• Published 21st May 2016
  • 4,126 Views, 185 Comments

This Changeling Life - Nasha Rei Kun



Self-decided victim of a fail-safe used to prevent the rampage of a dark power, Naruto thought life for him was over. He's proven wrong when he meets a white unicorn guard recruit, and then the wall-eyed love of his life. Naruto x Derpy. Anthro.

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The Week in Manehattan

Author's Note:

I'd also like to thank XIII Hearts, once more, for editing this chapter. There wasn't much this time! Wooo! So I'm getting better, but he did save me from a couple of instances where word usage could be done better, and for that I am grateful.

You rock man!

Secondly, I'm back from Vegas, as of this past Saturday. Went to a WFG convention, and got inspired to do what I do outside of FimFic...Well besides, Computer Science.

Currently doing my best to conquer Python, and the like.

In other news, I'm mentally drawing up the outline for my first actual long mult-fic.

Yes it will be a Naruto crossover, but this one will be featuring Obito x the Pie sisters. IF you didn't already know that.

So that's currently what is up with me at the moment.

Enjoy the Omake at the bottom!

He simply looked outside at the passing scenery, as the cart rumbled slightly. His mind doing its absolute best to take in everything he was looking at.

This would be his first venture outside of the walls of Canterlot, save for when he got here. Though this time, he’d be in a more “controlled” state of where he was going to end up.

His eyes looked to his left, as the weight on it shifted slightly.

Now since coming here, and bonding with the little drake, Naruto had come to pamper him a slight bit. Or maybe he spoiled him? He didn’t think so.

The snoring form of Spike, curled and turned as he tried to get into the best position for slumber against the blonde changeling’s currently dragonesque tail. The appendage was curled around Spike’s form, and the small dragon was perfectly comfortable with this.

He smiled at it, before looking across from him to see the sleeping Twilight.

The student of Celestia currently had a book opened in her lap, though it tilted dangerously close to falling. Reaching over, and tilting the book back into place on her lap, he set back to watching the scenery pass by.

Shining Armor and Cadance, were currently up and about in the dining carts, probably enjoying a little lunch.

Naruto chuckled.

Shining had come a long way, when it came to the dates the two shared. The unicorn had been more sure of himself after several of them. It wasn’t perfect, Shining still tended to be overly prepared, but he finally came to the realization that Cadance wasn’t super uptight.

Cadance, to this day, was happy when the bluenette stopped trying to make every date “perfect.” If there was one thing that Cadance couldn’t really get behind, it was ponies who thought everything had to be perfect for love to bloom.

Cadance believed in love, just like any other pony, but she was the Princess of Love for a reason.

Ponies didn’t need “perfection,” so much as they needed a pony who “complimented” them. You had to take the good and bad when it came to a romance.

It was one of the reasons Naruto helped to “sabotage” some of their dates, on Cadance’s demand.

It was one of the few things the changeling and alicorn shared in privacy. Shining needed to learn that Cadance didn’t care, and for that reason having a little bit of chaos during a few of their dates helped to smother that urgency for perfection he tried to go for.

Cadance was just like her aunt in that regard. Plus it made the memories of some those dates super memorable.

The changeling couldn’t help but think for a moment, before he slowly shifted his tail. The dragonic look it held shaped itself to be longer, before he did his best to not disturb Spike.

He moved the drake over to the opposite seat, where he frowned before cuddling up to Twilight. Said unicorn’s head lulled to left, from his position, and landed on the soft spines of Spike’s head.

Smiling at the scene, Naruto went to work.

“Kuchiyose no Jutsu,” he muttered before a plume of smoke erupted from his hand on the adjacent seat. In the place of the smoke cloud, was the small form of Ma. The purple, and light green, female toad looked around for a moment before settling on the buggy teen.

She smiled, as did he, her cloak settling.

“Naruto-chan, it’s been a while.” She spoke in soft tones, eying the children in the seat opposite him, as he nodded.

“Yeah Ma, it’s been a while. How’s old toad Fukasaku doing?” He started, as they spoke for the time it took for Shining and Cadance to make their way to the seats opposite his side.

The ride continued as such, before the train whistled telling them of their destination being within reach.

“It was nice seeing you again Ma,” Cadance said with a curtsy, causing the old female to smile.

“It was nice meeting you again Cadance-chan. Shining-boya, Fukasaku said to work on your reflexes next time, says it will be good to be able to react to faster opponents.” The unicorn junior officer scratched the side of his head, before nodding.

“Uh-huh, sure. Tell Mr. Fukasaku that I’m always trying. It’s not like I don’t have Naruto over there keeping me on my toes,” the bluenette stated, pointing to the changeling himself, who just grinned.

Cheeky prick.

“Naruto-chan, be sure to summon Pa sometime in the future. I’m sure he’d love to have you speak with him...it’ll be important,” she said her bit, before dispelling.

Seeing the toad off, the group of teens woke up their smaller group members, before packing up and moving out.

As they exited the train they couldn’t help but let their eyes wander, as they moved about the city.

The blonde’s eyes currently went every which way, as he took in his environment. At the moment, his clone, which he made on the train, transformed to keep from attracting attention, was carrying a good amount of the bags. Cadance and Shining each carried a little backpack, as well as Spike and Twilight, making the picture not that out of place.

Of course, he himself wasn’t transformed, which garnered some attention. That attention, though, he could deal with. Plus, it was easier for Spike to not stand out by himself, so the blonde was perfectly fine with staying untransformed.

The pink alicorn in their midst was currently using a minor illusionary spell, via Twilight, to help alleviate any attention that they might have garnered. At the moment, she looked like no more than a normal pegasus.

Him and Spike were one thing. Seeing an alicorn roaming the streets?

They’d never get a moment’s rest.

Currently the group themselves were doing their utmost best to navigate the streets. Cadance’s hands held a map, as they tried to find the hotel they’d be staying at.

“I know I remember it being around here somewhere. I think it was at that corner, by the RadShack? Hmm, wait…” hearing the mumbling of their navigator caused the group as a whole to sweatdrop.

Even little Spike couldn’t help, but be slightly nervous.

“Oh, Ah-ha! Now I remember. It’s at the Golden Ladle Hotel. It’s supposed to be only available to the most prestigious of visitors. And guess who got aunt Celly to get her some reservations~” She said with a sing-song tone, as the rest of the group smiled.

Naruto was honestly looking forward to the bed they’d have set up. Several hours on a train could really cause a guy to miss the comforts of a nice bed.

The were quick to move about. Each of them doing their best to stay together in a group. The blonde and his clone kept either of the two children,Twilight or Spike, in front of them, with Cadance and Shining in front of those two forming two lines of three.

“Cadance, you sure this is the right way? I honestly can’t make heads or tails of this place,” Shining stated, as he tugged on this shirt collar. The Manehattan air was stale and stuffy. Say what you want about the ponies in Canterlot, at least the place was fairly well ventilated.

Naruto couldn’t help but agree, as the group traveled the streets of urban culture. Every now and then, the blonde caught glimpses of ponies staring at him and Spike. While the drake was seemingly small and nonthreatening, the changeling was far more grown and eye-catching.

Maybe it was the eyes, the fangs or whatever. They stared for a rude amount of seconds before moving on with their lives. Sometimes he caught kids pointing, with their parents shushing them and moving away from him.

Scratching the back of his shell covered head, he just hoped that they would reach this place soon.

~TCL~

He kind of just let his jaw drop, as they looked at the room they had. He knew he wasn’t alone either, as he could see both Shining and Cadance gawking at the sight of the suite.

Or should he say penthouse suite!

Cadance was looking down at the key they’d been given by the receptionist, and back up at the room, numerous times.

“Aunt Celestia, this is a bit much…” Cadance said quietly, but the blonde heard it all the same. What did Celestia think they were going to do? Party?!

“It’s so cool! Naruto look a this view! I can see the Statue of Harmony!” Spike exclaimed with an enthusiasm the blonde wish he could scrounge up at this point in time.

He was still kind of in the “shocked” phase.

The unicorn male in the room merely laughed nervously.

“Cadance, I think Princess Celestia is spoiling you. A he he, heee~” The hidden alicorn could only nod, as they took in the room.

The space could easily fit a whole night club, if necessary. Neither of those above the age of ten were even considering it.

The large couch in the middle of the room was position as such it overlooked a good portion of the city through the large pane of glass in front of it.

Off to the sides of the couch itself were a couple of things.

Literally right besides the couch was a small table top. The making was of crystal, and it was full of several board games, magazines and a lamp.

On the right of the room were sets of doors, about three. Each one having the words “Our honored guest” written above them.

To the immediate left of the couch was a projector, the film reel was visible from the entrance, and the several large circular objects on the sides as well.

On the left side of the suite was a kitchen. It looked pretty state of the art, and the blonde could spy a fridge, food pantry, deep freezer and wine cabinet.

All in all, this place was beyond just being fancy. This was Fancy.

It took everything in the blonde to not just run over, and jump into the couch.

~TCL~

The group had settled into the couch, once all were done setting things down.

It had been decided that of the three rooms, Cadance would be getting one, as well as Shining, with Twilight and Spike sharing one room.

Most were against this, none more so than Twilight who knew that there were obviously three rooms that were meant for the three teens.

The blonde ninja waved them off, with a couple of words.

“Guys, guys! The couch turns into a freaking queen-sized bed. I am in no way going to be uncomfortable throughout the whole of this trip.”

That decided, it WAS agreed upon that he would be changing in Shining’s room, when he had to.

By the time everything was put away, it was approaching evening. It had taken a whole day to get here from Canterlot by train, and the walk had taken maybe an hour or so. They’d left Canterlot at about noonish, and so it was close to maybe four or five at the moment.

“So as was planned, it’s fashion week! The latest of trends for this season are going to be coming out,, and as such, I will do my best to be on the top of the timetables,” Cadance stated, as she laid out a pair of maps. They’d moved one of the fold out tables they found in a corner of the room in front of the couch.

First was a map of Manhattan itself, while the second was far more stylized. The words “Fashion Week” emblazoned in sparkling glitter and color over the top of the second piece of parchment.

The others looked it over, as the picture of a mare and stallion in fancy attire stood in front of the advertisement.

Naruto wasn’t really that interested in seeing this “Fashion Week” thing. He came along, more because he didn’t really hang out much. Much less in his “previous life”, but here it was kind of like a new start.

There were few times he got to hang out with the others back in Konoha. Hell ever since he came back from traveling with Ero-Sennin, he’d only really got to speak casually with the others maybe twice.

He was friends with Shining and Cadance, and saw no problem in suffering through “Fashion Week” for a bit, if only to hang with his bud and his girlfriend.

“Now we have to remember that once we get there, the shows will last for most of the evenings. Once we’ve seen enough of them, we’ll go see a few of the nice eating places around here, and eat dinner,” the pink alicorn explained, as she pointed to each location and trailed her fingers over to the next.

All were in agreement, and their plans were set.

~TCL~

“I never thought so many ponies cared about fashion,” Twilight couldn’t help but mutter, as she sat up on Shining’s shoulders. Spike was currently situated on Naruto’s shoulders as they looked about at all the ponies.

The avenue for the fashion runways were positively packed, and the group were lucky to get a section somewhere in the middle.

Cadance quickly held up a finger, as her arm lay across her chest in the crux of her other arm’s elbow.

“Twilight, Twilight, Twilight~ There are all kinds of ponies that care about fashion. Fashion does wonders for one’s image, and is a good idea of what age that pony might be living in. All races have fashion, you just don’t know a lot about it.”

The filly merely gave her a speculative look, before she wrapped her small arms around the crown of her brother’s head, careful of his horn.

“I might be able to find a book on this at Celestia’s library,” she mumbled, causing the Princess of Love to groan, as all the males of the group laughed.

“Heh, don’t worry too much about it Twily. It’s not like you have to like or get fashion, that’s what ponies like Cadance are for,” the junior officer stated, only to hear an “Ahem” from a currently toe-tapping Cadance. He smiled nervously, as Naruto cracked a smirk, and the pink alicorn raised an eyebrow.

“T-that i-is, uhhhh….Wonderful ponies like Cadance. Wonderful, yup, absolutely incandescent ponies like Cady?” He flopped, all the while Naruto was making whipping motions in the background, complete with sound effects. Spike merely copied along, because it looked fun.

Somehow, that made Shining feel a million times more flustered.

Cadance gave him a look, before she smirked.

“Nice save.” Shining laughed nervously in relief.

~TCL~

“Whew~ Man, I didn’t think I would ever go to a fashion show, but I can’t say I really dig the experience,” the blonde shinobi said, as he stretched his arms sky-high. His hardened plastic seat squeaked only slightly, as he leaned backwards.

“Stop exaggerating Naruto, it wasn’t that bad,” Cadance said, as she sat opposite him next to Shining. Said unicorn male was situated next to Spike with Twilight sitting opposite the little drake, making their table of five complete.

Currently they sat in the outside section of a cafe near the fashion plaza.

All around them ponies of all races sat, chatted and laughed, as they enjoyed the atmosphere and each other’s company. Though that didn’t stop a good amount of ponies from staring.

Not even the staff of the establishment they were in.

The blonde tried to remember what this place was called. Looking out at the nighttime sky, up at the over arching covers for the outer portions of the food establishment, he spied the sign, and could only blow out a small breath as he could only see the wooden back of it.

It was kind of stupid, but he really wanted to see the name of this place.

“Shiny, I’m not sure, about this menu,” Twilight said, as she grimaced at the laminated choice picker. Shining armor merely looked over at her in confusion, before looking at his own menu, before snickering.

Twilight wasn’t amused.

“Don’t laugh! It’s not funny!” she shouted, as she crossed her arms in a huff. Naruto, unsure of what was going on, merely looked at the menu and trailed down the list of food items.


...
Hayburger Deluxe
Manehattan Filope
Gruelin’ Mulin
Queen Quesadilla

He tilted his head.

