• 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.

  • ...

Chapter 25: A Cure for Boredom

Author's Note:

Yes, I know it's been far too long since my last update to this story. As many of you can attest, the last few years have been...difficult. Writing, and finding the time to do so, was no exception to this. All I can say is that I'm sorry this took so long, and I hope you all enjoy. As always, feel free to point out any errors or inconsistencies, and review to let me know what you think about the chapter. Thank all of you for taking the time to read!

Chapter 25: A Cure for Boredom

I would love to honestly say that Vinyl came back into the house only a few hours after we spoke. I would love to claim that we made up, she was fine with us being just friends, and everything was going to be okay...but that would be a lie. While I was fairly confident that Vinyl still wanted us to be close, it was clear it was going to be weeks or months before she could move past me, if she ever did.

Without anything else to do to keep me interested, I suggested we head home to get an early night’s rest, since I was going to try and return to work the following day, just to give me something to do; I knew Aloe and Lotus would allow me all the time I needed, but I didn’t want to put more of a strain on our business relationship than necessary.

Because of that, I found myself waking up the next morning in a comfortable bed with my arm wrapped around Saiian, and Shudder resting behind me, her wing extended to cover both me and the elemental. Like most days, my body thoroughly protested getting out of the warm, comfortable place, but I had things I needed to do, so I forced myself to get moving. The morning went as it normally did, with me preparing breakfast and Shudder making the coffee, so there wasn’t anything of note that happened. That, at least, was a relief; I didn’t need any more surprises.

It took some clever negotiation, but Aloe had allowed me to come in to work, after ensuring that I was mentally sound (relative term, there) and physically healthy. It took a few minutes to properly explain what had happened and who Saiian was (both the elemental and Shudder had insisted they stay, to ensure I was safe), but other than that, it was business as usual. While I didn’t particularly feel freaked out by my bodily changes any longer (it was uncomfortable, but I could deal with it for a short amount of time), it was still nice to have some mundanity in my life. My normal clients welcomed me back after a short explanation to each about my predicament, and from there, the day passed as it always did. I will admit my fingers ached a bit more than usual, since it appeared I lost some of my muscle mass from the transformation, but all in all, it was a comfortingly normal day.

At least it was until we had a group of new customers walk in.

A new customer was not exactly common in the Ponyville spa; since it was a small, tight-knit community, while the spa was busy, it tended to have the same customers every week. Sure, a new pony would pop in every now and then, but unless they were some of Rarity’s in-town clients from one of the major cities, it was usually a pony that had simply never been to the spa before, even though they lived in Ponyville. This made it very easy to spot newcomers, and it worked to my advantage to be able to pick out the four ponies that made their way into the mineral baths while I was on a short break. From what I could deduce from looking at them, it appeared to be two unicorns, one pegasus, and an earth pony, the earth pony being the only male of the group. They were led into the room by Lotus, and curiously didn’t even notice me as the spa pony settled them into one of the larger baths. I was located in one of the single-pony tubs toward the far wall away from the door, partially hidden by a large decorative plant. Since I didn’t recognize any of the four, I watched them silently as I soaked in the steaming mineral water. Maybe it was nothing, but Shudder had warned me to be on the lookout for anyone that I didn’t recognize, or that was acting suspicious.

I wasn’t a naturally paranoid person, but it couldn’t hurt to be vigilant; I knew Shudder and Saiian would also be on the lookout, but being an oblivious target didn’t suit me.

I was still a novelty as well, after all, so it was commonplace for ponies to visit the spa just to see me; I knew that could very well be the reason these ponies visited as well, but I was on break for another 10 minutes, and I was going to enjoy it for all it was worth. The hot mineral water made staying put all the more appealing, but I still kept an eye on the new ponies. Of course, part of the reason I wasn’t all that worried was because I knew that even if I couldn’t see her, Shudder was watching; I knew if it was needed, the pegasus would leap to my defense, and she had proven she was capable of taking on multiple stronger people at once, even if they were unicorns. I still didn’t know exactly what Saiian was capable of, but I also knew that being part chaos elemental, it would be interesting to watch. With Saiian watching the building from Pinkie’s bedroom window and Shudder watching from the shadows inside the building, I was confident nothing bad would happen to me.

Their chatter carried over the sound of the bubbling baths, and thankfully, their talk was pretty mundane. Nothing particularly of note, no obvious red flags, and they hadn’t even mentioned “the weird creature in Ponyville”. With that worry thwarted, I let out a breath and settled my shoulders beneath the hot water again, letting the bath wash some of my cares away.

All too soon, however, the minute hand on the clock reached the destination I had been watching for, and with a sigh, I pulled myself out of the tub, wrapping a towel around my body as I did so. I walked past the group of ponies as I left the room, and an audible gasp caught my attention as I did so. I glanced back to see one of the unicorns staring at me with wide eyes and an open mouth, her ears laid flat against her head. She looked like she wanted nothing more than to bolt. Her reaction prompted the other ponies to look around, and all but the pegasus had similar reactions. With that in mind, I beat a hasty retreat to the locker room, so I could dress myself and get back to work.

