• Published 14th Jun 2018
  • 5,933 Views, 72 Comments

Recuperation, Relaxation, Realisation - Cackling Moron



Recovering from a freak teleporter accident is a lot easier when your best friend insists on helpling you.

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Fumbling at the obvious

Author's Note:

So much talking! Ye Gods! But that's sort of the point, I suppose. If you didn't like it you wouldn't be here.

Ah, I better be able to make the payoff for all this worthwhile, though. That's going to be interesting.

Still! Aside from being riddled with typos things seemed to be ticking along nicely.

The details of my dream were fuzzy, but I had the impression it wasn’t a happy one.

This still did not make the curtains whipping open and the room flooding with sunlight any more welcome.

“Morning!” Said my self-appointed carer Rainbow Dash, trotting from the freshly-opened curtains to my beside and - I could just about see while squinting - smiling broadly at me. How could anyone be so chirpy so early?

“Oh my God, is that the sun? Why...why is it so low in the sky?” I asked, trying in vain to escape.

“It’s not even that early! I’ve been up for hours waiting for you. Couldn’t take it anymore. It was lonely,” Rainbow said with a pout.

“That’s...I don’t...can’t…” I mumbled, then opening one eye as I ran through again what she’d just said. “Lonely?”

She drew circles on the floorboards with her hoof.

“It’s quiet when you’re asleep…”

I noticed that she was still wearing the nurse outfit, but I decided not to comment on it this time. Clearly it was something she wanted to keep up, and who was I to argue? It was, after all, a very cute look on her.

I also noticed a sudden, overwhelming desire to seize her and cuddle her. Poor, lonely girl! Not on my watch! But I fought down this urge. Didn’t have enough energy anyway.

Instead, I just sat up in bed. Not as easy as it sounded in my head, but I got it done.

“We’ve never stayed over before, have we? At each other’s.” I asked.

“Well, you can’t come to my house,” Rainbow said. I’d quite forgotten about that.

She’d told me about her house. Made of clouds, in the clouds. And big. And awesome. Had columns and all sorts, she said. And a tortoise. It sounded pretty fucking cool and the fact that it was too unsafe for me to go there was still a sore point.

Pegasus could just straight-up walk on clouds, which was no harder to believe than the fact they were also in charge of controlling the weather. I, being human, was not so lucky. There were spells and potions and such that could impart on non-pegasus the ability to walk on clouds, I’d been told, but my sketchy relationship with magic made it far too risky.

Or so I’d been told.

For whatever reason magic could never seem to get a grip on me. Sometimes it worked, sometime it didn’t, and even those fews times it did it never seemed to work as well as it should. Memorably, Twilight had once almost dropped me out of a window. So that was why I’d been given a hard no on the cloudwalking.

And why I’d never slept over at Rainbow’s. As much as I might have liked to. Can you imagine? Kickin’ all night and then just slumping over for the morning? That would have been great.

“Oh yeah,” I said, now downcast. “How come you’ve never stayed over here, then?”

“You never asked.”

“...shit. You’re right. Okay, once this is done and I’m better you and me are having a proper sleepover, right? I don’t know what we’ll do but we’ll do it. It’ll be great. Sound good?”

“Yeah!”

Genuinely I had no idea what we could do all night but I was sure we could work something out. I had time to think about it anyway. Being awake wasn’t so awful.

I stretched out and enjoyed all of those aches and bumps and bruises coming back to remind me that, yes, they were still there.

“Ow. Still though, it’s super-nice to be back in my own place. My limited experience with, uh, medical emergencies had me expecting an extended stay. Guess things are a little different here.”

Much rather be feeling beaten-up at home.

Rainbow cocked her head.

“What’s it like back where you’re from?”

Had to scratch my head for that one. Big ask.

“Would depend on where you are. Bad answer, I know, but it’s true. Where I’m from - me specifically - it’s pretty good. A bit more involved than what you guys have here, it seems. A bit less, ah, casual.”

