• Published 1st Jun 2013
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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 24: A True Friend

Chapter 24: A True Friend

Monday came, as days usually do, quietly and without fanfare. Though it was to be a day with one very obvious difference compared to the rest of the time I’d been on Equis, waking up was still a chore, though noticeably less so due in part to that difference.

Slowly, the waking world welcomed me into its embrace, and I cracked open my eyes and fluttered them a few times to wake myself. Contrary to the norm, however, I felt myself being held tightly from behind, and the warm breath of another was tickling my neck. It was...nice. That’s really the only way I can explain it, since this would be my first time ever being “the little spoon”, and the first time I’ve felt completely at ease waking up in Equestria.

I glanced down and smiled at the sight of Saiian’s arm wrapped protectively around my bare stomach, and gently lifted it away as I moved to sit up. Tilting my head from side to side, I enjoyed the release of tension from the pops in my neck. I did the same type of procedure with my back before standing, pulling the shirt down over my midriff and padding quietly over to the door to exit the room.

Seeing as how Aloe and Lotus had been kind enough to give me the previous day off, I felt quite rested, and my mood only increased with a hot shower. I did, however, have to wash my clothes by hand and hang them up to dry, as I currently only had two outfits that would comfortably fit my new body, but that was a minor inconvenience. As it was, I had the affection of a wonderful person that just so happened to be an elemental, and she was just as much my companion as she was my protector. While I was sure life on Equis was never going to be completely calm, for the moment, it was quite good.

After donning some of my other clothes, which were practically hanging off of me, I shuffled into the kitchen and prepared some coffee for the house -- it would mark one of the few times I was awake before Spike, and I was subtly proud of myself for that. A few minutes later, the sound of soft wingbeats could be heard approaching, and simply from the rhythm, I could tell it was Shudder. I was greeted with a short nuzzle as she passed, and she went to preparing her mug for coffee, with plenty of sugar and cream.

“Good morning.” I mumbled, still not fully awake. Shudder replied with a toss of her head and a smile, and the kitchen was free of anything but the sound of the brewing coffee. I simply enjoyed the quiet, as I could use some peace considering the past few days. I knew it couldn’t last, with my life being what it was, but I was going to enjoy the momentary lull in activity as much as I could.

Seeing as how I didn’t currently have much else to do, I thought it would be a good idea to keep my body in shape, so I rolled my shoulders before doing a vigorous jog in place to get the blood pumping. After only a minute or two, once my body was warm, I continued my exercise by dropping to the floor outside the kitchen and beginning to do pushups. Shudder was quite familiar with my workout regimen, even though it didn’t make much sense to a pony (different body shapes, and all that), so she only watched silently as I went through my morning workout. Twilight, however, had no problem voicing her confusion.

“What the hay are you doing?”

I looked up at her, still continuing my workout, and answered, “‘ello, love. You all right?”, in a very poor British accent. Regardless of my bad acting skills, it had the desired effect of causing Twilight to tilt her head in that cute way that ponies did when they were thoroughly confused by something (which, curiously enough, was one of many behaviors they shared with pet dogs and cats; more adorable research is required to find a connection, if it exists). Shudder, on the other hand, was poorly hiding giggles behind her hoof.

“Is there a Trottingham on Earth as well?” Twilight asked with a wiggling of her ears, the latter of which I refer to as her “science sense” being tickled.

I chuckled a bit as I finished my set of twenty, then stood and answered, “It’s a safe bet that where I come from has all the same languages that Equis does. Written word is different, but I haven’t heard an accent here yet that I can’t place somewhere back on Earth.” I began stretching out, beginning by grabbing my ankles as I folded in half, quickly noticing that the female body seemed to be more flexible compared to a male’s (i.e. my real body). This allowed a much wider range of motion than what I was used to, which served to make stretching much easier. Just to see if I could, I tried to drop down into front-to-back splits, and got much closer to the ground than I could as a male. I would always want to become a male again, but I’ll admit that the body of a female already had a few positives going for it.

