• Published 3rd Dec 2017
  • 3,911 Views, 130 Comments

Heart of the Force - fluttershyfan17

In the midst of Order 66, Jedi Knight Kaleb Taymar is transported to Equestria. Starting a new life, he becomes friends with the Main 6. However, the Force has awakened in Equestra, and their lives will never be the same.

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Chapter 10: Adventures in Canterlot

The room was brightly lit, with a soft blue color filling the walls which made it a relaxed environment. There were chairs arranged in a circle, with different ponies each sitting in the chairs. The looks in their eyes were focused, as an earth pony with a blond mane spoke. Among the ponies was Kaleb, sitting in the chair almost across from the earth pony, whose name was Thunder.

“It’s difficult, when I try to get through the day,” she said in a small grunt, shifting in her chair slightly so to lean forward. “I barely get any sleep due to nightmares during the work week, and I just collapse any chance I get. On top of trying to raise two colts, no less. I feel like I can’t be there for them because I’m so exhausted and half of the time I get alarmed with the loud noises in the city.”

The other ponies nodded. Dr. Bluejay addressed the group as he adjusted his reading glasses slightly. “All of us have our limits in terms of energy and how we are able to spend our time. Thunder, these nightmares seem to take away a lot of sleep. I can’t imagine how it feels for your children, and the exhaustion must be stressful to you and them.”

Thunder nodded. “They get worried about me, and often try to cheer me up. They even made me breakfast in bed one time. Though that kitchen was a real mess.” Everyone chuckled. “I just don’t know how or why to tell them that I can’t spend as much time with them.”

Kaleb raised his hand slightly, and both she and Dr. Bluejay indicated for him to speak. “Young ponies often have a difficult time understanding these issues, but they do see them. It seems they’re concerned for you and possibly trying to reach out. Have you tried talking to them?”

Thunder waved her hooves in the air slightly. “I often play the conversation in my head, but I always see it going wrong. Either they get more anxious, more depressed, or just angry and try to act out for my attention.”

“Maybe you can try to make them feel like they’re part of the process as well. Being honest about what is going on, while not going into the specific details of the nightmares. Putting it in the simplest of ways while also teaching them. I would also say stress the fact that you still love them no matter what, and that you’re just trying your best every single day. If your children are that determined to make you feel more relaxed, then they will hopefully understand.”

There was a glimmer of relief in her face, though it was not given away easily. After Thunder thanked Kaleb, Dr. Bluejay clapped his hooves together softly. “Exactly. Those around you will react in different ways, but in most cases, they will hopefully be supportive. Thunder, thank you for sharing today, along with the rest of you. Our session has ended so you can go. Please feel free to help yourself to some coffee on the way out, and I hope you all have a good Hearth’s Warming.”

Everypony filed out of the room, leaving their folding chairs in the same formation to get the free caffeine. Kaleb stood up, stretching before starting to put away the chairs into the small closet. It was a relatively short task, since including him and Dr. Bluejay, there had been only eight other ponies in the group. As he finished putting away the chairs, he saw the doctor holding a cup as well.

“Thanks, that was really nice of you. Today was a good session, I could feel it. Either that, or the coldness of the room.” Kaleb chuckled slightly before letting out a sigh. “You did really well today, Kaleb. I know that it’s tough for you, sharing in front of other ponies, but you listened well and offered support. It seemed that Thunder really appreciated your advice.”

Running his hand through his hair, Kaleb coughed slightly. “I don’t know, it’s just that I get anxious in front of groups, even ones as small as this one. Probably just a little to personal, I guess.” He paused before speaking again. “It’s been six weeks since I arrived here, and things are going slow. Even with the medications, therapy, and the low stress environment, I still feel like I haven’t made enough progress. The Jedi taught me to be patient but I find myself being more restless.”

Dr. Bluejay nodded, taking a sip from his coffee. “I can understand that. I know that it seems slow, but you have some big steps in a good direction. This is something that can be with somepony for years, maybe even for the rest of their lives. You’re doing better than you give yourself credit for. The Paxil seems to be working at a good dosage, and the individual therapy with Lyra seems to be going well from what you told me. The relaxing activities seem to help create a low-stress environment for you, which was the main goal. Even the project you and Celestia are working on helps, which is that learning to look at things in a different context and helps deal with the memories. Though, it did cost a perfectly good garage door.”

Kaleb smiled slightly at that last sentence. “True. Maybe I have been a little hard on myself lately. Things have gotten better, especially in the past week. It could be the medication has started working, which is a relief. Although I still have the flashbacks, mostly in dreams and occasionally when I’m awake. That’s something I still need to work on.”

“I’ve been meaning to talk to you, actually,” Dr. Bluejay spoke quietly. “I’ve been looking over your progress and talking to Lyra about how you are doing.Things have been going well, so she and I were thinking about maybe asking you about the next step. Essentially, you would head back to Ponyville and continue there but you would come into outpatient therapy once a week with Lyra. She has an office there so you won’t have to come up to Canterlot. I’ll just need to do a final assessment on Monday to approve.”

A look of surprise went over Kaleb’s face. “Really? That’s wonderful, but I’m not sure how that’s a next step exactly.”

“It’s more of being able to adjust getting back into you daily life, using the skills that you have learned here to help you. Along with your progress: two of my big concerns have been addressed. Your suicidal thoughts are gone and you know how to deal with them, as well as the Paxil has begun to work with no sign of serious side effects.” Moving a hoof as to clear the air, Dr. Bluejay set a casual look back on his face. “So, do you have any plans for this afternoon?”

He thought for a moment. “Well, I was planning on going out into Canterlot if that’s okay. Mainly to look around at the holiday decorations in the stores. Also, I need to stop by the theater to pick up a ticket for the Saturday night play. You know, I thought that Princess Celestia or Princess Luna would be able to get me a free ticket.”

Dr. Bluejay chuckled. “It’s fine, Kaleb. Even for royalty, the ticketing system for the theater holds no exceptions. It sells out pretty quickly, but there are usually a few tickets left for the show. They may not be the best seats in the house, but at least you’ll be there. Trust me, Manehattan’s ticketing system is a lot worse. That’s the show your friends are in, right?”

