• Published 7th Dec 2012
  • 3,775 Views, 273 Comments

Different Strokes - Guy_Incognito



Gentle Strokes is a cynical drunk from Dodge Junction. Stormy is the proud black sheep of a wealthy Manehattan family. College is a place for 'experimenting'.

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The End Of The World


The End of the World.


Stormy woke up late one morning with a colt's hoof wrapped firmly around his chest and a stranger's white/gold face nuzzled deep in the gape of his neck. He wondered, silently to himself, about when he had let his life get so out of hoof?

He thought about just where he'd gone wrong as he casually snuck his way out of yet another stranger's bed; A drunken romp in the sack with a cute stallion was nothing new to him (Hells, it was almost unusual for him not to wake up like this), but somewhere down the road the thrill of a steamy one night stand had run its course. Now, these types of morning -- waking up hungover, stinking of sweat, booze, regret, and, more than that, feeling emotionally unsatisfied -- certainly weren't helping cement the idea that his life at Camden was taking him on a brighter, more positive track.

There was certainly something to say about a colt who found that waking up in bed next to a random stallion, morning after morning, had become less a thrill and more of a bad habit: Stormy just wasn't too sure what exactly it was.

Maybe he should have taken a psyche course this semester?

“Good morning.” he heard an almost inaudible moan come from the bed behind him.

Well, it had been...

“Mhmm,” Stormy offered back, staring not at the stranger's body behind him but the view of the main campus this stranger's dorm room offered. “Looks pretty cold out, though.”

The colt in bed behind him gave a very much effeminate giggle, followed by the kind of contended sigh that only a sexually satisfied colt cuddler could give.

Stormy took a seat sat on the edge of the bed and felt a comforter covered hoof run gently along the small of his back, stopping midway between his tail and flank where he felt a gentle squeeze, followed again by that same giggle.

“Are you busy today?” The voice behind him practically begged. “We could go grab breakfast?”

“Well, actually...”

Somehow this colt (Why not call him Mr. White/Gold? Seeing as how Stormy couldn’t remember his name to save his life) seemed naively unaware of what he'd gotten himself into when he first approached Stormy the night before. By asking him for a drink, Mr White/Gold had signed himself into a contract which, perhaps not as clearly as he'd intended it to, stated that come morning they would part ways, and maybe if the sex was good enough they could continue to see each other come some other lonely, horny and drunken nights in the future.

But that was it.

It was with Stormy's, admittedly, twisted sense of logic that he knew he couldn't say 'yes' to this proposition. (Again, not that he would have wanted too, anyway.) Anything involving another colt like the one in bed beside him outside of the bedroom was how attachment started. And it went without saying that, that couldn't happen.

“There's a lecture on poetry by this author I really like; Dr. Gonzo," It was hardly a lie worth telling and, you didn't have to look hard to see the sad excuse for a lack of commitment through the crater sized holes in the story.

Still, the body underneath the covers in bed shuffled to a sitting position. He took his hoof off of Stormy's flank, and pulled the covers towards his body. Hiding his naked form.

“Oh,” Mr. White/Gold forced out after a prolonged awkward silence. “I... understand.”

Clearly he didn't.

If Mr. White/Gold was in anyway hurt by Stormy's uninviting attitude at least he didn't show it. (And, yes, that was sarcastic. Thank you very much.)

“Well, are you going to be at The End Of The World party tonight?" asked a very intrigued Mr. White/Gold "Maybe I'll just see you there?”

Oh, shit. That was tonight wasn't it?

“Yeah." Stormy drawled, chewing his lower lip. "I think I'll make it out for that.”

He got up off the bed and took a good sober look at the colt he'd just spent the night with; Honestly, he wasn't bad looking: He was a head shorter than Stormy and thin in a way that told Stormy he was either an artist, or more likely, a hopeful model. Maybe that's why he'd let Stormy use him last night? Maybe, Mr. White/Gold somehow thought, that Stormy's major was in something stupid and idiotic that involved making clay sculptures of overeager pillow biters, and not something more dignified like writing haiku’s or comparing bad poetry.

Again, totally sarcastic.

Mr White/Gold's body seemed to help sway his argument. He had definition, not exactly tone but a body worth its place in the slideshow. He hadn't spent hours sweating in a gym to get those fillylike hips, nor that flat and tight upper chest. Most likely, they came from a diet that probably consisted of some of those caramel cream latte bull shit things they sold at Star-Bucks, decaffeinated, artificially sweetened diet cola, top shelf brand vodka with a dash of lime, green bean and vinaigrette salad and, maybe on occasion, a totally organic, low carb bran muffin to help smooth the cleansing process.

The important part, to Stormy, was that of the two of them; Mr. White/Gold was certainly the more feminine. He wore his mane long and straightened with one side cut to fall over the eye. It amazed Stormy that even after a night of being restlessly screwed, his mane hadn't lost that pampered touch. He would bet any amount of bits that inside Mr. White/Gold's bathroom there was more money's worth in shampoos, conditioners, gels, dyes, and hygiene products than what he'd ever have to spend on a semester at Camden.

Typical first year colt cuddlers.

Stormy was dragged out of his awkwardly obsessive mental deconstruction of Mr. White/Gold by his voice squeeling “That is so great!”.

Mr. White/Gold tossed the covers away from his chest and shot up in bed. He moved to Stormy and wrapped his hooves tightly around Stormy's back, gently tackling him down onto the bed with him and nuzzling his face into his mane, gently pressing his lips against his throat in a series of kisses that slowly turned into gentle nibbles, then hungry little bites. Mr. White/Gold's morning breath smelt like a few glasses too many of white wine, shots of grapefruit vodka, and the filthier parts of Stormy himself; It was somewhat bothersome how much more erotic that was to him than he'd want to admit.

