• Published 1st Jun 2013
  • 27,267 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.

  • ...

Chapter 20: "The Wheels on the Bus Go..."

Chapter 20: “The Wheels on the Bus Go…”

Tuesday -- my first day of work at a pony spa -- came and went quickly, as did the remainder of the next few months. Just like the two spa twins had predicted, I was quickly becoming very popular among the regulars, and my unique talents began to bring in even more regulars. Rarity and Fluttershy, for example, were sure to be at the establishment together every Thursday, rain or shine. This wasn’t a problem per se, but let’s just say it quickly desensitized me to the body of a pony. With my increase in skill and experience, Aloe and Lotus decided to move my schedule to Thursday through Sunday, which meant I was trusted to handle the busiest times of the week. While I didn’t begrudge ponies for their hooves, sometimes I wish fingers didn’t get sore as quickly as mine did.

It seemed that somehow during the intensity of the recent past I had mentally misplaced the months, and found the weather steadily becoming cooler as autumn set in. This in turn allowed me to observe a very interesting tradition known as The Running of the Leaves, in which ponies race a marathon through the Whitetail Wood and parts of Sweet Apple Acres, the idea of which is that several hundred hooves galloping past the trees will knock down the dying leaves. While I understand the concept, the reason for knocking down the leaves still eludes me, and Twilight couldn’t seem to find anything concrete on the subject.

Rainbow Dash and I formally made up, and while she outright admitted to me that she’s still unsure just how the whole “magic-mind-manipula-thingy” (her words, not mine) affected her, she no longer felt uncomfortable being around me. True that it made me a little uneasy knowing one of my best friends felt that way about me, I had missed Ponyville’s rainbow wonder far more than I’d ever admit out loud to her. We all need friends that understand us it seems, and I certainly wasn’t going to turn away the Element of Loyalty.

While Twilight was taking things slow as far as reconnecting with the two princesses in Canterlot, Celestia and Luna had kept their promises by sending me letters on at least a weekly basis, though I received more from Luna than Celestia -- probably something to do with the fact that Luna tends to have more free time than her sister. Nonetheless, I did begin to feel more like a friend and confidant than just a subject or “the alien”. For better or worse, Equestria was my home now, and my friends were doing their best to be sure I settled in well. I will admit I found it rather odd to be speaking to two godlike beings as if they were just regular people, but it was indeed nice to know that underneath the crowns and pomp, Celestia and Luna were just regular ponies who wanted friends like everyone else.

Even with chaotically random visits by Equestria’s resident chaos spirit, life for me became much more stable and habitual, so much so that even the more cautious ponies of Ponyville now welcomed me with open arms and smiles. The young colts and fillies even took a liking to me, and as a whole I became as much a citizen of Equestria as any pony. I no longer felt like an outcast; no, I felt like a person that was important to those around me and had things to offer that no pony could. I’d never consider myself as important as Twilight or the other Element-bearers, but that didn’t mean I lacked a place within the world I now called home.

As far as hobbies and off-time went, I took to spending my days with different ponies whenever I had the chance, trying my best to fully integrate myself into this world. Vinyl and Octavia were a part of those I spent time with often, as I didn’t want to neglect two of my first friends on Equis. Beyond all that though, I had taken up reading, exercising, and stargazing as hobbies, and often could be seen doing one of those three activities in my leisure time. Even with Equestria becoming my official home, I had begun to actually make it feel like home now, and it was a good feeling.

With all this being the case though, that didn’t mean life in Equestria was without its hardships. Beyond having to teach Saiian to act a little more appropriately, the unfamiliarity of Equestrian culture sometimes slapped me in the face. While I hadn’t dealt with the latter in quite some time, I knew the almighty Murphey’s Law would make me its bitch if I let my guard down.

And something told me my time was coming soon.

I found myself casually filing and soaking the hooves of a young mare known as Ditzy Doo (or Derpy, as she was more commonly known) on a chipper Saturday afternoon, trying my best to do so in a personal manner while still keeping things moving. I was not the most outgoing person after all, and so I sometimes misunderstood the nuances between professionalism and distance; it could be difficult to make sure a client was happy without completely focusing on them, but in doing so I could make the mistake of abandoning others who were counting on me to provide services they paid for. It took some practice, but I learned very quickly how to balance several different clients at once while still providing excellent service. Needless to say, my bosses were quite pleased.

