Do Humans Hibernate?

by Pen Mightier

Dashing Through the Troll

Two war-weary warriors staggered into the warm embrace of Sugarcube corner together. One shook errant snow flakes and big fat water droplets out of her wet fur and tail into the convenient shake-shield erected around the entrance. The other wrung out his pants before slipping them back on soggily. As one they ambled in and collapsed into a booth with a heavy sigh.
"What're we doing here again?" He groaned, almost as if he were questioning his entire life.
"My wings are wet. I need somewhere warm to dry them off or they'll freeze in mid-flight." Rainbow muttered. "Why did you follow me here?"
"You're still wearing my boxers on your head." He pointed out. "And while I'm fine going home commando, I kinda would like to give my lucky boxers a wash before I ever wear'em ag–." Rainbow wordlessly catapulted the elastic garment back at him. Said boxers made planetfall on his face with the sort of force more commonly associated with meteor strikes.
Rainbow had achieved surface temperatures high enough to instantly evaporate all the damp in her fur and wings into a puffy little cloud of steam. The heat certainly showed in the flush on her face. She whirled around at all the other ponies staring at her. "My ears were cold, okay?!" She blurted out.
Everypony quickly turned back to their mugs of hot cocoa and sweets, pretending as hard as they could that Rainbow Dash hadn't just trotted into Sugarcube Corner wearing a pair of underpants on her head. But Rainbow couldn’t help but overhear a few terse whispers break out here and there, on very topical things such as ‘pissing off the Factory’ and ‘making the weather from scratch sucks’. She let her ears droop, willing them to shut out the conversation. Except that left her with staring at Marshal tucking his underpants in his collar like a napkin.

Unfortunately that wasn’t very helpful in her efforts to forget they were ever anywhere near her head. "I thought those things fell off in the fight. What's it made of, ursa traps?" Rainbow demanded.
"Funny you should ask.” He put on that knowing grin once more. “There was once a seventh element, the Element of Modesty. Once upon a time during the Windigo Ice Age, the birth rate was so low the diaper makers were making more money making adult diapers. They were so desperate they actually turned to Princess Platinum of all people for a solution. And surprisingly,  she kinda did come up with a solution. She personafied the want-it-need-it spell.” He grinned at Rainbow’s sudden expression of horror. “Yep, I can see you’ve seen Smartypants. Yeah, imagine Smartypants as a walking breathing avatar of lust. Actually, I’ll save you the effort. You’re looking at him.” He chuckled as Rainbow quickly averted her eyes, a bright blush blooming on her cheeks. “Don’t worry, that’s where the Element of Modesty comes in. It was sacrificed to create this, the ultimate seal against the greatest indecency ever known.” He stretched the pair of underpants Element of Modesty in demonstration. “Plus I kinda used up most of the spell’s power to help Clover, Pansy and Cookie create the Fire of Friendship.” His grin only widened as Rainbow’s jaw dropped at the implication. “What, you really think laughter and jokes alone could produce the kinda hotness needed to melt all that ice? Case in point.” He laughed, pointing at the puff of steam rising up from Rainbow’s burning mane.
"Hello again, you two~" A thick bubbly voice sailed over ahead of its owner, the pink of pinkness herself, Pinkie Pie. “Hay, hay, are you telling Dashie the Hearthswarming story?” She gave an eager bounce. Her eyes fell on Rainbow and her burning blush. “Ooooh, you are!” She giggled. “What’s wrong, Dashie? Oooh, you didn’t know? Does that mean you don’t know the true meaning behind sticking gifts in socks? Or raising the ‘Unification Flag’? Or the Hearthswarming dolls? Or where the first carols came from? ‘Cause you know, when they talk about singing carols to keep the Fire of Friendship burning...”

There was a loud thump of something smacking against wood. Marshal and Pinkie looked down at the smoking form of Rainbow Dash faceplanted on the table. “I think you broke her, Pinks.” Marshal whispered, fanning the smoke rising from Rainbow’s mane with a napkin.

“I think she actually believes you.” Pinkie whispered back. “Well, nothing a few drinks can’t cool off.” She said in a louder voice as she offered the menu.

