• Published 28th Dec 2015
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Breakfast with Rose - Admiral Biscuit



After a dinner with Rose and a late night drunken trip to Sugarcube Corner, Sam wakes up from a nightmare with more questions than answers about life in Equestria.

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School

Breakfast with Rose
Chapter 3: School
Admiral Biscuit

I don't think I ever fell all the way asleep, but I definitely zoned out, because one moment I was pondering a unicorn's role in pony society, and the next moment Rose was prodding me in the side with a hoof.

“I'm awake,” I assured her, and wiped a bit of drool off my cheek.

“Sure you are.” She leaned down and nuzzled my cheek—the drool-free side. “I've got to go back home now.”

“Mmh, okay.” I blinked a few times and then sat up on my elbows, one position I was sure that Rose would never be able to emulate. “Did you finish the book?”

She shook her head.

“Well, you're free to come over whenever you want. I'll keep your place marked.” I sat the rest of the way up, putting me at her eye level. It felt strange to be eye-to-eye with a pony.

I picked up my book and got to my feet. Rose picked up the other book and handed it to me. Judging by where the bookmark was, she hadn't made all that much progress. Either she'd also dozed off, or she wasn't a very fast reader.

I probably could have just bid her farewell in the backyard, but it didn't feel right to not show her to the front door. I only remembered after I'd opened it for her that I was just in my panties, but strangely, I found that the idea didn't bother me as much as it could have.

I stayed at the door until she'd turned off the little path in front of my house—calling it a street was a bit too grandiose—and onto the road which led into Ponyville proper, then took a step out of the house to study the rosebush next to my front door.

Why I was suddenly drawn to it, I don't know. I'd helped her plant all the flowers around my house, although to be honest, most of the help was digging holes and staying out of the way. Even that was probably more than she needed, but I wasn't going to let her do all that work on her own, especially since she was just giving me the flowers.

As would be expected, they were thriving, most likely because she took care of them every time she came over and I didn't mess with them at all. I knew what I was good at, and flowers were not on that list.

I reached out and touched one of the blossoms, letting my finger run over the soft folds of its petals. I wanted to break it off and put it in a vase in my room, but that felt kind of like I was desecrating the plant.

Then I thought about how Apple Flora had brought me a bunch of wild asters to share with Rose, and I snapped it off with a dozen centimeters of stem, scratching my hand in the process.

“Sorry,” I told the plant.

Back in the kitchen, I filled one of my mugs about halfway with water, then took it upstairs and set it on the table next to my bed.

Judging by the sun's position, it would be at least an hour before school got out. I wanted to get there when most or all of the students were gone, but before Cheerilee left. That probably gave me a very narrow window of time: while teachers back home often seemed to stay at school late to have faculty meetings or complain about their students, Cheerilee was a one-pony-show, and as far as I knew she didn't have to answer to anyone, so unless she particularly liked her desk she had no reason to stick around very long after class.

While I probably could have met her at her house—I didn't know where it was, but it wouldn't be hard to find out—I had a feeling that if I caught her at home, the last thing she'd want to do was head back to the schoolhouse.

I put on my shorts and puttered around the house for a bit, not accomplishing much other than making the bed, then headed out. There was a chance I might run into some pony who wanted my help; one problem with mostly doing odd jobs was that I had to do more legwork than I really wanted to in order to find work. Things were better now than when I'd first struck out on my own, at least: I had a few semi-regular jobs, and there were a few that were good fallbacks, like chopping wood. If nothing else, I could always go out with Berry Black and gather deadfall from the forest, although I didn't like doing that since I'd completely worn out my shoes.

In town, being shoeless wasn't so bad. While pony hooves were hard on the edges, their frogs were still sensitive to sharp objects, so they kept the streets fairly clear. I hadn't found any nasty surprises yet, anyway.

