• Published 10th Dec 2020
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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 29 - Duel Me at the Gala

“Oh my,” Tail gasped after she opened the front door to the spectacle of Barrier in his dress uniform. During her pinning ceremony, she thought that the white jacket, with its blue trim and golden ornaments, made for an excellent combination with his charcoal-colored coat. Her pupils dilated, and her lips curled into a dopey grin. Now, from the marefriend viewpoint, she was downright attracted to the way his dark contours toyed with the bright fabric.

She devoured him with her wandering stare until their gazes met. Her mind had unleashed a symphony of praise and adulation that penned ghost notes around those two uttered words, and those notes hovered like ethereal fireflies above overjoyed foals. Their shared silence, a fermata which towered over the score conducted by singing gala-goers, dared them both to speak.

“You’re beautiful,” Barrier answered the call. He extended his leg towards Tail and held it out for her to take.

Tittering from the compliment, Tail carefully stepped forward to drape her silk-covered limb over the one Barrier had offered. She followed his lead as he guided her out onto the street, and her quiet giggles rose in volume as they carried out one of the more traditional gala-night rituals. When he released the support on her appendage, Tail calmly lowered it, brushed against his side, and blanketed his withers with one of her wings.

“And you’re handsome,” she cooed into his ear moments after she lightly kissed his cheek. “I feel kind of shallow for saying it, but I think I’m a bit of a sucker for a stallion in uniform.”

“Heh, ponies like what they like. I don’t think indulging in my uniform makes you shallow. You’ve already shown over and over where you place value, and it’s pretty clear that your trust in me has little to do with how I appear tonight. Besides, if it did make you shallow, then I’d be just as much. I love feathers, and right now, the prettiest set in Canterlot is sticking to a certain nickname.”

Craning his neck, Barrier softly smiled at the lavender pegasus and continued, “As much attraction as I find in their touch, or in the fact that you look like a princess, those aren’t the things that drew me in. You told me you couldn’t quit, and then you lived those words. And nothing would do me a greater honor than donning this uniform and serving as your escort tonight.”

Tail nudged Barrier’s side with her lace-covered flank as another bout of giggles spurted from her lips. The tumbling, chaotic melody warmed the cooler night while Tail’s fit produced a squinty, bubbly, contorted expression. “By the stars, Barrier! That is clearly coming from the same side of the family that led to Shining Armor! I’m the physicist here. I should be the dorky one.”

“It is the duty and honor of the house, m’lady,” Barrier retorted once a smug, snickering smirk overrode his modest demeanor.

Gasping for breath, Tail pushed her wing against the unicorn’s back to keep herself upright. “Your duty, huh? Well then, since we frequently see the princesses, how about you escort your princess past the royal reception so we don’t spend all night attending linecon?”

“That’s not a bad idea. Probably take an hour or two just to get through at this point, and I’d put a large stack of bits on Twilight being around Celestia.” Barrier shuddered as his cheek tensed to craft a pained grimace. “I’m sure Cadance or Shining has already told her about us, and if she already knows that you’re a physicist, we’d have another couple hours of questions to endure. I love Twily as an uncle should, but I’d like to actually have the night to spend.”

Squeezing his barrel with her wing, Tail affirmatively hummed. “Chaperoning an overactive student at a dance? Sounds like a perfect argument for why I decided to teach at a university instead. Though, considering that Sincy is back in town, I’m afraid those antics are probably ones we can’t avoid.”

“No, we can’t.” Barrier relaxed his neck and turned his attention towards the castle grounds. The uneasy expression had not yet fully disappeared from his face when Tail heard his voice take on a sheepish tone. “I still need to thank him for his help with the setup at Pop’s.”

“Ah, such valor! I would expect nothing less from my Captain of the Laboratory Guard.” Tail straightened her posture, puffed her chest, and struck a playful, furtive glance. “Since I happen to know the ballroom in which one Sincerity Chain will be performing, perhaps I will happily take up your dorky proposition after all, Sir Barrier.”

On a night… when bad dreams become a nightmare…
the moon messes with my despair! Gotta laugh it in the face!
Sorry, Princess!
Twist and shout my way out, and wrap your wings around me
‘cause I ain’t the way you found me, and I’ll never be the same!

“Oh yeah! Well ‘cause you! You make my dreams come true!” Sincy’s refrain wailed over the South Summerland Ballroom sound system. The unicorn continued his song, yet he frantically waved to Tail and Barrier the instant they stepped into the grand chamber.

