• Published 29th May 2019
  • 9,311 Views, 408 Comments

And when the darkness comes around - Cackling Moron



Local human encounters nocturnal pony, provides sustenance

  • ...
14
 408
 9,311

Blodtørst

In the event, what Fluttershy did was get food. What better way to soften someone up than to ply them with food?

Specifically a cheeseboard, in this instance, seeing that Fluttershy was aware it would be well-received. She knew that Eric was a cunt for a cheeseboard, though she wouldn’t have used that word.

She’d thought a lot about what it was she wanted to say, and in so doing had also come to some final conclusive decisions about what it was she actually wanted.

This was not something she had not done before. Her feelings for Eric were vague and fuzzy and poorly defined, based mostly on his consistently positive attitude, unrelenting optimism, intriguing exotic-ness and general niceness. These were, as said, vague, and once you got down to it not something you could base much serious on. So she’d thought about it a little more.

And her conclusive decisions were that she would not mind getting to know Eric better and more properly. In fact, she conclusively decided she would enjoy that. In addition, though, she had also decided that if it turned out he and his batpony houseguest were more serious than was assumed - or as serious as some assumed, depending on who you asked - then that would be fine. She could live with that. Eric would be happy, after all, so where would the harm be?

Rainbow was probably looking at the whole thing as some sort of competition where somepony had to come out on top. Fluttershy didn’t think it was like that, though. But that was her.

Then came a knock at the door and she jumped. He was early!

“J-just a second!” She squeaked, leaping off into the air and zipping around for a final check. Everything appeared to be in order, everything looked to be in place. Now or never. Taking just long to first untuck her hair from behind her ear before deciding against it and re-tucking it back again she flapped over to the door and landed, opening it wide.

And there was Eric, bending a little so as to be able to look through her front door. He was also smiling.

“Hello! Know I’m a little early but no harm done, eh? Can I come in?” He asked.

“O-of course!” Fluttershy stammered, hustling aside to let him through.

Unlike Eric’s place - which had been built specifically to be a bit bigger than most - and Twilight’s place - which was a fuck-off castle - Fluttershy’s cottage was actually pony-sized. Eric therefore filled the space inside it quite severely, and had to stoop constantly. Not that he minded.

“Alright, so we’re just going to look over what I - ooh, hang on, what’s all that?” Eric asked, immediately distracted, pointing over to where Fluttershy had set everything out. It was hard to miss. Eric shuffled on over and let out a whistle.

“This is some spread, Fluttershy. You having a party?” He asked, taking a knee by the table just for the sake of comfort. Fluttershy wandered over to stand beside him.

“No, I just knew you were coming over.”

Eric’s eyes widened, impressed.

“This is on my account? Wow! You didn’t need to do that. Ooh, beer.”

Beer was not notable for being popular with ponies, and so was thin on the ground. Eric immediately homed in on it and scooped up a bottle, turning it over for a good examine. A local brewery, perhaps? He could go for a visit sometime. Who knew Fluttershy was a fan?

“I know you like it,” she said .

“This is for me, too? You really went out of your way. You didn’t need to do that.”

“Thought it would be nice. I wanted to.”

This wasn’t what Eric had expected at all. Sure, she’d made him a cup of the tea those other times he’d come over and that had been nice, but this was something else! Above and beyond!

He moved to knock the bottlecap off on the edge of the table only to realise this was a pretty rude thing to do someone else’s table without asking. Then he spotted that the top just twisted off - how novel! Didn’t get that that often back home. He twisted and was delighted.

“Far too nice to me,” he said, taking a sip, then: “Are you feeling better?” He asked and Fluttershy blinked, tiniest bit confused.

“Feeling better?”

“Than last week. You seemed a little off, if you don’t mind me saying. You were quiet. Heh, quieter, I mean. Was a bit worried about you if I’m being honest.”

Realising now what he meant she relaxed a little bit.

“Oh, yes. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be quiet.”

Eric took another sip. It was interesting stuff. Distinctive.

“I think you just are quiet, Fluttershy, and that’s okay. ‘Remember what peace there may be in silence’ and all that. It was just a slightly different brand of your usual quiet, so I was concerned. Thought something was getting you down.”

