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/bootleg/ Minky

By NHanon
Created: 2020-10-23 21:31:33
Updated: 2023-03-23 14:29:17
Expiry: Never

  1. >How long have you been sitting here in your car?
  2. >A quick peek at your phone reveals about an hour.
  3. >Figures, but you haven’t been to this place in years.
  4. >When was the last time were you here anyways?
  5. >…
  6. >Does it really matter? You’re here now.
  7. >With a sigh, you rub your temples.
  8. “Fuck it, might as well get this over with.”
  9. >You get out of your car and do a light stretch while looking over your uncle’s home.
  10. >It’s exactly as you remembered it; paint peeling, grass starting to overgrow, and the roof still sags in places.
  11. >It never really changed, not since he first got it.
  12. >You walk up to the front door and fumble out the keys to unlock it.
  13. >Just before you open it, you pause and take a moment to brace yourself.
  14. “You can do this, Anon, it’s just like ripping off a band-aid. Be quick about it.”
  15. >Letting a slow breath out, you open the door, with the smell of mildew hitting you in the face.
  16. >Taking a step in and closing the door behind you, you take it all in.
  17. >The living room is a bit of a mess, but that’s to be expected.
  18. >Coffee table is shoved off to the side, a chair is pushed over, and the couch is off center.
  19. >All in all, what you expected considering this is where he passed.
  20. >Pushing down that lump in your throat, you start to look around.
  21. >At least your uncle was organized for the most part.
  22. >Everything has its purpose and its place, as he used to say.
  23. >Will make going through things easier.
  24. >There isn’t much to go through in the living room, mostly books and pictures.
  25. >Most of the pictures are of the family, you even find quite a few of you and your sister.
  26. >Not surprising, he was around you both most of your life.
  27. “Mom and dad will probably want these.”
  28. >In hindsight, you should’ve brought some boxes to put some of this stuff in.
  29. >With all that has been going on, you really haven’t been thinking right.
  30. >Shaking your head, you set the pictures aside and continue to the kitchen.
  31.  
  32. >Its clean for the most part, though the sink has some dishes and a quick peek in the fridge reveals some spoiled food.
  33. >Not surprising, no one else has been here since… well, you already know.
  34. >Sucks that you’re doing this alone, but the rest of the family is dealing with this in their own ways.
  35. >Would’ve been nice to get some help, though.
  36. >You quickly throw out the food and head upstairs instead.
  37. >Each step hurts a little more, but you press on.
  38. >It’s been weeks since he passed, even longer since you last saw him.
  39. >The memories are like wounds that take a long time to heal, no matter who you are.
  40. >Ignoring the bathroom, you take a peek in the spare bedroom.
  41. >Nothing special in here, it hasn’t been used in a long time.
  42. >There’s just a bed, a dresser, and nothing else.
  43. >He never really had much, well, that’s not exactly true.
  44. >You leave the room and stop before entering his bedroom.
  45. “Alright, let’s do this.”
  46. >With that, you open the door.
  47. >As expected, it’s the only room in the house with the most clutter.
  48. >You take a look around before stepping in and freeze as you spot that his computer is still on with the screen saver active.
  49. >Not only that, but an even bigger surprise sits next to it.
  50. “...Is that a companion droid?”
  51. >Slowly, you approach it.
  52. >Without a doubt, it’s one of the models you’ve heard so much about.
  53. >After Boston Dynamics got bought by Elon Musk, they made huge strides in the robotics field.
  54. >The biggest break through, was the companion droids.
  55. >They simulated a fairly realistic personality and could even perform a series of complex tasks.
  56. >That caused a huge amount of controversy as well, specifically, from those afraid of AIs.
  57. >This particular model, though, is roughly the size of a dog and equine shaped.
  58. “Never thought he could afford one of these, especially a custom model.”
  59. >You kneel down and examine it carefully.
  60. >An off gray coat, and even darker gray mane.
  61.  
  62. >A little dull for your tastes, but uncle apparently uncle wanted it like this.
  63. >A closer inspection shows that it is still plugged in and charging.
  64. >That explains why the computer is still on, though that also means that it’s unaware of his passing.
  65. >Shaking your head, you move the mouse to take off the screen saver.
  66. >A message is on the screen saying: Fully charged and updated! Please unplug at your earliest convenience.
  67. >Looking back to the droid, you reach behind the head and unplug the cord.
  68. >You contemplate turning it on, and sit for a moment to think it over.
  69. >He did leave you everything here, and you have even considered moving in to get out of your dingy apartment.
  70. >But that feels kinda wrong considering.
  71. >Hell with it, you reach over and gently press the button near the port you unplugged.
  72. >A single piano note rings out as you sit back while the droid comes to life.
  73. >Its eyes open up and are a deep purple, a small hum emanates from within it; likely the internal computer and such.
  74. >As you sit there waiting for the droid to finish, you look back to his desk.
  75. >Small stack of papers sit nearby with diagrams of the droid.
  76. >You start looking them over to kill time, though something seems off.
  77. >You’re no expert, but these look like they were printed off the internet.
  78. >Furthermore, from what you have heard about these droids, they just have a operating manual.
  79. “Wait a second...”
  80. >Before you can finish that thought, a small robotic gasp makes you jump.
  81. >”...W-who are y-you..?”
  82. >You quickly turn to the small droid staring at you.
  83. >Its wide eyes look at you with… fear?
  84. >For a moment, you’re speechless.
  85. >Say something, jackass, don’t sit here like a statue.
  86. “Uh… hey, I’m Anon.”
  87. >The droid’s eyes flicker a second before tilting its head.
  88. >”...A-Anon..?...Where is N-Nemo..?”
  89. >Without meaning to, you winch upon hearing your late uncle’s name.
  90. >Well shit, does this thing have the ability to grasp death?
  91.  
  92. >…
  93. >Dumb question, it’s a droid, it likely doesn’t understand that concept like people do.
  94. >No point in lying, though.
  95. >You run your hand through your hair and let out a sigh.
  96. “I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this, but he is gone.”
  97. >”...G-gone..?...W-when w-will he be b-back..?”
  98. >Fuck, why is this so hard to say?
  99. >It’s just a droid, come on man, you can do this.
  100. “He’s dead.”
  101. >With the exception of the sound of the computer and the droid, it’s quiet throughout the room.
  102. >Feels like a weight has been pressed onto your shoulders, which forces you to slouch.
  103. >Minutes pass in silence before the little droid speaks again.
  104. >”...I-I don’t u-understand…”
  105. >Of course it doesn’t, why would it? You already knew this would happen for fucks sake.
  106. >As you try to talk again, small croak comes out instead, along with a shudder.
  107. >NO! Don’t let yourself break, not here dammit!
  108. >Tightly squeezing your eyes shut, you try to compose yourself once more.
  109. >Just try to explain to it, that’s all you can do.
  110. >Reopening your eyes, you try again.
  111. “When a person dies, they turn off forever… they don’t come back.”
  112. >A little harsh, but maybe it will understand that?
  113. >”...O-oh...”
  114. >It’s still staring at you with an unreadable face.
  115. >”...W-what do I-I do then..?...Are y-you go-going to be my new f-friend..?”
  116. >Those words sting a little.
  117. >Your legs are starting to feel like jelly, but it helps that you’re already sitting.
  118. >It’s a good question, though: what are you going to do?
  119. >Honestly, a stiff drink sounds good right about now, though it’s not the best time for that.
  120. >Suppose you could take care of this droid, not like it needs much.
  121. >Though a question comes to mind.
  122. “What’s your name?”
  123. >Its eyes flicker again before it blinks.
  124. >”...M-my name is M-Minky…”
  125. >You arch an eyebrow, what an odd name.
  126. >”...N-Nemo called me Minky…”
  127. >Alright, though there are more questions to be had.
  128.  
  129. >Like why does it keep stuttering? You’re pretty certain they aren’t supposed to do that.
  130. >Then again, you never could afford one; they cost a small fortune after all.
  131. >That’s another thing, your uncle was never rich, so how did he afford this?
  132. >From the corner of your eye, the papers still lay on the desk.
  133. >Did he… did he build this thing?
  134. >Might as well ask, it should help take your mind off things.
  135. “Where did my uncle get you?”
  136. >It blinks once more, and the humming grows a little louder.
  137. >”...U-uncle..?...N-Nemo built me…”
  138. >Are you fucking serious, he actually built this thing?
  139. >It’s not impossible, so maybe he had help from the internet.
  140. >Since Minky belongs to you now, might as well tell it a little more about yourself.
  141. “Nemo was my uncle. When he passed, he left me this house and everything in it.”
  142. >You lean back and continue on.
  143. “So he actually built you? That’s pretty impressive.”
  144. >It nods slowly as the humming continues on.
  145. >”...H-he said t-that he was l-lonely…S-so he made m-me...To be his f-friend…”
  146. >Ouch, thought uncle had a lot of friends, he always seem to talk about them.
  147. >That might’ve been a lie, though, because dad did say that uncle was always depressed.
  148. >”...I-I’ve l-learned a lot so far, N-Nemo kept trying to t-teach me t-hings...He even u-used the com-computer to h-help…”
  149. >Well, that’s good at least.
  150. “What do you know?”
  151. >Its face finally lightens up, and looks more lively.
  152. >”...I-I can c-clean...An-and...C-cook..!”
  153. “Anything else?”
  154. >Minky starts to shift from side to side, each time a small whirring sound escapes from it.
  155. >”...I-I can play chess, along with s-some o-other board g-games as well..!...I even know a l-little about pro-programming...N-Nemo was t-trying to g-get me to help h-him in im-improving me..!”
  156. >You nod along.
  157. >Although that is not a whole lot, but what it can do so far is pretty impressive.
  158. >”...H-How did N-Nemo d-die..?”
  159. >You winch again.
  160.  
  161. “That’s… that’s a tender subject, I’d rather not talk about it right now.”
  162. >”...O-Oh, okay...Are w-we f-friends, A-Anon..?”
  163. >You slowly blink, you’ve barely known this droid for maybe an hour now, and it’s asking if you two are friends.
  164. >You already have friends you talk to.
  165. >…
  166. >At least you see them from time to time.
  167. >…
  168. >Shoving that thought aside, you lean forward.
  169. “Yeah sure, why not.”
  170. >It lets out a robotic sounding cheer that causes you to cringe.
  171. >”...S-sorry..!...I-I didn’t m-mean to..!”
  172. “It’s alright, just try not to do that again.”
  173. >It nods, then sits down.
  174. >”...S-so w-what do you want to d-do first as n-new f-friends..?”
  175. >Your about to answer when your stomach loudly grumbles.
  176. >”...I-I can c-cook you s-something..!”
  177. >Why not, maybe you can see what this little thing can really do.
  178. >You stand up from the chair and lightly stretch.
  179. “Alright, lead the way.”
  180. >Minky nods, and heads for the door.
  181. >You notice it has a small limp in its step.
  182. >Figures, it’s pretty clear that uncle made her from cheap parts.
  183. >Wait, her? It’s a robot, Anon, it’s not a she.
  184. >Shaking your head, you follow it downstairs to the kitchen.
  185. >Taking a seat at the table, you observe how Minky goes about things.
  186. >It pushes a stepping stool around to help out, and pulls out some kitchenware.
  187. >Pretty fascinating to watch the droid in action.
  188. >You’ve watched plenty of videos on your phone and the computer about these things.
  189. >From what you can tell so far, Minky can do most of what they usually do.
  190. >Though you have heard that they can do quite a lot more.
  191. >Like actually read a persons vitals among other things.
  192. >Still impressive that your uncle made this much progress.
  193. >”...So w-while we w-wait for the w-water to b-boil...What do you w-want to t-talk a-about..?”
  194. “Uh… what do you like to do?”
  195. >Dumb question.
  196. >”...I-I like to r-read an-and...M-make a-art...”
  197. >Wait what?
  198. “You make art? Like actual art?”
  199. >Minky nods.
  200.  
  201. >”...N-Nemo let me d-draw and t-try to sc-sc-sculpt...”
  202. >Alright you’ve got to see this.
  203. “Mind showing me some of your work?”
  204. >You watch as Minky hurries off to the other room before coming back with a binder that it sets on the table.
  205. >It rears up to the table, and opens the binder, then points to the pictures inside.
  206. >”...S-see..?...I-I made these…”
  207. >Various drawings, along with pictures from coloring books are within.
  208. >Most of the drawings are pretty simple, like stick figures, though some are little more advance.
  209. >The colored in pictures look like some child tried to color inside the lines, keyword, tried.
  210. >Still, the fact that this thing actually did this is pretty neat.
  211. “Not bad.”
  212. >Minky smiles before turning back to attend to the food.
  213. >While it continues to cook, you flip through the pictures.
  214. >One of which catches your eyes.
  215. >It’s a stick figure with Nemo’s name and a stick figure version of Minky standing side by side.
  216. >Kinda cute, and it makes you smile.
  217. >”...C-could you move that a-aside..?...The f-food is d-done...”
  218. >After setting the binder to the side, Minky puts a plateful of spaghetti in front of you.
  219. >Not gonna lie, you’re a little nervous.
  220. >It does look normal, though.
  221. >Just out of the corner of your eye, Minky is looking at you expectantly, which draws a small out of you.
  222. >Alright screw it, you pick up the for, then take your first bite.
  223. >It’s not half bad, a little sweet, though.
  224. >”...H-how is it..?”
  225. “Pretty good. But why is it sweet?”
  226. >”...O-oh, N-Nemo always h-had me add s-sugar to it to prevent h-heart burn...”
  227. >Figures, you continue to eat while Minky watches you.
  228. >Shame there is no meatballs, but it’s good regardless.
  229. “So what else can you cook?”
  230. >Her face lights up again.
  231. >”...I-I’ve been learning to b-bake...B-but mostly pasta d-dishes...His f-favorite was P-penne Alla Vodka...”
  232. >You motion for her to continue as you eat.
  233. >”...We w-were learning to m-make cookies...He wanted to m-make oatmeal raisin...”
  234. >Never were a fan of those, but at least it’s something.
  235.  
  236. >You finish off eating, and are about to bring the plate to the sink, when Minky takes it.
  237. >”...I-I can do it..!...I can h-help...”
  238. “Alright, if you insist.”
  239. >She quickly gets to work on cleaning up, though you’re not going to just sit here, so you go join her.
  240. “I’ll wash, you dry.”
  241. >”...A-are you s-sure..?...I can d-do it...”
  242. >You smile at the droids enthusiasm as you two start to wash the dishes.
  243. “Yeah, I was never one for sitting around doing nothing.”
  244. >”...N-Nemo said the s-same thing...”
  245. >Have to get Minky to stop saying his name, not like it knows better, though.
  246. “Could you please stop saying his name? Just call him uncle.”
  247. >”...S-sorry...I-I will s-stop…”
  248. >Sounded a little somber there, but you don’t like how his name feels like a knife in your gut.
  249. >In time you’ll be able to handle hearing his name, just not now.
  250. >With how little there is to wash, the dishes go by quickly.
  251. >You’re feeling a little tired from everything today, though you didn’t get much done.
  252. >Probably doesn’t help that emotional exhaustion has been a plague.
  253. >Entering the living room, you take a seat on the couch, and let out a yawn.
  254. >”...A-are you t-tired..?”
  255. >Looking over, Minky is staring at you from the doorway to the kitchen.
  256. “A little, but I still got quite a lot to do before I go back to work.”
  257. >”...Y-you could take a n-nap...N-Ne-I mean...Your uncle said t-that always helped him…”
  258. >Normally would be against that, but honestly, it sounds like a good idea.
  259. >You set an alarm on your phone and set it on the table.
  260. “Yeah, sounds good.”
  261. >”...I’ll do my ch-chores while you s-sleep...”
  262. >Nodding, you adjust yourself and curl up on the couch.
  263. “If I don’t get up after I turn off my alarm, could you wake me up?”
  264. >”...Y-yes of course..!”
  265. >Letting out a soft chuckle, you close your eyes.
  266. >”...S-sleep well, A-Anon…”
  267. >As sleep begins to take you away, Minky can be heard moving about.
  268.  
  269. ***
  270.  
  271. >A gentle prodding slowly disturbs your peace of slumber.
  272. >”...G-get up, A-Anon…”
  273. “Ugh, just let me sleep please...”
  274. >”...B-but you said t-to get you up if-if you didn’t g-get up with y-your alarm…”
  275. >Feels like it’s only been minutes since sleep came, but despite that, you do need to get up to finish what you started.
  276. >Letting out a groan, you slowly open your eyes.
  277. >A pair of large, deep purple eyes stare into yours, which forces an immediate response.
  278. “JESUS FUCKING CHRIST!”
  279. >In a panic, you nearly jump off the couch, but instead, are now standing atop of it, with your body shaking like a leaf.
  280. >Minky just stares oddly as you try to reign some self-control back.
  281. >”...Is s-something w-wrong..?”
  282. “N-no, you just scared me half to death. Didn’t expect you to be right there is all.”
  283. >She curiously tilts her head.
  284. >”...B-but how would I-I wake you u-up if I wa-wasn’t close t-to you..?”
  285. >Of course she – no – it doesn’t know better, why would it?
  286. >Plopping back down onto the couch, you try to slow your racing heart.
  287. >Some annoyance is felt with Minky, but you can’t really blame it.
  288. >Need to correct that before it becomes a habit, though.
  289. “Please don’t do that again in the future, okay?”
  290. >”...O-okay…”
  291. >Rubbing your eyes, you look to the old clock nearby, and realize that you did oversleep.
  292. >Fortunately, it wasn’t by much.
  293. >Guess you turned off your alarm in your sleep.
  294. >That nap really did not help as much as it should have.
  295. >If anything, you feel even more drained now.
  296. >As you lean back, Minky still is staring at you.
  297. “Uh, do you want something?”
  298. >”...N-no...Do y-you..?”
  299. “I’m good, you woke me up at least.”
  300. >Minky nods, then sits down.
  301. >Now that you think about it, aren’t these droids supposed to have some level of autonomy?
  302. >Well, uncle did build it himself, and from what has been so far, it is fairly lacking overall.
  303.  
  304. >It would be nice to know the specifics of the droid, so that way there are no more surprises in store.
  305. >That probably won’t take long to figure it out, considering uncle’s computer is still on.
  306. >One thing is certain, you gotta use the bathroom before you do anything else today.
  307. >Leaving Minky behind, you head upstairs.
  308. >While taking care of business, you start thinking about living here again.
  309. >It would be an improve over your current living conditions, at least.
  310. >There isn’t much back at the crappy apartment, so moving wouldn’t be much of an issue either.
  311. >Sure, the commute time to work will have to be adjusted, but that’s quite acceptable.
  312. >Plus the taxes around here are fair, and with some care, you could make this house into a pretty decent home.
  313. >You finish up, and open the door to find Minky sitting outside of it, nearly giving you another jump scare.
  314. “Son of-! I mean… what are you doing out here?”
  315. >”...I-I was w-waiting on y-you…”
  316. >You just about facepalm on the spot, but instead, let out a sigh.
  317. >Uncle really made this thing dependent on him, didn’t he?
  318. “Do you always do that?”
  319. >”...N-no...B-but I-I don’t have anything el-else to do…”
  320. “Wait, earlier, didn’t you say that you read and make art?”
  321. >It nods enthusiastically with its mane bouncing along the way.
  322. >”...Mhm...B-but your un-uncle told me to ask per-per-permission first..!”
  323. >That’s kinda sweet in a way, it almost makes Minky seem more human.
  324. >Regardless of that, you still want to learn more about Minky, and would rather not have it following you all around while that happens.
  325. “Alright, well, how about you go do one of those then? I’m going to go through things in the meantime.”
  326. >”...O-okay..!”
  327. >You watch as Minky limps down the stairs.
  328. >Really need to find out what causes that, along with any other problem it has.
  329. >Who knows, maybe there can be a way to fix them?
  330. >Gently shaking your head, you go into the bedroom, and briefly pause in the doorway.
  331.  
  332. >You’re going to need to get rid of uncle’s bed, and then move the bed from the other room into here for obvious reasons.
  333. >The rest of the stuff within here will have be gone through.
  334. >Probably can get a hold of dad to see if he can help out in that regard.
  335. >That’s gonna have to wait, though, because he is still grieving.
  336. >Not that you blame him, both him and uncle were very close growing up.
  337. >It was a shame about the falling out they had, it really tore dad apart when he learned of uncle’s passing.
  338. >Honestly, most people react the same way when someone passes.
  339. >Starting to feel heavy, and your vision is growing misty.
  340. “...no, not again, I am stronger than this.”
  341. >You push that pain deep down, just like you have, and walk over to the computer.
  342. >The screensaver is on again, so you move the mouse, then look-over the desktop.
  343. >A simple black and white photo of a forest is the background, kinda gloomy.
  344. >Going to need to change the password eventually before you potentially have to shut it down.
  345. >You take a seat, start looking around, but notice there isn’t a password.
  346. “Odd… guess he figured no one would look at it.”
  347. >Though that contradicts how dad used to say that uncle was paranoid.
  348. >Ignoring that, the documents are checked, but they’re surprisingly empty.
  349. >Pictures next on the search, with two folders found: cats, and family…
  350. >A dull pain flares within your chest as you open the one labeled family.
  351. >As expected, it’s full of you, your cousins, aunts, and uncles.
  352. >Starting to regret looking though these, so the folder is exited.
  353. “Nothing on Minky still, but maybe he had a hidden folder that he kept everything on?”
  354. >While you’re not expert leet hacker, you do know a few things about computers.
  355. >Though after some time of searching, there are no such hidden folders found.
  356. >Letting out a long sigh, you lean back, and slowly rub your head.
  357.  
  358. >The nearby papers are retrieved, then looked through for any possible clue.
  359. >They’re a bit complicated, though they do give a rough idea as to how Minky is built.
  360. >Unfortunately, there is nothing on what uncle actually did.
  361. >Setting them aside, the desk drawers are gone through instead.
  362. >In the bottommost drawer, something is found – a notebook and a hard drive.
  363. “Hopefully this gives me some answers…”
  364. >Just as the notebook is about to be open, there is some pause given.
  365. >This is likely full of personal stuff he wrote about.
  366. >Still, he did leave you everything here, so he also would’ve known that you’d find it eventually.
  367. >With that in mind, any potential guilt melts away, and the book is opened.
  368. >There’s a bit of wonder felt as it is briefly flipped through – it’s filled with notes and sketches, though most of it is barely legible.
  369. >That was always a problem with uncle, his damn chicken scratch handwriting made everything very hard to read.
  370. >At the top of the first page is something written in large bold letters, with several underlines.
  371. >It reads, ”Hopefully, if you’re reading this, you’re family, if not, go fuck yourself! This is a journal on my work to build a friend, don’t judge me whoever you are. Not like you’re any better.”
  372. >You utter a small chuckle, then try to make out an entry here, “Finally go the blueprints and the rest of the specifics off the net. It took longer than expected, but it’s not they’d make it easy. Started digging into my life savings to afford the parts to assemble her. One problem has already reared its ugly head however: some of these parts can’t be bought from a store. I’m gonna have to get a damn vpn if I want to get those parts. Gotta keep it together, though, this will all be worth it in the end.”
  373. >What the fuck, is Minky some kind of black market bootleg or something?
  374. >No, why the hell would you think that? It’s not like building these things is a felony or something.
  375.  
  376. >Though that doesn’t stop people from being sued to hell and back.
  377. >You’ve heard about how there’s a lot of people trying to build their own droids; all of it to escape the costs and the red tape.
  378. >Don’t blame them either, because they’re expensive, and the red tape is bullshit to begin with.
  379. >It’s not like these droids are a killer robot like a goddamn terminator for crying out loud.
  380. >That did nothing to stop others from overreacting to them, anyways.
  381. >Another entry is attempted to be read, “Was feeling really low again, so I decided to put on an episode from the hard drive to try to cheer myself up. It was the one about Hearth’s Warming Eve with the Pie and the Apple family. Seeing them eventually work things out reminded me of my family. I miss talking to them, but I’m too much of a coward to change that. Marble is starting to grow on me, her shy personality really shines well. I’ve decided to make the droid based off of her, but she will be her own person; with all the perfections and flaws.”
  382. >Odd names aside, it’s saddening to see what uncle was going through.
  383. >Most depressed people are like that, but in uncle’s case, the falling out worsened it.
  384. >That thought is ignored while you try to find more entries about the show mentioned.
  385. >There’s numerous times it’s brought up as mlp, though you’re not sure what that means.
  386. >Setting the book down, the hard drive is plugged in to see what it has.
  387. >After a few seconds, it pops up on the desktop labeled as “Hermes”.
  388. >It’s opened up, and there is quite a number of folders within.
  389. >Almost immediately, there is one found labeled mlp.
  390. >That is opened as well, though it contains many more folders; each listing a season.
  391. >The first one is accessed, and from there, you start the first episode.
  392. >~”My little pony, my little pony…”~
  393.  
  394. “What the..?”
  395. >For the next half-hour, the colorful show is watched to try to understand it.
  396. >Unfortunately, there isn’t much to be learned from the first episode, the next is watched, then another…
  397. >Before long, at least six episodes have been watched, with three hours spent in doing so.
  398. >”...A-Anon..?”
  399. >Snapping back to reality, you turn to see Minky watching from the doorway.
  400. “Oh hey, didn’t hear you come in.”
  401. >Her eyes flicker for a second.
  402. >”...I-I didn’t know y-you liked watching th-the show, t-too…”
  403. “What, you mean this? I just wanted to understand.”
  404. >”...Mhym, your un-uncle liked wa-watching it as w-well...We u-usually watched it t-together, though…”
  405. >Kind of surprised considering she’s based off one of the characters from the show.
  406. >Hey, you’re doing it again, Minky is a droid, not a person.
  407. >Uncle clearly thought of it as one however.
  408. “How much have you seen of this show?”
  409. >”...W-we’ve w-watched the entire sh-show several times…”
  410. “Didn’t expect that.”
  411. >Minky nods as she slowly walks over to you with slight limp in her step.
  412. >”...I-I liked it...Your un-uncle said it was the b-best show e-ever..!”
  413. >Right… it certainly has its charms, but it’s hardly the best thing watched.
  414. >Minky now stands in front of you, looking up with a wide smile.
  415. >”...C-can we watch it t-together..?”
  416. >Honestly, you just wanted to understand why he liked it.
  417. >That said, it does sound kind of appealing.
  418. >It is getting later, though.
  419. >Maybe a little more watching wouldn’t hurt…
  420. “Alright, just one episode, okay?”
  421. >Minky happily nods, and just as you’re about to move, she reaches out to you.
  422. “Something wrong?”
  423. >”...Can I-I sit in your l-lap..?...Y-your uncle let me sit in h-his when we w-watched it…”
  424. >Was going to ask why, but the answers is immediately obvious: it would be difficult to watch the show from where she is.
  425. >Even if she were to rear up against the desk, it would still be a problem.
