When Masky and Pumpkin came out from behind the tree, all smiles and their bodies pressed up against one another as they walked, Pound knew that things had gone well.
He trotted up to them. “I guess you worked things out, then?”
They both nodded. “Mmm-hmm,” Pumpkin said as she giggled.
“That’s great. I’m happy for you.”
Masky put a hoof out to Pound. “I’m sorry for all the trouble I caused.”
Ignoring the hoof Pound walked forward and gave him a hug. “As long as Pumpkin’s happy then I am too.”
Masky awkwardly smiled before hugging Pound back. “I wasn’t expecting you to forgive me so easily. Pumpkin, either. Spending time with Fluttershy really helped me.”
Pound pulled back, patting Masky on the head. “Oh, we’ve both been there. Right, sis?”
Pumpkin nodded. “Sure have.”
“So what’s next? Do you want to come play with us?”
Masky’s face brightened, but then it faded as he frowned. “I can’t. At least not today. I need to go home and wait for my parents. Like Fluttershy told me, things won’t change if I never speak up about how I really feel. And even if they don’t want to change I’ll still be able to have the magic notebook so we can keep in touch, and Fluttershy told me I could adopt a pet from her.”
“Give it your best shot!” said Pumpkin, slapping him on the back. “It never hurts to try.”
The two of them hugged again, and Masky closed his eyes, not wanting to let go.
Pumpkin put her all into her hug, knowing he’d need all the courage and support she could give him.
When they broke apart Masky was teary-eyed. He was starting to remember the close feelings he had for the friends he had made in other towns.
He waved to her. “Goodbye for now. Even if things don’t work out the way I’d like I don’t want to push away my friends anymore. Even if I have to move again I want to make the most of our time together.”
“And I’ll be waiting,” she replied. “Good news or bad news we’ll all be waiting for you.”
He looked between the smiling faces of Pumpkin, Pound, Pinkie, and Fluttershy, and the feeling of not wanting to leave grew stronger and stronger.
After saying the rest of his goodbyes Fluttershy continued walking with him to his hotel.
When they arrived outside Masky stopped her. “Fluttershy, I really, really appreciate everything you did for me today, but I think this is something I have to do on my own.”
Mayhem stirred. He had already been woken up by Pumpkin and Masky arguing and had just been lightly dozing since. “Why’s that? Everyone else has been offering their support.”
“That will do, Mayhem,” said Fluttershy gently. “This is a personal matter for him. It’s not our place to interfere. However, if things go poorly then we’ll all be around for moral support. That’s all we can do for him in this situation.”
“I don’t like it. I don’t want to see him sad after everything he did today.”
“And I don’t either, but we’ll all be with him in spirit.”
“Can’t I just help a tiny bit?”
Before Fluttershy could respond Masky spoke up. “No!” he said strongly. “Fluttershy was right. Pumpkin was furious with me because I was a big fake, so I don’t want you messing with my parent’s heads so they’ll give me what I want. If they’re not going to be sincere in their feelings then what’s the point?”
Mayhem sighed. “Fine. I won’t help.”
Fluttershy beamed. “That was a very mature choice you just made.” She leaned over and kissed his forehead. “I’m glad you understand.”
Masky smiled awkwardly. “Thank you.” He gave her another hug. “Just… thank you for everything. I wish I had the words to say just how much I appreciate it.”
Mayhem jumped off her back and joined in with Fluttershy as she hugged him back. “You’re welcome,” said Fluttershy warmly. “I’m glad to see you making the most of your second chance.”
Just like with Pumpkin he had no desire for the hug to end. He embraced the feelings that he had tried throwing away, allowing his heart to meld with theirs.
He didn’t know how long it went on for, but when they split apart he had a warm feeling in his chest.
“Remember,” Fluttershy said, rubbing his head, “we’re here for you if you need us.”
Masky nodded. “I know. I don’t feel as afraid anymore.”
“I hope everything works out for you,” said Mayhem, copying Fluttershy by rubbing his head.
Masky good-naturedly rolled his eyes. “Me too.”
Bidding them farewell he went inside, walking around the halls until he came to his room. Opening the door he was unsurprised to see his parents weren’t there. It would be another hour or so before they arrived.
He went into a cupboard and pulled out some cereal, eating a few mouthfuls. He didn’t think he could stomach anything more, but he needed to eat something.
