• Published 29th Oct 2012
  • 3,598 Views, 83 Comments

Finding Faith - CoolBreeze

Haunted by the past, John finds his place in life, helping an orange pegasus mare...

  • ...

Budding Friendship

My Little Pony: Finding Faith
Chapter 4 “Budding Friendship

“Nightmare?” I ask, confused by the statement. She adores Rainbow Dash, how could it be a nightmare to fly for her as an audience?

“It’s...” She takes a deep breath, “Complicated.” Her gaze moves away, and I’m presented with the back of her head. I frown for a moment, not sure how to prod at the topic without rubbing some raw spots, but I know it has to be approached, she needs to heal and I can tell she won’t get over it, not easily unless someone - or somepony - helps her.

I decide to begin with a statement of my own, it seems only fitting. “Lot’s of things are complicated, waking up to find yourself hanging upside down in a tree in the middle of heavy rain without your memories is pretty complicated - so I’m sure I’ll be able to handle whatever it was that happened to you.” I nudge her gently in the side.

There’s silence for a full minute, I begin to think she’s not going to answer until finally she manages to choke out, “It was the greatest day of my life...” She still doesn’t turn to face me, perhaps out of shame.

“Was? What happened? Come on Scootaloo, you can’t bottle this stuff up.” I let out a breath and peer up at the branches above for a moment before lowering my gaze again, “We only met yesterday, but I really want to help you... you’re kind of my only friend here... if that’s what this-” I indicate to her with my hoof before turning it back on myself for emphasis, “-is, friendship.”

She finally turns to face me, her violet eyes cast downward, I reach out and pull her into a friendly hug to prove my statement. We sit like that in the shadow of the tree for a time, the seconds blur into minutes and the minutes become a quarter of an hour of simple silence in the embrace until she finally speaks up, her voice almost a murmur. “I was competing with some colts from Cloudsdale, I’d found my wings a couple of months before that so I wanted to prove to Rainbow Dash just how good I was getting.”

I’m starting to see where this is going, worse, I have a feeling I know what happens. She presses on without interruption from me, “It was all going good... we did some laps of the city... but then I came up to the slalom of cloud pillars for the third time and I took it a bit too fast. I clipped the second pillar with my wing and all I remember is the sound of something snapping, like a loud crack; then I blacked out. I came to in a hospital bed, I’d broken my wing and if it hadn’t have been Rainbow Dash there watching... I might not have made it to the hospital at all! According to the doctors if Rainbow had been a few seconds slower I could very well have hit the ground.”

Okay I hadn’t expected her nearly dying! It sounds just awful, worse... I can imagine suddenly being off both - err, all four of my legs and told I can’t walk! It would drive me insane, take flight from a creature born to fly who only just got that skill... it’d be enough to drive anything mad. I peer down at her with one eye and I feel a newfound understanding of this mare.

“Even after it healed, you’d lost a lot of your confidence and being off the wing for so long, you practically had to relearn flying again, right?” I ask, sensing that is the general gist of what occurred. I idly rub her with my hoof to comfort her. For a moment she just breathes gently into my neck before answering, “Yeah... something like that.”

Yeah... something like that; probably entailed rehabilitation, therapy and a loving and supporting family to be there at your side... which Scootaloo doesn’t have, being an orphan. I try to put it into perspective, imagining the loss of use in my legs, inability to move, while it’s a little more drastic than losing a secondary mode of transport, I can definitely imagine how agonising it would be to work through that, and then have to start all over again before resuming a normal life. But Scootaloo... I don’t think she’s gotten over that incident, she seems unsure of herself like under the tree we met before she flew up, she looked like she was thinking against it.

We sit under the shade and I continue to rub my hoof across her back and shoulders in a comforting way, I’m not sure if she’s watching the others out in the park or is sitting there with her eyes closed but her breathing is calm and her muscles are steadily loosening. Yet... I want to know more about her, I want to help her and for the love of me I can’t tell why! It’s starting to get frustrating that I’m focusing so much on this mare I met only yesterday when I have my own, very serious issue to solve. Really, I can’t remember anything pertaining to the details of my life, I can recall other things, things that don’t do much to help such as how I’m used to saying ‘anyone’ instead of ‘anypony’ and for some reason that seems even more absurd with each passing minute, I was bipedal.