True to its name, the ballroom presented a summer season decor that set it apart from the typical Canterlot style. Saffron columns surrounded each of the circle-top windows that overlooked vast swaths of the castle gardens—or at least the glowing white bulbs that provided some illumination of said gardens through the night.

Above the windows, a coral-pink railing ran along the entire length of the wall, creating the illusion of a balcony that led to nowhere. Against that backdrop, a temporary stage had been erected for Sincerity, Barley, and the other bands playing the venue that evening. A bustle of ponies, mostly consisting of younger adults who clearly did not come from old money, bopped to the beat and exuded fun, surprisingly.

Tables, chairs, and refreshment stands had been pushed to the perimeter of the space, and upon inspection, Tail discovered that, for the most part, the only company for those furnishings were the blue, chive, and scarlet mosaics set into the walls.

“Well, listen to this!” Sincy shouted as he jumped off the stage. He carried his silvery microphone with his magic and hopped through the parting crowd as a lime-colored guard scrambled to make room for the rogue performer. Sincy burst through the last line of dancing defenders and dramatically thrust his foreleg towards Tail and Barrier. “I’m high on my daydream ‘cause I’m sure of what I’m watchin’ right now. I know! Well you! Hell yeah! You make my dreams come true!”

He suddenly darted back to the stage, leaving an armor-clad Bonecrusher standing at the edge of the crowd as a deadpan stare chiseled at her strong countenance. “Captain, Civvy,” she spoke at a volume that just scraped above Sincerity’s hollering. “Your brother got a lot of energy a few minutes ago.”

Tail trotted forward after she flicked her wingtip to greet her old squadmate. “Got Sincy’s security detail, huh? He’s not”—Tail rolled her head to the side to get a good look at the stage—“being weird, is he? I can boop him if he’s being weird.”

“Not any weirder than you,” Bonecrusher countered before a grin split her muzzle. “‘Sides, this assignment came as a request from Princess Celestia. He can do whatever he wants for all I care. As long as I keep him safe, it’s a job well done.”

“Well then, Corporal, keep up the good work. I highly doubt anyone in this room will present any trouble, but if they do, feel free to call on us for backup.”

“Tartarus will freeze over ‘fore I share that kind of fun, Captain,” the mare grunted before she shifted her body to keep an eye on the stage as well. “I was told it’s a special night. I intend to keep it that way lest somepony wants their face rearranged.”

“Face rearranging? Is that some sort of new party favor? I’m all about party favors! Streamers, poppers, balloons, piñatas— Piñata, ññata. Teehee, that’s fun to say. Anyway, hi Barrier!”

Both Tail and Bonecrusher blinked after a pink blur inserted itself into the center of their group and congealed into a curly-maned, blue-eyed earth pony mare.

Barrier simply flinched. The high-pitched ramble made his jaw clench shut, and he took two deliberate, audible breaths before shifting his sights to the Element of Laughter. “Pinkie,” he replied, an act which quickly generated a squee from the smaller pony.

“It is you! I knew it. You look so handsome! Now, hurry up and tell me who your friends are so I can become friends with them too.” She tweeted and bounced in place as if the perfectly normal span of time between her statement and Barrier’s pending answer stretched across eons.

“The one in armor is Bonecrusher. She’s on duty, so don’t be dragging her off to any parties.” Barrier gestured to Tail, and the corners of his lips immediately trended upwards. “And this pretty pegasus would be Tail—”

“Ugh-uhhhh!” Pinkie whooped. Beaming, she shot Tail a dinner-plate stare, incinerated the gap between them with a blistering dash, and frantically shook the scientist’s mysteriously raised limb. “Oh my gosh! You’re Barrier’s marefriend! No wonder why he seems less grumpy. Hi! I’m Pinkie Pie, and I would luh-uhve to throw you a party, especially since Barrier didn’t tell me I couldn’t.

“I have a file on you and everything. Physicist, oooh, Twilight Sparkle will love you. Kinda smells like blueberries even though they aren’t her favorite. You’re more of an apple kind of gal. I should introduce you to Applejack! She makes all kinds of apple goodies: apple pies, apple fritters, Applejack Daniels, apple crumb cake, apple strudels, apple cider, zap apple jam, normal apple jam…”

Caught in a strange superposition of intrigue and horror, Tail watched as an onslaught of apple-related goodies poured from the swirls in Pinkie’s mane. Even an icy glass of Applejack Daniels, which Barrier immediately grabbed, appeared when it was listed. “Uh, apples are nice,” Tail muttered through a Pinkie-triggered tremolo.