Kaleb nodded as he began to walk out of the room. “I’ll take your word for it. I’ll see you Monday.” Moving out into the hallway, he paused before thrusting his way through the door to meet the winds outside. It was a longer walk going from the small building to where the theater was, but he appreciated it. It gave him time to think.

Shivering in only his fall jacket, he looked around at the other ponies who had their winter clothes on, with some fillies and colts playing in the snow. They built snow ponies and made snow angels, with a few occasionally trying to hit each other with snowballs. Kaleb kept his eyes on them as he saw the snowballs flying, tensing up in case any were to go his way. Focusing on his breathing, he tried to relax as he told himself that there was no danger. Kaleb looked straight ahead and focused on the journey as well, moving his hands into his jacket.

I should probably get some winter clothes while I’m up here, but I don’t think I have the bits to spare, Kaleb thought, trying not to step on the patches of ice that lined the sidewalk. I should be able to manage until Monday, but it won’t be a pleasant experience. I swear, everything up here is so expensive, it could give Coruscant a run for its money. He paused as he saw the theater ahead of him. All I need to do it get through the next few days before hopefully going back. It should be an easier experience with my friends around. With that thought, Kaleb walked straight ahead and entered through the theater doors.

It was a grand venue, with a marble staircase leading into the main theater and twisting its way around to the various wings above. The red carpet on the floor reflected the royal touch, as did the mosaic murals of productions past lining the wall, each made out of various pieces of marble and gemstone. The wood that made the furniture was a bright oak, with golden ornamentations in scripted into it and cushioning that was the same red as the carpet. Kaleb walked towards the counter where the sign indicated that there were tickets, but nobody was there. Ringing the bell, he waited a minute before calling out to see if anyone was there.

That’s strange, I could have sworn they had someone here yesterday. Maybe if I wait here, someone will be along, Kaleb thought as he sat down on one of the couches. He sat in silence, taking in the exquisite artwork lining the walls, ranging from murals to paintings of various theater owners and donors. There was one painting that caught his eye. It showed a garden featuring a night sky, with the most beautiful flowers surrounding the walkway. They seemed to glow, lighting up the path as a filly and a colt walk together through garden. Each of them both have a curious look in their eye, eyeing the flowers with amazement, but the filly also was sneaking a glance at the colt, trying to head closer to him. The sky seemed to stretch on forever, creating a horizon that seemed to show the ends of the land. I wonder, could that be…

Before he could finish his thought, he heard a noise coming from the doors leading into the theater, along with a hum. Getting up, Kaleb made his way up the staircase, seeing that the doors were slightly open, leading him into the main theater. The lights were on, and Kaleb could see the grand chandelier that towered above him, made of thousands of crystals. The private boxes along the sides created optimal space for viewing, along with the balcony with the seats on the second floor. Kaleb wandered down the aisle, looking for the sound of the noise. Moving his attention to the stage, he saw that Rarity was there, trying to pin up poinsettias to the green curtain, but she was having trouble getting the curtain to stay up.

“Yes, come on Rarity, you can do this. It’s only a simple flower, I just have to hold up the curtain while trying to move the flower.” She tried once more to pin up the flower, but the curtain was not having it. With a clatter, the fabric began to fall, putting the rest of the decorations at risk for being smashed into pieces. Rarity shrieked, scrambling to use her magic to hold up it up.

Kaleb reacted quickly, reaching his hand out to use the Force. Rarity managed to grab one end with her magic while Kaleb took the other. They both managed to pull the curtain back up, reattaching it to the hooks. Rarity had a look of confusion on her face, trying to figure out where the extra help had come from until she heard a familiar voice.

“You might need a helping hoof to finish those decorations, or hand in this case.” Rarity turned around quickly, gasping in shock as she screamed his name. She began to run towards him, with Kaleb staggering into one of the seats. “Wait, stop! Don’t run, please walk.” Slowing down, she walked up towards him, and Kaleb stood back up.

“Is it okay if I hug you?” She asked, looking concerned. Kaleb nodded, and she pulled him into a hesitant hug, with Kaleb indicating after a few seconds to let go. “I’m terribly sorry about that, Kaleb. I didn’t know how to react. What are you doing here?”

“It’s okay, it’s just I can’t have any sudden movements or noises coming towards me. I came here actually to buy a ticket for the play on Saturday. They apparently sold pretty quickly, so I came over here as fast as I could. I see your putting the finishing touches on the decorations.”

Rarity nodded. “The curse of being a designer is always trying to get it just perfect. I’m trying to get these things done before Saturday so I don’t have to worry about it then. I actually have a ticket for you that Twilight bought. I was going to drop it off at the castle.” After giving him the envelope with the ticket, she paused and hesitated before she spoke again. “We’re all supporting you, no matter what. Fluttershy told us what happened and why you left. I hope I’m not crossing any boundries, but why did you come here precisely?”

Kaleb thought for a second before replying. “Well, there was someone else I met up here after I crashed who saw some warning signs at the Gala. He’s trained in psychiatry, so it only made sense. I’ve been doing a variety of things to help, and they seem to be working. I can’t tell you anything else right now, I’m afraid.”

“No darling, it’s okay. I’m glad that whatever you are doing is helping you. Speaking of which, I need your help with a few things, including getting this last flower onto the curtain and helping me with the bouquet orders for all of the cast. I filled them out partially, I just need your help with the colors. It should be something that reflects the season while also showing the importance of friendship.”

She led him to the front of the stage, and he saw that the curtain was still dangling slightly. Using the Force, he held the curtain steady while Rarity secured the final flower. With her help as well, they secured the final ring on the corner to its hook on one of the tracks, closing the latch on it so it would not fall again. She then handed him the order form for the florist, which was on a clipboard along with a quill. Kaleb began to fill out the colors, taking into consideration Rarity’s words. He chose the traditional colors of red and green, along with some grand colors of silver and gold for the tissue paper they would be wrapped in, which were for the ornamentations against the darker green background. He handed back the form to Rarity, who handed him a glass of water. “I did my best with it, but you are more of the expert.”

