GREEN   98    5456   30.17 KB

Herd 08

By Hawkeye
Created: 18th December 2020 04:21:49 PM
Herd Herding Hawkeye

  1. "You know, someday instead of watching the ponies in the street, I'll be looking at that old boathouse from my deck." you muse, popping a strawberry into your mouth.
  2. >You had bribed Spike to go get some things from Sugarcube Corner while Flitter got ready for the day.
  3. >So instead of actually going anywhere, you were sitting on your trusty balcony.
  4. >Pony watching has always been one of your favorite pastimes.
  5. "You know, you never did tell me why you were out there last night."
  6. >...
  7. >"W-well, it's just that Cloudy has been going on about me getting out more."
  8. >Nodding, you spear a blackberry and pick up some cream with it.
  9. >Of course it had to do with their social lives.
  10. >Mares.
  11. >"After the party, she asked if I met any nice stallions, and when I told her I just hung out with you and your mares all night she got upset."
  12. "What?"
  13. >"She kept going on about how I need to stop hiding so much or I'll never find a stallion."
  14. "But you were at the party... doesn't that count for anything?"
  15. >"That's what I kept saying, but she... well, I think she's worried that I'm so awkward that I'll end up on my own."
  16. "What? Why?" you query, throwing her a quizzical glance.
  17. >"Oh. It's just that it's so competitive and I just, maybe, I don't know." she sighs.
  18. "I'm sure she'll be better now that she's had time to calm down."
  19. >"I hope so."
  20. "Hey, chin up. Cloudchaser is just trying to help in her own loud and pushy way."
  21. >She offers a small grin.
  22. >"That does sound like her, I guess." she agrees.
  23. "You just gotta push back a little." you advise, turning to look at her. "You're her sister, I'm sure you know how to tease her a little. Catch her off guard. Remind her that you're your own mare, eh?"
  24. >"I, um, oh I don't think I could-"
  25. "Don't get me wrong." you interrupt. "I don't want you starting a fight. Just that little jab to remind her that she's your sister and not your mother."
  26. >Breaking off a bit of the pastry horn, you use it to scoop up a few blueberries and a dab of cream.
  27. "I wasn't an only child... I know how it is."
  28. >"I bet you were the oldest."
  29. "Lucky guess."
  30. >"You're so confident. Everypony likes you. It was pretty obvious."
  31. "Yeah, it wasn't always that way. But I guess it sure is today, huh?"
  32. >"It wasn't?"
  33. "No... in more ways than one. But I'm an alien, remember? When I first appeared here, it was chaos. Ponies were afraid of me."
  34. >"But they aren't anymore! Everypony has seen you with the princesses."
  35. "Yeah. It was kind of like cheating, I guess." you shrug. "Clearly you just need to befriend Luna or something."
  36. >"Wha-?"
  37. "I'm kidding, Flitter."
  38. >"Oh. Of course. I knew that!" she recovers. "But you said in more ways than one?"
  39. "It's... not something I really want to talk about. I wasn't unpopular back home, but I wasn't the most successful of my siblings. Let's leave it at that."
  40. >You frown at the thought.
  41. >Your past life wasn't something you had ever talked to anypony about...
  42. >Looking around at the food and coffee on the table, you rise to your feet.
  43. "Going to grab a drink. Anything I can get you?"
  44. >Flitter just lifts her tea.
  45. >"Nope. Thank you."
  46. >Pouring a tall glass of orange juice, you add a healthy dose of vodka.
  47. >Just what the doctor ordered.
  48. >No need to dump your baggage on poor Flitter, you think with a chuckle.
  49. >Mmm, that's a good drink.
  50.  
  51. "So you're a beekeeper?" you ask, dropping back into your seat.
  52. >"Oh! Well, not exactly." the pegasus perks up. "I help manage the wild bees. Fluttershy has had... mixed results. Plus a lot of them live in the Everfree, and she's too scared to go in there."
  53. "A lot of ponies are." you muse.
  54. >"Only the ones who never go in. It's fine during the daytime!" she explains. "Lots of ponies go into the Everfree for all sorts of things. Sometimes Cloudy has to take care of rogue clouds, or the flower sisters go in to find certain flowers, and Zecora even lives in there!"