“Apple crisp, apple tart, apple cobbler—” Mid-list, Pinkie stopped both her verbal bombardment and the excessive shaking of Tail’s leg. From the ether, a small purple-eyed, light-green alligator appeared atop the scientist’s silk-covered appendage.

Tail recoiled her muzzle, quirked her brow, and pursed her lips at the creature that looked up at her. The little guy blinked one eye at a time and flittered its tongue, prompting the pegasus to gradually tilt her head.

“This is Gummy!” Pinkie squeaked. “He wanted to say hello too! He’s an alligator, which is exactly why I named him Gummy. Gummy the ‘Gator, get it? Wouldn’t make any sense if he were a crocodile. Not at all!” She briefly turned to face literally no one and winked. “That’s called alliteration, fillies and colts.

“Anyway,” the pink mare continued after her sights snapped back to Tail, “Gummy really wanted to tell you that, in the limit of asymptotic freedom, the fine-structure coupling constant converges to 1/42. I have no idea what that means, but he seemed pretty excited about it. If you ask me, I think it’s about cupcakes or maybe chocolate mousse. I don’t know. Donuts and eclairs are also pretty solid.”

Tail tuned out the noise coming from the bubbly soundbox. Diving into the young gator’s gaze—alliteration—the physicist pondered how this stoic, gentle pet could survive against the unyielding torrents of loud and crazy that flowed from this perky element bearer. Is she still talking? How is she still talking?

Pinkie’s droning waves produced crests that just managed to flirt with Tail’s awareness. She unconsciously shifted her outstretched foreleg towards the earth pony’s muzzle, and with the softest of upward forces applied to the underside of Pinkie’s chin, Tail succeeded in closing the Element of Laughter’s mouth. “Teehee…”

“Hey Tail!” Sincy’s heavenly voice instantly reached out to her through the ballroom speakers. “I see you’re done talking with your friend now, so it seems like a good time. Everyone, let’s take a five-minute break. My sister is here with her dreamy date, and I would like to catch up with them—along with my personal guard. I told you I’d sneak in a dance with you, Bonecrusher. No joke. I will discover what your favorite Barley ballad is. Now, for the rest of you fillies and colts, it’s time to hail hydrate and get some water. Can’t dance to these Triple-G beats if you’re out of action, so visit those lonely water stations, grab a crystal glass, and sip away. Also, if you wouldn’t mind parting the way for the fam, I’d appreciate it too.”

Having spent song after song cozied up to Magic Barrier, Tail felt like she had spent the night floating on a cloud. Her feathers flicked to every gentle touch of his foreleg against her back and haunches, and her mind snatched every hint of his scent when her muzzle brushed against his coat.

“Did you know that dancing with you is so much better when I’m not drunk?” Tail whispered after the unicorn guided her through a twirl. She had reached their periapsis yet again, and the mare used that perfect opportunity to graze his neck and mane.

With some space on the dance floor carved out by Tail’s whirling revolution, Barrier stepped forward and reared up. He planted one of his hooves on her flank and kicked his hind leg out to the side so he could perform a bipedal pivot. “You’ve asked me that during almost every song,” the captain chuckled, “and then I’ll just remind you that that dance will always be something special.”

“Flatterer,” Tail huffed, wrapping her forelegs around his withers as her wingtips flirted with his cutie marks. Her gaze sparkled while she lost herself in the one returned by his icy-blue eyes, and her body shivered once she pressed her lace against his uniform. “It’ll still be nice to have a firm recollection of every moment as opposed to portions of the night being a blur. I wouldn’t want to miss a second of this.”

Tail released a low growl as her feathers pressed a little harder against the shields on his flanks. She giggled at the redness that crept onto his cheeks, and after a less-than-subtle head repositioning, Tail closed her eyes and claimed that charcoal muzzle with a kiss. Her grip tightened as she dove deeper than she ever had—allowing her tongue to dance with the lingering sting of apple whiskey.

A quiet moan rumbled in Barrier’s throat, which provided the pegasus all the motivation she needed to hold their kiss until the only option was to break away for a breath—and to hover barely an inch apart. Dopey smirk met dopey smirk, and the couple stood untouched by the rest of the world—

Until Tail realized that no one was making a sound. The music had stopped. Other ponies were dead silent, and they remained that way until her swiveling sights caught a whistling Amora, a random camera flash from a pink unicorn photographer, and three grinning princesses all congregated around the entryways.

