"What's your name?"
"Oh cool, an earth pony!"
"Are you in school?"
"Where do you live?"
"Where's your parents?"
"You don't have a cutie mark?"
"Your eyes are pretty."
"Hey, do you know Pinkie Pie?"
My neck was sore from trying to keep whichever was talking in view long enough to answer a question. The twins were circling like sharks, eager to pry whatever secrets they could from me. The golden brown colt would flap his wings and lift up a few inches every so often but that was the extent of his flight. I didn't see a twinkle from the yellow unicorn filly. I'm guessing that the prowess they showed prior was a child-like burst of energy. Something that fades in time and requires training to regain.
I can be insightful if I try, shut up!
A glance at Pinkie Pie told me she would be of absolutely no help to me, sitting there. With that dumb smile on her face. Isn't that cute, she thinks we're bonding. On the one hand - hoof, thing, whatever - I didn't want to make her sad because that would solidify my label as 'worst pony.' On the other, I really wanted to disabuse her of the notion that I was getting along here.
Self destruction was always my weakness.
"GUYS," I shouted, bringing blessed silence to the room. I noticed Pinkie's smile faltering and her hair slowly uncurling. The children looked at me with big almost scared eyes. Tears had formed in the corners and threatened to fall. With a sigh, I sealed my fate. "One question at a time, please. I can't keep up with them all."
Oh come on, I'm not THAT much of a monster! Also, crying children are always a mess.
Before any verbal assault could commence, however, a pony I never thought I'd be grateful to see popped her head into the room.
"Is everything alright in here, Pinkie?" Spring glanced suspiciously at Pinkie who shrank a bit under the gaze.
"Yup, Bruce here is just talking with the twins Ms. Meadows!" Pinkie's nod was energetic. Too energetic. Obviously suspicious. Come on, girl, you're making this hard for me.
"Yeah, they were just a bit too ... vocal. Everything is fine Ms. Meadows." I can be diplomatic! When I try. When I remember to try, anyway. After eying us both for way too long, Spring ducked back around the corner, letting both me and Pinkie breathe a sigh of relief.
"Hey Pinkie, can you, uh, converse with the twins here? I gotta go talk to Meadows for a second." Not even waiting for a response, I headed over to the archway. This was my future they were dealing with and I'd be damned if I wasn't going to have my say.
As I rounded the corner, I heard faint conversation. Talking about me behind my back. Or behind a wall, as the case may be. I couldn't hear very much, their voices were too low. I pushed open the swinging doors to catch the tail end of my Doom.
"Even if adoption isn't right for you, the fact you'll help is enough." I started in surprise. I guess it never really hit me that they thought I was a kid. I mean, I knew it conceptually but to hear that word ... it finally hit home. I really was HERE and they really were planning to stick me with some poor unsuspecting family.
Remember when I said that if I didn't watch my mouth, it would go off on its own? Yeah.
"Oh you have got to be fucking kidding me!" The two mares spun their heads to the doorway with looks of shock on their faces. They were hugging each other, sitting near the door to the common area. The kitchen was more modern than I had first guessed it would be but that wasn't the focus of my attention. Can you blame me?
"No, no, no, no!" Spring pushed herself away from Mrs. Cake - who fell gracelessly to the floor - as I backpedaled. I honestly don't remember who was saying 'no' louder, me or her. My heart was racing as fast as my legs were. I bolted through the common area past two very confused twins and a slightly less confused Pinkie Pie.
"No, no, no, no, no, no, no!" Out the door and into the street, random turn and away we go!
Ponyville is a pretty dang large town and there obviously wasn't a whole lot of that pesky 'civic planning' going on when it grew. The main streets meandered in a way that would make introducing automobiles here 'interesting' and don't get me started on the alleys. Entire neighborhoods built up around snaking and twisting mazes of alleys. And by 'alley' I mean 'path that could barely fit a single line of ponies.'
Ugh, and the smell. Ponyville was clean for a dirt-road farming community but now I know why. Alleys were where the citizens kept all those nasty odors that would look bad on the brochure. 'Come see Ponyville's famous three-mare-tall garbage pile, located behind the Quills and Sofa Shop! Just take the first alley entrance, get lost and you'll find it eventually.'
Not that great for tourism.
