• Published 19th Nov 2018
  • 14,913 Views, 1,500 Comments

Bedbound (And Beyond) - Cackling Moron



Freshly-arrived human in a state of some disrepair is tended to by local deity.

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Every link is allied to our mighty cause

Author's Note:

When I started this I meant for it to be short - short! It was just supposed to be a brief burst of fluff! Now look at it! Grown out of control!

I must bring it to heel shortly, for I am running out of Bloodbound lyrics. I can bring this particular bit to a close and set up for future events.

Yes, yes I can see it now. It's all clear to me now...

I woke with a start, which was an exciting way of getting things going.

For a good second or two I flailed in blank, terrified confusion, my heart thumping. It then became clear that nothing was wrong, nothing was about to go wrong and I was perfectly fine. My heart was slow in taking this on board and returned to normal only gradually.

“Dreams, fuckin’...fah…” I grumbled. Already most of it was bleeding away to nothing, the finer details lost. Presumably Luna - with her fancy-pants dream walking powers - retained everything that went on. Lucky her.

It’d probably all come back to bite me at some point, knowing my luck. But that’s life, really, isn’t it?

Had the dream been important? I tried to think, but all I could bring to mind was trifle, and I failed to see how that might be helpful to me. Beyond that, apart from Luna having been there at all, I had nothing. It was all lost to me.

Oh well. I’d tried. That was what counted.

Again, I had no idea what time it was, but from the looks of it it was just before dawn. Given that I had nothing to do with my time even if I knew what it was this hardly mattered, but the prospect of seeing the sun rise filled with me an unusually high level of anticipation. I wanted to see it.

And - hey - I could walk again, more or less, so why not get up to go see it? Window wasn’t that far away, after all.

This journey across the room was quicker and easier than the last I’d taken. Still wasn’t exactly fun, with my legs acting as though being made to walk was somehow beneath them, but it was better than falling flat on my face. I was even able to remain standing by the window, which was infinitely better than hanging off the sill.

Slowly, ever-so-slowly, the sun started creeping above the horizon. I had a fantastic view from this room. I’d lucked out.

Might have been my imagination but the sun here seemed prettier somehow than the one I vaguely remembered from back home. In as much as a big ball of nuclear fire can be pretty. If you’re into that sort of thing. Which I might have been.

I wondered what Celestia was doing.

Once the sun had risen more fully the protests of my legs were starting to move towards twitches, aches and actual pain so I hobbled back into bed and managed to fall into a light doze by the time the doors to the room opened for breakfast.

I hoped for Celestia, but it wasn’t. But that was fine. She had shit to do.

Breakfast was delivered by more of the frighteningly efficient staff who swept in, set me up and swept out before I was even fully aware of what was happening. They didn’t so much as look at me twice the whole time, and left so quickly I couldn’t even say thank you.

I was kind of scared of those guys.

Turned out it was something with oats. I had no strong feelings about oats and wasn’t that hungry anyway. I ate most of it then sat around feeling a bit useless.

I wondered what Celestia was doing.

Running the place, in all likelihood. And good on her. She was a princess! She had things to do. She was busy. I knew that. Didn’t mean I enjoyed it, but still. I knew that.

Breakfast was cleared away with as much ruthless efficiency as it had been delivered and this time I was able to say thank you. It was ignored.

I sat and stared into space. Every so often my mind would drift onto topics like ‘I wonder what I left behind at home’ and ‘I wonder if Celestia actually likes me or is just humouring me’ and a pit of nameless dread would open up my stomach and I would very quickly find something to distract myself.

I sat and stared at the paintings on the walls. The paintings were full of ponies doing things that meant nothing to me. Nice to look at, though.

At some point a nurse - I really should get their names, if I get a chance - appeared to checked if I hadn’t got worse which she did with brusque professionalism before leaving again.

I dozed again and when I snapped awake lunch was there. Vegetables, roasted, with a side of what looked to be hay. I did not eat the hay.

I wondered what Celestia was doing.

