"It's the end of the first date. You're supposed to kiss her goodnight."
"I wouldn't mind it, I guess..."
"Kiss her already!"
A hundred emotions flew past my mind's eye. Fear of the bouncer, adoration for Lyra, bewilderment as to if this was actually going to happen...and then only a single emotion crossed it as I completely missed the mark.
I rolled onto my side, hoping against hope that it wasn't the time I thought it was.
11:52. 8 minutes before the shop opens. 7 hours and 38 minutes before Lyra arrives. 1 hour and 41 minutes since I first woke up. 1 hour and 41 minutes of me going over less than 15 seconds of my life.
That was the first time in 6 years or so that I've had even a remote opportunity to kiss a mare that I really felt something for. And I blew it. Just straight up blew it. Fuck.
The minifridge started humming, getting ready for its next cycle.
"Get out of bed!" it seemed to say to me. "You've spent too long dwelling on this. Or at least make some money while you wallow in your sorrow."
I considered the fridge's opinion for a second, and then swiftly got out of bed. Don't wanna hallucinate up anything crazier.
"So Mac," I said, watching the sunset. "Branching out into other categories?"
I regarded Big Mac's selection as I punched numbers into the cash register. He usually just went for the tame, mainstream stuff. Y'know, boy-meets-girl, and then they fuck for no reason? Now, none of that is on the counter. What is on it is some BDSM, some interracial stuff, and even some fillyfooling. Nothing too radical, but it takes Mac a long time to change his opinion on anything.
Big Mac furiously blushed at my question. It's a good thing he did it furiously, too, as a regular blush from him looks like absolutely nothing.
"Ah--ah guess you could say that..." he said as he nervously rubbed his hooves together.
I saw that there was another DVD under the fillyfooling one. Pushing aside the one on top, a wide grin broke out on my face.
"Since when are you that daring, Mac?" I said as I smugly looked at the cover. Looks like somepony's finally going to buy that hydra-on-hydra DVD.
Big Mac jumped a little bit at my prying.
"Don't get the wrong idea!" he protested. "It's for my cousin, Ah swear!"
"Your cousin..." I replied. "Riiiiiiiiiiiiiight..."
"No, Ah'm serious," said Big Mac, almost mumbling now. "Braeburn was always the more adventurous one..."
"Ah," I said. "So these are 'supplies' for the Apple Family Reunion, then?"
"Guess ya could say that..."
"Well, you better be ready then, Mac buddy," I said, rising out of my chair. I stared Big Mac down as I said my next sentence. "I'm coming this year."
"Uh huh. Hard Cider's bringing me as one of his guests."
It's funny how Big Mac is such a softy, considering his size. It's kinda cute to watch him squirm.
"Sly," said Mac, now visibly sweating. "Please promise me you won't mention anything to Applejack and the others..."
"Yeah, I promise."
By this time, I had gathered the DVDs into a plastic bag. Big Mac shoved the requisite number of bits my way as he picked up the bag with his mouth.
"Thank ya kindly," he said, cautiously walking out the door. "It's good Ah can trust you, Sly..."
The bell rang sharply as Big Macintosh exited the shop. I narrowed my eyes. Big Mac's choices today will be a roaring good story around the Apple family fire for years to come if I have anything to say about it.
I rolled back from the counter in my chair, content at my display of power. It's strange how if I'm feeling down, if I make somepony feel worse, I immediately feel better. Then, I start to reflect on my actions, and I feel like a complete douche again, restarting the cycle. Kinda sucks now that I think about it.
I looked over at the TV again. 7:28. Lyra will be here any minute now. I'm mostly done beating myself up over last night now. I have to put the past behind me if I want this relationship to go anywhere. Though seriously, I probably wouldn't have come to this conclusion if my cigarette hadn't made some very good points. Now that was some freaky shit.
But aside from that, even if Lyra does confront me about this, I have a plan. And it's foolproof. Or at least, that's what my cig told me.
At that precise moment, the bell jingled again, and I was once again in the presence of Lyra. She blushed a little bit as she looked at me. If I could, I'd do the same, but I need to stick with the plan, and keep my composure.
"Hey," I said coolly. "You ready for your first shift alone?"
Lyra nodded a little bit, still blushing. I hopped out of the chair, and Lyra walked up to the counter and maneuvered herself into it.
