• Published 21st Aug 2015
  • 628 Views, 163 Comments

Daring-Do and the Leaf in the Wind - Sylvian



Daring-Do, along with her friend Leaf Wind, are assigned a mission by Princess Luna. What they find may change Equestria's past and future. And, perhaps, their relationship.

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Make like a Leaf and...

The journey back to the small port town of Half-Flanks takes Daring and Leaf two days and one night. The days were, as before, unbearably hot and nearly intolerable. The nights, well the nights were warmer than previously. Leaf and she had been eager to return to the civilized parts of this dune covered land, perhaps more excited than they had ever been on any other return trip.

Or, at least, Daring was excited. Leaf had looked wistful the last time they had made camp, and had said he wouldn’t mind getting lost out here with her for a few more days, just the two of them. Daring had smiled and chuckled at that, but reminded him gently they did need to get back and tell Luna they had succeeded. Still, getting lost with him wouldn’t be so bad, if only so she wouldn’t have to share him.

Shaking her head, Daring chides herself for that stray thought, finding she has stopped in the middle in the of one of the many dust covered walkways that make up the area around the hotel Leaf and she had a room in. She ambles over to the post office, a few carefully worded hoof-written letters needing to be sent back to Equestria and to their respective recipients. Most importantly, was the one that was to go to Luna, who had funded this crazy endeavor, bearing words that the gambit had not only paid off but had given back in spades would be something the Princess would want to know as soon as she possibly could.

Slowing down as she approaches the large whitewashed Post Office, Daring cannot help but feel a little apprehension. Telling Luna that they’d finished their mission meant it really was over, and that they’d soon be back to Equestria; Daring back to her writing, Leaf back to whatever it was he did when he wasn’t keeping her company (or her bed warm). Something about that gives her pause. She doesn’t really want to go their separate ways, not this time. The thought in, and of itself, is shocking to Daring. Her and Leaf’s relationship is built upon them being able to just be together one day, and gone the next. It a partnership of convenience, nothing more.

Or is it…?

Shaking her head again, Daring hunches her shoulders. No, she can’t get sentimental now, she needs to get these letters to the post office, and then she can worry about this. Whatever this is.

Sighing, Daring walks up to the post office, a Saddle Arabian mare behind the counter smiling to her in a friendly matter that defuses much of the tension.

“What can I do for you?” the mare asks in a heavily accented voice.

“I need to send some letters,” Daring replies in as neutral a voice as she can. “Priority, if it is available. They need to get to their destination as soon as possible.”

The mare behind the counter nods, her smile remaining.“That is possible,” the mare says slowly. “Depending on their destination we can guarantee their arrival in a day to a few days, no more than five.” The mare nods, as if doing so makes it true, and Daring cannot help but smirk a little.

“Sounds like what I need,” Daring replies, pulling the letters from her saddlebag and putting them onto the counter, sliding the usual amount of bits for postage up next to them. “I hope this is enough to cover it?”

The post mare nods and accepts the bit, followed by the letters.“Is there anything else you need posted?” the post mare asks. Daring shakes her head and the mare nods, “Alright, you have a good afternoon.”

“Thank you,” Daring replies with a warm smile as she turns and heads off back in the direction of the hotel.

The hotel in question, named the Wandering Compass, is located near the center of town, and is a large three story sandstone building with the typical clay whitewash finish. It is a frequent starting and ending point for many expeditions into the endless dunes of Saddle Arabia’s interior, and, as such, most of the stores where supplies can be found for such ventures are located within proverbial spitting distance of the front door. The Royal Equestrian Explorer’s League also makes this their unofficial headquarters in Saddle Arabia, thus, as Daring gets close to her destination, many a fellow explorer greets her in the street. She greets the seasoned ones with a wave and a return of their greeting, and the new faces with smiles and wishes of good luck. Just because everyone knows, or assumes rather, that she works alone does not mean she cannot wish those just starting out their career luck.

And, as she walks through the front door and into the common lounge of the hotel, that assumption takes front and center.

“I don’t care how well you spin the tale, lad,” a grizzled veteran is loudly saying from his table, “I know Daring works alone, and nothing you say will change that.”