Upon returning to the front, Lotus was waiting with a scowl on her face, looking like someone had just spat in her face.

Raising an eyebrow, I asked, “What’s your problem, boss?”

Lotus shot a look my way, holding the angry expression for a moment before groaning and laying her chin on the counter. “I just had to convince a few customers you are not, in fact, a wild beast that was going to eat ponies or something.”

I snorted at that. “Ah yes, a wild beast that’s more modest than most ponies, regularly trims her body hair, and knows how to do math. I can even count to a hundred!”

Lotus snerked in an attempt to hide her laugh before falling into giggles. She leaned back and shook her head before cocking her head at me with a grin. “Yes, you’re quite the monster, aren’t you? Running your…um…” she rolled her hoof toward my hands.


“Right, fingers -- all over innocent ponies!” she playfully chastised me. “You rapscallion, you brute! Why, if you weren’t so good at your job, I might have to report you to the princess!”

I droned in a deadpan voice. “Oh no, please don’t tell Twilight. My life will be ruined! Oh no, so terrible!” I placed a finger on my chin, theatrically thinking out loud. “Although, it was her idea to apply here, so she’s partially to blame. I’m fine with that. Let’s tell Twilight it’s her fault.” I shrugged. “I’m still convinced she recommended it just so she’d have a reason to ask me to pet her, claiming it was ‘therapeutic’ instead of me just petting my friends which happen to be small little furry creatures.”

Lotus cocked her head to the side in confusion. “Humans don’t normally pet their friends?”

I couldn’t help the blush that bloomed on my cheeks. “Umm no, not really. If a human runs his or her hands over another human the way I do you ponies, the two of them are likely romantic partners. Then there’s the more lewd definition for ‘petting’ that’s often used, so…nah, not so much.”

Nodding, Lotus conceded, “Right, you told me humans don’t touch each other as much as ponies do.” She tossed her head off to the side, toward the schedule on the wall. “Anyhow, your next appointment is already waiting for you, so hop to it. Let me know when you’re finished and I’ll move her to the steam room.”

Waving briefly to Lotus, I made my way down the hall to my massage room and opened the door. Inside was Aloe, who was sitting next to an unfamiliar nervous-looking mare, doing her best to calm her down and reassure her.

“I promise, you von’t be deesappointed,” she said, darting her eyes over to me for a breath before going back to the mare, who was now staring up at me with wide eyes. “We don’t employ bad poniees ‘ere, and I ask that you trust me ven I say Jamie is very talented.”

The mare in question was a pegasus I had seen in passing from time to time, usually bringing packages from Canterlot for the local post office to distribute. She was well-built, with decently-sized wings and a firm, muscular body, which was at odds with her anxious behavior. Her body was reminiscent of Shudder (though a larger frame), so it was strange that a capable pony was worried about me. I mean, let’s face it: if a pony wanted to hurt me, I had very little defense against them. Unicorns had magic, pegasi were faster than me, and earth ponies were stronger than I could ever hope to be. I was downright flimsy by comparison, which might be why ponies that knew me couldn’t seriously consider me a threat. Hell, Applebloom was stronger than I was, and she was just a little kid.

Deciding to break the tension, I kneeled before the mare and looked into her eyes, slowly extending my hand to her. “I’m Jamie, and I’ll be your masseuse today.”

The smoother female tones of my new vocal cords helped calm the mare down, and I saw her visibly relax a little as she tentatively put her hoof in my hand. “M-my name’s Marigold. It’s nice to meet you, Jamie.”

Closing my fingers around her hoof, I gave it a shake, before letting go and standing again. “Well, unless you have any questions, let’s get started. Nothing better to do to relax you than to just get into what you came here for. And remember: anytime you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, all you have to say is ‘stop,’ and you can leave. The customer is always in control here.”

The mare seemed to relax a bit further, finally donning a tremulous smile as she nodded. “R-right, I appreciate that.” She hopped off of the seat and spread her wings, using a single flap to jump onto the massage table and lay face down.

Aloe nodded her approval. “It seems you ‘ave everysing vell enough in ‘and zhen. Unless you vanted me to stay, miss?”

“Um, n-no, I think we’ll be okay. Thank you, though,” the mare named Marigold assured, still sounding a bit nervous.

With that assurance given, Aloe nodded to me with a smile and promptly left the room. I quickly washed my hands in the sink before moving over to the table. “So, was there any specific massage oil scent you preferred? Our most popular at the moment is coconut and cream, though I personally prefer cucumber and melon.”

“Um, what do you recommend?” she asked, clearly unsure. This must not be something she was often asked, or thought about.

