Chapter 21: Bridging A Gap
"Push! Push! Push!"
"I'm trying you knob, it don't exactly fit in the door!"
At their new home, Mayfield and Jackson were busy trying to fit the last piece of furniture they needed into the house. It was a large couch that woudn't seem to fit in the doorframe no matter which way the turned it. Currently, it was now stuck half way through the portal, its edges wedged tightly in the frame.
Down at the bottom of the steps, Quick Fix was resting on her haunches, patiently chomping on an apple, "Y'know, I could get that through there with a quick alteration spell."
Jackson grunted from behind the couch, straining to pull it through, "No, it's alright, we got it. You've given enough help getting all this stuff over here fast as you did."
Quick Fix just rolled her eyes and returned to her snack. Soon, Mayfield had had enough of the frustration this lone piece of wood and fabric was causing him and stepped backwards down the stoop, gauging the distance until he felt he was far enough away. "Hey, Topher, what's going on out there, where'd you go?" Jackson said.
"Might wanna get back, mate."
"Why?" Jackson demanded, "what are you gonna do?"
"Rugby tackle it." Mayfield stated simply.
"Wait, hold on man, I don't wanna damage th—"
"Too late, I'm runnin'!"
Jackson jumped back from his end of the couch and flattened himself against the wall by the door. Just in time, too, as the couch suddenly shot forward through the frame, one of its legs snapping on the floor while the other end flipped up to put a nicely sized dent in the wall before smashing back down to the deck.
Mayfield was not too far behind, flying through the door face first and flopping onto the floor. Groggily he got up, like he'd just taken a nap and brushed himself off. "What's the matter," Jackson teased, "You gettin' old?"
"I've still got more hair on my bellend than you've on your head." Mayfield retorted.
"Hey, I'm not old yet, I shave my head." Jackson leaned out the door and turned his head to Quick Fix, "Hey Q, uh, think you could help us out? We kind of. . . broke it."
Quick Fix sighed, "All right, but you owe me one." She said, getting up and walking to the door.
"That's fine. Apparently, we're having a party soon, you wanna join us?" He offered.
"What kind of party?"
"Housewarming I guess. Pinkie's throwing it."
"A Pinkie Party!?" She said ecstatically. "Definitely count me in. When is it?"
Jackson looked at his watch, "Probably about a half hour."
"Better get fixin' then." She said. The unicorn trotted into the living room and began her work, magically materializing the tools with her energy.
Relieved that his work was finally done, Jackson trudged upstairs to his room. It was all nicely set up now, with a twin sized bed, a small desk for writing an even a dresser for his clothes. His bathroom was stocked with all the toiletries he needed. It was a a Spartan way to live, but he was content with it.
Moving quickly, he took a short shower and dressed in fresh clothes, mentally preparing himself for whatever was coming his way for the night. Downstairs, Mayfield helped Quick Fix finish up her repairs before manhandling the couch into a suitable position. As Jackson came back down from his ablutions, he was tossed a cold beer and invited to take a load off in their new living space. He sat on the end of the couch with Mayfield taking the other. Between them, Quick Fix lounged with her own drink.
"So, what is it we can expect from a full fledged Pinkie Party?" Mayfield asked the mare next to him.
Quick Fix finished taking a sip from her beverage, "Well, if I can remember the last one, which is a little blurry, you're both gonna be in for a rough, but fun night."
As if to grant her prediction true, there was a hard and impatient knock on the door. "I got it!" Mayfield called, hopping to his feet and walking to the door. He swung it open to reveal a somewhat puzzling sight. Instead of the bouncing baker he was expecting, there was instead magenta sunglassed unicorn with electrically tinged blue hair. Beside her was a considerably large stack of electronic equipment. "Uh, can I help you?"
"This is the place, right?" She said, sticking her head in and looking around the room. "Pinkie called me in as a favor, said I could set up anywhere."
"Yeah, I'm guessing you're here for the party then."