“Well, I tell you, I just got back from exploring the most amazing ancient temple with her!” Leaf says loudly, more than a few heads turning in his direction. “I was asked by Princess Luna herself to go with my friend Daring-Do!” The veteran laughs and shakes his head, his monocle nearly coming off.

“Like I said, young colt,” the veteran continues, “I know Daring works on her own. Has for years! I myself attempted to go on more than a few expeditions with her.” He picks a pipe up from where it was resting on the table next to him and points it at Leaf. “All ended the same, she works with nopony, and that is the long and short of it.” He lights his pipe as Leaf looks about ready to chew the poor old stallion’s head off. Unable to watch this go on any further, and unwilling to bail Leaf out of the local drunk tank, Daring makes her way over quickly and wraps an arm around her companion’s neck.

“Now, Leaf Wind, there is no need to compare accomplishments,” Daring says in a voice loud enough that it carries through the entire room, “I mean, it takes a very special kind of stallion to follow me into dark, trap filled, and likely deadly places.” Daring says with a wink to the old veteran sitting in front of them, a look of profound shock plastered on his face. “But then, you are a special kind of crazy.”

Leaf chuckles, blushing slightly. “I’ll take that as a compliment, Dee,” he says slowly. “Then again, you’re a special kind of crazy yourself. I mean, you’re the one who keeps angering the locals wherever we go.”

Daring waves a hoof dismissively at this and rolls her eyes. “Oh, it was one time Leaf!” she replies with a bit of mock hurt. “I mean, they weren’t using that idol! I thought it’d look better in a museum, or at least might unlock that tomb we were attempting to get into.” She then pauses and taps a hoof against her muzzle. “I really should get around to donating it to the Royal Equestrian Museum of Ancient History, but it really does look good on my mantel.”

Leaf chuckles and shrugs. “I know what would look better on that mantel,” he says with a smirk.

“You’re going to say your picture, aren't you?” Daring replies with a smirk on her own.

Leaf puts a hoof to his chest and looks shocked. “Why, no Daring, I was not!” He then winks and smiles broadly. “But, you know, since you mentioned it, I am sure my face would make the perfect addition to your mantel.”

Daring chuckles and shakes her head, then looks over at the old veteran and then back to Leaf. “But, how rude of me I seem to have interrupted your conversation with the fine old stallion here.” She smiles to the veteran. “Please, forgive me, I sometimes forget myself. I am sure you and Leaf here will have much to talk about, seeing as we’re all tenured explorers.” She puts a hoof to Leaf’s chest and smiles. “Tell him about the time we explored that lost city over in Eqynt. I am sure he’ll love it.” She then turns to walk away. “And, while you do that, I am going to go get us some seats over in the restaurant, we’ll want to get an early start tomorrow if we’re to book passage home.”

Leaf nods and does a mock salute to Daring. “Alright, Dee,” He then looks back to the veteran, “So, where was I? Oh, yes….”

Daring leaves the two to talk, or at least Leaf to regale the poor old stallion with widely blown up stories of him and Daring exploring. She might have to ask him to retell some of them later, so she can take notes for her next book. Of course, she might just write them down for her publisher to look over, as he does enjoy reading the over-the-top adventure stories that come out of Leaf’s mouth from time to time. They never get published, but Daring is sure Prose has a collection of them sitting in a book on his desk for personal amusement.

Heading through a door at the back of the lounge, Daring comes into the outdoor restaurant that is attached to the hotel. It’s styled in a fashion after the gardens of the Saddle Arabian aristocracy, with large cloth shades hanging over the dining area centered around a stylized marble fountain showing three alicorns holding jugs from which the water flows into the fountain. The entire thing is enclosed in a short stone wall with planters along the top, adding to the garden feel and adding the pleasing smell of exotic flowers to the air.

Waiting her turn at the entrance, Daring admires the peaceful air the restaurant has cultivated, as being a normal rest-stop for adventurers like herself, many with not only clashing ideas about their work, but also rivals for the same sights, she cannot help but marvel at the fact nopony is fighting or arguing loudly.

Before too long, the source of the calm atmosphere walks up to Daring with a warm smile.

