Location: In front of Steam Gear’s Engineering, Edge of the Bridge Harbor District
He looked up at the metallic sign. ‘Steam Gear’s Engineering’ standing proudly in bold letters under the light of the moon. It wasn’t one of the largest shops around, considering this wasn’t even one of the rich parts of town, but it was still home.
With a sigh he unlocked the door, making an audible click before he creaked it open, to which the door squeaked noisily, remembering him that he still had to fix that. An additional jingle filled the room, normally there to let him know about customers. Another step and he then stepped on a creaking floorboard, followed by the loud metallic clank of a bucket he still had to clear up.
Yeah, with all that much noise it was no wonder what happened next. He should really do a better job at keeping this place in condition. But back to the more important stuff.
Before Steam Gear could even react he was tackled to the ground. He could feel two hooves wrap around his neck tightly. He squeaked from the the hard iron-like grip that two hooves had on him, but he could get himself to settle down after only a short time as he could hear a small filly sniffle into his neck.
“A-are you ok?” she asked timidly, sadness gracing her voice. “When you d-didn’t come home…I-I was w-worried!”
A small smile spread across Steam Gear’s muzzleface as he wrapped his hooves around the little form, stroking her back in an attempt to soothe her.
“Sh, sh. It’s alright. Nothing happened to me,” he soothed comfortingly.
The moonlight illuminated her soft pink coat and purple mane all too softly.
Lily Longsocks. The filly he took under his non-existing wings, or for short simply took care of. A tad complicated situation one could say, considering almost no one knew about her even being in his shop.
Despite that and he not being her father he cared deeply for her, as she does for him. They are family. Nothing could ever change that. And so it was that Lily of course was deeply troubled at not seeing him returning after he told her about his part in this mission.
“But it could,” she argued weakly, her voice quivering.
Seeing her like this. Completely panicked, saddened and with a deep worry tugged at Steam Gear’s heartstrings. He didn’t want her to feel like that. Really didn’t want to. And the thought that he hurt her like that, how unintentionally it was… It was nothing he want to bear seeing again. So he came to a decision.
“I won’t, because I will never ever take part in such a dangerous mission again.”
Her ears perked up at that as her gaze looked up to meet his, her eyes sparkling in the moonlight with barely suppressed tears.
“Promise. Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye.”
The little filly just smiled serenely at him as she got back to hugging the living daylights out of him. Or probably more like normal hugging in her case. You don’t want to see the filly hugging him with all her strength. Really, that might get messy considering she had Super Strength and Steam Gear was pretty much a normal dude with nothing to block said strength.
After a while Steam Gear spoke up again.
“You know, how about I make it up to you?”
The filly let go of him completely and inquisitive glint shining in her soft eyes. These exact eyes asking him the unasked question.
“The Iceball Cannon Model X should be ready by tomorrow. How about I prepare the training room so we can test it together, right after your lessons?”
Now the eyes were full of kawaii sparkles as she earned an excited smile. She immediately wrapped her forehooves around the grown stallions barrel, heaving him into the air without trouble as she was giving him a REAL bonebreaking hug.
“YES! YES! YES!” she said excitedly. It was one of the rare occasions as the timid filly acted rather subdued and shy most of the time. But hey, she really loves her cream.
…I hope that did come out right.
Steam Gear was meanwhile in quite a bit of pain, squeaking and gasping out as he was held in the air, with no chance to escape the fillies affections.
But his squirming finally got himself noticed by her. As she saw his pain struck face, she immediately let go of him, making him slump to the ground. She started to nervously stutter out apologies as she scuffed her hoof at the ground in shame and tried to hide her face behind a part of her mane. Steam Gear however waved her off.
“Don’t worry. I’m still alive,” he half-joked, as he shakily got up. The filly immediately walked to his side and helped him up, still unable to look him directly in the eye, as she had just harmed the pony she had so much to thank for.
Steam Gear immediately saw that, and let it be said, that he wasn’t about to let that filly trash herself for a simple affectionate hug. With that he struck a pose, holding in the pain he could still feel from the hug, before he proudly exclaimed:
“My back has gotten its own superpower, called Super Strength Resistance to counter your Super Strength Bear Hugs! Not even Celestia is going to stop me now! MUAHAHAHA!”
