Pip kicked a piece of paper into the fireplace, bored out of his mind. It hadn't been that there wasn't anything to do; he had an entire hotel to goof around in! But it was the fact that Featherweight was acting strange. He'd been touchy about what Pip did around him and he didn't like any bodily contact. He'd gone for a high hoof and it had ended in his friend turning around and leaving the room. It was becoming awkward, and it wasn't like Featherweight. Maybe it was being away from home or the events in the room a few hours earlier, but Pip was beginning to think he'd done something wrong. He decided that he'd go and try to discuss what had happened with the Cutie Mark Crusaders, they were the most understanding fillies he knew.
Or thought he knew, anyway. He got up off the black leather couch and gave the room Featherweight was in a glance. The door was most likely locked, and the fact that they hadn't spoken in a few hours kept him from being brave. So the colt left his suite and headed down the hall to the room of the CMC. He wasn't feeling right, like he'd done something bad to hurt Featherweight's feelings. Had he? His friend had acted very irate at him. He needed help, some advice from the best friends in the world.
The Cockney accented pony saw a few colts in their hotel room, playing some sort of game with dice. Pip stood in the doorway, observing them. He didn't normally drop eaves around other ponies, but he was interested in the game. They threw the dice, counted the numbers, then whoever had the lowest number had to perform some stunt like do a front-flip on the bed. It was odd to watch, but he thought about joining them.
Just as soon as he opened his mouth to say something, one of the colts saw him. They didn't even say a word, but one narrowed his eyes. The air turned hostile, and the gathering of young colts turned to look directly at Pip.
"Ugh... it's Frenchie. What the hay do you want, Frenchie?" One growled.
"Um... I just saw you guys playing a game 'n-"
"Shut up and go away, Frenchie. We can't even understand you half the time, anyway. Just leave us alone. And shut the door while you're over there, would ya'?"
Pip felt rather hurt by their words. "But I'm no' French I'm-"
"Don't care! Just shut the door and go sulk in whatever corner you Frenchies do. Really, nopony wants you here, just leave."
The colt turned and used his tail to close the door, his eyes watering. What had he even done to deserve that? He was just a little curious about the game.
"I'm English." He sniffed, feeling unwanted.
He made his way down the hall, dragging his hooves. Was he really that hard to understand? Was he actually that repulsive? Maybe he just shouldn't have left his life in Trottingham. Pip kicked a piece of paper, holding back the water in his eyes and trying to cheer himself up. He was going to talk to Scootaloo, she'd know what it felt like to feel out of place among her own kind. The colt meandered all the way do the first room and turned the door handle.
What he found there was the CMC trying to untie Sweetie Belle, who had her hooves knotted together. Apple Bloom stood at the end with the rope proudly clenched in her teeth, striking a pose. It was obvious that the junior farmhand had just practiced her cattle wrestling skills on her friend.
"Hey girls." He gave a meek smile.
They hadn't noticed him in the doorway. "Oh, hey Pip." They all said at once.
"Can I ask you guys somethin'?"
"Give us a minute." Scootaloo got through her mouthful of rope. "Just need to get this first."
He watched as they struggled to get the knot undone, until after a few minutes Scootaloo got it.
"Okay, you were saying?"
"Okay... so I was with Featherweight in our room, and he was acting kinda down. I decided I'd cheer him up with a little wrestlin' and we fell of the couch..." He trailed off.
"Go on." Apple Bloom ordered.
"Well... we... kinda sat there for a minute, just close to each other... then I felt this weird feeling and Feather's face turned this bright red. I didn't know what was going on, but I got off him and he acted all funny the rest of the evenin'. I don't know if I did something wrong or what. I'm hoping you guys can tell me what I can do... oh yeah, and he leaned over and kissed me on the cheek. That's normal, right?"
Apple Bloom was red in the face from holding her tongue, and the coil of rope was still clenched in her teeth. Scootaloo gave Sweetie a nervous look, preparing for the worst. Just when they thought that AB was going to go off on an ultra-conservative rampage, she charged into the washroom and slammed the door as hard as she could, rattling the entire hotel. The two remaining Crusaders sighed in relief. At least Apple Bloom was showing some sort of self-control. They both knew that she could have hit him in the face.
"Well, you didn't really do anything wrong, Pip." Scootaloo explained. "Apple Bloom is just being... well, an Apple. This isn't really my thing. Sweetie, can you help him out? You're into all that romance gunk."
"R-romance?" Pip balked. "B-but I wasn't talking about-"
Sweetie wrapped her hoof around his shoulders. "Aww! Your face is all red! It's okay, your secret is safe with us. Now, I suggest that you just talk to him. He doesn't want to confront his feelings. Just, you know, say that you feel like that about him too."
"B-but I don't like 'im like that! We're both blokes!"
"Hey look! Your face is red again!"
He crossed his hooves indignantly, just turning a deeper shade of scarlet in embarrassment.
Apple Bloom threw open the door to the washroom. "Ah can't take it anymore!" She left the room, storming down the hall.
Pip looked around. "What was that about?"
Scootaloo had the worst feeling that her friend was about to do something awful. "Pip, go back to your room and talk to Featherweight. We'll reel in Apple Bloom."
"But I still don't get what I did wrong!" Pip called after them, left alone in the hotel room.
The colt sat there in the room for another few minutes, pondering over what had just happened. So... Apple Bloom hated him, Scootaloo was kind of along for the ride and Sweetie Belle was his romance adviser? What the hay had just happened to him? He tried to wrap his head around why Sweetie Belle would think he was that way, but for some reason it struck him as... strangely truthful.
The English-colt sighed and surveyed the room again, preparing to face his greatest fear. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad, telling Featherweight his feelings. Would it be so bad, confessing he was a little affectionate towards his friend? In his head, maybe. But it wasn't in his nature to talk about the contents of his heart. He didn't have the bravery, as courageous as he considered himself, he didn't have the gall to tell his best friend he liked him.
Pip looked around the room once again, trying to figure out what to do. He couldn't just tell Featherweight, that was against his nature. His emotions weren't so simple that he could throw them out there for all to see. That AND he was quite afraid that once he told Feathers the rest of the school wouldn't be so... accommodating. He'd heard of it happening before, in other schools, colt-cuddlers were made fun of and teased, bullied to the point of misery. Some of the torment he'd caught wind of was... graphic.
So he would gladly 'skip' admitting his feelings for Featherweight. He decided that he'd sooner jump off a bridge than sign that virtual death warrant. Besides... well, how would his parents react? They would hang him from a street post. Not to mention the rest of his family, the rest of the world, every redneck he knew... the list just went on and on. The colt came to the conclusion that maybe it was just better to keep his feelings pent up inside where they could fester as a mental illness.
After all, it wasn't like Feathers really felt the same way, right? Maybe it was something else. It could be any number of things. Maybe he just didn't feel good, had a cold and didn't want to give him his illness. Or perhaps he was just homesick and wanted to be alone. Pip convinced himself that it was something else, not just a case of unrequited affection. Everything would be fine. He just needed to give Feathers a little space. It would be all right after that.
So he trotted out of the room, his emotions suppressed for the day and a healthy wall of denial holding his inner feelings at bay.