While enjoyable, the embrace itself made Stormy somewhat uncomfortable to the idea that maybe this pony didn't understand the rules of a one night stand.

“So, uh, I'd better get going. The lecture's in about a half hour.” Stormy said, breaking off the embrace by pushing the still biting his neck Mr. White/Gold away from his body. Mr. White/Gold's made a pouty little face, his lower lip biting his upper one and a sensual, inviting look in his eyes. Tempted as he was to have another go at Mr. White/Gold, he knew that would only lead to trouble.

Stormy gave a soft smile, a wink then got up off the bed and moved towards the door. Along the way he picked up his tie, shirt, vest and dinner jacket from the floor, which lay beside Mr. White/Gold's sweat stained schoolcolt shirt that he'd worn the night before.

“Oh, ok.” Mr. White/Gold giggled. “I'll see you at the party, though. Right?”

Not if he could help it.

“Yup.” Stormy lied.

***

Stormy never made it to the lecture by Dr. Gonzo, not out of his general apathy towards his lazy lifestyle, but mainly because it never existed in the first place. In actuality, the first thing he did the second he walked outside the door of his sexual conquest's room was grab a cup of coffee from his favourite coffee shop on campus -- Monk's. Because Star-Bucks was a load of overpriced horse apples -- in preparation for his return to his own dorm.

While Camden certainly offered a level of perpetual craziness on campus at all hours of the day. There was a specific type of craziness he needed to properly prepare for. That craziness had a name: Jagged Horn. Who happened to be his roommate.

Entering his dorm room was like playing a game of chance. At any given time, on any given day, there was a fifty percent chance he could be walking into a morbid display of Camden's seedy underworld; Come home on a Monday after an eleven A.M. class and you could find three, sweat soaked mares passed out on the floor. Empty cans of whipped cream. An orchards worth of exotic fruit, and ping pong paddles coated in every kind of bodily fluid. Come home on a Friday after a four P.M. Class and you could find half the Hoofball team, a hooker -- Escort was a generous term for a mare who boasted having the 'loosest throat in all of Equestria.' -- and a pile of stained linen sheets which would need to be burned to be properly disposed of.

Coming home that day, however, was a surprisingly calm affair.

Jagged Horn. With his apple red coat, jet black mane, natural good looks and namesake serrated horn planted in the midst of his forehead, lay upside down on two's shared pleather couch. He was staring with slacked eyelids at a pair of white tailed squirrels running along the branches of the barren oak tree outside their window.

“Ahoy hoy.” He practically drooled out, sluggishly, hearing Stormy enter. “Sup?”

“Hey.” Stormy offered back. “Are you, uh... you, feeling alright?”

Jag (Which he preferred over Jagged Horn) still had himself transfixed by the scenery outside their window. A twisted and somewhat laboured smile began to form on his lips.

“Some... mare I hooked up with last night, her roommate...she has, like, crazy panic attacks. High anxiety I think. She can't handle... the pressure, I guess. So, this shrink she's seeing on Campus.....hooked her up with......these awesome anti-depressants. I took the bottle from her...bathroom when I was saying...bye to her roommate.”

And that was Jagged Horn summed up in one broken sentence. He was scum. A low life. He had a penchant for chemical self depreciation and a growing dependency on under the counter drugs -- The kind that you needed a doctor’s name poorly scribbled on an Rx Paper to get ahold of -- to cure his non existent symptoms. Pain killers were his favourites -- Valium, Diazapam or any other of mother's little helpers -- but he'd just as easily settle for a hoof full of anti-depressants. When a pill bottle read ‘Do not exceed ‘X’ in one day’, Jag would pop twice that number and wash them down with a swig of straight bourbon. To Jag, warning labels were more like suggested serving sizes.

His inability to form a properly flowing sentence without long pauses between words almost worried Stormy, but then again, after living with Jag for the better part of three (almost four) semesters and seeing the abuse his mind, body and soul could take, Stormy reconsidered his worry.

“I've been... pretty wrecked all day. I missed a few classes... maybe a test, too.” Jag said with a chuckle. “But dude... I feel great.”

“Can you believe some people actually come here to learn?”

“Yeah, well, eggheads don't go home with perfect tens, dude.”

He did have point.

Jag exhaled a deep breath slowly. His body slacked as he sank deeper into the futon, and the most satisfied smile Stormy had ever seen in his life formed across his lips.

“You want... some?” He offered. He tried to reach for the nearly half empty pill bottle that sat on the table in front of him, but his hoof went entirely limp and fell onto the couch. “I wouldn't take more than one... they kinda sneak up on you.”

“I'm good.”

“Your loss.” Jag hummed.

He managed to turn his head towards the marble counter where a combined mess of the two's paperwork, textbooks, folders, assignment sheets and, more recently, envelopes and letters were stacked.

“I picked up the mail.”

Stormy, never taking his eyes off of Jag's totally and completely wrecked form glided towards the two distinctly separate stacks of letters atop the counter. With his mouth he grabbed his share of the mail and took a spot on the couch beside Jag, before beginning to sort through the mass of letters and envelopes.

The first letter in the pile was easily distinguishable from the rest. It was sealed with red wax in the shape of The Family Crest, and addressed not to a 'Mr. Stormy' or 'Student Number: 93S-234' but simply; 'Son.'

Letters from his father were nothing new and certainly nothing to look forward to either; at least, the ones which didn't contain cheques in them. This one felt like it didn't, so he tossed it atop a stack of countless other unopened letters from his father. Sentimentality was the only thing keeping him from throwing them out. At least, that's what he kept telling himself.

The second letter was an envelope, which contained yet another issue of PlayMare Magazine. The product of a well thought out -- and by this point almost twice annual -- gay joke by Jag.

Jag moaned out a chuckle absentmindedly, as he spotted the offending envelope. Stormy chuckled too and tossed it onto his bed. For later.