The young pegasus I was currently working on was one of Aloe and Lotus’ regulars, as well as Ponyville’s local mailmare. She was a little scatterbrained and goofy, but one would be hard-pressed to find a sweeter or more loving mare in all of Equestria, given what she’d been through. Besides having a lazy eye (which brought no end to both taunts and ill-mannered jokes alike), she had become a parent at a very young age, forcing her to leave behind her happy-go-lucky childhood to focus on being a good mother. In many ways, Ditzy Doo was a inspiration to me, since even with the hardships she had endured, she had remained kind even to strangers, and was completely without bias. She truly saw the world in a different way than most ponies did, beyond the obvious because of her condition, and offered counter views to everything I could think of. Personally, I wish I could have met her sooner.

“You alright there, Miss Doo?” I asked, placing her finished right hind hoof into the heated foot bath.

She nodded with a megawatt smile, her shiny blonde mane bouncing cutely. “Mmhmm! Thanks so much, Jamie!”

Hardly anyone in Ponyville called me by my legal name anymore, and Ditzy Doo was no exception. With a nod to her I announced, “I’m going to go and check on my other clients and I’ll be right back, alright?” My answer was a grin and nod, so I quickly made my way toward the mineral bath room, slipping on my sandals (thank you, Rarity) before opening the door and stepping in.

Two ponies sat in the heated, bubbling tub, eyes closed and content smiles on their faces. One was Octavia (who had made it a point to spend more time at the establishment since my hire), and the other was a mare I did not readily recognize. Still, I made it a point to treat all my clients the same no matter what, meaning that the unknown pony was going to get the same treatment Octavia did.

“Hello ladies,” I spoke aloud, though smoothly to add to the relaxing atmosphere, “how are things going in here?”

Octavia cracked open an eye and smiled warmly at me, raising a soggy hoof out of the water to wave. “We’re just fine here, Jamie. Minuette and I were simply basking in the ambiance, as it were.”

The named mare opened one of her sapphire eyes and smiled at me. “Thank you for the close care, Jamie.” She then popped her head up a bit more and swiveled her head around, her eyes and ears doing the same, before focusing back on me. “You didn’t hear this from me, but Aloe and Lotus were struggling a bit before you came around. Their service is always wonderful, but I could see they were stretched thin around here.”

Just then, a knock came from the door just before a familiar pink earth pony stuck her head in, smiling at me. “Hallo Jamie; would you please cohm to the frohnt for a meenet?”

I fought down an explosion of laughter at the completely fake accent Aloe gave me and just nodded. “Sure thing, Aloe.” I then turned my attention back to the two soaking mares and stated, “I’ll return shortly to check on you ladies; do enjoy yourselves and let us know if you need anything.”

I quickly followed Aloe into the short hallway leading to the front lobby and decided to bring something up that had been eating away at me recently.

“Okay, I have to ask: what’s with the accent?” I questioned bluntly. “Both you and your sister do it; I put off asking about it for fear of offending you or something, but after my time here I know for sure now that it’s not a natural accent at all.”

Aloe giggled softly and answered, “We do it to give a little more flair to the establishment. True that we don’t do it for every pony that comes through the doors, but the new clients and star-dazzled haughty ponies we get really like it, so we keep doing it.” She chuckled softly. “If some of these ponies learned that Lotus and I were born and raised in Ponyville, they’d never believe it.”

I cleared my throat and nervously scratched the back of my head before bringing up another question. “Pardon if this is personal or offensive, but your names don’t really fit the Ponyville style.”

Aloe bobbed her head a bit as she continued trotting ahead of me. “Our parents were from the far east, in a place called Bridlestan near the outer reaches of this continent. It’s not formally a part of Equestria, but is rather considered a neutral territory under its own government. Of course, Equestria and its princesses welcomed any and all ponies with open arms, and my parents saw a far greater potential for growth here than back where they came from, so here we are.”

While I had come to terms with many of Equestria’s city names being puns or a play on words, some of them still made me giggle.