After lunch the doctor appeared, nurses in tow, so I sat up in bed. This at least would give me something to do!

“We’re going to be testing your physical recovery a little bit more today. You’ve made remarkably quick progress so we just want to see how it’s coming along. Can you try standing up for me?” The doctor said.

Oh doctor, if only you knew!

Still, I put on a good show, the sort of show you’d expect from someone who hadn’t managed to get up and about the room earlier that very day. I think they all bought it, too. Certainly the doctor looked surprised that I was able to stand up at all.

“How does that feel? Do you feel steady?” He asked.

“Little stiff,” I said. “If you want me to dance you might have to give me a minute.”

He didn’t.

Instead, he had me do slow laps of the room with a nurse next to me incase I needed something to collapse onto. The thought of falling onto a pony did not make me feel especially happy, so I made special efforts to remain upright.

Every so often I had to stretch something or bend this or that way. It was not fun and it took what felt like an awfully long time. On the plus side, the doctor looked the most satisfied I’d ever seen him. Not happy, but satisfied. I took that as a win.

Once the physio - or whatever that had been - was done the doctor and the nurses ensured I was returned to bed and then they departed and I was left to my own devices again. And I really mean to my own devices. I had nothing.

They could have given me a magazine or something. A book. Crossword, maybe. Fucking anything. But no, nothing.

I sat and I twiddled my thumbs for a bit, because I could do that now. This wasn’t a great way of passing the time and I got bored pretty quickly.

Aching and drained as I was I eventually left the bed again and stumbled back to the window. This was the first time the view wasn’t too early or too late for me to see things going on. Actual ponies! Actually going about actual business!

Agreeably a really long way away from me so kind of small and hard to make out, but still! Signs of life! Adorable, multi-coloured life!

Which was cute. But not interesting enough to pass the time before dinner.

A book would work wonders. Hell, a magazine would be enough. Would be interesting to see what passes as light reading for a horse. A quick check of the attached, luxurious bathroom turned up nothing left there. It had been a forlorn hope to start with, but I was working with what I had.

I took a moment to stare at the giant bath. I remembered being in it. With Celestia. Comparatively it hadn’t been that long ago. Would probably need washing again, though. Probably needed it now! Could do it on my own now, most likely. Or the nurses would do it. Neither thought thrilled me.

I wondered what Celestia was doing.

I was looking for something to read. I remembered this and damnit I was going to do it. They couldn’t just expect me to sit in stony, unstimulated silence in between bouts of stretching and eating. I had rights! And those rights might have extended to wherever I’d ended up. I assumed they did.

And so I struck out and I left the room.

The corridors, I found, were deserted. Given the sheer size of the place I imagined what staff there were had to be fairly thinly spread. This could only be good for me, as I was pretty confident that I wasn’t supposed to be doing what I was doing. But if I found something to read - and I’d settle for anything at this point - and got back before anyone noticed, who’d be hurt, really?

No-one, that’s who.

So off I shuffled, cautiously, pausing at and peeking around corners, surreptitiously listening through doors before trying their handles. Most, to my disgust, did not open.

“Shit’s locked…” I growled to myself, pressing onwards.

It wasn’t long before I was hopelessly lost, but I wasn’t going to admit this and I sure wasn’t going to stop, at least not until I’d found something. My legs may have ground at the knees and my head might have swum from the exertion but I wasn’t going to give up.

Wasn’t like I had anything else I could have been doing.

A couple of the doors I tried did open, but not into anything useful or interesting. I found what looked like another of those royal dining rooms I’d heard about, at least two other bathrooms and a room full of stuff that looked very expensive but also very fragile. Nothing to read.

Here and there I had to hide in a room when I heard clip-clopping coming my way or voices approaching and once or twice I had to press myself flat against a wall and hope no-one looked my way. Amazingly, no-one did. Security wasn’t great, it seemed.

Did this place even have guards? Whenever I had to hide against a wall I closed my eyes, so maybe it was guards I was avoiding. Not very good at their jobs if so. I wasn’t exactly easy to miss.

