GREEN   154    43923   244.28 KB

PEER PRESSURE

By PTFG
Created: 30th December 2020 04:14:23 PM
PTFG Transformation NSFW OC Keyboard Masher

  1.  
  2. >Chad blinks, giving you that sort of thousand yard stare you’d see on a very traditional father whose son just came out of the closet.
  3. >”What.”
  4. >You blushed and composed yourself a little, grinning hard to hide your panting.
  5. “Oh, I meant to ah say thuh-thatireallymeantwasImeanIumand AH!”
  6. >Fucking lordosis reflex again.
  7. >Your front legs buckled, your back legs pushed your butt right up and your tail flicked over and splayed all down your back.
  8. >Chad perked a brow and shrugged, walking back towards you.
  9. >”What are you even doing Anon?”
  10. >You try and fail to stand back up, holy shit your snatch was freaking the fuck out, burning like a mother fucker.
  11. >It felt like something was moving down there, pushing your lower lips out, over and over and over again.
  12. “I’m UH. I’m jUH! Just stretching is UH! L-limber. GUHtta stayyyy…”
  13. >”Anon.”
  14. >Chad crouches down, staring straight into your eyes, slowly nodding his head and waggling his finger in your face.
  15. >It was like he sucked the fake grin off of your face and twisted it into his own crazy fucking smirk.
  16. >He’d always been good at that.
  17. >”You’re in heat.”
  18. “NUH. No…”
  19. >”Yep.”
  20. >You blow your mane out of your eyes and shake your head vigorously, still trying to stand up.
  21. “Nuh uh.”
  22. >”You are.”
  23. “NOH… Nope.”
  24. >”In.”
  25. >You can’t even answer, you’re panting way too hard.
  26. >”Heat.”
  27.  
  28. “Ffffffff…”
  29. >Chad tilts his head and gets closer.
  30. >”What was that?”
  31. “FFFFFFF-“
  32. >”Couldn’t hea-“
  33. “FFFUCK YOU!”
  34. >Chad bolts up, laughing and slapping his knee.
  35. >”You would love to wouldn’t you! HA! Holy shit. Now I know what the hell all that sexual tension was about. I was seriously freaking the fuck out.”
  36. >You shake your whole body and push, finally you can stand up again.
  37. >You sigh and shake your head again, seemed like the heat was abating a little.
  38. >But you could still feel it, in the back of your head.
  39. >Lewdy thoughts.
  40. >Chad looked concerned all of a sudden.
  41. >”You all right Anon? Anything I can do to help or?...”
  42. >You just wave your hoof dismissively as you walk back into Chad’s room to get your essays.
  43. “I’m fine for now. Not really anything you can do about it except get me a towel from my room so I can clean myself off.”
  44. >”Alright, come with me though. You’re going to need something to keep your warm. Submission boxes are two buildings over, remember?”
  45. >Nodding, you pick up your manila envelope full of essays and set it down on Chads’ bed.
  46. >Back up the hallway.
  47. >You’re not even remotely scared this time.
  48. >Trotting easy.
  49. >You stay behind Chad though, and he seems to understand.
  50. >You’re still wet and sticky.
  51. >He opens the door for you.
  52.  
  53. >Back in your room now, and it’s as messy as ever.
  54. >Your Fortress of Blanketude seems to have collapsed, lying in a pile in the center of the room, with your old empty Monster bowl on top of it.
  55. >Chad goes rummaging around in your dresser, searching for a towel and something to wash yourself with while you go sifting around for winterwear.
  56. >Beer bottles clinking as you push them aside, you drag out the basket you keep your clean socks in and stick your head inside.
  57. >Going by feel you find two long, thick pairs of black socks, winter ones meant for going innawoods.
  58. >You bite down and drag them up to toss onto your bed.
  59. >Next…
  60. >You think for a moment.
  61. >Ah.
  62. >Fore legs up on your desk, you mouth over a pair of scissors and your brown wool tuque, then toss them both on the bed too.
  63. >What else…
  64. >You look around the room, fridge, desk, dresser, Chad, drawers and window.
  65. >Blizzard is still raging, looks like it might even be getting harsher.
  66. “I need something to cover my barrel, you got any ideas Chad?”
  67. >Chad peeks out from the dresser, shampoo in hand.
  68. >”I can probably get something from the OC.”
  69. “He’s sleazy and a little creepy though.”
  70. >Chad shrugs.
  71. >”Best option. You know he has clothes for pretty much any size.”
  72. >You sigh and nod.
  73. “Alright.”
  74. >The both of you walk out of your room and over to the bathroom, Chad with a bottle of your shampoo and one of your towels draped over his shoulder
  75. >Down the hall you can hear people’s alarms going off, along with doors creaking open as they get up to piss and wash.
  76. >You quicken the pace, don’t want to get caught waiting in line.
  77. >Chad strides in the bathroom first, twisting the faucet on.
  78.  
  79. >After a few adjustments and some waiting, he gets a warm stream going.
  80. >He starts by soaking the towel, not quite through and through, but enough.
  81. >Next Chad dumps some shampoo on it and soaks that down just a little.
  82. >You back up to give Chad room so he can spread the towel out on the floor for you.
  83. “How many times have I said thanks to you today?”
  84. >Chad laughs and walks out to give you some privacy.
  85. >You smile and shut the door behind him.
  86. >Then sigh.
  87. >Down and dirty.
  88. >You walk onto the towel, get on top of the wet soapy spot Chad made for you.
  89. >The bathroom light suddenly feels like a desert sun, beating cruelly down on you.
  90. >You’re half expecting to hear a buzzard cry out.
  91. >Guess it was the tiles and the colors that they always put in these dorms.
  92. >All bland and white or off white.
  93. >…
  94. >Welp.
  95. >You sit your ass down on the towel and flinch as the water hits your lower lips.
  96. >Should have done it sooner, the water had turned cold.
  97. >You moved around a bit, rubbing yourself against the towel and getting the soap all over your rear.
  98. >Finally you stand up, holding the towel to your butt with a hoof.
  99. >Gently, not wanting to stir up your heat again, you rub the towel in circles against your snatch.
  100. >The cold sends shivers up your spine, but at least you weren’t getting aroused by the touching.
  101. >Done, you fold the towel up by lifting the corners one by one with your mouth.
  102. >You toss it over and drape it onto your back.
  103. >The feeling isn’t quite the same as when Chad washed your mane and neck, but you do feel a bit better now.
  104. >Humming softly, you open up the bathroom door and head back to your room.
  105. >Chad’s there waiting around, putting beer bottles into beer cases and in general tidying up your room.
  106. >He notices you just as you trot in, smiling.
  107.  
  108. >”Got your ass cleaned?”
  109. >You roll your eyes and flatten your ears.
  110. >You answer as you toss your used towel into the hamper.
  111. “Whatever. I need you to help me with these socks.”
  112. >Chad finishes up with the beer bottles while you hop up onto your bed and take off your festive wool socks.
  113. >You tug on the black Kodiaks you’d set out earlier, pretty quick this time too, you’re really starting to get the hang of using your mouth for things.
  114. >Perfect.
  115. >They come up to the top of your thighs on your hind legs and right up to your elbows on your fore legs.
  116. >”What did you want me to do?”
  117. “I set some scissors down on the bed there, cut some holes into my tuque for my ears.”
  118. >Chad picks up the tuque first and pulls it down onto your head.
  119. >You perk your ears up so that he can find them.
  120. >Being careful not to snip you, he cuts out a circle on either side for your ears to pass through and fit in snugly.
  121. >You test the fit, staring up as you flop your ears about, up and down and sideways.
  122. >You nod and Chad slaps you on the back.
  123. >”Good to go. Let’s get you geared up from OC and get the fuck out of here.”
  124.  
  125. >Chad gathers up your manila envelope while you snatch up your wallet.
  126. >You noted that the leather tasted… surprisingly ok.
  127. >After Chad closed and locked your door, the both of you headed down the hall, towards the OC’s room.
  128. >Most of the dorm had cleared out now, down the elevator and into the library or the usual student haunts to study.
  129. >But you knew the OC would still be in.
  130. >The OC was always in.
  131. >You blink, away from your thoughts, zoned back in.
  132. >Chad is knocking on the OC’s door, you take a seat behind him and wait.
  133. >A minute or two passes.
  134. >Chad lights up another cigarette.
  135. >You mime checking a watch with your right fore hoof, staring up at Chad.
  136. >He takes a look at his watch.
  137. >”Eleven O five.”
  138. “Alright.”
  139. >A few more minutes pass in silence, Chad puffing away.
  140. >You’re not really all that phased, it usually takes a while for the OC to answer his door.
  141. >You look for a way to pass the time.
  142. >Eyes up, you start watching a house fly zoom around.
  143. >It keeps doing loop de loops, then it starts to butt its head against the lights in the ceiling, buzzing away.
  144. >Switching constantly, over and over.
  145. >After a while, Chad notices and starts to watch with you.
  146. >All of a sudden, the fly zooms down and lands on your muzzle.
  147. >You snort.
  148. >The fly doesn’t budge an inch.
  149. >You stare cross eyed at it, watching it turn in place to face you.
  150. >Those multifaceted eyes, like a pair of demented surveillance camera mirrors, seem to stare right back.
  151. >Chad chuckles and takes a drag off of his cig.
  152.  
  153. >You stare some more, watching the fly’s little legs click about, how the joints all meet.
  154. >…
  155. >Bored again.
  156. >You shake your head.
  157. >The fly buzzes back up to get to its loop de loops and light tackling.
  158. >…
  159. >You look around for something else to do.
  160. >Chad catches your attention.
  161. >He’s blowing O’s with his cigarette smoke.
  162. >Just some simple little ones, two or three in quick succession.
  163. >You smirk and set down your wallet.
  164. “Bet you I’m still the best at smoke tricks. Even as a little horse.”
  165. >Chad rolls his eyes as he digs around in his pocket for an extra rollie.
  166. >He hands a cigarette over, dropping it onto your raised hoof.
  167. >You bring the cig to your mouth and let Chad light it for you.
  168. >Test drag.
  169. >You cough a little the first go, but the second one goes in and out just fine.
  170. >It’s a little awkward holding the cig up with your hoof though.
  171. >”Well?”
  172. >Chad is looking at you expectantly.
  173. >You grin and take a drag.
  174. >Hold it in…
  175. >Mouth like this?
  176. >No.
  177. >You adjust your tongue.
  178. >Breathe out.
  179. >You let out a nice big solid smoke O, strands of smoke drift off of it as it moves through the air, collapsing.
  180. >Then you breathe out again, but a bit quicker.
  181. >A smaller O succeeds it, passing through the first O.
  182.  
  183. >Chad smiles, then does a trick of his own.
  184. >He lets out a big puff of smoke slowly, letting it just float out.
  185. >It's almost cloud like, just sort of hovering in air, but its edges are dissociating into thin air.
  186. >Then he sucks part of it back in, gaping mouth snapping shut.
  187. >After a second, the smoke he sucked back in starts flowing out from his nose to join the big puff.
  188. >You nod with approval and match him, letting torrents of smoke pour out from your nostrils.
  189. >It looks pretty sweet with your pony face.
  190. >Another drag and you do it again, except this time you make the torrents into twin streams of little O’s.
  191. >Chad shakes his head at that one, still smiling.
  192. >He tries it, taking a real long puff.
  193. >But he only manages to get a few weak O’s on the way out.
  194. “Ha. Like I said, still the best.”
  195. >”Whatever.”
  196. >The OC’s door swings open.
  197.  
  198. >”Hey Chad.”
  199. >”Well hello Chad! And… Horse! Pony? Anyone’s welcome here, come in, come right in!”
  200. >You mouthed your wallet and wondered just what it was that bothered you the most about the OC.
  201. >The Other Chad.
  202. >Ever since the first day you saw him in high school you’d known he was a fucking cheat and a lowly, creepy bastard.
  203. >Was it the smile?
  204. >The OC had always had this fucking hollow charisma to him, and he showed it the most with that goddamn smile of his.
  205. >The sort of smile that looked like it had been photoshopped on, like it had been put overtop of a completely neutral expression and if you took it away, the only change would be that the smile was gone.
  206. >Maybe it was the looks.
  207. >The real Chad had the black hair, “tall dark stranger” look to him, he was relatable.
  208. >The OC was too handsome, you could see that for sure being a chick now.
  209. >It was just… Off.
  210. >Blonde hair slicked back, green eyes like opaque glass and the build of a twiggy snake oil salesman.
  211. >That’s what he fucking was when you got right down to it.
  212. >A snake oil salesman, a discount snake oil salesman at that.
  213. >He managed to look and move like he was wearing a tweed suit even when he had jeans and a t shirt on.
  214. >You and Chad followed him into his room.
  215. >The whole thing was packed full of shelves, baskets and boxes.
  216. >Everything was covered in cheapo Chinese knockoff shit and bargain bin clothes.
  217. >But you knew the OC had better stuff stored away.
  218. >For “regulars” like you and Chad.
  219. >As much as you and Chad didn’t like the OC, he sold the best weed on campus, along with pretty much every other drug you could ever imagine and fail to pronounce.
  220. >The OC smiled and did a little bow to the both of you.
  221. >You and Chad just puffed at your cigs.
  222.  
  223. >Not deterred, Other Chad smiled on and started to rummage around in his dresser, pulling out drug paraphernalia and all sorts of high quality accessories and clothing.
  224. >You made note of the fact that he’d gotten girly stuff out too, gold necklaces just your size.
  225. >Fucking…
  226. >Creep.
  227. >”So! What can I do you for Chad? Or maybe your little friend wanted something?”
  228. >Stock all layed out on his desk, Other Chad crouched down and smiled right at you.
  229. “It’s Anonymous.”
  230. >You could see just a little bit of surprise in those soulless eyes, but it was gone in an instant.
  231. >He stood up, nodding and rubbing the little bit of scruff on his chin.
  232. >”Ah of course. Taking the new drug that’s all the rage huh? Pon-E. I have some more of that right here if you’re interested?”
  233. >”He wasn’t taking it recreationally, got it slipped to him. Anyway, Chad, Anonymous is looking to get some clothes. A hoodie would be good.”
  234. >Chad butts out his cigarette on the floor.
  235. >The OC didn’t even look like he was going to protest against it.
  236. >You know he wouldn’t dare, not after what happened the last time he’d “made a deal” with you and Chad.
  237. >You do the same as Chad, stomping a hoof down to put it out.
  238. >The OC nods slowly, then grabs a measuring tape.
  239. >You get the idea as he crouches down in front of you, and stretch out a fore limb.
  240. >Other Chad checks your measurements, neck length, fore leg length, the width of your barrel.
  241. >Nodding, he starts sorting through his boxes picking out clothes.
  242. >After a minute or he has three hoodies out, all in black.
  243. >You grab the warmest looking one and slip it on.
  244. >Wow.
  245. >It’s actually a perfect fit.
  246. >You don’t even want to know just how the OC might have gotten his hands on merch like this.
  247. >You pull the zipper up with your mouth, it has an extra-large bit on it for you to bite down on.
  248. >The hood is grey fleece on the inside, with a black tough cloth layer on the outside and a white fur trim.
  249.  
  250. >Down the back and around your barrel is the same cloth, stopping to make way for a softer material for the pockets.
  251. >No logos, not even a tag on the inside.
  252. >No logos doesn’t ease your suspicions that the OC got it from some underground pony clothing manufacturer, but it does suit your tastes.
  253. “Yeah this’ll do. How much do you want for it Chad?”
  254. >Real Chad eyes it, checking the fit for himself, tugging at the back while you talk to the OC.
  255. >”35 dollars. And since you’re such a good patron, I’ll toss in some Pon-E on the house. How does that sound?”
  256. >Other Chad smiles and pulls a little clear pill bottle out of his pocket, there’s four of the little white tablets inside.
  257. >You frown, your ears flatten.
  258. “What? You think I’ll buy it and come back for more later don’t you? Jesus fucking Christ, Chad.”
  259. >The OC just shrugs and tucks the bottle away, then extends his open hand.
  260. >You open up your wallet and tug a ten, a twenty and a five out of it, then set them both in Other Chad’s hand.
  261. >He does that stupid little bow again as he pockets the cash.
  262. >If it were anyone else, you might be worried about pissing them off and getting cut off, but the OC didn’t give a shit about what people did to offend him.
  263. >Money was all that mattered, and you and Chad paid.
  264. >”Well gentleman and gentlemare, I’m assuming that that’s all?”
  265. >”Yeah. Bye.”
  266. >You and Chad turn right around and walk out, not another word.
  267. >The OC closes the door as soon as the both of you leave.
  268.  
  269. “That guy is a fucking creep and a half.”
  270. >Chad just shrugs and draws a ciggy.
  271. >”Yep.”
  272. >He holds out another cigarette for you.
  273. >”Want one?”
  274. “Naw I’m fine.”
  275. >Chad lights up.
  276. >You sigh and start trotting, down the hall towards the elevator.
  277. >Chad follows along behind you, taking his time.
  278. >He seems to be examining each door, eyeing up the little post it notes and things that people put on them.
  279. >You aren’t really in a good enough mood to care.
  280. >The two of you walk in silence, nothing but the electric buzz of lights and the clip clop of your hooves.
  281. >Then…
  282. >”Brandon you fucking dickweed, give me back my dildobat. Sincerely, Todd.”
  283. >You snort.
  284. >Chad is still just walking along, hands stuffed into his pockets and puffing away at his cigarette.
  285. >But he’s checking every door and reading it straight faced.
  286. >”Here’s a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad in a shitty diaper, please come kill me so that I don’t have to do my finals.”
  287. >A smile is creeping up your muzzle.
  288. >Chad is still nonchalant.
  289. >It’s quiet again for a while, but then Chad stops dead, staring at this one door.
  290. “Wh-“
  291. >”Fuck off Todd, I’m putting it to good use on your whore girlfriend. Sincerely, Brandon.”
  292. >You bust a gut laughing.
  293. “What?! Seriously? I don’t fucking believe you, there’s no way that’s actually there.”
  294. >Chad shrugs and smiles, pointing at the door like he doesn’t believe it either.
  295. >”Seriously.”
  296.  
  297. >You trot over and look.
  298. >There it is, in all its glory.
  299. >Hell there’s even a little stick figure cartoon of Brandon stuffing the dildo bat up Todd’s girlfriend’s ass.
  300. >You shake your head and smile, turning around.
  301. >The two of you keep on going.
  302. >You’ve got more spring in your step this time around.
  303. >Just a clip clop round the corner and you’re there.
  304. >Up to the elevator button, you hop on two legs and boop it with your nose.
  305. >Chad chuckles and gets settled, leaning up against the wall.
  306. >One last puff before he puts out his cigarette.
  307. >All four elevators are hovering around the upper levels at the moment.
  308. >You eye the displays intently, before looking at the elevator doors themselves.
  309. >It must be a job and a half for the cleaning lady to keep them spotless.
  310. >Steel, but so polished and pure that it may as well be a mirror.
  311. >Your reflection.
  312. >It’s the first time you’ve really looked at yourself, without thinking that you’re either going insane or experiencing hallucinations from a lack of sleep.
  313. >Huh.
  314. >You do a little wave to yourself, flick your ears, and twitch your tail.
  315. >You WERE cute.
  316. >Blue eyes, big and expressive.
  317. >Blonde mane and tail, luxuriant and shiny.
  318. >The white fur, pure as snow.
  319. >And that butt mark, the broken keyboard…
  320. >Whatever that was about.
  321. >You adjusted your hoodie a little, pulled your socks up and your tuque down.
  322. >Big smile.
  323. >Yeah you were adorable.
  324. >”Don’t drown in that pool, Narcissus.”
  325.  
  326. “Shut up, Echo.”
  327. >You can see Chad reflected on the elevator door, smiling.
  328. >You smile back and sit down.
  329. >There comes a rattling and the elevator dings.
  330. >The mirror separates, the door opens up on the empty elevator compartment.
  331. >The walls on the inside are the same as the doors, nearly perfect mirrors, reflecting on and on.
  332. >You pull your hood on and walk in, Chad follows.
  333. >He pushed the button for the lobby before backing up into the corner.
  334. >Thirteen floors to go down.
  335. >”We still going to the mall like you planned?”
  336. >You nod and start staring at you reflection again, watching the infinite ponies nod in unison.
  337. “Yeah. Thot said she wasn’t coming though, so it’s just going to be us.”
  338. >”Probably for the best actually.”
  339. >You snort and giggle.
  340. “She’s going to flip her shit.”
  341. >Chad perks a brow.
  342. >”Everyone is going to flip their collective shit.”
  343. >You shrug back.
  344. “You didn’t.”
  345. >”I freaked a little bit.”
  346. >Smirking, you playfully smack Chad’s leg.
  347. “Crushing on me is not freaking out.”
  348. >Chad coughs into his fist and looks away.
  349. >”And Monster Energy isn’t satanic. But you don’t see me telling you that, in reality, it’s owned by the Rothschilds.”
  350. >You just roll your eyes and trot out of the elevator once the door opens.
  351. >Red brick walls and brown tile flooring.
  352. >You and Chad have reached the lobby.
  353.  
  354. >There are a few people milling about, but they’re far too occupied to do anything but double take when you trot by.
  355. “Well shit. I thought I could get a whole crowd of people running in fear.”
  356. >”Not with a prize winning smile like that you won’t.”
  357. >You chuckle at that, trotting at a decent clip down into the main hallway.
  358. >Chad catches up, tucking your manila envelope full of essays away into his hoodie as he goes.
  359. >The both of you turn onto the primary vein of the university, where everyone heads to get outside or get a snack.
  360. >It’s all a big hustle bustle right now, with students walking, talking, texting and studying in the nooks and crannies.
  361. >There’s a Tim Hortons here, with the usual mile long lineup.
  362. >Along with a seating area just outside of it, filled to the brim with plenty of the more pretentious students and their Macbooks.
  363. >Chad gets alongside you.
  364. >You realize he’s doing it to hide you from the crowd.
  365. “Don’t worry about it Chad. It’s going to happen sooner or later.”
  366. >Chad looks down at you with concern, brows furrowed.
  367. >You smile matter-of-factly back.
  368. “This is permanent remember? Got my whole life to risk getting swarmed and mob cuddled.”
  369. >Sighing, he acquiesces and gets on your other side, exposing you to the eyes of the lineup.
  370. >You get a few gasps and plenty of pointing, but luckily no one comes running up for a free hug.
  371.  
  372. >And so begins your life as a walking talking mascot.
  373. >You decide to have some fun and throw in a little wave and a smile for all the people staring.
  374. >You’re immediately rewarded with tons of chatter and a few oohs and awwws.
  375. >Camera phones are whipped out, Twitters are logged into.
  376. >Already, you can see and hear texts being received all around as people spread the word.
  377. >You laugh and look away, back to your destination.
  378. “Wonder how long I’ll trend for.”
  379. >Chad pulls out his phone to check out the activity for himself as the both of you pass the Tim Horton’s by, into quieter halls.
  380. >”Probably a week or so. Then there’ll be another shooting or a ‘riot’ and the media will get right back to spinning their narrative.”
  381. >You check behind you, the whole crowd from the Tim’s is still all a flutter.
  382. >Looked like someone had knocked over a beehive.
  383. >There’s a few of the more inconsiderate people following along behind you and Chad, still maintaining a good distance, but you can tell that won’t last for long.
  384. “Let’s say I believe all of your crazy theories and crap. What would they be doing with my story?”
  385. >Chad shrugs and taps away at his phone.
  386. >”Not a clue to be honest. I’m seriously uninformed about Pon-E. My guess is it’s a plot by the Masons.”
  387. >You allow the crazy some room in your head for a moment, and try to understand what Chad is actually suggesting.
  388. >…
  389. >Nope, nothing.
  390. “Soooo…?”
  391. >”Eh, who the fuck knows. The Masons are fucking crazy.”
  392. “You do realize the irony of you saying that right?”
  393. >Chad chuckles and musses up your mane.
  394. >”Fuck off.”
  395. >You scrunch and pull your hood up again.
  396. “For real though. What going around about me?”
  397. >Chad taps his phone a few more times, then he shows it to you.
  398.  
  399. >There’s a picture right there of you, smiling and waving to the camera.
  400. >Your mane really makes the cuteness here, hanging just right so that it sort of covers one of your eyes.
  401. “ ‘She’s sooo cute! #keyboardmasher’ ”
  402. >Scroll down, now it’s a video of you trotting alongside Chad, he’s flipping off the person holding the camera the whole time.
  403. >You take the time to recollect your sides after that one before reading what the poster said.
  404. “ ‘Wow her friend is pretty rude. I guess he really doesn’t want people bothering #keyboardmasher’ What the hell does hashtag keyboardmasher even mean?”
  405. >Chad brings the phone back up.
  406. >”It’s what they’re calling you.”
  407. “Keyboard Masher.”
  408. >”Yup.”
  409. >Why?
  410. >What the hell did keyboards even have to do with you?
  411. >You-
  412. >Butt mark.
  413. >You whip your head around and stare at it.
  414. >Broken keyboard -> Keyboard Masher.
  415. >You sigh and shake your head.
  416. “Of fucking course.”
  417. >Chad smirks, still scrolling through your hashtag.
  418. >”Get it now?”
  419. >Suddenly Chad’s smirk disappears, making way for pure unfiltered anger.
  420. >He turns around and glares down the hall at the train of people following.
  421. >They stop dead too.
  422. >”Hey! Carl fucking Rosenburg! FUCK OFF. GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE. A picture is one fucking thing, but that shit you posted is fucking intolerable! How about you get over here and say that to my face you fucking sperg!”
  423. >The crowd stops, you can see them talking amongst themselves.
  424. >A few shouts go up and one fatass ginger gets pushed out of the mob.
  425.  
  426. >You can hear him stutter and splutter out some apologies before he goes running in the other direction.
  427. >You’re about to keep moving but Chad isn’t done yet.
  428. >”The rest of you fuck off too! She has shit she has to do, you leeches aren’t welcome!”
  429. >There’s some uproar at that, a few people holler back.
  430. >”I can do whatever the hell I want!”
  431. >”Maybe you should let her decide huh asshole!?”
  432. >But most of the crowd seems to get the idea.
  433. >People take a few parting pictures and videos before turning around and leaving you be.
  434. >You stare, back and forth from Chad’s angry glare to the dispersing mob.
  435. >Eventually there’s just one or two stragglers left, some creepy fucks with greasy hair.
  436. >”Fuckers…”
  437. >Chad looks seriously pissed now, he starts to walk towards them but you tap at his leg and shake your head.
  438. “Don’t, man. Here let me try.”
  439. >You step closer so that the last few followers can hear you.
  440. “Hey guys, could you please just let me be on my way? There’ll be plenty of other opportunities to take pictures or whatever, it’s just that right now I need to do some important stuff and I’d like some privacy. Is that okay?”
  441. >Nods and mumbles.
  442. >They all head off, reluctantly, snapping pictures over their shoulders as they go.
  443. >You sigh and get on your way, Chad in tow.
  444. >”Y-YOU’RE REALLY CUTE BUTTON MASHER! I JUST… I’M SORRY ABOUT WHAT I SAID.”
  445. >It’s that fat ginger, Carl or whatever, standing a ways back and snapping pictures as he apologizes for whatever the hell.
  446. >Chad steps in front of you and you peek around his legs, not really sure how to react.
  447. >It takes a few seconds of dead silence and some angry glaring from Chad before Carl gets the idea and leaves.
  448. >”Fucking… Fuck.”
  449. >Chad turns around and strides ahead, pulling on his hood.
  450. >You pick up the pace and follow, hooves clopping against the hard tile.
  451.  
  452. >The exit outdoors is just a few steps away.
  453. >You cut Chad off and get yourself between the door and him.
  454. >Frowning, you take a seat.
  455. >Chad sighs and shakes his head, pulling his phone out of his pocket.
  456. >”Here.”
  457. >He holds it up to your face, finger poised to scroll down for you.
  458. “Thank you.”
  459. >It’s a series of Twitter posts by Carl Rosenburg, an archive since he’s deleted them all.
  460. >The first one has a picture of Chad mussing up your mane.
  461. >’Wow never figured #buttonmasher would be into a jerk like this guy. She’s off to a bad start in my books, she’d be much better off with a real nice guy to take care of her.’
  462. “Next.”
  463. >Chad brings the next one up.
  464. >The next one is a video of you laughing, Chad is showing you the tweets that are already being passed around on his phone.
  465. >’Wonder what a jerk could find that’s actually funny. Nothing. #buttonmasher just laughing for his sake.’
  466. “Next.”
  467. >It’s the last one that was deleted, the picture is Chad smirking while you scrunch at him.
  468. >’Just look at him, he obviously shouldn’t be anywhere near #buttonmasher but I guess he gets a free pass because he looks good.’
  469. >…
  470. >You laugh and shake your head.
  471. “Holy fuck what a loser. Literally like… What? Five minutes watching me and he talks like he’s been keeping an eye on me and you for years. Did this stupid fuck post anything else? What are the responses?”
  472. >Chad seems a lot happier now, seeing your positive reaction.
  473. >He shows you.
  474. >The responses were all against Carl, people saying he was creepy and what not.
  475. >A lot of them were defending Chad, saying that he had a foul mouth but a golden heart.
  476.  
  477. >The consensus it seems, was that Chad was looking out for you in his own way, a sort of big bad papa wolf.
  478. >Hell, a hashtag had been made for him too.
  479. “#keyboardbouncer. Pffft. How’s it feel to be a real life white knight, Chad?”
  480. >It looked like Carl had fallen in line with Chad’s defenders too, his latest tweet was from when he tried to apologize to you.
  481. >The attached picture was of that moment when Chad was standing in front of you looking like he was about to commit a double homicide with his bare hands, with you peering adorably around him and at the camera, looking bemused and worried.
  482. >Mostly because you thought Chad might get arrested for aggravated assault.
  483. “ ‘#keyboardbouncer showing his fangs! No one will mess with his little pony! #keyboardmasher’ Yeah, peer pressure is a bitch huh? What a joke.”
  484. >You giggle and Chad looks to be in a much better mood.
  485. >Relieved would be the best way to put it.
  486. >He smiles and laughs back, tucking his phone away.
  487. >”Let’s get the fuck out of here and into the snow.”
  488.  
  489. >You turn your head to look outside.
  490. >The blizzard seems to be on the decline now, it still looks pretty vicious, but the snow isn’t coming down sideways anymore.
  491. >More like a 45 degree angle.
  492. >There isn’t a single patch of uncovered ground outside, the paved walkways have become snowy trenches between snow drifts.
  493. >Before today you wouldn’t really be bothered.
  494. >But that was back when you were a bear mode Canuckian.
  495. >Right now you’re a little horse and you don’t know just how effective your fur actually is.
  496. >Your guess is not very effective at all.
  497. >You shiver.
  498. >”I can carry you in my hoodie if you want me to.”
  499. >Chad’s watching the snow come down too, flicking his lighter idly.
  500. “I’ll be fine.”
  501. >You stand up, Chad walks over and opens the door for you.
  502. >The wind comes howling in, snowflakes whipping through the air.
  503. >A couple steps and you’re out, hooves crunching against the snow.
  504. >You feel a little chill and the snow puts you off balance, but you get used to it around the third step.
  505. >Chad is following along behind you, unfazed.
  506. >…
  507. >Huh.
  508. >Pretty anticlimactic.
  509. >You don’t feel any colder or warmer than you normally would, your fur keeps your lower parts from freezing and the hoodie is keeping your upper nice and cozy.
  510. >Welp.
  511. >You shrug and trudge on, hood up to guard your face from the high winds.
  512. >Eyes forward, you can’t really see much.
  513. >Just the red brick, glass and steel faces of the buildings all around.
  514. >They seem painted in cool colors by the weather, bright steel becoming dull grey and shining glass turning to terse blue.
  515.  
  516. >The trees all around are black and lifeless, but for the huge red pine at the heart of the campus.
  517. >There’s not a soul outside except for you and Chad to witness it, but the red pine stands as tall and immovable as it always has.
  518. >It’s been around since the inception of the university, at the start of the city itself.
  519. >A proud monument of nature in the coronary of a growing metropolis.
