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/bootleg/ Jacky Part Five

By BlondieAnon
Created: 22nd October 2020 10:55:45 PM
Modified: 22nd October 2020 10:27:04 PM
Jacky Sparking Shine Faint Prism Anonymous Bootleg

  1. >"Jacky! Jacky, are you ok?"
  2. >Dashy comes up to me. Her right wing is bent a little funny. I snort hard, a wad of blood spraying out onto the cobblestone.
  3. "I'm... yeah. I'm ok."
  4. >Everything hurts. Taking some freely given food led to a few ponies getting mouthy. Sparks started it but she did have a point. So what if they always got the freshest food first before?
  5. >That reminds me.
  6. "Sparks?! Where's Sparks?"
  7. >It's hard to see through the thin layer of red, and harder still to focus. I see Sparking limping away, giving me one last glance.
  8. "There she is, come on! Let's-"
  9. >Dashie stops me, extending her good wing.
  10. >"Don't worry about her, she can take care of yourself. You got kicked in the head... let's go home and rest. I'll see if I can get you some medicine."
  11. >I try to trot past her but Sparks is already out of view
  12. "No, you don't get it, she's my friend!"
  13. >Dashie doesn't let me past.
  14. >"No, you don't get it. You're hurt and she's always been fine on her own. We can meet up later... things aren't going to be easy for a while. The best thing is to split up and just lay low for a while."
  15. >Feeling angry, while unfamiliar, fills me with energy. I glare at the two ponies that had issues with having to share for once, or be second to get food.
  16. >They're still breathing but one has a busted jaw. I kicked him hard enough to be sure. The other one got stabbed by Spark's horn and quit when she threatened to blow him up from the inside.
  17. >I know she would never do that. But she sounded like she meant it this time.
  18. >That's why I need to find her.
  19. >But Dashie keeps guiding me away from the scene, into a sewer opening
  20. >"I'll come back for the food, as soon as you lay down. We take too long and all of it will be confiscated anyway."
  21. >I don't like her logic but it makes sense. Even if I keep thinking that Sparks looked really bad.
  22. "We gotta get Sparks... we gotta."
  23. >I repeat to myself again and again, mumbling the same thing as if it will change her mind.
  24. >Before I know it, I'm on my bed. Not a real bed but a lot of fabrics and discarded quilts that have a tendency to collect bloodstains and smears.
  25. "We gotta get Sparks... Sparks and..."
  26. >My legs go weak and I collapse. I can hear Dashie saying something but I can't really hear her.
  27. >Sparks isn't the only one I'm worried about. It was Sparks and...
  28. >My eyes close too soon, fatigue winning again.
  29.  
  30. >I wake up with a jolt
  31. "Sparks?! Anon!"
  32. >Sparks turns her head back to you from your game
  33. >"Anon went to work a few hours ago. He's working later in the day now, remember?"
  34. >Why does everything feel so sluggish?
  35. >In mid-panic, I scramble over to the unicorn and wrap my front legs around her stomach
  36. "You're safe... oh man..."
  37. >"Uh... should I be concerned about this?"
  38. >I spend a while to calm down
  39. >Evidently long enough for her to pause her game
  40. >"What happened? Did you have a nightmare or something?"
  41. "Sparks, I didn't mean to leave you behind that time. Dashie stopped me and... and I couldn't think straight. I couldn't walk straight!"
  42. >I sound far more frantic than I realize
  43. >Sparks wriggles out from my grip, looking at me funny
  44. >"What are you even talking about?"
  45. "The fight! The food!"
  46. >Sparks squints at me
  47. >And frowns
  48. >She looks like she's thinking hard on something
  49. >"...don't worry about it, you just had a weird dream."
  50. "It was weird but it wasn't just a dream! It felt real! See? Look, I was snorting blood like-"
  51. >I snort against her, almost exactly as I did in the dream
  52. >"Wha-ew?! Don't do that on me, you freak!"
  53. "No, listen! Listen!"
  54. >I reach out and squeeze her tight
  55. >Tight like if I wasn't holding onto her, she would vanish
  56. "I know that stuff happened. I swear it did. You and me and Dashie were fighting ponies for food and we won. But Dashie took me away while you just limped off. I thought you were going to die."
  57. >The discomfort and annoyance on her face says it all
  58. >"...What do you want me to do, make you beg for forgiveness? Act like it was ok? Offer me some bread like it makes up for it?"
  59. "No, Sparking, I swear... I didn't..."
  60. >She looks at me
  61. >Not with pity or annoyance
  62. >I don't think she is displaying an emotion at all
  63. >"What happened then... it really doesn't matter. Where we are now matters. And that sort of thing isn't ever going to happen again. You won't and can't make anything up to me. And I don't want you to either."
  64. >"Besides... Anon would hate it if you did something stupid for a stupid reason. Now let go!"
  65. >She wriggles out of my hooves again, distancing herself
  66. >"Go get something to eat or whatever. You look like you had a rough time."
  67. >I want to argue in favor of doing something for her but I listen and hop out of bed
  68. >My body feels so strong and light, compared to then
  69. >Sure, all I do is lay around and be a mare-do-well
  70. >But it's so much better than anything I did before
  71. >Ma would be proud
  72. >I miss her
  73. >Maybe I'll watch her later
  74. >I see Dashie in the living room, watching a pair of red birds flutter around on the patio
  75. >I have the urge to sneak up on her
  76. >But I have to know something
  77. "Hey Dashie..."
  78. >The pegasus looks over her shoulder and smiles at me
  79. >"Good afternoon, Jacky. I thought you'd be asleep all day."
  80. >Instead of being nice or sensible, I let my words blurt out
  81. "I had a dream about a fight we had... and you left Sparks to limp away. She looked like she was gonna die."
  82. >Dashie flinches at your words
  83. >"I... don't know what you're referring to."
  84. >I press harder
  85. >I can't be the only one who'd remember something that important
  86. "You better not be lying to me... there was Sparks and... and another pony. I know it. I felt it all. It wasn't just a dream."
  87. >Dashie turns around to face me
  88. >She looks a little sad
  89. >"Jacky, it was probably just a dream. If it weren't, wouldn't my wing be off or still hurt?"
  90. >She spreads both of her wings
  91. >I squint at her
  92. >She has a good point
  93. "Yeah... well..."
  94. >I sigh
  95. "It just felt like a real dream, ok... I've never had one so strong like that."
  96. >Dashie quickly changes topic, giggling to herself
  97. >"Oh? You haven't had a dream about Anon that felt as real?"
  98. >I huff and stamp my hoof down
  99. "Well of co..."
  100. >I see what she's doing
  101. >I see through her scheme
  102. "I ain't telling you! As if I'd share something like that..."
  103. >I grumble
  104. >I did have dreams of Anon
  105. >But being awake was far more rewarding than any dream
  106. >Even then...
  107. "Dashie... if something like that actually happened. You'd tell me. Wouldn't you?"
  108. >She nods empathically
  109. >"Of course I would. I don't have anything to gain by lying to you. There's no reason to, especially now."
  110. >She shrugs as if it was just a fleeting thought
  111. >"We're where we are now... and I don't think it's been anyone but us. It's certainly only us now, right?"
  112. "Well, with Anon, obviously..."
  113. >Something about this doesn't sit well with me
  114. >It doesn't sit as well as it should, in any case
  115. "... this new work schedule of his sucks. We gotta be able to help him out somewhere."
  116. >"Oh? Is that what this is really about?"
  117. "Well... no? But yeah. We gotta do something. I remember hearing him talking to Sparks about some stuff a few days ago... it sounded important."
  118. >"Probably about money. From what I remember, it did cost a lot for him to get me out of that place..."
  119. "Exactly!"
  120. >I still have no clue of where I'm going with this, but the gears are turning
  121. "What if we..."
  122. >I sit down, stuck in thought
  123. >What can I do?
  124. "What if we... make money? Anyone can do that, right? Even we made money sometimes."
  125. >She grimaces
  126. >"...yes we did... sometimes."
  127. >I smirk at her
  128. "We have music from the internet now... add my hat and you can sing while we-"
  129. >"Absolutely not! I'm never doing another one of those... song and pony shows!"
  130. "But you did one with Sparks for Anon!"
  131. >She sputters out an attempt to rebut
  132. >"That was different!"
  133. "He would've tipped you!"
  134. >"That's him giving us his own money!"
  135. "And?!"
  136. >"That kills the point of getting money to help out with!"
  137. "...oh. Well yeah, I guess if you put it that way..."
  138. >Dang it
  139. >I really thought I had something there
  140. >I'm not deterred though!
  141. "There's gotta be something... something inside is telling me that I can't just sit here and do nothing. He don't deserve that out of me. All of us really gotta figure something out..."
  142. >I trot away, into the kitchen
  143. >Maybe a brunch will help
  144.  
  145. >Something still sits weird with me, even after eating
  146. >Knowing Anon won't be home for a few more hours doesn't help
  147. >Dashie doesn't really want to talk about stuff with me
  148. >Sparks is...
  149. >Well she is honest
  150. >And it sounds like she's playing something fun too
  151. >I slink into Anon's room
  152. >And sneak onto the bed, watching her focus on something that looks far too technical for me to do with hooves
  153. >I still do use that bulky controller that Anon got but it really just doesn't compare to magic
  154. >I wish I had magic
  155. "Hey Sparks."
  156. >"Hey."
  157. >She doesn't stop her game
  158. >There's a lot of things that I want to ask her
  159. >But I don't really know if she's the best one to ask
  160. "How good friends were we?"
  161. >She doesn't stop playing
  162. >She doesn't even answer me
  163. "I wasn't that bad, was I?"
  164. >Nothing
  165. >I lay down, my ears flattening back
  166. >That dream really just...
  167. >Flipped a lot of things around
  168. >Did I ever do that sort of thing to someone?
  169. >Bucking and kicking always did come naturally to me
  170. >I never hurt anyone, did I?
  171. "Sparks... we're still friends, aren't we?"
  172. >That finally gets her to pause
  173. >After a few seconds
  174. >"Jacky... you're not the only one who's had those dreams. I think. I've had a few too. And I'm sure Prism has."
  175. >My ears perk up at her answer
  176. "What do they mean? Did we actually do stuff like that?"