It was while I was taking a moment in what I thought was a quiet corner when I got caught.

In my haste and my confidence I had made a cardinal error. I had failed to notice that I’d strayed from the parts of the palace with nice, loud, bare floors and into a section with carpet. Hoof-muffling carpet. No sooner had I finished taking a breather did I turn around and find myself face-to-face with two identical, unamused looking ponies.

Turns out the palace did have guards and they had armour and wings and very serious expressions and everything. I flinched back and very nearly fell over, having to grab the architecture to stay upright.

“Whoa, you guys are surprisingly intimidating for, uh, ponies. Am I under arrest?” I asked.

“We are here to escort you back to your room, sir,” one of them said.

Ugh. I hated being called sir. This at least I could remember. Made my skin crawl.

Not that I’d tell the dudes in armour this.

“You are?” I asked.

“Yes. We have been looking for you. Come along, sir.”

Legs stiff I wobbled after them. Or one of them, rather. It was the work of a second for the pair of them to split so that one was walking closely behind me. What was I going to do? Run away?

Guess they were just doing their jobs…

An interminable and silent march later I was let back into the room. One guard stayed behind, outside the door, the other accompanied me inside.

Inside was Celestia, and I swear she was glowing. Could have just been my imagination. Was more likely just a trick of the light from the way it was shining in through the window. The explanation hardly mattered. What mattered to me was that she was there and that she was Goddamn eye-catching.

I was so distracted by Celestia that I didn’t notice the accompanying guard leaving or even the doctor. But then I did notice the doctor was there, and I twigged why guards had been looking for me.

The doctor did not look happy.

“I’m cured?” I ventured.

I don’t think that was the right choice of words, in retrospect.

“It’s a miracle,” he said flatly before turning to Celestia. “Princess, might I humbly request the posting of guards outside the door to head off any further attempts at exploration. Or, alternatively, since you seem to be the only one he listens to-”

I got a pointed look to accompany that.

“-could you be so good as to ask our guest not to leave his room without an escort from now on? It would be in his best interests not to unaccompanied, at least until he has fully recovered.”

Celestia smiled. The regal, wise kind of smile. I could tell the difference now.

“Thank you, doctor, I shall be sure to make that clear to him,” she said. The doctor bowed.

“Princess,” he said with obvious respect before sparing me a glance that lacked even the merest hint of respect. Damn, son.

After that he left, meaning it was just me and Celestia in the room now.

“That’s everyone gone, so how you - hey, what are you doing?”

In the time it had taken for me to look from the closing door and back to Celestia she’d dropped her front down low to the ground and spread her wings. I got maybe half a second to see the smirk on her face and the rather alarming wiggle she gave with her tail before she pounced.

There was a whirl, whiteness, the sound of me yelping and of Celestia laughing and then I somehow found myself on my back, wrapped again in wings and with Celestia’s nose touching mine.

“Hello to you, too,” I said, a little dazed. She giggled and gave me a nuzzle before pulling away to put maybe a foot or two between our faces.

“I’m allowed to miss you, aren’t I?” She asked, pouting a little. This cut right through my daze and, indeed, anything else I might have had going on right then.

“Well, yeah, but it’s only been, like, a day. If that,” I mumbled.

The pout left her face to be replaced with another, smaller smile and she lent in again for another nuzzle while I just lay there.

“Did you miss me too?” She asked, mouth by my ear.

Oh did I shiver. Fucking hell did I shiver.

“...yes.”

Couldn’t exactly lie, could I?

I thought then to the dream - though, given that actual, real words get exchanged between me and someone else is it really still a dream? The rules are odd - with Luna and what she’d said. For some reason it now seemed clearer to me than it had just after I’d woken up. I could recall big bits of the conversation.

Specifically what Luna had said about fondness.

Even for a man as relentlessly dense as I was this situation was getting out of hand. Celestia was a magical horse princess with a magical horse country to look after, and I was some random, nameless tosspot from parts unknown. That wasn’t sustainable, surely.