The next few letters were pretty standard: The prince of the zebra nation had allegedly been usurped from his throne by his subjects and, with a few goodwill bits from Stormy's account he could reclaim his throne and, more importantly, reimburse Stormy more than one-thousand percent his initial investment. Now, Stormy would have been an idiot not to accept that offer, but, then again who really wanted to be rich, anyway? He certainly hadn’t applied to an arts school to become a millionare.

Besides; there was royalty in Equestria who needed his bits much more than some foreign prince ever would. At least, that was what the next letter made clear: Student taxes were a donkey's flank. Despite the political science major he certainly wasn't, it seemed strange that a thriving monarchy needed money from starving artists to survive.

The final letter in the pile was the only one that struck him as odd. It was addressed to him, but with the added handle of 'Mr.' in front of his name, and the return address read from the school, specifically The Faculty of Arts.

Uh oh.

Curious, he opened the letter to find a quill and ink note from his creative writing professor stating simply to meet him in his office. The letter also gave his office hours as noon to two-thirty P.M.

The very last thing that Stormy wanted to do in all of Equstria on a Friday at Camden was go see one of his professors, but he also hadn't been to his creative writing class in nearly three weeks. He had lackeys who kept notes for him, and there was no mandatory attendance aside from exams, so why even bother? Then again, if he didn't show up today, he might receive more letters from his professor in the future. And, it went without saying that, that was a hassle he didn't want to be privy too.

Stormy checked the clock: It was almost One-Thirty now. If he hustled he could make it to his professors' office by Two. If he didn't, and took his time, he could still probably make it there in time.

He opted for the latter.

***

Stormy arrived at his professor's office at two thirty five. Five minutes late, sure, but the detour to the best coffee shop on campus was more than worth it. No-Name brand coffee -- or worse than that fair trade coffee -- certainly weren't going to cut it. Not today. No, today he needed a strong beverage to see him through this trial. Unfortunately, the bars on campus didn’t start serving until four, so today black coffee with an unhealthy dose of aspartame was going to have to sub in.

He entered the office without knocking and found his professor, quite literally, muzzle deep in a cartoonishly over sized book. Hearing Stormy’s hoofsteps into his office broke his concentration from the book and brought it onto him.

His professor was a kind enough pony. Timid at times, but always gentle and soft spoken. He was roughly his father's age, maybe a few years younger, with a solid white mane and a prematurely greying coat, with hints of it's youthful black shining through. He wore a pair of horn rimmed spectacles and a pastel three toned suit that looked like something a used cart dealer would wear. This was accented by an ever present red bow tie.

“Oh, Stormy. I'm glad to see you received my letter.” His tone was inviting, as was his body language.

Smiling at the younger colt, he silently invited Stormy to take a seat in one of the two leather arm chairs that sat before his desk. Stormy returned the smile, politely, and took the seat furthest away from his professor.

The older colt stood up, taking a second to readjust his tie and run a calm hoof through his mane. He made his way over to an oak coffee table which held picture frames of himself and famous Mares and Colts of the literary world. One of them, Stormy noticed for personal reference, happened to be Doctor Gonzo/Bongo/Whooves.

“Now, I'm sure you already know this but, your father and I were classmates when he attended Coltlumbia.” He began as he made his way back towards his desk. He took his seat, then gently laid his face onto his hooves, which were neatly perched on the desk, and stared intently at Stormy.

“He's... mentioned it before, yeah.”

“Your father was... *ahem*, is a brilliant colt, you know?" He paused, taking a moment to gauge Stormy's reaction, perhaps? Then continued "He's worked hard for what he has, and where he's ended up is a result of that hard work.”

“Yup.”

“You also have an older brother, if I’m not mistaken?”

It didn't take a total and complete moron to figure out where this conversation was going.

“Yeah. Blue Skies.”

“Is he also attending Camden?”

“Actually, he graduated from Coltlumbia. Two years ago.” Stromy's teeth bit down on his tongue so hard at the mention of his brother, (And more importantly, his success) that he found it surprising he didn't draw blood. “He's working for a firm in Manehattan; P. & P., I think? He's into 'Mergers and Acquisitions', or something like that.”

“Oh, my. Your father must be proud of him?”

The gleam in the older colt's eyes grew. As did Stormy's discomfort with the situation.

“Yeah...”

"Stormy, I'd be lying if I said you didn't come from a very successful family and, I'm sure your father has many expectations of you...”

Here's the kicker.

“Your grades are slipping, Stormy. I can't imagine it's only in my class and I'm sure your father has something to say about it.”

Professor Whatshisface leaned closer to Stormy, smiling as he did.

“You have great potential. I've seen your better work, and it's very impressive. You could be head of the class, if you just applied yourself.”

His father's words sounded strange coming out of his professor's mouth.

While Stormy had heard this song and dance a million times before, it felt different, now. It was somehow more heartfelt and encouraging, coming from his professor, than upsetting and forceful coming from his father.

“Are you doing alright, son?" His professor asked, cocking an eyebrow. "If there's something troubling you? Or something happening on campus that you need to talk to somepony about? My door is always open for you."

He leaned in closer to Stormy. His hooves moved forward on the desk until they were gingerly touching tips with Stormy's.

A wave of discomfort and familiarity washed over Stormy. He'd been here before, only here was wearing a much different face this time. He'd felt this same gentle kindness from countless strangers on campus, and, many more back home.

It usually ended up with somepony offering to buy him a drink.

Was he being... hit on?

“I've heard a few student's talk about you, Mr. Stormy. Mostly rumours, I'm sure...” His tone was suddenly filled with implications which Stormy didn't want to bother trying to figure out. "Perhaps, we could discuss your troubles over dinner?"

Now, that made things a lot less subtle.

Stormy swallowed back his discomfort and stared blankly into the eyes of the colt across from him. His professor had the same inviting look, only now it had an underlying, and disturbing, hint of foal-like flirtation.

