• Published 20th Aug 2013
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Evergreen, Act I - DoctorEvergreen



A traveling merchant arrives in Ponyville, bringing with him good tidings, strange commodities and a mysterious past.

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Chapter IV: A Horse with a History

Evergreen

Fan fiction by Grey McBoyd



Chapter IV

A Horse with a History


Mac opened his eyes and felt the cool air of the A.C. brisk his skin. The lingering smell of anestheptic and disinfectant filled his nose and the constant beep of an E.K.G. monitor rang in his right ear. He groggily lifted his head and the first thing he heard besides the beeping and the whir of the A.C. was the sound of a familiar voice.

“Ah! Your finally awake!”

He looked to his left in surprise to see Dash lying sideways in the bed next to his, head propped up with her elbow, half of her body covered with sheets and bodily-monitoring pads taped onto her chest.

“Good thing too.” she continued before her foreleg relaxed, her head plopped onto the stiff hospital pillow and she began staring at the ceiling with a smile, “I was just starting to get bored again.”

Mac inspected the space he was in, turning his head to follow the motions of his lethargic eyes. The room was a typical, rectangular hospital room with a white floor, walls, ceiling and furnishings. Four hospital beds were evenly spaced from each other along one of the walls and a night stand with a small drawer was placed on the left side of each. Mac was in the second bed from the left, his E.K.G. placed on his right side and Dash’s on her left, giving them clear sight of each other. On the far wall, past Dash, was a clock hanging next to a four-paned window, providing the amber-tinted sunlight that not only displayed it to be the early evening, but seemed to refract off the alabaster templates, illuminating the entire space naturally. A small flower pot containing a nasturtium, German iris, dog rose and a stalk of lavender laburnum sat beautifully on the fourth bed’s nightstand in the distant corner of the room.

“You seemed pretty out of it when they wheeled you in here.” Dash mentioned, continuing their spontaneous conversation, “What happened?”

Mac veered his sights to Dash as she began her question, then sunk his head into his shoulders as she finished. She turned to her side and propped her head up with her elbow once more.

“Oh come on, relax.” she said, “I know you’re the shy type, but it’s gonna get really boring if you just keep to yourself the whole time.”

She appeared to be scanning the depths of her memory, try to remember something until she spoke.

“…Big Mac, right?”

He nodded timidly, head still at level between his shoulders before he quietly responded.

“Jus’…Big Macintosh, please.”

“Okay.” she said, sounding a little more confident now that Mac started to speak, “So, once more with feeling, what happened to ya?”

Dash patiently waited as Mac contemplated how to react, thinking on whether he should keep his sheepish laconism or rather…. He eventually brought his mind to the thought of finally starting to make a friend or two.

“And what better time to start,” he looked to Dash as he thought, “than now?”

He shrugged to himself, then scooted his body upwards, out from under the sheets and into more of a sitting position, propping his back against the cold metal of the bed frame while being careful not to disturb the heart monitors on his chest or the IV that painfully stuck out of the inside of his right elbow.

“It was earlier t’day at Sweetapple Acres.” he suddenly began, “E’ry year that Doc rounds about the town, the both of us have ourselves a little contest. First, we both git a cart and fill ‘em with about fahve-or-so bags of realleh big and heaveh apples. Next…”

And so he continued to explain the process of the race, along with the incident that happened in the midst of it and the occurrences that followed. Dash reclined, enthralled with the story and situation that Mac displayed as he eventually grew from a less timid explanation to a passionate narration of adrenaline-pumping events. Each scene was told with spectacular imagery and passionate hoof gestures in descriptive body language. Mac began to calm his sensual description with a sigh before finishing it up.

“An’ the last thing Ah remember, Ah was limpin’ down that dirt road that lead here with Doc, and then everythin’ went black.”

“That must’ve been when you passed out.” Dash suggested, “Although I wouldn’t know, Doc didn’t even bother to come in and say ‘Hi’, let alone explain what the hay’s been happening the last few days.”

“He’s probleh jus’ out gettin’ a thing ‘r two fer us.” Mac implied, “You and Ah both know he always has tahm fer his friends.”

Just then they heard the creak of the door and beamed their attention in its direction, spotting Nurse Redheart standing curiously in the doorway. Her expression appeared to acquire some reassurance as her gaze met Mac, realizing he was now conscious.

“Ah! Mr. Macintosh, you’re awake.” she said in her halcyon, beauteous and appeasing voice.

“Hey nurse.” Dash said gladly and casually.

“Hello Ms. Dash. Recovering well, I hope?” she replied while bowing her head slightly and closing her eyes.