I stifled my laughter as I continued following Aloe to the lobby, silently thanking the fact that ponies couldn’t read minds. As we entered the lobby I caught sight of a pale pink unicorn speaking with Lotus, immediately recognizing her not only by the cutie mark, but the unique body style that I had seen on so few non-alicorns before her.

“Ah, here he ees!” Lotus stated, motioning with her hoof to me as I made to stand beside the uniquely-tall pony. “Meese Fleur, thees ees Jamie; he veel be servicing you today.”

Fleur de Lis was a well-known supermodel in Equestria, recognizable not only by her good looks, but also her warm heart. She was truly a different breed of pony, not allowing her popularity or stature to affect her kindness. I had caught sight of a few pictures of her in magazines here and there, but never had I expected to meet her before.

Fleur turned to me with a bright smile on her face, batting her eyelashes playfully as she looked me over. “Ah, so this is the human of Ponyville; I just had to see you with my own eyes to believe it.” She then not-so-subtly looked me over, raising an eyebrow as she quickly darted her eyes back to my face. “And a male too? My, it seems the rumors were true after all.”

I furrowed my brow, purposefully keeping my voice calm and less-intimidating. “Is there a problem with the fact that I’m a guy?”

Fleur’s eyes widened briefly as she vigorously shook her head and hoof in tandem. “N-no no no, that’s not what I meant! I simply was making an observation!”

At her answer, I raised my hands in a calming gesture and chuckled. “W-woah woah, calm down. I’m not offended since you’ve explained yourself; I guess I just forgot that ponies don’t realize I’m a guy until I talk, usually. Honestly, I’m surprised you were able to pick it out just by looking at me.”

I had to remind myself that ponies were not shy when it came to bodies as Fleur quite obviously glanced down to my crotch. “Well, some things are the same no matter what planet you are from.” I cleared my throat and motioned with my hand for her to look up, trying my best not to be embarrassed. “Right, I apologize for that. Anywho, I thought that perhaps I could experience what so many ponies are talking about lately: the ‘Gem of Ponyville’.”

I raised my eyebrow again. “Is that a euphemism for sex?”

A snort escaped Fleur’s lips before she burst into laughter, which honestly was a little surprising for someone that was supposed to be so refined. She laughed for a good few minutes before wiping the tears from her eyes and smiling up at me. “No dear, not at all. Ponies in Canterlot and Las Pegasus have been talking about your unique talents, and I’d like to experience them for myself. I do hope I’m not imposing at all.”

I raised a hand to my face and rubbed my chin in thought before looking at Aloe and Lotus. “Ladies, how does my schedule look?”

Aloe smiled and answered, “Vee veel be able to take her tomorrow eef you are both villing.”

Again I killed a burst of laughter before it surfaced, looking back to the patient unicorn. “How does eleven o’clock sound to you?”

Fleur smiled at me once again and nodded. “That works wonderfully. Thank you for allowing a space for me on such short notice, Mr. Smith.”

I grinned and shook my head. “Please, just call me Jamie. I feel like I’m in trouble with the law when someone calls me ‘Mr. Smith’.”

My new client nodded once again before turning to the door and glancing back at me. “I appreciate it, Jamie. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

As Fleur left the building, Aloe glanced around briefly before dancing in place like an excited little filly. “NO WAY! We just scheduled an appointment for Fleur de Lis!”

My eyes briefly shot to the door that our new client had left through before asking, “Is she more important than I think she is? I mean supermodels on my world were pretty popular too, but other than walking down runways and showing off new fashions, they weren’t really good for much else.”

Lotus shook her head. “No, you don’t understand; Fleur de Lis is a supermodel, yes, but she’s also one of the ponies who took initiative to spearhead the campaign for both educational reform and gender equality.”

“That thing that happened shortly after you got here with the mare saying she was going to ‘rope’ you?” Aloe clarified, shaking her head. “Never would have happened if Fleur had her way. She was raised in a family with six brothers, so she knows firsthoof how old-fashioned things still are for stallions like you. Her views made her a little unpopular among some ponies, but for the most part she’s an inspiration and a beacon of hope for fairness and tolerance in Equestria.”

Lotus nodded with a smile. “Most of what’s changed as far as equality in Equestria is because of her, her mother, and her grandmother -- all of them fought for the same ideals, and Equestria’s benefitted greatly because of the changes they all helped make.”

