• Published 21st Oct 2012
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A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing - Dee Pad



Can a changeling truly renounce his identity and find happiness amongst those he was taught to hate?

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Bonus Chapter 8 - Suppression

A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
By Dee Pad
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Bonus Chapter 8: Suppression

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Another quiet morning. It seemed like this was how most mornings were since Winter had been with Shade. She never imagined that sharing a bed with someone would actually make sleep more peaceful and more comfortable. It was especially welcome for these past few weeks as the air was thick with the chill of snow and ice. She had to admit, as much as she loved the season and everything that went with it, the low temperatures could be bothersome occasionally. Having another body, even one without an insulating, fur coat, made the cold, winter nights all the more bearable. It was mornings like this, those that she could lovingly share in comfortable silence with her lover, that she had come to gain an appreciation for.

Or it would if it hadn't been five o' clock in the morning.

The slumbering pegasus had been roused from her sleep at this ungodly hour by the coddling embrace of her favorite changeling. It normally wouldn't be a big deal to have Shade's forelegs wrapped around her in the night, but he wouldn't stop squirming, running his hooves through her coat and nuzzling against the back of her neck.

Winter sighed in her sleepy state. She had a feeling she knew what this was about. It wasn't too uncommon for Shade to ask for... that in the morning after a night of peaceful rest. It's not that she was against the idea, but to be egging her on at this hour? It wasn't happening.

Winter let out a low groan, trying to make the noise sound as disapproving as possible without outright shooting him down. Hopefully he'd get the hint and go back to sleep. She was surprised to find that, in stark contrast to what she had intended, Shade only pulled himself closer to her. Perhaps he had misinterpreted the disapproving groan as an aroused moan. She was going to have to be a bit more forceful.

The mare moved her left foreleg back, nudging Shade in the ribs with her elbow. That should get the point across; Winter didn't know anypony who'd mistake an elbow in the ribs as a sign of approval. But, once again, her efforts worked against her. Before she could pull her leg back, Shade had slipped one of his own forelegs under it and ran his hoof affectionately through the soft, white fur of her chest, pulling himself more into her back and burying his face into her silky, red mane.

Winter tried to ignore the blood in her cheeks as she grimaced at her stymied efforts to ward him off. She was too tired for this, if she was going to have to flat out reject him in order to get back to sleep, then that's what she was going to do.

"Shade," she whispered, her voice barely above a raspy moan, "knock it off. I'm not in the mood."

He didn't respond. Well, not verbally anyway. Her voice only seemed to motivate him more towards pursuing her approval, holding her more tightly and moaning softly into the back of her neck. Now Winter was getting frustrated. It wasn't like him to just ignore her pleas. He was more considerate than that. On any other night or morning that she had gently let him down, he would obey, knowing to respect her boundaries. Why was he being so stubborn now?

Winter had had enough. No matter how hard Shade tried, she wasn't going to give in. It was time to fight back.

"Shade, that's enough. Stop."

With a rough shove, Winter pushed Shade off of her, his grip on her loosening until she could no longer feel him touching her. What she had failed to realize in the dark of the early morning was that Shade had not been pulling himself toward her, but pulling her towards him, and they were closer to his side of the bed than she realized. That fact was made abundantly clear by the loud thud that followed her denial.

Winter's head jolted up at the sound, as well as the sudden lack of bedsheets covering her body. Turning around, she found that Shade had suddenly vanished and quickly peered over the edge of the bed. Shade lay upside-down on the floor with his rump hanging above his head, the bedsheets coiled around his body and a thoroughly bewildered expression on his face.

"Oh, cripes, I'm sorry, Shade," Winter apologized. "I didn't mean to push you that hard."

Shade just blinked, the befuddled look on his face not giving way for a moment. "Good morning to you, too," he managed to utter in his confused state. "So uhhhh... any particular reason I'm down here or is this how I'm sleeping from now on?"

A guilt-ridden Winter reached down to help Shade up off the floor and back into bed. With a quick shimmer of Shade's magic, he replaced the bedsheets back onto the bed and over himself and his mare. "Sorry, but I did give you fair warning."

Shade rubbed the back of his head where he had landed, raising an eyebrow at Winter's explanation. "Warning for what? What did I do?"

"You were being all grabby and I told you I wasn't up for it right now."

