“Thou hast my word, Doctor, I’ll not leave without permission again…” Barrier commented as the doctor from the previous day continued to wrap bandages around him. Thus far the stallion had half-casts around one of his forelegs and one of his hind-legs, as well as bandages around the majority of his hips, shoulders, and barrel. The stallion felt like a mummy.
“How did you even break bones in this manner?” Doctor Horse asked idly as he tied off the last of the bandages.
“A vile spirit had decided to defenestrate me. The kindly earth needed a fair amount of time before it could breaketh my fall,” Barrier deadpanned, “And despite their svelte appearances, alicorns weigh as if they were far more corpulent.”
“Is this treatment not somewhat extravagant?” Barrier shifted, flailing the casts around awkwardly.
“Well, you put your armor on and left the hospital yesterday,” the Doctor explained, “and when Miss Sparkle drug you back in you’d turned several of your fractures,” the doctor vaguely motioned towards Barrier’s hoofs, eyes mostly focusing on a clipboard, “into proper breaks. And since you refused admission to the hospital...” Doctor Horse pulled the door open with his magic, “well, here we are. Anyways, you’re free to go, Mr. Barrier, just come back in two weeks to have the casts removed.”
“And the princesses? What were they like?”
Barrier’s eye twitched unstably as Twilight asked yet another question despite them having been ‘done’ fifteen questions ago. “The princesses were most fair creatures, no matter how unforgiving they were to their foes,” he stated, “and now I believe I shall depart for a brisk walk!” Barrier stated as Twilight’s mouth opened yet again.
“Your legs are in a cast,” Twilight deadpanned.
“I need to maintain my strength, even with this miniscule exercise!” Barrier stated as he awkwardly lugged himself towards the door.
“The doctor said you should be on bedrest…” the mare continued,
“I am a stallion who is several years thy senior! I am capable of making mine own judgments, and I judge that I shall depart!” Barrier tugged the library door open in his magic.
“It’s raining out…” Twilight gave the stallion a flat stare, hoof pointing towards the window and the soft patter of rain outside.
“Perfect for thinking!” Barrier stated as he dragged himself from the library and into the rain, tugging the door shut behind him.
“You’re not supposed to get your casts,” Twilight tugged the door open with her magic, frowning when she saw the stallion had vanished, “wet…”
“Faust and Zacherle above, that wretched mare truly is the descendant of Radiant…” Barrier commented idly as he sat atop a hill on the outskirts of Ponyville, eyes closed as the rain dripped slowly off of his body. “I ponder on how swiftly that mare shall realise…” Barrier’s eyes drifted towards the his flanks and the bandages covering them, a melancholic smile finding its way onto his visage. Just as his thoughts began to drift away, his body alerted him that the rain had stopped and somepony was calling out to him. Mind snapping back to reality, he found himself face to face with Rainbow Dash.
“…out of your mind! You’ll be sick hangin’ out in weather like this!” The mare in question had opened a small hole in the clouds above him, stopping the rainfall and letting a ray of sunlight filter onto him.
“Thou hast made this downpour cease,” Barrier replied absentmindedly, “Why wouldst thou cease the rain?”
“You wanna sit in the rain?” the pegasus asked, drawing back slightly. “You’re nuts!”
“If I had wanted to escape from this shower, I would have simply risen above the layer of clouds,” Barrier replied with a deadpan.
“Wait, what? I thought only pegasi could stand on clouds?” The prismatic mare had drifted down towards the stallion, idly flapping her wings.
“The mystic arts,” Barrier replied simply, “I believe this explanation sufficient enough.”
“If you say so,” Rainbow Dash flew lazily around the stallion, “so what’re you doing hanging out in the rain?”
“I was pondering,” Until a certain somepony interrupted me… “Gods know I’ve plenty to ponder about.”
“Waddaya mean?” Dash asked, wings halting as she touched down on the damp soil.
“Everyone and everything I ever held dear is long-dead and gone and, I’m alone in a time far from my own,” Barrier deadpanned, “I have no career, no sense of security, and no means to comfortably attain either. Mine only skill lies in…” Barrier hesitated slightly, “being a guard, and my time in the Royal Guard is long past… I’m at a loss as to where to go next. I’ll not live with my niece forever, if I can help it.”
“Huh,” Dash stated dumbly as her mind worked to process the explanation, “I don’t know much about that. I always live one day a time; if I was busy worrying about tomorrow, I wouldn’t get anything done today. I figure that living in the moment is the way to do it. Hmm… how did that movie Fluttershy saw put it… The past is history, tomorrow’s a mystery, but today’s a gift, that’s why it’s called the present.”
Barrier felt a familiar thought drift into his mind as the mare spoke, Waste not fresh tears over old griefs… something his father, Magus Stone, had told him when he was younger. “Perhaps you’re right, Mistress Dash,” Barrier’s eyes drifted to the slowly closing clouds.
“Of course I’m right! I’m me!” The mare grinned. “Anyways, you should probably get inside. It’s scheduled to rain for the rest of the night and I can’t really keep a hole in the clouds open.”
“Gramercy, Mistress Dash. I’ll return to my lodgings shortly.”
