Father Mare

by Spark of Inspiration

A Rough Start

"This couldn't be happening," Spitfire said for what seemed like the third time on the way to the edge of town. "There's no way this could have-"

"I don't like it any more than you," Soarin interjected, cutting her off from the rant he knew was coming. "But do you want everypony in Canterlot to know?"

"But what about you? For all I know, you may not be able to perform until this is over."

Though that point had crossed his mind multiple times before, Soarin had to be strong for her to keep her mind off their strange situation. "You can work without me there; you're their captain after all."

Spitfire stormed in front of her second-in-command and stopped directly in his path, easily frightening him into listening. "Soarin, we have four shows coming up in the next few months, and if you can't be in them, I'll have to replace you in the lineup. What if Fleetfoot thinks I'm replacing you for good?"

However, the only thought passing through Soarin's mind at that point was how close they were to the stadium, and how to distract her from the argument he knew he couldn't beat.

"Look, can we just talk about this later? We really should get to practice..."

"Fine," Spitfire agreed with a humph, fluffing out her wings for their flight the rest of the way to the track. "But we'll talk about this afterwards. We have a lot to discuss."

Soarin sighed in relief as Spitfire turned back to the stadium and launched herself up into the air, furiously flapping her wings as fast as she could. While their conversation later would probably turn into a massive argument, he had managed to dodge a major bullet by keeping it out of the streets, not to mention the public eye. If fans had seen them yelling at each other, who could have guessed what they would assume.

But then he came to the second metaphorical wall facing him after the delivery of the news. As much as he didn't want to face the rest of the rookies, practice called. While he didn't have anypony asking questions, Soarin took a moment to steel his will before taking off. He'd need every ounce of willpower he had to resist revealing anything to his future teammates, assuming that Spitfire hadn't already told them.

As short as Soarin knew the flight to the training grounds was, everything seemed to be moving in slow motion. What should have taken minutes at the most turned into a journey of hours, punctuated by more anxiety building up every second, making his imagination run wild with increasingly over-dramatic images of the rookies' response to the news.

Aileron and Cross would hopefully stay quiet, but Vector would probably add some snide comment. No, he wouldn't just comment, he'd probably shun him afterwards as well.

Then Updraft would probably go with whatever Vector did, which meant he would probably make a cruel joke about the irony of the situation. And since there was no telling what Vane would do, there were so many things that could happen that Soarin simply chose to ignore the nagging thoughts lingering at the back of his mind.

"Okay, calm down," he told himself. "You can do this..."

Finally, after what seemed like forever, Soarin reached the entrance to the stadium where Spitfire and Aileron were waiting for him. "Aileron here is the only one I trust to keep a secret," Spitfire explained. "The rest think you're just magic resistant."

"So he's not just magic resistant?"

Soarin couldn't help but shake his head at how gullible Aileron could be sometimes. "No, it's worse than that."

"How much worse... ma'am?"

Soarin waited for Spitfire to go back to practice to tell Aileron anything. "First of all, it's still 'sir'," Soarin reprimanded, "And second, if the doctor's right, I'm pregnant."

When Aileron's lower jaw almost dropped to the floor, Soarin began to wonder if that was how he looked when he had received the news. "Yeah, that's pretty much it."

"Sir, how could that be? The Captain only told us one night."

"Well, I'll be honest here... I may or may not be in a relationship with her now, and may or may not have begged for extra nights together."

Aileron apparently pictured the latter part of his confession, because he exclaimed, "Ugh, too much!"

"That's nowhere close to too much," Soarin teased, taking a chance to lighten the situation before anything got too heavy. "I could always tell you about-"

"Sir, I already pictured something five times worse than anything you could tell me. Please stop."

At that remark, Soarin's curiosity peaked. "What did you see anyway?"

The blush that appeared on Aileron's cheeks seemed to give away enough, but Soarin still wanted more details: just not the sensual ones. "Well, sir... I really don't feel like sharing it."

"Oh really? What's so bad about what you did with Cross, eh?"

"I'd rather not say."

"Fine," Soarin coaxed, using his most feminine voice possible. "Be that way. I just want to know what you were thinking..." Just to layer on extra pressure, he added a sultry look at the end, with a few eyelash flickers to smother Aileron with feminine pressure.