“Good idea, Ms. Saleswoman.” He chuckled. “My usual then.”

"Your usual coming right up, Mash-Mash!" She twirled on the spot before smoothly sliding a tray bearing a tall mug of hot strawberry milk and a bowl of what looked like rock candy.
Marshal didn’t even stop to ask what tophat she pulled the tray out of. "Thanks, Pinks." He gave the pink pony a grateful nod. "Looks awesome! I'm really diggin' the marshmallow pony with the pants on its head." He pointed down at the skilfully sculpted marshmallow slowly melting in his milk.
"I thought you'd get the reference." Pinkie giggled.
"Traitors." Rainbow muttered from where she was flopped flat against the table.
"Hay, Mash-Mash won me five bits so it's the least I can do." Pinkie giggled defensively.
"Nice to know my friends are right behind me, betting on my enemy." Rainbow groaned. 'Hay, wait! This is my chance to learn more about him and his weaknesses!' Rainbow's eyes suddenly lit up with the glow from the devil's workshop within. 'I gotta find out all his likes and dislikes while I'm here.'
"Guess you kinda did help me win the bits. So tell you what, Dashie. Your drink's on me today." Pinkie offered, cheerfully. "What would you like?"
"I'll have whatever he's having." Rainbow waved a forehoof at Marshal's drink. 'That'll tell me what it is and he'd never suspect a thing!' She grinned inwardly at her own deviousness.
"Another hot strawberry pop-rock shake, comin' right up!" Pinkie announced.
'A...pop-rock shake? That doesn't sound anything like the Taliconite Elixir or the Mane-iac Chemical X.' Rainbow thought, at least before her entire train of thought was thrown violently off the rails at the sight of Pinkie pulling a second tray straight out of her...mane?
"Wait, how did get...? Your mane? How did you even know what I was gonna order?" Rainbow spluttered in disbelief.
"Aw, Dashie, you're so cute when you're trying so hard." Pinkie giggled. She leaned in close and whispered into Rainbow's ear, "Lemme give you a free one on the house. He can't resist a good ear-scratch."
"A...what?" Rainbow blinked.
Pinkie gave her a big wink as she sauntered up to him, ears fidgeting exaggeratedly. "How's the pop-rock shake?" She asked, hopping up and hooking her forehooves over his lap playfully. Pinkie's bright grin turned twenty degrees more victorious as Marshal's lips curled into a fond smile.
"Tastes absolutely rockin', Pinks. Thanks." He slowly reached out towards Pinkie's mane. Rainbow was about to warn her friend, but the triumphant grin on her pink friend's face suggested she knew what she was doing. Rainbow gulped, watching carefully, taking in every detail. Pinkie's triumphant grin quickly turned into a lopsidedly goofy smile as he curled his claws behind her ears and gave them a firm petting.
"Teeheehee, anything for you, Mash-Mash." Pinkie giggled, leaning into his claw, her ears twitching pleasurably under his ministrations.
His normally bright, sharp expression had gone completely mushy and googly-eyed, completely vulnerable and open to defeat. So he can’t resist scratching pony ears. Rainbow did a mental hoof-pump of triumph as she committed his weakness to memory.
She paused as she came to a sudden realization. If she was going to take advantage of his weakness she was gonna have to let him touch her ears with those claws of his. She frowned a little at the unsettling thought as she eyed an idle specimen resting on the table in front of her. She was gonna have to learn a bit more about this creature's weakness if she was gonna exploit it properly, she decided. Checking that he was still entirely distracted by Pinkie's ears, she leaned across the table and slowly inched towards exhibit A. At a glance it looked kinda like Gilda's talons, except all fleshy, soft and definitely less sharp. In fact the more she looked the less claw-like it appeared. She tilted her head to one side as she eyed the mysterious digits, her tail swishing to and fro in the air with the excitement of this new discovery.
Feeling particularly adventurous, she gave it a poke with the tip of her hoofsie. It twitched. She gave it another poke. One digit flicked up and gave her a firm poke in the nose.
"Bwah!" She squeaked, drawing back in a hurry. She went cross-eyed as she tried to peer down at the weird tingle tickling the tip of her nose. No matter how much she tried to scrunch or shake her nose it simply wouldn't go away. "Wh-what have you done to my nose?!" She demanded, pawing at her nose with both forehooves in a vain effort to shake off his strange alien magic.