That puzzled look never left Shade's face for a moment. "What are you talking about? I was sound asleep up until about thirty seconds ago when I woke up to find the room had turned upside-down."

Now, it was Winter's turn to be confused. "You were asleep?" He gave an affirming nod. "So then you weren't trying to... you know...?"

Shade glanced at the clock on the bedside table. "At this hour? What, are you nuts? I love you, Winter, but five is still a little early for that kind of thing."

Winter giggled softly. "Okay, I get it."

Shade dropped down onto his pillow and stared up a the ceiling. "Must have been having a pretty good dream or something."

"Must have," she agreed, cuddling into him mostly as a way of apologizing.

A thought crossed Shade's mind for a moment and he'd figured he may as well confirm something with her. "Hey, you're still coming with me to Twilight's later, right?"

"Hm?" Winter hadn't exactly expected that question to come up in this situation. What about what just happened made him think of Twilight? "Yeah, of course."

Shade nodded, confirming what he pretty much already knew. He knew he was going to be alone for his lessons with Twilight today. The day before, Rarity had gotten a huge order from a big shot in Manehattan and had requested that Chamella stay behind to help out. Of course, that meant she would miss her lesson for the day, but Twilight seemed fine with it. What difference would one day make? But Shade had grown accustomed to having a partner with him for his studies; they would usually help each other out, or rather Shade would mostly help Chamella. It had been ages since he'd had a one-on-one study session with Twilight, but he figured it would be a good opportunity for Winter to sit in on one of their study sessions; she had never really done that before.

Shade glanced down to the mare resting her head on his chest, sighing softly with content as she readied herself to get a few more hours sleep. "You know, since we're up—"

"No."

***** ***** *****

The sun hung high in the sky over Ponyville on this early afternoon. There was no wind, no snow falling, and not a cloud in the sky. It was a perfect day all things considered. Bundled up with warm clothes as they stepped lightly through the soft layer of snow on the ground, Shade and Winter were making their way to Twilight's library, lead by the unicorn herself who had stopped by their house since she was in neighborhood.

Shade was feeling unusually chipper today, despite the rude awakening he had received in the wee hours of the morning. He was also especially affectionate, having given Winter a salvo of loving kisses and whispering sweet nothings into her ear while they were preparing breakfast. Certainly strange for the first thing in the morning she thought, but wasn't about to turn down such attention. Neither one of them really knew why, but Shade had a feeling today was going to be a good day and, with that in mind, kept his eyes focused forward...

...And slightly down.

That lavender flank swayed back and forth as the pony it was attached to hummed an upbeat tune to herself during her walk. Her streaked tail swished to and fro in rhythm with her flank as she walked, like a metronome that was keeping her humming on key. Perhaps the bookworm didn't have the most svelte figure in the world, but there was no denying that there was something oddly enticing about her hindquarters. It was just the right amount of plump and round to be something desirable, and the starburst cutie mark was like the adorable, little cherry that topped it off.

Shade's focus was deterred, however, by something suddenly jabbing him in the side. Winter was giving one heck of a harsh glare. "Ow!"

"What are you doing?" she hissed at him, trying to keep her voice down.

Shade simply stared at her, completely lost. "What are you talking about?"

"Don't give me that, you were staring at Twilight. I saw that goofy grin on your face."

Where was this coming from all of a sudden? "Are you crazy? Why would I stare at Twilight?"

"That's what I want to know."

Shade had no idea where this accusation was coming from. The icy glare she was giving him wasn't something he was accustomed to seeing from her, but very recent events brought her behavior into question. "Look, I don't know what you think I'm doing, but are you sure that whatever the problem is here doesn't have something to do with you and not me?"

"What?!" Winter glanced forward to make sure Twilight was still oblivious to the conversation. "You're the one who was staring at Twilight's butt!"

Shade just shrugged off her angry accusations. "First you accuse me of being too pushy in bed when I was, in actuality, fast asleep, and now you're accusing me of having wandering eyes? Are you sure there's not something wrong?"

With each retort Shade gave, Winter's anger just seemed to boil higher.

"Let me ask you something, Winter. I have the most beautiful and most loving mare in the world as my girlfriend. Why would I stare at Twilight when I have you?"

Winter opened her mouth to lash back, but hesitated. She never had any reason to suspect Shade of being unfaithful before. She knew him better than that. He did spend a lot of time with Twilight. Could it be that her mind was fabricating some sort of unfavorable scenario in her head? Was she... jealous?

