• Published 29th Sep 2012
  • 4,018 Views, 94 Comments

Desert Storm - Some Person

Soarin' and Braeburn look for something different in their lives

  • ...

Change of Plans

Soarin’s eyes creaked open as his sight adjusted to the hotel room. All traces of daylight were nowhere to be seen. He rubbed his foggy eyes, but suddenly stopped when he noticed a damp trail running from his eye to his cheek. Soarin’ lifted his head off the bed and pressed his hoof against the area below him; it was damp. He groaned and sneered. “I thought I was done doing this,” he whispered to himself. Soarin’ plopped his head back onto the bed, staring at the ceiling above. “How long was I asleep?” He lit the nearby candle. The room’s only clock was on the opposite end, which read a quarter past ten. Jeez, I really needed to sleep, didn’t I?

Soarin’ rolled off the bed, taking the opportunity to stretch his muscles. “Gotta hand it to this place, they’ve got some awesome beds.” His eyes wandered to the window at the edge of the room, picking up on the shimmering light that poked through the blinds. Something going on out there? I didn’t think a town like this would be active at night. He reached a hoof through the blinds and looked outside, only to gasp as he quickly withdrew his hoof and backed away from the window. “Please tell me I did not just see that.” Soarin’ gulped before he moved forward and took another peek outside. Several photographers, reporters, and cameraponies were camped outside of the front entrance.

“No no no no no! How did they find me here? This is the last thing I need right now! If I go out there, I’m done for!” The Wonderbolt began to flutter around his room in a panic. “I’ve gotta get out of here, but where can I go?” He stopped his hovering and sat back on his bed. “Okay, take it easy, panicking isn’t going to help.” Soarin’ took several deep breaths and felt his mind clear. Isn’t there another way out? He looked at the room’s front door and noticed a map of the complex next to it. He got out of bed and got a closer look at the map, studying a red path. “Fire escape, that could work... but where would I go? I can’t go back to Cloudsdale without this deal. Might as well whip out my two-week’s notice if I go back now. Sure I could try another hotel, but who’s to say I won’t be found out there? I’m stuck in a town with nowhere to—”

Soarin’ stopped his train of thought and slowly turned to his wastebin. He peered into it, staring the crumpled piece of paper resting within. He reached in and pulled the paper out, unfurling it on the night table. “Wait, I’m not considering this, am I?” he asked himself. “For all I know, that Breaburn pony probably ratted me out! I bet he got paid to tell everypony where I am.” Soarin’ paced around the room momentarily before turning back to the paper. “But he did seem pretty clueless to who I was... and he doesn’t seem like the type to get into somepony’s privacy.” He snorted once. “Come on, Soarin’, you don’t even know this pony! Of course he seems nice, that’s what victim number eight says before they’re on the evening headlines. Are you really going to waltz up to his front door and let who knows what happen to you?” Soarin’ sat on the bed as he glanced at the window, then back to the paper. He sighed as he rested his head in a hoof. That’s exactly what I’m going to do, aren’t I?

He looked underneath the night table and pulled out a visitor’s guide to the city. He flipped through the pages until he found a map of Appleloosa. Let’s hope your place is easy to spot, Braeburn. He slowly dragged his hoof across the map, noticing it travel further and further away from the heart of the city. It finally came to rest over a spot near the outskirts of town, beyond the apple fields. “Kinda far out from town, aren’t ya?” he murmured. “Well, I guess that if I’m going to do this, I’d better do it now. Let’s just hope the paparazzi aren’t camped in front of the fire escape as well.”

Soarin’ grabbed his bag and made sure not to leave any trace of where he was going. As he opened the door and stood in the doorway, he looked down the hall to check for any ponies snooping the premises. Nopony’s around, good. He hugged the walls as he approached the portion of the walkway in direct view of the entrance. If anypony out there spots me, my escape is as good as done. It’s not too huge an opening, but I’ve gotta get through it as fast as possible. I’ve only got one shot at this. He took a moment to securely fasten his bag to his back as he reared up his hindquarters and got into a starting position. Soarin’s wings began to flap faster and faster before he shot away from his starting location, becoming a blur to anypony looking in his direction. Once he cleared the opening, he tried stopping himself, but ended up tumbling several times in the hall before sliding to a halt within a hair’s breadth of the wall at the opposite end. Nailed it. Soarin’ stealthily moved along the fire escape path until he found the back door. He gently pushed the door open, prepared to fly away at the drop of a pin, and was relieved to discover that nopony was waiting for him. He wasted no time and took to the sky. He looked at the ponies outside. Nopony seemed to have noticed him leave the building. He took a moment to flick his hoof under his chin at the media before flying away.