“I guess so,” Rarity said, looking over his color choices as he began to take a sip. “But your choices are good. I like the use of red and pine green for the flowers, along with the silver and gold for the tissue paper. But I would change the pine green to something else, since it would be too dark to show the ornamentations. Perhaps, a turquoise should suffice. It does match Fluttershy’s eyes.”

Kaleb spluttered, choking as the water went down the wrong pipe. Coughing, he responded as he put his hand to his mouth. “Sorry, did you just say…it matches Fluttershy’s eyes?”

Rarity formed a small smile. “Yes, I did. You know, I knew you had quite the eye for color. So, how long have you had feelings for her?”

Kaleb looked confused with an edge of annoyance in his voice. “I don’t know what you are talking about. Actually, I admit that was clever with the water, catching me off my guard. But I have no idea.” He felt his heart rate start to go up slightly.

“You know, I saw the way you two were looking at each other. Both in the carriage and in the gardens. That was quite the dance.” Rarity explained, softening the tone of her voice slightly. “It’s okay, Kaleb. Your secret is safe with me. Now, can you please be honest with me? For your friend?” She unleashed her look of sadness onto Kaleb.

“Okay, those eyes are very effective. Perhaps I do have feelings for her,” Kaleb sighed, his cheeks slightly red. They both sat down in the front row. “I like her a lot, more than just a friend. It was the night of the last big thunderstorm, when I was helping her out with Philomena. She helped calm me when I was having a panic attack, and she took my hand. I showed her a device called a map reader, which projects the various stars and planets into the sky. She fell asleep as I was explaining, but I saw the way the stars reflected in her eyes and dappled her mane. I don’t know why, but in that moment felt something I had never felt before.”

Rarity wiped away a small tear from her eye. “That’s a wonderful story, Kaleb. Love is just more than a physical attraction, it’s as if someone who understands you emotionally and can be whether the storms no matter what. Some say that it’s the most powerful thing in the world. I’ve read a lot of stories with love and romance, as you can tell.”

“You don’t say,” Kaleb said with a hint of amusement, before sighing and speaking with a conflicted tone. “It’s complicated, for reasons that I can’t go into. But other than those reasons, what I can tell you is that I’ve never had these feelings before for anypony or anybody. What if she doesn’t feel the same way, or what if I say the wrong thing at the wrong time? I’m getting most of my advice from this from the films that I’ve borrowed from the Princesses along with a small projector.”

Rarity looked at Kaleb with wisdom in her eyes. “I think she feels the same way about you, and even if she doesn’t, you still have a friend. You will know when the right time is, that I can only tell you. And some of those films can be a little unrealistic at times, but they are fun and sometimes show what love is. Honestly, the best advice I can give you is to talk to her and be honest. Communication is essential, and a little goes a long way. Also, dressing the right way as well can add to the moment.”

Kaleb shivered a little. “As you can tell, I’m barely prepared for the winter as is, and I don’t have the bits to buy any winter clothes. I’ve managed to get by in my fall jacket by layering, but just barely. Everything here is so expensive.”

“I can take you shopping for the right clothes, both for the weather and for Saturday night,” Rarity exclaimed, a look of ingenuity forming on her face. “I will pay for everything, and don’t you even dare suggest otherwise, darling. By the time we’re done, you’ll have the right clothes to sweep her off her hooves!”

Kaleb smiled with a look of surprise. “Thank you, that would be very much appreciated. But I don’t think a tuxedo or a suit is right for me. At the Gala, I felt really constricted and uncomfortable. I was hoping for something a little more comfortable, while still being dressed up and appropriate for the evening.”

Rarity thought, looking at Kaleb and muttering some things to herself. “I have an idea for your look. It will reflect the season and the event, while being a little more comfortable for you. It’s a risk, but throwback designs are becoming more and more popular. Tell me, how would you feel about this…”

Kaleb walked up to the doors of restaurant, making sure that the address was the same that Rarity had given him along with the time of their reservation, for which he was running late. It was supposed to be a small meal, just the Mane Six and him, before the show started. The restaurant was right by the theater so they would just walk over to the back entrance to get ready while Kaleb would go in through the front doors.

He admired his look in the mirror, reminding himself to thank Rarity for the amazing ensemble. He wore a dark blue winter jacket that was the same shade as his robes, which had a faux fur lining on the top which surrounded his neck and shoulders. Under that, he had a beige turtleneck, which matched the lining, with a dark blue vest over it. That kept it from hanging down too low. The pants were also the same shade of blue, which paired nicely with his brown boots, which had been recently polished.

Pausing, Kaleb took some calm breaths before entering the restaurant. Rarity had assured him that the food would be okay for him, and that she would pass on the message about sudden movements or noises. He winced in pain as he felt his right-hand throb, the bandages covering the injury swelling up slightly. As long as I take some pain medication before dinner, I should be okay. I’ll need to change these bandages as soon as I get back. At least the burn isn’t too bad, but I should really be more careful next time. He entered the restaurant to find a hostess who immediately led him back to a table near the fireplace.

Twilight, Spike, Rarity, Rainbow Dash, Applejack, and Pinkie Pie all waved at him as he found his way to his chair next to between Rarity and Applejack. Taking off his coat and hat, he set them on the back of the chair and sat down.

Twilight spoke up first. “Kaleb, we’re so glad to see you. Thank you for joining us, and like Rarity said we are all your friends and are supporting you no matter what.”

“Thank you, for being so thoughtful,” Kaleb began, addressing the table. “I can’t tell you how much this means to me. I know that you all have questions about what has been happening, and I’ll say what I can. Things have been getting better slightly, through a combination of methods including a low-stress environment. While some things may never be as they once were, I am still doing fine and still the same person. But please, this evening isn’t about me, it’s about all of you and all the hard work you have put into this production which I am looking forward to. Speaking of which, where is Fluttershy?”

