• Published 23rd Dec 2012
  • 1,620 Views, 73 Comments

Another Life - Ironwolves21



Years of killing; a hundred broken bodies, friend and foe, all leading to this point in time. The singular moment where every life Riot has ended comes back to haunt him. The moment when he stops being a soldier, and starts being a pony again.

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Chapter Twelve

Riot laid back on the rickety motel bed, trying his best to ignore the weak creaking of the bed. His duffel was set down on the floor, and his hooves went up to his face to rub his eyes. The buck sighed, staring up at the ceiling. He could hear a young couple a few rooms over; they were arguing loudly, but he couldn’t make out what they were saying. Whatever they were saying, it definitely wasn’t happy.

A shiver ran down Riots spine, causing him to look around for a moment. Shiv was perched on the dresser, just like he had been for the past hour. “I’m bored. Let’s go cause a fight or something.” Riot rolled over, opening his bag with his magic. A small, ragged photo floated up, and was left on his hooves. “Come on Riot!” Riot ran a hoof over the picture before closing his eyes. Shiv glared at him before rolling his eyes. “You fuckin’ suck.”

After a minute or so, he placed the picture on the nightstand and kicked back, looking at the slowly spreading case of black mold on the ceiling. There was a knock at the door.

Riot grunted unhappily, sitting up on the edge of the bed. “Who is it?” No answer. Snorting unhappily, the stallion stood up and trotted to the door. He cracked it open, poking his muzzle out the door. “Who is it?” He repeated.

“Dad? Is that you?” Hunter looked up at the grey muzzle poking through the door. Riot blinked, then pulled back, opening the door completely.

Riot kneeled down, wrapping his hooves around the colt and embracing him tightly. “Hunter! Celestia I missed you lad...”

The young colt smiled warmly. “I’m so glad I found you.....” Hunter said, nuzzling into the larger stallion’s chest.

Riot closed his eyes, hugging Hunter as tightly as he could. “How...How did you find me? I just checked in.” Not that he was complaining.

“Well....Miss Vinyl told me that you were home when I came to see her, but you weren't there. You weren’t at Vinyl’s, so I thought you would go to a hotel or something.” The young stallion hugged his father around the neck.

Riot grinned happily, ruffling the colts shaggy mane. “That’s my boy! I swear, you’ll make a fine detective.” He stood up, carrying the colt on his back. “Come on, I’ll show you my humble abode.”

Hunter beamed at the praise, seemingly unaware of the older stallion as he struggled with the added weight. Hunter had gotten a lot heavier, he was in another growth spurt. “Celestia kid, you’re getting heavy!” Riot picked the colt up in his magic and plopped him down on the bouncy bed. Hunter giggled as he bounced over backwards.

Hunter looked down at his foreleg, and smiled. “Mmhmm! Check it out!” He flexed, and the muscles bulged out slightly. Riot smiled broadly, but in the back of his mind he couldn’t help but sigh.

Riot rolled his eyes, poking at the forehoof. “Damn kid, you’re making me look bad!” He chuckled happily, sitting down on the edge of the bed. Hunter hugged his forehoof as he set it down; the colt held on tightly, nuzzling into the fur. Riot smiled softly down at his son. “I missed you Hunter.”

“I missed you too, Dad.....I can’t wait to live with you again!” The young stallion closed his eyes, sighing happily.

“I need a home for that...” Riot sighed unhappily, then glanced at the clock. “Does your momma know where you are?”

He felt the colt swallow, and Hunter looked away. “M-maybe.....”

Riot groaned, falling back on the bed. “You need to tell her these things Hunter, I know you’re not happy with her and all, but she’s still your Mother and she still loves you.”

Hunter let out a breath, and rolled his eyes. “I....I know.....I just missed you so much.”

Riot nodded, not wanting to drive the young stallion away. He had already lost so much time. “Alright, we’ll keep this as our little secret. But...I need to go to work in a few here.”

The little stallion sighed. “Oh....Alright.....Can I come with you? I can wash dishes for Uncle Sunny!”

“I...I’m not sure buddy...It’s not a great place for young colts to hang out.”

Hunter nodded slowly. “Okay Dad.....Have a good night. I’ll see you tomorrow, right?”

Riot placed a hoof on Hunters shoulder. “I didn’t say you couldn’t come. I just want you to stay with your uncle at all times, all right?” The small pony’s eyes lit up, and he got to his hooves, starting to bounce on the bed. His hooves didn’t leave the fabric, he was just electric with excitement. Riot chuckled happily, getting to his hooves. “Come on champ, let’s go mess up Vinyls mane.”

Hunter laughed, and saluted. “Yes sir!” The small pony hopped off the bed, and left into the hallway. Riot followed him out, taking one last longing glance at the picture on the nightstand before locking the door behind himself.
_______________________________________________________________________

The pair quickly arrived at the Horseshoe, and they were early for the most part. Riot nudged the door open, ushering the colt inside. “Come on Hunter, let’s find your uncle.”

Hunter’s eyes were wide, excitedly taking in the sights of the dark stairwell as he made his way down. “Wooowwww.” He said, looking around at the large room.

Riot only grinned, walking through the empty club. He swore that he saw a blur of blue and white up in the DJ booth, but other than that he couldn’t see anypony. It was quiet. Too quiet.

A pink blur passed Riot’s peripheral and he stiffened immediately. “Oh no.....” He said to himself. “Oh Celestia n-”

“SURPRISE!!!!!”

