After another rousing session of 'clean the filthy Colt' - again with Mr. Cake, that poor long-suffering stallion - I came back downstairs to find a party in full swing. So many ponies, so many eyes staring at me ... is it a bad sign I'm finding them less creepy? Probably.
And the party. Oh my god, the party. Pinkie's parties were just like I expected them to be and that disappointed me. Fruit punch, piles of snacks (most of which had a bite already out of them but nopony seemed to mind), and, eugh, party games. There was 'Pin the Tail on the Pony' going on in a corner - headed by Cheerilee - with a few board games popped open being used and somewhere I heard music starting and stopping along with the clattering of many hooves. And you know what was really bizarre? ADULTS were playing these things! Adults! I haven't touched a board game since I was, like, six!
"This party sucks," I mumbled under my breath as Spring nudged me into the room, carefully avoiding the mop and bucket at the foot of the stairs. Right next to a freshly clean but damp section of the floor. My cheeks grew red just thinking about it.
"Oh hush. Pinkie went to a lot of trouble to get this set up and this is a perfect way for you to see how healthy, stable ponies interact." She nudged my unwilling body even further into the room, ponies parting to make way. "Though that surprise was a little much ... "
"I'd be able to 'interact' better if you weren't sticking your muzzle up my butt." That earned me a slight glare but it also stopped her from pushing me with her face. Instead, she switched to hooves.
"Go out there and mingle!" With a final shove, I was propelled into the writhing crowd of bodies. Being a kid sucked. Being a kid in a crowd of way-too-tall ponies sucked worse. I kept feeling as though I was going to get trampled as the crowd heaved and waved around me like some type of living ocean. And yet, at the same time, I felt comforted. Safe. Herd instinct I guess. Which means my brain is being affected by my body. So not only was I not in my own body but my whole personality was just different enough that I'd probably classify as someone entirely different. Cue panic attack.
"Well, you must be Bruce." My mental breakdown was interrupted by a voice I knew so well. Not 'best pony' but really close to it. A purple unicorn stepped out from the crowd, smiling at me with bright purple eyes. If that wasn't a dead enough give away as to who she was, the single pink stripe in her hair should have been. Her voice was loud enough to cut above the chatter yet not so loud as to draw attention to us.
"Do I have to be? So far, this life kinda sucks." I was petulant and I didn't care. Waking up early, tumbling down stairs and then peeing myself in front of the entire town was not a good way to start a day. Twilight Sparkle, personal student of Princess Celestia, blinked at me in response.
"Uhm, yes, well, I've heard quite a bit about you from my friends." She gave a nod over to a small cluster of ponies sitting around the snack table. I recognized them, of course. Elements of Harmony and the wet-dream of many a high school brony. And some not-high school I guess. Anyway, they were all here and it was going to be a chore not to let something slip. Wait, why was I trying not to let anything slip anyway? Twilight lifted a hoof to her chest, undoubtedly preparing to give some pre-checklisted speech or something. "My name is Twi-"
"Twilight Sparkle, protege of the Princess and Bearer of the Element of Magic. Yes, yes." I waved a hoof at her dismissively before taking a step forward, a smirk on my face. "How'd your checklist go this morning?" Twilight blinked at me, her face confused for a brief moment. Suddenly she chuckled.
"Ohhh, a fan huh?" She brushed off her a shoulder (screw this horse terminology, I'm sticking with what I know) and broke into the smuggest grin ever. She peeked one eye open after a second and chuckled again. "Yes, well, I don't like to brag or anything. I'm just a really lucky filly. And I hear you're quite the smart colt too."
"Sure, we can call it that." I shrugged. "I'm more inclined to think I'm an average human but, eh, go with what you know I s'ppose." Twilight rolled her eyes.
"Those books aren't even that great." Ok, that came out of left field. I blinked in slight confusion before I remembered what she was talking about. Understanding dawned on my face.
"Oh, well, I wouldn't know, never read them. I li-" Twilight shook her head, interrupting me with a snort of irritation.
"I mean, life without magic? That's not even possible! And don't get me started on that 'hands' thing. Just some ponies can't be happy with what they're given." Okay, I was going to have a nice, calm and adult conversation with her. Was.
"Oh, and I suppose you've got it so rough what with having magic and all. I bet you haven't even tasted a doorknob in years." Seriously, why the hell couldn't I have been a useful pony, like a unicorn or a pegasus or something? With one, I could work as if I had hands! The other, flying is awesome. But no, I have to be some dumb dirt pony drooling on doorknobs and handles all day.
"Excuse me? Unicorns don't use magic for everything! It's not like it's my fault I was born this way!" Twilight stamped a hoof, anger creasing her forehead as she stepped forward slightly. I stepped closer myself, my own anger clear on my face.
"I never said it was but it must be so convenient to have the power to make an entire town go crazy!" Why was I getting so upset?
We were muzzle to muzzle (ok, MOST horse terminology), pressing our noses together as we stared into each others eyes and, well, pretty much growled at each other. The argument had caused the sounds of the party to slowly cease as it got more heated and now we were locked in vicious mental contest in a circle of staring and confused ponies. Behind Twilight, I could barely make out the form of Pinkie Pie, her face a contortion of fear and horror at the train wreck that was unfolding in front of her eyes.
"OK! That's enough you two! Bruce, that way. NOW." Spring Meadows forced herself out from the crowd, physically pushing Twilight and I apart. She pushed me back towards the crowd, keeping hold of Twilight as she did so. "Twilight, dear, we need to talk."
They disappeared into the kitchen, Twilight fuming and shooting looks of pure hate at me. Actually, more like mild irritation but a colt can dream. As they left, every face followed them, on each a mask of pure confusion, but once the pair of mares vanished from view, every head slowly turned to regard me.
"What are y'all staring at?" I growled, stomping off to find a place to be alone. The crowd parted to let me through. I mumbled under my breath as I stalked through the bakery. "I need a drink."
I was sitting dejectedly under a table, the covering hiding my spot from sight, my mind churning. Why had I been so emotional? Sure it was a freaky situation but I should have been able to keep calm. And even if this foal body was affecting my mind to that high a degree, I should have been able to contain myself regardless by the sheer fact that I know I was being affected. The sounds of the party weren't helping me in the slightest, too loud to ignore but not loud enough to complain.
Twilight's voice sounded from nearby. I could see her hooves underneath the table cloth. She sounded ... sad. I facehooved. Again. Without speaking, I slid my way out and stood in front of her. She looked ... well, a bit of a wreck. Her hair was mussed and her eyes were a bit red. She had probably been crying or something. Behind her, the other Element Bearers stood in a little half-circle, keeping the part-goers a bit distant and looking just as bad as Twilight. I have no idea what Spring said but this was becoming a nuisance. I really needed to find out what that Counselor thought beyond just 'abused' because, wow. It looked like someone just told them all Princess Celestia was going to die. Twilight opened her mouth to say something.
"No." She blinked at me. I saw her friends look at each other in confusion in the background. "There's nothing to be sorry about Twilight. In fact, I should be sorry. I have no idea what brought that on. It's probably stress. I don't know. I shouldn't have been so ... angry."
We looked at each other for a moment before Twilight smiled gently.
"Well, I'm sorry as well. I shouldn't have been so quick to anger either. Friends?" She held out a hoof. Without even thinking it over, I joined mine to hers with a smile.
"Bruce?" Spring's voice caused the grin to evaporate from my face. She was standing just outside the circle of Bearers with a surprisingly gentle smile. A light yellow male unicorn stood next to her with a matching one. "There's somepony here who wants to speak with you."