The Demon's Angel

by Radiant Dawn

Chapter 19: Forty-Eight Hours

Chapter 19: Forty-Eight Hours

As the sun crested the horizon, I saw its first light and smiled as Dashie’s mane seemed to glow in the rays, making her more beautiful than normal (if that’s even possible). She shifted around on my chest as I ran my claws through her mane, and Scootaloo snuggled up closer to my left side. It was times like this that I was reminded of just how blessed I was to have them both in my life, along with my other friends. It is truly sad to think that so many go through life, struggling to find even one pony that truly cared for them. I however, had at least six...and two of them were royalty. I was never one to brag, but it felt nice to be loved by so many, simply for being me.

Last night, the three of us had decided to sleep outside for one of the last warm days of the year, as Fall was nearly over, which meant that winter would arrive within the week, and I would orchestrate the first snow two weeks after that. With all that in mind, I had remodeled my house a bit, using Dashie’s advice to use loose, puffy cloud fibers along the inside of the walls to insulate my home for winter.

By what Twilight told me about dragons, my kind were warm-blooded, but tended to have a lower tolerance for the cold than ponies did, what with dragons having no fur. In short, this meant that I was going to be spending a lot of time indoors during the winter season, save for a few missions that Celestia would give me here and there. Luckily, Fluttershy had invited me to spend time at her home whenever I wished, including Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo. This meant that so long as I could help her with gathering wood throughout the winter, I would always have a place to keep warm and stay out of the cold.

What a sweet, thoughtful mare she was.

My thoughts on the coming season were momentarily broken when Scootaloo mumbled in her sleep and curled herself into a little ball, nuzzling my side a bit. I used the thumb of my free hand to softly rub her side, underneath her wings, and the young pegasus giggled very softly in her sleep as she leaned into the caresses. As I held the two pegasi against my body, I felt happier than I ever had before, perfectly content to lay there all morning.

My body had other plans, however.

My stomach growled, loudly, which woke the cyan mare upon my chest. Dash fluttered her eyes a few times before grinning at me and saying, “I guess it’s time to get up and eat, hmm?”

I chuckled softly and nodded. “Yeah. Scoots has school in a few hours, so she needs to get up and going too. You go ahead and get yourself cleaned up for work...I’ll get the filly ready and slap something together for breakfast.”

Dash smirked as she swished her tail in my face and walked away, leaving me to get a prepubescent filly up and running, and while I could not remember my time as a father, I somehow knew that this was not going to be easy.

And so I did the first thing that came to mind...I tickled her.

The orange filly’s eyes shot open as my fingers danced over her belly and sides, and she giggled uncontrollably, squirming and flailing. “K-Ko-ho-hoa! S-s-s-sto-hop i-it!”

“Why? You’re laughing, so you must love it!” I replied with a grin as I continued tickling her. After a few more seconds, I released her and sat back with a smirk. “So, are you awake now?”

The young filly shoved me with a pout. “Meanie.”

I stroked her mane softly and stated, “If you get cleaned up quickly, I’ll make you blueberry muffins for breakfast.”

Scootaloo’s eyes shot open again in excitement as she smiled and dashed away, leaving me sitting comfortably on the plush clouds that were my “porch”. I sat for a few more minutes with a smile on my face before heading inside.

After feeding the three of us and giving Scoots a lift to school (she basically became a celebrity at her school, what with riding in on the back of a dragon), I waved goodbye to Dash as she headed to Cloudsdale. This left me with not a whole lot to do in the meantime for the day, as Lil was going to be busy with royal stuff, Diz would be sleeping, and I didn’t have any active missions at the time. And so, I decided to take a walk around town to see if I could find something to do.

Thankfully, I was well-known in town by now, which meant that the ponies of Ponyville no longer feared me, and many were actually very friendly. It was common knowledge that both of the princesses trust in me was on par with that of Twilight, so my position in the community was rather secure.

I just had to make sure I didn’t do anything stupid.

As I came upon my first destination, I smiled at the familiar sight of the orange mare working outside diligently, preparing her farmlands for the coming winter. Big Mac was still out of action for the time being, so without asking if it was needed, I hefted two full baskets of mixed vegetables (carrots, turnips, celery, and the like), and began carrying them to the farmhouse.

AJ caught my eye as I walked, and winked at me with a smile. “Howdy Koa! Tha’s mighty neighborly of ya ta help out.”

I shrugged. “I haven’t got anything to do today, so I figured I’d help where I was needed, and you were the first pony that came to mind.”

