/bootleg/ Jacky Part One

By BlondieAnon on 22nd October 2020 10:22:41 PM

  1. >Christmas season
  2. >technically
  3. >ordered an Applejack because she reminds you of home
  4. >home didn't have all of this fucking snow
  5. >heft the box inside
  6. >thankfully blank packaging so power level is hidden
  7. >open and
  8. "What"
  9. >My Little Poney on the box
  10. >It's Applejack
  11. >but
  12. >she's yellow with orange mane
  13. >are those fucking tomatoes on her butt
  14. >the hat is a third of the size of her head
  15. >reach out to poke her face
  16. >her eyes pop open
  17. >"What'd'ya think yer doin' lad?"
  18. >what the hell
  19. "What the hell."
  20. >she stumbles out of the box, having lurched over from a laying position
  21. >packing peanuts spill out as the box tips over
  22. >"An'a right g'marnin' t'y'too. Talkin' 'bout hell when y'should be greetin' me. D'ya know jus how long I've been cooped up in t'damned box? Thought I'd have me a new friend and what doth my shiny eyes find? Some slackjawed ninny about to pluck them out!"
  23. >the painfully Irish TomatoJack takes a defensive stance, speaking almost too quick to understand all at once
  24. "Now hold on a minute, what are you doing by insulting me as soon as you wake up? I didn't know you were just pretending to be asleep."
  25. >The wee bonny horse prances in place, her eyes crossing. "Oh, and y'thought that being jostled around and left in t'cold wouldn't wake sleepin' beauty, aye? Maybe y'thought a wee little kiss would awaken the fair maiden?"
  26. >her eyes straighten to stare
  27. >mostly straighten
  28. >"Well too bad! I ain't y'princess or whatever y'think I am!"
  29. >...
  30. >the room goes silent
  31. >awkwardly silent because you just got told off by some Irish tomato queen
  32. >you shake your head and sigh
  33. "Let's... restart. I'm Anon. I..."
  34. >what did you want?
  35. >no, really, you're an adult living in an apartment
  36. >you haven't even seen the show in five years
  37. >your last relationship was lukewarm at best and the one hug that took place in it was due to you being sly under an umbrella
  38. >you work, sleep, shitpost and play video games
  39. >what the hell were you going to do with a technicolor talking horse?
  41. "I... I wanted a friend. I miss home. I miss talking about you guys with my old friends. I thought that if I could hang out with you I'd... be better off. And I'd hope that I'd be a good friend in return."
  42. >you sit down after saying all of that
  43. >better to not tower over a talking cartoon come to life
  44. >if the cartoon was stolen by China, send over to an animation company in Vietnam and funded by a cheap French company
  45. >The neigh-sayer visibly lost her edge and sits down too
  46. >"...y'know y'look a little rough around the edges."
  47. >thanks, multiple hundreds of dollars spent
  48. >"...guess it wasn'too proper o'me t'just burst out like that, huh."
  49. >you shrug
  50. "Well you did get left in this cold, I'll let you have that."
  51. >she nods and shrugs in return
  52. >"Aye... anyway, m'name's Jacky. Y'know t'rest of m'gang then? Sparks, Dash, all've'em then?"
  53. >you exhale
  54. "I... think there's a regional difference in the names. But I kinda know about you and the others, yeah. I think."
  55. >except when in the holy hell did a farm focus on a tomato orchard
  56. >did tomatoes even grow on trees?
  57. >more silence
  58. >" how'd'ya imagine this'd go? That I burst out o'me box here and we go have adventures?"
  59. >kinda
  60. "Not really."
  61. >you nod your head to the side
  62. >lot of heavy plants brought in for the winter,
  63. "I was hoping that maybe we'd hang out and stuff during the winter and maybe go plant some stuff once the snow melts and... yeah."
  64. >Jacky looks over all of the plants
  65. >she looks back at you
  66. >" DO need a friend, don't ya."
  67. >you nod after a minute
  68. >she wasn't exactly nice but she wasn't wrong
  69. >" about w'talk over a pint, aye?"
  70. >You look at her and narrow your eyes
  71. "I don't have beer. But I have whisky."
  72. >you don't know what happened next but you're on your back
  73. >she's on your chest, stamping her hooves on your ribs
  74. >"Ay we'll be t'best'o'friends, just you wait! Set'm'up and I'll knock'm'down!"
  75. >while you could breath, you didn't get the chance to tell her that the whisky was Japanese
  77. >+1 whisky bottle
  78. >Jacky bounces around you at the sight of it, humming another irish drinking song
  79. >no, not that one, the other one
  80. >you walk back to your room, also grabbing a bottle of v8 smoothie to wash it down and cleanse the palette
  81. >modest size, enough to hold a desk and a queen size mattress
  82. >you step over an old folded blanket and collar and expertly fold your leg down to sit down on the squishy haven
  83. >Jacky, in tow, leaps onto the springless bed with a "wuf" when she lands
  84. "Now it's important to drink in moderation... don't do anything I wouldn't do."
  85. >As soon as you finish, you pop off the top and give it a solid gulp
  86. >it's probably more than a shot but it is enough to fill your mouth complete
  87. >delicious, and you weren't even that big a whisky fan
  88. >"Alright, y'had y'drink, share the wealth lad! Who knows how long it's been since I a drink?"
  89. >against your judgement, you give the possibly inorganic pony the bottle by lowering it and tipping the neck toward her
  90. >she lurches up and takes the entire top of the bottle!
  91. >her entire front dips down as she loudly gulps down
  92. >once
  93. >twice
  94. >thrice
  95. >defaq
  96. >you level the bottle up and take it away from the most assuredly alcoholic
  97. >was she "programmed" like this?
  98. >she lets out a vaguely raspy roar of success
  99. >whatever you drank, she at least tripled it
  100. "...huh. Nice. Good thing you don't drive anywhere."
  101. >you pop the top back onto the bottle and chase it with fruity v8
  102. "So... tell me about yourself."
  103. >Jacky sits down and rolls her tongue around, taking in the flavor
  104. >"I'll tell you that you have a very unique sense of taste of what good is, Anon."
  105. >she seemed to calm down, enough to sound like a normal person-horse-cartoon
  106. >"Y'ever find yourself stuck somewhere? Inna box, for instance?"
  107. >she gives you a queer glare and you shake your head
  108. >except that one time but now wasn't the time or place
  110. >"Well I was. And I dinnot like it a bit. It was hard to breath in. I didn't know where or when I was. I didn't talk because everyone who spoke was in another language."
  111. >she shakes as if getting water off of her coat
  112. >"Good stuff, now that I let it sink in..."
  113. >you stay silent, not exactly sure of how to butt in
  114. >"...y'know, I know."
  115. "Know what?"
  116. >"I know I'm not who y'wanted."
  117. "You're kinda cooler. I don't know what I expected."
  118. >another awkward silence
  119. >you meant that, though you didn't expect yourself to
  120. "What all do you want, now that you're... uh, free?"
  121. >She gives you another queer look, more of shock than anything else
  122. >"...maaaaaaaaaaybe another drink, eh? We're too sober to talk like this."
  123. >good point
  124. >the top squeaks off and you give yourself another mouthful of glorious nippon paint thinner
  125. >while swallowing it bit by bit, you tilt the bottle over to her
  126. >she rests her front hooves on your leg and you raise the bottle to tilt it toward
  127. >gulp
  128. >gulp
  129. >ok, she's going to drink you dry at this rate
  130. >you pull away the bottle, mouth empty but tongue tingly
  131. "Good thing I'm not driving too."
  132. >you're such a responsible drinker
  134. >she gulps it all down and her head rockets from side to side like a dog drying off
  135. >Japanese-flavored horse spittle hits your arm and shirt
  136. >"Thassa good brand y'got there, lad. Y'know, I don't think I've ever had a real drink before. But y'ever get t'urge t'do something without knowing why?"
  137. "Sure, most people do."
  138. >"Y'say that, but you didn't come from a box, did you?"
  139. >silence
  140. >you point at her with your hand while she points at you with her hoof
  141. >both of you give a knowing "ahhhhhhh!"
  142. "Maybe I don't know what you mean, exactly. But I guess I got a good idea."
  143. >without thinking, your hand goes up to pet her mane
  144. >it is rather soft
  145. >She gives your arm the queer eye but leans into it ever so lightly
  146. "See? I can't control myself now."
  147. >you smile at her and she smiles back
  148. >"Aye, fair enough. So, what about you? Y'gonna tell me y'life story now so we connect on some conveniently deeper level?"
  149. >you give a single "ha"
  150. "Man and pony, together again under the umbrella of alcohol and remorse at life circumstances.. isn't that enough?"
  151. >you share a laugh but you give a slight sigh at the end
  152. >"G'n lad, y'earned y'piece to speak."
  153. >you oblige and tell her about your life now
  154. >and your life then
  155. >your friends
  156. >your lack of family
  157. >how utterly screwed you were before you moved for work
  158. >and how even your current work doesn't pay you all that much compared to anyone with even basic connections
  159. >and that you used to have a buddy
  160. "I ain't got no buddy, but my buddy boy."
  161. >that was your saying to him
  162. >until it happened, and you were left with no buddy
  163. >then you found out about possibly satanic witch-powered ponies that were friends that were unlike anything else out there
  164. >while talking all about it, she lays her head on your lap so you can pet her
  165. >you're sober enough, though your head swims ever so slightly
  166. >she seems pleased with herself, her nodding sluggish and slow
  167. >when you finish, you feel a bitter taste in your throat and pressure behind your eyes
  169. >you clear your throat, fighting back the pressure
  170. >you've had a lot of pressure, and it left you regrettably sterner and more solid because of it
  171. >maybe numb
  172. >but maybe a technicolor southern pony would be your way to maybe reconnect with happier times
  173. >when your friends made slightly more of an effort to talk to you
  174. >when you didn't have to worry about living out of your car
  175. >when you didn't know if you would keep going despite it all or if you would just call it good and be done
  176. >"Done, eh... until we finish that bottle, y'aint endin'anythin'nless it's t'damned bottle of fruity juice y'got."
  177. >her tone is far softer than before, and while the words are a bit more slurred than before, the caring words make you nod
  178. >the pressure behind the eyes come up again
  179. "Yeah... so that's the long and short of it. I'm not really hurting for much. But I'm kinda just spinning my wheel. Working now to work for more, to work for more and then... well, until it just ends, you know?"
  180. >Jacky stays silent, but you can feel her give a long exhale
  181. >"Y'know, lad, I can't imagine having a life like that. I have these memories of having friends but obviously th'aint here, now are they. An'when I was in t'damned box, I wished that they would be there t'help me. And th'never found me."
  182. >she sighs, nudging against your hand that's been left on auto-pilot pet mode
  183. >"But y'did. You did. Not them. That counts for something, now don't it?"
  184. >you can imagine what it was like, in the way that you can visualize and imagine Harlan Ellison's story
  185. "Yeah..."
  186. >you both remain silent in the room, letting all of the words said sink into your brains, burning spots into the grey matter until they become moments you can't forget even if you tried
  187. >the shame of it all and being left vulnerable leaves an even bitter taste in your mouth
  188. " in light of all of that, you haven't ever seen a video game, right?"
  189. >no reply
  190. >you look down and she's knocked out on your lap
  192. >while Jacky slept you occasionally took more liquid sleep, still petting her mane
  193. >she kinda had a weird, sterile smell of cardboard and some sort of resin
  194. >what was with the tiny hat too
  195. >was it even a cowboy hat?
  196. >you shrug and lean against the wall behind you
  197. >you could hear her breath
  198. >you missed being in a room and hearing someone else breathing
  199. >pressure behind the eyes welled up again
  200. >you cleared your throat and took a swig of the v8
  201. ...
  202. >you yawn and realize you actually dozed off
  203. >your hand is on the bed, and not rustled in orange mane
  204. "Jacky?"
  205. >you clear your throat of morning congestion and stumbled off of the bed, feeling your joints pop and creak
  206. >walking back out into the living room, you see her staring at her box
  207. >the tiny hat you thought about isn't the only thing she came with
  208. >bonnet
  209. >beret
  210. >toque
  211. >a fucking matador hat?
  212. >even a ushanka
  213. >you didn't even know what a ushanka was, yet there it was, with a tomato on the front of it
  214. "...Good morning, Jacky. Y'know, I'm surprised you could drink that much. Do you... gotta go to the bathroom or something?"
  215. >faint inhale revealed that she hadn't just randomly relieved herself
  216. >she turns her head to see you and smiles "Oui, bonjour Anon"
  217. >wat
  218. "Wat."
  219. >she shakes herself and stands up, "I said bonjour Anon! Do you have ze sleepiness still?"
  220. >she seems pretty pleased with herself
  221. "...didn't you sound different yesterday?"
  222. >you question whether or not you should've said that, since you're not sure why she would have changed
  223. >she has this expression that comes up from her face
  224. >not sad
  225. >but not really that happy either
  226. >"I'm sorry... I'm still trying to figure out which one is me."
  227. >you look over her and notice more of the box, now that it was tipped over
  228. >"New and Improved, Bold Poney!" "I really talk!" "Europe and US approved!" "不得转售" "I like all kinds of things!"
  230. >you both look over the box and the spilled contents
  231. >different hats for different nationalities
  232. >and even different accents
  233. >what the hell were those moon runes even?
  234. >you sit down next to her and resume petting her, like you were last night
  235. "Nice hats. I know a game you'd be into if you're a collector."
  236. >you don't look for a reaction but you hear a bit of a reaction
  237. >possibly a quarter of a laugh
  238. >"I know I'm supposed to have an accent. I've heard the show before, you know."
  239. >you can't find it in yourself to say anything quippy or somewhat intelligent
  240. >"I know I'm supposed to be kinda rowdy, stubborn, and that I'm supposed to sound funny."
  241. >now that she's speaking without an accent, her voice sounds different
  242. >not even really like Applejack, even if you ignored the obvious accent change
  243. "...does this mean you didn't actually like the booze?"
  244. >you did lose a lot of it last night and it wasn't cheap
  245. >"It tasted kinda... woody. But it did taste good and I was thirsty."
  246. "I can get you something better if you want."
  247. >would it be polite to offer it in a bowl or a cup?
  248. >what do you even do with the box
  249. >what do you do with the hats
  250. >they don't even fit you
  251. "How about this... you got hats. Why don't you try them on and see what feels natural?"
  252. >you feel her head rotate and turn to you, though you focus on looking ahead
  253. "I mean it. I already said, you're actually kinda cooler than I thought. And you nailed down the 'angry ginger' bit pretty well."
  254. >she was technically a ginger with the color scheme, to be fair
  255. "Maybe you just do whatever, based off of your mood. Or maybe you just sound like how you do now."
  256. >silence
  257. >more head petting because you lack discipline
  258. >"...Are the Irish and Scottish really that closely related?"
  259. >you notice a small map on the box listing off the countries
  260. >the highlighted ones have a small print saying "hat included"
  261. >they share the same hat
  262. "Probably."
  263. >"Does the accent really matter?"
  264. "Probably not. Slur your words and it's fine."
  266. >after more silence, you clear your throat
  267. "Well, regardless, you're here. And I bet you'd like some breakfast too, right?"
  268. >you sound rather nonplussed about all of this
  269. >it IS a big deal but you've almost only ever dealt with big deals
  270. >"You don't mind?"
  271. "Should I? You're home now, so all that matters now is that you just need to get comfy. With me, with here, with yourself, whatever you need to do."
  272. >you speak these words without hesitation or thought
  273. >you've spoken words similar to these before
  274. >they've helped before
  275. >you stifle a frown at the passing thought that maybe she wouldn't want this to be her home
  276. >you look at the box and the spilled packing peanuts
  277. >you wanna ask her to clean up since she made the mess but now wasn't the time
  278. "Well... I'm gonna get up and get started on some stuff for breakfast. I normally lack the discipline and responsibility to eat properly, but I can do that with the main excuse of fixing you something so everyone wins."
  279. >you don't really try to be funny or goofy, you just speak without thinking into it
  280. >you say that, but you stay sitting right where you are, at Jacky's side
  281. >your hand still petting her mane, occasionally scratching behind her right ear
  282. >she hasn't said anything but you can tell that she's just staring at the box
  283. >you are too, outside of the occasional glance at her, to remind yourself that you aren't talking to yourself
  284. >again
  285. >maybe she's thinking
  286. >her expression isn't unreadable, mostly because you don't know how to take notes regarding colorful horse faces
  287. >before you know it, enough time has passed to the point that the sun stopped bursting through the nearby window
  288. >still no reply
  289. >still no breakfast
  290. >still not complaining
  291. >"Anon... I'm hungry."
  292. >she finally speaks
  293. >a croak that was so quiet that you're pretty sure it was just your imagination
  295. >you nod anyway and stop petting her
  296. >you're pretty sure your fingers have turned into pure brush at this point, but you can stand to stop molesting her head
  297. >you stand up, stretching your legs before standing up fully
  298. >she really is pretty small compared to you
  299. >maybe would be a bit above your waist if she were on her hind legs
  300. >the hats didn't really seem to fit her either, at a glance
  301. >some seemed big enough for your head, some seemed like they'd be a party hat for her
  302. >the less you think about it, the better
  303. >lord knows what's going through her mind about all of it, so the least you can do is be a rock
  304. >and fix the god damned breakfast already
  305. >thankfully your fridge is stocked
  306. >bacon, eggs, even some apple cinnamon oatmeal
  307. >it takes more waiting than anything else, so you occasionally poke your head out around the corner to watch your Jack
  308. >after your third peek, she adjusted herself from sitting and staring to laying and... still staring
  309. >occasionally she'll look around and study the room for what it is, mostly bare and fairly spacious due to it being more a rectangle
  310. >focusing more on finishing than keeping clean, you eventually produce a massive tupperware container's worth of oatmeal and two large plates that each have a five-egg omelette and four strips of bacon each
  311. >you ate at least three strips while they were cooking because you're more hungry animal than man
  312. >you lean down to put a plate in front of her, a plate next to her, and then the bowl of oatmeal between
  313. >you sit down and successfully fight the urge to touch the top of her skull
  314. "I got a variety of stuff. For eggs... just a bit of salt added. I kinda like red pepper flakes with mine and I don't want to burn your tongue off or anything."
  315. >you sound a bit upbeat, mostly because you already had delicious bacon
  316. >her ears perk up and she sits up, looking all over it
  317. >"Is this... all mine?"
  318. "Well not all of the oatmeal, no... but if you ate only most of that, I'd be fine with it."
  320. >you both begin to eat with little ceremony
  321. >for a bit
  322. >after you both taste browned egg, all pretense of civility ends and pure feasting begins
  323. >bacon soon follows
  324. >you quickly pour some oatmeal onto your plate and she dunks her head into the bowl to devour what was left
  325. >jesus christ what an animal
  326. >both of you
  327. >good lord, don't mix your oatmeal with bacon grease
  328. >before too long, you flop onto your back, more full than a pre-oven Thanksgiving turkey
  329. >you feel something land on your lap
  330. >It's Jacky's head
  331. >a glance shows that she copied you completely
  332. >"Gaw-lee Anon, that was a good'un."
  333. >another accent
  334. "Oh hell yeah it was."
  335. >you hear her licking her face clean
  336. >makes sense, she didn't even use the fork you had in the oatmeal
  337. >you can't act like it didn't work, especially when all of your spoons were in the sink, along with half of the knives
  338. "So, penny for your thoughts?"
  339. >"What's a penny?"
  340. >you purse your lips... not a bad question
  341. >"Thanks for the meal, pal. You're a real friend, see?"
  342. >oh god a bad Chicago accent
  343. >like that purple foot from that Courage episode
  344. "Oh god... just don't send me to start swimming with the fishes and we're fine."
  345. >you pat her chest with your hand without thinking
  346. >not that she minds
  347. "Let's let our stomachs settle... and then we'll clean up. Deal?"
  348. >you yawn as you finish, somehow content enough to lay on a badly carpeted floor
  349. >before you can stop yourself, you feel your senses fading out
  350. >must've still had some of the alcohol in your system
  351. >the last thing you feel is something brushing up against your face
  352. >it feels warm
  353. >it smells like cardboard, your bed, and apple oatmeal
  355. >you eventually wake up again, finally clear-headed from the excessive drinking
  356. >you don't normally do so much but it was a bit of a time to celebrate
  357. >you exhale and open your eye, only to see orange
  358. >these aren't your glasses
  359. >you blow out your mouth and the tail flickers way
  360. >"Y'finally up anon?"
  361. "Mmhm."
  362. >not completely yet but you know you aren't keen on enjoying the floor any longer than you have to
  363. >the plates and bowl are completely licked clean, which should make things... easier?
  364. >is it better or worse that the only thing to wash off is pony slobber?
  365. >you stretch your arms out and almost immediately your right hand gets headbutted
  366. >"Howdy par'ner, ready to skedaddle?"
  367. >something resembling a proper southern accent?
  368. >Jacky seems pleased as pie with herself
  369. >even her face is cleaned up
  370. "Yeah... yeah, let's get this cleaned up, yeah? Tackle the box, I'll tackle the kitchen. If there's any bacon left, let's split it when all's done."
  371. >you aren't completely sure there is any bacon left but it's good enough incentive to make the cuddle-me-Jacky trot in place
  372. "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand go."
  373. >insert montage here
  374. >you even play some comfy music on your phone
  375. >you enjoy singing along with some of it while you hear more quiet "ba ba ba babababa" go along with the tune
  376. >after a while, everything is finished!
  377. >box is set up, the packing peanuts are gathered, dishes are cleaned of saliva, and even the stove top is clean!
  378. >and there is exactly one slice of bacon left over as a reward
  379. >a man of your word, you split it and eat it at the same time, savoring the meaty, greasy fruit of labor
  380. "So... I got an idea."
  381. >and what an idea it is
  382. >going back to the bedroom, you boot up your laptop and start a very particular movie
  383. >not your favorite, but it'll show her exactly what you come from
  384. >technically, movies were hardly ever realistic interpretations of history
  385. >For A Fistful of Dollars
  386. "Aw yeah, prepare for the greatness that is... Squint Eastwood."
  388. >the title and credits roll at the beginning of the movie
  389. >I drag Jacky onto my lap and wrap her up in a loose hug
  390. "This is the good stuff right here."