Oh, shoot, Soarin’ realized as he flew away. I never paid for the night, did I? Eh, I’ll think of some way to fix it later. Right now, I’ve gotta see whether or not ‘southern hospitality’ is just a figure of speech. He flew several miles until his destination was in sight. It was a small house surrounded by nothing but the desert sand and a lone apple sapling. He couldn’t tell much from the dim moonlight, but the wooden exterior looked aged, and the roof seemed to be suffering from disrepair. As he gently set himself on the ground, Soarin’ thought, Sure hope Braeburn’s not a deep sleeper.


A series of loud thuds roused Braeburn out of his slumber. He rubbed his eyes and tried several times to grasp a nearby candlestick on his night desk. When he found his way out of his small bed, he lit the candle, holding it in his mouth as he walked down a creaky flight of stairs to greet his nighttime visitor. What the hay is somepony wanting at ten-thirty at night? I’ve gotta wake up early for work tomorrow, for pony’s sake! The visitor knocked again. “Hold yer pantyhose, ah’m comin’!” he attempted to say with the object still gripped in his teeth.

Braeburn placed the candlestick on the small table next to the door and opened it. After taking a couple of seconds to register who was in front of him, Braeburn smiled. “Hey, Soarin’!” he greeted with a yawn. “Ah was thinkin’ ya weren’t gonna show.”

“Yeah,” Soarin’ replied with a chuckle. “Let’s just say things didn’t work out back there. I know it’s late and all, but uh... is it too late to take you up on that offer to crash here?”

Braeburn cocked his head to the side. “Is that how pegasi greet each other? Crashin’ into other ponies’ homes?”

“W-what? No. That’s not what—”

Braeburn chuckled. “Ah’m jus’ messin’ with ya. C’mon in and make yerself at home,” he said as he let his guest inside and shut the door.

Soarin’ looked around his living quarters for the next week. The candle’s light revealed a small couch in front of a wooden table to his left. He could also see the faint reflection of dinnerware across from him and a small flight of stairs leading to another room. “Nice place,” he commented with an indifferent tone.

“Ah know it don’t look like much, but it’s still mah humble abode. Yer probably tuckered out, so ah won’t waste yer time n’ ah’ll let ya get ta sleep.”

Soarin’ rubbed the back of his neck. “Actually, I kinda knocked out the moment I reached the hotel room. I only woke up an hour ago.”

“Is that so?” Braeburn replied with a yawn. “Want somethin’ ta drink? Ah got plenty a’ tea ta choose from.”

“No thanks, I’m not thirsty.” Soarin’ took a moment to note where each of the windows were located. “I’ll just put my things away and try to get some sleep, though.”

“Want me t’ give ya a tour of the house?”

“Nah, it’s late, and you probably need some rest.”

Braeburn shrugged. “Suit yerself. In that case, lemme take ya t’ where yer gonna sleep.” He grabbed the candlestick and led Soarin’ up the stairs into a small bedroom. It was mostly empty, except for a cabinet, a clothes drawer, a night desk, and a bed. A clock was placed on the wall opposite of the bed. Some framed pictures of a trio of ponies rested on top of the drawer, and a pair of horseshoes rested at the foot of the bed. He placed the candlestick on the night desk.

“So,” Soarin’ began, “I’ll just set myself up here?”

Braeburn nodded. “Yup! Ah’ll let ya get cozy. Ah’ve got work early in the mornin’, so if ah’m not home when ya wake up, that’s why. Oh, before ah forget, bathroom’s down the stairs and’ll be the door on the left.” He left Soarin’ to his business and walked downstairs.

“Where’ll you be?”

“Ah’ve got mahself a place ta sleep down here, don’t worry.”