Professor Whatshisface was totally getting off on this. The sick, twisted bastard.

Stormy furrowed his brows into a glare and grinned.

Play the offensive.

“What rumors would those be, sir?” he asked, feigning innocence to the situation at hoof.

“Well, erm...”

His Professor looked uncomfortable.

Good.

"Did you hear the rumor about that college professor in Cloudsdale who got disbarred from teaching because The Dean found out he was banging one of his first year students for a passing grade?" Stormy began with a grin. "It's a shame when ponies with an ounce of power abuse it. Don't you think?"

His professor bit his lower lip and Stormy could have sworn he saw him break skin as he did.

“So, listen; If there's nothing else...?”

“Oh... oh yes. Of course! I'm sure you have... classes to attend.”

An unspoken and mutual understanding seemed to be reached. Neither was comfortable, sure, but, Stormy could expect at the very least, a passing grade with the added bonus of never again having to attend his creative writing class again.

Some gifts did come wrapped up in neat little bows.

“And a good day to you, sir.” Stormy offered with a grin.

Flushed and discomforted, his professor seemed too stumped and psychologically confounded to offer a response as he watched Stormy trot out of the room.

***

Back in his room, away from the crazy found on Campus, Stormy lay on his bed. Across from him, Jag was silently rolling in the sweat stained mess of bed sheets, blankets and pillows that had once been his bed. He was, hopefully, either coming off of the non prescription medication or, reaching a new height of the drug. Either way, he'd been silent for the past several hours since Stormy had returned.

“Hey, Jag?”

“Y' buddy?” Jag asked, breaking his longest running silent streak all semester.

“You think you're gonna sober up for the party tonight?”

“Dude, I don’t even know.” Jag paused and took an exasperated breath.“I’ll be there, though.”

“Rock 'N' Roll.”

“Hey, Stormy?”

“Yeah?”

“You wanna be my wingcolt, t'night?”

Jag had stopped molesting his bed sheets now, and seemed to be having an otherwise unobtainable level of pleasure running his front hooves along his lower hooves, smiling madly as he did.

“Sure, bud.” Stormy offered back. He took a pause to light a cigarette with a lighter he'd stolen from the convenience store on campus and inhaled deeply.

“Sweet.”

Jag had a reputation on campus as a stud. This was well earned and deserved. Stormy could recall too many times that he'd come home from a party to a sock worn firmly around the door handle; discrete code from one roommate to the other that a mare (or multiple) was/were having a sleeping over and entry, of any sort, was not permitted. Much of Jag's success with mares came from using Stormy's sexually non-threatening gayness to strike up conversation with a mare, figure out her likes and dislikes, then Jag would take it from there.

“Dude, I wanna tap that cute barista who works at that coffee shop you like. She's got that, innocent, pure 'I've never seen one up close' kind of personality, you know? I'll bet she gets really freaky in bed.”

Stormy felt conflicted: He knew her, not by name or anything, but, she'd served him plain black coffees with a neutral smile almost every day for the past three months. From what he could tell, she was a sweet, kind and gentle mare. Certainly not anywhere close to the very particular breed of mares Jag surrounded himself with.

Naturally, Jag would want to screw her. It was practically his nature to seduce, corrupt and then destroy pretty and innocent mares like her. He'd gotten to a point in his career where it was almost an art; He could pick a mare from across campus, use his natural charm to find out enough about her from her friends, roommate or, even students in her classes, and from there, form a comfortable connection with her. After that, it was all just a game of finding buttons on her to push, when to push them, how hard or how soft, then, naturally, pushing those buttons too far and never, ever, giving it a second thought.

Jagged Horn was a total monster like that.

Stormy would have felt a lot worse, if it wasn't the exact same thing he did himself. Only with guys. Then again, at least he tried to be interested in them.

“She's pretty cute, I guess.” Stormy offered back.

“Hmm, yeah.” Jag agreed in a sluggish drawl. “She's got a great ass. Pretty eyes too.”

He turned to Stormy, his eyes glazed and wide, and smirked.

“What about you, Stormy? Do you have a butt buddy for tonight?”

Images of a silly farm pony sitting alone in a bar called 'Saltee's', who he'd introduced himself to one Friday a few weeks before ran through his head. Who couldn't be attracted to Gentle Strokes? He had an air about him that seemed so uncharacteristic of Camden. It was refreshing, really. That alluringly simple drawl that rolled off his tongue when he spoke. His quiet, even minded temperament hidden behind the intensely self-pitying shield he wore. His cutely naive lack of concern about Stormy's 'condition'.

His proud and secure heterosexuality.

He wondered if he would even show up tonight? It seemed unlikely, seeing as how when they'd met he'd been doing his best to avoid parties like The End Of The World. But, stranger things had happened. Hells, stranger things had happened in that very room.

“No, not really.”

“That's too bad, dude.” Jag grumbled. His face fell for a second, then lifted with a smile. “I'm sure I can still find you something to park your pecker in tonight, though.”

“Yeah. Thanks.”

“Dude, you've got a body count almost as high as mine. And, you've got, like... scientifically speaking, one tenth of the population I have to work with to boot.”

Jag sure did have a wonderful way of making a pony feel better.

“Shouldn't I win some kind of award for that?” Stormy groaned.

Jag grinned and chuckled lightly.

“I don't know,” He coughed, “But, that's an award show I'd love to see.”

***

The End of the World party was, for all intents and purposes, just another opportunity for Camden students to get together, drink, frolic and go home with total strangers. The End of the World aspect of the party had no real purpose. It was just a title. Just like how Freaks and Geeks had been a title and just like how Winter is Coming had been a title.

Just like how every other on-campus mixer had a title that meant absolutely nothing.

