667. "If you scream, I'll just tie your trap shut, got it?"
  1668. > In lieu of an answer the mare licked your finger. That made her giggle some more.
  1669. > Maybe it was the drugs, or maybe it was the confident way you picked her up, but Sky didn't resist being carried to the bathroom. There was still the mess on the floor and the splatter of sick in the tub, but you ignored those. You closed the toilet lid and sat the pony on top. You had to lean down a little, but the height was perfect for what you needed.
  1670. > You took Sky's brush and her special toothpaste, both of which you had purchased at great expense from a pony specialty shop online. You had cautioned the mare to go easy on the stuff, but now you squeezed out a generous portion on the bristles.
  1671. > She watched all this with a little bemused smile. You were thinking about how best to hold her mouth open when she figured out what you were going to do.
  1672. > "Ooooh, mouff washie... thing," she mumbled. Like a miracle, she opened her jaws as wide as they would go and closed her eyes. She still swayed quite a bit, but with your hand supporting her, the job was really easy.
  1673. > Brushing someone else's teeth was the strangest experience of your life. At first, you were too gentle and the mare giggled as you tickled her.
  1674. > More than once you had to push her tongue out of the way as she tried to lick the brush. A few times Sky forgot what you were doing and closed her mouth. It took some explaining and prodding with your fingers to get her to open again.
  1675. > You started at the back, thinking you'd get the most inaccessible bits done as soon as possible, in case the pony decided to stop cooperating.
  1676. > Quickly you discovered there wasn't any particular trick to it. Just brush a few times and move on. Same as for yourself, of course. You mentally called yourself stupid for thinking it was such a big deal.
  1677. > The upper teeth were a bit more problematic. Each time you bent down to get a better look, the pony leaned with you. She just giggled and chortled when you tried to make her stay upright. In the end, you stuck your other hand in there and guided the brush by touch.
  1678. > Maybe that was how dentists felt? Except their patients didn't try to sensually lick their fingers, or moaned in some imagined pleasure.
  1679. > Eventually you were done. You tipped the other toothbrush out of the glass and filled it with lukewarm water.
  1680. "Don't swallow, okay? Just swirl it around and spit it out."
  1681. > The mare looked at you in confusion, then slowly nodded. You didn't care if she spewed it on the floor - the whole bathroom would need a good cleaning after this day, anyway.
  1682. > You carefully tipped a trickle into her mouth.
  1683. "Don't swallow!"
  1684. > It worked and soon Sky had a mouthful. She dutifully sloshed it around a little and you moved away to avoid the splash.
  1685. > But then the pony stared you right in the eye and swallowed.
  1686. "Damn it! I said-"
  1687. > You stopped yourself and sighed. The mare was drugged out of her mind. And it's not like toothpaste was worse than the pills. At least she seemed to get a kick out of it. You had to hold her up, or she would fall off the toilet.
  1688. > When she was done laughing, you simply picked her up again and deposited her in the tub. She just folded down, right into the mess.
  1689. > You didn't much care. The bigger question was: would the pony scream bloody murder again, when the water hit her? You started with the showerhead pointing away until the water was pleasantly hot.
  1690. > So far so good. Aside from watching it wearily, Sky didn't seem to mind. You experimentally wet her tail, but she didn't even flinch.
  1691. "Are you okay? It's just water. I need to wash you."
  1692. > After a brief pause to think it over, Sky nodded. "Fankoo, mah-" she began, but lost the word again. You didn't wait for her to try and remember how to say it.
  1693. > She gave a small gasp when the water hit her flank and you froze. But the mare didn't scream, just sighed and closed her eyes. It was a much better response than you had gotten lately and it was very encouraging.
  1694. > With the shampoo at the ready you began washing the junkie pegasus.
  1695. >...
  1696. > 'Puffed out' was the closest description you could come up with after drying Red Sky in a large towel. By then, the mare had sobered enough to know what was happening and to be acutely aware of you laughing at her.
  1697. > Even her scowl was adorable as you simply picked her up and carried her to the living room. But you didn't drop her there. Now that the pegasus was clean, it became obvious that the couch was filthy. Many of the stains might never come out, but you didn't really care about that. In the worst case scenario you'd just toss it out and get a couple of bean bags.
  1698. > But you didn't want to put Sky into that mess, so you took her to the bedroom. She seemed almost sober, but you still didn't want to leave her alone. Luckily, there was a relatively simple solution.
  1699. > You bundled the pegasus in a clean towel and put her on your bed. Then you plopped down beside her with your phone in hand. The stupid little games on it would distract you for a while and there was always YouTube for when you got bored with them.
  1700. > The key thing, you felt, was to stay awake until the mare was no longer in danger of dying from drug overdose. She was awake now, which you assumed was a good sign, but you were afraid of her falling asleep and choking her her vomit or something. That scene in Breaking Bad had been pretty brutal.
  1701. > Without any numbers or experience to go on, you simply decided to stay awake until morning. If Sky was still fine then, you'd get some sleep.
  1702. > "What are we doing?" the pony asked, only a little drowsy. Her giggling fits had receded and now she was coming to.
  1703. "You're going to rest and I'll watch and make sure you don't die."
  1704. > For the first time since you had found her passed out, Sky seemed to take you seriously. "Die!?" she asked, alarmed. "Why would I die?!"
  1705. "Don't you remember?"
  1706. > Realization slowly hit her. "I... took the pills," she said. It was a half-question, as if she knew it was true, but really hoped it wasn't.
  1707. "That was the stupidest damn thing you've-"
  1708. > You stopped the tirade and drew a deep, calming breath. Now was not the time for anger and accusation.
  1709. "You could have died. I was really worried about you."
  1710. > The ears went down and Sky looked miserable. "I'm sorry. I just couldn't take it anymore. I needed it."
  1711. > She was relatively lucid for the moment, but you knew her dependency wasn't over.
  1712. "Well, you're gonna need it again, pretty badly. You were nearly through it, too. Just a day or two and you would have been back to normal."
  1713. > She looked like she was about to cry. A hoof batted ineffectually against your chest. "I hate this!" the pegasus sobbed quietly. "I hate feeling like this. I hate what it's doing to me!"
  1714. > The guilt hit you far stronger than the pony had.
  1715. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have given you that much..."
  1716. > She glared and for a moment it looked like Sky would rage at you for her predicament. But she closed her eyes and sighed. "I kept asking even after it stopped hurting. They made me feel good and I wanted more."
  1717. "We can beat it. It's gonna feel like shit, but then it will get better, understand?"
  1718. > Without opening her eyes the mare nodded. "C-can you tie me up?" she asked.
  1719. "What?"
  1720. > "I saw the collar and chain," she said quietly. "I know you wanted to, after- after I got hurt."
  1721. "Sky, that was just- I didn't-"
  1722. > You stopped yourself before you lied to the mare again.
  1723. "Look, I thought about it, okay? But just because I was worried for you, okay? You got mauled by a dog while sneaking into someplace in order to steal food! I mean, come on!"
  1724. > She blinked her eyes open and watched you in silence.
  1725. "But I decided I wouldn't do it. I got the collar just- for peace of mind, okay? So I could tell myself I did something."
  1726. > Eventually, Red Sky nodded. "I t-think I understand. But now you have it, you might as well chain me up, at least until this is over."
  1727. > You couldn't understand her reasoning.
  1728. "Why? There's no more pills in the apartment."
  1729. > She looked away and her ears swiveled toward the window as a lone car honked in the street below. "I- I might go out and try to find more drugs somewhere."
  1730. > Admitting it must have been hard as hell. You could respect that. And her suggestion seemed reasonable.
  1731. "Just until you're over the withdrawal?"
  1732. > Without looking at you, the pony nodded.
  1733. "The instant you're okay, the collar comes off, okay?"
  1734. > Another nod.
  1735. "Sky, look at me!"
  1736. > Finally, the eyes focused on you. "Yes, Master?" she said, flatly. She seemed depressed that you agreed to what was essentially her idea.
  1737. "I already told you, no more of that 'Master' stuff. I don't want you to be a slave, not anymore. I'll chain you up, but only for your safety, and only for as long as it's necessary. And I promise- I *swear* that the collar comes off the instant you're over this addiction."
  1738. > She still seemed doubtful and with all the crap you've pulled over the past few months, you couldn't blame her. But maybe there was a glimmer of hope there. Perhaps it would all turn out okay in the end.
  1739. > "Thanks," the pony said and this time it sounded sincere.
  1740. "Try and get some sleep. I'll stay up and make sure you're okay."
  1741. > The mare shuffled around until she was facing away, but the movement unwrapped her towel. You took it from under her and dropped it on the floor. Then you pulled the covers over the pegasus and wriggled closer. It wasn't exactly chilly in the apartment, but Sky was still damp from her shower and she seemed grateful for the body warmth.
  1742. > You simply listened to her breathing for a while, then you picked up your phone and settled down for a long night.
  1744. > ~~~~
  1746. > Things were getting better. Red Sky still came begging for drugs when the need became unbearable, but at least she didn't offer sex in exchange. A firm 'no' was usually enough to get her to back off.
  1747. > True to her word, the pony even let you chain her up while you slept or went out for supplies. The line was just long enough to loop around the radiator pipe and let her lie comfortably on the couch. There were two little padlocks to prevent the pony from releasing her collar or unhooking the leash from the radiator and you kept the keys on a string around your neck.
  1748. > So far, Sky hadn't attempted to steal them while you slept.
  1749. > You hoped her detox would be over soon, because you couldn't stand the humiliated, dejected look on the pegasus' face when you put the collar on her. It was her own suggestion, but she hated every minute of it.
  1750. > A few days into her rehab, you agreed to take her out flying. You debated internally whether to keep her leashed, but in the end - with Red Sky's solemn promise not to run away in search of drugs - you decided to let her go free.
  1751. > The risk was worth it for the happy smile and hug she gave you.
  1752. > Like always, the pony flew out the window and met you in the park. You visited all your usual places and let the mare fly around for a very long time. Incredibly, she made sure to stay in your sight at all times.
  1753. > As a reward, you took her to McDonalds at the end and got her an early-morning chocolate shake. The mare let you carry her in your lap while she slurped it down. Once she was done, Sky licked your cheek in gratitude.
  1754. > Her tongue was icy cold and together with the chill in the air caused you to start shivering.
  1755. "Let's go back. I'm freezing my ass off, here."
  1756. > Seeing your discomfort was immensely funny to the pony and she quickly licked you again, giggling.
  1757. > Despite the discomfort, you didn't stop her. Instead, you poked a finger at her nose.
  1758. "Bad pony!"
  1759. > It made her giggle some more, enough to nearly lose her grip on the empty cup.
  1760. > But suddenly she fell silent and wrapped her forelegs around her midriff. "Ugh," she moaned, "I don't feel so good." The forgotten piece of plastic clattered against the ground.
  1761. > One look at her expression was enough. You switched your grip and turned the mare away from yourself. You barely had time to duck into an alley before her treat came back up and splattered on the pavement.
  1762. > You worked one arm free and rooted in your coat pocket for a paper wipe. She took it gratefully and wiped herself off. Then she held the soiled piece of paper back to you. "Sorry," she said demurely.
  1763. "Don't worry. It'll get better. How do you feel?"
  1764. > "I could go for a pill," the mare said. When she saw your face she rolled her eyes and sighed. "It was a joke! Sheesh. I've been better, though."
  1765. > She looked down at the brown puddle. "Shame about the ice cream, though."
  1766. > You reached a decision.
  1767. "Want another one?"
  1768. > The sugar would do her good, you felt. The pony had eaten very little and her ribs were starting to come out. Soon she would be as thin as when you first met her.
  1769. > "Don't waste your money, Master," Sky said. "I dunno if I'll keep it down."
  1770. "Well, you're gonna try! And enough with the 'Master' stuff already."
  1771. > You turned around and marched right back to the McDonalds. You got her another small shake, trying your best to ignore the odd looks you got from the staff.
  1772. > This time, the pony held it down. It was an encouraging result. Maybe she really was getting better. You carried her home in silence.
  1773. > Of course she still had to fly up on her own, while you took the lift. As quickly as you could, you opened the window and let her in. Pegasi seemed capable of hovering in a spot indefinitely, but you didn't want Sky to needlessly strain herself.
  1774. "Everything okay?"
  1775. > She understood what you were asking. "Yeah, I didn't throw up."
  1776. > You decided it was time to have the talk.
  1777. "Okay. Tell me about the resistance group."
  1778. > Her ears went flat immediately. "Can we do this tomorrow, please?"
  1779. "No, I want to talk to you now."
  1780. > She looked back at the window, but it was already closed. "I didn't have to come back, you know?" she warned.
  1781. "Yeah, but you did. You said it yourself - your resistance friends can't feed another mouth. You got nowhere to go."
  1782. > The pony was getting defensive. You considered dropping the subject and picking it up again after sleeping on it, but something made you stubborn and angry. Maybe it was the memory of Sky bleeding to death in your arms, or perhaps it was the sting of her lies and secrecy.
  1783. > The mare pouted as she considered your words. "I don't want to talk about it. I'm tired."
  1784. "Do you want to go and help this resistance movement? After what happened to you the last time?"
  1785. > It was really the only thing you cared about. Those ponies could do whatever they wanted as far as you were concerned. You didn't care much if they got themselves killed. But you did care if they took your Red Sky down with them.
  1786. > "None of your business!"
  1787. > You tried to reason with her.
  1788. "Sky, I only want you to be safe. You saw what happened to you last time!"
  1789. > "Oh? And what's happening here is any better? You got me hooked on drugs!" she blurted out. For a moment she seemed sorry, but then her resolve stiffened and she glared defiantly at you again.
  1790. > It hit right where it hurt and you sighed.
  1791. "I said I'm sorry, what else do you want?"
  1792. > "For you to leave me alone! I don't wanna talk right now, okay? Thanks for the walk and thanks for the ice cream, but please just buck off to your computer or your bed or whatever and let me sleep off this headache!"
  1793. > It wasn't over yet - you knew you'd have to revisit the topic again. But maybe the pony was right. It was the middle of the night and it sounded like Sky wasn't completely over the drugs just yet. You went to the radiator and picked up the collar.
  1794. > "Can we not?" the mare begged, looking at the floor.
  1795. > You considered it. She had been very obedient in the park. And the pegasus came straight home at the end of your walk. She never once asked to 'fly alone'.
  1796. > But her tone bothered you.
  1797. "One more night. We'll talk tomorrow and then we can stop with this, okay?"
  1798. > She heaved a sigh and bowed her head to make it easier for you to collar her. "Fine. Just get it bucking over with."
  1799. > You clasped the loop around her neck and pushed the padlock together until it clicked. When the mare lifted her head to watch you, the chain jingled quietly.
  1800. > "Go on," she said dryly. "I won't go anywhere."
  1801. > There was no talking with the pony in that mood, so you left her to go and browse the Internet. A few moments later you heard the TV come on.
  1803. > ~~~~
  1805. > "BITE ME!" Red Sky yelled and for a moment it looked as if she was going to kick. There was a dangerous gleam in her eyes and her ears were laid completely flat against her head. Her wings were partly open - ready to take off at a moment's notice.
  1806. "Look, calm down. I just want to talk."
  1807. > The pegasus didn't care for reasoning. "You said you'd take it off!" she barked and wrapped her chain around a foreleg so she could give it a strong tug. "Get this thing off me!"
  1808. "I will, I promise, just talk to me for five minutes."
  1809. > The look Sky shot you was pure poison. You couldn't believe how quickly she had changed from happy-to-see-you-in-the-morning pony to... this.
  1810. > All you did was sat down on the other side of the couch and asked her to stay away from the pony resistance group. That had probably been a mistake.
  1811. > "Okay, I'll talk," she said suddenly, "and I'll tell you that the minute I get this thing off I'm out of here!"
  1812. "Sky-"
  1813. > Her eyes brimmed with tears, even as she angrily interrupted you. "No! Enough with this crap! I don't need you! And I don't need this!"
  1814. > She yanked the chain again so it rattled against the radiator.
  1815. "It was your idea, remember?"
  1816. > The mare put her face in her hooves and exhaled. "You were supposed to say no," she explained in a voice that was much too calm. "You're really bad at this, aren't you?"
  1817. > You raised your hands defensively.
  1818. "How the fuck was I supposed to know? I can't read minds!"
  1819. > Sky seemed to just concentrate on her breathing for a while. Eventually, she looked up. "Just tell me this... Anon. Will you let me go?"
  1820. > Now that it was out it hit you where it hurt. After all, you had always wanted to keep Sky happy, even if you had made some mistakes. For her to actively want to leave was horrifying. You felt your insides clench up and your breath catch.
  1821. > Somehow, you found your voice again to try and plead with the pony.
  1822. "Please don't, Sky."
  1823. > She just repeated: "If I ask you to let me go, will you release me? Answer me!" You searched her face for any clues, but somehow, even with tears running down her cheeks, the mare seemed impassive.
  1824. > It was the million dollar question. You had claimed, both to Sky and yourself, that she wasn't your captive. Now you could either keep that promise, or put a lie to your words.
  1825. "Yes. I'll let you go."
  1826. > It shocked you both. Sky opened and closed her mouth a couple of times. The answer had been unexpected, it seemed. She heaved a sigh and looked to the floor. "Take the collar off, please."
  1827. > Your hands shook as you fumbled for the key around your neck. It took you several tries to fit it into the padlock and unclasp it. Then you pulled the leather loop away and let it drop from your nerveless fingers.
  1828. > You half-expected Red Sky to simply break a window and fly away. But all she did was rub her neck where the collar had been.
  1829. > "Okay, now talk," the pony said firmly. You couldn't help but notice that her wings opened further, as if she was preparing to take off. "You have one minute to tell me why I should stay."
  1830. "S-stay?!"
  1831. > The situation was slipping beyond your grasp. Now that she was free, Sky wanted to talk after all? And she was offering to stay? And that came out moments after you had realized you would lose her.
  1832. > The mare approached and carefully placed a hoof against your chest. "Look, it wasn't all bad. Celestia help me, but I was starting to like it here. And I wasn't lying when I said the resistance doesn't have the means for me to stay with them."
  1833. > She seemed to deflate. "Maybe we can find a middle way or something?"
  1834. > It was time to take some initiative. You realized that Sky was looking for an excuse to stay with you. It was a heartwarming thought, but you had to tread carefully.
  1835. "You can stay for as long as you like. You were never a prisoner."
  1836. > That seemed safe enough, but the pony was already frowning. "Will you keep me from helping the resistance?"
  1837. > You didn't answer right away and the pressure of her hoof on your chest increased. "Anon, this is important to me. My friends are important to me! Will you keep me from helping my friends?"
  1838. > This was the turning point. If you said no, Sky wouldn't hesitate to leave. But if you said yes, she might get herself killed. Or worse - get torn apart and somehow drag herself back, so she could die in your arms. It was a very scary thought.
  1839. > What had the pony said? A middle way. Your mind raced.
  1840. "Can you promise me you'll stay away from the dangerous stuff? I don't mind you helping them, but no more breaking in and stealing. Can you do that?"
  1841. > She thought about it. Like always when she was considering something important, the pony leaned her head to the side. It was almost unbearably adorable and it nearly made you cry when you remembered you might lose all that.
  1842. > At long last, Sky answered very carefully: "I promise I'll be safe, okay?"
  1843. "Not good enough. No breaking in, no stealing, no illegal stuff. There's still plenty you can do for them."
  1844. > Perhaps you were pushing her too much, but the mare had essentially said no to your request. The 'middle way' meant that each of you had to give something.
  1845. > You almost forgot to breathe as you waited. When the pony gave a small nod, all the air you had been holding rushed out in a relieved sigh.
  1846. > "I have to go to them tonight," Sky said, interrupting your moment of joy. "They probably think I'm dead after the-" she paused and looked away guiltily. "After my accident."
  1847. > You suddenly realized that you didn't really mind. Not when the alternative was Red Sky leaving and trying to survive on her own somewhere in the forest. Probably stealing and doing other dangerous stuff for the resistance.
  1848. > At one point you had thought about meeting them, but now you didn't really want to. More and more the desperate refugees looked like dangerous lunatics.
  1849. "Fine."
  1850. > The pony gave you the first genuinely grateful smile in a long time. "Thank you!" she chirped, all her anger and contrition forgotten in an instant. You realized that Sky was just as happy to stay in the apartment as you were to have her. She obviously really did not want to try surviving out in the wilderness with her rebellious friends.
  1851. "How are you feeling, by the way? Up for some breakfast?"
  1852. > The pegasus sat back on her haunches and put her forelegs around her belly. She smacked her lips. "Mmmm, maybe?" she said. "My head still hurts and my stomach is a little queasy, but maybe it's getting better?"
  1853. > It was a good sign of her recovery. Perhaps she was finally through her rehab? She didn't sound entirely sure, but it was better than the abject misery she usually displayed when asked about food.
  1854. "Good. I'll make us sandwiches."
  1855. > The pony clapped her hooves together in anticipation. "Oh, extra salad in mine, please!" she said with a smile. Then she dashed forward and wrapped her legs around you. "Thanks, Mas- uh, Anon."
  1856. > The way her mood was flipping recently worried you a little. But anxiety and moodswings were a few of the symptoms listed for opiate withdrawal.
  1857. > If it got out of hand again you'd try to find more information on the Internet, but for the moment you decided not to worry too much.
  1858. > The relief that Sky wouldn't leave you was enough for you to forget that small quirk.
  1859. >...
  1860. > It was nearly morning by the time Red Sky tapped on your window. You woke up in an instant and let her in. But then the mare landed on your bed and left four big, muddy hoofprints. She didn't notice as she shook some water out of her coat and wings.
  1861. > "Morning, Mas-" she started to say, but quickly changed it, "Anon." Then she followed your stare to the bed, which was essentially ruined.
  1862. > "Oh! Sorry! I didn't even notice I had- Sorry!" some of her old personality bubbled through in the panic and the pony cowered, fully expecting a beating. She hid her face behind a wing and sniffled.
  1863. > You didn't care about the sheets. True, it would be slightly annoying to change and wash them, but it wasn't that much effort. Plus, they probably needed changing anyway.
  1864. "It's fine."
  1865. > Sky spread her feathers a little so she could peer through. "I'll wash them! Sorry! It's just- I didn't mean- I'm used to snow!" she explained hurriedly.
  1866. > Now that she had drawn attention to it, you did see the difference outside. The snow, meager as it had been, was gone. And the chill which had pervaded the outside air was barely noticeable. The ground was no longer frozen, but muddy.
  1867. > The first signs of spring, you thought.
  1868. "Okay, okay, I'm not mad. Just change and wash the sheets and it's fine."
  1869. > At first you thought she sagged in relief, but then you noticed it was more than that. Now that she was warming up, Sky began to realize just how tired she was.
  1870. > After all, she did lie in bed for several weeks, first with the wounds and then because of her nausea from detoxing. And tonight she had probably flown for miles and miles. Despite her exhaustion, she began working the bedcover up from the mattress anyway.
  1871. > You put a hand on her muzzle. It was soaking wet and very cold.
  1872. "Not now. Go dry yourself off and get some rest. It can wait. I was about to get up anyway."
  1873. > The last was a lie and you both knew it, but Sky didn't argue. "C-can I take a shower?" she asked.
  1874. "Yes and you don't have to ask."
  1875. > The sudden bout of subservience couldn't be attributed just to the mess she had made by mistake. You had a feeling the pony was extra nice because she wanted something. But you didn't ask. Sooner or later, Red Sky would bring her request to you herself.
  1876. > When she chirped a polite thank you and gave you an enthusiastic, if rather damp and chilly hug, you were sure.
  1877. > But you said nothing as the mare smartly wiped her feet on the already dirty sheet and hopped down to the floor. You watched her walk away with an unusual bounce in her step.
  1878. > In a way, it was more pleasing to see the pony happy, than with her tail lifted in fear. Too pleasing.
  1879. > It has been a while since you had done anything... inappropriate with Sky. You weren't about to break that streak, but with the shower going on full blast, perhaps Sky wouldn't hear you have some fun.
  1880. > You sneaked over to the bathroom door, which was closed. Then you leaned down until you could look through the keyhole.
  1881. > It revealed just enough of red flank to be enticing. When the pony ran a wing along her side you couldn't take it anymore and slipped a hand into your pajamas.
  1882. > The mare made a sound and your breath caught in fear. But a moment later, you recognized that the pony was humming.
  1883. > You didn't recognize the melody, but it sounded cheerful and lighthearted. It only spurred you on.
  1884. > Luckily, you didn't have to stand there bent over for long. The pony turned around to reach for her shampoo bottle and awarded you an amazing view of everything she had to offer.
  1885. > You managed to catch most of it in your hands with only a few drops landing on your pants, but you couldn't keep down a slight groan. The shower stopped suddenly. "A-anon?" the pony asked, nervously.
  1886. > Her hearing kept on surprising you. Sneaking away was out of the question without the cover of running water. You straightened up and tried a bluff.
  1887. "Everything okay in there?"
  1888. > You managed to keep your voice level and the pony bought it. "Yes! Almost finished!" You heard the clicks as she landed on the tiles and then the rustle of cloth when she pulled a fresh towel from a stack on the washing machine.
  1889. "I'll bring the sheets. I thought I'd stick them in the washer, save you some trouble."
  1890. > Her voice was cheerful and you could just imagine her grateful smile. "Oh! Thanks!"
  1891. > That was the excuse you needed to walk awkwardly back to your room. You wiped yourself off in the cloth, then bunched it into a ball. Perhaps if you wrapped it all up, the smell wouldn't waft so much.
  1892. > The pony exited the bathroom with a damp mane and tail and you just pushed past her. You shoved the fabric into the machine and closed it. The pony wrinkled her nose a little, but the smile never slipped. "I'll put the powder in and-"
  1893. "No!"
  1894. > She was surprised by your outburst, so you quickly added:
  1895. "It's fine, I'm already here, so I might as well..."
  1896. > You opened the hatch just enough to pour in a measure of washing powder, then closed and started the machine. Sky kept watching you strangely the whole time.
  1897. "I think I'll also take a shower. Sleep well!"
  1898. > "Okay," the mare said neutrally and left. You finally allowed yourself to breathe normally again.
  1899. > Now that it was done, you felt ashamed. Looking at Sky through the keyhole suddenly seemed very wrong. It was stupid, you told yourself - after all, the mare was naked the entire time. But somehow, in the bathtub, the pony had seemed *more* naked.
  1900. > Pleasuring yourself while watching Sky take a shower somehow felt weird. You imagined it would be the same inappropriate feeling as if you were jacking it to your  sister. But you never had siblings, so you couldn't be sure.