He lay down on his back on his bed, staring up at the ceiling. He followed the fancy pattern painted around the room for a little while before shifting his focus to what was coming.
He wouldn’t delay. When they came in the room and put their stuff down they’d ask how he was feeling and if he was still feeling unwell. That’s when he would strike. He’d tell the truth that he had been hiding from them, and the rest would be up to them.
His stomach felt like it was full of worms, the wait feeling unbearable. Several times he tried getting up and doing something, but he would rapidly lose focus and become unable to concentrate, and he would find himself back on his bed.
He got up again, taking out his photo album and returning to his bed. He flipped through the pages, seeing the adventures he had been on over the years. He had taken this album around the world and kept it safe, like Pumpkin said, so he had no doubt that he would care for the magic journal she would give him.
He groaned. What if Pumpkin couldn’t keep hers safe? He shook his head. Now wasn’t the time to think of such things. He didn’t need any more discouragement.
Closing the book he put a hoof by his heart, focusing on the kindness he had been shown and the friendship he had mended.
As he was calming down he found himself in distress as the door suddenly opened. His head jerked over, but seeing it was his parent’s home early did little to sooth him.
“Hey there, Champ!” Net Worth called out. “You feeling better?”
He was caught off guard by their sudden appearance, and his grand plan to speak up got derailed. “Y-yeah. I slept most of the day away.”
“Great to hear it!” said Swift Deal as she set her bag on the table. “You’re not gonna believe the news we have.”
Masky could see they both looked excited, and again put off speaking his mind. He got off his bed and went to sit at the table with them. “So what’s all the hubbub about?”
“Well, besides me getting a large commission not just for the deal I made yesterday, but setting up a few extras, our boss already has a new assignment for us.”
Masky’s smile grew strained. That was the last thing he wanted to hear.
“We’re getting an all-expenses paid two week cruise sponsored by the princess of love herself: Cadence! It’s mainly a couples cruise for relaxing, but there’s one particular couple we’re hoping to strike a deal with.
“Every night we’ll stop off at another city and enjoy the sights. Shoot, we can do that right here in Ponyville now that we just got paid.”
He could hear it. They were both so happy. This was why he had so much trouble speaking up before. And it was why he didn’t want to speak up now. His mind filled with the images of the friends he had made earlier, and he knew he couldn’t use his usual excuse to stay silent.
“I’m not going,” he said quietly. “I’ll just stay here.”
Net Worth chuckled. “Come on, now. We know you value your independence but we’re not just going to leave you without supervision for two weeks.”
“All you care about is your jobs. What about ME? Did you ever think that maybe I don’t want to go on a cruise?”
They both looked at him curiously, growing serious. “That’s not like you, Masquerade,” said Swift Deal. “Everywhere we go you’re always eager for the next adventure.”
He hopped out of his seat, shaking with anger. “I’m tired of adventure! I’m tired of seeing the sights! I hate it! I’m sick of it!”
“What are you getting so worked up about?” asked Net. “There has to be more to this than a trip.”
“You bet there is! I need parents who are PARENTS, not some ponies who throw me in a room by myself all day waiting for them to come home!”
Their confusion only grew. Their son was practically bursting at the seams. “Hold on now,” said Swift. “We enrolled you in school so you’d have something to do during the day. We left you alone today so you could rest, and provided you with a means to contact us if necessary.”
“Honestly,” said Net, “we’re not sure where all this is coming from. You’re the one that’s always insisted on your independence and maturity. Why is this now suddenly an issue?”
“It’s been an issue for a while now!” Masky said. “I just haven’t said anything about it.”
“A while? How long are we talking here?”
“Oh, about six towns or so ago.” Tears formed in his eyes. “You have no idea how unhappy I’ve been! You have no idea how painful every goodbye has been for me! Countless friends... gone! I’m sick of it!”
Confusion turned to sadness. “Masquerade,” said Swift, “if this has been such an issue for you then why did you never speak up about it? Personally, we find the continuous moving around fun. It keeps life from becoming stale. Going by your attitude we thought you felt the same.”
Masky had that torn feeling again. Now they had confirmed that not only did they love their jobs, but the traveling around too. A heavy sensation came over him, and he felt like he might just collapse to the floor. “Well… I don’t. At least… not anymore. I’m tired of losing friends. I’m tired of being independent.
