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Snugglefire (Complete)

By Lurkernon
Created: 20th December 2020 02:47:38 AM

  1. Originally published in May 2015
  2.  
  3. Prompt:
  4. >tfw you will never sneak into her office and find Spitfire asleep at her desk after a long, tiring day.
  5. >tfw you will never pick her up and carry her off to get some proper rest.
  6. >tfw you will never arrive in to her room only to find out she's attached herself to your arm in her sleep and won't let go.
  7. >tfw you will never sit down and hold her in your lap, promising you'll wake her up in five minutes.
  8. >tfw you'll never fall asleep too, and end up staying the whole night with her curled on top of you.
  9. >tfw she'll never be tunsdere as fuck when she wakes up in the morning.
  10.  
  11. --------
  12.  
  13. "Spitfire?"
  14. > No, not in there...
  15. "Hey Spitfire, need to check with you about something..."
  16. > Damn, which of these offices was she hiding in?
  17. "You there, Spitfire?"
  18. > No, she wasn't in there either.
  19. > That leaves just...
  20. > You glance down the hallway to the simple wood-panel doorway at the absolute end - one strikingly simple for what lay beyond it.
  21. "...guess she must be hiding out in her office again..."
  22. > Not that you blamed her.
  23. > When you were captain of the most prestigious flying team in Equestria, you needed a place you could retreat to - a private spot where no pesky intruders could get to you.
  24. > Which, you suppose, you were about to casually violate the purpose of.
  25. > But she'd forgive you.
  26. > Probably.
  27. "Hey, Spitfire?"
  28. > Your knuckles rap on the door, failing to yield any response from the occupant within.
  29. "Spitfire, I really got to talk to you. It's fast, I promise."
  30. > Still no response; against your better urges, you nudge the wooden door open.
  31. "Sorry, Spitfire, but I got t-"
  32. > Oh.
  33. > The apology dies in your throat as the sight before you drags a small smile to your lips.
  34. > The sun had long since set, leaving little light to creep in from the innumerable floating lanterns that lit Cloudsdale's skyways.
  35. > Except for a small lamp on the desk, the room was cast in darkness - a little pool of light, centered on the form of the amber-coated Wonderbolts' captain.
  36. > Spitfire was indeed in her office.
  37. > She was slumped over her desk in an orange-and-red ball, though - eyes closed and cheek resting on some half-completed forms, a pot of ink mercifully left upright nearby.
  38. > Chuckling softly, you shake your head as you slip the rest of the way into the cluttered office - dodging innumerable trophies, boxes of paper records, and dozens of other random objects scattered about the room.
  39. > Who'd have guessed the perfectionist captain of the Wonderbolts kept such a messy private office?
  40.  
  41. > Speaking of the captain...
  42. > Nudging Spitfire's sleeping form slightly only yields a particularly impressive snore from her.
  43. > She's definitely out of it; poor mare's probably been up for two days straight after her last tour...
  44. > You'll just have to ask her in the morning.
  45. > You're halfway back to the door when it occurs to you that it may not be entirely fair to leave Spitfire slumped over her desk.
  46. > Yeah, sure, she had work to be doing... but you knew from experience that position wasn't a comfortable one to be sleeping in
  47. > And more than anything else, Spitfire needed that rest.
  48. > But if you woke her up she'd go right back to work again.
  49. > Of course, there was another option...
  50. > She'd forgive you, right...?
  51. > Making your way back to her desk, you snap off the light - blinking a few times as your eyes take to the darkness - feel your way down to lift the slumbering pegasus from her seat.
  52. > The moment she's lifted, you're struck again by just how light - and small - she actually is.
  53. > Spitfire may be one of the fastest pegasi on the planet, but she's still barely half your size - her body nesting comfortably in your arms as her head occupies her shoulder.
  54. > Stepping carefully, you again retreat from the office.
  55. > A short-cloud bridge separates the administrative and residence wings of the headquarters; stepping out from the shadow of the larger cloud structure, you're unexpectedly struck by a burst of chill air.
  56. > While you shiver slightly, Spitfire doesn't seem to notice it whatsoever.
  57. > Indeed, for the first time you seem to realize how much she seems to radiate the warmth of her namesake.
  58. > Combined with the smooth sleekness of her coat, it actually felt... quite pleasant.
  59. > A moment later you shake your head; you weren't here to enjoy this, but to get the captain back to her room.
  60. > All the Wonderbolts had their own small rooms here for the times when they needed to stay overnight.
  61.  
  62.  
  63. > Spitfire's was occupied more often than not - workaholic that she was - and is already prepared when you gently nudge the door open with one foot.
  64. > Unlike the office, it is well lit by the glow of Luna's moon filtering in through a half-dozen huge floor-to-ceiling door-windows that allowed an excellent view of the cloud-city beyond.
  65. > Finding Spitfire's bed by the low light is easy enough, especially considering the room's otherwise spartan furnishings.
  66. > Seriously, for how much this mare seemed to live in the headquarters, you'd think she'd have done something for her room.
  67. > But no, there's nothing but the bed, a work desk, and a large chair set up before one of the windows.
