Chapter 8: Reconcile
“Let it out, man,” Ray said, patting me on the pack.
“MMMMMMMMMRRRRRRRRRRPPPPPPHHHHHHHH,” I screamed, my face pressed into the bundled-up sweatshirt. We were back in the living room, sitting on the couch. After laying my ‘bundles of joy’ I’d stiffly marched upstairs, feeling the need to blow off some steam. Ray opted to take off his hoodie and hand it to me, and I’d spent the past twenty minutes venting my terror.
“So, whenever you’re finished…” Ray said carefully. “We should talk about what we’re gonna do with those things down there.”
“I mean, do you want to do the changeling equivilant of an abortion? Do you want to leave em alone and hope they go away in the event we become human again? Or maybe you can do what this ‘Chrysalis’ is supposed to do…?”
“Right, we’ll figure it out when you’re good and ready.” Ray sat back; I figured if he had thumbs he’d be twiddling them.
“MMMMMMMMMRRRRRRRrrrrrrrrrrrrrrooooookay…” I removed the hoodie from my face. “I think I’m good.”
I paused, shoved my face into the hoodie and tried screaming again. “MMMMMmmmm-- yeah, I’m all burned out.”
“So, what do you want to do?” Ray asked.
I gazed at the floor. No amount of screaming would make me comfortable with the fact that, within ten minutes, I’d gone from a confused dude in a changeling queen’s body, to a full-blown mother of three. Every thought of the three eggs in the basement, now hastily covered beneath a blanket by Ray, sent a pain through my stomach.
I felt stupid for never seeing this coming. I may not have known the specifics of changeling anatomy, culture and the like, but I should’ve at least expected that I’d feel the need to procreate. Not that I wanted to, of course; if I started a hive it would complicate things- even more so. If changelings did things just like they did on the show- kidnap people (or ponies) and impersonate them to feed off their loved ones, how could I live with myself if I allowed that?
And yet there would be no other option. I didn’t like the idea of letting my unexpected children starve, especially seeing as they could pop out randomly, it seemed. And if I couldn’t feed them with the ‘identity theft’ method, what else could I do? Get on TV like Sarah McLachlan and get a charity going to give my children a home? God knows how people would react; they’d either recoil in fear or get the nearest firearms or sharp objects. Bronies around the world would probably help, but what would happen when I’d spawned too many hatchlings for all the bronies to take care of? And then there was the (potentially paranoid) thought that the government would take the hatchlings and perform experiments on them.
In place of the terror I’d screamed out, a growing sense of despair grew. “I don’t know…” I said softly. “I just don’t know…”
“Wanna go check on ‘em?”
I sighed. “Give me a minute…” Ray jumped off the sofa and descended into the basement, casting a concerned look over his shoulder as he went. I lay on the couch, wallowing in doubt. Going down there would just continue to hammer home the fact that, in an indeterminate amount of time, I’d have three slimy, love-sucking shape-shifters.
But they’d be my three slimy, love-sucking shape-shifters.
The sound of the front door opening drew me out of my trance. I immediately put on my Chris guise, but quickly remembered I couldn’t maintain it forever without…
“...Liz?” I got off the couch. She stood in the door frame, her expression neutral. She was here for one of two things; to pack up her things and move on (the smart decision), or agree to see me through this- the completely implausible decision that I put all my hopes on.
For a moment she said nothing. Then she hurried forward and hugged me tight. I responded in kind- my stomach seemed to do a flip as it drank in the flooding warmth from Liz. “I’m sorry…” I said into her ear. “I was-- I am, a complete shithead, I knew that the moment I was finished with that stunt.”
“I shouldn’t have left,” Liz said. “I should have stayed with you…”
“No, baby, you were right… I should be trying to fix this, even though I have no clue where to start… but I can’t afford to fuck around with this. No more risks, no more ‘stealth missions’ or espionage or shit like that. We’ll be careful. I promise.”
“...That’s not all we need to talk about, is it?” Liz asked. “You were kind of…”
I couldn’t think of how to respond. “...Yeah… I’m getting kinda… ‘into the role’, here…”
“I figured… I would’ve come back sooner but I was…” Her embrace tightened. “I was scared, Chris…”
“I’m scared, too…” I said. “More than you know. God, I’m fucking terrified…”
“What’s wrong?” Liz asked, looking up at me.
“B-Babe, I…” I began, when we heard hooves climbing the stairs. “Uh, by the way, it turns out I’m not alone in this…” The basement door swung open.
“Chris, you coming-- SHIT!!” Ray jumped in shock at the sight of us before swinging the door shut.
“Dude, it’s cool!” I called. “It’s me! And this is Liz, my girlfriend!” I looked at Liz, who was staring at the door in shock.
“...Did the Great and Powerful Trixie just hide in our basement?”
“That’s Ray,” I said. “He’s in the same boat as me… In an eerie number of similar ways, it turns out.” The door slowly opened. The way Ray peeked out I thought he was imitating Fluttershy, to decent results.