I mused for a moment, then:

“Things used to be worse back home, obviously, but that was before my time.”

“Why? What did it used to be like?”

“Uh…”

I panicked. Through my head ran several hundred years of humours, of assuming mentally ill people were possessed, going to Bedlam and paying to watch the lunatics, bloodletting, trepanation, taking mercury and radium and other such curious piece of questionable medical history.

A broad range of examples I’ll admit, and none positive, but that was where my mind went.

Why was all of human history so terrible? I mean really. A lot of this is probably just me being a naturally morbid person but it just looked to me that a lot like the good parts of humanity were just easing up on the bad bits from time to time.

But, again, that’s probably just me. That, and being in Equestria just makes home look all the more grim by comparison.

And Rainbow was still staring at me, expecting an answer,

“Uh, it used to just be...worse,” I said, lamely and to her obvious disappointment.

“Oh,” she said.

“You really don’t want to know,” I hissed behind my hand, not wanting to just be left as the guy who gave a bad answer. For an instant she looked confused, then she got it.

“Oh! Oh. Oh okay. Let’s stick with worse. Though if I ask later will you maybe give me a few of the...less-worse bits? Just one or two?” This she asked while grinning. Grinning conspiratorially. Which - as is well known - is some of the best kind of grinning to be on the receiving end of.

Still ever-curious about the grisly stuff. Again, another reminder of just why I liked her so much. Never had I met anyone who could stand to hear me talk for so long about so little.

“Alright,” I said, giving her a scritch. “You’ll get one or two. Or three. But if you end up getting put out of joint again don’t go blaming me.”

“It’s okay, I’ll just cuddle up to you when you’re asleep and I’ll feel better in no time.”

“I don’t have to be asleep for you to do that, you know.”

“Yeah, but you’re cuter when you’re asleep.”

I probably went a little pink at that.

“Kind of you, but doubtful,” I said.

“No, really,” she said, earnestly, eyes fixed on mine. “I mean, you’re always mostly cute but when you’re snoozing and you’re all curled up you just look so peaceful and, uh...cute...yeah…”

She tailed off, still looking at me. And I was looking at her. Eye-to-eye.

This wasn’t unusual. Being buddies, we did have occasional moments of eye contact. But not like this, and not for so long. And it just kept going, and going, and going...

“Rainb-”

The tension of the moment was thoroughly deflated when someone downstairs knocked on the door. Loudly.

“I’ll get it!” Rainbow said, shooting off at speed.

What had I been about to say? I didn’t know. But I was glad I hadn’t said it, whatever it was. Would probably have put my foot in it.

Up the stairs came the sound of hooves. Ponies were just so noisy!

“You have a visitor,” Rainbow said, reappearing, and a moment after that there was lavender in the room.

“Ah! Twilight! You are alive! I was worried they might just have been stringing me along,” I said. I was only halfway joking. The suspicion had been building in my head that they’d told me she’d been fine just to keep me from worrying. Which, ironically, had started to make me worry.

Worry about nothing, as it turned out. For which I was thankful.

Twilight looked very sheepish and only fully came into the room when Rainbow ushered her. She was looking at me as though I was at death’s door, which I wasn’t, and she seemed to think that if she moved too quickly or too loudly I might shatter.

“Your lab alright?” I asked, hoping to maybe get things moving and unctured the silence that had swaddled the room. No-one laughed, so I had the horrible feeling they were both taking what I’d said seriously. Oops.

“It’s fine,” she said.

“Well. Great. I’m glad.”

Dead silence. Rainbow coughed and briefly caught my eye.

“I’ll go and make breakfast for the patient,” she said, and I got a smirk with that one.”Are you gonna be staying for breakfast Twi or…?”

“No, no, I don’t want to intrude, I just wanted to see how he was doing, that’s all.”

“Alright, well, you do that, Rainbow said, going downstairs again and leaving me and Twilight alone in the room.

A moment passed.

“So yeah-”

Twilight was over and bawling before I’d even started on the third word.