  1901. > You sat on the edge of the tub and put your head in your arms as you tried to make sense of your emotions. What was right or wrong in this case?
  1902. > Was Red Sky your slave or not? If yes, then why were you feeling ashamed of anything? A slave's opinion didn't matter. You could just walk up to her right now, smack her in the face with your dick and demand she suck it. And if she complained or said no, you'd just whip her with a belt or something until she did what you said.
  1903. > But the mere thought of doing that, once a source of many fantasies, now filled you with revulsion.
  1904. > You didn't want Sky's blind obedience. What you really wanted from the pony was her respect. And, more importantly, love. Neither of those would be forthcoming if she knew what you had been doing just behind the door.
  1905. > Well, it was better than the stuff you'd done in the past, that was true. But not by much. Winning the pony over would be hard enough without new blunders like that. Perhaps it was already impossible?
  1906. > The thought was unbearable. The fear of not being able to eventually win Red Sky's admiration almost brought you to tears.
  1907. > Why should one pony, however sexy, make you feel that way?
  1908. > You'd never had much experience with love. Was this it?
  1909. > As you let your arms drop you felt a damp spot on your pants. There was nothing else to do, you decided. You'd have to keep your hands off your dick and, more importantly, off Red Sky. You knew it would take nothing less than a flawless track record from now on to win the mare's heart.
  1910. > But it had to be possible, right?
  1911. > After all, the pegasus had made her own share of mistakes. You were both learning, so a little forgiveness was warranted on each side, no?
  1912. > You focused on the optimism as you stripped and got in the shower.
  1914. > ~~~~
  1916. > It was nearly four A.M. and you were still up, waiting for the pony to return from her visit to the resistance camp. The days were getting warmer, but tonight was especially ugly with constant, chilly rain and wind. Typical April weather.
  1917. > You knew Red Sky would return wet, disheveled, tired and chilled to the bone. It was exactly what you were hoping for. The pot of water was already boiling and you had the cocoa mix ready. There was also milk and sugar, already on the coffee table.
  1918. > Several large towels were stacked nearby and you had the big, thick blanket draped over the back of the couch. Especially for this occasion you had dug up your collection of Pixar movies.
  1919. > If all went as planned, the frozen, wet and miserable Red Sky would be cheered up by the hot drink, then dried with the towels and finally warmed by snuggling up with you and watching a few movies.
  1920. > With luck, she would fall asleep in your arms and wake up happy and comfortable. It would go a long way toward your end goal.
  1921. > The mare had been steadily warming up to you over the days. She hardly stuttered anymore when addressing you and she almost never slipped up and called you 'Master'. She no longer shied away from your touch and wasn't averse to having her withers idly scratched as you watched a movie with her.
  1922. > A few times, she even dozed off with her head in your lap, or leaning against you.
  1923. > This night would take all that and take it a bit further.
  1924. > It was a long game and you missed the sex, but if all went well, the pony would soon offer it willingly. And, you imagined, that would be even better than just being coerced or scared into it.
  1925. > You still had to relieve the pressure sometimes, but luckily Sky went to help her resistance friends quite often, so you had many opportunities when the flat was empty.
  1926. > The place was ready: the water on a slow flame, ready to be poured. The towels and blankets. The DVD of Toy Story with the Play button highlighted in the menu.
  1927. > Your final check was interrupted by a knock on your front door. It caused your mind to throw a cog in surprise.
  1928. > Who the fuck...?
  1929. > The second, more insistent knock finally got you moving. You went to entrance and peered out through the peephole. There was no one there and the lights were off.
  1930. > Strange, you thought. Maybe you were hearing things. The building had a lot of heat pipes that made weird noises when the pumps activated and the metal expanded.
  1931. > But the knocking came again and this time there could be no doubt. Someone was right outside, banging on your door.
  1932. > You thought about ghosts for a few seconds before pushing it down and calling yourself silly. But you still held your breath as you opened the door with a shaking hand.
  1933. > Two pony faces looked up at your from the doormat.
  1934. "Sky?! What are you doing- who is this?!"
  1935. > Both were thoroughly soaked and in the faint, reflected streetlight you could see two series of wet, muddy hoofprints leading down the stairs. You let go of the door and your arm fell limply to your side as your mind raced.
  1936. > The mare stepped closer and touched her nose against the back of your hand. "Please, Master Anon! He just needs somewhere to stay for a day or two. We can't take him in at the camp, there's no room!"
  1937. > The other pony - you saw it was an earth stallion - joined in with the pleading. "Please, Master Anon! I won't be a bother, I promise!"
  1938. > You realized that all the noise might attract unwanted attention. You yanked your hand away from Sky, who had begun licking it in supplication, and put a finger against your lips.
  1939. "Sssh! Alright, get in. Just shut up, okay?"
  1940. > The ponies fell silent instantly and shuffled around you. Now that they were out of the way, you saw a large puddle around your doormat, plus the muddy prints. It wouldn't be hard for your neighbors to figure out what had happened.
  1941. "Shit!"
  1942. > Without any better idea, you ran inside, fished up an old towel from the clothes bin and threw it down by the doormat. You pushed it around with your foot until it had soaked up most of the water.
  1943. > Then you shuffled around, dragging the cloth until you'd cleaned up most of the prints. But that still left the stairs. The trail didn't lead directly to your door, but there was some suspicion going around and even tying the ponies to your floor could give you away.
  1944. > You sighed, bent down and picked up the muddy towel. You turned it around and used the relatively clean side to wipe down the stairs.
  1945. > The two ponies watched you curiously from inside the apartment.
  1946. "Stay there and throw me another towel!"
  1947. > You said it in a low whisper, remembering how good Sky's hearing was. She nodded, disappeared for a moment, then tossed the cloth awkwardly in your direction.
  1948. > It landed near enough and you used it to clean the stairs.
  1949. > Luckily, there was no one in the halls for the entire fifteen minutes it took you to finish. The trail now ended on the top stair one floor below yours.
  1950. > You decided that was good enough. For good measure, you wrung the towels out over a random doormat, then hurried back up.
  1951. > The ponies were still standing just inside the apartment, their ears focused on what you were doing. You closed the door almost the entire way and flicked on the main hall light to make sure. There was no trace of the hoofprints that you could see.
  1952. > Except on your door. You had almost missed that and quickly wiped it clean.
  1953. > It was a relief when you finally stepped inside and locked the door behind you. Two pairs of eyes watched you worriedly.
  1954. > Your gaze took in the scene. The new stallion was dark yellow, if that was even a color, and his mane was a vivid red. You wondered how Sky had managed to sneak him through the streets without being seen. His ass-picture was of stylized fire.
  1955. > The pegasus took the initiative. Her voice was halting and quiet, but she still introduced the newcomer. "T-this is Fl-flame Tail, Master Anon."
  1956. > At the sound of his name, the new pony gave a small hesitant nod. He was clearly very afraid of you, but he seemed to trust Red Sky enough to have gone along with her scheme. "Tha- thank you for taking m-me in, Master Anon," he squeaked.
  1957. > It was a lot to accept with no warning. But you remembered what you wanted from Sky. Acting correctly in this crucial moment would surely bring her closer!
  1958. > You smiled - not in greeting, but rather in expectation of Red Sky's gratitude - and leaned down.
  1959. "Don't be afraid, little guy. Friends of Sky are welcome here. And call me 'Anon', okay?"
  1960. > The stallion looked at your outstretched hand, but then Sky nudged him and whispered something too quiet and quick for you to catch. Flame Tail lifted his leg and put his hoof in your palm for you to shake.
  1961. > You felt the cold, wet mud in your palm. Then your gaze traveled down to the linoleum floor. There was already a big, brown puddle. Sky followed your look and gave a small gasp. Not to mention her hoofprints to the bathroom and back.
  1962. > "I'm sorry! We didn't mean to make such a mess-" she began apologizing quickly, but you just laid your hand against her muzzle and the pony fell silent.
  1963. > It was harder to keep the grin in place, but you succeeded.
  1964. "It's fine. We'll clean it up tomorrow. Here, wipe your feet."
  1965. > The dirty rags from your ad-hoc cleaning in the hallway were on the floor and the ponies dutifully stomped them until most of the mud was on the cloth, rather than their hooves.
  1966. > They both looked up at you for approval, so you gave a small sigh, crouched down and helped wipe their feet entirely clean. It was faster than just ordering them around, plus you had fingers - a definite plus in these matters.
  1967. "There's fresh towels in the living room and I've got hot cocoa ready. Go dry yourselves and then we'll talk, okay?"
  1968. > Sky was more than a little surprised at your kindness, but she didn't comment. As she turned to lead the way, you saw a small, hesitant smile on her lips and your heart leapt for joy.
  1969. > It was working!
  1970. >...
  1971. > The pegasus had related Flame Tail's story for you. He had been on Earth for several years. He didn't have it quite that bad, from the sound of it: the pony had been shoved into a barn somewhere. He was fed regularly and hosed down every now and then. Someone even came to clean up his stall and throw down fresh straw every few days.
  1972. > They were doing something with him - both ponies clamped up when you asked about it - but it wasn't painful, nor was it hard work.
  1973. > Finally, the pony resistance movement found out about him and busted him out a few nights ago. They tried to house him in the makeshift camp they had, but there was not enough food to go around.
  1974. > Having Flame Tail share Sky's home for a short while had been their leader's idea. Neither Sky nor Flame Tail were willing to give away the name.
  1975. > The pegasus had argued against the arrangement, but in the end had been pressured into accepting. She had guided the newcomer through the forest and then through city streets to the building.
  1976. > They shamefully admitted that they broke in at the back entrance - where you had once taken Red Sky out in secrecy. Luckily, no one had heard and they were able to climb up the stairs to knock on your door without anyone spotting them.
  1977. > The reason for their elaborate scheme was obvious - Flame Tail couldn't fly. It must have taken a lot of guts to sneak around the building like that and both ponies perked up a little in pride when you said that.
  1978. > You forewent your own cup of hot cocoa and gave it to the stallion, who obviously needed it more. But you weren't about to give up snuggles with Red Sky.
  1979. > In her gratitude at your reaction to the visitor, the mare was all too willing to accept your offer to help her get warm. You rubbed both ponies down with the towel again, just to be sure, then placed Sky in the middle of the couch with you and Flame Tail from either side. You pulled the blanket around the three of you and started the movie.
  1980. > Pretty soon, both ponies were asleep - Red Sky mostly spooned in your lap, just as you had hoped. But the stallion was using her belly as a pillow, something you envied very much. The pegasus didn't seem to mind him here, so you determinedly kept your mouth shut.
  1981. >...
  1982. > It was almost noon by the time you woke up. You couldn't remember when you had fallen asleep, but you felt refreshed and optimistic, if a little sore from the cramped space and awkward position.
  1983. > The two colorful bodies on the couch reminded you of your new problems, but it didn't ruin your mood. The important part was that Red Sky had wrapped her hooves around you as she slept and was now lying mostly on you. The stallion, who had started out nuzzling into Sky's belly was now curled up by himself, barely covered with the blanket. Both of these facts pleased you immensely.
  1984. > It was clear whom Red Sky had chosen to snuggle in her sleep.
  1985. > Unwilling to wake her up, but really needing to pee, you carefully freed your hand and scratched the mare behind her ears. They flicked and the pony jerked her head away.
  1986. "Wake up, Sky. It's morning."
  1987. > You tried to make your voice as soft and pleasant as possible and it worked. The mare blinked, focused on you, then yawned and buried her head right back against your shirt.
  1988. > "Five... minutes," she groaned quietly. But it was too late. Another yawn caught her unaware and she stretched, brushing her muzzle against your face as she extended her neck as far as it would go. She didn't seem to notice, but your breath caught and you didn't dare move.
  1989. > Unfortunately, your bladder reasserted itself.
  1990. "I have to get up, Sky."
  1991. > Whatever she muttered it sounded dejected, which made you grin happily. As carefully as you could, you slipped from underneath the pony and lowered her to the couch. She quickly snuggled down into the warm spot where you had been sitting. You pulled the blanket back over her and tussled her mane, but the mare was already back asleep.
  1992. > If only every morning could start like that!
  1993. > You noticed that Flame Tail was awake and watching you warily.
  1994. > "You snore," he said reproachfully.
  1995. > It just made you laugh and ruffle his mane too.
  1996. "Don't worry, this was temporary. I'll set up the sleeping arrangements today, buddy."
  1997. > Maybe, just maybe, you'll be able to convince Sky to give her couch to the new pony and share your bed. In a purely platonic way, of course.
  1998. > The thought made you grin in appreciation, which caused Flame Tail to smile back, if a little nervously.
  1999. "I'll just use the bathroom, then we'll see about breakfast, okay?"
  2000. > The stallion just nodded in appreciation. He shuffled himself closer to Red Sky and laid his head on her covered flank, but you didn't mind.
  2001. > You were already thinking ahead. Your budget had been stretched almost beyond limit with just the two of you. If Flame Tail stayed for any length of time, there wouldn't be enough food. You'd have to send him back to the camp, which was sure to disappoint Sky.
  2002. > For some reason, keeping Sky happy was of the utmost importance.
  2003. > You remembered a flier in the window of a local cheap restaurant. They were looking for someone to wash the dishes and wipe the floor each night after they closed.
  2004. > That would mean working from about one till four A.M., but that was okay. Red Sky was gone during that time most nights.
  2005. > It wouldn't pay much, but maybe you could get the owner to give you cash. That way you'd keep your government checks if you were careful.
  2006. > The extra money could go toward food for the three of you, plus a little extra for chocolates and icecream, which Sky enjoyed very much.
  2007. > You were amazed how the thought of getting a job didn't seem so onerous, if only because it was for Red Sky.
  2010. > ~~~~
  2012. > You almost couldn't believe how quickly it all happened. After a simple toast and butter breakfast, you left the ponies watching cartoons and walked down to the small diner. In the gray daylight and rain it looked even more miserable than you remembered. But the service was fast and the food was cheap, so it was favored by the low income wageslaves in the area.
  2013. > The thought gave you a wry grin - you'd eaten there yourself a few times.
  2014. > The owner, who worked the bar himself, was all too happy to pay you under the table, as it were. He wasn't a big fan of paperwork either, it seemed.
  2015. > You arranged for the time you'd be there and listened to the explanation of what you'd be doing. It was more or less what you expected: washing dishes, mopping floors and generally tidying up the place after the cook had gone home. It'd take you about three hours each night and pay six bucks an hour.
  2016. > It was technically below minimum wage, but the owner, Bill, pointed out that you wouldn't be paying any tax on that. It still wasn't much, but it would help.
  2017. > You shook his hand, promised you'd be there that night and left. The man was even kind enough to give you a free burger for the road.
  2018. > You didn't have meat in the apartment often Since Red Sky had moved in. That is to say, you never had it anymore. It was cheaper to cook for two, which meant vegetarian, plus you didn't like the mixture of sadness and disgust on the pony's face whenever she thought about cooking or eating animals.
  2019. > The patty was delicious and the ratio between it and bread and condiments was spot on. Decrepit outside or not, the guys made decent food.
  2020. > You finished the meal - it was a nice supplement to cereal which you had with your guests - and stopped at a convenience store to buy a bottle of Coke and a couple of chocolate bars for the ponies. You assumed Flame Tail would enjoy the treat just as much as the mare.
  2021. > Your thoughts returned to the stallion as you walked back home. He didn't seem a bad sort and whatever they had done to him in that barn just made him quiet, fearful and respectful. He reminded you a little of Sky when you first met her.
  2022. > If you absolutely had to take in a second pony you would have preferred another mare. But if it came down to kicking Flame Tail to the street or keeping him, you'd probably do the latter, albeit reluctantly.
  2023. > He seemed even younger than Red Sky and you guessed he had been barely adolescent when they had captured him. The separation from his parents and siblings was weighing heavily on him and you pitied the poor creature.
  2024. > Hopefully the resistance would find him a good home.
  2025. > You briefly considered having the stallion stay with you anyway, but the idea was unappealing. You felt he would intrude too much on your time with Red Sky. If there was no choice, maybe. Voluntarily, no.
  2026. > Thinking of the mare and her grateful smile when you had told her about your plans  made your day better. The pony almost leapt from her chair to hug you right there and then. She very nearly spilled both your bowls of cereal with her excited wing-flapping.
  2027. > You felt your pocket with its two bars of chocolate. You'd give them to your guests, then sit them down and talk about the sleeping arrangements.
  2028. > The mere thought that Sky might soon be sharing your bed each night was enough to make you grin like an idiot and walk faster.
  2029. >...
  2030. > You didn't want to interrupt 'Frozen', so you joined the pair on the couch. Their attention was so rapt on the screen that they barely noticed when you wriggled between them. Flame Tail moved aside without comment and Red Sky just flashed you a quick grin before making room.
  2031. > You ended up sandwiched between two warm, fuzzy bodies. It was more pleasant than you had imagined. After a moment, you draped your arms around both ponies and drew them even closer. Two heads, almost in sync, leaned on your shoulders.
  2032. > Perhaps keeping Flame Tail on a permanent basis wouldn't be all bad?
  2033. > The movie slowly drew to an end. When the screen faded and the credits began to roll, you heard and felt Red Sky heave a happy sigh. The stallion just kept staring.
  2034. > "That was- wow! That's incredible!" he finally said, thoroughly impressed by the technology. He looked at you, then the mare, grinning widely. "Thanks! I loved it!"
  2035. > Sky shrugged, doing her best to act nonchalant. "Yeah, it was okay," she lied. "I'll show you more later. But we should clean up the place first."
  2036. > She pointed to the muddy floor and the dirty towels next to the couch. Flame looked, then blushed a little. "Oh! Right! Yes, of course!"
  2037. > He quickly jumped down and began gathering the cloth. "The bathroom, right? There's a..." he scrunched up his muzzle in thought, "'washing machine'?"
  2038. > You remembered the chocolates.
  2039. "It can wait a few minutes. First, I got something for you."
  2040. > "Me?!" the stallion squeaked in surprise. "Y-you didn't have to, Master Anon. I'm gra-grateful to be here!"
  2041. "Both of you."
  2042. > You went back to the entrance and rummaged in the coat pocket. Sky quickly recognized the wrinkle of the wrapper and sat bolt upright. "You got us chocolates!" she exclaimed happily. Her eyes never left your hands from the moment you appeared in the room, until you laid the treats on the couch.
  2043. > She was quite adept at opening them; the pony grabbed the bar between two front hooves, bit, and tore off the plastic in one efficient movement. Within seconds she was munching.
  2044. > You saw that the smell was intriguing Flame Tail as well. A drop of drool fell from his mouth before he could catch it. "C-chocolate..." he said as his ears drooped and tears formed in his eyes. "I haven't had... chocolate since..." he tried to say, but the mere word was giving him difficulty.
  2045. > Afraid that Sky would steal his treat and eat it before he moved, you picked up the bar, unwrapped it and held it out to him. His eyes flicked from the chocolate to you and they were full of gratitude.
  2046. > He had to clear his throat before he could speak, but it still came out husky and broken. "T-thank you, Master!"
  2047. > "Anon," Red Sky corrected absentmindedly. She didn't seem to notice her friend's emotional state.
  2048. > You put your free hand in his mane and ruffled. The joy was heartwarming.
  2049. "Go on, it's all yours. Or else Sky might steal it."
  2050. > The mare just stuck a chocolate-covered tongue out at you both, then went back to her own treat. But you did notice her eying the one in your hand anyway.
  2051. > Flame Tail saw it too and quickly took a nibble. He closed his eyes and sighed, not even chewing.
  2052. "I'm not gonna hold it for you. Here."
  2053. > You pushed it toward him and the pony obediently opened his mouth. You really didn't feel like feeding him each bite individually. Luckily, his lips wrapped around the chocolate and he simply began sucking on it with every sign of enjoyment.
  2054. > Of course Sky was done long before her friend. She licked her muzzle a few times as she watched the stallion with undisguised envy.
  2055. "You got a little something there."
  2056. > You touched a finger to a spot on her nose. The pony barely looked at you before snaking out her tongue and licking it. You didn't mind that she licked your finger clean as well. She also didn't seem to care that your digit then traveled to her ear and began scratching. But she did lean against your hand a little when you hit a particularly pleasurable spot.
  2057. > At long last Flame Tail was done. It left him in a kind of trance, with his eyes closed and a blissful smile on his face.
  2058. "Okay, let's talk about where we sleep, okay?"
  2059. > The topic was unexpected, but neither pony seemed to mind. Both looked at you with interest.
  2060. "Sky, I think we should give the couch to our guest and you can share my room, okay?"
  2061. > The mare thought it over and her smile slipped. "A-actually," she began nervously, "I think the couch is big enough for-"
  2062. > She was right, you knew. But you really wanted this so you didn't let her finish.
  2063. "Yeah, maybe, but it'd be a tight squeeze. I don't want to cramp you two up like that."
  2064. > Now the stallion also voiced his thoughts. "W-we don't mind, Ma-master Anon."
  2065. > The thought of two ponies, cuddling alone on the couch all the time was deeply uncomfortable. It must have shown on your face because both of them looked down miserably.
  2066. > You sighed as you realized that pushing them on this would just drive Red Sky further from you. Maybe you could just be honest, for a change?
  2067. "Look - I'm just uncomfortable with the thought of you two sleeping together, okay?"
  2068. > Both pairs of eyes snapped up and focused on you in surprise. You saw Red Sky lean her head as she considered.
  2069. > "What- how about F-flame Tail sleeps in your bed and I here?" she offered, timidly. Both you and the stallion looked at her in shock.
  2070. > "What? why?!" the stallion asked.
  2071. > You instantly regretted the phrasing.
  2072. "What I meant to say, I would like to have Sky closer so I can keep an eye on her. No offense, Flame Tail."
  2073. > Somehow it seemed even worse. You saw that the mare understood perfectly well, but she didn't say anything in front of her friend. She looked away and you were sure she was blushing. Luckily it didn't show.
  2074. > She muttered her reply without looking at either of you. "You two are boys. I'm a girl. If you're so worried, then I should have my own bed."
  2075. > It was hard to argue. Really hard. You looked at the stallion, who was watching Sky incredulously. He turned his head and met your eyes, as if looking for an explanation. You began to understand the pegasus.
  2076. > You realized she was testing you. The mare had suggested something which she knew you wouldn't like much, but it would force you to either concede, or show your true colors to Flame Tail.
  2077. > You weren't quite ready to do that. You kinda liked the guy, after all. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad? Maybe it would show Red Sky that you had changed and could be trusted? Most importantly, it would keep Flame Tail's hooves off the mare at night.
  2078. "Okay, fine. That's workable for now. Right, Flame Tail?"
  2079. > It was a defeat, but at least not a major one. When Sky looked at you again, there was something new. Perhaps, you thought, a touch of respect. She really hadn't expected you to accept the arrangement, at least not so quickly.
  2080. > The stallion also saw it. He glanced from the mare to you and back a couple of times. He felt that there was some tension in the air, even if he couldn't yet understand it. His ears went flat and he nodded. "That's fine," he said.
  2081. > You left the ponies watching Red Sky's next choice of movie and went to waste some time on the Internet before lunch.
  2082. >...
  2083. > Soon it was half past midnight and you were already walking down the dark, empty streets to your new workplace. You had dressed quietly, so as not to wake your guests.
  2084. > As agreed, Flame Tail was in your bed and Sky was on the couch. Your plan was to crawl into bed with the - preferably sleeping - stallion after your work shift. Hopefully you'd be tired enough to nod off immediately.
  2085. > Bill, the owner, was still there. He had waited up especially for you, the man explained. He showed you to the janitor's closet with its selection of mops, brooms and other supplies and left you to it.
  2086. > He would wrap up some paperwork while you worked, he said.
  2087. > All in all, it wasn't too bad. The latex gloves really helped with the dishes and the sweeping and mopping itself was more dull than difficult.
  2088. > Perhaps the most onerous was wiping down the stainless steel counters and sinks, but eventually that, too, passed.
  2089. > You were done shortly after three A.M. and went in search of the owner.
  2090. > He inspected the kitchen quickly, proclaimed it a 'good work' and told you to come back the next day. You found yourself walking back a little sooner than you expected, but you didn't mind in the slightest. Even if you only got two hours' pay, rather than three.
  2091. > Before long, you entered a quiet apartment. You moved silently, not wishing to wake your guests. Both ponies were apparently asleep and you went to check up on Red Sky and make sure the mare was really alone.
  2092. > An ear flicked toward you, but she didn't seem to wake up. You left her there and went to the bedroom.
  2093. > It was the moment of truth. The important thing, you felt, was to remember that Flame Tail was a pony first and male second. But you still grabbed the pajamas from the floor and took them to the bathroom to change.
  2094. > Soon, you were climbing into bed. You tried to move quietly so he wouldn't wake up, but the pony moved his head and you saw streetlight reflecting in his eyes.
  2095. "Oh, you're awake. Hi."
  2096. > Without speaking, the stallion shuffled out of the way, but he kept watching. You wondered if his sight was better than a human's.
  2097. > The warm bed was pleasant, you decided. For a few moments you even thought about putting your arm around the pony, but those silent, staring eyes put you off.
  2098. "Good night!"
  2099. > You tried to make it sound as cheerful and nonchalant as you could. It helped when you remembered Flame Tail with his head on Sky's belly. Who knew what could develop between the ponies if they slept together?
  2100. > It was a risk for which you were willing to endure a lot of awkward to reduce.
  2101. > "Good night, Master Anon," the pony said, at last. He turned resolutely away from you, but he ran out of bed, so his warm back was touching your arm.
  2102. > There was nothing to be done. You shuffled around until you were lying on your side. Flame Tail didn't seem to mind that your backs were pressed together and neither did you. The warmth felt nice.
  2103. > His breathing was very loud in the silence. The work hadn't left you as tired as you'd hoped, so it took forever to fall asleep.
  2104. > But eventually you drifted off.
  2105. >...
  2106. > You had a peculiar dream.
  2107. > Green grass and gentle hills stretched as far as the eye could see. Behind you, there was the receding skyline of a big city. Somehow, you know it was where you lived. Ahead there were only fields, forests and, eventually, mountains.
  2108. > You were riding a big, black horse toward something you really wanted. You couldn't see your destination, but you knew where you were going.
  2109. > Equestria. Just behind the forests and hills the magical horse land awaited you. You urged your steed to go faster by squeezing with your knees.
  2110. > The gentle rocking became faster, but the ride was still quite smooth. The landscape blurred past and your hands on the reins tightened.
  2111. > You could see a speck of color up in the distance. It seemed to float in the air.