  55. "She's very in tune with nature."
  56. >"She's crazy!" Flitter gestures animatedly. "I nearly got eaten by a coyote last time I stayed too late in there!"
  57. "A coyote?"
  58. >"Mhm!" she nods vigorously. "I just wanted to know if it was as scary as everypony said it was, so I stayed a little late. And this big coyote comes walking through and I guess I must have made a noise because it stopped and looked right at me!"
  59. "And it came after you?"
  60. >You have to admit you're a little surprised...
  61. >Even on Earth coyotes were pretty tame...
  62. >"I took off before it could!" she exclaims. "But I'm sure it would have. I don't know how Zecora lives out there."
  63. >You shake your head and take another long sip of your drink.
  64. >These ponies are adorably innocent some times.
  65.  
  66. >After Flitter went on her way, you were left with a few hours to yourself.
  67. >Ambling through town, you peruse the market.
  68. >Stopping here and there, you can't help but think what these "locally sourced" and "organic" vegetables would cost in Canterlot.
  69. >Why is "organic" even a label here?
  70. >You've never seen farms like on Earth here.
  71. >Ponies are weird sometimes.
  72. >Most times.
  73. >Always.
  74. >Anyways, with a giant honeycrisp apple in hand, you leave the market and head into the heart of Ponyville.
  75. >Not that it's terribly bustling, but the shops do good business and there's always just enough ponies around to give a sense of liveliness.
  76. >Passing Gabe's office, you pause to look over the listings.
  77. >There's a nice three-room office for rent up on the north end.
  78. >Close to Rarity's place.
  79. >And not far from the spa, for that matter.
  80. >It's a bit of a trek from your future home though...
  81. >Something to think about.
  82.  
  83. >With nothing better to do, you head that way.
  84. >It's an uneventful fifteen minute walk, and you find yourself peering into the windows.
  85. >It isn't bad, certainly enough space for a meeting room, studio and blueprint storage.
  86. >But other than having enough space, there's nothing special about it.
  87. >Meh.
  88. >You don't /really/ need an office.
  89. >It would have been nice to separate work and home for a change though.
  90. >Someday, Anon.
  91. >Someday you'll get there.
  92.  
  93. >"Anon? What /are/ you doing?"
  94. "Rarity! How are you?"
  95. >"I'm just fabulous, as always." she hums. "But why are you peering into this empty shop?"
  96. "Oh, I'm just killing time. Saw the listing at Gabe's and thought I'd take a look."
  97. >"Well, I must say, it wouldn't hurt you to keep your work and personal life separate."
  98. "That's what I was thinking."
  99. >"But can you really afford that right now?"
  100. "That was also something I was thinking."
  101. >"Let's talk about it back at the boutique. We have so much to catch up on!"
  102.  
  103. >Seated once again in the corner of Rarity's couch, you sip on a beer.
  104. >Out of a glass, of course.
  105. >Despite your protests that the bottle was made of glass already.
  106. >But Rarity was having none of it.
  107. >Ridiculous.
  108. >But now she's going on about this shindig Fluttershy is putting on.
  109. >It's only two weeks away, after all.
  110. >The food, the decorations, the guest list...
  111. >...she's starting to sound like Pinkie.
  112. >Wait a minute.
  113. "Whoa hold up." you stop her. "Did you say Cadence is coming?"
  114. >"Ahaha, well yes. Twilight invited her."
  115. >Leave it to Twilight to do something that dumb.
  116. >She's probably just excited to see her brother.
  117. >But /you're/ the one who's going to have to spend the evening dodging Candyass.
  118. "This plan has somehow gotten less exciting."
  119. >"Well, I'm sure you'll be fine. Hopefully Cadence will spend most of her time with Twilight?" Rarity offers hopefully.
  120. "You and I both know why she's coming." you grumble. "And we both know that every time she tries to set me up with someone-"
  121. >"Yes, yes. It ends in disaster." Rarity says with a click of her tongue. "Still, I shall work with Fluttershy to make sure that does not happen this time around."