  391. >The uniquely western theme makes her ears perk up and her eyes focus
  392. >time passes by and the movie plays out without pause
  393. >the entire time, you're both enthralled
  394. >even though you know the story inside and out
  395. >when it finally finishes, Jacky looks up at you, having gotten comfortable in your lap
  396. >"Holy shoot, anon... can you really hammer out a plate like that?"
  397. >you give a sage nod
  398. "The secret is for me to know and for you to find out, young cowpoker. There's a sequel, you know."
  399. >her jaw drops
  400. "You know what's next."
  401. >For A Few Dollars More starts up
  402. >similar music and opening
  403. >this time all of her hooves move on your lap like a cat kneading to the tune of the music
  404. >the events of the sequel play out, causing little remarks or exclamations
  405. >at the crescendo of every action scene, she growls and tries to sound threatening
  406. >"Aim for the heart..."
  407. >she doesn't really know if anyone shot actually got shot in the heart or not but it did bad ass
  408. >eventually that, too, ends
  409. >by the end of it, she bounds off of your lap and runs around in a circle.
  410. >"YEEEEEEEEEEEE-HAW, anon! That was some rootin' tootin' gawd-awful shootin'!"
  411. >she expects an answer but goes ramrod stiff as soon as you squint at her
  412. >she squints back
  413. >you slowly raise a hand, rubbing your index finger and thumb together
  414. "This room ain't big enough for the both of us, pilgrim..."
  415. >...
  416. >...
  417. >...
  418. >DRAW
  419. >you whip your hand to the front but get cut off with her barking a loud "BANG" while pointing her hoof at you
  420. >theheavyisdead.jpg
  421. >you fling yourself back, kicking your legs up only to go limp
  422. "G...y'got me... bury me with my moneyyyy..."
  423. >you gurgle out one last breath, stifling a short cough to clear your throat
  424. >"Aim for the heart, partner..." she growls with as much gravel as she could muster from a bag of marshmallows
  426. >over the next few days you and Jacky hang out more
  427. >there is the occasional goofy accent she attempts but you don't mind them
  428. >one time she slid from Italian to full Swedish and ended up nearly Russian
  429. >you even join in once you think of ways to compliment them
  430. >you watch more westerns together, running through every Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and John Wayne movie you can legally torrent through the most official and commercially approved channels
  431. >not because you want her to be like the Applejack you were expecting, but because you just really like the movies
  432. >you have someone to share that with now
  433. >you haven't thrown out the box yet, for some reason
  434. >all of the odd hats are still in there
  435. >Jacky occasionally stares at the box, like she's trying to figure something out
  436. >if she has, you haven't been told about it
  437. >you eat together as if it were nothing
  438. >you even showed her where the bathroom was and... from what you know, she took to using it fine.
  439. >you're fine with not thinking about it too hard
  440. >when you sleep, you do so at the same time
  441. >the first night that didn't include alcohol, she laid at your side like it was natural
  442. >the second night, you were already back to back and using the same pillow
  443. >when you had to go to work, you told her about it and what you did
  444. >and that if you come back smelling a bit like grease or ether, it was normal
  445. >not preferable, but normal
  446. >you also set up your laptop so it was easier to mess with for a miniature horse
  447. >to a degree
  448. >it was enough to access movies and stuff anyway
  449. >you still feel a little bad when you left in the morning
  450. >did you need to put out water for her? Dried food? She wasn't a dog and she wasn't some animal
  451. >she was a toy
  452. >that thought didn't sit right with you, but what other answers were there?
  453. >you knew there would be responsibilities but you just didn't think that much about it at the time
  455. >you occasionally send a message through your Discord to a backup account
  456. >it's a bit one-way but you're able to let her know how you're doing and when you'd be back
  457. >you do get one reply, around noon
  459. >you think she was giving it a shot but it didn't turn out for the best
  460. >you eventually return home and hear the sound of... Toy Story?
  461. >you collected a lot of old animated movies as well for your collection but you didn't think she'd be able to manage around with a mouse
  462. >you walk into your room after stripping your winter outer layers and boots
  463. >the mouse is shiny from a distance with slobber of unconfirmed origin
  464. >"And YOU, my friend, are responsible for my rendezvous with Star Command!"
  465. >you notice that she's completely immersed in it
  466. >eating chips?
  467. >did you leave that bag of chips for her?
  468. >you could've sworn they were on top of the fridge
  470. >oh no
  471. >"You aren't the real Buzz Lightyear, you're a... you're an action figure!"
  472. >you wanna draw her attention away from the movie but you don't want to be a dick more than you want to get those words out of her head
  473. >"You are a child's PLAYTHING."
  474. >"You are a sad, strange little man. And you have my pity. Farewell."
  475. >you almost expected something sad but instead you hear a guffaw that came from a mouth full of chips
  476. >you shrug and sit down on the mattress, joining her
  477. "Chip thief, thy name be Anon."
  478. >you reach around the relaxed pony and grab a chip
  479. >bag seems chewed open
  480. >maybe it was at the top of the fridge earlier
  481. >"You have acquired fantastic sustenance, though they required substantial force to be freed from their packaging."
  482. >wat
  483. >what was that half-assed Buzz Lightyear impersonation
  484. >it sounded like if Tim Allen had been turned into a chaotic good cleric loli
  485. "I'll... keep that in mind. Didn't break anything?"
  486. >"Negative."
  487. >well alright then
  489. >you watch the rest of the movie with her, grabbing an extra pillow to have on your lap
  490. >the movie ends on a good note
  491. >freed from the clutches of the screen, Jacky curls her neck around to view you
  492. >"That was a funny movie. Do toys really do stuff like that when no one's looking?"
  493. >it is a very uncanny question to be asked, and you are really not sure how to answer it
  494. >but you keep a good poker face
  495. "Honestly? I kinda thought so, myself... would explain how they get lost on their own. But they're usually found soon without any issues too, you know?"
  496. >she nods, eyes wandering across your room
  497. >your desk and chair are covered with papers and extra blankets, respectively
  498. >your dresser has some things on top of it displayed in an orderly pattern
  499. >your closet is more or less in good shape
  500. >no toys to be seen, however
  501. >"Where are your toys, anyhow?"
  502. >you keep a poker face
  503. "Well... they're in storage. Climate-controlled too."
  504. >"Boxed up?"
  505. "Most of them, yeah."
  506. >"Why?"
  507. "To keep them safe. And my mom said that it's important to keep those around so you could give them to your kids when you have them. Well, if I ever have them. If and when I guess."
  508. >"Was it like the box I was in?"
  509. "Less packing peanuts, they're mostly all together in one place. Lot of little metal cars too. I had a lot of those."
  510. >"Am I a toy like in the movie?"
  511. "No. I don't think so."
  512. >"What am I then?"
  513. >the rapid fire question and answer session finally came to a stop
  514. >you weren't really thinking of your answers because they didn't seem to relate to her
  515. >but you were worried it would come to a question like that
  516. >you really can't say the wrong thing
  517. >she's smart
  518. >really smart, for anyone
  519. "I don't know."
  520. >you have a few ideas that she might be
  521. "I wasn't really sure what to expect, like maybe you could be a robot or something."
  522. >there wasn't advertisements about AI or anything
  523. "But you are Jacky. And you're my friend."
  524. >you wouldn't accept that answer if you were her
  526. >Jacky stops asking questions after you tell her that you're her friend
  527. >she looks at the laptop screen, the scenes still fresh in her mind
  528. >"Sparks... Dash. I... don't think I've ever met them?"
  529. >she speaks slowly as if it hurts her to say those
  530. >like hearing her own voice admit that took away a security blanket
  531. >"Like, maybe they're just... I don't know."
  532. >her ears fold down
  533. >she manages to keep a straight face but her voice is trembling
  534. >what can you say?
  535. >the memories might be fake
  536. >you don't know her exact origin, either
  537. >maybe she's actually met them
  538. >maybe it was just her continuity
  539. >maybe it's part of something you might even could gauge is part of her defect
  540. >because she is one
  541. >not as advertised
  542. >not what you paid for
  543. >not what you were expecting
  544. >but what you wanted
  545. >you put your hand on her shoulder
  546. >do horses have shoulders?
  547. "Don't worry about it, Jack. You are who you are, and nothing can change that. For good and for bad, you're you. And I'm glad you are."
  548. >she looks at you, her horse faced facade cracking
  549. "I'm half my mom and I'm half my dad. Biologically, even. I've had one of them dislike me because I was half of the other person They said so.. I don't know if it was just a reflex on their part or maybe I reminded them of something. But that stuck with me. It was hard to deal with. You can't really just logic or reason that away, you know? It goes deeper than that."
  550. >you feel something tug at the back of your head
  551. >you feel a little light-headed
  552. >almost like you're kinda zoning out of your own head
  553. >it's not an unfamiliar feeling but it is weird
  555. >you continue despite yourself
  556. "You... maybe you are based off of someone else. But you aren't them. If you wanna think about it, the pony you're similar to.... maybe she's kinda like your mom, you know? You're half her, in certain ways. But you're your own person. Horse. Herson. Porse."
  557. >you frown and narrow your eyes
  558. "You are your own, Jacky. And I like that. I really like that about you. I can't give you any answers, but I can tell you that it doesn't have to matter."
  559. >you look at the laptop screen, the only illumination in the room
  560. >she looks at it too
  561. >you both remain, borderline still as a painting
  562. >both of you look at the different open folders, the shortcuts on the desktop, the wallpaper, the date
  563. >anything to look at that would extend the silence
  564. "Gimme a chip, Jack."
  565. >she turns a little and looks at you out of the corner of her eye
  566. >she rustles her head into the bag and pulls back, a few poking out from her mouth.
  567. "Grassy ass."
  568. >You pluck a few from between her lips with your fingers and chomp them down
  569. >it doesn't really click to you as an odd way to exchange snacks
  570. "Wanna watch more movies?"
  571. >a pause
  572. >"you said that western had a second sequel, right?"
  573. >you look down at her
  574. >and squint your eyes
  575. >she takes a second before she starts to squint back
  576. >your hand on her shoulder raises up, index finger and thumb rubbing together
  577. >she licks her lips of chip debris and visibly shakes her front right hoof
  578. >...
  579. >...
  580. >DRAW
  582. >The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
  583. >one of the greatest movies of all time
  584. >after winning in the draw and exclaiming the obvious that she is dead, and that it was not a big surprise, you got up and proudly strutted toward the kitchen
  585. >the chips were adequate but drinks were required
  586. "Go use the toilet if you gotta, gonna get us some drinks."
  587. >and to check the damage to the fridge
  588. >you check the side of the fridge while contemplating what would do well for the night
  589. >defaq
  590. >a pair of hoof prints have actually pushed into the side of the wall of the snack containment box
  591. >maybe a few millimeters but you can feel the dents
  592. >not an apple tree but you're still impressed with what she did
  593. >why did she have to kick it though
  594. >you grab a half gallon, quarter-filled container of cranberry juice and fill it with water
  595. >delicious watered down juice
  596. >while contemplating whether or not you should add another drink or snack to the mix you hear the toilet flush
  597. >...
  598. >...
  599. >did she wash her hooves?
  600. "Alright, less thinking more preparing!"
  601. >you drop down on the bed while Jacky turns around herself a few times, stamping down half of a pillow and the mattress
  602. >scooting the screen back a bit, you go to the right folder and double click
  603. >before it starts up proper, you make sure that the screen is maximized
  604. >from the first whistle, the room is filled with orange from the opening credits
  605. >the whistling and gunshots immediately make Jacky restless, shifting around herself while the title comes into view via cannon firing into the background
  606. >then the music swells
  607. >the vocalizations join in
  608. >more gunshots
  609. >you're almost afraid to tell her that you have a gun in the closet because she may try to shoot it at everyone
  610. >by the end of the opening credits, she's enthralled in it
  611. >...
  612. >only for everything to be silent and for the scene to focus on three men walking into a bar
  613. >CRASH
  614. >enter The Ugly
  616. >the movie continues, much to Jacky's amazement
  617. >you've seen the movie dozens of times but it never fails to captivate
  618. >but you're almost more keen on watching her reactions
  619. >she's like a kid finding out about Santa Claus and Wes Craven at the same time, leading to some unusual world view that Santa Claws was coming to town and that he left mutated presents for kids who knew better than to split up a group while investigating
  620. >enter The Bad
  621. >the shots through the pillow made her visibly jump
  622. >you could tell that she wanted to say something but couldn't break the spell of the movie
  623. >enter The Good
  624. >relatively good, anyway
  625. >Jacky gave a queer eye at the screen when she saw two of them acting like enemies, only to split money after
  626. >until they don't
  628. >Jacky's eyes nearly pop out and dart to you
  629. >"W-what did he just say there?"
  630. >you smirk and hold up your finger to your mouth
  631. >The Ugly, Tuco--your favorite one by the way--causes the occasional chuckle out of her
  632. >she's shocked by his actions since he is an obvious criminal, but he's funny
  633. >even Blondie isn't all that good, making her give his scenes a weird look
  634. >Angel Eyes though
  635. >almost every scene he's in, a chill goes up her spine
  636. >the glare and tone he has obviously freaks her out beyond any reasonable level
  637. >not enough to ask for a break but it's obvious that she doesn't exactly have the level of bravery to look him in the eyes when he glares at the camera
  638. >as the movie goes on, you both relax against one another, watching the trio go about their ventures
  639. >sometimes independent of one another
  640. >sometimes against each other
  641. >sometimes even cooperating!
  642. >then it comes to the church scene, after Blondie saved his own hide by knowing a name
  643. >while Tuco knows a place
  644. >one of the most classic saves a hero could make
  645. >then the scene between Tuco and his little brother, Pablo
  646. >Tuco's cheerfulness and jovial humor made her smile
  647. >until they argued about their paths in life
  649. >you could hear Jacky give a faint whimper at the end of their conversation
  650. >she obviously has no family
  651. >no siblings
  652. >no cousins
  653. >no farm
  654. >no mom or dad
  655. >but she has you
  656. >but you aren't them
  657. >you couldn't be, even if you tried
  658. >"Even a tramp like me, no matter what happens, I know there's always a brother who won't refuse me a bowl of soup."
  659. >you give her flank a pet during the following scene
  660. >Tuco is obviously lying about his encounter with his brother
  661. >he probably won't ever see or speak to his brother again
  662. >his parents are dead
  663. >his wife, or wives, probably don't exist to him anymore
  664. >yet he's the same as he was throughout the last hour, smiling and proud of what he says he has
  665. >you don't make a deal of it but you can see her shed some tears
  666. >the movie continues still, on a roller coaster that has gone from jovial, to action-packed, to terrifying and even heart crushing
  667. >then the bridge
  668. >and the Union captain
  669. >while she's seen smaller encounters before, the sight of hundreds of men rushing to face death by cannon fire, bayonet or bullet make her tense up
  670. >for someone who's probably only ever seen violence through the exposure you gave, it can't have been easy to watch without wanting to ask so many questions
  671. >but the money's on the other side of the river
  672. >even the mention of how much the money was made her ears perk up
  673. >you watch silently when she sheds more tears, this time for the Captain
  674. >and the young man soon after
  675. >until finally the finale
  676. >Tuco, Blondie, and Angel Eyes
  677. >three men staring each other down in a stand off
  678. >the music swells as every hero and villain observe one another
  679. >she squints her eyes as everyone else does
  680. >at the end of their journey, and her journey through the movie, she keeps her eyes squinted and focused, even when it comes to The Bad's killer glare
  681. >she readjusts herself, her front right hoof shaking by some reflex
  682. >the tension is building so thick that you can feel yourself wanting to join in
  684. >thumb and index finger rubbing together, you both watch as the tension increases to the point that nothing else matters
  685. >POW
  686. >Angel Eyes is shot
  687. >POW
  688. >Angel Eyes is dead
  689. >POW, POW
  690. >Jacky stares in disbelief at how easily a gun and hat could be shot from such distance!
  691. >after the gold is collected, and the last gun is fired, there's only one thing left to do
  692. >a hanging?!
  693. >Jacky looks terrified as she watches Tuco struggle to maintain himself, screaming and whimpering at the notion that he might really be at the end
  694. >POW
  695. >Tuco's scream goes back to his given name, The Ugly
  696. >Angel Eyes's body is shown once more, The Bad
  697. >the smirking anti-hero Blondie, The Good
  699. >the song from the beginning starts up again, signaling that their journey has come to an end
  700. >almost immediately Jacky pounces up like a cat and tackles your side with the force that very easily could have put that dent in your fridge
  701. >stamping on the side of your ribs, she looks like a pony possessed
  703. >she stamps into you at the speed of her rhetoric, like an expert DDR player that lost a hundred pounds by playing that little butterfly song and Feel Good Inc
  704. >you can almost feel a rib start to crack under the strain
  705. >caught up in the excitement, you grab her sides and violently shake her
  707. >the combination of excitement leads to both of you babbling to each other in increasingly unsafe levels
  708. >she's unable to take it all in without questions
  709. >her energy is contagious and you like using the time to make fun of her
  711. >after a while longer of her exclamations while getting more aware of the silliness of the situation, she whips her head around along with your shaking, making her head loll around like a ragdoll
  712. >she even slips into a southern accent, then Mexican like Tuco
  713. >by the end of it, you're both tired
  714. >finally shaken enough to satisfy James Bond's toughest martini recipe, she collapses on your chest
  715. >her eyes derped out from being so dizzied, she giggles and tries to stare right ahead
  716. >it doesn't work
  717. >"That was a fun movie. There's more, right?"
  718. >you pet her head, sighing
  719. "I wish... there's more movies like it. But that's the end of the trilogy."
  720. >she gave her head a violent shake until she could see straight again
  721. >"That was crazy, anon..."
  722. "Yeah... it's been a while since I first saw it. But it still gets me."
  723. >you both lay there in place, letting the adrenaline die down
  724. >neither of you grabbed a drink or snack during the entire three hour journey
  725. >"...wanna watch it again?"
  726. "Oh hell yes, little pony momma."
  727. >it begins
  728. >AGAIN
  729. >you both stay up far too long, watching it at least two more times, leading to a nine hour marathon
  730. >you fucking nerd
  731. >correction
  732. >you two fucking nerds
  734. >Cooking with Jacky
  735. >starring you!
  736. >and Jacky!
  737. >and an oven pizza!
  738. >you haven't gone to the store since she came, which isn't terrible because you like to keep things stocked up
  739. >you also question how you can excuse away walking into a store with a tiny talking horse
  740. >worse yet, one who might pretend to shoot people if they give her the wrong look
  741. >oh well, you can burn that bridge when you get to it
  742. >you open up the creaky door and slide it in
  743. "And then you just pop it in like that and... what, twenty minutes?"
  744. >you clap your hands and nod, proud of yourself
  745. >her reaction though
  746. >less than impressed
  747. >"I thought we were gonna start cooking?"
  748. "Well... it's technically cooking..."
  749. >"Yeah, and you're technically a dork. So what do we do while we wait?"
  750. >that's a good question
  751. >the last week or two have gone by in a flash
  752. >movies, serious talks, booze
  753. >neither of you have really gone outside
  754. >she hasn't even seen any other humans outside of you
  755. >no one has texted or called you in weeks as is
  756. >fuck, it feels good to have a social life
  757. >you lean against the sink, looking down at her
  758. >she's really tiny now that you're not on your back and she's on top of you
  759. >you let that thought sit
  760. "So... what's with the tomato?"
  761. >she gives you a weird look
  762. >"What's a tomato?"
  763. >wat
  764. "Wat."
  765. >you point at her butt
  766. "Well the thing right there."
  767. >she looks at it and frowns, as if it was the first time she ever noticed it was there
  768. >"What th--when did that get there!?"
  769. >you shake your head and kneel down, poking at it
  770. >it looks like it has a certain sheen to it
  771. "Wait, hold on..."
  772. >you pick at it
  773. >the corner seems to fold a little
  774. >wat
  775. >you peel it off?
  776. >the fuck is this
  777. "It's a fucking decal..."
  778. >now that you get rid of it, she looks a lot more normal
  779. >since when is a yellow mini-horse normal, even to you
  780. >having never liked stickers, you stuff it in the trash
  782. >"So what was that from?"
  783. "I guess it would've been safer than a tattoo..."
  784. >the thought hits you
  785. >she doesn't exactly smell bad, but...
  786. "After we eat, how about a bath or something?"
  787. >her ears perk up
  788. >"Anon, now hold on now..."
  789. "What? A little scrub, soaping up, I got some oatmeal shampoo that I still have for dogs and--"
  790. >"We ain't close enough to bathe together, simmer down!"
  791. >wat
  792. >it takes you a few moments to get the implications
  793. >and they hit you
  794. "...Ok, that wasn't what I was referring to."
  795. >"But you were referring to bathing me."
  796. "Well sure."
  797. >"Which means..."
  798. "Which means...?"
  799. >"..."
  800. " know we already sleep together, right?"
  801. >she stamps her foot down
  802. >"Well that's different!"
  803. >you're not sure how but ok
  804. "Well alrighty then. Then after we eat, I'll set you up and you can go at it and all's good, right?"
  805. >she nods after a moment to think it over
  806. >though you didn't care much about it, she did remind you that she was a chick
  807. >a female
  808. >this puts a lot of new twists on the things you've done together
  809. >not bad twists, per say
  810. "Say, Jack."
  811. >your mind shifts gears again
  812. "Wanna go out?"
  813. >her expression of disbelief intensifies
  814. >"What the heck are you saying by that?"
  815. "Well nothing, but it'd be cool to go hang out outside one of these days. Lot of outdoor places so no one should pay any mind to you, just mind your manners and all that."
  816. >what's with her?
  817. >you do leave her alone throughout the day while she has access to the internet
  818. >you've found out that she's pretty good with a mouse, if not slow
  819. >"Well, I kinda wanna see what's what out there..."
  820. "See? I can dig it, you can dig it."
  821. >there's a bit of silence between the two
  822. >you don't have any problems talking to chicks but she's definitely a different type of one
  823. >but she still is one
  824. >technically
  825. " does this mean you want your own bed now?"
  826. >she scoffs
  827. >"Well hold on now, let's not do something we'll regret!"
  828. >you share a laugh
  830. >you're glad, though
  831. >hearing someone breath next to you is comfy
  832. >your buddy boy used to sleep a ton too, giving off that quiet white noise for hours at a time
  833. >she isn't a pet, though
  834. >of course she isn't
  835. >but does it mean it's good or bad that you see her as a girl and not just a friend?