  520. >Your mind drifts a little with the snow, watching the pine.
  521. >The top sways somewhat in the wind, but the trunk stays firmly rooted.
  522. >From what you remember, it’s over two hundred years old.
  523. >It stood and watched the university build itself from the ground up.
  524. >Then it stood and watched as well over three quarters of the university burnt to the ground.
  525. >And it’s been standing ever since, watching the university regenerate.
  526. >You mumble under the wind.
  527. “Who’s the watched and who’s the watcher? Huh?”
  528. >Chad doesn’t seem to be quite as enraptured with the pine as you, he’s eyeing it every now and then but for the most part he’s watching your hooves.
  529. >Probably ready to jump in if you fall.
  530. >All of a sudden the wind picks up in a big gust, you can hear it screaming through the divides between the campus buildings.
  531. >You stop and plant your hooves.
  532. >The wind smacks you, blowing your mane and tail astray, dragging you sideways.
  533. >Just when you think it’s about to end, the wind gets even stronger, gathers up and pounds you.
  534. >Your hooves slip against the snow and you go sliding to the left.
  535. “Ah! Oof.”
  536. >Right into Chad’s legs.
  537. >”You alright?! Still sure you don’t want me to carry you?!”
  538. >He’s sounds a little concerned, hollering over the wind, but you can tell he’s busting your balls with that little smile of his.
  539. >You huff and push away from him, then holler back.
  540. “Fuck off Chad!”
  541. >On you go, leaning against the wind.
  542.  
  543. >Chad of course has no problems at all.
  544. >He’s just striding casually, shivering every now and then, but mostly unaffected.
  545. >The chill is starting to seep in now for you, right around your legs, especially your hind legs.
  546. >The wind beats constantly against you, threatening to send you sliding across the ground again at any moment.
  547. “On the decline I said… At least it isn’t coming down sideways I said…”
  548. >The Atrium building, your destination, is just a little ways away.
  549. >Just a minute or two and you’ll be there.
  550. >…
  551. >You steel yourself and pick up the pace.
  552. >The distance gets shorter, bit by bit, step by step.
  553. >But the cold is closing the distance too, creeping up your legs and towards your barrel.
  554. >Your right side is starting to get packed with snow.
  555. >Every other step you’re shivering.
  556. >You turn you head to look at Chad for a second.
  557. >He’s wrapped himself up tighter in his hoodie, his hood is up and he’s tucked his hands into his pockets, his entire right side is covered with snow like you.
  558. >Back to the front.
  559. >You’re finally at the threshold.
  560. >Chad gets the door open for you.
  561. >The relief is immediate once you step inside and onto the entryway carpet.
  562. “Thank fuck.”
  563. >You shake off all the excess snow.
  564. >A couple stomps and you get the packed snow out of your hooves.
  565. >Chad does the same, chuckling every now and then.
  566. “What’s so funny?”
  567. >He just shakes his head and points into the Atrium proper, beyond the glass doors of the vestibule.
  568. >A wall of cellphones and smiling and shocked faces.
  569. >No one is just studying in the corners, there’s no one in the Atrium right now who isn’t looking at you.
  570.  
  571. “Oh.”
  572. >You take it all in, ears perked, eyes widening as you realize the scope.
  573. >The Atrium is pretty much at maximum capacity.
  574. >Most of its rather beautiful architecture was concealed by piles and piles of people standing around, the upper floor balcony was just lined from end to end with them.
  575. >Seating areas were stuffed with people taking pictures, the café was overflowing.
  576. >There were a few people hanging around the library entrance too, and you could tell the librarian was livid about it, even at this distance.
  577. >Hell, you can even see security guards in the back blocking doors and trying to get people to disperse a little.
  578. >”You want me to carry you?”
  579. >Chad was most certainly serious, and not at all tormenting you when he asked you that.
  580. >He’s staring down at you, brows furrowed as he digs around in his pocket for a lighter.
  581. >You consider his proposal, taking a seat while you think things over.
  582. >…
  583. “That will either make things way better or way worse. On the one hoof, it’ll definitely keep me from getting trampled, and it might just discourage them from getting too close. On the other hoof, people might actually swarm on me even more since it’ll be the ‘oh I’ve got a new puppy guys here it is in my arms come pet it’ sort of look.”
  584. >Sighing, Chad lights up a cigarette.
  585. >You can’t blame him in the least.
  586. >A quick peek at the mob shows that they aren’t going anywhere soon, luckily they hadn’t yet decided to just come to you yet.
  587. >Time to catch your breath then.
  588. >In…
  589. >Out...
  590. >Chad gets busy spending his breath, puffing away at his cig.
  591. >”Wait…”
  592. >Holy shit yes he has an idea.
  593. “Yeah?”
  594. >Chad takes a drag and leans back against the wall behind him.
  595.  
  596. >”Did you just say on the one hoof? Fucking hell Anon, please.”
  597. “Fuck you Chad. Don’t just get my hopes up like that.”
  598. >…
  599. “Any ideas?”
  600. >Chad shrugs.
  601. >”Not really.”
  602. “Hahhhhh… Fuck it. I’ll just walk. Pick me up if things get scary.”
  603. >Nodding, Chad walks up to the door and opens it for you.
  604. >Your ears are immediately bombarded with people yelling out your new pseudonym, among other things.
  605. >”CAN I PET YOU KEYBOARD MASHER!?”
  606. >”KEYBOARD MASHER YOU’RE THE CUTEST DON’T LET ANYBODY GET YOU DOWN!”
  607. >”CAN I GET A SELFIE WITH YOU!?”
  608. >”HEY KEYBOARD BOUNCER! SHOW ME THOSE MUSCLES!”
  609. >Your ears flop right down, trying to muffle it at least a little.
  610. >Chad shakes his head.
  611. >”Jesus H. Christ.”
  612. >You hardly even know where to begin.
  613. >You step past the door slowly, as though any sudden movements might drive the mob into a frenzy.
  614. >Even Chad seems a little intimidated.
  615. >A bunch of people hanging around a Tim’s was one thing, this was at least a couple hundred people.
  616. >Chad moves up ahead of you anyway, getting people to move aside and make room for you to pass.
  617. >You keep low to the ground, instinctually, taking slow and easy steps.
  618. >The press retreats a little and you can move, keeping right on Chad’s heels.
  619. >You can feel eyes on you, clear as day, but the sounds are muddled.
  620. >There’s so many people talking all at once, you can hardly tell who is saying what.
  621. >For a while you watch the people snapping pictures of you beside you, but it gets disorienting, so you just keep staring straight ahead at Chad’s legs.
  622. >The one thing that's clear is the sound of Chad swearing at the crowd.
  623.  
  624. >”Alright you obsessed fucks, get out of the way! This isn’t a goddamn photo op.”
  625. >You chuckle a little nervously, seems Chad got over being intimidated pretty quick.
  626. >More trotting, people hollering and talking in your ear, it all sounds like babble.
  627. >All of a sudden you feel a hand rub your back and tug your tail.
  628. “Ah, hey!”
  629. >You look around, trying to spot who might have done it.
  630. >No luck, the wall of people is practically amorphous.
  631. >Another hand out of nowhere, roughly patting your head.
  632. “Ow!”
  633. >Chad whips his head around at the sound of you in pain.
  634. >There’s that double homicide expression again.
  635. >”IF SHE WANTS YOU TO FUCKING TOUCH HER THEN SHE’LL GODDAMN WELL TELL YOU. FUCKTARDS.”
  636. >Without another word, Chad reaches down and picks you up.
  637. >With a grunt, he hefts you up under his arm and starts into a strong, speedy stride, rushing towards the exit doors where a pair of security guards wait.
  638. >A collective aww goes up, along with some bickering within the crowd.
  639. >Chad dashes through the doors, and the security guards get into position immediately, closing the doors behind you.
  640. >The sudden silence is definitely welcome.
  641. >Chad sets you down, then crouches to look you over.
  642. >”You alright Anonymous? Nothing bruised?”
  643. >You shake your head and set a hoof on Chad’s shoulder, add in a little smile to bring his mood up.
  644. “I’m fine. Just a rough little pat was all.”
  645. >Chad stands up and walks over to the doors the two of you just came through, peering through the window at the mob outside.
  646. >”They’ll calm down eventually. This is just the bandwagon phase. Soon you’ll just have the occasional random person coming up to you.”
  647. “I hope so.”
  648.  
  649. >You get your bearings while Chad rolls himself some cigarettes, peering around at the white walls and looking for landmarks.
  650. >It takes just a second to realize you’re not too far off from where you need to be, you’re in Science Section AB, just outside the professors’ offices.
  651. >The hallway to your left is lined with the offices in question, polished wood makes up the flooring since it’s an older part of the building.
  652. >The walls have plenty of posters depicting different scientific facts up on them, along with portraits of various successful alumni.
  653. >You already know that the hallway to your right is a no go, it’ll take you through the proper lobby, where students tend to congregate nearly as much as the Atrium.
  654. >You sigh and rub your hooves against your head, fixing your mane up and massaging away the pain.
  655. “Wait…”
  656. >You pat the top of your head, right between your ears.
  657. >There’s only mane there.
  658. “Someone stole my fucking hat!”
  659. >Chad looks up from his finished cigarette, surprised.
  660. >He tucks it away.
  661. >”Really? I could have sworn you put it in your pocket before we walked through the crowd.”
  662. >You stuff your hoof into each of your jacket pockets in turn and feel around.
  663. >No hat, but you feel something plastic in your right pocket, it rattles when your hoof knocks against it.
  664. >You frown and dig at it.
  665. “Fuckin’ hooves… God. Damnit.”
  666. >You stomp and snort.
  667. >Chad chuckles.
  668. >You glare at him.
  669. >Another go.
  670. >You try and try, pushing the rattling plastic thing whatever the fuck around.
  671. >But it just won’t budge.
  672. >Fucking.
  673. “F-FUCK.”
  674.  
  675. >Up on your hind legs and leaning against the wall, you put both your fore hooves to work, pushing on either side of this plastic thing in your pocket.
  676. >It still doesn’t work.
  677. >”You want some hel-“
  678. “EASY PEASY."
  679. >You hop up and down and jump around, bucking every which way.
  680. >Chad backs away to avoid your hooves, hands up.
  681. >”Dude, calm down.”
  682. >Snort and stomp again, you squint angrily at your pocket.
  683. >”Let me get that out for you.”
  684. “…Fine.”
  685. >You stand up on your hind legs so that Chad can reach your pockets easier.
  686. >He reaches in and feels around a bit, you hear what sounds like a Velcro strap being undone.
  687. >So that’s what was fucking holding it in.
  688. >Chad frowns, pulling out a little clear pill bottle.
  689. >There’s 4 little white tablets inside.
  690. “A creep and half.”
  691. >”What do you want me to do with them?”
  692. >You sigh and wave your hoof dismissively.
  693. “Just… Put it back in my pocket. I’ll find a place to dump them. Now that I think about it, I still have to dump the Pon-E that’s in my bottle of acetaminophen.”
  694. >Chad shrugs and obliges.
  695. >”How the fuck did the OC even sneak that in there? You already had the hoodie on when he offered up the bottle and he never got anywhere near you after that.”
  696. >You sigh and shake your head.
  697. “He’s the fucking OC. Knowing him, he already has so many of these fucking pills he just put an extra bottle in there KNOWING I’d fucking say no when he offers.”
  698. >”Sounds about right.”
  699. >You wait while Chad rolls up one last ciggy.
  700. >Chad’s always been the best at it, never too much or too little tobacco.
  701.  
  702. >He rolled it nice and tight every time too.
  703. >Chad catches you watching, and holds the rollie out to you.
  704. >”You want it?”
  705. >You smile and nod.
  706. “Sure.”
  707. >The cig is pretty much done, just needs that last touch.
  708. >Chad holds up the flap for you to lick, and presses it down once it’s done.
  709. >You nab the finished cigarette in your mouth and tuck it into your pocket.
  710. “Thanks.”
  711. >The both of you head down the left hallway, through the science offices.
  712. >”Well, some fucking cunt stole your hat. Wasn’t that the one you got from your girlfriend last year?”
  713. >You sigh at the thought.
  714. “Yep.”
  715. >Chad smirks.
  716. >”Only good thing you got out of that bitch.”
  717. >You laugh and grin.
  718. “Damn fucking straight. It really was a good hat though, RIP. I climbed Otterslide Mountain with that hat, remember?”
  719. >Chad nods, casually stealing thumb tacks from notice boards as he walks along.
  720. >”I remember. That was the trip with the bear that stole our packs right? Jesus, that hat was a survivor.”
  721. “Hell yeah. We shot the shit out of that fucking bear.”
  722. >He laughs and points a finger at you.
  723. >”I shot the shit out of that bear, YOU watched.”
  724. >You smirk and point right back with a hoof.
  725. “With MY thirty ought yeah. Because the bear made off with YOURS.”
  726. >Chad shakes his head, smiling.
  727. >”I still can’t believe that hat actually made it out alive, literally all of our extra clothes and gear was torn to shreds, nothing but your hat and my gun was fucking spared.”
  728. >You and Chad share a laugh at the memory, and then you both groan, remembering how hard it was to carry the bear back out without your packs.
  729.  
  730. >You feel…
  731. >Nice.
  732. >You’d always liked this part of the university, the polished wood flooring and the warm colors really put you at ease.
  733. >It was always quiet too, nothing but your footsteps and your own thoughts.
  734. >Well, hoofsteps now, your hooves clipped and clopped along.
  735. >But that was fine, you’d come to like the sound of your hooves too, you let it resonate easy in the depths of your mind.
  736. >A new drum track to your thoughts, quite a bit different from the one before.
  737. >But it wasn’t unwelcome, in fact it was good to get a change and see the world from a wholly new perspective.
  738. >You peer around at the portraits on the walls.
  739. >There was a certain atmosphere to this building, a feeling of study, rumination and history.
  740. >”You nerding out again?”
  741. >You shake your head and snap back to reality.
  742. >Chad’s staring down at you, a little grin tugging at the corners of his mouth.
  743. >You smile back, a little embarrassed, and your ears flop down.
  744. “Yeah pretty much.”
  745. >Chad nods and whips out his phone.
  746. >”Write something down this time.”
  747. >You chuckle and look around.
  748. >Offices, clean and proper, filled with knowledge.
  749. >There, you knew, countless learners have spent endless nights studying and working away.
  750. >Advancing the scope of mankind.
  751. >You certainly weren’t a science buff of any calibre, but you could understand the sentiment.
  752. >You knew from talking with Chad that it was the same drive that kept arts students awake writing and reading.
  753. >The same drive that got business students crunching numbers and working out models.
  754. >Ambition.
  755. >That was what this place gave off.
  756.  
  757. >A quiet Ambition, steadily propelling itself through the ocean that is knowledge.
  758. >The smell of paper, the sound of innumerable pens scratching throughout the years, and more recently, the sound of a computer fan whirring with keyboard clacking.
  759. >You took a big whiff of your surroundings, and your new nose could smell things your old one never noticed.
  760. >That slight scent of ink, the hint of coffee.
  761. >Your ears perked and you heard the Ambition in the voices around you.
  762. >Students chattering, excitedly relaying extraordinary new ideas to their professors over a desk.
  763. >Professors exclaiming and congratulating, their tone a mix of surprise, wonder and contentment.
  764. >It was all there for you to sense.
  765. >Smiling, you ease back into yourself.
  766. >Chad is chuckling beside you, scrolling through his phone.
  767. “So, what are they saying on Twitter about us?”
  768. >Still laughing, Chad lowers his phone so that you can see.
  769. >First up is a video.
  770. >It’s you and Chad, walking through the snow.
  771. >From what you can tell, some girl in the library filmed it, through the window down into the campus yard.
  772. >She’s whispering encouragement as you struggle along through the snow.
  773. >”C’mon Keyboard Masher, you got this. Don’t give up little pony!”
  774. >The girl even gasps when you slip on the snow and bump into Chad.
  775. >”Oh gosh! C’mon Keyboard, you don’t need his help, do it!”
  776. >Of course, you oblige, Chad WAS busting your balls after all.
  777. >You push off of him and trudge on.
  778. >The video cuts off with the girl whooping and hollering before being shushed by the librarian.
  779. “ ‘What a trooper! #stubbornpony #keyboardmasher’ “
  780. >You laugh and Chad brings up a picture.
  781. >This time it’s from when you got to the Atrium and first laid eyes on the enormous crowd of people waiting for you.
  782. >Your eyes are wide open, mouth gaping with your ears straight up.
  783.  
  784. “ ‘She’s so adorable when she’s surprised! #keyboardmasher’ Yeah, fucking surprised sounds about right.”
  785. >Next is just a slew of cute pictures from when you were talking to Chad in the Atrium entryway.
  786. “That it?”
  787. >Chad laughs.
  788. >”Naw there’s another hashtag growing now, #wheresherhat.”
  789. “What? They noticed?”
  790. >Chad shrugs, just as surprised as you.
  791. >”Yeah. They noticed. They’re searching for it, scanning through videos trying to find one where the person who stole it can be seen. I mean shit dude, you’re on 4chan now.”
  792. >You stop dead in your tracks, brow perked.
  793. “Are they drawing porn of me?”
  794. >There’s a pause, you can tell from Chad’s blushing that you’ve thrown him a curve ball.
  795. >”Y-yeah. There’s some porn out there… But the important thing is that they’re trying to figure it out too. Mostly to dox them and send them pizzas, but they’re looking nonetheless.”
  796. >You sigh and shake your head.
  797. “If I actually do get it back, then that hat is going to outlast me for sure.”
  798. >Back to trotting.
  799. >The both of you turn off into the last hallway.
  800. >There it is.
  801. >The submission boxes.
  802. >All the way down at the end, past the offices and printing rooms, right beside the security desk.
  803. >You pump a hoof in the air.
  804. “Fuck yeah. Let’s get this shit done and go.”
  805.  
  806. >For about three glorious seconds, just a few steps down that hallway, you thought you were home free.
  807. >”OH MY GOD ARE YOU KEYBOARD MASHER!?”
  808. >Out of what you must presume was the Ninth Circle of Hell, a girl emerged right in front of you.
  809. >You slammed on the brakes, or at least you tried to.
  810. >Your hooves slipped up, clacking hard against the polished wood floor and bringing you ever onward into the young lady’s legs.
  811. >”AWWWWW!”
  812. >She knelt down with a smile, eyes half lidded and arms spread wide.
  813. >Was that a hugging position she was assuming?
  814. >The brunette was in full cozy winter wear, red plaid coat with a black hood attached to it, wool mittens stuffed into her jean pockets, real comfy looking fur lined boots.
  815. >She even had a red plaid pattern wool tuque a l’oreille on, with those little poms at the ends…
  816. >”Come here my wittle horsie!”
  817. >Oh god she thought you were running to her for a hug.
  818. >You whip your head around to beg Chad for help, still tripping up and sliding.
  819. >He’s shrugging and smiling apologetically, it’s the sort of look that says: “You fucked up bro.”
  820. “Ohgodohgodohgod.”
  821. >Your rear hooves loose contact with the floor completely and you wind up sliding on your butt, fore hooves planted in front of you.
  822. >Straight into the girl’s arms.
  823. >”Ohhhhhh you’re so warm and fuzzy and cuddly and cute and –“
  824. “aaaaaaa…”
  825. >Her arms are wrapped tight around your barrel, pulling you right into the girl’s chest as she stands up.
  826. >One side of your face is smushed up against her breasts, and she’s nuzzling her cheek into your mane.
  827. >”and fluffy and adorable and lovable and tiny and –“
  828. >She shifts you around a bit, bringing your head up so that your chin is resting on her shoulder and so she can rub the side of her head against yours.
  829. >One hand holds you by the back of your head, while the other holds you around the back end.
  830. >You blush as her fore arm brushes against your rear, but luckily it doesn’t stir anything up down there.
  831.  
  832. >”and cozy and boopable and oh so HUGGABLE!”
  833. >The girl draws a big wheeze out of you as she turns her hug into a bear hug.
  834. >You’re about to tap out when you catch a whiff of cigarette smoke on the air.
  835. >Thank fuck Chad is here.
  836. >”Careful you don’t hold her too tight.”
  837. >Immediately the hug loosens up, you can hear the brunette gasp in your ear.
  838. >”Oh my! I’m sorry! I uh… I just. Here.”
  839. >The girl sets you down, rear legs first.
  840. >You clop down onto all fours, wincing a little, but trying your best to keep a smile on for the girl’s sake.
  841. >Can’t do much but sort of squeak and smile on.
  842. >She seems convinced by it and starts to giggle while she gently pats your head.
  843. >Eyes up to Chad for advice, again he shrugs, his lit cig dangling on the edge of his smile.
  844. >You decide to try to coax her to a soft landing.
  845. >You sit down and put on a more relaxed expression.
  846. “*cough* Soooo… It’s nice to meet a fan I guess.”
  847. >The girl’s eyes open wide, she stares at you with utmost surprise and joy.
  848. >There’s fireworks going off behind those green eyes.
  849. >”OHMYGOSHYOURVOICEISADORABLE.”
  850. “W-well thank-“
  851. >Another bear hug.
  852. >Will your lungs ever recover?
  853. >You can hear Chad’s footsteps as he moves closer.
  854. >”Come on now, you’re getting more intimate than a black helicopter at a dairy farm.”
  855. >Another gasp, another gentle return to solid ground.
  856. >”I’m sooooo sorry! You probably get this ALL the time! Heh.”
  857. >You rub your sore ribs and then you wave your hoof dismissively.
  858. “It’s fine. Really.”
  859. >”Oh thank goodness.”
  860. >…
  861.  
  862. >The awkward silence is so thick you were considering having it for lunch.
  863. >You idly tap your hooves, waiting for someone to say something.
  864. >The girl is biting her lip, arms crossed as she flicks her eyes around at everything, inevitably though she just winds up staring at you.
  865. >Chad is completely oblivious, just taking long drags off of his cigarette.
  866. >You’re pretty sure this is a no smoking zone too, although Chad’s never given a fuck about that anyway.
  867. >…
  868. “So-“
  869. >”C-Can I get a picture with you?”
  870. >You chuckle and nod.
  871. “Sure.”
  872. >The atmosphere brightens up a bit and the brunette hands her phone to Chad.
  873. >”Do you mind?”
  874. >”Nope. Don’t mind at all, line up right there, and maybe crouch down.”
  875. >Chad directs the shot, getting you to press up against the girl, with her arm reaching around your shoulder.
  876. >The both of you smile for the camera, you make sure to tilt your head just slightly too, for extra cute.
  877. >Chad hands the girl her phone and tosses her a thumbs up.
  878. >She surprises him with a quick hug.
  879. >”Thank you!”
  880. >Now it’s your turn.
  881. >Again.
  882. >You take it in better spirits this time though, stretching out a fore leg to hug her back with.
  883. >Up against her chest again, shame that boobs didn’t really do it for you anymore, if you were still a dude you’d probably have a wicked hard on right now.
  884. >Then all of a sudden, she gives you a quick kiss on the forehead before running away giggling like a mad woman while she taps at her phone.
  885. >Presumably to tweet the picture she just got.
  886. >You sigh and shake your head.
  887. >Smoking had fallen quite a bit to the wayside in the past couple years for you, but that cigarette in your pocket was starting to look real good right about now.
  888.  
  889. >And as though by providence, there’s a no smoking sign on the wall just beside you.
  890. >With Chad leaning against that wall, right next to it.
  891. >Smoking.
  892. >Sigh and shake your head again.
  893. >Check your mane and tail for knots.
  894. >You smooth out the creases in your hoodie, a smile sneaking up your muzzle as you do it.
  895. >Just a few more steps.
  896. >Chad falls in behind you.
  897. >The both of you walk down the hall at an easy pace, drawn to the submission boxes as though by gentle magnetism.
  898. >You can feel the weight of destiny, of fate.
  899. >And of your grades.
  900. >These essays were worth like fourty fucking percent after all.
  901. >Chad eases the manila envelope out of his coat.
  902. >One last step and you find yourself before the boxes.
  903. >You sit down on your rump.
  904. >Without a word, Chad hands you your essays one by one and you deposit them with your mouth, straight into the correct boxes.
  905. >Thunk. Thunk. Thunk. Thunk. Thunk.
  906. “Done.”
  907. >You smile, your tail swishes back and forth on the floor.
  908. >Chad is chuckling and grinning.
  909. >The two of you lock eyes for a moment, and then Chad extends his fist.
  910. >You bump a hoof against it.
  911. >”Fucking.”
  912. “Done.”
  913.  
  914. >You bask in the sense of accomplishment for a moment, eyes closed, prancing around in circles whipping your mane and tail around.
  915. >Suddenly, you hear laughter.
  916. >A quick peek behind Chad shows it’s the old guard behind the security desk having a chuckle at the pair of you.
  917. >He has a real easy, light hearted laugh, it speaks of experience.
  918. >Chad takes notice too and waves.
  919. >”Hey.”
  920. “Hello?”
  921. >The old man stops laughing, smiling wide.
  922. >Grunting a little, he stands up and walks over to his left and out the office door.
  923. >He hooks his fingers into his belt as he walks up to you and Chad, shiny black leather with a big black Maglite hung up on it.
  924. >His whole uniform is extraordinarily well kept, it’s obvious everything’s been cleaned, ironed and pressed rigorously.
  925. >The old guy keeps himself clean too, short grey hair and clean shaven.
  926. >”Well’n hellar thar. ‘M Patrick, pleased ta meetcha.”
  927. >Patrick stuck out his hand and Chad gripped it for a nice firm handshake.
  928. >”Good to meet you.”
  929. >Then Patrick stuck his hand out for you.
  930. >You put your hoof in his grip and shook.
  931. “Nice to meet you too.”
  932. >Chad seemed to be thrown off by Patrick’s geniality and sudden interest in the both of you, but he’s smiling nonetheless.
  933. >You can’t help but smile a little too.
  934. >Nothing quite like an old Scottish fellow.
  935. >Patrick takes on a bit of an apologetic expression, crouching down to your level.
  936. >”Well m sorry ter bother ya, but I jus’ couldn’t help meself. I was jes a wondrin ifn I could…”
  937. >Patrick sighs and looks away from you, then chuckles a little, shaking his head.
  938. >You tilt your head, curious.
  939.  
  940. >Chad is looking on, brows raised while he rolls up more cigarettes.
  941. >Patrick looks back at you and raises his hand above your head, expectant.
  942. >”Mind if I petcha?”
  943. >Really?
  944. >Huh.
  945. >You nod and smile.
  946. “Sure thing.”
  947. >There’s a big grin on Patrick’s face now, it makes him look nearly fifty years younger.
  948. >He starts to pet you.
  949. >Patrick is surprisingly gentle, running his hand through your mane and down your head and neck in soft, smooth motions.
  950. >It feels really really nice, like a good hug.
  951. >You close your eyes.
  952. >”I wouldn’t be askin ifn it weren’t fer Applejack, bein honest witcha.”
  953. >As curious as you are about who Applejack might be, you’re a bit distracted by the petting.
  954. >Chad gets comfortable, taking a seat on Patrick’s security desk.
  955. >”Applejack?”
  956. >Patrick looks back at Chad and nods.
  957. >He stops petting you too.
  958. >Damn it.
  959. >You scrunch up your muzzle, waiting.
  960. >Patrick seems to ponder his words for a moment, and then he laughs and shakes his head.
  961. >”Naw ya wouldn’t be wantin ter hear sum oldun talkin about old things. You young’uns gots plenty funner things ter do m sure.”
  962. >The petting starts up again and you smile, eyes slowly closing once more.
  963. “I’d love to hear about it.”
  964. >Honestly, you’d listen to a reading of fucking Lord Foul’s Bane, so long as Patrick was petting you.
  965. >Chad nods his head as he finishes another cigarette.
  966. >There’s a growing pile of them on the desktop beside him.
  967.  
  968. >”Go on man, we got time. Don’t think you’ll even be able to stop petting her anyway.”
  969. >Patrick laughs and starts to scratch behind your ears.
  970. “Oooooohhh.”
  971. >Your head moves all on its own, leaning right into Patrick’s hand.
  972. >”Well I think you’re bout right thar lad. Awright, I’ll tell botha ya bout Applejack. But I find meself needn a chair.”
  973. >Still scratching, Patrick looks to Chad.
  974. >”If ya’d be a good lad?”
  975. >Chad nods and spins himself around to drop down proper behind Patrick’s desk.
  976. >After a second, he wheels out Patrick’s chair.
  977. >A real nice wood and leather one on wheels.
  978. >”Thank ya.”
  979. >Patrick takes a seat and Chad returns to his pile of cigs.
  980. >You stick to Patrick like glue, and lead his hand back to your head with a hoof.
  981.  
  982. >Chad was giving you that ball busting grin, and Patrick chuckled at your forwardness.
  983. >But Patrick was also petting you again.
  984. >So whatever man.
  985. >Shit felt wayyyyy too good.
  986. “Mmmmm…”
  987. >Patrick adjusted his stance, getting himself comfortable.
  988. >You just leaned against his leg and let his hands work their magic.
  989. >”Well Applejack wus tha family pony. Ya know the type, mostly fer draggin the cart to’ther market. Me pap was in the force atta time, but he wasn the type ta stik it in town ya know.”
  990. >Chad nodded and lit up a cig.
  991. >”I hear you. Don’t like big buildings much either.”
  992. >Patrick nodded.
  993. >”M more partial ter tha fields meself. S’anyway, pap and me we’d take Applejack and’r cart fulla potatoes n we’d make the rounds sellin’. Getem good penny ya know.”
  994. >You listened intently despite yourself, Patricks’ voice was soothing, deep and old.
  995. >There were years in it, tough ones and great ones, sounded like a voice that could tell all about…
  996. >Well, his family pony at the market one moment, and a good rousing bar fight with his friends back in his prime years the next.
  997. >Patrick was eyeing your mane intently as he passed his hand down through it, there was a fond smile on his face.
  998. >”Ser we’d get tha money tergether, an Applejack well…”
  999. >Patrick chuckled and shook his head, the memory shining fresh in his eyes.
  1000. >”She’d gerrof tha cart one way er another. Ah think it’d be abou’now that I explain Applejack wazza real pretty little pony. Hazelnut coat on’er, brushed everyday, ana beautiful blond mane ter boot.”
  1001. >You opened your eyes and giggled.
  1002. >You looked up at Patrick and smiled, tossed in a little eye flutter too.
  1003. “Like mine?”
  1004. >Patting you on the back, Patrick grinned down at you.
  1005. >”Naw, hers was better ya little brat. Straw blond on’er like real gold.”
  1006. “Fuck you say to me?”
  1007.  
  1008. >You scrunched your muzzle and furrowed your brow, Patrick was still grinning as he lifted up a handful of your mane, blonde hairs flowing through his old fingers.
  1009. >Chad was laughing his ass off, he nearly choked on his cigarette.
  1010. >You shot him a glare and he just laughed harder.
  1011. >”Naw lass, yer mane is nice an all. But this here?”
  1012. >Patrick pointed at it.
  1013. >”Pale gold. Luscious too, but Applejack’s was jes as luscious with tha better color to er. Ya’d lose that pony show, gal.”
  1014. >Snorting, you turned your head away and stuck your snout up, stomping a hoof down for good measure.
  1015. “Fuck off.”
  1016. >”Applejack didn’ave a talking mouth on’er either. Didn’ needun to do what she did, too good at’er.”
  1017. >You were still looking away from Patrick, resolute in your defiance.
  1018. >But then his hand touched your mane and you faltered.
  1019. >”What Applejack’d do was she’d geround and steal apples, right frem under the shopkeeps nose!”
  1020. >Oh god that felt n-
  1021. >No.
  1022. >Another jerk of the head, you snorted again too, to show that you were completely fed up with him.
  1023. >Chad was smirking at you as he rolled up a cig and listened.
  1024. >He mouthed the words “Not for long”.
  1025. >You mouthed back.
  1026. “Fuck off.”
  1027. >Patrick just kept on with his story, he had sly smile on his face though, and he was inching his hand back to you head.
  1028. >”She’d go an eatem all too! Every. Last. One. I’ll be damned ter hell if she didn eat at leas’a undred evry day we took’er.”
