• Published 10th Dec 2020
  • 3,977 Views, 372 Comments

No Longer Alone - NoLongerSober

Sass, science, and surviving shipping! Postage paid! The gruff captain put a certain pegasus professor to the test and learned that she just couldn’t quit. Now come the hard parts: an actual relationship and maybe a villain or two.

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Chapter 24 - Will You?

Day 93 — Future Me, I’m really going to struggle to get this all written down, but I’m going to fight for it because that’s what I do now. In retrospect, scheduling the best night of your romantic life the day after a morning in the weight room — followed by an afternoon spent scrambling to not die at the hooves of the Captain of the Royal Guard — might have not been the best idea. I do not have full mobility in my legs, and I’m starting to seriously consider that biology is just wrong. Sorry Dad, but… the nerveless parts of my wings really do feel like they’re feeling.

I’m rambling, sorry, again. Future Me, tonight was amazing, and even though a lot of our parts are presently aching, what Magic Bear did tonight filled me with so much warmth that I just can’t be bothered to care about things that suck. My heart’s pounding just going over it again, and I can’t shake this heavy weight. I really hope that this is one of those memories that we’ll always cherish.

You make my dreams come true!

Tail sat on the cement step just outside the front door to her apartment. Wearing a light-yellow sundress, the pegasus peered skyward and silently observed the pinkish streaks that began to grow more prominent in the twilight hour. While it was still fairly hot outside given the time of year, the humidity had dropped, leaving the vibrancy of the city street a tad more appealing than an empty living room.

A breeze weaved its way between the homes and gently tugged at the airy fibers of Tail’s dress. Promptly, Tail lifted her leg to corral the fabric before a throaty groan slipped through her lips. The motion had provided a potent reminder to the physicist that she had endured another week of training. Her limbs were not happy with her.

Gingerly, she pulled the offended foreleg across her chest and began to stretch. “Mmf, yep, we overdid it.” Her sigh loitered in the wind for a couple of seconds—until a squeak accompanied the scientist’s decision to give her other forelimb its due attention. She squinted and inhaled as she willed the aching appendage to hold out for just a little longer.

Leaning against the wooden door to her rear, Tail released that held breath and let her body relax. She kept her eyes shut and just listened to the world around her as ponies pranced by and chatted. In spite of the dull aches that periodically assailed the mare’s muscles, a gentle tide of contentment claimed Tail’s visage.

It turned out to be a really productive week, after all, she reflected. Princess Luna helped me. Amora acted like her usual self, and I guess Shining Armor’s cockiness was a decent motivator. Next week’s sparring sessions should be fun, especially if I can deal with those counters. She halted her chain of thought as a dreamy image of Laboratory Barrier formed in her mind.

The coy grin she fashioned for him urged Tail to appreciatively hum. He did look quite dapper in the researcher’s garb, even though academia was definitely not his element. I wonder if he thinks the same thing about me when I’m in armor, she mused as her ears perked to a new, approaching cadence.

“I’m not late, am I?” Barrier asked once he came to a stop in front of the doorstep.

Barrier’s tone added no sense of seriousness to the question, but Tail shook her head anyway as she opened her eyes. “No,” she answered, immediately caching the view of the sport-jacketed stallion levitating a gift-wrapped box, “just felt like getting out of my room, and this seemed like a good spot. That, or I’ve gotten into the habit of trying to avoid Amora’s teasing even when I don’t have to.”

“Can’t say I blame you. Between her, Luna, and Cady, we seem to have more than our fair share of nosy mares. You’re also developing defensive habits, which I support as a C.O. Then again, maybe that just means you’re picking up my paranoia? Heh.” Self-consciously, Barrier rubbed the side of his head with his hoof.

“Sweety, please,” Tail rebutted after cautiously making her way onto her hooves. “I’ve known Amora for thirty years. Any paranoia I’ve gained with regards to her is squarely on her. You can take credit for Luna and Cadance if you want to, though.”

