• Published 18th Jun 2020
  • 4,971 Views, 638 Comments

Unending Love - Azure Notion

After trials and heartache, Firefly, undercover changeling love collector and wife, received a wonderful and joyous gift. But what will happen when the inevitable fallout of the failed Canterlot invasion reaches her home?

  • ...

Act I ~ Chapter 2

The sounds of dishes clinking, ponies chattering, and coffee brewing had long since died down in the Sweet Roast Cafe. The afternoon rush had passed hours ago and there were rarely more than a few dozen ponies that came between then and closing time.

Looking up at the clock displaying above their barista station for the third time that hour, Fine Roast decided ten minutes after closing time was long enough. He turned and eyed the two mares quietly chatting over their empty drinks, tea and coffee if Roast remembered their orders correctly. He and Sweet Leaf—or Firefly, he was still figuring out which to call her—liked to give their customers a bit of leeway past closing time before asking them to leave, normally around fifteen minutes.

Roast thought it cute that the two mares were still playing games with each other. They’d come to the cafe three times in the past week, slowly losing their nervous hesitance in front of the other and opening up. He hoped one would just make the jump and ask the other on a proper date. Really, he did want to give them a little more time to spend together, like he normally tried to do with their customers, but he was a little anxious to be done early tonight. He had an outing to go to.

He walked out of the barista area and towards the two mares. “Good evening ladies,” Roast began as he arrived at their table, the customers ceasing their conversation and turning to him. “Sorry to interrupt, but our cafe closed a little bit ago.”

“Oh!” the cyan mare on the left exclaimed. “Sorry, time just slips by when in good company.”

“R-Right.” Her light gray companion hastily and a little awkwardly pushing out her seat and standing.

He fought to keep a silly grin off his face. Maybe not all their nervousness was gone.

“That’s alright.” He gave them a friendly smile. “I wanted to let you know so you could start wrapping up.”

“It’s fine,” the first mare looked over at her not-marefriend, “we were just about done anyway.”

“Yep!” The gray mare nodded her head. “Totally done!”

Roast noticed the almost-hurt look the cyan mare gave her friend and felt bad for her as she quickly replaced it with a happy smile.

She pushed her chair back and stepped away from the table. “We’ll get out of your mane. Thanks for the delicious tea!”

“Yes, thank you, er, for the coffee. For me,” the cyan mare verbally stumbled out.

Poor girl. She’s not got a clue what she’s doing to her friend. Roast couldn’t help but think. “You’re very welcome and I hope you two have a wonderful night.”

Roast turned around and began walking back to the barista station, overhearing their conversation in the quiet cafe.

“Would you like to, uh, go to a, I mean, go see something?” The gray mare asked.

“I have work early in the morning. I… don’t think it would be good to stay out that late.”

Roast stopped and fought not to turn around. He knew he shouldn’t interfere, but it was so sad watching them tiphoofing around each other.

He turned back, losing the battle against himself. “Erm, ladies. If you’re looking for a nice place to check out, there’s a decently sized park a few blocks south of here. It’s got a nice hill that’s great for watching the sunset.”

The mares looked at him for a short moment longer before turning and looking at each other.

“Would you—” “That sounds—” They both spoke at once.

“Sorry, you first.” The cyan mare said.

Her friend looked at the floor and pawed a hoof. “I was just going to say that sounds kind of nice and, uh, do you wanna go?”

Her friend let out a giggle. “Yes! I mean, yes. I think it would be fun.” She turned to Roast. “You said it was just south of here?”

Roast offered them another smile. “It is! Once you leave the cafe, take a left, then turn right at the next cross street. It’s just a few blocks down on the left. You can’t miss it.”

“Okay! Thank you mister Roast.” She walked towards the cafe entrance, her friend quickly following.

“You’re welcome and have a nice night,” he said again, waving goodbye.

Once they’d left the shop, he looked up at the clock and noticed it was nearly six twenty. He’d need to hurry cleaning if he wanted to make it on time. He began his usual tasks of wiping down equipment and emptying old coffee grounds. After a few minutes, the cafe entrance door jingled open. He looked over and saw Sweet Leaf… Firefly… his wife enter, carrying a bag of trash.

He continued scrubbing one of his coffee maker seals as he heard his wife’s hoofsteps go past him into the kitchen. The noise of the kitchen door opening and closing resounded a moment later then once more as she came back in. She walked back into the cafe proper and came to a stop next to the barista area. He looked over and saw her beholding an amused smile and raised eyebrow.

“What?” he asked flatly, pausing his scrubbing.

“Just what did you say to those young mares?” she asked back. “I see you talking with them from out front and then they come out a minute later, flushed with barely restrained love and excitement.”