“Sure thing! See ya’ around, Magic!” Dash commented, bending her legs slightly before bounding into the clouds with a surprising amount of speed and grace.
“Ever the sun traceth its path from horizon to horizon, and ever the moon followeth, and ever the days roll past without care for the lives they grind away, one by one…” Magic Barrier recited to himself as he made his way back towards town, mostly absorbed in his thoughts.
“What is it I have truly lost?” Barrier asked himself as he passed by the outskirts of Ponyville. “I lost the opportunity to see my niece become a fine young mare…” What was he really so upset about? “Nothing…” he sighed out. “My entire life and being became my duty to the guard. Things such as family and whatnot all became an afterthought…” That is what troubles thee so greatly, Barrier’s mind explained, Thou had not had a chance to bid farewell or mend things for thy distance or-- the voice halted. “Thou hast ceased the rain…” Barrier’s eye twitched slightly as his inner-thoughts were once more cut short, this time by an ornate purple umbrella floating above his head.
“Well of course I did, darling, you’ll catch a cold in this weather!” Rarity stated, “Come inside before you get your casts even wetter!” Even as she said that she was carefully levitating the stallion inside one of the most offensive-looking buildings he’d seen to date.
Calm yourself, Barrier. She has noble intentions in her heart… his inner mind stated.
“What ever were you doing out in that dreadful downpour?” Rarity levitated a towel over to the stallion, depositing it in his magic.
You ponies are nosy… Barrier sighed and roughly dried himself off. “I was pondering what I have lost, as well as how I shall proceed. I find myself at a bit of a loss.”
“I’m not certain how to help with what you’ve lost,” Rarity confessed, briefly departing to the kitchen where Barrier heard her rummaging around for a moment before she returned with a steaming teapot and a pair of cups floating in her magic. “But I may be able to help you decide where to go,” she sat everything down on a small table, “tea darling? You look dreadfully cold.”
Considering the offer for a brief moment, Barrier nodded, realizing he was in fact, shivering. “Tea would be most lovely. Many good thanks for thy kindness and generosity, kind mistress.” Barrier bowed his head in thanks before joining the mare at the table.
Pouring two even cups of the tea and placing a small bowl of sugar cubes on the table, Rarity carefully pressed her forehooves together. “Now then, Captain, stop me if I stray here, but am I correct in assuming that you’re worried about where you’ll go from here in the occupational and financial sense of the statement?”
Barrier nodded yes but remained otherwise silent.
“Well darling, have you ever considered modelling?”
“...modelling?” Barrier raised an eyebrow before carefully sipping the still-steaming tea, forgoing sugar. “I’m afraid I’m not familiar with the term, at least in the occupational sense. Pray tell, what exactly dictates being a model?”
Rarity’s eyes twinkled as she opened her mouth to explain…
“Do be careful on your way home, the rain is really picking up,” Rarity called to Barrier from the door of the boutique.
“I shall, fare thee well, Miss Rarity.” Barrier bowed forward slightly, mind registering the heavy patter of rain on his borrowed umbrella, which the mare insisted he take. Barrier turned, hearing the boutique door close behind him; once more he found himself walking along, this time towards the library, frown perched on his face as his mind continued to go over the possibilities. As seemed to be routine, another interruption surfaced, cutting his thoughts off before they could really begin. This one came in the form of a soaking-wet and bouncing wad of cotton-candy in the shape of a pony.
“Hi there, I’m Pinkie Pie and we didn’t get to meet until now because everything’s been really busy and I haven’t gotten to meet you until now and when I tried to meet you in the hospital they said I wasn’t allowed in the hospital because this one time I tried to throw a party for a bunch of sick ponies and…”
By this point Barrier’s instinctive mental-defense kicked in and his brain filtered the chatter out. For nearly five minutes, he slowly walked towards the library, the pink bundle of energy bouncing along behind him. As the library came into view her voice once more penetrated his inner ears.
“And I love to make ponies smile but you weren’t smiling so I thought,” the mare stopped and gasped animatedly, “I could make Barrier smile because he’s all sad and sad ponies make me sad, so I thought...”
“Have a pleasant evening, Miss Pie,” Barrier stated blandly,
“Oh, night!” Pinkie waved heartily as Barrier departed into the library and turned to bounce away as if nothing had happened.
Barrier folded the umbrella with a flick of his horn and glanced at the empty dark library, eyes settling on a clock mounted on the wall - Twilight had given him an explanation on how they worked his first day home when asked - and sighed. When had it gotten so late? With tired strides, Barrier drug himself towards the couch and plopped down on it, paying no mind to his damp coat, focusing only on not lying on his casts. “I shall not awaken Twilight by dragging myself up the stairs…” Barrier muttered to himself as he once more drifted into his thoughts, thankfully uninterrupted this time. Rarity had given him several ideas on what to do for a living, from the local spa that was looking for assistants - why they needed help in a town this small was beyond him - to helping the Apple family who was getting ready to start their harvest in only a couple of weeks, to modeling for her and a line of clothing. She had been particularly hopeful for the last suggestion, it seemed. He supposed he should try all of the above as soon as his cast was off.
With a final tired sigh, the stallion’s eyes slowly shut, sleep being quick to take him, as were the nightmares.