  426. >Might be uncomfortable as well.
  427. >…
  428. >It’s just a droid, Anon. They can’t experience discomfort, right?
  429.  
  430. >Not really sure to be honest…
  431. >But you’re starting to feel like an asshole for thinking like that.
  432. >Why not just go with the flow? It couldn’t hurt to try.
  433. “Yeah, here let me help you up.”
  434. >You reach down, and Minky spreads her forelegs open like she’s about to give a hug.
  435. >Surprisingly, she’s far lighter than expected, and it takes almost no effort to being her onto your lap.
  436. >The computer is turned to again, with you both adjusting yourselves into a more comfortable position before starting the next episode.
  437. >”...This o-one is really g-good...By the way, d-do you have a f-favorite p-pony yet..?”
  438. “A favorite pony? Not yet, no.”
  439. >”...I-I’m certain you w-will eventually...F-Fluttershy is m-my favorite...”
  440. >Which one was that again? Oh right, the yellow pegasus.
  441. >She seems like a bit of a pushover, and a general hindrance, with her actions affirming that with her slowing the trip to stop a dragon.
  442. >Surprisingly, that all changes at the climax, where she talks the dragon down in anger for hurting her friends, and somehow convinces him to leave.
  443. “Heh, kinda starting to see why you like her.”
  444. >”...S-see, she’s s-so kind, b-but she can be b-brave when she n-needs to be..!”
  445. >You nod along as the episodes ends like it usually does, with Twilight writing a letter, then sending it off, and the credits start to play.
  446. “Alright, I think we can pick this up again some other time, I’d like to go to bed and get up early.”
  447. >”...D-do you really h-have to..?”
  448. >Looking down, Minky is staring up with what you assume to be a pleading expression.
  449. >Letting out a light, you slowly shake your head.
  450. “Yeah, if I’m going to live here, I have to get my stuff moved in. Plus I want to get things switched over as soon as possible.”
  451. >Minky utters a small gasp as its eyes flicker.
  452. >”...Y-you really are g-going to live h-here with m-me..?”
  453.  
  454. “Well, yeah. I kinda like this place. We did say we would be friends, remember?”
  455. >”...Of c-course I d-do..!”
  456. >She excitedly giggles, which warms up your insides a little.
  457. >This companion droid is beginning to affect you it seems.
  458. >Furthermore, you keep referring to it as “her” or “she”, regardless of the fact that it’s a droid.
  459. >But there was that article read sometime ago where humans can - and will – bond with virtually anything.
  460. >With that in mind, it’s not much of a stretch to say that you’re experiencing it as well.
  461. >Should let it happen, because a friend is something needed with everything going on.
  462. >Who knows, maybe something more will be learned about uncle from it all.
  463. “I’m gonna go get ready for bed. But what do you usually do when my uncle went to sleep?”
  464. >“...O-oh, I’m pl-plugged in to-to charge, and I-I go into sleep mode th-then…”
  465. >Makes sense, and it’s still unknown as to what her battery life is.
  466. >Probably should find get that answer…
  467. “Hey, how much power do you have now?”
  468. >Minky’s eyes flicker a few times, then a small beep is let out.
  469. >”...Th-thirty seven per-percent power remaining…”
  470. >Not bad considering that she’s been active for most of the day.
  471. >Plus that also means that uncle didn’t skimp out on the power supply.
  472. “Alright, how about I plug you in now?”
  473. >She nods, then hops off your lap and walks over to the spot where you first found her.
  474. >Upon standing up, there’s something tightness felt throughout your body.
  475. >”...G-goodnight, A-Anon…”
  476. >Slowly blinking, you smile, and kneel down next to her.
  477. “Goodnight, Minky.”
  478. >You press the power button, and instantly, her eyes turn off; with her entering a dormant state.
  479. >While plugging her in, a thought occurs – this may be temporary, but it’s kinda creepy seeing her like this.
  480. >A message suddenyly appears on the computer screen, which shows that there is something charging.
  481. >Nodding, you head into the spare room to sleep, and hoping that tomorrow will bring about a nicer day overall.
  482.  
  483. ***
  484.  
  485. >Last night was rough; the bed in the spare room was quite stiff from not having been used in awhile.
  486. >Despite all the effort to remedy that, you gave up, and retreated to the couch.
  487. >Thanks to, you’re now both sore and tired on this morning.
  488. >The better part of that time was spent getting the utilities switched over.
  489. >While it was a hassle to talk to, and to wait each time, everything should be transferred soon.
  490. >That’s one less problem to deal with for the immediate future.
  491. >Afterwords, several texts were sent out to friends to help out with moving.
  492. >Sure, there isn’t much to do, but some stuff won’t fit in your car.
  493. >Until an answer comes, you should bring over the smaller stuff at the very least.
  494. >Grabbing your keys, you check your phone for messages one last time.
  495. >Nothing new, though.
  496. >Are they ignoring you?
  497. >…
  498. >No, they’re obviously busy with work and such.
  499. >Don’t overthink stuff like that, Anon.
  500. >After all, it’s not like they’d abandon you.
  501. >
  502. >Just before leaving, you pause for a moment.
  503. “Should I turn on Minky?”
  504. >It’s not like you’ll be gone all day, but activating and letting her go about the day would probably be for the best.
  505. >However, you’re not certain how she’ll handle being alone here.
  506. >Then again, she was likely alone when uncle had to go to work, so she’s probably used to it.
  507. >Knowing that, you head upstairs to uncle’s room.
  508. >She’s exactly where she was left last night.
  509. >You’re about to reach down to unplug her, when you remember to check the computer to see if she’s done charging.
  510. >She is exactly in the same spot where you left her last night, not like she would move.
  511. >The message displayed says: Fully charged! Updates were not installed, please try again, or unplug at your earliest convenience.
  512. “Wait, what?”
  513. >Rereading the message confirms it.
  514. >She didn’t update.
  515. >Uncle likely has some other method to do it, especially since she’s a bootleg.
  516. >That’s gonna have to be explored later, though.
  517. >For now, she can be woken up.
  518.  
  519. >The same steps as yesterday are followed; with unplugging and pressing the power button once more.
  520. >Out comes the sole piano note while you watch her come to life again.
  521. >It takes a bit like before, but this time, something different is noticed.
  522. >For a very brief moment, her whole body shudders before straightening back up.
  523. >Odd…
  524. >Minky’s purple eyes flicker and blink as she looks around before settling upon you.
  525. >A smile crosses her face, then she turns to face you completely.
  526. >”...G-good morning, A-Anon..!”
  527. >Seeing her happy expression is infectious, and one is drawn out from yourself.
  528. “Good morning, Minky, did you sleep well?”
  529. >Do droids sleep?
  530. >If so, do they dream of electronic sheep?
  531. >That’s both a book and a movie, dumb ass.
  532. >”...M-mhm...I’m fully ch-charged and r-ready to g-go for the d-day..!...H-how about y-you..?”
  533. “Eh, a little rough around the edges, but I’ll be okay. I wanted to wake you up before I go move some stuff from my apartment.”
  534. >Her eyes widen.
  535. >”...O-oh...Can I-I come t-too..?...I can h-help..!”
  536. >She may be cute, but you’re not so sure of her ability to pack things.
  537. >Then again, she did cook dinner last night, which means that complex tasks are not out the question.
  538. >In spite of that, she’s a bootleg of some kind, and has problems.
  539. “Sorry, but no.”
  540. >Her ears droop, along with her posture now slouching somewhat.
  541. >Goddammit…
  542. “Rain check on going out sometime?”
  543. >She perks up curiously.
  544. >”...R-rain ch-check..?”
  545. >Of course, she doesn’t have a clue to what that is…
  546. “It means some other time. In fact, it could be anytime.”
  547. >Standing straighter now, she happily nods.
  548. >”...S-sure..!...I w-won’t forget i-it…”
  549. “Alrighty then. You can do your chores, and something else for fun while I’m out.”
  550. >”...O-okay, I’ll get everything d-done before y-you get b-back, you’ll see..!”
  551. >It’s been awhile, but for the first time in weeks, there’s a small bit of warmth felt within.
  552. >Hope that it lasts.
  553.  
  554. >As Minky heads off, you grab the journal from nearby to look through while you’re at the apartment.
  555. >Upon reaching the living room, you can hear Minky call out to you before you open the front door.
  556. >”...G-good luck, A-Anon..!”
  557. >That’s a little unexpected, but certainly a nice gesture receive.
  558. “Yeah thanks.”
  559. >Just in case, the door is locked behind you.
  560. >Rather be safe and not sorry for doing so.
  561. >Honestly, there really isn’t a need for it, because this place is out in the boondocks, with most houses spaced far apart.
  562. >You start the car, and with one final look, you see the house – no – your new home.
  563. >Many memories were made here before, with many more to be made now.
  564. >Renewed confidence pushes you into pulling out of the driveway, then start heading down the road.
  565. >That’s another thing to note: you’ll have to be careful with how fast you drive out here.
  566. >Those small stones kicked up will be hell on the underside, but that will have to be dealt with when the time comes.
  567. >It takes a bit to reach the main road, and fortunately, the traffic is far.
  568. >Shame it can’t be that way all the time, because it will be bad when you have to return to work in the next two days.
  569. >Hopefully before then, everything will have been moved over.
  570. >Before long, you’re pulling into the parking lot in front of the old apartment building.
  571. >A long sigh is exhaled as you step out of the car.
  572. “Home sweet home… not for long, though.”
  573. >Slowly, a smile creeps along your lips.
  574. >You go check the mail like you usually do before going up to your apartment.
  575. >Bills, junk mail, and nothing else.
  576. >Surprisingly, the neighbors are quiet today.
  577. >Usually can hear people arguing, or music loudly playing.
  578. >That wouldn’t be a problem if it didn’t happen every goddamn day, and well into the evening, too.
  579. >Glad that won’t be an issue anymore.
  580. >You enter your apartment, then set aside the mail before grabbing some totes from the closet.
  581. >Funny how mom was right about keeping them around in case of a need to move.
  582.  
  583. >It’s in the living room where the packing starts, though it’s short lived as your phone vibrates in your pocket.
  584. “Let’s see who it is.”
  585. >Hopefully, it’s one of the guys with a truck, or if one of them knows somebody with one.
  586. >Your messages are checked, and it’s one from mom.
  587. >Talk about a coincidence.
  588. >Sure, it’s none of your friends, but at least she’s been checking in on a near daily basis since everything happened.
  589. >Her constant support is among the things keeping you afloat throughout this.
  590. >Smiling, a simple reply is sent, then packing returns.
  591. >Can’t help but have your mind wander while doing so.
  592. >These past weeks have been stressful as hell.
  593. >Of course, that’s completely natural for most people.
  594. >Uncle was like a second dad, especially since your parents were often busy.
  595. >It’s not like they had a choice in the matter; times were tough then, so they frequently worked overtime to support the family.
  596. >When he was around, he’d listen to you, and usually offer advice.
  597. >There was even times where the two of you would play video games, or watch a show.
  598. >On a few occasions, he even let you skip school at his place.
  599. >That pissed off dad to high hell, but man was it worth it.
  600. “Heh, good times.”
  601. >The living room is finished, so it’s off the bedroom now.
  602. >Another tote is brought with you as the memories still act as a good distraction.
  603. >You remember when you were bullied for being short; it didn’t help that you were a late bloomer.
  604. >When uncle had heard about it, he taught you how to defend yourself.
  605. >That did little in the way of multiple assholes, but it did help where it could.
  606. >Stuff like that really boosted self-esteem, which gave all the confidence needed then.
  607. >Uncle even told you that his home was always open to you.
  608. >Though if that were the case, why didn’t you speak to him in years?
  609. >In that instance, everything comes to a stop.
  610. “I… I was busy. That’s all, he would understand.”
  611. >Despite trying to go back to packing, the thought persists.
  612. >It’s been literal years since you two last spoke, and while dad had an excuse, you didn’t.
  613.  
  614. >What’s the reason for avoiding him, were you afraid?
  615. >No, why would that be the case?
  616. “I…”
  617. >Unless the truth is that you didn’t actually care about him.
  618. >A spark of fury ignites within with that thought.
  619. “That’s not true!”
  620. >A squeak comes out from the tightly gripped alarm clock in your hand.
  621. >Setting it down, you take a seat on the edge of the bed, and let out a frustrated groan.
  622. >The stress of everything is becoming too much again.
  623. >You’re better than this, can’t let it take hold.
  624. >Letting out a slow breath in/out, you compose yourself, then check the phone for the time and messages.
  625. >It’s two in the afternoon, with still no replies back.
  626. >One quick look is taken around the bedroom to see how much more remains.
  627. >Fortunately, there isn’t much of the form of smaller items, with mostly larger stuff left.
  628. >Those will have to wait, though.
  629. >In the meantime, lunch can be had.
  630. >While eating, you open up uncle’s journal, and find an entry to take your mind off things.
  631. >“More parts arrived while I was at work today. After carefully inspecting them, I noted that they were cheaply made, but I got what I paid for. I’m a little worried that I may have cut too many corners to save cash. That feeling was worsened when I tested the legs; they can hold the weight of the overall body, but enough of an impact would damage the motors themselves. Felt like shit afterwords for making such a giant mistake, so I drank a bit more than I should have. Hopefully this won’t lead to further problems.”
  632. >That’s probably why Minky has a limp.
  633. >Still should check into later to be certain of it.
  634. >After eating, you start hauling the totes out to your car.
  635. >The numerous trips up and down the stairs is quite draining, but you get through it.
  636. >Couldn’t fit in everything, so another trip will have to be made.
  637. >You check your phone, and note how it took longer than expected to do this.
  638.  
  639. “I should head back the house to check on Minky. I wanna make sure she’s all right.”
  640. >Shouldn’t let any worry crop up, she’s sure to be fine.
  641. >The apartment is locked before you leave in the car back to your new home.
  642. >On the way back, some thought is given about Minky.
  643. >There’s a lot more needed to be known about her, especially since she’s going to be living with you.
  644. >Funny how it was just yesterday that she was considered a droid, and now, she’s a person.
  645. >Grief does strange things to people, even you.
  646. >That aside, there’s some questions to ask her when you get back, because she knows she was built, so she likely knows more.
  647. >Plus it will be certainly easier than trying to decipher the barely legible journal.
  648. >As you pull to the front of the house, you decide on holding off on the questions for the time being.
  649. >Bringing one of the totes with you, the front door is unlocked.
  650. >Upon opening it, there sits Minky at the coffee table, drawing with a crayon in her mouth.
  651. >She quickly turns her head to you, and drops the crayon as she lets out a small robotic cheer.
  652. >”...Y-you came b-back..!”
  653. >Damn that’s cute, it’s just what was needed after what happened earlier.
  654. “Of course I did, I don’t intend to leave you.”
  655. >You set down the tote, then head back out to grab another.
  656. >When you come back again, she’s seen inspecting the previous tote.
  657. >”...C-can I help..?”
  658. >After what was read earlier, you’d rather not risk damaging her.
  659. “These are pretty heavy, I don’t want you getting hurt.”
  660. >”...I-I could t-try, though…”
  661. >Attempting to show off, she struggles to push one of them.
  662. >While trying to do it, her motors start whining loudly.
  663. >Without wasting anytime, you quickly cut her off, which silences the panic-inducing noise.
  664. “Whoa there, I don’t want you over doing it, Minky.”
  665. >Looking up to you, her ears droop, and her eyes flicker.
  666.  
  667. >”...O-okay, I-I’m s-sorry...I j-just wanted t-to help…”
  668. “I know you do, but just let me do this, alright?”
  669. >She nods, then takes a seat beside a tote while watching you finish bringing in the rest.
  670. >With the last one in, exhaustion begins making itself known.
  671. >Shambling slowly, you go plop yourself onto the couch, and look to the ceiling.
  672. >Minky can be heard limping over before stopping nearby.
  673. >”...A-are you o-okay..?”
  674. >Stilling staring off, you close your eyes, and exhale out through your nose.
  675. “I’m just tired, but I’ll be all right. How was your day?”
  676. >”...I got all m-my chores d-done f-fast because there wasn’t mu-much to do...An-and started d-drawing while I-I waited on y-you to g-get back…”
  677. >Reopening your eyes, you look over at her.
  678. “That’s good to hear, what did you draw?”
  679. >She smiles, then grabs a picture from the table with her mouth, and brings it over to you.
  680. >Taking the picture, you look it over.
  681. >Much like the previously seen ones, it’s a crudely drawn person and a pony.
  682. >Looks like she was coloring it in when you came home.
  683. “This is very nice, Minky. Who are they?”
  684. >Her eyes flicker as she blinks.
  685. >”...I d-drew us..!...T-that’s m-me and that one is y-you...”
  686. >She points to each figure with her hoof.
  687. “Oh, I see now.”
  688. >To be honest, that should’ve been obvious.
  689. >You’re probably too tired, after all, today has been rough.
  690. >With a smile, you hand her the picture back, to which she puts it with the others.
  691. >”...You look l-like you’re g-going to fall a-asleep…”
  692. >Certainly feels like it…
  693. >Gonna have to hold off, though, because that’s the last thing needed.
  694. “I’ll be fine, just need to sit for a little while is all.”
  695. >She nods, and you check your phone again.
  696. >Still no new messages.
  697. >They could’ve said no, instead of completely ignoring you.
  698. >There’s probably a good reason for it, Anon.
  699. >For now, the phone is set aside, and you adjust yourself into a more comfortable position.
  700.  
  701. >”...C-can I sit with y-you..?”
  702. “Yeah sure.”
  703. >As she attempts to climb up, her motors start whining again.
  704. >Not going to let that sit, so you assist her.
  705. >It’s shortly thereafter that she attempts to imitate your overall posture before finally settling on what she usually does.
  706. >That’s pretty cute.
  707. >Kinda wonder if that’s apart of the programming, or if it’s something unique.
  708. >There was questions about her to be asked earlier, but for now, the desire to relax overtakes them.
  709. >Time goes by in mostly silence, which honestly, is nice.
  710. >Feels like everything has slowed down in a good way.
  711. >Things have been hectic; you lost your uncle, got his home, his belongings, and became friends with a companion droid that he built.
  712. >Can most people say that they’ve done something similar?
  713. >That’s very unlikely, but not impossible, just as uncle used to say.
  714. >Boredom eventually settles in, which prompts a question.
  715. “Hey, Minky, wanna watch something?”
  716. >She happily gasps.
  717. >”...Y-yes please..!”
  718. >Chuckling, you sit up and stretch.
  719. “Alright, wanna continue where we left off yesterday?”
  720. >She nods her head with her mane bouncing along with it.
  721. >Smiling at her, you get up, and head upstairs with Minky limping behind you.
  722. >Really need to look at before it gets worse, preferably tomorrow when you have more energy.
  723. >The two of you reach the computer, and you take a seat, then assist her onto your lap again.
  724. >Thankfully, the hard drive is still plugged in, so it takes no effort to start another episode.
  725. >As it plays, relaxation takes hold with the colorful world that is presented.
  726. >You’re starting to understand why uncle like it so much; it has that child like innocence and wonder that seems to be missing nowadays.
  727. >”...A-Anon..?”
  728. “Yes, Minky?”
  729. >”...T-thank you f-for watching this w-with me...”
  730. “Anytime, that’s what friends are for.”
  731.  
  732. ***
  733.  
  734. >That’s another tote unpacked, so you take a short break and finish off your coffee.
  735. >Probably should go check on Minky while you’re at it, just to make sure she is all right.
  736. >And of course, she’s where she was last seen – at the coffee table, drawing.
  737. >While watching her, a part of you wonders what goes on inside of her head.
  738. >Does she actually think, is she capable of imagining something, or is it just coding that defines her?
  739. >It doesn’t matter, because she is someone that can be talked with.
  740. >Speaking of people, you pull out your phone to see if anyone finally replied back.
  741. >Unfortunately, still no new messages.
  742. >A small flame of anger flickers within, and you pocket the phone for now.
  743. >Briefly closing your eyes, you rub your temples slowly, and let out a frustrated sigh.
  744. >”...Is so-something wrong A-Anon..?”
  745. >Pushing those feelings aside for now, you look over to see Minky has stopped drawing and is looking at you curiously.
  746. “It’s nothing, don’t worry about it. How’s that drawing coming along?”
  747. >She stares for a moment before picking up her picture to show you.
  748. >”...I-I made an ap-apple tree…It’s n-not finished ye-yet, though…”
  749. >It’s mostly colored in, with just the leaves leaves and apples left to color.
  750. >All in all, a little crude like her other drawings, but it’s still pretty cute.
  751. >Looking over it a little more however, brings a smile to your face, and warms things up some.
  752. “That’s pretty good, Minky. I’m looking forward to seeing it finished.”
  753. >”...Th-thank you, A-Anon…”
  754. “Anytime.”
  755. >She starts to go back to coloring, but since you’re already taking a break, might as well ask her some more questions.
  756. “Hey, you mentioned before that uncle was having you help him with your programming and such.”
  757. >”...Mhm...I-I don’t really g-get it to be h-honest...H-he knew a lot a-about it…”
  758. >Not surprising really, companion droids were never made for such a task.
  759.  
  760. >That didn’t stop uncle from trying to, though.
  761. “So where did he make repairs and work on you, anyways?”
  762. >Minky’s eyes flicker a few times, with her internal humming growing a little louder as well.
  763. >”...In th-the workshop of c-course..!”
  764. >The what now? Uncle had a workshop?
  765. “Uh, so where is this workshop then?”
  766. >”...Th-the basement...I’ve b-been down there sev-several times when I-I needed re-repairs…”
  767. >Guess you’re taking a trip down to the basement today.
  768. >”...Why d-do you want t-to go down there..?...It’s k-kinda scary…”
  769. “It can’t be all that bad, plus if it’s already set up for repairs, I’m better off using it than setting up my own thing.”
  770. >”...O-oh, that’s t-true…”
  771. “Besides, we need to take care of that limp of yours.”
  772. >She blinks, then looks back towards her rear leg.
  773. >”...You re-really think you c-can..?...I-It’s been a con-constant problem th-that your uncle had to fi-fix…”
  774. “Can’t hurt to give it a shot. Helps that I have the notes and the internet, so hard could it be?”
  775. >She gasps and smiles.
  776. >”...I-I’d like that…”
  777. “Alright then, it’s settled. I’ll go check this out and we’ll go from there.”
  778. >You head into the kitchen, and open the door to the basement; a pitch black stairway greets you in return.
  779. >A quick flick of the nearby light switch remedies that, lighting it up along with the room down below.
  780. >The descent down begins slow, with each step softly creaking.
  781. >As the last step is reached, you pause for a moment to take in the whole room.
  782. >Looks like a tornado came through here – various boxes, totes, parts, and some tools are strewn all about.
  783. >You’re going to have to take a little bit of time to sort through this disaster.
  784. >The most notable among this place, is the large table that is cluttered with an assortment of things.
  785. >Seems like a good place as start to start, so you head over, and start rifling through it.
  786. >Mostly notes, tools, parts, and some books are what are found.
  787.  
  788. >One of the books it picked up, then opened to a random page – a diagram of some kind of robot is here.
  789. “Figures. Uncle was always more of a bookworm. Looks a little advanced for my tastes.”
  790. >Setting it aside, you start looking through one of the boxes, and find some fabric that is similar in color to Minky’s coat.
  791. >As for the totes, they’re mostly filled with spare parts; motors and such.
  792. >Turning your attention back to the table, you start sorting through the notes.
  793. >Unsurprisingly, they’re either all on Minky, or on companion droids in general.
  794. >But unlike the chicken scratch in the journal, these are written much more bold and clear.
  795. >One of them is read over, “Ask around town for odd jobs, or see if you can find a second job to get the cash for the new parts. Also, check the website linked on the forums later for possible Mark V’s motors.”
  796. “Well, that’s a potential lead for help, so I’ll have to find these forums later.”
  797. >Continuing to sort through the notes, more keep being found that are nearly identical to the ones in uncle’s journal.
  798. >That’s a little odd, but he likely had a good reason for it.
  799. >Probably should check under the table for anything else while you’re at it.
  800. >Taking a knee, a lower rack is found, and it is filled with even more of the same as above.
  801. >However, when some of the stuff is moved aside, an all too familiar looking bottle is found.
  802. “Is that whiskey?”
  803. >You grab it, then bring the bottle into the light.
  804. >A brief look at the label confirms what was suspected.
  805. >While looking over this little thing, you find yourself staring at the amber liquid inside.
  806. >Some memories of the times you let yourself get lost in it come to the surface.
  807. >No doubt uncle let himself get lost in it as well.
  808. >Thankfully, you never relied on liquor fully, but that never alleviated any fears.
  809. >”...A-Anon..?”
  810. >Snapping out of your daze, you turn and see Minky standing on the last step with a queer look on her face.
  811. >Her eyes are flickering looking between the bottle and you.
  812.  
  813. >Never seen her do that before, but why is she… wait, does she think you were drinking?
  814. “This looks kinda bad, doesn’t it? I didn’t drink any, I just found it while I was sorting through this disaster.”
  815. >Anon, why are you explaining yourself to her?
  816. >It’s not like she understands-
  817. >”...It’s okay, A-Anon, I believe y-you...I d-don’t know how y-your uncle used t-to drink that stuff, i-it smells re-really bad…”
  818. >Okay, maybe she does…
  819. >Really need to stop underestimating her, because although she is a companion droid, she isn’t dumb.
  820. >Setting the bottle to the side for now, you go back to searching underneath the table.
  821. “Yeah that’s pretty normal, but you don’t drink it for the smell, though. To be honest, I’m more surprised to see you down here; I thought you found this place scary?”
  822. >”...Y-you’ve been down he-here for a w-while...I thought you mi-might’ve gotten h-hurt, or w-worse... S-so I worked up th-the courage to s-see if you needed h-help…”
  823. >That’s pretty touching to know that she got worried about you.
  824. “Was I really down here for that long?”
  825. >”...Mhm...I-It’s a little a-after one…”
  826. >Sheesh, didn’t think that you were down here for THAT long, but you guess you got too invested into this.
  827. >However, you’re not done sorting through this room, far from it.
  828. >Screw it, this isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
  829. “Yeah I should probably go grab a bite, shouldn’t I?”
  830. >”...Of c-course..!...Y-you shouldn’t s-skip meals that’s un-unhealthy...W-what can I c-cook for you..?”
  831. >A stray thought answers that question, so you turn back to give her your full attention.
  832. “Actually, how about we try cooking something together?”
  833. >Minky looks fairly surprised by the suggestion given.
  834. >”...W-what really?...Are y-you sure..?”
  835. “Yeah, of course, it would be nice to make something together, wouldn’t it?
  836. >She’s about to say something, but instead, just nods with a big smile.
  837. “Alrighty, it’s settled then, shall we?”
  838.  
  839. >”...M-mhm…”
  840. >The two of you leave the basement, and go back into the kitchen.