  177. >"Is it that hard to believe? We were... scum. We really didn't do much with ourselves. And... we didn't really live. We just kinda..."
  178. >She shrugs
  179. >"Did whatever."
  180. >I feel a bit better that I haven't been the only one with dreams like this
  181. "Does Anon know about these dreams? Have you talked to him about those?"
  182. >She scoffs
  183. >"No? Why would I?"
  184. "Well... maybe he wants to know? I mean, we are dangerous."
  185. >The way I say that makes her smile
  186. >She squints and nods
  187. >"Oh yeah, you're a real killer. I am too. Between the three of us, we're really a trio of psychopaths.Just wait until we get hungry and there's no food left, Anon will be our dinner."
  188. >I stare at her
  189. "...did we eat people too?"
  190. >Her smile fades
  191. >"You're lucky that you're the cute one."
  192. >That doesn't answer my question
  193. >I reach out to poke her flank with my hoof
  194. "I'm serious, we never did that. Right?"
  195. >"Not that I remember..."
  196. >She gives you a sly grin
  197. >"Guess Anon better watch out. Or else I might eat him all up."
  198. >I feel faint
  199. >The blood drains from my face, leading to a cold rush going from my nose down to my chest
  200. "You wouldn't."
  201. >"Oh, I totally would."
  202. >I just stare at her
  203. >What if she's serious
  204. >What if she's done that before
  205. >What if I've done that before?
  206. >The growing discomfort and panic on my face must have had an effect because she eventually sighs
  207. >"Don't worry about it. We did some things but we never went down that road...I don't think we would be here now if we were so far gone."
  208. >That helps
  209. "Yeah... I think so too. We can't have been that bad if we ended up here."
  210. >I relax, kicking my hind legs out
  211. "We're still friends though, right?"
  212. >"Yes we're still friends you freaking dork. You worry too much..."
  213. >What a relief
  214. "Is worrying so bad? If I didn't worry, something bad might happen."
  215. >"I never took you for a worrying sort. Especially not with Anon around."
  216. >She goes back to her game
  217. "Well yeah, someone's gotta be the brains of this operation."
  218. >Whatever Sparky was doing, she absolutely got wrecked
  219. >She opens her mouth to speak
  220. >Shakes her head
  221. >And sighs
  222. >"Ok Jacky."
  223. "Heh heh..."
  224. >I feel satisfied
  225. >Less worried too
  226. >I watch her play
  227. >Though I feel uncomfortable
  228. >I want to talk to Anon
  229. >I want to do... something
  230. >Anything
  231. >As long as I've been here, I've been relaxing
  232. >But Anon has been working
  233. >There has to be something I can do
  234. >Or something Sparks can do
  235. >Or Dashie too
  236. >Or maybe all three of us can do something
  237. >I watch until the front door knob jostles
  238. >In an instant, I'm off the bed and rush to the door
  239. >As soon as he opens it, I dart out into the hallway
  240. "Anon, let's go for a walk!"
  241. >"Eh? Oh, sure."
  242. >I look up at Anon and beam
  243. >He looks a little tired but it is a bit later than his normal time off
  244. >He punctuates my thoughts with a short yawn, keeping pace behind me
  245. >"How'd your day go?"
  246. "Good, but I wanna talk about it... maybe in your car where it's ok?"
  247. >"The car? Sure, you wanna head somewhere?"
  248. "Not really, but... it's kinda important."
  249. >Doing the leading, I reach up and slap the elevator button a few times with my hoof
  250. >I can't risk talking to him about this sort of stuff with the others nearby
  251. >He doesn't seem to mind at least, which is great
  252. >After casually rushing outside and ending up in the car, I sigh
  253. "Anon..."
  254. >"What's up, Jack?"
  255. "I had a dream that I kicked a pony's jaw to pieces, that Sparks almost killed another pony with her horn, Dashie had a broken wing that looked like it was twisted around and it was all over some food and I'm scared that I might have actually hurt someone and it's been scaring me all day since I woke up because what if I did something worse and you aren't safe."
  256. >Anon looks at me with wide eyes and blinks a few times
  257. >"...that must've been one helluva dream. Why do you think it was real and not based off of something else?"
  258. >He's taking me seriously
  259. >I'm glad
  260. >He's always been serious about these sorts of things
  261. "Because... I think there might've been a fourth one of our group. I don't think it used to be just three of us. But..."
  262. >I can see worry on his face
  263. >I can tell immediately that he's worried that I might ask for his help again
  264. >When he's already given so much and more
  265. "N-no, I don't mean to act like I want us to do anything. I think... I think she might have died because of us. Because of me. But I don't know and even if I knew, how could I know if it actually happened? This isn't like a thing of 'oh no, I stole her food now she's gonna be hungry in the tummy for a few days', but I think she actually might have gotten hurt to the point that she... she died! I could've been behind that! All of us could have!"
  266. >Normally everything is so much more slower paced but I can't stop myself from talking and speaking as fast as I can without offering him time to respond or to take it all in
  267. "I'm scared, Anon... dreams like this don't just... happen."
  268. >Rather than speak, he leans over to the passenger seat where I am and wraps his arms around me
  269. >I keep forgetting just how strong he is, human or no
  270. >He drags me onto his lap
  271. >I certainly don't resist him
  272. >He strokes my twin-tail mane
  273. >I've defaulted to that style for so long now that it's just kinda the norm
  274. >I like it too
  275. >I keep waiting for an answer, tense at the possibility of his reaction being less than positive
  276. >But his petting relaxes me far too much
  277. >He keeps petting me until I'm as limp as a noodle, my head bent back to rest on his shoulder and to expose my throat to his hand
  278. >I really don't know what I would do without him
  279. >"Jack."
  280. >He finally speaks
  281. >My ears flicker and twitch to tune into his voice
  282. "Mm."
  283. >That's all I can really do to speak up
  284. >If I speak or move enough, the petting might stop
  285. "That sounds... spooky. But you don't have any scars or anything, do you? I mean, I've never seen or felt any. The other two seem fine too. It could have been a dream."
  286. >He pauses
  287. >"But. It could have actually happened too. Some things, you just can't forget. What happened last night or this morning to freak you out? Maybe there's a link?"
  288. >A link sounds plausible
  289. >But what link would Sparks or Dashie have to trigger any dreams like that?
  290. "Well... I don't know. We watched that Wicker movie."
  291. >"John Wick?"
  292. "Yeah."
  293. >"Well... that was a violent movie."
  294. "Sure but we never had guns... and that was a lot of gun stuff.
  295. >"It was... really not anything close to the westerns."
  296. "Not at all..."
  297. >I sigh, closing my eyes
  298. >He's doing too good a job at calming me down
  299. >I have to stay focused
  300. >I wriggle on his lap, regaining some focus
  301. "Outside of that... I didn't really sleep well. I kept waking up, expecting your alarm."
  302. >"Yeah, I woke up pretty early too, all things considered."
  303. "What if that had something to do with it too?"
  304. >"Maybe."
  305. >It isn't the most insightful conversation but what else could be said?
  306. >I sigh again
  307. "What if I got a friend killed..."
  308. >"There's no real way to know that, for better or worse."
  309. >I don't like that answer
  310. "There has to be a way to know."
  311. >"Maybe you can start a journal or something? Jot down things you recall. Jot down things that Sparks or Dashie will tell you too?"
  312. >That doesn't sound like a bad idea
  313. >"Actually... do you know how to... write?"
  314. "Like, with a pencil?"
  315. >"Yeah."
  316. Obviously I can read
  317. "I... don't know. I mean, I can type. Sorta."
  318. >"Sorta."
  319. "But I never tried... writing. I guess I never really got the chance to try."
  320. >"Huh. Wiggy."
  321. >He casually takes my ear between his thumb and index finger
  322. >My right eye twitches and my lip curls upward
  323. >If he can't see, it's fine
  324. >I try to speak but as long as he does that, I just can't
  325. >"Well... why not type it out, since you've typed to me before?"
  326. >I try to answer but I can only attempt a throaty growl
  327. >He finally stops and chuckles
  328. >Did he do that on purpose?!
  329. "I think that's a good idea. But it has to be password protected. If just anyone can read it..."
  330. >"Yeah, you have a point."
  331. >It feels so weird to go from panicked to
  332. >This
  333. >"What else is on your mind?"
  334. >Of course he'd know something else was up
  335. >Or maybe he's just asking
  336. "You work a lot. And you've always worked. I don't work... none of us do."
  337. >He nods and shifts in the driver's seat
  338. >"Yeah... but you really don't need to."
  339. "It's not about need, Anon. I want it. I want to do a lot of things. But... it's hard."
  340. >"Because hands?"
  341. "Right! Because I just... I can't do anything. Sparks can do whatever she wants, she has magic out her wazoo. Dashie just... I don't know what she does. But she can fly. I think. She could just leave and come and go as she pleased through the patio. And I'm... I'm stuck by a wooden door..."
  342. >I'm not even sad
  343. >I'm just frustrated
  344. "If I can't even use utensils to make food like Sparks can and if I can't even play games like she does, or do anything you can do..."
  345. >I don't want to say it
  346. >But it needs to be said
  347. "What... what good am I?"
  348. >Anon scoops me up into his arms and gives me a hug hard enough to make my tongue pop out
  349. >I exhale just as hard
  350. >"Heh, squeaky toy."
  351. >I grumble and slip my tongue back into my mouth, huffing through my nostrils
  352. >"I've been thinking of that sort of thing too. Believe me, I have. There are some things out there that can help. And I have been thinking of setting up some stuff that'd be more in your guys' range and stuff. As long as you've been here, I really have not been... helpful."
  353. >I disagree but I let him continue
  354. >"Now for money... well. Honestly? I'm fine with you not working. I guess I have some views that would make it appropriate."
  355. >I raise an eyebrow at that
  356. >He's never really mentioned something like that
  357. >"But... if you guys can take care of things and hold down the fort. That would be pretty good for me and you."
  358. "But would it be enough?"
  359. >"Jack, you're enough already. You weren't my friend for some sort of long list of reasons. I never planned on you having obligations and other crap that I'd thrust onto you just because."
  360. >His words really do a number on me
  361. >He's right
  362. >He wanted a friend
  363. "Anon?"
  364. >"What's up?"
  365. "Are we... a healthy thing?"
