• Published 8th Jul 2019
  • 723 Views, 339 Comments

The Rains of Vanhoover - kudzuhaiku

It was raining in Vanhoover. It was always raining in Vanhoover.

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Permission to come within

The summer rains of Vanhoover were warm and smelt faintly of rotten eggs. Tater Blossom stood with her nose pointed into the warm breeze that blew northward, her eyes were closed, and she seemed unusually still for a pony who had pronked just a few hours ago. There was a traffic jam in the water as ferries, fishing boats, and other craft all contested with each other to get where they were going. Overhead, the sun shone down golden spears of light through the thin, patchy tufts of storm clouds that drifted north.

It was an exceptionally lovely day by local standards.

A pair of young griffons flew in circles overhead, the both of them tossing a ball back and forth to one another. Waves slapped against the stone retaining wall, a rhythmic sound that was somehow both soothing and jarring. One began to await the wet slap of a wave against the stone blocks, but it never happened when one expected. Seagulls shat everywhere, because that is what seagulls did; just more filth in an already grimy city.

Tater Blossom opened her eyes, looked about for a bit, blinked a bit more than was usual while she recovered her vision, and she smiled. Her head bobbed as she began to hum to herself, and her overall joy was almost infectious. Nut found his mood altered by her mood; the day just seemed better somehow in some vague, indefinable way. A nearby congregation of seals raised a ruckus when a flock of gulls drew too close, but no real trouble broke out.

“I like this better than Canterlot,” Tater Blossom said after a prolonged silence.

Nut offered a silent nod in return.

“Yer professor is nice, Nut. I like him.”

“Why, I say, I do believe that you charmed him, just as you’ve charmed so many others.”

“I couldn’t charm my family,” she said whilst she turned away to look in the other direction. “So I don’t think charm is my magic talent.”

“Oh. That. So that is what you have on your mind.” He leaned in a little closer, wondered if perhaps he was too close, and tried a gentle approach. “Your family was unaware of the treasure they possessed. They lacked the understanding of what they had. With the exception of your father, perhaps. Hickory I think had a glimmer of insight, but his ability to understand was hindered by his environment.”

“I don’t get it, Nut… I just don’t. My family… and everypony ‘round me in the Widowwood, they just got fed up with me. Even Pa got annoyed. Yet, in the… what’s it been, a week? In the past week or so, all the ponies I’ve met with you seemed to like me. It kinda hurts in a way, Nut. I mean, the world is full of nice ponies that seem to like me… but my family, they couldn’t stand me. What gives?”

“Well, to be fair, Tater, the ponies you’ve met with me aren’t the sort of ponies who revel in their own ignorance. The sorts who celebrate their own ineptitude and hold it up as a virtue. I keep better company. You’ll find small-minded sorts here as well, and inevitably, you’ll have to deal with them, just as you had to cope with your family.”

“Maybe.” Tater Blossom returned her gaze to Nut and looked up at him from the corner of her eye. “But right now, this… all this feels good. I don’t feel so downtrodden. I finally feel special, Nut. And I like it. I wanna see the world and I wanna keep feelin’ what I’m a-feelin’ right now. Like when I met your professor. We had us a talk ‘bout stuff that wasn’t stupid, like the weather, or the soil, or how things was a-growin, or all ‘bout the will of Almighty Celestia.”

“Meteorology can be a fascinating subject—”

“Not when the talk of weather is all about how the sun’ll shine if the Almighty Celestia wills it. And that’s all yer aloud to say about it, and askin’ questions ‘bout it will get ya switched.”

Nut winced.

“Yeah, now you understand.”

“Well,” he said to her in his most reassuring voice, “those days are over.”

Window shopping was an enchanting experience for Tater Blossom, and while Nut enjoyed it as well, he did wish that she wouldn’t press her nose against the glass. Mostly because the glass was filthy. Polluted rain, splatters from the mucky streets, the windows were all in a frightful state of filthiness. Window shopping was good because it slowed down their progress home.

He needed more time before he faced Black Maple.

“There’s so much stuff in the world, Nut. Where does it all come from?”

“Factories,” he replied, distracted with other things on his mind.