“Yup! I can even move my forelegs with out them aching, and my hind legs are feeling better too.” she said, rolling her left foreleg on its socket as she spoke.

“Great!” Redheart replied, “You should be out and about by tomorrow morning. How about you, Mr. Macintosh. Resting well?”

The shy stallion surveyed his chest with his eyes as he did a mental inspection of his body.

“Yeah,” he said, a smile spreading across his face, “Ah’m okay. And ma’am…”

Her attention became more apparent to Mac as he continued.

“You can jus’ call meh Mac, e’rypony else does.”

*****

Dash stopped rolling her left foreleg and used it to support her body as she reached over and socked Mac in his left bicep. He flinched on the impact and asked with a much friendlier and fun tone as he chuckled.

“Ow! What was that fer?!”

“You’re finally coming out of your shy little turtle shell. *heh* Took ya long enough.”

Nurse Redheart laughed at the slapstick humor between the two.

“You really have been healing well,” she said, “*giggle* *sigh*. I have to go check on other patients. But in the mean time, Ms. Dash, if you haven’t already, why not tell Mr. Macintosh your story?”

“Will do. See ya Nurse.”

The friendly white mare proceeded out the door with a humorous glow and a good mood smile across her face.

Mac watched her as she left, looked down at his sheets and chuckled slightly. He turned his gaze to Dash with an eager smile on his face. Several awkward seconds passed until Mac leaned his neck at her and turned his head to the right, heightening his smile on that side to give an impression of “Well?”.

“Oh!” Dash said as she rolled her eyes and promptly placed her hoof to her forehead, “My story…right.”

She relaxed her elbow once more, letting the right side of her face plummet to her pillow. She lifted her middle for an instant and let it fall once more to get comfortable…then she began.

“Yesterday,” she started, “I was practicing a trick of mine out in the woods. It’s one where I dive off a cloud and make a vortex of leaves follow me after I fly over a bunch of trees. I asked Doc to come and cheer me on while I did it, since I haven’t practiced that move in a while. We got everything setup, I was over the trees, wind blowing, and everything was perfect…until I…well…did somethin’ I shouldn’t of.”

After carefully listening, Mac rotated his head to the right and changed his expression to a curious manner. Dash thought he had the cute, curious look of a dog for an instant, then shook her head and focused on the conversation before explaining.

“Every time Doc comes by,” she said, “I buy a bottle or two of a certain…something from him. He doesn’t want me telling anypony about this, but it’s a sort of dream drug thing called “Celeritate”. You see, you take a sip of it…”

She grew into more of an addictatious joy as she looked at the palms of her hooves with wide open eyes and a sadistic grin.

“And it’s like every fiber of your body is in a frantic adrenaline rush! Your eyes zip anywhere and everywhere, your heart beat turns into a solid hum and your speed is increased practically ten fold! Speed freaks like me are like junkies for the stuff and the best part…!”

She looked over to Mac out of the trance of her hooves, pupils dilated to the size of sand, to notice his…reaction. His eyes were wide open to the point that the eyelids were almost gone, his head defensively leaning back. He was genuinely creeped out, Dash could see that crystal clear. She compressed her eyelids together, turned her gaze back to her torso, blinked twice with an open-eyed pause in between each, causing her eyes to dilate to their original beauty before she calmly continued.

“…Um, and the best part is,” she said in an attempt to lighten her tone, “there’s no damage in the long run. You can keep on drinking it and your body won’t ever take any unnatural damage.”

This intrigued Mac, easing his surprise from Dash’s eerie catalepsy. He expected some type of mental or physical deterioration over prolonged use of something that powerful, if it is really what she says it is. Just goes to show you that expectations can be a treacherous thing.

“But anywho, back to my tale of sorrow and woe.” Dash continued with a comedic exaggeration and tone before returning to her normal persona of conversation.

“So yeah. Yesterday, practicing a trick, Doc was there, yada yada yada.” she summarized, “But just before I dived off the cloud, I took a chug of that stuff. And that’s saying a lot, considering you get all those effects from just a tiny sip. My heart raced, my spine jolted and I was dragged by instinct to just hop off without preparation. I dove straight down and pulled up too late, only to meet my face with the bark of a tree at sixty miles an hour. The tree was cracked in half and I think I broke a lot of my bones, along with my noggin.” She tapped the top of her scalp twice after saying the previous description happily.

Mac blinked twice with open eyes at what he perceived, lips at a minimum size on the tip of his muzzle in surprise. He quickly held his right hoof up and gaped his jaw, looking as if he was about to propose something. He followed the previous action after several, silent and stationary seconds and looked down at his bed sheets, hoof over his muzzle in a focused attempt at comprehension.

