• Published 2nd Jul 2012
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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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20 - Frilly Socks Part 2: Revenge of the Soap

*BANG BANG BANG* I was standing outside the library, one forehoof braced against the door jamb and the other wailing on the sturdy wood that barred me from the inside of the ... tree. It was a really big tree, still living with healthy green leaves and everything. They had carved it up as a building. That was actually kinda freakin' cool. Unfortunately, I had more pressing matters than marveling at the inventiveness of the ponies.

"Yeah yeah, hold your horses." The muffled sounds of speech and movement caused me to bang louder. I couldn't tell who it was, their gender stripped by the wood. I was so hoping Twilight wasn't too busy.

*BANG BANG BAN-* The door suddenly swung open and, with my infinite amount of grace and dexterity, I toppled forward. Luckily, my face managed to break my fall though that did set my eyes spinning in their ... sockets, I guess. As the world settled down around me, the smear of purple that had taken up the majority of the colors slowly coalesced into the form of a taller-than-expected baby dragon staring down at me.

"Geez, what is with you ponies?! It is a public library." He reached one of his hands (OH MERCIFUL GOD I WANT MY HANDS BACK SO MUCH) out and helped me to my feet, crossing his arms afterwards and regarded me with a smirk as I swayed. He seemed taller and lankier than I would have thought, almost at the same height as I was. His snout was longer and his spines 'sharper' than the show depicted but he was still a child-like creature. I could still see some 'child pudge' underneath all the scales. A few pointed teeth peeked out from under his upper lip. His eyes, though, they gave me the willies. Focused, smaller than a pony's eyes. More forward. Almost human in placement. He was a predator and it was kicking off some really weird instincts.

"Oh. Huh, never thought about that before." I absently rubbed the growing lump on my head and took in my surroundings to keep my mind off the apex predator that was in front of me. It must have been about mid-afternoon or so but the library was deserted. Something I hated about the show was the amorphous nature of some of the buildings. The animators would use whatever form suited them at the time, never really allowing fans the satisfaction of having a fully defined structure. Here I was, though, and I could see some details that had been left hazy.

The main door opened into the familiar circular room packed with books with a table situated in the center. Across the span, a stairway led up into what I assumed were Twilight and Spike's private quarters and a doorway a bit to the right of that led into what seemed to be some form of kitchen though it was hard to tell through the half-drawn curtain that acted the part of a door. Another, fully closed door, was on the other side of the room. I was guessing it led to the basement and Twilight's 'Mad Scientist Laboratory' but it could have been a bathroom for all I knew. The sound of a throat being cleared brought me out of my wide-eyed searching and I turned my attention to the patient young dragon that was now tapping his foot and regarding me rather coldly.

"Hey Spike." I gave him a grin. A near grin. Kinda a grimace but I was trying.

"Do I know you?" He kept his arms crossed and squinted at me. I felt rather nervous under his gaze. I was sweating a bit, I'll admit. Poor guy, never really fitting in with his pony-family and not a dick enough to really fit in with the dragons. Or maybe that was just those high school jerk dragons he decided to try first.

"Uh, no." I contemplated telling him everything but decided against it. I had a more direct route in mind. "Anyway, is Twilight around?"

"Uhhh ... yeah, hang on while I go get her." He gave me a slightly confused look but decided not to press, I guess. With a slight shrug, he turned around to go fe- "TWILIGHT! THERE'S SOME COLT HERE FOR YOU!" OW. His bellow made me jump, scrunching my face up in surprise as my ears jerked down on their own accord. I suppose shouting at the top of his lungs from directly in front of me counted as 'going to get her' in some book. Somewhere.

"Thanks, I didn't need to hear anyway." I rubbed my ears as a reply was shouted from above.

"What?" That was Twilight, definitely. She seemed to be upstairs.

"I SAID THERE'S SOMEPONY AT THE DOOR FOR YOU!" Indoor voice! Indoor voice! I covered my ears with both my hooves, leaning as upright as I could to maintain my balance and grimacing in pain. And yes, there was pain. That boy could get loud.

"Who is it?" Wouldn't it be easier to just come down, Twilight? Save us all sore throats and really sore ears?