  68. > Reaching the cloud-mattress, you move to lower her into a proper rest-
  69. > Oops.
  70. > Well, this is a problem.
  71. > At some point along the trip, Spitfire had locked her forehooves around one arm - clinging closely to it with strong, muscled legs.
  72. > She wasn't going to just slide off...
  73. "...hey, Spits?"
  74. > You try jostling her lightly, nudging her towards some level of wakefulness.
  75. "Spitfire, c'mon. I need to be getting to sleep as well..."
  76. > Her only reaction the flick of one ear, brushing against your cheek in a tickling softness.
  77. > It'd take more than that to wake her up...
  78. > With a groan you stand upright again, looking about the room for somewhere to sit.
  79. > Light for her size or not, Spitfire wasn't exactly featherweight.
  80. > Again your eyes fall on the chair set before a window.
  81. > It'd probably been made so a pony could lay down across it, making it the perfect size for you to plant your rear on.
  82. > The moment you do - relaxing your grip on Spitfire and allowing her to sink into your lap - she relaxes her deathgrip on your arm, apparently now finding it more convenient to stretch out across your legs.
  83. "...goddamnit, Spitfire..."
  84. > You shake your head, a slight grin on your lips.
  85. > Of course she'd let go now...
  86. > Urgh, whatever.
  87.  
  88. > It'd be a sin to wake someone as comfortable as she looks to be without allowing her some rest first.
  89. > Spitfire had rolled her rear hooves off to one side, allowing them to stretch out; one foreleg remained tucked beneath her while the other was similarly stretched against your leg.
  90. > Her mane become ruffled at some point - falling from its typical blown-back look to lay in a random mess over her head and neck.
  91. > Even as you watch she shifts again, wings ruffling a bit as her breathing grows gentler once more.
  92. > Yeah, no way you're waking that right now.
  93. > You'll give her... ten minutes, then get her into actual bed.
  94. > Besides, it's not a bad view out this window - you can see a lot of the Cloudsdale from here.
  95. > Although the breeze was once again chilly, the fact that you had an exceptionally soft source of warmth resting atop your legs helped to deal with that.
  96. > ...actually, this wasn't too bad at all.
  97. > If not for needing to get back to your own room at some point, you could just lay your head back and...
  98. > Just lay your head...
  99. > Just lay...
  100. > Just...
  101. > ...
  102. > "WHAT THE BUCK!"
  103. > It's not the sunlight that wakes you, streaming in through the windows.
  104. > Or the sudden scream.
  105. > No, mostly it's the amber wing battering against your chest and arms as Spitfire tries to free herself from your grasp.
  106. > "Who is - where - Anon? Anon?!
  107. "Spits? Hey, wait, listen, I can exoooourgh!"
  108. > A pair of hind-hooves are firmly planted in your gut as Spitfire kicks herself into the air, leaving you gasping for air and nearly doubled over.
  109. > "What do you think you're doing, Anon?! Were you just-"
  110. "Woah, woah! I just wanted to make sure you got a good rest, okay?"
  111. > Holding up your hands defensively, you try and ward off the angry pegasus long enough to get in a word edgewise.
  112. "I didn't do anything else! Just brought you back here, meant to let you sleep somewhere else than with your face right in your desk lamp, okay? That's it, I promise!"
  113.  
  114. > At least she's listening, her hooves lowering from a boxing position as she hovers mid-air before you.
  115. "Besides, you were the one who decided to grab my arm and hug it like a lifeline! Next time I'll just wake you up, sheesh!"
  116. > "...oh..."
  117. > Folding her forelimbs together, Spitfire gives you a sharp look.
  118. > "Well, don't you blame me for what I did. It was cold on that bridge, I couldn't help it!"
  119. "Well, then don't blame me for falling asleep when you won't get off my damn - wait."
  120. > Something about her last statement clicks into place.
  121. "Wait - 'it was cold on that bridge'? You were awake for that, and you didn't say anything?!"
  122. > For a second Spitfire's entire face flushes the same hue as her trademark mane, and then your vision is filled with twin pools of orange, narrowed sharply.
  123. > "You tell anypony, Anonymous, and I will toss you right off the side of Clousdale. Do you understand me?"
  124. > Her voice is a low and aggressive, but you can't help a small smile creeping to your lips.
  125. "Yes ma'am. Absolutely understand..."
  126. > "Good. Then we can agree to-"
  127. "-Snugglefire."
  128. > Now her cheeks go well beyond any tones of orange and well into red.
  129. > "That's not - I didn't - augh!"
  130. > The anger's gone from her tone, though.
  131. "...if it makes you feel any better, I'm not actually angry at you either."
  132. > There's no immediate response, but just as you're turning to go Spitfire finds her voice again.
  133. > Softer, though - and quieter.
  134. > "Hey, Anon?"
  135. "Yeah?"
  136. > You glance back to find her shooting a small, nervous smile in your direction.
  137. > Though her cheeks are still quite flushed, it's not so sharp as before.
  138. > "Thanks. For staying overnight."
  139. "...you're welcome too."
  140. > And with that you head out, slipping away before any of the other Wonderbolts can spot you.
  141. > You'd just have to-
  142. > Oh.