Pinkie appeared from behind one of the couches, Vinyl popped out from the DJ booth, Berry and Kepler from the bar, and Wild fell from the rafters, crunching into a heap on the floor. The red pegasus made a noise like a deflating balloon, and weakly squeaked: ”Surprise....”.

Riot would have been laughing if not for the literal fucking canon that had gone off, showering him with confectionary and confetti. Of course, to him it wasn’t confetti, it was dirt, blood and gore. Riot yelped in terror, falling back on his haunches.

Riot looked to his left, motioning for the buck to move up. The new buck trotted up, not keeping his head down. “Trap. Two feet to the left, tripwire's under a rock.” The private blanched, then nodded his head, levitating out a pair of wire snips.

The pale blue buck crept towards the trap, then brought his snips towards the wire. The stallion disarmed the line, and pulled the disabled mine out. He turned, holding it up as he smiled.

BANGBOOOOOM
Riot yelled out in pain as he was flung against a fallen tree; dirt, blood, guts and uniform raining down around him.

Pinkie’s smile deflated a bit, but she counted it to surprise. She flicked a little lever, and a banner unfolded on the far wall. It said ‘Welcome Back Riot!’ in massive black letters, haphazardly painted, with many hoof prints over it in the same paint.

Riots breathing slowed down, and the world slowly returned to normality. He wiped his brow with a hoof, forcing a chuckle. “W-wow...”

Kepler giggled from the bar, hopping over the wooden planks, embracing her older brother. “I’m so happy you’re back!”

He smiled awkwardly, hugging her back. “T-thanks...”

Vinyl left her DJ booth as well, sporting a wide smile. “Sorry about before, I was supposed to go get you and bring you back here.”

Riot got back up on slightly shaky hooves, trying to readjust himself. “Yeah, sorry about that.” He looked down at Hunter, who was in the process of poking the mangled corpse that was Wildman. “I brought Hunter in today. Thought he could work in the kitchen with Wild, washing dishes and the like.”

Vinyl smiled at the small pony. “Works for me, big guy.” She patted Hunter on the shoulder, and Wild twitched again, like a crushed bug.

Hunter grinned happily at the pearl mare. “Awesome! Come on Uncle Sunny!” Hunter grabbed the scruff of the stallions neck, and started dragging him slowly across the floor. The low squeal of smooth floors meeting lazy flesh brought a cringe to Riots face.

Berry smiled warmly from behind the bar, and grabbed Riot a bottle of water. “Here you go big guy.” She held it out to him.

The stallion shook his head as his eyes fell on a bottle of whiskey that sat on the shelf behind her. “I need a strong drink.” Berry cocked an eyebrow at him, along with anypony who was within ear shot. She then shrugged before passing the bottle over.

Riot took the bottle in his hooves, eyeing it for a moment. “You know...I just realized that I haven’t had a solid drink in almost two years...”

Except for those little swigs from that hidden flask. Liar. Shiv chuckled in the back of his head.

The mulberry mare waved a hoof as she pulled out a small bottle of a rainbow coloured liquid. “Before you drink that, let me make you something.” She popped the top off of the bottle, and put a single drop in the familiar concoction. “Have at it, big guy, this could put down a buffalo chieftain.”

The stallion shrugged, knocking back the drink. His lips curled as the sour mix split his gut in two. “Sweet mother- How the fuck can anypony enjoy something like- Oh.” The sudden sensation of flying and hitting the floor simultaneously crashed through his mind, all while sitting still. “Huh.”

Berry chuckled. “You two might want to take a few steps back, this could get bad.” She said to Kepler and Vinyl. Riot blinked, then got up.

“Well, please tell me there won’t be anymore loud explosions...Please?” Riot looked pleadingly at the pink mare who was fast approaching.

Pinkie giggled. “Nope! It’s just time for fun!”

He breathed a sigh of relief, choosing to ignore the indignant look of curiosity from Berry. The mare poked at him, then ran her hoof down his side. “How are you still standing?”

Shrugging, he poked her in the belly, eliciting a squeak of surprise from the mare. “First you must learn to center your feng-shui.”

“Feng shui? Isn’t that like....Where you put things in a room?” The mulberry bartender asked, raising an eyebrow.

He waved a hoof about, dismissing her claim. “That’s not important! The trick is to just not let the alcohol touch any fleshy parts of your insides.” Berry blinked, her mind incapable of comprehending such retardation. He grinned, messing her mane up. “I’ll tell you later lass.”

She didn’t look at him, still thinking, trying to understand while her mane was now covering her eyes, staring at the wall. Vinyl prodded her, and giggled as she swayed. “I think you broke her.”

Riot rolled his eyes, looking at Vinyl. “If this is one of those ploys to get me to kiss her on the pretense of waking her up, I ain’t falling for it.”

Vinyl shrugged. “Dunno....Let’s see if it works.” She leaned over the bar, her lips connecting with the mare’s, her tongue visibly passing between them into the slackened jaw of the bartender.

Riot tried to drag his eyes away, but failed. He was happy that Kepler had slipped out to check on Wildman, and Pinkie was too busy being, well, Pinkie. Berry blinked, quickly realizing the situation she was in.

The mulberry mare’s eyes shot open, but before she could pull back, Vinyl wrapped a hoof around the back of her head, stopping her retreat short, pushing her muzzle deeper into the earth pony’s, winking at Riot.

“Hey Dad, what do you think the special should b-” A small door opened next to the bar, and Hunter had just begun to trot out when he saw the two mares at the bar. The young colt’s horn sparked for a moment, and he stiffened, cheeks glowing hotly.

