• Published 26th Nov 2011
  • 26,665 Views, 526 Comments

Redemption - PourMeADrink

At the end of his life, Ryan Williams stumbles across something to live for.

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Chapter the Second

To say that the last five weeks had been a series of shocks for Ryan is an understatement.

Getting the two back home had been relatively easy. Far easier than it had any right being, in his opinion. They had slumbered quietly in his arms, snug in the warm lining of his jacket as he had made his way back to his pickup. True, they had fussed a little when he had started it up, casting fearful looks from those amazingly colored eyes at the sound and rumble of the engine as they lay across his lap, but after only a couple of minutes of reassuring talk and soothing pets they had eventually quieted.

Parking in the neat gravel sprawl of his front yard and taking them up again, fumbling a little with the door knob, he had finally entered the house proper, depositing them gently onto his couch. Walking over and flicking on the lights in the large living room he had been amused to see them sitting up in the shell of his coat and looking around with wide eyes at the big space.

The house was something of an anomaly itself. Originally a cabin belonging to his great grandfather, Ryan’s grandfather had used his not inconsiderable success in the ranching business to expand and upgrade the place. The original log structure had been integrated into the central area of the dwelling, forming the walls of the living room, study and dining room. Growing from that, a large kitchen had been added. Stairs had been installed where one of the original two bedrooms had been, giving access to a large second story housing an expansive master bedroom, two substantial guest rooms, and large combination sitting room and library. It had become an interesting blend of contemporary rustic and sleek modern architecture that echoed with childhood memories.

Returning and taking a seat next to them, they had immediately begun to huddle against him again. After a while the larger one, which he had in his mind begun to call Whitey, had disengaged, and, taking a cautious leap to the floor, had started to carefully explore her new surroundings. The smaller one, which he had mentally dubbed Blackey, had remained leaning into his side, his arm encircling her as she watched from the safety of the couch.

It was at this time in the clean, bright light of the overhead ceiling fans that he had experienced the first of what will turn out to be many blows to his mental well-being. He could make out with greater clarity the two odd lumps on her sides, and they looked for all the world like small birds wings. Squinting, a look of incredulity painting his features, he watched her nose around, growing bolder as she, and what looked an awful lot like feathered appendages, continued to investigate the room.

Unable to come fully to terms with what his eyes were showing him he had looked down at Blackey, still leaning against his side, and had seen the same thing in smaller scale. Moving his hand up slightly, he gingerly brushed the midnight blue wings that sat folded at her sides, causing her to start slightly and glance at him before returning her gaze to her wayward companion. Their texture was the smooth, silky firmness of swans’ feathers, and she shifted them slightly as he watched, giving them a small flutter. Giving him a parting nuzzle, she had jumped down and joined Whitey in investigating the leather recliner parked at the other side of the room.

Feeling as if he’d just been dropped from a height squarely onto his ass, Ryan had watched the two foals, his mouth falling open as Blackey had jumped up onto the chair, causing it to rock slightly.

Pegasus. Or is it Pegasi? Pegasus’s? He had found his mind throwing up inane questions as he tried to comprehend the enormity of what was now playing cheerfully around his Lazy Boy. Twin creatures of myth, beings that by all rights should not exist in this world, and they were beginning to run around his expensive brown leather recliner.

Reeling, he began to pay attention to the sounds the two were making as they played. It took him perhaps a few moments longer then it should have to identify, but it eventually dawned on him that as the two began to chase each other around the base of the chair, that they were giggling. Giggling. Like small children. There were two Pegasi angling away from the Lazy Boy and chasing each other across his living room rug and they were giggling.

Absurdity piled on top of ridiculousness in his mind, and feeling a little like giggling himself, Ryan had suddenly risen from the couch, not entirely certain what he was doing but feeling overwhelmed by the urge to move. To just turn his back on this whole impossible situation. This could not actually be happening, it could not be, and he had began to wonder if maybe he hadn’t pulled the trigger after all, and now he was in some sort of coma with a slug in his brain. It was at that moment that his treacherous knee had begun to buckle, no doubt trying to gain some measure of revenge for the treatment it had had to endure recently, and he stumbled forward, turning slightly and spilling onto the hardwood floor on his side. A large whoof like noise flew from his lips as the wind was partially knocked out of him.

