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21w, 2dFin.52 comments · 653 views
51w, 20mHanging up the saddle for a time (an open letter to everyone I have obligations to in the fandom right now)24 comments · 507 views
tl;dr I have life things happening, so no pony fandom for me for a while.
So, hi folks. I know some of you I've promised reviews and commissions and things; I've tried to contact all of you (and send refunds where appropriate), but in case I forgot a few people, I'm posting this.
The day before Thanksgiving, Ebon Mane broke up with me. (He's being pretty gentlemanly about it, so don't send him hate mail or anything of the sort.)
As I've been living with him, I kind of need to sort out what I'm going to do now, where I'm going to go, where I can find work that's not crappy low-paying contract stints, etc. Sad to say, pony becomes something of a distraction when I have issues that important on my plate, so to make sure I can give all of these things I need to decide the attention they very badly need. So, no writing/pre-reading/editing/anything pone for the foreseeable future from me. I don't know when/if I'll come back, because right now bronydom has this hint of personal emotional baggage that really kills my enthusiasm for it. However, it was not that long ago that this stuff was fun, or at least most of it was, so right now I don't see myself staying away for very long once I get my life sorted out and settled into whatever I'm going to do now.
If I promised you a commission or something of that nature and I haven't been in touch with you, please get a hold of me with my apologies. It's best to use email (gmail, not the old derpymail one) to contact me, since I don't imagine I'll be checking Fimfiction very much, if at all, during this period.
Just don't burn the place down while I'm gone, alright? I doubt this is a goodbye.
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First of all, I've gotten a little preoccupied with a few things (the least of which is the fact that I am not writing nearly as much as I should be these days), so I'm closing story commissions for now. I just don't think I have time for them, given that I'm being slow as molasses on editing/review commissions as things stand now. (Those of you waiting, I'll get to you soon, I swear.)
Second, in one of my many roles as a volunteer Hater of Terrible Things(tm), I've been informally linking horrible/hilarious pieces of art on DeviantArt that I find on the front page to friends. Someone suggested I start a tumblr for such things, and well, I did. Take a look if you want to see me posting terrible art and mocking it in the tags.
Finally, WardenPony, one of Skirts' editing slaves, is doing a 24-hour charity streaming event tomorrow. Those of you who actually have money, go forth and throw it at your screen for a good cause. Some brief details can be found on his blog here.
Double fine-ally, on the writing front, I... have no idea when I'll have something new here. I'm still focused mostly on original stuff, but I have one story that just needs a complete rewrite and another story that's about 10% written. They'll probably make it on here eventually.
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As some of you may have heard, the Pony Fiction Vault is ceasing operations. As someone who's rather concerned with promoting good quality fanfiction in pone, I was distressed by this, but then Benman contacted me about a project called the Royal Canterlot Library that hopes to serve as a follow-up to the Vault by continuing to interview authors and feature some of the best stories in the fandom. We have our main site and a FiMFiction group all set up, and our first feature, Princess Celestia Hates Tea, is scheduled to go up later today. We've got a lot of great stories and interesting interviews lined up, so I hope y'all enjoy.
Also, if you have recommendations for the group to read, you can hurl 'em at me in the comments or on the FiMFic group's forum thread. There are too many horse words for the five of us to possibly find all the good ones, so all the help we can get is appreciated. (I swear, the only fanfic I have time to read anymore is the stuff I pre-read for EqD or recommendations for the RCL.)
(Please note: we generally only want Complete stories.)
UPDATE: Our first feature is up!
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“Take me, you magnificent beast.”
Captain Glass loomed over me, his strong, muscular forelegs pinning me to the bed. “You've wanted this for a long time now, haven't you, Eagle Eye?”
I moaned as Empty Glass lowered his muzzle to my chest and slowly pulled off another strap of my armor. “You know, sir... this has got to be some sort of abuse of power.”
He lowered himself closer and nibbled on my ear. His hot breath made my ear tingle as he whispered, “Is it really abuse if you like it so much?”
It was true. The stallion of my dreams, finally here in my apartment. Everything would be perfect. Everything was finally right. I had set some soft cello music playing—always had to set a good mood on a first date—and set some vanilla-scented candles to burning. True, I hadn't thought we would go this far, but I had never been one to doubt my good luck.
