Assumptions XI: Call My Name
“So tomorrow morning by the Rainbow Trout Pond?” Caramel once again asked the pegasus sitting opposite him, her portion of pancakes reduced to a few greasy crumbs.
“Hmmmph,” the mare puffed and nodded all the while licking the last remains of sticky caramel sauce still clinging to her plate.
He shifted uncomfortably as his guest finished her meal with a satisfied lick of her lips. “Are you sure? I haven’t gotten the usual letter from the Winter-Wrap Up committee this year. You think it got lost in the post? I mean, we both know the local mailmare tends to… well you know. Space out.”
The rainbow mane opposite him flicked gently from side to side. “I guess, even though Derpy’s just clumsy, not forgetful. I should know…” she groaned and once again ran her hooves through her wings, wincing slightly and closing her eyes.
“Are you okay Dash?” Caramel asked, concerned.
“Of course, don’t be absurd!” she stammered and turned away.
Since when does Dash use words like absurd? “Are you sure your wings are strong enough to lead the weather team tomorrow?” He approached her and ran his eyes up and down her delicate wings.
“Yes, yes. I’ve had plenty of time to recuperate!” she barked and kept her back turned to him, as blood started rising into her face.
“I know. Still wish I could have seen you in hospital. Maybe bring you some better food…” he offered and poked his companion into her side. “You like my food, don’t you Dash?” he grinned deviously.
“Listen, Caramel,” she snapped. “I dislocated my right wing again and had a hairline fracture in the humerus. The last thing I needed was a clown like you coming in and distract me from rea… healing!”
“All right. Celestia! I was just kidding around. But are you sure you’re ready to wrap up winter?”
“Yeah, I’ll be cool. I’ll be leading the weather team, so it’s more of a managerial position than anything else” She waved her hoof dismissively. She took the dishes in her mouth and trotted towards the sink, putting them down carefully.
The sound of running water brought certain peace of mind to the stallion. He kept on staring at the cyan pegasus with a blank expression on his face. After a few blissfully calm minutes, Rainbow Dash began putting the clean dishes on a drying rack. Caramel’s head was now laying on the table on one side, a silly smile gracing his muzzle as his cheeks turned involuntarily pink.
“I’m done here. Winter Wrap-Up starts early tomorrow, so I won’t make it to breakfast. Just make sure to bring some food with you for the day. Oh yeah, after we wrap up, we’ll go see Twilight about getting to Cloudsdale.”
“Clouds-what?” the stallion replied, his focus somewhere else entirely.
“Uh, you know, the Wonderbolts’ Season opener?” she threw her hooves up, throwing Caramel a condescending look and trotting over to the opened window in his room.
“Oh that. Right. It’s… uhhhh” he once again lost his focus as his eyes started at the mare who was now arching her back, ready to leap off the window ledge.
“In three days, you moron!” she shouted as she took off to the skies.
Caramel sat up and shook his head vigorously. Yawning, he trotted over to the sink and automatically turned on the water. He shuffled his hooves inside, expecting to brush against porcelain any time. Baffled at finding none in the sink he looked around, bewildered, only to finally find what he was looking for neatly stacked by his side. Did she just do the dishes? Pondering his thoughts for just a minute longer, the heat rose to his cheeks once again. She wouldn’t, would she? He found himself staring out of the window longingly and once again tried to shake off that hazy, warm feeling.
Caramel once again surveyed the bouncy pink mare in front of him. She was beaming brightly, her eyes closed, the corners of her mouth stretched back to her ears. In her mouth, she clenched two pairs of sharp steel blades. Her whole being seemed to vibrate with some latent energy, as she stood in front of the stallion.