“Yes, I know it was a stupid thing to do and Doc’s gonna poke at me about it for the rest of his stay. But hay, I certainly learned my lesson.” Dash stated before she fell backwards into her pillow, which had become much more fluffed from being constantly slammed into by Dash’s recently repaired skull.

Mac simply shrugged and plopped back into his pillow as well. They both stared at the ceiling for several minutes, the ceiling fan that hung overhead making a faint *wooh* noise after each, apathetic cycle. Mac’s eyebrows contorted to his eyes in concern only for an instant before he pushed himself back onto his elbows and broke the silence.

“So wait…” he asked, “Doc jus’ fixed e’ry bone in yer body right then and there aftah ya crashed?”

She turned to her side in his direction, too slothful to raise herself to his level once more. Her cheek flattened on the pillow’s plush but solid surface as she simply replied with a somewhat muffled voice.

“Yup.”

“He fixed mahn on the spot too.” Mac mentioned, “Probleh a little bit less elaborately than yers, but still.”

“Yeah. But I was too busy writhing in pain to see Doc fix me up, so I don’t really have a comparison to give you. All I remember was the bark of the tree in my face, my eyes being closed for a little while as I tried to cope with the pain, feeling it get horribly worse at one point that made me scream bloody murder, then opening my eyes to everything with me being back to normal. The problem is that Doc was lying on the ground a foot or two away from me and nothing in my body actually felt like it was fixed. Doc got up after a minute or two and carried me to the hospital. I fell unconscious on the way here and woke up in this bed all hooked up and well…Here I am now, slowly recovering and bored out of my mind.”

Afterwards, several more minutes of silence passed between the two as the ceiling fan made its constant, but slow *wooh* noise, its cycling made only audible by the absolute silence of their utter dullness. Mac decided to continue scanning the space, spotting three paintings on the wall across from the beds. One showed a location resembling the town square, another showed the grim rendition of what seemed to be the Everfree forest, and the last showed a big, steeple-like building in the dead of night, the Moon hanging over and behind the building’s very top with tombstones littering its front. The admiring of each detail kept Mac entertained for a moment or two until the boredom slowly sunk back into his body, forcing him to lie back down as his sheets went up and under the pits of his forelegs, which now rested on his sides. Looking to his nightstand, he thought of a way to break the boredom that tore at his mind like a crazed monkey.

He reached over to the nightstand and opened the drawer, feeling the inside for anything of use…it was empty. So, he looked over to Dash for suggestions, only to find her facing Mac on her side as she soundly slept. The beauty in her slumber was somewhat surprising, her eyelids lightly shut rather than sealed tight and the adorable way she lightly suckled on her pastern (the equivalent to sucking your thumb). He eyed her nightstand and struggled to reach over, open it and feel the surface of a book inside. He retrieved it, holding in his hoof a copy of “Of Mice and Mares”. A good, short read by John Steinbuck that Mac had already read in earlier years. He said Dash’s name to her lightly, waking her up instantly and ceasing the cute teething of her pony wrist. She rubbed her left eye and asked what he wanted before he lobbed the novel over to her. She caught it with surprise, then looked at the cover.

“A mahty good book.” Mac complimented, “Figured ya might like it while Ah take your lead n’ catch some shut eye.”

Before Dash could turn to protest, not being one to read outside of the Daring Doo series, Mac was already turning on his side in the opposite direction of her and shutting his eyes. She stared at him for a second in silence before looking back at the book. Might as well read a chapter or two, anything is better when sleep starts to get boring.

*****

Pinkie Pie was prancing around the town early the next day, same as usual. She happily skipped along any trail she felt like without any sense of navigation or direction, sniffing some flowers she passed by and enveloping the scent for a moment, then continuing her blissful stroll. Just another walk in the park, that’s what a lot of life was for her. Just another day to be yourself, just another day to be Pinkie.

She was trotting along the front of several two-story buildings in town when she heard a sort-of scuffing noise on the roof to her right. She stopped in her tracks and became curious as to what had caused it, and more importantly, what it was doing up there. The sound was not that of a bird or a squirrel, but it resonated like a hoof meeting the shingles of a roof. She looked at a V-shaped space of roof between two buildings and stared intently at it in anticipation. Several moments later, she saw a pony clear the space from one roof to another with a bounding leap, heading from her right to her left across the space. The pony had medical tape wrapped around its wrists and carried a satchel that slung over its shoulder and onto its back with a single strap. The single jump appeared in slow motion to Pinkie as she looked over the persona and noticed his bright white coat, trademark clothes and the smile that Doc rarely let fall.

