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Fire and Sky: Shorts

By Lurkernon
Created: 20th December 2020 05:33:37 AM

  1. Originally posted November 2017
  2.  
  3. A collection of shorts surrounding Fire and Sky.
  4.  
  5. --------------------------------
  6.  
  7. "The Interview"
  8.  
  9. "I dunno, Boss. Something about this just rubs me really, really wrong."
  10. > "Really? I'd have figured an audience would be the one thing you'd be absolutely at home with."
  11. "Hah, hah. Difference between doing your thing when people just happen to be watching, and doing it because they're watching. And forget this Tartarus-chained leash!"
  12. > Pausing, you raise a hind hoof to kick at the offending strap as it (again) brushes your shoulder.
  13. "I swear, if an image of me shows up of me wearing this thing anywhere-"
  14. > "Spitfire!"
  15. > Kneeling down, Anonymous puts a hand on your shoulder and matches his eyes to your own.
  16. > "I get it. This isn't going to be fun, for either of us. I get it, okay? But, please; we don't really have much of a choice, and I need you to just swallow it down for a few hours. Can you do that for me, please? For us?"
  17. > You hesitate, then sigh - ruffling your wings and slumping dejectedly.
  18. "Yeah, I can. Sorry - I'm being a bit of a brat, aren't I?"
  19. > "A bit, yeah."
  20. > That he so readily agrees actually hurts more than admitting in the first place.
  21. > Which in turn just tells you how much of a brat you were being; you shouldn't be saying those sorts of things in expectation of immediate absolution.
  22. > Maybe it was time to buckle down and swallow your pride.
  23. > Perhaps seeing how much he'd hurt you, Anonymous puts a hand on your shoulder:
  24. > "But you're also entirely right to be upset that we have to go putting our lives out there for public gawping. I get that. And if we get through this, we can both go out and get a couple of beers."
  25. > Reaching out with a wing, you let it lightly settle across his reaching arm.
  26. "...'preciate it."
  27. > He grins a touch, then stands.
  28. "Alright. Now, let's see what's waiting for us in there."
  29.  
  30. > The magazine's headquarters had rejected the monoliths of glass and steel that rose around it in favor of maintaining a rather more original look:
  31. > Brick walls stained with age and narrow hallways barely large enough to pass in testify to the age of its founding.
  32. > Part of you is pleased; it wasn't anywhere near Equestria's architecture, but far closer than the impersonal towers that surrounded it.
  33. > Besides, they... wobbled.
  34. > Cloudhomes moved under wind too, but drifted with it; human skyscrapers swayed back and forth in an eerie pattern - sometimes with, sometimes against - that offended your pegasus senses.
  35. > On the other hand, the narrow hallways in this old building sometimes felt too narrow.
  36. > The further in you go the more they seem to close in around you.
  37. > Specters of the many long months spent in a cage.
  38. > Or the weeks in a cell while you thought Anonymous was dead.
  39. > The leash really didn't help do away with that sense either.
  40. > And then, abruptly, you're through a door and being welcomed into a small office.
  41. > "Hello, hello! Mister Anonymous, and Spitfire is it? Come in and have a seat!"
  42. > Despite it being even more crowded than the hallways, it feels less claustrophobic:
  43. > A window in the back offers a narrow view of a filthy alleyway, and for that you're deeply thankful even if it probably wasn't a true escape.
  44. > Anonymous takes a seat, as does the man interviewing you.
  45. > None has been provided for you, but a quick glance around reveals a currently unused seat that you're all too happy to snag with a wing and quickly reposition at your owner's side.
  46. > Leaping up onto it, you gather the leash beneath yourself and pointedly sit down on it.
  47. > An eyebrow is raised by the interviewer, but Anonymous says nothing.
  48. > "...right, well, I'm Fred Rackham. We'll, uh, start out with some basic questions."
  49. "Right."
  50. > You can't hide your nervous swallow.
  51. "Let's get started."
  52.  
  53. > The microphone is set out on the table between the three of you, the program started, and the questions start to fly.
  54. > If nothing else, you can say that Fred is skilled at what he does.