“I didn’t speak up before because I thought it wouldn’t change anything. At least, that’s how I felt before talking to Fluttershy.”
“Fluttershy?” asked Net. “Who’s that?”
“She’s one of the Elements of Friendship. She represents kindness. She was the one who pointed out to me that nothing would change unless I spoke up.” His head rose, and now he felt enraged again. “AND I WANT THINGS TO CHANGE!” he yelled.
“I’m sick of the way things are. I’m sick of moving! I’m sick of losing people I care about. I’m tired of feeling lonely.” Glaring at the table, tears coming down his eyes, he finished, “AND I’M SICK OF YOUR STUPID JOB THAT KEEPS YOU AWAY FROM ME!” He spun around and bucked the table over, causing his parents bags and a large number of papers to go spilling out, slowly descending to the ground. “I’M MISERABLE! DON’T YOU SEE THAT?” He panted heavily, quietly sobbing.
Neither Net nor Swift complained or scolded him about the mess he had just made. They didn’t even give it a second glance. Both of them had heavy expressions too now.
“We had no idea that you felt so strongly about things,” Net said quietly. “We gave you the freedom you asked for, but it’s our failing to have been so busy that you’ve felt neglected.”
Swift let out a breath. “We have been selfish, so caught up in work that we didn’t consider what was best for your development.”
Net whispered in Swift’s ear. After a few moments she nodded.
“We’ll start making that up to you right now,” said Net, rummaging among the mess of papers until he came up with a red envelope. With a little bit of magic they set up the table and haphazardly stuffed the papers in their bags.
Masky looked between them uncertainly. They looked sorry enough, but he wondered what they had planned.
Net jotted a quick note down before putting it in the envelope. He closed it, and then with a flash of magic the note disappeared.
Masky felt like now they were waiting for something. About two minutes later he found out what it was.
Masky heard a popping sound outside their door before there was a knock.
Net opened the door, and a white-coated unicorn stallion in a black suit walked in. “Good evening, Sir,” he said, bowing his head.
“Anytime, anytime,” he replied jovially. “I certainly didn’t expect to be called out of the blue like this, but after that sensational deal you made I’ll gladly meet with you.” He craned his head as he straightened his tie. “So that’s your son?”
“Yes, Sir,” said Swift.
“Pleased to meet you,” he said, patting Masky’s head. “I’m Number Cruncher.”
Masky awkwardly put his hoof out, and Number tapped it. “Nice to meet you. I’m Masquerade Ball.”
“So what’s going on? What can I do for you?”
Swift and Net looked at each other. “We need to talk, Sir.”
“Well, I wasn’t expecting this to be just a social call.” He sat down at the table. “So let’s talk business.”
Swift went into the cupboard, pulling out some cups. “Would you like some lemonade?”
Once she poured him a glass she and Net sat down at the table with him.
Masky wasn’t sure whether to stand or sit. He wasn’t even sure why they had called their boss over. Swift gestured him toward her, and when he walked over she put him on her lap. He wasn’t sure how he felt about that. He was still getting used to physical contact.
Number took a big sip of his lemonade. “Okay, then. I’m all ears. What can I do for you?”
“Well, Sir,” started Net, “this isn’t easy to say, but we cannot continue in your employment any longer.”
Numbers eyes widened in shock, as did Masky’s. “T-this is so sudden! Did you get a better offer somewhere else? I'll match it.”
“It’s nothing to do with business, Sir,” said Swift. “And depending on your response we might not quit after all. We just can’t be traveling businessponies anymore.”
“Nothing to do with business, you say? Then what’s the issue?”
Swift put her hooves around Masky. “Our son opened up to us today that our busy traveling lifestyle has been causing him considerable distress. Constantly uprooting his life and losing friends, as well as not having enough time to spend with us, has worn him down. He’s seeking stability and a more routine life, and as his parents we feel that we cannot, in good conscience, damage our son’s well-being and happiness for the sake of our jobs any longer.”
A tear came down Masky’s eye. They were sticking up for him.
“Well, sure,” Number said slowly, “family should come first. You’re two of my most effective employees, so that’s why I send you around so often. I’ll tell you what: I’ll reduce you from monthly relocation to half a year.”