  122. "Hmmm, I'm having second thoughts about the whole thing. I'm already dating four mares, that's three more than I'm used to dating at a time. Isn't that enough?"
  123. >"Anonymous, you and I both know why it isn't."
  124. >You just throw your hear back and groan.
  125. "I just wanted a quiet vacation to recharge. Whyyyyyyy does she do this to me?"
  126. >Rarity gives you a light bap on the head as she heads into her kitchen with your empty glasses.
  127. >"She's just trying to help, Anon. Really dear, you should know that by now."
  128. >You sigh.
  129. "I know, I know." you say. "You ponies are ridiculous."
  130. >"No dear, just Twilight."
  131. >She has a point.
  132.  
  133. >Leaving the boutique, you head back across town.
  134. >You have an explanation to make, and after that, a date.
  135. >Making your way up the walk to the quaint little house, you can hear the serene sound of strings softly singing from an upstairs window.
  136. >Knocking on the door, the music ceases and, after a moment, you hear hooves scrambling on the other side.
  137. >"Anon!"
  138. >She's got a pencil behind one ear and her mane pulled back in a ponytail.
  139. >You can't deny it. That's pretty cute.
  140. "Hey Lyra, did you get my note?"
  141. >"I did, and I am free from now until whenever!"
  142. "Great. I do still have a game tonight, so I was hoping an early dinner was okay."
  143. >"Like I said, now until whenever!" she says, waving you inside. "Let me go put my lyre away."
  144. >She trots upstairs, and you take a seat on the couch.
  145. >It's a little awkward, but at least her parents aren't here to stare disapprovingly at you.
  146. >That would complete the high school flashback.
  147.  
  148. >Soon enough she's back downstairs and flops back onto the couch next to you.
  149. "It's a little early for dinner still." you start slowly. "And there's something I wanted to talk to you about..."
  150. >Lyra looks at you worriedly as she takes a seat on the couch.
  151. >Leaning back, you sigh and begin.
  152. >Starting, as usual, with your conversation in Canterlot you begin once more.
  153. >Once more explaining the differences in pony and human dating.
  154. >And once again, you ask for forgiveness for your ignorance.
  155. >And as before, you promise that you aren't stringing her along.
  156. >And as always, forgiveness is swift and painless.
  157. >Wrapped in a hug, even, this time!
  158. >Lord almighty are ponies soft.
  159. >Your heart can't take too much more of this!
  160. >"It's okay Anon, I kind of figured it was something like that."
  161. "Really?"
  162. >"You're too nice to play games like Bonbon thought."
  163. >Ouch.
  164. >Fair, given the circumstances, but hopefully your reputation hasn't suffered any permanent damage.
  165. "I'm glad you think so highly of me." you say, giving in to the temptation to tousle her mane. "You ready to eat?"
  166. >"Let's go." she nods, hopping to her hooves.
  167. >She's out the door before you turn around.
  168. >You haven't even discussed where you're going yet.
  169. >This mare.
  170. >Laughing to yourself, you take off after her.
  171.  
  172. >Catching up with her down the street, you fall in beside her.
  173. >It's starting to get chilly, and the leaves have changed.
  174. >There's probably another two or three weeks of good weather before it gets too cold at night.
  175. >You'll need to sneak one more camping trip in.
  176. >It really is your favorite time of year.
  177. "So Lyra, where are we going?" you ask.
  178. >You never even talked about a destination for the evening.
  179. >But she seemed to have a sense of purpose.
  180. >So you've just followed along.
  181. >"Oh, there's a little place my friend owns, over by the river."
  182. "Sounds nice. I've always liked that river."
  183. >"The best river in Ponyville!" she smiles.
  184. >You laugh and shake your head.
  185. >This mare gets it.
  186.  
  187. >The cafe is on the north end of town.
  188. >Not far from the Spa and fairly close to Rarity's.
  189. >If this place works out, it could be a useful little hideout.
  190. >Lyra grabs a table for the two of you out on the deck.
  191. >The sun-warmed wood of the chair is nice on this brisk autumn day.
  192. >Lyra smiles expectantly from across the table.
  193. "I have to admit, you seem to know just what I like."