“What’s a quesadilla?” he asked, only to get a shudder from Twilight. Shining wiped a tear from his eye, as Spike and Cadance looked on.

“A truly disgusting food item,” the protege of Celestia said with as much venom a ten, near eleven, year old could muster. The changeling merely shrugged his shoulders in confusion, before looking back at the menu, before his attention was caught by Cadance as she clapped her hands.

“Good, good, but we now have to discuss a game plan for this week,” the princess stated, as those at her table turned to look at her.

“Cadance, what are you on about?” Naruto wondered. She gave him a smile.

“I mean, we should take a good look at what we might be doing for the rest of the week,” she explained, as they looked at her in confusion.

“Wait, so we’re not going to the fashion show the whole week?” She sent him a look of confusion.

“Why would we do that? I like fashion as much as the next girl, but I’m not going to spend a whole week in Manehattan, of all places, looking solely at clothes. The show lasts five-ten hours in the day, but I still won’t be attending ALL of them.” Shining sent her a questioning look.

She stopped him before he could speak.

“Why would we simply do that, when we have all of Manehattan to look at? Come on Shining, I don’t care that much about clothes,” she said, causing her coltfriend to scratch the back of his head.

“True, true. So what do you have planned?” She gave him an eager look.

They discussed what they would be doing for the remainder of their stay in the city of Manehattan, before the waitress came.

______________________________________________________________________

Some time later found them full and happy as they finished off their food. Spike was currently patting his belly, as he finished off his Junior Hayburger Deluxe, while Twilight enjoyed her Long Daisy Sub.

Naruto was happy to find that there was some good ole spaghetti on the menu, to which he would thank the cook. It was perfect.

“You guys all ready?” Cadance announced, as she finished dabbing the sides of her mouth with a napkin. The rice pilaf with mango salsa was an utter delight, and she was happy to have ordered it.

“I know I am,” Shining commented, as he messed with the toothpick, cleaning out his jaws. The quesadilla was delish, and it was fun seeing Twily all finicky as he ate.

“Sure let’s blow this popsicle stand,” the blonde of the group said, as Spike looked at him weirdly. He chuckled, as Twilight explained to her adoptive brother.

“It’s just a phrase, Spike.” The drake merely shrugged his shoulders, before hopping out of his seat.

They got up, and prepared to leave. Tipping the waitress of their table, before moving out of the eatery. Well they all almost did, before Naruto stated he needed to use the bathroom.

Saying they’d wait outside for him the group, minus the changeling, stepped out into the cool night air, stretching out the kinks from sitting down for so long.

The roaming ponies of the night were half of what was normally seen at daytime hours, so it was easier for them to spread out without losing track of one another.

Cadance, disguised the whole day, was just thinking about going back to the suite to stretch out all of herself, horn included. Seeing her coltfriend and his siblings simply lounging around in several places on the sidewalk, she nodded her head.

‘A good first day. The next will be better!’

She didn’t notice as a pair of ponies came up to her side. One of them a teen maybe a couple years older than Twilight, with a filly probably younger than Spike holding her hand.

The teen was a female unicorn with a pink coat, a violet mane and tail with a floral lavender streak, amethyst eyes, and a Cutie Mark of three brilliant-cut diamonds on her left hand. Currently adorned in a brown jacket, that had short sleeves, and a pair of cargo shorts that were a dark blue.

The filly in question, was a unicorn as well. Sporting a pale purple coat color, a blonde mane, and yellow eyes with no Cutie Mark in sight. Wearing a long sleeved yellow and green striped sweater, and a pair of red shorts.

______________________________________________________________________

Amethyst Star continued moving through the, thankfully, less crowded streets. She made sure to hold onto the hand of filly at her side, as they picked up the pace to her sister’s place of work.

“Dinky come on. Just a little bit more, and we can catch her right as she leaves work.” The small child moved as fast as her little legs would take her, as she tried to keep up with Amethyst.

“Do you think she’ll be happy to see us?” the small filly asked, only to have the older unicorn smile at her.

“What are you even talking about? She’ll be ecstatic. She couldn’t get enough of you, ya know?” the older unicorn said, causing the smaller one to smile her own smile.

Coming up on Manehattan Moxy Pot, they took notice of a certain group coming out of the cafe. Seeing the ponies come out wasn’t surprising, but seeing that small lizard person come out with them made the duo stare.

Feeling Dinky tug at the cuff of her coat sleeve, she turned to her. The unicorn filly was looking on in curiosity.

“Sis, hey sis. What’s he?” she asked in a low volume. Amethyst herself, wasn’t really sure how to answer that question. She’d never seen somepony like that.

“...I’m honestly not sure, but maybe he’s from a different place.” She reasoned.

“Like all those other big places you and momma talk about?”

“Yeah, yeah. Like one of those places.”

Walking up to the front of the eatery, they looked around at the few ponies outside, and couldn’t help but frown. Amethyst, turning to any pony she saw, gave a gentle tap on their shoulder.

The pink pegasus, with the really good looking mane, turned her way with a curious smile on her face.

“Yes?” The lavender-pink unicorn felt her eyes narrow slightly at the accent, but ignored it for now.

“Um, yeah...Have you seen a pegasus pony, with an eyepatch by any chance?” The older teen pegasus looked at her weirdly first, before cupping her chin.

“No, I haven’t seen anypony like that. Why?” She asked, meanwhile the duo of unicorns simply sighed, causing the hidden princess to bring a hand up to her mouth in slight alarm.

“...I’m sorry?” Amethyst waved it off.

“No, no, it’s not your fault. We were just expecting a certain somepony to be done and meet us here, by this time,” the pink filly teen explained. Dinky was in the background, taking looks at Spike, as the drake gave her a puzzled look. The two smallest gave each other timid waves.

“Oh, that’s...I don’t want to say ‘good’, but I’m happy to have not have offended anypony,” she elaborated, only for Amethyst to once more wave her off.

“Like I said, it’s fine. We’ll just wait for her to come out,” she said, before they heard the door open again.

“Hey guys, sorry about that. Probably shouldn’t have drank all that lemonade, heh.” a tall black, pony-looking, bug-like equine came out of the cafe.

The duo found themselves staring once more.

The bug-pony seemed to catch their staring, and gave a blank stare back.

He blinked.

They blinked.

He blinked once more.

“Uh...Yo,” he said with a wave, causing the two to break out of their shock.

Dinky couldn’t help, but to look up at the pony-like being. She’d known that boys liked bugs, she kind of did too, but she didn’t know that they could turn into bugs.

Amethyst merely flinched, as those composite eyes blinked their way.

*Gulp* H-hello, there sir...Um, nice t-to meet you?” she stuttered out, as the bi-horned being looked at them with a frown, causing Amethyst Star to look away.

Dinky on the otherhand.

Looking up at the blonde bug stallion, she tilted her head.

“I didn’t know colts could turn into bugs.”

“Dinky!” Her elder sister admonished with a tug, but the smaller unicorn merely frowned in confusion.

“But, I’ve never seen a bug pony before! And he’s a boy. Boys like bugs, maybe he liked bugs so much, he became one?” She stated, before turning back to the blonde who was confused for the moment.

“That’s rude! You’re not supposed to just point and talk about other ponies like that! I’m sorry, sir. She jus-” She scolded some more, before turning to apologize to the, ugh, b-bug stallion, only to find him covering his mouth.

“Heh heh. Oh wow, that’s seriously the first time I’ve ever heard that one. Hah!” he said with a snicker, before crouching down to Dinky’s level. Said filly looked at him in curiosity, while Amethyst locked up slightly.

“What’s your name kid? Name’s Naruto. Glorified pony turned bug. Coolest guy in Equestria,” Naruto told her.

“My name’s Dinky Doo, and this is my sister. Sis come on, and say hi.” the two looked up at the elder between the two unicorns, but she lay frozen in place.

“Your sister okay there, Dinky?” The filly nodded her head.

“Y-yeah. She’s just REALLY bad with bugs,” Dinky explained, to which Naruto nodded his head in understanding.

“Hmm, yeah, I can see that. Lots of ponies, really don’t seem to like bugs.” He shrugged.

“I like bugs! I know lots of colts do, but I do too!” He smiled at her.

“That’s a good attitude to have. Not many ponies, including grown-ups, can really take that step to accept someone different to them. Keep up that attitude, and you’ll go places Dinky,” Naruto said, before getting up from his crouch.

“Okay guys, time to head back. I could seriously enjoy some sleep right now,” he stated, with a stretch, before the group agreed and moved on.

Dinky waved them off, with a shout.

“Bye mister!” She saw him raise a hand in a wave back at them, before his group disappeared down the street.

The door to the cafe opened once more, and a pony stepped out.

“Oh dear, I hope I can get home to- Dinky?!” the pony, a grey pegasus mare with a white medical eyepatch, exclaimed in shock, before being hugged by the unicorn filly. Said pony was seemingly in her later teens, probably as old as the group of teens from before. A uniform for the eating establishment on her person. A dark green vest with a badge, over a lime green short sleeved shirt, covered her top. For bottoms she wore a black skirt that came to her knees. On her badge, was the name “Derpy Hooves.”

“Momma!”

“Dinky, Amethyst, what are you two doing here? Shouldn’t you be at home with dad?” she asked, even as she hugged Dinky back.

Amethyst still being frozen, her little sister answered.

“Dad was tired, and so we said we’d come and get you this time.” She smiled up at her mother-figure, causing Derpy to smile down at her, only turn to her sister in worry.

“Is Amethyst okay?” Dinky merely laughed.

“She just saw a REALLY BIG bug!”

~TCL~

When the second day of Fashion Week kicked in, the group had decided that they weren’t going to attend. Now dressed in their more casual garb, they were off to explore the city.

Cadance held the lead in her ensemble of brown shorts that ended at just above knee level, with some suspenders crossing over her white mid-riff revealing t-shirt. On her head she had a tan bucket hat, with a pin in her mane.

Shining followed after her, unbuttoning the top few buttons of his yellow polo. Over his eyes were a pair of dark brown sunglasses, while he wore a pair of blue shorts for bottoms.

“This is going to be fun,” the unicorn royal guard stated, to which Cadance nodded.

“You got that right.”

“Come on, Naruto, I remember there was a bookstore somewhere around here!” came the sound of a certain lavender filly, as Twilight exited the hotel, Spike and Naruto in tow.

The filly was currently wearing a beige shirt with the words “Bright Filly” written on the back. On her bottoms she had a purple skirt that was adorned by stars.

Following after her was the shorter form of Spike, dressed in a pair of overalls, with a dark green shirt.

“You know, it’s amazing just how excited she can get over some pieces of paper,” voiced the changeling, as he stretched the back of his head. Set in a white shirt that was embezzled with a large outline of a circle, with the words “Point Blank” written above the shape. On his bottoms he had on a pair of camouflage cargo shorts.

“That’s Twily in a nutshell,” Shining teased, causing the filly to pout at her BBBFF, as the others laughed.

“Come on guys, time to get this show on the road!” Cadance announced, and they were off down the street.

Their time of fun had begun.

~TCL~

“Ooh, Balking Fair’s Scholastic Workbook! Oh my gosh, The first edition of Unicorn Vesta! I thought I’d never find thi-! Impossible! I never even knew there was a new philosophy book by Muse Vector!”

The group just watched on as a lavender blur moved from every portion of the bookstore in quick fashion. Their eyes moving from side to side in succession, as Twilight refused to stay still long enough for her to actually begin reading even the back covers of books.

“I didn’t think she could get this excited,” Spike commented, as he lost track of where the smallest unicorn of their group went, after several minutes. The others either laughed, or chuckled nervously, as they entered through the book store.

Naruto spied Shining and Spike breaking off to go into the comic book section, while Cadance veered off into a shelf on psychology. The ninja himself went in search of the adventure titles.

Finding it, he was currently running his finger over the stream of book spines, eying titles of all sorts. Looking over a couple more, he picked up a book entitled The Eight Spell Treasures. Reading over the back, he gave it a speculative look before tucking it under his arm.

Turning back to the shelf space, he looked on, only to lock eyes with a mare to his right.

Said mare had large fluffy looking orange mane, and caramel brown eyes. Her fur was a light yellow in color, and her Cutie Mark was seemingly a set of three carrots on her left hand. She was wearing a light purple blouse, with small ruffles on the shirt hem, with a long black skirt that reached her calves.

She stared at him, and he sighed for a moment, awaiting the reaction.

Well, he got one he wasn’t expecting.

“Um, is there another copy of that book?” he nodded his head at the normal re-!

He snapped his head in her direction for a moment, before her words registered.

“Oh, um! I mean, I think there was a couple more that way?” he asked, more than answered. She gave him a confused frown.

“So there are, or aren’t there?” She asked bemused, and he slapped himself back into focus.

Literally, that is.

Ignoring the mare’s look of discomfort at his earlier action, he coughed into his hand.

“I mean, yes. There ARE some more over there.” He pointed more confidently this time, to which she smiled.

“Thank goodness, I’ve been trying to get that for a friend of mine for a while. She’s not really one for more...complexity driven stories, but adventure always seems to get her blood flowing,” she explained with a smile, allowing Naruto’s own to come through.

“I think I can get behind this mare’s way of thinking. I’ve never really been one for books….ever. It’s only been recently that I’ve even really started reading for fun.” She grinned at him, before looking at him with a focused look, before shaking her head with a laugh.

“Sounds like you two would get along great. Thanks for the help, I mean it, this should help her relax for a bit at least.” Her piece said, she turned to go down the aisle to find that book, before she heard him speak again.

“Could I ask one more question?” Turning at the sound of his voice, she found him giving her a frowny look, eyebrows knitted together in a conflicted expression.

“Yes…?” He took a breath, and spoke.

“Well...I’m used to ponies, not taking too kindly to my appearance. That is to say, I’m more used to the weird stares I’d get from somepony, than one just…” He tried to find the right words.

“Casual?” She supplied, which had him laughing as he scratched the back of his head.

“Yeah,” he said simply, causing her to smile at him.