  1029. >All of a sudden, Patrick’s fingers wrapped around your ear.
  1030. >You were just about to pull away and tell him to fuck off again…
  1031. >But then they rubbed together.
  1032. >And you melted.
  1033.  
  1034. “Ahhhhh…”
  1035. >You just flowed right back up to Patricks’ leg and you even started to rub your face into his pant leg as he rubbed away at your ears.
  1036. >Patrick chuckled whole heartedly at that.
  1037. >You just caught Chad shaking his head at you as your eyes closed again.
  1038. >”Told you so.”
  1039. “F-fuhhh…”
  1040. >”Ther’ ain’a thing fuzzy an on four legs out ther that don’ like me pettin em. Don’chu worry yer little pony heart bout that lass.”
  1041. >No response, you couldn’t even talk, just humming and hawing now.
  1042. >“Applejack had a trick bout the same, diffrence was, she coul’get any damn vendor ter giver a scratch behind tha ears an an apple fer tha trouble. She’d use it all too, whinny and neigh and sit pretty. Devil ‘imself’d do well takin’ tips from er on temptation.”
  1043. >Finally there was some respite from that overwhelming comfort, Patrick went back to just petting your mane.
  1044. “She sounded like a great pony.”
  1045. >”Ahh she was. Applejack lived long and well. Died easy too, in me pap’s arms. He held’er tight all the while.”
  1046. >Chad tucked all his finished cigs away and hopped off of Patrick’s desk.
  1047. >”Take it you were there too?”
  1048. >Patrick smiled.
  1049. >It was a little… different this time.
  1050. >There was age, yeah, but you felt more bad years than good ones.
  1051. >”Naw I was… Well I woulda been bout halfway ter Korea then. On a ship with me friends, Ma told me bout Applejack inna letter though, so I wasn’ left wondrin’.”
  1052. “Oh.”
  1053. >Chad nodded, expression curt.
  1054. >”That’s a whole other story, I can tell.”
  1055. >Patrick stood up and laughed, booming and joyous again, as he smacked Chad on the back.
  1056. >”Damn right lad. Damn right. And you young’uns don’ave the time fer it. Now get tha fuck outta here and get yerselves some beer er whatever fuckin’ drugs you kids fancy these days. Jes’ don bring it round my desk er I’ll haf ta call the real coppers on ya.”
  1057.  
  1058. >You laughed at how straight up this old man was.
  1059. “Thanks Patrick. We’ll get right to that.”
  1060. >Patrick winked back at you and smiled.
  1061. >He bent down again at your level and reached behind your ear.
  1062. >Holy shit were you about to get a scratch again?
  1063. >You closed your eyes in preparation.
  1064. >Only to be met with Patrick chuckling.
  1065. >”Open em lass.”
  1066. >Patrick was holding out a big red apple.
  1067. >Your eyes went wide and you immediately brought a hoof up to feel behind your ear.
  1068. >Mouth gaping a little, you pointed to Patrick and then to the apple.
  1069. “You just-“
  1070. >Patrick laughed and stuck the apple in your mouth.
  1071. >”Don’ worry bout tha details gal. I jes figured you were lookin hungry was all, go’in hav a time.”
  1072. >You almost wanted to object, but Chad was already walking away and waving goodbye as he hollered to you:
  1073. >”Gotta catch the bus Anon! Hurry up!”
  1074. >You just settled for nodding your thanks before galloping away.
  1075. “Fenk you!”
  1076. >Looking over your back, you saw Patrick wave you off as he wheeled his chair back into his office.
  1077.  
  1078. “Hwhat a fice fold gur.”
  1079. >You mumbled, around a mouthful of apple.
  1080. >There was a certain extra zip to it that you hadn’t ever really gotten out of apples before.
  1081. >Really tangy.
  1082. >You had to be careful the juice didn’t soak into your socks, sitting down and holding it up with your forehooves like this.
  1083. >But overall you were starting to get really nimble at these sorts of things.
  1084. >The blizzard had finally stopped, right on time.
  1085. >There was just a soft fall of flakes now, as you and Chad waited at the bus stop.
  1086. >It was nice and quiet, mostly because Chad had got you to sit inside the waiting stall where most passersby wouldn’t notice you.
  1087. >Chad was sitting next to you, sidled up against you for warmth while he puffed away on a cigarette.
  1088. >It was still pretty cold out after all.
  1089. >”Yeah. Surprised I haven’t even talked to him before.”
  1090. >You rolled your eyes and swallowed.
  1091. “You never talk to security guards. Ever. They all just give you dirty looks and you ignore them.”
  1092. >Chad shrugs and knocks the ashes off his cig.
  1093. >”Yeah, but he was real legit.”
  1094. “That’s for sure. I think I’ll try to walk by there more often now.”
  1095. >Nudging you, Chad smirks knowingly.
  1096. >”For scratches and ear rubs.”
  1097. >You blush and take another bite out of your apple.
  1098. “Fuhg hoff.”
  1099. >Chad just smiled and kept smoking.
  1100. >You were surprised and a little happy that no one seemed to be in an awful rush to get off campus today.
  1101. >The mall would be bad enough without being swarmed at the bus stop.
  1102. >”You hear anything about Tammy?”
  1103. “Huh?”
  1104. >Chad takes a drag.
  1105.  
  1106. >”Tammy.”
  1107. >You think for a moment, rubbing your chin with a hoof.
  1108. “Nnnnope. Last I heard she was going out with some other friends today, from her Origami club or whatever.”
  1109. >Chad nods.
  1110. >”Alright. Just curious was all. Wondering if Thot was with her.”
  1111. >You nodded and munched on your apple for a bit.
  1112. >The streets were silent today, sort of scared, like they were shivering in the aftermath of the storm and were just waiting for it to come along and wail on them again.
  1113. >People hurried around, trying to get out of the cold as quick as possible, breath steaming and making little fading clouds that whisked away as soon as their makers did.
  1114. >Understanding dawned on you all of a sudden.
  1115. “You want to break it to Tammy and Thot at the same time, don’t you?”
  1116. >Chad nodded as he puffed.
  1117. >”Yeah. Figure since they’re twin sisters, Tammy’ll set Thot straight when she freaks. Tammy is used to all the weird crap after all.”
  1118. >You snorted and shook your head.
  1119. “Tammy is IN to all the weird crap. You’re right though, Thot being the innocent little nun she is, she’ll flip. But Tammy being there to make it a small thing will help.”
  1120. >Chad shrugged and butted out his cigarette.
  1121. >You chomped up the core of your apple and rubbed your tummy.
  1122. “Ahhh. Let’s head to the restaurants, first thing. I’m only running on Monster here.”
  1123. >”Alright.”
  1124. >The both of you stood as bus 14 pulled up to the stop.
  1125. >Chad went first, no issues.
  1126. >The busdriver gave you a look when you mouthed your bus pass up to show to him, but didn’t do much else.
  1127. >You trotted up to Chad and sat next to him, right at the front of the bus.
  1128. >You tried to stay casual, passively looking out the window and acting like you totally weren’t out of place on this bus full of two legged human beings staring at you.
  1129. >For now you just stared out the window, watching the streets pass you by while Chad checked his phone.
  1130.  
  1131. >But eventually, you had to look away.
  1132. >And your eyes were met with the unblinking stare of the seven year old girl sat in front of you.
  1133. “H-hi there…”
  1134. >You smiled nervously and tested a wave with one of your socked fore hooves.
  1135. >Chad was still checking his phone, but there was a smile creeping up his face again.
  1136. >She was a cute girl, black hair tied back in a ponytail, wearing a warm black winter jacket with a fur lined hood.
  1137. >Kind of like your hoodie actually.
  1138. >But her face was practically pressed right up against your snout and she had a hell of an obsessive grin on.
  1139. >There was a black haired woman next to her, presumably the girl’s mother, who was smiling at you apologetically.
  1140. >”Come on Sally, let the little pony have some space-”
  1141. >”HI MY NAME’S SALLY! WHAT’S YOURS!? CAN I BRUSH YOUR MANE?”
  1142. >”Now Sally.”
  1143. >The mother reeled her daughter in and gave her a stern look.
  1144. >”You can’t just go bothering little ponies like that. It’s very rude. Be more polite, and lower your voice. Then maybe she’ll let you pet her. Alright?”
  1145. >Sally nodded, cowed.
  1146. >”Alright mommy.”
  1147. >Jesus, when was the last time you actually saw a mother who could control her kids?
  1148. >You were now seriously considering those lottery tickets.
  1149. >Sally looked back at you, still smiling, but much more reasonably now.
  1150. >”Is it ok if I touch you?”
  1151. >You nodded and smiled.
  1152. >Yes… More petting, good.
  1153. “Yes that’s ok Sally.”
  1154. >She practically jumped out of her seat, crackling with excitement.
  1155. >Sally extended her little hand slowly, up and up till she got it above your head.
  1156. >Your ears flattened down out of instinct.
  1157.  
  1158. >Then she patted you.
  1159. >Just over the bus sounds and all, you could hear a few of the people behind you laughing and awwwwing.
  1160. >It took a few pats before Sally got a bit bolder and started really petting you.
  1161. >You giggled a little and let her at it.
  1162. >That feeling just didn’t get old.
  1163. >Sally giggled right back and got her other hand involved, mussing up and playing around with your mane.
  1164. >”So what’s your name, pony?”
  1165. “Some people call me Keyboard Masher.”
  1166. >Sally oohed, looking at the broken keyboard on your flank.
  1167. >Her mother smiled and motioned towards you.
  1168. >”Mind if I?”
  1169. “Sure.”
  1170. >There was a childlike glee in that moms’ eyes as she rubbed your ears.
  1171. >Mmmmm…
  1172. >This was what?
  1173. >Three times now?
  1174. >Yeah, you could definitely get used to sudden public outbursts of petting.
  1175. >Chad was shaking his head, tired smile on.
  1176. >”Addicted…”
  1177. >You rolled your eyes and poked him in the ribs with your hoof.
  1178. “Whatever."
  1179. >That was a nice bus ride down to the mall.
  1180.  
  1181. >But eventually the ride had to end.
  1182. >The bus screeched to a halt, just a little ways up the road from the mall.
  1183. >”Thank you kuh… uhhh, Keyboard Masher!”
  1184. >You waved back and smiled at Sally and her mom before trotting off the bus, Chad trailing behind you.
  1185. >The both of you immediately started towards the mall, not wanting to stay out here drawing gazes for too long.
  1186. >You’d gotten lucky though, most people were staying indoors out of the cold right now.
  1187. >Smiling, you playfully swung your new ponytail around.
  1188. >Sally’s mom had done your mane up into it for you, a carbon copy of Sally’s own ponytail.
  1189. >You giggled and poked Chad.
  1190. “Hey. Chad.”
  1191. >Chad looked down at you as he strode along, one brow perked.
  1192. >”What?”
  1193. >You snorted and giggled and waved your ponytail again.
  1194. “I’ve got twintails. Get it? Ponytail.”
  1195. >You pointed at your tail, swishing it back and forth.
  1196. “And ponytail!”
  1197. >Now you pointed at your mane and shook it about.
  1198. >Chad stared back, a dead and dried out gaze.
  1199. >The look of a man who’s heard too much shit for one life time.
  1200. >”If you weren’t an adorable little pony right now I would strangle the shit out of you.”
  1201. >You just grinned and bumped his leg with your hips.
  1202. “You know you love it.”
  1203. >Smiling, laughing and prancing your way to the mall.
  1204. >Over all, you just felt great right now, refreshed from that apple, de-stressed because all your work was in for the year, comfy in your hoodie and socks.
  1205. >Yeah.
  1206. >You could get used to this pony thing.
  1207. >All jokes and sarcasm aside, Chad was looking pretty peppy too, the dark bags under his eyes were gone and he was humming tunes often.
  1208.  
  1209. >He practically bounded up the stone steps at the mall entrance, sparing a glance at the esoteric glass architecture as he went to open the door for you.
  1210. >You stared a little longer.
  1211. >It was almost Escher, like a fragmented crystal dragon breathing fire collided with a set of stairs made out of sand.
  1212. >Cubes and pyramids, dodecahedrons and hexagons stuck out.
  1213. >Spheres melted at the edges and flat planes folding into the third dimension.
  1214. >The whole mall had that sort of aesthetic, lights and balcony retaining walls were all decorated with these glass abstractions.
  1215. >Where it wasn’t glass, it was brushed steel or polished stone flooring.
  1216. >It was a little dazzling actually, walking through the door, light flashed a little everywhere because of it.
  1217. >Chad didn’t seem to be bothered by it though, so you chalked it up to your new eyes.
  1218. >People all around were taking pictures as the both of you passed through the halls, some of them shouted out hellos and pointed.
  1219. >But you weren’t getting swarmed, thank fuck.
  1220. >You just trotted along on the polished tiles, clip clopping away till you got to the stairs.
  1221. >There you paused, wondering.
  1222. “The food is all on the second floor right?”
  1223. >Chad snatched up a map from one of those directory screens and gave it a quick glance.
  1224. >”Yeah.”
  1225. >You nodded and kept on up them.
  1226. >Jeez this was hard when you were so short.
  1227. >The steps really weren’t designed for your height at all.
  1228. >Chad noticed your fatigue at the first landing.
  1229. >”Here, let me take your jacket at least.”
  1230. >You nodded and slipped out of it.
  1231. >He picked it up and slung it over his shoulder, nodding.
  1232. “Thanks.”
  1233. >That felt a bit better at least, you weren’t so hot anymore.
  1234.  
  1235. >The next two landings went a bit easier, you swear Chad was giving you little pushes up every now and then, but he’d always be looking away when you turned to check.
  1236. >Finally you reached the second floor.
  1237. >There was an urgent feeling though.
  1238. >In your bowels, not your loins.
  1239. >Your ears flopped down and your head drooped.
  1240. “Oh.”
  1241. >”What? Not what you were expecting?”
  1242. >The restaurants spread out before you, with plenty of seating all in between.
  1243. >People milled about with food on trays, finding tables to sit at with their families.
  1244. >Up above there was a fantastic looking chandelier, one of the glass pileups, in keeping with the usual look of the mall.
  1245. “N-Naw… I uhh… Is there a bathroom around here?”
  1246. >Chad’s face dropped.
  1247. >”Oh.”
  1248. >…
  1249. >You tapped your hooves a little while Chad checked the map.
  1250. >”Yeah, just over there.”
  1251. >Chad pointed over at a corridor at the very back of the court, next to a sketchy kebab place.
  1252. “Just wait for me outside the door, I’m going to run ahead.”
  1253. >You didn’t wait for Chad to answer, instead you took that time to start straight into a gallop through the food court, under tables, around chair legs and people legs.
  1254. >If you weren’t… Busy, it might have been a good adrenaline rush.
  1255. >People freaked a little where you passed, confused and trying to get out of your way.
  1256. >You just pumped your legs, hooves clopping loudly against the tiles.
  1257. >Finally you reached your destination, ducking around a stroller and the mother pushing it, you dashed into the women’s bathroom.
  1258. >You were met with about three gasps and one squee.
  1259. >No time to look, you just jumped into the nearest stall and plopped yourself down on the porcelain throne inside.
  1260.  
  1261. >Three hooves clacked up onto the seat, but the fourth had other plans.
  1262. >Your right fore hoof just kept on sliding, dragging you with it, right over the toilet and into the stall wall.
  1263. “Ah!”
  1264. >With a bang your snout smashed into the cheapo aluminum wall, followed by the rest of you.
  1265. >You barely had time to register the pain from that before sliding down the wall to smack your butt on the ground.
  1266. “Ow! Fuck!”
  1267. >Cringing and stinging all over, you rolled away from the wall, eyes watering.
  1268. >Fucking fuck, was your nose bleeding?”
  1269. “Owowowowowow… FUCK!”
  1270. >You felt something wet dripping down from your nostrils.
  1271. >Dreading the touch, you brought a hoof up to check.
  1272. >Red.
  1273. >Yep, blood.
  1274. >God damn it.
  1275. >Your bowels urged you on though.
  1276. >Shaking a little, you got up on all four hooves, wincing every now and then as a sore spot protested.
  1277. >Then you snorted, determined.
  1278. >You tugged off your socks and set them on top of the toilet paper dispenser, best to keep them somewhat clean.
  1279. >Then you checked to make sure the door was closed proper and locked.
  1280. >Now…
  1281. >Hop up, two hooves on the seat.
  1282. >Hind legs now…. Annnnnnd….
  1283. >Yes.
  1284. >There you stood, bleeding from the nose and a little bashed up, but on the toilet.
  1285. >Slowly, making sure not to slip, you turned in place.
  1286. >Tail end towards the back, head end to the front.
  1287. >You flicked your tail up to keep it out of the toilet as you sat.
  1288. >Your muzzle scrunched up at the thought of all this.
  1289. >This is going to be super weird.
  1290.  
  1291. >It was super weird.
  1292. “Nope. Nope.”
  1293. >Your business was done though, so you hopped off the seat, sure to keep your tail high as usual.
  1294. >You almost bit down on the dangling strip of toilet paper from the dispenser with your mouth, but you stopped yourself at the last moment.
  1295. >Instead you got your hoof all wrapped around it and you tugged it down.
  1296. >Once you’d gotten enough, you wiped your butt.
  1297. >God this was weird.
  1298. >Just when you were getting used to this pony thing.
  1299. >Your muzzle was still scrunched up in slight disdain.
  1300. >Finally you just tossed the used toilet paper into the toilet.
  1301. >Up on your hind legs, you flushed it all away.
  1302. >Over the roar of the toilet you gave yourself a once over, checking for any… stains.
  1303. “If only I could flush away the memories…”
  1304. >You sighed.
  1305. “But I’m going to be doing this every fucking time anyway.”
  1306. >Your all white fur was going to be a liability, you could tell already.
  1307. >Luckily though, you’d managed to avoid getting anything on yourself this time.
  1308. >Pretty good for a first.
  1309. >Your snout was still bleeding though, you could see it dripping down on the linoleum floor.
  1310. >And now that the toilet flushing had subsided, you could hear a lot of excited chatter just outside your stall.
  1311. >”Oh my gosh that was Keyboard Masher!”
  1312. >”Did you see her galloping? So cute!”
  1313. >”I hope she’s ok… That bang was awful loud…”
  1314. >”Oh she’s fine, you heard her swear right? Adorable.”
  1315.  
  1316. >You were about to get gang snuggled.
  1317. >You mouthed your socks and opened the door.
  1318. >Three gasps, one squee.
  1319. >Four women were waiting outside the door for you, one twenty something and three in their thirties.
  1320. >All of them had their eyes on you.
  1321. >You waved.
  1322. “Harro.”
  1323. >”YOUR NOSE! HERE LET M-“
  1324. >”HELLO HELLO HEL-“
  1325. >”CAN I GET A PICT-“
  1326. >”LEMME SNUGG-“
  1327. >Your ears flopped down at all the noise and you winced.
  1328. >Jesus Christ, why.
  1329. >You decided ignoring them was the best option, and started towards the sink to rinse off.
  1330. >But one woman jumped in your way, a twenty something blonde, lifting up a wetted tissue.
  1331. >”Here just let me get that blood off for you dearie.”
  1332. “Ner, m fine. Hreffy.”
  1333. >She rubbed the tissue against your nose anyway, smiling.
  1334. >Did these people even have ears?
  1335. >You snorted and pushed your way past, hopped up on your hind legs so that you could reach the counter.
  1336. >Setting your socks down next to the sink, you twisted the faucet on with your mouth and stuck your hooves into the stream.
  1337. >All of a sudden you felt your mane tugged back, ponytail pulled taught.
  1338. >”This ponytail is so cute! Did you just get it done?”
  1339. “Ow, yeah I did. Could you let go pl-“
  1340. >”Wow your tail is so well kept! Oh my gosh imagine if it had a red bow on it! Here let me get one.”
  1341. >You turned your head, frowning.
  1342. >Three of the women were bumbling with their cellphones while a third, the same blonde, was tugging on your tail now, reaching into her purse.
  1343.  
  1344. “No thank you. I just want to get clean and leave.”
  1345. >”Oh.”
  1346. >The blonde backed away, face down.
  1347. >Whatever.
  1348. >If she didn’t want to get hurt, she shouldn’t have tugged on your ponytails.
  1349. >You finished your business washing your hooves and tugging your socks back on, refusing the help of all four of the women in turn.
  1350. >And now you trotted to the exit, the women were looking away, all a little disappointed.
  1351. >Your snout twitched.
  1352. “Ah…”
  1353. >Your head lifted high, muzzle pointed up to the sky.
  1354. “AhhhhhhhCHOOEFRRR”
  1355. >You sneezed, and you swear there was something of a whinny in there too.
  1356. >Immediately you could FEEL the women behind you flicking their gaze to you.
  1357. >You looked over your back and you could SEE the grins spreading on their faces.
  1358. “Now just calm down okay?”
  1359. >”CUUUUUUUTTTTEEE!”
  1360. >”OHOHOHOHOHOH-“
  1361. >”CMERE!”
  1362. >”HAS ANYONE GOT A FEATHER?”
  1363. >War is hell.
  1364. >You tried to gallop away, but you slipped and slid on the linoleum.
  1365. >How the fuck did I even dash in here earlier?
  1366. >The ladies practically pounced on you, hands rubbed along your back, fingers pinched your cheeks and fingers ran through your mane.
  1367. >You struggled against the press, snorting and tossing your head, eyes rolling.
  1368. >The babble coming out of them was unintelligible, you just kept your ears pressed down trying to block it out.
  1369. >Finally you found an opening through a set of legs, past them and through the door.
  1370.  
  1371. >You could hear the four women following after you.
  1372. >Thinking on your hooves, you dashed to your left, further down the corridor.
  1373. >You galloped past two people leaning against the wall, chatting, and barged your way into the closet just a few steps away.
  1374. >Real spacious janitors supply closet.
  1375. >A quick scan and you found the perfect hiding place, the big stainless steel bucket in the corner.
  1376. >You jumped inside, rolled to flip it over and covered yourself with it.
  1377. >Immediately you perked your ears to hear all you could, rubbing at your nostrils trying to get the blood out so that you could smell better too.
  1378. >”Was that-“
  1379. >Someone outside shushed.
  1380. >Then came footsteps, heavy and multitudinous.
  1381. >Probably the women who were chasing you.
  1382. >”Hey have you seen any little ponies run by?”
  1383. >Yep.
  1384. >”Are you on fucking drugs? Jesus fucking Christ, can’t a guy talk to someone without getting harassed by nutters on meth?”
  1385. >You pushed your bucket up a bit, peeking out your muzzle.
  1386. >Was that…?
  1387. >”Well I n-“
  1388. >”What? You never? WELL. I. ALWAYS. If you don’t want someone to holler at you then you shouldn’t go around asking stupid shitty questions. Fuck off.”
  1389. >You snorted and laughed aloud.
  1390. “Thanks Chad.”
  1391. >All at once you stopped worrying and you came out of your hiding spot, smiling.
  1392. >You sniffed at the air, smelling the cigarette smoke.
  1393. >Definitely Chad.
  1394. >He’d probably knock once they were gone.
  1395. >So you waited, sitting patiently.
  1396. >”N-no she’s real… Haven’t you seen Keyboard Masher on Twitter?”
  1397.  
  1398. >”Unlike you I don’t browse shit fuck social propaganda trash in my spare time. Have I asked you to fuck off yet by any chance? Because that would be great.”
  1399. >Silence for a second.
  1400. >Then footsteps, getting quieter as their makers got farther off.
  1401. >Once the footsteps had completely dissipated, there was a knocking on the door.
  1402. >”Anon? You in there? They’re gone now.”
  1403. >You pranced over to the door and pushed it open to meet a peeved looking Chad staring down at you, cig dangling from his mouth.
  1404. >That peeved look lasted about as long as it took for Chad to notice the little bit of blood still dripping from your snout.
  1405. >Right then it turned murderous.
  1406. >Chad bit down hard on his cigarette, severing it clean as he turned away.
  1407. >”I’ll be right back.”
  1408. >”No Chad you stay right here!”
  1409. >Just now you noticed the other person with Chad, a young lady.
  1410. >Shock of natural red hair, military green skirt and brown thigh high stockings with a big dark brown Russian overcoat.
  1411. >There was only one redhead that you knew who’d wear a skirt in December.
  1412. >Chad snarled and whirled around.
  1413. >”Fuck that shit Tammy! They hurt her! No fucking way I’m dropping that.”
  1414. >He pointed at you, still glaring straight at Tammy.
  1415. >“You think Anonymous would drop something like that if it were me who got hurt?”
  1416. “Chad, while I definitely would not drop something like that-“
  1417. >”See!”
  1418. >Tammy rolled her eyes and rocked back and forth on the balls of her feet, fists pressed to her hips.
  1419. >”Well what the hell are you going to do, huh Chad?”
  1420. >”I’m going to fucking-“
  1421. >You sighed and bumped hard up against Chad’s legs to catch his attention.
  1422. “Chad!”
  1423. >Finally Chad stopped and listened for a second, staring down at you, concerned.
  1424.  
  1425. “Chill. They didn’t hurt me or anything. A little rough petting at the most. I got the bloody nose myself because I’m a clumsy dumbass and I slipped jumping on the toilet.”
  1426. >Chad crouched down and checked you over, looking at scrapes and wiping at the flow of blood from your snout.
  1427. >His eyes met yours, concerned and serious.
  1428. >”For real?”
  1429. >You nodded, solemn.
  1430. “Yes. I am a clumsy ass.”
  1431. >”You’re no donkey, you’re a pony!”
  1432. >…
  1433. >Both you and Chad turned, brows raised in unison, and stared at Tammy.
  1434. >She just giggled and crouched down alongside Chad.
  1435. >Without warning she reached out and gave you a good scratch behind the ears, smiling.
  1436. >”Hey ‘Non. I heard the news from Chad. I like the new look! I always figured you for a blonde anyway.”
  1437. >You couldn’t help but smile back and let her at you.
  1438. “Thanks Tammy.”
  1439. >Carefree.
  1440. >That was Tammy in a nutshell.
  1441. >It was refreshing to have her here.
  1442. >Chad was your best bro and all, but he could get real hard headed.
  1443. >Not that you were any better, which is why Tammy fit so well.
  1444. “Where’s Thot hiding?”
  1445. >Tammy giggled and crab walked over behind you.
  1446. >She started fixing up your mane a bit, it had some loose ends here and there from all the running and crashing you’d done.
  1447. >”Oh you just missed her, she’s ordering some food.”
  1448. >Chad relaxed quite a bit, there was a smile on that face again thank fuck, and he was leaning against the wall lighting another cig.
  1449. “Alright.”
  1450.  
  1451. >Tammy undid your ponytail and then tied your mane back up into a big, loose braid, just three knots through it.
  1452. >She showed it to you in her little pocket mirror.
  1453. >”Adorable?”
  1454. “Definitely. Thanks a bunch.”
  1455. >Tammy grinned and hopped up onto her feet.
  1456. >”No problem. So how did you get like this anyway? Chad didn’t get the time to tell that part of it all.”
  1457. >”Pon-E. New drug.”
  1458. >Chad stepped forward, pulling out the little pill bottle you’d gotten from the OC out of your hoodie.
  1459. >He tossed it to Tammy so she could look at it.
  1460. “Yeah I got it slipped to me, Tylenol bottle full of them. Takes two in twelve hours to OD and that makes the change permanent, just one will change you for twelve hours.”
  1461. >Tammy shook the bottle around, pills rattling.
  1462. >”Huh.”
  1463. >Popping the cap off the bottle, she dumped one of the little white tablets out and took a good look.
  1464. >And then Tammy popped the tablet into her mouth.
  1465. >Tammy swallowed, smiling as carefree as ever.
  1466.  
  1467. >Dead silence.
  1468. >You and Chad both stared, open mouthed, brains still whirring and trying to catch up.
  1469. >Tammy for her part just flinched and put her hands up to the top of her head.
  1470. >”Ow. That stings a bit.”
  1471. >You moved first, bucking open the janitors’ closet again.
  1472. >Chad understood immediately, he grabbed Tammy by the shoulders and led her in after you.
  1473. >Quickly, you kicked the bucket over for Tammy to sit on and she obliged.
  1474. >Already you could see her new pony ears coming in as the human ones shifted back into her head.
  1475. >Tammy noticed too, grinning and rubbing them.
  1476. >”Wow! I can hear a lot better now, like, a whole lot better.”
  1477. >As Tammy played with her new ears, Chad stared at you, still not quite understanding.
  1478. >You shook your head, sighing, and bit down on Tammy’s shoes, tugged them off.
  1479. >Stockings next.
  1480. >Chad paused.
  1481. >Then he nodded and got to it, unbuttoning Tammy’s overcoat.
  1482. >”Sorry ‘bout this Tam.”
  1483. >”Oh that’s okay, I really don’t want to lose these clothes anyway, they’re nice. Hey look!”
  1484. >Tammy lifted her hand up to Chads’ face.
  1485. >Sky blue fur was spreading across the back of it, and her fingers were all melding together.
  1486. >”Hoofsies! Oh I like the color!”
  1487. >By the time Chad got her overcoat off, Tammy had shrunk down quite a bit and you could hear her spine clacking.
  1488. >Tammy’s black tank top slipped as her shoulders retreated and covered over with blue fur, falling around her waist in a heap.
  1489. >She didn’t bother trying to cover her chest, her breasts had already disappeared.
  1490. >You got to undoing Tammy’s skirt, ignoring the cricks and cracks of her legs shrinking and reshaping.
  1491. >It came off just in time for her hips to start pushing out, thighs becoming furred flanks.
  1492. >”Awww, I just styled it too.”
  1493. >A quick peek up, Tammy’s’ hair had turned a pale green, her styling fell apart and a new mane flopped down with little natural curls at the ends.
  1494.  
  1495. >You went to get Tammy’s’ panties, but she put her new hoof in the way, blushing a little.
  1496. >”That’s fine, I don’t really like these ones anyway. They’re cheap, and pink.”
  1497. >Tank top and overcoat slung over his shoulder, Chad gave Tammy some space and stood aside.
  1498. >”I still can’t believe you actually did it, Tammy. What the fuck.”
  1499. “Yeah. Holy shit. At least warn us before you just go popping pills.”
  1500. >Tammy tried to shrug, but her shifting anatomy wasn’t cooperating.
  1501. >She slid out of her seat on the bucket, and lay on the floor on her side as the changes progressed.
  1502. >You watched as her new tail came in, green like her mane, over the back of her panties.
  1503. >The underwear was being pushed pretty much to its limits now.
  1504. >Tammy rolled over onto her back, you could hear her organs shifting around, those weird and mildly nauseating sounds you’d tried to block out when you’d changed.
  1505. >She didn’t seem to mind as much, her ears didn’t flop down at all as she stared and watched her body shift.
  1506. >All of a sudden there was an especially loud crack and Tammy’s’ jaw pushed out, her little button nose disappearing into a blue muzzle.
  1507. >A mark appeared on both of her flanks, the black silhouette of a bird in flight.
  1508. >…
  1509. >Seemed everything was over.
  1510. >You and Chad sighed in unison, and Tammy giggled, kicking her hooves at the air.
  1511. >”Don’t I look sooooo cute? Oh my god this is so cool!”
  1512. “Yeah, yeah. You look adorable Tammy. Maybe do it on your own in your room next time though, it’s going to be hell with the both of us trotting around the mall.”
  1513. >Chad groans and rubs his temples.
  1514. >”Jesus fucking Christ. I feel like I’m working at the daycare all over again.”
  1515. >Tammy rolls her eyes and sits up on her haunches, panties creaking ominously.
  1516. >”Oh shUHhs-“
  1517. >Tammy breaks into a coughing fit, hunched over.
  1518. >You set a hoof on her back, concerned.
  1519. “You alright Tam?”
  1520. >She nods, still coughing.
  1521.  
  1522. >”Ye*cough*Yeah. I *cough*Ahhhhh. Haahhhhh. I think I just, whoa, whoa that’s deep. Did your voice go deep like this?”
  1523. >What.
  1524. >Tammy’s voice had dropped, deep and masculine and honestly…
  1525. >Kind of hot.
  1526. >Like, casually cutesuave.