“Are you sure you want me to be on the ice-scoring team for this year’s winter wrap-up,” he finally spoke, hesitant. I mean, I did pretty well last year, except that one thing…
“Uh-huh.” the pink mare nodded frantically and dropped the skates, which landed in the half-molten snow. “Well, it’s not like you were the first pony that came to mind… Besides, the farming team does not really want you after last year’s fiasco. I know Applejack and Big Macintosh tried to talk some sense to them, but in the end they were the only ones… I mean; seeds. Who cares, right?” She paused and shot an inquisitive glance at Caramel who now looked somewhat crestfallen. “Oh Caramel, put that frown upside down! I’m sure you’ll do great. I mean, I’m pretty sure you’ve ice-skated before. I know last year Twilight had some trouble, but that was only because she hasn’t done much skating, even before, because she’s always buried in books, that filly. She really needs to get out more. Not that it’s a bad thing, studying magic, mind you, but still…”
The stallion chose to ignore the rest of her cheerful monologue and concentrated on the four sharp blades now lying on the ground before him. Canterlot was more known for its waterfalls, so ice-skating wasn’t something he’s done on a regular basis. He looked doubtfully at Pinkie Pie. “Isn’t it usually the mares that do the ice-scoring, since stallions are too heavy for the thinner ice?”
“Oh no you silly! Maybe if Macintosh tried skating he’d fall though, but you’re nowhere near as big and heavy as him. Why, I’d even say you’re closer in size to a mare than a stallion!” Pinkie Pie beamed at him again, completely oblivious to what she just said. “Anyway, even though you’re staying on the ground you’re officially on the weather team now,” she pulled out a blue vest out of nowhere. “You might wanna put this on! Also remember the line of command, First Twilight, she pretty much runs everything and approved your placement here. Then there’s Rainbow Dash, she’s the commander of the weather team and the sole reason you’re here. She’ll send someone to warn us to get off the ice before the pegasi direct sunlight onto it. And lastly, there’s me; Pinkie Pie. Even though I’m just the ice-scoring time manager, you’ll be dealing with me most of the time!” She once again grinned at Caramel as if her life depended on it, her frizzy pink mane seeming to expand with every breath she took.
Caramel was only half-listening by the time she finished her speech, and had already fastened the ice-skates on all of his hooves. “All right,” he grunted and stood up, trying to find balance in the melting snow. He hopped on to the ice surface, treading carefully onto the cold slippery crust. He flexed his muscles as he felt his legs sliding apart. Determined, he started propelling himself forward, remembering how he skated when he was a little colt, slowly regaining confidence.
“Woohoo. You go Caramel! See, I told you you’ll get in the hang of it. Now do a triple axel!” Pinkie Pie shouted at him from the shore, waving her hooves in support.
“You know,” Caramel shouted while still looking down at his hooves, “I can’t actually figure skate, but that was never part of the job description anyway... right?”
“Shame, Dashie told me she was sure you’d be able to figure skate. Oh, never mind. You’ll do just swell” She finished and giggled, the cold air carrying her helium-pitched voice to Caramel.
Very funny, Dash, he though, but a tiny smile spread across his face. He pushed on, leaving a smooth, cut curve behind him as he joyfully soared through the cold air.
“Uhm, well…” Fluttershy looked at her two partners. The violet mare’s green eyes were wide open and a genuine smile playing across her face. The giant crimson stallion beside her simply closed his emerald eyes and rolled the sprig of hay from one side of this mouth to another. “I guess this is your first time on the Animal Team. We’ll be reporting to Sparkler this year, again,” she motioned towards the young pink and purple mare standing some distance away, surrounded by other Animal Team members.
“Fluttershy?” Cheerilee raised her hoof. “I don’t want to pry, but I’ve always wondered why you’re never in charge of the Animal Team.”
“Oh no, that’s OK. Sparkler is actually really good with animals, the position of the Team Leader includes other responsibilities, but I prefer being out there with the little critters as much as I can.” She smiled gently at her companions. Cheerilee beamed back while Big Macintosh just rolled the sprig of hay around again.
“And,” Cheerilee raised her hoof again, “how exactly do we go about this?”
“Well, first of all, before the animals went hibernating, Twilight and I went around marking where each animal would sleep, since Twilight wanted to avoid… surprises” she shuddered her head at the memory of panic that the lavender unicorn caused when she, unbeknownst to her, woke up a pack of snakes. “Anyway, here’s the chart with all the positions we’ll be taking. If there’s an animal that you feel uncomfortable with, just let me know and I’ll wake them up for you.” She reached into her saddlebag for the maps and provided each of her teammates with a sheet of paper.
Cheerilee scanned the sheet. “There’s a bear here,” she gasped in shock.