"If you need me," I said, walking away. "I'll be upstairs." Woot, success. No mental breakdowns or anything.
"W-wait a second, Sly," said Lyra nervously. "Can we talk?"
Dammit. I hoped that I wouldn't need to talk to her, and she would just regard it as no big deal.
"Sure," I replied. "What do you want to talk about?"
"Well, first of all," Lyra started. "I'm sorry about last night."
"Oh, don't worry about it, it was nothing. I've kissed mares plenty of times before."
"But, then why were you so nervous?"
"Well," said Lyra, her blush now being replaced by a prying eye. "When was the last time you kissed a mare?"
"Uh..." I dumbly replied. Dammit, I thought she wouldn't pry further into my answer. In reflection, I probably shouldn't have said that I've kissed mares many times before. Lyra's suspicions are right; I really haven't, due to the fact that my relationships have all been very short.
"The last time I kissed a mare," I finally continued. "Was a few months ago."
"Oh," said Lyra, feigning surprise. "What was her name?"
"Uh..." I replied, my eyes darting around the shop, searching for ideas. They eventually wandered to the bathroom. "Her name was...John"--wait, that's not a girl's name!--"Johnny! Johnny, uh..."--my eyes darted to the register--"Cash! Yes, that's right, Johnny Cash!"
"Really? You mean like the country music star? The male country music star?"
"Uh, no! Completely different Johnny Cash. And definitely female."
"I see...so, why did the relationship end?"
"Oh, she had to go back on tour. She went to lots of places."
"I thought she wasn't the country music star...didn't he die a while back?"
"Well, why can't she be a star, too!?" I could feel the sweat running down the back of my neck. Lyra was really drilling me.
"Okay, okay," said Lyra defensively. "I guess she could. But tell me Sly, what did kissing 'Johnny Cash' feel like?"
"Uh..." I replied once again. My story must have multitudes upon multitudes of plot holes if Lyra is still being this inquisitively aggressive.
"It felt very..." Romantic. Special. Loving. Caring. Heart-warming. "...wet." Wow, good one brain.
"Uh huh..." said Lyra.
"Can we please change the topic!?" I nearly yelled.
"Okay, okay," said Lyra, who was now finally finished toying with me. "That wasn't what I really wanted to talk to you about in the first place. I was taking a class at college today with my friends, and after the class we all were talking to each other, catching up on recent events. It then slipped out that I went on a date with somepony last night, and of course the girls wanted to know everything about my 'special somepony'. Fortunately, I was able to get them not to pry very far, but in exchange, they made me promise to show them my coltfriend at sometime in the near future. As in, tomorrow at the coffee shop by my apartment. Is that okay with you?"
Lyra ended her explanation with a nervous toothy grin. I really wanted to say that it was not okay. I really did. But I couldn't; either way, my answer will increase the awkwardness in our relationship, but if I said no, it would be much harder on Lyra. Guess I'll just have to hope that Lyra's friends are an inclusive, accepting group.
"Yeah, it's okay," I reluctantly replied. "We're going during your hours, and it's coming out of your paycheck, though. Got that?"
"Yeah yeah, that's fine."
"Okay, then. I'll be upstairs if you need me."
"Wait a second, Sly," said Lyra, reaching out with a hoof. "Just remember to act natural around my friends. Don't try to act like Mr. Perfect around them. If your lie just a few minutes ago was any indication, they won't buy it. At the same time, though, try not to go into too much detail about your occupation. Or the latter part of last night's date. Okay?"
"Yeah, sure. I'll try not to."
"Great. I'll leave the coffee place's address on the counter."
"Got it." And with those final words, I walked upstairs. Despite Lyra's warnings, I know that it'll be impossible to keep my lips shut about those two topics, as they'll probably be the juiciest pieces of info. How many of Lyra's friends will be there, anyway? 2? 4? 17? I can't handle that much peer pressure.
I reached the top of the stairs, and got my lunch's leftovers from the minifridge. Hopefully my relationship, like this milk, won't sour tomorrow as expected.
"What'll it be, sugar?"
I sat at a windowside table in the coffee shop, waiting for Lyra and her friends to arrive. Luckily, the place wasn't very far from the shop, and the clock on the wall only read 12:15, about 5 minutes before they were all supposed to arrive.
