67w, 5dCoffee, Tea, and Everything Else
A green unicorn with generally boring gray-blue eyes and a decidedly not-boring mane of various shades of red-brown sat with his hooves splayed, huffing slightly over his desk. For a good while now he had worked in the offices, his paycheck arriving on time, mingling with the others, but somehow he had always been slightly removed from the others. He blamed a number of things, from his name, Hyde, or the fact that when he arrived, they stuck him an office far removed from the others. In fact, it seemed to have been stuck in a secret compartment in the basement of the Equestria Daily building.
Somehow, though, he didn’t really mind. Especially after his first day on the job. Hyde had accidentally come across a letter obviously meant for somepony else, but being the incorrigible bastard that he was, he opened it, read it, and found himself a new, cushy job.
At least up to the point where he slighted Luna. Apparently the Equestrian Princess didn’t enjoy the insinuation that her Royal Canterlot Voice was also the octaves she used when she was in flagrante delicto with her special somepony.
It was at this time that Snarkle had let him know that it was Celestia who sent a pre-reader to the moon. Hyde quickly added up where Luna sent her prey, and quickly went into hiding at the bottom of Equestria Daily.
To be fair, he had been happy here. On payroll, Hyde did as little work as ponily possible, choosing instead to focus on his own sordid tales of kissing ponies. Not that he got any flack for it, nopony really found out where he was. Or nopony cared. And he was happy with that.
Right up until the others moved in. Somehow Alex and Daff had moved into his office, bringing with them half the equipment used to run Equestria Daily without even noticing his presence until after the first month of operation. Printing Presses, computers, and slowly but surely a number of toys that Hyde would have been happier in his life to have not seen. They even put up a banner for the worst kept secret in the office.
Somehow Hyde wasn’t too sure the toys could be considered new, either.
“Uh, guys? Do we really need the, um, decorations?” Hyde ventured, his hoof delicately tapping a rather erect standing toy. At first he believed it safe, but upon connection Hyde felt a telltale wetness to it that immediately set the green pony to wiping his hoof roughly against the shag carpeting. “Oh Sisters, Oh Luna get it off!”
Alex looked up briefly from his new desk in the basement, a slow, small smile spreading across his face. “I’m sure Luna would be happy to help you burn off the germs, Hyde.”
Hesitating, Hyde took a look at his hoof, then his eyes trained on the stone ceiling above him, where regal clops against the hard surface betrayed the presence of some celestial pony above. Ears falling against his head, Hyde’s lip slipped into a hurt pout. Lowering his head, the pony doubled back to his seat, the entirety of which had been spun around to face the wall. Unlike his pornographer roommates, Hyde didn’t much care for the risque nudes that his coworkers plastered around After Dark. Not that he could complain to the superiors. That would involve leaving. At Night.
Where Luna was.
“I don’t want to go to the sun...” Hyde murmured, his face falling upon some of the backlog of the queue. He wasn’t ever sure just how that worked, but every day he found a number of fics on his desk, waiting to be read, and then after a long, hard day of not looking at a single one, the pile had been shrunk – or more oftentimes, replaced by newer fics. Hyde guessed magic.
Hyde sighed. “Well, it’s not too bad,” he reasoned, looking off to the corner. Alongside the wall were a number of chains, something that had been in this room longer than he had. Hyde always guessed the room had actually been crafted for Polecat, right up until the dangerous mare realized she could tie ponies up just about anywhere in the office without another pre-reader batting an eyelash. Either way, Vimbert rested happily, his neck encompassed by a large collar. At first Hyde had made to release the newer recruit from his situation, but a discussion with Daffodil had stopped him.
“There’s no need, Hyde. He’s fine,” Daff had said.
“Fine?” Hyde asked, his hooves taking a few steps toward the sleeping stallion. “He’s chained up. Wearing a collar. There is... is that fluid...? On the ground. Oh Sisters...”
Daff chuckled, putting a hoof on the green stallion’s shoulder. Hyde’s mind screamed ‘bad touch! Bad touch!’ but all he could do was chuckle nervously. “I protested at first, too, but he just likes it that way.”
Unable to produce a sound, Hyde only knew that somewhere in his mind he was screaming.
“Well that’s great. You two have fun, pleasestayoutofmycornerthanksbye!” Hyde slipped under Daffodil’s hoof, the blue unicorn just shooting him a happy smile.
That was a month ago, and so far Hyde had managed to stay away from the chains. That didn’t stop Vimbert from coming back, every night. After awhile Hyde had just installed a curtain when Daff and Vim got that look in their eyes. He had to be honest with himself, he was really more or less terrified of the fact that Vimbert hated everything to do with Alex and Daff’s work, yet every night, like clockwork...
Actually, no, Hyde mused, his head lifting from his desk as he turned his head. In the candlelight of the room, he could see the silhouettes of Daffodil and Vimbert in the middle of their nightly routine. However, just past the curtain he had installed in the room, he could see Vimbert’s peach colored hooves outstretched, working diligently on reviewing a fic that had come in during the late hours. That’s what frightens me more than anything. Slipping past the curtains, Hyde made for the secret entrance, putting in the hoof motions that unlocked the door.
Night, Hyde found, was actually the safest time to be walking about the Equestria Daily building, much against his earlier proclamations. Celestia slept at the castle, and Luna walked the night above. Outside. Where she couldn’t send him to the sun for saying she was a screamer. Trotting through the halls, Hyde expertly shifted through the ever winding passageways, dodging the night watch(which he usually ended up running into anyway, tied up and left in random corners, their faces pleading to be freed lest they endure another session with Polecat).
Noiselessly slipping into the break room, Hyde sighed through his nostrils, his eyes greedily searching for something to eat. He learned long ago the coffee wasn’t to be trusted, but that was to be expected.