“I think I can understand what you mean.” The blonde gave her a look of disbelief.

“Really? Not to be rude, but you look just like every other pony I’ve seen, since I’ve been here.”

“Oh, I don’t mean me. I mean, my friend Derpy. You see, she has a...disability. Ponies treat her differently because of it. I learned that just because she’s slightly different, doesn’t mean she should be treated any differently. So neither should you,” she said proudly, causing him to grin right back at her, which caused her to winch slightly.

“Though you may want to be careful with the grinning.” he scratched the back of his head with a laugh.

“Good idea. Thanks, I mean it.” She nodded her head, before he thought for a moment, and tossed his book to her.

Catching it, she looked up confused, only to find the changeling had disappeared.

Looking around for a moment, she decided that it was just her good luck, and not a ghost, and skipped away with the book in tow.

Jumping down from the ceiling, the blond was happy to know that there were plenty of also tolerant ponies as well. So with a grin on his face, he turned around to continue on his way, only to run into a grinning Cadance.

She had that look in her eye that he hated more than anything.

Naruto~” Oh Kami fucking dammit! He saw her eyebrows wiggle, before she tried to dash after the mare from before.

“Cadance, no!” He tackled her, before allowing his tail to wrap around her, and keep her in place.

“Love! Must! Prevail!” He could feel her struggle against her bindings. It was enough to make him focus his efforts into keeping her restrained.

When the others finally found them, it was Naruto currently hanging her from his tail upside down, and her still struggling to break free.

“Uh, Naruto? What exactly am I looking at?” Shining couldn’t help but ask, as he tucked his purchase underneath his arm. Looking at the form of his marefriend trying to break out of her bindings, was slightly humorous, but it did still raise the question.

Twilight looked on, staring over her pile of books, as Spike currently took a seat on his rump and read his new comic book.

“Cadance was trying to set me up with another mare again,” the blonde said, as Shining let out an “Ahhh~” in revelation.

“Come on Naruto! I can totally set you up with..with...what was her name again?” Her struggling stopped for a moment, as she asked her question.

The changeling looked at her for a moment, before his eyes widened.

The next few moments, found Naruto slamming his face, repeatedly, into a hardback book.

~TCL~

The changeling licked the orange, frozen liquid with glee. His actions only mimicked in time, by the small drake by his right side. On his left Twilight used a spoon to eat out of her bowl, unlike the two males who had a cone.

Her spoon making another dip into her pistachio ice cream, she hummed as she watched her brother and foalsitter from afar. The three were currently on a bench away from the cou0ple who had taken up a table.

Between them was a large glass, filled to the brim with a Mudslide dessert. In the large ice cream drink, were two separate straws, and one large single straw, that had a heart shape in it’s center with two exits leading from it.

They had decided to watch on, as Shining and Cadance enjoyed a semi-romantic moment.

He could feel his tongue flick out, as he hiccuped slightly, that strange smell came back again.

As of late, he’d been noticing that it became more pronounced. Nowadays, he could actually taste something in the air, and it was a slight craving that he couldn’t help, but feel a hankering for.

He normally drowned it out with food though.

Twilight from her place next to Naruto, could only stare on, spoon in her mouth. She removed the utensil, and couldn’t help but frown.

“Love between ponies is so confusing.” Naruto stopped licking for a moment, as Spike continued, the drake in his own little world at the moment.

“Oh yeah? How so?” She gave him a conflicted look.

“I hear Cadance talk about it, all the time. ‘One day Twilight, you’ll understand’ or ‘It’s just complicated Twilight, don’t worry about it.’ That’s just it, though, why, is it so hard to understand? I know there’s a psychological part to it, as well as a physical one, but Cadance says it’s more than that. Do you get love Naruto?” She explained, and then asked, causing the blonde to actually freeze in place for a moment.

“Well, I mean, Twilight that’s a complicated feeling,” he started, which only caused her to look to the ground.

“So why don’t ponies study it? Cadance says love is amazing, so why don’t ponies study it, so they can all have it?” This question only made Naruto more conflicted.

“...I honestly don’t know the real answer to the first one, but I can give you the right idea to the second. Love isn’t something you can clearly keep an eye on. Love between two people, ponies, race, whatever, is complicated because it doesn’t necessarily make sense,” he started, taking a lick of his ice cream to keep his tongue wet.

“Love can be tricky, because there all types of it. For example, your dad and mom. They obviously love each other very much, you and Shining are some example of that. That said, your dad obviously doesn’t love you, the same way he loves your mom. Same how Celestia loves Spike, but doesn’t see you the same way. You love Spike and Shining, as your brothers, but you share love with Cadance as somepony you hang with...” He saw he had Spike’s attention as well, and nodded his head.

“Love is complicated. It’s mysterious, weird, hard to get, easy to get, bad, good, taboo and heavenly. Love itself is something that can make ponies the greatest heroes, or the worst villains. It only takes one ounce of love to change somebody, good or bad. You just CAN’T study love.” She sent him a look.

“Why?” He frowned.

“That’s a loaded question young lady.” Came a voice behind them, and the trio looked back to see a stallion walking towards them from the trail in the park in the background.

The stallion’s coat was a tan, with mane that reminded them of raspberries. He was had slight wrinkles around his forehead, and yellow eyes, denoting his older age. On his right hand, was a Cutie Mark of several barrels put together. He was dressed in a mix of yellow sweatpants, and a large floral looking red, button up shirt.

“I don’t get it. Mr…” He laughed.

“Rolling Barrel is my name, but I don’t think that’s your question.” She nodded her head.

“Why is love like this? It’s been around for so long, yet it seems like ponies still can’t figure it out,” Twilight reiterated.

“Well, let me ask a question. From what your friend told you right here, do you think it’s possible to love somepony the same way, as you did another?” The filly scrunched up her face in thought.

“From what was previously stated, no?” He nodded his head, before grinning.

“Well, you see that’s absolutely correct, and yet wrong at the same time. It’s very possible to love someone the same way. Like say your little lizard guy, right here. What’s he to you?” he asked.

Looking to Spike, who simply smiled at her, she smiled as well.

“He’s my brother. My little brother.” Rolling nodded his head.

“From what I heard, you have another brother too, right?” he waited for her to nod, “So don’t you also love him like a brother?” Twilight froze in place, as she thought about it.

“Exactly, ‘love’ isn’t just bound by one set of rules. It has rules that shoot every which way, depending on the situation. My...late wife, she was somepony I adored. She was an inspiration to me, when we were younger. She was my idol, then later my best friend, and then my wife, it didn’t change anything at all about how I felt about her, just added more things for me to love about her.” He turned to Naruto, and gave him a look in the composite eyes, causing the blonde to shuffle.

“I bet you had a previous heartbreak, as of recently huh?” His words gave the blonde pause, as the stallion nodded.

“Yup, your bug friend here seems to know exactly how complicated love can get. Let me see, I bet you had a girl you had a crush on, and ‘loved’ yeah?” Naruto was feeling slightly uncomfortable, but he nodded.

“Did you ever get the girl, my boy?” Here the ninja frowned, but shook his head.

“Nah, she was my friend, but she never really saw me the way I wanted her to. She liked this other guy, and to this day, I’m sure she still does. I did so much for her, but I never really got to anything beyond ‘friend’ status.” Twilight looked to Naruto in saddened shock.

“But, why? I don’t get it? You,” she pointed to Rolling, who wore a solemn smile. “You said your wife, was your friend and then your wife. How come it didn’t go the same way for Naruto?” She was at her points end. Rolling merely gave a small smile.

“Love is weird like that. You sometimes don’t find it in the pony you were expecting, and even the pony you might want to find love in, might not see you that way ever...”

“Because love in this, and any world beyond, is one of the greatest contradictions of any time.” he finished. He looked to his pocket, and pulled out a pocket watch, and checked the time.

“Whoops, jittery jam! I gotta go! Good luck kids, and Twilight? Don’t try to understand love too much. And you young bug-gentlestallion,” Naruto looked up at him, as the man gave him a thumbs up.

“I don’t think you should give up on love either. You may have lost it once, or twice, but you always have to keep trying. You will find it, even if it’s in the most unexpected ways.” His piece said, the middle aged pony went back to the park path, and ran off.

They all just stood there for a moment, before turning back to ice cream parlor.

Seeing that the lovebirds were both about finished, Naruto got up to get ready to greet them.

“Naruto?” Turning back at the voice of Spike, he saw the drake giving him a bemused look.

“What’s up Spike?”

“Do you understand love? I’m just confused.” The six year old merely scratched his noggin, as Naruto looked back on ahead.

“I’m honestly not sure if I ever did.”

~TCL~

As he laid on the extended bed of the couch, he couldn’t help but look outside at the stars through the window.

That moon currently looming in the sky, was shining down it’s glow all over the city of Manehattan, making the spots not covered by clouds, but by pools of moonlight.

Even as he sat up, and stared longer down the way, he couldn’t help but run his mind back to that conversation they had with Rolling Barrel.

He tried to toss around, all that was said, but he couldn’t help but focus on one thing.

______________________________________________________________________

Because love in this, and any world beyond, is one of the greatest contradictions of any time.
______________________________________________________________________

Those words, couldn’t have rung more true for his life. For the most part.

They brought up the memory of his fights with Sasuke.

______________________________________________________________________

“You’ve never known what family is! He took everything from me! You’ll never understand!”
______________________________________________________________________

Turning onto his other side, he felt his mouth shift into a grimace.

Love could breed such hate, it was true. He’d seen it first hand, but at the same time.

______________________________________________________________________

“I’m here of my own free will!”

“I wanted to be with you!”

“Because, I love you!”
_____________________________________________________________________

Love was a beautiful thing, that brought people closer together.

Yet…
_____________________________________________________________________

“Because I love you!”
______________________________________________________________________
Why did Hinata’s seem so different?

When he compared it to his love for Sakura, was it the same?

Was Sakura’s love for Sasuke, similar to Sasuke’s love for his brother? Or was it more powerful?

Was Sasuke’s love for his family, truly the one thing that separated them?

‘Twilight was right, love is hard.’ He sighed, before getting up and going to the kitchen.

Play ~Naruto Alone Ost~

He rummaged through the fridge for a bit, before settling in on some milk. Walking back over to the sight above the city sights, he sipped at the dairy beverage.

Hearing the sounds of soft hoofsteps on carpet, he closed his eyes, before turning his head to see Cadance.

The alicorn was standing there by the couch, in all her teddie covered glory. It was a beautiful sight, and he would be well to admit, Cadance was attractive in every sense of the word.

Feeling his cheeks heat slightly, he turned back to the sight outside, sipping at his milk as Cadance came up to his side.

“...”

“...”

“..Twilight came to me today.” She started, and he merely flicked his ears in her direction.

“She was asking so many questions about love! I was so delighted. I thought she might have been open to the idea of trying it...then she told me about your conversation.” He twitched at this, but said nothing, as she laid a hand on his shoulder. Soft fur, met harder exoskeleton, and he eased down.

“Naruto, can I ask you something?” He looked to her once more, cheeks done flaring, before nodding.

“Is there a reason, you don’t try to at least accept some of the dating advice I give you?” He honestly wasn’t sure what to say to that.

“I, I...I don’t know.” Seeing this, she frowned a bit.

“Not to be too imposing, but does this have anything to do with that girl you had a crush on?” He snapped his head in her direction, wondering how she knew-!

“Naruto, Twilight told me everything. Not just her own questions, but everything that happened in the conversation, with this elder stallion, Rolling Barrel was it?” He looked uncomfortable, as he looked down to the side.

“I...I liked her a lot you know? I mean, I think I liked her. She was so pretty, so smart. She liked this other guy, my...friend, who got all the attention in the world from her and everyone else. I figured, if I just got her to look at me the way she looked at him, I might have proven something.” Cadance stayed silent, as the changeling stopped for a moment and finished his milk.

Rolling the carton in his hands, he tossed it back, and didn’t look as it fell into the trash basket.

“Her name was Sakura. We were classmates, and then teammates. Throughout the years, well okay technically, it was maybe a couple of months, we worked together with our other teammate. My friend, Sasuke. We went through so much, as we worked together, and every chance I got, I asked her out on dates, and stuff. She liked Sasuke, so maybe I thought being better than him was the way to win her heart.” He continued, and she nodded for him to go on.

“Then Sasuke...left, and well, I made a promise to her to bring him back. Some years later, I come back, and she’s better than she was before. She’d cut her mane when we were kids, and I liked it either way, but she kept the look. Yet, even when we met back up, she still didn’t look back at me the same way I did her...We met our old teammate again, and I could see how she looked at him. The way she said his name.” His fist clenched involuntarily, at the thought.

“...It sounds like you gave everything for her.” Cadance simply stated, and he only nodded.

“Everything and more.”

They sat in silence, one in contemplation of what she was told, and the other stuck in the memories of his past.

Taking several more moments, she spoke once more.

“Wasn’t there anyone else, you ever thought would be worth your time?” Seeing the look he sent her way, she held up a hand, and continued.

“Naruto, I understand what you mean. Truly I do, but from what I’m hearing from here, what you were doing was unhealthy. You tried hard, made your feelings known, and even made what seemed like a lifelong promise. You did everything for this mare.” While she spoke, Naruto had to stop himself from correcting her on the mare part.

“Love is complicated, and you know how hurtful it can be, but there are times where it can be the pony themselves causing the hurt to no one else but their own state of being. You seemed so set on this girl, that you ignored all possible other options. You trapped yourself into a promise,” she said.

“That’s not true! I had to bring him back, Sasuke was going into a dark place he wasn’t going to come back from. I was the only one who could get through to him. He was my brother in all but blood, and no one, not even you can tell me other wise.” He seemed to glare at her, causing her to flinch back.

He just became aware of what he’d done, and looked away in shame. Looking back at the bug teen, Cadance, let out a breath, twirling her fingers from her chest away to the air away from her.

Thinking over what he’d just said, she couldn’t help but focus on one thing.