I thought for a moment, unsure how she was going to react to my next question. I decided to just ask, and explain as I did so. “Well, forgive me if this sounds strange, but my best way to do that would be to smell you.” She pushed herself up to look at me, a blush on her cheeks as she seemed to be trying to decide if I was serious or not. “From what I’ve noticed, each pony has their own unique scent, and depending on what it is, certain scented lotions or oils work better.”

Marigold’s lips formed an “oh” before she hesitantly nodded. “O-okay, I understand. Um, sure, go ahead.”

I slowly moved closer, noticing her eyes following me all the while. When I got close enough to feel her breath on my face, I gently said, “I’m not going to hurt you. Promise.” Marigold nodded, so I closed my eyes and moved a bit closer, taking a big breath in through my nose. Immediately I picked up the scent of ozone and rain, which was a common enough scent for pegasi. But underneath that, I could smell wildflowers, which for some reason reminded me of Fluttershy. The last thing I could pick up was the confusing scent of herbs of some kind. Rosemary or possibly thyme, or whatever the Equestrian analogues were.

Opening my eyes and leaning back out of her personal space bubble, I nodded to her. “Okay, I think I got it. You’ve got a floral scent and the smell of some kind of herbs. Do you have a garden at home?”

Her mouth dropped open. “...y-yes. You got all that just by smelling me?”

I shrugged with a crooked smile. “Lucky guess. I figured you either had a garden, or else you worked in a store that sold plants and the like. I would recommend our sugarplum rain oil, which is a light, bright scent that would compliment you quite well. It’s noticeable without being overpowering, and the sweetness is sure to make you smile for hours after you leave.”

After her momentary surprise had ebbed, Marigold gave me another shy smile before nodding. “Okay, I’ll take that.” She again laid down and slowly spread her wings, allowing them to hang off the edges of the table, the lead feathers just barely brushing the floor. “M-my neck has the most tension in it, along with my shoulders. Do you work on hooves here?”

“I certainly can. Are we talking a trim, or…?”

Marigold gave a slight shake of her head within the facerest. “No, I just had that done last week. They could use a little file and buff, though.”

Smiling, I nodded, even though she couldn’t see it. “Sure, I can do that.” I reached over to the shelves that had the massage oils, finding the one I needed and squirting a bit in my hands. I vigorously rubbed my hands together to warm the oil a bit before pressing my fingertips into the base of her neck. Marigold flinched at the touch, so I gently assured, “Remember: anytime you decide you feel uncomfortable, just say stop.”

I saw her body inflate and deflate with a breath before she settled herself. “N-no, it’s okay. I’m just…not used to others touching me.”

I slowly began my work, gently kneading the tight muscles of her neck. “A pony that’s not used to physical contact? I gotta admit, that’s a surprise.” Digging my fingers a little deeper rewarded me with a groan from the mare, so I continued my work. “I mean, physical contact is kinda normal between friends, isn’t it?”

With my hands on her, I felt as the mare stiffened briefly, before my fingers relaxed her again. After a period of silence, she answered, “...w-well, that’s because I don’t really have any.”

I stopped briefly. A pony that didn’t have friends? That might as well be a crime against nature, in Twilight’s book. Still, as an until-recently anti-social human, I could understand. Having more than one person I regularly spoke with was a new phenomenon for me. Back home, the internet was supposed to make humans more connected, but sometimes, I had felt more alone than ever.

Resuming my kneading, which earned me a few more soft groans, I commented, “Well, there’s no better town for a pony like you, then. The princess of friendship herself lives here, and these Ponyvillians are a friendly bunch all on their own.” I let the suggestion hang in the air for a moment before continuing with small talk. “So, I’ve seen you come in from Canterlot. You’re one of the ponies that brings down packages to the post office, right?”

Marigold gave a decidedly pleased sounding noise when my fingers released a knot in the side of her neck. “Uh huh. My division receives the packages from the trains that come to Canterlot, and my team is the one that handles Ponyville deliveries. There’s ten of us.”

I raised an eyebrow at that. “Only ten ponies for all those packages? You all must be workaholics.”

Marigold’s faint giggle was felt through my hands. “W-well, it keeps us in good shape with all the tasty Canterlot restaurants. If I didn’t have this job, I’d be a very round pony.”

I could admit that was probably true. I hadn’t spent too long in Canterlot, but I imagine the seat of the Equestrian government and the home of two alicorn goddesses probably had the best the nation had to offer in terms of food and entertainment. The food in the castle was already pretty good, so I could only imagine the food outside was probably just as good.

I glided my fingers up the back of her neck, finishing at the top and moving up to briefly rub my hands up against her cheeks before rubbing all the way down the sides of her neck. She exhaled with a happy sound, so I moved on to her shoulders next. “Well, if it’s anything like the castle food, I imagine it’s pretty good.”

At that, Marigold started. “Y-you stayed in the castle?”