"I DON'T KNOW, HANG ON! What's your name?" He turned to me, his voice at a decent level. I could barely understand him through my hooves and the ringing in my ears. I tentatively removed one hoof to facilitate normal conversation.

"Uh, Bruce bu-"

"SAYS HIS NAME IS BRUCE!" Yeah, that wasn't smart. With a cry of sharp agony, I smacked my hoof back on my ear. The knock to my head was a secondary pain to the pure loud that dragon could produce.

"Spruce?" Twilight's voice was getting closer but not close enough. I think she was at the top of the stairs by this point but with my eyes squeezed shut at the aural assault, she could have been standing right in front of me and shouting for all I could hear.

"BRUCE!" MY GOD! I thought he was loud before but sweet mother Mary! I wasn't a religious man but at this point, with my head firmly on the ground and tears coming out of my eyes, I considered converting to anything just so I could pray the pain away.

"Her book isn't due till next Tuesday!"

"Argh, TWILIGHT JUST GET DOWN HERE!" Finally, something I could get behind.

"Ok, seriously, going deaf now," I managed to squeak out in between my clenched teeth. After a few seconds of blissful quiet, I felt a hoof nudge my shoulder. I cracked one eye open and managed to see a blurry and concerned Twilight looking down at me in confusion.

"Bruce?"

"I'll let you handle this Twi." Spike, ever the gentle...dragon, walked out of the room and into the kitchen. Completely ignoring the cowering and unhappy colt he subjected to vocal torture. Thanks Spike, you're the best. Twilight followed him with a slight frown.

"Yeah, thanks for going out of your way to help, Spike." He waved at her comment, either ignoring or used to the sarcasm. Gee, what got under his scales.

"No problem." Twilight rolled her eyes and turned her gaze back to her unexpected visitor. By this time, I had managed to blink the tears out of my eyes and could now look ... at ...

"I - uh ... what are you wearing?" Twilight looked at me with a confused and sort of flustered expression on her face. Her hair was damp and segregated by color in clips and her face was half-done in make-up. But that wasn't the really weird part. On her hooves were these things that would take a mad-poet decades to describe.

"Uhm, socks?" Is that what you call them? Such an innocent word should never tied to those abominations.

"They have lace!" Among other unfathomable things. Seriously, why do they have straps? That's like the whole saddle thing that I am still not sure of. What next, actual mouth-bits? Blinders? Hobbles? Are these ponies really that kinky?

"Uhh, yeah. Most socks have lace." I stared at her, my mouth agape and my eyes darting between her serious face and those atrocities on her hooves. The color was ok, though that shade of pink was a bit bright for her coat. The form was fine ... mostly. A few holes to highlight her coat color. But the accessories were really not needed. After a few seconds of me looking back and forth between her face and those things, she huffed. "Was there something you needed?"

"This world to start making sense," I mumbled under my breath, pulling my eyes away from the mind-breaking sight in front of me.

"What was that?"

"Nothing." I refocused on Twilight's face - the least disturbing thing in the room - and gave her a smile. Let's see if I can remember how to act like a decent person. Pony. Whatever. "So, uh, why are you wearing socks anyway?"

"Oh, uh, well ... that's not really something I feel comfortable talking to you about Bruce." She pawed nervously at the floor, looking slightly to the side. I could see a bit of a blush creeping into her face. How does a pony blush, anyway? You'd think the pelt would make that - aw crap, it hit me. Half-done make-up, fancy socks and probably a saddle or dress to match, her hair in state of 'getting ready.' I cursed myself for my contrary nature. I had interrupted her in the middle of getting ready to go out. I felt a heat rising to my own cheeks as I realized what I had done.

"Ah, sorry! Sorry." I backed up toward the doorway, left open from my entrance. "Uhm, should I go? Uh, I mean, if you're expecting company or something ..." The blush that was there burst into a fierce red and she glared at me, daring me to finish that sentence. I snapped my hooves up and covered my muzzle. "Ach! Sorry, sorry! I didn't mean like that! Uh, crap. This is not working out at all. Uhm, well, I know that ... stallions wear lace and all but why are you wearing it too?" I was desperate to change the subject or at least try to cover up my stupidity. I think she knew it as she didn't stop glaring but this is Twilight we're talking about. Give her something to answer and I don't think she could resist.