He set the brush down and faced her. “You can’t tell me you didn’t notice the eggshells those two were walking on. I told them we were closing and neither wanted to go home, but they knew they couldn’t stay here.” He ignored the fact that the look still hadn’t left her face. “So, before they could talk themselves into doing nothing, I told them they could watch the sunset down at Legacy Park.”

She stared a moment later and let out a few giggles, rolled her eyes. “No subtlety at all there, hmm?”

“That wasn’t—” he began, but huffed and looked away. He didn’t really know what to say to that.

“Sorry, I just couldn’t help but think that you wouldn’t make a very good changeling.”

Roast looked back at her indignantly, unsure how to take that. He wasn’t trying to unnaturally shove them together and besides, it seemed to turn out alright. In his opinion, he thought he read the situation pretty well.

Her expression fell as she looked him in the eyes. She sat down on the floor where she was and looked down. “Great. And apparently I’ve forgotten how to be a good wife.”

Roast’s brows furrowed, trying to understand the sudden shift. His eyes widened in recognition when he remembered she could sense his emotions. She must have noticed her remark cut him a little.

“Sweet, it’s okay. I know you didn’t mean it.”

She looked up at him with a hint of… anger? “You stand up for me all the time, Roast. Why don’t you stand up for yourself once in a while?”

“You’re angry at me for… for trying not to be angry at you?”

“No. Yes. No! Augh!” She put her head in her hooves. “I’m sorry. I didn’t think about it before I opened my mouth.” She put her hooves down and looked back up at him. “I’m the one who’s a terrible changeling right now.”

Roast wasn’t sure what to do, so he did the only thing he could think of. He walked over and wrapped her in a hug. She snorted and, after a moment, returned the hug.

After a moment, he let her go and looked at her, but she didn’t meet his gaze.

“I’m sorry, Roast,” she said again. “I still need more time.”

“It’s alright, I can—”

Wait. Time. His eyes widened and he stepped back, turning to look at the clock. If he didn’t leave in the next five or so minutes, he ran the risk of being late.

“Er, hon,” Roast turned back to her, “I have my weekly get-together with my friends in half an hour. Maybe you could use that time to sort your thoughts out?”

“What?” she asked, a questioning look on her face. “I thought those were on Sundays.”

He shook his head. “Yes, normally. I must have forgotten to tell you. Straight Angle came by a few mornings ago…” he trailed off and thought for a moment. “Actually, he came by Tuesday and, uh, you were there. Well… kind of.”

“Kind of?” She furrowed a brow in confusion.

“You were, oh what was your name, Mint Something.”

“Oh, yes. Orange Mint,” she answered, nodding her head. “I remember seeing him, but I must not have overheard that part.”

“He came to tell me Silver Trinket is going out of town on Saturday for a week to visit her parents and they wanted to do a get-together before then.” He then pawed a hoof at the floor. “And you, well, you said yesterday that you could make it up to me for doing cleaning. I’m not trying to count favors, but would you mind…?”

“Yes, I can cover cleaning.”

He gave her a grateful smile. “Thank you, Sweetie.”

“You’re welcome.” She returned his smile. “Are the three of you doing your usual of bowling and dinner?”

“No, not tonight. We all have to work tomorrow and the others wanted to get home before their special someponies went to bed.”

“Oh, well that’s kind of sad.” Sweet Leaf stood up and walked into the barista area. “You four should think about doing something other than your usual. Spice it up a little.”

“Yeah, I can ask them, but uh, hon. I kind of need to go.”

She glanced up at the clock before turning to him. “Right, sorry. Go enjoy yourself!”

“We will.” Roast walked towards her, wrapping his wife in a quick hug. “I’ll see you tonight.”

Fine Roast followed the hostess inside his and his friends’ usual hangout, the Southside Grill. Thanks to his wife, he’d been able to leave a few minutes earlier than intended and along the way, he’d maintained a brisk trot. To his surprise, he ended up arriving before any of the others had.

It was strange for Roast, seeing the place with far fewer ponies about on a Thursday than on early evening Sundays. Normally the din of the crowded restaurant would drown out any low conversation, but tonight there were less than ten tables occupied. Though the sound was far less than he was used to, the atmosphere hadn’t changed a bit.

The dark blue walls were still well lit by the conservative lamp-like chandeliers. The staff was still polite, giving off happy and energetic vibes. And the jukebox at the back of the restaurant was still playing out some new alternative band he’d not heard before.

“Here’s your seat!” the hostess said, standing slightly past the table to Roast’s right, gesturing with her hoof.