The proprietor of the restaurant, and one of the owners of the hotel itself, is an aged unicorn mare who carries herself with an air of knowing exactly what she is doing, and what she is capable of. One of the few retired adventurers from the early days when Equestria’s ponies were just starting to become curious about the world and its history, she had struck it rich with a find of a lifetime, invested her bits and retired. She had gone into business with a local Saddle Arabian stallion who she had met on her travels, and opened this hotel a few years prior to Daring’s first expedition to the country.

“Miss Daring Do. To what do I owe the honor of such a mare as famous as yourself darkening my doorstep?” the aged mare asks with a smile, albeit with her eyes holding a certain amount of wary tension.

“I am sure your partner told you, but me and a friend just returned from an expedition,” Daring replies with a smirk. “Besides, even if I was just passing through I wouldn’t dare not pay homage to a legend such as yourself, Distant Horizon.”

Distant chuckles and waves a hoof at Daring dismissively. “As well you should,” she replies in a light tone. “I recall telling a young filly by the name of Yearling to follow her dreams.” She looks to Daring with a small smirk. “Always did wonder what happened to her.”

Daring returns the smirk and winks to the older mare. “I hear she is writing adventure novels,” Daring replies with a chuckle. “Best sellers, no less.” She then looks around, her smile remaining. “So, Distant, got a table for two open for an old friend?”

Distant snorts and shakes her head. “Old friend is it now?” Distant chuckles. “Can’t say we’re ‘old’ friends, but I do have a table open.” She smirks over at Daring, one eyebrow raising, “I can get some candles out, make it all romantic for you and your coltfriend.”

Daring’s smirk slides off her face and she coughs as she pulls her helmet down in front of her face. “He isn’t my coltfriend, Distant,” Daring mutters. “We’re just good friends.”

Distant shakes her head and waves a hoof for Daring to follow her. “And I am Celestia’s first cousin twice-removed,” Distant quips in a smug tone. “I own half the hotel, you know. I checked your reservations when I heard you were renting a room from us.” Daring follows after, her helmet still mostly hiding her face, causing Distant to snort in annoyance. “Moon and Stars, Daring, it’s not like I just accused you of jumping the poor stallion! You’re usually better at accepting the teasing than this.” She then smiles smugly. “Unless I struck a nerve, and you really like this Leaf Wind.” Daring mutters something under her breath, which makes Distant chuckle again. “Well, whatever the case, here is your table,” she gestures to a polished wooden table with a nice tablecloth, “I’ll have someone come get your orders in a short bit, hopefully your friend has joined you by then.”

“Thanks, Distant,” Daring replies softly, pulling her helmet off and putting it on the table before she sits down.

“Don’t mention it,” Distant says with a wink. “I’ll just add it to the long list of things I’ll use later to get you to do this old mare favors.”

Daring snorts and chuckles. “That must be one long list,” she shoots back.

“Oh, I bet I could make even Princess Twilight blanch at the length,” Distant replies with a wink. “But then, what’s the point of helping so many of you young risk-takers if I don’t get to bank on it later!”

Daring shakes her head and waves a hoof at her friend. “Yeah, yeah. I’ve heard it a thousand times, Distant.” Daring says, her smirk returning, “Day you cash in on that, is the day the moon rises in place of the sun. Now, I am sure you have guests to torment, or a wine cellar to raid for chalices.”

Distant laughs and nods. “You’re right, can’t let them get too settled or they’ll never give me any respect!” Distant declares with a smile. “Give ‘em an inch and they try to take an entire mile.” She pats Daring on the shoulder, “Good luck wooing that stallion of yours! I’ll see you around.” she trots off before Daring can, once again, tell her that Leaf is not her stallion.

With a sigh, Daring settles into waiting for Leaf to finish telling his tall tales.

The wait is not long long, thankfully, and before the waiter even finds his way over Leaf is seated across from her, a wide smile gracing his features and making his eyes shine with his happiness.

“Have fun?” Daring asks as she looks over the menu.

“I did!” Leaf enthusiastic reply comes from where he is seated. “That old stallion didn’t know what he was talking about, but I set the record straight.”

Daring chuckles from behind her menu.“That’s nice, dear,” she says without thinking, instantly regretting it.

“What was that?” Leaf questions as he lowers his own menu and looks over at Daring. “What’d you just say?”