"... Bruce, lace is kind of androgynous. You wouldn't catch, say, Rainbow Dash in it but most ponies like to keep up with fashion at least a little bit no matter their gender." Nailed it! Get Twilight on a subject and she'd go for hours. At least, from what I remember from the show. So far, my show-knowledge hasn't really been completely comprehensive. It's been pretty close but it hasn't been all inclusive. With a flick of her horn, the door shut behind me. Great, now I was trapped in here. At least try to make the most out of my idiocy.

"Ah. Well, alright then. Uhm, I was wondering ... could I ask a huge favor?" I gave her the biggest smile and the largest eyes I could muster. Please work, please work, please work. She looked down at me with a cocked eyebrow.

"I'm not sending the Princess a letter about you being human."

"Oh come on!" Damn it! I dropped my 'puppy dog' routine and frowned up at her. "Please, it's really impor-" She cut me off with a hoof stamp and a frown.

"No Bruce! My relationship with the Princess is not for everypony with a crazy story to try to get her attention." She spun her eyes in opposite directions at the word 'crazy.' Yeah, Twilight, everypony in this town really is crazy. Including you and now me. Maybe it's something in the water. "She's a very busy pony, you know, what with having to run an entire country and all."

"Sooo, this is an absolutist monarchy?" Twilight blinked at the change of conversation. "Well, diarchy technically."

"Uhhh, wh-what?" She was thrown off by the change. Good. Take control of the conversation, bend it to my will. Or at least try to direct it to where I wanted to go. Maybe if I could appeal to some kind of Pony Rights movement I could get her to, I don't know, at least think about sending her teacher a letter. And if this was a monarchy in that sense, maybe I could petition the crown for redress of my problems.

"And there is no universal listing of pony rights, then?" I looked up at her, smirking. This was going entirely to plan! Mostly, anyway. I was not the best at directing conversations but so far it was working pretty flawlessly.

"... Bruce, do you even know what those words mean?" Ok, not so flawlessly.

"Yes!" She hit one of my buttons pretty hard there. I'm not a genius but I at least consider myself slightly intelligent. I hate being called - or having it implied that I was - stupid. "She - and her sister - hold supreme power and legal authority. Meaning that if I were to disagree with them in any fashion, there is no recourse." Twilight blinked at my outburst, tilting her head as she weighed my words.

"... actually, while it's true Equestria is a diarchy, all ponies have unalienable rights under the Convention of the Three Tribes including the Right of Voice and the Right of Life." Convention? "The Princess is both executor of laws as well as the Supreme Judge of Law. However, the making of laws rests in the hooves of the Council of Officials."

"I dunno, that sounds like an absolutist mon-diarchy to me."

"No Bruce, we have the Convention which guarantees certain Rights that not even the Princess can disabuse. And if a law is struck down as unconventional, new additions to the Convention can be-" I stuck a hoof in her mouth, leaning forward precariously to do it. She looked at me in surprise that was slowly becoming anger. Oops, have to remember she isn't Pinkie and I could probably interrupt her normally.

"Sorry!" I removed my hoof and flattened my ears, rubbing the saliva off on the floor. This was no longer going to plan! I smiled back at her sheepishly. She frowned at me as she wiped her mouth. It left a smear of lipstick on her fetlock. Awwww crap! I'm ruining everything! "So if I can't convince you to help me send her a letter, maybe ... maybe you could use your freaky unicorn powers to check my memories?"

"Ptt." She spat a bit off to one side. Yeah, hooves are not the cleanest of things to put in your mouth. I'd say 'I feel ya' but, uhm, it was kinda my fault for doing that. And ruining her make-up. And wasting her time. "Freaky unicorn powers? Bruce, magic isn't something to be afraid of."

"Yes, yes it is," I deadpanned. Twilight looked shocked at my assertion. "Especially when you can make an entire town go insane for your little Smartypants doll."

"Ugh, that was years ago and it was only about a third of the town," she huffed, almost mumbling it to herself.

