Avast! Role Reversal and Rappers!
With a start, Rick jerked open his eyes and sat up. At first, nothing immediately registered in his vision and his head began to pound, detesting the sudden motion after remaining still for so long in a prone position.
“How much you think we grabbed today?” a woman’s voice asked from behind Rick. He swiveled his head around to find the wagon he was laying in being pulled along by two blue ponies, one with a green mane, and the other with a red mane.
There wasn’t a rider in the seat, so he assumed the person who spoke was somewhere else, but just before he could sweep the area to find the speaker, someone else spoke up.
“At least about six, so we got ourselves a pretty good haul,” a man’s voice answered.
Rick’s eyes widened, realizing that the source of both voices was from where the two ponies stood.
“Should we check the other snares then?” the mare pony asked.
“Nah, it’s getting late and you now I don’t like hanging out in this forest for too long after noon,” the stallion pony responded.
Taking only a moment, Rick deduced that this form of pony was the dominant life form in this strange place. A glance around the other humans that were riding in the wagon revealed something else. They seemed human, but he was instantly able to see that they resembled a higher evolved form of the Neanderthal Human, so he was the most evolved monkey in this damned place. Gauging their expressions and docile attitudes, he quickly fit together that the humans here were a form of live stock that were captured and traded to be used for labor or breeding.
Ponies here were the People, and the humans were the Beasts of Burden. Classical role reversal much? Meh, sounds like a kooky play off of Planet of the A—“What about that weird one with the light skin and really short hair?”
Rick jerked his eyes away from the ponies just as they turned to stare, pretending to be a typical indigenous human, don’t reveal myself to them yet, Rick thought, I need to find someone mentally pliable enough to be my mediator.
“Dunno, we’ll just wait until we get to Ponyville,” the stallion said to the mare.
Ponyville? Why do I get the feeling that there might be a bunch of… rabbits living there?
Almost giving himself away, Rick snorted at the punny name, “Sounds like somepony back there is antsy.”
SomePony!? Ay Dìos Mìo! Needless to say, Rick lost it and blew up in gagging laughter. He really tried not to laugh, especially with a swollen and bruised throat, but these damn words were way too much!
“I think that one’s aggressive, but I've never heard a growl like that before,” The mare looked back, eyes narrowed and ears facing forward.
Finding it inside of himself to not care to be in their company any longer, Rick turned to face his captors. He found that they both stopped the wagon to stare at him curiously, tense and ready to act should he prove to be hostile.
Rick smiled at them and the ponies blanched, seeing something that usually remains expressionless show an expression. Adding to the can of worms he already opened, Rick raised a hand and put a finger to his forehead in greeting. The ponies fainted.
Chuckling to himself, Rick got out of the wagon and walked over to check on the two. They were alright for the most part, just shocked to unconsciousness.
With a stretch and groan, Rick relieved his back and neck from the soreness that had settled in from his First Class wagon ride.
Alright, so I already see the circumstances of how I’m supposed to learn. Species wise, I am alone, and once I regain my ability to speak, I’ll need to call my species something else. Ponies are the dominant life, so it would be best to not harm any of them to make myself look credible in case I find an opportunity for assimilation, Rick began walking a random direction into the woods, silently pondering about his circumstances.
Normally, people would be highly concerned about the meek circumstances Rick was in; no food, no water, seen as a mule, and butt naked.
Glancing down at himself, Rick thought for a moment about getting a hold of some clothes. He stayed there for several long moments…
…fuck it, humans here are naked and clothing means intelligence, something I shouldn't be advertising.
Rick just continued moving, letting it all hang out. It wasn't so bad really, before he was confined to a scooter and was used to being barefoot from before that. This wasn’t that new.
He halted when he saw a… house would be the best word, some distance away from him. It was a tree with a window and a doorway set into it. Along the ground surrounding it were numerous wooden masks, leaned against the building.
African Tribal Ceremonial Masks? This place keeps getting better and better, throwing caution to the wind, Rick decided to see what could reside in such an interesting domicile and approached casually.
Extremely interested in this new land, he was very eager to see just what else he might discover. Reaching the door, he gave it a firm knock, almost shifting from foot to foot in anticipation. What answered the door was surprising, but seeing as he couldn’t really expect anything here, the surprise wasn’t so impressive.
“Hmmm? A human outside my tree?” the zebra stepped out of the door, gently pushing Rick aside.
