Not long after Eventide had handed Beebee over to Clypeus and Lancea, the rest of them had followed their shared son into the realms of sleep. It hadn’t been a particularly restful slumber, sadly, but he made do well enough. Now, with the faintly diluted light of the sun shining in through the overhead glass, Eventide began to re-awaken to the world around him.
Stifling a yawn, he lifted his head to see Beebee still asleep with Clypeus and Lancea on the couch across from him, curled up and held in their hooves. He smiled at the sight, his heart fluttering with adoration and satisfaction. “They’re so cute like that…”
As he thought those words, Beebee’s face twitched, and even from his place on the opposite couch, Eventide could hear his stomach rumbling with hunger. The loud, guttural roar served as the alarm for all present. Clypeus and Lancea slowly lifted their heads, blinking away the sleep in their eyes while Beebee, as was traditional, clamped stubbornly onto sleep with little more than an annoyed grumble.
Clypeus said nothing. She looked down at her son with a charmed look before leaning down to lightly nudge him with her nose, stirring him further from his rest.
“Noooo…” he mumbled drowsily, batting at her face with half-hearted energy. “I don’t wanna get up… five more mins.”
“Come on, Bee,” Eventide called over while rising from his seat. He hesitated for a second, trying to judge the right way to get down from the couch without falling flat on his face. Luckily, he managed to do so, albeit with all the grace of a drunk giraffe on stilts. Once he was steady on his hooves, he trotted over and lowered his head to Beebee’s ear. “It’s time for breakfast.”
“Mmmf!” Beebee protested before opening one eye and glaring up at his adopted father. “I’m not hungry.”
Eventide proceeded to think happy thoughts about how cute his son looked, pouting up at him like that, and how much fun it was to watch him act all defiant when sleepy. It was one of the most adorable things in all creation to him, and he made sure to think it and feel it.
Beebee’s stomach growled.
He narrowed his eyes at Eventide in severe disapproval. “...That’s cheating.”
Eventide rolled his eyes. “Yeah, well, I gotta do something to get you up on time. Now,” he sat back on his haunches and spread his forelegs out. “Get over here.”
Beebee sighed and stood up. As he did, he caught sight of Clypeus and Lancea right behind him. He smiled up at them and nodded. “Morning, mom, Lancea.”
“Uh, morning,” Clypeus greeted, looking back and forth between him and Eventide in confusion. “What… are you doing?”
Beebee grinned at her, then leaped from the couch to tackle hug Eventide in the chest. The force of the impact was enough to send the still off-balance stallion falling back to crash to the floor with a grunt of pain. That didn’t stop him from wrapping his hooves around Beebee and holding him tightly, though.
Once they were comfortable on the floor, Beebee grinned back at Clypeus. “I’m having breakfast,” he told her before opening his mouth and pulling in the love radiating off of Eventide’s person. To Eventide’s surprise, it actually became visible as it flowed down his son’s throat this time, appearing as a wispy current of pink light.
Back up on the couch, Clypeus and Lancea exchanged looks of realization before the two of them hopped down and approached. It was Lancea who spoke. “You know, you can eat things besides emotions, right?”
Beebee stopped his meal for a moment to look up at him, an eyebrow raised. “Well… I know I can eat other foods, but none of them really do anything to make me less hungry.”
“Alright. So, do you remember the metamorphosis Lancea mentioned yesterday?” Clypeus asked while sitting down next to them and putting her hoof on Beebee’s back.
He frowned for a second, then nodded. “Er, yeah… you went from being a legion of slaves to individuals, he said.”
“Because we found a better way to feed,” Clypeus explained, her expression slowly morphing into a smile. “You’re always hungry, aren’t you?”
Beebee tilted his head in thought, his expression morphing. “Well… yeah, I guess. There’s always a little pain in my stomach. I just thought that was normal, though, and it’s usually only bad in the mornings when I wake up. Most of the time, I can ignore it because it’s not all that bad. Why?”
Lancea sat down on the other side of Eventide and put a hoof on his own belly. “Well… when we underwent the metamorphosis, we stopped being hungry all the time. We still have to eat, but we don’t have to rely on emotions to do it, and we can actually be full.”