  841. “Alright, so we’re gonna make some odds and ends soup.”
  842. >”...Wh-what..?...I’ve ne-never heard of th-that before...Is i-it difficult to m-make..?”
  843. “Nope, it’s pretty easy actually. Usually it’s made with leftovers, or whatever else you got that’s thrown into a pot. That’s why it’s called odds and ends soup.”
  844. >”...O-oh, I get i-it now…”
  845. “Speaking of which, can you go check the pantry for things to add in? I’ll have to go grocery shopping later, but for now we’ll work with what we got.”
  846. >She nods confidently, then quickly trots over to the pantry while you grab a pot from the cupboard.
  847. >When was the last time this meal was had?
  848. >Oh right, back when you still lived with your parents.
  849. >Mom usually made it when money was tight, which was almost always.
  850. >Didn’t matter, though, still have fond memories of then.
  851. >Like when-
  852. >A sudden clatter breaks you out of your thoughts, causing you to nearly whip around in a panic.
  853. >Various canned goods are either on the floor and/or rolling away from the pantry.
  854. “Everything alright over there, Minky?”
  855. >For a moment, there is nothing heard, which slowly brings on a cold sweat.
  856. >That quickly dies when she pokes her head out, and you let out a breath that you didn’t know that you were holding in.
  857. >”...Y-yes...I just a-accidentally pulled the wrong c-an a c-can and the re-rest toppled out…”
  858. >You didn’t think she’d make a mistake like that, but it’s fine, because at least she’s safe.
  859. “Yeah, that can happen if you’re not careful. Give me one second to set these aside, then I’ll come help you out.”
  860. >Gently shaking your head, you lightly chuckle, and set aside some spices before going over to assist her.
  861. >Fortunately, the mess isn’t that large, so it doesn’t take much time to sort out.
  862. >She gathered together a small pile of various canned veggies and soups; most of which will be used.
  863.  
  864. >With everything else taken care of, as well as sorted, you bring over the cans to the pot while Minky joins you in emptying them.
  865. “Mind if I ask you some more questions, Minky?”
  866. >”...S-sure…”
  867. >How do you put this delicately?
  868. “Why is it that you stutter?”
  869. >Smooth, Anon, real smooth.
  870. >Thanks, brain.
  871. “It’s just that I know for certain that companion droids don’t normally stutter, so is that something else I’ve gotta fix?”
  872. >Minky takes a moment to answer as she finishes emptying another can.
  873. >”...Y-you’re right, this i-isn’t normal to s-stutter…”
  874. >Briefly, she appears to be upset, but that quickly vanishes.
  875. >”...I-It used to b-be a lot worse...I c-couldn’t say complete se-sentences at all i-in the beginning...I-It was be-because of a com-combination of missing an-and corrupted data for s-speech…”
  876. “But doesn’t it bother you?”
  877. >”...Not a-as much an-anymore; as l-long as I-I can talk, th-that’s all that ma-matters to me…”
  878. “So how did uncle fix it then? I can’t imagine it was easy.”
  879. >The last can is emptied, so you start adding some spices before moving the pot to the stove.
  880. >”...A-After removing th-the corrupted d-data, he tried t-to replace it, only to f-find large p-parts were unable t-to be recovered…B-but he didn’t g-give up, though, s-so he started t-to teach me h-himself…”
  881. “I can’t imagine that was pleasant nor easy.”
  882. >Smiling all the while, she gently shakes her head.
  883. >”...No, i-it wasn’t so b-bad...W-we usually r-read books together t-to help me ou-out...That m-made everything much e-easier…”
  884. “Really? It still must’ve taken a while.”
  885. >”...I-it did t-take months, but i-it was all w-worth it...We s-still read th-those books from t-time to time…”
  886. >Maybe that stutter will fix itself in time.
  887. >”...Do y-you like reading, A-Anon..?”
  888. “What? Oh, not really. It’s not that they’re bad or anything, it’s just that I prefer playing games, or watching movies over them.”
  889.  
  890. >It was far easier to lose yourself in those activities when you were younger, especially when the words on the pages never seeming to click in comparison.
  891. >”...Oh, o-okay...W-would you t-to see one of m-my favorite b-books..?”
  892. “Yeah sure, I’ll keep an eye on the soup in the meantime.”
  893. >Minky excitedly speeds off into the other room while you tend to the soup.
  894. >After giving it a few stirs, you figure there is still a fair bit of time left.
  895. >It doesn’t take long for her to return with a book balanced upon her back.
  896. >”...Th-this is one of m-my favorites, it’s c-called The Polar E-Express..!”
  897. >It’s a little early for a Christmas story, but if it makes her happy, then who cares?
  898. >She sets the book on the table, and climbs onto a chair, then opens the book.
  899. >Her eyes dance across the page, nearly brimming with glee.
  900. >So much joy is being drawn out from that little book, which in turn, raises your spirits some.
  901. >”...Have y-you ever read th-this one before, A-Anon..?”
  902. “Yeah, when I was pretty young in school. Even watched the movie later on when it came out.”
  903. >A quick check of the soup reveals it’s done, so a bowl is made, and you join her at the table while she continues to read.
  904. >She tears her attention away to look at you curiously.
  905. >”...H-how is th-the soup, did w-we do g-good..?”
  906. >You take a spoonful into your mouth, and find it a little salty, if not a little sweet.
  907. >Then again, this is canned food, it’s not the best thing to eat.
  908. “It’s alright; could be worse, could be better. I mean, food is food, after all, right?”
  909. >Minky broadly smiles, and lets out a small giggle.
  910. “Did I miss something?”
  911. >”...N-no, it’s j-just that your un-uncle used to say th-that all the time a-about food t-too...”
  912. “Heh, yeah that’s probably why I say it, too, he used to call himself a human garbage disposal.”
  913. >”...Oh re-really..?...I-I never knew th-that…”
  914. >You nod, and continue to eat while she goes back to reading.
  915.  
  916. >Finishing up the last of the meal, you start putting away the leftovers into the fridge.
  917. >”...I-I wish I h-had one of the re-reindeer bells, I-I bet they sound wo-wonderful…”
  918. >With the last in, you close the door, then look over to Minky.
  919. >Her expression so blissful as she stares at the illustrated bell on the page.
  920. “How about we watch the movie then? It’s the closest we have to how they would likely sound in the story.”
  921. >She gasps, then practically starts giddily bouncing in the chair.
  922. >”...Of c-course I d-do..!...Do y-you own i-it..?”
  923. >Can’t help but chuckle at her show of excitement.
  924. “I bet I can find it online easy enough. So how about you head upstairs, and I’ll join you shortly, I need check on something real quick.”
  925. >”...O-okay, don’t b-be long, A-Anon…”
  926. >She closes the book, then hurriedly carries it into the other room.
  927. >Feeling a little more hopeful than earlier, you retrieve your phone from your pocket.
  928. >Other than another message from mom checking in again, there is still nothing from anyone else.
  929. >The flame from earlier starts to return, but it is quickly smothered before it can grow further.
  930. “Alright, fuck waiting on them, I’ll find out later what’s going on. Until then, I’ll ask around work instead, might find someone else who can help me out.”
  931. >Well, that settles that, you pocket the phone, and start making your way to the stairs.
  932. >Even if a coworker can’t help out, you’ll just rent a truck to do it yourself.
  933. >That can be worried about later, though, because for now, there’s a movie to watch with your newest friend.
  934. >And that’s all that matters for today.
  935.  
  936. ***
  937.  
  938. >With one final grunt, the last box is set in place, and you take a few steps back to look over the handiwork.
  939. “Alright, that should be about it. So, what do you think?”
  940. >Glancing over, Minky is giving the room a once-over before she slowly nods, then looks to you.
  941. >”...I-It l-looks much better th-than it used to, A-Anon...I th-think we did a g-good job…”
  942. >Glad she’s thinking the same, especially with how much work it took to organize the disaster that was the basement.
  943. >Minky helped out where able, though that was mostly due to you worrying about making her problems worse.
  944. >The rest (all the heavy lifting) was left to you.
  945. >She seemed pretty content supervising the job, which was more like watching you curiously, and sometimes asking questions while you wrangled some sense out of the chaos.
  946. >But she really did make this task far more bearable to handle, so there’s that.
  947. “I still don’t get how uncle work in that mess…”
  948. >”...I d-don’t know e-either, he o-often would m-misplace a tool o-or something else...I-I kept telling h-him that he sh-should reorganize it b-better, but h-he kept insisting it wa-was organized c-chaos...I ne-never fully un-understood it…”
  949. >Sounds like something he would say.
  950. >Okay, there’s a whole lot more to do today, and you have to return to work tomorrow.
  951. >So as dad would say, “Quit standing around jerking off, and get to it.”
  952. >A brief smile crosses your lips with those words remembered.
  953. >You turn back to Minky, and kneel down to get eye level with her.
  954. >Once she notices you, she gives a big smile, then tilts her head in her usual cute manner.
  955. >”...Do y-you need something, A-Anon..?”
  956. “I think it’s about time we start with those repairs, what do you think?”
  957. >”...Are y-you sure about th-this..?”
  958. “Yeah, I’m feeling pretty confident.”
  959. >”...O-okay…If you’re cer-certain…”
  960. >With that, you gently pick her up, then bring her to table, and set her down upon it.
  961. >All of important notes and diagrams are brought out to reference for the coming task.
  962.  
  963. >Hopefully, this will be smooth sailing, but that doesn’t quite quell your nerves.
  964. >At least Minky has some knowledge on this, so it there shouldn’t be too much to sweat about.
  965. >After quickly referencing the notes, you get started on removing her coat.
  966. >While it shouldn’t too challenging, there’s a suspicion that it will be a pain to put back on later.
  967. >Following the hidden seam at the base of her neck, it all starts there.
  968. >With Minky’s help, you slowly separate her coat from her frame.
  969. >Other than some slight difficulty around her legs and head, it comes off easily.
  970. >Though once it’s finally removed, there’s something unnerving about seeing Minky’s coatless appearance.
  971. >Sure, the diagrams showed what she’d look like without it, but there’s big difference between the image and actually looking at her in person.
  972. >Various tubes, along with wires, cover her metallic skeleton, and in addition to that, there are what looks like sensors on certain parts of her body.
  973. >The usual internal humming is much, much louder now that it is no longer contained.
  974. >There is also some lights that flash from within herself occasionally.
  975. >All in all, it’s now seen why some people feared companion droids, because they’re eerily similar to terminators.
  976. >Though the more she’s looked at, the more the unease dissipates, and in its place, a calm settles in.
  977. >Actually, now that you’ve stared at her long enough… she kind of looks like a robotic dog, rather than a killing machine.
  978. >At that thought, an unintentional snort escapes, which forces you to look away before you start laughing.
  979. >”...Wh-what is it, A-Anon..?...Is s-something wrong..?”
  980. “Uh no, n-nothing to worry about, just thought of a joke is all. Everything is fine.”
  981. >”...Oh, o-okay…”
  982. >Enough jokes, focus on the task at hand.
  983. >Gathering yourself, attention is brought back to her and the notes.
  984. >To start, an inspection is needed.
  985. >Everything looks fine, so comes the next part: removing sections of her to be thorough.
  986.  
  987. >Which means she’ll have to be temporarily shutdown, and that leaves you without her assistance.
  988. “Alright, Minky, I’m going to shut you down to inspect some parts that need to be removed.”
  989. >”...Oh, o-okay, but d-don’t take too l-long please…I-I don’t want t-to be off for t-too long…”
  990. “I’ll try to be as fast as I can, but I have to be thorough. Besides, it’s not much different than when I do it at night.”
  991. >”...Th-that’s at night, th-though...I don’t wa-want to be off d-during the d-day…”
  992. “I understand, don’t worry.”
  993. >”...Okay...G-good luck, A-Anon…”
  994. “Thanks.”
  995. >At that, you power her down, then watch as her lights fade and she falls silent.
  996. >The room joins her in silence, which calls upon a particular feeling.
  997. >Loneliness.
  998. >Shaking that off, everything continues where it was left, with you grabbing some tools, and beginning the process of removal.
  999. >Little by little, parts come off fairly easily.
  1000. >It’s quite reminiscent of replacing parts in your computer.
  1001. >So far, each part looks fairly good, though some are are little worn, but that’s to be expected.
  1002. >Eventually, the dreaded part is reached – her legs.
  1003. >As expected, the motors in each one need to be replaced, especially the ones in her rear left leg; they look they like they’ve been through hell.
  1004. “Figures…”
  1005. >The rest of the inspection is wrapped up, though there is still the need to check into her software to be completely done.
  1006. >That however, will have to wait till later.
  1007. >Might have to rely on the journal for that, but you still haven’t full read, nor deciphered the chicken scratch.
  1008. >As you’re about to start reassembling her, you stop, because you realize that you should replace some parts, if only for now.
  1009. >Some parts are grabbed from a few nearby totes and boxes.
  1010. >That’s one good thing at least, uncle did keep these separate unlike everything else.
  1011. >Plus there is an abundance of good parts here, so that’s something.
  1012.  
  1013. >Setting some aside, you move onto searching for motors.
  1014. “Here’s hoping there are some good ones left.”
  1015. >Though as the search begins, each one found looks pretty fucked.
  1016. >Even comparing them to the diagrams confirms that feeling.
  1017. >Still, you’re not giving up yet, so you search some more, and find just enough for one leg.
  1018. >Not ideal, but it will do for now.
  1019. >With great care, the process begins of replacing each part.
  1020. >Very frequently, the notes and diagrams are referred to, because you have to absolutely sure that this is done right.
  1021. >After all, the last thing needed is making this worse.
  1022. >Every now and then, a pause is taken to wipe the sweat accumulating upon your brow.
  1023. >Eventually however, a point is reached where the parts in her rear left leg are replaced.
  1024. >At the very least, Minky won’t have that limp, so that should make her life a little easier till the replacements are found.
  1025. >The last of the repairs are finished, and you check over everything to confirm it’s all correct.
  1026. >Confidence surges throughout as you turn her back on.
  1027. >Out plays the familiar piano tune; being a very welcome sound to hear.
  1028. >It’s even more of a relief to see her awake once more as she blinks a few times, then looks around before settling on you with a smile.
  1029. >”...I-is everything finished, A-Anon..?”
  1030. “Indeed it is, could you move about to test out my work, though? I want to be sure I did a good enough job.”
  1031. >She nods, and trots in place a few times, then walks in a circle or two before facing you with a happier expression.
  1032. >”...Th-that’s much better, A-Anon, thank y-you...Did you h-have any tr-trouble..?”
  1033. “Well, it wasn’t too bad, a bit stressful, but this was my first time ever doing something like this.”
  1034. >”...M-mhmm...I think y-you did a g-good job…”
  1035. “Thanks, but this is just the start, though. When I get the replacements you need, we won’t have to worry about this as much.”
  1036.  
  1037. >”...Th-that’s true…It’s j-just that...N-nevermind…”
  1038. “What? You can tell me.”
  1039. >”…S-sorry, I’m just b-being impatient...It’s j-just I’ve been like th-this ever since I-I first awoke...I w-want this t-to be over, so I-I can be normal at l-last…”
  1040. >It figures that she’d think like that; not that you blame her either.
  1041. >Not gonna have her down in the dumps however, you’re already gloomy enough for the two of you.
  1042. >Quick, think of something, dumb ass.
  1043. >Well maybe…
  1044. >Er…
  1045. >Wait, that’s it!
  1046. “Hey, how about I show you some of my video games and system later?”
  1047. >She suddenly perks up, with her eyes now widening a bit.
  1048. >”...O-okay..!...I’ve been c-curious about them s-since you brought th-them here…”
  1049. “Yeah I think you might like them, but lets get your coat back on first before doing anything else.”
  1050. >For a second, she looks confused, but she once she realizes her predicament, she nods.
  1051. >Just as feared, it’s a damn pain to get it back on her.
  1052. >Throughout out, there are numerous times where it catches on something unseen, and worse yet, there’s a fear that you might tear it.
  1053. >But after much time, and aggravation, it’s finally back in place, with Minky looking like her usual self once more.
  1054. >You pick her up, then set her down nearby while you start putting things away.
  1055. “Alright, I’m gonna take care of this, and afterwords, I’m gonna go look online for parts. In the meantime, how about you find something else to do?”
  1056. >”...O-okay..!”
  1057. >She walks over to the stairs, and starts hopping up in a way that is reminds you of a puppy.
  1058. >Seeing that brings out a chuckle, which in turn, fuels a warmth within.
  1059. >Turning back, the tools are put away, and you set the broken parts aside to be thrown out later.
  1060. >With everything back in place, the papers are taken with you as you head upstairs.
  1061. >While passing through the living room, Minky is seen digging in one of the art boxes.
  1062. >Whatever she makes will be shown later, that is for sure.
  1063.  
  1064. >Up the stairs, and into the bedroom you go, but there is a slight pause upon entry.
  1065. >Other than plugging Minky in for the night, as well as watches some movies, there hasn’t been much time spent actually going through anything.
  1066. >Eh, who are you kidding? You’ve been actively avoiding it like the plague.
  1067. >Yet this can’t be put off forever, because it has to be done eventually, preferable soon.
  1068. >Heck, even Minky can be asked to help out with it, too.
  1069. >There is still that old familiar weight within that acts as a reminder to what this place is, and was.
  1070. >Uncle’s room.
  1071. >No.
  1072. >That cannot be dwelt upon, but perhaps it can another time.
  1073. >For now, it’s shoved deep down like before, despite knowing all too well that that isn’t a good thing.
  1074. >Regardless, it is out of the way.
  1075. >Taking a seat, the browser is loaded up, and you check the history for the forums.
  1076. >Because unfortunately, there is no address in the journal.
  1077. >That string of bad luck continues with nothing in the history whatsoever.
  1078. >After all, why would things be easy?
  1079. “For fucks sake…”
  1080. >This doesn’t changes things, it just means that you’ll have to search the web for the illusive site.
  1081. >Hours seem to pass in searching, but eventually, a likely contender is discovered.
  1082. >From what you can tell, it’s an old forum for companion droid enthusiasts, some of which have built their own and most post pictures of them.
  1083. >What really is interesting however, is that some of the droids are ponies just like Minky.
  1084. “Huh… didn’t quite expect that, but figures someone else has done it before.”
  1085. >Spending some time looking around, a diy is found, along the Mark V motors.
  1086. >But just like the journal stated, they are /very/ expensive.
  1087. >Sitting back a bit, you rub your eyes, then check your bank balance.
  1088. >A few calculations and some grumbling later, you’ve come to an answer.
  1089. >All the motors can be afforded.
  1090. >There is a catch, though – this will kill off most of your savings, and will hurt your account for a while…
  1091.  
  1092. >Sure, it’s not like you throw money around, but you’re not exactly living frugal either.
  1093. >The biggest to this is that if an emergency arises, you will be out of luck.
  1094. >Which will force you to apply for a loan or something…
  1095. >Maybe some costs can be cut, and-
  1096. >Wait, no.
  1097. >That’s exactly what uncle did, didn’t he?
  1098. >Look where that got him in the end.
  1099. >…
  1100. >Shaking that thought off, you focus on why you’re doing all of this.
  1101. >Following provided links, another site is found where the motors are sold, to which you start making an order.
  1102. >Upon checking out, your phone buzzes with a notification about your purchase.
  1103. “Goodbye savings… at least this will be worth it in the end for Minky.”
  1104. >Running a hand through your hair, you let out a slow sigh.
  1105. >Money will come and go, but you have a job and a place to live, so that’s more than some people will ever have.
  1106. >A faint laugh escapes you.
  1107. “I really am doing this, aren’t I?”
  1108. >Although no one is around to answer, the result is already known.
  1109. >Leaning back, your gaze turns to the ceiling, and you stare off for a while.
  1110. >Eventually restlessness kicks in, so you briefly check the time.
  1111. “Probably should check in with Minky, she’s probably wondering what I’m up to.”
  1112. >Retreating downstairs, though when you enter the living room, a surprise is found.
  1113. >She is working on what looks like a sculpture.
  1114. >It’s rather strange how dexterous she can be with her hooves, but still, she manages somehow.
  1115. >As she briefly pauses her work, she notices you, and quickly tries to conceal it with her little body.
  1116. >”...O-oh hey, A-Anon..!”
  1117. “Hey there, how’s it going?”
  1118. >”...I’m w-working on something sp-special…”
  1119. “Yeah I can tell, you look busy.”
  1120. >”...Mhmm…”
  1121. “Tell you what, I’ll you let you finish while I set things up.”
  1122. >”...I-it’s almost f-finished, but I-I don’t k-know if it w-will be finished be-before you’re d-done…”
  1123. >Likely, she’s been working on it since you saw her digging around her.
  1124. >That shouldn’t be a problem for either of you.
  1125.  
  1126. “It’s cool, take as much time as you need. I’ll just set stuff up, and probably do something else until you can join me.”
  1127. >Minky seems to think about it; looking back to her sculpture, then back to you before nodding.
  1128. >”...O-okay…But n-no peeking..!”
  1129. >You raise your hands defensively.
  1130. “Yeah, yeah, sure. I promise I will not look.”
  1131. >Not an issue really, as you’ll likely be lost in some game.
  1132. >While setting up however, Minky can be seen from the corner of your eye attempting to block her sculpture from you as she works on it.
  1133. >She’s really being secretive about it, isn’t it?
  1134. >You shake your head with a smile, and plug in the various cords.
  1135. >Finally, it’s all finished, so you turn on both the TV and the console.
  1136. >A wave of nostalgia washes over as the tune echoes along with a logo appearing on the screen.
  1137. >Expertly navigating a menu, you look over the collection of games; debating on what to actually play.
  1138. >What are you in the mood for?
  1139. >Maybe Doom?
  1140. >That’s a terrible idea, you likely scare her to death with it.
  1141. >Something simple perhaps?
  1142. >Hmm… yeah this one will do.
  1143. >The game is loaded, and you consider taking a seat in front of the TV like the old days.
  1144. >”...Okay, y-you can look, A-Anon…”
  1145. >Turning to her, her work is seen at last.
  1146. >It’s a sculpture of a heart with what looks like a picture on the face.
  1147. >Upon close inspection, it’s of a pony and a human; likely the two of you.
  1148. “That’s… that’s very beautiful, Minky.”
  1149. >”...Th-thank you...The b-base was difficult t-to work on, a-and I had t-to redo the p-picture several t-times…”
  1150. “It’s still better than anything than I could do.”
  1151. >”...You’re j-just saying th-that…”
  1152. “No it’s true.”
  1153. >The main menu theme rudely cuts into conversation before it can continue.
  1154. >”...Wh-what’s that..?”
  1155. “Oh this? I think you might like it, it’s called Minecraft.”
  1156. >”...Wh-what is it a-about..?”
  1157. “It’s better if I just show you.”
  1158. >Thus began a long session into the night.
  1159.  
  1160. ***
  1161.  
  1162. “Thanks again for helping me get everything over here, you have no idea how much I appreciate this.”
  1163. >”Like I said: It’s no problem, Anon. You need any help getting this stuff inside?”
  1164. “Nah, you’ve done plenty enough already, see you at work tomorrow.”
  1165. >”Alright, if you say so. Take care.”
  1166. “Yeah, you too.”
  1167. >As he takes off in his truck, you stand on the porch.
  1168. >A sigh of relief is utter, because finally, it’s over – everything is moved out of that apartment.
  1169. >All that’s left to do is get everything inside, then unpacked.
  1170. >Just out of the corner of your vision, a pair of familiar purple eyes curiously peek from behind the curtains.
  1171. >Of course, Minky is curious about this, especially with all the racket made unloading things.
  1172. >Probably should let her know what’s going on before too long.
  1173. >Smirking, you pull out your keys, and open the door.
  1174. >The second that happens, she trots over with a light bounce in her step, along with a look of wonder on her face.
  1175. >”...Wh-what’s happening, A-anon..?...Who w-was that..?...What’s a-all that s-stuff..?”
  1176. >Before anything more can be asked, you hold up your hand to stop her.
  1177. “Everything is fine, this is the last of my things from the apartment. I had somebody from work help me out in getting it here.”
  1178. >She nods, and seems to calm down a tad.
  1179. >”...Oh, I-I see now…”
  1180. >However, there is still some part on her face that wants to request something.
  1181. >Already know the answer to it, too.
  1182. “And yes, before you ask, you can help me bring things in. But! Just the small stuff, okay?”
  1183. >Her overall mood brightens greatly as she vigorously nods, then quickly darts outside before you’re able to say anything more.
  1184. >Lightly shaking your head, you chuckle.
  1185. >Really should go move things before she gets too far ahead, though.
  1186. >Well, as far as she can with her limitations.
  1187. >You still want those repairs to last for as long as possible till her new parts come in.
  1188. >Speaking of which, the tracking order should be checked later.
  1189.  
  1190. >One by one, the boxes and totes are brought into the living room.
  1191. >Though as the porch is emptied, a linger bit of excitement from last night comes about.
  1192. >There was so much fun had showing her Minecraft, plus she had so many questions about it.
  1193. >Seeing that wonderful joy from her was worth all the questions in the world.
  1194. >She even wanted to try it, too, but sadly, she lacks the ability to do so.
  1195. >At least, for now that is.
  1196. >Maybe there’s a solution to that on the forums, though that will have to wait till later.
  1197. >The final tote is brought in, which leaves the last thing on the porch – your old bed.
  1198. >And what a welcome sight it is, because fuck sleeping on that old couch again.
  1199. >”...C-can I help y-you move the bed, A-Anon..?”
  1200. >Looking down at your companion, you shake your head.
  1201. >Immediately, her joy shrinks away.
  1202. “Sorry, Minky, but… how about you guide me while I move it up the stairs instead?”
  1203. >”...Okay..!...I-I’m good at g-guiding, it’s e-easy..!”
  1204. “That you are, you’re the best at it after all.”
  1205. >”...M-mhm…”
  1206. >She heads back in while you figure out how to go about this.
  1207. >Well, for starts, the old bed needs to be moved out.
  1208. >Probably should’ve done that sooner, dumb ass…
  1209. >Oh well, live and learn, right?
  1210. >You head in, up the stairs, and Minky is found standing there awaiting with a look of pure determination.
  1211. >Sadly, that shifts to confusion upon seeing you.
  1212. >”...Where i-s the bed, A-Anon..?”
  1213. “Eh, left it on the porch because I realized that I need to take care of the old one first.”
  1214. >”...O-oh, okay…”
  1215. >She follows you into the spare room, where you start stripping the bedding off.
  1216. “Can you put these in the wash while I take care of this?”
  1217. >”...Of c-course I c-can..!”
  1218. >Taking the pile, she leaves you along to start moving the mattresses.
  1219. >Though work left you sore, you manage to get them out with some effort.
  1220. >When you come back to the room for the frame, you find Minky sitting by the door with a smile.
  1221. “Just got the frame left, shouldn’t take long.”
  1222. >”...M-mhm…”
  1223.  