As the moment returned to normal time and he cleared the space, he continued sprinting along the rooftops, and Pinkie decided to follow him, attempting to get his attention from the streets below. He was fast, very fast and even Pinkie had trouble keeping up with him as he crossed each building’s rooftop with fluent, quick and balanced movements that stretched with the length of his limbs. As he jumped over an alley way, several meter’s distance from one roof to another, and grabbed onto the other building’s ledge, Pinkie yelled his name from the left end of the open corridor. Doc stopped himself from climbing up, recognizing the voice and looking to his left, hanging by his right hoof and keeping his hind-hooves flat on the wall.

“Oh hey Pinkie,” he said casually, “what’s up?”

“You are!” she happily remarked.

She wasn’t trying to sound like a smartaleck, she was just being Pinkie. Doc chuckled once at the response and hopped down from the two-story roof edge, landing in a stance that supported him from the fall, like a somewhat noble kneel. He then nonchalantly stood back up into a regular stance, satchel now hanging over his left side as he gave a slightly tired smile to Pinkie. The first thing she did was not ask him what he was doing, but a compliment.

“That was some really good jumpin’ ya did!” followed by her asking him accordingly, “What were ya doin’ up there anywho?”

He looked over his left shoulder and at the duffle bag as he responded.

“Oh just getting a thing or two for some friends.”

He looked back at her.

“Figured I’d get there as fast as I could.”

“And you sure were!” she mentioned happily, “Even I could barely keep up with you.”

She snickered cutely.

“If you don’t mind me asking, can I tag along?”

“Sure thing!” he answered before spinning around, facing the other end of the alley way and saying as he looked back over his right shoulder.

“Company to me is like a homemade brownie, and a rule of mine says that I can never refuse those.”

Pinkie really liked the sound of that rule.

As they walked down and out the gloomy corridor, Doc spoke again.

“We’ll be passing by a few stores in town, and maybe later we can go see a friend or two of ours.”

“Sounds good to me, lead on!” she gladly proclaimed before they began their quest for “a thing or two” on this calm, Sunday afternoon.

They walked along a street littered with ponies that passed by them peacefully or stayed on the trailside as they lounged with friends in the sun or blissfully kept to themselves. The pair’s first stop was a store that sold gifts, everything from some lusciously cut jewelery to subtle and joyous gift cards for almost any occasion. Doc bought the latter from a nice, young mare that stood behind the counter of the store. She wore huge, circular glasses in front of her grassy-green eyes and her smiling, caramel colored face was surrounded by a thick, long, chocolate-toned mane. She was a very happy and sociable type, doing things such as leaning towards Doc and Pinkie with her elbow on the counter and placing her other hoof on her hip with a smile. Very slight conversation was given between Doc and her, just a little bit of friendly small talk during a purchase that was surprisingly social for its minor length. After they bought the card and began making their way out, they could hear the mare talking to a young filly that sounded as if she stood next to her, presumably a relative of some sorts, but hey, that was her business, not theirs.

On the way to their next destination in the beautiful peak of the day’s sunshine, they were passing through town square and in front of the town hall. They were just admiring the scenery, trotting on the warm soil beneath their hooves when they heard a sarcastic, but experienced and well rounded tone.

“Going somewhere, doctor?”

He recognized the tone instantly and a smile cracked on his face within a fraction of a second. Pinkie recognized the voice as well, but she was much more caught off guard than glad, and Pinkie being surprised yet not glad is certainly not ordinary. They turned simultaneously in the voice’s direction to see the Mayor of Ponyville leaning against a post on the porch of the town hall, her forelegs crossing over her chest as she leaned on her right shoulder, flashing a half-cocky smile to the pair.

*****

“Ms. Mayor,” Doc said formally with a closed-eyed bow of his head and a reminiscent smile, “you’re looking quite well!”

The Mayor walked down the short steps towards them.

“Are you ever going to call me by my real name?” she remarked.

“Probably not.” Doc replied, “You know I give respect where it’s deserved.”

She trotted over to him and they hugged, Pinkie could tell in surprise that they had some sort of good, back-in-the-day kind of relationship.

“You know the Mayor of Ponyville?!” she asked in surprise with an exaggerated tone, hovering jump and outstretched limbs, average Pinkie reaction. Doc just responded with his left foreleg over The Mayor’s right shoulder.

“Yup, we go way back.”

“Indeed.” the Mayor confirmed, “I knew him all the way back into my younger years. I never dreamed of being mayor back then, but the doctor here convinced me to run.”