  2112. > "Red Sky!" the horse you were riding called out. The shock nearly caused you to fall out of the saddle. For some reason you hadn't expected your steed to talk. You laughed at your own silliness. Of course horses could talk - this was the magical land of ponies.
  2113. > The horse repeated, as if to trying to draw your attention to the distant speck. "Red Sky!" it said, more urgently.
  2114. > You looked and saw that the stallion was right. The pegasus, easily recognizable even across the distance, was speeding toward you. You felt the strong muscles under you flex as your steed wanted to gallop forward.
  2115. > It was a good idea - you'd meet up with Red Sky sooner. You were unused to the reins, so you carefully lifted them and let them fall. It wasn't quite the right gesture, but the horse understood and surged forward, almost flying over the landscape. Your felt yourself jostled with each long jump. You almost slipped and the saddle fork dug into your stomach, but you gripped with your legs and tightened your hold on the reins. You didn't mind the wild ride, if it got you to Sky sooner.
  2116. > By now the pegasus was clearly visible. You could almost see each individual feather in her wings as they beat in a steady rhythm, matching your horse's strides.
  2117. > But you felt that the stallion wouldn't be able to keep that pace for very long. Already, the steed was grunting in effort and his breathing was getting ragged. He was becoming slower and you urgently flicked the reins a few times. It worked and the horse picked up speed.
  2118. > When you looked back up, the pegasus had turned around and was flying rapidly away. Both you and the horse cried out her name in unison.
  2119. "Red Sky!"
  2120. > That was when you woke up.
  2121. > Somehow, you had ended up spooning Flame Tail. He was thrashing and bucking urgently, as if he was trying to get you off his back. But your arms were around the pony and your hands...
  2122. > Were tightly gripping his throbbing member. It was still spraying thick, sticky cum, which already covered Flame Tail's chest and the bed.
  2123. > You let go quickly, but the damage was already done. The pony was breathing deeply and shivering after his exertion.
  2124. "What the fuck?!"
  2125. > The shout apparently woke him up and the poor thing neighed in shock. He leapt up and fell over you in his hurry to get out of the bed. The process resulted in your pajamas getting smeared with his spunk.
  2126. > Flame Tail landed with a dull thud, but quickly scrambled to his hooves and ran out of the room.
  2127. > The commotion had woken up Red Sky, who stopped in the doorway when the stallion burst past her.
  2128. > "What is going on in here?" the pegasus asked, but then the smell reached her and she gasped. "What in Celestia's name were you two doing?!"
  2129. > You got out of the soiled bed and hurriedly wiped your hands on your pajama bottoms.
  2130. "Fuck! I didn't- we didn't-"
  2131. > There were no good words, but you tried anyway.
  2132. "I was dreaming. We were *both* dreaming! And I guess he had a wet dream or something!"
  2133. > The mare was backing away as you advanced. She sniffed the air, licked her lips and swallowed a lump. "I'm not- I'm not cleaning that!" she said firmly. "Don't make me clean that, Anon!"
  2134. > *That* was her first concern?!
  2135. "You don't have to. Flame Tail will clean it up, okay? Now close the door, I need to change."
  2136. > You also needed a shower, but first you had to get out of the pajamas. The wet stains were cold when they pressed against your skin. Not to mention utterly disgusting.
  2137. > The bed! You had to act quickly. Before you stripped yourself, you pulled the cover and the sheet from the bed. There was some on the pillow, too, so you pulled that off as well.
  2138. > Then you quickly removed the pillowcase. With some dismay you saw that it had leaked and there was a wet spot on the pillow itself. There were also some splotches on the mattress.
  2139. > You sighed, undressed and pulled on fresh pajamas. Then you went to look for the stallion.
  2140. > He was hiding in the bathroom and Red Sky was trying to coax him out. "Come on, Tail. It's fine, he's not mad. It was an accident, okay? We all understand that."
  2141. > She looked up at you and nodded her head toward the closed door. She wanted you to confirm her words.
  2142. > You didn't know yet how to feel about the incident, so you went along.
  2143. "That's right. I'm not angry, just come out."
  2144. > With some surprise you found that it was true. You had started out angry when you realized what was happening, but now it didn't seem so bad. Maybe because Red Sky wasn't freaking out about it?
  2145. > "I'm not coming out!" the stallion said. His voice hoarse and miserable. "You don't know what it's like!"
  2146. "What what's like?"
  2147. > He didn't answer. The pegasus knocked on the door and tried again. "Come on! We're all friends here, Tail."
  2148. > She kept her eyes on you, but the ears swiveled to track whatever Flame Tail was doing in there.
  2149. > You tried for a more practical approach.
  2150. "Look, it's okay. You just take a shower. The bed is fine, just wash the sheets and put on new ones and we'll leave this behind us, okay?"
  2151. > He had to be sure: "You're n-not mad?"
  2152. "No. It was a dream, it happens."
  2153. > You remembered your own wet dreams, not that many years ago. You knew how easy it was just to go with the pleasure. Maybe the stallion had woken up a few seconds before you shouted. Maybe he didn't want to stop. You found that you didn't really blame him.
  2154. > "Please, just go away!" he begged. "I'll c-clean it up, I promise. Just leave me alone for a minute!"
  2155. > Sky shrugged and turned away. Her hoofsteps made it obvious she was leaving. "Sure. I'll go get breakfast started," she called and waved to you urgently with a wing.
  2156. "Yeah. I'll go and find us something to watch on the TV while we eat."
  2157. > You really wanted a shower, but you didn't feel like breaking down the door to get it. You followed the pegasus to the kitchen, where she stopped and leaned her head to the side. Her ears moved and she held up a hoof, warningly.
  2158. > Then the shower started and the mare relaxed. She grinned at you and giggled as quietly as she could. "Poor guy!"
  2159. > You couldn't help it, her mirth was infectious. Now that it was over you also found the incident funny. The fact that you had been holding Flame Tail's dick and probably helped beat him off was embarrassing, so you just laughed at yourself.
  2160. > But mostly you were relieved that she wasn't making a big deal out of it.
  2161. "Well, it happens. I didn't realize he was that young."
  2162. > "Fifteen," Red Sky said. It led you to another question.
  2163. "How old are you then?"
  2164. > "Twenty-three," the pony admitted easily. She was still grinning about the incident, but she also began opening the drawers and cupboards, looking for whatever she'd need to make breakfast.
  2165. > "How did you sleep? I mean aside from- you know?" she asked in a conversational tone. "Oh, and how was work?"
  2166. > The pony seemed both proud and pleased with you for finding a job, even a low-paying one like that.
  2167. "I dunno. Just cleaning, I guess. Not too bad."
  2168. > You didn't say out loud how low you thought the pay was, but the pony seemed to understand anyway. She came forward to hug you around the knees.
  2169. > "Thank you for doing it. We're both very grateful," Sky said quietly.
  2170. > That kind of reward was worth far more than money to you. Even the trouble with Flame Tail's wet dream paled against the mare's gratitude which, in time, could grow into something even better.
  2171. > You leaned down to brush your fingers against Sky's cheek. It was a beautiful, hopeful moment of closeness. And the dopey grin which you knew you had, would help with putting Flame Tail at his ease.
  2172. > For a moment you wondered if you'd be able to get in bed with the stallion again, but the answer quickly became clear. If he got off on a dream and your hands, what would the hormone-driven, teenage pony do in bed with Red Sky?
  2173. > You could hardly bear thinking about it. No, for as long as Flame Tail lived in your flat, he'd share your room, just in case. But you'd look into getting him his own bed. Maybe some kind of foam mattress on the floor, or a doggy bed. That'd be a good investment of your first paycheck.
  2174. > Red Sky noticed that you were preoccupied with your thoughts, so she simply let go and went about preparing a breakfast. You fumbled for a chair and sat down while you waited for the stallion to finish his shower.
  2176. > ~~~~
  2178. > The day passed with you mostly keeping to yourself on the computer and your guests watching movies and cartoons. Every now and then you heard snippets of conversation, but you didn't pay them any mind. It was mostly about their home and it felt wrong to pry.
  2179. > Your interactions with the stallion were awkward and uncomfortable, but that was to be expected. For the most part, Flame Tail kept his eyes on the floor, even while Red Sky laughed and joked about the incident to try and push him past it.
  2180. > They were on their fourth movie that afternoon when you decided to take a nap. The previous night had caught up with you, despite how easy the work itself had been. The early and rude awakening hadn't helped either.
  2181. > You turned in at around eight and set your alarm for twelve thirty. True to his word, Flame Tail had changed all the sheets and, from the look of it, even thoroughly scrubbed the floor. You gratefully climbed in and quickly fell asleep.
  2182. > An indeterminate amount of time later, you were woken up by a nudge on your arm. It was dark, but you recognized the shape.
  2183. "Flame Tail?"
  2184. > He paused and you imagined him blushing heavily. "C-can you move over?" he finally asked in a whisper.
  2185. > You sidled away from the edge and held the cover up. The pony was only too grateful to curl up beside you, because it meant he could turn his face away.
  2186. > When you went to pat him encouragingly, he flinched, but quickly relaxed with a small sigh.
  2187. "Good night, Tail."
  2188. > He didn't reply, so you just mentally shrugged to yourself and tried to fall back asleep. It couldn't have been much longer till your alarm would go off and you wanted every minute of rest you could get.
  2189. > But the pony shuffled around until he was staring at you. "M-master An-anon?" he asked, timidly. It was so quiet that you almost didn't understand the words. Maybe he was half-hoping you were already asleep.
  2190. "What is it?"
  2191. > He didn't say anything for a while and you opened your mouth to ask again. But then the pony spoke, suddenly.
  2192. > "I- I'm sorry. About this morning. I d-didn't mean to, but it j-just f-felt go-good and- and I-" he stuttered to a halt. You found his withers with a hand and scratched reassuringly.
  2193. "Don't worry, I understand. I'm not mad."
  2194. > You really weren't. The guy was little more than a kid, torn from everything he had known, subjected to unknown tortures and now thrust into a strange place with a human he neither knew nor trusted. You couldn't blame him for taking what little pleasure he could find. Hell, you'd done a lot worse to Red Sky.
  2195. > But suddenly you wanted to know more about what Tail had been through.
  2196. "What did they do to you in that stall?"
  2197. > He hissed and pushed himself away, but you caught him around his neck with your hand and held him in place.
  2198. "Sssh, it's okay. That bad, was it? Did they beat you?"
  2199. > After a while, he shook his head. But his breathing was faster and you thought you felt his pulse racing under your grip.
  2200. "Torture you?"
  2201. > Another shake.
  2202. "Did they make you work? Do something humiliating or painful?"
  2203. > Again, the answer was no, but with a small gasp of surprise. The clue helped, because you were running out of ideas.
  2204. > Maybe his owner had been a pervert. But - how to ask this, especially with a pony teenager?
  2205. "Did- uh, did they do stuff to your... 'rear'?"
  2206. > Flame Tail choked and coughed before hurriedly answering: "N-no! No!" He had tensed up, which gave you the suspicion you were on the right track, though. By now you were both insanely curious and at the same time horrified of what you might uncover.
  2207. "I won't judge, if you wanna tell me."
  2208. > It took him ages to decide. In the faint light you saw his eyes move around. Several times he opened his mouth and took a breath, but didn't say anything. Until he finally spoke.
  2209. > "They used me for breeding," he said dejectedly.
  2210. > It didn't sound that bad, especially for a horny teen. But the expression, as much of it as you could see, told a different story. He was keeping something back.
  2211. "Yes?"
  2212. > It was enough to prod him to continue. "T-they brought a wooden... stand or something. With a c-cushion on it. And this..."
  2213. > He fell silent and looked away in embarrassment. "L-like a sleeve..."
  2214. > You immediately understood. You had seen videos of how they collect semen from horses. But you wondered what would make the pony horny enough to mount it.
  2215. > Maybe he sensed your question, because he glared at you and spoke quickly and urgently. "I didn't wa-wanna do it! Even when they said they'd b-beat me! B-but they brought..." the pony slowed down as he explained. He paused to sniffle in misery. "The smell. T-they put s-something under my n-nose. L-like piss, but I c-c-couldn't..."
  2216. > Flame Tail fell apart at that point. He began to weep openly and couldn't continue. You guessed it was the mixture of helplessness and embarrassment. But he didn't need to finish, you understood perfectly.
  2217. > They shoved pheromones right in his face, probably from a mare in heat. The teen couldn't control his body and he mounted the fake pussy. They got what they wanted from him and Flame Tail was probably left alone in the barn, horrified, ashamed and defeated.
  2218. > Pony noses were much more acute than human, you remembered. A combination of starvation, threats and smell would easily make him lose what little control he had.
  2219. > You felt pity for the poor thing and drew him closer, so you could put both arms around him. The stallion didn't seem to notice as he wept into your shoulder.
  2220. "It's okay. It's over now."
  2221. > Gradually, the reassurances worked and he slowed down. After a while his tears dried up and the sniffling stopped. But there was more. "T-they said I was a father," the pony said miserably. "T-they used m-my-"
  2222. > You didn't need to hear any more.
  2223. "Hush, I understand."
  2224. > "T-t-tw..." the poor creature stuttered and hiccuped, obviously determined to get it off his chest, "twelve f-foals!"
  2225. "I'm sorry."
  2226. > He wept some more and you did your best to offer comfort. Your shoulder was quite damp by the time Flame Tail cried himself out. But you felt much closer to the pony and you pitied him even more. Fifteen years old and twelve kids. That would be a right mess to clear up if they ever got home.
  2227. "Do you know what happened to them?"
  2228. > You felt him nod against your shirt. "Some were sold as soon as they w-were weaned," he muttered miserably. "Most are still too young. B-but Fierce promised they'd free them before that happened. And he'll find the ones who were sold!"
  2229. > The name was new and you guessed it was one of the resistance ponies. You hoped he could deliver on his promise. You didn't want to imagine how miserable Flame Tail would be if it didn't pan out.
  2230. "That's good. It's over now, you're safe, buddy."
  2231. > Another nod, followed by a long, relieved sigh. The pony wriggled closer against you and relaxed. You felt you'd earned his trust by listening to his tragic tale.
  2232. > You were dozing off again when Flame Tail spoke again. "M-master An-anon?"
  2233. "What is it?"
  2234. > He pulled his head away and you saw his ears go down with worry. "A-about Red Sky..." he started, but fell silent. It looked like you'd have to drag this out of him too. But your own heart began to race when you tried to imagine what the stallion would say. Maybe it would be better not to hear it?
  2235. "What about her?"
  2236. > Flame Tail swallowed nervously and you felt him stiffen. "A-about t-this morning. She's... I-" he stuttered nervously. You were becoming worried. What could be harder to say than the things he had just finished telling you? "Well, I m-mean..."
  2237. "Go on."
  2238. > You did your best to keep your voice neutral, but the pony still felt your concern. He clamped his mouth shut. But you were still expecting an answer, so he looked away and said quietly: "I r-really like her."
  2239. > It was exactly what you had feared. The youngster was falling for the pegasus, something you absolutely couldn't have. You sighed and put your hand on his cheek. His eyes focused on you, even in the dark.
  2240. "Look. Red Sky isn't for you, understand?"
  2241. > You made your voice firm, but not too harsh. It would be much better if the stallion cooperated rather than fought you. An idea occurred.
  2242. "You'll have plenty trouble with those mares and their kids as it is, don't you think? You really can't afford to do anything until that mess is resolved. And if you really like Sky, you shouldn't drag her into that."
  2243. > Flame Tail sniffled and looked ready to cry again, but he got a grip on himself and nodded.
  2244. > "I u-understand, M-master Anon," he said miserably. "It's just that she's going- that she's nice to me." He heaved a shuddering sigh. "I'll s-stay away from her, I p-promise."
  2245. > You believed his earnest words and relaxed a little.
  2246. "Good boy."
  2247. > He didn't seem to hear your praise, because the pony continued. "It's just t-that... I got twelve foals, but I've n-never even kissed a mare..." His voice broke and you were afraid he'd start weeping again. You slid your hand down his neck and barrel, trying to calm him down. You didn't answer, because you also didn't know what it was really like.
  2248. > You'd stolen a few smooches from Red Sky, but she had really hated it - you understood that now. So they probably didn't count as real kisses.
  2249. > "W-what is it l-like, Ma-master Anon?" the stallion asked hopefully.
  2250. "I honestly don't know. I haven't either."
  2251. > He looked away in embarrassment. "O-oh. I'm sorry."
  2252. > You drew him closer into your hug and became aware of the thing between you. It made you push back urgently.
  2253. "Tail! Are you- Is that your-"
  2254. > The pony whimpered and scurried away. He fell out of the bed again, but at least this time he didn't run. "I'm sorry! I'm sorry, Master A-anon! I didn't mean to!" he apologized urgently from the floor.
  2255. > You sat up and looked at the trembling stallion. He was already shrinking, but it was still impressively big. All you saw was a shadow, but imagination filled the blanks.
  2256. "It happens. Just don't... mess up the bed again, okay?"
  2257. > But Flame Tail went on apologizing. "I-it was just the hug, a-and we were talking about kissing, and, and I thought about Red Sky and she's-" he suddenly fell silent and sighed. "Sorry, M-master Anon. I won't, I promise! I c-can sleep here if you want."
  2258. > Now that the shock was over, you found yourself intrigued. Of course you'd never admit your thoughts to anyone, but they were there, small and guilty in the back of your head. You wanted to see more.
  2259. "It's fine, I'm getting up. You can have the bed. I'll have to go to work soon anyway."
  2260. > A glance at your phone confirmed it. It was just past midnight. Beside you, the stallion climbed back up, careful not to touch you.
  2261. "Get it under control by the time I'm back. If you have to- you know, just go in the bathroom, okay?"
  2262. > You turned on the lights and stood up. The pony - his fierce blush clearly visible - nodded at you and quickly hid himself under the blanket. You patted the fabric where you judged his head to be, then began getting ready.
  2263. > For some reason, undressing in the room with Flame Tail didn't seem problematic anymore. Plus, he was hiding under the bedcovers.
  2264. > You were soon ready and just flicked off the light to let the little guy sleep. On your way out, you stopped in the living room to check up on Red Sky.
  2265. > The mare was staring. "I dunno what you two are doing in there," she said carefully, "but could you keep it down? Some of us are trying to sleep."
  2266. > You laughed and after a moment she chuckled as well.
  2267. "It's fine. He told me what they did to him. I understand now."
  2268. > Her ears dropped and the mare sighed. "Yeah, it's not nice to think about. But we'll find them all and get them back home. The Princess will know what to do about- you know. Flame and the mares."
  2269. > You hoped her trust wasn't misplaced.
  2270. "Well, I'm off to work. Sleep well."
  2271. > A short mane-ruffle later you were pulling on your boots.
  2272. > Despite the problems, your spirits were high. You were earning the trust of both your guests. And with the job, however crappy the pay was, it felt like you were finally moving your life forward.
  2273. > Maybe you had even lost a bit of weight since Red Sky came into your life.
  2274. > You couldn't help feeling like it was all going to turn out alright in the end.
  2275. >...
  2276. > The work was much the same as the previous night. Except this time it wasn't Bill, the owner, who let you in. You guessed it was his wife, because the woman was too old for a daughter. She pointed you in the direction of the kitchen and told you to get to work.
  2277. > You had a bit of practice now, so the job went even faster. But just as you were finishing up, the lady came back and waved at the door to the dining area.
  2278. > "Mop the front too, will you?" she said simply.
  2279. > You shrugged inwardly and nodded at her. It would take some more time, which meant more money at the end of the week.
  2280. "No problem, ma'am."
  2281. > This part was more complicated because of all the tables and chairs, but it was just mopping. On a whim you wiped down the tables and bar, just to get some more time in.
  2282. > It was well past three by the time you'd finished. You found the woman in the office, sleeping in the chair. You quickly backed out and thought up a plan.
  2283. > First, you quietly closed the door. Then you made sure to knock loudly and wait about ten seconds to give her time to compose herself, before pushing it open again.
  2284. "Mornin'. All done, if you'd like to take a look."
  2285. > She did so, inspecting the dining area very closely before going to the kitchen and giving it a cursory glance. She was slightly less pleased than her husband.
  2286. > "I guess it'll do. But next time pull the chairs and mop under the tables as well, okay?"
  2287. "Sure thing, ma'am."
  2288. > You found that you didn't mind her criticism in the slightest. You'd be more careful next time, but you wouldn't worry yourself too much. After all, they were getting what they paid for.
  2289. > She sent you home and you mentally calculated your earnings. Two hours the previous night plus three hours today was thirty bucks. Not a fortune, but it'd help out with the groceries and bills.
  2290. >...
  2291. > The apartment was eerily quiet again, so you quickly undressed, washed and joined Flame Tail in your bed. This time he didn't fully wake up when you jostled him.
  2292. > His tongue sough out your arm and gave it a friendly, sleepy lick and the pony murmured something that sounded polite.
  2293. > You shuffled right up to him and put an arm around his barrel. Despite the imminent spring, the night was still cold and his fur was invitingly warm.
  2294. > The youngster wriggled backward into your lap and sighed contentedly. "G'night Mas-" he tried to say, but got interrupted by a yawn. "-Anon," he finished.
  2295. "Good night, Tail."
  2296. > You hoped he wouldn't get off on your touch again. You told yourself you were just checking to make sure, as you experimentally slid your hand down his chest and belly. It failed to encounter anything untoward and you relaxed.
  2297. > The thought had been slightly exciting, now that the pony wasn't crying. And, when all was said and done, holding a small, furry body against you was immensely pleasing. You could almost imagine it was Red Sky and the thought made you warm all over.
  2298. > You had to move away slightly so Tail wouldn't feel your sudden hard-on.
  2299. > It was embarrassing, uncomfortable, yet strangely exhilarating. Part of you wanted to grind against the pony, maybe even try kissing him.
  2300. > But that would be gay, you told yourself. Hugging was one thing - the apartment was rather chilly at night because the building manager skimped on heating. But anything more than cuddling would be wrong. Not to mention it'd probably freak Tail out and he'd insist on sleeping somewhere else.
  2301. > With Red Sky, most likely.
  2302. > Just to be on the safe side, you sidled away. But the pony followed, probably entirely unconsciously.
  2303. > You resigned yourself to spooning him and tried to clear your mind so you could sleep. It took ages, but eventually it happened.
  2304. >...
  2305. > "Why do you keep calling us by our second names, Master Anon?" Tail asked over the late breakfast. You had been able to sleep in after the pony had cautiously crawled out of bed. They were polite enough to wait for you before eating, too.
  2306. "What do you mean?"
  2307. > The stallion shrugged. "You call me 'Tail' and you call Red 'Sky'. That's... not right."
  2308. > It was news to you. You weren't aware of rules regarding their names.
  2309. "Oh? How am I supposed to call you then?"
  2310. > The pegasus didn't involve herself, but you saw her ears were turned toward you. She was obviously interested in what you'd say.
  2311. > "Well, we usually use full names. But close friends and family can just use the first part. Almost nopony calls anypony just by the second part of their name," Flame Tail explained.
  2312. "Huh. Okay, I'll try and remember that."
  2313. > His ears dropped when the stallion realized he might have overstepped some imagined bounds. "S-sorry, Master Anon. It's just- I didn't mean to lecture, I was just curious. Your way is fine too."
  2314. > A look at Sky's face showed her trying to suppress a laugh.
  2315. "Don't apologize, I don't mind. And thanks for telling me. Sky- I mean *Red* never mentioned it."
  2316. > Now the pegasus shrugged. "Humans are weird. I wasn't about to tell them how to call me properly while they were whipping me."
  2317. > The statement quickly dampened the mood around the table and you finished your meal in silence.
  2318. > "Listen," Red Sky went on as she was taking the dishes away. "I'll go and see the resistance tonight. I'll leave when you do, so you can close the window. And Flame Tail can let me in if I'm back before you. That okay?"
  2319. > The fact that she sought your approval made all the difference.
  2320. "Sure thing. Just be careful. No illegal stuff, remember?"
  2321. > The pegasus nodded happily. "Yeah, I know."
  2322. > Flame Tail was sitting bolt upright, eyes shining. "Can I come?!" he squeaked.
  2323. > You answered before Sky could say yes.
  2324. "No, sorry. I don't like you sneaking out if it isn't absolutely necessary. Someone could see."
  2325. > He sagged in disappointment and the pegasus went to give him a wing-hug. "Don't worry, I'll tell you everything that happens. And then we'll sneak you out when we go to save your mares. Fierce said he found somepony who's in touch with Princess Twilight, so he can get them home right after they're out. You can go too, if you want."
  2326. > It was all immensely interesting and you paid close attention to them.
  2327. > "They're not my mares," the younger pony muttered, but he cheered up anyway.
  2328. > Sky nodded slightly when she let him go. "Fine, they're not. But we'll get them out and you'll go with them. The Princesses will know what to do next."
  2329. > Flame Tail didn't seem too convinced about the last part, but there was little else he could do. "I guess I'll watch some movies while I wait," he decided.
  2330. > You remembered a news story you had read some time ago.
  2331. "Twilight, right! She co-founded some big IT firm out west, didn't she? I should have guessed she was working with the resistance, too."
  2332. > For a moment you considered what it would be like to meet the alicorn. But with all her success you imagined her a little snooty and uptight. It probably wouldn't be much fun.
  2333. > Sky remembered the article you had shown her. "Oh right! The human she's with is also called Anonymous." Before Tail could ask, the pegasus explained: "Similar name, no relation."
  2334. > Remembering an important part of their home world got both ponies excited and they began swapping stories again. You couldn't contribute, but you listened with interest.
  2335. > Both had apparently seen Twilight Sparkle at her coronation, though Flame Tail had barely been a colt and Sky, a teenager at the time, had been accompanied by her parents.
  2336. > By the sound of it, the event had been huge. And the party afterward had been legendary.
  2337. > You kept right on listening as the two started talking about their homes and families. It wasn't as exciting, but still interesting. A glimpse of an alien world, which was nevertheless achingly familiar.
  2338. > The narrative left you feeling conflicted. The sadness and longing in their voices made you wish that you could send both ponies home. But you'd grown fond of Red Sky and wanted to keep her with you.
  2339. > In the end you couldn't stand it anymore, so you excused yourself and went to try and lose yourself in the Internet. But Flame Tail and Red Sky just kept on talking the day away.
  2341. > ~~~~
  2343. > Another work shift was concluded and you were walking home with fifty-four dollars, cash. It seemed that Friday was payday for Mike. He still wanted you to come in over the weekend, but you didn't have any plans, so you didn't mind. Besides, it meant more money.