  143. > You'd totally forgotten.
  144. "Hey Spitfire? I got to ask you something, though."
  145.  
  146. --------
  147.  
  148. > You can say this for Equestria.
  149. > The stars are absolutely fucking amazing.
  150. > Maybe it's the fact that there's not much in the way of light pollution in most places.
  151. > Or maybe that there's a physical goddess who runs the night.
  152. > But either way, there's something to be said for being able to look up and see what looks like a million stars.
  153. > Only downside was the need to get far enough up to be away from everyone else and see them.
  154. > Getting to the airship's upper lookout deck is a nothing but a short flight - or, if you happened to lack wings, a long painful climb through numerous painfully sharp staircases within the envelope.
  155. > And by the time you'd reached the top, it was quite apparent just how insufficient the jacket you'd brought with you was.
  156. > Oh well.
  157. > No way you were hiking all the way down again just to get a heavier one.
  158. > And besides, the view was excellent from up here.
  159. > Easy to look straight up to the star-lit sky above, or to either side and see the balloon curving away beneath you to reveal the distant land beneath.
  160. > Settling into an unfolding canvas seat you'd lugged up with you, you're not surprised when the beating of wings reaches your ears several moments later.
  161. > After all, one of the crew might want to hold watch from up here.
  162. > What does surprise you, is who they belong to.
  163. "'lo, Spitfire."
  164. > "Well, look who dragged themselves up here."
  165. > Soft tap-taps on the deck beneath herald her hooves touching down.
  166. > "Didn't figure I'd find you all the way up here."
  167. "What, you need the deck for something?"
  168. > "Nah. Just doing my night-time exercise - giving my wings a stretch, getting the blood moving, you know?"
  169. "Heh, fair enough. I won't keep you, then."
  170. > She doesn't go, though - instead stepping over to sit on her haunches at the side of your seat.
  171. > After a moment, you glance aside again with one eyebrow raised.
  172. "Something up?"
  173. > "Just... wondering what's got you all the way up here. Can't have been easy."
  174.  
  175. > Snorting gently, you shake your head.
  176. "Even with my posture, those stairs are hell. I can't imagine how you're supposed to use them on four legs."
  177. > Shooting a snarky grin towards you, Spitfire shakes her head.
  178. > "Should get some wings, two-legs."
  179. "Hah, hah. Building 'em as fast as I can, Spits. Until then, I've got to brave the stairs."
  180. > You're grinning, though - amusement touching your lips at her banter.
  181. > Amazing how the tough-captain act vanished into lighthearted banter when she didn't need it.
  182. > "Don't look at me. Never used them in my life. So, what is it then?"
  183. "Eh, just..."
  184. > A hand swings out to indicate the distant horizon - black night meeting the barely-visible outlines of mountains in the distance.
  185. "Never really got to see this view back home. Not like this - open, just out there all the time. We could fly in our machines, but I never got to do that - closest I got was peering out through a tiny little thick glass window."
  186. > You fold your hand back underneath an arm, tightening up against the high-altitude chill.
  187. > "...you're cold."
  188. > A rueful grin touches your lips.
  189. "Yeah. Forgot how chilly it was going to be, grabbed a too-light coat."
  190. > "Try growing one instead."
  191. "Hah, hah."
  192. > Your gaze again returns to the distant horizon - watching a few moon-lit clouds hanging a short ways away.
  193. > Thus, you're quite surprised when an unexpected weight suddenly comes to rest on your lap.
  194. "Th'hell, Spitfire?"
  195. > "You objecting?"
  196. > One orange eye regards you carefully.
  197. > Were you?
  198. "...nah. Just surprised."
  199. > Spitfire gives a pleased little noise and stretches out across your legs, her own hooves draped to either side.
  200. "Wasn't expecting you to get so... comfortable so fast."
  201. > "Don't think too hard on it. You got the only good seat up here."
  202. > That doesn't explain the small smile still hovering on her lips, though, or the pleased ruffling of her wings as she settled down.
  203. > You allow yourself a small grin as well - one that you're sure she can't see.
  204.  
  205.  
  206. > "So, anyway. That's what you're building that thing in your spare time for, right? Something to fly again?"
  207. "The airplane, yeah. Don't get me wrong - it was really comfortable where I lived. But, there's something about this kind of view that always just leaves me a little in awe."
  208. > "Heh. Know what you mean. I'd go a little nuts if I couldn't fly anymore... even if keeping myself up to speed can be a pain sometimes."
  209. "Don't doubt it."
  210. > After a moment's consideration, you reach out and rest a hand on her back.
  211. > Again her wingtips twitch... but there's no rejection.
  212. > Spitfire gazes on peacefully, a striking warmth radiating from her coat against the nighttime air.
  213. > Her eyes, too, have drifted out to the far sky.
  214. > For a long while all you can hear is the distant rumble of engines from somewhere far below, before Spitfire's voice eventually breaks the calm once more.
  215. > It's a lot softer than it was before.
  216. > "Hey Anon?"
  217. "Yeah?"
  218. > "Thanks."
  219. "...what for?"
  220. > "Just... I dunno. Treating me like just another mare."