The earth pony chuckled and retorted, “Don’ let RD catch ya sayin’ that. She’ll get jealous.”

I rolled my eyes as I dropped the baskets next to the farmhouse and began to head back. “Everypony in town knows I’m with her, and you’re with Fluttershy. So, if she feels the need to get jealous, I’ll just make her feel stupid for feeling that way...just like she’d do to me.”

“Tough love, sugarcube.” Applejack commented.

I shrugged as I pulled two more full baskets away from the field the mare was working in, heaving my body to get them up on my shoulders before walking away. “Deep down, she knows she doesn’t have anything to worry about. She might have the Element of Loyalty, but that doesn’t mean I’m any less faithful to her. I mean, it’s stupid how many mares follow me around like lovesick fillies, but I make it quite clear to everypony where my loyalties lie. I’m in no way secretive about it, which I’m sure is an ego boost for Dash.” I dropped the two baskets next to the two previous ones I’d brought to the farmhouse, then headed back for another load. “I mean, you and Fluttershy are pretty open about your relationship, right?”

“Well y’all know mah filly, she’s a might bit shy.” AJ explained before she used her teeth and hooves to pull the vegetables from the ground.

I chuckled. “I never would have guessed.”

The farm mare rolled her eyes, but tossed the vegetables in a basket before moving on. “Y’all know what Ah mean. Anyway yeah, Ah’m pretty open about who Ah’m with. ‘Shy...not so much. She’s just...”

“Shy...I get it.” I replied with a grin. “We both know how much she cares about you’s like you two were made for each other. Both of you work hard, but are easy-going mares. Both of you hold family and friends close to your heart, and both of you can always be counted upon to be there for your friends and family when you’re needed. The only difference is that she’s meek, and you’re not. The only problem I could see cropping up would be some assertive mare or stallion hitting on her, and she’s too afraid to say anything to stop them.”

“Yeah,” AJ answered with a sigh as she wiped her brow, “we’ve already come across that once or twice.” She grunted as she pulled a particularly stubborn carrot from the ground, then tossed it into the basket behind her. “But even though ‘Shy’s quiet, Ah know she’d never hurt me that way. It ain’t her Ah worry ‘’s tha other ponies.”

I shrugged as I got on my hands and knees and began pulling out some of the vegetables and tossing them in the basket to fill it. “Well, you can’t be there all the time. Just don’t let your anger get the best of you...that’s all I can recommend.”

The mare nodded as she tossed a few more veggies into the basket. “Ah know. Ah jus’ worry about her sometimes is all. Ah mean, it’s pretty lazy ‘round this town compared ta a place like Manehattan, but it’s got shadows too. Ah jus’ worry every day that some sick pony’s gonna abduct her or somethin’.” AJ then shook her head with a snort. “Ah don’ know...maybe Ah’m jus’ bein’ silly, but it scares me.”

“I’d consider you foolish if it didn’t.” I replied solemnly as I tossed a few more turnips and carrots into the basket. “Thankfully, like you said, this town is pretty quiet in comparison to the big cities. There’s lots of young ones around, there’s plenty of nice ponies that are friendly toward everyone, and the ‘small town’ mentality holds true here. If there was something suspicious going on, the ponies that live here would be quick to expose it.”

The orange mare pulled the last few stalks of celery from the ground before tossing them in the basket and wiping the sweat off of her forehead. “Yeah. Some ponies think they’re bein’ nosy, but they’re jus’ tryin’ ta protect their own. If ya ain’t up ta no good, ya ain’t got nothin’ ta hide, right?” I was about to respond, but AJ waved me off. “Yer secret is different...ya can’t go spreadin’ that kind of thing without causin’ all kinds ‘a ruckus.”

I smiled and nodded as I lifted the last basket up onto my shoulder and followed AJ to the farmhouse, then set the basket down with the others. “Thanks AJ. I appreciate your understanding attitude.”

AJ motioned to the water spigot on the porch, which I turned on and began washing my feet, knees, and hands as she explained, “Ah mean Ah ain’t gonna lie...Ah was pretty surprised when Ah found out the truth about us all. Ah can understand why tha princesses wanted ta keep it quiet.” The farm mare then followed my actions by cleaning off her hooves of the dirt before turning the water off, allowing the muddy water to flow down the metal chute and off the porch. “We all got our secrets, Koa. Ah jus’ think we should keep ‘em to a minimum.”

I nodded as I patted my friend on the side of her neck. “I agree, AJ. Anyway, ya need any more help?”

