Like the hapless protagonist of so many great stories, I was blissfully unaware that I was charging directly towards my point of no return. The death of Uncle Ben, a chance meeting with Tyler Durden, or every fantasy origin cliché where the main character comes back to find his or her tiny agrarian village (and/or living relatives) engulfed by flames, with the arch-villain laughing maniacally somewhere in the distance. Unfortunately, my situation was not anywhere near as backhandedly obvious. It was a simple personal hurdle; I just wanted to go running.
Note to self: Should have known by now to have caught the inherent complication at my assumption that anything would be “simple.”
Shortly after Rainbow Dash made the glass door on significantly less translucent, Twilight had brought up some clothes for me that Rarity had dropped off as means of an ‘apology.’ I automatically heard ‘apology’ as ‘bribe,’ but hey, I’m not above a little bribery, especially when it comes to free clothes. If I were to judge by the contents of the care package, Rarity really wanted to see me in a dress, a desire I wasn’t particularly inclined to fulfill. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but the fact that at least half a dozen dresses were hoof made for me within the period of three days was borderline obsessive, as I assumed she didn’t exactly have human designs lying around. …All right, maybe I did wind up trying a few on, and maybe the obsessive nature of their creation wasn’t the primary reason I wouldn’t be wearing them.
I couldn’t help it, she had literally given me a bunch of dresses, all of which looked fancy enough to suggest that Dior himself rose from the grave and tried his hand at making something more modern. A girl capable tossing aside said dresses without even a little trial run has got to be a vampire or a ginger; either way, there’s a high probability she has no soul. The dress in question that really caught my eye was midnight purple: It was devoid of the flaws I’d been expecting, the neckline was rather reserved, and the fabric had the appearance of satin with the feeling of cotton. What really reeled me in though, were the gems. For a moment I thought that they were some weird, sequin imitation until I looked closer. The only upside to being a geology nerd is the fact that I know my rocks, and that was real sapphire embedded into the neckline. It was a muted, unrefined shade of sapphire, used in an understated manner, as anything brighter would have made the dress look cheesy. As it was it, the gems held the same shade as the dress itself until they caught the light, when they dazzled like tiny stars.
Note to self: Rarity has a firm grip on my personal kryptonite, magnificent couture. Exercise extreme caution.
Before I knew it, I had moved to the corner of my room. It was a small, awkward spot to change in but the privacy was worth it. It was the only spot a peeping Pegasi passerby wouldn’t be able to see me with the current state of the destroyed curtain. Yeah I saw that one coming. Suck it Trebek! I doubted the dress was even going to fit, unless I had missed something significant in my first few moments in Ponyville. I remembered being put down, only a few minutes passing before I had managed to insert myself in something resembling the recent remake of The Crazies. Having donned the dress, I walked over to the full-length mirror with low expectations. There was no way she had gotten a handle on my measurements, or even hypothesized on how to-
Oh. Oh crap.
I’m not often wrong… and when it comes to predicting the outcome of Murphy’s Law I’m practically an expert. Even when I am wrong, due to some inane dalliance with optimism, there’s almost always a tiny voice in my head saying: you know, I was telling you that was going to happen all along, you just choice to ignore it. But here I was, caught entirely off guard, a rare experience for me. The dress didn’t fit like a glove; it fit like a dream. The neckline was as reserved as I had predicted it would be; it wouldn’t meet convent standards of course, managing to be a touch suggestive yet completely devoid of cleavage obsession, the industry trend that drove me away from dresses in the first place. More to the point, it seemed to compliment every single other part of my figure, alternating roomy and skintight in all the right places.
So elated was I by the masterful look and personal fit of the dress, I could feel my heart sink when I noticed the length. This wasn’t just short. This wasn’t even Nicole Richie short. This was more like the pre-rehab, freak-dancing in a trashy nightclub Nicole Richie variety of short. My impression of Rarity had gone up a few notches, taking a subsequent nosedive as I realized there was no way she was so spot on with the rest of my measurements and just ‘accidentally’ got the length wrong. Somepony wanted to see a lot of thigh. Well. Somepony isn’t going to see any thigh. Though, since I’m never going to wear it again, I might as well play around with it a bit.