Riot slowly lifted a hoof, covering the colts eyes. “Vinyl...” For once, Shiv was completely silent as well.

Hunter ducked just enough to avoid his father’s hoof, but the display ended at Riot’s words. Berry pulled back, blushing just as hotly as the young stallion. Vinyl giggled, leaning back against the bar. Her eyes focused on something behind both of the stallions. Wild’s single wing had embedded itself in the door jam, and he was currently trying to free the stiffened object from the doorframe.

Shiv growled happily as he paced back and forth as he filled Riots head with images of what he could do to the mares. I want them. Make it happen.

Riot coughed lightly, smiling apologetically at Berry, who was still completely screwed over from the whole ordeal. “I think we should uh...Maybe get ready for opening?”

Vinyl perked up before poking Riot in the ribs with a hoof. “I have a friend coming by, could you let her in?” The stallion nodded, causing Vinyl to smile broadly. “Great! I promise I’ll make it up to you~”

Riot nodded quickly, and Vinyl smiled even wider. Kepler bounced out of the kitchen, completely unaware of the entire ordeal. She bumped Riots shoulder as she came up beside him. “Well big brother, you ready to bounce together?”

He rolled his eyes, nudging the door open. “Sure am.”

“Oh don’t be such a sour puss. I’ve done great this last week.” The grey mare stepped outside, and leaned against the brick wall. He nodded, taking up his usual spot.

“Sure, I don’t doubt that.” He smiled at her, motioning towards the first customers. “They usually show up this quick?”

“Mmhmm...I guess I got as lucky as you did with the genetic lottery. Stallions are really flocking. And stallions mean mares.”

He grunted, noticing the mark up in stallions. “Just don’t go humping away in the bathroom.” He nodded to the first group, a trio of loud bucks trotted forward.

Kepler chuckled. “Howdy boys, you have a good night, huh?” She said, giving one a playful thwap on the rear with her tail.

One of the stallions grinned widely, taking in a deep, unapologetic look at her rear. “Why don’t you come in with us Sweet Cheeks? We can show you a good time.”

Riot growled hotly, resisting the urge to take a step forward. “Pay the fee and get inside.”

The smaller stallion shrunk back, ducking his head as he entered, muttering something Riot didn’t quite catch as he entered the club. His friends followed suit, and Kepler rolled her eyes. “Don’t be like that, Riot. I joke around with those stallions all the time.”

He sighed, rubbing his eyes. “Kep, there’s such a thing as ‘professionalism’.” He looked at her apologetically. “And you’re my sister.”

“Oh I guess. You don’t have to be so uptight about it, Ashie. I’m with Wild, and I’m staying with him.” The mare leaned against the wall again, sighing.

He went to say something, but stopped himself as the next group slid around the corner.

It was a orange-maned mare, Lyra, and Bon Bon. The mint mare gave Riot a wave, and galloped up to him. “I’m glad to see you out of the hospital!” She said, smiling widely as she gave him a quick hug.

He hugged Lyra back. “Glad to be out. Good to see you Lyra, you too Bon Bon.”

Bon Bon smiled warmly at him. “Lyra told me about you, apparently you’re quite the stallion. We’ll see you tonight.” She said, reining in her mare, and bringing her other friend with her down the steps.

He nodded to the new mare, who blushed profusely and quickened her step. The clink of bits brought his hoof up to hold the door for them. “After you ladies.”

They nodded, eager to be out of the cold weather. When Riot looked up, he saw small flakes of snow beginning to fall, adding to the thick white sheet over the town.The buck smiled, an actual, genuine smile. He had always liked the snow.

Kepler shivered, and her horn glowed, bringing two white and red stocking caps, with a white ball and a bell on the end. She put one over her own head, and one over Riot’s. He looked up at the white puff ball, which was now dangling in his face. He blew at it, trying to make it go away, but every breath only lifted it up and brought it back down. Riot scowled a bit, slouching as the ball swayed in his vision.

Kepler giggled, playing with the little bell like a cat, batting it with a hoof. “Hearth’s Warming is in a few days, Vinyl was talking about hosting the party right here.” She said, letting a few more ponies in.

Riot sighed, now realizing he couldn't defeat the hat. “Sounds nice.” He nodded to a couple ponies he didn’t recognize, allowing entry once he heard the bits hit the bottom of the box.

Parties. Woo.

A few quiet moments passed, where Kepler was too busy talking to patrons or focused on her hat to say anything to him. Riot quietly wondered how Hunter was doing. He looked at the long line in front of himself and cocked his head towards Kepler. “You may as well head inside, keep an eye on the ponies there.”

Kepler nodded. “Don’t go beating up the clientele, now.” She said, grinning, bumping her older brother with her flank. “Just call if you need anything.”

He nodded, looking at the line. “Only if they deserve it Kep.” The grey mare nodded, trotting inside and closing the door behind herself. Riot let out a breath, rolling his shoulders to get comfortable.

The next few groups were simple, they paid and went in. The next pony on the other hoof was.... Ill suited for the club, to say the least. The dark grey mare looked about, adjusting her purple bow tie.

She looked up at the large stallion, and then the door, sighing. “Good evening. This is The Horseshoe, yes?” The mare asked, her voice melodious and thick with a Trottingham accent.

Riot nodded. “Yup.” He looked at her again. She most definitely wasn’t the type for going to nightclubs. “Are you looking for somepony in particular? Or are you just looking to head inside?”