“You don’t need a light?”

Braeburn looked over his shoulder. “Ah got pretty good eyesight in the dark, ah’ll be fine. If ya need anythin’, jus’ head on downstairs and ah’ll see what ah can do.” He continued down the stairs and headed to his couch, propping himself up and making several attempts to find a comfortable position. When he reached his comfort level, he started to fall back into sleep.

“Psst, hey, Braeburn,” Soarin’ quietly called out in no particular direction. “Where can I put my things?”

“Oh, any drawer is fine...”

“Any drawer?”

“Yeah... any drawer...” Braeburn slipped back into sleep, but suddenly snapped his eyes open when he heard the drawers opening. He quickly got out of bed and headed to the stairs. “Wait! Soar—”

A small yelp from upstairs made Braeburn cringe as his ears fell flat. Please don’t tell me he looked in that drawer... He trudged up the stairs until Soarin’ finally came into sight. Braeburn’s darkest fears were confirmed when he saw that his guest was staring at the one object he’d forgotten about: a magazine filled with many stallions in provocative positions. Soarin’ stared at Braeburn, and looked back at the pamphlet on the floor. Braeburn swallowed the lump in his throat, marching towards the magazine picking it up in his mouth. He said nothing as he closed the drawer and walked away. Soarin’s eye twitched as he couldn’t help but stare at the ground in a paralyzing shock. The cowpony took it downstairs and placed it a bin at the opposite end of the house. He came back upstairs to see Soarin’ stare in silence.

“You uh... ya weren’t supposed ta see that,” Braeburn meekly told his guest. “... It was in the bottom drawer... Ya took it out?”

“I, uh... I couldn’t tell what it was at first.” Soarin’s face began to redden as he tried to turn his gaze away.

Braeburn shuffled his hooves. “This, uh... this sure ain’t the way ah wanted ta tell ya, but ah’m sure yer wonderin’ this right now, so ya deserve the right ta know.” He took a deep breath. “Soarin’... ah’m gay.”

Soarin’s eye twitched as he started to look like he’d seen a ghost. “You’re... gay?”

Braeburn nodded once. “Now... ah understand if ya feel too uncomfortable ta stay here. You can leave, ah won’t stop ya. Ah just... ah just hope ya won’t think less o’ me ‘cuz of this.” He bit his lower lip and his ears folded back as he waited for an answer.

Soarin’ stood in silence. Most of his body told him to get out, but his hooves told him to stay. “It’s uh... it’s a little out of the blue, I’ll tell you that.” Silence flooded the room as he tried to find the right words to say. “This could take a bit of getting used to, but... I don’t think it’ll be a problem.”

Braeburn slowly broke out a smile. “That’s a relief,” he said with a sigh.

“There, uh, aren’t going to be any more surprises waiting for me... are there?”

“No no no! That’s the only one ah have, honest!”

Soarin’ nodded and looked in the drawer above, inwardly making a sigh of relief to see clothes inside. “Okay, I think I’ll try to get some sleep now.”

“Right. G’night then, Soarin’! Ah’ll see ya in the mornin’.” Braeburn walked back down the stairs, leaving Soarin’ alone.


With Braeburn gone, the Wonderbolt cautiously settled himself in bed. You’re still gonna sleep in this house? he asked himself. Did you not see what he had stashed away in this room? Is that what he does? Does he just swoon ponies under his gaze and lure them here to fulfill his fetishes or something? His mind traveled back to the discovery made moments ago. Is it just a southern thing to keep your dirty laundry in plain sight? If he keeps things like that in guest rooms then- He stopped his train of thought as the pieces fell in place. This bed actually was kind of warm when I got here... and he never said this is a guest room.

Soarin’ got out of bed and walked to the stairs. He looked down and saw the faint silhouette of Braeburn sleeping on the couch. Did he... did he really give me his bed? Why? He fluttered back to bed and laid down. Well, if he’s just gonna give himself a bad back tomorrow, then that’s on him. Might as well enjoy the night. He blew out the flame and closed his eyes, allowing himself to drift off to sleep.