“So many things. The world is full of stuff. Most of this stuff is things I ain’t never seen.” She raised her left foreleg, gestured at everything around her, blinked a few times, drew in a deep breath, held it for a time, and said, “There is so much to see. How do I see it all? I wanna follow a teacup’s journey from the place it was made to the window it now sits in. I wanna see how stuff works. How everything is all connected. There’s so much to understand.”

“Well, when a teapot and a tea kettle love each other very much, one sits on a hot spot so that it might sing a lovely song for the other—”

“Nut… hush.” The earth pony filly snorted in his general direction.

“Love changes the flow of time, you know.”

“Does it now?” She cast her best dubious expression in his direction, a look that she borrowed from him. “And how does love change the flow of time?”

“Spend ten minutes with somepony that you love, and it feels like ten seconds. No amount of time is ever enough. But, like the tea kettle, if you sit down on a hot stove for ten seconds, it will feel like ten minutes, or even ten hours. There is peculiar magic at work, Tater.”

“Nut… yer weird.”

“I am in a weird place right now. That much is for certain. Spending time with Pod… it changed a few things. I still love her, just not in the way I thought I did. There’s no way to put it into words. She’s very dear to me, and the time we spent together was far too short. There is another though, and the time we spend apart now feels far too long, but for some reason, I am avoiding her and delaying my return.”

With a turn of his head, he looked into the window. He saw teacups, plates, platters, teapots, along with all manner of crockery and kitchenware. Also in the glass, he saw his own reflection. The wind had done quite a number on his appearance, but he liked to think that he was handsomely disheveled.

“Black Maple,” said Tater Blossom in a knowing manner. “Ya know, Nut, ya didn’t look at Pod the same way ya do Black Maple. I feel funny talkin’ ‘bout it, like maybe it ain’t my business. Maybe it’s time you went back and sorted things out.”

He stared at his own reflection and had nothing to say.

“Pod told me to tell you that you can’t stay like this forever. She said it would sour into resentment. I don’t know what she means, and when I asked her, she done told me that you’d know. Pod said to seal the deal or break it off.”

The unicorn reflected in the glass window slumped.

“Did Pod tell you anything else?” he asked.

“Only that if you break it off, I’m to send her a telegram. But I don’t know how.”

“One more thing I shall have to teach you.” He sighed and resigned himself to his terrible fate. “Let’s go home. There’s no sense in delaying this any longer.”

Perhaps a visit to Princess Cadance was in order. Or enlisting with the Fancy Foreign Legion. Yes, these were good options, with both of them preferable to the current situation. Surely Princess Cadance would have helpful advice or perhaps even a solution, because the idea of facing the rude, boorish, aggressive pegasus left Nut a little sweaty. A little shaky. Yet, for all of his fear, Nut was more afraid of a life without her. He thought back to his curious moment in Donut Joe’s, when he knew for certain that he and Pod wanted very different things.

He still hadn’t sorted things out, and yet here he was…

Just what was he doing?

Carriage Row Lane was almost deserted. But it almost always was. The rear entrances were back here; this was mostly a service alley. How many times had he walked from the garage to Black Maple’s Alehouse & Inn? These slick, mildewed cobblestones were no stranger to his hooves; he knew each and every one of them. He heard the clip-clop of hooves on the next street over, where the library’s front entrance was located.

And then, he was no longer alone. The lane was no longer deserted. A mare as red as scarlet sin now stood near the rear door of Black Maple’s Alehouse & Inn. Nut stared at her while she watched him, and he heard a sharp exhale from Tater Blossom. A second later, the excitable earth pony filly was galloping down the empty lane, and he could not fault her for her enthusiasm.

It took him a moment to will his hooves to move, but he did follow; slowly.


“Tater! You’re back. Am I glad to see you.”

She ran a bit too hard, a little too fast, and when Tater tried to come to a stop, the slick, treacherous cobblestones had other plans. With a cry, she skidded right into Red Maple, there was a meaty smack, and much to Nut’s startled amazement, Red soaked up the blow as if it were nothing. Why, the pegasus mare didn’t even budge; she wasn’t knocked back a single scant inch. Most of Tater Blossom’s forward half vanished behind Red Maple’s wings, and Nut watched the pair with keen interest whilst he approached.

“The newspapers made the crash sound terrible and tragic,” Red Maple said to Nut. “Poor Blackie has been beside herself. For two ponies that were aboard an airship that went down in a flaming heap, you two seem well enough.”