The mare let the shadow of a blush pass over her features, and she bobbed slightly on her hooves, trying to warm herself up. “I’m looking for Vinyl. You wouldn’t know where she is, would you?”

He nodded, opening the door for her. “She’s in the DJ booth, but you may have to wait for a bit, sounds like she’s in the middle of a set.” He motioned her in. “Go on, Vinyl’d have me head if I charged one of her respectable looking friends admission.”

The mare’s blush increased. “Thank you, kind sir. But the price is no matter.” She nodded her head, and dropped a few bits into the tin. “Have a good night.” She said, trotting inside.

“Merry Hearths Warming.” He watched as the door closed behind her and her insatiably shaped flanks. He gave her head a shake, then promptly had to explain to a white stallion why he wasn’t going to let him in for free.

An hour passed, and the line had all but disappeared inside. Riot let out a breath, watching as the puff of air floated away. He shuffled a bit, getting whatever snow had landed on himself off. Riot turned towards the door and trotted in, locking it behind himself. Of course, ponies could still get out, but nopony could get in easily.

The large stallion trotted down the steps and into the club proper. He glanced over at the bar, to where an oddly familiar drink was being prepared for a misled stallion. The blue pony was about to slug back a Stalliongrad special.

The blue stallion looked down at the beverage clutched in his magic, and slowly licked his lips, bringing it towards his muzzle. He took a mouthful, and looked down at the beverage. He frowned for a moment, before falling face first into the bar. The pony’s friends laughed, poking him in jest. Only when he fell out of his seat and onto the floor did one of them clue in to take him to the bathroom immediately.

Riot let out a chuckle, trotting up to the bar. “Set me up with a shot of Stalliongrad, Berry.”

The mare giggled at the smaller stallion, then nodded to Riot, getting started on the liver melting mixture, while simultaneously doling out drinks to mares and stallions, the bottles sliding perfectly down or up the bar.

In a moment, Riot had his shotglass in hoof, and the drink was already gone. The remains of the blue ponies friends gave him a shit eating smirk, waiting for him to bounce his face off the bar. When he didn’t, they all looked at him in reverence.

Riot just smirked, trotting away. He clutched the bottle of beer he’d pilfered from the bar; eventually knocked on the DJ booth door.

The off white DJ came bouncing out, plucking the beer from his grasp. He rolled his eyes, looking about for her fancy friend. “That friend of yours came by, looked real fancy. Wore a purple bow?”

Her crimson eyes widened, and she gleefully looked into the crowd. “‘Tavi? Where!? Oh my Celestia it’s been like....Forever since I’ve seen her!”

He squinted in the pulsating dark, looking for- There she was! Riot started trotting towards one of the booths, where the mare was sitting, trying to ignore a drunken patron who was getting a little too frisky.

She was glaring at the brown stallion, who’d just laid his hoof on her flank when Riot showed up, staring down at the smaller pony.

“Wudda you want, Asshole? I’m making my move, fuck off.” The drunken buck said, sneering at Riot.

“I believe the lady wants you gone.” He towered over the tiny drunken foal. He cocked his head to the side, motioning towards the door. “And I think you’ve had one too many.”

The stallion let out a dismissive breath, and turned away from Riot, back to the elegant mare, and leaning in to kiss her on the muzzle, pulling the protesting mare in by the back of her head. He was halted immediately as a hoof wrapped around his neck, pulling him back as all the air in his lungs was forced out by a shot to the kidney.

The buck quickly twitched out of consciousness; then was hauled out back and dumped into the trash. Riot wiped his hooves together, then trotted back inside. He was quickly waved down by Vinyl, who was sitting with the mare.

He walked over, standing by the couch. “Sorry about that, we usually don’t let folks get that out of hoof.”

The elegant mare nodded slowly. “It’s quite alright, though I must thank you for your expedient removal of that ruffian.” She said with a huff, taking a sip from the wine glass gripped gently between her forehooves.

Riot shrugged, looking about. “It was my pleasure.”

Do they even have wine here?

Vinyl rolled her eyes. “Geez, just go and fuck already!” She wrapped a hoof around the darker mare. “Come on Tavi! He’s cute...” Vinyl gave Riot a lecherous look.

The mare’s face blazed with an embarrassed blush, pulling away from Vinyl’s hoof. “Pardon me if I do not.....Familiarize myself....With every stallion in town, as you do.” She said, turning up her nose at the DJ.

Riot chuckled, adding in on the rebuttal. “Yeah, Vinyl here t’ain’t very good with the distance thing.” He rolled his eyes, only slightly realizing his Emerald isles accent had made an appearance.

The earth pony looked up to Riot. “I recognize that accent!” She said, momentarily letting her aristocratic shell fall away. “You come from the Emerald Isles!” The mare said. “That’s not far from where I come from.”

The stallion sat down, looking around continually. “Yeah, me ma and step-pa are still in Cork.” He leaned back against the couch. “What about you? Where’s the spot you hail from?”

Vinyl just sat and stared at the ponies, both aspects of the two completely unknown to her.

“Trottingham! I lived just across the channel! I spent a lot of time in Cork.” She said. “I’m so glad to be speaking to somepony I actually have common ground with, even one so......Scruffy.”

He leaned forward, offering a hoof to her. “Names Iron Venture, what about you lass?”

She smiled. “Octavia, it’s good to meet you, Mr. Venture.” The mare sipped from her wine daintily before setting it down, and giving him a hoofshake. “It’s not often I get to speak to ponies from that part of the world. Especially in a place so....” She looked off to the side, and winced at the beginnings of a bar brawl in the corner. “....Quaint?”

