• Published 2nd Jul 2012
  • 47,743 Views, 6,229 Comments

Oh to be Old Again - Minalkra

What happens when a middle age brony wakes up in the body of a foal? And when no one believes him?

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Interlude: Frillius Sockus Interuptus

Author's note to follow this chapter.

"Well, what are your thoughts?" Spring Meadows sat across from her colleague in her sparse and little-used office, her head in her hooves. She was rubbing her temples, a sign of a worsening headache. Clear Sight sighed, his hooves crossed in front of his chest and eyes wandering the room as he weighed her question. It said much for the mare that she kept little in her supposed office. While blank walls spoke volumes of a ponies mind, Clear thought it more indicative of the mostly under utilized nature of the room rather than her mental faculties. He sighed again and turned his attention back to the mare in front of him.

"Well if it was enslavement, it was a very short period in his life." Spring looked up at him, her face etched in confusion. Clear shrugged. "He has no scars, no physical trauma of any sort to suggest it. He's intelligent beyond his age and Diamond Dogs aren't known for teaching their slaves."

"This 'hell' suggests he at least knows of it." Clear pursed his lips and shook his head slowly to Springs assertion.

"Well, seems likely it was a more disciplinary type of measure of his parents. 'Do what we say or we'll send you to 'hell' with the big, mean bipedal demon-dogs.'" Clear waved his hooves in front of him, making an overly-expressive angry face. "It's more likely his parents are more to blame for his situation." Spring stuck her tongue out, making a sick face at the thought.

"I - I can't see anypony doing something like this but you have a point." She lowered one hoof to her desk top, tracing imaginary lines. Her face grew contemplative as she fiddled with her hooves, a nervous action. "He tries so hard to act as he saw adults act but it's so obvious he has a lot of growing up to do."

"Yes, well, we're getting away from the main issue here." Clear grimaced and waved at the small pile of papers spread out between the two Ministry workers. "What can we piece together from this?" Spring straightened, idly hoofing through the papers without really reading anything. They had both had more than enough time to read what was there.

"Well, his actions point toward poor adult-foal interactions but he is surprisingly willing to accept responsibility for his mistakes." She bit her lip in concentration. "That ... doesn't fit. If he was afraid of discipline, he'd be more apt to blame others. But he's afraid of adults, that's for sure."

"And being touched." They both nodded at memories of his sarcastic comments and general nervousness. Clear's brow furrowed. "You stated he was very insistent on not being nude but he seems more comfortable with that than you implied."

"He told me he was uncomfortable in his natural state." Spring shrugged her wings and shoulders, a strangely casual motion for the subject. Familiarity breeds ease. "You noticed he kept tucking his tail?"

"Yes, which does point to improper body touch. Still, it might not be as bad as you first thought. I'm worried, though." Clear fidgeted slightly in his chair. He didn't want to feel at ease with this case. It was very strange and if even half the things noted were true, being at ease with it would just add to the 'wrongness' of it all. "You noted the incestuous relationship he reported and the physical abuse between his father and elder sister." Spring waved a hoof with a frown.

"If he even has sisters. This could all be a gigantic fantasy land."

"Now you disbelieve him?" He met Springs look with a quirked eyebrow. "We could reducto ad infinitum here. He has no parents, he has no sisters and he's been homeless since he was foaled. But we have to accept some of what he says as truth." She nodded at that with a grimace.

"Well, within reason."

"Of course."

Silence fell between the two ministry workers as they tried to sort their thoughts. Occasionally, a sound would slip into the room from outside. Hoof-falls on the tile or the distant sound of passing conversation. Clear kept his eyes firmly on the desk in front of him, the papers spread about in semi-organized disarray. So little known but so much hinted at. Spring broke the growing tension after a few moments of reflection.

"We know he's from a monogamist family of some sort, we can assume he's telling the truth about his family up to a point, we know he's touch-shy to an extent." Clear nodded his head at everything Spring said. You could fake a lot of the reactions, true, but that would be placing too much trust in a youthful mind. Something would slip if Bruce was just making it all up. His body-unease was one of those odd things that didn't make the list, he noted wryly. "We can assume he's also a smoker and a drinker from his actions and his state in the hospital. So, lack of supervision at the very least. Probable child-on-child sexual misconduct with possible adult acceptance or knowledge." Clear frowned at this last one. Not enough evidence but it wasn't something he was discounting entirely.

"Runaway?" Spring perked her ears up at his suggestion, tilting her head to the side with a concentrating look.

"Hmm, that might fit. Fell in with a bad crowd after he ran away. Some mares like them young." They both grimaced at that. Spring frowned as she continued, her face contorting into a sneer of distaste. "Maybe that's where he got this 'wife' of his. Or could it be one of those arranged marriages that some monogamist cults try to pull?"

"Could be. We don't have enough information to say for certain though." He sighed. With all the information they managed to get out of this colt, how was it he was so hard to read? An inkling of a doubt entered Clear's mind as the memory of Bruce's convinced face rose to the surface. 'I'm 32...' He shook his head slightly to clear his mind. Impossibilities ... "Until we can get him to start telling the truth, be it willful misleading or delusion, let's go from the 'least cause' here. He's from a monogamist family that was dysfunctional and he's had a lack of supervision. Anything else we can't be certain."

"Yes. Oh, and a tribalist family. You saw how he reacted to Twilight." Clear jerked slightly at her words, concern etched in his face. Tribalism was one of those accusations that was hard to prove and potentially devastating to anypony, foal or not.

"Well, yes and no." He managed to keep his voice level despite the memories of angry parents and yelling children trying to enter his thoughts. "He distrusts magic but a good number of pure-tribe Earth Pony foals do. He didn't seem to dislike me." Spring seemed to chew on this for a moment before nodding and pointing a hoof at her colleague.