  2344. > Too late you realized that you could have pushed the owner for an extra buck an hour, since it was the weekend. But you decided not to get hung up on that. As it was, the additional income would likely save your ass, what with Flame Tail apparently eating his weight in food each day.
  2345. > You never realized that earth ponies consumed more than their pegasi brethren. You saw why the resistance ponies had wanted to offload him on you.
  2346. > Thanks to the small bundle of bills in your pocket it would no longer be such a problem. Plus, it earned you a lot of points with Red Sky. The mare was becoming downright affectionate lately.
  2347. > You wondered if she was already back as you unlocked your apartment and went in. You kept quiet, just in case so you wouldn't wake her. But the couch was empty.
  2348. > Sky had said that she would knock, so you didn't wait up. Flame Tail was already warming up your bed and after just a couple of days, snuggling down with the stallion seemed quite normal.
  2349. > He dutifully shuffled over when you sat on the edge of the bed, but quickly returned into your waiting arms. It seemed the pony was getting accustomed to the warmth and company as well.
  2350. > "Mmm- oh!" he said suddenly as a stray thought woke him up fully. "Red Sky came back, but she said she has to go on an extended mission. She said to tell you that it isn't dangers and it isn't illegal, but it will take too long, so she will spend the day at the camp."
  2351. > It was a disappointment, but on the other hand it would give you some alone time with Flame Tail. You tried to suppress the thought, but it was there: Would the stallion be up for some experimenting?
  2352. > The idea was deeply shameful, but also quite attractive. With the flat constantly occupied, you hadn't really had time for your relief in several days. The need burned.
  2353. > Merely thinking about it was causing you to harden and you awkwardly shuffled out of the way before the pony could notice. Unfortunately he followed your movement and pressed right against the important spot. Almost against your will you pushed toward him, but you managed to bite back the sigh that threatened to escape.
  2354. > "M-master Anon?" the stallion whispered. You had a feeling what he'd say, so you unclasped your arms to let the pony move away.
  2355. "Yes?"
  2356. > He didn't go immediately, but he turned his head to look at you. There was just enough light from the streetlamps below to see the shape of his head. "I f-felt that," he said. It didn't sound like an accusation and the pony still didn't move.
  2357. "Sorry, it just happened. I can't really control it. Here, lemme turn around."
  2358. > A hoof came down on your side to hold you in place. "N-no! It's fine. I don't mind!" Flame Tail said quickly. As if to prove his point, he bumped his rear back into your lap again. You heard his breath quickening and guessed that he was also enjoying the touch.
  2359. > You tried to come up with something to say, but couldn't think of anything. In the end, you settled for wordlessly sliding your hand up and down his barrel and side. The stallion laid his head back on the pillow and let out a very small, quiet groan.
  2360. > The stroking went on for a while. The tension in your underpants threatened to break the elastic. In a few moments, you knew, you'd have to go into the bathroom and relieve yourself.
  2361. > But Flame Tail spoke up before you decided to move. "Master Anon?" he said, again in a whisper.
  2362. "What is it?"
  2363. > You hand stopped when the pony shuffled until he was facing you. You wanted to feel around to see if he was also erect, but at the same time you were worried about what would happen if you found he was.
  2364. > His head was merely a shadowy outline against the window, but you still saw, or rather imagined, his expression perfectly. Especially when you noticed that his ears were laid flat against his head.
  2365. > His voice confirmed it: quiet and nervous and halting. "You'll p-probably beat me for as- asking..." he began and fell silent. Possibilities of what he'd say next raced through your mind, strangely exciting. But of course by that point your dick was doing most of the thinking.
  2366. > There was a pause as the pony waited for any response, but you were too busy trying to clear your head to give it. In the end, he ventured forward, even quieter and more nervous than before. "M-m-may I kiss y-you?"
  2367. > As if the question broke a dam in his throat, more spilled out right after it. It was a rush of babbled words. "J-just to know what it's like, I don't mean to imply that you're-"
  2368. > He bit off the ending to the sentence, but went on anyway: "It's just that you l-like me and I l-like you, so I thought you'd want to- so maybe we could learn- I just wanna know what it's like."
  2369. > When he paused to take a deep breath you tried to say 'yes', but nothing came out of your suddenly dry throat.
  2370. > "I'll probably never get to, because of the mares and the foals and all. But I would really like to feel what it's like, just once..."
  2371. > He finally wound down. The fact that you hadn't moved or said anything gave Flame Tail pause. You saw the ears slowly perk up as he waited with held breath.
  2372. "You may."
  2373. > It was a whisper, but it was there. You never knew why you said yes, but at that point, the idea was too attractive to resist. Despite him being male, Flame Tail was still a pony who liked you. And you were curious.
  2374. > He approached very cautiously, as if afraid of somehow hurting you. At first, he just brushed your lips with his, then quickly withdrew. You barely had time to register the prickle of his fur, before it was over.
  2375. > You were about to tell the pony to try again, but he did so on his own. You felt the warm breath - smelling faintly of the pony toothpaste you had bought Red. Then a firmer pressure.
  2376. > You let your mouth open, hoping Flame Tail would push his tongue forward, but there was nothing. He just kept himself still, touching lips, waiting.
  2377. > In the end it was you who went further. Trembling slightly with nervousness, you carefully licked. The surprise of it made Flame Tail pull back and give a small gasp.
  2378. > For some reason, that was incredibly hot and made you thrust your hips forward with burning desire. You also slipped a hand beneath the covers and pushed your underpants down, so you could bring flesh in direct contact with fur.
  2379. > The pony felt it and let out a tiny moan. "T-thank y-you for the k-kiss, Master An- anon," he whispered.
  2380. > But you wanted more.
  2381. "Again. Use your tongue."
  2382. > For a brief moment you saw Flame Tail smile in delight, but then he plunged his head forward again. This time there was less hesitation. He mimicked you and licked your lips, gingerly prodding forward into unfamiliar territory.
  2383. > Your grip around his barrel tightened and the stallion understood. He extended further and you felt the large, flat tongue enter your mouth.
  2384. > There was no real taste, but it was warmer than you expected. It swirled gently around, feeling the roof your mouth, then your teeth. Finally, it found your tongue, but after a merest touch it pulled away nervously.
  2385. > It was still there and you gingerly prodded with your own. It made Flame Tail exhale through his nose, then breathe in again so he could let out a low moan.
  2386. > For the longest time, you just played with each other's tongues. You didn't know when the stallion brought his hind hooves together and put them around your rod. But you liked it. After a moment you began to thrust.
  2387. > You had expected the experience to be unpleasant, but somehow the pony angled his feet so you were pushing against the softer frogs on the inside.
  2388. > It worked almost too well. With your prolonged abstinence it quickly overwhelmed what little control you had left.
  2389. > You pulled your face away so you could talk.
  2390. "Stop, I'm about to... gah!"
  2391. > When you became still, Flame Tail started moving his hooves up and down your length. When you exclaimed, the pony took one look at your face then quickly ducked beneath the covers.
  2392. > The pressure vanished and you involuntarily pushed your hips forward. You wanted the release and you snaked a hand down to finish it. But Flame Tail was faster.
  2393. > His mouth enveloped you in warmth and then his tongue wrapped around your manhood.
  2394. > Before you had a chance to react, the stallion bobbed his head a few times. It pushed you over the edge and you exploded. But unlike Red Sky, this pony didn't take his mouth away. He kept on sucking until you stopped twitching. Then you heard him swallow.
  2395. > A few licks later, you were clean, if a little damp, and Flame Tail's head came back to the pillow. There was no trace of spunk, or any smell, and you were impressed.
  2396. "Ho- how did you... know... how to do... that?"
  2397. > You had to pause and breathe after nearly every word.
  2398. > His voice was also husky and breathless. "I did it to myself... a few times."
  2399. > It reminded you that he was a guy, but after a blowjob of that quality you didn't care in the slightest. It made sense - the pony had a very flexible neck and a dick long enough to be able to suck himself off. Yet another reason for envy.
  2400. "But why swallow?"
  2401. > Now Flame looked away. "They beat me if I pleasured myself. If I swallowed the... 'evidence' they didn't know."
  2402. > It was sad and you quickly brought your arms around him. As you pulled him closer, you felt his own erection push against you. It made you think about reciprocating, but that idea had way less appeal, especially now that the desire had faded and you were left with a deep, hidden embarrassment. You quickly pulled your clothes back to where they should be.
  2403. > But you felt like you owed the pony. You took a deep breath and asked it.
  2404. "Do you want me to... Would you also like-"
  2405. > He sensed your reluctance and gave you a quick, reassuring kiss. "It's fine. Don't worry, Master Anon, I'll do it myself."
  2406. > It was a decision you thoroughly approved. Even more - the stallion climbed out of bed, clopped over to the bathroom and even had the decency to close the door before he began.
  2407. > About two minutes later, you heard the splashing of the water in the sink, then the pony came back. When he joined you under covers again, a small, satisfied sigh escaped him.
  2408. > You had to make sure.
  2409. "Not a word about this to Red Sky, okay?"
  2410. > The pony shook his head vehemently. "Of course, Master Anon! I'd never!"
  2411. "Good boy."
  2412. > He snuggled back against you and the room became still and silent once more. After a few minutes you began to wonder if anything had really happened.
  2413. > But there was the feeling of release in your nether regions which told the whole story. The whole thing had been fast and unexpected, but not unwelcome.
  2414. > There was still the feeling of shame, as if you had done something you shouldn't have. The word 'gay' haunted your thoughts for a while, before you managed to push it aside. After all, most people would take issue that you had done it with a pony, rather than focus on the specific part that it was a male pony.
  2415. > In the end, it all boiled down to Flame Tail. He had initiated everything and then he voluntarily finished you off. If the affair was wrong, it was an entirely different class of wrong than what you had been doing with Red Sky.
  2416. > The mare would never find out anyway, and with luck Flame Tail would go to Equestria soon to try and be the best father he could to his twelve kids. Did he have all of them by different mares, or had some of them been impregnated with his sperm multiple times? You couldn't recall the pony mentioning that part.
  2417. > You decided to ask in the morning.
  2418. > Anyway, the poor stallion deserved a bit of fun before he had to face *that* music.
  2419. > And it wasn't as if Red Sky and you were actually in a relationship. The mare herself had made that very clear.
  2420. > That more or less resolved the conflict in your head and you managed to fall asleep.
  2421. >...
  2422. > In the morning Flame Tail opted to stay in bed, rather than brave the early chill of the apartment. He blushed when he remembered the events of the previous day, but he still snuggled closer against your belly.
  2423. > It was nice. You really hoped Red Sky would come around to do the same one day.
  2424. > Breakfast was a little subdued without the pegasus, but when you suggested watching a movie or two the stallion quickly brightened up. He picked up the dishes and washed them while you went to set it up.
  2425. > You put Kill Bill, Vol. 1 in the player. It had been a bit too gory for Red Sky, but you wondered what Flame would think of it. You waited until he was done with cleaning up and started the movie. Immediately the pony crawled into your lap and gave your hand a friendly lick.
  2426. > Your fingers found his ears and the small, furry body practically melted under your ministrations. It didn't last long - as soon as the action started, Flame Tail sat bolt upright and stared at the screen in utter fascination.
  2427. > If he was bothered by the violence, the stallion didn't show it in the slightest. You guessed he was tougher than the pegasus, or maybe Red Sky was more squeamish than the average pony.
  2428. > You knew the movie almost by heart, but you still enjoyed it. When it was done and the final credits began to roll, Flame nuzzled you affectionately.
  2429. > "Thank you, Master Anon!" he chirped happily. "That was good! Red never showed me anything like that!"
  2430. "Well, Red Sky doesn't really like blood and violence."
  2431. > Flame chuckled with you. "It's just make-believe. I looks real, but Red said they just use tricks to fool you. None of that really happened, did it? It's just like theater, only better!"
  2432. > His grin slipped and you sensed a note of unease, so you quickly confirmed.
  2433. "No, it's just special effects. No one was really hurt. The actors probably went to have a laugh and a beer after that big fight scene."
  2434. > The stallion quickly relaxed. "That's good."
  2435. "Want to see part two?"
  2436. > That made him gasp in delight. "There's more?!"
  2437. "Well, she didn't kill Bill yet. And she still has to find her daughter."
  2438. > "That's right! Yes, yes, put it on, put it on!" Flame begged. The way he swished his tail from side to side made him look like a puppy.
  2439. "Al right, I'm going!"
  2440. > You hurried to change the disk, laughing. The little guy really was a delight to have around.
  2441. > When you turned back, you found him lying on his side with his nose in the couch cushion, inhaling deeply. His eyes were closed and his ears were flat. You also saw that his... thing was rapidly lengthening.
  2442. "Flame?"
  2443. > He didn't seem to hear at first, or maybe he was too lost in his own world of scents. Only when you repeated, louder, did the pony notice and jump up to all four hooves.
  2444. > "Oh! S-sorry, Master Anon. I was just- it's-" he stuttered, but fell silent when he couldn't find a way to explain. He sagged a little and just said: "I'm sorry."
  2445. "What is it?"
  2446. > The blush came back and the stallion refused to meet your gaze. You also couldn't help noticing that he was fully erect. "Red Sky's scent," he said simply.
  2447. "You mean she rubbed her... self right on the pillow?"
  2448. > Flame gave a single nod.
  2449. "But she puts on bedsheets every night."
  2450. > The muttered reply was harder to hear. "She must have leaked through. I'm sorry, Master Anon. I'll just go and..." he fell silent before saying it, but the pony gave a heartfelt sigh and jumped from the couch.
  2451. > He dragged his feet a little and looked at you from the corner of his eye when he thought you weren't watching. It almost seemed as if he was waiting for something.
  2452. > For a moment you wanted to tell him to stop. You were curious - after all, you had never seen the pony's physique in full daylight. Little Anon also stirred at the thought of purposefully jerking him off, or at least watching. But in broad daylight shame won out.
  2453. > You watched the pony go into the bathroom and close the door behind him. This time you heard him grunt a few times, then gasp and sigh. Shortly after, he washed himself and returned.
  2454. > The entire thing was impressively fast. You barely had time to turn the couch cushions around, hoping that the smell would be less potent on the other side. And you also made a mental note to have Red Sky wash the couch thoroughly.
  2455. > You kept your eyes on the TV as the stallion jumped back up. He didn't lean against you this time.
  2456. "R-ready for part two?"
  2457. > There was no answer. When you turned your head to look at Flame, you met his muzzle coming the other way. The kiss was as passionate as it was sudden. And before you could really react, it ended.
  2458. > "Thank you, Master," the pony said.
  2459. "What was that for?"
  2460. > "For not beating me when I... pleasure myself. And for teaching me how to kiss."
  2461. > You were baffled. Granted, you didn't know much about pony puberty, but it looked way more intense than anything humans went through, at least in your experience.
  2462. > Sometimes you wondered if Flame Tail was on some kind of drug. But you would have seen him take it, wouldn't you?
  2463. "What's up with you, Flame Tail? It can't be just hormones."
  2464. > The stallion sighed and leaned his head on your chest. "It is. Believe me, it is."
  2465. "Do all ponies go through this?"
  2466. > Now he was sad and sullen. "I don't wanna talk about it. It's just bad timing. Please, Master?"
  2467. "Don't call me 'Master'. It's just Anon, okay?"
  2468. > You felt him nod. "Thank you, Anon. The movie, please?"
  2469. > Distraction sounded like a good idea. You quickly found the remote and started Volume 2. But you still put your arm around the pony as you watched. He didn't jump up and down and exclaim like for the first movie. He still tensed when the action started and you could tell he was enjoying it.
  2470. > But it was a little subdued and you couldn't guess what exactly was bothering him. Who knew what being 'milked' and then having his sperm used to impregnate so many mares might have done to the pony, mentally?
  2471. > Was it really that surprising that he'd fall in love with the first human to show him any kindness? In light of that, his affection, even the kissing and the dick-sucking made perfect sense.
  2472. > You were undecided between worry and compassion. You were worried what else would bubble up from the stallion. You really didn't want him to ruin your chances with Red Sky. But at the same time, you were concerned about him and wanted the poor guy to get better.
  2473. > You hoped Sky would be back with good news about his mares and foals, and that the resistance would be able to send him home sooner, rather than later. What Flame Tail needed most right now, you decided, was to be reunited with his family and returned to his home environment.
  2474. > Who better than other ponies to help him get past his traumatic experiences?
  2475. > The fact that this absolved you of any real responsibility barely registered and was quickly squashed. After all, you were providing him with a home and food. You were doing your part.
  2476. > But no more kissing, and absolutely no more sexual stuff. You decided to go and buy a doggy bed for Flame Tail as soon as the movie was over.
  2477. > "Mas- Anon?" the pony asked during a quiet scene in the movie.
  2478. "Hmm?"
  2479. > He hesitated. "Could we go out for a bit? I've been cooped up in here for days..."
  2480. > It was a risk. But you came up with a brilliant idea. Flame Tail could be your girlfriend's. And she was out of town, on a business trip or something, so you were minding him for her.
  2481. > It was Saturday, so the risk of meeting one of your neighbors wasn't negligible, but you thought the explanation was solid. And it might lay some groundwork in case you ever needed to explain Flame Tail in the future.
  2482. > Plus, you remembered that the only reason you've kept Red Sky secret was the criminal guy who had been looking for her. There was no such problem with the stallion.
  2483. "I think we could do that."
  2484. > The pony perked up and smiled. "Really? You said you didn't want me to sneak around." He clamped his mouth shut before he talked you out of it.
  2485. > But unfortunately for him, it did make you think. When it came right down to it, you'd only known Flame Tail for a couple of days. You weren't absolutely sure you could trust him. And there had been some hostility and distrust when you walked around with Red Sky. Random passers-by weren't used to seeing ponies and usually reacted with fear and unease.
  2486. "We have to make the people believe you're my pet or something. You need to wear a leash, that okay?"
  2487. > You were expecting a firm 'no', but the pony just kept grinning happily as he nodded. It looked like even the humiliation of being collared like a dog didn't dampen his enthusiasm.
  2488. > "Sure, I don't mind that, Anon."
  2489. > You remembered that he had been tied up in a barn for the past few years. A walk on a leash would seem positively liberating after that.
  2490. "Good. I'll show you the park where I usually take Red Sky - only her and I usually go at night so she doesn't need the leash."
  2491. > Even the obvious injustice didn't seem to bother Tail in the slightest. He was just happy to be going somewhere, anywhere.
  2492. > You began to wish that Sky was more like her earth pony friend. Damaged or not, Flame Tail was a delight to be around.
  2494. > ~~~~
  2496. > You had been working less than a week and you already hated management. The owner of the restaurant, Mike, could have remembered to tell you that the kitchen would be working through the night from Sunday to Monday.
  2497. > Apparently, there was some big sporting event - you remembered seeing a news article online, but you haven't read it. And of course fans wanted to party after their big win. Most of the fast food joins, bars and similar would be open throughout the night. Mike's was no exception.
  2498. > Which meant they didn't need you to clean it. You could have used that information before you got out of bed and walked all the way over for nothing.
  2499. > You grumbled a little to yourself as you made your way back. But you soon gave that up as well.
  2500. > At least Red Sky was back, cheerful as ever. And Flame Tail hadn't objected when you brought a doggie bed for him. You would miss cuddling with him, but maybe it was for the best. If you removed the immediate temptation you could stay away from fooling around with the pony.
  2501. > On the up side, you realized, as you dodged yet another group of excited sportsfans, you'd get to sleep a little earlier tonight. And that meant you'd be up before noon to watch a movie with your guests. With luck, you might even get Red Sky to slump over you on the couch again. Then it wouldn't be strange if you fondled her wings a little.
  2502. > The way she purred and sighed and groaned softly when you did that made you think it was very pleasurable. Too bad she almost never let you get near. It took the distraction of a good movie and even then the mare usually pulled away from your touch.
  2503. > But things were looking up. Lately, the pony had warmed up to you significantly.
  2504. > You were waiting for the lift to pull you to your floor and thought about what movies to suggest. It had to be cute and nonviolent for Sky, while still having enough of a plot to be tense and exciting. Maybe something like the 'Neverending Story', or one of the Disney cartoons she hadn't seen yet?
  2505. > The ponies were probably already sleeping, so you made sure to be as quiet as possible when you unlocked the door.
  2506. > A noise caught you by surprised. Hooves, dancing on hardwood. Muffled grunting and groaning. Moans.
  2507. > You blood went cold and you ran inside. The light was on in the living room and the scene burned itself into your memory.
  2508. > Red Sky, hind legs spread wide and back arched in pleasure. Flame Tail on her, thrusting. So intent were they on each other that neither pony noticed you enter.
  2509. > You watched for a couple of seconds, uncomprehending, as the stallion urgently gripped the mare and pulled himself even closer.
  2510. > She let out a low, shuddering moan, which Flame Tail echoed.
  2511. > You wanted to shout out, but you didn't have any words strong enough. You stepped closer and reached out with trembling arms.
  2512. > When the shadow fell over Sky, she spotted you and squeaked in alarm. She tried to flee - you saw her look at the window and you knew she would break it and fly.
  2513. > But Flame Tail refused to let her go, giving you enough time to grab her mane in a fist. Your hand still shook, but the grip was like iron. You took hold of the stallion and pulled them apart.
  2514. > He screamed in protest and thrust hard again, desperate to finish before you could separate them. But he could not fight your strength and his member withdrew with a wet, squelching noise.
  2515. > "Nooooooo!" he wailed as his dick spurted and slapped rhythmically against his belly. There was a lot of it and it didn't seem like it would end. The stream of white splashed against Red Sky's rear and tail, which she quickly clamped down over her privates. The mare rolled her eyes as she tried to look at you in terror. She whimpered miserably.
  2516. > Even Flame Tail came out of his reverie and neighed in fear.
  2517. > "No, please, stop Master! Please don't hurt us!" cried the pegasus miserably. She struggled to free herself and you noticed her looking at the window longingly.
  2518. > Finally you found words.
  2519. "You whore!"
  2520. > The pony cowered, but you pulled her up sharply and she gasped in pain. Then you focused on the stallion. He was rapidly shrivelling, but there were still occasional spurts of fluid from his cock. He looked right back at you with eyes reduced to pinpricks in terror.
  2521. > "Sorry, Master Anon! Sorry, I'm sorry! I didn't mean to- she just said- SORRY!"
  2522. > His voice cut off in a squeak as you twisted your hand and lifted. The stallion rose up to his hind legs and danced clumsily to keep his balance.
  2523. "Shut up! SHUT THE FUCK UP!"
  2524. > You couldn't think, and you couldn't deal with both at once. Of the two, Red Sky was in more immediate danger of fleeing. You dragged both struggling ponies to the bathroom and pushed Flame Tail roughly inside.
  2525. "GET IN!"
  2526. > His eyes widened and his whole body shuddered in apprehension. "Please don't hurt me, Master! I'm sorry! Forgive me!"
  2527. > But you just kicked him inside. It took a bit of fumbling to get the key from the lock while the stallion cowered against the bathtub, then you slammed the door shut and locked it.
  2528. "Be quiet. I'll deal with you later! Ungrateful fuck!"
  2529. > The pony tried to beg some more, but you hammered your fist on the door and he devolved into wordless crying. It would do for now.
  2530. > Red Sky watched it all, trying every now and then to free herself from your grip. But you squeezed your fist as tightly as you could and now your arm was beginning to hurt.
  2531. > You had to work quickly before your strength gave out. You dragged the mare back to the living room and picked up the collar which was lying on the floor.
  2532. > When she spotted it, the pegasus went wild. "No, nononono, please not again! Please, Master, not that! PLEASE!"
  2533. > You had to pin the struggling pony to the floor with your legs so you could clasp it around her neck. While you had her there, you quickly fastened the leash, as well. That made the mare easier to control.
  2534. > As soon as you released her, Sky bucked, bolted and tried very hard to wriggle out of the collar. But there was absolutely no chance of that. You had tightened it almost to the point of choking her.
  2535. > You hauled at the leash to drag the struggling pony to the wall, where you tied her up to a thick, iron gas pipe.
  2536. > The mare yanked at it a few times, but it was hopeless. Her only chance was to pry the collar off, but you still had the little lock for that. You went to fetch it while Red Sky tried to pull free.
  2537. > You grabbed the padlock and key and were about to run back when you spotted a belt on the floor by your bed. You remembered how Red Sky had brought you it when she thought she screwed up. This time she really did. You picked it up as well.
  2538. > She spotted it immediately and tried to press herself into a smaller ball.
  2539. > "Please, Master! I'm sorry, I couldn't help it, please don't beat me! I'll never do it again, I swear!"
  2540. > It was a litany and it sounded like she had said it many times before. Maybe this was why her previous owner had kept the mare on a tight leash and beat her. Red Sky could not be trusted.
  2541. > What burned most of all was the betrayal. All the things you've done for the ungrateful bitch! You've even taken a job! And Flame Tail.
  2542. > They must have been fucking like rabbits ever since you started working. And while you were out there, earning money so they could eat, the little bastards have been laughing at you behind your back and fooling around.
  2543. > Your hands shook as you removed your sweater. You still hadn't answered the pony and she kept pleading for her worthless hide.
  2544. > "I didn't mean to do it with Flame, please believe me Anon! I couldn't control it! I'M SORRY!" she whined loudly. She hid her face behind a wing, but you saw her peeking out to gauge your reaction.
  2545. > Even now she was just as sneaky as always! Trying to play on your heartstrings!
  2546. "Shut up!"
  2547. > But she couldn't keep quiet. "Please, Anon! I'll love you, I promise I will! I'll do anything! Please, just give me another chance!"
  2548. "SHUT THE FUCK UP!"
  2549. > Finally it worked and the mare fell silent, except for her heavy breathing. You roughly yanked her wing away and she let out a gasp of surprise and pain.
  2550. > You balled up the sweater and pushed it into her open mouth. She tried to shake it loose, but you slapped her once on the rump and the pony went limp.
  2551. > Then you tied the sleeves around her head to keep it in place. The eyes swiveled madly in fear.
  2552. > Finally, she was ready. The cloth hung out of her mouth and was already getting wet from spittle and snot. You picked up the belt and her nostrils flared as her breathing quickened in fear. The wing shot back up before her face, but you didn't care about that.
  2553. > The hit landed on her rump and Sky gave a muffled yelp. She tried to flee, but you stepped on the leash and it stopped the mare in her tracks. The eyes went up to yours, already full of tears.
  2554. > You struck her again, making the pony moan through her nose.
  2555. "I tried, you bitch!"
  2556. > *SLAP*
  2557. "I gave you everything you wanted!"
  2558. > *SLAP*
  2560. > *SLAP*
  2561. > By now, Red Sky was screaming into the cloth, but her voice was muffled. She turned her ass away and tried to hide behind her wings.
