Pillow Case

by Taffy

Casey Saves Christmas... For Later

Pillow Case
by BG (Mr. Blue)
== Holiday Special: Casey Saves Christmas... For Later ==
(Yes this chapter is in third person, no I'll try not to make a habit of it. This is just a special occasion. First person suits Casey more even if I'd rather plead the third)

It was the day before the night before Christmas, and all through the bar, hardly a drinker was stirring, because it was only 2:30, and far, far too early, for the less stranger patrons to have come in for beer. But the bartender stirred from her daydreaming stupor by the opening door and the sound of soft hoofsteps (no, not from the roof).

In through the door, shaking snow from her feathers, trotted a white little pony who was sick of the weather. She was bundled up tightly to keep out the cold in a collection of garments, though none very old. The bartender smiled but sighed just as well, for her shift was long over but this pony might tell just where the fucking hell that fussy red earth pony was, who was supposed to be there like an hour ago, and she wasn't even supposed to work today except that Sanja called in sick and no one else would pick up their damn phones, and Jeff literally begged her to come in because he was worried about some crazy shit starting if he had to work the bar and put together the next month’s schedule at the same time, and “Good god man I’ll come in just as long as that goddamn Strawberry Jam isn't late for her shift, again. I know she’s great and all but why is it people are only ever late when I’m working right before them. I mean, Jesus Jeff, what's with that?”

Unfortunately Pillow Case didn't know where her friend Strawberry was and had also expected her to be there on time to talk about their plans for the following night. They were all going to a party on Christmas Eve and it was Pillow’s first Christmas, so of course Strawberry wanted everyone to get into the spirit for her sake. She hadn't understood it all, because it hardly seemed different from Hearth’s Warming Eve, but she made sure to research the traditions so she didn't accidentally embarrass herself in front of a large crowd of humans and ponies alike, like at the “Halloween/Nightmare Night/Oh God Casey, Bobbing For Apples? Really?” Party.

She’d spent the weekend with her nose buried deep within her tablet computer going through a secret list of holiday favorites provided by her small number of human friends who all claimed to be experts on the holiday. They even fought over the list when Eric kept insisting that she had to watch ‘A Christmas Story’, but that she could only watch it on Christmas Day. Then Emily went on a tangent about “so called traditions” being “stuck reliving the nostalgia from the baby boomer generation” and a lot of other stuff that went right over Pillow’s head. So she and Michael snuck out of the room while the couple bickered and he suggested she just stick with the animated stuff until they sorted it all out, oh and also not to tell Berry because she’d probably not want to hear about what they were all doing.

So after a long night with Rudolph, Frosty, A Charlie Brown Christmas, a tearful peak into It’s A Wonderful Life, A Muppet Christmas Carol, and finally learning how The Grinch could possibly steal something as abstract as a holiday, there was no way she would ruin Christmas. And just in case anyone tried anything funny, at least she had a decent idea of how to go about “saving” it. Mostly though she was just confused and was hoping Strawberry could clear some things up...

* * * * *

Shedding her long scarf and the booties on her forehooves, Pillow hopped up onto the tall barstool. It was a little tall for such a small pony but height meant nothing to a pegasus. Resting her forehooves on the seat she quickly asked the bartender if strawberry was around.

Having just opened her mouth to ask somewhat of the same the she just closed her mouth and shook her head.

“Oh...” Pillow replied, “I thought she was working today. Sorry.”

“No, she is. She’s just late. I’m not even supposed to be here but... whatever. Can I get you anything? Coffee?”

“Just some cocoa if you have any or tea I guess.”

She poured the little pony some hot chocolate and then went back to pretending to clean the counter. Pillow struggled in her head to remember the bartender’s name. She knew maybe two or three of Strawberry Jam’s coworkers with how much time she spent up there. There was that one guy Jeff-er-ee or something. He might have been the human that owned the place, or the son of whoever did, or something like that. Strawberry mentioned him a lot and he was always around the place trying to hold on to some small bit of authority, but it seemed to pillow his only purpose was to sign the paychecks, answer the phone, and get stressed out so others didn't have to.

After waiting for around ten minutes Pillow pulled out her tablet to watch more Christmas specials. When Strawberry said to not worry about paying rent and to spend her first few paychecks to help settle in then Pillow surprised them both by not only spending most of the money on clothes, but also a few pieces of “amazing human technology!” including a tablet she had thoroughly researched and then spent several days holed up with as her first, very own window to the internet. Neither of them would admit what Strawberry’s boyfriend Michael's jokes were actually true, and Pillow seemed more tech savvy most times after a few months than Strawberry did having been raised in the human world.

