Coffee Talk awoke to the wonderful smell of breakfast...fresh-baked bread, oatmeal and a deliciously-scented fruit compote. Cracking an eye open, she rolled over in bed…
...wait a sec…
As she completed the rollover, she saw Kingsley there, as before, holding a breakfast tray in his magic, smiling at her.
“Good...morning?” the coal grey unicorn started out cheerfully and ended up questioningly as he was stared at by the annoyed, brown mare.
She sat up while her housemate tried to decide what to do next. Coffee, in the meantime, rolled her eyes.
“All right, brain, uber, or whatever Tartarus-damned power in Equestria decided I needed a repeat hallucination. It didn’t work the first time and I’m not doing it again now!” her voice raising, ended with the reporter chucking the breakfast tray into the air with a well-placed upper kick of her back leg to its underside.
“Hey!” Its flight was punctuated by Kingsley’s involuntary yelp of surprise and reciprocal annoyance. He watched the contents fly through the air, quickly enveloping them in a field that kept them from hitting the floor.
“What’s your problem?” he not quite snapped, righting the tray. He was successful in getting the bread back onto a now upright plate, but found the oatmeal particles too far-flung and soggy to do anything with except drag a trash can over underneath them.
“Geeze, can’t a pony do something nice for somepony, especially after what we’ve been through?” Somehow he saved the fruit compote, positioning the jar under it, moving that particular mess away from the oatmeal and releasing that part of the field. Splitting the field in two at that point, the saved compote and bread he set on the dresser and shot Coffee an acid look as he let the oatmeal land in the can. Whether it was out of spite or bad timing, some of the oatmeal landed in Coffee’s hair and on her cheek.
“Fine. I’m going back to bed,” he added sourly, turning to leave. Refrains of, “never should have got up in the first place,” drifted down the hallway as he disappeared.
“Fine!” she yelled. “Damn hallucination.” Her hoof scooped the dream-created oatmeal off her cheek and absently put it in her mouth as she heard Kingsley’s door close and the bed creak as he flopped back into it.
The oatmeal tasted pretty good for not being real.
Flopping onto her back as well, the mare waited to wake up, staring at the ceiling. Her stomach growled in protest at not getting the rest of the now-deceased breakfast.
At some point Coffee opened her eyes. “Knew it was a dream,” she grumbled, getting out of bed - and slipping on something. She looked down, eyeing remains of oatmeal on the floor. Using the bed as leverage to get back on her hooves, her head snapped over to the dresser and found the fruit and bread were still there. “Oh...crapbaskets!”
Coffee took the time to shower and put on a shirt before she peeked into the kitchen where she saw a newspaper floating in the air, obscuring Kingsley from view. Embarrassed, she tried to tiptoe over to the sink to set the empty bread plate down.
“Ate if after all?” the stallion said, distracted by some news article he was reading in the Daily Yakut Update.
The mare poured herself some coffee. “Uh, yeah. Sorry about that,” sliding into a chair opposite him, she smirked. “Would you believe I had a nightmare that started the exact same way while we were in the cav - “ she paused. With the reviving hot shower and smell of coffee, it finally hit her properly where they were. “We’re home? Really home?”
The page turned, paper lowering enough she could see him now. Normal Kingsley, normal, red magical aura holding the paper and non-red eyes scanning the classifieds. “Yeah. Boy, life really doesn’t start for you before coffee in the morning.”
“Shut up,” she scowled, but only half-heartedly. “What did ponies use a thousand years ago before coffee?” she retaliated.
“A cold shower,” he replied, losing interest in the paper, though refusing to lower it since he was still slightly annoyed with her behavior. “Why’d you think Uber was angry all the time?” He found his juice and took a sip. “Thank the Gods things have changed.”
The mare looked around. “Is there any more - “
“On the window sill,” he inclined his head. “Thought you’d want some, so I kept it warm.”
She picked it up, along with the remains of the fruit spread and a new spoon and returned to her seat. She had just lifted a prepared slab of bread to her lips when she took in a breath. “Oh Tartarus! What time is it?”
“Saturday. Don’t sweat it.”