  1527. >Those were the only words you could use to describe it, honestly.
  1528. “N-no. That didn’t happen.”
  1529. >Chad was frowning, one brow perked.
  1530. >”What the fuck is going on?”
  1531. >He was answered with a loud wet sound coming out of Tammy, like flesh sliding across flesh.
  1532. >Tammy gasped and fell onto her back.
  1533. >There was a bulge on her crotch, pushing against her pink panties.
  1534. >Before your eyes, the bulge grew and extended, while Tammy’s body shifted more.
  1535. >Tammy’s feminine details disappeared, her curves sharpened and her muzzle became more rectangular than round.
  1536. >Her mane receded a bit, coming up for a shorter, more boyish look.
  1537. >With a great ripping noise, Tammy’s panties finally gave way, revealing a meaty, pulsating horse cock.
  1538. >”Nope. You’re up to the plate Anon. Fuck that shit, I did my time.”
  1539. >Chad bailed, never looked back once.
  1540. >You stared wide eyed, mouth gaping.
  1541. >You were essentially paralysed with arousal, your snatch was soaking and your clit was winking over and over again.
  1542. >Cock.
  1543. >Fuck me.
  1544. >NO.
  1545. >NOPE.
  1546. >You snorted and sat down, willing yourself not to walk over to Tammy, all while your sub-conscious screamed for her dick.
  1547. >Tammy panted and stared down at her… His new addition, slightly bemused.
  1548.  
  1549. >”That’s pretty big isn’t it? Huh.”
  1550. >He gave you an embarrassed glance and tried to cover it up with his hooves, blushing, but the cock just grew even longer and thicker.
  1551. >Another loud couple of shlicks and a weighty set of balls grew below it, bulging with cu-
  1552. >STOP.
  1553. >NOPE.
  1554. >Every single iota of your being wanted to fuck Tammy so bad right now.
  1555. >But you had all the signs flashing red in your brain, it was lockdown son, no fuck-
  1556. “Just let it hang out Tam, you’re going to have to get used to being naked all the time anyway.”
  1557. >The words just slipped out of your mouth, you’d hardly even thought about saying them.
  1558. >This estrous shit was seriously fucked up.
  1559. >”Really? Well alright…”
  1560. >Still blushing, Tammy sat up and let his cock loll free, flared head bobbing at the air.
  1561. >Hell, it was still growing, bumping against Tammy’s barrel as it went.
  1562. >Finally it came to a halt, fully erect, about halfway up to his chest.
  1563. >You hadn’t noticed it, but Tammy hadn’t shrunk in size as much as you had when you became a pony.
  1564. >All in all, he was about five inches taller than you were.
  1565. >Big and… and muscled and toned and-
  1566. >”Hey Anon? Ummm… I’m not really up for walking around in public with a honking huge boner though. You used to have one, what do I do with this thing to get it to chill out? And hey, what’s that smell anyway?”
  1567. >Tammy takes a big whiff of the air around her, smiling curiously with her eyes half lidded.
  1568. >”It’s… Nice, like alluring and musky.”
  1569. >You trot up to him and smile back.
  1570. “Here let me help you with it.”
  1571. >You try to put your muzzle up to the tip of his shaft, but Tammy shuffles away, back up against the wall.
  1572. >He’s staring at you, a little shocked.
  1573. >”Anon what are you-“
  1574. “Shuuusssshhhh, shush shush shush. The walls keep most of the noise out but if you’re too loud then Chad might hear.”
  1575. >”Chad? Anonymous wh-Ah!“
  1576.  
  1577. >You’d just booped the very tip of Tammy’s cock with your snootle, making it bounce over and back around to boop you right back on the snout.
  1578. >”S-stophmm.”
  1579. >You shoved a hoof up to Tammy’s mouth, stifling her.
  1580. >Smiling, you tutted and shook your head.
  1581. “Only way to get that dick down is by finishing you off Tammy~”
  1582. >It had been quite a long, long while since you’d seen Tammy actually shocked or surprised in any way.
  1583. >But he certainly was now.
  1584. >You’d reasoned this all out fairly well.
  1585. >Right now you were in a bind, being in heat was kind of like driving a big semi down an icy road.
  1586. >Where, if you spun out on the ice, you’d wind up fucking the most fuckable thing in your presence.
  1587. >Generally in the way most likely to get you either in trouble or preggers, not that there wasn’t any overlap there or anything.
  1588. >If you drove off the road, you’d fuck everything in sight, however the fuck you could.
  1589. >And finally, if you made it to the end, you’d fuck something you actually sort of maybe perhaps wanted to fuck and in a way that probably wouldn’t get you in shit too deep to climb out of.
  1590. >No matter what, you were going to fuck something, somehow.
  1591. >You gave Tammy’s shaft a nice long lick, from base to glans, giggling and smiling.
  1592. >Tammy’s cock was the same bright sky blue as his fur, mottled though, with green spots the same colour as his mane and tail.
  1593. >You hefted one of his balls in your hoof too, for good measure.
  1594. >The smell coming off of him was intoxicating, it was like sex was just floating in the air around Tammy.
  1595. >And so, based on your options and the data collected, you had decided to hammer the pedal down and just cut straight through.
  1596. >You paused at the tip of Tammy’s dick, tongue circling.
  1597. >Tammy was groaning, his eyes closed and his head back.
  1598. >In summary and conclusion, you were about to suck some dick.
  1599. >Your mouth opened wide.
  1600. >Holy shit, I am actually going to suck a dick.
  1601.  
  1602. >In addendum, this was a line you were crossing here, up till now you’d done nothing but fantasize a little…
  1603. >A lot.
  1604. >About cocks.
  1605. >Certainly your sexual interests had changed with your gender, but you’d never sated that particular thirst.
  1606. >”Anon? Yoooouuuu still there? Please tell me you’re not doing that spacing out thing in the middle of sucking my dick, I mean, you don’t need to write a whole darned thesis on it. It’s a cock, stick it in your mouth.”
  1607. >Your eyes flicked over to Tammy in mild surprise, he was giving you a knowing smirk.
  1608. >You smiled back and took his flare into your mouth, sucking.
  1609. >Worked your tongue around a little too, getting the whole thing nice and wet.
  1610. >Tammy started to moan, but you shoved your hoof into his mouth again and pointed to the door with your rear hoof, to where Chad was likely waiting just outside.
  1611. >Tammy nodded and put his own hoof up to muffle himself while you pressed on.
  1612. >You let Tammy’s cock pop out so that you could get a breath in.
  1613. >Then down again, farther this time.
  1614. >You got your mouth full, sucking and working your head up and down Tammy’s shaft, going further downward each time.
  1615. >Tammy squirmed with pleasure in response, just barely keeping himself silent.
  1616. >All of a sudden you realized you weren’t getting near as much as him out of this, plenty, but you were greedy for more.
  1617. >You went down on Tammy again, getting nearly all the way to the bottom.
  1618. >You could feel his cock bulging and pulsing in your throat, just the thought of that turned you on so much.
  1619. >Your pussy winked over and over again, clit pushing your lower lips apart and letting a stream of your juices drip down on the floor.
  1620. >And then up again, Tammy’s cock was soaked in your saliva and his pre cum.
  1621. >Again though, as thick and long as Tammy was, you were still managing to get the short stick here.
  1622. >So you tossed Tammy a devilish smile and repositioned him.
  1623.  
  1624. >Tammy seemed confused as you pushed him onto his back, but that confusion faded when you turned around and got your snatch dripping over his snout.
  1625. “I’ve got a bit of a mess down there, mind cleaning it up?”
  1626. >He nodded and grinned, taking a nice big whiff of your scent.
  1627. >”Just finish up that essay, it’s a long one.”
  1628. >69ing in a janitor’s closet, as a little horse.
  1629. >Would’ve had it on your bucket list, had you known.
  1630. >Tammy’s tongue on your pussy was maddening, sending you into shivers and nearly hysterics while you sucked his cock furiously.
  1631. >Your mouth went up and down his shaft, all the way from tippy top to balls deep bottom, you’d completely mastered your gag reflex.
  1632. >You massaged his balls while you did it, working your hooves around.
  1633. >Tammy, for his part, was tonguing you hard.
  1634. >Deep and fast, you could hear him panting back there and taking periodical sniffs off of your cunt like the smell of it was some sort of drug.
  1635. >You were winking like mad in response, breaths coming short and fast whenever you weren’t taking his cock.
  1636. >All of a sudden you heard a sucking sound and you gasped, Tammy had started to suck on your clit, taking the lower parts of your pussy in too.
  1637. >That pushed you right over the edge, you felt yourself unload your marecum all over his muzzle.
  1638. “MMMMhhhummmm…”
  1639. >Just then you’d taken his cock in all the way, feeling it twitch in your throat.
  1640. >The flare expanded, pushing your gullet wide open to accept him.
  1641. >Tammy came hard, pumping cum straight down your throat and into your stomach.
  1642. >Thick gobs of it, over and over again, you gulped it all down.
  1643. >Finally, when his flare had shrunk again, you let Tammy’s cock out.
  1644. >Tammy groaned and let out one last shot before his flare left your mouth, catching you by surprise.
  1645. >Cum flooded your taste buds, bits of it dripping out from your nostrils and your mouth.
  1646. >Again, you swallowed Tammy’s cum, you even licked up the last few drops of it that were on your nose.
  1647. >It just tasted… So…
  1648. >Good.
  1649. >You giggled and rolled off of Tammy.
  1650. >Satisfied, finally you felt satisfied.
  1651.  
  1652. >Getting up, you patted at your bulging tummy and laughed.
  1653. “Well, there’s my lunch.”
  1654. >Tammy chuckled back at you and rolled over, trying to get up.
  1655. >His legs shook a bit, and they didn’t seem to be going exactly where he wanted them to, but Tammy succeeded nonetheless.
  1656. “Sorry for kind of uhhh…”
  1657. >You blushed and looked around, everywhere but Tammy, as you rubbed the back of your head with a hoof.
  1658. “Forcing myself onto you like that. I’m sort of-“
  1659. >”In heat? Yeah, Chad told me about it. Don’t worry Anonymous, it was a fun time. Kinda surprised we didn’t go all the way actually.”
  1660. >That brought your spirits up a bit, quite a bit.
  1661. >You’d actually been a little worried that you might have to be the defendant in the weirdest rape case of all time.
  1662. >How you, O Equestrians, have been affected by my accusers.
  1663. >…
  1664. “Heh… Equestrians.”
  1665. >”What?”
  1666. >Tammy had a brow perked at you.
  1667. >More blushing, you waved it off.
  1668. “Just a bad pun. Yeah I kind of want to save myself for… Well I don’t know what.”
  1669. >Smirking and holding back a laugh, Tammy looked away, mouth pursed.
  1670. >”Y-yeah? Ha! I mean… Yeah?”
  1671. >You furrowed your brows.
  1672. “What. What?”
  1673. >”Nothing! Nothing at all!”
  1674. >Sighing, you stamped a hoof.
  1675. >You nearly went to force Tammy to tell, but then you decided it’d probably be best not to ask.
  1676. “Well whatever, let’s get cleaned up.”
  1677. >Tammy nodded in agreement.
  1678.  
  1679. >You turned around and trotted over to the shelf in the corner where you thought you’d seen a box of wet wipes earlier.
  1680. >Tammy started to follow, taking his time with each hoof he put forward.
  1681. >A bit of snuffling around the various cleaning supplies, the smell of them was a little overwhelming actually, and you found what you were looking for
  1682. >You bit down on the plastic box of wet wipes and pulled it down from the shelf to set it beside you.
  1683. >Just as you put it down, there came a bang and what sounded quite a bit like a pony falling into a pile of mops.
  1684. >”Ow. Darn it.”
  1685. >And there behind you was Tammy, splayed on his side like before, except there were mops strewn everywhere.
  1686. >You perked both your brows and trotted over to help him up.
  1687. “You alright Tam?”
  1688. >You stuck your hoof out for Tammy to hold on to and he accepted it, wrapping his pastern around yours and pulling himself up by it.
  1689. >Tammy smiled, only somewhat pained.
  1690. >”Yeah I’m fine. Still getting used to four legs instead of two.”
  1691. >You nodded back knowingly.
  1692. “I’ll have you galloping soon, don’t even worry about it. Here let me show you the basics before we clean ourselves up.”
  1693. >”Thanks ‘Non.”
  1694. >Fully stood up and stable, Tammy watched your hooves intently.
  1695. >For all of his quirks and his carefree attitude, he’d always been an apt and eager learner, just loved to suck up knowledge.
  1696. “So start like this.”
  1697. >You lifted your right fore hoof, bending at the knee.
  1698. >Then you clopped it down.
  1699. >Tammy nodded and mimicked you.
  1700. “And down. At the same time…”
  1701. >Now you lifted your right hind hoof, setting it forward a little.
  1702. >This time Tammy seemed a bit awkward copying you, but he managed.
  1703.  
  1704. “That leg should be moving. And the opposite side…”
  1705. >You did it all in tandem now, left fore leg forward at the same time as your right hind one.
  1706. “Is the same.”
  1707. >Tammy nailed it this go around, hooves clopping decisively, his determined look melted into a smile.
  1708. >”Got it! Thanks ‘Non.”
  1709. “No prob- oof!”
  1710. >Laughing, Tammy pulled you into a hug, fore legs wrapping around the back of your neck.
  1711. >You giggled and reciprocated, setting hoof on his back.
  1712. >Tammy’s fur felt real nice, he was warm too.
  1713. >The both of you pulled out of the hug smiling, and Tammy followed you over to the wet wipes.
  1714. >You tugged one out with your mouth and set it in your hoof.
  1715. “I’ll get your muzzle for ya Tammy.”
  1716. >”Alright. Here I’ll sit still.”
  1717. >Tammy took a seat and stuck his snout out a bit to make it easier for you.
  1718. >Lifting the wet wipe, you rubbed it all over Tammy’s muzzle, washing away your fluids and getting the pheromone smell out of his fur.
  1719. >Tammy giggled at it all, getting a little ticklish too when you rubbed his cheeks.
  1720. >His laughter got you smiling and rubbing at his ears just for the hell of it.
  1721. >It took a few more wipes to really get it all out of there, but you succeeded.
  1722. >”Alright! Your turn ‘Nonny.”
  1723. >You perked a brow and your smile went a little off kilter.
  1724. “ ‘Nonny? That’s a new one. Sounds kinda girly.”
  1725. >Tammy rolled his eyes and tugged a wet wipe out of the box.
  1726. >”Well duh, you’re a girl. I should know, after spending so long with my snout up your pu-“
  1727. >You blushed furiously and batted a fore hoof at the air.
  1728. “THAT IS CERTAINLLY A THING THAT HAPPENED YES.”
  1729. >Giggling ominously, Tammy got behind you faster than you could really register.
  1730. >Jesus, he’d gotten awful good with his hooves, terribly fast.
  1731. >”I’m not going to ever stop teasing you about it either, don’t you worry about that ‘Nonny!”
  1732.  
  1733. >You felt your tail being pushed aside, you blushed and bit your lip.
  1734. >Had to do it sooner or later though, and Tammy would do a better job cleaning you than you could do cleaning yourself.
  1735. >”But I’ll keep it between the two of us, if you want.”
  1736. >All of a sudden you felt the cold wet wipe on your snatch, wiping away all the mess you’d made earlier.
  1737. >You shivered, cold jolts shot up and down your spine.
  1738. >It was hard not to clamp your tail back down.
  1739. “Th-thanks Tam…”
  1740. >You peeked over your back, at Tammy.
  1741. >He smiled mischievously, still rubbing your nethers with that wet wipe while he hummed a little tune.
  1742. >”No problem ‘Nonny.”
  1743. >Tammy winked.
  1744. >You looked away, back to staring straight ahead at the wall.
  1745. >Rubbing intensifies.
  1746. >The cold was starting to fade now, with the wipe pressed against you like that.
  1747. >It was starting to…
  1748. >Well…
  1749. >Heat up again.
  1750. “Ummmm Tam. I think you got it all-AH… C-c-cleaned up…”
  1751. >”Oh, I was just thinking it needed a real DEEP cleaning, myself.”
  1752. >Before you could ask just what that was supposed to mean, you felt a weight on your back.
  1753. >Tammy’s hooves were up by your shoulders.
  1754.  
  1755. “TAMMY HOLY SHhmMmmMGM.”
  1756. >He’d stuffed a hoof in your mouth before you could finish, tutting just like you had before.
  1757. >”Come on now, ‘Nonny, Chad’ll hear you.”
  1758. >You could feel Tammy’s cock against your belly, twitching and bobbing around as he positioned himself on your back.
  1759. “MKFJFAJKJJFAS.”
  1760. >Tammy rolled his eyes and backed his hips up a little, still muffling your speech.
  1761. >His flare slid slowly up along your tummy, before flicking up to press gently against your pussy.
  1762. >You shook your head and got Tammy’s hoof out of your mouth, then you whispered furiously back at him.
  1763. “Tammy I don’t want to fuck-AH!”
  1764. >Tammy had shuffled ahead a little, his cock pushing apart your lower lips slightly.
  1765. >Just the thought of having that whole length inside of you, filling you up.
  1766. >Making you whole.
  1767. >Why don’t we just let it happen huh?
  1768. >What’s the worst that co-
  1769. >NO.
  1770. >I. DO. NOT. WANT. TO.
  1771. >You moved your rear to the side, getting your pussy out of the way of Tammy’s dick.
  1772. >Tammy snorted and frowned.
  1773. >”C’mon ‘Nonny. What’s wrong?”
  1774. >INITIATE DIVE ROLL.
  1775. >You did just that, dive rolling your way out from underneath Tammy and straight into the shelf beside you.
  1776. >Cleaning supplies rained down around you as you kicked them around trying to get as far away from Tammy.
  1777. >…And his…
  1778. >Glorious cock.
  1779. >…
  1780. >As far away as possible.
  1781.  
  1782. “NOTHING WRONG AT ALL TAM WHAT WOULD MAKE YOU THINK THAT.”
  1783. >Tammy sat down, his cock shrinking back into its sheath as he spoke, concerned.
  1784. >”Well you did an action-“
  1785. “DIVE.”
  1786. >You pressed yourself back against the wall as much as you could, gradually moving yourself along it towards the door out.
  1787. >Perking a brow, Tammy continued.
  1788. >”Dive roll, away from me. I get it, you don’t want to go all the way with me, that’s ok. Just relax? ‘Kay?”
  1789. >Tammy was smiling again, and he tossed you another wink.
  1790. >”HOW FUCKING LONG ARE YOU TWO LITTLE HORSES GOING TO BE IN THERE FOR? I JUST WANT TO EAT A FUCKING BURGER GODDAMN IT.”
  1791. >The both of you laughed a little there, hearing Chad again.
  1792. >You blushed and giggled, breaths and heartbeats slowing back down again.
  1793. “Sorry ‘Tam. You just, heh, I dunno you just scared me was all.”
  1794. >Standing up, Tammy looked concerned again, he walked over to you and set a hoof on your shoulder.
  1795. >”Heck, I should be sorry then ‘Non. I just wanted to be playful about it was all, I didn’t want to scare you. You know I’d never want to do anything to hurt you, right?”
  1796. “Yeah I know. Just this whole estrous thing is getting to me, I seriously hope this shit cuts out. And soon.”
  1797. >Tammy chuckled and stood up.
  1798. >”I kind of figured. So who are you really saving yourself for anyway? Chad?”
  1799. >…Welp.
  1800. >Back to backing your way up to the door and hopefully out of this conversation again, you could swear most of the blood in your body was currently situated in your face.
  1801. “What.”
  1802. >Tammy’s face slowly lit up, like turning the burner up on a propane stove.
  1803. >His grin spread all across his face and he jumped up in the air, yelling.
  1804. >”Ha! It is him isn’t it! I knew it! After seeing all those pictures and the way he talked and acted around you and-“
  1805. >Tammy was practically jumping for joy, determined smile set on his face as he trotted circles in front of you, gesturing wildly and tossing his mane around.
  1806. “Tammy no I’m not! There’s no fucking way, not Chad, not ever man that’s t-totally… W-weird and not-“
  1807. >”ARE YOU YELLING ABOUT ME. STOP YELLING ABOUT ME.”
  1808. “FUCK OFF CHAD. I’M BUSY HAVING A STROKE HERE.”
  1809. >You were officially pissed.
  1810. >Tammy still had that goddamn grin plastered on his muzzle as he moved up to you, poking your chest with a hoof.
  1811. >”It’s Chad. It is so TOTALLY Chad. Dang Anon I-“
  1812. “IT IS NOT CHAD.”
  1813. >”WHAT ISN’T ME? AM I STILL ME?”
  1814.  
  1815. >Tammy giggled and hollered back.
  1816. >”Yes Chad you’re still you!”
  1817. “Tammy shut the FUCK up.”
  1818. >Rolling his eyes, ears flicking around, Tammy walked right past you and opened the door.
  1819. >”Fine, but I’m not dropping this. Nuh uh.”
  1820. >He pointed up at a very befuddled and still somewhat angry Chad.
  1821. >You noted that he was stuffing Tammy’s clothes and things into the backpack he’d left with him.
  1822. >All the while, Tammy waved his hooves around mysteriously at you
  1823. >”It is your destiny Anonymous, oOoOoOoO…”
  1824. >Then Tammy proceeded to 360 moonwalk out of there.
  1825. >…
  1826. >”Anon what THE FUCK-“
  1827. “No.”
  1828. >Chad threw his hands up in confusion and frustration, then strode angrily after the moonwalking Tammy, straight into the press of the food court.
  1829. >How the fuck was Tammy even doing that anyway?
  1830. >It’s not like he’d ever been good at dancing or anything.
  1831. >You sighed and blew your mane out of your eyes before pressing on after them.
  1832. >”Wow look at that! Two ponies!”
  1833. >Oh.
  1834. >You’d forgotten about the crowds.
  1835. >You stared around, still following Tammy and Chad through the court.
  1836. >Again, seems you’d gotten lucky today, or people were just starting to get used to little talking horses.
  1837. >Because you weren’t getting swarmed.
  1838. >There were some pictures sure, and a few people were hollering out random questions about your personal life.
  1839. >But this was no Uni Atrium Panic Situation, thank fuck.
  1840. >”So where did you want to eat anyway?”
  1841. >Chad’s looking over his shoulder at you as he strides easily through the crowd, pretty much cutting out a path for you.
  1842.  
  1843. >He’s calmed down now, a little surly, but not hollering at least.
  1844. >You think for a moment.
  1845. >What would be best?
  1846. >Salad I guess.
  1847. >I mean, you’re a horse after all.
  1848. >Meat isn’t really on the top of the menu for you anymore, in fact, you don’t quite feel the same thinking about it now.
  1849. >Before, you’d start salivating at just the suggestion of steak, now there was hardly even a reaction.
  1850. ”I’m… Huh. I don’t really want any meat. Not that I’d be adverse to it, I just don’t care, I guess.”
  1851. >Chad shrugged.
  1852. >”That sounds pretty normal. You’re an herbivore now after all. I’d recommend the salad bar, but I’ve seen security guards wearing mason rings walk past it a couple times before. Not really worth the risk.”
  1853. >You rolled your eyes.
  1854. >Chad seemed to be expecting that, he raised a finger.
  1855. >”ALSO, the salad there tastes like shit anyway. There’s an independent stand that’s way better, I know the guy who runs it. A vegan, but otherwise harmless.”
  1856. “Sounds good then, masonry paranoia crap aside.”
  1857. >Chad shrugs, casually.
  1858. >And then he shoved a pasty emo kid trying to get an autograph out of the way, casually.
  1859. >”Tammy! Get back here, we’re going to the salad joint.”
  1860. >”Alright!”
  1861. >Tammy quit his moonwalking and trotted back over to you and Chad.
  1862. >The three of you cut across the food court, taking a hard left to the stands on the edges.
  1863. >Chad does his usual, intimidating or pushing away anyone stupid enough to try and block you and Tammy off.
  1864. >Tammy pranced along happily beside you, like he’d always been a pony, and not just started being one about ten to fifteen minutes ago.
  1865. >It felt comforting actually, like status quo had been returned.
  1866. >You couldn’t help but smile, you hardly even objected when Tammy tossed in quick nuzzles every now and then.
  1867. >Maybe you’d developed something of a herd mentality.
  1868.  
  1869. >Hard tile beneath your hooves, the sound of your hooves clip clopping and the white noise of the crowd around you, accompanied every now and then by the cry of a particularly harried pedestrian and Chad’s generally vulgar rebuttal.
  1870. >Your ears caught it all, turning hither and thither at each sound.
  1871. >The smell was pretty strong too, you could pick out pretty much every individual restaurant and food stand.
  1872. >From the sketchy kebab place by the corridor you’d come out of, all the way down to the poutine the fat little twelve year old a few feet away from you was eating.
  1873. >Finally the three of you broke through the crowd, into the outskirts of the food court.
  1874. >The Salad Joint was before you.
  1875. >The stand was shaped like a white porcelain vinaigrette bowl, with all of the different orders of salads plastered over its sides.
  1876. >It had its own sign, stood up on twin wood pillars, a big fat joint with leaves of lettuce and tomatoes sticking out of one end.
  1877. >The words “Salad Joint” were etched in big bold green lettering across either side of it.
  1878. “It’s… Actually called the Salad Joint?”
  1879. >Tammy giggled, snatching his wallet from Chad and stepping up to order.
  1880. >”Haven’t you seen it before ‘Non?”
  1881. >Chad nodded matter of factly, digging your wallet out of his jeans pocket.
  1882. >”Here, you dropped this in the elevator.”
  1883. >Your brows shot up in surprise.
  1884. “Oh. Thanks bro.”
  1885. >”No problem.”
  1886. >You mouthed it and got in line behind Tammy.
  1887. >He’d hopped up on his hind legs, setting his fore hooves up on the counter to face the employee behind it.
  1888. >”I’ll get my regular.”
  1889. >Never before have you seen a more nervous cashier, not since that one time you’d been around for a gas station robbery.
  1890. >Hell, at least that guy knew exactly what to do.
  1891. >”Uhhhh, I’ve um… I’ve never served you before.”
  1892. >Tammy chuckled and shook his head, drawing out the awkward tension.
  1893.  
  1894. >”Oh shoot. I suppose you haven’t. Just get me a spinach with tomatoes and mushrooms.”
  1895. >The cashier nodded, handing the order over to the salad tosser.
  1896. >The both of them took about four double takes a piece, staring at you and Tammy like the both of you might just explode at any given moment.
  1897. >Once the salad was finished, the cashier handed it over to Tammy in a little plastic platter.
  1898. >”Here you are, uhhh… Sir, that’ll be six twenty five.”
  1899. >Tammy laughed again and mouthed the cash out of her wallet, then he picked up the platter with his mouth.
  1900. >”Fhanks!”
  1901. >”No, um, problem. You want a fork for that?”
  1902. >”Nfhaw, mf gud.”
  1903. >Tammy got out of your way, sitting down beside Chad while you ordered.
  1904. >You stepped up and onto your hind legs, setting your fore hooves up on the counter just like Tammy had.
  1905. >The cashier stared at you silently, obviously trying his hardest not to comment on the fact that you were a horse.
  1906. >Maybe you should try to make things a little less awkward or something…?
  1907. >You smiled and pointed up at the “Salad Joint” joint shaped sign.
  1908. “Must have been hell keeping that up there, Chad tells me you’re a vegan.”
  1909. >.
  1910. >..
  1911. >…
  1912. >You have managed to double the awkwardness and confuse the cashier even more.
  1913. >”I… Have no idea who Chad is… Tom, the owner, is a vegan though.”
  1914. >The cashier sighed, painfully slowly, taking his time as though he were silently judging you the whole time he did it.
  1915. >Yeah that look said it all: “I am in a conversation with a braindead spaghetti sperg.”
  1916. >”What would you like from the Salad Joint today ma’am?”
  1917.  
  1918. >Ma’am.
  1919. >Despite everything, it felt real weird being called that.
  1920. >You nearly corrected him, the word “sir” got about halfway up before you stopped.
  1921. >Sighing, you pressed your fore hoof to your cheek and lazily leaned your head against it while you scanned the various different veggies the place had.
  1922. >You didn’t know it, but your tail was swiping back and forth as you stared.
  1923. >Huh, they had a few different cheeses too.
  1924. “I’ll get…”
  1925. >You got off your hoof and pointed out each ingredient in turn.
  1926. “Oak Leaf lettuce, chopped carrots, feta cheese, slivered almonds. Toss some vinaigrette on there.”
  1927. >”Balsamic?”
  1928. >Nodding, you started to mouth some cash out of your wallet.
  1929. “Yeah. Some olive oil too please.”
  1930. >Chad’s food choices had rubbed off on you years ago.
  1931. >The guy putting the salads together got to it, lettuce was tossed into the plastic tray, carrots and almonds sprinkled in along with the feta.
  1932. >He got a little fancy come the vinaigrette and olive oil, twirling the bottles around before pouring them simultaneously.
  1933. >One last shuffle of it all and it was done.
  1934. >”No fork?”
  1935. “No fork.”
  1936. >The cashier tapped a few buttons on his register.
  1937. >”That’ll be nine sixty five.”
  1938. >You gave him a ten and let him keep the change.
  1939. >Taking the plastic tray in your mouth, you lowered yourself off the counter and back on all fours
  1940. “Fank fu.”
  1941. >”No problem ma’am, enjoy.”
  1942. >You turned around and trotted back to Chad, he had just got done texting something on his phone.
  1943. >His hand twitched a little when it went back to his side, like he wanted to pull a cig out of his pack.
  1944. >”Done?”
  1945.  
  1946. “Fyah. Fhu nomf gomha foohrder anyfing?”
  1947. >Chad smiled a little and shook his head, chuckling as he walked back towards the center of the food court.
  1948. >You and Tammy both fell in behind him.
  1949. “Wfat r hu faffing fat?”
  1950. >Tammy seemed curious too, head tilting side to side as he smiled, bemused.
  1951. >”Sorry. It’s just… I dunno, its cute is all, two little horses carrying salad trays together like you are. I got Thot to order me some food while me and Tammy were waiting for you outside the bathroom.”
  1952. >You held your laughter.
  1953. >Instead you trotted up to Chad and ran your side against his leg as you made a pass.
  1954. “Awwww, foo crufhingk hagan?”
  1955. >You tossed him a wink and smacked his shin with your tail to boot.
  1956. >”Feah, fare hou cufhing?”
  1957. >Tammy joined in too, rubbing up alongside Chad’s legs.
  1958. >Blushing furiously and cussing away under his breath, Chad finally dug out that cigarette he was obviously craving.
  1959. >He lit it and got a few drags off before…
  1960. >”Hey, this is a no smoking zone.”
  1961. >You, Chad and Tammy all came to a dead stop.
  1962. >The three of you turned as one to stare at the guy who’d spoken up.
  1963. >Big steel toe boots, faded blue jeans, black leather belt.
  1964. >The man had a white t shirt with a red flannel shirt overtop, both tucked into his jeans.
  1965. >About six foot seven, muscled and moustached with close cut black (and somewhat greying) hair.
  1966. >It was your Dad.
  1967. >Chad grinned and puffed off of his cig, Dad cracked a smile.
  1968. >Tammy laughed.
  1969. >You stood stock still, not quite believing your eyes.
  1970. >”How’re things holding up old man?”
  1971. >Chad stuck out his hand and Dad shook it, growling back an answer.
  1972. >”Since when is fifty six old? You fucking brat.”
  1973.  
  1974. >The both of them laughed heartily, then Dad turned his gaze to you, curious.
  1975. >Fuck.
  1976. >He seemed shocked for a moment, then that turned to thoughtfulness.
  1977. >What the hell do you even…?
  1978. >There was nothing you could say, words just refused to come out of your mouth.
  1979. >Words refused to form, period, your brain just sort of shut down.
  1980. >Dad ended on recognition.
  1981. >You set down your salad, shaking a little with your ears pinned back, and he crouched down to your level.
  1982. >”H’lo son. You’re looking… Stable.”
  1983. >…
  1984. >Rolling your eyes at the pun, you whacked your dad’s knee with a hoof, he just laughed as usual.