Masky tensed. Now their boss was bargaining with them. It didn’t matter how sparse their travels were. He didn't want it to happen anymore. In fact, it would just make things worse. Six months would be enough time for him to actually develop a deep friendship with someone, which would only make it cut even deeper when they had to part.
Swift felt the gentle trembling coming from her son. “I’m sorry, but we’re taking the traveling bit out of our work completely. Now that we know how our son’s been feeling recently it doesn’t matter how seldom we move around. It would still mean uprooting his life and forcing pain upon him.”
“Agreed,” said Net. “If you cannot find us another position to fill we understand. We’ll hand in our resignations right here and find somewhere else to work.”
Swift felt moisture on her front legs. Looking down she could see the tears falling from his chin. She tightened her hold a little to let him know everything was okay.
Number was quiet for a minute, his head on his hooves. Finally, he let out a long sigh. “So be it. I can’t very well ask you to forget your child’s feelings.”
“It was an honor working with you,” Swift said, bowing her head.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” Number said, putting a hoof up. “I can’t let you go. You’re far too efficient for me to fire you over this. You’d put me out of business if you signed up with someone else. For now you can finish up the paperwork on your recent contract. We’ll figure out where we go from there later on.”
With a not too optimistic tone he asked, “Can I at least count on you for the cruise? You’ll be back in Ponyville soon enough.”
Net and Swift looked at each other before turning back to Number. “That,” Net started, “is probably not going to happen. We’d need to talk it over with Masquerade first. For the time being I think it would be best if you look into a replacement.”
Number looked deflated. “Understood,” he said in a resigned tone. He downed the rest of his drink before standing up. “Thanks for the lemonade.”
“Thank you for understanding, Sir,” Net said, standing up.
“Would you like to stay for dinner?” asked Swift, remaining seated.
“Sorry, but I can’t,” Number responded. “I have to do damage control and somehow find replacements for you two. Preferably ones with grown-up children.”
“Or no children at all,” Net added.
“Even better.” With another sigh he forced a smile on his face. “Well, I wish you luck in your travels… if you’ll pardon the expression.”
“Thank you, Sir. We’ll be at the office tomorrow.”
When Number closed the door a few seconds passed and then Net said cheerfully, “And there we go.”
Masky was feeling a little overwhelmed. He felt like such an idiot. It had all been so simple. If he had just spoken up sooner he wouldn’t have had to suffer for so long.
Swift moved her hooves, picking him up and turning him toward her. “We’re not quite there yet. We might get some assistance from Number because of our years of service, but either way we need to look into getting us an actual house.
“Things are going to be up in the air for the next month or so. We need to see how our job is going to change, how our pay is going to look, and what we’ll be able to afford. “
Net walked next to his wife, rubbing Masky’s head. “Luckily you have school, so you’ll be around other children during the day. While things are getting settled we’ll probably still have some long hours of work. We promise that once everything is worked out with our job and our housing situation that we’ll be spending a lot more time with you. So, though it might be hard, can we ask for your patience and independence for just a little while longer?”
Masky didn’t hesitate. He gave a hearty nod. “Sure!” he said, joyful tears pouring down his eyes. He extended his legs toward them, and they quickly leaned over to hug him.
If he pushed them to stick around it would only make things harder on all of them and get him further away from what he wanted. Now that they had shown their sincerity in validating his feelings and took steps to fix things immediately he wasn’t scared anymore.
Soon he’d have a real home that he could invite Pound and Pumpkin to, and more time with his mom and dad. He could take one more month of distance from his parents for a lifetime of happiness.
They ignored their paperwork in favor of just spending time with him. He sat with his parents and just talked with them like he hadn’t done in quite a while. He explained the gradual downturn of his feelings and how he had adopted a cool, aloof persona to mask what he was really feeling. He told them about Pumpkin’s crush on him, and how things had spiraled out of control.
For the most part they just listened to him as he talked, occasionally making a comment or asking a question. They didn’t want to say too much. Now that he had opened up to them they didn’t want him to seal himself away again.
In the morning he got a pleasant surprise. Usually his parents just woke him up and then rushed out the door. Today, though, they patiently waited for him to go through his morning routine and they got to enjoy breakfast together.
He couldn’t stop grinning throughout it all. It was a small thing, but he knew they were doing it to continue proving how sincere they were.
