• Published 1st Jun 2013
  • 27,264 Views, 1,385 Comments

Legend - Radiant Dawn

He was an average man in nearly every sense of the term, but his entire life is flipped upside-down when a push for a paycheck turns into something unexpected...something much more.

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Chapter 11: Back to the...Present?

Chapter 11: Back to the...Present?

The journey back to Twilight’s place was uneventful. I didn’t even need to speak to anyone as I left; there was already a carriage waiting to take me home. Honestly, I was kinda pissed off at the princesses for doing things as they had, so I didn’t feel it was a good idea to talk to them in my current state. I would allow myself a few days before chatting again. They’d understand.

Besides, I had more important things to worry about at the moment.

The carriage landed with a slight bump outside of the library, and I offered a curt nod and wave to the guards before walking towards Twilight’s home. It had only been a few hours in the “real” world, so I had to remind myself that it was likely only a little after noon. With that in mind, I knocked on the front door before entering.

“Twilight,” I called, shutting the wooden door behind me and glancing around, “I’m back!”

“Jamie?” shouted Twilight’s voice from somewhere in the library, and I was temporarily blinded as she teleported right in front of me. I felt as she threw her hooves around me and breathed a sigh of relief. “By Celestia, I’m so glad you’re okay. No pony knew what happened to you. It was like you just disappeared.”

I blinked my eyes a few times to clear my vision as I hugged her back. “Sorry about that. The princesses had something important they needed to speak with me about, and it was kind of urgent.”

She squeezed me a bit tighter before releasing me and dropping to the floor, and I just barely caught sight of her new wings flaring for balance with my blurred vision. “Well I hope everything went okay. Are you alright?”

I blinked one last time, my vision nearly completely normal again. “More or less.” I then looked down at Twilight and grinned. “Well now, look at you. Alicorn Twilight Sparkle.”

She ducked her head shyly and smiled. “I-it’s not really a big deal.”

I shrugged. “I guess not. There’s only the whole ‘you’re a princess now’ thing. And I’m sure Rainbow Dash is going to bug you until you let her teach you how to fly.”

Twilight rolled her eyes with a groan. “Ugh, don’t remind me. Rainbow Dash has already been by four times today. Four!”

I chuckled and walked over to the couch before planting my behind in the soft cushions. “Well what can you expect? You’re one of her best friends, and now you can be a flying buddy. Who knows? Maybe you’ll love it.”

Twilight fluttered her wings before they settled comfortably against her sides, then hopped up onto the sofa, sitting next to me. “I mean, maybe. I’m just...well…” she turned away as she mumbled, “I’m a little afraid of heights.”

I grinned and shook my head, patting Twilight on her shoulder. “It’s alright, Twilight. Anyone who can’t stop themselves from falling is likely to be afraid of heights. But you? You’ve got wings now. You can learn to soar through the air the way most can only dream of doing.” I then smirked. “Besides, it’s something new to learn. Aerophysics as it pertains to you personally could be pretty fun to learn about.”

She tilted her head at me in confusion. “What do you mean?”

I squinted my eyes into empty space as I thought for a moment. “Well...think of it this way:” I motioned to her horn and said, “maybe one day you decide you want to teach me about magic. Now let’s just say that maybe I find it the most interesting thing in the world. Nothing catches my attention like magic does.” I then gestured to myself. “But I can’t do magic. I can know the physics and math behind it, but unless I can feel it, there’s always going to be a huge part of the magical world that I’ll just never understand. See what I’m trying to say?”

I saw Twilight’s face scrunch up a bit in that cute way it always did when she was thinking, then she began to nod slowly as a smile overtook her face. “Yes, I think I do.” She then turned her gaze to me and bumped her shoulder into mine. “Thank you, Jamie.”

I nodded with a smile of my own. “No problem. Now,” I stretched my back and popped my neck as I stood, “I have to go get ready for tonight. Do you have any idea where Rainbow Dash is?”

Twilight quirked her eyebrow at me as she answered, “Yes, she should be at her house doing her monthly weather planning session.” She then gasped and smiled. “Oh that’s right! You’re going to Vinyl Scratch’s show tonight! I hope you have a lot of fun!”

I nodded gratefully at her before turning on my heel to the door. “Thanks Twilight. I’ll tell you all about it when I get back.”

As I shut the door behind me and once again stood outside, I was thankful Twilight hadn’t thought to ask me about my time with the princesses. Frankly, I didn’t want to think about it at the moment, as it would just piss me off, and Twilight didn’t need to see any of that. I needed time to cool off, and hopefully tonight would give me the ability to do that.