When Pinkie heard “younger years”, she assumed it meant only a few half-dozen years ago, which stopped her reaction and returned her to a…“normal” persona, if you can describe anything about Pinkie being normal.

“Ms. Mayor,” Doc said with a right hoof gesture from her to Pinkie, “this is my friend, Pinkie Pie.”

The Mayor took a few steps closer to Pinkie, stuck out her hoof and spoke happily.

“It’s a pleasure. We have actually seen each other a few times, but we’ve never actually met.”

Pinkie slowly and nervously stuck out her hoof to grasp the Mayor’s and give it a single, weak shake.

“*heh*” Pinkie snickered, “Never thought I’d be shaking hooves with the Mayor of Ponyville.”

“Likewise to meeting the one who saved the town from that parasprite invasion, especially in such an…interesting fashion.”

“Aw, it was nothin’.” Pinkie humbly replied, “You just need the right know-how and you can do anything.”

They unclasped their hooves before The Mayor responded.

“I couldn’t agree more. But anywho, I sadly have paperwork back in my office with my name on it, or shall I say, needs my name on it. So, my apologies to you two, but I must take my leave before my bodyguard realizes I snuck out again. He’s so passionate about his job.”

She turned back over to Doc and said after scanning the ground with her eyes for the right words to say.

“Thanks…for coming back. I wasn’t sure when you’d be visiting again.”

“I always keep a promise Ivory, you know that.”

She smiled reminiscently up to him, faced the porch and trotted to and up the stairs, going through and closing the large wooden door behind her.

Doc watched as she left with a small, reminiscent smile and a slight tilt to his head. He thought about the fact that she didn’t look back for once, how much she’s changed since they first met. His thoughts were interrupted as Pinkie spoke with an energetic hop and slight yelling tone in her voice.

Wow! You sure have friends in high places!”

“*heh* Yeah…I guess I do.” Doc nervously replied while abrading the spinal area of his neck.

“Anyway,” he perkily said before he pointed to the next shop that stood just across the square, “shall we?”

They entered the candle shop to see a dark grey, aged pony in a typical merchant’s outfit, much like that of Mr. Breezy with his attire that might be compared to a golf uniform. Yet, this pony’s outfit contained more of a darker sense to it, as well as several more hints of red. The withered stallion’s mustache had a much darker shade of grey than his ashen coat, with it covering most of his upper lip but not much of his muzzle. He was cleaning the front counter, looking contentedly at the old rag in his hooves with his deep eyes of chestnut, his other hoof lazily hanging on the counter’s edge.

The shelves that ran along almost every wall were full of candles that appeared to have been lit before, evident by the dry drops of wax that ran down their sides. None of these were currently lit though, the room was just naturally lit by sunlight coming in through a nearby window. The old stallion noticed the duo approaching, instantly stopped cleaning the counter and put the cloth back under it before popping his head back above the wood of the countertop with a smile.

Just as before, the exchange between customer and owner contained some friendly conversation before Doc bought anything. But as they talked, Doc noticed that the old stallion always had this certain glow in how he communicated. He looked as though he was at peace with everything about himself. Doc liked to see that mood in ponies, and kind of wished everypony had such an aura when they hit the stallion’s age. Doc finished his purchase of several candles, shook the pony’s hoof farewell since they had introduced themselves during the conversation, and promptly looked back over his shoulder, waving at Mr. Wick as he and Pinkie left in an even better mood than when they walked in. Mr. Wick waved back at them as they closed the door, keeping his hoof in the air a little bit longer after they left before slowly bringing it down. He hung it off the counter’s edge once more, reached under the counter with the other hoof to grab the old rag, let it flop back onto the countertop and then caressed it with the rag once more, a wrinkled smile barely laying visible under his lush moustache.

“Okay, that should be everything.” Doc said as he double-checked the contents of his duffle bag just outside of the store’s entrance.

“Great!” said Pinkie, “Anything else you need help with?”

“No, not really. It’s still pretty early and I don’t have to be back at the caravan for a while. Anywhere you wanna go?”

“Nope.” she replied with a closed eyed grin.

Doc placed a hoof on his muzzle, wrinkled his brow and thought hard as he looked at the ground. As he thought of what he and Pinkie could do, he heard a familiar voice calling to him from around the corner of the candle shop. He looked around Pinkie and in its direction, spotting Twilight as she peeked around the corner with one hoof on the wall, the common, subtle smile that everypony in town had almost all the time shown on her face.

“Oh hey, Twi! What’s up?”