At that moment my stomach growled fiercely, causing said mare to giggle. “Not right now, but y’all fergot ta eat a good breakfast, didn’t ya?”

I chuckled and nodded. “Yeah. I was in a hurry to get Scoots to school, so I only had time to have a muffin before we left.”

“Y’all would be a good father to a young’un, ya know that?” she replied as she led me inside.

Her comment, though meant to be a compliment, hurt a bit..and she noticed.

“Koa, what’s wrong?” the mare asked worriedly.

I sighed and lowered my head a bit in shame. “I already am a father, AJ...and I abandoned my own daughter. I was dead, but that’s no excuse...”

I felt as Applejack nudged me, causing me to open my eyes and look at her. “Do y’all even listen to yerself? How are ya supposed ta be around when ya ain’t even livin’?”

I shook my head angrily. “I don’t know...but it doesn’t make me feel any better.”

AJ placed her hoof on my leg and said, “Koa, Ah lost mah parents years ago. Both of ‘em got in a carriage accident when Ah was just a filly, and Ah had ta grow up without mah ma and pa.” Her eyes grew a bit misty as she sighed. “It’s been almost twenty years, but Ah don’t care how long they been gone...Ah’d want ‘em back if there was ever a way.” She then stood up on her hind legs and poked me in my stomach, glaring at me. “Don’ waste this chance. You be tha best darn father y’all can be, and ya take her bad feelin’s in stride. Ah know ya don’ deserve it, but Ah’m not yer daughter. Once she tuckers herself out, she’ll be ready ta love ya again. Jus’ give it time.”

I smiled warmly at her words and rubbed her ear gently, making her sigh and relax against me as I placed my other hand along the back of her head and held her against me tightly. “You’re a great friend, of the best I know of.” I then released her and took a knee, brushing a few stray strands of her blonde mane out of her eyes. “Fluttershy’s one lucky mare to have you love her.”

Applejack smiled and sniffled before leaning up and kissing my cheek, then wrapping her hooves around me in a hug. “L-let’s jus’ say we’re all lucky ta have each other as friends, and leave it at that b’fore Ah start blubberin’ like a filly.”

I wrapped my arms around the orange earth pony and hugged her tightly for a moment before releasing her and wiping her tears away with a smile. “Alright. As Dash would say, ‘It’s getting sticky with all this sap.’”

AJ chuckled and nodded. “Yeah. How ‘bout some grape juice fer helpin’ me?”

I smiled down at the mare as I stood. “You’re amazing, AJ.”

After leaving Sweet Apple Acres, I looked to the sky to notice that it was barely noon, which meant I had another hour and a half before Scootaloo got out of school, and another five after that before Dash would get off work, so I spent my time moseying around town.

Around this time of day, all of the younger colts and fillies were at the Ponyville Elementary school, while the teens were at Hurricane High School, at the foot of the mountain that housed Canterlot. This meant that the only ponies out at the time were the full-grown ponies, working and such.

By now, I had learned to ignore the interested leers from the single mares, and more recently (and disturbingly) a few stallions. A few of said ponies would try to start up small talk here and there, but once I displayed quite clearly that I wasn’t interested, they backed off.

Most of the time.

An exception would be an off-white earth pony mare by the name of Roseluck, and her two-toned magenta and pink mane and tail always bobbed playfully as she trotted around, tending to her beloved roses. If I was honest with myself (and in this situation, I really didn’t want to be), she was rather attractive. Her form was toned and athletic (which I found strange for a botanist), and her coat and mane shined in the sun and moonlight. She was kind and intelligent, but simply would not take no for an answer...which was too bad, because she would make a good friend. With that being the case, I normally avoided the side of the market she tended to set up her stand at.

As I was walking throughout the town, I didn’t watch where I was walking, and I nearly tripped over the rose-tending mare as I paid no attention to my path. While I did not fall on her, I did fall in front of her, much to my aching nose and embarrassment.

I heard giggles as a set of hooves clopped in front of me. “Oh my, Zizzanasx. Are you alright?”

I groaned and pushed myself up. “Yep, yep...peachy.” I gave a light flap of my wings and landed on my feet again, rubbing the end of my snout. “Sorry about that. I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going...I almost flattened you.”

The mare winked her green eye at me and giggled mischievously. “Well you’re welcome to ‘flatten’ me anytime, Mr. Skylord.”

There it was again...

I sighed and rolled my eyes, after many weeks of this finally just done with it. “Rose, when is this going to stop? I told you, I am with Rainbow Dash and I’m completely faithful. Nothing you do or say will ever change that.”