Riot chuckled, looking around at the club. “Trust me, I didn’t think I’d end up here after the army.” He smiled lightly as Kepler broke up the fight.

Octavia looked up in surprise. “You were military? I should have guessed, given your physique, not to mention your....” She motioned to one of his many old scars along his visible hide.

The stallion rubbed his neck. “Yeah, I was career military, but uh... After Hoofington I was given an honorarable discharge due to medical reasons. I think that was hoofed over to almost forty percent of field commanders.” He mulled the thought over for a moment, completely oblivious to the grey mare sneaking up behind him.

Riot was alerted to something being off as Octavia blinked, and her focus turned to something behind him. He looked, and saw his younger sister creeping up on him. The mare giggled, and bumped Riot with her flank. “Shmoozing it up with the fancy mare, huh? I guess this proves it, earth ponies are your thing.”

“Nah, just talkin’ with Ms. Tavia about the home island.” He motioned towards Kepler. “This is m’ sister, Kepler Steele. And before you ask, no, we’re not twins. I’m four years older than she is, she just looks like me.”

Octavia smiled, and put out her hoof, which Kepler happily returned. “It’s nice to meet you, Miss Steele. Your brother is quite the interesting pony.” She said, looking to the scarred stallion.

Kepler nickered, hoofing the stallion playfully rough. “He always gets the attention.” She wrapped her hooves around his shoulders and started shaking Riot violently. “And he never answers m’ damn letters!”

Vinyl giggled, and patted Octavia on the shoulder. “See, Octy. I got along fine, even without you holding my hoof every step of the way.” She said, looking to her friends with a giant grin.

The grey mare looked away as the pair of siblings started throttling each other, tossing various obscenities back and forth. “Well, to be fair, one can get quite far by shaking flank and selling booze.” She chuckled, placing a hoof on the couch. “I’m joking, I’m glad you’re doing fine.”

Vinyl giggled again. “You’re just jealous you don’t have any flank to shake, ‘Tavi.” She said, giving the grey pony a swift smack on the rear.

The mares eyes went wide, and she squeaked out at the impact, before covering her mouth with a hoof. Her blush was apparent, even in the dark. Vinyl let out a guffawing laugh, drawing the attention of the two still bickering siblings. Octavia sputtered out a response, but luckily Riot came to the rescue.

“Now Vinyl, I’m pretty sure she’s got quite the flank there.” He cleared his throat. “It’s not all about sheer mass and bounce. It’s also about refined qualities.” He pointed at the grey flanks sporting the purple treble clef. “Now, see the curvature? That shows that she takes care of herself, but the slight bit of bounce there shows that she still indulges every now and then.” He smirked to himself as Vinyl huffed over her lack of flank refinement.

Where did that come from?

Octavias blush had spread nearly to her chest, and her ears were on fire. “W-was that a compliment?”

Riot shrugged. “Take it however you want lass, I’m more than a little buzzed.”

Vinyl let out a breath, and cocked her ass slightly towards Riot. “Are you crazy? Look at this flank! Look at it!” She said, wrapping her tail around the back of his head, pulling him closer.

Riot smirked, knowing that his next bit of wording would only frustrate her further. It was payback time. “What? This tiny thing?” He poked it with a hoof as she held his head close to the cushiony rear.

Vinyl growled, sitting down on his muzzle, pinning him to the couch. The ponies eyes went wide and he flailed about as her ass clamped his face into the couch cushion. She giggled, and planted herself deeper, squashing the stallion. “Now, who has the best, and most sexiest flank in all of Equestria?” She asked, looking back at the pinned Riot, still struggling weakly against her plush butt.

Octavia coughed, blushing more as the scene unfolded in front of her. She scooted about on the couch, trying to find something else to focus on. “I-it’s alright Vinyl, your flank is the best.”

Riot mumbled through the fur and plot, pointing his hoof in a random direction. “Her.” His hoof had fallen on a lamp.

“Oh yeah, tough guy?” She said, narrowing her eyes at the pinned stallion. The mare rose up a few inches, making the buck feel like he’d at least gotten a bit of a breather, before slamming herself back down. Riot yelped,his hind leg twitching as he was still unable to escape. He huffed, poking her plot; speaking a muffled, ‘you’.

She nodded. “Good boy.” And raised her flank, allowing the stallion to raise his head back up, blinking slowly, taking large gulps of air. She gave her rear a little shake. It was truly magnificent, like two bouncy pillows attached at the flank.

Octavia stood, smirking slightly. She placed a hoof on Vinyls shoulder. “I do believe your set is coming to an end.” Vinyls eyes widened, and she cursed loudly. The white mare bolted away, bouncing up the shorts steps to her little booth.

Riot sneezed loudly, shaking his head as he did so. “I think she tweaked my nose...”

The gray mare across from him chuckled lightly, sipping from her drink again. “Vinyl has always been......Defensive....Of her assets.” She said, blushing.

He nodded, quickly downing the rest of his nearly forgotten drink. “Yeah. She’s quick aggressive when it comes to stallions and her nethers.”

Octavia looked down, swirling her drink in her hooves, a sly smirk on her face. “You know, behind Vinyl’s bravado and boasting, she’s actually quite.....Insecure....She always strove to make ponies like her. She had trouble making friends when she was younger, foals can be quite cruel to one another, especially if one has such a striking difference as her crimson eyes.”