He hadn’t been expecting anything more than that, but he got another pleasant surprise when they left. He thought they would simply head off to work, but they also walked him to school, both of them on either side of him.
Again he found himself crying, a proud smile on his face and his head held high.
When he arrived at school he was surprised to see a small group of ponies waiting outside for him: Fluttershy, Mayhem, Pinkie Pie, Pound, Pumpkin, and (he gulped) Princess Twilight.
“Hello, everyone,” he said.
“Hey, Masky!” Pumpkin walked forward. “Are these your parents?”
He nodded. “Yeah.”
“If they’re here with you then I guess everything went well?” asked Fluttershy.
“Yeah,” he said dreamily.
“I know I mentioned this the other day,” started Net, rubbing his head, “but seeing all these friends surrounding you is impressive. It makes me happy.”
Masky tensed a little as Twilight approached. “H-hello, Princess,” he said, bowing to her.
“Stand up,” she said calmly. “Don’t be afraid. Fluttershy and Pumpkin filled me in on what's been going on with you.”
As Masky rose Net and Swift gave a quick bow as well. “Princess Twilight Sparkle,” said Swift. “It’s an honor to meet you.”
“Likewise,” she replied.
“Our son told us about his hidden feelings, and about the fake coltfriend incident. We’ve already begun making amends.”
Masky smiled widely. “Yeah, they have! They threatened to quit their jobs if their boss wouldn’t stop making them travel everywhere. ”
Fluttershy giggled serenely. “Isn’t it just like I told you?”
He nodded hard. “Yep. When they saw how sad I really was they stepped right up to make it better.”
“So,” Pinkie started, “does that mean you’re going to be a permanent resident of Ponyville now?”
“We’re working on it,” said Net. “Like we told our son there’s going to be a little turbulence for the next little while until we get everything settled, but we do plan to make Ponyville our home.”
“Uh-oh,” Pound said good-naturedly as he noticed the expression on Pinkie’s face. “You’re in for it now.”
“What do you mean?”
Pumpkin said, “If you’re moving to Ponyville then Pinkie is going to throw you a welcome party. She’s the Element of Laughter but she might as well be the Element of Parties.”
“That’s mighty kind of you,” said Swift, “but you don’t have to do that.”
“Sure do!” Pinkie said, throwing confetti in the air. “Ponyville is a town where all ponies live in harmony like a family. And every addition to the family gets a party from Ponyville’s number one party pony: ME!”
“I’m up for it!” Masky said. “The more happy occasions the better, right?”
“Well, if that’s what you want then we’re up for it too,” Swift said, giving him a hug.
“Same here,” said Net. “After all, it’s gonna take some time before things settle down. Might as well start off our new life with a bang.”
“Great!” said Pinkie. “After school we’re all going to Sugarcube Corner. I’ll have everything ready by then.”
With a happy squeal she cartwheeled away, cheering all the while.
Net and Swift just stared uneasily after her, taken aback.
“Auntie Pinkie can get pretty hyper when it comes to parties,” said Pumpkin.
“I… noticed,” said Net, giving an awkward laugh.
“You get used to it. If you’re ever in a bad mood Pinkie Pie is the best medicine.”
“Fluttershy is just as good!” Mayhem insisted. “If it wasn’t for her Masky would still be miserable. So there!”
The twins giggled. “Well, can’t argue that,” said Pound. “She’s helped us several times when we were in a bad spot.”
“Alright, everyone!” Twilight said authoritatively. “That’s enough chatting. School is about to start and I don’t want any of you to be late.”
“Right!” the twins called out, snapping to attention.
She leaned her head down toward Masky. “As for you I don’t think there’s anything I have to add. With Fluttershy’s help you resolved your issues with Pumpkin as well as your parents, so I guess I’ll just say ‘see you at the party, and welcome to Ponyville.’” She patted his head. “And behave yourself, okay?”
“Thank you,” Masky said, bowing his head.
“You’re coming, Princess?” asked Swift, looking a little anxious.
Twilight looked up, seeing the same old expression she’d gotten used to but never stopped hating. “If there’s one thing I’d like you to know about me, it’s that I’m just an ordinary pony like everyone here. I just have more responsibilities than most. Unless there's an emergency situation all I want is the same respect you’d give anyone else, and nothing more.”
“She’s right, you know,” said Masky. “Before all the trouble started Twilight was really chill. She likes the same kinds of things we like and she’s not snooty at all.”