Tonight, Stormy found himself in the furthest corner of the over crowded frat house, gently gripping a red plastic cup filled with a mix of Gentlecolt Jack -- They never had proper name brand liquor at these types of parties -- and cola, mingling with two pretty mares that Jag had dumped on him while he tried to find a pony who was holding.

If Jag had any one particular personality flaw... well, who was he kidding? Jag had many personality flaws: an over inflated ego. A self imposed desire to spread V.D. to every girl in Equstria. A diet that consisted of sugary cereals for breakfast, sugar with coffee and cream for lunch, and prescription pills mixed with booze, for dinner. His most towering flaw -- in this particular moment however -- was having parents who had never taught him to 'just-say-no'.

“It's just, like... I love my family. I really do. But, they're so backwards, you know?”

Stormy caught the tail end of the conversation between the silver coated mare, with the auburn mane, and her friend; An indigo hued mare with the moss coloured mane.

“Ugh, tell me about it; My mom still thinks that all zebras speak in rhymes. She's so totally hick!

“Hey, what was your name again?” Ms. Silver Coat asked, pressing a hoof forcefully into Stormy's chest.

“Stormy.”

“Do you know what I mean... Rocky?

“It's not Rocky, Crimson. He said his name was Cloudy.”

To be fair between the loud music and the half heard voices that surrounded the three, it was almost impossible to focus on the conversation, but it didn't seem impossible to imagine these two mares were too preoccupied with their own selves to bother listening to him.

There was hardly a reason in the world that he could come up with for staying company to these shining examples of art students but, decency being what it was, he needed an exit strategy: He managed to down his half empty drink and politely excused himself from the deeply intellectual discussion and moved towards the fully stacked bar.

He pushed his way through the crowd and kept his eyes to the floor until he reached the bar. Grabbing a fresh red plastic cup from the stack on the table with his left hoof, and the bottle of Gentlecolt Jack's with his right.

Where the Hells was Jag? And, who the Hells was he to leave him here with these mares?

“Hey!” He heard an uncomfortably familiar voice ring through the crowd. At first he wasn't sure if it was directed at him, but the unwelcome caress of a hoof through his mane and along his back more than reassured him.

Mr. White/Gold was back.

“Oh, hey.” Stormy greeted, smiling.

He turned away from Mr. White/Gold and poured himself an incredibly stiff drink from the bottle of Gentlecolt Jack's. Neglecting to add the cola: He didn't need mix for this one.

“How are you doing?” Mr. White/Gold asked as he pressed up against Stormy's body. “I was worried you weren't going to make it tonight.”

Stormy tossed his drink back then poured himself another.

“Doin' fine.” He returned with a drunken grin.

“This party is so... drab.” Mr. White/Gold groaned. “Wanna get a breath of fresh air?”

“Um...”

He was running out of polite excuses to offer Mr. White/Gold, and, save for brutally assaulting this pony and sending him to the infirmary in a full body cast, he wasn't entirely convinced that he understood the simple fact at hand: Stormy just didn't want to talk to him. Mr. White/Gold was clingy, a little obsessive and, maybe even in love with him and Stormy didn't need that.

Not tonight. Not ever.

“You look really hot, tonight.” Mr. White/Gold grinned. "Are you sure you don't want to get some air?”

Stormy felt Mr. White/Gold's hoof, which had been intrusively running along his back, slowly move lower down his body. Moving ever closer towards his.....

“Stormy?”

He expected. Well, he wasn't sure who he expected.

He turned around and met eye to chest with a delightfully mud coloured Earth pony. Staring up, past the few strands of majestic gold that broke the mold and stuck to his face, and into the warm, inviting magenta eyes of Gentle Strokes.

Fate had a nice way of showing Stormy that it loved to see him happy.

“Hey, Strokes.” Stormy spoke gently. He turned his attention away from Mr. White/Gold for the time being, and focused on the colt who really mattered at the moment. “I didn't think I'd see you here, tonight?”

“Yeah,” Gentle Strokes groaned. “My financial aid check came kinda late and the bank’s holding off putting bits into my account ‘till Wednesday. I figured, I could put up with some bad electro music and a room full of robotic ponies as long as I could get a few stiff drinks out of it.”

He grinned at Stormy and fixed himself a Gentlecolt Jack and ice. Stormy grinned back and took a sip of his own drink.

Why did he feel like he was forgetting something?

Stormy felt a tug at his shoulder blade and turned around to face Mr. White Gold.

Oh, right...

“This is my friend...” Normally he would have felt bad about not knowing a stranger's name during a forced introduction, but, Mr. White/Gold was certainly no stranger at this point, and the introduction was being extremely forced on Gentle Strokes.

It was his fault, really.

Mr. White/Gold looked hurt that Stormy couldn't remember his name and mumbled something that sounded like “White Mane” under his breath.

The look in Gentle Stroke's eyes said two things. (1) That he seemed to understand, or at least, attempted to understand the situation between Mr. White/Gold and Stormy, and (2) That he was incredibly uncomfortable being the unwilling third wheel on the cart.

“Well, uh, it was nice t' see you, Stormy.” He coughed as he attempted to leave. He turned back to look at Stormy, and paused. There must have been something in the look (Stormy had long ago mastered the art of ‘pleading puppy dog eyes’.) because he groaned and moved back towards Stormy.

“Say, uh, while I gotcha here, Stormy.” He faked, taking a sip of his drink. “Y'think I could steal you for a minute? I wanna pick your brain about the latest chapter in cultural studies.”

Gentle Strokes had such a straight poker face, that if he hadn't said the last two words with an air of pretentiousness, Stormy would have genuinely believed that he actually did want to review notes. At a party.

“You don't mind, do you?” Stormy turned and asked Mr. White/Gold. His face wore a look of total and complete resentment, but he begrudgingly nodded acceptance.