  221. > You raise an eyebrow even though Spitfire couldn't possibly see it.
  222. > Evidently she can sense your unspoken question, though, since she goes on.
  223. > "Trust me, it's worse than you quite know. The fans are relentless, and the other 'bolts - too often I've got to be the captain to them."
  224. "Guess I'm lucky I'm not under your direct command, then."
  225. > "Shut up."
  226. > There's laughter in her voice, though, and her tail flicks against you in a gesture of amusement.
  227. > "You're lucky I can't beat your flank."
  228. "I'd like to see you try."
  229. > "Try me sometime! Doesn't matter if you're three times my height; I'm way faster."
  230. > She was probably right, too.
  231. > It's a while before either of you really speak again.
  232. > "But... yeah, you're nice enough to not give me grief over what I'm supposed to be."
  233. "When you get tossed into another universe, expectations kind of up and vanish."
  234.  
  235. > "Whatever. Point is... I guess it kind of clicked over for me when you stuck around that one night. You give a damn, and I can trust you not to try any funny stuff."
  236. "...if we're admitting things, I guess I can say that I didn't exactly mind it either."
  237. > "I know."
  238. > There's that amused tone in her voice - laughter not quite there.
  239. > "But you didn't push it. And that was good."
  240. > Again her wings ruffle slightly - this time seeming to try and spread over her body.
  241. > It suddenly occurs to you that you might not be the only one suffering from the cold up here.
  242. "...hey Spitfire, if you're feeling the chill you don't have to stay up here just for me."
  243. > "What, and miss out on this? No way - uh-uh. Not many chances I get to just relax."
  244. "In that case... get up for just one second?"
  245. > She does, and you undo a few of the buttons holding your coat closed.
  246. > Holding the sudden cavity open, you give her a grin.
  247. "It's warmer - and I'm wearing something beneath it, I promise."
  248. > She rolls her eyes, but grins while scooting most of her body in to the cavity you've produced - leaving only a head and neck emerging.
  249. "See? Warmer."
  250. > "Yeah, yeah..."
  251. > Squirming around, she manages to produce a place to rest her chin.
  252. > "Got to agree with you, though. It is nice up here."
  253. > Twisting her head about again, she fixed you with a grin.
  254. > "Just one rule though. I doze off here, you gotta wake me up for real."
  255. "I promise."
  256. > "Done."
  257. > Not ten minutes later her eyes have already fallen shut, and you're shaking your head in disbelief.
  258. > The way that mare works herself, really...
  259. > That, and how peaceful she ended up looking when asleep.
  260. > Awake, Spitfire seemed to be permanently in motion - as if slowing down for a moment would be tantamount to admitting defeat.
  261. > But asleep, with only the passing wind there brush her spiky mane about?
  262. > Undeniably peaceful looking.
  263. > ...and undeniably adorable.
  264. > And even though you've promised... ten minutes couldn't hurt that much, could it?
  265.  
  266. --------
  267.  
  268. > "Hey Anon, you in there?"
  269. > Unfortunately, when the call reaches your ears you're not only inside the workshop but buried head-and-shoulders inside a particularly obstinate bit of machinery.
  270. "Spitfire? Yeah, hold on a second while I - ow! - get my head out."
  271. > With your head extracted from the workings, you're also free to hear the low, continuous hiss of rain falling on the outside - a noise that sets you jogging for the shop door.
  272. > By the time you've freed yourself and reached it, though, it's still been a fair while.
  273. > Unlatching the main door and hauling one of the huge, swinging panels aside greets you with the sight of an exceedingly wet Wonderbolt.
  274. > Her typically blown-back mane has been plastered against her head by the continuous deluge falling from the sky.
  275. "Damn, Spitfire! Get inside - and next time, just push the small door open, it's not locked."
  276. > "Thanks. I... just didn't want to intrude."
  277. > Hooves tapping on the hard floor, Spitfire just steps far enough in to get out of the rain before she bunches herself up and shakes wildly.
  278. > You're reminded of nothing so much as a orange-and-yellow dog drying itself; fortunately you'd already retreated well out of the splash-radius before it began.
  279. > Nonetheless you raise an eyebrow, speaking up once she's done.
  280. "So, wait. You just stood out there waiting for me for how long?"
  281. > "Next time I'll just barge in whenever, then."
  282. > She fixes you with one eye, but it's obvious she's not really angry.
  283. > Neither did she answer the question, though.
  284. "Hah, hah. You know my door's open when I'm in."
  285. > Returning to the machine you'd been working on, you pick up a wrench and get back to work.
  286. "The pony-pult is almost fixed, if that's what you were wondering. I just need to get a few pipes back together."
  287. > "That's, uh..."
  288. > Something in her voice grabs your attention; dropping the bolt you'd been about to reinsert, you twist around to look at the Wonderbolts' captain.
  289.  
  290. "...what's up, Spitfire?"
  291. > "Can I just... stay here for a little while? I won't get in your way."
  292. > You blink in surprise; that wasn't what you'd been expecting.
  293. "...sure. Not exactly my place to tell you where you can and can't go."
  294. > Maybe you weren't under her direct command, but the team kind of had financed most of the equipment in here.