"Brother, I am the party!" She stuck out a hoof, "Vinyl Scratch, I'll be providing the beats."
Mayfield shook it, "Yeah, sure. There's some room here in the parlor I think."
"Cool." Was her short reply.
Mayfield had to step back as she levitated all her equipment and pushed her way inside, quickly constructing a formidable set up of large double stacked speakers hooked up to a couple of subwoofers and a expensive duo of turntables. He barely had time to turn around to shut the door when another pony showed up, this one in a working uniform, wheeling up a keg.
"Delivery for a. . . Miss Pie?" He spoke, reading off of a clipboard.
"I think that's for us. . ." Mayfield said quizzically.
The stallion shoved the clipboard into his face along with a pen. Mayfield quickly scribbled his signature, "Just one keg? Pretty damp party." He remarked.
"The rest's by the road." The delivery stallion said matter-of-factly as he walked off, obviously glad to be done with this particular job. Mayfield looked past him and saw that, indeed, there was a whole other pile of about seven other kegs stacked by the road.
"Bloody hell, that's a lot of booze!"
"What's up?" Jackson called from the couch.
Mayfield looked back over his shoulder, "Looks like we're gonna get absolutely pissed tonight, mate!"
With Quick Fix's continued help, they moved the kegs into the house, though with so many of them, they had to place some out in the back yard and even a couple in the basement. During that time, even more guests began to arrive, only a few; like Lily, wore familiar faces. The rest were unknown to him, but he found some odd; like a stallion in a black Stetson and cream colored vest, who wore shades despite the late time of day. To Jackson's surprise, even some of Pinkie's own friends showed up; including Applejack, Rarity and Twilight.
To his discomfort, Rainbow Dash even came, followed by a shy looking mare with a buttery yellow coat and shiny pink hair that obscured part of her face. With a glimmer of hope, he half expected Kaughn to come striding through the door after, but unfortunately, that was not the case. It seemed his old friend and brother had consigned himself to the peaceful depths of his seclusion.
Mayfield relegated himself to the kitchen, trying to whip up as much snacks as he could for the party goers. Eventually, Pinkie showed up, her sides laden with all sorts of edibles and bulging packages stuffed in big brown bags. "About time you showed up." Mayfield told her as he set out a bowl of chips. "You invite all these ponies and then show up late to the party you're throwing?"
Pinkie started un packing her bags on the small counter, placing more snacks and even some liquor out to serve, "What, I thought you liked parties like this. Besides, it was your idea."
"It was not! That was base trickery. Pink, I like your style, but just not when it's on me."
"I did pay for the kegs you know." She said defensively, though not unkindly.
Mayfield thought for a moment, his mind processing the information. Then, "Ok, but next time just warn me."
"That's the spirit!"
Back in the living room, Jackson was being assaulted with questions from various townsponies he had had little interaction with before. It seemed that he and Mayfield were often the subject of gossip and other idle chatter within Ponyville. As inconspicuously as he could, he searched for an escape from the unwanted attention and loud electronic music. He did not find one on his own, but escape still came in the form of the vest wearing stallion he had seen earlier.
"Hey hey! There y' are buddy!" The brown coated stallion said excitedly, slapping Jackson on the back with a hoof. "I need to talk to you 'bout that thing we discussed earlier—sorry folks, I need ta borrow him for a minute—how 'bout we step outside?"
Suspicious of this random newcomer, but desperate for a break, Jackson followed as the earth stallion led him out into the back yard. Once they were outside, the noise was noticeably reduced and the only crowd was that of a few partiers clustered around one of the kegs. The two walked over to a small plastic table out there and sat down.
"Listen," Jackson said, "I don't know who you are, but thanks. It was gettin' a little stuffy in there."
"Oh, no worries." The stallion replied in a thick drawl. "Hey, you wanna drink? Looks like y' could use one."