A giggle escaped the foals mouth at his silly display Steam put up for her, which in turn made him smile at having succeeded in his most important mission of the day, to make her giggle! It really made his day. Especially considering how chaotic said day was. He was after all sent on a dangerous mission, then captured, then met a strange as well as a intimidating being that freed him, only then to get captured by the Mane-iac again and put into a crate.
Also there might have been another thing that made his day.
“At least I’m closer now with my plans thanks to the prize for this mission,” he said as he trotted around the counter and up the stairs, the filly hot on his tail.
“Prize?” she asked in her soft voice.
Steam Gear’s smile spread creepily as he answered her with a chipper tone.
“I got some materials for my dream!” he joyfully exclaimed before rubbing the back of his head, “Or I will get them.”
Lily remembered what he had told her earlier today. About what his payment would be.
She couldn’t help but frown worriedly, “I’m happy that you got them but still think that you could have seriously been hurt.”
“I know, but what’s done is done. And besides just imagine the wonders this new technology could bring!”
With a spring in his step he opened the door to the left to his room and standing before...something.
Lily herself was also not sure what exactly she should think about it as he weaved through some plans in front of this… thing.
“Well…you know…the shrine may come off a bit creepy if others saw it,” she commented, only glad that he had switched on the light instead of using the offered candles. CANDLES! Candles alone where a good marking that this was indeed a proper shrine...
“Pfft! This is a board with all of my scientific approaches, not a shrine!”
...No matter how much he denied it. She honestly sometimes was worried about this obsession, albeit she could understand his fascination he had with the topic.
A yawn then escaped her. One that quickly reached Steam Gear as he did so as well. He then looked down at the small filly before grimacing.
“Celestia, I’m terrible at this. You shouldn’t be up that long and it is my fault for worrying you.”
“I think you shouldn’t be up as well,” the filly commented with a slight smile, making Steam Gear reel back.
“Yeah, right,” he said while embarrassedly rubbing the back of his neck, but also feeling a little pride swell within as Lily was so perceptive, “Tomorrow is a shop day isn’t it? Busy schedule. Let me tuck you in then,” he marched forward and toward Lily’s room directly opposite of his own.
They then entered her room. Lily neared her bed with another tired yawn and hopped onto it, waiting for Steam to approach.
Steam stopped in front of her bed as he took the blanked in his magic, while Lily laid back and rested her head onto her pillow. Steam Gear tucked her in and the filly smiled tiredly at him.
He returned the smile in kind before giving her a loving peck on her forehead.
“Good night,” he said softly, as not to disrupt her oncoming sleep.
“Night,” the filly slurred tiredly as her heavy eyes closed all on her own. The worry might have helped her to stay up until now, but it also exhausted her greatly. Something Steam Gear felt guilty about.
Sure, he got something out of it, but was it really worth it? Risking himself? Risking her? Who would after all care for her if he was gone?
Steam Gear shook his head with a sad frown. Was he selfish for participating in this mission? Sure, the Power Ponies kind of convinced him, Rainbow especially, but he still had the possibility to deny. Only he didn’t. He wanted to chase after his dream, even though it might seem a bit foalish.
His mind then went back to Lily, peacefully sleeping in her room. He shook his head. He couldn’t do something that risky again. He already risked enough by working for the Power Ponies. He didn’t need to throw himself in harm’s way for them. After all he was no fighter. Not to mention that he could fulfil his dream without doing that.
A soft chuckle escaped his lips. What was he doing? Discussing doing something he Pinkie Promised not to do already. It kind of seemed pointless now that he thought about it.
He was sometimes really too selfish. But at least he saw his mistake. And he was quite determined to never do that one again. For Lily.
With that he made his way to his own bed. He probably needed the rest anyway. He couldn’t help but briefly wonder about Nightcrawler. He was really an interesting and cheerful character, but seemed quite troubled all the same. He wondered where said being was as he laid down on his bed, sinking into his soft comfort. In any case he probably could only hope he had such a convenient bed like him. But he also hoped to see him again one day. With that last thought he drifted off to a peaceful slumber.