“I’m really sorry!” She wailed, half-hurling herself onto the bed and burying her face in the blanket. “I should have checked! I could have k-killed you! I’m so sorry!”

“Jesus, calm down Twilight, it’s alright,” I said, kind of wanting to comfort her but also afraid to touch her. Also mostly just wanting her to stop crying.

“But you got hurt and it was all my f-f-fault!”

“It’s fine! Accidents happen, Twilight. I’m not dead. Focus on that.”

“But you could have died!”

“We all could always have died, just - it’s fine, really. Trust me. Please,” I said, clumsily giving her a pat on the head.

This did wonders, and seemed to calm her down almost at once. Mostly through how incredibly pathetic it was, which did a good job of demonstrating how okay I was. Or maybe making the thought of me dying horribly more palatable to her. Either way.

“If you’re sure…” she sniffled, wiping her eyes on the back of a hoof.

“Totally sure. On hundred percent. No hard feelings, no nothing. Everything is fine. I’ll pat you again if that helps.”

Immediately she pulled back way from the bed and out of patting range.

“No, really. It’s fine,” she said.

Then, she glanced to the door. Downstairs, cupboard doors could be heard opening and closing. Breakfast was still being prepared. Rainbow was sure taking her time.

“Rainbow’s dressed as a nurse, huh?” Twilight asked, quietly. I smirked.

“Yeah. It’s a thing. I already made fun of her for it, it’s cool.”

“Made fun of her?”

“Well, yes? I mean, it’s a good look on her but it’s still, you know, weird. Right? Rainbow Dash? A nurse? Just, looked kind of...unexpected...you know? Didn’t see it coming.”

“I suppose I can see that,” Twilight said, in tones that suggested she and I were coming at this ‘Rainbow Dash dressed as a nurse’ thing from two very different angles. I found the whole thing low-key amusing. Twilight obviously found it...something else...

The conversation petered out then, because I had something specific I wanted to ask her but wasn’t wholly sure on how to go about it. Something that had been pecking away at the edges of my concern.

“Twilight...can I ask you something?”

“Whatever you like,” she said, smiling in that damnededly , totally sincere and friendly way that all ponies seemed to do all the time. Why couldn’t at least one give me a smile that didn’t reach the eyes? Then at least I’d feel at home for one brief moment.

I had to think of how I was going to say what I wanted to say, too. I cleared my throat. Which I did a lot, I felt. But it was a force of habit so I couldn’t do a lot about it.

“Hypothetically - I mean, you know, just for the sake of argument - if a p-pony liked - you know, like, liked liked - someone or, uh, somepony who wasn’t a, uh, pony, how would, uh-”

Fuck. What did any of that even mean? Were you still speaking English at this point? What the hell is wrong with you?

Twilight was looking at me like I’d spouted a lot of gibberish. Which was fair, because I had.

“Could you maybe run that by me again?” She asked.

I was all set to try and repeat what I’d failed to say a moment ago but, taking a second to think about it, I realised this was a waste of time. I’d had no idea what I’d meant to try and say, so there was no way it was going to work a second time.

Taking a breath, I started over.

“In a world with so many different, sentient species,” I said, dotting my hand around the blanket for emphasis and also so I wouldn’t have to look Twilight in the face as I spoke. “Where do ponies fall on...affectionate...relations between...these...species...yeah.”

That was probably about as good as it was going to get.

Twilight raised an eyebrow at me.

“Why are you asking me that?”

I shrugged as only a man who’d backed himself into a corner can shrug.

“Just, you know, hypothetical. For someone I know. I know a guy. He wants to know.”

Seamless. She’ll never guess.

Twilight gave me the single most inscrutable, unreadable look I had ever received in my mouth and was about to respond when Rainbow returned, breakfast in tow.

“Breakfast!” She declared with pride, doing the tray-slide trick again with the wings and everything.

“I love the way you do that,” I said. Because I did. It was pretty cool. She went a touch pink, which was all I could ask for, really.