"Still something to be afraid of." I pointed at her with a hoof as she almost growled at me. Whoa, yeah, let's tell someone their entire point in life is dangerous in their own home. I closed my eyes and hung my head. I deserved to be smacked for this.

"Anyway, Bruce, no there is no spell out there that lets me 'read minds.'" Twilight managed to do an 'air quotes' thing with her hooves. I was impressed. "That is just anti-unicorn propaganda and I would appreciate it if you didn't spread such slander in this library."

"Geez, sorry. Didn't know it was such a touchy subject." I raised my hooves in a placating gesture. "So, what'd you use on your friends when Discord was doing his thing?" Twilight flopped her mouth a bit at my question. For a second, I thought I had managed to convince her that I knew things that were impossible. Hope, that bitch, had taken hold of my heart. Twilight sighed, and flattened her ears.

"That was a couple years ago ... but I still remember the reporters going on and on about my 'misuse of magic' and 'unwilling subjects' and that kind of tripe." I flopped my own mouth a bit. Reporters? For some reason, that seemed wrong. Reporters actually following newsworthy events? Twilight seemed to interpret my confused fish-gasping as something different and frowned angrily. "I used a 'share memory' spell. It let me share my experiences with them, let us both see those memories we shared. Since we've only known each other a few hours, young stallion, I don't think that would do you any good. There is no spell that lets me dig through anypony's mind and even if there was, I would never use it. That is a breach of confidence and trust that is hard for me to fathom."

"What if I WANTED you to breach my trust?" Hope hadn't let go, though reality was shaking it really roughly.

"Don't you get smart with me, young stallion."

"Hey, woah. Chill. That came out a bit wrong, that's all." This, this. THIS! THIS EVERYTHING! I could feel anger rising and with my inability to function normally anyway, that was not a good sign. Damn it, no one believed me! I had a right to be angry. "Erugh! Twilight, I'm human and you are a cartoon pony designed for little girls that I just happen to like!" I pointed my hoof at her as words began to spill out of my mouth. I was human, I wasn't a pony colt! She backed up a bit as my emotions started to flood my mouth with words that were too long in coming.

"We followed the adventures of you and the other Element Bearers through two years of friendship reports and you are - were one of my favorite Main Characters." She began to backpedal a bit, her socked-hooves slipping slightly on the polished wood floor. Every inch she backed up caused me to stomp forward two inches and soon I found myself directly in front of her with her back against one of the stuffed bookshelves. For some reason, I noticed titles in English next to wing-ding books and some kind of boxy-rune-script thing. That just caused my anger to grow cold for a moment. This was not my world! After that second of distraction and Twilight's stuttering, I turned my attention back to the very smart yet wholly idiotic unicorn in front of me. "You are logical to a degree but tend to be closed minded when presented with something that doesn't fit your worldview. You are friendly and helpful but sometimes I wonder if you really aren't just acting that way because you really want to impress Princess Celestia with your studies. You are the glue that holds the five other Bearers together despite their extreme differences."

"What?" Twilight gasped, her face a mask of utter confusion.

"I know about Magic Kindergarten, I know your brother calls you 'Twily,' I know you turned your parents into a cactus and, eh, I can't remember the other thing to be honest, at your entrance exam for Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns when you hatched Spike." I heard a slight gasp from behind me but I ignored it. I was not going to be distracted any more damn it! "I know you have an owl assistant in addition to Spike and he ran away because he thought he was being replaced. I know you failed to remove that dragon from that stupid mountain and it was Fluttershy and her anger at him for hurting her friends that made him move! I know your birthday at the Centerlot Gardens caused friction between Rarity's high-class clientele and that you can't dance to save your life!

"I know that Luna had trouble getting used to the idea of Nightmare Night and that it was you who convinced her to take up her role as 'feared Nightmare' that helped her get used to the idea but I wonder if that didn't cause her issue when she went back to Canterlot because of misunderstanding that it was that one night they wanted to be afraid of her! I KNOW ALL THIS GARBAGE AND I AM NOT LEAVING UNTIL I GET SOMEONE TO DAMN WELL BELIEVE ME!"