  836. >does she see you as an obvious guy, too?
  837. >given the movies she watched, probably
  838. >you shrug at it all
  839. "Well, regardless, don't go complaining when you're cuddled up going 'oh anon, please keep me warm when it's so cold out, my little pony body can't handle it'!"
  840. >you sway back and forth, holding out your hands
  841. >she takes a flustered step back
  842. >"I-I do not sound like that!"
  843. "Oh right, how was it... 'oui oui anon, please do not let ze frost bite go to my, how do you say...'"
  844. >you adopt a bad French accent that hadn't aged well since your highschool days
  845. >"Hey, one time I did that! One!"
  846. "Yeah and it was enough to make me buy you a baguette and a bottle of wine!"
  847. >she was a little hot under the hoof before, but you did the unthinkable
  848. >you didn't tell her what a baguette was
  849. >"Alright you, come get it!"
  850. >she charges at you in full gallop!
  851. >for maybe four human steps
  852. >then butts her chest into your leg
  853. >you stare at each other, poker faces engaged
  854. >may you stand unshaken
  855. "...y'done?"
  856. >she takes a few steps back, avoiding eye contact
  857. >"'s a lot more effective when you're on your back."
  858. >...
  859. >you both point at each other giving a knowing "ahhhh!"
  860. "Well how about this, after our healthy, five-star dinner and after your bath, you can trample me all you like."
  861. >"Add on that High-Something-Drifter movie that you told me about and deal."
  862. >you haven't seen that movie in ages but you recall the twist
  863. >you're not sure how you're rubbing off on her, but she's becoming the major cinema dork
  864. >it's not the most productive trait to have, but you like that about her
  865. >hopefully she likes it too
  867. >over the next few days, something seems different
  868. >Jacky smells better, which is nice
  869. >now that she doesn't smell like cardboard, old food and the faint scent of tree, she has a somewhat neutral scent that has left it's mark in your apartment
  870. >especially your bed
  871. >though you teased her about it, she's seemed to take a liking to laying on your chest or near your head
  872. >you even taught her a random fact
  873. >if you pick her up and hold her to your ear, you can hear her scream
  874. >it was more out of surprise than anything else, but you had a laugh over it
  875. >she was rather light, too
  876. >but she did act a little bit more differently
  877. >or maybe she was just comfy
  878. >either way, you were happy
  879. >another week went came and went
  880. >you still had food to eat but the fridge and freezer was starting to get low
  881. "Hey Jack!"
  882. >you called out to the napping shin kicker
  883. "Kitchen's getting bare, wanna make a supply run with me?"
  884. >you heard something of a response but you had no clue what it was
  885. >"Up! Up up up, totally up."
  886. >you hear a drowsy voice and hear uneven clipping and clopping
  887. >along with what sounded like a head bonking into a wall
  888. >you peek your head around the corner, almost afraid of what you'll find
  889. >she looks cute, despite being tired
  890. >you haven't offered to brush her hair in a while with your hand in a bit so it looks a bit on the messy side
  891. "I said, you wanna grab miniature equine yum-yums with me?"
  892. >she gave a sleepy nod, yawning in the middle
  893. >speed it up and she'd make a good headbanger
  894. "Groovy, we'll take the car, drive over there, I'll hold them up and you go for the safe. Anyone tries to stop you, gun 'em down."
  895. >she kept nodding, giving an even bigger yawn
  896. "After that I'll ride you off into the sunset and make an innuendo about you being my little pony."
  897. >that woke her up
  898. >"Now what in Sam's Hill is that supposed to mean?!"
  899. "Sam's Hill isn't where we're going, nor is it Fiddler's Green or Hell, Michigan. We're going to the store. Maybe five minute drive, we go in, we grab our stuff, we go out, head back, good to go, yeah?"
  900. >she gives a thoughtful expression
  901. >"Well sure but how do I know what I'd want?"
  902. >that's a good question
  903. "We look around. There's not gonna be any rush to it, you know? Though maybe we should get you some saddlebags... would be nice to get a hand and keep it to one trip."
  904. >you stroke your chin while appraising her
  905. >maybe your old messenger bag from your highschool days could be useful if you altered it
  906. "Either way, let us go! To the food depository!"
  907. >"To the suppository!"
  908. >you both aim at the door in silence
  909. >you don't want to tell her what the difference is between what you said and what she said
  910. >after being reminded to get dressed, you both head out
  911. >it's the first time she's been outside and not in a cardboard prison
  912. >it won't be her last, you hope
  913. >you go to your car, a fine specimen of mediocre economy-class automobile, and present it with a slight pose
  914. >the talking shrimp with fur seems unimpressed
  915. >"Y'know Toy Story had cars in it too, right."
  916. >...
  917. >so much for making some grand gesture about what cars were and how they worked
  918. "Alright, you think you know everything... hop in."
  919. >you open the driver door and she actually manages to clear a jump into the seat rather easily
  920. >she then sits down and smiles at you
  921. "...well dang, nice. But hop your happy hind to the other side, I gotta drive"
  922. >you sit down as she hops to the other seat
  923. >outside of clipping her cloppers on the ground she's as clean as can be
  924. >besides, you haven't had the interior washed in a while
  925. >starting the car up, she finally takes the time to look out the window and into the wider world beyond her home
  926. >it's not an impressive sight, honestly
  927. >nearly a dozen other cars where you parked, some trees that have lost their leaves, and more apartment buildings that seem similar to yours
  928. >"This... ain't like those movies."
  929. >you shrug
  930. >it really isn't at all like where you grew up, where it would get so hot that the very earth cracked
  931. >where it would hail in the middle of a bright, shiny day and cause steam to erupt from the asphalt
  932. >where triple digit heat was the norm and snow was a sign that the town would be shut down for everyone's own safety
  933. "We're a long way from home... but it's where the work is. That's kinda all that matters here."
  934. >you creep out of your parking spot and head down the street, giving her more views of the rather dreary real world
  935. >"Why not just drive around and pick up jobs? Gun down some rascals and varmints, fight a war, move onto the next town and do it again?"
  936. >it sounds appealing to be honest
  937. "Well... life just isn't allowed to be like that anymore. I guess it's partially a reason why those movies got so popular, you know? A less complicated era. Not simple, but definitely not as much stuff holding you back."
  938. >"When are you going home?"
  939. >you don't answer
  940. >you aren't really sure how to answer
  941. >the scenery outside doesn't seem to change any, even though you've left the apartments
  942. >just more asphalt roads, large intersections and the occasional lumps of concrete-shaped buildings
  943. >"You got a home, don't ya?"
  944. >you don't answer for a bit
  945. "Well sure. I feel like I'm at home when you're around."
  946. >you can't really bring yourself to sound all that happy about it, but it's true.
  947. >Jacky sways with the car whenever you make a turn
  948. >"Then what about when I wasn't around?"
  949. "Didn't have one."
  950. >you say as simply as you can
  951. "I haven't really felt like I had a home in a long time. I have a place where I store all of my stuff, as you saw, but... it doesn't hold much value to me."
  952. >she nods
  953. >it's likely that she has similar feelings to you about all of that
  954. >it's been a while since your last awkward silence, but this was most certainly one
  955. >you make it to the store, trying to ignore the silence and what caused it
  956. >you get out and hold open the driver door, watching her use the seat cushion to bounce from passenger seat, to your seat, to the ground
  957. "Bravo, you even stuck the landing."
  958. >she bows after giving her hair a shake
  959. "Still not clapping."
  960. >she gives you a dirty look, like you personally wronged her somewhere in life
  961. >"Next time I'm jumping, I'm gonna jump on you."
  962. "You want some? Let's-a go!"
  963. >you both strike fighting poses
  964. >a small family of three walk by, having come out from a nearby minivan
  965. >they try not to stare as a collective while you square off with an oddly colored pony
  966. >both noting how outsiders aren't keen on your antics, she drops her stance first
  967. >"...there's a good reason why we haven't gone out in public before, isn't there."
  968. "...yes. Yes there is. Onward!"
  969. >with a penchant for dramatic flair, you aim for the front of the store
  970. >she gets onto her hind legs and kicks out with her front "Leave nothing behind!"
  971. >you both casually, at a normal pace, toward the store
  972. >neither of you are up to the idea of running and to be honest there's already the vague sense of alienation that comes with being such an odd pairing
  973. >she follows you, at your four o'clock, as you enter
  974. >she looks around at the vast produce section as you grab a shopping cart
  975. >"Hey, is a lot of this stuff good?"
  976. "Sure. We can grab whatever looks good and see if we can chop it up into something edible."
  977. >you didn't notice before but a foreign woman with a kid is nearby
  978. >she stares at you like she witnessed a murder
  979. >said foreign child is terrified beyond belief
  980. >you say nothing but just glare at them
  981. >...
  982. >they walk away
  983. >Jacky saw but didn't want to particularly do anything about it
  984. >"...should I be talking?"
  985. "Well you already are. Besides, they'd freak out if you were a tiny dog that didn't talk."
  986. >you go through the produce isles, picking out some red potatoes, carrots, the usual
  987. >while going from produce to the bakery and deli, Jacky laughs to herself
  988. >"Hey anon... should I practice a demonic voice? Y'know, to have some fun with it."
  989. >you smile and shake your head
  990. "Of course you should, that's a terrible thing to do."
  991. >you clear your throat
  992. "O̶ŃȨ ̕͡Ḿ̶͞ỜR̵E̕͜ ͘͢͢G͟͞ÒD̶ ̡R̶͜É͢J̷͝E̢Ć̷Ţ̶E͠D̸͠"
  993. >Jacky lets out a cry and bounds away from you
  994. >even Angel Eyes didn't warrant such a reaction
  995. >"What the HECK was THAT?! Who are you?!"
  996. >you give an evil cackle
  997. >you practiced that voice for years now
  998. >a mix of inhalation, a little throat control, and the willingness to risk making your throat raw for days in exchange of a few seconds of success
  999. "Oh, I'll teach you... I'll teach you so good."
  1000. >the woman at the deli counter, the entire time, stared at a man and talking horse with neutral helpful expression that could only come with decades of experience of customer support
  1001. >"You know if you're hungry as a monster, we got a deal on our cheese! One pound of sliced meat, half a pound of cheese of your choice!"
  1002. >score
  1003. >the reactions you get through the store is mostly mild
  1004. >outside of the obvious chances to goof around, it's just a routine visit to the store
  1005. >your first official outing together in any capacity
  1006. >and it feels normal
  1007. >normal is good
  1008. >after going through the freezer section and deciding on some other smaller snacks, you end up waiting in line to get everything paid for and bagged up
  1009. >you hate the self-checkout line when you have more than a handful of items
  1010. >"Hey, are you in the mood for some chocolate?"
  1011. >Jacky's stuck on the last minute candy buys that are so expertly placed that they tempt the stomach and tongue as much as they tempt the wallet
  1012. "Hm... I think we have some back home."
  1013. >"What about gum?"
  1014. "I haven't really cared for gum in the last while."
  1015. >"Chips?"
  1016. "We picked out three bags."
  1017. >"...skittles?"
  1018. "I'll taste your rainbow if you keep it up... but ok, toss a bag."
  1019. >with everything paid for, you start back to the car
  1020. >with everything bought, it's most certainly something that can all be brought up in one tip
  1021. >"Well that was fun."
  1022. >outside of a few awkward glances, it really was nice
  1023. >it didn't feel special, but it felt like you were with someone
  1024. >in what way... well, details didn't matter
  1025. "It was. Now imagine being stuck in there all day."
  1026. >"I really would like to not have to ever be stuck in there for a full day... did you know how badly that one area stunk?"
  1027. "What, not a fan of fish?"
  1028. >"No way Jose, I'll take a big, ripe chicken any day of the week."
  1029. >the ride back is a lot quicker this time around
  1030. >there's no awkward feelings
  1031. >there's no worrying about anything
  1032. >there's only the curiosity of what would happen next, once all of the food is put up
  1033. >you still haven't gotten to show her many games
  1034. >hell, you haven't even watched that many movies with her
  1035. >a lot of time together, it's just being around each other
  1036. >it's hardly structured, ideal, or picturesque
  1037. >but it's how it is
  1038. >"Penny for your thoughts, anon?"
  1039. >evidently you were smiling enough to catch her attention
  1040. "It's nothing big. I'm glad we could do this."
  1041. >you don't really notice it but she smiles to herself
  1042. >"I am too."
  1043. " the way, no skittles until after dinner."
  1044. >"YOU MONSTER!"
  1045. >she bounces into you from her seat, nearly causing you to miss your turn and drive into an oncoming car
  1046. >you didn't have work today
  1047. >today was a special day
  1048. >ok, it wasn't particularly special to you, but it was a holiday
  1049. >Jacky didn't even seem to mind since she was still asleep
  1050. >normally you'd have your alarm go off and you'd sneak up
  1051. >depending on where she was around or on you at the time, this was more difficult than usual
  1052. >this morning, she was on your chest, sprawled out with her head near yours
  1053. >reaching over to your phone, you stealthily turn off your phone and go back to sleep
  1054. >you bring up your arm to wrap around Jacky's lower torso
  1055. >eventually, you feel something shifting around
  1057. >you grumble something about it being a holiday, only to feel a quartet of tiny hooves thundering down
  1058. >you yawn and grab hold of the yellow and orange horse's front, lifting her up
  1059. >she's still kicking the air
  1060. "I'm off today. Stop trying to kill me."
  1061. >after a few seconds, the air stomping stops
  1062. >"...oh. Happy holiday then, anon!"
  1063. >you shake your head, yawning again
  1064. "No, it's Thanksgiving, specifically. Means that we celebrate by being lazy, cooking, and eating birds, hams, and the occasional chicken bbq pizza."
  1065. >"We have the last two! Does that mean we're doing it right?"
  1066. "That's exactly what that means."
  1067. >you set her down and sit up
  1068. >seems like you slept around four hours past your usual wakeup time
  1069. >you describe the basic intricacies of the holiday to her, more or less covering the important parts and why it's important
  1070. >and that it's usually a good time for families to stick together, even if they don't really like each other
  1071. >you're incredibly aware that it's just you and her in the room
  1072. >in the entire apartment
  1073. >"so, what do you feel like doing?"
  1074. "Well, to get the formalities of the way and to avoid things from getting awkward... I'm thankful for you. Completely and utterly, you've been a fantastic friend to me, and I feel like without you I'd have just slept in all day, maybe play a game or watch a movie, and consider it like just another random day that people with families use to enjoy each other, even when they normally don't."
  1075. >you say all of this with a relatively normal expression
  1076. >you'd eviscerate yourself if you weren't honest with yourself
  1077. >especially if you weren't honest with her
  1078. >she's mostly silent, sitting and listening when you speak
  1079. >after a moment, she does speak up
  1080. >"Well, what can I say? I don't really remember living before you. I don't even know if I was living before I met you. You've been the only real person I've known, and you've completely been fine with me. I don't have a full life like you, it's been like a movie to me, where things just start and... you know, there's only so much I can think about it. Where I am is where I am, and the life I have now is the life I was given."
  1081. >she puts her head down on your leg
  1082. >"There may be dozens out there just like me. Maybe thousands. But you're my friend, and you're my anon. There may be many like me, but this pony is yours. And there are many weird looking humans like you, but you are my human."
  1083. >...
  1084. "Did you watch Full Metal Jacket without me?
  1085. >her eyes widen and she tries to shrug
  1086. >"M-me? Of course not. I know you wanted to show it to me, and..."
  1087. "You did! I know that line and you aren't clever enough to come up with that on your own."
  1088. >she's full flustered and angry now
  1089. >she stands up, pointing a hoof at you
  1090. >"Oh yeah?! Well you just quote movies all the time too! Remember that time you said that you'd be back?"
  1091. "Wha, since when is a three word phrase a quote and not just a statement?!"
  1092. >"Since it was said by you!"
  1093. "Oh yeah? What are you gonna do, aim for the heart?"
  1094. >that struck her
  1095. >you aimed for the heart on that one
  1096. >she squints and goes stuff, prepared to tackle you
  1097. >you squint and bring up your arms
  1098. >there's no finger banging competition now
  1099. >thems were fighting words
  1100. >...
  1101. >...
  1102. >...
  1103. >DRAW
  1104. >she charges you and you lean forward, arms extended
  1105. >she tries to jump into you and you wrap your arms around her
  1106. >this leads to you squishing her against your chest
  1107. >the advantage of being a human is obvious
  1108. >"L-let go and let me pound you!"
  1109. "Not if I pound you first, I'm gonna suplex you if you keep this up!"
  1110. >she raises her voice into a scream
  1112. >you stop and look at her
  1113. >she stops and looks up at you
  1114. "That was terrible."
  1115. >...
  1116. >she nods
  1117. >"Ok that didn't come out as good as I wanted it."
  1118. "Let's go stick something in the oven, as per Thanksgiving tradition. Then we're going to watch a movie you claim you didn't see. Then we're going to see just how hard a human can suplex and-or pound a pony."
  1119. >the innuendo flinging has been going back for days now
  1120. >neither of you particularly mind because any notion of embarrassment is dead from longstanding mutual teasing
  1121. >"We're at each other's throats and already made up... is this what Thanksgiving really is?"
  1122. >you think about it
  1123. >you squeeze her
  1124. "Yeah. It's really not that out of the norm. Happy Thanksgiving Jack."
  1125. >"Happy Thanksgiving anon."
  1126. >you thought things were fine
  1127. >you thought your holiday break would go swell
  1128. >you thought that Jacky wouldn't get out of hand
  1129. >you were wrong
  1130. >"No no no, cast the defense spell! You're taking too much damage!"
  1131. "No, screw you, we need to lower their numbers or we'll keep getting hit!"
  1132. >"I'm going to hit you if you let your healer die one more time!"
  1133. "It's fine!"
  1134. >"You're wasting revives!"
  1135. "It's fiiiiiiiine!"
  1136. >you introduced Jacky to vidya
  1137. >worse, to RPGs
  1138. >you've been playing one in particular for days
  1139. >not only were they movies, but they were interactive movies!
  1140. >you swear you'll kill yourself and then her if you taint her to David Cage shit
  1141. >after hunkering down during the day-long riot of Black Friday, you both go to the local game store to pick up old used games
  1142. >the employees, funny enough, seem to welcome her as they would anyone else
  1143. >she tried to ask you about the Fortnite pony dolls but you told her that was dark magic at work and that she should view it as heresy
  1144. >after the first day, Jacky was hooked on just how action-packed every cutscene was
  1145. >after the second day, which began after a small nap, she was humming the random battle music
  1146. >neither of you eat all that well because the siren call of the game is too much
  1147. >for you, it's a classic that you've hungered to play again for years
  1148. >for her, it's a movie that is infinitely longer than even the longest western marathon
  1149. >doesn't help that due to the critical hits and bombastic nature of the character, her "aim for the heart" growl of a catchphrase became a battlecry
  1150. >you finally complete the boss fight and lean back, mentally exhausted
  1151. >a backseat gamer who doesn't even know how to mess with a controller is hard to deal with
  1152. >Jacky, now practiced with her battle victory dance, jumps from side to side, rearing up onto her hind legs
  1153. >and dabs
  1154. >you're not sure why you introduced the game memes to her but you did to help explain what was fun about it
  1155. >now she fucking dabs on enemies
  1156. >and on you
  1157. >you eventually reach a save point after another hour of running around and going through cutscenes
  1158. >you look at the clock
  1159. >god damn it
  1160. >you lay in bed, turning off the console and TV
  1161. "Jack... this ain't gonna work. We gotta pace ourselves with this."
  1162. >Jacky, wired with the adrenaline of a fight that she felt personally engaged with, jumped onto your chest
  1163. >you're used to it now but it still leaves you sore
  1164. >"Come on you can't quit now! What about escaping from that baldy? How do we know we're safe?"
  1165. >the chronic case of adventure has messed with her sleep schedule and completely skewed her priorities and interests
  1166. >you can't blame her
  1167. >you blame the music
  1168. >and the story
  1169. >and your own hype, which was effectively adding jet fuel to a bonfire
  1170. "Jaaaaaaaaaack..."
  1171. >your arms reach up and wrap around her
  1172. >you tug her down to your chest, her legs falling out from under her
  1173. "I'm tired, Jaaaaaaaaaack. I didn't think we'd spend so much time on it in only three days."
  1174. >Jacky wriggles on you, more to get comfortable than to escape
  1175. >"What's eighteen hours, anyway? That's just a big marathon a day."
  1176. "I know! I'm glad we're having fun but holy crap we're hitting the ground in a full sprint."
  1177. >the only complaint you genuinely have is that you still have work in the morning
  1178. >the break felt like a day and a half, tops
  1179. "We gotta pace ourselves... and plan out steps where we can. There are a lot of games I like where one mistake can mean death."
  1180. >her ears perk up
  1181. >"Well... why don't you just revive them?"
  1182. >you noticed that over the last week or two, she stopped making up accents
  1183. >she adopted your accent, to an extent
  1184. >normal American but with the occasional southern bend with certain words or specific sounds
  1185. "In those games? You can't... one is all you get."
  1186. >"...woah..."
  1187. "Yeah..."
  1188. >you planned on introducing vidya to her a little more slowly, but you just couldn't pace yourself
  1189. >at least you didn't introduce her to Red Dead for her first game
  1190. >the room completely dark, you tighten your hug around her
  1191. >while the romance subplot led to her chortling at how the characters can't seem to spit it out or talk things through, she seems to appreciate your affection
  1192. >close contact has become just one of those things that are normal now
  1193. "Hey Jack."
  1194. >"Yeah, anon?"
  1195. " you ever wonder how it'd be to live in an RPG like that?"
  1196. >"What, with death? Magic? Weirdos coming together to fight a big bad guy with a beard like yours?"
  1197. >...
  1198. >you did recently shave to look like an almost stereotypical scene-chewing villain for a referential joke
  1199. >you never got a chance to tell the joke
  1200. "Yeah."
  1201. >"Well of course! Applejack, my sorta-ma, she did that sort of stuff all the time!"
  1202. >her sorta-ma was indeed pretty brave and fought a lot
  1203. "Yeah...hey Jack?"
  1204. >"Yeah, anon?"
  1205. "I'm sorry you're stuck in this world. You could've been like your ma or you could've been in a different world, or someone else could've come across you and be some sort off soldier or athlete or whatever."
  1206. >...