  295. > "Thanks."
  296. > A brief pause, and then Spitfire, motions to a mostly-disassembled mess sitting in a corner.
  297. > "That's your thing that you're working on? The air-what?"
  298. "The airplane? Yeah."
  299. > Again the wrench is set down; you stand, moving to stand slightly behind her.
  300. "Yeah. I'm still working on the engine-power problem."
  301. > "...I can't imagine flying while trapped up inside that much metal. I mean, and airship is one thing, but this just seems... claustrophobic."
  302. "It might be, but short of a miracle it's the best kind of flying I'm going to get."
  303. > "I dunno. Maybe there's a way to -"
  304. > Spitfire halts herself and shakes her head.
  305. > "Sorry. I'm getting you away from your work. I'll quit it now."
  306. "...I don't mind."
  307. > She doesn't respond though, wandering off.
  308. > Shrugging you, return to your job - grunting and quietly swearing under your breath as you force recalcitrant pipes into spots they were definitely supposed to but did not want to go.
  309. > Not until you emerge from the mess a good twenty minutes later at least do you spot Spitfire.
  310. > Wiping your hands clear of grease on a nearby rag, you nearly drop it in surprise when you spot her.
  311. > She'd slipped out the door again, sitting on her haunches amid the ongoing downpour outside,
  312. > All four legs folded beneath her, wings half-extended to hang down and gaze steadily boring into the ground somewhere in front of her.
  313. "The hell?"
  314. > Heading for the door, you notice a sodden lump laying on the ground next to her.
  315. > Was that... her dress uniform?
  316. "Spitfire, what're you doing out there?! Didn't you just dry off?"
  317.  
  318.  
  319. > There's no sign she's heard you - not until you call out again.
  320. "Hey! Spitfire! Get back inside; I don't care what you've flown through, that can't be fun."
  321. > She doesn't react immediately - seemingly on a delay before finally pushing herself upright and walking back indoors, as if in a daze.
  322. "Stay right here. I'm going to go get something."
  323. > Yeah, ordering your effective boss around wasn't exactly the best of ideas.
  324. > But if she didn't want to, it wasn't like she had to follow your orders, right?
  325. > Spitfire's still there when you return, though - a steadily-spreading pool of water having formed beneath her and the crumpled uniform she'd dragged in with her.
  326. "Here. I got couple of towels; dry yourself off."
  327. > She'd probably leave hairs all over them, but what the hell.
  328. > Rather than dry herself off, though, Spitfire barely reacts when you lay the first towel across her back.
  329. > "Sorry... I said I'd not get in your way or anything..."
  330. "...alright, Spitfire, what the hell? You come in and ask if you can just crash in the workshop for a bit, then go outside and stand in the rain - and now this? Look, I'm no head-doctor, but I can see when something's wrong."
  331. > "It's just... urgh. You got some place to sit down?"
  332. "Yeah, I got a chair. Hold on."
  333. > There was a large desk in the corner of the workshop, used for innumerable tasks - writing notes or letters, forming drawings of new designs, hoolding your lunch when you ate in the shop.
  334. > And now, apparently, hosting drying Wonderbolts captains - having mostly dried herself on the way over, Spitfire lofts herself up onto the desk with a short flutter.
  335. > Following behind her, you unfold the second, still-dry towel and lay it across her shoulders to deal with the remaining dampness.
  336. "...chair's open if you want it."
  337. > "Nah, I'm good. Thanks, though."
  338. > Shrugging, you settle into the chair instead and lean back.
  339. "So seriously, Spitfire - you don't have to give me every dirty little detail, but what is this?"
  340.  
  341. > "...had a meeting with the big-shots from way on high."
  342. > Folding the towel around herself in an impressive display of dexterity, Spitfire's gaze again falls to the floor.
  343. > "They're 'concerned about the sub-standard performance of the team' compared to other racing circles."
  344. "What the hell does that mean? I thought the 'bolts held most of the records."
  345. > "We do."
  346. > Spitfire snorts unhappily.
  347. > "We're not the absolute fastest, period - I've seen some ponies do some crazy things - but they burn out in two, four, eight hundred meters at the most. We're racers - we keep a pace."
  348. "So, what - they want you to match a burst sprinter on the race track? That's kind of stupid, isn't it?"
  349. > "That's what I told them."
  350. > A stark roll of her bright-orange eyes gives a clear estimation of her opinions on that topic.
  351. > "It's also - we keep ponies on our team as long as they can keep up with the rest of us. Even if their absolute personal times aren't peak anymore."
  352. > Are her times falling, you wonder?
  353. > Spitfire wasn't exactly old, for a Wonderbolt - but she wasn't at the start of her career either.
  354. > Head twisting around, Spitfire stares out through the window behind the desk at the endless rainfall pattering down beyond.
  355. > "So here's the choice I get: I can either push my 'bolts to win regardless of what it does for us as a team... or I can take the blame for 'not leading them properly'."
  356. "That's a load of it, and we both know it. And your fans will know it too."
  357. > "Oh, they'll know it. That won't save my career though. They'll push me out and get somepony in who'll answer to them and them alone."