“I am so telling Mom,” Sincy purred, drawing Tail’s attention stageward. The unicorn musician had moved away from his instruments and sat with his hind legs dangling off the end of the platform. He momentarily looked to his left at the stone-faced Bonecrusher, who had immediately popped a salute for the alicorns, and a devilish grin swept over his face as he consequently drew the microphone towards his mouth. “She’s doing a great job, Princess Celestia, but I still haven’t gotten that dance.

“Though, I guess that can come later. Since you’re all here now”—he flopped onto his back and pointed his muzzle at the drum kit where Barley Blues was seated—“do you think we should pop the surprise now? I’m starting to get the vibe that it’s time. We’ve got the chill crowd, right Canterlot? Who wants to see a surprise?”

A murmuring roar meandered about the ballroom as various pockets of ponies expressed their intrigue towards the unexpected. Grabbing the atmosphere by the figurative horns, Barley began to beat a couple of drumsticks together at a faster and faster rate until a widespread, vibrant chant of “Yes!” echoed throughout the chamber.

Bopping his head to the beat, Sincerity Chain rolled onto his hooves and arched his back in a drawn-out stretch. He sighed once he relaxed his posture, and the chocolatey aura around his horn rippled as he cast a second spell. Rays of light strobed above the stage, and amidst the glimmering parlor trick, a familiar semi-hollow body, sunburst guitar appeared from out of thin air.

Tail smiled at the cherished golden accents, pickguard, and engraved truss-rod cover. “Double L,” she mumbled after verifying the two script L’s that had been etched into the cover’s plastic material.

“Tonight, fillies and gentlecolts,” Sincy blared, “you are going to see the reunion of the only band I’ve been a part of that predates Sync & Barley. If you want your guitar back, Sis, you’re going to have to come up here and grab it, but once you do, I think these fans are going to want to hear a song. And I think you know the one that needs to be played.”

“Now, huh?” Tail called to her brother. She turned towards Barrier as her smile morphed into a grin just as devilish as her sibling’s. An adorable mix of confusion and concern usurped her coltfriend’s visage, and the image prodded an internalized giggle that Tail happily channeled into mischief upon trotting towards the stage. Brushing the underside of Barrier’s muzzle with her namesake, Tail replied to the unspoken question, “This is how a perfect blanket answers the challenge.”

Tail flapped her wings and leapt onto the set. She landed at Sincy’s side, and before he could speak another word, she had already reclaimed possession of her guitar. With the strap secured around her neck, and with the curved, glossy body pressed against her chest, the pegasus tested each of the strings with some wing plucks.

“Have any words for the gala-goers, Tail?” Sincy asked as he pushed a black dynamic mic and stand out in front of his sister.

“Well, uh, I can’t say I’m much of a performer. I probably haven’t consumed enough alcohol to sing without feeling the stage fright, and if it weren’t for the fact that Sincy is family, and Barley might as well be, I wouldn’t be up here at all. But”—Tail affixed her gaze to Barrier and quickly hummed—“this is a song I wrote for that stallion I was dancing with, and I’m sure many of you can relate to the notion of a significant other pushing you to be better. This is part of that journey, I guess.”

Tail’s heart shot into her throat the instant Barley began to tap his hi-hat cymbals. Keeping his percussion part on the quieter end of the volume spectrum, the cream-coated earth pony set a tempo of 115 B.P.M. and largely provided filler sounds to guide Sincy and Tail. The latter’s pulse started to race as her brother moved to his synthesizer station, and soon, a rotation of notes covering the G, D, and A-minor chords propagated throughout the ballroom.

Tail tried to gulp down the uneasy feeling. Oh, I’m really doing this, she thought, lifting a twitchy foreleg to prepare her opening G5. The thumping in her head grew more acute as Sincy reset the chord cycle to cue her in, but the view of Magic Barrier’s dilated stare generated enough warmth for her soul to keep the butterflies at bay. All those mornings singing in the shower, and all those days spent together. There’s no turning back now, not after he called you perfect, and certainly not after that perfect date.

Her wing hovered above the strings. The sounds of Sincy’s A-minor strokes racing across the keyboard hit her ears, and the instant he removed his hooves from those notes, Tail struck her introductory G5 and began to sing.

Caught a glimpse of your face, and the pain left behind.
Things I can’t know, but I’ll certainly try.
Lost in past feelings inside.
Just look at me now, no reason to hide.