Twilight watched me for a bit longer, a slight blush crossing her face, before she shook her head hard to compose herself. Looking to me with an apologetic glance, she reminded, “I’m leaving today, Jamie. I’ve ensured there’s plenty of food in the kitchen, and I’ve brought all my emergency gear up for you, just in case something bad happens.” Her horn glowed brightly as many items began to float into the room behind her, including a raft and paddle.

“...Twilight, why do you have all this?” I questioned, picking up what looked like a flare from the pile.

“To be prepared.” she answered, as if it were the most normal thing in the world.

I grabbed a parachute, holding it up and staring at her with a thoroughly amused expression. “And when would you need to use this on the ground?”

“I had a really bad nightmare one time when I was a filly, living in Canterlot.” Twilight explained, continuing to take inventory of all the supplies. “It was right after my first mana surge, the day following when Princess Celestia took me on as her personal student. Even before my surge, I was still learning to control my magic, so having a surge...exacerbated things.” She levitated what I could easily identify as what I knew were a few “space blankets” into my hands, which I set aside for now. “I’m sure you’ve noticed that a unicorn’s emotions play a large part in their ability to use magic, and while it can lend unimaginable power in a life-or-death situation, that, combined with a lack of basic control, can cause...interesting things to happen. Thankfully, I didn’t transform anypony into potted plants again,” I snorted a laugh at that, “but I did teleport myself a few thousand feet into the sky in my sleep. Luckily, Princess Celestia felt the discharge of energy and found me before I could hit the ground, but from then on, I tried my best to prepare for crazy possibilities like that.” By this point, everything she had brought up from the basement was separated into piles, so she levitated a clipboard over and began checking over everything. “I placed a spell on it that linked it to my physical body so that, if it was close enough, it would be teleported with me if I had another accident like that. I kept it under my bed until I acquired wings. Of course,” she paused to wiggle her wings in the air, “with these, I don’t need it anymore. I might not be all that great at flying yet, but gliding is pretty easy, and I placed a spell on myself that will flare my wings wide should a sufficient amount of wind be detected passing through my feathers by my brain. The shock alone would wake me up, and I’d be able to safely glide the rest of the way to the ground.”

I could only raise an eyebrow at this, both amused and impressed that Twilight had such forethought. Then again, I suppose the threat of a sudden and painful death would be enough for anyone to make a plan to prevent it.

“...okay, so maybe that was a good idea. Why would I need it, though?” I asked, as I was fairly sure I couldn’t teleport...or, “Wait, did you find out I can teleport or something?”

Twilight giggled and shook her head. “No, Jamie, you can’t teleport. What was it you told me that humans said about being prepared?”

Caught against my own words from months previous, I sighed and recited, “Better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.” I nodded in defeat. “All right fine, I guess it couldn’t hurt to have this stuff. It just seems...silly, but whatever.”

“And you can call it silly,” she replied with a grin, “but if preparation -- no matter how strange it seems -- can save a life, then I’ll do it.”

I gave a childish pout. “I hate it when your logic makes sense. Well fine, I guess I can deal for the time being.”

“After I take stock of everything, I’ll move it back to the basement, where you’ll be able to find whatever you need, since I’ll make sure it’s organized this time.” Twilight finished, standing up and beginning to slowly walk around as she continued to appraise the many things spread out before us. “I’m confident that First Lieutenant Shudder can handle keeping you safe, but it doesn’t hurt to be doubly prepared.”

I nodded before heading to the kitchen again, calling back, “Had breakfast yet?” A quite audible stomach growl from a blushing alicorn was my response, so I laughed and set out to make us a quick breakfast that we could eat together before she and Spike left. Besides that, it would be nice to actually have a sit-down meal with everyone, as we didn’t do it nearly enough, in my opinion. I wasn’t exactly a five-star chef, but I knew enough to make something that tasted good and wasn’t burnt, so I set about gathering up some ingredients to cook us something to eat.