I stood there steaming with anger as Twilight pressed her back against the bookshelves behind her. She looked slightly afraid but more confused than anything. I heard the slap of feet on wood and glared over my shoulder at the open-mouthed face of Spike as he approached from behind. Yeah, try something dragon boy, I have hind hooves. My concentration was broken as two books hovered in front of my face, both grasped in purple auras. Both were titled in English, though one of them also had wing-wings on the cover. I read them both out loud as my angry face drifted into confusion once more.

"At Her Side, the biography of Twilight Sparkle; Book Three in the Elements of Harmony series. The Knights of Bretonnia, a human tale by Ink Well."

"Bruce." Twilight's voice sounded sad. I turned to look at her, my confusion obvious. She had slid down into a sitting position, leaning very close to me. I suddenly felt very nervous near her and made a move to back up but she reached out with a hoof to stop me and pulled me into a hug. "Everything you said was in my biography, written after many interviews with me, my friends and family and even Princess Celestia. The author even used the term 'glue that holds them together' in her book. Our tales are popular and well-documented. They tend to be read more by fillies and mares because we 'exemplify the qualities of good mares' and that garbage but it doesn't surprise me that we have colt and stallion fans at all." She magicked (the word really does exist!) the cover open and flipped through pages filled with wing-dings before showing me one of them.

"I can't read this, Twilight." I poked the book with a hoof, nudging it slightly in the air. "I can read the titles but those are in English." She smiled down at me.

"Earth Pony script. Some places still only teach one of the written languages of ponies for some reason. These books exist in all three writing styles." Explains the wing-ding street signs, I suppose. Though it'd make more sense for those to be in 'Earth Pony' script since Ponyville was an Earth Pony town. I didn't have a chance to ask before the other book opened to a picture. It ... it ...

"That's not human." I ignored Twilight's blink of confusion as I leaned forward in her grip. It was almost human. The face was more pronounced - almost muzzle like - but it was the ears and hands that really caught my eye. The ears were pointed and the interior was flat. Like a pony ear stuck on the side of a human-like head. But the hands. They only had four fingers. "That's like a Tolkienian elf almost."

"Elf?" From all their assumptions about humans, they sure didn't seem to know a lot about us.

"Yeah, elf." I motioned with a hoof at one of my own ears, tracing the shape very roughly without taking my eyes off of the book in front of me. "Pointed ears to the human rounded ones and lacking a digit on each hand."

"Bruce, this is the first in the Knights series." I looked up at her face, trying to read her emotions. She seemed sad even though she was smiling. "It follows a group of human knights as they fight against the aggressors from the East. It's ... a really well made series." That last phrase was said through slightly clenched teeth, as if it was almost painful to say. Twilight didn't have a huge amount of respect for the writer, I guessed.

"What is he riding?" I pointed at one of the bearded fellows perched on the back of some kind of lizard thing. I looked vaguely like a Jurassic-park style velociraptor which was way too big anyway. Twilight looked at the book, pursing her lips.

"The humans can't run very fast because of their bipedalism. They've domesticated these unintelligent 'suarians' as, well, mounts. Like how some of the soldiers of the past would allow baby dragons or others ride with them into battle. That's why saddles are seen as clothing today, an outgrowth of some of the militarism of the past." That explains why saddles exist, I suppose.

"Twilight, this isn't a human. We have rounded ears with ridges inside to help direct sound waves. We have five fingers on each hand - not four - and we ride unintelligent ... uhm, horses. But our technology has gone beyond the need for living mounts." I twisted in her arms and looked at her. I could see in her eyes she didn't believe me even though she was still smiling. She squeezed me in place of words and I could feel my heart sinking at it. "Twilight, please. I really am a human."

"Oh Bruce. I know you're confused about everything. I know it's scary. But you're safe now. You don't need to hide anymore in books and stories. You can live your life now." I sat there, being hugged by Twilight for a few minutes as my attempt at a plan fell to pieces in front of my eyes. I could only think of one thing to say.

"...fuck."

I could tell the word was unexpected by the way Twilight tensed up. Kinda ruined the moment I guess.


"Pttt!"

"What do we say?"

