• Published 2nd Jan 2021
  • 621 Views, 168 Comments

Retcon - Beige Monkfish



A pony with no memory awakens in a strange facility.

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Chapter Eighteen - Pasta

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Retcon stopped her nervous pacing in front of the table when she heard movement on the other side of the door. Turning to face it, she focused. A pony, just the one, though she couldn’t tell anything else.

The handle turned, and the door opened inwards.

“Hey, you wanted to-” Lemony froze as she spotted Retcon. There was surprise, as well as a sudden wave of fear.

“Uh, hi,” greeted Retcon awkwardly.

“…Retcon,” the unicorn said in a small voice. She glanced around, eyes not leaving the mare in front of her for long. “Is, um, is Shower here?”

She rubbed the back of her neck. “Ah, just me actually.”

Lemony regarded her wearily, a look of realisation slowly forming. “Oh.”

“Umm,” began Retcon, looking away, “…I’m sorry I hurt you. I just wanted to… say that.” She glanced up, looking Lemony in the eyes. “I’m really sorry.”

Lemony averted her gaze. She was quiet, emotions churning, for an uncomfortable length of time, before, “…Thanks…” She sniffed. “Um, Shower kinda said you wanted to say that.”

Retcon nodded absently. “Uhh, are you… How are you?”

“Oh, um, I’m well, thanks.” She lifted a pink forelimb to her throat, where the thin bandage was wrapped around the base of her neck. “It wasn’t that deep, just grazed the bone,” she mumbled. “Mostly just nicked me.”

“That’s good.” Her eyes went wide. “I-I mean no, it’s not- it’s good that- Urgh…”

The uncomfortable things she was receiving from Lemony diminished somewhat, though outwardly the unicorn did nothing but lower her hoof back to the ground.

“Mm. Well… Nice to see you again, Retcon. I’d best…” she gestured back to the door. “…you know.”

“W-Wait!” Retcon’s wings spread wide. “Before you go,” she stepped aside and motioned to the table behind her. “…Ta da,” she announced weakly.

“Umm, what’s all this?” asked Lemony, frowning at the upside-down metal bowl on the table. Next to it was a can from the machine, the same kind of drink lemony had suggested Retcon try. A second can was already open.

Retcon opened, then closed her mouth, instead just pointing to the metal bowl cover. She took a step back as Lemony hesitantly approached it, the unicorn shooting her a questioning side glance. Lemony lifted the cover with a hoof, revealing a bowl of pasta in a cream-cheese sauce, with thin strips of hay bacon. Thankfully it still looked warm.

Still holding the cover, Lemony turned to face Retcon. “What is this?” she asked again, more forcefully.

“Um, it’s spaghetti carbonara…”

Without breaking eye contact, Lemony placed the cover on the table beside the dish. She looked unimpressed.

“I, uh, I made you some food,” Retcon mumbled. “Well I mean… Misty Fly told me what to do, and Shower said you liked this, and you mentiond it before, so…”

“Why?” The tone made it sound like it wasn’t a question.

Retcon felt like she wanted to drop through the floor. She took a big breath. “…Because you’ve been feeding me all this time,” she said on the exhale, her words like lead. “I wanted to make some food for you. It’s only fair, right?” She scratched the top of her muzzle awkwardly. “I-I know it doesn’t make us even or… So yeah.” Umm, should I go?

Lemony blinked, then turned to the dish. Then, to Retcon’s surprise, she snorted in amusement.

Retcon shrunk back wearily. Her emotions didn’t change much, she noted.

Lemony looked up at the other mare, her expression softening. “This is nice, thank you.”

“Oh, uh, sure.”

Smirking, she pointed at the soda can. “Not exactly white wine, but I’ll let that slide.”

“Uhh…” The cans are good though. What’s wine?

She snorted again, “What, are you fattening me up or something?”

Retcon inadvertently flapped her wings as she reeled back. “What!? No no no no!”