Roast climbed into the booth, sliding in on the nearest side.

“Here’s your menu.” She placed the large rectangular laminated booklet in front of him, then set a stack of three menus at the edge of the table. “And here’s the menus for your friends. Your server will be with you soon.”

“Thank you,” Roast replied, picking up his menu. It hadn’t changed since their last get-together last Sunday. He already knew what they had, having been coming here with the gang well over a dozen times, but with nothing else to do, he decided to look it over anyway.

They always liked to start with an onion ring tower appetizer, so that was always the first thing to order. Once he’d gotten to the entree section, he pursed his lips. He kept flipping the pages back and forth between the stuffed eggplant parmesan and double stacked hayburger.

“Here you are, ma’am!” A voice broke him out of his dinner thoughts.

“Thank you,” a familiar voice said.

She came into sight as her light pink form passed the glass divider, her dark pink mane done up in her usual short ponytail. She turned her head and a little smile grew on her face as she saw him. “Hey, Roast.”

“Silver!” he exclaimed as she slid into the opposite side of the booth.

“How’s our favorite coffee connoisseur?” Silver Trinket bumped Roast’s hoof across the table.

“Decently good. Had some interesting times at the cafe lately.”

“Interesting times sound interesting,” she restated. “You’ll have to regale us once the others get here.”

“Yep.” He nodded. “Hey, what do you think I should get, the—”

“Ahp!” She held up her light pink hoof, interrupting him. “Pick a number between one and ten.”

Roast groaned and rolled his eyes. “Really? Again?”

“Yes really.” She imitated his eye roll with her soft blue ones. “You ask us like every other time.”

“I do not!” he refuted, holding a hoof to his chest.

“Okay, fine. Maybe once every three times,” she conceded. “So, pick a number.”

He grumbled again before giving in. “Fine. Six.”

“Then get the first thing you were going to tell me.”

“You could have just said that.”

“And miss out on getting to tease you?” She leaned in, only a little bit predatory. “Not a chance.”

“Yeah, fine.” He looked away with a half grin on his face, waving a hoof dismissively at her. “I’ll get the eggplant parmesan then.”

“I don’t think you’ve had that in a while.” She grabbed a menu with her magic, opening and looking through it.

“Nope. It’s been a bit. Server also hasn’t been by yet.”

She looked up, mischievously. “Mm, so you didn’t get to order the tower.” She went back to her menu.

“Not yet.” Roast confirmed with a little glare, shaking his head.

“So, how’re the coffee machines doing?” Silver asked from behind her menu. “None of them are acting up, are they?”

“Nope. They’ve been working plenty well since the last time you fixed them.”

“Mm, good. Those things are a pain to take apart. Not as much as some of the machines I have to work on, but still.”

“Right.” He put an elbow on the table, resting his chin on his hoof. “So, Miss Trinket, Angle told me you’re heading back to Canterlot.”

“Yep,” Silver Trinket said simply, staring at her menu.

“Aaand you’re going to see your parents?” he asked again, squinting an eye.

“Yep,” she repeated, still not looking at him.

He simply stared at her for a moment. “And that’s it?”

“That’s it.”

“I… thought you weren’t on good terms with them.”

She set her menu down and sighed. “I’m not, really.”

“Then why are you—”

“Because,” she cut him off and looked at him, “when your rich noble parents decide to have a ball to celebrate a new princess’s marriage and tell said princess that their ‘amazing’ daughter is going to be there, it’s kind of hard not to go. And now I’m not going for just one week, but two.

“They had to push back the party by a week thanks to the whole thing about those changeling creatures trying to take over Canterlot. But they still want me to come the first week because they’re ‘so concerned for their precious daughter,’” she mocked.

“That, uh, doesn’t sound very good. But couldn’t you just, well, not go?” Roast asked.

“Yeah, sure. And then word gets out that their daughter had a hissy fit and refused to attend.” She rolled her eyes seriously this time. “Hoofington might not have the biggest sociocultural climate, but there are a few customers that it would hurt to lose. In more than one way.”

“Are those customers really that big a part of your revenue?”

“Kind of, but not really,” Silver waffled, tilting her head side to side. “The few appliances they do call for me to repair are big and expensive enough that they hardly ever break. But if they could influence other customers…” she let the words hang in the air.

“Do you think, maybe—”

“Roast, please.” Exasperation painted her face. “I really don’t want to talk about it.”

He put a hoof up to placate her. “Alright, alright.” Silence hung in the air for a few seconds as Roast thought where to take the conversation. “So, how’s the pawn shop doing?”