Shade jostled her from her thoughts by sidling up next to her and speaking softly into her ear. "Come on, I'd never do anything like that to you, would I?"

Winter blushed deeply, but smiled. "I... guess not. Sorry. I don't know what's gotten into me."

"Don't worry about it." He leaned in and gave her a quick peck on her cheek.

"What are you two whispering about back there?"

The couple looked ahead to see Twilight glancing back as she stood at the doorway to the library, a curious expression on her face.

"Nothing," Winter giggled. "We were just talking, that's all."

Twilight shrugged it off, assuming that it was some sort of personal discussion that she needn't be a part of, and opened the door. The three entered and removed their hats, boots and saddles, favoring the warm, indoor air of the library over the insulation of their winter clothes. As per usual, Twilight had already laid out the materials necessary for the day's lessons on the lobby's central table. Shade sat down and Winter took a seat next to him. Twilight elected to seat herself on the opposite side, briefly perusing the books and papers in order to determine what to focus on first.

Winter was given her first chance to observe Shade in an educational environment. He had talked about his lessons with Twilight on occasion, but it was interesting to see it first hoof. The way Twilight would coach and guide him through the various subjects was much the same as watching a schoolkid being tutored. She was also surprised to see how complex the subjects they studied were. Winter had assumed that he was still grasping reading and writing and mathematics, subjects that were relevant to his job, but Twilight had laid out history books and some basic science textbooks on top of that. It gave her the feeling that Shade might be the smart one in the relationship.

But something was off. Though Winter didn't really see Twilight as much as Shade did, any conversation with her usually wound up being about Shade and his studies. She had always praised him for being attentive and a quick learner. However, today Shade seemed like he was somewhere else. Every time Twilight would ask him a question about what they had been discussing, he reacted as if he'd forgotten where he was. This was certainly not what she was expecting after everything she had heard.

After an hour or so, Twilight stood up and stretched. "Why don't we take a short break?" she suggested. "Do you guys want some tea?"

Winter gave a smile and a nod, but Shade gave no reply, instead keeping his nose pointed down at the book open before him. Twilight figured she would get him a cup anyway and turned to head to the kitchen. Winter noticed Shade's head lift up once Twilight had turned her back. Once again, she was shocked to see her boyfriend ogling the unicorn's flank.

When Twilight was out of earshot, Winter spoke up with a stern growl. "Okay, that's it."

Shade looked at her with an innocent and oblivious expression. "What?"

"You're doing it again! I knew I wasn't imagining things."

Shade stammered in an attempt to explain himself. "Winter, I-I—"

Winter quickly interrupted him. "No, listen. Something is going on here and I want to know what." Her ears flattened against her head and she looked at Shade with a face that crushed his heart. "Shade, do you... not find me attractive anymore?"

Shade's mouth fell open at the accusation. "What?! Why would you think that?!"

She turned away from him. "It's the only reason I can think of for why you keep eyeing Twilight like that."

Shade placed a hoof on her cheek, forcing her to look him in the eyes. "Winter, come on, you're being paranoid. If I wasn't attracted to you, how would you explain all the attention and affection I gave you this morning?"

Winter stared into his deep, green eyes. She always thought it was a little ironic that gazing into the eyes of this changeling was always the one way she could tell when he was being truthful to her. She could see some worry in his eyes. Whatever was going on with him, he probably wasn't doing it on purpose. "You... You're right. I'm sorry. But there's got to be something going on. I mean, even the way you acted this morning was still kind of weird."

Shade paused for a moment and thought. "I don't know. When I got up, I just felt... good. I looked at you and I couldn't resist your beauty, and when Twilight showed up I—" Shade's eyes shot wide, a sudden, chilling realization dawning on him. "Oh no... No, no, no, no..." His chin hit the table and he covered his head with his hooves.

Winter felt her heart jump slightly, worried about what he had just realized. "What is it? What's wrong, Shade?"

Shade looked at her with desperation in his eyes. "Winter, how long have we been dating?"

The pegasus quirked an eyebrow at the seemingly random question. "Um, about ten months now I think. Why?"

Shade let out a long, disheartened groan and answered in a quiet begrudging tone. He was afraid of that. "It's mating season..."