Rolling onto his back he had heard the two fillies running towards him, still giggling as they began to jump on and over his body, playfully chasing each other around his sprawled form. Staring at the ceiling and giving the occasional grunt when a hoof thudded into his chest or stomach, he grappled with what was happening. It was like a badly written fantasy novel, he thought disjointedly. One of those cheesy ones with a cringe worthy title and battered cover that you find at discount book stores for a dollar, stuffed on a shelf in the back where it always smells uncomfortably of mold and feet. Pegasus in the Parlor, or maybe Horse Feathers on the Hearth. Ryan coughed out a rusty chuckle, wincing as a leg connected solidly with his ribs.

After what felt like hours but wasn’t, his mind had began to settle, his tumultuous thoughts finally ordering themselves into a semblance of calm. He was pretty certain that this wasn’t a coma dream, and as the possibility had firmly left his mind the reality of what he was experiencing began to sink in. It was impossible, absolutely ludicrous, but it was real. He had found his memory flashing back randomly to something he read once. A quote written at the beginning of a particularly good piece of fiction; sometimes, you just have to bow to the absurd.

Lifting his head, he looked at the two amazing foals that were rolling around on his legs and began to smile, managing an awkward bow of his head to them. The situation defied all logic, flew in the face of all reason, but he could not deny its reality. Hell it was right there, tumbling off of his lower legs and playing by his right knee. He didn’t understand it, nor could he fathom how it could possibly be, but it was. As his disbelief began to be replaced with a deep and almost childlike wonder, he realized that for now, it was enough for him.

Rising and talking encouragingly to the pair he had led them slowly towards the kitchen, hoping that he might have something in the fridge to feed them.

The strange marks on their flanks had begun to come in a couple of weeks later, starting out as oddly shaped patches of discolored fur. They had worried him initially, but when it became apparent that the two were otherwise alright he had just chalked it up to the strangeness of the whole situation.

Taken in context with the wings and small bumps of horn he had later found growing through their manes from the center of their foreheads, the off color splotches on their coats were just another oddity. He had turned to the internet for information on what they might be, but had found depressingly little. They were, as far as he could tell, a type of mythological creature called an Alicorn; a combination of pegasus and unicorn. The small amount of reliable information he had been able to glean hadn’t had much meat to it, giving a name and brief description before going on at length about the probable connection between the unicorn myth and narwhals.

Those two weeks had been eventful, and the more time he spent around the two fillies the more he was becoming convinced that they weren’t just amazing animals. They had an intense curiosity about them, watching every move, action and response with wide interested gazes. While it was true that his last cat had behaved the same way, he couldn’t shake the feeling that there was more going on behind those strangely colored eyes.

They were becoming more vocal for one, making a surprisingly diverse array of sounds that coincided with what they were doing and feeling; laughing at play, whimpering cries when frightened, small happy sounds when they got a treat or snuggled with him on the couch. At the end of the third week Whitey had startled him by copying his head movement as he was feeding them.

He had been preparing a soup as the late October wind rattled the window screens, seeming to compete with the light jazz that drifted lazily from the living room. He had been slipping them small bits of carrot as he chopped vegetables. The two were sitting at his feet by the stove, their wide eyes above their incredibly expressive faces betraying a hopeful eagerness.

He had found himself talking to them more and more, and as he grabbed another carrot slice he had looked at Whitey.

“Does someone want another one? Hmm?” he had asked, holding the orange vegetable in his hand. She had looked from his hand to his face, fidgeting a little bit as he crouched down.

Nodding his head in the affirmative as he spoke, using that tone people always seem to adopt when confronted with baby animals, “You want another one, yeah?”

Whitey had blinked, hesitated a moment, and then given three large, exaggerated nods, her eyes locking onto his hand. Stunned, he had looked down at her, his brow furrowing, and repeated the question. Receiving the same three nods, and feeling a little like he had been hit in the stomach, he had given her the carrot, watching as she chewed happily. The sound of boiling soup came to him from the stove top but he ignored it, instead reaching from his crouch to grab another slice.