I broke out in a leisurely jog toward Rainbow Dash’s house (wow, never thought I’d refer to jogging as “leisurely”). The clean air of Equestria and the jubilant atmosphere gave me respite from my emotions, and for the entire journey to the cloud home of my friend, I didn’t think at all. It was a nice reprieve from my habit of thinking about everything all of the time, and I silently promised myself to do it more often.

Fairly quickly (faster than I expected, honestly) I approached the cloud home of Rainbow Dash. I was always at awe when looking at her house of cloud and rainbows, and this time was no different. For a few moments I just admired the beautiful structure before clearing my throat.


I waited a few seconds for my call to be heeded, and within moments a familiar cyan mare poked her head out of one of the windows of the tower. “Oh hey, Jamie!” She shot out of the window and did a little flip before hovering in front of me. “Where were you? You just kinda disappeared yesterday.”

I shrugged. “Princesses had something they needed to discuss with me in private and it was kind of urgent. With everything going on with Twilight and your cutie marks, I thought it best to just leave. Twilight had everything handled.”

Rainbow Dash nodded before gasping and squealing like a fangirl. “Did you see Twilight? She’s got wings now!”

I nodded with a chuckle. “Yep, I saw her. I talked to her a bit, and I’m confident that if you give her some time to think, she’d be cool with learning to fly from you.”

She giggled happily before throwing her arm around me. “You’re awesome Jamie, you know that?”

“I learn from the best, and I do hang out around you quite a bit more than the others.” I replied with a smirk.

She smirked right back as she said, “Damn right.”

I then asked, “So, are you busy tonight?”

Rainbow Dash inclined her head to her home above us. “Well I’ve got to set up the weather schedule, but that’ll probably take only another hour or so. Why?”

“Well,” I began, hoping she’d accept my offer, “I’m going to that club tonight to hopefully make up with Vinyl, and I’d appreciate it if you came with me. I’ve never been much of a clubber, and I’d really feel more comfortable if there was a friend by my side.”

Rainbow Dash seemed to consider my request for a moment before nodding vigorously. “That sounds awesome! Give me some time to finish my schedule and I’ll swing by Twilight’s place at...say, seven?”

I rolled my eyes with a smirk. “Careful Rainbow Dash, this is sounding an awful lot like a date.” Wait what? Why the hell did I say that? “I-I mean…”

I noticed a faint pink lighting up her cheeks as Rainbow Dash giggled in a more girlish way than I was used to from her. “Jamie, it’s cool. I know what you meant. Anyway, you need to work things out with Vinyl first. I’ve been in the middle of two friends fighting before, and it’s not something I want to relive.”

I chuckled faintly and nodded. “S-sorry about that. I just don’t want you to get the wrong idea is all.”

Rainbow Dash rolled her eyes and tapped me on the shoulder. “I get it. You’ve already explained this all to me, remember? So don’t think of it like a date, think of me like your wingpony as you make up with your not-marefriend.”

The implications and sarcasm in Rainbow Dash’s words weren’t lost on me, but I just nodded anyway. She was probably just messing with me, like usual. “Yeah, let’s go with that.” With it being months since I had seen her though, I couldn’t stop the next action and words from coming out. I reached up with my hand and softly rubbed her cheek in an adaptation of a pony nuzzle, smiling at her. “It’s good to see you’re alright, Rainbow Dash.”

She smiled fondly at me (an uncommon expression for the brash pegasus) and returned the gesture, but the way it was meant to be done. She then pulled away and released me from her grasp as she said, “Call me Dash, Jamie. We’re friends, so you don’t have to be so uppity like I’m a stranger or something.”

Those months locked away in that strange chamber had warped reality, and I had to remind myself that while I felt like I was getting reaquainted with her, it had only been a single day for Dash and the others. To me, it was like I was regaining something I had lost. I had to keep in mind that the others wouldn’t likely understand what I was going through at the moment.

“Anyway,” Dash said, fluttering above me, “I’m going to hurry up and finish my work and I’ll meet you at Twilight’s place later.” She then ran her hoof over my cheek and added, “You know, I never noticed how different you look with a beard. You should keep it.”

I brought my hand to my face, noticing for the first time that I hadn’t shaved in weeks. After the first few weeks in the training chamber with Shudder, I had chosen to just let it grow out. It wasn’t like I had anyone to impress, after all. Besides, beards are sexy. Regardless of the fact that I wasn’t expecting to meet any humans in Equestria, I kept it for my own enjoyment.

