Author note: This is a spinoff of my story, A Dream. It’s not required reading, and changes several details. This story is rated teen for mild swearing and internet humor.
“I’m Sweetie Belle. This is Scootaloo, and this is Apple Bloom. Our current events presentation is on the Changeling invasion of Canterlot.”
The white filly stopped speaking for a moment to let her two companions get their notes ready. She continued. “And our special guest today will tell you his own perspective on the event.”
On cue, an orange-coated earth pony walked into the room. He moved with the slight swagger of someone who knew that he was the center of attention.
“Good afternoon, kids,” he said. “I’m Valiant. You all probably know me.”
The students did. Valiant was regarded as Ponyville’s resident nutcase.
The stallion went on. “You all probably heard that something bad happened in Canterlot last week. I’m proud to say that I was there and helped stop it.”
Apple Bloom put a slide up on the projector. It was a picture of a Changeling.
Valiant gestured to the screen. “These ugly guys tried to take over the city. How they operate is to transform into a duplicate of someone you care for and then feed on your affection. Lucky for me, I’m incapable of love, and I was able to stop the attack. Could I get another slide please?” he asked. “Thanks. What you see here is a dramatization of the final battle.” The slide showed a cartoon drawing of Valiant posing with the head of Queen Chrysalis.
Cheerilee had been watching from her desk at the front of the room. She glanced at the clock and stood up. “Well, we’re running out of time now. I’m sure you all wouldn’t want to miss the end of the day. See you tomorrow!”
The students collected their things and began to file out of the room. Valiant walked over to Cheerilee’s desk. She noted that his black mane and tail were groomed more than usual, which is to say he probably had run a brush through them once.
“You know, they could have gotten you to talk about the Battle of Canterlot instead of me,” said Valiant as the last few students filed out of the room. “You were there, too.”
Cheerilee glared at him. “I was lying in a pool of my own blood in the caves beneath the castle.”
“You say that like it was my—okay, I guess it was my fault. I didn’t force you to come on that adventure, though.”
Cheerilee sighed and looked away. “I just don’t understand how all this could have happened.”
“We’ve been over this before, but let me lay it out for you again,” said Valiant. “One, Blueblood was a vampire. Two, he bit Rarity. Three, Rarity bit me. Four, you ended up bleeding like crazy in a cave. Five, I had a sip because I thought you were already dead. Six, in the midst of the Changeling chaos, I killed Blueblood, which for some reason turned Rarity and me back, but not you.”
Cheerilee’s head dropped to the desk in frustration. “It’s not fair.”
Valiant shrugged. “Vampire biology is not a science that’s understood very well. Rarity, Twilight and I can be your little support group. We used to call it Vampires Anonymous.” He frowned. “I never really liked that name because Twilight wasn't one. Oh well, you’re still lucky that only the three of us know about you.”
“Lucky?” shouted Cheerilee. “I’m a monster! If anypony found out about this—”
Valiant cut her off. “Just be as normal as possible. If the day comes that you can’t stand it anymore, I’d be happy to apply euthanasia.” He smiled and left the room before she could retort.
Cheerilee sighed, cradling her face in her hooves. Valiant never failed to infuriate her. There was definitely something wrong with that pony. He said things like everyone and anybody. The machines he managed to build were giant and terrifying. He kept insisting that he was actually from another universe. Nopony took him seriously because they thought he was crazy, so he was able to get away with just about anything.
Well, there was no point in sitting inside an empty school. Cheerilee collected some papers to grade and placed them in her saddlebags for the trip home.
She walked through the market on her way home, glancing around. It seemed strange that things in town could be so…normal. The Changelings had damaged Canterlot, but Ponyville looked exactly like it did the week before. The only thing different was her.
Cheerilee looked the same as always. The only thing she had to be careful of was smiling, but there had been precious little to be cheerful about lately. She felt like a traitor to her happy-flowers cutie mark.
While nopony gave Cheerilee a second glance, she couldn’t help but feel that she was under intense scrutiny. She was very careful, wary that any small thing she might do could give away her condition. The few ponies who had noticed her different attitude thought that she was merely preoccupied about something.
Cheerilee ran her tongue around her mouth, feeling the two sharp points that grew there. By her very nature, she was not conditioned to hate anything, but she felt no other emotion for the fangs. She hated them. She hated what she was.
Cheerilee turned off the main road and wound her way back through the quiet streets of Ponyville. Her house was a decent size, and just for her. She glanced for a moment at the exterior before going inside. It was not a particularly noteworthy place. The last time anypony had knocked on the door was Nightmare Night. She sighed. Next year, she wouldn’t need a costume.
After checking the mail, Cheerilee sat down at the kitchen table to grade papers. It was the most tedious part of her job. She didn’t get paid for it, either. Her salary was based on the time spent in the classroom. Anything else was done on her own time.
She glanced at the refrigerator. At least she hadn’t needed to spend money on food since last week. There was still a bottle of milk and some fruit in the fridge. She couldn’t consume it, but she couldn’t bear to throw it out, either.
There were a couple of assignments to be graded, a spelling test and a history exam. Cheerilee was done in a few hours. She relaxed a little and read the newspaper. Her eyes kept straying to the window. The sun was almost down.
It felt like there was not very much in Cheerilee’s life that she was still in control of. She could sit quietly in her own home and do what she pleased. That was about it. As the sky began to grow darker, however, she felt a rising sense of anxiety. She was getting hungry.
Just a walk, Cheerilee thought, vaguely aware that she was lying to herself. She exited the front door and headed out. The streets were largely deserted by this time of night.
Passing by the library where Twilight lived, Cheerilee saw Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo coming out. They climbed into a large machine that had legs instead of wheels. It was one of the older designs of “robots” that Valiant had built. If he was willing to trust such a dangerous piece of equipment to those three fillies, maybe he really was crazy.
Cheerilee saw the pony himself come out to say goodbye. He usually hung around the library and slept on the couch, as he had no place of his own. Cheerilee thought that Twilight was unusually gracious to let a pony like that stay around.
The fillies waved to Valiant and rumbled away in their robot. He glanced across the street and spotted Cheerilee. She didn’t stop as he came walking over, so he fell in step beside her.
“Where are you going at this time of night?” Valiant asked.
“I’m just out for a walk.”
He grinned. “Oh really?”
Cheerilee clenched her jaw and said nothing.
“Do you at least dispose of the bodies?” Valiant asked.
“Yes!" she snapped. "If I eat some poor rabbit or squirrel, I’ll give it a proper burial.”
Valiant shrugged. “I don’t particularly care if it’s proper. We just don’t need fang-marked corpses piling up and making the townsfolk nervous.”
"Who's 'we'?" Cheerilee asked.
"Twilight, Rarity, and I decided to rename our group the Vampire Protection Agency. Currently, we've only got one vampire in town to protect." He shrugged.
“How can you live with things like this?” muttered Cheerilee. For her, it was difficult just making it through the day knowing what she was capable of.
“Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it. Rarity likes to be all proper and uptight, but you should have seen her when it came to small mammals.” Valiant grinned at the memory.
Cheerilee glared at him. “Whoa,” said Valiant, “that's some serial killer stare you've got going on. They say it’s always the quiet ones. Anyway, good night.” He broke off and headed back to the library.
Well, there was no longer any point in pretending that she was just going for a walk. Cheerilee sighed and changed direction, her steps carrying her towards the Everfree Forest.