I stood with a frown in front of the bed, frustrated, since Saiian was absolutely refusing to wake up. Every call, poke, or shove went unheeded, and I couldn’t help but imagine that this must’ve been what I was like after a long night of drinking. Saiian, however, didn’t have the excuse of alcohol -- she was just enjoying sleep too much. I couldn’t fault her for the desire to get a good, long sleep (I had fought with Twilight over the same, a few times), but I slaved over a hot stove, and dammit, she was going to partake of the fruits of my labor.

Even though I was frustrated, I couldn’t help but subtly admire her body, but that was neither here nor-

Wait…

As I traced the contours of her jaw and throat, I noticed the bruise I caused the previous day by biting her...and from that, I formulated a plan.

She did wake up from that, after all, right? Well, there was no sense in getting boring by doing the same thing, so I decided to “turn it up to 11” by using the liberties offered to me by my new relationship to make sure this was a wake up Saiian would enjoy, that would work.

I crawled onto the bed and over Saiian, lying chest to chest on top of her, and just looked at her for a few moments. Despite her mischievous personality and propensity to disregard boundaries, there was no denying that Saiian was a unique, interesting, beautiful creature. I mean, I had to be honest: the physical was very difficult to ignore, and she had quite a bit to flaunt. Even from the very first moment I saw her, I thought she was gorgeous, and being able to know I was touching a real person now just made it even better. For a few more moments, I was content to just admire the living art before me.

“Okay,” I muttered after a minute or so, “time to wakey wakey, sleepyhead.”

I settled my weight on top of her, only supporting myself on my elbows, before leaning over and nipping playfully at the non-bruised side of her collar, just enough for my canines to leave little indents when I pulled away. She let out a groan in her sleep and squirmed, subconsciously wrapping her arms around my lower back. I could only grin at her from my current position, then leaned down again and put a little more force behind my next bite. This forced a gasp from her, and finally, her eyes began to roll around before opening slowly. And then, acting on impulse, I descended and locked my lips with hers, forcing a surprised-yet-pleased hum from her throat. For the first time, I completely surrendered myself to the sensations, the warmth, that I felt. I kept the kiss short and simple, but it was still quite nice, and Saiian’s pleased expression showed that she agreed.

“Mmm…” she hummed again, smiling with her eyes still closed, “if there’s a better way to wake up, I can’t think of it.”

“Probably can’t think of much of anything, right now.” I commented slyly. Though she couldn’t see it, I tossed my hair and winked at her. “Yeah, I have that effect.”

Saiian let out a soft giggle and tapped the back of her fingers on my shoulder. “Dork.” She opened her eyes and stared back at me, lifting her hand and running her fingers through my bangs. “I won’t lie and say that I think you should stay a female, but lady-Jamie is definitely a looker.”

“It isn’t worth losing my dick.” I deadpanned, but then grinned at her. “Still, glad you approve. I’ll be sure to use your attraction against you more often, then.”

She sighed dramatically, rolling her eyes. “Well, if you must get revenge on me for the teasing I’ve given you, I suppose I can’t declare injustice on those grounds.” Saiian then glanced off to the side as she mumbled, “...and thanks for last night. You helped me see that heeding my calling doesn’t mean I have to deny the both of us what we want. Thank you for having the fortitude to make me see I was being stupid.”

I reluctantly pulled away and stood, shrugging. “Eh, I’m the impulsive one here, so I’m sure you’ll be able to tell me the same plenty of times.” Reaching out and taking her hand, I pulled her up with me. “C’mon, I made breakfast and coffee. Twi’s leaving today with Spike and the other girls, so I want us to have a meal together before she has to go.”

Saiian went silent and let me pull her along. After a minute though, she quietly observed, “...which means we’ll have this place all to ourselves.” I didn’t need to see her face to know she had a lecherous smile.

“Don’t forget about Shudder.” I reminded blandly. “And besides that, I’m not really comfortable getting too hot and heavy as a woman. Not to say it won’t happen -- since I don’t know exactly how long I’m going to be this way -- but it’s going to take some time for me to ease into that.”

Again Saiian went silent as I continued to guide her down the hallway, but I knew her well enough to know she would have something else to say to tease me further. I held my metaphorical breath waiting for it, but when it didn’t come, I relaxed a tad and just kept walking.