  194. >"You spend all your time near the river." she explains. "It just made sense!"
  195. "That... is actually really accurate." you admit. "I never really thought about it."
  196. >Lyra starts to speak, but a brown mare with a darker mane interrupts.
  197. >"Lyra! You don't come around all that often anymore, where have you been? And who is this?"
  198. >"Eheheh, I'm just busy with our upcoming concert is all. And this is Anon! We're on a date!"
  199. >You start to stand, but don't get the chance as she moves in close.
  200. >"Ohhh, you sly stallion." the mare says, sliding up close to you. "Lyra here is the finest filly in Ponyville! You've got a good eye, my friend."
  201. >"Hazel..."
  202. >"And don't let Bonbon scare you. She means well, but she's a little intimidating."
  203. "I know. She's just looking out for Lyra."
  204. >Hazel looks at you, then at Lyra.
  205. >"He's already gotten past the gatekeeper. Impressive."
  206. >"Hazel!" Lyra bursts, cheeks showing a hint of blush.
  207. >"You must be something special. Take care of her, eh?" the chef smirks. "And Lyra? We should have coffee sometime, when you're less busy."
  208. >"Oh! Of course!"
  209. >"Ciao!" the mare says, sauntering away.
  210. >Picking up a menu, you look over at Lyra with a smile.
  211. "You've got some interesting friends. She's nothing like Bonbon."
  212. >Lyra groans.
  213. >"Anon, Bonbon and I have been friends for a long time and, well, she hasn't had the best of luck with coltfriends."
  214. "She's tolerating me." you say. "And I think for now that's all I can ask."
  215.  
  216. >Looking over the menu, it's got a nice variety without veering too far off-theme.
  217. >Typical Canterlot fare.
  218. >Typical Canterlot prices.
  219. >...
  220. >This isn't Canterlot at all.
  221. "I'm actually a little surprised."
  222. >"What?"
  223. "This is just like a cafe I'd find in Canterlot. But we're in Ponyville."
  224. >"Hazel is a phenomenal cook! But like you said, these kinds of places are common in Canterlot."
  225. "This must qualify as high-end here in Ponyville."
  226. >"It is." Lyra agrees, then drops her voice. "It's one of the reasons I don't come here very often."
  227. "Maybe we can change that." you offer.
  228. >Lyra's eyes widen.
  229. >"I didn't- no, I don't want- please don't think I'm-"
  230. >You watch Lyra stumble for a minute, looking for the right words.
  231. >It's kind of endearing.
  232. >She recomposes herself and takes a sip of water.
  233. >"Anon, I really don't want you to think I'm a bit digger. This place just seemed so...you!"
  234. "It never even crossed my mind." you reassure her. "Relax."
  235. >You can almost watch an invisible weight lift from her shoulders.
  236. "You really thought I'd think that?"
  237. >"Well, I wasn't sure..." she says, twiddling her hooves.
  238. >You just shake your head with a smile.
  239. "Don't be silly" you say. "So what have you been up to today? I heard some music through your window when I showed up."
  240. >"Oh, I was tweaking a piece I'm writing. I want to finish it in time to have Tavi look it over!"
  241. "Tavi?"
  242. >"Octavia, the cellist! We went to the Academy together. She's the one I want you to meet at the concert next weekend!"
  243. "Cute nickname. But I think that'd be a bit informal for the first time we meet, eh?"
  244. >"Yeaaaah she wouldn't like that a whole lot. She didn't even like me using it for a loooong time."
  245. "She really prefers her full name?"
  246. >"Actually, she really prefers to be left alone!" Lyra giggles. "But Vinyl and I forced a bit of social life into her."
  247. "How do you force a social life into somepony?"
  248. >"It's easy when one of you is her roommate."
  249.  "I didn't take you for the conniving type. I just may have to be more careful around you." you tease.
  250. >"What? Me? I would never do something like that to you! You're already so busy it's hard to keep up!"
  251. "That is... an exaggeration."
  252. >"It's a good thing there's gonna be a bunch of us. I don't think I could do it all on my own!"
  253. "Oh I don't know, you seem to have plenty of energy." you say with a smirk.