  1985. >Always had a joke to spare.
  1986. “Fuck off Dad. How did you even know it was me?”
  1987. >James shrugged and mussed up your mane.
  1988. >”You think I wouldn’t recognize my son? Well...”
  1989. >Your dad looked you over, brow perked.
  1990. >”Daughter, anyway. Plus, if shit is going to happen?”
  1991. >You sighed and nodded.
  1992. “It’s going to happen to me. “
  1993. >Winking, your dad pulled you into a hug.
  1994. >You accepted graciously, relief flooded through you.
  1995. >It was okay.
  1996. >It was alright.
  1997. >Chad was nodding at you and smiling.
  1998. >He must have texted your dad about this whole mess.
  1999. >You tried to give Chad a thumbs up, but then you remembered you didn’t have the tools for it, so you mouthed the words “Thank you” instead.
  2000. >What was that soaking your fur?
  2001.  
  2002. >Frowning, you brought your hoof up to your face.
  2003. >Tears, you hadn’t even noticed.
  2004. “Thanks Dad.”
  2005. >The hug ended and your Dad pulled away with a determined smile on his face.
  2006. >Everything around you seemed to vanish, your attention was solely on your father and yourself.
  2007. >”Don’t you even worry about it. I don’t care if you’re human, horse or a fucking insect. I love you. I will always have your back. Period. Y’hear?”
  2008. >You sniffled and rubbed the tears out of your eyes.
  2009. “I hear.”
  2010. >Dad nodded and smacked you on the back.
  2011. >”Good. But telling your mother? Ha. That’s YOUR job Anon, I’m already in the doghouse.”
  2012. >Laughing and sniffling, you still rubbed at your eyes, trying to get the crying to stop.
  2013. “H-h’alright D-Dad. You fuh-fuckin wuss.”
  2014. >A minute or two passed with you still crying softly.
  2015. >Eventually your Dad set a hand against your cheek, finger rubbing up and down, whisking the tears aside.
  2016. >He looked concerned now.
  2017. >”You alright?”
  2018. >You smiled and nodded.
  2019. “Just f-fine… I’m really huuh… happy is all.”
  2020. >”I get ya. You need to talk about this or anything?”
  2021. >Shaking your head and smiling, you waved your hoof dismissively.
  2022. “Nah, n-not rig *sniff* right now.”
  2023. >”Alright. Just ask when you do.”
  2024. >The world seemed to un-blur, coming back in focus as your Dad stood up.
  2025. >Now your Dad turned to Tammy, expression thoughtful.
  2026. >Tammy set her salad down and smiled “mysteriously”.
  2027. >”And who am I?”
  2028. >Dad rubbed his chin, eyes narrowed.
  2029. >Then he smiled, slow and easy, just the way he did everything else.
  2030. >”You’re sounding… A little horse. Tammy.”
  2031. >Tammy fell back, rolling on the floor and laughing uproariously at the terrible pun.
  2032.  
  2033. >Dad smiled and chuckled, scratching the back of his head.
  2034. >”Well, why don’t we go an’ eat. Yer sister Thot’s waiting ain’t she? Best to get that mess over and done with.”
  2035. >Tammy nodded and got back up, grabbing his salad and falling in behind Chad.
  2036. >You reached for your tray but Dad got there first.
  2037. >”Here, lemme carry that for you.”
  2038. “Thanks Dad.”
  2039. >Your Dad brought up the rear, sticking close to you.
  2040. >Clip clopping through the mess of people, you stared up at the chandelier overhead as you went.
  2041. >Here and there you picked out distinct shapes in the glass, abstract became concept and concept shaped into reality.
  2042. >Where there was once an indistinguishable jumble, there were now clear-cut cubes, spheres and pyramids.
  2043. >Everything looked a little brighter on this side of your life.
  2044. >Things were making sense, from the abstract of becoming something else, to the concept of changing shape into a pony and finally…
  2045. >Being the pony.
  2046. >You shook your head and giggled.
  2047. >You were getting that safe herd feeling again as you trotted on, especially since your Dad always had this meter or so radius around him where people in crowds just wouldn’t pass through.
  2048. >Looking over your back, you tossed him a smile.
  2049. >Dad winked back.
  2050. >”Hey, careful you don’t fall. You might not be able to giddy up.”
  2051. >…
  2052. >You never looked back again.
  2053. >He just laughed and laughed, you could see Chad smirking up ahead and Tammy was barely holding onto his salad tray over the snorting and giggling.
  2054. >”You know, I always wanted a mustang. Now I don’t even need the extra garage space.”
  2055. “You know, I’m at just the right height to kick you straight in the balls?”
  2056. >Chad grinned back at your Dad.
  2057. >Your ears flopped down flat in anticipation, brow furrowing.
  2058.  
  2059. >”Looks like you’ve really made a foal of yourself now.”
  2060. “I will fucking end you Chad.”
  2061. >”Eh, you whinny some, you lose some.”
  2062. >Cue everyone except you losing it.
  2063. >You snorted and stamped your hooves against the tiles, tail whipping at the air.
  2064. “Jesus fucking Christ, how far away is Thot sitting?”
  2065. >Thanks to what you could only believe was an act of god, the four of you finally broke through the crowd, coming out at Thot’s table.
  2066. >She was busy texting for the nonce, stopping here and there to adjust her thin framed glasses.
  2067. >Thot had the same red hair, but she wore it straighter and longer than Tammy
  2068. >She also dressed a lot more conservatively than her sister, well, her brother at the moment, sporting a pair of jeans and an itchy looking green wool turtleneck.
  2069. >Tammy shoved his salad platter into your mouth and dashed ahead.
  2070. >”HEEEEEEEEYYYYY SIS!”
  2071. >Thot barely even looked up, eyes wide, before her brother Tammy was in her lap and hugging her tight.
  2072. >You shook your head in unison with Chad.
  2073. “Fahme hold, fahme hold.”
  2074. >”Might as well call nine one one now, tell them we got a fainter.”
  2075. >”Wha- WHAAAAT! But… No but! Oh my god what?!”
  2076. >You trotted up to the table and took a seat, Chad and your Dad in tow.
  2077. “Hey Thot.”
  2078. >Talk about a Kodak moment.
  2079. >Tammy nuzzling into his sister’s chest, Chad seated beside her chowing down furiously on a burger.
  2080. >Then you and your father sitting opposite.
  2081. >Dad was just smiling, letting things blow over with a relaxed smile on his face, sitting up straight with his legs spread and his arms crossed over his chest like he always did.
  2082. >Thot stared at you.
  2083. >Then back at her brother.
  2084. >Then at you.
  2085. >”A-Anonymous? What… Is this-“
  2086.  
  2087. >She pointed down at the sky blue pony in her lap.
  2088. >”This is-“
  2089. “Tammy yeah. You know how she, he, is. Heard about the drug that I got slipped to me, decided to try it for herself.”
  2090. >And Thot was down for the count.
  2091. >Tammy hardly even payed attention, switching his focus away from nuzzling her right over to his salad, which you plopped down in front of him.
  2092. >You dug into your own salad, going slow so that you wouldn’t make a mess of your fur.
  2093. >Munch, munch, munch.
  2094. >Just out of the corner of your eye, you could see your Dad watching you curiously, smiling with one brow perked.
  2095. >Slowly, you swallowed, maintaining eye contact.
  2096. >”Taste good?”
  2097. “It tastes…”
  2098. >Incredible.
  2099. >Wonderful.
  2100. >Fantastic.
  2101. >The nutty taste, the spiciness of the fresh Oak Leaf lettuce, combined with the crunch of the carrots and the almond slivers.
  2102. >It was complemented perfectly by the salty feta and then deftly completed with the high quality balsamic vinaigrette, olive oil combo.
  2103. >The flavor of every veggie and nut was heightened so much as a pony.
  2104. “Fucking delicious.”
  2105. >Dad boomed with laughter, slapping his knee.
  2106. >”Well shit. Lookin’ like I’m going to have to learn how to cook my greens as good as I do my meats. Wonder how a veggie burger’d turn out…”
  2107. >Chad looked up from his burger.
  2108. >”I got a shit load of veg recipes I could share with you. Especially my shepherd’s pie. Everyone loves my shepherd’s pie, the people who haven’t tried it just don’t know it yet.”
  2109. >”Sounds like a date.”
  2110.  
  2111. >You snapped up another mouthful of salad, munching lettuce.
  2112. >Felt really natural, chewing on veg.
  2113. >Wonder how grass tastes…
  2114. >Well, not like you’d be able to find out with all this snow on the ground.
  2115. >Have to wait till spring.
  2116. >You swallowed and went down for another mouthful.
  2117. >Chad and your father were trading recipes, while Tammy devoured his salad.
  2118. >Thot was starting to come to, eyes fluttering open.
  2119. >But, really though, if you could eat grass and if it tasted good then you’d be able to save a fuckton on food.
  2120. >You’d have to be sneaky about it though, the city or the university might get you for illegal grazing.
  2121. >…
  2122. >You nearly choked on your lettuce, giggling.
  2123. “Ha, illegal grazing…”
  2124. >You could see it now, drunken night raids on flower beds city wide, the lawn police chasing after you and for no particular reason, Chad too.
  2125. >”Anonymous..?”
  2126. >Thot has come to.
  2127. >You gave her a bright smile and adjusted yourself in your chair, scooting your butt forward a little.
  2128. “Morning, Ahab.”
  2129. >Shaking her head, Thot perked a brow.
  2130. >”Ahab?”
  2131. >You waved a hoof dismissively.
  2132. “Don’t worry about it. How are you feeling, you alright?”
  2133. >Thot nodded, a little hesitantly, eyes on her brother Tammy.
  2134. >Tammy was too busy gorging himself to really pay attention.
  2135. >”I’m fine. Are you okay? I mean aren’t you freaked out or scared or-“
  2136. >Shaking your head and laughing a little, you reached over the table and patted Thot on the shoulder with your hoof.
  2137. “I’m fine Thot. Thanks for worrying about me though.”
  2138.  
  2139. >She still didn’t seem sure about it all, but you knew Thot would come around eventually.
  2140. >Chad and your Dad had stopped talking, they were both intent on Thot.
  2141. >Thot pointed down at Tammy, brows furrowed.
  2142. >”And Tammy, she’ll go back to normal eventually, right?”
  2143. >You nodded and munched on some more salad.
  2144. “Haftor twelf hors.”
  2145. >Looking away from you, down at her brother Tammy, Thot extended a quivering hand to his mane.
  2146. >Thot’s ran her fingers through it.
  2147. >Her expression darkened with each pass.
  2148. >”Tammy. Don’t you ever scare me like that again.”
  2149. >Tammy sat up straight and turned his head to his sister.
  2150. >”Oh hey sis! You’re u-“
  2151. >”Never again.”
  2152. >Silence.
  2153. >Brother and sister stared each other in the eyes, Thot had a stern look on her face while Tammy had that same determined smile you’d seen in the janitor’s closet earlier.
  2154. >Chad was frowning, and butting out his cigarette on the table.
  2155. >”Alright Thotty. I’m sorry, really.”
  2156. >…
  2157. >”I just THOT it’d be fun!”
  2158. >Your muzzle scrunched up at the pun, ears flopping down.
  2159. >Dad was chuckling and Chad was grinning.
  2160. >The tension disappeared, even Thot cracked a faint little smile.
  2161. >She pulled Tammy into a hug, holding him tight.
  2162. >”Apology accepted.”
  2163. >Eventually the hug ended, and everyone went back to their business.
  2164. >Chad set all his garbage on his tray, burger finished.
  2165. >You munched up and swallowed the last bits of your salad and Tammy patted his tummy, full and finished long before you.
  2166.  
  2167. >Your Dad stood up and rubbed his right shoulder, lips curling downward.
  2168. >You frowned.
  2169. >It always worried you, seeing him actually hurt even a little.
  2170. >Mostly because before Dad hurt his shoulder, you’d pretty much never seen him react to pain.
  2171. >Reciprocating saw cut into his hand?
  2172. >He hardly even flinched, just tore a strip off of his flannel shirt and wrapped it tight around the wound, then finished the job.
  2173. >It had taken you pointing out that he’d cut an artery to get him to go to the hospital.
  2174. >You’d seen him smash his hand with a hammer, seen him get trapped under a chained up moose he was gutting.
  2175. >Dad never even cried out or groaned, just sort of looked at himself in mild surprise then got right back to what he was doing.
  2176. >You’d always figured he was invincible.
  2177. >But that shoulder…
  2178. >You furrowed your brow, your ears flattened.
  2179. >Dad rolled his right shoulder and sighed.
  2180. >”Damn thing.”
  2181. >He wasn’t getting any younger.
  2182. >The pain seemed to subside, your Dad reached over and picked up your empty salad tray.
  2183. >”Here, I’ll get that for you… Huh. What should I start calling ya anyway?”
  2184. >You smiled, bemused.
  2185. “What?”
  2186. >Dad rubbed his chin, thinking.
  2187. >”Well, son isn’t really the right thing anymore. What do Dads call their daughters?”
  2188. >Huh.
  2189. “Yeah, I guess. I dunno…”
  2190. >You shrugged and giggled.
  2191. “Usually honey or some nickname.”
  2192. >Your Dad was smiling wide now.
  2193. >You didn’t like it.
  2194.  
  2195. >“So I can call you whatever I want?”
  2196. “No that’s not wh-“
  2197. >”Be right back… Hoof Hearted.”
  2198. >…
  2199. >Wait, that wasn’t even…
  2200. >Where was the pun?
  2201. >I mean yeah, Hoof.
  2202. >But there was nothing tying it in, Hearted was just Hearted…
  2203. >Your muzzle scrunched as you thought on it, there was no way Dad wouldn’t take advantage of a nickname.
  2204. >Was he genuinely just giving you a nice, cozy, daughter name?
  2205. >Hoof Hearted…
  2206. >You looked up at him, confused.
  2207. “What?”
  2208. >Your Dad just chuckled and headed over to the garbage bin, Chad following along behind him with his own trash.
  2209. >Tammy was laughing, Thot had a little giggle.
  2210. >What.
  2211. >You whipped your head around and stared them both down.
  2212. “What’s so funny? There wasn’t even a shitty pun in there!”
  2213. >Thot shrugged and Tammy just shook his head and smiled.
  2214. >They both got up and went to get rid of their trash too, leaving you there to ponder the great mystery of Hoof Hearted.
  2215. >Hoof…
  2216. >Hearted…
  2217. >Hooves?
  2218. >You brought your hoof up and stared at it.
  2219. >Guess the frog on your hoof was kind of heart shaped.
  2220. >No way.
  2221. >That’s not even punny.
  2222.  
  2223. >Not that Dad’s puns were funny to begin with.
  2224. >Hearts?
  2225. >Hearts and Hooves…
  2226. “What the FUCK.”
  2227. >You hopped out of your chair and paced around angrily, stomping and clomping.
  2228. >Your tail swished about and you snorted.
  2229. >Was this just an advanced way of fucking with you?
  2230. >Maybe there really was no pun, and Dad just wanted to lead you on and torment and tease you about “not getting the joke”.
  2231. >You wouldn’t put it past him.
  2232. >He’s done worse.
  2233. >Shit like joking about you having a brother he’d never told you about…
  2234. >That had been a seriously intricate one too, he’d pretended to have these slip ups when he was talking about family for a whole fucking year before he told you he was only shitting you.
  2235. >Your eyes narrowed and you gave one last snort before jumping back into your chair.
  2236. >You huffed and crossed your fore legs over your chest.
  2237. “Fucker.”
  2238. >”You sound cute when you’re swearing, Hoof Hearted.”
  2239. >Dad-
  2240. >All of a sudden you felt a hand in your mane, mussing it all up.
  2241. “Damnit Dad, do you know how hard it is to keep this straight with just my hooves?”
  2242. >You turned around and frowned at him, and Chad and Tammy and Thot behind him.
  2243. >They just smiled back.
  2244. >”Sure thing, Hoof Hearted.”
  2245. >”Sorry ‘bout that, Hoof Hearted.”
  2246. >”I’ll tell him to be more careful, Hoof Hearted.”
  2247. >”Alright, Hoof Hearted.”
  2248. >…
  2249. >Hoof. Hearted.
  2250.  
  2251. >WHO. FARTED.
  2252. “ARE YOU ALL TWELVE? FUCK OFF.”
  2253. >You groaned and slumped in your chair.
  2254. >Chad and your Dad high fived while Tammy and Thot both had a giggle fit.
  2255. >Everyone sat back down around you, reigning in their laughter one by one.
  2256. >You kept your frown up for as long as it took for your Dad to mess with your mane again.
  2257. >Then you smiled.
  2258. >Mess aside, it felt nice.
  2259. >Dad’s hands were rough and calloused, but he’d always had a gentle touch.
  2260. >Your thoughts went back to Patrick, he’d had something like that too.
  2261. >But you felt it a hundred times over from your Dad.
  2262. >Dad picked your braid up in his hands, looking at it curiously.
  2263. >”Who did this up for ya?”
  2264. >Tammy spoke up.
  2265. >”Ah, I did.”
  2266. >You nodded.
  2267. “Nice huh? I’m still trying to decide exactly what I want to do with my mane though.”
  2268. >Your Dad nodded back, letting your braid down over your shoulder and your chest.
  2269. >Then he grinned.
  2270. >”Maybe I should style it for ya, huh? I’ll give you a cut just like mine, real clean, easy to keep!”
  2271. >Dad pointed up at his buzzed head, nearly shaved completely bald.
  2272. “Even when I was still a dude I never said yes to that.”
  2273. >He winked and booped your nose.
  2274. >”Spoilsport.”
  2275. >You rolled your eyes and looked to Chad.
  2276. “So what’s the plan anyway? We shopping or what?”
  2277. >Chad nodded.
  2278. >”Yeah. I got a couple stores I wanted to stop into.”
  2279. “Cool. Me too. You guys?”
  2280.  
  2281. >You turned to Tammy and Thot, both of them gave you a thumbs up.
  2282. >Well, you just assumed Tammy was trying to give you a thumbs up.
  2283. “Dad?”
  2284. >Your Dad was checking the time on his watch.
  2285. >Ah.
  2286. >He looked up, giving you an old smile, the one you’d seen plenty of before.
  2287. >” ‘Fraid not. Time’s getting on. I gotta get back to Mustad.”
  2288. >It was the bittersweet smile Dad always made when he had to leave.
  2289. >”Here.”
  2290. >Dad clapped something down on the table, a money clip.
  2291. >There was just over a hundred dollars in it, at a glance.
  2292. “Dad you don’t need-“
  2293. >He cut you off, pulling you into a hug.
  2294. >”I know you hate charity. But I figure you’ll be needing some new clothes eh? Should be enough to get you more gear for the winter, along with some stuff to help you along.”
  2295. >…
  2296. >You patted his back with a hoof.
  2297. “Thanks Dad.”
  2298. >You felt him hug you even tighter, then you felt your hooves leave the chair as he lifted you up.
  2299. >He stared right into your eyes, expression serious, and he whispered, just for you to hear.
  2300. >”If you EVER need to talk. Call. Don’t matter if it’s two in the afternoon or two in morning. Y’hear?”
  2301. >You nodded back.
  2302. “I hear.”
  2303. >The hug ended.
  2304. >Dad kept on smiling that going away smile at you, but you could tell that he wanted to stay.
  2305. >”I’d only cramp your style anyway. Have fun with your friends. Get drunk, take risks. Love ya.”
  2306. >He mussed up your mane one last time, then booped you on the nose.
  2307. >You smiled for him and waved as he walked away.
  2308. “Love you too, Dad.”
  2309. >Off he went, spreading the crowd with that perimeter of intimidation like he was Moses.
  2310. >You chuckled a little, under your breath.
  2311. >Aw man…
  2312. >You’d always been a crybaby.
  2313.  
  2314. >Tears dripped down your face, streaming through your white fur and plopping down on the tiled floor.
  2315. >You were smiling though, probably the same bittersweet smile your Dad had given you.
  2316. >To think your Dad was so truly sympathetic and understanding.
  2317. >You’d always looked up to him, and he’d never done you wrong, but you’d never have imagined that any-
  2318. >”Let’s get moving, you wussy gushy pony.”
  2319. >All of a sudden you felt hands around your barrel, and you were hefted up and over onto Chad’s shoulder.
  2320. “Hey!”
  2321. >Chad just strode on, carrying you over his right shoulder and lugging Tammy’s backback in his left hand while he whistled a jolly little tune.
  2322. >Sounded familiar… But you couldn’t quite put your hoof on it.
  2323. >Despite yourself, you grinned.
  2324. “Thanks Chad.”
  2325. >”No problem.”
  2326. >If it weren’t for him, then you’d have probably spent a good five or ten minutes sitting there and wasting your time thinking about the way things had always been.
  2327. >You beat playfully on Chad’s back with your hooves and giggled as you wiped the last of your tears away.
  2328. >Tammy and Thot trotted and walked behind you, the people of the mall passed on either side along with the store fronts.
  2329. >Mall rats skulked around shitty little skate shops, little kids tugged their parents along through the halls and the obese waddled by.
  2330. >All of them were looking at you and Tammy though.
  2331. >Eh, whatever.
  2332. >Thot had a stern look on her face, seeing Chad manhandle you like that, but Tammy was smiling and winking up at you.
  2333. >He whispered excitedly,
  2334. >”You’re in! Go for it!”
  2335. >You blushed and shook your head furiously.
  2336. >Why did Tammy have to be so determined?
  2337.  
  2338. >”Mind if we head to the Think Kitchen first?”
  2339. >Chad had his head turned round to look at you, smiling casually.
  2340. >You whipped your head back, meeting his gaze.
  2341. “S-sure…”
  2342. >In spite of your flustered tone and expression, there was a sparkle in Chad’s eyes.
  2343. >He picked up the pace a little, laughing at random every now and then.
  2344. >Chad had always loved cooking, he’d picked it up from your Dad.
  2345. >Now he was even better at it than Dad was, although neither of them would admit it.
  2346. >You just lay sprawled contentedly over Chad’s shoulder, head drooped down his back as he held you firmly.
  2347. >It was surprisingly comfortable, aside from the jostling you’d get when Chad stopped walking.
  2348. >Those moments were few and far between though, since Chad just kept on trucking through people.
  2349. >”So what are you thinking of getting Anonymous? You have a fairly decent budget now.”
  2350. >You looked up, Thot caught your gaze with her head tilted curiously.
  2351. >Tossing your socked fore hooves up in the air and shrugging, you answered nonchalantly.
  2352. “Dunno. Clothes I guess. Maybe there’s pony merch out there or something? It’d be nice to get something to help me type.”
  2353. >Then you frowned.
  2354. “Wait… Chad, you picked up my money clip right?”
  2355. >”Yeah.”
  2356. >Chad pulled the cash out of his pocket and gently smacked you on the snout with it before pocketing it again.
  2357. >”Pretty irresponsible of you to just leave that much cash lying around.”
  2358. >Your muzzle scrunched and you rolled your eyes.
  2359. “Well I would have been able to grab it myself if you hadn’t snatched me up like some sort of ponynapper.”
  2360. >Chad mussed your mane up, his brows furrowed with his mouth forming a hard line as he stared straight forward.
  2361. >”I know I’m no better with the pun shit, but quit that word replacing crap. Next thing you know you’ll be saying it all the time, stuff like… Fucking… everypony, I dunno.”
  2362. >You smirked and beat on Chad’s back some more with your hooves.
  2363.  
  2364. “Thanks for the suggestion, I’ll make good use of it.”
  2365. >Chad didn’t grace you with an answer to that one.
  2366. >Thot and Tammy both seemed pretty entertained though, Thot especially had a giggle fit about it.
  2367. >”I think it’s cute! Everypony, ponynapper… What else would there be… Ah, hoof bump!”
  2368. >Thot stuck out her fist and you bumped your hoof up against it, still smirking at Chad.
  2369. “See, not everypony’s a wet blanket like you Chad. Some ponies appreciate good wordplay.”
  2370. >”You were getting pissed about horse puns just ten minutes ago, what the hell happened.”
  2371. >You shook your head and tutted.
  2372. “I wasn’t the one telling those puns. That’s what happened. Plus your whining is the perfect fuel.”
  2373. >The four of you walked on through the mall, down a floor and into the west wing.
  2374. >It was a new section of the building, added a year ago or so.
  2375. >The design and architecture was a lot different, this part of the mall had all white plaster walls with white and grey marble pillars.
  2376. >Where there was glass, it was tinted black.
  2377. >Overall it was much more clear cut and straight-faced than the abstract of the center area you’d come from.
  2378. >Which was alright, all those bright and dazzling reflected lights had gotten annoying after a while.
  2379. >The crowd had changed a little too, the people here were older, and most of them were middle aged women on their way to the Sears.
  2380. >A lot of them snapped pictures of you slung over Chad’s shoulder, gasping and looking desperately like they wanted to walk over and pet you.
  2381. >They also took some pics of Tammy as he trotted along absentmindedly beside his sister, sparing a wave for them every now and then
  2382. >None of them actually walked up to either of you, thankfully.
  2383. “Huh.”
  2384. >Chad grunted and shifted you over a little.
  2385. >”Sup?”
  2386. >You pointed your hoof over at a pack of three moms all taking photos with their phones at rapid speed.
  2387. “I really can’t people watch anymore. The only thing I get to see anymore is people freaking out and pointing their cameras at me.”
  2388. >Chuckling, Chad patted and ran his hand along your back.
  2389. >Wow that felt good.
  2390. >…
  2391. >You hoped he’d do it again.
  2392. >”Shame. We’re here by the way.”
  2393. >Chad eased you off of his shoulder and set you down slow.
  2394. >Hey, your hooves kicked a little, just like before.
  2395.  
  2396. >Your mind went back to that time in the bathroom.
  2397. >That was a nice memory, Chad’s hands lathering shampoo into your mane…
  2398. >You smiled, at peace.
  2399. >Chad on the other hand was already entering the Think Kitchen store, eyeing up the merchandise as he disappeared among the shelves full of kitchen supplies.
  2400. >He had a heck of a grin on.
  2401. >Trotting in after him alongside Tammy and Thot, you did your fair share of looking too, although you weren’t really going to buy anything.
  2402. >It was a nice clean store, orderly shelves and gleaming steel and plastic kitchenware all in their places.
  2403. >Your socked hooves clopped along softly on the floor as you browsed through the aisles.
  2404. >The Think Kitchen was nice and warm, you felt cozy in your fur.
  2405. >All of a sudden, Thot spoke up, eyes trained on something to her right.
  2406. >”Oh, hey.”
  2407. >Thot split off, heading over to look at a set of cutlery.
  2408. >You kept right on, not really going in any particular direction, just sort of meandering along.
  2409. >You hardly even noticed that Tammy had stuck with you, trotting beside you and humming tunelessly.
  2410. >”Sooooo, you and Chad are going to the bar after this right?”
  2411. >Nodding, you stopped a moment to take a closer look at a pair of bobble head salt and pepper shakers.
  2412. “Yep. Have a few and celebrate the end of the school year.”
  2413. >Tammy smiled and poked the head of the salt shaker, it was in the shape of a little cartoon Jesus.
  2414. >”Sounds like fun.”
  2415. “Yeah, it’s always a good time. What are you and Thot doing?”
  2416. >You bopped the head of the pepper shaker, a cartoon Satan.
  2417. >Then the both of you kept on clip clopping away, further down the aisle.
  2418. >”Isabelle is putting on an all-girls party in the dorm lounge.”
  2419. >Now the two of you stopped, right at the very back of the store.
  2420. >It was a wall lined with pans of all shapes and sizes, stretching on to the left and right.
  2421.  
  2422. >You turned your head to Tammy and perked a brow, but Tammy just winked and smiled back.
  2423. >”What? You think they wouldn’t let me in or something? Just look at me.”
  2424. >Tammy hopped up on his hind legs and posed, fore hooves batting at the air adorably.
  2425. >You giggled and turned round, following the wall of pans down to the left side of the store.
  2426. “Try not to get smothered in cuddles.”
  2427. >”Alright. You better be careful not to get into a fight alright? I’m warning you.”
  2428. >You peered over your back in mild surprise, Tammy sounded pretty serious there.
  2429. >He was giving you a real stern look from under that curly green mane of his too.
  2430. >Then his face broke back down into a casual smile and he chuckled.
  2431. >”At least, that’s what Thotty would probably say. What a spoilsport huh?”
  2432. >Rolling your eyes and smiling you turned away from Tammy, looking straight ahead again.
  2433. “I can’t help but agree though, getting in a fight as a tiny pony is a pretty fucking terrible idea.”
  2434. >You gave your fore leg a test flex, little mare muscles pumping.
  2435. >Yeah, about as underwhelming as you’d thought.
  2436. >You couldn’t help but notice that you rear legs were something of a different story though, you could feel plenty of power there.
  2437. >Not like it mattered.
  2438. “I’m waaayyyy too small, perfect size for punting.”
  2439. >Tammy shrugged.
  2440. >”Eh, but being tiny makes you harder to hit, plus you can gallop pretty quick right?”
  2441. >Laughing, you shot Tammy an incredulous look.
  2442. “You HATE fighting. Why are you egging me on?”
  2443. >Now it was Tammy’s turn to roll his eyes.
  2444. >”I never mentioned actually fighting, what I meant was that you’re small and fast so you can just run away if someone wants to hurt you.”
  2445. “Or just wait for Chad to beat the shit out of them.”
  2446. >Tammy puffed out his cheeks and frowned.
  2447. >You just shrugged back, smirking.
  2448. >”Not good karma. Seriously though, you’re already pretty good at moving around. Remember that action… No, DIVE roll you did? Just keep doing that!”
  2449.  
  2450. >You stopped a moment, frowning at some sort of strange spatula, salad tosser hybrid.
  2451. “You’re way more agile than me though. I mean damn, it took you like ten minutes to learn how to moonwalk.”
  2452. >Tammy blushed a little, he always got flustered by compliments.
  2453. >”I, uhhh, I could teach you how to do it too. If you want me to?”
  2454. >Moonwalking master, dodging expert, badass pony extraordinaire?
  2455. >You grinned.
  2456. “Hell yeah.”
  2457. >Tammy grinned back, blush fading.
  2458. >”Alright! Here, start like this.”
  2459. >He turned around so that his rear faced down the aisle, straight on, all four hooves planted firmly.
  2460. >You copied Tammy, nodding.
  2461. >”Now, when you move your hooves, you wanna keep them either sliding flat on the floor or straight up and down right on the tip of your hoof.”
  2462. >Tammy demonstrated, sliding his right fore hoof back and up on the front end straight up and down.
  2463. >Again you matched him, feeling the beginnings of the spirit of swagger boogying its way into your very core.
  2464. >”Your opposing rear hoof should move in tandem, sliding along the same distance and at the same time as the fore one.”
  2465. >Now Tammy slid his left rear hoof back and up on the tip, matching the position of his right fore hoof.
  2466. >You stumbled, but you got in position.
  2467. “Gotcha.”
  2468. >Tammy smiled, checking your hooves to make sure you’d really gotten it right.
  2469. >”Looking good ‘Nonny! Alright, this is the last part and it’s how you really get yourself gliding along backwards. Basically you want to switch the positions of your hooves with the hoof on the other side. So…”
  2470. >He snapped his right fore hoof down quickly and slid it back, bringing his left fore hoof up on the tip at the exact same time.
  2471. >Tammy mirrored the effect with his rear hooves too.
  2472. >”Like that. Try doing your fore hooves first before you get the rear ones involved though.”
  2473. >You could feel the nod of approval of the patron saint of “Getting Down” reverberating in your soul as you obliged.
  2474. >Nailed it.
  2475.  
  2476. >”Hey! Nice one, that’s a real good start!”
  2477. >Tammy gave you a quick nuzzle, then reset your hooves.
  2478. >A smile crept up your face.
  2479. >This was nice, a good private moment between friends, no cameras and crap.
  2480. >”Alright. You obviously got the fore hooves down, now try getting your rear ones in it.”
  2481. >Nodding seriously, you took a breath and then went for it.
  2482. >Right fore hoof, right rear hoof, left, right, slide-
  2483. >You tripped up and fell on your butt, tail whipping out and knocking a couple pots off of the shelf next to you.
