• Published 26th Feb 2015
  • 3,990 Views, 294 Comments

Three of Hearts - Anzel



Azurite is a pony relations warrant officer for the Canterlot Palace. It was supposed to be a relaxing change from royal guard duty, but that idea falls apart when her heart is pulled in two different directions... toward a stallion and a mare.

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3. My First Flight

“I really don’t understand the difference between the first option and the second one,” the stallion sitting in my office said to me.

Setting my hoof at the top of the sheet I went over it again. “You have two choices for your retirement plan. You can pay taxes now and then withdraw the bits later tax free or you can put bits in now pre-tax but pay taxes later when you withdraw them.”

He wasn’t getting it. I smiled and tried again. “Basically, you’re trying to decide if you think you’ll make more money now or later in life. Once you retire from the guard that is.”

“Won’t I get my pension if I retire from the guard?”

“Absolutely! Of course it won’t be as much as you make now. This is like putting money aside today to save for the future to make sure your income stays the same. I want to make sure you’re comfortable in that retirement.”

The stallion smiled. “Well, that is nice of you! Which one should I do?”

In training I was told that ponies always asked which option was the best and I wasn’t supposed to tell them. The answer was different for every pony.

I squirmed and replied, “It largely depends on how you’re doing money-wise right now. If you’re fine and don’t need a few extra bits most financial ponies would recommend saving post-tax bits. If things are tight right now you might want to consider pre-tax bits. It will reduce your immediate taxes.”

“Well… the wife and I have been doing pretty great. Why don’t I just pay the taxes now. Then, in the future we won’t pay any at all. Right?” he asked.

“Exactly! I’ll mark you down for that… and that means you’re all set. Thank you for dropping by.”

The guard stood up and nodded. “Thank you again, warrant officer. You made that really easy.”

“That’s my job! Take care!”

As he went out the door Lieutenant Brook walked in. “Another satisfied customer. You’re getting quite the reputation, Azurite,” he said.

My thoughts briefly went back to the shower gossip. Shaking the notion away I replied, “I hope it is a good reputation.”

“Yes, it is. You’ve taken a lot of stress off me for sure. With all of this pony relations paperwork off my plate I can actually spend more time on my command functions. Thank you for that.”

“No problem, sir. It is my job and I really do enjoy it. It is certainly different from patrolling the streets but I want to be here. Was there anything else?”

He shook his head. “No, I just believe in letting ponies know when they do a good job. Have a good evening.”

“You, too, sir. Thank you again.”

Ponies in the palace really were all kinds of nice. It was time to call it a day according to my nemesis, the clock. It didn’t take but a moment to get out of my armor and secure my office. Then it was off to the mane salon. I wanted a new look for next week’s date.

Happily trotting along and lost in my thoughts I barely heard a masculine voice say, “Hey… you’re Azurite, right?”

“Hmm?” I turned around and found myself standing in the presence of the Wonderbolt, Soarin. He was there again… all muscled and in that tight uniform. “I am,” I squeaked.

“I thought so! We met at Sunny’s office. You’re her friend.”

“I am,” I repeated dumbly while I stared at the dashing stallion.

“Listen, I know you’re off duty and I hate to bother you… but I’ve got some forms I was supposed to get done, like, yesterday and our pony resources pony is gone for the day. The palace guards say you’re really good at this. Would you be able to help me?”

“I am.” Come on, tongue! We can do better than that. He is just a stallion. A rugged blue stallion with good looks and the athletic ability to delight thousands of ponies.

“You are?” he asked in confusion.

The small mare inside me bucked my brain and I cleared my throat. “I am able to help you. That is what you asked, right? Would you like to come down to my office?” Alone. That last part I added in my head excitedly.

“Yeah, great! Thanks.”

When we got to my office it took me two tries to get the lock undone with my magic. Once we were inside Soarin set down a massive, disorganized, and disheveled stack of papers.

“So… uh… I kind of haven’t done any of these,” he admitted.

Focus on the work Azurite. You’re a professional! One of the papers levitated off the top and towards me. I fixed my eyes on his big green ones and nodded. “It’s fine, vice commander. We can do this!”

♥♥♥

Soarin was, without a doubt, the least prepared pony that I had ever helped with paperwork. He was also the most attractive stallion I’d ever prepared pony resource documents for so I considered it even.

Four and a half hours later we were finally done. Soarin had zoned out about an hour back and was sitting in the chair on the others side of my desk slowly spinning in circles.