Jackson watched the stallion closely as he want over to the keg and filled two cups with frothy beer before returning and sliding one over to him. Jackson picked up the drink and sniffed it before tentatively giving it a taste. It seemed all right.
"Names Blackjack." The stallion said as he sat back down.
"Darius." Jackson leaned forward and extended a hand and shook with Blackjack.
"Nice ta meet ya, you live around here?"
"Yeah, this is my house." Jackson replied.
"Not too shabby. Nice lil' burrow ya got fer yerself here. Cost much?" Blackjack inquired.
"No, my friend took care of that, I guess."
"The other human. Why, you wanna meet him or something?" Jackson asked suspiciously. This guy was starting to ask way too many questions.
"Oh, no, naw, just curious is all. Not many of yer folk around, well, as far as I know." Blackjack chuckled.
"Sure. Well, the last time I checked, we were the only two." Jackson stated solidly.
"Tsk, tsk, shame there ain't no more of ya. You sure you the only fellers 'round here like yerselves?"
Jackson stood up, "Yeah, listen, thanks for the extract and the drink, but I gotta go."
"Oh, sure, sure."
Jackson left the stallion outside and headed back in to find Mayfield. The party was getting a little wild, a few of the guests were already drunk and the night was still in its infancy. He wanted to make sure his friend was doing ok as well. Fortunately, he found the Englishman sitting by the couch, chatting up Quick Fix and Lily, ". . .really, you should re-think the whole thing. I noticed that you Equestrians don't really have any ground vehicles. We got these things called 'cars' and they're bloody useful. Wouldn't even be all that hard to make, I can construct a gear box and all you'd need to do is get your hands, er—hooves, on one o' them engines your airships use."
"Hm, it sounds enticing. I know of a few that already have such things, but they can only travel on roads and even then only barely. Oh, hey Jackson, what's up?"
"Hey. You guys doing all right?" He asked.
"Yeah, why?" Replied Mayfield.
"Thought maybe some of the guests here might be bothering you. And there's this one that's been asking weird questions."
"No worries, mate. Just tell 'em to sod off is all. It's what I do."
Jackson was glad to see that nothing was amiss with his friend, but thoughts of that one stallion kept buzzing in his mind, he didn't trust the guy exactly. Resolving himself, he left to go find and confront him about the questions. Hopefully, it was just some laughable misunderstanding and they could move from there.
He made his way back through the kitchen and out the back, searching for the thick accented pony at the tables were he'd left him. Except now, he was no where to be seen. Instead, he saw the seats had been occupied by Twilight, Rainbow Dash, Applejack and that one shy looking pegasus mare he was sure he hadn't met yet.
They all glanced over at him with suspicious faces, except for Rainbow Dash who flashed him a look of contempt and the shy one who was indifferent. Surely by now, Dash had told them of recent events. Thinking his words carefully in his head, Jackson decided to mend this problem now, rather than let it fester. So he strode over, grabbing a chair as he went and sat down at the table amongst them.
"Can we help you with something?" Rainbow Dash started off immediately with an unwelcome tone.
"Look, we need to get past this thing right now." Jackson stated. "Let's talk about this."
"We know what happened." Twilight said.
"And ya best jus' leave him be, he's earned that much." The farm mare added. Dash just glared at him as if she didn't need to say anything more than what her friends had said for her. The other pegasus just sat quietly and listened.
Their blunt approach angered Jackson a little, but he calmed himself down. Choosing his words carefully, he said, "I understand where you're comin' from, I really do, but there's something you all gotta know. That man, that's my brother. If not by the blood of our veins, then by the blood we've shed together through all the bullshit we've done. Now, I'm fine with lettin' him live in his peace out there, but that doesn't mean I'm just gonna forget all that, so I'm gonna go visit and hang with him when I can. I'm ok with it, he's good with it, I'd like you all to be good with it, but really I don't give a damn." He finished, opening his arms and letting them fall onto the table.