"Ugh, that tastes like how lavender smells." I gagged at the flavor as my hooves kicked uselessly against the air. After my unfortunately chosen word, I had been hauled up by magic (very not possible to fight that, I tried) into the private quarters of Twilight and Spike. While downstairs was neatly organized and nigh spotless, their room was a catastrophe of books and papers piled every which way. I didn't have very much time to look around until I was yanked into a bathroom and subjected to my favorite punishment: soap.

"Bruce, what do we say?" Twilight, still in her half-done and now slightly messed up going out clothes, was hovering a bar of hoof soap near my head as she directed my thrashing form over the sink. It was a pretty well-kept bathroom. Sink, squat toilet, tub ... all the amenities I'd come to expect from a pony bathroom. Nice mirror too, though the counter was jammed full of arcane bottles of lotions and perfumes. I couldn't wrap my head around it, to be honest. I thought it was a gender-inversion but it was obvious all these bottles and such were Twilight's. A gentle shake from the magic surrounding me brought me out of my critique of her toiletry articles.

"Least I don't have to brush my teeth now, right? Ah, no wait! NOARGHLGHLGHLGHLGHL pttttew, ugh." At least I wasn't swallowing half of what I had in the hospital. I had learned! Though it was a skill I probably shouldn't have had to learn.

"Bruce ..." Twilight hissed through clenched teeth at me. I rolled my eyes in response, prompting her to try a third time. A quick wave of my hooves stopped the advancing soapy terror.

"Sorry, geez." Surprisingly, that seemed to mollify her and I was lowered - gently, this time - to the floor. A glass of water soon followed, for which I was really quiet grateful.

"Yes, well, let's make sure there are no more little linguistic oopsies, alright?" 'Linguistic oopsie?' I was doubly glad for the water as it cut off any snark that might have driven the mare over the edge. I nodded instead, still chugging. Lavender might be a nice smell but it was definitely not a nice taste. After my glass of liquid relief, Twilight sat back and eyed me critically. Our little heart-felt moment was put aside so quickly it was almost as if it had never happened. "So, anything else you'd like to ask about or can I go back to getting ready for my date?"

I put hoof to chin in thought. This was a good enough time as any, I suppose. "... yes! Yes there is and, uhm, I'm kinda sorry about it but," I scratched my head, suddenly a bit nervous about bringing the whole thing up, "how does this whole polygamy thing work anyway?"

"What?" Her face spoke volumes that her words did not even touch. A flush of embarrassment, confusion, a sudden jerk backwards almost as if she was struck. She had not expected that and it was touching on some situations she was uncomfortable with. Probably due to my assumed 'age.'

"Why are y'all polygamist?" I looked at her, completely serious, and tilted my head. I was not crying or cringing at the whole 'soap' thing, I was not angry any more at her disbelief. I thought I was being calm and collected considering the crisis that had coalesced. Alliteration!

"Uh, well, there'd be a lot of unhappy mares if we were all monogamists." Twilight chuckled nervously as her eyes began to dart around as if searching for an exit. Which was kinda silly, seeing as how there were only two of them: window situated well out of my reach and the door she was currently blocking. But really, that wasn't the interesting part of the whole situation.

"Huh?" Well said, me!

"Th-the birth rates." I pursed my lips and shook my head. Thankfully, she got the hint and offered more information, though in a tone that showed her confusion. "Three mares born for every stallion?"

"... mein gott in himmel!" Twilight blinked at my shout. Or at the German. Maybe she knew it as Germane? I sure as heck didn't know a lick of it save that one phrase. I looked at her with a fake smile of understanding that morphed into a frown of confusion as I spoke. "That explains a freakin' ton wait no I'm wrong. That explains absolutely nothing. How does that work?"

"Ugh, Bruce, I know you've got a lot of questions but I'm running out of time." Oh, right, her date. Yeah, probably ought to get out of her hair I guess. She turned and walked into her living area with me tagging along behind her. As I was about to disengage myself from her, she glanced at a wall-mounted clock ... showing eight numbers instead of twelve. Hmm, time keeping is different it seems. From the looks of things, it was about 3 PM or so - though the sock hanging off the clock was covering up a few of the numbers. "By Celestia's mane! Shouldn't you be heading back home?"