  2484. “Ow.”
  2485. >Tammy still smiled though, as she set the pots back up.
  2486. >”Don’t even worry about it. Just try again.”
  2487. >It took you a few more rump bumps before you started to catch on, getting closer and closer each time.
  2488. >And now you stood ready, tall and proud.
  2489. >This was the one.
  2490. >MJ himself was looking down upon you from somewhere, you knew.
  2491. >Probably grabbing his crotch and shouting an “AOOWWW” of encouragement.
  2492. >Moonwalk.
  2493. >Is.
  2494. >GO.
  2495. >Right, left, SLIDE.
  2496. >With perfect execution, you glided back along the ground, hooves moving deft and clean.
  2497. >”Yes! Perfect!”
  2498. >Tammy laughed and smiled, clopping his fore hooves on the floor to show his approval.
  2499. “Fuck. Yes.”
  2500. >Grinning and giggling, you did it again, moonwalking back to Tammy.
  2501. >You were now a moonwalking pony.
  2502. >Ecstatic, you nuzzled up against Tammy and hugged him tight.
  2503. “Thanks a ton ‘Tam, this is awesome.”
  2504.  
  2505. >Tammy chuckled and hugged you back.
  2506. >”No problem ‘Nonny.”
  2507. >The hug broke and the both of you started moving back towards the front of the store.
  2508. >You took it in turns with Tammy to moonwalk your way down the aisles, booping noses and just horsing around in general.
  2509. >Fun times.
  2510. >Then you overheard talking
  2511. >”That’ll be...”
  2512. >Your ears perked up and turned to the source of the voices, right at the front of the store.
  2513. >”…25 sir. Have a nice day.”
  2514. >”Alright. Thanks.”
  2515. >Huh, that was Chad.
  2516. “Sounds like Chad’s done shopping.”
  2517. >Tammy nodded and picked up the pace, trotting ahead of you.
  2518. >You smiled and flicked your ears a little, cheery as you caught up with Tammy.
  2519. >These things were damn useful.
  2520. >The two of you came out of the aisle right by the cash register, where Chad was putting his newly bought products away in a plastic shopping bag.
  2521. >You spotted an Arkansas whetstone, a bone handle knife and a knife block before Chad heard the hooves clopping.
  2522. >He turned to you and Tammy, lugging his shopping bag with him.
  2523. “All done?”
  2524. >”Yeah. Hey Thot!”
  2525. >Chad hollered over to the right corner of the store.
  2526. >It took a second or two then…
  2527. >Thot came walking down an aisle, smiling.
  2528. >”Yeah, yeah. I’m all done.”
  2529. >The four of you left the store together, gravitating over to a pair of benches that stood back to back in the hallway.
  2530.  
  2531. >As happy as Chad was, he still managed to put on a scary face to spook away the couple of people that tried to come close.
  2532. >You hopped up on the bench and sat down, Chad took a seat just next to you, to your right.
  2533. >Tammy settled for a spot on the floor and Thot sat to your left.
  2534. >Chad pulled out his phone and you read the time over his shoulder, four fourty five.
  2535. >Man, the day was really dragging on.
  2536. >You yawned, ears flopping back and eyelids fluttering
  2537. >Probably because you still hadn’t slept.
  2538. >…In three days, going on four now.
  2539. >Chad started to scratch behind your ears and you accepted mutely, eyes shut.
  2540. >A smiled crawled up on your muzzle and you let your head lie on his shoulder, humming.
  2541. >”You wanna head back to the dorm and get some sleep Anon? We can do this tomorrow instead.”
  2542. >Slowly, you opened a single eye and stared, still trying your best to just mellow out.
  2543. >Chad was smirking at you, one brow perked.
  2544. >Thot was frowning down at you like she was about to give you a lecture on the negative effects of sleep deprivation and Tammy had just dug one his shoes out of his backpack and he was busy kicking it around.
  2545. >And now you slowly let your eyelid droop back down.
  2546. “Mmmmm… I just need more caffeine… Right. Over…. There.”
  2547. >You lifted up a fore hoof and pointed over blindly to the west.
  2548. >Chad chuckled and you could hear Thot huffing.
  2549. >”Fucking unreal man, every time.”
  2550. >You opened your eyes, smiling.
  2551. >Sure enough, your hoof was pointing right at a Monster Energy vending machine over in the corner.
  2552. >Uncanny.
  2553. “That’s like… The fifth time?”
  2554. >”You’ve never even gotten it wrong once.”
  2555. >Thot was less impressed.
  2556. >”That much caffeine is terrible for your health, you know that right? You should be taking better care of yourself, especially now. Who knows just what you really need now as a pony!”
  2557.  
  2558. >You shrugged, lazily, as Chad got up and strode over to the vending machine.
  2559. >Mumbling, you stuck your head down into Tammy’s backpack for your wallet, but then you remembered that Chad had your money clip anyway.
  2560. “I’ll start tomorrow. Today I’m having fun…”
  2561. >You flopped down on your side, laying your head in Thot’s lap.
  2562. >…No…
  2563. >Can’t sleep now…
  2564. >Moaning, you tried to push yourself back up, but your efforts were nullified almost immediately.
  2565. “noooooo…”
  2566. >Thot was petting you, running her hand through your mane.
  2567. “mmmmmmmm…”
  2568. >You heard her and Tammy both giggle.
  2569. >”Sleepyhead.”
  2570. >The world was sound and smell and soft hands.
  2571. >There was the smell of Thot’s shampoo, some natural herbal amalgam like shea butter.
  2572. >Then the sound of Tammy hopping up on the bench, hooves clopping against the wood.
  2573. >Thot’s hands started working gently at your braid, undoing the knots.
  2574. >It was good to have your…
  2575. >Man that was a big yawn.
  2576. >Your mane free again, you never knew you missed having it like that.
  2577. >All of a sudden your ears shot up at the clunk of a can of Monster against steel.
  2578. >Then they turned to catch the distinct fsst as the can was opened.
  2579. >You heard each individual step as Chad walked up, ears twitching.
  2580. >”Are you seriously going to give that to her?”
  2581. >”Eh, Anon wants it. Plus it’s her cash I just put in there.”
  2582. >Sleep dragging you down and conspiring to keep you in place, you drearily lifted your forehoof up and waggled it.
  2583. “Gib me.”
  2584.  
  2585. >”You’re gonna need to lift your head up.”
  2586. >”Oh come on Chad. Just look at her, she can hardly even lift a hoof. Anon, just sleep. Chad can carry you to the bus if he has to.”
  2587. >Your waggling fore hoof dropped.
  2588. “mmmgGGnmph…”
  2589. >Slipping in and out of sleep, you lifted your head up, inch by inch.
  2590. >With herculean strength, you managed to open your eyes again.
  2591. >The mall’s lights smote you, but with a few sluggish blinks you could see clearly.
  2592. >Chad still had that smirk on, holding out that divine can of Monster.
  2593. >It practically glowed with a dark energy, perspiration dripping down the black cylinder like sweat down a big black…
  2594. >...Yeah you were aborting that thought.
  2595. >”Seriously. Anonymous.”
  2596. >”Aw, just let her try at least. If Anonymous can’t reach the Monster, THEN I’ll take her back. Deal?”
  2597. >Thot looked like she was going to say something else, but you spoke first.
  2598. “I neber agreed to dis.”
  2599. >Eyes narrowing, Thot adjusted her glasses and nodded, giving you a disapproving glare all the while.
  2600. >”Deal.”
  2601. >Fuck.
  2602. >Alright neck, let’s get to it…
  2603. >Eyes on the prize.
  2604. >You weren’t too far from the can, you’d just have to get high enough that you’d be able to drink freely.
  2605. >With alacrity like a glacier, you hefted your head up and craned your neck out to Chad.
  2606. >Nearly there.
  2607. >Sleep was tugging at you like waves against a cliff face, eroding away your capacity to stay conscious every second you resisted.
  2608. >Your eyes fluttered between open and closed, then they stayed shut and you progressed blindly.
  2609. >Closer… closer…
  2610. >All of a sudden your nose hit something cold.
  2611. >You opened your eyes, staring down three green slashes.
  2612.  
  2613. “My piiilllgggrumage is coommmpleeetee…”
  2614. >You could hear Thot sighing, irritated, Chad just shook his head and laughed.
  2615. >”Voici ton eau de Lourdes mon ami.”
  2616. >Chad grabbed the underside of your snout and tilted your head back a little.
  2617. >Gently, he pushed your mouth open and brought the can to your lips.
  2618. >You gulped that shit down like it was on fire sale.
  2619. >Felt like you just walked through a parking lot ripping spark plugs out of cars.
  2620. >You tapped Chad’s hand to signal for air.
  2621. >He pulled the can back and let go of your snout.
  2622. >Without Chad’s support, you flopped back down in Thot’s lap.
  2623. >No sleeping now though.
  2624. “Ahhhh… Merci. Caulisse de tabarnak, ej croyais que’j mourais.”
  2625. >Chad laughed and sat down next to you, Tammy scooting over for him.
  2626. >You realized that he’d been trying to use Chad’s cellphone this whole time.
  2627. >Looked like he’d actually managed to scroll through twitter a little.
  2628. >Licking and smacking your lips, you sat up.
  2629. >”You’re going to give yourself a heart attack one day.”
  2630. >You spared a shrug for Thot, still a little drowsy, but waking up more and more as the caffeine worked its way around.
  2631. “I don’t really have anything to say in my defense. Could I get some more of that please?”
  2632. >Chad held the can for you, titling it back again so that you could drink.
  2633. >You chugged even more this time, downing three quarters of the stuff.
  2634. >Again, that liquid electricity worked fucking wonders.
  2635. >You were nearly shooting fucking lightning bolts out of your hooves like Doctor DOOM, half expected a sick beat from MF GRIMM to kick in.
  2636. >You could really go for some of that actually, have to put on Operation: Doomsday when you got back to your room tonight.
  2637. “Ahhh… Thanks again Chad. You can have the rest.”
  2638. >”As much as I’ve smoked today I don’t think I have enough nicotine in me to counteract the aspartame and whatever other crap the Masons might have put into this batch of Monster.”
  2639.  
  2640. >Even Tammy was shaking his head, although it looked like it was because he just lost in Candy Crush more than anything.
  2641. >Thot reached over your back and punched Chad in the shoulder playfully.
  2642. >”And you’d gone so long without blurting out too.”
  2643. >You giggled and shifted over, right up against Chad.
  2644. “I just can’t believe you were serious about nicotine helping against aspartame.”
  2645. >Chad frowned at the both of you, then turned his frown to the can of Monster, eyeing it up and down critically.
  2646. >”Two hundred and ten percent of your daily riboflavin, one hundred and seventy percent of your daily niacin, two hundred and twenty percent of your daily vitamin B6 and five hundred and ninety percent of your daily vitamin B12.”
  2647. >Setting his hand on your shoulder, Chad pulled you in closer, smiling genially and pointing at you.
  2648. >You met his gaze with your eyes narrowed.
  2649. >”And that’s just what they show you on the can.”
  2650. >Thot chimed in, with that usual stern mother tone.
  2651. >”Conspiracy nonsense aside, Chad is right. That stuff is terrible for your health.”
  2652. >You and Chad both shrugged.
  2653. “Fuck it.”
  2654. >”Now that’s an attitude I can get behind.”
  2655. >Sparing one last look at the ingredients list, Chad finished off the Monster.
  2656. >You grinned.
  2657. “Nice.”
  2658. >Tammy chuckled and patted Chad on the back.
  2659. >”Now that’s the spirit.”
  2660. >Scoffing, Thot got up out of her seat.
  2661. >”Come on. I know which store we should head to next.”
  2662. >Chad crushed his can and tossed it in the garbage can, at the end of the bench.
  2663. >You got a good stretch in before hopping off the bench.
  2664. >Hm, socks had slipped down a little.
  2665. >Everyone got their things together while you tugged your socks back up, rear ones just underneath your butt mark and front ones right under the chest.
  2666. >You shook yourself a bit, mane and tail whipping around.
  2667. “So where are we headed Thot?”
  2668. >Thot just strode off, back towards the central part of the mall.
  2669. >”You’ll see when we get there.”
  2670. >Welp.
  2671. >Off you went, Chad and Tammy right behind you.
  2672.  
  2673. >Trotting along, you could already feel some of the initial zip from that Monster leeching off.
  2674. >Caffeine could keep you up, but it couldn’t really keep you aware and awake forever.
  2675. >Whatever, you’d last as long as you could.
  2676. >Thot wasn’t wrong after all, you really could do with some sleep.
  2677. >Plenty of sleep.
  2678. >You stared around, watching the white plaster change to brushed steel, watching the tiles make way for polished stone and watching the tinted glass slip back to the abstract art.
  2679. >A few hallways down, some lefts and rights and the four of you came to the very center of the mall.
  2680. >It was a huge round plaza of a room, reaching up through all three floors of the mall.
  2681. >Up high, past the three circular balconies, there was a gleaming glass ceiling.
  2682. >A chandelier hung down from it, similar to the one in the food court but larger and tinted every color of the rainbow.
  2683. >The floor here was a huge mosaic of an emblematic black dragon, biting its own tail.
  2684. >Stone benches were positioned in a circle around it, along with a roundel of stores and four sets of escalators up to the second floor in each cardinal direction.
  2685. >There were plenty of people milling about and sitting down around here, taking a break from their shopping.
  2686. >Not a pile of people you wanted to try wading through.
  2687. >Thot seemed to agree, leading you, Tammy and Chad around the crowd rather than through it, over to the northern escalator.
  2688. >You got about halfway there when…
  2689. >”KEYBOARD CRASHER IS THAT YOU? IT’S ME! CARL!”
  2690. “Oh fuck me.”
  2691. >Chad’s head was on a swivel, turning this way and that trying to spot Carl before he got close.
  2692. >Thot and Tammy both stopped and stared back at you, confused.
  2693. >”Anon what-“
  2694. “Just some creep. Keep. Moving.”
  2695. >Not even sparing a glance around, you broke into a canter with Chad hot on your hooves.
  2696. >”No! Wait! I have your h-hat!”
  2697. >You stopped and turned towards the voice.
  2698.  
  2699. >And there was Carl, working his way through the crowd, apologizing profusely to the disgusted people he bumped into.
  2700. >Chad got in front of you, but you moved around him, patting his leg.
  2701. “Chill out man.”
  2702. >Then you turned around and pointed Tammy and Thot over to the nearest bench.
  2703. >Thot and Tammy both took the cue, hanging back, but Chad didn’t look completely convinced.
  2704. >He crossed his arms over his chest and stood stock still.
  2705. >Even when Carl finally broke through the crowd proper and walked over to you, waving and smiling nervously.
  2706. >”H-hey!”
  2707. “H’lo.”
  2708. >Carl looked about as ugly as you remembered, obese, sweaty and ginger.
  2709. >For once you didn’t feel like focusing on the details.
  2710. >You kept your voice and expression neutral.
  2711. “So you found my hat?”
  2712. >Nodding excitedly, Carl rubbed his slightly moist hands together, putting on an awkward rictus of a grin.
  2713. >”Yeah! I-I mean… Yeah. Yeah I got it right here.”
  2714. >Carl wiped his sweaty hands on his pant legs, reached into his fanny pack and rummaged around in it for a second before tugging a tuque out.
  2715. >Brown, wool and with a pair of holes in it.
  2716. >Sure looked like yours.
  2717. >Smiling, Carl started to move closer like he was going to hand it to you.
  2718. >Chad’s stare told him otherwise.
  2719. >Trying to laugh it off, and failing spectacularly, Carl instead set your tuque down on the floor for you to retrieve then backed up to give you some space.
  2720. >You trotted up to it and pushed it around with your fore hoof.
  2721. >Yep, that’s the one.
  2722. >Hell, it didn’t even have any stains or sweat on it at all.
  2723. >You sniffed, smelled just fine.
  2724.  
  2725. >Well… Carl doesn’t seem like such a piece of shit anymore.
  2726. >Maybe you and Chad were a little too hard on him.
  2727. >You snatched up the hat in your mouth and tossed it to Chad, who tucked it into his pocket.
  2728. “Hey, thanks man. Where did you find it anyway?”
  2729. >You smiled up at Carl and stepped a little closer to him before sitting down, ignoring the fact that Chad stepped right up with you.
  2730. >Carl switched from surprised to supremely happy and finally right back into that giddy nervousness.
  2731. >”I uhh.. Hehe… Aww shoot. Sorry I know I’m so awkward… M-my friend well…”
  2732. >Clearing his throat, Carl didn’t meet your gaze when he continued.
  2733. >”He sorta… Stole it. Your hat I mean, when you walked through the Atrium. W-when I figured out what he’d done well I-“
  2734. >Chad butted in.
  2735. >”Where’s this friend of yours?”
  2736. >Carl put up his hands defensively, backing up a step or two and bumbling out a mess of words.
  2737. >You tossed Chad a stern look over your shoulder.
  2738. “Chad. Chill out.”
  2739. >And now you spoke to Carl, managing a smile.
  2740. “Could I see him please? I’m sure he’d like to apologize.”
  2741. >Nodding furiously, Carl turned around and hollered.
  2742. >”Brandon! Brandon get over here!”
  2743. >You peered behind Carl curiously, watching for his friend.
  2744. >”Coming!”
  2745. >You assumed that scrawny, bespectacled but surprisingly smooth skinned guy walking out of the crowd was Brandon.
  2746. >His eyes lit up with recognition when he saw you, then you could see the guilt washing over his face.
  2747. >Brandon walked up slowly, trying his best to avoid meeting yours or Chad’s gaze.
  2748. >You kept on smiling.
  2749. >These guys did some stupid shit was all.
  2750. >It was just a hat, no big deal.
  2751.  
  2752. >But you knew Chad didn’t see it that way, and that he most certainly wasn’t putting on a friendly face for them.
  2753. >Which is why YOU had to.
  2754. “Hello Brandon.”
  2755. >”H-hey… I uhhh… This is about your hat? Right? Cause I’m really ummm I’m really sorry about all that.”
  2756. >Brandon was still looking away from you, wringing his hands.
  2757. >You perked a brow and tilted your head to the side, adding in an ear twitch just because you could.
  2758. >Cute factor up to twelve.
  2759. “Mind looking me in the eyes when you apologize? It’d feel a lot more sincere.”
  2760. >Chad chuckled darkly, Carl laughed nervously and Brandon gulped like you just sentenced him to death.
  2761. >Brandon turned his head and looked you straight in the eyes, obviously uncomfortable.
  2762. >”I-I’m r-r-r-really sorry. I shouldn’t h-have stolen your t-tuque… And I’m sorry I petted you super hard like that. I’ll pay whatever I have to.”
  2763. >You just shrugged and smiled again.
  2764. “Apology accepted. It’s a hat, no big deal. I’m just happy to have it back. YOU though.”
  2765. >You smirked and pointed at Carl.
  2766. “You owe me.”
  2767. >Everyone stared at you like you’d just announced you were a cleverly disguised badger.
  2768. >Chad spoke up first.
  2769. >”What.”
  2770. >Followed by Brandon.
  2771. >”What?”
  2772. >And finally, Carl.
  2773. >”Huh?”
  2774. >You laughed like it was obvious.
  2775. “A scratch behind the ears, right now.”
  2776. >…
  2777. >”Like… Y-you want me to scr-“
  2778. “Yep. Right here.”
  2779.  
  2780. >You pointed at the sweet spot just behind your ear with a fore hoof.
  2781. >Chad’s brows looked like they could double as a vice grip, but he didn’t say anything.
  2782. >Carl’s mouth was gaping, as was Brandon’s.
  2783. >After a minute or two, Carl seemed to break out of his stupor.
  2784. >”A-alright. Are you sure?”
  2785. >You winked and nodded.
  2786. “Yep.”
  2787. >Carl inched towards you, an eighth of a step at a time.
  2788. >Again he wiped his hands on the legs of his cargo pants, before reaching down towards your waiting head.
  2789. >Your muzzle scrunched up at the smell.
  2790. >Pretty damn bad.
  2791. >But you persisted.
  2792. >Finally, Carl’s fingers touched behind your ear, as light a touch as Carl could manage.
  2793. >Carl’s face light up like a second sun when he felt your fur though.
  2794. >That was the expression you were looking for, that one right there.
  2795. >Making someone happy, even someone who did you wrong.
  2796. >Carl got a lot more confident, giving you a firm scratch behind the ears.
  2797. >Not too bad, even got you humming a little, eyes drooping ever so slightly.
  2798. >You might even have leaned into his hand were it not for the smell.
  2799. >Carl stopped scratching all on his own after about a minute, still sporting that ear to ear genuine grin.
  2800. >Looked good on him.
  2801. >You giggled and stood up.
  2802. “Well. See you. Thanks again for bringing my tuque back, and for being honest.”
  2803. >Nodding to both Carl and Brandon, you turned tail and trotted on back towards the northern escalator.
  2804. >You didn’t get any sort of answer back, but you weren’t really expecting one.
  2805. >Tammy and Thot took notice immediately, getting up from their bench and walking along behind you, catching up.
  2806. >Shaking his head, Chad mussed up your mane.
  2807. >”You’re way too polite.”
  2808. >You shrugged.
  2809. “They really didn’t even do enough to deserve constant hatred. They’re just a pair of socially retarded dudes with too much time on their hands, they just needed someone to not be harsh to them. Then they can learn and show a better side of themselves.”
  2810.  
  2811. >Chad smiled, but he still shook his head.
  2812. >”You sound like a family sitcom dubbed over by a particularly vulgar little girl. But you’ve got a point.”
  2813. “I’m like an unbending spear of truth, I’ve always got a point.”
  2814. >Tammy was cheery when she caught up, looking at you curiously.
  2815. >”Not sure what that was about exactly, ‘Nonny. Something about your hat right? The one that got stolen?”
  2816. >Coming right behind her brother, Thot had about the same expression.
  2817. >”I don’t really know what just happened, but those two seemed awful happy after you left. So I’m assuming everything went well? Despite him being a ‘creep’? ”
  2818. >You nodded, slowing your pace so that she could take the lead.
  2819. “Yeah, he wasn’t so bad after all. Just… I dunno what you’d call it. He just fucked up was all, but he made up for it. His friend apologized for stealing my tuque and that was it really. I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it.”
  2820. >Tammy and Thot both nodded, it seemed like they understood.
  2821. >”Good to hear ‘Nonny.”
  2822. >”I’m just glad that there was no real trouble, when you said creep… And well, to be honest, when you told me not to worry? I worried.”
  2823. >Chad laughed and smacked Thot on the back.
  2824. >”You? Worried? No way.”
  2825. >Thot rolled her eyes and walked ahead of Chad, right up to the escalator.
  2826. >Tammy chuckled and moved along with his sister, leaving you and Chad walking alongside each other.
  2827. >”Can you blame Thotty though? Whenever you guys say that something isn’t worth worrying about, it darn well is. Like, every time.”
  2828. >You scrunched your muzzle, and Chad had a ponderous look on his face, brows furrowed.
  2829. “This proves nothing.”
  2830. >”Mere coincidence.”
  2831. >Thot had a smirk going now, as she stepped onto the escalator.
  2832. >”Huh. You might be on to something there Tammy. Remember when Chad got lost in the woods Anon? And you said: ”
  2833.  
  2834. >Tammy stepped on the escalator with a grin, finishing for his twin sister.
  2835. >” ‘Nothing out in that part of the country that could ever kill him and I ain’t worried, so there’s nothing to worry about.’ “
  2836. “Well he made it out alive didn’t-“
  2837. >Chad sighed and cut you off, stepping onto the escalator.
  2838. >”And then the storm hit. Alright, fine. You’re right.”
  2839. >He had a defeated smile when he looked back at you, one brow perked.
  2840. >”Also, you ACTUALLY said that? Nice.”
  2841. “Y-you’re still shit at orienting yourself…”
  2842. >Blushing, you followed Chad, standing sideways on a single step of the escalator so that you weren’t flashing the people below you.
  2843. >Tammy, being as nonchalant as ever, did no such thing.
  2844. >…You did your best not to stare.
  2845. >Chad of course didn’t notice it, towering above the both of you.
  2846. >The rest of the escalator trip passed pretty much in silence, just three minutes of you staring around and zoning out.
  2847. >From up here, you could see the dragon mosaic much more clearly.
  2848. >Huh, now there was something you’d forgotten.
  2849. >There was a spear going through the dragon’s chest, the point coming straight out of it’s back.
  2850. >It wasn’t really all that noticeable on the ground since the spear was only a slightly darker shade than the rest of the floor.
  2851. >But from on high it was readily apparent, like a trick of the light, a shadow that would line up just right at a certain time of the day.
  2852. >From what you’d read, the dragon was supposed to be the old family emblem of the artist who made the mosaic.
  2853. >There was no spear in the actual emblem though, a fact that a lot of people had already pointed out and theorized on.
  2854. >It was generally agreed upon that it was meant to be a statement against the trappings of the bourgeoisie, doubly ironic since the artist had been rich and the mosaic was in a fucking mall of all places.
  2855. >You saw something else there though.
  2856. >The dragon wasn’t in pain.
  2857. >Insignificant maybe, but if the artist hated his own family enough to put together a piece that was basically a big public middle finger to them, you’d think he’d put at least a terrifying face on the dragon.
  2858. >Instead, it was smiling, eyes closed as though the spear piercing it had no effect at all.
  2859.  
  2860. >There had thus far been no comment on the smile from any sort of expert that you knew.
  2861. >You’d even brought it up with the Dean of Arts at a conference and he admitted that he’d never really considered the symbolism of it.
  2862. >Frowning, your eyes flicked over to that odd smile, taking it all in.
  2863. >You had no real working theory yet, but…
  2864. >Well perhaps it was a subversion of the viewers expectations on having it BE a condemnation of the bourgeoisie when in fact it-
  2865. >All of a sudden you felt weightless, hooves flying out from underneath you.
  2866. “AH!”
  2867. >You very nearly hit the ground, but Chad moved quickly, reaching down and wrapping his arms around your barrel.
  2868. “Ho-ly shit.”
  2869. >Chad hefted you up and carried you away from the escalator, you’d reached the top without even noticing.
  2870. >”You alright man?”
  2871. >Setting you down, a smile was growing on Chad’s face.
  2872. >”You were zoning out again. Weren’t you?”
  2873. >You breathed deep, in and out, pounding heart slowing.
  2874. “Yeah… I’m fine, just got caught off guard.”
  2875. >Tammy and Thot were chatting a little ways away, waiting on you and Chad.
  2876. >”Whatcha guys doing over there? Hurry up!”
  2877. “Just a second!”
  2878. >Invariably, your head turned back towards the dragon mosaic, and you walked over to the balcony overlooking it.
  2879. >Chad followed along behind you, curious.
  2880. >You frowned once you reached the retaining wall though.
  2881. >As pretty as the esoteric glass was, you couldn’t see a damn thing through it.
  2882. >You tried standing on your hind legs, hooves clacking against the glass, but you couldn’t quite get your head over.
  2883. >Cue muzzle scrunchle.
  2884. “Could you pick me up real quick Chad? I need to look over this thing.”
  2885.  
  2886. >”Alright.”
  2887. >Chad’s hands wrapped around your barrel, holding tight, and he lifted you up into the crook of his arm.
  2888. >Kicky hooves, you had to be careful though, didn’t want to strike the glass.
  2889. >Chad carried you over to the wall and you stuck your head out over it.
  2890. “Awesome, thanks.”
  2891. >You had an even better view of the mosaic from here, straight on.
  2892. >”What are you looking at anyway?”
  2893. >Chad peered down at the heart of the mall with you, trying to pick out just what had drawn your curiosity out so much.
  2894. >Pointing down at the dragon with an outstretched hoof, you explained.
  2895. “I’m trying to figure out just what that dragon mosaic is supposed to represent.”
  2896. >”The artist’s entire family was in the Masons, if that helps any.”
  2897. >You frowned and stare back at Chad, he just smiled casually.
  2898. “Huh.”
  2899. >You were a little rusty on your masonic symbolism, but maybe…
  2900. >Well shit, you had the conspiracy theorist extraordinaire right here.
  2901. “Do you see any masonic symbols in it?”
  2902. >Chad turned away from you, to look down at the mosaic, taking in all the details.
  2903. >He frowned, rubbing his chin and thinking.
  2904. >”Huh. Not really.”
  2905. >You rolled your eyes, it was worth a try you supposed.
  2906. >”All I’m seeing are symbols of the Illuminati.”
  2907. >…And now you sighed and got yourself comfortable, propping your head up with your fore hooves.
  2908. >”For starters, the dragon, it’s always been symbolic of the elite that will publicly announce themselves as the true leaders of the world.”
  2909. “Or you know, it’s just the family emblem of the ar-“
  2910. >”Then there’s the sun, symbolizing Lucifer, knowledge.”
  2911. >What?
  2912. >Where was the sun?
  2913.  
  2914. >Your eyes scanned the mosaic, every bit of it.
  2915. “I’m not seeing it Chad.”
  2916. >Chad pointed down with his finger, straight at the very center of the floor below.
  2917. >Right there, perfectly centered in the circle that the tail biting dragon was forming, there was a black spot, flitting in and out of view as people walked over it.
  2918. >”See it now? The black spot forms the focal point-“
  2919. “And the dragon is the circle. Wow, I never even noticed.”
  2920. >Nodding, Chad continued.
  2921. >”Basically, it’s a declaration that the hidden elite will one day rule the world. Their unveiled knowledge will distract all mortals and we will bow before the Black Sun of the Illuminati.”
  2922. >…
  2923. >You frowned and stared at Chad.
  2924. >He shrugged back.
  2925. “Alright. Prophecies and hidden messages aside, you may have a point. I think that, more precisely, it’s an allusion to Christianity.”
  2926. >Now it was Chad’s turn to frown.
  2927. >”What do you mean exactly?”
  2928. >You pointed at the mosaic, doing a little circle with your hoof.
  2929. “The dragon forms the Sun, Lucifer. That’s because the dragon itself IS Lucifer.”
  2930. >Now you pointed at the spear.
  2931. “And the spear, that is the Lance of Longinus.”
  2932. >Chad coughed and muttered.
  2933. >”Spear of Destiny…”
  2934. >You rolled your eyes and pressed on.
  2935. “Anyway, in this context it likely-“
  2936. >”HOW LONG ARE YOU GUYS GOING TO BE STARING AT THE FLOOR?”
  2937. >Turning your head, you were about to holler back, but Chad beat you to it.
  2938. >”AS LONG AS IT TAKES FOR IT TO STARE BACK, TAMMY.”
  2939. >You giggled and kept on talking.
  2940.  
  2941. “Here, the Lance of Longinus is victory. Lucifer becomes the perfect Antichrist, to the point that he too is wounded by Longinus’ spear and becomes the savior in the eyes of man. So, he’s smiling despite his wound. Because he has finally deceived all of mankind.”
  2942. >Chad perked a brow.
  2943. >”So… Pretty much the same as what I said.”
  2944. >You smirked and smacked his shoulder with a hoof.
  2945. “Yeah. Except with actual myth and allegory rather than conspiracy theories.”
  2946. >”Whatever.”
  2947. >The two of you stayed there for a few minutes, Chad leaned up against the retaining wall.
  2948. >You were smiling, it was hard not to.
  2949. >Finally you’d made a break through with this damn mosaic.
  2950. >Your tail swished a little, and you squirmed in Chad’s arm, getting more comfortable.
  2951. >A passing thought wandered through your mind, kicking rocks down memory lanes.
  2952. >This was what you and Chad usually did.
  2953. >Standing up high somewhere, just watching and talking about the little insignificant details of the world, with Chad beside you doing the same.
  2954. >You looked down at your hooves, dangling in air.
  2955. >You weren’t quite standing anymore, not at the same height.
  2956. >How would this have looked if I hadn’t taken those pills?
  2957. >As hard as you tried, you couldn’t quite get the mental image up, of you standing as a human next to Chad like before.
  2958. >All you came up with was where you were now, in Chad’s arm.
  2959. >Maybe that would’ve scared you, once.
  2960. >Now it just sort of made sense.