“Don’t worry Cheerilee, that’s just Harry. He’s a friend, but he tends to be grumpy, so I’ll wake him up.” Fluttershy nodded he head gently as Cheerilee still looked on, sceptical.
“Snakes,” a low grumble emanated from underneath the coppery mane.
“Why Big Macintosh, do you have a problem with that?” The pegasus approached the red gaint. “Are you afraid of snakes?”
“Eeyup,” he exhaled heavily and hung his head down.
“Don’t worry, we shouldn’t come across any vipers, but this time of the year it’s still quite cold, so they’ll be somewhat slow.” She patted him on the back and felt heat rising to her face. She shook her head to hide behind her mane. “Do you want to talk about… maybe?”
“Eenope…” he whispered.
“Will you… will you be okay? You can go back to the planting team if you want to. I think they’d be quite happy to have a strong stallion like you… I think.” Fluttershy spoke calmly and broke the embrace. “Chin up, Big Macintosh,” she cupped his cheek in her hoof. “we’ll just take this one baby step at a time.”
The stallion looked up into her large, reassuring, turquoise eyes and stood up. “Let’s go!”
Flutteshy withdrew her hoof and followed after him. She turned back and gave Cheerilee an inquisitive glance. Cheerilee simply shrugged and both mares looked at the retreating stallion with concern and shuddered as a strange sense of unease crept over both of them.
Rainbow Dash lay on a fluffy cumulus cloud above the Rainbow Trout Pond, half-asleep. Winter Wrap-Up was progressing quite well, and even Caramel seemed to be doing quite well with the ice-scoring. Maybe because he doesn’t have anything he could lose, she thought to herself and chuckled heartily. She tried scooping some of the cloud onto herself and snuggled to it to keep herself warmer. Suddenly she felt a tug on her hind leg.
“Stop it Caramel…” she mumbled and giggled.
“Uhm… Rainbow Dash?”a soft, flustered, female voice enquired. “It’s me, Fluttershy…”
The cyan pegasus shot up and shook her head as her daydream dissolved into the fresh, thin air. Her yellow friend was leaning above her, a concerned look on her face.
“Yeah. Oh hi Fluttershy,” Rainbow Dash replied, scratching the back of her head in embarrassment. “What’s up?”
“Well, uhm… Sparkler sent me to tell you that they finished waking up the animals and the clearing the snow in Ponyville Park ahead of schedule, so she was wondering whether you could maybe clear the clouds above it, to melt the remaining snow… if that’s OK with you”
“Right…” she looked down at the pond, which was now deserted. Pinkie Pie’s team must have finished scoring it and moved on. She felt a slight pang of sadness in her chest. “Yeah, I’ll get right down to it.” She looked at the sky to see a few of her pegasi sitting on a cloud nearby. “Hey you!!!” she shouted in their general direction. “Ponyville Park, clear!”
Luckily, Rainbow Dash was well out of earshot, otherwise she’s hear a few expletives uttered at her person by a few disgruntled pegasi. This job’s easy. “ALL RIGHT!” she shouted once again, this time at nopony in particular. “I’LL BE OVER AT THE FIELDS TO CHECK THEIR PROGRESS.”
The rest of the pegasi resting on the clouds above the pond breathed a collective sigh of relief as the rainbow-maned pony manoeuvred between the left-over clouds, constantly turning her head. Where the hay is he?
Fluttershy looked down on Ponyville as she glided from Rainbow Dash’s cloud. The ground beneath her was buzzing with activity as a great number of colourful points could be seen running around, the white cover slowly replaced with green and brown patches. Fluttershy landed softly near the edge of the Everfree forest, not far from her own cottage, where Big Macintosh and Cheerliee were supposed to wake the last remaining animals on their list before the three of them would go distribute the newly-made nests to the Southern Birds. As she approached them, she saw the large crimson stallion being quite stationary, his head now resting on the shoulders of the violet mare, who was now stroking his mane. Fluttershy fought the urge to flee the scene, as she would have done a million times before.
“Uhm… Cheerilee,” she asked as she trotted to face the schoolteacher, “What’s going on?”
The violet mare turned around with a concerned expression on her face, but still continued huddling close to the stallion. “There was a mistake on the chart…” she said flatly. “Big Macintosh awoke a family of snakes.”