“She had an emergency with Angel and is running a little bit late,” Rainbow Dash chimed in. “Don’t worry, she said that she should still be here in time for dinner, in like ten seconds flat. What happened to your hand?”

He noticed that the others were staring at the bandages. “It’s nothing, really. I just had an accident a few days ago. There are some scars from the burns, but it’s just healing right now. I can assure you that I won’t need any assistance, I can use the Force if necessary.”

The waiter came and brought over small bowls of salad with dried cranberries and walnuts, along with small slices of pears. Kaleb used the Force to lift his fork and began to eat the salad, looking out at the window as the various conversation began. Rarity saw what he was doing with great interest, and they began to talk in a small voice. “I have an idea. When Fluttershy gets here, I’m sure she would want a piece of the pear. You can lift one up using the Force and send it her way, and she will catch it on her fork That would be so romantic.”

“But a little cheesy, don’t you think?” Kaleb countered, fixing her with a look of amusement. “It’s like talking about how you don’t like sand on a date. It’s more awkward than romantic.”

Rarity nodded. “True. But I guess you can make anything sound romantic.” She saw how uncomfortable he was becoming with this. “I’ll stop, but you’re going to be fine. Just be yourself.”

He continued to listen to the conversation as the main courses were delivered. The restaurant specialized with pasta, and you could customize your order. “I ordered for you Kaleb, I hope you don’t mind,” Twilight called out as the server was moving around. “The meatballs are vegetarian, I checked.”

“Thanks Twilight! These truly indeed look delicious.” Kaleb replied as he smelled the fresh smell of the tomato sauce cooked and seasoned with various hints of oregano and basil. The server came by with some freshly grated parmesan and grated a moderate amount onto his plate, which was more than usual. Well, since this is a special occasion, I might as well indulge a little.

For the next twenty minutes, he listened to the mares telling stories about the work that they had put into the production, much to Kaleb’s interest. He often asked questions about what went into the work behind the scenes, including memorizing lines and cues along with the background sets and scenery. As Kaleb listened, he found himself grabbing his hand as it throbbed, realizing that he had forgotten to take the pain medication. Realizing there was no waiter in sight, he excused himself from the table to go to the restroom.

As he was getting up from the table, another pony was approaching the table, and Kaleb realized that it was Fluttershy. She was wearing the turquoise cloak that he had seen before, along with a small scarf. They both stared at each other for a moment, with Fluttershy giving him a small smile, and Kaleb’s only response was a small hello and a wave. Kaleb stood there for a second, then he snapped out of it and began to walk to the restroom.

After taking the medication, he rejoined them where dessert had been served, much to Pinkie’s delight. It was a cake in the shape of a log, with chocolate buttercream wrapped around it, and decorations made to look like naturally occurring objects around a tree like mushrooms and small branches, along with fresh berries. The frosting had been made to look like bark. Everypony took a slice including Kaleb, who found himself enjoying the conversation and beginning to relax even with Fluttershy at the table. They occasionally exchanged small glances at each other, with each glance resulting in a small blush. As they left for the theater, Rarity had remarked to everyone that Kaleb seemed to have really enjoyed dessert.

The play had been a smashing success, as the many ponies filed out of the theater, and Kaleb waited for his friends at the entrance. He was enthralled with the level of skill and production design involved, and having never heard the story before, was fascinated with all of the history between the different types of ponies. The Mane six exited through the doors a few minutes later, and they spent some time together discussing how much fun they had, holding their bouquets in hand.

Finally, noticing that many of them were yawning, Twilight clapped her hooves together. “We should be getting back to our hotel, but it was great to see you Kaleb, and all of us look forward to seeing you back in Ponyville soon.”

“It was my pleasure, Twilight. You know, I though that Princess Celestia would let you stay in the castle.”

Twilight waved her hoof. “Unfortunately, she has so many guests visiting from all around Equestria this time of year, that it can be difficult to spare any rooms. It’s okay, it’s a really good hotel on the other side of Canterlot.”

Kaleb smiled, but then swore under his breath as he felt his hand begin to throb. As the others began to leave, Fluttershy whispered something to Twilight and handed her the bouquet. Twilight nodded and waved as she and the others left, leaving only the two of them. Fluttershy approached Kaleb, indicating toward his hand and took it gingerly as he nodded.

“Oh my, what happened to your hand?” She asked, looking concerned. “I was worried that something may have happened…”

Kaleb responded in a reassuring voice. “It’s okay, nothing like that happened. It was just an accident that happened when I was working on something for my treatment. Dr. Bluejay bandaged it right up. It just hurts a lot, and they need to be changed.”

“I can help you it if that’s okay. I just need to make sure you’re okay.”

He nodded. “I have bandages back where I’m staying. It’s not that far of a walk from here.” They began to walk towards the castle, side by side as they exchanged glances with each other. Finally, it was Kaleb who broke the silence. “So, I hear that you had an emergency back in Ponyville. Is Angel okay?”

“He just has a little bit of a cold. Poor thing, probably got it playing outside,” Fluttershy responded, looking around at the decorations in the windows before looking back at him. “There’s no fever, but he does have a nasty cough. He was in bed resting.” She hesitated before asking. “I got the letter from Dr. Bluejay, but it didn’t explain what was happening in detail. I know you’ve been through a lot, so if you don’t want to talk about what’s been happening with you…"

“No, it’s okay. I can talk about it now,” Kaleb explained quickly, looking back at her. “Talking about it always helps, like it’s normal. Dr. Bluejay says that I have something called post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD for short. There are many who have it, including those who have been through combat or any other traumatic experience. It often involves reliving the events through flashbacks, whether it be through nightmares or hallucinations, as well as a sense of paranoia.”

Fluttershy nodded. “At least you are not alone, or the only one who has it. Is there any type of cure or treatment?”

“There is no definite cure for it at the moment, but I have been receiving treatment,” he said as they arrived at the castle grounds. With a nod to one of the guards, the gate was opened, and they walked through with Kaleb leading her around the castle. “I’ve been taking medication, which can help with the symptoms including the hallucinations and anxiety. Therapy also helps, and I’m going to two different types: one individual and one with a group of others who have been in combat. Just in general, trying to keep a low stress environment has helped. Ah, we’re here!”