Oats for breakfast, it seemed. Suited me down to the ground, because I fucking loved oats. Presumably she’d taken so long to get them upstairs deliberately, because otherwise how else could anyone take so long putting oats into a bowl?

Rather than immediately getting stuck in I looked back to Twilight, still expecting my answer, but her mouth had closed and her look was - somehow - even more unreadable than it had been before.

“I’d better go,” she said.

“But-” I started, only then to realise that even if she had been about to answer my question (which seemed unlikely anyway) I was uncomfortable about her answering it with Rainbow in the room. Not sure why. Just didn’t like the idea.

Best to leave it.

I passed off what I’d started to say as a cough. I was sickly, you know. At death’s door.

“Cough cough well, yeah, you’re probably very busy I’d expect. Don’t let us keep you here.”

“Yuh huh? You enjoy your breakfast,” she said, eyes flicking between Rainbow and me before she left.

Now that was just weird. From the look Rainbow gave her departing friend I could tell she thought so as well.

“So...what were you guys talking about?”

“You know. Catching up. She apologising for blowing me up, me saying it wasn’t a big deal. That sort of thing.”

“Oh. Right. Well. Breakfast good?”

I remembered breakfast. I hadn’t touched it.

“Looks good!” I said, tucking in. Rainbow did the thing again where she watched me eat but she was still playing caretaker so whatever. I wolfed it all down and then relaxed, watching her sweep the tray onto her back again and feeling lazy from not actuall doing anything myself.

Then, out of nowhere, a feeling came rto me. Not even a proper thought. Nothing so coherent. Just this sense. This knowing of something. Out of fucking nowhere.

Thos oats had been important to me.

It was just breakfast, yes, but in my head it was representative of something much, much greater than that. That delicious bowl of oats was, in microcosm, what Rainbow meant to me.

Wait, that’s terrible.

No, not the oats themselves. That she’d made me breakfast. That she’d decided to look after me and do that. That’d gone out of her way to do it. Like she’d gone out of her way to do everything she’d done for me since we’d first met.

I needed to try and explain some of this to her, before I lost the guts. It was something I felt she had to know. I had to try and pack down this wordless feeling into, well, words and get it across to her before I realised what a bad idea it was.

“Rainbow can I, uh, can I talk to you for a minute?”

Immediately her guard was up. She stopped in mid-step on her way to the door and ever-so-slowly turned back to me.

“Why are you asking me? Why aren’t you just doing it?”

“Because I - I don’t know why. Just come here a sec, I’ll try and keep it as quick a I can.”

She did so, setting the bowl off to one side and approaching cautiously, looking at me as though I might do something stupid. Which was appropriate. I tapped my fingers together and thought about words. Then I just splurted out the first to arrive on my tongue.

“You’re my friend Rainbow, yeah?”

“Uh, yeah?”

“Yeah, yeah you are. But you’re my best friend. Here and at home. That means a lot to me. I kind of just want to…”

I was losing the thread already. Time to start over. Give her some context. Help her understand right from the start.
.
“When I first arrived - I mean, you know what it was like when I showed up, right? What happened?”

She shook her head.

“Nope.”

“I haven’t told you?”

“Well, I asked once but you kind of just zoned out and didn’t answer so I figured you didn’t want to talk about it.”

“I did? Oh yeah, I did. Uh, sorry about that. But that’s kind of the point. It was touchy for me. I was taking a train from - well, you wouldn’t know where - but I was going home on the train. Late at night, bag on my lap. I fall asleep. I wake up here, middle of the day, with trees. Still got my bag, still sitting on the train seat only now the seat is just...here.”

This probably wasn’t getting across just how jarring it had been.

Imagine, if you will, that you were in my position. You are sat on a train at night, just going from A to B. It’s been a long day and you are tired, so you nod off. The most you might reasonably expect is to be rudely awoken by the guard (are they still called guards?) or some well-meaning fellow commuter.

Instead, you wake up in broad daylight. Outside. And the train is gone. And you are alone. In a field. And there are trees.