Unfortunately that money seemed a little wasted for a while as Pillow’s job delivering food for that one pizza place didn't exactly work out all too well. While most places jumped at the chance to hire a pegasus to deliver food, and would pay them more than they would most human drivers, they weren't too keen on delivery flyers who would accidentally drop the food when startled by a car horn or a barking dog below her.

Fortunately she had gotten a job as a salespony at Bed Bath and Beyond with a few good references and past experience at home, and that seemed to be working out well. Humans tended to develop strange superstitions about ponies’ cutie marks and would trust anything a pony with a pillow on her flank would say about anything relating to comforters and bedding. She’d made a surprising number of sales on her first day just by not knowing what she was supposed to do during her break and taking a quick nap on one of the display beds. Though she was too embarrassed to do that again. She wasn't working a sewing machine anymore but at least she was back to part of her comfortable old job back home. She was very excited at the prospect of also selling soap and other things too when she completely finished her training.

Pillow Case was interrupted from the captivating origins of humankind’s guardian of Christmas spirit (as told in amazing stop motion glory of Rankin/Bass Productions’ “Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town”, which strangely conflicted with most of her previous research on the subject, but it was on the list so it had to be important); the bartender whose name she swore she’d remember eventually set a drink down in front of her.

Pillow looked at the glass of dark amber liquid startled, and then up at the girl who set it down. “What’s this?”

“From your friend.” She nodded her head to someone Pillow hadn't noticed sit down a few seats away. Some strange man with a trim beard, spiked hair, a black blazer, and a fairly shady smile.

“I don’t know him.” Pillow squeaked quietly to her friend’s coworker.

“Oh.” She said a little annoyed, taking the drink back and moving to help someone else.

Pillow tried to turn back to her tablet but the obvious sound of someone standing up on two legs and moving over to sit by her was hard to ignore.

“Aww, what’s that all about little filly, I’m just trying to be friendly.”

‘Well maybe that’s true.’ Pillow thought.

“Besides, we've met before, remember?”

“N-no, I think you have me confused with somepоny else.” She tried desperately to melt into the stool but her hooves and flank remained stubbornly solid.

“Nah, I’d recognize that cutie mark anywhere,” He put a tonal emphasis on “cutie” when he said it.

“It-it’s not an uncommon one. A lot of ponies h-have one just like it.”

“Maybe a lot back in the good ol’ EqK, but there aren't ‘that’ many ponies around here. come on, early November, you bought me a drink, came over to my apartment later for some fun.” His dropped to a whisper as he leaned uncomfortably close to her. “A little wing and hoof play and then you-” he leaned forward and whispered something in her ear that made her blush turn her into a good imitation of her best friend Strawberry.

“I-I-I... what... I—”

“Oh we might have both had a bit to drink but maybe after a little tonight you might remember...”

Pillow was saved, she assumed by the bell above the door. Hoping desperately to see a friendly face she instead caught the eccentric eye of a pony that was just that.

“Casey! How’s mah faaaavv-rite lil’ doppleganger doin’? Ah haven’ seen yall since the Fly-by party last month! How’s it goin’!” His smile was terribly contagious but Pillow was trying to figure out a way of putting the scrawny blue pegasus stallion between her and ‘the scary man’. He looked down the bar at the now impossibly more annoyed looking girl pouring a drink. “Lily! Lovely Lily, how’s ‘bout a drink sugar. Pretty please?” His smile defied reason and grew even wider, and the sparkle in the puppy eyes he gave her could have blinded Celestia herself.

Despite the best efforts of Lily’s own glaring eyes, the blue pony’s head did not explode. “No means no, SoCo. Not this time.” She said back. “You know the rules. Nothing for you stronger than ginger ale before seven. And even then only when Berry’s around.”

SoCo feigned a blow and held a hoof to his chest. “Oh you wound me dear.” laying thicker his deep southern drawl he rebounded, “but never you worry none, Ah am nothin’ if not generous when it comes to all mannah of booze and made sure as salt ta’ have plenty of mah own ta’ share.” His smile came back and his wing flipped in and out of a slim coat pocket, expertly tossing and catching a small glass flask of some crystal clear liquid.

Lily groaned and Pillow would swear later she saw her weep into the espresso machine. They were both familiar, Lily (and the other bar workers, waiters, waitresses, and pub owners working within the same seven mile radius) more so than Pillow, with the small light blue and brilliantly white maned pegasus known as Southern Comfort. Woman and Mares everywhere were said to cling their respective males closer when he was near, though not for the reasons most males assumed when hearing Comfort tell them all this.

His friendly smile returned to Pillow Case before doing a double take over the man sitting next to her. “Well howdy, what have we here.” He said innocently “Friend a’ yours Case?”

Pillow shook her head. The spiky haired man was still staring at the image of a fluffy pillow on SoCo’s flank.