The mare tilted her head cutely as she asked, “Am I not beautiful enough for you or something?”

I shook my head with a growl. “No...that’s definitely not it. You have more to flaunt than half of the mares in Ponyville or Canterlot...I’m just in love with a mare already, and I will be for as long as is physically possible.” I had never spoken to her in such detail about my relationship with Dash, but I felt that perhaps more detail and explanation was what was needed to get her to back off.

Roseluck stared up at me for a few moments before smiling and closing her eyes with a sigh. “Finally...”

I quirked my eyeridge in confusion and asked, “What? What’s going on?”

The pony smiled warmly and pointed to me. “I had to be sure you were truly as loyal as you said you were, even in the face of temptation.”

I became further confused at this, and my mouth cracked open in surprise. “So this was all just an act? You’re not really trying to steal my attention?”

“Heavens no.” the mare replied with a shake of her head. She then giggled and added, “No offense dear, it is just that I am already happily taken by a stallion, and like you, I am completely faithful.”

I nodded with a grin. “That’s a lucky stallion.”

“And Rainbow Dash is a lucky mare.” Roseluck assured. “I do hope you don’t think me mean by doing what I did...I just wanted to test you is all, and you passed with flying colors. So few decent stallions are in this town, so I needed to be sure of what and who you were.”

I thought about the confession for a moment before chuckling. “You know, I should be really upset that I was just played by you for the past few weeks...but honestly, I’m humbled. I had no clue you weren’t serious, and had no idea what was going on.” I then leaned close to the mare and whispered, “You’re good...”

The mare giggled and shrugged. “Well, I did act a bit for fun during my younger years.”

I raised my eyeridge again and asked, “Younger years? You can’t be older than twenty-four.”

A loud, and yet delicate laugh answered my statement, and after a moment the mare shoved me playfully. “Is that what you think? Well in that case, I am flattered...but no, I am in the second-half of my life at forty-four.”

I stared at the mare slack-jawed for a moment before grinning. “Well whatever you’re doing, keep doing it, because it’s working.”

Roseluck smiled and nodded. “I will do so. Now if you don’t mind,” the mare then gestured to her collection of roses, “perhaps you would like to get a few roses for your special somepony?”

I chuckled and nodded. “Sounds like a good idea, Rose.” I looked over the selection and grinned. “I think I’ll take one orange and one cyan, please.”

The mare nodded before carefully snipping and wrapping the roses in paper before placing them in my waiting hand. “Very nice. Is there anything else I can get for you?”

I smiled and shook my head. “Not unless you have one that’s rainbow-patterned or something.” To my utter surprise, faster than I could blink, the mare produced such a rose from within the bush itself, each one of its petals being a band of seven colors. I gasped in shock and choked out, “H-how?”

Roseluck shook her head with a smile. “If I told you that, I could lose my business. I am the only one in Equestria who knows how to grow them, and for my livelihood, it must stay that way.”

I pulled my bit pouch out of my bag and smiled. “Well I’m alright with that. How much?”

“Twelve bits normally, but since you have surprised me with your fidelity to your mare, it’s eight bits for you.” she replied happily. I smiled and pulled a five-bit and three single-bit coins out, then placed them on the top of the stand. She quickly counted out what I had given her and then wrapped the roses up in paper and tied a red ribbon around it with a smile. “Here you go. Thank you so much, and do come again, Zizzanasx.”

I smirked as I took the roses and replied, “Call me Koa.”

I put the roses in a vase at home, and then headed to the schoolhouse to wait for Scootaloo to get out, since I had nothing better to do. After all, it was a nice breezy day, the sun was shining, and I had gotten a very good rest the night before. So, I was in a very good mood.

As I waited outside of the school, I caught sight of quite a few young fillies and colts playing outside in the recess yard behind the school, and many of them were looking at me with interest of some sort. Many of them were curious in a way that would make them want to ask me questions, a few were smiling broadly, while one familiar orange pegasus filly was smiling as if she had just gotten the best birthday present in the world.

“Koa!” shouted Scootaloo as she dashed to the fence, looking up at me with a smile. “What are you doing here?”

I shrugged. “Waiting for school to let out so you and I can go do something. It’s pretty boring today, so I’ve been just wandering around for the most part.”

“Who are you talking to, Scootaloo?” asked a melodic-sounding voice from the left side. I then watched as a pony I recognized as Cheerilee, the elementary school teacher, trotted over to her student before looking up at me with a skeptical eye. “Can I help you sir?”