  55. > The first few questions are easy, simple things:
  56. > What kinds of work do you do, what jobs, how do you manage living out of an aircraft...
  57. > It doesn't void the knowledge that tougher questions are coming, but you find yourself becoming more relaxed nonetheless.
  58. > Aside from not giving away that he had been teaching you to fly regularly, there's little to think about and just talking is enough to set you somewhat at ease:
  59. > "A question for your pony, Mr. Anonymous: When you were crashing - landing - the plane... what did you feel?"
  60. > Ignoring the roundabout way of address, you quickly answer:
  61. "I felt I was going to beat it."
  62. > The look of surprise is universal across all of them.
  63. "Oh, don't get me wrong. Anonymous dying to my left and the plane flying on the last bits of fuel - right up until then I was scared so hard I was practically shedding feathers. But at that moment..."
  64. > Pausing a moment, you let your eyes go unfocused as you stare off into the past.
  65. "...it's hard to explain to someone who hasn't flown. Not ridden, actually flown. There's... a kind of a space in your mind. You get into it, nothing matters; it's just you and the air. You fly to win, and if you start thinking too hard you lose. It's all by feel."
  66. "I thought back to our first real job together - when I'd been losing my cool then too. But I lived through that, and told myself I could live through crashing too. Would have to, to save Anonymous. And... that was it. I would win. I would beat it too."
  67. > Inevitably, of course, the easy questions must end:
  68. > "Anonymous, you've spoken before about being aware of Spitfire's prior service in the Equestrian military. Were you aware of this when you acquired her, and how do you feel about it now?"
  69.  
  70. > Thank Celestia you'd admitted that to him before all of this.
  71. > Anonymous only finding out about it now would have been...
  72. > Problematic.
  73. > "I wasn't when I first picked her up, though I had suspicions. Kept a few security measures in place at first, but on the whole I wasn't afraid."
  74. > "So you felt she was already tame?"
  75. "Tame?!"
  76. > Both men raise an eyebrow at your outburst, and you bristle in your seat.
  77. > Turning back to Rackham, Anonymous shakes his head:
  78. > "I didn't think she was 'tame'. I thought she was a reasonable being who I could talk to an reasonable manner."
  79. "Yeah. The only 'unreasonable' thing was what had been done to me!"
  80. > "...right."
  81. > Somehow you don't think that bit is getting into the actual article.
  82. > "Look, Mr. Rackham... the answer is things weren't always the best for us. But I gave her some space instead of trying to make her 'tame', and now - well, I don't even have the control for that shock collar on me-"
  83. > "Can I ask why it's there, if you don't have it?"
  84. "Can I get this one, Boss?"
  85. > Anonymous nods, knowing just what you are about to say.
  86. > "Go ahead, Spits."
  87. "It was my call to keep it. Even after he got rid of the control, I didn't want to pretend I was free. It keeps me remembering that I could just as well be shocked until I begged just for being a pony."
  88. > "So, you would say you keep it to remind yourself of why it's important to obey - even if Mr. Anonymous is more... lenient."
  89. > A small flame of annoyance begins to smoulder in the back of your mind.
  90. "Not what I meant at all. More that I don't want to forget for a second that even if he wasn't my-"
  91. > The word sticks in your throat, but you force it out anyhow:
  92. "-Master, I could easily be treated far worse. Tortured - let's call it what it is. And that there are a lot of ponies out there who don't have it as good as me."
  93. > "I see."
  94. > You don't think he does.
  95. > The attempt at explanation seems to have completely flown over his head.
  96.  
  97. > "So he hasn't ever used the shock collar on you."
  98. > "Oh, I have. Once or twice. Of course, there was the one time..."
  99. "Yeah. We got into a huge fight. I... mouthed off in a way I shouldn't have-"
  100. > "-I swung at her head-"
  101. "-so I kicked right back-"
  102. > "-hit me right in the gut, too. And then I got her with the shock collar."
  103. > Anonymous rubs the back of his head.
  104. > "Truth be told, that... was not one of my better moments. All other things aside, I should have known better. I should've been able to control myself, and that I went to town on Spitfire instead of keeping my cool. It wasn't right, especially after what I'd just asked her to do."