Coffee resumed breathing, relieved she wasn’t late for work. Once she’d devoured enough food to slack her hunger and wiped out her first cup of joe, she felt steady enough to ask, “I don’t remember much...how’d we get out? Did you tell them? What happened?”
The unicorn finally put the paper aside. “Geeze, when you see red, you black everything out.” He paused, thinking back. “So you cried yourself unconscious. Guess you were pretty angry and about to have a nervous breakdown - “
“I’m claustrophobic,” Coffee uttered, barely audibly, turning red.
Kingsley’s eyes widened. “Holy - why didn’t you tell Princess Luna before we agreed to help Cadence and Shining?”
“It’s not bad,” she shrugged. “At least not as bad as it used to be when I was a filly.” Coffee swirled the second cup around in its container, watching the creamer she’d added spin and slowly dissolve. “I was really okay most of the time. I guess my estrus kinda threw me outta wack. And I felt like I owed it to Luna for helping me out so much with you when you were uberized..and dead.”
Kingsley nodded, agreeing. “So, I suppose you got in touch with Luna while you were asleep...do you remember?”
Coffee shook her head. “Barely, yeah. I think I remember that, now that you mention it.”
“Once you two talked, Luna pointed out where we were to the mountain rescue team and helped them dig us out,” he finished up.
Coffee’s brown eyes lifted from her beverage, catching his gaze in hers. “Were they mad?”
“Shining was kinda shocked at first. Cadence just had that look of a deer in the headlights, but she realized yeah, they’d needed an intervention,” he told her. “Luna scolded them and told them if they ever stop communicating like that again, next time she’d teleport them into a locked room in the castle and throw away the coordinates.”
“As long as they leave me the heck out of it,” Coffee Talk agreed, nodding. “Sorry I wasn’t there for the scolding.”
Kingsley cracked a grin. “Yeah, it wasn’t equal payment to the stress and crap we had to go through putting up with Armor, but I think the lesson stuck.”
“I hope so!” his housemate agreed wholeheartedly. “At least you and I are paid up with Luna and we’ll never have to see those two again.”
“This’ll be the last place they come back to in our lifetime, I’ll bet,” the unicorn agreed, grinning wickedly.
Coffee got up and put the dishes in the sink. On her way back, she noticed Kingsley had circled something in the classifieds section. Curious, she peered closer at it. “What’s that you got marked?”
“Oh, something I want to check out,” he shrugged. “There’s this game Shining Armor was telling me about while we were waiting for them to finish digging us out. Turns out there’s a local chapter here in Yakut. It sounds like fun. You’re always saying I need a hobby.”
“‘Seeking players for Ogres and Oubliettes,’” the mare read aloud. “‘Role playing fun - chapters in every city. Tournaments coming soon.’ What’s an ‘oubliette’?” Coffee asked.
Kingsley wrinkled his nose, slightly wincing. “It’s - ah - basically a hole in the ground they used to throw condemned prisoners in.”
Picking up the discomfort in his voice, she started to ask, “Ah, did you - never mind. I don’t want to know.”
“No, you don’t,” he said, relieved.
“Why would that be fun to play? Wait - role playing? Sounds like a bunch of stallion nerds hiding indoors on date night ‘cause they can’t mount - “
“I resent that remark,” he stopped her.
“Why? Just bring a date,” Coffee shrugged.
“I was thinking about it,” Kingsley admitted. “I wouldn’t know anypony there - I’d feel kinda shy about - “
“You? Shy?” the mare sputtered.
“It could happen!” he defended, standing, following her into the living room.
“I’d pay bits to see that, buddy,” laughed Coffee.
“Good ‘cause I was going to ask you if you wanted to - “
“Maybe you could introduce to me to the Ponyville chapter,” he whined mildly. “We’re going next month to see - “
“Good luck, nerd,” she replied.
“Aw, c’mon, Coffee,” he moaned. “If you play, I’ll let you chain me up...let me rephrase that...” his voice drifted outside the living room window, lost to the clip-clop of traffic down the little dirt road leading out of the suburbs and down into the busy downtown streets of Yakut Valley.