Faint Glimmer

by SoloBrony

Accepting Me

"Hey, Terrent? Did you hear that they decided to have a big Wonderbolt show for the Cambirvir concert?"

Ask her ask her ask her ask her wait, what? What the heck is a Cambirvir? Wonderbolts? Wait is this a pony thing should I know this already oh god I'm going to look so ignorant crap what do I do quick saysomethingandstopstaring!

I shook my head confidently and smoothly reached across the table, placing my hoof on Cheerilee's and meeting her eyes.

"No," I said, "but before you explain, I need to ask you something important."

Pshyeah, no, maybe in my dreams. Actually I just stuttered a bit and then shook my head. She didn't seem to mind too much, and just shrugged.

"Oh. Well, they decided to do that. Do you like the Wonderbolts?"

"Huh? Oh! Er, yes, they're very impressive! Very fearsome. Definitely wouldn't want to try fighting them, no sir."

Cheerilee just stared at me for a second, and then squinted at me.

"Terrent... do you even know who the Wonderbolts are?"

Hah! I know this! Time to show off my pony knowledge – you won't make me look stupid this time, fate!

"Yeah! They're an elite military flight team for Equestria! They wear those blue uniforms with the lightning bolts on'em."

I was smiling while I explained, but my smile got a little uneasy when Cheerilee stared at me like I'd grown a second head.

Because I didn't grow a second head this time! I'd learned long ago not to try transforming under too much pressure.

At least, I don't think I did.

I was just about to check for additional appendages when Cheerilee spoke again.

"Terrent, they're stuntponies. They do tricks."

"Oh. So... they're not military?"

"What made you think they were? Is that something you heard in the hive?"

I barely resisted the urge to hit my face with my hoof, because I didn't want Cheerilee thinking I thought she had said something stupid. No, the stupid-talk was all me, today, apparently.

You win again, fate.

"Nah, I didn't hear anything about Equestria in the hive except how feeble and full of love it was – and that was waaaaay off-base. Well, the feeble part, that is. I mean, you're saying the Wonderbolts aren't military, but I've definitely seen them doing military drills and combat practice! If even your civilians are like that..."

I suddenly realized that Cheerilee was also a pony civilian, and suddenly my suspicions that all ponies were secretly as unto demigods of destruction seemed a lot less superstitious.

I'm way too weak and skittish to be hanging around a warrior-society like this! Cheerilee probably thinks I'm a joke. Or maybe ponies don't even realize other races aren't super-powered? WHAT IF IT'S ALL BEEN A HUGE MISUNDERSTANDING

"Terrent? Did you hear me?"

I snapped back to attention and tried to suavely cover my blush and apprehension by stammering like an idiot and flailing a hoof a bit.

I keep it smooth, you see.

I finally got out 'No', and she just smiled and rolled her eyes before repeating herself.

"I asked what sort of 'combat practice' you'd seen."

"Well, the rainbow one who lives around here, I've seen her smashing rocks!"

"Well, I mean, that's just physical strength exer—"


We both just stared at each other for a few seconds. Cheerilee set one of her elbows on the table, and covered her eyes with her hoof as she rubbed her forehead.

"I... have no idea why she would be doing that, but it's not a normal part of Wonderbolt training—"

"I've also seen her dive-bomb buildings and blow them to pieces! She's like a one-pony artillery squad!"

"Listen, that's just Rainbow Dash. She's a bit, erm, intense, even by Wonderbolt standards."

"But I also saw the Wonderbolts create a huge tornado and and lay waste to a huge patch of forest one day!"

Cheerilee leaned back in her chair and snickered to herself, shaking her head slowly.

"... Would you believe me if I said that was just an accident?"

"... You ponies create natural disasters by accident?!"


"No! I mean, some of us, sometimes..."

"Wow, that must be really stressful."

She perked up at that, and nodded hurriedly.

"It really is! I mean, you never know when the next crazy magical spell or big weather mishap will happen around here."

"Dang. What sorts of disasters do earthponies cause?"

Cheerilee's pink coat turned red around the ears and face, and she stammered a bit. My mind went into red alert mode.

Quit focusing on your stupid paranoia about ponies and pay attention to what she said, me! Don't make me bust out the embarassing memories again!

So goaded on by, er, the personified voice of my own self-loathing – which I realized I should maybe try to work on not having at some point – I thought about what she'd said, and I realized where I'd gone off into my own imagination and planted my hoof in my mouth.

So I actually stuck my hoof in my mouth. Which was pretty uncomfortable, but it did the trick; Cheerilee went from an uncomfortable stammer to a confused stare.