She picked up the menu and started reading it again, shrugging her shoulders. “It’s alright. The number of customers ebb and flow and it’s sitting around average right now, maybe a little less. More buys than sells at the moment, though.”

Roast Nodded. “Yeah, I can—”

“There’s two of my favorite ponies!”

Both he and Silver looked up at the interruption. Walking up to their table was a tall dark cyan colored stallion, closely followed by a smokey white one.

“Hey Angle. Hey Sketch,” Silver greeted.

“Hey guys.” Roast waved and smiled, then looked again at the off white pony’s purple and lighter purple mane. “Got a new mane color, huh Sketch?”

Straight Angle gave the lanky white pegasus a couple slaps on the withers. “He sure did! My hubby did another special for him and I think it looks great!”

“Yes, Roast dear, I decided it was time to change once again.” Quick Sketch flipped his long mane. “Out was magenta and in was violet and lilac.”

“Yep, purple looks great on you, bud,” Angle said.

“Yes, of course. Purple.” Sketch gave Straight Angle a light glare, shuffling his wings.

His glare, though subdued comparatively, reminded Roast of the first time Angle had severely generalized the color of Sketch’s mane at the time. If he remembered correctly, it had something to do with pigs and how uncivilized they are. Perfect bonding experience, really.

Angle stepped over to Roast’s side of the booth. “Hey, scooch over, willya?”

Roast scooted over, making room for the big pony.

“May I have this seat?” Quick Sketch asked Silver Trinket.

“Go for it.” Silver moved over a little and allowed him to climb in.

“Hey there, everypony!” A mare came up to their table, an order pad in hoof. “My name’s Purple Dream and I’ll be your server for the night. Could I get you all started with something to drink?”

As the others placed their orders, Roast picked up his menu and flipped to the back, trying to decide if he wanted his usual or if he wanted to branch out a little.

“And for you sir?”

Roast put his menu down and mentally resigned to the usual. “I’ll take a root beer, please.”

“Sure. And can I get you all started on some appetizers?”

“We’ll do the onion tower, please, on my check,” Silver Trinket spoke first before the others could, ignoring their frowns.

“Sure! I’ll put in the order and have those drinks out for you in just a minute.” She stowed her pad in her apron pocket and left.

Silver received varying degrees of glares from the other three.

“Dangit, Silver,” Roast said.

“What he said.” Angle nodded towards Roast. “Ya got it last time, too.”

She merely shrugged and picked up her menu again. “Snooze you loose, guys.”

Roast shook his head and chuckled. Since they always got the onion tower, it became a little game of theirs that whoever ordered the onion tower first got to pay for it. The only “rule” was no verbal shoving. Some ponies might think it a little backwards, but that was their problem. Roast was only mildly annoyed that he’d lost again for the fourth… fifth time? It was at least a month since he last got to pay for it.

Straight Angle huffed a little. “So anyway, what were the two a’ you talkin’ about?”

“We were just talking a bit about work,” Roast replied.

“Ugh!” Sketch leaned his head back and groaned dramatically. “Do not get me started about the tribulations of employment. Just yesterday I was finishing the outline for a mural on a customer’s window and then he interrupted me, saying he wanted it on the inside! I made several failed attempts to inform him that I was indeed already painting it on the inside, as I was standing on a step ladder in his shop. Once I had finally gotten my point across, do you know what the buffoon told me?”

Sketch looked at each one of them in turn. They were used to this kind of thing from him. He wasn’t actually expecting an answer, he merely wanted to tell the story with his usual Quick Sketch flair.

“He told me he wanted it facing inside, text and all!”

“That seems kinda odd.” Straight Angle tapped his chin and furrowed a brow. “I don’t remember seein’ many window murals ya had to go into the shop to see.”

Sketch batted a hoof at the big stallion. “Precisely, dear. It took nearly ten whole minutes to get him to understand why that was a bad idea.”

“Maybe he was trying to go against the flow?” Roast suggested. When he merely got an odd look from the artist, he clarified. “Like, everypony does theirs facing the correct direction. Maybe he thought he could be different to attract attention?”

“That is…” Sketch started then narrowed his eyes, “actually somewhat clever. Though it would need to be specifically designed to be backwards and this piece was most certainly not.”

“Fair.” Roast shrugged. “Just playing devil’s advocate.”

“Appreciated, at times,” Sketch said before turning to his seat companion. “So, Silver, what is this I hear about you going back to Canterlot this weekend?”

“Uh, Sketch,” Roast interrupted. “I already went there. It’s best if we leave it be.”

Quick Sketch eyed Silver for a moment before turning back forward. “Very well.”

Silver Trinket caught Roast’s eye and gave him a thankful smile.