“Agreed.” Riot rubbed his temple with a hoof. “I don’t know Octavia...She’s been quite...Adamant about getting together with me. She’s a great pony, really, but I don’t know if we’d be good for each other. I’m uh… Not exactly great with relationships.” Riot pursed his lips for a moment as he thought his own words over. ‘That, and I’ve seen how she acts around a lot of the other stallions, I don’t want to be used and tossed, again.”

The gray mare sighed, swirling her drink again. “You can never be sure, Mr. Riot. I guess she just sees her advances as the best way to get together with somepony. She seems to really like you, Mr. Riot, and she wants to show it the only way she can.” She said, leaning back. “She can be....Unstable....At times.”

He laughed, shaking his head. “Yup. Volatile reactions and all that sod.” He sighed. “I don’t like being tossed to the side. The military did it to me too many times for it to be anywhere near fine for a mare to do it.” Riot rubbed his eyes. “But like you said. Can’t be sure.”

Octavia smiled, nodding. “I believe I will go and order some food, try out the cuisine.”

Riot shrugged, pointing at the bar. “Stay away from the quiche.” The grey mare nodded, bowing her thanks as she walked off. Riot did however notice the additional sway in her step. Maybe being a flank judge was in his best interest after all.

Standing, Riot quickly scanned the club, looking for trouble makers. Finding none, he quickly made his way to the new kitchen to check on Hunter. Once the thumping club was behind him, Riot trotted through the doors.

Wildman was busy working away at a vegi-wing that had somehow managed to become embedded in the roof. Hunter was watching happily, laughing every time Wildman cursed or tipped. Riot snuck up behind the colt, then pounced, blowing a loud raspberry into Hunters neck.

The colt squealed, limbs flailing about as Riot tickled him. Once he was nearly in tears, Riot let go, laughing as he hugged the small grey colt. “How’s my Hunter doing?” He asked, tussling the colts mane.

Hunter beamed, bouncing about the kitchen. “It’s great Dad! Thank you so much for bringing me! Uncle Sunny is showing me how to make food!” He smiled just as the ladder clattered to the ground. Riot looked up at the stallion who was now hanging from the wing by his teeth. Wild waved absently as he gnawed on the crunchy bit of food.

Riot smirked, holding his hoof around Hunters slightly broader shoulders. “Think you like working here?”

Hunter nodded happily. “Yep! I get good food and Uncle said I even get my own bits!”

“Great, then you’ll get to avoid the painstaking work of job hunting!” Riot chuckled, patting Hunter on the shoulder. “Sounds like things are slowing down out there. Might want to get ready for a bunch of food orders.” He stood up, then helped Wildman down with his magic. The red stallion huffed, looking up at the food stuff. Riot merely shook his head and trotted back out.

Once back out into the club, Riot was faced by a now throbbing group of drunken ponies, each too hammered to know that they couldn’t dance. At all. He rubbed his face, not wanting to have to drag them out individually. It was then that he spotted Lyra.

He smiled, happy that she was enjoy- His line of thought was cut off as she swayed, hitting the floor face first. Riot winced in sympathy, then started trotting over. Either she was going to be trampled, or she was going to puke all over the dance floor. Vinyl’d have his nuts if either happened.

Riot trotted over, pushing a few ponies out of the way as he moved forward. He kneeled down next to the mare; happy that she was still breathing, Riot lifted her up and tossed her over his shoulder.

Trotting up to bathroom, Riot brought her into a stall and sat her down next to it. The mare moaned in pain, slumping over the toilet. Riot sighed, running a hoof down her mane in an attempt to comfort her. Lyra belched, then puked loudly.

Riot sighed, holding her mane back. An off white mare trotted in, looking around. When she saw the two, she deflated. “Again?”

“Again.”

Bon Bon groaned in anger, trotting over to take his place. “Thanks for taking care of her. I didn’t even notice you take her.”

He shrugged, stepping back. “Didn’t want to see her get hurt.” He trotted to the sink, washing his hooves quickly. He could still smell Lyras heavy perfume on them, but he decided a solid shower would deal with that.

With the situation dealt with, he trotted back out, returning to the bar. Once he was there Berry passed him a beer. “Way to go Hero.” She whipped him with a bar towel as she smirked.

The top of the beer cracked open, and the bottles contents were quickly slugged back to eradicate the foul taste in his mouth. “Yeah. Super Bouncer, here to hold you over the toilet. Hurrah.” He tossed the empty bottle into the recycling bin. “Hur-fucking-rah.”

Berry smiled, placing her elbows on the bar and leaning on them as she braced her face with her hooves. “So. How’s your niiight been?”

The sudden change in her demeanor worried him. “Fiiine. Whyyyyy?”

She smiled coyly, running her hooves over the rim of a glass as a few ponies left the dancefloor and trotted out the door, either alone or with the opposite sex. Something felt off. Something was wrong.

He stepped off the bar and back onto the flat floor. Riot cocked his head to the side, only to have Berry grab his ears and hold him still as somepony jumped onto his back. Vinyl let out a triumphant giggle into his ear as she slapped his flank, earning a whinny of surprise. “Forward my trusty stead!” He couldn’t see what she was doing, but he knew she was going to pay dearly. A quick cuff to the flank sent him forward, and earned a round of laughter from the club patrons.

He circled around a few times, silently wondering if he should be happy for the exercise, or angry for the embarrassment. Riot figured he’d find out later. Vinyl waved to the ponies as the set finally came to a halt. “Alright everypony! Thanks for coming out tonight, and I hope to see you all tomorrow!” She laughed, holding her front hooves in the air as the ponies laughed, cheering her on as they filed out slowly.