It would have been too depressing to just toss it aside never to wear it again, so I gave it the proper send off. Pegasi didn’t usually come by this late in the afternoon, nevertheless, I kept checking the ‘terrarium’ window intermittently to ensure I was solely entertaining myself. Then, the mirror assisted self-indulgence began:
Double pirouette? Check check.
Runway walk? Check.
Sharon Stone leg-cross? Check, but my boyshorts will be keeping this PG-13.
Bond Pose? Check: Craig or Connery though, not Brosnan.
Bond Girl Pose? Eh… pass.
Fergie strut? Oh snap!
Having decided I would end my dress appreciation session with a Marilyn Monroe classic, I climbed up on the dresser and reclined on an elbow with my legs crossed, putting a the ‘sh’ finger to my lips. It was a little over the top, a combination of love for the dress, stir craze, and straight boredom. As a modest person, I wouldn’t have been caught dead doing anything similar in public. I liked playing pretend as much as the next girl, but the idea of actually being a model? Let’s just say it’s right above ‘acting in sexually explicit lesbian art-house flick’ on my list of desires, which subsequently on the list is right above ‘death by steamroller.’ Do. Not. Want.
In fact, I was so antsy about being watched from the back window that I completely missed a fatal flaw: I hadn’t noticed the door was cracked. As I procrastinated parting ways with the dress for one last second, combining a smoldering Princess Diana smile with the Monroe pose, there was a clatter. I jolted off of the dresser as if it was electrified; dying a little inside from the thought that someone had witnessed my display. Turns out, someone hadn’t. Twilight was sitting outside my door, having fallen back on her rump when the door swung open. Her facial expression was a little too familiar, now that I was looking for it; the unfocused vision and shortness of breath would have been a dead giveaway had her horn not already been lightly glowing.
“I just got here-“ Suuurrrre. Post evaluating my own feelings, I realized I couldn’t bring myself to be angry at her… I felt more guilt than anything else. She might have been spying, but I was the one who was screwing around and didn’t think things through. What else is new Kate? You don’t think. I would have pointed out to my undermining inner monologue how paradoxical that allegation was, but I was too busy trying to figure out how to deal with Twilight. I settled for kneeling, partly so I could be on her eye level, partly so I wasn’t in the direct trajectory of her horn, pulling the dress over as much leg as it could cover.
“Kay. So… what’s up?” When in doubt, refuse to acknowledge the awkward. It doesn’t exist. There is no spoon. I tried very hard not to look at her horn. Unfortunately, the exercise in Hollywood Gnosticism was pointless as Twilight shook while staring at her hooves. She spoke in quick, fragmented speech.
“Two letters from Princess. About you. Said to give this one to you. Sounds unhappy but don’t worry. I’ll help if I can- HEY LOOK, A NON-SEQUITUR!” She pointed at into the room with a hoof. Considering the vast amount of harassment that had come out of that side of the room, my head snapped around to look. Nothing- As soon as I turned back around, Twilight had already dropped the letter at the door and was skittering around the corner at break neck speed. Can’t believe I fell for that. I winced as I heard another door slam, not allowing myself to imagine what would be going on behind it.
After picking up the letter dejectedly, I was relatively sure from her reaction that the poor unicorn had seen the whole thing. It’s so much easier to deal with embarrassment when you have anyone to blame other than yourself… which of course, I did not. Contemplating the fact that I had metaphorically shot the messenger wasn’t doing anything positive for my mood, so I changed back into my usual, displacing as much of the blame as I could on the dress.
“You have no idea the effect you have on people.” The young girl’s voice echoed mockingly in my subconscious.