They had arrived at a small bunker, which looked more like a garage on the outside than anything else. “Trust me, it’s a lot better than it looks.” Producing a small key from inside of his jacket, he unlocked the door and held it open for Fluttershy as he followed her inside.

The inside had more of a feeling of a small apartment than anything else. There was a small living room, with a few chairs and a couch with a bed that folded inside of it. There were various books on the end tables, along with more than a few film reels with a projector on the main table in between the chairs and tables. On the other side of the room, there was a small wall the separated the two sides, and it held a small kitchen area with a sink and cabinets, with a door leading to the bathroom and another leading into another room. The small table held a jigsaw puzzle that was nearing completion.

“It looks nice, I suppose, but I still don’t understand. Couldn’t Princess Celestia give you a room in the castle?” Fluttershy asked, raising her eyebrow a little.

“She initially offered me a room, but after talking about it with Dr. Bluejay I though it wasn’t a good idea. There were so many ponies coming in and out of the castle every day that it would have been difficult to keep my treatment a secret. Also, there are a lot of noises in the halls that could trigger flashbacks. This is not too isolated, but it’s a little quieter.” Kaleb opened a cabinet and brought out the bandages along an antibiotic ointment. “I just need to run cold water again and reapply the ointment before rebandaging.”

Fluttershy nodded. She turned on the water as Kaleb removed the bandages, wincing a little at the pain. Running it through the cold water, he dried it quickly before putting on the ointment. She wrapped the hand in bandages tenderly, making sure that it was staying properly with her hooves lingering on it. Looking at the hand, she had a satisfied smile on her face. “There we go, that’s all better. Part of me is starting to like this place, it must be very cozy. Although, the pile of film reels is starting to match the yarn in my knitting chamber.”

Kaleb chuckled as he ran unbandaged his hand through his hair. “Most of them are borrowed from the castle. It’s nice to have some entertainment other than books, and there was nothing like this in my universe. I love the stories that these movies tell, of adventure and drama and romance. They really tell you something about Equestrian history.” As he put away the bandages and ointment, he indicated towards the door leading into another room. “There’s something that I want to show you in there. It’s something that me and Celestia have been working on as part of my treatment. You just have to promise not to tell the others, especially Rainbow Dash. If she knew what I had in there, I would never hear the end of it.”

“Oh my, it must be something really special,” Fluttershy replied, looking perplexed. “Don’t worry, I’ll keep it a secret. I would love to see it.”

“As you wish.” Kaleb smiled as he pointed his open hand toward the door. She giggled, blushing slightly. Opening the door slightly, he waited for her to get out of her chair before moving into the dark room. Once she had closed the door, he turned on the lantern on the side of the wall, which lit up the whole room.

The ship had a large length at around twenty-six feet, with it standing at around five feet and spanning twelve feet, leaving only a yard around it to maneuver. It was triangular in shape, with a navy-blue coloring on the wings and cockpit, with a space left for an astromech droid in font. Raised slightly, the cockpit had glass showing off a variety of switches and buttons, with a fin going off of the back. The two sides of the ship were lowered slightly at an angle, and there was a symbol of the Republic on the left side from where they were standing. There were four cannons, two above the hull and two underneath it, along with a variety of exposed wires and switches from the panels which were propped up on the other side.

Fluttershy gasped in amazement as she stared at the ship. “Is this the ship that you crashed in?”

Kaleb nodded. “This was the ship that I took when I was fleeing Coruscant. Although not the exact same one, this was the starfighter that I flew during the Clone Wars. It’s a Delta-7B Aethersprite light class interceptor, with a flight time of around five hours without refueling. It was capable of lightspeed travel.” He noticed her confused look. “That means going faster than the speed of light. Although, to go lightspeed you would need a hyperspace docking ring which would hook up to it.”

“This is amazing, and in really good condition for being crashed,” She exclaimed as she flew upwards around the ship, circling it before coming back down. “I’m just a little confused. How working on this with Princess Celestia therapeutic?”

“Princess Luna managed to slow down the ship enough to stop any major damage from occurring from the engines, but it was battered from the impact and the damage from the cannons that fired at it,” Kaleb explained, pointing out where some pieces were dented and scarred with burn marks. “Princess Celestia and Dr. Bluejay came up with the idea of fixing this as a way to keeping my hands busy so that I could focus my thoughts, but also as kind of a metaphor for myself. It may look fine on the outside, but there was a lot of damage on the inside. By fixing what is inside, those repairs will help on the outside and make it whole and working.”

Fluttershy pointed hesitantly towards the cannons, her voice reflecting that in the same. “That’s a good method. Do those cannons actually work?”

Kaleb paused for a moment, and then laughed. "I can say that they do in fact work. When I was first working on this, I was disconnecting some of the wires in the cockpit and connecting a few to see if the systems would work. I must have connected the wrong wires, and the cannons fired and the blasts hit the garage door. The force of it drove it right off its restraints and blasted it into the air landing around ten feet away. Dr. Bluejay was furious at first and thought it was irresponsible that there were no precautionary measures taken when designing it. He forced me to put a safety switch near the trigger so that it wouldn’t happen again.”

“Well, that’s certainly good to remember,” Fluttershy said, laughing softly at the story. “Do you think that it will be able to fly, or even go into space?”

Thinking hard for a moment, Kaleb pondered the question before answering it. “Into the air; maybe but definitely not into space. I would have to wait for the winter to die down before attempting any type of flight especially with the winds. There’s a seal between the cockpit and the rest of the ship that keeps it airtight in space. It could have been broken with the crash. Princess Celestia and I have repaired it enough so that it will be good in the air, but I would not want to try to go into space in this thing. Besides, I have everything that I hold dear to me right here in Equestria.”

Fluttershy nodded, blushing slightly at that last sentence. “All of us are leaving tomorrow for Ponyville, so I don’t have much time to spend with you. Maybe we can wander around Canterlot a little on the way back to the hotel?”