I had always wondered why Celestia and Luna didn’t just make changes themselves when they saw something wrong with society, but then I realized that doing so would be a little too much like a dictatorship, and would earn them the disgust of the ponies that trusted them so much. I seems that both Equestria and Earth were similar, in that way: you can present your ideals to people, but you can’t make them change their minds.

I smiled gently at the thought of the unicorn that had just recently left. “I think I’m going to like that mare.”

The workday ended as it always did, with me being escorted home by Twilight and Spike. The two had made it a point to do so ever since the incident in Canterlot, even though I had advised them frequently that an escort was unneeded. Eventually I got over it, and just allowed the two to do as they wished.

The sun was just past the horizon, painting the sky in shades of red, violet, and indigo as the hour of twilight set in. Spike had fallen asleep, as he usually did at this time of day, which left me carrying the little guy back to the library as the day ended. Let it be said that even though Spike was snarky as could be and spoke sarcasm like it was his first language, there was no denying the little dragon was cute.

“I know he doesn’t show it much, but Spike really looks up to you.” Twilight commented softly, smiling at her surrogate brother. “There aren’t too many stallions around here for him to emulate, and I have to say, he couldn’t have picked a better role model.”

I shook my head with a frown. “I’m not a good role model, Twi. I pissed away most of my life on computers and video games, was severely antisocial, and avoided exercise like I owed it money.”

Twilight giggled at my comparisons, but shook her head with a smile as she glanced up at me. “Trust me Jamie, you’re a good role model. I wouldn’t be friends with a bad pony.”

“Person.” I corrected.

She rolled her eyes at me, something I never thought she’d do in response to a correction of verbal precision. “Whatever; the point is, if Spike could want to be like anyone, I’m glad it’s you.” She then flapped her wings and began hovering just in front of me, wobbling a bit due to her inexperience. “You’ve been through a lot, and I can see it’s changed you for the better. Your past doesn’t matter to me or the others -- who you are now is what’s important.”

“I think you’re making out my personal ‘evolution’ to be more profound than it is.” I retorted, frowning thoughtfully. “I’ve just been doing my best at playing the cards I’ve been dealt, honestly. Half the time I have no idea what I’m doing, and there are a lot of things that still don’t make sense to me.” I rolled my eyes and smirked at Twilight. “Figures; language is easy, but the ponies themselves are complicated as hell.”

Equiglyph -- more commonly known as Equestrian common script -- actually was quite a bit easier than I thought it would be, once Twilight taught me the subtle differences between it and english. Modifiers were made very obvious in the written word, and the alphabet had twenty-six characters, just like english. Because the rules were so similar -- and even an exact match, on some accounts -- to the ones I already knew, it only took a little over a month for Twilight to teach it to me. True that I was still no master when it came to reading Equestrian, as I still had to think about some words and sentences when they were written out, but I no longer had to wonder what a sign said or what books contained. Twilight’s teachings made life in Equestria much, much easier for me, and allowed a greater sense of “home” to suffuse me when I thought about it.

“We aren’t that complicated.” Twilight groused, her ears flattening against her head.

I shrugged. “I guess you’re right. Your body language is a lot more obvious, and familiar to me; a lot of the body language ponies use is shared with a longtime friend of humans: dogs.”

Twilight glared up at me, unamused. “Did you just compare ponies to pet dogs?”

I shrugged once again, jerking my head toward her as she floated beside me. “You’re furry and soft, use your ears a lot for nonverbal language, and prance when you’re happy.” I then smirked as I added, “And, you both love to get pet.” Twilight pouted, but I knew she wouldn’t be able to think up a valid response without sounding stupid. It was too cute, honestly.

“Oh, by the way, I met Fleur de Lis today.” I added with a smile, remembering the pretty, kind mare that had come by.

Twilight’s head raised in surprise. “Really? Wow...I’d heard she was coming to Ponyville, but I didn’t know she’d be here today. I would have welcomed her myself if I’d known.” Twilight shrugged as she wheeled to float by my opposite side. “I remember meeting her on a few occasions back when I lived in Canterlot -- really nice mare, and really beautiful too.” I stared at Twilight, surprised she had openly admitted to a mare being attractive. She looked at me and glared. “What?”