He saw that her right foreleg and neck were covered in golden rings. Her ears were pierced with similar rings, along with the base of her tail. On her flank was a strange swirl of stripes that oddly resembled the sun.
“Who is strange enough to pull pranks like this so far into the Everfree?”
Everfree? This is what this place is called? Cool, Rick noted.
“Human! I urge you! Shoo! Leave me be, I despise your kind completely,” the zebra mare demanded, eyes glaring and hoof fanning him away.
Smiling internally, knowing how she would respond, Rick decided he was going to put on a little show for her.
He scoffed loudly, rolled his eyes in an exaggerated manner, and threw his hands over his head in a way that said Fine! Geez!
As was expected, the zebra’s eyes widened to a comical size and she balked at the sudden turn of events.
“A human that displays intelligence!? This makes no sense!” she gasped harshly, whispering her awe.
Rick turned to walk away, a smug smile on his face as he already knew how this whole scenario was going to play out.
“Human, wait,” Rick turned to look at her over his shoulder, noting that her face was still stuck in an expression of shock, “how did you acquire this sapient state?”
Okay, I thought the rhyming thing was just a coincidence, but it seems too regular for that. I wonder what her reasoning for that is, Rick thought to himself.
He turned to face her, cupping his chin with his left hand, and supporting that arm with his right in a contemplative stance.
“Do you have any means of communication? I am most curious about your situation,” the zebra asked.
Rick nodded and flashed a set of hand signs. He knew she couldn’t understand but maybe something magical would happen?
“Ah, I see. Your means to speak are those meant to be relayed silently. This is an unsettling plight,” the zebra commented, rubbing her own chin with her left ankle joint in her foreleg, “Can you read or write? A long shot, I know, but still a chance of light.”
Definitely agree with you there if I was in your shoes, but seeing as how the other humans here act, and seeing as how I don’t portray their actions very well, it is easily viable to assume the most outlandish, with that internal monologue, Rick nodded.
“Then come in, please. It has been awhile since I’ve had company,” the zebra stepped aside, inviting him in. On an unrelated note, he realized that she also used incomplete rhymes: rhymes that have two similar sounds at their end meter, but aren’t exactly alike.
Rick gave her a grateful smile and a nod of which she returned before heading in. He had to say that he was honestly surprised that this zebra was taking this so well, what with him being an exception to what was allowed amongst humankind here.
Upon entering the tree, Rick was able to deduce many interesting things about this zebra. All along the shelves were bowls and bottles filled with numerous oddities alongside books and tribal knick-knacks. In the center of the room was a large cauldron set upon wood to hold fire. On the opposite side of the door was what looked like a kitchen area.
Alchemist, philosopher, hermit, by the looks of the multiple stools around the perimeter of the room, she entertained guests at a fair frequency. Seems like she’s either the go-to gal for advice, and/or medicine, or she has a sort of dispensary business going on here…if you know what I mean.
“Before we begin, I am Zecora, the unofficial keeper of this forest’s fauna and flora,” the zebra declared, closing the door after herself.
Rick smiled and held out his hand. Zecora watched him in bewilderment, clearly not expecting any form of social etiquette coming from him as well. After a moment, she chuckled and put her hoof in his hand to complete the shake, “Many things about you are reshuffling the way I think,” she removed her hoof after a polite amount of time, “please give me a moment to find some parchment and ink.”
Rick nodded as Zecora moved away to a shelf across the room, searching for the mentioned items. Taking a seat on the floor, Rick continued to gaze at his surroundings, pleasantly nostalgic of his chemistry work. At the same time, he was organizing what he would say to Zecora if she could understand his written language, which she should be able to do since she speaks in a language that he perfectly understands.
After only a short moment, Zecora returned with a scroll in her mouth. She set it down on the ground before speaking, “I’ll need a second more,” she turned about and tapped her hoof sharply on the wooden ground.
Rick was curious for the half-moment that nothing happened, then jumped in fright to see the segment that Zecora tapped on slowly rise up and take the shape of a table, “here, where writing would be more comfortable than on the floor.”
Still stunned at such a display of conjuration, Rick hadn’t made any motion to move or even acknowledge that he heard her.
Zecora noticed his disturbance and chuckled softly, “You’ll find that I possess many tricks. Perhaps I’ll explain them, if you can explain how you exist.”
Finally getting a hold of himself, Rick slowly got to his feet and shuffled over to the table, still wary about just how the thing had materialized.
