• Published 3rd Apr 2023
  • 2,170 Views, 177 Comments

A Change in Darkness - David Silver

Bat ponies were a convenient hiding place. Few knew of their true nature, if they even really existed, so he could pretend to be one and get few hard questions. A pity one princess knew more than most, and would not be casually brushed aside.

  • ...

13 - But Why?

Skyline walked along through the hallways with far too many hoofsteps. Oh, no, perfectly normal, considering he had another pony right next to him.

"So..." Piercing was wriggling and looking as awkward as a pony could be. "Are we... a thing now?"

"What thing?" Skyline glanced as if to see if something had formed between them. Nope, just air. "What thing?" But something ticked. "Oh, a family? We have no children."

Piercing blinked at where that ended up. "You can have one of those without children."

"You can?" Skyline paused his walking, hoof going for his chin. "Is it still called a family? I thought those were for children."

Piercing put a hoof to his face. "Changelings... A family is just whenever more than one pony decides they love each other and stay together. It can have foals, or not. Sometimes, ponies aren't even romantic. They just decide they like being with each other and stay together, and that's still a family."

Skyline tossed his head towards the barracks, still some distance down the hallway. "Are we a family? We live together."

Piercing looked ready to deny that, but the words didn't come, instead thought. "Huh... yeah, sure, you could say that. We'll be a family even if we got another job. But that's a different, uh, kind of family. Still, family." He thumped against Skyline. "There are a lot of families."

"Okay, sure... Ponies are complicated." There was no doubt in that statement. "So what 'thing' were you asking about?"

Piercing waved between Skyline and himself, resuming their journey at the same time. "You kissed me, and that was a... That wasn't a 'hi, good to see you', kiss. You meant it. So... You didn't ask or say it... But are we boyfriends now?" His tone implied he wasn't against the idea, but doubt was thick in that.

Skyline wrinkled his nose. "Explain this to me." He stepped out of the way of a high-class pony taking up much of the hallway a moment. "Why are you so eager to be drained by a changeling?"

"You don't have to do that. You didn't do that when you kissed me. Same thing... I can enjoy some grass without eating it." He lashed his tail with a huff. "We're not just animals. We think, we love, we think some more. We do things besides just the first thought that comes to mind."

Skyline stepped into the barracks, nodding at some others that happened to be in sight. "And what do you suggest I do? What's the second thought, if we're tossing out the first one?"

Piercing poked at his maybe boyfriend? "You enjoy being around. Cuddling, kissing, talking about things, maybe play a game or two?" He huffed. "Do changelings do any of that with each other?"

"Not usually. That all sounds like... infiltration techniques. I know those. You want to be infiltrated?"

Piercing raised a hoof, looking ready to face-hoof, but stopped before finishing. "Actually... yes. Exactly, but the goal is different."

"The goal is usually information, or to feed. What are you saying it is?" He cocked a brow at the confusing unicorn.

Piercing pointed to a startled mare soldier. "Why would you hang out with somepony that wasn't for information or to get something else you wanted?"

The mare sat up, rubbing the side of her unadorned head. She was an earth pony, with no extra parts. "Well... if I didn't want anything, then I'm there becaue I want to be. I must like the pony. Are you asking what we'd do?"

"That's an advanced topic." Piercing turned to Skyline. "Let's get the basics first. That's it. Ponies that like each other like hanging out. If they hang out too much, they become family. Sometimes this is a big deal, and sometimes it's a quiet thing nopony even talks about, but ponies that like other ponies make families of all kinds."

"That's... simple." Skyline sank to his haunches with a smile. "Thank you for being simple for a change."

Piercing swatted at Skyline gently. "I'm not trying to be complicated! But... good. Good."

"So, you two?" The mare they'd bother was then looking at them, waving a hoof between the two. "You a thing?"

Skyline's fur fluffed up. "Yes." He thrust a hoof at the mare. "You are also part of this thing."

The mare blinked. "What? No. Um... No." She shook her head quickly. "We're not that kind of friend. I barely know either of you besides being a night guard."

Skyline's brows fell in a flat expression. "I was just told fellow guards are part of a family."

The mare laughed, tense but true. "Oh! Yeah, sure. We are that. We're not romantic though. That's the thing I was asking about. Take me out for something to eat before you just say we're that kind of thing."

Piercing leaned in towards the mare. "Sorry about this," he whispered to her loud enough that Skyline could her it easily. "He really doesn't know what families are for. I'm trying to show him."

"Oh..." She slid to her hooves. "Well... Do you like him?" She angled her head at Piercing, but her eyes were on Skyline squarely.

Skyline glanced aside at Piercing. "Sure? He's clever, a good shot, and reliable." He nodded once with each thing he went over.

The mare colored faintly. "Good, good... That's a start, now..." She sat to cycle her hooves. "Do you like him personally? Think of him as if you two weren't both guards. Would you want to be around him? Why?"

"If we weren't guards?" Skyline frowned in the thought. Would they have met? No, that wasn't the question. They already met. What if they dissolved the guard the next day. Who would he want to be around anyway?

"Wow." Piercing leaned in a little. "I know deep thoughts when I see them. Share?"

