• Published 7th Aug 2018
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The Bug In The Basement - Skijarama



A changeling egg is left in the human world by its mother in a last-ditch effort to save it.

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Chapter 52: True Friends

Everything was completely silent. The winds had fallen utterly still, and not even the morning birds daw fit to sing their song or spread their wings. Everything held perfectly still as if the whole world had decided to stop what it was doing to let this one moment happen without any interruption.

Apple Bloom, Scootaloo, and Sweetie Belle all looked at Beebee with wide eyes, all of them seemingly at a loss for words. Beebee stared back at them, his true form revealed to them at last. His wings wavered on his back in a display of nervous energy, and he looked between them all for several seconds. His face twitched every so often with building emotion as he saw the way their auras were lighting up.

Purple and black… fear and dread. They were afraid of him… of course they were. How could they not be?

Another tear rolled down his cheek, and a choked sob slid out of his throat. He let his head drop so he was looking down at the forest floor, then fell heavily to his haunches. His ears drooped to rest flat against his head, and his wings lowered to hang limply at his sides. He tried to hold it in… he tried so, so hard to be brave.

But he couldn’t do it. He just couldn’t. He screwed his eyes shut and began to cry then and there, the tears rolling off of his cheeks to hit the ground below.

None of the Crusaders said anything, and he could just picture their faces. Betrayed, angered, confused, horrified… heck, maybe they’d think that their friend had been taken away by some kind of freaky shapeshifting monster, and would start asking him where the real Beebee was… they’d known him as a human boy for so long, he was sure it was possible.

“I… I-I’m sorry,” he finally managed to choke out between his guilty sobs. “I j-just… I c-c-couldn’t keep lying to you… you're the only friends I’ve e-ever h-had… I had t-to tell you the t-truth...”

The silence from his friends dragged on, and he refused to look at them. They probably didn’t want to look at his ugly face, anyway…

He heard one of them slowly walking forward, and his shoulders hunched up. He braced himself to be shouted at, to be scolded or something. He was even prepared for whoever was coming up to him to grab him and shake him or maybe even hit him. His young, naive mind was racing like a Nascar with all of the ways things could go terribly, terribly wrong…

And then he felt the tips of someone’s fingers gently brush against the top of his head. Confused, he opened his eyes, and his breath hitched in his throat. He did not dare move, though. He remained completely rigid as those fingers pressed very lightly into his chitin as if to ensure he was real before they retracted. He waited for several seconds before finally mustering the courage to look up at which of the crusaders had approached him.

It was Apple Bloom, her eyes wide with recognition, and her aura bright with the same thing. There was still fear and shock there, but it was steadily starting to dwindle and fade. “...You…” she whispered, slowly getting down onto one knee and lowering her head to be closer to Beebee’s eyes level. As big as he was now, if he were to stand up on his hind legs, his muzzle would be at about the same height as her belly button.

She stared at him for several long seconds, blinking occasionally as if she were trying to send away some kind of hallucination. “...You were the bug Ah saw…” she finally said, her voice filled with awe.

Beebee’s own eyes widened with recollection, and he stiffly nodded his head in confirmation. “Yeah… Through the window… I was on dad’s bed… you were following a bouncing ball that got away…” he recounted before looking down and away. “...You were so scared of me… you screamed and ran.”

“Ah…” Apple Bloom opened her mouth to speak but then nodded her head. “Yeah… Ah was scared of ya… Ah’d never seen anythin’ quite like ya before… Ah thought you were some sorta monster…”

Beebee shuddered and closed his eyes again. He took a deep breath before looking up into Apple Bloom’s eyes again. “...Well… am I a monster?” he asked, his mind very briefly wandering back to a day many, many years ago, when Eventide had told him why he couldn’t see anyone else.

“Why do I have to hide from all the other kids?”

“Uh… b-because, uh… Beebee… there’s not really an easy way to put this, but… it’s because you’re… different.”

“I’m... different? Like… a monster?”

Apple Bloom didn’t answer for several moments, her face contorting with indecision. Then, though, she managed to get a small smile on her face. “No… no, I don’t think so…”

It was at this moment that, finally, the other Crusaders decided to join in the discussion.

“Woah, woah, woah! Time right the heck out!” Scootaloo exclaimed, rushing over and coming to a stop next to Apple Bloom. “This is what you saw?!” she demanded, gesturing at Beebee. “So, you mean, the bug thing was real?!”

“And it was Beebee?!” Sweetie added in an equally shocked, but somehow excited, voice as she came up to Apple Bloom’s other side. “I thought you were just seeing things!”