  2961. >You didn’t feel any sort of reservations about it all.
  2962. >It felt comfortable and normal, just two friends chatting casually.
  2963. >You giggled and motioned for Chad to let you down.
  2964. >Man, how many times were you going to ruminate over all this becoming a pony thing anyway?
  2965. >There were only so many times you could do it before you found yourself just repeating the same stuff over and over again.
  2966.  
  2967. >Chad set you down and walked with you, back to Tammy and Thot.
  2968. >The four of your moved on, deeper into the mall.
  2969. >Thot took the lead as usual, and you trotted along behind Tammy and Chad as they playfully badmouthed each other.
  2970. >While Tammy traded darns and hecks for Chad’s fucks and shits, you moved ahead, clopping up alongside Thot.
  2971. “So where are we going anyway?”
  2972. >Thot blushed for some reason, but then she shook her head, flustered expression disappearing.
  2973. >”You’ll see, there’ll be plenty of options for you to pick from.”
  2974. >You tilted your head and stared up at Thot, curious and with a hint of suspicion rising up in your voice.
  2975. “What do you mean “options”? Options for what?”
  2976. >Thot picked up her pace, striding ahead and shaking her hair from her eyes.
  2977. >”Never mind.”
  2978. >Sighing, you decided it was best to just go with the flow and trot behind her.
  2979. >Crowds were starting to thicken up now as the four of you passed by the more popular stores, so you kept close to Chad.
  2980. >People stared and took photos, as usual.
  2981. >They seemed much more enamoured with you than Tammy, but he stuck close to Chad too, mostly because of Thot’s insistence.
  2982. >For that whole stretch, Chad managed to threaten about three people and one tiny dog in a purse.
  2983. >Tammy managed to pose for selfies with six people, and photobomb one, despite Thot’s insistence he don’t.
  2984. >…You only posed for three.
  2985. >E-fame was a bit of a guilty pleasure at this point, you definitely felt pretty cool about being known all throughout the internet.
  2986. >But you were also worried that it might become hard to live privately.
  2987. >It’d be nice to walk through your campus without getting a ton of people coming up to you for pictures and…
  2988. >Well, you wouldn’t mind petting and ear scratching TOO much.
  2989. >Yeah a little bit of that every day couldn’t hurt.
  2990. >A smile crept up your muzzle at the thought, and you pranced cheerily.
  2991.  
  2992. >The crowd broke and you came to the end of the hall.
  2993. >You, Tammy, Chad and Thot were walking across a main lobby sort of area, round like the heart of the mall but bordered by three larger stores and an exit to the street outside.
  2994. >A Pet Smart, a Wal-Mart and a Sport Chek.
  2995. >Just in the corner, you could see a hairdresser tucked away.
  2996. >You frowned though.
  2997. >Just where was Thot taking the four of you?
  2998. >Certainly not the…
  2999. “Hey! Are you trying to fuck with me?”
  3000. >Thot was blushing again now, striding ahead of you and towards the Pet Smart.
  3001. >Chad was laughing his ass off, Tammy hadn’t seemed to realize just what was going on yet.
  3002. >All of a sudden, Thot rounded on you, trying to put on a stern tone and face.
  3003. >She was failing spectacularly.
  3004. >”Well! I f-figured this store of all places might just have something you could use! I mean, they supply farms too… My dad has bought plenty of horse rugs and what not from them before for the ranch! Not to mention the dog sweaters that might fit you.”
  3005. >Your muzzle scrunched up and you stopped dead in your tracks.
  3006. “I have a hoodie already! Chad! Toss me my hoodie!”
  3007. >Still chuckling, Chad pulled it out of Tammy’s backpack and threw it to you.
  3008. >Tammy was giggling now, catching on.
  3009. >You tossed him and Chad both a glare and tugged your jacket on.
  3010. “See! Nice and warm.”
  3011. >Thot sighed.
  3012. >”Come on. You should at least go IN and LOOK! Who knows what they might have that you could use!”
  3013. >Tammy joined in with his sister, stifling his laughter a little.
  3014. >”Yeah! Come on ‘Nonny, give it a try!”
  3015. >You turned to Chad, he just smirked and shrugged.
  3016. >…
  3017. >Fine.
  3018. >You snorted loudly and started trotting towards the Pet Smart, everyone followed.
  3019.  
  3020. >”That’s the spirit ‘Nonny!”
  3021. >Chad mussed your mane up as he took the lead into the store.
  3022. >”Maybe we can find a leash to keep you from assaulting strangers for hugs and petting.”
  3023. >You groaned and tugged your hood on harshly.
  3024. “Fuck off Chad.”
  3025. >You frowned at everything, the baskets full of chew toys and catnip, the shelves lined with collars and leashes.
  3026. "I can’t believe I’m actually doing this."
  3027. >Jesus fucking Christ this was denigrating.
  3028. >To your dismay, the employees here looked at you with curiosity and…
  3029. >You shuddered.
  3030. >Joy.
  3031. >Tammy immediately wandered off on his own, likely to go mess around with some of the dog toys.
  3032. >Chad and Thot both stuck with you, scanning the aisles for anything that might suit you.
  3033. >Grudgingly, you did the same, keeping an eye out for signs with words like equine and horse.
  3034. >After about a minute of not finding anything, you were pretty much ready to call this whole song and dance off.
  3035. “Alright let’s get-“
  3036. >”Can I help you guys find anything today?”
  3037. >Please.
  3038. >No.
  3039. >The three of you turned around as one.
  3040. >There stood an employee, some dude in his early twenties with clean cut hair and a clean pressed uniform.
  3041. >His nametag said “Hello my name is, STEVEN.”
  3042. >STEVEN, was smiling, eyes darting to you every couple of seconds.
  3043. >Chad clapped his hands together and rubbed them, tossing on a smile of his own.
  3044. >”Well of course Steven! We could certainly use some help finding a few things for our furred friend here.”
  3045. >Then Chad motioned to you, and you responded by huffing and smacking his leg with a hoof.
  3046.  
  3047. “Is there no low you won’t stoop to to bust my balls? You sound like the fucking OC.”
  3048. >You frowned, and then your face fell.
  3049. >Steven’s eyes were practically gleaming as he stared at you, smile widening.
  3050. >”She can talk too!?”
  3051. >Brimming with enthusiasm, Steven crouched down and crab walked around you, looking you over in amazement.
  3052. >After a full three hundred and sixty degree crouch and look around, he came face to face with you again, staring straight into your eyes.
  3053. >You recoiled a little, shuffling back on your hooves and furrowing your brow, mouth tightening into a hard line.
  3054. >Chad wasn’t smiling so much anymore, and you could see his fists bunching up discretely.
  3055. “Chill out. Both of you.”
  3056. >Steven’s face fell back into a much more calm expression immediately, he bowed his head and backed away.
  3057. >”Shoot, I’m sorry. Really…”
  3058. >Jesus, this guy was up or down, no middle ground at all.
  3059. >”But uhh…”
  3060. >Steven looked back up, pleadingly.
  3061. >”Can I please examine you? Like, touch you a little? I’m studying zoology, and you’re definitely the most interesting thing I’ve ever seen.”
  3062. >You perked a brow and took a few more steps back.
  3063. “I dunno…”
  3064. >Steven’s face fell further, fuck it looked like he was about to cry.
  3065. >”Please, I’ve never had the chance to examine a specimen like you!”
  3066. >”She’s no specimen. And you’ll let her decide.”
  3067. >Chad didn’t move an inch. Still as a statue with his fists still balled up.
  3068. >Thot was holding his right wrist tight.
  3069. >Back to Steven, he was still looking to you, expression a bit guarded now.
  3070. >You sighed and smiled.
  3071. “Alright.”
  3072. >You unzipped and got your hoodie off, tossing it back to a much calmer Chad.
  3073. >Steven nodded graciously and approached, gently grabbing your left fore hoof.
  3074. >You lifted it, let it rest in his hand.
  3075.  
  3076. >Steven tugged your sock off and set it aside, you twitched a little at the touch.
  3077. >Marvelling at you, Steven muttered under his breath.
  3078. >”Everything appears to be similar… the accessory carpal however…”
  3079. >He was very gentle, running his hands along your leg, squeezing here and there as his fingers traced over your bones and your pristine white fur.
  3080. >Steven felt all the way up to your elbow, but he seemed a lot more curious about your hoof and just lower down your legs in general.
  3081. >You tugged off the sock on your right fore leg so that he could get a good look at that one too.
  3082. >As he performed the same feeling and squeezing from before, Steven’s murmurs gradually became a matter of fact commentary to no one in particular.
  3083. >”Hmmmm… Yes. Similar but all at a much smaller scale, with overall a much denser bone structure.”
  3084. >Steven poked at your knee here.
  3085. >”Some bones are outright missing as well, such as the accessory carpal and the-“
  3086. >Now he felt above your pastern.
  3087. >”Lateral proximal sesamoid.”
  3088. >Thot harrumphed, adjusting her glasses and crouching down alongside Steven as she spoke.
  3089. >”From what I’ve seen though, she seems to have a more complex skeletal structure making up her pastern than any normal horse. Considering the relative dexterity.”
  3090. >You giggled as Steven looked up in surprise, it was like he’d just remembered you were all there.
  3091. >Then he fell back into that cool scientific sort of tone, gently taking up your pastern again.
  3092. >”I’m inclined to agree. There’s at least one additional bone here between the middle phalanx and the coffin bone. I can only imagine the exact musculature.”
  3093. >Thot nodded and grabbed your other fore leg, showing him all sorts of things about your “proximal phalanx” and your “lateral splint bone”.
  3094. >You just sighed and let them geek out, rear legs getting stiffer by the minute as they held your front up.
  3095. >You weren’t really all that into science junk, and Chad was into engineering.
  3096.  
  3097. >He was already lighting up a cig and sitting down on a stack of dog food bags he’d pulled off of the shelf behind him.
  3098. >With a bit of hoof stomping and some neighing, you got to sit down beside him, dragging along your pair of science dorks.
  3099. >You sat your rump down proper on the bag of feed, fore legs out for Steven and Thot to peruse.
  3100. >Chad silently offered you a cig, holding it out just before your lips.
  3101. >You clamped down on the cigarette and let him light it for you, taking a few puffs.
  3102. >Ahhhh, that was nice.
  3103. >Probably your tiredness that made it so good.
  3104. >It really helped ease your disgust with the whole pet store side of things.
  3105. >Thot was too busy to nag you on smoking, and Steven was using his time to “further examine her costal cartilage” which apparently translated into rubbing and poking at your chest and barrel a bunch.
  3106. >And so you were free to smoke with Chad, he even held your cig out in between drags.
  3107. “You know what I need?”
  3108. >Chad shook his head and took a puff.
  3109. >”No. What?”
  3110. >You blew smoke out of your nostrils at him, expression pensive.
  3111. “I need saddlebags, you know, to put all my junk in when I’m trotting around.”
  3112. >Steven piped up.
  3113. >”I’ve got just what you need, right in the back.”
  3114. >You grinned and nodded.
  3115. “Awesome. I’ll just finish this smoke then.”
  3116. >Steven frowned.
  3117. >”Well that’s uhh… That’s kind of against store pol-“
  3118. “And while I’m smoking you can keep on studying me.”
  3119. >”-icy is overrated.”
  3120. >And now Steven got back to checking out your ribs.
  3121. >Thot however, took attention.
  3122. >Brows furrowing as she realized that you and Chad have been smoking this entire time, Thot went to snatch the cigarette out of your mouth.
  3123. >You ducked to the left and bit down tight on your fag.
  3124. >Chad warily kept his cigarette out of reach as well.
  3125. >”A drop of nicotine can kill a horse! Sound familiar?”
  3126. >Laughing, you pushed Thot’s reaching hand aside with a hoof.
  3127.  
  3128. “Yeah it does, that was commie propaganda. I’ll forgive your lack of knowledge on account of being a science dweeb.”
  3129. >Chad playfully punched your shoulder.
  3130. >”Shut up, arts dweeb.”
  3131. >Thot huffed and got back to talking to Steven about your anatomy.
  3132. >You busied yourself with smoking, taking a deep drag.
  3133. >Then you exhaled, letting a huge wispy cloud of smoke out.
  3134. >Sticking your snout into it, you sucked a bunch of the swiftly dissipating smoke back in through your nose, then you blew quick tiny smoke rings out of your mouth with it.
  3135. >Chad shook his head at that, taking average puffs.
  3136. >”Don’t know how you even do it. Hell, those are practically virgin lungs too.”
  3137. >You just smirked and reached back with your head to butt out your cig on the metal shelf behind you.
  3138. >Up above, the almost clinical lights shone down and your mane gleamed in them, blonde strands draped across your neck.
  3139. “I just got the talent for it is all.”
  3140. >Butting out his own cig and taking your butt, Chad still shook his head.
  3141. >”Doesn’t make any sense, I smoke nearly twenty times more than you do. I mean shit, this is the second time you’ve smoked this month.”
  3142. >You perked a brow as you got up, much to the chagrin of Steven and maybe a little bit for Thot too.
  3143. “Kind of weird that you’ve kept track.”
  3144. >”I keep track of everything.”
  3145. >Sighing, you stretched a little, getting the kinks out.
  3146. >Chest pushed out stretching your fore legs, they cricked and cracked every now and then.
  3147. >Then you shifted over on your back legs, butt swinging out.
  3148. >And back to neutral, standing up straight and even.
  3149. “Not helping your case.”
  3150. >Now you turned to look at Steven, who was standing back up and smoothing out the creases in his pants.
  3151. “So, you mentioned having something in the back?”
  3152. >Steven nodded and started walking, down the aisle towards the back of the store.
  3153. >”Yeah, just over here.”
  3154.  
  3155. >Socks on, Thot even helped you tug them up nice and high.
  3156. >Good and cozy again, you started moving.
  3157. >You trotted behind Steven, keeping close with Chad and Thot just behind you.
  3158. >Down all the way through the pet food aisles end to end, past the dog beds, took a right at the racks of doggie sweaters.
  3159. >Yeah, no way in hell you were wearing any of those.
  3160. >You took a second to get a good look at the sweaters anyway though, sticking out a hoof and running it along some of them as you passed.
  3161. >Tacky, itchy and ugly in all sorts of crappy colours like mauve and burgundy.
  3162. “Fuck that.”
  3163. >”Agreed.”
  3164. >You turned your head to look back at Chad in surprise, he was shaking his head in disdain at the sweaters while he walked past.
  3165. >”All ball busting aside, your socks and that hoodie are much cuter.”
  3166. >That perked your brow up, almost got you blushing and it definitely got you to smile.
  3167. “Color me surprised. Thanks man.”
  3168. >Chad gave you a thumbs up and you tried and failed to do the same back at him.
  3169. >Instantly one fore hoof got hooked up behind the rear one and you were planting your face firmly into the linoleoum floor.
  3170. >At least it was clean and real well polished, you could tell from the taste on your tongue.
  3171. >It was like time just grinded to a standstill, face in the floor, tongue splayed all over it and eyes wide.
  3172. >Your mane was all down the right side of your face, pressed against the tile.
  3173. >You couldn’t help but think that you looked adorable, and maybe a little ridiculous, like a modern art piece.
  3174. >…
  3175. >Nope, ridiculous.
  3176. >You started to push yourself up, fore hooves slipping a little on the linoleum, tongue sucking back into your head.
  3177. >You’d never really thought about it, but it was pretty long now, and a whole lot bigger.
  3178. >Your brain felt like it was sucking itself back into your head too, everything was a little bit brighter.
  3179. >”Phantom thumbs?”
  3180.  
  3181. >Chad’s hands wrapped around your barrel, up in the crooks of your elbows as he hefted you up onto all four hooves.
  3182. “Yeah. I keep forgetting.”
  3183. >”Are you alright Anonymous?”
  3184. >Thot kneeled down with a look of concern etched on her face, flecking some imagined speck of dirt off of your muzzle.
  3185. >You tapped her shoulder and nodded, smacking your lips to get the taste of floor wax out.
  3186. “I’m fine.”
  3187. >Steven had stopped for you, staring down in concern and maybe just a little bit of a smile, like he’d been laughing.
  3188. >Your eyes narrowed, but you decided to let it slide.
  3189. >Hooves were good persuaders, but only when the “target audience” was “captivated”.
  3190. >The four of you kept on, traversing the now decidedly oversized Pet Smart.
  3191. >Seriously, how fucking big was this thing?
  3192. >At one point, you spotted Tammy moonwalking through a huge section of harnesses, collars, leashes and muzzles, peering up at all the stuff on racks.
  3193. >Chad seemed to notice too, he tossed Tammy a thumbs up.
  3194. >Tammy tripped trying to give one back.
  3195. >You giggled, and then your muzzle scrunched.
  3196. “You did that to me on purpose. Didn’t you?”
  3197. >Chad shrugged, chuckling.
  3198. >”Naw. I didn’t even know that was a thing till I did it to you. Seriously.”
  3199. >You were more suspicious of the OK hand gesture and the wink that Chad showed to Tammy afterward than you were of the thumbs up.
  3200. >Especially when Tammy nodded back, with a serious expression.
  3201. >Whatever.
  3202. >Finally, you’d reached the back end of the store.
  3203. >A bit more barren, no one was really milling around back here and most of the merchandise was either low end or niche.
  3204. >Steven strode over to a steel door near the right corner, pushing it open.
  3205. >He propped it into place with a wooden wedge before walking through.
  3206.  
  3207. >You followed him first, flinching a little at the change in temperature.
  3208. >There was a chill in the air back here, and the cement floor didn’t help.
  3209. >All along the walls were cardboard boxes stacked on huge steel shelves from the ground all the way up to the ceiling.
  3210. >Dust hung suspended in the air, caught and perceptible in the yellowed fluorescent spotlights of the suspended lights above.
  3211. >The whole mall was set on a hill, so this part of the second floor was the ground floor outside, down at the end you could see the truck loading bays that would bring in all these boxes.
  3212. >There were patches of snow around the edges of them, must be where the chill was coming in from.
  3213. >Thot looked around curiously, while Chad took up a good leaning spot on a hefty box just to the right of the door.
  3214. >You stood and watched Steven rummage through an old wooden wardrobe set up against the wall.
  3215. >It was a little out of place really, where everything else was so industrial and commercial.
  3216. >The wardrobe looked homemade, the sort of thing your grandmother would be rummaging in while she told you all about how HER grandfather had carved it and built it by hand.
  3217. >Fleur de lis bloomed at the edges of it, especially near the top.
  3218. >Fish swam up the sides, accompanied by anchors.
  3219. >At the very top, you spotted a crest inlaid with a cracked stained glass butterfly, a descending dove on either side of it.
  3220. >”Here, I think you’ll like this.”
  3221. >Steven turned to face you, carrying an all leather set of saddlebags in his arms.
  3222. >You trotted up to him and started to inspect all the leatherwork.
  3223. >Brown, plain but tough, clean and well made.
  3224. >Looked like someone had been taking very good care of it, it had seen some use but it was just enough that it’d be broken in and not quite enough to wear it down.
  3225. >The bags themselves looked good too, nice and spacious, you could definitely fit all your books in there for walking around campus with.
  3226. >They both had flaps, with brass snap fasteners to close them with.
  3227. >On either one, there was a butterfly shape stitched into the leather.
  3228. “Damn right I like them.”
  3229. >You grinned and snatched the saddlebags up eagerly in your mouth.
  3230. >Giggling, you swung them over and onto your back, seeing how it all looked against your fur.
  3231.  
  3232. >Perfect.
  3233. >”Nice.”
  3234. >Chad nodded approvingly, walking over to get a closer look.
  3235. >You posed and grinned at him, one rear hoof and one fore hoof stuck out straight like you were a ballerina.
  3236. >”Here, there are straps to keep it in place.”
  3237. >Steven reached under your belly and strapped the bags down properly.
  3238. >The leather straps wrapped around your barrel neatly, interlocking via three brass snap fasteners.
  3239. >Snug, you’d probably get sick of the leather rubbing against you when you moved after a while, but it’s not like you’d be wearing it constantly throughout the day anyway.
  3240. “Thanks.”
  3241. >You trotted in place and then in a few circles, testing out the fit.
  3242. >Then you stopped, hooves clopping against the cement.
  3243. >Thot was standing in front of you, silently enamoured, her eyes may as well have been sparkling.
  3244. >You’d almost forgotten that Thot loved horses, she’d been too worried and too busy nagging you to really indulge in the fact that you were a tiny horse yet.
  3245. >The saddlebags must have been the last straw.
  3246. >Smirking, you posed again, tossing your mane and titlting your head slightly.
  3247. >You crossed your right foreleg over your left one.
  3248. “Whaddaya think Thot? Cute?”
  3249. >Thot moved closer…
  3250. >And started running her hand up your muzzle, then she ran her fingers through your mane, petting your head.
  3251. >Yessssss…
  3252. >You leaned into it immediately, eyes closing, smirk turning into a comfortable smile.
  3253. >Thot smiled warmly and laughed.
  3254. >”Adorable.”
  3255. >Damn right, you were the cutest fucking thing around.
  3256. >Cutest thing in the world, probably the cutest thing in the known universe.
  3257. >Thot scratched behind your ear.
  3258.  
  3259. “I AM the cutest thing in the known universe…”
  3260. >Rolling her eyes, Thot stood up again and turned to Steven.
  3261. >More importantly, she stopped scratching you behind the ear.
  3262. >Your muzzle scrunched as she spoke.
  3263. >”So how much is it?”
  3264. >Steven rummaged in the wardrobe again, pulling out an old dusty price tag.
  3265. >”Around eighty dollars, with tax.”
  3266. >Shit, there goes most of your cash then.
  3267. >Whatever, you’d have to just make do with what you already had for winter clothes.
  3268. “How much money do I got Chad?”
  3269. >Chad had migrated back to his leaning box, you saw.
  3270. >He dug out your money clip and pulled the wad of bills out, counting your cash.
  3271. >”Ten, fifteen, thirty five, fourty, sixty, eighty, ninety five…”
  3272. >You looked back at Steven.
  3273. “Yeah I’ll get it.”
  3274. >That’d leave you with about ten bucks for a beer and-
  3275. >”One hundred and ninety five, two hundred and ninety five.”
  3276. “What.”
  3277. >Your head probably broke the sound barrier turning back around at Chad like that.
  3278. >Chad chuckled and smirked.
  3279. >Sure enough, there were two brown hundred dollar bills in his hand.
  3280. >”Two hundred and ninety five dollars. There were two big one double O’s hidden in the middle, with a little note tucked in alongside them.”
  3281. >You scoffed, but smiled.
  3282. “Of course there were.”
  3283. >Yeah, “should be enough”, nice one Dad.
  3284. “What does the note say?”
  3285. >Chad read it himself, laughed, then read it off for you.
  3286. >”Make sure you save some of this for beer, keep your priorities straight.”
  3287.  
  3288. >Thot rolled her eyes and huffed.
  3289. >You rolled on the floor and laughed.
  3290. >Then you grinned at Chad.
  3291. “Damn right I will.”
  3292. >Steven clapped his hands together and started towards the door.
  3293. >”Well. Let’s get you checked out then.”
  3294. >You nodded and followed him out.
  3295. >The trot back was uneventful, you didn’t even see Tammy moonwalking around.
  3296. >Even the employees seem to have grown a bit more used to seeing you, although the ones that did stare looked pretty happy to see you.
  3297. >And of course you had customers taking pictures.
  3298. >You could already see the tweets now: “#KeyboardMasher looking cute with her new saddlebags!” and “saddlebags to be filled with the remains of mashed keyboards #KeyboardMasher”.
  3299. >With thoughts of internet fame in your mind, you clipped and clopped up to the counter.
  3300. >Steven walled around it and met you at the cash.
  3301. >You turned to Chad.
  3302. “I’ll let you HANDle the transaction.”
  3303. >You waggled your hoof when for emphasis when you said hand, smirking and giggling.
  3304. >”Fuck you.”
  3305. >Chad shook his head and turned around to pay for the saddlebags, forking over eighty five dollars and twenty five cents.
  3306. >Steven smiled at you.
  3307. >”Thank you for the purchase, and for letting me get a good look at you.”
  3308. >You nodded back.
  3309. “No problem man, anytime. Thank you for showing me the saddlebags in the first place.”
  3310. >Steven’s eyes widened a little.
  3311. >”Anytime?”
  3312. >Your mouth pursed, and you shrugged a little half heartedly.
  3313. >Woops.
  3314. “Yeah… Sure.”
  3315. >Steven was ecstatic, he hopped over the counter and whipped out a notepad, writing his number down on one of the sheets before stuffing it into your left saddlebag.
  3316. >”There, call my whenever alright?”
  3317. “Sure… Uh, see you around Steven.”
  3318. >Thot, Chad and you walked out of the store, all three of you giving a little wave to Steven as you left.
  3319. >He returned it quite enthusiastically.
  3320.  
  3321. (French ahead. Translations will be in brackets.)
  3322.  
  3323. >A few steps out of the store and you stopped, remembering the fourth member of your crew.
  3324. >You turned back, frowning as you scanned the store entrance and down the aisles.
  3325. “Where’s Tammy?”
  3326. >Thot stopped with you, looking concerned, but Chad kept right on walking.
  3327. >He pointed out into the lobby beyond the Pet Smart.
  3328. >”Over there.”
  3329. >Following Chad’s direction, you spotted Tammy.
  3330. >Sitting on a bench at the center of the lobby, Tammy had accrued a gaggle of what looked like middle school girls crowded around him, petting him.
  3331. >You kept behind Chad and Thot, crossing the lobby with them.
  3332. >As you got closer, your jealously grew and grew.
  3333. >All the girls had matching schoolbags with their school logo and everything, they probably had brushes in there and bows and…
  3334. >You wanted some of that fucking petting and ear scratching.
  3335. >Tammy was obviously loving all the attention, chatting animatedly with the girls while they marveled at him and played around with his green mane and tail.
  3336. >…
  3337. >Your patience slipped completely and you broke into a gallop.
  3338. >”Hey! Anon wait!”
  3339. >You didn’t look back, but you could hear Chad dashing along behind you.
  3340. >Ignoring him, you sped onward, straight to the bench.
  3341. >There was an opening in the crowd of school girls, you dashed through that and hopped up on the bench, right beside Tammy.
  3342. >Silence, all the girls stared open mouthed and surprised.
  3343. >Tammy didn’t say a word, he just sort of smiled and waited.
  3344. >Chad looked worried, but he was hanging back for now while Thot caught up.
  3345. >You waved your fore hoof and tilted your head, smiling.
  3346. “Hello.”
  3347. >Immediately the girls all started speaking French rapid fire, mignonne (cute) et joli (pretty) en evidence (lots of those words being thrown around).
  3348. >As they converged on you, you threw your head back and thought for a moment.
  3349.  
  3350. >Maybe this was a mistake?
  3351. >You might get hurt, they might be too rough like those crazy ladies in the bathroom…
  3352. >Then the petting started, hands all over your head, neck and back, fingers in your mane.
  3353. >Naw.
  3354. >You giggled and they reacted immediately with more petting and more exclamations of “mignonne!”
  3355. >One of the girls tapped you on the withers, trying to get your attention.
  3356. >Smiling, you turned to listen to her babble excitedly.
  3357. >”Vous étes Clavier Cassé, oui?! J’adore ton ami Chad! Et vos chaussetes!”
  3358. >("You're Keyboard Masher right?! I love your friend Chad! And  your socks!")
  3359. >For a second you were confused, the French translation of Keyboard Masher had thrown you off a bit.
  3360. >Then you nodded back at the girl.
  3361. “Merci beaucoup! J’adore mes chaussetes aussi, y sont chaud et comfortable. J’en suis sure que Chad apprecie ton compliment.”
  3362. ("Thanks a lot! I love my socks too, they're warm and comfortable. I'm sure Chad appreciates your compliment.")
  3363. >Chad looked about neutral really.
  3364. >He’d walked over finally, sort of hanging around the edges of the crowd of school girls, with a few of them asking him for autographs.
  3365. >Chad never signed any, but he passed it off pretty well, without being excessively rude since they were just kids after all.
  3366. >Thot was hanging around him, gaze flicking over to her brother every now and then, but she was more amused than anything.
  3367. >Everything was a bit of a rush, as things tended to be in big crowds of people.
  3368. >You just revelled in the petting for a while, idly answering questions when another girl spoke up.
  3369. >This one struck you as a bit peculiar for some reason, just the way her tone was so much more relaxed than the other girls.
  3370. >She was smiling calmly when she spoke to you, eyes expectant.
  3371. >Green eyes, bright green, her face was framed with blonde hair that went straight down around her shoulders.
  3372. >”Donc, toi et Rigolade L’Alouette vous étes amis?”
  3373. >("So, you and Laughing Lark are friends?")
  3374. >Rigolade? Joke? Alouette? Lark?
  3375. >Your brows furrowed for a moment, and then it dawned on you.
  3376. >That must be what they’re calling Tammy.
  3377. >Laughing Lark was his name then, at least roughly, The Joke Lark wasn’t really all that catchy.
  3378.  
  3379. >You cracked a smile.
  3380. >Fitting.
  3381. “Oui, depuis longtemps.”
  3382. ("Yes, we've been friends for a long time.")
  3383. >The school girl nodded.
  3384. >She stuck out a hand, tiny, and started petting you with it.
  3385. >Fondling your mane, she looked at it with a widening smile.
  3386. >”C’est ce que je croyais. Votre crinière est trés beau, j’en suis jalouse.”
  3387. >("That's what I thought. Your mane is beautiful, I'm jealous.")
  3388. >Now the girl sighed, tugging at her own blonde hair.
  3389. >”La mienne n’est rien en comparaison.”
  3390. >("My hair is nothing compared to it.")
  3391. >Your eyes went a little wide at that.
  3392. >She was jealous of your mane?
  3393. >Her hair was gorgeous, obviously well kept.
  3394. >You stuck your hoof out and ran it through her hair, feeling how silky it was.
  3395. >It smelt nice, like cinnamon.
  3396. >The girl was surprised for once, but she didn’t object and you were sure to be gentle.
  3397. “Vos cheveux sont aussi, sinon meilleur encore que ma crinière. J’adore!”
  3398. ("Your hair is as beautiful as my mane, if not even better. I love it!")
  3399. >That got a blush on the girl’s cheeks.
  3400. >”Merci.”
  3401. >("Thank you.")
  3402. “De rien.”
  3403. ("No problem.")
  3404. >Awww, she was cute when she was all flustered like that, blushing and smiling and wringing her little hands.
  3405. >Suddenly you heard yelling from across the lobby.
  3406. >All the girl’s heads turned to the source, looked like their teacher had finally caught up to them.
  3407. >”On y va! On y va! L’autobus attend!”
  3408. >("Let's go! Let's go! The bus is waiting!")
  3409. >Cue a collective aww from all the middle schoolers.
  3410. >You almost joined in too, Tammy certainly did.
  3411. >Nonetheless, the middle school girls gave you and Tammy each a farewell petting and departed, moving as a mob back to their teacher across the lobby and outside through the double glass doors.
  3412. >You watched them go, catching snippets of conversation.
  3413.  
  3414. >One thing in particular stuck out to you.
  3415. >It was that blonde haired, green eyed gal.
  3416. >She skipped along happily, whistling a children’s tune with her hair swinging around beautifully in the light.
  3417. >Alouette~ Gentille alouette…
  3418. >(Lark~ Nice lark...)
  3419. >Her eyes met yours for a brief moment, and she smiled, whistling even louder.
  3420. >Alouette~ Je te plumerai.
  3421. >(Lark~ I will pluck you.)
  3422. >You frowned, despite her cheery demeanor and spirited whistling, something about it all brought you a very real sense of… dread.
  3423. >You didn’t really know why, just something about the way she whistled it, it was perfectly in tune but wrong.
  3424. >Somehow.
  3425. >Maybe it wasn’t about something wrong more than it was about something missing.
  3426. >All of a sudden, you were jolted out of your thoughts by the clack of a plastic buckle, accompanied by the feeling of fingers brushing against your neck.
  3427. >Immediately you looked down at yourself, but there was nothing out of place, just that tuft of fur on your chest.
  3428. >You heard a bell jingling though.
  3429. >Confused, you turned around.
