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/bootleg/ Twilit Starsky

By BlondieAnon
Created: 13th January 2022 03:04:31 AM
3rd May 2022 03:26:37 AM

  1. >Another day done at work
  2. >Another drive home
  3. "Hey guys, I'm home."
  4. >You say to an empty house
  5. >It isn't barren, the living room is comfy and furnished
  6. >The dining room has an heirloom table and chairs that have been around since the late 1800s
  7. >The upstairs bedrooms are clean with made beds and clothes tucked away
  8. >It really is quite a place
  9. >Just as he left it
  10. >You slip off your coat and hat and set it on the couch and go to the other set of stairs
  11. >Toward the basement
  12. >You tend to never leave the basement
  13. >It may as well be your own little home
  14. >You have your posters set up
  15. >Consoles
  16. >Computer
  17. >A snack fridge
  18. >An old, broken down couch and a pair of loveseats
  19. >Even a full bathroom
  20. >You remember when you used to help set up the sheetrock to insulate the place and sweep up
  21. >Helping haul down the toilet sucked five flavors of ass but it works like a dream
  22. >Even better, the bathroom has it's own window for steam to escape
  23. >You plop down on the couch
  24. >You used to sleep on it when you were just a kid
  25. >And you still do now
  26. >Without much to do or think, you turn on the TV
  27. >After a few hours of rewatching sitcoms like Third Rock From The Sun and Scrubs, you decide it's time to eat
  28. >You only stock the basement fridge with drinks and smaller snacks so you trudge upstairs and to the kitchen
  29. >Today's menu: steak with some heavy dashing of garlic and onion powder
  30. >Once you safely pass the territory of medium rare yo-
  31. >You hear knocking on the door
  32. >That's odd
  33. >The kitchen door leads to the backyard
  34. >You only go to the backyard to mow the grass if it gets too high
  35. >You don't see anyone so it's probably a prank
  36. >You open it anyway
  37. >"Heeey man. You wouldn't happen to be able to spare a couple eggs or somethin', would'ja?"
  38. >What in the God damn
  39. >You look down
  40. >You see a royal blue horse with a purple mane
  41. >With a streak of bright red going from the straight-cut bangs down all the way to nearly the ground
  42. "...eggs?"
  43. >"Yeah, man. My friend and I are... you know. Hungry? And she thought it would be great if we could have an omelet but we moved into the neighborhood recently and we're seriously strapped for cash."
  44. >She has this calm croak in her voice and a comfortable gleam in her eye that makes you think she could fall asleep any second now
  45. >At least she smells like lemons
  46. >So you suppose that's nice
  47. "Uh... sure... alright. Lemme check real quick."
  48.  
  49. >You've seen ponies like that before
  50. >Not that often but you suppose they're just growing to be more popular these days
  51. >Nudging what you've called The Door Rock into the corner of the back door, you flip your steak before zipping to the fridge
  52. "I got... six eggs for you. And I got a third a bag of shredded cheese if you want that too?"
  53. >It has only a week left before expiration and you really don't have any plans on cheesing it up
  54. >"Dude, really? That would be sweet."
  55. >You take the half occupied carton and the bag...
  56. >If she and whoever moved in recently and have an empty fridge, you could probably afford to give just more than some cast off items
  57. >You mumble to yourself about the weight of such generosity out of nowhere but it ends up with you filling a paper bag with the eggs, the cheese, an unopened pack of bologna and your loaf of oatmeal bread
  58. >You really only bought that loaf yesterday
  59. >But your apparent new neighbor could probably use it more than you
  60. >It's not like you have rent or a mortgage to pay
  61. "Alright... so I got some bread and bologna with it. It's not a ton but it's good for a few sandwiches or something, right?"
  62. >You hold out the bag... to what would have been a human-sized target
  63. >The pony is still looking up at you, nonplussed by the faux pas
  64. >"Bro, you're awesome! You're like, a big bro. I'm serious."
  65. >You shrug and set the bag down on the floor
  66. "Nah, don't worry about it. I don't want to be rude and give you too much or whatever. And you gotta have more than just one meal available, right?"
  67. >You consider the deal done and go back to tending to your meat
  68. >You expected the pony to take the bag and wander off
  69. >But she's still just sitting there
  70. >She looks around the kitchen, and into what little she can of the living room
  71. >"Bruh... you got a really nice house."
  72. "Thanks. It's not mine though."
  73. >"Ooh. House sittin' then?"
  74. "Yup."
  75. >"Who for?"
  76. >You slice a little bit off of your steak and taste test it
  77. >It's edible
  78. >More so, it's good
  79. >Maybe give it another minute and you can just eat it off the skillet
  80. "Eh. My dad. He's really the one who populated the place, I just helped set it up a few years back."
  81. >"Oh... cool. Real cool."
  82. >You can see her nodding to herself
  83. >That red streak really stands out
  84. >You've seen the ponies come out in all sorts of tones and colors so it isn't that...
  85. >Is "unrealistic" the word, given what you're talking to?
  86. >"Where is he, traveling the world or somethin'?"
  87. >You had a feeling that question would come up
  88. >You prepare yourself with a deep inhale
  89. "He's... uh. On the book shelf. With his mom. And my mom too. And his older brother, though he was always off doing his own thing anyway."
  90. >"Heh, well that's silly, what are th..."
  91. >The pony trails off
  92. >To be fair, it is a pretty esoteric way to put it
  93. >"Oh... I'm sorry. I didn't mean to."
  94. >That almost surfer chick tone melts into something far more...
  95. >Scared?
  96.  
  97. >Before she can apologize more, you wave it away with the shake of your tongs
  98. "Nah, you're alright. I promise. Around last year was when it happened. And we both knew it was going to happen. It's just... you know. One of those things."
  99. >If you weren't focusing on your steak, you'd probably be more vulnerable to it
  100. >If you hadn't already focused on it for months
  101. >"I'm sorry, still. For this food, are you really sure it's ok?"
  102. "Yeah, I don't mind it. But next time, if I give you more, can you whip up a share for me?"
  103. >You honestly don't expect to see this pony again except in passing
  104. >But it's nice to at least talk like it could happen
  105. >She doesn't answer immediately
  106. >When she does, part of her surfer voice comes back
  107. >"Y... yeah, dude! Definitely! You're the man, man."
  108. >You see her reach out to bite down on the bag but she stops
  109. >"Oh yeah. Could I get your name, Mr. Neighbor?"
  110. "Yeah, it's Anonymous. Same as my dad, but you can just stick with Anon. Or A. Or anything that starts with A."
  111. >She laughs
  112. >It sounds like even she didn't expect to have that reaction
  113. >"Alright, Mr. A! Mr. Awesome. Alouicious..."
  114. >She sounds happy with that
  115. >"I'm Twilit Starsky. I moved here with my bro, Lizzie. I mean, she's not my brother-bro. More like... a sister? But she's a total bro. You'd like her."
  116. >She grab the bag and holds her head up high and proud
  117. >She says something through closed teeth that you think sounds like 'thanks again, Mr. A' and trots off
  118. >...
  119. >Well that was a thing
  120. >If it was maybe a half hour later you wouldn't have even seen her if it wasn't for that streak
  121. >You go back to focusing on your steak, keeping the backyard door open
  122. >The fresh air mixed with meat and seasoning helps you think
  123. "Ah... crap."
  124. >The only issue is that by the time you realize what's what, the steak had ended up a charred bit of leather
  125. >And the sun had set
  126. "...sorry. I think I botched your recipe."
  127. >Well, as he said, you can fail with food but it's not that bad a failure if you can still eat it
  128.  
  129. >Despite Saturday being a day you don't work, you still wake up at roughly the same time
  130. >Just as well, you were thirsty too
  131. >Maybe you just woke up because you needed a drink
  132. >You trudge up stairs and refill your thermos
  133. >It keeps cold water cold for hours
  134. >For breakfast, maybe you co-
  135. >tap tap tap
  136. >Huh?
  137. "...huh?"
  138. >You hear more tapping
  139. >It's coming from the door to the backyard
  140. >"Dude! Let me in! I'm a pony!"
  141. >That voice sounds familiar
  142. >You open the door just a crack
  143. >It's that Starsky pony
  144. >She beams at you through the opening
  145. >"Don't you believe in ponies?"
  146. >You never felt like you needed to, honestly
  147. >All the same you open the door more
  148. "Good morning, Starsky. Where's Hutch?"
  149. >"She's watching the car, man."
  150. >She trots in, her mane and tail so long it's just barely touching the ground
  151. >That can't be easy to maintain
  152. >"Thanks for letting me in, Mr. A. You remember when you gave me the eggs and the cheese and the other stuff?"
  153. >Of course you remember
  154. >You still wistfully think about how delicious that bread would have been
  155. "Yeah. How'd it turn out?"
  156. >"Well... it turns out Lizzy was a little bit more wild than I thought."
  157. >What does that mean?
  158. >"Ha ha... yeah, man... she kinda thought I somehow found them from, like, a real chicken coop? So she kinda freaked out and... you know. Kinda tossed them out."
  159. >She's doing her best to keep that lazy smile but her eyes are down
  160. >"But... she really digs the bread! And the cold cuts, for sure. So we've been doing that."
  161. >You're a little disappointed that the eggs were wasted
  162. >Not that you particularly care
  163. >But it's a tiny needle that just pokes into your head
  164. "A bit more wild, huh... she drink or something?"
  165. >Since you're having this conversation now, you may as well put the kettle on
  166. >A little hot tea and oatmeal sounds nice
  167. >...
  168. >You're not even in your 30s yet but you couldn't be more of an old man today
  169. >"Oh dude, party animal!"
  170. >Starsky nods to herself
  171. >"And some other stuff. Man, she's wild..."
  172. >Her tone shifts ever so slightly from the airy, comfortable aura of slackerdom...
  173. >And drops off just a little
  174. >"...kinda thought she'd mellow out by now, actually."
  175. >Great
  176. >Your new neighbor isn't even a pot head but some party animal
  177. >At least her... talking purple pony is sober
  178. >That thought stupefies and amazes you, all at once
  179. >You shake your head with lifted eyebrows to clear your mind
  180. "That... yeah, I guess everyone has that phase, huh? She a, what, college student and moved in with someone here?"
  181. >She shakes her head with a giggle
  182. >"Naaaaah, Mr. A it ain't like that. She's already finished it!"
  183. >Well that sounds more respectful
  184. "Cool. What does she do?"
  185. >"She works at the skate park like a half hour from here. She's been going there for yeaaaaaaars now, for real."
  186. >Somehow that sounds about right to you
  187. >You were never a skater though you have stepped on a friend's board at least twice
  188. "Nice. Well, at least you guys are getting along alright."
  189.  
  190. >You already have your bowl set up, and a nice blend of packets
  191. >Two apple cinnamon
  192. >Two gingerbread spice
  193. >"Yeah... but... uh."
  194. >Her head leans back and forth
  195. >"You know how sometimes you get so excited and sometimes do something without telling someone? Yeah, she kinda... did that with me. And that half hour? Dude, even by car that's a suuuper long distance. And I kinda don't know where we are."
  196. >She's asking for a ride, isn't she
  197. >You really don't want to go outside today, much less drive
  198. >Much less drive an hour round trip
  199. "You wanna go hang out with her?"
  200. >She answers almost too quickly
  201. >"No way, hombre!"
  202. >You look at each other like you both realized she said that a little too readily
  203. >"I mean... nah, bro. Skating's fun and all but... you know. Sometimes I just want to just chill and land."
  204. >Who is she, the protector of the emerald and gems?
  205. >...you're not sure why that's what you thought
  206. >The way she said it, it reminded you of that one song
  207. >You don't immediately answer
  208. >That makes everything feel that much more awkward
  209. >"...is it ok if I just, like, chill with you for a bit, Mr. A? I mean, only until Lizzy comes back. Or I guess, until you wanna send me home. It's totes cool, we got this... like, doggy door? And I can just go in, it's awesome. I don't even gotta have a key. We could even hang out there too, you know?"
  210. >She's overselling herself pretty hard
  211. >You really don't have it in you to just send her off
  212. >Especially since she doesn't seem to like being alone like this
  213. "I'll have you know I'm not answering yet because I'm thinking really hard on something."
  214. >"...oh. Gonna have a brain blast?"
  215. "Yeah."
  216. >Screw it, it's a Saturday
  217. "What type of oatmeal you like?"
  218. >That question brings such a genuine smile to her face
  219. >"Bro, you got types?? Well lay it on me, senpai!"
  220. >You show her the variety packs you have
  221. >Far too many variety packs, honestly
  222. >But you were raised to always keep a healthy stockpile of what you like, and oatmeal fit in pretty well with your peanut butter supply
  223. >You still haven't yet tried to put peanut butter in the oatmeal
  224. >You've heard it could win awards
  225. >She decides on banana walnut
  226. >"Bro, I could eat a banana so quick you'd swear I was a third spider monkey or something. I don't know where the spider comes in? But definitely spider monkey."
  227. >At least she didn't say howler monkey
  228. >Since she's officially your guest now, you use what water was in the kettle to mix up her bowl
  229. >You refill the kettle and set it on
  230. "I feel weird just putting it on the floor. I... normally don't use it, but you alright with eating on the couch in the living room?"
  231. >You kinda don't want her in the basement
  232. >And to be honest, you really can't keep isolating yourself in there
  233. >It makes the house feel that much more depressing
  234. >"Mr. A, you're awesome! Yeah, I mean nah, you can just set the bowl down yonder and I'll be happy but being able to sit all comfy-like and eat? That would be the best."
  235. "Sounds like a plan then."
  236.  
  237. >The only worry that you have is that the little twig at the end of her tail might contain more than just a twig and most likely some dirt
  238. >But screw it, it's Saturday
  239. >Once the kettle sounds off, you mix your packets in
  240. >With both bowls primed, yours with spoon, you head to the living room couch
  241. "Hey Star, you mind closing the door? I don't usually leave it open."
  242. >"You got it, Mr. A!"
  243. >You were half expecting her to just kick the door but a short glance back reveals that she just nudges it with her shoulder until it closes
  244. >She's pretty well mannered
  245. >You plop down on the living room couch and immediately feel relief
  246. >He was so excited to buy this goofy couch
  247. >Electric settings to adjust three points, the leg rests come out so far that you could effectively turn your seat into a one-man bed
  248. >And it even comes with USB ports for phone charging
  249. >You reckon it's your couch
  250. >You still wish it wasn't
  251. >You see the seat on the opposite end of the couch whirr to life
  252. >The leg rest goes up maybe halfway
  253. >Starsky, rather than jumping up, uses the leg rest as a ramp to walk up
  254. >She really seems to be as mellow as she talks
  255. >"Hope you don't mind me switching on your couch, dude. Lizzy's first boyfriend's dad's living room's couch was kinda like this one. Made it super comfy. Does it even have like, the heated seats and all that?"
  256. >You have no clue what she said in that middle part but you understood exactly what she meant
  257. "Heating? Not that I remember. Honestly, I haven't messed with all that much out here for a while."
  258. >"Yeah, man... don't worry, I get it. You're cool in my books."
  259. >You set her bowl down where it will be most stable and reach for...
  260. >Oh God damn it
  261. >Your old man had such a hard on for new tech that he was all too proud to show off that he had four remote controls
  262. >You only need one to turn the TV on
  263. >"It's the Toshiba one, Mr. A. That's the TV brand and the speakers and the Blu-Ray player you got over there are different brands. And that fourth one looks like a universal remote so maybe that might work too? I don't know how it's all set up."
  264. >You really didn't expect that
  265. "That's... insightful."
  266. >You follow her advice and sure enough, it turns on
  267. "That was too good to be an idle guess. You a tech guru or something?"
  268. >Starsky giggles again, bobbing her head front to back
  269. >"Nah man, I'm just, like, really good with stuff like gadgets. It speaks to me, you know? Plus Lizzy really doesn't know how to work a toaster so I kinda gotta step in and stuff."
  270. >Fair enough
  271. >Neat skillset to have, as surprising as the package may be
  272. "Well, since you saved the day, what do you wanna watch?"
  273. >"Saturday morning cartoons, man! I used to watch that stuff all the time when I was a little billy of a filly."
  274. "Sounds good to me."
  275. >You're starting to think that this pony really is like this and it isn't just some sort of quirky way to get access into strangers' homes
  276.  
  277.  
  278. >You didn't have anything better to do with your day but you still ended up just... watching cartoons with the pony
  279. >Every now and again she'll laugh and speak the lines
  280. >Some of these things really crack her up
  281. >You'll admit, some of those jokes have aged flawlessly
  282. >Only when you notice the sun is going down do you realize she spent the entire day here with you
  283. >And you even skipped lunch
  284. >You wait until the end of a Scooby Doo episode before speaking
  285. "Man, we spent all day just kinda hanging out."
  286. >"We sure did, Mr. A. Some of those things, I haven't watched in soooo long."
  287. "Yeah... so, you think Lizzy finally came back home?"
  288. >Starsky gave a slow, winding 'ehhhhh'
  289. >"She probably is, if she didn't shack up with her guy."
  290. "What, her boyfriend?"
  291. >"Nahhh, she is more the free love sort of thing, you dig?"
  292. >Not really
  293. >If anything, it makes you think that you should be a little more cautious if and when you meet her
  294. "I guess. Wanna head over there and see if she's home? If nothing else, I can't let you go home alone now it's dark. Not like I did last time, anyway."
  295. >Starsky giggles
  296. >"Woah, you're such a gentleman. That's a really cool thing to do. Would you really be alright with it?"
  297. >You stand, stretching out your arms and giving a loud yawn
  298. "I don't see why not. I know this neighborhood well enough, it's not like there's any real risk to it."
  299. >She stands up and gingerly trots down the angled leg rest until she lands on the hardwood floor with a clop
  300. >She stretches as well, pushing her front down and hiking her behind up
  301. >Thankfully her overgrown tail stops the motion from being... obscene
  302. "So which house are you?"
  303. >"Mm? Juuuuuuuust a second, dude. Alllllllmost..."
  304. >She swishes her hips back and forth, arching her back and her neck in various ways
  305. >It wasn't like you were watching but the tail moved just enough for it to no longer be in the way
  306. >You shouldn't be caught off guard but you are
  307. >It suffices to say that if these things were ever robots, they were at least built down to the finest detail
  308. >"Alright!"
  309. >She bounces upright and looks behind her shoulder to you
  310. >"I'm trusting you to not get lost, Mr. A. It's a big world out there, right?"
  311. "R-right."
  312. >She smiles at seeing your face
  313. >You can't imagine why
  314. >You grab your keys on the way out and lock the back door before going into the back yard
  315. >You do have a big privacy wall
  316. >And it apparently has a big gap in the gate
  317. >The gate is large enough to allow you to park your car in the backyard if you needed to
  318. >Your dad used to bring his old rust bucket in at least once a month to change the oil and tweak other things
  319. >What was that saying?
  320. >'Never drive a mechanic's car'?
  321. >He wasn't even a mechanic
  322. >You end up going through the gate and in the back alley
  323. "So you guys moved here recently, huh?"
  324.  
  325. >"Totally. I mean, we're not new to the town? But I guess this part of town, yeah. She said she used to grow up here before moving out, but now she doesn't want to go back home. Like, weird, right? What's wrong with having a place that has free food and no rent?"
  326. >You get the feeling she appreciates the free food especially
  327. >"I mean imagine... you have your old room, just the way you left it. You have all of your books, your movies, your board games. You really don't want much more in life when you got all of that stuff. Right, Mr. A?"
  328. >You didn't expect that sort of answer out of her
  329. >You really aren't sure what to expect of her
  330. >That speaks more about you than it does her
  331. "Yeah... I guess you got a point there. My room is... ah. It's still the way I left it too. But so much time had passed, it feels like going back in time. But if I go back in time, I may forget that my family isn't really here anymore."
  332. >"That's harsh, man... can it really be hard to forget something that big?"
  333. "As embarrassing as it is to say... yeah. I'm starting to get a few grey hairs, but you know, I don't feel older. I really don't. Put me back in that room and I'm in highschool all over."
  334. >You can't help it
  335. >One time you swore someone was calling your name for dinner
  336. >Maybe that's why you've just been sticking with the TV in the basement and little else for so long
  337. >Maybe one day
  338. >...