“...do you think Shudder likes to watch?”

SAIIAN!


Even with having to fight down a blush due to Saiian’s comment before we entered the main room of the library, the breakfast was filling and conversation was light and friendly between all of us. Twilight explained that the location she and the girls were going to explore would be the ruins of the Castle of the Two Sisters, from where she hoped to salvage some of the ancient lore and knowledge there. She claimed that Princess Celestia herself told her that she and Luna hadn’t returned to the site since the day Luna was cleansed, and were going to allow Twilight full credit rights to whatever discoveries she found there. She made it quite clear to me, though, that she was most interested in the private spell collections the Two Sisters kept, hoping that she might find a remedy for my “ailment”. I was well aware of how dangerous the Everfree Forest alone could be, though, so I made her promise me that she would bail if things became too dangerous for them. Regardless of my predicament, I didn’t want my friends needlessly endangered.

Shortly after breakfast, the rest of the girls arrived, and I bid them all a safe journey before they left...as well as explained just why Saiian was sitting in my lap, idly running her fingers through my hair. To say that it was a shock to them would be a mild understatement, but most of them took it in stride and congratulated me. The odd one out on the congratulations was Rainbow Dash, who looked distinctly hurt, even though she tried to play it off. I’d have to have a word with her at some point, but that could wait until after she returned from their expedition. I had a feeling Vinyl was going to feel similar, and that was a conversation I wasn’t looking forward to.

Twilight also hadn’t mentioned anything about her goodnight kiss to me, nor did she even seem to remember it, so that was a load off my mind. I already had two ponies’ hearts that I had to break, and I didn’t want a third, if I could help it.

Anyhow, with breakfast and the congratulations finished, the girls packed all their supplies up and prepared to leave, and Twilight began lecturing me like I was a five year-old.

“...and don’t forget to douse the hearth before you go to bed. I have wards to protect against a fire, but I’d rather not test them.” she warned as she read off scroll. She had a fucking list. “Also, make sure the cold box is shut all the way -- the door sticks sometimes, and the cooling enchantment’s energy could be wasted if-”

“TWILIGHT!” I shouted, stunning her and the other six ponies standing around us. I didn’t mean to shock them, but dammit, I wasn’t a kid, and I was done being lectured about common sense after ten minutes. I kneeled in front of the alicorn and cupped her face in my hands, smooshing her cheeks together. “Twilight, be cool. I’m not a foal, plus I’m sure Shudder and Saiian will be alert in case I do forget something, which is unlikely. Go out with the girls --” a snort caused me to add, “and Spike -- and just stop worrying. I’ll take care of the place, and I promise it’ll still be standing, and clean, when you get back.”

“B-bhut whut uf-”

I almost giggled at Twilight’s smoosh-speech, but just barely fought it down (Shudder did not). Instead, I shook my head and assured, “Twilight, I’ll be fine. I’ve lived on my own for most of my teenage and adult life, and I know how to work all the appliances in the library. I got this, Twi. Go out, do your thing, and trust me to take care of the place. Trust me to be a big girl and not burn the place down or something -- give me a little credit, please.” I was a little disturbed by the fact that referring to myself as a girl did not disturb me...which is a backward kind of weird. Brushing the feeling off, I let go of Twilight’s face and scratched her behind the ear, earning me an adorable little whinny, and I did giggle this time.

Realizing what she’d just done, she batted my hand away with a wing and smoothed down the fur of her blushing cheeks before locking her gaze with me again. She was silent for a few moments before sighing and looking to the ground. “All right fine, I’m sorry. I know First Lieutenant Shudder and Saiian are with you, but I still don’t like the idea of leaving you here.” She did a cute little breathing exercise before glancing back to me and smiling. “But you’re right, and I do trust you. Just be careful, please. I don’t want anything to happen to you.”