"Sir, please stop!"

"Well, what were you thinking about?"

As if she'd planned it, Spitfire reappeared and ordered, "You two, get into formation. They've been flying with openings long enough."

The two of them gave a quick salute and flew over to the track, where they waited until the formation came around to their section. As the rest of the team passed, they wove themselves in seamlessly and switched to linear form.

Spitfire pulled out a megaphone and announced, "Alright, we're starting off with buffalo laps today."

A collective groan was heard from the back of the formation, as was typical of them when the team did that exercise. On Spitfire's whistle, Vector moved over to the side and shot forward, taking over the lead before calling out 'clear'. Thunder was next, followed by Updraft and Cross. After Aileron went, Soarin found himself at the back, and saw that he was coming up to one of the many curves in the track they were following.

By the time he called back to the end of the line, Soarin had already slid to the side and was moving forward. Using the inside lane of the first turn they were going into, he launched himself forward with such force that he had to adjust so as not to run into Cross. He then powered through the rest of the outside lane on the next turn and slid in front with barely any room to spare, two seconds later than his average time and out of breath.


"Come on, work those feathers! Only two more sets to go!"

When Spitfire had switched them from flight training to lifting, Soarin had almost been exceedingly happy. Then he'd realized just how tired his wings were from all the work he'd done so far during the day's practice.

Granted, he'd still finished before most of the new recruits, but that meant Spitfire had some alone time with him.

"Look," she said, making Soarin focus on what she was saying, "I don't want to do this to you. You're probably one of the better fliers we have, and I know for a fact that at least two other members want your position."

"So just give it to them. All you have to do is remind them that I'm not out forever."

"What if they ignore that part?"

"You worry too much." At this point, Soarin couldn't take his captain's concerns anymore. "I'll still attend practices, and I'm going back on the team after this is over."

"Soarin, you're forgetting the biggest part of this. It's not just another injury you can brush off once it's healed; we'll have a foal to take care of."

Now that it had been said out loud, the idea of raising a foal smacked Soarin right in the face. "I..."

"Somepony will need to be there to raise it, and I have to lead the team. By default, you'll be taking care of it."

"And I assume you'll be leading the team because you're the public face, right?" Soarin accused, having lost control of his emotions mere seconds before. "I won't be the only one taking care of it. A foal needs a mother and a father, and I'd rather leave if I'll raising our child on my own."

At that remark, Cross Current - who had managed to remain unseen as she gathered for the post-practice review - gave a surprised gasp. Soarin and Spitfire rounded on her at almost the same time and shushed her before she could say anything else. "You didn't hear anything," Spitfire hissed, "Are we clear?"

"Yes, sir," she answered in a panic, going rigid midway through her salute.

Soarin nudged Spitfire away from Cross and reminded her, "We're only doing the good pony-bad pony thing the first few days."

"I know," she whimpered as her head drooped, "I just... I don't want everypony knowing until I've adjusted to it."

"Neither do I, but that's no reason to treat one of our best recruits that way."

"Alright, I guess you're right. But if she tells anypony, I reserve the right to punish her."

Soarin shook his head in defeat and agreed to the deal, knowing that Spitfire would push until he did. Unfortunately, it wouldn't bode well for Cross if she decided to tell any of the others, but that was her own fault if she wasn't going to obey the captain's orders; luckily, from what he could see, it appeared she was keeping up her end of the command. Then, as if to make things better for her, she would most likely be spending the night with Aileron, who already knew and had been sworn to silence.

If there was a coincidence better than that, nopony had found it yet.

He'd also have to keep an eye on her to make sure she didn't tell anypony else. But that would be easy, considering he could still use the same shower room as her because of his 'condition'. Everything seemed to be falling into place before him.

Spitfire was kind enough to make the review a quick one while managing to point out that Vane had come up short on her lifting, and that Updraft had lost speed on formation training. After a team huddle, everypony headed for the showers, giving Soarin his ideal chance to keep tabs on his future teammate.

"Soarin, you're coming with me," Spitfire said in her gruff-leader voice. As much as he wanted to make sure Cross Current wasn't ratting out his dirty little secret, he had to do what she wanted, especially if this was about that talk that he had organized earlier that day.