...Or so he thought. Soarin’ rolled around in bed, taking another look at the clock. One hour. A whole hour, and I still can’t get any sleep! He dragged his hooves over his face. What is it going to take for me to get some shuteye? He sat up and got out of bed, lighting his candle and grabbing it while hovering down to the first floor. He said the bathroom’s this way. When he reached the bathroom, he pushed the door open and looked inside. There was a shower, a toilet, a towel rack with one neatly folded towel, and a medicine cabinet. Jackpot. He opened the magnetic door on the cabinet and looked inside. Aside from toothpaste and other dental work, he found a box of pills inside. Thank Celestia, he has Lunasta. Just gotta pop a few of these back and I should be in ‘la la land’ in no time. Soarin’ took two pills into his mouth and turned on the faucet, gathering a mouthful of water to wash the capsules down.

Perfect. That should do the trick. He left the room and closed the door behind him. He froze when he heard Braeburn make a noise, but calmed down when he noticed his host just move in his sleep. He lifted himself into the air and meant to head back to bed, but he looked at Braeburn. How was he able to so easily talk about being gay? I’m a complete stranger to him, everything about this pony makes no sense! He returned to his bed and tucked himself back under the covers. Nothing left to do now except wa... wait for... wow, those... those pills kick in... pretty... He started to snore.

Well well well, I knew it was only a matter of time.

Soarin’s immediately sat up in bed. Before him was a splitting image of himself, save the dirty wonderbolt uniform and broken goggles it wore, staring back with a sly grin. He glared at the being before him. “I thought I got rid of you.”

His reflection chuckled while its image momentarily faded in and out. “I’m not somepony you can just toss aside.

“We’ve been through this. Why can’t you just face the facts already?”

The one who needs to face the facts is you!” The doppelganger accused as it pointed a flickering hoof.

“Looks like you’re not all there,” Soarin’ responded with a smirk. “You should bulk up on some protein, get some meat on those fake bones.”

Shut up! I’m only like this because of you!

Soarin’ shook his head. “Look at you. You’re so desperate to be something you’re not. It’s a little sad when you think about it.”

I could say the same thing, me. We know each other too well,” the reflection replied, copying Soarin’s smirk.

The Wonderbolt’s expression subsided. “If you don’t have anything important to tell me, then leave me alone. I’m trying to get some sleep.”

The only reason I’m here now is because part of you wanted me back. You want me here because you need somepony like me to talk to.

“Why would anypony want to talk to you?”

It walked toward Soarin’, crawling on top of the bed to look him in the eye. “Because you need me, and you know it. I’m the only pony you can trust with your deep, dark secrets, even the ones you’re so desperately trying to bury. Kinda like how you buried me.

“For good reason,” Soarin’ responded as he pulled the covers over his head. “You’re just a parasite, and I want nothing to do with you.” He immediately felt the covers get ripped out of his hooves. Soarin’ felt his reflection’s front hooves plant themselves next to his head. He looked up to be locked into his opposite’s gaze.

Its eye twitched while it gnashed its teeth. “You might think you know everything about me, but you don’t know the half of it. We both know what you’re so afraid to admit to the world.

“And what’s that?”

It opened its mouth to reply, but stopped itself. Its eyes widened as it sat back and started to giggle. “No. If I tell you now, then you wouldn’t need talk to me again. Why spoil the big surprise when I could watch you flop around so aimlessly, slowly coming to terms with the truth once there’s nowhere to run?” It hovered in the air above Soarin’. “See, this conversation of ours? This is only the beginning. I’ll let your subconscious nurture the few thoughts I’ve planted in your mind. When you start to figure it out, you’ll come looking for me, I’m sure of it. We’re one in the same, after all. Think of this as payback for ignoring me for so long.

Soarin sat up. “Will you stop with these horseapples? There’s only one me, and I’m right here. You’re... you’re not... you...” Soarin held his head in his hooves and groaned.

The reflection gave a disapproving huff. “Looks like time is up, me. It’s been fun chatting, but we could use our beauty sleep.” It touched down on top of Soarin’, whose eyelids became heavier after each passing second. It whispered into his ear, “Goodbye for now.