I rubbed my hand against my chin and nodded with a smile. “I think I will. Thanks, Dash. I’ll see you later then.”

She nodded before speeding back to her house, assumedly to continue her weather scheduling. I chose to go see Applejack, seeing as how I honestly missed her a little. While I didn’t have a job yet, my daily routine had consisted of heading to her farm to see if there was anything I could help with. Never before coming to Equestria had I believed that a feeling of uselessness could drive me to do work for free, just to feel worthwhile.

With that in mind, I turned toward Sweet Apple Acres, and began jogging toward the farm in the distance.

As I passed through the vast fields of Sweet Apple Acres, I couldn’t help but take a few deep breaths as I continued my trek. While the training chamber had somehow provided me with air, food, and water, the air had felt stagnant. There truly was no comparison to the crisp, clean air of the countryside. It made me wonder why I never lived in the rural areas of Earth.

Oh wait, technology. That’s why.

Still, not having a computer or any other “modern” Earth things was freeing in a way. I spoke to people a lot more, tended to be able to appreciate the outdoors easier, and generally felt better. Probably because I wasn’t sitting on my ass eating junk-food all day, but I was oddly okay without that stuff. Truthfully, if I had a choice between technology and what I had now, I’d actually have to consider it for awhile.

Besides, I had real friends now. Before coming to Equis, most of my “friends” were people I spoke to online in some way. I didn’t even know what their voices sounded like. Kinda sad, but then again that’s what my life was. Not to say I didn’t enjoy it at the time, but it’s just so different now. From what I understood, ponies had been around longer than humans had, but they didn’t need all our technology. They had magic and friendship, and they were happy that way. I had told Twilight of some of the things humans had, but besides being interested in a “brand-new thing” type of way, she seemed rather unconcerned with the technology itself. I realized that ponies didn’t need technology since they had magic, strength, and aerial agility to do the things human machines could do. They could move immensely heavy loads, move and manipulate things as well as hands could, and could project music or even images with magic. They had no need for anything humans took for granted.

For example: Applejack and her family’s unique way of collecting apples.

Humans either did the job by hand or employed machinery. The Apple family though? They didn’t need any of that. With just a swift kick, an entire tree could be cleared of fruit in one fell swoop. It was much faster than humans were capable of doing, and it was cleaner as well.

It took Applejack turning around face me for me to realize that I had been staring at her. Thankfully she seemed to be a fairly lax pony when it came to my societal fuck-ups, as she just smirked at me. “How’s tha view back there?”

I moved my gaze to her face and smiled sheepishly. “Sorry about that. Just admiring your apple-bucking skills. Humans can’t do anything like that.”

“So you’ve said.” she commented, wiping her brow with a hoof. She then trotted over to me and nudged me with her shoulder. “So where’ya been? Y’all just vanished yesterday.”

I shrugged. “Business in Canterlot. The princesses needed to speak with me about Twilight. Seems they want me at the coronation, so they needed me to get measured for a new suit.” I then raised my eyebrow as I asked, “So what do you make of Twilight’s new transformation?”

Applejack tilted her head a bit as she looked at me quizzically. “It’s a little different, but she’s still just Twi ta me. She said she don’t wanna be treated any different, so Ah ain’t gonna treat ‘er like anything but a good friend.”

“I think that’s a good idea.” I replied with a smile.

Applejack nodded before beginning to load the baskets into her nearby cart, which I helped with. “So,” she began, grunting as she pushed a basket toward the back of the cart, “what do ya got planned fer today?”

I shrugged before hefting one of the apple baskets up onto the flatbed. “I’m going to some club called the Pipelines or the Pipeworks or something. Dash is going with me to make sure I don’t make too big of a fool of myself.”

Applejack hitched herself to the cart and began pulling it toward the next round of trees. “Ah’m sorry, but ya’ll don’ really strike me as tha clubbin’ type’a guy. That’s more’a Pinkie’s thing.”

I chuckled and moved my arm in a windmilling motion to loosen the muscles (a habit I’d picked up during my training with Shudder). “You’re right about that,” I then sighed, smiling gently, “but it’s not about the club; it’s about Vinyl. I have to apologize for how I treated her. Whether she accepts it or not, I have to at least be able to say that I did try to make things better.”