  1207. >you didn't feel remorse for having her
  1208. >but you did wish that you had more to offer her
  1209. >"Yeah... I'm sorry too. I still don't know who I want to be. I don't really have any skills and I can't use anything you have without making it dirty or messing with it. I can't help you buy things or anything either."
  1210. "Well hold on now, that doesn't bug me any. I'm more than fine taking care of you."
  1211. >"And I'm more than fine being with you, too. Who else would care enough to bring me into movies and games?"
  1212. >probably a lot of people
  1213. >"Besides, you do take care of me, and I try to take care of you."
  1214. >to be fair you did have a headache yesterday and she brought you a drink
  1215. >she even figured out a good way to get into the fridge without further denting it
  1216. >...
  1217. "I think I'm just tired. My head's not on straight."
  1218. >"I'll say, I can see it from here."
  1219. "Wait, what?"
  1220. >a hoof lands on your face, nearly stomping your eye
  1221. >"Shhhhhhhh.... shhh shh shhhhh."
  1222. >her hoof slides over your face, making you sputter and try to avoid her from pushing your face in
  1223. >"Silly human and your heads. Sleeeeeeeeeeep-ahh."
  1224. >well, whatever
  1225. >her convincing argument leads you to relax, inhaling and adjusting your shoulder to get comfortable
  1226. >your bed has long since gotten tainted with Jacky's scent
  1227. >it's nice
  1228. >you're glad she cares
  1229. >you're glad you care
  1230. >you doze off sooner than you thought you could
  1231. >the last thing you are alert enough to hear is some evil cackling
  1232. >and the console coming back on
  1233. >"Gonna show you how to beat a boss, tell me what does and doesn't work..."
  1234. >you hope that you're in the middle of a nightmare and that she isn't going to utterly screw your save file
  1235. >it's one of those days
  1236. >actually, today is The Day
  1237. >work goes by quickly, and Jacky even gave you a kiss before you left
  1238. >you're not sure what the correct context of that was but she gave you a headbutt when you asked too many questions
  1239. >you've been checking your browser and video history and she's been going to romance movies lately
  1240. >maybe she was just doing it to try it out
  1241. >it kept you pretty happy though
  1242. >she's changed a lot, depending on what she watches
  1243. >you still wonder what she's really like
  1244. >you have a handful of good ideas, given the consistencies between everything
  1245. >she's definitely closer to you than before
  1246. >you like it too, and you've relaxed around her a whole lot
  1247. >she still gets shy about bath time, but she's competent enough to where you don't second guess her habits
  1248. >the hugging usually intensifies after that for the night
  1249. >she's gotten awkward about sitting on your lap too, but not when she's tired
  1250. >she hasn't yet watched the show she was... technically made from
  1251. >she also hasn't asked to see the site you got her
  1252. >there's still a lot of things that haven't been answered or figured out
  1253. >neither of you bring it up though
  1254. >things haven't been eventful but they've been comfy
  1255. >you worry about some of the deeper things, like if she is bored of you, or if she wants to live somewhere else
  1256. >or maybe find others like her out there in the world
  1257. >you don't want to be selfish but you're scared of that
  1258. >you return home without the worry on your face
  1259. >almost immediately, you hear galloping that leads to her taking down your knee from behind!
  1260. "What in Robbie Rottarnation is with you?!"
  1261. >you aren't toppled but you're brought down a few levels
  1262. >Jacky circles around to your front
  1263. >her hair is neat
  1264. >in a pair of twin tails
  1265. >how the hell did she manage that, anyway?
  1266. >she looks at you with a flustered face
  1267. >"And why didn't you tell me it was your birthday?!"
  1268. >wat
  1269. "wat"
  1270. >"wat? No, not wat! You knew it was the day and you didn't let me know!"
  1271. >you sit down from your kneeling position, taking off your boots, shrugging
  1272. "Well it's not a big day to me so... I didn't want to bring it up and bring you down was all."
  1273. >your reasoning doesn't fly with her
  1274. >"And you thought I didn't wanna celebrate it with you!"
  1275. "No, it's not that..."
  1276. >"Then what, anon? You gotta let me know stuff like that!""
  1277. >well now you kinda feel bad about it
  1278. >your birthdays never felt like a big deal, though you used to treat them like the one day you could be outwardly selfish
  1279. >kinda didn't see a point in it when only you cared about them to begin with
  1280. >you shrug again
  1281. "I'm sorry, alright? I am. I was kinda hoping that I could chill with you like usual and... well, kinda just that."
  1282. >she mulls over what you said, that fire she had dying down now that she knew it wasn't for a bad reason
  1283. >"Well... it's special to me. And..."
  1284. >she averted her gaze hard
  1285. >"Aaaaaaaaand you'rrrrrrrrrre kinda, maybe, sorta... maybe the day is only as special to me as you are."
  1286. >your eyebrows raise
  1287. >what was that weird confession?
  1288. >what was that from? Or did she think of that on her own?
  1289. >why were you having issues thinking that she was capable of her own thoughts?
  1290. >you treated her like a normal unrealistically colored talking horse
  1291. >like a friend
  1292. >like someone to bully
  1293. >like someone to come home to
  1294. >would it really be that hard to imagine that maybe she's finding her way?
  1295. >you thought about it before, sure, but you didn't put time into it
  1296. >"S...say something. Don't just look at me like that."
  1297. >were you looking at her in a weird way?
  1298. >you didn't know, you just wanted to look at her
  1299. >it must've taken her a long while and some sort of trick for her to even mess with her hair styling
  1300. "...can I ask for a present?"
  1301. >she stamped both of her front legs down
  1302. >"Well of course you can, that's what I got all dolled up for!"
  1303. >you squint at her
  1304. >she squints at you back
  1305. >"..."
  1306. "..."
  1307. >"Anon, I..."
  1308. " the French accent again."
  1309. >her eyes widen and her jaw drops
  1310. >"Wait now, you can't mean that!"
  1311. "Come on, speak to me in the language of love."
  1312. >her face went from anger to sheer terror
  1313. >"Don't say it like that!?"
  1314. "Speak to me in the language of surrender."
  1315. >"Don't make this weird, dang it! I'm trying to make today special!"
  1316. "Talk to me as if you have tapioca pudding in your mouth and you swallowed most of it but not all so it kinda gives you a funny sound."
  1319. >she looks absolutely flabbergasted
  1323. >the screaming and shouting grows mutual
  1324. >you keep a fantastic poker face on while she gets riled up
  1325. >the argument eventually leads to ordering pizza and her adopting the French accent for the rest of the night
  1326. >with free reign for you to give belly rubs
  1327. >you knew that no one would judge you because it's hardly a bad thing compared to what some weirdos out there like
  1328. >you wanted to add a maid outfit to the mix but you didn't have one at all, be it for horse or human
  1329. >you settle for an apron you got from a randomized box of good-brand cookware
  1330. >it fits around her neck and stomach, adding to the allure brought on by the twin tails
  1331. >"Sacre bleu, Anon! You have been ze sleepy boy, oui? Ohh hon hon hon~"
  1332. >you laid in bed while waiting for the pizza to show up
  1333. >Jacky's sitting above your head, massaging her front hooves into your shoulders
  1334. >you're grinning like an idiot while she gives you a bit of a wry smile
  1335. >it's shameless but you're completely enjoying it
  1336. >she is too, after realizing that you weren't completely doing it just to embarrass her
  1337. >"You know, we still have ze-how you say-pizzazaza~"
  1338. >she shakes her head with the word, smiling at the silliness of it
  1339. >the French accent sounded natural, no way she practiced it
  1340. >you nearly doze off with her massaging while she speaks to you in her accent
  1341. >you don't feel shame in asking what you did
  1342. >...
  1343. >you eventually wake up, a pizza box sitting near you
  1344. >a corner is slightly chewed up
  1345. >"Naughty naughty~ You sleep, and you do the weep!"
  1346. >out of the two boxes, the corner-chewed one is mostly safe
  1347. >the other one is already empty
  1348. >Jacky's face is a bit less clean than before, like she rubbed it against a towel to clean up or hide the evidence
  1349. >you yawn and sit up
  1350. "You nappa, you get slappa."
  1351. >"You catch up on some zeds, you get out of my heads!"
  1352. "You slumber, a cucumber!"
  1353. >you're glad you've introduced her to even more shows
  1354. >even if it makes her adopt weird personalities for a few days at a time
  1355. >you drag her onto her wrap and stick your hands under her apron for unprecedented belly rubbing
  1356. "Alright, pick a movie."
  1357. >as if to answer, she lets out a short, sharp tune of a whistle.
  1358. "Waaaah, waaaah, waaaahhh..."
  1359. >you hear her lick her lips and failing to whistle a few times before she returns the tune again
  1360. "Waaah, waaaah, waaaaaah!"
  1361. >you start the movie to end all movies up again, both embracing the bombastic opening
  1362. >" ze way, must I keep ze accent all night?"
  1363. "...well you don't have to but if you do, I get to bathe you tomorrow."
  1365. >it was a completely absurd night, and even a neighbor stopped by to ask to keep the shouting down
  1366. >but it was great
  1367. >it was the best birthday you had in... you don't know how long
  1368. >another weekend
  1369. >another morning of sleeping in with horse head laying on your neck
  1370. >you're pretty sure there's a movie about a horse head in a bed that wasn't all that comfy
  1371. "Jjjjjjjjjaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack-eeeeeeeeehhhhhh..."
  1372. >you rasp and grumble out her name, going from the deepest tone you can
  1373. >the vibrations and the noise causes her to stir
  1374. >she looks at you, half-asleep
  1375. >you smile at her
  1376. >"...d'y'gotta be up so early..."
  1377. >you did wake up early, even on the weekend
  1378. "Jaaaaaaaaack-eeeeeeeeeeeeeeee..."
  1379. >you repeat yourself, going into a yawn at the end
  1380. "I'm thirsty. And hungry."
  1381. >she puts her head on your chest
  1382. >you've been using her body as a pillow for the last few days
  1383. >you're not sure why but it's warm, fuzzy, and smells like her
  1384. >you can even hear her heartbeat when it's completely silent
  1385. "Jaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack-eeeeeeeeeeeee-iiiiiiiiii-eeeeeeeeeee-iiiiiiiiii-ooooooooooo..."
  1386. >"I'm sleepy, anon... last night was rough, ok?"
  1387. >last night, you finally brought up some of the last good westerns made
  1388. >Unforgiven
  1389. >it had an air of depressed reality all throughout it
  1390. >a blind kid who was quick to call himself a killer
  1391. >an old farmhand that actually was a killer
  1392. >and the farmhand's friend, who did just as much evil in his hayday
  1393. >it went into the myths of the wild west
  1394. >the reality of killing or shooting someone
  1395. >during the cliffside shootout scene, Jacky pressed her head against you hard
  1396. >she even closed her eyes when she listened to the victim's friends saying that they wanted to give him water
  1397. >then the ending, showing just how efficient a killer could be when he wanted
  1398. >it was by far the least romantic, least adventurous journey she had been through yet
  1399. >you bring up your hand to her head and stroke her mane
  1400. "Want breakfast? We're out of bacon but still got eggs and other stuff."
  1401. >"Don't get shot, ok?"
  1402. ...
  1403. "You know that's pretty unlikely to happen to me, right?"
  1404. >she lets out a long exhale
  1405. >"I know..."
  1406. >you roll your head back and forth on her side
  1407. >it's an efficient, yet lazy way to pet her
  1408. >"You get shot and..."
  1409. "You've seen action movies, right? Guy like me, you need an entire magazine and a rocket launcher to take down!"
  1410. >she doesn't seem convinced, but she does turn her head to you
  1411. "And this includes a five minute long knife fight that is timed by an explosive on a load bearing part of the building I'm on. And it requires a one-liner and a finisher, otherwise I regain 30% of my health and it keeps going."
  1412. >she tilts her head at you, squinting
  1413. "And if there's a sequel? Forgettabout it, I'll have a lot of cybernetic augmentations."
  1414. >she scoots her head closer to you, like some furry snake
  1415. "Don't forget medical advancements, you know..."
  1416. >she stops just before reaching your chin, actively straining her neck
  1417. >her discerning, squinting stare isn't one of approval
  1418. "...ok. I'll be careful. Stop with the neck stuff, you're kinda freaking me out."
  1419. >her head sprung back to a far more natural position
  1420. >you're not sure what can get her out of her slump
  1421. >you're seriously not
  1422. "How about this. I get shot, I give you a gun and you avenge me."
  1423. >nothing
  1424. >until she nods, squinting harder
  1425. "Wait, you won't care about shooting someone if it's to avenge me?"
  1426. >"Aim for the heart..." was her only response
  1427. >she had a vicious look to her
  1428. >as vicious as a sleepy pony could be
  1429. >that's weird
  1430. "So, ready for breakfast?"
  1431. >she nodded again, her face returning to a neutral expression
  1432. "Wanna get off me so I can go make it?"
  1433. >she shook her head
  1434. "Don't make me eat you instead."
  1435. >"I don't taste good."
  1436. "I'll have you know that in the south, sometimes we eat horses. And I don't have to start from the top."
  1437. >that got her up
  1438. >"okI'mgonnagotothebathroomandtakeabath"
  1439. >you don't see it but you hear her kick the bathroom door closed
  1440. >you're getting a bit tired of seeing hoof prints on your stuff
  1441. >at least you're awake and up
  1442. >another decently-average breakfast
  1443. >another weekend more than halfway over
  1444. >you and Jacky almost never leave your room except for food or other pressing issues
  1445. >neither of you complain, though
  1446. >you set up your old laptop for her to read and watch things on while you have your more recent one to yourself
  1447. >occasionally she'll stop what she's doing and watch you, or you'll do the same and silently question how good an idea it is to give a horse a machine
  1448. >turns out the answer is that it isn't all that great an idea
  1449. >but she is getting used to the track pad you bought her
  1450. >a lot of the day burns by with no events
  1451. >no deep conversations
  1452. >no revelations
  1453. >no drama
  1454. >you don't know why people complain, it's pretty damn comfy
  1455. >you slap Jacky's butt
  1456. "Hey Jack."
  1457. >she tilts her head back until she can nearly see you
  1458. >an upside down you
  1459. >"Ah?"
  1460. "Do you, uh... y'wanna watch the show you're from? Or, your ma?"
  1461. >it's hard to believe but you really haven't shown her the show yet
  1462. >you haven't seen it in forever so you don't remember much outside of the freakout episodes
  1463. >you drag her into your lap and go to the latest streaming site
  1464. "Alright, time to check this shit out."
  1465. >the episode starts
  1466. >the first episode
  1467. >as Celestia talks about the origins of sisters, Jacky gives it a queer look
  1468. >she look at you with that same queer look as soon as "elements of harmony" is uttered
  1469. "Listen... it's actually a good show."
  1470. >then the opening starts
  1471. >the speakers, having been turned up to hear the monologue, blast the song
  1472. >Jacky gives you this
  1473. >evolving
  1474. >look on her face
  1475. >of confusion
  1476. >you maintain a poker face
  1477. >and grab her head, rotating it back to the screen
  1478. >you keep your hands on her head to avoid her questioning Medusa's gaze
  1479. >part of you is rock hard
  1480. >sadly it's only your face that has turned to an unreadable expression of stone
  1481. >then the mane six are shown off
  1482. >Applejack is shown kicking a tree
  1483. >"M-ma?!"
  1484. >Jacky chirps at the realization that she just saw her progenitor
  1485. >you watch the first few episodes with Jacky
  1486. >after the first one, she seemed to not mind that an adult man was showing her a cartoon such as this
  1487. >she visibly got excited whenever Applejack popped up to do anything
  1488. >or say anything
  1489. >"Hey Anon! Do ah sound like ma now?"
  1490. >you look down at her, your eyes bugging out
  1491. >defaq
  1492. >she sounds exactly like the original, just without the occasional stuttering due to the buffering
  1493. "That's... yeah. Freakin, bravo, lady."
  1494. >you were caught off guard with that bigtime
  1495. >Jacky was your almost singular focus for so long that you forgot her origin
  1496. >you had long stopped seeing her as anything but herself
  1497. >who else could she be, but herself?
  1498. >who else would enjoy hanging around you so much, but her?
  1499. "That's a helluva trick, Jack."
  1500. >"Aww shucks, you don't gotta say that!"
  1501. >it's a little spooky how exact the voice is
  1502. >well, it's always been the same voice
  1503. >but the inflection and accent is totally different
  1504. >it's like that scent with Mystique and Nightcrawler with that "even their voice" line
  1505. >you watch the first two seasons together, without a single break
  1506. >by the end of it, you both sing the opening
  1507. >every episode you each try to tackle different lines or try to sing at the same time
  1508. >"Aw man, Applejack is so cool! Fluttershy is too cute! Twilight is a dork but she's cool too!"
  1509. >at least she has good taste
  1510. >it's kinda funny hearing Jacky talk like Applejack and rating the other members as the mane six
  1511. >still a little weird
  1512. "So... does that clear up some questions you might've had?"
  1513. >"Yeah... ma's a really cool person. I can see why you like her."
  1514. "Yeah."
  1515. >"Yeah..."
  1516. "I think I told you a little about my family and all that, right? I never had a farm. Was never even all that big a fan of the outside. It's freaking hot down there, I'll have you know. And I had awful allergies to dirt or grass or something, and it would lead to a lot of really bad itching. But now that I'm up here, all I can think about is how I'm no longer there."
  1517. >"Sure, but you got old pictures or something, don't you?"
  1518. "Well yeah, old ones of my friends... who don't contact me. Or message me. Or check up on how I'm doing, or to say anything at all. I miss them, Jack. And I wonder if they still miss me."
  1519. >you ruffle her mane, focusing more on your hand doing the ruffling than anything else
  1520. "Applejack's whole shtick being that she's your standard southerner, hard-working-in-the-sun sort with a hat and funny accent is kinda the caricature that helps keep those memories alive, and helps keep those friends in my thoughts."
  1521. >Jacky gives a light scoff
  1522. >"Well come on now, give them some credit! They understand the magic of friendship, they introduced you to the show right? I bet they're thinking about you all the time, just like you are!"
  1523. >you understand what she's going for
  1524. >but
  1525. "If that's true... why haven't any of them talked to me? Or return any of my messages?"
  1526. >"Well, maybe they're...busy... o-or, uh..."
  1527. >the Applejack-twang and tone of confidence starts to fade until it's just normal Jacky
  1528. >"I wish I knew, Anon."
  1529. "I do too, Jack. I kinda got back into the show and eventually found you, I guess as a way to try to reconnect with one of the last things we all really enjoyed, as a group. As a real group of goofy fucking nerds."
  1530. >neither you nor her say anything
  1531. >you worry that you might've said too much, or that it might somehow put her in a negative light
  1532. >"'ve at least tried talking to one recently, right? To keep letting them know you're still up here?"
  1533. >it sounded like she was just reaching for a positive note
  1534. "Sure. I left a message to one and he just never got back to me."
  1535. >more silence
  1536. >"Well you got me, Anon. That won't ever change."
  1537. >a bit of confidence in her voice
  1538. >not a lot
  1539. >but enough
  1540. "Yeah. Same, Jack."
  1541. >you don't have it in you to say anything more
  1542. >you don't have any quips
  1543. >or comebacks
  1544. >or any urge to touch or manipulate her in any suspect manner
  1545. >you just keep staring at your hand
  1546. >you haven't yet recovered from your downer mood
  1547. >you normally do a good job to stay positive
  1548. >positive enough to call it being positive
  1549. >but when it drops, it drops
  1550. >you trudge back into your apartment, yawning
  1551. >Jacky greets you as always, happy to see you
  1552. >she can read your dulled face and turns worried in the blink of an eye
  1553. >"Hey, Anon! Welcome home... what's wrong?"
  1554. >you put your boots on the plastic tray you always put them on
  1555. "Jack... today's just not a good day for me."
  1556. >you're frustrated with a lot of things
  1557. >your job, your direction in life
  1558. >how you were reminded just how little you make in relation to everyone else
  1559. >you made do, but that's because you knew the internet well enough to make it work for you
  1560. >you hadn't gone hungry in a very long time
  1561. >you did a lot of things
  1562. >you even got Jacky
  1563. >neither of you are lacking for food or entertainment
  1564. >but
  1565. >you're once again painfully aware of your shortcomings and what you never had a chance to have
  1566. >"Well come on! You listen and do stuff for me, how about I do for you?"
  1567. >she looked around, walking to the kitchen
  1568. >"we got some alcohol, that'll help, right?"
  1569. >you guffaw and shake your hand at her
  1570. "No, I'm good. I barely drink as is. But I did drink a lot with you that first night."
  1571. >it was uncharacteristic of you to guzzle down that much in one sitting but it was a special occasion
  1572. >"Well then there's something good you must want, right?"
  1573. >you lay down in the entryway as she's looking around
  1574. >you put a lot of stuff around waist level or lower so she has easy access to it
  1575. >you even attacked a towel to the fridge so she could reach in and grab her own stuff
  1576. >and you keep the chips away from the top of the fridge too
  1577. >you close your eyes
  1578. "I'm alright. I just need to kinda... rest my eyes."
  1579. >you feel so tired
  1580. >your eyes feel heavy
  1581. >you could easily sleep like this for a while and probably not care
  1582. >you feel a long face nudge against your cheek
  1583. >"Aw, you don't really wanna lay there, do you? Bed's nice and warm for you..."
  1584. >you don't respond
  1585. >you're not asleep, but you feel too drained
  1586. >you still don't feel like quipping or goofing around
  1587. >you don't even really want to tell her what's wrong, because it may make things worse
  1588. >friends tell friends their problems
  1589. >except
  1590. >sometimes you have to shoulder your burdens alone
  1591. >it's why you make such a good support beam
  1592. >for your friends
  1593. >your family
  1594. >you're confident in your ability to stop a meteor from crashing down on the world
  1595. >but right now you would be fine if that happened too
  1596. >except that means something bad would happen to Jacky too
  1597. >"Come on... you're worrying me Anon. Was it work? You can tell me things."
  1598. "Yeah... I'm sorry."
  1599. >you finally speak up
  1600. "I'm just kinda tired. I've been doing a lot of stuff for a while, and it's been rough."
  1601. >"What's been rough, Anon?"
  1602. "Continuing."
  1603. >it isn't positive but it's the most plain way you can explain it
  1604. "Everyone has visibly more success. They outright demand more. And they seem to get it because they know people. Or when they were my age, they had an easier time getting in."