“That was the one finger rocket boop, the strongest secret technique of an ancient school of martial arts that has been lost to a tragic succession war. It completely ignores all physical defenses, waving them as it blows by on its way to invade your very soul. First, you’ll feel a funny tingling in your nose.” He explained, casually. “Then it’ll travel down your throat, sensuously spreading across your withers and into your wings, caressing your primaries like a gentle preening.” Rainbow would’ve rolled her eyes at the excessively over-detailed description of his secret technique. But to her surprise, she could almost feel everything he was describing. Was it just her imagination? “Then you’ll start to get the most awkward wing boner ever.” Nope, not just her imagination! Wingies! Much wingies! “Then it’ll wriggle its way lower into your tush, invading deep between your rear legs to...” He suddenly paused, clearing his throat. “Heh, listen to me ramble, eh? Dunno what to do with myself, sometimes.” He chuckled. Nopony else in the bakery shared in his chuckle. They were all too busy straining their twitching ears, hanging onto his every word. You could hear a pin drop, or, indeed, a wing pop, even a few tail stirs and, dare say, thigh fidgets.

“Aw, c’mon!” One stallion in a corner groaned in protest. Cries and moans of agreement rang out across the bakery.

“It’s called a secret technique for a reason.” Marshal shrugged, unapologetically. “I can go on giving away all my secrets all day. But I prefer showing’em. And I know most ponies do too.” Pinkie purred happily as Marshal demonstrated more of his secret finger techniques on her ears.

“See, Dashie, all the secrets you could ever want.” Pinkie sighed happily.
'Heh, thanks Pinkie. Making him give away his secrets is easy-peas!' Rainbow Dash was on a roll. Her cunning was totally paying off in spades! Plus the warm prickling feeling in her nose wasn't unpleasant either. In fact it was kinda nice. Rainbow couldn't help but imagine what it'd be like to have that pleasant tingling all over her own ears as his hands ran through her mane, softly touching–
Rainbow blinked as she realized Marshal had stopped ruffling Pinkie's mane, the two staring at her own goofy drooling grin.
She gave a tiny whimper-squeak as she quickly wiped away the drooly grin off her face.
Fortunately, Marshal didn’t seem to notice as he nonchalantly segued into a completely unrelated question. "Say, Rainbow, you haven't touched your drink. Do you know how to drink a pop rock shake?"
"Huh? O-of course I do," Rainbow blurted out as she fought down her blush, "I w-was just waiting to see if you do. Y'know, just in case you need some help."
"How kind," he chuckled, reaching out for the bowl of candy and grabbing a whole bunch, "Well, cheers then." He raised the clump of candy to her in a toast before raising it to his mouth.
Determined not to be left behind, Rainbow quickly grabbed a large hoofful of her own candy and threw it in her muzzle. "Mmmmffff?!" Something popped in her mouth. Crackles burst across her tongue. A flurry of flavour tap-danced all across her muzzle like a blueberry-flavoured fireworks display. "MMMMHHH!" She whined, pointing plaintively at her mouth as the storm of crackly snappy blueberriness played havoc with her tongue and cheeks. Her eyes widened as she noticed him lower that hand of his, revealing an intact handful of candy. He hadn't eaten his at all. He tricked her!
"Calm down, Dashie. It's just pop-rock candy," he chuckled.
"MMHHMMMMHHHMMMM!" She pointed a deadly forehoof at him before miming something very violent and possibly lethal at him.
"Oooh! Oooh! I'm the bestest at charades!" Pinkie waved her forehooves in the air. "Nutcrackers? Hammers? Lots and lots of hammers?"
"I got it." Marshal grinned, "I think it's moon banishment. Either that or hot, kinky sex. I'm really liking my chances here."
"One second, lemme ask her in pop-rock-ese." Pinkie giggled, grabbing a hoofful of Marshal's candy and taking a bite. "Mmmhmmuuuhmm?" She asked Rainbow in her own native language.
"MMMMHHMM!" Rainbow flailed her forehooves in distress, her fluffy cheeks puffing up with all the crackling and popping.
"Mmhhmmmhumhumfrum." Pinkie nodded in sympathy. "Mmmmhmmhmm." She planted a reassuring forehoof on Rainbow's withers. "Mmh. Mmh mmh." She pointed at her own muzzle before swallowing slowly and deliberately, as if demonstrating how simple it was to a foal.
"Mmmm." Rainbow closed her tearful eyes tight and swallowed. "Fwaaaah!" She took a deep lungful of air. She allowed her blueberry-tinged tongue to hang out, sighing at the soothing feel of the cool air on her abused taste buds. "Wha da 'ay whazzat?" She demanded.
"Sorry, Rainbow, thought you knew the trick behind pop-rock shakes." He chuckled alongside Pinkie.
"Buk 'uu!" Rainbow snapped.
"Nope, sadly that's not the solution to everything." He grinned. "Here, lemme show you." He emptied her bowl of pop-rock candy into her mug of hot strawberry milk. The milk and melted marshmallow began to fizz and froth, turning a very cheerful shade of dark pink.
Rainbow watched in amazement, her tongue left forgotten for a moment.
"Pinkie makes the best pop-rock shakes. Go ahead, give it a try. It'll help with your tongue." He said.  
She didn't need telling twice. She took the mug in her forehooves and took a sip. Just as promised, the smooth marshmallows and milk immediately washed out the thick tangy taste clinging to her tongue. The fizzy strawberry and blueberry froth tickled and warmed her mouth with a pleasant buzz. It was like drinking cider; Smoother, richer and sweeter cider.
She gave a loud contented sigh as she set her mug back down, her pop-rock crisis quickly forgotten. "That was just…you know….” She waved vaguely at the air, as if fishing for words out of the ether.