“It’s safe, I assure you. Now, please explain to me what you plan to do,” Zecora asked with a comforting grin.
Nodding, Rick glanced down at the scroll before him, seeing a bottle of ink and a feather sticking out of it
Archaic modes of writing here? I wonder if the dominant species here is sub-par with our technology, Rick picked up the quill and tapped its end on the edge, knocking the excess loose, and applying the tip to the thick parchment of the scroll.
Can you understand this? Rick scratched out. He passed it over to Zecora who read it over with wide eyes.
“Amazing! We are actually communicating!” Zecora said in surprise, “Yes human, I can read it. Please go on and explain your wit!”
First things first, Rick wrote, my name is Ricardo Johnson, but you may call me Rick. A pleasure to meet you, Miss Zecora.
“The pleasure is mine,” Zecora responded, “and allow me say, this is the greatest thing to happen to me this day!”
Glad to be able to make your day then. Now, to answer your first question, I was born with the capacity for sapience, but I was not born in this realm.
“Born in the realm? Then how is it that you are sitting here, in my elm?”
This tree is not an elm, Rick thought to himself, but for the sake of her rhymes, let’s just roll with it.
And for the better part of the day, the two conversed, Rick explaining how he came to be in this world and what he’s picked up about it so far. He told of how he was severely injured and figured a way to heal himself, but at the cost of his mind being reincarnated here at the whim of same strange being who claimed to be a guide of sorts in a metaphysical realm.
Zecora was surprised to learn of the existence of Rick’s world, and offered her own suggestions as to what the strange being in the foggy realm could be called… it quickly degraded to forthright laughter at the most outlandish things they could think of to call it.
Rick’s best was where goldfish went after being flushed away and the voice belonged to a goldfish that was the first to be flushed.
Zecora claimed it to be a blizzard frozen in time that was ruled by snowmen and the voice that spoke was that of the Abominable Snowman that was the king of the realm.
As night fell, Rick learned that this land was called Equestria, ruled by two Princess Sisters who controlled the day and night cycles. The mode of currency here was a golden coin called a bit, and that there were actually unicorns and pegasus ponies living in this world as well. She mentioned that there were other species of creatures, but the ponies were the dominant race.
He learned that humans here were used as beasts of burden or simple pets that were more along the lines of a dog rather than a horse as Rick initially thought. After explaining that he could talk and was currently unable to due to an injury, they decided that he keep his intelligence a secret for a time until Zecora could come up with a better alibi than “trans-dimensional traveler who took a wrong left back on Mulberry Road”.
Zecora learned that Rick was a man of many trades, and stopped him when he mentioned his time with chemistry, “You are a chemist? Then please, allow me to show you what I can do as an alchemist!”
Without waiting for a response, Zecora jumped from her seat and walked over to a shelf. Rick watched her calmly browse her shelves, particularly the assorted glass bottles that seemed randomly set. After a short moment, she ‘ah-ha’d and motioned him over while grabbing a small blue bottle with her teeth.
Rick stood up and walked over, kneeling down once he was by her side. With a grin, Zecora took a cork out of the bottle’s neck—an interesting display of agility seeing as her upper body was momentarily suspended in mid-air as both her front hooves grasped the bottle’s sides and allowed her friction to remove the cork by mouth.
She spat the cork out and tipped the bottle’s liquid contents into the groove of her hoof, “A small healing elixir, perhaps it could heal what you injured.”
Rick watched the strange liquid in her hoof, noticing that it almost seemed to glow with a pale blue light. It seemed clear at a glance, but it was very hard to tell from the small amount Zecora held.
Without warning, Zecora pumped her hoof, throwing the liquid into Rick’s face. He slammed his eyes shut with a flinch, holding still for a moment before slowly opening his eyes and gave her a deadpan stare.
“Apologies,” Zecora smiled humouredly, “But you’ll find that this application is necessary for many of my remedies.”
Slowly, Rick wiped his face clear of the liquid and flicked off what he gathered onto the floor. He made to move toward the table to scratch out another message when he noticed the dull ache in his throat slowly recede with waves of soothing warmth.
“I got lost in our conversation and completely forgot that I may have held a solution,” Zecora said.
Tenderly exploring his throat with his fingers and finding that the previous swelling was gone, Rick smiled and said, “Creo que funcionó,” Rick said with neutral expression, but he was laughing on the inside.