Shut the hell up Jenny; get out of my head go play your stupid hopscotch. I’m more than capable of inflicting harassment on myself.
Reflection and solitude is vastly overrated. Changed back into the relative safety of my yoga pants and tanktop, I opened the letter from Princess Celestia, hoping for good news, despite Twilight’s warning.
Note to self: Never hope for good news.
The introductory sentence itself didn’t bode well:
Addressing alleged human; Kate Winsor,
This message is for your eyes only. You are to read it thoroughly, twice, at which point and time this letter will self-obliterate. You are not to repeat it the nature of its contents to anyone, my most faithful student most of all.
If I had garnered any personal amusement over the ‘top’ secret nature of the letter, it was thoroughly wiped out by the next segment.
Twilight and I have been in correspondence regarding you several times already, most specifically over the nature of your arrival, and the incident which occurred therein. If, and only if you are what you claim to be, there have been precedents for such things, several millennia prior. However, they have not ended well, and not in the slightest.
Considering humanity’s somewhat problematic history of violence, I could understand potential misunderstandings and her concerns… right up to the part where the implied threats started. Princess Celestia’s penmanship took an alteration in appearance that would have made a graphologist run in terror; previously light writing taking on a much darker and wider font, implying that significantly more weight was being pressed deeply into the parchment.
Let us make this perfectly clear. We bear no ill will towards you. It is possible that you are an exception to the norm, and the coercion is completely unnecessary. But we will not take that chance. If you cause harm to a single pony in my domain, especially my dearest student, the pain you inflict will be returned to you seven fold. We take no pleasure in such measures, but they are an unfortunate necessity. More importantly, If you were to cause, directly or indirectly, the death of a pony in our domain… well… We will leave the specifics to your imagination, but mark these words:
Death is not a mercy you would ever be granted.
Take that however you will. Now that the ground rules have been laid, welcome to Equestria! Twilight Sparkle has brought it to our attention that you had no plans to come here, and want to leave at the earliest possible convenience. We ourselves would like the power to be omnipresent, as well as the ability to avoid dealing with the monsoon of bureaucratic paperwork and damaged red tape that occurs every time an intangible crosses between universes, but it seems we can’t always get what we want, now can we?
The possibility of discussing your departure will be a priority as soon as we’re finished dealing with the problems you created in your arrival. I’ve never heard of the ‘curse’ Twilight implies that you have, even among the morose precedents of your species. From her description, it sounds like an isolated personal problem. We have a few theories, and if what we have heard is any indication, you affect unicorns most significantly, so with that in mind perhaps you should consider distancing yourself from my student.
Have a pleasant day. Please remember to reread this letter to activate the self-obliteration. When you have done so, we would advise dropping it away from any appendage you would prefer to remain in working order before it self-obliterates.
Numbly complying with the command, I glazed over the document again, tossing it aside and watching glumly as it evaporated in a sea of sparks that coincided with my dissolving hope of going home in the near future. I was stuck, and the highest power in Equestria hated me already. Things were not going well. I wasn’t sure how it could get much worse-
“Looks like somepony’s got a case of the Mondays!”
CRAP. They got me AGAIN.
Without realizing it, I had left the side window cracked from Dash’s previous visit; the Cheshire cat-like grin from the pink pony out on the balcony seemed to evacuate all the heat from the room. Her cheery voice sounded like a guffaw of baby seals corralled in a poacher’s net, their happy mewling tainted by the sheer horror of their imminent future. In my shock, I said the only thing that came to mind.
“Er. Is it actually a Monday?” She tilted her head at me like an owl, save the blinking.
“Haven’t the foggiest! I don’t know what a TPS report is either!” Raising an eyebrow, she seemed to be lost in her own ponderings, her gaze shooting back to me the second I took a step forward. Then the other irregularity finally hit me.
“Wait, you don’t have wings.”
“And you don’t have a tail!” The response was completely devoid of a change in expression. Glancing away, I mumbled in her general direction.