Suddenly, Winter's worry was replaced by confusion. "Uh... What?"

Shade lifted his head off the table, but kept his eyes gazing downward and spoke flatly and quietly. "Mating season. It happens around the same time every year. The last mating season was around two months before we invaded Canterlot, so it's that time of year again."

Winter took a second to process that, not knowing how to respond in her confusion. So many questions had suddenly popped up in her mind. "So, right now, all the changelings back in the Changeling Kingdom are... in heat?"

"Well, no. See, it's different for each changeling. It happens around the same time of year that we were born, so only the changelings that were born in the same cluster as me are, as you said, 'in heat.'"

"So, like, around your birthday?"

Shade shrugged. "Yeah, I guess."

"But..." Winter was still trying to wrap her head around it. "I don't quite understand. That doesn't make sense to me."

"What doesn't make sense?"

The couple looked up to see Twilight standing at the kitchen door with a platter holding a teapot and three cups. She walked back to the table and set the platter down.

Shade was aware of his actions now. As soon as Twilight stepped back into the room, his eyes were drawn to her. He felt... dirty all of a sudden, like he had betrayed Winter. He quickly stood up. "Uh, look, Twilight, I know this is sudden, but I have to go."

"Huh? Why?"

"It's mating season." Shade gaped at Winter who had so blatantly spelled it out. After realizing that he had apparently told her that in confidence, she slapped a hoof over her mouth. "Oops. Uh, sorry."

"Mating season?" Twilight repeated. She looked to the changeling with curiosity more than anything. "Is that true, Shade?"

He let out a reluctant sigh. "Yeah..."

"Hmm..." the unicorn hummed to herself. "You've never mentioned anything about this before."

"That's because I never really took it into consideration when I moved here. Up until now, it's just been a normal part of my life; I didn't really think anything of it."

A concerned expression appeared on Twilight's face. "Is this something serious?"

"Well, he's kind of been staring at your... hindquarters all day," Winter explained. Shade's cheeks burnt red as Winter once again hastily revealed information he felt Twilight was better off not knowing.

A similar blush also filled Twilight's face. "Oh, I see," she uttered with embarrassment, trying not to look Shade in the eye. "I guess that's pretty serious."

"But doesn't it seem odd to you?" Winter asked. "I mean, I know that most creatures—us included—go through something like this too, but for Shade to be as... forward as he's been all day and staring at other mares, that seems a bit excessive, don't you think? We just get a little moody every now then. Plus, he's a boy. I thought only females went into heat."

Twilight closed her eyes in thought. Shade knew that face; he'd seen that same look a few times whenever he would tell her about changeling life and society. She was busily piecing together a theory for this new information. "Hmm... From everything Shade's told me about the Changeling Kingdom, it's not really too surprising that it's having a more drastic effect on his hormones. Though I've seen from people, like Shade and Queen Chrysalis, that changelings are capable of being very intelligent creatures, they are still a fairly primitive race all things considered. This kind of reaction to his increased hormonal activity may be a result of his more primal upbringing and society. Like many wild animals, one of the prime directives built into the changeling mindsets from the moment they're born is the survival and continuation of their species. So a strong desire to mate, at at least one point during the year, makes sense. As for why Shade himself is going through this, it's not unheard of for males of a particular species to have a heat cycle. Elephants for example. Perhaps changelings are just one of these species."

Winter wasn't entirely sure about her theory, but considering this was Twilight Sparkle, she decided to take her word for it. But another, more concerning, question came to mind. "So then why would Shade want to look at other mares? He has a mate: me."

Twilight looked like she had a hypothesis, but seemed hesitant to reveal it. "Winter, I don't want you to take this the wrong way, but perhaps Shade's primal desires are simply seeking out an ideal partner."

Twilight could immediately tell by Winter's expression that she was a little insulted by her theory. "What, you don't think I'm an ideal mate?"

The unicorn quickly attempted to defend her hypothesis. "Ideal for copulation. If my hunch is correct, then Shade's brain—and body, I suppose—are seeking out an ideal physical or intellectual mate with which to, um... breed. I'm the smartest person Shade knows, so it makes since that he would, subconsciously, select me as an ideal intellectual mate."