‘Cause you’re not a monster! No, I won’t believe that!
Can’t you hear me screaming as I try to outlast
the edge in your voice that strives to push me away?
Well, you put your shields up when others let you down!
Damn aura of pride yankin’ burdens around!
Now I’m reaching out, ‘cause you’re no longer displaced.

Listen to the orders laced in your sighs.
Riding me hard ‘til I just want to cry,
but you’re not gonna best me this time.
Just look at me now! You’re one of a kind.

‘Cause you’re not a monster! I won’t ever think that!
Can’t you hear me screaming as I try to outlast
the edge in your voice that tells me I just gotta stay?
Well, you put your shields up when others couldn’t collect
those burdens endured commanding my respect.
Now I’m reaching out, ‘cause you’re no longer displaced.

Everybody wants! Everybody bleeds!
Everybody learns, and everybody needs
some help with those demons they just have to slay.

‘Cause you’re not a monster! No, I won’t believe that!
Can’t you hear me screaming as I damn sure outlast
the edge in your voice that strives to push me away?
Right through those shields as we soar to the sky.
Oh, trust in me now, and we’ll conquer the night.
Can’t you see, we’re no longer displaced?

As the song progressed, Tail gained more confidence with her vocals. What started as a timid, borderline wobbly affair blossomed into a gritty, heartfelt serenade that cast everyone and everything—aside from Barrier—into a penumbra.

The wailing pegasus saw neither the giddily jumping Cadance nor her hoof-pumping roommate. Bulb flashes from the flanking photographer also went completely unnoticed. When she entered the first refrain and swapped the A-minor for a Cadd9, the physicist even found it hard to keep track of her brother’s accompaniment and Barley’s rhythm. All she could see was Barrier looking up at her with an entranced, dumbfounded expression.

Like the sensation of his magic meandering through her coat, the image of him staring up at her like he could see no one else sent an uplifting shiver down her spine. She hit the bridge with more energy than she ever had in the shower, even going far enough to yank the microphone stand closer with her wing.

Without realizing it, she had switched to using a forehoof to strum her chords—an action that produced more powerful, energetic pops than the gentle harmonies created by her feather strokes. The last four words clung to a sustained, ringing G5 that, in Tail’s mind, left it all on the table. Whatever they were in, they were in it together in spite of where they had been.

Barrier planted his hoof and heaved himself up onto the stage. His horn lit as he strode towards his marefriend, and the blue aura swiftly enveloped the couple. By the time Barrier reached Tail, the pair had vanished from the ballroom, leaving a snickering Sincy behind to catch his sister’s guitar in his own magical field.

Tail emerged from the teleportation spell with her back pinned to one of the training yard’s archway columns. Her silk-covered legs rubbed against Barrier’s jacket after the stallion reared up and passionately pressed his lips against her muzzle. She moaned into the kiss and squeaked once his meandering forelegs navigated her lacy garments and mischievously pressed against her cutie marks.

The stallion rolled his head to the side and trailed additional kisses along Tail’s jawline before he playfully nipped at the scientist’s neck.

“Nngh, Barrier,” she grunted after he broke the kiss. Her face flushed in response to the developing path, and she instinctively wiggled against the stone as her arousal spiked from the sudden intimacy.

“Blanket,” the unicorn answered in a deep, husky voice. He shifted his muzzle and inhaled, taking in the scent of Tail’s mane during a steady drive towards the mare’s perked ear. He coaxed another squeak by kneading her haunches, and the second his muzzle was close enough, he unloaded a lustful whisper that made Tail quiver. “Duel me, right now.”

For a few seconds, Tail felt woozy on her hind hooves. Even with support coming from both the archway and Barrier, the shuddering motions that rocked her two appendages seeded the thought that she was about to topple over. She finally gained the wherewithal to throw her forelimbs over his shoulders, and after a sharp breath, the pegasus spoke, “What rules, Magic Bear?”

“First to pin wins the other. No magic. No flight. Just us and the yard.” Barrier nuzzled the side of Tail’s head and released a pent-up puff of air. The muscles in all four of his legs noticeably tensed, and that firmness held like a dam that needed to break until a rush of words rode a wave of tangible relaxation. “I don’t know how I got so lucky. Your attitude, your personality. Your intelligence and fucking dedication, the signs of a perfect blanket.”

Every element in Barrier’s list renewed the heated vigor of Tail’s blush. One at a time, the mare carefully slid her hind hooves higher and higher up the stone column until she had acquired enough torque to topple her coltfriend. Without sensing any resistance, she pushed the unicorn onto his back, straddled his barrel, and stretched her muzzle forward to easily deposit retaliatory kisses along the length of his horn.