“I should be saying the same, you know.” I replied with a grin. “I’m not the one waltzing deep into the Everfree, after all. Guess we’ll both need to keep an eye out, huh?” Acting on impulse, I extended my arms wide for a hug, only to be surprised when Twilight moved forward to embrace me wholeheartedly. Again, Twilight had never been distant with me, but she wasn’t typically as physically affectionate as some of the other ponies in my life, so this was an odd, but not unwelcome occurrence. Nonetheless, we both held the embrace for a few seconds before releasing, and nodding to each other silently.

I watched Twilight as she gathered up their things and began to lead her friends toward the edge of town, each one of them glancing back and waving at least once (Pinkie doing so while bouncing on her head). I returned the farewell and watched them go, thinking silent words of protection and good luck to them as they went on their way. I knew it would only be two or three days at most before I saw them again, but I still worried nonetheless.

“They’ll be fine, Jamie.” Saiian voiced from my side, her fingers lacing in my own. As I kept my eyes locked on the ponies fading into the distance, she assured, “Twilight has a good head on her shoulders, and the others will look after each other. Remember: regardless of who you’ve gotten to know, they are, in fact, six national heroines who have dealt with more than their share of tough circumstances.”

“And I know she doesn’t look or act like it,” Shudder weighed in, “but Princess Twilight was trained by her brother for years before she came here. One of the sweetest mares you could hope to meet, and you’d never know she could drop you before you even had a chance to do anything, with or without magic.”

That came as a surprise. “No shit?” I just stared at the pegasus for a moment before looking back to the road, and I couldn’t see the group anymore. “Well, I guess she’ll be better off than I would be.”

“True,” Shudder acquiesced, “but then again you look like more of a threat. You’re much larger, your teeth are sharper, your eyes better, and your scent projects ‘predator’ to anyone who smells it. Deterrence is just as important as force, in a dangerous situation; you don’t have to fight if you can scare others away.” I felt as she hooked her hooves over my shoulders, and her chin lay on top of my head as a steady breeze ruffled my hair. “Plus, y’know, I did give you some skills to protect yourself in case somepony is stupid and lucky enough to get past me and Saiian.”

I let out a single snort of laughter, reaching up and patting Shudder on the head. “You all know how to make me feel looked-after, that’s for sure.” I mentally shrugged, turning and beginning to walk in a random direction. “Well, let’s go see what trouble we can get into without getting arrested.”

“I’m obligated to place you under arrest if you break the law.” Shudder warned, though I could hear in her voice it was playful. “So that means no theft, no kidnapping, and no public orgies.”

I rolled my eyes at her words, firing back with, “Way to take all the fun out of life.” I slumped my shoulders theatrically and began trudging down one of the side streets. “I guess we’ll have to save the weird and wonderful for when Twi gets back, then.”

Silence settled around the three of us as we continued walking the town. The ponies in town that weren’t at work or school waved to us as we passed, but other than a courteous wave in return, we simply kept walking. Seeing as how the rest of the town hadn’t been advised of Saiian’s existence -- or my own recent change, for that matter -- we still garnered a few odd looks as we went through town, but for the most part, Ponyville was as friendly as always. While I had lived in Equestria for quite some time by this point, I still only had a relatively small group of ponies I regularly spent time with, but with Twilight and the other Element-bearers out, that left very few ponies for me to bother.

With that in mind, I turned toward the part of town that Vinyl and Octavia lived in, deciding that some music and a comfortable setting would be nice, and that I should speak to Vinyl anyway about...things. I caught a look from Saiian out of the corner of my eye, but she said nothing and just kept beside me as we walked.


Much to the surprise of many ponies, Vinyl wasn’t a party-all-day type of pony. True that when she was playing a show and she was in that zone, she was the epitome of a hard-drinking, bumping club-pony that would dance and live the nightlife until she dropped from exhaustion, but in her everyday life, Vinyl was a very chill pony, and her music choice reflected that. So, instead of pumping sounds with a bass-line that made my bones rattle, the main living area was suffused with a smooth, melodic tune that easily lulled me to sleep. It was because of this that, after lazily conversing with Vinyl and just spending time together, it was quite common for me to wake up some time later with a certain white pony sleeping on my chest. The difference this time was that I was resting my head on Saiian’s lap, and Shudder seemed to be trying her best not to make a lewd comment of some sort about Vinyl seeming to enjoy resting her head on my new “pillows”. Honestly, even with Vinyl’s quite-possible attraction to me (I had never actually asked about it), I wouldn’t have minded had she not been drooling on me.