  3430. >Chad stood there, chuckling at you along with Tammy and Thot.
  3431. >They were all laughing at you.
  3432. >What the hell was so funny?
  3433. “What?”
  3434. >You checked yourself over, scanning around trying to figure out what the hell it was.
  3435. >Every single move you made was accompanied by that jingling bell.
  3436. >Finally you realized it was just under your throat latch, out of view.
  3437. >Using your fore hooves, you dragged the damn thing strapped to you down your neck, bell jingling.
  3438. >A collar, of course.
  3439. >At least it wasn’t all gaudy, just a simple black one with a little silver bell attached.
  3440. >You were still pissed though.
  3441.  
  3442. >As withering as your muzzle scrunch and furrowed brow combo was, Chad still burst out laughing with Tammy.
  3443. >Thot had the decency to at least try to stifle her giggling.
  3444. “Fuck you Chad. Fuck you especially Tam. That’s what you were doing in the Pet Smart this whole time? Buying a collar?”
  3445. >Groaning, you fumbled with the little plastic buckle on your collar, trying to undo it.
  3446. >You were about to bite the stupid fucking thing off.
  3447. “Help me get this shit off!”
  3448. >Chad smirked and lifted up a leash, swinging it back and forth in front of you.
  3449. >”You sure you don’t want to go for a walk Anon?”
  3450. >Fucking Chad.
  3451. >You had something for this though.
  3452. >Chad wanted to bust your balls huh?
  3453. “Hey. Chad? Remember Stirling Farm? That one donkey, Carl… Remember how those hooves felt when they were planted straight into your balls? I can sure as fuck jog your memory if you don’t.”
  3454. >It was like you sucked Chad’s smirk off of his face and made it your own.
  3455. >Tammy and Thot both lost it, giggling madly.
  3456. >He threw the leash back to Tammy and walked over to you, unbuckling the collar.
  3457. >”Sorry. Went too far there.”
  3458. >You sighed and smiled.
  3459. “S’alright.”
  3460. >”Yeah, sorry ‘Nonny…”
  3461. >Tammy tapped you on the back with a hoof, then she grinned.
  3462. >”Looked cute on you though. Maybe you should look into getting something to wear around your neck? I mean you got socks and a hoodie and all, but you could do with something like and accessory.”
  3463. >Thot nodded in agreement.
  3464. >”A scarf would suit you.”
  3465.  
  3466. >You smiled, mood picking up again.
  3467. >A scarf would be really nice.
  3468. >You’d run out of scarves a while ago, lost the last one to a drunken bout of burning stuff for fun.
  3469. “Alright.”
  3470. >You pointed out the Wal Mart with your hoof.
  3471. “Let’s try there then. Also, Chad, I’ll take all my stuff now.”
  3472. >You stood up on all fours, standing sideways so that Chad could get at your saddlebags easier.
  3473. >”Sure.”
  3474. >Chad packed your stuff inside the right saddlebag, wallet, money clip, tuque, an extra pair of socks and your cellphone.
  3475. >Brows shooting up, you stared at Chad in mild surprise.
  3476. “Didn’t know you brought my cellphone and the socks along. Thanks bro. Dunno how I’m gonna use my cell though.”
  3477. >Chad shrugged, then passed your hoodie to you.
  3478. >Tammy piped up cheerfully, waving his fore hooves in your face while you stuffed your hoodie into your left saddlebag.
  3479. >”Hooves work on touch screens just fine!”
  3480. >You thought back to earlier…
  3481. >Yeah, Tammy even managed to play Candy Crush that one time outside the Think Kitchen.
  3482. >It was probably awkward as hell though, if operating a computer was any indication.
  3483. >You hopped off of the bench.
  3484. “Well, I’ll try it sometime later then.”
  3485. >Chad fell in beside you, with Thot and Tammy trailing behind as you trotted over to the Wal Mart.
  3486. >The lobby was starting to fill up now, you could see plenty of people coming in from the southern hall.
  3487. >They must have seen the pictures on Twitter.
  3488. >Chad noticed too, he gave you a questioning look, jabbing his thumb over his shoulder at the gathering crowd.
  3489. >You picked up the pace, hooves clopping quickly.
  3490. “Yeah. Let’s just keep on moving.”
  3491. >”Hello and welcome to Wal-“
  3492.  
  3493. “Yesit’snicetobeheregoodbye.”
  3494. >Speedy trot past the greeter, you didn’t want to be spotted by anyone before you got into the store.
  3495. >Thot and Tammy weren’t really keeping up all that well, but Chad got the idea.
  3496. >You felt a whole lot more secure once you got past the main entrance, deeper into the Wal Mart.
  3497. >You slowed down, letting Tammy and Thot catch up, then the four of you walked together, navigating the aisles and sections, working your way over to the clothes.
  3498. >The usual Wal-Mart crazies stared at you, whale pods and welfare leeches alike.
  3499. >Thot and Tammy both split off from you at the food section, apparently they needed to buy snacks for their dorm party later.
  3500. >So you and Chad traveled as a pair the rest of the way, just shooting the shit.
  3501. >The Wal-Mart was pretty standard, bright lights, soul crushing lack of aesthetics, and utterly devoid of intelligent life.
  3502. >So, kind of boring.
  3503. >All of a sudden you heard something like steel hitting tile, and plastic knocking around.
  3504. >”AM I BEING DETAINED!?”
  3505. >Your ears perked up and swiveled towards the source of all that noise.
  3506. >Your head and eyes followed soon after.
  3507. >You were now in the process of taking that whole “boring” thing back.
  3508. >Lo and behold, there was a slob in the electronics section, fat enough that his gut could probably hold one and a half of you and short enough that you could smack him on the top of the head if you stood up on your hind legs.
  3509. >He was laying on the floor, in the DVD aisle, clutching a Mosin with both of his sweat drenched hands.
  3510. >You tried to move closer, but the police officer on the fatty’s back was waving you off.
  3511. >”Please keep your distance, ma’am. Sir, drop the weapon.”
  3512. >You trotted away giggling.
  3513. >As nice as you had been to Carl, spergs still got a good laugh out of you.
  3514. >Chad got himself a good look and a laugh before he followed you.
  3515. >The clothing section was just a few hoofsteps away.
  3516.  
  3517. >You walked into it with some relish, running your hooves against all the fashionable, and most importantly, comfortable clothes.
  3518. >You dived into one of those circular racks of winter jackets, burying yourself in all that warm gear.
  3519. >Giggling, you crawled around for a bit before hopping out the other side to a chuckling Chad.
  3520. >He shook his head, smiling, and helped you find the scarves.
  3521. >It was fun just horsing around, running between racks of things and tumbling all over clothes.
  3522. >Eventually you found a bunch of aisles stocked with winter wear, there were plenty of scarves to browse.
  3523. >Chad started at one end, and you the other.
  3524. >As you picked through them all, your mind wandered a little, drifting back to the fatty with the nugget.
  3525. >You shook your head and pushed your mane out of your eyes with a hoof, smiling.
  3526. >Some idiot who didn’t read up on the open carry laws, you imagined.
  3527. >You frowned, wondering just how in the hell he even made it that far into the Wal-Mart in the first place.
  3528. >Sure, two entrances, from the lobby just outside and the Wal-Mart storefront on the other end.
  3529. >You reached out with your mouth and tossed a scarf on your back, seeing how the red looked against your fur.
  3530. >But the electronics section was smack dab in the middle of the store.
  3531. >Like, did he-
  3532. >Another thought struck you, suddenly and without warning as you went to put the red scarf back.
  3533. >Your mouth gaped, letting the scarf tumble out and slump on the floor.
  3534. >You’d never taken the time to really think about it before, but…
  3535. “Chad.”
  3536. >Chad looked up from a maroon balaclava.
  3537. >”Yeah?”
  3538. “I can’t shoot guns anymore.”
  3539. >Chad frowned, then his eyes flicked to your hooves and he realized just the extent of your conundrum.
  3540. >”Fuck.”
  3541. >You stared worriedly into Chad’s eyes, then at your socked hooves.
  3542. >There really was no way you could shoot a gun anymore.
  3543.  
  3544. >Not properly or safely anyway, you could probably jerry rig something up to pull a trigger and all with your hooves like you’d done with the keyboard.
  3545. >But a gun wasn’t a keyboard, even if you could pull the trigger you didn’t have the anatomy for a gun at all.
  3546. >…
  3547. >And that meant…
  3548. “I can’t... Hunt anymore.”
  3549. >Chad walked over, looking concerned as he patted your back and crouched down to your level
  3550. >”Shit, Anon, I’m sorry man. I can’t even imagine.”
  3551. >You languished for a moment, your ears tilted further and further downward thinking about all the things that were impossible for you now.
  3552. >No hunting, no fishing, no video games, no snowboarding, no skateboarding either…
  3553. >All of a sudden you felt a scratch behind your ears, Chad was giving you a determined smile.
  3554. >”But you still got other shit right?”
  3555. “Yeah…”
  3556. >You did have other interests of course, you could still read and write, you weren’t cut off at all from pursuing your interest in the arts, you could still shitpost on 4chan (in fact, you could camwhore too), you could still run…
  3557. >Hell, you’d improved a bit on the long distance end of running.
  3558. >…
  3559. >QUITE A BIT.
  3560. “HOLY SHIT CHAD.”
  3561. >Chad recoiled a little at your sudden outburst, but he didn’t outright back away once he saw your grin.
  3562. “I’M A FUCKING BEAST AT MARATHONS.”
  3563. >One brow perked, Chad poked at your chest.
  3564. >”You’ve always been alright at cross country yeah. You placed well in the Blue Nose last year right?”
  3565. >You shook your head furiously, mane flying everywhere.
  3566. “Yeah! But just think about it for a second! I’m a perfect coming together of the two things that make a good marathon runner.”
  3567. >You stomped your hooves a little, flexed your leg muscles and trotted a few circles before posing proudly.
  3568. “I’ve got the physical end of things, as an ACTUAL FUCKING HORSE. And…”
  3569. >Now you clomped your hoof against your head, smirking and ignoring how much pain you'd just inflicted on yourself.
  3570. >Hooves were fucking hard.
  3571.  
  3572. “I’ve got the mental end of things, with the mind of the cruelest and most determined species of long distance runners on the planet.”
  3573. >Chad chuckled and nodded.
  3574. >”Fuck yeah.”
  3575. >Then he looked thoughtful, rubbing his chin.
  3576. >”Plus, I betcha that someone somewhere out there will make something to help you shoot. Defense contractors are probably already foaming at the mouth at the thought of military pony mascots. Imagine the propaganda possibilities! Someone, somewhere is going to find a way for you to make things go boom.”
  3577. >Thank fuck for technological progress through strife and conflict.
  3578. “For sure.”
  3579. >Anyway, back to scarves.
  3580. >Chad stood up and gave you a pat on the head, walking back over to his end of the shelf.
  3581. >Your search for the perfect scarf went on for a good ten minutes or so, interspersed with Chad coming over to you with the ones he’d picked out that might look good.
  3582. >Finally, you settled on a nice navy blue scarf.
  3583. >”Cute.”
  3584. >It was like a layered balaclava, with white lily flower embroidery on top of the warm, blue, fleecy material.
  3585. >Chad smiled, batting the tassels on it around a little as he adjusted it for you.
  3586. >Felt really cozy, and a long look in the mirror showed it was definitely cute.
  3587. “I love it.”
  3588. >You checked the price tag; just twenty five dollars.
  3589. “And I’m getting it.”
  3590. >Chad nodded and started walking back to the checkout.
  3591. >”Sounds like a plan.”
  3592.  
  3593. >You took one last look at yourself in the mirror
  3594. >The scarf matched perfectly, an excellent complement for your bright blue eyes while being neutral enough to look great against your white fur.
  3595. >You smiled, one of your ears flicked a little.
  3596. >Then you frowned.
  3597. “Shit.”
  3598. >Your mane was getting astray again, kept falling in your eyes.
  3599. >You arranged it as best you could with your hooves, making the blonde strands drape across your neck and settle around your chest.
  3600. >Then you followed Chad, not even bothering to take off the scarf.
  3601. >YOUR scarf.
  3602. >The walk back to the checkout was even more boring than the walk over, unfortunately.
  3603. >Moist Nougat had long ago been escorted out, and there seemed to be nothing but a vacuum left where there used to be the optimal people watching subjects from before.
  3604. >What time was it anyway?
  3605. >You stopped by the empty electronics section and stuck your head into your right saddlebag, digging out your cellphone.
  3606. >You bit down gently on the home button to bring up your lock screen.
  3607. >Staring cross eyed down your muzzle, you could just make out the time.
  3608. >Six PM.
  3609. >You tucked the phone back into your saddlebag.
  3610. >It was about time you left, the mall was wearying.
  3611. >You yawned and kept walking, trotting a little quicker so you could catch up to Chad.
  3612. >Man, your yawns were so tiny.
  3613. >You didn’t want to fall asleep before you got to the bar.
  3614. >Chances were that you and Chad were just gonna have a pair of drinks before heading back to the dorm for more anyway.
  3615. >Archer wasn’t even tending the bar tonight.
  3616. >Another teensy yawn severed you from your line of thought.
  3617. >”Oh my gosh! That’s adoooorrrableee!”
  3618.  
  3619. >You turned to look at who spoke, hoof halfway up to wave.
  3620. >It was the twenty something blonde from earlier in the bathroom.
  3621. >She had that same manic joy on her face like she was going to snuggle you into an early grave.
  3622. >Fuck no.
  3623. >You grimaced and turned tail, galloping after Chad.
  3624. >Well you hoped you were galloping after him, really you were galloping to the cash register since you’d lost sight of Chad a while ago.
  3625. “Pleasepleaseplease.”
  3626. >Every corner you rounded, you desperately hoped you’d see Chad there waiting.
  3627. >Three corners now and still no luck.
  3628. >You spared a glance over your back.
  3629. >The crazy blonde was after you, hollering your name and screeching about how:
  3630. >”YOU LOOK SOOOO CUTE WHEN YOU GALLOP! OH MY GOSH YOUR PRECIOUS LITTLE HOOVES AND YOUR SWIPEY SWOOPEY LITTLE TAIL AND-“
  3631. >You started to panic a little, you were a pretty fast mover now and you had the long distance advantage here, but her shouting was only going to draw in more crazies.
  3632. >And you had to stop at the register to pay for your scarf.
  3633. >Back to looking ahead.
  3634. “Come on… This one…”
  3635. >Another corner, you sped through the sporting goods section, hooves clopping and tail brushing fishing poles and gun cases on racks.
  3636. >Chad was still nowhere to be found.
  3637. >He must be looking for you though right?
  3638. >Of course he would be, Chad had your back, period.
  3639. >Another corner, another spiel about how adorable your ears were from the crazy lady hounding you.
  3640. >But…
  3641. >Maybe that was the problem?
  3642. >What if Chad was looking for you in the wrong places?
  3643. >Your heart beat faster at the thought.
  3644. >No no no, he’d wait at the cash register.
  3645.  
  3646. >Calm the fuck down Anon, Jesus.
  3647. >You snorted and checked on the mad blonde again.
  3648. >She was starting to lag behind already and her breathing was unsteady.
  3649. >That brought a smirk to your muzzle.
  3650. >You hadn’t even broken a sweat yet, hell, if you were still human you wouldn’t have broken a sweat yet either.
  3651. >You’d be fine.
  3652. >Giggling, you picked up the pace even more, dashing through the cosmetics section and leaping over a stacked pyramid of deodorant.
  3653. >”Please wait up cutie! I just want to pet you a little!”
  3654. >Your lips pursed, and you very nearly stopped on the word “pet” alone.
  3655. >Then you remembered how that bitch had tugged on your tail.
  3656. “No. You’ve lost your chance!”
  3657. >Head down, galloping through the aisles, you didn’t look back again.
  3658. >You made one last dash through the school supplies department, knocking over as many of those pencil cases filled with shitty fucking Tri-Conderoga pencils as you could with your tail.
  3659. >Finally you were there, the line of registers just off to the side of the mall entrance.
  3660. >Peeking behind you, you’d lost the nutso blondie a while ago.
  3661. >You smiled and pranced over to the nearest cash register to pay for your new scarf, eyes wandering here and there trying to find Chad.
  3662. >No luck on that end unfortunately, but you weren’t too worried.
  3663. >If worst came to worst you’d just have to text him, which would be hard, but probably not impossible.
  3664. >Still smiling, you took your scarf off and set it on the counter for the cashier to scan.
  3665. >Dude looked fucking soulless to be quite honest.
  3666. >He had big dark circles under his eyes, close cut black hair with a clean shaven face.
  3667. >There was hardly a glimmer in those orbs of his when took in your looks.
  3668. >His voice came out as a low monotonous droning.
  3669. >”Thank you for shopping at Wal-Mart today ma’am. Did you find everything you wanted?”
  3670. >You nodded, cheerily, and threw him a grin with a wink.
  3671. “Yep!”
  3672.  
  3673. >Stillness, silence, the cashier didn’t move a muscle as he stared at you.
  3674. >You kept your grin up, surely he just needed some cheering up.
  3675. >As a general rule, you tried to be nice to store clerks, mostly because you’d been in that world of shit before.
  3676. >Still staring into your eyes, he scanned the tag on your scarf.
  3677. >”That’ll be…”
  3678. >The cashier looked away, checking his monitor for the price.
  3679. >…
  3680. >After a few minutes of silence, you tried to peek over at his screen.
  3681. “What’s-“
  3682. >The cashier sighed loudly and slammed his fist down on a big red button by his keyboard.
  3683. >You heard the intercoms throughout the store crackle to life.
  3684. >”Dylan to the registers. Dylan to the registers please.”
  3685. >Then the cashier turned to look down at you, setting his elbows on the counter.
  3686. >”It’ll be a minute or two ma’am.”
  3687. >You perked a brow and smirked.
  3688. “You mean five, or ten if Dylan is too busy blowing the manager in the back room.”
  3689. >For once you saw a little flicker of life in that cashier’s eyes.
  3690. >”Ha.”
  3691. >…
  3692. >Just like you’d guessed unfortunately, it really was going to be ten minutes.
  3693. >You sat down and got comfortable.
  3694. >The cashier just slumped a bit further, staring down at the floor.
  3695. >Then he looked up all of a sudden, sparing a few glances around.
  3696. >You took a look see too, he was the only register open, and it was just you and him around.
  3697. >All of a sudden you remembered something.
  3698. “Ah.”
  3699. >You stuck your head into your left saddlebag and tugged out your hoodie, tossing it on the ground at your hooves.
  3700. >Then you stuck your muzzle into the left hoof pocket, gently nipping at something papery…
  3701.  
  3702. >You clamped down softly and pulled out a rollie.
  3703. >The cashier watched, you couldn’t tell if he was curious or not
  3704. >It was that one cig Chad rolled for you by the Atrium.
  3705. >You set the ciggy in your right fore hoof, it was kind of crinkled and bent from being in your hoodie all day.
  3706. >So you brought your other fore hoof up and fixed it up some, rolling it between your hooves.
  3707. >Then you smiled and held it up to the cashier.
  3708. >Without a word, he picked it up and took a good look at it.
  3709. >Finally, the cashier smiled.
  3710. >It was a really, really small one, and it only lasted a second before he fell back into that casual moroseness, but you’d call that a victory.
  3711. >”Nice. Here…”
  3712. >The cashier put the rollie in his mouth and pulled a cigarette carton out of his pocket.
  3713. >”They’re not quite as high quality so…”
  3714. >You hopped up on your hind legs, fore hooves on the counter so that the cashier didn’t have to bend over to put two of his cigarettes in your mouth.
  3715. “Fanks.”
  3716. >”No problem. Here.”
  3717. >Whipping out a zippo, he had his gifted rollie and one of your cigs lit in double time.
  3718. >You nodded appreciatively before stepping back down on the ground to put your extra cig away inside your coat pocket.
  3719. >It was nice and quiet right then, the mall noises seemed to be sucked up by the cigarette smoke.
  3720. >You sat and puffed away, relaxed, watching all that smoke float up and into the rafters with the lights.
  3721. >The cashier seemed more at ease, his false professionalism had melted away.
  3722. >He took a long drag off the rollie, then held it up and stared at it again, nodding his head approvingly.
  3723. >”You roll good cigarettes, Keyboard.”
  3724. >It surprised you, being called that so suddenly.
  3725. >But you got over it quick.
  3726. >You smiled and shook your head.
  3727. “Naw, Chad rolls them.”
  3728.  
  3729. >The cashier grunted back in acknowledgement.
  3730. >A minute or two passed, just smoking.
  3731. “So what’s your name?”
  3732. >”Frank.”
  3733. >You let out a wispy cloud of smoke, ending off with a few big O’s.
  3734. “Thanks for the cigarettes Frank.”
  3735. >Frank shrugged and did a quick check around to make sure nobody was watching.
  3736. >”Eh, you gave me the better one.”
  3737. >That was true.
  3738. >You were starting to regret that a little to be honest, you’d been spoiled on Chad’s rollies for too long to really like the taste of store bought crap.
  3739. >The buzz wasn’t too bad though, so you could tolerate it.
  3740. >All of a sudden, Frank reached under the counter and pulled out a big, black body pillow.
  3741. >He laid it out in front of him and patted it, his face as unreadable as ever.
  3742. >”This thing is a leftover from a clearance sale, no tags on it. Do me a favor and take it off my hands would you?”
  3743. >Regrets?
  3744. >Get that shit outta here.
  3745. >You grinned and jumped up on the counter.
  3746. >Being careful not to let your cig touch the pillow, you lied down on it, sinking into all that comfy.
  3747. >Smiling contentedly, you blew smoke out of your nostrils as you wiggled around, getting into just the right position with your fore hooves tucked under your chest.
  3748. “Sure. But you have to do me one too.”
  3749. >”Name it.”
  3750. >You eyed up Frank from your regal pose on the body pillow, one brow perked.
  3751. “I need you to make an announcement over the intercom, ask Chad to come here.”
  3752. >Frank nodded and turned away from you, pushing that big red button down again.
  3753. >His voice echoed throughout the Wal-Mart.
  3754. >”Would Chad please come to the cash registers at the mall entrance? Chad to the mall entrance registers please, there’s a horse here for you.”
  3755.  
  3756. >You giggled and rolled your eyes.
  3757. >Frank smiled again, before taking a seat on the counter top, next to your pillow.
  3758. >He butted his rollie out and tossed it in the trash by his feet.
  3759. >You did the same with your cigarette, then you snuggled even further down into your pillow, making sure your tail covered you up nicely.
  3760. >Frank’s monitor said it was six twenty.
  3761. >Dylan would be here any minute then.
  3762. >You frowned and tapped Frank’s shoulder to catch his attention.
  3763. “Dylan gonna freak if he sees this?”
  3764. >Frank’s brows shot up, he was probably surprised that someone might actually care if he got fired or not.
  3765. >”Yeah. He’s just a brown noser though, and not even a good one. Management wouldn’t believe him if he told them about this.”
  3766. >A grin worked its way onto your muzzle as you realized how clever Frank had been calling Dylan over.
  3767. >He got to piss Dylan off and hang out with an adorable pony who smoked, all in one fell swoop.
  3768. “I like the way you think Frank.”
  3769. >Frank just shrugged, but you could see a grin somewhere in those eyes.
  3770. >”Me too.”
  3771. >”What the HELL is this?”
  3772. >Your ears perked up and you turned to look.
  3773. >There was an employee striding angrily up to you and Frank.
  3774. >Must be Dylan, his uniform was well ironed.
  3775. >But it had a coffee stain on one of the pant legs, the tell-tale sign of a shitty employee who thinks he’s an exemplary one.
  3776. >Frank eased out of his seat on the counter, morose again.
  3777. >”The tag on this scarf isn’t working.”
  3778. >Dylan huffed, standing with his fists pressed into his hips as he glared at you.
  3779. >He was a tall and lanky specimen, with longer, scraggly brown hair.
  3780. >”Ma’am, would you please step off of the counter.”
  3781. >You ignored him, stretching out your fore legs and yawning, ears flopped back.
  3782.  
  3783. >Dylan glared at Frank now.
  3784. >”Frank. Would you stop standing around and HELP ME?”
  3785. >Sighing, Frank tapped away at his keyboard.
  3786. >”So yeah, the tag isn’t working. You got the password to access all the price listings right? I think the scarf might have just had a price adjustment or something...”
  3787. >You had to stuff a hoof in your mouth to stop yourself from laughing in Dylan’s face.
  3788. >The way Frank just ignored him so easily, not a single misstep in that deep monotonous tone at all.
  3789. >Dylan stood there, shaking with impotent rage, his furious glare switching between you and Frank every second or so.
  3790. >Finally Dylan seemed to come to the conclusion that it was best just to get it over with as soon as possible so he could leave and get back to… Whatever it was he was supposed to be doing.
  3791. >Dylan walked around and behind the counter and Frank moved aside politely to let him at the register.
  3792. >You stared around the store, watching for Chad while Dylan and Frank talked over the issue with your scarf.
  3793. >”You scared the hell out of me Anon.”
  3794. >Your head whipped around, brows shooting up.
  3795. >Chad was there, smiling and mussing up your mane.
  3796. >After the initial surprise, you smiled back.
  3797. “Sorry about that. I fell behind.”
  3798. >”Just glad you’re alright. Nice pillow.”
  3799. >Chad looked at it, a little confused, but impressed nonetheless.
  3800. >You turned your snout up, smirking.
  3801. “Yeah. It is a nice pillow. Mine too.”
  3802. >Frank tapped you on the withers.
  3803. >”Got it working… You’re lucky, just went on sale for fifteen seventy five.”
  3804. >You stood up, stretching out all your limbs.
  3805. >Dylan glared at you again, you made sure to smirk at him before hopping off of the counter and reaching into your saddlebags.
  3806. >Out came your money clip.
  3807. >You set it on the floor and pulled out the cash necessary, then you mouthed it to Frank.
  3808.  
  3809. >”Here’s your change.”
  3810. >Frank handed it off to Chad so he could dump it all in your saddlebag with your money clip.
  3811. >Finally, the scarf was really yours.
  3812. “Thanks Frank.”
  3813. >”Your welcome, Keyboard.”
  3814. >Frank nodded, all business again.
  3815. >You got your hoodie zipped up, then you snatched up the scarf and put it on.
  3816. >Right where it belonged.
  3817. >Chad grabbed your new pillow as you walked out of the store.
  3818. >You spared a glance and a wave behind you at Frank on the way out.
  3819. >Frank did a little wave back, still morose, before he got back to ignoring Dylan’s complaining.
  3820. >You liked his kind of morose.
  3821.  
  3822. >The mall lobby was decently packed with raving fans, but not near the flash mob levels you’d been expecting.
  3823. >You stayed right beside Chad, but you weren’t too concerned.
  3824. >Chad wasn’t either, he was shooting off a quick few texts on his phone as the both of you walked over to the exit, just starting to wade into the press.
  3825. “So where’s Tammy and Thot?”
  3826. >Chad tucked away his phone and adjusted his grip on your new pillow, setting himself up to clear a path for you.
  3827. >”They took a bus back to the dorm for their party, I just texted them so they know I found you.”
  3828. >You nodded, then waved at a little boy screaming your name.
  3829. “Guess we should head back too, drop off the pillow before we hit the bar.”
  3830. >Chad nodded back, muscling some teenage girl trying to get your autograph out of the way.
  3831. >”That’s the plan.”
  3832. >Looking back, you saw the hoodie the girl was wearing.
  3833. >It was designed to look like you, all white with ears on the hood, a blonde fleece mane and a blonde fleece tail on the back, right above the butt.
  3834. “I have to get my hooves on one of those.”
  3835. >Chad grunted in acknowledgement without really looking, he was too busy getting people to move out of the way.
  3836. >It took some more pushing and hurried hello goodbyes, but finally you and Chad reached the mall entrance.
  3837. >You pushed the door open and held it for Chad, breath fogging in the night air.
  3838. >There was a faint snow coming down, just a few drifting flakes against the light coming off of the streetlamps.
  3839. >Cars zoomed back and forth on the road, all covered in salt stains and ice.
  3840. >Leading the way, Chad started off left up the hill and away from the shopping district.
  3841. >You pulled your hood up and followed, hooves clopping against the sidewalk.
  3842. >The bus stop wasn’t all that far away, you could see it all lit up, halfway up the hill.
  3843. >A quick check behind you showed that there was no one following you from the mall.
  3844. >Sweet.
  3845.  
  3846. >Chad stuck a rollie in his mouth as he walked along, he had to use his hand to stop the cutting breeze from blowing out his lighter.
  3847. >You trotted ahead of him, eager to sit down again.
  3848. >The bus stop lean to was just that teensy bit warmer, and it kept most of the wind out.
  3849. >You sighed as you hopped up on the bench inside, sitting up straight.
  3850. >Felt nice after all that walking and standing around in the mall.
  3851. >Chad sat down next to you, puffing away without a word as he texted on his cellphone.
  3852. >You peeked on him for a little, watching his back and forth between Tammy.
  3853. >Most of Tammy’s responses were unintelligible, but somehow Chad managed to keep up some semblance of a dialogue, which was pretty much all cursing.
  3854. >Chad and you both had a good laugh about it, no words needed to be exchanged.
  3855. >Giggling and shaking your head, you looked away and at the sky.
  3856. >The moon was out and full, skirting behind clouds when it could, but it mostly stood bare.
  3857. >From this spot on the hill, you could look over much of the city.
  3858. >Buildings lit like towers of ivory, streets lined with stars, then the water of the bay gleaming from the light of the cities bordering either end of it.
  3859. >Both bridges were open and lit today too, adding to the effect.
  3860. >It was like a second sun had touched down in the harbor.
  3861. >Shame the city sun blotted out all the real stars with light pollution, it made you wish you were back in Mustad again.
  3862. >Hell, it made you wish you were back at the Camp again.
  3863. >Watching the river.
  3864. >…
  3865. >You shivered.
  3866. >Chad was still texting and smoking.
  3867. >Your ears flopped down and your muzzle scrunched.
  3868. >You shuffled over to him, pressing yourself up against his side a little awkwardly.
  3869. >Chad moved almost immediately, he unzipped his coat and wrapped it around you without a word, then zipped it back up again so that your head was sticking out of the top with his.
  3870. >You swear you whinnied, but if Chad heard then he didn’t say anything about it.
  3871.  
  3872. >He just put away his cellphone and kept himself busy smoking.
  3873. >You were blushing furiously, not meeting his eyes as you shifted your hooves around.
  3874. >As hard as you tried to find a different position, the least awkward one was where you were pretty much in his lap.
  3875. >You could FEEL his heart beating.
  3876. >Could he feel yours?
  3877. >For some reason you felt really strongly about that, your heartbeat quickened and you snorted.
  3878. >Was Chad staring at you?
  3879. >You didn’t want to turn your head to check.
  3880. >It was really cozy inside Chad’s coat, his body heat was warming you right up.
  3881. >Body heat, you were sharing body heat.
  3882. >That was all right, that was normal, average, nothing to freak out about.
  3883. >You were alright.
  3884. >You weren’t even freaking out!
  3885. >Hadn’t even come close to it, freak out aver-
  3886. >Something just booped your nose.
  3887. >You stared cross eyed down your muzzle, Chad’s finger was there, booping you right on the snout.
  3888. >Your muzzle scrunched up again as your gaze flicked to Chad’s face, blush intensifying.
  3889. >Chad was smiling.
  3890. >”Heh.”
  3891. >You were fairly certain that heart rates like yours weren’t normal.
  3892. >Your eyes were about as wide open as they could get, and your brain was melting.
  3893. “Hasanyonereallybeenfarevenasdecidedtouseevengowanttodolookmorelike?”
  3894. >Chad blinked.
  3895. >”What.”
  3896. >You smooched Chad.
  3897.  
  3898.  
  3899. End of PEER PRESSURE. Next: TEMPTING TENSION

SUPER MEGA FIGHTING ROBOT RAINBOW DASH

by PTFG

The Witching Hour

by PTFG

The Mare in the Mirror

by PTFG

TEMPTING TENSION

by PTFG

PEER PRESSURE

by PTFG