Twilight looked at Shade whose face was practically completely red, fidgeting in place and desperately trying to avoid eye contact. She passed a sympathetic look to Winter. "To be honest, if this really is as serious as he's making it out to be, then to have suppressed his baser urges for as long as he has shows a great deal of restraint on his part. And I think it's all because of his emotional bond with you that he has been able fight off his urges."

Now Winter felt guilty. She had been accusing him of being too forceful and even of being unfaithful. Now she was being told that he had little to no control over his actions because his hormones were out of whack. She couldn't even imagine what he must be going through right now.

"Look, I really have to go, Twilight," Shade reiterated with urgency. "I need to go home and stay there for a few days. You understand, right?"

Twilight calmly nodded, feeling she had a firm understanding of the situation. "Yes, of course."

Without even saying goodbye, Shade made a beeline for the door, not even bothering to grab his winter clothes. With only the two mares left in the library, an awkward silence hung in the air and they both knew why. Twilight was still trying to shake the thought of Shade actually being attracted to her, even if it was a result of his current hormonal instability. Looking across the table, she noticed Winter's ears laying flat and a look a deep remorse on her face. Twilight opened her mouth to speak, hesitated, but spoke anyway.

"You know, I think he could probably use your help right now."

Winter looked up, unsure of her words. "What can I do?"

Twilight stared up at the ceiling rocking her head side to side. "Weeeeell, like you said, you're his mate. He chose you because of his emotional attachment to you. I can think of something you could do to help him out."

Winter's ivory cheeks flushed red when she caught on to Twilight's meaning. "Oh..."

***** ***** *****

As the door to the library shut behind him, Shade fell back and let his head rest against the fuchsia-stained entryway. He let out a long, exasperated sigh as his eyes stared blankly up at the clouds gently floating by. He didn't even care that he was sitting on a fresh blanket of snow, if anything it was helping to cool him off in his state of mental and hormonal chaos. Anything was worth quelling the heat that was building inside of him.

How did I let this happen?

He should have put more thought into this from the very beginning. Sure, it would have been difficult since he never used to have any real concept of the date considering his homeland never changed over the course of the year, but even if he had the forethought to take it into consideration he could have done something to avoid or at least prepare for this. He could have locked himself in the bathroom for the next few days or something, keep Winter from getting wrapped up in all of this. But it wasn't really too late to put that plan into action. He just needed to get home, have a cold shower and shut himself in.

Shade stood up again. He would have brushed the snow off his flank if it all hadn't immediately melted once it came into contact with his skin, which still felt like it might have been hot enough to emit a faint glow. Shade started walking, doing his best to keep his eyes focused forward and his mind clear of any distracting thoughts.

It certainly would have helped if this town didn't have two-to-one ratio of mares and stallions. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't prevent his eyes from flicking to the side whenever he saw something move in his peripheral vision. A bead of nervous sweat ran down Shade's neck. Was every mare in Ponyville out and about today? Wherever his eyes wound up wandering, it seemed like there was at least one mare in view and even one mare meant he had something for his focus to get stuck on. He looked right and he could see Carrot Top chatting with Derpy. He looked left and he could see a young couple sharing a loving kiss on a bench by the town fountain. He looked up and he could see Rainbow Dash busily clearing away clouds. It was like he was trapped and he instinctively picked up his pace.

But wait, maybe there was some way he could, at the very least, make his trip home a little less stressful. There was something Winter had said back at the library. He shouldn't have to desire other mares, he already had a mate. Perhaps if he kept his mind on the one mare who mattered to him more than anything, then he could keep his head level, at least until he got home. Shade halted his trotting, closed his eyes and took a deep, clearing breath.

Just think about Winter. Nothing else matters except Winter.

Shade opened his eyes again. He desperately hoped this idea worked. He looked up. To his surprise and relief, he saw not Rainbow Dash flying overhead and clearing clouds, but the ivory form and fiery red mane of his beloved Winter. He looked right. A pair of Winters were engaging in friendly conversation. He looked left. Another couple of Winters sitting together on a bench by the town fountain and sharing a loving...

...kiss...

This isn't working! This isn't working at all!

The heat within him boiled up again suddenly and his mind went into a spiral of unclear and unsanitary thoughts. There was only one comprehensible thought that seemed to properly coalesce in his hormone-addled brain: run. Fast. Shade broke into a panicked gallop, desperate to get to the safety of his home before he wound up in a situation that he would regret. But in his rush, Shade failed to notice a certain pink earth pony bounding her way through the snow and plowed straight into her, sending the pair tumbling across the snow-covered ground.