  1605. >you feel very fatigued
  1606. >you feel like your head is floating away from your body, like it's going to the side and living up
  1607. >you're sure you aren't moving
  1608. "I don't want to bother you with a lot of the details, Jack. I've done that before and it never goes well. No one can ever seem to relate to me or my problems. Or they don't want to. And it just ends up with me feeling alienated and them feeling annoyed or something."
  1609. >you feel Jacky get ontop of you
  1610. >she lays down on you, kicking out her legs until she's resting her head on your chest with her hooves on your shoulders
  1611. "I'm not weak. But I feel powerless. Everything I've done somehow doesn't count because the goal post moves again. It's like it's happening on purpose."
  1612. >no reply
  1613. >but you can feel her nuzzling your chest
  1614. >"So what will help?"
  1615. "I don't know. I've already made a fresh start. I gave up a lot of stuff just to come up to this frozen wasteland. And yet somehow I'm still just unable to really get a break. "
  1616. >maybe it was just bad timing
  1617. >maybe you did just need an arbitrary amount of more experience
  1618. >maybe you lacked connections or relatives
  1619. >maybe you aren't supposed to get ahead or improve beyond a point
  1620. >maybe your place is to struggle because you don't have any other option
  1621. >except that option
  1622. >the nuzzling continues
  1623. >"You can sleep here for a while if you want. I'll make sure I can keep you comfortable."
  1624. "Thanks Jack. I'd pet you but I don't think I can move my hand."
  1625. >you both lay there for far too long
  1626. >you know that you have food in the fridge so she isn't at a disadvantage if she gets hungry
  1627. >you have picked up cooking more, if only to take care of her needs
  1628. >it's easier to care about her than it is to care about yourself
  1629. >you know that isn't a good mindset to have
  1630. >you begin to doze off, hearing some sort of humming
  1631. >you can only bring yourself to focus on her, and to wonder if she's more bothered than worried
  1632. >you could hear a movie in your room playing
  1633. >and here you had to interrupt it
  1634. >you leave the land of the lucid and end up sleeping
  1635. >maybe tomorrow will be better
  1636. >you just need to regain your strength
  1637. >then you'll be ok
  1640. >be me
  1641. >Jacky
  1642. >I wake up again in my bed, with a blanket over my body and a pillow under my head.
  1643. >How did I always end up taken care of every morning? I always laid on or under Anon, and he hasn't ever complained about it.
  1644. >I yawn and kick out my legs, bucking the blanket off of me.
  1645. >Bucking feels natural. Especially since Ma is a pro when she does it!
  1646. >I shake my head back and forth until I can't see straight. It helps wake me up and it gets my hair all natural and wild.
  1647. >I try to walk forward, stepping off of the mattress to the floor.
  1648. >"Well dang... that woke me up. Maybe ah should try to go fer a run?"
  1649. >I lick my lips, trying out Ma's accent again. It seems really natural to change my tone. I can't change my voice but it feels like something I can just switch over.
  1650. >I feel my face warm up when I try my next morning accent.
  1651. >"Oh hon hon hon, Anon~ You know zat I am but a poor pony! Shouldn't you be looking at... ze women? Ohh ho ho ho ho!"
  1652. >I swish my hips and squint my eyes while speaking.
  1653. >I think I sound good... but that laugh at the end doesn't sound right. But maybe...
  1654. >I bring up a hoof to my mouth.
  1655. >"Ohhh ho ho ho ho! A human like you with a mare like me? Only in your dreams... unless you do this! And this!"
  1656. >I stamp down my hoof, imagining it to be Anon.
  1657. >"Ohhh ho ho ho~!"
  1658. >After a few moments of playing pretend, I stop and clear my throat. Maybe that was a little unusual but that would probably be useful for something right?
  1659. >"Hm... but this is too, right?"
  1660. >I speak in a more normal, neutral tone, what I'm used to sounding like with Anon.
  1661. >It kinda sounds a bit like him. Some minor twang in some certain words or phrases, but not anything that would show up in a cartoon.
  1662. >I trot around the apartment for a while to get it out of my system. Anon's apartment is really big for me but I'm pretty sure it's small for him.
  1663. >It's pretty sparse, to be honest. We always just hang out in his room, unless he takes me out to the store or something.
  1664. >Outside the apartment is... cold. Kinda lonely too. It has a lot of people but so many of them look and sound so different. I'm not sure I could talk to them if I tried.
  1665. >None of them seem all that friendly either. Which makes sense but in the movies people are always up for a conversation or have some information to drop off.
  1666. >I stop in front of the box I came in and sit in front of it.
  1667. >I don't remember much before getting shipped out from wherever I was.
  1668. >I remember talking to others like me, through the boxes.
  1669. >Sparks and Dashie come to mind, but were they really who I thought? Were they who they really thought?
  1670. >I wasn't who I thought it was.
  1671. >What happened to them? Were they shipped out or are they still there? Do they miss me? Was I really their friend? Were they my friends? Are they cold? Are they hungry? Did they know where I went? How long have I been gone? Don't they know that there are people out there like Anon?
  1672. >I see myself in the box, in an eternal stance with a stupid smile on my face.
  1673. >Am I was Anon wanted? Does Anon regret me? Does he care about me? Will I be thrown away? Why is the box still here? Why hasn't he thrown it away? Am I defective? Am I wrong? Am I wrong? Am I wrong? Am I wrong? Am I wrong? Am I wrong?Am I wrong? Am I wrong? Am I wrong?Am I wrong? Am I wrong? Am I wrong?Am I wrong? Am I wrong? Am I wrong?
  1674. >I shake my head and throw my vision away from the box. I feel sick.
  1675. >I walk over to the kitchen and look at what Anon set up for me: a few closed plastic containers of food, a few bowls of juice and water, and a small note that reads "Do you prefer apple or cranberry? One's apple, other is cranberry. Let's go to the store after work so we can stock up for the weekend!".
  1676. >It's kinda weird handwriting but I can read it fine. Almost every morning he writes something for me that has a question for the day.
  1677. >It doesn't feel weird to drink from the bowls. He sometimes uses bowls too when we share drinks.
  1678. >He even stole my drink once! The gall, to offer me something new and gulp it down after a sip.
  1679. >The food isn't the hottest it was originally but it's nice. Potatoes and eggs mixed together again.
  1680. >It's really basic, but that sort of food is comfortable in how it's routine. I can request other stuff too and that adds a ton.
  1681. >I squint while eating thinking back to when Anon introduced hot sauce.
  1682. >He spoke of it like it was some sort of almighty seasoning and it was hell in a bottle!
  1683. >He got me milk pretty quick so it evened out but still.
  1684. >I close the plastic container after eating it and fling it up into the sink from below. Mouth-eye coordination comes natural, just like bucking. Maybe it's another thing from Ma.
  1685. >I head back to the room, jumping onto the bed.
  1686. >I keep jumping on the bed, thinking of what to do next. If it were less cold out, I'd ask if Anon could keep the two glass patio doors somewhat open so I could laze around outside.
  1687. >This cold snow business really did not do me any favors. I can see why Anon doesn't like it that much.
  1688. >I flop over next to the laptop Anon set up for me. It's a little awkward to use but it's cool!
  1689. >I watch more episodes of the cartoon I came from. Ma came from. One of us came from that. Maybe it was based off of real events?
  1690. >Seeing Ma hang out with her friends and do stuff with everyone makes me feel sad.
  1691. >I wish I had friends like that. I wish I had a farm in a really neat town like that too.
  1692. >But not if it meant Anon wouldn't be there too.
  1693. >He's fun, and cool. I'm still not sure why someone like him watches something like this, but it's not a bad thing right?
  1694. >The movies we watch together are awesome, Ma probably never saw those before.
  1695. >What would Ma do against Angel Eyes?
  1696. >I read through the list of movies that Anon has on the laptop. It's really a big amount. He can't have watched all of these already, could he?
  1697. >I start one of them at random after fiddling with the trackpad for a while. I have better luck with my nose than I do my hooves.
  1698. >Before ten minutes into it, I hear the door open. It's Anon!
  1699. >I bounce off of the bed and trot over to him.
  1700. >He looks... tired. Really tired.
  1701. >"Hey, Anon! Welcome home... what's wrong?"
  1702. "Jack... today's just not a good day for me."
  1703. >What could have happened? I could always make him smile but some sort of sixth sense tells me that he's really hurting somehow.
  1704. >"Well come on! You listen and do stuff for me, how about I do for you?"
  1705. >I regretfully pull away from him and check the kitchen. The first night we were together, we had something good.
  1706. >"We got some alcohol, that'll help, right?"
  1707. >He gives me a handwave and a laugh. But not a smile.
  1708. "No, I'm good. I barely drink as is. But I did drink a lot with you that first night."
  1709. >I smile at the mention of him remembering that first night.
  1710. >"Well then there's something good you must want, right?"
  1711. >I hope I don't sound desperate.
  1712. >I watch Anon just get down on the floor and lay on his back and close his eyes.
  1713. >My heart drops. He looks like someone who's been shot outside of a saloon.
  1714. >I nudge my face against his cheek.
  1715. >"Aw, you don't really wanna lay there, do you? Bed's nice and warm for you..."
  1716. >Normally he has something to say back but he doesn't.
  1717. >You glance at his chest and stomach. He's still breathing. Of course he's still breathing. There's no reason why he wouldn't be.
  1718. >"Come on... you're worrying me Anon. Was it work? You can tell me these things."
  1719. "Yeah... I'm sorry."
  1720. >He finally speaks up. But I kinda wish he didn't. What he says worries me even more.
  1721. "I'm just kinda tired. I've been doing a lot of stuff for a while, and it's been rough."
  1722. >I stifle a whimper and force myself to continue.
  1723. >"What's been rough, Anon?"
  1724. "Continuing."
  1725. >What does that mean? Continuing to be around me?
  1726. "Everyone has visibly more success. They outright demand more. And they seem to get it because they know people. Or when they were my age, they had an easier time getting in."
  1727. >I listen to him speak and vent.
  1728. >I feel like I'm not in my body anymore.
  1729. >I feel like my head is expanding and growing more narrow until the only thing I can stand to look at is Anon's sad, hopeless face.
  1730. >I have to be brave. Ma would've been brave.
  1731. >Help me be brave Ma.
  1732. >I stutter out an answer, doing my best to sound like I'm someone he can go to.
  1733. >I get on top of him and spread out until I can almost imitate his shape.
  1734. >"So what will help?"
  1735. "I don't know. I've already made a fresh start. I gave up a lot of stuff just to come to this frozen wasteland. And yet somehow I'm still just as unable to really get a break."
  1736. >Hearing that nearly broke my heart.
  1737. >I make an effort to stroke my face against his chest.
  1738. >He isn't alone. He isn't weak. He isn't powerless. He took care of me and has done a lot for me. He got a lot of stuff, even if it's only things that we care about.
  1739. >I'm here for him.
  1740. >"You can sleep here for a while if you want. I'll make sure I can keep you comfortable."
  1741. >I try to sound strong.
  1742. "Thanks Jack. I'd pet you but I don't think I can move my hand."
  1743. >That admittance makes my stomach feel like it dropped out onto the floor.
  1744. >I keep nuzzling him, fighting the urge to sneeze from the smell of truck fumes on his coat.
  1745. >I've long forgotten the movie was even a thing.
  1746. >I was still full since I had breakfast for lunch.
  1747. >I wasn't really eager to do anything except to see his mood improve.
  1748. >After a few minutes I can feel Anon's body relax. He's asleep?
  1749. >I drag myself up to him, pulling myself by his shoulders
  1750. >I lay directly on him, face to face.
  1751. >"Tomorrow will be better, Anon. I'll find a way."
  1752. >Ma would've said something like that.
  1753. >I'll never be like Ma.
  1754. >But she'll never get to have Anon either.
  1755. >be you
  1756. >who else would you be?
  1757. >you spent a few days in a slump
  1758. >not a lot helped
  1759. >but Jacky did
  1760. >not once were you left alone or stuck inside your own head
  1761. >not once were you left cold or hungry
  1762. >not like she could cook, but she was quick to get you something if you dared to ask
  1763. >neither of you really did that much that was exciting or noteworthy
  1764. >you watched videos and rewatched movies together, occasionally introducing something new to her like a video game
  1765. >you come home from work, feeling a little happier
  1766. >a little more eager to be awake and alive
  1767. >mostly because you want to get back to playing the game you introduced to Jack
  1768. >you open the door and step in, stepping out of your boots after stepping onto a plastic tray made for snow-bound footwear
  1769. >out of nowhere Jacky cartwheels out from around the corner and awkwardly lands on her rear legs
  1770. >she points her hoof at you, a genuinely angry expression on her face
  1771. >"Time to shuffle up and deal!"
  1772. >she rotated on one leg, preparing to stomp your face in from ten paces away
  1773. >"I've got a killer hoof!"
  1774. >you match her pose and reply in a high, squeaky voice that sounds almost like her
  1775. "I've got a killer hoof!"
  1776. >she growls and stamps her lower legs down, taking a step and adopting a new combat pose
  1777. >"You're gonna get it!"
  1778. >you take a step forward and adopt her pose, albiet more fluidly because you are man and not, in fact, a horse
  1779. "You're gonna get it!"
  1780. >her face gets even worse and she gets down on all fours, trampling the carpet
  1781. >"Quit imitating meeeeee"
  1782. >you began stamping on the carpet with your two human feet
  1783. "eeeeeeeeeeeeeee"
  1784. >you suddenly stop and point at her
  1785. "Ahh... this is dumb."
  1787. >both of you look at each other with surprise as it came from... below
  1788. >who knew that all of the stomping and goofing around would be loud enough to bother someone
  1789. >mother
  1790. >stumping
  1791. >God Hand
  1792. >unsure of how to introduce video games proper to her, you decided to go with the most pure example
  1793. >crazy moves
  1794. >crazier enemies
  1795. >luchadore gorillas
  1796. >a fat Mexican demon named Elvis
  1797. >poison Chihuahuas
  1798. >and the Mad Midget V
  1799. >set to impress, you taunted foes until Lv3 and slowly build up the hype train that consisted of avoiding attacks, launching foes, and taunting
  1800. >by the end of the first level, you already reached LV DIE
  1801. >by that point, chaos filled the screen and it introduced Jacky to a whole new genre of action
  1802. >there weren't any gunslingers
  1803. >there weren't any cannons or civil wars with men dying for some damned bridge
  1804. >there weren't even any stare downs
  1805. >there was just one man launching himself into entire groups of thugs and beating them so soundly that even the game itself was cheering when you dodged enough!
  1806. >by the end of the second screen, you had to take a break... it was taxing on your nerves and you haven't played it in so long
  1807. >but it was enough to impress her
  1808. >pretending to be exhausted while you genuinely did have a few frayed nerves, you lay back on the bed and extend your arms conveniently around her curled up form
  1809. >"you're unreal, Anon... I don't think I saw half of what you did near the end there."
  1810. "Yeah, well, having thumbs is pretty cool you know."
  1811. >"Yeah... if I could play that stuff, I think I could beat you."
  1812. >you scoff, rubbing your face against her flank
  1813. "Psh, I'm Alexander the Great."
  1814. >"I thought you were Anon?"
  1815. >you pause
  1816. >you really didn't show her a whole lot of the game
  1817. "It's... uh, it's just something the guys say in the game to intimidate you."
  1818. >her voice came out unsure
  1819. >"Is that... a strong guy then?"
  1820. >you shrug
  1821. "Well, a really famous boxer said that, so I guess so."
  1822. >an even more unsure tone came out
  1823. >"So... was this boxer really strong?"
  1824. "Sure, he could punch my lights out pretty easily if he wanted to.
  1825. >"Why would he do that?"
  1826. "Because he's not Alexander."
  1828. >For the first time I wake up before Anon.
  1829. >Yesterday he seemed kinda slow.
  1830. >Not "dumb" slow, but really like moving hurt to do or something.
  1831. >I laid at his side last night instead of under his head.
  1832. >I vaguely recall sleeping through his alarm of "I̛ ͟͞͝h̵͜av̢̛e̶͠ ̢y̧ǫ͟u̸r͟ ba̕ck ̸t͜o ̨t̸h̸́e ̢w̶a͠l̵l̸", which I always did, but him sleeping through it too was weird.
  1833. >"Hey Anon... y'alright?"
  1834. >I prod his chest with my hoof.
  1835. >He kinda looks awake but not all there.
  1836. >He grumbles something a few times, trying to clear his throat.
  1837. "Yeah...hey Jack. Can you grab one of those green plastic bottles of soda?"
  1838. >Last time we went to the store, we got a lot of six packs of soda for some big discount.
  1839. >We weren't even out of what we already had, but he said that he liked having the variety.
  1840. >It tastes good but drinking too much made me burp.
  1841. >Too much.
  1842. >I rub my nose against him, hoping that affection might help wake him up more or something.
  1843. >"Sure, wait right there, ok?"
  1844. "Eyup, gonna stay right here."
  1845. >His voice sounds terrible.
  1846. >I trot to the kitchen and bite onto the towel he attached to the fridge door.
  1847. >What the heck.
  1848. >The green soda is in the fridge but it's an entire six pack that's still bound together with some plastic ring.
  1849. >I bite onto the lid of one bottle and tug it free from the fridge, only for my head to drop since it's weighed down six times over.
  1850. >I try to tug the bottle free to no avail.
  1851. >The bottle god mocks me.
  1852. >I tug harder, putting one hoof on one of the other bottles.
  1853. >Anon needs this and I'm being foiled by paper-thin plastic rings.
  1854. >I whip my head back and forth like a dog trying to tear apart a slab of meat.
  1856. >After an enraged assault, the bottle finally breaks free!
  1857. >And the cap was twisted off in the process.
  1858. >I quickly duck my head down and press my tongue into the neck of the bottle to keep it from making a mess everywhere.
  1859. >I eventually make it back the bed and hold the bottle against Anon's hand.
  1860. >He grasps it and gives it a short tug.
  1861. >I forgot to let go and do, not thinking anything of my personal security measure to keep the carpet clean and the soda safe.
  1862. >He leans up and drinks at least a third of the bottle, sputtering every few gulps to clear out his throat.
  1863. >Satisfied with what he had, his head drops back down to a pillow.
  1864. >He's still holding the bottle up with his hand despite the small tremors it has.
  1865. "Thanks Jack."
  1866. >He sounds a little better, but still a little hoarse.
  1867. >I sputter out a stifled laugh at the realization.
  1868. >"You really wanna hold the bottle? I'll take it for you."
  1869. >I bite onto the top of the bottle and tug it away from his hand after a few attempts.
  1870. >I put it on the short chest behind his head.
  1871. >His hand is still in the upward position.
  1872. >To secure Anon, I place myself under his arm, my head on his stomach.
  1873. >His hand eventually lowers.
  1874. >We stay like this for hours.
  1875. >I doze off after a bit, but wake up at the slightest movement from him.
  1876. >Eventually, the sun is high up in the sky and even his blinds don't block out all of the light.
  1877. >He grumbles something that I don't quite get.
  1878. >"What was that?"
  1879. >I half yawn out my question. Normally I'd be watching something or goofing around but I couldn't abandon him.
  1880. "Gonna go take a shower. Wanna help me up?"
  1881. >Do I?!
  1882. >I clamp onto his wrist and take heavy steps backward.
  1883. >It must have worked perfectly because he sat up with almost no issue!
  1884. >He stumbled to his knees, shuffling along to the bottom of the best before standing up fully.
  1885. >At his peak height, I watch and feel small. Every now and again it was another surprise at how massive he was.
  1886. >Compared to me, he could probably suplex a train, or a full grown horse.
  1887. >The initial shock of seeing him play God Hand might have had a hand in my beliefs of his prowess.
  1888. >I follow him as he takes his sweet time going from our room, to the closet for a towel, to the bathroom.
  1889. >He closes the door in my face, probably not even aware I was following.
  1890. >"H-hey! Let me in!"
  1891. >I speak without thinking, scraping my hoof against the door.
  1892. >Some grumbling and throat clearing is made behind the door.
  1893. "No way, you don't want me to bathe you, you don't get to watch me shower. My vulnerable, human frame is a prime target to some pony with ulterior motives."
  1894. >My face turns red hot.
  1895. >"Wh-Who has an ulterior motive?!"
  1896. >I can hear hoarse cackling.
  1897. >Is he messing with me, even at a time like this?!
  1898. "I'll be fine... I just gotta shower. Then I can fix us something."
  1899. >Food is the last thing I have on my mind.
  1900. >Besides, we still have leftovers from two nights ago.
  1901. >We decided on cooking big meals and reheating whatever was left, so there was left time taken to spend in the kitchen and more time to spend goofing off.
  1902. >"Well fine... but I hear you drop, I'm kicking this door down."
  1903. "You kick this door down, you'll see something your mind can't possibly fathom."
  1904. >I scoff at the notion.
  1905. >But...
  1906. >After watching In The Mouth of Madness, I did become wary whenever he joked about that.
  1907. >I sit at the door and listen to the shower turn on.
  1908. >Taking a bath was obviously superior because it was more fun but the tub was big for me.
  1909. >I hear coughing.
  1910. >I hear retching.
  1911. >I hear things that really don't sound good or healthy.
  1912. >I knock against the door.
  1913. >"Y'alright Anon?"
  1914. >No reply but I hear the shower water fall in different ways so he's still moving around.
  1915. >No heavy thud either so I know he didn't fall.
  1916. >Eventually the shower stops.
  1917. >He opens the door after a few more minutes, a towel wrapped around his waist.
  1918. >He looks more red than usual, and steam bellows out from behind him.
  1919. >I take a few steps back, looking up at him.
  1920. >He still looks terrible, but his hair is at least combed back and he sounds like he can breath better.
  1921. "The towel isn't coming off."
  1922. >I scrunch my face and headbutt his leg.
  1923. >"You shut up, I just don't want you falling over!"
  1924. >Though it seems like a delayed reaction, he acts like he's going to fall backward!
  1925. >"Anon!"
  1926. >He stops after leaning back a few inches.
  1927. >More sick cackling.
  1928. "You don't want me to fall but you charge at me hard enough to break my shin... I'm getting mixed messages from you."
  1929. >This type of teasing just isn't anything I can ever defend against.
  1930. >"I'll mix your message, get your butt to bed!"
  1931. >He nods at me and shuffles back to bed.