  254. >Any implications are lost on Lyra, who starts talking about all the things she seems to think you'll expect from her and the others.
  255. >It's honestly surprising.
  256. >Like a flashback to the 1950's.
  257. >And it brings something to your attention:
  258. "Hey Lyra, I've got a question."
  259.  >She tilts her head, inviting you to continue.
  260. "Where did you learn all this stuff about herding?"
  261. >"What do you mean?"
  262. "Like all of that stuff you just said? Sounds great, but I really didn't expect all of that."
  263. >"But it does sound great, right?"
  264. "Of course!" you laugh. "It means you're around, and you're pretty great."
  265. >Lyra laughs and there's a brief pause as your food arrives.
  266. >Cutting into one of your stuffed mushrooms, you take a bite and savor it.
  267. >The filling of rice, peas and carrots combine with the mushroom cup to give it a rich and hearty feel, while the gooseberry reduction adds just a little something light to keep it from becoming heavy.
  268. >Swallowing, you look across the table at Lyra.
  269. "Your friend is some sort of wizard, I just know it."
  270. >This earns you a questioning look from Lyra.
  271. "How else could she teleport a piece of Canterlot to Ponyville?"
  272.  
  273.  
  274. >A decent meal in your stomach and a pretty mare at your side, you head down to the field.
  275. >Tonight was against the Yetis...
  276. >An easy win most likely.
  277. >You planned to use the game as an opportunity to try a few things.
  278. >Move some ponies around a bit.
  279. >Like a dress rehearsal for next week's game.
  280. >Cloudchaser's team was good...real good.
  281. >If you could have a few tricks up your sleeve, it might give you the edge you need.
  282. >Either way, tonight would be fun and pretty easy.
  283. >"Anon?"
  284. "Hmm?"
  285. >"Earlier you asked why I know so much about herding."
  286. "I did."
  287. >"Keep a secret?"
  288. "Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye."
  289. >"I kind of assumed I'd end up in a herd with Bonbon, so it seemed useful to know."
  290. >Oh.
  291. "Oh, I see."
  292. >"I'm not saying you have to take Bonbon! It's not like that at all!"
  293. "It makes sense to herd with your friend."
  294. >"Yes, and there was a stallion once that we thought would. Bonbon's coltfriend at the time."
  295. "Is this about why Bonbon is so down on stallions?"
  296. >"Yeah." she sighs. "Let's just say it didn't work out."
  297. "Is that why Bonbon is so serious all the time?"
  298. >"No, that part is just Bonnie."
  299. "Hmmm. I happen to have three openings in the Herd still." you muse aloud. "Would you like me to give her a shot?"
  300. >"Anon, you don't have to-"
  301. "I know. But she's your friend, and like I said, I'm in the market for a few good mares."
  302. >"I'll ask her when I get home then!" Lyra smiles brightly.
  303.  
  304. >Passing the fence marking the entrance to the little stadium area, you take a knee and hug Lyra.
  305. "Thanks again for coming. You didn't have to."
  306. >"A good mare supports her stallion!" she chirps gleefully.
  307. "And you're one of the good ones." you say with a smile. "Meet back here after the game?"
  308. >"Okay! Good luck!"
  309. >Nodding, you head down the stairs into the locker room while Lyra goes to find a seat in the stands.
  310.  
  311. >"Startin' to wonder if you were gonna make it." Applejack chides as you step into the meeting area.
  312. "I'm dressed and ready to go half an hour before showtime." you scoff. "Hardly cutting it close."
  313. >"An' it's not like Rainbow didn't just fly into th' locker room two minutes ago." Big Mac adds.
  314. >"Listen here ya galoot. Rainbow may be a friend, but I'm not afraid to say she ain't exactly punctual."
  315. "Napping takes a lot of energy." you offer casually.
  316. >A few pegasi snicker.
  317. >Applejack just sighs.
  318. "But what matters now is that we're all present and accounted for." you say loudly, clasping your hands together in front of you.
  319. >Thus commences the brief pre-game pep talk.
  320. >Good fundamentals.
  321. >Just roll with it if you call an odd play.
  322. >Nopony gets hurt.