  366. >"You mean... relationship-wise?"
  367. "Yeah... should we have gotten as close as we have?"
  368.  
  369. >I'm still not used to waking up before Anon has to go to work
  370. >He's not used to it either
  371. >We usually spend the mornings listening to stuff on YouTube, or get in some extra sleep
  372. >My question from before still pops up in my head
  373. >But I don't want to lose what I have either
  374. >But I don't want him to be so close to... what could've been a killer, or a violent pony
  375. >If that really was who I was
  376. >I haven't had any dreams since then that were that detailed
  377. >Sparks and Dashie don't want to talk to me about it
  378. >I really think that they might know more than they're willing to say
  379. >Maybe if...
  380. >While watching, laying on Anon, I see Sparks creep her head into view
  381. >She's looking dead ahead
  382. >It's kinda spooky
  383. >I stare at her
  384. >Anon stares at her
  385. >"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!"
  386. "WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!?"
  387. >Anon just stares
  388. >Sparks stops screaming and smiles with a sense of contentment
  389. >What the heck was that about?!
  390. >"Something up?"
  391. >"Yeah. Prism helped me make breakfast. It's not gonna be delivered to you so come get some."
  392. >"Cool, thanks."
  393. >"Sure."
  394. >With that, her head pulls back and she hops off the bed, chuckling to herself
  395. >I give Anon a concerned look
  396. "Is... is she ok?"
  397. >He nods
  398. >"She's been getting into spooky games now."
  399. >I shiver, shaking from my head to my flank
  400. "Scary stuff... let's go do breakfast!"
  401. >I straighten out my legs and roll down his body like a log until I stop at the foot of the bed and hop off
  402. >The lumbering man takes a little longer to get up but he quickly matches my stride
  403. >Astonishingly, most of the food is at eye level!
  404. >For me!
  405. >"It's kinda neat to not have to do everything on a stool so-"
  406. >"Sparking took the wheel, as it were, and I helped with more finer mixing and cleanup."
  407. >Dashie looks happy too, puffing out her chest with a dignified smile
  408. >"I'm honestly surprised it was so easy to work with her."
  409. >"Well sh'yeah! I'm awesome, I've done it a lot by now."
  410. "That's great, guys! Can I help next time?"
  411. >They look at me
  412. >I can tell that the burst of enthusiasm they had immediately seeped
  413. >Dashie's smile turns more mild
  414. >"Well of course, Jacky. It's an important skill to learn. Imagine us, cooking!"
  415. >Sparks smirks
  416. >"Yeah, bet you never thought we'd learn real skills, right?"
  417. >I can hear sounds in the bathroom
  418. >I thought Anon was right behind me?
  419. >I look around to check and see that he isn't
  420. "...real quick... guys, do you remember anything more about that dream I told you about?"
  421. >Just like that, the entire atmosphere of the room changes
  422. >Dashie looks concerned
  423. >Sparky just averts her eyes
  424. "Come on...! You know what happened as well as I do!"
  425. >"Jacky, please... let's just have breakfast for now."
  426. >Dashie's voice is low
  427. >My ears fold back and flatten
  428. >I can feel my tail flicker nervously
  429. "But... the dream..."
  430. >"BEHOLD, I. HAVE. AWAKENED."
  431. >Anon bellows out
  432. >Before stumbling over himself
  433. >"Boy, aren't you as graceful as an angel."
  434. >"You shut it, horn horse. What's on the menu for today?"
  435. >"Pancakes, bacon, ham, grilled pineapples, instant mashed potatoes, those bratwursts you had in the fridge, we put tea on the kettle and we were going to add toast but we're out of bread."
  436. >Dashie lists off everything, counting down the list by tapping her hoof down on different parts of the floor
  437. >My jaw drops
  438. >I look at Anon and he's done the same
  439. >"...dang. What the hell convinced you to cook everything and the kitchen sink?"
  440. >Sparks shrugs
  441. >"Well we had to test out everything, right?"
  442. >I look at what they cooked on
  443. >It's a full camping set's worth of stoves, pots and pans
  444. >I heard about it all being set up and even helped Anon haul a lot of boxes from down the hallway into the apartment itself
  445. >But I didn't know all of that was in there
  446. "Wow... how long were you guys making this?"
  447. >"As soon as we woke up, I suppose. You and Anon always sleep so soundly together that we decided we could surprise you two."
  448. >Dashie speaks while Sparks sets up a plate with her magic
  449. >Lacking any proper table area, Anon opts to sit on the floor with a fork
  450. >"Well that's pretty awesome of you guys. Thanks!"
  451. >A big plate is prepared for me next, set up near him
  452. >I am happy but something makes me frown
  453. >"The longer you wait, the colder it gets."
  454. >Sparks chides me, smiling
  455. >"Once we get more used to these, we aren't going to have another feast unless it's a special occasion."
  456. >She has a point
  457. >And I am hungry...
  458. >After eating, the rest of the morning is spent with everyone talking
  459. >Well, I don't join in all that much
  460. >I do add in comments here or there but the topics are a bit above my skillset
  461. >When Anon finally goes off to go take a shower, I watch the two visibly relax
  462. >Something just... feels off about all of this
  463. "Dashie... Sparky... please..."
  464. >I whimper, trying to make sense of all of this
  465. >Almost as if she knows exactly what I'm thinking, Sparks stares at me
  466. >Dashie does the same but she looks more concerned
  467. >"Jacky, we all had the same dream... and we're trying to figure it out. The last thing we need is Anon worrying about this. And anything we tell you, you'll tell him. So, for your sake and his, just relax and do stuff like normal. We don't want you-know-who to even be brought up."
  468. >You-know-who?
  469. >I scan the room with a hard squint
  470. "....uh? Who?"
  471. Sparks sighs and shakes her head back and forth hard enough to make her stumble a bit to the side
  472. >"NO! The..."
  473. >She leans in
  474. >Dashie leans in too
  475. >Because both of them are doing it, I lean in as well
  476. >"Nona. We can't let Anon contact her about this. Call it a dream from a movie. Anything, but don't say it's real. Not until we understand what that means."
  477. >Though it takes a second, clear memories of her come flooding back
  478. "Oh! I had almost forgotten about her..."
  479. >"I've never met her... but I'm willing to trust Sparking on this."
  480. >"You better or she's going to come here and do who knows what!"
  481. >Spark's whispering is harsh and almost too loud to be a whisper
  482. "Come on, Anon would never let that happen..."
  483. >"We know, Jacky. But if Sparking is even a quarter correct on... whatever vibes she's getting..."
  484. >She sighs
  485. >"Regardless, we're remembering things. And whether or not we want to, not all of it is good. We need to figure out what is means."
  486. >I feel so relieved!
  487. "You should've told me... I was panicking about that!"
  488. >"We know, Jacky... how much have you told Anon?"
  489. >I stumble over my own words
  490. "W-well... I mean... not a lot..."
  491. >I avert Dashie's eyes
  492. >"Ahh... crap... that means he knows everything."
  493. >Sparks shoves her way close to me
  494. >"You... need. Need. Ne-ee-ee-ee-ee-d. To keep this secret from him. We're gonna figure this point... but he's got enough going on. And... well, this doesn't concern him."
  495. >Sparks looks at me and Dashie
  496. >"If we got some unfinished business... or we're a lot worse than we thought we were... it doesn't leave us."
  497. >She pauses
  498. >"..until we know it's safe for Anon. Or that we know that him knowing won't endanger us."
  499. "But that doesn't make any sense, why would we be in danger from Anon knowing?"
  500. >What could we have possibly done to make him rethink anything?
  501. "I mean... so maybe we had fights. We stole stuff too, he already knew that. It wasn't for fun. It was so just we would have things to eat and live!"
  502. >They look at me
  503. >And they look at each other
  504. "...right?"
  505.  
  506. >I lay on Anon, splayed out
  507. "Eughhh..."
  508. >"Blaaaagh..."
  509. >He's been matching my noises for the last ten minutes
  510. >Sparky and Dashie are really getting into the cooking, since they have a kitchen that's more for ponies
  511. >Anon even set up a few small shelves and got a big plastic mat to help with spills
  512. "Blaaaaaaaaablerraaaaaaaa...."
  513. >"..."
  514. "..."
  515. >"...loud exclaim of fatigue."
  516. >I scoff and nuzzle my head against his chest
  517. "Anon?"
  518. >"What's up Jackenstein?"
  519. >I've been thinking about it for a while
  520. >And I can't hide things from him anymore
  521. >It hurts to do that
  522. "I can't cook like them. I can't use magic. I can't make money..."
  523. >I feel his hand rest on my shoulder
  524. "That dream made me realize that I might have even been violent before. Or that I might have hurt someone before. Or worse."
  525. >I pause but he seems intent on listening
  526. >He's always listened before
  527. >Both of us have listened to each other
  528. >That's why I know I should keep speaking despite the growing lump in my throat
  529. "What am I supposed to do with my life? I didn't know I had a life until... basically you."
  530. >It hurts to say that
  531. >But it hurts more how distant I've been
  532. >It doesn't feel good
  533. >It doesn't even feel natural to keep things hidden
  534. >"Jack... if I knew, I'd give you a few tips. But I don't know."
  535. >What?
  536. "What? But you're doing a ton with your life, aren't you?"
  537. >He shrugs under me
  538. >His other hand goes to my stomach
  539. >"I guess. You know how I have a place and... how I just work and kinda goof around on my off time, right?"
  540. "Sure do, I goof around with you too!"
  541. >"And I'm always happy that you do! But... objectively speaking? It's really not a lot."
  542. >I look around
  543. >His room is pretty full of stuff
  544. >And a lot of electronic things too
  545. >Though it sounds funny, I don't laugh
  546. "...really? This isn't a lot of stuff?"
  547. >He shakes his head
  548. >"Well, it's not a house. My savings... which were kinda drained to the last drop... was enough to take care of a list of possible issues but it wasn't a great amount either. My skill set and experiences are... not useless. But far from useful enough to warrant great pay."
  549. >He has mentioned some of his new work but it seems a lot more complicated than shooting shoplifters or stuff like that
  550. >"You and I... we don't really come from good families."
  551. "I... didn't have much of a family. I only really had Dashie and Sparks."
  552. >"Yeah... growing up I had my friends and that was kinda it."