Despite my hopes, I'd made it most of the way across town before I finally ran into a pony who wanted some help. I'd already been angling towards the job board that was in front of the town hall. I dreaded that board; postings on there were generally something that no one wanted to do, the kind of thing that you couldn't beg a friend to help with.

Luckily, fate intervened as I was crossing the broad parkway around the town hall, and after a brief discussion, I had a job for tomorrow, unloading furniture at the train station for Davenport.

I was nearly to the school when I heard the town clock chime. I'd taken a bit of a roundabout route to avoid the main crush of schoolkids headed back to town, but my path wasn't entirely clear. A light blue unicorn filly and a blue-grey colt were headed my way, somewhat oblivious to my presence until the colt suddenly noticed I was there and stopped. His companion made it a bit further, until she realized that her friend wasn't next to her any more, and then her lavender eyes met mine.

She, too, stopped in her tracks as she assessed the situation. One ear turned back, while the other stayed locked on me. I wondered if ponies were right- or left-eared, or if they just picked the one that worked the best for any given situation.

I also stopped; when I was in town, I didn't concern myself with what the ponies were doing around me, but here, I didn't want to needlessly terrify a pair of children who'd never seen me up close.

Like a cloud crossing the sun, our brief pause was quickly gone. “It's only Sam,” she said for the benefit of the colt, who'd crept up a little closer to her, but was very much keeping her body between us.

“I know,” he said, but I could hear a bit of relief in his voice.

I didn't really have anything I wanted to say to them, so I just started walking in their direction again. They moved over to the right side of the path, the colt keeping up against the very edge, just following along behind the filly.

Right or wrong, I felt like I had better luck dealing with the ponies if I just did my own thing without going out of my way to put them at ease, and it seemed to work in this case too. I kept my focus on where I was going, and didn't open my mouth as they passed by. When they were ready to come up to me and talk, I would be open to them; until then, just being around and not being a monster waiting to gobble them up would do.

It was tempting to turn and see if they were staring at my backside, but I didn't. I was just a normal, everyday girl, minding my own business, and if they didn't like that, too bad. Eventually, every pony in town would get used to me, but there wasn't any way to rush the process.

When I finally got to the schoolhouse, there weren't any stragglers. I had a weird feeling in the pit of my stomach, some part of my mind flashing back to school, maybe. Still, the one-room schoolhouse was a lot more inviting than the cement block and tile monstrosity that I'd graduated from. Every now and then I'd see one on the back roads of BC that had been converted into a house. It was hard to imagine that anyone would do the same to a modern school.

What does happen to schools when they close? I'd never really thought about that before. Every now and then, there was an article in the Vancouver Sun about a school closing. What did they do with the buildings? Who'd want them?

I raised my fist to knock on the door before I remembered that it was a public place and I could just walk in.

It was blessedly empty inside; I'd had a moment of concern as I pushed open the door and thought about a foal staying late. Not only would Cheerilee be upset about me interrupting a detention or a tutoring session, but I wasn't sure I wanted to have an adult discussion in front of a foal.

Cheerilee looked up as soon as the door was opened and I swore I saw a brief frown cross her face before she smiled brightly at me. “Good afternoon, Sam. What brings you by the school?”

“I . . . .” Well, there wasn't really any good way to dance around the subject. “A couple of days ago, Apple Flora said that you had a drawing of me?”

She nodded.

“May I see it?”

“Why?” She wasn't hostile, just curious. From her perspective, I thought I could guess why. Clearly, I knew what I looked like, so what purpose would seeing a drawing of myself serve?

I had a feeling that the conversation was about to turn really weird. “Back on Earth, it's . . . inappropriate to have that kind of thing.”

She gave me a Teacher look, and I cowered back. “It's educational. Too many ponies in this town are too insular for their own good. Even me . . . there have been incidents with griffons and zebras and donkeys in this very town, because ponies don't know anything about them, and they're scared of things that they don't know. As a teacher, it is my job to make certain that they do know so that the next time a zebra or griffon or diamond dog or even you come into town, they don't panic or do something everypony will regret.