“Just come find me after, okay?” Mr. White/Gold sing-songed, gently brushing his left hoof along Stormy's lower hip and giving his flank a quick pinch. He winked at Stormy as left, trotting off towards the back of the party.

Gentle Strokes lips turned upwards in a true shit-eating-grin.

***

“So.. I take it, that's your other coltfriend?” Gentle Strokes questioned.

They were standing now on the second floor balcony overlooking the courtyard. They were practically alone now; a Unicorn, passed out and leaning against the railing, with a lampshade worn over his horn and phallic symbols shaved into his coat was their only other company at the moment, but he didn't seem in a talking or listening kind of mood.

“Huh?” Stormy asked. He took a second to light a cigarette, and inhaled deeply.

“The other night?" Gentle Strokes questioned. "You, uh, joked about having 'another coltfriend.'.”

“Oh, yeah...”

Stormy exhaled a cloud of smoke through his nostrils. This was followed by an awkward silence.

These kind of breaks in a conversation with a colt were new to Stormy; With any colt, or, at least a colt who was most certainly not straight, it was easy to keep a conversation going: Talk about him, not yourself. Inflate his ego, not your own. Make him feel like he's taking you home, not vice-versa.

Talking to straight ponies he was somewhat interested in was proving difficult.

Gentle Strokes's body stirred and he ran a hoof along the railing on the balcony.

“I'm sorry about the way I acted,” He mumbled “The other night.”

“How’s that?” asked Stormy, taking a quiet contemplative drag of his cigarette. Truthfully, aside from his obvious discomfort at being care taken by a very much gay and drunk colt, nothing about his actions struck him as obviously rude or apology worthy. “You didn't seem rude to me. Really.”

“Nah, I felt pretty sore about it. I mean, I can't imagine I gave you a proper first impression: You walk in and see this sorry lookin’ colt, sitting all alone, drowning in self pity in some rat hole bar.” He paused and nervously dragged his hoof along the back of his neck. “And, I come out swinging tryin’ to defend myself. I’m sorry.”

The soulful expression on his face as he told the story: His eyes staring away from Stormy and his mouth perpetually biting his lower lip in discomfort, made Stormy somewhat uneasy.

“Dude, don't worry about it.” Stormy grinned. He was unsure if it was wise, or not, but regardless he placed a hoof on Gentle Stroke's shoulder. “Do I look like I'm flank-hurt about it?”

Flank-hurt?” He asked and cocked an eyebrow. Stormy just chuckled.

Silly farm ponies were pretty adorable when they were confused.

“Forget about it.” Stormy gave after a short chuckle. “Let's go grab a few drinks and, I'll charm the dress off of some chick inside for you.”

Gentle Strokes returned the chuckle and led the way back inside.

***

“Waddya think of that one, there?”

Gentle Strokes pointed a hoof towards the two mares; Crimson and Whateverhernamewas with the auburn mane, that Stormy had been stuck with minutes before.

Well, more specifically: Crimson.

Coincidence was both unusual and cruel that night.

“Her?” Stormy asked. “Uh... now, don't take this the wrong way, but I think her parents might have been related. Like, before they got married?”

Gentle Strokes gave a hearty laugh.

“Well, at least we've got something in common, then.”

Stormy stared mortified at Gentle Strokes, who's laugh only got louder.

“I'm yankin' yer tail, Stormy.” He said, patting a hoof on Stormy's back, “Dodge Junction isn’t that backwards.”

Gentle Strokes took the lead, moving through the crowd and towards the two mares standing alone in the kitchen, Stormy followed soon after.

“Evenin' ladies.” Gentle Strokes greeted, flashing a genuine and heart melting farm pony smile. “Enjoyin' the party?”

“Well, hello.” Crimson purred.

Whorse!

“Hey, it's Cloudy!” her partner, Ms. Auburn Mane, slurred. “Hey, Crimson. Cloudy's back!”

She moved towards Stormy and draped a hoof over his shoulder, pulling her face so close towards his that he could literally taste the Strawberry Skynoff on her breath. She went in for a peck on the cheek, but she stumbled slightly and her lips ended up smacking into his closed eyelid.

This one was a real charmer.

Almost instinctively, like she were following her partner's lead, Crimson followed suite. She wrapped a hoof over Gentle Stroke's shoulder and pulled his head down to hers. Thankfully, she didn't bother with a lip-locked embrace and instead settled for an affectionate nuzzle of their heads.

Stormy rolled his eyes. She couldn’t have been any less subtle if she had a mattress taped to her back and a sign that read ‘I lift my tail for cute accents’.

“I think your accent is really cute.” He heard Crimson purr into Gentle Stroke's ear, followed by her lightly nibbling the tip.

Called it!

Gentle Strokes face light up. His eyes widened in surprise, then dropped to a casual and almost stoned squint. He smiled wide and gave a satisfied hum.

Well, at least Stormy had managed to get one of them laid tonight.

“Are you two gonna stand around and flirt all night? Or, are we going to... *hic*... take some shots, already?” Crimson's partner barked.

She removed her hoof from around Stormy's shoulder and moved towards the kitchen counter where a half empty bottle of Strawberry Skynoff sat beside a short stack of shot glasses.

“Whaddya say?” Gentle Strokes asked his partner. His eyebrows gave a charismatic wiggle. Stormy's eyes continued to roll. Crimson giggled like a total slut.

“Well, if you insist, Mr. Cowpony.” Crimson grinned, followed by her -- honest to Celestia! -- batting her eyelashes innocently at him.

She led the way, her tail playfully brushing the side of Gentle Stroke's increasingly red hued cheeks.

Stormy groaned to himself and followed the two soon to be buck buddies.

Crimson's friend poured the shots, sloppily. Unless the counter top was a participant, in which case, he/she/it was already miles ahead of the foursome. When she was done, she slid them to each participant. Gentle Strokes accepted with a gracious smile, as did Crimson. Stormy, begrudgingly, smiled too.