  339. >You noticed you haven't yet found the house in question
  340. >More so, you're pretty sure you're walking back to your house
  341. "...uh, Starsky? Why are we circling back around? You lost?"
  342. >"Me? Nah, man. I have the memory of a broken Etch A Sketch. Shake all you like, nothing's slipping by."
  343. >You can't say you're against the idea of shaking her just a little
  344. >You stop at a back yard with the normal chain fencing
  345. >The gate is open
  346. >"Well, this is the place. See? The lights are on so... she's probably home. Wanna check with me, in case Mr. Gentleman wants to stop like, a burglary?"
  347. >Since she put it that way, you kinda have to do a wellness check now
  348. >The house must be hers since there is a doggy door in sight
  349. >The backyard is a little unkempt and empty, but you can't expect anything from someone who's so new
  350. >Starsky ducks into the doggy door and after a few seconds you hear the door click
  351. >Some pony's dexterous
  352. "Alright, coming in now. Don't shoot, I'm just a neighbor."
  353. >By the time you enter the kitchen, Starsky is out of sight
  354. >"Hey, Lizzy! Check it out, Mr. A's here! I told you all about him, come on get up!"
  355. >Sounds like she's in the living room
  356. >Both the kitchen and living room lights are on so at least there's no surprises to be had
  357. >The kitchen is... as empty as you thought it would be
  358. >You see the remains of your beloved loaf of bread
  359. >This Lizzy hadn't even put it away properly
  360. >It's probably going to go stale after another day unless it's taken care of properly
  361. >At least there's a big step-ladder, presumably for Starsky to... climb onto the counter...?
  362.  
  363. >That can't be hygienic
  364. >Oh well
  365. >You transfer your mortal shell to the living room to see what is indeed a human woman
  366. >Wrapped up in a few blankets and with a flat blanket under her head
  367. >She's out like a light
  368. >And...
  369. >Something smells wrong
  370. >Like something was on fire or burning
  371. >"Hey, Lizzy man, wake up! Mr. A's here to check out our lair!"
  372. >She turns her head to you and gives an awkward smile
  373. >"S-sorry, Mr. A. She's a bit of a heavy sleeper at times, you know?"
  374. >Outside of the blankets and pillow there is literally nothing in the entirety of the room
  375. >It isn't a two-story like your house, apparently, but surely they have furniture or something elsewhere
  376. >Remember Anon, you're a guest
  377. >No thinking bad thoughts
  378. >After a few moments of Starsky putting her front hooves on the woman's shoulder and rocking onto her, she flails her arms out
  379. >"Fucking STOP IT! I'm tryna sleep... fuckin'..."
  380. >The tone of this woman hit you like nails on a chalkboard
  381. >Starsky recoils back
  382. >"O-oh. Ok. Sure thing, Lizz biz."
  383. >She gives an uncharacteristically sheepish smile
  384. >"S-sorry about that, Mr. A. I guess she's kinda... wiped. She's a deep sleeper, you know. Totally deep, like that one movie with the spinning top."
  385. "Yeah... you know, I've still never watched that all the way through. For all I know, I'm still dreaming from when I fell asleep while watching it."
  386. >That little bit makes her laugh
  387. >"Ha, no way man. That would be wild..."
  388. >You can't help but feel like an intruder
  389. >This really is not something you should be sticking around for
  390. "So... I... suppose you're home now. Safe and sound too, right?"
  391. >You can tell that Starsky is trying to keep up a smile
  392. >"Yeah... sure am."
  393. >Don't say much else more
  394. >Bid her a good night and vacate
  395. >Do it
  396. >Do it you fool
  397. "Hey... can I talk to you in the kitchen real quick?"
  398. >"The kitchen? Sure, you wanna talk shop, pork chop?"
  399. >She doesn't seem to get your goal but she follows you into the kitchen, out of sight of the apparent sleeping Lizzy
  400. "Listen, I'm gonna... probably be too honest here. You gonna be alright if I leave here? Are you gonna be able to fix dinner for yourself and all that?"
  401. >Your line of questioning hits her
  402. >It hits her hard enough to where she looks you said something embarrassing
  403. >"I... w-well yeah! Totally! I mean come on, it's like I have a little obstacle course going on. I gotta keep the legs flexible, right?"
  404. >Somehow, you don't buy it
  405. "I'm gonna probably catch some flak for this..."
  406. >You rub your eyes with your thumb and index finger
  407. >Now that you've said this much, you may as well keep going
  408. "You wanna do dinner at my place? I can't just... you know, give away any furniture or blankets or stuff. But if you wanna sleep over and-"
  409. >"Dude, seriously!?"
  410. >You don't think you could ever see a happier pony
  411. >In fact, you don't think you've ever seen another pony
  412. >If you had, you must have overlooked them
  413.  
  414. >"Yeah! Please! Yeah, please! I mean, I saw the way you were cooking that steak like a chef. I bet you even do that 'BAM!' thing like that one Italian guy."
  415. >She rocks her head back and forth like she found her groove again
  416. >"I mean, if he's Italian. I don't really remember what he does."
  417. >You can't help but squint
  418. "...I'll be honest, I haven't seen that guy in years."
  419. >"Total mystery, right? Like, where even is he..."
  420. >This is getting a little silly
  421. "Alright, then... well. Before we go, do you need anything?"
  422. >Starsky shakes her head
  423. >"No way, ho-may. I got nothin' here, and Lizzy just has like... some changes of clothes and stuff. I'm good to go, I'm hot to trot."
  424. >Somehow that last bit sounds like it wasn't meant for casual conversation
  425. >You admit, you feel like you're stalling
  426. >And you kinda are
  427. >You just don't want to get involved in... whatever this is
  428. "Sounds good. But regarding Lizzy and you just. Up and vanishing. Is she really alright with this?"
  429. >"Definitely! Yeah, man, yeah. It's... she won't mind. I promise."
  430. >The vague feeling of your head spinning is telling you that this absolutely is a real situation
  431. >God damn your bleeding hippy heart
  432. "In that case... let's keep talking and head back. I'll go out first, make sure you lock the door before coming with, ok?"
  433. >"Will do, Mr. Auspicious!"
  434. >Good
  435. >Now to get the hell out of here so you can be in a more familiar setting
  436. >Funny enough, you don't actually see any sort of string or... manner that a pony can effectively lock and unlock a door
  437. >Whatever, this day has been weird enough
  438. >You wait in the back yard for Starsky to come out
  439. >It takes
  440. >Minutes
  441. >You get the feeling that you should just start walking back home but you instead end up straining your ears to pick up on anything
  442. >Anything at all
  443. >You don't hear any shouting or crap
  444. >That has to be good
  445. >Eventually Starsky scrambles out from the doggy door and into the fresh, open air
  446. >"Alright! Three cheers for Mr. A!"
  447. "Nah, that's alright, you don-"
  448. >"Yay~"
  449. "Alright, cool, let-"
  450. >"Yay!"
  451. "I get it, Sta-"
  452. >"YAY!"
  453. >She pops into the air with the final cheer, galloping past you into the alleyway
  454. >"Bro, it's gonna be so wicked. We can have like, popcorn and stuff and watch cartoons and in the morning we can check out my favorite little farmer's market thing and then we can go to the library and..."
  455. >She rattles off a hundred things, trotting around you while you walk to your property
  456. >Ah crap
  457. >Now you've done it
  458. >You have no clue if you've technically kidnapped a pony now or what
  459. >Is it even kidnapping?
  460. >You did lure her with the promise of food
  461. >God damn it
  462. >You unlock the door to the kitchen and nearly avoid Starsky whizzing past your legs like a purple tracer bullet
  463. >"Mr. A, you really got a heart of gold, you know that? What's for dinner? What do we got for munchaaaage?"
  464.  
  465. >Now that you're relatively, sound, and in the privacy of your own home, you glance around the kitchen
  466. >It was very well stocked when your dad was still well and going to the stores
  467. >Of course most everything is still there and probably safe for at least another year or so, depending
  468. "Well, you mentioned popcorn..."
  469. >You trail off and go to one of the shelves that are almost too tall for even you
  470. >The old timer was a freaking giant and he sure enjoyed putting his favorite things up high
  471. >With some struggling you grab a box of popcorn
  472. >Not only does it taste good, but it has it's own golden packet of buttery oil
  473. >The true blue movie experience
  474. >You show the side of the wrapped up bag with the golden packet to the mare
  475. >"Duuuuuuuude, salty, melty but-ter! Pop it in man, let's chow down to China Town and watch some Mystery Machine action! I know that channel too, it plays stuff almost 24/7!"
  476. >She trots in place, her head bobbing and weaving
  477. >You can't help but smile
  478. >She's infectiously happy
  479. "Alright, alright. You set us up with the TV, I'll grab a few blankets, and then I got a big bowl for this too. I'll even let you tell me where to put the butter too."
  480. >"You're on, Mr. All-Melted-Butter!"
  481. >And just like that, she's off
  482. >You really shouldn't be glad to just make off with someone's talking purple pony
  483. >But it's not like you dragged her away
  484. >And this way she's getting dinner
  485. >And
  486. >You know she's gonna be able to sleep fine this way
  487. >You aren't a bad guy here
  488. >Right?
  489.  
  490.  
  491. >You feel warm
  492. >You feel really warm
  493. >It must be the extra blankets
  494. >It feels nice to sleep on the fancier couch
  495. >Your eyes refuse to open but they do
  496. >The TV is still on
  497. >You can't move your left arm
  498. >Why can't you?
  499. >You bring your right hand up to rub your eyes
  500. >Much better
  501. >You half-expected to see popcorn everywhere but the bowl is empty and on the floor
  502. >Starsky is still asleep
  503. >And laying with her head on your torso
  504. >You don't think whether or not she often gets this level of rest
  505. >You nudge your arm to help wake her up
  506. "Hey, Star. It's morning."
  507. >"Mmm. It's Sundayyyyyyy..."
  508. >She sounds like a deflating balloon
  509. >It is kinda funny to hear her like that
  510. "What, not a Sunday funday party machine?"
  511. >Given the state of Lizzy, you can't help but think that the mare is also just as hardcore
  512. >"Broooo..."
  513. >Another balloon deflation
  514. >"I don't even, like... like parties. They're too loud. Too many rowdy rabble-rousers. For reaaaaaaaaal..."
  515. >She finally lifts her head up
  516. >A warm smile spreads on her face when she sees you
  517. >"Heeeeeeeey Mr. A. Guh-morning. What're you doin' in a place like this?"
  518. "Me?"
  519. >She looks half-asleep
  520. "Oh, not much. I live here, believe it or not."
  521. >"For real? Awww man... luckyyyyy..."
  522. >She plops her head back on you
  523. >"I wish I lived here..."
  524. "Ehh... you got your place though."
  525. >"Sure... but. Like, it ain't home. This feels like home."
  526. >She exhales and nuzzles against you
  527. >She is not getting up at all
  528. >Dammit
  529. >Well
  530. >You aren't getting up either
  531. >So it's either more cartoons or head back to sleep
  532. >You can't say you mind this all that much
  533.  
  534.  
  535. >Sunday was comfortable
  536. >You ended up resting until far after noon
  537. >Starsky wasn't too eager to leave but you did promise her that you could hang out again
  538. >It was pretty... chill, as she would probably put it
  539. >You are worried about what her home life is like
  540. >But she'll be fine
  541. >Yeah
  542. >...she'll be alright
  543. >You drop down onto your beloved childhood couch
  544. >It took less than a half hour for you and your dad to bring it down to the basement
  545. >And around an hour of sitting on it to recover
  546. >You remember all of the high flying plans he had for the basement
  547. >Half man-cave
  548. >Half home theater
  549. >The TV you have set up isn't the one that he wanted to buy, but you like it
  550. >A little on the old side but it's still a flat screen
  551. "Man... I hope those actually taste good."
  552. >You had ordered a pair of heavy buckets full of freeze-dried food
  553. >Stews, fruits, soups, oatmeal and other breakfast mixes
  554. >A full month's worth of crap
  555. >Your uncle would have really liked to try them out
  556. >Crazy innawoods bastard
  557. >You lean back in the couch, bringing your head back
  558. >Though your vision is upside down...
  559. >...is someone staring at you from the window?
  560. "...that you, Star?"
  561. >You stand and swing the window up
  562. >"Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeey Mr. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. 'sup?"
  563. >It is
  564. >Starsky is flat on her belly, her snoot mark on the window
  565. >She looks happy to see you, to say the very least
  566. "What're you doing over here?"
  567. >"Like, I'm spying on you dude. What's in the buckets?"
  568. "Ah, it's that survival food supply stuff. Supposed to be enough to live off of for a month."
  569. >"That's wicked, man. Mad survival skills."
  570. >She really does just look so happy to see you
  571. >Maybe its the way her smile is
  572. >Or maybe its how her eyes are
  573. >Or her tone?
  574. >You can't put your finger on it
  575. "...Star?"
  576. >"Sup, man?"
  577. "What are you doing outside at this hour? You're gonna get dirty by laying on the ground like that."
  578. >"Good thing I'm an all-natural flower child, eh?"
  579. >You would believe it
  580. >But it doesn't answer your question
  581. "...you wanna come in so you at least aren't cold? Or at risk of getting eaten by some sort of coyote?"
  582. >She beams at you
  583. >"Mr. A, I knew you really cared! Heck yeah man, lemme swooce right in."
  584. "...Swooce?"
  585. >As if you said the magic word, she reaches in with her front legs
  586. >"Swooce... swooce!"
  587. >She pulls herself in, just to push herself out
  588. >On the third pull, she slides in and ends up flopping right onto her back
  589. >At least she landed on the couch
  590. >She giggles and kicks all of her legs out
  591. >You can't help but see two bumps near her lower pair of legs
  592. >Whatarethose.jpg
  593. >"Mr. A... it's kinda rude to stare, you know? But... it's you. So it's cool. Just lemme know if you have a favorite pose, 'kay?"
  594. >Oh shit
  595. >Those are exactly what you think they are
  596. "Bah."
  597. >You shake your head and close the window
  598. >"Heheheh... just kiddin'."
  599. >About what?
  600. >That it was rude to stare or that she'd change poses on request?
  601. >You plop back down onto the couch
  602. >She really isn't giving you the straight business
  603.  
  604. "How's Lizzy doing?"
  605. >"Ehh... you know her."
  606. >Not really
  607. >"She kinda didn't notice I was gone. And today she had a party to go to. Not work related, of course."
  608. "She didn't wanna bring you?"
  609. >"Nahhh... nah. I'm kind of a drag around those types of things, you know?"
  610. >Not really
  611. >"I kinda went around the neighborhood, really scoped it all out. I used to go to this really neat little farmer's market when we used to live closer to it. I didn't work there? But I totally helped out a ton and got so much food for us there."
  612. >She smiles at you, happy to see the world upside down
  613. >"I bet I could make you the most radical stew, if you're a vege-man."
  614. >That sounds enticing, honestly
  615. >You haven't had a solid stew in ages, even though you're more the carnivore
  616. "Yeah? You can cook?"
  617. >"Yeah, man! This mouth can do all sooooooorts of things."
  618. >Her smile spreads to a grin
  619. >You can't help but notice she hasn't closed herself up any
  620. >"...because I'm a pony. Get it? I don't have any hands, so I gotta use my mouth instead."
  621. >She holds up her front legs as if to prove her point
  622. "...oh. Obviously."
  623. >You clear your throat and look away
  624. >"Heh... you must have some funny thoughts to get so frazzled, Mr. A. You gotta chill more."
  625. "Yeah, I'd chill more if you weren't such a dirty chick."
  626. >That finally gets her to flop onto her front
  627. >"Dang, that's cruel... I'm a squeaky clean mare, I'll have you know. I've never even been kissed. True story."
  628. "Good to know, but I mean your fur, your tail and... yeah, your hooves too."
  629. >"Oh... yeah. Totally. Sorry, I'll get off."
  630. >You don't stop her from slinking off the couch like some blue and purple snake
  631. "You can get back on but you kinda need to clean up first. I got a bathroom down here, toilet and shower."
  632. >You nod toward the bathroom
  633. >You don't exactly have a curtain set up but you have a sliding glass door
  634. >You even have a drain in the bathroom floor just in case
  635. >And, of course, there's also the actual wood door
  636. >"Oooh... handiman too? You really know your way around stuff."
  637. "Nah... ha, I wish. Dad tried to set it up but a flood and three screaming fits later, we just called a plumber."
  638. >She stands up and takes slow steps over to it
  639. >"You sure I don't mind?"
  640. >What?
  641. "What?"
  642. >She looks behind her shoulder to you, still smiling
  643. >"I come over and you demand I take a bath... how do I know you're not gonna peak?"
  644. >You're absolutely flabberghasted
  645. >You didn't mean it like that
  646. >She giggles at your reaction and sticks her tongue out at you
  647. >"Haaaaa~ Don't worry, Mr. A, just teasing. Since I'm gonna be busy... wanna fix some more popcorn for us to munch on?"
  648. >She isn't eating you out of house and home but you can understand why she'd be hungry
  649. "...well. Alright."
  650. >You didn't expect this but you could go for some popcorn again
  651. >After a minute you can hear the shower start up
  652. >"Oh and can I pour the butter this time?"
  653. "...uh. Yeah! Sure. Go for it..."
  654. >You don't know what to think about this situation or this mare
  655.  
  656. >What time is it?
  657. >It's a bit early
  658. >So early your alarm hasn't even gone off yet
  659. >Outside of the TV you don't have any light to go off of
  660. >Cartoons are playing
  661. >Oh right
  662. >That must mean...
  663. >Your hand goes to touch your chest
  664. >Instead, you feel pony shoulder
  665. "Star?"
  666. >No response
  667. >She must be out of it
  668. >You try to move your head
  669. >You didn't know that she put her head right next to yours
  670. >When did she do that?
  671. >Last you recall, you were both sitting
  672. >You let her pour the butter and she drowned half of the popcorn
  673. >In defense of her being clean, she somehow convinced you to let her eat out of your palm
  674. >She still has that vague scent of lemon, too
  675. >You were never a real fan of lemons
  676. >But you aren't against it
  677. >She reflexively closes all of her legs around you
  678. >She inhales like something you did woke her up
  679. >Crap
  680. >Do you go back to sleep?
  681. >...
  682. >Why would you do that?
  683. >This is your home
  684. >Your basement
  685. >Your couch
  686. >Shouldn't your instinct be to ask her what she's still doing here?
  687. >"Mr. Aaaaaa.... you up?"
  688. >This is your chance to-
  689. "Yeah. Just woke up."
  690. >Dammit
  691. >She hugs you again with all of her legs
  692. >"Sorry I slept over again. Is it obvious that I'm into you yet?"
  693. "...you sure that isn't just because I have a place and food?"
  694. >"Well... I'll be honest, that's kinda why."
  695. >That's not exactly great to hear
  696. >But it's honest
  697. >"You remind me of a friend I used to have, man. He was such a cool guy. Like, Lizzy's bro too."
  698. >Is this gonna be a story?
  699. >This is gonna be a story
  700. >Worse, you're a captive audience
  701. >Her voice drones on, only carrying a fraction of her natural inflection
  702. >"He let me play on his computer. He taught me a lot of stuff. I think he was, uh... what are those guys."
  703. >She goes silent, in thought
  704. >The thinking is broken by a giggle
  705. >"Oh yeah. He was one of those guys that popped maaaaaaaaaaaaaad boners over ponies."
  706. >She giggles again
  707. >"For real, bro. He said his first girlfriend was one too. He said I sounded like her and he liked that. But he also said that he was kinda spoken for."
  708. >You hear an airy yawn creep into your ear
  709. >"She wasn't around... but I guess he still dug her. I bet he still does."
  710. "What happened to him?"
  711. >The yawn returned as an exhale
  712. >You can feel her decompress on you
  713. >"Lizzy started hanging around different friends. I still got to hang out with him until he had to move with his old timers somewhere else. Maaan... that was like...centuries ago."
  714. >You highly doubt it's been that long
  715. >"I hope you don't mind... but can I be honest with you, since we're still all cuddly and all sharing secrets and all that?"
  716. >To be fair, you haven't shared anything about yourself since you woke up
  717. "...something on your mind?"