  105. > "Which is, if I may ask?"
  106. > "Plane full of pony kids."
  107. "Foals."
  108. > "Yeah, that."
  109. "Right before that, we'd flown a group of foals down to a - a sort of training camp. I was... out of it. Lost control too. And I really did push An- Boss' buttons real good."
  110. > You shuffle your wings uncomfortably, the circumstances of your discussion temporarily forgotten.
  111. > Next to you, Anonymous shakes his head.
  112. > "Yeah. You were... but deciding to beat you silly like that still wasn't right."
  113. > He pauses, then speaks more softly:
  114. > "Spitfire? I don't think I've ever said sorry for that, and - I should. Whatever you are, when you're in that plane you're my partner-"
  115. "I know."
  116. > The grin you shoot him almost manages to cover the pain of that memory - almost.
  117. > Across the table, the interviewer coughs.
  118. > "So, you would say that is your lowest moment... together."
  119. > "Probably."
  120. > Anonymous nods, but you aren't too sure.
  121. > Still grinning wide, you add in a singsong tone:
  122. "Oh, there was that one time I considered killing you."
  123. > The splutter Rackham gives makes the inevitable follow up question well worth it.
  124. > "She - you - what - killing you?!"
  125. > "Spitfire..."
  126. > That warning tone suggests you really ought to stop, but you've become just slightly fed up with the leading questions and dismissive tone.
  127.  
  128. "Yeah. Was back in our first few weeks together. I woke up in the middle of the night, thought about stuff, and realized I - I could kill him. A good kick, maybe two, and that'd be it."
  129. > You pause, drinking in the shocked expression on his face.
  130. > How many ponies did he get who'd admit to thinking about that?
  131. "So why didn't I? Because I - we - are better than that. Even when I was at my lowest, when he was chaining me to my bed at night because he wasn't sure he could trust me, I couldn't do that. It wouldn't have helped with anything. Just another pointless death. Well, I saw a lot of pointless death and misery, and I didn't like adding more to it."
  132. > "And - he didn't - the shock collar... Mister Anonymous, you know that most people would not keep a dangerous pony around like that!"
  133. > Sighing, Anonymous shakes his head.
  134. > "What she's leaving out is that I was awake for it. If she'd come after me, I'd have taken her down... but she didn't, so I figured she isn't really dangerous. Pissed, yeah. Spits was pissed. But not dangerous."
  135. > Your grin only widens; you'd been expecting he'd fill in that other part.
  136. "You want to know how we ended up actually trusting each other? It's because of things like that. Because he didn't force me to dance around bowing and scraping. He accepted that I wasn't going to be - happy being a slave. What he really cared about is what I did."
  137. > Somehow in the midst of that you'd ended up standing on the chair with wings extended.
  138. > The leash had ended up kicked off the chair, hanging down to the floor and weighing on your neck.
  139. > Now you sit yourself back down, noting with a degree of satisfaction the surprise still lingering on Rackham's face.
  140. > Good.
  141. > Maybe now he'd have an idea of how your actual bonds were forged.
  142. > Not by "obeying" or submitting to him, but by actual trust.
  143.  
  144. > "And - you would consider that degree of trust important for your... relationship? Most owners that I have spoken to seem to place a higher value on obedience or respect."
  145. "Absolutely."
  146. > "You ever put your life into someone's hands, Mr. Rackham? Not like, let someone else drive you to work. I mean like, 'jump off this high wall with your eyes closed and hope they catch you' kind of thing."
  147. > "I, uh-"
  148. > Seeing where Anonymous is going, you add in:
  149. "Every time we go up? It's exactly that. When I jump from the plane based on when he tells me, when he follows the navigation plan I give. We trust, or..."
  150. > You glance towards Anonymous, hoping this isn't treading too close.
  151. "...someone dies."
  152. > "Agreed."
  153. > You let out a little breath of relief at his concurring with you.
  154. > "I told her at one point, if she wasn't going to give me at minimum cooperation, then she could leave. I wouldn't try to force her into serving me, because that would only lead to one of us being hurt."
  155. > "I see. And... this is the sole reason for your trust?"