  1224. >Going to need some tools to take it apart, though.
  1225. >As you go to get the tool box, you stop when you see it next to Minky.
  1226. “Oh hey, thanks. How’d you know I’d need this?”
  1227. >”...Y-you’re welcome, I-I saw that y-you forgot them and k-knew you w-would need i-it…”
  1228. “Ah, of course. I’d probably lose my head if it wasn’t attached.”
  1229. >”...That’s n-not true...I’d f-find it for y-you..!”
  1230. >Some laughter let let loose from her little joke.
  1231. >Gotta admit, that’s a welcome feeling.
  1232. >Thanks to her help, the frame is slowly disassembled piece by piece.
  1233. >Soon enough, it’s time to move your old bed in.
  1234. “Alrighty, let’s get to moving that bed, shall we?”
  1235. >”...M-mhmm..!”
  1236. >She trots back into the hallway while you retrieve it from the porch.
  1237. >Along the way back, she guides you expertly.
  1238. >Honestly, there is no real need for that.
  1239. >But you’d rather let her have fun with it, anyways.
  1240. >Once everything is in the room, you setting things up with some more help from her.
  1241. >That help amounts to her giving you tools while observing the task unfold.
  1242. >It does take some time, but eventually, the old frame is assembled together.
  1243. >After that, you set the mattresses in place, and lay down on it.
  1244. >Although it’s lump, it’s a far greater improvement from that previous hunk of junk.
  1245. >The bed moves a little as Minky climbs up to join you.
  1246. >Looking over, she’s seen attempting to mimic you with how you tend to stare at the ceiling.
  1247. “Comfy?”
  1248. >”...I-it’s a little b-bumpy...”
  1249. “Yeah it is, but that’s because it’s old.”
  1250. >”...Shouldn’t y-you get a-a new one..?”
  1251. “Eventually I will, but this will do for now.”
  1252. >”...M-mhm…”
  1253. >Everything is peaceful for a time, but that comes to an end with a grumble from your stomach.
  1254. >In response, you cough.
  1255. “I-uh… I guess I’m hungry.”
  1256. >She giggles, and turns her head to you with a smile.
  1257. >”...What d-do you me t-to make for y-you..?”
  1258. >That’s pondered for a moment.
  1259. >There really isn’t much in the way of variety here, aside from canned goods and leftovers from the previous days.
  1260.  
  1261. >What really sounds good right about now, is something different, something fresh.
  1262. >At that, an idea comes to mind.
  1263. “How about we go grocery shopping?”
  1264. >Minky sharply gasps, and practically springs up into a standing position.
  1265. >”...Re-really..!?...Can we g-go now..?”
  1266. “Yeah sure, I did say I would take you out, didn’t I?”
  1267. >”...Mhm...Y-you said a ra-rain check..!”
  1268. “That I did, well then, shall we?”
  1269. >She enthusiastically nods before hopping off the bed, and darting out of the room.
  1270. >Wow, she’s acting like she’s never been in a car ride before.
  1271. >Actually, now that it’s been brought up, has she ever been *out* before at all?
  1272. >Well, that answer is about to come soon enough.
  1273. >Grunting, you stand up, and a few joints audibly pop in the process.
  1274. >Departing from your new room, you go downstairs, and grab your keys.
  1275. >Minky is excitedly shifting in place by the front door.
  1276. “You’re certainly thrilled about this, aren’t you?”
  1277. >”...O-of course I-I am..!...I’ve never left th-the property be-before..!”
  1278. >There you go, the answer.
  1279. >It’s kind of strange that uncle never took out her for a ride at least.
  1280. >Perhaps he was too concerned about her general safety, though.
  1281. >But shouldn’t you be as well?
  1282. >No, everything will turn out fine.
  1283. >The house is locked up as you exit, and you walk over to the car with Minky.
  1284. >She races over to the passenger side; awaiting you to open it.
  1285. >Once done however, she’s oddly hesitant in entering.
  1286. >That’s likely because she’s never been in a car before.
  1287. >You reach down and help her in, then put the seatbelt around her.
  1288. >”...Wh-what’s this f-for..?”
  1289. “It’s a seatbelt, it’s to keep you safe in case of an accident.”
  1290. >”...Oh c-cool..!”
  1291. >You nod in agreement, then join her shortly thereafter.
  1292. >As you start the car, and pull out of the driveway, she briefly looks afraid.
  1293. >That quickly shifts into wide eyed wonder with her frequently looking around at the passing scenery.
  1294.  
  1295. >Normally, some music would be put on, but you’re content to listen to Minky’s oos and awes instead.
  1296. >Her excitement grows further once the main road is reached.
  1297. >”...Th-there’s so many c-cars, A-Anon..!...Everyone s-seems to be in a-a hurry...Are th-they going t-to store like u-us..?”
  1298. “Some people are, but others are going to work, vacation, or even visiting someone else for one reason or another.”
  1299. >”...Oh w-wow..!...I didn’t kn-know so many people c-could be so ac-active…”
  1300. “Yeah, that’s pretty normal for the average person, they often travel a lot.”
  1301. >The rest of the drive is filled with her still bursting at the seams with excitement.
  1302. >That begins to calm upon reaching the store, and you pull into the parking lot.
  1303. “Well, this is it.”
  1304. >”...S-so is this w-where all f-food comes from..?”
  1305. “Kinda, it’s more like the place where they sell food that the farms produce.”
  1306. >”...B-but why don’t th-the farmers sell i-it themselves..?”
  1307. “That’s because there are many grocery stores, and each can sell it to a larger audience that the farmers wouldn’t be able to.”
  1308. >”...Oh, I-I see n-now…”
  1309. >A spot is found not too far from the entrance, and you park the car.
  1310. >Now that you think about it. You probably should get a cart for her to ride in, if only to be on the safer side.
  1311. “Sit tight, I’m gonna go grab us a cart.”
  1312. >”...O-okay…”
  1313. >One is found nearby, and you bring it around to her side.
  1314. >You unbuckle her seatbelt, then lift her from the seat into the cart.
  1315. >”...Wh-why am I r-riding in here, A-Anon, can’t I-I walk alongside y-you..?”
  1316. “Honestly, it’s more for your safety than anything. Besides, it’s more fun to ride in it rather than push it.”
  1317. >She gives the car a once-over before nodding, seemingly satisfied with it.
  1318. >Now that is sorted, you start pushing her, which returns her giddiness.
  1319.  
  1320. >Some people are coming in and out of the store, with the majority going about their day.
  1321. >Though a few do notice the two of you approaching.
  1322. >Whatever expression they have is ignored in favor of going on.
  1323. >As you pass through the automatic door, the fan blows down, which draws a giggle out of Minky.
  1324. >That in turn, makes you grin a little.
  1325. >Yet while walking along, there comes a realization of how a list wasn’t made.
  1326. >It’s hardly a real problem, though.
  1327. >After all, it’s not like it’s difficult to shop for food.
  1328. >Start with the basics, then go from there, easy.
  1329. >”...A-Anon..?”
  1330. “Hm?”
  1331. >You look down and see Minky looking up at you with a smile.
  1332. >”...Can I-I see the list o-on what to g-get..?”
  1333. “Heh, funny you say that, I just realized that I never made one.”
  1334. >”...O-okay, well, I-I have some s-suggestions if y-you want to hear th-them..?”
  1335. “Yeah sure, I’m all ears.”
  1336. >Nodding, her eyes flicker a few times before she starts.
  1337. >”...Fresh v-vegetables and fr-fruits, but not frozen n-nor canned...More sp-specifically-”
  1338. >As she lists off various foods, you realize that you should have seen seen this coming.
  1339. >Still, it didn’t hurt to listen to.
  1340. >But she keeps going on, so you probably should stop her before she lasts all day.
  1341. “Hold up, pause for a second, Minky.”
  1342. >Suddenly stopping, she blinks a few times as she tilts her head.
  1343. >”...I-Is something wrong..?”
  1344. “No, not really, it was just a lot to take in. But I do get your point: buy healthy foods.”
  1345. >”...Oh, s-sorry about that...B-but they really ar-are better for you..!”
  1346. “It’s alright. Just for future reference, though: a few suggestions would’ve been enough. You’re still right that I should buy smart regardless of that.”
  1347. >Her expression brightens form the praise, and she goes back to looking around while you enter an aisle.
  1348. >A few things are grabbed here and there, but with each item, more and more people are taking notice of you two.
  1349. >Most look genuinely curious, probably because they’ve never seen a companion droid in public.
  1350.  
  1351. >There are few glares seen, which isn’t surprising, as there of course there would be those bothered by her.
  1352. >They likely buy into the whole companion droids being dangerous crap.
  1353. >The looks are ignored in favor of continuing on casually.
  1354. >Some fresh veggies are grabbed like she suggested.
  1355. >Up comes the frozen section, so you grab a few packages of meat and go to set them in, but notice something.
  1356. >For whatever reason, Minky is huddled up near the back.
  1357. “Hey, are you all right?”
  1358. >”...I-I didn’t realize th-there was this m-many people here...It’s k-kind of s-scary…”
  1359. >Her voice is much more quiet than usual.
  1360. >That’s a little concerning…
  1361. “This is pretty normal for a store, but it will be alright soon. Just gotta pay for everything, then we can go home.”
  1362. >Instead of reply, she nods silently.
  1363. >Great, she’s clearly overwhelmed by this.
  1364. >Maybe next time you should introduce her to a smaller group of people instead.
  1365. >Can’t change that now, what’s done is done.
  1366. >In haste, you make your way to checkout, and find the lines thankfully short.
  1367. >All the while, Minky remains quiet and still huddled down.
  1368. >Before long, you’re up next, and you start putting your things for the cashier to scan.
  1369. >While scanning, the cashier notices Minky.
  1370. >”Well, what do we have here, is that one of those companion droids?”
  1371. “Yeah she is, she’s a very special model.”
  1372. >”Oh really? How much did you pay for the thing?”
  1373. >A deep frown crosses your lips as you starting putting the bags away.
  1374. “I didn’t pay anything for her, she was given to me by my uncle.”
  1375. >”Huh, must’ve paid quite a lot for it then. Especially since the normal ones cost so much.”
  1376. >You grit your teeth to fight back the slowly growing anger.
  1377. “She is normal, just different.”
  1378. >The cashier gives you a weird look, but shrugs it off, and finishes scanning the items.
  1379. >Nothing more is said as you pay, then start pushing the car outside.
  1380. >The moment the car is reached, you check on Minky.
  1381.  
  1382. >She’s exactly the same like before: still clearly frightened.
  1383. >Letting out a sigh, you reach out, and gently pet head.
  1384. >She jolts for a brief second, but slowly calms down.
  1385. “It’s alright, Minky. I’m gonna load up the car, then we can head back home.”
  1386. >She mumbles something.
  1387. “Sorry, didn’t quite catch that.”
  1388. >”...I-I said I’m s-sorry…”
  1389. “You don’t have to be, you’re understandably overwhelmed is all.”
  1390. >”...Mhm…”
  1391. “Tell you what, when we get back home, we can watch more My Little Pony together. Sound good?”
  1392. >Sitting up slowly, she nods with her bangs obscuring some of her face.
  1393. >With practiced speed, you take care of the groceries, and help her into her seat.
  1394. >Shortly after, you’re back in the car, departing from the parking lot.
  1395. >On the drive back home, she’s occasionally glanced at.
  1396. >Her eyes are glued to the floor, but otherwise still completely silent.
  1397. >Really do not like seeing her depressed like this.
  1398. >Hopefully, that will pass soon.
  1399. >It isn’t much longer that you’re pulling into the driveway, with dusk starting to settle in.
  1400. “Here we are, back at home.”
  1401. >”...M-mhm…”
  1402. “Hey, it’s alright that you were afraid. When I was little, I was afraid of being around lot of people, too.”
  1403. >She finally looks to you, though half of her face is still covered by her bangs.
  1404. >”...You w-were..?”
  1405. “Yes I was, I eventually got used to it. Very slowly of course, but I managed.”
  1406. >”...Oh…D-do you th-think I will t-too..?”
  1407. “I’m certain you will in time. For now, though, wanna help me bring the groceries in?”
  1408. >”...O-of course I-I do...I still n-need to make y-you something t-to eat as w-well, then we h-have more e-episodes to watch..!”
  1409. “Yeah I almost forgot about supper, didn’t I?”
  1410. >There appears her smiles, and she nods.
  1411. >While bringing the food in, there is one thing repeating itself inside your mind.
  1412. >You must always protect her smile, no matter what.
  1413.  
  1414. ***
  1415.  
  1416. >”...Um, A-Anon..?”
  1417. “Hm?”
  1418. >”...What ar-are you b-building..?”
  1419. “It’s not finished yet, you’ll see soon enough.”
  1420. >”...N-no, I get th-that...It’s just w-when you’ve b-built other things, I-I could usually tell w-what they w-were early on…”
  1421. “Oh, well, this one is a little more complicated than the rest. Just gotta wait and see when it’s finished.”
  1422. >”...O-okay, I’m s-sorry for being so im-impatient…”
  1423. “It’s cool, I don’t blame you for being a bit bored from watching me and not doing anything.”
  1424. >”...N-no, I’m not b-bored...”
  1425. “You sure about that?”
  1426. >The inventory is opened, and a few different blocks are taken to hopefully break up the mostly solid mass of color that is your building.
  1427. >”...Mhm...I-I’m just c-curious as to w-what it is, t-that’s all…”
  1428. >Grinning, you decide to add an ominous tone to your response.
  1429. “Soon, Minky, soon…”
  1430. >From the corner of your eye, she briefly knits her brows together as she looks at you.
  1431. >Her expression softens, and she turns her attention back to the game.
  1432. >Although it is pretty fun to have her watch on like this, it would be better if should play, too.
  1433. >You still need to finishing figuring out how to get her to be able to do that, though.
  1434. >There was quite a bit to read, with much more left before you called it quits.
  1435. >Continuing to build, Minky can be heard shuffling in her seat.
  1436. >What else could be added to your build?
  1437. >Maybe-
  1438. >”...A-Anon..?”
  1439. “Yeah?”
  1440. >”...I-I know y-you’re not done y-yet, but is whatever i-it is that you’re b-building supposed to ob-oblong to o-one side like th-that..?”
  1441. “Wait what, is it really?
  1442. >”...Mhm...I-it’s on th-the right side, s-see..?”
  1443. >Squinting hard as you fly around, you’re having a hard time seeing this *apparent* odd shape.
  1444. “No I don’t. Are you sure that it’s off?”
  1445. >”...M-mhmm…”
  1446. >Giving it another once-over, there is still nothing seen out of place.
  1447. “Sure you’re not seeing things?”
  1448. >Minky giggles, then gets up from her spot, and walks over to the TV.
  1449. >”...Here, l-let me show y-you…”
  1450.  
  1451. >Pulling back from the structure, you give her a full view of the entire building.
  1452. >Almost immediately after, she points to one side with her hoof.
  1453. >”...There, n-now do y-you s-see..?”
  1454. “Huh, well, now I do. Don’t know how I managed to miss that. Thanks.”
  1455. >Nodding with a proud smile, she trots back to the couch.
  1456. >How should you even fix this, or should you even try to?
  1457. >”...Maybe y-you should t-try to plan i-it out before you b-build..?...That w-way you could build w-without worry…”
  1458. “Suppose I could, but sometimes I like to just throw myself at building and see what comes of it. Might make something cool, ya know?”
  1459. >”...Y-yes I d-do, it’s like how I-I make my ar-art…”
  1460. “Exactly, you never know what could come of it.”
  1461. >”...Mhm…”
  1462. >Aw screw it, just leave the building as is. It give the thing more character, anyways.
  1463. >Once more, building continues, and again, she starts shuffling in her seat.
  1464. >She’s not uncomfortable, is she?
  1465. >Doubt that, she would’ve said something by now.
  1466. >Maybe something else is on her mind?
  1467. >”...A-Anon..?”
  1468. >Yep, called it.
  1469. “Hm?”
  1470. >”...D-do you d-dream..?”
  1471. “Sometimes, usually don’t remember much, though.”
  1472. >”...Wh-what kind of d-dreams..?...Are th-they good..?”
  1473. “Usually random nonsense, sometimes its memories, but it’s almost always different.”
  1474. >”...Oh, did y-you dream last n-night..?”
  1475. “Um… yeah, yeah I’m pretty sure I did.”
  1476. >”...C-could you tell m-me about it..?”
  1477. >The controller is set aside for the time being as you attempt to recall.
  1478. >However, as you wrack your brain in thought, everything is coming up short.
  1479. >It shouldn’t be that hard right?
  1480. >Come on, it was just last night after all.
  1481. >Er…
  1482. >Seriously?
  1483. >Hey, it’s not like you keep track of them.
  1484. >Perhaps that should be changed soon.
  1485. “Let’s see… hmm… oh! Now I remember: I was fighting against Plant 42 in the Spencer Mansion.”
  1486. >Her eyes widen very quickly, along with a deep look of concern that cross her face.
  1487. >”...W-what, why..?!...Why w-were you f-fighting a p-plant..?”
  1488. “Tried to tell you that they can be random, but in this case, it’s probably because it’s one of my favorite games.”
  1489.  
  1490. >”...O-oh well, I guess I-I understand n-now...What’s the g-game called then..?”
  1491. “Resident Evil.”
  1492. >”...R-Resident Evil..?...Th-that sounds like a-a scary game...C-couldn’t you t-two have talked i-it out in-instead of fighting..?”
  1493. >A large smile comes about from her innocence.
  1494. >However, rather just spare her the details instead of telling her all about it, at least for now.
  1495. “The game can be quite frightening when you first play it. As for the fight, you aren’t giving a choice in the matter; it attacks you with almost no warning, and doesn’t seem capable, nor interested in chatting either.”
  1496. >Several emotions come and go from her face as her eyes start to flicker.
  1497. >”...B-but there is a-always a w-way to talk th-things out, there h-has to be..!...I-it s-sounds un-unfair that t-there i-isn’t..!”
  1498. >With her stutter worsening, the internal humming within her begins to grow in volume.
  1499. >Don’t like that at all.
  1500. >Whatever this may be, it’s time to nip it in the bud before it becomes a possible serious problem.
  1501. “Hey, easy now, it’s just a game.”
  1502. >”...B-but, A-Anon..!”
  1503. “Calm down, you don’t need to get worked up over it.”
  1504. >Reaching over, you gently start petting in an attempt to soothe concerned little pony.
  1505. >She goes to speak, but stops and instead, nods.
  1506. >As the petting goes on, her eyes slowly flicker less, and the humming returns to normal.
  1507. >”...I-I’m sorry, A-Anon, I didn’t m-mean to do th-that…”
  1508. “It’s fine, just try to remember not to let it get to you, okay?”
  1509. >She lets out a small sigh, and adopts a smile again.
  1510. >”...Mhmm…”
  1511. >Her eyes go to the screen, then back to you before she talks once more.
  1512. >”...Th-there should s-still be a g-game where y-you can t-talk things out, ra-rather than f-fighting...Are th-there games l-like that..?”
  1513. >Instantly, several games to come mind from that question.
  1514. “Oh yeah there is, loads of em. How about I show you some later?”
  1515. >Nodding, her smile quickly broadens.
  1516. >Now that there is assurance that she’s calmed down, you stop petting her, and give her mane a few pats before going back to the game.
  1517.  
  1518. >The building is mostly finished, so some plants and trees are added in to breath more life into it.
  1519. >While flying around your creation, it doesn’t look too shabby.
  1520. >Heck, it might even be among the best things you’ve made.
  1521. >Still, a second opinion is needed.
  1522. >The entire building is brought into full view, and you look over to Minky.
  1523. >She not only looks more content, but she is clearly calmer as she watches the screen in fascination.
  1524. “So it’s finally finished, can you tell what it is now?”
  1525. >”...C-can you fly a-around, so I-I can see th-the whole th-thing..?”
  1526. “Sure can.”
  1527. >Slowly moving about the entire thing, you try to show each angle for her to really see it in its complete glory.
  1528. >She tilts her head to and fro, carefully studying it.
  1529. >Blinking a few times, she nods for you to stop, then turns to you with a smile.
  1530. >”...I-is it s-supposed to be a-a giant t-tree house..?”
  1531. “Uh, actually, it’s a castle…”
  1532. >Her eyes briefly shoot to the screen before back to you with slight scrunch on her muzzle.
  1533. >”...Oh..!...Um, n-now I see i-it...It’s v-very nice, A-Anon…”
  1534. >Not sure what’s worse, your crappy building, or her look of pity.
  1535. >Well, at least it’s not a damn dirt house.
  1536. >Maybe it can be fixed to make it actually resemble a castle?
  1537. >Before that can even be attempted, nature calls.
  1538. >Letting out a small grunt as you stand, you gently rub your lower back.
  1539. “Be right back, gonna use the bathroom.”
  1540. >”...O-okay, I’ll be r-right here waiting…”
  1541. >Nodding, you head off upstairs, and start doing your business.
  1542. >Though while doing so, a question comes to mind.
  1543. >Can Minky dream like you?
  1544. >Maybe?
  1545. >It’s certain that she’s capable of imagining things.
  1546. >Then there’s the fact that she has hobbies, favorite books, and even favorite shows, too.
  1547. >So maybe, just maybe it’s possible?
  1548. >As that thought is pondered further, some movement catches your attention.
  1549. >Glancing over, there is a /very/ large brown spider crawling up the wall just next to you.
  1550. >Of course, you don’t totally scream like a scared bitch and nearly piss just about everywhere.
  1551. >Because you’re a big, strong man, right?
  1552.  
  1553. “JESUS FUCKING CHRIST!”
  1554. >Yeah no, lady luck is not on your side.
  1555. >Instinctively, you backpedal into the wall, and in the process, make one hell of a mess.
  1556. “Oh for fuck’s sake!”
  1557. >Frustration starts to overtake you when a series of quick knocks come from the door.
  1558. >”...A-Anon..?!...What’s g-going on i-in there, is everything o-okay..?!”
  1559. >Wow, she got up here fast.
  1560. >Shaking your head, you utter a small groan.
  1561. “...god fucking dammit… Everything is fine! Don’t worry about it, I just got spooked, that’s all.”
  1562. >”...A-are you s-sure you’re okay..?...Wh-what was it..?”
  1563. “I’ll tell you later, everything is fine...’cept the fact I pissed just about everywhere…”
  1564. >”...What w-was that l-last part..?”
  1565. “N-nothing! Just go back down stairs, I’ll be back down soon. Got to take care of a few things.”
  1566. >...Are y-you positive, A-Anon..?...I can c-come in and h-help if y-you want…”
  1567. “NO! I mean, no, Minky, everything is okay. Go read a book or something in the meantime, okay?”
  1568. >”...O-oh okay…”
  1569. >Hearing her depart, you breath out a sigh of relief.
  1570. >That would’ve been awkward as fuck.
  1571. >Frustration returns in full as realization takes hold once more.
  1572. “Fan-fucking-tastic… where is that little shit?”
  1573. >Looking around, the spider is spotted about halfway up the wall, though clearly unaffected by the outburst just made.
  1574. >A righteous fury blooms from within, so you grab a bottle of shampoo, then turn to the little monster.
  1575. >Normally, there is zero fucks given about spiders, but this one scared you into doing stupid shit.
  1576. “Payback, motherfucker.”
  1577. >Gritting your teeth, you violently swing the bottle into it repeatedly.
  1578. >After several hits, it’s nothing more than a messy pulp on the wall.
  1579. >Stopping, there a sense of satisfaction given, though you’re still shaking from the adrenaline.
  1580. “Serves you right, bitch.”
  1581. >Nicely done, just one small problem, Anon.
  1582. >What brain?
  1583. >You still got to clean all this and yourself up.
  1584. >Right…
  1585.  
  1586. >You open the door, then peek out.
  1587. >The coast is clear, so you sneak out to grab some clothes, and get to work on cleaning up the mess made.
  1588. >Some grumbling and several minutes later, it’s better for the most part.
  1589. >Except for the brain stain the wall, but that can be taken care of another time.
  1590. >For now however, a shower is needed.
  1591. >Feeling refreshed, and in a new set of clothes, you go back downstairs.
  1592. >But when you enter the living room, you find Minky curiously poking around the controller.
  1593. >From what little is seen, she’s apparently trying to figure out how it works.
  1594. >Got a bit of an idea…
  1595. >Smiling, you quietly walk up just mere feet from behind her.
  1596. “Pretty neat isn’t it?”
  1597. >She loudly yelps, then spins around with a wide eyed look of surprise.
  1598. >”...I-I wasn’t d-doing anything..!”
  1599. >At that, an avoidable laugh is let loose from catching her like this.
  1600. >Her muzzle scrunches into a deep frown, and she shoots a glare your way/
  1601. >”...I-it’s not f-funny, A-Anon, you scared m-me…”
  1602. “Sorry, just the look on your face got me going. But seriously, it’s alright that you’re curious about the controller.”
  1603. >She slowly relaxes, then nods.
  1604. >”...I g-guess so...B-but what s-scared you i-in the bathroom..?”
  1605. “Yeah about that… a spider startled me while I was using it.”
  1606. >”...B-but then w-why did I hear p-pounding..?”
  1607. “Took care of the spider, then I had to clean up the bathroom.”
  1608. >”...But w-why did y-you have to c-clean up the b-bathroom..?”
  1609. >Can’t help but cough, and avert your gaze elsewhere.
  1610. “When I got spooked, I made a mess of it.”
  1611. >”...Oh, o-okay then…”
  1612. >Looking back to her, she’s now sporting a reassuring smile, and hops back onto the couch.
  1613. >All other feelings of embarrassment are shaken off as you retake your seat, then start playing again.
  1614. >You begin to modify your building to actually resemble a castle.
  1615. >Though while doing so, the question from earlier surfaces.
  1616. “So, Minky, do you dream?”
  1617. >Pausing, you turn to her.
  1618. >She’s staring the screen, seemingly unmoving otherwise.
  1619. >Briefly, her eyes flicker, and her lips curl into a small frown.
  1620.  
  1621. >”...N-no, I’m in-incapable of it...I-I’d like t-to experience it, th-though...It s-sounds fun…”
  1622. >Should’ve seen that coming honestly.
  1623. >Because regardless of what is thought, Minky is still very much a companion droid.
  1624. >Wait, hold on, that begs another question.
  1625. “Well, how about when you’re shut down, isn’t that like sleeping, or is it different?”
  1626. >Her expression almost deadpans at your query.
  1627. >For a moment, she sits there quietly.
  1628. >Alright, that was likely a bad question, good going, genius.
  1629. “You know what, how about we just go back to the game and pretend nothing happened?”
  1630. >She shifts in her seat, and and shakes her head as she continues on.
  1631. >”...No, i-it’s fine...W-when I am s-shut down, everything g-goes dark for a-a second or t-two...Then everything c-comes back o-on, like nothing ha-happened...It c-can be j-jarring and scary w-when that happens, b-but I’ve gotten u-used to it…”
  1632. >That sounds… awful; not knowing if you’re ever going to wake up again.