I was grateful just to have some good luck for a change. I had expected Empty Glass to be taciturn, reserved, maybe even a little shy on a night in, although of course when he had suggested I just cook him something for our first date, my little dirty mind had raced with possibilities, but the moment he had walked in, he had ignored the dinner, ignored the music, but definitely not ignored me.
As he started kissing my neck, I felt like a whore. Was I really so desperate that the moment a stallioncrush reciprocated my feelings I lifted my tail for him?
Apparently I was.
Still, as I admired his flawless black coat, he put his muzzle right next to mine. His eyes—those thoughtful, calm blue eyes—seemed to fill my field of vision. They were almost intoxicating, the way I could see my own starry-eyed reflection in them. What was I more attracted to: the hunk of a stallion looming over me, ready to make me his, or the doe-eyed colt in his eyes? The thought seemed strange: absurd, even. Who would possibly choose to admire themselves when a perfect specimen of the species was right there?
“What are you thinking about, Eagle? You always look so faraway when you get that look in your eyes.” His right hoof traced a line down my stomach, and I shuddered as he reached lower.
“I was thinking about you. This. It's all so c-c-crazy. I mean, you aren't exactly the nicest to me, but then you ask me on a date out of the blue?”
“Bit surprising, I'm sure.” A rare smile crept over his face. Not a sarcastic one, like I was accustomed to seeing from time to time, but a genuinely warm grin that seemed to almost light up his entire body.
I said nothing, but instead wiggled my rear, relishing the smooth feel of my bed's silk sheets against it. I didn't care if they'd cost most of a month's salary; they would make this night perfect. This was going to be the best night ever; the stallion of my dreams, here to hold me close and make me the happiest colt in the world.
Glass' lips parted, as though to say something, but I darted up and kissed him, wrapping my forelegs around his neck and dragging him down to my level.
My eyes closed. I wanted this moment, this night, to last forever. For once, everything felt perfect.
The sun streamed into my eyes from the open window of my bedroom, causing me to hiss in a sharp breath and flinch. My head throbbed with a consistent headache. Had I been out drinking again last night?
Bleary-eyed, I rolled over to look at my clock. With alarm, I noted that I only had a few minutes before I was to report in.
I sighed as I hoisted myself off my bed and dragged myself to the kitchen for a bite to eat. While it was nice to occasionally have some time to myself, my apartment felt awfully lonely at times. More than once, I wished I could have a coltfriend around to brighten the place up a bit. I meant marefriend. Marefriend. I only liked mares. I was normal; I wasn't into all that coltcuddling stuff. Despite all the stallions I brought home after too many drinks. Despite all the sore asses I woke up with night after night after night. Despite the all-too-frequent homoerotic dreams starring my boss.
In my half-asleep haze, I bumped into a wall, eliciting a wince as my sore rear end screamed in pain. Maybe I'd been a little more drunk last night than I'd thought. Still, I had a job to do, despite evidence of my escapades with... with... who had I been with, exactly? I stopped abruptly, partway through a hasty mouthful of leftover waffle. Who had I been with last night? I had went to my favorite bar, The Prancing Pony, last night, met someone, and... I shook my head again. Why couldn't I remember anything? Was I really drinking to excess and then hooking up with random stallions whose names I couldn't even remember?
When had I become an alcoholic whore?
My shoulders slumped. I wasn't coping well with what had happened to me a few weeks ago; that was no surprise. Something about almost being molested by a divine—or semi-divine, I didn't really pay attention to whatever the common theory of the day was, and neither Celestia nor Princess Luna ever commented on the whole debate—co-ruler of the country wasn't exactly something one could recover from overnight.
I was supposed to go on a vacation, with pay, but that hadn't turned out so well. The night after the Day of Discord, I'd apparently—though I had no memory of it—gone on a large bender to try to forget that leering royal face, which had made me feel as powerless as a bound foal before it. I had forgotten to take off my uniform, and I'd woken up from a blackout with a few military police reading off a long list of offenses ranging from property destruction to disturbing the peace to tarnishing the name of the Royal Guard. I hadn't remembered any of it, but such was the windigo of drink. I had been sure I was finished, but Empty Glass had stormed in at the last minute, screaming at them about how valuable I was. “Don't you know this pony is an unsung national hero? He helped restore Her Highness to normal just yesterday!”