“I… I said the salad looks rather good. I think I’ll order that!” Daring quickly responds, her face gaining a few shades of red under her golden fur. “What about you? See anything you like?”

“I do,” Leaf replies with one of his trademark smirks, “and the salad does look interesting, but so does the soup. I could have both…”

Daring just nods behind her menu. “Uh-huh… yeah sounds good…” she fumbles over her words, Distant’s earlier statement echoing in her head. “I think I’ll just stick with the salad.”

Eventually, they order and Daring is forced to surrender her menu. Thankfully, her blush has vanished by then, and they spend the remainder of their dinner talking about their discovery, as well as what Luna could possibly want with the books the recovered. The theories range from simple curiosity, to something involving the absent Celestia. Once dinner is finished, they pay their bill, which is less than Daring had expected but then this is likely yet another case of Distant saving up favors.

By the time they’re walking up the stairs in the lobby towards the second story where their room is located, the sun is already setting and casting an amber hue on the sand in the distance.

The room that Daring and Leaf have rented out is a single bed suite with a private bathroom complete with a bathtub with plumbing. Their personal belongings, along with the books, are in one corner well away from the door and somewhat hidden by a chair that Leaf has strategically pulled in front of them, though both of them are quite sure no one would steal books from them. They set about preparing for bed, which really involves Daring drawing for herself a nice bath to help get some of the accursed sand out of her coat, mane, and tail -- Honestly, who knew it could get in some many places -- and help pull some of the chill from the cold nights from her bones.

Daring doesn’t take long, though, and, by the time she is out and dried off, Leaf is just climbing into the queen sized bed.

Daring pauses as she stands in the doorway to the bathroom, eyeing the bed and its occupant with a little unease. Sure, they had been spending a lot of time in the same bed out in the field, but this felt different than that. Out there, in the desert, it was a necessity, but in here it was… not. She could tell herself that they got a room with one bed to save money, but that feels like a lie on her tongue. Leaning against the door frame, Daring’s eyes are drawn to Leaf as he scoots around and finds a comfortable position to lay down in. She cannot help but note how good he looks when he isn’t wearing his vest and helmet, the way his muscles work, the way his wings lay against his body. Everything. He is her partner, nothing more, but the longer she stands there telling herself that there is nothing between them the more she feels the hair on the back of her neck rise in disgust with herself.

“Hey, you coming to bed, or you just going to stare at my flank all night, Dee?” Leaf’s voice breaks Daring from her impromptu study of anatomy, and back to the present. Blushing profusely she is glad the light is behind her so Leaf cannot see.

“I’d get in bed but your flank is taking up most of it,” Daring remarks, thankful that her voice is still steady.

“Well, you’ll just have to share with me,” Leaf replies as he looks over to Daring, a warm smile on his face. “Didn’t have any problem doing that out in the desert, shouldn’t be any different here.” Daring sighs and starts forward.

“Yet it is,” Daring chides herself even before the thought is able to form, mentally pressing a hoof to her face.

Pulling the sheet back on the bed she climbs in and does her best to not scoot too close to her companion, yet in the end finds herself almost touching him.

“See, you know I don’t bite, Dee,” Leaf says as he settles down with a yawn. “Least not unless you ask.” Daring can’t help but chuckle at that and poke Leaf in the back, causing him to roll over.

“And I’d hardly ask you to do that!” Daring replies with a smirk. “I likely taste like sweat, sand, and canvas.”

Leaf yawns again and smiles sweetly at her, his eyes slowly closing as he starts to drift off.“I don’t know….Dee,” he yawns. “You smell really good… Like the most fragrant rose in the whole garden.” Daring stiffens at that, her ears going back and a blush rising on her face. Leaf continues on, scooting over and wrapping an arm around Daring and pulling her close. “Mmm, night Dee…” Then he rests his head on top of hers. “Love you.”

If it was possible, Daring would likely have rivaled the Librarian in being a statue with that statement, eyes wide and mouth open slightly as she stares into Leaf’s chest. What… what had he just said? Her mind races, her wings springing outwards. She wants to run, wants to get up, grab the books and find the next ship out of this sandy corner of Tartarus. Yet, yet her heart is beating all the faster with her muzzle buried against his chest, his arms around her. Her mind says flee, and her heart says...stay.