The disconnect was so abrupt and so total that for a few seconds I simply froze up, totally blank. I could not comprehend it. My brain was lacking so much information it couldn’t do anything. So nothing happened. I sat and clutched the bag on my lap and stared into space and was just blank. For a few seconds, at least.

When I was younger I once fell out of a boat and into the sea. Only a small boat, mind, and it wasn’t going very fast at the time. But this was the sea off the coast of Wales. This sea was cold.

For the briefest of moments, this fleeting sliver of an instant, I felt nothing. But once that instant was over the cold hit me like nothing else.

Me, snapping back to the moment on that disconnected train seat in that field with those trees and that blazing sunshine when I’d been expecting train tracks and night time was like that. A shock.

Are you following this?

“How did that happen?” Rainbow asked, bringing me back to what I was meant to be doing rather than remembering things I would have preferred not to remember. I shrugged.

“Don’t know. Twilight doesn’t know. Doubt we’ll ever know. Just one of those things.”

Grant me the strength to accept the things I cannot change.

“You’r surprisingly chill about that.”

“Now I am, yeah. At the start I wasn’t. Acted like I was, but I wasn’t. At the start I couldn’t sleep, kept worrying about ending up somewhere else...and yeah. But that passed. And then it all starts to sink in for me that I am not where I’m from. That I am a long way way from where I belong. Took a train expecting to just be back at my place inside of two hours and instead, uh…”

Just thinking about that feeling again gave me vertigo. The first few days had been anxious because I’d constantly been worried about falling asleep and opening my eyes to something else taking me further away. Then, once that seemed not to be a risk, I realised that I was always pretty fucking far away.

I swallowed and kept on going:

“Instead I’m here and I’m not having to step over drunks on my home, no-one’s threatening to stick me with a needle, I’m the tallest living creature for a dozen miles or more, weather is controlled, magic exists and multiple, sentient races co-exist more-or-less harmoniously. And everything is lovely. Just so lovely all the time. And everyone is nice. This sort of thing doesn’t fit into how I’m put together.”

Her face was wrinkled in shock. Might have been the bit about needles.

“Your town sounds...interesting.”

“It’s a shithole. But that’s sort of what I’m saying. This place is so overwhelmingly not a shithole. I was not prepared. I’m configured to relate to a world that works a particular way and this world doesn’t. Square peg, round hole. Do you guys have those here?”

“Holes?”

“Pegs. And holes. You know what, nevermind. Point is - agh - the point I’m trying to make is -”

I genuinely didn’t know, and I was getting frustrated. That Rainbow was being so overwhelmingly patient with my rambling only made me feel worse. Wouldn’t want her to have to sit through all my nonsense for nothing.

“It’s okay, take your time,” she said, holding my hand in her hooves the way she always seemed to whenever I left it lying around for too long. How could anyone be so soft?

“I was - I was scared. I think that’s the best way of saying it. I was scared but I didn’t want to let on.”

“Scared?”

“It’s the closest I think of. Everything was different. And I was alone. And I was somewhere far away from home. And I didn’t know how anything worked. I didn’t know how to do anything. Scared and helpless, you know? Heh. Even when I started getting help I was worried it might get taken away and I’d just be left. What would I do? I didn’t know.

Back home I’d been alone as well, of course, or at least as close to alone to be practically alone. But that had been fine. I’d understood vaguely how earth had worked. I could muddle along there.

Here, everything I’d spent my life figuring out was whipped away. Like learning to swim and, while you’re comfortably treading water, someone steals the bottom of the pool. What are you meant to do? What can you do?

Soft idiots like me do not do well in adversity. We do not rise to the occasion. We sink, and drown.

Rainbow was still looking at me to continue and I wasn’t finished anyway so I just plunged on. When you’d dug yourself as deep as I had done there was no harm in keeping on digging.

“For the longest time here I was just keeping a lid on it. A real thin lid. Every day I felt like I was two bad decisions and one good shock away from just losing it. Remember I used to giggle more?”