Because Octavia hadn’t been home, when I arrived at Vinyl’s home, we had just hung out as usual and talked about music and such, mostly because I wanted Octavia there for backup when I told Vinyl how I felt about Saiian, and how I didn’t feel about her. I still didn’t quite know how I was going to do all that without alienating one of my best friends, but I needed to be honest with her if I wanted to be a true friend -- I had shared some of my most painful past moments with her and the others, so I had no reason to hide things from any of them anymore, Vinyl included, and nor did I want to.

The front door opened in the hallway to my right, and Octavia announced herself to us. She entered the living area to see all of us, setting her cello case reverently down on a stand, before trotting over and offering a friendly nuzzle to Vinyl and I. She then glanced questioningly to Saiian and Shudder, only to trot away toward the kitchen to put the kettle on to boil. Those of us left in the living area righted ourselves and waited patiently for Octavia to return.

After about ten minutes, Octavia returned with a tray balanced on her back containing a single cup of tea, along with a plate of assorted “biscuits” (they’re fucking cookies, not biscuits!). After expertly sliding the tray onto the table, she took her place next to Vinyl and began sipping her tea almost reverently.

After letting out a sigh of contentment, she turned to me and smiled. “It’s good to see you, Jamie. I must admit that I was worried when Vinyl told me you had an ‘accident’.”

I shrugged helplessly. “Sorry about that. As you can see, I wasn’t physically hurt, but some things have definitely changed as a result of the spell used on me. However, one good thing came out of that:” I leaned back so that Octavia could clearly see Saiian beside me, “this is Saiian. She’s quite literally the source of the magic within me, and until recently, was my ‘imaginary friend’.”

Octavia deftly balanced the saucer and cup on a hoof, extending her free hoof over to Saiian. “It is a pleasure to meet you, Saiian. Thank you for looking after Jamie.”

Momentarily glancing at me with a smirk, Saiian reached out and gave Octavia’s hoof a firm shake. “Believe me when I say looking after Jamie is a full-time job.”

“Right here, y’know.”

Saiian only glanced to me and winked before retaking her place and slinging her arm over my shoulders. “Aww, don’t be mad. You know we care about you.” She then completed the gesture by affectionately nudging her head against mine, which clearly caught Vinyl’s attention, if her furrowed brows and tilted head was any indication.

Deciding to get it all over with, I took a deep breath and composed myself the best I could before speaking. “There’s...well, there’s something else, too. Over the months, I’ve become very close to Saiian, and have very recently found that the connection between us goes beyond mere friendship.” Looking directly at Vinyl, as I believed she deserved the respect of looking her in the eyes, I reached my own hand up and took the one over my shoulder, squeezing it firmly. “Saiian and I are together now.”

All was quiet in the home for a few tense moments before Octavia suddenly squealed like a filly and bounced excitedly on her seat, nearly throwing her tea in the air. “Oh my goodness, congratulations! Jamie, I am so happy for you! How- I mean, when-”

“We had a heavy talk last night, and everything just kinda came together.” I explained, doing my best not to notice that one of us hadn’t reacted at all. After a few more moments, however, I had to glance to Vinyl, and saw that she was frozen -- petrified, really. “Vinyl?”

My call seemed to jolt the DJ out of whatever funk she had been in, and she offered a strained smile to both of us. “Um...wow. Uh, yeah. Congrats, Jamie.” Even with her glasses on, I could tell she was darting her eyes between the two of us as her mouth worked soundlessly. Finally, she announced, “I, uh...I gotta get some air. It’s kinda stuffy in here, right?” Without another word, Vinyl hopped off the sofa and quickly trotted to the back door, opening and closing it without even breaking her stride.

My eyes stayed locked on the closed door, though I muttered, “Well...at least she didn’t hit me.”