“Alright, vice commander, I think you’re set.”

He blinked and shook his head as if to knock the dust off. “Great! You can call me Soarin, though. Wonderbolts are barely military. I really appreciate you taking all that time to do this. Sorry it was such a mess.”

Waving a hoof at him I replied, “It is my job… and strangely seems to be a talent. I’m just glad you caught me. Half of these were due tomorrow.”

“Yeah… annual paperwork isn’t my strong suit. Well, since I kept you over for hours can I buy you dinner? Or at least a pie?” he asked.

Dinner with a handsome, drool-worthy stallion? You bet your green eyes you could! “Dinner would be nice, if it isn’t too much.”

“No problem! I’m starving anyway. There is this awesome place on the other side of town that makes dumplings and noodles. How does that sound?”

“Delicious… but it will take a while to get there. I wouldn’t want to hold up dinner while you wait on me to plod along.”

Soarin’s head tilted and then he laughed. “Oh, right! No wings. No problem! Come on, I’ve got an idea.”

♥♥♥

“THIS IS AWESOME!” I screamed into the wind. My heart was racing and my eyes were watering from the speed.

“Yuuup!” Soarin replied above me.

The stallion had his forehooves looped under mine and was carrying me while he flew. It was scary to dangle over the rooftops of Canterlot but I trusted him and the feeling was exhilarating. Pegasi had it good!

Without warning we started spiraling down at full speed. My stomach retreated lower into my body and I squealed, “Oh Celestia!” The street leapt up to meet us and, right before we hit it, the ride came to a halt and Soarin gently set me down.

“Thank you for flyin’ Soarin. Please be careful as the contents of your body may have shifted in flight.”

We laughed and I shook my head. “That was amazing. Dinner AND a ride.”

“I do try to bring a certain level of excitement to the daily lives of ponies. Still ready to eat or do you need to let your stomach settle?” he asked.

Lightly I bumped my shoulder to his… leg. Our shoulders weren’t remotely close to the same height and that was the best I could do. “It takes more than that to rattle me! Come on, you promised me noodles.”

“Yes I did!”

♥♥♥

One thing ponies may not know about Soarin is that he is really into food. Not in the ‘just likes to eat it’ sort of way either. He knew things about flavor combinations as well as where to eat, what to eat it, how to eat it, and the likes. Soarin hadn’t just taken me to dinner. He had me on a culinary experience.

“I feel like up until now, I was just eating food.”

The pegasus laughed and nodded. “Yeah, that happens to everypony. I try to really experience what I’m eating when I can. Most of the time we just have to fuel up quickly and get back to work.”

“Being a Wonderbolt is tough, huh?” I inquired.

“Yup. We work out constantly, practice just as often as we work out, and go all over to perform shows. Ponies think it is all glamour, fillies, and fun but it can take a lot out of you. Thankfully we’ll be here in Canterlot for a while.”

Working out indeed. He wasn’t in uniform but the stallion certainly still cut an imposing figure. My chin rested on my hoof as I listened to him.

“Most ponies that get close usually want something from us. And then of course it is super competitive inside the group, too. There is always somepony waiting for you to get hurt so that they can take your spot. Still… I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”

With a warm sigh I replied, “Me neither.”

“Huh?”

My ears stood at attention and I’m certain I turned white. “I-I couldn’t imagine doing anything else either. I really like being in pony relations.” Whew, good save Azurite.

“Oh. Yeah, that makes sense. You’re like really good at it, too. I didn’t understand half of what you told me earlier but I had the feeling everything was going to be set up right. You know it was pretty cool of you to spend your personal time to help me out.”

“It really wasn’t a bother. I was just doing my job and, hey, I got a flight and amazing dinner experience. The way I see it I owe you.”

Soarin’s ears wiggled and he nodded. “Hey… yeah, maybe you do.”

“I do what?”

“Owe me.”

And it was going so well! I had hoped there was more to the stallion than being a show pony. “Okay?”

The stallion leaned forward on the table. “You’re a pretty cool filly and a good listener. You never asked for anything. So how about you let me take you on a date sometime?”

A date? With me? What was it with me lately! I already had a date. What would Sunny think? Well… she already had another date, now that I thought about it. She’d probably say go for it.

Green eyes stared at me and finally I nodded. “Okay, deal. When?”

“Friday. Come over to the training center when you get off work. You can catch the end of our practice and then I’ll fly you to this great place in Ponyville. We can eat, hang out, and take in the sights of the town. It is a really amazing place.”