The sunlight and a pounding headache were there to greet Soarin’ as he sat up in his bed. Okay, sleep is one thing, but I could’ve done without this. He massaged his forehead as he looked at the clock. One in the afternoon? Hallucination or not, those pills sure did their job. He slowly slipped out of bed, shaking the tingles out of his legs and trying to ease the pressure out of his skull when he sniffed the air. Something smells really good! His closed his eyes while his nose dragged him down the flight of stairs and into the kitchen. As he approached the source of the alluring scent, wings fluttering along the way, various tangy spices became intertwined with the sound of ingredients simmering on the stovetop. He opened his eyes to see Braeburn, who was so focused on preparing his dish that he didn’t notice Soarin’ approach until his hooves landed on the floor with a small thud.

“Hey there!” Braeburn said over his shoulder. “Ah was beginnin’ ta think ya weren’ gonna wake up.”

Soarin’ stretched his neck. “Yeah, I had a little trouble falling asleep last night.” He noticed Braeburn wince, despite his trying to hide it. “Not because of... that, but because of how long I slept when I got to the hotel. Still managed to get to sleep after I... sat still for a bit.”

“Well that’s good. Ah hope yer rest gave ya an appetite. Ah made some stir fry, but ah don’t think you’ll like it.”

“Are you kidding? I love stir fry!” Soarin’ responded as his eyes grew huge and his wings flared. He was quickly reminded of his current condition and calmed down as he cleared his throat and refolded his wings. “What kind do you have?”

Braeburn scooped the meal into a large, oblong bowl, placing it on the table. Inside the dish was a meal decorated with various sizzling vegetables piled on top of a bed of brown rice.

Try as hard as he might, Soarin’ couldn’t make out a single ingredient. “This is...”

“Rainbow stir fry,” Braeburn finished as his ears folded back. “It’s a recipe ah picked up on a visit out of town once. Ya don’t seem a fan o’ southern cuisine, and you were plum tuckered out. No worries. Ah’ll pick up some of whatever ya like from the market.”

Soarin’ inspected the dish again. “If you want to, then sure. I could really go for a daffodil daisy sandwich.”

“Alright then. Gimme a few minutes and ah’ll head right on out!”

As Braeburn headed up the stairs to prepare for his trek, Soarin’ sat at the table, staring out the window across from him. He noticed the vast sandy landscape that seemed to stretch as far as the eye could see. The scent of the stir fry summoned Soarin’s attention again. Against his better judgement, he scoured the cabinets around the room, subtly noticing most were empty, and eventually found an additional bowl. It was worn and chipped, but he accepted it nonetheless. With care, Soarin’ shook a small portion of the meal into his separate bowl. He eyed the food carefully before hazarding a small bite. Within seconds, a fireworks display erupted in his mouth as the blend of spices and herbs sent his taste buds into euphoria. Celestia damn it, this is amazing.

Braeburn walked down the stairs, now wearing a saddlebag. “Shouldn’t take too long fer me ta git whatcha need. Be back soon!”

Just as his hoof was on the door handle, Soarin’ said, “Wait.” The cowpony turned around, waiting patiently. “You made a meal for yourself, and it’s still hot. If anything we could split this bowl. It’s really really good. I could just have some of that for a meal.”

Braeburn cocked his head an inch to the side. “Ya like southern food?”

Soarin’ shrugged. “I’ve never actually had any before, but this is really something else.”

“That’s a surprise,” Braeburn admitted as he rubbed the back of his head. “You’d be surprised how many ponies ain’t willin’ ta try vegan food.” He placed his saddlebag over the top of his couch and pulled up a chair across from Soarin’. “Mighty sorry fer not gettin’ ya somethin’ in tune ta yer tastes.”

“It’s no trouble,” Soarin’ replied with a shake of his head. He handed the larger bowl to his host and started to eat. “What’s in this, anyway?”

“There’s quite a bit in here, ah wouldn’t wanna bore ya with the details, but ya got things like baby corn, cabbage, n’ chestnuts ta name a few.” Both ponies silently ate their meal, shooting awkward glances around the room. Braeburn decided to eventually speak up. “So, what brings ya t’ town? Ah don’t mean ta pry, but ah remember ya said you were in Appleloosa on business.”

Soarin’ quickly swallowed his mouthful. “That’s right.”

