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Anon takes care of bat foals (Hotfang)

By xcpony
Created: 2nd June 2022 04:17:25 AM
4th October 2022 10:45:00 PM

  1. >you clock in for your shift
  2. >you enter the empty break room and start pouring out coffee
  3. >you suddenly feel two pricks and warmth wrap around the arm by your side
  4. >your bat coworker has ambushed you in the break room again
  5. >you greet her
  6. >she hums through your arm
  7. >she gnaws on you while you're working on coffee
  8. >after offering her a cup, she leaves you with your coffee, and her love bites
  9. >you've gotten used to it; this happens all the time, and only with her
  10. >nopony else seems to care
  11. >they're all bats anyway: you've chocked it up to a culture thing
  12. >don't want to get on the bad side of the bats
  13. >especially since she's your bat boss
  14.  
  15. >"She likes you, monkey colt."
  16. >You give Crescent Tail a bit of friendly side-eye. You ask her what she means, and she gives you some eyes of her own.
  17. >"You know who. The boss."
  18. >Ah, the big mare upstairs. Well of course she does: she got you this job.
  19. >The bat mare wacks you with her wing as she goes over to refill her mug of coffee.
  20. >"Not Princess Luna. Hotfang."
  21. >Oh, right. Your actual boss.
  22. >You gulp your coffee while watching Crescent work for more. After she's turned back around, you shrug, much to her chagrin.
  23. >You do what's needed, and take up extra tasks when the boss asks you to. Why wouldn't she like you?
  24. >Crescent's muzzle scrunches hard.
  25. >"Anon, I understand you're from a... unique place, but Transylmania isn't too different from Canterlot. Intimacy is intimacy."
  26. >Intimacy, intimacy.
  27. >You sip, and then ask her if this is about the biting thing.
  28. >"Yes, I'm talking about the 'biting thing'."
  29. >You rub your left arm behind your back. The two marks are as fresh and red as they were a few hours ago. The bites were more numb than anything, and they went away by the end of every evening.
  30. >You told Crescent it was fine; ponies were plenty intimate from what you'd seen. It was just the bat pony version of a nuzzle, wasn't it?
  31. >"Well yes, but not..."
  32. >Then it's no big issue. Unlike actual important things, like your job in pony land.
  33. >You glance at the clock, and ask Crescent if she's still taking off early. The bat pouts at the cut off, but nods.
  34. >"It's a nice place outside the castle. I hope she enjoys it."
  35. >She shuffles awkwardly, and you smile. You're sure her marefriend will like the place. Draining your coffee, you tell her to have fun for you. You've got foals to take care of.
  36. >Her tired smile matches yours.
  37. >"Yeah... thanks for everything you do, Anon."
  38. >You're more thankful for them giving you purpose, but you don't say that aloud. The mood is fine where it stands, and you leave it there as you leave the room.
  39. >You've got a job to do, and bat pony foals demand all the focus you can muster.
  40. >But after all, you're only human, and tonight, a bit of your mind is dedicated to a bat named Hotfang.
  41.  
  42. >Bat ponies are incredibly expressive.
  43. >Of all the things that carried you to their corner of the castle, it was the way they carried themselves.
  44. >Their wings, their fangs, their eyes, their ears.
  45. >Compared to the other 'tribes' of ponies, their appearance was the opposite of warm and inviting.
  46. >Yet, they didn't try to hide their nature.
  47. >They also weren't as big sticks-in-the-mud as the Day Guard were.
  48. >That was more than enough reason for you to ask your benefactor, Princess Luna, if it was possible for you to spend more time with them.
  49. >She was delighted.
  50. >As it came, not many ponies took notice of the bat ponies.
  51. >You didn't blame them; the bat ponies shrouded themselves away from the day: while the Day Guard was constantly in the public eye, the Lunar Guard reveled and toiled in the night.
  52. >Whether it was of cultural or biological design, you couldn't say. All you know is that despite appearances, they're still good ponies.
  53. >Ponies you can really relate to.
  54. >And part of it came down to just how few bat ponies there were in Equestria.
  55. >Stepping out into the main play area, you take a quick headcount of the foals around.
  56. >They've gotten used to your presence in remarkable time. It's both a blessing, and a curse in disguise.
  57. >On one hand, they like you.