I shift uncomfortably as a thought crosses my mind, what if I never was anything other than a pony and I simply have a really bad case of amnesia? It’s possible for a mind to make up an entire reality in an effort to make sense of the muddle of thoughts in it or lack thereof, it can fill in entire blank spots with false ones just so there’s no gaps. But... I don’t have gaps, the memories don’t seem to be missing at all. I can try and recall... my mother’s face but all that comes up is a haze in my mind’s eye, like I know what she looks like but for some gosh darned unfathomable reason I can’t pick the memory out of the whirlpool of a lake that my mind seems to represent.

“How are you doing, John?” Scootaloo asks, surprising me a bit. How am I doing? Not bad... not good, somewhere in between would be a good place to start I guess, I want to know what’s going on, why I can’t remember. What am I missing?

“I’m fine,” I reply. It doesn’t matter, whatever it all is, I’m sure I’ll figure it out or it’ll come back to me sometime. Until then I have some other concerns, such as cheering up this brilliant girl.

“You were pensive for a bit there, are you suuure you’re okay?” she insists, turning over to look at me for the first time in a while of us sitting here.

I muster up my most convincing grin and nod to her, after all, life’s good when you’re with a friend and a basket of delicious apples. Speaking of... I reach over, my hoof seems to simply... grasp the apple and lift it from the basket before promptly moving it to the end of my muzzle and taking a nice big chunk out of the juicy red delight. I chew cheerily and swallow the hunk and let out a cry of protest as Scootaloo climbs over me and nabs an apple for herself and joins me in feasting.

We sit there, munching on apples and just enjoying the other’s company for a good portion of the afternoon, watching ponies do this and that before the sun begins to lower drawing near the horizon. I promptly reach over and grab the basket and don it like a helmet, turning to Scootaloo I whip a hoof up and salute her stiffly.

“Officer John Doe, reporting for duty, Ma’am!” I bark out with false discipline. She bursts out into fits of laughter at the sudden change in mood and I grin to her before pushing her over to her side. Oh no, I’m not out of the woods, a hoof reaches up and hooks me around the neck and drags me down into a tangle of wings and legs. I laugh as she struggles to pull herself up and we just end up rolling down the hill, struggling against one another like little kids at play time.

We reach the bottom of the hill and I manage to untangle myself from Scootaloo, I push myself up and reach out, tapping her with a hoof “You’re it!” I say gleefully before darting away. As I rush back up the hill to dive around the tree trunk, I hear her protest and start up after me, “Oh no you don’t!”

“Yeah I do!” I shout back before darting behind the tree, swinging around and tripping on an exposed root, which sends me rolling back down the hill in a heap.

“Ooof!” I grunt, coming to an abrupt stop. I hear the sound of hooves on grass and cry out when a weight drops on top of me.

“Gotcha!” Scootaloo cries before looking down at me, seeming quite proud of having caught me.

I adjust the basket on my head, ignoring the itch it’s causing my throat or the awkward pressure on my horn and give her a grin, “You did, heh” I feel awesome, absolutely awesome looking up at the orange mare, her purple mane gently waving in the breeze, the last rays of sunlight shine in her eyes.

She crawls off me and I roll over to get up and then remove the basket, placing it on the ground between us.

“Uh... it’s getting late, we should probably find someplace to sleep.” Scootaloo says sheepishly, rubbing the back of her head with a hoof idly.

“Sure, any idea of where to go?” I ask, letting her take the lead here. I want her to be comfortable, especially if I’m going to do my best to build her confidence.

“Ummm... well we could-” she stops and shakes her head, “-nah... probably not.”

“What? We could what?” I ask, tilting my head to the side inquisitively, honestly anything beats sleeping under a tree in the rain at this point.

“Well... the old clubhouse... we could go there I suppose.” she starts uncertainly, she peers out into the dying light towards an apple orchard that I’d noticed earlier. She points out with a hoof, “It’s in there, and it’s big enough for us both, surely we left the...” she trails off, deep in thought.

I nod and clear my throat, “Well then let’s get going! I dunno about you Scootaloo but I don’t see well at night, heh.”

She snaps out of her thoughts and nods with a small smile, “Right, let’s go.”

* * *

Well, it’s clubhouse material alright, it looks like it was slapped together haphazardly as an afternoon project. Scootaloo looks over at me from where she stands, “It’s safe, Applejack and Big Mac tested it for us.”

“Ahuh...” I say curiosity piqued at what the interior looks like. Scootaloo starts up the ramp, placing her hooves above small timber rungs to keep from sliding back. I follow her lead and stay just a few rungs behind her, so as not to get a face full of tail. We make our way up into the clubhouse, which is actually supported by some sturdy looking columns now that I can get a good look at them in the dim light.