“Naruto,” she called him, but he was doing his best to not look at her. Sighing, she picked up a magazine from the table at the side table, and rolled it.

The next moment, found Naruto being bopped on the side of the head. His eyes blinked as he felt it, before looking over at his alicorn friend. Cadance even after being shouted at, just smiled at him understandingly.

It simply made him feel more guilty.

“Naruto, the more I drum over your words, the more I can’t help but notice something.” He tilted his head in her direction.

“Naruto, are you sure, you’re not just doing this to beat Sasuke?” He turned on her, for a moment, but remembering what he just did he stewed on her words.

He looked down with a conflicted frown.

“From what you’ve said, it always seems to lead back to this Sasuke pony. You went so far as to say you were as close as brothers, Naruto. I don’t think you liked this Sakura girl as much as you say you did.” He still frowned, but he was at the least listening.

“Naruto this may sound weird, but can you tell me about Sasuke. And I mean, from your point of view.” He did look at her weirdly for a second, before he scoffed.

“He was a grade A bastard. I didn’t really know him outside of the academy, that much. We’d pass each other every now and then, but for the most part we knew where we stood with one another.” He started.

“We sort of hated each other…” She frowned at this, but blinked come the next bit.

“...but at the same time, we understood, kind of. We didn’t meet eye to eye, and to this day, I still want to punch him in the face, but we respected each other...Then his family was killed by his brother.” She gasped, but he continued.

“After that, he was even worse off than before. He shunned everybody. Praise, friendship, glory and girls. He was the best of the best, and knew it. He only cared about that for all of our childhood. After we graduated, we were put on teams, and me and him were set to the same one. The prodigy and the dead last, and Sakura being the top girl in academics was also on our team.” He may not have realized it but he start to smile.

He explained about their “quests” outside of the village, to help other ponies. About these tournaments that they went through, and the like. He recounted all the way up to the bit near their last fight, where he omitted a few things.

“He just left, for no other reason but because of his brother, who’d done something so terrible to him. Now that I think about it, it was kind of stupid of him to even listen to the guy, all things considered. Kind of wish I could have said that to him, when my fist was caving in his face...I didn’t want to lose what we had. By that point, even though I don’t think he realized it, or actually, yeah he did. We were friends. He saw me, as the same as he was,” he said, before she filled it in.

“Equals,” she supplied, causing him to grin.

“But that’s not just it, you admired him, didn’t you? He was not only family, but somepony you wanted to recognize you.” He nodded his head, before she closed her eyes.

“Naruto, I think you only liked Sakura, because you were trying to one up Sasuke. She was someone he had, and you saw it as a sort of challenge? Possibly, there was some attraction, but it doesn’t seem like you liked this girl for her, so much as for what she represented.” Cadance explained, causing his frown to deepen.

“Do you know what I believe ‘love’ to be?” This got him to focus in on her with interest. He saw her eyes focusing outward, toward the skyline from the window.

Bringing his own gaze to the world outside the top of hotel, he watched the stars sparkle in the sky. Those small shining lights, dancing around, over and behind the moon, in the nighttime sky.

“Love is the feeling of completeness between two souls. The binding agent that will bring two sols and meld them to one another. That connection may change in time, fading into nothingness, or becoming stronger than even the most resilient metals. Love bonds us to one another, and is one of the greatest driving forces of this world.” She brought her hands up, opening them, and clasping them together along with her words.

“Your bond with Sasuke was powerful enough that it drove you to always chase after him. He was your other half, as I’m sure you were his.” His lips turned to a thin line.

“I get what you’re saying, but I really hope you aren’t implying something weird.” Naruto rose an eyebrow at her in suspicion.

Cadance merely hid her laugh behind a hand, as the blonde joined in a moment later. Naruto ever the oblivious to her inner thoughts.

‘Okay, so maybe he isn’t gay. I can cross off half of that list.’

“So, does this mean, you’ll take some of my dating advice from now on?” She looked to him in curiosity. She was more surprised, when she saw him give her a frown, she’d honestly thought he’d-

“I’ll think about it. Maybe...maybe,” he said, only to find himself in the biggest hug he’d ever received since coming here.

“Oh Naruto, you’ll never regret this! Everypony should have the chance to feel LOVE!” she somehow managed to whisper and shout at the same time.

Breaking apart from one another, she gave him one more pat on the shoulder before retreating back into her room.

Seeing her off, he turned his gaze back to the view out the window. Back to the picture of shining stars, and a incandescent moon.

“The bond of completeness, huh?” How many did he have to have, before he could find it?

His other half, that would truly make him whole, in this world.

~End Song~

~TCL~

The blonde changeling merely stretched, as the group set out from the fashion show. Arms stretched behind him, as they moved past the crowd of other ponies and the like.

At his side, Shining cracked his back, stretching his arms the whole way.

“I swear, these ponies can get kind of rough. It’s just clothes.” The unicorn would get no debate from the blonde. Naruto didn’t even care about fashion, and yet he had been subject to some pretty weird ideas for what ponies considered clothing.

Who thought that sand wear would ever be popular. Freaking literal sand clothes. How ever they were being held up, he hope the pony who made them was thinking straight.

Them, and whoever was planning to buy the damn things!

Coming up behind them, was Cadance, Twilight and Spike. The lone dragon, was quick to escape the territory of estrogen, and rush to their sides. Letting out a breath, as Shining ruffled his head spines.

“Never again.”

Cadance looked skyward, as the group moved themselves across the street from the fashion arena.

“I think we still have a few more hours, before we’ll turn in. I say we get something to eat, to tide us over.” They were all in backing for that idea, and they moved around the streets.

Annoyingly, most of the food places were either packed with the rest of the fashion week goers, or full of no less than the maximum occupancy.

Everywhere they walked, they couldn’t find a good place. Anywhere farther just wasn’t applicable. They wanted to be able to eat, and then quickly get back to the hotel.

“Ugh! This is getting ridiculous, is no place around here opened?” Spike grumbled, as they passed another eating location. The teens of the group could see the lines leading into the each cafe, restaurant and deli. The only silver lining, was that if one wanted to see the fashion models outside of the show, all you had to do was look in a nearby window of an eating establishment.

Looking into a window, Naruto caught sight of a mare in a large brown trenchcoat. She had on black sunglasses, and he could see a dark blue mane from underneath her fedora and her pale yellow coat from in between the coat crevices.

Shaking his head, he found that they’d circled around back to the front of the hotel.

“Oh come on!” Spike exclaimed, as the others slumped as well.

Twilight cupped her chin for a moment, before she blinked, eyes going wide. She felt her hand go over her eyes in exasperation.

“I can’t believe we didn’t think of this earlier,” she said, catching their attention.

“We could just order in!”

~TCL~

Naruto felt his eyes blink slowly, as he came to consciousness. His hand came up to his face, as he rubbed the tiredness from his eyes.

“Ugh, that is the last time I suggest that we order some alcohol.” He muttered, as he rubbed the stinging headache away. He felt the grogginess recede slightly, before looking over his place on….the floor?

“How did I get here?” Looking around, he saw he was sleeping curved to the couch itself. He looked up to find that he was underneath the pull out bed section, and crawled out. The light formerly blocked by the cushion, now invaded his eyes, and he blinked even more so.

Looking over to the bed, he had to hold back a snicker.

Shining was currently sitting upside down on the couch backend. Legs over the back, and body on the cushion/bed section, tongue lounging out of his mouth. Over him was Cadance, as she was laid flat across stomach, one wing propped against his legs, as the other was folded loosely.

Spike and Twilight were currently cuddled together, by Shining’s head, a bowl of leftover popcorn was spilt onto the pull out mattress. The unicorn was hugging the drake from the back, and was doing her best to dig themselves into the cushiony material below them.

He allowed his lips to form into a smile, as he looked at this scene. His friends were so carefree and even now, the blonde could feel it in himself.

It really drove home how different this world was from his own, and thinking that made him think back to the conversation he had with Cadance last night.

Was Sasuke the only reason he liked Sakura? Cadance did say that there was some attraction in there, but how far did his own feelings go, and his feeling of one-upping Sasuke connect?

As he thought about this, he couldn’t help but feel slightly lightheaded.

‘The alcohol was a seriously BAD idea! Oh Kami, or wait, Sweet Celestia...nope, still can’t say it.’ He held his head in his palm, before he felt like he was hotter than he should have been.

He looked over to the projection screen that was pulled from the space above the large window to the outside world.

He decided that maybe he should go for a walk.

He stealthily moved about the room, doing his best to avoid snagging his hoof on an errant soda, or wine/beer, bottle as he moved to Shining’s room.

Getting out of his casual garb, he donned an orange tank top, and pulled on a pair of forest green sweats.

Exiting and going to the door, he made sure to grab his card for entry and slipping a few bits into his pockets just in case.

~TCL~

“Oh kami, this air feels so good~,” he cooed in relief, as he sat at a bench in the park. He leaned back with a large smile, as he closed his eyes, and allowed the cool night air to push back his shell.

He allowed his legs to kick out without regard for anybody who could possibly even be here this time of. He could hear the sound of small moths as they buzzed around a nearby streetlamp.

He let out a sigh, as he allowed his eyes to slide open. He glimpsed at those skyward lights, and reached his hand towards them.

“Maybe she was right?” He honestly didn’t know, and he couldn’t help but focus on it.

He didn’t want his feelings for Sakura to fake. He didn’t want those feelings to be another failure in his life.

He slapped a hand over his eyes, and groaned.

“I don’t want to fail at falling in love,” he croaked out, and even now he couldn’t help but feel a slight bit of water run against his hand. He didn’t want to acknowledge the tear, not right now.

“Oompf!” He heard a noise, and felt the vibration of somepony hitting the floor.

After tripping over his own hooves.

He jumped to his feet, as he took in the form of the fallen pony.

A green uniform, with the words of Manehattan Moxy Pot on the back. He could a pair of grey wings pushing through the holes in her outfit, and could see the tuft of pale blond mane on her head.

He rushed over to her side, and couldn’t help but jump back, when she shot up into a sitting position.

“Uhm, are you okay? I didn’t mean for that to happen! I didn’t think there would be anypony out this late, and...” He started, but couldn’t help but notice that the mare was facing away from him.

He tapped her shoulder, and snapped her head in his direction, nearly causing him to jump back.

He saw a pair of golden eyes staring back at him. Well, one was, then it wasn’t, as the other pair began to go cross-eyed in different ways. He couldn’t help but notice, that a bar of red going across her face, as well as the slight alcohol in the air.

She seemed to be not all there, as she looked in his direction once more, before looking around.

He wondered if she even knew where she currently was, but stopped short when she began to talk.

______________________________________________________________________

Derpy Hooves was a mare of many things.

Simplicity, moving forward and, most of all, patience and muffins.

She’d always drove herself to do the best she could when it came to the capability that she had. She wasn’t the most coordinated pony, nor the best with directions, but she had to wonder how she’d gotten to the floor.

“Uhm, are you okay? I didn’t mean for that to happen! I didn’t think there would be anypony out this late, and...” She heard something, but for the most part, her mind was trying to come up with a reason for why she was on the floor.

Feeling a tap on her shoulder, she turned to that direction with gusto. Maybe somepony could tell her where she was, and how she got to the floor.

That said, her vision wasn’t exactly doing her any favors, not that it did usually, and she could barely make out the shadow of something as it moved slightly.

Turning her head to the left and right to shake off the blurriness, she tried to focus in on the shadow again.

The first thing to come into focus was white object against the shadow. Two of them in fact, as well as large big blue eyes and a pair of protrusions from the top of, assumably, its head.

Many who knew her, would know that she fancied herself a creative pony. Usually in the form of her imagination, because your own imagination was a good place to escape to when the real world got complicated.

Her friend Golden harvest even bought her a new book!

So, when her alcohol addled mind brought up the fact that those white things were fangs, the protrusions horns, and the big blues were eyes of some sort.

She could be forgiven, hopefully, for her sudden attack on the forest beast, Mondomezza.
______________________________________________________________________

Naruto could only snap his body backwards, as the mare’s body jumped up, and she sent a kick in his direction.

“Whoa! What?!” He exclaimed, as he leaned out of the way of another hit. This time a straight punch, that was followed by a karate chop.

“What is wrong with you?!”

“I won’t let you have me, Mondomezza!” the weird mare shouted at him.

“Who the hell is Mondomezza??!” He had to duck another chop after his exclamation.

He noticed that she was slightly off kilter with each attack. Even as strong as he was, he had no doubt, that Spike would have just a hard time dodging this chick, were he inclined to fight her in this state.

He dodged under a kick, and couldn’t keep the blush off his face, when she missed. He quickly got out of her way, as he forced the blue across his face to recede.

‘Striped? No, no! Focus! Focus damn you!’ He slapped his face, as he focused more on this mare that was trying to knock his head off. What even was a “Mondomezza”?

“I won’t let you have my pure maiden’s wish!” Her words weren’t helping him at this point.

She came at him again, and he got ready to meet her. He’d just put her down easy, and be on his way.

That was his thought, before she tripped.
______________________________________________________________________

She’d done her absolute best to corner the dark buzzard nightmare of Ruby Cataul, but it seemed to be too strong.

Derpy always wondered how her black belt would do against the Dark Hand.

So she planned on turning the tides against him, with a secret technique!

Before she tripped.

She could only imagine what sort of dark trick, the dark being could have pulled, before she found herself meeting hard-!

“Whoa there, I think that you might have had too much to drink.” She heard a voice. She felt the back of her uniform vest being pulled as somepony set her back on her, admittedly, wobbly feet.

It sounded young, maybe around her own age, and male.

But that was impossible! She was just fighting Mondo-! Her body froze, as she felt her face burn, as the reality of the situation finally kicked in.

“Derpy Hooves” struck again.

She felt the rest of her face begin to heat up, as she imagined the rumors that would start because of this, on top of the others.