I had never seen Empty Glass so angry, but in that moment, spittle flying from his lips, backing the two burly ponies into a corner, I had fallen for him almost without reservation. Here was a pony who had never done anything but berate me, and he was fighting for my honor. Something almost magical drew me to him, and I swore as I sat and swooned over him, he had swelled up and redoubled his verbal assault on those who would have had me thrown out of the Guards.
Of course, it hadn't been so simple. Later, he'd come to me and explained that I wouldn't face any charges, but I would have to forfeit my month of vacation, regardless of whether it came from Celestia herself or not. I liked being in the Guards, and I didn't want to seem ungrateful for the lengths Captain Glass had gone to on my behalf, so I had agreed. I had kept my job.
However, just the thought that I was sharing the building with Celestia made me uneasy. I hadn't run into her since I had started work again—which was odd, considering that my unit occasionally guarded her when not needed for other matters—but I was not about to question my luck. Lately, all my luck had been awful.
Still, today would be different. Today, I was going to be normal. Today, I was going to be Eagle Eye, mares' stallion extraordinaire. I struck a pose in the mirror as I finished getting my mane just so. Today, it would be me on top, world, assuming I could make it there on time; I would have to use the locker room, as I had left my armor there yesterday anyway.
Ready for a long day of performing menial tasks for Captain Glass, I trotted into the locker room, awed as usual by the sheer size of it. I didn't know how many other guards worked in the castle, but it always amazed me that there was only one locker room for all of us. At any given time, at least a few would be either getting ready for the day or showering off after a long one. I had my suspicions that a few just spent all day in here, taking in its rose-colored walls and other “scenery.” In fact, perhaps there was a unit just to prevent that: the locker room military police. With a distant smile, I wondered if I could secure a transfer, not that I'd be suited for the job, thanks to my stupid wandering eyes appreciating the beauty of ponies regardless of gender.
As I walked over to my locker, the tile feeling as strange as ever under my hooves, I heard hoofsteps to the side and glanced over to see Hair Trigger exiting the mare's showers, her body still dripping wet.
“Y-you look good with a wet mane...” I stammered, unused to seeing her normally poofy mane slicked down by copious amounts of water.
“Oh, do I?” She spun in a quick circle, and her wet tail slapped me in the face. I barely took notice.
“Anyway Eagle, are you just getting ready for the day? I don't see you come in here too often.”
I didn't even hear her; I couldn't stop staring at her mane. So slick. So smooth. I made a mental note to attend the next Wet Mane Contest the Guard held to raise money for orphaned foals.
She smirked, noticing how mesmerized I was. “Anyway, I'll warn the cute colts not to drop the soap.” She trotted away, leaving me nice and wet.
“Thanks... hey, wait a second!” I realized too late what she had been implying. I liked mares too. Sheesh. I mean I liked mares. Exclusively. Even though I rarely dated any. And apparently threw myself at handsome stallions like a desperate schoolfilly. And woke up with a sore rear more mornings than I could count.
I shook myself out of my minor crisis of sexual identity and focused on getting into the showers as quickly as possible. My locker was a small thing—bigger now that I had been promoted—with just enough space for my armor and a special set of styling combs for my mane that I had brought from home for when I dressed down for the day. They'd cost most of one of my salaries, but it was worth the cost to get my mane just so.
“So, you like wet manes, eh? Wouldn't have expected that.” I turned to see Captain Glass smirking at me.
“S-sir, didn't expect to see you in here.” I saluted him in haste. “I thought officers had their own locker room?”
He grimaced. “No, or at least, not one I know about.” He eyed me curiously, making my ears droop. Couldn't he ever give me just a nice smile and a “Good job, Eagle," or something? That was all I wanted. “What are you doing hanging about here? You're right in front of my locker.”
I pointed to the combs I was stashing in my locker. “Actually, I'm right in front of my locker.”
His right eye twitched, and then he muttered something about revenge and Captain Shining Armor. “I see.”
He joined me and rifled through his own locker. Trying to ignore him taking off his armor mere steps from me, I floated the last comb into my locker. However, as I did so, I fumbled, and it went tumbling down to a small space just underneath the lockers. I cursed under my breath.
“Yeah, Captain... would you mind helping me get that comb?” I pointed to where it lay, just out of hoof or magic's easy reach. It was a spot of bad luck to have it fall under there; the space was so narrow, I'd need somepony to lift up the lockers to have a chance at getting it back, and I couldn't do that with my weak horn.
“It's just a comb. You could borrow one from one of the mares if you're that concerned.”