Him drifting so close to the truth there kind of reminded Fluttershy that this whole thing had an agenda behind it, which put the wind up her just a little. She knew it was the point, but that didn’t make her any less nervous about having to see it through.

“Me? N-no, nothing. I was just, um, distracted. Had things on my mind.”

“That’s something that can get you down, Flutters! That’s the sort of thing I can be concerned about! Come on, you can tell me if you want. It’s good to vent, you know.”

The actual reason Eric had had to come over - quote-unquote ‘actual reason’ - was being put on hold until after he had properly confirmed that Fluttershy was feeling better about whatever it was she had not been feeling good about the last time he’d seen her. Making good could wait as far as he was concerned.

Fluttershy squirmed.

“Nothing, really. Nothing important, anyway. Um, h-how is your batpony friend? The one that lives with you?” She asked. This was a prelude to her getting on with it and getting it all sorted, she told herself. All part of her plan, part of the order of things.

Eric had started making use of the cheese and crackers, seeing as how they were just there and apparently there for him, too. Would have been a waste otherwise.

“She doesn’t live with me, she’s just staying with me,” he said.

“Oh, I’m sorry.”

He waved Fluttershy’s apologies aside - nothing to apologise for!

“No it’s okay, everyone keeps making that mistake. Lamia is great. She’s good, really good. Seems happier these days, which is nice. Uh, why do you ask?”

“Just curious. Batponies are very rare, it’s unusual having one around, especially like this.”

“Huh, fancy that,” Eric said, eating a cracker.

“And you two seem to be getting on,” Fluttershy said, proddingly, hoping to try and wheedle out of Eric even the merest hint of what his feelings about Lamia might actually be, if any.

Eric, meanwhile, had spent another semi-sleepless night worrying about much the same thing, desperately thinking himself in ever-decreasing exhausted circles before finally crashing out without having come to anything useful. A lot of the muddle from this was still floating about his brain and the prodding from Fluttershy was apparently all it took to unleashed a minor flood:

“She knitted me socks! Can you believe that? Girl just picked it up! Just like that. Literally too. I left my failed attempt lying around, she picked it up, did it. Pow. Think it was the first time she’d ever done it, too, at least the way she told it to me. I was very impressed. She’s pretty great, I think. Not just because she can make socks, obviously, just generally. Though making the socks herself was very impressive, as I say. The ones I got her I just bought! Oh, that reminds me - did you know that socks here have way more meaning than they do back home? Heh, what am I saying, of course you do, you live here! Weird, I thought, but then I’m the alien. Don’t think me and her had any meaning to it though. Right? I wouldn’t want her to get any wrong ideas. Whatever those might be. But then she did give me some too. But she’s been out in the wilds, has Lamia. Maybe she doesn’t know? Ah, now I’m just speculating. And babbling - hah! Ahaha! Sorry. I should, ah, let you get a word in edgewise.”

Fluttershy lost the thread in this daunting wall of talk fairly early on, but the thrust of it seemed pretty clear to her.

“You really like her, don’t you?”

“Who? Lamia? Um, yes I suppose I do. She’s - we’re friends. I’m everyone’s friend, me,” he said. Fluttershy had been expecting this answer, and had seen it coming.

She could see it now, plain as anything. He really had no idea. And unless she was direct - as Rainbow had said she should be - he would never have any idea. That decided it.

Despite having spent so long playing it safe, keeping it subtle, Fluttershy felt oddly at ease with the plunge she was about to take. A calm had descended. It was just what had to happen, she saw.

“Can I tell you something?” She asked.

“Anything,” Eric said, maneuvering dairy onto savoury.

She took a breath - the final bit:

“I had - have, I suppose - kind of a crush on you.”

Couldn’t get much more direct than that, short of shouting it.

Eric froze, a cheese-laden cracker halfway to his face, face like a smacked arse. He stared at her, waiting for the punchline to happen or for her to say something like ‘The look on your face!’ or anything like that. But she wasn’t doing anything like that. She was just staring at him much as he was staring at her, waiting to see how he’d react.

Slowly, he put the cracker down.

“I’m sorry? Did you just say…?”

He didn’t really need - or want - to specify what it was she might have just said. Fluttershy nodded, which was all she had to do. Eric swallowed.