“Yet.” Saiian asserted, though some humor was in her tone. I felt her nudge me as she suggested, “You should go talk to her. I don’t have to be a mindreader to know she’s very conflicted right now, so she needs your support.”

Even with Saiian’s words, I was still worried. “This is gonna suck no matter what, huh?”

Octavia looked to be fighting an internal battle before nodding solemnly. “Unfortunately, yes. I believe simply tackling the issue head-on would be best, at this point, and going after her yourself will show you respect and care about her. Go, Jamie.”

Conflict resolution had never been my strong point in life, but I cared enough about Vinyl to make an attempt anyway. So, with a deep sigh, I nodded and stood, following after Vinyl.


The home that Vinyl and Octavia shared was expansive, and the backyard was no exception. I had never asked whether they had a gardener, or whether they tended to it themselves, but the yard featured an elegant yet varied collection of flora spread throughout the yard itself. This all included well-tended, stone pathways to the different parts of the garden, a shady collection of trees with several hammocks strung up, and even a decently-sized covered gazebo, where I had found Octavia on a few occasions, enjoying rainy days with good tea and a good book.

Vinyl was laid down in front of a beautiful koi pond (or at least I think they’re koi; I was never an expert), languidly swishing her hoof through the water. Her glasses were placed on the grass off to the side, leaving her face bare, which in itself was a rare occurrence. This all meant that, should Vinyl talk to me and not just push me away, she wouldn’t have her glasses to hide behind, and I would have to see the emotions plainly on her face.

I quietly stepped out of my sandals and onto the soft, lush grass as I made my way to Vinyl, furiously trying to think of something I could say or do that would help her cope with what I had told her inside. Of course, I came up with nothing, so I prepared myself to simply wing it, as I often had to do in life.

Vinyl’s left ear flicked as I approached, and though she didn’t turn to me, I did notice her haunches subtly tense, which meant she had heard me. I stopped just behind her and debated with myself for a moment before taking a cross-legged seat next to her, waiting silently.

After a long stretch of silence -- a few minutes, at least -- Vinyl let out a breath through her nose and muttered, “I never really had a chance, did I?”

“Past Jamie” would have quickly scrambled to come up with some kind platitudes to make Vinyl feel better, but as I had spent time with all of my pony friends, I had quickly learned that honesty was the best course of action. Sure, the truth hurt sometimes, but I hadn’t met a pony yet that preferred lies over the truth, since the truth always came out, sooner or later.

Nonetheless, I still tried to soften the blow. “If it makes you feel any better, you’re definitely the kind of girl I would be attracted to...but no, you never did. And maybe that’s my fault, but-”

“No, Jamie.” Vinyl interjected, still not turning her head to look at me. “You told us from the beginning that ponies just don’t ‘do it’ for you, and I get it -- really, I do. I just…” again she let out a long breath as she continued to let her hoof play in the water, “I told myself I’d accepted that. It hurt, but it’d be unfair to be mad at you for something out of your control. But, even with all that, I still had a tiny hope that maybe, just maybe, I might be an exception if I waited long enough.”

I thought of all the fun times Vinyl and I had -- the pranks we played on each other, the drunken stories told -- and found myself smiling at the memories. In my mind’s eye, I could remember the adorable look of wonder reflected in her eyes when I told her about the technology I left behind on Earth, and the sheer excitement on her face when I would (poorly) sing a song that I remembered from my previous life. It was easy to mentally picture that saucy little smirk she would throw my way when she thought I wasn’t looking, and the look of utter joy she had when we made up shortly after I found out I would be staying on Equis. Going over all that in my head, I made a rather interesting revelation.

“You would have been the first.” I mumbled, a look of momentary surprise crossing my face as I realized it was the truth. She still wasn’t looking at me, but her erect ears told me she was listening intently as I elaborated, “Honestly, you would have been the one I would be most comfortable with asking out, if I ever decided to be with a pony -- even before Dash.” Despite her not looking at me, I couldn’t help but shrug helplessly. “I know that probably doesn’t make you feel a whole lot better, but maybe that’ll give you an idea of just how much you mean to me.”