Apple Bloom lowered her head and gave off a weak, humorless chuckle. “Y’know, Ah thought maybe Ah was seein’ things too, fer a while, there…” she admitted before looking into Beebee’s eyes searchingly. “But y’all were real…”

The three of them fell into a heavy silence, unsure of what to say or do. Beebee looked between them all, his wings twitching fitfully on his back. He eventually sighed and went to stand up. “Guys… I’m so sorry I lied to you for so long… I’ve had to keep my true form a secret from basically everyone I’ve ever met, aside from dad… he’s told me that I’d probably be taken away or something if word got out that I was here…”

Sniffling, he trotted around them and began to head back for his home. Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle kept their eyes on him, while Apple Bloom kept her eyes locked onto where Beebee had been.

“Beebee?” Sweetie called after him, making him stop in his tracks.

He sighed heavily and looked back at them over his shoulder. “...Now you know… I’ve been lying to you since the day I met you. You probably don’t wanna be my friends anymore, do you?”

There was a long pause when he asked that question, and the winds finally saw fit to blow again. A gentle breeze washed through the woods, creating a distant, eerie whistling noise to accompany the rustling of the leaves. Then Scootaloo gave Beebee an incredulous look and tilted her head. “Er, what? Why would we wanna stop being your friends?” she asked, her face and aura revealing her confusion.

It was like a pin dropped in his heart.

Beebee’s eyes widened, his ears perked up, and he turned to face them all fully. “Wha… I… I’ve been lying to you for so long, though!” he protested, looking at himself. “And look at me!”

“I am looking at you,” Scootaloo shot back before casually strolling forward. “And I gotta say: You look awesome!

Beebee’s mind blanked, and he only had the willpower to offer a very bewildered
“Wha?”

“Awesome isn’t the word I’d use,” Sweetie chimed in, stepping forward and crouching down in front of Beebee with a warm smile on her face. “I think you look kinda cute actually, with how big your eyes are.”

Beebee’s cheeks slowly began to turn a shade of red from the praise, and his already confused mind became that much more scrambled. “Wha- well, I-I… uh… I mean…” he stammered before his eyes settled on Apple Bloom.

The farm girl had stayed where she was, her face contorted with thought. She noticed Beebee looking at her, though, and gave him a tender smile. “Oh… uh, well…” she began awkwardly before standing up and slowly walking over. “Ah mean… Ah’m not happy ya kept this from us fer so long…”

Beebee watched her sit down on her knees, her eyes examining him with curiosity and fascination. “But… Ah am glad ya decided to come clean with the truth on yer own. Thank you for telling us… fer telling me.

Beebee just stared at them, confused. “Guys… why are you so okay with this?” he finally asked, shell shocked. “I thought you’d be scared of me because of how different I am…”

“You? Different?” Scootaloo asked before throwing her head back with a laugh. “Pfft! Ha ha ha! C’mon, Bee! You’re nothing. We’ve seen our high school get blown up at least six, or seven hundred times, we were brainwashed and turned into zombies, we’ve seen holes torn in reality, and we’re friends with a talking dog.”

Sweetie frowned. “Six or seven hundred times? Scootaloo, that’s a bit of an exaggeration.”

“Whatever.”

Beebee’s face blanked, as did his mind. “Wha… wait… wait… hold on,” he lifted a hoof and shook his head, trying to kick the gears back into motion. “You mean… you’ve dealt with magic stuff before?!”

Apple Bloom nodded. “Sure have. We’ve always been on the fringe of magical stuff, but we know it happens. Ah mean, mah big sis is often caught in the middle of stuff like that.”

“So is mine,” Sweetie added with a chirpy nod.

“I don’t have a big sister,” Scootaloo grumbled before smirking all the same. “But Rainbow Dash gets involved in all kinds of magical mayhem, too!”

“And you are friends with a talking dog?” Beebee pressed, his mind doing some very impressive gymnastics at the moment.

Apple Bloom smiled. “His name is Spike.”

Beebee stood there for several seconds, his mind trying and failing to wrap itself around everything that had just been said to him. But, as the seconds ticked by, and his confusion slowly began to drop away, he noticed their auras. His stomach growled when he saw just how much genuine affection was coming from his friends. Seeing this, Beebee’s body began to warm up, and a smile came to his face.

“Guys… I…” he tried to say something, but he couldn’t get anything else out. A wordless, chittering squeal of relief and delight tore past his lips as he threw himself against Apple Bloom, hugging her as tight as he could and burying his muzzle into her shoulder. She tensed up under him for a moment, and he sensed a brief flicker of revulsion in her aura, but it soon faded, and she returned the hug. The others joined the embrace, surrounding Beebee in a loving barrier of warmth and friendship.

How had he ever got it into his head that he could doubt them, he wondered? They were his best friends… they would never let him down like that.