"Terrent? What are you doing?"

I garbled a bit at her, then spat my hoof out.

"Oh, y'know. Since I was doing so well at sticking my hoof in my mouth..."

Cheerille shook her head and smiled sheepishly at me.

"No, it's alright. I think I understand why you might think we're strange, or frightening."

"No, no! I think you're awesome! I just—"

I cut myself off mid-rant and clammed up. Cheerilee just smiled lightly and took a sip of her apple cider before looking up at me again.

"Well, I'm glad to hear ponies have made such a good impression, despite the crazy—"

"Imeantyou. Not, uhhhhh... I mean, I guess Rainbow Dash is awesome, sorta, in her own crazy blowing-stuff-up way. But, I mean, that's..."

I gave in and just planted my hoof on my face. I kept it there for a few seconds, trying to solve the eternal conundrum that defined my existence.

How is it that a species that has relied on subterfuge to survive and feed on love for so long could produce someling so utterly hopeless at this stuff?

To my surprise, Cheerilee didn't say anything. I finally lowered my hoof to look at her, and saw that she was staring at me intently, but her face seemed fairly neutral. I realized she was waiting for me to explain, so I took a deep breath and tried to take it slowly.

"Sorry. I, uh... I mean... what I mean is that I don't find you strange. Or, er, scary. You've been great since I got here, which is probably better than I'd do for me, if I were you. I've been, well... kind of a jerk, sometimes. I don't mean any harm, but you've probably figured out... no... you know I'm really skittish. I say stupid things without thinking, and I'm sure I've accidentally offended you, or embarassed you, or... I dunno. I'm sure I've trod on your hooves at least a couple of times. I really appreciate that you've been patient with me despite all that."

Cheerilee tapped at her chin while studying the clouds, and took another sip of her cider. She smirked and looked back at me.

"So you're saying you do find some ponies scary, then?"

"Oh, yeah. Definitely. I don't mean to, just, y'know... I guess I'm a scaredy-ling. Heh."

"But not me."


I nodded, satisfied that we had cleared the air. Then I noticed Cheerilee's smile was accompanied by a squint and a raised eyebrow, and it altogether looked a bit predatory. My mind went neatly blank.

Terrent's brain isn't available right now. Please leave a message and I'll get back to you when I'm not so horribly confused.

"Uh... Cheerilee? What is it?"

"Oh, nothing."

Cheerilee continued sipping her cider and glanced back up at the clouds, though she was still smirking.

I probably missed something, there. Oh well, I'm sure that happens a lot.

Cheerilee set her cider down again and looked over it at me.

"Sooo... Terrent, would it be too scary to accompany me to that Cambirvir concert, then?"

"Huh? OH! I, er, yes! I mean, no! Yes. I'll go. It wouldn't be too scary."



Cheerilee jerked upright at that, and blinked a couple of times.





"Oh, er, sorry! I mean what date is it taking place on? Eheh!"


Cheerilee relaxed slightly, and chuckled while rolling her eyes.

"It's in three days."

"Great! I'm looking forward to it!"

I quickly took a bite of my stew in order to occupy my mouth with something other than embarassing myself.

Smooth. I'm sure Keko-Sissil doesn't mind at all that I invoked him for my Ceremony of Names. Totally doing generations of changelings proud, here. Yep. PARAGON.

Cheerilee snickered and cradled her head in her hoof, smirking at me.

"Even though Rainbow Dash will be there? You're not worried she'll divebomb you or anything?"

"Nff, eh—"

I swallowed my stew and swore to NEVER EAT AGAIN.

"No, I don't find that, like... I mean, I used to work around changeling soldiers while they practiced. They had a dive-bomb maneuver they would practice all the time, and they'd ask me to bring back big rocks to practice on. They use a sort of energy shield to protect themselves and transfer more force into what they hit. It leaves a little crater where they hit, it was kinda cool. I guess that's why I figured Dash was a soldier."

Cheerilee nodded, her eyes becoming more intent and her smile lifting.

"Ah, right. I heard about that. Ponies said there were changelings divebombing with green energy cones around them during the invasion of Canterlot."

I grimaced and immediately leaned back slightly.

"Oh... right. I guess that would be where ponies would have seen that. I-I'm really sorry about that.

Cheerilee bit her lip slightly, and mumbled something.

"Earthpony disaster type? Romantic, obviously."

"Huh? Sorry, I didn't catch that."

"Terrent, were you part of the invasion?"