  553. >I don't get it
  554. "Didn't you have a mom and relatives and stuff?"
  555. >"Sure. But they were pretty hostile to each other. The best thing I could do about it was to stay in my room and just do... whatever."
  556. "Oh..."
  557. >"Where I am now? I'm able to have my friends live with me. And I think that's pretty great. But I know that on a wider scale of things? I'm... kind of a nobody. And I may stay a nobody."
  558. "But you aren't nobody, you're Anon!"
  559. >"It's true. But I just can't do things that other people can. I don't have parents that own multiple homes or their own homes. I don't have relatives that own boats. Everything I own is in this place, or my car."
  560. "That... uh... do you own me too?"
  561. >I don't move my head but I do try to look at him from the corner of my eye
  562. >Anon waits
  563. >And nods
  564. >"Yes. I hope you can accept that."
  565. >I smirk
  566. "I'll deal with it."
  567. >I inhale hard and exhale
  568. "A boat, huh..."
  569. >"Yeah. A lot of people own boats so casually. They have big family reunions, summer and winter homes."
  570. "Do you want all of those things?"
  571. >"Not really, no."
  572. "Oh."
  573. >Neither of us say anything
  574. >"What do you want to own, Jack?"
  575. "Me?"
  576. >"Yeah."
  577. >What could I really want?
  578. "Well... I don't have parents or a family. Everyone I know is under this roof."
  579. >I sigh
  580. "I guess I just want to feel like... I have a place in this world. I didn't have one before. I have a hard time feeling like I have a place right now because I just can't do a lot for you. And you do so much for me. Just because... you're physically capable of it."
  581. >"What would you like to do?"
  582. "What wouldn't I like to do! I'd love to be able to go to work with you. I would want to..."
  583. >I frown
  584. "Ok, I wouldn't want to drive..."
  585. >I feel at a loss for words
  586. >I can use a laptop
  587. >Kinda
  588. >I can play some games really well now
  589. >Mostly
  590. "I... I don't know what I want I guess. I don't want a lot of stuff either. I wouldn't know what to want. I guess I just want a family. That's good enough, right?"
  591. >Despite the conversation, I notice that both of our voices are pretty calm
  592. >He does really well at keeping me relaxed during even really tough topics
  593. >"Yeah. I think that's enough. It's what I want too. The friends I had. The guys I called my brothers. The nerds I would've gotten shot for. My longest term goal, outside of making a set amount of money? Just living all under the same roof. Knowing that if I wanted to, I could hang out with them. That we could set up a big, cool movie or anime marathon. That we could play games together as often as we wanted. That we could always cover each other and be there."
  594. "That sounds nice..."
  595. >"It does. I always thought that even if my blood relatives left me in the dirt. Even if they decided they wanted money for being there. Even if they backstabbed me. I'd have my friends. My brothers. The guys I considered my real family."
  596. >He finally starts to sound like it's getting to him
  597. >"But... here I am now, you know? I know you and the other two nerds don't always get together perfectly. But you gotta remember that all you have are each other. You lose that and... you lose a lot. You lose a lot of a lot."
  598. >His hands slide off of me
  599. >I've worried about losing my friends for a long while
  600. >I worried about losing them so much that even when I didn't know anything else, I still knew that I had them
  601. >Maybe we did fight a lot
  602. >But we fought together too
  603. >We shared some of our wins too
  604. >And a lot of losses
  605. "Anon... I wish your friends could have met me. And Dashie. And even Sparky! I think they'd love us."
  606. >His hand pats my stomach
  607. >"Yeah."
  608. >That's all he can say
  609. >He does not sound happy
  610. "I'm... I'm gonna get up real quick. Want me to bring you a drink?"
  611. >"Yeah."
  612. "Alright."
  613. >I slip off of him and get onto my hooves
  614. >No matter how many times I've done it, I still can't help but bounce off of the very last step from the mattress
  615. >I slowly trot into the living room
  616. >And see Sparks and Dashie whispering to each other
  617. >That's new
  618. >Dashie notices me with a quick glance but she doesn't say anything
  619. >I trot up and rear up, grabbing both of them in a tight hug
  620. >"Ack--Jacky?! Get offa me!"
  621. >Sparks is as energetic as ever
  622. >Dashie doesn't seem to mind nearly as much
  623. >"Are you ok?"
  624. "I love you guys."
  625. >I didn't realize it but a tear dropped from my face
  626. "I'm sorry. I'm just a little emotional and Anon and I were-"
  627. >"You can apologize by LETTING GO AND-"
  628. >I squeeze both of them together harder, Sparky's words turning into a garble of strangled syllables and most likely at least one threat
  629. >"Jack...y... air, honey..."
  630. >I ease up on the leg wrapped around Dashie
  631. >But not Sparks
  632. >It wouldn't be normal if I didn't tease her just a little extra
  633. >It's what friends do
  634.  
  635. >Since Anon came home, we've been laying in the living room
  636. >Sparky has been in his room playing video games all day
  637. >Dashie has been in there too
  638. >I think they left the apartment earlier today for some reason
  639. >I stretch out, my head resting on his arm
  640. >The ceiling isn't a lot to look at but we've been watching it while listening to trippy sounding music
  641. "Anon?"
  642. >"Mm?"
  643. "I've been looking up stuff online today."
  644. >"Oh nice. What've you been looking at?"
  645. >I glance at him with pursed lips
  646. "..."
  647. >"...?"
  648. "...why do they call it a member?"
  649. >I can see Anon's eyes nearly pop out of his head
  650. >He glances at me
  651. >"That's... a good question."
  652. "...you've never called it that."
  653. >"No... no, I haven't."
  654. "...does it have a name?"
  655. >I grin
  656. >"What? No. Why would it?"
  657. "Well Iunno... it would be cool I guess."
  658. >"To name it."
  659. "Yeah!"
  660. >"...well why don't we name your stuff?"
  661. >I spurt out a laugh
  662. "S'yeah right. Like what?"
  663. >"Exactly."
  664. >I frown
  665. >He had a good point
  666. >Both of us stay silent for a bit
  667. "...what about Tuco?"
  668. >"Are you calling it ugly?"
  669. "What? No! Just that Tuco is..."
  670. >"..."
  671. "Ok... how about Angel Eyes?"
  672. >"I do not even know how that would fit."
  673. "Well Angel Eyes scared me at first."
  674. >"Ok, that doesn't help."
  675. "I wasn't but a wee pony..."
  676. >I slip into the accent I had when I first met Anon
  677. >Accents are still really easy to do for some reason
  678. >"That wasn't even! You..."
  679. >He growls out some string of sounds that almost sound like words
  680. >"That nickname fits you better anyway."
  681. >That makes me smile
  682. >I giggle and fidget on the ground
  683. "How about..."
  684. >Not a lot of names stick out
  685. "...The Man With No Name?"
  686. >"...what?"
  687. "Yeah! Like..."
  688. >My eyes widen
  689. "Like.. it's a legend."
  690. >I wave my hooves around from right to left
  691. "Like a story, a fable, that everyone has heard of. Yet never seen up close. Except for a choice few who continue the legend..."
  692. >He doesn't immediately react to your burst of creativity
  693. >"...you telling me that everyone's heard of it but it might not exist?"
  694. >I shrug
  695. "Well isn't it a compliment?"
  696. >"Not if the implication is that it doesn't actually exist."
  697. "Oh..."
  698. >You like the name of it
  699. >Both of us stay quiet for a while longer to enjoy the music
  700. "... is it weird that we're a human and a pony?"
  701. >"Not really. There's weirder out there."
  702. "Well yeah, like talking dogs. But, this isn't the usual, is it?"
  703. >He shakes his head, but brings his arm up to give me a light squeeze
  704. >"It definitely isn't, no."
  705. "Is that really ok with you?"
  706. >"It is."
  707. >I idly nod
  708. >He's weird
  709. >But I really would not want that to change
  710. "What if I were human?"
  711. >"You'd still be you, right?"
  712. "Totally!"
  713. >"Then I would still dig you as much."
  714. "What if I was just as small and still had a tail?"
  715. >He smiles
  716. >"Oh yeah..."
  717. "Y-yeah?"
  718. >That takes me by surprise
  719. "That's... weird though. That's not a normal human shape."
  720. >"No, but it would be hot."
  721. >I almost feel jealous that I'm not human-shaped with a tail
  722. "What if... human body, but same size, same tail, pony face?"
  723. >Now I'm curious
  724. >"It's still you, so obviously I would dig it hard. And it'd give me an excuse to buy you cute clothing to wear."
  725. >Well at least he's creative about--
  726. >Wait a second
  727. "...wait, you can't dress me up now?"
  728. >"Well, sure, but I don't know what would fit you. I don't know what's out there for ponies."
  729. >I tilt my head and nod
  730. >He has a point
  731. "Alright... so... what if I..."
  732. >What's the weirdest thing I can come up with?
  733. "What if I were human, your size, pony head, tail, and could use magic."
  734. >"How would you use magic?"
  735. "Like... handwaving stuff. Or a wand?"
  736. >"Why not be a unicorn in that case then?"
  737. "Because that's not the same!"
  738. >"I guess you have a point."
  739. >He really is kinda hardcore
  740. "Alright, well..."
  741. >"Wait now, what about you? What if I were a human-sized horse all over?"
  742. >I stifle a giggle
  743. "Theeen... things would definitely be the same. But a bit different."
  744. >"Oh yeah, I bet. What if I were human all over, but pony-sized?"
  745. >I gasp
  746. "You could ride me into battle..."
  747. >"With what, a steak knife?"
  748. "Well... sure. Until we win enough battles and you level up your gear."
  749. >"Neat. Do you get armor too?"
  750. "Obviously."
  751. >The conversation dies again
  752. "Anon. Are you really ok that I'm a pony? There's a world of difference and..."
  753. >And he did get me with Applejack in mind
  754. "And I ain't my ma."
  755. >"Yeah. Maybe we aren't doing things perfectly. But we have clear communication, don't we?"
  756. "Well shoot, I sure think so. I guess... someone like Ma would be more confident with this sort of thing."
  757. >I don't feel too confident despite the conversation
  758. "I guess I just worry."
  759. >"That's alright, I don't mind. If I got your ma instead of you, I don't know how things would've turned out."