I put on my best pleading eyes. “Please, Captain! They cost me most of a month's salary!”
He rolled his eyes and sighed. “You're hopeless.” The green glow of his magic surrounded the lockers and raised them up. He barely broke a sweat; I swear, his magic got stronger every day! He ignored the loud metallic screech such an action caused, although now the attention of everypony was on us.
I crouched down on the floor, trying to get near eye level so I could see what I was doing. All I saw was grime; there was no hint of my comb. I reached in with a hoof, groping around blindly. “Er, Captain? Could you come a bit closer? I can't quite see what I'm doing here.” As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I realized that I could have just lit up my own horn to provide a little light. I was not a clever pony.
Empty Glass sighed, but I heard him moving closer. Encouraged by the little additional bit of light I was getting, I felt around more, pushing my face a little further into the space the lockers had occupied moments before. Where could that thing have gone? As I looked around, I felt my tail brush up against something. My heart nearly stopped for a moment as I realized Empty Glass, handsome gentlecolt, was standing right behind me when I had my rump high in the air.
I gulped. Come on, me. I had to use my famous self-control and sense of class to avoid giving away how excited this was making me. I could not fail.
“Eagle, lower that tail of yours!” Captain Glass barked. Whoops.
Loud snickering came from behind me. Hair Trigger said, “You sure, sir? You sure did move pretty quickly to get right behind him!”
“R-right. S-sorry, sir.” Embarrassed, I lowered my raised tail. My self-control really was that bad, wasn't it? Hopefully, I hadn't displayed any more obvious signs of being a little excited.
In moments, I found the comb, plucked it up with my own magic, and got out of the way while he lowered the lockers. His face—as well as my own—were both flushed from embarrassment. Behind the tightly muscled form of Empty Glass, Hair Trigger was grinning broadly, still with her mane dripping wet. “Oooh, Captain! Next you have to say, 'I'm sorry, Eagle. I didn't mean it.' Then, you take him in your strong forelegs, hold him close, gaze deeply into his vulnerable, soft eyes that almost remind you of a mare's, and...”
A pegasus guard mare I didn't recognize with a whistle cutie mark clamped a hoof over her mouth and said, “Alright Trigger, that's enough.” She started to drag Hair Trigger off, and I relaxed. Maybe the locker room military police really did exist. Hopefully I'd never run afoul of them.
From a distance, I heard Trigger call, “No, wait! They were just getting to the best parrrrrrt!”
The curious glances in our direction faded away, so we were left staring at each other. It was normal for me to occasionally not be able to take my eyes off him for reasons completely unrelated to wanting exactly what Trigger had been describing to actually happen, but it was rare to have the Captain's steady, sure gaze centered on me. The moments became minutes, and finally, we both looked away simultaneously.
“S-sorry, sir.” I closed my locker.
“What in blazes are you apologizing for?” he said, sounding like he was trying far too hard to be gruff. Could it all be an act?
“Sorry. I'll just leave you alone.” I walked off to the colt's showers, only to hear steps following me. I stopped; did he have more to say? “You should come home with me tonight,” maybe? There was no way I'd leap into his embrace, tears streaming from my eyes, and scream “Yes,” of course, but it would have been rude not to humor him with my attention. I turned, expecting a romantic Captain Glass—I mean a thoughtful Captain Glass.
Instead, I saw one who was biting back frustration. “Eagle. Why are you heading this way?”
“Because I need to shower before I start the day guarding Princess Celestia's chamber! Why were you headed this way?”
A few passing mares giggled, and Captain Glass' right eye twitched. “This day just keeps getting worse and worse. And did you say guarding the Princess' chamber?”
“Yes, sir. I know you've had me working on reorganizing your files lately—even though it seems like they just get messed up right when I turn my back—I guess they need me on guard duty today.”
“Odd, I must have overlooked that,” he muttered.
I couldn't have possibly heard that correctly. “Pardon, sir?” We had both paused just before entering the communal showers.
“It's nothing. Just keep a tight grip on that soap, Eagle.”
“Y-yes, sir.” I wanted to be straight. I wanted to be straight. I wanted to be straight.
One both relieving and disappointing shower later, I waited.