  156. "...yes?"
  157. > "Yes?"
  158. > Both Anonymous and yourself answer simultaneously; looking at each other, you both shrug - him with arms, you with wings.
  159. > "I'm not entirely sure what other reason there would be."
  160. > "Consider that you both operate out in rural areas for a significant amount of time, and that you've admitted to so much as living in close quarters-"
  161. > Rackham pauses, and when no response is forthcoming shrugs himself and apparently decides to go full-in blunt.
  162. > "Some would say that you keep her around for... more intimate purposes, and-"
  163. "Oh, fuck you!"
  164. > "Spitfire!"
  165. > Ignoring Anonymous' sharp admonition, you fluff up your wings again and glare across the table at Rackham.
  166. "Let me tell you right now - if he tried to force that on me? I would have kicked his head in. How hard is it for you to get that I-"
  167. > You struggle for the right word.
  168.  
  169. "-tolerate living like this because he's good to me. If he wasn't? If he treated me like - like a whore? I wouldn't give him a Tartarus-chained inch, and-"
  170. > Breathing deep, you close your eyes a moment and try to get a better grip on your anger.
  171. > From the beginning he'd been frustrating you, angering you.
  172. > This was just the final straw.
  173. > But that doesn't mean you had an excuse for going off.
  174. "...I'm sorry. I shouldn't have lost it. But you just don't get it: I'm not just happier because he treats me fair, I'm only still here because he does.
  175. > "And your thoughts, Mr. Anonymous?"
  176. > Your owner - your captain - smiles.
  177. > It's a thin, cold, and slightly angry smile that suggests he was glad you'd apologized, but also mildly annoyed by losing the chance to do the telling-off himself.
  178. > "Spitfire's said, I think, everything I need to."
  179. > "I see... before we conclude, would you mind if we took a few pictures for the article?"
  180. > "Sure."
  181. "Yeah, I guess..."
  182. > "Okay, so if you just sit with your back to that green sheet - yes, just like that. Thank you, Mr. Anonymous, and then if your pony would just come here-"
  183.  
  184.  
  185. --------
  186.  
  187. > "I can't believe you did that."
  188. "He wanted me to sit. On. Your. Lap."
  189. > "Yes, and you damn near chased him out of the room!"
  190. "I am not a - a lap cat!"
  191. > Laughing, Anonymous tips his drink back and downs another gulp of beer.
  192. > You eye the bottle clutched between your hooves and decide to take a mouthful yourself.
  193. > It tastes truly awful - nothing like the rich, dark, almost spicy ales that'd once been brewed by the pegasi cities.
  194. > But alcohol is alcohol, and the mild buzz is pleasant enough.
  195. "I just don't get what was so hard for him to pick up on. I'm not your pet or something. And certainly not a bed whore!"
  196. > Anonymous just laughs.
  197. > "You really don't get it, do you?"
  198. "What is there to get? He's the one missing the point, not me."
  199. > "Easy, Spits."
  200.  
  201. > You glance around, realizing that more than a few eyes in the bar were still resting on you.
  202. > It wasn't exactly unfriendly - the bar staff hadn't refused you service, and the rest of the patrons' glances were more questioning than hostile.
  203. > But it was still attention, and in the dimly-lit and crowded bar that was already too much.
  204. > Dropping your voice, you go on:
  205. "...okay, fine. I still don't get what I'm missing, though."
  206. > "You think he really wanted to pay attention to what you were saying?"
  207. > Another small laugh, accompanied by a shake of his head.
  208. > "Nah. He was fishing for an angle. Rag-press like that, he wants to print his view and he'll dig and dig around until he gets enough to support it."
  209. "...so, wait, he isn't going to-"
  210. > "Uh-uh. Was kind of funny, though, watching you trying to nail it through his head without knowing that. Nah, if we wanted a good, fair report we'd have to go to one of the big papers - the Times, the Post, y'know."
  211. > Downing another swig of your beer, you grumble softly:
  212. "Well, that explains a Tartarus-blasted lot. So why were we bothering with him again?"
  213. > "Because the donations on the internet are drying up, we ran out of respectable papers to interview for a week ago, and rag press-"
  214. > Anonymous reaches into his pocket and pulls out the check to wave at you.