  760. "Yeah... maybe you'd get that planting stuff done."
  761. >The few plants that Anon has still look ok
  762. >As far as I can tell
  763. >"Eh, they're doing fine. They're watered often enough. Transplanting them would just kinda help with the bigger ones."
  764. "Why don't we do it tomorrow?"
  765. >"Yeah?"
  766. "Yeah! That would be cool to do, and I bet I'm a natural!"
  767. >"I can dig that, let's make a day of it then."
  768. >That sounds great!
  769. "Awesome!"
  770. >I relax, leaning my head back until I watch the wall directly behind me
  771. "Thanks for getting me instead of Ma. And for getting Sparky. And Dashie. I don't know what I could do or say to express that."
  772. >Despite how much it does mean to me, I sound as casual as he does
  773. >"And I'd do it again if given the chance. Same with the other two nerds. But next time.. .let's steal Dashie and save me some money."
  774. >I give a mock gasp
  775. "Stealing is a sin, Anon!"
  776. >"And we're both sinners. We fit pretty well then, don't we?"
  777. >Dang, he has a point
  778. >I bend my neck back and rest the side of my face on his chest
  779. >"Is it ok to do nothing on nights like this?"
  780. "Sure. We're spending time together. I would really prefer to be around you than to be alone. I'm alright when I'm alone. But I'm comfortable when you're around. I'm happier with you around."
  781. >That really makes you smile
  782.  
  783. >Anon got a lot of dirt the other day
  784. >It doesn't smell like any dirt I'm used to smelling but maybe it's just higher quality
  785. >We didn't get around to actually moving any plants around though
  786. >I kinda wanna surprise him and do a little transplanting, myself
  787. >Doesn't seem too hard to do, anyway
  788. >After watching some YouTube on Anon's bed, I gallop into the living room
  789. >Maybe I can get help from D-
  790. "...hello?"
  791. >She isn't in the living room
  792. >Sparks isn't here either
  793. >I rush back to Anon's room
  794. >Of course they aren't in there either
  795. >I sneak through the second, smaller and empty bedroom
  796. >The bathroom
  797. >The shower
  798. >The fridge
  799. >The closets
  800. >They're nowhere
  801. >I sit down in the hallway, unable to honestly figure out what's going on
  802. >It almost feels like how things were before we found Sparky
  803. "Sparky... Dashie..."
  804. >I whimper
  805. >Anon couldn't have taken them to work and not me too
  806. >Or
  807. >... they weren't kidnapped, where they?
  808. >I look over my shoulder
  809. >What if they were?
  810. >Who would I report it to?
  811. >Who would Anon report it to?
  812. >In the middle of my panic, the front door opens
  813. "WAAAAAGH! HELP, IT'S A-"
  814. >Dashie walks in first
  815. >Then Sparks
  816. >She's levitating a pillowcase above her head
  817. >I leap into Dashie, giving her the tightest hug
  818. "I thought you guys were gone!"
  819. >The pegasus chuckles and welcomes my hug, sighing
  820. >"If I knew you'd be so happy to see me, I might have to leave a little every day."
  821. >Sparks scoffs, as usual, and slinks into the living room
  822. >I let go and follow her
  823. "Hey, where did you guys go? Why didn't you let me know?"
  824. >The bag she has lands on the ground with a slight jingle
  825. "Oh, what's in there?"
  826. >I reach for it and Sparks slaps away my hoof
  827. >"Geez, we're gone for like a few seconds and you freak out! Will you just... go away already?"
  828. "No! You went out with Dashie and didn't even ask to bring me!"
  829. >"Yeah, because you'll freaking blab about it to Anon!"
  830. "What? What's wrong with going out for a walk?"
  831. >I reach for the bag again and manage to push it before Sparks headbutts my leg
  832. >It jingles and opens up on the end
  833. >A lot of coins spill out
  834. "Oh neat! Where'd you get them?"
  835. >Sparks grunts out a frustrated 'UGH'
  836. >"For crying out loud, Jacky!"
  837. >Dashie strolls into the room, watching the fighting
  838. >"Anon could use some help with money... so we just went looking for some. "
  839. >I frown, confused
  840. >Money doesn't just sit around like in video games
  841. >Right?
  842. "Where'd you find all of it? That must be like..."
  843. >I don't really know what they have or how much of it they have but it reminds me of bits from the show
  844. "...like a ton!"
  845. >"We just found it."
  846. >Dashie smiles at me
  847. >She's always had a way with words, and there's no way she would lie to me
  848. >"An awful lot of people tend to leave small coins on the ground. I guess they don't think it's worth it. So we went around, picking up what we could and here we are now. It was very boring, you wouldn't like it at all."
  849. >"What she said..."
  850. >It does sound boring
  851. >But I wanted to be a part of it too!
  852. "Well I guess you have a point but... come on, you know I'd help out too!"
  853. >"Of course we do, you'd do anything to help Anon. We know that."
  854. >Her smile never falters
  855. >"But we also gotta make sure that someone holds down the fort, right?"
  856. >She makes some really good points but I still wish that I could've been a part of it
  857. "Alright... I guess."
  858. >I sit down, huffing
  859. "I guess you two did work well together if it was serious. And helping Anon with money really is a serious thing."
  860. >I watch the bag
  861. "So... what do we do with it? Do we just give it to Anon?"
  862. >Dashie and Sparks look at each other
  863. >Sparks shrugs
  864. >"I guess? I mean... I'm sure he can use these. He's always used a card or paper money. If there's a way to turn coins into either of those, we're set."
  865. "What if he can't?"
  866. >"Well, money is money, Jacky. We'll find a use for it for sure."
  867. >Dashie sits near me and extends a wing to hug me
  868. >"But it's nothing to worry about. It will work out fine, just you see."
  869. >I nod, smiling
  870. "Oh yeah, definitely."
  871. >I watch Sparks spill out the bag, putting various coins into groups based off of how they look
  872. >After a few minutes it does get a little boring to watch
  873. "Hey... Dashie?"
  874. >"Yes, Jacky?"
  875. "If Sparks is gonna spend all day counting, wanna hang out and watch a movie with me?"
  876. >"Absolutely!"
  877. >We both get up and leave the grumbling unicorn
  878. "I saw a few cool things on the internet we can watch and I think Anon would like them too."
  879. >Dashie chuckles and nods
  880. >"I bet he would.My, what would you do with yourself if you didn't have him to think of?"
  881. >I grin
  882. "Hey, you can't blame me! It's like... I don't know, a first chance."
  883. >I feel bad for asking what I did before
  884. >Once we enter the bedroom, I nudge the door so it's more closed than open
  885. "Dashie... I gotta ask... were we ever the bad guys? I mean, I know we did what we had to just to eat and... it ain't our fault that we were like that."
  886. >I did ask her something like that before, I think
  887. >No one's really wanted to talk to me about the dream stuff since it happened
  888. >At least it was kinda just the one dream
  889. >At least for me
  890. >"Should you really worry about that sort of stuff? It was a long time ago. Or it may as well be, given how things are now."
  891. "Well, no, I shouldn't. I should be happy with how things are. But... I guess Anon is rubbing off on me. He always talks about all of that deeper meaning stuff and... maybe there's deeper meaning to find from back then? Iunno..."
  892. >I feel kinda awkward for trying to think like he does
  893. >We did speak about that sort of stuff
  894. >I think
  895. >But I haven't told him everything either
  896. >Dashie ruffles my mane with her hoof
  897. >"He's made you smarter, there's no doubt there. But he is introspective, isn't he..."
  898. >She nods to herself while sitting on the bed with me
  899. >Rather than sitting how I do, she half-lays down
  900. >"He asks a lot of questions, too."
  901. "Well yeah, wouldn't you too if you were him?"
  902. >Dashie shrugs
  903. >"Maybe. I'm afraid I might be afraid of the answers."
  904. "Why?"
  905. >"Because sometimes it's better to not know things."
  906. >It sounds like a riddle
  907. "...what could you know that you wouldn't want to know?"
  908. >Dashie doesn't answer for a few moments
  909. >"Well... are there things you know that you wish you didn't?"
  910. "Like the dream?"
  911. >"Like the dream."
  912. >Would I be better off if I didn't know about the dream?
  913. >Would it be better if I just didn't know how I might've hurt someone or worse?
  914. "I... I don't know. I mean, if it was real. Then it was me. But... I don't want to hurt anyone now. There's no reason to."
  915. >"Would you hurt someone for Anon's sake?"
  916. >I look down
  917. >I don't like that question
  918. >But I also don't like some questions Anon asks too
  919. >If it was for his sake, then it had to have a good reason behind it
  920. >Right?
  921. >Dashie giggles
  922. >"Oh don't get all morose on me, darling. What shall we watch?"
  923. >I shake the gross feeling away
  924. >But not the question
  925. >I'll have to figure out the answer to that later
  926. >But it would be for a good cause
  927. >It would have to be
  928.  
  929. >Today Anon and I are playing a strategy game
  930. >Or, more like he's playing it and I'm his most valuable adviser
  931. >Right now it's just a pair of people that crash-landed on an ice sheet
  932. "So... how do they survive?"
  933. >"Easy; you see that steam geyser?"
  934. "Yeah?"
  935. >"Well we're gonna have them build a home with that at the center, to give heat."
  936. "Wait, how?"
  937. >"Well, you see all of the steel we have, right?"
  938. "Yeah?"
  939. >"So they build walls from that."
  940. "Oh... how do they know how to do that?"
  941. >"Space knowledge."
  942. >In no time, he makes a few rooms that are loosely kept together
  943. >The game says the temperature is so cold that it's in the negatives
  944. "So... where's food?"
  945. >There was maybe a dozen meals at the start but I've seen how quickly that can run out
  946. "Well, Jackernaught, we're gonna have to find some soil and make a place warm enough to grow food... we can also do cannibalism."
  947. >I grimace
  948. "So... one of them has to eat the other?"
  949. >"Oh no... nothing like that. We can just wait until raiders and then eat them."
  950. >That sounds even worse!
  951. "How are there raiders out on this block of ice?!"
  952. >"Well, how are we on the ice?"
  953. "We crash-landed!"
  954. >"Exactly."