  58. >On the other, they know they can get away with a lot scot-free.
  59. >Yelling out names, you launch right back into your role as the fun police. Some might've seen your task as a Herculean, utterly impossible feat. But you just made it work; whatever feelings you elicited with bat ponies resonated most with their spawn.
  60. >For as peaceful as Equestria could be, you thrived on the chaos the bat ponies created. You could keep up with them and their antics. You would maintain the patience required to learn and understand their lifestyle. You did see the world as they did.
  61. >If you weren't in your current living situation under the vigilant watch of the Princess of the Night, you might've even done it for free.
  62. >But none of those thoughts give a direct answer as to what Hotfang sees in you.
  63.  
  64. >Even with sleepy eyes, the matron of the bat nursery always greeted you the same way.
  65. >You greet Hotfang.
  66. >She nods her muzzle, dragging your arm with the motion.
  67. >You're both sat on the floor of the playroom, staying mostly attentive with the foals.
  68. >Well, it was mostly just you.
  69. >Hotfang's ears swivel at your forlorn sigh.
  70. >You'd just rolled out the dinner cart, and the foals usually behaved well. The other bats who worked at the nursery tended to say otherwise. But really, most of the fighting happened at play, not with food. Right now, they were hungry, hungry bats.
  71. >Silently, you lower your gaze to Hotfang.
  72. >The fanged mare is latched firmly onto your arm by her teeth. She's practically coiled around your arm like a snake, though nowhere near constrictive.
  73. >With her barrel pressed low into the carpet, she's curled into and over you. Her head just barely edges above a knee.
  74. >You try petting her mane.
  75. >She leans into your hand, but doesn't loosen her grip. Her tufted ears twitch.
  76. >After a moment, you ask her if she thinks this is a little much tonight.
  77. >By way of reply, her tail swishes.
  78. >Your arm tires from the awkward reach. You set it in your lap, close to your other occupied arm.
  79. >You give the bat foals a quick check.
  80. >All quiet on the eeestern front.
  81. >Returning to the matter at hand, you move your hand a little closer to her muzzle.
  82. >Her eyes are still squeezed shut. As always, she's enraptured by her blissful bite.
  83. >You boop the bat.
  84. >Her muzzle sours, and her closed eyes furrow. Her wings ruffle noisily—a deliberate effort. She snorts into your hand.
  85. >Your attack thoroughly dispelled, you relieve your hand of its duties.
  86. >Best not disrupt the bat matron further.
  87. >Your life may depend on it.
  88. >Or rather, it already does.
  89. >You rest your head against the wall, and stare into the comfortable cache of foals ahead.
  90. >You're still a little lost in this world of ponies, but some things are certain.
  91. >It's nice to be on the good side of the bats.
  92.  
  93. >But the bats still have their bad side.
  94. >It’s at least a mountain range away, though.
  95. >You recall Crescent’s earlier mention of Transylmania. This time, you let your emotions free: you frown.
  96. >You don’t like thinking about Transylmania.
  97. >It’s the chief reason that a nursery exists for the bat ponies of the Canterlot Royal Guard. The Day Guard doesn’t have one, and they certainly have no need for one; their families live in Canterlot proper.
  98. >The bat ponies don’t quite have that privilege.
  99. >To put it simply, Canterlot tended to not blend well with bat ponies.
  100. >You haven’t been around them for all too long, but with a few nights of bustling bar-nights under your belt, you’ve felt it more than enough.
  101. >They’re both mountain cities, but there are too many differences between them for the bat ponies to call Canterlot home.
  102. >But they were forced to.
  103. >Transylmania had a zero-tolerance policy for families who willingly left its borders. Above all, bat pony families were to stay together. If they wanted to serve the Equestrian Crown through service, or otherwise live elsewhere in Equestria, then their family would go with them.
  104. >And if the household didn’t return as a whole, unbroken unit, they wouldn’t be received at all.
  105. >To you, it’s unabashedly arbitrary, but both Princess Luna and the bat ponies seem to accept the sovereign city’s wishes. There’s some good to the concept, maybe—families that stick together can thrive together—but from what you’ve heard and experienced, it’s an archaic rule clearly designed to create cultural and familial divides.
  106. >More chiefly, it’s a law made to strip foals of a proper environment to exploit their tribal bloodlines.