“Um, perhaps I grabbed the wrong potion. Maybe it required a form of lotion,” Zecora muttered worriedly. She stepped away from Rick, not noticing him stifling his laughter.
“No, lo funcionaba perfectamente! I just speak multiple languages,” Rick said as evenly as possible without laughing, still trying to sound serious.
“Even so, I made a mistake that should not show,” Zecora replied, distracted from realizing what he just said.
Finally, he just burst out laughing, startling Zecora into facing him finally. She stared for a moment before chuckling to herself, “Ah, you jest! You nearly made my heart burst from my chest!”
“I’m sorry, but it was worth it,” Rick wiped away a tear from his eye and composed himself.
“If that is what you claim, but upon hearing your voice I must proclaim, that should I hold my eyes shut, your voice could evoke lust,” Zecora said shyly, a red tinge introducing itself to her cheeks.
“So I take it you like my voice? Flattering that you think so, but I am really so ugly that you have to close your eyes?”
Now it was Zecora’s turn to laugh, “I did not mean to offend, I meant as in imagining that you were a stallion. Ponies do not normally find humans attractive and I’m rather imaginative.”
“Ah, you were imagining my sexy voice on a stallion?” Zecora blushed and smirked, looking away.
Rick laughed again, Zecora shortly following suit, finding that she was greatly enjoying this human’s company before she realized something that she probably should have found out first about Rick, “I forgot to ask, but is it ‘human’ I should refer to you as?”
“Ah! Yeah I forgot to mention that too, my kind is called Nord,” Rick said. He was desperately trying not to laugh at the lame ass name he was using. I guess I spent more time in video gaming than I thought, he smiled internally.
“A Nord you are then, probably the only one that should grace my den,” Zecora nodded with approval. She opened her mouth to speak when there was a knock on the door.
Zecora frowned and glanced out the window finding the moon just rising from the horizon with a shade of purple light claiming the red color that was the dusk sky, “A visitor at this hour? Excuse me, Ricardo,” Zecora muttered as she went over to open her door, “Oh, Mr. Cake? Why a look so sour?”
Rick leaned over to glance over Zecora’s shoulder to find a bright orange pony standing on the other side of the door with a very solemn expression, “Both Pound and Pumpkin are sick and the hospital doesn’t seem to know what it is. Could you please help us?”
“Your foals have fallen ill?” Zecora glanced back at Rick and found that he had the scroll in his hands with the words ‘I have training with infant illnesses, I can help’ written across it. Zecora turned back to Mr. Cake, “Then help you I will. Would you mind my human coming with us? Him here alone is a hard thing to trust.” I’m gonna get you back for making me sound like a dependant dog, Zecora, Rick scowled.
“It’s fine, I’m just worried for my foals! You can help us, right?”
“Then please lead the way and I will help in any way I may,” Zecora stepped out and looked back at Rick, jerking her head in a gesture to follow.
He had to play along as a simple minded creature for now, but she was very clearly enjoying herself in dominating him…without the disturbing sexual mental image that statement inspires.
Unknown to Mr. Cake, Rick had the scroll in his hand that he had used to write in with the quill and ink in the other.
They walked a dirt path through the forest for several minutes in silence before Rick nudged Zecora softly in the shoulder.
Out of the corner of her eye, Zecora glanced at the scroll that he was presenting to her, What are the symptoms?
Zecora turned back to Mr. Cake, “Could you tell me about the pains and aches so that I may know what sort of remedy to make?”
“It’s just coughing, but it’s so severe that they have a hard time swallowing anything or even making noise! Poor Pound was coughing so badly that Pumpkin was actually trying to use her magic to heal him, but her own coughs made it hard,” Mr. Cake sighed sadly.
Magic to heal? Unicorns use that kind of magic? Huh, Rick mentally noted before scratching out another message for Zecora, There was a strain of virus that was going around on my world called ‘Whooping Cough’. Ask if they were near smoke and then in the cold.
Zecora shot him a confused glance before speaking up, “Your children, have they been near any smoke and chilly wind?”
“Well they’re always around the bakery, and you know the weather team scheduled for rain last week. They love playing around in the puddles when they think we’re not paying attention,” Mr. Cake explained, “Why? You think it has something to do with that?”
“It may just be, but soon, we shall see,” Zecora responded.