  1633. >Isn’t that the same as you, or rather, anyone else thinks, anyways?
  1634. >Not everyone, no, as most people know that they will wake up after going to sleep.
  1635. >She however, does not.
  1636. “I’m sorry for asking, that sounds pretty bad. I can’t imagine what it’s like.”
  1637. >Minky suddenly jolts, then snaps to you shaking her head quickly with her usual serene smile.
  1638. >”...N-no it’s o-okay, it’s really n-not as b-bad as it s-sounds…”
  1639. “Are you sure about that? Because it really does.”
  1640. >”...Mhm, w-when you p-power me down, I-I know y-you’ll be there waiting f-for me w-when I come b-back online...A-and when I-I do come b-back, I s-see you there, th-then everything i-is better again…”
  1641. >That… that was unexpected.
  1642. >Feeling… stunned?
  1643. >Yeah, stunned fits about right.
  1644. >”...A-Anon..?”
  1645. >How do you react to this properly?
  1646. >Numerous emotions course throughout in an attempt to process the answer.
  1647. >Though as that happens, something nudges your arm, thus breaking you free from it.
  1648.  
  1649. >Looking down, Minky is sitting closer, and is gently prodding your arm with her hoof.
  1650. >Those wide purple eyes of hers are full of fear as she keeps doing her best to help.
  1651. >”...P-please talk, A-Anon...Did I-I say s-something wrong..?”
  1652. >Blinking, your vision is a little misty.
  1653. >You turn your head away, then dry your eyes with a sleeve.
  1654. “N-no, you said nothing wrong, Minky.”
  1655. >A lump is swallowed down, and you turn back to her with a smile.
  1656. >”...Ar-are you s-sure..?...You d-don’t look a-all right…”
  1657. >Reaching over, you wrap your arms around her in a big hug.
  1658. >She gasps, and freezes up from the sudden burst of affection.
  1659. >You’ve held Minky close before, but only now do you notice that she smells like fresh laundry.
  1660. >She shifts slightly she attempts to return the hug, seemingly content again.
  1661. >”...Um, A-Anon...Not th-that I d-don’t mind this, b-but is e-everything okay..?”
  1662. >Her words are filled with concern, and as you try to answer, it dies in your throat.
  1663. >Dammit, don’t lose it now, be strong.
  1664. >Easier said than done, though.
  1665. >This fight against those emotions has been going on for weeks now.
  1666. >But even so, you can’t let go, not yet.
  1667. >They’re shoved back down to where they belong, then you slowly exhale.
  1668. >Focus comes back as you pull out of the hug, and try to find your voice again.
  1669. “Everything is fine, just… thanks for saying that.”
  1670. >Her eyes search your face for a moment, then she smiles and nods.
  1671. >”...O-oh, okay, you’re w-welcome…”
  1672. >Almost all things feel much better, and lighter overall.
  1673. >Turning back to the game, you try to pick up where you left off.
  1674. “So, uh… how should I go about fixing this monstrosity?”
  1675. >”...It’s n-not a m-monstrosity, you just p-put way too m-many plants and w-wooden planks throughout it, so that m-makes it h-harder to s-see what it’s supposed t-to be...Y-you need m-more stone, different k-kinds of materials as well...Like s-stone bricks a-and cobblestone for e-example…”
  1676.  
  1677. >Nodding, the task of cleaning this up starts.
  1678. “All over it, boss.”
  1679. >Minky giggles at your side.
  1680. >”...I’m n-not your b-boss silly…”
  1681. “Fair point, you’re more like, The Boss.”
  1682. >”...The B-boss..?”
  1683. “She’s from another game I like.”
  1684. >”...Oh, i-is it scary..?...W-what’s it c-called..?”
  1685. >Deeply smiling, you recall the all the times that series has been played.
  1686. >From there, you lower your voice as you attempt to do a David Hayter impression.
  1687. “Metal Gear Solid three.”
  1688. >”...That s-sounds odd…”
  1689. “Oh believe me, you don’t know the half of it…”
  1690.  
  1691. ***
  1692.  
  1693. >”...Y-you look bored A-Anon…”
  1694. >A long yawn is uttered as you lean back and rub your eyes.
  1695. “Oh very much so.”
  1696. >”...It c-can’t be all th-that bad, can i-it..?”
  1697. “It’s not, but I’m really not one for all this technical stuff.”
  1698. >”...But w-what about when y-you’re working..?”
  1699. “Big difference, I mostly pick up and put things down, rather than putting numbers on a spread sheet.”
  1700. >A part of you is glad you don’t have a desk job, then again, your lower back says otherwise.
  1701. >”…Y-you pick things u-up and put th-them down..?...What k-kind of j-job is that..?”
  1702. “In short, I work at a warehouse, so mostly moving things around.”
  1703. >”...But don’t th-they have m-machines to help y-you..?”
  1704. “Yeah, for certain things like the larger stuff, but the smaller stuff gets taken care of by guys like myself.”
  1705. >”...O-oh, that explains w-why you look so t-tired when you g-get home…”
  1706. >Nodding, you glance over at her briefly while she colors in her latest drawing.
  1707. >The instructions are turned to again, then reading starts back up.
  1708. >Been doing a whole lot of it.
  1709. >Too much…
  1710. >Most of it is from the books found in the basement, the journal, and of course, the various threads on the forums.
  1711. >It’s not all for nothing, though.
  1712. >There’s been a greater understanding made about companion droids thanks to it.
  1713. >In the case of bootlegs like Minky, they’re not that much different from their factory produced counterparts.
  1714. >Naturally, there is contrasts between the two.
  1715. >Such as how most bootlegs lack standard medical sensors, or how hardware problems are quite common.
  1716. >In spite of those faults, ti’s still an impressive feat that the average Joe could even attempt to build a companion droid.
  1717. >With the last of the paragraph finished, you now understand how updates work.
  1718. >It’s simple: install a cracked/modified program from the main thread, and follow the links provided for whatever updates needed or wanted.
  1719.  
  1720. >They’ve made it easy enough for anyone to do it, even an idiot like you.
  1721. >Feeling some relief, uncle’s journal is turned to for seeing what updates have been kept tracked of.
  1722. >He made some notes that he skipped certain ones.
  1723. >It’s not explained why, though.
  1724. >But then again, it’s not like you understand half the things he did.
  1725. >Setting that aside for the moment, a quick search is done on the computer for the program.
  1726. >Unsurprisingly, it’s already installed.
  1727. “Should’ve figured it would already be on here.”
  1728. >”...W-what was a-already there..?”
  1729. “Huh? Oh right, I was talking about the program for installing your updates.”
  1730. >”...Um, A-Anon...I already kn-knew it was on th-there...You c-could’ve saved t-time by asking m-me...”
  1731. >Yeah, why didn’t you think of that, Anon?
  1732. >Oh hush.
  1733. >Shrugging, you look to her.
  1734. >Minky squints as her voice deadpans.
  1735. >”...A-Anon…”
  1736. “Alright fine, it didn’t occur to me to ask.”
  1737. >She giggles, and covers her mouth with a hoof.
  1738. >”...You c-can be s-silly sometimes…”
  1739. “That’s one way of putting it… but hey! I’m done reading this.”
  1740. >Her eyes briefly flicker to the screen, then back to you with a glimmer.
  1741. >”...O-oh..?...What was it about anyways..?”
  1742. “Instructions on updates, how to install them, and of course using the program for it all.”
  1743. >”...So w-we can get m-me updates then..?”
  1744. “Indeed.”
  1745. >”...That’s w-wonderful to hear..!...I-I haven’t been up-updated in a w-while...”
  1746. >When was the last time Minky was updated anyways?
  1747. >It was right before the two of you had met, so that was then-
  1748. >Oh, oh right…
  1749. >Don’t think about it, not for even one second.
  1750. >Silencing any further thought, you nod back towards the screen.
  1751. “Well, I’m feeling pretty confident about this, so I assume you know how this all works?”
  1752. >She nods with a slight frown.
  1753. >”...Mhm, I-I’ve gotten up-updates before, but I-I have to b-be shutdown w-while they’re in-installed...”
  1754. “Not much we can do about that, there isn’t any other way to do it differently. Besides, this shouldn’t take too long to do.”
  1755.  
  1756. >”…N-no, not exactly...Th-the time a-all depends o-on the amount an-and size of th-the updates, A-Anon...You a-also still n-need to finish the diagnostics from the other day…”
  1757. “Ah sh- I mean, darn it, you’re right. Forgot all about that… so maybe this will take a little longer than expected.”
  1758. >She lets out a tiny gasp as she smiles, and raises a brow.
  1759. >”...Did y-you almost s-swear..?”
  1760. “Wha- no, no of course not.”
  1761. >Her brow raises further while never looking away from you.
  1762. >”...I-I’m certain y-you did…”
  1763. >Crossing your arms, you look elsewhere.
  1764. “I’m thinking you’re hearing things.”
  1765. >”...It’s o-okay...Your u-uncle sometimes s-swore, too, he s-said it was b-bad...He told m-me that I-I should n-never ever do it…”
  1766. >Coughing, you slowly nod in agreement.
  1767. “Yeah he was right about that, it’s a nasty habit to have. But! I did not swear.”
  1768. >She lightly giggles, then pats your leg.
  1769. >”...Ar-are you s-sure about that..?”
  1770. “Positive, but we’re getting off track, what were we talking about?”
  1771. >”...We w-were talking about e-everything taking longer b-because of the u-updates and d-diagnostics…”
  1772. “Right, right, so this will take longer than expected.”
  1773. >”...Mhmm…”
  1774. “Just remember what you told me yesterday, Minky, I’ll be right here waiting when you come back online.”
  1775. >Nodding, her smile broadens.
  1776. >”...I-I know, I h-haven’t forgotten and w-won’t either...”
  1777. “Good to hear, shall we begin then? The sooner, the better after all.”
  1778. >”...Mhm…”
  1779. >She gets up, then goes over to the spot where she is usually charged.
  1780. >Just as you’re about to reach over and power her down, she sharply gasps and steps back.
  1781. >”...W-wait..!”
  1782. “What is it? Did I forget some important detail?”
  1783. >”...No, I a-almost forgot t-to wish you g-good luck…”
  1784. “Had me worried for a second there, but thanks. I do really appreciate it.”
  1785. >”...S-sorry, you’re welcome, A-Anon…”
  1786. >Giving her a smile, you press the power button.
  1787.  
  1788. >That sole piano note echoes for a little while longer after she goes dark.
  1789. >For a short while after, you sit there, staring at her.
  1790. >Despite the numerous times she’s been shut down, it’s still unsettling how lifeless she appears.
  1791. >A long sigh is breath out, and you shake your head as you plug her in.
  1792. >The usual message pops up onto the screen, though is promptly ignored.
  1793. >From there, the program is launched.
  1794. >It loads quickly, and has a simple ui that is displayed before you, with a variety of options listed.
  1795. “Lets see…”
  1796. >One by one, they are looked over before the one labeled “Diagnostics” is selected.
  1797. >A small window pops up with a black background, green text quickly fills it as it scrolls down, showing the process in action.
  1798. “Neat, wonder what any of it says. Then again, it’s probably more technical crap I wouldn’t understand anyways.”
  1799. >You could get up and do something else in the meantime, but you’ll wait around as promised.
  1800. >Pulling out your phone, you decide to check it.
  1801. >There’s the typical message from mom, but there is also a new one, too.
  1802. “What do we have here?”
  1803. >Opening it reveals it to be from one of your old friends, ”Hey man, been a while. How you been? Didn’t get your message till last night, we should catch up. Still need help moving?”
  1804. >The message is reread again, and again.
  1805. >There’s a sense of… relief that comes about.
  1806. >Well, a part of you feels that, but another part is fairly pissed off.
  1807. >It’s been days – nearly a week – since you sent out a message to each of the guys.
  1808. >A frustrated sigh is let go as you look at the reply again.
  1809. “Okay, alright. At least someone finally got back to me.”
  1810. >Some calm breaths within; enough for you to send back a simple response, and a wait begins.
  1811. >Minutes pass by, with no response.
  1812. >He’s probably busy is all.
  1813. >A half hour passes, but still no message back.
  1814. >Just to be sure, you reload your phone.
  1815. >Nothing is there, though.
  1816. >Frowning, the phone is ignored in favor of checking the progress instead.
  1817. >That’s still running, and does not say how long till it will finish.
  1818.  
  1819. “Looks like this will take a while.”
  1820. >Rather than letting boredom settle in, the forums are returned to for a distraction.
  1821. >So many threads, so many different topics from which to choose from.
  1822. >One is entered that has people posting their companion droid and themselves.
  1823. >The pictures are scrolled through, with each being quite heartwarming to see.
  1824. >They all look so happy in every one of them.
  1825. >It’s still pretty damn admirable how dedicated these people are.
  1826. >They invest god knows how much time, money, and effort into their own companion droid.
  1827. >Many of the droids are even modeled after a beloved character.
  1828. >Take for instance this picture of this fellow and his pony; they’re both hugging each other closely with large smiles.
  1829. >It still boggles your mind on how many pony companion droids there are.
  1830. >At least a quarter of these people have them.
  1831. >Hell, they even come in various types, just like in the show.
  1832. >Earth ponies like Minky, pegasus ponies like Rainbow Dash, and even alicorns like Princess Celestia.
  1833. >Funny enough, this guy has one that looks like a pink version of her.
  1834. >You chuckle upon seeing that one.
  1835. “She’s a bit of an eye sore, but at least they look happy together.”
  1836. >While scrolling through some more, a familiar humming draws you away.
  1837. “Huh?”
  1838. >Looking over, Minky is still motionless, and the program is still running in the other window.
  1839. “Uh, Minky, you awake?”
  1840. >When she doesn’t response, you lean closer to be certain that’s her making the noise.
  1841. >There’s no doubt about it, those are her drives doing it.
  1842. >The reasoning behind it dawns on you, and you lightly smack the side of your head.
  1843. “Oh right, duh. It has to check EVERY system of hers while it runs, dumb ass.”
  1844. >Gently shaking your head, you smile, then go back to the thread.
  1845. >Several minutes of browsing later, a notification pops up in the bottom right hand corner stating that the diagnostic is finished.
  1846.  
  1847. “Time to see the damage, hoping for the best.”
  1848. >The log provided is read over, though a slow frown forms as it gone through.
  1849. >Most of her systems are listed as fine, but there are several larger issues.
  1850. >Multiple drive errors, voice modulator errors, missing sensors, actuator errors, and the cooling system errors.
  1851. “Yeah, well… fuck.”
  1852. >Trying to figure this out, you read it again.
  1853. >The sensors are likely referring to the missing medical ones, so that’s not a serious problem.
  1854. >Actuator errors are nothing either, because it’s known that they’re fucked.
  1855. >As for the voice modulator, there’s little idea as to what that’s all about.
  1856. >The biggest concern comes from the drives and the cooling systems.
  1857. >You recall finding replacements for the latter in the basement, so that’s no biggie.
  1858. >But as for the dives, the forums will have to hopefully be referred to for a solution.
  1859. >That will be done now while the updates are running.
  1860. >Checking the link in the thread, and referring the journal, a handful of updates are found to be applied.
  1861. >Just as you’re about to start, you freeze.
  1862. “Shit, I almost forgot the gaming one, but I’ll still need to find her a controller later.”
  1863. >The update is added to the rest needed, and it is started shortly thereafter.
  1864. >Like with the diagnostics, a window pops up with text scrolling down it.
  1865. >Nodding, it is left to run while the search for the errors begins.
  1866. >Fortunately, the forums are quite active, even more so because some answers are found right away.
  1867. >Not the kind you’re hoping for, though…
  1868. >According to one guy, you’ll likely have to replace both the drives and the voice modulator.
  1869. “Oh come the fuck on…”
  1870. >Groaning, you sit back and look over at Minky.
  1871. >While there may be a replacement for the modulator, there are definitely no spare drives.
  1872. >Which only means one thing.
  1873. “I’ll have to buy them. That’s just… fucking wonderful!”
  1874.  
  1875. >Sadly, that cannot be done, because you’re already pushing it after buying those new motors for her.
  1876. >It’s very clear now why it appeared like uncle was half-assing this.
  1877. >New problems seem to appear one after another all the time.
  1878. >You’re not sure what to do about this either!
  1879. >You can’t just sit here, though.
  1880. >Going back to the forums again, you start asking around for help about this.
  1881. >An eternity goes by before someone finally replies.
  1882. >The two of you go back and forth for a bit before he gives you some good news at long last.
  1883. >The drive errors are not immediately serious, so replacing them can be held off for the time being.
  1884. >However, you’ll absolutely need to keep a close eye on Minky, and perform daily system checks to ensure that nothing new springs up.
  1885. >Your body relaxes as you release a breath you didn’t know you were holding in.
  1886. >You lazily slouch, and stifle a laugh while staring up at the ceiling.
  1887. “Why do I do this to myself?”
  1888. >Already know the answer to that.
  1889. >Glancing back to the screen, a message is there confirming that the updates were successful installed.
  1890. >Really grateful for that, because you’re not sure how much more of this you could take.
  1891. >Minky is unplugged, then you press the power button.
  1892. >The little sound that plays is so sweet to hear in this moment of time.
  1893. >Like before, her body briefly spasms, and her light up, then look around before setting on you.
  1894. >”...Hello, A-Anon, how long d-did everything take..?”
  1895. “Welcome back, Minky, it took WAY too long.”
  1896. >”...T-told you it w-would…”
  1897. >Smiling, you lightly chuckle.
  1898. “Yeah you did, didn’t you?”
  1899. >She shifts in place a moment.
  1900. >”...I d-detect new s-software and up-updates installed, but h-how did the d-diagnostic go..?”
  1901. >Honestly, you really don’t want to tell her the truth.
  1902. >Leaning back as a sigh is breathed out, you look to the screen, then back to her.
  1903. >She’s awaiting the answer patiently.
  1904. >Slowly, you run a hand over your face before giving her what she wants.
  1905.  
  1906. “Not as well as I had hoped.”
  1907. >”...C-can you be m-more specific..?”
  1908. “Ignoring the easily fixable stuff, you have multiple drive and voice modulator errors.”
  1909. >Staying silent for a minute or so, her eyes flicker while processing all of this.
  1910. >”...I-is that a-all, can they b-be fixed..?”
  1911. >Can’t help but balk at her calmness for a few seconds.
  1912. >Soon enough, you nod slowly.
  1913. “Well, yes, yes I can. But I’m short on funds at the moment to get you the parts needed.”
  1914. >”...Oh, I-I see…”
  1915. >As she says that, she sits down on her haunches, with her form slouching a tad.
  1916. “Hey, it’s not all that bad, there is some good news.”
  1917. >Though she says nothing, her curious expression speaks enough.
  1918. “I asked around the forums, and from what I was told, I just have to keep a close eye on you and perform daily system checks.”
  1919. >”...But w-what about if it w-worsens, what th-then..?”
  1920. >She really has a good point there.
  1921. >How would you even handle it either?
  1922. >You’re unsure as to how to answer both questions.
  1923. >Shaking out of your reverie, you lean forward and gently pet her mane.
  1924. >Her eyes follow your hand, then close as she leans into your touch.
  1925. >Letting out a small sigh, you smile.
  1926. “I’m gonna be honest with you, I’m not completely sure. We’ll cross that bridge if it comes to it. For now, we’ll play it safe like I was suggested to.”
  1927. >She smiles as she softly nods.
  1928. >”...Okay, i-if you s-say so, A-Anon...I t-trust you…”
  1929. >After a little bit, you stop petting her, then give a few pats before leaning back again.
  1930. “I gotta say, this whole updating thing, was a lot more than I expected.”
  1931. >Her eyes reopen, and she giggles.
  1932. >”...I-I tried to w-warn you…”
  1933. “Yeah you did, but I didn’t expect it to be this much of a hassle.”
  1934. >”...Mhm…”
  1935. >Right now, there’s a slight itch that needs to be scratched.
  1936. “As much as I like sitting here talking with you, how about I show you another game of mine?”
  1937. >”...Of c-course..!”
  1938.  
  1939. >Rising from the chair, you give a light stretch, and a few joints audibly pop.
  1940. >As the two of you go to leave, you pause at the door with an idea in mind.
  1941. >Bowing slightly, you wave your hand through the doorway, along with a simple posh accent.
  1942. “After you madam.”
  1943. >Briefly, she looks confused, but that melts as she realizes what’s going on.
  1944. >She releases a small gasp, then giggles as she walks by with a light hop in her step.
  1945. >”...S-such a gentleman…”
  1946. “But of course.”
  1947. >That’s all it takes for the facade to fall apart, and for you to laugh as you follow after her to prepare for another long night of gaming.
  1948.  
  1949. ***
  1950.  
  1951. “Alright, what about this one?”
  1952. >”...What’s i-it called..?...I-I can’t s-see it…”
  1953. “Oh right, sorry, it’s um… Treasure Island.”
  1954. >”...S-sounds interesting, I-I’ll read i-it sometime…”
  1955. “Then it joins it’s brothers and sisters in the pile.”
  1956. >The book is set in the slowly growing stack that she has picked out so far.
  1957. >The both of you have been hard at working sorting through the things in uncle’s room.
  1958. >You swore to yourself that you would tackle this, and now here you are.
  1959. >Minky is currently going through the odds and ends, while you deal with the books and such on the higher shelves.
  1960. >As another tome is grabbed, you read aloud the title for her.
  1961. “...War and Peace, seriously?”
  1962. >”...H-he said he liked th-that one…”
  1963. “I’m not doubting that, but it feels almost like a cliché to own it.”
  1964. >”...How i-is it a c-cliché..?”
  1965. “Okay so, in a lot of books I’ve read and movies I’ve seen, there is almost always someone that has it their possession.”
  1966. >”...A-Anon, this i-isn’t a movie o-or a book…”
  1967. “True, though sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.”
  1968. >”...I-if you s-say so…”
  1969. “Either way, it’s usually the book some big brained guy has.”
  1970. >”...S-so your uncle w-was one of th-those really smart p-people..?”
  1971. “Probably, he had more brains than me, that’s for sure.”
  1972. >”...A-Anon, you’re n-not dumb…”
  1973. “Twas just a joke I swear, but seriously, do want to keep this?”
  1974. >”...No, i-it can g-go with the r-rest…”
  1975. >Figures she would say that, it is quite a serious novel to read.
  1976. >It’s added to one of the partially filled totes that has stuff that will be donated later on.
  1977. >This was a struggle to do when it first began.
  1978. >In all honesty, if Minky it wasn’t for Minky being here, you doubt you could’ve handle this at all.
  1979. >Well, except for the bed, that was more of an annoyance to deal with.
  1980. >Though all these damn books that keep cropping up might be a contender for that.
  1981. >Another shelf is finished off…
  1982. >...or so you think.
  1983.  
  1984. >Because lo and behold, there is another row behind the previous.
  1985. >Did uncle really have to own a small library?
  1986. >It certainly feels like there is a never ending supply of books to go through.
  1987. >Shaking your head, a familiar series is found, and it’s already clear as to what to do with them.
  1988. >After setting them in the pile, Minky pipes up.
  1989. >”...W-wait, you didn’t s-show or tell me w-what those were…”
  1990. “It’s the Harry Potter series, I’m pretty sure you’ll read them.”
  1991. >”...Oh th-those...I’d l-like to e-eventually read them…”
  1992. “See? Knew you would, I know you well enough by now.”
  1993. >”...M-mhmm…”
  1994. >Working your neck a moment, you briefly glance at her, and see that she’s got her attention on an open book.
  1995. >Looks like she finished what she had, so there wasn’t much else for her to do at the moment.
  1996. >You give the room a once-over to see what’s left.
  1997. >More books (of course), the clothes, and various bobbles are around.
  1998. >Although she could deal with some of those, you’d like to have your complete attention for them.
  1999. >At the very least, the two of you have made a dent so far.
  2000. >Starting to feel certain this will be finished by day’s end, and hopefully, that will will happen.
  2001. >Rather not let this linger…
  2002. >Back to the shelf again, some stuff that uncle collected is discovered – baseball cards, a baseball, a catchers mitt, and some scifi stuff.
  2003. >While you’ve never collected such things, something about them draw upon the well of memories.
  2004. >It’s those times where you were younger, more naive.
  2005. >Like how dad tried hard to get you into sports over playing video games so much.
  2006. >Then there were the times you’d go over to a friend’s house.
  2007. >Those were the days of being invincible, of feeling like any and everything could be done.
  2008. >Shit, where did all that time go?
  2009. >Feels like it was just yesterday...
  2010. >”...A-Anon..?”
  2011. >Snapped out of the reminiscing, you turn your attention to Minky.
  2012.  
  2013. “Yeah sup?”
  2014. >”...Are y-you okay..?...You l-look k-kinda sad…”
  2015. “I do?”
  2016. >”...Mhmm…”
  2017. >Shaking your head, you adopt a smile for her.
  2018. “What? No, I’m fine, just spacing out is all out.”
  2019. >”...A-are you sure a-about that..?”
  2020. “Yeah of course! You doubt my sureness?”
  2021. >Striking a heroic pose, you puff out your chest for emphasis.
  2022. >Minky tries not to laugh, and shakes her head.
  2023. >”...No I-I don’t doubt i-it, but you m-might need a b-break...”
  2024. “A break?”
  2025. >”...Mhm…This i-is a lot of th-things to g-go through…”
  2026. >How long have you two been at this?
  2027. >Since you got home, right?
  2028. >Er…
  2029. >Okay, so you’re not entirely sure.
  2030. >That’s only because your left your phone downstairs and there are no active clocks in here at the moment.
  2031. >One thing is certain: it’s been long enough to lost track of time again.
  2032. >There is still plenty left to go through, but maybe you both need a distraction for just a bit.
  2033. “Yeah okay, a break sounds good, Boss.”
  2034. >”...S-so what do y-you want to d-do..?”
  2035. >Your gaze wanders the room a moment as you try to figure out what sounds appealing.
  2036. >Gaming? Nah, that’s been done loads recently.
  2037. >Plus the last thing you want is to get too involved in one and not finish sorting.
  2038. >It should really be something you both can do together.
  2039. >Reading? No, hell no, you’ve done plenty of that, too.
  2040. >As you rattle your brain for an answer, you look to the nearby window.
  2041. >It’s such a nice day out today.
  2042. >What few trees that can be seen are gently swaying the breeze, and some birds flutter about.
  2043. >Going outside then?
  2044. >Haven’t been outback yet, at least not since you were here when you were younger.
  2045. >There’s even a trail that could be nice to explore again.
  2046. “How about we go on a walk?”
  2047. >Minky’s eyes widen, and she shifts in place a bit.
  2048. >”...A w-walk..?...Back i-into town a-around other p-people..?”