I smiled and shrugged. “I’m just speaking with my friend Scootaloo here. That’s no problem, is it?”

I then watched as the young pegasus filly nudged her teacher and whispered in her ear. The schoolteacher’s eyes widened and she then smiled at me. “Oh, so you’re the dragon that Scootaloo has spoken so much about! I will be honest, for the longest time I had believed she was making it up.”

I grinned and shook my head. “Not at all. I go by a few different names around town. Strangers call me Storm Rider, acquaintances call me Zizzanasx, and friends call me Koa.”

The mare gasped as she exclaimed, “The skylord!”

I rolled my eyes and smiled. “It’s just a title, ma’am, and I don’t press it. I’m a humble draconian who just happens to control the weather...and I do it because it’s my job and I enjoy it, not because I want to be praised or anything.”

The schoolteacher smiled warmly. “Well your humility is refreshing. Are you the one who Scootaloo has been staying with?”

I nodded with a grin. “Yes ma’am. I thought it would be better if she stayed with someone who cared about her, as opposed to the orphanage. Besides, that means she gets to see Rainbow Dash almost every day, which I’m sure she loves.”

Cheerilee then approached closer to the wooden fence and eyed me suspiciously. “Forgive the nature of this question, but what is your interest in Scootaloo?”

Compared with the first time this specific issue had come up, I was very calm and composed.

“Well,” I began with a smile, “she is a dear friend of mine. When I used to live in the Whitetail Wood, Scootaloo would come and keep me company, and many times, she would spend the night with me. She was and is one of my closest friends.” I then looked the mare directly in the eyes. “That is all...nothing more, no matter what you’ve heard around town.”

The schoolteacher stood on her hind legs, with her front hooves on the fence so she could look me in the eyes easier. “Well surely you can admit it looks bad, skylord.”

I shrugged. “Ponies can think what they want. The truth doesn’t change, and the lies don’t affect me. I love Scootaloo dearly as an older brother would love his little sister...but it ends there. Scootaloo and I are not special someponies, and nor do we do anything that is reserved for special someponies doing together.”

The mare stared at me for a moment before smiling and nodding. “I’m glad the rumors were wrong. Scootaloo needs someone like you in her life to guide her as she grows.”

I chuckled as I looked at the young orange filly. “Oh trust me, she’s a lot more grown up than you give her credit for.” I then turned my gaze back to the magenta mare and smiled. “Anyhow, I’ll be waiting for Scoots when school lets out. I’ll keep from eating up any more of your time.”

The earth pony mare smiled and nodded. “Well, it was nonetheless wonderful to meet you, Zizzanasx. Farewell.”

I nodded before walking over to the schoolhouse steps and taking a seat.

I was leaning against the fence next to the front doors as I waited for the final bell to let the ponies out of school, letting an arc of electricity shoot from one hand to the other, and then back again.

Let it simply be said that I was never the most patient person.

“Getting a little bored there, Koa?” said a voice from above me.

I looked up to see Dash pushing a cloud out of the way before flying down in front of me. I just nodded with a sigh. “This is my first real day with nothing to do. I mean, I went to help out AJ, but even that didn’t last that long. Much as I never thought I’d say it, I wish there was more for me to do.”

Dash looked at the ground for a moment before nuzzling up against my thigh. “Well enjoy it. In two days, you’re going to be working for the next three weeks.”

I took a knee and embraced my mare, then pulled back and softly kissed her eyes lovingly. “And I’ll think about you and Scoots every second I’m gone.”

The rainbow-maned pony nudged me playfully as she grinned. “You big ‘ol softy.”

“A dragon that’s soft and smooshy...go figure.” I replied with a chuckle.

“Smooshy?” Dash questioned with a giggle. “What the hay kind of a word is that? It sounds like a word Pinkie would use.”

“Smooshy: adjective...something that can be smooshed or is smoosh-worthy.” came a voice from behind me, and I nearly jumped out of my scales when I turned around to see the party pony standing right behind me with a pair of reading glasses on and a book titled, “Oxhoof’s New Equestrian Dictionary”.

I raised my eyeridge at the mare and grabbed the book from her. “That can’t be a real word.” I then looked to the page it was opened to and gasped in surprise. After a few seconds of staring, I handed the book back to the pink mare and chuckled. “Well I’ll is a real word.” I shrugged as I turned back to Dashie. “I had no clue...I just kinda made it up.”