  323. >Beers after the game.
  324. >Talk complete.
  325. >"Alright, let's go have some honest fun y'all!" AJ whoops as Dash throws open the doors to the field.
  326.  
  327. >It is halftime, and you're up by two touchdowns.
  328. >A few plays have worked out, but most of them haven't.
  329. >These ponies have settled into their roles too much.
  330. >It's hard to change that up this late in the season.
  331. >But the thing that has you a little surprised was the trio of mares in the stands.
  332. >Roseluck had shown up a little late, but you knew she was going to be busy with work.
  333. >And obviously Lyra was out there.
  334. >But while neither Aloe nor Lotus were there, Flitter was.
  335. >Sitting there with your two mares, rooting for you.
  336. >It caught you a little off guard.
  337. >Ah well, get your head in the game Anon.
  338. >Still have two quarters left to play.
  339.  
  340. >Leaving the locker room, you spot Lyra and Rose over by the gates, and you start heading towards them.
  341. >Two steps later, a pegasus stops you.
  342. >"Anon." the purple pegasus growls as her hooves impact the ground.
  343. "Well hey, Cloudchaser. What's up?"
  344. >"Don't you 'what's up?' me!"
  345. "I'm guessing you're not coming to the bar with us, then?"
  346. >"No!" she snorts, stamping a hoof. "And stay away from my sister!"
  347. >With that, she rockets into the night.
  348. >You stare after her for a moment before being called back to reality.
  349. >"Anon?" Lyra calls, suddenly in front of you. "What did Cloudchaser want?"
  350. "I'll tell you about it later." you sigh, shaking your head. "Let's go knock a few back, huh?"
  351. >"Okaaaay, but I won't let you forget!" she answers as you wrap Rose up in a hug.
  352. >"I'm curious too." Rose adds.
  353. "Fair enough. But now is time for drinking."
  354.  
  355. >Rose demurs from drinking, and you give her a hug and a kiss on the forehead before sending her on her way.
  356. >Lyra is game, however, and cheerily bounces along beside you as you head towards the usual watering hole.
  357. "Your concert is next weekend, right?"
  358. >"Yup! Two performances, one Sunday afternoon, and another Sunday evening! Then we'll do it again the next weekend!"
  359. "Nothing during the week?"
  360. >"Nope, because Tavi is heading up to Canterlot in between."
  361. "Ah, I see. Without the featured soloist, not a lot of point to it."
  362. >"Exactly."
  363. "Where do I even get tickets for this?"
  364. >"Town Hall. There's a little office for us there. Orrrr your super awesome marefriend could just make it happen for you~"
  365. "Hmm, well I wouldn't want to burden her with that." you counter. "But I'll let you know."
  366.  
  367. >Pushing the door open, you quickly spot a large table of your teammates in the back corner.
  368. >Waving to them, you lead the way, Lyra close behind.
  369. >With only one seat left at the table proper, you offer it to Lyra and pull a chair from a nearby table up behind her.
  370. >Turning it around, you straddle the seat and rest your arms on the back.
  371. >Lyra orders some wine or another, you really don't know much about them, and you get a beer headed your way.
  372. >Your unicorn companion is talking animatedly with Cheerilee, while you join some of the others in trash talking the other teams.
  373. >Spirits are high.
  374. >At this point, if you win next week, it won't matter if you don't make the playoffs.
  375. >Everypony will know that with your return, coupled with Dash coming back, you guys are the best team in town.
  376. >And right now, everyone on the team agrees that you can beat the Raiders.
  377.  
  378. >An hour later a few ponies say their goodbyes, citing work or other commitments in the morning.
  379. >This gives you the opportunity to slide into a seat next to Lyra, draping an arm across the back of her chair.
  380. >It also puts you next to Rainbow Dash.
  381. >Mercifully, she has yet to challenge AJ to a drinking contest.
  382. >Not that it isn't going to happen.
  383. >Just that it hasn't happened yet.
  384. >"Anon. Dude."
  385. "What's up, Skittles?"
  386. >"I gotta tell ya, you got some guts man."
  387. "Psh. The Yetis are pushovers."