“What about you, Straight Angle?” Sketch asked. “Any amusing tales from work to regale us with?”

Angle shrugged. “Eh, not really. Just the normal stuff lately. Finishing up a room addition for a shop over on East side. Gotta finish spackling ‘n then throw up some wallpaper and it’ll be good.”

“And maybe you could convince the owner to get some fancy window art from Sketch,” Silver said. “The first time I had him paint my windows, it was a thousand times better than anypony else.”

“Why thank you, Silver Trinket.” Sketch gave her an appreciative nod. “Ah, by the way you three, my marefriend wants to have all of you over for dinner at some point. She has been pestering me to ask the last few weeks and it kept slipping my mind. She says to bring your spouses and, um,” he looked over to Silver Trinket and put a hoof on hers resting on the table, “I wanted to make sure you’d be okay with that.”

She gave him a side glance. “What? Why wouldn’t I be okay with it?”

“Well, it’s going to be us three with our significant others and I didn’t want you to feel like the odd one out, so to speak.”

“Sketch, come on,” she said as he pulled back his hoof, “I appreciate the thought, but I’ve been out with you all and your special someponies before. Just because I don’t have one doesn’t mean I’ll feel left out. And besides, you guys are really good about keeping everypony involved and engaged.”

“Alright, if you’re sure.”

“I am.” She nodded and smiled. “Thank you for thinking of me.”

“Hey,” Angle looked over at Roast, “speaking of special someponies, how’s that Sweet of yours? You hear anything ‘bout her family thing?”

“Oh, uh, yeah.” Roast nodded, not expecting a question about her. He’d kind of forgotten about the whole situation. Left it at the restaurant door, so to speak. He hadn’t even talked with Firefly to come up with a decent cover story. “It turns out it wasn’t that big of a deal. Just a little health scare that her family exaggerated a bit about. Once she found out, she came right back and got home Tuesday evening.”

“Well that’s gotta be annoying,” Angle said. “Didn’t she head out late Monday night?”


Did she? He tried not to seem suspicious as he tried to remember what exactly he told Angle. Right, something about her mother and leaving the night before.

“Yeah, she did leave on Monday evening.”

“Hey again!” Their server stopped at their table, carrying a tray of glasses and their onion ring tower. “So super sorry about the wait. I wanted to make sure I got this appetizer out to you guys as quick as I could.”

Fine Roast simply watched as she distributed everyone’s drinks and set the onion town in the middle of the table. He half paid attention as she began taking all their orders. Saved by the waitress. Roast almost let out a sigh, but caught himself before he did anything else to make them ask questions. He really needed to get with Firefly to get all this stuff figured out.

“And what would you like, sir?” the waitress asked Roast.

“Could I get the parmesan eggplant, please?”

“Stuffed eggplant parmesan, you got it. Anything else I can get for you all?”

As Quick Sketch took point on the waitress conversation, Roast reached for an onion ring and dipped it in the marinara sauce. Taking a bite, he thought about how he would deal with questions if they asked any more. Even though he had confided in them about his relationship troubles before, the topic wasn’t exactly one he could bring up in normal conversation. He stared down at his half eaten onion ring, thinking about some story or other to tell them. He wasn’t used to this whole sneaking-around-and-mincing-words thing. Maybe she was right and he wouldn’t make a very good changeling.

“Hey Roast.” Silver Trinket snapped him out of his thoughts.

“Yeah?” He snapped his head up.

“Angle was saying something.” She nodded her head at the stallion sitting next to Roast.

Ugh, this is exactly what I was trying to avoid.

“Sorry,” Roast apologized, looking over at his friend, “kind of got lost in my own world.”

“Yeah, we could tell.” Straight Angle raised an eyebrow. “I was just askin’ if everything was okay.”

“Erm, yes? Why?” Stop stammering, dangit!

“Well, when I brought up Sweet Leaf, you kinda closed up and started staring at nothin’,”

“Oh,” he said lamely, looking down at his hooves.

Think of something quick! He frantically searched his brain, but couldn’t come up with anything believable that would make him act like that. Though maybe I could tell them only some of the truth. Maybe about Wavy?

He had no idea if it was a good idea to tell them or not. Then again, it was a public thing and Sweet Leaf did get upset at him that morning in front of everyone. He mentally shrugged, not knowing what else to say.

A few too many seconds had passed before Roast looked back up and over at Angle. He gave a sigh, hoping it would make it feel more authentic. “Something kind of did happen, I guess. Sweet and I got into a bit of a… fight?” He grimaced at the word. “Eh, not really the right word. Had an incident with one of Sweet’s friends and, well, the whole thing is kind of complicated.”