Anypony who was a Royal Guard was used to doing a lot of that: waiting. Equestria was a peaceful country, so it was rare for us to actually be needed for anything other than standing around and looking imposing. Even though my posting today was in front of Princess Celestia's personal chambers and I had duty with somepony who wasn't bad-looking for a stallion that I clearly wasn't harboring a giant gay-on for, I couldn't help but be a little bored. Nothing was happening today.
All that changed in a second.
Twilight Sparkle walked in, and my blood ran cold. My mind flashed back to the events of a few weeks ago, and I couldn't help but wonder: What exactly was Twilight in for today at Celestia's hooves? True, I doubted Celestia was just going to get poor Twilight alone and take advantage of her the moment the door closed behind them, but I had to do something.
Then again, irritating Celestia was probably not a wise career move. I was sure I had a fair amount of flexibility in that regard, but somehow, I didn't think it would be a good idea to run up and blabber some insane-sounding story about Celestia calling her here just to molest her. Cursing my cowardice, I decided to remain where I was and try to come up with something a little less direct.
Twilight Sparkle's walk slowed, and she stopped right in front of me. Our eyes met for a moment, and I felt like she was cataloging everything about me into neat little categories in moments. I could practically hear her thought processes: “That eye twitch of his at close female scrutiny screams 'Mommy issues,' his cutie mark says 'scout,' his jawline and light build say 'girly colt,' his shuffling and avoiding of eye contact says 'self-confidence issues'...”
After a few moments of regarding me, she turned her head and said, “Hey, Princess! This guard of yours kind of looks like me!”
Oh, Tartarus. As Celestia rounded the corner, Twilight stood directly next to me and attempted to match what most Equestrians called “The Royal Guard glare.” She failed, of course. A good fourth of our training was how to keep up that impressive, impassive stare at all times. However, she looked like she had the potential to glare with the best of us, or at least with me. Then again, if half the stories I had heard about this mare were true, she could more or less make the impossible possible.
Celestia stared at us for a few moments. Most probably wouldn't have been able to notice, but her eye twitched for just a moment. To Twilight, it probably spoke volumes; she knew our co-ruler better than I ever would. It was troubling to see Celestia uneasy enough to give some indication of emotion beyond a calm benevolence.
“I... suppose he does,” Celestia said, scanning the hallway. There was nopony else there except for the three of us and an increasingly confused Empty Glass.
“You know, Princess, they say everypony has a doppelganger somewhere in the world... I never thought mine would be a stallion!” Twilight Sparkle laughed and returned her attention to Celestia.
I cleared my throat. “Erm, Miss Sparkle, isn't that just an old pony's tale?” Captain Glass shot me a dirty look, but I was past caring. He was out of his element here; gruffness wasn't going to help, not that he knew there was even a problem.
She turned to me, surprise evident in her wide eyes and upturned ears. It suddenly occurred to me that there may have been a reason why we were supposed to keep silent most of the time. “Oh, I've learned that there's more truth in 'old pony tales' than most think.” She leaned in a bit closer, and it took much of my willpower to avoid flinching. She smelled of lavender, and she wasn't a bad-looking mare, come to think of it. No. Bad Eagle. Don't ogle Celestia's personal student and two-time savior of the country. “How do you know my name? Have we met before?”
I tried to affect a smile. Judging by the quizzical eyebrow quirk Twilight gave me in return, it didn't go so well. Well, sorry if I can't be totally comfortable around world-saving fillies, Miss National Hero. “Well, everypony in the Guard knows who you are. You're Celestia's personal student...” I trailed off, realizing my flub. Nopony in the Guard would be caught dead addressing the princess by just her name.
A hoof smacked me in the back of the head, and I turned to see a furious Empty Glass. “Fool!” He bowed to Celestia. “My apologies for my subordinate's lack of respect, Your Majesty.” Now my head hurt too. Couldn't I ever do anything right in his eyes?
Celestia smiled. “That's quite all right. Eagle Eye has... earned the right to do so.”
Twilight and Captain Glass turned and gave me bug-eyed stares. “He what?” they both shouted, making me jump a little.
“It's... I um, that is...” I could come up with no polite way to summarize the events of the day of Discord's return. I looked to Celestia, desperate for help.
She smiled wryly and explained. “You see, Eagle Eye is actually a very special guardpony. He went above and beyond his duty to me and to Equestria itself on the fateful day that Discord returned.”
“D-did he, Your Highness?” Empty Glass sputtered. Evaporating visions of a promotion were clearly flitting through Empty Glass' eyes. Something told me I'd be in for even more abuse in the days to come. Oh well, the joke was on him; I liked it! Wait...