“Twi?” she asked as she rounded the corner, saddlebags hung over her back, “Only AJ has ever called me that before.”

Doc looked to the bottom right of his eyes and shrugged.

“Eh,” he said, “thought it would fit. I’m kind of one for nicknames.”

Pinkie hopped out of the way as Twilight trotted to Pinkie’s side.

“I could tell. Dashie, AJ, heck they all fit, and so does mine.”

“Really? Awesome! Anyway, what’cha doin’?” he asked with the happy tone of a child.

“I was just going to see a friend of mine, maybe get a certain potion from them.”

Pinkie hopped to turn herself in Twi’s direction.

“Which friend?” she asked.

“I’ll give you a hint, ‘Sooo…Watch out!’.” Twi said as she jumped up on her hind legs, forelegs up over her shoulders and her hooves bent down on Pinkie like some cartoonish monster…the pink mare knew instantly who she was talking about. Pinkie laughed and asked her after wiping a tear of hilarity from her eye with a sigh.

“Mind if we tag along, we’re bored!”

“Sure, no prob.” she happily answered, “You okay with that Doc?”

“Uh…sure.” Doc said, a hint of confusion in his voice, “But who are we seeing again.? I don’t get the hint.”

“Relax, you’ll see.” said Twi mysteriously before continuing her previously determined course, walking away from the two and across the square.

Pinkie followed close behind her with joyous hops, and Doc followed them both, smiling as he hadn’t a clue of their destination. Although, behind a pane of glass on the top floor of Town Hall, the Mayor watched them cross the square from her office with a smile of nostalgia. Turns out she did end up looking back…Some ponies just never change, do they?

*****

Sounds of the unknown echoed against the barks of twisted trees and the muddy earth beneath their hooves squished with each step as the friendly trio trotted through the Everfree Forest, permanent in its state of gloom and lonesome despair.

“So what you’re saying is that the ponies in Ponyville fear this place not for the creepy atmosphere or the things in it, but because its an independently living place?” Doc asked from the back of the three. They all navigated in an evenly spaced line, Twi at the front, Pinkie in the center and Doc at their six.

“Of course that’s why!” Twi responded with her head hanging over her right shoulder to look past Pinkie, who was hopping happily on the soggy trail, causing a miry splash with each bouncy contact she made.

“How can something so unnatural not freak you out?!”

“Probably cause I grew up in a place like that.” he answered with a shrug.

Twilight was slightly baffled by this discovery.

“Where?” she asked simply.

“Long story” he replied with a fiendish grin and a gaze at the top left corner of his eyes.

“*heh* Is that just your excuse for everything?”

“Pretty much.”

Pinkie interrupted their conversation by stopping her uniformed caper and yelling to the two after a slight gasp.

“We’re here!”

Doc and Twi looked forward to see a hollowed tree stump turned into a hut-like abode, various masks and bottles tribally decorating the outside. Doc instantly attained a smile of amazement and remembrance as he loudly whispered.

“No way…”

He ran past the girls and up to the hut’s red, wooden door. They both wondered what in Equestria he was doing, but simply watched in awe as he stopped at the door and flawlessly spoke Zebra while knocking on the door twice with the back of his hoof.

“Yangekuwa na kubisha, Mtu yeyote nyumbani?” he said before everypony froze in a short, silent pause, followed by the sounds of clinking glass and colliding wood coming from inside. Then suddenly, the door swung open and Zecora jumped out at Doc, hugging his ribs tightly under his forelegs and welcoming him with a surprised and joyous tone.

“Wewe umezingatia ahadi yako!”

Doc steadied himself on his hind legs before hugging her back tightly, laughing while he scuffed her striped, mohawk mane and spoke in an inquisitive, friendly tone.

“Jinsi umekuwa, Bakora?”

“Kubwa, vipi kuhusu wewe?”

“Faini...faini...jinsi ni kiingereza yako kuja pamoja?”

Both the girls were mentally deaf to whatever conversation these two were in, right up until Zecora unclamped from Doc’s middle, they both steadied back onto all fours and Zecora spoke to Doc in a reply.

“My Equestrian has been at its peak, but only in rhymes, may I speak.”

“Good job!” he said enthusiastically, “Keep it up and it’ll become second nature in no time.”

He looked to the girls once he finished his sentence with a jolly chuckle and noticed their utterly baffled expressions, instantly closing his widely spread, smiling muzzle and opening his eyes widely in a sort of awkward surprise. He stole a quick, suspicious glance at both of them with a flick of his eyes and spoke after several awkward seconds.

“Uh…guess I have some explaining to do, don’t I?”