That said, she was very warm and very soft and I didn’t really want her to let go of me, and I didn’t really want to let go of her.

Wait.

When had my arms done that? When had they gone around her middle like that?

And why hadn’t she said anything about it?!

“Um,” I said, releasing my hold on her and just sort of keeping my arms either side of her, for want of anywhere else to put them. “Uh, s-sorry about that. Must have been a reflex.”

Her wings slid out from around me and gently nudged my arms back to where they’d been before. I let that happen, and then her wings enfolded around me again.

“I don’t mind,” she said.

She was very warm. I might have noticed this before. But she was, she really was.

“So when you haven’t been wandering around unsupervised what have you been up to?” She asked me, mock-scolding. That snapped me back to the moment and helped me keep my mind from wandering places that would only have confused me.

Gave me a chance to be flippant.

“Oh you know, nothing much. I gave some thought to wards plotting your downfall but, really, it just wouldn’t be fair. So then I just sat around on my own for a bit,” I said.

Celestia giggled, and on top of that she wiggled also. Just a little, but enough I noticed. I was pretty sure the tickling I could feel on my legs was her tail. That was odd. Sure didn’t feel like hair. Kind of tingled.

“Very kind of you to spare me. When you’re tried for treason I’ll make sure they take that into account.”

“Can I be done for treason if I’m not even from round here? I mean, I’m not technically a subject of yours, am I?”

I wasn’t totally clear on how treason worked, but in my head it did imply a certain level of betrayal and therefore suggested a certain level of pre-existing involvement. So to speak.

“I’m sure they could find a loophole,” Celestia said, lightly.

“Well there’s that to look forward to, then.”

She was looking into my eyes. Or was I looking into hers?

I licked my lips and, without really thinking first, said:

“I was starting to think you’d forgotten about me.”

“Now how could I do that?”

Why had I said that? Why had I sounded so much like I meant it and was worried about it? How could Celestia smile so warmly and sound so reassuring so easily? How was it I was still looking right into her eyes?

This was getting out of hand. I had no idea what was happening.

Her breath was tickling my face. This kind of proximity surely went beyond what was required for looking after someone hurt, right? Or maybe this was normal here? Probably not, given how the doctor definitely never got quite this up-close-and-personal with me, for which I was profoundly grateful. So maybe this sort of thing was just normal for Celestia?

I had no idea.

“Find what you were looking for?” Celestia asked, blinking for what seemed like the first time since she’d landed on top of me and finally breaking the tension. Or a lot of the tension. I blinked too.

“What?” I squeaked, and for this I got another giggle as she shifted her weight. She really did have me pinned good. Even if I hadn’t been knocked about I doubted I’d have been able to get her off. So to speak. I mean I wouldn’t have been able to shift her. I knew what I meant.

What the hell was happening? Was my brain melting?

“When you went out wandering - find what you were looking for?”

“Oh, uh, heh, that. Not really. Exploring was quite fun though. So was sneaking,” I said.

“Exploring, hmm? See anything fun?” She asked. I could still feel her tail flicking around. Little distracting, but not too bad.

And so I regaled her of my little trip, doing my best to remember the details.

Celestia was, as she had been before, possibly the greatest person - horse? - to talk to as could well be conceived. Not even once, not even for a moment did I feel that I was boring her. She listened so intently I was convinced that I was the most interesting person she could have found, that there was nowhere else she might have preferred to be and no-one else she would have wanted to listen to more.

This was very pleasant, obviously, if a little difficult to wholeheartedly believe.

Of course, not being a cad I did try and not dominate the conversation, asking her how her day had been, but she was so nimbly evasive I barely noticed being turned right back into talking about myself again.

The most mention she made of her day was just to say that it had been busy.

“-and then I got back here. So, uh, yeah. That was my day.”

I never was good at ending on a high note. Not that Celestia appeared to mind.