For a couple more silent minutes, the group finally came out of the forest and into a clear stretch of land. Rick gasped at the humble little hamlet in front of him, immediately awestruck at such simple beauty these ponies were responsible for.
In more ways than one, he was jealous of this lifestyle; to be close knit with the community, always nearby everything, and never truly feeling alienated from the simple fact that there was usually too many people to meet. Simple village life like this was something he always fantasized about.
As they passed through the little village, Rick couldn’t help but wonder about what this place would look like in the day, rather than the twilight that was now settling over the sky.
“Can you hear them? Oh, I feel so awful letting them suffer for so long,” they had just came up to a large house that resembled a gingerbread house that was made to give somebody diabetes in one bite… that was seriously how much icing adorned the roof.
Unfortunately, Rick wasn’t able to take in much as his entire being was ensnared by the feeling of terror. The coughing that Mr. Cake mentioned could be clearly heard, and Rick heard a rattling behind every cough that set his feet into a sprint into the house.
Ignoring the two behind him, Rick burst into the house, startling a light blue mare with a hot pink mane that had two foals sitting in high chairs before her.
His mind running on desperation mode, he automatically noted the café style of the room he was in and ran forward towards a set of swinging doors behind an old styled register into a spacious kitchen. Behind him, he heard Zecora and Mr. Cake entering the main entrance, Mr. Cake clearly upset about a human barging into his home.
With a clear goal in his mind, Rick plundered the cabinets and raided the drawers and went spelunking into the pantry.
“What in Equestria are you doing you dirty human!?” the blue mare screamed at Rick as he exited the kitchen, arms full of strange combinations of ingredients, a couple of small pots, two spoons, measuring spoons, a tin bowl, and a box of matches.
As of right now, he didn’t give a damn if anybody knew he was smart, “Zecora! I need willow bark and spearmint,” Rick barked, setting down his recently captured booty.
Mr. Cake, and the presumed Mrs. Cake, gasped at hearing a supposedly mute creature speak. He didn’t care about their reactions and began measuring out different powders or taking some medicinal pills and crushing them into dust.
Zecora responded by just zipping out the door, an intent look on her face.
“Y-y-y-you c-can t-t-talk,” Mr. Cake wheezed.
“And whistle and sing and cuss a sumbitch out too when they deserve it,” Rick responded as he mixed some salt with pill dust, setting it into a water and honey solution, “but right now, I’m more concerned with my pediatric and chemical abilities than my vocal charms.”
The faces on the two adult ponies would have been priceless, had Rick been watching them. Mr. Cake promptly fainted while Mrs. Cake’s jaw practically unhinged itself and fell to the floor. Rick was intent on his work, lighting a few matches and placing them in a glass bowl he had.
“What are you doing,” Mrs. Cake asked timidly after watching Rick work in silence for a few minutes.
“One of foals has a rattling in their cough. A kind of rattling that means their bronchial lines are in danger of being severely damaged to the point where they’ll bleed to death,” Rick answered, never taking his eyes off the two measuring spoons he balanced in one hand and the bowl with fire in it in his other.
“W-w-what are you?” Mrs. Cake asked, very clearly disturbed that a human possessed so much knowledge.
“A Nord, not a human as you think, and I’m also not from this world, I’m a trans-dimensional traveler who took a wrong turn on Mulberry Road,” Rick flashed her a friendly smile that caused the fourth pony of the day to faint. He was getting good at that.
After heating up numerous solutions and dissolving some various powder mixtures in said solutions, Zecora had arrived with a small satchel in her teeth. Very quickly, she moved over to Rick’s side and deposited the requested ingredients.
Before she could speak, however, Rick’s hand shot out, snatched the willow bark, and shoved it into her mouth, “Chew it very gently and try to get as little saliva on it as possible. You just want to break the fibers up,” Rick explained, popping numerous spearmint leaves into his own mouth and gently working them in his teeth.
Neither of them spoke as their mouths were full, but Rick would gesture to various things he had before him for Zecora to hand him. Diligently and deftly, his fingers and hands flew about, mixing and stirring and heating, slowly, but surely, bringing all of the liquid and powder solutions into the tin bowl.
Once they were all combined, he motioned for Zecora to spit out the willow into one of the pots while he spat his spearmint into the other.
“I need you to wake up the parents, I want them to hear what I have to say,” Rick said to Zecora.
“As you wish, but when we return, you must explain this mix,” Zecora answered before walking away.
