• Published 2nd May 2016
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The Last Impressionist - CrackedInkWell



On the way home one night, Fancy Pants discovers a painting of extraordinary quality being thrown away in the trash in the poorer part of Canterlot. Curious, Fancy discovers a depressed artist who's down on his luck named Acrylic Brush.

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Chapter 12: The Picnic Behind Sunlight Falls.

“Everything’s packed Sir,” Gustav said as he levitated over my hat. “Although, I’m still wondering who are you expecting to have lunch with?”

“Well, not to give too much away,” I smirked, “Let’s just say that I’m going on a date for the afternoon.”

“Oh?” my butler blinked, “Is that so? How come I haven’t been informed?”

“Because I’m not exactly sure how solid it will be. Consider it a test run to see if there’s any promise.”

“Mare or stallion, sir?”

“No Gustav, until I’m sure of it, I promise that I will let you in on it. In the meantime, make sure Mr. Brush’s paintings are kept under lock and key until I come back since he’s relying on me to take care of the finances of his art and what not.”

“Very good sir, anything else?” he asked.

“I will return for dinner, the same time as usual. Tonight I’m in the mood for some soup with noodles in it.”

“I’ll make sure to tell the kitchen staff about it.”

“One more thing, is Mr. Brush ready to go yet?”

“At this moment he should have the basket loaded into the taxi with your bodyguard.”

“Thank you, Gustav, that will be all for now and I’ll see you later this evening.” I turned to the door to where I found Fleur and Acrylic waiting for me along with our lunch in the back of the carriage. For the afternoon, I had encouraged the Artist to go without his uniform and instead I let him borrow one of my suits. I must confess, the chap looks much more of a Gentelcolt in that his mane has been brushed, and the white shirt, silkily blue waistcoat and black suit complimented his colors. Besides, he told me that he didn’t own any other clothing except for his uniform. Overall, he does seem rather… handsome.

I also confess that this is would be my real date in several months – even longer than it’s with a stallion. Probably goes without saying that I was curious, nervous and excited at the same time. It’s been a while since I’ve had some fun outside of my job.

The ride to our destination has been a quiet one, but after we reached outside of the city’s limits and into the mountainous countryside, our driver dropped us off at the entrance of Sunlight Falls National Park. The place is known for the magnificent waterfall with its many caves behind it that gives a view of Equestria below.

“So…” Acrylic started as he placed the basket on his back, “Is Fleur coming along with us or…?”

“Well, yes and no.” She replied, “With this kind of protocol, I’m required to still observe you but at a distance and out of sight. So is it to give you both some space while still maintaining your security. Fancy, you know where you’ll be going to, don’t you?”

“Of course Fleur,” I said, “it was at the same place as before.”

She smiled, “In that case, I’ll be taking these,” she pulled out a pair of binoculars and let it hung from her neck. “Have fun you two,” then the mare entered into the park into the path with the most bushes.

One she and the cab driver were out of sight, it now left me alone with Mr. Brush. His ears were folded back, “I say, is something wrong?”

“Uh… no sir,” he said softly.

“You look worried.”

“Well…” he rubbed the back of his neck, “The thing is… This is actually my first date with anypony. I… I don’t really know what to do at this point.”

I trotted over beside him, “Believe it or not, the art of dating isn’t that complicated. Don’t try to pretend to be anyone else but Acrylic Brush; because that’s the one I came to be with. Please remember, you’re not here as hoofcolt, nor are you here as an Artist, but rather you’re here to let me get to know who you are as a pony. Let’s try to enjoy ourselves at this lovely place and have a quiet lunch. Do you think you can manage that?” He gave a hesitant nod, “Wonderful, now please close by, I know a wonderful spot that very few ponies know.”

Down a rocky path through bushes and trees, we pressed forward towards the falls. Sure there were tourists here and there that took pictures and enjoy the nature of the park. But unlike those tourists, I know a picnic spot that has been widely and sadly forgotten. A sharp turn down a narrow dirt path past bushes and boulders the sound of rushing water grew stronger with each step.

Then, around a corner, we had arrived. Before us is the cascading curtain of water that acts as a living window to Equestria. This spot is a naturally hollowed out pocket that at one point could hold at least thirty tourists. But now, this haven is our dining room.

“I believe this is a good spot, wouldn’t you say?” I asked when I turned to Mr. Brush who looked out in awe at the water.

“Are… are we really behind the falls?”