“I thought you ‘only liked stallions’.” I quoted, using my free hand for air quotations.

Twilight harrumphed and turned her head away. “I can appreciate the feminine form without being attracted to it, thank you very much.”

I smirked again. “You sure about that? You’re mighty close to a lot of mares, lately. Are you sure you aren’t getting a little action on the side?”

I clearly saw a faint dusting of a blush lighting up Twilight’s cheeks as she answered, “I’m a princess in a kingdom dominated by females, Jamie. No matter where I go, I’m going to be surrounded by mares.” She then huffed in annoyance. “Can we not talk about my lack of dating experience please?”

I shrugged. “Don’t feel bad; I’m pretty sure the rest of the girls haven’t had much experience on that avenue either. It’s not a bad thing, and I honestly couldn’t care less on the matter. It doesn’t change who you are -- you’re still a quirky little pony that’s prone to fits of insanity.”

“Funny guy.” Twilight grumbled before smiling at me and gently nuzzling my cheek. “C’mon, let’s get home before it gets too dark.”

As we reentered the library that evening, all was quiet and peaceful in Ponyville, which was a welcome norm nowadays. Granted Twilight and her friends had made things interesting to say the least, but I had been desensitized to their personality quirks over my time with them.

“I’m going to be away for a little while starting Monday.” Twilight suddenly announced just before we began ascending the stairs.

I raised an eyebrow at her in confusion. “What’s ‘a little while’?”

She fluttered her wings briefly before letting them settle onto her back. “I’m unsure exactly, but I’ve been thinking that I need to get started doing something to help out Princess Celestia and Princess Luna instead of just sitting here doing nothing.” She glanced back at me and clarified, “I’m not actually going to be gone, but I’ll be spending a lot of time out of the library; so much time, in fact, that you’re unlikely to see me much for awhile.”

I shrugged as we began heading to the second floor. “I’m a big boy, so I’m pretty sure I can handle myself. I have a job and money now too, so I can take care of things.”

Twilight nodded. “I understand that, but I don’t like leaving you alone. There’s no telling what could happen if we aren’t here to watch out for you,” she glanced back at me as I began to open my mouth to fire off a retort, “and it’s not your actions I’m worried about.”

I raised my eyebrow as I reached to push open Twilight’s bedroom door. “Do you really think someone would come after me in the middle of Ponyville? Besides the fact that your house is smack-dab in the center of the town, ponies around here are pretty wary of strangers. I don’t think someone would be able to get in without being noticed.”

Twilight sighed and shook her head. “I can’t take that chance, Jamie.” She then turned around and looked up at me. “I’ve requested an armed guard to watch over you in my absence; I think you know her, actually.” Twilight glanced toward the window before smiling. “If I’m correct, she should be arriving any second now.”

A tap at the window alerted me to the presence of a pegasus or alicorn outside of the window, but since it was unlikely an unknown princess was enrolled in the royal guard, I assumed the former. I gently set Spike down in his basket and covered him up before approaching the window and opening it wide, allowing whoever was outside the window to enter.

A faint gust of wind was all that accompanied the entry of a bat-winged pony in violet armor, who shook out its mane before looking up at me with a smile. “Heya, Lanky!”

My eyes widened in surprise as I answered, “Shudder? What the hell are you doing here?”

“I’m your armed escort, it seems.” she answered happily, glancing to Twilight. “Princess Twilight here sent a request to Princess Luna for protection to you during her time away, and I was chosen because of our prior contact.” Shudder removed her helmet and unclasped her armor, which fell away and revealed her true, feathered wings as she looked back to me. “Seems like the two of us are going to be bunking together until further notice.”

As I turned to Twilight, I honestly felt a little peeved by the fact she hadn’t told me sooner. “You couldn’t have mentioned this a few days or a week ago? I don’t mind, but I wish you would have let me know a little sooner than two days before.”

Twilight sighed and shook her head. “I’ve been planning this for awhile, but honestly, I was completely unsure if I was going to do it or not until tonight. Things are stable and safe enough here at home that I think I can get away without leaving Ponyville needlessly unprotected, and I want to be able to return as soon as possible.” She trotted the short distance over to me and reared onto her hind legs to embrace me, nuzzling my face as she did so. “I don’t want to leave Jamie, but neither should I put this off any longer. I just…” she began, only to sigh again and rest her head on my shoulder, “I feel like there’s something important I need to be doing, so I’m going to research what I already know as well as what I don’t, and attempt to be prepared if and when something should happen. The princesses didn’t make me an alicorn for no reason, after all.”