Kaleb paused for a moment before exclaiming with joy. “Of course, I would love to. There’s this one place on the way that makes fantastic hot chocolate. We could stop by there.”

“That sounds wonderful. I’ve never explored much around Canterlot, so it will be a bit of an adventure.” As Kaleb and she walked back into the main room, she added something under her breath. “A wonderful adventure.”

It took a few minutes for Kaleb to sort out some things, but it was not long before they departed the bunker, with him locking the door before going out. With a nod to the guard, they stepped off into the night, taking in the night sky as they strolled down the lane. It was a beautiful night for an adventure, with the celebrations of Hearth’s Warming in full swing. The lights in the stores were open, their displays full of decorations and gifts waiting to be bought. The street lamps held wreaths and garlands twisting their way down the poles. The street and was slightly empty but still had their fair share of carriages being pulled and pedestrians trotting across the square.

Kaleb and Fluttershy stared at all of the displays as they walked, in awe as they took in the excitement. Once in a while, they would bump into each other. This resulted with a muttered apology from Fluttershy and Kaleb accepting it, the both of them blushing in what could be debated because of the cold or something else. Arriving at a crosswalk, they crossed into a smaller section of Canterlot, away from the richness of the main street and into a smaller and more homely section. They stopped several times to admire the view of a particular display in the window of a home or the performances on the corners of the streets or on the stoops of the buildings.

There were two performances that they stopped for. One featured a pony with an afro and sunglasses wearing a black winter coat playing a red trumpet along with a saxophonist, guitarist, and drummer with a snare and bass drum backing him up. A sign was propped up in the trumpeter’s case that said Feed the Starving Musician. They listened to the performance for a little bit before putting in some bits and moving by. The second performance was by a group of young ponies singing in a chorus with the familiar songs of Hearth’s Warming. Dressed in coats with scarves and hats, their voices were heavenly, and Fluttershy was transfixed by the angelic sounds of the choir. Kaleb looked around the crowd and saw that Thunder was among the ponies, beaming with pride at two colts which he realized must have been hers. Smiling for a moment, he focused his attention back to the colts and fillies and they finished their song to a round of applause.

They eventually made their way to the place where Kaleb was talking about, a small café called The Cloud Café in a small square with a fountain. There were small lights strung from strings attached to the streetlamps and to hooks on the striped awning, combining with the light from the streetlamps and from inside the café to create a cozy atmosphere. There were tables outside and inside where ponies were sitting, and some were dancing to the music playing from several speakers propped up on a table with more going inside. These attached to a record player which spun the vinyl inside near the wall of the small entryway an earth pony waved over to Kaleb, and began to move towards him, his pale-green coat reflecting in the light. “Kaleb! It’s good to see you. And I see you brought somepony here!”

Kaleb chuckled and embraced the pony in a hug, clapping him on the back before releasing him a few moments later. “I thought I heard your voice from a few blocks down. Fluttershy, this is Solar, he’s the owner of this café and a very supportive friend.”

Fluttershy said a small hello before hesitantly shaking his hoof. “It’s nice to meet you Solar. This is a really great café that you have.”

“It is. I got it all dressed up for Hearth’s Warming, with the lights and everything,” Solar explained, pointing out the small decorations in the windows along with the strings of lights. “It’s nothing much really, just something to make it even more cozy. So then, what can I get for you?”

Kaleb looked at Fluttershy, who said something in a small voice to him. He cleared his throat before speaking. “We’ll have two small hot chocolates with whipped cream, please.”

Solar clapped his hooves together. “Sure thing, that will be two bits.” Kaleb handed him the coins and he put them in the pocket of his coat. “I’ll have those out in less than two minutes!” He trotted away quickly. They waited and looked at the surroundings around them, taking in the atmosphere and the mood. In only a few moments, solar was back out with the hot chocolates in white travel cups with lids, each decorated with red and green patterns of the season. “You two enjoy! I’ve been telling him that this was a great place to bring a date.”

Before either of them could react, he went back into the café. Kaleb chuckled, coughing to hide the fact that his face was burning up along with Fluttershy’s . “He’s been saying that for a while, I guess this must have made his night.” He raised his cup in her direction. “To friends and adventure?”

“To friends and adventure,” Fluttershy replied, touching their cups as they took a small sip, leaning against a small half wall. There was a moment of silence between them she spoke. “I love the season of Hearth’s Warming. From all of the traditions to the performances and the snow, nothing is able to top it. This reminds me of what my family would do when I was a filly. We would all have hot chocolate together, in mugs that my mom would make. She’s an artisan who does pottery along with so many other arts, selling them in the market. We would gather around the tree and sing carols or sharing storing and admiring the tree. We would then make our way up to the point in Canterlot that I talked about and stargaze, admiring all of the winter constellations and the Northern Star. My dad would tell Hearth’s Warming stories that came from those stars. Did you have anything like Hearth’s Warming?”

“There were various traditions on different planets with some cultures, but none were widespread beyond their home world,” Kaleb recalled. “Your family sounds wonderful, and it seems like they have their own traditions.”

Fluttershy nodded. “My brother can sometimes be a little overdramatic, but I’ve learned how to deal with him. My dad works at the weather plant where they produce the weather, and he’s always talking to us about the formation of the clouds as a supervisor. It’s honestly fascinating, and he is hoping to retire in a few years, or at least step down and become a tour guide because of his knowledge.”

The music stopped for a moment as Solar switched out records and a new song began to play. This featured a mare beginning to sing slowly and softly, singing about the season of Hearth’s Warming, including the winter and the snow, and how a fireplace blossoms and brings ponies together. Kaleb set his hot chocolate on the ledge of the wall and walked to stand in front of Fluttershy, holding out his bandaged right hand. “The night is still young, and alive with the sounds of Hearth’s Warming. Mademoiselle Fluttershy, may I have this dance?” He bowed slightly on the last line.