Marshal came to her rescue with a Twilight-brand flash card. “Super-ultra-extreme-awesomemazing?” He suggested with a grin.

“Yeah, that! I’ll drink to that!” Rainbow giggled, raising her mug. Marshal met her midway with his own mug before joining in drowning themselves in pop-rock shakes.

The two gave loud sighs of satisfaction as they set their mugs down.  "Mmmm, I could just drown in this stuff and die happy." He sighed.

“Teeheehee, I tried that once.” Pinkie giggled. “It...wasn’t actually much fun. ” Her grin turned into a frown at the memory.

'Heh, he could die to this stuff, huh? So pop-rock shakes are one of his weaknesses. I got him now.' Rainbow sniggered to herself as she took a smug sip of her own shake. 'Mmmmmm, I could just drown in this stuff and die happy!' She felt herself melt into a puddle of goo inside. ‘Definitely can’t be worse than being imprisoned in someplace I’m banished to.’ She thought fuzzily. ‘Wait a sec, isn’t this supposed to be punishment? Why the drinks and the help with the book-sorting and everything?’ The milk-induced bliss dissolved in the sudden realization. She looked up at him suspiciously. ‘What is he planning, being all goody-goody with me? Huh, probably thinks he can lower my guard and get me again? Heh, I’ll beat him at his own game for once.’

He seemed to notice her staring into her own cup. “What’s wrong, Rainbow? Did you find Sombra hiding at the bottom of your cup or something?” He asked.

Rainbow’s mind worked so quick it could have given her sonic rainboom a run for its bits. “Hay, Pinkie, are evil dark overlords part of the recipe?” She asked, innocently.

“Hmm, nope. At least not yet!” Pinkie giggled. “Oooh, Dashie, you just gave me an amazing idea!” She exclaimed, suddenly bouncing away.

“You realize she’s gonna go stuff Sombra in a shaker now? What, that pop-rock meltdown not bad enough for you?” Marshal raised an eyebrow.

Rainbow took advantage of Pinkie’s absence to enact her plan. “I dunno, isn’t that the whole point of this whole punishment thing? This stuff isn’t trying hard enough to be prison grub.” She tossed up a leading remark while casually swirling her cup. ‘I’ll slowly tease more juicy info I can use out of him. Heh, he won’t know what’s coming.’ She mentally rubbed her forehooves together gleefully.