I chuckled at that. “Well yeah. I mean c’mon: a new species shows up out of nowhere, so of course the princesses had to be notified. They wanted to meet me, which meant I got to eat there. It was pretty cool, but castles are too fancy for me, honestly. Nice mares, though.” I wisely didn’t mention I was essentially the personal confidante of both Canterlot princesses, since that wasn’t exactly public information.

“I can’t even imagine,” she breathed. “It must have been incredible.”

I shrugged again. “Well, I won’t lie and say it wasn’t cool, but I’m a simple person at heart. Gimme a quiet place where I can spend time with my friends, and that’s good enough for me. Whether that be a palace or a one-bedroom shack, I’m not picky. Plus, when I think about living in a castle, all I can think of is all the rooms that have to be cleaned every day or week. It’s too much for one person, so I’d have to hire cleaners to do it, or maids, or whatever, and that would make me just feel bad. I mean, it’s my house, and if I couldn’t even clean it on my own, I’d feel pretty useless.”

“A lot of the castle staaaaff,” she moaned the word out, my hands finding a particularly stubborn knot, and kneading it out expertly. After briefly composing herself, Marigold tried again. “A lot of the castle staff take pride in serving the princesses. They’re well paid, but I imagine many of them would do it for free, just to make the princesses happy.”

“Maybe,” I conceded, “but I’m just some random person. I’m not even a noble. If a person like me had a giant house, I’d just look like a pretentious dick.”

As it usually did with ponies, my crude speech drew a string of giggles from the mare in my care. Ponies had their own little cutsie curses they said, but Rarity had once told me that mine were considered much more direct and crude than most ponies regularly used. The words were understood for the most part, but again, most ponies didn’t curse the way I did. If nothing else, it made me feel kinda special in a weird sort of way.

“S-so, um, where do you live then? If you don’t mind me asking, that is,” she tentatively asked.

The mare seemed largely harmless, so I mentally shrugged and answered. “I’m actually staying with Twilight. Sometime in the future I’ll probably get my own place, but for now, I live with her.”

The mare practically threw my hands off as she bolted up, staring at me with wide eyes. “You live with Princess Twilight Sparkle?”

“I do indeed. She’s a wonderful housemate, if not a bit of a workaholic,” I explained, smiling softly at the thought of my roommate.

Marigold gave a flap of her wings when I worked my way toward her spine, relaxing a moment later. “I couldn’t imagine getting to live with royalty. It must be such an honor!”

Pressing hard into her spine, and feeling the pops and crackles as the muscles released their tension, I could only shrug at Marigold’s assumption. “She wasn’t always royalty, Mari. Do you mind if I call you Mari? Anyway, until she grew wings, she was just a quirky, dorky unicorn. Maybe she’s a princess now, but she’s still the same Twilight. Trust me: she’s just about the most un-royal princess you could ever meet.”

She giggled softly, shifting a bit and seeming to lean into my touch a bit more as I carefully moved around her wings, being extra careful not to touch them. “So it’s true? She was just a normal mare before she became a princess?”

I bobbed my head from side to side. “Well…I’m not sure ‘normal’ would be the right word to describe her. What I’m trying to say is that, while she has a crown and all that, she’s still a pony. She gets sad, she gets mad, she does silly things, she snorts when she laughs -- yes, she really does that -- and she wants to be loved just like any of the rest of you. I guess if she gives an official order or something, you should listen, but she prefers to be treated like you would anypony else. She is the princess of friendship, after all, so she doesn’t want to be deified.”

Marigold paused for a moment, and I likewise paused my massage as I let her think. Eventually, she reluctantly said, “I-I guess you’re right. It’s just, we’re so used to treating princesses like sacred objects that it feels weird to consider not treating one with the highest respect and reverence.”

“Respect her when she asks something of you in an official capacity,” I suggested, resuming my kneading, “but otherwise, just treat her in a friendly manner. She’ll be much happier that way.”

The rest of the session was much more relaxed, and I found myself enjoying talking to someone new for once.

“Bye Mari! I hope to see you again sometime soon!” I said with a smile, giving a kind farewell to the pegasus.

The blushing pegasus offered a shy wave as she made her way out of the establishment, but couldn’t stop the relaxed smile that was on her lips. She paused for a moment at the front door, fidgeting her hooves briefly before trotting over and rearing up to give me a hug. We held the embrace for a moment before releasing, and she walked away with a happy bounce in her gait, leaving the spa without a word.

Lotus, who was manning the counter, whispered, “Not a day goes by that I’m not happy you work here. I swear, you have some magic in those fingers that you’re not telling us about.”

I shrugged, still staring at the front door that no longer showed my most recent client. “I don’t know about that, but if I can bring a smile to the ponies around me, that’s good enough. So,” I turned toward my boss, nodding to her, “who’s next?”