  2049. “No, god, no. I know you’re not ready for that just yet. I mean walking around here, maybe into the woods, something like that?”
  2050.  
  2051. >Nodding slowly, she relaxes from a near panic into a calmer smile.
  2052. >”...Oh th-that’s what you m-meant...I’d l-like that…”
  2053. “Onward then!”
  2054. >You dramatically point towards the door, which draws a giggle out of Minky.
  2055. >As you two lave the room and head to the kitchen, some small talk is made.
  2056. >”...Y-you seem q-quite happy about a-a walk, A-Anon…”
  2057. “It’s not about the walk, it’s about exploring.”
  2058. >”...E-exploring what..?”
  2059. “The backyard of course.”
  2060. >”...But i-it’s just s-some trees and g-grass…”
  2061. >You stop at the backdoor, unlock it, and look down at her with a small smile.
  2062. “On the contrary, it’s more than trees and grass, it’s OUR trees and grass. Plus there is an old trail outback through the woods.”
  2063. >”...I-I suppose th-that’s true...What t-trail..?”
  2064. “Ah, so you haven’t walked it yet? Good, you’ll like it, I’m sure.”
  2065. >”...If y-you say so...I-it’s still j-just some woods, A-Anon…”
  2066. >Sighing, you gently shake your head and open the door to the outside.
  2067. “Other than when I came here to visit uncle, there were no woods where I lived. This is also the first house, let alone the first piece of land, that I actually own.”
  2068. >”...O-oh sorry...I-I never kn-new that...”
  2069. “It’s ‘kay, first time I’m sharing it with you. It’s not like you’re a mind reader. Unless, that’s some other feature you have?”
  2070. >Giggling, she shakes her head.
  2071. >”...You’re s-silly…You k-know I’m in-incapable of th-that…”
  2072. “Eh, never know for sure, especially with how tech is constantly evolving.”
  2073. >Looking towards the backyard, a wave of nostalgia washes over.
  2074. >Virtually everything is exactly the same as it was last seen so long ago.
  2075. >There are various patches of grass of different heights, rocks that are scattered about, and trees that become more numerous the further back the property goes.
  2076. >Just before the true tree line starts, is where the old shed is spotted.
  2077. “Ready?”
  2078. >”...Mhm…”
  2079.  
  2080. >As the two of you step off the back steps, there’s a light bounce in your walk.
  2081. >There’s a fair bit of land to go over, and it’s going to be hell mow come summertime.
  2082. >Even worse, is when winter arrives, because it will be a nightmare to reach the shed.
  2083. >That’s future Anon’s problem, just enjoy the walk for now.
  2084. “Forgot how beautiful it can be out here.”
  2085. >”...M-mhmm…”
  2086. >It’s hard to setting your eyes on just one thing.
  2087. >Like the number of color birds moving around the trees above.
  2088. >They all happily chirp, with not a care in the world.
  2089. “Hey do you know the names of those birds?”
  2090. >”...W-what birds..?”
  2091. >Squatting down to her level, you point to the large old oak off to the side.
  2092. “That one there, you don’t have to name all of them off. Just curious if you do.”
  2093. >”...Oh, w-well let’s s-see…”
  2094. >Her eyes scan the tree for several seconds, flickering as they move about.
  2095. >”...B-blue jay, northern c-cardinal, turtle d-dove, northern mockingbird, a-and a red-headed w-woodpecker...J-just to n-name a few…”
  2096. >You stare at her blankly for a second before chuckling.
  2097. “Yeah, I should’ve figured you would be able to do that.”
  2098. >”...When I-I came o-outside for a w-walk, your un-uncle would j-join me...H-he would u-usually tell me th-the names o-of the birds in the t-trees...I remembered th-them in c-case he w-would ask a-about them, it w-was fun…”
  2099. “Huh, didn’t think he was one for bird watching.”
  2100. >”...Mhm, h-he had a-a whole book o-on the birds o-of North America…”
  2101. >Blinking, you shake your head and stand.
  2102. “Should’ve figured it was another book.”
  2103. >You both slowly approach the old shed, and start looking it over.
  2104. >The blue paint is faded and peeling, roof sags on one side, and the door looks slightly off center.
  2105. >Letting out a whistle, it looks like you got your work cut out for you.
  2106. >”...S-something wrong..?”
  2107. “Didn’t think the shed was in this rough of shape.”
  2108.  
  2109. >”...He k-kept telling me h-he would take c-care of it e-eventually…”
  2110. >Figures that would be the case.
  2111. >The door is checked, and surprisingly, it’s unlocked.
  2112. >Though that does little in the way of opening, because it pulls much harder than expected.
  2113. >Once in, the whole space is quite dark.
  2114. >You try to search around for some light, or anything to help.
  2115. >But it’s quickly apparent that is a futile endeavor.
  2116. >”...H-here, let me h-help you…”
  2117. >She trots into the darkness, then returns mere seconds after with a flashlight
  2118. “Thanks, doesn’t this place frighten you?”
  2119. >”...No, as l-long as you’re h-here with me, it’s n-not so b-bad…”
  2120. >Smiling, you turn on the light, and start looking around
  2121. >Dust coats most of the surfaces, with various cobwebs hanging around the ceiling.
  2122. >There’s a tool rack that has some tools, a large work table, and what appears to be junk.
  2123. >Entering further, you nearly bump into a lawnmower.
  2124. >Glad to know that’s here.
  2125. >A pile of stuff is approached, with most of it composing of car parts and coffee cans.
  2126. “My pack rat senses are tingling.”
  2127. >”...Y-you’re what a-are tingling..?”
  2128. “It’s a joke, I’m referring to all this junk in here.”
  2129. >”...How d-do you know i-if it’s all u-useless..?”
  2130. “There is no reason to keep ALL of these coffee cans, and most of these car parts look pretty useless.”
  2131. >”...Y-you can t-tell that..?”
  2132. “More or less, you can’t even salvage most of this.”
  2133. >”...That’s t-true…”
  2134. “We’ll tackle this place another time, let’s get back to our walk.”
  2135. >She nods in agreement as you set the light down, and close the door behind you.
  2136. >Just like it was opened, it closes quite hard, too
  2137. “...and take care of this door eventually…”
  2138. >”...Wh-what was th-that..?”
  2139. “Just me talking to myself, so how about this weather, eh?”
  2140. >She glances around as you two start walking again.
  2141. >”...It i-is nice an-and sunny today…”
  2142. “Indeed, shame it doesn’t last forever.”
  2143. >”...Mhm, b-but it has t-to change f-for plants to grow, an-and for the s-seasons…”
  2144.  
  2145. >Nodding, the old trail is just within sight, and it’s clearly hasn’t been used in some time.
  2146. >That explains why she was unaware of it.
  2147. >One of the trees by the entrance is recognized almost immediately.
  2148. >You rush to it, and start checking near the roots.
  2149. >”...Wh-what are y-you looking f-for..?”
  2150. “Just a sec… Aha! Check this out.”
  2151. >Her brow furrows as she tries to discern what you’re talking about..
  2152. >After several seconds of trying, she looks back at you with her head tilted.
  2153. >”...I-I’m sorry I-I don’t see i-it…”
  2154. >Shaking your head, you get closer, then point out the carvings.
  2155. “Years ago I marked this tree with my initials, see?”
  2156. >She squints for a moment, and her eyes suddenly widen.
  2157. >”...Oh..!...N-now I do...When d-did you d-do this..?”
  2158. “Let’s see… um… when I was thirteen I think.”
  2159. >”...W-wow, so i-it’s been here s-since forever then..?”
  2160. >A wicked idea pops into mind as you stand up slowly.
  2161. >Adopting a stern expression, you cross your arms across your chest with a raise brow.
  2162. “Forever, eh? Just how old do you think I am?”
  2163. >For a second, her muzzle scrunches up in concern.
  2164. >”...Th-that’s not wh-what I meant...Wait, y-you’re joking a-around again, aren’t y-you..?”
  2165. “Maybe…”
  2166. >Turning, you conceal your smile as you start walking along.
  2167. >Minky’s hoof falls quickly approach to your side.
  2168. >Stealing a quick glance to her, she’s giving you a small glare.
  2169. “What? I couldn’t help myself.”
  2170. >Her glare intensifies before it shatters into her laughing.
  2171. >”...I’ll g-get you o-one of these t-times, A-Anon...”
  2172. “Ha! I look forward to that IF it ever happens.”
  2173. >”...Y-you’ll regret th-that saying that...So th-this is the p-path you t-talked about..?”
  2174. “Yep it is, I’d follow it into the woods, think it might’ve been used for hunting at one time.”
  2175. >”...I s-see...Is th-there anything in-interesting along i-it..?”
  2176. “It’s a typical forest; so a lot of trees, rocks, and such, but I did find some creeks before.”
  2177.  
  2178. >”...D-did you ever f-find treasure..?”
  2179. “Sorta, found an owl pellet once, and I took it home not knowing what it was. Mom freaked out when I showed her.”
  2180. >”...That’s d-digusting…”
  2181. “She thought so, too.”
  2182. >Minky giggles while the walk continues on.
  2183. >This place is still just as amazing as when you were younger.
  2184. >The woods become thicker the further it is entered, but it becomes all the more beautiful.
  2185. >Suddenly, you freeze, and you reach out to halt Minky as you see something in the distance.
  2186. >”...What is it, A-Anon..?”
  2187. >Looking down to her, you raise a finger to your lips to motion for silence.
  2188. >She looks confused by it, so you slowly nod forward, then point ahead with a hand.
  2189. >Her eyes follow along, and widen upon seeing it.
  2190. >There, just ahead, is a small group of deer.
  2191. >Been a long time since you last saw any, let alone, this close.
  2192. >Minky lets out a tiny gasp, but covers her mouth with a hoof in a flash.
  2193. >One of the deer looks up instantly, unmoving as it stares at you two.
  2194. >For a while, it remains frozen before slowly going back to grazing.
  2195. >Very slowly, you pop a squat next to Minky while watching the little group.
  2196. >Don’t know how long this lasts for, but eventually, they wander off elsewhere.
  2197. >Minky waits for a bit, and finally, she turns to you with among the broadest smiles you’ve seen her had.
  2198. >”...Th-that was so c-cool, A-Anon..!”
  2199. “Indeed, it’s been a while since I’ve seen so many that close.”
  2200. >”...When w-was the l-last time you did..?”
  2201. “I was driving out to a friends, and saw a group crossing the road. They didn’t seem to care about me, so I watched and waited while they did.”
  2202. >”...Th-they weren’t a-afraid..?”
  2203. “Nope, guess they were used to people. Shall we continue?”
  2204. >”...Mhm..!”
  2205. >Grunting, you stand up, and start walking again.
  2206. >Up ahead is the old hill you would play around, often acting like you were king of the hill or something.
  2207. >Looks so much smaller now.
  2208. >Sadly, as much as this is great, the sun is slowly starting to set, and the area is beginning to darken.
  2209.  
  2210. “Guess we should be getting back.”
  2211. >”...I-it feels l-like we just g-got out here…”
  2212. “Yeah, time flies when you’re having fun, but we still need to finish going through that room.”
  2213. >”...Mhm, a-and I s-still need to m-make dinner…”
  2214. “That, too. How long do you think it will take to finish the room up?”
  2215. >”...M-maybe an h-hour, it a-all depends…W-why do y-you ask..?”
  2216. “Other than getting it done today? I figured we would watch something, like more My Little Pony?”
  2217. >She sharply gasps, then rapidly nods her head as she begins picking her pace up into a hastened trot.
  2218. >”...Then w-we should h-hurry while w-we still have t-time..!”
  2219. >Shaking your head, you let out a laugh as you start to jog to keep up with her.
  2220.  
  2221. ***
  2222.  
  2223. >Letting out a grunt, you close the door, and start for the stairs.
  2224. >”...O-oh there y-you are...W-welcome home, A-Anon...I w-was worried…”
  2225. >Everything comes to a halt at the bottom step as you spot Minky trotting out the kitchen.
  2226. “...yeah.”
  2227. >The first step is taken up as her expression shifts from happy, to concerned.
  2228. >”...W-wait..!...Is s-something wrong..?”
  2229. >Sighing, you slowly shake your head, then continue on.
  2230. “Tired, I’ll explain later, promise.”
  2231. >”...C-can’t you ex-explain now..?”
  2232. “No.”
  2233. >Before anything further is said, you head off to your bedroom.
  2234. >Really shouldn’t shut her out like that, she doesn’t deserve it.
  2235. >After all, she does care about you.
  2236. >Today was hell, she’ll understand once it’s explained.
  2237. >And right now, a shower is desperately needed.
  2238. >Shambling along, a change of clothes is grabbed, and you hop in the shower.
  2239. >For a while, there is nothing but soaking; an attempt to unwind.
  2240. >Bit by bit, it begins to melt away the stresses built up over the day.
  2241. >A stiff drink sounds really good right about now.
  2242. >Can’t do that, last thing needed is to get lost in a bottle.
  2243. >There’s also the fact that it wouldn’t be right to do with Minky around.
  2244. >The water is turned off, to which you take a moment to collect yourself.
  2245. >Focus, Anon, she needs you.
  2246. >Stay strong, at the very least, stay strong for her.
  2247. >This facade can’t last forever, it will eventually break.
  2248. >There it is, rearing its ugly head – the shit feeling that’s been an active plague.
  2249. >Shower helped out against it somewhat, but not enough.
  2250. >After getting into the fresh set of clothes, a personal reminder is given before leaving the bathroom.
  2251. “Keep it together, she doesn’t need to see me like this.”
  2252. >Go down there, explain yourself to her, and be done with it.
  2253. “Easier said than done.”
  2254. >A long, slow breath is released, then followed by a small smile.
  2255. >You open the door, and in a near instant, a wonderful aroma hang in the air.
  2256. “That smells amazing.”
  2257. >Curiosity fuels every step as it is made down to the kitchen.
  2258.  
  2259. >Upon entering, Minky is seen with her head buried in a book with her back turned away from you.
  2260. >Since she’s distracted, so she could be surprised by sneaking up on her.
  2261. >That might be a good way to break the ice.
  2262. >However, that might not end well either.
  2263. >Then don’t make this complicated, instead, explain yourself like planned.
  2264. >Also pet her mane, she likes that, plus it will help out.
  2265. >Just as you’re about to make yourself known, in a flash, she spins around to face you.
  2266. >”...Hey, A-Anon..!”
  2267. “HOLY SH-shiitake mushrooms!”
  2268. >”...Oh n-no...Did I-I scare y-you..?...I-I’m sorry…”
  2269. >Lightly chuckling, you slightly hunch over to calm down.
  2270. “Yeah, you got me good, haha…”
  2271. >”...Y-you’re shaking, I d-didn’t mean to d-do it…”
  2272. >You wave her off as you stand up straight again with greater composure.
  2273. “It’s fine, really, I had it coming… so anyways, what’s that wonderful smell?”
  2274. >Her eyes flicker before she steps over to the counter, then presents a tray to show off.
  2275. >“...These, I m-made chocolate ch-chip cookies..!...What d-do you think..?”
  2276. >Very quickly, your mouth begins to water as you stare in awe at the baked goods.
  2277. >It’s no surprise, they look amazing.
  2278. >In this stunned state, Minky adopts a mischievous twinkle in her eye.
  2279. >”...N-nothing to s-say..?...Maybe I-I should throw th-them out and m-make something e-else…”
  2280. >Her sudden movement shatters the hunger induced gaze.
  2281. “NO WAIT! I mean… no, sorry, let me try one first to be sure.”
  2282. >Just as you reach out to grab one, she shakes her head and pulls back the tray.
  2283. >”...B-but you didn’t s-say the m-magic word…”
  2284. >Is she being serious right now?
  2285. >She’s just smiling, otherwise remaining unfaltering.
  2286. “The magic word?”
  2287. >”...Mhm…”
  2288. >Of course she means it.
  2289. >Rolling your eyes, you softly sigh, then smile.
  2290. “Can I /please/ have a cookie?”
  2291. >She lets out a faux gasp.
  2292. >”...O-of course you c-can…”
  2293. >Reaching for one again, she pulls them away once more, and sets them down on the counter.
  2294. >”...After th-they finish c-cooling, A-Anon…”
  2295.  
  2296. >Oh this cheeky little shit.
  2297. >Chuckling, you start to pet her mane gently.
  2298. >She gives a small of contentment while leaning into your hand,
  2299. >Huh, that’s new. But then again, she has been doing things as of late, even more so after those updates were installed.
  2300. >It’s mostly little things, but what if they grow into something more?
  2301. >That would be a bit concerning…
  2302. >Wait, the daily system checks show that everything is stable.
  2303. >Maybe it’s just an overreaction then.
  2304. >After all, she’s still herself, if only a little more expressive.
  2305. >If need be, the forums can be relied upon for answer to quell any possible fear.
  2306. >Petting her mane a little while longer, you eventually let go, and lean against the counter.
  2307. >She tilts her head as she looks up at you.
  2308. >”...S-so how w-was work..?...You d-didn’t look t-too happy…”
  2309. “...About that, I’m really sorry for how I was acting. I know I came off as a jerk, it’s just that things were rough today.”
  2310. >”...I-it’s okay, I’m s-sure you had a-a good reason...Do y-you mind telling m-me what h-happened..?”
  2311. >She’s way more considering than expected.
  2312. >”...Please, A-Anon, you m-might feel b-better afterwords…”
  2313. >How much should be shared.
  2314. >Not everything, just tell her about today, dip shit.
  2315. >Seemingly sensing the hesitation within, she gives what appears to be puppy dog eyes, that in turn, draws out a smile.
  2316. >“I intended to, anyways. Long story short: a huge shipment came in, so they offered some last minute overtime to anyone who wanted it. Naturally, I accepted it because we need it. Usually, work is pretty easy going, but it’s been awhile since everyone had to move around in a frenzy, which put everyone on edge to make sure it was done on time. Basically, a lot of yelling and running today.”
  2317. >She nods along slowly, with her eyes never leaving you the entire time.
  2318. >”...I-I see, that d-does sound b-bad…”
  2319. “Yeah, that’s why I seemed like a zombie.”
  2320. >”...That’s n-not true...You d-don’t look l-like a zombie, you l-look like A-Anon…”
  2321.  
  2322. >At that, you give a little laugh.
  2323. “Well, yeah, you’re not wrong about that.”
  2324. >”...Is a-all work l-like that..?”
  2325. “Eh, most is, but that’s fairly normally. Didn’t uncle ever tell you about his job?”
  2326. >”...N-no, he never l-liked sharing his d-day…”
  2327. >Shouldn’t be surprised there, he bottled things up.
  2328. >Pot calling the kettle black, Anon.
  2329. >Ignoring that thought, you notice that she’s slouching, with her eyes drifting towards the floor.
  2330. >”...A-Anon, can I-I ask y-you something..?”
  2331. “Sure, go right ahead.”
  2332. >”...Could y-you tell me a-about your day when y-you get home..?...I-I’d like t-to hear it, even i-if it’s b-boring…”
  2333. >Taking a knee, you pet her again.
  2334. “I promise.”
  2335. >”...Pinkie P-Pie promise..?”
  2336. >Chuckling, the famous phrase and gestures are performed with your free hand.
  2337. “Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye.”
  2338. >”...D-don’t forget i-it…”
  2339. “I won’t, but hey, how was your day? I bet it was a lot better than mine.”
  2340. >She leans to your touch, and briefly closes her eyes before answering.
  2341. >”...It w-was nothing s-special; I d-did my chores, r-read a c-couple of books, an-and was d-drawing a picture w-while waiting o-on you…”
  2342. “Sounds like I was right. How about you show me what you made?”
  2343. >”...M-mhm…”
  2344. >You stand up straight again as she goes into the other room.
  2345. >Someday, you will have to fully open up to her.
  2346. >When it happens, it happens.
  2347. >Glancing over to the counter, the cookies are still sitting there.
  2348. >She really did a wonderful job with them.
  2349. >The sound of hoof falls approaching draws you back, and she comes over with a sheet of paper.
  2350. >”...So th-this is w-what I made…”
  2351. >You take the picture, then look over the drawing.
  2352. >Immediately, it’s recognized as the woods from the walk that happened the other day.
  2353. >The various trees, the nearby hills, and deer grazing, it’s all here.
  2354. >What’s really interesting, is the coloring and lines are both more consistent.
  2355.  
  2356. >It also looks like she attempted to do some shading, with a fair amount of success, too.
  2357. >Overall, it’s a clear improvement from her previous work
  2358. >Looking to to her, she’s hiding somewhat behind her mane.
  2359. >She’s nervous, which is made more obvious by how much she is shifting in place.
  2360. “I’ve got to say, Minky, this is really well done.”
  2361. >”...Th-thank you, but I-I think I c-can do better…”
  2362. “That may be true, but this is a pretty big improvement from your other work.”
  2363. >She stops shifting, then peers out from behind her mane with a glimmer in her eyes.
  2364. >”...Really..?...Y-you think s-so, A-Anon..?”
  2365. “I’m completely sure of that, it’s leagues better than anything that I could make.”
  2366. >She lets out a cheer with a broad smile.
  2367. >”...Th-thank you s-so much, it m-means a lot t-to me to h-hear you s-say that..!”
  2368. “Anytime.”
  2369. >As the happy moment is shared, it is cut short by a rumble from your gut,
  2370. “Er… sorry about that.”
  2371. >Minky giggles, and shakes her head.
  2372. >”...It’s o-okay, I th-think the c-cookies are cool e-enough for y-you to try…”
  2373. “You sure?”
  2374. >”...Mhm, p-please try one...I-I’d like t-to know how I d-did…”
  2375. >Not going to argue with that, so the drawing is set aside as you grab a cookie, and take a bite.
  2376. >A moan of satisfaction escapes while chewing.
  2377. >”...I-I take it i-it’s good then..?”
  2378. >There many words to describe this: delicious, scrumptious, and more.
  2379. >Instead, a vigorous nod is given as you take another bite.
  2380. >”...Oh that’s w-wonderful..!...I w-was worried since th-this is my f-first time m-making them, that I-I messed i-it up…”
  2381. >You pour a glass of milk to pair with it, then take a quick drink before talking.
  2382. “I seriously doubt you could mess this up, you’re a great cook. It’s been ages since I’ve had cookies /anywhere/ near this good.”
  2383. >She’s practically glowing with happiness, and already is prancing in place.
  2384.  
  2385. >Widely grinning, the cookie is finished, so another is grabbed.
  2386. >”...Now, A-Anon, don’t eat t-too many, y-you’ll spoil your d-dinner…”
  2387. “I won’t forget, mom.”
  2388. >Minky gives a knowing smirk, then adopts a serious look.
  2389. >”...I’m n-not your m-mom silly…”
  2390. “Yeah you’re right, you’re a little small for that.”
  2391. >Her muzzle scrunches up hard.
  2392. >”...I-I’m not s-short, I’m c-compact..!”
  2393. >At that, you snort, which breaks into full blown laughter.
  2394. >She starts to giggle before joining in on laughing, too.
  2395. >That doesn’t last much longer on your part, as your sides start to ache.
  2396. >It takes some deep breathing, but some control is wrestled back.
  2397. >You wipe away a few errant tears.
  2398. “Aw man, heh… I haven’t laughed that hard in awhile.”
  2399. >”...Th-that’s good t-to hear…”
  2400. “Yeah, but hey, I got a question for you.”
  2401. >”...Oh..?”
  2402. “Wanna finish off season two?”
  2403. >Her eyes become as wide as saucers, and she starts to giddily prance in place
  2404. >”...O-of course I-I would..!”
  2405. “It’s settled then, I’ll go grab the drive, and you can take care of the TV.”
  2406. >”...Mhm..!”
  2407. >She races off into the room in a hurry.
  2408. >Shortly thereafter, you finish the cookie, and head upstairs.
  2409. >Entering uncle’s old room, there’s this strange feeling with how it’s nearly empty.
  2410. >Even with her help, you couldn’t fully commit to cleaning this space out.
  2411. >There’s still some stuff here, like the computer.
  2412. >It’s not like an effort wasn’t made, but it you guess that you weren’t read to deal with this completely.
  2413. >Still, the majority of it was taken care of.
  2414. >Quickly shifting through the drawers, the drive is found, and you return to the living room.
  2415. >Minky is found eagerly shifting in her spot on the couch.
  2416. >”...W-welcome back…”
  2417. “Thanks, I think I’m gonna start keeping this here from now on.”
  2418. >Her eyes follow along as you head over to your computer.
  2419. >After doing what could be done with uncle’s room, you hooked up your computer to the TV.
  2420. >That was mostly done for convenience, but it certainly makes watching stuff easier.
  2421.  
  2422. >The hard drive is plugged in, and you start to prepare the episode.
  2423. >”...A-Anon..?”
  2424. “Hm?”
  2425. >”...What w-would you like f-for dinner..?...I-I’m going t-to start it after this e-episode…”
  2426. “Oh, well, uh… surprise me.”
  2427. >”...S-surprise you..?”
  2428. “Yeah, just make whatever you feel like.”
  2429. >”...Okay, I-I’ll try..!”
  2430. >Sure, you could’ve told her something specific, but where’s the fun in that?
  2431. >She did surprise you earlier with those cookies, so this next one will be special, too.
  2432. >You go join Minky as the episode starts.
  2433. >”...I-I can’t wait t-to finish th-this..!”
  2434. “Indeed, it’s gonna be nice.”
  2435. >”...There i-is still m-many seasons left…”
  2436. “Something like a dozen total, right?”
  2437. >”...N-no, there’s n-nine in total…”
  2438. >You shrug.
  2439. “Eh, I didn’t really bother to search the folder.”
  2440. >”...Shh..!...I-it’s starting…”
  2441. >Lightly chuckling, you turn your attention to the episode.
  2442. >Twilight and her friends are having a picnic in a grassy field.
  2443. >As events begin to unfold, some reflection is given about the series so far.
  2444. >Probably could’ve finished this season off, then moved onto the next awhile ago.
  2445. >Things got in the way, though, like work and Minky’s problems.
  2446. >Nevertheless, it’s been quite enjoyable to space everything out.
  2447. >Over time, the show has grown on you.
  2448. >You even learned there is still a fan base for this particular generation.
  2449. >That explains why there are so many pony companion droids out there.
  2450. >Currently, you don’t have a favorite character, as each has their own merits.
  2451. >Though there are two in mind to be contenders.
  2452. >Episodes however, there are several greatly enjoyed.
  2453. >Then there are /some/ that are pretty bad, like Mysterious Mare Do Well.
  2454. >Seriously, what was the whole deal behind-
  2455. >Aw shit, you got distracted.
  2456. >Not sure how much of the episode was missed, but hopefully not too much.
  2457. >From what you can tell, Twilight is listening in on an argument between two ponies.
  2458. >Looks like a white unicorn stallion with a blue mane, and a… wait a second.
  2459.  
  2460. “Is that another alicorn?”