“It’s quite alright, Roast, dear.” Quick Sketch smiled at him. “We have more than enough time to talk about it. Why don’t you start from the beginning?”

Roast wavered a little back and forth, but decided it would probably be the best. “Yeah, alright. So, late Monday night, one of Sweet Leaf’s friend’s special somepony named Wavy Pallette came by after the cafe had closed.”

“Wait a moment,” Sketch interrupted. “Wavy Pallette? I know him. I talked to him when he was showing his art at a gallery a few weeks ago. He seemed like quite a nice stallion.” He cleared his throat. “Sorry, you may continue.”

Roast nodded. “Long story short, he claimed he saw his marefriend, Sweet’s friend, change into a changeling.”

“Woah, was it true?” Silver asked, wide eyed.

“Yeah, turns out it was. After he left, Bobby Pin, Wavy’s marefriend, came by and tried to attack Sweet Leaf outside.”

Quick Sketch gasped, holding a hoof over his mouth.

“Is she okay?” Straight Angle asked, concern covering his face.

“Yeah, she’s fine. I didn’t see what happened and when I went out the back door to find out who Sweet Leaf had greeted, I saw Bobby Pin standing over my wife. Bobby Pin ran off after that. We went back inside and locked the door.”

Silver raised an eyebrow. “You guys didn’t go to the guard?”

“Erm, no,” Roast said, trying to think of an answer why they wouldn’t have. Ah, yes. “Earlier that day Sweet had gotten the letter about her mother and she had to go. I got caught up in seeing her off and forgot to even go. Plus, what would we have told them? That a changeling came by and jumped my wife?”

“It is not the statement to the guard that is important, Roast.” Sketch frowned at him. “It’s you and your wife’s safety. What if she had come back? What did she even come there for?”

“I… guess you’re right.” Roast couldn’t refute that. Normally, he would have gone straight to the guard, like Sweet Leaf had suggested that night. That is if he hadn’t already known she wasn’t what she seemed. “And I don’t know. I think Sweet said she was looking for something. I’ll take Sweet Leaf tomorrow to go see the guard. But, that part wasn’t what was bothering me.

“Yesterday morning, Wavy came into the shop right at the tail end of the morning rush and accused Sweet Leaf of being a changeling.”

“He what?!” Quick Sketch gaped at Roast.

“Yeah, I was pretty incredulous. And angry.”

“I certainly would be too!” Sketch exclaimed. “I couldn’t imagine what I would do if somepony came and interrupted my work to make such baseless claims. Assuming Wavy’s claim was baseless, that is.”

“It was. Something about Sweet Leaf having spent too much time with her friend lately.” Once the others had finished snickered at the silly idea, Roast continued. “But the problem was something happened during that fight that made Sweet Leaf angry at me. I’m not really sure what it was, though.”

“What do ya mean?” Straight Angle asked. “Can you think of anything that you might have done?”

“All I can think of is that I was trying to defend her, but I do that all the time. I guess she did try to get my attention once or twice.”

“Roast, dearest.” Sketch reached around the onion ring tower and patted Roast’s foreleg. “You can get a little, shall we say, one track minded sometimes.”

Roast sighed and slumped his shoulders. “Maybe that was the problem. She did yell at me and told me she wanted to handle it. Said she wanted to get her piece out.”

“I can’t say for sure, but maybe it would be good to apologize and ask what’s wrong,” Silver added.

“That’s kind of the problem. She’s been kind of distant since then and said she needed to figure her feelings out.”

“S’not really all that surprising.” Angle shrugged. “After feelin’ hurt, ponies sometimes need a little space. Maybe this was the tippin’ point and she needed to figure out which straw broke her back before she lashed out ‘n made things worse.”

“Yeah, maybe,” Roast let his sentence trail off.

A few seconds of silence passed before Silver's horn lit as she pulled an onion ring off the tower. “I can’t speak as much as you all, but I don’t know what I’d do if my special somepony turned out to be a changeling.”

“I’ve got no idea what I’d do, honestly.” Angle replied, grabbing an onion ring as well. “Probably try to grab it and shake an answer out of the thing.”

“Ugh! I do not want to even think about it.” Quick Sketch shuddered, wrapping his forelegs around himself, his wings half opening against the seat back. “I have a hard enough time dealing with normal sized insects. Imagine having to deal with a pony-sized one that can suck your love right out of you!”

“Aw, it’ll be okay, Sketch,” Silver said through a mouthful of onion ring, patting Sketch on the back. “We can get you a really big fly swatter.”

“Could you please not talk with your mouth full.”