  1932. >He practically falls into it, and I follow with a jump.
  1933. >He shifts to lay on his side, focusing entirely on breathing.
  1934. >I can tell because normally he's almost inaudible.
  1935. >It sounds like he should be on a breathing machine or something.
  1936. >"There's gotta be something else I can do. Tell Nurse Jacky what's wrong with you."
  1937. >I try to sound playful but it's hard to not be worried.
  1938. >He shook his head, reaching out to pat the side of my face.
  1939. "No no no, oh no. Nurse Jacky isn't someone you should be. Pill popping isn't a good thing."
  1940. >What did that even mean?
  1941. >He made a lot of references to things I didn't get.
  1942. >A lot of what we watch gives me insight to what he means.
  1943. >I slide up him from his waist to his chest and plop down.
  1944. >"Then I'll keep a close eye and ear on you."
  1945. "This is just your chance to lay with me when I'm nearly naked, don't lie."
  1946. >Flabbergasted, I fail to sputter out an answer and headbutt his chin in the process.
  1947. >He goes limp and his head rolls back.
  1948. >Oh god.
  1949. >"A-Anon?!"
  1950. >I have no words.
  1951. >I have no thoughts.
  1952. >I stand up and push him onto his back, stamping down on his ribs
  1953. >"Anon?!"
  1954. >His head darts up, causing me to jump back.
  1955. " really gotta be kinder to a sick guy. That nearly killed me."
  1956. >He lets his head drop again.
  1957. >Maybe I am overworrying but how could I not? I've never seen him like this before.
  1958. >I drop down again, sighing.
  1959. >"You're right... you'll be ok. But..."
  1960. >I feel a hand on my head, ruffling my mane.
  1961. "I'll be ok. Now you say it."
  1962. >"I'll be ok?"
  1963. >His ruffling intensifies until my head sways back and forth.
  1964. "No, you dork. I'll be fine. This isn't the first time I've been sick. I just need some time to recover. You don't need to panic. I'm not going to go away or anything like that. And I don't need a lot of tools or whatever."
  1965. >It hits me that he's right.
  1966. >The last time I heard or seen anyone like this was in the movies.
  1967. >It always was when someone was shot or stabbed or hurt and they were going to die.
  1968. >Anon isn't going to die.
  1969. >"You aren't going to die..."
  1970. >I repeat my thoughts by speaking. It wasn't a silly worry out of nowhere. But maybe it was.
  1971. "Nope. Not unless you keep tackling and smacking me. Abusing a sick man is just terrible."
  1972. >His tone is joking but I can't help but feel guilty.
  1973. >I lean against him, searching through everything I've seen about people being sick.
  1974. >I can't really remember anything about basic illnesses that haven't been the main plot or something terminal.
  1975. "How about this. Give me a few hours to sleep a bit more and we'll watch something. Sound good?"
  1976. >I nod almost instantly.
  1977. >"Sure."
  1978. "Cool. Keep an eye on me, alright?"
  1979. >I nod again, this time rubbing my face against his stomach so he can feel it.
  1980. "And Jack... I have one request for you personally."
  1981. >My ears perk up.
  1982. "No matter what... don't mess with the towel."
  1983. >He gives another tortured chuckle and winds down.
  1984. >I purse my lips and get ready to say something as a retort but... it's fine.
  1985. >He always messes with me like that and I do the same.
  1986. >Everything's normal, he's just a little sick is all.
  1987. >I close my eyes and contemplate that.
  1988. >And wonder how I can get back at him for teasing me.
  1990. >Christmas Day
  1991. >And you slept in just like it was a normal weekend morning
  1992. >Or any weekend day for that matter
  1993. >Or any weekend evening
  1994. >You used to sleep a whole ton before Jacky came into your life, like an automatic hibernation mode between work days
  1995. >Felt good to actually do that with someone
  1996. >You got a good sized package in the mail yesterday, but rather than show Jacky, you stuffed it in the hallway closet
  1997. >Jacky woke you up first on this most commercially celebrated of days
  1998. >She went from laying near your leg, to laying near your side, to laying on your chest, to laying on your face.
  1999. >What woke you up wasn't that her rump on your face
  2000. >"Hey Anon... I'm tired of sleeping. Wanna do breakfast?"
  2001. >She sounded a bit off
  2002. "Sure, Jack."
  2003. >Today felt like a day to be comfy, not to be snarky
  2004. >After a quiet breakfast in the living room, the ponelord spoke up
  2005. >"Anon... what's in the box?"
  2006. "Box? What box?"
  2007. >Ah crap, she either saw or sniffed it out
  2008. >"Is there someone in the box?"
  2009. >wat
  2010. "Wat."
  2011. >"You heard me. You aren't gonna replace me, are you?"
  2012. >Where did this come from?
  2013. "What's this about?"
  2014. >"My box is still here..."
  2015. >You avoided Jack's gaze for a bit to try to play it off but now it sounded like this was something that was seriously bugging her
  2016. >The look on her face is that of a defensive pokerface
  2017. >But you can tell there's something sad behind it
  2018. >She hasn't had enough chances to practice a poker face on something serious
  2019. "Yeah, it is... I don't know how much you're connected to it, and those hats seem kinda cool. I don't want to throw it away and leave you with nothing."
  2020. >Her mask cracks but holds
  2021. >"It's been almost a month... you technically could still send me back if you had the box and package."
  2022. >Does she genuinely think you're going to get rid of her?
  2023. >You feel sick at the very notion of it
  2024. >Besides, the box you brought in isn't anywhere near as big, nowhere near big enough to hold a pony in
  2025. "Listen Jack... why don't I just bring in the box and I can show you. Then we can ditch both that and your box in the trash and never see them again."
  2026. >You get up and the mask cracks even more
  2027. >What you could see as panic is behind the cracks
  2028. >"Wait, Anon, don't. Let's just go back to breakfast and..."
  2029. "No, I'm gonna whip it out and you can't stop me."
  2030. >Whatever her worry was, it was unacceptable
  2031. >How could you possibly just toss her away like a toy?
  2032. >She isn't some random toy
  2033. >Technically she is but her place is at home
  2034. >Which is with you
  2035. >Hopefully
  2036. >You bring out the box and hold it in front of Jacky before sitting down with it
  2037. "Bring your butt over here, I want you to see this.
  2038. >The mask cracks until it's mild panic
  2039. >"No Anon, I promise it's ok, you don't need to open it."
  2040. >You ignore her and undo the tape with your hands and open it
  2041. >Nothing but bubble wrap
  2042. >And something wrapped in plastic
  2043. >She visibly flinches when you pull it out
  2044. >She surely never thought you'd whip out something with such gusto
  2045. >It's a... hat
  2046. >A black cowboy hat, to be precise
  2047. >A black Stetson fur and felt hat, to be even more exact
  2048. >You know your cowboy hats
  2049. >And it's far from cheap
  2050. >Technically cost more than she did
  2051. >You slip it out of the plastic and turn upside down
  2052. >A large "Jacky" is stitched into the inside, near the hem so it isn't obvious
  2053. >Jacky's expression is that of complete shock, compete with a slacked jaw
  2054. >Without ceremony you pop it on her head
  2055. >It fits pretty well
  2056. >It better, it took entire mornings of you to get measurements of her head and a sleeping horse head isn't the easiest thing to measure all around
  2057. >As if it spoke for itself, you pursed your lips at her and held your arms out
  2058. >She doesn't react
  2059. >You don't move
  2060. >Both of you just sit there with your appropriate expressions
  2061. >"So... I'm not going anywhere?"
  2062. "You're gonna go outside after I fling you from the patio if you keep looking at me like that."
  2063. >"But... the box. The return warranty."
  2064. "What the hell am I going to return? Is there something I'm not happy with?"
  2065. >The question has no answer
  2066. "Besides, that tiny cowboy had you had didn't fit you. Almost none of it did. I wanted something I was sure you'd want. Because you'd have zero shame about avenging me if I got shot, I got you a black hat because that's some Josey Wales shit right there."
  2067. >Wait, did you even see that movie together yet?
  2068. "So... yeah. It's Christmas today. And I wanted to give you a gift. So there you go, you have a hat that I know for sure fits you, rather than some... goofy shit that you might not even be aware of."
  2069. >You shrug
  2070. >"And I didn't throw away your box because I thought you'd want to keep it around. Or maybe because you wanted to take down any information. If you want to throw it away, we can do that. I don't mind. Your home is here and...with me."
  2071. >A now hatted Jacky pounces you
  2072. >Knocks the air out of you, actually
  2073. >She wraps her legs around you in a tight hug
  2074. >You hug her midsection with one arm and pat her shoulder with the other
  2075. "Merry Christmas Jack."
  2076. >She doesn't reply for a while
  2077. >Or at all
  2078. "I said, Merry Christmas Jack."
  2079. >Nothing
  2080. >You shake your head and grab the top of her hat and pop it from her skull, her ears now revealed
  2082. >She scrambles from the shout in her ear to no avail
  2083. >"D-don't need to shout at me, I couldn't hear you!?"
  2084. >Fair enough, you would have to figure out a way to modify it... which was a polite way to say that you'd have to take a knife to it because you were most certainly not a tailor of any type
  2085. >You resume the hug, hat in hand
  2086. >After a few moments she speaks up
  2087. >"Anon... what's a Christmas?"
  2088. >After giving her a tl;dr of the holiday and taking the boxes downstairs into the garage dumpster area, you return with renewed energy
  2089. >Both of you have renewed energy, actually
  2090. >She was able to begin a new at life with no apprehension about where she belonged or where she was going to be in the near future
  2091. >You gave her a really bitchin' hat that you had kept in your head for weeks now
  2092. >You couldn't have brought it up to her beforehand because it would've spoiled it
  2093. >Maybe next time you'll give her at least a vague hint
  2094. >Though it took some communication, she managed on having her hat tilted back, kinda like what Applejack would do with her hats
  2095. >Her ears pop out from the side and while she mentioned that she can hear herself really well, she can at least hear you too
  2096. >It would take some time, but it would help mold to her unique head
  2097. >You tried to explain it but that only succeeded in weirding her out about the idea of a hat molding and changing shape
  2098. >"So Anon... who's Josey Wales?"
  2099. >You squint her eyes at her
  2100. >She squints them back
  2101. "You, uh... you sure you wanna know that, pilgrim? He ain't no hero. He's an outlaw."
  2102. >With the expression she made at the word 'outlaw', you're sure you could imagine a rattlesnake rattle going off in her head
  2103. >"He a bad guy, then?"
  2104. >You shrug
  2105. "Some say that. But the man's done a fair amount of good too. No one's a bad guy in their own story. Just like Tuco."
  2106. >"Or Angel Eyes?"
  2107. "Exactly... even Angel Eyes."
  2108. >"So... who is he then?"
  2109. "Let's grab some snacks and I'll show you just who he is."
  2110. >That was all you had to say
  2111. >She galloped full blast to your room
  2112. >You could hear a sudden silence of noise and then a muffled 'oof'
  2113. >At least your mattress could take a beating, otherwise you'd be worried with how often you find her jumping on it
  2114. >Eventually you return to your room with a bag of chips, a pair of bottles of birch beer, and a long plastic bottle full of lemonade
  2115. >Well, half lemonade, half water
  2116. >It's the most restorative vending machine drink from the old Pokemon games so it's surely good enough for you
  2117. >You set up the video while Jacky looks for a good place to lay or sit
  2118. >The best place to sit or lay that would allow her to keep her hat on, of course
  2119. >Given how she looks, you made the right choice
  2120. >You only really went out to work and to the grocery store every now and again so you never really got an excuse to wear your appropriate southern hat
  2121. >Besides, that was your hat
  2122. >You aren't giving your hat to anyone
  2123. >You start up the movie and it begins... at a very low note
  2124. >A man loses his wife and child from a company of Union soldiers wearing red boots
  2125. >It took her a moment to realize it, but the dialogue fills her in
  2126. >Her ears twitch
  2127. >"Hey... is this like the civil war? Like that bridge battle?"
  2128. >You nod
  2129. "The one and the same..."
  2130. >After buying his own family, Josey Wales gets picked up by a Confederate band and joins them in fighting the war
  2131. >Until it ends
  2132. >The entire band he rode with surrenders in a Union soldier camp, only to get cut down by a gatling gun
  2133. >Then Josey rides in, bringing hell with him and single-handedly slaughters a good portion of the camp
  2134. >A young man, part of Josey's band, convinces him to leave the camp
  2135. >It's a far more cruel, one-sided look at the Civil War
  2136. >Even the once-leader of Josey's band, Fletcher, got roped into chasing down the vengeful murderer
  2137. >Jacky watches all of this with a more skilled mind and eye than the previous movies
  2138. >No longer does she get scared or sad from the combat and death
  2139. >But the young man was shot in the crossfire
  2140. >The journey continues
  2141. >The pair meet a white-coated salesman that positively oozes slime
  2142. >They outsmart Fletcher and the Union soldiers
  2143. >There's already something of a sense of infamy about him
  2144. >Both from his deeds, and from Union soldiers painting him as a demon
  2145. >Jacky cheers at the scene where Josey shoots at a ferry
  2146. >Rather, the rope that keeps a ferry from hopelessly floating down the Missouri River
  2147. >Her happiness is short-lived though
  2148. >The young man is on his last leg
  2149. >Talking about the history of his shirt
  2150. >How his father did the embroidery work on it
  2151. >He begins singing in an almost delirious state until a pair of bounty hunters ambush them!
  2152. >They have Josey pinned down and held at rifle point with no escape and no way to fight them
  2153. >Until the young man starts singing again
  2154. >And confuses one of the bounty hunters while talking about... gold
  2155. >"Gold? When did they rob a bank?!"
  2156. >You say nothing, because just as soon as one of the bounty hunters goes to the young man, he pulls away his blanket and shoots one of the men!
  2157. >Josey shoots the other one and they take off without even burying the men
  2158. >"That's cold..." Jacky murmurs
  2159. >Indeed, the traveling pair were criminals, being hunted down and in enemy territory
  2160. >Not just from the Union military, but from anyone with a gun and the dumb courage to shoot a dangerous man for a bounty
  2161. >Compared to the previous protagonists we saw, Clint Eastwood was playing more of a villain again
  2162. >Almost like Unforgiven
  2163. >Josey and the young man camp out in the rain and after a short conversation, the young man passes from his wounds
  2164. >You spy the surprise on Jacky's face
  2165. >He seemed like a main character, and surely he could've healed from it!
  2166. >But the scene from Unforgiven pops up in your mind, and surely hers
  2167. >Getting shot at all can be nasty business, even if it takes days for it to come to a head
  2168. >You lean back and pop open one of the bottles of birch beer for her
  2169. >Josey meets a wide number of quirky characters, involving an old Indian in a top hat, a female Indian that seems to know barely any English, and even a rich old woman and her daughter
  2170. >They all end up sticking together despite Josey's infamy
  2171. >They even fight along him, or cover his identity when they can
  2172. >The movie overall gives a rather sympathetic view to the Indians, the frontier, and the Confederate side of the Civil War
  2173. >Not that Jacky particularly knew the history of it all to begin with
  2174. >When it ends, she looks up at you as if waiting for an answer
  2175. >What to watch next?
  2176. >Watch it again?
  2177. >Was this the same character as the other movies because it was the same actor?
  2178. >Why did the Indian have a horned toad giving him directions?
  2179. "Wanna watch another?"
  2180. >She nods, the hat jostling on her head
  2181. >You get a weird feeling
  2182. "Hey Jack... for this being Christmas, shouldn't we watch something like a real proper Christmas movie?"
  2183. >She shrugs
  2184. >"I guess. What's a good Christmas movie though?"
  2185. >You grin
  2186. "Jacky... you know what we're gonna do for the rest of the night?"
  2187. >She looks at you with a surprised expression
  2188. >"W-wait, I'm not ready yet..."
  2189. "That's right."
  2190. >"Anon, no."
  2191. "Yes, Jack. It's gonna happen right now."
  2192. >"Anon, just because I got a hat you can't possib--"
  2193. "We're gonna DIE HARD."
  2194. >She squints at you, lost in thought
  2195. >As if you just gave some secret code of an analogy
  2196. >"I... how? We're going to what?"
  2197. >You raise your arms in the air and screech with the sheer might of autism
  2199. >This isn't much of a Christmas
  2200. >In fact, the snow has been melting outside for the last few days
  2201. >It looks kinda crummy out
  2202. >And there's no sign of real holiday cheer in your home
  2203. >It's really only a holiday in name because there's only you and her and neither of you are concerned about stocking stuffing or present giving
  2204. >You don't even have any turkey or ham or big dinner to worry about
  2205. >You just have sodas, snacks, a pizza in the freezer and bratwursts in the fridge
  2206. >But God damn it if it isn't the best day of the year for you both
  2208. >New Year
  2209. >What a year it's been already
  2210. >You forgot to tell Jack about it because it really didn't mean much to you outside of having another few days off work
  2211. >You had to explain it when nearby fireworks caused her to freak out
  2212. >They hardly sounded like gunfire but that was the only point of reference she had
  2213. >It's now 2020 and...
  2214. >Neither of you are doing anything
  2215. >The mellow yellow ponelass lays across your lap, watching an anime series you brought up in a passing conversation while you focus on your own laptop to play some tower defense game involving monkeys
  2216. >Funky monkeys
  2217. >The anime is one of your oldest favorites, Outlaw Star
  2218. >As action-packed as it is, Jacky seems far more interested in the character Melfina
  2219. >She was found in a box too
  2220. >Just a very expensive metal box, instead of cardboard
  2221. >She didn't come with any hats though
  2222. >"Hey Anon... how does a Caster gun work? Is it magic or just really powerful bullets?"
  2223. >You focus on your challenge run, your right arm resting on her flank while your left hand has been petting her mane ever since she started
  2224. >You extended your fingers and became an organic brush
  2225. >It really wasn't necessary since her hair was very soft but that was part of the appeal
  2226. >Every now and again you'd go to her ear, just to feel her lean into it
  2227. >Neither of you seem to mind such open intimacy, despite having seen sexual scenes in movies
  2228. >Both consensual and not
  2229. >No one brings it up so where's the harm in it?
  2230. >You know she enjoys it too
  2231. >And you know she knows you enjoy it
  2232. >As long as no one mentions it, the spell of silence and secrecy remains
  2233. >"...Anon?"
  2234. >You shake your head to clear your mind of other things
  2235. "Caster shells are... both, really. They are magic and they are really bad ass bullets. You saw what it did in the first two episodes, right?"
  2236. >She nods, eyes glued to the screen
  2237. >You think you've turned her into a computer addict
  2238. >"The gunshot sounds are the same as the movies too... are those stock sounds?"
  2239. "Yup, they are. It's pretty wild how much stuff you can pick up on after a while."
  2240. >"Mmm."
  2241. >This continues for a few more episodes
  2242. >You enjoy listening to the scenes but they begin to blend together between the mix of your arm on flank and the monotony of doing challenge maps
  2243. >This has become something of a norm to you both
  2244. >There's still the occasional big movie reveal and marathon, but with your backlog of games and her ever-increasing backlog of movies and shows, it's become more the norm to end up entangled in one another with both laptops going
  2245. >Occasionally there's snacking or the decently made dinner that lasts for a few days
  2246. >But, in Jacky's words, it cuts into your "her time"
  2247. >And it cuts into her "your time"
  2248. >You can't argue against it
  2249. >Sleeping together has always been a thing but she's recently stopped being your pillow
  2250. >You're kinda happy to have a normal pillow that doesn't grumble or jostle around
  2251. >She's either taken to laying on you, or at your side
  2252. >Usually facing you
  2253. >She has to be on equal face level as you
  2254. >She requires an arm around her, even if your arm falls asleep
  2255. >She prefers a blanket that's only half on her
  2256. >When you wake up before her, you have to wake her up and let her know that it's time to get ready for work
  2257. >Somehow your SMT alarm doesn't do anything for her but you nudge your arm enough and she just looks at you like something shocked her
  2258. >She wasn't really like this before
  2259. "Hey jack."
  2260. >"Mmm?"
  2261. "I'm gonna beat your butt like a bongo drum."
  2262. >"Mmm."
  2263. >Welp
  2264. >You didn't expect that
  2265. >She doesn't seem to completely enthralled in the anime to not notice
  2266. "D'you hear me? I'll play Babaloo on your butt. Hands are gonna go there and nothing's gonna stop it."
  2267. >She shifts on you
  2268. >Not really enough to do anything
  2269. >More like she's adjusting herself or something
  2270. >"Mmm. Okay."
  2271. >Normally you'd have some sort of resistance by now
  2272. >Or comment
  2273. >You shrug to yourself and slide your arm back until your hand is on her flank
  2274. >You give her a few pats
  2275. "Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa ba loooooooooo..."
  2276. >You're not Cuban so you can't bring yourself to go all in with the energy of a Ricardo
  2277. >Nothing
  2278. >Not a thing
  2279. >Her tail flicks around a few times but that's it
  2280. >You give her butt a few more pats
  2281. "I like you, Jack."
  2282. >"I like you too, Anon."
  2283. "I really like you, Jack."
  2284. >"I really like you too, Anon."
  2285. >This is just getting... uncomfortable
  2286. >For you
  2287. >Not because you don't like it but you just can't help but something else is up, or that she's just distracted
  2288. "If you can hear this, don't repeat it."
  2289. >You wait
  2290. >"If you can hear this, don't forget that I have two sides."
  2291. >She's not zoning you out
  2292. >She's consciously fine and good with what you're doing
  2293. "...Hey Jack."
  2294. >"...Hey Anon."
  2295. "...Did something... change? What's up?"
  2296. >Her tail flickers around a bit more
  2297. >Did it used to do that before?
  2298. >It usually flicks up and to the side
  2299. >"Well... no. I just don't dislike this stuff with you."
  2300. "Oh... what about sleeping differently now?"
  2301. >"I like sleeping with you and... I guess I want you to know that I'm not just an animal or something."
  2302. >You feel unusually tense
  2303. >What is this power
  2304. >You're pretty good about being smooth but this is just something you're just plain not used to
  2305. >"Hey Anon."
  2306. "H-hey Jacky."
  2307. >" you like me more when I have the French accent?"
  2308. >wat
  2309. "Well... it's cute, yeah. Definitely. But I like your normal voice too."
  2310. >"But do you like that accent a lot coming from me specifically?"