  358. > Her head drops to the tabletop, eyes still staring glumly into the grey-black sky.
  359. > "Hay, I've already screwed up trying to keep the team going for them..."
  360. "That business up in Rainbow Falls?"
  361. > Spitfire physically winces, and you do too.
  362. "Sorry. Shouldn't have brought it up like that."
  363.  
  364. > "No, no... I... I thought, if I pulled back from a first-line member being injured and still bagged a win, they'd get off my wings for a while. Soarin's never looked at me quite straight again since that."
  365. > A heavy sigh lifts the towel wrapped around her.
  366. > "And the best part is, I feathering earned it. I earned every headline and sharp look I got from that."
  367. "Would you do it again, if you had the chance?"
  368. > "Hay, no. I'd at the least talk to Soarin' first. Doesn't fix what happened, though."
  369. > Her eyes are shimmering now, and not merely with light dancing off of the rain outside.
  370. > "They want winners. I want a team. Whichever way I go, I'm flying straight into a storm-wall."
  371. > Something she'd said before comes back to you - about needing to be hero to her fans, and a captain to her team.
  372. > And being able to be open with neither.
  373. > Your hand comes to rest gently on her back.
  374. "C'mere a second."
  375. > Reaching out, you pull Spitfire into a hug.
  376. > She freezes for a moment - but then relaxes, strong legs again locking about your arm.
  377. > "You get away with a lot, you know that?"
  378. "Do I ever."
  379. > The grin cracking your face as you say that fades as Spitfire doesn't respond, though she does relax somewhat against you.
  380. "...but I wouldn't be doing this if it weren't helping you, y'know."
  381. > "Yeah... yeah, I do. Been a while since anyone gave me an honest hug, you know that?"
  382. > Shrugging the towel off, Spitfire again collapses down against you.
  383. > Though she might be relaxed, her ears are still flopped low and wings held in a loose, limp fashion.
  384. > After a moment, you reach out with a hand and start to rub at the back of her neck.
  385. > As expected for a pony who'd probably been standing at attention for some time even before the matter at hand got into her, it's a mess of knots and tension.
  386.  
  387. > When your fingers begin to work into it, though, Spitfire visibly relaxes as a whole - wings extending to fall out at her sides.
  388. > Her coat had mostly dried out, leaving it to fluff up in a strange counterpart to its normally sleek and smooth nature.
  389. > Not that you were complaining; that left it quite pleasant to touch as your fingers ran through it.
  390. > "...to tell the truth, I was... kind of looking to just hide in here for a while. Let me head clear."
  391. > Well, you couldn't deny it made sense - few would come looking for the wonderbolts' captain in such a space - but still...
  392. "Was that really going to help?"
  393. > "Solve things? Hay, no. But it'd let me just clear my mind for a bit."
  394. > Her head twists to the side to fix you with one bright-orange eye.
  395. > "Which, by the way... you're actually helping with. Thanks."
  396. > You don't respond except to shoot her a small grin and keep up your work - steadily melting the pegasus into a puddle of relaxation on your lap.
  397. > Except for the occasional flick of her ear and the steady rise-fall of her sides, there'd be little hint she was even awake.
  398. > Rain still patters steadily against the window - a steady, constant reminder of what waits beyond.
  399. > But for just a moment it doesn't seem to matter - to you, or the amber-coated pegasus slumped against you.
  400.  
  401. --------
  402.  
  403. > The fact that you've fallen asleep in your work clothes
  404. > It's something that's happened before, though you try and curtail it as much as possible.
  405. > No, what's more worrying is the fact that your head is occupied by a raging, blazing headache.
  406. > Well, that and the suspiciously warm weight laying across your belly.
  407. > It's too far down to be seen at first - firmly covered over by the sheets, leaving only a slightly moving bulge considerably larger than your gut (despite what anyone might say about it).
  408. > Wait, moving.
  409. > As in, breathing softly.
  410. > And judging by the hoof digging into your side, it's not a dog you spontaneously adopted last night.
  411. > Well, you'd have to face the moment of truth sooner or later.
  412. > A deep breath is drawn in as the covers are lifted.
  413. "...Spitfire?"
  414. > "M'flghluh?"
  415. "Why does my head feel like a dozen earth ponies had been doing tap-dancing lessons in there overnight?"
  416. > "Because you were really drunk last night."
  417. > Her answer is unhesitating, and your dulled logic is forced to accept it is probably accurate.
  418. "Oh. Why are you sleeping on my stomach?"
  419. > This time there's a longer wait before she answers.
  420. > "Because I was really fucking drunk last night."
  421. > "...oh."
  422. > There's a long silence, during which it suddenly occurs to you that there could be certain implications of you ending up in the same bed as the wonderbolts' captain.
  423. > It takes you several moments to realize that no, your pants and shirt are still very much intact.
  424. > As much you'd sometimes thought about it, a drunken one-night stand would probably not be good for your working relationship.
  425. > Besides, you can't even remember last night, and it's no fun if you don't get to remember it.
  426. > "Izzit bright out there?"
  427. "Uh... not really. Shades are closed."
  428. > "Urgh, good."