  107. >Maybe even severing them from their history altogether.
  108. >You suspect the ponies in Transylmania have their own thoughts on the values of loyalty, but you’ve never spoken aloud about said suspicions.
  109. >Still, some of the bat ponies you know make it work: while they live in Canterlot, their families have settled abroad in Equestria.
  110. >There are some towns with bat pony majorities out in the Hayseed Swamps, and of course, there’s the well-known Hollow Shades. From what you’ve heard, they’ve established themselves as proper grounds to raise a true-to-heritage, Thestral-blooded bat pony.
  111. >But the average Canterlot bat pony is ill-equipped to foster that kind of foalhood.
  112. >Because most of them lack a family.
  113.  
  114. >Leaving Transylmania puts a noticeable mark on a bat’s psyche: every bat you know has their own story, and you know a lot of ‘unlucky’ bat ponies.
  115. >Ponies who didn’t form meaningful terms with their parents and siblings as they moved from the gray mountains of Transylmania, to the greener pastures of Equestria.
  116. >They’d sworn fealty to the Crown, but before the Crown, there was Transylmania. The capital of Thestral ancestry.
  117. >Those ponies had brought their families to Equestria in one way or another, and they had done so with the intent of aiding in the growth of the bat pony tribe. And they’d fallen out in some way. But that desire remained.
  118. >A desire to fulfill their ancestors’ wishes.
  119. >More bats.
  120. >Commonly, you and the others refer to the foals as belonging to ‘House Canterlot’.
  121. >Even though you all know that Transylmania would never accept a house with a name like that.
  122. >But you and your bat coworkers do your best to give the foals the best foalhood they can have.
  123. >They all have a stake in their lives: some of your coworkers have sired and birthed them; others pass down their close-breasted tales of Transylmania to the foals and younger bats; more see it as a way to form lasting bonds in a world dominated by the other tribes.
  124. >You believe community means a great deal to the Transylmanian bat ponies. Maybe even moreso than the Equestrians. But that’s a low bet to take: you know how small the bat pony tribe really is. And with how you’ve seen them stick to one another, you know they care.
  125. >You feel Hotfang’s teeth loosen around your arm. In a few moments, she’ll ask you to do something; that’s how these nights usually go.
  126. >She lifts her head up. There’s a glint in her eye like usual, but now…
  127. >…it’s different.
  128. >“Anon.”
  129. >You blink at her.
  130. >She squints at you.
  131. >Her eyes scan, ears turn. And then…
  132. >“I can hear wings beating in that skull of yours.”
  133. >Hotfang smiles, laying her neck down across the warm spot on your arm.
  134. >“What’s on your mind?”
  135.  
  136. >There’s a lot on your mind.
  137. >An awful lot.
  138. >It’s not like you wanted to be doing a whole lot of thinking with your life, but when you’d wound up on the Canterlot streets, and then moved into a dingy dungeon, you hadn’t exactly adjusted immediately. A lot of thinking had to be done. Compartmentalizing amid daily reminders of “Your old life is gone.”
  139. >It might have been far past by now, but in the grand scheme of things, it was still recent memory.
  140. >You just tell Hotfang that you’re still getting used to Equestria, and the way things work.
  141. >Her tail brushes idly against the floor behind her.
  142. >“What kind of things?”
  143. >There was something… motherly, about Hotfang.
  144. >It made sense, given she was the chief charge of the bat pony nursery.
  145. >And it did match well with the command she projected as a reserve guardsmare.
  146. >The bat bats your leg with her hoof.
  147. >Right, thinking.
  148. >You ask Hotfang why she approved you.
  149. >She hesitates.
  150. >“Princess Luna ordered me to.”
  151. >You know that’s not true.
  152. >Her gaze falls from you.
  153. >Even under her watch, you know that Princess Luna simply isn’t that kind of pony. She understands how to relegate command; she doesn’t undermine her subordinates in their areas of expertise. She doesn’t personally enforce every order, she trusts ponies like Hotfang to do that. The chain hasn’t been broken by an alicorn ruler.
  154. >Yeah, you’ve picked up a thing or two while mingling with the bats of the Royal Guard.
  155. >You tell her that it’s more likely the princess ‘asked’ her to.