“This is why I don’t read newspapers,” Nut replied.

“A soldier was made the hero of this tragedy, a Private Strangewing, but the papers also mention that one of the Night Lady’s agents were aboard. Witnesses tell of an epic battle between spy and saboteur before the ship plummeted to its fiery demise.”

Upon hearing this, Nut came to a halt and thought about swearing.

“Seems to me that Private Strangewing has the approachable good guy face in all of this, while the Night Lady’s agent remains terrifying, mysterious, and unknown. Funny thing is, ponies fear the unknown. That aspect was hyped up a great deal. The agent was made out to be incredibly dangerous—”

Nut rolled his eyes.

“—and armed with an umbrella.”

Before Nut could say anything, Tater Blossom began to giggle, and Red Maple gave her a squeeze. The pegasus and the earth pony had a laugh together, while the tweed-wearing unicorn scowled his most horrendous scowl, the one reserved for special occasions. Tater Blossom chuckled, but also wickered and whinnied as she rubbed her neck against Red Maple’s.

“Blackie is upstairs. In her room. She’s having a stress molt, so she’s real sensitive about how she looks right now. I know you’ll be nice to her, Nut.” Red Maple pulled her wings away from Tater Blossom and gave the filly her full attention. “You and I are going to go out and have a nice time while Nut and Blackie sort things out.” Then it seemed that the pegasus noticed the deer beanie, and she covered her mouth with one wing to suppress her laughter.

“I don’t know how to fix this,” Nut said much to his own dismay.

“If you allow things to happen, this will probably fix itself.” Red Maple turned serious for a moment and all traces of mirth vanished from her. “Blackie realised that she’s a better pony with you than without you. She understands that you bring out the best in her. But she’s a long way from the pony that she wishes to be. You’re the only pony that will stand up to her overbearing equinality and push back.”

“But… I don’t know if I need her in the same way she needs me. Ugh, that sounds so heartless, but it’s true.” He sighed, his heart sank, and there was an unpleasant tightness in the girth of his barrel. “A pony shouldn’t need another pony to complete them. They should be whole on their own. I’m having trouble with all of this.”

“Then tell her that. Go upstairs and say that to her. Sort this out. A choice has to be made. Either break it off or commit. Black Maple is not in a good place right now. She’s a strong little cuss. A break up will devastate her, but she’ll recover and then sort her life to whatever it will be without you in it. Blackie and I had some hard talks while you were away.”

“You don’t mind looking after Tater Blossom for a while?” he asked.

Red Maple said nothing, but gestured at the door with her face and ears.

“Right,” Nut said to himself. “Let’s get this over with.”

There was no point in knocking. They were well past the point of knocking on the door. Besides, she no doubt heard him coming, and probably expected him. It was warm in the hallway, stuffy, a reminder that true summer had finally arrived. Each step brought him closer and he fought the urge to rehearse the conversation in his head. That would only cause disappointment, or even anger, as these sorts of confrontations never went the way that one rehearsed for them. It was best to leave his expectations at the door.

He pushed open the door and let himself in. There was a squeak from inside the nest box, followed by a soft moan and another squeak. Nut’s ears pricked, his body froze, he cocked his head in the direction of the nest box, and breathed in an intoxicating musky smell that set every nerve in his body on fire.

“This is awkward,” Black Maple said from within her box.

His face ablaze, Nut heard a wet squish, a sound that left him curiously thirsty.

“I was just trying to cheer myself up,” Black Maple said, her voice somewhat muffled.

Perhaps he should have knocked. Nut began to second guess himself. He’d stormed right into Black Maple’s boudoir without ever once thinking about what she might be doing in the privacy of her own quarters. Worst thing of all though, he was curious. She had no front legs. How did she go about the business of scratching the itch? He tried to clear his thoughts, but the musky perfume wafting out of her nest box sapped his willpower.

“You know, Nut… a gentlepony would have excused himself by now so that I could finish.” There was a long pause, two very distinct sighs, a moist squelch, and then she added, “Point of no return, Nut. If you’re not going to leave, common courtesy demands that you offer a lady some assistance.”

Nut’s hooves betrayed him with forward movement. With magic, he shut the door behind him, whilst he wondered just what was it that he was doing. He still had the presence of mind to ask why, but the sweetness of the musky perfume clouded his thoughts, and robbed him of reason. There was a soft creak from the nest box, a low groan, and a thump. For reasons unknown, the thump was intriguing. What could possibly thump?