"Uhhhh." The mention of 'home' hit my stomach like a piece of ice. In all the excitement, I kinda sort of forgot how I ran out on Mr. Cake and the twins. Oh gods, there was going to be hell to pay for that one. Twilight must have seen my expression out of the corner of her eye. She stopped and closed her own, taking a very deep breath before speaking.

"Bruce."

"Yeah?"

"The Cakes know you're here, right?"

"Uhhhh." Good job, brain.

"BRUCE!" She turned on me, anger and shock written all over her face. I backed up, bumping into a stack of books that was more solid than I had given it credit for. My life flashed before my eyes ... and a lot of it I really regretted.

"It's not my fault, er, somehow!" Before Twilight could shout back, a figure popped out from around the stairwell's corner.

"I'll take care of it, Twi. You get ready for your date." Spike, you life saver! The lanky dragon seemed relaxed and calm - compared to my panic and Twilight's kinda justified anger anyway. Luckily, it also distracted her and she whipped her head around to regard her assistant.

"Spike! How long have you been sitting there?"

"Long enough." The dragon shrugged. Lucky bastard, keeping his limbs! Er, having limbs. Something. I tried to turn my slight fear - ok, 'moderate amount of fear' - onto him but squashed the emotion. He was saving my literal bacon here and I was not going to end that with letting my mouth get the better of me. "Look, I'll take little Brucy-wucy home and you get ready."

"Spike ..." Twilight said, her tone one of warning. I was still a bit scared nervous about the massive powerhouse that was Twilight but Spike just rolled his eyes. He must have been used to her moods.

"I can take care of this, Twi. Just get ready. You're already late and you're not even halfway done with your checklist."

"Really? She makes a checklist for this?" There we go again, mouth. Opening up just enough to get me in trouble. My vocalization brought Twilight's attention back to me and without moving her head, she lowered her voice into the 'whooping' tone.

"Bruce." Spike's laugh cut through the tension, drawing a growl out of his sister/mother. I wonder how their relationship really was, how it all fit together.

"Yeah, I know right? Look, Twi. I got this. Come on Bruce, let's get you home." He waved he over and, with a sidelong glance at Twilight, I zipped around her to the relative safety of the pony-eating dragon. Not literally, of course, I don't think Spike would ever even consider eating a pony. But he could. Twilight fumed for a second before huffing in annoyance.

"... fine. Be careful."

"Sure will Twi. See ya soon!" With a wave, Spike nudged me out of the room and down the stairs to the library proper. I shook my head, glad to be out of her hair. It seems about ten minutes is the most anypony can take of me before I end up getting on their nerves enough to get soap in my throat.

"So, uhm, instead of Sugarcube Corner, uhm ... could we swing by the park? I, uhm, kinda got lost from there and maybe Mr. Cake is still looking for me." My tone was perhaps just a little too hopeful as Spike eyed me while we walked out the door.

"... really?"

"I'm being honest!"

"... sure." With a shrug, Spike and I headed to the park and, with any luck, toward where Mr. Cake was still distracted enough not to have noticed my absence. Yeah, no, let's be honest, I was in deep hot water but I was not running away now. We walked a few moments in silence.

"So," Spike broke the silence, "you really think you're a human, huh?"

"Nope, I know I'm a human." Sarcasm, my old friend. Come to screw with me again. I cringed at the comment as soon as it left my mouth but Spike just nodded.

"I like the series. It's pretty good, despite what Twilight says. She doesn't like the 'fake science' behind it. Always going on about the anatomy and how it's impossible and crap." He snorted and waved a hand behind him. "It's fiction, man, it doesn't have to be accurate to life. Just accurate to itself."

"I haven't read any of it. I can tell you right now that some of that anatomy is wrong." Spike looked at me out of the corner of his eye.

"You seem pretty cool and all. Not like these other pony colts, always going on about garbage no one cares about. Only ones I can partially stand are Snips and Snails but even they get all, ugh, 'colty' sometimes. I much prefer fillies for friends." I nodded. That kinda makes some sense. Dragons seem more 'human' than ponies so it stands to reason Spike was feeling a bit out of place among the colts. I couldn't say for sure why but the way he acts, it's more like a real brother to Twilight than a girly-man. Then again, my whole 'gender inversion' thing went out the window in her bathroom anyway so I couldn't even tell you what was true and what wasn't. Spike cleared his throat and glanced about before taking us down one of the many eerily similar streets.