“That sounds great, especially the flying part. It’s a date, then.”

“Cool! Well, it is getting late and I have training really early. Let me go settle up and I’ll drop you off at home.”

“Sure.” I replied before settling back.

Two dates. Was that typical for the palace? Would those mares in the shower be talking about… All-The-Way Azurite? Hmm, that didn’t roll off the tongue as well. She’ll… Az You Right? That didn’t make sense. Well, good luck, mares! I had two dates.

♥♥♥

Mr. Clockerson and I sat quietly in my office going over paperwork. Well… I did the paperwork and he just kept saying “tick, tick, tick.” We had brokered an uneasy peace. He would tick a tiny bit faster and I’d treat him with respect. That is when I’d learned his name.

What surprised me most was that Mr. Clockerson, while being a plain royal guard utility clock, was married to a fancy hour glass. It seemed to me that they would have hideous children but I didn’t tell him that.

My door opened and Lieutenant Brook came in. I went to stand and he waved a hoof. “At ease. I received a note from Vice Commander Soarin of the Wonderbolts that said you burnt midnight oil helping him with his pony resources package.”

“Yes, sir. Their warrant officer was gone and he had met me before so I did it. I hope that is okay.”

“If you want to help ponies on your off hours that is completely okay. Awfully kind even. Anyway, this sort of thing looks really good. I put it in your file. Do you have enough to keep you busy?”

In truth I didn’t but I wanted to steal a little extra time for myself. “Almost, sir. I could handle a little more if you had something.”

He shrugged. “I don’t but I’ll keep it in mind. Good work, Azurite. Have a nice day.”

And just like that he was gone. The lieutenant was all about positive reinforcement which was a nice thing. It made him really easy to work for. I was truly starting to appreciate my job with the palace guard regardless of why I had transferred there.

“Tick, tick, tick,” Mr. Clockerson warned me but I wasn’t paying attention.

This pony’s paperwork was a mess and I needed to straighten it all out. That took another hour or so.

“Tick! Tick!”

“Oh, you hush!” I set down my papers and glared up at him. “Oh…” I was late for my courier circuit. Diving over my desk I hurried out the door, got the missives, and started throwing them into office mail boxes as fast as my magic could flare.

Out of breath and panting I stumbled into Sunny Day’s office with the last three missives floating in front of me. My magic flickered a few times, almost dropping them before Sunny’s took over.

She looked at me with concern and confusion.

“I.” Huff. “Am.” Puff. “Late.”

Sunny sat up straight in her chair and then smiled slyly, “Well, it isn’t mine. We haven’t even been on a proper date yet.”

“What?” I asked before the load of bricks fell on my understanding button. Heat radiated from my cheeks and ears as I flushed. “What? No! For my rounds.”

The unicorn had her hooves over her mouth while she laughed merrily. “Oh, Azu, I’m just playing. Besides, we’re both mares. Do you need a lesson on this?” She reached over and opened her desk drawer. “I’ve got some dolls in here to help me explain.”

Quickly I shook my head. No no, nope, no. “Wait, why do you have dolls in your drawer?”

“Do you not?” she retorted, snickering.

We exchanged glances for a while. I was at a loss for words. Finally I just shrugged and smiled. Then, in the corner of my brain, something rippled. I should tell her.

Sunny went about opening and looking at her missives.

My hooves took me over to her desk and I looked up at her.

“Is there something else?” she asked curiously. “Not that I mind you staring at me.”

Staring, right. I blinked and set my forehooves on her desk. Okay Azurite, you’re an adult, you can do this. “Date!” I blurted.

The letters went down to the desk and Sunny giggled. “Yes, we have a date. I haven’t forgotten.”

Sweat beaded right under the bangs of my mane. “I have a date,” I corrected my blabber mouth. “Soarin asked me on a date.”

Sunny’s chin went to her hoof so that she’d be eye level with me. “Is that so?”

Uh oh, she looked… well, not mad. I’d never seen Sunny look mad, actually. She looked… less than rainbows and gumdrops happy. Nervously I pushed on, “Yes… but not during our date.”

“Oh, okay then.” She smiled and was back to her usual self.

“It’s okay?”

Her nose wrinkled and she tilted her head. “Well… I have a date with a different pony. Why can’t you? You don’t belong to me and I certainly don’t like being a hypocrite. Now if you were canceling, my feelings might be hurt. That would be totally different. Honestly, you didn’t even have to tell me.”