The "Two Creams and a Sugar", as the place called itself, was a quaint little establishment. There were only five circular tables in the restaurant, each with four chairs pushed in. Each had a lacy doily resting on top, with the standard sugar, salt, and pepper in the middle of it. The counter was beside all of the tables, and chalkboard menus adorned the wall behind it, along with a few machines, an oven, and a framed critique. It all gave the place a nice homey atmosphere, that hearkened back to simpler times, probably to entice the more senior crowd of ponies.
At the moment, the place wasn't very full, especially for the lunch rush. Only I and two other groups were there, with the other groups all being ponies well over the age of 65. It kind of made me feel a bit awkward, and I was pretty sure one would come up to at any point and start calling me "sonny", and pinching my cheeks, and reminiscing about the good ol' days, and stuff.
The waitress who had addressed me before wrote down my order, and trotted away. As she did, the bell on the front door jingled, signaling the arrival of Lyra's party. I squinted a little bit so I could see them sooner. Lyra led the way, smiling when she saw I had already arrived, followed by a beige earth pony with a pink and purple mane, her same coloured tail bobbing behind her. Her cutie mark was three wrapped sweets. Next up was a blue unicorn with a periwinkle and darker blue tail, who had an hourglass cutie mark. I squinted even more to see the last pony coming through the door, but then rubbed my eyes as she came into focus, insistent that they were wrong. When I looked again, I saw that they had not betrayed me, and that this pony actually looked exactly the same as the last one.
Lyra led her group of four to the table, where the other three got their first looks at me. Lyra's beige friend gave a bit of a condescending look to me, while the two identical ones looked mildly shocked. Lyra pulled up an extra chair to the table before breaking the silence.
"Hello Sly," she said. "I'd like you to meet my lifetime friend Bon Bon, and the twins Colgate and Romana. Bon Bon, Colgate, Romana, this is Sly Clop, my coltfriend."
"Nice to meet you all," I said. I must say that it felt pretty nice for Lyra to publicly declare me her coltfriend.
"Likewise," said Bon Bon, who had not let up her glare. Colgate and Romana simply nodded.
The mares all sat down, Lyra closest to me, and the waitress came back to take the rest of our orders. An awkward silence ensued following that.
"So," began Bon Bon. "You're the dashing stallion that Lyra has fallen for?"
"Guess I am," I responded, noting Bon Bon's aristocratic tone, and sarcasm in the words "dashing stallion".
"I see," replied Bon Bon. "Lyra, dear, what exactly made you fall for Mr...uh..."
"Please, call me Sly," I said. Yes please, for the love of Celestia, call me Sly.
"Sly. What caught your eye about him, hm?"
"Well," began Lyra. "I guess it was a lot of different factors. When I first met him, I have to admit, I didn't think too highly of him, but he surprised me. He has a great sense of humour, a down-to-earth, realistic view of life that I like, and I know that he really cares about me."
Lyra blushed as she said the last part. All true, all true. I'm very happy that Lyra's want of a job eclipsed her disgust at the first thing I said to her when we first met.
"Mm hm," said Bon Bon. "So, tell me, where did you two meet?"
"We met at the por--" Lyra started before she shoved her hoof into her mouth. That was close.
"The what?" responded Bon Bon.
"The...uh..." said Lyra, futilely searching for an answer.
"The poor part of town," I finished for Lyra, who gave me a look of relief.
"What were you doing there, Lyra?" said Colgate, uttering her first words since she got here.
"I was job-hunting. Sly runs a store in that part of town and he hired me."
"Ooh, an employee-boss relationship. Edgy," said Romana, uttering her first words, prompting Lyra and me to blush.
"So, what kind of store does Sly run?" said Bon Bon, prying further.
"He runs...uh," said Lyra, beginning to sweat.
I sighed. I know this is going to get out sooner or later. I can't really fabricate a good enough lie to get Lyra and myself out of this one.
"I run an adult video store," I said, using its formal name partly to lessen the impact, and partly to suit Bon Bon's seemingly cultured tastes.
The effect was immediate. Bon Bon's mouth dropped open, not ladylike in the least, while Colgate and Romana's right and left eyes respectively twitched. Lyra put on a nervous smirk, and I decided a small suave smile was best suited for this occasion.
"Here are your orders," said the waitress, hoofing us each a cup of coffee.