“Leave it to Pinkie to surprise you then.” she replied with a smile. We both then looked around for the pink mare to find that she had disappeared, and Dash stomped her hoof. “Ugh...I hate it when she does that.” The cyan pegasus then floated into the air in front of me. “Anyway, I gotta get back to work. I’ll see you at your place tonight, kay?”

I nodded as I cupped the pony’s face in my hand and pecked her nose. “Sure thing, Dash. We’ll meet you there.”

The speedy pegasus nuzzled my face before flying away with a strong gust of wind.

I went back to what I was doing before, playing with a tiny bolt of lightning, but a few minutes later, the bell finally rang. Within a few seconds of it doing so, a stampede of young fillies and colts burst through the front doors of the school, and immediately looked to me.

“Wow! A real dragon!” shouted a young colt, who I recognized as Pipsqueak, Luna’s young friend.

I chuckled and nodded. “Yes indeed, Pip. Luna’s told me a lot about you.”

All of the group of filles and colts gasped as I mentioned this, while the mentioned little colt was beside himself with joy. “Luna talked about me?”

I nodded with a warm smile as I took a knee before the group. “Of course. She says that you were one of her first friends when she came back from the moon, and she’s so thankful for how much you made her feel special that Nightmare Night.”

Pip looked back at a certain tiara-wearing filly and stuck his tongue out at her. “Told ya!”

The filly and a friend of hers grumbled and walked away down the path to town, leaving the rest of them to stand in awe of me. I just smiled as I saw Scootaloo running from behind them to me, and caught her as she jumped and extended her little wings, sailing over all of them.

I hugged the orange pegasus filly and smiled. “Hey Scoots.”

“Hey Koa!” she said excitedly before looking to her classmates. “This is Zizzanasx the Skylord, everypony. He’s my friend!”

The young ponies gasped, and I just nodded as I placed Scootaloo on my knee. “I am indeed.”

A little blonde-maned lavender unicorn stepped forward and eyed me curiously. “My mama said that dragons are dangerous.”

I shrugged. “We can be...but so can ponies. If you don’t do anything wrong or hurt anypony though, then you have nothing to fear from me. This town is under my protection, and that includes all of you, providing you don’t do mean things to the ponies that live here.”

“Cool! Our very own guardian dragon!” the little unicorn filly exclaimed.

I nodded and patted her head gently. “Yep. That means that if there’s ever any dangerous ponies that you’re hearing about or anything, I want you to tell Twilight Sparkle, and then she’ll find and tell me. We need your help to keep Ponyville safe...can you do that?” The assembled colts and fillies nodded, so I smiled. “Good. Now go on home, I’m sure your parents and such are expecting you.” The small group of young ponies all began to clear out, but not before many of them looked to me and Scootaloo. Some with curiousness, some with jealousy, and some with confusion.

Whatever...not my problem.

“So what are we gonna do?” the young pony asked from my knee.

I smiled as I looked down at her. “Well first, I thought we’d stop by Sweet Treat’s ice cream shop for a little treat.” The filly’s eyes widened and her smile grew. “Then, I was thinking we could spend some time flying before Dash gets home...just you and me.”

Scootaloo jumped into the air and hovered with a look of excitement. “Cool! Let’s go!” She then took off flying down the road towards the ice cream shop, with me soaring not far behind her.

As I walked down the path with a rather happy pegasus filly on my shoulder, I couldn’t help but smile at what a nice day it was, in so many more ways than just the weather. I mean, I had come to find out that the most annoying stalker of mine was in fact just testing me, Cheerilee approves of me, and Scootaloo was very happy.

Very little could make this day much better.

I looked to my left to see Scootaloo chew and swallow the last of her ice cream cone, so I smiled to her. “Alright then, you ready for a little fly through the the sky Scoots?”

The little pegasus flapped her wings and soared into the air. “I’m ready. How high are we going?”

I shrugged. “Higher than my house. That way you can get used to how the thinner air of high altitudes affects your flying and your stamina. It’s something that all pegasi need to learn to be careful of, so I’m going to teach you.”

“Are we going to do anything special up there?” she asked curiously.

I shook my head. “Nah. We’re just going to take a leisurely little flight through the air so that you can feel the effects. I’ll warn you ahead of time that you’re going to get tired easier, and that’s normal. When it gets to that point, just let me know and we’ll stop to rest so that you don’t hurt yourself.”

The pegasus nodded before following me up into the air, high enough that ponies on the ground looked like ants.

We stopped and hovered in place, and I asked, “Alright, so what do you notice so far?”