Taking a few deep breaths Daring folds her wings back up and does her best to get her racing heart and mind under control.

As she calms down her minds stops yelling at her to flee, and her heart continues to softly speak the same words: This feels right. With a heavy sigh Daring just scoots herself over and deeper into the embrace, and just gives in.

Tonight, the great and adventurous Daring Do, who works alone and needs nopony, shall give in and for once just enjoy the company of another for no other reason than it feels like the right thing to do. As she drifts off, head comfortably positioned partially on Leaf and on the pillow below her, she can’t help but notice that Leaf smells nice too.


----

Leaf breathes heavily as he runs through the corridor of the ancient temple him and Daring had found their way into. It’s an old Equus temple, much like the one they found in Saddle Arabia, but this one is in the harsh Crystal Mountains, and guarded by some quite angry creatures. Beside him, Daring pants for breath as they run, one of her wings hanging uselessly at her side from an earlier attack by their pursuers.

Leaf had been instrumental in protecting her when that last ice wolf had pinned her to the ground. It had felt good to be the hero for once -- pull her tail out of the fire, or ice in this case -- but he can’t let his guard down yet. They’re not out of the temple and it hadn’t been a cakewalk getting into the place, it most certainly would not be one now they’re on the way out.

The hiss of air heralds arrow traps, and Leaf is barely able to pull Daring down before one skewers her helmet, pinning it to the wall. Picking her back up, Leaf pulls her along as she tries to go back for the helmet.

“We can get you another one back in the Crystal Empire, Dee!” Leaf says sternly as he pulls her by her fur cloak. “We need to get out of here first though!” Daring reluctantly relents, and they continue on, the barking and growling of those hunting them growing only louder. On they run, the growing growing into a relentless sound that drives them desperately towards the entrance.

Upon reaching it, Daring and Leaf skid to a halt, the ice bridge they had crossed having fallen. Turning around Daring squares her shoulders and gets lower to the ground, a determined look in her eyes. “I’ll hold them off, Leaf,” Daring shouts breathlessly. “Can’t deprive your sister of her brother!”

Leaf shakes his head and looks to the other side of the of the canyon they’re standing at, then back at Daring. “I’m not leaving you here, Daring!” He takes a few steps back, the growing growing louder, “and I am sure as Tartarus going to tell Prose that I did so!” He charges forward, wrapping his arms around Daring as he passes her, and launches both of them over the side. His wings snap open and he flaps them as hard as he can to keep altitude.

By the grace of Celestia, he’s able to barely make the lip of the other side of the canyon right as the creatures chasing them reach where they had just been standing. The instant their hooves touch the snow, they’re both down in a heap, Daring beneath Leaf, their hearts racing.

“Never… do that again,” Daring says between breaths, “or I swear I...I’ll…” Leaf just smiles and pulls his helmet off and looks down at Daring.

“You’ll do what, oh great and powerful Daring Do?” Leaf replies in an equally breathless voice.

Daring smiles up at him, and he is reminded of just how amazing her smile is.
“I think I could come up with something,” Daring’s tone is sultry, causing Leaf’s blood to heat up. “I mean, you did save my life. That deserves a special reward.”

Leaf leans down, towards Daring slowly, his muzzle close to hers. “Oh, well, I think I’ll take that reward ri….” Leaf starts, but suddenly he is no longer in the snow with Daring, he’s in an extremely cold shower, with Luna standing with a smirk on her face outside the stall.

“That is enough of that, Leaf Wind.” Luna’s haunting voice dispels what the shower had not already. “We have need to speak with you.”

Leaf looks over at her, his teeth chattering as he shivers. “Y… you couldn’t… have… waited a few… more seconds?” he inquires as he shivers. “I… it was getting to the good… part.”

Luna shakes her head and uses her horn to turn the shower off. “We could not, Leaf Wind,” she replies curtly. “We did not wish to interrupt your… dream, but it is important that we know if you have retrieved what we asked.”

Leaf sighs heavily as he gets out of the shower. “We did… but couldn’t you bother Daring about this? She could have told you just as easily as I could.”