  215. > "-will pay for 'special interviews'.
  216. "So, you did make me a whore. A whore to the... what'd you call them?"
  217. > "Rag press."
  218. "Yeah. That."
  219. > You lightly swat at him with a wing, but your heart really isn't in it.
  220. > There was a point made there, after all.
  221. "So, what happened to being open with each other, huh?"
  222. > "I... actually thought you kind of understood it. Going into a tiny old building like that, how grubby the offices were..."
  223. > Rubbing the back of his head, Anonymous grimaces.
  224. > "Sorry."
  225. "Nah, s'fine."
  226. > Burying your muzzle in the wing, you nose around until you find the feathers that'd been bothering you.
  227.  
  228. > A quick tug, and they're out - to be spat to float gently down onto the table.
  229. > Of course, the itch quickly jumps to beneath your collar.
  230. > Lifting a hoof, you use it to weakly kick at the collar a few times - sending the leash jingling softly - but at the same time you're well aware it's mostly in your head.
  231. "I dunno. I guess part of me still wants to be optimistic, thinking we'll go into these things and actually change something..."
  232. > "I know, Spits."
  233. "Let even more see how good we're doing. That you and I can work together like this."
  234. > The itch has jumped to an ear, but you manage to reduce any response to just an annoyed flick.
  235. "I guess... y'know that's kind of what we did back home? Me and the Wonderbolts. We didn't just show off flying, but our teamwork and coordination too. All the stuff I was saying back there, about trust and all that - it applied to the 'bolts too."
  236. > "You were thinking you could do some of that inspirational stuff here too, huh?"
  237. "Yeah."
  238. > Another ear flick - out of pure annoyance this time.
  239. "I guess that was kind of a stupid thing to hope for, huh?"
  240. > "Nah."
  241. > You gasp a bit as Anonymous takes the offending ear between finger and thumb and starts rubbing.
  242. > Oooh, that feels good.
  243. > Far, far more good than you'll ever admit to him.
  244. > ...also stop making such a happy face, girl.
  245. > You look like a stallion just got finished with you, for Celestia's sake!
  246. "Y-You don't think so?"
  247. > "Nah."
  248. > A pause, as he reconsiders.
  249. > "Okay, with that particular rag? Maybe. But in general, Spits... no, it's not crazy to want to yell it out for anyone who'll listen."
  250. > Finally he lets go of your ear - he was trapping you, you could've moved away if you wanted to - Anonymous leans back in his seat.
  251. > You take the opportunity to swig another mouthful of the watery beer.
  252. > "Besides, I've just got a feeling about these sorts of things - and I figure you're bound to run into someone who'll listen pretty soon."
  253.  
  254. --------------------------------
  255.  
  256. "Christmas"
  257.  
  258. > If there's one thing to be said about humans, it's this:
  259. > They know how to decorate.
  260. > From the ground, you could see individual homes - the wreaths, the 'icicles', the inflatable characters, the sleighs, and all.
  261. > But from the air...
  262. > From the air it was a sprawling carpet, a kaleidoscope pastiche of blinking, winkling, gleaming, flashing, pulsating lights in a mesmerizingly blanket spread miles-wide.
  263. > A miles-wide monument to their decadence, putting even the lanterns that had once lit Cloudsdale through Hearth's Warming Eve to shame.
  264. > ...but a damn beautiful one from the air, if you dare say so.
  265. > Like moonlight glittering on snow.
  266. > Tucking your wings, you roll hard into a dive - piercing straight through the whispy edge of a cloud - tendrils breaking off to trail after you in a swirling helix.
  267. > Less than twenty feet from the rooftops, you snap your wings open.
  268. > A burst of snow, deposited the night before, puffs up around you - fine grit coating your body only to melt away a moment later under the heat radiating from you.
  269. > Another roll as you scan the streets for-
  270. > There he is.
  271. > This time you come down rather more softly, and Anonymous looks up as your hooves sound on the icy sidewalk.
  272. > "Hey there. Enjoy yourself?"
  273. "You have no idea."