  429. > Emerging from beneath the blanket now is a mass of incredibly mess golden-orange hair.
  430.  
  431. > A few swipes of a hoof turns it into something resembling a mane, framing two groggy-looking and puffy eyes of a similar hue.
  432. "Well, good morning there. Up for a nice wake-up flight? Cold air, bright morning sun, rush of wind in your ears?"
  433. > "Fuck you, Anon."
  434. > Spitfire's not typically so coarse; her hangover must be a real ringer.
  435. > Stumbling forward a few more steps, Spitfire trips over your outstretched and and collapses face-forward into the bed with a moan.
  436. > Snorting softly, you watch as her wings flex futilely - evidently not quite awake enough to try flight.
  437. "...so what exactly did I do last night?"
  438. > "We went out drinking. You declared our booze 'the pissiest stuff you'd ever tasted' and decided you couldn't ever get drunk on it."
  439. > Rolling onto her back, Spitfire fixes you with a look that reeks of schadenfreude, a grin creeping across her lips.
  440. > "Then you drank an entire bottle of Minotaur blood-whiskey."
  441. "Well, shit."
  442. > Your head falls back to the pillow, spiking another wave of pain through it.
  443. > "Regretting it now, mister-I-can-handle-whatever-liquor-you-give-me?"
  444. "Do you need to ask? Why are you that drunk anyhow?"
  445. > "I... don't remember either. But if I had to guess..."
  446. "Drinking contest?"
  447. > Spitfire groans and nods ever so slightly, keeping her face firmly buried in the sheets.
  448. > "Drinking contest."
  449. "Well.. I think it's a Saturday, so you don't have anywhere to be, at least."
  450. > "Not... this one, anyway."
  451. > Propping yourself up on one elbow, you give her a hard look.
  452. "Seriously, Spitfire?"
  453. > "Team captain, Anon. The day I get off regularly is the day I quit."
  454. > You roll your eyes, but she has a point.
  455. "Well, consider yourself - oof!"
  456. > In the absence of anything covering her anymore, Spitfire had attempted to rise again - only this time, collapsing over on her side against you with a low moan.
  457. > Again eyebrows shoot up as her muzzle buries itself between your side and the sheet.
  458. "Uh, Spitfire...?"
  459.  
  460. > "Shut up. It's warm and dark and my head doesn't hurt as much."
  461. > Her voice is muffled, but still clearly audible - still quite easy for you to hear the annoyance at herself in it.
  462. > Your eyes are set into another roll, even though there's no conceivable way she could see that one now.
  463. > Reaching around with one hand, you let your fingers find the way her ear and begin lightly scratching at the short, velvety fuzz that runs over it.
  464. > Strangely enough, Spitfire doesn't react like you'd expected - it must not tickle.
  465. > Not at all, in fact, judging by the way she's relaxing.
  466. > "...you get away with a lot, you know that, Anon?"
  467. "Sorry. Didn't mean to-"
  468. > "I didn't say to stop."
  469. > Well then.
  470. > Slipping another finger around to rub at the inside of the ear as well, you allow her to settle back down - tail flicking lightly in seeming pleasure.
  471. "Yeah, I guess I do get away with a lot. But you're not exactly discouraging it."
  472. > "Just... shaddup. And keep rubbing, you great ape."
  473. "Yes ma'am. Right away, snugglefire."
  474. > Her grumbles make the entire thing all too adorable, especially when you add another hand to lightly scratch at her back.
  475. > Lithely stretching, Spitfire finally drags her muzzle out of the dark, quiet place she's shoved it and rests it on your side again, eyes fixed on you.
  476. > A smirk plays about her mouth, eyes twinkling.
  477. > "Treating a mare to a fun night, taking her home without giving her a hard time, and then helping her in the morning? You're quite a catch, Anon."
  478. > This time, it's your turn to snort.
  479. "How about you shut up too?"
  480. > "Naughty, naughty Anon."
  481. "I can toss you out of my bed, you know."
  482. > "Shutting up now."
  483. > Eventually, though, she does force herself into standing again.
  484. > "Hey, can I use the shower? I don't want to turn up smelling like a diamond dog if I can help it."
  485. "Yeah, go ahead. I'll go grab some food."
  486.  
  487. > Just as you step into the kitchen, notice something sitting in the rear yard, on the path between your home and your workshop.
  488. > Something that wasn't there before.
  489. "What...?"
  490. > Your heart skips a few beats as you step outside, and not for good reasons.
  491. > Laying tipped on its side in the grass was a cut-and-etched-metal sheet in the figure of a pegasus.
  492. > A clear trail showed where it had been dragged from the workshop before being abandoned halfway along.
  493. > But that wasn't what worried you.
  494. > Oh, no.
  495. > It was more that the figure was of one Wonderbolts captain, displayed in a quite lascivious pose.
  496. > And the detail was far, far to fine to suggest it had used anything less than a real-life model to be based on.
  497. "...hey, uh, Spitfire? How much did we have to drink again last night?
  498.  
  499. --------
  500.  
  501. > You flick the rod back with a sigh, staring at the still-bare lure on the end of it.