  718. >"All the time, man. I know Lizzy don't like me much these days. And I know she's kinda hard up on cash. Can you... like, buy me off of her or something?"
  719. "That's a pretty big ask of you."
  720. >"Totally is, Mr. A. But... I don't want her to sell me to anyone else. Or to one of those... pony services. You dig?"
  721.  
  722. >Pony services?
  723. >You've heard of those
  724. >Kinda like the Big Brother program, but with ponies
  725. >As in ponies both helping, and being helped
  726. "Why do I have to buy you? It's not like she has any legal thing over you, right?"
  727. >"Well... yeah. I guess that's true too."
  728. >She exhales again
  729. >"But I've always been more like... her pet, than her equal. I thought we were sisters, man. But once she started hanging out with other guys and gals little ol' Starsky ended up more and more a background pony."
  730. >She giggles
  731. >"You wanna know what's funny? Some of those guys have ponies too. And she treats them just fine. But I don't know how... safe they are, to be around."
  732. >You didn't know when but apparently you had started petting her, from shoulder to waistline
  733. >What would be a human waistline, anyway
  734. "Ahh... I see. Kinda been in the market then?"
  735. >"...I mean, not totally. But something about you, Mr. A. You got that animal magnetism thing all going on and I just can't seem to worry around you. It's, like, a really chill aura you give off. Even when I pop up, you don't get mad or tell me to float on somewhere else."
  736. >She once again clamps down on you in a hug
  737. >"And I know you dig looking at parts of me. So... I kinda know you might like ponies too. I think I kinda would prefer a human anyway. Magical hands and all that."
  738. >That makes you consciously stop petting her
  739. >"Heheh... I didn't say you had to stop, Mr. A."
  740. >Once more, she clamps down and does her best to curl in her legs for an even tighter hug
  741. >"You don't gotta say nothin' to her about it or anything but... at least think about it, yeah? I bet I could really be useful to you. Like right now, I'm the perfect blanket."
  742. >So this is why she has been hanging out with you
  743. >You can't find it insulting
  744. >You're actually flattered
  745. >But it seems like a lot to take in
  746. >Have you enjoyed her spontaneous company?
  747. >Sure
  748. >But have you enjoyed it enough to take her on already?
  749. >More so, to pay for her?
  750. >You don't exactly have a whole ton of money to your name
  751. >"Heeeeeeeeeey... Mr. Aaaaaaaaa... it feels like you're actually starting to wake up."
  752. >A teasing tone starts to creep into her words
  753. >You can almost hear her holding back a giggle
  754. >"You like ponies, don't ya? You can't lie to me."
  755. >God damn it
  756. "You know exactly what you're doing, don't act like you aren't the cause."
  757. >She's been moving her hips from one side to the next
  758. >"Jussssssssst sweetening the deal for ya, Mr. A. Don't you worry."
  759. >This aggressive mare is more than you can handle
  760. >Alarm clock, please come to the rescue
  761.  
  762.  
  763. >Delicious burgers
  764. >You've decided on burgers for dinner tonight
  765. >Really great, 85% lean third-pounder sirloin burgers
  766. >Your dad would probably chastise you for using a skillet and not the grill outside
  767. >But the weather is hardly right for grilling
  768. >Your original plan was to cook and chomp on four of them but two in and you honestly feel pretty full
  769. >You end up cooking the other two patties anyway
  770. >Wheat buns and muenster cheese and even a good crackling of pepper corns
  771. >Proof that you are indeed a simple man
  772. >By the time you're done with the fourth, and last, burger... you get the feeling that you'll probably end up giving them away
  773. >You know by who
  774. >Almost as if on time, you hear a hoof tapping against your door
  775. >Of course you don't see anyone at the door nearby so it can't be too many people
  776. >You lean to one side and balance on one foot to open the door
  777. >"Daaaaaaaang Mr. A, you're like... psychic now. Did you see me coming?"
  778. "Not really. But I prepared just in case."
  779. >She crooks her head all the way up and sniffs
  780. >"Ooooh maaaaan... smells like burgers to me."
  781. "Yup. And, I suppose you'd like one or two."
  782. >Starsky giggles
  783. >"Man, you are definitely a psychic now! Bottoms up!"
  784. >She closes her eyes and opens her mouth wide
  785. >Of course, she isn't getting a free meal tonight
  786. "Ah... nah, you're gonna have to work for dinner this time. And that's because I actually trust you with this."
  787. >Starsky's head comes down and she opens her eyes
  788. >She doesn't close her mouth
  789. >Rather, she smiles and lets out a teasing 'aaaaaahhhhh'
  790. >"Gotta big job for me, Mr. A?"
  791. >You can't help but get the idea that she's thinking of certain ideas
  792. >Yesterday morning still hasn't faded from you
  793. "Well..."
  794. >Time to do as gramps did
  795. >Face tough situations with a complete and utter stoic front
  796. >And this is a very tough thing
  797. >To you, at least
  798. "First thing's first. You're pretty nice to me. And... yeah, I'll admit. Maybe I'm willing to admit that you're hot to me."
  799. >She grins
  800. >"Thanks, dude. You're... like maybe the third human ever to actually say that. And you're sober so that totally makes it... like, the first!"
  801. >Your eyebrows raise
  802. >That seems to explain a few things
  803. "Well, I'm glad I am. Though maybe I need a two drink minimum before you come over."
  804. >"Ooooh~ A bit of the bub-leeeeeeeee! That sounds fun to me."
  805. >Stay on topic, Anon
  806. >You gotta work with how well she can just disarm you
  807. "Listen, Star. We both seem to agree that your Lizzy friend is..."
  808. >"A bad dude? Or an abuser of the devil's dandruff?"
  809. >Devil's dandruff?
  810. "The de... well, maybe. Tell me, just how bad is she? Is it accurate to say that if I called the cops, she'd probably have a warrant out or they'd find something to take her in?"
  811. >Her more playful mood mellows down
  812. >She's still smiling
  813. >But she more just seems calm
  814. >"Honestly, Mr. A?"
  815. "Yeah, be honest."
  816.  
  817. >"If you called the cops right now, she'd probably go to prison for a long time. I want to say that she'll get a ton of help in there... but I think she's a ton more likely to end up getting stabbed with one of those little weird tooth brush things they melt down to spikes or something."
  818. >You expected her to hesitate at least a little
  819. "Alright. Well, I'll also be honest."
  820. >"Always, Mr. A."
  821. "I haven't lived in this town for a while... but apparently I will be living here for a while, because I really don't want to lose my dad's place. And.. it still is his place. It isn't right for me to sell it to begin with. I don't want some crackhead living even remotely close to my neighborhood."
  822. >Starsky nods
  823. >"Yeah, man... I understand. Trust me, man. I do. She really never used to be like that, you know?"
  824. "I guess so, yeah..."
  825. >Alright
  826. >Remember gramps, Anon
  827. >Stoic
  828. >Staring at the top bun of one of the burgers, you let your tongue glide over one of your top canines before you speak
  829. "...so how much of an addict are you? Again, being honest. What have you all gotten up to? What sort of things have you helped her do?"
  830. >Even the calm smile she had starts to fade
  831. >"None, Mr. A. I'm a pony, man... if I take some sort of... drug or something and get sick? Who's gonna take care of me? We don't got docs like you guys do. And a veterinarian? You may as well consider me deader than those hamburgers, dude."
  832. >Her eyes glance over to the open door
  833. >"...'sides. I know her well enough that she ain't a responsible sort of upstanding citizen. I lose my nut and start borking out, I ain't so sure she won't just, uh... you know. Make use of that."
  834. >Her eyes turn to yours
  835. >She almost looks embarrassed
  836. >"You know those sorts of people. It ain't like the sitcoms where they have redemption episodes."
  837. >Fair enough
  838. >Understandably, you feel... angry
  839. >Almost
  840. >Just because of how trash this chick is
  841. >You grab one of the burgers and kneel down
  842. >Leaning down just feels like it would be insulting
  843. "Alright, here's the first. I got a second one of you're willing to answer more."
  844. >Like magic that silly smile returns
  845. >"Aw man, Mr. A! You're seriously making me sing for my supper... what're you gonna make me do for dessert?"
  846. "I'm not answering that right now."
  847. >"Heh, 'right now' he says... way to make a girl anxious."
  848. >After a test sniff of which direction would be best to start from, she takes modestly sized bites out
  849. >She doesn't seem to be starving, but she doesn't take long between bites
  850. "You know, I never knew if you guys ate meat or if it was all flowers and fruits and greens."
  851. >She shakes her head and licks her lip a multitude of times
  852. >"Nah, bro. Total misconception. At least for me, I eat whatever isn't nailed down. It's, like, a treat to have a burger this awesome mostly because of the cooking stuff. The tools, bacteria, blood and raw... meat... juices?"
  853. >She shakes her head even harder
  854. >"Noooo way, man. Super hard pass."
  855.  
  856. >You let her finish eating
  857. >"I like the peppercorns."
  858. >She comments between her last bites
  859. >Before you can pull your hand away, she licks at your hand
  860. >Her tongue's strong
  861. >After the second lick you pull your hand away
  862. >You aren't gonna let her change topics
  863. "Alright. So you hungry enough to have a second?"
  864. >Her answer is a hum and a nod
  865. "Right on, then you can answer my second question."
  866. >She nods in recognition
  867. "So. Did you start coming over here to case my place?"
  868. >That question takes her off guard completely
  869. >She starts to cough, failing to speak for a few words
  870. >"Wha-who-no! No way! I've never helped her with those sorts of things!"
  871. >Those sorts of things
  872. "Are you saying she's stolen before?"
  873. >She frowns
  874. >"We both know the answer to that, Mr. A. I really don't want to go into what she's done."
  875. "Alright... that's technically only part one of the second question."
  876. >"Really?"
  877. "Really. The second part is... what is this?"
  878. >You wipe your hand a few times
  879. >"Uh... I don't have hands so I eat with my mouth...?"
  880. "Eh?"
  881. >You look down at your hand
  882. >Then at her
  883. >She's just as confused as you are
  884. "Gah, no. Not that."
  885. >You sigh
  886. "What's with the friendly attitude? Why have you been laying on stuff so hard? Am I some sort hail mary last ditch effort or is this something you're pulling with everyone in the neighborhood?"
  887. >You really want it to be focused on whether or not she's playing you
  888. >And why she's playing you
  889. >If she is
  890. >But
  891. >Part of you hopes that she hasn't been pulling these stunts all around
  892. >So it might make you feel a little more special
  893. >It's a completely petty thing to feel, since you hardly know this mare
  894. >But you can't not feel it
  895. >At least a little
  896. >Starsky smiles and shrugs
  897. >It's that calm smile again
  898. >She's not having fun with this but she's at least in her apparent comfort zone
  899. >"I live every day like it's my last, Mr. A. Which means, at least for me? I really don't like going where it isn't safe. I really don't wanna be around people that look at me kinda strange. I really don't wanna be around Lizzy once I know that she's still breathing and she's fine without me."
  900. >She nods and gives her best smile
  901. >"I mean it, man. About that animal magnetism thing? I'm not an animal to you. I'm never ever eeeeeeeeever gonna be like you. Or Lizzy. And I'm cool with it. I get to do all sorts of cool things because of it. I got, like, pony-focused super powers and stuff. For real."
  902. >You're dubious but at the same time you are afraid of what information she could bring up if she has some sort of super keen sense of smell or eyesight
  903. >You've heard that some ponies can even use magic or fly
  904. >You don't know enough about them to know for sure but some people have sworn by it
  905. >"I guess, as far as I care? Like... my bottom line?"
  906.  
  907. >She traces one of her front hooves on the floor
  908. >"I've been Lizzy's best friend for like... ever. But I think she's gonna leave us for the great party beyond. And..."
  909. >Her voice starts to crack
  910. >"I'm kinda worried she's gonna take me with her. You know? She's my best friend but I ain't hers anymore."
  911. >...well damn it
  912. >Stoicism, Anon
  913. >Just like gramps
  914. >Remain stoic
  915. >No
  916. >Don't do-
  917. >You fool
  918. >Don't you fu-
  919. >God damn your hand
  920. >You reached out to stroke her mane
  921. >"She ain't my Lizzy, man... it's her body but she ain't right in the head anymore... that ain't her."
  922. >Everything just seems to freeze there
  923. >You really aren't sure what to say
  924. >You don't even know what to think
  925. >You pet her a few more times
  926. >"I don't want her to keep doing bad stuff like that... but I don't want to die with her, man. She a..."
  927. >Her word is cut off with a whine
  928. >"She..."
  929. >She's really struggling to speak
  930. >"...She ain't worth it, man. She ain't worth dying for, Mr. A."
  931. >Interestingly, she isn't crying
  932. >That doesn't mean she's faking it
  933. "...you've been thinking of this for a while, huh."
  934. >She doesn't answer
  935. >What feels like entire minutes go by
  936. "Hey Star... it's getting kinda late out. It's gotta be after 8, right?"
  937. >After a moment she nods
  938. "You got that second burger to chomp on. Yeah?"
  939. >Another nod
  940. "After that... well, let's go hang out in the basement for a while. And... well, the weekend is coming up. Let's put our heads together and see if we can figure something out. Alright?"
  941. >"Thanks Anonymous."
  942. >You weren't expecting this sort of situation
  943. >You still aren't 100% convinced this isn't some sort of... scam
  944. >But you can't do nothing
  945. >Even if there's a 1% chance that you might believe that this is some sort of set up
  946. >God damn it
  947. >You don't have it in you to go 'sorry, not my problem'
  948. >You are not comfortable with any of this
  949. >You weren't exactly, before
  950. >But now you really aren't
  951. >What would dad say?
  952. >Probably something like 'God damn it boy, don't give your burgers to animals do you know how rarely those go on sale?'
  953.  
  954.  
  955. >You sorta expected it
  956. >Star ended up staying the night again
  957. >What was different was that she ended up sleeping on the love seat
  958. >You didn't say anything about where she had to go but you were glad she had a straight head
  959. >Maybe you've been giving her too little credit on some things
  960. >When you woke up, she was still there
  961. >Awake
  962. >Comfy
  963. >And happy to see you
  964. >If she were a normal girl, your dad would probably encourage this train of action
  965. >He always did want to see grandkids before he kicked off
  966. >Of course, he also wanted to see you drive a Lambo too, and to win the lottery so he could say 'fuck you all' to every resident in town and move to Alaska
  967. >What would he say about this?
  968. >You aren't one for guidance
  969. >But
  970. >You really do wish that he could give you at least one last nugget of wisdom that could only come from the pain of age
  971. >Your thoughts were muddled all throughout work
  972. >What work you've been able to get while here
  973. >There's still so much to do
  974. >So much to get used to
  975. >You park in driveway at the back of the house this time
  976. >You're not sure if you should be surprised but you see Starsky sitting at your door
  977. >She's able to bypass your privacy fence so why worry about it
  978. >"Heeeeeeeeeeey Mr. A. 'Sup? How was work?"
  979. "Eh... another day."
  980. >You open the door and hold it open out of reflex
  981. >With a glance at you, and the kitchen, she bobs her head forward and back with a grin
  982. >"Heh, thanks man. You're a real gentleman, you know?"
  983. >You aren't really all that hungry
  984. >You start down the stairs to the basement
  985. >You hear her behind you
  986. >You plop down onto the couch
  987. >It's used to you just falling onto it
  988. >It's probably why the cushions are so busted and it's just a mass of fabric and softness at this point
  989. >She calmly hops onto the other cushion
  990. >"So Mr. A..."
  991. "What's up, Star?"
  992. >"Have you thought more on stuff?"
  993. "About you chilling here? Or buying her from you or whatever."
  994. >It's a lot of responsibility
  995. >You've been thinking of the logistics of having a pony
  996. >Of living with one
  997. >Living with a girl, particularly
  998. >You aren't some sperg but you certainly can't do certain things with her around
  999. >...
  1000. >Who are you kidding, she'd probably cheer you on and watch with full attention
  1001. >"Mr. A?"
  1002. >Your attention snaps to
  1003. "Huh?"
  1004. >"Zonked out already? Man, that must've been a killer shift. I said 'yeah', about me staying here."
  1005. "Oh. Ah. Eh..."
  1006. >Screw it
  1007. >She's been a little bit too open and honest
  1008. >Why should you restrain yourself now?
  1009. "What's that gonna look like? Legit, I know I gotta go to work. And I'm guessing ponies don't usually have jobs and just goof around all day. I know cooking is... well, I'll be cooking for two so I guess it'll be a change but it won't be the biggest in the world."
  1010. >You look over her body
  1011. >She's sitting with a lean against the couch's arm
  1012. >She gives you a chill smile
  1013. "...and yeah, if you keep spending a lot of nights tempting me, I'm gonna have things that will need to be done."
  1014. >"That a threat or a promise, bro?"
  1015.  
  1016. "Both, I reckon."
  1017. >"Oooh... promising."
  1018. >That chill smile widens
  1019. "See? That's also something that kinda bugs me to be honest. Not because it doesn't sound fun but... I really don't know you. And you don't know me."
  1020. >"That's true... and really, outside of seeing stuff on the internet? Total mine field. I have like, the mental images down. But it's how I know I could swim in the ocean but until you throw me in, it's all wishful thinking."
  1021. "Yeah. And... I don't know, Star. If I do this, it isn't because I want a slice of mare."
  1022. >She shrugs but doesn't seem bothered
  1023. >"Too true, man in blue... but what would you say if that's what I'd want to do?"
  1024. "Well to me it would feel dirty. I'm not doing this for a reward. Least of all that."
  1025. >She doesn't seem to get you
  1026. >The look on her face says so
  1027. >"But... it'd be cool though, right?"
  1028. >She sounds confused
  1029. >After a few moments, she taps her hoof on the couch cushion
  1030. >"Ah. Maybe I gotta explain my reasoning more, huh. Well... waaaaaaaaaaaaaay back when Lizzy and I were in highschool, right? Well, I wasn't in highschool. She was. I just visited. Maybe snuck some cookies in the cafeteria and stuff..."
  1031. >More story time apparently
  1032. >"She had this guy she toooooootally liked. And when she told me, I kinda told her to just do what she thought was right, right?"
  1033. >She beams like she's proud of herself
  1034. >"And I thought that was legit, for real! Because you should always do what you think is right, right? I read that in a book. I think it was a big one. But anyway."
  1035. >She mellows out again to a more neutral form of comfortable
  1036. >"So, I tell her that... and, like, two days later. He comes over and I stumble across them going at it like those zombies from that one movie, right? Screaming and clawing and..."
  1037. >Zombies?
  1038. >Wat
  1039. "...wat."
  1040. >Her eyes go wide and she points at you with her front leg
  1041. >"Like, exactly, man! I didn't know what the heck I was seein', neither of them seemed to know what they were doin', and before I know it, they're both screaming at me and I'm screaming at them and later we all had a good laugh over some Wendy's."
  1042. >She relaxes again and nods
  1043. >"Those were the days, man... I always used to ask for extra salt on my fries. Ponies can eat a truck load of fries, man, for real."
  1044. "You're losing me here."
  1045. >"Oh! Yeah, right. So. To her, that was doing what she thought was right. And the guy she liked? Well, he wasn't a bad guy. He really wasn't, honest. But... I think she liked another guy too. And... then like, another."
  1046. >She purses her lips
  1047. >"...come to think of it, she kinda had like... a lot of boyfriends in highschool... but not that one bro I told you about. He only rose the flag for that one pony."
  1048. "I'm... not following. Are you saying that she was a slut in highschool and that it supposedly worked for her so it'll work for you?"
  1049. >She raises her hoof as if to answer but she looks like she's not sure
  1050. >"I..."
  1051. >She squints
  1052. >As if this is some sort of quiz
  1053. >"I... think so? I mean, I'm not a slut. Obvs."
  1054.  
  1055. "I'll have to take your word on it, I guess."
  1056. >For the first time, she seems offended
  1057. >"Hey, Mr. A. I'll have you know you really are the first guy I slept with. On. Around."
  1058. >She squints again
  1059. >"I mean, I think so. I'm preeeetty sure I slept in the same room Lizzy shared with her boyfriend. But. You know. I wasn't ON or WITH him. Right?"