The mighty stallion was now reduced to a tiny ball of fear, rocking back and forth in Cheerilee’s embrace.
“Shhhhh…”she patted him on the back. “I think he’s gone into a shock. He was just a bit hazy afterwards… I don’t know how this could have happened.” She turned to the stallion and lifted his chin with her hoof. “Big Macintosh, Fluttershy is back.” She nodded encouragingly, but the stallion shook his head and kept looking at the ground.
“Oh my,” Fluttershy gasped and quickly covered her mouth with her hooves. “This is not good. If we’re lucky he’ll snap out of it within a few hours at best. Oh…” she bit her lip and continued trotting in place as she bobbed her head. “Cheerilee, I need your help. Could you please fetch nurse Redheart and tell Sparkler what happened? I’m sure she’ll make the right decision. But first…” she flanked at the incapacitated giant and shuddered.
“Yes?” the schoolteacher asked, worried.
“We need to get him to my cottage. I’ll keep an eye on him, if you don’t mind. It’s just here…” she nodded at the roof of her cottage poking over the canopy of a nearby group of trees.”
“Well, I suppose it’s for the best” Cheerilee nodded and gently let go of Macintosh. I wonder if any good will come out of this, she thought when the pegasus nodded at her and the two of them supported the giant stallion, steering his unsteady, wobbly walk to safety.
The sun had long reached its peak and started its slow descent towards the horizon. The winter was almost wrapped up, the uniform blanket of snow revealing the rich earthy colours underneath. All that remained was for the ice scorers to cut the ice on the Ponyville River, and the party could begin. Rainbow Dash, perched on the sole remaining cloud, looked down on the frozen ribbon below. The river snaked its way through the dense Everfree forest, before meandering through the fields and eventually the centre of the town, where the impatient and exhausted crowds were already lined up on the embankment, anxiously awaiting the arrival of the last ice-scorer.
Rainbow Dash might have just as well been looking at a miniature city inhabited by a large number of pastel-coloured ants. She squinted her eyes and looked towards the Everfree forest, tracing the steely surface of the still-frozen river. Out from beneath the trees, she could make out a fast moving pink point whose erratic motions would have made no sense to an outsider, but Rainbow reminded herself that the bouncing dot was in fact Pinkie Pie, and that the way she seemed to bounce off the riverbanks was simply a method to cut the ice as much as she could. Behind her, a much slower, very slightly larger brown dot moved more or less in the middle of the river, effectively dividing the strips of ice the pink cannonball had cut into still smaller pieces.
Pinkie dot continued in her erratic motions, while Caramel dot kept its slower, more serious pace. Rainbow Dash flapped her wings and started to push the small cloud above her downwards, towards the ice-scorer’s finish line. She flapped harder, the small cloud offering almost no resistance to her movement. Finally, it’s almost over, she thought as she reached the canopy level. Having already lost Caramel out of her sight by the time he’d passed underneath a bridge, she concentrated on her pink friend who was only about quickly gliding toward the finish line.
“Wooohooo,” the pink pony shouted in her helium voice as she did a triple axel over the finish line, not even breaking the ceremonial red tape that that the Mayor stretched there just a few minutes before. Eyes of the whole town traced her graceful arch, and as she landed, they awarded her with a thunderous stamping of their hooves.Pinkie Pie took a bow and curtsied to the mayor, who gracefully nodded her head and trotted onto the stage in front of the city hall.
“That was awesome!” Rainbow Dash squealed as she pushed the little cloud to the ground, reducing it into countless miniature droplets and trotted towards her energetic friend, who now stood on the edge of the crowd as everypony’s attention focused on the mayor.
“Thanks Dashie. I’m glad you think so,” she beamed and jumped out of her skates, leaving them standing vertically in the ground. “It’s really a shame Caramel can’t figure skate. I really wanted to try and do the Steel Cupcake.”
“The steel cupcake?,” a polished, high class-voice called from behind.
“Oh hi, Rairity,” Pinkie bounced up and nodded fervently as Applejack and Twilight also trotted up from behind her. “It’s this super difficult move that nopony has ever pulled off, but I thought that Caramel might be able to, since Dashie told me he was a figure skater.”