At last, he found his tongue, which felt weirdly disconnected and far too large for his mouth. “We squabbled. Well, we squabble a lot. Some things were said.” After a moment of consideration, he added, “I stuffed you into a sack.”

“Yes you did,” she replied from within her nest box. “And that caused a pornado of dirty fantasies. Which I am trying to deal with right now, in my own way. But it’s hard to carry on a conversation and do what I’m doing… which is me. I’m doing me. Myself. I’m a lonesome little pegasus trying to fight the pornado all alone.”

He found himself wondering what the proper etiquette was for this situation. Caliginous Dark hadn’t included anything about this in his lessons. Did one open up a pegasus’ nest box and peep inside? Perhaps if it were empty. But with the pegasus inside, and in a state of carnal excitement—opening the door felt dangerous, like facing a den full of basilisks, or attempting to ambush vampire rats on a sinking airship.

Opening the door would change his life. Possibly in ways he could not foresee. He thought of Pod; she was engaging in premarital coitus and no one seemed too upset about it. But then again, it might be argued that such activity between two mares might not be coitus in the traditional sense. It occurred to him what it was that he was doing, and at the worst possible moment. His thoughts were constantly pulling him away from what mattered, what was important.

“Might I have permission to come within?”

The sudden explosion giggles caused him a great deal of confusion.

Why giggles?

“Nut… before you open that door, there’s something you should know.”

He paused, and waited for Black Maple to continue.

“Before you come within, you should know that I’m not on the pill.”

Now, Nut was overcome with sweaty hesitation.

At least she’d been honest. That counted for something, though right now, at this very moment, he wasn’t sure what. She could have entrapped him—but the truth was, he’d stumbled into this trap on his own. There was a lot that needed to be discussed, things that had to be said, very important things, none of which seemed all that important at the moment. His horn ignited with a faint, flickering glow, and almost holding his breath, he pulled open the nest box door.

Right away, he was blasted with musky humidity, the heat and scent of which left him dizzy and weak in the knees. It was like opening the door to a sauna. He peeked in, trying to see past the shadows, and when his eyes adjusted, he saw her. Black Maple’s pupils were pinpricks due to the sudden light—and that was all that he could see. No other details presented themselves, because he could not look away from her eyes.

“Wait,” she said in a husky whisper. “Before anything happens… this can’t happen if there’s a breakup afterwards. I don’t know your intentions. As much as I want this to happen, I’m scared about what comes after.”

“I came to find a way for us to fit together,” he found himself saying, and his own honesty was surprising. “But there’s a lot that we need to sort out.”

“Take your clothes off, Nut. Then, get in and close the door. Don’t keep me waiting.”

Uncertain of what he was getting himself into, Nut began to undo his buttons.

It was hot and humid, and everything was damp. Black Maple was exceptionally damp, her mane was soaked with sweat and clung to her face. He could feel her stumps twitching against him as she lay there in a heap against his side. As much as he wanted space to cool off, he could not bear to push the drenched mare away from him, so he endured the unpleasant moist heat of her body against his. He could feel sweat pooling in his navel, and it trickled down the inside of his ears. In a state of gross bliss, Nut dared not move, for fear of spoiling what might be the most perfect moment of his life.

“You were right, you know,” she said in a voice that was not quite a whisper, but was still hushed and soft. “I do punish myself with my legs. I do, I do. They hurt me, cause me discomfort, rub me raw, and I keep telling myself that I deserve it. I deserve every minute of it. And sometimes, I do things that makes it all worse. I don’t know how to stop, Nut.” Her confession was interrupted by a yawn—

Which in turn, caused Nut to do the same.

“I need help, Nut. Just like I told my mother, I just can’t do this on my own. I can’t. Don’t know why. Please don’t think that I’m trying to emotionally manipulate you by telling you this. I spent hours telling my mom, and she kept telling me that I need to tell you, and I kept saying to her that I was scared that you’d see it as something else, and this… this right now is the hardest thing I’ve ever done and I’m scared that I’ve messed up and broken your trust, and that right now you’re thinking all of this is just me manipulating you.”