  2562. "Get them out of the way or I'll break them!"
  2563. > The threat worked all too well. She yelped into the sweater and quickly presented her rump again. She was trembling and crying, but she still managed to look back at you in fear.
  2564. > It only served to enrage you further. She was checking out how much more you'd give her. She had no say in her punishment, not after what she did! It would end exactly when you wanted it!
  2565. "Don't look at me like that!"
  2566. > It came out louder than you intended, so you quickly followed it with several quick strikes in succession.
  2567. > The pony no longer yelped for each one, but her screams blended together into a constant roar of pain.
  2568. > Her legs could no longer hold her and she folded down, but it didn't matter.
  2569. "You don't-"
  2570. > *SLAP*
  2571. "fuck around-"
  2572. > *SLAP*
  2573. "in my house!"
  2574. > *SLAP*
  2575. > After the final hit landed the belt fell from your nerveless fingers. Your memory kept throwing up the image. Flame Tail, balls deep in Red Sky. And in the mental picture, both ponies were smirking at you as he creampied the mare.
  2576. > You groaned in despair and punched a wall. You weren't even aware of the pain, but the pony, who had been winding down, yelled out in terror again.
  2577. > If you punched her like that, Red Sky would be dead. You didn't want that. Despite everything, you didn't want the mare to die. But just looking at her face made you angrier by the second.
  2578. > You got out of the room before you could really hurt the pegasus. Tears blurred your vision, but you made your way to the bathroom.
  2579. > There was another culprit in the crime. Your hand shook when you unlocked and opened the door.
  2580. > The stallion was huddled behind the washing machine with hooves over his head. He still sensed your presence and tried to push himself further.
  2581. > You grabbed a hind leg and pulled him out.
  2582. > "Please, no! Please, Master Anon, please, PLEASE! I'm sorry, I'm sorry!" he mumbled as quickly as he could get it out. Your slap on the muzzle silenced him quickly enough.
  2583. "What the FUCK were you thinking?!"
  2584. > The pony sniffled, but didn't answer.
  2585. "I told you to stay away from Sky!"
  2586. > "It wasn't my fault," the pony whimpered.
  2587. "WHAT?! How wasn't it your fault?! DID YOU STICK YOUR DICK IN HER BY ACCIDENT OR SOMETHING?!"
  2588. > Flame Tail flinched at your yelling, but he answered quickly, even if his voice cracked midway through. "No! She wanted me to! I said no, please b-b-believe me, Master! I d-didn't want t-to do it!"
  2589. "THEN WHY?!"
  2590. > "R-r-red Sky is in h-heat! S-she put her- her rump in my nose an- and I couldn't think!" he babbled miserably.
  2591. > Memories flashed. The pegasus acting more and more affectionate. Her mood swings. The way Flame Tail had shoved his nose in the couch cushions. Maybe even the time he jerked himself off on your hand!
  2592. > "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to do it, Master Anon! I just couldn't control it..."
  2593. > Now he was crying pitifully.
  2594. > You suddenly heard a hammering on your front door. You realized just how loud the whole affair had been. A look in the mirror showed you quite disheveled. You quickly splashed some water on your face and wiped it off with a towel. It wasn't great, but maybe it was presentable. Maybe, if you had just gotten up...
  2595. > Your mind raced.
  2596. "Not a single world, understand? One peep out of you and I'll wring your neck when I'm back!"
  2597. > That shut the stallion up immediately. His eyes somehow went wider and he began trembling violently. He quickly nodded and you locked him back into the bathroom.
  2598. > Then you went to the front door and looked through the peephole. It almost made you groan.
  2599. > Mr. Miller from down the hall. You hadn't had much to do with the man, mostly because he was working all the time. You knew he disapproved of your lifestyle, but never enough to say anything.
  2600. > You opened the door a crack.
  2601. "Yes?"
  2602. > "What in the hell is going on in there, Anonymous? It sounds like you're beating someone, for Christ's sake!"
  2603. > In a bout of rapid bullshitting, you used the story you had already prepared for Flame Tail and added to it.
  2604. "Oh, sorry about that, Mr. Miller. My girlfriend left me her pet pony and it pissed on the carpet. I didn't realize how loud I was."
  2605. > "Pet pony?! Anonymous, you do realize this is an apartment building, do you?!"
  2606. "It's one of those colorful, smart ponies. You must have seen them on TV."
  2607. > His face immediately lit up. "Oh yeah, Rebbecca has been bugging me to get her one. I thought you couldn't buy them anymore?"
  2608. > You remembered that was his daughter's name. You kept your face neutral, but you felt relieved. It looked like you would get away with it.
  2609. "Yeah, they're more trouble than they are worth. I'll take Flame Tail back tomorrow and there shouldn't be any more problems."
  2610. > The man nodded, satisfied with your explanation. "Good. Just keep him quiet until then, alright? Some of us have to work in the morning!"
  2611. > You still forced the small smile, even if you'd rather punch the smug bastard.
  2612. "No problem. Sorry I woke you up, Mr. Miller!"
  2613. > He waved it away and left.
  2614. > You locked your door and went to the living room. Red Sky was still in the corner, whimpering into the cloth. You decided to leave it on her face, just in case. And Flame Tail had strict instructions to be quiet.
  2615. > Your ass hit the couch and you put your head in your hands. It was a fucking mess with the two ponies and suddenly you wanted nothing more to do with either.
  2616. > When you opened your eyes, you found that you were looking directly at the stain the carpet. It reignited your anger and you jumped up.
  2617. > The stallion was curled up against the bathtub when you flung the door open. He watched you with fearful eyes, but he didn't make a sound.
  2618. "You, get up! Into the living room, now!"
  2619. > He was trembling badly and his legs were barely able to carry him, but the pony obeyed. He took one look at Red Sky, with her bruised rump which she tried to hide, then he whimpered sadly.
  2620. "Quiet!"
  2621. > He flinched, cowered and looked at you in abject terror.
  2622. "The mess on the carpet, clean it up!"
  2623. > The pony looked around until he saw the wet spot, where a mixture of his seed and Red Sky's fluids was soaking into the rug.
  2624. > "Y-yes, Master!" he said quickly and rushed to the bathroom. You heard him awkwardly maneuver a plastic bucket into the tub, then fill it with water.
  2625. > About a minute later, he was back. He had found a large brush and a dirty towel and he quickly went to work.
  2626. > You didn't pay him any attention. You sat back down on the couch and tried to clear your mind.
  2627. > The fact that the ponies were fucking wouldn't have stung so much if you hadn't had such high hopes of Red Sky coming to love you.
  2628. > It had really felt that you were getting closer. In a little while you would have gotten rid of Flame Tail and could use the extra money to treat her nice. Then, slowly, she would have returned what you felt for her. You could have been happy, and you knew you would have made the pony happy as well.
  2629. > But it all went up in smoke.
  2630. > The bitch had only been nice to you so you'd give her stuff. And obviously she would give her snatch to anyone who asked, as long as it was a pony.
  2631. > You tried to hate her.
  2632. > But all you found was despair.
  2633. > You didn't even realize when Flame Tail finished and quietly crawled away. You didn't hear Red Sky weeping into the rag in her mouth.
  2634. > The thoughts whirled in an endless circle and went nowhere. Maybe it would be easier if you cried, but you couldn't do that.
  2635. > Not in front of her.
  2637. > ~~~~
  2639. > You weren't aware of falling asleep, but you must have, because it was suddenly morning. You quickly identified the noise that woke you up. Red Sky was whimpering quietly, still curled up in the corner.
  2640. > Memory came rushing back and your fists involuntarily clenched. You remembered that you hadn't really punished Flame Tail. He was just as much at fault as Red Sky, despite his excuse of 'mare in heat'.
  2641. > When you stood up, the pegasus fell silent. She watched you in obvious fear as you stretched muscles, sore by the uncomfortable night on the couch.
  2642. > You looked at the pony. Her face was a mess of dried snot and fresh tears and her rear - you didn't even want to think about it. Maybe it was a good thing that she was hiding it.
  2643. > There were bruises on her back and sides, deep purple strips where your belt had landed. They didn't show up as much against the red fur, but they were still easy to spot.
  2644. > You didn't move for a minute, so the pony gathered her courage. "M-m-master Anon? Please take it off, please," she begged pathetically and gave the collar a yank. "I really need to use the bathroom, please!"
  2645. > There was no effect. You almost didn't hear her, because you were trying to decide what to do.
  2646. > Her face said it all: the pony would make a run for it the very first moment she had a chance. None of her words could be trusted. And just like that, any chance of a relationship was gone.
  2647. > It was a bitter pill to swallow and it threatened to overwhelm you. But you swore not to cry in front of the little bitch.
  2648. > You barely registered walking forward and falling to your knees next to the cowering mare. Your hand went out, seemingly of its own volition and ran through her mane.
  2649. > Sky shrank back as far as she could against the wall and held her breath as she awaited more punishment. But when she felt how gentle you were with her, there was a glimmer of hope in those blue eyes.
  2650. > "Please, Anon. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to do it with Flame Tail. You gotta understand!" A hoof came up and tentatively touched the back of your hand. "It's the heat! I couldn't control myself- urk!"
  2651. > You grabbed a fistful of mane and the mare froze in terror. She watched your hand rise and closed her eyes as she prepared for the strike. But it didn't land.
  2652. > The pony had been beaten enough. Any more wouldn't change things. But you still needed revenge. The anger, deep and dark and hot, needed out.
  2653. "You're a filthy whore and I never should have trusted you!"
  2654. > Your voice was deceptively calm and quiet, but the words started the mare crying again. She still hadn't opened her eyes and tried to turn her face as best she could.
  2655. > She remembered your threat and despite an involuntary twitch, the pegasus didn't bring her wing up to try and protect her head.
  2656. "I should beat the living daylight out of you, but I don't want to get my hands dirty!"
  2657. > It was a bit louder and made the pony whimper in terror. But you released her and stood up.
  2658. > Red Sky didn't move, except for her chest heaving.
  2659. > You got the perfect idea. You stomped out to search for Flame Tail. The stallion could have broken your front door and escaped, you didn't doubt that. But you knew he wouldn't leave Red Sky behind.
  2660. > There was no way the ponies would be able to untie the knot in her leash, nor would they be able to remove the collar without the little key around your neck.
  2661. > But you needed another leash, at least temporarily. You intended to take Flame Tail out for a walk.
  2662. > The stallion was lying on the doggy bed, but he wasn't sleeping. His eyes met yours when you entered. He didn't say 'good morning' and neither did you. But the stallion had cleaned himself up and was a lot more presentable than Sky.
  2663. > You left him alone for a bit longer while you searched for a rope. In the end, all you had was the belt. You fetched it from the living room, making the pegasus curl up and whimper in fresh terror, and brought it into the bedroom.
  2664. > Flame Tail eyed the dreaded leather loop with obvious fear, but he didn't try and run. "I-is it my turn?" he asked, miserably.
  2665. > It was so very tempting. To just go to town on the the ungrateful little bastard. But you didn't want the stallion bruised for what you had in mind.
  2666. "Get up!"
  2667. > He quickly obeyed and resigned himself to a beating. His ears were flat down and his head hung low. He sniffled a little. "I deserve it."
  2668. "Damn right you do!"
  2669. > But you didn't strike. Instead, you looped the belt around his neck, fit it through the buckle and pulled. It worked almost like a noose and made the stallion instinctively try to pull away. You kept hold of it and the pony nearly choked himself.
  2670. "Stand still or you'll hang yourself!"
  2671. > It got through to him and Flame Tail stopped. He was breathing heavily, nostrils flaring and his eyes were wide open in terror. He probably thought you were going to strangle him right there.
  2672. > But you knew you couldn't bring yourself to do it. Not really. Instead, you yanked the makeshift leash until the pony was forced to stare up in your face.
  2673. "Listen to me very carefully. I'm gonna take you outside. You're going to behave *extremely* well, got it? Not one peep out of you. And don't even think about trying to run away."
  2674. > He would easily overpower you. Despite his small size, the earth pony was frighteningly strong. One well-placed kick and you'd probably end up in the hospital with internal injuries.
  2675. > The only factors keeping you safe were Flame Tail's fear of humans and concern for Red Sky.
  2676. "Understand?!"
  2677. > Another pull on the leash made him speak urgently. "Yes Master! Yes! I promise Master! I'll be good!"
  2678. "Run away, or blab about me and the first thing I'll do is go home and slit Red Sky's throat, got it?"
  2679. > The pony took one look at your face and whimpered in fear. The threat to the pegasus really got to him and you saw his legs begin to shake.
  2680. > "I swear, Master Anon! I'll be good! I promise, just don't hurt Red. Please!" he quickly pleaded.
  2681. "Come on!"
  2682. > As you walked the stallion past the living room, he craned his neck around the door frame to look inside. It drove the mare frantic. "No, where are you going? What are you doing! Don't take him, please, don't hurt Flame!" she yelled.
  2683. > You tugged on the leash, but the stallion stood his ground for a few moments. "It's going to be fine!" he said urgently to the mare. "We're just going for a walk."
  2684. > He didn't believe it and Red Sky didn't either. But she stopped yelling and began crying. You pulled harder and the stallion followed you out.
  2685. > Luckily, most people were at their jobs, so the building was empty. You didn't meet anyone until you were safely out on the streets.
  2686. > The pony kept his head down as he trudged along in quiet misery. He made sure to match your footsteps so he wouldn't pull on the leash.
  2687. > Now that his marefriend's life was on the line, the stallion was a model of good behavior.
  2688. > It wasn't far and you didn't say a single word to Flame Tail as you walked. You were preparing your story.
  2689. > You paused for a few seconds in front of the police station to gather your wits, then you pushed the door open and stepped inside. Flame Tail followed wordlessly.
  2690. > The cop on duty took one look, then his eyebrows rose up in surprise. He waited for you to approach the desk. The pony obediently sat down next to you.
  2691. > "May I help you, sir?" he asked. The guy was about your age, though in far better shape. His expression was one of keen interest, no doubt helped by the unusual sight.
  2692. "Yes, thank you. I work nights and when I came home this morning, I found *this*-"
  2693. > You yanked the belt up as if to show the policeman.
  2694. "He was rummaging through my kitchen. I managed to catch him, but now I dunno what to do with him."
  2695. > Hearing this, Flame Tail nearly panicked. He rose halfway to his hooves and it looked like he would try to bolt, but you gave him a kick in the barrel to remind him. It was enough and he sat down on his haunches again. But he was staring up, mouth open in horror and eyes disbelieving. He shook his head pleadingly when he saw you look down.
  2696. > The receptionist was surprised. "Oh! Well, I'm not sure. Can you wait? I need to get the detective. What was your name?"
  2697. "Anonymous. No problem."
  2698. > You made sure to smile disarmingly. The illusion had to be perfect. Just a citizen who had encountered an intruder in their home.
  2699. > When you two were alone, Flame Tail grabbed you around the legs. "No, nononono, please no, Master, PLEASE!" he begged. He had the good sense to keep it reasonably quiet. "Please don't turn me in, don't let them take me back to that place! I'll do anything. ANYTHING!"
  2700. > He sniffled and spoke again in a broken tone. "You can whip me, please Master. Punish me however you want, just not this..."
  2701. > The pony seemed to be folding into himself. He choked back a sob and was only able to speak in a whisper. "Anything but this..."
  2702. "Behave! One wrong move and Red Sky is dead, remember?"
  2703. > That just started him crying, but it was good enough. It would complete the illusion of a captive pony.
  2704. > Shortly after, the receptionist returned with an older guy in plain clothes. He approached and stared down at the miserably pony.
  2705. > "Huh, never thought I'd see one of those around here. Where did you say you live?"
  2706. > You gave the man your address. You hoped he wouldn't come check on your apartment - you'd have to hide Red Sky in the closet and somehow keep her quiet. But it looked like it was just a formality, even if the younger cop wrote the information down.
  2707. > "And he broke in? Do you know why?" the detective went on to ask.
  2708. > You had prepared this part of the story, too.
  2709. "He said something about a resistance. Apparently they break into places and steal food. I think I forgot to lock my door."
  2710. > The man was suspicious. "And out of all the apartments in the building, he went straight to yours?"
  2711. > It was time for some fine bullshitting. Your mind kicked into overdrive and you forced your face into a neutral expression.
  2712. "I dunno about that. Maybe they were watching me? I dunno how organized they are, but as far as I know, I'm the only one in my building who works at night on Sundays."
  2713. > The younger cop was diligently writing it all down. You scanned the memory for inconsistencies, but so far it looked good. The cop crouched to take a closer look at Flame Tail, who had his eyes shut and was shivering violently.
  2714. > "He looks scared shitless," the detective commented. You just shrugged and lifted the belt a little. The stallion was a prisoner, after all. "So it's true they can talk?"
  2715. "Yes. He begged me to let him go."
  2716. > "Hey, pony! What's your name?"
  2717. > You had to tug on the leash to make the stallion react. But he answered, in a very shaky voice. "F-flame T-tail, Mas-master!" Then he exhaled and went on, more quietly. "It's t-true. I b-broke in."
  2718. > The 'scared-shitless' act was perfect and you thought both policemen were eating it up.
  2719. > "Amazing," the older cop said, while his junior colleague just stared in shock. "Well, we can toss him in the cells and then I'll make some calls. I've read there's more of them out west, maybe they'll know what to do about him."
  2720. > He took the belt from you and chuckled. "Nicely improvised. Frank, go fetch some rope."
  2721. > The younger cop rushed off, but the detective looked back to you.
  2722. > "Was there any damage to the place? Do you need a police report for the insurance or something?"
  2723. > You shook your head.
  2724. "No, like I said, I neglected to lock the door. And I don't feel like doing all that paperwork over a few dollars worth of food he ate. I just want him taken care of."
  2725. > "Did you see any others? I read there's these flying ones, too."
  2726. > This time you shrugged.
  2727. "Maybe. I wasn't paying attention. But it sounded like he wasn't working alone when he begged me to let him go. Maybe they're hiding in the forest somewhere."
  2728. > The man nodded. "Thanks. We'll talk to him and check it out."
  2729. > You knew Flame Tail might crack and tell them the truth. You had to make that as unlikely as possible. You quickly hauled the belt up, making the stallion jump into the air and balance awkwardly on his hind hooves.
  2730. "You behave, you little stealing jerk! Tell them everything they want to know!"
  2731. > You turned him so that the cop couldn't see your face as you frowned fiercely. The stallion understood and he nodded.
  2732. > "Yes, Mas-master A-" he started and almost said your name. It wouldn't be too big a slip up - you had said it out loud just minutes ago, after all. But you'd still prefer him not to. A brief tug silenced it.
  2733. > "I promise! I'll behave!"
  2734. > The detective frowned at what looked like mistreatment of an animal. "There's no call for that, sir."
  2735. > You let the pony drop down.
  2736. "Sorry. I'm just pissed cause I haven't slept since yesterday."
  2737. > Luckily, you didn't have to make more small talk, because a few other cops came in, led by the junior. They all stopped to stare, but at a command from the detective they approached. One of them looked from the pony to the pair of handcuffs he was holding, then quickly put them away.
  2738. > They also had rope and they skillfully tied it around Flame Tail's neck so it wouldn't choke him. You removed your belt and the loss of the last familiar thing started the stallion crying miserably. Quite a few faces softened with concern and pity.
  2739. > "Come on, little fella. It's okay. Just come this way and we'll get you some water, okay?" one of the younger policemen said as they led him away.
  2740. > The detective had a few simple follow-up questions which you easily answered. Then you gave him your phone number and left. With luck, he would call first before dropping by, especially after you told him that you had an 'unpredictable work schedule'. But you'd still need to be ready with Red Sky.
  2741. > On your way back, you stopped at a pharmacy and bought a bottle of the strongest sleeping pills you could get without a receipt. Those would keep her quiet, if you had to entertain 'guests'.
  2742. > Once outside, you coiled up the belt, stuck it in a pocket and began walking home. You didn't know just how you felt about Flame Tail, but it was firmly out of your hands now.
  2743. > You didn't know if they would return him to his owner, or send him someplace else. He might even end up in an SPCA or something.
  2744. > The look of hurt betrayal on the stallion's face gave you pause and made your conscience twinge. But you reminded yourself that this was a punishment for Red Sky, more than Flame Tail.
  2745. > She stuck her snatch in the poor guy's face and now they would both suffer for it. Besides, wasn't the stallion extremely young?
  2746. > You wondered what the age of consent was in Equestria.
  2747. > ...
  2748. > When you returned to the flat with no Flame Tail, the pegasus went crazy.
  2749. > "What did you do to Flame?! WHAT DID YOU DO?" she wailed, nearly choking herself with the leash as she tried to reach you. "Please, Celestia, no! Where is Flame?! PLEASE TELL ME!"
  2750. > You shrugged.
  2751. "I turned him in at the police and told them that he was a part of the resistance. I guess they'll interrogate him and then hunt them down."
  2752. > The mare fell flat on her ass in shock. She stared for a while before the message fully worked its way into her head.
  2753. > "You di- didn't!" she choked out.
  2754. "Did. But you don't have to believe me."
  2755. > She believed. You saw by the expression on her face. Even though her eyes were wide open, the pony was staring inward. "Dear Celestia..." she whispered to herself, undoubtedly thinking of her friends.
  2756. > The mare should have thought about it before she went offering her pussy around.
  2757. > Then the eyes focused on you. Disbelief, anger, just like you expected.
  2758. "Hey, you brought it on yourself. I took him in, remember? You didn't have to go waving your ass in his nose."
  2759. > "Bastard," she said quietly. She was already crying silently, fat tears rolling down her cheeks and falling, unheeded, to the carpet. "I hate you!"
  2760. > The sheer amount of disgust in her voice nearly sent you reeling back. Other emotions you had prepared for, but not this. Not betrayal.
  2761. > Her heart had shattered and it nearly made you cry.
  2762. > She wasn't trying to hide her weeping anymore. She let it come openly, as if she knew what it was doing to you. But after a minute, the mare went to the corner and sat down facing the wall.
  2763. > You realized that any chance you might still have had with her was now gone.
  2764. "Well, it's done! He's gone, because *you* screwed up!"
  2765. > For some reason, you knew it was imperative to remember that it was all Red Sky's fault. You didn't think you could bear if it was yours.
  2766. > But the pony didn't want to talk anymore. She didn't even look back. "Fuck. You," she said, quietly. Then the tears really came welling up.
  2767. > Your hands were starting to shake and you hurried into the kitchen. You couldn't stand looking at the mare. You opened cupboard after cupboard until you found it.
  2768. > It was only the rum for cooking, but it would do. You quickly emptied the bottle and waited for the awful tightness in your chest to fade.
  2769. > For a moment you felt as if you might throw up, but you clenched your jaw shut and fought to keep the alcohol down.
  2770. > You leaned against the wall and slid to the floor. Just above the hammering of your heart you heard Red Sky weeping in the other room.
  2772. > ~~~~
  2774. > "Anon, please get in here NOW!" Red Sky shouted from the living room. "I know you can hear me! Please!"
  2775. > It almost didn't register anymore. The pony had been calling for the past hour and you had been doing your very best to ignore her.
  2776. > Now that it was done and there was no way to take it back, turning Flame Tail in to the police seemed like a monumentally stupid idea.
  2777. > The poor youngster hadn't done anything wrong. You couldn't really blame him for falling into the mare's trap. And furthermore, if they really tried, the authorities could undoubtedly get the pony to spill everything, even about you.
  2778. > The problems it would cause you personally weren't even the most important thing. The stallion was in prison and who knew how he would be treated to get the information out of him.
  2779. > Your conscience bothered you, which was why you couldn't face Red Sky right now. Her accusing glare and the look of absolute betrayal she gave you were too much to bear. Even if it was all her fault.
  2780. > It had been an overreaction and you were ashamed of it.
  2781. > "Please," the pony called, more weakly and then sobbed miserably. "Please, Anon. I need the bathroom, NOW."
  2782. > You didn't want the smell of piss in your carpet. The thought finally got you moving and you clambered to your feet.
  2783. > The mare looked at you fearfully, unsure whether she would get a beating or relief. But seeing your face, she relaxed a little.
  2784. > "I need to use the toilet," she repeated.
  2785. > You didn't say anything, just went to untie the leash from the pipe. It took you a while, the rough nylon material gripped really well and you had tightened the knot as hard as you could. The mare watched you warily, but didn't comment.
  2786. > At long last it was free, but you kept a firm grip on the line. Red Sky didn't need to be dragged to the bathroom, but she did stop and stare when you stepped in with her.
  2787. > "C-can I have some privacy, please?" she said.
  2788. "Sorry. Don't trust you not to do something stupid. I'm not letting go of the rope."
  2789. > She sighed and rubbed her head with a hoof. "Can you at least turn around?"
  2790. > You didn't bring up the point that she was naked all the time, nor the fact that you had seen it all. You didn't mention even that you had sex with her in the past. But you did face the wall, even while gripping the leash with both hands.
  2791. > In moments, there came the splash of urine in the toilet, followed by the all-too-identifiable larger lumps. Even now you felt your face color.
  2792. > You had noted in the past that the smell wasn't too bad and you confirmed it now. Must be the all-vegetarian diet, you guessed.
  2793. > The mare shuffled around a little to get the toilet paper in the right place, then flushed. "Done. Now what?"
  2794. "Tie you back up, I guess?"
  2795. > You saw her head fall and her ears flatten in misery. "Look, Anon. I'm sorry. But you belted me, so let's call it even. You're still a bastard for what you did to Flame Tail and I'm not gonna forgive you that. But can you just let me go? Please? So at least I have a chance to warn my friends?"
  2796. > She watched your face with its struggle of emotions. "I swear, on my life I swear we won't bother you ever again! I just fly out that window and you never see me again, okay?"
  2797. > It was tempting. Incredibly so. But you'd have to live with the guilt over Flame Tail, plus not knowing what happened to Red Sky and the resistance ponies.
  2798. > You knew what regret felt like in the night. You weren't ready to let it go just yet.
  2799. "I can't, I'm sorry."
  2800. > This further depressed the mare. "I see. You just like to see ponies suffer." She refused to look at you and focused instead on the tiles. There was a fleck of dirt, which she aimlessly pushed around with a hoof.
  2801. "No! I always wanted you to be happy, Sky!"
  2802. > She looked up with a scathing remark on her lips. But she let it die unspoken. "Yeah, you said. And here we are." The pony sighed again and her eyes watered. "So please. If you want me to have any chance at happiness, just let me go?"