Applejack didn’t turn to look at me again, but nodded. “That’s a good idea, Jamie. It’d be nice if more stallions took the initiative around here instead’a waitin’ for tha mares to take action.”

“Maybe they would if they weren’t bullied for not ‘acting like a stallion’ or ‘forgetting their place’.” I commented dryly, which caused Applejack to turn and frown at me with an unasked question clear in her eyes. I sighed and nodded, “Yes, it’s happened quite a few times. Twilight told me that I don’t have to worry about being beat up or anything, but it’s still frustrating to be treated the way I have been. Equestria’s males don’t know any different, but I do.” I then shrugged. “To everyone around here though, I’m just an alien, so I’m expected to be different. I guess that’s why I get more leeway on things.” Before she could respond, I held up my hand and smiled gratefully at her. “I know that none of you or the others see me that way, and for that I thank you. I wouldn’t be able to handle things without you all by my side.”

Applejack ducked her head bashfully as she scuffed the ground with a hoof. “Aw c’mon, Jamie. We were just doin’ what any good friend would do.”

I shrugged. “Maybe, but so few actually want to get to know me. So many want to talk to me just because I’m the ‘weird tall thing’, not because I’m actually interesting to them. It’s kinda sad, but it’s the truth.”

“Well, it’s their loss then.” Applejack spoke sternly. “If they ain’t smart enough ta see that we’re more alike than different, then they don’t deserve ta know ya. Let ‘em stew in their own ignorance, Ah say.”

I cocked my head to the side with a smirk. “I feel sorry for people who just think you’re a dumb hick. They’re missing out on a great pony.” I then kneeled and placed my hand on the blushing pony’s shoulder. “Thanks for putting up with me, Applejack. I know I’ve been a dick sometimes and I know I’ve been kind of a whiner. I just want to thank you for sticking around. Not everyone would have done that.”

“Well yer welcome.” she replied with a warm smile. She then shoved me away, still grinning. “Now y’all are stallin’. If ya got somethin’ so important ta do tonight, ya’ll need ta get cleaned up. Go on, git.”

I chuckled and nodded. “Alright alright, I’m going. I just wanted to say hey and make sure everything was alright. See you tomorrow, I guess.”

Applejack nodded, but said nothing else as she turned back to her work. I allowed myself another smile as I gazed at one of the few people in my life I could consider a friend, before turning and jogging back toward town.

After showering, trimming my beard and lining it up, and dressing, I found myself admiring my reflection in the mirror within the room provided to me in the library. As I looked over the man in the mirror, I couldn’t help but think one thing:

Damn, I cleaned up nice.

It wasn’t often in my life I had actually tried to look good, save for a job interview or meeting with a client. I hadn’t, however, ever actually “dressed up” to go out for a night on the town. I was a clean individual by nature, which meant that by default, I smelled nice and was hygienic. With that being the case, even when going on a date, I didn’t do much differently besides wearing a nicer outfit.

I looked at the mirror again.

But this...this was something altogether different. I was going to make up with a pony I had carelessly hurt, and was being escorted by another pony to make sure I didn’t do anything too jackass-y. Neither of them were potential romantic partners of mine (unless something in my life had changed and I didn’t even know it), but for some reason I felt that I should look my best. For some reason, I felt they deserved it.

Whatever. I’d think on it later, after a few drinks.

“Jamie? Can I come in?” I heard Twilight ask from just outside my door.

I continued admiring myself and nodded, not taking my eyes off the mirror. “Sure, come in. I’m dressed.”

The door creaked open, and a set of soft hoof-falls made their way around to my side before a slight creak of bedsprings told me Twilight had hopped upon the bed. Her face then peeked around my shoulder, and she smiled. “Wow. I’ve never seen you so dressed-up before.”

I eyed the simple navy-blue suit that Rarity had created for me, which I hadn’t wore until this moment. Though some parts of it were a little tight (as she’d had to adapt her knowledge of pony body mechanics), it was still very nice and the fabric breathed well. I opted to wear the collar open without the tie, which gave me a rather casual-yet-distinguished look. I’d always liked the look of a good suit, but this would be the first time I’d ever wore one to something other than a job interview. The suit had been Rarity’s “welcome to Equis” gift to me, and now I felt a little bad for taking so long to wear it. I’d have to swing by and see her when Dash and I made our way to the club, to let her know that I appreciated the suit.

I smiled at Twilight’s reflection and ran my fingers over the collar of the jacket. “I must say, I clean up pretty nice. I feel like I’m going to prom or something.” She looked at me quizzically, so I explained, “Prom is a major event that happens for twelfth-year students where I’m from. It’s kind of like the Grand Galloping Gala, but there’s usually only young people there and the most important people are students, not royalty.”