  388. >"No dude, not that! I mean gettin' all friendly and stuff with Cloudchaser's sister!" she says, barely stifling her laughter. "I haven't seen her so mad since Cloudsdale! Pfft!"
  389. "Just because we hung out one night doesn't mean we're 'getting friendly' Dash." you dismiss. "Besides, Flitter is a grown mare that doesn't need her sister's permission to make friends."
  390. >"Suuure, it doesn't mean anything Anon." Rainbow teases. "Just like it didn't mean anything when the last four mares started hanging out with you."
  391. "I'm starting to think you're jealous." you smirk.
  392. >"Psh, as if! You put on a good face, but you're too much of a homebody to keep up with The Dash!"
  393. "Uh huh. Sure."
  394. >"What's that supposed to mean?"
  395. "Nothing. Just reminiscing about the last time you, AJ and I did shots." you offer. "Who was it that couldn't hold her liquor and had to be carried home? AJ?"
  396. >You pause, feigning deep thought.
  397. "Oh, no. That's right, it was 'The Dash'."
  398. >"You better be ready to put your bits where your mouth is, Anon!"
  399. >"Why do you do this, Anon?" AJ asks wearily from across the table.
  400. "Because it's fun, and I know how it's going to end." you smile.
  401. >"That's fine and all, but we're takin' her back to your place this time 'round." she says, looking you in the eye.
  402. "Fair enough." you concede.
  403.  
  404. >"Is...is this normal?" Lyra asks in a worried tone.
  405. >"Eeyup."
  406. >You stare across the table at AJ, your winged challenger somewhere on the floor to your right.
  407. >It is pretty unclear, and absolutely irrelevant, how much you've had to drink.
  408. >You kind of need to pee, but getting to the bathroom is a challenge you're not sure you're ready for.
  409. >AJ reaches for her final shot, and you grab yours.
  410. >Down the hatch!
  411. >The slight burn of the alcohol mixes with the smokiness of the whiskey, followed by just a hint of sweetness.
  412. >Not that you really notice at this point.
  413. >"You ready t' keep goin' pardner?" Applejack grumbles, eyeing you unsteadily.
  414. "I think I've...made my point." you manage to get out, furrowing your brow as you search for Rainbow Dash.
  415. >Finding her on the ground, you turn back to Applejack.
  416. "I'm willing to call this a draw."
  417. >"Deal." she says, leaning back.
  418. "Mac, why don't ya ever drink with us?" you chide.
  419. >"Because somepony has to make sure y'all get home." he snorts.
  420. >You suspect it's because of Cheerilee.
  421. >But she's pretty cool, so you let it go.
  422. >Slowly getting to your feet, you excuse yourself to use the restroom.
  423. >And you make it there in surprisingly good form!
  424.  
  425. >Upon your return, you find that the bill has been divvied up already.
  426. >You start to count bits, and decide it would be best to settle your tab in the morning.
  427. >What is math, even?
  428. >Lyra leans against you as your group heads out into the night.
  429. >Which is not helping your compromised balance right now.
  430. >You list a little towards her to counter, running your hand through her mane in the process.
  431. >Lyra offers a satisfied coo, causing Cheerilee to giggle.
  432. >Now who's the obnoxiously cute couple?"
  433. "You're just jealous 'cause Mac don't have fingers."
  434. >"Lyra certainly appreciates them." the school teacher teases.
  435. >"Yesssss." your companion hums in agreement.
  436. >"I can't wait until the next girls night."
  437. >Lyra stumbles at that, eliciting another round of laughter from Cheerilee.
  438. >"Rose is going to be merciless."
  439. >"Hey 'lee?" Lyra says, regaining her footing. "Have I ever told you that you're terrible?"
  440. >"Every time we drink."
  441. >"Good."
  442.  
  443. >The next morning you wake to the dulcet tones of Rainbow Dash snoring away on your couch.
  444. >In stark contrast are the quiet little snores escaping from the mare beside you.
  445. >Just to confirm the score here... boxers are still on.
  446. >In a way you're relieved.
  447. >You really aren't that kind of guy.
  448. >Pulling your companion in close, you gently pet her mane.