The group fell into a painful silence. Twilight and Applejack gave him disapproving looks, Dash looked as if she was about to explode. Before any of them could respond, however, the shy pegasus spoke, "I agree with him." The other three looked at her with shock.
Dash's voice dropped to a low tone as she leaned over to her friend, "I gotta ask, Fluttershy, why? You know what'll happen if he's found."
She cleared her throat, "Well, if what this fine gentlecolt—I mean, gentle... man? I.. I guess—is all true, then it would be horrible to keep him from his brother. I know that—" she glanced around quickly to ensure nobody else was near to eavesdrop "—James doesn't really have any family. Who are we to keep him from the only family he has?" She put extremely gently.
Dash started to speak again, "But—"
"No, Fluttershy's right." Twilight interrupted with a sigh. "That would be wrong."
"Thank you!" Jackson said gratefully to the pegasus. "Fluttershy, right? I'm Darius."
"Nice to meet you, Darius." She replied coyly. "Are you really his brother?"
Jackson thought for a minute before nodding confidently. He was as much brother to him as any of his own blood brothers back home, "Yes he is. We been through a lot together."
"It's nice that he has someone," she smiled a bit more openly, "family should always stick together."
"Yeah, and as much as I'd like him to have my back again, I'll just have to settle with a visit every one in a while." He turned back to the other three mares, "So what do you think, huh? Can we start over with this? I understand you're all his friends, one of you a little more than that," he nodded towards Rainbow Dash, "so how about we be friends?" He stuck a hand out over the table.
"Fair enough," Twilight conceded, shaking his hand with her hoof.
Applejack followed after, "Shucks, guess so. Can't deny 'Shy. 'Sides, any stallion can stand up fer himself like that is worth his salt lick in my book."
Finally, it was Dash's turn. Jackson held his hand out still, his limb hovering over the table for over a minute before she finally shook it, though begrudgingly, "Fine, we'll give it a try. But you're on probation."
"That's all I ask." Jackson said with a smile.
"All right, everypony's happy over here!" Came the southern twang of Blackjack as he crashed the group.
Jackson felt his ire rise again at the stranger's intrusion. He started to say something to the stallion, but we was beat to it from an unexpected source. "Ya got a lotta gumption comin' on back here, Blackjack!" Applejack yelled.
The sunglassed and vested stallion froze suddenly, as if he sensed a predator nearby. Still, he replied, "I uh, I'm not sure I recall—"
"Really," AJ said angrily, hopping down from her seat and confronting him face to face, "you don't recall? You don't remember the job ya took on fer us, that shipment of moonshine you was supposed ta smuggle for us, screwin' 'round with my feelings and then takin' off with with everythin' and sendin' not so much as a single word back?" She ended her tirade with a jab of her hoof to his chest.
Blackjack seemed to be sweating slightly now, but he wasn't entirely at a loss for words, "Oh, uh, that's what ya mean. Well, I can tell you that my intentions were purely. . ."
"Monetarily motivated?" Applejack finished for him in a flat tone.
"Well now, I wouldn't say—"
"Hey, hey buddy." Jackson said, stopping the Stallion's speech and getting his attention. "If I were you, I'd take off. Now ain't a good time." He said in a menacing voice.
Blackjack smiled, "Or what, we gonna brawl? Don't bother me none, I like a good drunken fight, even if it's with a human."
"What about two humans?" Said a swarthy British accent from the side. Every one turned their heads to see Mayfield casually approaching, his hands comfortably resting in his pockets while he wore a cocky smile on his face.
"Don't forget about me." Dash added.
"It seems we may have stepped off on the wrong hoof here." Blackjack calmly back peddled. "I'll just hafta come on back later when y'all 've settled down." He said as he trotted away and out the yard.
The group all watched him leave and only relaxed once he was gone. Afterwards, Mayfield strode up to the table and found himself a seat, "So what're we all up t' here?"
"Nothing much," Jackson told him, "just making some friends."