“Well no, but… how did you get up here?” Finally breaking eye contact, she looked down, almost wistful, circling a spot on the balcony with her hoof.
“There was a hole here… It’s gone now.”
I’d had it. I have a relatively long fuse, but it had been frayed by the last few days, and after the ‘welcoming’ letter from the princess it was worn down to a thread. There was no patience left for mind games, and that was all this mare was interested in. Stalking over to the door my palm hit the glass with a BANG.
“Listen to me. Now I know I may be the ‘big dumb human’ around here, but I’m not stupid enough to be completely oblivious that someone- somepony has a very obvious problem with me.” I slowed down and looked away from her, frustration from the letter seeping through. “Honestly, at this point, if you just leveled with me and asked me to leave I might actually just take off down the road and never come back, no questions asked.” It wasn’t an offer I had planned to make; it just kind of slipped out. I suppose it was probably the natural extension of my desire to run, taken to its logical conclusion. Maybe that was a breakthrough for me, I don’t know. What I wasn’t expecting was laughter as a response
“Leave? Me, want you to leave?” She cackled infuriatingly at the idea. I leaned back, equal parts irritated and bemused. “Why would I want you to leave? What in Equestria would I do without you?” Pressing her face up against the glass with those big unblinking eyes, she spoke slowly. “You… complete… me, Katiekate.” Other than the intentional bastardizing of my name, the last part of her speech held an odd weight to it that was absent in everything she had previously said. I leaned in close again, refusing to back down.
“Then. Tell. Me. What. You. Want.”
“For everypony to SMILE!” leaping back, she hopped up on the railing. For the first time her face turned dead serious, and she looked back at me soberly. “Kate, a friendly warning: Don’t go running tonight. It will change things… create a coinciding conundrum of calamitous complications. Toodles!”
Rearing up, she launched herself backward, never breaking eye contact with me as I struggled to open the glass door in time. From the way she fell, it looked like she would have landed on her back, but she was nowhere to be seen in any direction when I leaned over the balcony. The moment before I slammed the door shut, I could have sworn I heard her voice whisper from the ground beneath.
“We all float down here… Kate.”
The sunset was painstakingly slow, golden hue creeping off the horizon. I sat atop the balcony railing, waiting impatiently. Everything was in order: My hair was up in a ponytail (oh shush), sneakers were tied tightly, and I had already limbered up and stretched out. Of the two workout shirts Rarity had dropped off for me, I went with the black one for ‘stealth’ purposes, a black spandex sort of material that felt significantly spongier than I ever remembered spandex feeling like. Perhaps I should have taken Pinkie’s warning more seriously, but at the moment it was either ‘stay in and make the closest thing you have to a friend here miserable,’ or ‘give her space, go running and get over your block, refresh your sanity, possibly accruing some sort of vague penalty in the near future as predicted by an extremely unstable source.’ No matter how much of a coward I was, it was going to be the latter. How was I supposed to know it was actually a turning point?
Deciding it was sufficiently dark, I kicked off. It was a small victory but it felt monumental, like the first moment batman-
And why do we fall Kate?
Note to self: Being in gymnastics from pre-k to halfway through middle school does not make one better at jumping off things years later.
“Urgh… my everything…” I muttered, staggering to my feet. Maybe the shock of the impact displaced my agoraphobia, or maybe I was just sufficiently determined, but the anxiety from the previous attempt was gone. My initial steps were slow, speeding up exponentially as I became more confident there was no real injury. Never had running filled me with the same joy I was feeling now.
Crap. Free piece of advice: If you must enjoy a moment of catharsis while running, make sure you do it on a circuit, not on a straight course where you have to remember to, oh, you know, turn around at what you decide will be the halfway point. I had no idea what time it was, but I hadn’t reached my fill of running until well into the night or very early into the morning, only then realizing that I would have to run the full distance back. And by run I mean walk, because I’d completely worn myself out. Despite the multiple hour walk back, there was a little flame of personal happiness that had been absent for a while. Things were so much simpler out here in the wild; expanse of forest on my left, field as far as the eye could see on my right. I’d never been so happy to be out in the middle of nowhere, cold and covered in sweat.