‘Oh Celesti-Why is the world spinning?’ Was her last thought before she found herself in the world of unconsciousness.
______________________________________________________________________

She didn’t know how long she slept, but it mattered little as she felt the feel of curved wood against her back. She opened her eyes slowly, as she sat up from her impromptu sleeping location.

She wasn’t sure how she ended up here, last she remembered-

“Oh, so you’re finally awake. Gonna be honest, I kind of freaked out, when you just collapsed like that.” She heard a voice, and looked to the right of the park bench.

Sitting in meditating position was a pony she’d never seen before.

Bug like exterior, with a ponish shape, blonde mane and dressed in a set of tank top and pants.

She focused on him(?), and couldn’t figure out why he was so familiar…

Then the memories of her drunken altercation came to life, as she looked at his two fangs, her mind coming to a halt.

“Uh, you okay-”

“I’m so sorry!” she had interrupted him. She seemed to jump up from the seat in a hurry, enough so that when she was standing on her own two hooves, she nearly collapsed again, only this time she fell to her knees, clutching her noggin.

“Owie…” He threw a concerned look her way, before reaching over and passing her a bag. Accepting the offering, she looked inside to find a bottle of water, some painkillers, a couple of napkins and a, a…

“Muffin?” She looked over to him, and he scratched the back of his head.

“Well, you see I also had a headache from a certain drinking escapade. I was gonna have them, but you look like you need it far more than I do.” A bold faced lie. He’d sent a clone to one of the nightly deli, and gotten the items.

“I also figured, you might be hungry when you came to, especially since... You, ahem, vomited over in the bushes while, unconscious. Oh man,” he stated, only to look at her worryingly, as her coat seemed to shoot down in paleness, as though she had become a sheet of white stone.

Derpy could only feel the shame, embarrassment and guilt all pile on, more and more. Every passing second, she wished the world just decided to suck her in, and never let her see the light of day.

She let her face fall into her hands, as she tried to hide her misfortune, only to feel nothing but fur.

She froze.
______________________________________________________________________

Naruto looked on in more worry, as his fellow park goer went still. He watched as her hands felt around her face, the digits probing her upper right portions before they too froze.

He heard her whisper just barely, as she kept trying and failing to find something.

“Where is? Where is it? Where IS IT?!” She started scrambling about, as she looked around the floor frantically.

He looked at her in confusion, as she searched, before his eyes opened in realization.

“Wait, is this what you were looking for?” She froze once more, before slowly turning to look in his direction.

He retrieved the white patch from his pocket.

She smiled in relief, as she saw it. In his grasp.

Not on her face, to hide th-

Play ~AnoHana OST - I Left You ~ Not Sure If I Did~

He frowned, as she slapped a hand over her left eye, before giving him a teary eyed look.

“Yo-You saw it?” he could hear her ask, but her eye said that she wished for anything but that.

Still, he nodded his head, as she turned her head downward. It didn’t take long for him to see her shoulders shake, and he sighed when he heard the sniffles coming from her as well.

He watched as she tried to clear away the tears, a vain attempt as she just kept wiping. He crawled over the small distance between him and her, and settled beside her.

Thinking for a moment, he reached into the bag and pulled out some few napkins, before patting her on the back.

His ministrations seemed to be working, as he heard her slowly, but surely, begin to calm down more. Or at least, enough so, that she wasn’t blind to him handing her the napkins, so she could clean her face.

Watching her take the napkins, and clean up, Naruto then offered the eyepatch.

She looked at it, as she dabbed her eyes, before looking over to him.

He simply grinned at her, before thinking better of it, and just smiling as he odded towards the medical ocular blocking instrument.

She reached over, and retrieved it from his palm, before shakily setting it back into place.

At that point they just sat there.

Naruto couldn’t really think of what he could do, obviously she was distressed. He was pretty sure, that her eye was part of the problem.

He was about to say something, but she beat him to the punch.

*Sniffle* T-thank yo-u.” He heard a slight hiccup in the middle, but smiled nonetheless.

“Hey! No problem to be had, but obviously something’s wrong here.” She gave him a weary, slightly confused look.

“W-what?”

“Well I don’t know your name! Here we are, two people just sitting here on the floor, after some alcohol stunts, and we don’t even know each other’s names. Gosh, that’s rude of us,” he said, with a mock sigh, as he held a hand to his face.

She looked at him for a moment, before she began to giggle, and then laugh.

Naruto merely gave a squinty eyed grin, as he heard her laugh.

‘That’s a lot better than before,’ he thought happily, as she began to calm down her laughter. Finally wiping away a stray tear, she sniffled once more but was in better spirits.
______________________________________________________________________________

They found themselves back on the bench a moment later. Naruto merely sat on, looking up, as the grey pegasus indulged herself in the muffin. Watching her finish the baked good, he handed her the water form before, along with a painkiller.

Looking at the offered items, she stared for a moment, before the pain of her hangover brought itself back to the forefront.

“Owie…” she took both the offered items, and quickly downed them. Letting out a sigh, as the pain began to ebb slightly, she looked down at the water bottle in her hand.

The male blond at her side, simply looked straight ahead, as the time ticked on.

“Thank you. I...I didn’t really know what to do, when somepony saw me like...like that,” her thanks given, he merely waved them off with a smile.

“Nah, don’t worry about it. I’m happy that I was able to help. Especially since it was kinda my fault, anyway. Sorry for tripping you by the way, I wasn’t expecting anybody to be out here.” She looked at him for a moment, and smiled, her right eye shut, as the white medical patch covered the left.

“Oh it’s no problem! I don’t even remember falling!” He sweatdropped, that didn’t even make him feel any better.

Looking her over, he decided that maybe he could ask, what that was all about, from before.

“So um, Ms…”

“My name’s Derpy Hooves, but you can just call me Derpy.” She smiled at him, and it allowed him a little more courage to move forward.

“Right, Derpy. So...what are you doing here, in a park, obviously drunk?” His question caused her to narrow her eyes a bit, before she sighed.

“Work was dragging on today. Mostly due to the influx of ponies from the Fashion Week cast,” she started. He could only nod, as he remembered the hard time tehy, his group, had had earlier.

“Oh I can totally understand that. Me and my group of friends couldn't find a single place to chow down. At that point, we just decided to order in and watch some movies...I woke up underneath the mattress,” he stated, only to have her laugh at the bit near the end.

“Hehehehe! How’d you even get underneath there?” He scratched the back of his head nervously.

“It’s hard to remember, but I think we were watching a movie about, ugh, ghosts.” Naruto shuddered at the thought of the ectoplasmic entities. It was no wonder why he’d hid underneath the mattress.

Screw celebrity movies, Sapphire Shores was not worth Strange Inquiry 2. Based on a real story, or not, fuck that movie!

“That’s silly…” she smiled.

“Besides I’m sure, that ghosts wouldn’t be scary.” He froze at this, before turning to her.

“How are you so sure. Your Cutie Mark doesn’t mean like exorcism or something, right?” He eyed the three bubbles with trepidation, she simply laughed.

“Optimism!” He slumped forward.

“Let’s just, NOT, talk about ghosts, please? Besides, you still didn’t tell me what caused you to be here, drunk” The question brought down her mood slightly, but she gave a small smile.

“After we were done with our shifts, me, well more like my co-workers, got me to come along to drink out with them. Apparently, lots of bars open up around this time of the season, for obvious reasons.” He tossed a confused look her way.

“Wait, then how’d you end up here? Alone?” here she grimaced.

“My co-workers all left me! Their coltfriends came, and picked them up, and I was left alone to walk home.” She slumped, put out, as Naruto frowned.

“Sounds like some seriously sucky co-workers." he said out loud, only causing her to slump further forward.

Okay, steer clear of that zone. Seriously, who even did that?

“So what about you? Don’t you have somepony looking for you?” Quick to get this train back on track, he prompted her forward.

*Sigh*, I...don’t have a coltfriend. I don’t really have the time for one, much less landing one.” He snorted, causing her to look at him in confusion.

“Oh come on! I find that hard to believe. I mean look at you, you’re adorable!” his words caused her to flush slightly.

His plan of making her feel better was working. Sure maybe he didn’t need to add that bit at the end, but it helped.

He never realized just how much of what he just said, was actually his own opinion. He’d spoken what he felt was true, and had no idea, how far down that feeling truly went.

She looked down to the side, face aflame.

“R-really? Yeah, well, a lot of stallions don’t exactly stay for long, once they see this.” She pointed at her eyepatch, causing the changeling to frown.

“It can’t really be THAT bad, can it?” he asked, only to flinch back, as she glared at him.

“Not that bad. Not that bad?! The second I had this, ponies don’t even look at me the same way! I had this since day one, and nopony takes me seriously! I’m not the brightest, but Derpy Hooves does her BEST!” she shouted at him, causing him to jump back, before she began to breathe heavily, and then just slump back onto the bench, face pressed into her hands.

He didn’t expect that, but he really should know better as he sighed.

“Look, for what it’s worth, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be insensitive about your…” once more, his mouth ran him into a wall. He honestly wondered how often his mouth could get him into the bad graces of somebody, with how often it ran without thinking.

She looked at him with a narrowed eye, before sighing.

“...It’s a condition I was born with.” He didn’t know why, but he couldn’t help but feel some sort of familiarity here. He wasn’t sure why, but he couldn’t help but to reach over and, hesitantly, pat her on the back.

“I can’t say I know exactly what you’ve gone through. I have the feeling though, that you did indeed find somepony, and a couple others, to stand by your side.” He felt that she did have this. He couldn’t help that the familiarity was striking him full force right now, and that those her exact words were the ones that came from his mouth.

She looked to him in shock for a moment, before eyes widen, and she shot up almost immediately.

“What time is it?!” he looked at her, before taking a look at the moon.

“Not a clue.” she nearly panicked, but he continued to speak.

“When I came out here, originally, it was maybe close to midnight. It’s been at least an hour since then, maybe two even.” She looked to him in shock, before she began to frantically move about.

“Oh no, this is wrong, I should be home right now!” She exclaimed, as she began to run down the path, only to groan as she fell to her knees. Naruto was quick to reach her side, and look Derpy over for a moment.

She was holding her head , and look slightly groggy. Thinking for a moment, he pulled out a packet of the painkillers from his pocket, and read over the possible side effects.

‘Nausea and sleepiness…fantastic,’ he thought, before looking to the pegasus.

“Why’s everything, blerg, feeling so weird,” she spoke, quickly covering her mouth for a moment as a another sense of vertigo struck.

“It’s the painkillers. Some of the side-effects might be kicking in for you.” She looked unfocused, but reached a hand out in a random direction, the limb shaking slightly.

“I need to...get home,” the cafe worker said, causing Naruto to frown for a moment, before he blinked as he was struck by an idea.

Derpy wasn’t feeling all too great, but she had to go home.

‘Golden Harvest, Amethyst, dad, Dinky.’ Her mind reached out for those she cared about, and yet it felt like if she tried to move, she would be vomiting in a bush again. As her mind tried to deal with the world moving, she found herself being levitated off the ground.

Great, now she was off her bonkers.

“There we go, so which way to your house there Derpy?” She heard Naruto’s voice, and looked down to find herself, not levitating, but currently on the back of the buggy teen. She let out a yelp, and flung her arms in every which way, all the while Naruto was trying to keep balance, as she moved about.

“Derpy, stop moving so much! This isn’t as easy if you start freaking out!” She had barely enough time to freeze, before she felt her head swirl in on itself again, and flopped against his back.

“...”

“...”

“...You done now?” He felt her nod against his “mane”.

“Promise to not freak out anymore?” Another nod.

“Good, now let’s go to your house.” He saw her arms loop around, before one pointed forward.

And on, he walked.

~End Song~

~TCL~

Play ~Naruto Morning OST~

They moved down the streets, farther from his hotel, then he was expecting.

All along the way, Derpy merely groaned every now and then, as she gave directions.

Naruto wasn’t really sure, but he felt like making some small talk.

“Hey Derpy? You not sick enough to talk, or…?” He could feel some form of acknowledgement from her as she mumbled slightly. The orbs pressing against his back, had been a often enough occurrence, during this little trip, that he needed to keep his mind from blanking slightly.

He could only take so much.

“Oh, um, yeah. Is there something, you want to talk about?” She kind of stuttered out of her blank stare ahead.

“A couple actually. For starters, what was all that back there?”

She gave him a sad expression, and he chuckled nervously. He would have usually scratched the back of his head in habit, but currently he was carrying Derpy, which just made him realized he was opened to any form of retaliation from the mare on his back.

Best to pick his words carefully.

“What I mean is, back there, you seemed to have some skill in hand-to-hand combat. So, what’s the story?” She actually looked so of surprised by this, but she thought it over.

“Well, my dad...didn’t want me to be taken advantage of.” Sending a concerned look her way, he allowed her grip on his neck to tighten slightly. He could actually feel a little bit of the muscle on those slightly thin arms of hers.

“I started when I was 7. Back then, other foals would pick on me all the time, especially here in Manehattan. He decided that I should have a way to defend myself.” Here she actually started to look a little sheepish.

“My dad’s a big fan of karate movies, especially some of them from Chneigha. So, he kind of jumped to martial arts as the first idea.” The blond ninja could definitely see that.

“You’re definitely good enough, that’s for sure. If I were anypony else, I’m sure they’d be in for quite the wallop.” Her expression dipped, and the blonde nearly panicked, before it changed to a slightly sad, curious one.

“This wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been caught under the influence.” He gave her mock gasp.

No~,” she actually laughed, as she directed him down a nearby street.

“It’s true! It was back when I first tried alcohol...I sort of lost it.” she laughed, a sound more resembling bells than he was expecting, but all the better.

“Second question, who, or what, is a “Mondomezza”?” Naruto asked, as she allowed her arms to tighten slightly.

“Oh, right, hehehe.” she looked to the side for a moment, as the changeling turned his head in her direction.

“Mondomezza, is magical nightmare devil creature of the city of Ruby Cataul. It’s said that to defeat the beast, you must used the ancient kung-fu of Diary Stakes, but I had to improvise!”