Eventide slowly sat up, looking between the two in curiosity. “So… are you saying Beebee can undergo this ‘metamorphosis’ thing?” he asked, his eyes finally settling on his son.
Clypeus nodded. “Yes. In fact, he’d be expected to do so at the hive,” she replied before affixing Beebee with a more pointed look. “Um… Beebee? Do you mind if I walk you through how to do it?”
Beebee hesitated for a second, his wings twitching on his back. He glanced up at Eventide, looking deep into his eyes. “...Uh… can I?”
Eventide looked between the three changelings before him for a second. His eyes eventually settled on Clypeus, a hard look on his face. “Does it hurt?”
She immediately shook her head. “Oh, no! It’s one of the best things I’ve ever felt! Every changeling who went through it agrees on that, at least. It’s like…” she looked down, holding a hoof up to her chest. “...It’s like a piece of ourselves that was always missing is finally returned. A piece you don’t know how you lived without for so long. It feels like becoming whole after a lifetime of missing something important.”
“It’s a little different for every changeling,” Lancea added, though he was nodding in agreement. “But she isn’t wrong. For all of us, it was a very fulfilling experience. The only changeling I can think of who thought low of it is Pharynx, but I get the feeling he just doesn’t want to admit that it felt good.”
Well, those were pretty solid testimonies if Eventide ever heard them. After a few seconds of contemplation, he nudged Beebee off of him, sat up, and scooted back a few feet. “Alright. If Beebee’s comfortable with it, then go for it.”
“I’m okay with this,” Beebee acknowledged with a sharp nod. “Will I get all colorful like you guys?”
Clypeus, with a tender smile, lowered herself onto her belly so she was laying directly in front of Beebee. “You can look however you want. Most of us have a preferred appearance, but it’s hardly set in stone…”
Beebee relaxed a little at that assurance. He smiled and nodded. “Okay, I think I’m ready. What do I need to do?”
“Close your eyes.”
He did as instructed.
“I want you to reach for your magic. You know how to do that, right?”
“Uh huh. It looks and feels like green fire in my head and chest,” Beebee answered before his horn lit up with green light, gently humming in the air.
Clypeus looked at the horn for a second, looking to be remembering something. If Eventide had to guess, she was recalling when her own magic looked like that. After a second, she focused back on his face. “Okay… now, I want you to reach past it, as deep into your being as you can. If you do it right, you should find a ball of pink light.”
Beebee’s face twitched a few times with strain, a bead of sweat forming on his forehead. “I… I think I see it…” he said, his teeth clenched with strain at the unfamiliar effort. The green light on his horn began to flicker, a few stray embers of pink flying out of it to drift freely through the air.
“That is the love you have inside,” Lancea picked up in a whisper. “All of the love you’ve absorbed without thinking about it, that you haven’t digested. Everything you’ve stored away for a rainy day.”
“Now, I want you to think… who do you love the most?” Clypeus asked, her gaze briefly shooting over to look at Eventide.
“M-my dad…” Beebee answered, his face slowly starting to relax. He must have been getting the hang of whatever it was he was doing, Eventide mused.
“Okay, think about him as hard as you can. Everything about him you love and cherish, and everyone else you’ve ever loved or cared about. And while you’re doing that, I want you to let that love out, like you would with the fire if you were casting a spell.”
Beebee’s face scrunched up with strain, the glow on his horn growing brighter. And, to Eventide’s shock, a pink light began to beat in his chest, right where his heart was, pulsing in tandem with his heartbeat. He let out a few hisses of pain through his clenched teeth, a few more beads of sweat forming on his head. “...I… I’m not sure…”
“It’s okay,” Lancea assured him with an affectionate nuzzle to the back of the head. “It’s natural to feel anxious about letting it out. But trust me… sharing love is so much better than taking and keeping it for yourself.”
“And how will Eventide know you really love him,” Clypeus pressed on, briefly glancing his way again. “If he can’t see it for himself like we can?”