"I didn't consider this before." He nodded at the mare. "Thank you. That was a very good question. I'll have to think about it."

Piercing smiled brightly. "Sometimes a good question is the first step to an even better answer. Can I help?"

"I think I have to figure this one out..." He went in to kiss either on the cheek, leaving both colored as he walked off towards his bunk.

The mare rubbed the spot they had kissed her. "Is that... how he says bye? Some unicorns are like that..."

"Sometimes." Piercing glanced at the withdrawing form of the bat pony that was actually a changeling. "But they aren't one of those."

"So!" She climbed onto her bunk and sank down onto it. "Do you like him? He has an excuse for unsatisfactory answers, you don't. So, out with it."

Piercing retreated half a step. "Um... Yeah, I like him."

"And why?" She leaned forward, batting her eyelashes. "Name three things you really like."

"You are being very pushy..."

She brought up her hooves together. "Guilty. Answer?"

He looked about, to see where other eyes were on him. He had become the centerpoint of attention. "Ugh... Um. I know he picked it... But he is pretty."

She inclined her head. "Pretty? Not the word most use for a stallion."

Piercing burst into nervous laughter. "But he is! Um... He's a boy-pretty. Stallion pretty..." He rubbed awkwardly at a cheek. "But that's just one. It'd be... kinda shallow if that was it."

She rolled a hoof slowly. "So number two...?"

"He's mysterious... in all the good ways. He's steadfast and reliable. The two together makes him..." Piercing flopped to his haunches. "That's three... Stop teasing me."

"Never," she sang out. "But you did the three, so you're free to go."

"Gee, thanks." He walked past her, making sure to swat her with his tail on the way past in an act of petty vengeance.

The next day, their captain had them doing drills to keep in shape. While that was happening, he called Piercing and Skyline over. "It's come to my attention that we need to have this talk. Princess Luna and Princess Celestia smile on love in all its various forms." He paused to cough into a hoof. "But not while on duty. To be extra clear on this, no kissing, hugging, fondling, or otherwise getting affectionate. Since you two are in a relationship, I will be avoiding in sending you two out on any of the same missions."

Skyline nodded without argument.

That was alright. Piercing had arguments enough for both. "What?! But we serve as a great team. Why would you break that up?!"

The captain raised a brow. "You have, but when things get tough and decisions need to be made, we don't need one of those factors being your plus ones. That isn't smart. This is not a kind position. You've gotten lucky, so far, but sometimes you have to make choices that leave a pony hurt, or worse, and that was the better option." He let out a slow breath. "I'm not doing this as punishment. You understand that, hm?"

Skyline poked Piercing with an extended wing. "Besides... Until we resolve things, I won't be sent on any missions anyway..."

The captain shrugged at that. "He's not wrong. Keeping fit, that we can do, but he's to stay grounded and in sight for the immediate future. You're missing very little. But, rules are rules. I just wanted to be clear on them." He crossed his arms. "No missions together. Possible exception if that mission's a peace duty, on the ground. You two want to help a noble with a chore together? I won't stop you."

Skyline saluted sharply with a wing. "Sir, yes, Sir!"

The captain glared at Piercing.

"Sir, yes, sir," he got out, with far less enthusiasm. The command had been given, and they were sent off to finish their training drills.

Lemon Patty galloped at Skyline's side, the two doing a wide circle around the field. "Is it... true?" she asked between heavy breaths. "You and Piercing? You're... He's your special somepony?"

"He is special." Far more focused on running than talking, his breath wasn't nearly as ragged.

"But is he your special somepony?" She edged in closer. "You like stallions more than mares?"

"No." Skyline turned an ear at her. "All ponies can be good, or bad. How's your flying?"

She colored, quieting a moment before she could regain herself. "With your help, I've gotten... a lot better." She wheezed for breath, focusing on that for a time as they ran along. "Thank you."

"Glad to hear it." He slowed to a stop, the lap completed. As Lemon slowed with him, he directed her towards a water fountain.

She eagerly took a sip, but only a sip, still breathing hard. "Alright... Phew... Um..." She looked him over curiously. "So... You had a marefriend before?"


She blinked softly. "Then how do you know you like both?"

"Because I've had both." This was stated flatly, as if it were obvious. "As both."

Her face went redder than it should have been possible to do. "Oh! Oh... That... Oh..." She went for a fresh drink of water. "Oh... Sorry. This is new... But you're a changeling. This makes sense. Um... So if you could have either, as either, which do you like the best?"

Skyline raised a hoof to his chin, considering that. "I prefer being male. That is why I am one now. I can be a lady, it's not bad, I just prefer being a stallion."

She laughed, louder than she planned. "Sure! I like being a mare." Not that she had experience the other way around. "So, okay, stallion... Which do you--"

"On the field," roared the captain, directing soldiers towards their next activity. "We're not done."

Skyline began towards that next task. "Let's not get in trouble."

"N-no! That would be bad." She set her question aside for the time being. In the middle of workouts was, perhaps, not the best of times to find out the true nature of her changeling squaddie.

Author's Note:

Drop and give me 20! Skyline doesn't need to be shouted at to get in order. Reason why the brass is pretty alright with that soldier.

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