  156. >Hotfang’s ears fall, and she sinks deeper into your arm.
  157. >You ask her again: what did she see in you that made you trustworthy among the most precious population in Canterlot Castle?
  158. >“You’re an outsider, like us.”
  159. >Like ‘us’?
  160. >“Anon, you’ve seen it. You’re the only non-bat pony who works shifts here.”
  161. >That’s true. In fact, you noticed it on your first day, or rather, night. Nopony else—save for occasional staff visits from the castle’s medical ward—works with the bat foals.
  162. >“You don’t let Equestrian customs get in the way of helping us. You stared at us, but in a good way. A way that told me you could care.”
  163. >You’d forgotten about that. You suppose you’ve just adjusted well to the bats.
  164. >She nods.
  165. >“Very well. I always make sure to bring up the good you do in my reports to Princess Luna.”
  166. >It doesn’t surprise you that Hotfang is keeping an eye on you.
  167. >Hotfang bats you again, and lets out one of those funny ‘keekee’ giggles the bat foals are so fond of.
  168. >From the other side of the room, you hear a few kees in reply.
  169. >“I’m not just reporting about you, Anon. Princess Luna is really interested in the work we do here. This is all a community initiative, remember?”
  170. >Of course you remember: your interest in the bat enclave has driven your everyday life for months.
  171. >But orientations for work were still boring.
  172. >“That didn’t seem to stop you from asking questions about every little thing you saw.”
  173. >You shrug. Hotfang asked for them, and you delivered.
  174. >“And deliver, you still do.”
  175. >Hotfang rolls, her mane falling all over you as she settles onto her back. She lets her wings fall open and rest against the ground. With her head upside down in your lap, she peers right up at you.
  176. >You look between her and the foals. They’re getting to that point.
  177. >“You know we’ve got time.”
  178. >She’s sure gotten comfortable around you.
  179. >Hotfang grins.
  180. >“It goes both ways.”
  181. >You suppose that’s true.
  182. >You draw your arm free from under her, and snake around to her barrel. You start rubbing under her tucked forelegs. Her face softens.
  183. >“You really don’t mind the way I act around you?”
  184. >You think about the surprise you felt when she first nibbled on you. It didn’t hurt, and more than a small part of you liked it. You hadn’t turned her away at that moment, and so she’d kept at it.
  185. >You tell her you’re not going to turn down her good warmth on cold Canterlot nights.
  186. >Hotfang smiles. Your cheesiness had its intended effect.
  187. >But you have to wonder: it’s not just about letting you work with the foals. It’s also about her wanting to be around you.
  188. >Unless, by Occam’s razor, she’s just clutching you for that free warmth.
  189. >Her smile doesn’t fall.
  190. >“Maybe I just enjoy knowing somepony who’s so interested in bat ponies, and our history.”
  191. >You stop rubbing her barrel.
  192. >You tell her that if that’s the case, then maybe you’ll take Princess Luna up on her offer to leave Canterlot, and take up a more permanent residence in Equestria.
  193. >She gasps, her hooves locking around your arm.
  194. >You laugh, and her shock turns to an upset hiss.
  195. >“Anon!”
  196. >There’s no need to worry about you leaving anytime soon.
  197. >If that what she likes about you, then you’re happy staying where you are.
  198. >As her anger fades, you start brushing at her again. A tiny fanged smile crosses her muzzle. While you resume watching the foals, she speaks quietly.
  199. >“For your sake, I do hope the princess finds a way to send you back home. But right now, I’m happy to have you with us.”
  200. >The foals are just beginning to reach that point. You’ll have to get up soon, and get back to work. They’ll want to play, and then you’ll settle them down, get the younger ones tucked away for nap-time, and the others herded to the last of the night’s classes.
  201. >Then you’ll have free-time. Maybe you’ll explore the castle some more, or more likely, you’ll bum around the night guard barracks with your friends before going out to face the Canterlot night-life together.
  202. >And tomorrow, you’ll do it all again.
  203. >You look down at Hotfang. In your cross-legged lap, she’s still looking at you, gently smiling.
  204. >You bring your right hand around from your knee, and brush the back of her mane. You cradle her as she lays halfway in your lap. Her ears twitch, and her wings flutter. Your gaze lingers on her.
  205. >“Anon?”
  206. “I am home.”

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