“Blackey do you want another carrot?” He had asked slowly, nodding his head. Whitey began to copy him again, but he watched her smaller, darker companion. Blackey looked at him, at the morsel in his hand, and then at the still nodding Whitey before giving her own head a tentative bob, her teal eyes returning to his face. Feeding it to her, he rose and stood looking down at the pair, feeling uncertain and out of his depth.

That had been a couple of weeks ago, and now as they stand once again on the clean white tiles of his kitchen, the strong afternoon sunlight filling the room with a warm reflected glow, he has just had any remaining doubts about their intelligence thoroughly put to rest.

It was a quiet Friday afternoon, and the pair of fillies were fresh from their bath, coats still slightly damp despite his vigorous toweling. He had expected them to give more of a fuss when he started the weekly routine, but after some initial fright at the sound of the faucet and some cautious investigation when he had placed them into the shallow water, they had taken to it with surprising alacrity, splashing and giggling while he washed them.

After their bath they would get a treat in the kitchen. Last week they had split a Twinkie, Ryan taking care to only give them a small amount each. Before that it was oatmeal raisin cookies. Today was a store bought cupcake, pink frosting topping chocolate breading.

“Blackey, do you want some more?” He asks, smiling as she bobs her head enthusiastically. Giving her a small amount of the sticky sweet confection he looks to the other, taking another pinch and holding it out where she can see it.

“Whitey, cupcake?” He asks the small filly smiling up at him.

Nodding enthusiastically, he sees her mouth begin to move in a curious way, muzzle wrinkling as her delicate lips begin to rise and fall oddly.

She seems to be struggling with something, and he looks down at her in confusion, frowning slightly.

“…Ca.” she responds hesitantly in a sweet, high pitched voice. “Ca…cu…

Eyes widening, Ryan gazes down at the small white foal, shock temporarily freezing him in place as a chill runs down his spine.

“Cupcake?” he asks in a raspy voice he doesn't recognize.

“Cupa…cuppah!” she squeals, bouncing on her front legs. “Cuppah! Cuppah!”

Stunned, he hands her the small chunk of cupcake. “Cupcake?” he repeats faintly.

Cuppah! Cuppah! Cuppah!

Feeling his legs begin to go weak he thumps down on the floor, taking slow, deep breaths and looking from the bouncing, squealing alabaster one to the nodding, smiling indigo one. He splits the remaining treat and feeds it to them both. The stunned feeling in his chest is being replaced by a slowly building sense of awe as the two begin to play, flopping happily onto his lap.

They are not smart animals. All of the odd behaviors and mannerisms since he found them begin to coalesce, fitting together to form an undeniable conclusion that his rattled mind tries sluggishly to process. They’re children, of a different species to be sure, but children just the same. Four legged, winged, horned children.

The full import of this revelation settles over him slowly, a feeling like being lowered head first into a vat of warm oil, and he successfully fights off a momentary bout of claustrophobic panic. What is he supposed to do? What does one do in a situation like this? Call the authorities? Tell a scientist? How is he even supposed to find a scientist, just start calling random universities? Take out an ad?

Watching the two with wide eyes, he finds as his thoughts begin to settle and his heart rate begins to slow, that his mind curiously shies away from the idea of turning them over to someone else. They’d be scared if they had to leave, and…he most likely wouldn’t get to see them again. They’d be gone forever, frightened and alone again. The thought brings with it an unexpected apprehension, followed by a surprisingly strong surge of protectiveness.

Taking a deep breath and holding it for a moment, he slowly shakes his head in the negative. He’s not sure if he’s ready for this, and in fact he’s pretty certain he isn’t, but ready or not it’s here anyway. Looking at the pair and feeling a goofy grin slowly split his face, he watches in amazement as they giggle and roll about, having their fun.

Lying in bed later that night and feeling the heat of the two miraculous foals as they sleep, one nestled into either side of him, he gazes up at the darkened ceiling, eyes lazily tracing the shifting quilt of shadows as he turns the events of the last five weeks over in his mind.

They had taken to sleeping with him every night now, and he had stopped bothering to make up a place for them on the floor after the fourth time he had awoken with a filly pressed to each side, hued manes falling across his upper arms as they slept with their heads on his chest.