Pinkie Pie lifted herself up and rapidly shook the snow from her head. "Wowee, didn't see that coming. Gotta stop hopping around with my eyes closed." On a whim, she glanced down to find herself seated atop a rather flustered-looking changeling. "Oh, hiya, Shade. We gotta stop meeting like this. Or... is this the first time we've met like this? Am I thinking of somepony else?"

Shade couldn't concentrate on the party pony's nonsense at the moment. What was currently on his mind and frightening him to no end was the fact that she was straddling him and wasn't getting up.

Pinkie Pie giggled as she looked at Shade. "Geez, Shade, your cheeks are awful red. For someone who has no fur and no clothes, you seem to be pretty warm out here. What's your secret?" She removed a pencil and notepad from underneath her blue hat and waited for him to divulge the information.

Shade stared up and into the inquiring mare's bright blue eyes. She had such an innocent smile and there had always been something comforting about her exuberance and optimism. It was also amazing how she managed to keep her figure so well managed with how much sugar she ingested in the course of a day. He had to admit, she was cute. And the way she was sitting on him...

Shade shook his head. No! Don't think about that! Stop thinking!

"Pinkie, sorry for running into you, but c-can you please let me up?" Shade stammered, his voice noticeably cracking. "I-I'm in hurry and I have to go. Like, right now."

Pinkie's eyes opened wide like a switch had suddenly been flicked on in her head. "Oh, whoopsie. Sorry about that," she giggled as she finally removed herself from Shade's stomach and brushed some snow off her saddle. "Even if you have some cool way to stay warm, it's probably still pretty cold for you down..." Glancing back down, Pinkie found that the changeling she had been talking to had suddenly vanished. She lifted her hoof and looked underneath it with a raised eyebrow. "...there? Huh. Where'd he go?"

Shade slammed the front door behind him and collapsed against it, panting like he had just run a marathon. That was cutting it a little too close for his liking. He had never thought he would find himself attracted to Pinkie Pie of all ponies, let alone in such a compromising position. He let out a deep sigh. At least he was safe within the confines of his home sweet home now. He wouldn't have to worry about these ridiculous encounters anymore. The only thing he really had to be concerned about now was making sure he didn't do anything to make Winter uncomfortable about the whole situation.

Shade ran a hoof through his mane. He felt like he was on fire. That shower was looking pretty good right about now. Shade lazily sauntered up the stairs to the bedroom, gently shutting the door behind him and officially closing himself off from the rest of the world. He stepped into the bathroom and absentmindedly turned on the shower, not wasting a moment to climb in. Shade shivered as the freezing cold water drenched his skin, but at the same time he could feel his body relaxing and the heat dissipating; he could almost see the steam rising from his body.

He just sat there for a good half an hour, letting the water cleanse away the foul thoughts that refused to stop invading his mind. It was a futile effort in the end. He was going to have to put up with this for the next few days, he couldn't just sit here underneath a torrent of mind-cleansing, icy-cold water. The only other options were either to find some other way to suppress his feelings or... give into them. Frankly, he'd prefer the former.

Shade reached up and shut off the water, the last few drips echoing throughout the dead silence of the house. He stepped out and grabbed a towel. Though he had had the thought that remaining wet and cold would discourage him from anything rash, he had enough sense not to walk around dripping wet in the middle of winter. He could only imagine how horrible it would feel to deal with not only his hormones, but a cold on top of that.

He scrubbed his mane thoroughly with the towel until it was sufficiently dry, then did the same for the rest of his tortured body. Letting the towel sit on his shoulders, he stepped back into the bedroom. Shade walked over to the window and looked out. The changeling grimaced as he observed the goings-on outside. On its face it just looked like a typical winter's day, but to Shade, in his current hormone-addled state of mind, it was more like window shopping for potential mates. As much as he didn't want to, he couldn't help but size up every mare that crossed his vision. He wrenched himself away from the window, hastily drawing the curtains closed to prevent himself from being distracted by the beautiful figures dancing about outside.

It hadn't even been one day. It hadn't even been half a day. Shade never thought he would have ever been put in this situation. If he were back in the Changeling Kingdom this wouldn't be an issue. What did he and every other changeling do when mating season came around? They mated. That was that. It was just their nature and it wasn't a big deal. But now it was. He couldn't succumb to his primal urges because he knew that would destroy his relationship with the mare he loved. He was more than willing to endure this trial for her sake.