Luna shakes her head and starts walking from the room, which Leaf is quickly realizing is his apartment back in Canterlot. “We could,” she admits, “but, we also need the books as soon as possible, and we do not wish to expend more time than necessary on explanations.” She turns and looks to Leaf. “Since you have the books, we require you to return to Canterlot with them. Thine sister requires them as soon as possible.”

Leaf stops in his tracks, and looks up at Luna with an unsure expression. “Leave, as in tonight?” He inquires with a sad tone. “I… don’t know, Princess. It’d be a lot of work and…”

Luna raises an eyebrow and walks back over to look him in the eyes. “It is our command, Leaf Wind, you will leave tonight.” Luna’s tone is harsh, leaving no room for argument. “Daring will understand. After all, you two do this sort of thing all the time, do you not?”

Leaf sighs and nods slowly. “Yeah, we… do often part suddenly like this.” he admits, “but, I won’t be able to reach Canterlot for a few days, even if I leave tonight via the quickest route.” Luna nods in a rather final fashion.

“Then let it be done,” She looks down at Leaf, her eyes glowing. “It is time for you to wake, Leaf Wind, and do my bidding.”

---

Leaf’s eyes open with a start, his heart pounding and a cold chill running down his spine at the memory of the cold shower Luna had subjected him to. As he shivers again, Daring shivers as well, burying her face into his chest and muttering. Leaf is surprised to find her in his arms, not to mention snuggled so closely to him!

The feeling of her there, as he wakes up, for some reason pleases him more than any… lurid dream he has ever had. Her presence lends a certain… familiarity, a certain comfort as if to tell him that everything in the world is alright. His heart swells with the warmth of her against him, the soft feeling of her breath against his chest echoing the beating of his heart.

Brushing a hoof against her face -- removing a few strands of stray mane that have fallen over her face in her sleep -- Leaf sighs sadly. This can’t last, him and Daring are partners sure, but not the romantic kind. They could share nights like this together, forget the world for a few hours, but in the end their work will always pull them apart, always force them to go their separate ways. It’s how it’s always been, but… this time it’s different. Harder.

Steeling himself Leaf carefully removes himself from Daring’s embrace, earning him a soft whimper from the mare as she snuggles into the large area of warmth he left behind. Watching this causes Leaf to smile, his heart beating a little faster, a little stronger. She really is beautiful when she is sleeping this peacefully. Shaking his head Leaf continues to get out of bed, and goes over to the small pile of saddle bags in the corner. Digging through them, he finds the books that Luna had specifically requested they find, leaving all the other books in the saddle bags so Daring has something to bring home with her. He then grabs a harness from his saddlebags that he uses to transport items, such as the books, when speed is required. He puts the books into the harness, stopping as a part of his dream catches up to him.

Luna had said the books weren’t for her. They were for his sister? What in the name all the rare plants in Equestria does she need them for? Shaking his head, he files it away in his mind under ‘things to ask Witchy later’

Hesitating for a moment, Leaf looks over to Daring then back to the saddle bags. Pulling his spare notebook out from a pocket on his saddlebag, he fishes around for a few seconds and finds one of his drawing pencils. Tearing a page from his notebook, he quickly writes up a note and puts it on top of her helmet, which rests on the table on her side of the bed. Leaf then hesitates and looks over at Daring.

His heart skips a few beats looking at her, but it’s likely just leftovers from waking up cuddling her, she really was quite nice to snuggle with. Sighing and shrugging Leaf puts his harness on, and heads out the door. It’ll take him a few days but he’ll likely be in Canterlot long before Daring, and knowing her this would be the last time he’d see her for quite some time.

Author's Note:

This one took me a while to get out, mostly due to getting distracted. BUT HERE IT IS! :pinkiecrazy:

So, yeah, they're back in civilization now! But, being back in civilization brings up some things. Out in the desert things were so much less complicated, it was just them and whatever ancient ruins they're currently poking around in! Here, though, things are more complicated. Daring works alone, as every pony knows, and responcibilities rear their ugly head just when things are slowing down a little.

Oh well, Leaf must return to Canterlot, and I am sure Daring won't mind. Right?

Right...?
:trollestia:

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