He gave her a bemused look, and she blushed in slight embarrassment, ducking into his shoulder.

“It was from a book I read some time ago. My friend, Golden Harvest, usually picks some up for me when she’s around.” He smirked.

“Sounds like a good book,” She smiled, her tongue sticking out the side of her mouth.

“Some of the best adventure books come from Counting Pens, the author.” He smirked.

“Sounds like my kind of book.” He wasn’t expecting what came next.

He felt her chest expand slightly against his back, as she let out a yawn. He blushed at the feeling, but looked on ahead at the house she’d told him about. He wondered a few moments, before he could hear light snores.

Looking back, he found Derpy had fallen asleep. She mumbled slightly, before pressing her face further into the crook of his neck and tightening her hold on his neck, causing him to glow a damn near neon blue.

He simply grumbled, as he moved forward, mind doing its best to focus on getting her breasts against his back, out of his mind. Mindlessly, shifting her form on his back, hands on those thighs of her’s.

He felt that the burning going across his face wasn’t going to be leaving anytime soon.

~End Song~

He moved up the steps, careful to not jostle his passenger. He lifted his tail to the door, changing it into a scorpion’s tail, before using the side of the bulby end, to knock on the wooden entrance.

He didn’t have to wait too long, before he was greeted by the sight of a pony. A very familiar looking stallion, with raspberry colored hair.

They stared at one another for a moment, before Rolling Barrel allowed the blond into the home of one Derpy Hooves.

Letting the blond into the house, Naruto moved past into the cozy home.

“I can say, that seeing you again wasn’t what I expected.”

“I can say the same. I didn’t think you were her father.”

Moving in, the two were quickly making their way past the living room. He could see a bunch of knick-knacks strung throughout the room. There was a screen for movies, like in their hotel room, though it was on a stand.

A couch, and two chairs decorated the room floor, before they passed the living room as a whole. It seemed to connect to the kitchen, where a hallway designated the line where the two met. As they were walking to it, Naruto could hear the sounds of someone’s hoofsteps.

Coming around the corner of one of the four doors he saw down that way. Caramel eyes met his own, and he stared as the pony he met at the bookstore looked at him in shock.

“Golden? I thought you were putting baby bear to bed?” Naruto looked at him, in shock.

“Wait, baby bear?” he asked, before Rolling Barrel nodded.

“Yeah, she’s one of my daughters. Golden Harvest here, is a friend of Derpy’s and was asked to look after her sisters, while I wasn’t here and she was at work. You two know each other?” The changeling nodded his head.

“We met at a bookstore earlier,” Naruto explained, with Golden confirming this. Seeing her friend on his back, the mare with the carrot Cutie Mark looked on with a frown.

“How’d you meet Derpy? I never told you her name.”

“We met in the park, apparently her co-workers took her out drinking.” Here Golden winced, leading the blonde to not have to guess the “why.”

“Where were they?”

“She said they went home with their coltfriends.” He frowned at this, as did Rolling and Golden, before they became aware of Derpy groaning.

“Uh, huh?” she looked around, her vision blurry, “Naruto, am I home yet?”

“Yes honey, Naruto here brought you all the way here from the park. Come on, we need to get you to bed. That way, you can ease up tomorrow, since you go in early.” Easing her off his back, her arms stiffened slightly, before relaxing.

Helping over to Golden, Rolling nodded to her, and watched the ginger lead his daughter off.

Golden was quick to help Derpy ease her way towards her room, but as she did she turned around to smile at the blonde bug teen.

“Thanks Naruto.” He smiled, and waved her off, though not before Derpy got her last few words in.

“Bye Naruto...See you later…” Her piece said, she allowed Golden to fully lead her off.

He grinned to himself, as he scratched the back of his head.

Looking back to Rolling Barrel, the stallion was looking at him with a look of focus, before he blinked and grinned.

“Thanks for bringing her home. I always worry about her, and coming home late. Glad to have you helping her out.”

“No problem, always willing to help,” the ninja stated, only to look at a window, a she saw the beginning bits of sunlight glazing the horizon, even as the moon still lay in the sky.

“It was nice meeting you again, Rolling, but I gotta go.” His piece said, he strolled back to the door. Following behind him, Rolling allowed the blond out.

“Thanks again Naruto,” he said with a wave, that the blonde changeling reciprocated.

“Right. Later.” His bit said, the blond began the trek back. Once he was clear from the house in question, he looked around at the few scattering about ponies, before entering an alleyway.

Hidden from sight, he launched off the walls, before hopping from roof to roof, back to the hotel.

His back felt light, but empty, as he remembered the feeling of a certain gray mare against, causing his cheeks to flush. The phantom warmth filling his thoughts.

Sheesh.
______________________________________________________________________________

Morning, a few hours later....

Derpy allowed her mind to drift awake, as the morning light hit her face. She blinked once, or twice from the intruding ray, before yawning as she got up.

She looked over to see her lamp, with her eyepatch lying next to it. Looking down to the side of her bed, she found Dinky. The filly was all curled up in some of the sheets like some sort of cocoon.

She smiled at the sight, before turning to the left finding Golden Harvest sleeping on the floor to her left, in a sleeping bag. The orange hair poking out in all directions was a dead give away that she’d been rolling in it again.

Laughing mentally again, she looked back to her lamp, at the eyepatch. Then she looked up above the lamp, where a certificate, with a black cloth belt nailed underneath it, was hung. Her mind bringing back bits, and pieces, about the night before.

She laid back down for a moment, and allowed herself to curl up to Dinky.

The warmth from her littlest sister was welcome, but for some reason she still frowned. The warmth was always a constant to her. When her mom was still around, and that shifted to when Dinky was introduced into their lives.

So why did she feel as if it was another warmth she missed?

The faded memory of a broader warmth, that wasn’t her father’s played in her mind, but she lost it.

She did her best to fill that “space” with the warmth of their youngest, mind ever chasing after that memory.

~TCL~

That Wednesday had been more of a conformity day. They’d gone about doing nothing unusual, other than going to the Fashion Show, before heading straight back to the hotel to eat, and watch more movies.

Just no scary ones, for his sake.

The morning hours on Thursday, Naruto’s group had been fine to just spread out and do whatever it was that they pleased.

Separating into groups of rare occurrence.

Naruto found himself bereft of a partner that day. Shining had taken Twilight to go see the sights, and Cadance had taken Spike to go to the park.

He felt weird, that for once in a long while, he wasn’t the one looking after any of the kids. The very notion of it was strange to him, but he decided to see about making something of himself that day.

He thought long and hard about it, before just slinking into a alleyway and running up onto the roof of a building. Mindful of any wondering pegasi, he roof hopped, form fast enough that in the errant nature of the busybodied city of Manehattan, nopony would notice.

His form covered by a dark blue shirt, with a flame like spiral in the middle of the front and back, as his lower portions were in a pair of bulky blue jeans, that were cuffed at the ends to his shin.

As he moved from rooftop to rooftop, eyes looking around, as they took in the rambunctiousness of Manehatten itself. His eyes slipped every which way, as he set himself out to look for something to do. Anything that caught his interest would be fine at this moment.

Ducking past another pair of roaming police ponies, he jumped once more, before settling on a building that overlooked the main junction of Manehattan’s streets.

Sitting on the edge of the roof, he merely allowed his feet to kick back and forth.

‘What to do, what to do?’ he thought to himself, as he sat there. He thought about maybe going to see a movie, he could probably go for it. Though he thought back to the movie the group had been watching, and shivered.

‘Okay, maybe not.’

Looking down into the streets of Manehattan, he eyed a little spectacle going on below, in a nearby park.

“Hello distraction!” he said, as he grinned.

~TCL~

“And you’re sure you can do this Mister…?”

“Naruto, and don’t worry, I’ve got this. Ms. Kindheart.”

The blond was currently just pulling a large cart, filled to the brim with all kinds of wooden planks, nails, plaster and other forms of building supplies.

He’d seen her having a hard time pulling the stuff, and figured.

What better way to spend the evening of of not knowing what to do, but help someone out?

Though he seriously had to roll his eyes at some of the Manehattanites. Seriously, like none of them were really willing to just help out for a bit?

“We’re coming up on the spot I reserved. Once there, we’ll coordinate with some of the contracted builders,” the butter colored earth pony mare stated, as she fixed her red glasses, a stray blue curl coming out of place from her mane in front of them.

Seeing the fur coated, purple jacketed pony flicking another stray strand back into place, he snickered, to which she smiled good-naturedly.

Making it to the area, they found a group of ponies, as she stated.

Some of them were adults, as would be expected for the most part, but he saw a few teens, ranging from his age, to probably a little younger.

Then he saw a few of the kids, who couldn’t be any older than Twilight herself.

When the two of them came up, he knew all their eyes were on him, but he paid it no mind. Easily pulling the cart over to a corner, while Charity Kindheart went about divvying up the work to her volunteers.

As he turned around, he was met with the stare of a small filly.

“...”

“...”

The currently staring filly, bore a light blue bob-cut mare and tail, with a white hat. On her bottoms was a sort of sailor fuku, with a purple collar and a red ascot.

“Oh! Ms. Kindheart said that I’m in charge of painting again, mister.”

Light blue eyes watched his with a cautious glance, before he nodded took out a couple pails of the paint in the cart.

Setting them down, about 5 in total, both changeling and earth pony filly looked at them for a moment. Naruto simply smiled, scratching the back of his head, before reaching back in the cart.

Coco Pommel found herself in the possession of a bucket of paint brushes, before she looked up at the blonde bug teen. Said ninja,was currently carrying all the paint cans. Two in each arm, and the fifth one held by his wire like tail.

“So, where to? Little lady,” he asked, causing coco to release a small, feeble smile, before she lead the way to the other set of kids.
______________________________________________________________________________

3 Hours Later…

Getting up from his crouch on the wall, he flipped over the heads of the children, before landing on the ground. Hearing the little cheers of them all, did his heart some good, as he surveyed their work.

It had taken some time, but they finished painting the wall. Each of them, adding their own little flare to it, as the backdrop for stage was set.

Nodding to a couple of stallions coming over, to move the large flat piece of drawing board, Naruto looked down at the smock he was wearing.

“I’m a good ol’ art project myself.” he was thankful that he’d removed his shirt for this. Even witht he smock, his arms weren’t saved from some stray paint.

“Mr. Uzumaki, we finished doing the bushes. I think the others finally finished the clouds and sun.”

Looking over to Coco, who was sporting her own smock, and “scars” of hard work, he snickered at the set of smudges on her cheeks, before giving her a thumbs up.

Seeing the smile he received in return, he did the same.

Small victories.

“Alright everypony! Thank you for your hard work today, and I’ll be sure to call you back for the end of the week performance! Enjoy some of the refreshments on the way out!”

~TCL~

He hummed as he traveled down the street, idly aware of some of the stares he got. A paint stained bugpony coming down the street, was NOT an everyday occurrence in Manehattan it seemed.

He looked up at the sky for a moment, before thinking about what else he could do today. Charity Kindheart had offered him to come back the next time she was in the need of workers, as well as to enjoy the show when he could. Nice mare, that pony, but he wouldn’t be able to enjoy the show, since he wouldn’t be here in the coming week.

He walked by a store, and stopped to stare at the stuff inside, before walking off.

Coming out of the intersections of Manehatten’s main streets, he was surprised to find himself across the street from a school. He looked at the structure of higher learning, before shuddering, and continuing to walk off.

He could hear a ringing as the school began to let out fillies and colts of about just above twilight’s age, and below. Keeping it out of his mind, he found himself moving on, even as he heard the multitude of children scattering to and from the establishment.

Strange, he couldn’t help but notice that there were a pair of steps making their way to his back.

“H-hey...Y-you’re that b-b-bug guy from two days ago, y-yeah?”

Hearing the stuttering, he turned around to find none other than Amethyst Star. The filly was giving him a nervous stare, even as he saw a couple kids hiding around the corner, staring at him. He blinked once, before nodding his head.

“Uh, yeah? Naruto’s the name, what can I do ya for?” he asked, only to see her shake her head in the negative, causing him to blink again.

“N-no reason! J-just, i recognized you is a-all,” she stuttered out, before looking back at the kids hiding, and flinching her head in his direction.

Seeing them all come out of the corner, he stared at the colorful ponies, and once more couldn’t help wonder how their color palette even worked.

Shaking his own head at the thought, he continued back to trekking along the way to...wherever.

Each moment, he could hear the whispering of the barely teen to pre-teen group of kids behind him. All the while, he noticed just how this looked to the outside world, as some mares and stallions began to scrutinize the group.

He sighed, before turning back to Amethyst, the filly freezing, only giving him more trouble than it was worth.

He was NOT a paedophile!

“So is there any reason, you’re following me, or…?” he used hand motions to suggest that she provide him with some form of idea on what the hell was going on here.

She gave him a confused look, nervous as it was.

“We’re not following you, my home just happens to be in this direction.” she explained, which only caused him to look at the group behind her, with a raised eyebrow.

“Am I to assume you all live in the same house or something?” he asked, as he tapped his chin. Causing a couple of the foals to shake their heads, while a few did.

“Um no….sir.”

“Not really, we have a project!”

“I’m living with my aunt.”

A wide array of responses came about, to which he just shrugged his shoulders, before turning back around.

“Um, N-naruto, sir! What are you doing here, if you don’t mind me asking?” he heard the pink filly’s question, before just shrugging once more.

“...I’m honestly walking around, just looking for something to do. Me and a couple of friends of mine separated, and I’m trying to amuse myself.” He could hear some more gasps from the kids, as their hoofsteps surprisingly, came closer.

“There’s more of him?”

“Maybe they work like ants? Is there a queen?” a rather nerdy looking kid asked, which only caused them to, ironically, buzz more with questions and the like.

“Okay, one, I’m sure there aren’t more of…” Amethyst started, before turning to him with a questioning look.