There’s a squeak and Scootaloo yawns, I look up to find she’s already pushed the door open and stooped her head to get inside the structure, I make my way up the last few rungs and then follow her in, making sure to duck my head, I don’t want to hit my horn on anything after all. As I enter and turn, Scootaloo closes the door and reaches for what I can barely make out as a lantern. There’s a light hissing sound and then quiet as the light brightens.

“One of Sweetie Belle’s projects with magic earlier... lantern making cutie mark crusading, heh.” Scootaloo says wistfully, looking into the light as it grows steadily before she places it down on a surface that I assume is a table. As my eyes adjust to the light, I peer around. Paper pictures are plastered over the walls, even some developed photographs of three young fillies grinning and playing together.

“Oh good, our capes are still here, we can use them as blankets.” Scootaloo states, drawing my attention to a corner where several pillows are lumped together to form a makeshift mattress. She lifts several capes up, while they wouldn’t fit us now, the cords being far to short, the girls had seemingly made them extra large. A mistake? Or foresight? Either way I was glad they had. Scootaloo offers two to me and then proceeds to curl up on the pillow mattress, leaving enough room for me to sit beside her, which I do with a nervous glance to her.

“What?” she asks, one eye open, eyebrow raised.

“Uhh... just thought you might have wanted to sleep on opposite sides of the room or something, dunno why.” I say with a nervous chuckle.

She snorts, “I’m not a little filly anymore, John. I’m fine with sharing a bed with a colt you know.”

Except I’m not a colt, at least... I don’t think I was, I may look it but I don’t feel it, unless... no I can’t do this now, I’ll go mad and never get to sleep. I let out a yawn and promptly fall over onto the mattress beside her, she yelps in surprise then hits me with a hoof, “Hey!”

She snickers and I let out a quiet, “Sorry.” not sure if I really mean it or not, either way I’m tired and it doesn’t matter. I close my eyes and try to compose myself. Slow deep breaths and I slowly tick off the mental switches to my thoughts, turning them off.

* * *

I wake up and find myself tangled up in cape blankets and Scootaloo legs. One of her wings sticks up awkwardly in the air and she snorts in her sleep. Cute. I look up and over to the window a simple pane of glass separates the interior from the exterior and I can just make out early morning rays of light breaking the horizon. Sunrise, yipee! I turn back over and find myself muzzle-to-muzzle with Scootaloo and she lets out a quiet murmur in her sleep. I can feel her breath wash over my muzzle and I refrain from shuddering to avoid rousing her... it felt nice to be like this, close to someone. It’s a new feeling, I know that much and I like it, I like it a lot, so much that I can’t bear to disturb the sleeping pegasus.

Instead I simply close my eyes and smile, enjoying her warm embrace. I can feel sleep beckoning me once more but I fend it off for a little longer. I feel too good to just let this moment end so quickly.

It suddenly occurs to me that I might be enjoying it because I’m developing feelings outside of friendship for the pegasus. That I might actually be developing a complex relationship, part of me likes this, likes the idea of having someone - somepony - close, but... deep down inside me I feel another part of me saying it doesn’t matter, I’m going to find out what happened to me, fix it and go back to whatever it was I was doing before.

But do I want to? Maybe this life, here with Scootaloo, however basic it might be, is preferable to whatever I had before? Do I care I might have been rich and famous? Successful? Important? I counter the negative voice with concerns about whether or not my previous life was any good, maybe this is better than that, maybe I was sad and lonely back there?

I try and dig deep within myself, looking, searching really, for any cue, any subtle memory, a feeling, a thought, a sense... I struggle through the haze and finally I find something, like a discarded piece of garbage.

Alone, I was alone wherever I came from. And this scares me. Do I want to be alone again? I ponder the question for a while, Scootaloo’s soft breathing the only thing I can hear as I silently think. No, I don’t want to be alone anymore, I enjoy this mare’s company.

I want to stay here, I think. And if I’m going to stay.... I’m going to have to prepare. Unicorns can do magic, maybe I should figure out if I can too? Mulling this over for a bit I feel the tug of sleep urgently at the back of my mind and finally give in to it. Sleep first, then magic later.

Author's Note:

Hey, sorry for the delay folks. I hope I make up for it with a touchy feely chapter tugging at your heartstrings :D

In other news... I have another project up at the moment, it's a short one as I don't feel particularly inclined to develop it into an epic sweeping saga like this and another two. Just a short four parter story about a Human in Equestria and all that jazz. I expect to have it up soon in the coming weeks before my birthday on June 28th.

Hope you're all good, fit and well.

Oh and anyone interested in beta reading for me? I need some advice/help with this side project I'm doing. Ta-ta!