As he blinks his eyes in the darkness he decides that he’s going to have to give them proper names. Simply calling them Whitey and Blackey won’t do, not any more. At the same time, he doesn’t think he can give them regular human names either. They’re not human, and naming them something like Cindy or Amy just doesn’t feel right to him.

He’s going to have to begin teaching them as well, and decides that tomorrow he’ll start researching how exactly one goes about homeschooling. He doesn’t know if they can be taught like regular children, or even how much they’re capable of learning, but he can’t leave them ignorant. Not when they’re clearly capable of more.

The fact that they are children still amazes him, and the responsibility it implies frightens him. He’s very thankful that, through the inheritance left to him by his grandfather and later his parents, he doesn’t have to worry about leaving them alone while he tends a regular nine to five. He’s under no illusion that working this out is going to be easy, far from it, but he is comforted by the thought that he can spend all of his time with them.

The darker one shifts slightly, legs twitching a little as she curls her head down so that it rests on his stomach, and he strokes her neck soothingly. Maybe this is his second chance, he thinks. Maybe being given charge of these two marvelous creatures is Gods way of letting him atone. Smiling gently, resolve fills him as his eyes continue to trace ephemeral patterns on the bedroom ceiling, the two Alicorn foals sleeping peacefully against him.

October 6th, 2014

“…and nobody knows, from her eyes to her ears, from her horn to her toes…” Ryan sings the nonsense song, grasping both of her front hooves in his hands.

“My don’t have toes Daddy!” Luna giggles as Ryan sits back.

“You don’t have any toes?” He exclaims, adopting a look of exaggerated surprise, “What happened to your toes Lunabelle? Tia, did you steal your sister’s toes?”

“No Daddy!” She squeals as Ryan starts to tickle her ribs.

It’s been an exhausting year for him, and he now understands the meaningful looks that parents get when they talk about having kids with people who don’t. Never before in his life has he been so worn, flustered and anxious for so long a stretch. It’s caused him to doubt his fitness for his assumed role more than once as he tries to keep up with them. Although to be fair, he’s pretty certain that the two fillies in his care are more energetic than the average human child.

Leaving her older sister in a giggling, fidgeting ball curled up in the corner of the couch, he lays a finger playfully on the younger filly’s nose. “So you don’t have any toes huh? Then what do you walk on Lunabelle?”

“My has hoofs!” Luna cries out, waving the appendages in question about in energetic circles as she leans back next to her sister.

“Why, so you do! Does sister have toes?”

“I have hooves too Daddy!” Tia sputters, still laughing as she uncurls.

He had deliberated for quite a while about their names, wanting to come up with something befitting two legendary creatures, but in the end they had named themselves. After her first words the patches on Tia’s flanks had begun to take on a more defined form. In another week he was looking at a blurry image of what could only be a wavy-rayed sun. The following week Luna's had started to clarify, the image of what was unmistakably a crescent moon becoming more distinct.

He knows that both the shape of the markings and their symmetrical nature should have elicited more of a surprised response, but by that time Luna had began to speak, joining her already talkative sister, and his reserves of incredulity had been pretty much depleted.

While Luna seemed like an obvious choice to him, Celestia’s name had required a bit more creative thinking. Originally he had been leaning towards Sola, due to the nature of her mark and its similar sound to Luna, but Sola had turned into Solest, and Solestia after that. After a couple of days, Solestia had started to sound like Celestia in his mind, and that’s what stuck. Their middle names had been much easier. His mother’s name had been Marie, and Callie’s mother had been Maybelle. And so it was that three weeks after what he has mentally termed The Great Cupcake Revelation, he had begun teaching them their proper names; Celestia Marie and Luna Maybelle, Williams.

“Daddy, why do we have to wait for tomorrow for it to be our birthday?”

“Because them's the rules sweetie.” He says, reaching out to ruffle Tia’s mane.

“But I don’t wanna wait that long.” A plaintive note entering her voice as she scrunches up her rose colored eyes.

“I know honey, but that’s just how it is. And whinnniinnggg,” he draws the word out, “doesn’t change anything.”

Sticking her bottom lip out a little in the start of an adorable pout, he takes a quick look at the wall clock. “I know it seems like a long time sweetheart, but I know what’ll make it go faster. Isn’t it time Bubble Puppies?”