I nodded slowly, clasping my arms around her. “I understand, Twilight; do what you have to do. We’ll be fine and will keep Ponyville running smoothly while you’re gone, and the others can help too.”

Twilight pulled back to look at me, chewing her lip. “Um...the girls are probably going to be joining me for a lot of this -- Spike too.”

I stared at Twilight in surprise for a few moments before shrugging. “We’ll figure something out. If you feel like you need to do this, I’m behind you 100%.”

She smiled briefly before resting her head against mine. “I knew I could count on you, Jamie.” Twilight reluctantly pulled away before stating, “Shudder will be sleeping in your quarters tonight, if that’s okay. I have to leave early in the morning to run a few errands, and I don’t want to wake you up if I don’t have to.”

I chuckled despite the situation. “I haven’t slept in for months now, Twi. Tell you what: I’ll cook breakfast tomorrow and we’ll have a nice meal together so you can get energized for whatever it is that you need to do.”

Twilight smiled warmly, her cheeks coloring as she nodded. “I...I’d like that. I’ll see you at dawn tomorrow, then.”

I nodded in response before turning to my new guard, who was holding her bundled armor in her mouth. “Well, let’s get to bed then; we’ve got things to do tomorrow.”

Shudder and I left Twilight’s room and made our way downstairs toward my room. I glanced briefly at the full moon shining in the window before leading Shudder to our sleeping quarters. Upon arriving she unceremoniously dumped her gear onto a chair in the corner before turning to me and cocking her head to the side.

“So where’s this Saiian character? Princess Luna advised me that she’d be here as well.” Shudder questioned curiously.

Glancing out of the corner of my eye and seeing Saiian appear out of thin air beside the pony, I motioned to the corner the elemental stood in. “She’s actually an internal elemental, so you can’t see her. However, I can see her beside you and-”

I stopped as Saiian began making faces at the confused pony, a smile growing on my face as she began foolishly making lewd gestures.

Shudder just looked even more confused. “What the hay are you smiling at?”

I snorted a laugh to keep from exploding and just waved my hand in dismissal. “Nothing, nothing. Anyway, Saiian’s not a threat or anything, so don’t worry about her. Let’s just go to bed and we’ll start working out things tomorrow.”

Shudder stared at me for a moment before shrugging with her wings and reaching a hoof into her pack on the ground, pulling out something and quickly tossing it into her mouth. She then swallowed with a grimace and hopped onto my bed. “Well, let’s get to sleep then.”

I raised my eyebrow before pulling off my shirt and pants, folding each and tossing them on the dresser across the room. “What was that you just took?”

“Sleeping pills.” Shudder answered simply, walking around in a tight circle before planting her rump on the bed. “I’m a night guard, and we don’t usually sleep at night. I have to reverse my circadian rhythm naturally, but I need to sleep to do that; that’s what the pills are for. For the next few days, I’ll have to take them to make sure I sleep at the same time you do.”

I raised my eyebrow in confusion. “Won’t it be a little counterproductive to sleep when you’re supposed to be protecting me?”

Shudder chuckled before shaking her head. “If somepony is quiet enough to get in without waking me up, they deserve to get to you. Not even a unicorn can get past me.”

I rolled my shoulders briefly before making my way to the bed and slipping on my pajama bottoms and shirt, which rested on the bedspread. “Awful confident, aren’t we?”

“Princess Luna only sends the best to protect those she cares about, Jamie.” Shudder countered with a smug grin.

I playfully messed with Shudder’s mane as I took a seat and slid my way under the covers, chuckling as the pony grumbled and shook her mane in an attempt to restore some sort of organization to it. Just to spite her, I did it again, and laughed when she reached over and did the same thing to me. Shudder then stuck her tongue out at me before curling up at my feet and wrapping her tail and a wing around herself.

Yep...totally not like dogs.