Fluttershy blushed and set down her hot chocolate. “I would love to, Monsieur Taymar.” The both of them giggled slightly as they walked to the dance floor. They assumed the same position as they did in the gala, but instead of waltzing, they swayed slowly along to the music, staying mostly in one place. The change in style made it so they were closer then they had been before. Fluttershy noticed this change. “This change in dancing styles really brings us closer together than our previous dance.”

“The judges may give us less points on style, but more points on emotion,” Kaleb joked softly. “If I may say so, you are a fantastic dancer.”

“Thank you,” Fluttershy replied, looking into Kaleb’s eyes, glancing at something that he could not see “Before the Gala, no other pony has ever asked me to dance with them before. I was always to shy to ask, and the others always thought my dancing was strange.”

Kaleb look with sympathy and then with kindness. “Strange? You are one of the best dancers I have ever seen, Fluttershy and never let anypony tell you otherwise. Dancing with you is…”

He didn’t get to finish that compliment, as he and Fluttershy both looked up. Snow had started to fall, and he saw her face light up in the biggest smile he had seen all evening. She batted playfully at the snow as they continued to dance, with Kaleb smiling as he saw her joy. The song ended a few moments later on a major chord with the strings, and they slowed down until they were simply standing there, unsure of what to do next. Solar clapped and walked over to them. “I see that the spirit of the evening is alive and well.”

Fluttershy had with a hint of amusement in her voice. “It truly is, and I can say that this date is a success.” She winked at Kaleb, who chuckled, rolling his eyes slightly. “Thank you for adding more to this evening. I was just wondering where the gate leads to over there, near the two buildings?” She pointed it out to him, where only streetlamp and the two hanging lanterns illuminated the entryway.

Solar smiled. “You seem to have discovered a hidden secret of Canterlot, Fluttershy. That is the Luminescent Gardens, where the view of Equestria cannot be put into words. It’s usually not that crowded this hour.”

Kaleb’s eyes widened, remembering what Dr. Bluejay had told him. His thoughts were interrupted by her. “Kaleb, is it okay if we go? I would love to see the view.”

Taking a few seconds to think, he responded in a small, nervous voice. “Yes, of course. That would be lovely.” Fluttershy had to literally take his hand, leading them towards the gate as he saw Solar looking at the two of them, laughing and shaking his head, Kaleb took deep breaths and tried to calm his thoughts as they approached the gate. It’s okay, remember what Rarity said. Just be honest and tell her how you feel. Though, it is part of the adventure after all.

Slipping through the entrance, they walked in silence as they both took in the sight, guided by the lanterns on each side of the path. It was a slow walk, with flowers appearing to be blooming even in the middle of winter to both of their amazement. The colors were indicative of the season, with various shades of red, green, gold, and silver appearing in the colors, defying all expectations. It seemed that all logic was out the window, and that imagination and adventure had taken hold.

Kaleb began to notice that she had moved closer to him, almost leaning on him as they strolled slowly, only breaking to catch a snowflake. His heart began to beat in his chest loudly, and he felt a feeling that he had only felt before when they had finished dancing at the gala. Breathing deeply, he decided that it would be best to embrace this feeling and began to enjoy the moment.

The two came upon a bench near where the path was closest to the edge, and they sat underneath the wooden arch which had a small roof on top of the ends. The crisscross pattern of the walls was filled with vines with flowers that appeared not to bloom. Once settled, they looked out at the view, and Fluttershy gasped with astonishment. The winter sky was as clear as any view from the highest point of the castle, and showed a vast landscape of Equestria, with every peak and valley being visible. The sky was more than the black that Kaleb was used to; it was a dark blue with hints of lighter blues and various shades of purple, maybe with a hint of green or yellow. Millions of stars twinkled in the sky, creating a sparkling effect that added to the canvas of the night.

Kaleb look equally as astonished. “I’ve been to many sights, but I have never seen anything like this in my life.”

Fluttershy turned back to him, wiping back tears. “It’s just like the stars near Cloudsdale, Kaleb. This is one of the greatest Hearth’s Warming gifts I have ever gotten. Thank you.” She hugged him tightly, wrapping her wings around him as he returned the favor. They held on tight for several seconds as the snowfall began to increase, and then let go.

Kaleb looked and saw the snow in her mane and fur, along with those turquoise eyes staring back at him with compassion. So, this is what it feels like, Kaleb thought, remembering what Master Johanna had told him about how she felt for that person. “This has been a great adventure we have had together, with a journey filled with mystery, adventure, and dancing.”

“Just like some of the movies you’ve watched,” Fluttershy responded, looking at Kaleb as she softened her voice. “I had a book when I was a filly, that was one of my favorites. It had all of these wonderful places in Equestria, places with so many animals and creatures that can open any imagination to the world. I used to escape all of the teasing, and I swore that one day I would visit all of those places. I dreamed that the stars would be my guide and take me there.” Her voice added a hint of sadness. “My shyness and fears have always gotten in the way, even though I enjoy being an introvert. But then something changed, and I began to feel that sense of adventure once again.”

He nodded. “Destiny can be a funny thing. The stars can lead us to many places, and the stories that they tell can be amazing.” He hesitated, wondering if he should say it. “The spirit of the stars twinkles in the eyes of everyone, no matter who they are. I see that same sparkle every time I look in your eyes.”

Fluttershy let out a small eep, blushing as she smiled softly. “That’s the nicest thing that anypony has ever said to me, Kaleb. I don’t know what to say.” She paused as she gathered her thoughts. “Maybe there are more adventures that I could go on.”

Before Kaleb could get a chance to respond, a clock sounded, the bell tolling loud throughout the garden. All at once, the flowers around them began to glow, their colors of the season fitting together like the tones of bells combined together to create a chorus of harmony. Both of them gasped at the same time as the flowers on the walls of the arch began to bloom, not only bringing their colors to life but releasing buds around them that glowed a pale gold. The buds seemed to float in the air around them like stars, surrounding them in a cocoon of light. Right above them, they saw something else begin to glow, or perhaps it was just the buds surrounding them. A plant was hanging, with pointed leaves and red berries.

