• Published 29th Jul 2013
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A soldier from the frontlines of the Equestrian Civil War returns home to uncertain peace

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Chapter 8

In a hurry, I stumbled out of the main door. A voice followed suit, “Doc!”

Damnit! She needed to piss off, “Fuck you, Autumn! I don’t need to fuckin’ talk to you!” I continued my brisk pace. Anywhere but here, now was not the time for this shit.

“Doc! Please!”

That was it, if she wanted to talk, I’d talk alright. I whipped my head around. “Listen you sack of shit, I don’t wanna talk to you. Hell, I don’t even wanna see you!” I took a breath to continue my rant, after all, she had it coming. “I can’t believe I fucking thought of you as a friend!” Fuck, what was I saying? Stop before you really say something you regret, Coban. C’mon! I turned back around, “I just need to be left alone.” Suddenly something heavy hit the back of my head. “Ah! The hell?”

“Fine!” yelled Autumn. “Here’s your stupid advance! Courtesy of Strong!” I looked down to see a bag of shiny new bits on the ground by my hoof. Looking back toward the building, I saw Autumn storm back inside and slam the door shut.

Aw geez. I need a drink, and somepony else to talk to. Picking the bag up, I slowly plodded over to the hospital.

●●●

Autumn slammed the door behind her and slowly made her way to Strong’s office. How the hell could he say that? She was only trying to help him! Ungrateful shit, he just had to blow the lid on the whole thing himself. “He get his bits?” inquired Strong.

Autumn collapsed into a chair. “Yeah, he fuckin’ got ‘em” she said, her voice brimming with an intense anger.

“You know,” began Strong. “He said you didn’t tell him…”

“Of course not!” exploded Autumn. “He didn’t need to hear it at the time! He…he needed a friend,” she trailed off.

Strong leaned closer from his desk, a stony expression on his face. “Whatever he needed wasn’t part of the plan Autumn. You damn well knew that. We fucking needed him and you took your sweet ass time bringing him here.”

He sighed and slouched back into his seat. “No matter what was going on outside just now put that shit behind you. I’ll talk to him personally about it, but in the meantime solve your fucking problems. I don’t need two field agents arguing out in the field, now get the hell out of my office.”

Autumn got out of her chair and began making her way to the front. “Hey Autumn,” she turned around. “Have a nice day.”

●●●

“I’m here to see Rainbow,” I stated to the head nurse. The nurse briefly raised her head and resumed her paperwork.

“Is she expecting you?”

“Uh, well. Yeah. I told her yesterday that I wanted to make sure she was doing okay” I said.

“Well good news is that she’s being discharged today, in a few minutes in fact. Why don’t you have a seat in the lobby, Ms. Dash will be down in a bit.”

“Thank you ma’am.” I walked back to the lobby and took a seat. Looking around the lobby I saw a mother and her colt. She appeared to be sleeping while her colt was playing with a few toy soldier figurines. I smiled at the innocence and the colt caught me starting at him.

Looking to his left and right to make sure there wasn’t anypony else I might be looking at, he finally asked me, “Wanna play?” I shrugged my shoulders, fuck it. Got nothing else to do at the moment. “Sure, why not?” I got out of my chair and sat on the ground with the colt who presented me with a 75th Ranger action figure.

“What’s your name, mister? I’m Jitter!”

“Doc,” I said all while staring at the toy soldier in my hooves.

“Your name’s ‘Doc?’ Are you a doctor?” asked the inquisitive colt while eyeballing my tattoos.

“Of sorts, or well…I was at one point.”

“Hm…”he began pondering. “You don’t lookit!” Damn kid was pretty perceptive. “What do you really do?”

I sighed heavily. “I was…a medic with the Army.” His eyes lit up at the mention of the Army.

“Really? My dad’s in the Army! But I don’t know about now.”

I raised an eyebrow, I didn’t like where this conversation was headed. “What do you mean?” I asked as I made the toy soldier ‘walk’ along the carpet.

Jitter became visibly upset at my question. Aw shit, not good. “He lost his leg. I think it still hurts him. That’s why me and mom are here.” He stared at his hooves for a bit, before asking me “What unit were you in?”

Thank Celestia, change of subject. I looked at Jitter with a small smirk, “You wouldn’t believe me if I told ya!”

Jitter placed his toy soldier down. “I’ll believe you! Tell me, tell me, tell me!” I sighed, thankful that his mind was now away from his father’s pain. He was practically bursting with enthusiasm that for a split second I wondered if this colt might be related to Pinkie Pie in some manner.

I leaned forward and whispered, “You ever hear of the 75th Manticore Rangers?”

His eyes sparkled with excitement. “No way! Really? That’s so cool!”

I laughed, “Yeah I guess it is, huh?”

His mother woke up with a start from my laughter. “Oh! Jitter! What have I told you about bothering other ponies?” She turned to me, “I’m so sorry he disturbed you. He gets these random outgoing bursts from time to time.”