“I was just messing with you.” The cyan pegasus waved her hoof dismissively. “Speaking of which, where is he? Last time I saw him he just went underneath the bridge…” she bit her lower lip. He was slow, but not that slow. Her thoughts were interrupted by another applause.
“And now everypony, if you will stomp your hooves one last time along the riverbank, so that we may break the ice and usher in the spring!” the mayor announced and dramatically swung her hoof into the air, making the first loud stomp.
Underneath the bridge… “I know…” Twilight Sparkle exclaimed victoriously. “You see, during the night, the ice in rivers and lakes is exposed to the cold skies which radiates extremely cold temperatures producing thick ice shells on bodies of water that are exposed to the sky. However, underneath a low, wide bridge, such as the ones we have in Ponyville, the water cannot receive the cold radiation from the sky, which means the ice is slightly thinner there, so a larger pony, who might otherwise easily skate on the exposed areas might actually… fall… through-oh” she finished her enthusiastic speech and bit her lower lip.
Rainbow Dash gasped in surprise. “No, no… he, can’t have…” she screwed up her face in agony and tears started flowing from her eyes “I won’t let him! Caramel!” she shouted and kicked off the ground with incredible force, producing a powerful gust of wind. She accelerated and couldn’t even hear Twilight raising her voice in warning.
The pegasus flew over the river, just as large chunks of ice started to fall apart and move towards one another. He’ll be closed in! As she approached the bridge, she saw a single hoof twitching, trying to reach the surface of the freezing water. Rainbow Dash drew a deep, sharp , breath. It was now or never. The ice sheets began encroaching upon the already small hole in the ice.
The next few seconds were the ones that she’d barely remember. The icy water piercing her body as she plunged in and collided with a floating, limp body of her friend, embracing him with one of her forelegs as she extended the other one up, and kicked her legs. Emerging from underneath the water, she flapped her wings, and with the remaining momentum, swung both of them onto the grassy riverbank, as the sharp edges of the ice carried down the river cut into her chest.
For a second, she lay on her back, but quickly remembered the gravity of the situation. She looked at the soaking wet stallion beside her, who seemed to exhibit no signs of life. She started shivering and shaking her head and pushing her hooves on his chest.
“Breathe, Celestia damn it!” She collapsed onto him and broke down. “Breathe!”
And once again a series of violent, uncoordinated thrusts of her hooves landed on Caramel’s unmoving torso, sending his body into a small coughing fit, as he spurted out water from his mouth and his chest started rising in and falling in small, quick successions. She rested her head on his chest and listened to the sound of his heartbeat, as embracing him and collapsing onto the ground.
For a few seconds, the exhausted mare just stayed huddled next to Caramel, but in a few seconds, her friends caught up. They looked relieved to see the stallion alive. Pinkie Pie looked strangely demure and took a step toward the pegasus.
“I’m so sorry, Dashie. I should have looked out for him.”
“Well you didn’t,” Rainbow Dash growled. “You think everything’s just fun, talking about cupcakes and pranks and… figure skating.” her voice was becoming louder and angrier.
“But I know that…” the pink mare sobbed and reached out to hug the pegasus.
The cyan mare pushed her away. “You think life is just some huge party and that when things go wrong, you’ll just wake up the next morning take an aspirin and be fine? Well guess what, you were in charge of him, you should have looked out for him, but instead you talk about acrobatics and nonsense! Get away from us!!!”
“B-but Dash,” Pinkie Pie’s lips quivered as her mane lost all of its volume and started obeying the laws of gravity.
“I said go away!!!” the blue pegasus exclaimed, casting a murderous look in her friend’s direction.
“I’m sorry, I never meant to…” She bowed her head and turned around slowly trotting away, slowly picking up speed before breaking into a full gallop, and crying into the evening.
“Ya might have gone a bit overboard sugarcube…” Applejack spoke up.
The cyan mare remained defiant and continued holding on to Caramel. “Will somepony get a nurse? Now!” she snapped.
“All right, come on Twilight, Rarity, let’s go!” Applejack shook her head and gestured to her friends. “Where is Rarity? Never mind, let’s go and we’ll worry about the rest afterward!”