“The kids always seem to grasp that pretty quickly. But enough about me.” She lifted the three children up in her magic and moved them forward. “Go on now. You don’t want to miss a moment of learning.”
Everyone said their goodbyes and they went inside.
“Well, we have to go work,” said Net. “See you at the party.”
With some more goodbyes everyone else headed their own way.
Masky was a ball of energy during class. Things were just going up and up and up.
At lunch Pound joined him and Pumpkin, and he showed he was serious in his forgiveness, treating him like an old friend.
After school he found his parents and Pinkie Pie waiting for them and they all went to Sugarcube Corner.
When they went inside Masky’s eyes bugged out, his mouth dropping open. When Pinkie told him she was throwing a welcome party for his family he expected just her, her friends, and the Cakes. Instead, what looked like half of Ponyville was in attendance.
Pumpkin laughed at his face. “Didn’t she tell you we’re all like a family here? When Auntie Pinkie throws a party it’s a PARRRRTAY!”
Net looked lost for words.
Swift looked around at all the welcoming faces, tears brimming in her eyes. “Y’know, we’ve been traveling around so long with only each other and our son that I’ve all but forgotten what it was like to have friends.
“If there was any town we could have settled down in, I’m glad it’s this one. I never would have expected this.”
Pinkie hugged the two of them to her. “And we love you too! Now go mingle!” She pushed them forward.
As Masky watched his parents go off and begin talking to other ponies he felt himself tearing up too.
“You alright, Masky?” Fluttershy asked as she walked up to him.
He sniffed. “I’m just… so happy. My parents told me they enjoyed traveling around. Hearing them say they’re glad they’re staying makes me glad too. I wouldn’t want to find my happiness only for them to be miserable instead.” He hugged her leg. “But now we can all be happy together. And it’s all thanks to you for listening to me and giving me advice.”
She put a leg around him. “And I’m happy for you as well that everything worked out. But don’t put yourself down. You deserve just as much credit for having the courage to speak up.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Pound said sarcastically, pulling Masky from her grip. “Sappy talk. This is your party so go have some fun, for crying out loud.”
Pumpkin rolled her eyes. “Well, my dopey brother is a little gruff, but I agree. You can cry on Fluttershy later.”
“I’m not crying!” Masky said, wiping his eyes.
“Okay,” she responded with a smirk.
Masky didn’t push the issue. He spent the next few hours talking with the other children, some of which were in his class, playing party games, drinking punch, eating snacks, dancing to music, and capped it off with a few slices from a gigantic three layer cake that everyone shared.
The party began wrapping up about eight o’clock, but they didn’t wind up leaving until around nine. At that point the only guests left were the only ones he had expected to be there in the first place.
He and his parents expressed their gratitude and said their goodbyes to everyone. By that point he was stuffed and exhausted, and he sat upon his mother’s back as they walked to their hotel.
“That was some party, huh?” asked Net.
“Our holiday parties can’t even compare," said Swift. "I thought that filly was exaggerating about Pinkie fitting the Element of Parties.”
“No one’s ever done anything like that for us before. It was so touching.”
“You can say that again.
“So how’d you like the party, Masquerade?”
He gave a mumbled answer.
Net looked upon her back. “Little guy’s all tuckered out. Probably half-asleep.”
“Can’t say I’m too far from that myself,” Swift responded. “I can’t remember the last time I danced like that.”
“It was probably at our wedding.”
“Probably…” Glancing at him she asked, “What do you think about giving up our life of travel?”
“If it was only the two of us I’d say you’re the only one I really need for a joyful life. But it’s not the two of us, and Masquerade has to come first.
“Besides, we’ve seen practically everything Equestria has to offer. Might as well let things happen for a while so the world will seem new again if we ever resume our traveling days.”
Swift gave him a kiss. “Were it just the two of us I’d agree that you’re also all I need on a personal level, but I meant what I said earlier. Ponyville is home to the Princess of Friendship for a reason. If we had to come to a stop I don’t think there would be much better than here to do so. So let’s make the most of things.”
When they entered their hotel room Net lifted Masky up in his magic and set him in his bed as Swift pulled down the covers, then pulled them up.
They each gave him a kiss on his forehead and bid him goodnight as Masky fell into peaceful slumber.