“Changeling, and no I’ve never met somepony like me before, if you’re wondering.” She nodded her thanks.

“Changeling, see? Besides, I’m sure that what you guys said was more than a little rude,” the unicorn sister of Derpy admonished the other kids. They looked to him in question, and Naruto just tilted his hand in motion, the palm facing to the ground.

“A bit, then again I’m working on what I’d find slightly offensive.”

“Sorry~,” came multiple children’s apologies, causing Amethyst to nod her head. Turning back, she found the blond smiling at her.

“You’re a lot more like your sister than you let on.” His words caused her to scratch her Cutie Mark having hand a little.

“My sis taught me there’s never a reason to be rude, even if you don’t know that you are,” the school student stated, causing Naruto to simply smirk.

“I seriously need to meet this sister of yours. Both you and Dinky seem to love her very much, and she teaches you guys the right things.” she grinned at this, as they continued to walk, before Naruto looked around strangely.

‘Wait a minute.’ he thought, as he looked around. Didn’t this place look familiar?

“We’re here!” one of the foals announced, as the kids began to separate. Each one going into different sides of the large home, now that Naruto could focus on it. He saw doors and staircases coming from the sides of the building.

“So it’s like an apartment?” he wondered out loud.

“Yeah, a few of the kids that go to school live in the same place as us. It’s a multiple occupancy home, or at least, that’s what dad calls it.” the pink filly unicorn student explained, as she and the rest of her group met up in front of the main entrance.

“You kids be good, okay?” the blonde teen questioned, getting a sound off, but before he could leave he heard Amethyst’s voice again.

“Thanks again for the walk home sir!” This made the changeling’s eyes widen, as he realized, that that was, in fact, what had happened.

“It was nice meeting you- sis? You’re leaving now?” He heard this and turned around, hearing some slight muffled words passed through from the inner home. Looking back at the house, he was getting some serious deja vu, right before a VERY familiar looking pegasus in uniform came walking out of it.

Including with an eyepatch.

“Yeah, having yesterday off really helped things along, plus I got to play with Din-?!” She was looking done, as she brushed off a crease in her skirt, talking to Amethyst. Right as she was finished, she looked up and locked eyes with the changeling teen.

He blinked.

She blinked.

They both blinked.

“Derpy?!/Mondo-Naruto?!” Amethyst looked between the pegasus mare, and the bug teen, in confusion.

“You two know each other?”

~TCL~

Naruto could only snicker as they walked down the street, even as Derpy flushed in embarrassment.

She let out a pitiful sound, as he pat her back.

“Can’t you just let it go?” she asked pleadingly, as he smirked.

“Nope! Mondo-Naruto will forever be burned into my mind,” he stated with a thumbs up, as she slumped.

They stopped at a crosswalk, before walking as the light turned green. The bodies of the other Manehattanites pushing against them. Derpy wasn’t sure how to take the fact that she was eerily close to Naruto, as she lead the way doing her best to keep focused on the task at hand. Naruto was the same, even if he was more puzzled by the fact that ponies seemed to just write him off.

It was kind of what he was use to, back in Konoha pre-Nagato, but it was strange seeing it done in just normal fashion. He guessed the novelty of the bug guy in Manehattan had siphoned off in some places.

Good to know.

As they moved closer to the location, Naruto saw that it was a very familiar looking cafe. That said, both changeling and eyepatch wearing pegasus were surprised to see the pony standing outside the eatery.

“Boss?” Derpy could see the stress lines now framing the pony’s face, as they got closer. Naruto could see that this pony did indeed, have a tag with the word manager on it, as well as a slightly more spruced up uniform of Derpy’s.

“Derpy? Oh thank Celestia, you came!” He was crying tears of joy, as he saw her coming, fist pumped.

The duo looked to one another, before Naruto popped the question.

“Yo boss dude, what do you mean by that? You make it sound like you were expecting less.” Naruto asked, only to have to jump back too late, as the stallion began to shake him.

“Of course I was! I’m down three employees right now!” he exclaimed, before releasing the ninja, who was shaking away the stars, and falling to his knees.

“All three of my employees called out sick! Two of them have a cold, and the third is now on maternity leave! I was lucky Derpy is here, plus I could only call in one other from their day off!” He was in hysterics, as he rocked back and forth on the sidewalk.

Naruto looked at him with a raised eyebrow, before leaning over to Derpy.

“Uh...Maybe it’s just me, but doesn’t he seem like he’s overreacting?” Derpy simply shook her head with a tired expression,

“Normally I’d say yes, we can easily handle having a few less employees at times, but...Fashion Week.” He then understood.

The week was bringing in more customers. He could only imagine how filled this place would get in a few minutes.

“Couldn’t any of the others stay for overtime?” the eyepatch wearing pony asked her boss, as she helped him up to his hooves.

“I tried! But Limited Post is visiting family after her shift! Stain Coat can’t stay in for too long, or he’ll get claustrophobia, and Lavender…!”

“Is strict on when she’s here, and not, yeah I know.” She sighed. “And today was going so well, too.”

Seeing the duo fo slumped ponies, Naruto knew what he had to do.

Looks like he knew where he’d be spending his day.
______________________________________________________________________________

Looking down at his borrowed uniform, the blond couldn’t help but pull a little at the collar, before looking down at the badge which was labeled “Minimum Coat”.

Pony names were so weird, he swore.

“Okay, Naruto, what you need to do is simply look at this chart and serve customers at those tables. On occasion, we’ll have you in the back doing food prep.” Feeling the boss pat his back with a tearful thumbs up, made the ninja sweatdrop at the cheerful expression.

Looking over the display of plastic, which showed the number of tables and the corresponding number for each one, he did his best to try and memorize his route.

Hearing soft hoofsteps behind him, he looked at Derpy Hooves.

“Thanks again, for helping out. I hope we’re not bothering you, we really need the help,” she said with a weak smile, to which he tossed a bright one her way.

“It’s okay, I’ve always wanted to wear a suit,” he joked, to which she laughed. Giving his back a pat, she soon began to put on her cooking apron.

“I’m on kitchen duty until mid-evening hits, at which point I’ll be helping you serve tables,” she stated, making him nod.

Time to get his game face on.

“Let’s do this.”
______________________________________________________________________________

“We’ll have the family special Walnut Cake, and a large jug of lemonade, please!”

“Waiter! A bottle of your finest wine, and some Cheese Raggoo!”

“Can I get, um, well. Wait, how about-No~ what do you suggest?”

All afternoon and evening with these ponies, as he saw to another table’s order, he rushed to and fro, doing his best to take orders.

“I’ll have it right on the way ma’am, just a moment.”

“Sir, I hope you're aware that the “finest” wine we have is red grape, are you okay with that?”

“What do I suggest? Uh….Are you allergic to wheat or soy by any chance?”

He quickly made his way back into the kitchen, as he plucked another set of orders off the waiting counter. Slipping off, a couple of orders, he dashed back out to the waiting tables.

“Gah! I’ll get the wine, give me a moment!”

He ran back to the kitchen.

“Where’s the wine?!” he exclaimed, nearly causing Derpy to jump, but she used one of her hooves to point in the direction of a large white contraption.

Zooming over to it, he opened it up, and stared.

“It’s ALL red Grape?!”

The afternoon moved onto evening and as it did, he was becoming more and more stressed thin. Even now, he could see the crowd gathering outside, and at this moment, even the boss was going to and from tables.

“Yes ma’am, it’s all red wine- No we don’t carry white, there was a shipping malfunction.”

“Sir, sir, please, eat with your mouth closed, you’re disturbing the-!”

“It’s okay gentlestallions, I’ll bring about your meals shortly. Stain!”

Even now, he could see the beads of sweat coming down one of the stallion’s eye sockets, as he moved with practiced grace. The blond teen was currently trying and failing to keep track of Derpy, as she moved about.

She was having the hardest time, as it was, as she was slightly tripping over invisible things, and doing her utmost to stay upright. At this point, the blond was trying his hardest, to not just abuse the Kage Bunshin no Jutsu, and make himself out to be too out of the ordinary.

That kind of went out the window, when he saw the large moving crowd of ponies from the Fashion show, start roaming the streets, and entering ALL the eating places.

He sat there, with both Derpy and the boss, as they stared at the oncoming crowd of ponies.

We’re doomed!” came their trio of voices, before the blonde just decided it wasn’t worth the risk, if he didn’t use his technique.
____________________________________________________________________________

Cadance could only stare, as she, Spike, Shining, and Twilight went looking for their blonde friend. They’d searched high and low, until Twilight had suggested using a Seeking spell, and it lead them back to the Manehattan Moxy Pot.

They weren’t expecting what they saw though.

“Hehehe...hey guys~” The changeling grinned, as he sat in a Moxy Pot uniform, a large dark green blazer over his shoulders, as he used a hand to tilt down a pair of sunglasses.

Spike looked at Naruto, as if the blonde had done the most amazing thing of all time, Twilight and Shining were dumbfounded and Cadance, was looking at the blonde with a calculative look. She caught sight of the blonde’s many clones currently running inside the establishment, taking orders, moving plates, etc, etc.

Coming to a stop, on their blonde friend currently playing bouncer, he sprouted a clone, before popping it. A moment later, there was a movement from the cafe railing for the outside portion, before another Naruto jumped out to greet them.

“Yo guys! What’s up?” he said cheerily, as if there wasn’t copy of him next to him, letting in ponies at a timed leisure.

They had too many at that moment.
______________________________________________________________________________

They sat there at the table on the outside area, and looked at their blonde friend, as he leaned back against the railing.

All around them, ponies were being waited on by copies of the changeling, while others were clearing tables. They could also see the owner of the establishment, crying tears of righteousness as he helped to bring out more wine and drinks.

“Naruto, seriously, what the hay is all this?” Shining got the conversation started, as they all watched another pony couple get lead out, by a blond clone, though not before they tipped the bug pony boy.

The blonde scratched his face, before explaining how the owner had asked him to help out, since things had gone a little south, due to Fashion Week.

He was explaining this to them, as a mare came up to the blonde’s friends’ table with a tray held in both hands. She was making good time, before she began to wobble a bit.

Right as she was about to keel over, Naruto was already stabilizing her, before anyone knew.

“Come on Derpy, no need to rush over. I’ve already got most of the tables set, so you can take it easy.” She gave an appreciative, close-eyed smile, before more slowly coming over to set the group’s food at the table.

Checking to see if they needed anything else, she was off. The blonde following her with his eyes for a moment, turned back to the table, and flinched.

He could see Twilight and Spike looking at their food, before digging in, but Shining’s smirk and Cadance’s huge grin were all he knew he’d need for a rough night.

“So~?” Cadance’s sing-song question was only the beginning.

~TCL~

“Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Bwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!”

The changeling was doing his best to pat the stallion on the back, as he looked to the others with a betrayed expression. His own group simply looked elsewhere, some had the gaul to whistle innocently! The traitors.

Derpy was giving him a carefree smile, as if nothing was wrong in the world, which only caused him to groan.

She was lucky, she was cute.

...Wait.

Before he could delve further into that thought, the boss left him to his friends. Right as he did though, the group of six were interrupted by the arrival of a trio.

“Sister!/Sis!/Baby girl!”

In came the trio of Amethyst Star, Dinky Doo and Rolling Barrel, who looked on in confusion as they saw the familiar group. More surprisingly was when they saw Naruto dressed up, the same as Derpy.

“You guys?” Derpy was surprised to see them all there, since she’d usually just walk home by herself afterwards.
______________________________________________________________________________

The groups interacted some, as they mulled about the front of the eating place.

“I didn’t think you’d end up working here, what happened?” Rolling asked, to which his daughter gave a brief explanation to the events leading up to the current situation.

“Naruto I didn’t know you worked here? At least you never said it earlier,” Amethyst stated, to which the blonde just scratched the back of his noggin.

“It’s not like I planned for this to happen. Besides, I was just helping out, no more, no less.” he replied, though she looked unconvinced.

“See, I told she’d have no problem with you!” Dinky exclaimed as she and Spike came up to his side, the drake was giving him a thumbs up, which only caused Naruto to sweatdrop.

“Naruto, sometimes you make me wonder what you actually got up to, all day on your own.” The blonde let out a waterfall of tears.

It wasn’t his fault! Stuff like this, just seemed to happen! Damn his luck!

“He’s been a big help though! We’d never have gotten things under control, if he wasn’t here, please don’t be mad.” In came Derpy with the save.

“Oh we’re sure, Naruto’s in no trouble at all. I’m sorry, we’ve never met, I’m Cadance.” the hidden alicorn, smiled a hungry smile, as she switched her gaze from Naruto to the eyepatch wearing mare. The mare in uniform, being none the wiser, simply accepted the greetings with her own.

“Hiya! I’m Derpy Hooves, nice to meet you!” She gave a closed-eyed smile, ever ignorant to the thoughts probably running around in the pink mare’s head. Twilight merely spoke to Derpy’s sister in the background, throwing the pink unicorn for a loop with all her talk of magic.

“Oh that’s a nice name, so how’d you and my friend here meet, hmm?”

That was his queue to speed this up, before Cadance did something irreversible.

“Oh would you look at the time, we should be going, don’t you think?!” He stated quickly, causing Rolling barrel to pull out and check his pocketwatch.

“You know what? He’s right. Come on girls, we have to get home, before baby girl is too tired to be up in the morning,” the elder, tan colored stallion stated, as he ran a hand through the mane of his youngest, causing the filly to smile.

Cadance pouted at this, as Shining assuaged her. Naruto was just happy to have called it, before Cadance could try and instigate something.

“It’s most efficient to have at least 6 hours of sleep, while 8 hours is the most recommended for optimal working status in the mornings.” Twilight spouted, causing the blonde pegasus to look down at her with her one visible eye, before she just nodded absently. Naruto took mercy on the worker, and gently pushed her to her family.

Right as he was though the manager had come out with a pair of jars, filled with bits. One seemed to be filled to the brim, while the other was a third of the way there.