As the two mares left Rainbow Dash alone she pressed herself closer to Caramel. Thank Celestia he’s fine. For a moment there I really though I lost him. A small tear rolled out her eye as she pressed her face into his wet mane and whispered: “I’ll look out for you.”
The warm spring sunset illuminated the azure skies, and shouts of celebration and joy could be heard from down below, yet the alabaster unicorn continued trotting up the rolling slopes of Sweet Apple Acres, her usually coiffured mane flat, full of odd stalks of straw and minuscule lengths of colourful ribbon. She stopped her gallop and looked back on the town of Ponyville. She blinked as the twinkling party lights reflected and seared her eyes.
Bringing a hoof to her mouth, she screamed desperately: “Pinkie!” Craning her neck and perking up her ears to hear a response that didn’t come. She continued to trot deeper into the orchard, and the sound of the revellers was soon drowned out by the sheer distance she’d put between them and herself. The sun began setting, and the moment she descended down a small outcrop, its rays were blocked off completely, immersing her surroundings into deep dusk. She winced slightly and started trotted nervously in one place as she contemplated her next move.
“What do you want?” a weepy voice called out from behind a screen of trees.
“Is that you, Pinkie?” Rarity called out and trotted towards the source of the noise.
“What do you want?” the voice called out again, this time Rarity could tell she was getting close.
“Why aren’t you at the party, darling? You worked so hard to organize it…” She trotted towards and imposing apple tree, a straight, grey-pink tail poking out from behind it.
The unicorn trotted around and lit up her horn, just to see a pink pony slumped in the gnarled roots of an old apple tree, her dark-pink mane flowing straight down, obscuring her face.
“It’s all my fault. Caramel almost….” The pink mare sniffled. “And now Dashie is mad at me. She’ll hate me forever…” She reached for her head, only to wipe tears from her baby blue eyes.
“Oh darling,” Rarity sighed, “you can’t blame yourself. Rainbow Dash was just angry and exhausted, so she took it out on you. Everypony’s fine now.” She paused and took a step toward her friend.
“But, what if all the other ponies will hate me?” Pinkie Pie looked up, large tears rolling out of her eyes.
“Oh no they won’t…” the unicorn looked at the muddy ground, and slumped down next to the earth pony. “You’re Pinkie Pie, they could never hate you.”
Pinkie Pie looked into the unicorn azure eyes. “You think so?”
Rarity held out her hoof and swept the pink mare’s hair off her face, revealing a cautious, doubtful smile. “I know so. They’re already all celebrating. I’m sure everypony will have forgotten by tomorrow… Well, maybe you might have to bring some cupcakes to Dash and Caramel, but they’ll be fine too.”
The party mare giggled, but stopped abruptly: “And you?”
“Me what, dear?” Rarity asked, perplexed.
“What about us?” Pinkie sighed and gave her marshmallow friend a serious look.
The unicorn blinked, but the pink mare simply continued.
“B-because I like you. Sure, you might not be the most fun pony to be around, but you try your hardest. And you’re always there for me. But sometimes I have the feeling you just put up with me. Like if somepony classier would come along, I’d just go back to being a regular friend…”
Rarity sighed. “I’ve been looking for my prince Charming for a very long time, and we both know how that ended. Afterwards, I don’t know... I guess I decided to stop planning these things and just let go and start trying new things. I asked Rainbow Dash for advice… She had no idea what I was talking about, the poor filly.” She waved her hoof and blushed at the remembrance of the embarrassing conversation. “And then you came into my shop, asking about her, and all I could do was let you down. But the next day you were your happy self. And you never stopped being happy and trying to get her attention. That dinner at Applejack’s… Why even as we rode to Canterlot, you were making off-colour remarks to her. And I was jealous. You seemed so happy despite your efforts coming to nothing, and I was wallowing in self-pity. And your energy on that pushcart was so overbearing. I guess I couldn’t stand it any longer… I know it seems stupid”
The pink mare’s face inched towards her. “You silly filly,” the pink pony spoke slowly, her lips finally curving into a gentle smile. “You really need to let loose sometimes. I was kinda surprised at first, but now, when I’m with you I feel all giddy. I mean, I’m always smiling and laughing and bouncing, but with you it’s different. It’s more on the inside… you know?”