Lotus glanced into the schedule book, running her hoof down the list until she found what she was looking for. “Her name is Sunny, and she’s asking for the full service: massage, mineral bath, hoof and horn filing, the works. She even threw us a little extra to be sure she got you.”

I looked down at the schedule book, frowning at the name. “Sunny” seemed like a fake name for a pony, possibly an alias. Nonetheless, this wasn’t exactly a “check your ID” kind of business, so I just shrugged my shoulders and began my walk down the hallway. “Give me a minute to clean up the room, then send her back.”

After getting back to my massage room, I did a quick tidy-up of the place, ensuring the bed was wiped down, the oils were all put on the shelf again, and all the instruments were back in their places. I then opened the door and sat in a chair, waiting patiently for my next client to arrive.

Sure enough, about five minutes later, a rather leggy cream-colored mare with a subdued pink mane walked in, glancing around the place for a moment before her eyes landed on me. At that, she smiled, and a familiar voice greeted, “Hello Jamie. It’s wonderful to see you again.”

Rolling my eyes and smirking, I challenged, “Not even trying to hide, are you? I sure hope you disguise your voice when you do this. And ‘Sunny’? C’mon, a foal could have thought of a better name than that.”

At this, the disguised pony pouted, planting her rump on the floor and giving me the puppy eyes. “Well I thought it was sufficient. Am I not to your liking, Jamie?”

Again rolling my eyes, I walked over and patted the massage table. “You’re a cute little pony. What’s not to like? Now c’mon, hop up Celly.”

“It’s Sunny.”

“I am not calling you by such a transparent alias,” I countered, holding my hands out to be ready in case she needed help getting up. “You could have chosen something like ‘Bright Skies’ or ‘Morning Glory,’ but you went with Sunny. That’s sillier than normal for ponies.”

Thankfully, she didn’t need help, but pouted as she lay down on her stomach, crossing her front legs. “Well it worked centuries ago, and no pony’s asking questions.”

“Because they’re too polite, but I’m not,” I shot back, sticking my tongue out at her. After gently coaxing her to lay down, I got us back on track. “Seriously though, what did you need today? Any preferences on where you need work, any preferences on scented oils? Anything?”

She grunted a bit as she shifted, getting comfortable. “Well, I have some major tension around my neck and spine, where my wings usually are. As for oil, I’m quite partial to vanilla.”

Laughing softly, I commented, “Of course you like vanilla, you basic mare.”

“I prefer the term ‘consistent,’ thank you very much,” she snarked, flicking her ear at me.

I rolled my eyes, but got to work warming the oil between my palms and immediately digging into the firm muscles of the transformed mare. A low groan told me I was doing a good job, so I continued working my fingers into the neck of the pony on my table, trying not to think about how I was essentially manhandling one of the nation’s rulers.

“Have I ever told you how thankful I am for your presence here?”

I raised a brow that she couldn’t see. “In the spa, or on this planet?”

“Why not both?”

I chuckled low. “You’ve told me the latter once or twice, yes. I still think you and your sister are weird for your interest in some random human, but pretty much all of you ponies are weird in some way. As long as I don’t find myself on a medical table being dissected, I can put up with some weirdness.”

“Oh, perish the thought, Jamie. My sister and I value all Equestrians, no matter what shape they might take,” she dramatically countered, complete with over-the-top outrage in her tone. I could, however, practically taste the smirk on her lips as she added, “Besides: there is far more to learn from a living subject than one that has expired.”

While most ponies would find it disturbing, as a cynical human with a love of dark humor, I enjoyed the moments of gallows humor the princesses let slip around me. To that end, I poked back with, “And here I thought I drew your attention with my stunning good looks. I guess I know who Twilight gets her ‘mad scientist’ vibes from.”

“Naturally,” she jabbed back, not rising to the bait.

I glanced back at the door briefly, ensuring it was closed, before softly asking, “Do you mind if I ask a serious question?”

The pony was silent for a moment before replying, “Of course, but I reserve the right to not answer if I find it too personal, or pertaining to sensitive information.” Her horn lit up, and with a soft chime, a bubble extended around us in what I could only imagine was some sort of muffling or silence charm.

I continued my massage for a moment before asking, “How are you and Twilight doing? Is she starting to talk to you again?”

To her credit, the princess didn’t flinch or tense up, but the subtle lowering of her ears told me the answer wasn’t going to be what she wanted. “...yes, though things are different than they once were between us. A part of me is overjoyed that she has grown into her own mare that is no longer obsessed with pleasing her teacher, but I miss the warmth and familiarity we once shared. Let it be said that no pony is above making mistakes, and this is just another of mine upon a pile centuries long. But, I stand by my decision to act. Though I hurt you and damaged my relationship with Twilight, I felt I had to act swiftly. Often, paralyzing inaction brought about from the fear of making the wrong choice can cause more damage than a bad choice.”