“If I have a choice, I think I’ll take a pass on that one. I’ve got more important things to think about right now that don’t involve random attempts to wrangle the insufferable sides of two alicorns.” The unicorn guided the floating present towards Tail. “Not sure if it’s normal to give a gift at the start of a date these days, but it is probably for the best to drop it off now.”

Straggling forward, Tail chirped as she took the box under her wing. “I thought you said you didn’t go too over the top, Magic Bear. You’re already pushing it with a gift, but for the record, I don’t really think there is a standard protocol on when to spring such things.”

“Good to know…” The captain continued to bashfully brush the darker portions of his mane. “I can’t say I know anything about this at all.”

“Does anyone?” Tail replied rhetorically before her gaze drifted to the top of the package. “Did you want me to open this now, or would you prefer if I waited? I can take it upstairs before we head out.”

Barrier finally lowered his hoof to the ground, and his frame visibly stiffened as Tail shot an inquisitive stare. “Zacherle help me,” he muttered under his breath before speaking up. “You can open it now. I think it’ll set the tone for the night.”

Repositioning herself, Tail shifted the package forward and reached with her opposing hoof. Fleeting glances caught the blush that appeared on Barrier’s muzzle as she tore through the glimmering cobalt wrapping paper to expose an unmarked purplish cardboard lid. Another sequence of maneuvers transferred the top to her other wing, which allowed the mare to peek inside.

“No way!” Tail squeaked, immediately scooping the soft, fluffy gift from its dark confines. She raised the acquired teddy bear towards the sky, beaming at the icy-blue dots that returned her stare, its charcoal-colored cloth, and the blue-striped hair that capped the plush. “You got me a Magic Bear!?”

The pegasus did not wait for the actual Barrier’s response. She dragged the toy closer and planted a soft kiss on its forehead. “This is for you,” she spoke quietly, turning around to carry the gift inside with as much speed as her sore extremities would tolerate after the excitement. She swished her namesake and looked over her shoulder at the unmoving unicorn. “You wait right there. When I get back, there will be a far more memorable one for you.”

Barrier’s ears succumbed to the redness that had initially infected his cheeks. He briskly nodded to the mare while she vanished into the void of the stairwell, and his response stumbled into a relatively humble existence. “Guess I didn’t go too overboard.”

I really hope that this is one of those memories that we’ll always cherish.

While I’m thinking about it, Magic Bear Bear, Magic Bear Squared?, is beyond adorable. Now I have another cute captain to keep me company, and this one is cuddly and fun-sized. Every time I look at him, I start giggling like a little kid. Who would have guessed that our stern officer would come up with such a sweet, sappy gift? Now, for what it’s worth, I can’t say I wouldn’t have been extremely amused by Princess Cadance’s quasi-suggestion, but my new teddy bear is certainly more practical.

Don’t give me that look, Future Me. I know you probably want to get to the best part of the night, but the tangentials are important to fully reminisce! It didn’t take me very long to figure out that our trot around Canterlot was winding towards Pop’s…

The instant Tail saw the diner, she realized that something was off. In the windows, all the shades were pulled down despite the fact that the sun’s brightness no longer posed an inconvenience. It would not surprise her at all if less-observant ponies assumed the establishment was closed, but the fluorescent ambiance that bled around the edges of the drapes shouted that someone was home.

Barrier gestured towards the entryway, providing a silent nudge to the mare’s confidence that sent her scooting towards the forest-green door. The voyage, however, was immediately stopped once Tail noticed the absence of the sleigh bell strap. In its place, a sign had been hooked to the anchor. “Closed for a private function.”

Two threads of thought bombarded the scientist’s heart. A pang of disappointment ripped through her chest at the idea that they wouldn’t be able to enjoy their favorite restaurant. Her wings opted to speak a different language. They fluttered and lifted, catching the auspicious script written by a filly who could still believe in knights and fairy tales.

“Showtime,” Trot Bell’s muffled voice crept through the doorway. The dusty-cream earth pony popped the latch and pushed the entrance open. The bearded stallion flashed a mischievous grin while his emerald eyes snagged Tail’s attention. On this night, he wore a black and white shirt printed to look like a tuxedo, and he promptly bowed to the pegasus before unleashing the fakest Prench accent Tail had heard in her life. “On-shont-tay, Mademoiselle, and welcome to Père’s Place.”