The space to my right became occupied by Saiian as she lay down beside me, as had become commonplace in the most recent days. I hadn’t thought it would be plausible that me, a short-lived human from Earth, would have anything to teach someone that had seen the birth of an entire planet and the thousands of years that followed, but it seemed there were some things even Saiian needed to learn. For example, she learned very quickly what was appropriate even between friends, as well as what I personally would allow regarding teasing and the like. However, besides all that, she had slowly learned just how pleasing it could be to be held by another, and the merits of my recent change of heart toward the platonic communal sleeping arrangements.

My assumptions about the latter regarding Saiian’s feelings on the matter were confirmed when I wrapped my arm around her and she let out a very soft, very pleased-sounding sigh. I reminded myself that Saiian had likely gone longer than I could imagine without even being in contact with the physical world, so something so mundane as a touch on the shoulder was likely amazing for her. It stands to reason then that me willingly inviting her to sleep next to me, and holding her as I did, felt...well, likely indescribable for her. I would never again make the mistake of thinking I knew what someone was feeling about something, but her actions and behavior around me spoke for themselves, really.

“Comfy?” I questioned rhetorically as Saiian shifted to be as close to me as possible without being lewd (which is a fine and very pleasant line, I’ll have you know).

Just as I had become a bit numb to how strange it should have felt having someone in bed with me, I had become similarly desensitized to the feeling of Saiian’s generous curves pressing against my body. Saiian shifted ever so slightly and looked up to me to answer, “Quite, thank you. I honestly pity the way your native culture views sleeping practices, to be honest.”

“I was just like that not too long ago.” I replied, shifting my arm to rest on Saiian’s hip instead of her stomach, since there were two no-no zones within a foot of each other. Granted she probably wouldn’t care either way, but I didn’t want to feel up my bedmate if there wasn’t any chance for...well, release.

Saiian smiled at me, nodding against my chest. “I know, but this world has changed you; for the better, I might add.”

“You’re a little biased missy,” I chimed playfully, “but thank you. I only hope that things will get better from here on out.”

Saiian nodded before staring at me, as if looking into my soul. “They deserve to know about the past, you know. They’re your friends; they’ll understand and accept you no matter what.”

I stared right back at her as I thought silently for a few moments. After considering my options I answered, “Soon, but not just yet. It just doesn’t feel like the right time.”

Saiian pouted a bit, blowing air out of her mouth and causing her bangs to flutter wildly for a moment. “You can’t put this off forever, you know. If you ever want to fully move on from Earth, you need to let it out and let the past die once and for all. Your past shouldn’t control you; it should merely show you where you’ve come from.”

Saiian was right, of course. Though playful and downright frustrating sometimes, she was far wiser than I was, so I would be a fool to turn down her advice thoughtlessly simply because she acted immature from time to time. My time in Equestria had taught me to look beyond the obvious, and the abstract told me that Saiian’s words could be trusted.

Making a decision there and then, I answered with conviction and confidence I didn’t know I had.

“Tomorrow then.” I whispered, my mouth dropping open in surprise at my own words. I glanced down to Saiian and narrowed my eyes. “Did you just influence me?”

Saiian’s brow furrowed and she shook her head. “No, I didn’t. That was all you, Jamie.” She frowned deeper as she asked, “Does that mean you’re not going to?”

I dropped into silence again as I thought carefully. After pondering the pros and cons of my choices I answered strongly. “No, it doesn’t; if that really did come just from me, maybe it is time everything’s laid out on the table. It hasn’t been fair to make them all wait this long, but I didn’t want to freak them out or anything -- ponies aren’t used to the kinds of things that happen on Earth every day.”

“Have more faith in your friends, Jamie.” Saiian chastised gently, tapping a finger on my sternum. “I think these cute little ponies just might surprise you if you give them the chance.”

I rolled my eyes with a playful grin. “Whatever, you old bat.”

“Stupid monkey.” she retorted, grinning as well.

We stared at each other for a few moments before I whispered, “Goodnight, Saiian.”

My elemental bedmate smiled right back, her eyes shining faintly in the moonlight. “Goodnight Jamie. Sleep well, and may your dreams be calm and pleasant.”

Tomorrow would bring more interesting things for all involved, but for tonight, I simply enjoyed having two friends nearby that cared about me and I knew would always look out for me -- not that the others wouldn’t, but…

My bed can only hold so much awesome.