I chewed on my lip as I thought about how to voice what I was feeling. Eventually, I settled on the truth. “I’m still upset about what you did. I understand why you did it, and I’ve largely forgiven you and your sister for it, but if either of you ever do something like that to me again, rest assured that I’ll go to my grave without speaking to you. Keep that in mind the next time either of you has the notion of doing something ‘for my own good’ against my will.”

“Understood, Jamie. You do not blame Shudder, then?”

I shrugged a bit, moving my fingers down and beginning on the muscles around her spine, again granting me a very pleased sound from the disguised pony princess. “I blamed her for ‘following orders,’ but I don’t blame her for the idea itself. While I understand the chain of command must be upheld, and a soldier must follow the orders of their superiors, the soldier is still accountable for the actions they take. A lot of terrible things have been done in my people’s history all under the guise of people ‘just following orders’. It was a bad idea all around, and I believe I’ve made my feelings on the matter clear to all of you. We’re moving past this, so as long as none of you fuck with me like that again, I think we can put it behind us and move on.”

“Sunny” let out a long breath. “I am glad to hear that. I never wish others to take the blame for my actions, but in my line of work, it tends to happen anyway.”

“You’ve been in a leadership position for so long that it’s hard to see the small picture,” I surmised, running my fingers up and down the mare’s spine, using mild pressure to further relax her. “It’s not your fault, but to have a friend, you need to transition away from that. I don’t want to be a number, I want to be a person, and so long as you remember that, I think we can get along just fine.”

She giggled softly. “Well, if you can lay a kiss on Luna all for Saiian, surely-”

“Don’t get your hopes up, Princess,” I interrupted, giving a wan smile. “That was a one-time thing. I have no plans to kiss any other ponies, so you’re going to have to let that dream die.”

She dramatically huffed. “Oh poo, well that just ruins my plans. I suppose I’ll have to find another way to woo you, then.”

I raised my brow at that, adding another squirt of oil to my hands before moving further down her back, toward her rump. “See, I know you’re joking, but there’s always a tiny part of me that warns me that you could be serious.” She merely turned her head slightly, enough so she could smile and wink at me, before settling herself back into the facerest. I swear that I only momentarily hesitated before moving to her rump and haunches. And I definitely didn’t blush when I forced a deep moan out from the ancient pony currently disguised to look like someone fresh out of her twenties.

From then on, she was silent, and let me continue my work in peace as she teetered between being awake and dozing. I took great care going through a squeeze-massage of her hooves before filing and shining them, along with trimming her fetlocks to a uniform length. From there, I took a file to her horn, questioning whether all this cosmetic work would even carry over to her true form, but decided that if she paid for it, I would do it. Lastly, I finished the session up with a full body rubdown with a little extra oil, ensuring the scented liquid penetrated to her skin, so that she would smell it even after the mineral bath.

With that done, I coaxed her up, ignoring the fact she actually had fallen asleep, and definitely not imagining how easy it would be to take over the country if someone knew all they had to do was massage her to put her to sleep.

She followed me through the halls until we got to the next room, which held the basins bubbling with mineral water. I gently helped her into one, ensuring she was settled, before standing again and placing my hands on my hips. “Well, that’s my part of your pampering done. Was there anything else you wanted to ask before I leave you in Lotus’ capable hooves?”

“Sunny” thought for a moment before slowly shaking her head with a bright smile. “I think I’ll be okay, Jamie. Thank you for the tender care. I’ll have to be sure we see each other again.”

I nearly choked at the borderline flirtatious way that sounded to anyone that heard it, and did my best to brush it off. “Um…y-yeah, that sounds good. Anyway, you have a wonderful day. Do visit us again sometime.”

I wasn’t so sure I entirely enjoyed just how casual a world leader was with me.

Nonetheless, the day was not over, so I headed back to the front to get ready for my next appointment.

The day felt like it flew by with all the clients I had to take care of. The work had unfortunately been piling up with my absence, which only made me feel bad for doing that to my two bosses. Still, they assured me everything was fine, and after giving me their gratitude for coming in when I wasn’t required, I gave them a wave and told the two I would see them tomorrow. Shudder seemingly appeared from nowhere to walk at my side as I left, and I could see Saiian leaving Sugarcube Corner to join us, amongst a few staring ponies. Saiian appeared completely unbothered by the stares, and I’ll admit that I was a bit jealous of her confidence.

The elemental practically skipped over to me, kissing me on the cheek and looping her arm in mine as she fell into step on my unoccupied side. I blushed at the PDA, but couldn’t help but smile nonetheless. Sure, there were quite a few stares thrown my way, but at the moment, I couldn’t find it within myself to care. Sure, things weren’t perfect right now (I still had the body of a woman, after all), but things could certainly be worse. Besides, Saiian and Shudder were doing all in their power to be sure I was looked after and taken care of, mentally and emotionally, but just the fact they took it upon themselves to do that was doing wonders to make me feel better.