Scootaloo gained a far-away look as she focused on her flying and then looked to me. “It feels like I have to flap my wings harder to stay in the air, and it’s harder to catch my breath.”

I nodded. “Yep, that’s because of the thin air. The air being thin means that with each breath, less oxygen goes into your lungs, and with each flap of your wings, less air is moved to give you lift.” I then looked off into the distance below us to see some late-day weather pegasi working to add some cloud cover for the coming night. “It’s one of the things you have to be really careful of, because if you’re not, you could pass out from lack of oxygen...and falling to the ground from thirty-thousand feet would kill you have to be very careful, understand?” She nodded to me, and I smiled. “Good. Now we’re going to take it nice and easy here. No racing, and no tricks. For these first few times, I just want you to get used to the effects of the thin air. Stay close to me.” She nodded once again before following me through the air towards the plains to the south of Ponyville.

A few hours later, Scootaloo and I lay together on a lone cloud in the sky, watching as the sun headed ever closer to the horizon. With the days getting shorter, it meant that more of Luna’s beautiful night would cover the hours of each day...which of course was never a problem for me.

Scootaloo had finally caught her breath from flying so strongly through the thin air high above us, and was now laying on my back as I lay on my stomach, with my folded arms under my chin. The pegasi filly’s head rested atop mine as the twilight of the coming evening changed the hues of the sky to orange, red, and violet, making for quite the beautiful end to a nice day.

“It’s so pretty.” Scootaloo commented from her perch.

I smiled as I stretched my wings out before folding them on my back again. “It is. Reminds me of just how blessed I am to have you and my other friends in my life.” I pointed to the colorful sky and added, “Those many colors remind me of all the colors of the ponies I care about. Cyan, lavender, orange, violet, indigo, yellow...the list can go on. Those colors in the sky always remind me of why I’m having to go away soon...because I need to make sure those ponies are safe.”

I felt as two small forelegs wrapped around my neck, and a warm body pressed against the back of my head. “Just be safe, Koa. I don’t want anything to happen to you.”

I firmly grasped one of the orange forelegs and ran my thumb on the soft fur. “I’ll always make sure I can come back to you and Rainbow Dash. Discord himself couldn’t keep me away.”

I felt as the little forelegs hugged me tighter, and Scootaloo nuzzled my right ear ridge softly. “I love you Koa...”

“Not in love though, right?” I asked with concern.

“No.” she answered softly.

I smiled as I reached back and ran my fingers through her mane. “Well I love you too, Scoots.”

The filly released me as she slid down my shoulder and onto the cloud in front of me. She looked at me with worry and said, “Promise you’ll be back, Koa. Promise you’ll be okay.”

I nodded as I brushed her mane out of her eyes. “I promise Scootaloo.”

The little pegasus smiled and nodded. “Good. Come on, we should get’s getting cold.”

For some reason when she referred to “home” in such a broad sense, I didn’t feel the need to correct her. After all, I realized that my home was her home. With me and Dash, she was with a pony and a dragon that cared a great deal for her.

Her home was my home.

With that last warming thought, I grabbed the filly in my arms and flapped my large wings, flying towards our home.

Scootaloo had helped me cook vegetarian pizzas for us, which meant that flour was everywhere, and we were both looking like ghosts when we were done.

Luckily for me, we had time to clean up as the food cooked and before Dash arrived, so that it wouldn’t look like we were just foaling around the kitchen like idiots.

I had just walked back into the family room when Dash walked in my front door, looking rather frazzled and tired...but she instantly perked up when she smelled the cooking.

She licked her lips as she sniffed a few more times at the tantalizing aroma. “Mmm...something smells good.”

I smiled as I brushed my head fins back. “Yep. Scoots helped me make some pizza for dinner.”

Dash’s eyes widened as she smiled. “Wow! You know how to make pizza? I haven’t been able to find any of that since I was last in Canterlot!”

I shrugged. “It’s pretty easy to make. Luna taught me how.”

“Gotta love that mare.” Dash remarked with a grin.

I nodded with a smile. “Yes, one does.” I then motioned to the table. “Anyway, Scoots is cleaning herself up and the pizza’s nearly done, so take a seat and I’ll bring it to ya.”

Dash giggled as I walked away, remarking, “You’re a regular homemaker, you know that?”

“Yeah yeah, don’t get any ideas though. I’m not wearing an apron.” I replied with a smile.

The cyan pegasus snickered as the other pegasus entered the room, a slightly damp mane and tail still steaming from the hot shower. She looked to her young fan and greeted, “Heya Scoots! How was your day?”