  502. > A deft flick of the pole sends the hook flying back out over the water, settling back in with a fresh plop.
  503. > There it remains unmoving but for bobbing on the swells of water.
  504. > So much for Anonymous, master fisherman.
  505. > Setting the pole back down beside you, you lean back on the grassy shore and peer up at the sky.
  506. > You have to shade your eyes, but eventually you spot her:
  507. > Circling far above on broad wings, the real reason you were out here.
  508. > You didn't even like fishing, but Spitfire enjoyed these little getaways.
  509. > Her escapes from the rush and bustle of life as a captain.
  510. > Rare as they were, you were more than happy to let her enjoy them to the fullest.
  511. > So while you fished (hopelessly) and dozed (much more successfully) on the shore, Spitfire hung in long, lazy circles above.
  512. > Still staring up at her, you ponder that it's hard to reconcile the drifting glide she hung in with the blazingly-fast racer you knew.
  513. > The only thing that linked them were how at home she was in the air:
  514. > Even soaring as she did now, Spitfire seemed to be practically part of the air itself and-
  515. > Wait.
  516. > Was she rolling?
  517. > Yes she is, and it's a full dive-
  518. > Too late you try to scramble away, not quite reaching your feet before a golden-orange bullet slams into the lake and throws out a drenching wave of water.
  519. > Spitfire re-emerges, bobbing to the surface and quickly propelling herself to the shore with long, clean strokes.
  520. > A fish flaps hopelessly in her jaws, and even around it you can see the victorious grin plastered across her face.
  521. > Mostly, anyhow - between the curtains of mane that hang like falls of lava from either side of her head.
  522. "You do that on purpose."
  523. > "It's not my fault the best fish are busy eating your bait right off the hook."
  524.  
  525. > Even if you couldn't see her face, the smirk is audible in her words too.
  526. > Pausing on the shore, she shakes her self off in a blur of orange and yellow - drawing another yelp from you as a she launches yet another wave of water.
  527. > Utterly ignoring both your dripping-wet form and the glare you shoot in her direction, she drops the fish on the edge of your blanket before tucking right in.
  528. > Watching her, you shake your head.
  529. "Y'know, of all the things I've had to get used to her, the idea of adorable little predator ponies is by far the hardest one."
  530. > Swallowing a mouthful, Spitfire gives a soft coo of delight.
  531. > "And you would not believe how much I've missed this. We can't catch fresh when we're on tour; if a cute little colt or filly from a city where pegasi don't take fish, or - Celestia forbid - an earth pony caught us scarfing some down..."
  532. "Are the earth ponies really that bad? I've met a lot more stuck-up unicorns."
  533. > "Oh, you'd better believe it. Some earth ponies never forgot when pegasi were raiders sweeping down to pillage; if they see us eating fresh fish..."
  534. > She eats almost cat-like, with the fish trapped beneath one hoof, until it has been thoroughly stripped down to the skeleton and assorted innards.
  535. > Then, grabbing the tail, she executes a quick head-whip to hurl the remains back into the lake.
  536. > You'd sat back down at some point, stretching back out in the warm, early-summer sun and letting it bake the heat out of you.
  537. > As the remains go spiraling out to splash back into the water, you lazily wave a finger in Spitfire's direction.
  538. "Naughty littering. Aren't you supposed to be a model Equestrian citizen and officer of the Royal Guard?"
  539. > Rolling her eyes, Spitfire bats at you with a still-soaking wing.
  540. > "I'm off duty, we're in the middle of nowhere, and this is a lake not some city pond."
  541. > Prancing around in a slow circle she executes another shake-dry.
  542.  
  543. > The spray isn't nearly so dramatic this time, and in any case it also helps fluff out her mane again:
  544. > Ambling to your side, Spitfire keels over to curl in against your side - her head coming to rest on your chest.
  545. "Ack! Hey! You're still wet!"
  546. > "I'll dry out."
  547. > A yawn escapes, and your nose wrinkles.
  548. "Sure you will, fish-breath."
  549. > "Hey..."
  550. > A wing is raised, but only waved threateningly rather than sent darting out at your head.
  551. > "Just for that, I'm gonna stay right here 'til you get me all dried off."
  552. > You make a protesting noise, but your heart isn't really in it.
  553. > Instead you slip an arm around her neck, coming in to tuck her wing down and lightly scratch at her back.
  554. > Despite the dip in the lake you can still feel the heat radiating off of her - off those muscles she had been exercising so far up in the sky.
  555. > Or maybe that's just her natural state; pegasi in general did seem to run slightly higher temperatures.
  556. > Either way, it's not a bad feeling.
  557. > Her eyes have long since slid shut - overcome by post-exercise and post-meal sleepiness.
  558. > But you still manage to draw a soft, happy coo from her lips as your fingers dig into the down-like coat where it merges into her first rows of feathers.
  559. > You did let her get away with a rather lot, you think.
  560. > Spitfire was worth it though.
  561. > After all, this was supposed to be her break from the rush and bustle of a captain's life.
  562. > ...and it isn't exactly like you're complaining either.
  563. > Soon enough your eyes fall shut too - joining the pegasus curled at your side in sleep.
Spitfire aie

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