This would have been roundabout when she and I first met, some time ago now. I had, indeed, been a very giggly so-and-so. I’d giggle at anything. Sometimes I’d giggle at nothing.

At the time they’d seemed to just think it was a habit of mine and technically it was, just not one I normally had. The giggles had diminished so gradually in the time since then that none of them seemed to have noticed.

Indeed, me mentioning it brought a flicker of recollection to her face.

“You don’t do that as much as you used to,” she said.

“No I don’t, because nowadays I’m not inches away from freaking the fuck out anymore. I’m not as scared as I was, and I think that’s because I started to feel more like I’m fitting in. I’m comfortable now. Not constantly worried about being left on my own to just flounder. I don’t feel so much like an intruder who’s where he’s not meant to be. And a lot of that is down to you. Okay, pretty much all of it is down to you.”

I was getting close to reaching my point. Both of us seemed to realise this.

“This is a very, very long and complicated way of me saying thank you. And not just for this, not just for looking after me right now. Just kind of a blanket thank you for being you. I don’t just want to say ‘thank you’, I want - need - you to maybe kind of grasp just how desperately I have to thank you. I’m not good at things like this but I just, ah, I don’t know…”

She was hanging on my every word, and since I’d started I couldn’t exactly stop, however garbled I was being.

“You’re...you’re important. To me. Probably to others, too, but I can definitely say that for me you are important. The most important thing I have in this world, in fact. If you hadn’t - if we didn’t have this? I don’t know what I’d do. I don’t know where I’d be. No pressure, you know, but you’re kind of my rock here. So thank you. A lot.”

There. That was what a heartfelt speech sounded like coming from me. Probably a horror story but, hey, it’s the best I can do. I’m not equipped for that sort of thing.

I waited for a response.

For anything.

Rainbow had gone unusually still.

“Uh, did I - do I need to repeat any of that?” I asked.

“Igottagochecksomethingberightback,” she blurted, blasting from the room so fast she genuinely left a dust cloud. Coughing, I wafted it away and found myself alone.

Clearly I’d fucked up.

“Shit,” I breathed to myself, slumping in bed.

But me making a mess of my fancy-pants speech was only part of tit. The other part was more of a problem, and was also probably one of the irrational, insane things that had pushed me to give the stupid speech in the first place.

I was starting to worry that the swirling mess of affection tumbling end over end in my gut was taking on a non-platonic edge. Or, to put it a less wanky way, I was worried that I might be developing a thing for Rainbow. A thing.

This was bad.

I liked ladies. That was just how I was wired. Some chaps liked chaps, some chaps liked chaps and ladies, others liked whoever they liked. That was cool, that was just how things should be. Speaking only for myself, I liked ladies. Maybe I just hadn’t met the right guy yet I didn’t know, but for now, ladies.

Rainbow was a lady.

This wasn’t new. Rainbow had always been a lady, just liked she’d always had an arse, too. But until now I had not seen her as a lady. I had seen her as Rainbow: friendly non-specific entity who I hung around with. Not as ‘Rainbow Dash who is nice and a lady’ but as ‘Rainbow Dash who is nice’.

Now I could not think about her as anything other than a lady. The scales had fallen from my eyes. That particular bell was not getting unrung.

And after that, all I could think about was how all those qualities she possessed that made me so very fond of her were the sort of qualities that - in a lady back home - would have made me far more than just fond. Would have made me quite besotted, in fact.

Had made me quite besotted. Quite besotted with her, right here and now.

That was probably a bad thing. It had to be, right? The sort of thing that could get me into trouble with everyone and make everyone - Rainbow included - upset with me.

Twilight hadn’t answered my question. She hadn’t had time, but her initial response had told me a lot. She’d looked concerned. Unhappy. That couldn’t mean good news. Not that I should go jumping to conclusions but you’d think if interspecies...stuff...was alright you’d see at least some trace of it, right?

Right?

This was bad.