I really should have taken that as a warning and started running again.
Too late. I fell into a crouch, keeping myself from making any sudden movement. At first I thought it might have been Pinkie, skulking around singing whilst wielding something with a serrated edge, but after listening for a few moments I realized how elegant the singing was. My seduction sense was tingling, reaching ackbar levels of alarm.
Run you nincompoop. NO- SERIOUSLY? YOU’RE GOING IN THERE?
I wasn’t planning to go far in, just close enough to see where the source of the noise was coming from. Yeah, that’s what they all say. I’m totally going to die. I’m going to die from the oldest trick in the book. Curiosity killed the Kate, way to put that common sense to use. I noticed from an increase in light that the sun was beginning to rise, and made myself a mental note to hurry. Reaching a small clearing, my jaw dropped at the sight. Because I was constantly harassed by Pegasi in the terrarium, I’d started calling them as pigeons (though not in their earshot) for my own amusement. Was that demeaning? Yeah, it probably was, but so was being stared at and having your window tapped on incessantly. However, to refer to this creature before me as a ‘pigeon’ would have been a massive disservice. It was the most beautiful Pegasus I had ever seen, surrounded by other animals. Her golden coat went surprisingly well with her long, light pink hair. There was a small bird perched on her extended foreleg.
What is she... is she singing to the… oooooooh. I know what this is. Hitting myself in the forehead, I groaned at my own stupidity. I was accustomed enough with the cruel plays of fate to recognize a set up. And this was a set up much more obvious than most. It all fit, the beautiful Pegasus, the singing, the birds, and me. Yeah fate, like I’ve never seen a Disney movie before, nice try there. The Pegasus is snow white in the forest, tending the woodland critters. I am, infuriatingly enough, filling in the role of prince charming (as always) who, if I remember correctly, steps on a twig which gives him away. I looked to my left, the direction I would have stepped had I moved. Lo’ and behold, a giant twig sat precariously, waiting to be stepped on. Uhuh, that’s what I thought. I stepped over the twig carefully, more than a little smug as I began my retreat. That’s right, screw you guys; I’m going home.
“Oh no, you poor thing, what happened to your wing.” I froze, still not turning around, my mind filling in the details.
Oh come on, I know what you’re doing, don’t take a hostage on me. She could fly it back herself, or go back and get a unicorn.
“I can’t set the bone myself, I’ll just have to figure out how to get you back.”
… not gonna do it.
“I’d fly you to the vet, but I don’t want to aggravate your condition.”
… still not going to do it.
“Oh what to do? If I went to get help, I’m not sure I’d be able to find this spot again little baby bird.”
Aw it’s a baby-NO. Stop it Kate, Fluttershy is into animals… UGH… I’m sure she’s had to deal with this problem before… agh… she’ll come up with something, right?
“I’m just going to have to walk you back. It’s okay if you cry little birdy, it’s for your own good but it’s probably going to hurt and we have quite a walk to go…”
Well, that was it for me. At least I tried. I turned around, defeated, and walked forward into the clearing.
Note to self: Fate is such a jackass.
AN: Well, I wanted to address something real quick. The ending of this chapter is not as funny in the “laugh out loud gross-out” sort of way as the endings to the other chapters have been, but that’s intentional. There’s two reasons for that. 1: There was a ton of maneuvering in this chapter for future plot development. 2: If I kept escalating things at the end of every chapter, this would eventually turn into a clopfic, which I’d much rather avoid. Trust me though, there’s plenty of sexual/awkward/gross-out moments to come. Once again, thank you everypony for all the feedback, it’s been an absolute blast so far.
(PS: Celestia is slipping in and out of the royal we to show her irritation through writing. Just to head that criticism off XD )