Come to think of it, he had shouted something about me being a national hero when he saved me from being arrested. Had he just been lying to cover for me?
“Yes.” Celestia smiled one of her more enigmatic smiles, and we shared a look of understanding. Her eyes glowed with compassion, and I knew in that moment that her motives for having Twilight here could be nothing but innocent. It was funny, really: I had let one incident taint my opinion of a pony that I knew—that everypony knew—was kind and compassionate. I supposed that was just equine nature; we sometimes focused on the negative too much, overlooking everything wonderful about a pony or a place.
I glanced at Twilight, who was regarding me with an intense curiosity, her ears flattened against her head and her nostrils flared as she no doubt tried to see some heroic qualities in me. Here was a pony who knew exactly what I was thinking about. She studied friendship, as I understood it. Surely, in her studies, she had seen ponies assume the worst and experience the best about each other. If she could find some way to stop that from getting in the way of our perceptions of each other, I think the world could be a much better place.
“Oh, I'm nothing special, really.” I chuckled and scratched my forelegs together.
“Well, you must be to get that kind of praise! What did he do, Princess? Save a group of foals from drowning in chocolate? Hold back a swarm of out-of-control mountain creatures by himself? I bet that's what it was.” She turned to me. “You look like you'd have some pretty strong magic.”
“My magic's pretty weak, actually...” I muttered. It was true. The reason I had never gone anywhere in the Guard was because I “had no promise”, as everypony muttered.
On one occasion, when Hair Trigger had been deep in her cups, she had pointed to me and proclaimed in an overly dramatic voice, “He is a fool. His potential lies downwards, not up.”
To make matters worse, rumors swirled about Empty Glass holding me back from promotions multiple times for flimsy reasons, but I never believed those lies. Despite all appearances, Empty Glass was too nice a pony for that. I was sure there was a nice fellow in him somewhere, underneath the rough exterior.
A shade of shame passed across Celestia's face for an instant while her student's gaze was elsewhere. I'm not even sure Captain Glass noticed it, but I had always been far more observant than the average pony, or so I told myself. “I'll tell you some other time, my faithful student. It was good to see you as well... Eagle.”
I scuffled about somewhat. Something needed to be said, but I wasn't sure what, so I let a nod suffice as they moved past the captain and I into Celestia's chambers. “Be well,” I murmured as they passed through. I wasn't sure who I was addressing it to, but I caught a minute inclination of the head from Celestia. She knew.
Ignoring the curious glances Captain Glass was giving me, I returned to waiting, willing myself not to eavesdrop on whatever was going on in the room beyond. I was at peace. I trusted Celestia, even if being in her presence was still nostalgic in all the wrong ways.
After a long day of counting the number of bricks in the wall, I was ready to hit the bar for some fun. I knew I'd be able to restrain myself this time. Empty Glass, in his usual fashion, had galloped into the night after we both removed our armor, vanishing into the busy streets of Canterlot. As I walked into one of the lower sections of the city, I couldn't help but wonder what he did for fun. He was such a serious pony at work; hopefully, he had something to let him unwind.
A few pegasi flew overhead, but the streets were mostly empty as I approached The Prancing Pony. It was an old wooden schoolhouse an enterprising earth pony had turned into a bar after a long period of disuse. Thanks to its frequent musical acts and low, low prices, it had proven a hit for those who wanted to drown their troubles on a budget, and boy, did I have problems.
I pushed through the swinging doors into the bar proper and stopped dead at what—or rather, who—I saw.
The usual few bar patrons were there, gabbing up a storm, but what really drew my attention was the group in the corner of the hardwood-floored room. Empty Glass and Hair Trigger were both there—out of uniform, of course, just as I had made sure to do after my “incident”—chatting at a table in the corner of the room. Enka music from a far-off land filled the room, and the bartender, a surly-looking griffin with dull plumage, gave me a quick wave as he recognized me.
I walked up to the counter, in something of a daze. Empty Glass was here, of all places? Had he noticed me yet? Was my mane straight? Not that I wanted to impress him, of course; I was concerned for all... two of the mares in the place. “That must be your coltfriend back there, I'm guessing,” the bartender observed. I could never remember his name; griffin names were so weird.
“N-no. He's my boss,” I hissed, quickly moving closer so fewer ponies would overhear.