  274. > Pausing, you shake wildly - spraying the last droplets of snowmelt and sweat that had clung to you.
  275. > Anonymous had wisely recognized the signs, backing firmly away as the droplets splatter about.
  276. > "You all done? Or do I need to find a towel?"
  277. "I'll be fine. We're pegasi, we get winter coats - remember?"
  278. > "As if I could forget."
  279. > Smirking, Anonymous leans over to ruffle your withers with his hand - though wisely keeping it still gloved.
  280. > "You've gotten so fluffy!"
  281. "Hey, hey, hey!"
  282. > Ducking away, you stick your tongue out.
  283. "They're guard hairs! I am not fluffy!"
  284. > Yes you a- ackpth! Hey, quit it!"
  285. > Giggling, you lower the wing you'd used to flick icy droplets in his direction.
  286. "Hah. Another win for me."
  287.  
  288. > Rolling his eyes, Anonymous pulls his heavy coat back around himself.
  289. > "Yeah, yeah. Let's go get some hot food."
  290. "Hot food sounds... amazing."
  291. > "I know a good place; c'mon. We can grab an Uber back to the docks when we're done."
  292. > The 'good place' turns out to be a bare hole-in-the-wall establishment wedged between two towering old apartment buildings.
  293. > Paint peels from walls, and faded photos of humans you didn't know but who were surely important to the man at the register lined the walls.
  294. > A bare few naked bulbs hung from the ceiling, doing little more to dispel the shadows than the vaguely-flickering strands of bulbs hung over the dirtied windows at the front.
  295. > Not that any of this was bad.
  296. > It left you with a sense of... familiarity, more than any of the supermarkets with their rows and rows of food in neat boxes and shiny-wrapped plastic packages.
  297. > The hissing of boiling water or oil.
  298. > The broad mix of smells wafting on steam or smoke from the cramped kitchen behind the desk, one that leaves your head tilted up and nostrils flared .
  299. > The yelled commands in urgent voices, some in languages you did not understand.
  300. > On the contrary - if anything, it made you...
  301. > Homesick.
  302. > This was the kind of place you'd known at home:
  303. > Where a place where the owners would rise before dawn to start cooking and worked until long after the sun went down.
  304. > The kind of place you'd shot through in and out on eager wings before making the early-morning group exercises with the rest of the bolts.
  305. > Where you'd crash in - sometimes literally - after another successful tour, rewarding yourself for another job well done.
  306. > Where they'd leave a pie cooling out on the windowsill, knowing Soarin - ever on the edge of being late, but always appearing with belly full a second before you could chew him out - would grab it and leave behind a little bag of Bits in return.
  307. > Hell, this time of year there'd probably have been Hearth's Warming carolers.
  308.  
  309. > You could almost hear the notes of old songs, echoing out over Cloudsdale as the sun was lowered and the sky was lit by stars from above and swarms of gently-drifting colored lanterns from below.
  310. > ...wait.
  311. > Your ears prick, swiveling attentively.
  312. > That was singing!
  313. > Head held high, you catch another burst of notes as the door is opened.
  314. > Following it out you immediately find yourself turning down a nearby alleyway.
  315. > The voices only grow stronger, until you clamber over a wall and find yourself among-
  316. > Three?
  317. > No, four.
  318. > Four ponies in a little circle, singing softly among each other.
  319. > Without even realizing it you've added your voice to the song; their ears and then heads turn as they become aware of you but nopony stops.
  320. > Soon enough another pony arrives, also drawn by the soft swinging.
  321. > At last the song ends, the last few notes fading away.
  322. > Everypony looks among each other, nopony seeming to know what to say.
  323. > Finally one pony - the one who'd arrived after you - points to himself:
  324. > "Sunshower."
  325. > "I'm Creme Brulee. That's my sister-"
  326. > The mare speaking points to another - nearly identical beneath the scarves wrapped around her.
  327. > "-Crema Cremada."
  328. > As if an invisible wall had come crashing down, everypony crowds in.
  329. > "Aurora Gaze."
  330. "Spitfire."
  331. > "You're from around here?"
  332. > Crema Cremada nods.