Eventually, Apple Bloom leaned back and gave voice to what all of them were probably thinking. “So… if yer not a human, what are ya?”

Beebee shrugged his shoulders. “Honestly? I dunno. All I know is that my dad found me as an egg under the tree in our old front yard, and when I hatched, he committed himself to take care of me. He has no idea where my egg came from, so…” his wings twitched on his back.

“So you’re adopted,” Scootaloo noted thoughtfully before leaning back. “It makes sense. It always seems kinda odd that Eventide would have a nine- or ten-year-old kid in his house. I mean, he’s what, twenty-five? And I never heard about him having a girlfriend...”

“Yeah… I’m actually only four years old,” Beebee admitted only slightly awkwardly, drawing some confused looks from the others.

“Only four?” Sweetie echoed, raising an eyebrow. “You’re awfully eloquent and deep for a guy whose only one fourth my age.”

Beebee shrugged his shoulders again and shook his head. “I dunno, Sweetie. Dad says I’ve always grown really fast. I mean… I was learning how to talk when I was three months old.”

“Speaking of your dad…” Apple Bloom suddenly spoke up, her tone more serious. “...What are ya gonna do when ya go back?”

A heavy silence fell over the four of them, and Beebee felt his heart almost stop in his chest. He had been so caught up in the relief of not being shunned by his friends that he had completely forgotten the storm of fire that waited for him back home. He swallowed heavily and started chittering in anxiety. “I… uh… I gotta tell him what I did…” he managed to say in a weak, trembling voice. “I gotta tell him I showed you guys what I am.”

“Is he going to be mad with you?” Sweetie asked, her eyes and aura showing her concern at Beebee’s sudden tension.

“Y-yeah… he’s gonna be very mad at me… I’m probably gonna be grounded for a while…” he mumbled before slowly squirming out of the group hug and backing up a few paces. “But he’s my dad… and I won’t lie to him… never to him.”

The Crusaders looked between each other nervously, their auras filling up with a subtle form of dread. Scootaloo cleared her throat. “Uh… you don’t think he’d ask us to stop coming to see you, do you?” she ventured in a nervous voice.

Beebee looked down at the ground and scuffed the dirt with his hoof. “...I don’t know. This has never happened before… and he was already upset with me before I left because we had a fight about this yesterday,” he replied before shuddering.

He was scared all over again, now. He had to confront his father with the biggest act of defiance Beebee had ever committed. The consequences would surely be severe… but he had no choice. He drew his head up and took a deep breath, his eyes taking in the growing sunlight. “...He’s probably awake by now. He’s gonna panic if he finds out I’m not in the house... I need to go back and see him…”

It was an odd thing he witnessed as he said those words. The Crusaders, his best friends, looked between each other. They didn’t say a word or even open their mouths. But somehow, he just knew they were communicating. Their features hardened, and their auras collectively lit up with resolve and agreement. They then looked at him and, as one, stepped forward to join him. “We’ll go with ya,” Apple Bloom declared plainly.

Beebee perked up, surprised. “Huh?”

“You’re our friend,” Sweetie reminded him with a smile and a nod. “And we want to be there to vouch for you and explain ourselves. If Eventide is as serious about your secret as you say, then we should be there to let him know that our lips are sealed.”

“And we want to be there for you to give you support,” Scootaloo added with a cocky look on her face. “We’ll be cheering you on and helping you out the whole way. You don’t gotta be alone today!”

“What?” Apple Bloom asked in amusement when she saw the abjectly bewildered look on Beebee’s face. “Did ya think we were just gonna let our friend go waltzin’ off to face somethin’ like this all on his own? We’re yer friends, and we’re gonna be there for ya. You bein’ a fancy schmancy magic bug creature ain’t ever gonna change that.”

Beebee stared at them all for several seconds, mouthing uselessly like a fish. These people… these three, wonderful, amazing people... He eventually clamped his muzzle shut and smiled at them. “I… I dunno what to say. Thank you… all of you… thank you so much… I don’t think I could ask for better friends...”

“Don’t mention it,” Apple Bloom replied softly before her expression hardened, and she looked off into the woods towards Beebee’s home. “Let’s go… lead the way, Beebee.”

Beebee nodded, his smile still wide before he turned around to face his home. He hesitated, another surge of dread and fear seeping into him, ripping that smile right off of his face. But then he felt the affection and assurances of his friends. Their feelings for him were completely untainted by the revelation of what he was… if anything, their affections had only grown stronger.

He drank it in, letting it pool in his belly and fill him with warmth and courage. He purred quietly before setting his jaw and setting off back for his home at a brisk trot.

All the way, his friends were by his side.

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