Salute.” Gentle Strokes said, raising his glance. He glanced over at Stormy and offered a knowing wink.

Flashback to a night a few weeks ago and turn the tables. It was kind of cute, actually.

“Gesundheit” Stormy offered back.

Crimson, and... 'Clover?' (for some reason that sounded right) shared a curious look between them, shrugged off any presumptions they might have had and raised their glasses.

“Bottoms up, darlings.” ‘Clover’ slurred.

All four tossed their drinks back...

...when the most wonderfully unexpected thing happened.

It started as a small cough from 'Clover', followed by an 'adorable' little 'burp' and then, a waterfall of a greenish brown liquid erupted from her throat, out of her mouth and sprayed the floor at their hooves.

With morbid curiosity Gentle Strokes, Stormy and Crimson all watched as 'Clover' became a projectile vomiting punch-line.

'Clover' fell to her knee's, her front hooves cupping her face and began to weep. Instantly, Crimson was at her side, her face pressed closely to 'Clover's' and her hooves wrapped tightly around her body in a hug. She began whispering 'It's ok, baby. It's ok.', doing her best to dodge the green/brown liquid seeping through 'Clovers' hooves.

To Stormy, personal success never looked so undignified; he'd cock-blocked Gentle Strokes and, gotten a good laugh out of it.

Stormy's gaze met Gentle Strokes’. Both colts were straight faced, until Gentle Stroke's resolve broke and a smile built up on his face. Stormy was right beside him on that one. And, truly, he would have felt horrible about laughing.........if Gentle Stroke's hadn't started it.

As both ponies broke into an absolutely inappropriate fit of laughter, Crimson glared daggers at the two of them. Gentle Strokes gave her an empathetic grin, then gently grabbing the remainder of the bottle of Skynoff, he bolted back into the crowd dragging Stormy closely behind him.

***

Back of the party, across the floor from the bathrooms, the dance floor and furthest from the crowd (and also the wrath of Crimson and ‘Clover’) Gentle Strokes and Stormy sat against a wall. In-between swigs from the bottle, they were absentmindedly discussing Stormy’s Creative Writing class, or, more honestly, Stormy’s Creative Writing professor.

“But, he’s got a wife and kids. Doesn’t he?” Gentle Strokes asked, passing the bottle to Stormy.

“Shit, I didn't know that.” Stormy replied. He paused for a second to shoot back a more than generous amount of Stalliongrad's greatest (And only notable) export and wiped a hoof across his mouth. “But, he definitely tried to pick me up today.”

“And, you’re sure that’s not just your completely un-inflated ego talking?”

“Hey...”

Stormy took a second to think of a real witty comeback.

“... shut up.”

The bathroom door across the way from them opened suddenly and out walked Jagged Horn, followed by some mare who was, specifically not The Barista. She wiped a hoof across her mouth, spit on the floor and popped a few breath mints.

How charming.

Jag had a delighted smirk on his face, one which told a far greater story than his words ever could. He spotted Stormy, and Gentle Strokes, and gave a friendly head nod before beginning to walk over to them.

“Dude, the salt here sucks!” he shouted over the music when he reached them. He rubbed a hoof against his nose and gave a loud ‘sniff’. “I think I just spent eighty bits on a gram of Sweet N’ Low!”

***

Salt, in it's purest form, holds many properties similar to alcohol. In many dry counties where alcohol can't be found outside of bathtub produced poisons, a brick of salt will be readily available to fill that void. It gives the licker (That's how one ingests bricked salt.) the euphoric feeling of alcohol, for a short time, without any of the less than fabulous short and long term side effects. Liver damage. Motor Control. Beer Goggles. Hangovers. That sort of thing.

That being said, in the last several decades recent scientific breakthroughs in regards to salt have been found. More specifically, the realization that Salt, when cooked with a few of your friendly industrial strength household cleaners, strained, refined to a powder and then cooked once more with an entirely separate set of chemicals, is found to have an entirely different, and much more powerful punch. A jolt is given to the central nervous system giving the user the euphoric feeling of hyper alertness. A chemically induced burst of libido and self esteem are also common.

The same chemicals used to turn run of the mill 'Table Salt' into the powerfully addictive 'Sniffing Salts' are also used to make Napalm, Thermite and everyone's favourite Mustard Gas. These lovely chemicals come from fun little things like battery acid, quick dry cement mix, phosphorus (found in signal flares) and over-the-counter cough medicines.

In many dry counties, and, in that same vein, every single city, town, hamlet, valley, suburb, inner city and everywhere else in Equestria where populations are present, Sniffing Salt is very much illegal. There's a heavy fine associated with ownership of it, and a heavier jail sentence associated with selling of it.

On, Camden, however, neither of those things happened to matter.

The More You Know

***

“I’ll bet the salt’s not the only thing that sucks, here!” Stormy shouted back, nodding his head in the direction of the mare he’d been with. She was on the dance floor now, switching back and forth from rocking her body along to the music and grinding up against other mares.

Jag laughed and continued rubbing his nose. He spotted the bottle of Skynoff Vodka and grabbed it, taking a long and powerful swig, most likely to deal with the unpleasantness of the drip.

“Shit, dude. She’s going out with... what’s his face? That, colt from Las Pegasus.”

“That’s two of his that you’ve tagged, Jag.” Stormy offered back.

Jag and The Colt from Las Pegasus had been friends at the start of the semester, because they weren’t much different, personality wise. They both liked the same kind of mares (The ones who buck on the first date.). They both went to the same parties, and, they both had noses like vacuums. Their friendship ended when Jag slept with The Colt from Las Pegasus's marefriend and, then drukenly bragged about it the next time they saw eachother. One black eye later, Jag had found a new best friend; A Unicorn named Rumblejack, and The Colt from Las Pegasus faded back into obscurity. A background character in both of their lives who’s fifteen minutes of fame were long over.