  333. > "Yes. We live a few floors up; our owner's a nice old woman. She doesn't mind if we go out. You?"
  334. > "A few blocks down. I'll probably get a lecture for being late with my errand, but I heard the singing..."
  335. "He's grabbing dinner next door."
  336. > Aurora Gaze stares at the ground, hesitating.
  337. > "...runaway."
  338. > Sunshower extends a wing out across Aurora's back.
  339. "They don't mind you... y'know, singing about our own ways? Making our own nation?"
  340. > "Like I care if they would."
  341. > Creme Brulee shakes her head at the bitter comment.
  342. > "Mistress doesn't, but we got ice thrown at us when we were singing out on the sidewalk. That's why we're back here."
  343.  
  344. "...probably wouldn't give a damn. He's pretty relaxed."
  345. > "Someone else would."
  346. > Sunshower nods to Creme Brulee.
  347. > "I accidentally wished someone a happy Hearth's Warming by accident yesterday. It... didn't go over well.
  348. > You hiss softly through your teeth, noting the darkened patches in her custard-yellow coat.
  349. "Your owner didn't stop that?"
  350. > "He wasn't there. And no one else would."
  351. > "Hey, when exactly is Hearth's Warming this year?"
  352. "Uh..."
  353. > Eyes going slightly crossed, you try to calculate the difference between Equestria's Moons and this world's years.
  354. "...four days from now, I think?"
  355. > "That sounds right, yes."
  356. "It's good that you're all - still trying, though. The three tribes stood on their own by coming together once, and even if it's not so easy this time we can win by still sticking together."
  357. > "Yeah. We can't forget it."
  358. > "Damn straight."
  359. > "Can't stop us from remembering."
  360. > You open your mouth to respond, but your ears cock at a distant call of your name.
  361. "Sorry, all. That's my time up."
  362. > Halfway through turning, you pause.
  363. > Your legs were fine, but your heart weighed heavier than you could know.
  364. "...I'm glad I found you all, though. I'd - missed this. Maybe more than I realized."
  365. > "Same."
  366. > "Yeah..."
  367. > This time, there's a little smile on your face as you go; Aurora Gaze and Creme Brulee already seemed to be arranging a place for the former to stay for a little while.
  368. > Yet, as you re-emerge back onto the sidewalk the smile is already fading.
  369. > "Hey there, Spits. Dinner's done; you about ready to go?"
  370. "Yeah."
  371. > "...you alright, Spitfire?"
  372. "I... Yeah. Let's go home."
  373. > Back to the plane, tied up against the dock.
  374. > Home, yes - but a cold one this time of the year.
  375. > Cold in touch and heart.
  376. > Or...
  377. "...hey, is there like - a Wal-Mart or something around here?"
  378. > "Uh... I guess? They're Goddamn everywhere."
  379.  
  380. "And do you have like, twenty dollars to spare?"
  381. > "What're you going on about, Spits?"
  382. "An idea."
  383.  
  384. --------
  385.  
  386. > "This is a stupid idea."
  387. "This is a fantastic idea."
  388. > Hovering alongside the plane, you continue playing out the strand of lights in your hooves.
  389. > Behind you, Anonymous clutches a roll of tape - sticking the strands to the metal skin despite his grumbling.
  390. > "I'm really certain this is like, five different kinds of illegal, Spitfire."
  391. "Only if we take off. I read the guidebook."
  392. > "And I'd like to fly tomorrow too!"
  393. "So we can take it off then."
  394. > "If I slip and fall in the water, I'm blaming you!"
  395. > Sticking your tongue out, you snicker at him:
  396. "I'll catch you if you start falling, slowpoke."
  397. > "What, so we can both end up soaked and freezing again? You looking to get all cuddled up under a blanket with me like last time? You know I'd have to get out of my wet clothes, right?"
  398. > ...it's a good thing that the poor lighting on this dock keeps him from seeing the rosy coloring of your cheeks.
  399. "Hah, hah. Is this the last strand?"
  400. > "Uh, yeah."
  401. "Cool. Let's run it up to the cockpit."