Rarity surveyed her friend, with a puzzled expression, but nonetheless slowly nodded.
“Ohnevermind…” Pinkie Pie dove in and gave Rarity a small peck on the nose. “Just promise me you’ll play fair, and whenever you’re feeling down, you come to me.
The white mare smiled. “Thank you, Pinkie I’ll be more honest with you… and myself as well, I suppose.” She stood up and reached out to her pink friend. “Come Pinkie. Let us go to the party.”
The part reached out her hoof in acceptance but stopped half-way. “You know what Rarity. Let’s just get out of here and watch the sun set. I don’t need to go to that party,” she giggled when she saw Rarity’s confused expression. “I’m plenty happy when I’m with you.”
The skies had already turned dark purple, and Fluttershy was still waiting in her cottage for nurse Redheart. She and Cheerilee managed to lay Big Macintosh down on her sofa. The stallion didn’t pose any resistance, but spent the next few hours absent-mindedly gazing at the ceiling. Not even when the time came to feed the animals, and the room was swarming with little critters, did he acknowledge any presence it the room other than the ceiling’s. Fluttershy, sat by his side, her large aquamarine eyes fixed on his emerald one, but apart from occasional blinking, he remained completely motionless.
The pegasus’s vision was becoming blurry, and eyelids extremely heavy. She yawned and her head slumped. Just as she was almost about to topple over and collapse onto her patient, a her mind was torn from its stupor by a loud knock on the door.
Yawning once again, the pegasus made her way groggily through the living room and opened the door. The nurse looked just as tired as her, but still carried herself with a sense of purpose befitting her profession.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t come earlier. There’s been a few minor accidents in town, but they kept me busy this whole time. Cheerilee told me he was safe with you, so I assumed it wasn’t anything too urgent…” she rushed towards the stallion to check his vitals.
“Will he be all right nurse Redheart?” Fluttershy asked, worried.
The nurse continued with her inspection and automatically replied to Fluttershy. “Yes, it’s just shock. Normally this time he should start snapping out of it. What set it off?”
“He woke up some snakes, I think. They must have startled him, I think he doesn’t like them.” Fluttershy whispered.
“Hmmm,” the nurse nodded thoughtfully, “that’s why he was always working the fields, even if he isn’t bad with animals. I suppose his sister had him put on the animal team…” she shook her head in disapproval. “We had two stallions down at the field who fainted from exhaustion after pushing those ploughs. That’s another reason why he always did the snow-clearing. Well I guess there no reason to cry over spilled milk, is there?”
She took out a small, thin injection and without hesitation plunged it into Macintosh’s flank. “It’s a relaxant,” she explained upon seeing Fluttershy’s face twisted in horror “It should… ease him, so that he can fall asleep. He should wake up just fine tomorrow, even though he may be a bit unsteady on his hooves.” The crimson stallion groaned. “It’s okay big boy,” she took out the injection and discarded it in her bag, while simultaneously slapping the giant’s flank.
The nurse was almost at the door. “There’s a party in town in honour of celebrating the second consecutive successful Winter-Wrap Up. Just thought I’d let you know.”
“No thank you. I think I’ll just stay here. Well, uhm, good night and thank you, nurse.”
The nurse just raised a hoof in recognition of the greeting and dragged herself outside, slamming the door behind her.
Fluttershy looked at her patient. He was blinking more slowly now, and his new had loosened, allowing his head to roll more comfortably to the side. She reached out and stroked his mane. He groaned softly.
“Ya know them snakes,” his whisper slurred. “Ah don’ like ‘em.” He drew a deep breath and closed his eyes. “They’re… they’re the reason why it’s jus’ AJ an’ me runnin’ the farm.” He gave a long sad sigh and yawned. “Ah know this couch” He squirmed and shifted a little, the drug obviously starting to take effect. He snored a little as he gave the tiny giggle. “How Miss Fluttershy could think Ah was a player… when Ah’ve never… even…“
With these words, the stallion finally fell asleep. The yellow pegasus looked at him, tears of joy and sadness mixing in her eyes, and laid her head down on his chest, the rising motion and the beating of his large heart sending her to the land of dreams.