Romana was the first one to break the silence, with a whistle.
"So Lyra, this is your keeper?" she asked.
"I must say," said Bon Bon, now swirling a cream into her coffee. "Lyra, I am extremely disappointed in you. You've really lowered your standards."
"Yeah," said Colgate. "The only thing lower than your standards are your panties."
"Colgate!" shouted Lyra, embarrassed. This is going a bit better than expected, I think. Bon Bon is a stuck-up bitch, but at least Colgate and Romana are a riot.
"I must inquire," said Bon Bon, now stirring a sugar into her coffee as well. "Why did you want to get a job at what some ponies might call a 'porn shop'?"
"It was simply the first place I saw," said Lyra defensively, with a defeated look on her face. "I thought 'Hey, the sooner I get money, the better'. And it kind of worked out."
Lyra looked into my eyes, silently saying an apology for how much of a bitch Bon Bon was being. It's okay, Lyra, really. Colgate and Romana make up for it.
"So Sly," said Romana, sipping her one sugar coffee. "Where's the place located?"
"It's on Soresaddle Street," I replied. "Not too far from here, actually. It's called the Mareborough."
"Ooh, I like that," said Colgate, sipping her one cream coffee. "Classy."
"What's come in recently?" asked Romana, prompting an eyebrow raise from Bon Bon.
"Well, I got three new DVDs in today," I said. I looked over at Lyra, and saw that she was still blushing, and beads of sweat were running down her face. If it wasn't for the twins, I'd probably be doing the same, but they're really putting me at ease. They're not making jokes about my panties.
"The first one's pretty tame," I continued. "I think it was called A Knight to Remember. It probably has the standard plot of all the porn we get, with a bit of a medieval theme thrown in. I don't think there's any medieval torture in it, though."
"Wait, you have to guess whether there's torture in it or not?" asked Colgate, intrigued.
"Torture devices, more specifically. And yes, some ponies do have a fetish for that."
"Sick," said Romana, prompting both of the twins to start sniggering. Bon Bon looked a bit appalled.
"The second one was a coltcuddling one, so I just put it in its section and walked away as quickly as I could," I continued. "I'm not into that."
"Aww," replied Colgate. "You aren't up for 'broadening your horizons'?"
"I'm pretty sure I'm a 100% straight pony."
"That's too bad," said Romana, prompting another bout of giggling. I wasn't really sure whether to brush that off like just another joke or not. No idea what she means, but it can't be G-rated.
"The final one I got was very strange," I continued. "It's from the Griffin Kingdom up north, and it's by some minorly famous artist. The cover was made to look like a stained glass window, with a rainbow of diamonds as a background. In the middle were two stylized griffins doing it, with the Griffinese name over it. It was so strange that I just had to watch it."
"Tell me, Sly," said Colgate, raising an eyebrow. "Approximately how many of your wares do you 'sample'?"
"Not too many," I replied, which prompted a small sigh of relief from Lyra. "I only really ever watch the porn I get if they seem really interesting or good. Or if I just feel really horny."
Colgate and Romana laughed, and the now-silent Bon Bon grimaced a bit, as did Lyra.
"Anyways," I continued. "It was really strange. Everything was done in the style of a stained glass window, and I could barely even understand the story, and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have been much better off if I could speak Griffinese. From what I gathered, I think it's about a male griffin who thinks impure thoughts while he's worshipping at a shrine to the Griffin god. This for some reason makes him fall into the world of stained glass, where a griffin angel tries to relieve him of these thoughts. Everything in the stained glass world was animated, with the frames going by choppily, like the movie was lagging. All the while, a chilling violin piece played in the background. Really, while I'm not a pony that 'gets' modern art, this wasn't erotic in the least. I'm not into fucking my mind while I'm fucking myself."
As I said that last sentence, Bon Bon angrily stood up from her chair, her coffee forgotten. Everyone in the café who hadn't been staring at us before was now.
"You two make me want to scream!" said Bon Bon, basically screaming already. "You know, when I first came in and saw you, you gave off an air of a conpony, and I got a feeling that I couldn't trust you, but I was optimistic about the whole thing. It might not've seemed like it, but I gave you a chance. And you blew it. You really are the vulgar, perverse bastard that I feared you'd be. And Lyra, how could you have fallen for this stallion!? He probably is bragging about you to all of his friends, saying how he really scored with you. Once he gets with you, he's going to throw you out like last week's trash! And there's nothing special about him at all, he's well below average! Pardon my French, but he thinks nothing of you and he'd fuck anything that walks."