“Eh, I can think about it,” she said through more onion ring, then swallowed. “Somewhat related, I dunno if you guys read the newspaper lately, but there’s reports of a bunch of ponies accusing their special someponies of being changelings. No reports on any truth to it though.”

“Mmhm, I saw,” Roast agreed, happy to have a change of topic away from his wife, even if it was about her race. Species? He wasn’t sure. “One of the articles said a stallion accused his wife of coming home late from work and leaving for unexplained outings some nights. Sounds like an altogether different problem if you ask me.”

“Yeah.” Silver dipped another ring in the sauce. “I’m not really sure how to feel about the idea of having a bunch of love eating creatures around, disguised as who knows what. Though I do wonder, like, where did they come from? Why did they attack? How long have they even been in Equestria?”

“I have no idea,” Sketch started as he grabbed his first onion ring, “but I just wish they’d figure out a spell and squash the awful things. It’s far too frightening having those things roaming out there. Who knows when they might come and snatch up you or your loved ones.”

“I’m as much for stoppin’ foalnapping as any other pony,” Angle began, “but don’t cha think outright killin’ ‘em is going a little far?”

“Hardly!” Sketch flicked his mane back. “What do you think they do to the ponies they replace? And how about what they would have done to us should they have won?”

“I’m not sure what they do with them,” Roast half lied. He knew they drained ponies of love after taking them back to the hive, but he didn’t know if that was all they did. “Though don’t you think it would be better to figure out why they attacked before committing genocide?”

“Roast, dear.” Quick Sketch looked him directly in the eyes. “As you said, they have already attacked us, without provocation at that. We already know they replace ponies and apparently leave them to die. If they have that kind of moral compass already, how do you know any justification they could give would be truthful?”

“Shouldn’t everypo—everyone be given a chance though?”

“I’m kinda with Sketch on this one,” Silver Trinket interrupted. “Maybe not to his extreme, but he has a point. If they could be anypony, anywhere, how could you trust something like that? Everything they do and say could be a way to manipulate you into… whatever they want.”

“I… Hm. I guess you’re right.” Roast looked down at the table as the conversation lapsed into silence. He’d already given Firefly a free pass on that. There was no way she’d agree to let him freely talk to other ponies if she was still trying to cover up his discovery. And he’d already said he didn’t believe she was manipulating him, at least in a way that was harmful.

He looked up as the topic moved on to other things, but only barely paid attention. What if she wasn’t trying to manipulate him, but rather was doing it unconsciously? She said she was trained in being a… whatever she said she was. Did they cover what to do in Firely’s situation?

Or even if it didn’t, what if her hive ordered her to capture him? Would she try to find a way around it or simply give in? He didn’t believe she’d do anything to harm him, but Silver brought up a, well, it wasn’t necessarily good, but it was a point. Could he really trust a changeling after everything they did?

He mentally reeled. What was he even saying?! She was Firefly, not some love hungry changeling! This was his wife that he dedicated himself to, even knowing for years she probably wasn’t a pony. He said he would trust her and he intended to keep his word. Even if… even if there were a lot of questions he didn’t know how to answer.


Roast looked up in alarm at a Silver and her furrowed brow. “Huh? What?”

“I tried calling you a couple times.”

“You were makin’ some faces there, bud,” Angle said, concern on his face.

“Ah.” Roast rubbed the back of his neck. “Sorry guys. I kinda got lost again. Thinking about changeling things.”

“‘Salright bud.” Angle patted him on the back with his huge, heavy hooves. “They ain’t gonna getcha, not while you still got us.”

“Uh, thanks guys and gal.” He made a show of giving each of them a thankful smile, though he hoped none of them would make good on that idle promise.

“Alright!” The server gleefully came up next to the table and placed a tray stand on the ground, setting the tray on top. “Who ordered the stuffed eggplant parmesan?”

“That was me.” Roast raised his hoof.

Once the waitress distributed the rest of the meals and moved on, Roast spoke up. “Hey, what would you guys think about doing something different next time we do an outing? Maybe visit a billiard hall or an arcade?”

“I would be ‘down,’ so to speak, for a night of billiards,” Quick Sketch said as he picked up a fork and knife in his hooves.

“Yeah, I could do that.” Silver agreed.

“Ooh, switching it up sounds great. What about…”

Roast smiled as he watched the results of his wife’s idea blossom. Though inwardly he frowned. The conversation had moved on, but Roast couldn’t keep out of his mind his friends’ thoughts on changelings. He didn’t want to consider what they might think or do if they knew about Firefly.

Going to the guard wasn’t a desirable option either. It was all too risky.

He may not know what to do with all these what-ifs, but he knew he loved her. They’d find a way to get through it, even if his trust needed a little reassurance every now and then.