  2311. >You guffaw
  2312. "Oh hell yeah. You could melt an iceberg with that voice."
  2313. >"What other accents do you like?"
  2314. "Iiiiiiiiii'm not sure. A lot I suppose."
  2315. >Your mind immediately goes toward a certain maiden, clad in black with wax over her eyes
  2316. >You can't help but chuckle at sticky white stuff
  2317. >The answer and chuckle finally makes her head turn to you
  2318. >She isn't really blushing but she is smiling
  2319. >"You know... Valentine's Day is just around the corner."
  2320. >Wait what
  2321. "Valentine's Day? That's more than a month away."
  2322. >"Yeah... I know. I've been studying some stuff about holidays."
  2323. "And... you focused on Valentine's Day? Why's that?"
  2324. >You try to maintain a poker face but you can't keep it up
  2325. >"Well it's the next holiday on the list of things, right?"
  2326. >It was
  2327. "Oh... well yeah. Obviously. Totally."
  2328. >"Obviously..."
  2329. >You catch her eyes and they lock onto each other
  2330. >You're pretty good about staring contests and not blinking but this makes you feel like a complete neophyte
  2331. >You avert her gaze
  2332. >You bring up your right hand to your face to bring your elbow to her flank
  2333. " what do you want to do for dinner? We don't got that much for leftovers."
  2334. >"You're poking me pretty hard right now."
  2335. >What the hell did she mean by this
  2336. >You can't confirm or deny that you are, in fact, poking her with anything
  2337. "W-wait, what?!"
  2338. >"Your elbow is poking into me..."
  2339. >Your eyes go down and of course you're leaning into your arm, causing it to prod into her
  2340. >Your arm goes back down out of a growing sense of shame
  2341. >Since when were you ever the ashamed type?
  2342. >"Thank you."
  2343. >She shifts again, making you visibly flinch
  2344. >She's making herself comfortable, you don't need to think about anything about it
  2345. >"Hot Ice Hilda..."
  2346. >Your attention focuses back on her
  2347. "Hilda? What about her?"
  2348. >"I didn't know that her having that sort of sultry attitude actually worked."
  2349. >WHAT
  2350. >She grins at you
  2351. >"Just like how Gene can't handle her if she's serious, you can't handle me if I'm serious."
  2352. >What the hell?!
  2353. >Was this some sort of prank?
  2354. "Oh shove off!"
  2355. >You give her flank a swat, like you would to a horse to make her quickly flee
  2356. >Instead she yelps
  2357. >An honest to God female yelp that's a little less focused on pain than you would think
  2358. >You're not sure you expected that reaction
  2359. >"..."
  2360. "..."
  2361. >"..."
  2362. "...I'm blaming you for exactly what is happening right now. And that too."
  2363. >The 'that' in question was exactly what you meant
  2364. >"...I'm sorry."
  2365. "...No you're not."
  2366. >"Not really."
  2367. >You shake your head until you're dizzy and clear your throat
  2368. "You know, your ma would..."
  2369. >"You know, you thinking about my ma right now of all times..."
  2370. "That's not what I meant, man!"
  2371. >"I know. How's it feel to be on the other side of it?
  2372. "Pretty damn spooky when I don't know how far you'll go with it.
  2373. >"And you're worried how far it'll go?"
  2374. "Well no, not with you but..."
  2375. >"But what?"
  2376. >You hesitate
  2377. >You aren't a virgin
  2378. >But you've never gotten that much intimacy
  2379. >Or affection
  2380. >You enjoy being a bit of a cad but you don't honestly think anything of it
  2381. >It's just all in good fun
  2382. "...Well I like you. I like you a whole bunch. And I don't want you ever thinking that you're 'done' here, or that you should move on."
  2383. >Her teasing and worse finally subsides
  2384. >"Wait, why would I ever do something dumb like that?"
  2385. >A tiny bit of a southern twang pops up
  2386. >It's become her default angry or frustrated tone
  2387. >Kinda like how her French accent has become her default when she's really sleepy
  2388. >"What would I move on from? Living with my friend? My family? My--"
  2389. >She audibly stumbles to shut herself up
  2390. >"...human?"
  2391. >You purse your lips and give her a squinting look of dubious understanding
  2392. " what."
  2393. >"My... male. My h-human male."
  2394. >You feel stupid
  2395. >As much as you fool around and dance around certain topics, you still really don't know how she thinks, or what she thinks
  2396. >You feel very stupid
  2397. >But you can't bring yourself to think that it's without warrant
  2398. "And you are my friend. My female... horse?"
  2399. >It doesn't exactly sound romantic when you put it that way, does it
  2400. "But... I'm pretty sure we're more than friends."
  2401. >"Well duh, y'ain't ever slept with someone you didn't like as more than just a friend, right?"
  2402. >You hold up a finger
  2403. "I have slept with my friends at previous conventions, that isn't the best rubric."
  2404. >"A what?"
  2405. "A con is... listen. I'm just... worried about things going wrong. Of you deciding that you regret being around me.Or you decide to just... switch yourself off and you're no longer interested in me no matter what I try to do or say. Or you try to tell me that it didn't mean what I thought it did. Or... just something else happens and I don't know, I'm rambling."
  2406. >You're normally so good at being stoic and calm and in control of yourself but you can't help but sound... what can only be described as "pathetic", from your point of view
  2407. >You already let her see too much of you when you were on the floor that one time
  2408. >...
  2409. >Did you really just think that?
  2410. >Did you think that it was a good idea to keep yourself from her when she has ever only been open and honest to you?
  2411. >You must have some sort of expression on your face because Jacky finally got up
  2412. >If only to sit on your lap, facing you
  2413. >"You're worrying... you know you don't have to, right?"
  2414. "Iiiiiiii want to believe that."
  2415. >"Do you not trust me?"
  2416. "I do trust you. But I am worried about a lot of stuff that I can't help. It isn't because of you at all. It has a lot to do with just... how things were for me for a long time. It's a reflex. An instinct, or what feels like one. It's like a series of hairs standing on the back of my neck, like it's a danger sense. Something that's telling me that I'm vulnerable and if I'm vulnerable, something bad is going to happen."
  2417. >She headbutts your chest
  2418. >"D'ya feel that?"
  2419. "...yeah. Hard to not feel that rock head of yours."
  2420. >"I'm here, right in front of you. I don't have a thing in the world to gain by being anyone but myself to you."
  2421. >Ironic that she would say that when she's just a fake copy of Applejack
  2422. >You feel a bitter sickness from your gut for even thinking something so pessimistic to her, for even a split second
  2423. "I know... trust me, my conscious mind knows. I actively know and believe in that. But it's not something I can immediately control"
  2424. >"Are you... afraid to... be more than friends?"
  2425. "Me? No. Of course not. No. Good God, no."
  2426. >...
  2427. "I... am afraid that it may not mean anything to you. That it may mean more to me than to you."
  2428. >She gives you this look like you outright insulted her
  2429. >But she doesn't reply with anger
  2430. >" really have had something like that happen?"
  2431. >You can't do anything but nod at her
  2432. >A lot of guys would be proud of free reign of certain things like that
  2433. >But you never wanted that sort of unattractive freedom
  2434. >It made you feel like you were worth less
  2435. "I'm... very. Very... incredibly very far and away from being some prude or puritan."
  2436. >"I'll say, I've seen your browser history."
  2437. >Your face contorts
  2438. >You do not have a reply for that
  2439. >Maintain the course, man
  2440. "And... I..."
  2441. >Your voice audibly strains
  2442. "I... would like to enjoy just how things are. And have things happen because it just seems natural to do. And then have things just stay good like that."
  2443. >You tried to ignore the sensation before
  2444. >Your head was spinning but now it feels like your entire body is floating
  2445. >Not particularly in a good way
  2446. >She keeps you grounded by not getting off of your lap
  2447. >"...I think I missed an episode by now."
  2448. >You both glance over and it seems like an episode is already at the end
  2449. >You haven't been paying attention to which episode was playing
  2450. "...sorry for killing the mood."
  2451. >For being so goofy, you were aware of how weird it was that you took so much so seriously
  2452. >Before you know it, you have horse face pressed against yours
  2453. >A kiss
  2454. >Wait
  2455. >Wat
  2456. >A kiss?!
  2457. >As soon as it registers in your head, it ends
  2458. >So that's what that feels like when someone you really like does that
  2459. >You can't ever remember of when you've experienced that
  2460. >You hold up a finger, lips prepared to speak
  2461. >You draw a complete blank
  2462. >An absolute blank
  2463. >Whatever you do, you can't lick your lips
  2464. >Not when she's staring right at you
  2465. >Pleased as a plum pie on a windowsill
  2466. >"Better?"
  2467. >Who did she think she was?
  2468. >Who said that a kiss like that would just make you feel better?
  2469. >In what world would something out of the blue like that mean so much to just wipe your worries and woes away?
  2470. >Who the hell did she think she was?!
  2471. "...Yeah. Yeah... must better."
  2472. >Evidently she was a pony named Jacky and evidently you were proven that yes, something so pure and simple was enough to help
  2473. >"So...wanna go back to us just doing our thing? Or do you wanna do something else?"
  2474. >You pause
  2475. >You look at her
  2476. >You squint your eyes at her
  2477. >She squints her eyes at you
  2478. "You better not..."
  2479. >"Aim for the heart..."
  2480. >She growls at you, trying to imitate a grumbly, gravely voice
  2481. >You close your monkey defense game and set up your favorite movie
  2482. >You must've seen it at least a dozen times with her already
  2483. >What's one more time?
  2484. >And another after that?
  2485. >Does it really matter how many times you watch it, as long as it's with her?
  2486. >The laptop answers for you
  2488. >Jacky whistles the appropriate followup tune
  2489. >God damn it, she's amazing
  2490. >You spend the rest of the evening with her on your lap, watching the same movie again and again
  2492. >You had a good day
  2493. >Work was good
  2494. >You stopped by your apartment on your lunch break and surprised Jacky
  2495. >You even remembered that the weekend existed!
  2496. >Far too hyped to hang out with Jack now that you've officially crossed into a new realm, you burst through your front door
  2497. >Jacky's in the kitchen, in mid-bite of the lunch you forgot to take
  2498. >Her look is one of surprise
  2499. "The flinch in your eye calls your bluff."
  2500. >You point at her, taking an aggressive stance
  2501. >"W-what? You didn't eat this so I thought it'd be better if..."
  2502. "Feel free to die when you've had enough!"
  2503. >Jacky looks to her sides to see if you really are talking to her
  2504. "Useless cause is breaking your back."
  2505. >You take a step toward her, the front door still open
  2506. >"Anon, you forgot the--"
  2507. "Your life will end when you attack!"
  2508. >"What in Sam's Hill are you going on about--"
  2509. >You close your eyes and shout over her
  2510. "Make the move, ma̢ke your̵ sta̶n̛d, make ͜t̷hé wi͢n, ha, like you can!"
  2511. >You glare at her and pounce!
  2512. >In astonishing luck, you tumble with her until you land on your back
  2513. >Jacky's a bit dazed from the sudden attack but is looking at you with a stern glare of incomprehension
  2514. >"...what the heck just happened?"
  2515. "Uh... see the war, see me rule?"
  2516. >You're a little out of it, yourself
  2517. >You didn't expect yourself to leap at her like some sort of predatory feline
  2518. >You certainly didn't expect her to roll with you
  2519. >Ow your back
  2520. >Your everything
  2521. >Why did you do this
  2522. >"...are you finished there?"
  2523. "See the... yeah I am. You pounced me a few times, so I thought I'd return the favor for once or something."
  2524. >Jacky bounces on your torso, making you cough up what feels like a lung before bouncing off of you
  2525. >"I'm like a third your size, I can get away with it!"
  2526. >You watch her go to the door and nudge it closed with her face
  2527. >You lay on your back, questioning what about your day led you to this exact situation
  2528. "...well one of these days I'm going to glue stilts to your legs, then we'll see who's bigger and is susceptible to attack."
  2529. >You say that as it is a matter of when it'll happen rather than if
  2530. >Jacky watches you... and goes back to the plastic lunch container that you luckily avoided when you launched yourself like E.Honda
  2531. >She lowers her head and deliberately eats it in front of your defeated frame
  2532. "That's... just insult to injury now."
  2533. >"Yeah? Well you hurt yourself so now I'm gonna eat your lunch on purpose."
  2534. "You were already eating it on purpose!"
  2535. >"I was but now it's to teach you a lesson."
  2536. "Wha... what?! I haven't learned a thing!"
  2537. >You futilely thrash on the ground for a second before realizing you still have your boots on and don't want to cause a racket
  2538. >"Ahhhhhhhhm nom nom, Anon's lunch. I bet he wouldn't even want this given he has the energy to divebomb a pony..."
  2539. >You weakly lift a hand to try to stop her, shaking as hard as you can
  2540. "I... was saving that... for dinner..."
  2541. >You give a death rattle and exhale
  2542. >You can only hear her eating your lunch
  2543. >Loudly
  2544. >On purpose
  2545. >She doesn't even check on you
  2546. >Or loot your pockets for your wallet
  2547. " know that's just cold to watch a man die."
  2548. >You sit up, stretching out your arms
  2549. >They pop and crack slightly, as they have for years now
  2550. >"You're fine, an action hero like you needs to be stabbed at least."
  2551. >You grimace
  2552. "...boy am I glad you're not a unicorn sometimes."
  2553. >She finishes your food before replying, not that there was much in there to begin with that you saw
  2554. >"If I was... would you still like me the same?"
  2555. >You scoff
  2556. "Of course I would. You saw how Twilight and Rarity were, right? You could probably bench press me if you were one."
  2557. >She mocks an offended tone
  2558. >"What, you think I can't do that right now?"
  2559. >You scoff again, tilting my head back
  2560. "Psh! A soft, dainty, pretty pony like you? You'd put your hooves on me and ask me to be gentle."
  2561. >She struts over to you, imitating Rarity's accent to an uncanny degree
  2562. >The voice is wrong but she has the rich, froufrou tone down like a mimic
  2563. >"Oh puh-leaaaaaaaaaseA If I were a you-knee-corn, you would be at my beck. And. Call!"
  2564. >She strikes a pose and rotates her head to the side until her mane goes loose and nearly reaches the ground
  2565. >It... kinda sounds attractive
  2566. >A lot of her imitations sound attractive as hell
  2567. >The showmanship helps sell it
  2568. "Yeah yeah... as if I'd ever fall for that sort of thing."
  2569. >Squinting at you, she dramatically tumbles over like you until she lands on her back
  2570. >"I've fallen... and I can't get up!"
  2571. >The last of her words come out like a squeal of pain
  2572. "You've fallen and you refuse to get up. If you had a horn I'd just throw you at the wall like a dart. Then my lunch would be free."
  2573. >Disappointed that the most you do is give her tummy a few rubs, she works herself back up a sitting posture
  2574. >"Alright then... what about if I were a pegasus?"
  2575. >You shrug
  2576. " I'm not much of a bird guy."
  2577. >She gives you an incredulous look
  2578. >"But... pegasus are horses."
  2579. "But they have wings, so they're birds."
  2580. >She looks at you like you said something insane
  2581. "But... I would be a horse. Just with wings."
  2582. >You nod as if it all makes sense
  2583. "Yeah... or, in other words, a bird with hooves."
  2584. >She stamps her front legs down
  2585. >"Not everything with wings are birds! Dinosaurs have wings!"
  2586. >You continue to nod
  2587. "Yeah, but dinosaurs evolved into birds."
  2588. >She stares at you, unable to believe what you just said
  2589. >" they didn't?"
  2590. >She sounds unsure of herself
  2591. "Dude, they totally did. Every single one of them. Especially raptors."
  2592. >"Wha... ho... whe..."
  2593. >She shakes her head and gives out a cry of frustration, deciding to let diplomacy fail
  2594. >In favor of violence
  2595. >She headbutts your arm
  2596. "...was that supposed to hurt?"
  2597. >She jerks her head back and headbutts your arm again
  2598. >and again
  2599. >and again
  2600. >It's like that time Ed was a woodpecker
  2601. >Except with dirt
  2602. "...You're not gonna stop until I say it hurts are you."
  2603. >She keeps going
  2604. >You're really not sure how she has the head for violence
  2605. >Must be all of the violent movies and video games
  2606. "Ow... please stop. My tender human body was made for love, not war."
  2607. >You speak in as dull and as monotone a voice as you can muster
  2608. >Only then does she stop
  2609. >She brings her head up and her mane is a mess
  2610. >Her eyes are vaguely derped out
  2611. >She's smiling
  2612. >"Aaa-aa-aand I knew it! I shaaa-aaa-aaall accept your defeat."
  2613. >You ruffle her mane and shake her head, intensifying her daze
  2614. >She actually falls over, unable to stop you
  2615. >You watch her lay there
  2616. "So, what'd'ya wanna do today?"
  2617. >She doesn't reply, laughing a little
  2618. >"Ahhh don't know."
  2619. "Neither do I..."
  2620. >You both stay there
  2621. >You don't even really rush to take off your boots
  2622. >Everything's doing pretty well, all things considered
  2623. >After a few minutes of admiring the silence you speak up
  2624. "Wanna lay together and watch a movie but not really pay attention to it for reasons?"
  2625. >Her head picks up
  2626. >"Can it be that one movie based off of that fighting game so we can only really pay attention to the fight scenes?"
  2627. "Deal. Now prepare thyself, because once we get started I will..."
  2628. >You squint at her
  2629. "Test your might."
  2630. >...
  2631. >...
  2632. >She just stares at you, expecting a followup
  2633. >"Is... that a thing from the game?"
  2634. "Yes."
  2635. >"Like, a real saying, or just a little random thing you picked up?"
  2636. "No, it's from the actual game."
  2637. >"You're sure? That doesn't sound like anything I'd put if I made a game an--"
  2638. "Just get your butt to bed so I can take off my boots and we can pretend to watch it already!"
  2639. >She bolts as if that was the only thing she needed to hear
  2640. >You hear... a thud?
  2641. >A muffle "got dang it!"
  2642. >The sound of some things getting ruffled about
  2643. >Did that sound like a bag of chips?
  2644. >That better not be your bag!
  2645. >You strip down from your pants and boots and charge to your room, ready to pounce again
  2648. >Home
  2649. >Finally
  2650. >You trudge in, dragging yourself to where you kick your boots off and unceremoniously plop down onto your mattress
  2651. >Jacky, having sprawled out on said mattress, jolted upright when you landed
  2652. >"Zuh-zombies!? Ahmma buckin' a..." she let out a loud, unlady-like yawn before finishing her threat
  2653. >You return the yawn through fabric until it's more vibration than sound
  2654. >"Welcome home, Anon... something up?"
  2655. >You repeat the yawn and go into a long, detailed explanation about work and how exhausting it was, both physically and mentally
  2656. >You tell her what's on your mind and that you just want to eat something nice and hug her and other things and just relax because the rest of the week will probably go terribly, terribly bad
  2657. >It all comes out as a muffled mess that does not translate into anything audible
  2658. >Jacky, ever the polite and kind, waits until after you finish
  2659. >She pokes your head with her face
  2660. >"...y'know I ain't heard a lick of that, right?"
  2661. >Muffled scream intensifies
  2662. >You wrench up your head, nearly bonking her nose in the process
  2663. >You roll your eyes up and exhale, causing her to flinch
  2664. >After a nearly zombie-like groan, you focus on her
  2665. "Wanna go eat out somewhere for dinner?"
  2666. >The sudden ask makes her scrunch her face
  2667. >"Like... a date? Dinner date?"
  2668. >You drag yourself up into a sitting position
  2669. "Yeah, I wanna take you out and be... not exactly fancy, but do something... official. You know. We don't really go out all that often except for the store and... well, that's all the excuse I care to mention."
  2670. >Jacky gives you an unreadable expression, her face still scrunched up
  2671. >Did she learn that by watching the show?
  2672. >"...can I wear my hat?"
  2673. "Jack, if you don't wear your hat, I'll wear it."
  2674. >She gasps and rears her head down to headbutt you
  2675. >"Do that and I'll wear you as a hat!"
  2676. "Like I wore you like a hat?"
  2677. >The comeback flabbergasts the yellow pony
  2678. "Ooooooooooooh! Owned!"
  2679. >You extend your arms up and wobble to stand without stabilizing yourself
  2680. >You turn your back to her
  2681. >You really shouldn't have
  2682. >She charges at you and hits the back of your knee
  2683. >You barely have time to think 'what the hell' until you're already on your back
  2684. >A squished Jacky underneath you
  2685. >You remain there, letting the consequences of her actions soak in
  2686. >You feel movement under you after a while
  2687. >"G...get... offa... me!"
  2688. "You know I said that but you sure never listen..."
  2689. >"You've never said that!"
  2690. "Yeah, well... yeah, that's true. Fair enough. Grab your hat and we'll splitskies."
  2691. >You roll off of her and change into something a little more presentable while she tackles her hat
  2692. >You're aware of the tiny bite marks on one part of the hat... but it is hers so you don't really think it's anything to worry about
  2693. >You lock your door with her leading the way out
  2694. >You've only gone out with her a few times for short trips
  2695. >You feel a tiny bit guilty for not going out with her more to do anything but you just aren't the sort to go out all that often
  2696. >Going out usually cost money
  2697. >And it usually involves a lot of time spent
  2698. >And this fucking yankee winter isn't that appealing to you or her either
  2699. >But you do want to do more with her
  2700. >You want to see her smile from more things
  2701. >And you're really not in the mood to cook
  2702. >You both wait in the elevator while it goes to the first floor
  2703. >She looks cute in her hat
  2704. >It's a different style than what her Ma would wear, and the black offsets her yellow body well
  2705. >The bits of orange hair poking out from around her face doesn't hurt much either
  2706. >Due to the hem, she can't tell that you're looking at her
  2707. >Staring would fit as another word
  2708. >Or gawking
  2709. >The elevator dings and you snap to attention
  2710. >Keys, phone, wallet, your hands search everywhere for everything
  2711. >All's good to go
  2712. >You take the lead and exit the building, holding the door open for her
  2713. >Given the number pad on the glass doors, she'd probably be unable to get back to the apartment without help
  2714. >Unless she just bashed in the glass
  2715. >An unpleasant thought since she'd probably end up hurt
  2716. >You shake your head and beep the car's lock
  2717. >As always, you open your door and watch her hop in by going from the ground, to your seat, to hers
  2718. >You grimace a little about the snow and all that out there... but you kinda need to get the inside cleaned out anyway
  2719. >Eventually
  2720. >When's the last time you were able to think so much to yourself, anyway?