"Point. I'm still leaning heavily towards that though."

"Until we can-" he began, only to be cut off by Spring waving a hoof.

"Yes, yes. I'll put it in my notes but not in the paperwork." He frowned and laid his ears back. A counselor's notes were her own and he couldn't tell her what to put in them. Still, it was not something he would be so cavalier to accuse. Even if it was the parents they were tangentially accusing. "So, uhm, suggestions."

Clear heaved a sigh and stood, tired of being confined to a chair. The blank walls, the heavy conversation, the implications of even half of what they discussed weighed heavily on him. Spring's eyes followed him as he began to stretch his legs and walk slightly. Not a true pace but a movement.

"Well, he needs therapy. Badly." Spring nodded energetically and motioned for him to continue. "Group therapy to get over his aggressiveness, family therapy with the Cakes to ensure they are kept in the loop and know how to deal with his problems, individual therapy to get over this lying or delusion."

"Oh, and body-form therapy." Clear blinked at her outburst. She shrugged and sheepishly smiled. "He does have that 'human obsession' after all."

"Are any of those for foals?" The 'human' thing was relatively new but it was already making a huge splash in the psychiatry profession. It was opening up a great number of long-buried and glossed over issues ponies had been dealing with for centuries.

"No, but the Ponyville group only has ... a few members. We can make it a one session per month deal where it's more about general topics and not the excessive sexuality most groups tend to focus on." Spring's pause and the 'sexual' aspect she mentioned caused him to raise an eyebrow. Most body-form groups dealt with difficulties in lacking firm control over magic or lack of proper support for one tribe or another. He'd never heard of any that concentrated on the sexuality of the members. Still, if it was something that was unique to this group ... he trusted Spring's professionalism. She would never force the young thing into a situation she didn't think he could handle. Or, barring that, she could handle for him. Clear shrugged, returning to his chair with a groan.

"Ooooh, well if you think that'll work. Ugh, this is a headache." He unceremoniously dropped his head onto the table, avoiding impaling his horn in her desk with practiced ease. He heard Spring chuckle.

"Yeah, well, that's why I work in a hospital."

Edited by Genjen. Again, he's cool.

Author's Note: Ok, so some people have been getting their jimmies rustled voicing some concern over some of my choices in this fic. Primarily, there have been complaints about the gender-inverse but there have also been some concerns about Bruce's actions, his seemingly unconcern for going home, missed opportunities for 'convincing' characters of the validity of his actions, the characterization of the main characters and some other piddly stuff.

I am going to be answering a lot of the characterization aspects in the coming chapters. He's going to be interacting with the Main 6 more and I think I'll get their characters down regardless of their professions and/or where they exist in the society in this fic.

I will admit that Bruce has not seemed too concerned about going home. That is a bit of a failing on my end. I know things he (and y'all) don't know that make it less ... important. BUT! He should still be looking for a way home/convincing ponies he's telling the truth. I'm going to be working on getting that across more effectively. I am sorry. However, do note that only about a single day has gone by. 40k words and a single day ... wow. Anyway, so it's still pretty dang early for him to be panicking about how long he's been in Eqeustria.

Gender inversion, polygamy and the new AU tag: Ok, this is a source of extreme contention in the comments, about this story and just plain old in general. So here we go: My original thought was not to invert the genders. It was to invert the ... societal value of the genders. Not quite. Uhm, a caring motherly mare was seen as a better Mayor than even a caring fatherly stallion. Uh, Equestria saw war as disgusting in total (defensive included) and the guard was there only because it was needed and not because it was honorable or noble or good. Diplomacy and turning enemies to friends was more important. A place where the motherly and inclusion was 'better' than aggression and individualism.

I couldn't write that way. I tried and, uhm, didn't work. SO, in the interest of copying AnonAuthor of Xenophilia fame in making the ponies seem more alien and 'other,' I chose to make this Equestria have inverted gender roles for, uhm, most things. Also, I thought it'd be funny to have this hard smoking, hard drinking, comfortable-in-his-masculinity guy end up in a land where guys are frilly. It was either that or make him a filly. I had a ton of convoluted and twisty ways of rationalizing it within the context of the show itself. And, frankly I don't think they are completely and totally bogus rationalizations. I don't think we, as fans of the show, have enough information to point at Equestria and say 'This is Americanada with ponies and will follow all aspects of our general culture.' It's the most logical and simplistic answer ... yes. It's not the only one and Occam can go suck an egg, sometimes shit be all complex.

However, in the interest of having these silly and far-too-often arguments about why gender inversion is right/wrong, I am sticking an AU tag up in here yo. I don't think it's right/wrong either way. So far, we have a single married couple (the Cakes, all other couples haven't been distinctly labeled as married) and a single wedding between royalty. We can assume from these two issues that, sure, it's Americanada or what have you with all other couples not specified as married being married. And it's the simplest and easiest answer, sure. But it's not the only one and any small and slight inconsistency in having another answer is trumped by the general inconsistency in the show itself. I mean, RD knows about tanks and bullets, they have camo and Rarity has an old M1 helmet ... but the Royal Guard uses plate mail and spears? WTH man? Read and like or read and dislike, it's here to stay.

That and I like it and find it funny.

Oh, and in reply to some of what Bruce is saying/what the counselors are saying: we're being 'told' this story through Bruce's eyes and - in the interludes - some other eyes. We only know what they say. Well, I know more but for the most part, y'all only know what they are telling us. And they can be wrong, mistaken or just plain-old assuming things. Don't take everything that comes through the chapters as 100% 'from the horses mouth' fact. Over the course of the work, I hope to point out where everyone is wrong and what the truth is but sometimes, a 'fact' might not be as factual as the reciter believes.

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