“What is that plant?” Kaleb wondered aloud, looking up before looking back at Fluttershy. “It seems so familiar, but I can’t remember…”

“It’s mistletoe,” Fluttershy responded quieter, smiling. The two of them moved closer together, drawn in by the lights surrounding them. “There’s one adventure that I have always wanted to go on, but never had the chance until now.

Kaleb’s heart was thumping fast, as he breathed in shallowly. He took her hooves and found himself staring back into her turquoise eyes and seeing that there were snowflakes in her mane and coat that almost seemed to sparkle in the light. Yet, he found himself calming down as he stared back at her, following her breathing as his heart rate calmed. “What adventure is that?” Their faces were only inches apart, and Kaleb could only see the pools of turquoise that drew him in.

She whispered her response. “Take me to the stars.” And with that, their lips met.

The kiss was like something out of a dream, which took Kaleb out of all reality. He felt the passion of the moment and embraced it. She smelled like wildflowers, and her wings wrapped around the both of them, bringing them closer. It only lasted a few moments, but felt like it could go on forever, passing on emotions. They released, and Fluttershy folded her wings back, as they both stared back up at the stars.

Kaleb was at a loss for words at first, before shaking his head to clear it. “Wow…that was wonderful…I can’t even put it into words. But I think we both need to talk about this, just so that we’re on the same page. I don’t mean to ruin the moment, but this is…a lot.”

“It’s okay, I know it is. It just happened in the moment,” Fluttershy responded, looking back at Kaleb. “A lot has been said without words. I think it’s clear that the both of us have feelings for each other, more than just friends.”

“I have those same emotions as well. How long have you had those feelings? I’m genuinely curious, that’s all.”

Fluttershy thought for a moment, a gaze of nostalgia and dreaminess in her eyes. “It was when I first met you, back in the bakery. There was something there, but I didn’t know it at the time. Over the few weeks that we spent time together, I began to wonder if there was something more, wondering why I looked forward to seeing your face every time. It may have been your kindness to the animals, or just your fascination with the world that brought me closer. However, the moment when I realized I had those feelings for you were back at the Gala, when the two of us were dancing together. It brought back that sense of adventure that I hadn’t felt in a long time, along with compassion that I knew would protect me no matter my fears or shyness.”

“It remembers that moment fondly, especially seeing that wonder in your eyes,” Kaleb remembered, looking back at her with care. “For me, it was back during that thunderstorm, when you were calming me down from the panic attack. After you were asleep, I left the map reader on for a few moments, and I saw the way the lights reflected on your mane and coat, and how your ears and wings would flutter gently with each breath. Just seeing that kindness and compassion made the storm feel miles away, and that I would be safe.” He cast his left hand out towards the stars. “The Jedi Code forbid love or any romantic attachments. When I started having these feelings, I didn’t know what to think, only that they were wonderful and that I wanted them to last. But then the bad things happened, bringing memories that I thought I would never have to relive back to the surface. When you saved me from the Timberwolves in the forest that night, I could not understand why you would risk your life to save mine until tonight. I know that this may sound a little bit cheesy, but I never knew what love was until I met you.”

Fluttershy wiped back tears. “I’m touched beyond words, Kaleb. Maybe the question is what’s going to happen now and in the future? Do you want to be coltfriend and marefriend?”

“Yes, more than anything in the galaxy I would,” Kaleb exclaimed, a light of inspiration in his eyes, followed by uncertainty. “But there is the reality of the situation. We’re not the same species, but that isn’t as important, I guess. I’m not sure how common interspecies relationship are in Equestria, but they were normal in the galaxy.”

“They’re actually pretty common here,” she explained. “They’re aren’t many around Ponyville, but in the bigger places like Canterlot or Manehattan there are a lot.”

Kaleb sighed, trying to figure out how to explain this next one. “My last concern is something more related to myself. PTSD isn’t something that can be cured over a few weeks or even a few months, Fluttershy. This is something that I will have to live with for the rest of my life. If we embark on this adventure, it won’t be easy and there will be challenges. I guess my question for you is, would you still be able to love me even though I have this?”

Fluttershy drew him into a tight hug, kissing him on the cheek. “Don’t you ever say that, Kaleb. I love you, and we will get through this together as a couple.” She released him, looking back at the stars before asking. “How much longer are you going to be staying in Canterlot?”

“Actually, it won’t be that long. I’m meeting with Dr. Bluejay on Monday for a final assessment, and if everything goes well he’ll clear me to head back to Ponyville. I would have to see my therapist once a week for outpatient care; she has an office there so I wouldn’t have to commute back and forth.”

“That’s wonderful! It will be great to have you back there so soon,” she exclaimed before a flash of confusion entered into her voice. “What are you going to do for Hearth’s Warming? I know that Twilight, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, and Pinkie are going away to visit their families?”

Kaleb looked surprised. “They are? To be honest, I have no idea of what I’m going to do. I know that Applejack is probably going to be staying in Ponyville, but a lot of their family is coming over. I’m sure they would love to have me there, but I’m just worried with the number of ponies that are going to be there that it would be too much for me.”

Fluttershy nodded, thinking before asking her question. “I have an idea. How would you like to spend Hearth’s Warming with me and my family in Cloudsdale? It would quiet since it would just be my parents and brother, and it would give you a chance to see Cloudsdale.”

Kaleb’s response had a hint of amusement. “Meeting the parents already? That seems to be a little fast. All jokes aside, that sounds wonderful and I would love to meet your family.” Kaleb looked at his pocket watch. “It’s getting late, or early in the morning I should say. We should probably be going back to your hotel. I can find my way back to the castle from there.”

“You’re probably right. Let’s head out.” They both took one last look at the stars, and began to walk out of the garden.

Author's Note:

Hi everyone! I really enjoyed writing this chapter, especially the romance between Fluttershy and Kaleb. Love is truly an adventure. One of my favorite parts of writing this was putting in the film references, especially the ones relating to the holiday season. My challenge for you is to figure out who the pony trumpeter is and what film he is from. Please put your answers in the comments below. As always, may the Force be with you!

Edited by Menace of the Mines