The griffin rolled his eyes, and his tail whipped about in disgust, rattling a few glasses behind him. “You're more nervous than a hatchling at molting time, pony. Just go get him. Why are you so afraid of sex?” To my chagrin, he hadn't made any effort to lower his voice.
“It's not the sex.”
“No?” I knew that tone of voice well; Hair Trigger used it every time I insisted I was straight.
I blushed. “Well, maybe it is. Partially. Mostly it's about...”
He adopted an even more mocking tone. “'It's about this.' 'It's about that.' Just order something already.”
Under my breath, I murmured, “It's more about having somepony to come home to.” Deciding against a drink for now, I trotted over to the table my co-workers were sitting at.
“H-hey, you two.”
“Welll, Eagle Eye! What a coincidence.” Hair Trigger flashed me a mischievous smile and pulled a chair over with her magic. She always had looked a lot trimmer without her bulky armor on, and the captain, well... he was the captain. I felt my eyes lingering on both of them by turns, so I sat down before I made a fool of myself.
To my surprise, Captain Glass—or I suppose it was just Glass here, out of uniform—looked happy to see me. His eyes glowed, and he sat up a little straighter. “Ah, Eagle Eye. We were just talking about you.”
“Oh?” My heart beat faster. Please don't let it be some story of my complete incompetence, please don't let it be some story of my complete incompetence...
“Yes. You've really been pulling your weight lately.” He glanced down, noticing I didn't have anything in front of me. “Hey, N!” he called, waving a hoof at the bartender. “Drink for my friend here!”
I sat, open-mouthed. This was nowhere near the Empty Glass I was used to seeing. He was downright friendly. Could it have been that he was only gruff in uniform to keep up appearances? Maybe, just maybe, he was a nice pony after all.
I heard giggling from the side, and I turned to see Hair Trigger covering her mouth. “Gee, Eagle, if you give him those dreamy eyes any more, maybe I should just give you two some alone time!”
Glass sighed. “Will you give it a rest, already? It's bad enough I hear this from you all the time at work.”
“Aw, but Captain, you make it so easy!” She leaned in, upsetting her brightly-colored drink.
As I stared on, amused, the griffin brought a drink by. “Here, girly colt.” He uncurled his talons from a bright yellow drink with five different umbrellas in it.
“Um.” This drink looked about as manly as Princess Luna.
“Try it. It's delicious.” I could have almost drank the sarcasm dripping from his voice rather than this very fruity-looking drink.
Then again, for all I knew, it could be delicious. I give it a tentative sip, only to be amazed at the smooth flavor of pineapple that slid down my throat. “Wow, this is great! But... is there any alcohol in it?”
“A lot, actually. It's popular on dates.” He stormed away to sulk at the counter some more.
I sat there, staring after him with a sheepish expression on my face. “Dates, huh?”
“Oh, don't let it bother you, Eagle...” Hair Trigger said, patting my shoulder. “We all just like to joke around, that's all. We know that the captain's not into that, even if you are. Right, Captain?”
I turned to hear his reply, but the expression on the captain's face silenced my indignant reply about liking only mares except on days ending in “y” or some other clever comeback. Glass was sitting there, staring with a distant, half-lidded look at me. He was leaned in so far, when I turned back to him, our muzzles brushed. Heat immediately rose to my face; after such a good start to talking with Captain Glass outside of work, I didn't want him to think I was making a move on him!
The flash of a camera distracted me from Glass' soulful gaze that was not even remotely making me think about the silk sheets I did not have a desire to buy. “That's one for the scrapbook!” Trigger smirked as she lowered her camera. “Please, go on. Pretend like I'm not even here.” Despite her words, she leaned over the table, watching us with eyes like my namesake.
“That's... a little difficult to do with you right in my face,” I remarked, still feeling uncomfortable between her enthusiasm and Glass' stare. Immediately, she backed off, although her predatory, hungry look remained. “So, uh... Captain. I can't help but notice that you seem a little different outside of work.”
He laughed, a gentle thing that soothed my nerves. “Oh, Eagle. Did you really think I was like that all the time? I mean, you are kind of an idiot, but I realized lately that I may have been a little too harsh on you.”
My eyes shone as I leaned in. “Really?”
He nodded. “Yeah.” His eyes narrowed further in a lazy action, and I found myself entranced by his movements: a flick of the ear there, a blink there...