My heart resumed beating which, thankfully, meant I wasn’t going to die. “I would be very upset if I hurt your feelings. I thought you had a right to know.”

“You did, hmm?” she purred, that pre-pounce look returning to her eyes.

I still hadn’t figured out what it meant so I just nodded.

Sunny motioned me around to her side of the desk and I obliged. She looped a hoof around me in a light hug. “You’re very sweet. Listen, let me finish up a few things and then we’ll go out tonight. I think we should have a talk.” I tensed. She felt it and smooshed me back against her. “It isn’t a bad talk. I promise.”

I wasn’t certain but I nodded. Once she had let me go I went to my office, shut the door, and had a meeting with Mr. Clockerson.

♥♥♥

For our talk Sunny had picked a quiet, subdued tea house with large booths that afforded a lot of privacy. There also weren’t a lot of ponies there so that was a bonus. I’d picked a seat and she had nestled in beside me instead of across. The waitress sat down two cups of tea and wandered off.

“Okay!” Sunny Day said cheerfully. “I think we should have a little talk about expectations just so no pony’s feelings ever get hurt. Alright?”

I nodded. That was reasonable.

“Now, you don’t have to answer anything but I’m curious. You have been on a date before, right?”

“Yes, a reasonable amount, but not since school… so I’m a little rusty.” It was true.

She nodded. “And have you had a special somepony before?”

“Not since school.” That was my answer for most questions.

“And you were exclusive?”

That was an odd question. “To the best of my knowledge?”

Her nose wrinkled. “Mare or stallion?” Her tone was wispy and teasing.

I wasn’t sure why but I was getting embarrassed. My head ducked a little. “Well… stallions for dates and only one for my somepony. He and I lost touch after we graduated.”

Sunny hugged her hooves across her chest. “Oh my! Love broken by circumstance!”

“Well… that and we were just kids. Who marries their high school sweetheart these days?” I asked.

She teased, “Of course. So you only dated one pony at a time?”

That was true so I nodded.

“Okay, well, like I said, if a pony asks me I at least give them a chance. You seemed okay with that but you also said you thought I had a right to know you had a date. Those things are kind of opposite, right?”

“Uh… not exactly?”

She looked surprised. “How so?”

Twiddling my hooves I laid it out. “You told me about your other date. Plus you made it clear you saw other ponies. My guess was you thought I was just seeing you.”

That just seemed to confuse her. “Wait… so the first part I get. You’re saying it would be okay for me to see other ponies but not for you to do the same?”

For some reason that sounded right and I told her so.

Sunny Day laughed and shook her head. “No! Azu, come on. Look, you’re fine. You date who you want to date and I’ll do the same. If things go well maybe we get exclusive. Okay?”

That certainly was more balanced. “Okay.”

Her tone lowered and she leaned in really close. So close I could feel her breath on my ear. “And when did you decide you liked mares?”

That closeness and soft breath against me made me uncomfortable in the good sort of way. I squirmed against Sunny but she didn’t let up. “During the academy… my bunkmate. I had funny feelings every time I looked at her and one day I just thought… Celestia, that mare is for me.”

Sunny’s forehooves crept around me and she pulled me closer. “And did you ever do anything about it?”

My head shook extremely fast. “Oh, no, no, no. She had a husband, a foal, and a whole lot of small town opinions on that sort of thing.”

“Oh, drat.” Sunny huffed. “I was hoping for a juicy story. So… you’ve never…” She paused a moment to pick the exact words she wanted. “...explored the mare side of things?”

Blush shows up really well on a light blue pony and I was fairly certain I turned streetwalker red. My head shake set new speed records. “No! No sports!”

The golden mare squeezed me tightly and actually nibbled my ear. It was debilitating. I melted into her hooves and was completely at her mercy. We were out in public but I didn’t care!

She whispered, “Lucky me.” Then she promptly stopped and let me go.

My muzzle hung open in surprise and Sunny Day just sat next to me, giggling. “Oh, you’ll just have to wait. I think I’ve figured out exactly what kind of pony you are, Azu.”

Medically speaking, I’m aware that I still had a tongue. Metaphorically speaking, it had left the building. The best I could do was sputter, “Okay.”

♥ 3 ♥

Author's Note:

I really enjoyed writing Soarin. He pops up in a lot of fictions and I wanted to do a slightly different version of him. Soarin the foodie!

This is probably one of my favorite chapters for this story. I hope you all enjoy it!