Shade heard the front door of the house close. Winter must have been home. Maybe he could try just talking with her. Perhaps if he could engage in idle conversation with her, he could distract himself. For a time anyway. Shade heard Winter's hoofsteps trotting up the stairs and toward the door. Actually, he was looking forward to spending some time with her just chatting. It could be pretty relaxing. The bedroom door opened and Shade's eyes widened in horror.

That wasn't Winter.

Standing in the doorway, her ebony cheeks flushed red and her pink eyes half-lidded and blank as if she were under some sort of trance, was Chamella. Shade tried to step backward, but bumped into the bed. How could he have forgotten about Chamella? He thought everything up until this point had been an oversight on his part, but the biggest oversight was forgetting that he wasn't the only changeling in Ponyville. And not only was he not the only changeling, but the other changeling just so happened to be female, was the only changeling for miles, and was born from the same cluster that he was, which meant that she was in heat too. That was not a favorable combination given his situation.

"C-Chamella?! W-What are you doing here?!" Shade stammered. Of course, he knew why. She was going through the same thing he was. He knew all too well that she must have been struggling with this at least as much as he. The only difference was she didn't have a significant other with whom her relationship would be utterly destroyed by her rash actions.

Chamella took a slow, hesitant step forward. Shade could see the pain in her eyes as she attempted to resist the temptation, but at the same time wanted to submit to it. "I can't stop thinking about you..." she said quietly and pleadingly. "I know this is wrong, but I can't help myself."

Every year Shade would make sure that he and Chamella were nowhere near one another when mating season came around. Even if sex in the Changeling Kingdom was purely viewed as a means of reproduction and was rarely recreational, he couldn't help but think that the two of them doing that would make such a rare friendship more than a little awkward. He wouldn't be able to to look her in the eyes.

But now he couldn't tear his sight away from them. The longer the two were together, the more difficult it became to ignore the rising heat in the room. With two hormonal changelings present, the bedroom was starting to feel like a sauna. So many thoughts came to Shade's mind, most of them possible ways to escape and get as far away from her as possible. The others he was trying desperately not to think about. But it seemed that no matter how much he wanted to get out right now, he couldn't find the willpower to move. He just stood there in shock as Chamella ran on autopilot and gradually inched closer to him.

She was just inches from him. He could feel her warm breath on his face as she panted softly. She whispered to him, her voice heavy with remorse. "I'm sorry..." Chamella let her eyelids drift shut and she closed the gap. Shade felt completely powerless as his state of mind prevented him from doing anything to stop her.

And their lips met. Chamella pressed herself weakly against Shade and all he could think about was that he was being given an opportunity to finally give in to his bestial desires. And he submitted. Shade let his mind shut itself off, his wide eyes slowly closing as he, too, leaned into the kiss. Chamella's lips were surprisingly soft and warm, but her efforts made her distinct lack of romantic experience painfully obvious. She wasn't nearly as good a kisser as Winter.

Winter.

Shade's eyes shot open, his mind suddenly clear and able to form cohesive thoughts in a sudden state of temporary sobriety. Summoning every ounce of willpower he could muster, Shade pressed a hoof against Chamella's chest and pushed her away, breaking the kiss. The enraptured female tried to fight back to continue the kiss and let out a disappointed whimper when she found herself held at length by Shade's leg. She stared longingly and pleadingly at Shade, but felt a sudden sense of intense shame and guilt when she witnessed him looking back at her, staring at her with a stern and determinate glare.

"Chamella, go home. Now."

The harshness of his tone only made her guilt and shame that much more evident to her. She was only now fully realizing what she had done. Without saying a word, Chamella spun around and ran out of the bedroom, leaving Shade alone once more.

Shade fell to his haunches and let out a deep, remorseful sigh. How could I let this happen? he thought to himself, now haunted by the thought of what he had just done. How was he supposed to explain this to Winter? How would she react when he told her? Should he tell her?

The front door of the house creaked open cautiously and Winter poked her head inside. She couldn't see Shade in the living room or the kitchen, so she called out to him. When she received no response, she let herself inside. Was he home? That was a worrying thought given everything she had learned about this scenario. If he wasn't home, then where was he and, more importantly, what was he doing?