  1060. >It seems like the details of this topic escape even her
  1061. >"But I haven't done that sort of thing, ever. I'm old school, man. One and done, tried and true, too cool for school."
  1062. "Kinda like having a friend, huh?"
  1063. >"Yeah!"
  1064. >Once it catches up to her of what you meant, she deflates a portion
  1065. >"Yeah... kinda like having a friend."
  1066. >Her eyes seem to go over the basement
  1067. >"But, you know. More than a friend. Like, if you immediately hit something off with someone and it's all gravy, why fight it? We go to the grey hair club, we bicker about bacon bits on baked biscuits and we just spend hours on rocking chairs because old people really like rocking chairs for some reason."
  1068. >That's a...
  1069. >A less detailed way to look at it
  1070. >'Pure', if you're feeling charitable
  1071. >"That's kinda how my bro explained it to me, when he had his first girlfriend. You know the one."
  1072. >Not really
  1073. "The... one who popped mad pony boners?"
  1074. >Your deadpan delivery makes her giggle up a storm
  1075. >"Yeah dude, that's the one! I really don't remember what we were talking about anymore. But it was something really tight. Like, how those sorts of feelings and emotions you feel for someone. You can only ever, like, honestly feel those with one person. And no one else. Because it just isn't real with them, you know? And it makes a whole ton of sense to me. Like, at that time it kinda just clicked together like a round peg in a square hole."
  1076. "...but those don't fit."
  1077. >You have no clue what her angle is
  1078. >She grins like she's some sort of sneak
  1079. >"They sure do, Mr. A. I totally did it once. That's called 'thinking outside the square'."
  1080. "Thinking outside the box, you mean."
  1081. >"No bro, there wasn't a box. It was flat so it was a square."
  1082. >The victory on her face tells you that her logic prevails
  1083. >And it does
  1084. >To her
  1085. >"But yeah, man... I wouldn't do that. I think that's kinda what got me... I don't know. Bent out of shape over it. I mean, yeah, her thing is her thing, right? But I see her go from guy to guy and it just... I don't know man, it made me mad. I wasn't always such a zen master, right? I saw those guys be sad and... like, I'm guessing ponies are natural predators to sadness. We zone in and gobble it up, leaving everything happy."
  1086. "...yeah?"
  1087. >"Yeah..."
  1088. >You can't decide if she's smart or accidentally making points but you're concerned that you're beginning to understand her points
  1089. >"But after she kinda... you know. Told me to shove it, I did. She was happy. At least I thought so. She seemed to be. But that was when I realized we weren't on the same wavelength anymore. It was a total soul de-sync."
  1090. "And you think our souls are in sync or something?"
  1091.  
  1092. >"I don't know, Mr. A... but it sounds kinda cool, doesn't it?"
  1093. >Another grin
  1094. >"I mean come on, tell me is ain't the most romantic thing in the world. Imagine what that must feel like... if Lizzy understood that, maybe I'd be like... the cool pony aunt by now, right? I could totally see it."
  1095. "Well you certainly have more of a... romantic mindset."
  1096. >"Totally. Maybe it's kinda because I'm... like, a pony. I know you guys sure seem to think differently these days. It's pretty crazy. And I know you aren't like that."
  1097. >You're amused by this
  1098. "Oh yeah? And how do you know I don't have chicks over for idle fun and popcorn?"
  1099. >She leers and taps her nose with her hoof
  1100. >"Magic pony senses, Mr. Aaaaaaaaa. I haven't smelled a single sign of a woman here since I checked out your yard. And your clothes smell like dust and a bit of grease and..."
  1101. >She leans over a few inches toward you and inhales gently
  1102. >You can't help but feel violated
  1103. >"...and what smells like a candy bar... Mr. A's gotta sweet tooth!"
  1104. >Her amusement heightens the violation
  1105. >You feel like you're being attacked on some personal level
  1106. >"Heheh... you can't fool me, Mr. A. The nose knows!"
  1107. "Oh you... cut it out."
  1108. >"Heh~"
  1109. >She inhales and exhales
  1110. >"Animal magnetism angle going for you, you really don't seem or smell like the sort who does normal human things that I see... Iunno, man. I like your style. And if it's really that great, why fight it? If it takes effort, and that's all? Dude, I'm pretty comfy with it. Life's one big class room, I'll never run out of things I need to learn. That includes learning about you and stuff."
  1111. >You really aren't capable of faulting her logic
  1112. >It sounds good
  1113. >Really good
  1114. >But part of you just doesn't accept it
  1115. >It's far more complicated than that
  1116. >Isn't it?
  1117. >You have no real interest in casual dating
  1118. >You really have no interest in casual dating
  1119. >Especially now when it's just you
  1120. >You've never thought of that sort of thing in such depth
  1121. >Without saying anything, you click on the TV
  1122. >Another episode of That 70s Show with everyone hanging out in the main character's basement
  1123. >"Hey... that couch kinda looks like yours."
  1124. "Does it?"
  1125. >"Yeah. It has a hot redhead on it."
  1126. "Hey, your hair isn't all red."
  1127. >"No comment on the 'hot' part though...?"
  1128. >More giggling
  1129. >You need to sharpen your mind if you're gonna have a long conversation with her
  1130. >She's too ready to go where you can't react in proper time
  1131. >The only thing that she said that you find wrong with her comment is that that stripe in her mane doesn't even look red but more kinda reddish-pink...
  1132. >...
  1133. >You don't find her hot either
  1134. >Obviously
  1135. >Probably
  1136.  
  1137.  
  1138. >Your Friday night was pretty comfy
  1139. >Pretty quiet too
  1140. >For a while you kept checking your basement window, or the backyard
  1141. >No Starsky
  1142. >She's been a little too much on your mind for your comfort
  1143. >You've felt...
  1144. >Not regret
  1145. >But embarrassment
  1146. >In the moment, you can openly tell her that she's attractive to you
  1147. >And she is
  1148. >But it's also her mannerisms and her voice
  1149. >Great Gaia her voice
  1150. >You're pretty sure you've already fallen asleep because of her talking
  1151. >But
  1152. >She's a pony
  1153. >An animal
  1154. >Quite a romantic and idealistic one at that
  1155. >But a quadruped
  1156. >A creature
  1157. >With a tail
  1158. >...
  1159. >Best not to dwell too much on that general area, given what you've seen already
  1160. >After your morning rituals and shower, you head upstairs to the kitchen
  1161. >You can still smell the last time the house was full of people and food
  1162. >The living room TV was on and loud
  1163. >Voices were still talking over it
  1164. >Upstairs someone had their TV going
  1165. >Even in your room, you had something going
  1166. >You couldn't find a corner that was quiet to save your life
  1167. >Not you can't hear anything
  1168. "...morning everyone."
  1169. >You say out to no one in particular
  1170. >You want to believe in ghosts, spirits and the supernatural
  1171. >But if they were still around, you wish they'd send you some sort of sign
  1172. >You just stand there
  1173. >There really is no one
  1174. >Oh well
  1175. >It was like this when you lived alone, in that shit-tier little apartment
  1176. >You miss it
  1177. >If only because it reminded you that you weren't home
  1178. >Rather than out of habit, you consciously open the door to the backyard, in case you have any silly pony neighbor popping up
  1179. >You were really just in the mood to grab some water and maybe do a thing of biscuits in the oven
  1180. >Instead you spent nearly an hour preparing a big breakfast
  1181. >Biscuits with butter, grape jelly and apple butter on the counter and ready
  1182. >Strips of thick maple bacon on a paper towel-covered plate
  1183. >A pair of fluffy omelets made with six eggs each and covered in shredded cheese that melts in moments
  1184. >You even have a can of that frozen fruit juice that apparently had been a family staple for decades
  1185. >When you finish, you peek outside
  1186. >No signs of Star
  1187. >Well that's alright
  1188. >She likes to sleep in
  1189. >And you woke up before your alarm to begin with
  1190. >Maybe
  1191. >You'll just wait a bit
  1192. >She'll probably be bumbling in and make some sort of note of needing to wash her hooves before breakfast and make some sort of face at how you conveniently made too much for yourself
  1193. >Or maybe you could use this as a
  1194. >Something
  1195. >Do you need a reason?
  1196. >Once more the kitchen smells like it was used at full steam
  1197. >But it doesn't feel alive
  1198. >No one's rushing
  1199. >There are no utensils clattering against plates
  1200. >No passing of butter with a knife that was used on too many plates
  1201. >You were just leaning against the counter, waiting for the perfect time to act like you were just now starting to get prepared
  1202. >You wait until the steaming biscuits cooled off
  1203. >You go from leaning to sitting on the floor
  1204. >Maybe you just need to wait a little longer
  1205.  
  1206.  
  1207.  
  1208. >Starsky didn't stop by any during the weekend
  1209. >You didn't mind
  1210. >You did kick yourself for letting the eggs and biscuits go warm but you had a damn fine feast
  1211. >You had more than enough to last into Sunday too
  1212. >Outside of eating relatively fancier, you decided to do a little research into ponies like her too
  1213. >Apparently they've picked up in popularity over the years
  1214. >You've seen inconsistent sources but some advertise them as best friends
  1215. >Kinda like the Chucky dolls, but presumably with less possession and killings
  1216. >Some sources advertise them as therapy companions, like sapient... well, mini horses
  1217. >Even one source on YouTube was some guy that considered himself a "connoisseur"
  1218. >Apparently he... dated some?
  1219. >Or he was dating one at the time of the video
  1220. >That's one video you were all too eager to remove from your watch history
  1221. >It's interesting to see how esoteric yet popular they are
  1222. >You've certainly never seen a pony before Starsky
  1223. >Maybe you just hadn't paid attention
  1224. >Before you knew it, you spent all of Sunday looking into ponies
  1225. >Apparently they can eat whatever
  1226. >Life spans can vary greatly but they seem to average around decades, plural
  1227. >No examples are given, one site claims is due to privacy...
  1228. >Personally?
  1229. >You don't believe much of it at all
  1230. >It sounds so far-fetched
  1231. >Any attempts to dig deeper more or less lead to you cycling through the same sites
  1232. >It did a great job at keeping your mind occupied but it was a little too...
  1233. >Invasive?
  1234. >You feel like you'd probably get a much more clear view on things straight from the technicolor pony's mouth
  1235. >Your curiosity bleeds into Monday
  1236. >You aren't thinking of her
  1237. >Not... directly, maybe
  1238. >Now that you have time to yourself and to gather your thoughts...
  1239. >Well
  1240. >You don't know what to think
  1241. >You don't really have anyone to help give you their opinions
  1242. >All you're left with is your own
  1243. >All you can do, for the now, is grab your cast iron skillet from the oven
  1244. >In it is a batch of bacon and cheddar cheese bratwursts
  1245. >Your uncle would have loved these
  1246. >He never had a chance to try them out
  1247. >You know for sure because he always stuck to his little tri-city area
  1248. >For decades and decades he did his own thing
  1249. >At least he's with everyone now
  1250. >Technically
  1251. >Maybe you're the only one happy that he's around
  1252. >In the middle of transferring them from the skillet to a paper plate with a paper towel folded on top you hear a few knocks
  1253. "Ahh... right on time. Probably smelled the bacon finally."
  1254. >You smile to yourself
  1255. >It would be cool to share dinner with someone
  1256. >Even if you didn't eat anything else all day to indulge in the bacony goodness
  1257. >You opened the back door
  1258. >The faint smile you had dies
  1259. >It's Starsky
  1260. >But she looks...
  1261. >Rough
  1262. >There are a few scrapes and deep scratches on her side, both near the ribs and shoulder
  1263. >Her mane is a mess
  1264. >Her tail is dirty
  1265. >She doesn't look so great at all
  1266. >She seems to know this
  1267. >"Hey Mr. A... is it ok if I go take a little shower?"
  1268.  
  1269. >Her tone sounds devoid of any personality you've experienced so far
  1270. >She keeps her eyes low
  1271. >You see something drip from her chin to the floor
  1272. >It's red
  1273. "Y..."
  1274. >Don't panic
  1275. >Remember, act as you know you've been taught
  1276. "Yeah. Go ahead, take your time. I just got some brats out, I'll put in a second batch."
  1277. >Even though she has some shaggy fur on her, you can tell that some of those scratches are more cuts
  1278. "...after your shower we can go ahead and get you patched up a little, too."
  1279. >You succeed in controlling your emotion
  1280. >Controlling a rising sense of dire panic
  1281. >Did you need to get the phone?
  1282. >Call the cops?
  1283. >Get your dad's overly babied rifle?
  1284. >There was no sense of urgency from her
  1285. >And there was no one following her
  1286. >Or screaming and shouting that you could tell
  1287. >She stands there for far too long to make you uncomfortable
  1288. >Finally she speaks
  1289. >"Thanks dude. I really am going to owe you. Sorry for leaving a mess."
  1290. >A few more droplets of red hit the floor
  1291. "Don't worry about it. I'm gonna stay up here for a bit, get some other stuff together for you."
  1292. >She nods a few times too many
  1293. >"Thanks. I won't be long. Stuff smells too good to pass up. Y-you know?"
  1294. >You can hear a crack in her voice
  1295. >It's subtle
  1296. >Quiet
  1297. >Not something you think she wanted to express
  1298. >She clears her throat and takes careful, deliberate steps the basement stairs
  1299. >You watch her go down them
  1300. >Just in case
  1301. >She manages it fine but now you have a few red hoof prints on the floor and your stairs
  1302. >...
  1303. >...
  1304. >...
  1305. >You wait until she's out of view before you allow yourself to freely think
  1306. >Shit
  1307. >It's been years since you took any sort of EMT class or first aid course
  1308. >But you're sure you can patch up a pony
  1309. >What the hell happened?
  1310. >You wait a few more moments and hear the shower hiss to life
  1311. >At least she made it
  1312. >Ignoring the frustrated grumbling of your stomach, you set off to your car
  1313. >You haven't been in the bathrooms above basement level since you got here, you don't know what all is available
  1314. >But you know you have your trunk bag
  1315. >You'll figure something out
  1316.  
  1317. >You take your time getting everything set up
  1318. >Plates of food on a coffee table you pulled out from the basement corner
  1319. >A few drinks
  1320. >A thermos of hot water
  1321. >You have no clue why you'd need it but you decided to include that
  1322. >Plenty of items from your car bag: medical tape, gauze, alcohol, some of those clotting granules
  1323. >All thankfully individually packed
  1324. >What are you missing?
  1325. >You know you're missing something
  1326. >You've never had to do more than patch yourself up
  1327. >And certainly nothing worse than a cardboard cut or something from wood or steel
  1328. >Think, Anon
  1329. >All you're missing is an ice pack
  1330. >...
  1331. >Shit
  1332. >You don't even have an ice pack
  1333. >What sort of half-assed attempt is this to help someone out?
  1334. >You would be an embarrassment if your-
  1335. >The bathroom door opens
  1336. >It's Starsky
  1337. >Steam bellows out behind her
  1338. >That sort of humidity probably isn't the best for any electronics but it'll probably be fine
  1339. >She looks at you
  1340. >Sitting on the ground, six towels laid out
  1341. >A table full of food, drinks and medical items
  1342. >"...you alright, Mr. A? You look like you're freaked out or something."
  1343. >She slowly trots to the towels and sits down
  1344. >The basement floor has been meticulously cleaned a few times over so her wet tail trailing on the floor won't be a worry
  1345. >You can't seem to stop yourself from thinking a mile a minute
  1346. "Me? Yeah. I... yeah."
  1347. >How can she be so relaxed over this?
  1348. "So... where do we start? Where is the worst?"
  1349. >She leans away from you, revealing her side
  1350. >The deep scratches look more like slices, or cuts
  1351. >"There's that... and then here."
  1352. >She raises up her head
  1353. >It looks like a cut went from her rib all the way up her neck
  1354. >"Don't worry, Mr. A. I kinda curled up and had a good cry so the bleeding stopped."
  1355. "...alright. Is this all of it?"
  1356. >She nods
  1357. >"Relax, man. It really ain't that bad. It was like... a marathon, not a sprint. You know?"
  1358. "Not at all. Lay down, alright?"
  1359. >You have far too many thoughts swirling around but you channel your focus entirely into her
  1360. >First, you help part her fur and make sure none of her mane is in the way
  1361. >The alcohol comes second
  1362. >Starsky twitches at what must be quite a sting but she seems resilient enough
  1363. >That's good
  1364. >Third
  1365. >Third...
  1366. >Gotta clean it
  1367. >No, you already cleaned it
  1368. >Focus, Anon
  1369. >Third, the clotting agent
  1370. >Your hands are shaking
  1371. >No, that must just from you shaking the packet
  1372. >Next comes the gauze
  1373. >It's been cleaned, there's no further chance for her wound to bleed
  1374. >"Mr. A, don't suffocate. Alright?"
  1375. "W-huh?"
  1376. >She's smiling
  1377. >"Relax, man. I'm safe. We're not exactly in a hospital and this ain't so bad. You look like you're the one who's hurt."
  1378. "Yeah well... stay quiet for a bit."
  1379. >Relax...
  1380. >Can you relax?
  1381. >Should you?
  1382. >You should
  1383. >You inhale
  1384. >Exhale
  1385. >You repeat the process a few times
  1386. "Alright."
  1387.  
  1388. >With renewed focus, you dress her cuts
  1389. >Thankfully your car bag is nearby
  1390. >Without thinking, you grab some ointment and add those to the gauze pads
  1391. >After you cover the cuts and main slice, you get the bandage wraps
  1392. >You also pulled those out from the car bag
  1393. "Alright, sit up enough so I can wrap this around
  1394. >"Sure thing, Mr. A. Be careful, I don't wanna be a mummy."
  1395. >You wrap her neck first
  1396. >She has fur...
  1397. >The medical tape wouldn't have worked for her anyway
  1398. >You do your best to wrap up her shoulder and the section around her ribs
  1399. >You end up wrapping around her chest
  1400. >By the time you finish, you had to use two more rolls
  1401. >Your tunnel vision eases up
  1402. >How did you do?
  1403. >Would this really be good enough?
  1404. >Starsky looks down at herself
  1405. >"Woah... you're, like, a doctor or something. Last time I got all scratched up, I... uh, definitely didn't get all of this."
  1406. "Yeah, I..."
  1407. >Maybe you overdid it
  1408. >What would your dad say if he saw this?
  1409. >He'd probably say that you overdid it on the bandage wrapping
  1410. >Or that the neck was the only part that really needed it
  1411. "I did it."
  1412. >Starsky nods
  1413. >"You sure did, man. Maybe you saved my life, even."
  1414. >The fog in your head clears
  1415. "Yeah. Maybe."
  1416. >You shake your head
  1417. >All of this blindsided you
  1418. "Star... what the hell happened?"
  1419. >"Iiiiiiii kinda told Lizzy that she was a serious drag... and that I was gonna kinda maybe gonna hang out with someone else who wouldn't be so harsh."
  1420. >You think you understand what she's saying
  1421. >"And... I kinda said that I didn't want to come back. So she got mad. And said some pretty brutal stuff."
  1422. >When did this happen?
  1423. >"And... yeaahh she... did not really appreciate that from me."
  1424. >You have far too many questions to this
  1425. >Are you glad that she came here?
  1426. >You're glad to see that she's alright
  1427. >Relatively speaking
  1428. >The first question that leaves your head through your mouth probably says it all
  1429. "...you have anything to eat lately?"
  1430. >She looks at you
  1431. >And at the plates you set up
  1432. >She gives you the most mellow smirk
  1433. >Is it almost condescending?
  1434. >"I don't think so, Mr. A. Wanna have a celebratory dinner?"
  1435. "Yeah. Uh... yeah, help yourself. I'm glad you're here."
  1436. >"I am too. Thanks, Anon."
  1437. "Not a problem. I'm... ah, I'm gonna head back to the kitchen for something. Help yourself. I got some stuff that's... yeah. It's there."
  1438. >Before you give her the chance to say anything more, you head upstairs in a bit of a rush
  1439. >You spend entire minutes washing your hands
  1440. >You don't know what would have happened if you weren't prepared
  1441. >What if you weren't prepared?
  1442. >What if she were hurt worse?
  1443. >What if she didn't leave the bathroom?
  1444. "Come on, man... get it together."