What he hadn’t expected was to be staring at the unimpressed visage of Princess Luna, munching on a muffin while laying on the couch.
She had been waiting for him.
“P-p-p-Princess Luna! What a lovely surprise to see you here!” Hyde stammered, his eyes searching for all available exits. “At Equestria Daily.” He had foalishly shut the door behind him. “At night.” The window was locked. “On the couch.” Luna bit into the muffin, chewing on the tiny morsels as Hyde looked beyond her at the ventilation shaft. Somehow he doubted he could escape through that. “Good muffin?”
“Truly the best, Hyde Edenborough Knee,” Luna decreed, the green unicorn bowing his head like a foal that had been scolded.
Oh Celestia she used my full name. I am dead. Dead pony be me. To the sun. Roasted pony, extra crispy. Hyde scurried his hooves together in an attempt to create the first pony singularity where he stood, drawing himself as small as he could. “Derpy Hooves make them?”
“That is not what We wish to speak about,” Luna crossed, her eyes focusing on the stallion.
“No? I-I mean no! Of course not! You want to talk about – um, important things! Like, Princess like stuff. Nothing that concerns a lowly employee like me! No sir! I mean ma’am!” Hyde scrambled for words as he started to consider the walls to be like paper, really. He could run right through one and be just fine, right?
“What We wish to talk about, Hyde Edenborough Knee, does pertain to a Princess’ wants and needs.” Hyde looked up. Somehow this wasn’t working how he was expecting, and those words seemed like they were awfully weighted.
“R-really now?” he said, the world’s largest, fake smile on his face. Oh dear Celestia I’ve read bad fanfiction like this!
“Indeed, Hyde Edenborough Knee.” At this point in the conversation, Hyde certainly was beginning to detest his long name, but kept his muzzle shut. “It would seem that after some research, We have ascertained to the true meaning of ‘in flagrante delicto.’”
Hyde’s stomach dropped. “Wait, you mean you didn’t know?” Somehow, the months trapped in the basement seemed altogether useless, and installing that curtain could have been a blissful opportunity to not have a reason to install curtains ever. Lacking all the tact of Equestria, Hyde cocked an eyebrow to the side. “Never heard of a dictionary? Size of a filly, usually comes in white with purplish pink bindings or yellow with red bindings?”
“Our time on the moon for a thousand years did not lead Us to be privy of such things. Do know that We have corrected such errors.” Luna slid off the cough, her eyes never leaving Hyde’s terrified gaze.
“Well that’s fantastic.” Hyde had to admit, with every step closer, he certainly did feel smaller. “I’m so glad you’ve been catching up.”
Luna stood over him, so much so the stallion had to crane his neck upwards to keep eye contact. “Indeed. Now Hyde Edenborough Knee –”
“Just Hyde is fine,” he grunted. He was going to die anyway. There was no way this could go the way of a bad fanfiction –
“So be it. Hyde, We – no, I wish for you to show me this in flagrante delicto you spoke of. Do not worry, I shall not draw offense.” Hyde’s face went from a placid green to tomato red in an instant
Well, so much for bad fanfiction.
“W-what!? You want me to do – um, that!?”
Luna sniffed the air regally, her eyes tracking from the ceiling down the green stallion below her. “Yes, you had explained that I would use the Royal Canterlot Voice in flagrante delicto. Equestrian dictionaries speak of it as a ‘blazing offense’ or as a method of saying one was ‘caught-in-the-act.’” Luna drew her hoof up to her chin, taking in Hyde’s confused expression. “Are they misinformed? I do not think you would react so harshly to a little playacting.”
“Playacting!” Hyde shouted, a little louder than he cared to admit. “Yes! Yep, I’m totally up for playacting. That’s me, good old Hyde, what a card I am. Acting in plays and whatnot...” Chuckling nervously, Hyde made sure he was no longer looking the Princess in the eye as he suddenly found the ventilation shaft to be most curious.
It was about this time that Nines Tempest stumbled into the break room, wearing a tired smile as he led himself by the nose toward the coffee machine. “Hey Hyde, hey Princess Luna,” he lazed out. Hyde’s expression froze on his face, bug eyed as Nines poured himself a cup. “Nice to see you two playing nice.” Taking a not-even-close-to-well-earned drink from the steaming cup of screaming coffee, Nines smiled at the two in ignorant amusement. “See buddy? I told you Luna was cool with you saying she was a screamer.” Hyde couldn’t even stop himself from looking at Luna. The expression on her face flashed from surprise, to horror, revenge and anger all at once as she spun to face the unicorn. All he could do was smile sheepishly, his shoulders slowly raising as best a pony could.
Flicking a midnight blue hoof in front of him, Nines imitated Hyde’s voice as he swung the hoof about in a manner of faux class. “In flagrante delicto! Ha ha, what does that even mean? Oh! Is it Fancy for –”
A cold expanse of space met both Hyde and Nines as they sat on the lunar surface. Looking about, Hyde was fairly surprised to have not burned alive. “Moon, Nines.” Hyde said, taking a moment to enjoy the fact he could breathe on the moon. “In flagrante delicto means we’re sent to the moon.”
“...the hell did I do?” Nines complained, his hooves searching for his coffee cup. Hyde simply looked off into the distance at Equestria above him, crumpled up papers of discarded and terrible fiction surrounding them.
“Hey! It’s nice to have some company up here!” came a shout, both ponies turning to see the tired smile of Midnight as he trotted over to them. Nines greeted the veteran pre-reader with a half-hearted, decaffeinated wave, but Hyde was too busy staring at the outfit he was wearing.
“Why in the wide wide world of Equestria above us are you on the moon, in a maid’s outfit?”