I truly had some of the best friends anyone could ask for.

“So, I saw a certain high-profile individual decided to visit,” Shudder idly commented.

She didn’t have to elaborate on just who that pony was. “So she did. Kinda surprised me, but silly ponies will be silly ponies.”

“It’s silly to visit a friend?” she challenged, raising her eyebrows at me.

“It’s silly to play hooky from work to visit a friend,” I shot back, smirking down at the mare. “Doubly so when said individual is one of the movers and shakers of this land.”

Shudder took to the air beside my head, shrugging slightly. “Eh, to be honest, she could get away with doing a quarter of the workload she takes upon herself. She has help hired to do all that, but she prefers a personal touch, so she wants to be involved as much as possible. Those of us close enough to comment on that have done so, but she never seems to listen.”

I allowed myself a small smile as I exhaled through my nose. “Habits get harder to break the longer you have them. How long do you think she’s been doing things on her own?”

“Too long,” Saiian commented from beside me, idly running her hand over the back of mine.

I nodded in agreement. “And while that’s not entirely her fault, it’ll take conscious effort to change that. I’ll see if I can help her along, because I know if I were as overworked as she seems to be, I’d probably bite someone’s head off.”

“Say that to the wrong pony and you’d cause a riot,” Shudder playfully warned.

I blew a raspberry. “Well, those ponies can shove it up their asses. The worst thing I've done since I got here is curse that one mare out, and even then, it was because she said she wanted to ‘rope’ me. Back where I grew up, a comment like that could have gotten your ass kicked.”

Shudder chuckled at my mention of the “altercation” between me and a local mare. “I still wish I could have seen that. I’ve never really seen you go off on somepony like that before. Hay, even when you were angry at me, you didn’t lay into me like you did to her.”

I bobbed my head from side to side, organizing my feelings on the matter. “Well…that’s because, even in the beginning, I knew you weren’t entirely at fault. You’re still a cunt for just following orders, but you were only the executor of a higher will. That mare, on the other hand, was fully capable of keeping her mouth shut, and made the choice to say that anyway.”

Shudder’s ears flicked back. “You know I’m sorry for that, right? If I had the choice to do it all again, I would refuse to follow that order. You’re right: while things might have turned out okay in the end, it was wrong to take away your freedom like that.”

“And I’ve already forgiven you for that,” I assured, giving a tight-lipped half-smile to the mare. Said smile graduated to a scowl when I warned, “But, if I ever find myself in a situation like that again, and I find out you had a hand in it, you’ll get to find out exactly how dangerous I can be. The only reason you bodied me so many times is because I didn’t want to hurt you, but if you get me pissed enough that I no longer care what happens to you…well, you better just hope that doesn’t happen.”

Shudder nodded with a sigh. “Noted. For what it’s worth, I did feel terrible about what I did, even when it was happening. I just couldn’t show it. Image to uphold, and all that.”

Arriving at the library, I opened the door for us, letting my two companions in. “That’s fair. But the next time you have to play the ‘stern, domineering soldier’ with me, you better be on my side.”

As soon as the door closed, we all heard a subdued thump coming from upstairs, and immediately, my heart began racing as my muscles tensed. Shudder flew to the second floor, silent as an owl, and made a beeline for the upper rooms. A mere second later, Saiian and I were able to hear a shout, followed by the sound of a scuffle, and I found my feet moving toward the stairs before I could even think about it. I bounded up, three steps at a time, slid around the corner, and burst into the only room with an open door, where the noises could be heard.

On the floor of the room, in front of the sunny window, was Shudder pinning a pony to the ground, the threat already neutralized before I even got there. It was (thankfully rare) times like this that I was reminded of just who and what Shudder was.

The pony beneath her was a pegasus, and by the flash of male genitalia, I surmised it was a stallion. The stallion dwarfed Shudder by a large margin, but the mare’s superior training and exploitation of pressure points had the guy unable to do much more than squirm painfully beneath the smaller mare as she pinned him on his stomach.

Shudder was completely calm, not even panting, as she spoke. “Now, I don’t know who you are or what you think you’re doing here, but you’re going to start talking. For every time you refuse to talk, I’m going to break something, and we’ll get to find out how much pain you can take before you pass out. Guess I’ll just have to keep breaking things until you wake back up, at that point. Now, first question: who are you?”

The stallion shuddered for a moment before stammering, “D-Diamond D-D-Dust!”

Shudder flexed her left wing, and a shine from metal could be seen as she lowered it between his back legs. The flinch told me he felt it, and he whimpered in fear. “Lie to me again and I’ll geld you.”

“O-OKAY! OKAY! It’s Raspberry Liqueur! P-please don’t-”

Shudder flexed her wing again, shutting the stallion up. “That all depends on what you say. If you want to remain a stallion, you won’t lie to me again. Now, what are you doing here?”