  449. >She settles into your side as she slowly comes to consciousness, blearily looking up at you.
  450. >"Anon? What is that noise?"
  451. "Our star wide receiver, the captain of the Ponyville Weather Team, and apparently the baritone Mac's quartet has been looking for."
  452. >She stares blankly back at you.
  453. "It's Rainbow Dash."
  454. >"Oh. Why didn't you say that?"
  455. "Don't worry about it." you say, shaking your head. "Let's get away from Speedysnooze and find some breakfast."
  456. >"I'd like that."
  457.  
  458. >Sitting by the window at Sugarcube Corner, you pick slowly at a croissant while Lyra destroys a shortstack.
  459. >It's kind of impressive to watch, really.
  460. >Sipping your coffee, you watch ponies heading off to start their days.
  461. >Even on the weekend, central Ponyville maintained just the right amount of hustle and bustle.
  462. >Seeing Bonbon trot by, you almost consider stepping out and inviting her in... but something tells you that it would be better to let Lyra run that idea past her.
  463. >The mare is pretty suspicious of you, after all.
  464. >"Anon?"
  465. "Hmmm?" you respond absently.
  466. >"What did Rainbow Dash mean about Cloudchaser last night?" she asks. "Does it have to do with why she's so upset with you?"
  467. >Ugh, right.
  468. >How about that.
  469. "Yeah, Flitter spent the whole night with us at the bonfire last weekend, and then I ran into her the other night, and, well, I ended up crashing on the couch."
  470. >"Kind of like the first time I stayed the night?"
  471. "Yeah, but with more science and less music."
  472. >"Sounds like Flitter."
  473. "Do you know her well?"
  474. >"She used to come to girls night once in a while." Lyra nods.
  475. "Hmm, well, it seems Cloudchaser doesn't want her hanging around with me."
  476. >"Yeah, she didn't like her spending all her time with me and the girls either."
  477. "Seriously?"
  478. >"Cloudy is just trying to force her sister to meet a nice stallion." Lyra shrugs. "It's hard sometimes."
  479. "I know she's shy, but she seems like a nice mare. I'm sure she'll find someone."
  480. >Lyra cocks her head.
  481. >"I don't really know about that." she says, before a wry grin creeps across her face. "Unless you know something I don't?"
  482. >Her grin is becoming a smile.
  483. >Better put a stop to that.
  484. "Whoa, easy there." you say, putting your hands up. "I am not going to start dating every single mare that I talk to."
  485. >Lyra just waggles her eyebrows at you, earning her a disapproving frown.
  486. "I just don't get it." you say, shaking your head. "Why is Cloudy in such a rush? I know I wanted my sister to find the right guy before rushing off to get married."
  487. >Ohhhh.
  488. "Is this because of the whole 'ponies date super fast' thing?"
  489. >"More like a 'not enough stallions for every mare to get one' thing." she says, hopping to her hooves.
  490. >Leaving some bits on the table, you wave to Pinkie as you follow Lyra out the door.
  491. "What do you mean?"
  492. >"Anon, just look around!" Lyra says, gesturing to the ponies in the street.
  493. >She pushes against you, and you absentmindedly tousle her mane.
  494. >"There are five or six mares to every stallion. Every mare wants to be married and have foals, Anon. Herding is just how we make that happen!"
  495. >You'd never really thought about it.
  496. >Probably because you spent so much time at work.
  497. >Considering all of the pony-watching you did, you're surprised it never seemed odd that there were so many more mares than stallions.
  498. >How did this happen?
  499. >Why is there an imbalance?
  500. >Or has it always been like this?
  501. >Looking down at Lyra, you start to appreciate how much this relationship must mean to her.
  502. >And to the others as well.
  503. >This is... you need to find out everything you can about herding and all of the cultural strings attached to it.
  504. >And to learn everything about Equestrian Courtship, there is only one pony to turn to...
  505. >Cadence.

Cool Down

by Hawkeye

Kinderquestria Blacksite

by Hawkeye

Muddershy Shorts (Ongoing)

by Hawkeye

Musical Parodies/Shorts

by Hawkeye

Mistletoe

by Hawkeye