Riot nickered, cocking his head to look at the mare who was still perched on his back. “Happy now?”

Vinyl cracked an evil grin, then laid down, snuggling into his back. “You’re comfy...I’ma sleep here.” At that, she started making fake snoring sounds, acting as if she were asleep. Riot groaned, now trotting towards the bar as the last of the patrons filed out. He tried to shake her off, but only managed in getting her to tighten her grip.

The barmare giggled, taking out a drink for herself. “Looks comfy Scratchy, can I come up?”

Riot deadpanned as Vinyl smirked. He pointed a hoof at her accusingly. “This is your fault dammit.”

She nodded, smiling still. “Mhmm! And I know there’s room for two up here!”

Vinyl sat up, laughing loudly as Kepler trotted into the kitchen. Vinyl slapped Riots flank again, motioning for Berry to come over. Riot growled, but quickly submitted as the mare took grip of his horn.

The weight of the two mares was...Uncomfortable. Thankfully, the most weight between them was Vinyls fat ass. Shiv chuckled.

The white mare smacked his ass as he thought outloud. “Hey! It’s not fat! It’s shapely you big jerk!”

Riot frowned at Shiv’s words coming out of his own mouth. He started searching for a place he could easily dump the pair of mares without actually hurting them. Despite everything, he had to admit it was actually kind of funny. Hunter bounced about visibly through the kitchen doors, talking to Kepler and Wildman. Kepler said something he couldn’t hear, then smiled widely as she chased Hunter out of the kitchen.

The colt ran away screaming happily as his Aunt chased him across the club dance floor. Riot watched them, chuckling as Hunter deftly avoided her by hurling cushions at her face. Kepler caught one square in the jaw and went down hard, skidding across the floor. Hunter ran forward a bit, then stopped. He giggled, not wanting to get any closer to the mare.

“You can’t fool me auntie!” No movement from Kepler. Hunters smile sagged a bit. “Auntie?” He trotted forward cautiously, then poked her with a hoof. “Auntie Kep?”

The mare pounced, roaring as the colt screamed. She tackled him, tickling the poor colt mercilessly as she pinned him down. Hunter screamed again, but it was quickly overtaken my fits of laughter.

Riot laughed, shaking his head. Berry had hopped off his back, finding that there actually wasn’t any room up there for her. Vinyl...Vinyl was too busy actually snoring away to notice anything. Berry leaned against him, giggling into her hoof. “Your kid’s awesome Riot, can we keep him?”

He snorted, shaking his head. “He’s mine, I called dibs.” The mare pouted. “Buut!” Her smile lifted. “He definitely likes working here, I’ll see what I can do about getting him in on the weekends as a dish cleaner. It’ll be good for him.” Riot smiled, watching as Kepler finally released Hunter after a certain amount of Uncles, pleases and ‘auntie Kepler is awesomes’.

Wildman had all but collapsed onto one of the couches; completely wiped from the nights work. Berry yawned, looking at a small watch. “Welp, I best be going. See you tomorrow Hun.” She kissed Riots cheek, earning the ghost of a smile.

He nodded to her, absent-mindedly looking around for Vinyls friend Octavia. “Yeah, see you around lass.”

Berry waved her goodbyes, then trotted out the door and into the dark. Riot settled for a soft smile, then trotted over to the couch that Wildman and Kepler were sharing as Hunter galloped up to Riot.

“Dadadad! I made twenty whole bits today!” He held up the coins, pride shining on every part of his face.

Riot laughed, nuzzling the colt. “That’s awesome Hunter! But did you get any tips?”

The colts eyes went wide, and he quickly searched his body. He came up empty, and slightly sad. “N-no...Is that a bad thing?”

Riot placed a hoof over Hunters ear, smiling broadly before cocking his head. “You need to try and look harder little buddy!” He pulled a coin out from behind Hunters ear, then hoofed it to him. “That’s twenty one bits! Good haul!”

Hunter gasped as the coin was pulled out. “How’d you do that!? That’s so cool!”

Riot and Kepler chuckled, sharing a quick knowing glance. “Family secret. I’ll tell you when you’re ready little guy.” Riot tousled Hunters mane, then looked at Kepler and the comatose Wildman. “I’m gonna get Vinyl to bed. Could you watch Hunter? I’ll be back in like five minutes.”

Kepler smirked, looking at the white pony on his back, who was busy snoring up a storm. “Sure. But you owe me big guy!”

Rolling his eyes, Riot nodded. “Fine. One Clover family hoof massage. But JUST. ONE.” He held up the hoof, clopping it on the floor once. “Got it?”

She nodded happily, picking up Hunter in her magic. “Sure! Hurry back lover colt!”

Riot nodded, then looked at Hunter. “I’ll be back in five Hunter, then I’ll take you home.”

The colt looked displeased at the last part of the statement, but nodded anyways. “‘Kay Dad....”

Riot breathed out, then nodded at the group. He about-faced, then started trotting towards the doors that led to the kitchen and the rest of Vinyls home. Once past the double doors, everything seemed quieter somehow. By the time he reached the stairs Vinyl had wrapped a pair of demure hooves around his neck as she nuzzled into his coat.

Climbing up the stairs, Riot easily found the single bedroom, just across from the small bathroom. He nudged the door open with his muzzle. He quickly reached the messy bed, then lifted Vinyl up with his magic. She stirred in her sleep, but didn’t wake up. Riot sighed as he placed her down on the mattress just as he finished adjusting the sheet. Vinyl curled up, shivering slightly. Riot grabbed the blanket with his teeth before pulling it over her form.