Lyra's eyes had grown wide as saucers during Bon Bon's little rant, but now they were narrowed and she was gritting her teeth.
"What are you saying, Bon Bon!" Lyra shouted. "You come in here, and after 5 minutes of talking, you're making baseless accusations and talking about Sly as if he's the son of Tirac, or something. Sly really does care for me, and tries hard in his own way to impress me. He made a point to go to the spa on the day of our date, just to look his best, and every day there are new flowers in the vase on the counter. He might be a bit vulgar sometimes, but he really always wants the best for me. He's not the best when it comes to romance, but it's really cute to see him try. Frankly, I'm very disappointed in you, Bon Bon, for so blatantly judging a book by its cover. I suggest you reflect on your actions after this, and think about how you can apologize to me the next time we see each other."
Bon-Bon's mouth hung open, as did Colgate's and Romana's. Everypony else in the café was listening intently to us like a soap opera.
"J--just--AHH!" screamed Bon Bon, fed up. "Come on girls, let's go."
Colgate and Romana reluctantly got out of their chairs, looking much more disappointed in Bon Bon now than Lyra.
"We didn't even get to talk about your date..." moped Colgate.
"Don't worry," I said to Colgate and Romana. "You guys are alright. Maybe we could meet up again sometime."
Colgate and Romana smiled before following Bon Bon out the door of the shop, ending our meeting. Everypony else went back to their business. Lyra turned to me.
"Listen, Sly," she started, tears almost forming in her eyes. "I'm really, really sorry about Bon Bon--"
"Hey, it's okay, it's okay," I said, shushing her. "I expected the worst. I'm just happy you didn't believe Bon Bon."
"Sly..." said Lyra. "I know you better than that. I wish Bon Bon wasn't so judgmental of new faces. She acted exactly like this when we first met the twins. It took her a long time to accept them. She's a bit unstable, sometimes. She moved to Ponyville from Canterlot when she was only 7, and she had no friends when she first came here. When I stood up to some colts who were bullying her, she finally warmed to somepony, and we've been friends ever since. We don't see eye to eye, though, and if it wasn't for the fact that she was being bullied so much, I'm not sure if we would've ever become friends in the first place."
"Well," I replied. "I'm just happy that you're such an inclusive pony, being friends with an aristocratic stuck-up mare, but having a down-on-his-luck, dirty and vulgar stallion as your coltfriend."
"Aww, you," said Lyra, giving me a playful punch.
We paid the bill, Lyra being grateful at me paying for her friends. After we got out of the cafe, she showed me the apartment building she lived in. The outside wasn't anything too special, just an old brick building, but before I could offer to go inside, she reminded me that the store wasn't making any money right now. And unfortunately, I need the bits.
The rest of the afternoon went by relatively quickly at the shop, and I started my shift at exactly 7:30 PM, with Lyra bidding me farewell. I turned on the TV, waiting for a customer to come in, and I was soon enthralled in a Ponyville-Fillydelphia hockey game.
As the second period ended, with the score tied at 1, the shop bell jingled out. I looked up from the game, expecting to see a customer, but I was greeted by a familiar face instead.
"Hey," said Rainbow Dash. "Can we talk?"
There, finally finished it. I had a lot of trouble writing the beginning of this chapter, but I think I got everything right. The first part where Sly's lying in bed lamenting last night wasn't originally there, and I almost had to start from scratch (granted, I hadn't written anything past the Big Mac part yet) because I thought the part with Big Mac didn't tie into the end of the last chapter well enough. I'm glad I didn't have to, since the part with Big Mac out of context is one of my favourite scenes I've written so far.
Sorry that this is a bit late. Blame the Magic: the Gathering Pro Tour. In fact, if it wasn't for the fact that we were going over our internet usage, and it would be best if I didn't watch too many videos from now until Wednesday, I probably wouldn't have gotten this chapter done today.
If any of you are wondering about the title image, that is very much in the works, and two artists have designed art for the cover. I'm just waiting for the second artist to colour his image. I will then pick the best of the two.
So yeah, hope you enjoyed this chapter, and look forward to the next one.