  955. >I grumble while he plays, dissatisfied with the logic of it all
  956. >Though he makes really quick progress despite neither of the people being competent builders
  957. >I go from sitting to laying with my head on his lap as he plays
  958. >He has a desk and a chair but I personally like the bed better
  959. >After a few more in-game days, everything is made and actually pretty comfortable
  960. >He even made a little farm plot for rice
  961. >A lot of it really kinda goes over my head just because of the resources that are being kept, preserved and used
  962. "...so when do we get to the action?"
  963. >"Jack, my dear. This is the action."
  964. >I blink hard a few times
  965. "What?"
  966. >"This is kinda just a relaxing game, once you get used to it."
  967. "Oh... well that's alright too. I'm relaxed."
  968. >I sigh when I feel Anon's hand go to my head
  969. >I've let my mane go back to normal instead of the twin tails
  970. >It feels different enough to feel fresh again
  971. >"By the way, Jack. Can you keep an eye on the place when I'm at work?"
  972. "Mm? Why?"
  973. >I close my eyes and nuzzle his leg
  974. >"Well... keep it between you and me but there have been a few reports of a few vending machines down stairs that were vandalized. Same with that laundry room change maker. I doubt it'll be a big deal but... just don't answer the door if you hear someone knocking, alright? If it's management, they can slip paperwork under the door like normal."
  975. >I nod, inhaling
  976. "I'll keep us safe. I bet Sparky would try something silly like setting him on fire."
  977. >"Yeah... and then everything gets on fire. Just be careful for me, ok? I don't want you girls getting hurt or worse."
  978. >He worries so much
  979. >I nod and exhale
  980. "I'll keep us safe until you come back. I promise."
  981. >"That's my Jack."
  982. >The music from the game puts me into a comfortable half-asleep lull
  983. >Until a loud alarm blares
  984. >"Jack, we got a raid!"
  985. >My head bolts upright, though my eyes aren't able to focus
  986. "Aim for the heart, no survivors!"
  987. >"Check out this warlord, we're gonna have a close call!"
  988. "Fill him full of... holes..."
  989. >He clicks on the singular raider
  990. >He's wearing what's basically a loin cloth and wielding a steel shiv
  991. >A shiv?
  992. "Hey, Anon. What's a shiv?"
  993. >"Tiny knife."
  994. >I squint and watch the lone raider make his way to the base
  995. >Or try to
  996. >Halfway through his journey, he falls over
  997. "...what happened?"
  998. "Guy's dying of hypothermia, seems like. It is like negative thirty out."
  999. >I give Anon a wry look
  1000. "...you really wanna call this action?"
  1001. >"...well he can become food."
  1002. "Ew."
  1003. >"Delicious food."
  1004. "Ew!"
  1005. >"They're both cannibals anyway, it's one of their three traits."
  1006. "Ew?!"
  1007. >Anon chuckles at my reaction
  1008. >"Don't worry, there are wild animals nearby they can shoot too. And once the rice comes in, we'll be set for food as long as we keep it going."
  1009. "Well that's better, kinda..."
  1010. >I lazily thrash back and forth until I rest on my back
  1011. >Anon's thigh makes for a good pillow
  1012. >"Anon... what would you do if I could get money for you?"
  1013. >"I'd appreciate it. But I wouldn't expect you to do it. You wouldn't have to. Spending time near me... that's really what keeps me going the most. Even if I don't always say it."
  1014. >I close my eyes, trying to hide a big smile
  1015. "I feel the same way. One day I wanna find ma and introduce you to her. I think she would really like you."
  1016. >I feel so comfortable
  1017. >I kinda wish I did have ma around to talk to
  1018. >She might have some good advice for stuff like this
  1019. >Applejack really would be the best ma
  1020. >I feel Anon's hand go to my throat and under my chin
  1021. >"Yeah... I wish I had a family to show you off too..."
  1022. >I listen to the music in the game for a while
  1023. >It sounds like western music
  1024. >Like a space western
  1025. "Anon."
  1026. >"What's up?"
  1027. "If we land on an alien planet or something, can I have a gun?"
  1028. >"How will you fire it?"
  1029. "Iunno. Space western tech."
  1030. >"Fair enough."
  1031. >Though I don't notice when it happened, Sparks ended up on the bed
  1032. >Anon keeps petting me so it's hard to focus
  1033. >It sounds like something about coins
  1034. >His hand stops petting and scratching my chin
  1035. >I try to speak up but I feel so tired that I can't even see straight
  1036. "Wait... for me."
  1037. >I mumble out something
  1038. >You gotta remind Sparks and Dashie to not go out, otherwise they might come across whoever was damaging the things
  1039. >Just after a nap you'll update them
  1040.  
  1041. >Dashie and I decided to go out with our scooters. We went pretty far from home and ended up on a big road somewhere. It was nice and there wasn't anypony else on the road.
  1042. >We stopped when we saw what looked like a fallen power line. I had seen electricity before, a lot of really big buildings had it.
  1043. "Oh Dashie, check that that thing! It's whipping around like a snake!"
  1044. >Dashie looks at it and at me. She isn't too confident about it since we could be blamed for it by some passing authority figure.
  1045. >"I don't think I like the looks of it... what do you think we should do?"
  1046. >My eyes widen. I've seen stuff like this before!
  1047. "Let's launch over it! It'll be awesome!"
  1048. >I get ready to scoot off toward it but freeze when I see... is that Anon?! What is he doing here?
  1049. >He's near what looks like some utility van. He notices me and grabs some sort of pair of scissors on a long stick. He smiles at me.
  1050. >"Who wants a body massage?"
  1051. >I star at sheer shock as he comfortably tests out the stick. Dashie scoots up to me while Anon approaches the fallen power line.
  1052. >"...what did he just say to us?"
  1053. >Anon, in some sort of smooth singing mood, idly vocalizes while trying to grab the whipping line. He looks pretty comfortable with it even though it could really be dangerous.
  1054. >I watch him successfully grab onto it. He whips it out of the road with a strong grunt.
  1055. >"Mr. Body Massage machine, GO!"
  1056. >"Um... what the hell?"
  1057. >Dashie looks at me like it was the most alien thing in the world. I look at her the same way but I can't take my eyes off of Anon for long.
  1058. >He puts his fists on his hips and winks at me. He seems proud of having taken care of the threat.
  1059. >"Body massage."
  1060. >I bolt upright with a yelp
  1061. >What the hell was that?!
  1062. >I frantically look around, just to see that I'm in bed
  1063. >Blanket on me, pillow under my head
  1064. >An unappealing saliva smear on the pillow
  1065. >Anon pokes his head around the hallway corner, into the room
  1066. >"Y'alright, Jack?"
  1067. >I stare at him like he was some sort of freaky ghost
  1068. "Y...yeah... did you give me a body massage?"
  1069. >He looks at me a little funny
  1070. >"No... but I'm all for giving one if you like."
  1071. >I feel a little funny
  1072. "L-later..."
  1073. >It is a little too early for that
  1074. >And I don't think I would be able to handle two body massaging Anons in my head
  1075. >After going to the bathroom and waiting to cool down, I join Anon in the living room
  1076. >Of course, Sparks and Dashie are in there too
  1077. "What's up? It's still kinda early in the morning, isn't it?"
  1078. >Anon pats one of the pillows beside Sparks
  1079. >Sparks and Dashie are on a pillow
  1080. >I join them but can't notice that Anon is out of grabbing distance
  1081. >"Now I wanna talk to you girls about something."
  1082. >My ears immediately go flat at that tone
  1083. >That's a serious tone
  1084. >Sparks looks bitter
  1085. >Dashie looks worried
  1086. "What... what for?"
  1087. >"Well, Sparks was kind enough to have found some spare change for us."
  1088. >His eyes focus on her
  1089. >She doesn't return the eye contact
  1090. >"But. Turns out, her finding money fit the story pretty closely to the string of petty vandalism and even attempts at robbery that have been going on around. Both in this building and the ones nearby."
  1091. >Sparks scoffs at the implication
  1092. >I know exactly what this is about
  1093. >"Now... I asked Sparks and she said her and Dashie went out to grab stuff. Granted, for us, but still steal things."
  1094. >He looks at Dashie
  1095. >She really looks guilty
  1096. >"But... Dashie said she had nothing to do with it. That it was all Sparks and she could be the only one to do it even though Sparks says otherwise."
  1097. >He looks at me
  1098. >The weight of his stare is deeply uncomfortable
  1099. >"But what's more interesting is that neither of you said that Jacky is included. So, Jack, do you know what happened with all of this crap?"
  1100. >I audibly gulp
  1101. >I'm not guilty of anything, he must know that!
  1102. >But why are they claiming something different?
  1103. >I glance over at the two
  1104. >Sparks glares at me
  1105. >Dashie keeps a straight pokerface
  1106. >She shifts her head to the side a little, almost trying to be as subtle as possible to shake her head
  1107. >What's wrong with Dashie?
  1108. >I would never lie about either of them!
  1109. "Well..."
  1110. >"Eyes on me Jack. Please. This is a serious matter. If anyone caught any of you, there would be no doubt of where you came from. If that led to trouble with us keeping the apartment..."
  1111. >He sighs
  1112. >"To be honest, I don't have the coin right now to afford another place and all of the crap that would be included. Same with a moving vehicle."
  1113. >Well that would be true
  1114. >And it would really hurt everyone if that happened, most of all him
  1115. >I can't lie to him
  1116. >Especially on something like this
  1117. "I... I saw both Dashie and Sparks come back inside the apartment, once."
  1118. >Out of the corner of my eye I can see Sparks smirk
  1119. >And Dashie hang her head
  1120. "I was so worried that I was alone or caught in a nightmare or something and... they just kinda came back in. But I didn't really get a clear message. I was told that a lot of people just dropped coins and stuff and didn't care."
  1121. >Anon looks at me
  1122. >Almost like he isn't sure if he believes me
  1123. >That look really doesn't feel good
  1124. >"People have dropped an entire bag's worth of coins?"
  1125. >I shrug, trying to remember what Dashie told me
  1126. "Like... remember that one time you dropped a dime and you didn't really care? I thought it was just something like that. So... I didn't worry about it..."
  1127. >Anon sighs
  1128. >His judgement focuses on Dashie
  1129. >She looks twice as guilty now, but I try not to stare
  1130. >"So... wanna try again on what's been going on? Sparks seems to be telling the truth. Her details match Jack's."