  2803. > Sky leaned a hoof on your knee in supplication. "I don't wanna be a prisoner again." She became thoughtful for a moment, then said very carefully. "If you let me go, and *if* we break Flame Tail out, then just *maybe* I won't hate you forever?"
  2804. > You were sorely tempted. But you also understood that the mare would say absolutely anything to get out. You searched her face for any sign of dishonesty.
  2805. > The silence dragged on, and Sky tried to break it and move the conversation along. "Come on, Anon. Maybe, in time, I could even like you again..."
  2806. > Now you were certain she was lying. But you wanted a little more proof.
  2807. "Love me?"
  2808. > "What?"
  2809. "Could you love me?"
  2810. > The mental gymnastics she had to do were all too obvious on her face. "Well, I dunno. You *did* turn Flame in. But if he ends up safe... I dunno? Maybe?"
  2811. "Bull! Shit!"
  2812. > She flinched at the accusation and started talking really fast. "No! Anon, no, I mean it, I swear! I'm just angry right now, but we're both emotional. All I want is for my friend to be safe. I totally understand why you did it, honest!"
  2813. > Each word was another nail in the coffin for your trust. But she couldn't help digging herself deeper. "Just... just let me go and tell the resistance where he is. We'll organize something, get him out, I dunno. SOMETHING. But then I'll come back, okay? I'll return. I like it here, and I really like the movies and all. The resistance doesn't have enough food anyway, so it's better for me to stay with you."
  2814. > Sky barely paused for breath. She wasn't looking at your face, otherwise she would have realized just how angry the lies were making you. "And, and, we'll talk, okay? We'll talk this whole thing out. You can tell Flame you're sorry, and he'll apologize for... that thing. And you *know* I'm sorry, right? We can move past this, Anon, just give me a chan- EEP!"
  2815. > She never saw your hand come down and grip her mane, but it shut her up instantly. When she looked up, the pony shrank back from your expression. She began whimpering in fear.
  2816. "Lying bitch! Why am I even listening?! What happened to Flame Tail was your fault! You knew how he was - what happened to him. You just used him for your pleasure!"
  2817. > The words themselves landed on the mare like slaps. She flinched at each accusation and let out a small cry as they hit home.
  2818. "Admit it! He's underage, isn't he? You're nothing but a stinking, dirty paedophile!"
  2819. > She urgently shook her head. "No! You don't understand! It's impossible to think clearly when you're in heat! Back home we have moms and friends to help us through it, stop us from doing stupid things! I was cooped up with a stallion, I couldn't help myself!"
  2820. > This time you actually did slap her, though not very hard.
  2821. "And you never thought to tell me? I could tie you up, lock the doors. If it was that bad, we could have sent Flame Tail back to the resistance with some food, until the heat was over! Or were you worried that you might jump on me, if he wasn't around?"
  2822. > Sky didn't answer, just whimpered a little.
  2823. "Are you so grossed out by the idea? Yeah, I get it, when we first met you were scared and didn't say no. And I didn't know! I'm sorry, okay?! I'm sorry for fucking you against your fucking will! If you said something I wouldn't have, do you get that?"
  2824. > You needed a few seconds to just breathe and try to calm down a little. You didn't want to hurt the mare, even now. She said nothing, but she was shuddering wildly.
  2825. "If you just said: 'Hey, Anon, I'm going into heat, so I'll be emotional and unstable - can you please make sure I don't do something stupid?' Would that be so hard? I tried, god dammit, I TRIED!"
  2826. > Now the real thoughts were coming out, ones you had hardly been able to think before. Feelings you barely even knew you had.
  2827. "I loved you, you piece of shit! I thought if I tried hard enough, maybe you'd someday return the feeling!"
  2828. > "I can try! I wanna try! Please, give me another chance, Anon!" Sky pleaded urgently.
  2829. "Too late! I don't believe a single word out of your whore mouth!"
  2830. > But she didn't know when to shut up. "Please, Anon, I promise... I swear I'm not-"
  2831. > The slap landed right across her face. You felt tears streaming down your cheeks, mostly because the mare had somehow gotten you to reveal your innermost feelings to her. And now she was trying to play on them again.
  2832. "Shut your lying mouth!"
  2833. > You needed your hands free and you needed to get away from the pony. You saw the thick heating pipe going through your bathroom and quickly tied the leash around it.
  2834. "Here! You have the toilet, and water. Clean yourself up, just stay the fuck quiet, okay?"
  2835. > Even Sky saw how your hands were shaking. She didn't protest.
  2836. > You stepped out and slammed the door shut. For good measure you also locked it. But you left the light on.
  2837. > In the bathroom, you heard the pony start to cry quietly. You couldn't stand to listen to it, so you got dressed and left the apartment. You needed some air. But most of all, you wanted time to think and clear your mind.
  2838. > You headed to the park.
  2839. >...
  2840. > Tired, hungry and sore you finally made your way back to the police station. There was a different guy at the front desk, so you didn't try and explain why you were there. You just asked for the detective.
  2841. > He came down soon and stared at you with suspicious. "Oh, it's you," he said. "Got another pony for us?"
  2842. "No, detective. I came back to ask about Flame Tail. I've been thinking - the little guy didn't seem all bad, maybe I could give him a home."
  2843. > His stare intensified. "You're joking, right?"
  2844. > You shook your head and quickly engaged the old bullshitting cells in your brain.
  2845. "No! No sir! I just thought about this morning and I realized I might have overreacted. Besides, you seem busy and I didn't mean to cause you all this paperwork."
  2846. > That was something cops on the TV always complained about, right? Excessive paperwork.
  2847. > The guy removed his glasses so he could rub his forehead. "Of all the idiotic..." he murmured but didn't finish the thought. Louder, he said: "Look kid, they're talking aliens, you can't just keep one at home. There's people who deal with that sort of thing."
  2848. > You knew that in some states, the ponies were legally considered pets. You said as much.
  2849. > The cop wouldn't have it. "Ha! Don't tell me what they do out west. We haven't had too many of the things here, so I'm not sure *what* they are classified as."
  2850. "Can I at least see him?"
  2851. > The guy peered at you with a mixture of surprise and suspicion. "You were ready to strangle the thing a few hours ago. What changed?"
  2852. > It was only through a supreme effort of will that you kept your face straight. But you had a feeling that the detective sensed
  2853. something anyway. You needed an excuse.
  2854. "I saw a documentary. What some people do to them, it- it's not right. I don't want Flame Tail to end up like that."
  2855. > The cop bought it. He sighed and waved his arm in the air helplessly. "Sorry, kid. It's out of my hands. I put the call in to the district office and they picked him up before lunch."
  2856. > Last bits of hope crumbled. You barely managed to mumble out something polite before you got out of there. It sounded like Flame Tail was a high-priority prisoner now. There was no way for you, or even the resistance ponies, to get him out.
  2857. > You didn't want to have to tell Red Sky, but you didn't know where else to go, so you went home.
  2858. > It was afternoon and again you became aware of your hunger. You hadn't eaten anything since the previous day. You weren't sure you could keep anything down, but if you felt it this strongly, the mare was probably starving too.
  2859. > It was a reason to see her and it gave you something else to do beside think about the screw-up. But you didn't feel like preparing anything elaborate.
  2860. > You just dumped a pile of corn flakes in a bowl and poured milk over it. You didn't include a spoon.
  2861. > When you opened the door, Sky was already expecting you. She had made an effort to clean herself up, but fresh tears marred her face.
  2862. > "Where did you go?" she asked, pointedly ignoring the food in your hand. But she smelled it and her stomach growled loudly. You quickly put it on the tiles.
  2863. "Got you some food."
  2864. > She refused to even look at it and kept staring at your face. The mare was learning how to play you too quickly.
  2865. > "Where is Flame Tail?" she asked slowly and carefully. You glanced away, but it was too late. She knew you a lot better than the cop and the unspoken answer made her sigh.
  2866. > "You can't get him back?"
  2867. > This time you shook your head.
  2868. "Eat it. Please."
  2869. > Only now did the pony look down at the bowl. She hooked her leg around it and drew it closer. Her stomach voiced its approval again. But she didn't start yet.
  2870. > "Let me go?" the pony asked.
  2871. > But you couldn't leave things the way they were between you. At the very least, you needed her forgiveness before you parted ways. You shook your head again.
  2872. > Without taking her eyes off yours, Sky deliberately put her hoof on the edge of the bowl and pushed down. The dish overturned and sent milk and cereal sloshing across the floor.
  2873. > Before you could react, it soaked through your socks and made you jump back.
  2874. "Why?!"
  2875. > Sky glared for a moment, before she turned around to stare at the wall. "Don't want anything from *you*! Let me go, or I starve."
  2876. > Your hand landed on her rump and made her squeal. The next slap made it louder. You swung again, but Sky stuffed herself out of the way under the sink, trembling miserably.
  2877. "FINE! Starve for all I care!"
  2878. > You slammed the door shut, but this time you also turned off the light. The pony was already crying in there, something you couldn't stand hearing.
  2879. > Headphones and a music video provided relief from the sound of her tears, but not from the memory or your thoughts.
  2880. > It was all falling to pieces. There was no way to patch things up, not without getting Flame Tail back. Even then, it wouldn't be easy.
  2881. > Sky was a prisoner and would make a run for it the second she had a chance. You thought again about just letting her go.
  2882. > But all the mare would do when freed would be to go to her resistance friends and try to rescue Flame Tail. That would get them all caught or killed. You remembered her dog bites all too vividly.
  2883. > Despite everything, you didn't want her to die over her own stupidity. You *had* to keep her safe.
  2884. > But living with her would be a nightmare. You might have to stuff food down her throat and hold her mouth shut so she didn't spit it out again. She would fight you every step of the way.
  2885. > The best you could hope for was some form of Stockholm syndrome down the line. But by then, the pegasus would basically be a puppet.
  2886. > Somewhat to your surprise, you discovered that you didn't want that. You didn't want to destroy her.
  2887. > The bigger question, of course, was whether you could even keep Sky. She would be plotting how to escape her every waking moment.
  2888. > Was letting her go really the only way? You put your head in your hands and tried to think.
  2889. >...
  2890. > You held out as long as you could, but eventually your bladder forced you to the bathroom. The pony was quiet, so you knocked. There was no reply.
  2891. > The light revealed Sky still curled up under the sink, away from the large puddle of milk. It smelled awful and you briefly considered making the mare clean it up.
  2892. > But you were certain she'd say no, after which you'd have to beat her to get your way. Best to not even start down that road.
  2893. > You could barely reach the knot of her leash around the heating pipe and it took some effort to untie it from the distance.
  2894. > The mare looked up hopefully as you worked. Maybe she thought you were letting her go. She stood up, a little shakily and quickly followed when you tugged at the rope.
  2895. > You brought her to the living room and the pony stared longingly at the dark windows. Then she transfered her gaze to you and her ears fell down. "You're not letting me go," she said glumly. It was a flat statement and it was correct.
  2896. > The leash was tied around the pipe again and Sky retreated back to her corner. But you weren't heartless. You quickly went to grab Flame Tail's doggy bed and dropped it next to her.
  2897. > The pony took one look at it, pressed her lips together until they were a thin line, and pointedly lay down right beside it. The obstinacy and ingratitude really grated on you, but you had more pressing matters to see to.
  2898. > It was stupid, but you wore your boots to the bathroom so you didn't have to stand on the mess as you took a piss. Then you threw down an old, dirty towel to wipe your feet when you stepped out.
  2899. > The mop and bucket were still where Flame Tail had left them in the living room. You grabbed them and went to clean up the mess.
  2900. > Twenty minutes later, you were back in the living room. You thought about turning on the TV, so the mare would have something to do with her time. But you didn't feel like watching a movie. Then you considered making a couple of sandwiches, but even that didn't seem to have any appeal.
  2901. > The pony would probably smear hers all over the carpet, anyway.
  2902. > There was nothing else. You had to sit down with Red Sky and make her see. You needed to talk until you worked it out, somehow. Then, you'd let her go. It would be hard, but maybe it was for the best.
  2903. > She was facing the wall, but her ears tracked your ever moment. When you sat on the floor next to her, Sky finally turned her head to look.
  2904. "Talk to me. Please?"
  2905. > She just stared for a long while. Then she closed her eyes and heaved a sigh. "I'm pregnant."
  2906. > It nearly made you jump back from the pony in shock. All you could hear was your racing heartbeat and it was a struggle to control your breathing.
  2907. "You're *WHAT*?! HOW?"
  2908. > "Flame Tail. I was in heat and it was enough."
  2909. > It was obvious. You should have thought about it before. After all, that's what heat was *for*.
  2910. > And it changed everything. You couldn't let the pegasus go back to her resistance friends. Not like that.
  2911. > Because it had happened under your roof, with the mare in your care, somehow that made it your responsibility, at least partially. Your only chance was that she was wrong.
  2912. "Are you sure? Absolutely sure? How can you tell this soon?"
  2913. > Already there were fresh tears streaming down her face. "I just know, okay? I feel it! You wouldn't understand."
  2914. > She forcibly calmed down and gave you an imploring look. "Please let me go now?"
  2915. > You wanted to, badly. The thought of Red Sky with a bloated belly scared you. Just could just untie the pegasus, open the window and it wouldn't be your problem anymore.
  2916. > Could you live with yourself after? You wouldn't know what happened to Red Sky, but you would imagine the worst.
  2917. > It was all too much. Too much drama, too much anger and regret. Too much emotion. You couldn't even think properly anymore!
  2918. > You reached out your hand to try and touch Sky's face, but she pulled away.
  2919. "I'll get you something to eat."
  2920. > "I don't want it!" She was lying, but her stubborn determination to make herself a martyr would make her starve herself.
  2921. "You have to! Sky! You have to eat something! For the- for-"
  2922. > You couldn't even finish the sentence, so you just pointed at her midriff.
  2923. > The pegasus hugged herself around the belly. "I won't! I'll starve, and then I'll lose the baby and IT WILL BE YOUR FAULT!"
  2924. > Her shout was like a gunshot and you both stared at each other in shocked silence after it. Then, slowly, the pony let out a shuddering breath and turned away. She was crying again, however hard she tried to hide it.
  2925. > But you'd had enough. You didn't want to argue anymore, so you just got up and went into the kitchen. A quick rummage through the fridge netted a bottle of fruit yogurt. It was basically a liquid, with small pieces of fruit. More importantly, it tasted good and would be easy to administer.
  2926. > You took it to the pony and held it out to her.
  2927. "Will you drink it by yourself?"
  2928. > She firmly shook her head. The mare was ready for you trying to grab her, but she couldn't run. You yanked her back with the leash and got your arm around her barrel.
  2929. > She flailed, but her legs were pointing the wrong way and all she could do was deliver a few feeble wing-slaps. She started screaming and you quickly dropped the bottle and clamped her mouth shut with your hand.
  2930. > You were mindful of her hooves and held the mare facing away from you. She wasn't too heavy, so you easily lifted her and sat with your back against the wall. That freed your legs and you could cross them over her hind hooves, essentially pinning them down.
  2931. > Sky's struggling weakened and she was breathing heavily through her nose. You hadn't even realized just how exhausted she was.
  2932. "Stay quiet or I'll belt you good. That won't hurt your baby, just you!"
  2933. > She urgently nodded and you took your hand away. The pony sniffled, but she didn't yell anymore, at least.
  2934. > You picked up the bottle while holding Sky with one hand. She wasn't struggling, but you had a feeling she was waiting for an opening. It took some maneuvering, but you managed to keep your elbows on her barrel as you unscrewed the cap. Then you brought the yogurt to her nose.
  2935. > The aroma made her stomach growl again, but the mare firmly turned her muzzle away. You just sighed in exasperation and thought up the next step.
  2936. > You kept your arm with the bottle around her and used your other hand to hold her head. She tried to wriggle free again, but there was no more strength in her. In the end, you just shoved your fingers into her mouth and pried it open. The mare panted, but her eyes were closed and she stopped resisting again.
  2937. > Then you carefully brought up the bottle and tipped it on her tongue. Sky did her best to spit it out, but you tilted her head backward and poured some more.
  2938. > She couldn't fight it for long and had to swallow, or she'd choke. Encouraged, you kept at it, giving her little by little until the bottle was empty. Only then did you take your hand out of her mouth and allowed her to snap it shut.
  2939. > Then the pegasus began to weep miserably. "I hate you!" she wailed.
  2940. "If you don't eat on your own, I'll do this every time."
  2941. > She didn't answer, but her sobbing increased. She no longer tried to wriggle free, so you just held her in place and let her cry herself out.
  2942. "I'm sorry. About Flame Tail. I wish I could bring him back."
  2943. > The pony didn't answer.
  2944. "Please believe me. It was a mistake and I'm sorry."
  2945. > She choked back a sob, but couldn't keep the tears pent up inside. Soon, you felt them drip on your arms.
  2946. "I don't want to lose you too, Sky. Not to something stupid like getting shot while breaking into a warehouse!"
  2947. > You didn't really expect the mare to say anything, not with her rough treatment. But after a few minutes of silence, she raised her voice. "I'm just a slave, after all."
  2948. "No!"
  2949. > Sky barked a laugh and prodded the leash with a free hoof.
  2950. "This is just because you're being stupid and unreasonable!"
  2951. > "SO?! If what you say is true and I'm not your prisoner, WHAT BUSINESS IS IT OF YOURS WHAT I DO WITH MYSELF?!"
  2952. > When she yelled it out, the pony struggled to get out of your grasp, but you still held her firmly. Your arms around her barrel tightened and you buried your face in her mane.
  2953. "Because I care about you."
  2954. > She didn't have an answer for that, but you could almost see her furious glare. The fact that she couldn't come up with a snide remark only served to enrage her further. But maybe, you hoped, not all of it was directed at you.
  2955. "If I let you go, will you stop acting like a five-year-old? No more tantrums?"
  2956. > The mare heaved a sigh. "Fine!"
  2957. > You unclasped her arms and legs. You felt the pony tense up. All she wanted to do was leap out of your grasp and get as far away as she could. But she wasn't about to show more weakness. Sky lifted herself very slowly and deliberately, then moved aside. You patted the doggy bed.
  2958. > She rolled her eyes, but got on there and sat on her haunches. "Happy now? Will you at least leave me alone?"
  2959. > Her stomach gurgled, no doubt woken up by the small taste you had forced down her throat.
  2960. "Will you eat a sandwich?"
  2961. > Sky's face darkened and it looked like she would say something nasty. But then her hoof went to her belly and she sighed. "Fine, if it will get you off my back!"
  2962. > You didn't go to prepare it immediately. You reached out experimentally, and this time the pony didn't pull her head away. You kept the pat brief.
  2963. "I'll figure something out. *We* will figure something out, okay?"
  2964. > She just looked at you, but you took the resigned glare as a sign of progress. She had asked to be left alone, but you intended to sit by her the whole night, if you had to - until you came up with a solution. There had to be a way to make sure Red Sky and her child would be safe!
  2966. > ~~~~~
  2968. > You woke up in your bed in the morning. The sun was quite high up and you stared at it in wonder. You barely remembered walking to your room after the pegasus had fallen asleep.
  2969. > She had seemed peaceful and content, so you didn't see any need to sit next to her the whole night. Hopefully, she had been as exhausted as you and was still dreaming.
  2970. > You hadn't wanted to leave the pony alone at that crucial moment, but you couldn't stay awake. In the end you had admitted defeat and went to your bed.
  2971. > It turned out for the best. With a clear mind, a fresh idea occurred almost immediately. You jumped from the bed and went to your computer.
  2972. > In a matter of minutes you found several webpages of pony rights groups. Only one of them was partially funded by Twilight Sparkle's company.
  2973. > You remembered a video about it. The unicorn and some 'Mr. Anonymous' started an IT business together. It was the most absurd thing you've ever heard, but apparently they were doing well. It figured that 'Twiggles' would have a good brain for computers.
  2974. > This particular pony activist group seemed closely associated with both them and their company. You noted down the contact details, then called the number.
  2975. > You immediately knew that a pony had answered the phone, even if she introduced herself as 'Cindy'. There was no mistaking the cheerful, singsong voice.
  2976. > She listened in silence to your abridged explanation of what happened to Flame Tail. You asked if they could help.
  2977. > "I can't promise anything, but we'll look into it. Can you tell me where this happened? So we know where to start looking. Also, when was this?"
  2978. > You told her the name of the city and yesterday's date. She wrote it down, mumbling the address back to you with muffled words. Then you heard the pen clatter against the desk and her voice was clear once again. Now you were absolutely convinced she was a pony. Very few humans wrote with their mouths.
  2979. > "Thank you for telling us, Mr-?" she began, waiting for your name.
  2980. "Smith."
  2981. > You didn't want her to know your real name and that was the first that sprang to mind. The pony on the other end of the line didn't spot the omission. "Nice to meet you, Mr. Smith! Anyway, we'll see if we can find out what happened to Flame Tail."
  2982. "Could you let me know? I feel kinda bad for turning him in. I'd like to know if he is safe."
  2983. > "Well," the so-called 'Cindy' hesitated. "It's not our usual policy..." You waited, quite sure that she would talk herself into it. "Maybe we can make an exception in this case. I'll write down your number."
  2984. > You recited the digits and listened to her repeating them around the pen in her mouth. Again, it fell down and 'Cindy' was back to her crisp, cheerful self. "Anything else, Mr. Smith?" she asked politely.
  2985. > You didn't know how to bring it up. It would be tricky to reconcile Red Sky with what happened to Flame Tail. You didn't want to make the story any more elaborate than it already was.
  2986. > But you almost blurted it out anyway and only changed your mind at the last second.
  2987. "No, that's all. Thank you!"
  2988. > You hung up and stared at the address on the screen. Then you experimentally copied it into Google Maps. It was six hundred miles. Fifteen hours by train or bus.
  2989. > It would consume all your money either way. And it was more than two weeks until the next check came. Maybe you could work some more to get by, but you needed to make sure you'd still have the job when you returned.
  2990. > There was no point in thinking about the downsides. Somehow you knew that you had already decided you would do it.
  2991. > You would take Red Sky to the pony society and hand her over to people far more qualified than you to care for her.
  2992. > There were a few easy steps in your plan, plus some hard ones, so you started at the top.
  2993. > First, you called the 'boss' and said your cousin was getting married across the country. He seemed fine with you not showing up for a few days. So that was settled. He also wasn't too upset about you missing out for the past couple of days. After all, it wasn't like you had a contract or something.
  2994. > Then you called the numbers from Google Maps and asked about ticket prices. Night travel was cheaper, but bus and train were about the same, so you opted for train. It would be a bit more comfortable. You checked you wallet and did your best to remember how much was left in the bank account. It would do, you'd even have some left over.
  2995. > You called the railroad ticket office again and asked about bringing Red Sky. That part caused somewhat of a commotion, and in the end you had to speak to a manager. You would have to pay for Sky's ticket as if she were a pet, but they would let you keep her with you in the cabin.
  2996. > It was all going too smoothly. You kept hoping some snag would appear, some reason why you couldn't do it. You didn't want to travel and, least of all, you didn't want to say goodbye to Red Sky.
  2997. > But she wouldn't be happy as your prisoner and she would undoubtedly rejoin her resistance friends the moment she was free. Maybe, if you left her in the care of other, less foolhardy ponies, she would drop that. If they could get her home, back to her friends and parents, that would be even better.
  2998. > It would leave you alone. It would suck, but less than the alternatives. And it wouldn't make you feel like a scumbag.
  2999. > You took five minutes to gather your wits, then went to see the pegasus.
  3000. > She was awake and staring hard at you from the doggy bed. "You were talking about ponies on your phone. What now?"
  3001. > There was no softening this, so you went for broke.
  3002. "I talked with a pony protection group out in the west. The one where Twilight Sparkle helps out. They'll try and find Flame Tail and get him home."
  3003. > The mare relaxed a little. "That's good. I hope they do." She stopped and peered at your face again. "There's more, isn't there?"
  3004. "Yeah. I'll get us train tickets and I'll take you there, too. We leave tonight."
  3005. > The pony jumped up in surprise. "No! NO! I won't go with you! I got friends who depend on me here!"
  3006. > You recognized a knee-jerk reaction when you saw one. You went to the pegasus and sat on the floor in front of her.
  3007. "If you told these 'friends' of yours about the- about your condition, don't you think they'd want you to be safe?"
  3008. > The mare didn't answer, which told you everything you needed.
  3009. "They would. And the webpage says Twilight Sparkle can send you home. You don't wanna have your child on Earth, do you? Hiding out in some forest, covered in mud, hungry and freezing. Do you?"
  3010. > She shook her head reluctantly, but there was no more fight in Red Sky. She had to concede your point. She had to think of herself now. "I don't want to abandon my friends," she mumbled quietly.
  3011. "Well, it's not just about you anymore, is it? I'm taking you there even if I have to drag you on the leash. And I'll tell them to tie you up if they must. You don't get a choice."
  3012. > Sky knew that you meant it. "C-can I at least go and say goodbye? Tell them why I'm leaving?"
  3013. "No. You know I can't trust you like that anymore. Sorry."
  3014. > She heaved a long sigh. It seemed the mare was resigned to her fate, however unhappy it made her. You wanted to cheer her up and your memory threw up something half-remembered.
  3015. "Wait, didn't you or Flame Tail say something about your leader being in touch with Twilight Sparkle? If that's true, she can tell him what happened to you. I'm sure he'd understand."
  3016. > Sky looked up and the hope in her eyes struck to the heart. "I guess that's true," she said. "I just wish I could..."
  3017. "You can't. It sucks, but I won't believe any promise about you coming back. Now, we gotta pack some food. We'll be on the train the whole night and most of tomorrow. I'll go to the store and get us some supplies, but we can't spare much money."
  3018. > The pegasus didn't answer. She didn't seem to care about these mundane details.
  3019. "Anything you wanna bring?"
  3020. > She just shook her head.
  3021. "Okay, I'll put you in the bathroom, so you can use the toilet and wash while I'm out."
  3022. > The mare didn't complain, just plodded listlessly after you. Soon she was tied up again, but this time you left the door open and the light on.
  3023. >...
  3024. > The backpack wasn't too heavy. You only packed one change of clothes, an extra pair of socks and food. Two big cheese and veggie sandwiches for each of you, and some fruit. The rest of the money went to the tickets, which you carefully put in your coat pocket.
  3025. > Red Sky waited for it all on the living room couch. You didn't even trust her enough to untie her in the apartment so she could help. She might break a window and fly away.
  3026. > All that was left to do was spend a day with the miserable pony. The train would leave at six, which gave you a little over five hours.
  3027. > For lunch you just boiled some pasta and poured sauce from a can. It wasn't fancy, but it did well enough. You were nearly too nervous to eat, but you made yourself clean the plate anyway. Luckily, the mare didn't need extra persuading.