“Actually...” Comfort said, “have we met? Oh yeah, I remember. Early November, I bought’cha a drink, then we went back for a little ‘wing n’ hoof’ play at your place ‘fore—”

The stranger was already out the door before he finished, his car soon screeching out of the parking lot.

“Well damn. That’s a real shame I tell you what. Wouldn't happen to have the number ‘a that cutie would‘ja Casey dear?”

She shook her head smiling. She sort of liked SoCo in a weird way, and he was the only local pegasus she saw that often aside from the teenage colt who usually delivered pizza to the apartment. She just found his eccentricities a little hard to keep up with, and his and her identical cutie marks and similar coat shades made her feel awkward around him; some humans assumed they were related when she first met him at a party. And then of course Strawberry Jam couldn't stand him and his methods for picking up guys which, while almost never failing, would frighten away a great many stubbornly straight bar patrons, and then of course the impromptu parties that seemed to form wherever his smile and alcohol were mixed and were such a mess to clean up. He warmed up to people very well and even Strawberry would agree he was comfortable to be around; it was his special talent.

Although it was because of him that a lot of humans in the area not familiar with cutie marks would assume Pillow’s meant she was 'good in bed'. Which just gave her another excuse to cover herself up and buy more clothes, nice soft clothes. Though she claimed it was for the cold weather. That gosh darn untamable human world! Grrr!

After Pillow had explained the story of the spikey haired man, and Southern had picked himself off the floor and stopped laughing, Lily the bartender came over and gave the bluer pegasus the man’s tab, which he more than happily paid, much to Lily’s chagrin.

“Well now Casey girl, I say this calls for something special, though I think yall’ll appreciate this a little bit more than mahself.”

Her eyes widened and she couldn't help but let out an excited squeak as he pulled a large glass bottle that had, somehow, been hidden in his other coat pocket. She recognized the logo instantly, three apples silhouetted over a red stallion’s head and the name “Sweet Apple Acres Cider” in large blocked letters around it.

“Just a little taste of the homeland.” He said casually. “Gran sends us each a bottle every year, probably hoping one a’ us will finally ‘git some sense and move back to Equestria and away from the dangerous land o’ the carnivores’. Good ol’ gran. But you know me”—Pillow didn't actually but she nodded her head anyway as he talked, eyes sparkling at the sight of the bottle—“Ain't set hoof in that world since I was a wee thing, or care much for pair a’ queens its got. Mmmhmm.”

He reached over the bar and hooked a hoof around a glass when Lilly wasn't looking, and then the empty one Pillow had for water. Popping the cap off the bottle he poured Pillow and himself each a glass. “Here.” He said replacing the cap and sliding the bottle and glass to her.

“Merry Christmas!”

She stared at the bottle in shock and stammered, “B-bu-but, it’s not Christmas yet! I didn't get you anything! I—”

“Easy girl!” He said, pulling out his flask and unscrewing it with his teeth. “Don’t you worry ‘bout that none. I’m not one to care for getting gifts anyway. Tis’ the season though and I figured you might be missin’ home a bit ‘round this time. I know I’m am.”

“But I thought you said you never—”

“Good ol’ Alabama. Don’t get the chance to visit them as often as I’d like. Damn shame."


“Well come on now, how’s ‘bout a Christmas toast.” His glass was only half full of cider but he brought it just past three fourths with the contents of his flask. He then picked up his glass in the way that always fascinates humans more unfamiliar with ponies, and held it aloft. She tapped hers against his.

“Um, merry Christmas” she said.

“And a happy Hearth’s Warming to you.” He said back.

They each emptied their glasses, him chasing it down as if it were trying to get away, and her savoring each drop as a little bit of home.

Once Pillow stopped crying and SoCo had assured Lily, and then the newly arrived Strawberry, that he hadn't done anything wrong, and she had backup him up, laughing a little, then he tipped an invisible hat to her and moved to the other end of the rapidly filling bar, homing in on a yellow coated unicorn stallion.

The bar became busier and busier and Strawberry hardly had a moment to say hi. Lily wasn't even given the chance to leave because even an earth pony with a strawberry margarita glass on her flank couldn't hope to keep up with with the sudden blurring rush of patrons. Not feeling up to watching her Christmas stories anymore and not even being interested in the eccentric pony talk show host on the screen above the bar (‘Tickled Pink!’ With your host, The Element of Laughter, Pinkie Pie!) she eventually took off on Strawberry’s advice that they’d probably be better off talking over their plans at home with Michael, when Berry was off work.

Pillow Case bundled up warmly and hugged her cider bottle close as she flew home. Though she didn't feel like watching any more cartoons, she suddenly felt a desire to rewatch that one black and white movie again, with the funny talking angel in it who wanted to earn his wings. And then she wanted to call home.