"Look, I'm not saying I believe you but some of what you said back there I know for a fact wasn't in that biography Twilight shoved in front of your nose." My ears perked up at this. Is someone finally starting to trust me? To believe me? "It's possible you're some kinda crazy fan that managed to find some stuff out or something and it's really hard to take you seriously about the whole human things but ... you're definitely not striking me as an average colt."

"Spike, I could kiss you but that'd be weird and I'm not into dudes." He grimaced and backed away slightly, though he did chuckle.

"Thank Celestia for that. Look, I can't just send a letter out of the blue to the Princess even if it's something really freaky. I'm probably going to catch Tartaurus for taking you to the park instead of home but ... for what it's worth, I think I'm on your side here." He looked over and smiled. For the first time since meeting him, I didn't feel like running away from his teeth. I smiled back and nodded as we walked to the park in silence.


"Bruce!" With a shout, Mr. Cake galloped over and swept me into a bone crushing hug. The small gathering of ponies that he had broken off of trotted over a second later, murmuring to each other. I could see the twins among them, though they were lost by the larger adult bodies quickly. "Where did you go? What were you thinking? Spike?"

"Hiya Mr. Cake." Spike waved at the Earth pony, smirking as I thrashed my limbs and turned even bluer. Thanks dude, thought you were pretty cool too. Until now. I squeaked as Mr. Cake set me back down, gasping for air. "Bruce wandered into the library and Twilight didn't see proper postage so we had to send him back."

"The library? Bruce, I told you to keep within sight distance of me!" He stood back, his face set in a deep frown and tear streaks staining his face. "You are in so much trouble." For a moment - just a short moment - I wanted to tell him off. Then I thought about how he was putting himself out for me, how much worry I probably put him through.

"Yeah, I deserve it," I said, my head hung low. "I wandered a bit off and got lost. I, uhm, couldn't read the street signs and got turned around." Mr. Cake shook his head.

"You should have stayed in the park, Bruce." He sounded hurt. He trusted me and I threw it back in his face. I am a rotten person, much less a pony. The crowd around us seemed fixated on me and I wilted under the stares, most of them disapproving.

"I know Mr. Cake. I don't want you or the twins to have to stop having a good day out ... though it's probably too late for that. Uhm, if you're not ready to go I'll stay right next to you the entire time. Uhm, if that's ok with you." I was not channeling Fluttershy intentionally this time. I felt bad about having ditched him and his children for what amounted to a little tantrum. Heck, a public spanking was what this situation called for in my opinion. I managed to straighten myself a bit and looked my foster father straight in his eye. "Any punishment you deem necessary I probably deserve."

The crowd of ponies looked between me and Mr. Cake, their murmuring growing less disapproving and more curious as I spoke. Eh, they were not my concern. Mr. Cake looked down at me, a frown still on his face but with softer eyes.

"We'll figure that out later. It's not quite time for dinner though you missed lunch time." His stomach rumbled loudly and he winced. "As did I. Pokey?" At his voice, one of the stallions wiggled forward. He was a blue unicorn and ... aw heck, I recognized him. He was that balloon popping guy from that Cutie Mark episode. No pony seemed to see my recognition thankfully.

"Can you watch the twins for a bit?" The stallion nodded with a smile. "Thank you. And thank you everypony for helping me look for Bruce here. Turns out he wasn't even in the park."

"I'm sorry everyon-pony." I raised my voice above the crowd, turning to regard everypony I could. "I really am, for making everypony worried and ruining a bright sunny day. Thank you for looking for me, I'll try not to get lost anymore."

Mr. Cake smiled and rubbed my head, mussing my hair. "I was going to tell you to do that, sport. Glad to see you take the initiative. Come on, let's go grab a little bite and talk about ... things."

With one last apologetic smile at the slowly dispersing group of ponies and dragon, I trotted out after Mr. Cake. I was in trouble, sure, but it wasn't anything to panic about.

Author's Note:

Edited by Genjen cause Genjen is cool.

A/N: This took a week and a dozen packs of cigarettes. Y'all are KILLIN' me. Nah, just kidding.

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