  1445. >It reminds you too much of when EMS showed up
  1446. >There was no screaming or panicking then either
  1447. >Not really
  1448. >Just like then, you were near dead silent and laser focused too
  1449. "Alright... alright alright... it's fine."
  1450. >You splash some water against your face
  1451. >You only ever thought people did that in movies
  1452. >She's alive
  1453. >It'll be alright
  1454.  
  1455. >It's late
  1456. >Far too late
  1457. >What are you doing awake?
  1458. >You have the TV going but you've long lost focus on what it was playing
  1459. >Some sort of YouTube playlist
  1460. >Where's Star?
  1461. >You yawn and bring your head up
  1462. >She's still on the loveseat, curled up
  1463. >You gave her a blanket and pillow but for some reason she's using the blanket as a pillow and the pillow as a cover
  1464. >She's still out of it
  1465. >...
  1466. >You watch her for a few moments
  1467. >Just long enough to tell that she's still breathing
  1468. >Good
  1469. >You bring your head back down
  1470. >You probably have gone a little overboard about her cut
  1471. >But it was really deep
  1472. >And you really don't want it to get infected
  1473. >Or to leave a scar
  1474. >You had cleaned up the blood she left on the floor and stairs
  1475. >It was not a small amount
  1476. >When did it happen?
  1477. >What would have happened if you weren't there?
  1478. >Or rather, if she didn't come to you?
  1479. >How much blood has she lost by that time?
  1480. >Once she hopped onto the seat she hadn't really done much but sleep
  1481. >Is this for the best?
  1482. >For her?
  1483. >It probably is
  1484. >Is it good for you?
  1485. >You didn't even really know that ponies existed
  1486. >And you're still not completely sure on what to think on the aspect of having a talking pony around
  1487. >A female one
  1488. >Are you even comfortable with having a girl stay with you?
  1489. >It's not like you've bothered with dating for a while
  1490. >And... it's not like anyone is around to give judgement
  1491. >Or advice
  1492. >"Mr. Aaaaaaaaaaa..."
  1493. >You jump at the low croak
  1494. >Is she sleep talking?
  1495. >"You uuuuuuuuup...?"
  1496. >No, she's apparently awake
  1497. "How you doing, Star?"
  1498. >"Duuuuuude... my stuff hurts."
  1499. "Yeah... I bet. Are you flexing your side all that much?"
  1500. >You hear a groan
  1501. >She's probably trying to move
  1502. >"Ow... not anymore. Thanks for going overboard, Mr. A. I'm pretty sure something might have opened up just now if I wasn't so tightly sealed."
  1503. "Sure, don't worry about it."
  1504. >Maybe it was good that you didn't half-ass it
  1505. >"...can you... like, do me a solid? And get me some water?"
  1506. "Yeah, alright. I couldn't really stay asleep so good timing."
  1507. >She lets out a slow chuckle
  1508. >"Helps that I saw you checking me out. Let me at least heal a little more, ok? Then you can look all you like."
  1509. >Before you let your body react to that mental image, you get up
  1510. >"Daaaaaaaaang Mr. A... vulnerable girls your deal?"
  1511. >Shit
  1512. "Shaddap."
  1513. >That's all the wit you can muster before going upstairs
  1514. >The stairs are pretty dim but you're so used to them that you could probably go up and down with your eyes closed
  1515. >You get the biggest cup you can and fill it with water and a little spit of ice
  1516. >You always ragged on your dad for getting a fridge that had a water and ice dispenser
  1517. >Apparently the joke's on you
  1518. >It even has a nice filter, so you keep the local water filter merchant happy
  1519. >Before you go back down, you look out to the backyard
  1520.  
  1521. >There's no sign of anyone snooping around
  1522. >You did check outside earlier when the sun was up and...
  1523. >The alleyway looked
  1524. >Grotesque
  1525. >Like Starsky walked around up and down for a while to bleed everywhere
  1526. >It couldn't have just been her that was hurt
  1527. >Did something happen out there?
  1528. >You aren't the sort to openly gossip to the neighbors so you don't know if they know anything
  1529. >Cops haven't come by yet either
  1530. >Or animal control
  1531. >Should you worry?
  1532. >Well probably
  1533. >You're a part of this now apparently
  1534. "Gah... crap."
  1535. >It's too late to overthink that sort of thing
  1536. >You're doing what you can now
  1537. >That's all that really matters
  1538. >You recheck the locks and head back downstairs
  1539. >Starsky hasn't budged an inch
  1540. >You set the cup down near the TV and shift the coffee table right next to her
  1541. >It isn't the exact right height
  1542. >But it should be easier for her to access
  1543. >You grab the cup and set it down
  1544. "Hey, Starsky. Here you are. I... forgot to check if we have any straws. It would probably help, huh."
  1545. >She shrugs with her good shoulder
  1546. >"Nah man, it's ok. I'm not really that big a drinker. But if you could kinda tilt it for me?"
  1547. "Sure."
  1548. >You hold it for her and tilt it forward
  1549. >She drinks more than half of the cup before she nods
  1550. >"Thaaaaaaaanks, bro. You really might have saved my life. Y'know?"
  1551. "Yeah... I guess I did. Well, don't mention it, yeah?"
  1552. >"Humble too?"
  1553. >She nuzzles the blanket and sighs
  1554. >You only just now notice that she hasn't really opened her eyes at all
  1555. >"Good stuff, man. I'm gonna get more sleep. Gu'night."
  1556. >After another sigh, she seems to relax
  1557. >Her entire side must hurt like hell
  1558. >That slice had to happen recently, when she popped up
  1559. >Probably was still fresh and had enough adrenaline in her system that it didn't feel as bad as it should have
  1560. "Yeah... g'night."
  1561. >You return to your couch
  1562. >You sink down a full five inches
  1563. >Probably for the best that she got the loveseat, it isn't nearly as busted and broken down
  1564. >You feel like the cushions have only gotten more squished down with you always sitting or laying on them too
  1565. >You'd much rather replace the innards than to get a new couch
  1566. >You lay down
  1567. >Your mind is too active
  1568. >And it's too late
  1569. >You reach over for the clicker so y-
  1570. >It's on the table
  1571. >And you moved the table out of reach
  1572. >Damn it
  1573. >Oh well
  1574. >You're fine with listening to two sleepy guys barely playing a cash grab adventure game
  1575. >You close your eyes
  1576. >You want to talk to Starsky about what happened
  1577. >You should
  1578. >You will
  1579. >But only after she's recovered
  1580. >Fully
  1581. >That Lizzy chick has gotta come knocking soon
  1582. >She's gotta feel some sort of regret over this
  1583. >Right?
  1584.  
  1585.  
  1586. >You've made some alterations to the basement
  1587. >To the bathroom, specifically
  1588. >You undid the grate for the drain so she could do her business
  1589. >You went to the first floor bathroom and got a stool so she could more easily get in and out of the loveseat
  1590. >And you've brought down the little picnic basket full of medicine from the kitchen
  1591. >Your dad wasn't much of a health nut but he hated hospitals
  1592. >So, naturally, the only sensible option was to buy and stockpile nearly every medicine known to man
  1593. >The ones you can get over the counter, anyway
  1594. >And a shit ton of vitamins
  1595. >Though you haven't been able to accurately gauge her condition beyond asking her how she's doing, you've been giving her things that would ease pain and fever
  1596. >The damage isn't so bad...
  1597. >To a human
  1598. >But to a pony?
  1599. >The human equivalent would be like getting sliced by a sword a few times
  1600. >Outside of helping her up and down from the seat, you haven't been able to do much
  1601. >You tried to use a few snack clips to help keep her mane and tail manageable but those weren't beefy enough to contain so much hair
  1602. >Between those and her fur, when was the last time she had a haircut?
  1603. >You felt bad about the idea of leaving her alone so you called in for the rest of the week
  1604. >If you were smarter, you probably would have gone out to a pet store and grab a grooming kit or something
  1605. >Instead, you wanted to just be near her
  1606. >Just in case
  1607. >Even if you didn't know her, you couldn't just leave her alone
  1608. >...come to think of it, you don't actually know her
  1609. >"You really might have saved my life."
  1610. >Those words have been stuck in your head like a migraine
  1611. >You try to not think about it
  1612. >You try
  1613. >To focus on something, you've been on your computer all day
  1614. >It's a fancy laptop but you get the feeling that you bought it on a painfully high markup
  1615. >Your first option for research was YouTube, to search for ponies like her
  1616. >Apparently there is a huge market for pony outfits, as niche as they are
  1617. >The most popular video hasn't even gotten 500k views
  1618. >All of the videos are by humans though
  1619. >One has a pony, but it doesn't say anything
  1620. >Dark green with brown mane and some sort of bridle on
  1621. >Cosplaying as Velma Dinkley, no less
  1622. >Some videos are years old
  1623. >Most are, actually
  1624. >The most recent one is from a few days ago
  1625. >Less than 10k views
  1626. >Well alright
  1627. >Keeping the volume down, you watch it
  1628. >It's a pony
  1629. >More so, it's a vlog
  1630. >She's a complete scatterbrain because no train of thought lasts longer than a minute
  1631. >By the end of it, you have learned a whopping Jack and shit
  1632. >And Jack forgot to do his homework
  1633. >Well
  1634. >Fuck it
  1635. >Pony or human, you probably could do with reaching out for some help
  1636. >The vlog could use the comments too, it has less than ten
  1637. >At least she answered every one of them
  1638. >After a few minutes of mumbling possible questions to yourself, you put your best thought forward
  1639. >"Hey, I have a really hurt mare with me. What are some ways I can help her out? She
  1640. >...
  1641. >Do you say that you own her?
  1642.  
  1643. >That's a little bit of a faux pas, isn't it?
  1644. >Starsky wanted you to buy her
  1645. >And it's not like she has any sort of... ID on her
  1646. >Unless she's chipped
  1647. >Is that a thing for sapient technicolor ponies?
  1648. >It probably is
  1649. >You'll have to ask Starsky when she's conscious enough to do more than groan and ask for a drink
  1650. >"Hey, I have a really hurt mare with me. Someone attacked her and kinda got her side and shoulder. I cleaned and dressed it and tomorrow I'm going to examine and re-dress it. I plan on doing this every other day from Friday onward until she's all better. What do you recommend for medicine? What do you think would help the most to make her feel better?"
  1651. >Yeah
  1652. >That looks good
  1653. >...
  1654. >Almost
  1655. >You add a little something to the end
  1656. >"We haven't been together for that long at all but I need her to get better. Please recommend whatever helped you if you ever got hurt or sick. Thanks in advance."
  1657. >You aren't sure if you should, but you click on the Comment button
  1658. >Is this really the best you can do?
  1659. >Comment on random videos and hope you get something useful in time?
  1660. >In time...
  1661. >It's not like she's going to die
  1662. >But if it was less dire an injury, she would at least walk without keeping her leg up
  1663. >Maybe the blood loss had an effect?
  1664. >Without a larger goal or anything else to do, you look into symptoms for blood loss
  1665. >Shortness of breath?
  1666. >Check
  1667. >Weakness?
  1668. >Check
  1669. >Fatigue?
  1670. >Triple check
  1671. >Cold hands and feet
  1672. >...
  1673. >Well you don't know the pony equivalent to that so that's a wash
  1674. >If anything it feels like parts of her are pretty warm
  1675. >And you're already combating that with pain and fever reducer
  1676. >You keep clicking along to grab whatever info you can
  1677. >After 48 hours the body replaces plasma
  1678. >At least for humans that is true
  1679. >But it can take over a month to replenish red blood cell count
  1680. >Maybe two
  1681. >Would a vet be a good option then?
  1682. >Maybe
  1683. >A blood transfusion would surely help
  1684. >You'll have to ask her about that when she's up and alert
  1685. >What would that cost?
  1686. >"Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeey Misterrrr Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa..."
  1687. >Your head snaps from the monitor to her
  1688. >She has the most comfortable, sleepy smile
  1689. >"You know, you're kinda cute when you talk to yourself."
  1690. "...oh, I was?"
  1691. >"Enough to wake me up, dude."
  1692. "Ah... crap. Sorry. Hey, have you gone to a vet before?"
  1693. >She moves to shake her head but she just nudges her head an inch in either direction
  1694. >"Nah man, I'm a child of nature."
  1695. >She makes a funny face and rolls her tongue around
  1696. >"Hey Anon... I'm kinda shriveling up here. Can you give me a sipple?"
  1697. "On it."
  1698. >You set the laptop down and go to her side
  1699. >The cup has a straw this time so you just lift it up a bit for her to go at it
  1700. >The cup goes from entirely full to empty in seconds
  1701.  
  1702. >She sighs like that was what her body needed to finally wake up
  1703. >Enough to open an eye at least
  1704. >"Thanks, man. I really owe you one."
  1705. "Nah, don't worry about it. You'd do the same to me, right?"
  1706. >"And more, Mr. A... and more."
  1707. >She tries to nod
  1708. >Since she can't phase her head through the loveseat arm the attempted nod turns more into a forward and backward head bob
  1709. >"What are you talking about blood for? I know that mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell but you got me on what that means."
  1710. "That? I'm just looking up some stuff. Hey, how long were you walking around after getting scratched up like that?"
  1711. >It's worse than idle scratches
  1712. >"Iunno. Like... a few hours."
  1713. >She shrugs with her good shoulder
  1714. >"It didn't happen at the house. Otherwise I guess I would'a just hoofed it and not say anything."
  1715. >She blinks after a moment of silence
  1716. >"...nah. I probably would have let it happen anyway. Gotta be honest, right?"
  1717. "Right... well, honestly, I'm worried that it may be a while before you're up and prancing about."
  1718. >"What's the worst that happens? I be a lump on your stuff? I'm kinda already that in my best condition."
  1719. "I mean it. I'll look up what sort of foods will help the most but until everything is healed up we gotta treat this like what it is."
  1720. >"Like what, an attempted murder?"
  1721. >It seems like her teasing tone was uncalled for, even for her
  1722. >After a second, her expression turns
  1723. >Dark
  1724. >"...it wasn't like that, you know. Stuff just happens. Right?"
  1725. >She closes her eye
  1726. >"Friends make accidents. It's just gonna suck for me a bit longer than it's gonna suck for her. Just don't poke my stuff, ok?"
  1727. "Yeah. Lemme know if you want anything, alright?"
  1728. >She bobs her head once as a response and goes still
  1729. >At a glance it looks like she could be sleeping
  1730. >But her face looks tense
  1731. >Like she's trying to stop from emoting
  1732. >Her breathing is irregular too
  1733. >Is that a sign of anemia?
  1734. >You nod a few times
  1735. >If she's not actually tired she doesn't want to talk anymore
  1736. >After watching her face for another minute you go back to the sofa
  1737. >The way you slowly sink to the bottom elicits a soft snort from the presumably napping pony
  1738. >Good to see that she's still in good humor
  1739. >You go back to your laptop
  1740. >What did you say to her, about food?
  1741. >Your search goes to that next
  1742. >Red meats, spinach, dairy
  1743. >...red peppers?
  1744. "Yeah, that'll help alright... take a chomp and you'll start breathing fire. Then later you'll be shitting fire too. I guess if that doesn't somehow kill you, it'll help out somehow..."
  1745. >Your mumbling causes another snort
  1746. >"Mr. A... you gotta chill. I can't sulk and brood while you talk like that."
  1747. "Yeah? Well you better start feeling better or else I'll have to bring it out. I have red pepper flakes above the oven, I'm not afraid to use them."
  1748. >"Daaaang... I didn't take you for such a sadist, bro. Have mercy on a mangled mare."
  1749. >You watch her face after she speaks
  1750. >She does seem to relax more
  1751. >You can tell because she has a natural smile
  1752. >It's cute
  1753.  
  1754.  
  1755. >You fidget in your chair
  1756. >This already feels awkward
  1757. >You had the passing thought of turning on the TV but that might make things even more awkward
  1758. >You wouldn't want him to go "huh?"
  1759. "Hey dad. Sorry I... uh. I haven't been talking to you much, lately."
  1760. >You're in front of everyone but your focus is on him
  1761. >You sit for a few minutes
  1762. >You can't think of anything to say
  1763. >Or is it more you just dread hearing your voice
  1764. "I'm... your house. It's doing well. I, uh. I went up to the bathroom upstairs. To grab some towels. I didn't know you had a pile up there ready to be washed."
  1765. >You go silent again
  1766. >The entire living room is sickeningly silent
  1767. "That... ah... girl."
  1768. >He would probably laugh if you said it was a technicolor talking pony
  1769. "She's doing better now. A lot better. I'm kinda worried that there might be a scar. But she's alright. Who did that to her, if it was who I was told. I haven't seen her any. I'm not sure if you should be worried."
  1770. >You run your hand through your hair and clear your throat
  1771. "She likes your recipe. I know it's as basic as can be-you know that-but she really says she loves it. She says it took 'like, mad skillz'. With a Z at the end, you see."
  1772. >You can imagine his face
  1773. >It's as incredulous as your tone
  1774. "I... guess she's staying here for a while longer. I really don't know what to do with her though. I mean I don't..."
  1775. >Your eyes fall to the floor
  1776. "What am I doing, man? I go to work, I come back home. I look around and all I see is how you were around. How everyone used to interact and bitch and moan and complain about who's watching what and who's going to do the dishes."
  1777. >The back of your shoulders feel heavy
  1778. "I feel bad for even going up stairs. I haven't been in my room in... what, how many years was it? Hell, I haven't even been in your room."
  1779. >He would probably not say anything and let you continue your rant
  1780. "This is supposed to be your house, not mine. I just..."
  1781. >Grew up here?
  1782. "Lived here. I set up my room how I wanted and that was really just it. And now..."
  1783. >Should you really keep talking?
  1784. >Stray thoughts are one thing
  1785. >Instinctual behaviors are another
  1786. >But you hate hearing your voice affirm all of this
  1787. "Everything is just as you left it. If I go up there I'll probably find some mug of what was once coffee. What do I do with your clothes? Your bed?"
  1788. >No answer
  1789. >Of course
  1790. "I can't just give it away. It's yours. You worked for it all. Well, you know, except for those shitty shirts you said you bought when I was a kid for two bucks each at a flea market."
  1791. >The man didn't speak a lick of Spanish yet he had the most flamboyant shirts that all said Feliz Jueves
  1792. >Your questions and commentary go unheard
  1793. >There's no response
  1794. >No guidance
  1795. >No answer
  1796.  
  1797. "You never prepared me for this. You didn't prepare me for everyone else either but you didn't prepare me for you going too. You were supposed to be some rickety old mummy by the time I reached your age. Bickering about your grandkids going outside and back inside too many times and letting the AC out."
  1798. >You can feel the pressure build behind your eyes
  1799. >You blink it away but the bottom of your vision is still blurry in one eye
  1800. >You've had as much as you could now
  1801. >You stand up and push the chair back
  1802. >This was a dumb way to waste a half hour
  1803. >It really was
  1804. >You head to the kitchen and grab a drink from the fridge
  1805. >A sarsaparilla
  1806. >You may as well drink fancy soda if you're drinking soda
  1807. >You give yourself a few minutes to focus your breathing and to clear your eyes, if not your head
  1808. >With a hard sigh you give yourself a hard shake and head downstairs
  1809. >You can hear the TV going
  1810. >And audio from your laptop
  1811. >Starsky is apparently pretty good at pecking the keys with her hooves
  1812. "'Sup, shortstack."
  1813. >"Suuuuh, bro."
  1814. >Starsky looks like she recently got up
  1815. "How's your side feeling?"
  1816. >She glances up at you for only a moment before going back to the laptop
  1817. >It sounds like some funky music is her cup of tea
  1818. >"Well, you know how they say that jokes are a real side-splitter? It wasn't that funny but it ain't so split anymore."
  1819. >You did ask her that at least twice today already
  1820. >She's been getting up by herself, both for bathroom and for taking a shower
  1821. "Sorry if the stairs are still kinda tough. I didn't really think about how you might be wounded and effectively trapped down here."
  1822. >"Mr. A, you could feed me nothing but eggs and I would probably be fine with it."
  1823. >You shrug and tilt your bottle at her
  1824. "Yeah well you would have to eat all of them anyway."
  1825. >When she takes the laptop...