“It’s quite okay ma’am” I said. “He certainly knows how to make conversation.”

“Momma! Doc was in the Army, just like dad!” Jitter blurted out with excitement.

A brief flash of pain was visible on his mother’s face, “Was he?”

“Yeah!” Jitter was physically bouncing up and down now.

“Hey, Doc!” A voice came from behind me. I stood up and turned around to see Rainbow with her leg patched up along with…her wings? “Ready to leave? I know I am.”

“Yeah, just give me a second” I said before turning back to Jitter and his mother. “Take care Jitter, and stay out of trouble for your mom’s sake, okay?” As I began to walk toward Rainbow, I gave Jitter’s mother a brief nod. As if knowing what I meant, she did the same. Hopefully her husband would turn out okay.

“It’s really good seeing you, Doc!” said Rainbow as she gave me an awkward hug. “Been hoping I could see you.” I felt a light tug on my back leg. Looking back I saw a now very shy Jitter.

“Uh, Doc? I uh, I want you to have this,” as he presented me with the toy Ranger. “I know that you're strong an' stuff, but maybe it can give you extra protection.”

A smile crept upon my face, “Thanks, kid. This means a lot.”

As Rainbow and myself began walking out of the hospital, Jitter’s voice boomed out “Your marefriend is really pretty!” Damnit, kid!

●●●

Autumn arrived back in her motel room and stared at the emptiness that lay before her. The two chairs from the other night were still there; a reminder and almost mocking tribute of what could’ve been. Angrily, she knocked both over. “Fuck!” she exclaimed. It wasn’t fair! All she had been trying to do was protect him! Couldn’t he see that?

She collapsed into a corner of the room and stared at the ceiling as tears began rolling down her cheeks. How could he say those things to her? Autumn whimpered as her breathing steadily became more rapid and panic began to set in. No, no, no! She screamed internally, not now!

“Doc!” she cried out. The walls began to close in. “Doc…” Autumn whispered to the empty room, “I need you…”

●●●

“So, how long you grounded for?” I asked Rainbow, staring at her bound wings.

She flicked her mane out of her eyes as we walked along. “Ugh. Two weeks. Two WHOLE WEEKS! Can you believe that? How can I not fly for two weeks?” she stomped her hoof down to accent her frustration. “They might as well have cut off my wings.”

I chuckled much to her annoyance. “I assume that means no Wonderbolt shenanigans for a bit?”

Rainbow looked down, “Yeah, the team stopped by earlier this morning. They don’t want me to exacerbate the injury.”

“That’s a surprisingly big word for you.”

“Oh, just because I’m a Wonderbolt you think I can’t have a big vocabulary?” Rainbow pouted, her lip quivering. And she’s back.

“Wha…whoa…wait just a minute…” I stammered. “I just meant that I’m surprised you knew that word.” Oh Celestia, fell for that trap.

“So now I’m a dumb mare? That’s sexist as hell Doc.” I squinted, I wasn’t sure at this point if she was being serious or joking around like normal. “I’m just messin with ya, Doc” she giggled.

I sighed in both frustration and relief. “Yeah, should’ve figured at this point. So what happened to your wings exactly? I don’t remember them being messed up.”

“Yeah, well apparently the whole building coming down on top of us and the blast put a strain on the tendons. The doctors say I’m lucky it’s just a strain and nothing more.”

“By the way,” I began, “where exactly are we going? I was just sort of following you.”

Rainbow batted her eyes at me, “Aw, aren’t you just a lost little puppy.”

“Rainbow, seriously.”

“Ugh, you’re no fun. We’re going to Twilight’s again, the girls are throwing a party in honor of my hospital discharge.”

“I feel like this was Pinkie’s idea.” Rainbow nodded.

“These kinds of things usually are. Hey, do you want to come with? You can be my plus one!” she said with a big ‘ol grin plastered on her face. “After all, didn’t that colt earlier say your ‘marefriend’ was pretty?” How were mares able to get their eyes that big?

I scoffed “Yeah, sure. I’ll go. There…will be alcohol there right?”

Rainbow stared at me as if I was an alien from another planet that had just made first contact. “Duh, it’s not a party without cider!” I nodded, that was a fair assumption. We continued our walk in silence as the silhouette of the Ponyville Library came into view.
Rainbow’s voice shattered the relative peace and calm. “Hey, where’s that mare that’s always hanging on ya? Uh, Autumn right?”

Fuck, “We had…a bit of a falling out earlier.” Keep the answers short and simple, no need to drag Rainbow into that whole mess. “Why?”

“Oh, just wondering.” Rainbow looked away quickly. Could’ve sworn I saw her blushing, what the hell was she planning? The closer we got to the library I could hear music coming from the tree. Ugh, that whole tree still weirded me out. Just…why?

“Looks like we’re here” I stated flatly. “Hopefully this will be a bit better than the previous night, right?” Celestia, Coban. Terrible joke, way too soon for that.

Surprisingly, Rainbow laughed at the joke. “Yeah, I hear ya there.”

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