She nodded. “Ah, I see. The problem is, you don’t have a date.”

I smirked as I said, “Well, I kinda do. Dash is my date, so to speak. We’re not together or anything, but it’s as close as I can think to what she’s actually there for.”

Twilight raised her eyebrow. “Which is?”

I chuckled. “Basically to make sure I don’t do anything too moronic in public, and to distract Vinyl so I can run away if things go bad.” I then sighed and dropped my smile. “I really hope things go well. I kinda miss Vinyl.”

Twilight reassured me with one of her winning smiles. “If she likes you enough to openly express interest in you, I think you’ll be alright. She probably misses you just as much as you miss her. My only guesses as to why she hasn’t tried to apologize by now is that either she has too much pride and doesn’t want to seem weak, or she’s afraid of you for some reason. Personally, I’m leaning more toward the former than the latter.”

I scratched the back of my head nervously at her reminder of Vinyl’s apparent attraction to me. “Yeah...I’m still wondering how I’m going to handle the first part.”

Twilight gazed at me with confusion clear on her face. “What do you mean? I thought the two of you were friends.”

I nodded, raising my hands defensively. “We are, it’s just…” I sighed and sat back on the bed, and Twilight draped her head over my shoulder. “It’s just that I don’t really feel for ponies that way. It’s nothing against ponies, I just don’t really find myself attracted to any of you because of the difference in species.” I then looked to Twilight’s reflection. “I mean, if she were one of my own kind, I would jump on that. But she’s not, so it’s just awkward. I don’t find ponies ugly, but I also don’t really find myself attracted to you all either. Somehow though, I have a feeling Vinyl will take it personally. She’s kinda hot-headed like that.” I reached across my shoulder and rubbed Twilight’s cheek affectionately, not even worrying about such contact anymore. “I’ve come to realize that all of you mean a lot more to me than I thought. I don’t have family here, so you girls are all I’ve got. I don’t want to lose the few of you I consider friends, because I might not make any more. I’m pretty hard to get along with, and honestly I chalk the friendships I have now up to luck. Applejack found me, and the rest of you are all pretty close.” I absentmindedly ran my fingers through Twilight’s mane, enjoying the silky feel as I bore my worries to her. “It just kind of happened, and I can’t count on something like that happening again. I have to make sure that I maintain what I have.”

I felt a small smile creep onto my face as Twilight pressed herself closer against me, nuzzling my chest with her chin as she did so. It was a new development for me, but it was times like this that I enjoyed how tactile ponies were compared to humans. For a normal human, such contact would seem awkward unless the two were romantically involved, but for ponies this was completely normal between friends. It’s like on a base level, they just care more about each other than my own kind does.

“You know,” she began, her presence both calming and strengthening me, “you’re a lot less touch-shy all of the sudden.”

I froze, remembering that such a thing was likely strange for her. My time with Shudder had desensitized me to ponies as a whole, as well as their mannerisms. Still, I didn’t really want to reveal what had happened to her and the others just yet. A good time to do it would be after the coronation, when both of the other princesses were present.

So instead, I made up a small lie. “I just figure that if you all are okay with it, I can be too. Besides, it is kinda nice. You all have no idea how soft you fur feels against bare skin.”

Twilight giggled softly, her subdued voice making her sound very relaxed. “Well for future reference, we’re all perfectly okay with it. Truthfully, I would have preferred being closer to you, but I didn’t want to make you uncomfortable. It just felt odd for me to treat you like a close friend, but not be able to hug you when you were feeling down. It’s probably part of the reason Fluttershy seems so awkward around you. She just doesn’t know what to do if she can’t coddle somepony when they’re feeling sad or upset.”

I chuckled and nodded. “Yeah. She’s a good pony though, and I hope she didn’t take it personally.”

“She didn’t.” Twilight assured, locking her eyes with mine through the mirror. “She knows how uncomfortable you were at first, and if there’s one thing Fluttershy strives to do for her friends, it’s making them comfortable.”

I nodded before gently pulling away and standing. “Well, I have just enough time to head to the spa for my interview. Wish me luck, Twilight.”

She gasped and nodded. “Oh that’s right, you have a job interview today! Good luck Jamie!”

I waved my hand in farewell to her and quickly left the library, hopefully toward a new job and the true beginning of a home on this world.