“Oh yes. I dare say that this is the most tranquil place in the world. Sure there isn’t much light except for the falls, but I think we could manage.”

“It’s beautiful.” He said, “How did you know this was here?”

“You can thank Father for that. When I was a colt, our family would go on holidays to where we tour the greatest marvels of Equestria, pony made or natural. My father took us to the park here in which he stumbled into a bush that leads down here. I don’t think that even the park’s rangers know that it exists, but I must say, they’re missing out. Now, time for lunch,” with that we began to unpack from the basket.

While I sorted out the food, Acrylic laid out the blanket, china, glasses, and silverware like he would set the table back home. He was about to pour the lemonade before I stopped him, “Wait, let me do that.” I took the flask into my magic and poured him a glass.

“It’s very weird when you’re the one that’s doing the serving,” he said as he took the glass.

“But you’re not on duty,” I pointed out, “We’re here on a date. So let’s get started,” I spread the food out while taking my seat. “To begin with, how are you today?”

After taking a sip from his glass he replied, “I think… a bit better than I was. I mean, you’ve pretty much pulled off the impossible.”

“Are you referring to getting commissions?”

“And that ponies actually want my paintings, yeah. I honestly thought that something like that won’t ever happen in my lifetime. Mr. Pants, I knew that you were kind but what you did yesterday was… incredible. There’s just no way I could repay for what you did.”

“I don’t expect you to do so anyway,” I said, unwrapping a plate of deviled eggs. “I couldn’t stand by letting your talent going unnoticed, and if I did it would be unforgivable. Nor could I let you think that you were nothing, for you really do deserve better than that.”

He looked away, and I think I could see him blush, “Forgive me, sir, I’m not exactly used to being so highly complimented.”

“That’s what I like about you, your humility is a breath of fresh air compared to my… oh no, let’s not talk about that.”

Acrylic tilted his head to the side, “About what?”

“I was going to compare you to my past dates, but I realized that it wouldn’t be proper.”

“With all due respect Mr. Pants, I didn’t exactly grow up being proper. But I am rather curious though. How many ponies have you’ve dated anyway?”

“Oh…” I crewed on an egg. “It rather depends on how much you want to hear.”

“I would like to know the truth,” he replied. “After all, until I’ve met you, I didn’t know that I wasn’t the only one that prefers my own gender so to speak.”

“Ah. Let’s see… Before I say anything, I should tell you here and now that everyone that I’ve been with didn’t last too long… About three weeks at most if not shorter, along with that I didn’t sleep with all of them. Got it?” he nodded. “The truth is, at this point in life, I have dated fourteen mares and ten stallions (you included). I confess that I have only got to bed with a few hoofful of them. Yet in the end, these relationships didn’t last very long.”

“How come?”

“Well… let’s just say that there’s a reason why I don’t bring alcohol on the first date, everything sounds good when drunk, but you quickly realize that it won’t work out once sober. Plus, do you recall Jet Set and Upper Crust? While they’re not very open-minded, they were right about one thing in their gossip, ‘All those ponies care for is his money.’ I’m sorry to say for most cases, that much is true. Which is another reason why I like you, is that you don’t see money as a factor, do you?”

He shrugged while putting down his glass and picking up a sandwich, “Why would I, especially now when ponies are willing to pay hundreds of thousands of bits of one of my paintings? After all, thanks to you, I think I’m on my way of making my fortune.”

I smiled, “You’re not rich yet Mr. Brush, after all, my mission with you is to get you back on your hooves. Once you required enough money to live comfortably, I will have no saying in where you’ll go afterward.”

“Truth is Fancy; I don’t really want to leave Canterlot, least of all away from you.” He bit into his sandwich, “Out of curiosity, what about Fleur? I know she’s your bodyguard, but did you…?”

Chuckling, I answered, “We have dated a few times, yes. But we found that we weren’t exactly meant to be. But I get it though; she follows me around so much in public that many ponies wonder if we’re still an item. Then again, for being an ex-Royal Guard, her looks can be deceiving. No, she and I have developed a friendship if anything else. So I completely where your line of thought comes from."

“But what about stallions,” he asked. “Is there anything like that from anypony you’ve dated?”

“Believe it or not, you’ve already met him the other day.”

“Who?”

“Hoity Toity. I confess, he was actually the first coltfriend I ever had after we graduated high school. Truth be told, it only lasted for a week because his life is a much quicker pace than mine. That and he prefers to have one night stands then be in a serious relationship. At least I can be thankful we broke it off on good terms, I mean we still talk now and again to see how the other is doing.