  1826. >You are so astonishingly bored
  1827. >You know you have a few consoles in your room
  1828. >But that involves going to your room
  1829. >No matter how bored you are, you can't just walk in there like it's yours
  1830. >"How about you, Mr. A? We have a guest or something upstairs? Heard ya talking a bit."
  1831. >Of course she did
  1832. "Ah... nah. Wrong number. I guess."
  1833. >The passing thought that he didn't even hear you drains the life from your body
  1834. >Your eyes wander from the TV to your little medical kit
  1835. >You've gone through a shit ton of gauze pads and medical tape
  1836. >A lot of ointment too
  1837. >But she really doesn't need that much care anymore
  1838. >She promises she's fine but you still have her side wrapped up
  1839. >Every day you see less and less red when you re-dress her
  1840. >But the skin could still break
  1841. >An infection could still happen
  1842. >She's not 100% yet
  1843. >Maybe 85%
  1844. >"Hey, mind if I ask you something? Since I'm, you know, lucid and alive and not gimping it up anymore."
  1845. "Go for it."
  1846. >She shifts her focus from the laptop screen to you
  1847. >"You... ever seen Lizz when you go up topside to the spooky world above?"
  1848.  
  1849. >It has been a few weeks
  1850. >You haven't once seen her
  1851. >Rain has come and gone so any signs of blood in the alleyway has been long washed away
  1852. >You haven't even really seen any of the lights come on in the house she supposedly occupies
  1853. "Nah... not once. I don't think she'd have a reason to seek me out anyway."
  1854. >"Oh... any... fliers? Bulletin board stuff? My face on a milk carton?"
  1855. "I normally get the plastic jugs so maybe. I just haven't seen it yet."
  1856. >You don't look at her directly but even out of your peripheral vision you can tell how much that bugs her
  1857. >"...I guess she hasn't gotten around to it yet then."
  1858. "Yeah..."
  1859. >You take a swig from your drink
  1860. >Delicious carbonation that isn't even all that aggressively bubbly
  1861. "But... you know how I am. I go outside, I tend to focus on my stuff. I probably just haven't been paying enough attention. So you probably got some stuff out there."
  1862. >Your words don't help
  1863. >You aren't so sure it isn't a lie
  1864. >But you can see her smile
  1865. >It's a consolation prize smile
  1866. >"Yeah... probably. Thanks for checking anyway."
  1867. >You hear keyboard clacking start up again
  1868. >After a few minutes you lean over
  1869. >How in the world is she typing like that
  1870. >You can see that she's angled her legs up and is using the back and bottom of her hooves to type
  1871. >It makes sense, given how she's laying
  1872. >She slowly shifts her focus to you while her typing slows
  1873. >"...penny for your thoughts, Mr. A?"
  1874. >You shake your head and blink
  1875. "How did you learn to type? Those keyboards aren't so big, and they're kinda not great for feedback."
  1876. >She grins at your question
  1877. >"Well how did YOU learn to type?"
  1878. "...well, school. Mostly. Sorta."
  1879. >You're not really following on this
  1880. >She nods you over
  1881. >You climb out of the couch and kneel down next to her, resting your drink on the loveseat arm
  1882. >She's writing a pretty big email
  1883. >"I kinda learned in school since Lizz used to take me to school. And... you know. Who doesn't know how to work a computer in this day and age?"
  1884. "That's fair."
  1885. >"Super. I even have my own email account. All of that junk, I'm sending to a friend."
  1886. >Not Lizzy, hopefully
  1887. >As if she can read your mind, she scoffs
  1888. >"Don't worry dude, I got other friends. This one here? Works at, like, a market for farmers."
  1889. "A Farmers Market?"
  1890. >"No man, it's not like, a corporate thing. It's just where a lot of farmers and garden guys with green thumbs sell their stuff for pretty cheap."
  1891. "Right, a..."
  1892. >You don't finish that thought
  1893. "Well, that's kinda cool. How'd you meet?"
  1894. >"Oh man, I thought you'd never ask."
  1895. >The gentle croon of her voice picks up in tone
  1896. >"So, dig it, Lizz and I-see, I know proper English too-used to help out at a lot of really local things. She was actually part of that FFA group in highschool. Except she tried making me a show pony."
  1897. >You could see that
  1898.  
  1899. >"So that didn't work, but man, you wouldn't believe it, but this Huckleberry girl had a pony too! Not like... the tall kind? But the talking kind."
  1900. "So Mr. Ed."
  1901. >"No, but did you know his name was Bamboo-something?"
  1902. >You get the feeling that you're treading on dangerous territory when it comes to matching wits with her
  1903. "...no?"
  1904. >"But no, she's cool. I call her Ms. H. She's kinda older than me by a bit so, you know, respect given and all that."
  1905. "What does the H stand for?"
  1906. >"It's just an old joke. But the name stuck."
  1907. "That doesn't really clear it up. Wait, do you think I'm old?"
  1908. >She turns her head and gives you a sly smile
  1909. >"Dude, I can look at you. You don't have any wrinkles but I know you've lived more than a couple of my lifetimes. I'd be crazy to not recognize that sort of thing."
  1910. >That...
  1911. >Kinda stings
  1912. >It's not like you've done a lot of particularly hard living
  1913. >Not really
  1914. "That's rough, man."
  1915. >"Sh'yeah, tell me about it."
  1916. >After a little more typing, she stops
  1917. >"So! Anyway, Ms. H and I go wayyyy back. And she and her family have this farm like, a few hours out of town and twice a month they go out and sell their stuff. Since we're tight like tank tops on action movie heroes, I asked if she could kinda help me find a way to make it up to you. I'm not just a lump, you know? You keep me around and you know I'll make it worth the trouble."
  1918. >Do you want to say that she isn't any trouble?
  1919. >She isn't not any trouble
  1920. >Kinda
  1921. >If only because of her having spent the last two weeks or so teaching her body to stop bleeding whenever she moves more than an inch
  1922. >Your hesitation in a rebuttal is enough for her
  1923. >"And don't worry, I'll help pay you back personally... but a little gift basket or two would help sweeten the deal, right?"
  1924. >Her smirk says all
  1925. >"Easier to stay warm and stuff when you got a big, fuzzy pony on you, right?"
  1926. >You break through her rhythm with your own point to focus on
  1927. "Oh yeah. Speaking of, are you wanting your mane and tail cut?"
  1928. >She seems caught off-guard that you didn't react the way she wanted you to
  1929. >"Huh? Why, do you like short manes?"
  1930. "Well it's less about me liking it and more about making sure you can keep it cleaner easier. You can do whatever style but it would be good to not have to worry about what it gets dragged over and collects, right?"
  1931. >Her expression melts into a more embarrassed variation
  1932. >"...well when you put it that way."
  1933. >She shrugs her worry away
  1934. >"Sure. I think I'd be ok with you grooming me. As long as you keep me after."
  1935. >You think you're starting to catch onto her subtext
  1936. "Yeah-huh. Well tomorrow lets use those shears in my bag and get to snipping."
  1937. >"Sounds good to me, man."
  1938. >Glad that's settled
  1939. >After a few moments of mutual silence, she speaks up again
  1940. >"...hey, Anon. Joking aside, after I finish this email. Can we hang out and stuff on the couch? I know this ain't a hospital but I'm kinda struggling a little here to keep happy-like."
  1941. >...
  1942. >Oh what the hell, why not
  1943. "Sure."
  1944.  
  1945.  
  1946. >Biscuits in the morning
  1947. >Some leftover chicken breasts for lunch/dinner
  1948. >A few coffee cakes for snakes in between and after
  1949. >Napping
  1950. >Some YouTube videos that, for the most part, you didn't choose
  1951. >Not bad for a Sunday
  1952. >All throughout it, Starsky had stuck to you like glue
  1953. >She can go up and down the stairs but she's not as fast as she used to be
  1954. >You've slowed your pace too to stick with her, though she jokes at you for "going easy" on her
  1955. >It's nice
  1956. >It really is
  1957. >You don't feel alone when she's nearby
  1958. >Even when neither of you have all that much to say to one another, she's comfortable to lean against you
  1959. >Due to how the couch has marshmallow cushions with amazing melting action, when both of you lay across the couch she ends sandwiched between your front and the front of the cushions
  1960. >It acts as a good headrest for her
  1961. >You have also learned that she has some sort of bone at the base of her tail
  1962. >And she
  1963. >...
  1964. >Has been using it to nudge against you
  1965. >In ways
  1966. >And no matter how much you want to, you can't poke her wound to make her stop
  1967. >That would be a little too mean
  1968. >So instead you've been mostly putting up with it
  1969. >Mostly
  1970. >"Hey, Mr. A."
  1971. >The gentle, chill voice wakes you up out of your quarter-sleeping stupor
  1972. "Hm? Sup?"
  1973. >"I know you kinda got your thing about the house..."
  1974. >You suppose that is an understatement
  1975. >"Why don't you... like, keep the TV on in the living room or something?"
  1976. "Why would I do that?"
  1977. >Though neither of you have been paying attention to it, the TV has been on too
  1978. >More providing white noise than anything else
  1979. >"Well, kinda like how we have it down here. But up there."
  1980. >She inhales and nuzzles the couch cushion
  1981. >"It's kinda spooky, man... this is your home, isn't it? Live in it a little. At least so when you go upstairs it doesn't feel like..."
  1982. >Her voice trails off
  1983. >Your own words fill the blank
  1984. >A crypt?
  1985. >Maybe that's a little too rough
  1986. >Too true
  1987. "I've thought about it. But my old man... dad. He liked watching different stuff at different times. If I put it on just one channel it would feel weird."
  1988. >"Why not... like, program it? Have it switch to a channel at a time, kinda set it up the way you know he likes it."
  1989. >You don't immediately answer
  1990. >Would that be a good idea?
  1991. >"...Iiiii may have kinda overheard you talking to him. Maybe he'll find a way to thank you if you do him a solid?"
  1992. >Crap
  1993. >You feel even more embarrassed for the failure of a talk you had yesterday
  1994. >You didn't think your voice would somehow carry that far
  1995. "...you really think so?"
  1996. >"Totally, dude. If I..."
  1997. >She trails off
  1998. >She makes some sort of noise of disapproval
  1999. >"...I mean if you wanted to remember me. I would be cool with just listening to AVGN and cat videos."
  2000. >You can see her shrink and sink into the cushion, as if it could hide her
  2001. >Best you can do is bounce off of her as she does to you
  2002. >Verbally, this time
  2003. "Cat videos, huh? You a cat type of girl?"
  2004.  
  2005. >"Totally. One of Lizzy's friends used to have a cat. She slept on me every time we went over."
  2006. >She inhales and nods to herself
  2007. >"Those were the days. Kinda awkward to feed her because, you know, hooves... but I'll be honest? Those tuna surprise treats were the bomb."
  2008. >That causes a laugh
  2009. "That so? I could see you swiping treats from a cat."
  2010. >"You got it all wrong, Mr. A!"
  2011. >She rolls her head back to see you
  2012. >Upside down but see you she still can
  2013. "Yeah?"
  2014. >"Yeah. We shared."
  2015. >You scoff and press your hand against her face
  2016. >She giggles
  2017. "So you telling me you'd meow and that I need to stock up on tuna?"
  2018. >She inhaled with a grin
  2019. >"Hmmm...."
  2020. >She rolls her head back up to look you in the eye
  2021. >"Mmmmroooow... Mr. A."
  2022. >Her meow comes out as a throaty mewl
  2023. >The longer you stay silent, the more her lips curl into a sly smile
  2024. >You won't lie
  2025. >That sent shivers down your spine
  2026. >And such
  2027. >You pet the side of her neck
  2028. "...alright. Yeah. Yup."
  2029. >You clear your throat to try to steady your breathing
  2030. >Were you holding your breath?
  2031. "That's the good stuff."
  2032. >"Heheh~ Mr. A likes 'em furry and flexible, huh..."
  2033. "I will have you know it is past midnight."
  2034. >"Which means we better cuddle up."
  2035. "And get ready to go to sleep."
  2036. >"But you know what they say about going to sleep stiff. Right, Mr. A?"
  2037. >You can feel her tailbone wag, along with a good section of her tail
  2038. "I."
  2039. >Good lord, let there be an armed robber to break in and give you a reason to get up
  2040. >"Don't mind me, Mr. A♫ Getting super duper comfy before I hit the hay♫"
  2041. >Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name
  2042. >"Gettin' comfy for bed♫ Gotta deal with Mr. A's big head♫"
  2043. >THY KINGDOM COME
  2044.  
  2045. >Wha
  2046. >Something feels wrong
  2047. >Something feels weird
  2048. >What's that source of irritation?
  2049. >Through barely opened eyes you see that the bathroom light is on
  2050. >God damn that is bright
  2051. >Why didn't you get softer light bulbs
  2052. >Did you leave the light on?
  2053. >Ironic that the laptop is playing a video at a loud volume but the light is what bothers you enough
  2054. >Whatever
  2055. >You close your eyes and try to ignore it
  2056. >You're more tired than you are irritated
  2057. >...
  2058. >...
  2059. >...
  2060. >God
  2061. >Damn it
  2062. >The light just bothers you
  2063. >You drag your hand up to wipe your eyes
  2064. >Congrats
  2065. >Your hand fell hard enough to effectively slap yourself
  2066. >Great going Anon
  2067. >Well you're awake now, aren't you?
  2068. >You reach to the laptop and lower the volume
  2069. >Did you really fall asleep with it blasting at max volume?
  2070. >It's not unusual that the video playing is... unrelated to what you would normally listen to bu-
  2071. >Wait
  2072. >You can hear Starsky
  2073. >You lower the volume enough where you can at least hear anything else
  2074. >At least the TV isn't on too
  2075. >You close your eyes and focus on listening
  2076. >Sounds like she's blowing her nose
  2077. >Allergy season hasn't started yet
  2078. >Not for you, anyway
  2079. >There's more than her merely blowing her nose
  2080. >Sniffling
  2081. >...
  2082. >Those aren't allergies
  2083. >Your eyes open
  2084. >You've effectively tuned out YouTube
  2085. >She's
  2086. >Bawling
  2087. >It is advanced crying that is going on in there
  2088. >Shit
  2089. >Do you get up and go to her?
  2090. >Would that be too intrusive?
  2091. >Would she want that?
  2092. >Was this something she only just started?
  2093. >...
  2094. >You're still too tired for this
  2095. >And it isn't only that
  2096. >She is always so chill
  2097. >You really do not know if it is such a great idea to put a crack in that
  2098. >What would dad do?
  2099. >...
  2100. >You suppose it doesn't matter what he would do
  2101. >He isn't here
  2102. >You are
  2103. >You close your eyes again
  2104. >Inhale
  2105. >Exhale
  2106. >Who knows what time it is
  2107. >But you can't go back to sleep
  2108. >You can't even hear the video anymore
  2109. >You can only listen to Starsky
  2110. >...
  2111. >...
  2112. >...
  2113. >You'll figure something out
  2114. >You have to
  2115.  
  2116. >You woke up to a sleeping Starsky
  2117. >Her wracked sobs haunted you to the point you heard her even at work
  2118. >You also came home to a sleeping Starsky
  2119. >She doesn't look like she had moved at all
  2120. >You probably should let her just sleep
  2121. >But you get the feeling that you really can't just leave her alone with this
  2122. >What's important is that you don't really make it obvious that you know she needs something
  2123. >You kneel down in front of her
  2124. >She really is enjoying the loveseat
  2125. >Some of her hairs are marking it as her spot
  2126. >Her bandages look a little loose
  2127. >The last few times you re-dressed her, it didn't look like it was really required
  2128. >But her skin...
  2129. >If you stop with the bandages, it might cause her scars to be more obvious
  2130. >Maybe if you keep re-dressing her, they'll go away
  2131. "...man..."
  2132. >You can't help but mutter to yourself
  2133. >"Sleepy Beauty was woken up with a kiss, Mr. A. Wanna wake me up?"
  2134. "G-gah!"
  2135. >You recoil
  2136. >She didn't even look like she could see you
  2137. >She smiles and yawns
  2138. >Quite a yawn, at that
  2139. "Glad you're up... I was kinda worried that you might be getting sick or something."
  2140. >"Nahhh... me? I'm a child of nature, Mr. A. The few times I got sick, it was from weird food."
  2141. >She picks her head up
  2142. >She looks like she's pretty chill, as usual
  2143. >She has that mellow smile
  2144. >But her eyes are bloodshot
  2145. >You can't help but wince
  2146. >That reaction makes her deflate
  2147. >"...that obvious, huh?"
  2148. >Yes
  2149. "..."
  2150. >You exhale and plant yourself down, sitting properly on the floor
  2151. "Yeah."
  2152. >She has no clever remark
  2153. >Silence reigns until you speak up
  2154. "You wanna go out after work? I kinda recognize that you probably aren't used to being cooped up somewhere for so long."
  2155. >Her mellow smile rises
  2156. >"Ooh. Like a date?"
  2157. "Yeah."
  2158. >You would be cautious but let's be real, it would probably be a date
  2159. "Why not show you off? Gotta show how lucky I am somehow, right?"
  2160. >"Heheh..."
  2161. >Her satisfied giggle says you're on the right path
  2162. >"I knew using my tail for phase one would work, you know. Can't hide it from me."
  2163. "...yeah, I guess you're right."
  2164. >"And the way you hugged me too when y-"
  2165. "Ok, you don't need to go that far into it!"
  2166. >You're kinda trying to yield enough to her but you don't want her to remind you of how it went down
  2167. >Especially because you're starting to...
  2168. >React to her favorably
  2169. >"Haaa... don't worry, dude. You and me... it's really special. I can tell."
  2170. "Oh yeah?"
  2171. >"Yeah, man... I should probably be more careful. Or worried. Or cautious. But I can feel it."
  2172. "Feel what?"
  2173. >She shrugs
  2174. >The way she shrugs, it's like her side doesn't even hurt anymore
  2175. >"Who knows? It's my first time having someone be able to cheer me up so easily."
  2176. "Oh. Well that's good, isn't it? That means it's special."
  2177. >"For real. Hopefully you'll continue to be that someone for me."
  2178. >Mission...
  2179. >Accomplished?
  2180. >Going by her words, you should probably be elated that she's been feeling so good
  2181. >But
  2182. >Something bothers you about this
  2183. >You like her but you would never actively initiate any... things
  2184. >You never would have actively thought to initiate things to begin with!
  2185. >And you still really don't know her
  2186. >No matter how you try to explain it, there's a very awkward feeling in the air
  2187. >When you don't say anything about it or get up, she gives an apologetic smile
  2188. >"...sorry. That was kind of a little much, wasn't it."
  2189. >"Of course not!" is what you wanted to say
  2190. >You don't want to be a dick about it
  2191. "Just a bit, yeah."
  2192. >She drops her head on the loveseat in defeat
  2193. >"...dang... I'm just trying to act like how Lizzy used to. It always worked for her."
  2194. >You can maybe see why
  2195. >But...
  2196. "Wait, you hope I'm the sort of guy that would fall for her tactics?"
  2197. >For the first time ever, you see her give some sort of...
  2198. >Genuine disgust
  2199. >"...ew. No way."
  2200. >She squints and recoils like your words put a bad taste in her mouth
  2201. >"...ew! No! Bro, have you seen her boyfriends?! Holy smokes, those guys were... well, I mean, one or two were kinda cool... but the most of them, after a point..."
  2202. >She recoils and shakes her head like you forced bad cough syrup in her mouth
  2203. >"No way... don't be like them, man. That would be so gross."
  2204. "I'm... glad you see my point?"
  2205. >You're at least two steps away from being able to even gauge what's on her mind
  2206. >She exhales until she deflates
  2207. >And closes her eyes
  2208. >"Man... mind if I lay down some knowledge that you can't ever repeat or tell to anyone?"
  2209. >Uh oh
  2210. >No way
  2211. "Sure."
  2212. >Dammit
  2213. >A few seconds pass
  2214. >"...really?"
  2215. >Don't even say it
  2216. "Yeah."
  2217. >Dammit
  2218. >Without opening her eyes, she starts
  2219. >"I'm sorry I'm doing stuff like that, Mr. A. I'm... I'm not like Lizzy."