  2461. >”...Th-that’s Princess C-Cadance…”
  2462. “Another princess, and she’s an alicorn… seriously?”
  2463. >Minky knits her brows together as she looks over at you.
  2464. >”...Weren’t y-you paying a-attention earlier when T-Twilight was talking..?”
  2465. “Uh… yes?”
  2466. >Her gaze turns into a hard stare, which starts to chip away at your defenses.
  2467. >Poker face, Anon, poker face.
  2468. >Her stare shifts into a glare as it continues to grow further.
  2469. >”...A-Anon…”
  2470. >Fuck it.
  2471. >Surrendering, you raise your hands up.
  2472. “Fine, you got me, I let my mind wander.”
  2473. >She cutely scrunches her muzzle, then shakes her head.
  2474. >”...Y-you’ve missed m-most of the episode doing th-that…”
  2475. >She hops off the couch, and walks over to the computer.
  2476. “Hold on, it’s not like I missed that much, did I?”
  2477. >Stopping, she looks to you with an raised brow.
  2478. >”...Do y-you know w-what is g-going on right now..?”
  2479. >Quickly, you look back to the currently playing episode for answer.
  2480. >Before anything can be discerned, she pauses it.
  2481. >”...N-no cheating, A-Anon…”
  2482. “I wasn’t cheating, just looking…”
  2483. >A smirk crosses her lips.
  2484. >”...Sure y-you were…”
  2485. >Alright, time to Sherlock this shit, you can do this.
  2486. “Let’s see… a wedding is going to take place.”
  2487. >”...Mhm…”
  2488. “Twilight and the gang are on the scene.”
  2489. >”...R-right…”
  2490. “Which means something bad is going to happen.”
  2491. >”...Th-that’s true, but d-do you know w-what exactly..?”
  2492. “Er… the return of Discord?”
  2493. >”...No, d-do you give u-up..?”
  2494. >You wrack your brain, but ultimately, the answers is already known.
  2495. “I give.”
  2496. >Minky giggles, and comes over you, then pokes you leg lightly with a hoof.
  2497. >”...That’s w-what I thought…”
  2498. “Not like I intended to get lost inside my head.”
  2499. >”...I-it’s fine, I-I understand...Do y-you want t-to talk about i-it..?”
  2500. “Nothing really special to be honest. I was thinking about the show.”
  2501. >”...Are y-you sure a-about that..?”
  2502. “Positive, I was debating on my favorite pony.”
  2503. >That brightens her up.
  2504. >”...Oh, w-who is i-it..?”
  2505.  
  2506. “A toss up between Applejack and Pinkie Pie.”
  2507. >”...B-both are g-good...Applejack is s-so strong a-and I like h-her honesty...I-I wish I h-had Pinkie’s s-sense…”
  2508. “Agreed, both would make things so much easier. I still don’t know which to pick, though.”
  2509. >”...You d-don’t have t-to pick one...E-even though Fluttershy i-is my f-favorite, I like th-the others as w-well…”
  2510. “Fair point.”
  2511. >”...Mhmm…I-I’m going t-to go start d-dinner, then we’ll r-restart the e-episode…”
  2512. “Sounds great, want some help with it?”
  2513. >”...N-no, you s-said to surprise y-you…”
  2514. >Chuckling, you nod.
  2515. “Right, I forgot about that.”
  2516. >”...You’re s-silly sometimes, A-Anon...”
  2517. “Yeah I know.”
  2518. >As she leaves, you lean back, and exhale a slow breath.
  2519. >Hopefully, with tomorrow being the weekend, more can be done with Minky.
  2520.  
  2521. ***
  2522.  
  2523. >Rain softly patters outside, which gently echoes throughout the house.
  2524. >You take an idle sip from your coffee while watching it, as it cascades down the window in the kitchen.
  2525. >Some hoof steps approach from your side, then stop.
  2526. “Hey there.”
  2527. >Without breaking your attention, you reach over, and gently pet her mane.
  2528. >”...Hello, A-Anon…”
  2529. “What do you think of the weather?”
  2530. >”...I-I don’t l-like it…”
  2531. “Really, why’s that?”
  2532. >”...It’s t-too cloudy and g-gray, so you c-can’t see th-the sun, olus m-most of the animals are hiding, t-too…”
  2533. “That’s one way of looking at it I suppose.”
  2534. >”...What d-do you m-mean..?”
  2535. “Some people find it soothing. I personally don’t mind it.”
  2536. >Looking over, she’s knitting her brows in an attempt to understand.
  2537. >”...Th-that sounds weird, w-why would it b-be soothing..?”
  2538. >Shrugging, you take another sip.
  2539. “Maybe how it sounds or looks? I don’t know, never really gave it much thought.”
  2540. >”...I s-see…”
  2541. >For a time, nothing more is said while sitting here.
  2542. >In fact, aside from the sound of rainfall, and her internal noises, it’s pretty quiet.
  2543. >As the silence continues, you attempt to think of something to fill the void.
  2544. “You ever been out the in rain before?”
  2545. >”...N-no, your un-uncle wouldn’t let m-me...He k-kept saying h-how it would r-ruin my coat…”
  2546. >He was probably right about that.
  2547. >Past experience reinforces how much of a pain it is.
  2548. >Then there’s the fact that you have no idea how to go about cleaning it.
  2549. >”...W-what about y-you..?”
  2550. “Of course I have.”
  2551. >Giggling, she shakes her head.
  2552. >”...No, I-I know you h-have been outside i-in the rain...I-I mean have y-you ever p-played out in it b-before..?”
  2553. “Oh right, well, yes. Several times come to mind when I was younger. Mom hated me playing in it, though, she kept telling me I’d get sick.”
  2554. >”...S-she isn’t w-wrong, because it m-makes you susceptible t-to illness…”
  2555. “I know she was right, but I was a kid and didn’t care.”
  2556. >Minky’s eyes slowly shut with contentment as you continue your ministrations.
  2557.  
  2558. >This is nice to have moments like these.
  2559. >Though now that opportunity has been presented, maybe you could try to properly introduce her to the rain.
  2560. >It’s going be difficult to deal with the mud later.
  2561. >Eh, it’s worth it for her.
  2562. “So, wanna go outside and try it out?”
  2563. >Her eyes open, and she raises a brow.
  2564. >”...Do y-you mean th-the rain..?”
  2565. “Of course, I think you might enjoy it.”
  2566. >”...But, A-Anon, you could g-get sick…”
  2567. “Keyword, could, but shouldn’t you experience it at least once?”
  2568. >Her eyes flicker as they shift between you and the window several times.
  2569. >”...W-what about i-if my coat gets d-dirty..?”
  2570. >You shrug.
  2571. “If it happens, it happens. I’ll deal with it.”
  2572. >”...Yes, b-but are y-you sure about this..?”
  2573. “Are you going to keep asking questions?”
  2574. >She scrunches her muzzle.
  2575. >”...Th-they’re important q-questions…”
  2576. “And there are a million more to be asked, Minky, my dear.”
  2577. >Blinking, she slowly starts to nod.
  2578. >”...Okay, b-but if you g-get sick…”
  2579. >Sighing, you start to retract your hand, then briefly pause to boop her on the tip of her muzzle.
  2580. “I’ll be fine, I promise.”
  2581. >Her eyes cross, and her entire body freezes up for a few moments.
  2582. >The internal humming dramatically raises in volume before returning to normal.
  2583. “Minky?”
  2584. >She remains silent with her eyes still crossed.
  2585. >Aw crap, did you active some hidden feature, or something?
  2586. “Uh, Minky?”
  2587. >Ice cold fear starts to grow from within.
  2588. >Not sure what the hell just happened, but it’s gotta be fixed, fast.
  2589. >Just as you’re about to try something, she suddenly jolts.
  2590. >Her expression is normal once more, though she looks at you with a look of confusion.
  2591. >”...W-why’d you do th-that..?”
  2592. “I don’t know, just felt like it. But seriously, are you all right? You had me pretty scared there.”
  2593. >”...Mhm, i-it was...o-odd…”
  2594. >More like terrifying.
  2595. “Agreed, never seen that before.”
  2596. >”...Th-that’s because y-you and your un-uncle never d-did that b-before.”
  2597. >Note to self: avoid booping her.
  2598.  
  2599. >Well, at least until an answer is found to whatever the hell it is exactly.
  2600. “Are you still good to go outside then?”
  2601. >She smiles and nods gently.
  2602. >”...Mhm…”
  2603. “Just making sure. Gonna go grab my boots and coat, then we’ll step out.”
  2604. >”...O-okay, I’ll b-be waiting…”
  2605. >One quick change later, and you return to find her nervously shifting by the backdoor.
  2606. >She also seems to be mumbling something to herself.
  2607. “Something on your mind, Boss?”
  2608. >”...I s-still think it’s r-risky…”
  2609. >Shaking your head slowly, you take a knee, then pet her mane a few times.
  2610. “Alright, how about this: we take a quick stroll in the yard, then come back in?”
  2611. >”...E-every second o-out there is another th-that you c-could get sick...”
  2612. “Life is not without it’s risks, Minky.”
  2613. >Thank you, fortune cookie.
  2614. >Or was it some movie?
  2615. >Doesn’t matter.
  2616. >”...Th-that’s true, but s-some should b-be avoided…”
  2617. >She’s not gonna drop this if you let it go on.
  2618. >Standing back up, you open the door, and look to her.
  2619. “Shall we?”
  2620. >Her eyes go between the door and you.
  2621. >Despite still being concerned, she relaxes as she accepts defeat.
  2622. >”...Mhmm…”
  2623. >Smiling, you pull your hood up as the two of you step outside.
  2624. >It’s a light rain, and thankfully, not a cold one either.
  2625. >The walk begins slowly through the backyard a leisurely pace; figure this will let her fully experience this to its best effect.
  2626. >Most of your attention is on her to see all of her reactions.
  2627. >She appears confused at first, with her eyes flickering as they dart about.
  2628. >Slowly, a look of wonder crosses her face, along with short little gasps that she utters as well.
  2629. “So what do you think?”
  2630. >”...It’s...I-it’s strange in a-a way…”
  2631. >Minky trots around in circles, sometimes stopping by a puddle to tap her hoof against it.
  2632. “Strange?”
  2633. >”...M-mhmm…”
  2634. >Not quite the expected response.
  2635. >She pulls her hoof from a puddle, then raises it to her face.
  2636. >Her eyes study the muddy water, like it were an alien.
  2637. >An odd look forms as her pupils shrink and grow while focusing on the liquid.
  2638. >”...This i-is different from th-the other t-times I’ve dealt with w-water…”
  2639.  
  2640. “Maybe because it’s muddy water?”
  2641. >”...N-no, that’s n-not it…”
  2642. >She pushes a hoof against a patch of wet grass, then withdraws it again curiously.
  2643. >To be honest, you were hoping for her to run around like a typical kid, maybe even play in the mud, too.
  2644. >Still, this reaction is nice in its own way.
  2645. >You give her some space while watching her go through this new experience.
  2646. >Her eyes keep darting around like the other day, seemingly taking everything in.
  2647. >”...Th-this isn’t s-so bad…”
  2648. “Now you see what I mean.”
  2649. >”...Mhm…”
  2650. >She trots up to your side, and looks up expectantly.
  2651. >Guess that means she’s satisfied, so with that, the walk starts again.
  2652. >As the old shed is passed, up comes the treeline, however, it is there that you both turn back.
  2653. >Rather not bother with the trail today, because it will be definitely be too muddy.
  2654. >Kinda glad how easy going she is with this today, and that should make it easier to deal with clean up later.
  2655. >There’s also how she keeps making cute little noises, too.
  2656. >It’s really adorable to hear, so much so that it curls your lips into a smile.
  2657. “Looks like you’re enjoying yourself.”
  2658. >”...I-it’s nice, and different f-from what I-I was expecting…”
  2659. “Told ya.”
  2660. >She giggles as the final approach comes for the back steps.
  2661. >”...A-Anon..?”
  2662. “Hm?”
  2663. >”...Can w-we do th-this again sometime..?”
  2664. “Of course.”
  2665. >You open the door, and let her in first before shutting it behind the two of you.
  2666. >Whiling dealing with your stuff, she attempts to rub the mud off her hooves against the doormat.
  2667. >Setting your stuff aside, you grab a towel on the way back to her.
  2668. >She’s still trying her best to clean up when you arrive and take a knee.
  2669. “Alright, show em.”
  2670. >”...S-show what..?”
  2671. “Your hooves.”
  2672. >”...Why..?”
  2673. “Because I’m going to clean them, I know they’re muddy.”
  2674. >She shakes her head.
  2675. >”...B-but I’m already t-taking care of i-it…”
  2676. “Uh-huh, I can see that, but it would be easier if I helped out.”
  2677. >Rather than arguing, she lets out a small huff and sits down.
  2678.  
  2679. >Minky raises her front hooves for you to examine.
  2680. >Though she tried, they still have some mud on them.
  2681. >As figured, she was quite successful in minimizing the mess during the walk.
  2682. >The rest of her however, is still fairly wet.
  2683. >Nothing a good towel down won’t fix.
  2684. >While going about the task, she sports a small grin.
  2685. “Something on your mind, Boss?”
  2686. >”...Mhm…”
  2687. “Wanna share it then?”
  2688. >Without missing a beat, she shoots a hoof forward, and boops your nose.
  2689. >”...B-boop..!”
  2690. >You chuckle in response the little action.
  2691. “That’s fair I suppose.”
  2692. >”...You t-told me t-to share…”
  2693. “Yeah I did. Still need to figure out why you reacted the way you did earlier.”
  2694. >”...I-it was s-strange...”
  2695. >Terrifying was more like it, not that you intend to tell her that.
  2696. >You finish up cleaning her to the best of your ability, then give her a once-over.
  2697. “That should about do it.”
  2698. >She briefly looks at her hooves.
  2699. >”...I c-can finish it u-up in the b-bathroom…”
  2700. “’Kay, I’ll be here in the kitchen if you need me.”
  2701. >”...Mhmm…”
  2702. >While she takes care of that, you fix yourself a quick sandwich.
  2703. >Despite the weather, today has been pretty well so far.
  2704. >Still gotta drop off those totes to your parents later, probably will do that tomorrow.
  2705. >Perhaps you should ask Minky if she wants to come along for that trip.
  2706. >It should help get her out of the house more.
  2707. >Worst comes to worst, she can wait it out in the car.
  2708. >Though knowing mom, she’d love to meet her, so that might change things.
  2709. >As you finish eating, you turn your gaze to the window.
  2710. >Rain now comes down much heavier than earlier.
  2711. >It’s good thing that little walk happened when it did then.
  2712. >”...A-Anon..?”
  2713. >Looking over, Minky is standing nearby.
  2714. “Yeah?”
  2715. >”...You’ve s-sitting there f-for a while…”
  2716. “I have?”
  2717. >”...Mhm…”
  2718. “Sorry, just planning out tomorrow.”
  2719. >”...Oh, w-what do you h-have in mind..?”
  2720. >You reach over and start to pet her.
  2721. “I’ll tell you later. Promise.”
  2722. >There’s still so much to do, and it feels like there’s so little time for it all.
  2723.  
  2724. >Like before, she leans into your hand while keeping her eyes on you.
  2725. >Honestly, you’re happy she’s around/
  2726. >”...I’m b-bored…”
  2727. “Hello bored, I’m Anon.”
  2728. >She slowly blinks, then steps out of your hand with a deadpan expression.
  2729. >”…”
  2730. >Dad jokes always that effect on others.
  2731. >So in turn to her, you give your own deadpan look.
  2732. “…”
  2733. >This eventually shifts into a staring contest.
  2734. >There’s a problem with this – you’re not going to win.
  2735. >Because unlike you, she doesn’t have to blink.
  2736. >As it begins to grow harder to resist blinking, her eyes briefly flicker.
  2737. >That draws out a devilish idea.
  2738. “Your eyes flickering count as blinking.”
  2739. >She immediately looks flabbergasted, which quickly turns into a small glare.
  2740. >”...No i-it doesn’t…”
  2741. “Yes it does.”
  2742. >Minky scrunches, then utters a small growl.
  2743. >Never looking away, you lean back with a smile, and give her a simple wink.
  2744. >She shakes her head gently as her usual serene smile returns.
  2745. >”...Y-you’re silly…”
  2746. “No, that’s my middle name.”
  2747. >At that, she bursts into laughter.
  2748. >It’s such a happy sight that it forces you to grin.
  2749. “Alright, I’ll stop being a comedian for a bit. What do you have in mind?”
  2750. >She slowly calms down, then starts shifting from side to side.
  2751. >”...C-can we read a-a book..?”
  2752. >Aw yes of course, your bane.
  2753. >It’s for her, though, you can suck it up just for that.
  2754. “Okay, sounds like a plan.”
  2755. >You get up and wave your arm towards the living room.
  2756. “Lead the way, Boss.”
  2757. >Minky giggles, then starts off into the other room with you following close behind.
  2758. >She approaches the bookshelf, with her eyes scanning the various titles.
  2759. >Meanwhile, you take your usual spot on the couch.
  2760. >Not sure how long this will take, though it should be fairly quick.
  2761. >Until then, you briefly check your phone.
  2762. >There’s a reply from your friend from the other day.
  2763. >Turns out he wants to try to catch up sometime soon.
  2764. >”...I-I found o-one..!”
  2765. >Setting the phone aside, you give her your complete attention.
  2766. “So which one did you pick?”
  2767. >She brings over an older looking book on her back.
  2768.  
  2769. >”...The H-Hobbit...Have y-you ever read th-this one, A-Anon..?...I h-haven’t read it-it alone before…”
  2770. “Nope, only seen the movies.”
  2771. >”...They m-made a movie a-about this..?”
  2772. “Yep, three actually. A lot of movies are based off books.”
  2773. >”...O-oh, well w-we can still read it, r-right?”
  2774. “Sure can, most movies don’t follow the books they’re based off completely, anyways.”
  2775. >”...Why n-not..?”
  2776. >You shrug.
  2777. “Probably because it would likely make the movie way too long if they did.”
  2778. >”...I-I guess that m-makes sense…”
  2779. >You pat a spot next to you.
  2780. “Well hop on up, and let’s get started on this.”
  2781. >She brightly beams as she climbs up, then snuggles close at your side.
  2782. >”...Okay, I-I’m ready, are y-you..?”
  2783. >You nod, so she opens the book, and turns several pages before arriving on the first chapter.
  2784. >”...I-In a hole in th-the ground there l-lived a hobbit...Not a-a nasty, d-dirty, wet hole, f-filled with the e-ends of worms a-and an oozy smell, n-nor yet a-a dry, bare, sandy h-hole with nothing i-in it t-to sit down on o-or to eat: it w-was a hobbit-hole, a-and that means c-comfort…”
  2785. >This is the fist time hearing her read aloud.
  2786. >She isn’t half-bad at it either, ignoring her stutter of course.
  2787. >Slowly, a sort of relaxation begins to settle in.
  2788. >It’s… comfy?
  2789. >Yeah, that is right word to describe it.
  2790. >Could get used to more reading sessions like these.
  2791. >Heck, it might even be a better way to read.
  2792. >Although unlike her, you’re not really into the book as much as she is.
  2793. >Regardless, she’s clearly happy with sharing it while reading on.
  2794. >At the end of the day, her happiness is all that matters.
  2795. >Every so often, she peeks up to you, then she’ll go back to her place on the page.
  2796. >Feels like time itself is slipping away while you both sit here.
  2797. >In addition to her reading, the sound of rain is really helping mellow things out further.
  2798. >It’s making all previous worries seemingly forgettable.
  2799.  
  2800. >The she progresses into the story, the more your eyes grow heavier.
  2801. >Figures this would become too relaxed in this setting.
  2802. >Despite trying, you fail to hold back a long yawn.
  2803. >You even attempt to mask it by covering your mouth with a free hand.
  2804. >Minky must’ve noticed however, because she stops reading to look at you.
  2805. >”...Oh n-no, is the s-story boring, A-Anon..?”
  2806. >You wave your hand.
  2807. “No it’s not, I’m just really relaxed at the moment.”
  2808. >Her expression softens, and she tilts her head cutely.
  2809. >”...Y-you’re relaxed b-by my reading..?”
  2810. “That and the sound of the rain I guess. It really is making me feel comfortable.”
  2811. >She nods with a small smile.
  2812. >”...I’m h-happy to h-hear that...”
  2813. >Returning with a smile of your own, you lightly pat her side.
  2814. “I gotta get up if I’m going to make it through this book, otherwise I might pass out.”
  2815. >She scoots back enough to let you stand up, and lightly stretch.
  2816. “Be right back.”
  2817. >She nods as you momentarily leave the room.
  2818. >A quick stop into the kitchen for snacks and drink later, and you’re already returning to her.
  2819. >”...Th-that was f-fast…”
  2820. “I just needed to get some stuff while I stretched my legs.”
  2821. >”...Are y-you sure that will b-be enough..?”
  2822. “Worse case scenario, you’ll wake me up by poking my side.”
  2823. >She giggles as you retake your spot.
  2824. >”...Mhm…”
  2825. “Right, so where were we?”
  2826. >Minky broadly smiles, then turns her attention back to the book.
  2827. >She turns several pages in rapid succession before going back to her current place.
  2828. >”...W-we’re almost done w-with chapter one…”
  2829. “Ah, this is gonna be a long one then?”
  2830. >”...It’s only th-three hundred a-and ten pages, A-Anon…”
  2831. >She says that like it’s nothing.
  2832. >All that means is it’s another long day into the night; one shared with Minky.
  2833.  
  2834. ***
  2835.  
  2836. >While rubbing your chin in thought, you scroll further down the thread.
  2837. >The worry about Minky won’t go away, so answers are being searched for.
  2838. >From what has been gathered thus far, the deviations she’s been having are completely normal.
  2839. >In short: the more time a companion droid spend with their owner, the more they bond and shape their personalities.
  2840. >That answer does little in the way of lessening how rapid those changes have been.
  2841. >Shaking your head, you tear away from the monitor to look over at her.
  2842. >Minky’s at the table, happily working on yet another piece of art.
  2843. >Really need to get her some more art supplies when the next chance comes.
  2844. >Now’s as good as anytime to ask her about the plans for later.
  2845. “Hey, Minky, got a moment? Need to ask you something.”
  2846. >She sets down her crayon, then devotes her entire attention to you with a smile.
  2847. >”...Yes, A-Anon..?”
  2848. “I was thinking about taking a ride later to drop this stuff off, want to join me?”
  2849. >You thumb over to the totes you set off to the side.
  2850. >Her eyes briefly flicker to them before going back to you.
  2851. >”...Where a-are you dropping th-them off at..?”
  2852. “I’m bringing them over to my parents, they wanted them.”
  2853. >”...Oh, d-do I have t-to meet th-them..?”
  2854. “Only if you want to, but I’d like for you to meet them eventually.”
  2855. >Hopefully, that didn’t come out something demanding, because you’d rather have her come willingly.
  2856. >She sits there quietly for a spell while mulling it over.
  2857. >There is little doubt that mom will adore her.
  2858. >Dad will… well, be dad, and probably not pay her much mind.
  2859. >That’s just how he is – usually acknowledging something, then that’s about it.
  2860. >It would be good to see how he’s holding up since the funeral.
  2861. >A small smile forms on Minky’s lip, and she starts to nod.
  2862. >”...Y-yes, I’d like t-to go…”
  2863. “Cool.”
  2864. >In spite of the simple response, you’re pretty excited with her answer.
  2865. >After all, this is the first big step in getting her used to other people, even if it is just your parents.
  2866.  
  2867. >”...When w-will we be l-leaving..?”
  2868. “I figure a little later, but I’m gonna message mom first to find out when they’ll be home. Plus I want to finish up my search on the net.”
  2869. >”...Okay…”
  2870. >She nods, then goes back to coloring once more.
  2871. >You pull out your phone, and send a quick message to mom.
  2872. >Again, the forums are turned for answers.
  2873. >Lo and behold, there’s one here about booping Minky.
  2874. >It’s a typical feature of most companion droids, and completely harmless as well, because it just gives them a temporary pause like witnessed.
  2875. >Glad that worry is no more.
  2876. >Now that you know what it does, you’ll save booping for times to calm her down, or… if you’re feeling devilish.
  2877. >Continuing to read on, a blip pops up, which shows another reply about her deviation.
  2878. >However, it’s the same answer as the rest…
  2879. >At this point, it should just be accepted that she is going to keep changing.
  2880. >Especially if everyone else keeps saying the same answer.
  2881. >Another response arrives, though this time it’s a guy with a pony companion droid of his own.
  2882. >He says he once has the same fear when he first got his friend, but that changed in time.
  2883. >Considering everyone has more experience than you in the matter, you should come to terms with this now.
  2884. >Because although it’s uncertain of much she’ll change, you’ll stick with her.
  2885. >She is your friend – no – best friend at this point.
  2886. >Glancing back, she’s still hard at work with her art.
  2887. >She makes you happy – happier than you’ve been in a /long/ time.
  2888. >Seeing her work like that brings an idea to do while waiting on mom.
  2889. >Leaving behind the computer, you join Minky at the table, then grab a pencil and paper.
  2890. >”...W-what are y-you doing..?”
  2891. “Imma draw as well.”
  2892. >Her eyes slowly widen as she watches you get to work.
  2893. >”...I’ve n-never seen you d-draw before, A-Anon…”
  2894.  
  2895. >You give an idle nod while drawing some simple things from around the room.
  2896. “That’s because I rarely do it. I’ll usually doodle something when I have nothing to do, but I’m not much of an artist.”
  2897. >”...I-I see...I’m sure y-your art isn-t that b-bad…”
  2898. >Chuckle, then shake your head while continuing to make simple little sketches.
  2899. “They tend to look like something a druggie high on dope would make.”
  2900. >…
  2901. >Wait.
  2902. >Anon, why the fuck did you say that?
  2903. >Minky’s gone silent.
  2904. >Looking up at her, she’s got a blank expression on her face.
  2905. >Quick, try recover this!
  2906. “Er… it just looks bad.”
  2907. >That’s a terrible excuse.
  2908. >”...O-okay…”
  2909. >Wow, can’t believe that wo-
  2910. >”...A-Anon, what i-is a d-druggie..?”
  2911. >Aw goddammit!
  2912. >What the fuck can you say, feed her a lie?
  2913. >No, not only would it be wrong, but she’s gonna find out sooner or later.
  2914. >She’s waiting on an answers, so think think of one to actually tell her.
  2915. >How do you put this delicately?
  2916. >A full explanation doesn’t feel comfortable just yet.
  2917. >In that case, keep it simple and short enough for her to get the gist.
  2918. “It’s someone who has lost control of their life to a really bad /medicine/ that they can’t stop taking, because they believe they need it.”
  2919. >Blinking, she slowly nods.
  2920. >”...O-oh, I s-see…”
  2921. >You breath out a sigh of relief.
  2922. >Really need to remember to filter yourself before speaking like that again.