“Bubble Puppies!” Both girls cry happily, looking up with excited smiles at the mention of their favorite show. Grabbing the remote off of the coffee table he flips the T.V. over to Nick Jr. just as the opening theme begins to play, cartoon dogs in improbable fishbowl helmets dancing their way across the screen.

Settling them in with a quick kiss each and a couple of juice boxes from the kitchen, he steps out onto the front porch to cage a smoke, keeping an eye on them through the screen door, a juice box of his own in one hand.

Ryan has no real way of knowing when their birthdays actually are, but for simplicities sake has decided that the day he found them works better than anything else he can think of. As to their ages, again he can’t really be sure, but given the surprising speed at which they had begun to pick up speaking and the like, he guesses that they were around two and four years old respectively. That makes them three and five come tomorrow, and as he takes a contemplative pull from his Marlboro he reviews his mental checklist for the party.

The gifts had arrived two weeks prior, causing him to praise the fact that he lives in the Age of the Internet, where almost anything can be purchased online and delivered right to your house (or front drive, in his case). He’s got the balloons, streamers and ice cream ready to go, and all he has to do is bake a cake tonight after they go to bed. They still sleep with him at night, so sliding out of bed unnoticed will be tricky.

Listening to the happy laughter coming from the couch as they sit entranced by the silly show, he butts his smoke in the dirt filled coffee can on the porch railing and reenters the house to take a seat between them, smiling as they excitedly tell him Grumpy Puppy’s latest misfortune, and the plan the other aquatic canines have for cheering him up. Leaning back with an arm around each of them, he watches the nonsense adventures on his television with a deep feeling of contentment.

The birthday had gone better than he had hoped for. After sneaking out from between the two slumbering foals, and then successfully back in a bleary three hours later, Ryan and the girls had awakened in the early October sunshine streaming through the blinds to the sounds of the late season blue jays flitting outside the bedroom window. Giving them both a kiss on the head and a Happy Birthday, they’d had breakfast, gotten cleaned up, and played for the rest of the morning. For lunch they had a picnic and tea party on the front porch, after which he had again settled them on the couch, snacks and drinks on the coffee table as they watched cartoons.

Making sure they were fully engaged in the animated antics, Ryan had slipped into the dining room to set up the cake and decorations. An hour later he had called them in, smiling hugely as they took in the balloons, streamers, and present laden table with wide, wondering eyes.

They had performed the traditional birthday rituals, Luna loudly insisting that she be allowed to blow the candles out one more time until he had passed out their presents. Insistence forgotten, they had both fallen to the task, holding each gift wrapped box between their front hooves as they energetically tore the paper off with their mouths. Picking out gifts for children that essentially don’t have hands had been something of a challenge, but the excited exclamations from the two confirmed that he had done a good job.

Amongst the assorted items they had each gotten a season of the Bubble Puppies, as well as some educational toys and warm clothes. The clothes weren’t designed for their form, but would do an adequate job, even if they hung oddly on their quadrupedal frames. Contrary to what many people thought the Nevada desert could and did get seriously cold during winter, especially in the mountains, and he couldn’t see keeping them swaddled in blankets again this year. At the very least, he could let them play in the snow for longer than a few moments without worrying about them catching a chill.

As the evening wound down the three played in the living room, romping and laughing as season one of everybody’s favorite underwater dogs played in the background. Eventually the two foals had fallen asleep on the couch, and he had tucked them into bed. As Ryan putters around the house cleaning up the aftermath that can only be left by a successful children’s party, he thinks to himself that it’s been worth it. All of the stress, worry, and exhaustion has been completely worth it. He has felt battered, he has felt frantic, he has felt buried and he has felt inadequate, but above all he realizes he has felt a deep and abiding contentment.

Wearing a tired smile as he stuffs the last of the discarded wrapping paper into the trash, he finally finishes and trudges up the stairs to their shared room, changing into his sleepwear before climbing in between the two slumbering fillies. As they begin unconsciously nestling into their familiar places against him, he lets out a satisfied sigh. For the first time since his wife passed, he’s happy again.

He’s happy.