  2220. >You could guess that
  2221. >"But... I want you to like me. I want it a whole bunch. I'm not kidding when I say you just have that sort of aura. Like, you're a magnet and I'm the fridge."
  2222. "I'm the magnet?"
  2223. >"Yeah, man. Animal magnetism?"
  2224. >That makes sense
  2225. "Alright. Why are you the fridge?"
  2226. >"Because I'm so cool."
  2227. >She replies to that so naturally and so confidently that you can't help but belch out an unexpected "ha!"
  2228. >The corners of her mouth raise
  2229. >"I just want you to like me, man... I know we aren't dating... and I know you got your stuff going on too. I just want to do what I can so I just tip the scales in my favor. And if I can have some fun and learn more things about you, why not? It means it'll be easier for me to convince you I'm not bad news."
  2230. >That's
  2231. >Deeper than you expected her to be
  2232. >And kinda...
  2233. >Proactive?
  2234. >Scheming?
  2235. "So... what, you get to stick around and I keep having you make it worth my while?"
  2236. >The growing smile that was trying to shine through droops
  2237. >"...that's about the size of it, yeah. You're a guy so... you really don't mind it, do you? You really seemed to not be in a position to dislike it."
  2238. >How do you be civil about this?
  2239. "That's kinda trashy, to be honest. Just because Lizzy maybe found ways to get guys to like her, you really don't need to do that with me."
  2240. >"Why?"
  2241. >She faces you with her eyes still closed
  2242. >"You liked it. We both know that wasn't a false alarm. Or an aimless cleanup."
  2243. "Because that sort of shit matters to me too, I don't want someone taking advantage of me through that. If anything, it'll make me paranoid and think that you're doing it mostly to get something out of it in return."
  2244. >She gives a stray sniffle
  2245. >"Yeah... I guess."
  2246. "Yeah. You should more than guess."
  2247. >She opens one of her eyes
  2248. >"...man. I wish I was Roxanne and you were Max."
  2249. "...come again?"
  2250. >"My favorite movie, man."
  2251. >She closes her eye again
  2252. >"Both characters like each other, it's not really that awkward, happy ending at the end..."
  2253. >You aren't really following her
  2254. >"There was no... searching for a girlfriend. He knew who he wanted and he went after it. And she liked him too, which you don't always see. Even her super cool friend got someone too. I... think?"
  2255. >Little by little she's losing her tone
  2256. >Until she's just...
  2257. >Talking
  2258. >No real characteristic inflection or tone to take note of
  2259. >"Don't let me be her, Anon... she did what I did. And worse. So much worse..."
  2260. >Maybe it's best to let her carry on
  2261. >"It started with hugging. With kisses being rewards. Then it started with kissing and grinding as rewards. Rewards for what? For... the attention. For gifts. Help. Homework answers, you name it."
  2262. >You can see that happening
  2263. >"Until she... she went back hard on what she said was special."
  2264. >You can probably fill in the blanks on that
  2265. >She sighs again
  2266. >"She's abandoned me, Anon. I don't have her anymore. She threw me away like a bloody sack."
  2267. >There's the dam broken
  2268. >"I don't know how to keep you around either. You're a man, of course there are things you like."
  2269. "I'm more than just that."
  2270. >"I know! I know... but I don't know what that is. I get something wrong, you get mad at me. Or you start to regret that I'm here. Or that you want something in return. Or stop being so nice about things."
  2271. >Who in the hell would take advantage of her to such an extreme degree?
  2272. >Or, better to say, who took advantage of Lizzy like that?
  2273. "Starsky, look at me. Enough with this avoiding the eye contact."
  2274. >She hesitantly looks at you
  2275. >She looks like she knows she's in trouble
  2276. >You give her a stern frown and lean forward
  2277. >And poke her nose
  2278. >You poke it repeatedly
  2279. >One of her eyebrows raise
  2280. >You keep poking her nose
  2281. >"...you alright dude?"
  2282. "I'm getting your attention."
  2283. >"...well you got it. Just don't go up my nose?"
  2284. >That makes you stop
  2285. "...right."
  2286. >You shake your head to clear your mind of the thought
  2287. "If you'd like to learn more about me, I'm fine with that. I want to learn more about you, so I'm alright with that too."
  2288. >No reply
  2289. "I... don't know if I can be your Max. I really don't. Because I don't know what my Roxanne looks like. You know where I was before I came back here?"
  2290. >No reply
  2291. >But she looks visibly intrigued
  2292. "I had a better job. I had an... ok apartment. And I was actually chatting up a steak house waitress."
  2293. >"Because she had the meat you craved?"
  2294. "Shut up. And... yes. She always got me an extra side of whipped butter. I even got her number."
  2295. >"How did that go?"
  2296. "It didn't. Because less than a week later, I got a call from my dad and... I dropped everything. So I effectively quit my job with no notice. I never actually contacted her. I filled up my bags of shit that I could carry and drove all the way here. The few friends I had, I told them that they could cannibalize my place and take whatever they wanted."
  2297. >"Oh... that's charitable of you."
  2298. >She's focusing enough on your story that she sits herself up
  2299. "Not really, most were just coworkers I talked to often. A few of them were jackasses. But none were bad guys."
  2300. >How long ago did that happen?
  2301. >It feels like it happened yesterday
  2302. "I even called my apartment and said that they could take my lease and shove it. I gave them the money for rent, appropriate to the day I left, and said that I just tossed the key since I was already gone."
  2303. >You did do that, didn't you?
  2304. >A few years of building up a nice kitchen, bedroom and living room
  2305. >All gone
  2306. >The entire life you were starting to build up for yourself
  2307. >Every single appliance, gadget, and goofy little trinket
  2308. >Either thrown out, taken and in someone else's home, or sold
  2309. >How much money was that all worth?
  2310. "I..."
  2311. >You really did drop everything, didn't you
  2312. >Your life died because it followed your dad
  2313. >Or did he kill your life with his death
  2314. "I... I had something set up."
  2315. >You wave your arm around, to show off the basement
  2316. "And... now this is my life. A couch, a loveseat, living in a freaking basement."
  2317. >"But... you have this entire house."
  2318. "It's not my house! It was never my house, I just lived here!"
  2319. >You didn't expect to shout that out
  2320. >She's just as surprised, her ears flattening
  2321. "I..."
  2322. >You bring your hand up to your forehead
  2323. "I don't even know what I'm doing with my life right now. The few friends I had, if they were ever really friends, are gone. My family... what's left of it, anyway. They're gone. I don't have anyone left. I don't have anyone I can go to for help, if I ever had that. I could get advice but I was always told to "figure it out" or to "fix it". And now I don't even get the advice."
  2324. >Speaking of dams breaking...
  2325. "Whether or not any of this is a good idea, or right, or should happen... I don't know. But I can't just... leave you out there. I can't not help you. But don't try to do stuff that makes you think I'm trying to use you. I'm not, I..."
  2326. >You just need a project to distract yourself with
  2327. >A bitter, ugly truth
  2328. >One that matches her own
  2329. "...I don't know what you need from your Max. I don't know if I can give that. I don't know what I can give right now, outside of... food and a place to sleep. That's all I really have."
  2330. >She doesn't say anything to you
  2331. >You wouldn't say anything to you either
  2332. >Neither of you speak or even move for what feels like hours
  2333. >You can feel the shame in the air
  2334. >Neither of you look good
  2335. >Neither of you look anything resembling good
  2336. >"...do you still want to do a date?"
  2337. >She tries to sound hopeful
  2338. "...well, yeah."
  2339. >You don't mean to sound annoyed
  2340. "I mean, yeah. I'd like that. You shouldn't be left alone in here so much. And I guess neither should I."
  2341. >God damn your tongue
  2342. >They say that you feel better when you let things out
  2343. >You don't feel better at all
  2344. >You just feel more self-aware
  2345. >You've been helping before thinking if you've had the capacity to truly make a difference
  2346. >"...it'll be alright, Mr. A."
  2347. >The way she's looking at you
  2348. >Does she really believe it?
  2349. "Will it?"
  2350. >"If you're trying, and I'm trying... how about we try together?"
  2351. >What do you have to lose at this point?
  2352. >She's been mostly honest so far
  2353. >And you really have no reason to think that this might be some sort of scam
  2354. "Yeah. Sure. I mean, I'd like that. If it means that it'll help you, I'm for it."
  2355. >She gets more of that mellow smile
  2356. >"And if it means it'll help you, I'm for it too. That's how that sort of thing is supposed to go, right?"
  2357. "Right."
  2358. >You feel so expended of all of your energy
  2359. >You feel downright exhausted, actually
  2360. "...mind if you don't repeat this or tell anyone what kinda just happened?"
  2361. >Starsky smiles
  2362. >"Sure, Mr. A. I'll help if you'll help. And you'll keep secrets if I do. Right?"
  2363. >You nod
  2364. "That's how it'll go hopefully."
  2365. >"Well right on, man. See? We're already closer now because we're open and honest with each other."
  2366. >Open and honest, huh?
  2367. "If that's the case, I could sure go for a Starsky special."
  2368. >You drag yourself to your feet and fall onto your couch
  2369. >And sink appropriately far into it
  2370. >"...which one are you thinking of? Mr. A?"
  2371. "Uh... ah... the one where you double as a blanket. But right now..."
  2372. >You look for something that tells time
  2373. >It's not even as late as you thought it was
  2374. "Right now... let's just call it a night."
  2375. >"Sure, Mr. A."
  2376. >You close your eyes
  2377. >You feel so disgusted with yourself for being so open and honest
  2378. >Not because you hate being honest
  2379. >But because this entire thing has been so awkward to deal with
  2380. >It wasn't your first plan to do this sort of thing
  2381. "Good night, Starsky."
  2382. >"...yeah. Good night, Mr. A. I'll hop over there when you least expect it. Alright?"
  2383. >Maybe it's your fatigue
  2384. >Maybe it's your shame
  2385. >You don't know anymore
  2386. >But you can feel yourself smile
  2387. "Thanks."
  2388.  
  2389. >Your yawn is a dull roar
  2390. >Your spatula is a flat lance of justice
  2391. >Your rubber tongs are the claws from which nothing can escape
  2392. >Your c-
  2393. >Starsky yawns too
  2394. >...
  2395. >It's far too soft a yawn for you to keep your mind focused
  2396. "Still sleepy?"
  2397. >"Like, seriously. I'm not saying I don't like sleeping on you? But man... you're up before the sun."
  2398. >Starsky opted to sleep on you again
  2399. >You were hesitant for it because of her side but for the last day or two it seems like her wounds have healed fully
  2400. >The two longest slices are still visible on her skin, if you part her fur
  2401. >You can feel them just as well
  2402. >After today's shower, you'll see if you can just stop wrapping her up like a mummy
  2403. "I guess I can't help it. I used to hate waking up early but I guess if I do, I just do."
  2404. >Today's menu: bacon, biscuits in the oven, and oatmeal
  2405. >You kinda find it odd that you're so easily able to go into the kitchen
  2406. >Maybe it is because you have always enjoyed cooking
  2407. >You know where everything is
  2408. >You're proud of having so much cast iron utensils and containers at your fingertips
  2409. >A lot of these things have been in your family for well over a century
  2410. >You feel connected to everyone, when you hold your skillet
  2411. >"Hey, Mr. A?"
  2412. "Yup?"
  2413. >"You... like, focus hardcore to this stuff. Were you ever a chef or something?"
  2414. "I do?"
  2415. >Maybe it's because it clears your head
  2416. >"For sure, due. I'm kinda worried you might throw me up there and filet me next."
  2417. "Don't worry, I won't eat you."
  2418. >Rather than standing nearby and waiting... and risking a random bit of grease hit her, she's sitting with a lean against the door that goes outside
  2419. "I wasn't. I can't stand the idea of cooking for pay. It would be such a ridiculous amount of time spent just standing in one place and dealing with the heat."
  2420. >You clink your tongs a few times
  2421. "Though ironically I always wanted to be a blacksmith. Same principle, it just isn't as fast-paced."
  2422. >You turn the bacon strips over
  2423. >You rarely ever do bacon for just yourself
  2424. >Starsky gives you a good excuse to get fancy
  2425. "So."
  2426. >"Sup, bruh?"
  2427. "What did you want to be when you were younger? I don't really know what sort of... careers or jobs ponies can do."
  2428. >"Haaa..."
  2429. >She glances to her side
  2430. >Her smile grows, but she looks a little embarrassed
  2431. >"You really wanna know, Mr. A?"
  2432. "Well sure. I think it's an important thing to know."
  2433. >"I guess I always wanted to be a mom."
  2434. "A mom, huh..."
  2435. >You focus on the bacon for a few moments before the weight of that sinks in
  2436. >Well, it's certainly not impossible
  2437. >There are male ponies out there too
  2438. "I guess you can't have a better goal than to have your own family. I kinda had the same goal, but I knew that it was probably going to be one of the last goals I could fulfill."
  2439. >Starsky giggles
  2440. >"You wanted to be a mom too, Mr. A?"
  2441. "Yup. I wanted to be known as "Mommanon"."
  2442. >You scoff
  2443. >She sounds impressed by it
  2444. >"I get you, man. It 's kinda cool that you want to be a dad. I never really heard any guys that wanted that. Most Lizzy knew would probably hit the road at the hint of it. It really sounds silly to me. Who wouldn't want a family?"
  2445. "For guys? Probably don't want one because that ties them down. A lot don't care for that."
  2446. >It seems like the conversation is starting to pick up
  2447. >She's more keenly focused and not slumping against the door
  2448. >"But, like... why? I mean look at you. I bet you would make a pretttttty good papa, Mr. A."
  2449. >You clamp your tongs in anticipation
  2450. >Remember, Anon, you can't eat raw bacon
  2451. >And you can't force them to get crispy before their time
  2452. "Well sure, I would. But a lot of guys? They'd be pretty happy to stick it in whoever would give them the time of day. Doesn't mean they're invested or care about whoever."
  2453. >"What about you?"
  2454. >You set the tongs down
  2455. >Dammit
  2456. >The longer you watch them, the slower they're going to cook
  2457. >You distance yourself from the skillet and rest with your back against the counter
  2458. "What about what, about me?"
  2459. >She grins, eyes locked to yours
  2460. >"Does that include you?"
  2461. >What does she me-
  2462. >Oh
  2463. "...no. To be honest, I'd rather take care of myself than to risk having kids with someone who might not be a good mom. Or to be taken advantage of by someone who would be a pretty bad mom."
  2464. >She giggles, that grin expanding
  2465. >"Soooo... if you did... that would mean that you would kinda have chosen them?"
  2466. >Does it mean that?
  2467. >You squint, taking a moment to think it over
  2468. >You suppose that does gel with your mindset
  2469. >It isn't like you've slept around any
  2470. >Your dad probably had a big hand in letting you know proper limits
  2471. >Limits like...
  2472. >You leer at Starsky
  2473. >Your face feels warm
  2474. "...rubbing doesn't count."
  2475. >Her grin drops
  2476. >"Oh come, Mr. A!"
  2477. >You shake your head in defiance with a pushed out lower lip
  2478. "Nope. Doesn't count."
  2479. >"Bruhhhh..."
  2480. >She exhales the word, defeated
  2481. >"Denied, even... and to my face."
  2482. >Her eyes go down to the floor
  2483. >"You're a harsh dude, dude."
  2484. >You get the feeling she isn't so broken up over it
  2485. >Your retort is a "heh"
  2486. "But. Apparently you are a particularly special sort."
  2487. >Her ears perk up before the rest of her does
  2488. >"...nah... you don't mean it..."
  2489. "Mmmm... I don't know. I'm pretty sure I do."
  2490. >Her tail flickers
  2491. >You can tell she's fighting the urge to smile
  2492. >You can hear it in her tone
  2493. >"I ain't special, bro."
  2494. "Nah, you are."
  2495. >The corner of her lips are twitching
  2496. >"How special are you thinking, Mr. A?"
  2497. >Your answer is as detailed and as vague as it could be
  2498. "Special enough where I don't mind you sleeping with, and on, me."
  2499. >Like a cabin door getting broken down by a horde of zombies, so does her façade explode into a proud smile
  2500. >"I guess that is pretty special, huh."
  2501. "It is. You better believe it."
  2502. >She sways from side to side, satisfied with your confidence
  2503. >"That's awesome, Mr. A. Thanks. I know that with Lizzy, she kinda got to the point that she would bed surf for a while. Like couch surfing, but... well, you know."
  2504. "I guess I do. Did you go with her?"
  2505. >She squints and shrugs
  2506. >"Like... I did? The first time or two. Because... you know, sleepovers, right? I never expected her to, uh... you know."
  2507. >You nod
  2508. "I guess so."
  2509. >She seems to like to talk about Lizzy
  2510. >But you really haven't heard anything good about her yet
  2511. "How often did she do that?"
  2512. >"Mr. A, she..."
  2513. >She rolls her eyes and looks astonished
  2514. >"Like, ever since late highschool. So, like, dig this. Prom night? I was at home, watching my shows, and she said she was going out to prom. And, so, you know, no pony policy. Totally dig it! But she said she would take pictures and all sorts of stuff. So little ol' me is vegging, popping some snackage and a bit of a pop, and she comes home. After midnight! Now, her dress being kinda ruffled and muffled is coolsville because hey, I trip and fall sometimes too, right? So whatevs. But she smells like alcohol, she smells like..."
  2515. >She squints again
  2516. >Whether in disgust or recollection, you can't even begin to guess
  2517. >"...a guy. And she's super defensive when I ask if she took any pictures. Like, she got legit mad. Like how you would get mad if I swiped all that bacon."
  2518. "To be fair I wouldn't get that mad."
  2519. >"Because you're a cool hombre. But anyway, she's all mad and I'm just shocked because... again, vegging with a pop. Totally chill as an ice ninja."
  2520. >She sighs in exasperation
  2521. >"I come to later find out, she didn't even go with her boyfriend at the time. One of the actually cool guys I mentioned. It was some guy she said she hated. So, you tell me, how do you do that with someone you hate, right? I mean, I don't hate. We're all of God's favorite little fillies. Except for the guys, and all of the non-fillies. But if I did... I would never do that sort of thing. How could you?"
  2522. >You have no clue what she just said
  2523. >How she ended up here and now
  2524. >But you think you understand everything she just said
  2525. >"And then after that... I don't even know, man. It just got out of hand over the years. I know they say that relationships change you but... those weren't relationships. None of them were. She wouldn't even know the guy's last name and she would just jump his bones like he was a recently unearthed dinosaur."
  2526. >You get the feeling that she's just ranting now
  2527. >"And anyway, what type of geek do you gotta be to do that repeatedly? I mean, how do you not get tired of it? And of the hardcore partying too."
  2528. >She ends her impromptu tirade with a heavy sigh
  2529. >You guess she's had Lizzy on the mind for a while
  2530. >You can't blame her
  2531. >You're sorta used to seeing her around
  2532. >She has been around for the better part of a month now
  2533. >Even if the lion's share of that time was spent just sleeping or being in a quiet malaise
  2534. >She goes through a few visible emotions
  2535. >Frustration
  2536. >Fatigue
  2537. >Bitterness
  2538. >Disgust
  2539. >And then fear
  2540. >"H... hey..."
  2541. >The shame in her tone is so thick you could wrangle it with your tongs
  2542. >"...w... what's your last name?"
  2543. >Oh
  2544. >You see the connection
  2545. >The best thing you can do is to just act like you don't
  2546. "Papadopoulos."
  2547. >"Anonymous Papadopoulos..."
  2548. "That's right."
  2549. >She stares at you for a good minute
  2550. >Then bursts out into a laughing fit
  2551. >It continues
  2552. >For
  2553. >A
  2554. >Long
  2555. >Time
  2556. >When you think it's over and she winds down to catch her breath
  2557. >It starts back up
  2558. >Worse, it ends up sounding worse, like she's finally given up on her inhibitions
  2559. >You can only bear it
  2560. >Like a solid oak getting punched and kicked by a martial artist in training
  2561. >But even then, the tree still feels pain
  2562. >"PAPA!"
  2563. >...what?
  2564. "What?"
  2565. >"PAPANON!"
  2566. >You're amazed she's been howling this much and isn't actually roflcoptering all over the floor
  2567. >"YOU'RE A NATURAL BORN PAPA!"