Hair Trigger floated over two more drinks. “Please, continue.”
"Well, Captain, I..."
"Please, Eagle. Just 'Glass' here."
"O-okay!" Easy, me. Don't lose it. I took a long drink to steady my nerves. "G-Glass..."
We spoke for hours on many subjects, and I found that underneath all his bluster and gruffness, Empty Glass was every bit the nice pony I had imagined. Meanwhile, Trigger kept plying us both with drinks. I forgot that the drink—whatever its name was—had a great deal of alcohol on it, so soon I was slurring so much, I could hardly understand myself. I was just in the midst of a brilliant speech about how Celestia needed to give me several more raises for what she'd almost done to me, when suddenly the floor looked very comfortable.
“And good night, Canterlot!” I flopped down on the floor. Hardwood floors were the best!
“Oh geez, Captain, I think Eagle's had a few too many,” Hair Trigger said from above me.
Meanwhile, I found the view of their perfect hooves boring, although there was an ant making a valiant attempt to squirrel away all the fallen snacks off the floor. I closed my eyes. Naptime had always been the best as a foal. It was the one thing I missed about the orphanage.
“Come on, float him up. I'll carry him to my place.” Ooh, Captain. And I'm sure we'd have to share a bed, too, because tonight was my night.
“Are... you sure, sir? Joking aside, I think a drunk Eagle is only going to want one thing if you share a bed with him.” Oh, that Hair Trigger. She was probably salivating at the thought of being able to watch. Not that I could blame her.
A manly sigh came from just above me. “I do have a couch, you know.” Damn.
I woke up a while later on a very comfortable couch make of fake leather. I had sunk into its cushions, and a very considerate somepony had put a cushy pillow underneath my head and a blanket over my body. Was I in Glass' home?
I looked around, blinking through the distortion of the alcohol in my system. His living room was a small, cozy space, full of muted colors and... not much else. I blinked, trying to make the blurry shapes of what was surely furniture to coalesce into solid shapes, but I failed. I heard hoofsteps from just behind me, and I looked up to see Glass, my savior.
“You doing all right, Eagle, aside from being disappointed over tonight not being 'your night'?” He smirked as my face exploded with heat.
I chuckled nervously. “Sorry... did I say that out loud?”
“Yep. Guess I should have started you a little slower; you are built a little slimmer, so alcohol probably hits you harder.”
“Yeah,” I muttered. I couldn't take my gaze off his gentle smile. “I... sorry.” A blush rose to my cheeks. I felt like such a fool. Empty Glass was going out of his way to help me, and I just kept bungling things up.
“Don't worry about it too much. And here...” He lowered himself so he was almost on my level. Was he going to make everything all better with a kiss? “This should help with the alcohol.” He touched his horn to my forehead, and a chill of excitement ran through my body. His horn flared, and suddenly I felt weak, like I was going to throw up.
“Captain, I don't think that helped...” I whispered as the room spun all the more violently. I shivered as suddenly the world felt cold.
He leaned back and hissed in a breath. He seemed more alive, somehow, as though he was ready to stay up all night without sleep. For a moment, he forgot me as he stood there with his eyes closed. Then, his eyes flared open. “Oh, sorry about that. It'll help with the... hangover in the morning. Its... side effects can be tough, but if you survived the Day of Discord you'll be fine.” He flashed me a winning smile, and I felt my heart race faster as he walked towards the hallway.
I yawned as I snuggled more into Glass' couch. “Thanks so much... I'm sorry I'm such an idiot.” Underneath it all, Empty Glass really was a nice pony. Suddenly, all my worries about what was wrong with me started to melt away. If this was his true face, if this was how he really acted, then I could be okay with loving him. Even if things weren't going as quickly as I wanted, I just had to slow down and take my time. After all, if I'd more or less said that I had wanted to share a bed with him and he was trusting me to sleep in the same building with him, that was something.
He turned with that gentle smile and chuckled, his hoof inches away from the lightswitch. “You know, Eagle Eye, sometimes I swear you're a changeling, the way you act with love.”
I blinked. Changeling? That word wasn't familiar to me. “Uh, what is a changeling, sir?”
It was probably just my tired, drunk brain, but I swore his eyes flashed green for a brief second. “Oh, nothing you need to worry about.”
My thanks to Nick Nack and Benman for their input on this piece, as well as the generous and talented stileelits for drawing me a cover image.