“Girlfriend?” Ray asked.
“Yep. Liz, this is Ray Bassett. He came here a few hours after you left.”
Ray eased up and entered the room. “Hey.”
Liz stared at him for a moment. “...You look naked without your hat and cape.” I snickered while Ray rolled his eyes.
“She’s not a brony,” I said once I stopped laughing.
Liz and Ray both raised their eyebrows at me. I glanced between them and was about to ask what was up before I realized what I’d said. “...I mean ‘he’s’ not a brony. Sorry.”
Ray glared at me for a moment before turning towards the basement. “In any case, you wanna show her your ‘product’?” Ray trotted down the stairs into the darkness.
“What’s she-- he talking about?” Liz asked.
I bit my lip. “I guess I’ve acquired all the ‘perks’ of being a changeling queen, babe.” I took Liz’s hand and led her into the basement. “Not half an hour ago I started feeling…” I began before trailing off as we entered the dank basement. I gestured at the blanket in the corner, covering the three eggs. “...contractions.”
Liz swayed a little bit. Fearing she was gonna faint, I put my arm around her shoulder to keep her standing, and guided her towards the eggs. “I know…” I said. “Not exactly what you were expecting when you came back, but this is happening.” Liz didn’t say anything as we crept closer; Trixie hung off to the side, wisely giving us space.
Leaving Liz against the wall I approached the eggs, dropping my Chris form and carefully removing the blanket. The eggs had a healthy green glow, occasionally pulsing and twitching with life- a life, a cruel little voice in my head was quick to remind me, that I had provided.
A life that I would have to take care of.
Carefully I reached out and prodded the middle egg with a hoof. Immediately I felt something pour from my stomach, through my outstretched hoof, into the egg. The affected egg glowed brighter as it drank in the warmth that flowed through me. I drew my hoof back, and the glow dimmed. I touched the other eggs and got the same result. It wasn’t hard to figure out- I was feeding them the love I’d gathered. I turned to Liz sadly. “...They’re hungry…”
Liz found her voice. “...Are you sure you want to feed them?”
My gaze fell to the floor. “...I… can’t just let ‘em starve, Liz… They’re my…” My voice failed. I’d wanted to say the word, but I couldn’t- it would just hammer home what had been dropped in my lap.
But I couldn’t deny it. “...They’re my children.” With a long breath I laid on the ground and pulled the eggs closer, like a lioness would cradle her cubs. I felt the warmth stream from my body, a sense of weariness growing within me.
I felt a hand lay on my shoulder. I turned to see Liz kneeling behind me, laying her hand on me and keeping me fed. I smiled lovingly at her before turning to the eggs. “Drink up, guys…” I said softly.
“This is, officially, the weirdest week of my life,” I heard Trixie mutter from the far corner.
- - - - -
I awoke with a snort; for a moment I feared I may have rolled onto the eggs while I slept. I quickly sat up, only to feel the eggs shift against my stomach.
“Chris?” I heard Liz mutter sleepily from behind me. I turned to see her laying on a roll-up mat at my side. Trixie had gone back upstairs.
“It’s nothing…” I said, looking back at the eggs. Without thinking I ran a hoof along the top of them, smiling affectionately. “...You know, this might not be so bad…” I said.
“What’s that?” Liz asked, rubbing sleep out of her eyes.
“I mean, I might’ve been freaking out over nothing…” I said softly, as if afraid I’d wake the eggs. “Maybe caring for these guys won’t be too hectic. Just keep them fed and out of trouble, and we shouldn’t have too much of an issue.”
“What happens when you turn back?” Liz asked, sitting up.
“Back?” I asked, genuinely confused.
“Yeah. Back,” Liz said, raising her eyebrows. “As in, not being a changeling queen anymore?”
I nodded. “Right, right… Well, we… uh…” I looked down at the eggs.
“I mean, will they disappear when you become human again?” Liz asked. “Or will they stick around?”
I shrugged. “I dunno…” I leaned towards one of the eggs. “...s’not like taking care of them would be that hard… Just give them plenty of love and make sure they maintain a human form whenever they leave the house, and…”
“Are you saying you’re okay with having children like this?” Liz asked, astounded.
I looked back at her. “What else can I do, Liz? ...They’re my children…” I couldn’t come up with a better rationale than that. Liz gave me a perplexed look as I turned back to the eggs.
“Chris, I think you’re getting too into the whole Chrysalis thing…” she said.
“Well, when I’m human again, maybe I’ll come up with a better plan…” I said simply.
“No, I mean, I’m starting to think maybe you… don’t want to be human again.”
I turned to her. “Of course I do!” I said.
“And yet you’re considering a future for what’s essentially the product of the weirdest thing that could have happened to you?” Liz asked.
“I kinda have to…” I said. “The alternative is to let them die.”
“I don’t know about this…”
My eyes widened. “Welp, looks like the decision’s been made.”