  402. > The last wire is dangled in through one of the cockpit's rooftop hatches; Anonymous slams the hatch shut all but for a slight crack for it - and as an afterthought, tapes over the gap too.
  403. "Plug it in!"
  404. > "Yeah, yeah - hold on a second."
  405. > He does, though, and in an instant the whole plane is bathed with the soft glows of red, white, and green bulbs strung from nose to tail.
  406. > Both of you are silent a moment, just taking in how the patterned lights cast shifting shadows through the glass.
  407. > After a moment, Anonymous reaches up to switch off the interior lamps.
  408. > Darkness floods in only to be pushed back by wandering patches of multihued light coming in from outside.
  409. > He speaks first:
  410. > "Wow."
  411. "Yeah..."
  412. > Both your voices were soft.
  413. > A second later, you add:
  414. "...wanna get dinner?"
  415. > "That sounds good, yeah."
  416.  
  417. > He'd bought some sort of wrap - fried vegetables and cheese and delightfully spiced sauce, in a thin but crispy dough-wrap that left juices and oil dripping down your chin.
  418. > You'd both decided to sit in one of the bubbled canopies near the tail, wrapped in blankets against the night's fierce chill and looking out of the bay you'd landed in.
  419. > Far in the distance other lights twinkled, now mirrored by the strands now strung along the plane.
  420. > In the shifting lights, you stuff the last of the wrap into your mouth and savor its fading flavor.
  421. > "That was..."
  422. "...fantastic."
  423. > "Yeah."
  424. > Neither of you are speaking in much more than whispers.
  425. > As if to do so would break the peaceful moment.
  426. > ...in fact, neither of you are speaking much now at all.
  427. > Just watching.
  428. > Staring.
  429. "Hey, Anonymous?"
  430. > “Yeah?”
  431. "I didn't get you a present."
  432. > He snorts in amusement.
  433. > "Didn't really either, y'know? So you don't have to worry about that."
  434. > Wordlessly you point up to the strands of lights outside, greens and reds and whites dancing along like little distant lantern-bearers.
  435. > "...aaand, that doesn't count."
  436. "Yes it does."
  437. > "Does not."
  438. "Does too."
  439. > Both of you are grinning widely at this point.
  440. > "I say it doesn't. And besides, you got me the best present I could ask for - being able to stay flying."
  441. "I'm pretty sure that's not a present either."
  442. > "Then we're equal."
  443. > Another long pause in silence.
  444. "Hey, Anonymous?"
  445. > "Yeah?"
  446. "Merry Christmas."
  447. > His arm settles across your withers - a comfortable and reassuring warmth.
  448. > Ever so slowly you lean in against him, until the back of your head is resting in the crook of his shoulder.
  449. > "...to you too. And what brought this on, if I can ask?"
  450. "Just - while you were getting the food, I ran into some other ponies. We sang a bit-"
  451. > "You can sing?"
  452. "Badly."
  453. > "I want to hear you sing."
  454. "No you don't."
  455. > "Yes I do!"
  456. "Do you want the story or not?"
  457.  
  458. > Laughing, he uses the arm across your back to tousle your mane.
  459. > "Okay, okay. Give it to me."
  460. "...well, y'know, our holiday around now... Hearth's Warming Eve? It's - an old tradition. From when the tribes came together. We stood together and were stronger for it. And I was just..."
  461. > You fall silent, as he rubs at the back of your head.
  462. "...I guess, with all the shit that's happened - I'm glad I've got you. Since you stand by my side as much as the other way around, despite that I'm... a slave. And - it didn't seem right to just go back and not do anything for it."
  463. > "Dawww. That's sweet, Spits."
  464. > Cheeks burning, you duck your head.
  465. "Shuddup."
  466. > "I'm not teasing. I'm glad to have you too. So, uh... Merry Hearth's Warming, I guess?"
  467. "It's not for another four days."
  468. > "So I'll say it again then."
  469. > This time, you extend a wing out across his back.
  470. > Both of you remain sitting there a long time more - leaning against each other, wrapped in blankets.
  471. > Supporting each other.
  472. > Until at last sleep comes for you both.
spitfire /spg/

Fire's Heart [F&S] (Complete)

by Lurkernon

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