“But what about you,” I asked, “I know this is your first date, but have you had any crushes on anypony besides me?”

Blushing, he nodded, “In a way, yes. In my town, I realized that I was different when I… happen to notice that one of my friends was much more… attractive than others.”

“Oh?” I leaned forward, resting my foreleg to prop me up, “What about it?”

“Can I be honest with you?” I nodded, “In our town, we celebrate New Year with an outdoor festival that goes on all night. Well, we have a tradition there that if you kiss the one you really like during the festival, you’ll be blessed with good fortune for a whole year. Well, I was with my friends when a mare, whose name I can’t remember now, came right up to me and asked if she would kiss me. As you can imagine, my drunken friends practically chanted letting it happen. So giving into peer-pressure, I told her to go ahead. And… I felt nothing. There were no spark or whatever, just an awkward, weird and uncomfortable few seconds before she pulled away.

“After that, I spent the rest of the night with a friend of mine, Charcoal. Now, I don’t think he was into me, but I was to him. I remembered that he was a nice guy who looked great and was one of the few that kinda think I had a gift with my art. Well, on that night, he was so drunk that he passed out in the forest. While he was sleeping it off, I had this thought: If a mare didn’t do anything, what would happen if I kissed a stallion? It would be a quick thing, nopony was around, and I was just… curious overall.”

“So I’m guessing that you kissed him while he was asleep.”

“It was the only safe way to do it. And when I did… all I could feel was this warmth. I-I don’t know if there’s any better way to describing it, but when I kissed him, I felt safe, like I could really remain there for all eternity. So when I pulled away, it was then I knew how different I really was.”

“Did he ever find out about it?”

He shook his head, “I doubt he ever did. When he woke up the next morning, he told me he couldn’t remember anything from that night except drinking. I think I’ve told you that having such a kind of relationship was taboo, didn’t I?”

“I think you did mention something like that. Now, be honest with me for a moment, do you feel that way towards me – about feeling safe and all?”

“Well… when you’ve been nothing but kind to me, I feel like I have somepony that I could trust, you know? Someone who doesn’t see me as a pest but as a pony that isn’t all that stupid. That saw this broken machine and is doing all he can to fix it. The truth is Mr. Pants, I don’t want to leave serving in your house, but now I’m a little worried.”

“About what?”

“Think about it, don’t you think that if anypony from downstairs found out that I’m dating the master of the house that they would be jealous towards me? After all, I don’t work as hard as them, and they’re wondering if I’m getting special treatment. After all, I’m only Second hoofcolt in the scheme of things.”

I hummed as I moved onto the sandwiches, “Yes… I do see your point. It would be rather unfair. But then again… you are still a hard worker, so maybe… Acrylic, how would you feel if you got a promotion?”

He blinked, “Promoted to what exactly?”

“I was thinking to take on the role as Valet, which is only one rank underneath a butler. Duties involve would include doing personal services such as maintaining my clothes, running baths, and take care of personal items. Of course, you will still carry out the duties of a hoofcolt, but the difference is that you won’t have answer to Gustav but to me. I haven’t had one in a long while, and it would give you plenty of time doing your commissions as well.”

“But isn’t that what I’ve been talking about,” Acrylic questioned. “Isn’t this still special treatment?”

“Not if you have provided the skills to suggest you can take on this job. On the upside, you can have the opportunity to spend more time with me if you wanted to. Plus, if I could hire a new hoofcolt, you wouldn’t have to weigh tables unless I’m hosting a large number of guests.”

Mr. Brush put a hoof underneath his chin, “That… that could work. But would you be okay carrying this out?”

“I wouldn’t mind. After all, you fancy me (pardon the pun) and I’m interested in getting to know you. Of course, such a change won’t happen right away; perhaps I should wait about a week or so until that plan is carried out.”

Acrylic smiled, “I won’t be going anywhere, so I think I would gladly agree to it.”

“Well then,” I smiled also. “I think I would be looking forward to it as well. Besides, having such a handsome Valet by my side is quite a plus.”

“You really think I’m handsome?” he laughed, “That’s a new one.”

“If I were you, I better get used to it. Besides, that green uniform was becoming unfit for you anyway.”

“Well… thank you, sir,” Acrylic picked up a few potato chips. “I know it’s a little early to ask this but, do you think we could do this again soon?”

“It’s promising so far, I can tell you that,” I picked up my glass, “However, I do say that it is a start.”

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