“Ponyville's last teacher did not do her part, and I admit I was also complacent at first. I didn't even think about it when I started teaching. We never covered xenobiology and xenoculture at all . . . and let me tell you, some parents were strongly against it—still are—but I think that a diverse education helps ponies become better citizens.”

I couldn't argue with that. “Can I at least make sure that it's accurate?” Deep down, though, I knew it probably was. Most likely embarrassingly so.

She looked me square in the eye, and I swore she could see into my soul. Just when I was sure she was about to give me a detention for insubordination, she reached down and slid a desk drawer open, rummaged around for a bit, and pulled out a book titled Creatures of Equestria.

“I'm in a book?”

“Not yet.” She opened the book and extracted a folded sheet of paper, which she then spread out on the desk, turned to face me.

As soon as I saw it, I realized that I'd been making a mountain out of a molehill. I'd somehow expected—I don't know why—that it was a portrait or something like that; instead, it was a simple line drawing of my front, back, and side. The bottom corner of the page had notes, starting with 'no cutie mark' and ending with 'very sparse coat most places.' Aside from the nipples and pubic hair, it was at most a Barbie me.

“Is it accurate?” Cheerliee's mood had softened just a bit.

“More or less. We humans call these breasts, not teats.” While I waited for her to write a correction on the paper, I considered whether or not I should point out the other incorrect term . . . it was funny, but since this was a school setting, I decided it ought to be accurate. “And that's pubic hair, not crotch coat.”

Cheerilee nodded and made a second correction. “Do you know what a human stallion looks like?”

I nodded before I could realize where this was probably going. Cheerilee pulled a clean sheet of paper out of her desk and slid it over to me.

“I'm, ah, not really much of an artist. Sorry.”

“Hm.” She wrinkled her muzzle. “I could draw it, if you told me what a human stallion looks like.”

“A man,” I said. “Well, pretty much the same as me. Broader, straighter shoulders, and not as much curve to the hips. Generally a few inches taller, and more bulky.”

“So you're sexually dimorphic too?”

“I guess?”

She sketched out a rough outline in pencil, occasionally making corrections as I pointed them out. Cheerilee seemed a bit confused about the nipples, but drew them on after I swore that men had them.

“Guys—men—don't have a sheath,” I told her. “Their, um—“

'Penis.”

I nodded. “It just hangs down. Oh, and guys are smaller than stallions.”

“Interesting.” Cheerilee made a quick correction to her drawing. “Like that?”

“Close enough.” If any guy ever showed up in Ponyville, he was going to have a lot to live up to. Well, that wouldn't be my problem. He could go to the school and have her shorten it up a bit. “Yeah, that's about right. Men have hair in all the same places as girls, but it's thicker. They also have hair on their faces, but a lot of times they shave it off.”

She scribbled out some quick notes on the drawing, then looked back up at me, speaking around her pencil. “Why?”

“Fashion? It's just like getting a manecut or whatever. Different people like different things. Like what kind of clothes you wear, that makes a statement.” I figured she'd understand that; the only reason ponies seemed to wear clothes was to make a statement.

“I see.” She set the pencil down. “Would you be interested in giving a class presentation?”

Tell her no. “Well, I, uh, I'd have to think about it. I'm not sure what the class would be interested in hearing.”

“Apple Flora thinks you're 'pretty cool,'” Cheerilee told me. “She was bragging to some of her friends about how much fun she had swimming in the river with you, and how good of friends you and her mom are.”

“Huh.” I didn't think that Apple Cider considered me a friend. She had given me that bottle of brandy, but that didn't exactly make us best friends. Maybe in Apple Flora's mind it did—kids often had a rather oversimplified view of the world, after all. “What kind of class presentation did you have in mind?”

Cheerilee shrugged. “Whatever you want to do is fine by me. It could be about yourself, or about how humans live.”

“I'll think of something,” I said, realizing too late that I'd pretty much committed myself.