Using a measuring cup, Rick pulled out equal amounts of the liquid from the tin bowl and dumped them into the pots. He allowed both to steep for thirty seconds before reaching out to the glass bowl, dumping out the burnt match sticks from within, and pouring the two pots into the glass bowl, making sure that the streams were equal flow and they both landed on the hot spot he created with the matches.
Once he began stirring the final solution, Rick heard Zecora walk up to his side, "They are awake, now tell me, what did you make?"
"It's a simple mixture composed of medicine that will adhere to the infected cells in the bronchial sections of the lungs and prevent the existing virus from spreading any further. I also mixed in mild painkillers and some honey to assist in the pain that the foals have already and to soothe it as much as possible."
"How do you know this?" Mr. Cake’s voice asked from his opposite side.
"I'm a pediatrician where I come from, and I'm also a medicinal chemist. This virus that your foals have was hard to fight when it first broke out on my world. It would seem that your world has a time delay from what we experienced."
"'Your World'? What in Equestria do you mean?"
Is this world called Equestria? I thought it was just the land... Actually, I remember Zecora saying that in context. "Like I said, I came from a different dimension to learn," not entirely the truth, at least not intentionally.
It sounded like somebody was getting ready to speak again, but a horrifyingly rattling cough forced a silence and Rick to pick up the bowl and stand up.
“The foals are in an advanced stage of the cough. If they aren’t treated soon, I’m very afraid they will suffer serious difficulties later or possibly even death,” Rick said allowed as he approached the two baby ponies sitting in their high chairs.
Mrs. Cake cried out in despair at hearing such morbid news, “This will help them then?! Please tell me it will!”
Rick deposited the glass bowl in on the light-orange foal’s tray and dipped a spoon into it, withdrawing a small amount for the foal to drink, “Come on little guy, this will help you feel better.”
“You’re going to feel silly,” Zecora spoke up, “but she is a filly.”
“Oh, well then come on, little filly, drink up. This is going to make the hurting stop,” Rick smiled reassuringly at the small foal, watching her bright, blue eyes gaze at the spoon warily.
Her face looked very splotchy, obviously from crying in pain, and her muzzle was red, irritated from sniffling and blowing her nose.
Suddenly, the little khaki foal started coughing again, the rattling sound much more pronounced than before.
To Rick’s surprise, the spoon in his hand glowed a faint blue and tried to tug itself away from his grasp. He let it go from startled reflex just to find that it didn't fall, it just hovered there for a moment before slowly floating away.
He knew unicorns could use magic, but a little filly? He was under the assumption that they had to first develop the skill before being able to actually manipulate even the most basic of things.
The spoon floated away toward the khaki foal, slowly lining itself up with his mouth. The filly’s face drawn tight in concentration, eyes barely open to monitor the spoons progress, she tried to make the other foal drink without spilling from his coughing.
The foal tried to withhold any further coughing and opened his mouth wide, practically inhaling the liquid.
“Wow, Pumpkin is so concerned for her brother she gave him the first dose!” Mr. Cake exclaimed.
“He was very bad; I think she knew that his condition was far worse and he was in more pain. I should have given him the medicine first,” Rick responded.
“The fellowship that can be displayed at such a young age is surely impressive, that I can confidently say,” Zecora noted.
For the next ten minutes, the two foals took turns drinking the medicine that Rick had prepared, carefully avoiding the urge to cough while swallowing the liquid. Every now and then, Rick would step in and stir the solution, making sure the solution’s catalysts were evenly distributed for full medicinal effect.
While the foals consumed the medicine, the Cake couple explained that the light-orange filly was named Pumpkin Cake, and the khaki colt was named Pound Cake. Pumpkin was already an adept magic user and Pound was an avid flyer, making for some large difficulties in pacifying them or trying to put them to sleep.
“I’m so glad you were able to help them like this, Nord. We are very grateful,” Mr. Cake sighed gratefully after hearing Pumpkin and Pound cooing softly without coughing anymore and watching them smiling for the first time in days.
“Ricardo Johnson, and it was not problem at all. I have a niece that I use to take care when she was sick; I’ve had a lot of practice,” Rick smiled and gently placed his hand on Mr. Cake’s shoulder.
Mr. Cake flinched at the contact but composed himself quickly enough. “Thank Celestia for you. Please, don’t ever be a stranger in our home; I know you probably might have some difficulty integrating yourself around here, but our door will be open for you,” Mrs. Cake spoke up.