  2568. >This
  2569. >Isn't usually how people made fun of your last name?
  2570. >Eventually
  2571. >After multiple minutes
  2572. >Multiple
  2573. >Minutes
  2574. >She wears herself down
  2575. >"...so."
  2576. >You've prepared the best stone face you can muster
  2577. >"Can I call you Papa and have it not be weird because it's your name?"
  2578. >She cracks up halfway through and bursts out laughing
  2579. >You snort and your face breaks
  2580. >Oh God damn it
  2581. >You can't win, so you join her
  2582.  
  2583. >"How am I lookin', Mr. A?"
  2584. "Well... all of your bandages have been clean for a few days now. I don't see any breaks or cracks in the skin or something."
  2585. >"Helps that you've been giving me prettttty comfy rubdowns..."
  2586. "...with ointment. Only there. Yes."
  2587. >"You can be honest with me, Mr. A. I don't mind it."
  2588. >With one last check over her side, you give your seal of approval
  2589. >You never did get a reply from that ponytuber
  2590. >But thankfully things have turned out for the better
  2591. >You pat her side after petting her shaggy fur back into place
  2592. "And that didn't hurt?"
  2593. >The blue pony shakes her head
  2594. >"Nah. But you can keep patting me."
  2595. "I'll do you one better. How about we give your mop a chop and nail your tail?"
  2596. >She looks at you with an eyebrow raised and an excited expression
  2597. >"Mr. A, look at you!"
  2598. >It takes a second before you realize what you said versus what she took from it
  2599. "...you know exactly what I'm referring to."
  2600. >"Do I, or do you?"
  2601. "Whatever, I'm grabbing the shears now."
  2602. >They're safety shears, what you've been using to cut her dressings loose
  2603. >And here you thought you'd never use them more than once or twice
  2604. "So how do you like your stuff? I'm not a barber so keep it a little on the simple side."
  2605. >You can't imagine how long it has been since she's ever been cared for
  2606. >The fur on her body is maybe an inch long, two inches in some places
  2607. >Of course her mane and tail is always dragging down to the floor
  2608. >"That's a good question. I guess I never thought about it. How about you do you?"
  2609. "Eh?"
  2610. >"Check it!"
  2611. >She stands up and rolls her head from side to side
  2612. >After a few poses she shifts to face you, then away, then the other side
  2613. >"This is me normally standing and that's the main gripe, right? I'm used to it but I can't even dream of having a different style."
  2614. "So full creative freedom, eh?"
  2615. >"Totally."
  2616. >She faces you again and sits
  2617. >The gleam in her eye shows that she really is happy that this is happening
  2618. "Hm..."
  2619. >You squint at her
  2620. "Hhhmmmm..."
  2621. >You comb the top of her head with your fingers
  2622. >That only seems to excite her more
  2623. >But she isn't moving
  2624. >That's commitment
  2625. >What would look good on her?
  2626. >Bowl cut?
  2627. >No, that would just be sadistic
  2628. >Just shorten it?
  2629. >That would be easiest, wouldn't it
  2630. >Her hair is pretty voluptuous
  2631. >It feels soft and it doesn't feel all that tangled
  2632. >Is it naturally like that?
  2633. >It's hard to imagine that could really clean it with hooves
  2634. >"...Woah. Mr. A, you look intense."
  2635. "Shh. I'm scheming."
  2636. >She stifles a noise and smiles much wider
  2637. >Her eyes follow yours
  2638. >Whenever you go to the front and top of her mane she raises her eyebrows
  2639. >It's all one big lump of hair, isn't it
  2640. >How do you style this?
  2641. >You don't even style your own hair
  2642. >Last time you got it cut was at least a year ago
  2643. >You just brush it all back
  2644. "...gah."
  2645. >You close your eyes
  2646. >Visualize it, Anon
  2647. >"...bro, this is like... zen. You ok?"
  2648. >Wait
  2649. >Hold the phone
  2650. >You see it now
  2651. >Of course!
  2652. "I got it!"
  2653. >Your eyes lock onto her mane
  2654. >She sits stiff as a statue the second you touch it
  2655. >Your hand trails from the top of her head and down
  2656. >Every few inches, your hand stops
  2657. >She looks worried
  2658. >The further down your hand goes, the more relaxed she gets
  2659. >You wouldn't be a sadist and give her a buzzcut
  2660. >You probably need buzzers for those anyway
  2661. >Your hand stops an inch below her shoulders
  2662. >There!
  2663. >Firmly holding her mane in place, you bring the shears to the lump
  2664. >Since it's a straight cut, your shears start chomping at the mass
  2665. >At the sound of hair cutting, Starsky tenses up
  2666. >"D... don't cut me, Mr. A. I just got finished healing, you know?"
  2667. >The sheers are safe enough that you'd have to purposefully hold her skin out and then cut
  2668. >Cut
  2669. >Slice
  2670. >Chop
  2671. >Fourth onomatopoeia
  2672. >"...did you do the do?"
  2673. >Your answer is to hold up the two thirds of mane that you lopped off
  2674. "I'd do one of those Xena screeching things... but I think that might be a little too weird."
  2675. >The look on her face is one you will always remember
  2676. >"...dude. It's like... looking at your own history."
  2677. "It is, if you've never actually gotten your mane cut. When's the last time that happened, anyway?"
  2678. >"Like... I don't even remember. Can I keep it?"
  2679. >You furrow your brow
  2680. "You want to keep it."
  2681. >"Why not?"
  2682. "...well what would you even do with it?"
  2683. >"Water it every day until a second me sprouts from it?"
  2684. >You genuinely can not tell if she is joking or serious
  2685. "...nah."
  2686. >"Oh..."
  2687. >She sounds dejected but she'll get over it
  2688. >You set down the shears and mane chunk
  2689. "Alright. Now here comes the fun part."
  2690. >"The what?"
  2691. >You don't bother to tell her
  2692. >Instead, you dig your fingers into her scalp
  2693. >You massage her mane free, helping to brush out any stray hairs
  2694. >"Mr. A what ar-"
  2695. >Not only do your fingers flex and rub up and down her neck
  2696. >But goes to the base of her ears
  2697. >"MiStEr EeEeEhHhHhHh..."
  2698. >Her eyes cross at your attention
  2699. >Given the strength you put into your hands, it is a serious massage after a serious haircut
  2700. >Your hands work their way up and down at least a good six cycles until they rest at her shoulders
  2701. >By the end of it, her breathing is unsteady and a glossy sheen shows how unfocused her vision is
  2702. >"Holy crackers, Papa."
  2703. >You're not done yet
  2704. >With the sudden burst to your muscles and tendons that come only from realizing a spider is crawling up your wrist your fingers scratch and rub and flail up the sides of her neck
  2705. >The sudden jolt of sensation causes her hind legs to kick out
  2706. >Your vision must be seen through
  2707. >You refuse to stop here and now when you're so close
  2708. >So
  2709. >Very
  2710. >Close
  2711. >Whether you stop because of it, or because you stopped, Starsky lets out a crazed whinny
  2712. >You stop and pull your hands back
  2713. >If you went any faster they'd be smoking
  2714. >Her mane is now wild, no longer held back by it's own weight
  2715. >Rather than it sticking to one side, the poofiness is untamed and both sides of her head are equally fluffed
  2716. >It is
  2717. >Perfect
  2718. "I'm a God damned artiste."
  2719. >You don't have a hand mirror so you get up to grab your phone
  2720. >Judging by the dumbfounded look on her face and how twitchy her hind legs are, she won't be going anywhere
  2721. >You plop yourself back down in front of her and turn on the camera in selfie mode
  2722. >It takes a while for her brain to hard boot but once it does she focuses hard to the rectangle
  2723. >"W...woah!? Mr. A, who's that good dollop of horseradish?"
  2724. >...is that supposed to be a compliment?
  2725. >Whatever, it's not like you'd ever use that line
  2726. "What do you think? Feel like a new mare already?"
  2727. >"Bruuuuh, ha ha! Check it out!"
  2728. >She tilts her head up
  2729. >Down
  2730. >Each side
  2731. >She vigorously shakes her head, which somehow does not make her mane more or less wild and fluffy
  2732. >"My head feels so light now! And breezy too... holy snap, man. I'm like... adorable."
  2733. >She gives the camera a wink and her best smile
  2734. >Sadly the camera doesn't take a picture on it's own
  2735. >And you don't have it in you to ask her to do that again for the purpose of archival
  2736. >"Dang... when was the last time I even got my mane cut? I don't even look like a filly anymore. I'm like..."
  2737. >Her smile slides into something more sultry
  2738. >"...mature. And junk... talk about a new beginning... wow."
  2739. "I'm glad you like it. I was thinking of some other things and designs and... well. I don't know how to do those. So I just thought of something that might really fit. It's still long, that suits you. But it really shouldn't be a bother. If it is, we can get you a ribbon or so-"
  2740. >"A ribbon?! Dang, you really want me to be the girly girl huh?"
  2741. >You think on that
  2742. "...that a problem?"
  2743. >She gives a lazy salute
  2744. >"No sir, Mr. Barber, sir. Lizzy used to do this sort of stuff but I kinda forgot, it had been so long. Whatever you did like... was a time machine."
  2745. >Given the way she was acting, you aren't going to try to piece together what that entails
  2746. "Well, if we're gonna do that date tonight, let's get to that tail."
  2747. >You grab your shears and give them a test cut in the air
  2748. >The look on her face
  2749. >Now that, you should have taken a picture of
  2750. >"W-woah down there, cowboy."
  2751. "What?"
  2752. >"You can't just go after a lady like that again!"
  2753. "What do you mean?"
  2754. >She drags herself back, making an effort to keep her hind end away from you
  2755. >"Give, uh, give me a minute to recover at least!"
  2756. >You don't get it
  2757. "Come on, bring it here so we can take care of it too."
  2758. >"B-back away, man!"
  2759. "Scoot it over, let's cut mare hair."
  2760. >You snip the shears in the air
  2761. >"No way!"
  2762. >She seems like she isn't just playing
  2763. "But didn't you want to do the date thing?"
  2764. >Her eyes roll in such a drunk way you're surprised she didn't disorient herself
  2765. >"Bro... we skipped the date, the movie and the detour home...!"
  2766. "...because I cut your mane?"
  2767. >The sleepy mare inhales as hard as she can and nods
  2768. >"Mr. A. You rocked the house down to the foundation and then some."
  2769. "Really?"
  2770. >"Dude. Totally."
  2771. >You puff out your chest
  2772. "Alright... nice."
  2773. >Maybe you're a natural
  2774. >You knew that was the right look
  2775.  
  2776. >"See? Isn't this better Mr. A?"
  2777. "Ah... I guess."
  2778. >Starsky has talked you into camping out into the living room
  2779. >For the rest of the week
  2780. >You brought up the laptop, the blankets and the pillows
  2781. >It seems so silly
  2782. >But she did not want to let it go
  2783. >The only thing that bothers you is that the chair you sat in earlier is still there
  2784. >At least she hasn't asked about it
  2785. >It's obvious why it is there
  2786. >How embarrassing
  2787. >Dad would probably feel embarrassed on your behalf
  2788. >And now you're supposed to just sit here like everything's ok?
  2789. >You feel a hoof rest on your hand
  2790. >"Mr. A... you angry or something?"
  2791. "Huh? I'm not..."
  2792. >You look down at your hand
  2793. >It's clenched
  2794. "I'm not mad."
  2795. >You quickly come up with an excuse
  2796. >"You sure? You know you can speak up."
  2797. >Her tone is... different
  2798. >She's not really in that playful mode
  2799. >You should feel better
  2800. >But you feel more agitated
  2801. >"Hey anon."
  2802. >Starsky doesn't let you ignore her
  2803. >"It's not... healthy to stay down there all the time."
  2804. "I know."
  2805. >You don't mean to sound so curt
  2806. >You just don't feel like you should be up here
  2807. >"Mr. A. Let me ask you something."
  2808. "Huh?"
  2809. >She has a serious look on her face
  2810. >And her mane...
  2811. >It's really nice
  2812. >Has she somehow made it even more fluffy?
  2813. >"Do you like how my mane looks?"
  2814. >She smiles and sways her head to make her mane go everywhere
  2815. >It's still so long
  2816. >That is a really nice shade of purple
  2817. "Yeah. I do. It really does look great."
  2818. >"Wanna brush my mane?"
  2819. "What?"
  2820. >"Do you... wanna... brush my mane? Mr. A?"
  2821. >She isn't joking around
  2822. >You don't think
  2823. >You don't even know how to react to this
  2824. >It caught you by surprise so much that you don't even feel anxious
  2825. "...sure. Alright."
  2826. >She takes her hoof off of your hand and scoots close
  2827. >Well this is happening
  2828. >You set your hand on top of her head
  2829. >"Thanks, Mr. A. You're really helping me out with this. Since it's all chopped and stuff, I feel kinda out of whack. I really appreciate it."
  2830. >Is that right?
  2831. "Uh... yeah. Sure. Don't worry about it?"
  2832. >This makes you a little uncomfortable
  2833. >Why?
  2834. >Maybe it's because she's complimenting you for it
  2835. >"So what are we watching?"
  2836. >Huh?
  2837. >Weren't you both talking about what would be good for the night?
  2838. "We're... watching That 70s Show."
  2839. >"Why did you want to choose that?"
  2840. "Because it's fun."
  2841. >"Totally. Did you like watching it with your family?"
  2842. >Your hand falters
  2843. >"Remember the mane, dude."
  2844. "...right."
  2845. >You resume petting
  2846. "Yeah. I guess we did. It's a pretty silly sitcom, but everyone had their favorites. A lot of their worst situations were pretty... alright. Finding a job. Losing a job. Dealing with relationships, having friends to always hang out with..."
  2847. >Your hand feels heavy
  2848. >"That's cool , man. I'm glad we're friends. How about we watch through all of the show while we're out here? It looks super cool on the TV."
  2849. "...alright. Sure."
  2850. >Three scenes in and you're laughing like you used to
  2851. >Of course you didn't grow up in the 70s
  2852. >You don't think even your grandpa was alive during the 70s
  2853. >You can't imagine how it would feel to have a group of friends like that
  2854. >You never had that
  2855. >You even called your dad Red for a time
  2856. >Just as a sort of joke
  2857. >And, as a joke in kind, he would call you Kelso
  2858. >Starsky giggles at some of the jokes but not all of them seem to hit her as well
  2859. >"Hey, Mr. A?"
  2860. >She sounds more relaxed
  2861. >"Who's your favorite character?"
  2862. "Leo, man."
  2863. >"I haven't seen him pop up yet."
  2864. "Nah. He isn't in all of the episodes. He's an old dude who's really chill. Kinda like your stereotypical stoner."
  2865. >You clear your throat and bring up your best Leo accent
  2866. "Far out, man. Just a dude and his pony, watching stuff."
  2867. >You never were all that good at impersonating Tommy Chong
  2868. >"Haaa, for real! Bro, you're right on the money."
  2869. >It's kinda hard to believe that she doesn't know the show well since she sounds kinda like him
  2870. >"But since he isn't in this episode... who is your favorite?"
  2871. "In that case?"
  2872. >"Yeah."
  2873. "Eric."
  2874. >You didn't expect yourself to say him
  2875. >He was the biggest nerd of the group
  2876. >The group wimp
  2877. >Frail and proper
  2878. >Not really all that accurate to who and how you were and are
  2879. >"Woah... Mr. Clean over there? Why? Did you used to, like, be just some scrawny guy?"
  2880. "No. I guess... I just like how he always had family. He has his friends. He has his parents. Even his girlfriend's dad eventually warms up to him. And Bob is a real groovy guy."
  2881. >"Totally see your point there."
  2882. >She sways her head opposite of your hand, reminding you to keep petting her
  2883. >"...wanna hear about my family?"
  2884. >You look to focus on her
  2885. >She's focusing on the TV
  2886. "Yeah. There's Lizzy, and..."
  2887. >The less said about her, the better
  2888. >"So there's Lizzy. Her mom. Her mom's mom. And her aunt."
  2889. >Nothing but women?
  2890. >Guess that fits opposite of how your family was
  2891. >"So... like, Liz was an only kid. So that's how I popped up, right? But her mom's mom? She was really nice. She... she didn't last too long. She left us pretty early in my life."
  2892. "It sucks when that happens... when you get older, you realize just how much you missed out on. If you could just have an hour to ask questions."
  2893. >"Right... super right."
  2894. >You get the feeling that neither of you are focusing on the show
  2895. >"So... like, Lizzy's mom. She buries herself in work. And her aunt? Lisa. She comes up and... well, she was really cool too. I wonder if she had an effect on me. Because she? She was a huuuuuge smoker. And, like, the most chill chick in the hen house."
  2896. "I can see that. Taught you how to groove and hang ten?"
  2897. >"Haa... something like that. She taught me how to respect. And, like. Not because I'm a pony. She taught me to be really humble. Because even though I could do things Lizzy couldn't, she could do things I couldn't. And we used to actually kinda fight and argue about that. Like how sisters do. Right?"
  2898. "Naturally."
  2899. >"And she was around to see that happen. So she would often step in, take me out for a walk and we would just... talk."
  2900. "What about?"
  2901. >Starsky replies with a "hur"
  2902. >"Literally anything and everything, bro. The sun, the stars, the souls both humans and ponies have, weather, the lifespan of trees and what they must see."
  2903. "That's weird. Why would she bring up stuff like that?"
  2904. >"I don't know. Ha. Like, Mr. A, she was a super space case. She said that she listened to a guy online that made her start to question everything and ask every sort of question possible."
  2905. >She leans into your hand
  2906. "So. Did she ever explain herself? Or did you have to figure out why she would take you out for a walk to talk about space rocks and the power of colors?"
  2907. >"Naaah... I never had a chance to actually ask her. I... later heard that she had some sort of disease or something. And then... that kinda started to mess with her head."
  2908. >She sniffles
  2909. >You look at her
  2910. >A few tears are collecting around her chin
  2911. >Her fur seems to be hiding most of it
  2912. >"But... I think I kinda figured out the method behind the madness, man."
  2913. "Mm..."
  2914. >You can't really say anything to her
  2915. >"She made it look so easy... she was always so chill. So cool. She pretended like she could spit out ice cubes of any size, she was that chill. Whenever Lizzy and I would fight, she would pop up and suddenly we're stuck on why jelly isn't jam. And I think..."
  2916. >She swallows
  2917. >"I think that was her way of helping. She always came in to diffuse a situation and we never caught on. It makes me wonder. How much did she really worry? How hardcore did she pay attention to stuff? She looked like she was super sleepy or didn't care. But she really did care. She cared a whole bunch."
  2918. >The episode ends
  2919. >Another set of shenanigans, with canned laughter that caps off everything that is actually funny or not
  2920. "She must have been pretty smart, to always keep an eye open for stuff like that."
  2921. >"Yeah... she was really the best. Like a talking statue, man."
  2922. >You lean back in your seat
  2923. >You activate the leg rest and let it keep rising until the back end starts to go down
  2924. >You stop when you feel like you're laying at an angle
  2925. "It must take a lot of skill to be able to take the heat off of big efforts... and to stop certain situations from even popping off."
  2926. >"Yeah... I sure wish I could be more like her, Mr. A."
  2927. >Oh Starsky
  2928. >You really don't want to say anything to her
  2929. >But you should show her that she is
  2930. >If what she said is accurate, her aunt has to be pretty proud
  2931. "Well. I think you're on the right path. But you'll probably be more chill if I can chop that tail short."
  2932. >Starsky's entire body shivers
  2933. >"...n-no, that's ok. I can't handle so much change at once, Mr. A."
  2934. >That...
  2935. >You understand that entirely
  2936. "Yeah. Of course... whenever the time comes, right?"
  2937. >That makes sense
  2938. >Maybe, when you look at yourself that way...
  2939. >"...and when I think I can handle you doing whatever you did with my mane."
  2940. >...what?
  2941. >What did you do?
  2942. >You just ruffled it until she got a wild mare look
  2943. >Oh well
  2944. >There is still more show to watch

/flutterrape/ No Flut November

by BlondieAnon

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/bootleg/ 2022 Week of Terror: Sparking Shine

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/flaremare/ My Little Futa: Bar Hopping

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