"Fine... but it's your fault if Cross spreads rumors."

"Don't even get me started on that," Spitfire told Soarin, giving him a shameful look. "Just listen to me here. I don't want to become a parent right now, but that's pretty much out of the question. I'm sure you're not comfortable with this either."

"You think?"

"Anyway," Spitfire continued, "we'll need to figure out what we can do while you're unable to perform. And don't think we're not talking about schedules for after it's here."

Soarin let out a heavy sigh as the rest of his afternoon turned into a debate with his captain over things that - at least to him - wouldn't be important for a long time. "Can we at least do this somewhere they can't hear it?" he pleaded, worried that Cross was spreading his secret at that very moment. "I really don't want anypony else to figure it out..."

"We've already delayed it enough, Soarin," Spitfire explained as she gave one of the lightest refusals she ever had. "I just can't put this off any longer. We'll need to know how things will work when we're taking care of a foal and practicing at the same time."

"Look, I'm sure the staff at the palace are planning that right now."

"I'll bet you they're not."

"You heard what the Princess said," Soarin reminded her, trying to remember how Celestia had said it, "The staff is there for us if we need anything."

"But she never said anything about after they're born."

As unwanted as that point had been, it was true. Soarin found himself lost for words after realizing that Princess Celestia hadn't said anything about taking care of the foals after everything was said and done. To be honest, he'd simply assumed that had come with it.

"I swear she-"

"Soarin, don't you get it? Either one of us is going to have to stay with it during practice, or we'll have to hire some sort of nurse or something."

"Then let's get somepony to take care of it!"

He hadn't noticed he'd been shouting before that bit had slipped out, but he immediately covered his mouth to keep himself from saying anything else just as incriminating. Both of them gave a frightened glance to their surroundings, hoping that nopony had come out of the showers early. To the relief of them both, all the recruits were still either cleaning themselves or had left beforehoof.

"That was way too close..." Spitfire mumbled, speaking what was on both of their minds at the time. "Anyway, if we do that, we'll have to find one that knows their way around extremely young foals."

"Right..." Soarin said blankly, barely following along because of the multiple thoughts flying through his mind. He had barely been able to control his emotions throughout the few discussions of the future, and he had no idea why at all. Talking about the future shouldn't have inspired feelings like that.

For a second, Soarin almost considered explaining his feelings before he was interrupted. "Soarin, are you paying attention?"

"Yeah, of course I am," he lied, putting on his best smile for added effect. "I'm fine with almost all of what you just said."

"So you're fine with using the foalsitter my family used when I was young without seeing her?"

Considering how lucky it was that his saving line had worked, Soarin replied, "Totally. Nothing wrong with any of that."

"Good," Spitfire hinted, giving Soarin a 'I-tricked-you' look and a disappointed grimace, "Because that was what I was just about to offer. How'd you read my mind like that?"

The cheerful smile that had been on his face turned into a confused frown as Soarin realized he'd been tricked by the simplest of what the Wonderbolts called 'Attention-Catchers'. "Fine, I wasn't completely paying attention. I'm just worried about Cross, okay?"

Before Spitfire could respond, Soarin also added, "But I really am fine with that."

Spitfire shook her head in discouragement and asked, "You do realize that Cross already left, right?"

In a state of worried shock, Soarin flew as fast as he could to the shower room doors. When he flung them open, he found that nopony was left, much to his chagrin.

Spitfire sneaked up behind him and continued, "She left a while ago. I'd say the only rookie left is Vector."

"Why didn't you tell me this sooner?" Soarin asked, letting his emotions take control again, causing his vocal pitch to rise. "I could have caught her and made sure she didn't say anything!"

"Soarin, you're taking this too far. It's not like she'd go blabbing to everypony on the team."

"I guess you're right," Soarin admitted, giving in to defeat. "I'll just have to trust her."

Spitfire backed away slightly and added, "By the way, you should probably shower. I probably worked you pretty hard today."

"Care to take it with me?"

With the glare Spitfire shot at him, Soarin knew he was being turned down in the worst fashion possible. "Jeez, just thought I'd offer..."