Rick opened his mouth to express his gratitude when he felt weight settle over both his shoulders. The source of the weight was warm and furry and from the feathery wisps that stroked the right side of his head, he could hazard a guess as to what exactly just landed on him.
“I think the kids feel the same way,” Mr. Cake chuckled.
Rick glanced at each of his shoulders to find that the foals were now draped over his shoulders, giggling and beaming at him with bright and grateful eyes. He laughed and reached his hands up to lift them both and bring them around so he could look at them.
He held both foals before him; their haunches perfectly nestled in his palms with their hind legs hanging over the sides of his hands. They each weighed about ten pounds each and were excitedly reaching theirs hooves toward him, “Feeling better little guys,” Rick asked.
They just giggled in response. “I’m glad! I heard you coughing and it scared me so much!” Rick bounced the little foals a bit, eliciting more giggles and laughs. The Cake couple and Zecora were laughing as well.
“Love you!” Pumpkin suddenly cried.
Rick stopped short, the smile instantly disappearing from his face.
“Yeah! Love!” Pound cried along with his sister. The Cakes let out an “aww”, smiling at the affection, but were oblivious to the pained expression on Rick’s face.
“Ricardo? Is something wrong? Your face has suddenly grown long,” Zecora asked, noticing Rick’s discontent.
His eyes burning, Rick heard Stacy’s voice reverberating in his head, “I love you, Tìo!” He wasn’t sure if he would ever see her again, and seeing these two foals hold that same affection in their eyes reminded him of what was now lost to him.
“Mr. Johnson? Are you alright?” Mrs. Cake asked concern obvious in her tone.
“I’m fine,” he wiped his eyes clear of the tears before they fell, “I was just remembering something.”
“Hey!” Pound shouted.
Rick glanced down at him to find that the foals were staring at him with concerned expressions of their own. They were confused as to why the one who healed them now looked so sad. They thought that maybe they did something wrong again, but a reassuring smile from Rick put their little hearts at ease, “Don’t worry, niños, I’m just happy that you’re happy with me.”
They smiled widely and launched themselves at Rick, trying their best to wrap their forelegs around his chest in a hug. With soft laughter, he returned the hug, grateful that he can, at least, be here for them when they needed him most.
Hours after the previous events, Zecora had announced that she wanted to return home and wished everybody goodnight. Before she left however, she had asked how Rick was sleeping that night. He had said not to worry about it and sent her off with a promise that he would stop by tomorrow for a chat about what he was planning.
After she left, the Cakes asked again what he planned to do about sleep. He tried again to tell them not to worry, but it seemed that little Pumpkin could sense he was hiding the truth. She pummeled his calf with her hoof as he was now standing and she was on the ground, trying to make him speak the truth. Noticing the filly’s behavior, the Cakes offered him a room and a place to wash up if he didn't have anywhere to go.
Not wanting to intrude, he tried to politely decline and make his way to the door only to find that Pound was hovering in his path at eye level, forelegs crossed, and a stern glare on his face. Seeing that the foals were not going to allow him to leave, he reluctantly accepted the offer, although he was very vocal about his unwillingness to intrude, the Cakes assured him that it was the least they could do after he saved their foals from such a terrible illness.
Once he acceded to their invitations, they properly introduced themselves as Carrot Cake and Cup Cake. Mr. Cake was Carrot and Mrs. Cake was Cup… cute names for bakery ponies in Rick’s opinion and probably most who are familiar with them.
It was now, after a brief shower, that Rick was lying upon the offered bed for the night, hands behind his head as he thought about the events of the day, and the day before.
It was strange, knowing that mere hours ago he was practically immobile in an electric scooter, mute, and suffering the extreme pain of saying goodbye to his family and the serum rebuilding his body from the inside out.
He was saddened about the distress he could remember seeing on Stacy’s face when he said goodbye, and then brightened again at the two foals that found their way into his life.
A smile spread across his lips as he finally figured out just what he was meant to do in this world now…
He was not immediately accepted in this strange world. There was going to be hostility, confusion, isolation, and shunning from the ponies here from their fear of seeing an intelligent human, but it was simply their naïveté that was the cause of it. Despite that, he was tasked on helping them learn, showing them who he is, and lending a helping hand to those who don’t understand his intent in doing so.
He had to rediscover who he could be in an alien environment, all by himself…