“I don’t - I can’t say I’ve ever...thought about...you...like that…” He said, every word a painful effort.

Eric had only ever thought of Fluttershy the way he thought of everyone else he knew around Ponyville: they were all fantastic friends, up for a laugh, always ready to help one another out. That was the extent of it. That was just how it worked. What else could there be? They were all friends!

Indeed, the only person around he’d only ever felt even the merest flicker of anything different - more, perhaps - was Lamia. He’d brushed it aside, sure, but only because he was aware of it in some dim and distant way. Had he not been he wouldn’t have been trying to avoid it. And he had been trying to avoid it. And it just kept on coming back. Hence semi-sleepless night fretting about it. Which actually had to mean something, now he came to think of it.

And he’d only just properly confronted this. Just then. Just at that moment. Entirely because of what Fluttershy had said.

What a way and what a time to catch onto that!

“Oh…” Fluttershy said, downcast a moment before - with obvious effort - brightening again. “That’s okay.”

Not what he’d expected to hear.

“It is?”

She nodded, strained but holding, still managing to smile.

As much as it wasn’t what she’d wanted to hear, hearing it came as something of a relief. She hadn’t really understood just how much the doubt had been pressing down on her. Suddenly, knowing something - even if it wasn’t ideal - felt as though a weight had been lifted.

At least she knew now, right? No more living in a state of taut expectation. That had been a fairly unambiguous answer he’d given, though not without some wiggle room to work with, were she of a mind to do so at some point in the future.

Maybe.

But that wasn’t the point. The point was that, right now, at this moment, she knew that it just wasn’t her time. And that was fine. She could live with that.

Besides, she could always be patient...

“As long as you’re happy,” she said, smiling more widely and easily now, totally sincere.

“I’m always happy, me.”

“You are.”

Here the conversation petered out.

“I feel bad now. You did all this,” Eric said glumly, sweeping a hand across all the effort that Fluttershy had gone to on his behalf, only to have it all come to naught. That’s how he saw it, at least. Fluttershy saw it more softly than that.

“Oh that’s okay. We’re still friends, aren’t we?” She asked.

“I’d hope so!”

And they hugged, friendly-like, Fluttershy hopping up onto her hindlegs and Eric bending a little to sweep her in against himself. A big friendly hug, it was, and much needed by both of them.

At length, Eric let her back down again.

“Uh, sorry about...not returning your feelings and all that…” He said, entirely unsure how you were meant to word an apology like that. Fluttershy took his fumbling with good grace.

“You have nothing to be sorry about. It’s okay,” she said.

“Gosh you’re nice, Fluttershy.”

He then looked over again at the cheeseboard, which remained expansive.

“That is a lot of cheese for a little pony,” he said. It was, too - she’d put it together with Eric in mind and so had portioned accordingly. He was a big boy, at least by pony standards.

“Take some with you,” she said.

“Really? I wasn’t angling for that, you know.”

Partly true. It hadn’t been his intention, but it had been his quiet hope. Fluttershy, again, nodded, smiling.

“It’s not really my sort of thing.”

Not even her sort of thing and yet she’d got it all anyway! Eric felt even guilter than he had been before!

“Aww, you really went out of your way! Oh you, Fluttershy. You’re just so nice.”

She got another hug for that, which caught her by surprise.

Eric ended up leaving her cottage carrying a full-on picnic basket loaded with cheese and crackers, not to mention a few bottles of the beer. He was swigging from one of them as he left, unable to believe his luck.

“That could have gone worse,” he said, wiping his mouth on the back of his hand.

-

Although, really, as well as it had gone - extremely well, all things considered - that whole thing just raised more questions. Or at least it did for Eric.

He was concerned. Everyone was his friend, that had been the way things were. Now it turned out that Fluttershy had been secretly nursing more-than-friendly feelings for him? He’d had no idea! He hadn’t even considered the possibility! This changed everything!

And kind of threw his own more-than-friendly feelings for Lamia - which he reluctantly had to admit existed and did not appear to want to go away - into somewhat stark relief. What was he meant to do about those? He’d just shot poor Fluttershy down! What if he tried the same with Lamia and got the same result only with himself on the receiving end? Would be take it as well as Fluttershy had?