That seemed to be what Beebee needed to hear. He visibly relaxed and took a deep breath. Suddenly, his eyes snapped open, and the pink glow in his chest grew into a blinding light that forced Eventide to squint. An intense gust of wind was kicked up from the surge of power, making his mane and tail billow and dance around behind him.
Then, as suddenly as the light came, it disappeared. Eventide opened his eyes all the way to see that where Beebee had once stood, there was now a cocoon of a strange, glowing blue material. It hovered in mid-air for several seconds, pulsing and humming softly with magic. It then drifted down for the floor. The second it made contact with the smooth crystal surface, the air was filled with a deafening crack and another flash of light.
Finally, the light faded away entirely, and Eventide could see again. He blinked a few times to clear away the spots, then leaned forward to get a better view. His eyes widened at what he saw.
Beebee didn’t look all that different from how he had before. His chitin was the same dark shade of gray, almost black that it always was, and his eyes were still blue, having only gotten a shade or two darker. In contrast with this, though, his fin and tail had both become a similar shade of blue to match his eyes, as had his shell. On his chest, about where it would be on his border collie body, was a triangle of chitin colored a contrasting shade of white, pointing downwards.
His fangs were gone, now, and, of course, the holes in his forelegs had completely filled in. He blinked a few times and looked down at himself to assess the changes. His eyes flew wide, and his jaw dropped open when he found a distinct lack of holes tunneling through his legs. His hind legs gave out, sending him falling to his haunches while his forehooves began to explore his new form.
Lancea raised an eyebrow. “Huh… you know, I thought you’d get a few more colors than that…” he mused thoughtfully.
Beebee paused in his exploration to look back up at him. “Why would I? I liked the way I looked already,” he replied before turning his eyes back to Clypeus. “Did… did I do it right?”
She stared at him, wide-eyed. She clamped her own hanging jaw shut, a warm smile spreading on her face. “Yes… you did it perfectly… you look so handsome…”
He beamed at the praise, his shell suddenly springing open to let his new, sky-blue wings buzz in excitement. They were free of the rips and tatters that Eventide was used to, although there was still the horizontal crease running through one of them.
In fact, now that he thought about it, Beebee’s scars were all still present. The path of lighter chitin along his side and the crease in his wing. Not to mention he was still skinny, even if that issue had become lessened over the years of hiking up the Everfree trail.
And then Beebee turned to face him. They locked gazes, and the room fell silent. Beebee slowly put his wings away under their new shell before taking a few hesitant steps forward. “Um… dad? What do you think?” he asked, sounding timid.
Eventide blinked. “...Well, I think you look good. I’m more worried about how you feel,” he replied without even missing a beat.
“I feel good, actually. Mom wasn’t wrong, that was…” he said, his voice a little distant. After a second or two, he suddenly leaped up into the air, doing a backflip out of sheer invigoration. “It was so exciting! I’ve never felt like that before! And now I can actually feel full?”
Lancea nodded. “Totally! I’m sure Princess Twilight has some food lying around for us, somewhere!”
Eventide smiled fondly at that idea, unsteadily rising back to his hooves. “Hey, I’m down for some breakfast. Do you think she has ham and eggs?”
Clypeus and Lancea suddenly both shot him very bewildered looks.
He frowned. “What? I’m hungry.”
Clypeus cleared her throat uncomfortably. “Well, yes, but… um… you’re a pony,” she pointed out sheepishly, as if unsure how to break some piece of horrifying news.
Eventide tilted his head. “Well… for the moment, yeah. I don’t exactly like it, I want my hands back. Why do you mention it?”
“Er… ponies don’t eat meat,” Lancea furthered, rubbing the back of his head. “Not from what I’ve heard, anyway.”
Eventide blinked, blushed, and looked away. “Oh. Uh… right.”
Beebee giggled at his expense before flying over and settling down on his back. Once he was comfy, he patted him on the back of the head a few times. “Don’t worry, dad. We’re supposed to go home tomorrow, right? You can have your hands and ham back, then.”
Clypeus and Lancea chuckled to themselves, then joined him. Together, the family set off from the lounge in search of food.