But first, he had to figure out how to fix whatever he’d done to make Firefly upset.

Roast closed the back door behind him, walking through the kitchen and up the stairs. He and his friends had stayed out a little later than they intended and it was almost ten in the evening when he finally got home. Reaching the top of the stairs and looking left into the bedroom, he was surprised to see Sweet Leaf still awake, reading a book in bed.

“Hey hon.” Roast walked to his side of the bed.

She looked up from her book. “Hey. You’re home a little late. Did you have a good time?”

“Yeah, it was good. We got to talking after dinner and time flew by.” He lifted the covers and climbed into bed.

“Mm.” She picked up a bookmark, placed it in her book, and set the novel on her nightstand. “Sounds like fun.”

“Yeah. Though, we did talk a bit about what happened yesterday.”

That got her attention as she looked him directly in the eyes and raised an eyebrow. “Oh? Nothing… revealing, I hope.”

He shook his head. “No, we just talked about Wavy and Bobby Pin and his encounter yesterday morning.”

“Are you sure that was a good idea?”

Roast sighed and shrugged. “I don’t know. I asked myself the same question, but the whole debacle was public and it seemed like it would have been odd if I didn’t tell them about it. If you weren’t a, well, changeling, then I definitely would have told them.”

She grinned and chuckled a little. “Maybe I was wrong about you. Maybe you could make a halfway decent changeling.”

He laughed. “Oh, I thought about that tonight and I think you were right. I’ve got a long way to go before I could be anywhere as clever as you.”

“Oh sweetie.” She smiled and laid a hoof on his. “I’ve been doing this my whole life. You can’t expect to have skills you’ve never used before.” Her smile dropped as she became more serious. “Though we are going to need you to start thinking a little more like a changeling, like you did tonight.”

“Yeah, definitely.” He nodded his head in agreement. “I noticed how hard it was when I was trying to come up with a story about how you went to ‘visit your family’ on Tuesday.”

“We’ll need to go over that so we can keep on the same page.” She retracted her hoof. “And I’ll need to send a letter over to my ‘parents’ in Manehatten so they know we used them. Just in case.”

“That’s smart.” Roast looked at her in mild surprise. “I hadn’t thought about that. Are there actual changelings posing as your parents over there?”

“Kind of. Lots of love collectors and infiltrators all over Equestria pose as family for different changelings via letter. I don’t have any ‘children’, but two others here in town do. My parents happen to be in Manehatten. It’s all a part of keeping lies straight.”

“So the two ponies at our wedding were those changelings?” he asked, curious about who really were the ones that kissed him on the cheek at his wedding.

“Nope.” She shook her head. “I’d requested a couple changelings from the hive to pose as my parents and they assigned those to me.” She let out a long yawn. “Anyway, as much as I like educating you, we need to sleep.”

Her yawn infected him and he let one of his own out. “Sleep does sound good.”

As she was reaching for her bedside lamp, he remembered and held out a hoof.

“Uh, honey,” he began.

She paused and looked back at him. “Yes?”

“Were you able to… figure things out?” he said hesitantly.

She leaned back and sat upright, looking at him again. “I think I did. Though I also think it would be best if we saved that for tomorrow when we’re both more awake.”

He sighed in relief. “That’s good. Okay, we can deal with that tomorrow.”

She smiled. “Thank you, Roast, for being patient with me.”

He leaned over and posed his lips a couple inches away from hers. When she leaned forward and met him, he pressed harder into her, savoring the first kiss they’d shared since he’d confronted her about her true nature.

He pulled back and looked fondly at the love of his life. “Life might be bumpy sometimes, but we all need some love and kindness, especially little love bugs like you.”

She giggled and pushed him away. “You’re such a sap.”

He grinned. “Maybe, but I’m your sap.”

“Well take your sappy self to dreamland. We gotta work tomorrow.”

“Yes, my dearest. Goodnight.”

He tried to sleep, but it evaded him. Eventually, he felt her body relax, but his mind kept wandering and playing the evening’s conversations and thoughts over and over. Even focusing on her warmth in front of him didn’t help, they just kept coming back.

Several times, sleep nearly found him, but each time he would snap awake. Over an hour passed before his mind exhausted itself enough to fall into slumber’s clutch.

His dreams that night were not pleasant.

Author's Note:

She came up in this chapter, so I'm sure you remember our sweet Firefly's previous disguise, Orange Mint. Well someone recently commissioned some artwork of her and Roast from Chapter 5/6 of Unchanging Love!

Thanks once again to Dogman15 for his constant enthusiasm and fan art commissions.