Or should he just keep quiet about it forever, hope it died down and then pretend it never happened? Did that sound like fun?

Eric had no idea.

So he decided to go and bend someone’s ear about it.

-

Twilight was, again, reading. She did this a lot whenever she wasn’t having to do anything else. It was kind of a reflex action.

There came a light tapping on the open door to the room in which she was reading. Her ear flicked.

“Yes?” She asked, not looking up.

“Knock knock, Twilight,” said Eric, whose voice she could tell a mile off. Little disconcerting she hadn’t heard him coming. She put it down to being too deep in the words.

Reaching the end of the line she was on Twilight hopped down from her seat and trotted over, beaming. Always nice to see Eric, if occasionally aggravating, depending on the topic of discussion.

“Hello Eric how are - is that a picnic basket?” She asked, eyes snapping down. Eric nodded and put a hand into the basket.

“Would you like a cracker?” He asked, holding out a cracker to her. Twilight went briefly cross-eyed given how close he was holding it to her face, then snapped out of it.

“I’m okay, thanks.” She said.

Eric ate the cracker. He’d already plied Spike with them on his way in. He hadn’t needed to, he just had so many of the damn things he felt he couldn’t get through them all on his own. Had Fluttershy got a bulk discount or something?

“Fair play. I had an ulterior motive in coming to see you, if you can believe that. Not just here to offer crackers,” he said, tapping a finger conspiratorially to his temple.

“Oh?”

“Yes. I rather wanted to ask you something in your capacity as Princess. Friendship and all that, eh?”

Twilight could see where this was going.

“This is about Lamia, isn’t it?”

Eric gasped, wounded.

“I - there are other people in my life, Twilight. I was at Fluttershy’s earlier, for instance. And you, for another instance. I’m talking to you right now,” Eric said, waving his finger about at Twilight. Twilight was not phased.

“About Lamia,” she pointed out.

Eric paused, finger still raised. Slowly, he lowered it.

“...fine. It’s just been a complicated time. Can I talk to you or not?” He asked.

Smiling, Twilight stepped aside.

“By all means.”

They went inside, Eric sitting in the very same chair he’d sat in the last time he’d come to see Twilight. Full circle? Well, a very small full circle, he supposed.

“Okay, before we start I have to ask: where did you get the basket from?” Twilight asked. Eric hefted it a moment and then set it down beside him.

“I was just over at Fluttershy’s. Hence the basket,” he said.

“She gave you food?”

“In a roundabout sort of a way. She, ah, hmm. I was there to check on some stuff I’d done there before but it instead turned into a rather brief conversation where Fluttershy asked about me and Lamia before, well, telling me that she herself has apparently been carrying something of a torch for me for a bit. Who knew, right?”

“Huh,” Twilight said, eyebrows raised. “You know, I never would have called that.”

“She was rather subtle about it.”

Given who was speaking Twilight would normally have doubted this, but given that apparently nopony else had picked up on it in this instance Eric might have been right.

“So what did you say?” She asked.

“I told her that I had never thought about her that way, which is true. She took it very well all things considered. Almost serene. But, uh, it was her asking me about Lamia that kind of...got to me...see, I’ve, well - this is why I’ve come to talk to you.”

“About Lamia,” Twilight said again, flatly.

“Yes yes alright, you can see me a mile off. You’re aware that Lamia and me are friends, yes?”

“Really. Hadn’t noticed that.”

He wagged a finger at her.

“Hah. Sarcasm, I like it. But yes, she and I are friends, no disputing that. It’s just, uh, well, lately I’ve feeling perhaps stronger, ah, feelings towards Lamia than just that. I think.”

“You think?”

“Well I’m not sure. It’s not the sort of thing dwell on usually, honestly. But she and I spend so much time together, you see - every day, actually - that it’s getting rather difficult to ignore. And I don’t really know what to make of it.”

“Maybe you like her more than just a friend,” Twilight said and Eric winced.

“Ah, heh, I suppose that’s a possibility but I’d prefer that not to be the case, all things considered,” he said, smiling weakly. A little weird, Twilight thought, cocking her head.