“Well, maybe ah can help ya out. Ah know this town like the back o’ mah hoof.”

The pegasus slowly looked down at his bowl. “That sounds... great and all, but I really shouldn’t be talking to anypony about this except for Appleloosa’s mayor.”

Braeburn’s eyes lit up. “We don’t have a mayor ‘round here, but we do have a sheriff; Sheriff Silverstar’s the pony you’re lookin’ for. He usually don’t got much time fer outsiders n’ their quips, usually cuz’ it’s a complaint about the dust, and he’s busy helpin’ settle disputes or any other problems that might pop up in town. Lucky fer you, ah’m on perty good relations with the sheriff, and ah can probably get ‘im ta talk to ya real quick.”

Soarin’ rested his head on his hoof. “Just like that?”

Braeburn nodded. “We can head to his office whenever yer ready.”

“Works for me,” Soarin’ replied with another mouthful. As the two ponies sat in more silence, a thought came to Soarin’s head, causing him to tap the table. “So... when you say ‘good relations’, do you mean you two are... you know...”

Braeburn stared with one eyebrow raised until his guest started bumping his hooves together. He snapped back in surprise. “N-no! Nothin’ like that! He’s like an uncle ta me, honest! Ah wouldn’t... ah couldn’t...”

“Okay, okay, sorry. It was just a question,” Soarin’ assured as he held his hooves in front of him.

“What exactly happened at the inn?” Braeburn asked, eager to move onto a different subject. “Ya seemed perty sure of yerself that ya were fine there.”

Soarin’ pointed to Braeburn and opened was about to explain, but decided against it. “I’d rather not get into that right now.” With the conversation effectively dead, both ponies ate until their stir fry was no more. “Welp, now’s as good a time as any to get going.”

Braeburn agreed while he gathered the dishes and placed them into his sink before getting ready to depart. While Braeburn was doing this, Soarin’ suddenly noticed the flaw in his plan. If I go out into the city, there’s a good chance those paparazzi are waiting for me. I’d stand out like a sore thumb, looking how I am. He called out to Braeburn. “Hey, do you happen to have any extra vests or something? I could sure use one if we’re heading out... preferably one that could cover my wings. Oh, and if you’ve got a really big hat stashed away, that would be great.”

His host laughed from afar. “If yer wanted from the law, Soarin’, headin’ to a sheriff’s office ain’t the best decision.”

“I’m serious.”

Braeburn faced his companion, walking to meet him at the door. “Ya sure ‘bout that? It’s mighty toasty outside, and ah only got mah winter’s coat.”

“It’s fine, really. I could just use some help wrapping it around my wings.”

“Ain’t that gonna hurt?”

Soarin’ waved a hoof. “Nah, you kidding? Wings are pretty sturdy things. I bet I won’t even notice it.”

Braeburn took a good look at Soarin’, cocking his head to the side. “If ya say so. Ah’ve got a couple spare clothes. Be back in a jiffy.” He walked up the stairs and disappeared for a moment before returning with a white ten-gallon hat and a long burgundy vest. Soarin’ stifled a shudder upon seeing the clothing, which Braeburn failed to notice. “Ah dunno if this is such a good idea, Soarin’,” Braeburn stated as he worked the vest onto his companion’s body.

Soarin’ took the hat and fitted it on his head, ensuring a majority of his mane was covered. “Don’t even worry about it. Like I said, wings are really stur—.” His sentence was interrupted when a sharp jolt of pain shot up from his wing into his right ear. Soarin’ momentarily whimpered before merging the noise into his next sentence. “Why don’t we get going?” He tried his best to force a smile while being under Braeburn’s scrutinizing gaze.

“Okay...” Braeburn said while trying to get a grasp of what was going on. “Let’s get goin’.” He opened his front door, momentarily blinding Soarin’ as he held a hoof in front of his eyes. Once his eyesight adjusted, Braeburn stepped outside, turning back to urge Soarin’ to follow. “It shouldn’t be too long a trip. Just to the heart o’ town n’ back.”

Soarin’ gritted his teeth in a grin. “Oh? Into the middle of the town, great!” He began to follow Braeburn. Great...