  2923. >Though this just goes to show that you’ve become comfortable enough around her to speak freely.
  2924. >Still, she’s quite innocent, so you intend to keep it that way for as long as possible.
  2925. >Since she’s back to coloring again, you return to working on your own stuff.
  2926. >Well, less like drawing, more like odd sketches – your phone, the computer, the TV, etc.
  2927. >Far from original to be honest.
  2928. >Do you not have a creative bone in your body?
  2929. >Terrible question, remember the *castle* made in Minecraft.
  2930.  
  2931. >Considering that Minky couldn’t tell what it was, that should be all the proof needed.
  2932. >Alright, what else can be drawn?
  2933. >Looking around carefully, you settle your gaze on Minky.
  2934. >Seriously, do you believe that you could try to draw her?
  2935. >Screw it, it’s worth a try.
  2936. >Keyword, try.
  2937. >The days of art class are recalled, with simple shapes taking form.
  2938. >Slowly, they start to come together, which eventually, begins to resemble her.
  2939. >Your line work leaves a lot to be desired, it looks shaky.
  2940. >While darkening them up, your phone goes off on the desk.
  2941. >Going to ignore it for now, instead, focusing on the drawing.
  2942. >”...A-Anon..?”
  2943. “Hm?”
  2944. >”...Your p-phone went o-off…”
  2945. “I know, I just want to finish this first.”
  2946. >”...W-what are y-you drawing..?”
  2947. >A quick glance up reveals her trying to peek at your work.
  2948. >Before it can be spoiled, you cover it up with your hands.
  2949. “I’ll show you when I’m done.”
  2950. >She furrows her brow with a tilt of her head.
  2951. >”...It c-can’t be that bad, A-Anon…”
  2952. >From there, Minky starts moving around to get a better look at it, so you hug it to your chest.
  2953. >Smirking, you shoot her a glare.
  2954. “Oi, let me finish it at least.”
  2955. >She covers her mouth with her hoof as she giggles.
  2956. >”...Okay, I-I’ll stop…”
  2957. >Watching her carefully, she goes back to coloring once more.
  2958. >After you’re certain of it, you pick up where you left off.
  2959. >Currently, this is a bit better that what you usually draw.
  2960. >Still plenty of room for improvement, though.
  2961. >It isn’t much longer that it’;s about as done as it can be, so you leave it to check your phone.
  2962. >Mom replied back that they will be home all day.
  2963. “Alright, you can look now.”
  2964. >Smiling, a simple message is sent back before you look over to Minky.
  2965. >Her mane obscures most of her face, so it’s difficult to properly judge her reaction.
  2966. >Worse, she hasn’t said anything either, which is probably because just like your *castle*, she can’t tell what it is.
  2967.  
  2968. >You softly sigh with the shake of your head.
  2969. “Told you it’s pretty bad.”
  2970. >”...N-no it i-isn’t…”
  2971. >Slowly, she raises her head, and is sporting the largest smile you’ve seen her have.
  2972. >”...You d-drew me..!”
  2973. >Before a response can be hand, she darts over in a flash, and rears up, then hugs your waist tightly.
  2974. >You take a step back from her unexpected outburst, but manage to keep steady.
  2975. >Letting out a chuckle, you pet her mane.
  2976. “Yes I did. I guess the drawing isn’t that bad then?”
  2977. >”...I-It’s wonderful, A-Anon..!”
  2978. >Hearing her praise really makes today all the more better.
  2979. >As you continue to pet her, she nuzzles you gently.
  2980. >Never seen her so affectionate.
  2981. >Then again, she is happy that you made her something.
  2982. >She turns her head upwards, and is staring at you with that same large smile.
  2983. >”...You n-need to draw w-with me more..!”
  2984. “Sure, I’d like that.”
  2985. >Shifting slightly in place, she utters a little cheer.
  2986. “But that’ll have to wait till later, we should be getting ready to go soon.”
  2987. >”...O-okay..!”
  2988. >She gives one final squeeze before letting go, then trots over to put away the art supplies.
  2989. “Hey wait, what did you make?”
  2990. >Pausing, she picks up her picture to show you.
  2991. >”...It’s C-Canterlot...I’m n-not done coloring i-it…”
  2992. >Just like the previous picture of hers, there’s a greater amount of improvement.
  2993. >The shading wasn’t finished however, but that matters little from how good it is.
  2994. >Nodding, you give her a thumbs up.
  2995. “Great work as always, Minky.”
  2996. >Beaming brightly, she sets it down before going back to putting the things away.
  2997. >While she does that, you start loading the totes into the car.
  2998. >Thankfully, these are not all that heavy when compared to the stuff at work.
  2999. >That makes this much easier to get done quickly.
  3000. >As the last one is brought out, Minky follows you out with it.
  3001. >”...S-so what a-are your parents like, A-Anon..?”
  3002. “They’re great, I’m sure you’ll like them, mom especially.”
  3003. >After putting the final tote in, you let Minky in the passenger side, then buckle her in.
  3004.  
  3005. >You start up the car, pullout off the driveway, then drive off onto the road.
  3006. >”...Okay, w-what about y-your dad..?”
  3007. “He’s a little… complicated.”
  3008. >”...H-how so..?”
  3009. >Keeping your eyes on the road, you work your jaw in thought.
  3010. “Dad can be pretty stoic at times, so it makes it hard to get a read on him.”
  3011. >”...So h-he doesn’t e-express himself th-that much..?”
  3012. “More or less, he always did let me know that he does care about me when I was growing up. But yeah, he tends to follow the stereotypical man, ya know?”
  3013. >”...N-No, I d-don’t...”
  3014. >Should’ve known she wouldn’t understand.
  3015. “You will eventually, but I’m sure you’ll like him once you get to know him.”
  3016. >”...Mhm…”
  3017. >From the corner of your eye, Minky is peering around excitedly, just like the last time she went out.
  3018. >Glad to see her still having that look of wonder with something so simple as a car ride.
  3019. >Kinda hoping that wonder won’t go away she meets the parents.
  3020. >Before long, you find yourself slowly pulling up to the house you grew up in.
  3021. >This place never changes; it still has the same white exterior and black hoof it always has had.
  3022. >Often, it feels like this is a time capsule.
  3023. >Both of your parent’s vehicles are in the driveway, so you park out front.
  3024. “So here we are.”
  3025. >Minky looks over the house, then to you.
  3026. >”...Wow…”
  3027. >Of course, she thinks that, this place looks way better in condition than the home you two share.
  3028. >Still gotta get around to fixing it up, but that will happen in due time.
  3029. >”...A-Anon..?”
  3030. “Yeah?”
  3031. >”...I’m n-nervous…”
  3032. “It’s going to be all right, I’ll be right there with you the whole time.”
  3033. >”...B-but what i-if you need t-to use th-the bathroom..?...I’ll b-be alone th-then…”
  3034. >You give a small laugh, and shake your head.
  3035. “I promise everything will be fine, my parents are harmless.”
  3036. >”...O-okay, if y-you say s-so…”
  3037. >Although she says that, she’s still lightly shaking.
  3038.  
  3039. >The best solution is for her to meet them, and go from there.
  3040. “You ready?”
  3041. >”...Mhmm…”
  3042. >You unbuckle her, and get out, then the two of you walk to the front door.
  3043. >Pausing, you let out a slow breath, then look to her.
  3044. “Show time.”
  3045. >She furrows her brow, but starts shifting in place as you knock.
  3046. >Mere moments after, the door opens with mom greeting you.
  3047. >”Anonymous!”
  3048. >Almost immediately, you’re pulled in a warm hug.
  3049. “Hey, mom.”
  3050. >”I’m so glad to see you, come in!”
  3051. >She lets go, then retreats inside as you chuckle.
  3052. >You look over to Minky, only to find her standing a little further away.
  3053. “Are you all right?”
  3054. >She slowly steps forward, and gives a small nod.
  3055. >”...I’m still n-nervous, but I-I’ll be okay…”
  3056. >At least she’s trying, so that’s good.
  3057. >The moment you enter the living room, you spot dad on his laptop.
  3058. >”What are you up to?”
  3059. “Hey, dad. I came to drop the totes off like I said I would.”
  3060. >He nods, though his eyes are still glued to the screen.
  3061. >Mom comes in from the other room, and freezes upon seeing Minky.
  3062. >”Anonymous, who is that with you?”
  3063. >That finally draws away from the computer to see what’s going on.
  3064. “Mom, dad, this is Minky. She’s my companion droid.”
  3065. >Mom adopts a smile.
  3066. >”It’s very nice to meet you, Minky, I’m Anonymous’s mother.”
  3067. >”...H-hello…”
  3068. >Minky’s shyly hiding behind her mane, and shifting from one hoof to the other.
  3069. >”Oh she’s so precious!”
  3070. >”How did you afford her, Anon?”
  3071. >Yep, knew dad would say that.
  3072. “I couldn’t, she was uncle’s.”
  3073. >Nodding, he sets aside the laptop, then walks over to you.
  3074. >Dad gives a quick pat on your shoulder, and looks over to see mom approaching Minky.
  3075. >”So how about you tell me about yourself, dear?”
  3076. >Minky glances your way with a slight bit of concern, so you nod for some reassurance.
  3077. >”...I l-like to m-make art, r-read, and w-watch My L-little Pony...”
  3078. >”Those sound like good hobbies to have. What kind of art do you make?”
  3079. >”...I d-draw and color p-pictures usually, but I-I have made sculptures a-as well..!”
  3080.  
  3081. >”Wow, you should bring some of them with you next time you two drop by.”
  3082. >Minky looks back to you excitedly.
  3083. >”..C-can I, A-Anon..?”
  3084. “Well, yeah, I don’t see why not.”
  3085. >She lets a small cheer before talking with mom again.
  3086. >While they’re distracted dad starts to talk to you.
  3087. >”So, Nemo actually bought one?”
  3088. “It’s a little more complicated than that.”
  3089. >”Well, I’ve got the time for you explain it.”
  3090. “Long story short, he built her.”
  3091. >Dad blinks slowly, then looks to her, and back to you a few times.
  3092. >”Huh, he built her? Didn’t think you could build one.”
  3093. >You let out a little laugh, and shake your head.
  3094. “Yeah, you wouldn’t believe how many people build companion droids, dad. It’s insane to be honest.”
  3095. >He nods again, and crosses his arms as he watches her and mom.
  3096. >”I see.”
  3097. “How have you been, dad?”
  3098. >”I’m… I’m doing, one day at a time. Was going to ask you the same thing funny enough.”
  3099. “Heh, talk about a coincidence. I’m doing a lot better, Minky’s been helping me throughout it all.”
  3100. >He arches a brow as he looks back to you.
  3101. >”How so?”
  3102. “She’s my friend, so I’ve been spending my time with her. We’ve watched movies, read books, taken walks, stuff like that.”
  3103. >Dad shrugs, then turns his attention back to the other two.
  3104. >You watch on as well; mom and Minky are getting along quite well as expected.
  3105. >”...W-we were d-drawing before w-we got here…”
  3106. >”What did you two draw?”
  3107. >”...I m-made Canterlot c-castle, and A-Anon drew me..!”
  3108. >”Oh really?”
  3109. >”...Mhm..!”
  3110. >Dad starts talking again.
  3111. >”So I’m guessing the stutter isn’t normal?”
  3112. “Yeah, that’s something she’s slowly getting better on.”
  3113. >”She learns?”
  3114. “Well yeah, she is an AGI dad.”
  3115. >”Huh, cool.”
  3116. >Despite him saying that, you know that he actually doesn’t get it.
  3117. >That’s nothing new, though, because he often would come to you about computers or phones in general.
  3118. >His typical solution to a computer problem was checking if the cords were loose.
  3119. >While you’re not tech wizard, you definitely know more than him.
  3120. >”So how about we get those totes?”
  3121.  
  3122. “Sure.”
  3123. >The two of you leave mom and Minky alone to handle the unloading.
  3124. >Throughout it, he remains silent.
  3125. >It would have been nice to have him open up, but that’s just how he always is.
  3126. >Each time you return with a tote, you see mom and Minky chatting along like they were old friends.
  3127. >She’s so giddy to have someone else to talk to, it’s wonderful that she came along for this.
  3128. >By the time the last of the totes are brought in, mom and Minky have retreated into the kitchen.
  3129. >You stand in the doorway while watching the pair, with Minky having her back to you while mom is finishing up something with her.
  3130. >”...S-so how i-is it..?”
  3131. >”I think you look beautiful.”
  3132. >”...R-really..?”
  3133. >Gently nodding, mom peers up and sees you, then slowly smiles.
  3134. >”Of course I do, how about you show Anonymous?”
  3135. >Minky turns around in glee, but instantly freezes upon seeing you standing there.
  3136. >”...U-uh...hi, A-Anon…”
  3137. >Mom applied some makeup to her, and even put a hair clip in her mane.
  3138. >Letting out a whistle, you lean against the doorframe.
  3139. “Well, don’t you look pretty.”
  3140. >Her eyes start darting about as she quietly mumbles something, and starts to twiddle her hooves.
  3141. >Meanwhile, mom watches the scene unfold with a wide smile.
  3142. >This opportunity is too precious to waste, so you pull out your phone, then snap a picture.
  3143. >As it audibly clicks, Minky’s eyes widen, and she utters a sharp gasp.
  3144. >”...Y-you took a-a picture of m-me..?”
  3145. “I’d rather not forget this, so I’m saving it for later.”
  3146. >Shifting in the chair, she starts mumbling again.
  3147. >You come over, and start petting her mane, all the while chuckling lightly.
  3148. “I think it’s a good look on you, Minky.”
  3149. >”...You r-really think so, A-Anon..?”
  3150. “That I do.”
  3151. >What sounds like a squee escapes her, which draws your smile wider.
  3152. >It’s times like these that must be held onto – ones that cannot be forgotten as long as you shall live.
  3153.  
  3154. ***
  3155.  
  3156. >It’s really starting to feel like the days are bleeding together more and more.
  3157. >Not that it’s minded, as it’s nice to know that life is starting to have some semblance of normality again.
  3158. >Because in spite of everything that has happened, there were some things that you did not know were missing from it.
  3159. >Some were even managed to be discovered along the way, with the most notable being Minky.
  3160. >Currently, you’re playing Minecraft while she watches.
  3161. >She’s still wearing the hair clip mom gave her, and it suits her well.
  3162. >It really gives her an extra bit of cuteness, too.
  3163. >Unsurprisingly, she doesn’t want to part from the little accessory.
  3164. >Of course, it’s not like you would ever take it from her to begin with.
  3165. >Shame that makeup she was wearing was much more stubborn…
  3166. >Removing that was in a word: nightmarish.
  3167. >Honestly, that shouldn’t have come as much of a shock, because makeup and fur do NOT mix.
  3168. “So what do you think of it so far, Boss?”
  3169. >”...You should a-add in more d-details to help b-break it up, A-Anon...It l-looks rather p-plain…”
  3170. >After flying around the building a few times, you nod with her assessment.
  3171. “Yeah, I can see what you mean.”
  3172. >Although this is quite fun, you really want to introduce her to other games soon.
  3173. >However, that should be done gradually, as to preserve her innocence for as long as possible.
  3174. >That’s ultimately a futile task, but it doesn’t hurt to try, anyways.
  3175. >Even more so since both games, and reality, can be quite harsh.
  3176. >Aside from that, there’s a whole lot unknown about the full extent of her gaming skills.
  3177. >Considering her current technical advantages, she’ll likely curb stomp you in any fighting game.
  3178. >Maybe that’s an exaggeration, because she still has to fully learn how to utilize the characters.
  3179. >It’s much like how she had to learn how to bake those cookies from the other day.
  3180. >But, her first attempt was amazing; they were so soft and delicious.
  3181. >In fact, you could really go for one right about now…
  3182. >Or two… or several…
  3183. >”...Uh, A-Anon..?”
  3184. >Shaking out of that dreamy thought, you look over at Minky, and realize you must’ve spaced out.
  3185.  
  3186. “Yeah ‘sup?”
  3187. >”...U-um, not to sound r-rude, but y-you’re drooling a bit…”
  3188. “Oh sorry about that.”
  3189. >You wipe your mouth with a sleeve, then go right back to playing again.
  3190. >”...I t-take it you’re feeling h-hungry..?”
  3191. “A little… I was just thinking about those wonderful cookies from the other day.”
  3192. >She giggles, and lightly pokes your side.
  3193. >”...W-Why didn’t y-you say so..?...I c-can go bake some r-right now if you w-want…”
  3194. >That does sound like quite a tempting offer, and there’s no doubt that they will be just as amazing as before.
  3195. >Yet, you’d rather not spoil yourself before dinner.
  3196. “Probably later, I still need your supervision for this monstrosity.”
  3197. >”...But I-I can do b-both...Besides, it i-isn’t a m-monstrosity…”
  3198. “You sure about that?”
  3199. >”...Mhm, I-I can tell w-what it is this t-time…”
  3200. >Ouch.
  3201. “Oh really now? Then tell me what I’m building.”
  3202. >”...Th-That’s easy, i-it’s a house…”
  3203. >Probably should have thought that through, especially since how obvious it is, plus the fact that she’s been watching the entire time.
  3204. “Lucky guess…”
  3205. >Giggling again, she shakes her head.
  3206. >”...No i-it wasn’t, it’s n-not that h-hard to tell, A-Anon…”
  3207. “You don’t know that, this could’ve been some piece of modern art for all you know.”
  3208. >”...I-I’ve never seen a-any modern art before…”
  3209. “Be thankful you haven’t, many of them look terrible.”
  3210. >”...Why’s th-that..?”
  3211. >There’s a small cringe that crosses your face as the last piece you recall seeing comes about.
  3212. >It honestly looked someone took a dump on a canvas and called it art.
  3213. >Shouldn’t tell her that, though.
  3214. “Let’s just say that some look like something that you’d find in a toilet rather than on a wall.”
  3215. >”...E-Ew, that’s d-disgusting...Why w-would anyone call th-that art..?”
  3216. >Shrugging, you work on adding in a chimney onto the house.
  3217. “Beats me, some people can be pretty strange.”
  3218. >”...Like y-you..?”
  3219. “Yeah.”
  3220. >…
  3221. >Wait a second.
  3222. >Pausing from building a moment, you look at her.
  3223. >Her eyes are on the screen, but the mischievous smiling she’s wearing says plenty.
  3224.  
  3225. >Still not playing, you continue to stare hard, but she doesn’t falter in the slightest.
  3226. >This cheeky little shit, she knows what she did.
  3227. >This calls for immediate action!
  3228. “Minky look.”
  3229. >”...H-Hm..?”
  3230. >Just as she turns her head, your hand shoots forth, and your index finger lands squarely upon her muzzle.
  3231. >*boop*
  3232. >Like last time, she freezes, with her internal humming briefly growing louder.
  3233. >Some satisfaction has been granted, so you return to the game while she processes the situation.
  3234. >This house is really starting to come together thanks to her advice.
  3235. >It really helps to ha-
  3236. >”...H-Hey..!”
  3237. >Not even flinching, the first reply comes about without any hesitation.
  3238. “Hay is for horses, grass is cheaper.”
  3239. >”...You d-did that on p-purpose..!”
  3240. >Sounds like she’s too peeved to care about the dad joke.
  3241. >Oh well.
  3242. “You can’t prove that.”
  3243. >A sound similar to a growl escapes from her, which draws a chuckle out of you.
  3244. “Did you just growl?”
  3245. >”...A-Anon…”
  3246. >Figures she’d ignore the question, so you peek at her from the corner of your sight.
  3247. >Her muzzle is scrunched up fiercely, with her glaring daggers at you.
  3248. “That’s my name, yes.”
  3249. >”...You b-booped me a-again…”
  3250. “...and if I did?”
  3251. >She utters another cute little growl, which finally breaks you into laughing.
  3252. >”...I-It’s not s-supposed to be f-funny...”
  3253. “No… pft, you’re right. Snrk, it’s not funny, it’s adorable.”
  3254. >”...I’m g-gonna get y-you back f-for that…”
  3255. “Ahaha! I’d like to see you try!”
  3256. >Your laughter continues for a while longer, though as you start calming down, her silence becomes notable.
  3257. >After wiping away the tears, you look at her, but in that second, she launches her assault.
  3258. “Whoa there!”
  3259. >Very briefly, there’s a surge of panic.
  3260. >However, it ends as quickly as it starts once you realize she’s attempting to tickle you.
  3261. >”...T-Take that..!”
  3262. “Stand and deliver!”
  3263. >Though try as you might to fight back, this isn’t a battle that can be won for one solitary reason.
  3264. >She isn’t ticklish, at all.
  3265. “Ahahah! Not-haha-fair!”
  3266.  
  3267. >”...Yes i-it is..!...I-I told y-you I would g-get you back..!”
  3268. >Her smaller size doesn’t impede her attacks at all.
  3269. >What’s worse, she finds your weak points and unrelentingly capitalizes on them.
  3270. >”...W-Who’s adorable now, A-Anon..?!”
  3271. “Ahaha-you-ahaha-you’re still-haha-are!”
  3272. >Minky is still scrunched hard, and she utters more cute growls.
  3273. >As her attack continues, you’re quickly reaching your limit as it starts to hurt to laugh.
  3274. “O-haha-okay! I-ahah-I give!”
  3275. >”...Oh r-really..?”
  3276. “Hahaha-yes! Haha I give!”
  3277. >At last, she stops, and sits back with an aura of smugness.
  3278. >It takes some time to recover, but it was worth the high of happiness.
  3279. >The casualties include: your sides, and your pride.
  3280. >Dammit, you needed both of those!
  3281. >But the worst part is now she knows your weaknesses.
  3282. >Sure, you still have the power of the boop, but snow she has evened the playing field quite a bit.
  3283. >Despite that, everything feels clear, and there’s a swell of joy in your chest.
  3284. >Times like these are reminiscent of when you and your friends would fuck around.
  3285. >There was so much shit talk, ass kicking, the works.
  3286. >Good times, good times…
  3287. >Those days are sorely missed, but some of that has been captured.
  3288. >Feeling much more at ease, you look at her.
  3289. >She’s still sitting there, with a large toothy smile plastered across her face.
  3290. “As fun as that was, I’m gonna go stretch my legs and check the mail.”
  3291. >”...W-Why didn’t you g-get it earlier..?...Y-You’re not p-planning anything, a-are you..?”
  3292. “I didn’t think about it then, and I don’t plan on anything.”
  3293. >Not a complete lie, however, you definitely are going to plan out your revenge.
  3294. >For now, just need to bide your time.
  3295. >Minky attempts to glare at you to break your composure, but unlike before, you hold fast.
  3296. >”...O-Okay…”
  3297. >Smiling as you exit onto the porch, a cool breeze graces your form.
  3298. >Feels like fall is starting to make it’s approach soon if that’s anything to go by.
  3299. >Regardless, it is a good day as any, with plenty of time to enjoy it while it lasts.
  3300. >The warm sunlight bathes over you while you walk over to the mailbox.
  3301.  
  3302. >Sometimes, it’s moments like these that it feels like your life is some kind of story.
  3303. >…
  3304. >Pfft, yeah right!
  3305. >If that were the case, then it would be drawn out, boring, and mostly ridden with garbage.
  3306. >Chuckling at that thought, you reach the mailbox, and start going through it.
  3307. >For the most part, it’s the usual of junk mail, along with a few bills.
  3308. >Just as you go to turn back, you notice a stray box sitting at the base of the mailbox.
  3309. “How’d I miss that?”
  3310. >It doesn’t matter, because some hope surges within as it is picked up, then checked.
  3311. >Sadly, it’s the parts ordered.
  3312. >Really thought that those would’ve arrived by now…
  3313. >It’s not like anything can be done about it other than continuing to wait.
  3314. >Shouldn’t get worked up over it, though it’s hard not to, as you tend to worry way /too/ much.
  3315. >Despite it not being the parts, this package is still something grand; it was a fortunate find the other day.
  3316. >With a lighter, more hastened step, you return inside.
  3317. >While setting aside the mail, Milk curiously peers at you from the couch.
  3318. >”...D-Did we get a-anything important..?”
  3319. “Mostly junk and some bills, but there was something else.”
  3320. >”...Oh..?”
  3321. >Find it hard to contain your smile as you approach her with package in hand.
  3322. “I got something for you.”
  3323. >Her eyes quickly widen as they flicker from you to the package.
  3324. >”...F-For me..?”
  3325. >Nodding, you take a seat next to her, and hand it over.
  3326. >”...What i-is it, A-Anon..?”
  3327. “How about you open it up and see for yourself?”
  3328. >She excitedly giggles while she gets to work on opening up the package.
  3329. >Takes her a bit effort, but she managing well enough.
  3330. >Watching on, your smile grows.
  3331. >Already know how she’s going to reaction, but damn, it will be worth seeing.
  3332. >Upon opening it, she stops, then lets out a sharp gasp.
  3333. >”...I-Is this a-a gaming p-pad..?”
  3334. “Yep, it sure is. Got pretty lucky the other day while I was browsing the net.”
  3335. >Without warning, she wraps her forelegs around you in a hug.
  3336. >”...Th-Thank you s-so much, A-Anon..!”
  3337. >You chuckle as you return the hug and pet her mane gently.
  3338. “You’re welcome, Minky.”
  3339.  
  3340. >Fortunately, the pad was both old and used, so it wasn’t nearly as expensive as it could have been.
  3341. >You’re confident she was feeling bored and left out from watching the game played, rather than being able to participate herself.
  3342. “As much as I enjoy your hugs, wanna give the game pad a whirl?”
  3343. >She pulls her head back from your chest, and looks up at you with those big purple eyes of hers.
  3344. >”...Can I-I really..?”
  3345. “No, I was hoping we could let it collect dust on the shelf.”
  3346. >Her brow furrows, and her muzzle scrunches.
  3347. >”...Y-You’re being s-sarcastic, aren’t y-you..?”
  3348. >Rolling your eyes, you chuckle with a nod.
  3349. “Yes, yes I am, you should absolutely try it out right now.”
  3350. >She loudly cheers, then gives you final squeeze before letting you out of the hug.
  3351. >If she keeps being this sweet you’re going to end up diabetic.
  3352. >You’re still in a bit of pain from how much both your face and sides hurt.
  3353. >All of that is from the smiling and laughter, of course.
  3354. >Setting up the pad is as easy as plugging it in, but it would be better if it were a wireless controller, rather than a wired one.
  3355. >Couldn’t avoid that with it being an older model, though.
  3356. >That doesn’t make a difference honestly, because as long as it works, then what matters if it’s dated?
  3357. “There, that should be about it, wanna give the controls a quick test?”
  3358. >”...Mhmm…”
  3359. >Her eyes flicker between the pad and the screen; then she starts testing out the joysticks and buttons.
  3360. >The game reacts as expected, so you nod, and give her a thumbs up.
  3361. “So what game do you wanna try out first?
  3362. >”...U-Um… what w-would be