“It was a while back, at least eight years from now, and I was exploring Zecora’s homeland for reasons that I’m not gonna say.” Doc explained as they all sat in a circle on the floor of Zecora’s hut.

Pinkie sat to the left of Doc, Twi to his right and Zecora across from him.

“I was researching the ways of Zecora’s kind for a…” he held his hooves up and bent them twice to resemble air quotes as he said, “ ‘business matter’. Anyways, it was sort of a ‘Dances with Timberwolves’ kind of story. I needed to get info about Zecora’s tribe for this business thing, the tribe didn’t like me very much, she alone stood up for me, I got acquainted with the tribe and their customs, including the info I needed, but revealing it would have led to the tribes destruction so I kept it to myself.”

Twi loved the story he referenced, but remained focused in listening to this tale of Doc’s somewhat distant past.

“The tribe didn’t like my nosiness in their affairs and saw me as an enemy from the start. Zecora here stood up for me though, said that the tribe should be a little less dependent on just their own knowledge and resources. So they let me stick with them for a while, but only on certain conditions. I had to be as formal as I could to others, no nicknames and giving respect where it belongs at all times, yada yada yada. Zecora didn’t mind though, so I gave her the nickname Stripes, which translates to ‘Bakora’ in her language.”

“He has learned our language without a doubt, yet my skills in Equestrian have still to come about.” Zecora complimented on his story.

Though, Twi wondered why Zecora judged her own abilities.

“But you sound just find to me.” she remarked.

“Same thoughts here,” Doc added, “but she only speaks in rhymes so she can think through what she wants to say. It was a trick I showed her as I taught her Equestrian…and she taught me Zebra.”

“Wow, you must have stayed their a long time to learn an entire language.”

“Four months as a matter of fact,” he reclined backwards onto the edge of an old, wooden chair with his neck and said with his hooves behind his head and a close-eyed smile, “and I don’t regret a second of it.”

Four months?!” asked Twi, “Quite a long time for a ‘business trip’, don’t you think?”

Twi gave the same hoof motions for “business trip” as Doc did.

“True…” Doc responded, “but if you new what my ‘business’ was at the time, it wouldn’t sound strange in the slightest. Too bad that that,” he gave a sly grin, “is another long story.”

Zecora laughed whole-heartedly and said while her cachinnation boiled down.

“*hahahah* Out of all the words for your excuse, it is still ‘long story’ that you abuse?”

“Eh,” he said uncaringly, “I was too lazy to think of something else…it’s good to follow rule thirteen.”

She chuckled once at the remark of that subject. Doc noticed that the girls looked inquisitive when he mentioned the rule number, so before they got a chance to ask, he simply answered them.

“Keep it simple.”

“But in the mean time,” he returned to the previous subject, bringing himself back to a sitting position by throwing his body weight backwards, then rocking himself forwards to a vertical stance, “I might as well make this long story short. After I gained the tribes trust and got the necessary information, I told them the actual reason I was even there and the ‘business’ I was supposed to do. But to keep them from skinning me alive and for their acceptance of me, I made a promise not to reveal the info and keep their tribe safe. They knew I would keep that promise, but I was heading home all the same whether they decided to kick me out or not, which they did. So, basically as I walk away from the tribe’s territory, Stripes here sort of catches up to me and yells, from a distance, the promise that we’d meet again someday…in Equestrian, of all things to yell it in. And so, many suns and moons later, here we are,” he looked to Stripes and they smiled to each other, reminiscent and nostalgic, “keeping our promises the way we should.”

The girls sat with faces of quiet amazement after hearing such a true, heartfelt story. They even almost felt like crying a little, but they didn’t and simply gave that type of smile you give somepony when you know they deserve it. Stripes and Doc beamed each other a closed-eye simper before they looked back to the girls.

“Wow…that was beautiful.” Twi remarked.

“Thanks.” Doc quietly replied with a humble and reminiscent smile, “Quite the tales we weave as we get to know our friends, huh?”

“Absolutely…” Twi responded before remembering why she was there in the first place, “Oh, and I hope you don’t mind me asking Zecora, but can I get a utility tonic or two? It’s for research.”

Stripes answered with a more glad than nostalgic simper across her muzzle, but she was still just as happy as her old, alabaster friend.

“Of course child, anything for you. And I think for your studies, I have just the brew.”