“Even before Dash? I don’t know if I believe that, Jamie. I’ve seen the two of you together.” she muttered, her ears laying flat against her head.

I tilted my head from side to side as I tried to think of how best to explain what was going through my head. “Well...when it comes down to it, you and I are more alike than Dash and I are. I was never an athlete, I’m kind of a coward, and I can’t fly. On the other hand, I’ve always been a music geek, I love technology, and I like chilling out. So you see, I actually share a lot more in common with you than I do anyone else. Dash and I are only so close because she’s always around, and she’s not exactly unlikable. Your lifestyle is quite a bit more demanding of your time than ours is, so I don’t see you as much, but that doesn’t mean I value you any less.” I raised my hand and, after debating with myself a moment, gently laid it on Vinyl’s front outstretched hoof. She didn’t pull away, which I was thankful for, but neither did she reciprocate the gesture. Again the silence stretched on, so I did the best I could to be supportive without any words.

“I want so much to be mad at you, Jamie.” Vinyl mumbled after a minute or so had passed between us. “I wish I could just make you out to be the enemy, and that this was all your fault, because that would be so much easier. But…” she sniffled once, and I found myself frowning as I realized she had been crying silent tears for a few seconds now, “I know you didn’t do anything to hurt me or anypony else, and I know you probably feel horrible about it even though it’s not your fault.” She took a shuddering breath before she continued, her voice becoming more lively and less monotone as she kept speaking. “I know this shouldn’t be such a surprise for me, but I guess I was hoping that if I held out long enough, you’d warm up to ponies and I might have a shot. This just sucks.”

I gave her hoof a gentle squeeze to let her know I was there for her, regardless of how I had inadvertently made her feel, and we continued to sit quietly next to each other. Finally, after a few minutes, she scooted over to me until her warm body was settled against me, and I chose to release her hoof and drape my arm around her neck. I hated that I had to crush Vinyl like I had, but at the same time, I was happy she was calm about it, if still upset. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much I would be able to do to make her feel better. Save for being a good companion and showing her that we were still friends, I would simply have to support her as she worked through this.

It still sucked, though, and I still had to have a similar talk with Dash.

“Does she make you happy, at least?” I glanced down at Vinyl, so she clarified, “Are you with Saiian because she makes you happy, or are you just lonely?”

I wanted to immediately answer with a resounding yes to happiness, but that wasn’t the whole truth. When it came down to it, ”...both, kinda. She’s the closest thing to a human I’ll likely ever see again, so I think that’s why it was so easy for me to feel romantic inclination for her. Maybe in time that’ll change -- hell, maybe one day I’ll start one of these ‘herd’ things -- but for now, she’s the only one I feel that sort of desire for.” I then let out a long breath as a gentle smile came to me. “But yes, she makes me happy. She can be a big tease and she’s kind of infuriating sometimes, but more so in the way that makes me want to kiss her. It’s only been a day, but we were close even before this, so it’s a lot simpler without all that annoying ‘getting to know you’ BS.”

I glanced over at Vinyl again, and found her crimson eyes focused intently on me. She seemed to be studying me for a few moments before she gave a melancholic smile. “Then I guess I can be happy for you.” She then nudged me with her nose. “You should get going. We’re cool, but I’m going to need some alone time to get over all this, ‘kay?”

I smirked despite myself. “The ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ speech, hmm?” She responded with a more honest smile of her own, but I nodded regardless. “It’s okay, I get it. Just know that you can come see me whenever you’re ready. I’ll be waiting until then.”

I gave Vinyl a pat on the shoulder as I stood, making my way back to the opulent home of the DJ and her roommate. Just before I could reach the door, however, Vinyl’s voice caught my attention.

“I’m playing The Creature next month, on the thirteenth.”

Even though she hadn’t asked outright, I knew why she had mentioned it. Glancing back over my shoulder at the white pony, I smiled warmly at her. “I wouldn’t miss it for the world. Count me in.” I knew it would take some time for this particular trial to run its course, but at least now, I knew it would turn out okay.

Without another word, I reentered the spacious home, leaving Vinyl to her thoughts.