Winter's attention was diverted by the sound of hurried hoofsteps running through the upstairs hallway and down the stairs. She was expecting Shade to appear from the stairway, but was surprised and confused to instead see Chamella making a mad dash for the door, her cheeks burning red. The female changeling halted in her tracks when she spotted Winter in the doorway. Chamella's eyes shrunk with fear and worry when she looked into the puzzled, amber eyes of her best friend's girlfriend.

Winter raised an eyebrow. "Chamella? Why are you here? Where's Shade?"

Chamella didn't answer, instead letting out a fearful whimper before bolting past Winter and out the door. Winter stared in confusion as Chamella made a beeline back to Carousel Boutique. What in the world was that about, and what was Chamella doing in her house in the first place?

Seeking an answer, Winter headed upstairs since that was where Chamella had come from. The pegasus peeked through the open bedroom door. Inside, she was relieved to see Shade, but a little concerned to see him sitting on the floor, staring up at the ceiling.

"Shade, are you okay?"

He stayed silent for a moment, not even bothering to look at Winter. He felt too ashamed to look her in the eye. "I did a bad thing, Winter. A bad, bad thing."

Now Winter was really worried. "What are you talking about? And why was Chamella here?"

There was another pause as Shade thought about the situation he was in right now. Of course he had to tell her. He couldn't live with himself if he didn't. But how was she going to react?

"She kissed me."

Winter's pupils shrunk. "W-What?"

Shade finally made eye contact with her. He witnessed the sudden fear in her eyes at this startling information. "Chamella kissed me. I wanted to stop her, but... I couldn't..." Shade hung his head in shame. He stood up and looked pleadingly at Winter. "I'm so sorry. I... She just... showed up and I-I felt like I couldn't think straight anymore. I didn't mean for it to happen, I swear."

Winter looked into his deep, green eyes. She was shocked. She knew that he was having difficulties controlling himself, but she never questioned that something like this would actually happen. She trusted that Shade would do everything in his power to prevent something like that from occurring. Winter tried to calm herself, keep herself from getting upset or worse, crying. She managed to keep a level head, speaking calmly and quietly to Shade. "Is she... in heat too?"

Shade nodded, but said nothing, just desperately hoping that he could do something that would allow her to forgive him.

Winter took a deep breath. "And she... kissed you? Just a kiss?"

He nodded again.

"Okay..." Winter's quiet tone was concerning. Was she suppressing her rage or fighting back tears? "I... I understand."

Shade's mouth dropped open. That was it? That was her reaction? "W-What do you mean you understand? You're not upset?"

Winter brushed her mane lightly with her hoof and she gave Shade a caring look. "Well... of course I'm a little upset, but I can understand how something like this could happen. She's your best friend; she's a changeling; she's also in heat. I can see how that could get difficult for you."

Shade couldn't believe what he was hearing. Was he dreaming? How could she possibly be so forgiving after he did something so despicable?

"Obviously I would rather it didn't happen, but... given the circumstances, it could have been a lot worse, right? It would probably have been a bigger deal if it had happened at some other time of the year."

Shade was flabbergasted. "You... are absolutely amazing. You're really going to forgive me for that?"

Winter finally managed a smile and gave him a loving hug. "I know you would never willingly let that happen. I love you and I trust you." She backed away, her expression more serious now. "But, being honest, there has always been a way to prevent this."

Shade's guilt came flooding back. "Winter, if there was a way to avoid it, I would have done it. What do you think I could have done?"

"Well, Twilight said that, during the mating season, a creature develops a strong desire to mate." Winter turned her back to Shade and closed the bedroom door, turning back to him with a seductive look. "So that's what we're going to do."

Shade blinked. "What?"

"One way to get rid of those urges is simply to satisfy them, right?" Winter crouched down like a tigress ready to pounce. "Consider this your birthday present."

The changeling held out a hoof to dissuade her, waving it in a panic. "Winter, this is bad idea! I don't think—Oof!" Before he could finished, the ivory mare had broke into a short gallop and tackled him onto the bed.

This was going to be long night.

Author's Note:

Quick note:

If you feel like the whole "Chamella kissing Shade" thing is just being glanced over or that Winter is being a little too forgiving, don't worry about it too much. What happened here is going to be addressed in the next chapter.

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