• Published 28th Aug 2016
  • 8,063 Views, 237 Comments

Strange Gifts - Rocinante

Sometimes you're given what you wanted most, without ever knowing you wanted it.

  • ...


Having a painfully shy griffon in tow complicated my grocery trip more than a little. After a bit of trial and error, I discovered that if I let him ride piggy-back, he was content to bury his face in my shoulder and ignore the world around him.

My spa appointment went quite a bit better. The tranquil atmosphere settled well with him and he was more than happy to read the foals’ books in the waiting room.

After my usual session, Lotus surprised me. As I was paying my bill she handed me a little gift bag.

“What’s this?” I asked.

“A coat brush and preening oil, for your little one. He was very well mannered, he deserves a little gift.”

My little one? “He’s...” Looking to Lambert, his pelt was still pretty rough looking, and his wings seemed rather chewed on. “Thank you,” I said, deciding not to correct her.

When we got back to the house, I let Lambert hold the groceries while I unlocked the door. It almost felt practiced; I opened the door, and Lambert lugged the bags to the icebox. Perhaps it was deja vu from when I would go to the grocery store with Mom.

As I began sorting out the produce, I watched Lambert retreat into a corner and lie down. I could see the tension bleed out of him as fur and feathers eased to lie flat again.

By the time I’d put everything away, he’d fallen sound asleep.

Slipping outside, I did a bit of yard work till Thunderlane came over with the toys. By about the time I’d finished weeding the flowers, I heard the familiar thump of a landing pegasus behind me.

“I’d have been here sooner, but my little brother needed help with a school project,” he said around the bag held in his mouth.

“No problem, Lambert’s napping anyway. But I should probably wake him or he won't sleep tonight.”

- - -

Thunderlane became Lambert’s favorite pony after getting the toys. They were the all simple things, probably plucked from the one-bit bins at Barnyard Bargains, but Lambert loved them all the more.

Feeling like I owed Thunder a proper thank you, I invited him in to stay for dinner. Which kinda turned into a date. He kept me company in the kitchen while I cooked, and afterwards we all sat around the radio for a bit.

It was about halfway through the weekly Daring Do program when he finally worked up the nerve to lean into me. From what I gathered, that was pretty much their version of holding hands.

The long day had me in the mood to cuddle, so I leaned back into him. It didn’t hurt that the pegasus was a pillar of hard muscle. As much as I tried to push the thought away... he was pretty sexy. By the next commercial break, I had a wing draped across my back. It was nice actually, soft and warm. Lambert, for his part, seemed content to ignore us. The radio held his attention away from the cuddling adults.

When the program concluded, I forced myself to stand. “I think I’m going to read for a bit, then go to bed. Didn't sleep real well last night.”

Thunder nodded and stood, understanding that I was asking him to leave. “Yeah, I should probably head to bed too. I’m taking my little brother flying tomorrow; I’ll need the energy.”

Showing Thunder to the door, I followed him out onto the porch. Closing the door behind me, I gave us the illusion of privacy for a moment.

Thunderlane fidgeted a moment before looking up at me with a nervous smile. “Thank you for dinner. It was really good. See you Monday?”

Returning the smile, I brushed my hand across the top of his spiked mane. “Looking forward to it.”

An awkward moment hung for a moment, neither of us sure what to do.

“See you then,” he finally said before stepping off the porch and taking to the air.

Watching him disappear into the night, a lonely feeling washed over me. The wall I’d built around the idea of intimacy had cracked, and a part of me wanted to knock it the rest of they way down. The other half of me was desperately trying to patch the hole.

I started to call his name, knowing he’d be in earshot, but stopped myself. I was a grown woman, not a girl crushing on the neighbor boy.

Still, I had to smile knowing I’d see him again Monday night.

Back inside, I got comfortable with a book, occasionally half paying attention to Lambert scan the radio station in between doodling in a coloring book.

By the time my eyes started refusing to focus, I looked up to see Lambert’s head dip, then jerk back up.

Putting my book away, I walked over to Lambert. “I think it’s bedtime.”

“Okay...” There was sadness in his voice, but he tidied his toys before standing and walking over to the sofa.

I started to retrieve the blankets from the closet, but something seemed wrong about putting him on the couch again when I had a perfectly-good guest room upstairs.

“Let’s put you in a real bed,” I said, motioning for him to follow me up the stairs.

My guest room was small, but I was rather proud of it: Southern Homes and Gardens couldn’t have made a nicer looking space. I really don’t know why I’d put so much effort in the room. I’d always picked on my mother about her too-nice-to-be-used guest room, but then the first thing I’d done here was recreate it.

The room’s excessive staging wasn’t lost on Lambert as he looked inside the room. “Are you sure?”

“Of course! What’s the point of a room if you never use it?” I was determined to not completely turn into my mother.

Turning back to the bed, I let him get between the sheets before turning the light out. “Good night,” I said, trying not to giggle at him pulling the sheets all the way up to his beak.

“Good night...”

I paused, thinking he was going to say something else, but he didn’’t. Easing the door shut, I left it just ajar and the hall light on, so the room wouldn’t be completely dark. Just like my mother had always done for me.

Funny, I hadn’t thought of that in years.

Closing the door to my room, I crawled between the sheets and blacked out moments later.

- - -

Something woke me. A quiet sound, but it jolted me awake.

Sitting up in bed, I strained my ear against the ear-ringing silence of Ponyville’s night.

A whimper, a chirp, it was coming from inside.

The hall light blinded me as I stepped into the hall, but the sound also became clearer. Opening the door to Lambert’s room, I watched him shiver and twist in the grip of a nightmare.

I’d never actually watched someone having a nightmare. It was strange and uncomfortably intimate. Only mothers and lovers should see a moment this vulnerable. Lambert didn't have either to pull him from the torment, but I wasn't going to leave him undefended.

Sitting on the bed, I ran my fingers through his downy head. “Shhh... It’s okay,” I whispered.

Lambert’s eyes flung open. “Mom!” He cried, wrapping himself around my leg. Even in the dim room I could see the terror in his eyes.

Blinking a few times, the little griffon collected himself enough to look embarrassed. “Sorry,” he mumbled, half releasing my leg.

“It’s okay,” I said, still soothing his feathers.

It took a moment of quiet before I realized he was silently crying. Wiping his tears, I encouraged him to lay his head in my lap. “You want to talk about it?”

“No...” he said, taking the invitation to get more comfortable, but once he’d settled he spoke again, “I miss them so much.”

“I know,” I said, pulling some blankets over us both. “My parents... There was an accident. I never even saw what happened. One minute I was talking to my mom and dad. Then boom, I was waking up in a hospital. The doctor was the one that told me they’d died.”

Lambert pulled a bit tighter to me. In the silence of the night, we comforted each others bitter memories. Soothing his feathers with slow petting, I stayed with him till he was asleep.

As gently as I could, I moved his head from my lap to the pillow, then eased off the bed. A tug at my nightgown made me pause to see what it had snagged on, only to find Lambert's sleepy, tear-stained eyes looking up at me.

“Please don't go.”

I... couldn’t say no to him. “Okay.” Closing the door, I climbed back onto the bed. As soon as I got comfortable, Lambert curled up against my side. Laying an arm across him, I felt his breath go even as quiet sleep found him again.

A moment later, sleep found me too.