  1131. >Dashie doesn't speak for what feels like hours
  1132. >But Sparks and Anon are still just watching her
  1133. >This doesn't feel right
  1134. >Dashie wasn't right for trying to throw Sparks under the bus
  1135. >Again
  1136. >She did this before
  1137. >"I need to repay you... you spent a lot of money getting me out of wherever I was."
  1138. >"And in the process you put everyone here in danger. Including where we live."
  1139. >Anon turns to Sparks
  1140. >"Same goes for you. You think being honest is supposed to absolve you from this shit? What would you do if someone caught you? Either of you? None of you have any identification, none of you have any way to contact me if I'm not around, most likely no weird normie cares if you guys get sent to... who fucking knows where?!"
  1141. >Sparks averts her eyes and sighs
  1142. >"Well them maybe you should put a collar on us."
  1143. >"...honestly, maybe I should."
  1144. >Both Sparks and I look at him
  1145. >I look at her and she looks at me
  1146. >We're both blushing
  1147. >Dashie is the only one who doesn't really seem to care
  1148. >"Honestly, I'm not too sure what else would be the best. I don't mind you guys going out or whatever. But you need to stay safe. That's my priority. If it means having a little tag or something to help identify you to me to others... well, we may have to do that."
  1149. >"Does that mean leading us around on a leash too?"
  1150. >Sparks leers at him with a grin
  1151. >Is she taking this seriously?
  1152. >"I'm gonna dunk your head in the toilet and give you a swirly if that's what it takes."
  1153. >Anon really does not sound happy
  1154. "I'm sorry, Anon..."
  1155. >He shakes his head
  1156. >"I don't want any of you to apologize. Apologies won't undo any of this. I just want all of you to be safe and careful. That's what matters to me."
  1157. >Sparks goes back to frowning
  1158. >"So... do we return the money?"
  1159. >Anon looks at her like she put a shoe on her head
  1160. >"What? No, of course we don't. They find out it was us, we're screwed. No it's..."
  1161. >He sighs and shakes his head
  1162. >"We're just going to keep it. Find a Coinstar or something and then convert it to whatever in dollars. And then never do it again. Or else."
  1163. >None of us speak up to him
  1164. >We can pretty reliably guess what 'or else' means
  1165. >Even if it's coming from him and not some uncaring guard
  1166. >All of us sit there, looking at each other
  1167. >"So... since this is all settled. And since I know for a fact that none of you would want to endanger any of us... who wants breakfast?"
  1168. >Like a bunch of kids, all of us raise our hooves
  1169. >"Alright. Dashie."
  1170. >She looks at him
  1171. >"Let's go grab something, you and me. You can help me carry whatever bags."
  1172. >She looks at me
  1173. >And Sparks
  1174. >And gets up
  1175. >When Anon gets up, she follows him
  1176. >Sparks and I sit and wait in silence until they leave the apartment
  1177. >We wait longer before I finally speak up
  1178. "...do you really think we're gonna have collars or something?"
  1179. >Sparks sighs
  1180. >"Oh I hope so..."
  1181. >Now that it's just her and I, I growl
  1182. "Sparky... knock it off."
  1183. >"No."
  1184. "I mean it. That sort of stuff really makes me uneasy."
  1185. >"And I get jealous whenever I hear you two doing anything, or talking about doing anything. Like body massaging?"
  1186. >My ears finally perk up
  1187. "W-wait, that wasn't an innuendo!"
  1188. >"Wasn't it?"
  1189. "No!"
  1190. >I tell her about the dream in a flurry of motions and attempts to deepen my voice
  1191. >By the end of it, she just looks at me like I was stupid or something
  1192. >"Jacky."
  1193. "Yeah?"
  1194. >"You're so freaking weird sometimes..."
  1195.  
  1196. >I wait in the living room for Anon and Dashie to come back
  1197. >After five minutes, Sparky mutters something under her breath and wanders off
  1198. >I don't like just... sitting here
  1199. >But I don't know what else I can do
  1200. >Why did Dashie lie?
  1201. >Maybe she wasn't completely truthful before
  1202. >Maybe all of us left another behind at least once
  1203. >Sparky left me behind once
  1204. >I don't remember a lot about it
  1205. >I don't want to
  1206. >I'm not a criminal like that
  1207. >Not anymore
  1208. >Anon's probably giving her one of those long talks
  1209. >He likes those
  1210. >She's not really as talkative
  1211. >I finally stand up and check the clock on the laptop that's been hiding behind the makeshift stage curtains
  1212. >I don't even really remember how long the stage was made
  1213. >It was Dashie and Sparky that were working together to practice singing
  1214. >I thought they were getting along so much better
  1215. >Even though it's not the same as the laptop I use, I nudge my nose against the track pad to bring up the browser
  1216. >Playing some music wouldn't help
  1217. >Not really
  1218. >Going through the playlist is nice, though
  1219. >And there are other tabs
  1220. >Wait
  1221. >Other tabs?
  1222. >I nudge the mouse over and click on them with a boop of the nose
  1223. "Dealing with loss... what?"
  1224. >Was that something Anon had up?
  1225. >He haven't used this laptop in so long
  1226. >Sparky wouldn't have done that either
  1227. >She's loud and kinda mean sometimes but she hasn't lost anything
  1228. >I poke at the next tab
  1229. "I feel alone..."
  1230. >I go to the next tab
  1231. >The next
  1232. >The next after
  1233. >All of these are about feeling isolated or alone
  1234. >There's no way this was Anon
  1235. >And there's no way I'd use this laptop or even search for those things
  1236. >It would have to be either Sparky or Dashie!
  1237. >I gallop, full sprint into Anon's bedroom
  1238. >And trip into the mattress, my face slapping into the soft corner of it
  1239. >Sparks just looks at me out of the corner of her eye, a controller hovering in front of her
  1240. >"Remembered that beds are soft?"
  1241. >I get back up, shaking my head hard
  1242. "Now ain't the time for jokes, Sparking Shine!"
  1243. >Sparky looks at me funny
  1244. >And puts down the controller
  1245. >"...alright Jacky. What's going on?"
  1246. >I climb onto the mattress, staring at her for any signs of... anything that might help
  1247. "Do you use the laptop out in the living room?"
  1248. >"I haven't touched it in a while, no. I would rather use the one in here or Anon's computer. It's not like I can't use a keyboard without touching it. And I don't know why I would go on the internet when I have games here now. Why?"
  1249. "Come on, quick."
  1250. >I bounce on the bed once... twice, and then jump off of it
  1251. >I don't often get chances to jump on the bed and Anon isn't here to stop me this time
  1252. >I gallop back to the living room laptop
  1253. >Though Sparky isn't going as fast as me, she is following
  1254. >She joins me behind the blanket-turned-curtain and looks at the laptop
  1255. >Using some weird shape of shimmering red magic, she looks through the tabs I did
  1256. "I don't think Anon looked those up."
  1257. >Sparks doesn't really seem to have any sort of expression on her face
  1258. >"No... he probably didn't. When this was first set up there weren't any tabs open at all."
  1259. "If I didn't do this, you didn't do this, Anon didn't do this..."
  1260. >"Then it was most likely Prism."
  1261. "Sparking... what do we do? Did you know about this?"
  1262. >"Can't say I did, no."
  1263. "What do we do? Was she acting weird when you two were out?"
  1264. >Sparky sighs and shrugs
  1265. >"I really don't know. She acted the same way as she always does. Kinda quiet. Acts like she knows better than you. Let me do most of the work."
  1266. >I nod
  1267. "Well... magic is kinda really useful around here..."
  1268. >She looks at me
  1269. >But she really isn't as worried as I am
  1270. "What do we do?"
  1271. >"I don't know. Neither of us are Anon so I doubt we could pull some speech about understanding out of our asses."
  1272. >Her deadpan snark makes me snarl with a snort
  1273. "Oh enough of that! We need to help her as ourselves, none of this acting like we're someone else!"
  1274. >I look behind me to the curtain, almost expecting them to come back any moment
  1275. "We're all friends, none of us are alone! None of us have ever been alone! We've always had each other and we have each other now, and then some!"
  1276. >"Should I play some triumphant music for you too?"
  1277. >My front legs tense up
  1278. >She could really do with a solid kick right about now
  1279. "This ain't no time for games, dang it! Why are you making light of this?!"
  1280. >Her eyebrows rise up
  1281. >"What's with that country accent..."
  1282. >She shrugs with a sigh
  1283. >"Jacky...I get it. If this really is Prism's work... I get how she feels."
  1284. >She averts her gaze from me
  1285. >"But... I don't know how to talk to someone who has that sort of thing going on. I don't know how to even talk to myself about that stuff. I don't think I have the tools or skills or whatever I should call it. I hang out with you, Anon, sometimes Prism... and I play video games. And I'm happy with that. I'm happier doing that than I've ever been nursing my wounds on my own, of seeing you two only if there was a job with something in it for me."
  1286. "Well I get that... but Dashie's one of us. We ain't us without her. She ain't her without us."
  1287. >"I guess that's true. Without her around, I don't think any of us would end up remembering things."
  1288. "Ma wouldn't sit by and let this happen... we can't either. We gotta do for her what you and she did for Anon."
  1289. >"Jacky, Applejack isn't even..."
  1290. >She sighs
  1291. >"Alright... so do you have any ideas or plans?"
  1292. >I smile at her
  1293. "Not a single one."
  1294. >"What the hell are you smiling at, then!?"
  1295. "Because this can't be some long, convoluted plan. Now they may be back any minute now..."
  1296. >"Or they could even be down the hallway."
  1297. "Right! So when she gets back... let's just love her!"
  1298. >Sparky's eyes widen
  1299. >"What?"
  1300. "Yeah! Let's just... like... give her some hugs. Massage her wings. Just... whatever we can do that might really help her out. Show her that we care."
  1301. >"Are you sure she even wants that?"
  1302. >I thrust my hoof out at the laptop
  1303. "I'm sure she ain't happy and I'm sure we need to do something about it or else we really aren't friends and if we aren't, we ain't got nothin'!"
  1304. >She smiles more and more from my growing attempt at a vaguely southern accent
  1305. >"You're really going all in on that, aren't you."