The stallion pointed a trembling hoof over toward the window, where a camera could be seen laying on the windowsill. “I-I’m a freelance journalist! Information on Princess Twilight Sparkle and the alien is worth big bits! I-I swear, I was just looking for a good scoop!”

Shudder held the position for a moment, silently considering what she should do, before sighing heavily and moving off of the stallion, letting him relax against the ground as his arms and legs were released. “And your plan was to break into the princess’ home? I’m not sure if you’re crazy or just stupid, but for your sake, I hope it’s the latter.” She glared at the stallion before trotting over to the window, grabbing the camera, and smashing it to the ground in front of the stallion.

“H-HEY! That camera cost me two thousand bits!” he indignantly quailed.

Shudder stomped on the remains of the camera for good measure, her eyes never leaving the stallion as she did so. “And it almost cost you your life. If you want a ‘scoop,’ you will request an audience through the proper channels, like a normal pony. If you think you’re going to publish a story about this incident, I’ll file charges for breaking and entering the royal family’s private quarters, which comes with a minimum five years in the dungeons, and forty-thousand bits in fines. Now,” she stomped one last time, fully pulverizing the camera’s remains, before kicking them toward the stallion, “as my alien friend here would say, ‘Get your shit and get out.’”

The stallion wasted no time in gathering up the broken remains of his camera, scampering over to the open window and flying out at a frightened speed that would impress even Rainbow Dash. Shudder calmly walked over to shut and lock the window before sighing and relaxing her posture. “Bucking paparazzi. Seems like they get more bold with every year.”

The three of us just stood there for a moment before I admitted, “I’m kinda surprised they waited this long. I’m not exactly a secret, and even back where I come from, paparazzi are pretty dedicated.”

Shudder held a hoof up to stop me before trotting out of the room without a word. I stood there awkwardly, wondering what we were doing, until a few minutes later, Shudder returned with a weird crystal in her mouth. She slowly walked around the room, waving the crystal around, before stopping in a corner that glowed oddly. Setting the crystal down, she reached under the small desk there, pulling out another, smaller crystal that glowed with a blue light. She walked back to us and dropped it on the ground before covering it with a pillow.

Shudder motioned me down before cupping her wing around our heads and whispering, “I think our visitor left monitoring devices around. I’m gonna go out and secure the perimeter, and I want you and Shudder to take this crystal,” she hoofed me the larger one she had brought into the room, “and sweep the building. I’ll come back in and help with the areas you can’t reach without wings after I’ve assured no pony’s still sneaking around here.”

I nodded, grasping the crystal and leaving the room, beginning to wave the crystal around as I made myself from room to room with Saiian, covering every nook and cranny we could reach.

Twenty or so minutes later, Shudder returned, and during that time, Saiian and I had found six more of the enchanted crystals, which we gathered together in a drawstring coin purse I had found lying around. With Shudder’s help, we found four more among the rafters and one in the bathroom of all places. After Shudder did one more sweep of the entire building, we found ourselves standing together in one of the unused rooms of the building, laying all the crystals out in front of us.

Shudder cleared her voice and carefully enunciated, “For anypony that might be listening, let me be clear: you have violated the privacy of private citizens, one of whom is your princess. Should I ever find out who you are, I will be forcefully returning these crystals to you, shoving them so far up your plot that you’ll be able to hear your own bowels squelch as you digest your morning coffee and bagel. Have a nice day, and buck off.” She then shoved the crystals back into the sack, tied it shut, and went outside to bury it behind the library, just in case there was a less-passive spell on these things.

After all that was finished, the three of us marched back inside, collapsing on the ground with a shared sigh of equal parts relief and annoyance.

After a few minutes of silence between us, Shudder gently asked, “Hey Jamie, you think I could get a massage on the house from you? I could use your help getting this tension out.”

The silence was broken by a laugh from me. I stood and sighed, stretching my arms high above my head for a moment before releasing the stretch and tossing my head toward my room. “All right, c’mon you big baby. I can’t have you all stiff, or else you won’t be able to protect me from the next rabid stalker that sets their sights on me.”

Shudder practically pranced after me, with Saiian bringing up the rear, as we headed to my room for some mundane r&r.

Comments ( 8 )

Hot damn, an update!

Oh no!
Now I have to reread the entire story again to remember the plot!
Oh woes is me!:pinkiehappy:

just finished re-reading. I can't remember if the story mentioned that herding was allowed or not

It is, but Jamie has previously said that he (she, at the moment) is not particularly interested in ponies, let alone herds. That can always change, but Jamie is stubborn and set in his (her) ways.

Yeah I wasn’t sure and seeing how this story has gone I can see him becoming more uh, acceptable to the idea of herding. Not that he needs to nor am I complaining about it. Personally I’d love to see him herd up but if he dont, that’s perfectly fine too.

Same man same, be the woes of forgetfulness.:facehoof:

You never know man it look that way herd thing might happen

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