“Sounds like you had fun,” she said.

I had no idea how anyone could have listened to what I’d just said and conclude my day had been fun but sure, whatever you say, Celestia. You are quite literally the one in charge.

“Tried to. Did my best! Things get dull without you around,” I said and for my troubles got another nuzzle.

“Well I knew that already…”

And I shivered again because - again - she’d spoken softly directly into my ear. Damnit woman, what even is this?

“I should - we should probably get off the floor. If you don’t mind? We can stay here if you prefer just, you know, floors. Uncomfortable,” I said, in a vain attempt to exert some control over my circumstances.

Celestia blinked again and looked, seeming only now to notice that this whole time I’d been lying flat on the floor with her pressing down. She grinned sheepishly and stood up, slipping out of my arms. I felt colder.

“Sorry,” she said, hoisting me up magically and popping me back into bed. She enjoyed that sort of thing so I let her get on with it. Even let her tuck me in. I’m a big boy, honest.

“Thanks,” I said, once snuggled.

“It’s okay,” she said, then glancing out the window a moment before coming back to me. “I am still a little busy and there are still one or two things I need to do but if I can get it done in time to come back when you get dinner, would you like that?”

“Yes,” I replied instantly. I may have blushed.

“I’ll do my best, then,” she said.

“Well don’t put yourself out for my sake. I’m sure I can survive another evening without you. Just! And, you know, the stuff you’ve got to do is probably important. So take your time with it.”

Her pout was back.

“This is important,” she said.

“You did mention that but, yeah, there’s a scale, Celestia…”

She likely would have pressed the issue had she had the time to do so. Instead, she just gave me a few more seconds to really feel the weight of her pout before sighing.

“Fine,” she said. “But if there’s anything I can do for you in the meantime you tell me.”

“Anything?”

“Anything,” she said, smiling, and never had the word sounded quite so inviting or quite so accommodating.

“Uh, well, ah, I couldn’t have a book or something could I? Gets a little dull on my own.”

And of course I had singularly failed to get anything to read on my grand adventure outside of the room. But I just let that bit be implied, no need to outright say it.

She tapped a hoof to her chin.

“I think we can stretch to that. Anything in particular?”

“Surprise me,” I said. Then, on impulse: “Your favourite. If you have one. One of them. You probably have lots. Actually never mind. Forget I said anything. I’m fine.”

Great work.

Celestia, thankfully, drew no attention to my rambling nonsense and acted as though she’d only heard the important bits. She’s so nice.

“A favourite. I can do that.”

She then came in close for another, final nuzzle and I felt one of her ears flick against me. For one dizzying moment I was gripped with a sudden desire to just reach up and scratch behind one of those ears. I couldn’t say why. It just came to me.

I rammed that thought down right quick. The idea curdled my blood. So creepy! So weird! Would I have done that to a person? I imagined not! And Celestia was basically just a horse-shaped person, so I wouldn’t do it to her either!

Agreeably she was, you know, rubbing her face all over me - and not for the first time - and that wasn’t exactly person behaviour either, but still! My point stood! She’s a princess and a magic horse and this is clearly just how she rolls. I do not scratch ears! That’s how I roll! Hands to yourself!

“You seem tense,” she said once she pulled back again.

“Nope. Totally fine. You go do your business. I’ll be here!”

She peered at me. I gave a thumbs up. She probably didn’t get what that meant.

“...okay. I’ll try to be back later,” she said, moving to the door.

“Look forward to it!”

I waved and off she went and once the door closed behind her I flopped, limp.

Okay man, this is getting kind of wild.

Being cool with a talking horse is one thing, I can support that rationally. Celestia is a nice, cogent, obviously sapient individual and so treating her as such and not as an animal is fine. I get that. She is also a lovely person to be around so being happy when she is is also fine. I get that, too.

But all this touchy-feely stuff must have been getting to me. Giving me conniptions.