  2721. >You scoot in and reach over to pull the seat belt over Jack's chest
  2722. >She smiles and nods, the hat sticking firmly to her head
  2723. >It's forward a little, giving her a bit of a menacing look but you can see that it clears up a little on her ears
  2724. >Maybe it's a little too big
  2725. >Or maybe it's because it's made for a human head and her brainbox is a bit different
  2726. >"Uh... where are we going, anyway?"
  2727. >You realize you didn't start the car, you were just looking at her
  2728. "Oh. Uh... yeah. I was thinking an international house of cuisine. Sounds fancy, but it's a decent place."
  2729. >She looks at you and her ears perk up as much as they can against the hat
  2730. >"Really? What do they got there?"
  2731. >You shrug
  2732. "A lot of stuff... pancakes, mostly. But other things too."
  2733. >You start the car, feeling a small sense of embarrassment that you haven't felt since your very first date
  2734. >A fucking IHOP
  2735. >You're taking your yellow pony date to a fucking IHOP
  2736. >And she's going to wear her hat the entire time, you just know it
  2737. >And it is going to be goofy as hell
  2738. >But
  2739. >Fuck it
  2740. >You start the car, finally, and turn the heater on a few hairs below full blast
  2741. >The drive is pretty calm, all things considered
  2742. >Traffic is minimal
  2743. >Talk is minimal too
  2744. >Is she looking forward to it?
  2745. >She really doesn't have too much social experience outside of you and movies
  2746. >And the rare grocery store trip
  2747. >You make it to the "international house of cuisine"
  2748. >It's borderline empty
  2749. >These god damned yankees don't know what's good
  2750. >You turn off the car and reach over to undo her seatbelt
  2751. "So... behold. IHOP."
  2752. >You can see her glance at you from under the hat
  2753. >This really isn't the place that you hyped it up to be
  2754. >But it is more or less the one place you would reliably go to for the occasional dinner, even when you were otherwise making packing peanuts for pay
  2755. >"It looks... uh... empty."
  2756. "Yes. Yes... it does."
  2757. >"Quicker service at least, right?"
  2758. "I sure hope so."
  2759. >Neither of you are that quick to leave the car
  2760. >It feels awkward on so many levels
  2761. >It's not at all like the romantic scenes from the movies
  2762. >But maybe they're a little too true to life when it comes to other genres
  2763. >You eventually undo your seatbelt and clear your throat, causing her to focus on you
  2764. "It's warmer in there than it is in here, let's go, eh?"
  2765. >You get up and stand to the side, watching her pounce from cushion, to cushion, to ground
  2766. >You're really going to go into a place like this with a tiny, travel-sized equine companion that is not at all like what was properly advertised
  2767. >God damn it, you can't think that
  2768. >She's Jacky
  2769. >And whether it feels weird or not, you gotta show that this would be cool to do and not a mistake
  2770. >You don't think it's a mistake, despite the twist in your gut
  2771. >You're worried that she may think it's a mistake
  2772. >You head inside with her, getting the doors to make sure that she doesn't bonk her hat into anything and knock it off of her head
  2773. >You muster up your years of gained chutzpah, suave, confidence and raw ego as you cross the threshold into the eatery
  2774. >You're so confident you can even consider a restaurant an eatery
  2775. >You classy man, you
  2776. >A waitress makes her way from the kitchen to you almost immediately
  2777. >As hard as it is to be seen through the crowd of no one and nothing
  2778. >"Hold on!" She calls
  2779. >You idly nod, glancing down at Jacky
  2780. >Since you're both standing up, it's probably a bit awkward to have the incredible height difference
  2781. >When she steps around and comes into view of you and her, she falters for a second
  2782. >"Uh... o-one, or two?"
  2783. >Jacky looks up at her, squinting
  2784. >The squint and the hat really doesn't make her out to be the friendly dork you know
  2785. >"...that's two... ma'am."
  2786. >She growls but it sounds hilarious impotent to you
  2787. >The waitress, for some reason, folds to the challenging voice of a cuddlebug scorned
  2788. >"R-right, of course... u-uh... booth?"
  2789. >You finally step in
  2790. "Yup, corner if you have one?"
  2791. >Outside of a pair of old men sharing a pot of coffee and another aged couple in each half of the restaurant, everything is open and available
  2792. >"Corner? Oh yeah, yup, we got those! Please, if you would?"
  2793. >You can tell that she's making an effort to keep eye contact on your human body
  2794. >You don't particularly blame her for that but you can't help but think that Jacky's maybe not so appreciative
  2795. >The human woman leads you and agitated pone to the nearest corner booth, around the entrance and immediately seated
  2796. >You can even see your car with a clear view, it's so direct
  2797. >Jacky hops onto the seat, sitting opposite of you
  2798. >"Do you guys, uh... know what you want to drink?" The waitress asks, a little hesitant to incur the wrath of the black-hatted banana-flavored marshmallow
  2799. >Jacky begins to say something but you speak before she can
  2800. "Two unsweet teas, thanks. She's new so we'll take a few minutes for menu reading.
  2801. >The waitress manages to crack a slight smile and nods
  2802. >"Sure, take your time. Thanks."
  2803. >You've always tried to be a cool guy to waitresses and waiters and whoever had to deal with the mass public on a daily basis
  2804. >Except the place was kinda dead today
  2805. >After a few moments, she returns with a pair of drinks and a pair of menus before scampering off
  2806. >You don't want to chastise Jack but she is making too good a use of her Angel Eyes-styled stare
  2807. >You kinda wanna laugh but you decide against it
  2808. "Hey Jack, we're indoors... chill with the hat, yeah?"
  2809. >She looks at you and any edge she could possibly have melted away
  2810. >"Oh... oh yeah, sure."
  2811. >You both sit there and watch each other
  2812. >And wait
  2813. >"...Can you grab my hat and keep it nearby?"
  2814. "Sure, lemme just... bam."
  2815. >You pop her top off and put it on the seat next to you, against the wall
  2816. >As if anyone would stop by to try to steal it for themselves
  2817. >After plucking one of the straws and putting it into her cup, you open the menu for her
  2818. >You barely look at it
  2819. >You already know what you like
  2820. >"Hey, there are a lot of pancakes here... and other stuff too."
  2821. "Yeah... to be honest? I really question how international they are. Where are the asian pancakes? Or the Brazillian? Or Canadian?"
  2822. >You're not sure if that was supposed to be a joke
  2823. >You can tell that the mood is a little tense
  2824. >"Hey Anon..."
  2825. "Hit me."
  2826. >"Should I worry about the price? A lot of this stuff looks pretty fancy and I don't wanna worry you about..."
  2827. >You chuckle and wave your hand
  2828. "Come on, don't worry about it. I usually buy enough to have leftovers for a day or two. Order whatever you like."
  2829. >You want to add 'within reason' but you want her to enjoy herself
  2830. >She is a girl
  2831. >A very tiny, furry girl
  2832. >With a neat hat you got her
  2833. >You eventually order, getting your usual while she decides on banana pancakes, some french toast, an omelette, and a burger
  2834. >That's... far more than you order, but you did say that it would mostly be leftovers
  2835. >The waitress visibly goes pale when Jacky rattles off her items
  2836. >Maybe she's unnerved by the talking horse
  2837. >Maybe she's not sure why there are so many things being ordered at once
  2838. "Hey, uh... Jack. Why don't we get your two most wanted items now and then the rest to go later?"
  2839. >You not toward the waitress who pipes up
  2840. >"Oh yeah, that's a great idea! That way it's nice and fresh an-"
  2841. >Jacky squints and stares down the poor woman
  2842. >But she turns her attention to me, smiling
  2843. >"Sure, Anon, that's a pretty smart idea. I kinda forgot about lunch since I was napping a lot so that's just me ordering with my stomach."
  2844. >That settled, she orders only the french toast and omelette
  2845. >You can't help but smile at the choices she made
  2846. "So, think you'll be able to eat all of this stuff? It's pretty big portions for a gal like you."
  2847. >Did you just call Jacky a gal?
  2848. >"Hur... yeah..."
  2849. >What was that dorky response?
  2850. >It was getting to be evident that neither of you were... entirely natural or comfortable about all off this
  2851. "'s ok to be nervous, Jack. I am too. But I'm glad we're able to go out like this."
  2852. >She grumbles something before taking a sip from her tea
  2853. >You watch as she has to visibly stand up to make sure she can drink from the draw without knocking the glass over
  2854. >You didn't even know she could drink from a straw like that
  2855. >"I'm not nervous, I'm just... I want to make a good first impression."
  2856. >You look around, as if you expected someone from behind
  2857. "To who, me? Safe to say you've wowed me already, I can't really imagine a bad impression."
  2858. >She turns flustered a bit
  2859. >"Well no, not that. Just... this is a human world, right? I kinda stick out a tiny bit."
  2860. "Psh, as if. Have you seen me around humans? I stand out pretty hard."
  2861. >She laughs at it
  2862. >She laughed at a joke that lame?
  2863. >She must really be nervous
  2864. >You think she may be playing it up a little
  2865. >You almost expect her to call you a debonair, honorable man
  2866. >She goes quiet
  2867. >"I know what you mean but... you can drive. You can operate doors. Look someone in the face and have them talk to you like normal. And you can even operate those computers without slobbering all over them."
  2868. "Hey, you haven't seen what I've tried to do when I was tired before you popped up..."
  2869. >Another laugh
  2870. "But... yeah. I understand what you mean. It's stuff I've kinda thought about before but... why should I let that bother me, you know? I'm spending time with you, big bonus by the way. I'm out eating somewhere I like, another good thing. Best of all? I'm showing you... just more of the world I guess. Even if it's kinda cold and lame out, there's still stuff worth going to."
  2871. >"...I didn't want to mention it but it's really cold out. I don't know if you noticed but I'm naked under that hat!"
  2872. >You laugh
  2873. "Yeah, well..."
  2874. >You gulp down half of your tea in one go
  2875. "I... am going to be thinking of that for a while now. Thanks."
  2876. >She smiles, more of a grin
  2877. >"You? Are welcome."
  2878. >You can't tell but a glance with that grin tells you that Jacky is very possibly staring at the waitress
  2879. >Your half-worry is validated when she comes up, a little hesitant to speak
  2880. >"Re-refill on your drinks...?"
  2881. >You feel a bit bad for how out of her element this must be
  2882. "Sure, I can go for it."
  2883. >You gulp down the rest and shiver from the cold jolt that goes down your spine and rests squarely in your sternum
  2884. "Please."
  2885. >Jacky shakes her head as the only answer
  2886. >The glass vanishes off of the table
  2887. >You continue to make small talk while waiting for the food
  2888. >You talk about more... basic, pedestrian things
  2889. >The weather, what to watch when you get home
  2890. >It's kinda funny how things just kinda... go on
  2891. >It's small talk, but it's fun
  2892. >Eventually the food is done and is delivered
  2893. >"Omelet du fromaaaaaaaage~"
  2894. >Jacky sings the words while swaying from side to side
  2895. >For some reason you can't help but giggle as if this were your own personal Lesson Zero
  2896. >You had your own thing, which was... the same, actually
  2897. >Both too hungry to fake civility, you both devour your respective omelets, leaving the pancakes to the side and leaving the french toast for the second round
  2898. >The old couple nearby watches the two of you go at it like starved primates
  2899. >Eventually you do finish
  2900. >You make good use of your silverware while Jacky made careful, selective use of... her face
  2901. >Both full, you lean back into your respective seats, sighing
  2902. >"This is some pretty good stuff... it's not even breakfast time."
  2903. "It's always breakfast, Cracker Jack."
  2904. >You both sit in the afterglow of a good meal
  2905. >Until the waitress shows up again
  2906. >You really get the idea that Jacky does not like that woman
  2907. >"Are we... uh, ready for to-go boxes and the order to go?"
  2908. "Sure, hit me with the check too."
  2909. >Jacky silently nods, glaring daggers at the human
  2910. >Eventually you pack up your remains, feel your stomach drop at the price, and feel keen to blow the international house of popstands
  2911. >While Jacky is eager to leave, she didn't even ask about her hat
  2912. >Which you popped onto your head
  2913. >Yeah, and it still doesn't fit right
  2914. "Y'all have a good 'un, y'hear?"
  2915. >You drop to a baritone voice to the waitress
  2916. >You left a generous tip because... well, she soldiered on well enough
  2917. >"Man, what was with that woman? Couldn't she see that we were on a date or something?!"
  2918. >Jacky waits until leaving the warm building to start complaining
  2919. >You kinda wish she could at least carry all of the extra stuff she ordered, but you don't mind
  2920. "Jack... she kinda worked there, I think. The uniform gave it away."
  2921. >She scoffed, tilting back her head.
  2922. >"Ha! And you didn't think she could just be some... spy?"
  2923. "Why the hell would a spy be interested in us?"
  2924. >She stops in her tracks
  2925. >Only to rear her head back even further and laugh harder
  2926. >You shrug and beep the car a few times to unlock it
  2927. >You open her door first, putting the leftovers at the floor of the car
  2928. "Don't fall on that stuff, that's good stuff."
  2929. >Expensive stuff too
  2930. >You slide into your seat from the other side and start the journey back home
  2931. >"...this was fun, Anon."
  2932. >You smile, tilting the head back.
  2933. "I reckon it was, Jack. I liked it too."
  2934. >"Next time... wanna just order pizza? And stay under a blanket? And stuff?"
  2935. >You discreetly put more weight onto the gas to get home faster
  2936. "Yeah... that sounds better. We still got a lot of stuff to watch."
  2937. >You make it home
  2938. >Or the parking lot outside of your home
  2939. >Jacky bounces out of the car while you grab the spoils of war
  2940. >You both show visible anxiety to get back into the realm of the protected, warm, safe, comfortable apartment
  2941. >As soon as you open the front door, she bursts in
  2942. >Taking a stance, she gives a... questionable roar or some sort of screech
  2943. >"FRRRRrrrrrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeeedoooooooooooooom!"
  2944. >William Wallace would be proud
  2945. >You didn't close the door behind you in time though
  2946. >Your closest neighbor probably heard some of that
  2947. >You dumped the bags into the fridge and fling her hat like a Frisbee onto the living room table
  2948. >And it sticks the landing!
  2949. "Oh yeah, baby!"
  2950. >You point at Jack to get her to see what an awesome thing you did, only to see her watching you
  2951. >"Hey, uh...after a date. Dinner comes before a movie, right?"
  2952. "You read my mind."
  2953. >With that, she gallops full force and bounce onto the bed, bouncing a few times
  2954. >You walk in a far more slower pace to your room, wheezing and gasping
  2955. "Too much... food... I can't keep up..."
  2956. >"Dessert hasn't even been served, what do you mean too much food?"
  2957. >You decide to stop playing and hurry to your room
  2958. >You close the bedroom door
  2959. >Because a closed room is better for movie audio, of course
  2961. >Be me.
  2962. >A pretty happy pony, who ordered too much for leftovers.
  2963. >At least Anon put the microwave on a small stool so I could open and use it.
  2964. >But I still forget that the steam isn't the only hot thing to watch out for.
  2965. >I lay on my side, my tail idly swishing back and forth.
  2966. >I enjoy typing things to him when he's at work, though I've discovered emotes and have just been using those instead.
  2967. >He kept open his laptop for me so I have the power of two!
  2968. >Mine has the messenger window and a wiki page of what show I came from.
  2969. >His is playing some really funny, but catchy music by a guy also named Jack.
  2970. >I kinda wanna learn some of his songs.
  2971. >Maybe singing them with that French accent would help?
  2972. >That Jack on the laptop singing goes through a lot of voices, which is a really neat trick for a human to have.
  2973. >I thought about what would funny to surprise Anon while dressed like the singer but realized it would take too much work when I saw a big, bushy beard.
  2974. >The wiki is a trip to read.
  2975. >So many of the episodes feel like they're really familiar to me, but a lot of them sound like things I would never do.
  2976. >But I haven't done any of those things, right?
  2977. >Only Ma and her friends have done them.
  2978. >I scrape my face against one of Anon's thick quilts a few times, searching my memory.
  2979. >I almost remember what I was talking about when I first met Anon, but it feels like the longer I go on, the less I remember about my past.
  2980. >My supposedly past.
  2981. >I remember the warehouse, and talking to others like me.
  2982. >But not directly.
  2983. >None of them really were like any of the so-called Mane Six.
  2984. >But a lot of them sounded the same.
  2985. >Like how Ma sounds like me.
  2986. >Or probably how I sound like Applejack.
  2987. >She isn't my ma.
  2988. >But I want to believe that she is.
  2989. >That makes more sense and doesn't hurt nearly as bad as any other explanation.
  2990. >Anon doesn't mind thinking that way, but I don't know if he does it to be nice or if he believes it.
  2991. >I don't know if I could believe it, knowing how stifling that box was.
  2992. >If she was my ma, she would never have allowed something like that.
  2993. >But if she wasn't, and she most likely wasn't, who was my ma?
  2994. >My pa?
  2995. >What about everyone else?
  2996. >I keep scraping my face back and forth, feeling moisture leak from my eyes.
  2997. >I don't feel comfortable talking to Anon about this sort of thing yet, but I want to.
  2998. >He's shown me a lot of stuff that I wouldn't have shown if I were him.
  2999. >I mean, I would have, but it would be putting a lot of bother on someone to trouble them like that.
  3000. >Not that I'm troubled by him opening up like that!
  3001. >I'm glad he did.
  3002. >After rubbing my face against the quilt enough to dry my face, I use my masterful nose to boop the mouse in the right ways.
  3003. >I sent a hug, a heart, and a house emote to Anon through his messenger.
  3004. >He usually replies pretty quick but he's been kinda tired looking from work.
  3005. >Compared to the holidays to now, he seems a lot brighter.
  3006. >I feel bad for not wanting to go out that much but I enjoy being around him and relaxing.
  3007. >I could never run an orchard or anything like that.
  3008. >And having five friends around all the time?
  3009. >That would be incredibly exhausting!
  3010. >Maybe another friend would be nice but I enjoy my alone time.
  3011. >I was never alone in the warehouse.
  3012. >Never.
  3013. >I used to cry a lot.
  3014. >And scream.
  3015. >And a few other things.
  3016. >After so long, it feels like an entire life ago.
  3017. >I look at Anon's laptop.
  3018. >That singer also named Jack is opening his shirt, revealing some weird clay-looking face that sings along with him.
  3019. >"Dead weight!"
  3020. >"Dead weeeeeeiiiiiiiiiiiaaaah..."
  3021. >The song is really catchy but it kinda... hurts to listen to.
  3022. >I don't want to be dead weight.
  3023. >I don't want to poke around his stuff.
  3024. >But.
  3025. >Maybe he still has that website he bought me from.
  3026. >Maybe I can find something out about that warehouse.
  3027. >That alone spurs me to action.
  3028. >In the relative terms.
  3029. >I roll over to the other side, facing away from the laptops, and drag myself in a semi-circle until I'm facing Anon's laptop.
  3030. >If he knew how I moved when alone, he'd probably make fun of me.
  3031. >Not in a bad way.
  3032. >I nudge his purple and red glowing light mouse, looking over his browser history.
  3033. >A lot of his browser history is stuff he watches when I watch stuff too.
  3034. >Not all of it clicks but a lot of it is really good.
  3035. >I keep searching down the list, going months back.
  3036. >Around the time just before I met him.
  3037. >E-bay?
  3038. >Really?
  3039. >I could be bought off of an E-bay?!
  3040. >WHAT EVEN IS E-BAY.
  3041. >I click the page that focuses on the merchant's account.
  3042. >There isn't a profile image but the profile description has at least a dozen full languages on it!
  3043. >The English one reads "Pony and a bro! We have the best friends you need! Friends? Family? Other intents? They can do it all!"
  3044. >I get a sinking feeling in my stomach.
  3045. >What does it mean by "other intents"?
  3046. >The description continues.
  3047. >"We have multiple warehouses across the globe! Africa! Europe! Asia! America!"
  3048. >Those places sounded familiar from the warehouse but it's too muddled.
  3049. >"Based off of Hasbró's world-famous series, My Little Pony! Friend of a lifetime!"
  3050. >I can't help but feel ill at the page.
  3051. >How many more were just like me and... left there?
  3052. >I click through the merchant page.
  3053. >There are a lot of drawn references of ponies, but no photo images.
  3054. >There are only a few item selections: Europe/American, African, Asian, Arab, Australian
  3055. >I check the description of each one.
  3056. >Each one has a really vague description about how they're "good at local language!".
  3057. >I scrunch my face, remembering that Irish accent I had.
  3058. >Wasn't it just English in an accent?
  3059. >And the French too?
  3060. >Tuco spoke another language and it wasn't just a funny accent.
  3061. >Could I actually speak in another language too or was it just some sort of surface level imitation?
  3062. >I feel my head swirl.
  3063. >What made him find this sort of page specifically?
  3064. >I saw that there were different "types" on the pages to specify but what did that mean?
  3065. >To what degree could someone choose a type of living thing like me?
  3066. >Anon did that too.
  3067. >But he's different.
  3068. >He hasn't really been bad at anything.
  3069. >And I can't forget the face he had when we first met.
  3070. >He had that same face that day he just laid on the floor.
  3071. >That was only two times, so he had to be doing better.
  3072. >And I remembered where he said I reminded him of his old friends.
  3073. >He probably remembers them a whole lot better than I can remember anyone from the warehouse.
  3074. >I nudge the mouse around until I can close out of the tab.
  3075. >I didn't even notice that a different song was playing.
  3076. >I feel uneasy.
  3077. >Not against Anon, but against... wherever I came from.
  3078. >I focus on my laptop and see a message from Anon!
  3079. >Almost immediately, the cloud over my head starts to scatter.
  3080. "It's hilarious how today has been going. Don't eat all of the pancakes, I want some too!"
  3081. >I wasn't tired of them, but they didn't taste good without the blue syrup.
  3082. >I send him an... oops.
  3083. >A Santa emote.
  3084. >That wasn't the right one but whatever.
  3085. >I shake my head and go back to the wiki.
  3086. >Maybe when he comes back I can ask him about that merchant.
  3087. >But I'm ok if I don't either.
  3088. >I'm really happy where I am, and the less time I spent even talking about that place, the better.

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