The filly smiled as she glided over to the table with a grin. “It was awesome! Koa showed me how to fly at high altitudes today!”

Dash looked at me worriedly, but I just shook my head. “I was just teaching her the dangers and warning her about the differences between high altitude and regular flying. You know, the same thing you would have done. I made sure she was safe and didn’t get too tired.”

Dash nodded and patted my arm as I walked by. “Good job Koa, I knew I could count on you.”

Dinner was rather routine that night, which in honesty I enjoyed. There were no surprises, no sudden revelations that would change our view of the world, and no random pegasi ponies crashed into my house.’s happened.

After filling ourselves with the hot food and cleaning up, the three of us were now laying on the roof of my home with a blanket, gazing at the stars and talking about what was to come. As much as I hated to think about it, three weeks was a long time to be away, and I knew that Dash and Scoots weren’t going to be the only ones down with me gone. Applejack and I had become exceedingly close over the months, and Fluttershy was my go-to mare when I was feeling hopeless about something or other, or just needed a sensitive, caring ear to listen.

Then of course, there was Luna.

I was completely in love and devoted to Dash ‒ there was no question to anyone about that ‒ but I had come to understand the love and affection my past self had come to feel for well in fact that I many times had to remind myself that I was already with Dash. I would never betray my rainbow-maned angel in such a way, even for a princess, but when spending time with Luna, I would sometimes start to forget that her and I aren't married anymore. I had come to the revelation that I did in fact love Luna...more than I would as a mere friend.

Which of course posed a problem.

A few days after said revelation I had spoken with Fluttershy on the matter, simply because she was more in touch with her emotions than anypony else I knew, and love was as much a part of her life as air or her animals. Fluttershy had spoken words that day that calmed my mind and gave me peace, explaining that I wasn’t the only one that loved more than one pony that way. She told me that we can’t force our heart to love or not to love someone, and to do so would destroy us. She confided in me that she too was in the same situation with Applejack and Rainbow Dash...

But unlike me, she had come to a very simple solution to the matter.

“Let your heart love who it will, and let that love flow. The heart isn’t ruled by culture, rules, or laws, and it doesn’t know boundaries. Let your mind keep the bounds to the pony you choose to be with, but still acknowledge to everypony involved exactly what you feel. Dishonesty will corrupt you, and walling off your emotions will destroy you.”

She had spoken those words of wisdom to me a few weeks ago, and just like she recommended, I told Luna and Dash both what I felt. As I expected, Luna took it all in stride, but Dash was upset...with good reason. It took explaining to my angel exactly what I meant for her to forgive me, as well as some soothing words from her oldest friend, Fluttershy...and the timid pegasus’ own secret towards the cyan mare.

Let it simply be said that day was awkward, but the following weeks had brought all of us closer together. Honesty truly was the best policy, as though the truth might not always be ideal, it allows the trust between the parties involved to grow and mature. Dash now knew that I loved Luna, but that I was completely faithful to her. It was then that my cyan pegasus made me promise something that utterly surprised me, and made me see her in a new, more mature light: she made me promise that should the worst happen to her ‒ should her life be taken before mine ‒ she wanted me to love Luna the same way I loved her. Her face that day had been more serious than I ever thought she could be, but after her soothing words of love and understanding, I agreed.

I don’t think there’s a word for just how our relationship evolved that day, transcending mere mortal bonds.

It’s a strange thing once one truly understands that we never truly end. We merely...transform. Should we be open enough to it, we come to find that we never lost anything to begin with, and neither did those who care for us. It allows one to see the world in a new and beautiful way. A way free from the fear of an eternity without the ones we love, or the end of life as we know it. Those loves and that life can always be reacquainted with, if we are willing to work hard enough for it. The mental breakdown that Dash had was proof that it wasn’t easy, but anything worthwhile rarely was.

The night chilled, and the day as a whole came to a close, so me and my two pegasi settled upon my large bed and rested from the trials of our days...some more than others.

Scootaloo fell asleep rather quickly, curled up in the grasp of my left arm, but Dash simply gazed at me lovingly with her chin upon my chest as she was nestled against my right side, me softly stroking her mane. My angel spoke no words, and none needed be said. Our eyes and soft smiles to each other conveyed all the thoughts and emotions that weren’t said, and as our eyes began to close, neither of us even muttered a goodnight...with it being unneeded.

I was loved by an amazing angel that meant the world to me...the night couldn’t be any more good.