And, speaking of...

The Colt from Las Pegasus emerged from the crowd on the dance floor with a scowl on his face. Just like every other time Stormy had seen him on campus, he was wearing a pair of Oatley sunglasses (This time inside, at night and most likely not in an ironic sort of way) and, a backwards Wonderbolts Cap. He had the body type of an out of practice Flight School reject; his deep blue wings were larger than average, but without the frequent use they needed to stay healthy looking they'd lost a bit of colour and the once strong pattern of feathers that a stronger Pegasus would have, they'd thinned. His body, like most Pegasus, was thin, agile and light. His rapidly worsening salt addiction had aged him somewhat prematurely, deep bags set under his eyes (Which was probably why he wore the sunglasses all the time) that you couldn't notice unless you stood up close to him.

In five years, if he kept abusing salt and continued to take his wings for granted, he'd lose half his wing's feathers, his ability to fly and after that, probably his life; A pegasus who couldn't fly was like a Unicorn who lost his magic; a freak. An outcast and a loser.

When he spotted Jag, The Colt From Las Pegasus's scowl deepened, he popped his shoulders, tightened up his spine and advanced aggressively towards the trio.

Things were about to get interesting.

“Hey, Choke ‘N’ Stroke.” Stormy greeted with forced obnoxious cheer. Gentle Strokes, who must have been very much confused by this entire ordeal, cocked an eyebrow.

Stormy would have explained to Gentle Strokes how one afternoon, The Colt From Las Pegasus’s ex marefriend approached him, drunk and crying while she was looking for Jag. The story went; apparently, she learned that she was pregnant with either The Colt From Las Pegasus’s bastard, or Jag's. (Though Jag swore it couldn't have ever been his because he'd 'wrapped his rascal'.) She needed to know if Jag had enough money to deal with it, because The Colt From Las Pegasus certainly didn’t. The next two hours found Stormy comforting her while she sobbed, drunk and described her extremely graphic and just as disturbing, sex life with The Colt From Las Pegasus.

Among a psychology textbook’s worth of warning signs that he might be sexually deranged (He cried before, after and during intercourse. He greatly encouraging cuddling post coitus.) She’d found it the most discomforting that he couldn’t get himself off unless she tied a belt firmly around his neck and tugged as hard as she could. On the belt.

Choke ‘N’ Stroke, as a nickname, came afterwards and stuck with him.

“Go screw yourself with a cactus stallion stuffer!” He shouted at Stormy, who gave a grin and wink in return.

The Colt From Las Pegasus pushed past Gentle Strokes and Stormy, and approached Jag, who smiled broadly back at him.

“Howdy.”

“You little junkie! If I see you talking to my filly again I will beat you harder than this,” He paused to turn towards Stormy, “queer, beats your dick!”

“I have zero clue what you’re talking about!” Jag grinned back at him. “Really! No idea what you mean by that! I just came from doing a few lines of bucking NutraSweet in the bathroom, though. I think, if you’re gonna kick any one's flank it should be Sweet Deals’ for being the worst dealer on campus!”

“You. Are. A. Gigantic. Retard. I just saw you two leaving the bathroom together!” The Colt From Las Pegasus offered back, apparently stunned at Jag’s perpetual stupidity, which seemed surprising. “Now, she’s going all filly fooler with some chick on the dance floor.”

“That sounds like one of those ‘good problems’ to me.” Jag, again grinning, shouted back with a shrug of his shoulders “Why don’t you bring them back to your room? I’ll let you borrow my belt.”

The Colt From Las Pegasus’ threw a roundhouse hoof with the drunken grace of a Manehattan Wino. It connected with Jag’s cheek and rocked his head almost a full ninety five degrees. His body followed, and as it did, he lost his footing and fell to the ground.

Stormy was on his feet and charging at The Colt From Las Pegasus when he stopped dead in his tracks: Already leaps and bounds ahead of him, both mentally, and physically, Gentle Strokes had grabbed the hoof The Colt From Las Pegasus threw at Jag, gripped it tightly and forced it behind his back. He kicked his lower left hoof at The Colt From Las Pegasus’ lower hooves, tripping him, and, with his hoof still holding onto his opponent’s, forced it behind his back. He straddled his back so that his body weight was holding his body on the floor, and and using his one free hoof, he forced The Colt From Las Pegasus’ face against the floor.

“Now, you’re gonna say ‘sorry’ to my friends. Get up. Forget this ever happened and walk away. Got it?” He shouted into his ear.

Holy shit.

The Colt From Las Pegasus struggled, trying to break free. Gentle Strokes forced his hoof further up his back and the Colt From Las Pegasus began to groan. After a few more tries, and his hoof getting to the point where, anatomically, it shouldn’t have bent, he gave up.

“Buck! Alright, fine!” He shouted in defeat.

Gentle Strokes gently lifted himself off of the other pony. The Colt From Las Pegasus got to his hooves, shakily, and gave an entirely uncompromising glare at Gentle Strokes. Gentle Strokes returned it with one of his own; his furrowed brow, gritted teeth and flared nostrils said volumes more than words could, and realizing this The Colt From Las Pegasus's face dropped. He grunted heavily and mumbled an apology to Jag.

With his head hung low, he trotted off past a leering crowd of onlookers.

The walk of shame.

Tomorrow morning everyone in the know on campus would be talking about what happened; Gentle Strokes would be a folk legend. Colts would buy him drinks, or do keg-stands, or beer-bongs with him. Mare's who wouldn't have batted their eyes at him before would suddenly want to have his kids. After tonight, anywhere Gentle Strokes went on Campus, someone would know who he was. Meanwhile, The Colt From Las Pegasus would probably kill himself.

College was funny.