It was probably just shock, residual shock. That had to be it. The full impact of what had happened to me coming through in spits and spurts. I was in a whole other world, after all, my memory half-fried, my body in poor (though improving) condition and my best friend a magical princess horse. Oh yeah, and also magic was a thing. It existed now.

Had to just be the shock, that was all. And Celestia was just my only real fixed point in all of those. So it was only natural I should cling to her, literally and figuratively. That was all.

I was spared the opportunity to tie myself into further mental knots by the eventual arrival of dinner, which turned out today to be some vegetable curry-ish thing. It even had what appeared to be potatoes in it! Someone in the kitchen was getting adventurous. I wolfed the thing down.

“Thanks, guys. Compliments to the chef!” I said to the retreating staff who remained as lightning-fast and silent as ever. And no sooner had the door closed on them than it opened again, and in came Luna.

I quickly looked around the room.

“Did I fall asleep again?” I asked.

Not a joke. I was honestly worried.

Luna - who had a messenger bag of all things draped over her - approached the bed.

“I felt it would be polite of me to attempt to speak with you while you were awake,” she said.

Ah, so I was awake. That was good to know.

“Makes a change, certainly.”

“Quite.”

Usually at this point Celestia would probably have sat down beside the bed or something. Luna continued standing, and I could tell she wasn’t sure how best to approach things. Maybe outside of dreams she found conversations difficult. Maybe I was the problem. Who could say?

I wanted to make her relaxed though, if only for her sake, so I asked:

“So how you doing?”

That’ll do the trick.

“We are - I am well, thank you for asking,” she said.

The conversation stalled. Desperately I lunged for something else to say:

“Hey, I had a question. Do you remember what we talk about in the dreams?”

“Yes.”

“Because I don’t. Well, I remember bits, but not always. I think I remember bits from what we said in the last one, but not all the bits. So you remember the whole thing?”

“I do,” she nodded.

“That kind of seems unfair.”

“It was not my intention for it to be unfair. It is somewhat unusual that you do not remember them, if I am being honest. Perhaps a result of your condition?” She suggested.

“Probably.”

My condition. Whatever that actually was. Even now no-one had fully explained it to me. I was just mad fucked up and missing chunks of my mind, as it were. You’d think they’d have sat me down and walked me through that but instead they all seemed happy just to keep me in the dark and ticking over.

Even Celestia! Though to be fair to her I hadn’t actually ever asked.

Probably should have been grumpier about that but, really, what would extra information have given me? Then I’d know the why of how I was so janked, and so I could sit in bed unable to remember my parent’s faces but be a smidgen better informed.

Someone else would probably have come to a different conclusion. Oh well.

“I heard you made an escape attempt today,” Luna said, getting my attention.

“Is that what they’re calling it?” I asked.

“It is what Celestia called it when we spoke.”

“Oh you know her. Exaggeration. I think she’s got it in for me, you know.”

“She found it rather amusing, actually. She also mentioned that you would like a book? Hers will probably come later once she’s picked it but I thought you might appreciate one now, from my own collection.”

At this the flap on the bag got magicked open and out floated a book. Nay, a tome. A whacking great slab of leather and metal bindings. Thing looked like it could stop a harpoon. Luna started hovering it towards my lap and I was actually a little worried about what would happen once she dropped it there.

“That’s super-nice of you Luna but maybe you could put it on the side table there?”

“Hmm? Oh, of course,” she said, doing so and sparing my thighs. The bag then closed and she turned her attention back to me.

“Now, the book is very old so if you could be-”

Luna paused, mouth hanging open mid-sentence. It then snapped shut and she leant in, looking at me closely, close enough it was hard to keep her in focus.

“Uh, yes?” I asked, not really having enough room to back up away from her. Celestia I didn’t mind getting so close. The doctor and the nurses I didn’t have a choice about. This was new, and I wasn’t totally keen on it.

“You smell…” she said, sniffing once or twice. “Very strongly…” another few sniffs, the other side of me as I flinched and before she leant back again, expression unreadable. “Like my sister.”

Eep? Eep.