  1306. "Darn tootin' I am, now help me figure out the best way to get us into her heart so she ain't lonely no more!"
  1307. >Sparky exhales and shakes her head
  1308. >"Ok, you can lay off it now, you're going too strong."
  1309. "O-oh, ok."
  1310. >"But... I guess you have a point. I'm no mind reader but we both know her well enough. But let's not make this such an obvious thing, ok? If I were her, and I'm glad I'm not, I would feel really self-conscious if I were suddenly the center of attention. And she's never been the center of anyone's attention unless it was bad."
  1311. "Well I guess that's true too..."
  1312. >My eyes wander back to the browser tabs
  1313. "...do you think she's opening up to Anon about this?"
  1314. >"Probably. He could talk about a rock and it would be interesting."
  1315. "Why would you want to talk about a rock?"
  1316. >"Jacky, you..."
  1317. >She pats your shoulder with her hoof
  1318. >"Just worry about what's going on for now. When they come back... let's split up. I'll take Anon and start some information probing. You hang out with Prism and try to gauge her mood. Get a feel for what's on her mind. If she's open to any of us, she's probably been the most open to you due to how close you are, right?"
  1319. "Right."
  1320. >"Right. So do that and... whenever you and I are alone, we compare notes and go from there. If we're serious about this, we'll be doing a lot of good."
  1321. "And we are. I am. Anon is too."
  1322. >"Are you speaking for him now?"
  1323. "Well come on, you know he would lose sleep over it!"
  1324. >"True... well, let's-"
  1325. >Your ears perk up and twist to the side
  1326. >The front door!
  1327. "Save the chatter, let's do it!"
  1328.  
  1329. >Sparky and I duck out from behind the stage curtain
  1330. >She tosses herself onto a pile of pillows and loudly yawns
  1331. >Just in time for Dashie to come into view, with Anon right behind her
  1332. >"Hey there, we're back. Didn't decide on what was good so I grabbed some biscuits and delicious biscuit sammiches. Dashie decided on some new stuff so it may be a hit."
  1333. >Sparks immediately hops up, pretending to sway a little
  1334. >"Oh, awesome! Hey, Anon, I need some advice on where I'm stuck. I kinda napped while waiting for you to come back. Mind if we eat and play?"
  1335. >That was pretty smooth
  1336. >I didn't know she was so natural with acting like that
  1337. >But then again wasn't she playing a game before I talked to her?
  1338. >Anon seems to buy it, his eyebrows rising
  1339. >"Yeah? Sure, we can do that. I need to talk to you more too about this coin stuff."
  1340. >At least he doesn't sound mad or anything
  1341. >He sets down the bag and grabs two wrapped up items
  1342. >Sparks trails behind, two more full wrappers leaving the bag in an aura of red
  1343. >That all sorta just happened without me, didn't it
  1344. >I shift my focus to Dashie and she looks...
  1345. >Sad
  1346. "Well hey, Dashie! What's up? How did it go?"
  1347. >Though I did sound cheerful, I was worried
  1348. >Dashie basically drags herself to a pillow before plopping down
  1349. >I chomp down onto the bag and drag it toward her and take a seat opposite of her
  1350. "Dashidoo... why'd you lie? Didn't you go out with Sparky to get that stuff?"
  1351. >She looks guilty
  1352. >"I... I don't think I meant to."
  1353. >That doesn't make sense
  1354. "Why? He ain't gonna report us or anything like that."
  1355. >Something pokes at the back of my head
  1356. >I don't really remember anything like this
  1357. >But I speak before I can really think about it
  1358. "...You know there ain't any guards here, right? Those types we dealt with before aren't a thing anymore."
  1359. >She smiles at me for a moment, relieved
  1360. >But her smile doesn't last
  1361. >"You really don't need to worry about me, Jacky. You should be hanging out with Anon and doing more normal things than cheering me up."
  1362. >I laugh at her with a 'ha!'
  1363. "Dashie, cheering each other up is what we all do! If I've learned anything, it's that it's good to talk about things. To not let it all be cooped up."
  1364. >She doesn't look completely convinced
  1365. >"You've changed. I keep having to remind myself of that."
  1366. "Changed?"
  1367. >"I suppose I should say that you've grown."
  1368. >I puff out my chest
  1369. "Well of course I have!"
  1370. >A smile returns to her face
  1371. >"Jacky... do you remember how we were when we were younger?"
  1372. >When we were younger?
  1373. >I strain to think back as far as I can
  1374. >Anon comes up
  1375. >Easily, Anon comes up
  1376. >But a few fragmented memories pop up too
  1377. "I guess I remember..."
  1378. >Us sharing food from the first time we stole something
  1379. "...Well, I remember that bakery we stole from. You told me that it would just be for us."
  1380. >Her warm smile grows
  1381. >"That's right. That was when I decided that we had to do more. That I had to do more."
  1382. >I nod, my head leaning to the right
  1383. "Yeah... and... I guess before we knew it, that's how we always ate."
  1384. >"We sure did eat good, at least."
  1385. "Hur, yeah. Sometimes..."
  1386. >Her smile melts away
  1387. >"I never wanted you to get used to that sort of thing. I tried to keep you out of as much as possible. But I needed help... and you were so strong. So much stronger than me."
  1388. >I giggle at the ego stroke, stretching out my back legs
  1389. "Yeaaaah, I guess you could say I got ma's bucking prowess down, alright."
  1390. >I feel a slight drop in my stomach
  1391. >I think back to the dream of kicking someone
  1392. "I... uh... I guess I was good at fighting too..."
  1393. >"You were. But never for no reason, or to be selfish. It was always to help protect me."
  1394. "I guess..."
  1395. >I don't really know what to say to her
  1396. >I don't know where her head is at
  1397. "Dashie... do you really miss those days?"
  1398. >Her wings ruffle once
  1399. >She doesn't answer immediately
  1400. >"Is it bad if I do?"
  1401. "Well..."
  1402. >What was there to miss?
  1403. >It was doing a lot of bad things
  1404. >But it was a lot of fun too
  1405. >Our lives were really tough
  1406. >And a lot of things hurt too
  1407. "I don't think so... I kinda see why you would like that."
  1408. >I look at the bag of biscuits
  1409. >They actually smell really good
  1410. "But where we are now... I mean, isn't it all awesome that we have food? Water? Safety? Friends? Comfort?"
  1411. >"What do we do with ourselves, Jacky?"
  1412. "What do you mean?"
  1413. >She sounds like she isn't too happy with everything
  1414. >"You have Anon. Sparking has her video games and an entire world that can yield to her magic. I..."
  1415. >She trails off, like she wanted to stop herself
  1416. >"I don't have a purpose anymore. Even if I stole for hunger, I at least had a goal. I had a place to go to, something to do. Don't you feel like being here is just... listless?"
  1417. "Whatless?"
  1418. >I furrow my brow
  1419. >I understand her
  1420. >It's difficult to get used to things
  1421. >It's difficult to know that I can't just leave the apartment on my own and visit Anon at work, wherever that is
  1422. >It's difficult to feel cooped up
  1423. >And I am jealous of the bond Sparks has with Anon
  1424. >I want to play video games with him too and do more than be a mere bystander
  1425. >I repeat my worries to her, each truth hitting my heart from a new angle
  1426. "I don't have a horn... and I don't have wings like you, Dashie. All I have is..."
  1427. >I gulp down hard
  1428. "All I have is a connection I want to believe exists between me and the pony Anon initially wanted."
  1429. >Now that it's said and out there in the world, I feel both lighter and heavier for it
  1430. >Dashie still looks sad, but I think it's for another reason
  1431. >"Darling, you can look at that... man, and realize that it's only you he's looking at in such a way. I don't think you could ever lose against a cartoon."
  1432. >I feel unusually defensive
  1433. "Ma ain't just a cartoon! She's...."
  1434. >I thought I was going somewhere with that but Dashie's right
  1435. "She's... I want her to be real... I want to be more than just a... a gutter pony."
  1436. >I remember a guard calling me that
  1437. >Not to my face
  1438. >But I remember that name clearly
  1439. "I know it isn't perfect here... but it's so much better than anything else. And I think we're still better off now than we ever have the right to be."
  1440. >I get the feeling of something poking the back of my head
  1441. >Wait!
  1442. "And... well, about that coin stuff... can you tell us about that stuff before you do it? Even if it was Sparky's idea, can you let Anon and I know? It's not just safety and all of the stuff he said but... well. We're all friends. Almost... like..."
  1443. >I start to stumble over my words
  1444. "Like... a family? Because that's kinda close, ain't it?"
  1445. >I sound hopeful
  1446. >I really do like the idea
  1447. "I mean, how about it? We've always had each other no matter what! And now Sparky means more to us, Anon's here too. Together, we got all sorts of neat skills and stuff! Like a team!"
  1448. >I feel like I've lost the point of trying to cheer her up
  1449. >Dashie picks up on what's on my mind
  1450. >"Jacky... you worry too much. It really isn't like you to think so hard."
  1451. >I squint at her
  1452. "What's that supposed to mean?!"
  1453. >"It means that Anon's rubbing off on you... let's call it growing pains."
  1454. >She smiles at me
  1455. >"I guess we're both trying hard, aren't we..."
  1456. "Well... yeah. I want to be better. I remember who I was before and it scares me how bad I was."
  1457. >"Jacky?"
  1458. "Yeah?"
  1459. >Dashie leans down and nudges the bag with her nose
  1460. >"Let's eat and listen to some music, ok?"
  1461. >Just like that, the weight lifts off my shoulders
  1462. "Can we listen to that one song you sang?"
  1463. >"Of course... by the way, keep this a secret but Sparking chose that song."
  1464. >For some reason that revelation cleared my head of the entire conversation and all of my concerns
  1465. "That's... wow."
  1466. >"Just remember that next time she gets mad at you. She's a big softy inside."
  1467. "Is it bad if I want to make fun of her now?"
  1468. >"Yes. Make sure Anon and I are around first."

Angel Cake's Quest

by BlondieAnon

/yandere/ Mr. Pear Bear

by BlondieAnon

/yandere/ Your Night Mare

by BlondieAnon

/bootleg/ Jacky Part Nine

by BlondieAnon

/Jacky/ Themes n' Songs

by BlondieAnon