She got up and made way for a makeshift counter on the other end of the hut. The three sat there patiently as she mixed and stirred up a strangely colored liquid that emanated an unusual plume of purple smoke, typical brew for most miscellaneous uses. After a few moments, Twi began looking around the hut and eventually to her friends, looking over Pinkie momentarily and then turning her attention to Doc. She looked him over silently until she noticed the bandages that tightly covered his wrists, originally just thinking he had the sleeves on his work shirt rolled down for once.

“What happened?” she asked him calmly, pointing to them in emphasis.

He looked at his wrists alertedly for a second, then returned his gaze to her as he casually spoke.

“Oh, remember yesterday, how my wrists were all torn from the harnesses.”

Twi nodded.

“Well…” Doc paused momentarily in thought on how to explain why his wounds were not instantly fixed by his healing abilities. He smiled just before continuing happily.

“I’m too lazy to fix them with magic. But relax, I’ll do it later. For now, I’ll just let nature take its course.”

Doc looked to his watch after several more minutes of waiting and raised his eyebrows slightly, then began to stand up.

“Actually,” he said, “I need to get going. Have to deliver a little present.”

As Twi heard the way he said “little present”, she grew slightly suspicious, but forgot about it a moment later and hoped for the best in whatever he was doing. Just then, Stripes came over with a strange bottle of tonic, designed to speed up the mixture of substances. So everypony grabbed their gear after giving appreciation and farewell, saddled up and set out to wherever they pleased, all but Stripes who remained under the door frame of her hut as she watched Doc look back at her from the back of the trio’s reestablished formation. He looked over his shoulder from the back of the group and gave her a little salute with a flick of his hoof off the top of his forehead, then looked back to face the direction the group traveled. Zecora had déjà vu of the day Doc left her tribe back when she was younger, remembering that same salute he gave when he walked away from what she almost thought would be the last time. But she knew of Doc’s strange ways both then and now, which made her feel warm inside as she noticed the hidden promise Doc made when he looked back. The one he makes every time he looks back.

The group trotted out of the Everfree Forest and back into the town square. They stopped in the middle of a street-way leading into it as Doc stretched his limbs and spoke in a pressured voice while doing so.

“So…what will you be doing now?”

“I actually have to be back at the Library soon,” Twi answered, patting the side of one of her saddlebags, “I need to go and put these tonics to use.”

“Okay, see ya later!” said Pinkie, “I’m starting to get hungry, so I think I’ll head back to Sugarcube Corner for a snack or two. See ya guys later!” and she hopped off in the direction of her humble, pastry-making abode.

The two gave a little wave as she bounced off, then looked back at each other. Doc grinned happily and Twi did the same in response before Doc happily concluded their little time together.

“See ya later.”

He began walking away, but as he did so, Twi saw him look back over his shoulder only for a second to give a friendly smirk. Twi felt warm inside for some reason, as if Doc looking back to her gave her a sense of security in some way. She didn’t know how or why, but she was just glad it did.

*****

Mac woke up, barely cracking his eyes open to the painful sunlight that poured into the room and set his cornea aflame. He looked to his left to see Dash asleep once more, the book he recommended to her being held tightly to her chest. He gave a small smile of personal accomplishment followed by a single chuckle, he knew she would like it. He looked beyond her and to the clock on the wall, three twenty-six, guess the body needs a lot of sleep to heal a wound like his. Instantly, his expression gave the appearance of him remembering something important just before he beamed his gaze at his sheeted leg and flung the tightly tucked covers off of it. He looked at it for a moment, lifted it in the air, rolled it in circles on his fibula and bent it inwards and outwards once. It was fully healed, he didn’t know how, but he was just glad and amazed that it was. He felt good knowing he’ll be back up and running in no time. He also felt glad that Dash’s dents and dings should also be gone soon, if they aren’t already. He relaxed his leg from the tension of keeping it in the air and let out a sigh, looking into the ceiling contentedly. His head curiously looked to the right, almost out of instinct, to see a colorful “Get well!” card standing vertically on his nightstand. He was surprised to see a gift for him, and then the irony sank in of him receiving it on the day of his recovery. He reached over and plucked it off the nightstand. The outside read “When times have you down, here’s to you getting right back up.” in bold, colorful, abstract and diagonal letters. He smiled and opened the card to see Doc’s hoofwriting on the inside.

“Hey Mac!” it read, “Hope you get back on your hooves soon. This card is for both you and Dashie, so can you give this to her and say hi for me?”

Next to the word “this” was an arrow that pointed to a small bottle of celeritate about three centimeters tall, taped to the inside of the card underneath the writing. At the very bottom of the card, Doc wrote in italicized letters.

“Hope you get out of there soon, you two have lives to live.” and added a small, childishly drawn smiley face directly under the writing.

Copyright 2012

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