  3028. > "Anon, why are you doing this?" she asked when she was done.
  3029. "Doing what?"
  3030. > You knew what she was asking, but you still wanted the pony to say it out loud.
  3031. > "This- train and taking me there and all this-" she tugged at her leash. "Why do you care if I go back to the resistance or not?"
  3032. "I just care. About you."
  3033. > "Yeah, but..." Sky started, but didn't know what she wanted to say. She glanced at you, but when she saw you looking back the mare quickly turned her face away. "I don't know. Why are you so scared what'll happen to me if I help my friends?"
  3034. > You almost couldn't believe her. She had conveniently forgotten.
  3035. "Well, there was that *one* time you came back after a dog bit your ass off..."
  3036. > The pegasus groaned. "Just let it bucking go already! You got me hooked on painkillers. Of the two, the pills were worse, you know?"
  3037. "Are you serious?! You *begged* for the pills because your wounds hurt so much. And I only gave you too much because you whined so loudly!"
  3038. > Now she was on the verge of tears and shaking her head in denial. "NO! No, no! No! I only wanted the pills because you overdosed me and I got addicted! If you didn't give me so many, I wouldn't have kept begging for them! I wouldn't have whored myself out for them!"
  3039. > You didn't want to have another row with the pony, not in what was probably your last couple of days together.
  3040. "Look, it doesn't matter! We both fucked up, and we're both messed up. I already apologized, but here, let me do it again: I'm sorry!"
  3041. > But the mare wasn't quite ready to drop the subject yet. "Messed up, yeah! Speak for yourself! At least I didn't stand outside the bathroom pleasuring myself when you took a shower!"
  3042. > Your face burned instantly.
  3043. "Y-you heard t-that?!"
  3044. > Sky rolled her eyes and sighed in exasperation. "You were grunting like a stuck pig! It was all I could do to just focus on the shower."
  3045. "Why didn't you say anything?"
  3046. > She paused and stared at you. "Are you for real? What was I supposed to say? 'Hey, Anon! Would you mind not *clopping* out there? It's distracting me!'" She snorted in derision.
  3047. > Sky wasn't on the verge of tears anymore, but her righteous indignation wasn't much better. These weren't the kind of memories you wanted of the pegasus. You raised up your hands.
  3048. "Okay, okay! I'm sorry. Anything else? Let's just watch a movie or something. The train leaves at six, so we need to be out the door at five-fifteen."
  3049. > The pony deflated a little and settled back down. "Fine," she said. "Put it on."
  3050. >...
  3051. > You drew some strange looks as you led the leashed pegasus through the train station. There weren't many people, but they still stared at the unusual sight. Both you and the mare did your best to ignore them.
  3052. > The train was old and decrepit, but it would get the job done. It wasn't too clean, but you weren't very fussy. Since there weren't so many passengers, you had a choice of booths and picked one that looked the least filthy.
  3053. > Red Sky wasn't impressed. "Ugh. I don't wanna sit on *that*, Anon. Please, can't I just fly above the train?"
  3054. "Six hundred miles, remember? Plus, I don't trust you."
  3055. > She made a face and stuck out her tongue at you. It was endearing and made you smile a little. Now that you were going, both you and the pegasus had caught the travelling bug. Despite the poor condition of the train car, you could almost imagine you were setting off on an adventure.
  3056. > You didn't relish the thought of gripping the leash for the next fifteen hours, so you just tied it around a likely looking pole under the small table. It was bolted to the floor, so it was probably secure. Then you took the seat opposite the pony.
  3057. > It was just in time; the train began to move with a lurch.
  3058. > "So," she said at length, "you're really doing this?"
  3059. "Yeah. And so are you."
  3060. > The knowledge that you would part ways with Red Sky hit you again and you sighed sadly.
  3061. "I'll miss you, you know? Despite everything, I liked having you around."
  3062. > The pegasus didn't say anything, but her ears dropped down and she looked out the window. "Yeah. I wish things turned out differently."
  3063. > Was there still a way to solve this? You thought furiously. The pony society didn't know you were bringing Red Sky. You could simply get off at the next stop and catch the next train back.
  3064. > But then you remembered the ecstasy on Red Sky's face while Flame Tail was plowing her. You knew you'd see that every time you thought about being with the pegasus.
  3065. > She would never be happy cooped up - eventually, you'd have to let her fly. She would insist on helping her fugitive friends and each time she left you'd worry some other pony was enjoying her marehood.
  3066. > Not to mention her pregnancy. You didn't have the faintest idea of what to expect. But you had a gut feeling it would be messy. And caring for a baby would be a whole lot of work. No way to keep it hidden in the apartment building, either.
  3067. > No, it was time to man up and let Red Sky go. But you'd leave her in the care of other ponies, who weren't crazy extremists. If the leaders of the pony society - in particular Twilight Sparkle - decided they were okay with sending a pregnant mare to the front, then you couldn't argue with that.
  3068. > But at least it wouldn't be on your conscience.
  3069. > "What?!" the pony asked and interrupted your thoughts. "You're looking at me funny."
  3070. > You told her a part of the truth:
  3071. "Just thinking I'm gonna miss you."
  3072. > Sky didn't have an answer for that. She looked out the window at the city blocks gently sliding past. The train hadn't sped up yet, because there were speed limits in populated areas, you remembered.
  3073. > For a distraction you rummaged in the knapsack and brought out a couple of bananas. You held one out to the mare.
  3074. "Dinner? We can have sandwiches for breakfast and lunch tomorrow. We have a layover at five in the morning anyway and we'll need to wait an hour for the next train."
  3075. > She took the fruit and absentmindedly peeled it. You had seen Sky do that before, but you still watched with interest. It was endearing, the way she gripped it carefully between her hooves and pulled the skin away with her teeth.
  3076. > It proved too much to bear.
  3077. "Look, I'm sorry I belted you. After... you know? But you still should have told me. I understand urges."
  3078. > The pegasus didn't answer, but she colored a little. You put two and two together.
  3079. "You love him, don't you? Flame Tail?"
  3080. > Now the pony sighed and closed her eyes. "It just happened! We were together a lot, watching movies and talking about home. I couldn't help it, especially with the heat coming on."
  3081. > You tried to get angry again - it would make giving Red Sky away much easier. But there was nothing left.
  3082. > When you failed to answer, the mare went on. "I know you wanted us- you and me, to end up... you know. But I don't think it was ever going to happen."
  3083. > That one cut deep enough to smart.
  3084. "Why not?"
  3085. > Sky stared as if she couldn't believe you. "Why not? You don't get it, still? You were something like my owner!" She heaved another sigh and put her face in her hooves. "Dammit, Anon, I swear you're too thick sometimes!"
  3086. > She thought intently for a short while, probably looking for the best way to explain. "Look, I was a bit on edge when I ran away from that abusive owner. Plus, I met the resistance in the woods and had that whole thing dumped on me at the same time. I wasn't thinking straight. All I needed from you was a place to sleep for a few days."
  3087. > You had guessed that much, so you nodded.
  3088. > "I just thought you wanted me to pay for it with sex. And no, that didn't seem strange to me, it was what that *jerk* always wanted, too! By the time I realized I could say no, I was in too deep. I knew the resistance couldn't house me and keep me fed, but they still needed my help. You were nice to me, but it was still your place and money. I couldn't just come up one day and go like 'Anon, I don't want you rutting me anymore. How about you stop?'"
  3089. "Why not? You could have said that any time and I would've listened!"
  3090. > The pony looked at your hands, which were clenched together in the middle of the table. She reached over and put her hooves on top, as if comforting you.
  3091. > "Yeah, I know that now! But then I didn't know you well enough. I still kinda thought of you as my owner. A slaver! I didn't know if you were going to start beating me if I screwed up. And then the dog thing happened, and you took care of me when I was getting off the meds..."
  3092. > Sky took a deep breath and looked you right in the eye. "I think I only understood what you wanted after that. But then there was suddenly Flame Tail and... well, you know how it went."
  3093. > It had been so close, you realized. Had you not taken advantage of Sky's impaired judgement at the start, you could have earned her respect a lot sooner.
  3094. "I thought you wanted it. You offered! You even moaned in pleasure that first time!"
  3095. > The mare grimaced and pulled her leg away. "I cried out in pain 'cause you went in dry, you idiot! You didn't give me time to prepare! I didn't enjoy that *a single bit*!"
  3096. > You didn't have an answer to that. But Sky had more to say.
  3097. > "Anon, let me give you an advice about mares. Probably about human girls, too. Read between the bucking lines, okay? Don't take things literally just because you want to! My mouth was saying 'yes', but everything else about me was saying 'no'! I know that because the previous jerk used to beat me for it! He wanted me to pretend I like it!"
  3098. > She barked a laugh. "Heh! I expected you to slap or belt me for all the cringing and silent begging not to do it I did! But I thought you just didn't care how I acted, as long as you got what you wanted!"
  3099. > You shuddered at the thought. That guy was a serious piece of work. Your only consolation was that you'd done it out of ignorance, so you were at least slightly better than him.
  3100. > The pegasus guessed what you were thinking and her hoof quickly went back to your hands. "You weren't as bad as him, don't worry. And once we had that row and you finally understood I didn't want it, it was kinda okay. I wouldn't have minded if things stayed that way."
  3101. > You shouldn't have let the sliver of hope wake up. But now you couldn't help it.
  3102. "We can still-"
  3103. > She interrupted you: "No we can't. You won't trust me enough to let me go, and I'd just make a run for it first chance I got. You gave Flame Tail to the police and told them about the resistance! I'm not gonna forgive that!"
  3104. > Befuddlement was the closest word you could use for how you felt at that moment.
  3105. "But we're talking like this! We're both reasonable. It doesn't have to end this way!"
  3106. > Sky shook her head sadly. "You're still not listening. Mares are complicated, okay? Yes, I'm talking to you, but I still don't wanna spend a minute longer around you than I have to. Please understand? I don't really have much of a choice, do I?"
  3107. > She tugged at the leash again and gave you a rueful smile. "If I fight it, all that's gonna happen is that you'll drag me along. You said so, and I believe you."
  3108. > You couldn't help but nod. The mare was smart. Probably smarter than you, at least where it came to relationships and behaviour. Plus, she was right. You had decided to take her to the pony society and you were going to do it, no matter how much she resisted.
  3109. > Both of you fell silent and the pony turned her thoughtful gaze to the window again. You were leaving the city center and the train was speeding up. In the distance, you could see forested hills.
  3110. > You wondered if Sky's resistance friends were hiding in those woods. You never found out where they were, not even a general direction.
  3111. > Much to your surprise, now that it was out in the open and you were on your way, the dominant emotion was calmness. There was sadness to see her go, despite everything she just said. But mostly, you were calmly resigned.
  3112. > A hoof touched your hand again. "Hey, Anon. If they save Flame Tail, *again*, and we find each other somehow back home, I'll try and send you a letter, okay? I don't *wanna* hate you."
  3113. > You couldn't believe she still wanted to pursue the stallion. With his history and complications.
  3114. "You're gonna have a lot of problems. The guy has a ton of kids, remember?"
  3115. > The pegasus sighed and laid her head on the table. "Yeah, don't remind me. We'll work it out, somehow."
  3116. > You saw that she put her hoof on her belly in contemplation.
  3117. "Good luck with that."
  3118. > She didn't answer for a long time. Then she blinked and stirred. "Anon?"
  3119. "Yes?"
  3120. > "We wouldn't have worked out anyway. We're too different."
  3121. "Yeah, you're probably right."
  3123. > ~~~~
  3125. > It was quite a walk from the train station to the Pony Society building. By the time you stood before the main entrance, you were sweaty, tired and thirsty. The fact that Red Sky seemed perfectly fine didn't help.
  3126. > She looked at you with her ears pinned down. "Okay, Anon. We're here. Can we get rid of this collar now, please?"
  3127. > The mare probably wouldn't try to run for it, but you still weren't taking chances. Not this close.
  3128. "Sorry."
  3129. > It made her sigh and look down at the pavement. "Okay, let's just get this over with, then."
  3130. > The pegasus pulled you after her with the leash and butted the door open with her head. Right behind the entrance was a small antechamber and beyond that a simple reception area.
  3131. > Aside from the organization name on the far wall and a pony sitting on one of the chairs, it could have been the entrance desk for any random company.
  3132. > The receptionist, a nervous-looking, black-haired guy in his early twenties, looked up from his computer. He stared at Red Sky, then shifted his eyes to you. He paid particular attention to the leash.
  3133. > "May I help you?" he asked in confusion. It was obvious he didn't know what to make of you.
  3134. > You hefted up the leash a little, as if for introduction.
  3135. "Yeah, this is Red Sky. I brought her so you guys can send her home. But I need to speak with someone in charge."
  3136. > The pony on the chair looked at you both with deep interest, but didn't comment. Both you and Sky squirmed under the combined attention. Suddenly you wished that you had, after all, removed the leash and collar from the mare.
  3137. > As if he had guessed your thoughts, the receptionist asked: "The leash, sir?"
  3138. > You were expecting the question and had prepared an answer as you were walking from the train station.
  3139. "Sorry, but it's necessary. She didn't want to come. That's why I need to see someone in charge, so I can explain."
  3140. > It just raised further questions, but the man didn't ask any more. He picked up the phone, pushed a few buttons and spoke quickly into the headset.
  3141. > "Zoe? Oh, do you know where she is? Who else is up there? I got a guy here, brought a pegasus on a leash, says she didn't wanna come. He wants to see someone in charge. Oh, she is? Good, I'll have him wait."
  3142. > He hung up and flashed you a nervous smile. "Someone will be down in a bit," he said and waved a hand toward the chairs. "If you'd take a seat and wait, Mr.?"
  3143. "Anon."
  3144. > For some reason, you didn't want to give a false name now. But the real one caused both the receptionist and the pony on the seat to stare in surprise. You quickly added:
  3145. "No relation! Just a similar name."
  3146. > They didn't press the issue and you walked over to the seating. They were typical reception room chairs, which meant small and uncomfortable. Despite that, the earth mare looked quite relaxed as she slouched over the backrest. You left one empty seat between you and plopped down.
  3147. > She seemed kinda familiar from up close and you took a longer look to try and place her. Her coat was a garish pink and the mane was violet, almost purple. You couldn't see her cutie mark from your angle.
  3148. > Maybe you'd seen her on the Pony Society webpage. There were pictures and short introductions of the permanent employees, but you couldn't think up a name to match the face before you.
  3149. > "What?!" she said in response to your staring and grinned nervously back. "Is there something on my face?"
  3150. "No! Sorry, nothing like that. I was just- nothing. Sorry."
  3151. > You were too quickly flustered and the pony knew it. She cast you a thoughtful look, then went back to slouching in the chair and staring at the wall clock. A moment later you looked down, where Red Sky was sitting on the floor and watching you incredulously.
  3152. > "Really?" she asked and shifted her glance to the earth mare for a second. "You haven't even turned me in yet, and you're already...?"
  3153. > Luckily, she didn't finish the thought.
  3154. "No! She just looked familiar. Besides, you hate me, remember?"
  3155. > The receptionist's phone rang and he picked it up. There was nothing to do, so you listened in on his half of the conversation.
  3156. > "Hello? Oh. Okay. Okay. Fine, I'll tell him. He said he wants someone in charge. Okay, I'll tell him that."
  3157. > It was obviously about you, which was proven when he hung up and cleared his throat.
  3158. > "Mr. Anon? I'm afraid Miss Sparkle will need a while before she can see you. You can wait, but if you are in a hurry, we can take Red Sky off your hands."
  3159. > You almost couldn't believe your luck. You wanted someone in charge, but you were getting *the* unicorn?
  3160. "Twilight Sparkle?!"
  3161. > The man just nodded.
  3162. "I'll wait, no problem."
  3163. > Again, Red Sky piped up. "Don't even think about it Anon! She's basically married to that Anonymous guy. I heard rumors. Plus, you definitely don't have a shot."
  3164. > It was exasperating and embarrassing, especially when the pink mare on the next seat gave you a contemplative look.
  3165. "I wasn't! Shut up! I can still take you out and belt you, you know?"
  3166. > The pegasus stuck her tongue out. "I'll scream. See what happens."
  3167. > Now the strange pony looked at Sky. She was very nosy. You wondered why she was waiting around in the reception.
  3168. "Excuse me. What's your name?"
  3169. > The earth pony switched her eyes back to your face. "Suri Polomare."
  3170. > Now you remembered! It wasn't from the Pony Society webpage that she was familiar to you. It was from the show itself.
  3171. "OH! From Manehattan?"
  3172. > The mare groaned and looked up at the ceiling helplessly. "Why does everypony know about that?! Yes from Manehattan! And I'd appreciate it if I didn't have to talk about it!"
  3173. > You guessed that she had gotten quite some flak over that one episode where she was the villain. You opted not to bring it up.
  3174. > Now Red Sky was staring with her mouth open. "You know her?! HOW?!"
  3175. > Too late you remembered that you never showed the pegasus any of the episodes. But you must have mentioned it.
  3176. "Look, I told you about the show, right? With ponies? Well, one of the episodes was about..."
  3177. > You caught Suri's glare.
  3178. "... about her."
  3179. > The earth mare let her breath out slowly. You saw that she had tensed up, as if getting ready to leave. You didn't want to drive the pony away.
  3180. > Sky also watched Suri Polomare for a few seconds, then opened her mouth for another question.
  3181. "Don't ask about it!"
  3182. > You saw how depressed the earth mare looked over nothing more than a memory. You tried to cheer her up a little.
  3183. "It was a silly episode anyway, and I thought it should have showed both sides of the argument before making judgements."
  3184. > It worked! Suri's eyes widened and she turned her face back. "That's right!" she said quickly. "Nopony asked about *my* story, they just boo-ed and put me down! Like I was some kind of a villain or something!"
  3185. > Now that she had started, it seemed the mare wanted to talk it all out. "I mean, sure, it wasn't the *nicest* thing to do, but winning there was important to me! My shop was about to close and I needed something like that to keep it going! Besides, I never promised Rarity anything! I just asked for a bit of cloth and she gave me a whole bunch! I did my trimmings and then there was basically all of it left! What was I supposed to do? Take it back?"
  3186. > Suri paused only long enough to take a breath before the rest of it came spilling out. "And I worked hard on those designs. Yeah, the cloth was hers, but the designs were mine! But nooo! Rarity is such a darling to everypony here that I *must* be evil for slightly inconveniencing her! And she still won!!"
  3187. > You didn't know what else to do and now the receptionist was staring at you both in confusion, so you put your hand on the mare's withers and stroked.
  3188. "Don't worry, I understand. It's okay!"
  3189. > Most of the story went right over Red Sky's head, but she saw what state Suri was in, so she didn't ask for details. You just waited with your hand on the distraught pony while she desperately tried to control her breathing.
  3190. > That episode had probably haunted her entire stay on Earth. She must have been fed up with it.
  3191. > You were sorry you reminded her of it, but there was nothing else to do except wait until the mare pulled herself together. You looked down at Sky.
  3192. "Don't you want a chair? There's plenty of room."
  3193. > She firmly shook her head. "I'm your pet, remember? Pets go on the floor."
  3194. > Now you were coloring under the withering stare of both the receptionist and Suri.
  3195. "Don't talk like that! You know perfectly well why I had to tie you up!"
  3196. > Luckily, Sky didn't push her luck. She heaved a sigh and stared off into the distance. You pulled your hand away from Suri and went back to watching the clock.
  3197. > It was nearly twenty minutes of silence later before the earth pony spoke up. "You're very patient, Mr. Anon."
  3198. > Her words were unexpected and it took you a few seconds to rally.
  3199. "So are you? What are you waiting for, anyway?"
  3200. > Suri sighed sadly again and refused to meet your gaze. "Something better. They say I shouldn't go out alone, otherwise I'd take a walk. I can't *stand* it here!"
  3201. "Can't you go back home?"
  3202. > She looked at you strangely for a while. "I refused," she answered, simply.
  3203. "Why?!"
  3204. > The mare waved a dismissive hoof. "Nothing to go back to. My shop is gone, all my friends hate me now. No parents, no brothers or sisters. I'd have to start at the bottom, only nopony would take my fashion seriously after that thing with Rarity!"
  3205. > She looked on the verge of tears again. That one mistake haunted both her worlds, it seemed. You remembered Fire Tail and felt a pang of guilt. Maybe you could guess what it was like to have an event from your past hanging over you.
  3206. > Suri went on: "I'd have to do something else. Some low, menial, boring job. And then I'd be miserable, cause of this!"
  3207. > She lifted her rump up to show you the cutie mark. It was three buttons, definitely something to do with sewing.
  3208. "I'm sorry."
  3209. > The pony sat back and her ears went down. "So I sit here every day, 'cause I can't stand the others. And if I'm lucky, some days someone comes in and I can talk to them a little. It's either this, or sitting in my room and staring out the window!"
  3210. > It sounded horrible and you said so before you could stop yourself.
  3211. "That's rough. Sorry."
  3212. > The mare didn't answer.
  3213. > Another ten minutes with nothing else but the receptionist's clicking in his Solitaire or something. It seemed like a very easy job. If you'd be allowed to shitpost, you'd take a job like this anytime! But no one had offered you an opportunity like that. Some people just had all the luck!
  3214. > At long last, a door opened somewhere to the side and she walked out. There was no mistaking that purple coat and the black mane with a pink stripe.
  3215. > You jumped to your feet, at the same time incredibly excited as well as utterly nervous.
  3216. "Twilight Sparkle?"
  3217. > As if you needed confirmation. She looked up from a clipboard she was levitating right in front of her nose and sized you up.
  3218. > "Oh, you must be Mr. Anon. And that's..." she paused when she saw the pegasus on the leash and frowned. "Mr. Anon, I'm sure that isn't entirely necessary."
  3219. > You shrugged and managed a nervous smile.
  3220. "It is! I can explain!"
  3221. > She was a bit doubtful, but then turned back to the door where she came. It opened with a little push of her magic. "Okay, I'm willing to listen. Come into my office, please."
  3222. > The office wasn't much nicer than the reception. You remembered that she helped run a big IT company. That was probably her 'real' office and this was just a room she used when she was at the Pony Society. She walked around the desk and plopped her rump on a low, backless, cushioned seat. You realized that the table was also lowered, suitable for a pony to use.
  3223. > She motioned to the chair opposite her and you sat. You couldn't help looming over the table, but Twilight seemed nonplussed.
  3224. > "Go on. I'm listening," she said. She hadn't even acknowledged Red Sky, other than her comment about the leash. It seemed strange to you, but it was really unusual to the pegasus.
  3225. > Sky had followed you both into the room and now stood behind your chair. You thought she was hiding from Twilight. She was probably intimidated by her down-to-business attitude.
  3226. "Well, anyway, her name is Red Sky. I took her in when she ran away from her owner. Well, recently-"
  3227. > You tried to come up with a way to explain without making yourself look like a total jerk. You had spent most of the train ride thinking about that. But your head was just as empty now as it had been then.
  3228. "We've had some issues - disagreements - and she wanted to leave. There's this group of resistance ponies in the area and she's been helping them."
  3229. > You held up a palm and hurriedly clarified your position.
  3230. "I didn't have a problem with that. It's just that they send her to do dangerous stuff. One time she came back with very bad dog bites."
  3231. > Twilight was taking it all in, occasionally scribbling in her notepad, but never looking away from your face.
  3232. > "Are you Red Sky's owner, Mr. Anon? If she choses to go into dangerous situations, who are you to deny it? Maybe she's risking her life for something very important, hmm?"
  3233. > You nodded to all of that.
  3234. "Yes, but that's not the point. The point is, she recently told me she's pregnant. I didn't want to let her get torn apart by dogs, knowing that!"
  3235. > Finally, the stoic unicorn seemed shocked. She glanced around your chair at the pegasus, who squirmed uncomfortably. "Is this true?" Twilight asked.
  3236. > Sky just gave a nod.
  3237. > "Well, that certainly changes things. You wanted to help the resistance in your condition?"
  3238. > Another nod.
  3239. > You finished your explanation:
  3240. "Anyway, I didn't know what to do, so I brought her here. If you think she can go and risk herself like that, I'm fine with it. I just don't want it to be on my hands, understand? Here, I'm sorry to put it like this, but she's your problem now."
  3241. > You put the leash on the table. It was the first time it left your hand since the train and your palm felt cold. It was such a simple gesture, but it changed so many things.
  3242. > Sky was no longer in your care. She was no longer your responsibility. She knew it too, judging by the stare she was giving you.
  3243. "Tie her up, or let her go, or talk her out of it, I guess you'll know best. I just hope she ends up alright."
  3244. > Twilight looked down at the leash, then lifted it in her magic. Then she looked to the pegasus. "Red Sky," the unicorn said slowly, "if I untie you, will you run away?"
  3245. > The pegasus shook her head mutely. An instant later, the collar broke apart and fell to the floor. Sky rubbed at her neck where it had been, as if trying to make sure it really was gone.
  3246. > "Good. Now we'll talk about this like reasonable, adult mares, okay?"
  3247. > Sky nodded again.
  3248. > The unicorn moved her gaze to you. "If you could give us a few minutes, Mr. Anon? Or maybe an hour. I'd like a doctor to examine Red, just to make sure she is... okay."
  3249. > All three of you knew what the pause had covered. Twilight needed to make certain Sky really was pregnant. You also wanted to know that yourself.
  3250. > "Here, why don't I buy you lunch - as thanks for bringing Red Sky to us?" Twilight went on and levitated a bank note toward you. It was a hundred dollars and you took it nervously.
  3251. > Sky finally spoke up. "Please come back, Anon," she said miserably. "I wanna say goodbye, at least."
  3252. > "Don't worry," said the unicorn, "I'll probably have some more questions for Mr. Anon when we're done."
  3253. > She glanced at the clock on the wall. "It's nearly five. There's a good pizza place around the corner. Why don't you grab a bite and come back at, say, six o'clock?"
  3254. > You stood up.
  3255. "Sure thing. Thanks!"
  3256. > The unicorn was every bit in command of the situation. All you could do was hope like hell that Red Sky wouldn't slam on you too hard. You were fairly certain the ponies wouldn't do anything drastic, but you'd hate for your meeting with *the* Twilight Sparkle to end with her hating your guts.
  3257. > You absentmindedly shoved the money into a pocket and left the office. Suri glanced up at you with curiosity. "Hope she wasn't too hard on you," the earth mare said.
  3258. "No, it was fine. She wants to talk to Sky now. I have to wait until six."
  3259. > The pony lowered her voice. "She hasn't been the same since they cut her wings off, you know? Maybe that's why she's so successful. She's gotten a bit more ruthless."