The mare sighed, snuggling into the mattress. Riot placed a hoof on her side as he sat near the edge of the bed. He rubbed her side gently, then kissed her forehead. “Sleep well little one...” He stood up, pacing towards the door. He stopped at the threshold, barely looking over his shoulder. “Good bye.”

Riot trotted down the stairs, only now noticing the sleeping form of Octavia on one of the couches. He shrugged, believing that Vinyl would only disapprove because she wasn’t in her bed.

He treaded back into the club, then waved to Hunter. The colt quickly hopped up, leaving Kepler and Wildman on the couch they had fallen asleep on. “Come on Hunter, let’s get you home. It’s past your bedtime.”

“Aww dad...I hate the new bedtime mom set up...” Hunter scuffed his hoof on the floor as they approached the door.

Riot sighed, holding the door open for Hunter. “I know buddy...How’s this sound, when you’re over at my place, you can stay up with me as long as you want, as long as it isn’t a school night.” The colt smiled, nuzzling against Riots hoof before yawning. Riot chuckled, picking him up in his magic and depositing his son on his back. He trotted up the stairs and out into the dark.

Riot looked around the empty street, then started off towards Auroras new home. He was thankful that Hunter had given him an address when he was still in the hospital, and that he still remembered it.

Something fluttered to the ground behind him about a block later, and managed to stop his heart dead.

“Put him down Ashfall.”

Riot turned around, beholding a very, very angry Aurora. Cheerilee trotted up behind her, scowling at the stallion.

Riot looked at Hunter, who was rubbing his eyes. “Momma? We were just-”

“Hunter T. Keliir-Venture! You will get down this instant and get your sorry butt over here this instant!” Aurora snapped at the colt, who shied away from the tongue lashing and the use of his full name.

“Don’t yell at Hunter Aurora! If you’re going to yell, aim it at me dammit!” Riot felt the colt tighten his grip on his mane.

The dark mare snorted angrily, treading closer to him. “Put him down you bastard! You’re not worthy of being called Father!”

He huffed, blocking her path to Hunter. “I’m keeping him safe Aurora! He came to me! He wanted to spend time with ME! Maybe if you spent more time with him, instead of your girlfriend he may actually respect YOU!”

Auroras features contorted in rage, and she slapped the slapped hard across the muzzle. “HOW DARE YOU! You cowardly fucker! I HOPE YOU BURN!”

Riot stood fast against Aurora. He felt Hunter crying into his mane, but he knew that If he didn’t let her take Hunter things would only degrade. The mare slapped him again, sending the sound reverberating down the empty street.

Riot scowled around his split lip. “Aurora, calm down. You’ve made Hunter cry dammit. Just lower your voice and I’ll-” She slapped him again, driving him back a step as she hovered in front of his face.

“I’ll do what I damn well please you creator damned bastard!” She raised a hoof to slap him again, only to have it caught and dragged down she that she was staring into Riot’s eyes. No, Shiv’s eyes. He threw her hoof away like it was diseased.

“STOP. I told you to calm down and stop scaring our son, and so help me Celestia, you will CALM. THE FUCK. DOWN.” The blood pumping through his veins made him feel light headed and angry. The desire to bury his hoof into her smug muzzle pressed against the back of his eyes.

The mare balked a bit at the fire in his eyes, but she maintained her scowl. “Hunter, get over here. I’m taking you away from this monster.” The colt only buried his muzzle further into Riots shoulder, crying openly. She stomped her hoof. “Hunter! You’ve got till the count of three!”

Riot turned himself so he could nuzzle Hunter. He spoke quietly, trying to calm the shaking colt. “It’s alright Hunter, be strong, be strong for me.”

“One!”

The colt looked up at him, blinking away tears. He sniffed sadly, then hugged the stallion neck tightly. “I love you dad...”

“Two!”

Hunter slowly climbed down from Riots back, but didn’t leave him. Instead he clung to the bucks leg for dear life. “I changed my mind momma! I don’t wanna go!”

“THREE!” Aurora yelled out as Riot hung his head, tears streaking his own cheeks. He didn’t see Cheerilee try and dissuade the mare, and he didn’t see Aurora roughly push her away. Aurora grabbed Hunter by the nape of his neck, lifting him up as he balled. Riot scowled, but didn’t say anything as the trio disappeared into the dark.

He sat there for a moment, doing his best to suppress the desire to chase them down. By the time Riot opened his eyes, the trio had long since disappeared.

Riot sighed heavily, slowly dragging himself up. He changed direction for the motel, hoping that he had remembered his key.
__________________________________________________________________________

Riot nudged his motel door open, walking in blindly through the dark. The stallion flicked on the nightstand light, but didn’t kick back or strip down. He merely sat there, staring into the floor.

He took a breath, but smelled something off... He looked over, only to see a still slightly fresh Cupcake, with a small note attached.

He picked up the note and unfolded it.

Sorry for scaring you earlier, can we still be friends? PP

He chuckled, placing the note back on the stand. Riot eyed the confectionary weakly. “Sure Pinkie...I’ll always be your friend...” He coughed wetly, then tossed his now heavy jacket into the corner. He realized that he had left his duffel at Vinyls, but figured he could get it in the morning.

He was too beat to get up anymore. His split lip had finally stopped bleeding, but blood still stained his chin and beard. He would definitely be bruised tomorrow.

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