Her hind leg shifted and he felt her moist, fuzzy thigh rub up against his own. She was naked and vulnerable right now, fragile in some way that he didn’t understand. Not all that long ago, she had writhed against him, below him, above him, beside him; she had allowed him to explore her secret places without reservation. Now, she seemed on the verge of tears. He was quite unprepared for this much intimacy, and wasn’t sure how to respond.

“We’ll sort this out together.” It felt like the right thing to say, considering what had just taken place between them.

“Now that you’ve said that, I feel like I can breathe again.” She drew in a deep breath, held it, and then let everything out in a slow exhale that lasted for several long seconds. Again, she inhaled, held it, and exhaled. “I want to help you too. While you were away, I bought a little something for Tater.”

“Did you now?”

“I did. Princess Celestia’s Secondary School by Mail. My mother dragged me off to the department store to keep me from sulking. It has books to study and records with lessons, and some of those lessons are taught by Princess Celestia herself. And you don’t need a record player, it came with one. The box says it adheres to the highest possible education standards and that every lesson has Princess Celestia’s seal of approval.”

Nut was touched; so much so that he didn’t have words.

“Mom said it was a good idea. Tater will be able to work through the lessons at her own pace and when she’s done, she’ll have a diploma. We can help her if she runs into trouble. You… and I. Together. We’re together, right?”

“It seems we are.”

“I thought I lost my best friend. After you left, I almost lost it. You were gone, but I really wanted to talk to you. Salvage things. Fix things. Make things right. But you were gone, and I was stuck with my mom, and I had no choice but to take a good long look at myself. That was bad, Nut. I saw some stuff I didn’t like, but it is so much a part of me that I don’t know how to change it.”

Her breath was hot against his neck, and left his pelt saturated with moisture. It was as though he was braised in his own juices, which made him pause and wonder how a pony would know what braised meat felt like. A part of him was stunned that he’d done the deed with Black Maple, while another part of him decided that all of this felt right. She knew what she was doing, while he did not, so he just allowed things to happen.

Allowing himself a brief moment of insecurity, he asked, “How was I? I mean, I don’t have a yardstick to measure by. Did all of the right things happen?”

Much to his surprise, Black Maple seemed to purr. It was an odd sound, one that he did not expect, but there was something about the low throaty rumble that got his attention. Other parts of his body responded and he felt his stomach muscles twitch as Black Maple wiggled beside him. This was quite surreal; he was one of two ponies inside of a cupboard, and the pegasus was practically purring.

“You were perfectly average and adequate in every way.”

“That’s uh… reassuring—”

“But not what you wanted to hear. Right?”

“I don’t know what I wanted to hear. Or what I expected.”

“There’s something to be said for average and adequate,” Black Maple said in a throaty, conspiratorial whorehouse whisper that was pure sex given sound. She slid her leg up and over Nut’s belly, and she bent her head so that she could whisper into his ear. “Don’t get upset, Nut, but I’ve seen a few foal poles in my line of work. Big ones, little ones, perfectly average ones. There’s a whole lot of foal poles in the world.

“While the big ones can be fun, they’re also a pain. It stings a lot, there’s a lot of preparation involved, and afterwards, there’s a period of recovery. It’s a bit like birthday cake, Nut. The really rich and decadent kind. It’s nice for a treat, but you can’t eat it every day. Now, with being perfectly average, you can indulge every day. No guilt. No consequences. No sore tuchus that you can’t sit down on.”

“That… that might very well be the most reassuring, most sensible, most honest thing I’ve ever heard you say, Blackie.”

“Oh, how sweet. Hearing you say that makes me feel better.”

Much to his surprise, she climbed atop him and straddled his ribs. He felt her damp body against his, and there was a faint, cool breeze as she waved her wings around to keep her balance. What he felt could only be described as drunkenness; he was intoxicated with infatuation. But as nice as all of this was, there was still a lot that had to be discussed.

There was time though.

They had time.

This moment was too pleasant for it to end so suddenly.