  3260. "Wings?!"
  3261. > You thought she was just the unicorn Twilight from early in the show.
  3262. "She's an alicorn?!"
  3263. > Suri looked strangely at you, as if surprised that you didn't know. "Well yeah? Why'd you think we call her the 'Princess of Friendship'? Only she's a lot less friendly than she used to be."
  3264. > You suddenly realized that in Suri's episode, Twilight had already been an alicorn. It should have been obvious. Had you paused to think a little, you'd have wondered where her wings were.
  3265. > But you had too many things on your plate. Which reminded you:
  3266. "I think I'ma gonna go grab some dinner."
  3267. > The mare jumped off her chair and sidled up to you. "Mind if I tag along?"
  3268. > Her advance was unexpected, but not unpleasant. And her smile was warm and inviting. Perhaps, by listening to her tragic story, you had endeared yourself to the pony?
  3269. "Uh, sure."
  3270. > She took a step forward and casually bumped her flank against your leg. "Come on, I know a nice place! You wouldn't mind buying a lady a salad, would you?"
  3271. > You were a bit saddened by the loss of pizza, but maybe it was for the best. A salad would help with your weight. Reminded of the fact, you glanced down at your frame. It was a lot better than before Red Sky. All the worrying, the walks in the park, even the mostly vegetarian diet you'd taken up - it had all shaved quite a few pounds off you. But you still weren't quite where you wanted to be.
  3272. "Yeah, of course."
  3273. > Suri's grin widened and she led the way outside.
  3274. >...
  3275. > "So yeah, I was really hurt. I mean - I know what I tried to do wasn't really nice, but you'd expect an assistant to stand by her employer, right? Where's the loyalty? Where's the work ethic?!"
  3276. > It was fascinating, you discovered, learning about the other side of the stories in the show. You hadn't intended to bring it up, but Suri seemed somehow drawn to that particular episode.
  3277. > The pony really wanted others to understand her view of the events. You were starting to see it. True, her business practices hadn't been the best, but after what some Earth companies got up to, Suri wasn't all that bad.
  3278. > And backstabbed by her own assistant, that must have felt horrible.
  3279. > No wonder it was getting her all depressed. The mare had hardly touched her Greek-Feta salad. You had gotten the same thing on her recommendation, and it was surprisingly good. The cheese was salty, but it blended well with the dressing. And, somehow, the bits of bread had been still warm when the waiter delivered it.
  3280. > You could get used to salads like that, you decided.
  3281. > But now Suri Polomare looked like she was about to cry, so you sought for something different to talk about.
  3282. "So, no one special back home, I gather?"
  3283. > She shook her head. "No," she said and sighed. "There was this one stallion, we went out a couple of times, this gorgeous dark umber coat and dark blue mane. But we never got far before..."
  3284. > The mare waved a hoof around. "Before all this, you know?" She shrugged, a little shyly. "Eh, it probably wouldn't have worked out. Sooner or later, somepony would tell him something mean about me, and that would've been it, I guess."
  3285. > A comment was called for.
  3286. "It's stupid how some people just can't let it go. Everyone's made mistakes."
  3287. > The hoof came down gently on the back of your hand. The pony looked right in your eyes with an earnest smile. "So true," she said quietly. Then, a bit more loudly: "So, what about you, Mr. Anon? What do you do for a living?"
  3288. > It wasn't something you were proud of, but it was slightly better than 'nothing at all'.
  3289. "Right now I clean at some restaurant. It's not much, but it brings in some money, I guess."
  3290. > Her nose wrinkled in what you could call disappointment, if it weren't gone so quickly. "Yeah, a job's a job. But you never thought about anything better?"
  3291. > Now it was your turn to shrug in embarrassment.
  3292. "Well, sure. But I dunno what else I could do with my education. Maybe I'll look into it again."
  3293. > You wondered why you'd said that. After Sky and Flame Tail were gone, your expenses would drop and you'd be perfectly comfortable going back to your old style of life. But the way Suri spoke, it somehow made you want to better yourself.
  3294. > "Sometimes, all it takes is a bit of motivation..." she murmured, but it didn't seem directed at you. "I can't imagine a cleaning job pays well enough. How do you afford rent, if you don't mind me asking?"
  3295. > The mare was very nosy, but you didn't mind. After all, she had shared some very personal details with you already. It was only polite to return the favor.
  3296. "Don't have to. I own the apartment. My mom passed it to me when she died."
  3297. > The pressure of the hoof on your hand increased and Suri lowered her eyes and voice in sympathy. "Oh, I'm sorry to hear about that, Mr. Anon."
  3298. "Just Anon, please. And it's fine."
  3299. > The pony seemed at a loss for words, suddenly. "Soooo," she said, looking away. She blushed a little and it was easier to tell on her color than with Red Sky. When her eyes sought you out again, it quickened your pulse.
  3300. "Yeah..."
  3301. > You weren't sure what to say, or how. This kind of thing never happened to you. It was impossible. You weren't prepared for it.
  3302. > You tried to find the catch. Pretty girls weren't attracted to you, and you didn't think ponies would be either. There had to be something you were misinterpreting, just like Red Sky had said.
  3303. > But Suri, sensing your conflict, quickly pulled her hoof away. "You know, Anon. You're one of the more interesting people I've met on Earth," she commented.
  3304. "Yeah? How so?"
  3305. > You were a little bit suspicious. You really wanted it to happen, whatever the pony was getting at. But if it seemed too good to be true, that probably meant it was.
  3306. > "Well," she said, blushing again, "you're not pushing yourself for money or titles or anything like that. You just wanna have a good time, no?"
  3307. > You nodded. That part was true. Slacking and having a good time had always been more important than money. You realized that money would bring even better times, but it had never seemed worth the effort.
  3308. > "And I see you *could* do such a lot, if you wanted. But it's not really worth it, is it? All that effort for what, some money or fame or something silly like that?"
  3309. > It was uncanny the way this mare was guessing your thoughts.
  3310. "Well, yeah. Maybe. Some more money would be nice, but like you said - it's a lot of effort."
  3311. > She smiled widely and winked. "I used to think just like that, you know? Why really bother? Why work myself haggard for all those fashion shows and so on. But I did it anyway. And I know now that I was lucky."
  3312. "Yeah? Why'd you do it?"
  3313. > The pony picked up a glass between her hooves - it was still amazing how deftly they could hold things - and swirled the wine around a little. "My father," she said at last. "He was really supportive. Said if I had the talent, I should let it out. Let ponies see." Suri sighed sadly. "If it weren't for him, I probably wouldn't have made anything of myself. But he kept poking and prodding and I went and practiced and worked and designed."
  3314. > She drained the glass and looked up with a faint, nostalgic smile. "And now I look back, and it was worth it. All I needed was a bit of encouragement and I went and made a name for myself. And I'd be the best, if it weren't for that Rarity!"
  3315. > You really felt what she was saying. Maybe that was the part that you missed in your life? You thought back over the past few months.
  3316. > Red Sky had come into your life and suddenly you were eating healthier, talking with people more, going out on walks, even losing weight. For that matter, just at that moment you were in a nice restaurant with a very friendly pony, all thanks to Red Sky.
  3317. > You even had a job. Low paying, demeaning, true. But that was just necessity. If you had someone like Red Sky at home, but who really liked you and supported you - couldn't you go and get some better work? If only so you could bring her nice things?
  3318. > Again, Suri seemed to guess your thoughts. "Yeah, I'm sorry you never had someone like my dad. Sometimes all we need is a kick in the rump to go out and do something."
  3319. > She waved to a waiter and ordered another glass of wine. It was getting rather expensive, but you didn't care. You were having a good time and hoping for more. Plus, you weren't even close to spending the money Twilight had given you. You got another glass as well and sipped it slowly while the mare talked about her childhood and friends. She even talked about her assistant - the one who had betrayed her.
  3320. > "Coco didn't start out bad, you know?" the pony explained. She was a bit unsteady, even sitting down, and her smile was growing. "She worked hard, took orders. Had an annoying habit of talking back to me, but I never held it against her. I mean- I was paying her. A lot. Is it so much to ask for her to do what she is told without complaining?"
  3321. > You were shaking your head. Put like that, the assistant was a lazy, whiny and, above all, nosy creature. The fact that Suri had kept her employed just showed off her kind heart.
  3322. "Damn right. S'what I'd expect in your place, too!"
  3323. > The mare was nodding in agreement. "Anyway, she always poked her snout in where it didn't belong, but she never asked where her paycheck came from. How hard I worked to get clients and make ends meet. It's a cutthroat business!"
  3324. > You were interrupted by the waiter, who came to offer you desert. You decided against it, after Suri shook her head. You asked him for the bill, instead.
  3325. > To you surprise, you learned that it was only fifty bucks, or so. And when you checked your clock, you saw that you still had fifteen minutes before you were due back.
  3326. > Both of these things pleased you. Fifty bucks and fifteen more minutes in Suri's company sounded really nice.
  3327. > "We should go back," the mare said. "This has been the best evening I've had in *ages*, Anon. Thank you so much!"
  3328. > You waved it away.
  3329. "S'alright. Don't mention it, was fun for me too!"
  3330. > But the mare, climbing to her hooves a little shakily, walked over and bumped her nose against your thigh. "Naah, nah, Anon. You're a really swell guy! Wish I'd met you ages ago. Most humans here are just- they're just jerks!"
  3331. > You beamed with pride and put your hand in her mane. It was just as silky and soft as Red Sky's. You realized that you were both a little drunk, but not so much that you couldn't think straight.
  3332. > Just enough to loosen you up a little. It did the same for Suri, it looked like.
  3333. "I wish I met you ages ago, too! You're real nice, too. Sorry you got such a raw deal in that episode..."
  3334. > The mare bumped your leg again. "See? That's what I'm talkin' about! Real gentlecolt! C'mere, c'mere, lemme give you a little something. Lean down."
  3335. > You obeyed, bringing your face closer to the mare. Without warning, she stepped on your shoe to gain a bit of height and pushed her mouth against yours.
  3336. > It was a proper kiss. It didn't last very long, but it was everything you had dreamed. Suri prodded at your lips until you opened, then toyed with your tongue for a bit, as you froze in shock.
  3337. > But all too quickly it was over. You became aware of a murmuring in the restaurant. And judging from her deep blush, the mare heard it even better.
  3338. > "Gosh! Sorry! Sorry Anon, I didn't mean to do that!" she said loudly. "The wine must've gotten to me! I guess we better call it a night, okay?"
  3339. > You were surprised at the sudden change, but she winked secretly and smiled. You realized what she was doing.
  3340. "Yeah, I guess we both had too much. Let's just go."
  3341. > The murmuring and looks didn't stop, but you didn't really care. Soon you were both outside and the pony was giggling like crazy. "Did you- did you see the people in there? Like we murdered somepony or something!"
  3342. > All you could really think about was how sorry you were it was over. A kiss given willingly by a mare. It was a first. Of course you didn't count what you'd done with Flame Tail.
  3343. > "What's the time?" Suri asked.
  3344. > You took your phone out and checked.
  3345. "Ten till six."
  3346. > She ran a few steps back toward the Pony Society building. "C'mon, we have time. Hurry up!" You increased your pace so you'd catch up to her, but the pony effortlessly stayed out in front. She kept her tail hiked up, which was giving you a superb view of her backside.
  3347. > It was making your pants quite uncomfortable. The mare probably wasn't even aware she was doing it, but you could think of little else than the pink folds before you. Luckily, there were no other people around.
  3348. > Suri burst into the reception, but paused to hold the door for you. You entered at five fifty-five, just in time. But the mare wasn't done with you yet. "Come on, this way," she said.
  3349. > The receptionist glanced at you, but didn't comment. Pretty soon he was back at his Minesweeper or something.
  3350. > You followed the pony to the other end of the room and into a corridor. You weren't sure you were allowed to go back there, but there were no signs to prohibit it. Besides, Suri was with you and she didn't say anything.
  3351. > "In here, come, come," she insisted and almost pushed you into a room. You realized it was a bathroom. There were no urinals, so you tentatively deduced it was the ladies room.
  3352. "Uh, what are we-"
  3353. > You wanted to ask, but the pony put her hoof over her mouth. "Sssh!" Her voice turned to a whisper. "Think of it as a little thankyou, okay?"
  3354. > She ducked into a stall, then waved you in after her. It was small - just barely large enough for you both. Then the pony nosed at your pants. You obediently unbuckled and pulled them down.
  3355. > Too late you realized that you've been wearing them for twenty-four hours straight. But the mare showed no hesitation before she pushed her muzzle deeper, inhaling deeply. Her hot breath spread through the fabric and you almost groaned with need.
  3356. > "Your hand, here, touch me," Suri commanded and turned around. She raised her rump as high as she could and you tentatively poked at her with a finger. She was hot and very wet. You withdrew the finger in surprise, but not before the pony gave a quiet little moan.
  3357. > When you pulled back, she glanced over her shoulder. "Come on, come. We're late, so make it quick, okay?"
  3358. > She didn't have to beg. You pulled the underwear down and crouched over the toilet. It was a bit lower than regular, which helped. You had to bend down awkwardly, but Suri couldn't lift herself any higher. It was tricky, but you managed to line yourself up.
  3359. > In that moment, the pony backed into you and accepted most of your length. You couldn't hold back a groan and she moaned at the same time.
  3360. > There was no stopping now. You thrust and tried to ignore the strain on your thighs and calves from the uncomfortable position. You wouldn't be able to do it for long, but it would be long enough.
  3361. > Fortunately, the mare was quickly there. Barely a minute later she frantically pushed back a few times and stifled a louder moan. Then she gasped, exhaled and stopped. You felt her twitching against you and it proved too much to resist.
  3362. > You pumped a few more times rapidly, making the pony yelp in surprise, but it was enough and you hilted as deeply as you could.
  3363. > It lasted a while and your legs nearly gave out. Without thinking about it, you placed your hands on Suri's rump to support yourself. The mare accepted your weight easily, barely shifting. Earth pony strength.
  3364. > You managed not to cry out, but you couldn't hold back a sigh when you pulled back with a plop. Then you sat on the toilet lid, breathing heavily.
  3365. > The pony turned around, reared up on her hind legs and went right back to kissing you passionately.
  3366. > "Oh, Anon! That was great!" she said and smiled. "Perfect end to a perfect date!"
  3367. > You hadn't even realized it was a date.
  3368. "Y-yeah."
  3369. > The mare kissed you again, drawing it out longer, before pulling away. She gave you a long, thoughtful look. "Anon, can I ask you something?"
  3370. "Anything!"
  3371. > She glanced around the stall as if looking for words. "C-could you take me in? I hate it here, but I think I'd like it at your place. With you."
  3372. > A warning thought tried to make itself known, but it quickly melted in the afterglow.
  3373. "Yes."
  3374. > Suri grinned with delight. "Really? Wow! You're the best, Anon!" As if rewarding you, the pony kissed you again, even more warmly. "I know it's fast, but I really like you. I think we'd fit perfectly together, don't you?"
  3375. > All you could do was nod. Out of the corner of your eye you saw a mixture of both your fluids drop to the tiles below from her rear. You couldn't take your eyes off it, but Suri didn't seem to notice it.
  3376. > The pony giggled. "Go on. Clean up and go talk to Twilight. Then wait for me outside. I'll go pack my things."
  3377. "Won't anyone miss you?"
  3378. > Suri looked down, suddenly sad again. "They don't like me. I don't think anypony will care. I'll leave a note. Don't worry, I won't say where I went."
  3379. > A part of you knew it was a bad idea, but you didn't care. The mare liked you. She had kissed and fucked you entirely of her own will. Hell, she started the whole thing herself! This one would be  everything Red Sky hadn't been. You were sure of it!
  3380. > You lifted her face with a finger and those puppy-dog eyes worked their insidious magic.
  3381. "Okay! I'll see you there."
  3382. > You'd need another ticket for the train, but with the leftover money Twilight Sparkle gave you that shouldn't be a problem.
  3383. > Plus, you thought with mounting excitement, you'd have a real relationship this time. Or at least a chance at it!
  3384. > The idea cheered you up and blended perfectly with the lingering pleasure in your groin. After another, lighter kiss, Suri vanished from the stall and you worked on cleaning up as best as you could.
  3385. >...
  3386. > You were only ten minutes late in the end and the alicorn didn't seem to mind. She was alone in her office with no sign of Red Sky. Her nose wrinkled and she stared at you when you entered.
  3387. > It was obvious she could smell it, but she didn't bring it up. You chose to stay quiet on the topic as well. Even if she knew who the pony was, the alicorn didn't say it.
  3388. > "So, Mr. Anon," Twilight said after a lengthy pause. "I talked with Red Sky-"
  3389. "What did she tell you?"
  3390. > You didn't mean to interrupt, but you had to know just how bad it was. The alicorn looked at you strangely and waited a few seconds before talking again.
  3391. > "She said you took her in when she really needed it. She also said you treated her fairly and didn't think of her as a slave. Which is good."
  3392. > It was better than you could have hoped and you did your best to hide your incredulous stare. Luckily, Twilight didn't see because she was shuffling through her notes.
  3393. > "She also says you were very supportive when she had to help the resistance group in her area, and that you treated her wounds when she got hurt. Both very commendable."
  3394. > There was a 'but' coming, you could sense it a mile away. And you started to get a feeling what it was. Either the drugs, or the thing with Flame Tail, or both.
  3395. > But the mare didn't look at your expression as she examined her papers. "Also, she said you took in a certain 'Flame Tail', earth stallion when the resistance couldn't afford to keep him. But-"
  3396. > You knew it. Flame Tail would come back to haunt you again and again. And deservedly so. Whatever Twilight said next would be one hundred percent justified.
  3397. > Finally she looked up and noted your frown. "Apparently you got into a fight of some sort. Red Sky didn't give me the details, but I can imagine, especially with her pregnancy. And you handed Flame Tail to your local police."
  3398. > You let out a breath you didn't even know you were holding.
  3399. "Yeah. I'm sorry about it, but there it is."
  3400. > The pony straightened up and let the papers fall to the desk. "We got a call a couple of days ago about Flame Tail-"
  3401. "Yes, that was me."
  3402. > It was best to just admit it. Apparently, Twilight Sparkle was very well connected and informed.
  3403. > "-from one of the other pony help groups," the alicorn continued slowly. You couldn't hold back a flush of embarrassment, but she thankfully ignored it. "The police didn't know what to do with him. After a few interviews, they called their local pony rights organization and gave him over. He's on his way to us now."
  3404. > You were dumbstruck. For a few seconds, all you could do was open and close your mouth.
  3405. "R-really?!"
  3406. > Twilight smiled a little. "It looks like things turned out alright. Luckily, the people you gave Flame Tail to were reasonable. They didn't use extreme measures to get information out of him, so he is quite unharmed, if a little shaken. I am also aware of his past."
  3407. > You needed to know what she was planning.
  3408. "So, what happens now? To Flame Tail and Sky?"
  3409. > For a moment it looked like she wouldn't tell you. But finally, the alicorn leaned her head to the side. "They will be reunited. I will send them back to Equestria and then I will go and find those mares who were being held alongside Flame Tail. What they do after that will be up to them and the other Princesses."
  3410. > If you squinted a little, you could almost see it as a happy ending. More importantly, it was a relief. You'd still done a stupid thing, but it ended up alright. Maybe Red Sky would-
  3411. > Twilight interrupted your thoughts. "Next room on the left. I gave it to Red Sky. You may go and say goodbye. Oh, and you may tell her the news about Flame Tail. It looked like you two had some unfinished things between you, so I didn't say anything. Best to end on a happy note, right?"
  3412. > Now you were seeing the real Princess of Friendship! She was even more gracious than the show portrayed her. You jumped up and, lacking any better idea, bowed.
  3413. "Thank you! I'm sorry about- well, I'm sorry. But I'm glad it turned out okay!"
  3414. > The pony just nodded. Just as you reached for the door handle, she spoke quietly: "Oh, and you'd be wise not to believe everything Suri Polomare tells you, Mr. Anon."
  3415. > She knew! In your shock, you got out as quickly as you could.
  3416. > About five minutes later, once you got your composure back, you knocked on the next door.
  3417. > "Come in," called Red Sky. You entered and took stock of the room. It was plain and simple: a small writing desk, a bed and a window. There wasn't much else, but the pegasus seemed satisfied. She was lying on her back on the bed.
  3418. > "Oh, Anon," she said and sat up. "I guess this is goodbye?"
  3419. > Her nose wrinkled and she stared in shock. "You didn't!" she gasped. "What the buck, Anon?!"
  3420. "Shut up. I have good news for you."
  3421. > She seemed doubtful and her face was stuck in a frown. But eventually she rolled her eyes and dropped it. "You're unbelievable. But fine, go on. It's not my problem anymore!"
  3422. "Twilight found Flame Tail. He's on his way and then you're both going home."
  3423. > The pegasus froze. Then her eyes widened in surprise. "This isn't some sick joke, is it?"
  3424. > You shook your head and placed your hand over your heart.
  3425. "I swear!"
  3426. > Slowly, hesitantly, the sliver of hope made Sky smile pleasantly. "Thank you for telling me," she said all formal and reserved. But by now you could read her mood pretty well.
  3427. > In a couple of steps you were there and hugging her. This time, the pegasus hugged back and sighed.
  3428. "I'm still sorry about giving him up, but maybe now you two can have a future together. Twiggles said the other Princesses would decide what to do about those mares and foals."
  3429. > Sky said nothing for a while. But then she pushed away. "Okay. Look, Anon-" she glanced down and let her ears droop. "I didn't tell her about you and me, okay? No point in dredging that up now. Or the drugs - that was just a stupid mistake for both of us."
  3430. > You nodded.
  3431. "Yeah, thanks about that! Really!"
  3432. > The pegasus grinned. " I guess since Flame is going to be fine, I forgive you. And I realize I never said thanks for taking us both in and feeding us when we needed. So... thanks, Anon."
  3433. > You let her go and brushed a tear away. Now that it was ending, the nostalgia hit you like a ton of bricks. You wondered if Suri would like movies as much as Sky had.
  3434. "I won't forget you, Sky. It's been really nice having you."
  3435. > It looked like even she was about to cry. "Yeah. It wasn't all bad, Anon. Take care. I'll try to write when I get home."
  3436. > You watched her for a few more seconds, then got out of there. All in all, you thought, it ended better than you had any right to expect.
  3437. > And your new mare was already waiting outside, a small pack slung over her back. She smiled when she saw you and brushed her head against your arm, almost like a cat.
  3438. > You didn't need a leash for this one. Suri actually wanted to go with you. It was a heartwarming feeling.
  3439. > She briefly embraced your legs, then looked around. "Okay, lead the way," she said.
  3440. > You turned down the street toward the train station.
  3441. >...
  3442. > The train car on the way back was about the same as the one you took the previous day. The pony didn't complain about the filth when she took the seat next to you.
  3443. > After a minute or so, she leaned against you. She was heavier than Red Sky, so you had to put some effort into staying upright for her.
  3444. > It would be quite a workout if that went on for the entire ride, but after a while the mare spoke up. "Anon?"
  3445. "Yes?"
  3446. > "Lean against the wall and put your arm around me. It'll be more comfortable."
  3447. "Oh."
  3448. > You shuffled away. With the wall against your back, the pony was a lot easier to hold. And your hand rested right on her flank. It was a better way to travel and Suri seemed to agree. She smiled up at you, looked around for any people who might be watching, then gave you a kiss.
  3449. > "So, here's the plan," she said. "I still wanna try and open a company or a shop. Like the other Anon and Twilight. And you're gonna help me. Fashion for humans, designed by a pony! It's gonna be big!"
  3450. > She caught your expression and giggled. "Don't worry! I won't make you sew, Anon. I just need you because ponies aren't legally allowed to own companies. Yeah, Twilight is an exception."
  3451. > You relaxed. You knew the mare had at least some ulterior motives and plans for you, but if that was all it was, it didn't sound too bad.
  3452. > But she wasn't done yet. "And I'll help you, Anon. Don't worry, I know all about business and money. I'll help you get things turned around, okay? I'll do for you what my dad did for me. It's not gonna be easy, but if we both work at it, we'll make it big!"
  3453. > With the warm bundle of fur in your arms, you were willing to promise anything. You remembered the brief encounter in the ladies' bathroom and felt a twinge from Little Anon. And the nights would be amazing, you already knew it! For a reward like this, you were willing to work.
  3454. > And, you added to yourself, Suri was probably right. If you applied yourself, you could make something of your life. With her experience, you might even climb out of the lazy, shitty lifestyle.
  3455. > Sky hadn't even tried and she made you lose weight and get a job. Who knew how far Suri would take you?
  3456. > The mare grew concerned when you didn't answer. "Anon? You okay? It's gonna be fine, don't worry. We'll talk about absolutely everything, okay? There's no hurry, I'm just glad I'm out of that place. Thanks for giving me a chance."
  3457. > All your worries melted away with her kiss.
  3458. "Yeah. It's gonna be great. Maybe a kick in the pants is just what I need. I should really get a hold on my life and do something with it."
  3459. > That really made her grin happily. "That's the spirit! You'll go far with my advice, Anon! Believe me!"
  3460. > You turned your gaze out the window, where unfamiliar landscape slid gently by. You were going back home, but it felt like the destination was something new. Something strange.
  3461. > It was exciting, you decided. Your arms around the mare tightened. Finally you were getting exactly what you had wanted. And more! You were getting a chance to change. For the better, of course.
  3462. > The pegasus would always have a special place in your heart. You couldn't stop loving her, despite everything. You hoped she would remember her promise to write.
  3463. > But here was a new pony, one that could someday feel about you the way you felt about Sky. You had another chance to make it right. And this time you knew what to expect.
  3464. "Suri?"
  3465. > "Mmm?" The mare was also staring out the window, lost in though.
  3466. "Back there in the bathroom. You didn't need to do that, you know? I would have taken you home if you just asked. I don't want you to do things like that just to pay me or as a bribe or anything."
  3467. > The pony smiled at you. "Aw, that's a sweet thing to say, you gentlecolt. But don't worry, I wanted it just as much as you! It was good. And I'm gonna want it again, soon. Do they have toilets on this train?"
  3468. > Your race began to pulse and Little Anon definitely woke up.
  3469. "I guess we'll find out."
  3470. > The mare burrowed deeper into your chest and sighed happily. She closed her eyes, but a little smile still played on her lips. You watched her for a while, then turned your eyes back out through the window.
  3471. > There were no more skyscrapers to be seen, just low houses and distant hills. And the setting sun made the sky glow red.
  3473. > ~~~~ THE END
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