I found out some interesting things hiding beneath an upturned garbage pail as I waited for the shouts of Ms. Meadows to die in the distance. You can tell a lot about a civilization by the trash they toss. Old food seemed to be the primary refuse but in this particular trash can there were also broken quills, a torn saddle (WHY DO PONIES WEAR SADDLES?!), some used prophylactics, a half-burned book called 'How to Keep Your Stallion,' a broken record, a broken record, a broken rec- sorry. Anyway, electronic devices? Not a one. Very little in the way of packaging either. Unless the heap of brown and coarse papers currently trying to explore interesting new body orifices was packaging.
As Spring's voice finally died in the distance, I breathed a sigh of relief. Ok, so one crisis converted into an even bigger crisis. Yay me. Carefully, I lifted the edge of the pail ...
And there's Pinkie Pie. Of course. Smart girl not calling out my name. And she sees me.
"Bruce?" Pinkie took a cautious step towards me. Yeah, you're not fooling anyone.
"Go away." I dropped the can back on top of me with a clang. I could probably get used to the smell. She can't sit out there for hours right?
...bugger. It was getting hot under there.
"Bruce, Spring and Cup are really worried about you." Her voice was right outside the can - which, incidentally, gave her a kinda cool 'metallic' sound. I'm sure she'd appreciate that at a later date. Subjecting her to sitting in this filth pile trying to talk me out from under a garbage can probably wouldn't win me any favors though. Seeing as how we'd been sitting in silence for at least an hour by that point. I was beginning to suspect Pinkie wasn't leaving anytime soon.
"Good for them, I'm glad they've made that life choice." Ewww, one of the used 'marital aids' was leaking under me. That's lovely. Still wasn't leaving though.
"Bruce, I know that you're scared. And I know that you really don't think you need the help. But this, this is not normal." Pinkie Pie telling me something isn't normal?! Holy hells.
"Yeah, well, it's been a weird day. I didn't think such a quick transition into normalcy was quite appropriate." My stomach rumbled. Hmm, old bread. I need old bread. Preferably without 'essence of stallion' soaked into it.
"Bruce, I'm sorry."
"What?" I peeked out from under the can, my face a wonderful mixture of really grossed out and really confused. Pinkie was sitting about two steps away on an old rusted bucket, her hooves dragging in the unmentionables. Her hair was completely flat and her eyes filled with tears. Oh no! No, don't cry!
"I'm sorry about the hospital. I'm sorry that you don't like me. I'm sorry. Please, I'll leave you alone. I'll even move if that'll help, don't run away because of me." She lowered her head and I could see her shoul - withers? Withers. Her withers shaking gently.
OH GOD SHE'S CRYING!
"No! No, no, no! Pinkie, no!" Been saying that a lot recently. I scrambled out from my hiding spot to stand in front of the depressed mare. Shaking my head emphatically, I suddenly realized I had no idea what to do. So, words? Words. "Pinkie it's not you, it's me."
...am I stupid? All signs point to 'yes.'
"Huh?" Pinkie looked at me, her face confused. Using that old 'ending the relationship line' seemed to have at least stopped the tears. Her eyes were awful red though. The blue was really striking once you got over the whole 'too big for their heads' thing. Wait, not like that! NOT LIKE THAT! Uh, soldiering on.
"Pinkie, I heard 'adoption.' Adoption!" I pounded the ground with a hoof, causing just a little splatter. Looking at the bottom of my hoof with a grimace, I decided I didn't want to know what that had once been. "I know you don't believe me, I get it, but really? Adoption?! That's terrifying enough to a kid that knows it's coming but me? I'm used to paying bills, working for a living, being married and now I have to do it all over again? With some family I barely know about, much less know!"
I was sounding panicked. I was panicked. This was panic time. I looked at the dirty ground breathing hard.
"Even if I'm delusional, this is still not something I needed when I woke up today." I felt an 'arm' circle my withers but I didn't register it at first. "My life, my whole life is gone. My family, my frien - co-workers. My wife. My wife! My wife ... will I ever see her again?" I looked up at Pinkie, her eyes concerned but much less red than before. I felt something fall down my face, a drop. "It wasn't a great life Pinkie but it was mine and it was stolen from me. Why?"
There we sat, in a dirty alleyway filled with the discarded castoffs of society, a pink mare holding a shaking little blue colt.