“Relax, I’m kidding.” Lemony gestured placatingly with a hoof. Turning back to the table, she frowned as she glanced around, lifting the cover briefly. “Have you already eaten?”

Retcon blinked. “Uhh, no. No, I… don’t really need to, turns out.” She pointedly ignored the discomfort in her stomach.

“Oh… yeah…” The air seemed to sour. Nevertheless, Lemony made to sit down, offering her a weak smile. “Well, this saves me having to figure out dinner later, thanks.”

Retcon nodded. “Alright…” She glanced toward the door. “Uhh…”

“Um, you can stay if you want,” offered Lemony, though she sounded unsure.

Well… Alright… Hesitantly, Retcon took the cushion opposite, on the other side of the table. She felt like she should be doing something but she couldn’t think what, so she just tried to sit still and not fidget.

Was she just asking to be polite, should I have gone anyway? Bit late now though…

Taking the fork with a hoof, Lemony tried the pasta. “Mmh. Wow,” she said through a mouthful. “’aht’s no’ bad…” Leaning forward, she sniffed the bowl in thought. “This isn’t parmesan, what cheese did you use?”

“Umm… granny something?”

“Grana padano?”

“Yeah, that’s it.” I think that’s what Misty Fly called it.

Lemony waved her fork. “…’is your firs’ time cookin’?” Retcon nodded. “Y’done a good job.”

While it hadn’t calmed completely, the chaotic muddle of emotion Retcon had felt to begin with had dwindled somewhat. Thinking on it, she glanced off to the side, not sure what to say while Lemony ate.

“So…” the unicorn piped up, voice a little more serious, if uncertain, “how are you?”

Retcon chewed the inside of her cheek. “I’m okay.”

“I mean, now that… you know.”

Oh, right. “Uh, I’m still figuring stuff out, I guess.”

Lemony nodded sadly, pausing to push some food around her bowl. “…I’m sorry I lied to you.”

Retcon frowned. “Huh? No no, don’t. I get it,” she offered.

“I mean it! All this time I was just… lying to you and I hated it.” Lemony poked at her bowl. “…I actually nearly told you.”

…What…

“In the courtyard, after you went flying,” continued Lemony, looking despondently at the table. “I didn’t know how I could get you to trust me. You were suspicious of it all, and… you were right.” She sighed, “But then, you said that thing about… ‘she who must keep secrets,’ et cetera.” She glanced up and smiled weakly. “You actually said that once, before the- Well, before. And it reminded me of… what you are, and why I couldn’t tell you, and so I… didn’t.” Swirling the pasta with her fork, she continued eating.

I don’t really remember that. “I should have trusted you,” Retcon mumbled.

“Why?” Lemony asked between mouthfuls. “You had no reason to. All I could think to do was distract you. Lie upon lie upon lie, until…” She let out a short laugh, but Retcon could sense no humour. “In fact, the only reason your file was on my desk was because I’d said I would get you a copy, and I only said that because… you were right to question us, and I just didn’t have any good answers.” After a moment, she sighed to herself. “I kinda messed it all up. I’m… not all that great at dealing with other ponies, it’s why I went into history, and then archaeology, in the first place. You don’t have to worry about what questions a rock might ask you. Shower, Rose, Mist, they’d have known what to say.”

Lemony appeared nonchalant on the surface as she ate, but her feelings gave her away. The low, discordant melody of Lemony’s emotions that kept Retcon from opening her mouth. She sat quietly, letting the unicorn talk.

Lemony snorted abruptly, breaking the silence. “I don’t even know what to say now.”

“…If it helps, neither do I.”

Glancing over, a smile pulled at Lemony’s lips. “What a pair we make, I guess.” She returned her attention to her food. “Any other situation and it would’ve been someone else, Gurney probably. Someone better qualified. But…” she gestured with her fork, “you were only able to get food from me, so that’s what we went with. You needed a friend, and you didn’t like anypony else.”

Retcon visibly bristled, causing Lemony to look up. “What, does it freak you out too?” the unicorn asked.

