GREEN 223
/bootleg/ Minky (WIP)

By NHanon on 23rd October 2020 07:02:32 PM

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

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