“Why?” She asked. Eric looked at her as though the answer should have been obvious. It certainly was to him.

“Well, that might sour our friendship, don’t you think?”

“You don’t think she likes you too?”

“Well as a friend, obviously yes, but as more than that I wouldn’t think so. I mean, why would she?”

Given that Fluttershy had not one hour before revealed that she might have entertained feelings greater than baseline friendship Eric’s boneheaded insistence on plodding straightforward in defiance of all evidence he shouldn’t was a little bit grating to Twilight. Not a surprise, but still grating.

“Didn’t you just say that you spend every day with her?” She pointed out.

“Yes. Just in the evenings and nights, obviously.”

“Obviously, right. And in all those evenings and nights she’s never mentioned...anything?”

“Anything about what?”

By this point in the conversation Twilight was rubbing her temples. If she didn’t know Eric better she’d think he was deliberating trying to annoy her. Since she did know him well enough to know he wasn’t, she was instead feeling annoyance build up at how anyone could be so resolutely cheerful and dim in the face of the blindingly obvious.

“Sun’s searing radiance, don’t you two talk to each other? How can both of you be missing this? You live together!”

“She doesn’t liv-”

Twilight snapped.

”YES SHE DOES, ERIC.”

Neither of them had expected that. Eric was gawking at her for having been so loud so suddenly and Twilight was sat looking amazed that that had slipped out. Eric was the first to recover:

“Okay, I’ll admit that maybe at this point it might be said to have gone a little bit beyond just staying over.”

“She was there when I asked you to make that painting for Rarity! That was three months ago! At least!”

He thought about this and jolted when it clicked that she was absolutely right. Even by his standards that was a little lengthy. Had it really been so long? The time had flown by...

“...okay...maybe she...might be...living with me…”

Eric went quiet after that, seeming to shrink in on himself.

“Not meaning to derail the conversation but how is that painting going, by the way?” Twilight asked. That birthday was coming up, after all. Eric sat upright at once at the mention of work.

“Oh, pretty good I’d say. Want to come around and have a look sometime?”

“Tomorrow?” Twilight offered. Eric nodded, counter-offering:

“Or later today, whenever works for you.”

That did actually work for her.

“Cool, alright. Where was I? Oh yeah, that was it: for the love of all that is pure and good in this world Eric please just talk to her. She really, really likes you. A lot.”

Another jolt, not to mention a sudden and entirely unforseen flutter of butterflies right in the gut. They dissipated quickly, sure, but they’re been there.

“She does?” He asked. Twilight ground her teeth.

“Yes! How can you not see that?”

“She said I was her best friend, I just thought...”

“Didn’t feel a need to read any more into that, huh? And Lamia didn’t think that would be unclear to you. Ugh. She can’t spit it out and you wouldn’t notice it if she did. You two are…”

“Quite the pair?” Eric offered. Twilight sandbagged his cheeky grin.

“Frustrating, is the word I would use.”

Fair play, thought Eric.

“That would also work.”

Seriously, why was Cadence never around when things like this happened? Did she have any books on the subject? Ooh, now there was an idea. Maybe she had some spare copies of dedicated works? Some she could send down if Twilight asked? There were still unused shelves somewhere around here Twilight was sure of it. She-

No! Not the time!

“Eric, this really isn’t my jurisdiction or anything I know a lot about. Even with that, though, I can see that you’re messing this up. Just go! Talk to her!”

“About what?”

Twilight actually growled.

“This! You! Her! She likes you! You like her! Just...figure it out! With her! Go talk! Go, go! Shoo!”

Eric found himself being forcefully ushered out of the castle by Twilight, who flapped along and shoved him. Given the significant difference in size and mass he had to help her in this by selling being shoved, which he did. It was polite.

On the threshold he turned around to say:

“Good talk, Twilight!”

“Shoo!”

A final heave-to by her got him out the door and she closed it behind him.

Author's Note:

And you might say "Hey, wait a minute! Why'd you bother setting up any fracas when it all just got talked out, easy as that!" and, you know, fair enough, but this is my house! If I want things resolved happily with conciliation and compromise and just a nice chat I will!

Besides, if anyone was going to happily step aside to let someone else have a shot at a good time it'd be Fluttershy, surely.