“Sweety, I hope you’re not just falling over so we don’t get our outfits dirty,” she quipped, digging her forehooves under the bottom of his dress uniform. It was his turn to shudder to her touch, and Tail’s namesake and wings immediately flicked to the sensation of shared desire that the tiny movements revealed. “And I’m not taking a win without a fight either. I told you I don’t quit, and now is hardly the time for a tactical surrender.”

Tail’s eyes opened to the morning light that poured into Barrier’s bedroom, and her sights settled upon the little grey sofa placed by the window. All around the piece of furniture, reminders of her night with the stallion were prominently on display. Their gala outfits haphazardly covered the armrests in wrinkled avalanches of silk and cotton. The sensory deprivation hood from her training had been slapped down atop one of the seat cushions, and buck me, he used so much rope!

The pegasus bit her lower lip and shivered. Flashbacks to the onslaught of rough thrusts and tender touches shifted Tail’s attention to the dull ache that still lingered in her haunches and barrel, but that affixation was relatively brief. Barrier had wrapped himself around her body as they slept. His muzzle gently snugged into the crook of her neck, and his forelegs ensnared her trunk.

At some point in the night, the blue quilt had been punted to the foot of the bed, but Tail didn’t find it all that necessary. With Barrier glued to her backside, and with his hooves dug into her coat, warmth was in ample supply. They were alone with one another, the scents of their nighttime passion, and the mess they had made.

“Hmm,” she mumbled quietly while the last point meandered around her brain. She hadn’t noticed it at first, mainly due to the fact that, for most of the night, she had been unable to see a thing, but the chamber’s ambiance definitely felt brighter than it had during her first visit. The dusty bottles were no longer anywhere to be seen, and the dust, in general, had been cleaned up.

“Oh my, he must have figured out the recycling program,” she whispered to herself. Being somewhat mindful of her still-sleeping coltfriend, Tail tried her best to crane her neck without disturbing him. Peering over the horizon formed by the mattress, the scientist expanded on her hypothesis. Indeed, he had cleaned. In fact, aside from the furnishings, the only thing she recognized was the feather on the nightstand.

Seeing the lavender quill resting atop its cloth cradle made Tail’s wings ruffle. The heat that ensnared the physicist’s physique surged, and all of her efforts to be silent caved under the mental picture. She chortled quietly at the parallels between her current predicament and her feather’s status. All night, Barrier had cared for her with a degree of respect and admiration that was clearly reflected in how he cared for a piece of her.

The revelation built up the tension in Tail’s chest. It was the kind of feeling she got whenever she contemplated the fundamentals of her existence. Silly things, such as ‘Tail is Tail’ or ‘I am me,’ could put her in a profound trance, and this marked one of those moments. The conclusion she repeatedly reached while staring at that feather, while snagged in Barrier’s embrace, made the pressure swell until the only way she could avoid crying was to laugh. I am cherished…

Barrier groaned to the noise, but once he conveyed signs of cognizance, he quickly played a different tune. Through an appreciative hum, the unicorn rubbed his chin against Tail’s coat and tightened his hold on the mare. “Perfect Blanket was pretty amazing last night,” he cooed. “Beautiful singer, wonderful dancer, ingenious dueler—and incredible in bed.”

“Barrier,” she answered after her sniffling laughter subsided. She shifted a forehoof and set it on one of his legs. Her heart pounded. Much like her journey onto the stage, the pegasus knew that the echo of her thoughts would not allow her to turn away. Time and time again, the stallion had made her feel special. Time and time again, he had been the support that she needed. Time and time again, he proved to be the partner she could lean on. “I love you.”

The logical side of Tail’s brain might have taken the opportunity to postulate just how much tighter Barrier’s hug could get. The emotional side of her brain held onto his reply tighter than anything ever would.

“I love you too, Tail.”

Author's Note:

I think this is a chapter that speaks for itself. Been a long time coming.

As always, thanks for reading, giving your time, comments, likes&subscribeslol. Much love.

NLD-TheSong I composed the song too, so if you want to tempt fate by listening to a rando sing, thar you go.

It's also Amora's birthday! Have to munch on a cupcake, or something with cherries, for one of the cornerstone characters of the WingBox.

Hope to see you next week for Chapter 30 — Dreams & Calamities.

Legend tells of an uncut version of this chapter drifting around the Discord server.

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