“A few days ago, there was a freezing squall. Now, it’s all hot. And sticky. So very sticky. At least, I’m sticky. I propose that we continue to canoodle in the shower.” She paused for a time, and when she spoke again, her voice was serious to the point of being stern. “You know, Nut… I’ve shared my bed with a few fellas… and I suppose you’ll have to be comfortable with that. But that isn’t what I wanted to say. I mean, it kinda was. Sorry, I’m a mess and I’m distracted. What I’m trying to say is, I’ve never had a fella in the shower with me. I don’t know if you’ll understand, but it is a pegasus thing. Preening, cleaning, and grooming are far, far more intimate than boning. I’m actually more scared of inviting you into the shower with me than my bed, because that means something, and the moment my mother hears about a shared shower, or a bath, or anything along those lines, there’s gonna be a talk. I don’t know if I can explain to you how serious this is. Wow, right now, I feel really awkward… just like I did when it was my first time. This cannot be more awkward.”

“I’ve showered with another mare,” Nut said in the most serious tone he could muster.

“So I’m not your first.” Black Maple sighed and there was nothing at all funny about the situation. “It’s strange. We’re both ponies, but we’re so different. Values, culture, the way we do things. Mom said it was fine for me to play with colts, but she told me that premarital preening was the one thing that she would never forgive me for.”

“We’re not married,” Nut said as he was gripped with a sense of alarm that rapidly grew.

“She might throw stuff at you. Or cuss. She might be totally fine with it because she likes you and trusts you. Or, you know, she might just kill both of us. Pretty sure you’ll go quick and clean, and I doubt you’ll feel a thing… but mine will be painful. Prolonged. It’ll be awful.” Her powerful thigh muscles quivered against Nut’s sides. “If worse comes to worse, I’ll keep her distracted so you can escape.”

“You’re being serious.”

She sighed. “Oh, I am. And when we raise our own little flock, you’ll need to learn all these customs and rituals.”

“How crazy are pegasus ponies that hygiene is somehow elevated above sex?” he asked.

“Trust, Nut. There’s no real difference between fighting and fronking. They’re just things that happen. The proud pegasus pony tradition of conquest and rape. We’d swoop down, raze a community, have our way with our captives, and about a year later, after we’d lived on whatever fat the land had to offer, we’d have a whole bunch of new recruits. Once we had them, we’d leave behind any unicorns or earth ponies born and we’d raise our new little soldiers up in the clouds where it was safe. A few years later, we’d return—surprise!—and repeat the process all over again.

“But preening is when you let your guard down. A pegasus could kill another pegasus in open combat, such as a duel… but to kill another pegasus while preening… eeeugh. That’d get you a slow, painful death. You might get your wings axed and then shoved off a high cloud. You’d have some time to think about the wrong you’ve done as you fell.”

“You really are being serious.”

“I wouldn’t joke about this. Will you join me?”

It dawned on Nut what Black Maple was really asking. Though he didn’t fully understand it, he respected it. She had her ways, and he had his… though he’d abandoned many of his own ways when he left Canterlot. He didn’t belong there, and that was exactly why things wouldn’t work out between Pod and himself. Perhaps it was time for new traditions, new ways. This might be a way for him and Black Maple to start over, in a sense. A chance to make things right.

With the loss of her front legs, she was largely disconnected from her own culture.

Perhaps together…

“I would very much like to join you,” he said to her with as much sincerity as he could muster. “Are there any rules I should know about?”

“Oh.” She seemed surprised, and Nut wondered why. “Uh… um… I didn’t expect you to show this much interest.” She thoughtfully fanned his face with her wing. “Think of it as a time of truce and trust. No fighting. No bickering. No obnoxious behaviour. It’s like teatime. You put on your best manners and be nice.”

“That sounds pleasant. Are you sure you can behave?”

“We can fight later. Right now, I want peace between us until I know that everything is alright.”

“Very well then. I agree to your terms.”

“And I to yours.”

“There’s a lot we need to talk about.”

“Well, I won’t kick you for being long-winded.”

“And I shan’t curse at you.”

“Nor I you.”

She leaned down, kissed him, and then lingered, her lips pressed against his own. He raised his sweaty forelegs, wrapped them around her neck, and then spent a moment enjoying this newfound sense of closeness. Perhaps a truce is what they needed, but this went beyond a simple truce. This was something else entirely. Something more meaningful. It wasn’t quite common ground, but it might give them something to work from.

“Would you please carry me to the shower? I don’t want to put on my legs just to walk down the hallway and have to pull them off again.”

“Yes, Blackie… I will carry you because you asked.”

Author's Note:

An interesting peek into pegasus culture. Well, some pegasus culture. There are different tribes of pegasus ponies.

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