“That’s the point. Why build walls when you can trap your prisoners with good eats?” He grinned.

“So you take all your prisoners here?” She asked, slowly leaning in for the kill.

“Yep. The Cakes are pretty good at fattening’em up. Y’know, so I can eat’em out later.” He casually threw her completely off balance. “I do have a thing for fast food.” He went on, with the air of one commenting on the weather.

Rainbow had to bite her own cheeks to force down the rising blush. ‘Wait. Focus, Rainbow. He’s doing it again. Every time I try to dig up some dirt on him he just shrugs me off with something completely lame! But I’m not lettin’ him get away this time!’ She quickly recovered and put on her best ‘cool story bro’ look. “Sounds like a lot of work for a guard,” she said, “Don’t dungeons make it easier for you to catch a snooze on the job?”

“I prefer catching’em free-range.” He shrugged. But there was a twinkle of mirth in his eye, seemingly fascinated by Rainbow’s cool reaction.

“At the rate you’re going, you’ll sooner catch a cold,” Rainbow scoffed, “Is it really that much fun messing with me?” She launched her coup de grace.

He suddenly turned pensive at her question. She knew she had him.

When he finally spoke up again, he seemed more sombre, if just a little. “Did dumping Nightmare Moon on the moon for one thousand years turn her good?” He answered her question with one of his own. “Has one thousand years of collecting pigeon droppings as a lawn ornament turned Discord for the better? Did being tossed to the end of the universe for one thousand years do the Sirens or Tirek any good?”

“Wasn’t there this Egghead thing about trying insane things over and over expecting the same results?” Rainbow frowned.

“I just think leaving it up to somebody else like prisons, moons or big random numbers is a really half-assed way of saying you don’t care.” He shrugged. “If you’re gonna help someone, help’em. Don’t leave it until it’s… it’s too late.” He trailed off, turning even more thoughtful.

Rainbow’s ears twitched to attention at the sudden crack in his demeanor. She had expected to corner him into admitting that he was screwing around with her and her sentence, maybe even open up more leeway to retaliate. She certainly didn’t expect him to turn all brooding and stuff.

“Heh, I can’t believe you’re arguing the pop rock shakes,” he suddenly chuckled, his jovial mask back on, “Do you really have a problem with them?” His grin alone managed to promise a world devoid of pop rock shakes. “‘Cause I was thinking of ordering a second round, y’know.”

She quickly shook her head. He was suprisingly persuasive.

“So shut up and drink so we can get to that second cup,” he said with a chuckle...before the colour suddenly drained out of his face, “Scratch that, I think we’re about to have an actual problem with’em.”

Rainbow followed his gaze to find Pinkie approaching with two mugs billowing glowing purplish green steam. The steam curled into something that just about resembled a sinister grin.

Everypony in the store was quick to recognize another ‘baked bads’ incident in the making and stampeded for the nearest exit. Marshal and Rainbow suddenly became one in purpose as they pushed a window open and dove for dear life.

“Um, refills?” Pinkie called out after the customers quickly disappearing over the horizon. “Oh, okay then.” She shrugged, before downing her latest experiment.

“Are we okay?” Rainbow asked, peering down from a tree a good two hundred yards away from ground zero.

“I dunno,” Marshal said, peeking through a mailbox’s slot,  “Your butt tattoo would be buzzing if there were any friendship problems or apocalypses, right?”

They both eyed Rainbow’s butt carefully. It was thankfully devoid of any butt buzzing.

“I’m not waiting for my flank to start buzzing.” Rainbow whispered.

“Neither am I.” Marshal agreed.

They agreed not to wait for Rainbow’s butt to buzz. It was a start.

It was 7 PM when she finally gave Marshal a parting raspberry. As she took off into the darkening sky she couldn't help but feel a little pang of guilt. 'Darn it, I forgot to see Tank today!' She bit her lip as she looked down at the darkness swallowing up the earth below. No way she'd be able to make a safe landing in that forest in the dark. ’Sorry, little guy. I'll make it up to you tomorrow.' She sighed as she banked towards her home. She couldn't believe she hadn't thought of him at all that day. She couldn't help but spend the rest of the flight home wondering why.