Trot shuffled backwards, revealing the aesthetic changes the diner had received for the occasion. The cultural memorabilia, neon signs, and odd trinkets still caked the walls and shelves. The additions were what made Tail speechless.

Taking a step forward, Tail glanced around to absorb the field of potted forget-me-nots that conquered the space. The colorful sea of blues, purples, and whites made her eyes water as they sparkled for the countless five-pointed flowers. “You’ve now gone over the top twice,” she mumbled, twirling around to face Barrier. “You knew they were my favorite?”

“Sincerity,” the unicorn admitted. “Your brother also dropped the hint that you had a thing for living plants too, so the pots stood out as the best op—”

Closing her eyes, Tail threw her forelegs around Barrier’s neck, dragged her body towards his bulky frame, and planted a kiss on his lips. Warmth overwhelmed her emotions and cleared the pathway for liquid happiness to run down her muzzle. Her ears swayed to the sound of his sharp gasp and the rumbling moan that followed.

Responding to the purr, Tail veered her hoof placement, caressed his mane, and melted into the embrace. She shuddered when one of his forelegs discovered one of her wings, and his other available hoof meandered through her curling mane just above the back of her neck.

“Whoa, Nellie!” Trot exclaimed, giving the couple even more space. “You silly foals! If you have all the dessert now, there won’t be any room left for the amazing dinner Candy and I have in store for you.”

Tail snorted at the comment, and her lips couldn’t resist stretching out to accommodate her consequential twittering. She retreated a few inches and wiped her eyes before happily meeting Barrier’s shellshocked, dopey smirk. “I’ll never turn down a meal from you, Trot, but this stallion is too savory to pass up.”

“Ah! Ah! Ah!” the owner quipped, hastily heading towards the griddle station. Swishing his bushy tail, the earth pony roared with laughter. “Don’t let the gar-sown get in the way of the moment. Got it!”

“That’s not what I said at all,” Tail called, turning her head to the side so she could see the boisterous cook. The physicist puffed her cheeks and ruffled her feathers at the mere notion that she would be that rude, but her retort only caused the chef to howl even more.

She was about to counter again when Barrier’s hoof slid along her chin. The stallion gently guided Tail’s attention back to him, and he greeted the feisty flier with a serene smile. “Professor.”

The tuft of fur on Tail’s chest expanded outward after the pegasus lost herself in the glow of Barrier’s irides. “Yes?” she asked in a dreamy daze.

“You already know how I am when it comes to making speeches, and I think most guys probably wait until later in the night. I also think your brother got it right with his song, so if I can keep being upfront before dinner”—his timbre clutched a husky tone that rose just above the volume of a whisper—“will you be my marefriend?”

Tail knew it was coming, and yet, she flushed regardless. Her essence opened to the buoyant sensation that made the scientist feel as though she were floating on a cloud, and she affectionately nuzzled against Barrier’s hoof. “I’m going to have to thank that dork, aren’t I?” she chortled giddily. “And yes, absolutely yes, this professor would love to be your marefriend. You even get extra credit for showing your work.”

Trot hummed as he started working on a pile of hash browns. “Congratulations, Bucko! Just leave the rest of your night to us. The second booth on the left is all yours.”

Author's Note:

Happy Tuesday, everyone! We've reached the halfway point (at least in terms of chapters, not in terms of word count). This one is a bit on the short side, but I think we can all look at the content and know why.

Anyhoo! As always, thank you for your continued readership, time, comments, likes, and subscribes. TECHNOBLADE! x3 I definitely appreciate you taking the time to read this little corner of the interwebs when there are hundreds of thousands of stories lurking around just this site alone. Hope you had a great weekend and have a great week. See you next week for Chapter 25.

P.S.N.: I miss eating at the diner Pop's Place is based on like you wouldn't believe. I've ordered takeout through the pandemic, but tomorrow is my 14-days-after-2nd-dose day. You had better believe I am reclaiming the 2nd booth on the left.

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