Looking around, his eyes lit up, as he found his two employees.

“Derpy, Naruto! I’m so glad I could find you! Here!” He shoved the jars in each of the hands, Naruto’s being the fuller one. “You guys forgot your tips! G’night!”

They watched as the stallion went back inside the eatery, and heard the door lock. Looking down into their arms, they looked back to one another, before Derpy smiled. Jostling her jar, she couldn’t help but look at Naruto’s in mock envy.

“You’re so lucky! I wish I could make copies of myself! Then I could get so much done! Get more tips, some school work and more muffins!” She actually began to drool a little bit at the last one, causing him to snicker slightly, before he look down at his jar.

The next moment, found Derpy holding onto a heavier jar than her own. She looked down at the jar filled to the brim with bits, before looking over to Naruto holding her jar. She blinked once in confusion, before the blonde simply grinned, before walking over to Rolling barrel and putting the other one in Rolling’s arms, though not before taking a few out.

All said and done, most were looking wide eyed at the sunny haired blonde, while trying to figure out what was going on.

Flipping a bit, he simply walked on over to his own group, with a comment.

“Come on guys, I’m tired, and want to get some sleep. Spike the next two days are going to be full of ice cream!” Spike and Twilight followed in excitement and confusion, respectively. Shining and Cadance looked on for a moment, before the unicorn grinned a boyish grin and walked after them, with a mutter.

“Way to steal the show man. Just know, Cadance is just going to make this a prime example.”

Cadance stood there for a moment, before she had the biggest grin know to equine kind.

‘Oh ho, ho! The development is nigh!’

She waved back at the family, before running after her group.

Naruto made one last comment, before he left. Turning back to grin at them.

“Don’t spend it all in one place! Later!” With a wave he disappeared from their sights, with the unicorn and hidden alicorn couple, disappearing after him.

Rolling looked down at the jar for a moment, before he chuckled and looked at his eldest. Seeing the dazed look in her eyes, and slightly flushed cheeks, he just grinned discretely.

“Come on along baby girl, no need to keep looking at your prince charming. Time to put these into your fund, no?” He said with a sly smile, causing Derpy to jump up with a horrible blush.

“I-it’s not what you think! Don’t make jokes like that!”

~TCL~

“So Naruto~”

“Cadance, don’t do this.”

“But it was so cute!”

“Don’t make it weird please! I already knew she was cute! Wait! I mean-”

“Ah ha!”

~TCL~

That Friday had been spent, relatively, normally. No giant mishaps with a buggy blonde, weird interventions by the gods above to make the blonde suffer, and no cute ditzy mares to distract him….sadly.

As far as that day went, the only thing of true relevance that happened was Twilight needing to go and send a letter to Celestia, via Spike, while Naruto and the duo of children went to go get ice cream.

They’d gone to the Fashion show for a bit, but decided to only stay half as long.

The rest of the day was spent in an arcade, where Shining decided that he’d own the blonde in the medium of video combat. Naruto had thought it would be easy. It’s not like he was unused to fighting, just apply it to the games, right?

He was defeated ten times by Shining, and once by Spike, much to the young dragon’s pride. Twilight he found out, was just as inept at games as he was, so he wasn't alone in that regard.

Yet, Cadance had apparently sucked at every game they came across, save for DDR.

Now Naruto wasn’t really a dancer. He’d take being a guy who’d rock out with music, if he had to, but he was pretty sure that Cadance had flat out destroyed any able bodied race in the damn ARCADE!

His day ended on that note, once they had to run away from the arcade.

Due to Cady’s new cult.

~TCL~

Saturday

That last day, they’d decided to forgo all notion of even going to the show, and chose to have a big day at the park.

He could feel the breeze of the park air, as he sat with his back to the tree. The feel of the blanket underneath him was okay, even if he enjoyed the grass more. Currently the form of Twilight was laying down on the blanket, chewing on a daisy sandwich, while she looked at one of her newly purchased books.

Every other moment, he could hear her muttering things like, “Interesting,” “Moondancer can use this” and “Trixie better actually be studying.” He was happy to know that she had kept to actually interacting with others, though he was pretty sure that more likely than not, it was because of Trixie’s more outgoing nature.

That and the azure filly’s habit of trying to one-up Twilight. Combine that, with her ability of being able to get under her skin, and Twilight couldn’t ignore her. With Trixie being her abrasive friend, Moondancer was company she seeked to help even her out, since they were similar in nature.

Spike finished off their little quartet, as the voice of reason alongside Moondancer, as well as the small bit of snark the drake had been developing as of late.

Naruto and Shining would forever blame that development on the drake’s new reading spree into things other than comic books.

What was it? Destiny/Stuck Daylight? Or something like that.

He’d even heard that the group was growing, due to the addition of three other fillies from the school. Minuette, Twinkleshine and Lemon Hearts, if he was remembering right.

Good for the lavender filly.

Looking over at the spread, he picked up a sub filled with fake meat and brought it to his jaw, enjoying it immensely. He’d come to have a good taste for the stuff now, such that he knew Canterlot had the best fake meat, with places like Trottingham having the most gamey, while Manehattan’s was more flavorful, and spicy.

He could hear Spike chuckling in the curl of his, once more, draconic looking tail again. Looking to his right, the drake was reading through a comic book. The drake was laying on the blonde’s curled up tail like it was a bean bag, though the drake just seemed to have a preference to the blonde’s tail for reasons that they attributed to his draconic heritage.

Looking back over to his front, he looked around and saw that Cadence and Shining were currently still walking around the park, holding hands as they walked and talked.

He was perfectly willing to let this stay as the way their day would end, but the universe had other plans.

“Naruto?” he heard the familiar voice of a certain pegasus mare.

Looking down the pathway from the entrance into the park, he could see Derpy, holding the hand of Dinky as they moved the way down.

Seeing the duo coming his way, he used his left hand, which didn’t have a sandwich in it, to wave them over.

Dinky was quick to catch Spike’s attention, as the filly grabbed his hand and lead him off.

“Wait Dinky, my comic!”

“Come on Spike, let’s go on the slide!”

Twilight seeing the two run off, let out a sigh, before getting up.

“I’ll keep an eye on them.” With that she was gone, though her book was still in hand as she went after the two children, leaving the teen teens alone.

Looking around nervously, for reasons they both didn’t understand, the blonde changeling scratched his head and seemingly looked everywhere but at Derpy, while the pegasus was shuffling in place, and repeatedly straightening out the crease in her jacket.

Catching onto the movement, he actually took in the form of Derpy, as she fidgeted in place. Her hair was kept in its usual style, as was the white medical eyepatch she had in place.

That in itself, wasn’t weird or different, it was fine as it was. It was her clothes, that had changed.

Naruto was used to seeing her in just her uniform. Whenever they interacted, that is all of the two times they’d met, she was always in uniform and that was kind of his memory of her.

Now? She was wearing a red, light, short-sleeved jacket, over a white spaghetti string top, that cut off just a bit above her belly button. On her bottom half, she wore a pair of dark pants, that came to her shins.

Needless to say, the blond found his tongue tied at how good she looked outside of uniform. Which only made him focus back on how good, now that he thought about it, she looked in uniform.

‘Stri-No! Focus brain! Don’t fail me right now!’

“Uh, um, want to sit down?” he flubbed out, causing her to look at him for a moment, before she nodded.

Mindlessly patting the area next to him, as he moved over a bit. Once she was seated, he looked at the spread around them, before offering something.

“So, you want something, or maybe something to drink? Or maybe you ate already?”

Why was he tripping up, all of a sudden?!

She shook her head in the negative for a moment, before thinking of it.

“Oh, well, my dad and Amethyst are gonna be here soon. We were planning on spending this day together, since it’s my other day off,” she said, pushing a flick of her hair behind her ear.

Neither of the two of them noticed a certain pair of an alicorn and unicorn hiding in the bushes some distance away. Neither did they notice the sets of eyes popping out of the bushes to watch them.

“Really? Huh, small world.” he said, as they looked out into the park. Naruto could see far over into the distance, as he looked past the top of the trees to the large building with the awfully realistic look horse head on it.

Huh, well what do you know.

They stayed silent as they sat there, minds trying to spark up some kind of conversation.

“...”

“...”

“...So Mondomezza?” he started, causing her to pout at him, even as he smirked slyly.

“No, no, I don’t mean ‘Mondo-Naruto,’ snrk.” He laughed. “I mean, I never did get any real recommendations of adventure books. I’m definitely looking forward to some, once I leave later today.” She froze at this, causing him to look at her with a confused frown.

“...Derpy?”

“...You’re leaving?” She turned to him with a sad frown, that caused his heart to lurch slightly, causing him to look away.

“Yeah. I don’t actually live in Manehattan, I’m actually from Canterlot.” This caused her eye to widen. He nodded his head at this reaction.

“You’re from Canterlot? That’s like the best place to live, in all of Equestria!” she said, causing him to laugh.

“Not even close! It may be nice, but most of the ponies there suck. A lot of them seem to have poles shoved right where the sun don’t shine, and aren’t even fun to be around. There’s this one pony, Blueblood, whose royalty and I swear to all that is sweet and noodle shaped that that pony is more interested with his reflection in the floor than anybody he talks to.”

She laughed at this, and he smiled as she did. She had a good laugh, a sad smile wasn’t suited for a cute mare...whatever, not like it wasn’t true.

Her laughter died down, as she felt her mood fall again.

He was leaving. Well he didn’t live here, so it made sense, but it bothered her more than she wanted to admit. Why though?

Shaking her head, she spoke up.

“Well Mr. Canterlot, the best adventure books are by Counting Pens, Neutral Story and Right Prose. They make some of the greatest books known to ponykind. I’d recommend Daring Do, but I don’t really like her stories, I’m not much for stories that revolve around so many temples.” So to keep her mind off things, she talked, and he listened.

They went back and forth about what they liked in stories, characters and the like.

So into their conversation, they never saw Derpy’s father coming up with her sister, the stallion carrying a basket. Neither noticed, when a bush seemed to jump in shock, before glowing and engulfing the duo of father and daughter either.

When they came off the topic of books, they simply laid back, and looked at the afternoon sun.

“So you’re going to leave today?” he simply nodded.

“I’m part of the Royal Guard trainees, I was just off this week, and got carried into going to this fashion schtick. Luckily, we didn’t even go to most of the Fashion Week line up.” She blinked again.

“Royal Guard?” He nodded, causing her to blink again before her eyes twisted.

“Yeah, I joined them a year ago, and well, things have been pretty good. We’re going to be going into a few more training sessions in the following months, before we start moving about the continent, for like, guarding assignments.” She let out a small sound of sadness.

“So you’re never coming back?” This caught both of them by surprise, both of them not expecting that question. Naruto, because her asking it made him feel a way, and Derpy because she didn’t want to voice the question, for some reason.

More likely because of the answer that would be attached.

The blonde male of the two mulled over the answer to that question, for a bit.

“Not for a while no. I won’t be off until a good bit from now. Three months at a minimum, and that’s not even considering how long it takes to get here, and come back to Canterlot. Not all my off times will be even in Canterlot. So I’m being generous saying three months.” she deflated at the response, even though she was expecting it-

“-But that doesn’t mean I won’t try,” he finished, giving her shoulder a bump with his own. She blinked at him for a moment, before tilting her head.

He smiled at her, before pulling out a piece of paper from a stray notebook, with a drawing of a black and yellow moose-bug, and using a stray pen to write something down in it.

“Here, while we’re not near each other, no one says you can’t mail each other. If you ever just feel like talking, write it down, and I’ll be sure to read and write back.” He handed her the paper, and she looked at it with a loopy smile.

Taking another look at the paper, she tore off half the page, and borrowed the pen and reciprocated. He took it with a blink, before looking over at her.

“You can do the same! Whenever you want to talk, I’ll be sure to listen,” she said, with a wide smile, which he reciprocated with a grin.

They looked at one another and blinked, seemingly drawn closer. Gold eyes to sapphire blue.

Neither aware of the quartet in the bushes, who held their breaths. Cadance was beside herself with joy, Shining was chewing his fingernails, Rolling was chugging a beer and Amethyst just watched the interaction with a close eye.

Call it her third sense, but she had a feeling that something was gonna pop up, right about....Now.

“Derpy!” A call of a familiar, unfamiliar voice, snapped the blonde and his compatriot from their staring contest, to look to see Golden Harvest running up to them.

“I’m so glad I made it! Your dad invited me, and I couldn- why are your faces so red and blue?” the ginger started, before interrupting her explanation with a question.

The two blonde teens merely looked away from one another, Naruto with a hand to his burning head, while Derpy simply gave look to the blanket in confusion.

‘What was about to happen?’ Came the thoughts of two horribly embarrassed teenagers.

Cadance lost it.

“YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!”

~TCL~

That night, two groups were putting themselves to sleep. One on a train, and the other in a home.

Yet, of both those groups, a blonde was currently smiling as they held onto a piece of paper.

A paper that represented a connection between them.

~TCL~

Oh Sweet mercy, this took too LONG to WRITE!

Next chapter:

-Expect more involvement with the Royal Guard Corps, and we can also finally finish up this romance, before getting to the finale in the fifth chapter!

-Naruto finally gets to interact with another changeling, who’s going to create a path for this story I WON’T be taking, because this thing is NOT supposed to take that long.

-Fun times.

I could easily make this into two chapters alone, since it almost THIRTY THOUSAND WORDS, with the omake included.

Oh my God.

If anyone is trying to find out how I view the characters as draw in my written stories, look up ss2sonic for my anthropomorphic needs, and for any human ones look up uotapo. These two are some awesome artists, though ss2sonic kind of overemphasizes the female form, scale them down a bit, and that’s how I like viewing my characters in these stories and others.

So if you’re ever wondering what this would look like in animation, use those two for bases.

You will NOT be disappointed.

Not gonna put too much here, just know that I wanted this done by this past Saturday, and it got bloated beyond words.

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