"I, uh, sort of? I'm not a soldier, and my group was supposed to relay the results of the invasion back to the hive. We were acting as messengers. I, uh... well, what I've generally told people is that I got lost in the Everfree Forest."

"Is that not true?"

"It's true, I did get lost. But what I leave out is that my group wasn't supposed to pass through the Everfree Forest at all. I... deserted. I actually ran away before the invasion got in full swing."

Cheerilee took her hoof off of the table and sat upright. Her eyes were fixated on me much more clearly, now, but I didn't let it make me clam up.

She wants to know what happened, so I'll tell her. Just gotta stay calm.

"Why? Were you scared of the ponies?"

"No... we'd been told ponies were weak. That you all wouldn't stand a chance. That's a big part of why I ran, actually. I, uh... it bothered me. I used to take care of little animals I would find, back in the hive. Mostly, they'd get lost, and wander into whatever tunnel I was working in. Sometimes... some of the changelings thought I should be taking their love, if I was going to waste my time doing that. Do my part."

"Did you?"

"Never. It struck me as bullying. I've been on the receiving end of that, I'd never inflict it on anyone else. The whole concept... it kinda makes me sick."

Cheerilee smirked at me, which took me pretty well off-guard.

Uh-oh. Did I say something stupid?

"So, Terrent. Why are you apologizing for the invasion if you didn't even take part in it?"

"Oh. I don't know. I guess I just... it's just how I feel. I feel bad about the whole thing. I feel bad I couldn't do anything to stop it. When I tried to speak out about it in the hive, I just got some angry changelings riding my thorax about 'not being supportive enough of the war effort'. The whole thing just makes me cringe. I wish it had never happened. I know it's not the sort of thing I can just say, 'sorry about that', and you can say 'oh, no problem' and it's all fine or whatever. But that's how I feel. I'm sorry to be evenly remotely attached to that mess."

Cheerilee leaned in and placed a hoof on mine, and looked straight into my eyes. I must have turned so red she thought I was shapeshifting.

Just ask her already!

"I don't scare you."


Best I could manage.

"Even though I'm a pony."

I nodded. Vocalization was out of the question.

"Well, I don't feel like you're scary either, Terrent. I don't associate you with the invasion. You don't have to apologize for what other changelings do; I'm no more worried about you doing something bad than you are about me creating a tornado. I'm sorry bringing it up hurt you, though I'm happy to know more about you. You've been really quiet, lately – thanks for opening up to me about that."

"Cheerilee, are you having a good time?"

She leaned back in surprise, and seemed to consider her response. She nodded.

"Yeah, I've been enjoying these outings. Thank you for inviting me. You've been asking that a lot, lately, though."


I ran what I had said back in my mind.

Aww, damnit! I said the wrong thing!

You would think saying the phrase 'do you want to be my special somepony' would be pretty easy. I do have working vocal chords, after all.

The problem is all the stuff attached to them.

"Ah, yeah. Sorry. That's just a nervous habit of mine, I guess. I've been running the changeling shelter, y'know? I'm really bad at picking up on cues, sometimes, and somelings will just suffer in silence. That's even the Feeder motto, or something like it. I just try to confirm how everyone is doing whenever I'm not sure."

Cheerilee smiled broadly, and nodded a couple of times

"Oh, absolutely. I do the same with my students. It's not just you; everypony – er, everyone – can miss those cues, sometimes. Some people are good at hiding how they feel – usually because they don't want to admit it to themselves, or they're trying to deny it."

Aww, that's sweet. Really applicable to me, too.

Wait, was that about me? Is there some kind of subtext here?! AM I MISSING SOME KIND OF CUE

"But... you'll tell me if something is wrong, right? If I'm bothering you?"

Cheerilee froze for a moment, and nodded slowly.

"I... Yes. I'll tell you if you bother me. So you don't need to worry over it, alright?"

"Thank you."

I relaxed a bit, and brushed some of my hair back a bit. I'd put it into a ponytail (changeling-tail?) to keep myself from constantly hiding behind it during our visit, but I still found myself messing with it whenever I was nervous. I was lost in my thoughts when Cheerilee's voice jarred me.

"What about you? How are you feeling?"

Typical pony responses: Fine, good, great, just fine, getting by. Hey, even 'happy to be here' works.

"Nervous. And happy."

I'm hopeless at this.


Cheerilee raised an eyebrow and squinted at me again, grinning. It was back to that oddly-predatory look I'd seen before. She leaned in and pressed further.

"And why's that?"

"Because I want to be your special somepony."

Cheerilee froze, and her grin went slack. She blinked a couple of times.

Then she smiled more broadly than I'd ever seen.