“Kinda.” Retcon shuffled her wings. “I can’t believe I was… doing that to you. I’m really sorry.”

Lemony shrugged, but she seemed to be giving off more anxiety than before. “It’s fine. I volunteered for it.”

“Why? I mean, how were you okay with it?”

She paused mid-chew as she thought. “…Better than letting you starve, right? It’s… yeah, it’s pretty freaky, but… you were friendly enough. …Of course you would be.” Her tone lowering, Lemony returned her attention to her food. “…Af’er a while i’ go’ easy ‘oo fink ‘ou were a ‘ony.”

…What does she mean by that? I probably shouldn’t mention how she feels, but I have to… “…Um, you’re pretty anxious right now…”

Lemony froze up, then after a second seemed to deflate. “Mmh.” She placed the fork down in the bowl, her meal mostly finished, and crossed her forelimbs on the table. “Sorry, yeah. This was, uhh… a lot easier, when… when you didn’t know.”

“…Um, what was?” Retcon hesitantly prompted.

Looking like she was holding herself with her forelegs crossed over her chest, Lemony glanced up at her. The anxiety she was exuding was growing, and it was starting to give Retcon a headache. Lemony bit her lip, taking a few false starts before she eventually spoke, “…Umm, I’m… afraid of changelings…” Her emotions spiked unpleasantly briefly as she shrank down in her seat. “…Like, a lot…”

Retcon suddenly felt very cold.

The unicorn wouldn’t look at her. “…I was in Canterlot during… Well, when they attacked, one chased me down and, I got… hurt pretty bad.” She smiled wanly, still averting her eyes, as she touched her neck. “This is nothing. I-” She paused, glancing up. “Umm, I forgive you, by the way.”

Retcon felt choked up, averting her eyes instead.

“So yeah…” Lemony mumbled, sniffling. “I’m terrified of changelings. Now you know… Or I guess, you can probably tell, can’t you…”

Yep…

Retcon look back at the other mare, who was poking at the bowl in front of her. “How come… you never were before?”

Lemony shrugged. “It was easy to forget. Especially when you didn’t know. I was lying to myself too. Playing make-believe that I was helping some pegasus who had hurt their head.”

Are you scared of me? No, don’t ask that, it’s obvious… “Umm… I’m sorry, Lemony.”

“Don’t be.” There was that ghost of a smile again, the one masking her feelings she was broadcasting. “Just, don’t do it again, yeah?”

Retcon nodded fervently. “Yeah. But also, uh…” She felt her skin crawl. “I’m sorry I-… I can go if you prefer.”

Lemony stared dejectedly at the table. “…Is I weird I kinda don’t want you to?”

“Uhm… Maybe?”

The unicorn sighed, scrunching her eyes closed. “Look, just… Give me some time. I…” Her emotions faded a little. “I enjoyed hanging out with you. Just… I need a little time. Is that okay?”

I’m really hungry… Retcon tried not to grimace at that thought. Yikes, where did that come from? Why was that my first thought? I don’t think of Lemony like food, she’s my friend. …Is she still? Maybe, don’t lose her.

She mustered up a slight smile, and-

A cold dagger of dread pierced her mind. For brief moment, she couldn’t think.

Ears flat, she ducked her head, shoulders hunched as if to make herself smaller, and looked around. What was that!?

“Uhh, you okay?”

“Was that you?” she asked, glancing over fretfully.

Lemony looked puzzled. “Was… what me?”

The horrible sensation was no longer quite so sharp. She couldn’t tell direction, but the source seemed to be more distant than the muddled confusion and worry in the room.

She turned to face the door. “Someone’s coming.”

“Huh?” Lemony glanced between her and the door. “How do you know?”

“They’re… not happy.” Closer now.

The unicorn stood. “…What is it?”

“I don’t…”

The door swung open, and into the room stepped Sky.

“Lemony, with me. We’ve got a lavastone.”